Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

On Independence Day, 20 reasons to be glad you live in America

Posted by sanityinjection on July 2, 2009

Sometimes I feel that I spend too much time complaining about various aspects of American life or politics. Although there is much to complain about, the truth is that we Americans have it pretty good. So to celebrate America’s Independence Day (July 4), since I will be offline for the long weekend, I thought I would change things up a bit and point out some of the problems other countries face, reminding us how fortunate we are to be Americans.

In doing so, I didn’t waste any time on the obvious – countries facing starvation or civil war. Nobody wants to live in those places. Instead, I’ve listed 20 countries most Americans would probably consider nice places to live.  And they are – but as I’ve shown below, every one of these countries has problems that are just as vexing, if not worse, than the ones we face. I hope reading this list makes you feel better about the good old USA.  Happy Birthday, America.


Argentina – Had an inflation rate of 15% in 2008 (the highest US rate in the last 20 years was 6.3%). Kidnappings for ransom are common in cities. 20% of the population lacked indoor running water/indoor plumbing in 2001.


Australia – Most of the country is a desert. The remainder has the least fertile soil of any continent and is subject to periodic droughts and massive wildfires caused by El Nino; many areas suffer from chronic water shortages and have legal restrictions on water use. In the prosperous city of Melbourne, schoolchildren are taught to use timers to make sure their showers last no more than two minutes.


Bahamas – This island paradise is Ground Zero for hurricanes, averaging one devastating hurricane very two years. Because the islands are flat this means massive ocean flooding as well as homes destroyed by high winds.


Belgium – The country is severely divided politically and culturally between the Dutch and French-speaking communities, to the point of paralyzing the government and threatening the breakup of the country. A 2003 study found that Belgium’s rivers and groundwater were the most polluted of all 122 countries in the study.


Canada – Although a prosperous country with great national resources, most of the vast area of the country is functionally uninhabitable by civilized humans. 72% of Canadians live within 95 miles of the US border. 80% of Canadians live in the cities. Vancouver is the only major city in Canada with an average January temperature above freezing. Also, the nation’s public health care system is severely stressed. There are less than 1400 obstetricians trying to serve a population of nearly 34 million. Patients can wait years for a simple procedure such as an MRI, and emergency patients sometimes have to be rushed to the US to prevent them from dying before they can be seen by a Canadian doctor.


Denmark – There is no separation of church and state in Denmark. The official Church of Denmark is headed by the Queen and governed by the Danish Parliament. Whether you are a member or not, your taxes go to pay part of its budget including the salaries of its bishops.


Fiji – Pacific island paradise? Think again. Fiji has experienced four military coups and two mutinies since 1987 over political tensions between ethnic and religious groups.


Finland – Finland has a severe problem with public intoxication. Alcohol-related diseases and accidents are the leading cause of death for working age people, and even in tourist areas urinating in the streets remains a frequent sight despite the government’s efforts to stamp it out. Finland also has the world’s highest rate of juvenile diabetes.


France – Although a very secular country, religious freedom is limited in France. Catholicism is the state religion and most Catholic churches are owned by the government; some priests’ salaries are paid by the government.  It is illegal to wear conspicuous religious symbols in public schools; however, the law is selectively enforced against non-Christians, particularly with respect to the Islamic headscarf.

Ireland – The Emerald Isle has a mild climate but is completely overcast by clouds 50% of the time. It rains on average between 150 and 225 days a year.


Italy – Italy is overwhelmingly dependent on foreign sources of energy. The country has virtually no iron, coal, or oil. Italy imports 93% of its oil and 91% of its natural gas (US 53% and 16% respectively); overall 86% of total energy consumption comes from imported sources. As a result, changes in commodity prices for oil and gas have an impact on the average Italian that is many times greater than on an average American.


Japan – About 70-80% of Japan is covered by mountain forests and is totally unusable for farming, industry, or residential use. As a result, Japan’s population is crammed into coastal areas making it one of the most densely populated countries in the world. A falling birthrate and shrinking population has led to a labor shortage, with the result that the average Japanese works two hours of unpaid overtime a day. In 2007 176 Japanese attempted to commit suicide as a result of mental imbalance attributed to overwork.


