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We need your help in getting the word out that America needs an EU style social safety net, will you please help?

As an American expat living in the European Union I am continually astonished to find that the folks back home seem to be unaware of the extensive social safety net that is available to workers, even low wage workers in the European Union from cradle to grave as a human right. So as a New Year's resolution I have written this diary which asks you to please help us spread the word that there is a better way.

Why don't you know the facts of the EU social safety net? Why won't the plutocrat owned American media cover this?

In the European Union everyone to include low wage workers who aren't even unionized are able to receive 4 weeks paid vacation a year. They are able to receive as a human right complete medical and dental to include a prescription plan with little or no co-pays or deductibles. They are never exposed to exclusion of medical services based on pre-existing conditions, which seems to be a uniquely American phenomenon. Everyone to include low wage workers gets paid sick leave. Everyone gets job protected paid maternity leave by right of law. Now why don't these things exist in America? Is it by accident or by design and if it is by design, who designed it? Who profits from it? To whose benefit and whose detriment. Moreover why isn't this on every news channel. Why is it you have to read about this on a Kos diary. Why isn't this news headlines all across the country everyday? Who owns those media outlets? Who influences editorial policy. Is the American media complicit in aiding and abetting Wall Street in screwing the American worker and screwing the American taxpayer. Why aren't we mad as hell about this everyday! When is it enough??

Here are some simple facts, simply put did you know that students in Continental Europe basically don't have student loan debt? Why don't you know that?

Isn't it enough that they're drowning your kids in student loan debt. You want to know something even crazier which I'm sure you don't know, did you know the lifetime limit of the Federal Stafford Student Loan hasn't been increased in over 20 years! Now why the hell is that? Who are they trying to keep out of higher education, could it be that if too many working class stiffs get too educated, that they will try to dismantle this system which is rotten to the core from the inside, because that's it isn't it. They want to limit educational opportunity to just their people on the one hand, on the other hand they want to drown you and your kids in student loan debt. Did you know this doesn't happen in any country in Continental Europe, I'm sure you don't know that. I want to know why you don't know that? Who has kept that information from you? And why? Did you know and this is serious, that education in Continental Europe is almost free. Let me just say that again, so that nobody thinks this is a typo, education in Continental Europe is almost free of charge that is to say, that American students probably spend as much or more on books, just books for the school year, than students in Continental Europe spend in an entire year's tuition. You may ask how is that possible? Let me ask you how is it possible that you didn't know that? Could it be so they can continue to drown you and your kids in student loan debt, because this has become a source of neo-indentured servitude, therein creating a really compliant workforce, because now you really need that job. You have got to pay off a lot of student debt, imagine that. Well you don't have to imagine that, you live it everyday, and you swallow it and you take it and you take it until you can't take it anymore, and then it's enough! Oh by the way those same students in Europe get virtually free health insurance and if they have a family they are covered as well. Again tiny or no co-pays or deductibles, no pre-existing conditions to exclude one from health care coverage.

Did you know that subsidies are normal throughout the European Union in support of family values? Why doesn't the American media report on this measurably?

Did you know throughout Europe subsizied childcare and subsidized eldercare is the norm. They have something else called child allowance which is also the norm. That is to say everybody who has a child gets help from the government to raise that child. But the rich plutocrat owned for profit American news media's propaganda preaching self-reliance is so pervasive I have to explain to you that everybody gets this in Europe even billionaires, it is not a poverty program it is a human right. I have also got to explain something to you, this is in addition to child tax credits. When you explain child allowance to Americans they always get massively confused and say we have child tax credits here too. Child allowance has nothing to do with child tax credits. It is something in support of real family values that you don't know anything about because the plutocrat owned American media won't report on it, but this Kos diary has. We are asking and pleading with you to help us get the word out which is while we can all be proud Americans, we don't have to be proud of the broken American social safety net do we. There we should, can and must do better!

Did you know that single people can get cash assistance so they can pay their rent in the European Union? Why don't you know that? Is this why America has 2.3 million people in jail?

In the European Union single people can get cash assistance in paying rent, did you know that? Even if they are not disabled. The reason I mention that is because single adults who are not disabled in America receive no cash from the government to pay rent, and therefore can wind up on the streets homeless. What that means is that there are millions of desperate people in America that wouldn't be desperate if America had a European social safety net. Why is that important? Because desperate people may take desperate measures and commit crimes. Now this is not to excuse criminal activity this merely recognizes that it is cheaper to fund a social safety net, than an expensive prison system. But then again the prison system there are too many people in America who make money off the prison system and have good paying jobs as a result of the prison system. They would lose that cushion if there was a strong social safety net. So it is there are 2.3 million people in America in prison and the American taxpayers pay for them to be in prison in a clear case where it is cheaper to send someone to go to Harvard University than for them to be in prison for a year. this is to say nothing of the fact that the taxpayers wind up subsidizing the families of these people who we put in prison. Did you know America has more people in prison per capita than anywhere in the European Union, why is that? Could it be that in the EU they have a social safety net. Did you know there are more people in jail in America than there are people on active duty in the US military? What a staggering loss of human potential this represents. It is an international badge of shame!

We need your help to get the word out, please support this New Year's resolution, thanks!

So this brief rant diary attempts to provide some basic information which is unavailable in the for-profit American plutocrat owned media which is rarely reported on except in the most forgettable sound bytes. Because the for profit American plutocrat owned media doesn't want to bite the hand that feeds it. Therefore this diary asks you the reader if you find value in what you have read, to please help us spread the word by sending this diary and ones like it to family and friends, or connecting up with Facebook or other social media. This diary also encourages you to write a diary which is informative on the same lines as this one, or to give your opinion about how you feel about this issue? Let's support a New Year's resolution that says we are going to get the word out, that change needs to come to America now. It is not acceptable to have your pension stolen. It is not acceptable to be living in underwater mortgages where they concurrently can drown you and your kids in student loan debt. Threaten you with medical bankruptcy as part of a rigged system, where they play with marked cards, where the only way to win is not to play their crooked game, because if you sit down at the table you will lose. The game is designed to make you lose. Casinos are built with the money of losers. Be a winner, don't play their crooked game! Don't allow yourself to be brainwashed by their media. Don't elect millionaires to Congress or other high political offices. Support real change!

"Harvard Medical Study Links Lack of Insurance to 45,000 U.S. Deaths a Year:"

Originally posted to Democrats Ramshield on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 01:47 AM PST.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement.

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  •  Tip Jar (256+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    adversus, tinhut, Defiler, Sedro, doornob, Mostel26, farmerchuck, Egalitare, hannah, youngsalt, nuclear winter solstice, dadadata, wvmom, Joe Bacon, Matt Z, theKgirls, expatjourno, nomandates, pfiore8, LaFeminista, kumaneko, Trendar, Forward is D not R, reginahny, arizonablue, unclejohn, ask, politik, RichterScale, ocular sinister, OnlyWords, ChemBob, statsone, mmacdDE, pioneer111, kestrel9000, ATFILLINOIS, Floande, Actbriniel, TexDem, LeislerNYC, DiegoUK, DerAmi, Persiflage, JonBarleycorn, Satya1, certainot, RFK Lives, PrahaPartizan, dance you monster, irate, Livvy5, frandor55, Azazello, JanL, paul2port, jimstaro, sunny skies, ay88, The BigotBasher, CTPatriot, pickandshovel, Crazy like a fox, Miggles, kait, raines, Cuseology, dotsright, Amber6541, xxdr zombiexx, Alice Olson, Sandino, zerone, lostinamerica, Burned, Mnemosyne, spiceagony, lastlegslaststand, frisbee, Gowrie Gal, pittie70, cocinero, Anthony Page aka SecondComing, The Hindsight Times, mkor7, kurious, Habitat Vic, kjoftherock, beverlywoods, LarisaW, aseth, grimjc, jamess, Thinking Fella, sc kitty, Agathena, Yellow Canary, jts327, GeorgeXVIII, fixxit, techno, rl en france, Chi, TomP, ER Doc, Trotskyrepublican, Cronesense, Flint, emal, gooderservice, Alumbrados, Spaghetti Western, KosKomposer, LucyGoose, Russgirl, gfv6800, zerelda, arlene, atana, ichibon, Babsnc, Captain Chaos, letsgetreal, Lorinda Pike, LamontCranston, Keone Michaels, Preston S, ladybug53, FrY10cK, Losty, randomfacts, catly, JDWolverton, Helpless, Einsteinia, ferg, middleagedhousewife, marina, Rogneid, VTCC73, Margd, Terra Mystica, DamselleFly, Moderation, opinionated, CTDemoFarmer, maybeeso in michigan, berko, flowerfarmer, ozsea1, A Siegel, triplepoint, kevin k, DEMonrat ankle biter, Diana in NoVa, AllanTBG, tofumagoo, where4art, estreya, LABobsterofAnaheim, Lucy2009, DawnN, rapala, JekyllnHyde, BlueDragon, ajr111240, createpeace, Meteor Blades, monkeybrainpolitics, Oye Sancho, LillithMc, glbTVET, Medium Head Boy, bnasley, Steveningen, greengemini, AverageJoe42, Vayle, Involuntary Exile, PhilW, mikidee, Miss Jones, radarlady, jim d, Leo in NJ, high uintas, james321, Susan from 29, Karl Rover, mumtaznepal, Larsstephens, Karelin, out of left field, Quantumlogic, BYw, Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, Cintimcmomma, seefleur, big annie, Ecclesiastaverbs, ruleoflaw, raincrow, BusyinCA, Carlo, Bluefin, SanFernandoValleyMom, antirove, historys mysteries, scarlet slipper, socalmonk, millwood, Wonton Tom, Sunspots, Jim R, Tommymac, roses, Broke And Unemployed, RagingGurrl, retLT, Libby Shaw, Themistoclea, caliberal2001, blueoasis, lexington50, ItsaMathJoke, begone, Debs2, strangedemocracy, calibpatriot, cwsmoke, profundo, mollyd, Anima, Kingsmeg, deviant24x, tiggers thotful spot, AbominableAllStars, impatient, Funkygal, markthshark, AllisonInSeattle, Louise, ArtemisBSG, Stripe, BarackStarObama, Raggedy Ann, Statusquomustgo, Mosquito Pilot, emmasnacker, Pinto Pony, kyril, 88kathy, Ed in Montana, radical simplicity, Oh Mary Oh, splashy

    sig...You just ran into a hardcore progressive who's just another working stiff with an MBA degree & therefore a vociferous labor union supporter [smile]

    by Democrats Ramshield on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 01:47:23 AM PST

  •  Nicely Laid Out (8+ / 0-)

    I wasn't aware that single people get allowances for rent.  I can see where that would help, but I'm curious, is there some regulation that governs it?

