Join 3,433 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


EU vs USA
June 20, 2004 10:33 AM   Subscribe

Europe versus America (PDF) is a report by a Swedish public policy institute comparing the two economies, concluding that "If the European Union were a state in the USA it would belong to the poorest group of states." The WSJ has read the report, and highlights that "Most Americans have a standard of living which the majority of Europeans will never come anywhere near [...]. in the U.S. a large 45.9% of the 'poor' own their homes, 72.8% have a car and almost 77% have air conditioning, which remains a luxury in most of Western Europe. The average living space for poor American households is 1,200 square feet. In Europe, the average space for all households, not just the poor, is 1,000 square feet.". With a looming demographic crisis in Europe to boot, will the EU be able to implement much-needed reforms to save their welfare-state system before it is too late?
posted by dagny (118 comments total)

 
Considering these statistics, it would be interesting to know the importance of space and climate.

For instance, if a nation is geographically small and, consequently, the populous lives in small houses, does this mean such a nation has a low standard of living?

If a nation lives in a cold environment and, consequently, the populous has little desire to have air conditioning, then does this mean such a nation has a low standard of living?

Moreover, what if a person lives in community where work, education, and amenities are a short walk away? What need would such a person have with a vehicle? Does this necessarily mean such a person has a low standard of living if he or she is not interested in a vehicle?
posted by quam at 10:39 AM on June 20, 2004


This is a well-written and thought out report. I would encourage you to read the entire report and not just glance at the headlines.
posted by davebarnes at 10:39 AM on June 20, 2004


quam-- many of your questions would be answered by reading the linked study.
posted by trharlan at 10:44 AM on June 20, 2004


I really like the big Reagan photo in the front page of this "Think Tank of Swedish Enterprise" site. their link to the unofficial PJ O'Rourke Fan Page is cool, as well

perception of quality of life is subjective, to a certain extent. and it is certainly related to culture. but "standard of living" stats are tricky: you can use air conditioning and average living space -- the USA is going to win obviously

or, you can use number of cases of personal bankruptcy (half of them related to health care expenses one cannot afford) and percentage of population living in, say, trailers -- then, the USA is definitely not going to win if you pit Her against Europe

Europe's unemployment is indeed higher, but what about those 2 million Americans happily residing in jail? are we counting them or not? of course not. but what about them, for example.

and what about that tricky Gini index of income inequality?
more than half of the entire American wealth is concentrated in the hands of 1% of the population.
America is the most unequal society in the industrialised West, after all

what about urban crime stats? metal detectors in schools? quality of public education? free health care?
most 15-State Europeans (ie, pre-enlargement) would be in many respects quite appalled to join the USA, actually, in terms of... well, even standard of living

what about intagibles like, say, living in a country most hated by billions of foreigners (a few thousands of whom seem pretty happy to blow themselves up to prove their political point? or, say, to behead an American?). they're really not intangibles anymore

bah.
I'm leafing through the study, but keep in mind that one of the guys behind is the president of the Swedish Taxpayers Association -- which is basically as unbiased as Tom DeLay

anyway:

The G7/G8 group of the world's rich nations met in Denver in 1997 and was subjected to a diet of what the "Financial Times" called "effusive self-praise" from Clinton. The paper quoted one European as saying "they keep telling us how successful their system is. Then they remind us not to stray too far from our hotel at night."

for some, the freedom to stray a little bit farther from their hotels is an interesting stat, as well, when it comes to preceived quality of life
posted by matteo at 11:20 AM on June 20, 2004


number of times the word "consumption" appears in 49 pages: 32
number of times the word "debt" appears in 49 pages: 0
posted by Armitage Shanks at 11:31 AM on June 20, 2004


Dear sweet Jesus, dagny, the basic premises of this report have been debunked, and debunked with extreme prejudice. Nearly two years ago, in fact.

The big reason? It ranks criteria that, from a US perspective seem vital as indicators of 'standard of living'. In fact, they don't mean shit. And they're deliberately deceptive in comparing the US and Europe, because they pick on the things that the American system turns into necessities.

in the U.S. a large 45.9% of the 'poor' own their homes, 72.8% have a car and almost 77% have air conditioning, which remains a luxury in most of Western Europe.

See, misleading indicators lead to fallacious premises in comparative analysis.

1. Home-ownership is not necessarily an indicator of a good standard of living, as anyone ever saddled with negative equity or having to work like a bastard to pay the mortgage knows. Continental Europe simply does not have a culture of wide-spread home ownership; Scandinavia, in particular, has a large rental sector because it means that people's lives are less tied up with the value of their homes and the commitment that one must make to home-ownership. A home is of functional value (ever wondered why IKEA got so popular), not a financial instrument; and there are sufficiently adequate public services to make renting beneficial in many cases.

In fact, a market skewed towards home ownership rather than rental can often decrease standards of living, as anyone living and working in London can attest.

2. In the US, outside of a few cities, not having a car is most definitely a sign of poverty, because the alternatives are so poor. In Europe, because of geography and public transport infrastructure, not having a car can actually be associated with a higher quality of life. That is, you can cycle to work, or take the train/tram/bus, rather than sitting in traffic for an hour every morning and evening.

3. Air-conditioning? As a sign of why the US rules and Europe drools? In Sweden? What. The. Fuck?

Air-conditioning is considered a high-value item in the US because it made it possible for large numbers of people to live and work in large areas of the country. (You know, like the ones where they relied upon slaves for so long...?) Suggesting that 'ooh, it's a luxury to those Europeans'? Well, I've spent time even in the warmer parts of Europe, and it doesn't really matter. Houses have long been built in those parts of the world to compensate for the heat in ways that don't involve nasty, germ-recirculating air conditioners.

And on the general point, per capita GDP is only important if your economy is optimised for per capita GDP, rather than, say, keeping people happy.

Now, if we're going to use selective indicators and draw fallacious conclusions, we could say that Western Europe has not that many murders and not much gun crime, which remains a luxury throughout the US.

Gah. What a pile of steaming horseshit. Timbro is the Swedish version of the Heritage Foundation or the AEI, and it shows. What's most bizarre is that moronic ideologues continue to repeat the same misleading, skewed indicators as if they're somehow meaningful. But, as we know, repeat a lie often enough and people start believing it.
posted by riviera at 11:45 AM on June 20, 2004


Europe's unemployment is indeed higher, but what about those 2 million Americans happily residing in jail? are we counting them or not? of course not. but what about them, for example.

Uhh, ok. 2 million is less than 1% of American population. So ok if we add that 1% to the 5.6% of unemployment, it still comes NO WHERE NEAR the 10% or so that France and Germany experiences.

what about that tricky Gini index of income inequality?
more than half of the entire American wealth is concentrated in the hands of 1% of the population.


bah, matteo misses the point again. The point is, even though income inequality is bad in America, the poorest Americans are still richer than the average Europeans. This is actually a predicted outcome of capitalism.

