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Below are 2 very insightful recommended diaries on the subject of food stamps in America which can be found at these links:

As I read these diaries I knew I had to write a diary in response to them. Did you know that virtually speaking the United States is the only major industrialized nation in the world that uses food stamps to humiliate its citizens. I became aware of that as an expat American living in the European Union. But that is not the surprising part of this diary. The surprising part is that one of the diarists who is obviously single doesn't mention how they can pay rent, because you can't pay rent using food stamps. Whereas in the European Union where I am living single people can routinely apply for cash benefits that may also be used to pay rent. Which brings to mind an old refrain from Michael Harrington, which is the US is among the least generous highly industrialized countries when it comes to so-called social benefit welfare payments.

This diary by way of contrast and comparison looks at the social safety net in the United States and the European Union. In doing so it looks at how single people as well as working families are treated by good old Yankee capitalism.

Now why am I talking about Michael Harrington? Well for our younger readers who have never heard of him, here is a Wikipedia link giving background information on this brilliant American.

"During this period Harrington wrote The Other America: Poverty in the United States, a book that had an impact on the Kennedy administration, and on Lyndon B. Johnson's subsequent War on Poverty."

Since his passing in 1989 his shoes as a defender of the American underclass have yet to be filled by anyone of his ilk.

One of the diaries referred to in the introduction of this diary talks about gratefully getting $100 a month in food stamps. Let's understand that in most of the Western European countries in the European Union, people receive nearly that much or in many cases more than that just for child allowance. Now you may ask what is child allowance? The reason you would have to ask that is because in America there is no such thing as child allowance, which is a benefit that everyone with kids gets to include millionaires. So every famous European parent you can think of Boris Becker, Steffi Graf, Mick Jagger, even at one point the Queen of England was eligible to receive it.

Why is it that no state in the Union gives cash benefits to single people? What would be the reason for that? Could it be to immediately impress those single people into poverty wage employment or crime. So it is that the crime statistics in the US by some coincidence are massively higher in the United States than in for example the European Union, along with the rates of incarceration.  

Though axiomatically speaking we all know the US has led the world in prison population in recent decades, let's look at a smaller dataset ranging from 2006 and a very informative interactive map provided at this link:

In absolute terms, the United States currently has the largest prison population in the world, with more than 2 million. In 2002, both Russia and China (the latter with a population 4 times that of the USA) also had prison populations in excess of 1 million.

As a percentage of total population, Rwanda has the largest prison population as of 2002, with more than 100,000 (of a total population of around 8 million), largely as a result of the 1994 genocide. The United States is second largest in relative numbers with 486 prisoners per 100,000 of population, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, also making it the largest in relative numbers amongst developed countries).

Prison population per 100,000 inhabitants

USA  725

Russia  713

Great Britain
and Northern Ireland  124

Canada  102

Germany   98

Italy     92

France    80

Sweden    64

Denmark   61

Iceland    29

In the United States we don't like to use words like hunger in America, instead we say food insecurity in America! which is a PC euphemism for hunger.

"There has been a dramatic increase in hunger in the United States in the last three years, 2008, 2009 and 2010. Statistics are only available for 2008.  US statistics do not measure hunger, they measure food insecurity and security"

How does the US social safety net protect working families?

Now this diary has taken a basic look at how we treat unemployed people living in poverty on the food stamp program. Now this diary will shift gears a bit and look at how good ole Yankee capitalism treats working families in America, and how it supports their family values. To which this diary asks the question in terms of providing a social safety net for working families, did you know that virtually speaking the United States is the only major industrialized nation in the world that doesn't offer job protected paid maternity leave by right of law. To which this diary offers a number of quotes below. In reviewing those quotes please ask yourself the question, what type of family values is Yankee capitalism promulgating for the working class?

Paternity Leave / international comparisons

Did you know that 157 countries offer paid maternity leave?
Check out Wikipedia: "Parental Leave": there's a shocking chart which is an embarassment to the United States

Would you please consider telling your friends, family about how our British cousins are provided with extensive maternity benefits which maybe shared by hetero-sexual couples, as well as same-sex couples and single parent families? Isn't it time that we in the U.S. adopted these types of progressive family friendly policies?

Now we're talking about real family values not just lip service.

Maternity Leave in Britain

BBC: In the UK, women get a year off, with the first six weeks on 90% pay, followed by 33 weeks on Statutory Maternity Pay. The rest is unpaid.
A spouse or partner of the woman (including same-sex relationships) may request a two week paid (at a fixed rate) paternity leave. Both the mother and her partner can additionally request non-paid parental leave, which can be for up to 4 weeks annually, with a current limit of 13 weeks.
Prime Minister David Cameron to take paternity leave after birth of daughter

Next let's take a quick look at real family values in the Republic of Ireland.

If you think this is interesting, please share it with a friend or even share it with your member of Congress.

Maternity Leave in Ireland
Length of time Maternity Benefit is paid

Maternity Benefit is paid for 26 weeks. At least 2 weeks and not more than 16 weeks leave must be taken before the end of the week in which your baby is due.

Let's compare and contrast that with the good old USA
where zero days of paid maternity leave are provided by right of law to families.

Now how do you feel about those types of family values?

Paid maternity leave - none.
Parental leave - Under the Family Medical Leave Act 2003 every qualifying individual has the right to 12 weeks unpaid family and medical leave, including parental leave. To qualify, they must have worked at least 1,250 hours in the last year for an employer who has more than 50 employees. Some States laws provide more or have less stringent qualifying conditions (see the US Study, September 2008 "A Detailed Look at Parental Leave Policies in 21 OECD Countries" by Rebecca Ray noted above)


Now let's look to our friendly neighbor to the north. I'm referring of course to the Canadians and in doing so please consider the package of maternity benefits that are guaranteed by right of law by the Canadian federal government to all families and please ask yourself what kind of family values are those and how do they contrast and compare to what we have in the US?

Canadian Maternity Leave
In Canada, maternity benefits for working mothers and parents remain the responsibility of the federal government. Canada’s Employment Insurance (EI) gives paid maternity leave for 15 weeks.


Let's look at Italy's maternity leave by right of law.

Maternity leave

During pregnancy, women have the right to a period of leave lasting two months prior to and three months following the expected date of childbirth

Australia just joined progressive nations all around the world by passing a paid parental leave act. Shouldn't we in the US do the same? Why should we deny working families the ability to fully participate in the benefits to society and wealth through their labor produce, by denying them paid maternity leave.  

The Australian Government will deliver Australia’s first national Paid Parental Leave scheme from 1 January 2011. It will provide eligible working parents with 18 weeks of pay at the weekly rate of the National Minimum Wage.

Paid parental leave for New Zealand:

You can receive paid parental leave for a maximum of 14 weeks. You can transfer your paid parental leave to your spouse or partner, as long as they also qualify for paid parental leave from their employer or self-employment.

Shouldn't we view the lack of paid maternity benefit as a de facto tax levied against working families in America as a methodology for depriving working families to be able to share in the value and wealth that they produce, but aren't able to fully participate in. In fact when we view the fact for example in the European Union when we adjust for the fact that they all have universal medical systems, paid child allowance, paid maternity leave, paid sick leave and aren't reduced to the humiliation of using food stamps and for the most part get 3 or 4 weeks paid vacation a year, that working families pay less taxes, work less hours and have on average longer life expectancies, than their counterparts in the US.  

Please tell us how do you feel about the lack of paid maternity leave in America today, and that America stands alone in its use of food stamps to try to humiliate its citizens in the grocery check out line. Please also share with our readers how you feel about what all this is doing to the American dream? We find ourselves in a posture where our health care reform measures will leave millions of uninsured Americans behind. Where the doors to college opportunity are being closed by ever higher tuition rates, wherein we note that the lifetime limit for the federal Stafford student loan program has not been increased in about 18 years. Where we find a prison population in the United States that has grown to over 2 million which represents a staggering loss of potential in the American society

Also please tell us about how many American companies who claim that they cannot afford to pay paid maternity leave in the United States, seem to have no problem paying them overseas in their European conglomerates? This diary is merely a discussion starter and by no means a comprehensive treatment of the subject matter, but has attempted to look at the American social safety net in a contrast and comparison to the social safety net as it presents itself in the European Union countries.

Originally posted to Democrats Ramshield on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 05:31 AM PDT.

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  •  Tip Jar (300+ / 0-)
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    Lupin, JekyllnHyde, Sylv, chrississippi, pundit, dwellscho, Chi, catdevotee, sny, BOHICA, SLKRR, grollen, decembersue, alyosha, teacherken, abarefootboy, tin woodswoman, Powered Grace, nicolemm, mattman, emal, tommurphy, RAST, LynChi, cotterperson, mntleo2, OLinda, Mnemosyne, MackInTheBox, elfling, mataliandy, niemann, RubDMC, opinionated, concernedamerican, afox, BlackSheep1, Cassandra77, nyceve, djMikulec, DaleA, ask, shanikka, taonow, JuliaAnn, nargel, skwimmer, Fe, Nate Roberts, Iberian, psnyder, mrkvica, brainwave, gmb, agincour, BMarshall, downandout, dwahzon, Chirons apprentice, Sychotic1, kalmoth, lcrp, Sophie Amrain, Diana in NoVa, zett, zerelda, ybruti, Kitsap River, TexasLefty, Emmy, American in Kathmandu, Daddy Bartholomew, Julie Gulden, Recovering Southern Baptist, maybeeso in michigan, Bluesee, radarlady, 3goldens, greycat, wsexson, relentless, Irons33, dancerat, Brooke In Seattle, chidmf, FutureNow, Heartcutter, GreyHawk, ladybug53, lotlizard, johnrhoffman, Ammo Hauler, FightTheFuture, stillrockin, Rogneid, Brian B, bookwoman, Unduna, JanL, ohcanada, Snud, terjeanderson, ThatBritGuy, splashoil, Jim P, vilegrrl, third Party please, vigilant meerkat, dharmafarmer, Themistoclea, seefleur, cliffradz, Lefty Coaster, blueoasis, paul2port, happy camper, Dauphin, tommyfocus2003, Demena, soccergrandmom, Pete Rock, Randian, RantNRaven, zedaker, airmarc, jjellin, poxonyou, lakehillsliberal, Eryk, bmcphail, Aaa T Tudeattack, bigchin, One Pissed Off Liberal, Noor B, marykk, lightfoot, DorothyT, Buckeye Hamburger, dotsright, jessical, Habitat Vic, Duke S, camlbacker, Cottagerose, DocbytheBay, Dartagnan, silverlil, Jimdotz, ezdidit, Unbozo, newpioneer, Corwin Weber, getlost, sabishi, letsgetreal, uciguy30, keikekaze, Jahiz, rmonroe, CroneWit, fayeforcure, rogerdaddy, mconvente, Devsd, Organic Mechanic, zerone, elwior, ajr111240, pkohan, Calamity Jean, Cassandra Waites, happymisanthropy, Tam in CA, tamasher, mofembot, S C B, kyril, mattc129, BYw, Blueslide, rodentrancher, magicsister, HoosierDeb, David Futurama, SolarMom, lissablack, statsone, ZhenRen, satanicpanic, FudgeFighter, Turn Left, Middlelines, cybrestrike, Ripeness Is All, smellybeast, Fonsia, Dirtandiron, aufklaerer, ceebee7, greengemini, radmul, Carol in San Antonio, stolen water, maryabein, pvlb, ScientistSteve, War on Error, IndyRobin, JesseCW, RageKage, zaka1, elziax, The Liberty of Meat, Hot2na, degreesofgray, allep10, Tzimisce, mdmslle, Flyswatterbanjo, Andhakari, edtastic, Livvy5, citisven, French Imp, Words In Action, plok, not this time, Amber6541, parse this, swaminathan, foufou, marabout40, Pebbles, Vacationland, estreya, ItsSimpleSimon, paradise50, Egalitare, NYWheeler, Funkygal, Betty Pinson, Toon, TigerStar337, Its a New Day, HylasBrook, Quantumlogic, BrowniesAreGood, gobears2000, angstall, Bluefin, PurpleThistles, sabo33, cv lurking gf, b4uknowit, QuestionAuthority, asterkitty, deeproots, Greek Goddess, marleycat, JWK, MRA NY, Sark Svemes, peregrine kate, Safina, Tyto Alba, Liberal Mole, Imhotepsings, Dr Marcos, Andrew F Cockburn, Wom Bat, Sedro, husl piper 11, SoCalSal, kev9100, lol chikinburd, jadt65, Regina in a Sears Kit House, Proleft, Azazello, JackLord, tinhut, Only Needs a Beat, laker, Tentwenty, Defiler, anodnhajo, Flying Goat, isabelle hayes, FireBird1, ahumbleopinion, dance you monster, oldcrow, Joieau, swampyankee, Shields, congenitalefty, Th0rn, jan4insight, Ruemara, supercereal

    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 Sep 12, 2010 at 05:31:56 AM PDT

    •  Thank you for facts, FINALLY! (55+ / 0-)

      ALSO...65% of German voters voted for an extraordinarily wise solarization plan where German citizens get paid a 10% premium if they generate power and send electricity back to their utilities! To pay for it, they also voted for price supports for those utilities - and higher taxes to do so!

      After thirty years of abysmal de-regulatory policies and magical thinking free market ideology, we are only at the start of the implementation of wise progressive policies that work.

      That non-violent drug offenders be treated to prevention and treatment regimes rather than incarceration is the only realistic way to combat the idiotic "War on drugs"/"Just say NO" policies that Reagan instituted.

      ...but we will continue to fight extremist Republican exhortations about "free markets" and "capitalism" and "FREEDOMz" and anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and even RACIST rhetoric. The President hasn't even begun to fight that.

      Arrogant, xenophobic dreams of "American Empire" are slowly being eroded as we face the fact that Reagan de-regulated government allowing corporations to corrupt Congress. So it'll be a hard pull. But it's starting.

      ...'06, '08, and ...'10? 'It was a trifecta of the peoples' outrage against Republicanism!'

      by ezdidit on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 09:18:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  you're right, (7+ / 2-)

        the prez hasn't begun to fight. unfortunately for us, it looks like he never will begin to fight. sad. he has the tools but lacks the will. he could have been a contender.

        "Liberalism is trust of the people, tempered by prudence; conservatism, distrust of people, tempered by fear." Gladstone, Me -8.88/-7.08

        by zedaker on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:17:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  He has not eschewed his roots. (9+ / 0-)

          He has only begun to fight!

          The crisis of parasitic capitalism - where plutonomy runs the place through wealth markets alone, and sheeple don't count - is the key symptom of its own corruption and downfall.

          We can recover from this decadence, but it will take more than 23 months. The greatest irony is that the wealthy benefit more than anyone else through the success of the middle class and the resurgence of a strong economy.

          ...but to say that...

          "the prez hasn't begun to fight. unfortunately for us, it looks like he never will begin to fight..."

 just not true at all!

          The whole country is talking about real solutions to thirty-year-old problems wrought since Reagan de-regulated Government, opened up the corruption of Congress and created the corporatocracy. In the fields of health care, banking/finance and even military reform, progressive policies are ascending through Presidential commissions!

          At State, we openly question dreams of Empire while we form policies of constructive engagement abroad where enemies of peace can be isolated and forced into conversation about the benefits of cooperation.  

          Free market ideology has been utterly repudiated by some of its most fervent expert economist advocates.

          Do you really think that we would be having these conversations at all if Republicans were now in charge??

          Your comment feeds the Republican lie - that Democratic policies aren't working. It's a Republican talking point, one of the only ones they have left. And on a blog/website that advocates for "more and better Democrats (not necessarily in that order)," it's really troll-worthy.

          But I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, because your comment is so easily refuted. I don't know what the hell prompted you, but I hope you'll vote, at least, and that you'll vote Democratic!

          ...'06, '08, and ...'10? 'It was a trifecta of the peoples' outrage against Republicanism!'

          by ezdidit on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 11:03:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Where has ezdidit mentioned the president? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          isabelle hayes

          I would say that you want to bring shit, because of all of those guilty of the situation of social benefits int he USA I would put President Obama not in that list.

        •  Is there nothing that happens (6+ / 0-)

          without bashing Obama? Is he the architect of the mess we're in? What kind of superhuman time traveler do you take him for and did you elect him to be your personal kind of dictator who can just magically overnight craft a progressive paradise?

          If you could watch yourself in action, would you be proud? I love everyone from a distance. A huge, huge, vast reaches of space, distance.

          by Ruemara on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 11:47:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  he's the "architect" as you put it (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Angela Quattrano

            of th clean up and he doesn't seem to be doing much besides moving piles around. in the meanwhile, millions suffer.

            "Liberalism is trust of the people, tempered by prudence; conservatism, distrust of people, tempered by fear." Gladstone, Me -8.88/-7.08

            by zedaker on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 12:12:13 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  HR for threadjacking -- (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          this is off topic and deliberately provocative.

          LBJ & Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees: Texas is No Bush League! -7.50,-5.59

          by BlackSheep1 on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 04:16:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  had your feelings hurt, too, i see (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Angela Quattrano

            it isn't threadjacking. ez raised the topic and i disagreed with his premise.

            you gave a bad hr.

            "Liberalism is trust of the people, tempered by prudence; conservatism, distrust of people, tempered by fear." Gladstone, Me -8.88/-7.08

            by zedaker on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 04:40:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Nope. Your comment (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              fits exactly this quote from the FAQ in my opinion:

              ou're saying that the comment is so bad -- so disruptive or damaging to the community -- that it isn't worth even a debate, but should be deleted from the discussion as being simply inflammatory, simply off-topic, or simply a lie. R

              LBJ & Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees: Texas is No Bush League! -7.50,-5.59

              by BlackSheep1 on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 04:47:01 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  you find truth inflammatory? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Angela Quattrano

                i don't. it seems to me your opinion is the minority opinion. that debate has been going on here for months and you just decide to get upset about it?

                you gave a bad hr. the comment fits none of that's neither off topic since ez raised the topic, nor is it a lie since i can't quite see how obama capitulating on so many issues constitutes "fighting"<nor is it unworthy of debate since the debate here is ongoing, nor is it inflammatory since it expressed simple disagreement with ez's premise.</p>

                like i said... you had your feelings hurt and gave a bad hr.

                "Liberalism is trust of the people, tempered by prudence; conservatism, distrust of people, tempered by fear." Gladstone, Me -8.88/-7.08

                by zedaker on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 05:33:01 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  No, I didn't "just decide to get upset," zedaker, (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  I've had a bellyful of this so-called debate. It's been going on here for months just because of incidents like this, where someone comes in and makes a clearly off-topic comment in an effort to stir up this meta-based pie-fight again.

                  We're disagreeing.

                  It's not a bad HR. If your feelings are hurt 'cause I wont' take it back, that's your problem.

                  LBJ & Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees: Texas is No Bush League! -7.50,-5.59

                  by BlackSheep1 on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 06:53:32 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  so you did just get upset. (0+ / 0-)

                    you just admitted it and the comment wasn't off topic it was about exactly that topic that ez was talking about. WTF didn't you hr him for "threadjacking" as you so blithely put it?

                    it is in fact a bad hr and i don't give a shit whether you take it back or not. you admit it's a bad one and that you abused your tu status because you've "had a bellyful".

                    next time, try an alka-seltzer.

                    "Liberalism is trust of the people, tempered by prudence; conservatism, distrust of people, tempered by fear." Gladstone, Me -8.88/-7.08

                    by zedaker on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:50:38 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

      •  To pay for those benefits (18+ / 0-)

        France and Germany invest in and protect high skilled unionized labor...and have much lower outlays for the military.
        I never thought the day would come when we would envy France, with its high unemployment, or be unable to compete with Germany.
        We have much to learn from our allies.
        Thanks for this fine diary.  More please.

