Friday, September 10, 2010

Europe vs. America

I have been to Europe twice, once to England and once to Italy. Both were fantastic trips, beautiful countries with much to see, learn, and do. But Europe is certainly different from the US, in both good ways and bad. So I've set out to settle the score on the long-standing Northern-Hemisphere rivalry: which side of the Atlantic is better? I've broken up the contest into several categories, some serious, some comical, and others trivial, with each worth one point. Whichever side gets the more points wins.

History: Europe wins. In America, we think the freakin' Liberty Bell is old. In Rome, you can dine in a 2,000 year old bathhouse from the Roman Empire, then bike over to the colluseum or the Vatican. Of course, we'd probably have some pretty cool history too had the Native Americans discovered the written language and all, but since they didn't our schoolchildren are made to believe the world was created in 1492. Europe 1, USA 0

Sports: USA wins. Don't get me wrong, both are passionate. In America, sports fans are passionate in their support of their favorite teams. In Europe, sports fans are passionate in their support of their favorite team. Note the lack of an s. All they have is soccer! And don't give me cricket or rugby, those are and England-only thing. Besides, cricket is wannabee baseball, and rugby is wannabee football. In America we have a professional league for just about any sport you can fathom, and we're damn good at them. There's a reason the USA cleans up in the Olympics every year, and it's the same reason the best Baseball, Football, Basketball, and Hockey players in the world come to the American Leagues to play: we run sports. Besides, soccer is closer to acting than a real sport. Come to think of it, I am forgetting one true sport that the USA just can't compete with Europe in: diving. Europe 1, USA 1

Chocolate: Europe wins by far. Hershey is kinda cute for a candy bar. Nestle requires Rice Krispies to keep it's Crunch bar on the market. Now compare that to Toblerone (swedish)...or Ghiraldelli (italian)...not to mention the creme-de-la-creme: Belgian chocolate. That, folks, is chocolate. What we have is chocolate flavored. Europe 2, USA 1

Driving: Europe wins. Smaller cars. Smaller roads. Smaller gas consumption. Smaller dent on the environment. Smaller amount of money spent on all of it. Smaller amount of accidents, and smaller numbers of people who die from them. Smaller likelihood their car companies will need to be bailed out by the government. Europe 3, USA 1

Humility: Tie. At first I meant this to go to Europe, because many americans are brazen, arrogant, and obnoxious. Then I remembered France was in Europe. Tie. Nobody gets any points, still Europe 3, USA 1

Freedom: USA wins. Europe is totally socialist, and they're beginning to run out of other people's money. See Greece. See France. The "universal everything!" philosophy limits their economies and leaves individuals with virtually no economic freedom whatsoever. It kills innovation, and forces them to mooch off of us for technology. We really are the land of the free. Europe 3, USA 2

Military: USA wins. This is the only explanation you need: http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/text/france.html
Europe 3, USA 3

Frozen Treats: Europe wins. One word: Gelato. Creamier, tastier, more refreshing, less melty ice cream. It may be the 8th wonder of the world. Europe 4, USA 3

Bathroom Expenses: Get this--in Italy, they charge you 2 euro (like 3 bucks) to go use the restroom! Screw that! Im about to piss on your 2000 year old wall if you don't get the hell out my way and lemme use the freaking urinal! Europe 4, USA 4.

Measuring System: Europe wins. Metric system > english system by far. everything's in multiples of ten. They have the same prefixes for everything, irrespective of unit. We, on the other hand, pull numbers out of our ass, pulled words out of our ass, and randomly assembled them in a chain. 12 inches in a foot, 3 feet in a yard, 1760 yards in a mile. 8 ounces in a cup, 2 cups in a pint, 2 pints in a quart, 4 quarts in a gallon...AHHHH! Even the English know better than to use the Enlgish system. Europe 5, USA 4

Geography: Tie. Europe has the Alps, we have the Rockies. Europe has the Mediterranean and Atlantic, we have the Atlantic and the Pacific. They have nicer beaches, we have nicer waves. Their beaches are topless, but that includes old folks. Both are beautiful in different ways, simply a matter of preference. Still Europe 5, USA 4.