Is it just me, or this matteo dude has no sense of scale?
posted by VeGiTo at 11:48 AM on June 20, 2004


Car ownership in Europe seemed comparable to the US, with the exception of the UK, which gave an unbelievable rate of ownership of 3 cars per 100 population (vs. 52 per 100 for the US). That seems inconceivable to me, particularly with respect to the UK, one of the more prosperous EU countries. Can anyone confirm this? Is the UK so urbanized that hardly anyone needs a car?

Other steaming piles of crap:

Average US home space: 1800 sq. ft.
Average EU home space: 1000 sq. ft.
US population: 300 million
EU population: 455 million (including newly admitted states)
US Size: 3,537,441 square miles
EU Size: 1,425,000 square miles (including newly admitted states)

Big surprise... The EU, with more people and less land, houses its citizens in smaller homes than the US, which has fewer people and more land.
posted by deanc at 11:54 AM on June 20, 2004


The crime rate in the United States is high? Living in NYC, I find that hard to swallow. I felt much more scared in Paris.

I also think the US gets a bum rap given that we welcome a lot more of the world's poor than Europe, and have, for decades. So it figures that we would have higher crime and poverty rates.
posted by ParisParamus at 11:55 AM on June 20, 2004


"Pile of steaming horseshit"? Way to appear sensible. I'm sure you were riled up, and that's fair, but I'm sure you would agree -- as people on both sides of the aisle, in my experience, do -- that the European economies do lag behind the US, and that there are signs of stagnation in the EU whereas the US is seeing relatively strong growth. But sure, keep up the hyperbole all you like. I'm just glad I'm retiring with my own pension account in the US, and not within the public system in Europe.
posted by dagny at 11:56 AM on June 20, 2004


The FPP is comparing apples to oranges: For example, Americans have larger houses because they live further away from the city center, therefore real estate is cheap. This is an indirect federal subsidy via the Interstate Highway system: there are more sparsely-built countries out there (Canada, Australia) that are also less suburbanized, because of the lack of highway infrastructure.

Other cultures spend their disposable income on different things and have different anxieties: if you dig up enough in The Economist website you will find studies on Purchase Price Parity, which paints quite a different picture, or studies on comparing US-EU productivity and finally comparisons of the real cost of living. These articles paint a different picture: the US is still ahead, but not by that much and EU producctivity and quality of living may indeed be higher --and the source is The Economist...

(If you are in a hurry, the last link is probably the best summary)
posted by costas at 11:57 AM on June 20, 2004 [1 favorite]


Sorry, just realized: I am an Economist subscriber; if some of these links are not available publicly, lemme know and I will c&p the important points.
posted by costas at 11:59 AM on June 20, 2004


Please, please, please can we ban "averages" from anything that claims to be an accurate statistical analysis? There is nothing worse than the lie of the average.

As matteo points out the income distribution in the US is the most unequal of the industrialized West. The US undoubtedly has more of the richest people in the world, but does not mean that the average citizen is has more wealth than the rest of the world. However this report concentrates on the average income rather than the average individual.

Even looking at the graph (p.19) that shows the connection between GDP and income between the first and third quartile shows that in the US your going to reap far more benefits of a increased GDP if your in a higher percentile.

This report also doesn't mention the pervasiveness of credit in the US, and the debt burden of the average citizen (again not the average debt burden). An interesting question to me is, how many TVs and DVD players do Americans actually own versus how many we've gotten on credit.
posted by betaray at 12:04 PM on June 20, 2004


Worse still, many European politicians and opinion-formers seem totally unaware of the lagging performance of the EU economies and that a few percentage units lower growth will affect their welfare in comparison with other economies.

Such is the background to this study on the differences in growth and welfare between Europe and the US. Too many politicians, policy-makers, and voters are continuing their long vacation from reality.


And that is reinforced by what we see here in Metafilter. All I see is denial of some very obvious problems in the EU system, and attempts to spin all its problems in a positive way.

Europe will never regain is stature if it doesn't realize its own problems. The welfare system is in jeopardy, their economy is stagnant, and their population is aging. But yet all economic and immgration reforms are still more talk no action.

This head-in-sand attitude of Europeans is the main recent why I think the older parts of EU will never dig themselves out of the hole.

posted by VeGiTo at 12:04 PM on June 20, 2004


the poorest Americans are still richer than the average Europeans
No they aren't.
posted by seanyboy at 12:06 PM on June 20, 2004


The problem with Europe is that personal economic freedom is too supressed by the state. Failure isn't allowed to happen as much as it should, and success is supressed. The result is that Europe is, and has been, for decades, mediocre. And the effect is somewhat obscured by the United States' successes which, in effect subsidize and moderate Europe's mediocrity.

How long can this continue? Unclear.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:08 PM on June 20, 2004


Europe will never regain is stature if it doesn't realize its own problems. The welfare system is in jeopardy, their economy is stagnant, and their population is aging. But yet all economic and immgration reforms are still more talk no action.

I agree with you. But I can still say, with some confidence, that the report itself is rife with misrepresentations. The two stands are no contradictory.

At best, the report is an innacturate polemic that the author hopes will wake people up.

Quick-- would you rather live in Belgium or Mississippi?
posted by deanc at 12:09 PM on June 20, 2004


the poorest Americans are still richer than the average Europeans.

you mean they're richer because they own their trailers? instead of renting decent houses?
or because they're spiritually richer since they're free to go bankrupt (or die as roaches) if they actually get seriously sick?

Vegeto, please don't mention prisons -- you'll hurt your already very shaky argument:


During the 1990s, the United States and Russia -- a far poorer country emerging from totalitarian rule and beset by official corruption and organized crime -- vied for the dubious position of the highest incarceration rate on the planet.
But in the last few years, Russian authorities have carried out large-scale amnesties to ease overcrowding in disease-infested prisons, and the United States has emerged unchallenged into first place, at 702 prisoners per 100,000 population. Russia now has 665 prisoners per 100,000.
United States imprisons at a far greater rate than developed Western nations and many impoverished and authoritarian countries. On a per capita basis, according to the best available figures, the United States has three times more prisoners than Iran, four times more than Poland, five times more than Tanzania and seven times more than Germany.


