Richard, what part of England are you from? Tell us what it was like growing up over there.
I was born in Cheltenham, spent my formative years in Norwich and called Liverpool home before moving Stateside. Cheltenham is famous for its horse racing and Spa Water, Norwich is famous for its Mustard and chocolate factory. I think your readers probably know what and who Liverpool is famous for. As for the growing up the food, TV and fashions had large American influences. While it wasn’t that long ago (!) it doesn’t seem all that detached from today.
I understand England has a different healthcare system than we have. Can you compare the two systems in your opinion? Do you feel that Obama care is leading us towards an English type of Healthcare system?
They’ve had National Healthcare since the mid 1940′s. It was a good system in its day but with aging and growing populations it’s reached the same kind of limits the American system has in regard of waste and maintaining consistent service for the people who need it most. As for comparisons, some rascal observed that if you put the Government in charge of sand in the desert there would, in time, be a shortage of sand. In many ways the British National Health Service is proof of this but then again “big insurance” over here have caused just as much heartache for sick people and
their families. The solution for a functional health system in the 21st century probably lies somewhere in between the government and the free market.
Obama care is modeled in large part on the national health systems around the British Commonwealth. But any reasonable person would say a government system that barely works for 67 million people in the UK is probably going to have a tougher time with a population of 300 million here in the USA.
Is there the same type of opportunity available to everyone in England like there is in the United States?
Unfortunately not. The two biggest differences between here and there is the can-do attitude and the entrepreneurial spirit that drove much of this country’s success. Hard work and creativity are respected in the UK but the notion of the right idea could let anyone become the next Richard Branson is considered naive or delusional. Price Edward managed to turn the whole country against him a number of years ago when he said that the Brits dislike people who are successful. I wouldn’t go that far but he wasn’t so far off the mark.
Why is the Royal Family treated like Movie Stars and why do you think some American’s treat them the same way?
Mainly because of the British tabloid media. The newspapers that are normally sold right at the supermarket checkout counters over here would be at about the same level of many of the papers in the UK. The US media has Hollywood; the British media has the Royal Family. It also doesn’t help that the younger members of the Royal Family act like movie stars. As for how the Americans receive them I’ve found them to be more respectful of the Royal Family than some of the Brits are.
What was the biggest culture shock you experienced when moving to the United States?
I can’t recall finding anything particularly shocking. I understand that the culture shock occurs when you return to your country of origin instead of when you go somewhere new and different. I’ll get back to you on that one.
I know you are a conservative and would probably lean more republican than democrat. Do you feel this view point would be held by most of the English? Why?
The UK has just as much of a left / right divide politically, but the majority of the Labour Party (the equivalent to the Democrats over here) would not go as far to the left. Or to put it another way many British liberals and leftists would actually find themselves somewhere in the middle of the American political spectrum. The same rule would apply on the other end. Most British conservatives would identify with Republicans but there are some who would be much further right. Overall I would say the British are more liberally minded but would conduct themselves more like moderate conservatives.
They don’t want to be told what to do and wouldn’t presume to tell anyone else how to live their lives. There is also an extreme political element that places political correctness and tolerance above all else and they will riot from time to time against people they perceive as bigoted, racist extremists on behalf of bigoted, racist extremists who have just entered the country. Only in England.
I’m going to give you a tough one here Richard. What do you think Obama has done right and why?
Politics aside, President Obama seems like a decent individual. His continued drive of the War on Terror is the policy I’d agree with the most. The fact that the last two world wars started for much less than what we’ve seen occur in the Middle East is a miracle in its own right. He’s also woken up the country politically, this was demonstrated in the mid-term elections of 2010 and we’ll likely see more of the same in the upcoming General Election.
I know you follow the pulse of the county when it comes to politics and social matters. Do you feel the country at this point is moving more conservative or Liberal?
Regardless of what the Progressive or conservative fringes may say, the USA exists somewhere in the moderate middle. With the financial crisis ongoing there may be more fiscally conservative policies enacted but everything else will remain either too conservative for the progressives or too progressive for the conservatives.
You pride yourself on your unique music selection and over the years many great bands have come from the U.K. What bands do you feel will be making a splash here in America that are currently up and coming in the U.K.?
I’ve been listening to the new album by Mumford and Sons `Sigh No More`. They combine good songwriting with some catchy tunes, also the group Florence & The Machine caught my attention after a recent performance on Austin City Limits. Another artist that seems to be gaining traction is Adele. All of them are as English as fish and chips and should be on the mp3 device of the discerning music fan.
Who do you feel is the greatest musical artist of all times? Tell us why and name some favorite songs.
It would have to be Mr. Bob Dylan; you probably knew that was coming. Once you get beyond the jokes about his singing he’s probably one of the greatest poets who has ever lived and his endless creativity is inspirational. From folk to rock to gospel to blues and back again. One of the best but overlooked songs of the 1960′s had to be `Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream`. It’s a five minute comedy film that I listen to at least every other week. A musical highlight of the 1970′s had to be the entire `Blood On The Tracks` album. One so important to him he recorded the whole thing twice. The first was recorded in the Midwest and when he got to NY he decided it wasn’t quite right so he did the whole thing again with a new studio band. The last few years have seen him turn into a straight-out blues singer and the more recent `Thunder On The Mountain` is as good as anything he’s ever written.