Is Australia really the 'better' United States?
Not at all. More like a worse version of the USA.
- The social culture in Australia is characterized by ‘crab mentality'. That is, those who excel are quickly cut down by the pack in order to maintain the status quo of everyone not working too hard. I was a medical student there, and I learned very quickly that pretending to be stupid was absolutely life saving. I was smothered from asking questions, being inquisitive and learning medicine.
- Australia tolerates visible minorities, not accept them. Weekly physical assaults on international students, mostly Indian/Pakistanis and East Asians. You will not find many people wearing hijabs or turbans there.
- Success in Australia is social based, rather than merit based. For instance, in order for a physician to enter competitive training programs, they have to suck up to those who are in charge, rather than doing well on entrance exams or other objectively measured parameters
- In Australia, those who are poor are treated far better than those who are middle classed or wealthy. I was in court once and the judge gave very light penalties for defendants who literally wore muddy shoes and ripped denim shorts that sat in the chair swirling around and harsh penalties to defendants who said ‘your honor' or dressed respectfully. If you drive a new car (doesn't even have to be nice) it WILL be vandalized.
- Australians are far less tolerant of different opinions, religions and belief systems. This becomes evident even when speaking to locals where you have a different opinion about something. You will be ostracized quickly.
- Australians have a sheltered mentality, by protecting themselves against international competition. The make it very difficult for other countries to export their products to Australia. As well, it is interestingly far more expensive to buy Australian Lamb domestically than overseas.
- Australians don't tend to like Americans very much. In fact, the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine told us during orientation day that they don't accept many Americans due to cultural clashes. I personally know 2 Americans (one who studied Occupational Therapy and one who studied Medicine with me) that dropped out due to not being able to tolerate the culture. It is too smothering for the American that strives to excel and for the Australians, they see that as arrogant, threatening behavior.
If you are the kind of person who likes stability, to blend in with the crowd, and just live day to day peacefully, then you will like it (provided you are not a visible minority). but if you want to excel, improve your life, intellectually curious, and like challenges, Australia will smother you like Asthma.
I will add that in terms of government policies, Australia is quite progressive and liberal. But the hearts and minds of the common people are a very different story. These are the things that a traveler will not likely notice because Australia looks like a progressive country superficially, but living, studying or working there is a completely different story.
This is a silly question and I am growing tired of all the drama coming from it in the comments section.
Lots of bearded Brunswick and Fitzroy hipsters are basically saying:
- ‘No. Australia is so much better that they aren't even comparable.'
...and then angry American teens are going on ranting tirades about how the dating scene in Australia is awful, Australians seem like simpletons, or whatever.
I will say this:
Australia is not a copy of the US.
"I've heard that AUS is very similar culturally to the USA, as in, if you're American it's an easy transition into the culture(assuming you aren't an ammosexual)."
It is culturally similar, insofar as it is a Positive Face Anglo culture like the US, but there are lots of differences.
Australia is a lot less competitive, and the whole Asian Tiger Mom culture is not a thing here at all.
In university, most Australian students aim for simply passing, and there aren't so many of these honour societies and exclusive cliques for people who are high achievers.
On the other hand, at the MA and MSc level, Australian universities often grade a bit harder than in the US. I have a 3.8/4.0 gpa, but no Australian universities really take my grades seriously because they know most of my professors just gave me As. The only reason I am basically a foot in, is that I am applying with a degree from the University of Washington (one of the top 30 colleges on earth), and I have done research that was published in Australia.
In the US, the undergraduate level is often very competitive with lots of weeder courses intentionally designed to fail students and force them into the liberal arts, but then in graduate school, there are minimum GPAs you have to keep up to stay in. Professors would rather give you high grades so they don't have to toss you out, and then restart on a new student.
In the US, in a college area, you always see university students everywhere cramming tests, panicking, even crying while they skype their mom; I have never seen anything like that in Australia. People just don't care that much about their grades.
Things at work are also a lot less competitive. I panicked when I showed up 2 minutes late twice in a week, but nothing happened.
One day, I did get a bit of a stern talking to after I showed up 34 seconds early, but I didn't know there was a staff meeting beforehand.
Australians are also much more willing to take shit from big companies, the government, and officials in general. They are less competitive, and time is less important to them on average.
For example, in the US, if you are waiting at the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) and it takes 3 hours, you will see many angry people complaining.
In Australia, at VicRoads (the state of Victoria's version of the DMV), I never see stuff like that even with 2 or 3 hour waits. Things take longer and people don't get mad at people for not doing their jobs well.
