Service: A Homecoming Lament

A Homecoming Lament

When TIME Correspondent Edwin M. Reingold moved to the magazine's Los Angeles bureau last September after an eight-year assignment as Tokyo bureau chief, he was stunned by what he perceived as a sharp decline in American service during his absence from the U.S. His reflections:

To a returning American grown accustomed to the civility and efficiency of modern Japan, the U.S. seems to have become a quagmire of bureaucracy, ineptitude, mean spirit and lackadaisy. In Los Angeles, New York, Miami and other cities, the repatriate is appalled and depressed by the lack of efficiency and of simple courtesy and caring.

The...