February 12, 2010

The best place in the world to live? They say it's France.

For the 5th year in a row. (The U.S. has dropped from 3th to 7th place.)


The Drill SGT said...

France scores high marks across the board in the survey, which is done every January, from health care (100 points) to infrastructure (92 points) to safety and risk (100 points).

and the "Youths" that burn 1500 cars a night?

or the Nation wide strikes by government workers or railroads, or ....

Unknown said...

Consider the source.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Well we'd move up too if we had universal health care and nuclear power plants dotting the countryside.

oldirishpig said...

"3th"? I must have missed that day in grade school, lol...

KCFleming said...

Well, under Obama we'll be cheese-eating surrender monkeys ourselves soon enough.

Back on top in no time.

XWL said...

The source, International Living Magazine, is rating countries for a specific type of person. It's aimed at retirees with money. All the bad crap about a place like France isn't so bad if you have wealth, aren't worried about raising kids, or plan on buying much beyond services and food.

What I find notable about the CNN article is how they distort the survey. No mention that it's a survey targeting the needs of retirees, instead the piece is slanted to make you think that France is superior because of their healthcare, but if you read the IL blurb, it's all about the culture and food, and while France does get top marks in healthcare, the United States isn't that far behind, relatively speaking.

The scores are graded on a curve, with the top country in each category getting 100, the worst 0, and all the other countries getting a number relative to the top country, so USA's 78 with regards to health isn't significantly worse than France, and even that number is dubious, given that they rate Jordan and Cuba ahead of the USA, and Costa Rica and Bulgaria being equal to the USA, and Mexico and Egypt just barely behind. So, the scores are dubious, at best, and CNN is using this survey to beat the drums on healthcare.

My favorite detail, though, is the Cost of Living ratings, Sweden gets a 0, and Iraq gets a 100, so if you want to stretch your retirement dollar, then head for the hills of Arbil (Kurdistan is the safest part of Iraq, with zero foreigner or soldier deaths or kidnappings since Saddam's ouster, and they've been basically independent since 1991).

MadisonMan said...

The thing that struck me is that the new Mother got 5 days to rest at the hospital.

What a waste of money! You can rest at home, or check into a hotel. France must have way too many hospital beds.

Synova said...

5 days in the hospital isn't that much if no one is having babies.

But resting at home is easier, usually.

The military some 17 years ago gave me three days. And if you really wanted to go home earlier you might talk them into it.

My first civilian experience I got hustled out in one day and it was really rather awful. Not for *me* so much as because all the tests and stuff for my daughter were rushed through while I was still groggy and they did stuff to her that I would have refused them doing. (Such as the sugar water in a bottle to "see if she could swallow." Argh!)

My last was a C-section so I stayed longer.

One day is too short.

Beth said...


Thirth and begorra!

The Crack Emcee said...

You seem to forget:

I've been over this already.

It's all lies.

The Crack Emcee said...

Two more things, looking at the comments:

Don't forget the summer when 1500 elderly people died because of a heat wave, and the president stayed on vacation, only to return saying everyone should go to the movies because theaters have air conditioning.

I've had train trips take up to three hours longer because of those strikes - which gain the strikers nothing, but let the leaders know everybody will show up to work tomorrow just to see the look on their faces.

Anonymous said...

France has always been the best place to live..well..except when the Germans are restless.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Don't forget the summer when 1500 elderly people died because of a heat wave

Need to add another zero there Crack.

MadisonMan said...

What HD -- except I thought it was 30000.

Nearly 1000 died in Chicago in the heat wave of 1995. Heat waves are killers.

Anonymous said...

While I've never been to France, I have read a very insightful book by Mark Steyn called America Alone.
Steyn makes the case that France, along with the rest of Europe, is committing national suicide.
So yes, France would be a very nice place to live if you wish to be beheaded for your Christian beliefs, or assimilate to Islam.
C'mon Althouse.

KCFleming said...

I imagine it must be a terrible burden to decide where to live when money rolls off of you like hot fudge off a sundae.

Like Marie Antoinette's Hameau de la Reine, living in an upscale model of a peasant village in Normandy, complete with farmhouse, dairy, and mill.

Do the very rich, bien-pensant and supérieur in their French idyll, similarly dress as shepherdesses and milkmaids?

Or do they imitate modern French peasants, and burn Peugeots in mock Parisian slums?

Synova said...

Besides... everyone knows that the place to live when you retire is the Philippines... 'specially if you have BX and Commissary privileges. ;-)

(Okay, *was* the best place to retire.)

X said...

one monarchy, 2 empires, 5 republics, and a Nazi occupation since the founding of the United States. sounds like they know what they are doing.

Tibore said...

