back to where we started from

The multilingual Anne was exactly right. So much for my little identity crisis.

Jennifer Saylor, Freelance Writer it is.

I reserve the right to totally play with that picture in the header.

14 responses to “back to where we started from

  1. “The multilingual Anne”, that was funny… I guess that was my 15 sec. of fame then … (the average period of fame in anybody’s lifetime)

    I have been told that in the US, learning foreign languages in primary school and high school is not mandatory. In Denmark, English plus German is mandatory in primary school and English plus a 2. foreign language (Spanish, French or German – most choose Spanish) is mandatory in high school (or at least, that is how it was). And German might go out of primary school and be replaced by Chinese! That is at least what some politicians have suggested.

    It is quite a nice blog you have here, well written, thoughtful, and inspiring… I have added the link to my blogroll as the only English lingual blog so far, so my blogroll is multilingual too now :-) ha ha.

  2. Hey Anne,

    In the U.S., studying a foreign language, to the best of my knowledge, is now mandatory in high school, and offered in some middle schools. IMO the typical American student nowadays gets 2 semesters of Spanish — enough to remember how to say please, thank you, man, woman, and hello. College students have to take two more semesters, and those lucky few probably get a rudimentary command of the language, enough to have a stilted conversation with somebody.

    There isn’t an emphasis on learning language, traveling, or exploring other cultures here. To America’s credit, we don’t have the geographic advantages that Europeans have regarding ease of travel — America is a big country, and it takes a lot of time and money for most of us even to get to Mexico or Canada, much less Italy or Germany. There’s no cultural tradition of taking travel holidays, and the culture treats leisure and vacation as a sort of laziness.

    Certainly there are plenty of well-traveled exceptions. But IMO a lack of international travel and having only one language is the sad norm.

    I’m glad you like my blog! Thanks for the link and the kind words.

    Jennifer

  3. Thank you for some interesting insight!

    Sounds like Spanish is the preferred US second language… makes sense, since Latin America is so close, and there is a huge population of latinos…

    True, I have rarely met American tourists in Denmark and in Sydney where I live now. It seems odd to me that vacation is culturally seen as a kind of laziness though.

    Here (both DK and Oz, actually) taking a year off just travelling abroad, using all of your money plus more, is something you would write in your CV and be proud of. Travelling with no specific purpose other than experiencing other cultures is assumed to mature a person and to develop his/her inter cultural skills, which is assumed to be very valuable.

    Having slept on a white beach in a tourist area on Honolulu is of course not rated very high though. 1) work experiences, and 2) studies abroad, are of course far most valuable.

    Given the context of the increasingly globalised world, employee’s inter cultural understanding is seen as an important asset for firms in international business (which is, most firms). But even for local jobs like child nursery or caring for elderly, having travelled abroad it is still seen as an advantage, as it is assumed to having matured the person.

    Guess it is natural that English speaking countries are not so concerned with learning other languages though, as English is the “Lingua Franca” in most of the world. Furthermore, US firms has a huge home market. But learning about other cultures is critical I think, in the context of the increasingly globalised economy – and world politics. US is not exactly admired for its international politics skills, and I think a major reason could be Mr. Bush’s (and his kinds’) lack of inter cultural sensitivity.

    In a multicultural society, like US, learning about different cultures is perhaps an automatic process. On the other hand, maybe each culture has its own parallel society and does not intermingle much. That is the way it works with Arabs in Denmark. We learn nothing about them because they live in their own parallel societies, under their own weird rules, and are widely mistrusted. They are the only large group of immigrants that we have.

    Here in Sydney, some cultures (like Italian, Greek) seems completely blended in and you see many white Australians with this dark curly hair somehow Mediterranean mixed look… besides the Irish and the Crocodile Dundee look, of course. Other cultures, like the Lebanese and to some extend Chinese (not all of them though) seems to primarily stick to their own kind.

    Not that I know so much about it, I am just studying here… so this is just observations from the surface.

