Understanding America is big paperback, edited b y Peter H. Schuck and James Q. Wilson, containing a series of essays by scholars--sort of a de Tocqueville for 2008. I'm about 150 pages in, having covered things like "the political system", "bureaucracy" "federalism" the legal and economic systems, and "political culture". A couple things:
A quote: "(On some estimates, as much as half of the measured difference in per capita income between America and the typical western European country would disappear if output were redefined to include meal preparation and similar work done at home.)" What I think this says is Americans eat out a lot more than Europeans. Because home cooking doesn't show in GDP calculations, the picture is skewed. Seems amazing to me.
The other item, also from Benjamin Friedman's chapter on economics, is just prolonged laughter at his description of the advantages of our economic system. He obviously was writing in 2007 or so and I just finished reading Fool's Gold, on the crash.