It was actually my driving instructor who pointed this out to me and thought it was unfair. As a driving instructor he has taught people from all over the world and knows the system well and he brought this to my attention.
Any person with an EU driver's license, or citizens of many Commonwealth countries can swap their license for a British one, no questions asked. This policy has nothing at all to do with the driving standards in these countries. I am sure it is more of a "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" policy. Sadly, the US is not is not involved in the back scratching so Americans can't swap the driver's license for God knows what reason. It certainly isn't anything to do with the standard of driving.
For example, my instructor started teaching a Chinese student who had a valid Chinese driving license but when she came over could barely even move the vehicle because the standards to get a license in China are extremely low. She took a few lessons and then went back to China for a holiday and returned with a Hong Kong license. She swapped her Chinese license for a Hong Kong license, and then from there she was able to swap her Hong Kong license for a UK license. And this girl can barely even move her vehicle. He said there are a couple EU countries where the driving test is simply starting the car, driving down a street, stop the car, here's your license. Yet, even though the standard is so much lower, because they are EU countries its an even swap. I already took a driving test ten years ago and worked really hard to meet the standards of American driving (which aren't that different from here) and now I have to go through the whole process again while people who can hardly drive fly right through and possibly put people in danger.
I am glad that I have had to learn to drive again, the whole manual transmission concept was new to me. I just don't think its fair that people who can do nothing more than start up a vehicle and drive it in a straight line don't have to go through this process. Its dangerous, its unfair and completely arbitrary.
Alright, I will step down from my soapbox and hopefully that is the last time I need to gripe about red tape.
This Week's British TV Review:
60 Minute Makeover
This is a fun little home improvement show. Its kind of like Trading Spaces on steroids. On Trading Spaces they are given two days, and a budget. On 60 Minute Makeover, they have 60 minutes (actually, two 30 minute sessions with a tea break in the middle to let the paint dry) and they decorate 4 rooms in a house. They do all of this with a minute by minute plan for each room, an unlimited budget (with lots of freebies for product placement) and an army of helpers.
If you love home improvement shows, this is right up your alley. Its amazing to see what they can do in 60 minutes. To watch people lay carpet and paint four rooms in 30 minutes is pretty amazing and the organization it takes to pull it all together is pretty impressive as well. I even saw an episode where they tiled a bathroom.
60 Minute Makeover airs on ITV.