Michele Gelfand's 2018 book "Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire Our World." was the basis for their interview with her on Freakonomics Radio.

The U.S. Is Just Different — So Let’s Stop Pretending We’re Not | Freakonomics-Radio

They start off saying, " We’ve interviewed dozens of academic researchers about lowering healthcare costs or improving access to childcare or building smarter infrastructure or creating a more equitable economy. And so often, they’ll just point at some other country on the map. They’ll say, “The Scandinavians have great childcare and family-leave policies. ” Or they’ll say, “China has built more high-speed rail in the past few years than the U.S. has even thought about.” Why can’t the U.S. just borrow these Scandinavian and Chinese and German ideas and slap them on top of the American way of doing things?"

They never specifically answer the question, but provide a framework for understanding some of these things that have bugged me for a long time.

Gelfand classificies the US as a loose culture. She says it's great for innovation but not for some other things.

My theory is that because we are a nation of immigrants we have people with an independent genetic makeup, because you had to have an independent streak to leave the place where your people/tribe who had been together for thousands of years. Gelfand may have touched on that.