The American Lifestyle is Shit

Cory Doctorow from BoingBoing had this ridiculously spot on commentary to say about the American lifestyle:

Well, America has lots of weird consumption inefficiencies, especially away from the coastal cities where we’re encouraged to own a lot more house, car and material goods than we need. I’d be more interested in how much it would take to provide every person in the world the kind of life they enjoy in one of the moderate-priced European “B” cities like Florence. Walkable places with incredible food, design, manufacturing, schools, racial diversity, etc. Places with great public transit AND a high level of private vehicle ownership, as well as universal health-care, cheap or free universities, and refreshing absence of paranoid security theater aimed at eliminating abstract nouns like “terror.”

The American lifestyle frankly sucks. The media is generally shit. The food stinks. We spend too much time in traffic and too much time taking care of a badly built McHouse that has the ergonomics of a coach seat on a discount airline. Add to that the lack of health care (just listened to a Stanford lecture about the American Couple that cited a study that determined that the single biggest predictor of long-term marital happiness is whether both partners have health care), the enormous wealth-gap between the rich and poor, blisteringly expensive tertiary education, an infant mortality rate that’s straight out of Victorian England, and a national security apparat that shoves its fist up my asshole every time I get on an airplane, and I don’t think that this country is much of a paragon of quality living.

America has lots going for it — innovation, the Bill of Rights, a willingness to let its language mutate in exciting and interesting ways, but the standard of living is not America’s signal virtue.

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4 thoughts on “The American Lifestyle is Shit

  1. Anonymous

    Not to sound like an american exceptionalist, but Doctorow glosses over obvious problems in Europe. For example, Doctorow’s out of his mind if he thinks Europe has greater racial diversity than the states. As someone who’s actually seen the arab ghettos in and around paris (albeit through a car window, if you are white you CANNOT walk around there safely, and not in the way you wouldn’t want to take a stroll in the South Bronx), it’s twice as bad as anything I’ve seen in US. Arabs in Europe are a permanant underclass in a way much more worse than African-Americans are here. You will never see anyone who isn’t white (or possibly of West African descent) if you walk around the wealthy or even middle class portions of the major Western European cities, which isn’t the case in NYC, Boston, LA, etc. Also, the food stinks in London (not just treading on stereotypes on that one), and, although it’s improving, public transit is woeful in Rome and Florence. Also, Florence is a terrible example of a ‘B’ city. Its population is under 400000. If you want a comparison, New Haven is just under 600000. Of course you can walk through Florence (which has very little public transit), because it’s absolutely tiny.I won’t even go to much into Cory Doctorow. BoingBoing is brilliant, but I don’t quite trust the word of someone who dropped out of college four times (wikipedia) or says ‘we’ when he’s not American and has never even lived in the US! Doctorow grew up in Canada and now lives in London (wikipedia). He’s more de Toqueville than the internal critic you bought him to be (and he played himself off as). Except I’ve read de Toqueville, and Holly, Cory Doctorow is no de Toqueville.Sincerely,Someone who really wants to live abroad post-Wesleyan

  2. Anonymous

    Not to sound like an american exceptionalist, but Doctorow glosses over obvious problems in Europe. For example, Doctorow’s out of his mind if he thinks Europe has greater racial diversity than the states. As someone who’s actually seen the arab ghettos in and around paris (albeit through a car window, if you are white you CANNOT walk around there safely, and not in the way you wouldn’t want to take a stroll in the South Bronx), it’s twice as bad as anything I’ve seen in US. Arabs in Europe are a permanant underclass in a way much more worse than African-Americans are here. You will never see anyone who isn’t white (or possibly of West African descent) if you walk around the wealthy or even middle class portions of the major Western European cities, which isn’t the case in NYC, Boston, LA, etc.

    Also, the food stinks in London (not just treading on stereotypes on that one), and, although it’s improving, public transit is woeful in Rome and Florence. Also, Florence is a terrible example of a ‘B’ city. Its population is under 400000. If you want a comparison, New Haven is just under 600000. Of course you can walk through Florence (which has very little public transit), because it’s absolutely tiny.

    I won’t even go to much into Cory Doctorow. BoingBoing is brilliant, but I don’t quite trust the word of someone who dropped out of college four times (wikipedia) or says ‘we’ when he’s not American and has never even lived in the US! Doctorow grew up in Canada and now lives in London (wikipedia). He’s more de Toqueville than the internal critic you bought him to be (and he played himself off as). Except I’ve read de Toqueville, and Holly, Cory Doctorow is no de Toqueville.

    Sincerely,
    Someone who really wants to live abroad post-Wesleyan

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