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Does Europe Matter — to Americans?

DOES EUROPE MATTER?

Americans have been blessed with two oceans and a land full of both resources and resourceful people.

AP

These have long separated us from the rest of the world's problems.

One downside of this bounty has been a general lack of knowledge by most of us about what goes on beyond our shores. I once heard a relative refer to London as a state...in the United States.

Sigh.

The last few years have been an awakening. Americans became more reliant on the stock market for their retirements, and we've begun to realize our fortunes rise and fall with the global economy. We may not know where Athens is, but we know the Greeks are a problem for Europe, and Europe is a problem for us.

I spent a day this week talking to people traveling through Burbank Airport and Christmas shopping at the Westfield Topanga Mall in Los Angeles. Even here in La-La Land, most people — though not all — know about Europe's debt crisis, and they know it's not good for anybody.

"We need to care about Europe, because as Europe goes, probably so goes the United States," said one woman.

"I think if people here realize that it's not going to affect us, they're crazy," said a man.

"Absolutely we need to care!" said another. "It's the second biggest economic zone in the world!"

Gosh, when did we stop watching police chases during TV newscasts and start following the Financial Times? Maybe when we found out we're all going to have to work until we're 80...if we still have jobs.

I also reached out on Twitter for thoughts on Europe. The replies were both telling and hilarious.

"Europe is like me; a parental aging baby boomer," tweeted @TheAcsMan. "Love 'em and grateful, but do I really want to be changing adult diapers?"

"I am from Illinois. We don't like people from Indiana," tweets @powerpoints_net. "I never thought the EU would work."

And this from @j2lovesfriday: "I'm not sure if a Euro is worth more than a Greek gyro, but at least we can eat a gyro."

Meantime, Europe may be in trouble, but European accents are not. CNBC's Simon Hobbs continues to provide insightful coverage of the Euro Zone debacle. When Simon says, "It's bad," I believe him. Is it the accent? I thought I'd have a little fun, so I asked people if an English accent makes someone more or less trustworthy, likeable, believable.

Turns out we love British accents. We really love them. Love them so much that, as one woman said, Hugh Grant (supposedly) told her he would just make up words, "because Americans are so stupid they don't know the difference." Yes, people in Los Angeles know Hugh Grant.

Wait. Make words up because we're stupid? Well, that's kinda funny. Those Brits are really funny, even when insulting a people which defeated them and later saved their skins during two world wars (ZING!).

Must be the accent.


Questions? Comments? Funny Stories? Email funnybusiness@cnbc.com

  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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