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Vacation Abroad or Stay Ignorant at Home

NEW YORK (TheStreet) --- So, you're proud of a work ethic that meant you had unused vacation days last year. You drive a BMW or wear designer labels or maybe you're saving for an apartment deposit.

A Cadillac 2014 commercial applauds this ethic and the benefits of "stuff," like a fancy car, that come from hard work. It highlights the materialistic values of American culture and achievements of famous hard-workers.

But there's a flipside to a culture that applauds scant vacation time. For one thing, it means fewer trips abroad. Around 34% of Americans hold passports according to the U.S. State Department, which means two-thirds of you have no first-hand experience of another country. This compares to 60% of Canadians and 75% of Brits with passports.

The U.S. is the world's largest economy and frequently sticks its nose in international affairs. A population that does not travel is one easily swayed by populist politics -- more vulnerable to "us" and "them" propaganda on other cultures -- more willing to use brute force against complex problems.

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Americans ought to seek an understanding of the world they influence. Instead, you have a reputation for insularity. A large part of this is cultural: many lack curiosity about the world and fear reaching beyond their comfort zone.

"Oh it's so far!" Americans frequently exclaim, when you suggest they travel overseas. Bullshit. I'm Australian. We routinely take 24-plus-hour trips because we are hungry for other experiences. Europe is a hop and a jump for you. I've met men in New York who've never been abroad. In many countries this would be viewed as infantile.

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