As an American immigrant to Israel, many Israelis are honestly baffled why I would choose to give up the good life in the good old USA and come to live in this “tough” country. The actual, albeit not rational, answer to that query is that I feel at home here for whatever reasons. Yet, beyond that question is an assumption that everything is better in America. While some things are better, the comparison is far from black and white.
Two issues struck me when I came back from LA this time, the lack of chairs for the supermarket cashiers and poor quality of the freeways in LA. Regardless of the level of the store, the cashiers there were provided no chairs on which to sit. The poor women, in my mind, have to spend their entire shift on their feet except during their allotted breaks. By contrast, even the most modest grocery store in Israel provides a stool or chair for its cashiers. I recall that when I was young, there was a massive boycott of grapes because, among other reasons, the field owners would not provide long handles for the hoes of its workers, thus forcing the fieldworkers bend over the entire work day. I believed that was petty and cheap of the part of the employers. The same appears to be true in regards to supermarket owners.
The other shocking difference was the quality of the freeways. I am aware that the State of California has had budget problems for many years, but it has let its freeways deteriorate drastically. LA freeways are the lifeblood of the metropolis, the almost sole way from travelling from one part to another. Yet, their pavement is so broken up that it often requires both hands held firmly on the wheel to keep the car in the lane. Driving at 100 km/h, that sounds like a recipe for disaster. By contrast, due to the growing problem of accidents in Israel, the country has invested significant funds in improving the roads, even in the periphery. I could literally feel the difference as the taxi took us from the train station to our house at the end of the trip. It was a pleasure to roll down the highway in Israel.
So, the land of milk and honey is better than the land of opportunity at least if you want to drive down the road and have to work at a supermarket.