There’s a lot to admire about Australia, especially if you’re a visiting American, says David Mason.
More often than you might expect, Australian friends patiently listening to me enthuse about their country have said, ‘‘We need outsiders like you to remind us what we have.’‘
So here it is, just in time for Australia Day - a small presumptuous list of what one foreigner admires in Oz.
1. Health care. I know the controversies, but basic national health care is a gift. In America, medical expenses are a leading cause of bankruptcy. The drug companies dominate politics and advertising. Obama is being crucified for taking halting baby steps towards sanity. You can’t turn on the telly without hours of drug advertisements - something I have never yet seen here. And your emphasis on prevention - making cigarettes less accessible, for one - is a model.
2. Food. Yes, we have great food in America too, especially in the big cities. But your bread is less sweet, your lamb is cheaper, and your supermarket vegetables and fruits are fresher than ours. Too often in my country an apple is a ball of pulp as big as your face. The dainty Pink Lady apples of Oz are the juiciest I’ve had. And don’t get me started on coffee. In American small towns it tastes like water flavoured with burnt dirt, but the smallest shop in the smallest town in Oz can make a first-rate latte. I love your ubiquitous bakeries, your hot-cross buns. Shall I go on?
3. Language. How do you do it? The rhyming ...