The US-still the land of dreams or not?

Discussion in 'Make a Connection' started by Lelee, Oct 18, 2006.

  1. Lelee

    Lelee Member

    I´m a Czech student currently working on her essay. I´ve chosen a topic based on the texts coming from Colonial Literature (something from a French guy...Hector St.Crevecoeur)and I founded interesting to think about the themes contained in this work. Actually,the way the things are perhaps different now. The US has been for a long time considered as a land of freedom or moreover the so-called land of dreams". But having met quite a lot of Americans happily living in the Czech Republic and saying how free(!) they felt there does not correspond to this ideal. It is somehow very strange that they feel so free in a former communistic country :D So a question for Americans or Czechs living in the US.Do you think that the US is still the land or dreams or not any longer?And what are the reasons?

    I would be very grateful for some comments, it may help in my work:)

    So thanks beforehandguys

  2. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    First, I'll just say that this population you refer to is NOT an accurate statistical sample of the average American, but is rather biased (which is why, I assume, you asked this question here). Personally, I enjoyed living in the Czech Republic; however, there are certain things that I am used to culturally, economically, politically, etc., that make it preferable for me to stay in the U.S. As the Czechs say, "Vsůde je dobře, ale doma nejlíp."

    Second, what do you define as the "land of dreams?" Is it fulfulling one's career/financial goals, political/religious freedom, etc.? Along these lines, I would even ask, does the phrase "land of dreams" imply that all one's dreams can or will be fulfilled? I have never heard the U.S. called this before, although I have heard the phrase "land of opportunity." I think this is a better choice of words, as there are no guarantees of dreams being fulfilled in the U.S., as little is given here for nothing (even the political freedom part is dependent on citizenship, as non-naturalized immigrants, visitors, etc. do not have the same political rights as citizens.). Many an immigrant has been discouraged upon coming to the U.S. because of inflated expectations. Opportunities certainly are there for those willing to work for them, and these opportunities may afford them more than what they would have outside the U.S.

    Which brings me to my third point: to whom is the U.S. the "land of dreams?" For many of the poor in Mexico, for example, it is infinitely better than what they currently have there. For someone in Britain, France or another industrialized European nation, this may not hold true.

    Overall, it's a complicated question you've chosen (and hence, great material for a school essay :wink: ). In general, I would conclude that the U.S. is still a land of opportunity to many in the world, but that perhaps that population that would consider it so is shrinking, as the rest of the world slowly catches up with the U.S.
  3. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    I've heard my husband say lot of Europeans or Americans living in Europe think they are freer because they can walk down the street with no shirt on or smoke pot in a bar. But they aren't as free as Americans. In Europe, most citizens can't get a hunting and fishing license. It's possible but there is a lot of red tape. To get a driver's license you have to go through about 6 months course, take very difficult tests, and pay about 1 month’s wages. In the states, you merely take a road test and written test if you are over 18. In the states, you can go and buy a hunting rifle and shot gun. In some European countries, you can't even own one and the countries where you can own one, you have to go through a lot of red tape again. In some European countries a cop can stop you for no reason, just to check you out. A judge decides if you are guilty or innocent, not a jury. Taxes are higher there and businesses have much more regulations. In some European countries you can't choose your own doctor. You have to go to the doctor that is approved for the district in which you live. Some people wait for months before they can see a specialist and then wait again before they can get approval for a surgery. There are vehicle inspections over there and you have to get a technical permit. If your tires aren't up to code, you might loose your technical permit and you can't drive. Legally, you must carry an ID at all times and you get ticketed for it if you don't have one on you. In the states, you only have to have your driver's licensed on you if you are driving. In some European countries, you aren't even allowed to criticize the president of the country. I know CR was considering that law but I don't know if it passed.

    Now come on, does that sound free to you?

    I have heard America called the Land of the Dreams. It's the Land of the Dreams because it is the Land of Opportunity. Here, you're dreams can come true. Many many children have made up their mind to "move up" from the financial conditions in which they were reared. When they made up their minds, they did it. Look at all the college scholarships available. Not to mention financial aid. I'm a social worker and I work with children growing up in abuse and poverty. The school system in this city is horrid. However, the kids who want out CAN get out. Even though they may not be able to score high enough on SAT's to get into a good college (because the school they grew up in failed them) they can go to a community college on financial grants (money they are NOTrequired to pay back) increase their skills and move on to a university. One can move out of poverty in this country. It's very possible it just takes determination. It truly is the Land of your Dreams because it is The Land of Opportunity.
  4. Lelee

    Lelee Member

    Hi,thanks a lot. That´s just what I was thinking about. Freedom is important but people cannot be unlimitedly free in real life because there are obstacles everywhere. Actually,if there were not any,would it be so cool to be "free"?

