The Boycott America Challenge

Alternate Title: My Ugly American Rant Part 2

My first Ugly American Rant focused on America’s influence via its public sector. Our dominating influence comes less from government and more from industry. Don’t think so? Put your money where your mouth is and see if you can live without us.

I’d been working on this idea for years but never published it. Then I came across this passage in Lebanese author Nassim Nicholas Taleb‘s Black Swan (highly recommended book, spawned black swan theory):

Whenever you hear a snotty (and frustrated) European middlebrow presenting his stereotypes about Americans, he will often describe them as “uncultured,” “unintellectual,” and “poor in math” because, unlike his peers, Americans are not into equation drills and the constructions middlebrows call “high culture” – like knowledge of Goethe’s inspirational (and central) trip o Italy, or familiarity with the Delft school of painting. Yet the person making these statements is likely to be addicted to his iPod, wear blue jeans, and use Microsoft Word to jot down his “cultural” statements on his PC, with some Google searches here and there interrupting his composition. Well, it so happens that America is currently far, far more creative than these nations of museumgoers and equation solvers. It is also far more tolerant of bottom-up tinkering and undirected trial and error. And globalization has allowed the United States to specialize in the creative aspect of things, the production of concepts and ideas, that is, the scalable part of the products, and, increasingly, by exporting jobs, separate the less scalable components and assign them to those happy to be paid by the hour.

Taleb published Black Swan in 2007, beating me by four years dammit.

But the point still stands. What would you dear anti-Americanists do without us? What would your life be like? Give it a shot.

I’m not going to make it so difficult that you can’t listen to the music genres of rock and roll, hip hop, jazz, or blues. The Brits have thoroughly beaten us at our own game of rock and roll. But no American artists – which would be especially difficult if you’re a fan of hip hop.

I’m the last person to argue for Hollywood movies. I watch less than one movie a month, and 90% of the shit at your local cinema loses my attention within 20 minutes. Unfortunately most of you love Transformers and Avatar. You’re going to have to get some high culture by watching foreign films. And for television you’re going to have to get by on soccer, British news and comedy, and your local productions including culturally and language-adjusted clones of American shows. ¡No se permite Los Simpson!

Entertainment’s not what’s going to trip you up. I shouldn’t have started there. I should’ve scored the first round knockout with technology. That’s right, no Google. No Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, or Yahoo. You have to change your email address if it’s Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, or AOL. Hardware will be a little easier, but no Apple (I bet 1,000,000 pesos most anti-American snobs have Macs and iPhones), Microsoft, Dell, HP. You can’t use products from any of the Silicon Valley companies that have made the most impact on how we live our lives today.

You can still have internet and computers. But you’ll have to use a Toshiba or Acer. And your operating system won’t be Windows. You gotta use Linux on your Toshiba. That’s not so bad actually, Linux is the world’s best operating system. But you know your lazy ass don’t want to learn how to use it!

Once you’ve installed Linux on your Acer, and learned how to use it, you’re going to need a web browser. Unfortunately that browser won’t be Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome, or Safari. It’ll be Opera. To search the web,  you can’t use Google, Yahoo, or Bing. Baidu is the most popular search engine after those three. Do a search on that piece of shit for “expat chronicles” – nothing! I don’t know what you’re going to use. I don’t know what social networking site you’re going to use either, but I know it won’t be Facebook, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn, Orkut, MySpace, hi5, Flickr, Bebo, or CouchSurfing. I don’t know what’s left. Maybe easier to drop social networking.

If you’re web savvy enough to be social bookmarking, you can’t use Digg, Delicious, or reddit. Fortunately you’ll have a worthy substitute in Canadian-born StumbleUpon, which should please the most fervent anti-Americans I’ve ever met – CANADIANS. If you have a website, you can’t publish it with content management systems WordPress or Blogger. But you can use Japanese-owned (although American-authored) Movable Type or the Belgian Drupal (ironically the CMS for It should be refreshing to learn that, although recently acquired by Microsoft, Skype was invented by genius Swedish innovator Niklas Zennström.

You’ve realized you can’t boycott America. The country dominates the internet. It’s so one-sided, why don’t you do me a favor and let me know when somebody outside the United States develops some internet shit that matters.

I won’t claim all denim jeans for the boycott. Only American clothing brands aren’t allowed, which you’d probably be better dressed without. But for me, I’d have to replace most of my wardrobe and even get a new style if I weren’t allowed Levi’s, Nike, or Converse (true powerlifter shoes).

