Mr. Obama made yet another trip to Europe this week along with his stopover in the Middle East. Since Mr. Obama and his friends would like us to be more like Europeans, my wife and I recently went on a great explore to find out what life is really like in Europe and what changes we should expect.
Get out your bike because you will soon be riding it everywhere. That means you too, Grandma – no exceptions. The best way to cut down on that nasty CO2 is to chuck your cars and get on a two-wheeler. Of course, after a couple years with the government running two of our three major car companies, a bicycle may become an attractive alternative.
The Europeans have not quite caught on to bike helmets yet, but I am sure we can enlighten them. The problem with helmets occurs when you have all these young folks who ride while talking on their cell phones. You thought you were concerned about people driving while on a cell phone, then wait until you have 20 bikes bearing down on you with everyone talking to someone else. To get ahead of the curve here, I have developed and patented a bike helmet with built-in Bluetooth. It also has a sophisticated system where you can text message by blinking your eyes based on Morse code. There is nothing like recycling old things that still work.
Get ready to move to the city to make this happen. You cannot live in the suburbs or small towns anymore. We need to be more like Europe and all pile into big cities. To make this work, we need 35-40% of our population to be in a major city. France has Paris, Belgium has Brussels and Denmark has Copenhagen. Because the United States is so much larger we have to have more than one city – so I am figuring on six regional centers. They should be Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, New York, and Atlanta and let’s say Omaha. We need to all relocate so that enough of our population is in these cities and then all the national resources can be focused on those locations.
What comes next is every building being the exact same height. Building codes can be wonderful. You tell developers they can build five stories high and magically you have street after street of five-story buildings. Visit East Berlin sometime and see what the New World of Europe is like. Look forward to monotonous buildings with very similar character. But Amsterdam and Copenhagen and The Hague are all like that also (with a few rare exceptions).
So New York, you are going to have to demolish the Chrysler building. We can give you a ten-story limit and that is that; no more differentiation.
Forget wholesale and learn to speak that ugly word “retail.” They do not have a discounter to be found. Also, forget being able to go to a store when you have time to go. Just like it was in the United States back in the pre-historic ‘60s, retailers are not open at night or on Sunday. Somehow you have to figure out how to shop and work at the same time. Of course, half of our workforce does that on the Internet now so we have become somewhat accustomed to it.
Wait until you see those retail prices. Clerks at 7-11 stores in Copenhagen make $25 an hour. So can you image what a bottle of water costs? Don’t get the idea that an hourly wage of $25 is such a big deal. After you pay 50% income taxes, the Value-Added Tax (VAT) and property taxes on your flat, you may not have enough left to buy that shiny new Schwinn.
On the other hand, everything is free –FREE. No medical costs, if you can get treatment, no expense for college -- what a life. Getting into college, however, is quite a different story. First one takes a test to see if going onto high school is permitted, of which 50% do and the other 50% become clerks at 7-11. After high school, another test is taken and 15% of those get to go to college. What a lovely system this is. The good thing is you know what you will be doing with the rest of your life by the age of 17.
If we may, let’s return to that bottle of water. Yes, there is no such thing as free water. If you go to a restaurant you can pay for water or buy a coke that is delivered in an easy-to-consume, three-sip bottle -- for a buck a sip. By the time you finish your meal, you are so thirsty or so broke you are in a semi-delusional state. The concept of a refill on a liquid is non-existent in Europe. They have never heard of ice tea. And to get ice is like a gift from God. What you get with that gift it is three lovely cubes -- all at once.
But don’t worry about being parched as this turns out to be beneficial. That is because they charge you to urinate. Not just at the train stations or in public places, but even at McDonald’s. You can stop anywhere in America, along any highway, get a Coke for a buck and relieve yourself. Not with our sophisticated Europeans friends – that will not do. Even when you pay to get into places like the Museum at Waterloo (no pun intended) where they charge you $15 for admittance, they still want a tariff to go to the potty. No wonder they have to provide universal health care; they all have urinary tract infections from not having the correct change.
You should not, however, be discouraged from travelling to Europe. There are some wonderful things to see. There are some very old buildings – you know the ones that they did not destroy in their various wars. There is some great artwork that they have stolen from each other and landed in state museums in former palaces of beheaded monarchs where they charge you an arm and a leg to see it. They do have one certainly redeemable idea. They plant beautiful flowers in their public parks, which we sadly do not do enough.
Mr. Obama, we are sure you may have missed some of these experiences as you were whisked along in your limo. I am sure Ms. Merkel did not charge you for your bottle of water. And she may have invited you to her spiffy new government building that actually does not look like every other one where they do not charge for potty trips.
Just in case you did miss the actual experiences of daily life in Europe, we thought you would like to know. America would be so much better with all these grand ideas. I think we should have red light districts in every city. Wouldn’t that be nifty? Think about it Mr. President.