    I know the "Land of Dreams" sounds a bit vague but that´s just what I had heard in films.

    So thanks a lot again


    P.S. I don´t think that every American who visit the Czech Republic intends to stay here till the end of his life. But those who come (that I´ve met) seem to be contented and plan to settle down here. I even know one who complains all the time (mostly about the Czech mentality,don´t know why, is it that bad?) but he has been living here for a long time. He even has a Czech wife here and 3 kids:D
  5. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    Maybe it's not that bad and he just complains because he is homesick and he feels stuck there because he has a wife and 3 kids. :lol:

    In the winter, I usually complain about Michigan (very cold and lots of snow) but I can't move because I wouldn't want to uproot my kids from their life. They graduate in 5 years and I'm planning to move to year-round warm weather. Until then, I'll keep complaining! :wink:
  6. MK

    MK Well-Known Member


    I think it is not so bad here.

    Hunting, fishing, driver licence and shot guns.
    Anybody over 18 can get his/hers licence for hunting, fishing driving etc. You must usually only pass exam and prove your health (mental one for guns). We just think that it is much safer when somebody who own weapons (either car or gun) is able to handle it therefore you must to prove it first.

    In some European countries a cop can stop you for no reason, just to check you out.
    In CZ can not. Unfortunately he is usually able to find some reason why to check you out.

    A judge decides if you are guilty or innocent, not a jury.
    Judge decides only whether the evidence is proven. When is no proven evidence then (regardles his opinion) accused is not guilty. Judge has code to follow, his/her opinion has only small impact on decision. We believe that such way is more of justice then Anglo-American system in which you depend on personal opinion of group of selected people.

    Taxes are higher there and businesses have much more regulations. In some European countries you can't choose your own doctor. You have to go to the doctor that is approved for the district in which you live. Some people wait for months before they can see a specialist and then wait again before they can get approval for a surgery.
    In fact most of taxes are insurances. When insured you must follow rules of your insurance company. If you do not wish to follow it you must "show you cash". It is the same here and in America. There is only one difference: In Europe you are insured by law (with all of its pros and cons :wink: ). That thing about district doctors and specialists also does not apply here - you have right to choose your doctor.

    There are vehicle inspections over there and you have to get a technical permit. If your tires aren't up to code, you might loose your technical permit and you can't drive.
    We just do not wish to have our roads full of malfunctioned cars.

    Legally, you must carry an ID at all times and you get ticketed for it if you don't have one on you. In the states, you only have to have your driver's licensed on you if you are driving.
    If you do not have your ID then you will be unable to prove that you are citizen of this country. :wink:

    In some European countries, you aren't even allowed to criticize the president of the country. I know CR was considering that law but I don't know if it passed.
    In CZ you can criticize anybody you wish. Such thing can not be banned here because we like to criticize a lot. :) We have law that punish offence against president. In CZ prezident does not rule the country, he is "embodiment" of the country so offence against him is something like offense against the country. Real "ruler" of the country is prime minister and there is no simillar rule punishing offences against him.

    There are some differences between EU countries but I think that at least most of what I wrote above apply to each member country. The democracy, humans rights and solidarity between people (among the free movement of goods and people :wink: ) are the basic principles on which the EU is built. We also have our imperfections (I can enumerate lot of them) but we are countries of free. We just hadle some things differently.

    imho: lot of them better :twisted:
  7. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    My experience is that the cop withdraw this demand when asked for a legal reason. They are just betting on little knowledge of law.
    In addition, single judge decides only minor delicts. Serious suspicions are tried by Senat (1 judge + 2 lay assessors).
    :eek: :eek: :eek: No more, that was one of the first acts abolished after revolution.
    Nonsense, president has no special status in this sense.