    Anne

  4. > Sounds like Spanish is the preferred US second
    > language… makes sense, since Latin America is so
    > close, and there is a huge population of latinos…

    Yep. Many cities, including the one where I live now, have a large Mexican population, and learning Spanish is considered practical. (It’s also easy!)

    > It seems odd to me
    > that vacation is culturally seen as a kind of
    > laziness
    > though.

    Perhaps not perceived as laziness, perhaps I was too extreme, but corporate culture thinks of it that way, as a wasteful break from the real business of life, which is work and production. I’ve had bosses that told me that sick days didn’t exist to them. For someone to go without a vacation for a year or more is not uncommon here, and the typical amount of vacation taken is two weeks per year.

    > Here (both DK and Oz, actually) taking a year off
    > just
    > travelling abroad, using all of your money plus
    > more,
    > is something you would write in your CV and be proud
    > of.

    Here I think it’d look good to some employers, but not be something that someone would think of as a selling point of their resume the way you describe. An attractive prospective employee here in the U.S. has a useful degree from a prestigious school; travel experience and speaking another language has no general value that I am aware of.

    > Given the context of the increasingly globalised
    > world, employee’s inter cultural understanding is
    > seen
    > as an important asset for firms in international
    > business (which is, most firms). But even for local
    > jobs like child nursery or caring for elderly,
    > having
    > travelled abroad it is still seen as an advantage,
    > as
    > it is assumed to having matured the person.

    I’m not aware of either corporate America or the everyday U.S. citizen really having much appreciation of the advantages you mention.

    > US is not exactly
    > admired for its international politics skills, and I
    > think a major reason could be Mr. Bush’s (and his
    > kinds’) lack of inter cultural sensitivity.

    A friend who have traveled to Australia and NZ fairly recently came back with a saddened sense that America had let people down in the time since the WTC attacks, that a country that was once respected and admired internationally more than we Americans knew is now viewed with growing discomfort and disrespect.

    > In a multicultural society, like US, learning about
    > different cultures is perhaps an automatic process.

    Yes and no. African-American culture, certainly, is a huge force in the national culture, and very much a part of Southern culture that white mainstream America has access to in a positive way. But many other cultures, just like Denmark’s Arabs, just have their own enclaves. I guess it kind of depends. For example, in Florida, Cuban culture, island culture, and Puerto Rican culture are well mixed with mainstream culture. But here in Asheville, our Ukrainian people are an invisible enclave, as are our Mexicans. I guess it’s a language thing. I don’t know why some groups mix and some don’t.

    A Pakistani-American friend once observed that America is not always a melting pot but a tossed salad, where the ingredients coexist but do not mix.

    That said, I remember a newscaster once saying something about a space shuttle crew that I never forgot, that it was a crew that could only come from America. The members — all Americans — were ethnically European, African, South Asian, all over the map. America is that way too — the idea of this country being a place of opportunity for immigrants is not a myth.

    And I remember Boing Boing’s Xeni Jardin blogging about goofing around in a gay California neighborhood, seeing the amazing openness and diversity of gay culture in the U.S. She said it made her proud to be an American. It made me proud, too.

  5. Thank you very much for your enriching “Cultural Learnings of America” :-D
    I really appreciate your effort explaining all this… it is very interesting to read.

    What you describe is so much of a contrast to the approach I am familiar with!

    For someone to go without a vacation for a year or more is not uncommon here, and the typical amount of vacation taken is two weeks per year.

    He he… You are talking to someone from a country where all employees have the right and duty to five weeks paid vacation each year…

    The Danish/Scandinavian rationale is, that to perform well in the long run and stay healthy (as medical assistance are paid for by the state, including surgery, fertility treatment and so on) people need a long break to completely recover from their stressful job, so they can spend time with their family and kids. So the little nuclear family has time to enjoy life together and the kids can grow up happy and confident. Sounds like a little idealistic bubble world? Sure it is…

    hey, … but how can we afford all the state-subsidised benefits – paid vacation, paid education, paid medical assistance, paid whatever, high public standards… because all this are facts.

