Monday, October 18, 2010

Different Strokes

I've raved about how sweet Australia is compared to America, but I haven't yet explained it in much detail, so here we go!

Let's start with government: 

1. Australia operates on a mild two-party system, compared to USA's dominant two-party system.

Labor Party (Democrat Party)
Liberal party (Republican Party)
Republican Party & Democrat Party
To clarify, the Labo(u)r Party is most like the US' Democrat Party, and the Liberal Party is most like the US' Republican Party, even though Democrats in America are deemed Liberal. Moving on.

The reason it is a mild two-party system is because Australia uses a system of preferential voting and proportional representation, compared to USA's plurality voting system of winner of most votes takes all.

In Australia, you rank your candidates in order of preference, and candidates are awarded seats by how many votes they get, compared to simply winning their electoral districts. Because of this, many minority parties can gain representation, compared to barely any third party representation in the USA. This can also result in a hung Parliament, like what happened in Australia this year. As bad as this is, you get awesome political parties such as:

2. Voting is compulsory. In Australia, you are required by law to cast a ballot.

You are not required to vote, but you must show up at the polling place. In America, voting is by choice and considered a right instead of a duty. Combined with Australia's mild two-party system, this actually seems more democratic since everyone can have a voice and you don't have something stupid like the Electoral College deciding elections. BUT, I'm still new here so maybe I'm just talking through rose-tinted glasses.

In America: "Please come out and vote!" In Australia: "Who are you voting for?"
As a side note, I'm pretty sure the Republicans will take back a lot of seats in the upcoming midterm elections, because much of America is full of ignorant buffoons who want to go back to the party that started the disaster, though the Democrats haven't done much either.

3. Government is more socially liberal.

Julia Gillard, the Prime Minister of Australia (equivalent to the US President) is not only a woman (duh) but an atheist...and a ginger. For all the strides America has made in electing a half-black man, this will NOT happen in the US for at least another 20 years. Woman, quite possibly. Atheist? No way. Ginger? Not a chance.

America has a subset of Christians that are just as bad as Muslim extremists, yet they fail to see how wrong and unchristian-like they are. Anyone running for office that is not Christian is generally condemned by this subset. It really boggles my mind how toxic the political climate in the US has gotten.

4. Health Insurance

I suck in America!
The Australian government provides universal health insurance, called Medicare that is paid for by taxes at a rate of 1.5%, and an additional 1% for those making over $76,000 who do not also have Private Health Insurance (damn it.) Private Health Insurance is available for people who need services that aren't covered by Medicare (not much) or do not want to wait for Medicare queues. Medicare pretty much covers everything, and outside of ER and surgeries there isn't much of a wait (that's where Private Health Insurance comes in.)

This is compared to the US' expensive and archaic system where insurance companies can deny you coverage based on "pre-existing" conditions. Granted, you don't need to wait long for the most part, but you'll be paying for surgeries/emergencies for a long long time.

5. Superannuation vs. Social Security/401k/Roth IRA

I suck in America!
In Australia, retirement is covered by superannuation, which is essentially a national pension plan and compulsory. This is paid for by employers, not employees at a rate of 9% of your salary. For example, I will be making $80,000, but my total package is $87,200.

This is in comparison to US' social security (scheduled to be broke or paid out at roughly 70% of what our generation contributed by the time we retire), 401k's, Roth IRA's, and the few pension plans left in America. Retirement is paid for by employees.

With superannuation compared to 401k, it is similar where you can control where your funds go or have someone handle that for you.

Moving onto things 18 year olds will care about:

1. Drinking age is 18

There isn't much left to be said.
2. It varies in different States, but legal driving age is 17 with many restrictions.

You are allowed to get a learner's permit at 16 after passing a computer based knowledge test. You are then permitted to drive with a supervisor with an unrestricted license at a maximum speed of 80km/h, zero alcohol blood limit, a big 'L' plate on your car, at least 120 hours of road time, and at a minimum of 12 months. WHEW!

After all those requirements you must take a road test. If you pass that road test, you are awarded a Provisional license, Stage 1. You can now drive without a supervisor but only up to 90 km/h, zero alcohol blood limit, and a big 'P' plate on your car for a year. If you are caught speeding your license is immediately suspended for 3 months.

Noobs 2
After all those requirements you must take another computerized test. If you pass this test you are awarded a Provisional license, Stage 2. You can only drive up to 100km/h and zero alcohol blood limit for two years.

Noobs 3
After two years, you're granted a full unrestricted license.

DAMN THAT TAKES A LONG TIME!!! This is compared to the US where you can get a learner's permit at 15, drive with a supervisor for 120 hours in a year and then take a written and driving test at 16 and BAM you have your license.

This is a ridiculously stringent system, but maybe it makes for better drivers? I have no idea...

Lastly, moving onto Diet:

1. High Fructose Corn Syrup is not commonly found in Australia. Neither is American Bacon.

Made with REAL sugar! Like in Mexico!
This is actually pretty amazing, since it's found EVERYWHERE in America. This is definitely for the better, because although food costs more here (corn is subsidized in America,) at least you're eating all natural ingredients. Additionally, portions are smaller...and obesity is increasing in America.

As much as I love bacon, it is not healthy for you. But the search continues...

Random information:
via Newsweek: Best countries to live in the world: Australia comes in 4th, USA comes in 11th
via The Economist Best cities to live in the world: #3 Melbourne, #7 Sydney, #8 Perth, #8 Adelaide
via Mercer Best cities to live in the world: #10 Sydney, #18 Melbourne, #21 Perth, #26 Canberra, #31 Adelaide, #36 Brisbane. First US cities to show up are #31 Honolulu, #32 San Francisco, #37 Boston
via The Global Language Monitor Fashion Capitals of the world: Australia has #7 Sydney, #11 Melbourne. USA has #1 NYC, #5 LA, #8 Miami.


At October 18, 2010 at 2:02 AM , Blogger Vien Nguyen said...

So how does Australia handle immigration in comparison to the us? Seems your journey wasn't so hard

At October 18, 2010 at 8:57 AM , Blogger Howard said...

Pretty similar actually...they grant asylum and they operate on visas. However, Australia is one of the hardest countries to get work visas for.

They also have an issue with illegals, except they're Asian vs. Mexican...or they're people who overstay their visas.

I came over on a work & holiday visa that's for people 18-30 that's valid for a year and let's me work at an employer for up to 6 months. It's mainly for traveling around, but I wanted to get sponsored so I could stay and work longer, and mission accomplished.

Outside of getting sponsored for employment, you can for a skilled independent worker visa after reaching a certain amount of points, because they have a shortage of skilled workers. They're pretty strict about it if you don't reach the points necessary, so generally the easiest way is to get sponsored by an employer or to get can also get sponsored by a State, or if you have direct relatives in Australia they can sponsor you.

There's only around 20 million people in Australia...

At October 19, 2010 at 1:34 AM , Blogger Paul W. said...


Sounds like you are doing fantastic!!! I envy you your drive and willingness to take risks, tho it sure sounds like you never considered this a risk, which also speaks well to your outlook.

Keep us posted on how things are going.

At October 23, 2010 at 2:37 PM , Blogger May said...

dangit, howard. you make it sound so frickin awesome >_< haha. congrats on the job offer, i'm so happy for you!!

At October 28, 2010 at 2:47 PM , Blogger Lillie said...

this was the biggest australian tourism commerical ever.


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