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All Da King's Men

What's So Great About European Socialism ?

By Da King Published: November 2, 2008

Liberals have an affinity for the big government nanny-statism of socialist Europe. Don't ask me why. It doesn't make much sense to me, but that's the way it is. However, if a Conservative actually uses the word "socialist" to describe liberal socialist policies, liberals become apoplectic. Don't ask me to explain that one either. That makes even less sense. I mean, it's not like The Communists of the old USSR bridled at being called Communists. Of course they didn't. They WERE Communists. They were proud of it. They thought their way was the best (wrong, comrade, but nice try). Yet liberals, who propose one collectivist, socialist, big government policy after another, take umbrage at being called Socialists. I don't get it. It's as if liberals are afraid to air their true beliefs in public, for fear they will be exposed. Why ? Let's stop all the game playing, and call a spade a spade. Let's measure European socialist policy against American free-market capitalist policy. Maybe we can discover which policy works the best (the question was actually settled long ago, but apparently, liberals keep forgetting).

Back in 2004, a pair of Swedish economists, Fredrik Bergstrom and Robert Gidehag, did a study called "The EU vs. USA", for the Swedish think tank Timbro. You may recall that Sweden is one of those European socialist countries that liberals like to point to as a model of success, a country we should pattern ourselves after.

So, how did the USA stack up to the European Union in the study ? I'm glad you asked. Here are the results:

[The study] found that if Europe were part of the U.S., only tiny Luxembourg could rival the richest of the 50 American states in gross domestic product per capita. Most European countries would rank below the U.S. average, as the chart below shows.

The authors admit that man doesn't live by GDP alone, and that this measure misses output in the "black" economy, which is significant in Europe's high-tax states. GDP also overlooks "the value of leisure or a good environment" or the way prosperity is spread across a society.

But a rising tide still lifts all boats, and U.S. GDP per capita was a whopping 32% higher than the EU average in 2000, and the gap hasn't closed since. It is so wide that if the U.S. economy had frozen in place at 2000 levels while Europe grew, the Continent would still require years to catch up. Ireland, which has lower tax burdens and fewer regulations than the rest of the EU, would be the first but only by 2005. Switzerland, not a member of the EU, and Britain would get there by 2010. But Germany and Spain would need until 2015, while Italy, Sweden and Portugal would have to wait until 2022.

Higher GDP per capita allows the average American to spend about $9,700 more on consumption every year than the average European. So Yanks have by far more cars, TVs, computers and other modern goods. "Most Americans have a standard of living which the majority of Europeans will never come anywhere near," the Swedish study says.

Americans are richer, have more disposable income, and have greater economic growth, by far.

Europeans have a black market. That's what happens when freedom is forced underground.

Only Ireland, which has emulated the American ideals of lower taxes and fewer regulations, is catching up economically to the good old USA. Conclusion - freedom works, and top-down government control is a piss-poor substitute.

But what about that "fairness" and "spreading the wealth" that Barack Obama is always trumpeting ? Again, I'm glad you asked. Here's more from the study:

The percentage of Americans living below the poverty line has dropped to 12% from 22% since 1959. In 1999, 25% of American households were considered "low income," meaning they had an annual income of less than $25,000. If Sweden--the very model of a modern welfare state--were judged by the same standard, about 40% of its households would be considered low-income.

In other words poverty is relative, and 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.

So what is Europe's problem? "The expansion of the public sector into overripe welfare states in large parts of Europe is and remains the best guess as to why our continent cannot measure up to our neighbor in the west," the authors write. In 1999, average EU tax revenues were more than 40% of GDP, and in some countries above 50%, compared with less than 30% for most of the U.S.

And do I even need to mention that America provides military defense for Europe ? Europe is relieved of most of that huge burden, yet we are STILL doing far better than they are. Wake up and smell the coffee, America. We shouldn't be emulating THEM, they should be emulating US. The smart ones, like Ireland, are.

The American way is imperfect, of course. All systems are imperfect, but America's way is FAR better than the European way, and far better than any other way that has been devised. Yet, liberals, including Barack Obama, keep wanting to emulate the inferior model. Lord knows why. I don't speak liberal, but I do know this - doing it in the name of "fairness" is extremely misguided.

It's said that harsh economic times are when it's mostly likely for a people to embrace the wrong philosophy. There are numerous examples of that throughout history. That's what I think we are about to do here, by embracing Obama as a backlash against Bush (who governed as a big government, big spender, people. Again, wake up. It's not about R vs. D). Obama's a nice guy, good public speaker, well intentioned and all, but he's just wrong - end of story.

Be careful what you ask for America, because you just might get it. In fact, you are only a couple days away from getting it. Good luck with that. You'll need it.



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