February 27, 2005


A warm welcome for President Bush in Slovakia.

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February 18, 2005


Good to go's jerk comment here made me think of something else. We do "depend upon [the government] for everything." The military is socialist system. Health care is free, housing is free, most services are free. And that's the worst part about being with the Army. Health care is free, so there are long lines at the doctor and forget about making a dental or eye appointment. Housing is free, so if you turn down the house they offer you, they take you off the list for 90 days. And services are free, so when we moved here, our flight was delayed for six hours and they put us on a plane with no overhead compartments that didn't have enough fuel to make it across the Atlantic. The movers also forgot to ship our belongings until after we arrived here (and the Army also forgot to pay us for two and a half months).

But all of this stuff is free, so you can't complain. Often the people who provide these services don't have much job pride or customer-oriented goals either, because what are you gonna do, take your business elsewhere? I live a socialist lifestyle, and it ain't pretty.

Posted by: Sarah at 12:19 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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February 17, 2005


I just noticed this comment by PAC tonight and I wanted to address it. It's a very normal point of view for a European to have, the same point of view I've found in most of my European friends. It is, I believe, the biggest dividing factor between Americans and Europeans and the source of our value differences.

It's also related to Bill Whittle's social vs. individual responsibility.

When I was a senior in high school, I was trying to decide whether I should go to a public or private school. I really wanted to attend this small private school I had chosen, so my dad decided it was time for a lesson in economics. He knew I wanted to be a teacher, so he made me figure out how much of an average teacher salary would go towards paying off $50,000 in student loans. He asked me if it would be worth going to this school to pay perhaps half of my monthly income towards loans. I agreed that it would not and decided to go to the public school. Only once I had started school did my father say that if I had believed that it would have been worth $50,000 of my own money, he would've helped me go to the private school. But since it wasn't worth my own money, it must not have been that important to me.

That's an awesome lesson that my father taught me, one that I personally think applies to my American worldview. You spend your own money far more frugally than you do your father's, and certainly far more frugally than you do the government's. People are simply more responsible when they have more responsibility to take care of themselves. We saw that with today's link about sharing: you end up with more Hershey Kisses if you're in charge of your own.

The biggest difference between Americans and Europeans is responsibility. In the US you're individually responsible for far more (and not nearly enough, in my opinion) than you are in Europe. I was responsible for paying for my own college, so I chose wisely and finished quickly. In many European countries, you can take as long as you want to get your degree; it's someone else's Hershey Kisses. I wish we were in charge of our own Social Security in the US, because I could do a much better job of managing it than the government can, to where I could pay for both medicine and travel. Me, myself, paying for it, not the government.

When my husband and I met with a financial advisor, he asked us how much money we wanted to set aside for our children's college funds. We slowly looked at each other, looked back at the advisor, and sheepishly asked if "nothing" was an acceptable answer. We both paid for our own college educations -- he through ROTC, I through academic scholarships -- and we expect our children to do the same. I don't plan to pay for my own child's college; there's no way I would want to pay taxes to make it free for everyone. I don't even like thinking about the tax dollars that fund the Pell grant.

PAC's opinion is completely understandable, given his background, but completely incomprehensible given mine. I can respect that he feels that way, but I certainly don't want my government emulating Europe in that manner.


Response to good to go above.

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February 13, 2005


Amritas mentions the French nickname for McDonald's: MacDo. Once when I was in France, my friends and I were walking to the McDonald's, laughing and talking to each other in the parking lot. A man pushing a baby stroller passed us and began yelling at us to speak French or go home. "This is France, we speak French here!" We were dumbfounded, and as he walked away, we noted how ironic it was that he had just walked out of the biggest symbol of American soft power -- where he had likely uttered the words un Big Mac et un Sprite s'il vous plait -- and he had the nerve to tell us not to speak English. Can you imagine that same scenario in the US: going to a Mexican restaurant and yelling at patrons not to speak Spanish?

Ahh, the French.

Posted by: Sarah at 04:30 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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February 12, 2005


Amritas pointed me towards John Ray's response to an article about how much better Europe is. Hud has an interesting post on Europe's stagnant economy. Both of them made me think about my friends' jobs.

Some jobs here on post are German contract jobs, and the only two Americans I know who have these jobs are my friends who work for the quartermaster here. When soldiers have TA-50 that needs to be laundered, they bring it to my friends. My friends sort it, tag it, and bag it for when the laundry trucks come. They don't actually launder anything; they are just the middle men for the operation. Some days they're quite busy, especially at the end of a deployment. Other days they see very few customers. If no one is coming in, they can do whatever they want: homework, quilting, knitting, watching DVDs, hanging out with Sarah.

Remember, they're employed by the Germans. For this job that a monkey could do, they get paid 10 Euros an hour (which is $13 right now). They work only 20 hours per week each but get six weeks of paid vacation plus Kindergeld (the child allowance the German government gives you just for having a child). They know that they have it good; if they did this same job in the States, no doubt it would be minimum wage ($5.15 per hour, not $13), and there would be no benefits since it's just a part-time job.

I'm glad that my friends have such a great job, but I simply can't understand it. How can the Germans afford to pay them so much for a sinecure? They make more than I did teaching English for the college! I think part of Europe's problem is that they pay way too much for jobs that require no skill. I don't know how they'll continue to give lavish benefits to the monkey jobs.

(No offense, girls: you know I'd love to get paid to knit.)

Posted by: Sarah at 04:19 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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