    Here it comes (sit down): the low-income tax is around 40-45 %, and the higher-income tax almost 70 %!
    Grgrlg! Have you ever heard a Dane cry about taxes? Could you make him stop?? …..

    Salaries are of course corresponding high, though. My husband earned more as a cleaning assistant in Denmark than he earns now working as an acoustic consultant in Sydney. even taken into consideration Australia’s low taxes and lower living costs.

    Studying in Sydney, I enjoy the Danish State’s support for all Danish students. My living costs are thus covered, so all I have to worry about is the tuition fee (terrifying enough, though). If I had chosen to take my Master degree in Denmark (a 2 year Danish Candidate degree), there would have been no tuition fee to pay either.

    The support for students, is in fact the Danish State’s investment in the future tax base… and because studying abroad is assumed to ad valuable skills to Denmark’s competitive profile, it is heavily encouraged. From 2008, besides support for living costs, an additional student support will be introduced, covering a major part of the tuition fee for Danes studying abroad… (too late for me, unfortunately).

    The trust in education abroad is risky business for the state though. Who says the International students will eventually return to home base!

    A friend who have travelled to Australia and NZ fairly recently came back with a saddened sense (…) that a country that was once respected and admired internationally more than we Americans knew is now viewed with growing discomfort and disrespect.

    Yes, sad…. But I think that in most of Asia including India, and in the new European countries (Eastern Europe), the brand of America is still going strong. However, in most of EU-15, and Australia and NZ, America seems to have an image problem right now. In my tiny home country Denmark, the situation is like this: 10-15 years ago, studying and travelling in US was really “cool” and US was seen as the locomotive pulling the world economy. Today, nobody wants to study in US, and if they do, they explain why. One-year-abroad trips are now typically going to Australia, NZ, Latin America or Asia (mostly Oz and/or Asia), and some people suggest that the US economy will eventually collapse within 10 years, and the Asian region take over as the locomotive of the global economy. – Not that it is what the majority believe! but it is part of the rumours.

    Here in Sydney, the picture is more mixed though, with particularly Asians and ABC’s – Australian Born Chinese, being very loyal to the traditional view of US as the country of opportunities and important for a business career .. while the Australian (~white) students I have worked with most often had a more negative attitude to US… I think one major reason for this could be conflicts of opinions regarding Australia’s participation in the Iraq war.

    Perhaps the problem is similar to the problem of the French wine industry. In the good old days you would naturally buy a French red wine, because France was the true country of origin for red wine, in mainstream view.

    But after Chirac’s nuclear bomb tests on some beautyful islands in the… 80’s? 90’s? … a strong hostility against French products and especially symbols of French culture such as French cuisine and red wine, appeared.

    When I worked as a bartender in 2002-03, we did not sell French red wine because my boss (a hunter, nature lover, and right wing man) was still angry about the nuclear bomb testing. Looking at the shelves in an average supermarket in Denmark, it seems French red wine has lost its dominance to particularly, Chilean, Argentine, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese wines. Most people I know don’t know why they prefer not to buy French red wine, they usually argue that “South American wines are better value for the money”, “Italian wines has more style and goes better with red beef”, “French wine are more sour”, and so on.

    In my undergraduate degree, I made a qualitative survey about everyday- wine buyer behaviour together with two other students. The survey included 9 in-depth interviews. What was really interesting to discover was people’s rationalisations for basically irrational rules-of thumb.

    Our survey could of course never be representative (small sample size, non-random selection method, and so on) and conclusive like a quantitative survey, but it gave some interesting insights anyway.
    Most our respondents did not, or rarely, buy French red wine. This was rationalised with arguments such as “French wine has a sour taste”, “it does not fit my cooking style”, “Italian wine is more fruity”, and so on (two did mention the nuclear tests). When I was a kid and young, red wine just had to be French, otherwise it was not real red wine!