____________________________
Living in NYC, I find that hard to swallow

ask somebody who lived there in the 70's. my uncle did, and he has the most interesting stories of pre-Giuliani, pre-Disney NYC.

whereas the US is seeing relatively strong growth
with the amount of stimulus Bush gave the US war economy, it is quite predictable. question: can you suatain that much stimulus without busting an already pathethic budget?
;)
riviera blew up your little fpp (based on irrelevant data), I know it hurts, but there's no need to get snippy

I'm just glad I'm retiring with my own pension account in the US, and not within the public system in Europe.

again, it's subjective. I'm glad we didn't need metal detectors back in high school, glad I walk to work and ride my bycicle instead of rotting in traffic in a car, glad my dad had huge medical bills picked up by the government, etc etc

plus, you can't be sure your money'll still be there when you retire. what if President Jebby or President Jenna bet all the pot in the stock market, or give them to Jeff Skilling's kids to invest.

keep up the hyperbole all you like
well, at least riviera doesn't have to worry about a 7.2 trillion dollars national debt.
7.2 trillion dollars. that, I concede, is a record
posted by matteo at 12:11 PM on June 20, 2004


The Economist has an excellent article on the relative pluses and minuses of the EU vs. US economies in the June 19th issue -- sadly, it is behind a for-pay firewall for those of you who don't subscribe (neener).

An excerpt:
Mr Blanchard's analysis finds that most of the fall in hours worked in Europe has been due to a decline in average hours per worker (thanks to longer holidays or shorter working weeks), rather than a rise in unemployment or a fall in the proportion of the population seeking work. Furthermore, most of the reduction in average hours worked was due to full-time workers putting in shorter hours, not because of an increase in part-time workers who might not have been able to get full-time jobs. Mr Blanchard concludes that the fall in hours worked is mostly voluntary.

But that does not settle the matter. Perhaps Europeans choose to work fewer hours because of high taxes. Marginal tax rates have indeed risen by more in Europe than in America over the past 30 years. Taxes reduce the incentive to work an extra hour rather than go home, once a reasonable standard of living has been reached.

This is a hotly debated issue. A study** by Edward Prescott, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, claims that virtually all of the fall in hours worked in the euro area can be blamed on higher taxes. But the flaw in this theory, says Mr Blanchard, is that within Europe there is little correlation between the fall in hours worked and the increase in taxes. Ireland has seen a 25% fall in average hours worked since 1970, despite an even smaller increase in tax rates than in America. Other studies have found that taxes have played a more modest role, accounting for about one-third of the fall in hours worked per person.

Mr Blanchard concludes that most, but not all, of the fall in hours worked over the past 30 years is due to a preference for more leisure as incomes have increased. Europeans simply enjoy leisure more. Americans seem more obsessed with keeping up with the Jones's in terms of their consumption of material goods. As a result, they may work too hard and consume too little leisure. Their GDP figures look good, but perhaps at a cost to their overall economic welfare.

Robert Gordon‡, an economist at Northwestern University, agrees that GDP comparisons overstate America's living standards, but he goes even further. America has to spend more than Europe, he says, on both heating and air conditioning because of its more extreme climate. This boosts GDP, but does not enhance welfare. America's higher crime rate means that more of its GDP is spent on home and business security. The cost of keeping 2m people in prison, a far bigger percentage of its population than in Europe, boosts America's GDP, but not its welfare. The convenience of Europe's public transport also does not show up in GDP figures. Taking account of all these factors and adding in the value of extra leisure time, Mr Gordon reckons that Europe's living standards are now less than 10% behind America's.
The full article is lucid and well-researched, and of course every issue of the Economist should be placed on a throne of gold and dry wit and worshipped like an Egyptian cat. Go pick up a copy.
posted by Ptrin at 12:12 PM on June 20, 2004


I'm sure the part of the report that compared educational standards, college attendance, and health care coverage was originally considered, but just didn't fit in there to make room for the more important factors such as who owns more floor space and DVD players per capita. But please, VeGiTo, tell us more about Europe having its head in the sand and not addressing the significant problems with its economic structure.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:14 PM on June 20, 2004


1) The crime rate in the United States is high?
Living in NYC, I find that hard to swallow.
2) I felt much more scared in Paris.

PLease justify point 1 with point 2. You may use logic in your argument.
posted by biffa at 12:15 PM on June 20, 2004


the poorest Americans are still richer than the average Europeans.


oh, I forgot. since you're bragging: what about the American homeless?
posted by matteo at 12:15 PM on June 20, 2004


All I see is denial of some very obvious problems in the EU system, and attempts to spin all its problems in a positive way.
There are problems in Europe, especially in the areas of our aging population, and these are problems that we're aware of. What you're seeing here is not denial, but an effort to remind the American MeFi contingent that we don't consider that our standard of living is worse than that of the US. (And, yes I know you're Canadian, but I'm not talking about that).

Speaking personally, I know very few people who have what can be classed as a substandard standard of living. Of those who do, most do OK. I'm aware that my view of the US is skewed by the media, but this is not the situation I see portrayed with regard to the US poor.

e.g. Everyone I know gets the same standard of healthcare. Everone I know got an adequate education.

And for the record, I felt safer walking round Paris than I do walking through London. I'm not saying you're wrong, ParisParamus, but what you felt may have just been cultural.
posted by seanyboy at 12:21 PM on June 20, 2004


Well is filled with the angry descendants of immigrants from Islamic countries. They have knives, and France doesn't have capital punishment. So, crime in France is rampant; the police have pretty much given up.

Actually, I think too few people in the United States are incarcerated. That asshole who was smoking out his car window yesterday while I was cycling: he should be behinf bars. And that other asshole with the cellphone that plays Hava Nigilla? He too should be in prison! And that guy in the subway, yesterday who jumped the turnstile? Prison!

Seriously, I fail to see why a high incarceration rate in the United States is intrinsically bad. What makes you think it's not just that the police in Europe are lazy, or less efficient, or that the judiciary is weak?
posted by ParisParamus at 12:22 PM on June 20, 2004


By the way, please: BAN CELL PHONE MUSIC NOW!
posted by ParisParamus at 12:24 PM on June 20, 2004


the fact that not even dictatorships manage to lock up people as fast as America do. that's a symptom of huge social conflict (much of which is racial), and of a lot of crime going on

LA 1992, anybody?
posted by matteo at 12:26 PM on June 20, 2004


Perhaps Europeans choose to work fewer hours because of high taxes.
Perhaps Europeans choose to work fewer hours because they can afford to.
Perhaps Europeans choose to work fewer hours because they don't drive SUV's
Perhaps Europeans choose to work fewer hours because, unlike in Texas, you're not going to get fired because the Boss just doesn't like you.
Perhaps Europeans choose to work fewer hours because they value their lesiure time, and don't need to spend as much money to have a bit of fun.
Perhaps Europeans choose to work fewer hours because they never had their school lessons sponsored by McDonalds or CocaCola.
Perhaps Europeans choose to work fewer hours because they Work to Live.
posted by seanyboy at 12:29 PM on June 20, 2004


"Adequate" education? What the hell is that? Europeans have an "adequate" level of education, and yet they haven't figured out how to cope with American's cultural power, or not have American PCs and mostly American software on their desktops. Or, for that matter, come up with pop music that isn't shite. Or for that matter, figured out that cigarettes a disgusting, toxic cultural phenomenon which should be seriously regulated (with an eye towards prohibition, just like DDT, or any other dangerous substance).
posted by ParisParamus at 12:29 PM on June 20, 2004


Well, from what I can see, there's a huge number of Americans who get almost no education at all.
OK. We've got Emma off of Big Brother, but that doesn't balance the scales.
Maybe adequate was the wrong word. Maybe the word I was looking for was Good.
posted by seanyboy at 12:35 PM on June 20, 2004


Or for that matter, have a significant number of universities that can hold a candle to America's top schools, or compete in a vast number of other ways.

