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The American Dream.

Earlier this week, we deconstructed The Myth Of The "Social Europe."

Now, part two:

American comparisons with Europe-

The following numbers are based on the World Values Survey and the International Social Survey Program, and are found at the American Enterprise Institute's website.

1. In (name of country) people have equal opportunities to get ahead:

United States 66%
United Kingdom 42
West Germany 55
East Germany 25
Japan 41

2. In the long run, hard work usually brings a better life:

United States 59%
United Kingdom 38
France 37
West Germany 43
Japan 33

3. The way things are in (name of country), people like me and my family have a good chance of improving our standard of living:

United States 55%
United Kingdom 29
West Germany 34
East Germany 39

4. Individuals should take more responsibility for providing for themselves (Percent supporting the statement, points 1-3 on a 10-point scale):

United States 59%
United Kingdom 30
France 45
West Germany 48
Japan 11

5. Government should provide everyone with a guaranteed basic income:

United States 35%
United Kingdom 68
West Germany 58
East Germany 88

Even more astonishing is the difference between Americans and Europeans on the question of engineering wealth inequality out of the system.

6. It is the responsibility of government to reduce the differences in income between people with high incomes and those with low incomes:

United States 38
United Kingdom 66
West Germany 66
East Germany 89

Ask any Europhile what's so much better about Europe than the United States. You'll get the same answer, almost every single time. Europe, you will hear, does not face the kind of cruel inequality that you commonly find in America. Life is more civilized for Europe's poor.

Europe is just plain obsessed with inequality. That's why their average tax burden is so much higher than in the United States. To create a more equal society, European countries tax the heck out of successful individuals, redistributing that wealth into massive welfare states.

Click for larger version.
[Or go to the original .pdf]

Moreover, look at all the things America's poor have:

Click for larger version.

Nearly one third of America's poor have two cars. Close to half own their own homes. Europe's poor simply do not have these kinds of things.

One idea people like to talk about quite often is the "growing inequality in the United States," when really, the rich are getting richer, but so are the poor.

America's poverty rate has declined dramatically over the past few decades (click for .pdf):


Finally, Europhiles (and, again, it's difficult not to be a Europhile some of the time) like to say that American excess has led to a nation of lards, while Europeans are so fit and trim.

They send pictures like this one around the internet, and everyone chuckles and nods in agreement:


Unfortunately for the Europhiles, it's entirely without basis:

In France, figures show that 18 percent of French children are overweight and one out of ten is obese before the age of 10. Out of a total population of 60 million, if 13 million French people are overweight, 5.4 million are actually obese, a number that is supposed to double 20 years from now. According to the most recent data, one French person out of two is obese by the age of 45.

Indeed, it turns out the obesity "epidemic" in America might have been vastly overstated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated today that packing on too many pounds accounts for 25,814 deaths a year in the United States. As recently as January, the CDC came up with an estimate 14 times higher: 365,000 deaths. [From 365K to 25K in just 3 months -ed]...

Based on the new calculation, excess weight would drop from the second leading cause of preventable death, after smoking, to seventh. It would fall behind car crashes and guns on the list of killers.

Europe is a wonderful place, with some very wonderful people, but sometimes the myth of Europe takes over the reality. The "Social Europe" many socialists/bureaucrats in the old world envision just does not exist. Meanwhile, the American dream is very much alive and well.

Posted by Will Franklin · 27 April 2005 10:28 PM


An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!...
For some reason that just came to mind...

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at April 28, 2005 07:34 AM

That cracks me up how WILLisms.com is able to hone in on Capitalism in that Willisms babe fashion!...Who else could find a big American babe wearing a G-string, thong, or whatever they are called?...I wonder if her body image is a little off?...Could it be possible she thinks she looks good?

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at April 28, 2005 08:39 AM

Can't. Stop. Looking. At. Picture. On. The. Left.

Posted by: Hoodlumman at April 28, 2005 08:39 AM

I just stumbled onto your blog and love the hardheaded analysis. One argument that I hope you'll address in the future is the question of European productivity on an hourly basis, which apparently is approximately equal or superior to the US (for certain countries) on a purchasing parity basis. So the argument -- which I have encountered in left publications such as the NY Review of Books -- is that Europeans have in effect traded leisure time for material improvements. Looking forward to reading your thoughts on this matter.

BTW, I was just in Italy (in two of the richer northern cities) and my impression is that there are just as many homeless people on the streets there as here in Manhattan.

Posted by: jult52 at April 28, 2005 08:42 AM

Planning a part 3 one of these days...

Productivity issues are definitely something worth looking at...

Posted by: Will Franklin at April 28, 2005 10:58 AM

Thanks, Will. Looking forward to it.

Posted by: jult52 at April 28, 2005 11:52 AM