Another time, I was taking the tram through Melbourne's CBD, and there was a protest blocking the tracks. I decided to get out and walk, but most people just seemed to stay in the tram and wait for the protest to move.
All of this has the effect of decreasing convenience. It is not as extreme as countries where they have ‘Island Time' like Jamaica, but there is a noticeable difference. Australian government and university websites are not very user friendly at all, and often down.
Australia is currently being slow at upgrading their internet to US, South Korean, Japan, Poland, Estonia, pretty much every other remotely developed country's speeds.
They can't be compared. Australia isn't a ‘version' of the US for one (unless I somehow missed the Imperialistic take-over). They are completely different culturally not to mention historically. I'm not going to say one is better than the other either - it all depends on what you personally prefer and what you think you can live with. I think there are many aspects to value about both countries and of course both have their flaws ...
- Firstly, Australia as a sovereign country, is younger.
- Australia was inhabited by Indigenous Australians at least 50,000 years prior to British settlement with upwards of 250 classifiable languages spoken. So there's plenty of Indigenous history but not so much European history.
- As a continent Australia was discovered by Dutch explorers in 1606. Australia's eastern half was claimed by Britain in 1770. BUT "Europeans" only started settling and LIVING in Australia in 1788 and that was one penal colony. It was only by the 1850s that most of the continent had been explored and an additional five self-governing crown colonies were established.
- TDLR: There's only been a European presence in Australia for 229 years.
- There are no Scottish style castles. There are no British pubs dating back to the 11th or 12th Century. Most buildings are new unless they're heritage listed.
- Voting is compulsory ie civil participation is expected and enforced.
- On 1 January 1901, the six colonies federated, forming the Commonwealth of Australia. Australia has since maintained a stable liberal democratic political system that functions as a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy comprising six states and several territories.
- In terms of the political system let me put it this way ... it's representative. The popular vote wins. There's no electoral college to veto what the actual population wants.
- But neither does Australia claim itself to be the "greatest democracy in the world".
- Australia is not a republic. The Queen is represented in Australia at the federal level by a Governor-General. The Constitution gives the impression that the Queen has a lot of power. However, in reality, the Queen exercises very little power. Since Federation, the powers of the Queen and the Governor-General have been whittled down. The key power that the Queen does exercise is to appoint the Governor-General (which is done on the advice of the Prime Minister of Australia).
- The Governor-General also appears to have a lot of power and they do have a large role within the Australian system of government compared to the Queen. But in almost all cases the Governor-General must act on the advice of the Prime Minister.
- Australia is secular but not to the strict definition. For example in France there is the complete removal of God and religion from the public sphere.
- In Australia, Section 116 of the Constitution provides that:
- "The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth."
- As a result, the federal government cannot establish a state church. However, the state does interact with religion. For example, the federal government funds schools run by religious organisations and recognises marriages conducted by religious celebrants.
- Secularism in Australia means no state church. It means giving people a choice between belief and un-belief. It means religious leaders may lobby for their point of view but so too may leaders of atheist, humanist and rationalist organisations.
- Despite some blackbirding, Australia has never had legalised slavery to the point the US has had.
- Australia has never had a civil war.
- Australia did not have a civil rights movement to the extent the US had, nor was it within the context of Abolitionism.
- Between 1957–1967, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal activists came together to campaign for equal civil rights for Indigenous Australians, and to bring about the repeal of laws which deprived Indigenous Australians of civil liberties.
- But settlers and government institutions have committed abuses against Indigenous Australians.
- A major example would be the Stolen Generations - between 1910-1970, many Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families as a result of various government policies.
- The fact we both speak English means zip. I think the Shaw quote - "England and America are two countries divided by a common language" holds true for Australia and the US as well. It's uncontroversial that citizens from both countries often find themselves scratching their heads due to variations in accent, slang, spelling and even grammar. Of course, this isn't insurmountable.
- And lastly, the majority of Australians don't like guns. I won't go into statistics I'm sure there are enough arguments about it anyway but I'll give you Australian psychology.
- Guns are deeply tied into Australian history. But while Australian police have carried guns since the First Fleet from England arrived, there is little tolerance for the American idea that possession of guns should be treated more as a right than a threat. Australians don't associate guns with freedom. For Australians it's more wonderment than anger - it's the shock of not understanding why Americans tolerate guns in their communities.
Now people have already addressed healthcare and all that so I won't go into anything else, though I've only scraped the surface.
YES, Australia and the US are different, but we're allies ... and most of all, despite being in separate hemispheres we too have a long history together! And if your memory is sketchy on it take a moment to look it up, it's quite interesting!
