Skip to main content

I am an American expat who has been living in Iceland for nearly two years now.  Watching the rhetoric back home is so discouraging, particularly regarding healthcare. This was a status I recently posted to Facebook after seeing all of the ridiculous statements being made about "Obamacare" and how Romney's plan is "the better alternative." Americans are brainwashed by the rhetoric coming from the insurance industry, which wants us to believe that socialism means rationed, sub-par care, when in reality, because of the unavoidable conflict between profit and patient care, no for-profit company should be providing health care in the first place.  

p.s.  In a recent poll, 98% of Icelanders said they would vote for Obama over Romney.

Posting this here for my friends back home who seem to believe that socialized healthcare is the enemy to freedom. I live in a country with socialized healthcare, and I can tell you that the government does NOT make decisions about the level of care that I can and cannot receive. That would contravene the fundamental right to health care that everyone is guaranteed by this country's constitution. A large part of that is due to the fact that there are no insurance companies with financial incentives and large CEO compensation or lobbyists, and healthcare professionals don't always have the threat of litigation looming overhead. The US healthcare system will not change unless and until all of these issues are adequately addressed.

It means that healthcare costs reflect what it actually ought to cost for care, not the exorbitant amounts that patients currently face in the US. For instance, the cost of childbirth, if one had to pay out of pocket (i.e. they weren't yet in the system with a social security number), including an overnight hospital stay in a private room, is around $1,000. It is nice to not have to worry about going into bankruptcy if I or one of my family members were diagnosed with an illness that required treatment beyond the scope of my insurance plan.

Healthcare is NOT rationed here and has been comparable to anything I have received in the US, if not more hands on. Patients have choices and the ability to seek additional opinions. I have never had to wait for an appointment or treatment. Prescriptions are affordable, and essentially cost the same or less as I paid when insured in NYC. Conversely, a close friend that I know recently had to wait for a month to get in to see a specialist covered under her well known insurer/plan in the NYC area regarding a critical medical issue.

I would choose this system any day of the week over the US system. This fend-for-yourself mentality in the US is absurd and outdated — no other developed country in the world allows its people to flounder the way that Americans do. After living here for almost a couple of years now, I've slowly realized that this notion that we've been taught that the US is the best at everything is simply not true, and this is especially the case with healthcare.

One other thing — we pay a little more in taxes than we paid/would pay on income in NY (federal, and state, and local combined), and with that also get the equivalent to Medicare, Social Security, and subsidized (nearly free) university education. It's just that the wealthy actually pay taxes, too.

Added: We do pay 25% VAT on certain items, but at least for myself, I can say that it's made me reassess my spending habits and what I really need to exist and be happy.

5:58 PM PT: Just to add a bit of context, I moved to Iceland when I was seven months pregnant, primarily because I could not get onto a healthcare plan due to my "pre-existing" condition of being pregnant, and would have had to pay out of pocket (my husband and I were in Denmark and were going to leave for the US or Iceland).  In Iceland, my appointments with a midwife (for check-ups) cost around $50, and my labor/delivery plus hospital stay cost $1,000 (which included medical intervention).  I did have to pay that out of pocket, as I wasn't yet in the system here (there is a six-month grace period), but it was still a lot less than if I'd had to pay in the US.

Originally posted to reykjaviking on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 05:53 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  I took the liberty (13+ / 0-)

    to add comma seperaters in your tags.

    I think your experience chimes with many US expats who encounter various "socialist" health care systems outside the USA. The systems vary in the way the individual subscribes to the service and how the doctors and hospitals receive their payments but the main principle of being able to access affordable or free treatment is consistent.

    Why doesn't Mitt Romney carry an iPhone? Because he has an Ann Droid.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 06:18:58 PM PDT

  •  Awesome diary. Awesome country. (18+ / 0-)

    Know of any job openings? I would love to move out there myself.

    "It strikes me as gruesome and comical that in our culture we have an expectation that a man can always solve his problems" - Kurt Vonnegut

    by jazzence on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 06:20:05 PM PDT

    •  Me, too! (7+ / 0-)

      Seriously, how does one get to live there?