    And he partially rules the country. He's head of the executive. He negotiates international treaties, he's chief of the Army etc.
    Yes, a lot of power is in hands of the government, but government is dependent on president (of course also on the Lower House).
  8. MK

    MK Well-Known Member

    Only modified. Anyway you are right, since 1998 is insulting of president of the republic not especialy regulated in law. Sorry I misinformed you.

    President is head of the state. Without any responsibility, unpunishable and in his castle also independent on government. When not president then who represents (embody) the country?

    His rights are quite limited, for most of them he needs approval of someone else. Most of his decisions can be very simply "overruled" by someone else.

    In which sense? He has no executive rights.

    Maybe some misunderstanding between us. President is head of the state. Head of the executive is prime minister.

    Yes, when prime minister allows it. Chief of the army -yes but he is not in command of the army.

    I think you have in mind our present situation. It is true when government is not approved by chamber of deputies but after approval exists only formal dependency. After all it is main presidential duty to quickly find prime minister who will be able to obtain aproval from deputies.
    It is horrible that our current president does not keep this in his mind :?
  9. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    President is not responsible for actions resulting from the execution of his office. But he's responsible for other actions.
    President has immunity for criminal delicts, but criminal law is only a part of our legal system. In addition, he's punishable in special way.
    Sorry, I additionaly split your quote, and the context became a little corrupted. I wrote about status of person whose critique is punishable.
    This is rigth for all elected representatives. That's the essence of democracy. Yes, he often needs approval of somebody else, but nobody can substitute his acts.
    He has.
    The government is supreme body of executive power, but PM is not head of executive. PM is subordinate to the government's decision because the government makes its decisions as a body. PM is only "primus inter pares".
    In addition, there's a lot of executive institutions (fully or partially) independent on the government.

    On the other hand, president is ingredient of executive (the first mentioned in the constitution), his decision are not substitutable and all the executive power is delegated from him - i.e. he's head of executive.
    Again, he needs PM's counter-signature, but nobody else can negotiate without president's permission. Maybe, you are confused because PM has such permission (Act No. 144/1993 Coll.), but this permission is revocable by the president.
    He is the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces (Act No. 1/1993 under the Art. 63 c) ).
    No, I wrote generally about Czech constitutional system. BTW, in the present situation, there's no government and no PM.
  10. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    In USA cop can't do this?

    So, all that scenes from movies and cop shows, where cops stop suspect car or stranger are fiction?
  11. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    Eso, there's difference between stopping a car and stopping a person.
  12. Ceit

    Ceit Well-Known Member

    Speaking as an expat and former study abroad student, in my opinion Americans feel freer in foreign countries because they don't really care what people there think of them. Usually, an American abroad isn't thinking about settling down in the country forever, it's a temporary situation: a year or semester at the university; time spent teaching English and whatever else falls in your lap; temporarily working in a foreign branch of an American company. If you haven't grown up with the people around you and don't expect to grow old around them either, their opinions just don't matter as much. This isn't just a phenomenon in Americans either, I've met lots of exchange students, resident aliens etc. who say they feel a little more freedom and behave a little more freely than they do at home - because they aren't at home.

    What European countries are those?

    I've known some Scandinavians to speak wistfully of living in the US, mostly because our taxes are so much lower. Apparently their dream is to keep more than 40% of their paychecks.

    I understand it does happen in the US, at least to non-whites, and especially to Hispanics. Not often though, I've never seen it with my own eyes, I've only heard people from California complain about it.
  13. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    First of all, please never form your believes about the US from movies and Hollywood. They have no idea what real America is like. Those in Hollywood live in their own culture, their own little world and are far from reality or being in touch with Americans.

    Now about cops stopping you for no reason. It's exactly like MK said in the CR. In USA a cop has to have a legal reason to stop you which is why they usually always say "Do you know why I pulled you over" however, if they really want to check you out, they will find a reason. A good one is usually, "you went over the line" which is very hard to deny.

    Aren't there check points in CR. Where the officials just decide they want to cut down on drunk driving or something like that so they will set up check points and just stop every car that comes through? That's pulling you over without a reason? In US, if officials decide they want to cut down on drunk driving, they offer officers overtime and put more officers on the road that weekend. The officers still have to have a reason to pull you over.

    However, like WER said, there is a difference between stopping a car and a person. Here cops don't stop people walking unless they fit a description of a suspect. I don't know what it is like in CR.

