Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Pet Peeve: An America that Sees Only Itself

This is a small but typical example: the New York Times today ran a story about frictions in the switch to embedded-chip credit cards.  The process has been bumpy, and retailers think the banks and payment processors have been exploiting them, while the processors blame the retails for dragging their feet.  I don’t know anything at all about this, but one thing I do know is that the same transition occurred years ago in Europe.  You’d think a reporter delving into this topic would contact sources in Chipland, so our experience could be compared to theirs.  Maybe we could learn something that would help us sort out the tangle of charges and countercharges (so to speak).

But no.  Not a single word about the world beyond our borders.

I see this all the time.  People fulminate about the role of money in politics and the sins of Citizens United but pay no attention to the various forms business influence takes in other developed countries with a variety of campaign finance laws.  We can have a big debate about the economics of Bernie Sanders’ proposal to make public higher education tuition-free without so much as a glance at the many countries where that has been a reality for decades—one of which is right over the border to the north.

The problem isn’t American exceptionalism, it’s American self-absorption.


Thornton Hall said...

They won't share their diversity numbers with the public, our great paragons of transparency, but if they did, it would reveal that the "hard news" divisions of the WaPo, NYT, and WSJ are 95% white, 75% male, 50% Ivy, and 100% "top tier" university.

Calling such a group of people "America", as you do in your last sentence, is racist, sexist, and elitist.

The mutual admiration society between wonks and the wonk quoters is as big a threat to democracy as the military industrial complex.

Wallfly said...

Yup, comparative politics, look into it!

Bob Nelson said...

During the Obamacare battle, there was almost no reference to national health-care systems elsewhere in the world. There are as many different systems as there are countries, from the UK's monolithic NHS to France's very private-sector-dependent system, so America had a veritable menu at hand from which to make its choices. But it did not look at that menu.

America's education results are not as good as elsewhere... but that does not incite Americans to examine how those other countries get better results! Oh, no! Americans must invent their own "solution".

Learning from others' mistakes is so-o-o-o wimpy!