Dinesh D’Souza wrote a compelling Why I am an Anti-Anti American . (Thanks, Binkley). It is a little too rosy-colored (look at murder rate, CO2 emissions, failure to ratify the ICC and gross military expenditures). I have usually been surprised at how many of my European friends preferred living in the Netherlands, New Zealand or Canada. D’Souza writes, “America has achieved greater social equality than any other society. True, there are large inequalities of income and wealth in America. In purely economic terms, Europe is more egalitarian. But Americans are socially more equal than any other people, and this is unaffected by economic disparities. Alexis de Tocqueville noticed this egalitarianism a century and a half ago and it is, if anything, more prevalent today. For all his riches, Bill Gates could not approach the typical American and say, “Here’s a $100 bill. I’ll give it to you if you kiss my feet.” Most likely, the person would tell Gates to go to hell! The American view is that the rich guy may have more money, but he isn’t in any fundamental sense better than anyone else. “
Peacecorpswriters.org is a literary site with great travel essays. Looking in the archives, I found this essay about anAmazing Postcard. In the early 1960’s, a PCV from Nigeria sent a postcard which jeopardized the entire Peace Corps program. One forgets how much impact that words (especially carelessly chosen ones!) can have.
For an idea about what my Peace Corps experiences look like, look at this Albania Peace Corps weblog. Unfortunately, it has not been updated recently. This is a really cool idea–overseas Americans blogging about their experiences. Sinosplice, for example, keeps a list of TOEFL Teachers in China.
I talked to a pregnant Chinese woman at my apartment complex yesterday, and she reminded me about China’s strict one child policies. One can argue about whether this policy is humane or even necessary (I for one feel that economic prosperity will do more to reduce the birth rate than any law), but she made an interesting point. She said that it reduces the number of aunts and uncles that future children will have to practically zero. Eventually, it will make the extended family a thing of the past. One only wonders what are the social and political implications of that.