        •  France, with it's high unemployment.. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Chi, mrkvica, BYw

          Have you checked the latest numbers?  It's pretty shocking:

          France 10% 2010 (June)
          United States 9.6% 2010 (June)

          (source: Wikipedia)

          Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. George Santayana

          by RAST on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 02:34:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  So what the hell does this prove, except that (0+ / 0-)

            the US can take the world down when we screw up our own economy? Add to that that France has many more in the under-30 population, typically a high unemployment population, than we do (proportionate to population).

      •  Reagan was a God (11+ / 0-)

        At least that what Fox will have you believe. Actually Reagan started all the garbage that led America to where she is today.

        •  It wasn't Reagan (10+ / 0-)

          I despise Reagan and all of his works, but the problem wasn't him, it was the American people who put him and right-wing corporate politics in power.  Welfare Cadillac stories wouldn't have worked if the American people weren't racist morons.  I worked on Carter's re-election campaign and I can tell you that the people who voted for Reagan were the same as our present day Tea Party.  Stupid, hateful, and completely unwilling to look at the consequences of letting the rich rule.

          •  Indeed. But subversion through (6+ / 0-)

            Reagan's surrogates who made a deal to release our hostages in Lebanon only after Reagan won - and the failure of our JSOC mission to get them out - screwed Carter as well.

            Reagan was the worst President before Bush II.

            And I agree with you about racism. It persists.

            Bigotry and hate remain just under the surface throughout our country - even in the Bluest of Blue districts in N.Y.C.

            I see it close-up, and it's painful, because we live together so closely - as neighbors - in our mostly cordial apartment buildings. In my building alone there are residents of all races (even US Indian!) and over thirty nationalities in only 124 apartments.
            The income demographic runs the gamut of poor to rich!

            And the variety of receptions I received as an Obama voter-registering advocate in 07-08 was unbelievable. Prick the skin of anyone and we all bleed the same, but the variety of responses I received from people was staggering.

            I met plain-spoken Republican AA's who are still pissed that welfare corrupted their whole generation - and whites who had a nice framed portrait of Martin Luther King, Jr. on their living room wall!

            And I found hate right at the lunch counter at my corner diner not 50 yards from my home, in 2007 - plainspoken hate in the primary run-up, from an old, white pro-Hillary biddy who said she'd never vote for a Black man for President. I worked my ass off that day and registered 27 new voters!

            That's how we won, and that's how we will continue to win race after race in election after election!

            ...'06, '08, and ...'10? 'It was a trifecta of the peoples' outrage against Republicanism!'

            by ezdidit on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 12:13:28 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Slight error here, the hostages were held in (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Foxwizard, Calamity Jean, allep10

              Iran, not Lebanon.

              Reagan's surrogates who made a deal to release our hostages in Lebanon

              Reagan's Lebanon FU was the deaths of 241 US servicemen (mostly Marines) placed into another Middle East cesspool as a futile exercise in "showing the flag".
              And, IMO, culpable dereliction of duty by those who made the decision (RR, Shultz, etc., Weinberger supposedly dissented), and those who failed to assure the Marines security (some commanding officers/planners, etc). They should have known such an action was possible, just like the 9/11-- "who could have known...?" excuse, some of our military even advised them so.
              The munitions used (truck bombs) were very well designed and extremely effective, probably guided by Iran in retaliation for our assistance to Saddam (remember him and all our connections to him?) and Iraq in their war.

              Semper Fi
              Semper Paratus

              Republicans: "Double your pleasure, double your fun, double your National Debt, and blame 'The One' "

              by Bluefin on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 03:34:01 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  I'd make the critical distinction (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ezdidit, Imhotepsings

            that is wasn't Americans who put corporate politics in power, but the US Congress which did nothing to prevent it (actually facilitated it), and allowed for deregulation and media consolidation to help misinform the people about what was actually happening to governance.

            •  The results were the same. (0+ / 0-)

              Congress was co-opted and, indeed, privatized.  

              ...'06, '08, and ...'10? 'It was a trifecta of the peoples' outrage against Republicanism!'

              by ezdidit on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 01:06:26 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  You were either not paying attention or not alive (0+ / 0-)

              then; the American people clamored for de-regulation. They couldn't wait to break up Ma Bell, which led to an overnight tripling of phone bills. They couldn't even hesitate when banks said they needed to get interest limits on credit cards removed, and interest rates immediately hit 30%. They couldn't think of any reason why GM and Chrysler's failures weren't the responsibility of labor, or why US Steel shouldn't break the steel workers.

              I was there, and I heard it, from rank and file voters of every ilk. It made me nauseous, but none could stand against the tide.

        •  They got it backwards. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ezdidit, allep10

          Reagan was a dog.

          "Ridicule may lawfully be employed where reason has no hope of success." -7.75/-6.05

          by QuestionAuthority on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 01:57:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I could almost think my dad made a mistake (18+ / 0-)

      though his timing was good, when he came here from France in the 1950s he was able to find more opportunity and did well for himself . He also had a strong teacher's union.

      Years ago I testified at some kind of meeting, not a formal hearing, but it was for my local state rep , that we needed paid maternity leave and more support for families of young children. It seems in the U.S. raising a child is only considered work if someone other than the parent does it

      -7.75, -6.05 And these wars; they can't be won Does anyone know or care how they begun?-Matt Bellamy

      by nicolemm on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 09:50:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What's your tax rate? (0+ / 0-)

      I have many European born acquaintances and friends.. and depending on their age and how long they have been here in the States, the subject of social services will always come up.. especially when their relatives still living their come into town.

      They sneer at how pitiful our social service system is.. education.. paid leaves, etc..  And, I have to agree with them that they have quite a lot of good services available to them.

      But then the conversation inevitably to turns to paying for those services.. and not one has ever spoken lovingly of the extreme tax rates they are forced to pay for them.  The young ones who work here and pay so much less in taxes almost always say they prefer it here.

      Even office clerks in Denmark have 50% or more going straight to the government.  Many are left with so little at the end of the month they can barely afford these tiny apartments to live in... with not much else left over.  (Your convoluted calculation that they pay less taxes in the end to the contrary... especially if they are not availing themselves of all those services.)

      So.. while I won't argue any of what you have said above..  I admonish you to tell the other side of the story when you write diaries like this, please.  Comparisons and contrasts deserve the full story and all the facts.

      IMHO, working families in America would never agree to anywhere near the tax rates they pay in Europe.

      "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - G. Marx

      by Skeptical Bastard on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:27:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I always love these anecdotal appeals... (16+ / 0-)

        because they have no basis in reality on the internet. Anyone can say "I have friends who..." Look, I'll try it: I have European friends who decided to come to American to study at University, and they can't wait to return to Europe where they have good health care and decent public transportation.

        This tactic may work at sites like Red State, but really not so much here.

        All you need to know is that the people have VOTED for these things. In a social democracy, that is what happens. As long as we know they are voting for these things, we know that they want them. And that they work. Your anecdotal appeals to emotion are meaningless.

        "Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities" Voltaire.

        by JWK on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:42:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You totally miss the point.. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mrkvica, Bluefin

          and perhaps that is my fault.

          The point is, you cannot compare the US to the EU because the tax rates are wildly different.

          The two go hand in hand.

          And I do realize they voted for those taxes.  The problem is, though, that you would never get Americans to vote for those kind of tax rates, even those a vast majority of voters would benefit from those type of social benefits.

          "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - G. Marx

          by Skeptical Bastard on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:56:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not so fast. My taxes amount to about 40% of (27+ / 0-)

            income, including federal, state and sales and local taxes. For this I get -- shit. Massive amounts of largesse are showered upon corporations, sports teams, and billionaires. Even the services I pay for : Old age retirment assistance and unemployment benefits -- both of which are INSURANCE programs I pay for, are being taken away after my lifetime of working for them.

            Only the wealthy recieve government services. I have to pay to use the national parks, to enter national monuments, and am not even allowed to photograph those monuments because of fucking "National Security" concerns.

            At least the Europeans get something for their taxes, except longer hours and attacks from my congressmen about how lazy I am because I'm not rich.

            So, please -- put a sock in it.

            •  pls recommend Foxwizard's post (10+ / 0-)

              Your post was categorically outstanding. Thank you for extending yourself to make those well thought out salient points. I think you have taught many of us something from your post.

              One thing Americans do get for all the taxes they pay is the best funded military in the world. I believe we spend more on military spending than does the rest of the world combined. Personally I wish we would spend some of that money on providing state pensions to Americans that cannot be stolen by Wall Street and in guaranteed single payer cradle to grave medical access plan, that cannot be taken away.

              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 Sep 12, 2010 at 11:40:05 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Thanks for mentioning the military; unfortunately (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mrkvica, Calamity Jean

                while it is the most expensive, I don't believe it is the "best funded". We spend enormous amounts of money on sophisticated weapons systems designed to fight -- the Soviet Union. We're very big on spending for an elusive missile shield, satellite attack weapons and drones. But hardly any seems to go to the conventional small arms and tactics needed for counter insurgency; and even less is spent educating our officer corps about the need for military/political synchronization needed in fighting guerilla conflicts. And these are the types of war we are facing in the 21st century -- the wars of empire, which we invariable lose.

                What's the saying developed in the late 20th century, after the battle of Algiers? The side with the helicopters always loses.

                So much of our money is wasted, to fill the coffers of defense giants, because they make this component there, and that component here, and convince congress we NEED the missile, the tank, the ray gun they just happen to be building.

                Meanwhile, two wars are fought without being paid for and without asking for sacrifice, especially by the very people most capable of sacrificing.

              •  True, within a few percentage points. (0+ / 0-)

                I believe we spend more on military spending than does the rest of the world combined.

                Renewable energy brings national security.

                by Calamity Jean on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 05:01:42 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  The universal benefits (12+ / 0-)

            need to come first. People will be willing to support with their taxes real benefits they get. Right now what do they get for their taxes? Crumbling infrastructure and a barely there safety net and a massive "defense" industry that brings them no apparent benefit but enriches the connected corporations and individuals that are the beneficiaries of it.

            •  to ThOrn - thanks for the really great post (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Calamity Jean, Th0rn

              You make some excellent points. Thanks again for extending yourself to post.

              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 Sep 12, 2010 at 11:41:32 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  In my experience (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                zett, The Liberty of Meat

                dkos is happy to support Democrats but mostly indifferent to actual progressive thought, or if it involves criticism of Democrats, actively hostile to actual progressive thought. How positive change will come from an activist base trained to be like that I don't know. Good to see your fine diary is being received well here.

          •  to Skeptical Bastard (10+ / 0-)

            IMHO your well written post does acknowledge that most Americans would benefit from the European style social safety net and for that I applaud you. The truth is main street Americans are unlikely to give you any opportunity in terms of a referendum as to whether or not they will receive the benefits of a EU social safety net. Indeed from every statistical measure working people in America, particularly in recent years are not being allowed to participate in the benefits of their fair share of the wealth that their labor is producing. Indeed the fruits of their labor are not allowed to go to them, or their heirs, but rather they wind up in the pockets of the ultra-wealthy in a posture where 1% of the population owns the majority of all assets in the US. The primary methodology of transmitting that wealth is by inheritance.

            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 Sep 12, 2010 at 11:35:42 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  it's not only that.. it's inefficient. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Not only does a lot of middle-class income go to the very wealthy.. but a lot is just plain wasted.

              Healthcare is first on that list.  Single payer makes the most sense, but there are other forms (universal catstrophic coverage, for instance - my diary on that) that would come very close.

              We just passed a healthcare bill that will waste billions on subsidizing health insurance premiums.. very often for healthy people, rather than paying for care as needed.

              Totally inefficient.

              "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - G. Marx

              by Skeptical Bastard on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 02:42:15 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  And they always comment on cleanliness (15+ / 0-)

          How American cities are filthy compared to European cities. And unsafe, particularly for women. Most that I have known regard us as a third world country. Additionally, when faced with medical issues, all have returned to Europe.

        •  JWK - thanks for the great post (8+ / 0-)

          The problem with conservatives is they are looking for a free lunch, honestly. Whatever happened to the notion if you want a good social safety net leading to low crime, and you want a decent safe clean society with good infrastructure, good roads, good schools, safe bridges and tunnels, you have to be willing to pay for it. You've got to me willing to pony up your fair share of taxes, because there is no such thing as a free lunch, and that is something that republicans don't understand.

          By contrast republicans are willing to bankrupt the country if only it means enriching themselves. They are always looking for something for nothing and progressives are sick of it.

          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 Sep 12, 2010 at 11:29:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  This diary is great, DR, but this is a bit (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            of a contradiction:

            ...because there is no such thing as a free lunch...

            They are always looking for something for nothing...

            The frikken Rescumlicans know damn well how to 'eat all you can' of those 'free lunches' while we peons pay for them.

            Republicans: "Double your pleasure, double your fun, double your National Debt, and blame 'The One' "

            by Bluefin on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 03:46:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Aye. Even as the GOP says it, they run their (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ChemBob, Bluefin

              greedy hands through the till yet again, stealing the fruits of our labor.

              We have yet to confront the overwhelming, one-sided hypocrisy of the Republican party. Democrats don't even come close on this: the GOP is a very public shill for the wealthiest 1% against us, the 99%; but people go on believing that anything done for the 99 must necessarily penalize the 1, and is therefore communist/socialist/theivery/class warfare.

              I can't even drink this dichotomy away anymore. My eyes cross just thinking about it.

      •  Speak for yourself, Skep (10+ / 0-)

        I'd gladly pay more taxes to get what my relatives in England and Australia get.  Some of them have serious diseases--cancer, multiple sclerosis--and guess what, they still live in their houses.  They're not bankrupt.  They have health care.  And my nieces all went to college, and guess what--their parents aren't living in a cardboard box at the edge of the city dump.

        My granddaughter is 19 months old and I've been saving for her college education since she was born.  But however much I save, it won't be enough, so I hope she winds up brilliant and able to get a scholarship.

        Yes, I'm het, but I'm NOT a Mad Hetter!

        by Diana in NoVa on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:44:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  to Skeptical Bastard (5+ / 0-)

        Your interesting well written post ignores one simple fact, beyond the idea that most families in Europe barely pay more in taxes than they do in the States, especially when you consider the range of social services they pay for with their taxes, which are commercially unavailable in the US, such as child allowance for every child, unemployment insurance that includes health insurance coverage from cradle to grave. State pensions which cannot be stolen by Wall St and then there is the paid sick leave benefit required by law. Most countries in the EU don't charge tuition. Now how much do you have to put away for your childrens' tuition every month.

        Then there is the idea that everyone gets a paid maternity leave. Someone please help me remember why is it only if you pay for something through the free market that it is your money. But if you pay for something through the tax system then it is not your money, although if you pay for something through the tax system you can get economies of scale going, and then it is cheaper for everyone, because everyone is invested. So for that reason in my humble opinion higher taxes for working families particularly if they have lots of kids in my humble opinion is a red herring fallacy. Of course if you have time to respond I look forward to reading your post. Thanks for extending yourself to comment.

        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 Sep 12, 2010 at 11:26:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I disagree with your "simple fact" (0+ / 0-)

          That "fact" is only true if one is availing themselves of services they would otherwise pay for out-of-pocket here in the USA.

          For instance, child care.  Here in the US child care is very costly.  It can eat up half of one's monthly salary easily.. almost to the point of a person dropping out of the work force because the income just doesn't make it worthwhile.

          If you have no kids, though, you receive no benefit personally from your taxes that go to pay for that service.

          It's a matter of attitude toward social responsibility.  Here, the childless couple would say "Why should I pay extra because those people decided to have children?  That is their personal decision, they should be responsible for the child care fees, not me."

          Multiply that by all the services (tuition, etc.) paid for in Europe and you get the idea..

          I don't see attitudinal changes happening in my lifetime..

          "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - G. Marx

          by Skeptical Bastard on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 11:50:02 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Higher tax rate (8+ / 0-)

        True , but you get things out it. I hardly get anything but cruise missiles from my lower USA taxes. I rather pay more and get a service than pay less and get wars.

      •  Nobody likes taxes (7+ / 0-)

        America doesn't have to raise taxes she just has to decide what is important. Should three billion dollars be spent on a payback war because Saadam made fun of Daddy or should America rebuild her infrastructure or pass health care legislation. It's just about distribution.

      •  I earn 15$ and am slowly going under (7+ / 0-)

        my tax rate is about 18%. I would gladly pay 30% if I could go to a doctor without worrying about copays, if I could get food stamps and some home aid without it being a "loan" or public scorn and if I had several weeks of sick leave, so I could stop dragging my aching back out to work for a week or two, without worrying that I might be next in line for firing to do so.

        There are times I wish my parents had opted to head for London, not NY.

        If you could watch yourself in action, would you be proud? I love everyone from a distance. A huge, huge, vast reaches of space, distance.

        by Ruemara on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 11:51:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Tax rate in France on income above E70k (4+ / 0-)

        is 40% in 2010.  That's close to $90K now that the Euro has declined.
        From 26k to 69K in Euros, it's 30%.
        They also have a value added tax.
        But on the whole, not a bad bargain compared to the US with its state taxes and sales taxes, seeing as how they get a real safety net, a great transportation system, universal day care, the world's best medical care, etc., in return.
        I'm no expert on this, but I wish we'd spend more time analyzing why these countries we helped with the Marshall Plan when they were on their knees are now stopping our clocks.

        •  The answer is Ayn Rand, and those who (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Calamity Jean

          worship her.

          •  That's at least a major factor. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            maybeeso in michigan, Foxwizard

            The answer is Ayn Rand, and those who worship her.

            Renewable energy brings national security.

            by Calamity Jean on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 05:08:39 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes, I attribute to Rand the radicalization of (0+ / 0-)

              the signal American myth of the "rugged individual," into he current heresy of the "rugged individual ALONE."

              In a nutshell, the rugged individual myth is a useful construct for understanding how our cultural ancestors have all come to an unexplored continent and carved out their place in the wilderness. (This is true even of the most recent immigrants, who come into a strange society and claim their place in it; even immigrants live in communities). The emphasis on the individual is useful shorthand for the enshrinement of the enlightenment ideal of natural dignity and rights of each person. The rugged, of course, is the opposite of the dandy aristocrat forcing his will on others by manipulating levers of power he/she hasn't really earned. It expresses the signature belief that humans, unburdened of tyranny, can stand with dignity and build their own lives in a community of free human beings.

              In our nation's tradition, this individual always lived and operated in community. As isolated as the American frontier was, the settlers always existed in relationship to each other as well as the land. They banded together for defense and support. When someone needed a barn, the whole community built it, for example. Even the mountain men did not exist by and to themselves. They were the bridge between the Europeans and the native peoples.

              Rand's "objectivism" managed to excise the individual from the community. She banished the idea of community to the world of fairy tales, and elevated the individual to god-like self-worshiping status. It's no accident that all modern conservatives, from William F. Buckley to Nixon, to Reagan and Bush, revere both Rand and her philosophy. While Horatio Alger was understood to be representative of the people, to modern conservatives this is reversed -- the people only represent the individual. 19th century Americans managed to keep the tension of the individual and the community alive; for Rand and her followers, there was only room for the individual.

              That is how they can ponder the "Gaulting" of the economy -- the shutdown of the economy because the individuals with all the resources can just quit, and without them the entire community must shut down. The whole philosophy ignores the importance of, well, all the other people. One who worships himself cannot allow others to have any importance whatsoever.

              So Cheney can declare there is no such thing as society. To him, there can't be, because there can be no one of importance outside himself. Objectivism demands such radical individualism.

              I know I painted with a broad brush here, and glossed over a lot; but I believe this is the American Mythology and have tried to show how the Randians have distorted it out of recognition and out of touch with reality.