Portion Sizes: USA wins. Yes, we're obese. Yes, we eat too much. Yes, the portion sizes are out of control. But I don't care. I'm a 6 feet tall high school senior and I don't yet weigh 150 pounds. My metabolism is fast and I plan to use it. Italian food is delicious, but a "bowl of pasta" is served in a teacup. The French have outstanding chef's, but their dinner plates are as big as CD's. I want a big mac value meal with an Extra-Large DQ Blizzard and a 7-Up Big Gulp to wash it all down. Not because I'll finish it all, not because I need that much food, but because I'm a red-blooded american and because I can. Europe 5, USA 5.

Which means, unless I come up with more categories, it's a draw. Both nice places. But I personally value the "Freedom/Government" one as worthy of 10 points on its own, so I'm happy to live here in the states.

3 comments:

  1. Well written! I agree with all except History. While perhaps the physical history of Europe architecturally, etc. far exceeds the U.S., I think that figuratively what America stands for in terms of Freedom, historically has changed the shape of so many other nations. (or has at least tried to). Perhaps you can assign a weighted average scoring system to these categories based on importance. Might filter out a winner.

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  2. A bit poor, I'm afraid.

    You don't "wipe the floor" at the Olympics, and most of the major European nations win far more medals per capita than the US. The sports you dominate are largely US-centric. Football, however much you don't regard it, is the only true global sport. And you don't dominate that, or anywhere even close. Basically, unless you're good at football, you can say what you like about other sports (there's a reason it's called AMERICAN football...), but nobody outside your borders will care one jot.

    I'd also take issue with military (the Europeans have been fighting bloody wars since you were but a twinkle in the Anglo-Saxon eyes - you're the new kids on the block, in a historical context) and freedom (Sweden and Norway have the most economic freedom of just about any nation in the world, and they're avowed socialists, Germany only lags behind China in terms of exports, and several European nations top the US in quality-of-life measures (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quality-of-life_index), including freedom of expression and representation).

    The rest, I can get on board with, bar one minor thing. France-bashing is old, and typically based on outdated stereotypes. I've never had anything but pleasant experiences there, and they are historically one of the most successful military powers in Europe. I suspect that if the US (or anyone else) had been right next door to Germany in WW2, they wouldn't have lasted any longer than the French. And the French resistance was one of the most formidable groups of freedom fighters we've seen in any war. They did the best that they could have done, really.

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  3. "Most major European nations win far more medals per capita than the US." - oh, well that's quite a different game, isn't it? who said we're playing per capita? I said we dominate the olympics because we win more medals than any other country. which we do. also, it's mighty easy to say "oh, well football is the only sport that really counts" when your country is good at football, isn't it? there as no such thing as "one true sport," there are hundreds practiced all over the world, and popularity does not make one superior to the other. the nonbiased, multinational olympic committee is what determines which sports are sufficiently global to include in the olympics. the two most popular sports in the US, baseball and american football, are not among them. yet the US still wins the medals count in everything else combined nearly every olympics. what makes the US unique is that we are so diverse and widespread that we can compete at an elite level in many different sports, not just one.

    age has absolutely no bearing on military prowess, as you suggested. that we are "the new kids on the block" doesn't change the fact that we are more powerful than any nation in europe. as for freedom, it is laughable to hear you say norway and sweden have more economic freedom than the US. socialism is by it's very definition a restriction on economic liberty. (http://the-thought-that-counts.blogspot.com/2011/05/economic-freedom-as-defined-by-milton.html) part of economic liberty means the ability to spend one's money however one sees fit, and that's mighty difficult when the typical worker receives 40% of his income after the tax wedge, not to mention the 25% Value Added Tax on most purchases. Taxation is over half of GDP, over twice that of the US, and spending is equally obscene. People may have some economic freedom with the money they are allowed to keep, but they certainly have none with the other 60%. With that said, I do applaud much of the work Sweden is doing to make itself closer to a free market through deregulation and other steps.

    I don't mean to bash France as a nation, and I imagine if I went there I would have a pleasant experience as well. But militarily, they've deserved the ire they've recieved. and i garuntee you that if the US was "right next to germany", germany would've had a hell of a time invading, just thanks to pure size differential. you know how i know that? because a far more impoverished neighbor of similar size did succeed in staving off the germans. that nation was russia, and the US army was much more effective than the russian army was. you're correct that the french resistance was laudable, but the military itself was not impressive.

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