Service economies abroad

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By Brian Karimi

As the World Views editor, I though I’d share some thoughts from my mini term abroad in New Zealand this winter.

New Zealanders are hospitable, but the services they provide are not on par with the services provided in America. If your food wasn’t to your liking in New Zealand, that’s it; there’s no attempt to make it right. The customer seems to be right far fewer times than the vendor, and any American would notice his quite quickly. While included tips in New Zealand makes things a bit easier, it leaves no room for the consumer to punish poor service or reward admirable service, and the price is the general quality of service itself.

In New Zealand you are constantly reminded about how the country set the standard worldwide, but the examples are riddled with vague reference and shadowy scenes. Those endowed with the responsibility of procuring and diseminating information are generally meek people seemingly afraid of questions; if their answer is not noticably pithy, it suffers from a seeming lack of confidence. Perhaps we Americans are boorish intellectuals, tactlessly spouting knowledge at the sacrifice of substance. But I do not think so.

America, I believe, is still the home of progess; our culture, science, and education, irrespective of its perhaps arguable quality, is revered the world over. Our institutions, despite their perhaps adverse effects or questionable integrity, for some reason thrive across cultures. No country can boast the same amount of cultural presence around the world, and I suspect there are good reasons. By allowing ‘everything’ to make it into the marketplace (from trashy reality tv to cheap toys) America, one might reason, has some of the worst products in the world—products other societies might reasonably want to bar from entry.

But a concuring effect of the American way is the provision of he world’s best products: the commercial car, the commercial persoanal computer, the Internet, and the iPod. These advances have not only revolutionalized our daily lives—they have defined and advanced our species as a whole. If we have some of the worlds most undercared for empoverished populations, we have titians of industry with enough resources to cure the most ravenous of human diseases and invent the most revolutionary of technologies. In terms of AIDS research, America outspends most of the world by billions.  It is America’s Internet that allows revolutionaries the world over to  quietly and bloodlessly subvert their oppressive goverments in the pursuit of a better life for future generations. It is America that spends the most money on AIDS treatments, outspending most of the world by billions. It is America’s Internet that allows revolutionaries the world over to quietly and bloodlessly subvert their oppressive goverments in the pursuit of a better life for future generations.

The villianized former president Bush, feuled by an ernest Christian faith, devoted a generous part of his career to using America’s mighty resources to advancing he lives of Africans, a race of people he has been accused of not caring enough about. We Americans are a far cry from perfect, but the things we do well, we do the best.

A country endlessly deraided for its gargantuan defense budget is forgotten when it comes to involvement where it shouldn’t have been our concern: saving Europe from Hitler’s nightmare vision, protecting Bosnians from the hellish flames of ethnic extermination, guarding western Europe from the economic collapse catalzed in eastern eurupe by a mismanaged, corrupt, and overextended Soviet empire— the list goes on. America didn’t need to act; these were services, not obligations. When the country extendes its influence and things go wrong, as plans enevitably do, the influence as a whole is demonized and those intances when America was needed most are, it seems, unfortuneately forgotten.

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