Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Why America Should Have Had the World’s Best Social Contract (Instead of Settling For the Worst)

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I worry about Americans. It seems to me that they just aren’t aware as they should be that they could and should have the world’s best working social contract (with vibrant, robust healthcare, education, income, savings, safety nets, media) instead of settling for the most dysfunctional broken one (after all, even nations like Costa Rica and Rwanda are developing basic public healthcare). Hence, it appears to me that Americans believe in a series of backward myths about themselves, the world, and society. Recited constantly, they keep them in the dark, which is why they settle for the worst.

Myth: Only small countries can have working social contracts 

One of the greatest ironies in the world to me is that the very opposite is true… big countries can have by far better ones. How? Think about insurance, the bigger a pool is, the lower the cost for each member. Now, what does that really mean?

Reality: People in bigger countries can enjoy (way) greater benefits from working social contracts than people in little ones 

A small nation like Denmark or Sweden or even a medium-sized one like France or Britain can’t realise the same economies of scale that a big one like America can… there are only 10 million people, each of whom pays more to insure one another. However, American has 300 million people. Yet, by a long way, American healthcare is the most expensive in the world and delivers the least benefits. Precisely the opposite could and should be true… as there are more Americans to insure one another, it could be the cheapest in the world, with the greatest benefits, by a very long way. However, it requires a true public healthcare institution, like an American Healthcare Service, to make that true. That same principle is true for every component of a social contract, whether education, media, or safety nets… more people share the high fixed costs, so they’re (way) cheaper for a bigger society like America than a small one like Sweden. Then, isn’t it funny that American thought doesn’t ever seem to consider that?

Myth: It’s impossible to build institutions for 300 million people, we wouldn’t know how to manage or run them

LOL. What do you think your local Apple store is? If Apple can do it for gadgets, why can’t we do it for healthcare? Wal-Mart, Google, Amazon, and the government already do it every day without breaking a sweat. We know how to do it in spades.

Reality: Building working public institutions, like an American BBC or NHS, is how to repair broken bonds, renew communities, and rebuild the economy one life and town a time 

Let’s say you’re a poor kid in West Virginia with no income, savings, mobility, opportunity, hope, life. You’ve seen your friends, in despair, with no futures, OD… you’re thinking about turning to drugs, too, but you harbour a great desire to help people like you, to be an abuse counsellor, only you have no idea or way to be one. Your only option is what capitalism can provide, insanely-expensive twelve step “rehab” programs that never address your severe trauma of living through collapse with real psychotherapy, not just “drug abuse counselling”, because that’s more costly than just putting you in a boot camp, so it goes untreated, and you cycle on and off drugs forever.

Now imagine that our AHS was there in your neighbourhood. It would need just such counsellors, right? Voila, supply and demand meet… you might get training for just the job they need… where they don’t right now because there’s a “market failure”, which is to say, a void. That broken town might come back to life. Now fast-forward five years into the future. That AHS needs managers, there you are… suddenly, and you have a career, and all it brought with it, opportunity, mobility, security, optimism, belonging, meaning purpose. How wonderful. Now multiply that by a thousand times, and ten million lives. How beautiful. That’s how a society and economy begins to heal, mature, and grow… when institutions, both public and private, allow lives to flourish.

Myth: Public institutions provide low-quality crap! It’s usually expensive! I don’t want to pay taxes for that… in fact, I don’t want to pay taxes at all! 

Look. You’re going to get taxed either way, by monopolistic corporations or a government, and if you really can’t abide that, if you don’t want, say, water and roads, be my guest and move to Somalia. The question is, which one is a better deal? Let’s consider the BBC. I pay about two hundred bucks a year. What do I get? I get three TV channels and six radio stations. I pay about two hundred bucks a month in the States for a billion channels. Now, here’s the irony that’s often impossible for American to understand… less, in this case, is infinitely more. I click around in the States and rarely find something to watch, I decline porn, cop and surgery shows, it’s all mostly catastrophe vaudeville about the victims of late capitalism. However, I can watch the BBC endlessly, and so do you, maybe you just don’t know it, because its shows are rebranded for Americans, Masterpiece Theatre and so on. For that BBC licence, I get Blue Planet, Civilisation, all those cop and detective shows, the Great Bake-Off, movies, soaps, and so on. Do you see the difference? I pay a tenth of what I do in the States, and I get infinitely higher quality. So much higher quality that most of the shows ripped off by American media come from the Beeb… The Voice, The Bake-Off, etc. The level of quality isn’t just high, it’s beyond what capitalism can give you, whole categories of shows like documentaries by famed academics and writers and artists and wildlife docs like Blue Oceans exist there that can’t in America, all those cute fun Bake-Off style shows you love watching on Netflix, films tackling tough social issues, and so on.

