Hmmm....where shall I start?
Ok, my opinion on this topic is that there is hardly such a thing as the best country in the world. Rather, in my travels I've found that different areas of the world seem to "specialize" in a few areas of what constitutes the perfect living conditions. For our part (the U.S.), we seem to have mastered the concept of personal freedoms and rights. No matter what you all might say about us, I remained convinced that the U.S. offers more rights and freedoms per capita than any other country. Hence the multitude of litigious Americans clogging up the justice system. Virgin744, you fail to realize that we sue because it's our right under the law. This right has made the U.S. what it is today, a country where, even Europeans have to admit, the service is top-notch. This has also forced companies to treat customers with respect and dignity. I've seen the way companies treat people here in Austria, and I have to say, it's most disgusting but they get away with it because there's not a damn thing any consumer can do about it. While still in NY, I came very close to suing my landlord a few years ago, because her defective heater cost me over $2000 in utility bills which she refused to pay. Well, the court papers I served her snapped her back to her senses. Similarly, I had to take a roommate to court for skipping out on the rent deposit while in college. He had stopped returning my calls, but after filing a lawsuit in court, his parents sent me a check in no time. Another case in point, I ordered tickets to a musical here in Vienna several months ago. Well, I paid for and picked up the tickets, and the next day (a Saturday), my friend and I drove the 1.5 hours to see the show. When we got there, we were told we had the wrong tickets. The tickets we had were for the Friday show. So we had to buy new tickets since we had already driven 1.5 hours and really wanted to see the show. The following Monday I went to the ticket agent and explained that they must have sold me tickets with the wrong dates, and that I wanted my money back, but was rudely rebuffed. They claimed it was my fault as I should have checked the tickets, even though when I ordered then I explained to the lady that I work during the week and my only chance to see the show was on a Saturday. Never mind that I even specifically asked for Saturday tickets. They screwed up and so I lost my money. I decided not to argue any more with the agency, so I promptly went to the court building and filed a lawsuit. There I met a very nice judge who listened to my case and advised me not to go through with the lawsuit. Why? According to her, I would surely lose the case as no court in Austria would ever rule in my favor, PLUS, if I lost, I would be responsible for the legal fees of this ticket agency's high priced lawyers. She further advised me that consumers rarely win cases. I was furious! I felt as if I could receive no justice! Now, in the U.S., they would have most likely refunded my tickets from the beginning with a simple apology, or even if threatened with a lawsuit, they would have quickly opted to settle out of court.
Get the point Virgin744? We sue because we have rights to freedom, property and the pursuit of happiness, which no one, not even the government, is allowed to violate. Sure, there are showcase violations of the law every now and then, but we ALWAYS have some legal recourse. (Seen all those ridiculous laws Congress has just passed? Don't worry, they'll soon be overturned by the courts.)
Now, to the part about travelling. Before we judge the American any further, consider the fact that the United States is comprised of fifty different countries, each with their own customs, culture, music, food, etc. Americans don't have to leave the union to experience another way of life, or experience another culture. Plus, we have Canada to the north and Mexico and the Caribbean to the south, none of which recqure passports for a visit. Furthermore, unlike most other countries, we use a drivers license as identification, not a passport, since most of us will never recquire one. Also, don't forget that once you enter the borders of the U.S., there is NO CONTROL over where you go or what you do, unlike most countries I've been to which recquire foreigners to carry a passport at all times and to fill out a registration form with the police. As a result of this, most Americans have never seen a passport, have no need for one, and will never see one within their life times. When I left NY to live in San Francisco a few years ago, it was like being in a completely different country. I had to get a new drivers license, I had to get used to the different culture there, the different climate, etc. Also, do not forget that unlike every other country in the world, the U.S. is COMPLETELY self-reliant. We are able to produce everything that we need. This has created a culture where Americans have no need to learn about the outside world, whereas you all depend on the U.S. in some form or another (whether militarily, financially, technically, etc.), so it is within your interests to learn more about us. This is why you all see our news/media, while we never get to see yours. This should never be taken personally, or construed to mean that Americans care any less about the outside world. From your experiences, you all know that Americans are very friendly and welcoming to outsiders, unlike in many, many other countries. I can dare say that in our system, there is absolutely no difference between a foreigner and citizen, except that the citizen can vote while a foreigner can't. This just goes to prove that contrary to what many may believe, we respect and take an interest in foreigners and where they come from, just not in a way that many people readily understand.
Sure, I will agree that many times Americans go overboard and believe they are the center of the universe, but this is a behavior endemic to citizens of all superpower states. I'll bet you anything that Brits during the colonial era, 17th. century French, the Romans during their heyday, etc., were all accused of the same.
However, what we lack in modesty, we more than make up for in humanity. Whenever disaster strikes, we are the first on the scene, while asking for and receiving very little in return. Americans give more to charity than any other nation, we share our research and technology with the rest of the world, we have come to the defence of countless countries countless times, we've given refuge and opportunity to innumerable immigrants even while Western Europe insisted on its closed-door policies, American taxpayers have spent untold trillions rebuilding and securing war-torn states (our Bosnian "foray" has cost us over a billion a day, not including aid they will receive to rebuild), and the list goes on and on.
The bottom line, I'm damn proud to be an American, and while I am frustrated by our shortcomings, I'm very proud of our achievements and humanitarian nature.