    My point is that French wine farmers has nothing to do with the nuclear tests, but red wine being the major symbol of French culture, became the target for anger triggered by the nuclear tests.

    The situation could be compared to the effects of US international politics may have on the perception of American culture and some American products… That was what your friend met, I think. However, the American brand will surely recover in time, as it has done before. “Time is the greatest healer” (direct translation of old saying…)… but it would be wise to reform the American presidential standard in the long run, though.

    A Pakistani-American friend once observed that America is not always a melting pot but a tossed salad, where the ingredients coexist but do not mix.

    A beautyful vision – The same could be said about the remark about the space shuttle crew. A bit like Star Trek, isn´t it! :-D

  6. Huh??? Where did the block quote html go???

    Now, the above will be quite confusing to read, because the quotes are within the text with no marks around it! I don’t know what happened!

    These are the quotes:

    >For someone to go without a vacation for a year or more is not >uncommon here, and the typical amount of vacation taken is two weeks >per year.

    >A friend who have travelled to Australia and NZ fairly recently came back >with a saddened sense (…) that a country that was once respected and >admired internationally more than we Americans knew is now viewed >with growing discomfort and disrespect.

    >A Pakistani-American friend once observed that America is not always a >melting pot but a tossed salad, where the ingredients coexist but do not >mix.

    Sorry for the chaos…

  7. Now I can see what I did wrong regarding the html… wrote block quote in two words… stupid me, sorry for the mess. Anne.

  8. Anne,

    I can read your comments perfectly, even without the blockquotes.

    > The Danish/Scandinavian rationale is, that to
    > perform
    > well in the long run and stay healthy (as medical
    > assistance are paid for by the state, including
    > surgery, fertility treatment and so on) people need
    > a
    > long break to completely recover from their
    > stressful
    > job, so they can spend time with their family and
    > kids. So the little nuclear family has time to enjoy
    > life together and the kids can grow up happy and
    > confident. Sounds like a little idealistic bubble
    > world? Sure it is…

    Wow. Sounds like DK sure has a saner, better, way of doing things.

    I wonder if America’s slavish devotion to work is not so much from corporate greed, but from America’s relatively recent identity as a colony. The first white settlers here had to work their asses off or die, and I think that perhaps my country’s ideas about the value of work and the devaluing of vacation and rest come from that time.

    > Here it comes (sit down): the low-income tax is
    > around
    > 40-45 %, and the higher-income tax almost 70 %!

    I was actually somewhat familiar with these facts from a BBC article I read a few years back, and liked so much that I saved:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/4223148.stm

    I think that high income taxes are a perfectly reasonable trade-off for free health care, vacation, and partially subsidized higher education.

    Don’t get me started on healthcare here in the US, which is only available by purchase from large corporations, typically in the form of a plan that your employer pays for. If you are self-employed or work for a company that does not offer healthcare, you have no free healthcare, period. So its almost always the poor people who have the most expensive healthcare costs.

    I know two people who had to have life-saving surgery with no health insurance, and both were gouged bu hospitals to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. They had to have surgery, and they had no healthcare because they were poor, so they were stuck with hospital bills so large they could never pay them.

    If you get sick in America and you have no healthcare, the hospital will accept you grudgingly, kick you out as soon as possible, overcharge you while you are there, and you will be stuck with a bill for $40,000 or so. Happens every day.

    > Studying in Sydney, I enjoy the Danish State’s
    > support
    > for all Danish students. My living costs are thus
    > covered, so all I have to worry about is the tuition
    > fee (terrifying enough, though). If I had chosen to
    > take my Master degree in Denmark (a 2 year Danish
    > Candidate degree), there would have been no tuition
    > fee to pay either.