Reality: You’ll save (a lot of) money and have a better life by paying society way less for much higher-quality public goods, instead of trying to buy healthcare, media, education, and safety from capitalism, which it’ll never really provide well to begin with, and only give you at nosebleed high prices 

Now let’s think about it from the BBC’s side. It only needs a fixed amount to produce all that stuff, those three TV and six radio channels. Crucially, that amount doesn’t change depending on how many people are in a society, right? So again, a BBC would be way cheaper in America than it is in Britain, simply because there are more people to pay for it, a hundred bucks a year, not even two hundred. Are you telling me you wouldn’t pay a hundred bucks a year for a BBC, instead of a few thousand to Comcast, now that I’ve explained it to you? (If you want to do both, be my guest… I do.) Here’s the point, not only does a working social contract cost less, the benefits are way greater too, social institutions provide goods to a quality that capitalism is simply unable to even usually dream of.

Myth: We can’t afford a working social contract 

Have you followed me so far? If you have, we’ve learned that a working social contract is:

  • cheaper for a big country
  • a better deal for people than capitalism
  • offers quality that capitalism alone can’t ever really provide
  • the only thing that can repair a broken society, one town and one life at a time

A deficit doesn’t matter much when people are giving up on democracy because they don’t have decent lives of dignity, belonging, and purpose.

Reality: A working social contract isn’t what’s unaffordable, not having one is what’s unaffordable. That’s American decline’s fundamental lesson. 

I want to drive that home to you. Consider our poor West Virginia kid again. He gets addicted. His parents mortgage their home to pay for “rehab”… no AHS, remember? However, because there’s no AHS, too, “rehab” means a twelve-step program… all capitalism can provide … not real psychotherapy that addresses the profound trauma he’s lived through. Therefore, he cycles in and out of this subpar capitalist rehab. His parents are renting a little place now. He’s living on the streets. What was unaffordable for them… a working social contract or the lack of one? Multiply that by a million… what happens to a society? Now… people lose faith in the future, each other, and themselves. They give up and numb the pain away. Therefore, like any traumatised abused soul, they end up believing what’s backwards… what might save them is unaffordable, unattainable, and impossible, so going on this way, in this terrible suffering, is the only option that they have. Thus, democracy falls apart and people turn to authoritarianism… that’s the story of every falling empire, from Rome to the Reich.

How sad. How wrong. There are already millions of stories just like that. Imagine how different all these lives would and could be with a working social contract. America could and should have the world’s best one, as it’s one of the world’s biggest and richest societies. Nevertheless, Americans don’t quite understand that as their intellectuals, leaders, and thinkers have never explained it to them. Irony teaches us tragedy, and the tragedy of ignorance about the most fundamental lesson of all is the irony of American collapse… Americans settled for the worst social contract of all, but they could and should have had the best.

9 March 2018

Umair Haque

Eudamonia

https://eand.co/why-america-could-and-should-have-had-the-worlds-best-social-contract-instead-of-settling-for-the-17a153a39585

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Tuesday, 6 March 2018

How Social Darwinism Destroyed America From the Inside: Or, What Happens When the Average Person Believes in the Survival of the Fittest

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Whenever I look at the USA today versus its rich-world peers, an observation leaps out at me. America’s built a society on a kind of furious single-minded dedication to one idea… Social Darwinism (or the survival of the fittest). Let’s begin with the obvious. Its economy is modern history’s greatest machine for the survival of the fittest. The winners deserve extreme fame, fortune, and power… Elon Musks’ 55 billion USD (3.11 trillion Roubles. 348.83 billion Renminbi. 3.58 trillion INR. 71.42 billion CAD. 70.87 billion AUD. 44.58 billion Euros. 39.71 billion UK Pounds) bonus… but the losers don’t even deserve to live. Forget healthcare, savings, incomes, and so on. I step over them on my way to the café. Now, if you’re an average American, perhaps you don’t see the problem with all this. “So what?”

