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11 October 2009 @ 08:42 pm
Five things I don't like in the US  
The United States is my country of choice.
I chose it in 1999, came for the first time in April 14 2003 (I remember that day for multiple reasons) and never left the country since then.
I like many things in the US, but not everything is perfect.
My friend asked me what I don't like in the US.
These things come to mind:
1) High taxes.
2) Too strict and not very consistent immigration policy.
3) Wars (on drugs, porn, and terror).

Here they are in more details:
1) High taxes
Relative to most of European countries US taxes are not high at all. Still effective tax burden that US government puts on private sector is about 40% which is at least two times bigger than I’d like it too be. Government (any government, not only in the US) is too inefficient to allow it distribute that much of resources.

2) Draconian and unpredictable immigration policy
It’s very hard to immigrate to the US. I was able to, but still I think it should be easier. Getting Green Card is the process that takes many years even if you qualify, and how many years it would take – is hard to guess when prospective immigrant starts it.
Making legal immigration faster and more straightforward would make the US economy work better.
Overall immigration policy in the US is neither the worst nor the best. Australia and Canada have better policies. Many other countries have worse immigration policy.

3) War on Porn
US legal system explicitly states that porn is not covered by freedom of speech. Certain forms of porn are severely prosecuted. For example porn with participants who are younger than 18 years old is considered illegal.
In theory that system is designed to protect children, but in fact it hurts them. In some cases teenage girls are prosecuted for porn distribution simply because they sent out naked pictures of themselves.
This doesn’t hurt me directly, but adversely affects freedom of speech. I consider freedom of speech one of most important tools that improves our lives, so I don’t like when freedom of speech is limited without need.

4) War on Drugs
I don’t use narcotics and generally don’t like people who use them. Still I think government should not criminalize narcotics trade as much as it does now.|
Government should heavily tax narcotics, but not criminalize them.
When it was illegal to sell alcohol – it made Mafia grow way too strong, so even those who didn’t drink alcohol were negatively affected.

5) War on Terror
Unfortunately War on Terror caused much more lives being lost than terror itself. US military stuck in Iraq and Afghanistan. Anti-terror security practices negatively affect businesses (for example, many people don’t want to fly, because it’ more expensive and less convenient than it was before war on terror began).
Maxhobober on October 13th, 2009 10:16 am (UTC)
What do u like the most about the US? 5 top too :)
zhenkinzhenkin on October 13th, 2009 11:28 am (UTC)
My additions
1. I do not like the high level of social barrier that sometimes exists between people in US. All too often I hear something like "I don't even know you" in response to an attempt to make a new friend. Well, I am trying to make it so you GET TO KNOW me, stupid! So stop being so afraid of social interactions!
2. People don't seem to be able or want to interact more with each other and have fun getting together more often. Having been to a place like Philippines, I can tell you that the atmosphere there is MUCH different. People get together MUCH MORE often. Social interactions are much easier and ... surprise, surprise... the society as a whole seems happier. All of this is despite lower life standards than in the US. I guess I lost something here in the States. We all need to realize that we NEED each other.
zhenkinzhenkin on October 13th, 2009 11:43 am (UTC)
Re: My additions
Some of what I actually like here:

1. Nobody cares where you are from. US is a country build by immigrants and for immigrants. You get so damn used to being surrounded by people from all over the world that you don't care anymore about who they are. I think that is wonderful.

2. Nobody ever denies you an opportunity because you are an immigrant. At least that was my experience. When I first got a job here in the US, I was treated exactly the same as an American. And that goes to salary as well. :-)

3. People are inherently law abiding. They mostly follow rules and laws. That creates a predictable social and economic environment. It is easier to live in such society.

4. There exists power of the judicial system. It is possible to be protected by the court if somebody more powerful does something to you.

5. Opportunity to excel in life exists for everybody. Some say there is less opportunity in US now and I agree. We need to make it easier for people with humble backgrounds to reach higher levels in society. But I still think US offers an unprecedented level of opportunity for it's people. You can be a son of Kenian and one day become a US senator and ultimately the president of the United States.
Maxhobober on October 14th, 2009 11:16 am (UTC)
Re: My additions
...and got the Nobel prize of Peace :))
Dennis Gorelikdennisgorelik on October 14th, 2009 05:32 pm (UTC)
Re: My additions
Zhenkin, I agree about good things overall.
However you state it a little bit stronger than it is.
Immigrants are denied many things (in comparison with US citizens).
- Legal system puts very harsh limitations on what kind of job can immigrant get (until legal system recognizes official status of Permanent Resident for the immigrant).
- Arnold Schwarzenegger was denied his chance of becoming president of the US. BTW, I believe Arnold would be much better president than Barack Obama.