      "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." Winston Churchill

      by Catkin on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 06:25:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  As A Strong Introvert... (13+ / 0-)

        ...I often have these fantasies of living in Iceland (usually in Reykjavik) and being holed up in a comfy apartment with a stack of books during the long, dark winter.  Sigh...

        ....oh, yeah....anyway, I did find this after reading this diary and questions:

        “I believe all Southern liberals come from the same starting point--race. Once you figure out they are lying to you about race, you start to question everything.” ― Molly Ivins

        by RoIn on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 06:50:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  you're not the only one with that fantasy. (5+ / 0-)


          Toleration is the greatest gift of the mind; it requires the same effort of the brain that it takes to balance oneself on a bicycle. -Helen Keller

          by ridemybike on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 07:29:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  nor are they blowing obscene sums of money (11+ / 0-)

            on war and a m.i.c.

            how much nicer one's community is when the funds are spent actually in the community.

            A standing army is like a standing member. It's an excellent assurance of domestic tranquility, but a dangerous temptation to foreign adventure. Elbridge Gerry - Constitutional Convention (1787)

            by No Exit on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 07:48:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Reykjavik (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ridemybike, ems97206

            Once I saw a photo of a part of Reykjavik and even saw the building I wanted to live in.  I've know idea if it was even an apartment building, but that didn't matter.

            “I believe all Southern liberals come from the same starting point--race. Once you figure out they are lying to you about race, you start to question everything.” ― Molly Ivins

            by RoIn on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 05:34:47 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Can you point out the photo (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              or maybe where it is on a map?  I could help you out.  :)

              Note that living downtown is fairly expensive per square meter.  Not like NYC-downtown or even Chicago-downtown expensive, but still "downtown big city" prices rather than "downtown small town" prices.

              •  It Was An Online Photo (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                It has been a while and I don't remember exactly where I saw it and seriously doubt I could find it again.

                I would imagine that living downtown would be pretty expensive -- and all of this is just a daydream and fantasy of mine anyway.  For that matter I don't even know if the photo was in downtown.

                But thanks!

                I must say this diary has sort of reignited those thoughts of a dark winter in Reykjavik with plenty of books to see me through it.

                “I believe all Southern liberals come from the same starting point--race. Once you figure out they are lying to you about race, you start to question everything.” ― Molly Ivins

                by RoIn on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 07:42:59 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Same here n/t (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
        •  Ha ha...reading on long winter nights..... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Larsstephens, ems97206, RoIn

          that sounds like Alaska, where I live, except the people are not as sophisticated or tolerant as Iceland (and it's still the US).

          "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." Winston Churchill

          by Catkin on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 11:02:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  One is not a proper Icelander... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RoIn, Bisbonian

          unless they have a whole wall full of books.

          The amazing thing is when you walk into a bookstore here and see all of the vast numbers of books published in Icelandic... and then realize that only a few hundreds thousand people in the world speak the language and almost all of them also speak English.  That's how strong the interest in books, both writing and reading, is here.

          •  Damn. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Now you make me want to live out my fantasy even more!

            “I believe all Southern liberals come from the same starting point--race. Once you figure out they are lying to you about race, you start to question everything.” ― Molly Ivins

            by RoIn on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 05:36:03 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Permanently or temporarily? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Lots of ways for temporary - in fact, you can stay for up to 3 months with no permit whatsoever.  For temporary work, search for job sites in Iceland written in English.  For permanent (skilled) labor, browse Icelandic job sites, like on  The other main way to move here permanently from outside the Schengen Area is to marry an Icelander.  There are some more difficult ways too, like an act of parliament, but for the most part, it's either permanent work or marriage.

        If you've never been here before, I strongly encourage you to come visit.  It's not even that long of a flight from the US east coast.  Warning: visits to Iceland can be habit forming. Example: I moved here.  ;)

        •  What about self-employment? (0+ / 0-)

          Is that a possibility? Although realistically I would have to master the language before being able to offer my services to all.

          •  There are some provisions for starting up (0+ / 0-)

            a company in Iceland, although that takes a lot of money, and it's controversial (people see it as basically buying your way into residence) - which means that if it's too high profile, it might be blocked.

        •  What about retirees? (0+ / 0-)

          Is is difficult to retire in Iceland if you are financially independent (i.e., have income from pensions, investments, etc.)?