              Without that distortion (which began, btw, about the time Herbert Spencer's Social Darwinism seeped across the ocean), it would be far easier for the US to adopt the Democratic Socialism of the European democracies.

      •  43% (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Chi, mrkvica, French Imp, Bluefin

        which includes federal, state and local taxes. That also includes health insurance (I live in Germany). People in the US complain about European taxation rates, but when everything is factored in we don't actually pay that much more over here and get a MUCH more functional society. One interesting point I should note is that the high taxation rate is largely offset by the otherwise low cost of living (excluding clothing, which is seriously overpriced here).

        Not that the German tax system is perfect, of course. It can only barely be considered progressive (see this graphic on wikipedia for details). There's also no tax difference when only one spouse in a couple is working.

        Research science: a series of failures sporadically punctuated by success

        by dpryan on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 12:38:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  disagree (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        by this time, working people in the u.s. realize that they have no safety net, and if they were given a job with high taxes but security, they'd grow sensible in a hurry

      •  U.S. taxes and Europe's aren't comparable. (5+ / 0-)

        Americans have to add the cost of our health "care" (i.e., health insurance) and everything else that we have to pay out of pocket on a case-by-case basis and that Europeans don't to our official "tax rate" before our "tax rates" can honestly be compared with Europe's.  And when all is tallied up, our rates don't compare favorably to theirs.  Americans do, in fact, pay out more and get less in return than Europeans.

        And your slurs on the European lifestyle are laughable.  "Those tiny apartments"--like the "tiny apartments" of wealthy New Yorkers--are more than adequate to the needs of real people.  American fools have been sold on the idea that they each (mom, dad, and each kid) need 12,000 feet of separate space to live in, which is why they're all underwater on their mortgages.  

        But most Americans are not fools.  Would a majority of working families in America agree to pay European tax rates, if they got their health care, retirement, vacations, leaves, and everything else thrown in?  In a heartbeat.  You bet your ass they would.  Would everybody vote for such tax increases?  No.  Would a majority?  Yes.

        "Americans are a wonderful people: They will always do the right thing--after exhausting every other possible alternative."--Winston Churchill

        by keikekaze on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 02:21:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Frankly, I don't believe you.. (0+ / 0-)

          You are dreaming..  If what you say were true, we would have had single payer healthcare..  in a heartbeat.

          And that wasn't a slur.. it was reality.  Europeans settle for less than Americans.  You are correct that Americans have fooled themselves into thinking they need lots of space, and are willing to pay for it.

          But that is the reality of living in America.  That is the mindset of the vast majority of Americans.

          You would never get tax increases a la EU countries passed here. Never.

          "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - G. Marx

          by Skeptical Bastard on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 02:34:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I totally disagree. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            poxonyou, keikekaze

            We don't settle for less. We settle for more. You are under the hypnotic power of Kaapitalism, that's all.
            Wake up Mowgli before it's too late!

          •  "Getting them passed" is a FAR different thing (6+ / 0-)

            . . . than "agreeing to them."  No, we're not likely to get any legislation--no matter how desirable and how socially visionary--passed, so long as the only political "parties" we have are Democrats and Republicans, both of whom are wholly owned by corporate interests.  Corporate interests don't want their taxes raised, and that's the end of it, of course, when corporate interests rule both parties.

            This has nothing to do with what the people want.  As all polls demonstrate, the people--by very large majorities--want better health care, better schools, better job and retirement security, and a whole lot of other things that they know very well would raise their taxes.  But they also know that the benefits would be worth it.

            The reason we don't have single payer already is nothing other than that corporate interests control "both" political "parties."  If they didn't, we'd have had single payer under the Clintons, let alone Obama.  The people aren't opposed to it.

            "Americans are a wonderful people: They will always do the right thing--after exhausting every other possible alternative."--Winston Churchill

            by keikekaze on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 03:43:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  But we HAVE "settled" for tax rates similar to (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SLKRR, poxonyou, Cottagerose, keikekaze

            the EU, at least most of us working fools have. The only ones who really get their taxes cut are the millionaires and billionaires. They pay a lower rate on less of their income than their secretaries and janitors.

            Us working stiffs pay about as much as 50% of our income in taxes, and get nothing for it. The EU's 43% tax rate looks like a bargain from here. Yet, we could accomplish their safety net with the current tax structure, just by taxing the very wealthy the same amount they were taxed in 1975!

        •  Entirely true. (7+ / 0-)

          You have a tiny apartment if you live in a big metropolis. If you live in the country then you can have a large house... but you need to have a car. When I lived in Paris I didn't have a car and I didn't miss it, that was luxury!

          Besides, how do you take into account the fact that in the us, if you're sick you may end up loosing your home? How many dollars or euros is it worth living in a society where, when your child is ill, you can take care of your child and don't have to worry about how you're going to pay for treatment, how you'll keep your job or your appartment?

        •  OK, so I was an expat in Germany from (9+ / 0-)

          1983--1993. Things have changed a lot since then (mostly under the influence of big brother/uncle sam: I.e. the american system), but, one way I try to break it down to my fellow Americans is this:

          WHen I graduated from college with a BA in liberal arts, there was a legal MANDATE on how much I was entitled to get paid based on my income. So, if employer X wanted to hire me, he had to offer me at least X amount of dollars. He was not permitted to offer me less.

          Employer X could not FIRE me for calling in sick, not even if I fell ill for an extended period of time. If I called in sick for more than three days, the only requirement was that I provide written documentation from my physician. If I came down with stage 4 cancer, the employer could not kick me off the payroll. (He MAY have been entitled to some sort of gov kickback for continuing to pay me, but he could NOT fire me.)

          I was furthermore entitled to a minimum of 6 weeks paid vacation in my first year of employment. 6 weeks paid. I'm not sure whether the part about "13th salary" and "vacation pay" in the second year was also mandated by law, or just common practice so that no employer would be able to retain employees without it, but, after the first more or less "probationary" year on a job, at the end of the year, everyone got a "13th salary"==that meant a full month's salary as a "christmas bonus." Also in the second year, in addition to full payment during the six week vacation, most employers handed out "vacation money." That is, you not only got 6 weeks paid vacation, you also got a  nice little chunk of change to SPEND on your vacation (in my income bracket, it was the equivalent of about 500 bucks).

          So let's say employer X did find some legitimate reason to fire me (it was almost impossible to fire people, even for grave incompetence). The one loophole in the law for an employer who wanted to get rid of you was that he could claim economic hardship (for example, a manufacturer not having sufficient contracts to keep you on).

          Once you lost your job, you were entitled to unemployment comp in the amount of 68% of your salary for 6 months. During that time, you were not required to accept any employment beneath your federally mandated salary level. After six months, the amount was lowered to about 64% (I believe, sorry, I'm citing from memory), and you were entitled to that for at least another year, depending on how long you had been employed (and hence had paid INTO the system). After that, you ended up drawing "Sozialhife" which was essentially the German version of Welfare (Except that it was much more dignified, i.e. you didn't have to stand in long lines and get treated like a social pariah to get it). It was, I believe 58 % of your salary, and you were entitled to collect it until you found employment. For the chronically unemployed, the German gov may have required that they participate in re-training to make them more employable.

          So that just for starters.

          And my experience was that we were HAPPY to pay the high taxes, not just because we knew that we might benefit from it ourselves someday, but because we were also happy to make sure EVERYONE had at least their basic needs met.

          When I lived in Germany in the eighties, there wasn't even a word in the Germanb language for "homeless" people, except with reference to those folks who'd been left homeless by WWII.

          There was also no word for "drive by shooting", and there was certainly a general awareness in the working public that part of what we were paying for with this system was "crime prevention" because usually, people don't resort to crime unless they're really, really desperate. Yeah, so the "social safety net" also helped keep crime down.

          Now. Shit. Give it another ten years. The differences between the systems shrink every year.

          People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered: forgive 'em anyway. --anonymous

          by b4uknowit on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 03:19:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  as long as Germany and the EU are run by th right (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            it will continue to get worse. More unemployment, more poverty, more homeless, "entitlement" cuts, higher crime rates. The EU is hardly democratic in nature and strongly favors capitalist neoliberal policies. The problem is the mainstream left parties in Germany and France, the biggest players in the EU, support it as well. Capitalist parties dishing out a few more crumbs and with a friendlier face.

            "I think we're an Oligarchy and I think it's getting worse." - Sen. Bernie Sanders

            by PoxOnYou on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 01:12:52 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Well I agree with most of what you state, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          but, damn it, I'll keep my acres and acres thank you very much (having spent way too much time working in crowded cities and 'living' in corporate apartments/hotels).

          Republicans: "Double your pleasure, double your fun, double your National Debt, and blame 'The One' "

          by Bluefin on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 03:57:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  My experience is the opposite of yours. (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            blueoasis, poxonyou, Foxwizard, Bluefin

            I own a house now, in a suburb.  But some of the happiest days of my life were spent in "tiny" (though not really all that tiny--more than adequate) apartments in San Francisco.  I long to move back to a "tiny" apartment--with an excellent bakery/coffeshop immediately downstairs, another one right across the street, an excellent bookstore adjacent to that, a fun movie revival house a few doors down, etc., etc., etc.

            "Americans are a wonderful people: They will always do the right thing--after exhausting every other possible alternative."--Winston Churchill

            by keikekaze on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 04:25:19 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Me too; but I can no longer afford it. In Atlanta (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              poxonyou, keikekaze, Bluefin

              such apartments and condos cost from 2k/month up to $2 million for purchase.

              •  Some European cities have price controls (0+ / 0-)

                to prevent the rich and elite from buying up all the property and shooting the prices up. There is a black market that develops however, but it all seems to work out (otherwise, newcomers would have almost no chance of renting a place for months or years).

                "I think we're an Oligarchy and I think it's getting worse." - Sen. Bernie Sanders

                by PoxOnYou on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 01:17:08 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  Bollocks (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        poxonyou, Cottagerose, Foxwizard
        Denmark is a unique case in Europe.

        No one in the rest of Europe pays anything like 50%, unless they're in the top earning bracket. And if they are they're probably offshored.

        And while Danes compain, the economy works for them, and what actually matters isn't tax but disposable income. On that basis Denmark is hugely more successful than the US, where the top 10% of the population has disposable income, but the remaining 90% are scraping by and hoping they won't be raped by a health crisis or some other disaster.

        The actual tax rate for the majority of tax payers in the UK is either roughly equal to or less than the equivalent US rate.

        Generally the poor pay less than they do in the US, because they're supported by tax breaks and credits.

        The middle classes pay slightly more, and the rich pay a lot more - although they can pay little or nothing, depending how their income is derived.

        *"Taxes are higher in Europe" is a lie.*

        It's true for the rich ultra-minority, but not for the non-rich democratic majority.

        UK tax bands
        French tax bands

        "Be kind" - is that a religion?

        by ThatBritGuy on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 03:52:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I have a niece in the U.K. and 4 in Australia (8+ / 0-)

      And I have been amazed at the maternity benefits they receive.  Why is the USA so uncivilized?  Does it make us happier?  No.  Does it make the children happier?  Not that I'm aware of.

      My daughter-in-law managed to get 10 weeks off, mostly unpaid, after the (Caesarean) birth of my granddaughter. Then she had to go back to work.  Luckily I'm retired and more than willing to look after our precious baby.  But many aren't in such a fortunate position as my family.  It's a disgrace that we don't give more help to parents.  

      Yes, I'm het, but I'm NOT a Mad Hetter!

      by Diana in NoVa on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:41:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  American Politicians LOVE to dump on Single Folks (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chi, poxonyou, Foxwizard, Bluefin

      I guess that how they demonstrate their commitment to families, by treating single people like their problems making ends meet are of no consequence.

      Back in the bad old Reagan era single people weren't even allowed to get food stamps. If you were single you had two choices in the 1980s to dumpster dive or find a mission on Skid Row.

      Our politicians continue to shit on 44.3 percent of adults with zero political price to be paid. That needs to change

      "These old Wall Street boys are putting up an awful fight to keep the government from putting a cop on their corner." - Will Rogers

      by Lefty Coaster on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 01:34:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Because Ronald Reagan changed the conversation (169+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sylv, chrississippi, coral, Chi, SLKRR, decembersue, teacherken, nicolemm, mattman, emal, jethropalerobber, tommurphy, RAST, LynChi, Mnemosyne, elfling, HighSticking, opinionated, concernedamerican, Cassandra77, DaleA, Bensdad, shanikka, MadEye, Iberian, brainwave, TiaRachel, potatohead, BMarshall, downandout, Black Maned Pensator, Chirons apprentice, Sychotic1, kalmoth, lcrp, barbwires, zett, zerelda, Kitsap River, TexasLefty, Daddy Bartholomew, xxdr zombiexx, maybeeso in michigan, 3goldens, wsexson, relentless, PBen, dancerat, LNK, GreyHawk, Fury, ladybug53, lotlizard, ADamiani, FightTheFuture, Rogneid, Unduna, JanF, Jim P, vilegrrl, hatrabbit, third Party please, virgomusic, Themistoclea, seefleur, cliffradz, blueoasis, Farradin, A Siegel, gatorcog, paul2port, happy camper, Dauphin, tommyfocus2003, Demena, Randian, MrJersey, RantNRaven, zedaker, poxonyou, lakehillsliberal, bmcphail, One Pissed Off Liberal, Noor B, lightfoot, Habitat Vic, camlbacker, Cottagerose, DocbytheBay, Foxwizard, frisbee, newpioneer, letsgetreal, beemerr, Jahiz, CroneWit, rogerdaddy, bkamr, mconvente, kimoconnor, ScottyUrb, elwior, Calamity Jean, mayim, Cassandra Waites, Tam in CA, kyril, mattc129, joy sinha, Blueslide, rodentrancher, GrannyOPhilly, statsone, satanicpanic, FudgeFighter, cybrestrike, Ripeness Is All, Fonsia, Dirtandiron, aufklaerer, greengemini, Michael James, maryabein, Fixed Point Theorem, The Liberty of Meat, IngeniousGirl, mdmslle, Flyswatterbanjo, DaNang65, Livvy5, Larsstephens, marabout40, Vacationland, ItsSimpleSimon, Benintn, Egalitare, Grumpy Young Man, addisnana, Betty Pinson, Toon, TigerStar337, HylasBrook, Quantumlogic, theKgirls, gobears2000, angstall, sabo33, princesspat, marleycat, Safina, mali muso, Wom Bat, Democrats Ramshield, kev9100, Lucy2009, Azazello, JackLord, Only Needs a Beat, ridemybike, farleftloon, FireBird1, ahumbleopinion, oneshot, Joieau, swampyankee, Th0rn, jan4insight, Ruemara, supercereal

    from "are WE better off" to "are YOU better off" and we've never recovered.

    If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

    by marykk on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 05:47:34 AM PDT

    •  marykk - thanks for the really great comment (58+ / 0-)

      Most people forget that at the time Ronald Reagan signed the largest tax increase in American history all the way from George Washington all the way up to the Reagan watch. Of course it was overwhelmingly the rich who benefited from the Reagan history. You're right working people never recovered from the Reagan era, and the things the Reagan administration set in motion.

      One other example of that is the Federal Poverty Program known as the Stafford student loan has not been increased in terms of its lifetime loan limit for about 18 years now, so poor people basically can't get through grad school anymore, unless they are fortunate enough to get some kind of scholarship or teaching assistantship.

      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 Sep 12, 2010 at 05:55:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ironically, Europeans have to thank the US of A. (36+ / 0-)

        Granted, the labor movement, and the corresponding Workers' and Socialist parties, have historically been much stronger in Europe.

        Granted, the Cold War's main 'theater' was Central Europe, so the need to 'make capitalism appear humane' was much bigger than in, say, central Michigan.

        Still, we have to face the fact that it was US policies that quite clearly dictated a social democratic order for the 'Big Four' of Western Europe: West Germany, Great Britain, France, and Italy.

        Germany has the most generous welfare system among the big industrialized countries especially because its western part was under direct influence of the USA for quite some time after the war.

        So, American politicians knew exactly how to construct a very efficient welfare system. Or an electoral system, for that matter.

        And Germany is the most successful capitalist country right now - their economy booming, while most capitalist nations still suffer from the recession (Australia is an exception, because of the large extraction sector in their economy - they sell natural resources to China)  

        Welfare capitalism is more successful than Anglo-Saxon capitalism
        (or YOYO - You're On Your Own)

        That's why Obama tried to reform health care - it's a competitive advantage to have a HC system that works for all...

        "The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx, Theses on Feuerbach XI

        by aufklaerer on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:25:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  E.g. nation building ... (22+ / 0-)

          The U.S. helped construct, in many ways, societies post WWII in Europe (and Japan) that have many strengths absent in the United States in part to assure social order to inhibit a future Hitler from arising.

          PS:  Basically, part of the problem, imo, is that there are real strengths to societies on both sides of the Atlantic and we would, all, be better off if we learned how to take lessons, best practices, and good ideas from each other.

          Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

          by A Siegel on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:42:02 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Let's just hope it doesn't take more wars... (11+ / 0-)

            Partly, the advantages the European systems have are due to the fact that their societies had to be reconstructed from scratch, anyway. It's always easier to implement change if there are practically no strong vested interests. This situation practically never occurs other than after a war...

            You are very correct in adding 'fear of a new Hitler' as an important motive for creating strong social safety networks that would protect the working class from poverty, which is rightly associated with political turmoil.

            Perhaps, the important lesson to take away is that it takes strong pressures from the Left (France, Italy, where there are dozens of Socialist, Communist, Anarchist parties, and strong unions) the Right (Japan with a strong right-wing movement) or from Left & Right (Germany having both a strong conservative tradition on the right and a natural inclination to Marxism on the left, coupled with a well-organized, powerful labor movement) to change the political trajectory of the mainstream (as defined by the time by the State Department and its officials in Europe)

            "The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx, Theses on Feuerbach XI

            by aufklaerer on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 09:09:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  to aufklaerer - if you or some of our other (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              aufklaerer, Larsstephens

              knowledgeable posters are interested in collaborating on future diaries, please feel free to send me email.


              Thanks again for the very informative posts. I am sure our readers have appreciated the level of detail you and some of our other posters have provided.

              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 Sep 12, 2010 at 11:53:01 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Hubby and I would move to Germany... (17+ / 0-)

          if we could afford it.   My son lives there getting his PhD) and loves's not a perfect system but it's far better than here.  They actually care about people over there and he can't complain about the health care.  We visited him for a month 2 years ago and were so impressed with the country and it's people.

          "What, Me Worry?"...King George Walker Alfred Eusless Newman Bush

          by RantNRaven on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:54:19 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I lived and worked in Germany (11+ / 0-)

            for a year just outside Heidelberg--beautiful city, gorgeous walkway, great university (basically, free), extraordinary mass transit and very good healthcare.

            Oh, and their beer is far better than any US domestic.

            Downsides? Higher taxes, fattening food (if you're not careful the bratwurst adds up :-).

            Was it worth it?

            You betcha!

            90% tax on all income over a million or more: a simple solution to funding Healthcare Reform, extending Social Security benefits and other budgetary concerns.

            by DelicateMonster on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:06:20 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  to RantNRaven - generally speaking even Americans (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Chi, aufklaerer, Larsstephens

            studying in Germany don't have to pay tuition. As a parent of a PhD student how do you feel about that issue if I may ask please? thanks for posting.

            Most Americans don't know that generally in the EU there is no such thing as tuition in continental Western Europe.

            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 Sep 12, 2010 at 11:55:21 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  To Democrats Ramshield.... (0+ / 0-)

              My son is on a stipend....he has a Marie Curie Fellowship so his tuition and books and supplies are paid for and he gets a stipend for living expenses.....which does not actually cover living expenses as he has to travel quite a bit for his scientific research and not all of his travel expenses are paid for.  He lives in Leipzig and loves it do we.