The problem is that Social Darwinism can’t build a healthy economy for the very people who believe in it, ever, period, full stop… even though I’d bet most Americans probably still think “survival of the fittest” is the best form of social organisation in history. Once you see how I also bet you’ll think it’s both funny and sad. What does “survival of the fittest” mean? It means an erosion or elimination of the average, doesn’t it? It means that only the top percentage (whether it’s 20 percent or 1 percent) of some population really makes it. However, the average person who believes in it so fiercely isn’t in there, he’s at the 45th, maybe 50th percentile, if he’s lucky. LOL. Funny and sad, no? Survival of the fittest comes back to haunt even the average person, the one who’s become, somehow, at least in America, its staunchest global advocate.

That’s precisely what’s beginning to happen in America now. The average person now has less than 1,000 USD (56,557 Roubles. 6,343 Renminbi. 65,036 INR. 1,300 CAD. 1,288 AUD. 810 Euros. 722 UK Pounds) in savings, a shrinking real income, a falling life expectancy, and no possibility of retirement, ever. They are going to live a shorter, harder, meaner, dumber, nastier life… than their peers elsewhere, or their grandparents. The survival of the fittest that Americans champion is working perfectly at destroying them. Social Darwinism is giving “survival” to the “fittest”, those at the very top (let’s say the top 10 percent), while punishing the very average, at the 50th percentile. The average person who thought, strangely, that being average wouldn’t somehow get him selected out. However, that’s what “survival of the fittest” does… select out the average. Hence, a middle class collapsing in three ways:

  • becoming a smaller part of society
  • a falling quantity of life
  • a falling quality of life

Survival of the fittest is annihilating the average person in America, even though that very average person seems to admire and long for it… that’s Social Darwinism’s ghastly revenge. In fact, seeing all but super-rich millennials struggle to have kids and make families, one might even say that Social Darwinism is working perfectly in taking away the reproductive chances of the weakest. However, I don’t think we need to be quite so reductive to say it’s a failed way to think about organising a society.

How is American Social Darwinism annihilating the chances of the average person? Well, American society is an arena for the survival of the fittest… it doesn’t protect the vulnerable. By design, there are no real safety nets, social systems, or public goods, while all America’s peers enjoy these things. For example, it ties healthcare to a “job”, and only then to a dwindling number, because if you aren’t productive, you don’t deserve to live. However, even if you’re productive, your income is stagnant. That’s Social Darwinism tuned perfectly… being productive or efficient is barely enough to hang on, it’s having just enough “fitness” to live at the edge of “survival”. Therefore, the survival of the fittest has kept America from building the basic systems and goods that the rest of the world’s rising quality of life depends on… healthcare, education, transportation, public media, welfare, and so on.

Why should the average person enjoy any kind of investment in him? Why should the poor? They aren’t fit. Therefore, they beg corporations and hedge funds to provide the basics of life, as they laugh at him. Meanwhile, the average person in America doesn’t really cry out for these things, because he still believes in the survival of the fittest, yet all the while, the problem is that he isn’t the fittest. Maybe, he’s at the 50th percentile of fitness… shouting that only those at the very top are fit enough to survive. How funny. How sad. How’s one to prosper, then? Well, who defines “the fittest”, anyway? The fittest do. Therefore, our socio-economic problem soon becomes a cultural problem. Let me put that more clearly. Is “fittest” the top 30 percent? The top 10 percent? Who decides? If it’s the top .01 percent, they’d keep “fittest” as small as possible, won’t they? That’s what happened in America… once, “survival of the fittest” might have meant the top 40 percent of society; now, it’s barely the top 10 percent. How does that kind of erosion even within Social Darwinism happen?