    To answer Ceit's question:

    Like I said in the beginning of my post that these are things I've heard my husband say. I don't pay that much attention to international law but my husband is very interested in it. He states that still to this day there are limits to what CR citizens can say about the president. It's not like it was in communism but one can still be prosecuted for saying some things. It's not as free as here in the states where we have playing cards turning our president into a drag queen, toilet paper with the president's face on it, and more. In the US, there are NO limits to what one can say about the government. American Dreamz is a movie that is a good example of making fun of our president and sympathizing with terrorist. Now that's Hollywood for you. They will make a movie that sides with our enemy. Trust me, that is not the opinion of mainstream America. Even most of the Americans who are against the war, don't side with the terrorist.
  14. MK

    MK Well-Known Member

    To wer:No doubt about importancy of the president. He is head of the state after all (see my post about embodiment of the country). I disagree with "President has real executive power". PM (together with his majority in parliament) is real "ruler" of the country.

    Unresponsible, unpunishable

    It is written in Constitution of the Czech Republic:

    Art. 54
    (3) President of the Republic shall not be accountable for the acts resulting from the execution of his office.
    Art. 65
    (1) President of the Republic may not be detained, subjected to criminal prosecution or prosecuted for offence or other administrative delict.
    (2) President of the Republic may be prosecuted for high treason at the Constitutional Court based on the Senate's suit. The punishment may be the loss of his presidential office and of his eligibility to regain it.
    (3) Criminal prosecution for criminal offences committed by the President of the Republic while executing his office shall be ruled out forever.
    International treaties
    It is up to parliament to determine fundamentals of internatinal treaties etc.. and up to government to execute it. After all government is responsible for all internatinal treaties.

    Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces
    Formaly yes, real commander is minister of defence (see Act.219/199 Art. 7 (2) )

    There's no government and no PM.
    :D :D :D We can call it so :cry:
    By law: Topolanek is currently PM.
  15. MK

    MK Well-Known Member

    To Dzurisovak

    toilet paper with the president's face on it
    I definitely would not like to see our president on toilet paper. :( :( :(
    I think it has nothing in common with human rights or liberty.

    Position of American president is something like our PM and president mixed together. In US if you do not like how country is ruled then you would blame your president. In CZ you will blame prime minister. I did not see toilet paper with picture of PM in CZ but there is also lot of simillar "nasty things" here and nobody was prosecuted for it.

    In the US, there are NO limits to what one can say about the government.
    There are always limits. The person who you insulted can sue you. The same apply to CZ.
  16. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    I agree. I like our president, but I didn't care for the last one. I still respected him as a person and only criticized his policies. Even though I completely disagreed with some of his personal views (i.e. Monica Lewinsky), I gave him the respect due to a president of our nation.

    I'm not completely sure, but I really don't believe this is true for those in government or those who put themselves in the public eye. I think it is true for a private citizen, but I don't believe our president can sue for slander, nor can a judge or someone else that puts themselves in the position to be criticized. I think if it were possible, Bill O'Reiley (a political commentator) would have much more money than he currently has. He is falsely accused and wrongfully criticized daily. I will check on that though.
  17. MK

    MK Well-Known Member

    In CZ it is this very popular among politicians. They usually sue each other or media.

    :D Most popular phrase among Czech politicians surely is:"It is lie what he said about me. I already sued him for it".

    Result of such lawsuit is usually: dismission or apology. When judgment contains also some money payment (very rarely) then it will be always small amount - another difference between US and CZ
  18. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    Of course, leader of the majority in parliament is the factic ruler of the country, but that's because he controls the legislative.
    But this is in accordance with my version, is'nt?
    Parliament participates (usualy but not always) in ratification of international treaties, but has no influence on negotiations. No wonder, just imagine 281 cantankerous MPs negotiating with a foreign group of cantankerous MPs :twisted:.
    Of course, that's because the government is responsible for all president's decisions countersigned by PM.
    Sorry, but this section says only, that minister's orders related to his charge are mandatory for all soldiers.
    Minister's charge is to care of technical support and administrative, not to command the army.
    He was dismissed, therefore he is not PM by law. He is ex-PM provisionally carrying out the office.
  19. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Exactly this is reason, what Czech cops pretend, when they stop you. (They never stoped me, but I have friend, who was cop. Now he is programmer in USA :) )
  20. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    With exception of members of military, I believe.

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