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The European Dream
October 2, 2004 7:17 AM   Subscribe

The European Dream Sure. They are doing better than the U.S. in so many aspects of living but we are number one with our military! Or perhaps that is why they do so well? Note: their view of religion does not come anywhere near the crazed attention religion plays in American life, in our politics, tax relief, social legislation etc....
posted by Postroad (48 comments total)

 


"...Europe could be the world's best hope for negotiating its shared global future..."

If one person has $10 and another person has $1, and they go into a restaurant together and agree to "split the tab", which one of the two is *really* doing the "sharing?"

"But...but...but," you might say, "the man with $1 only *has* $1, so he shouldn't *have* to share as much!"

So what exactly should motivate the person with $10 to share what he has in the first place? A "sense of community?" "Christian charity?" Or is it just plain "Bribing us not to hate you?"

Finally, to paraphrase the song:

Europe can't even run its own life,
I'll be damned if it'll run mine
Sunshine

posted by kablam at 8:21 AM on October 2, 2004


"but.. but .. but.. that's a fucking idiotic analogy."
posted by Space Coyote at 8:23 AM on October 2, 2004


maybe it's guilt that earlier in the day he had crept up behind the guy with $1 in a dark alley, tied his hands behind his back, stole his goat (which he later sold to get the $10), polluted his country, and then released him, poorer and fucked over, claiming to be his rescuer and telling him the attack was his own fault?
posted by andrew cooke at 8:31 AM on October 2, 2004


This FPP is written in such a way as to betray the assumptions of the author:

'They' are doing better than the U.S. in so many aspects of living but 'we' are number one with 'our' military! Or perhaps that is why 'they' do so well? Note: 'their' view of religion does not come anywhere near the crazed attention religion plays in American life, in 'our' politics, tax relief, social legislation etc....

If your audience is the mefi readership, there's plenty of euros, asians, aussies, canadians and south americans who do not come into the set of people that you mean by 'we'. That is even better demonstrated by mefi's well known international membership.

Postroad, I do realise that your sarcasm is aimed at americans, but can you try at least to be inclusive in your wording? This debate could be better framed, non?
posted by dash_slot- at 8:50 AM on October 2, 2004


Oui
posted by Postroad at 9:05 AM on October 2, 2004


The gist of the new constitution is a commitment to respect human diversity, promote inclusivity, champion human rights and the rights of nature, foster quality of life, pursue sustainable development, free the human spirit for deep play, build a perpetual peace, and nurture a global consciousness. Together, these values and goals represent the woof and warp of a fledgling European Dream.
beautiful, and progressive.

Why are we moving backwards?

And this is how all governments should be--dedicated to making life better for its people (and by extension, for all people): We Americans used to say that the American Dream is worth dying for. The new European Dream is worth living for.
posted by amberglow at 9:10 AM on October 2, 2004


(and, on seeing dash's post: Why are we Americans moving backwards?)
posted by amberglow at 9:11 AM on October 2, 2004


Having read the whole article now, I find it very informative. I didnt realise that we had ruled out forever the death penalty, and am confident that - altho the EU cannot tax me - most of the proceeds from VAT [the taxable goods are determined by the EU anyway] go to Brussels. The bureaucracy is in no danger of starving, at present.

Also, in the UK at least, there is very little debate about the new constitution.

I think that should concern me more than it does, actually.

amberglow:
I do think that the US work ethic is exploited by corporations. I really wish you guys could have the paid leave most of us get, it's good for families, for individuals and in the end, seems good for society.
posted by dash_slot- at 9:16 AM on October 2, 2004


the vacation time, the health care, the social safety net, ...
posted by amberglow at 9:18 AM on October 2, 2004


.. the narrowing gap between rich and poor ...
posted by bonaldi at 9:55 AM on October 2, 2004


I do think that the US work ethic is exploited by corporations.

The problem is, what can we do about it?

Bills have to be paid, children need to be fed. It's not like we've got a system in place to keep us sheltered or feed us. In fact, you might argue that the abolition of such protection makes us more shackled to the system that's exploiting us.

So the answer is, "Suck it up."
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:00 AM on October 2, 2004


Or move. Which is my plan.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:01 AM on October 2, 2004


If one person has $10 and another person has $1, and they go into a restaurant together and agree to "split the tab", which one of the two is *really* doing the "sharing?"