So, perhaps you should re-evaluate your criteria for "adequate?" Actually, I take that back. I don't want to live in a society where "adequate" is good enough.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:37 PM on June 20, 2004


Actually, I want to pick at your points.

How to cope with American's cultural power.
Well, to be honest, we quite like American Culture. Heck, We're European, we just like other cultures.

Not have American PC's
The Goose that laid the golden egg, but never said a word.
It all went a bit wrong for us after that.

pop music that isn't shite
You say that because you don't like European Culture. Heck, You're America, we just don't like other cultures.

cigarettes
We know that cigarettes are both toxic and disgusting. It's just that some of us like to smoke.
posted by seanyboy at 12:40 PM on June 20, 2004


I'm not talking about the Best-Of-The-Best here. Given the expense and resources pushed at your top universities (Educating your richest, so they can continue to be rich), I'd be damned suprised if they weren't better than equivalant European Universities. I'm talking about what is available to normal people, and how much it will cost.

In this country, (and I think we differ a bit here)... If I were smart enough, I could walk from a minimum wage job, into a University, get a degree, and go back to that minimum wage job without worrying about any debts until such a time as I could afford them.

In other European Countries, I'm sure i could do it for free.
That's what I'm talking about.
posted by seanyboy at 12:46 PM on June 20, 2004


We are number One and we Rule! America, love it or leave it...why all the lefty whining? nit picking? If the place is so bad why is it the number one choice for those wanting to leave their native lands to begin life anew? What other country has a flag with 50 stars? Name one country other than ours that has the Star Spangled Banner as its national anthem. Name one European country that has a team named the New York Yankees? Who invented the bumper sticker--The U.S. of A. Who imports the most illegal drugs? Who has led the way in overweight kids?
Yes. There are a few faults here but we even allow women to vote and our young people to travel abroad and see the world by joining our great military. Name one other place where our border patrol tries to keep out Mexican illegals and is dressed in uniforms made in Mexico...the list goes on and on...stay the course and as Ken Lay says: win one or two for the gyppers.
posted by Postroad at 12:47 PM on June 20, 2004


:-)
Postroad - You're right of course.
I'm going to go and watch some T.V. Maybe wash some pots, get myself ready for tomorrows match.
posted by seanyboy at 12:50 PM on June 20, 2004


I'm sure you were riled up, and that's fair, but I'm sure you would agree -- as people on both sides of the aisle, in my experience, do -- that the European economies do lag behind the US, and that there are signs of stagnation in the EU whereas the US is seeing relatively strong growth.

Look, there are lots of structural factors -- for instance, the German economy has spent over a decade having to deal with the assimilation of the former GDR, and given the importance of Germany to EU-wide stats, that's a big hit. But there are also cyclical factors, and it's just problematic to use per capita GDP as an all-encompassing indicator, when most EU governments don't regard their economies as pure GDP engines.

But to focus on a few misleading indicators -- as the WSJ and you did, either deliberately or out of ignorance -- is just horseshit. Simple as that.
posted by riviera at 12:52 PM on June 20, 2004


Well, actually, putting aside the availability of grant money, loans, scholarships and state schools (significantly cheaper). The fact remains that whereas in most of Europe, going to an "elite" school is, largely required to get somewhere in business or government, it's much less required here in the United States.

I need to get back to work...
posted by ParisParamus at 12:52 PM on June 20, 2004


I felt much more scared in Paris.

Well, since you're the kind of bloke who'd walk up the Falls Road in a bowler hat and Union Jack shorts, while playing Lillebullero on a flute, that doesn't surprise me.
posted by riviera at 12:54 PM on June 20, 2004


Rivera: you hate the United States, and you would always find factors to find the US to be a barbaric wasteland.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:56 PM on June 20, 2004


The standard of living in the United States is "by most in the US" considered among the highest in the world. By measures of material wealth such as "per capita income" or per capita consumption, the United States ranks higher than almost all countries as does debt (but thats not a considered a factor for some obscure reason). However, a "standard of living" is subjective and open to different interpretations. Some say that it should be measured by more than just facts; important subjective factors could include legal structure, freedom, equality, and crime rates. Another complication is the diversity of the United States, both between and within the several States, there are many differences between urban, rural, and suburban standards of living as well as those enjoyed by various subcultures. Add to that the EExtreme differences between the Haves and Have-nots not seen as much in say, France or even more extreme in say Monaco... and this study becomes difficult if not impossible. The basic thing we should look at is "Quality of life' granted as hard to quantify, but I was happier with less money in germany and france than I am in Springfield Oregon....
posted by Elim at 12:56 PM on June 20, 2004


Well, it seems like American culture emphasises working as a valued and important part of a person's life, whereas European cultures prefer the "work to live" idea. This does not mean either one is inferior to the other in a general sense, though I imagine it does translate into a specific advantage in productivity for the Americans and a specific advantage in leisure time for the Europeans. So, can we please avoid the rambling accusations that the other's mode of life is a sham and a fraud, allowed to survive only because of the tyrannical-plutocratic-ideology / socialist-technocratic-manipulation of their elites?
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 12:56 PM on June 20, 2004


Rivera, your comment reveals how clueless you are about me, my experiences and motivations. I find the British nearly as tacky as the French.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:00 PM on June 20, 2004


ParisP seems to hate the idea that the US can't do everything better, and attacks anyone who might dare imply such.

Paris can be a bit over whelming but then again but not dangerous, Venice seemed rife with crime but as a tourest spot I can see why. I felt safe in New York, and Camden UK and even Ryiad... its all about knowing the rules of a particular culture.
posted by Elim at 1:01 PM on June 20, 2004


And the US aint Tacky? Gads I give you the Alanta Summer Olympic Games and the SuperBowl Halftime show. the State Rests your honor...
posted by Elim at 1:03 PM on June 20, 2004


The problem with "work to live" is that (1) it doesn't work that way for the poor; and (2) it's a state-imposed notion. And here in the US, there's a consensus that the state is a limited entity, we the people give power.

In any case, look for Europe to continue to decline, and to eventually become a region where the birthrate (and value system) is so depraved, that it becomes Islamic. And we all know what a hell that will be!
posted by ParisParamus at 1:03 PM on June 20, 2004


Rivera: you hate the United States

No, I just have an allergic reaction to uninformed bigots, no matter what colour their passports. Now go and shoot someone with an annoying mobile phone ringtone.
posted by riviera at 1:07 PM on June 20, 2004


Elim, of course the US is tacky, largely, with certain pockets of exception. All societies are largely tacky! But for Rivera to suggest that I was British, and would wear what he described was too much!