          •  Unfortunately, no. (0+ / 0-)

            There's no "financially independent" permit you can get.

            That said, enforcement of immigration laws for people who aren't causing problems is pretty lax here, I've known quite a few people who have at various points been techincally illegal but nobody cared (including one who's technically been illegal for years).  And if you want to stay legal, you can always keep leaving and coming back - you're allowed to be in for 3 months at a time without a permit (not sure if there's a limit on how frequently you can do that, though).

  •  Was just watching an Icelandic movie and (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bnasley, Aunt Pat, Larsstephens

    they showed helicopters coming to airlift someone who was shot. I presume the state paid for that somehow, not the person?

    •  að sjálfsögðu (of course) n/t (6+ / 0-)

      "A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul." - George Bernard Shaw

      by Drobin on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 07:17:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Shot? That's pretty rare here. (0+ / 0-)

      There's surprisingly many guns here (for hunting), but they're tightly regulated.  In the news a couple months ago, for example, there was a really big story about... wait for it... a guy shooting a gun at the floor in his house (one shot, as a joke).  The police came, he was arrested for reckless endangerment, had to go in for psychological evaluation and treatment, lost his gun permit, everyone was all freaked out, etc.  Can you imagine how the NRA would react to that in the US?  You can own guns here but they're taken very seriously.

      Also, the police don't carry guns.

      You know, the rescue services are pretty active here, both medical and non, but I don't know who pays for them.  Anything medical should be covered by the state (except, if I remember right, dentistry - haven't had a need for that yet).  I suspect all rescue services are covered, but I've really never looked into it.

  •  Icelandic Language Fun Fact(s) (8+ / 0-)

    The Icelandic language is a Germanic language.  It is classified as part of the Scandinavian branch of Germanic languages along with Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish.

    However, because of Iceland's geographic isolation it has changed the least over the years of those Scandinavian languages giving it less intelligibility among them.  But, also as a result of this speakers of Icelandic can read the old Norse epics with minimal difficulty.  

    Icelandic does have some mutual intelligibility with      Faroese which is spoken on the Faroe Islands about halfway between Iceland and the Norwegian mainland.

    “I believe all Southern liberals come from the same starting point--race. Once you figure out they are lying to you about race, you start to question everything.” ― Molly Ivins

    by RoIn on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 07:25:20 PM PDT

    •  I've written a couple diaries about the Icelandic (0+ / 0-)

      language, the latest of which is here.  

      It's not quite true that " speakers of Icelandic can read the old Norse epics with minimal difficulty."  In general, Icelanders can only read transcripts of the epics, not the originals (the writing is very hard for modern Icelanders to read), and even the transcripts arent "minimal difficulty".  It's more comparable to a modern English speaker reading Shakespeare.  But of course Shakespeare was a lot more recent than the old Íslendinga sögur!

  •  I'm so jealous (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, Larsstephens

    man I'd love to live there.

    No Jesus, Know Peace

    by plok on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 07:49:07 PM PDT

    •  Then start learning Icelandic and applying for (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ems97206, Bisbonian


      Don't just wish.  Do.  Don't act like you're a victim of your life's circumstances.  Yeah, an international move is a big deal.  But so is so many other things that people do - going to college, having a kid, etc.

      If you don't want to be in the US and do want to be in Iceland - start learning Icelandic and applying for jobs.  :)  And take the job search seriously, like you would in the US.

    •  First Icelandic lesson: (0+ / 0-)

      Ég vil búa á Íslandi

      Ég: I
      vil (from vilja): want
      búa: to live/reside
      á: in/on/at...
      Íslandi (from Ísland): Iceland.

      I want to live in Iceland.  :)

  •  I'm about to start investigating (5+ / 0-)

    retiring to Iceland.  The difference in the currencies is great for a geezer from the U.S.  

    Sounds like I should get a two-bedroom place and rent out the second bedroom to visiting Kossaks.

    •  A deeply beautiful place, but keep in mind (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catkin, FinchJ

      1) The Islanders are themselves emerging out of an economic deep hole, after their horrid adventure in Anglo-American waste and spend capitalism.

