What anemic America can learn from Europe’s export-happy engine and largest social democracy
Nearly two years after the financial crisis brought the U.S. economy to its knees, more than 20 million Americans are either unemployed or underemployed and Congress can barely extend jobless benefits. Republicans propose the same old nostrums–tax cuts–while President Barack Obama burnishes his deficit hawk credentials. Nearly everyone in power appears content to return to the status quo, circa 2007, with a few tweaks in place.
Even worse, alternatives to U.S.-style capitalism — and its attendant inequality, poverty and instability — are harder than ever to glimpse, as the sovereign debt crisis across the Atlantic distracts U.S media and politicians, once again, from the impressive achievements of European social democracies. That’s a shame, because if we can’t imagine a better world, our political and economic status quo appears inevitable and uncontestable, much to the benefit of those in power.
Thankfully, we have Thomas Geoghegan’s new book Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?: How the European Model Can Help You Get a Life (The New Press, 2010) to remind us that things like tax cuts for the wealthy, a healthcare system controlled by corporations and privatized retirement schemes are not inevitable.
The book’s central mission–to detail a more humane form of capitalism — couldn’t be more relevant to overworked Americans quietly thinking to themselves, there has to be a better way. Indeed, there is: Contrary to apocalyptic U.S. news articles, European-style social democracy is not about to go extinct. Dig a little deeper and you’ll discover that Europe is not an undifferentiated mass of debt, socialist profligacy and unemployment.
Complete article here.