And yes, Atlanta was and is an embarassment--which is why, I hope and PRAY that New York does not get the Summer Olympics--EVER!
posted by ParisParamus at 1:07 PM on June 20, 2004


Rivera, your comment reveals how clueless you are about me, my experiences and motivations.

And your comment reveals that you are humorless.

Rivera: you hate the United States, and you would always find factors to find the US to be a barbaric wasteland.

And this comment reveals that you, too, are clueless. Man-- touchy, touchy, aren't we?
posted by deanc at 1:08 PM on June 20, 2004


Rivera: your problem is that you have no sense of humor, and you don't get when someone is exaggerating to be heard, and when someone is being literal.

I am about the least biggoted, xenophobic person you will ever meet.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:09 PM on June 20, 2004


And PeePee -- google for 'Falls Road' and you'll understand my point. It's not about British tackiness. It's about accounting for feeling 'threatened' in Paris with the assertion that every dark-skinned kid in the banlieu was out to stick a knife in your ribcage.
posted by riviera at 1:09 PM on June 20, 2004


Actually Work to live worksin most cases if left alone to do it.
Its all about knowing what you need as oposed to want, and living with in that model,
hard for most in a consumer bases culture.

We dont need TV or Radio, most in the world really dont need a car. or a computer.

And here in the US, there's a consensus that the state is a limited entity, we the people give power.
Not in florida it seems.

Europe to continue to decline, and to eventually become a region where the birthrate (and value system) is so depraved,

As far as the last stament, Desparate and bordering on stupid and even racist, so passes wiith out comment.
posted by Elim at 1:11 PM on June 20, 2004


I am about the least biggoted, xenophobic person you will ever meet
no, you're "about the least bigoted, xenophobic person you will ever meet" at a KKK rally. among the sane, you don't always fare that well.

at least, thanks to the Swedish Reaganites, we got a great tagline:

MetaFilter -- You Hate the United States, and You Would Always Find Factors to Find the US to Be a Barbaric Wasteland

long but worth it

posted by matteo at 1:12 PM on June 20, 2004


Matteo, you are just fooling yourself.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:14 PM on June 20, 2004


Houses have long been built in those parts of the world to compensate for the heat in ways that don't involve nasty, germ-recirculating air conditioners.

Before you pat Europe on the back too hard, do remember that the North American climate is rather more extreme than the "warmer parts" of Europe. Lots of North America has summers rather warmer than Rome or Madrid, often quite substantially, and the great plains cities manage to have summers like Madrid or Rome (or worse) and winters like Oslo or Helsinki (or worse).

It's not a big deal or source of argument, but it's one of those things that Europeans seem to Just Not Get.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:14 PM on June 20, 2004


PP> Well, unless Europe is planning an invasion of the US, who cares how they choose to live? Different strokes for different folks. If they want various forms of social democracy, and Americans do not, and you are an American who lives in America, and thus do not have to put up with it, why should it matter?

Various Europeans> I quite enjoy North America, thank you. I can understand that you are annoyed at being criticised yourselves, but a broad critique of America rather than a specific critique of the institution that attacked you in the first place is wrong headed. America and Canada are quite happy the way we are, thank you.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 1:16 PM on June 20, 2004



posted by riviera at 1:18 PM on June 20, 2004


Personally I'm sick of all of this USA vs. the world crap. It seems that the many comments here reflect many of the alleged substantive differences between the USA and the EU hinge on choice based on preference rather that some sort of qualitative difference. I know ex-pat Europeans in America who'd never go back to live in Europe simply because they like things America that they just can't get back in the EU and visa versa. It seems if you want free health care, and don't mind paying high taxes moving across the pond to the EU is simple enough solution. Or if you don't mind more restrictive free speech laws, but want to be in a place that has legal gay marriage places in the EU can suit your needs. I know that voting with your feet is not realistic for may people, but my point is that "better" or even "richer" or "poor" are relative terms depending on what you, as a person want out of life. I don't like it when Americans call Europeans lazy for wanting to take it slow and lead an otherwise happy and fulfilling life. I also don't like it when Europeans chide Americans for having a strong work ethic when many in the USA just want buy the nicer things that money can buy or want to top dog at the office. I wonder if ever occurred to any of these people each group perhaps likes it just that way?

Maybe I'm just sick broad generalizations. Perhaps a lot comments in this thread and the report himself falls into that category. Or perhaps, I'm just sick of people pumping up there chests saying "USA is best" or others "EU/Europe is best" with realizing that "best" is normative value and their is no such thing that "best."

Outside of certain immutable rights and freedoms that both the USA and EU embrace seem to embrace, it simply comes down to degree and preference.
posted by Bag Man at 1:19 PM on June 20, 2004


Pseudo, you have a point, and I will never find American women as seductive as European woman...

I suppose my biggest concern with Europe is that it would seem to be turning itself into a set of cultures of pacifism and cynicism and the inability to be courageous. Iraq is the most obvious example. It's had not to call the democracies of Western Europe decadent, passive, cynical and cowardly. And that cannot be but dangeous for the future (theirs, as well as ours).
posted by ParisParamus at 1:26 PM on June 20, 2004


the poorest Americans are still richer than the average Europeans

You seriously think an uninsured unemployed person living below the poverty line in a Mississippi backwater is worse off than "the average European"? Incredible.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:27 PM on June 20, 2004


Uhh, that would be "better off" of course.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:28 PM on June 20, 2004


Bag Man: agreed. That's why facile comparative analysis based upon misleading indicators... sucks. There are lots and lots of internal debates going on, in both Europe and the US, about the relationship between economic growth and quality of life. Trying to set up false comparisons for the benefit of the WSJ op-ed page (as opposed to, say, the WSJ news pages) doesn't educate anyone.
posted by riviera at 1:34 PM on June 20, 2004


ParisParamus,

I can say without a shadow do doubt that you're the kind of person my last comment was aimed at. Not for views on the war, but the stark ingorance you have displied in the this thead. Don't worry this not an American thing, plently of Europeans display the same ignorance
posted by Bag Man at 1:35 PM on June 20, 2004


On the subject of the European Union, I'm beginning to change my opinion of it. I've been reading The Independent and The Observer, which have both been running some informative articles, and it does seem that the positives have been largely ignored. I like the EU. I like that I can hop on ferry or plane for £20 and get a job anywhere I get off, with an E11 in my back pocket should something unfortunate happen and I need medical care. But Belgium or Mississippi? If you'd said Gent or Philly, it might have been a tougher choice.

