Toast, fries, and kisses: Everything is better French
America is indebted to France for more than good food.
For any Americans out there with a lingering distaste for all things French, a holdover from the Bush era perhaps, it may come as a surprise to discover France is rated a considerably better place to live than the United States.Skip to next paragraph
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True, the French government and the US have had a history of political disagreements, but now it's time for the Americans to move on. The French already have.
There is much to admire about the French, not just food or the Côte d'Azur. In its annual quality-of-life listing, the United Nations' Annual Report ranks France as the seventh most desirable country to live in – six spots higher than the US.
Perhaps Americans could learn a thing or two from the French. France's national health insurance program is generally regarded as providing world-class service to all its citizens. Clean, modern public transportation, even in smaller French cities would be the envy of any American metropolis.
A friend who lives in a small village in the Loire River Valley did complain it took him an entire week to get a telephone properly installed in his early 18th-century house. I opted not to tell him I live 16 miles from the White House, and it has taken more than three weeks to get my cable supplier to fix a glitch and get all the telephones in my house working properly.
Much that is French, it seems, including some clever engineering, appears to function better than what's in the States.
Regrettably in recent years it's been difficult for Americans to say much that's nice about the French. Perhaps it's just too embarrassing to admit the French were right about Iraq's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.
Recently, over dinner in a Paris restaurant, someone introduced my wife and me as "the Americans at the table." The restaurant owner shrugged and said, "Well, not everyone's perfect."
It was a cutting attempt at a joke, until I recalled all the snide things Americans have thoughtlessly said about the French for decades. Most recently there was the US congressman who moved to rename French fried potatoes "freedom fries," signaling that American pettiness knows few limits.
Some argue that the cultural animosity began when France's chauvinistic President Charles de Gaulle pulled out of NATO in the 1960s believing it to be in France's national interest. Washington chafed when de Gaulle built his own independent nuclear force outside of NATO. Ironically, that worked to the West's numerical advantage when Washington and Moscow negotiated strategic nuclear arms reductions.