Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The difference between Americans and others

"And it is this that makes one compare in its essentials life in the Far East with life in America. Both are pioneer. They are living in the future. They have no past. The present is something that is to be scraped in a few years' time. The Americans do not build motor cars that will last a lifetime. They do not want things that will last a lifetime. In a few years greater knowledge and facilities will have produced better models. We are told that the Americans think about nothing except money, though this criticism does not come too well from a class that spends a third of its time discussing death duties, income tax, the cost of living and servants' wages. But the American only likes money because there is so much for him to buy with it. The American attitude to money is different from the European. When an American is in debt it is because he is living upon a shoe-string; he has bought up shares and real estate because he had the money handy for the first installment, but finds the meeting of the subsequent installments is beyond his means. The American mortgages his future, the Englishman more often mortgages his past. He arranges a reversion. He sells or borrows money on a section of his property. He draws upon his capital. The American in anticipating his income is forced to realize his potentialities."

Alec Waugh, Hot Countries, pps. 200-201

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