Back on topic -- of the 2 million in U.S. prisons, some of them do have jobs. Packing software, answering telephone calls, fixing their prisons, etc. Whether they are counted in the employment statistics, I'm not sure.
posted by xpermanentx at 1:41 PM on June 20, 2004



posted by matteo at 1:41 PM on June 20, 2004


Makes me think of that time when this american dude asked me 'if I had television in France'...
posted by Sijeka at 1:45 PM on June 20, 2004


"Are you from England? Do you know John?"
posted by xpermanentx at 1:48 PM on June 20, 2004


hah, poorest americans are better off than an average european, hahahaha.

in the state-owned housing estates near me, 90% of houses have satellite television, you can tell by the satellite dishes, more than 50% have at least one car. i get my freedom undiluted by PATRIOT acts, even here in northern ireland we have very little gun crime compared to the USA. i'm breathing relatively unpolluted air,

stupid swedes.

---

come up with pop music that isn't shite. Or for that matter, figured out that cigarettes a disgusting, toxic cultural phenomenon which should be seriously regulated

we even have labels on our cigarette packets to tell us that it kills, causes lung cancer and can cause premature ageing.

also, within 50 miles of me it is banned in all workplaces. it's also banned in workplaces in norway or sweden, i'm not sure.

i'd much rather live where i do now than anywhere in the US.

oh, and you're saying that US (read as "any") "pop" music is good?!!

---

on preview, i've heard "you've got nintendo in ireland?!"
posted by knapah at 2:08 PM on June 20, 2004


ParisP: my biggest concern with Europe is that it would seem to be turning itself into a set of cultures of pacifism and cynicism and the inability to be courageous. Iraq is the most obvious example.

Ah, that explains a few of your bizarre comments, I suppose. I feel obliged to point out that Iraq is not actually in Europe. You're thinking of the Persian Gulf region. Europe is a few thousand miles north-west of there.
posted by sfenders at 2:13 PM on June 20, 2004 [1 favorite]


Sfenders: you're so witty, it's astonishing.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:17 PM on June 20, 2004


Actually, all pop music currently sucks. So I take that back.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:18 PM on June 20, 2004


America and Canada are quite happy the way we are, thank you.

I've heard Canada's system of governing described (positively) as a cross betwee between Europe and America, in that it provides such some services such as free universal health care, but having lower taxes than Europe and less big government.

Plus Canadians are more likely than both Americans and Europeans to have luxuries such as high-speed internet and snowmobiles.
posted by bobo123 at 2:29 PM on June 20, 2004


Paris can be a bit over whelming but then again but not dangerous, Venice seemed rife with crime but as a tourest spot I can see why.

Actually, these days, Paris has a higher violent crime rate than NYC.
posted by wrffr at 2:41 PM on June 20, 2004


Canada wins, yet again. And if you look at Montreal, you get that European "way of life" thing, too.

I wish we could take the best things from each other, and leave the rest--we desperately need national health and more of a safety net, and free (or free-ish) college tuition wouldn't hurt either.
posted by amberglow at 2:41 PM on June 20, 2004


I would take Montreal in most ways, but again, Canada, like Europe, freeloads on US's less socialist economy, so it's still a form of cheating on Canada's part.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:44 PM on June 20, 2004


Not really. Canada "freeloads" in the sense that its economy is set up to supply the US with natural goods that are unavailable or uneconomical in the US, because the two share a four-thousand-odd kilometre border. The only area in which Canada can really be said to freeload is in national defense, but this itself is somewhat questionable, as continental security is more important to America than us - if not for our alliance with America, the Russians would have had little interest in using nuclear weapons on us, whereas America required access to the Canadian shield in order to have sufficient space and time to defend itself from nuclear attack. Once again, we sold a valuable natural commodity to America, albeit one less tangible than usual, in exchange for reasonable compensation.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 3:02 PM on June 20, 2004


Plus Canadians are more likely than both Americans and Europeans to have luxuries such as high-speed internet and snowmobiles.


Hey, we have high speed internet, thanks a lot!

That said, I agree 100% about Canada. Best example ever. Best country ever (with Holland / Low Lands).
posted by Sijeka at 3:08 PM on June 20, 2004


"Are you from England? Do you know John?"

"are you from Canada? You must know my sister Linda then!"

:-)

good times.
posted by Sijeka at 3:10 PM on June 20, 2004


Do you know John?
xpermanentx: Nope, but I live in a small northern town between Manchester and Leeds.
posted by seanyboy at 3:10 PM on June 20, 2004


I would like to put New Zealand forward as a great place to live (our large child sex slave problem notwithstanding).
posted by malpractice at 3:22 PM on June 20, 2004


"This study is based on a widely acclaimed and tought-provoking book"

Uh ? Alas, I tought it was based on the "prestigious internet". Then again what do I know...
it's based on a prestigious book so it must be true, right ? No.

"the tax base grows faster in a growth economy then in a economy with less growth "

Noo ? Really ? Sweet jesus christ, he's a genius ! Oh btw even if the tax bases increases
(more taxpayers) that doesn't mean that the tax income is going to raise as well, it's not
a necessary implication.

"As can be seens, the USA is far away ahead of all the European countries"
It's nice to learn a 10-15% difference is far away and ahead. I'd be worried to be
an American, if the difference between europe and usa is so minimal.


Ok it's too long and pointless, it's data dressed in a way to show one position.
On a fun (?) note :) one may notice that while almost everybody owns a microwave
oven in USA , almost nobody does in Italy.

How comes ? Are italians troglodites ? Do they still live in caves ? Well my cave
is comfortable enough thanks a lot :D.

A few reasons behind the MicroWave lag :
1) italians don't like to eat MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) and avoid it when they can.
Blame delicious pasta I guess.

2) Almost all italians I know, if not 99,9% own a gas (methane or butane) oven.
Currently, if my data isn't too old, it less expensive to cook by gas then
to cook by microwave oven. Also italy has got a serious problem with electricty,
as in the past we irrationally voted against nuclear power (yep no nuclear powah
in italy) ...apparently we forgot that France and Switzerland is very close and
they have plenty nuclear facilities relatively close to the border.

3) There are still pockets of technology backwardness that think microwave oven
can cause cancer.

4) Definitely it's not a price problem, as the average microwave is well within
a family budget (+- 30-60$ per oven)

We definitely have other more serious problems in Italy, biggest being (imho) the
abysmal investment both of State and Private Sector (which spends less then State, but
could allocate more resources) in Research&Developement.Consider also that our democracy
is younger then american one and we come from a past economy based mainly on agriculture.
We had pocket of so called "excellence" in northern italy, fueled not only by enterpreneurail
spirit, but also by some very very bright italian scientist ; plus, we lacked and still lack
access to comparatively unexpensive basic industry resources ( oil in texas runs to mind).
posted by elpapacito at 3:41 PM on June 20, 2004


The only area in which Canada can really be said to freeload is in national defense

Another less noted area where Canada freeloads from the US is healthcare (gasp!). The Canadian government places a price ceiling on drugs, forcing American pharmaceutical companies to sell them here at a much lower price than in the states. We are basically freeloading off American medical R&D.