              For his Master's, he was in the UK and most definitely had tuition to pay, but he got student loans of which most are deferred for a while (and we helped out a little).

              It's a shame that we don't have a society here which supports free tuition and stresses education over profit like most of our universities with rich endowment funds.......I surely support it!  And I do believe that most Americans are unaware of the free education that most Europeans enjoy.

              The EU has the right idea about so many things....I know they have their problems there, but their whole attitude about life is much more reverent and joyous and laid back.  I wish we were more like the EU but when I voice that opinion around here (except around our group of commiepinkoliberal friends) people are incensed......those horrible Social Democracies with their socialists running around ruining everything!

              Sorry I took so long to probs until it finally got straightened out tonight....

     your sig line!

              "What, Me Worry?"...King George Walker Alfred Eusless Newman Bush

              by RantNRaven on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 10:33:26 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Europe can also thank us for harboring their... (6+ / 0-)

          greedy bastards who flee responsibilities in their home European countries. Throw Australia in there as well as we were fortunate enough to get Rupert Murdoch from them. (snark).

          "Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities" Voltaire.

          by JWK on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:53:41 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Before all us Americans pat ourselves on the (8+ / 0-)

          back, remember that the social democrats emerged as a response to the dual threat of Communism and Fascism, as a way to preserve both social order and democracy.

          I think the Europeans had a bigger hand in it that you are allowing. After the catastrophes of the early 20th century, Europeans leaders were wise enough to recognize the danger and to fashion societies and governments responsive to their citizens.

          The US, hardly scathed by the wars and bolstered by the New Deal, has a sizable group that has never given up on 19th century laissez faire economics, and is elitist to boot. For them, the only thing we have to learn from Europe is how to run an aristocratic society; and they are big on "strict construction" of the constitution -- so long as it supports their Social Darwininist philosophy.

          To me, the social democracies of Europe have always represented a far better way to organize an economy than the raw gangster capitalism prevalent here.

          •  I'm worried social democracy is under attack (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            more than ever due to the downfall of state "communism". I think the capitalists fear nothing now and are fighting full force to return to the old days. Meanwhile democracies are easily manipulated and corrupted by the rich and their institutions.

            "I think we're an Oligarchy and I think it's getting worse." - Sen. Bernie Sanders

            by PoxOnYou on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 01:27:24 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  aufklaerer - thanks for the well thought out post (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          zett, aufklaerer, Larsstephens

          Your history is accurate, that's for sure. Just one quick question do you presently live in Germany or do you live in the US? Would you be willing to share with our readers for a contrast and comparison of the German social safety net and the social safety net in the USA.

          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 Sep 12, 2010 at 11:48:10 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  hmm, I just commented on aufklaerer's comment (0+ / 0-)

            I disagree with him slightly. But it's rather a view on the historical development of the social security system in Germany and what he said about it, where I am not in agreement with him or he is not accurate enough in his facts.

        •  not really ... this is misleading (5+ / 0-)

          you say:

          it was US policies that quite clearly dictated a social democratic order for the 'Big Four' of Western Europe: West Germany, Great Britain, France, and Italy.

          Germany has the most generous welfare system among the big industrialized countries especially because its western part was under direct influence of the USA for quite some time after the war.

          So, American politicians knew exactly how to construct a very efficient welfare system. Or an electoral system, for that matter.

          The fact that after WWII we were und the control of the Allied Forces and under direct influence of the USA has very little to do with the history, successes and failures of the German health and social security insurance system.

          Just some facts:
          May 29, 1883 (German Empire under Kaiser Wilhelm I)
          Copied for convenience from wikipedia:

          To contain the working class and to weaken the influence of socialist groups, Bismarck reluctantly implemented a welfare state. He came to realize that this sort of policy was very appealing, since it bound workers to the state, and also fit in very well with his authoritarian nature. The social security systems installed by Bismarck for workers included
          a. health care in 1883,
          b. accident insurance in 1884,
          c. invalidity and old-age insurance in 1889
          at the time were the largest in the world and, to a degree, still exist in Germany today.

          In 1911 a mandatory German Social Security system was implemented. It contained of pension rights for widowed persons and additional health insurance plans for them. Also it included a mandatory insurance for all employees that guaranteed a pension after age 65 for themselves and their widows, independent of their capability of work in the amount of 40 percent of their diseased spouses.

          During the Weimar Republic(a parliamaentarian republic with a national assembly elected by proportional representation, which pretty much established a liberal democracy in its beginning years. The constitution of the Weimar Republic established in 1919 was not written under the direct influence of the US.)

          July 16, 1927 a mandatory unemployment insurance and a an employment agency system to place the unemployed was created.

          During the Third Reich (yes, I am very sorry to say, in which the social security and health insurance systems were NOT abolished, but denied to anybody who was not Arian. It's a difference to have no social security system to having a social security just for people of a certain ethnic or racial or religious make-up..

          Racism and racial ideologies superceded any political ideologies of the left and right - which lead to mass genocide and euthanasia of "unworthy living beings" like Jews (sorry I have to be that flat outspoken to make the point all too clear), Roma, mentally disabled, communists, leftist socialist etc.

          But for the Nazis themselves or anybody who could claim to be Arian and feet-licking assholes of the Nazi regime convincingly enough, the health insurance and social security system remained accessible and functioning.

          In 1936 the additional health insurance plans just implemented in the Weimar Republic were not allowed anymore to accept people who wanted voluntarily pay and buy into it. That initiated then the beginning of the first private health insurance programs in Germany.

          In 1939all self-employed craftsman and people working in trades got mandatory social security insurance  plans.

          In 1941 all retired people got mandatory health insurance plans and since then all retirees in Germany are automatically health insured.

          Of course, under our dear leader, you had to be white Arian and an asshole to be recipient of such social services, but when finally the Allied Forces defeated Hitler and the Nazis for good, all those social security and health insurance laws were taken over into the new German "Basic Law".

          The Americans and the other Allied Forces had tremendous influence on the proposed drafts of the Basic Law they handed over for the nine presidents of the then German states (Laender) to read, counterpropose and/or implement,  but the questions and problems they influenced were not at all on the social security or health insurance legislation, but on human and civil rights, military questions,  legislative roles of federal and state (Laender)laws and financial legislation and institutions.

          You know, there were just much much more important problems to solve in the American, British and French governed zones of the defeated Third Reich. It's fascinating and complicated to read the history of how the German Basic Law was written. I am not historian and I can't translate what I can read in German.

          Just saying, when it comes to social security systems in Germany, they were not influenced by Americans.


          •  mimi - thanks for the well documented comment (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Thanks also for the level of detail you've provided for our readers, as your comment was very informative. I know you've educated me and I suspect many of our readers feel the same way. Thank you again for extending yourself to comment.

            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 Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 02:32:18 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  It's gone on longer than that - even in the (71+ / 0-)

      Great Depression there were claims by the wealthy that the poor were 'lazy.'

      Mill and factory owners hired scabs and armed police to try to break strikes when workers struck for better hous and wages.

      The US government fired on WWI veterans camping on the mall protesting lack of jobs in Calvin Coolidge's administration.

      This is stuff just off the top of my head, without going back and reading US history.

      People have always been on their own in this country  For many decades after WWII it didn't matter because almost anyone - even people who couldn't read could find a good paying job.

      It's when times are bad and needs are the greatest, the 'you're on your own' mentality becomes apparent and inflicts great damage on victims of the downturn.

      Aud, the Deep Minded

      by HylasBrook on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 06:02:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  HylasBrook - you're absolutely right (37+ / 0-)

        There is however one exception, the system seems to be very generous in bailing out failed banks, don't you agree?

        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 Sep 12, 2010 at 06:05:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The 'on your own' mentality needs to change (29+ / 0-)

        IMHO I think that is the problem. Poor people are not poor because they are lazy. It's because they work themselves to death for little money and guess who's collecting most of that wealth that the poor worked for? That's right. It's the Rich. We really need to change and start thinking of 'WE' the people instead of the self centered "ME, ME, ME" mentality which I think is one of the main culprits of why this country is starting to go down hill. The extreme right wing conservative mentality is the problem and it's ingrained in our society for decades and we need to do something to change it.

        •  There's also the problem of 'trans-generation (29+ / 0-)

          poverty."  Poor families can't afford to send their kids to college, so the kids have to go part time to a community college (if that) or have to take low paying, entry level jobs.

          Poor parents can't give their children an economic stake to get started financially (a substantial deposit for a mortgage, a new or reasonably new car to drive to work, etc.)

          Sometime the parents are so badly off that the children end up supporting their parents.

          Obviously, the flip side of that is well-to-do or even middle-class families that CAN do what poor parents can't, so their children start off adult life far better off economically than others.

          Aud, the Deep Minded

          by HylasBrook on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:48:03 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  This is so true (15+ / 0-)

            It seems completely unfair to me. Student loans are getting harder and harder to come by for many poor people. The other problem is the Stafford student loan hasn't been increased in many years while the price of tuition has skyrocketed. A lot of these rich kids from the upper middle class aren't any smarter or better or even more brilliant than most of these poor kids who have to work minimum wage jobs because their families can't afford to send them to college.

            Going to school isn't about being smart or sophisticated anymore. It's simple; without a degree, you can't apply for a decent job which means you earn less money. If you don't go to school, people will automatically assume that you are stupid even if you're NOT. Our education system is in a crisis and I don't think it's simply because it's fallen into disrepair or neglect. I think it's been done on purpose by the rich and elite who have allowed that to happen because don't want the poor to go to school and educated because that would mean they would have a chance to compete with upper middle class people.

            •  The basic problem is that people worry too much (18+ / 0-)

              about people getting what they 'deserve.'

              In short, we should be trying to build a society where people get what they need, not what they deserve.


              We are the principled ones, remember? We don't get to use the black hats' tricks even when it would benefit us. Political Compass: -6.88, -6.41

              by bmcphail on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 09:00:21 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Re (7+ / 0-)

              Student loans are getting harder and harder to come by for many poor people. The other problem is the Stafford student loan hasn't been increased in many years while the price of tuition has skyrocketed. A lot of these rich kids from the upper middle class aren't any smarter or better or even more brilliant than most of these poor kids who have to work minimum wage jobs because their families can't afford to send them to college.

              The very existence of student loan programs contributes to this dynamic by increasing tuition costs. Colleges will always charge as much tuition as they can get away with. Proliferation of student loans creates a lot of extra money sloshing around the education system that allows colleges to increase tuition.

              I mean, who has $52k/year in cash to send a kid to BU? No one. (Well, almost no one). But a lot of people have access to $52k in college student loans! BU would be unable to charge such tuition without student loan availability.

              I don't know the solution here, because the other way to provide equal access to colleges is simply to do so on the basis of test scores and admissions and make it "free". However, such an implementation would be hyper-competitive (as it is in Asia) and your test scores and high school performance would basically dictate the rest of your life.

              (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
              Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

              by Sparhawk on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 09:01:38 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Regarding college tuition (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Democrats Ramshield

                What do you think is the best solution then? There are some European countries where university is free of charge. In England, university tuition is the same no matter which university in England you go to. For example Oxford's tuition is same as Bristol, Cambridge or Nottingham. There's no difference between the schools. Apparently in Scotland, university tuition is free. Do you the U.S. should adopt  similar methods?


                •  The... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  ...infrastructure to send everyone in the US to college simply does not exist, not here and not in Europe. The only question is how one rations access to college.

                  You can have zero government involvement in schooling, in which case access is rationed by cost, ability to pay, and loan availability from private sources (in which case you'll never get a loan to study philosophy for example).

                  You can have a system like ours now in which the government guarantees access to large amounts of funding, in which case access is rationed by one's willingness to be a debt slave for the rest of one's life, or one's ability to get access to grant funding.

                  You can have a system in which college is "free", but admission is hyper-competitive and there is no education available for those who are not "the chosen ones".

                  Or, you can mix these three options. However, an education system is going to be some mix of these three options to one degree or another.

                  (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                  Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                  by Sparhawk on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 11:05:02 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  In a word... YES! n/t (0+ / 0-)
              •  Well, we could revert to the way the old land (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Democrats Ramshield, Defiler

                grant colleges of the old northwest were set up. I know because I grew up in Columbus, Ohio, and am familiar with Ohio State University, a land grant college.

                The university was formed and supported by a partnership of state / federal government. They were operated on proceeds from land sales -- the northwest territory act dictated one fifth of all the land in the territory be set aside for education.

                When I got out of school in 1971, OSU was required by their charter to admit any citizen of Ohio that had a high school diploma. Their tuition was quite low, because most of their fixed expenses were subsidized by the state.

                Such a model could, I think, work again. But it takes dedication on the part of all of us to work for the future.

              •  to Sparhawk - the poster is right (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                cbyoung, Defiler, isabelle hayes

                The lifetime limit of the Stafford student loan has not been increased for about 18 years, sad but true, and tuition goes up each and every year. While the Stafford student loan doesn't go up for 18 years. Someone here is obviously not interested in working class folks in large numbers get too much education particularly at the graduate school level because they are the people who might well bring in some of the badly needed social reforms that this diary talks about and that many of our posters have commented on.

                Thanks again for the many great posts that have served to educate us all.  

                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 Sep 12, 2010 at 12:05:32 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  One consequence is that... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              ...much of Elite Higher Ed (and that includes many of our Public Universities) have been compensating both financially and in terms of student body diversity by actively recruiting foreign students who in many cases don't need to be supported with financial aid. It isn't a perceptible change to most people, but a few more "MSRP" enrollments each year support the relentless increase in tuition, room and board in Higher Ed, without regard to any conditions in our Domestic Economy.

              Perhaps when we wake up to find that one (or more) of our elite Public Universities has enrolled less than 40% in-state students in a freshman class some people will figure something is wrong with this picture, but at that point it may be well past the point of no return.

              "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." -- Frederick Douglass

              by Egalitare on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 12:42:46 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Changing the on-your-own mentality (7+ / 0-)

          I published a relevant diary last night, which slid off the page before most people were home from their dates.  I think it is a relevant contribution to the conversation at hand.  

          Enlightened Generosity II: If Someone is Trying to Steal a Fish . . .


          We are the principled ones, remember? We don't get to use the black hats' tricks even when it would benefit us. Political Compass: -6.88, -6.41

          by bmcphail on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:58:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  There have been many poor people that have worked (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          hard and have made significant improvements in their lives.  In this country if you are poor you do not have to stay this way.  

          •  So you claim people "choose" to be poor? (11+ / 0-)

            This kind of thinking is nonsense and a big part of the problem. Yes, many people have improved their lives. But in economic times like these it is very, very hard to do that. With healthcare costs, even diminished middle-class families are on the brink every day. What do you suggest the working poor do? Get college degrees so they will have thousands of dollars in loans and enter a job market crushed with PhDs who can't find work?

            Pick yourself up by your bootstraps - you're on your OWN.


            •  I never said poor people choose to be poor. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Further to my point:

              The U.S. Census Bureau has released data proving the substantial value of a college education in the United States. Workers 18 and over sporting bachelors degrees earn an average of $51,206 a year, while those with a high school diploma earn $27,915. Workers with an advanced degree make an average of $74,602, and those without a high school diploma average $18,734.

              The answer is yes, go take the loan and get your degree. See below: 4.5% unemployment rate for college graduates


              •  Then what exactly did you mean?? (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                poxonyou, drmah, kyril, angstall

                If only it that simple. Have you not read that the Stafford student loan life time limit hasn't been increased in several years? Not everyone can just go out of their way to get a loan and to go graduate school. It's obvious that you do not agree with what's being said here.

                •  That you should not rely upon the government to (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  bail you out or pay for your food/rent particularly if you are a healthy adult.   Relying upon the government will keep you in poverty forever, your life will never improve.  

                  •  The old Reagan-era myth of the 'welfare queen' is (14+ / 0-)

                    alive and well. I'm sure there are "healthy adults" who take advantage of the system, but the vast majority are the working poor who are not paid a sustainable, living wage. Healthcare costs in this country alone keep many people poor. This is such a tired old meme. As if food stamps or section 8 housing put their recipients in the lap of luxury. Please.

                    •  You missed the point completely. If you want to (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      improve your life go to college, and get an education.  The days of going to the local steel mills, the automotive assembly plant, etc. are long gone.  The well paying jobs today are in technology, whether it is computer, medical, or other fields.  


                      If you want to stay poor you can, just do not ask me to finance you.  

                      •  Hilarious. Do you know how many IT jobs have (6+ / 0-)

                        been outsourced? I used to do web development work and saw the average price for my work dwindle significantly within 2 years. We need a manufacturing economy again, not everyone in the world has to create paper profits or work on computers.

                        And by the way, no one is asking you to "finance them" and if you're so concerned about your tax dollars I hope you at least recognize the vital services they pay for.

                        Your talking points are straight out of 1986. Tired.

                        •  We are never going to have a manufacturing (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          economy again.  Maybe we should bring back telephone operators (fiber optics) or how about wagon wheel manufacturing. I can still hear hear the people that made wooden wheels bitchin about those new metal automobiles.

                          Whether you like it or not we are in a global economy and we have to compete against wages in China and other countries.  The comparitive advantage these countries have is significant and is not going to change in the forseeable future.  We need to understand this and move on to what where are the good paying jobs now.

                          For future reference I suggest you take a look at this web site and educate yourself relative to economics.


                          •  So you are a heavy duty libertarian (8+ / 0-)

                            Who evidently uses the word freedom to describe a "You are On Your Own" attitude towards any social services.

                            I find this selfish and the wrong and immoral way to run a civilized society.

                          •  Not to mention condescending. But that's okay. (6+ / 0-)

                            Your argument may hold if, for instance, automobiles were no longer manufactured anywhere. But that is not the case. Their production is simply outsourced to other countries, many of which have no protections for workers and provide excessively cheap labor. You over-simplify what a job in this country should be. Furthermore, many corporations have been given tax cuts to undermine the working class here.

                            I've no interest in reading the academic treatises on what someone imagines the economy or free market means. It is no more based in reality than an episode of Star Trek.

                          •  Not using logic in your thinking will not (0+ / 0-)

                            get you very far in this world. The fact that some countries give no so called protection is meaningless, the fact still remains that the theory of comparitive advantage is there.  These jobs are going to stay where the costs are the cheapest.  

                          •  Perhaps not using logic according to you. (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            niemann, poxonyou

                            If you believe that slave labor and child labor are fine in other countries with which we do business, that is on you. I don't. And I will continue to fight for good American jobs. Because in the race to the bottom (the cheapest costs), there are no winners - we've already begun to see this in India, which is no longer the cheapest or most stable place to outsource. The companies outsourcing their labor now see that Americans have no money to pay for their goods because Americans have no job security or real wage growth.

                            What you are espousing may work in a textbook (I don't believe so but maybe you do), but even the global economy is comprised of human beings. You can talk about comparative advantage all you want, at some point the so-called advantage is gone, exploited for the benefit of the few. Then you'll tell people to 'go to college' even if they already have a (in some cases advanced) degree. To get over the loss of the manufacturing sector of the economy and find something else to do. Even if there is 10% unemployment.

                            Luckily most people realize that an economy based solely on the needs of oneself usually has disastrous consequences.

                      •  Hmmm. Looks like your real motivation coming out (10+ / 0-)

                        ... I have to say:

                        If you want to stay poor you can, just do not ask me to finance you.

                        Sounds like the basic conservative underlying motivation:  selfishness/ me me me / I Me Mine/ don't-take-my-stuff/  "Blow you, I'm all right, Jack" ... etc.

                  •  Wes6094, your opinion is not borne out by studies (8+ / 0-)

                    For one thing, Americans fall behind France, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Norway, Denmark in terms of persistent poverty. All those countries have strong safety nets for citizens.