Everywhere in America, the élite tell the average that they must bow down to this terrible god of Social Darwinism. It’s the only god. It’s the best god, who’ll one day reward them with… what? Flying cars? Immortality? They dangle all manner of things before them. However, the reality is simpler… by definition, the average person can’t win these things, ever, for that’s what “survival of the fittest means”. Still, every single day, the American élite tell average Americans the same thing, in newspaper columns, cable news segments, books, films. Self-help, the prosperity gospel, stock tips, home flips, Reality TV shows about the rich and powerful, bootstraps, fame, money, glory… “Live your best life!” … “You don’t owe anyone anything!” What’s the common thread? What’s it all really saying? It just recapitulates Social Darwinism, isn’t it? Until people are more or less indoctrinated, American culture really says something like this:

Social Darwinism is the greatest ideology the world has ever known! Have faith! Your reward is coming, too… you too can be one of the fittest!

Therefore, the élite parade celebrities and tycoons before Americans, exhorting them:

Be more like this!

The first problem, obviously, is that 90 percent of people in society aren’t ever going to be the fittest. Nevertheless, here’s the problem inside that one. The élite are themselves winners of a contest of survival of the fittest. They tell people what worked for them, but that’s all. They have no incentive whatsoever to look past their own biases and say, “Social Darwinism isn’t working for anyone but us!” Why would they? Do you see the cultural issue? There is a contest in which the “fitness” one needs to “survive” rises and keeps rising. Once, it was maybe 30 percent of Americans; now, it’s maybe 10 percent. Now, you can hardly blame the poor average person for succumbing to this furious onslaught of propaganda, but he’s a fool… an average person believing in an ideology that says he himself shouldn’t survive. Therefore, he doesn’t. How funny all this is. How ironic. How tragic, too.

America is discovering the hard way what happens when the average person supports his own self-destruction, economically, socially, and culturally. Social Darwinism has resulted in America becoming something like the modern world’s grimmest dystopia… a place where kids massacre each other every few days and no one cares enough to lift a finger to help them. Why is that? You see, the endpoint of Social Darwinism brings us to the darkest place of all. Being a more savage predator than the next person is the only guarantee of “fitness”. However, a predatory society isn’t a very nice place to be, is it? That’s why the countries in which it was born, and then used… Britain, Germany, Italy… rejected it and consider Social Darwinism now a stain upon history. Will America ever outgrow Social Darwinism? I doubt it. The forces above are difficult to change. When the average person believes he himself is nothing but a ritual sacrifice to the gods, dark ages fall upon us.

17 February 2018

Umar Haque

Eudaimonia

https://eand.co/how-social-darwinism-destroyed-america-from-the-inside-7909acc6e099

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Why America is the World’s Most Uniquely Cruel Society… Or, How Punching Down Became a Way of Life

Filed under: politics,Uncategorized,USA — 01varvara @ 00.00
Tags: , ,

CIA Torture and the American Army at Abu Ghraib Prison, Iraq

Max Ginsburg

2009 

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This is a routine SOP for Americans in foreign parts. ROUTINE. Both the Trumpkins and the Clintonistas applaud this. I call this (and them) evil. I’m not alone in thinking that way…

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In this essay, I want to share a theory of what it means to be American. As ever, it’s up to you to judge whether it carries any weight. All that I’ll say is that when I look around it explains a little about what I see. Any theory of being American must explain one salient and striking fact… cruelty. America is the cruellest nation amongst its peers … even amongst most poor countries today. It’s something like a new Rome. It has little, if any, functioning healthcare, education, transport, or media… it has no safety nets, no stability, and no security. The middle class is collapsing, and life expectancy is falling. Young people die from a lack of insulin they can’t crowdfund. Elderly middle-class people live and die in their cars. Kids massacre each other in schools… when they’re not self-medicating the pain of it all away. The combination of these pathologies happens nowhere else… not a single place… in the world. Not even Pakistan, Costa Rica, or Rwanda. Hence, the world is aghast at the depths of American cruelty… yet, somehow, it seems bottomless.