"Comrade X said...
one monarchy, 2 empires, 5 republics, and a Nazi occupation since the founding of the United States. sounds like they know what they are doing."

Don't forget one Inquisition and one guillotine-centric revolution.

Titus said...

France is fab. My husband and I will be spending a week there on our trip to India.

If you haven't gone dont knock it and if you have arent' you ready to get there again?

Lot's of hot foreign hogs...although I am married. Granted it is not Tupelo but still very fab.

Tibore said...

"Synova said...
Besides... everyone knows that the place to live when you retire is the Philippines... 'specially if you have BX and Commissary privileges. ;-)

(Okay, *was* the best place to retire.)"

Well, there's that little heat/humidity problem. When I went there back in '06, it was still freezing - literally, as in the teens to low 20's - in the midwest, but effin' suffocating in Cebu. It's sort of strange to come off the plane into soggy humidity with sweaters, long underwear and a heavy coat in your luggage, but seriously, that's the change that happens when you fly out of the midwest to the South Pacific.

Also: Things like home appliances (sinks, fridges, washers & dryers), electronics (flat panel TVs, computer equipment, etc.) are actually no cheaper than the US once you do the FilPeso-to-USD conversion. Which was a shock to me (maybe that's only Cebu and Manila; I don't know...). So it's not like everything is cheaper there.

But: Food. Damn cheap. You can eat well and safely (i.e. not go to random street vendors) for just a couple of bucks a day. And I mean you can fill yourself up. On top of that, it's absolutely antithetical to the Filipino character to rush things (just watch my mom when we're late to family gatherings (*rolls eyes*)), so even in crowded urban areas, you don't feel as tense or stressed as you do in large cities here in the states.

Modernization? It's there in the large urban areas.

Entertainment: Again, cheap, but in some cases for not really laudable reasons (piracy is rife; I walked by an open air "mall" full of nothing but pirated DVDs. Yes, pirated, no question; some were as bad as being obviously a guy holding a video camera in a theater).

Ease of integration: Everyone speaks English. Everyone. It was taught as one of the primary languages in schools for years; I actually had the weird case of my father and maternal grandmother having to talk to each other in English because they didn't share native dialects (and grandma didn't want to speak Tagalog, feeling that Cebuano was enough). I also had the weird experience of having more language issues in Hong Kong - a city famous for english-speaking foreigners being able to operate in - than in the most podunk areas of Mindanao and Luzon. If you're mugged in Gen San City, your mugger will understand the invective you shout at him as he runs away.

I won't get into the famous "single retiree looking for a wife" issue. That creeps me out; I actively suppress any thought on it. But unfortunately it happens, and I've even had friends - not even retirees >:-( - ask me about the opportunities (*shudder*). Anyway, not going there. And not thinking of it as a plus for retirees either.

But sure, the Philippines has some advantages.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Sure, France is great- as long as you don't park your Citroen near the Banlieues!!!

Synova said...

Tibore, there *was* a reason I put a ;-) on there.

You know you've been in the PI too long when it's 75 degrees and you put on a sweater. ;-)

The retirees I knew/met when I was at Clark were generally military, of course, and likely to have married a Filipina and moved back. They ranged from the rather staid fellow next door (who's daughter would climb the wall to get guavas from our bush and who explained that coconuts really do fall from trees and break your head) to the guy who talked really slowly to me and raised his voice, presumably because I was female and he was drunk (not everyone had great English - particularly girls who came from elsewhere, and to be polite no one would let on they didn't understand what you said.)

We drove through Cebu on our way out after Pinatubo and it was very different from the area around the US bases. More normal, I suppose. I'd been up to Bagio once, but it wasn't too long after the big quake there so there was still disruption and debris. (My friend spoke English to shop keepers there instead of Tagalog.) I never made it to Manila.

Is your family from Cebu?

Smilin' Jack said...

"I'd rather be a lamppost in New York than President of France." -- Popeye Doyle, French Connection II

WV: ingner--how engineers typically spell their profession.

Scott M said...

"They" also say Radiohead is one of the greatest rock bands of all time. I like Creep and Idioteque as much as the next guy, but...come on!

Besides, your probability of keeping your car from catching on fire randomly is much, much higher in France these days.

Fen said...

Maybe part of Obama's plan to save medicare and social security is to have the NYTs convince seniors to move to France.

Fen said...

Oh sorry, CNN not NYTs. As if there's any difference.

Palladian said...

Almost anywhere is wonderful if you're rich. Almost anywhere is terrible if you're poor.

Palladian said...

Almost anywhere is wonderful if you're in love. Almost anywhere is terrible if you're lonely.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Keep in mind that France is the birthplace of mimes and they think Jerry Lewis is a comedic genius.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Almost anywhere is wonderful if you're in love.