                    For another thing, even in America the majority of people remain on welfare for only a short time.

                    Your opinion is not fact-based.

                    Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person. -Jan Edwards

                    by SoCalSal on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:04:53 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Comparing the US to small countries is not (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      an apples to apples comparison.  There is always a fraction of the population that is in persistent poverty.  Indiana has the same GDP that Denmark has.


                      The countries that you mention also have some of the highest tax rates in the world.


                      At this point this country has decided not to subsdize people's lives to the point that other countries have.  This is what makes the country unique, and it has its positive side and negative side.  But it is part of the reason the U.S. is where it is today:

                      Ranking Economy US dollars)
                      1 United States 14,256,300
                      2 Japan 5,067,526
                      3 China 4,909,280
                      4 Germany 3,346,702
                      5 France 2,649,390
                      6 United Kingdom 2,174,530
                      7 Italy 2,112,780
                      8 Brazil 1,571,979
                      9 Spain 1,460,250
                      10 Canada 1,336,067
                      11 India 1,296,085
                      12 Russian Federation 1,230,726
                      13 Australia 924,843
                      14 Mexico 874,902
                      15 Korea, Rep. 832,512
                      16 Netherlands 792,128
                      17 Turkey 617,099
                      18 Indonesia 540,277
                      19 Switzerland 500,260
                      20 Belgium 468,552
                      21 Poland 430,076
                      22 Sweden


                      •  These sources are not even accurate (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        and come from the corporate media and right wing think tanks. Thanks but no thanks.

                      •  let's look at your argument. (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        poxonyou, SoCalSal, congenitalefty

                        you say that indiana is comparable to denmark in gdp which implies that the US gdp can be viewed as the sum of 50 smaller nations. that being the case, the number you quote above for the US should be 50 times that of the average small nation in order to compare it to any other nation in terms of its success. by that measure the US number should be about 25,000,000 in order to be equivalent to even poland, the least on your list.

                        what your list actually tells us is that the US system is, in fact, a failure compared to those other country's systems.

                        "Liberalism is trust of the people, tempered by prudence; conservatism, distrust of people, tempered by fear." Gladstone, Me -8.88/-7.08

                        by zedaker on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:49:40 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I am not sure how you old are but your logic is (0+ / 0-)

                          ridiculous.  You have to factor in population and area.  

                          •  my logic is fine. (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            poxonyou, angstall, Defiler

                            yours is rightwing troll logic. which is to say not logical at all, since it's premises are false then all that follows from those premises is also false no matter how rigorous the treatment. i merely demonstrated the falsity of your premises.

                            "Liberalism is trust of the people, tempered by prudence; conservatism, distrust of people, tempered by fear." Gladstone, Me -8.88/-7.08

                            by zedaker on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 11:43:47 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Ah, the old condescending ... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            ... "How old are you?" implied personal-attack response.  I've seen it in a number of threads.

                            Usually used as a "superior"-sounding evasion and last-shot tactic when one's own weak position is wavering in the face of another's better argument.

                      •  I'd rather live in Denmark (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        wsexson, poxonyou, Defiler
                      •  Topic *was* upward economic mobility (4+ / 0-)

                        of the population compared to other countries, not economic ranking of countries. More pertinent would be to compare the economic rankings with poverty rankings, and with economic disparity.

                        Personally, I don't find anything positive about the USA #1 economic ranking when so much of the wealth is held by the most wealthy 2 percent and the middle class struggles to pay for health care, child care, housing.

                        Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person. -Jan Edwards

                        by SoCalSal on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 11:39:22 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  You have to look at many factors (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          GDP says nothing about the lives of those who live in a country. GDP-PPP per capita*, HDI, Gini coefficient, OECD poverty rates (not government official rates as each country calculates their official number differently). *When so much is privatized, this number is misleading. A citizen living in a country with a slightly lower GDP-PPP per capita but in which many services are handled through taxes and the government, may in fact have more real income at the end of the year (whereas a US citizen is paying quite a hefty price for health out of that GDP-PPP per capita amount). Similarly, a citizen living in a country with high poverty and Gini coefficient (such as the US) is less likely to be earning around the GDP-PPP per capita figure. Lastly, a country in which the worker enjoys more paid holidays (less working hours) is in fact earning more than GDP-PPP per capita suggests (when comparing to a country where a worker works more hours per year). That said, if you want a strong welfare state with fairly low inequality, but with nearly the highest GDP-PPP per capita, then head for Norway. I think many must live like kings/queens over there.

                          "I think we're an Oligarchy and I think it's getting worse." - Sen. Bernie Sanders

                          by PoxOnYou on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 02:03:35 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  thanks... (0+ / 0-)

                            good post, appreciate the differentiation and the links.

                            As for this...

                            That said, if you want a strong welfare state with fairly low inequality, but with nearly the highest GDP-PPP per capita, then head for Norway. I think many must live like kings/queens over there.

                            I don't suffer cold weather well and can't even talk my offspring into moving to Vancouver Island. And, for all its faults, I still love the good ole USofA. That could change if Republicans take over again.

                            Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person. -Jan Edwards

                            by SoCalSal on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 10:38:04 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                  •  Why are corporate handout justified then? (6+ / 0-)

                    Wes, please explain to me why it's justified then to have corporate hand-outs for Wall St but not for Main St? Why is it justified for large corporations, Wall St and the super rich to get more help then regular everyday Americans who are barely getting by?

                  •  The government paid my food/rent (3+ / 0-)

                    while I went to Engineering school.

                    The investment has already been repaid, and I've got a ways to go before I'm done.

                    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                    by elfling on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:16:20 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  your argument is clearly and unambiguously (4+ / 0-)

                    refuted by those nations that do in fact do what pay for food/rent/education for their people. germany is not awash in poverty, nor are the scandinavian countries, or france and the UK. you're just wrong and propagating a false meme.

                    "Liberalism is trust of the people, tempered by prudence; conservatism, distrust of people, tempered by fear." Gladstone, Me -8.88/-7.08

                    by zedaker on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:35:27 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  No, instead the government should bail out the (3+ / 0-)

                    big corporations and provide for the comfort of the rich?

                    Here's the debate then: fascism or socialism.

              •  Someone has to do those $27k jobs (12+ / 0-)

                On an individual basis, sure, most people (who have the required intellectual capability, emotional stability, financial means, social support, and family situation) will benefit financially in the long run from going to college.

                As a systemic approach, however, it's seriously lacking. Somebody has to do the $27k jobs. The economy doesn't simply create new high-paying, high-skill jobs to accommodate the rising number of college graduates. Nor do the lower paying jobs go away. Everyone in the country could go to college, but someone would still have to pick up the trash and fix the plumbing. Which means that we need an economic structure that provides for a decent life and economic security for the garbagemen and plumbers, unless we're ok with the idea that some people don't deserve a decent life and economic security.

                •  What about choices? (4+ / 0-)

                  You're right however what about choices? What if a working class person wants to go to university? That is extremely difficult with the rising cost of tuition. It would appear that the elite have decided for themselves that higher education should be accessible for people who are in middle class because they have been chosen to be the managers of society. They are the ones who will manage the working class. It's based on their family's position in society which they have inherited which gives them the privilege and ability to university through the support of their family's finances. Look at George Bush Jr for example, he was a C- student at Yale, yet he graduated from both Yale University and Harvard business school. Hardly a genius but because of his father's position in society, he could go to the best schools and later became President.

                  •  Don't forget Sen. John McLame, an even (0+ / 0-)

                    worse example (weeellll, it's a tie).
                    Son of an admiral, unsuited to Annapolis, still graduated (at the bottom); destroyed at least two expensive aircraft, still not washed out, a career of government subsidized incompetence.
                    Prime examples of the Privileged Peter Principle at work.

                    Republicans: "Double your pleasure, double your fun, double your National Debt, and blame 'The One' "

                    by Bluefin on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 06:07:28 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  Re (0+ / 0-)

                  Everyone in the country could go to college, but someone would still have to pick up the trash and fix the plumbing. Which means that we need an economic structure that provides for a decent life and economic security for the garbagemen and plumbers, unless we're ok with the idea that some people don't deserve a decent life and economic security.

                  If everyone had a law degree, then salaries for garbagemen and plumbers would be the same as for lawyers. The reason why lawyers make a lot of money isn't because law inherently has more value, it's that the lawyers are necessary and there are few people with their skill sets available.

                  (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                  Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                  by Sparhawk on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:55:23 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Fewer people with lawyers' skill sets? (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    kyril, angstall

                    Don't we have an overabundance of lawyers? They seem to be coming out of the woodwork.

                  •  The main reason lawyers and doctors generally (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    command the higher salaries is because they carefully control entrance into the profession, eg: restrict the supply to force a higher market price (done through the AMA/Bar/control of educational resources).
                    That is the only reason why:

                    ...and there are few people with their skill sets available.

                    Republicans: "Double your pleasure, double your fun, double your National Debt, and blame 'The One' "

                    by Bluefin on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 05:58:26 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  I'm laughing (4+ / 0-)

                  I'm college-educated and do not work in a "low-skill" job. I currently make less than $27 K. Most of the lower paying, lower skilled jobs in my area (small town/rural) pay a heckuva lot less than $27 K. Try $16-$19 K.

              •  In the 1970's (8+ / 0-)

                You could go to a good college and work your way through waiting tables, even in Los Angeles or New York. Today, tuition and housing prices have both increased by a factor of 10, while the minimum wage (and for that matter the median wage) has only about doubled.

                So, students are graduating with enormous debt - at the same time that salaries  are flat and unemployment is high.

                Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                by elfling on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:14:54 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  What's wrong with this country? (15+ / 0-)

            Most people are poor because they work themselves to death because the rich are exploiting them. You make it sound like people who are poor choose to be poor and most of the time that is not the case. There have been many poor people who have been robbed out of their hard earned pensions and there have many poor people who have been tried their best to improve their lives and have failed but we don't like to hear about that, do we? We like to hear the propaganda message instead, if we aren't rich it must be because working class folks are either too dumb or too lazy. It is offensive to say that poor people chooses to poor as well as absurd, so thank you for your above statement because it's the perfect example of what's wrong in this country.

          •  What Nonsense (15+ / 0-)

            The vast majority of the poor work harder than you ever will (try it sometime, honest) and yet their circumstances remain precisely the same.  Our country deliberately holds up a few (compared to the numbers of the poor) Horatio Alger stories and has sold us a narrative that this outcome is the norm, when in fact it is exceedingly RARE.  Income mobility in the US has always been difficult, now even more so.  (Except downward mobility, which is indeed picking up at a rapid clip.)

            The thinking your post evinces is precisely why as of today we've got 170,000 FAMILIES living in homeless shelters, instead of being assisted in a meaningful way to get back on their feet.  

            If you don't stand for something, you will go for anything. Visit Maat's Feather

            by shanikka on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 09:33:44 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  True but they are increasingly the exception (9+ / 0-)

            not the rule.  

            My own father did that.  He was raised on a mule-powered farm in the middle of rural Mississippi.  He ended up going to college, earning a doctorate, teaching on a university faculty, and being very successful in real estate.

            His college tuition in 1952 was in the low hundreds not the thousands. The average Mississippi home in 1960 cost $7,900 (unadjusted).  


            The Working Poor: Invisible in America

            No Shame In My Game: The Working Poor in Urban America

            Nickeled and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America

            Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream

            We are the principled ones, remember? We don't get to use the black hats' tricks even when it would benefit us. Political Compass: -6.88, -6.41

            by bmcphail on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 09:38:19 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  *Less* chance of upward mobility in USA (10+ / 0-)

            compared to other developed countries, according to a Brookings Institution study. Americans have a chance of moving up the economic ladder only barely better than UK citizens, and Americans fall behind France, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Norway, Denmark.

            Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person. -Jan Edwards

            by SoCalSal on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 09:56:21 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  to Defiler - great post (0+ / 0-)

          Your very succinctly written post has the ring of truth about it. Thank you for your well thought out submission.

          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 Sep 12, 2010 at 12:00:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Before that even (8+ / 0-)

        Labor unions were always met with extremely harsh resistance in the U.S. since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, whereas their European counterparts were met with much less harsh responses.

        Husband looking for work in NoVA/DC! Skilled in web content manag. & Photoshop. Please email me at if you have any leads!

        by fille americaine on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:45:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It is bred throughout American history (5+ / 0-)

        and pretty crazy since the majority of our first settlers were pushed out of Europe in reaction to various aspects of the poor laws of the British Isles. Parishes were required to care for the poor.  Parish members didn't like paying for the poor.  It was harsh and nasty and a life populated by workhouses and cruel prisons and punishments.  Many escaped to come here and in other cases were exported so they wouldn't have to worry about them anymore.

        So they came here and became Americans and because land was cheap or free and resources abundant quickly thought this was all because God had smiled on them and turned the same sort of nastiness towards the poor they had once experienced.  

        The irony is "the old country" decided it wasn't a good system for so many to suffer while we seem to have dug in here and made our nation much more like the ones we escaped so long ago.  Too many prisons and hungry people have been a biproduct of povery for centuries but we don't grow smarter or kinder in America on any degree of scale.

    •  The American people have been told (20+ / 0-)

      that Europe is a bad place, where government dictates every part of their lives, and takes all of their money too.  

      There are many Americans who rarely travel away from their couches and televisions, let alone travel to a foreign country.  They are easy to convince that the citizens of Europe are oppressed victims of tyrannical, socialist, Marxist governments, who spend their lives dreaming of America, and how much better life would be there.

      If that isn't bad enough, many  of these  unfortunate Europeans get a cold or the flu. when that happens, they are forced to appear at a death panel hearing to request medication from their socialist government health care.  Most of them are denied medication and euthanized.  

      So clearly, we want our government to be as different as possible from the government of any European country.

      (This is sarcasm, just in case it wasn't obvious)

      •  If all those conservative and tea baggers ... (7+ / 0-)

        ... who go around lamenting and fearmongering that "They want to turn us into Europe!" actually experienced some of the benefits that average citizens receive in Europe -- (or would at least, you know, do a little research and educate themselves on the matter) ...

        ... I'll bet they would change their tunes pretty darned quick.

        I, for one, know I would rather have a graduate school student loan of about $3000, rather than $50-80,000.

        And hassle-free, paperwork-free, assured health care when I need it.

        And 4-6 weeks of vacation time a year.

        And a safe, well-cared-for national infrastructure.

        ... and so on ...

        •  Their lives are far less stressful (6+ / 0-)

          than ours. At least in my experience,   Most Americans I know are always worrying about what could go wrong.  What if I get sick?  what if I lose my job?  What if my parents have to go into long term care?  How am I going to retire?  How will my kids pay for college?  Many of these concerns are simply non existent to Europeans.  They have a much different life experience than we have here.  

          I am encouraged that colleges are now strongly encouraging study abroad.  More and more schools are actually requiring a semester of international study.  They realize that students need a global perspective as part of their education.  Once someone has experienced Europe, it will be much harder to scare people with it.

    •  And we began our insane care and feeding of the (9+ / 0-)

      Military Industrial Complex.

      oops. Did I just make the mistake of being in the Middle Class and talking class warfare?  Shame on me?

      FU, fat cats.  

      YOU have been killing my brothers and sisters, here, and the world over in a mind boggling array of ways -- both swiftly and soul-killingly slowly -- for, for, forever.

      So, no.  I will not sit down and be a polite, good girl.

      I won't be enthusiatically, enthusiastically voting Democratic, this year.  I will be grimly, determinedly, and committedly working and voting for Democrats, this year.

      Leave on the street -- Just weeks to go.

    •  It was earlier than that (14+ / 0-)

      It was because the 70's Supreme Court considered caps on election spending unconstitutional.

      From there it was only a matter of time before we got our Citizens United decision. And if you think progressive voices aren't being heard by our leaders now, just wait. It's downhill and picking up steam from here.

      The polls don't tell us how a candidate is doing; they tell us how the media is doing.

      by Thumb on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:41:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  There is even something, now, more sinister... (18+ / 0-)

      ...and that is religion has also been linked to being successful.  
      Please, please keep in mind that their has been a new paradigm switch in what the "megachurch Christians" are being taught (the New Apostolic Reformationists that Troutfishing does an excellent job writing diaries about).

      They are being taught that 2000 years of Christianity was all wrong...helping the poor and giving a hand up to the disadvantaged.  They are now being taught that rich people and powerful people in politics are there because "that's what Jesus wants."

      The whole idea being espoused now is that, if you are disadvantaged, it is because you are a sinner.  Anyone will be rich, if they just do "what Jesus wants."

      So, the USA's cowboy-style capitalism not only concludes that if you help folks financially, you are "paying them to be lazy and paying them not to be productive," but you are also going "against what Jesus wants."

      When you have both a political reason to not help...and a religious reason to not help...its a double whammy that is very hard to counteract.

      AND now, the latest GOP plan on tax cuts (the so-called Ryan Paul plan) actually has the taxes of folks that make less than $80,000 per year go UP to pay for massive, new tax cuts for the wealthiest!

      DO YOU GET THAT?  The quasi-politico-religious reasoning for why the wealthy and politically powerful are there (a combo of John Gaultism and Evangelical Christianity) is now dictating that the less successful need to be TAXED EVEN MORE to give these uber-wealthy even more.

      Very troubling thinking.

      "Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences." --Paradise50

      by paradise50 on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 09:03:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Reagan Republicans won War on the Poor (4+ / 0-)

      Heard on PBS the other day the US Percent of Population in Poverty. The Democrats LOST the War on Poverty. Republicans Won the War on the Poor. Republican War on the Middle Class is NEXT.

  •  If this is the new America (13+ / 0-)

    then we need to increase the safety nets higher than ever.

  •  Because Our Society Opposes It (38+ / 0-)

    Vehemently. Economic and security interests oppose it, some of our religious powers oppose it, most of the population would oppose Scandinavian or other European solutions if suddenly presented with a good description.

    Both our political parties oppose it. Both parties support the main points of Reaganism.

    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 Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 06:00:30 AM PDT

  •  Ah, but this one is obvious ... (20+ / 0-)

    Also please tell us about how many American companies who claim that they cannot afford to pay paid maternity leave in the United States, seem to have no problem paying them overseas in their European conglomerates?

    That is because - wait for it - all those jobs outsourced to Europe are being done much better by Europeans than by Americans !

    Easily pays for the difference !

    ... snark ...

  •  Why? Because in America, (24+ / 0-)

    the rich need the money more than the poor need it. And anyone who disagrees with that is anti-Amercan.

    That's why.

    As a scientist, Throckmorton knew that if he ever were to break wind in the echo chamber, he would never hear the end of it. --Bulwer-Lytton Contest entry

    by Wom Bat on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 06:33:50 AM PDT

  •  Maternity leave.... (32+ / 0-)

    You don't even have to go to Europe to find embarrassing stats on this.  I was amazed after moving to Brazil to find out that paid maternity leave here is 6 months, guaranteed by law.  Companies are barred from firing pregnant employees, too, in case anyone got the bright idea to do that to avoid paying the maternity leave.  (Not to mention the one month of regular paid vacation per year, also mandated by law.)


    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." -- Dom Hélder Câmara

    by SLKRR on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 06:50:03 AM PDT

  •  Didn't use to be so. (26+ / 0-)

    Kevin Phillips does an excellent job of describing America's race to the bottom in On Wealth & Democracy.

    The death of unions has played a large role.

    When the village is on fire, a sieve will not substitute for a fleet of fire engines. Sometimes incremental change won't EVER scale to address the problem.

    by Words In Action on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 06:50:32 AM PDT

  •  Try looking at the school system (36+ / 0-)

    As a Canadian living in the US it has been a continuing puzzle to understand why even "liberal" Americans seem to swallow the "exceptionalism" and "rigged individualism" hooey, while their Canadian counterparts have built a modern society equivalent to what you would find in Western Europe, but with a lot more diversity.