      2) You need a car. No, for serious, you NEED a car. This is coming from someone who lived in LA with just a bike! And you will need a car with excellent 4 wheel drive. The good news is that you can get a plug in car, because of the amazingly cheap hydropower.

      3) Oh, but it is expensive to live in Iceland. If you are used to $10 bottles of evening wine and $10/pound premium steak expect to pay at lesst 3x that much for the same type of stuff. Coffee and tea is quite pricey as well. Much of the produce and meat in Iceland is imported, and wine tax is high. This is necessary, of course, but it is a shock!

      4) Summers are glorious. Winters are long. BUT hey there are hot springs and plenty of hot water, so you will be toasty.

      5) If you can start a small business, Iceland will help with  considerations, especially if it helps with other Islanders have employment.

      •  Re (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        1) I know it's convenient on DK to blame everything on America, but we really dug this hole here ourselves.  The "útrásarvíkingar" put the whole economy on the roulette wheel and gave it a spin and managed to convince the majority that everything was just fine, that all this money suddenly came because Icelandic businessmen were just that good.  Our problem was built from our own private sector.  Mind you, with some help from Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn... (our equivalent of the Republicans)

        2) You don't "need a car".  Lots of people here don't have a car. The whole miðbær party scene is built on people who don't have cars.  I can drive downtown on a party night and 95% of the time park within a block of whatever club I want to go to first.  And plug-in cars are a recent arrival here and have nothing to do with what the power costs.

        3) No arguments with me on the price issue, although I think it's often overplayed to imply that everything is expensive, when that's just not true. Utilities are quite cheap, dairy is cheap, etc.  Also, while it's quite true that most of the produce is imported (and of subpar quality - though tomatoes, lettuce, mushrooms, herbs, and random other stuff are local from the greenhouses), the overwhelming majority of the meat is domestic (and reportedly high quality, although as a vegetarian I wouldn't know).  In general, apart from produce, the food here is just delic.  :)

        •  Hey! Thanks for the clarification! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I was only in Iceland for 8 months over the course of 3 years, so I am certainly no expert!

          1) Not so much blaming America itself but a certain type of freewheeling attitude that is/was prevalent in America: business based not on prudence but using OPM (other people's money) and essentially gambling with it.

          2) I visited Iceland as part of a film crew, so for us, a car was necessary. For most Americans who travel to Iceland, they do want to see the magnificent landscapes, and you would need to have a car to do that.

          3) Oh, the lamb, puffin and fish in Iceland is superb. And that ridiculous hot dog stand in Rey is awesome :-)

    •  Not that easy, unfortunately. (0+ / 0-)

      Gotta work or marry an Icelander if you're not from a Schengen state.

  •  It looks like a Single Payer system (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, calamityjanee, ybruti, NonnyO

    No insurance for profit companies.  Everybody covered.


    And healthcare spending is only 9.2% of GDP vs. 18% here;

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 07:58:50 PM PDT

    •  There's private insurance here, but not (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      much, and it's not "part" of the system.  You don't go to the doctor and tell them your "insurance provider"; either you're in the system or not.  If you buy insurance (either because you're worried about copays for some reason, or if you're an immigrant from a country that doesn't provide healthcare and you have to wait six months to get into the system), you take a receipt of what you paid and file it with them.  It's very rare for people (apart from the aforementioned new immigrants) to have such private insurance.

  •  No one wants the US system (12+ / 0-)

    I know Americans are notoriously resistant to learning from anyone else. But really, we have a bad system. If you lose your job, you lose your health care. If your kid who is on your health care goes to college in another state, he's suddenly "out of network" and the insurance won't pay. This is INSANE.

