Why America?

Dad

Australia has been morphing into America for many decades now. It's where the term "cultural cringe" was born - Australians comparing themselves unfavourably with American people and American culture. But why America when we are so obviously British in origin? And why don't we compare ourselves with countries that have more cohesive societies? The answers lay in coersion, strategic influence, defence capabilities and power. America has sold itself, its policies, its culture and its economic structures extremely well, and we have bought in. Their proclomation that they are the "greatest country in the world" was swallowed hook line and sinker by Australian governments and the Australian people. But at what cost?

For almost 200 years we took our cues from Britain; during the ’60s, as our ties with the UK weakened, the Vietnam War brought us closer to the US. By the ’70s, American music, TV and film were being soaked up by a remarkably absorbent Australian culture.Young Australians rapidly adopted the language of America. The word “bloke” gave way to “guy” by 1972. Sheila simply hasn’t been cited in polite company since the ’60s. And soon enough instant coffee had replaced brewed tea and words like cool became, well, cool. We Australians are wont to reckon, whereas Americans figure. When reckon falls, when booty breaches the coastline, when mum manifests as mom, it may be said that the cultural subjugation of our nation is complete. And now we have younger people obtaining a view of the world that is presented by social media, media that is almost entirely US based. But at what cost?

It frustrates me to constantly listen to politicians, commentators and the media in general say "well, in the US ...". Why not Britain, New Zealand or even countries that don't have English as their first language but exhibit the sort of social cohesion to which we must surely aspire? The Gallup World Poll of 2021 shows that the three happiest countries in the world were Finland, Denmark and Switzerland. Australia was placed 12th, while the US was ranked 14th. It seems a raft of Europe’s Nordic countries continue to rank highly even throughout the past 12 months. For the fourth year in a row, Finland has been named as the happiest country in the world, followed by Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland and the Netherlands. While people may originally question the appeal of living in just a cold country (there must be something I don’t understand), it doesn’t seem to be a coincidence. In fact, Nordic countries historically rank so highly on the happiness report because of the support their governments give them. Free healthcare, free education, low crime rates, extended parental and annual leave compared to the rest of the world, are just a few highlights of living in these countries. For example, new parents in Sweden are entitled to 480 days of leave at 80 per cent of their normal pay. The Nordic have absolutely hit the nail on the head when it comes to work-life balance, which happens to be one of the key contributors for happiness. By contrast in Australia, as in America, employment is now largely casual, with many people needing to work several jobs or six days per week just to survive. Yes, they pay higher taxes, but willingly. In Australia people want to pay minimal tax while receiving first-rate services. While the Nordics see themselves as a part of a community, we have inherited the American notion of individualism. The high rate of vaccine refusal in the US has revealed the dark side of American individualism and liberty: selfishness and a lack of empathy.¬†And we have sadly bought into it.

And surely a key indicator of social cohesion lay in the murder rates of different countries. According to the UN's Global Study on Homicide, 464,000 people died from violent crimes in 2017, more than armed combat and terrorism combined. The report states that countries with high firearm rates tend to have higher intentional homicide rates. According to the report, "since the start of the twenty-first century, organised crime has resulted in roughly the same number of killings as all armed conflicts across the world combined. It is estimated that an average of roughly 65,000 killings every year were related to organized crime and gangs.

There are several countries, however, that have exceptionally low homicide rates. The ten countries with the lowest murder rates are:

  1. Japan (0.2)
  2. Singapore (0.2)
  3. China, Hong Kong (0.3)
  4. Luxembourg (0.3)
  5. Indonesia (0.4)
  6. Norway (0.5)
  7. Oman (0.5)
  8. Switzerland (0.5)
  9. United Arab Emirates (0.5)
  10. China (0.6)

Significantly, the majority of the countries with the lowest homicide rates are located in Asia. Japan, which has the lowest murder rate in the world of 0.2 per 100,000, has stringent weapons regulations. Obtaining a firearm involves a very lengthy application process, and murder is punishable by hanging. The countries with the highest murder rates per 100,000 people are El Salvador (82.84), Honduras (56.52), and Venezuela (56.33). Now, obviously Austrtalia would never compare itself to any of these countries, but why not the previous list. And why the US? America by far the highest gun homicide in the developed world? . Yet, we yearn to be like them. But at what cost? America is FAR from the greatest country in the world.

The fear that we seem to have developed about the rise of China is largely manufactured by US influences. And so we are resisting. It's a pity nobody warned us back in the 1970's about the Americanisation of Australia.

Geoff Mooney