    The place I keep coming back to is the school system. It's not the only factor of course, but the blatant abuse of what should be an open and challenging learning environment to peddle self-serving propaganda has left too many Americans totally unaware that things could easily be very different.

    This appears to affect liberals as well as conservatives, and sharply limits the scope of acceptable debate. Single payer was taken OFF the table at the beginning of the Health Care debate because, as President Obama put it, America wasn't ready for that step. Why not? Because first we have to start dismantling the propaganda machine that continually tries to convince Americans they have some different reality to everyone else, and they couldn't possibly try other societies solutions because they just wouldn't "fit".

    •  Core problem (8+ / 0-)

      Is the core problem education, the corruption of the political system or the ideological belief of our economic and political leadership?  

      •  I think the core problem is propaganda (14+ / 0-)

        Leaving out the obvious rewriting of History and Science going on in Texas, consider these curriculum points from "liberal" Washington State. These are for Grade 10 Social Studies on the topic of the role of Government in the economy.

        - Examines the costs and benefits of protective tariffs in the development of "infant" automobile industries in South Korea and Brazil.
        - Examines the effects of government subsidies for Airbus on the global buying and selling of airplanes.
        - Examines the effects of import-led growth and export-led growth when examining the economic development of countries in Southeast Asia and Latin America.
        - Examines the effects of the European Economic Union on global trade.
        - Examines how anti-dumping regulations in the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs affect Chile's agricultural products.

        What you will notice is the focus on other countries policies with no attempt made to relate them to comparable US policies. The Airbus example is particularly obvious given the European counter complaint of military subsidies to Boeing. My own impression of seeing kids go through the US school system is that (in Seattle at least) the bias is subtle but persistent. Whether its politics, economics or history, US policies and governmental forms are examined in virtual isolation from comparable policies and institutions in other countries. The review of other countries often leaves the impression that even when the policies are clearly more progressive, some ill-defined "price" has been paid by those societies to support them.
        The cumulative effect of years of this bias is a citizenry ill-equipped to understand why the US is steadily DESCENDING the ladder of societal health. In the 1960's Canada and the US were in very similar places economically and culturally (using opinion polls) - with comparable mixes of liberal/conservative viewpoints, and comparable histories (including mistreatment of aboriginals). Nobody would say that today - Canada is more like a European country on an enormous canvas, America moving towards the social and political division that used to be the norm in Latin America.

        I think the persistent "you're exceptional" message that is cranked out in the school system is a significant factor preventing many Americans from doing a reality check and asking questions like - "why wouldn't we want to adopt the Canadian or European approach in some policy?" Go to either of those places any you'll find plenty of people prepared to ask the question to other way - even if they end up rejecting specific American solutions.

        •  It's been going on (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          zedaker, isabelle hayes, swampyankee

          for a long time. I went through school pre-Airbus and not in Seattle, and this resonates for me

          the bias is subtle but persistent

          now that I think about it.

          But I grew up on a coastline where there's a seafaring history, and in a family some of whose members traveled regularly to Europe and Asia. So I think probably a good bit of the ignorance and isolationism comes from simply not knowing, not being exposed to alternatives. God knows, kids now aren't going to get it from what passes for reporting in U.S. media.

          Listen, are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?--Mary Oliver, "Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches?"

          by Mnemosyne on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:20:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  "America wasn't ready for that step..." (8+ / 0-)

      ...and we'll never be ready if we don't ever earnestly talk about it, which it seems the powers that be don't want us to do, thus taking it off the table before anyone even sat down.

      •  In fairness, we've elected an African American (11+ / 0-)

        to the highest job in the land, and to one of the most powerful positions on the planet.  When I was in Spain in fall 08 just before the elections, Spaniards were saying that if we elected Obama, they would find it incredible in part because no European country, mired as Europe is in its own racial and diversity tensions regarding immigration, ethnicity, etc., would ever be able nowadays to elect anyone non-white to such a position of power.  

        They were amazed when we elected Obama, and admired America for doing what Europeans long have loved about our country's promise.

        I think our President was completely wrong to take single-payer off the table from the outset.  It wasn't American citizens who wouldn't have been ready for such a huge step-- for such a change.  It was corporations and monied interests.  They weren't ready.  But in November 2008, American citizens showed that they were, indeed, capable of big change and of thinking in new ways.  

        •  I agree - Obama's election was a world-changing (5+ / 0-)

          event, unfortunately the savaging he's taking from the right, with the complicity of a media frightened of the right, is undoing much of that. I only hope another diarist today is correct that Obama has an uncanny ability to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat - but the display of naked bigotry that's been evident since his election has tarnished America's deserved positive standing for electing him.

          Obama's policies are generally to the right of mine, but he is easily the least worst electable candidate for 2012, and his re-election would put the seal on a genuine transformation in America.

    •  this is the (9+ / 0-)

      America! FUCK YEAH! Problem.

      Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I will tell you what you believe. h/t MeteorBlades

      by mdmslle on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:42:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think you hit the nail on the head there (14+ / 0-)

      Americans are practically brainwashed to think "we are the best!!" from such an early age, so we don't even bother to compare ourselves to our industrialized counterparts; as such, most of us have no idea how much better things can be. Luckily my dad is what many here would call a "crazy Commie" so I never bought that crap they taught us in school about the evils of Socialism. They never directly said it was evil, but the teachers def implied it.

      Husband looking for work in NoVA/DC! Skilled in web content manag. & Photoshop. Please email me at if you have any leads!

      by fille americaine on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:50:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Too simple (0+ / 0-)

      Look at the Canadian school system and you'll find a it's virtually identical model to the American one. In every way.

      •  how Canadian schools differ (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I've been away from Canada way too long to know much about today's school system, but I attended Canadian schools through high school before moving to the U.S.

        While preparing a high school paper on an Eastern European country, I read through a number of social studies papers from Canada, the UK and the USA and was shocked at the evident bias and lack of facts in the U.S. social studies reference material.

        That was decades ago, but often enough I found similarly lacking reference material given to my kids in American schools.

        Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person. -Jan Edwards

        by SoCalSal on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:46:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The model is the similar - the content isn't (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        fille americaine, isabelle hayes

        I've taught in the Canadian system, and been frustrated that a province like British Columbia, with the population of a mid-sized English county, would have it's own Ministry of Education, with its own curriculum and Textbooks. To add to that, there was an inexplicable tendency to gather ideas from the failing US system rather than other provinces like Ontario or other countries.

        However, that was 20 years ago, and since then the Canadian system has moved towards higher standards at High School, while US public school system seems to have deteriorated and been cowed by the rabid right. The general campaign against teachers in the US can hardly be motivating. When you add to that stories of teachers facing firings because they wanted to discuss the issues behind the Iraq invasion or introduce evolutionary concepts to Grade 5 students the picture is really depressing.

        My son's teacher felt he had to get parental permission to use Howard Zinn's "A Peoples History of Amnerica" in class - a book that covered material that is simply not present in any of the standard school texts, and would be unexceptional in a British or Canadian high school course. This was an advanced class and the teacher still felt he needed "permission", so you know that most History teachers aren't going to go near anything like the real history of America.

        •  Howard Zinn rules!! (0+ / 0-)

          That is really too bad that your son's school thought they had to get permission for the kids to read it, but in fairness, I had never even heard of Zinn until an "Commie" professor introduced him in college. So at least his high school is progressive enough to at least try to teach other viewpoints. All we ever heard was, "America is the land of opportunity! There are no social classes in America! You can be anything you want in this country and nothing can stop you but yourself! Communism is evil!!" Obviously those weren't their exact words, but that's in effect what we were taught to believe from the first grade on.

          Husband looking for work in NoVA/DC! Skilled in web content manag. & Photoshop. Please email me at if you have any leads!

          by fille americaine on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 02:40:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I want to ask my Democratic reps (18+ / 0-)

    if they would introduce a plan similar to say, Canada's for maternity leave paid, and a child care credit as a Federal, not local right.  Why? Because there are simply thousands of local municipalities, counties, that are TOO POOR to afford it and need help from the wealthier counties to correct a national disgrace.

    Remember Europe has had for most countries a social safety net thet is generous and comprehensive including health security for over 75 years, over a hundred and twenty years if you look at Germany.

    USA is in many respects is one of the most backward countries on Earth, it took them a blasted CIVIL WAR 75 years after other civilized countries did so peacefully to get rid of slavery.

    cast away illusions, prepare for struggle

    by Pete Rock on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 06:56:32 AM PDT

    •  The problem is, everybody loves it when things (6+ / 0-)

      are going well. I think there is a ton of value in a free market and free society.

      BUT, when these bad recessions hit everybody hates it, and sooo many people lose their shirts. Meanwhile, the states that have structural protections against this fare less poorly.

      We need some major structural changes..requirements that economic booms benefit the entire strata of incomes, not just the top 1%, and we need to establish these nets when the money is really flowing in, not waiting until almost everyone is screwed.

      Yep, I'm a newb. Nope, pointing that out isn't worth anything other than an addition to your ad-hominem collection.

      by SooperDem on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:09:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  agreed (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Calamity Jean, SooperDem

        BUT, when these bad recessions hit everybody hates it, and sooo many people lose their shirts. Meanwhile, the states that have structural protections against this fare less poorly


        moi,   job, career, home (house) self respect....

        I am still breathing. those things are not coming back for me, if ever.   we need major changes, not a cautious tentative baby step or two as the economic disaster hurricane sweeps thru.

        cast away illusions, prepare for struggle

        by Pete Rock on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 12:02:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I think this is a really good point.... (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chi, Mnemosyne, ybruti, Pete Rock, kyril, Anak

      ...when we compare American "wealth" to the European standard of living we are comparing apples and oranges. We think of ourselves as better off but we don't take into account the infrastructure -- not just the roads, bridges and public transportation but the cultural infrastructure. When I lived in France, the French often told me that Americans were "deracine" (I can't do the accents that belong over both "e"s), meaning "rootless". That rootlessness is a blessing -- you get Jack Kerouac-- and a curse --you get crime, a sense of irresponsibility toward your fellow human beings, and absolutely no social safety net.

      British Petroleum: I think that means it's foreign oil.

      by Bensdad on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:57:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Rootless... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pete Rock, isabelle hayes

        Yeah. I thought about this when I lived in Oaxaca, Mexico, during the disturbances in 2006. At one point, since the police became hated, there were absolutely no police out. This lasted for about 2 months. 2 months with no police.

        Though there were reports of an increase in shop-lifting, nothing major happened. I kept wondering, while continuing my daily routine around the city, why no one was taking advantage of the fact that there were no cops!

        Y'en a pas un sur cent et pourtant ils existent--Leo Ferré, Les anarchistes

        by Anak on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 09:59:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'm going to be killed for this, (19+ / 0-)

    but the reason the EU has a stronger safety-net is because American voters have a very strong habit for voting against their interests and the Left in America refuses to accept the good over the perfect.

    Tom: Paddy, your mom is sexy. Paddy: My mom is dead you prick. Tom: Yeah..... dead sexy.

    by kev9100 on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 06:58:24 AM PDT

    •  Kev, I'm so offended. (4+ / 0-)

      I hope you get banned.

      j/k, /s, good post

      Yep, I'm a newb. Nope, pointing that out isn't worth anything other than an addition to your ad-hominem collection.

      by SooperDem on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:00:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think part of the problem is ignorance (7+ / 0-)

      Simply put, there are some American Lefties that are simply ignorant. I once knew an old lefty that unfortunately didn't like the idea of the universal health insurance because he believed lies reported by the beloved corporate media. I think that's the problem right there a nutshell, some lefties have their heart in the right place but some people are simply ignorant of the systems used in other countries.

      I believe in American, the elite and the super rich have the American people so heavily brainwashed by the idea that if we somehow adopted some of these ideas we will adopt communism which I think is completely ridiculous.

    •  The left has a problem accepting... (13+ / 0-)

      ...the good over the perfect?  We have what we have because we preemptively accept the good over the prefect and never make an attempt for the perfect.  If you don't ever try for a dream, don't be surprised if you don't come anywhere near it.  The perfect is categorically excluded at the beginning of the discussion as impossible, so we never dream of what we could get.  Instead, we just get the scraps that the wealthy and the powerful throw to us, and the defenders of the status quo expect us to view those scraps as a victory.

    •  I've thought that for years (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I don't think that is too controversial.

      Husband looking for work in NoVA/DC! Skilled in web content manag. & Photoshop. Please email me at if you have any leads!

      by fille americaine on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:52:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well.....only the former matters. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ybruti, kyril, Sunspots, isabelle hayes

      It doesn't matter how much we grumble about the less than good over the perfect, if Americans vote against their interests. The one has nothing to do with the other. Only voting against your interests makes a difference, and very few on the left would do that because they are disatisfied. Vote for Fiorina? Whitman? Not me! And I am very disatisfied with our progress.

      British Petroleum: I think that means it's foreign oil.

      by Bensdad on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 09:00:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Those who say it can't be done, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sychotic1, Calamity Jean, kev9100

      should get out of the way of those who are doing it."

      from someone or other, by way of Jim Hightower.

    •  It isn't the good vs the perfect.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      isabelle hayes's the simple fact that the left allows the right to drag the Overton window where ever they want it and the left allows them to frame the entire debate that way. It's simply a result of a lack of leadership on the left in politics.

      In fact, we don't even have a left in politics in this country. We have right wing nut jobs, the GOP, and the conservative party, the Democrats. The main reason for that is in America, Democracy is subservient to Capital. Until that changes, nothing else will.

      The sleep of reason produces monsters.

      by Alumbrados on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 11:02:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You know the saddest thing about this? (28+ / 0-)

    Most Americans can't bear to read, understand and accept this as truth. It shatters their belief in their dream of themselves and their value system, makes all the frigging propaganda with which US freedom and entrepreneurship and values are sold an open lie.

    You need a million therapists to overcome this and spark the courage to really fight your own angst admitting that what is been done in this country to its own people is dead wrong.

    •  that's true of many, but there are also many... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril, Ripeness Is All, Toon

      ...quite comfortable with our dog eat dog system.

      and why not? if you're white and middle class you can easily look around and say, well i may never make it to the top of the heap, but i'm sure as hell going to stay above those poor guys.

      the long running underclass of trailer trash, some racial minorities, new immigrants and undocumented, etc. acts as a mental buffer for many americans who believe, rightly or wrongly, that they'll always be able to outcompete a quarter of the nation in a rat race.

      Re-elect Obama's Agenda 2010

      by jethropalerobber on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:11:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  A good start (0+ / 0-)

      would be to shut down Fox, take all these "God's" out of the equation, and start really educating children again. If by some miracle America understands that the economy can be fixed by going green, America will have at her disposal the means to make the needed changes. As long as the likes of John Boehner have their say, America will continue to spirale towards ruin.

  •  The world has changed but we have not. (13+ / 0-)

    Everybody talks about how long European states have been around and how "young" the US is, but what state in Europe (save perhaps one of the principalities) hasn't gone through a revolution, major constitutional change (or scrap/establish new) since well after 1776?

    Our society was set up and formed when there was plenty of space, plenty of opportunity, where you really could come here with nothing and make your own way.

    No, notsomuch. Until we can win back a lot of the teabag constituency though, nothing will really happen except very incrementally.

    Yep, I'm a newb. Nope, pointing that out isn't worth anything other than an addition to your ad-hominem collection.

    by SooperDem on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:03:44 AM PDT

    •  Not just plenty of space. (9+ / 0-)

      It was a time when errors could be erased by simply moving far enough away.

      Now, it's the small town effect everywhere, and not just from voluntary things like Facebook.

      Hoping and praying that the empty chairs and empty tables in Iran when all is said and done are as few as possible.

      by Cassandra Waites on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:33:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  win back? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the teabaggers never were our constituency. those lizard brains have been voting republican consistenly since LBJ. in any case, why on earth would we want them?

      Re-elect Obama's Agenda 2010

      by jethropalerobber on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:02:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Just in case you're not stalking me (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sunspots, isabelle hayes

        there are a lot of people in the teabag constitutency that were voting Dem Party at one time; these are the people that were Union members before that became "bad" and the jobs were shipped overseas, people who would vote for the average joe and "live & let live" before they were corrupted by Fox News. Yes, they are a lot of bad apples among them, but many can be won back. Of course, messaging and marketing were never our strong points.

        Yep, I'm a newb. Nope, pointing that out isn't worth anything other than an addition to your ad-hominem collection.

        by SooperDem on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:31:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  don't flatter yourself (0+ / 0-)

          and no, the tea party is bad apples all the way down.

          in any case, they're more valuable to us right where they are. hell, they're doing their best to save 2 or 3 senate seats for the dems right as i type.

          Re-elect Obama's Agenda 2010

          by jethropalerobber on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 07:53:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Or at lease coaxed away (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sunspots, SooperDem

        from the edge of the cliff. We are all tied together and if enough of them go over the edge they will take us all with them.

        It is not best that we should all think alike; it is a difference of opinion that makes horse races. Mark Twain

        by Toon on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 09:24:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The enduring myth (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      of the "frontier." Frederick Jackson Turner, and so on.

      Much of the midwest, and even New York State, was settled by farming families who picked up stakes and moved every generation or two after the Revolution. Cut all the trees, kill off the natives, get tired of New England's rocks, and move on. More land, better land is out there somewhere.

      In one of her early essays, Joan Didion muses on California, and says something like "it had better work out here, because here is where we run out of continent."

      Listen, are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?--Mary Oliver, "Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches?"

      by Mnemosyne on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:29:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Why? (33+ / 0-)

    Because the rich ruling class in the US has used race to divide and conquer the working class.  A poor to middle income white worker who would normally benefit greatly from a social safety net, unemployment insurance, national health care, etc. is propagandized to believe he will just pay and poor blacks will reap all the benefits.

    The propaganda has been going on for years.  From Ronald Reagan and his "welfare queens" cashing food stamps in Cadillacs, down to Rush Limbaugh and his claim that Obama's health care reform proposals (moderate as they are) are really "reparations for black poeple".

    I know such people, who oppose health care reform, unemployment insurance etc. and every single one, EVERY one, when you really get into talking to them about it, brings it back to race, to their own racism.

    There are a handful of rich Republicans in it for money and a whole mass of poor and middle class ones in it because of race hatred (and hatred of a few other groups as well, gays, intellectuals, foreigners, muslims etc.).

    Race hatred is the tool that gets American workers to cut their own throats.

  •  Why? quien save! but basically Europe (20+ / 0-)

    got the message after WW2 and decided that keeping a healthy workforce was essential to a healthy economy while America is still stuck in the 19th century days of exploitation of workers including forced child labour. The rugged individualist character has now become a sick caricature.

    •  Very true, (7+ / 0-)

      but the reason Europe was able to pass these reforms was that, for the most part, the Left fought for these reforms even if they weren' perfect. In America, if the reforms aren't perfect people start shouting "TRAITOR!!" which makes it that much easier for the Right to kill reform.

      Tom: Paddy, your mom is sexy. Paddy: My mom is dead you prick. Tom: Yeah..... dead sexy.

      by kev9100 on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:10:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What do you mean exactly? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CroneWit, Only Needs a Beat

      The rugged individualist character has now become a sick caricature.

      Could you go into a bit more detail please about what you mean by America's exploitation in the 19th century? Are you saying we've gone backwards?

      •  The American Consumer Society (13+ / 0-)

        can't really tolerate true independence, such as the native Americans had or the family farmer once, recently, exemplified.

        Living off the land, being responsible for oneself and ones' family has been replaced by a massive system in which we work and buy things.

        After slavery was theoretically abolished, peonage grew up in it's place.

