There is nothing that can remind you that there is no place to live that is better than the good ole USA. Even when visiting first world nations like those in Europe there are constant reminders that you are getting a second or third rate quality product.
I have never understood why some (usually on the left, and by usually I mean almost totally) romanticize the continent so much. If I had a dime for every time someone bemoans to me about how much better Europe is AND they have never actually been there I could single-handedly end the recession and pay off our national debt. (I'm not exaggerating, in a world where George Bush is Hitler, Al Gore is a meterologist, and CNN is a news network...this is literally true)
I'm not trying to say I don't understand the naivete because I absolutely do. Romantic notions are extremely easy to have about things that seem exotic to us. I remember when the luster of midget porn wore off for me, I was devastated.
(ok it wasn't porn....but midgets were involved....ok I made that up too)
Here's the reality check too many Americans need when it comes to Europe:
1. For all the "studies" showing the best quality of life and economic justice coming from these more socialist countries their economies consistently and significantly under-perform against the American economy. While we flirt with double digit unemployment such numbers are almost routine over there.
2. If you ever wake up in the middle of the night with a craving for drive-through cheese stuffed cholesterol before you go off to make photocopies and pick up your prescription from the pharmacy you can forget about it in Europe. Even in the major cities most stores close by 8....on the weekend. Sure bars and restaurants stay open until midnight which is great if you're okay with last call coming two hours early.
3. They don't like to work. Sure I understand the whole punching out at 5 come rain or shine thing. Maybe the 24/7-ization of the USA is something we can and should rethink...but these people DO NOT WANT TO FREAKIN' WORK. Their work week is 35 hours per week, in some countries qualifying government positions allow up to 12 years of maternity leave! (insert adolescent breastfeeding joke here) On top of that they are mandated to take 6 weeks off every year. Which sounds awesome until....
4. You realize why their taxes are through the roof!!! They vote themselves rich without the work for it. Want to live in a place where the top tax bracket starts at 40K/year that isn't crazy California? Yeah, you're paying for the fact that you don't have to pay for anything...which works out because you don't have to do much to get what you pay for! (I have a sudden craving for a Ross Perot chart)
I could continue, but all isn't really bad over there. For the most part people are very friendly and the food is great, there is a lot of very rich history to almost every single place you go, and we always felt safe.
I was there to visit family over there for the first time in almost 15 years and they were so good and loving to me and my immediate family I feel bad about saying these things about their home....its where their heart is. Maybe mine is spoiled because it belongs so unapologetically to America.
Whatever the case may be when i see how other first world countries stack up to ours there is no question that God blesses America...even as we don't always deserve it.