One thing that the rest of the world pretty much accepts as a given about the USA is its passionate affair with the motor vehicle. We know that any serious attempt to tackle climate change will involve prying the Americans away from their cars which will be no easy task. Here the car is more than a simple means of getting from one place to another - it is a statement of identity, a rite of passage and a retreat from the troubles of the world.
Therefore it is a shock to actually arrive here and find out that whilst there may certainly be passion in the relationship with the car, there is not fidelity. No, there is something else Americans love even more - low taxes.
This discrepancy between their two passions becomes clear when first confronted by American roads. I thought those of my former country were in a fairly bad state of repair until I beheld the horror that is the American road. All those songs and movies which exalted the joy of foot on the gas peddle zooming along the open road, somehow neglected to mention swerving to avoid the gaping cracks in the road surface which would not appear out of place in a disaster movie depicting the end of the world, or indeed the massive craters which could themselves easily pass for a lunar landscape.
Sensing my incredulity on first confrontation with the pathway to the abyss, my American companion explained that they desired to pay the minimum possible in taxes which left very little money spare for projects like maintaining the roads. Back in my original country a road in this state would have been immediately closed for attention but here it was unlikely to raise any concerns until at least two vehicles vanished into it never to be seen again