The end result is that Canadians get cheap drugs and healthcare, and the Americans are forced to pay a higher price for drugs (they pay for a disproportionately high burden of the R&D cost). That's why, IMO, that we Canadians are partially responsible for American's health care problems.
posted by VeGiTo at 3:46 PM on June 20, 2004


the plight of the self-hating Canadian boggles the mind
posted by matteo at 4:08 PM on June 20, 2004


vegito: wah ? Nobody is forcing American pharmaceutical companies to sell to Canada, I don't see gun pointing to anybody head ? If they sell, be sure they're not doing it for the better welfare of Canadians, but for profits they certainly accurately calculated before even thinking about selling to canadians. Oh and if they no longer want to sell, no problem, somebody else will.

But there is an hint of truth in what you say : some company may be selling for a price to canada (no doubt they're doing it for a profit, even if minimal, otherwise they could meet the wrath of anti-dumping legislations). In order to obtain more profits (that they may need, or just only want) they may be overpricing americans or europeans or gods know who.

But it's absurd to say the blame is on canadians, if they're not so stupid to let a company legislate what is a good price for their population.
posted by elpapacito at 4:21 PM on June 20, 2004


Aside : Populous is an adjective, populace is a noun. God damn it. [/cranky pedant]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:27 PM on June 20, 2004


This Europe place, where people have leisure time and healthcare, may I move there please?
posted by dame at 4:43 PM on June 20, 2004


"My <insert political entity here> is better than your <insert other political entity here>!"
"Is not!"
"Is too!"

So, when will the next nuclear arms race start? Or is it robots this time? Gene technology?
posted by spazzm at 5:51 PM on June 20, 2004


Well, dame, most European countries are notoriously cranky about taking in immigrants. You're probably best off marrying a European to get in...

Say, I think there do be some Europeans here on MeFi, no? Anyone for a dame?
posted by kahboom at 6:00 PM on June 20, 2004


Here is a pdf from creative class.org, definitely worth the read if you are interested in Europe/America comparisons.
posted by hoskala at 6:07 PM on June 20, 2004


Or is it robots this time?

Giant robots? Now that's cool! So long as nobody creates any earthquake machines, it's all good. I guess there is an upside xenophobia!
posted by Bag Man at 6:21 PM on June 20, 2004


Some one did make one
posted by Elim at 6:29 PM on June 20, 2004


Makes me think of that time when this american dude asked me 'if I had television in France'

Well, would have you thought him stupid if he asked about air conditioning?

If they sell, be sure they're not doing it for the better welfare of Canadians, but for profits they certainly accurately calculated before even thinking about selling to canadians.


I'm sure the Canadians would never even think about producing a drug that big pharma refused to sell them.
posted by trharlan at 7:18 PM on June 20, 2004


Great conversation with many, many reasonable and well-articulated points! This is what makes MeFi discussion so much different than political discussion elsewhere on the web. Posts like this, which inspire discussions like this, are what MetaFilter is all about.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:25 PM on June 20, 2004


"Your <insert other political entity here> is better than my <insert political entity here>!"
"Is not!"
"Is too!"
posted by gimonca at 7:57 PM on June 20, 2004


How many commenters in this thread that speak of the hell that is living in Europe ever actually lived there? Or even visited?

Just checking.

I've been there (France, Belgium, Germany), and I've not noticed living conditions to be significantly worse than those in the U.S. at all. Different, certainly, but not worse -- and definitely not poorer.
posted by moonbiter at 9:43 PM on June 20, 2004


Looks like ParisParamus is trying to make up for lost time. My gods.

I do note with interest his comment "I am about the least biggoted, xenophobic person you will ever meet."

This confirms my long-held belief that his I-P rants are performance art, calculated to cause injury to the pro-Israeli contingent.

Anyway, back to your idiotic arguments, folk. As if either Europe or the US could be better than Canada. The very idea!

posted by five fresh fish at 10:03 PM on June 20, 2004


Or, for that matter, come up with pop music that isn't shite.

I am so just waiting for the Pitchforkmedia Report on relative standards of living to come out.

Paris, which bands/artists have you heard? I'm familiar with a number of Dutch and German acts that I find quite good, plus I've heard England's produced a few decent ones.

Art is, of course, subjective -- but so are most of the indicators of quality of life discussed in this thread. Personally, I think low crime levels, access to quality health care, amount of disposable income, amount of disposable time, and a sense of community are the important indicators.

yet they haven't figured out how to cope with American's cultural power, or not have American PCs and mostly American software on their desktops.

And here in America, we drive a lot of Japanese automobiles and buy Japanese consumer electronics....
posted by weston at 10:06 PM on June 20, 2004


You might think Canada is ok now, but wait until we find out whether the gathering barbarians sack Ottawa before you heap to much praise upon us. Not that I think Harper would last more than six months as a minority leader, mind you, but we'll see.
posted by The God Complex at 11:01 PM on June 20, 2004


"too" much.
posted by The God Complex at 11:02 PM on June 20, 2004


All you Canadians. We're comparing Europe which consists of many countries (France, Germany, etc) with the USA which contains many states (New York, Seattle, Canada). Don't pull yourself away from your Motherland. It makes it not fair.
posted by seanyboy at 12:01 AM on June 21, 2004


"Do you have Christmas in Fraaaance?"
posted by raaka at 12:21 AM on June 21, 2004


Vegito> Not quite. The vast majority of a drug's research costs are FDA certification, which costs millions of dollars and jacks up a drug's cost significantly. Except, of course, the money they spend certifying it for the FDA is spent on experiments that they can use a second time and thus don't have to spend money on, for certification in Canada. Though I disagree with legislating prices, essentially what that means is we don't pay for a certification process (the FDA's) that we have no control over and do not accept (in general, as opposed to specific experiments), and that the drug companies would have to spend money on anyhow. Paying so that some American can get access to a drug is not exactly something my icy Canadian heart warms to.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 12:26 AM on June 21, 2004


I think Disraeli summed up how I feel about this debate when he said "There are lies, damn lies and statistics."
posted by johnnyboy at 2:30 AM on June 21, 2004


All you Canadians. We're comparing Europe which consists of many countries (France, Germany, etc) with the USA which contains many states (New York, Seattle, Canada). Don't pull yourself away from your Motherland. It makes it not fair.

MHAHAHAHAHA!

(Yes we have Christmas in France btw).

A Canadian friend working in Arkansas told me last week that an american asked him if 'Canada still used Euro'.

GOOD TIMES!
posted by Sijeka at 3:33 AM on June 21, 2004


Well, would have you thought him stupid if he asked about air conditioning?

Oh, c'mon, that's just a bit cheap. As ROU_Xenophobe mentioned, the US has greater extremes of both heat and cold than Western Europe (thank you, Mr Gulf Stream). The deadly heatwave in France was undoubtedly made worse by governmental unpreparedness on a grand scale, but it was also in the context of unprecedented circumstances. (Now where have we heard that recently?)