    In America, I can see someone wanting a housing subsidy just so they can afford a NICE apartment, rather than simply an average (or even below average) apartment.  

    For example, my wife and I currently rent, and to be honest we rent what's considered a "luxury" apartment, which is almost as much as a mortgage (or in some cases more).  I have friends that pay 50% of what my rent is.

    What's to stop someone from claiming that living in a luxury apartment is deemed worthy of a government subsidy? Or do they not make that distinction?

    It's a good idea, so please don't confuse my comment as bashing on their safety net.  I'm just curious how those concerns are dealt with.

    •  to adversus - I don't know about luxury apts (61+ / 0-)

      I know they are serious about fighting homelessness here in the EU. They are not serious about fighting homelessness in America. They want there to be armies of homeless families on the streets as a living, walking, breathing advertising of what terrible things can befall you in America if you don't play the game and refuse to be drafted into poverty low wage servitude, you can wind up on the streets with your family living in a horror show.

      To ensure this happens there are no rent controls in America that are substantial in the private housing market, except through a mediocre patchwork. The centerpiece of it all is to ensure that single adults cannot get cash assistance to pay rent, because that ensures that you will take  a low wage job that doesn't provide paid sick leave, paid annual leave, medical, which doesn't provide any benefits whatsoever.

      Public housing in America has such a terrible reputation that basically no one wants to live in it. We can do so much better. There is a better way and it involves government regulating the housing market through local govt councils just like in Europe. It can be done, it just isn't being done. Because they want people to be able to fall straight to the bottom so they are desperate enough to take jobs that provide no benefits at all. AT least that is my humble opinion.

      sig...You just ran into a hardcore progressive who's just another working stiff with an MBA degree & therefore a vociferous labor union supporter [smile]

      by Democrats Ramshield on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 02:14:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  UK Housing benefit (19+ / 0-)

      Yes you can get rent help even if you are a single person. It is not wildly generous. But it exists.

      As an example from Britain you can look at the official webpage for the UK Goverenment  and the help page by SHELTER the leading UK chariy on homelessness.

      If you are buying your house in certain circumstances you can get help in paying the interest charges on your home loan. This cuts down on the number of repossessions and evictions. SHELTER gives you the information on this too...

      Also there are local taxes most people have to pay and again low paid people can get exemptions from paying these taxes... again there are limits but the possibility does exist.

      There are other benefits which can apply so the situation can get quite complex...

      Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.

      by saugatojas on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 06:07:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Govt. helping people stay in their homes--what an (37+ / 0-)

        odd idea.  Govt. preventing a downward spiral in home values that hurts everyone--an even odder idea.  Govt. actually helping people instead of merely bailing out banks--that Cameon obviously is a socialist, and Thatcher was one, too.

        In this country, there's a bipartisan consensus against maintaining existing levels of SS and Medicare benefits.  The very idea of programs like those you cited would be supported by 1 senator and a handful of House members.  The executive would dismiss them as the pipedreams of "the professional left."

        I never thought at the time that Reagan was setting the template for decades to come.

        Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

        by RFK Lives on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 06:28:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Expanding A Vast Underclass Is Goal Of 1% (20+ / 0-)

          The financial industry desires more and more Americans to be working from paycheck to paycheck, it is about control as much as profits.

          Existence is no more than the precarious attainment of relevance in an intensely mobile flux of past, present, and future.~~~ Susan Sontag

          by frandor55 on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 06:39:20 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  RFK - What's happened here is important pls help (9+ / 0-)

          You see this is the perplexing that hits Americans and you're reaction is completely classic. The idea of working people getting assistance from the government with their mortgages so they don't lose their homes is unimaginable. That conservative governments in Britain do stuff like this is unthinkable. Yet it exists and people like yourself will almost never be able to find out about this.

          The fact you were able to find out about it and see your reaction to it is a rare treat and I hope that people will pay very close attention to your post, because your reaction is basically a classic reaction of how Americans react in amazement and bewilderment at the fact that this information has been withheld from them. You didn't know today, that is clear from your remarks. Do you realize if we could get this information to enough people like yourself we would change America. But we can't get this information to enough people like yourself.

          There is no vehicle to do it in the for profit media so we are down to this Daily Kos diary wherein not that many people will read your remarks. In fact the whole diary is likely to get under 2,000 views. Therefore we can't get the word out about this, so we need your help and the help of everyone reading this to speak out about what it is you saw today happening on this diary. To start writing diaries yourself about this. To speak out in the letters to the editor of your local paper. To call in to local radio shows and tell them what you've seen happen on this diary. You are seeing people change. Your seeing lives change.  If we can get this information to enough people America will change in election year. The question is will you help us get the word out please. Thanks.

          sig...You just ran into a hardcore progressive who's just another working stiff with an MBA degree & therefore a vociferous labor union supporter [smile]

          by Democrats Ramshield on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 02:11:45 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  come a long way (4+ / 0-)

          from when ketchup first became a vegetable for school lunch.

          the way europe is going lately, one wonders whether the health care systems can take the strain of increasingly RW governments' austerity and the growing tsunami of preventable diseases from all social levels, but especially from the poor, often eating lamentable choices for food, and with little psychological support for the mentally ill, insalubrious living conditions, and a boiling magma of rage from being advertised to ad nauseam to become entitled little consumers, then introduced to the reality that they could see but they just couldn't touch...

          there is without doubt a strongly concerted effort on the part of the 1% in europe to head the 99% back to a crueller, devil-take-the-hindmost model such as practiced in the USA, where pharma ads get more network tv time than britney spears or lindsay lohan doing the serial trainwreck thing.

          DR's diaries are great, i love them, but i do worry how long europe will be able to continue providing this level of health service.

          my preference would be that as much or more energy is directed towards a cleanly grown, sustainable agriculture policy. dietary wisdom taught from early on would preclude so very much of our need for huge, complicatedly bureaucratic health systems in the first place.

          that way we could fix many of our social problems upriver from the huge clusterfuck of post-industrial age obesity,  cancer and mental disturbance epidemics we are deluged with in the first world.

          maybe america following DR's advice would help turn the tide back towards more socially conscious policies in Europe, policies which were put in place by nervous plutocrats concerned that europeans would be seduced by the utopian promises of communism after the great wars.

          throw 'em a bone, quick!

          why? just kos..... *just cause*

          by melo on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 05:26:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  healthcare (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dietary wisdom taught from early on would preclude so very much of our need for huge, complicatedly bureaucratic health systems in the first place.

            Honestly, I don't think so.
            I even generally reject "dietary wisdom". Any miner or lumberjack from a hundred years back in time would laugh is rear end off seeing today's dietary advice. What is recommended today is not in any way close to what people have been eating for millennia. Obesity sure is a problem, but that's lack of exercise then.

            I believe there will be a point at which we will have to limit healthcare benefits, to "treatments available before 20XX or cheaper for the same condition". People are getting older, and can be kept alive by expensive treatment longer, and there will be a breaking point for the system. Hopefully, that will be at some bearable state.

            Freedom is not just a word. 'Freedom' is a noun.

            by intruder from Old Europe on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 09:08:39 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Rec'd for your first paragraph (0+ / 0-)

              Your second paragraph, however, is off the mark.

              Imagine if we'd seen this coming and drawn the cutoff date at...say, 1990. Imagine the human suffering and the cost to society that would have ensued if people with HIV couldn't access the newer ARV drugs that not only help them live full and rewarding lives, but also reduce the rate of HIV transmission. Wouldn't that have been awful?

              Schizophrenia, epilepsy, and bipolar disorder have also seen enormous advances in pharmacological treatment over the last 20 years or so. These are advances that actually reduce the cost of these conditions to society (despite the higher drug costs) because people who were resistant to previous treatments are now treatable and can work and live independently.

              There's no reason to believe that we have reached, or will reach in the near future, any sort of upper limit on revolutionary medical advances. The field of bioengineering is very new, and bioengineered treatments are still only on the horizon, but there's a ton of promise there - for instance, transplants created in the lab using tissue grown from a patient's own cells, while they incur a one-time cost, have the potential to save us the economic and human cost of keeping transplant patients on a lifetime regimen of anti-rejection drugs.

              "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

              by kyril on Sun Jan 08, 2012 at 07:23:45 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  You are of course morally right. (0+ / 0-)

                But there's no arguing with reality. If the system should ever become impossible to fund (which I hope it never will, but suspect it will), there will be some rationing, cuts, exclusions. We would then see which ones.

                Freedom is not just a word. 'Freedom' is a noun.

                by intruder from Old Europe on Sun Jan 08, 2012 at 10:20:37 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  melo - EU conservatives are to the left of US Dems (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Please remember that throughout Europe labor unions are very strong. This coupled with the fact that political parties in Europe as a whole en masse are left of America are an important fact to remember. Let me just say that again, to be clear even the conservative parties in Europe are to the left of progressive democrats.