Of course, I don’t mean that all Americans are cruel. I just mean it in the same way we say countries have attitude, dispositions, that there’s such a thing as a French or German national attitude or disposition, so, too there’s an American one. Nor do I mean America is “the cruellest society in the world”. Could we really ever judge that? However, it’s uniquely cruel … a kind of special example… in weird, needless, and singular ways. Let me throw that into relief. Scandinavians are the happiest, longest-lived, and most prosperous people in the world because they don’t punish one another constantly, but lift one another up. However, Americans don’t believe this reality. The underlying sentiment that unites America’s manifold problems is a myth of cruelty.

Where did the myth of cruelty come from? That’s the question before us if we really want to understand America. I’ve wondered about it since I was a kid, to be honest. Once, I thought it was about capitalism, patriarchy, and race. Now, I think that those are expressions of it. Something more primary, fundamental, and unique happened. America was a strange improbable combination of things, singular in history. A Promised Land… but one for the despised. Waves upon waves of them washed up on its shores. First, the Puritans… mocked and loathed in England. Then, peasants, farmers, and outlaws from across Europe. Then, Chinese, Japanese, and Latinos, and today, Muslims.

These emigrants tended to share a common trait. They were at the very bottom, the lowest rung, of social and economic hierarchies in their own countries. All of them. That changed a little recently… but America was founded by and for the despised, loathed, and hated. People referred to as trash, nobodies, serfs, exiles, outcasts… who were never given an ounce of respect, dignity, or even belonging in their societies of origin. Let me make that clearer. We didn’t see nobles and landed gentry migrating to America… British Lords, German Counts, and Italians Barons. We saw German peasants, Irish villagers, Swedish farmers, and the dwellers of Italian slums. People from the very lowest of hierarchies elsewhere, the oppressed and the subjugated, came to this Promised Land. First, the English and French settlers supposed that this New World was theirs (and began a kind of genocide against its natives, of course). However, they didn’t just come to hate the natives for threatening their natural right to this Promised Land. It was the next waves of settlers, too. The English settlers hated the French. The French hated the Germans. They all hated the Irish. The Irish hated the Italians. And so on. That much is historical fact. Do you see the pattern forming yet?

This is very abstract, so let me make it concrete. Here came one wave of settlers… the English. They dominated their way to the top of a hierarchy, above natives and blacks. Then came a new wave… Germans. They were punched down too… and began punching down… to establish themselves in this hierarchy, as high up as they could. Then, another wave… the Irish. Punched, punching down. All desperately vied for relative dominance amongst the rest. You see, the crucial fact is that this didn’t happen elsewhere in the world … waves of settlers, all desperately trying to establish themselves above the next, last, most recent, in a hierarchy, all the more so because they were despised, at the bottom, to begin with. In Europe, Asia, South America, hierarchies were long-established and broken only by revolution. America was the only nation where this constant reconstruction of hierarchy happened to such a degree, repeatedly. Hence, the establishment of cruelty as a way of life… how else but to establish one’s self above the next wave of migrants?

Each new tribe that came to this Promised Land brought the burden of being despised, subjugated, and oppressed with them. They were finally above someone else in a social hierarchy. They weren’t at the bottom anymore. However, to be above requires someone else to be below. Therefore, there was a constant battle for relative position within a growing hierarchy… hence, dominance, competition, and conquest soon became prized cultural values, norms, and institutional goals. Cruelty as a way of life was born. When we note that the despised of England hated the newly arrived despised of France hated the newly-arrived despised of Germany and so on, not to mention natives, blacks, and Asians, in an endless vicious circle, we also say that America was learning to be cruel, by forever constructing greater hierarchies to seize the fruits of a Promised Land. However, greater hierarchies require greater cruelty to climb up, too. Moreover, the irony is that all this is what the despised came to America to escape.

