Updated below and again
If I had a nickel for every time someone sneeringly accused me of wanting to turn the US into a "failed socialist" state like they have in Europe, I'd be rich enough to quit my day job and blog full time. Today the WaPo explodes the myths of European socialism and it's worth a read through. We should be so lucky to fail like this.
Europeans still enjoy universal cradle-to-grave social benefits in many areas. They get quality health care, paid parental leave, affordable childcare, paid sick leave, free or nearly free higher education, generous retirement pensions and quality mass transit. They have an average of five weeks of paid vacation (compared with two for Americans) and a shorter work week. In some European countries, workers put in one full day less per week than Americans do, yet enjoy the same standard of living.
Well doesn't that sound just dismal? Distributed wealth that benefits the entirety of civil society. And what is the secret behind this horrible failure?
Europe is more of a "workfare state" than a welfare state. As one British political analyst said to me recently: "Europe doesn't so much have a welfare society as a comprehensive system of institutions geared toward keeping everyone healthy and working." Properly understood, Europe's economy and social system are two halves of a well-designed "social capitalism" -- an ingenious framework in which the economy finances the social system to support families and employees in an age of globalized capitalism that threatens to turn us all into internationally disposable workers. Europeans' social system contributes to their prosperity, rather than detracting from it, and even the continent's conservative political leaders agree that it is the best way.
Yes, this is the horror that happens when you put people ahead of corporate profits. Worse yet, those poor Europeans have seen the Euro rise in value over the dollar and their foreign investments are showing better returns for international investors. How perfectly awful. We surely wouldn't want that to happen to us -- would we?
Update: All the great analysis of this piece is going on in the comment section. Don't miss it.
Update two: Dr. Taylor didn't find the piece to be especially analytical but Ezra found the stats meaningful and DWT adds, "Cheney has dumped another (estimated) $10 to $25 million in a European bond fund which tells us that he is counting on a steadily weakening dollar." That should tell you something about the Bushenomic plan. I mean if our free market capitalism is doing so all-fired great shouldn't our Vice President be buying American?