As in denim, I won’t claim cheeseburgers and french fries. But you sure as hell can’t eat at McDonald’s or drink Coca-Cola. I don’t consume either, but don’t front because you know there’s a profitable McDonald’s in your town. Your countrymen are lining up to pay for that shit. I can’t even think of a non-American restaurant with presences all over the world. Can you?

You’ve already quit trying. It’s OK. But here’s some more food for thought.

In a 2011 study on the world’s most valuable brands, those highest recognized, 9 of the top 10 were American. You may talk a big game about the end of the United States, but when you vote with your dollar you choose American products again and again and again. The top 10 from the Brandz study:

  1. Apple
  2. Google
  3. IBM
  4. McDonald’s
  5. Microsoft
  6. Coca-Cola
  7. AT&T
  8. Marlboro
  9. China Mobile
  10. General Electric

Many people think China’s taking over the world. They’ve certainly come up, but they’re largely a one-trick pony. They make cheap shit. Boycotting China would be the next most difficult country to boycott, but it wouldn’t be difficult. If you live in a developed country, you’d just have to look at the labels for the stuff you buy at WalMart or whichever store sells cheap shit and, instead of buying the one Made in China, buy the one made in the Southeast Asian country. If you live an a developing country, you just buy the locally-made cheap shit.

Not until China can move past making cheap shit and being the world’s factory floor will they be influencing the world as much as the States. Their big brands like Baidu and that Chinese FB knockoff are only big because (A) their own market’s so big and (B) they face little competition from America and Europe because of (1) the language and (2) willingness to comply with Chinese censorship and other Communist Party of China government bullshit.

They don’t have to develop anything. They just copy what the West puts out and either (A) do it cheaper or (B) translate it to Mandarin. I know many telecommunications professionals in Bogota who complain about Chinese company Huawei. They do zero R&D, but after Ericsson or Siemens (European innovators, for the record) or whoever develop a new technology like 4G equipment, Huawei duplicates the technology and undercuts price. Chinese industry doesn’t lead, it follows.

I only heard about that Chinese Facebook site because a friend in China sent me a screenshot of this thread. I couldn’t have made that up, HILARIOUS! (the comment in English)

I will give China props for taking more gold medals in the last Olympics, although they were the home team and they didn’t get the most total medals. I also must award props if I wrote three paragraphs on them.

Disagreeing comments welcome as always. But if you’re gonna cry “poor research” then you better back it up with substance and a link to a credible source.

Support what Expat Chronicles is all about. Leave a tip to keep the laughs coming (and the news, insight and other stuff too).



  1. Yo Colin,

    You really enjoy rubbing peoples noses in shit don’t you?

    I hope you know the anti-PC shit will get you sent to hell someday… 🙂



  2. What about you Colin? What will be your contribution? A snarky blog?

    Although I wish otherwise, my American ass doesn’t seem to be conjuring up any more Googles or Coca Colas.

    p.s.: All Chinese industries are ridiculously fragmented except for those heavily protected by the government, such as telecommunications. China Mobile would be nothing without it. Google was way ahead of Baidu until the company was kicked out of the country. Even (from the photo) is losing its 1/4 market share to QQ Zone and a few others. Facebook, of course, is censored. In other words, most Chinese companies aren’t worth mentioning.


  3. All America-hating is rooted in jealousy.

    Its the wimpy little kids who got their ass kicked by the bully on the playground. Its the have-nots complaining about the haves.

    Further, liberal American media, and liberal world-wide media, encourages America-hating, and misinforms extensively, including lying by omission. Never praise, always scorn.

    Let’s not forget other shit America invented like CARS- the internal combustion engine.

    How about FLIGHT??? Yep. Us again.

    Fiber-optics? Yeah… that’d be America. Space travel?? Satellites??

    Most of the pissant countries out there are too busy killing each other and ripping each other off to get much done. If America ever gets undone, all the haters will miss it terribly, and suffer for it. Yeah, the USA made them its bitch and they complain about submitting to a greater power… but they forget the way that Power provides, protects, feeds and serves them.

    The boycotters that want to hate American Imperialism should at least have the guts to tip their cap and recognize.


  4. The thing I like is this. With the new oil / NG drilling technology, guess what? In less than ten years we will NOT need to buy oil from the assholes in Russia and the Mideast. That in combination with some very modest trade reforms means that we are, again, the economic 800 lb gorilla. Postitive trade balance, and making money hand over fist. It will be fun watching peoples heads burst…



  5. hope my resonse is mostly on-topic since i skimmed the article as it was interfering with my masturbation time

    you cant boycott america because if you want oil for your country, you’ve got to buy it in american dollars cause that’s what opec takes. the rest the post is rubbish, america has boycotted itself those companies don’t even manufacture in the states, great minds come from silicon valley (where i am) because it’s been part of the culture ever since my grandma was employed by hewlett packard when they were working out of their garage in palo alto; but california is polarized and rightfully so, we produce the best music and minds in the states. we should not even be referred to in conjunction with the rest the u.s. even in the great depression real estate prices were rising and jobs were not hard to find in the bay area.

    you can boycott the u.s. you just cant boycott california, new york, english or the dollar or mexican food.

    ha ha, jk love you, giving you hard time brother – hope your doing good, but the u.s. economy is california.


