Americans

I think I’ve decided why I don’t like them.

Before we start, you should probably read this article.

Recently I spent a few days in Australia for a friend’s wedding, and then went to Vietnam before returning home. Vietnam was the first developing country I have been too. I was quite surprised to see things like a regular garbage collection in the city and sealed roads in parts of the countryside. Although, as was pointed out to me, I was only looking in the places that tourists look.

To give an example of the cost of living, I spent more on my subway ticket from Fukuoka airport to home (390yen) than I did for a food each day in Veitnam. As an indication of the role of the government in povery alleviation, the povery line was increased to US$380/year so more people are able to obtain benefits from the government. That something even Australia has trouble doing. But on the same note, a man was sent to gaol for distorting government policies. Guess you can’t have everything.

But seeing Vietnam try and rebuild itself has both positive and negative aspects. Vietnam has joined the WTO, and is a major exporter of rice. And more foreign tourists are entering the country (and thus spending dollars.) I think a lot of these Asian countries will start to overtake America as major economic powerhouses. As America becomes more isolated, and well, like the strange rich uncle who sits in the corner babbling to himself, the rest of the world will continue overtake it.

But the down side is that Western products are starting to infiltrate their market. One might not think that it’s a bad thing, but for every tube of Colgate Toothpaste that costs a day’s wage to buy, generates more rubbish than most people produce in that day, and provides a symbol of wealth that many just can’t afford but feel they must have, I’m not sure it’s a good thing. The supermarket I went to with some Japanese friend’s I had met, for me seemed totally opulent. (For them, it was a cheap place to buy gifts to take home.) In a country where most people stuggle to provide for themselves, buying an imported Australian fruit juice for more than what most meals cost seemed just plain wrong.

When I got back to Japan, I spent some time in Osaka between flights. So I went up to a place I like called America Mura where all the cool kids hang out, wearing cool fashion, from cool shops. I met an American who had been working in Korea for quite a few years teaching English. He said he preferred teaching children because if he taught adults, then he’d have too strong a desire to want to sleep with them. For about an hour he talked to me. Note, I didn’t say “we talked.” He talked at me might be a better way of expressing it. After acquiescing for longer than I should have, I appologised and made my exit as I had a flight to catch. It was a lie, I still had a few hours still left but I just didn’t want to stay there any longer.

I wonder how Americans manage to get anything done. They spend so much time talking, and talking about themselves, without actually listening to what anyone else might have to say, that I think their society must grind to a halt when the sun rises, and only slowly recovers when everyone goes to sleep. Or perhaps they talk in their sleep as well, just to make sure they can still be heard.

So, here I am back in Japan. Where it’s easy. I’m tired of pigheadedness, of people boring me with stories that I have no idea what the hell they are on about. Of people talking to me, thinking I might have one iota of interest in them. So why are you here?

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