Monaco – This playground of the rich is known for its famed casino, Monte Carlo; yet citizens of Monaco are forbidden by law from gambling there.


New Zealand – In 1987, New Zealand made the Maori language a second official language. This means that every government office has to have someone on staff who can assist residents in Maori, and trial participants may use Maori in litigation proceedings, despite the fact that only 4% of New Zealanders actually speak it.


Norway – Norway is so close to the North Pole that it receives little to no sun in winter. In the capital Oslo, the sun rises at 9 AM and sets at 4 PM from mid-November to mid-January. In northern Norway, above the Arctic Circle, the sun never rises at all during that time. Although the standard of living is high, the cost of living in Norway is about 30% higher than the US average.


Singapore – Tiny Singapore is a prosperous democracy but lacks many of the rights normally present in a free country, including freedom of speech, freedom of association, and trial by jury. Many activities are treated as serious criminal offenses in Singapore including jaywalking, sale of chewing gum, possession of pornography, homosexual conduct and failure to flush a public toilet. All TV, all daily newspapers, and almost all radio stations are owned and operated by the government. Satellite dishes capable of receiving foreign programming are illegal.


Spain –  Spain has a major immigration problem. It is second only to the US in total immigration despite being much smaller in area and total population. One out of every nine residents is an immigrant and many of those are unemployed. The government has grown so desperate that it is now offering to pay immigrants to leave the country for three years.


Sweden – Often thought of as a peaceful and tolerant country, Sweden has above average rates of sexual assault and hate crimes. The fact that 25% of all crimes are committed by immigrants and another 20% committed by Swedish-born foreigners has led to rising xenophobia especially toward dark-skinned migrants from the Middle East and Africa.


United Kingdom (Britain) – The UK has one of the worst road congestion problems of any developed nation. The country lacks sufficient road capacity for its population and the problem has become so severe that it threatens to damage the nation’s economy. The city of London charges drivers a daily congestion charge of 8 pounds (about $13) to enter the city during business hours. The government has proposed fitting every vehicle in the nation with a satellite receiver and charging a fee per kilometer driven.


Venezuela – Despite the country’s vast oil wealth, in 2007 29% of Venezuelans lived below the poverty line. (US=13%)


4 Responses to “On Independence Day, 20 reasons to be glad you live in America”

  1. Ms. D said

    Well, there is nothing like traveling over to the dark side in order to appreciate the light! I am blessed by a good job, timely healthcare and freedom in regard to my family’s beliefs. Thank you for the reminder! There is so much to appreciate and I commend you on taking the time to share such good insight. Happy 4th!

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  3. Elizabeth Windsor said

    I live in the UK. You mentioned London which is the only city to suffer from traffic congestion. Head to Scotland and the roads are congestion and toll free. Our motorways are toll free and generally you can drive from one end of the country to another in just one day. Yes the major cities can get busy, but London is the worst example and yes, there is a congestion charge for the city centre. But that’s like judging the traffic situation in the US based on New York.

    You could have given 20 reasons to be proud to be American and spoken about the entreprenial achievements or natural beauty of America instead of merely citing some ill-informed ‘facts’ on other countries. It’s not hard to find a few downsides of living in any country and the US is not immune from that. I suggest you stop slating other countries and focus on what is so good about yours instead.

    • Leslie said

      I don’t think there’s anything to get offended about here. Clearly, the author is aware of America’s failings. In fact, the reason for this post was clearly stated at the beginning, which you clearly forgot about when you got a bug up your butt about the UK entry.

      This is hardly meant to be a fully comprehensive comparison of countries, merely a reminder (to the many of us Americans who sit around fantasizing about living in the paradise that Denmark often sounds like..) that other countries also have issues. We Americans know our own. If you’re not appreciating this article, maybe it wasn’t written for you.

      For me, it was exactly what I needed to read today.

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