To say that the lack of air-conditioning was 'unbelievable' and 'mind-boggling' is a wee bit disingenuous to anyone who's familiar with Mediterranean double-shutters and plaster walls, which normally do the job. And as Eric Klinenberg has pointed out, France in 2003 was not so dissimilar to what happened in Chicago in 1995, except that Chicagoans had air-conditioning, but not the electricity to power it.

In both cases, for slightly different reasons, there was a huge social deficit. And no economic think-tank can measure that.
posted by riviera at 3:47 AM on June 21, 2004


On a more serious note.

I did notice that being poor in the USA can mean two things. 1. you're really dead ass broke and can't eat when you want or 2. it just means you don't own your car or your house and don't have AC.

It's all relative. Being poor (in my mind) has to be defined. It is already with the 'poverty line' or whatever you Americans might call it.

As for Europe. It's just different, not worse or better. All I know is the Americans should reduce their consumerism attitude because

1. Living on credit and pushing American citizens to buy and buy with money that's not theirs will NOT help the US' economy in the long run. When it's pay back time, it's pay back time. And the US gvt, even if the dollar is well balanced and even if it has the benefits of 'trust' worldwide, will be fucked at some point.

2. Gas, electricity, trash, SUVs, and still NO KYOTO agreement signed. You just cannot keep on living like this and eventually it'll really have to stop one day.
posted by Sijeka at 3:49 AM on June 21, 2004


Yeah, because so many other important countries support the Kyoto treaty in practice. Talk about dead horse.
posted by dagny at 4:59 AM on June 21, 2004


America has an education deficit, but it's unclear whether that's a function of some flaw in capitalism, or that, by welcoming so many of the world's "unwashed" for so long, education (and by this I mean cultural as well as academic) doesn't seem as necessary.

In any case, yes, I'd take living in Montreal, Paris or London over Albany. Yeah. (any American Albany)
posted by ParisParamus at 5:16 AM on June 21, 2004


Kyoto? Ha! Keep spinning your wheels on that one! Talk about pseudo issues!
posted by ParisParamus at 5:17 AM on June 21, 2004


Sijeka, did you notice how the debt-filled 1980's and 1990's turned the United States into a poor, third-world nation. How ignorant of you to suggest that Americans have too much debt. How about some factual basis for your claim.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:44 AM on June 21, 2004


Dagny- seems to me that just because other countries haven't put their backs into the Kyoto treaty doesn't mean that the US shouldn't. You see, it's this whole commons thing.

It seems just another recent point in case where the US has squandered an opportunity to lead and make a moral point. As the worst polluter, and the country most capable of researching/funding environmentally friendlier technologies, we have an obligation to.
posted by kahboom at 5:46 AM on June 21, 2004


I can't seem to find it again, but the head of Shell(?) was stating that we simply can not continue with the current level of CO2 emissions.

When the head of a big petro company says that, it may be time to clue in.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:32 AM on June 21, 2004


How ignorant of you to suggest that Americans have too much debt. How about some factual basis for your claim.

Research by the Federal Reserve indicates that household debt is at a record high relative to disposable income. Some analysts are concerned that this unprecedented level of debt might pose a risk to the financial health of American households. A high level of indebtedness among households could lead to increased household delinquencies and bankruptcies, which could threaten the health of lenders if loan losses are greater than anticipated.
posted by amberglow at 9:53 AM on June 21, 2004


How many commenters in this thread that speak of the hell that is living in Europe ever actually lived there? Or even visited?

Just checking.

I've been there (France, Belgium, Germany), and I've not noticed living conditions to be significantly worse than those in the U.S. at all. Different, certainly, but not worse -- and definitely not poorer.


I too have lived for a while Europe (Rome, Italy) and traveled a bit in (England and Germany mostly) and had a similar experience. The major cities I visited seem to have about the same problems as major USA cities, except the crime. However, I found more evidence of disturbing trends like open anti-Semitism in Europe (fair trade???). There were aspects than I liked and aspects I found also unbearable (mush I do of the good ol' USA). Sure Europeans have phobias about things like air conditioning, but how is that any different from USA phobias (that I likely share)? Again, I see very little "right" or "wrong," but mostly I found things different.
posted by Bag Man at 2:15 PM on June 21, 2004


The thread that FreedomParamus built. One troll at a time.
posted by sic at 4:54 PM on June 21, 2004


just my two cents:

1. 'the man' (government) is notoriously bad at doing anything other than keeping people in line. why would you want to hand over such important things like retirement funds, medical care, housing, etc etc to the government???? Even if such systems weren't woefully inefficient, they are far too open for corruption and abuse.

Fuck europe. America was cool because it wasn't like that.


2. 'American capitalism' (which it is not) has provided us a media giant convincing the masses that they need to work their lives away to buy pointless SHIT.

Fuck america. Europe was cool because it wasn't like that.

we're picking up each other's bad habbits. America is slowly adopting the same castrating social programs that drove the best and the brightest from around the world to our shores - the brain drain.

europe is buying into the same consumer focused economy crap that has made america an absolute nightmare.

the real question is who will crash and burn first?
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 11:24 AM on June 22, 2004


Without American hegemony the world would likely return to the dark ages.
posted by homunculus at 2:03 PM on June 22, 2004


1. 'the man' (government) is notoriously bad at doing anything other than keeping people in line. why would you want to hand over such important things like retirement funds, medical care, housing, etc etc to the government???? Even if such systems weren't woefully inefficient, they are far too open for corruption and abuse.

Then who else will do it? Corporations, while they do an ok job, are not beholding to anyone by their shareholders and the pursuit of profits (meaning people can get screwed along the way). I mean who else has the apparatus, money and wherewith all to such tasks. That's why you pay taxes. One person alone cannot feed the hungry and help the poor, but collectively we can make a positive dent. With that being said, government still needs to be limited to protect personal liberty (the irony is that you need more government to do this...this I feel is the genius of checks and balances of the Constitution).

Looks like Regan's ghost is upon us: government can do no good, right?
posted by Bag Man at 9:13 AM on June 23, 2004


A well-run government program can be just as administrative-/worker-efficient as a corporate business, and has the advantage of not needing to be more than break-even profitable.

In theory, a government program should be able to supply services far cheaper than a corporation, particularly when it can use economy of scale to reduce costs.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:36 AM on June 23, 2004


In theory, a government program should be able to supply services far cheaper than a corporation, particularly when it can use economy of scale to reduce costs.

Yup. Haven't they done studies showing it would be much cheaper for the government to provide health care? You immediately cut out all HMO middlemen, and reduce drain on/usage of Emergency Rooms as primary care provider, too.
posted by amberglow at 12:04 PM on June 23, 2004


« Older The 100 greatest British albums...  |  Reviving the Commons.... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments