24 Apr 2002
Kool Bobby left a note (unfortunately no longer archived) on my last post which, for me, answers some questions and basically sums up the distinct cultural differences between Europe and North America.
Personally, I find it sad that someone can live for years in supposedly the greatest country in the world and only ever travel by train once. They call America ‘the land of the free’, but it seems this definition of ‘free’ is more than a little restrictive.
Surely railways exist because people don’t feel like driving, or simply can’t drive? I mean, who the hell really wants to drive alone across a continent? Sure cars can be good, but even Kerouac got the bus sometimes. Well that would be the European perspective anyway. I mean, continental Europe has a successful automotive industry, yet also has some of the world’s best railways. Hell, the people who make the cars also make the trains! (Fiat, at least in Italy, has a hand in both.) And you don’t even have to stick with Europe for examples: Japan has an enormous automotive industry, and yet also boasts an impressive (albeit expensive) rail network.
Then again, most European public transport systems are subsidised by government. In return for high taxes, you (should) get efficient public services. You get what you pay for.
Why can’t this be the case in the United States?…. Do I even need to ask? You Yanks have way to many industrialists/politicians/whoever with a quasi-Nietzschean obsession with power.
But I do need to ask something – do you Yanks get what you pay for? (And I mean this on a tangible social level, so I won’t accept ‘armed forces’ as a reply.) It seems to me, from my lofty perch, that you pay and you pay and you pay, but because Big Business pays to the right people, they get to call the shots. I wouldn’t call that a democracy, would you?
I dunno what Derrida would say, but I think it’s about time ‘America’ was deconstructed.