More on Why the West Rules

Here’s another reason why the West rules:

Is anybody making the citizens of, say, Havana or Lima litter like they are paid to do it? I’ve been to Havana. People spend all day sitting outside in the midst of piles of garbage with no inclination to clean up their own space. Is anybody forcing them to live like this? No, of course not.

Sweep your own doorstep and don’t drive like a maniac, and already the standard of living will improve significantly. But it’s more fun to pout, so pout they will.

I was born in a country where streets were covered with garbage and dog shit. And then people got over themselves and started cleaning up their mess. It’s possible to do for yourself without waiting for a kindly benefactor. Anybody can be “the West” if they choose to do it.


11 thoughts on “More on Why the West Rules

  1. I can beat on Singapore some more for you. 🙂

    When you go into nearly any fast-food restaurant, expect to find a considerable percentage of tables you can’t sit at because they’re full of the detritus left behind by previous visitors, despite the fact that visitors are expected to clear their own tables.

    This is because of a long-standing Singaporean habit of acting like every restaurant is full service, even the ones that aren’t, and so this became over time a passive-aggressive clash of corporate values versus societal habits in which the staff and the visitors persist in making the situation unending.

    If you drop the leftovers of a Happy Meal on the street, expect a 300+ SGD fine.

    But if you just leave all of that mess behind on the table at McDonald’s, that’s free!

    And so of course this is what happens.

    Again, there are things I like about Singapore, and this is not one of them.

    Wait … Stockholm is clean?

    NOOOO IT ISN’T, and that’s because the sewers vent into the streets.

    It’s twenty times worse during the winter when at every street corner, you can expect to gag on the remnants of everyone’s fish dinners.

    Helsinki is clean or industrial, take your pick.

    And London … “London Underground Cough”, just search for that, and marvel at how anyone could think London is clean.

    Masks on the Tube actually made that situation better for the average person, because wearing a mask on the Tube became normalised enough that people with stealth respiratory problems started to breathe cleaner air during their commutes.

    Also, there’s clean London, and then there are places like Stoke Newington.

    What kinds of people make up these ridiculous lists? 🙂


    1. I suppose labor costs make it unaffordable to employ someone to clean the tables. It’s definitely noticeable how much more automated everything is in Singapore compared to, say, Malaysia.


      1. Right … so why isn’t Toronto at the head of the list?

        It’s astonishingly clean in a lot of ways those other cities aren’t.

        And even the old Simcoe Place mall at the south end of PATH isn’t piled up with trays and partly uneaten meals at the end of the day, which puts it well ahead of Singapore’s big mall which is whole orders of magnitude nicer otherwise.

        The case of Singapore is clearly one in which people would be totally happy to leave crap all over the place if it weren’t for the fear of being whipped, caned, or fined past the point of mere inconvenience.

        Oh, but let’s compare like to like?

        Very well, Toronto’s Spadina is exceptionally clean compared to a lot of London’s “Zone 1”, and so is Bathurst.

        Jane-Finch is a shockingly nice slum area given the state of slums around the world.

        AND YET … nobody put Toronto at the top of the list.

        That’s what I’m talking about, and you totally missed it.

        The people who put these lists together do it by the numbers rather than how the cities really are.

        Their ideas of dirty typically consist of how cities aren’t making their bullshit climate change numbers.

        Ah, but Copenhagen … yeah, no, I’ve seen Vesterbro and Christania, so I’m not fooled for a moment.

        I’ll take “Dirty Orlando” (cleaner than every city on that list except Sapporo) instead, and I truly have no patience for Orlando.

        It’s just a distant supply chain hub we can use for now.

        Also, driving like a maniac gets things done … have you been to Manila? 🙂


  2. “streets were covered with garbage and dog shit”

    I’m reminded of a walk I took in the early 90s where I suddenly found myself on a stretch of sidewalk where careful calculation was needed to not step in a pile of dog mess….
    Years later they introduced laws that dog walkers need to pick up after their animals but for a few years not much changed (most preferred to pay the occasional fine). But little by little the practice grew and now it’s normal.
    Change can happen, but it’s not a quick or easy process.

    Liked by 1 person

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