Maybe you should switch banks. I can't speak for the UK, but it never ceases to astound me how many people whine about banking in the United States when there are thousands of small community banks you could be doing business with. It's a tough industry and the little guys are facing setbacks on a daily basis, but they're still there if people are willing to look for and do business with them.
In the day and age of remote deposit there's no reason to do business with a large national bank. I get waived ATM fees worldwide, no account fees of any sort, and competitive loan and deposit rates, all from a little regional bank that you've probably never heard of unless you're from my small hometown.
For the life of me I don't understand why Chase, Capital One, or Bank of America have any retail customers at all. They bend people over on fees, structure your transactions to obtain yet more fees, and generally do all sorts of nefarious things while offering no real advantage over their smaller competitors.
You're implying that people of the same ethnicity find it easier to agree politically. Reality suggests that's far from the truth. The Finns fought a pretty nasty Civil War, even by Civil War standards, within living memory.
The reason the Finnish system works on consensus has to do with the structure of their political system and the rules in their Parliament. I suggest reading Finland: Myth and Reality; it's a bit dated, most of the foreign policy stuff lost relevance after the Cold War ended, but the domestic discussions are still applicable.
Finland has never had a "homogeneous" culture; it only appears that they do from the outside. Read the history of the Swedish speaking minority or of their civil war sometime when you're bored. The concept of Finland as a nation-state didn't even exist until the late 1800s and probably would never have evolved if the Russians had been a little bit more tactful. That's without even getting into the outside pressures and obstacles that they had to overcome.
What they have is trust in their institutions, a willingness to admit mistakes and try something new, and a political system that operates on consensus rather than a 50%+1 majority trying to ram its agenda down the throats of the opposition.
That may be a valid point, but it's worth mentioning that the welfare state doesn't have to be run at the national level. Much of Kela is run and funded by municipalities, not the national Government. Finland leads the world in education yet has no standardized tests or national curriculum mandates. Intuitive at the local level is encouraged, not stifled.
Of course it still won't happen here, even if we got over our love affair with top-down control. Our mistrust of institutions doesn't begin or end with the Federal Government. I do find these conversations interesting though; people on the American left talk a big game about how awesome the Nordic countries are but very few of them actually know anything about them. Finland has no concept of tuition -- even foreigners can go study there for free (with only one barrier to entry, it's called "Finnish") -- but they also have universal conscription.
Think there are many people on the American left that would support universal conscription? Not bloody likely. Which is too bad, because it would actually make interventionism less likely, not more. Anyhow, I digress.....
he nordic countries and canada have more government than us and far less corruption. the people are happier, more socially mobile, and pay far less for healthcare and education
The important difference there is that the people of the Nordic countries (at least Sweden and Finland, where I visited and lived) still have faith in their institutions. Americans haven't had faith in our institutions since Watergate. It's not just the Government either; in increasing numbers Americans don't trust business, academia, religion, or any other reasonably sized institution.
The reasons for this are varied -- you could write an entire thesis on the subject -- but at the end of the day it's the reality of the situation, and a Nordic style welfare state is a non-starter in the United States.
New Hampshire gives you the option to have the photo deleted after they print the license. Or at least they used to.
If you're at Wal-Mart the trick is to keep a morbidly obese person between you and the cameras at all times. This is not as difficult as it sounds.
It's not like the private companies that they replaced were any better. A buddy of mine is the Operations Manager for our little regional airport; in the pre 9/11 days he watched the private outfit miss firearms as they scrolled past on the x-ray machine. In the post 9/11 days it's still a joke; he can get me into the secured area with a simple, "He's with me." statement to the TSA flunkies. Not even a metal detector. That's the gaping hole in airport security, incidentally, insiders. Just buy one off or blackmail them and you're set to do whatever nefarious deed you have in mind. Once you're through the secured area at one airport you're into all of them.
The bigger problem is that our body politic is incapable of having an adult conversation about risk. We live in a society that won't let kids use playgrounds where they might scrape a knee. Good luck having a conversation about the proper balance between security and liberty in that environment.
You can claim that there is cartel parasitism in the lack of choices for insurance
You can claim that but it would be bogus. The Insurance Agency that I work for writes auto policies with 11 different carriers. I can name another five or six direct carriers (i.e., those that don't use independent agents) off the top of my head that are available where I live. Auto insurance is one of the most competitive marketplaces out there, with genuine differences in price between providers, and the provider that's best for Person A may be the most expensive for Person B, depending on their individual circumstances.
I was replying to this: There is nothing illegal about paying blackmailers
Then he should have told the FBI the truth when they asked what the money was for. Or simply said, "I choose not to give a statement." Lying to the Feds is beyond fucking stupid. That's their "gotcha" card and it baffles me that so many seemingly intelligent people fall into such an easily avoidable trap.
There's a right to remain silent. I suggest using it....
Umm, no. CATV stands for Community Antenna TeleVision; it evolved because people in areas without OTA reception (i.e., valleys) put up a shared antenna to receive OTA signals.