            Does that give some sense of how far right America has slipped when we compare it to other major industrialized countries.

            sig...You just ran into a hardcore progressive who's just another working stiff with an MBA degree & therefore a vociferous labor union supporter [smile]

            by Democrats Ramshield on Sun Jan 08, 2012 at 12:11:58 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  to saugatojas - well said (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ER Doc, Russgirl

        Thanks for the support and info.

        sig...You just ran into a hardcore progressive who's just another working stiff with an MBA degree & therefore a vociferous labor union supporter [smile]

        by Democrats Ramshield on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 08:36:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  It is my understanding (0+ / 0-)

        that the assistance for a single person in Britain under 25 is based on renting a room, not an apartment, a room.

        Also, if you make excess income your housing assistance gets reduced by 65% of the excess.

        Also I think you have to be connected to an area to get assistance from your council. You can't move from Manchester to London and get housing help in London.

        [Some councils in London are paying up to 40,000 pounds to buy off expensive housing benefit claimants.]

        Under international law, refugees have full (same as resident) welfare entitlement and don't have to establish an area connection.

        •  Nothing wrong with living in a room (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BusyinCA, kyril

          - aka a studio apartment - when you're young and single.

          I lived in what was known as a bedsit for many years in London.

        •  More on UK benefits (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Yes there are caps to certain benefits. It is sometimes hard to work out the impact as there are a number of benefits schemes some of which are mutually exclusive (that is if you get benefit A you cannot claim benefit B). This makes it hard to work out the best plan and creates administrative quagmires.

          The bedrock principle of UK welfare is supposed to be that nobody should drop below a minimum level of income. One of the benefits in the complex is Income Support.

          As the government website says:

          Income Support is extra money to help people on a low income. It’s for people who don't have to sign on as unemployed. Whether you qualify or not and how much you get depends on your circumstances.

          So someone moving from unemployed to employed status could find themselves shifing between benefits and it is easy to loose track of what is best to do.

          And yes certain benefits are administered by local authorities and if you move between authorities you have to go through administrative changes. For the claimant the work involved can be of the same complexity as filling in an income tax return. This is not a bed of roses over here.

          Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.

          by saugatojas on Sun Jan 08, 2012 at 12:59:46 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  The Danish system (7+ / 0-)

        I'll try to chip in from Denmark. The systems vary a lot between countries, both in conditions for aid and aid levels.

        I also have to say that I never received housing benefits, so this is only in general terms, and I might have gotten a few details wrong:

        There are two systems, somewhat overlapping. One is for people on wellfare (out of a job and not on unemployment insurance) and one that covers all low income families.

        The latter will cover a proportion of you rent, but to qualify you have to be under a certain income threshold. For singles this is quite low. Additionally the size of appartments you can receive housing support for is capped. I think max room number is the number of adults in the households + 1. I have forgotten how kids are figured into this, but they are in some way. The number of square feet is capped too.

        So is the price of the apartment.

        Basically the message is: If your home is too large or too expensive - downsize. If it is modest enough you can qualify for a benefit that will cover part of your rent. It is also possible to get a loan from the state for the deposit on a new apartment, subject to the same limitations in income, rooms and size.

        You cannot get support for morgage payment, and there is no scheme for foreclosure protection.

        For people on wellfare in principle your total monthly benefit will be regulated to cover your rent in full, also for singles, but the total amount people can receive is capped quite low, so unless you have a really cheap apartment you will end up having to cut the difference out of what you get for everything else.

        For home owners on welfare they can get the same amount paid out - but as a loan. On welfare you have to spend whatever assets you have before being able to receive benefits, and you will be expected to eat the value of your home first. So you won't have to sell (if you can manage the morgage on your very modest welfare level), but will end up with a debt to the state that has to be paid either when you are back in a job or when you sell the house. As a side note the authorities here have the right to withdraw the money from your salary if you have debt to the state.

        So in all the system is not very generous and there is an annoying amount of micromanagement and control, but still a hundred dollars or two extra a month are very feelable for people on low incomes.

        •  Please recommend Niels comment (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          This is great information. Do you realize that homeowners in America are unable to get any welfare whatsoever. They are forced to sell their homes and spend down their assets, but the major news flash here, is that single people can get for a modest apartment their rent paid, they don't have to wind up homeless if they cannot get a job. Whereas in America they want you to be drafted forcibly into what we Americans euphemistically call a "shit job."

          This provides a low wage, no paid sick leave, no paid annual leave, no paid maternity leave, it provides NO medical benefits, NO dental benefits. It is either that or live on the street. Amazingly some homeless people work these jobs full time and still can't get off the streets. In fact there are lots of working homeless people in America. It's America's dirty little secret!

          This type of thing in the EU would be illegal. It happens in America because they want to use this painful, draconian stick to force people to take no benefits, non-living wage "Shit Jobs." In plain English that is the unvarnished truth.

          sig...You just ran into a hardcore progressive who's just another working stiff with an MBA degree & therefore a vociferous labor union supporter [smile]

          by Democrats Ramshield on Sun Jan 08, 2012 at 12:19:14 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  @ 60 years old, I've been working since I was 14 (0+ / 0-)

            ...and have never had a job that offered dental benefits, or vision benefits.  At this point, I've spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on my teeth (and my eyes, including 3 surgeries) - and while I can see okay (so far), I now have no teeth, and can only eat food that requires NO chewing (mashed potatoes and yogurt, anyone?).  All that money, all that pain, for nothing!

            I had to give up my (functionally useless) medical insurance 10 years ago when the cost of it exceeded my mortgage payment.

            ANYTHING would be an improvement over the American "system"....


            by chmood on Sun Jan 08, 2012 at 08:08:57 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  housing benefits (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, Democrats Ramshield, kyril

      The diarist may be painting the EU a bit rosy, sorry to say that. There sure is poverty over here. Also, health insurance, housing benefits and university access, among other things, are handled differently in each of the member states. Rural Romania is widely different from Sweden or France for sure.

      About housing benefits, I can only speak for Germany, and even here I'm not that familiar with the topic.
      Last I heard, housing assistance was limited by both price and size of the rented apartment, in relation to household size. To receive benefits, a family of so-and-so many people would have to find an apartment smaller than so-and-so and cheaper than so-and-so, the "cheaper than" being tied to municipal average rent, for all I know. Of course, they can also only apply if making less than a certain amount of money.
      This is obviously a stupid regulation, in disallowing people to rent something cheap but spacious, like an unused attic or farm house, and it drove up demand and costs for small apartments. Municipalities are pushing to change that.

      Housing assistance is also available for homeowners who met hard times and are late on mortgage, but on that I don't know the details.

      On the good side, I recently read that homelessness has gone substantially down in Germany over past decades. I can only hope it will go down further and maybe be gone completely one day.
      Unfortunately, in past years, municipalities were encouraged to sell their community-funded cheap-housing units - mostly to US companies, at least some of which have been raising rent and slacking on repairwork since. I do hope we'll have more public housing again in the future.
      Good luck to you over there.

      Freedom is not just a word. 'Freedom' is a noun.

      by intruder from Old Europe on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 08:43:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Old Europe - Americans think what you said is rosy (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Obviously you have never seen the conditions of the American working poor. It is not on the same planet as what you described and compared to what you have described America's working poor live in hell, because you have just described the Garden of Eden.

        Can you imagine a poor waitress/waiter going to work everyday, serving expensive food to people, with a mouth full of rotten teeth where they are in pain everyday because they cannot go and see a dentist. Then that same person working full time has to sleep in their car because they are homeless. They hold cardboard signs up begging for help. Can you from your post even imagine that from the well off European Union which you think is not so rosy.

        Now to be clear Romania is pretty much still very much an Eastern European developing economy. But amazingly even in Romania people are still allowed to go to the doctor, what a difference.  

        sig...You just ran into a hardcore progressive who's just another working stiff with an MBA degree & therefore a vociferous labor union supporter [smile]

        by Democrats Ramshield on Sun Jan 08, 2012 at 12:25:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm just saying it's still earth here. (0+ / 0-)

          About American working poor: An ex-coworker lives in the US (very low-paid job, no insurance) and often complained about thoothache and being unable to pay a dentist for $150 or so. Yet they were building a house, which is something the working poor here would never dream of.

          Freedom is not just a word. 'Freedom' is a noun.

          by intruder from Old Europe on Sun Jan 08, 2012 at 10:15:48 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  The core issue is education (38+ / 0-)

    It's always easier to brainwash and confuse those without an adequate educational foundation. If progressives fail on this issue, the American educational system is destined to become even worse than it is today as such is the goal of our adversaries.

    Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction. -- Blaise Pascal

    by RJDixon74135 on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 03:34:22 AM PST

  •  If self-centeredness were genetic, (38+ / 0-)

    one could argue that Europe has been exporting its self-centered, anti-social population to the Americas for decades and that's how we ended up with them.

    In the alternative, it may be that self-centered individuals isolate themselves and seek out climes where they will be left alone.  But, this raises the question why they continue to proselytize and solicit support.  The answer, I suspect, is that, as a practical matter, it isn't possible for isolates to exist on their own (even hermits have to have their isolation respected).  So, independence is nothing more than a widely accepted fiction--the American dream.

    Independence is like a band-aid for the congenitally insecure.

    People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

    by hannah on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 03:58:20 AM PST

    •  To hannah - rec'd for an interesting comment (13+ / 0-)

      Please keep the interesting thoughts coming. Your post added value to our discussion here.

      sig...You just ran into a hardcore progressive who's just another working stiff with an MBA degree & therefore a vociferous labor union supporter [smile]

      by Democrats Ramshield on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 04:13:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  that's a very (4+ / 0-)

      interesting take on the "Americn way." Have to think about that for a bit, in various applications, but I 'spect you're pretty much spot on.

