If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I travel a lot. Enough, at least, I think, to appreciate what makes America such a great place to live when compared to the rest of the world. And by that I mean, how easy and convenient our country is for the average citizen. I am not talking about nebulous and unmeasurable concepts like freedom and opportunity here. I’m talking about the things that make your day-to-day life easier, like:
Clean water-Even the smallest town in the good ole’ USA has relatively clean, drinkable water right from the tap. Try that in Mexico, and you’ll have such a serious case of Montezuma’s revenge that it will make the porcelain throne your favorite lounge chair for a week.
Security-Most American homes don’t have burglar bars because they don’t need them. Nor are they in walled compounds topped with razor wire or broken glass. You can leave your home without these extra precautions and have a reasonable chance of returning without incident. The ugly sight of these security measures in almost every developing country is a sure sign of societal failure. The hotel I just left in Peru had an electric fence AND a roving guard. There’s a reason for that, and it ain’t good.
Honest officials-You may not like your traffic ticket or your tax bill, but at least you know that bribing the official won’t help, and will probably earn you a free ride to the county jail. By and large, the government workers you’re likely to run into in the USA are honest. On the other hand, I once had to buy my black market Russian visa from a shady character behind a steel door in a dingy part of Kiev, and I’ve had to pay cops off in Panama and the Dominican Republic just for the offense of driving while gringo.
Clean streets-God bless the trash collectors! In most places in America, you can walk down the sidewalk without tripping over a pile of rubbish. You don’t have to drive around them or smell them either. Nor do you have to watch stray dogs (and even pigs in Asuncion) searching for dinner there. Speaking of which…
Animals are humanely treated in America-I’ve met plenty of animal rescue people in the USA, and their efforts are paying off. It’s rare in the neighborhoods that I go through to see stray dogs or even cats, and when they are seen, there are people who try to take care of them. Unfortunately, the pitiful sight of a starving dog too weak to move is commonplace in much of the developing world.
Public Safety-You can go about your everyday business in the USA without having to worry about a near-death experience. Standards are maintained, whether it be road maintenance, food handling, building architecture, or travel safety. Chances are, the office building you’re working in won’t collapse, your plane won’t run out of fuel, the pothole won’t swallow your car, and crossing the street isn’t a test of your speed and agility. I was once warned by a Paraguayan attorney in Asuncion to make sure I walked under a strong canopy while downtown because the concrete chunks from decaying high-rises occasionally rain down on the hapless pedestrians below.
Free restrooms-If you’ve ever traveled in Europe or the Middle East, you know it’s wise to carry some extra change with you in case of a bathroom emergency. Here in the States, we have lots of free public toilets. No, they aren’t always the cleanest, but they still beat the horrific holes in the ground you must pay for in Istanbul.
Most things work on time-Whether you’re talking about the post office, local businesses, or the church social, most things run on time and deliver what they promise. Mail something across the country here, and it’ll get there within a few days almost every time. By contrast, I once mailed a letter to Belize that took a full month to get to its destination. It left the USA in 2 days and was in the capable hands of the Belizean post office for the rest of that time, and keep in mind, you can literally circumnavigate Belize on foot in less time than that.
You can buy anything here, cheap-Just about, anyway. The entire world exports everything to us, and you can buy it cheaper in some cases than in the country it came from. The selection for any kind of consumer good…electronics, food, automobiles, furniture, jewelry, clothing…is not only extensive, it’s usually available within a 30 minute drive of your house. I once visited a border town between Bolivia and Peru whose sole business was in the black marketeering of items not available in the two respective countries. And I once had to buy a TomTom (GPS) in Seville, Spain that cost about 30% more than the same model here in the USA.
Clean air-Even LA isn’t so bad anymore, but try not to visit a city like Medellin, Columbia without a mask. And Guayaquil, Ecuador is so bad that your eyes will sting before you even get out of the airport.
There’s really much more than that, but the point is, there is no country on earth so convenient and easy to live in as the USA for people of modest means. No, we are not in fact number one in anything anymore when it comes to lifestyle, but we are way up the list on most. Sure, if you have the money, you will find Switzerland to be both cleaner and safer. And it’s true that, unfortunately, we’re declining in some respects. That said, I’m glad to call the USA home, and a lot of people around the world wish they could call it home as well. I know this because they’re voting with their feet and moving here whether they’re invited or not.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’ve investigated the possibility of living in another country for some time now. In fact, I have 2 permanent residencies and 2 properties that I’ve recently purchased outside our own borders. Nor have I fully discounted the idea. But I will say that, as much as I (and others I know) tend to complain about our country, the reality of living overseas means giving up a lot of what we Americans take for granted. I would have previously said that living somewhere in Europe was a desirable alternative, but now that they’re under a Muslim invasion, the Old Continent doesn’t have the same cache’ for me as it used to (save for a few eastern European countries). And while Canada is a great place in many ways, the taxes make New Yawk seem like a libertarian paradise, and the political correctness is positively nauseating.
So, in short, I’m lucky I was born here, and I’m likely to stay put! At least in the winter, that is…:))