    Good God. That’s the way to do things. Educate the people, lift them up, and be paid back by the taxes they pay on their higher wages! I have always wondered why America doesn’t subsidize education more. Many, many people here skip college because they can’t afford it, when how can anyone not afford the ticket to a long-term increase in wages and personal satisfaction? How can any country not insure that there are zero barriers to having the most eduacated populace possible?

    > Today, nobody wants to
    > study in US, and if they do, they explain why.

    Sad, but not unexpected.

    > some people suggest that the US economy
    > will eventually collapse within 10 years, and the
    > Asian region take over as the locomotive of the
    > global
    > economy. – Not that it is what the majority believe!
    > but it is part of the rumours.

    Oh my God. Whoa, it is very, very enlightening to hear these perspectives!

    > In my undergraduate degree, I made a qualitative
    > survey about everyday- wine buyer behaviour together
    > with two other students. The survey included 9
    > in-depth interviews. What was really interesting to
    > discover was people’s rationalisations for basically
    > irrational rules-of thumb.

    Shit, how do you think Bush got elected in 2004, but by specious rationalizations like that? I read in the BBC after the 2004 Presidential election that Bush supporters typically said they supported Bush because “he’s a good man,” “he understands what America needs,” and other fairly meaningless statements. Supporters of the opponent, John Kerry, typically said that they supported Kerry because of specifics like, “I agree with his policy for the Iraq War,” or “I like that he supports nationwide healthcare.”

    I don’t understand why so many have been suckered by Bush and his administration. Like many Americans, I feel paralyzed and powerless, aware that I am somehow culpable but clueless as to how to make amends for 100,000 deaths.

  9. Hey Jen,

    Very intriguering!

    My husband found it interesting to read too; I printed the discussion out and showed him… He once considered US versus Oz in the past, as a target for studies and immigration, and what you describe does not conflict with the common picture of the US system. But it is surprising that it is that extreme.

    My husband is Romanian, and like many Eastern Europeans his parents used to dream of immigration to the US. He has an American middle name because his parents expected the family would eventually live in the US. Two times, they had all the family’s things packed in boxes, but they never took off.
    One time they were worried my husband (then a teenager and party lion) would spiral out of control if brought to US, and the other time his dad figured that he would have to leave his management position in Romania for a scratch start as a cleaning assistant or something similar in the US, and maybe never make it up the career ladder again.

    I believe it was a good thing they stayed… they are not driving BMW, but have a decent life, even in the poorest country in Europe.

    The picture I drew of Denmark was of course a bit over simplified; there are exceptions from healthcare support (e.g, dentist work) and of course also negative sides of the system, let alone the high tax. For example, some people might get lazy and just take it for granted that the State will take care of them, thus live an unproductive life.

    A serious downside to high minimum salaries is high expectations to every single worker’s productivity … one of the reasons why so many Middle Eastern and African peasant immigrants and refugees can not access the job market. The general expectations to job productivity (including: self discipline, flexible thinking, independence, and customer service skills) are often way above their head even for a cleaning job. Not only immigrants, but people who have been out of the job market for a while and other problem groups find it difficult to get a way in, because employers’ requirements to productivity – they pay a high price so they expect a high return.

    The strong Danish labour organisations have been the driving force behind the benefits for Danish workers (five weeks paid holiday, high minimum salaries and so on), and the leaders are often narrow minded, so the organisations’ demands can spiral out of control and hurt the job market. Especially taken into consideration the vulnerability of the Danish job market in the context of global competition. The “globalisation of the economy” – the buzzword of the decade – puts pressure on the Scandinavian model, and everybody observes Asia now … The region from where we expect the major threats and the great opportunities to raise in the horizon.

    But in general, I agree that the welfare model is prudent and intelligent…

    The healthcare situation you describe (including your two friends who needed a surgery)… that situation sounds hazard to me, like social chaos… That is how I imagine it could be to live in India, or Africa… but not a modern Western society like America.