      Yesterday's weirdness is tomorrow's reason why. -- Hunter S. Thompson

      by Mnemosyne on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 07:11:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  if I understand your comment correctly (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina, blueoasis

      (which I am not sure of) I would disagree with you that Europe has exported its self-centered, anti-social population to the Americas for decades. I don't get that, even think it's quite an insult.

      So, explain to me, why European immigrants to the US are and have always been self-centered and anti-social? And that they have been "exported"? The majority came on its own, didn't they? For various reasons, like most migrants have them.

      Being anti-social is not one of them in most cases, I would think. That they by default found themselves being in a country that ended up being abusive and exploitative of its native population, that they ended up to believe in "capitalism" as their new religion (more out of pure survival necessity for most of the poor immigrants) was imo for many a situation they didn't expect to find themselves in, and not part of their genetic self-centered, anti-social make-up.

      May be I don't understand what you wanted to say.

      It's Time to Clean up the Mess. Do it. Occupy the Broom.

      by mimi on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 08:37:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with you here mimi (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mimi, blueoasis, kyril

        I think hannah's cast too wide a net. It's an interesting concept though.

        As you say, people came here for a variety of reasons--to seek relief from harassment, to claim farmland, to seek gold or other minerals, simply to explore, even to take advantage of those who came here for other reasons.

        I wouldn't necessarily equate being self-centered with being either selfish or independent either, in relation to conservatism, although there might be a correlation. It would be interesting to find a study on the subject, if one can measure such traits reliably.

        •  I guess I haven't understood what she/he meant (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blueoasis, kyril

          Wasn't there a rich elite that came as the first colonists, who clearly came to claim the land and exploit it for the empires

          Once they had the land they "bought" every miserable poor guy, who was hungry, in serfdom or under threat to be thrown into prison, with the notion that in American you can start a new life, a better one. The advertisements they sent over to Europe to "get people dreaming about a better life in America and a piece of land to farm on", started from the very beginning. And I believe they were as much brainwashing and misleading than they are today.

          Once the immigrants arrived, those immigrant saw that their situation was not quite what they had imagined. I don't want to know how many people were completely traumatized by what they had to face. How many million of immigrants entered America in the late nineteen hundreds and were poor? A lot.

          I don't see how one can call those immigrants anti-social and believe they were "exported". I rather see them as being "imported" just not as slaves, but certainly as working bees for the capitalists and industrialists. I see them "lured into a situation" out of which they couldn't get out. Wasn't it hard enough to get to America, how much more it must have been for the poor to get out and return to Europe once they discovered that the land and their life was not all milk and honey? They couldn't and the solution to their situation was to deny their own hardship and declare America to be the best country in the world. That's what your brain does, when it can't find another solution to handle hardship.

          Well, I guess, I had just a hick-up with the wording of the comment and that prevented me from thinking it through. I am a little soft brained, when it comes to thinking.

          It's Time to Clean up the Mess. Do it. Occupy the Broom.

          by mimi on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 07:09:30 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Not only Europe but Canada too (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and IMHO that's a much worse problem . . . .

    •  too simplistic (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jim d, out of left field, BYw, blueoasis, kyril

      many of Europe's policies are the result a a long historical struggle. Often, enlightened politicians understood very early that it is better to work with social and  labor demands instead of against them.

      A large part of the legal framework for social security (in the European sense) and labor regulation in Germany had been first introduced by Bismarck in the late 19th century.

      And, if nothing else, we were at the front line of the cold war with communism. Generations of European elites spent much of their ingenuity on thinking what they needed to do to prevent communist takeovers. Most of Europe's states - even the western ones - were at the verge of being taken over at some point in history.

      Meanwhile, American elites seem to think that they are completely safe regardless of whatever inflict upon their population.

    •  Pretty accurate summation (n/t) (0+ / 0-)


      by chmood on Sun Jan 08, 2012 at 08:11:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Why don't many Americans know these things? (41+ / 0-)

    Because they were brought up to believe what they see on TV. But they weren't brought up being reminded that GE owns TV. I remember a day when Time and Warner were two different companies.
         Nowadays everything is based off the same script. That was made particularly clear recently when the word of the day was "inchoate." I heard it on several major channels then I heard one of the local news anchors stumble through it and that confirmed it must have been in the memo. It was the perfect word to describe the beginings of the OWS movement. It just wasn't something my local guy would have said. This is what we get when our students are pathed into "Communications" rather than "Journalism."
        But except when the occasional slip is showing, we seem to be content just to let it flow over us and soak up what 'they' tell us. We were just discussing this stuff at work yesterday.

  •  Red pill or Blue?.... (19+ / 0-)

    The US media is complicit in keeping us in the pre-approved matrix...same script repeated endlessly from radio to print to cable to the net

    Example of Propaganda 24/7.....European social safety nets are deemed "parasitic" and "dependency inducing" by the rrw here.

    Whatever the Foxteapublicans say, the opposite is the truth.

    by Forward is D not R on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 05:16:04 AM PST

  •  Different values (18+ / 0-)

    In America, we value materialism. In Europe, each individual has greater protections, but also has to be more circumspect in his material desires. The AVERAGE person lives better than in the US, but there is a ceiling on how much luxury a person can obtain, no matter how hard they work. And this freedom to be greedy, rotten as it may be, is what American conservatives find "exceptional" about America and our capitalist system.

    For me, Europe would be better. I still watch the same 12" tv that I bought 15 years ago and I'm driving a 2000 Subaru Outback. I'm good with down to earth quality and practicality. But most Americans are not. They want to BUY LOTS OF SHIT. That's a huge part of the American psyche. And they want to believe, if they work hard, they can buy as much shit as they can possibly dream up.

    I don't like this aspect of the American psyche, but I can't pretend it can be eradicated. It's so deep in our bones. Thre's a difference between America and Europe.

    When I meet Europeans who've patriated here, they always say they love the way they can get rich here  - and most do. But on the other hand, my Nuyorican nephew, born and raised in a Williamsburg housing project, has married a German girl and moved to Munich. He has a job as an airport baggage handler, and is the happiest man alive. They just had a baby boy and don't ever plan for him to live in America.

    •  I tend to think that (20+ / 0-)

      the urge to buy "lots of shit" is less in the bones than the result of conditioning from earliest childhood, via the huge advertising industry, which touches everything we see and hear.

      It's not just conditioning to buy, but conditioning that buying will fix you, make you better, take care of whatever inadequacies or problems you perceive in your life. And at the same time make you sexier and more attractive to whichever sex you prefer.

      This country is so big and so insular that many, perhaps most, people never get far enough outside it to get any perspective. It's hard to see the creature devouring you when you're in the belly of the beast.

      Yesterday's weirdness is tomorrow's reason why. -- Hunter S. Thompson

      by Mnemosyne on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 07:17:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  to Hrubec - clearly an interesting comment (11+ / 0-)

      It is true if you have the right education and resume you can make money in America. It is however true you can also lose a lot of money in America, all you have to do is get sick or injured in which case it is all over but the crying.


      sig...You just ran into a hardcore progressive who's just another working stiff with an MBA degree & therefore a vociferous labor union supporter [smile]

      by Democrats Ramshield on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 08:56:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  it's a crapshoot (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        kind of a lottery. If you can manage to land a decent job, keep said job, don't get sick or injured and are a disciplined saver and a lucky investor you will save up good money in the long term. Still won't live like Europeans (e.g. rich street life) and won't get to travel much, but you'll have a nice net worth. I guess that's what attracts Americans, though most will never get to experience it because they fail at one or multiple points.

        We don't inherit the world from the past. We borrow it from the future.

        by minorityusa on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 09:13:42 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I doubt that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The AVERAGE person lives better than in the US

      For the core western and northern European states I very much doubt that claim.  What are your sources? What metric, in your opinion, defines "better"?

      •  You doubt that the average European lives better (8+ / 0-)

        than the average American?  Really?  Have you ever travelled to Europe?  Seeing is believing, friend.  The average European does in fact live better than the average American except for total square footage of domicile.  But what they lack in closet space and size of bathrooms they more than make up for in health care, dental care, quality education, paid vacation days, paid maternity/paternity leave (six months in Germany and Scandinavia), paid sick leave, and time spent with family and friends.

        "Some folks rob you with a six-gun, some rob you with a fountain pen." - Woody Guthrie

        by Involuntary Exile on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 03:31:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think Green Sauce was agreeing with you (0+ / 0-)
          •  you are correct (0+ / 0-)

            I misread the parent post. Sorry.

            Of course, in this case I would have still to announce some doubts, since the average person in the southern countries is not so well off, and the comparison would get more problematic.

            Others have emphasized the security issue, and here I agree wholeheartedly.

        •  Green Sauce is German (0+ / 0-)

          At least I think so. He has some interesting comments that dispute the belief we all tend to have that German health care is superior. Sounds like he spends a lot and has a lot of issues with it.

          •  Odd. I have a huge extended family in Germany (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            (I was born in Germany outside Hanover), and no one in the family has ever complained about the German healthcare system.  As a matter of fact, I have an 80-year-old Aunt who has been a paraplegic since she was 24, and she has nothing but praise for the German healthcare system.  The fact that has been paralyzed from the waist down for 55 years and is still alive is a testament to her constitution and the care she receives.  My uncle's wife, just under 70 years old, has had a host of ailments for the past 20 years and she, too, has nothing but praise for the German healthcare system.  I could go on, but I won't bore everyone.  

            If Green Sauce doesn't like the German healthcare system he should come try ours.  He thinks his care is expensive?  He should compare his cost with ours.  He'd be running home quicker than he could say "Ich hatte genug".

            "Some folks rob you with a six-gun, some rob you with a fountain pen." - Woody Guthrie

            by Involuntary Exile on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 08:07:07 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  There's a lot of "living better" that comes (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis, Green Sauce

        with knowing you won't die because you lose your job.  That there is some kind of safety net that will keep you off the streets.

