Work Abroad but earn in USD

Monday, February 28, 2005

The World Does Not End At The US Border

After reflecting a little more about my inability to get mortgage loans, I think the problem does not lie with the banking industry, but with US culture as a whole. After coming back to the USA from an international trip recently, I noticed something a bit strange. I felt more informed about the happenings of the world when I was outside the country traveling than when I was at home.

As someone who usually devotes at least 30 minutes a day to the news when he’s at home, I felt this to be a little odd at first. There was, in fact, a good reason. When traveling, I watch the BBC in the hotel (usually the only English channel) and read an international newspaper.

The coverage of foreign news on the BBC is just so much better than on any of the US 24-hour news channels. It seems the only time foreign countries make news in the US is either when we are bombing them, when they are threatening us, or when there is some kind of horror going on inside the country (disaster, genocide, etc). When was the last time CNN covered an election in a foreign country (besides the Iraq election, which goes under the “we’re still bombing them” category). Maybe they announce the results the day after, but that’s about all the coverage you get. No analysis.

The BBC on the other hand, will cover the sides, the issues, the election day itself, and have guests who can provide reasonable analysis after. Look at the BBC webpage vs the CNN webpage. CNN has one little menu for “World” which has 3 stories listed. On the BBC web page, they have so much foreign news they have to sub-divide it by continent.

So, what’s the effect of all this? US citizens have no idea what’s going on outside their own country, we have little interest in geography and foreign travel (only 20% of us own passports, and the majority of the country can’t even make an international phone call), and we see no reason to learn foreign languages. The net effect is that as a whole, we are not good world citizens. Obviously if you’re from the USA reading this webpage, you’re included in the 1-3% of the US population to whom these statements don’t apply.

Nevertheless, as a culture, we don’t take an interest in the world outside our borders. Its too bad. We’d be a better people if we did. And maybe banks would offer foreign mortgages too!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

It has long been my wish to become an expatriate. I no longer consider the United States to be my home. Rather, I consider myself to be a citizen of the world. I have visited Argentina and wish to obtain a residency visa but I am not certain all that it entails. Possibly, you can refer me to a site that has the requirements.

Thank you...

2/28/2005 06:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to see you blogging again! This installment is very sad, and those stats are shocking! I totally agree with your point of view on the issue.

3/02/2005 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger ABA said...

Traveling and seeing the world has been the most enriching and postive thing in my life.

We as Americans are very sheltered in the United States. As you mentioned, the news coverage is horrible. I'm so busy these days I haven't read the newspaper in a few weeks and I don't watch TV. You know still goes on.

It's sad the mentality that the majority of Americans have. I never realized how many "ugly Americans" there were until I started traveling internationally.

The USA is one of the best countries in the world and I'm proud to be an American. The thing is though that we aren't the center of the Universe like most Americans think we are.

5/15/2005 01:51:00 AM  

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