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Domestic USA good/bad

  1. Jun 26, 2005 #1
    The USA has its own (culture and system of government) USAx. USAx has had an (impact) USAy on the day-to-day lives of the "average" USA citizens. USAy does not include international relations, or intangibles such as "the economy" or ideals/rights that do not affect most citizens, but only includes final physical consequences for USA citizens' day-to-day lives. Compared to average Ny for other developed countries N, how is USAy better or worse?

    Better:
    More stuff--USA citizens buy and use more stuff than people in other developed countries.
    Worse:
    Working hours--USA citizens tend to work longer hours.
    Health--Especially obesity and obesity-related disease.
    Education--USA citizens are less informed, particularly about science.
     
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  3. Jun 26, 2005 #2

    brewnog

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    I'm not entirely sure what's going on here, but my thoughts:

    Why is this necessarily better? USA citizens also waste a lot more stuff than people in other developed countries.

    I think this one is a double-edged sword, many (maybe not myself!) would argue that the actual healthcare received is better than other developed countries, as a result of the US being at the forefront of medical technologies.
     
  4. Jun 26, 2005 #3
    Stuff is a plus for USA citizens or they wouldn't buy it. Environmental impact (Waste) perhaps is not part of USAy--it only has direct impact on USA citizens in noticeably polluted areas. Pollution? Does USA expose the average citizen to more pollution than other developed countries do? I don't know.

    Better:
    More stuff--USA citizens buy and use more stuff than people in other developed countries.
    Healthcare--USA healthcare is technologically advanced
    Worse:
    Working hours--USA citizens tend to work longer hours.
    Health--Especially obesity and obesity-related disease.
    Education--USA citizens are less informed, particularly about science.
     
  5. Jun 26, 2005 #4

    brewnog

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    I was talking about this with my family the other day, although with no particular regard to the US. We thought it was weird how everyone seems to say that the quality of living is so much better than, say, 30 or 50 years ago. But we forget that back then, the norm was for one member of the household (the father) to go out to work, and for 'wifey' to stay at home cooking and cleaning. Nowadays, the norm tends to be for both parents to go out to earn, yet the standard of living remains comparable.
     
  6. Jun 26, 2005 #5
    America lives on credit. The average debt per household is around $7000 in revolving debt(estimate only so don't crucify me). Americans have the buy now, pay later philosophy, which is the misrepresented "appearance of wealth".
     
  7. Jun 26, 2005 #6

    Moonbear

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    I can't speak for your experiences in Britain, but since I was around 30 years ago (but not 50), I've experienced the standard of living on both ends. We do have a higher standard of living now, or at least a very different standard. When I was a kid and most families had just one working parent (that was changing while I was a kid, and moms would stay home only until the kids got into school, and then returned to work), the basics were the same, if not better: we had food for 3 meals a day, but even better, it was home-cooked for every meal and we sat down as a family to eat it together; the ideal was to own your own home and have a little property; healthcare was readily available, though paid for in cash...not many people that I knew of had health insurance other than for hospitalization, but routine check-ups and doctors' visits weren't that outrageously expensive either. But, there were things that now every household is expected to own that didn't even exist then, and increase the cost of living, you can argue whether they increase the quality of living. Most families had one car then - if the wife needed it for errands during the day, she dropped her husband off at work and picked him up at the end of the day, now families seem to have more cars than drivers and keep increasing the size of the vehicles well beyond what they actually need. There was no such thing as a microwave oven, a dishwasher, or a frost-free freezer (I think those might have been available, but we didn't own one yet when I was a kid). Homes had a washer but not all had a dryer and instead hung the clothes out to dry. There was no color TV (the ONE black and white TV was a piece of furniture in the living room), cable and/or satellite TV (you had the major networks and PBS to choose from, and that was it). I can't quite recall when we got the first portable radio, but it was mostly used for listening for weather emergencies at first. There were no personal computers, fax machines, answering machines, cordless phones (there was one phone in most houses, usually in the kitchen), VCRs, DVDs, a lot of houses didn't have central air-conditioning, no cell phones, pagers, or PDAs, no hot tubs at private homes, no whirlpool tubs in the bathrooms, bathrooms were small and functional, just enough room for your tub, toilet, sink and linen closet, no grandiose bathrooms that look like spas. Oh, and once you get two people out working and have all those rooms and all that yard to maintain, you now need to hire someone to do your landscaping and to do your housekeeping.

    When you start adding up the costs of all those doodads that we consider "necessities" nowadays, but didn't even exist then, and consider how often they will be replaced (I know people who buy new cars every 3 years), it costs a lot more to maintain the "average" lifestyle nowadays. At least here in the US, the way the average person lives now is how only the rich lived back 30 years ago. Has it really raised the standard of living though...are we better off with this stuff than we were without it? I don't know. If anything, I think it has left us worse off with less quality time to spend with our children and family, less time to prepare proper meals to maintain good health, less satisfaction with what we do have.

    Though I'm seeing a shift, at least among the people I know, toward something different. With both parents working now, I see more men starting to take work home, spending one day a week telecommuting so they can spend that time with their young children. I see more fathers taking on the primary childcare responsibilities because they just love it and enjoy being dads. It used to be that once you had a kid, the father had to start putting in longer hours at work to support the growing family. Now I see a different trend, men and women who put in the long hours and hard work to build up their savings, and then have children and then start cutting back their work hours to be home with the children more.

    So, I think I have to agree with brewnog that "more stuff" isn't necessarily a good thing. But, I think it's more for the intangible reasons, the things you need to give up to acquire the stuff, like quality family time. Since the original question is only asking about tangible things, I don't know if any of this really fits into the list BT is creating.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2005
  8. Jun 26, 2005 #7
    Debt is not part of USAy. It is one of the "intangibles" that is not a direct physical end result. Stress as a result of debt is part of USAy, but are Americans more stressed than the norm? I don't know.

    In Ny for other developed countries N, I don't know whether it is more or less common for 2 parents to work.

    USAy is the end results, things important in themselves. So "more stuff" must be judged as good or bad based on its own merit, not on its indirect consequences such as pollution or more work. For each item on the USAy list, the question to ask is, "if this item were brought back to the normal level for developed countries, and all other items on the list remained unchanged, would USA citizens be better or worse off?" If you kept everything else on the list the same but took away the extra stuff USA citizens have, then USA citizens would be worse off, so "more stuff" is a "better" item.

    Better:
    More stuff--USA citizens buy and use more stuff than people in other developed countries.
    Healthcare--USA healthcare is technologically advanced
    Worse:
    Working hours--USA citizens tend to work longer hours.
    Health--Especially obesity and obesity-related disease.
    Education--USA citizens are less informed, particularly about science.
    Unconfirmed: pollution average citizen is exposed to, stress of average citizen which is perhaps debt-related, 2 parents working
     
  9. Jun 27, 2005 #8
    Actually, the original question only excludes "intangibles such as 'the economy.'" Notice that the original list has "work hours" on it, so clearly family time would be considered part of USAy.

    ----------------------------

    As a halfway-there conclusion I would say, based on this list, that the USA government and lifestyle (USAx) has been less effective than that of other developed countries at improving the day-to-day lives of its citizens. Long working hours, obesity, and subpar education clearly outweigh the benefits of technologically advanced healthcare and the possession of many physical objects.
     
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