  •  same here, in South Korea (7+ / 0-)

    So much of what you say there applies equally to the national healthcare system they have here in South Korea, as I'm sure it also applies to Canada, Australia and a lot of other good single-payer systems.  South Korea, as everyone knows who knows anything about this country, is nothing like a Republican-conjured specter of a welfare state dystopia--in key ways the country is more laissez-faire (in, to me, undesirable ways), and much more lacking in a social safety net, than the U.S.  But one thing Korea does have is national healthcare, which works well.  Affordable and efficient.  It's not perfect--for example, coverage for catastrophic illnesses is weak--but by and large people don't have to worry about healthcare costs.  Example:  For childbirth, out-of-pocket costs of delivery are less than $600.  (Natural delivery; caesarean is around $1000.)  Each pre-birth checkups, if you include ultrasounds, cost only around $30, out of pocket.  A visit to a clinic to get a flu shot is less than $10 (although, honestly, the system does sometime encourage what looks to me like overuse of clinics on minor stuff like flu systems).  Integral to all this is the fact that actual total medical costs are low:  Hospitals, clinics, doctors cannot charge very much.  (Related to this, one very heated aspect of the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement was Korea's control of drug costs.)  

    Like you, I'm flabbergasted when my Republican-minded friends and acquaintances in the US assume and insist that "socialized healthcare is the enemy to freedom".  I've try to reason with them sometimes, for instance point them to , including this ("The Conservative Case for Single-Payer Health Reform") but I just can't seem to get through to them.  They are so fixated on this idea that national  healthcare is socialism incarnate.  Once I pointed out to one of these friends of mine that, by his logic and criteria, public education too (and this was a guy who sent three kids through the public schools in Louisiana) is socialism, and quite as immoral a transfer of wealth (allegedly) and, in many many school districts, quite as inefficient, as the Right would have as believe of Obamacare.  This point achieved nothing but a change in subject.

  •  How many Icelanders weigh 150 kilos? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, VeloDramatic

    Iceland can afford a good health care system because Iceland's parliament does not subsidize high fructose corn syrup.

    God does not seem to mind if Icelanders learn about contraception and STD's when they are young so Iceland does not have to pay much for pregnant 15-year-olds.  But God will strike Americans dead if we teach kids about contraception.

    Can't Iceland start some illegal wars against Greenland or the Orkneys or some place like that so they have to spend money on $600 hammers instead of health care?

    •  I know it's suppose to be a joke (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      But it was a bit broad- and a bit ignorant:

      1) Islanders have out of wedlock kids, many in their teens. This has gone on for about 1000 years. This is seen neither as bad nor good- it happens.

      2) The vast majority of Islanders saw their economy go down the drain these past few years due to Anglo-American capitalism. They already had a war that wasted their money.

      •  1st or 2nd highest birth rate in Europe. :) (0+ / 0-)

        We're in a close race with Ireland.  Of course,  the typical approach is different (have lots of unprotected sex with people you don't know that well and generally don't get married).  In Ireland, one in three children are now born out of wedlock.  In Iceland, one in three is born in wedlock.

        I strongly disagree with #2, though.  The crash had nothing to do with "Anglo-American capitalism".  It was domestic.  Not that the British didn't deserve the whole Icesave debacle, but...

        •  More Islander kids (0+ / 0-)

          for the win!

          But for serious, what I was talking about was necessaril the Icesave debacle but the whole bit- the weird showcase projects and the bad overseas investments based on shaky hedging- the same sort of stuff that got North America and Britain and now part of the EU in trouble....

    •  Iceland does have an obesity problem (0+ / 0-)

      It affects kids as well.

    •  You do realize... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...that probably 40% of Iceland's prepackaged goods come from the US, right?  The official national dish of Iceland might as well be pizza or hamburgers.  There's even a restaurant called "American Style" two blocks from my house.  Iceland may or may not have the world's highest coca cola consumption (some sources say Mexico, some say Iceland), but whatever it is, it's massive.  And the drinking here (alcohol) is just epic.

      Now, the obesity problem here isn't as bad as most Icelanders seem to think it is. People here often seem to think that we're like the second fattest place in the world after America.  The reality is, first off, America isn't the fattest in the world; it's something like #11.  A bunch of Pacific island nations, plus Kuwait, have bigger obesity problems.  Iceland was somewhere below 40th last I checked.  People here may eat like Americans in many regards, but at least there's some healthier stuff (whole grains breads are much more popular here, skyr is popular, people eat more seafood, etc), and most people get more exercise (often a good bit more) than in the US.

  •  thanks for posting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat

    the more I read about this, the more starkly the fact that America is a propagandist's dream and a pseudo fascist state.