        I have lived half my life in Europe and half here in the US, with a few years in Australia.

        There is a lot to be said for living without the fear that most Americans have to live with.

        •  "...the fear most Americans have to live with." (0+ / 0-)

          Yes, Americans ARE a fearful lot.  And with reason.  A little communitarianism would go a long way to fixing this.  

          And the trouble is, quite apart from its inherent discomfort, living in fear is not the best foundation for rational decision making.

    •  Gordon Gekko's American Dream (4+ / 0-)

      I think the traditional American values of "working hard to get ahead" and being "self-made pioneers" have become warped to a dangerous and self-destructive degree by the promise that "greed is good."

      Fueled by the rampant materialism that's pushed on us 24/7 by the corporate media, we, as a nation, bought into Gordon Gekko's vision of America in the 80's and never looked back.

      "I am a self-made man with divine right to all I have accumulated (or at least on my way there). Why the hell would I give up anything to people who are too lazy or stupid to achieve the same as I have?"  Or so the myth goes...

      I think the cancer has pretty well metastasized at this point, and I'm not sure that we, as a country, can survive it.

  •  European governments are owned (16+ / 0-)

    by plutocrats as well, or craven parasites of the plutocrats. However, they's been smarter when it comes to the task of holding down social rebellion. That's changing though. This coming year is going to be interesting in Europe with the push towards austerity.

  •  Europe? (5+ / 0-)

    All I'm hearing on the American media about Europe is how the Euro is crashing, the French social safety net is too expensive, and Spain has crushing unemployment because of the socialists.

    The good things about Europe are, well, just not all that interesting to most short-sighted Americans. However, throw a 23% unemployment rate statistic at them and they'll think the 9% rate we have in our part of the world just ain't so bad. And when the boss comes around and asks for givebacks and concessions, you had better be ready to give back and concede or else!

    Ratings privileges revoked without explanation during the Great Purge. So, consider yourself recommended or hidden as you think you should be.

    by banjolele on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 05:28:18 AM PST

    •  European unemployment figures (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      only seem higher, because they have integrity in their statistical calculation.
      Whereas, here in the US, we do not.  The method used in tabulating unemployment implies rates far higher than in Europe.

      That's part of the American lie as well.

      It's the inequality, stupid.

      by Boberto on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 06:43:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  To answer the title (6+ / 0-)

    Simply read the title. Cheers.

    •  I was gonna say... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ..."You answered your own question."

      Remember too that news organizations and even the major broadcast networks are now small subsidiaries of multi-national conglomerates.

      And what leads you to believe that Europe's plutocrats aren't attempting to get rid of their own country's "safety nets?"

      "Wealthy the Spirit which knows its own flight. Stealthy the Hunter who slays his own fright. Blessed is the Traveler who journeys the length of the Light."

      by CanisMaximus on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 05:47:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I once saw Tom Friedman lose his mind over it (21+ / 0-)

    He used to have a show on cable.  I forgot the name of it, but basically it was Tom Friedman's take on foreign affairs.

    So he did this segment in Germany about the social safety net and interviewed a nice young German couple (I think the husband was American) and asked them really obnoxious pointed questions about things like their generous sick leave, maternity leave, holidays, health care, etc.

    The bizarre part is he kept insisting that they must hate it, right?  right?  right?

    And they kept saying that they much prefer the German system to the American system, which the husband had lived in.

    He concluded that young Germans hated the German social safety net.

    I mean it was so bizarre, Friedman's lines could have been written by Michael Moore for Sicko when he was goofing around in France and Britain, asking people about how they hated getting someone to make free housecalls or help with the laundry after childbirth.

    That's when I thought Friedman is actually losing his mind over this.

  •  Tipped, Recc'd, Tweeted, Facebooked (8+ / 0-)

    This information needs to be out there. Everyone, please tweet and FB.

  •  We Need to Civilize Our Public Square. (10+ / 0-)

    At this point the Bill of Rights cedes it to global information warlords.

    Nobody's shown how to inform Americans of anything contrary to the warlords' propaganda.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 06:03:05 AM PST

  •  i can give you one big reason (18+ / 0-)

    because the biggest PC cop and censor-by-threat in the country, 1000 think-tank coordinated radio stations, have had a free speech free ride the last 20 years to enable and or intimidate media and politicians whichever way they have been directed.

    50 mil people a week have been getting the lies and propaganda from the scripted carnival barkers creating made-to-order well-misinformed constituencies that recently were given buss passes to show up and scream at town halls, for instance.

    for 20 years the same mechanism has been used to equate euro and canadian single payer medical systems with 'commie' and attack its proponents and defenders who dare show up in the mainstream in the same way that critics of the attack on iraq were attacked and intimidated.

    and it works because there is NO organized opposition to it from the left and until then efforts to educate the majority differently are going to have to be louder than limbaugh and hannity and spawn and that is an uphill battle on any issue.

    single payer would be a lot easier to get here if the "left' got up in front of that giant soapbox that big insurance and big drug and big medical get to scream from every day, basically for free.

    that is their advantage in what is left of this 'democracy', on public air waves, from radio stations licensed to operate in the public interest and endorsed by many of our largest universities and colleges and pro sports teams.

    US universities contradict their mission statements and endorse climate denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 06:18:24 AM PST

    •  I used to watch the nightly news religiously, (9+ / 0-)

      now, not so much. I still watch occasionally to find out what's happened in the country, but as soon as they start talking about politics or economics or the like, I'm gone.
      I can only conclude that there is no organized response to right-wing BS because the majority of democrats want to play nice in the sandbox, and almost all of them are beholden to the same power brokers and money people as republicans. They can argue and equivocate all day long without getting to the core of the issue.
      The only way to effect any real change is from the outside, along the lines of the OWS protests. And that will only work if the pressure builds and is maintained and channeled effectively. The way Thom Hartman puts it is "When the parade gets big enough, polititians will grab a sign and jump in front of it."

      Trickle-down theory; the less than elegant metaphor that if one feeds the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows. - J.K. Galbraith

      by Eric Twocents on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 07:11:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  those protests have been enabling for politicians (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Russgirl, raincrow

        and as long as they are large and sustained they will continue to enable.

        they have been one of the only movements the last 20 years louder, temporarily, than RW talk radio- basically 'getting the back' of liberal ideal and reps.

        but that giant radio megaphone is not only very loud, it is well directed and coordinated by the think tank pros and as long as it can be used that effectively and with so little obstruction it's going to make OWS less effective and be  able to counter the positives with their continued and well-targeted enabling and intimidation- getting the backs of the 1%.

        US universities contradict their mission statements and endorse climate denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

        by certainot on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 07:34:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Use Radio While you can. In San Francisco KGO's (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          certainot, raincrow

          left to libertarian programming was pulled by Cumulus (Romney owned) and Green960 now KNEW960 replaced Thom Hartmann with Glenn Beck.

          "We don't live in a democracy . . . we live in a capitalist oligarchy, with some democratic representation…Social Security, Medicare, the minimum wage, or labor unions?… The capitalist oligarchy …were forced to accept them"…Howard Zinn

          by jim d on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 04:14:11 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  they're going to do more of that pre election IMO (0+ / 0-)

            and liberals could really gain in house and senate if they found a way to reduce that giant radio advantage

            US universities contradict their mission statements and endorse climate denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

            by certainot on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 04:47:29 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Rhetorical Question... Right? (7+ / 0-)

    perhaps it has something to do with the inconvenient fact that 60% of americans have a negative reaction to "socialism", while only 31% have a positive reaction to "socialism". Perhaps if these responses were reversed, americans would be more open to the benefits of "european socialism" and teh media would have to approach the subject more objectively.

    the demographic breakdown of american's reactions to "socialism" and capitalism" is even more disturbing, as it details a racial rift that, i'm sure, explains a lot about why 90%+ of repub voters are white-americans

      white-americans: capitalism (55%-35%); socialism (24%-68%)
       black-americans: capitalism (41%-51%); socialism (55%-36%)
       latin-americans: capitalism (32%-55%); socialism (44%-49%)

    white-americans prefer capitalism to socialism by 31%, while black-americans prefer socialism to capitalism by 14% and hispanic prefer socialism by 12%. so not only are white-americans the only group that prefers capitalism to socialism, they are far more imbalanced in their support than either blacks or hispanics.

    perhaps the day will come when white-americans will evolve to the level of socio-economic-political awareness of black and hispanic americans. perhaps. but as long as white-americans prefer bachmann to obama 48% - 41%, i think that the adoption of any aspect of "european socialism" in the near future is highly unlikely.

    but good on you, Democrats Ramshield, for your effort to expose more americans to the benefits of european socialism. perhaps if they hear about it enough, even white-america will, finally, get it!


    I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the Republican Party.

    60% of White-Americans voted for the TeaBigots in 2010. Yet, some Kossacks think Obama is the problem. I guess it's easier to blame Obama than it is to blame your momma

    by OnlyWords on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 06:26:39 AM PST

    •  In fact, Republicans regularly accuse Obama... (9+ / 0-)

      ....of wanting to impose a European-style social democracy on America.  This is, of course, a bizarre accusation on many levels:  it's entirely false and most Americans, as the diary notes, have no idea what a European-style social democracy is.

      My guess is that a number of things underly the fearmongering.

      First, of course, "socialism." I'm always surprised it's only 60% who have a negative reaction.   When was the last time a major media figure or a major-party politician said anything nice about "socialism" (closest exception: Bernie Sanders...and he's not in a major party).

