Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The American Euro

Clive Cook has an article over at The Atlantic, The End of the American Exception, that takes a look at how America (the US, sorry Mexico and Canada) is becoming more and more like Europe.

He concentrates first on universal health care, something that seems to have been standard in Europe since Madame LaFarge stopped knitting.

    "Europe" is a gross simplification, so think about Britain—which continental Europe regards as a mid-Atlantic offshoot of the United States—and, say, the Netherlands. U.S. taxes are 27 percent of national income, British taxes are 37 percent, and the Netherlands' are 39 percent. Recall that America spends fully 10 percentage points of national income more than Britain on health care, public and private combined. Suppose the bulk of the existing costs of U.S. health care eventually migrated to the public sector, and nothing else changed, American taxes would have to approach or exceed British and Dutch levels.

It's a short article, but he goes on to compare unions (noting that one just shut down Hollywood and the television industry for months, something that a European union wouldn't have the power to do) and regulation (noting that Sarbanes Oxley is the most stringent in the world).

As both Europe and the US approach the center, he calls an end to the idea of "American economic exception"-- something I think is a little premature. American capitalism will always be the nexus of nationwide social policy; basically, if it doesn't effect big business, it has a chance, but if it does- prepare for a long fight and maybe even death. However, like our democracy, I think the whole point of America is to move to the center. But maybe I'm being naive. I still think it's apples and oranges. America just has a long historical march towards its ideals, and its institutions are slow to follow.

I will say this, the dollar has certainly plummeted into a reversal of US-European roles!


hr_g said...

I would argue that the U.S. is becoming more like Canada with the new spotlight on bilingualism, universal healthcare, and multiculturalism.

PiggyBankBlues said...

lol-- what, you didn't get the memo on the 51st state?

Ms. M&P said...

I know there's probably some truth to these kinds of positions, but I've noticed that they tend to come from borderline snotty Europeans with a chip on their shoulder. I can hardly read the commentary on the US in the Economist anymore because it's all doom and gloom.

I just went to look at Clive Cook's bio. He used to be the editor for the Economist! Figures!

PiggyBankBlues said...

haha, i totally agree. everything comes back to europe, perhaps it's just the colonialist in them...