Not an aviation-related note, but given that many of my readers are also plugged into the travel industry, here’s an interesting diablogue between Bryan Caplan and Tyler Cowen.
When Americans visit Europe, they see a lot to like: Charming boulevards, delicious food, and historic cities that feel safe. When Europeans visit the U.S., it’s not so pretty: While major American cities are impressive, their inhabitants can be more than a little scary even after the sharp decline in crime rates. From an American or European tourist’s point of view, Europe seems not just more aesthetic than the U.S., but more hospitable.
He argues that American tourists see the quaintest and nicest parts of Europe, while most Europeans live in less appealing suburbs, and those who live in the attractive urban centers cannot afford to enjoy it much. Meanwhile, European tourists see some of America’s grungiest places (“NYC and SF are basically uglier, scarier versions of the premiere European cities”) but avoid the attractive suburbs where most Americans (happily) live.
“Europe is a better place for most people to visit,” he concludes. “But America is a better place for most people to live.”
Tyler, with a dig at modernist architecture:
Bryan gives some good reasons why America is better for 37-year-olds with young children, namely lots of living space and easy shopping. But I view much of Western Europe as better for the elderly, if only because it requires less driving and they are more likely to live close to their children and perhaps also they receive more respect. Western Europe is probably better for children too, for reasons related to safety and health care”
My alternative view is that Americans rate European life so highly (in part) because the buildings from previous eras are so striking and attractive. If all of the U.S. looked like U.S. postwar construction, the country would still impress more or less as it does. If all of Europe looked like its postwar construction, Americans would be less likely to admire European policies and political institutions. Yes I know about Lille, and contemporary Spanish architecture, but in reality most Americans would think of Europe as some kind of dump.
What do you think?