        Grossly oversimplified, the credit card allowed the plantation to be portable so you're free to come and go and do as you please as long as you pay the Man every 30 days.

        And as long as you don't try to make important decisions about the world around you.Our democracy is supposed to be a mechanism by which we can follow rules for a redress of grievances and so forth, but that system has been taken over by the corporations that became people back in the 1880s.

        We are treated like cattle because that's basically all we are to those who are in control of things.

        They want people to work for nothing, buy shit on credit and live in fear of losing their jobs.

        They have gotten what they want.

        The last thing they want to do is provide any "public assistance".

        Spray tons of carcinogens into the ocean to hide petroleum spewed from a hastily-drilled hole from a greedy corporation, but don't smoke pot.

        by xxdr zombiexx on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:38:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  what was that song? 'working for the company (6+ / 0-)

          store', only now the company is Mastercard, play now, pay later. A sure recipe for never getting out of the ditch.

          There are some images that really stick in one's mind. I remember once buying gasoline in a Santa Rosa gas station on the Texas/New Mexico border and watching a group of teenagers buying sodas, candy, and junk using credit cards!!!! it made a huge impression.  That lack of discipline morphs rapidly into buying homes you can't afford, taking vacations you can't afford and going so deep into debt you sink forever in the swamp and eventually go under.

        •  Rec'd for truth. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Chi, Sychotic1, xxdr zombiexx

          Too many people delude themselves into believing its Democrats vs Republicans and ignore the historical record of humanity. That record being one where a small group of individuals conspire to get the most out of life and deny the rest of us dignity at best and life at worst.

          "Free market ideology" has to win over any form of socialism or equality in the most powerful nations on the planet. If it doesn't, then the slow march of history will make sure that inequality continues to diminish.

          That is why leftists are characterized as a cancer instead of the cure.

          To whom it may concern: I am an American citizen. Not an American consumer. I am a human being, not a variable in the capitalist system.

          by FinchJ on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 11:41:09 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Exactly, I was appalled when I heard (3+ / 0-)

          all the commercials exhorting people to buy on credit and get "cash back." They are just training Americans to buy shit with credit cards that should be bought with cash.  It is a terrible habit to get into and generally leads to the equivalent of indentured servitude.

          I used to owe a shit load on credit cards.  As a single parent I often had more month than money and every emergency car repair, plumbing job or parking ticket when on a credit card.  I spent years living frugally and paying them off.  Now I own one credit card and it gets a charge on it once a year.

          Repubs - the people in power are not secretly plotting against you. They don't need to. They already beat you in public. (Bill Maher)

          by Sychotic1 on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 11:54:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  not really of the reasons why Bismark (9+ / 0-)

      introduced a social insurance system in 1878 was because he was unable to surpress the socialist worker party (which became later the Social Democratic Party of Germany). He wanted to outlaw them and wasn't successful and even tried to introduce legislation which would have allowed to denaturalize Social Democrats. It didn't survive.

      Bismark introduced a social security system only because he couldn't hope to get the support from the working class for his policies supporting the German Empire under King Wilhelm the First without somewhat trying to appease them.

      So, I would say, it wasn't WWII, it was the persistant fight of the social democrats under Bismark, who got him to introduce the social security system, we still profit from today.

      •  Exactly, Europe's rulers were afraid of socialism (0+ / 0-)

        and enacted welfare policies to quell the socialist uprising. It largely worked. It helped that capitalist welfare parties adopted socialist names (Social Democrats and Socialist Party) and spoke the rhetoric at the time it was still popular. Now with the fall of the Soviet Union, weakening labor unions, lack of faith in socialism (due to "socialism" being associated with the capitalist welfare parties), Europe's starting to act eerily similar to the US, with massive bank/finance bailouts, adopting austerity measures (cuts on social welfare and workers), etc.

        "I think we're an Oligarchy and I think it's getting worse." - Sen. Bernie Sanders

        by PoxOnYou on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 02:29:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  It seems that you've made a good (10+ / 0-)

    case that we have the most expansive social safety net in the world. Complete with sufficient food, a place to call home, clothing, and medical care. All you have to do is to commit a crime.

    I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

    by doc2 on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:08:46 AM PDT

  •  Sometimes Americans baffle me (19+ / 0-)

    I'm a Canadian who lives close to the Can-Am border. I have many family members on both sides of the border.

    Let me use the issue of paid vacation to illustrate a point. Under Ontario law, (labor laws are a provincial responsibility) every working person is entitled to 4% of their nominal or "gross" wage for vacation. That includes students who are part-time employees and all others who might not expect full-time year round employment. At the end of the year the employee is entitled to two weeks vacation (50 weeks * 4% = 2 weeks) or whatever cash has been withheld in lieu of holiday. It is a kind of forced saving. Nothing is for free. This payroll tax may be considered, in the same way some Americans consider minimum wage, to be a disincentive to competitive wage markets. However, the USA is almost unique in the developed world in this approach to labor markets.

    I am glad to see you addressed incarceration as an issue too. Many European nations provide post-secondary education free of charge to the student. Education is a fraction of the cost of incarceration.

    Perinatal health care, maternity benefits and education are preventive measures that are much less expensive than treating the problems that result in their absence.

    •  Yes but educated workers (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chi, paul2port, Calamity Jean, swampyankee

      cost more. Prison labor lets you do an end run around minimum wage.

      It is not best that we should all think alike; it is a difference of opinion that makes horse races. Mark Twain

      by Toon on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 09:38:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes but educated workers (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Chi, swampyankee

        are more productive, innovative and their earnings fuel the economy. The founding fathers didn't envision a great nation built on prison labor did they?

        •  No society has (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Chi, paul2port, Calamity Jean

          only professional level jobs. College level education is not needed to collect the trash or cook the food or grow the food but society as a whole benefits when some individuals do that work. There is a lottery mentality about quality of life in this country. If you meet these standards then you are a winner but if not then you get nothing.
          This culture says if you go to college expect to own a house, live a comfortable life, take vacations, see a doctor as needed and retirement that equals not working while maintaining your standard of living. But if you don't go to college then it is to be expected that you will work your entire life and still deserve to live in poverty.
          The prison industry has three features: its a profitable business for private companies to build and main the infrastructure to hold so many prisoners, it provides labor well below subsistence level, undercutting the labor market the same way outsourcing does, and finally its easy to expand the number of prisoners just by changing enforcement and sentencing guild lines.

          It is not best that we should all think alike; it is a difference of opinion that makes horse races. Mark Twain

          by Toon on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 02:25:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  About Canada... (5+ / 0-)

    It actually has a provincial element to parental leave also.  So Quebec for exemple has a lot more than what's stated above.  Simply put, it basically allows more than six months leave to be divided between the parents at 70% pay.

  •  You should have added (23+ / 0-)

    of how much it costs for a poor person to get an education in the US in comparions to European countries. It is IMO one of the main factors why in the US the "underclass" is persistant. It is absolutely inhumane what kind of struggle an average poor person is up against to get a decent education and with that moving out of poverty. May be you also should have added how this kind of "emotional oppression" influences the poor with regards to self-medicated drug usage.

    I can tell you out of experience that Europeans don't understand what is going on in the US. You can't convey that sort of thing without having lived and seen it personally and up close. Even then, they (the Europeans) also tend (like Americans) to not wanting to see this stuff and admit it to be true. It just is too hurtful. Better not think about it, better not look at it, because nobody knows how to change it anyhow. That is what gets me most.

    •  Is Hollywood to blame? (8+ / 0-)

      I can tell you out of experience that Europeans don't understand what is going on in the US.

      You are right. I think most Europeans don't have any clue really what's going on right now in America. When most Europeans think of America, they are really thinking about what they see on TV and in movies (ie Hollywood). The European news media doesn't appear to be reporting about the problems and issues of what poor Americans are facing right now, losing their homes, their jobs and their health insurance, some becoming homeless and falling into bankruptcy.

      I think Hollywood is mostly to blame for creating beautiful fairy tales. Hollywood creates an image of America, a powerful image/fantasy of what America must be like to live. If you've never lived in America, you really have no idea what's it's actually like.

      •  no, I don't agree, (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lupin, Chi, Mnemosyne, Sychotic1, poxonyou, Defiler

        most Europeans see the Hollywood stuff as what it is, entertainment that makes you laugh or smile or cry and you know it's fiction, go home and enjoy having been distracted by escaping for some hours in the dream world of some more or less nice movies. People can distinguish fiction from reality. Voice of America has always been recognized, even during the worst times in and after WWII as pure propaganda instrument of this
        good 'ol, but crazy uncle Sam.

        It's more that Europeans are born into their system and think that free public education and universal healthcare is a given, can't imagine a life without it, and think it's immoral to not strive to achieve implementation of such policies. To them it's so out of the question that they wouldn't even get the idea to think about it. So, they don't. It's off the table.
        Realizing that it's on the table for Americans leaves them speechless and thinking "it's their own fault, they deserve what they are getting". Mean spirited, but true.

        I can tell you that out of my own experience and many other Germans I have watched coming to the US and making the "jump". Everybody knows before they come here that higher education is not free in the US. No problem, they think. It seems to be human nature that you understand a condition only, if you experience it close-up and personally. For most incoming Europeans it takes to be asked very politely for the "check" when you sign up for classes to "get it".

        Now, when you happen to be in the situation to manage the money thingy, you just do it and go back and bragg about how "great" the US educational system is. That's for a tiny minority. The majority leaves after a while and they - being at home (in Europe)- mostly shut up about it, because they know they can't convey the experience. So the circle of misconception and realization of what the US system is all about goes on and on.

        There are always people dreaming of better life conditions, and Americans are masters of exploiting that, to their own disadvantage in the end, but to realize that seems to be very hard for them to grasp.

        •  Hollywood's skid row (6+ / 0-)

          It's more that Europeans are born into their system and think that free public education and universal healthcare is a given, can't imagine a life without it

          I can only imagine when Europeans come to actually emigrate to America, (not visit but live here) must be quite shocked when they see Americans having to pay for their medical bills in the hospital paying in cash.

          While it's true that most people dream of better living conditions, it would appear that Hollywood is a master of covering up the truth that there is a huge number of homeless people living in Los Angeles, California. Somehow I can't imagine seeing a tour bus driving through skid row, do you?

          Other Facts About the Homeless Population in Los Angeles:

          About 42% to 77% do not receive public benefits to which they are entitled.

          20% to 43% are in families, typically headed by a single mother. An estimated 20% are physically disabled. 41% of adults were employed within last year. 16% to 20% of adults are employed. About 25% are mentally ill.
          48% graduated from high school; 32% had a bachelor degree or higher (as compared to 45% and 25% for the population overall respectively).

          •  on a trip (8+ / 0-)

            this spring to the U.K., I talked to a number of people, ranging from very educated to blue-collar workers. Every single one was incredulous: "How can your country function without universal health care?"

            And they were the ones who brought up the topic. I wasn't about to, given that I have absolutely no logical answer to their question.

            Listen, are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?--Mary Oliver, "Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches?"

            by Mnemosyne on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:38:17 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I can't but agree with all of this - (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Chi, SLKRR, Defiler

            advertisement is also a factor. Advertisers are masters of obfuscation. And of course, the well made and cute movie "Pretty Woman" with Julia Roberts is a prime example about how skillful and entertaining one can forget about all the realities. You remember the last theme song "This is Hollywood" in the movie?
            Well, that is Hollywood and it everybody knows it, loves it and lets you escape for some hours. Many people are thankful for a bit of time out. Who can blame them?

            And yes, it is a shock for European emigrants to see what people have to worry about here regarding healthcare and education.  But Ivy Leagues and some great educational programs still make them come.

            BTW being shocked about the US healthcare system is not only recently. I remember my father, who has been to the US in 1936 and 1967 telling us how shocked he was when an American friend told him on his visit there about a colleague of his, who just lost his job. He matter of factly said: "Well yes, it's his fault to be so sick to have to stay so long out of work that he lost his job. You just can't get sick that way." My father was pretty speechless as his friend didn't seem to realize what it really meant saying something like that. So, this is dyed in the wool kind of thinking, apparently, and nothing new for Americans.

        •  I think you're both correct (0+ / 0-)

          I've had a similar problem in Japan explaining how our health care system works. They don't understand the fact Americans can't register at the local ward office and be on national insurance, that it's all private insurance and that insurance is hard to get and quite expensive. Words like "deductible" common in American health care discussions aren't used here, at least for the national insurance most use.

          But Defiler is also correct. Kids in Europe and Japan see these rich kids on shows like The Hills, Gossip Girl, 90210, the Real World. It's not like there are many shows like Rosanne and that are popular right now internationally. Even Rosanne is far from reality as it's more comedy oriented, we see funny representations of a white working class family, but don't see the daily hardships a working class family faces. Even though many hip hop artists grew out of poverty, they play into the image of being filthy rich and famous. Just try hard enough in America and you're live the life of luxury on a California coast or Miami.

          "I think we're an Oligarchy and I think it's getting worse." - Sen. Bernie Sanders

          by PoxOnYou on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 02:40:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  We have (7+ / 0-)

    always been a "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" society.

    Never mind that you can't find a job or afford to buy the boots or the rich own the materials that make the boots.

    If ya don't have boots you're lazy!

    Yeah, more snark

    When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it? Eleanor Roosevelt

    by IndyRobin on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:20:23 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for this much needed diary (19+ / 0-)

    You missed the most generous arrangement when it comes to maternity/paternity leave (scroll down to table):

    56 weeks (13 months) (80%) or 46 weeks (10.5 months) (100%) - mother must take at least 3 weeks immediately before birth and 6 weeks immediately after birth, father must take at least 10 weeks - the rest can be shared between mother and father.

    Modern daddy: Norway's progressive policy on paternity leave

  •  Most European countries (26+ / 0-)

    Aren't feeding obscenely bloated military - and prison - industrial complexes. If we keep feeding ours, maybe it'll become irrelevant when most of the citizens the military's  supposed to protect are dead from disease, starvation, neglect, greed, stupidity, etc., etc.

    And no "enemy" will ever have to fire a shot 'cause we seem perfectly capable of doing ourselves in.


    This ain't no party. This ain't no disco. This ain't no foolin' around!

    by Snud on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:21:23 AM PDT

    •  Yep - the US subsidizes EU defense so they don't (5+ / 0-)

      have to.  Let's get the hell out of Germany (57K troops), the UK (10K) and Italy (10K). While we're at it, lets leave Japan (33K) and Korea (27K) and for chrissakes let's get the fuck out of Afghanistan!

      •  Yes this is true. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SLKRR, Sychotic1, Snud

        And all Europeans I have talked to in the last few months recognize that it is an issue.

        That being said, if the EU can survive this crisis and move to further integration I know full well that they will be able to afford a common defense. France and the UK both are nuclear powers and if they are willing to relinquish more of their "sovereignty" I don't see any real reason holding the EU back from standing on her own two feet.

        A common defense won't have to cost upwards of $1trillion/year. $1t/year is the cost of maintaining an empire and the wars that come with it.

        To whom it may concern: I am an American citizen. Not an American consumer. I am a human being, not a variable in the capitalist system.

        by FinchJ on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 11:51:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Homogenity (10+ / 0-)

    Don't underestimate the effect of race.  A major reason we don't have much in the way of poverty fighting programs is racial diversity.  Its much too easy to blame the victim than to solve problems when the people can be made to believe that only other people will face these problems.

    This is also why many relatively homogeneous states within the US (e.g., upper Midwest) do better at addressing problems, while the south basically ignores or denies the problems.

  •  CAPITALISM. (15+ / 0-)

    The goal of capitalism is unrestrained profit by those who already have money.

    Providing help to the poor doesn't make money for anybody.

    It's that simple.

    The GOP takes this and makes savaging social programs of the 20th century to be a main value, the more social programs can be cut, the more poor people's money that can be stolen, the better.

    Speaking callously about it and calling it "tough talk" is plutonomic propaganda.

    That's why social program SUCK in America.

    Spray tons of carcinogens into the ocean to hide petroleum spewed from a hastily-drilled hole from a greedy corporation, but don't smoke pot.

    by xxdr zombiexx on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:25:15 AM PDT

  •  People are not a priority here (11+ / 0-)

    Although commerce once existed solely to serve the needs of people in the U.S., now people exist solely to serve the needs of commerce.

    Family and social bonds, health, peace, learning and life itself are subordinated to the needs of commerce and it's little side business, war.

    Amazingly, Americans still fall for the lie that their nation is the best in the world.  Yes, but only for the top 1% controlling commerce.  All of the rest are just expendable business resources.

    Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne. - James Russell Lowell

    by Deep Harm on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:31:06 AM PDT

  •  In this country if you (6+ / 0-)

    need help you must be a slacker.  

  •  Check out Steve Hill's new book (17+ / 0-)

    Europe's Promise for more information on how the EU surpasses the US in a myriad of different ways.  From the product description:

    A quiet revolution has been occurring in post-World War II Europe. A world power has emerged across the Atlantic that is recrafting the rules for how a modern society should provide economic security, environmental sustainability, and global stability. In Europe's Promise, Steven Hill explains Europe's bold new vision. For a decade Hill traveled widely to understand this uniquely European way of life. He shatters myths and shows how Europe's leadership manifests in five major areas: economic strength, with Europe now the world's wealthiest trading bloc, nearly as large as the U.S. and China combined; the best health care and other workfare supports for families and individuals; widespread use of renewable energy technologies and conservation; the world's most advanced democracies; and regional networks of trade, foreign aid, and investment that link one-third of the world to the European Union.

    To say my country right or wrong is something no patriot would utter; it is like saying my mother drunk or sober. -- G.K. Chesterton

    by commonweal on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:33:48 AM PDT

  •  to answer your question: (7+ / 0-)

    because we sort of suck.

    We have a culture that believes in "rugged individualism". It's in our national psyche (well, that and the fact that we've never been bombed to smithereens more than a few times as a continent).

    So we have a culture here where people actually believe that you should be able to make it on you own. that people who say they need help are liar and thieves. We have a national mentality where neediness equals being a burden or a detriment to survival.

    I'm only being partly snarky here.

    the fact is that we have a LOT of shit with us here in America. We've never been completely devastated by the ravages of war on out own turf. To me, this is the root of it.  When your entire country lays in rubble and everyone is devastated regardless of whether they were once rich or poor, I think it changes the national ethos for generations, if not centuries.  We've never had that happen and to me, that's the biggest reason why we don't feel, as a nation, that the role of government OUGHT to be to help people when there's no other help available.

    Besides that, America is avery young nation.

    Asking why we have such a weak safety net is like asking a 14 year old why he doesn't think about others as often as he thinks about himself.

    That said, I feel the frustration you articulate here. My husband and I have decided to emigrate. I just can't take it anymore. I have no idea what the hell is happening in this country but the trajectory does NOT look good.

    Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I will tell you what you believe. h/t MeteorBlades

    by mdmslle on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:35:07 AM PDT

    •  actually, yes, (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lupin, akeitz, mdmslle, isabelle hayes

      we have

      We've never been completely devastated by the ravages of war on out own turf.

      Except that it was so long ago that it's not within living memory. Unless you are still, as so many are, living in the fantasy of the Civil War as the great effort to promote freedom and liberty for plantation owners.

      Listen, are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?--Mary Oliver, "Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches?"

      by Mnemosyne on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:22:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  well true enough (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mnemosyne, Calamity Jean, swampyankee

        I think you probably also know what I meant by my comment.

        the fact is that the Civil War did happen so long ago but also interestingly was an attempt to hold together a government. And at a time when "individual survival" was largely still the name of the game. It was 1865, after all.