As an Australian citizen who has lived, worked and visited the U.S.A. since 1972, I have had the opportunity to compare everyday life in both countries so here are my perceptions of the cultural differences:
- Language differences: Very similar to a New Yorker moving to Arkansas. Metropolitan Australians use language more & more like their USonian counterparts, with slang (e.g. "ballpark" "whole nine yards") often unconsciously adopted. There remain many traps in the vernacular, but guides exist to aid the transition.
- Food: Good coffee is everywhere; USonian bitter stewed coffee is available if you really don't know or don't like real coffee.
- Sadly, many of the fast food chains are well-entrenched in Australia, but most pubs (an evolution from the English public house) & taverns provide inexpensive quality meals.
- Fine dining abounds, and most areas have a variety of cuisines and amenities to suit most tastes & budgets.
- Religion: Places of worship abound for those of many faiths to congregate. Visit with those who share your faith, but don't evangelize, proselytize or preach or you'll not make new friends. We are not a religious society, nor publicly patriotic. The deeply religious are accepted, as long they aren't too overt about it; flag-waving is widely viewed as the preserve of right-wing bigots.
- Social security: Imperfect as our social safety net is, there is no reasonable comparison. In Australia, unemployment exists, it causes great distress and disadvantage but you won't die from it. We have our own alt-right such as your current crop of Republicans in government today, but they just don't have the power to dismantle a system that has taken a century of social development to create. Seriously damage it, yes - destroy, not really.
- Cost of living: generally higher in consumer durables, food and housing. Medical costs - much lower.
- Guns: We have plenty, owned by those with a genuine need (both sporting & agricultural) and by criminals.Extremely difficult to acquire for the purposes of domestic violence, road rage, settlement of disputes, bar fights and killing lots of children in schools and churches. Toddlers do not have access to loaded and cocked handguns to dispatch their siblings and other family members. Our little children may bite your ankle, but it's unlikely to warrant a hospital emergency visit.
- Deadly animals: As in the U.S., the most deadly animals are horses, cattle & dogs. Bees and sharks are way down on the list; with crocodiles/alligators, snakes and spiders more likely to kill you in the U.S. than in Australia. Be wary of drop bears, though.
- We have political corruption like everywhere else that has politics. There are ways forward to improve the system, and enough concerned voters to influence it. Automatic registration and compulsory voting (or turnout, at least) and the preferential system have a lot to commend them.
While working for a California-headquartered corporation, my wife & I made a difficult but carefully-considered decision back in the early-nineties to turn down a much higher-paid promotion that required our relocation to Northern California. Love the city; have many friends still to today; love the relaxed lifestyle but did not want our children in the U.S. education system, and the other social & cultural limitations of a society so unconsciously steeped in the eighteenth century.
I struggle with trying to find a way forward for the U.S.A., but I think it's all downhill from here. New Zealand is a better place to live in every way, except for the climate being a bit too cool for my ageing bones.
No, Australia is not a better United States. It is a totally different country to yours and the cultural differences are profound. America is a competition based capitalistic society whilst Australia is more like a community based culture that is led by consensus rather than by competition. Sure we are fiercely competitive on the sports arena and the battlefield but we prefer to look after each other in the community. We are what your republicans call communists, although of course we are not.
- we tend to believe that individuals have responsibilities rather than rights. We do not have a written bill of rights. The lawyers want one but that is just to feather their nests. A lot of young people will spout on about their rights, but that is only because they watch too many American tv shows.
- We believe that health care should not be a profit centre for big business so we took it off of them. Dentistry would break the bank but there are programmes fro the disadvantaged dental patient.
- Australia has a much larger middle class than the US because we tend to share the wealth more than you do. Our basic wage is $17.70 an hour, more on weekends and public holidays plus everyone gets 4 or 5 weeks holiday a year, free health benefits and retirement benefits. this is the minimum, most do much better than that.
- Australians love to make money but it is not a religion here. There are many measures of success that Australians honour as much as money. Many of our heroes and award winners are not really well off. Scientists, sports people, community workers are most likely to turn up on the annual honours list.
- One major cultural difference is that while Americans worship winners, here we cut them down to size. If you see a famous film star or politician or sports person in public, you leave them alone.
Australia in my opinion is an easier country to survive in, I failed miserably in the US, I was schmuck and quickly descended into a loser. But I did try hard. I returned to Australia and I have done well. I have not made a ton of money. but I live in a wonderful community and I have some respect and many friends.
I thought I answered this question - maybe it was deleted.
I feel sorry for Americans, the country is going down the drain. It wasn't always this way and need not be, but forces at work are driving this.
