The right, which has lied for years about Canada's supposedly "broken" national health care system, has been doing the same thing about Europe's supposedly "dysfunctional," "socialistic" and "sclerotic" version of capitalism. Not exactly surprising, all things considered.
Author Steven Hill's new book, Europe's Promise: Why The European Way Is The Best Hope for An Insecure Age rebuffs many of the blatant lies we've heard for years about Europe's supposedly sclerotic economic system. Hill says he's been getting hate mail from the right since his eye-opening new book appeared.
This week Hill told CBS Radio Network commentator Dave Ross (on Ross' Seattle talk show) that the U.S. is rigidly locked into a "fundamentalist " version of capitalism.
Hill, who researched his impressive book in Europe for a decade, is director of the Political Reform program of the New America Foundation. He told Ross:
"We have the Wall Street form of capitalism. Europe has a broader, society-based form of capitalism that spreads profits around to society at large".
Europe, which has become the world's largest trading bloc, is often branded by Fox News-type know-nothings as the "sick old man" of western economies. Just the opposite is true, says Hill. "They've had far lower unemployment than the U.S. in the current recession. Europe has avoided millions of layoffs partly by getting people to work shorter work weeks instead of firing them, keeping money in people's pockets."
Europe's economies also spend far less than the U.S. on health care, Hill said on Ross' KIRO Radio show. He added that Germany's enlightened version of capitalism requires by law that 50% of corporate board members be elected by a company's workers. European corporations make up a big part of the Fortune 500," Hill noted, adding, "Europe has a vibrant capitalistic economy."
But it's different than ours. "It's far more broader-based. The U.S. distributes corporate profits to a tiny percentage of people, whereas European governments decided long ago that the wider community should also receive them."
"America is fixated on lower taxes," explains Hill, "and while Europeans do pay higher taxes, their child-care and health-care costs are far less than ours. It raises the standard of living for everyone."
Hill, whom New Yorker economics writer Hendrick Hertzberg calls " a reverse Alexis de Tocqueville," says former Treasury Secretary/Goldman Sachs alum Robert Rubin has been quoted as saying European-type enlightened capitalism wouldn't work here because "we're not focused on preserving jobs, but in creating new ones."
Hill noted that "Europe, ironically, learned about economic democracy from the U.S." through the Marshall Plan that helped Europe recover after World War II.
Jacob Hacker, author of "The Great Risk Shift: The New Economic Security and the Decline of the American Dream," reviewed Hill's cut-through-the -B.S. book by saying this:
"What can the United States learn from Europe? If you believe what's said in Washington, the answer is 'not much'. Hill's intelligent, broad-ranging, and deeply researched book says the correct answer is 'a great deal'-- and now is the time to learn it."
So, no matter what you hear from Fox News and the GOP's clown corps, Europe is definitely NOT "an old man" or "sclerotic." Hill:
"Europe's been far more pragmatic than we have about adjusting their economic systems to benefit a much broader section of their societies. The idea that Europe's economy is socialistic or failing is absurd. Europe is as capitalistic as we are. It has a vibrant, capitalistic economy."
But... one with a heart to go along with a brain.
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