Dear the USA

This post is partially inspired by Chally’s post at Feministe, though on different topics, and nowhere near as well written as her piece – which I’ve just re-read and have fallen in love with all over again.

But anyway… here are some issues that I would LOVE the USA to address, because they piss me off no end.

I don’t live in the US

As Chally pointed out, the world does not revolve around you, not even close.  You are not the only country that uses the internet, though that must come as a bit of a shock.  Internet sites are getting better at noting this, but really, if you are a multinational company, and you sell to countries outside the US, defaulting to the US (especially when you can figure out that my IP is from Australia) is just rude.

Not to mention the number of times when I first started on the internet and put AU as the country code in forums and was asked if I was from Austin…. no, there really are other countries out here.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read about a job vacancy listed in the LinkedIn groups I’m in and someone has listed a two letter state code, which I presume is somewhere in the US.  Oddly enough I’m not across your 50 states, where they are, what their capital cities are and how on earth to decode their state abbreviations.  If you’re a member of an international forum, for flying spaghetti monster’s sake, just spell out the state if it’s that important to you AND list that this job is in the US (so I can ignore the post and move to the next one).  Every other non-US role I’ve seen advertised lists the country – it’s just the USian jobs, which list two letter codes which could be anywhere, which piss me off.

So yes, start looking outside your borders, realise that there is an ENTIRE world out here, with people who use the internet, shop on the internet and who work and job hunt.

Food and measurements

I am continually grateful for the number of recipes that the US provides free of charge to the rest of the world.  I’ve had a lot of fun converting them to my taste (I don’t like as much butter or sugar in my food) but the most annoying thing is having to convert them to my measurements (metric).  I end up having to convert Fahrenheit to Celsius and ounces to grams, and it is really frustrating.  What is a stick of butter?  What is a cup of anything in imperial and does it match a metric cup in any way shape or form?  Will I have too much or too little flour/sugar/butter/etc in my recipe because I’m starting with a completely different set of measurements?

It’s not like you even use imperial measurements as they have been used in other countries.  You went with a whole different set known as the “United States Customary Units” (USCU) (history on Wikipedia).  Which actually makes it harder for the rest of the world to convert your measurements into their own.  You are the “only industrialized nation that does not mainly use the metric system in its commercial and standards activities” (Wikipedia) though your science is usually done in metric – except in the case of the Mars Polar Lander. A very expensive mistake indeed.

So, if you really have to use USCU in your recipes, can you please provide the metric equivalents for the rest of us?  There are approximately 5.7 billion people who do not live in the US, and who potentially have access to the internet, who probably use metric.  To make it even simpler – there are more metric users than USCU users, so be sensible about it.

And while we’re on the topic of food, I’d like to know what some of the stuff you put in food is.  What on earth is half-and-half?  What would you use if this was not available (and last I checked, I can’t get it in Australia)?  How about an equivalent to kosher salt, which I see referred to frequently, yet I’ve never seen sold in Australia – will normal salt do, or should I use rock salt?  I find it all quite puzzling.

The whole calling plants and vegetables different names I don’t have a problem with.  Regional differences lead to different names, but don’t think that your name is the one and only name for a thing, but please don’t act all shocked when you find that it’s also known as X in another country.


Third hand, a related conversation with my girlfriend that she had with another USian, my girlfriend told me that some USians would be mortally offended if they were referred to as love/sweetie/dearie/bella/gov/dear/mate by someone working in the retail or food industry (where these name substitutes are most common) in Australia or the UK. I wonder if any consideration to local culture would happen in this case, including the fact that a large percentage of the country does not find this behaviour offensive before being offended.

I’m with Chally on the whole spelling thing, and LOVE the fact that someone created an Australian dictionary for Firefox so the language I use is not marked as incorrect.  I think that Eddie Izzard might be relevant here.

[Transcript: Now I just wanna talk quickly about language, and then we can all go. Yeah, language. They do say Britain and America are two countries separated by the Atlantic Ocean, and it’s true. No, they say, “two countries separated by a common language,” that’s the line; it’s an Oscar Wilde line, I think. And we do pronounce things in a different way, like you say “caterpillar” and we say “caterpillar,” and… You say “aluminum” and we say “aluminium.” You say, “centrifugal” and we say “centrifugal.” You say, “leisure” and we say “lizuray.” You say “baysil” and we say “bahsil.” You say “’erbs” and we say “herbs,” because there’s a fucking “H” in it…]

Just as there are dialects of many other languages, there are many dialects of English.  Enjoy learning to understand them, I certainly have.