So discrimination against immigrants does exist.
But I agree that it's not nearly as bad as in most other countries.
Maxhobober on October 14th, 2009 06:06 pm (UTC)
Re: My additions
I believe Arnold would be much better president than Barack Obama.

Why? Because he is a good actor? :)
Dennis Gorelikdennisgorelik on October 14th, 2009 06:18 pm (UTC)
Re: My additions
Arnold has moderate political views (not too conservative and not too liberal).
He also had extensive career outside of politics.
Абу Антосьsyarzhuk on February 5th, 2010 05:12 pm (UTC)
Re: My additions
1 and 2 are very true in Boston

But when we went vacationing in Yellowstone, I was very unpleasantly surprised when everybody in Idaho (where we stopped on the way) just HAD to ask - where are you from? We were speaking English between ourselves, but of course with strong accents.
Dennis Gorelikdennisgorelik on February 5th, 2010 05:19 pm (UTC)
Re: My additions
Why were you _unpleasantly_ surprised by that?
People are naturally curious -- there is nothing bad about it.
Абу Антосьsyarzhuk on February 5th, 2010 05:30 pm (UTC)
Re: My additions
In Boston, full of immigrants, people strange to you typically don't ask "where you're from", because everybody is from somewhere. When you get introduced to somebody, people do ask - in a polite way, as a way of knowing the new acquaintance better. In Idaho, right after overhearing us, people would come to us and ask "where you're from". To them, we were strangers, a source of entertainment - in the same way they would come to, say, a traveling circus. I can't describe it in words, but while trying to be polite, they did emanate that "you are not one of us" attitude.
Dennis Gorelikdennisgorelik on October 14th, 2009 05:19 pm (UTC)
Re: My additions
I don't agree.
There are good reasons why people limit new contacts with strangers:
- It takes time and effort.
- It's risky.
I understand that it's good to meet new people occasionally, but every new person you meet takes your time. And if that new person is a stranger, then there is high risk that the time you lose won't be paid back by the quality of the match between you and that new person.
That's why many people prefer to go through introductions by other friends/colleagues etc.

I believe I have skill to quickly recognize good match with stranger without external recommendation (most people cannot do that).
Still my default response to "friend/connection" request on LinkedIn/LiveJournal/Skype is along the lines: "do I know you?". I usually want the stranger to show me somehow that the match is good.

Bottom line: I don't think that certain resistance against getting closer with strangers is a bad thing.
Dennis Gorelikdennisgorelik on October 14th, 2009 05:56 pm (UTC)
Ok, here are the things I like the most about the US.

#1 and #2 (together): Combination of safety and freedom.
The US is a safe country for living and doing business.
Fortunately this safety does not sacrifice freedom.
There are not so many limitations to the freedom, and most of these limitations are reasonable (they make lives of everyone safer).
With few exceptions freedom of speech is respected by overwhelming majority of Americans (no matter what political view they have otherwise).
Freedom of organizations (business, religion, non-profit, ...) helps to maintain overall freedom and balance in the US.

#3: Strong economy.
That gives multiple opportunities for work (business) and recreation.

#4: Great weather.
No matter what kind of weather you like -- you can find a place which would match with your favorite weather.

#5: Stability.
In spite that the US is constantly evolving (to the best), most of the best things in the US were available here for quite some time.
People didn't starve in the US for at least 100 years (if ever).
There was no war on the US soil for over 100 years.
The US enjoys democracy since US inception (over 200 years).
Cars are widespread for 70+ years in the US.
Good movies (about life in the US) are massively available for 80+ years.
Living in Suburbs became popular over 50 years ago.
Business and legal practices were tuned up in the US for hundreds of years.
Dennis Gorelikdennisgorelik on October 14th, 2009 06:02 pm (UTC)
How about "Top 5 things I like about living in Russia"?