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Europe is socialist, bloated and a threat to the global economy. That appears to be the message from the ongoing presidential campaign in the US. Republicans in particular have discovered Europe as a convenient punching bag -- and have even begun accusing each other of being too "European."
Lately, the Republican presidential candidates have taken it upon themselves to collectively portray Europe as a nightmarish fantasy world. Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have all made allegations that Europe is in the chokehold of socialism, burdened by large welfare systems and high taxes, an anathema to their vision for America.
Yet the GOP's portrayal of Europe as Kafkaesque and restrictive is nothing like the Europe that I, and hundreds of millions of other Europeans, know.
Last weekend, for instance, Mr. Santorum claimed that euthanasia accounted for "10 percent of all deaths for the Netherlands" and that, in half of those cases, patients are "euthanized involuntarily." But this statement has no basis in reality: euthanasia accounts for less than 1 percent of all deaths in the Netherlands.
Moreover, Dutch law states that no person can be euthanized unless they have expressed a desire to die on multiple occasions and at least two doctors confirm that the patient is either terminally ill or in unbearable pain.
In other European countries where assisted suicide is legal (Switzerland, Luxembourg and Belgium), laws are similarly strict. When it comes to discussing Europe, the Republican Party has a strong urge to ignore the facts and rely solely upon its invented European socialist bogeyman.
The Republicans' biggest bogeyman of all is not European, but the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"), which they claim is part of President Obama's wider "plot" to turn this country into a North American iteration of Sweden, because wanting healthy citizens is reprehensible and a guarantee of financial ruin.
Once again, the facts do not give any support to the Republican position. A 2009 report published in the American Journal of Public Health found that "lack of health insurance is associated with as many as 44,789 deaths per year in the United States," and a report by the World Health Organization ranked the American health care system as the most expensive in the world, which is hardly reflected in the fact that life expectancy in this country ranks 50th in the world, behind the "socialist" European Union.
Likewise, Republican assertions that "socialism" and financial crises go hand in hand also have no basis in fact.
The countries of southern Europe, the targets of these groundless claims, are not victims of socialist over-management but rather of a lack of adequate oversight and control.
As Harold Myerson pointed out in The Washington Post, the problems in Europe's most fiscally tormented nations "stem not from overspending but from a failure to regulate their banks."
Oddly, the more "socialist" nations of northern Europe are doing rather well. The Economist reported last July that Sweden's economy was growing by 6.4 percent annually and that public debt was at less than half of the nation's GDP.
In spite of these favorable numbers, Republicans continue to bash Sweden's socioeconomic policies, warning of the terrible consequences that a similar setup would have in the United States.
As usual, this perception has no connection to reality. The World Economic Forum—hardly a socialist organization—recently decreased the United States' ranking to fifth overall in competitiveness and 90th in macroeconomic stability globally. Ahead of the U.S. in competitiveness are Switzerland, Singapore, Sweden and Finland. All three of those European countries are social democracies, which does not negate their status as strong capitalist nations.
I'll be the first to admit that Europe is far from perfect, as are all other nations and regions. However, the idea that the Old World of Europe is home to tyrannical and oppressive nation-states is as far from reality as a misinformed fantasty.
Messrs. Romney, Gingrich and Santorum seem to typify the sad reality of the Republican Party today, in which selective ignorance is the norm. For the GOP, creating a foreign bogeyman to rail against is privileged over creating actual policies to deal with American problems.
Mr. Obama has been branded as a “European” by his G.O.P. rivals in the same way that some opponents once suggested he was a Muslim. And Mr. Romney has led the pack in what has become a theme of his campaign.
“He wants to turn America into a European-style entitlement society,” Mr. Romney said of the president back in January. “We want to ensure that we remain a free and prosperous land of opportunity.”
Originally posted by jonnywhite
Republicans believe that if someone else offers you too much help it will stun your development as an independent minded person. This means that instead of developing the skills necessary to exist on your own, you'll either develop them slower or you'll not develop them at all.
We don't give money to people who participated. We give money to people who contributed. And contribution is measured in strict terms, not in arbitrary ways that reward everyone.
The differnece between us and you is that we feel very strongly that we should not help someone unless they first help themselves. And even then we should be cautious about helping too much.
It fosters a world in which government is supposed to be weak. A world in which a person can be anything if they're able to do what's necessary. A world where individual responsibility is emphasized. If you mess up, there're consequences. Everyone is held accountable for their actions.
BUT somehow our government is big. Republicans blame this on democrats and liberalism. Sometimes they blame it on secularism. Sometimes they blame computers and technology. Whatever they blame, it usually involves blaming something that disconnected us from personal responsibility.
Independents can sometimes express opinions that're both parties.edit on 26-5-2013 by jonnywhite because: (no reason given)
No, we don't pay as much as most of Europe. We don't get nearly as much, either.
"If Americans knew what Swedes receive for their taxes, we would probably riot,"edit on 26-5-2013 by Cabin because: (no reason given)
Originally posted by TDawgRex
reply to post by Cabin
Anytime I see a politician compare the U.S. and European governments, I pretty much blow it off. Of course I have lived in Germany and traveled extensively throughout Europe. So I believe what my eyes and brain tell me.
They are two different experiments. But one must learn from the results. So far, there are no real riots throughout the U.S.
I would say that puts us up in the plus column.
Then again, we have the Dems and the Repubs doing their own experiment. Who knows where that will lead?
Originally posted by Cabin
many people believe it, especially less intelligent ones, who have not travelled -
Originally posted by MsAphrodite
reply to post by Cabin
No I'm looking at reality. What the system leads to, and therefore what the system really is. It is where all of the European system is headed and has landed. It's not great. It's not even good.