Wikileaks and people who disagree with you

I do understand (though don’t agree with) the whole “the USA is the best goddamn country in the world!” thing you have going there, and it’s great you think so.  Generally this isn’t a problem, unless you start targeting people or organisations who disagree with you.  Wikileaks and Julian Assange are clearly going for the biggest target by publishing confidential to secret material on the US, but on the other hand, given you claim to be the “Leader of the Free World” and yet didn’t invite anyone else to vote on such, having information that you have suppressed, or information about activities you have conducted that may be illegal or unethical and publishing that so the rest of the world knows what you are doing in Iraq, Afghanistan and on the broader diplomatic stage is really a no-brainer.

No matter what you may personally think of Julian Assange or Wikileaks or even exposing/embarrassing the US, he hasn’t actually done anything illegal by publishing this material (not even in Australia).  The individual/s who stole the material in the first place did something illegal, but to call for Assange’s assassination or rendition, to call him and his organisation terrorists, to call him a traitor (here’s a tip – he’s not a US citizen) and to wish to charge him with espionage is all a bit beyond reason.  Pressuring organisations to cease their support of Wikileaks because it has become inconvenient is also wrong – whatever happened to Freedom of Speech – even when it is speech you disagree with?

To even suggest that laws should be written and made retrospective so that Assange can be charged in the US goes against the great legal system you claim to own – and make a mockery of it entirely.

Medical matters

Despite your frequent claims to have the best medical care system in the world, I know many USians who disagree with that.  From where I stand, you appear to have a great health system if you are a) insured and b) have money.  Your scaremongering (well those who did scaremonger) about the whole “Socialist medical system” was hugely insulting to nations like mine, who have such a system that works really well thank you very much.  Yes you might have to pay a little bit extra in tax, but what is the problem with that if you get heavily subsidised medical care and don’t need the same level of insurance (therefore potentially not being out of pocket)?

It was this post that summed up (in the comments) the arguments against “socialised health care”.  The author of the post was describing the $100,000 she spends each year on medication (mostly covered by insurance) to manager her condition and how she supports universal health care.  One commenter wrote:

“universal health care would relieve the financial burden on my family”

Yes but it would shift to your neighbors. Would you steal from them to pay for your care? No, but it’s OK if the government takes it first and then gives it to you?

Katherine’s story is tragic and I would drop some money in the plate if it were passed.

But the problem with “universal health care,” “single payer system,” or “socialized health care” is that every tragic story is turned into a lien on everyone’s bank account. Does the sufferer have the right to the wealth of others by virtue of the suffering? These are tough questions but life is tough.

This is the big problem I have with the US and their fear of universal health care.  For starters sharing burdens across a whole nation for those less fortunate than yourself should not be something to whine about.  The claim that this commenter would put money in a plate/hat/receptacle might be valid… for the first few times, but after that, do you think that they’d continually dip into their pockets to support someone without state sanctioned efforts behind it?

And yes, the sufferer has the right to the “wealth of others” by virtue of their suffering.  It’s called community.  Australia is by no means perfect, but I do not begrudge my ill and disabled neighbours their permanent or temporary suffering when I pay taxes for universal health care.  Because I know that I will be temporarily or permanently ill and/or disabled in the future.  It’s a form of insurance for myself as well as looking out for others who need help now.  If paying an extra 1% in tax meant that universal health care would be covered more broadly (to say cover dentistry) then I’d happily pay that extra.  The fact that so many USians baulk at helping others and ensuring that if something bad happens to them that they’ll have the medical help they’ll need at low or no cost staggers me completely.

Another thing that staggers me about US healthcare is the amazing cost of treatment in the US.  I’ve been admitted into hospital through emergency twice in the last 5 years, once for an ectopic pregnancy and the other time for a miscarriage.  I walked out of that hospital (same one both times) with nothing to pay.  I stayed in there for around 5 days both times.  The taxes I’d paid covered the cost of my excellent treatment.  The taxes that my husbands, sisters, parents, friends, lovers, neighbours, enemies, colleagues and acquaintances have paid, covered my emergency treatment.

When I read stories such as s.e.smith’s about ou’s access to contraceptive medication and how much that costs in the US, I am appalled.  Ou pays around $US 800 pa on a method of contraception.  That works out to be around $66 a month.  The most expensive contraceptive medication I am aware of in Australia is the Nuva Ring, which works out at $AU 70 for 3 months, and is not subsidised by the Government.


Basically the world is a big place with many different people living in different situations.  Not everyone is going to agree with you, that isn’t a bad thing, it’s just a thing.  Not everyone is going to be happy with what you do and what you have, and perhaps that’s something you should sit and think about before declaring that there is only one true way to do whatever it is they’re unhappy about.  And perhaps you should stop being so bloody scared of socialism.  What on earth do you think it is anyway?

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