    I read the article from your link. Now, Norway is a bit different because the lucky bastards have those huge oil reserves. Denmark is the most southern and perhaps the most liberal Scandinavian country…. But you are right, all Scandinavian countries are basically devoted to “the Scandinavian Welfare Model”, and despite some backslashes and tax complaints, it works quite well…

    However, I don’t think it would necessarily work well in other parts of the world. Like with US, the Scandinavian way is rooted in the culture, history and nature of the people, and that is probably why all the Scandinavian countries has this model.

    Here is another version of a welfare system, that is not really on the map anywhere..:

    Romania, poor as it is, also have paid medical service, paid primary and higher education (in the form of scholarships for students with a certain average grade or above), and high taxes!

    However, high taxes does not help much when salaries are bottom-low, unemployment figures are high, and the country is throughout corrupted!

    A Romanian man I talked with yesterday (president of the Australian Romanian Association in NSW… this was the guy I think) told me that a friend of his living in Romania, who had excellent university grades from a respected Romanian university, in a job interview was presented for the expectation that he would pay $3000 just to get the job!

    Romania has just been awarded membership of European Union a few days ago, so I assume things will change. We were to a celebration of this on the Romanian Consulate in Sydney yesterday, that is were the above piece of a conversation comes from.

    To finish… Clever Romanians use the paid education as the take-off board to immigration to Western Europe, Australia or the US. Brain drain… There is a Romanian joke saying that “the last person leaving Romania should remember to turn off the light”… once used to describe what was expected to happen when Romania joined EU :-D

    I don’t understand why so many have been suckered by Bush and his administration. Like many Americans, I feel paralyzed and powerless, aware that I am somehow culpable but clueless as to how to make amends for 100,000 deaths.

    I understand your frustrations…

    Besides, in my opinion the American elective system is not very democratic after all. So it might not even be the majority of Americans who have voted for Mr. President.

    Now, I will finish this comment looping back to the start of the discussion with a notice from the free Sydney paper “mx” from the train yesterday (January 10 2007, p.5):

    Meet the fly generation
    More than 40 per cent of young Australian workers hope to take a year off work to travel overseas, a survey has found.
    The STA travel survey found one in four Generation Y workers had travelled extensively between graduating university and starting full-time work. In total, 70 per cent of the Y Generation have spent considerable time overseas. Almost half of all travelling Australians consider their trip a “working holiday” and pick up job skills overseas.
    “These experiences are character building and are what makes our younger workforce confident, innovative and in tune with the global economy”, a spokesman said.

    Though Australia is somewhat geographically isolated too, there appear to be an emphasis on travelling abroad as an important way to gain competitiveness (my interpretation) in the globalised economy which contrasts the American view you have presented…

    “Character building” seems to equal what we in Denmark call “maturing”.

    Thank you for this great discussion and cultural insight!

    Best regards, Anne

  10. OBS. With 3000 i figured the man meant Aussie $

    PS. Hooray… the

    blockquote

    tag works!

  11. > The healthcare situation you describe (including
    > your
    > two friends who needed a surgery)… that situation
    > sounds hazard to me, like social chaos… That is how
    > I
    > imagine it could be to live in India, or Africa… but
    > not a modern Western society like America.

    Go ahead and imagine America that way, Anne, because that is how it is.

    My sister had pancreatitis and a gall bladder that needed to come out. This is life-saving surgery; she had no choice but to have it. She was hospitalized for a few days, and her bill was about $20,000 — after much of it was waived because the hospital had rushed her home with pancreatitis days before, not detecting and treating it in a previous emergency room visit.

    One of my best friends had a ruptured ovary. She too had surgery and hospitalization. She didn’t get anything waived. Her bill was about $40,000.

    This is what happens when you have no health insurance in the U.S. You do get care, but you don’t get the best care, and your bill amounts to more than a year’s salary.

    > Besides, in my opinion the American elective system
    > is
    > not very democratic after all. So it might not even
    > be
    > the majority of Americans who have voted for Mr.
    > President.