I don't know Palladian. I dated a smoking hot Korean babe in college and I still don't think Pyongyang would be my cup of tea.

ricpic said...

Utah's the best place to live...if you can tolerate the wholesomeness. But if you must have decadence France will do.

The Crack Emcee said...

Lots of good stuff here:

Pink Monkey,

A great book on what it's really like is Denis Boyle's Vile France: Fear, Duplicity, Cowardice and Cheese. He lives there, and can give you an accurate American perspective.


Sensing my dissatisfaction with the living conditions of the average Frenchman's life, nervous types would introduce me to the rich: effete guys with the sweater around the neck who owned wineries. Really depressing.


Visiting for a week in Paris is like going to San Francisco and imagining you know America.


Confession time: I moved to Utah - specifically for the wholesomeness. I've never lived anywhere where I can see the things I've seen here: little girls walking the street at night, hand-in-hand, but unafraid of even a black guy in the dark watching them, amazed. Cops ignore me. And there's all the work I can hope for. It's great - except for the liberals trying to muck it up, wishing everyone was more sophisticated, etc. Even the Mormons are nothing like what I expected: they gave me a Book of Mormon (score!) and then just left me alone (score!) Low crime - and laughable when you see the type of shit they get into (wannabe "gangstas" holding up cops, that kind of thing) - low enough I haven't heard a siren since I got here, nor seen a police helicopter (really unusual for this L.A. guy).

Yea, I'd take Utah over France any day. It's got a lot of growing to do, and it is, but it's still so behind the rest of the country for nonsense that they can head off a lot of it before it goes sour, as I've seen in California.

The Crack Emcee said...

Oh, and there's been no - no - racial shit in this most conservative of cities. Totally unlike San Francisco.

Cedarford said...

Crack Emcee - "Don't forget the summer when 1500 elderly people died because of a heat wave, and the president stayed on vacation, only to return saying everyone should go to the movies because theaters have air conditioning."

15,000. But it is a matter of perspective, Crack. Lots died one summer, France largely fixed flaws in their healthcare system that allowed it to happen by the next summer.
Contrast to the USA, where lack of healthcare causes the premature death of 40-45,000 working poor each and every year.
While we keep "best in the world!!" healthcare for prisoners, illegal aliens, welfare mommas. And of course cadillac plans for gov't employees and the corporate crowd.
Unlike France, we are still debating what to do about our massive death toll in the working poor who literally will not seek medical help until they are dying - because going earlier risks all they have worked or saved for.

(A very dirty fact in the USA is that the medical and insurance lobbies have "negotiated fees" where the uninsured or can't be insured because of a pre-existing condition pays double or triple the "negotiated fee" that hospitals charge the carriers of insured patients, while giving it for free to the "indigent")

Revenant said...

I'm glad to see Australia's in second place. I've been thinking of moving there when I'm older.

Anonymous said...

France is a wonderful place to live if you are able-bodied, but not so great if you're handicapped. When I lived there for a brief time, I saw few concessions for disabilities. Crossing a street can be perilous, wheelchair ramps are as rare as a French military victory, and no one in France can afford to be blind. There is no FDA disabilities act that promotes the universal but costly fixes to public accommodations that are required in the US by law.

The Crack Emcee said...


Americans know so little about French healthcare - the reality of it - that it's comical. I saw tons of people - tons - with (what, to me, were) mystery ailments everywhere: polio especially. Kids with their hair falling out, patients in hospitals, invalids, being dropped repeatedly on their heads - and all that incredible healthcare supported by my favorite "medicine", homeopathy, AKA "water". The only thing more incredible than the lack of healthcare I saw is how little Americans know about it (I sincerely think Michael Moore should be punished for the lies he's told: and he really goes crazy with the lies, about us, when he's over there).

How such ignorance can exist in 2010 (not yours but generally) amazes me. I watch TV shows about France and just shake my head at what I see: it's honestly nothing like that. Like listening to Democrats (or NewAgers) talk about their views/ambitions, the truth gets inverted and twisted. Sure, France has great healthcare, and Barack Obama was bringing "change". Sure.

Tell me another one, I'm all ears,...

The Crack Emcee said...


"Crossing a street can be perilous,..."

It's funny what can trigger memories, but that comment did. Memories of people refusing to stop and help an old lady, stranded by the side of the road with car problems, pointing at their watches as they sped by. Drivers refusing to pull over for ambulances. And some of the most horrific car accidents you've never seen, from the combination of no seat belt laws and drunken drivers speeding on long stretches of unlit highways. I'm talking the kind of accidents that can keep you up at night, that Americans only see, today, in those cautionary driving movies from the 50s (or The Normal's "Warm Leatherette" video). Just gruesome shit.

