Neverfail's North American ruminations.

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neverfail
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Neverfail's North American ruminations.

Post by neverfail » Tue Jun 12, 2018 6:21 pm

I have just richly enjoyed 5 weeks travelling mainly along the western edge of the US and Canada. despite all of the gloomy news about North America I have taken in for years, from my (admittedly superficial) tourist's perspective, the continent looked in rather good shape.

What poverty I saw in both countries manifest mainly in the form of homeless men living rough on the streets of your large cities (where were all of the homeless women?) . But then we all have that, don't we? My overall impression of North America was a positive one one of sunny affluence, friendly civility and good order.
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Firstly Canada.

I have never visited eastern Canada. My travels have been thus far restricted to Alberta and British Columbia provinces: possibly unrepresentative of the whole given that Canada has the reputation as a sprawling, highly segmented country. I met talented, resettled Canadians from two of the maritime provinces (including our coach captain) which implies that the Atlantic coast region is poorer, or at least more restricted in economic opportunities for its ambitious self-improvers.

Our entry point to Canada was Calgary, Alberta. US immigration processing procedures of incoming travellers (as we had previously learned upon arrival at LA) are downright paranoid - perhaps a legacy from 9/11. Canadian procedures were efficient but notably more laid back than US ones. It was in Calgary that we learned that employees in the the more menial service occupations are just as hard done by as far as take-home pay goes as their peers in the US and just as reliant as tips and gratuities donated to them by the customers they serve. Employers there also operate the same kind of rackets to pocket themselves a share of these informal earnings by wait staff.

We were warned by our coach captain that if we want to buy something then buy it in Alberta rather than in British Columbia. In the latter they have a provincial consumption tax as well as the federal one that all of Canada pays whereas in the former they still have none. However, the Alberta legislature is due to introduce one later this year to compensate for loss of revenue due to the downturn in their oil business in recent years. (more on this re.Alaska)

In Canada at least they have a basic national system of medical and hospital cover in which Canadians seem to take great pride. Yet at the level of private business and the rights of employees Canada seems to have basically the same setup as they do in the USA.

The USA.

Our first real exposure to the US was in Alaska and then briefly in Seattle. I had known for years that the Alaska state government pays all residents an annual oil dividend from royalties collected from the oil companies exploiting the state's oil riches. It sounds good on the surface. But our guide on the mountain pass tour pointed out to us that this year it was only around $1500 per capita (down from previous years) the size depends on the price of oil and how much of it Alaska sells. Since the harsh Alaska winters brings a lot of economic activity to an end for months employees get laid off and the oil dividend makes the difference between destitution and survival.

New York. I liked the place: though New Yorkers seemed to be more aggressive (ernest?) in the pursuit of the dollar than other Americans. We also had more than one brush with what you might broadly describe as Bronx tough guy manners. Americans, like Canadians, we found basically courteous, obliging and usually willing to help. However, unlike Canadians Americans at times can be quite abrupt - especially when you get on the wrong side of them and especially in matters relating to business. The worst offenders in the case of New York were usually not locals by birth and upbringing but foreign immigrants who had picked up local ways.

California, where we spent most of our time in the US, is so incredable that it blows the mind. I enjoyed the place so much that it made me wonder why regular contributors to this website go on so much about the fact that the state usually has a Democrats administration in charge. It's politics, for all I know, might be nothing to write home about yet the state itself still stands out in my mind as a magnificent place; unique in the world.

We enjoyed our stay in North America so much that we almost regret having to come home.

Cheers!

Mr. Perfect
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Re: Neverfail's North American ruminations.

Post by Mr. Perfect » Tue Jun 12, 2018 7:09 pm

California, as great as it is, is a shadow of what it used to be.

neverfail
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Re: Neverfail's North American ruminations.

Post by neverfail » Wed Jun 13, 2018 2:24 am

Mr. Perfect wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 7:09 pm
California, as great as it is, is a shadow of what it used to be.
Really? Well, even "the shadow" as you describe it still looked pretty good to me.

neverfail
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Re: Neverfail's North American ruminations.

Post by neverfail » Wed Jun 13, 2018 2:29 am

Alaska's seasonal booms.

Our shuttle bus driver in one of the ports our ship put in to was an Afro lass from Brooklin who comes to Alaska during the warmer weather to cash in on the tourism boom that takes place during the warmer months up there. She gave us a good running commentary ass she drove us back to our ship. I notice that even she has a sign up at the front of the bus stating that gratuities are welcome.

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Sertorio
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Re: Neverfail's North American ruminations.