  6. I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment: I’m American and live in England, and there are times when I have to school people on their anti-American biases.

    One correction though: American Idol isn’t really an American creation. It’s based on the British show, Pop Idol (which was borne out of Popstars, another British show). You can blame Simon Fuller, who also gets the blame for forming the Spice Girls.


  7. fuck, when is Colin going to go back to blogging about whores? ok, you can’t boycott america, but why? for starters latin americas occupation by spain created a latin america built to serve spain. the warring factions in their quests for individual fiefdoms is what turned the inca empire into dozens of countries, each competing with eachother and each designed to take resources from the land and enlarge the coffers of spain. north america however was unified in its quest for independence, they had a never ending supply of labor, the land was given freely to anyone willing to settle it. and the resources were kept “in-house”.

    throw in henry morgan and the pirates of the caribes, all english, not all american but all completely pillaging the trade-lines between spain and latin america. heres another thing, north america did have civilizations that were abandoned prior to english arrival, but due to diseased pigs from the spanish further south these civilizations were broken up making the land much easier to conquer than the aztecs and the incas. throw in the fact that we would have never heard of martin luther if henry the 8th hadnt needed a divorce, which would have made north america the property of the pope; which probably would have created a north-latin america,

    with all these factors the reality is that they never even had a chance to become what north america became, we, yes we do, still live in the shadows of these trees planted long before us; just as those of us further south still live under the shadows of those trees planted before them.

    the u.s. dollar is one such shadow, with only 10% of it being backed-up and every country in the world needing it to engage in national trade, we’ve got the only printing press. but make no mistake, american oil companies now contrl iraqs oil at the expense of the american taxpayer and the iraqi life, and oil is still 4 bucks a gallon in cali. quite distant from the approach taken 200 years ago. if the same approach were used when the last commanches were turning themselvews in in 1850, their land wouldn’t have been given to the settlers, the settlers would have become indentured servants. the things that made america great for americans are gone.


  8. Steve, California’s a great state. I lived in the greater Los Angeles area for a year. And Silicon Valley is what delivers the Boycott America Challenge death blow. But only two of those top ten brands are Californian (the top two). 7 are from outside of California, and 4 of those 7 are from what would be considered “the Heartland,” or what you may call “the flyover:” McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, AT&T, and Marlboro.

    And don’t forget WalMart from the shittiest state in the union 🙂


  9. German Companies that come to mind:

    – Mercedes Benz
    – BMW
    – Heckler Koch
    – Walther
    – Sig Sauer
    – Siemens
    – Bayer
    – BASF

    automotive, chemistry, electronics, pistols, rifles


    1. Bayer and BASF were great at producing Zyklon-B for the death camps. They, plus, VW, Mercedes, BMW, & others at taking advantage of slave labor supplied by nerdy friends 1941-45.


  10. the most fervent anti-Americans I’ve ever met (CANADIANS!).

    this is the most ridiculous statement you have ever made on this blog dude. Have you ever visited Canada? We might be, as a majority, anti “far right nut case” but we are by far “anti American.” Don’t know who you have been hanging out with but i can assure you the vast majority of Canadians consider Americans the closest thing to brothers that there is.


  11. Good article, colin – ironically, the latino moaning about yanqui hegemony reminds of the california / arizona rants about the, mainly mexican, illegals. They bitch about them, but would not be easily able to exist without them staffing their restaurants, hospitals, landscaping, construction firms, etc. Never mind the fact that they’d be paying at least double for their local vegetables – that is if they could find any gueros to do that back-breaking labor.

    Keep it up.


  12. I don’t get it …. Why do you care what other people think! I’m not particularly fond of US interference with the rest of the world but it stops there, I have great friends who are from the US and I also know a couple of arseholes from the US …. same holds for UK, France, etc. What does bother me is defensive bragging and boasting, this article seems to fall under that category.

    We all belong to the earth, it is foolish to think that where your ancestors decided to call home many many years ago is going to make you a better or worse person. You never hear about Colombian Jaguars bitching about how they saved the Peruvian Jaguar’s ass when the conquistadors were around!

    P.s. Great great blog, last few posts not that enjoyable.