If one person has $10 and another person has $1, and they share a country together and agree to "split the tab", which one of the two is *really* doing the "sharing?"
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:01 AM on October 2, 2004


I think the article paints somewhat of a rosy picture, which isn't quite the same image I'm seeing from here.. Nevertheless it makes some good observations - especially "live to work" vs. "work to live" (at least in a relative sense).
posted by cell at 10:05 AM on October 2, 2004



So the answer is, "Suck it up."
posted by Civil_Disobedient


Report to the 'change your nickname' MeTa thread at once for re-assignment.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:19 AM on October 2, 2004


If the meal cost $2 and they split the cost, the guy with $1 spends all his money on the meal, and the guy with $10 spends only 1/10th his money. Who got the better deal?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:20 AM on October 2, 2004


Hi. Beth's liberal neocon boyfriend here again.

Yes, the USA is terrible. I suggest that the disenchanted should rise up and move away from the USA as soon as possible.

Away from the terrible economy that fills our bars, clubs, and restaurants every weekend, away from the terrible vehicles that we own, away from the mass starvation, away from the poverse level of housing and sanitation that we have, away from it all, as soon as possible!!!

Sell everything, and move now! Act now before this offer expires!
posted by beth at 10:23 AM on October 2, 2004


Hi. Beth's boyfriend should really read up on how many people are totally dependent on food banks and soup kitchens for food, and about how many millions don't have homes, and about how many millions don't have health insurance...
posted by amberglow at 10:31 AM on October 2, 2004


I see the same kind of "the world is ending! OMG!" stuff from this perspective and from the "we are falling into a godless maelstrom of faggots and mexicans and we're DOOOOOOOOOMED unless we find god" crowd. And in fact humans throughout history have been fond of expressing the same sentiment. But, you know, fifty years ago they were turning firehoses on peaceful marchers. 100 years ago they were implementing eugenics. 150 years ago they were slaughtering Indians.

We've got our problems, yes. But I don't think we've fallen into a dark hole of sin, and I don't think we're worse than we were 50 or 100 years ago.
posted by kavasa at 10:55 AM on October 2, 2004


Hi Beth's boyfriend. Maybe the disenfanchised want to rise up and change the system without having to uproot yet again. (see 'Immigration into the USA')

Or you could've just shortened your post to: 'USA - Love it or Leave it.'

Beth: You have my sympathies. And remember to logout when you're done here next time ;-)
posted by i_cola at 11:00 AM on October 2, 2004


Report to the 'change your nickname' MeTa thread at once for re-assignment.

Nice...
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:10 AM on October 2, 2004


Sell everything, and move now! Act now before this offer expires!

Oh, and this isn't nearly as easy as it sounds. For all the "love it or leave it's" I hear, I have yet to see a culturally advanced nation (e.g., Canada, the entire EU, New Zealand) open their doors to the tired, hungry masses of fleeing Americans, yearning to be free. One gets the feeling they're happy without us inside their borders!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:14 AM on October 2, 2004


Wow! People still say "If you think it's messed up why don't you just leave?" - and aren't being sarcastic?!?! That's so, like, cool and retro! Can you do a "Why Do You All Hate America" for us?
posted by freebird at 11:20 AM on October 2, 2004


Some from this side of the Atlantic claim that the proposed European constitution is but one more step toward an EU with less paid leave, less health care, a weaker social safety net and a widening income gap.
It's funny that Rifkin writes this as Europe is dragged (without even a vote) to a more and more neoliberal economic model.
posted by talos at 11:26 AM on October 2, 2004


Is the gap between rich and poor going down in Europe? It is lower in most Western European countries than in the US, but I had thought that like most of the world, it was on the increase since the 1970s (as in Canada, which has a GINI index akin to Europe). Anyone know of good historical GINI index information? (I've found it for the States, but not elsewhere).
posted by jb at 11:46 AM on October 2, 2004


it doesn't seem as though the europeans are going to have much of a dream if they don't start reproducing themselves a little better than they have been ... and why aren't they?
posted by pyramid termite at 12:10 PM on October 2, 2004


I have yet to see a culturally advanced nation (e.g., Canada, the entire EU, New Zealand) open their doors to the tired, hungry masses of fleeing Americans, yearning to be free.


I dunno about the EU (each member nation has it's own emigration policies), but it's pretty easy to get into Canada, IIRC.
posted by delmoi at 12:34 PM on October 2, 2004


also, beth needs a new boyfriend.
posted by delmoi at 12:34 PM on October 2, 2004


If one person has $10 and another person has $1, and they share a country together and agree to "split the tab", which one of the two is *really* doing the "sharing?"

If five people have $10 each,and six people have $1 each, and they have an election to determine how the tab should be split, have they really agreed on anything?
posted by Kwantsar at 12:40 PM on October 2, 2004


Er, I really should not have let him out of the dungeon. Sorry, folks. Back into shackles he goes. He cooks well, so I will keep him for the time being.