I’ll add a peripheral point. The despised, when coming to a Promised Land, are the least likely, perversely, although we might not immediately think so, to want to share it … because they, at last, have something that they feel is theirs. Today’s servant wants to be tomorrow’s master. Today’s peasant wants to be tomorrow’s landlord. Today’s victim aspires to be tomorrow’s oppressor. What was really happening here, in more modern terms? People were learning to “punch down”, as we might put it today. Americans were being taught to take out their anger, rage, and fear on those less powerful than them… usually, the most obvious and immediate ones they could find. An Irish mutt bastard moved into the neighbourhood? Get them. No Chinamen allowed. Those Italians? We’ve got to move them out of our city. Intern those Japanese. Punching down began to be institutionalised and normalised. Cruelty became a way of life and a norm. Tribe after tribe of the despised fled to the Promised Land, but each one demanded their position above the last, having never had anything before. People who were hated outcasts had status and belonging at last, but only by punching down the next wave. Therefore, no mechanisms ever really developed to allow them to share the Promised Land wisely, well, or reasonably. Might became right.

American leaders tried to intervene every now and then, such as FDR’s second bill of rights, JFK’s vision for a fairer society, and so on. However, they weren’t very successful because they were fighting a history of cruelty that they didn’t really understand, one that went to the heart of what it means to be American itself. So they never really said:

Wait. What do we all really have in common, us Americans? We’re the despised and mocked of history. Its outcasts and its exiles. This is what unites us! Let’s stop punching down, then. Otherwise, what have we really learned? We’re only repeating the very history of cruelty that we tried to escape from.

How sad. How funny. Americans came to a Promised Land but they couldn’t escape themselves. Each new wave tried to rise above the next and built a world even crueller than the old one. Punching down, down, down, endlessly. Therefore, today, here we are. Punching down became a national institution, a norm, and a way of life. School shootings? Can’t ban guns; let the kids have “active shooter drills”. We’re punching all the way down to our little five-year-olds. Life expectancy falling? Can’t have healthcare, let them self-medicate with opioids. We’re punching down to the poorest. Education cost a fortune? Too bad, take out debt. We’re punching down to our young people. I could give you endless examples. However, perhaps, you get the point by now.

What does it mean to be American? To really “be”… to see, feel, think, and act American, so much so that you aren’t self-aware of it, because it’s unconscious, reflexive, invisible, this way of “being”? Well, it means what it always has. Punching down, not lifting up. Punching down is hardwired into America by now, thanks to a unique history of settlers… who had never had any status… punching the next wave down for a relative hierarchical position. An attitude of cruelty was born. Therefore, today, cruelty is the point of its institutions, the purpose of its norms, and the linchpin of its perverse idea of virtue, that by punishing people, we can better them. It’s all that Americans expect from each other, and give to each other. That’s the terrible burden of this Promised Land… history’s despised warred among one another for domination of it.

The problem is this. A society of people punching one another down must collapse. What else could it do? It can’t rise, can it? If I’m punching you down, and I’m punching the next person down below me, how can anyone ever lift anyone up? However, without lifting one another up, a society can’t grow in quantity or quality of life. America has never reckoned with its history of cruelty. Instead, it developed a defensive mythology of being welcoming, even while every new wave of immigrants had to fight, sometimes quite literally, street by street against the last wave for a piece of the Promised Land. Like all myths, that one was a lie that revealed the truth… America was a Promised Land for the huddled masses to roam free, but only if they could fend off the other tribes by punching them down endlessly.

A Promised Land is like a Garden of Eden. However, who can live in the Garden peacefully but angels? Human beings… flawed, indelicate things… can only be cast out, they’re ever in conflict, in tension, hungry and ravenous. That’s never truer than for their most despised, who need healing the most, or else they’d ravage their Gardens worst. In this way, a Garden given to the despised is a war waiting to happen. A war against itself. America is at just such a war and has always been. The name of this war is cruelty. However, the end of this war is not victory, but collapse. I don’t say any of this to blame, shame, or judge. Only so that, perhaps, we can, at last, reckon with this history of violence.