As a soft-left-libertarian, I have often imagined what a modern western society would look like it is was free. Across all dimensions, including freedom of work and enterprise and ability to keep what you earned, as well as the freedoms of thought, speech, action, sexuality, belief and so on.
Even when I imagine a society more ‘free' than Australia, sadly it would look nothing like the USA. The USA is turning into hell - a ‘worst of all worlds' that is simultaneously violent, rule bound, unfair and autocratic.
Let's go through the USA's ‘freedoms':
Bearing arms - this has always depended on an optimistic view of how human behaviour ‘ought' to work. If everyone is armed, so the theory goes, everyone knows the personal cost of unwarranted use of arms, so nobody does. Such a society could be very safe. And gun ownership would be both a right and responsibility, like vaccination.
In this libertarian paradise you could have a spectrum from at one end Switzerland, and at the other end Somalia. Unfortunately the evidence bears out that the USA is more Somalia than Switzerland. The widespread availability of guns does not seem to have tempered the preparedness to use them, nor the deeper issues of just how violent the society is.
Whereas in Australia, where guns are still fairly widespread, restricted use acknowledges that some of the social and other pressures that are causing the violence have not been dealt with, so having guns in the wrong hands is just too risky.
People here CAN shoot for sport, they CAN hunt (provided the observe wildlife laws), they can own guns for farming, and of course, if they are police, security or soldiers.
Speech - again the written constitution has not served the USA well. Our unwritten rule, called by the courts the Implied Right of Political Comment, asserts that because we have democracy and elections people need the freedom to talk about political issues, but that does not extend to peddling hatred, bribing politicians or the numerous other malign uses for ‘free speech' that the USA upholds. Our right extends just as far as it needs to - you can say you think Muslims should not be granted citizenship - because that is a political issue - but you can't say they should all be rounded up and X'd and Y'd and all sorts of things.
The freedom to succeed or fail by your own efforts and enterprise, and keep the rewards of your success without government interference - I believe in free markets because they work, not because they are a great idea or philosophically sound. And the free-est markets work the best, except in the known situations where they don't.
Unfortunately we are seeing in the USA the ‘worst of all worlds' - a society where the very rich manipulate every single thing to their advantage, not just the market powers of scale, natural monopoly or entry/exit, but every damned thing - laws, rules, election outcomes, the public information flow.
Australia, thankfully (and it does have a lot wrong with it, but anyway) at least has avoided the worst of all worlds while failing to reach the best. The social protections of income, health, education are sound enough to ensure the poorest and most disadvantaged still have some shot at life, and are able to then pull themselves up by the bootstraps, and there are plenty of very very rich people, who (as our first significant conservative Prime Minister Menzies noted) look after themselves no matter what the situation. And they can live very very well.
I don't want to be seen exaggerating Australia's capacities for entrepreneurialism, I think there are real problems and the USA has a profound cultural advantage here.
Freedom to choose your leaders - the USA has become a joke, and Australia's relative ‘lack of freedoms' in this place have actually made it more free.
Americans don't turn up to vote, they don't inform themselves of the parties or policies, they elect positions that should never be elected eg judges, they prevent people from voting, they move the electoral boundaries to rig elections, they allow companies to fund elections and bribe politicians all within the law.
And we are judging Americans by their ‘fruits'. I do not need any further evidence of the faults of the American system, they are self-evident.
Australians, on the other hand: MUST turn up to vote, cannot be prevented from voting by work, do not elect positions like judges or school boards, elections are overseen by neutral bodies who cannot prevent people from voting or manipulate the electoral boundaries, and there is considerable regulation of political donations and bribery is very strongly policed.
Of course there are rough edges to all of the above but in principle and in practice the Australian system is better.
Belief - of course you should be free to believe as you wish, but when religion occupies such a large part of American political and social culture, unlike Australia, and the Christian religion has become as malign as any extreme offshoot of Islam, then you have to question whether this freedom is being abused.
Children being married at 12; Abortion clinics being blown up or doctors killed; LGBTI people harassed and legally sanctioned for using toilets and other stupid stuff; fights over wedding cakes; on it goes. Only in American.
Now one place the USA leads the pack is marriage law but even that came from the courts not the electorate.
Sexuality - as above, but I note that the USA has some sort of extreme perversion where violence is celebrated but even a woman's breasts might be censored by the likes of Facebook. We are stuck with puritanical morality imposed across the planet by American hegemony. Australia tends to be a bit more enlightened, though it too has room for improvement.
To summarise - freedom has the potential to make the USA a better America than Australia - but the evidence has been in for some time and we are seeing a reality that is a long way removed. So if you want to enjoy the American lifestyle you might be better off doing it in Australia, with all its limitations.