If I were free to leave the U.S., I would gladly flee to Europe. As it is I am stuck in one place due to my child living with her dad, who likes it right here. Alas.
posted by beth at 4:54 PM on October 2, 2004


Jeremy Rifkin talks a lot about subjects he doesn't know a lot about. Check out his other books and the reviews on Amazon.

He knows enough to be dangerous, can write well and appeal to the layperson, preaches to the choir .. but the substance is shallow and relies a lot on "damned statistics" and hyperbole. If I was looking for expert commentary on this subject (or the 5 other unrelated subjects he's written about recently) I would only choose Rifkin if I wanted to cry on someones shoulder and tell me how right I am for being pessimistic.
posted by stbalbach at 4:58 PM on October 2, 2004


.. the narrowing gap between rich and poor ...

Bollocks bonaldi. Income inequality in America is grotesque and worsening. Why not do a bit of research before tossing out your pithy-yet-wrong sarcastic throwaways?
posted by dmt at 7:03 PM on October 2, 2004


Frankly the whole article is utter nonsense. I suppose to a certain degree it is predicated on the silly idea some Americans hold about Europe - that it is, like the US, a homogenous entity, with a relatively homogenous culture. Most people in Europe remain first and foremost Germans, Greeks, Czech and so on, first and European very much second. It is entirely misleading to talk about a European dream, set out by the EU constitution, as being held by any more than some parts of the political elite of european countries or the bureaucracy in Brussels. Trying to present it in the same context as the American Dream - a broadly held social concept - is pure spin.

Equally it comes as no surprise to discover that the author works as an advisor to Romano Prodi, the president of the EU and someone with a deep interest in playing up the idea of a culturally and politically unified europe.

This is a puff piece based on a distinctly dodgy premise. If you want to argue about the work/ life balance in the US or equalities/inequalities in wealth you shouldn't cloud your discussion with this nonsense.
posted by prentiz at 7:11 PM on October 2, 2004


I dunno about the EU (each member nation has it's own emigration policies), but it's pretty easy to get into Canada, IIRC.

As someone who is doing just this, I can tell you it isn't nearly as easy as it sounds. The registration fee is $1,000 -- and that doesn't guarantee you'll get in. There are point values assigned to various questions (Do you have a university degree? Do you have family in Canada? etc.) and if you don't have the minimum points necessary, as well as 4 months living expenses up-front in cash, you don't get in.

And while there are ways to get in to the EU, it's -- (ugh) -- "really hard work"! I found a way to get into Holland, but I wouldn't be able to work in my field. Guess the only thing to do is get incredibly rich and famous here, then try again.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:17 PM on October 2, 2004


Those who rail against income inequality in the US without noting income mobility are at best uninformed, and at worst terribly disingenuous.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:51 PM on October 2, 2004




dmt: I was talking about Europe, as was amberglow before me and dash-slot before him. Why not do a bit of reading before approaching the keyboard with venom at your fingertips? Good links, though.

talos: Is that common where you are? A lot of people here think that a tighter Europe is one where those things are on the increase, not decrease. Europe, because it is divorced from local disputes, I guess, is good at passing socialist legislation. Like the Working Time Directive, which made many people's working lives much better ... but which was fought all the way by the British government and half-heartedly implemented with caveats and get-outs all the way.
posted by bonaldi at 11:22 PM on October 2, 2004


As for debates on social mobility and inequality in the U.S., I've been reccomended this book, The State of Working America. Mefite Rich Lyon has noted in previous conversations that in the United States, "the poor are less likely to exit poverty in any one year than the poor in Canada, Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and the UK - and if they do they are more likely to re-enter poverty in 5 years." (references below)

No one here is uninformed, let alone " terribly disingenuous"...unless you are talking about those who ignore current scientific research and continue to harp on myths of an America long gone?

Once there probably was have been greater social mobility in the New World than the Old (though it wasn't as open a society as myths would have you believe). But the days of free homesteads and increasing real wages are over - Americans are increasingly falling into poverty and staying there. Rather than refusing to acknowledge it, wouldn't you rather be constructive and try to help solve this problem? If I were an American, and loved my country, I would want it to be the best in the world, including criticising it with all the vigour of love when it failed to live up to its ideals.
posted by jb at 12:05 AM on October 3, 2004


I dunno about the EU (each member nation has it's own emigration policies), but it's pretty easy to get into Canada, IIRC.

As someone who is doing just this, I can tell you it isn't nearly as easy as it sounds. The registration fee is $1,000 -- and that doesn't guarantee you'll get in. . .
And while there are ways to get in to the EU, it's -- (ugh) -- "really hard work"! I found a way to get into Holland, but I wouldn't be able to work in my field. Guess the only thing to do is get incredibly rich and famous here, then try again.