  •  Thanks for a thoughtful posting (9+ / 0-)

    You make excellent points here

    healthcare professionals don't always have the threat of litigation looming overhead
    and here
    no other developed country in the world allows its people to flounder the way that Americans do
    Americans live in a constant, lifelong state of fear. Fear of losing jobs, of losing income, housing, healthcare, of not being able to pay for education, of not having enough in old age, of dying in poverty.

    Countries with adequate healthcare and social safety nets don't have that. Their citizens can live much more relaxed lives, free of the steady, low-level thrum of panic just below the surface.

    Once seen, it cannot be unseen.

    "There are no Americans at the airport!" -- Baghdad Bob
    "I’ve got a very effective campaign." -- Mitt Romney

    by Mnemosyne on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 09:32:56 PM PDT

  •  american unexceptionalism (8+ / 0-)

    Years ago I got back from a trip to Switzerland and was commenting at work about the differences between Switzerland and the US.  Mainly, I was amazed at how clean and orderly the public transportation was.  You actually wanted to be in the terminals. There was shopping and comfortable places to sit and everything was extremely clean, especially the bathroom.  So I'm describing this and my co-worker just about explodes, "well if it's so great why don't you go live there!".  I was speechless.  

    America is so great, it can not be improved.  We simply must live with the existing worn out policies because, by God, this is America and nothing could be better.  Well, compared to most countries, yes we do have it really, really good here.  But it could be better, way better in a lot of places.  Why is wrong to seek this improvement?

    •  Ahh! The phrase that holds America back: (0+ / 0-)

      "It's the American way".

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      by twigg on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 05:36:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I know when people say that, or when they (0+ / 0-)

      hear that phrase ("well if it's so great why don't you go live there!"), it's taken as a throwaway remark. But I honestly do recommend it. It's hard to get yourself out of the mindset that, "oh, moving, that's a great fantasy, but when it comes down to it, it could never happen".  Um, yes, it can, and if you don't like the US and you do like another country, I strongly recommend moving there.  Put a serious effort into job search, just like you would for a US job search (aka, many months on end if need be - don't just try a couple times and then stop).

      •  But most people DO like the US (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        and DO want to live here.

        But we're also not blind. We can see when somebody has something that works better, when a system can be improved (and improved a LOT), or when something just doesn't work AT ALL.

        Isn't that supposed to be a POSITIVE thing? Businesses don't seem to have a problem with changing the way they do things, or going to a new supplier, or getting new technology. They'll even spend a good chunk of money doing it because it will save them MORE in the long run, and make the company more efficient.

        And they certainly don't care where the idea comes from. They steal ideas from their competitors if it will make them money.

        What they hell is wrong with us that we can't adapt others' ideas?

        •  Re: (0+ / 0-)
          What they hell is wrong with us that we can't adapt others' ideas?
          I stopped being confused and disappointed by all that sort of stuff when I learned to accept the fact that the US actually is a very conservative nation on average, and that you can't fix a worldview problem just by adding more facts to the debate because said facts will simply get interpreted through their worldview.
  •  expat Canadian equally confused by US healthcare (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I've written about this before. I just don't understand a for-profit system run by insurance companies. Canadian healthcare is just as good as the the healthcare here. You don't wait months for specialized procedures, and you certainly don't get a ream of paperwork following you for months afterward.

    People who buy this socialized medicine nonsense couldn't have traveled much or met others from different parts of the world.

    Every time I hear a politician say the number one responsibility of government is to defend the nation (military) I cringe. I'd argue the number one responsibility of the government with tax dollars is to provide healthcare.  

    •  they haven't traveled AT ALL (0+ / 0-)

      They've never done anything or gone anywhere, and they don't believe what anybody else tells them.

      •  There was a wingnut on a forum I follow (0+ / 0-)

        trying to claim that if we were to travel to other countries we would see how much people hate Obama. I said I chat with them and haven't met any that do. She said she chats and they all hate Obama. I asked how many countries she has visited.

        The thread is gone, though it's not clear why. Might be I was trolling her and upsetting the wingnuts who think they shouldn't have to answer to truth. They do go crazy, and it's fun.

        •  In Iceland, support for Obama, according to (0+ / 0-)

          the last poll, is 98% (of those who registered an opinion)  ;)  It's essentially a universal attitude here.  People are just baffled that Romney even be close.

