America seen from the Netherlands

At the end of this excellent piece by Russell Shorto, an American expat in Amsterdam, a Dutch author named Geert Mak says to him:

America is the land of the free. But I think we are freer.

Now, where have we heard this before? Oh, right, it’s how I started my ongoing ‘freedom lover’s critique of America‘, only I chose to say the same thing about Hong Kong vis-à-vis America.

Shorto does a very thoughtful and balanced job on some of the same themes I’ve covered in this series so far, including notions about inequality and healthcare. Compare, for example, the tenor of what I’ve been saying about oppressive American bureaucracy and what this American expat tells the author:

The amazing thing is that virtually every experience [here in the Netherlands] has been more pleasant than in the U.S. There you have the bureaucracy, the endless forms, the fear of malpractice suits. Here you just go in and see your doctor. It shows that it doesn’t have to be complicated.

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