I was forced to leave the United States, so to speak: the US Army sent me to Germany. After serving here for a few years, I decided to stay. I like found the love of my life and liked the life in Europe. I had no reason to return to the land of my birth. There is no perfect place to live, and this was good enough for me.
Rudyard Kipling one wrote something wise (one of many): How can he know England who only England knows? The same works for any country. Anyone that travels abroad, and especially those that live in another country, see the land of their birth through different eyes. The positive aspects and negative aspects become clear and are often magnified.
I became more critical of the United States the older I became, the more I read, and the more observed the world. The following are some of the things I noticed or of which I became critical in the order they appeared.
1. Homeless. I began to notice this phenomena in the 70's, after returning from Vietnam. I could not understand how a country, especially one as wealthy as the US, could let its citizens suffer such indignity and physical discomfort. The plight of children was particularly disturbing. I know that socialism is a dirty word, but a certain level of support should be given to anyone that needs help.
2. Maintenance. At some point, I began to notice the deterioration of infrastructure. I used to joke about having the fear of a bridge collapsing on my head during the trip from JFK to Manhattan. Rusting bridges did not look safe, especially when compared to he well-maintained ones in Germany.
3. Dismantling of industries. I grew up in New England. I recall industries moving south to take advantage of cheap electricity. Factories towns, which had arisen based on water from rivers, suffered. This same phenomena occurred on a larger scale, when industries relocated overseas. I worked for a company that owned factories in high-countries. We tried to keep them open, but learned that no consumer would honor the effort to produce locally: they wanted cheap products. American capitalists want to make money; American consumers want cheap products, ipso facto jobs move overseas. It's not the politicians fault.
4. Redistribution of wealth. Any society has its own standard of distribution. The healthiest societies have a strong middle class; wealth distribution looks like a Bell curve. The curve in the US has been flattening, with the extremes of poverty and wealth increasing and the middle dropping. Society is approaching something similar to England of Dickens' time.
5. Health care. I grew with Blue Cross/Blueshield. I did not know what it was, but my parents never worried about doctor's bills. I then joined the military, which provided medical care. After leaving the military, I have lived in Germany, where government mandates health coverage. I cannot understand the debate and battles over universal coverage. Like in point one, I feel that government should take care of its citizens.
6. Democracy. The principle makes sense, but a lot of people don't seem to understand how it works. Too many believe the lies and vote against their own best interest. Dumb voters do not ensure a good government.
7. Guns culture. See earlier post.
8. Taxes. I live in a country with one of the highest tax rates (58%). There are also a load of indirect taxes. But, the government seems to deliver something in return (see point 2, for example); the quality of life is good. Of course, the government wastes a lot, but that is a fact of life. Americans seem to think that the can have a great country and not pay anything. Doesn't make sense: everything costs money.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.