France is a truly gruesome country.

Anonymous said...

@The Crack Emcee: I have a number of similar "old lady" stories to tell. Empathy is evidently not part of the French national character. I love the French anyway, and they were always kind and friendly to me.

RLB_IV said...

I first visited France in 1954. I was 6 years old. What I recall is that Paris smelled bad. People stank unless they were drenched in perfume and that made me gag. I saw guys piss on the ground in alleys. Dad always said," the ravages of war". I think he was being kind. We went to Marseilles on the coast. I liked Marseille but the people smelled. Then we went along the Spanish border to a place I now know as Rennes Le Chateau. At 6 it was a fun walk. I did it again in 1969 with my girlfriend. Paris had improved, alot.

The Crack Emcee said...


"I have a number of similar 'old lady' stories to tell. Empathy is evidently not part of the French national character. I love the French anyway, and they were always kind and friendly to me."

Isn't it funny how empathy isn't part of the French character but duplicity is built right in there? Plotting? Betrayal? Yea, there's a lot to love there.

Individual French people are cool, as individuals are everywhere (you come to my house and I'll be kind and friendly to you, too: buy you a beer and everything) but as a people, after "one Inquisition and one guillotine-centric revolution" (thanks Tibore) and two world wars, they are some wigged out people.

The Crack Emcee said...

Just thought you'd like to know, when they're being honest with themselves, I'm not alone in my thoughts about the french character.

They can't even stand themselves.

Cugel said...

How much to you want to bet that the people who ran that poll where supplied with lavish portions of La Tache?

French wine probably is the best in the world (at least the best of it is). I enjoy importing it, but I don't think I'd enjoy living among rioting "youths" who burn my car's tires and government-protected labor-union thugs who parasitically sap what enterprise remains among the citizenry. (Er, even more so than they do in the U.S., that is.)

There is French wine, and then there is French whine.

Unknown said...

I’m an American temporarily living in France. I had one baby (Caesarean section) in the US and one baby (also Caesarean section) in France. In the US I was sent home from the hospital after less than 3 days, when I could barely walk and just as my milk was coming in – awful. However, the painkillers were great. In France I fervently begged the doctor to let me come home after 6 days; he wanted me to stay another 2 days as is customary in France after a C-Section. The painkillers were weak (barely stronger than Tylenol) and I was in so much pain that I much preferred being at home in my misery.

One misuse/abuse of the French healthcare system I see is that people go to the doctor at the slightest sign of a sneeze. My theory is that the doctors, who like to get repeat business, continue to prescribe lots of weak medication in order to keep their patients coming back, which perpetuates a society of true hypochondriacs. Rarely do I come home from the doctor with fewer than 5 prescriptions for a stomach flu or common cold - all for worthless weak drugs. In all the US healthcare debates I’ve read, I have yet to see substantive discussion about this kind of potential abuse in a socialized healthcare environment, but perhaps I haven’t looked around enough.

Aside from the weak drugs, the quality of healthcare I have received in France has been excellent, albeit expensive to the people of France. Sarkozy recognizes this last fact and is trying to get people to tighten their belts by slowly removing social benefits little by little. This causes all sorts of strikes (often in transportation or education) which can cripple the country for a day or two at a time, and is (in my opinion) completely baffling for an American to witness. The right to strike has its roots in the French revolution, and even the French folks who can't stand the strikers will often defend the strikers' rights to shut down major portions of the country for a day.
Paradoxically, the French often bitch incessantly about their social services while simultaneously benefitting from them and bragging about how great they are. It’s easy for one to say “I love France but hate the French”, but despite all of this, I can’t bring myself to say so. Most French people I’ve met have been incredibly kind, and in many cases, kinder to me (because I’m an American) than they might be to a fellow Frenchperson.

Tibore said...


Mom's side is actually from Surigao del Sur on Mindanao, but the majority of them have meadered to Cebu in one way or another. Dad's was from Cavite, but a majority of them are scattered across the US. But I've spent a total of what, 3 days in Luzon, which pales in comparison to the cumulative weeks I've spent in Cebu and Surigao. Most of my impressions were formed in Cebu City, with the rest around the north and northeastern part of Mindanao.

And yes: My mom used to break out the sweaters at 60 degrees. All the elder Filipinos of her generation swear that they cannot go back there to live because they're afraid the heat will kill them. There's some personal dramaticization behind that, because it doesn't seem to bother them for the days to weeks at a stretch they go back to visit, but they all say very solemnly, almost piously that there's no way they can handle the heat. It's kind of funny, actually. :-)


Word Verification: sesseshn. What them Southerners tried in the Wah Buhtween the States.