So true. Canada is a bit easier, but I'm not one for cold winters! I've seriously looked into emigrating to the EU, and it is not at all easy. For the UK, you basically have to have to have a UK company agree to hire you - but no company will hire you unless you have a work permit - which you cannot get unless a company agrees to hire you. So a bit of a catch-22. Unless one is independently wealthy (I think the minimum is 1 million pounds), it is a real chore.

These "love it or leave it" people are basically talking out their asses, and have no idea what is involved.
posted by sixdifferentways at 12:48 AM on October 3, 2004


It's hard for Americans to get into the UK, I think this is largely on a 'tit for tat' basis as its pretty hard for Brits to get work permits in the US. We can't even go in the green card lottery.
Naturally, it you're from anywhere else in the EU it's a lot easier to come here.
Personally I just love the EU as they have been paying my wages for the last 2+ years. Without them I wouldn't be able to spend nearly as much of my working life here.
posted by biffa at 5:52 AM on October 3, 2004


bonaldi: You have my apologies - I mistook your comment for sarcasm and it stuck in the craw a bit. Will be a little less hot to trot in future....
posted by dmt at 5:55 AM on October 3, 2004


We can't even go in the green card lottery

The green card diversity lottery is only for countries that have low levels of "normal" immigration (and Ireland). The UK sends over a lot of immigrants through marriage, other family-based applications, and work-visas morphing to permanent residency, so it's not eligible for the lottery.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:39 AM on October 3, 2004


Sell everything, and move now! Act now before this offer expires!

Did that a couple of years ago. The US wouldn't let me sponsor my gf for immigration, because gay couples have zero rights under current US policy; the UK would let her sponsor me, so it was a no-brainer.

I have no regrets. The way things are going over there, I can't imagine going back. I can't wait to get my British passport.
posted by Tholian at 2:17 PM on October 3, 2004


sixdifferentways: I've seriously looked into emigrating to the EU, and it is not at all easy.

It's also not always that hard. I showed up in Berlin with a backpack and no job prospects in the Summer of 2000. Four years later, I still call Europe home (Austria, specifically), and am fully legal, with a residency visa and a working permit.
posted by syzygy at 4:55 AM on October 4, 2004 [1 favorite]


bonaldi: I can't find the relevant figures over the internet, but there has been a massive upwards redistribution of wealth in the EU after the Maastricht treaty. The EU has made privatizations and deregulations practically mandatory, while at the same time real economic policy is determined by the ECB, which is practically under no democratic control, except very, very indirectly.
True the EU has overseen changes in certain aspects of social policy that are progressive, but these are secondary measures and part of an economic policy... I expect that after the rollback of the Thatcher years these might offer quite a bit of relief...
Unless the EU's "democratic deficit" is eliminated, the ECB will continue to shift Europe towards the American model. However to truly eliminate this, we need to start talking about a united and federal Europe, which after the recent expansion, seems less likely than ever...
posted by talos at 6:20 AM on October 4, 2004


And when reading that PDF from the census bureau above, please keep in mind that the "Top Quintile" only goes up to people who make $300,000 a year. The Census Bureau does not track statistics for people who make more than that - something like 150,000 or more folks claim $1 million or more income in a year among them - because they don't feel that small number of people is statistically significant.

The problem with that is, that the GREATEST upward income mobility has been among those "statistically insignificant" incredibly wealthy people in the last 10 years or so, - so, they have the most money with which to influence government policy. For instance, instituting huge tax cuts to the very very wealthy.

Estimates vary wildly, but it's clear that the vast majority - on the order of 80%, perhaps - of the wealth of America is now owned by the top 1% income percentile. It's more like there's one guy with $10,000, and 9 guys with $1 each, and the one with $10,000 is getting the other 9 to buy his lunch for him.

See here for some thought food.
posted by zoogleplex at 11:45 AM on October 4, 2004


Estimates vary wildly, but it's clear that the vast majority - on the order of 80%, perhaps - of the wealth of America is now owned by the top 1% income percentile.

Estimates are wrong.

About half of all corporate equity in the US is held by pension funds or one sort or another, other mutual funds, governments, and insurance companies. This alone would make it impossible for the wealthiest 1% of Americans to own 80% of US wealth.

The top 1% of wealth-owners* own about 1/3 of the net worth in the US, according to federal surveys, primarily in the form of unincorporated businesses. But that's from net worth calculated from casual conversation; I don't know how far I'd trust survey evidence for that. In particular, I don't know how they deal with people in defined-benefit pension plans, where you don't have $X in an account somewhere earning interest -- you just pay contributions in exchange for the promise of future payments to you.

*This is different from income. A farmer might be wealthy, and have relatively high net worth, but poor, because he uses his assets to generate a paltry or even negative income.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:05 PM on October 4, 2004


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