    We Americans hear that too, that voting machines are unreliable, that the poor and disenfranchised (mostly voting Democrat) are discouraged from getting to the polls… I think there is corruption, but I think this country’s main problem is ignorance. I will never see my country the same way after the second Bush election. I really thought that we as a whole were smarter and less ignorant than that. It’s a terrible thing to feel alienated from your own people.

    > More than 40 per cent of young Australian
    > workers
    > hope to take a year off work to travel overseas, a
    > survey has found.

    Anne, if I had my way, that’s what everyone would do. At age 18, instead of rushing right into college, young people would take a year or two to travel and to apprentice with people who did the kind of work that they were interested in doing. (I’d bring back the apprentice system, too.)

    > Thank you for this great discussion and cultural
    > insight!

    My thanks to you and your husband, too, for a great conversation!

  12. What you tell about the medical system is really shocking!
    I have heard something like that before but thought it was an extreme example far from everyday life.

    But, apparently not. I hope you sister and friend are alright now… guess they have a huge debt to pay off.

    Regarding the election system; no I did not mean corruption or errors but the system itself. Where one state has one vote (according to my information), so if 99 % votes for Mr.X, that state’s vote goes to him, and if 51 % votes for him, same result.

    Not that this system would favour a specific person!

    But even for a person with my limited numeracy skills it occurs that the election outcome must as a result rely partly on “non-relevant” (~democracy-wise) factors. System-technical strategic flair, and talent for seduction of the right minority at the right point in time, are likely to play a major role in a system like that!

    Given my information of how the election system works is correct in the first place, of course!

    Thank you for your attention to yet another input to the seemingly endless discussion of the topic America vs. the rest of the world. :-)

  13. My sister and my friend both recovered normally, but I guess their credit is shot for life. These bills are so large that my friend just ignores hers. She is an unemployed college student who lives on federal student loans, and she has no money to pay the bill. What other option does she have?

    > Regarding the election system; no I did not mean
    > corruption or errors but the system itself. Where
    > one
    > state has one vote (according to my information), so
    > if 99 % votes for Mr.X, that state’s vote goes to
    > him,
    > and if 51 % votes for him, same result.

    Oh, you are talking about the U.S. Electoral College! Like Daylight Saving Time, I think that this is an outdated system that needs to go. A shining example of the human tendency to keep outdated customs around because we are used to them, and shedding them makes us feel scared and uncertain:

    The Electoral College is a controversial mechanism of presidential elections that was created by the framers of the U.S. Constitution as a compromise for the presidential election process. At the time, some politicians believed a purely popular election was too reckless, while others objected to giving Congress the power to select the president. The compromise was to set up an Electoral College system that allowed voters to vote for electors, who would then cast their votes for candidates, a system described in Article II, section 1 of the Constitution.

    Each state has a number of electors equal to the number of its U.S. senators (2 in each state) plus the number of its U.S. representatives, which varies according to the state’s population. Currently, the Electoral College includes 538 electors, 535 for the total number of congressional members, and three who represent Washington, D.C., as allowed by the 23rd Amendment. On the Monday following the second Wednesday in December, the electors of each state meet in their respective state capitals to officially cast their votes for president and vice president. These votes are then sealed and sent to the president of the Senate, who on Jan. 6 opens and reads the votes in the presence of both houses of Congress. The winner is sworn into office at noon Jan. 20. Most of the time, electors cast their votes for the candidate who has received the most votes in that particular state. However, there have been times when electors have voted contrary to the people’s decision, which is entirely legal.

    Insane! It’s time to bring back the popular vote, but no one has. Thus Gore WINNING THE MAJORITY OF VOTES, but being defeated under the anachronistic and paternalistic Electoral College.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Electoral_College

    http://www.howstuffworks.com/electoral-college.htm

  14. Yes, it was that one…

    Thanks for the detailed information.

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