I think this might make interesting reading for our European “friends.” haha
[quote]Cowboy Capitalism: European Myths, American Reality
Book from Cato Institute
Release date: 25 September, 2004
In his fascinating recent book Cowboy Capitalism German journalist Olaf Gersemann looks at the myths which many Europeans hold dear about America and why the American capitalist system is such a bad thing compared to their European economic system. One might wonder how they can think these things given the obvious numerical indicators like their lower GDP growth (or none at all), enormously higher unemployment and much lower productivity, but apparently deriding America based on pure fantasy is part of their cultural mindset. A lot of these myths have been embraced by the left here in America as well. Gersemann does us all a great service by puncturing them once and for all with the lancet of fact.
Here are some examples of myths debunked from Cowboy Capitalism:
Myth: The U.S. unemployment rate is lower than that of the European Union largely because America imprisons a greater proportion of its citizens.
Fact: The growth in the number of prison inmates in the United States contributed only about .1 to .2 percentage points to the reduction of unemployment between 1985 and 1998. The actual difference in unemployment between most European countries and the US is, of course around 4 full points, nowhere near that .1 or .2 percent
Myth: America is a stratified society with a small handful of wealthy individuals and lots of low-income families, with no middle class in between.
Fact: Measured in 2002 dollars, the share of U.S. households that made $35,000 to $100,000 was 44.5 percent in 2002. That makes the middle class the single largest segment in the US population by a large margin.
Myth: In the U.S. the rich do not pay their fair share of taxes.
Fact: The top 10% of high-income US households pay 65% of all income tax while in Germany that top 10% pays under 50% of the income tax and other European countries follow similar patterns of having very small wealthy classes which pay very little real tax.
Myth: In the U.S. the poor are growing more numerous.
Fact: Between 1972 and 2002 the share of U.S. households with under $35,000 income per year, adjusted for inflation, declined from 44.9% to 40.6%. BTW, that poverty level is higher than the average income in most European nations.
Myth: European welfare provides better for the most needy compared to the U.S. system.
Fact: The poorest 30% on welfare rolls in the U.S. receive 40% of the total benefits paid. In comparison the poorest third receive only 20% in Italy and 30% in France and Germany. This means that the US system weights distribution of welfare more towards the most poor than do European systems. In addition, the official poverty level in the US is almost double that of most European nations when adjusted for relative consumer prices, yet our total number of poor is no higher and the quality of life for our poor is enormously better.
Myth: Living standards are higher in Europe than the U.S.
Fact: The U.S. has the highest living standard of any industrialized country. Adjusted for consumer price index, the 2003 per capita U.S. income was 36% higher than France, 42% higher than Germany and 44% higher than Italy.
Myth: Long term unemployment is a chronic U.S. problem and European job creation is better.
Fact: In the U.S. in 2003, 65% of the unemployed found new work within three months. In France it was 26%, Germany 17% and Italy 12%. The jobless rate in each of the three nations has been consistently higher than the highest U.S. unemployment rate (6%) since 1980.
Myth: American wealth is an illusion which hides massive personal debt.
Fact: While Americans do carry high credit card debt, the average American family is not imperiled by that debt, and in fact increased net worth by 50% between 1989 and 2002.
Myth: In America many people need two or three jobs to make ends meet.
Fact: In 2003, 5.3% of all employed Americans had more than one job, primarily by choice not by necessity. The choice to work harder and more hours is part of what raises American productivity so much higher than other nations, and gives us such a high per capita income. Only 1.5% of Americans had a second job through necessity. In Germany in 2003, 2.4% of employed people had multiple jobs by necessity.
Gersemann makes most of his direct comparisons with Germany, but the trends are similar in France, Italy and Spain as well as many of the smaller countries. The same trends do not hold true for the most capitalist nations in Europe - Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
So, the next time a Europhilic Leftist turns up his nose at the oppressive capitalist regime here in America and how our wealthy plutocrats ride over the plundered bodies of our mass of poor and oppressed people, point out to them that in every category of comparison Americans are better off than the equivalent class in Europe and that we have fewer poor, fewer unemployed, less disparity of wealth, an enormously higher standard of living - and then laugh when you tell them we pay about 30% lower taxes too.[/quote]