20 February 2018

Umair Haque

Eudaimonia

https://eand.co/why-is-america-the-worlds-most-uniquely-cruel-society-f67afc5c6b9a

Saturday, 3 March 2018

3 March 2018. From the Russian Web… A Russian Take on Ten Iconic American Foods

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Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza

The idea of baking a half-cooked pizza originated in Britain. Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza uses the same technique, but it’s completely different. You fry cornbread in olive oil until half-done; then, you spread cheese, tomato sauce, meat, or other types of toppings over it. You can try this famous pizza in many restaurants in Chicago.

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New Mexico Green Chilli                                                                    

The best way to get to know New Mexico’s culture is to try its green chilli peppers. They cook them throughout the state. In the chilli, besides the main ingredient, you add fresh pepper, tomatoes, potatoes, garlic, and beef or pork to the dish.

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Maine Lobster Roll

It’s an art form to prepare a flawless lobster roll. You can toast, steam, or bake the bread rolls before filling them. You can replace mayonnaise with melted butter. Finally, you can choose to use meat from the claws or from the tail to prepare this treat. However, no matter what you choose, this sandwich will perfectly brighten up a summer evening on the Atlantic coast.

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Vermont Maple Syrup

Canada may claim the maple leaf as its symbol, but Vermont, not Canada, produces what many say is the best maple syrup. Vermont is the largest producer of maple syrup in the USA; in fact, about 5 percent of the world’s total maple syrup supply comes from there. If you go in March, you’d get to see how they harvest the maple sap from venerable maple trees. There’s no sense in describing its taste… just try it.

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Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey

Despite the fact that the law says that you can make bourbon anywhere in the USA, about 95 percent comes from the “bluegrass state” of Kentucky. In fact, Kentucky’s Bourbon County gave its name to this type of corn whiskey (popularly called the “Spirit of America”). They’ve distilled hooch here for more than two centuries. Today, people all over the world know what bourbon is and millions come to Kentucky to get it.

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Philly Cheese Steak

Pat Olivieri, the founder of Pat’s Steaks, originated the recipe for Philly Steak sandwiches in the 1930s. This sandwich is very nutritious. It consists of a crispy oblong Italian-style loaf with chopped steak sprinkled with grated cheese or Cheese Whiz, usually with added onions.

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New Orleans Beignets

A trip to New Orleans isn’t really complete unless you visit Café du Monde, where you can sample fresh doughnuts sprinkled with powdered sugar. No doubt, Louisiana is the world standard for doughnuts. The usual fare is classic doughnuts without fillings, but you can find doughnuts with chocolate and fruit fillings.

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New England Clam Chowder

If in Boston, you need to try this creamy shellfish soup, usually prepared with seafood, potatoes, celery, onions, and cream or milk. The classic Massachusetts recipe strictly prohibits tomatoes, but they do show up in Manhattan Clam Chowder. Annual festivals occur in Boston, where restaurants compete in making the best soup.

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Texas Barbeque

Texas cooks make barbecue from beef, usually the shoulder. They rub the meat with pepper, salt, herbs, and other seasonings and let it sit before cooking it. You use a low fire in a charcoal grill (usually covered), so the process is rather slow.

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New York Pastrami on Jewish Rye Sandwich

The origins of the pastrami (a form of smoked beef) sandwich are in Romania, the recipe came to the USA at the beginning of the 1900s. The best place to enjoy this sandwich is Katz’s Deli, which deserves its motto… “Here the sandwiches are the best”.

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Editor:

The original list had twenty items, but I cut it to ten to eliminate unusual or odd foods and only include iconic “American foods”. I kept the original notes as is; even when they were a little wrong… after all, it’s a RUSSIAN take on iconic American food. My least favourite on this list? Without a doubt, it’s the Deep-Dish Pizza. It isn’t really pizza… my vote is for a classic New York-style pie. Mind you, I don’t hate anything on this list… but there are some that I could take or leave (mostly, leave). My vote for the fave on the list? Why, Pastrami on Jewish Rye (with horseradish mustard, if you please… the rye bread has to have caraway seeds in it), of course… pastrami rules the popular food roost and don’t you forget it!

After looking the list over, I realised that the list mirrored my own preferences… the best-liked last and the least-liked first. Who woulda thunk it…

BMD

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