      Second, taxes.  European social democracy is associated, not entierly irrationally, with higher taxes.  It should actually be said that European tax systems do sometimes leave something to be desired. I don't mind the higher overall rate.  But EU countries tend to rely much more heavily on consumption taxes.  And income taxes, at least in Germany, are structured in a way that severely penalizes two-career households, effectively forcing many women to choose between career and children.  But, of course, these details are not what concern voters who fear "European-style social democracy." They just don't want their taxes going up for any reason. (The GOP is, of course, much more interested in shifting the tax burden onto the poor than in reducing most of its voters taxes...especially at the state level where they actually have to balance budgets.  Here in Oklahoma, they're trying to cut the upper income tax and corporate tax rates, and pay for it by eliminating a series of tax credits that go to lower-income families.  Well, it certainlu isn't European-style social democracy!).

      Third, fear of learning from foreign countries.  As the historian Dan Rodgers describes in his brilliant book Atlantic Crossings, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, American progressives actively learned from European policies and social thinkers.  But after WOrld War I, this exchange of ideas slowed.  By the 1930s, FDR was giving speeches explicitly denying that there was anything European about the New Deal.

      (Please excuse the typos and lack of links in this comment.  This is written on an iPad, which makes both proofreading and opening other tabs while commenting very difficult.)

      Tunis...Cairo...Tripoli...Wall Street

      by GreenSooner on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 06:53:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  thanks for the book note (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GreenSooner, Russgirl

        I'd missed that one, and just now looked it up. Even the minimalist Amazon notation mentioning things like city planning reminds me that almost no one in this country knows anything about the work of Lewis Mumford or Jane Jacobs. And I can count on the fingers of one hand the people I know who've read Christopher Alexander's groundbreaking work A Pattern Language (link to not very wonderful Wiki on him but best I could find quickly).

        Yesterday's weirdness is tomorrow's reason why. -- Hunter S. Thompson

        by Mnemosyne on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 07:47:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Look at all the terms used to (5+ / 0-)

      divide, terrorize, obfuscate or divert the narrative on any given issue, and all of them were carefully crafted for maximum impact on public thinking by the conservatives.
      Socialism bad, capitalism GOOD. Pro-abortion bad, pro-life GOOD. Conservatives will always frame the debate in the scariest terms they can think up, and socialism still carries negative connotations left over from the cold war, so that's bad. They won't ever let themselves get into a debate about why it's bad.
      Conservatives have control of the label maker. Obamacare, job creators, family values. Then, as Certainot aludes to above, the terminology of the debate is absorbed by the media because it's easy to write the copy that way, and the debate becomes what conservatives want it to be - liberals will destroy America.

      Trickle-down theory; the less than elegant metaphor that if one feeds the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows. - J.K. Galbraith

      by Eric Twocents on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 07:52:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Family values are more important to progressives (9+ / 0-)

    than conservatives.  But we are inclusive and we mean ALL American families.

    * We believe that fair labor standards need to be enforced because children need time with their parents.

    * We believe that a mandated vacation is important because it gives families more opportunity to spend time together.

    * We believe that we should all pool health risks so that we all can get by and that families don't go bankrupt due to ill fortune of severe illnesses.

    * We believe that there should be single payer so that the costs of maintaining health won't be so  wasteful of our finite resources.  So that we can afford good education for our children.

    * We believe we as a society can rise or sink together.

    I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

    by Satya1 on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 06:36:29 AM PST

    •  to Satya1 - you are absolutely right (7+ / 0-)

      American working class people have to have the same type of unity that the rich routinely display in taking care of each other. When interests converge you don't have to have a conspiracy of the rich, it is understood if you go to the same university, if you are a member of the same fraternity or sorority, if you serve on the same boards, you don't need a conspiracy amongst rich people to understand there is a convergence of interests.

      The rich stick together and the working class must likewise stick together. We must support each other in order to survive the GOP led class warfare in America.

      sig...You just ran into a hardcore progressive who's just another working stiff with an MBA degree & therefore a vociferous labor union supporter [smile]

      by Democrats Ramshield on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 09:05:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I (13+ / 0-)

    learned the lesson many years ago when I would visit Germany and all my friends who were students lived a better life then I as a working person.

    Their apartments were nice and fairly priced. Mine was what you would pay for a mortgage in most parts of the country for a ghetto apartment.

    They had money to eat and their university was paid for.

    I was paying off a student loan and never ate out nearly as much or well as they did.

    Their health care was basically free. I paid even then for my in my full time job.

    I already didn't have a pension. That was jettisoned by Ronnie and his criminal elite buddies instead the 401k was being ushered in with great fanfare.

    I knew something was wrong. I kind of knew it was because of all the military spending the US did. And I sensed even way back then the corruption at the top.

    •  A few years back ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Crazy like a fox, raincrow

      ... maybe 10 years back, actually, i had an on-line exchange with a boy from Germany.  Often, he would talk about what he was learning in high school, and his observations of the world.  It amazed me, amazed me, what they were teaching their high school students there.  It seemed like college level material to me .... even back then.

  •  To answer your question (6+ / 0-)

    Because it would create the need to raise taxes on the wealthy a little bit.  But you knew that.

    Excellent diary!

    •  Lets link taxes rates with the military (0+ / 0-)

      As Robert Heinlein postulated in Starship-trooper: only veterans can vote.

      Sounds good to me, and would bring us back to the good old days the GOP so dearly loves. How many European families died out because the scions went of to fight for God, King and Country?

      I will not begrudge them the hero's burial, and will pray that the price money is as equitably allocated as the shrapnell.

  •  Well said (7+ / 0-)
    So it is there are 2.3 million people in America in prison and the American taxpayers pay for them to be in prison in a clear case where it is cheaper to send someone to go to Harvard University than for them to be in prison for a year.

    There really are people in America who "winter" in jail, as opposed to being "snowbirds" and flying to Florida. I have personally met them.

  •  A passionate account, DR, I think I know (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jts327, Russgirl, raincrow

    some answers to your many questions, but I don't know any solution to the misery they represent.

    Is it really just a question of "not knowing"? Or is it a qestion of "not wanting to know"? Isn't it just because it's too hard to face the realities?

    People don't want to hear it and don't want to talk about it, with the media being in the front row of all of them.

    The only way to change course I could see happening, would be, if Obama would start fighting and ask his fellow Americans, why they think Americans wouldn't deserve the same social security net European countries have tried to establish and done so pretty successfully for the most part.

    A bold leader, one you HAVE to listen to, because he is in power, one who talks about that in public loud and clear, one who sticks with the moral imperative that America has to change their own system from within, one who never kowtows to bullshit arguments from the corrupted right-wing, old-school fraternity boys in Congress and spits on corporate money.

    Send this diary to Obama and ask him, why he doesn't answer all the questions you have posted here.

    It's Time to Clean up the Mess. Do it. Occupy the Broom.

    by mimi on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 08:22:47 AM PST

  •  This is a rhetorical question, right?? (0+ / 0-)

    Just sayin...

  •  The US financial industry model for Italy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc, opinionated

    Deregulation laws were pushed thru by the new Italian technocrat-dictator:

  •  DR, I would say that the corporate-owned media (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    here will cite Greece as an example of EU failure without taking a look at the Scandinavian countries. If we take a closer look, we will find parallels with problems in our financial systems despite the benefits of the social safety net. Were the US, the EU and the rest of the world worked together, then we could put a stop to our financial crisis. It would take a 21st century Bretton Woods conference to make it happen.

    Also, did you get to read The Independent article about banker psychopaths?

    So say we all! Battlestar Galactica (re-imagined version)

    by nerve on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 09:04:21 AM PST

  •  Other benefits (11+ / 0-)

    I have been living in Paris for 6 years.

    First of all, as some seem to think, the benefits (medical, etc.) are not free.  Everyone pays into them with a progressive tax.  You make more, you pay more and of course, people making little or no money don't pay at all.

    Doctors in France still make house calls.  Read that is not a typo.

    If you are hospitalized you pay nothing.  If you see a doctor outside of the hospital setting, there is a co-pay and the amount varies since doctors can charge anything they want.  However, private insurance to cover the difference is very inexpensive.  I am on my partner's policy and it pays the difference for all doctors' care, most dental care, eye and hearing.  Together we pay a total of about $16/month.  I am not making this up.

    If you have a heart attack (for example) the ambulance arrives with a doctor, an intern and a technician and they begin assessing and treating immediately as they take you to the hospital.

    The biggest difference here is that the whole society believes that government has a role to play in all of this, that workers and citizens have rights, and that no one should be left out in the cold.  (In fact, evicting someone is difficult, and you cannot do it during the winter months because they literally cannot be put out in the cold.)

    In other words, you feel like you are part of a community here.

  •  It's because American's think social welfare (0+ / 0-)

    is socialism.

    In Europe the definition is -  various social services provided by a state for the benefit of its citizens. Therefore there is no conflict between capitalism (an economical system) and social welfare (a governmental service system).

    In the US it is - organized public or private social services for the assistance of disadvantaged groups. Or in capitalist terms economic assistance for the undeserving poor.

    Politifact, the lie of the year is. - Yoda

    by gakke on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 09:21:33 AM PST

  •  Different than you, I hear reports in the US media (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    all the time about Europe's social safety net (and how its costs are threatening to crash the entire world's economy . . .)

    •  All part of their plan - they own the news. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      opinionated, high uintas

      THINK for yourself when they all parrot the same newz day after day... read DR's well informed diaries.  A good conversation here! ;)

    •  To Roadbed Guy - please read (0+ / 0-)

      Those reports are exaggerated about the US plutocrat owned media is paid by its masters to lie and distort the truth. Their job is not to report anything their job is instead to sell advertising space.  

      The US media is complicit in it but the worst defender by far is Fox News wherein in Dickinson Farleigh University showed that Fox news viewers were less informed than people who watched no news at all.

