Nov 30, 2012 - londonista    5 Comments

Thoughts on US and UK

One of the more interesting aspects about living in both the US and the UK is seeing how both countries are so different philosophically. I think in America most of us have inherited that Protestant work ethic; that every person should try to work hard in order to succeed in life. People still believe in the American dream; that someone who is a janitor’s son can one day grow up and go to Harvard, that an immigrant with nothing can soon have a big house in the suburbs, a flat screen TV and an SUV along with everyone else. Although I must say, this has dissipated a lot under our current economic woes it still flows through our blood. Republicans rant and rave about big government and how poor people are bleeding the public, but we can’t disprove this American dream regardless of how much of a ‘fantasy’ it may be.

 

In the UK, they don’t have the concept of the ‘American dream’ but they do believe that each person has rights that should be provided to them, like medical, social and job help to those who need it. Although again there’s a lot of hatred towards “immigrants” that come in and try to take advantage of those rights, they still have a completely different idea of what their state should be. It’s rather fascinating that every person here has access to healthcare no matter what, that each area has a job center which does everything in its power to help get people work (including tweeting new jobs on an hourly basis), and that workers have a lot more fundamental rights from their employers.

 

As an American it kind of feels nice to have that ‘safety net’ of the state there. It’s nice to think if I get very sick or lose my job, I won’t lose everything to medical costs or be on the street dying and that someone will be there to help me. The only problem is the very rigid race and class lines in British society tend to ruin the niceties of living here. London is sooo multi-ethnic and cultural and incredibly beautiful, but there is just no shared society here, no ‘friendliness’, no culture of progressiveness. I say this as a foreigner coming in, of course, but when Europeans lament over how foreigners (and especially Mozlims) can’t integrate, they’re not kidding. They just can’t integrate even if they wanted to. It just does not have the ‘melting pot’ American history and culture. Part of it is big city living, everyone out to survive in the urban jungle, but part of it is fundamental racist and classist history. There are no suburbs because it is too expensive and too racist to move out!

 

I’ll be honest, unless they fix this, their country is just not going to survive in the world. Their society will always be divided and conflicted. The riots last year showed definite deep problems here but seem to have been glossed over. Thirty years ago my father made the decision of the US over the UK solely because of that reason. Can you even fix hundreds of years of colonial thought and manifest destiny? I guess it remains to be seen!

 

PS. Hope this doesn’t offend any UKers here! Still trying to figure out your country and it does have a lot to offer ;D

 

5 Comments

  • cool post! cant wait for more US vs. America posts!

  • Hmm… free health care might be worth being considered a second class citizen by Will and Kate :wink:

    What you said about integration and an ethic of working are some of the things I miss and love most about the U.S., that I think are lacking or flawed in many other places in the world. In terms of class, there are still problems, but at least they are recognized as such and studied that way (by people who study race, class etc) and I think its something that naturally clashes with our thinking about where our society should be going.

    Also the idea that if you are creative and work hard that you can succeed, without dependance on who you know, what connections your family has or how much money you already have, is so beautiful and should really be treasured. Such an idea is unfathomable in many places where you are automatically at a disadvantage if you are a ‘nobody’, poor, or don’t have a ‘waasita’/ connections to help you get in the door.

    salaam

  • Hope no one thought I was being too harsh! There are a lot of nice things here that the US definitely DOESNT have and can learn from. I’ll write about them more later!!

    Adi lol if I do will you consider moving out here? :)

    S. It’s true the whole ‘equality melting pot’ thing just doesn’t exist outside of America. It’s seriously it’s major strength. I just hope ppl don’t mess it up with all the stuff going on these days!!

  • UK is a bit welfare country not because there is some deep human concern,love,care or respect for human being,in UK’s establishment or political elite but it was a need back in cold war.
    USSR Communism was at its peak and basic necessities of life including health was responsibility of government in USSR,that was appealing to rest of European people so political elite and establishment of different European countries adopted a policy that somehow counter communism ,they adopted welfare state policy and share the burden of life with its people by introducing more Taxes hahhaha clever isn’t it????

    USA was far away and USA has always been a country of immigrants but not the European countries, so USA is more open to all kind of immigrants Asian Africans and Europeans etc.

    i usually talk to British National Party(BNP) people via there websites and they are deadly serious to get rid of immigrants from their country,BNP is gaining popularity among English masses.UK government still has roll and influence in Commonwealth countries so the UK establishment can not close their doors for their old slave countries,so they are taking measures to cap down immigrants.if they do not, BNP will gain more popularity and eventually got power ,once BNP is in power Queen of England will face a real problem and her kingdom will shrink to her castle only hahahh.
    ALL Indian and Pakistanis will have to move back to their homelands so others too.yes this is right European immigrants will face serious riots and unacceptance in future.USA immigrants will not face such problems.your father’s farsighted and wise thinking must be appreciated.

  • Insightful post Sis J!

    When my mom was there in the late 70s, she felt England wasn’t friendly to us brown folks and thus favored leaving after marriage for the US. I have to agree, the society seems very fractured today, even though there is a good mix of people and of course, a much more strong presence of brown people/Muslims. Interesting to hear about your father’s decision.

    One thing that I sort of don’t like is that there sections where brown people just live in these “ghettos” – don’t get me wrong, it’s great to be around your own people (culturally and religiously), but as you said, these issues surrounding the different communities needs to change.

    Anyways, will be nice to get your perspective, having had time in both places, especially as your time there in England progresses.