  13. Ed, that’s a great point. I shouldn’t care.

    But understand the anti-American shit is non-stop and I rarely argue. I’d just heard enough recently and decided to publish a series stating my opinions. Don’t worry, I’ve moved on 🙂


  14. 1) Canadians ARE very anti-American… which is in fact ridiculous because Canada can’t even be bothered to have a standing military… they stop at nothing to bash the US and usually do it with straight-up wrong information…

    2) I’m not happy about the fact that the US is going backwards, but it really is…. and the problems it has are very deep and wide and NOTHING is being done about them. I think the idea of a world dominated by China is absolutely HORRIBLE… but the US is doing nothing to change it… and you’re right, it’s all done by dint of coporate espionage, but once again NOTHING is being done to stop it!!!

    3) As for music, anybody anywhere around the world can make ANY kind of music.. there’s a real incredible underground hip hop scene here and in Medellin and in many of the world’s cities now…. as good as the REAL ORIGINAL hip hop that came from the Bronx!! Really like you said the Brits dominate music worldwide, much more so than the Americans… that’s a topic for discussion a whole night over beers though….


  15. why does canada need an army?

    I’ll answer that question.
    Canada needs an army so that we can carry out peace keeping and disaster aid roles in all of the countries that the US has meddled in and completely fucked up.
    Terrorists don’t fly planes into our buildings because we don’t try to rule the rest of the planet. We try to do business with the rest of the world, even you American morons.
    The next time you assholes start whining about the Tar Sands in Alberta,(Alberta is in Canada, you know, that country to the north that you know so little about), we should shut off the oil pipelines that supply you with 1.4 million barrels of oil a day. That will give you crybabies something real to piss and moan about.

    How’s that 15+ trillion dollar debt working out for you?
    If you want more oil, you can pay for it in gold because your currency is getting more and more worthless by the minute.


  16. why does canada need an army?

    The US economy is a train wreck waiting to happen.
    When it does finally pull an epic Greece repeat, Canada will shut off all the oil and natural gas pipelines going into the US. This will trigger the biggest crybaby American tantrum the world has ever seen. The US will respond by invading Canada. We will sit back and watch your war machines come to a frozen halt. Then the Canadian military will simply push the trash back across the 49th parallel where it belongs.


  17. Harold,

    You’re right in that America’s debt to GDP ratio is similar to Greece’s, worse by some measures. The difference is that Greece is a poxy country that produces little. You and I have both probably boycotted Greece for years UNINTENTIONALLY.

    The US, however, remains the most productive country in the world and will be for the forseeable future. No other country creates innovations like America. Otherwise you’d be able to comply with the boycott challenge above. That’s why there’s still investor confidence, although shrinking.

    Still, I agree the US gov’t has serious fiscal problems. Hopefully it won’t hold back our dominant industry.


  18. Does the US Congress have any control over the executive branches anymore?
    Or is Congress like the Queen is to Canada. We acknowledge her existence and that’s about it. The best view of the ocean Canada has ever had was the back end of the last British ship heading back to England, with the Newfies throwing limes at them.
    And what is up with the CIA. Are the lunatics in charge of the asylum or what? Are they accountable to any branch of the US government?

    Canadians generally don’t hate the American people. We just wish you guys would reign in your out of control Government and stop trying to rule the world. We feel the repercussions of that here in Canada because we are grouped together as “The West”.

    And tell your Government to stop poking Iran. Those people were wigged out even before the US installed The Shaw. No wonder they want to nuke you. Like it or not, the US did invent nuclear weapons and every country on the planet has a right to develop them. Just like every country on the planet has a right to defend themselves.

    Canada will give the US a good deal on Quebec. We have been waiting for them to separate for years but it just isn’t happening. I for one am getting tired of Le wah le separate. They have lots of natural resources. Oil, coal, natural gas, timber. You can have Quebec, really cheap…


  19. Okay. The “Boycott America” argument is somewhat akin to getting someone hooked on heroine and then telling them ‘look at how much you use heroine! YOU CANT LIVE WITHOUT IT!’

    America’s dominance in the private sector, I believe, is mainly do to with a few things.

    One, the cultural aspect.

    America is the largest English speaking country, and through effort and a lot of luck has become the worlds preeminent cultural exporter of many facets (music, language, TV, movies, print media, the internet and general English modes of thinking and speaking).

    It has almost nothing to do with product superiority. Rather, aggressive business/marketing tactics aimed to do exactly what just happened, create world dominance of American private businesses.

    It is evidence of a very capable (business class) group of wealthy Americans who want everyone to depend on their stuff.

    This is a testament to their skill and ability, NOT our actual dependance on American anything.


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