      What is actually bankrupting the economy are tax cuts for millionaires. Not the social safety net. But the American plutocrat owned media doesn't want to report that because they don't want to bite the hand that feeds them.

      sig...You just ran into a hardcore progressive who's just another working stiff with an MBA degree & therefore a vociferous labor union supporter [smile]

      by Democrats Ramshield on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 12:34:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  compared to the US system of corporate welfare (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      big annie

      which is called "the US miltary", the costs are quite limited.

      Actually, nominally, the US spends ~5% of its GDP on the military (though I suspect they hide some costs elsewhere), while Europe spends about 10-12% of GDP on health care - but of course a sizeable part of the latter is paid by citizens, while the military is 100% paid by the state.

  •  Nice, linked and posted elsewhere.... (0+ / 0-)
  •  Apples to apples (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Does Europe have extensive social services—absolutely. Now you would need to begin a comparison of the other differences between the EU (with all its individual differences, to be sure) and the USA, in order to say how and whether you might wish to import a European system to our shores. You might also need to figure out to what extent, in each case, it is a system—i.e., the degree to which one can cherry-pick the desirable elements.

    Just to name a small selection of issues for further research:

    Percentage of home ownership?
    Mortgage requirements?
    Percentage going on to college?
    Annual cost for student-supplied school textbooks?
    Employment as percentage of population?
    Amounts paid in taxes at various levels of income?
    Inheritance taxes?
    Time needed to start up a corporation?
    Ability to sue for medical malpractice?
    Permissibility of class-action suits?
    Ability to sue government in general?
    Taxation to support religious institutions?
    Energy costs? For cars? For air conditioners?

    There may be more than a few tradeoffs.

    And then you might look at Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and various other of the EU countries and ask how long this social safety net is going to remain in place, given what are said to be unsustainable levels of public debt?

    •  Canadian taxation (0+ / 0-)
      Federal tax rates for 2011 are:
       15% on the first $41,544 of taxable income, +
       22% on the next $41,544 of taxable income (on the portion of taxable income between $41,544 and $83,088), +
       26% on the next $45,712 of taxable income (on the portion of taxable income between $83,088 and $128,800), +
       29% of taxable income over $128,800.
      Quebec See Income tax rates (Revenu Québec Web site).


      5.05% on the first $37,774 of taxable income, +
      9.15% on the next $37,776, +
      11.16% on the amount over $75,550


      10.8% on the first $31,000 of taxable income, +
      12.75% on the next $36,000, +
      17.4% on the amount over $67,000


      11% on the first $40,919 of taxable income, +
      13% on the next $75,992, +
      15% on the amount over $116,911


      10% of taxable income

      British Columbia

      5.06% on the first $36,146 of taxable income, +
      7.7% on the next $36,147, +
      10.5% on the next $10,708, +
      12.29% on the next $17,786, +
      14.7% on the amount over $100,787

      In Canada, the poor and middle class pay less income tax for any given income and the rich pay about the same rates as in the US. Canadian mortgage interest isn't tax-deductible.

      Middle-class Canadians get health care while middle-class Americans get to pay for an expensive military and two wars.

      The Canadian "sales" taxes range from 10% to 13.5% in the most significant provinces, with the exception of Alberta where the rate apparently is 5%.

      Sales taxes on almost all goods and services (except for groceries normally exempt in the US, condo fees, rents, mortgage interest, financial services, child care) are levied at 13% in Ontario.

      Resale homes aren't taxed.

      New homes under $400,000 are just charged the federal 5% GST rate.

  •  Idea: New Reflexes Needed (2+ / 0-)
    I love this diary, and it makes me think we should ALL adopt your resolution.  What if vvery time you hear any of these words:

    student loan



    family values


    education costs

    That we fill in the "other" way this issue is addressed in Europe.

    A safety net would make our country fabulous!  

    Separation of Church and State AND Corporation

    by Einsteinia on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 10:20:27 AM PST

  •  What this boils down to is that we need serious (2+ / 0-)

    tax reform so that the citizens can enjoy those items you wrote about.  Unfortunately, the tax base has now been eroded to the point where we can only provide for the military industrial machine, and "Corporate Welfare Programs" that in plain terms, is just criminal.  If we had the employment base for the tax base, and if the American people could understand and learn that there really are better solutions for a real quality of life in their time, then the situation would be quite different.  

    You hit the nail on the head...The question is where is the media about this?  The answer is that they are holding the water for those who want to maintain the "status quo" of mediocrity at best for the majority, and only the very best for the smallest of minority.  It is the responsibility of those of us that know of the benefits others enjoy to educate those who are not well traveled, sufficiently educated, or who are unaware of life in other places by other means, that will be the alternative narrative to the education of others.  

    The MSM cannot be relied upon to serve in the best interest of those who read and take in every word of those who are the reality tricksters.  Witness the decline of quality of media information dating back since the Reagan years when that administration dissolved the Fairness Doctrine that had been in place since 1949.

    As for the tax base and economic conditions...We stand at a major crossroad of just where this country will be going.  The choices are obvious, but the hard decisions and actions that must be done for the good of this country are, I believe, currently in the hands of those that just want to “keep the trains running on time” as the good people of this country have not completely reached the point of hurt, and the total realization of betrayal by those that hold their trust:  This time of awakening is coming soon, but not fast enough for the many who will fall through the cracks, and remain there forever.

    "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution, inevitable." - President John F. Kennedy (1917 - 1963)

    by LamontCranston on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 10:23:17 AM PST

  •  about those "high" taxes (4+ / 0-)

    that's been the claim, forever, but no one has ever pointed out that by contributing a larger share of their income to the collective good, people have a higher quality of life than when they keep their so-called "own" money themselves.

    The conventional US-style wisdom still hasn't grasped that money is far more valuable when it circulates, rather than when it sits still in one place (or in one person's "possession").

    The money that passes through your bank account as "income" can do far more good if we collectively pool it and do larger, great things with it (i.e. paying taxes).

    What we produce with our economic system is greater wealth gaps, while the European Social Welfare States produce higher standards of living for the aggregate.  

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 10:34:45 AM PST

  •  Public housing, like other forms of welfare, (5+ / 0-)

    was painted with a black face by Repugs as far back as the Nixon era.

    Americans can't have these forms of security nets because racism prevented it (even though most beneficiaries were white).

    This won't change until racists are no longer a huge voting block.

  •  Great diary, DR! (4+ / 0-)

    I've often wondered myself why the corporate media go to such lengths to hide this info from us.  They're under orders from their corporate masters, I suppose.

    Your diary really resonates with me, especially the part about student loans.  I save frantically for my three-year-old granddaughter's future college education.  I don't want her to be burdened with student loans.  

    It is so weird to me that people in this country are told, or think, that it's the best country in the world when there is so much evidence to the contrary!  But then, with relatives in England and Australia and friends in Canada, I've seen for myself how many more benefits they get.  And it's just amazing.

    Tipped, rec'd, and shared on Facebook, my friend!

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 11:35:37 AM PST

  •  Australia is much the same... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    high uintas, Roger Lamb

    And if you are unemployed, disabled or a pensioner you are issued a concessions card that gives you access to a range of free or discounted services including free healthcare, prescriptions are all $5.60 and rent assistance
    You can download a PDF here to check it out

    Whoever controls the media, the images, controls the culture

    by nezzclay on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 01:06:27 PM PST

    •  From what I understand Australia's system (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Roger Lamb

      is very close to Germany's. A basic free health care benefit and a variety of private ins. that you can buy. Daughter and family lived a year in Brisbane and were offered all of the same benefits that were available.

      They just kept with the basic but knew some of son in law's co-workers who bought supplemental ins. They really didn't need it, Daughter said that the few times they needed medical care it was as good as any she had experienced.

      "But much to my surprise when I opened my eyes I was the victim of the great compromise." John Prine

      by high uintas on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 05:21:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm way way late to post but I knew this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    high uintas

    most of it. I knew some of it years ago and yes we need to change this damn system to OUR advantage- screw the 1%.

    2012- End of the world? Yes, for the Republicans. THANK YOU Beadlady. I am deeply grateful. 12/27/11

    by glbTVET on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 01:33:05 PM PST

  •  ram,the big criminal (0+ / 0-)

    in my area raped and what i heard,disemboweled a 72 year old woman for her car and flatscreen tv.he was not desperate,he was just cruel .

  •  I'll tell you why: (5+ / 0-)

    Because when average people in the US find out about those things they want to leave.

    I do.  Have been contemplating it for a while now too.  Mrs and I are saving our pennies...

    Just one of those facts you mention is enough to trigger serious angst and get people asking ugly questions.

    I pass them along regularly.  Little things like, Europeans don't lose houses when somebody gets sick, when people ask me how I'm doing after I lost mine and my life savings after somebody got sick.

    Have seen quite a few come back later and start citing other ones with great interest.

    Highly recommended.  Spread the word.  Piss people off.  Something has to.

    The level of apathy on basic things like this is astonishing to this Oregon native.  Unreal actually.

    The "rugged individualist" meme runs deep.  Really deep, like somebody is a leper for even contemplating the need for help, even when it's clear they deserve it.

    ***Be Excellent To One Another***

    by potatohead on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 02:41:36 PM PST

    •  Buying a home this month, but have contemplated (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      on the cusp, high uintas, potatohead

      leaving since I got divorced in 2006.

      The American system has grown more predatory against the world and against its own citizens.

      I am so sick of the rugged individualist meme. Were I to buy into it, me living rent free to first find a job and then save for my home would be all to my credit only. I've done this because friends (family) took me in and created a situation where I could secure a job and then save my money for something better.

      Under the right circumstances and with the opportunity solidly in place, I would expatriate as well. There's little here that holds me anymore except for some friends who are my surrogate family who have helped me save (to buy the home I am buying).