          And a lot of people here follow the US elections a lot closer than I do.

  •  Isn't it nice? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa, NonnyO, ems97206

    I feel the same here in Finland. After moving here four months ago, I am now in the social system. Granted, it was easy since my wife is Finnish, but I've been welcomed with open arms.

    The day Kela (the state social pension office) approved my application for benefits was pretty joyous. No longer would I have to worry about health care- ever. Sure, we pay high taxes, but the peace of mind that comes with the Finnish system is worth it.

    We do have waiting lines for many things, like my first general visit to a dentist, but if it is an emergency you don't wait. While Americans may think that the state would let you die, the thing is the state here wants us to live. Not in some cynical way to collect more taxes-no- they truly want us to be successful.

    In about two weeks I'll be receiving my integration benefit (31.26e per weekday). On November 5th I'll be starting up to one year of language courses, which comes with another 9e per day for travel and food expenses. That adds up to over 1,000 USD per month- pretty much the same I took home at low paying jobs back in the States. Sad, really, that their base unemployment/integration benefits are the same as someone working their ass off full time (and I have access to aforesaid healthcare without paying).

    The government expects that it can take up to two years to learn enough of the language to truly integrate. After, many immigrants start their own businesses- which is my plan. Imagine that, a "socialist" country helping entrepreneurs and giving health care.

    While there are many people who will claim it is only possible because of the small population and homogeneous population, I say that is a terrible excuse. I say it happens because Finns actually care about one another and are not completely self-absorbed (yet, consumerism as a lifestyle is growing rapidly). It is a choice they make, a promise to each other, that makes their little miracle in the north possible. The States, with all its natural resources, wealth, varying climates, and large educated population could do the same. But the mentality to make it happen has been crushed under over forty years of consumption and all-about-me attitudes.

    There are only a small handful of things I do not like about Finland- the long darkness in winter and the high price of goods since we do not have cheap rail links to the rest of the continent. But overall, I'd rather be here any day than in the States.

    A Victory Garden documents my family's experience transitioning from suburban lawn to edible food forest based on permaculture principles. A new blog following my life as an immigrant in Finland will be up soon.

    by FinchJ on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 01:11:08 AM PDT

  •  Whoa! Maya! (0+ / 0-)

    Þú býr líka á Íslandi???  Æði!!!   :)  Ég bý í Kópavogi - þekkirðu Hjallabrekku?  Ætlarðu í Airwaves?

    (Since I don't know whether you're one of those immigrants who didn't bother to learn Icelandic, and since I don't want to be annoying and write in a language that nobody else here reads, I'll revert to English... grumble grumble  ;)  )

    I actually wrote a diary on this very topic a while back!

    I later discovered that it was a mistake that they let me in because I hadn't hit the six month grace period yet, but oh well.  I hit six months... hmm, actually any day now.  I should check to see if I'm in the system.

    "Added: We do pay 25% VAT on certain items, but at least for myself, I can say that it's made me reassess my spending habits and what I really need to exist and be happy." - Wait, you actually buy expensive goods in Iceland?  Now that's not being a proper Icelander!  Any proper Icelander would buy them in London or New York and sneak them back past customs  ;)

    I'm kind of curious how you ended up here.  I've written quite a bit about my "saga", so to speak, although I've not been particularly digiligent about writing about my recent life (and a number of my more recent diaries were about Julian Assange rather than Iceland).

  •  I always enjoy learning about life in other (0+ / 0-)

    parts of the world. Especially when it comes to societal structures that enhance quality of life, rather than erode it in the relentless pursuit of profits.

    "Growing up is for those who don't have the guts not to. Grow wise, grow loving, grow compassionate, but why grow up?" - Fiddlegirl

    by progressivist on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 09:32:12 AM PDT

  •  Live webcams in Iceland (0+ / 0-)


    I had the good fortune to visit my inlaws in Iceland last summer. We got as far as the Vestmannaeyjar islands and walked on the volcano. Iceland is incredibly beautiful, but I don't think I could make it through a 22 hour night in winter.

    Bookmark the webcam site and check it out later when the weathers better - the mountains are currently socked in.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site