Escape your life for a little while — come play in mine.

What she said!

Posted by Lissa on September 10, 2008

Why can’t I write like this?

Not one of these nations or cultures is doing anything better than we are. They have all the same problems the U.S. has, and most of them have far, far worse problems on top of that. Sure, we have racism in America, just like every other place in the world, but we don’t have genocide. We have poor people, just like every other place in the world, but we don’t have starvation.

We have crime, just like every other place in the world, but at least we can defend ourselves with effective weapons, and our judicial system, though flawed, is no worse than any other and a hell of a lot better than most. We have teen pregnancy and abortion, just like every other place in the world, but our women have more choices in life than the vast majority of the women on this planet.

Right on!  There are things that are wrong in our lives and our local governments.  There are problems that we should work on solving.  Corruption is always a bad thing.  Injustice is always a bad thing.  Racism and sexism are always bad things.  Lack of access to healthcare and to education are always bad things.  BUT THERE ISN’T ANYWHERE ON EARTH WHERE THESE THINGS DON’T EXIST.

You cannot make me believe I live in a terrible country — The Worst Country in the World, even — just because we have problems.  There are problems anywhere.

I said something roughly like that to my youngest brother Kevin (not his real name).  I was trying to point out that if a system fails 5%, or 10% of its people, that doesn’t make it awful or evil.  Maybe that’s just the best that can be done.  Can you find a way to get a 100% success rate?  Good for you!  Are you going to try and help those 5% or 10% find a different system, or stop falling through the cracks?  Good for you!  But before you decide to mess with a system that WORKS for 95% of its people you have to recognize that THE SYSTEM IS WORKING FOR THE VAST MAJORITY OF PEOPLE.

As PJ O’Rourke once wrote (paraphrased from Eat the Rich), 3% unemployment is nothing, considering that three of my hundred friends wouldn’t take a job if it was sorting full bottles of liquor at a warehouse run by a blind man.  If you really want 100% employment, that’s easy — get in a time travel machine and head to the U.S.S.R.  ‘Cause, you know, the healthcare there is GREAT.

No place on earth is perfect.  If you’re trying to educate me on how America is not perfect, please save your breath; I *know* that.  But that doesn’t make it a bad place, or an evil place; it makes it a REAL place.  As opposed to Utopia, which does not exist.

P.S.  And I agree with Rachel — if the majority of people in Russia wanted me to vote for McCain, I’d be seriously inclined to vote for Obama.  Do YOU think most Russians are primarily concerned with America’s best interests?  Seriously?

UPDATE:  Now that I think about it, Britain for example does at least one thing much, much better than we do:  Accents.  Speak honestly, dear readers — you wouldn’t take a British or Irish or Scottish accent over a southern drawl or a Boston quip?  Really?


6 Responses to “What she said!”

  1. Ted said

    Accents are not a feature, they’re a bug. Colorful (ahem. “colourful”) to be sure (to us), but in old blighty they are considered A Very Bad Thing Indeed.

    It’s a class thing. There’s definitely a social scale, with Oxbridge on the top and other accents at different levels as you descend the social scale.

    When we lived outside London, #1 son went to pre-school. His teacher (let’s call her Mary Poppins, since she was practically perfect in every way) was determined that the children all speak in a proper BBC (Oxbridge) accent.

    While it was pretty comical to us (“Please, mummy, I’d like to play in the gah-den”), there’s a reason for it.

  2. lookingforlissa said

    But it’s so useful for musicals! You can automatically denote upper class versus lower class characters just with the lyrics! (Think Les Miserables, or surely My Fair Lady.)

    Mind you, I didn’t include cockney accents because I *really* *really* could NOT understand the key-copy guy at Paddington Station. Nor Welsh, ’cause I’ve no idea what that sounds like.

  3. Mike said

    And she really means this too. She makes me keep the GPS set on UK English rather than American English just so she can hear the accent. (Full disclosure: I wanted it on Spanish or Italian because those entertained me.)

    And do you really think it’s “hahd” to tell upper and middle class people from lower class ones in Boston (or most other American cities) based on accents? I figured out which people in the Midwest and South while living in those places. The accents might “speak” more to education level than class and there are certainly exceptions, but the connection exists.

  4. Brad K said

    Ted, “Accents are not a feature, they’re a bug.” I was taught in systems programming class that a IBM defined the term feature, to mean “A bug we don’t intend to fix.” That was right after my Intro Fortran class with #2 pencil and mark-sense IBM cards to submit my program. Just kidding – the mark sense cards were in 1971 at Iowa State, the systems class at East Tennessee State University in 1981.

    It seems a shame that we shackle Sen. Obama to the United States. Let’s let Europe or Africa or Russia vote him to be President (or whatever) in their country.

  5. Ted said

    Lissa, when we moved back, we had the most wonderful cockney movers pack up the house. It was like being on the set of “My Fair Lady”. And I almost busted out laughing when I asked the boss-man (an enormous, cockney, Alfred Doolittle mountain of a man) if I could put the kettle on, and if he and the crew would like a “cuppa” team. His reply: “Ooh, loveley!”

    Brad, it sounds like your and my computer education was similar. I once knew how to patch Hollerith cards with an exacto knife and masking tape because hte line at the card punch was too long.

    And I like that definition (“a bug that we don’t intend to fix”).

  6. Ok I do like the Scottish, Northern English accents….but I gotta say, when I hear them talk I can’t help but think of the Commie Gun-fearing police state they come from.

    Does that make me racist?

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