      -6.38, -6.21: Lamented and assured to the lights and towns below, Faster than the speed of sound, Faster than we thought we'd go, Beneath the sound of hope...

      by Vayle on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 02:57:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sorry 2 burst your bubble... its not all that rosy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    In the European Union everyone to include low wage workers who aren't even unionized are able to receive 4 weeks paid vacation a year.
    So far, so correct. In Germany, just about anybody even has 30 days (aka 6 weeks). We like it that way :-)
    They are able to receive as a human right complete medical and dental to include a prescription plan with little or no co-pays or deductibles. They are never exposed to exclusion of medical services based on pre-existing conditions, which seems to be a uniquely American phenomenon.

    Yes and No. Again, Germany: in the public part you indeed get no exclusions - but the services in the public part are constantly driven down. I recently needed an appointment with an ophthalmologist. At the practice, I was given two alternatives: tomorrow, if you are privately insured, in 8 weeks if you are in the public system (I am).
    When I got into the system, there was still full dental care. Today I have to pay the expensive stuff out of my own pocket, and I have no idea how to do that in the long term.  They only pay "pain treatment" and "minimum service" - the latter being so barbaric my dentist simply refuses to do it. No crowns, bridges, implants, nothing that resembles modern dentistry. (technically, they "pay" for those - but at something like 5% of the actual price)   Now try get private insurance covering that when you are already approaching 50.

    Then, a few years ago they instituted "budgets" for doctors. Basically, a doctor gets a - small - amount of money per patient and has to cover the whole treatment from that.  Doctor also gets penalized if he prescribes medications beyond another "budget".  That leads to the effect that many physicians are through with their quarterly budgets after 6-8 weeks, and have to work for free after that. Some just don't.

    And the bummer is - of course we also have private insurances - which work much better. But they DO exclude preexisting conditions etc, which makes it virtually impossible to change to them if you are older. BUT you are only allowed to leave the public if you earn more than a certain yearly income.  All in all I pay more than US$ 2000 per month in health insurance in the public system. I could be insured for much less with much better care in the private system, but I have no chance ever getting there.

    On the hand, some wealthy little prick with an MBA degree who starts at daddy's firm with a big salary at 25 can then opt for private insurance as a young man and get better treatment for less money.  

    In the European Union single people can get cash assistance in paying rent, did you know that? Even if they are not disabled.

    Again, as for Germany. You are right: but the cash thing is an all together stupid policy.  Around here, you only get housing assistance if you are below a certain level of income and assets. Basically, if you are assumed to not have the means to house yourself, the city/county is responsible for getting you housing. Note the asset thing - as long as you have assets you are supposed to liquidate and live off them before you ask for public assistance.

    In the past, that worked by the city authorities not giving people cash but essentially paying directly to their landlord. Worked nicely - people with assistance were quite popular with landlords.

    A few years ago the idiots changed the system to give cash to the people in need. Which let to the phenomenon of "rent nomads" - folks who would rent an appartment, live there for a few months, never pay a dime to the landlord,  and use the rent assistance cash otherwise. then they just walk away from the old place - often in a horrible state requiring major renovations - and  get a new one.  

    Landlords are scared to death of these people, since there is absolutely nothing you can do. Evicting someone with a valid contract - paid or not - is an affair of 3-6 months, and they can not sue for damages since these people don't have any money.  As a result public assistance recipients have major trouble finding flats nowadays.

    Oh - and of course we have homeless people here as well. Far less than in the US, but there is a certain set of people in every society who just want to live on the street, because they can not or will not live within the confines of a normal existence.

    So, just these two examples show that its not all that rosy over here as well. The devil is in the details.

    •  Can you clarify? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      $2000/month for the PUBLIC health system? That sounds extraordinarily expensive, like 1/2 to 3/4 of the monthly take home pay of an average American. Did you mean to say that figure?

      •  yep (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Oh Mary Oh


        I'm a network engineer with a major telco.  My salary is a few Euros above the so called "Bemessungsgrenze". (upper income limit for health insurance)

        Generally, the public system takes a basic fee of currently 15,5 % of your income. If you have a very low income, that fee is further reduced; I think the minimum fee is somewhere around 50€/month. If you can't pay even that, you are insured via the social services administration. Also, the various carriers in the public system are allowed to levy a percentage surcharge on that; for all insured the same.  (Mine currently doesn't).

        In theory, your employer pays half of that amount, but that's of course only accounting - you don't see it, but it is paid nonetheless. Both halfs are directly deducted by your employer, only "your" half appears on the income statement (and is subject to taxation).

        Everybody who earns less than the abovementioned Bemessungsgrenze is mandatory enrolled in the public system. The only choice he has is which of the various insurance carrieres there he prefers.

        Since I am above that limit, I could in theory choose private insurance. Therefore I see my employer's "half" on my income statement as well - as employer contribution to health insurance. Bu since I have no chance of finding a private carrier who would take me without exclusion of preexisting conditions, I have the honor of beeing "voluntary" member of the public system.

        •  Ok, but... (0+ / 0-)

          If 15.5% of your income is $24,000/year, that means your annual income is in the neighborhood of $160,000+. Pretty sweet. Certainly way above 'average' here in the USA.

          •  math (0+ / 0-)

            Good question.

            No, it isn't. Way below 100k.  

            I probably have a major calculation error somewhere. Or my income statement is misleading. (it is a major exercise in obfuscation, anyway)

            The math is wrong. Current upper limit for healthcare fee purposes is slightly less than 60k$ pa.

            Which should get us to a monthly premium of < 800$.

            I don't have the time right now to dig deeper into that, sorry.

    •  It was my understanding (0+ / 0-)

      that most Germans paid 14.9% (going to 15.4%) of their income in tax for legally required health fund coverage.

    •  Many Brits go to Hungary (0+ / 0-)

      to have dental work done.

      Hungarian dental prices are about half of American prices.

      British dentists are generally more expensive than American dentists. Dental treatment is theoretically available on the NHS and Labour made efforts to add dentists to the NHS.

  •  Thanks for posting this. Speaking of which, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I had a conversation back in 2009 with a British lawyer while I was traveling the southwest U.S.

    I was telling her about all of these issues, including my own student loan debt, the lack of health care and its relationship to what had been my area of concentration, bankruptcy law, the fact that we were that year eliminating estate taxes completely, no vacation time, no sick leave, no maternity leave, no retirement guarantees (with talk of eliminating Social Security), no maternity leave, and generally about the lack of a social safety net in the U.S.

    So she asked me: "Why are all of the laws in the U.S. designed for the rich?"

    Good question.

    However, she did mention that she also just had graduated from law school in England with student loan debt, and that there was a movement toward more contributions toward education costs, in general.  But nothing in comparison to what I had to pay.

    I just wish we could have a real movement to change things.  But I really don't see that happening.  We now live in the information age.  However, people now choose their information based on their own biases, rather than truth-seeking.

    Which, in retrospect, may be why there is such an attack on institutions of free thought, such as universities.  Even if people become smart enough to know what is being done to them, they will be too controlled by their debts to effectively challenge the structures that keep them there.

  •  You may as well ask, "Why don't they cut (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raincrow, SquirrelWhisperer

    their own throats?"

    They are not in the business of putting themselves out of business.

    The second-best yacht is only halfway gold-plated, fer chrissake!"

    Don't let millionaires steal Social Security.
    I said, "Don't let millionaires steal Social Security!"

    by Leo in NJ on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 04:01:49 PM PST

  •  "Minijobs" in Germany (0+ / 0-)
    Anyone over 16 years old can have one. You can be paid up to max €400 per month without any deductions. It doesn't even need to be the same every month. The employer has to pay some standard contributions for tax, social insurance any pension - he pays around €125 for you to get the full €400.
    and you have to watch out for rat bastard employers who deduct this from the pay packet! this has happened a lot, as many people doing those jobs are too scared to complain...
    There used to be limitations on pay per hour or hours per week, but these are no more. If your employer thinks you are worth €400 an hour there's nothing to stop him paying you the full €400 for an hours work, just as he can pay you €2.50/hour for 160 hours a month. It's all down to negotiation.
    My experience of EUR 400- a month jobs are that they are full time. But I was desperate so I took it Though I think I got 1 afternoon off a week or something.

    A Euro I think is worth about $1.30. So that 400 Euros is $520/month for a full-time job.

  •  your title answers your question (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."

    by TrueBlueMajority on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 05:49:39 PM PST

  •  Renting for a lifetime (0+ / 0-)

    is more common in Germany.

    A German saves up money to help pay for his/her old age, including housing.

    Where does a German typically save?

    A bank

    Why is Merkel devoting so much time to the European debt crisis?

    Because older Germans may lose money need to pay rent after they retire.

    Most Americans aim for a paid-up house by the time they are 55. Poorer Americans plan to live with their kids.

  •  It's not only Europe (0+ / 0-)

    it's Canada, New Zealand and Australia too.  Oh and Israel.

    Perhaps we could sell it to Republicans if we point out that it's something all "white" countries have. /snark

  •  Another fantastic diary ! Thank you ! nt (0+ / 0-)
  •  I've lived in Europe. (0+ / 0-)

    If you go there, you'll understand that you've been the last one to find out that Americans are full of shit.

    The bestest, finest, greatest.........not any more.

    And the sad part of it is, that most Americans will never be able to afford a trip there in order to see it first hand.  But they'll get the memo, that Europe is going broke.

    Meanwhile, VW, BMW and Ikea open production facilities here and get away with paying wages and benefits at fractional respective domestic levels.

    It's the inequality, stupid.

    by Boberto on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 07:27:43 PM PST

  •  Here's your answer (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ((youtube yVgOl3cETb4))

  •  Italian tax collectors (0+ / 0-)

    find fellow Italians with Ferraris, yachts, and even an occasional helicopter on poverty level incomes.

    One dentist overlooked six millions Euros over the years when filing his Italian taxes.

    One entrepreneur forgot he owned five houses when he applied for school financial help for his kids.

    In German:

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