Post by Sertorio » Wed Jun 13, 2018 3:47 am

I have been to the US enough times and long enough to have some realistic ideas about it. Whenever I am there or think about it, I come always to the same conclusion: Americans deserve a better government than the ones they always seem to get, governments which wouldn't make greed the greatest quality a human being can have...

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cassowary
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Re: Neverfail's North American ruminations.

Post by cassowary » Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:18 am

Sertorio wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 3:47 am
I have been to the US enough times and long enough to have some realistic ideas about it. Whenever I am there or think about it, I come always to the same conclusion: Americans deserve a better government than the ones they always seem to get, governments which wouldn't make greed the greatest quality a human being can have...
In other words, you want a Socialist government. Apart from Bernie Sanders supporters most Americans have the horse sense to know that Socialism leads to poverty and dictatorship.

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cassowary
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Re: Neverfail's North American ruminations.

Post by cassowary » Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:22 am

Neverfail,

I find New York people to be overly aggressive too. Your observation is correct. I won’t like to live there. I used to like California, but the high taxes and illegal immigrant gangs have made things unpleasant.

Mr. Perfect
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Re: Neverfail's North American ruminations.

Post by Mr. Perfect » Wed Jun 13, 2018 3:12 pm

California is full of wastelands of deteriorated tract housing and leads the country in poverty and homelessness. It's also heavily segregated along racial lines in terms of neighborhoods.

neverfail
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Re: Neverfail's North American ruminations.

Post by neverfail » Wed Jun 13, 2018 3:35 pm

Sertorio wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 3:47 am
I have been to the US enough times and long enough to have some realistic ideas about it. Whenever I am there or think about it, I come always to the same conclusion: Americans deserve a better government than the ones they always seem to get, governments which wouldn't make greed the greatest quality a human being can have...
In agreement with you there Sertorio. I consider the (by now long lived) constitutionally ordained system of checks and balances against the abuse of power by incumbent governments to be better than no checks and balances at all. What is wrong is that it is such a crude, imbecile arrangement that it frequently brings about that "gridlock" scenario between the executive and legislative wings of their government that American internet colleagues have been at pains to describe to me. The outcome is that the US system (government and civil society alike) is well neigh unreformable.

The US representative system of government is based upon the supposition that "government is at best a necessary evil, so better to keep government as small as possible". That doctrine precludes the notion that government can be a positive force in society. So US society routinely looks to private enterprise ("free enterprise" as they deem it there) to achieve the positive results that they perceive government incapable of doing.

At this point, Sertorio, you may better comprehend the basis for that preponderance of commercial greed you and I can both detect over there. They are (figuratively) "worshipping at the shrine of a false god". It also helps explain why "socialism" is a dirty word in the US: they equate socialism with the encroachment of 'big government" on their cherished liberties (which presumably includes the freedom to make pots of money).

Please also be aware that even if you were somehow to change their system of government for the better, that would not necessarily by itself expunge the by now centuries old habit of pursuing the almighty dollar. More likely the new system would be twisted around to comply with the demands of civil society to the point where it resembled the old system it superseded.

Unlike Europeans, who seem to regard social class (and class interests) as a fixed and permanent reality of life, Americans do not normally think in terms of class but view themselves as a fluid society of rugged individualists living in a land of opportunity where even the most humble , as long as he is ambitious enough; applies his energies and talents diligently enough to the task, can still carve out a respectable fortune for himself and therefore rise in social status even to the very heights.

neverfail
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Re: Neverfail's North American ruminations.

Post by neverfail » Wed Jun 13, 2018 3:54 pm

cassowary wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:22 am
Neverfail,

I find New York people to be overly aggressive too. Your observation is correct. I won’t like to live there. I used to like California, but the high taxes and illegal immigrant gangs have made things unpleasant.
Thanks for reply cass.

This is not a reply intended to in any way slag Jewry; merely an acknowledgement that no one is perfect. I sometimes wonder whether that legendary New Yorker agro can be traced back to the fact that resident in its midst New York is home to no less than 3 million Jews? This is the largest concentration of Jewry in the world outside of Israel. It must also be demographically the highest pro-rata of Jews in any part of the United States (barring possibly Hollywood).

Even when the city's high public officials (e.g. their mayor) are not themselves Jewish, it goes without saying that no gentile who is known to be in the least Jew unfriendly could ever hope to be elected. Thus even the gentile political establishment would be in the service of the city's many wealthy Jews.

New Yorkers tend to be "no frills" people who cling to the attitude that "time is money" and don't let anything, least of all good manners, deflect your attention away from the main game. Ashkenazi Jews, from my long observation, tend to be very ernest people.

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