        Since industrialization, we've never been ravaged.  The role of government in the industrialized time is one that I believe was influenced in Europe by two devastating wars that left every city and town in ruins. There wasn't much sympathy for "figure it out on your own" sentiments. And I think it probably has the effect of realizing that sometimes people just need help and that sometimes the government is the only one that can provide it. That it isn't about who is "deserving" and how isn't. It fosters a sense of community and a willingness to contribute (er, taxes?) to make sure that there's enough to hep EVERYONE, because everyone realizes that it COULD be them as easily as it is their neighbor. And maybe it was.

        We dont have that in USA. We have a majority of people who believe it could never happen to them because only BAD PEOPLE who make BAD DECISIONS suffer from BAD THINGS.  So why on earth should I (a "good person" who makes "good choices") contribute (er, pay taxes) to people who are BAD?  See? This is the mentality in America.  

        Irony is that this is the closest we've probably come in recent times to busting that myth. There are a TON of folks out there who did everything right and are still living in homeless shelter with their families and getting food stamps. And yet, we STILL find it easier to try to BLAME them and find SOME fault and ANYTHING they did just so we can feel better about not having to contribute (er, pay taxes) to help them.  

        Its sickening. But I think it's a very major difference between us and europeans. When 90% of your country is laying in rubble, and you need help - and so dies every other living human being you know - i would think it changes your outlook and that of your kids and grandkids and greatgrandkids.

        Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I will tell you what you believe. h/t MeteorBlades

        by mdmslle on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:40:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  this country has always (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mdmslle, isabelle hayes, swampyankee

          been isolationist and so-called individualist. Maybe, as in England, it came from having large bodies of water at the borders to protect against enemies. Maybe, like Russia, it's because we have a huge land mass. I've noticed that people on the coastlines, where there's a history of international trade by ship, are often less so. And it's always been quite right-wing.

          As an example, go back and read the history of what was going on in 1939-40, even early '41, when FDR was trying to help Europe. The right was blocking him hand and foot on Lend Lease. It's not OUR war, they said, it won't affect US.

          They weren't too thrilled about the Marshall Plan, either. You could make a very good argument that without the Marshall Plan, Europe as we know it today, would not, could not exist.

          Listen, are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?--Mary Oliver, "Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches?"

          by Mnemosyne on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 09:51:32 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Hi Democrats Ramshield -- great diary. (7+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chi, nicolemm, emal, Mnemosyne, Unduna, mdmslle, Defiler

    I've just sent you an email to ask if the maternity leave portion could be crossposted to ePluribus Media, too.

    Thank you.

  •  The rich never gave anything to anyone... (7+ / 0-)

    even in Europe. The poor and middle class have always had to take it.

    Solidarity Now. Join the Union...Washington D.C. 10-02-10. {Dems: Tax cuts for the middle class. Repubs: Tax cuts for millionaires.}

    by reddbierd on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:39:13 AM PDT

  •   This is what we get for our Military Spending (20+ / 0-)

    When you spend as much as the whole world combined and then some on preparing for war, creating wars, and waging wars you there will be consequences for your citizens. We need to actually go back to campaigning against wars and military spending even if the crazy right will call us soft on defense.

  •  I'll tell you how I feel (14+ / 0-)

    I feel ashamed, and angry, that we are so far behind our counterparts in offering basic economic rights to mothers. My hubby is Canadian-American, and we plan on having our child there so that I'm not discriminated against and punished for having a child.

    Husband looking for work in NoVA/DC! Skilled in web content manag. & Photoshop. Please email me at if you have any leads!

    by fille americaine on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:43:57 AM PDT

  •  We need to see more Diarys like this (8+ / 0-)

    with first hand comparisons demonstrating how poorly America ( the greatest country in the world ) stacks up against other industrialized nations on humanitarian issues.

    We are nothing less than an embarassment.

    When I go to Europe most people think I am British because I speak English and I am ashamed to tell them any different.

  •  because those are (largely) monoracial countries (12+ / 0-)

    what is the "thing" that is separates the US from ALL OTHER "rich/first-world" countries?

    its racially far more diverse than france, italy, germany, japan, scandinavia, etc.

    it's easy to have a social safety net when EVERYONE looks and behaves ( relatively ) similarly. white voters in the US have allowed social safety nets to be dismantled largely because the right wing has successfully convinced them that they're bankrolling lazy minorities.

    look at willie horton or any successful right wing framing. gov't = code for helping minorities.

    at least, that's my opinion on one big factor. i'm sure there are many.

    •  Maybe true in the aggregate but (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Toon, swampyankee

      Europe seems to have been more accommodating to exceptional individuals. One need only consider the family Dumas: grandfather one of Napoleon's generals, father a prolific, popular and wealthy writer, son with one international best-seller and a slew of other works.

      The Chevalier de Saint-George (a gifted musician and composer) actually made it into the minor nobility.

      Most people don't know that Alexander Pushkin was of mixed ancestry, the "African" strain tracing back to the time of Peter the Great.

      For that matter, Africans were a known "novelty" factor in Elizabethan-Jacobean society, so much so that Shakespeare could write Othello and feel confident that the general public would buy tickets in droves (as they did).

      If it's
      Not your body
      Then it's
      Not your choice
      AND it's
      None of your damn business!

      by TheOtherMaven on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:12:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  If you look at Britain you will see (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SLKRR, poxonyou, isabelle hayes

      a mixing bowl of cultures.  Britain allows for fairly easy immigration from previous empire nations (with the exception of us of course) and you will see a lot of different cultures there, so I don't think this holds true at all for Great Britain.

      Repubs - the people in power are not secretly plotting against you. They don't need to. They already beat you in public. (Bill Maher)

      by Sychotic1 on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 12:05:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What of Canada? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SLKRR, poxonyou

      As diverse as the US yet...

  •  It all comes down to tax rates. (22+ / 0-)

    We've been reducing tax rates on the wealthy for decades now, and we flat-out cannot afford it anymore.  It is breaking this country.  It is class warfare, and 95% of us are on the losing side.  

    This morning I got a petition from Sen. Patrick Leahy via DFA regarding the expiration of the Bush/Cheney tax cuts for the wealthy.  Here's what I wrote in the optional comment box:

    This country cannot afford to let the wealthiest pay so little while our roads, bridges, schools, electrical grid and railroads continue to deteriorate.  The Bush-era policy of waging war while allowing the wealthy get a big tax break was fiscal insanity when enacted.  

    Raise taxes on the incomes over $250,000 per year.  And raise corporate taxes, too, while you're at it.  An especially appropriate measure would be to levy a penalty on corporations that outsource jobs.

    It would be self-destructive -- tantamount to class warfare -- now to continue these tax breaks.  I used to be middle-class.  Now I wonder where my next job will be found, and if it will pay enough to cover the bills.  I have a graduate degree.  My last full-time permanent job was a night-shift baking job for $10/hour.  This was a waste of my education.  If this country is to claw its way out of this fiscal abyss and be able to pay for the jobs programs we need to rebuild our economy, we have to force the wealthy and the corporations to pony up their fair share.  I think raising their taxes to Eisenhower-era levels would be an excellent idea.

    I'm mad as hell.  We have to do better than this.  The US was not a banana republic when I was a kid.  Why on earth are we putting up with this bullshit?

    "Fighting Fascism is Always Cool." -- Amsterdam Weekly, vol. 3, no. 18 (-8.50, -7.23)

    by Noor B on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:52:31 AM PDT

    •  We have the best government money can buy (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chi, maybeeso in michigan, Sunspots

      And, typically, the things that money cannot buy turn out to be far more important.

      If it's
      Not your body
      Then it's
      Not your choice
      AND it's
      None of your damn business!

      by TheOtherMaven on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:22:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Taxes are what we pay for services that (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chi, Noor B, Calamity Jean

      only government can offer efficiently, roads, schools, health care, and so forth.

      Everyone in Europe pays lots more taxes than we do, but they get a lot of benefits for the taxes, including subsidized health care, transportation, food, housing, maternity and paternity leave, childcare, and so forth.

      They realize that the benefits of the social and inclusive approach outweigh the costs, and that indeed, they do not need huge houses, big cars, an out of control military industrial complex, and so forth.

      On the other hand, they are beginning to struggle to integrate people from all over the world in ways that they have not had to do before. Like us, they are struggling. Globalization is a mixed blessing there as here.

  •  While working for a Norwegian company, (28+ / 0-)

    I travelled to Norway on business. As I watched the people of Oslo walking down the street and hanging out in the parks, I was struck by how calm and happy they were. No one was yapping on a cell phone while simultaneously stuffing food in their mouth and running to hail a cab. No one was shouting or cursing. No one was yelling at their kids. And no one was overweight. Everyone looked serene and healthy. I knew much of this was due to Norway's monoculture, coupled with the comparison I inevitably made to what I was surrounded by every day in New York City, but I think it was also due to the fact that Norwegians are unencumbered by the nagging worries that Americans have: How will I pay for my health care? When will I ever have time and money for a vacation? Who's going to watch the baby? How will I ever get ahead in my work unless I can afford to go to school? With these concerns hanging over our heads, it's no wonder Americans are sick, fat, stressed, underpaid nervous wrecks.

    Being a Humanist means trying to behave decently without expectation of rewards or punishment after you are dead. ~K. Vonnegut

    by Greek Goddess on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 07:55:56 AM PDT

    •  When I go to Spain on business I am amazed (13+ / 0-)

      at the day's different rhythm, and how healthful a cultural mindset it permits.  To take just one aspect of it:  2- to 3- hour lunch breaks, with sit-down meals, wine included, at fixed prices all over every city; or you could take that time to go home, either cook for your family or yourself, or join friends and relatives to eat with them, and talk, check in, get grounded.  Or you could take a quick nap.  Or you could catch up on work so that you wouldn't have to take it home with you at night.  Then, after work, you would have a light meal, maybe hang out with friends or coworkers, or with family, and connect with each other, or just stroll, looking at the world around you.

      Of course not everyone works at jobs where they get this kind of break or schedule.  Kitchen bus workers or dishwashers, contingent and unsalaried workers of all kinds face similar difficulties and pressures there as here.  But if you've got a steady salaried job, you've got a day that fits into the rhythm I described above.  What an incredible difference from our situation here in the USA.

    •  look at old photos (11+ / 0-)

      of the U.S. around the time of WW2 and just after. People are thin, have clearly-defined cheekbones, even waistlines. Their muscular structure is long and ropey, not bulked-up.

      Back then, food was not "manufactured" or "processed" or "developed." It was harvested and cooked. Sweetening came from modest amounts of sugar, not corn syrup or chemical additives concocted from industrial toxins.

      You're starting to see the same kind of bloat in Europe, as the American food "industry" makes inroads there. And residents are Not Happy about it.

      Listen, are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?--Mary Oliver, "Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches?"

      by Mnemosyne on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:20:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  There's a very dark flipside to that. (0+ / 0-)

      The country enjoys a very low (3%) unemployment due primarily to government control of the major industries.  Whenever unemployment threatens, the government orders any of the various national companies to hire thousand of employees.  Since the companies don't actually need these employees, you have a workplace where no one has anything to do, and resources are allocated very inefficiently.  

      So you get workdays where you probably only have two hours of work to maximum, and your coworkers may not really know anything about the job, since they're just along for the paycheck.

      The Snovhit project was just such an example, where the project went 50% (Billions of dollars) over budget after the government demanded they hire thousands of extra local workers.

      It's a recipe for disaster, once the oil money runs out.

  •  What Is The Safety Net Like For Older People? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If a person is out of work in his 40s, what do EU countries do for that person?

  •  Excellent diary (13+ / 0-)

    It really is mind-boggling how much our country makes climbing out of poverty such an obstacle, especially compared to clearly more compassionate governments the world over.

    Thanks for bringing this to light.

    "God made us number one 'cause he loves us the best. Well maybe he should go bless someone else for awhile, give us a rest." -Ben Folds

    by Free Chicken and Beer on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:10:17 AM PDT

  •  Brilliant analysis (22+ / 0-)

    I am an American who has lived in Belgium and France.  I lived in a small village in Belgium at one point, married a Belgian and fell in love with that small country, the people, and the simplicity, generosity and caring nature of that culture.  The French impressed me the same way, as did the Dutch, in whose country I travelled.  Europeans are happier.  The Happiness Index unquestionably shows that Americans are troubled and stressed compared to our European friends.

    The US is in big trouble in many ways. Unbridled Capitalsim, especially since the Reagan years, has caused severe hardship for many middle class, working class and especially poor Americans.  The lack of an effective social safety net in the US betrays a mean-spirited, cruel and unwholesome attitude toward living collectively.  The "every man for himself" mentality in the US has made it especially difficult for Americans in these times of economic suffering.

    I feel sad when I think of the future facing my son, his wife and his children.  My life was hopeful and filled with promise.  Though I am not rich, I did benefit from so many things such as the GI Bill, low cost student loans, help with college through my employer (State of FL - one yr leave with pay to work on my Master's), good public schools when my son was young, better wages and benefits, lower cost of living to income ratios when I was younger, etc.  All of that is gone in the US.  It is the saddest thing in my life to see that regression.  I blame the right wing and the Republican party. They, along with their coporatist masters, have nearly completely destroyed our country.  So very sad.

    Thank you for this thoroughly researched and excellent Diary.

  •  Why does the Religious right justify all of this? (8+ / 0-)

    The truth is the thing that disturbs me to the most is how the Religious right justify all of this. The 'pull yourself by your own boot straps' mentality is not a part of Christianity which is suppose to preach exactly the opposite message which is 'I am my Brother's keeper.'

    "I am my Brother keeper" is one of the most important teachings from Jesus Christ and his disciples.

    Somehow it would appear that the Religious right have completely twisted teachings of Jesus and his message.

    This is not a Christian message and it's certainly not a Christian attitude!

    •  Religion has always been perverted to serve (6+ / 0-)

      the needs of society, particularly in the US. That's one reason why the Founding Fathers were so adamant about separating Church and State - not just to protect the State from the Church, but also to protect the Church from becoming the perverted lackey of the State.

      If it's
      Not your body
      Then it's
      Not your choice
      AND it's
      None of your damn business!

      by TheOtherMaven on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:47:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "Sinners in the hands of an angry god" (0+ / 0-)

      was part of the religious foundation of our country.

      It's about lack of grace, retribution, sin, and the "other," that God righteously punished for their misbehavior.

      We've continued "othering" people every since those early puritan days.

      Their "failures" become evidence that they lack God's grace. If that's the case, then those better off and graced by God have no obligation to do more than direct a few crumbs. Poverty in and of itself is a prima facie evidence that poor are not worthy.

      Circular reasoning at its best.

      Of course, there is a competing religious tradition of mercy and love, but the two traditions have pulled and pushed each other for generations. The better angels of our nature have a hard go of it against those who favor the angry God approach.

      •  you may be (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        right in some of that, but Jonathan Edwards may not be the best example of religious thinking. He was probably nutty as a fruitcake and even then was outside the mainstream. Wrote a terrific sermon, though, and preached in a lovely church.

        Listen, are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?--Mary Oliver, "Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches?"

        by Mnemosyne on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:47:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Though when God exists (0+ / 0-)

        outside of time, circular reasoning (reverse causality, specifically) is not a fallacy anymore.  Since God exists outside of time, why couldn't God reward good people by making sure they were born into a rich family?  Remember that without linear time most, if not all, existing logic systems break down.

  •  Canada Maternity/parental leave longer. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mnemosyne, fhcec, Sunspots

    Maternity is 15 weeks, but then parental leave immed. kicks in. It can be used by the Mother or the Father.

    # Maternity benefits can be paid up to a maximum of 15 weeks. # Parental benefits can be paid up to a maximum of 35 weeks.

    So it is actually approx a yr that each family receives upon the birth of a child.

    A Creative Revolution- - To revolt within society in order to make it a little better- Krishnamurti

    by pale cold on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:19:28 AM PDT

  •  One word: Race (3+ / 0-)

    After the WWII, Germany and Japan developed well structured and welfare systems to compete against the Soviets. Capitalism tempered by socialism. The US on the other hand has been progressively eroding the New Deal (whose beneficiaries were by and large white Americans). LBJ's efforts were seen as welfare for the coloreds and that's all it took.

    That's all it took.

  •  Simple answer to why safety net so weak. (10+ / 0-)

    American culture believes that competition rather than cooperation is the key to success. Individualism.

    Anthropologist Margaret Mead, "And Keep Your Powder Dry"

    Alexis de Tocqueville, "Democracy in America"

    Media Reform Action Link

    by LNK on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:29:58 AM PDT

  •  Contrast Holland and USA (7+ / 0-)

    In the 1980s I met a Dutch woman of a certain age who was visiting here in New York. I forget how we got on the subject, but I'll never forget how she contrasted Holland and New York. She said, "We don't have big, beautiful skyscrapers like you do but the one thing I am most proud of in my country is how, since World War Two, we have built a society where nobody falls below a certain standard of living."

    Indeed, one of my Dutch relatives suffered from malnutrition as a child in the 1930s and had crooked legs as a result.

    Media Reform Action Link

    by LNK on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:35:07 AM PDT

  •  Obviously ... (6+ / 0-)

    there are so many facets of the social security net in Europe that differ from the United States. As someone who has at least a toe in the European system, I believe that there is a smart middle ground between what we would find in Western European countries like Germany, France, Sweden, etc and the United States.  Whether maternity leave or general leave, unemployment or health insurance, etc, the U.S. system's 'net' has huge holes and doesn't carry enough of the burden. In many W European countries, the reverse is true -- I would suggest not just in my opinion.

    Now, one of the benefit arenas that is rarely counted are the psychological benefits -- how much better off are people knowing that, for example, there is basic social support that will provide decent childcare when they go back to work (and that they don't need to spend huge amounts of time finding a decent provider) or assurance that a serious illness won't bankrupt them (and don't need to spend lots of time, while ill, filling out insurance forms)?  I explored this discussing a family member's illness in Cancer on the brain: a perspective on healthcare.

    Thank you for the material and for 'starting' the conversation.

    Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

    by A Siegel on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:40:09 AM PDT

    •  I clicked on your link (7+ / 0-)

      I hope your father-in-law is well & still w/you.My husband has lung cancer w/brain metastes.He is on ssdi-&
      he has medicare/medicaid.
      I get cold sick when I think about where he wld be w/out
      It is chilling.
      I have no respite,really-save what I pay two 16 yr olds
      to do.
      they are great-& I do not think I am paying them anywhere
      Tomorrow,I have to call a few places to see if I can get finacial help w/this.
      Lou cannot drive anymore-(i have never driven-eyesight issues)-in the weeks before American Cancer Society set
      him up w/vlunteer drivers,we spent way too much money on cabs-
      Its's the constant bleeding away of funds.The constant
      fretting,niggling damn worries about such things.

      Conservatism is killing this country. Jayden

      by swampyankee on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 09:11:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  GREAT quotation about social legislation (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ottawa Guy, Calamity Jean, Sunspots

    Otto von Bismarck, who said ""Politics is the art of the possible" is The Founding Father of modern social legislation. The whole section on wikipedia is worth reading.

    Bismarck, working closely with big industry and aiming to head off the Socialists, implemented the world's first welfare state in the 1880s.
    Bismarck’s idea was to implement welfare programs that were acceptable to the conservatives without any of the overtly socialistic aspects.
    Bismarck opened debate on the subject on 17 November 1881 in the Imperial Message to the Reichstag, using the term practical Christianity to describe his program.

    Media Reform Action Link

    by LNK on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:43:12 AM PDT

  •  Frankly, a lot of it is system of government (6+ / 0-)

    There are a number of factors, but one thing that I don't think people always grasp is how much our constitutional structure constraints government and inhibits progressive action. Don't get me wrong: our Constitution has blessed us with many things, but if we're having an honest conversation we have to accept the bad along with the good.

    Our civic culture extols "checks and balances" but I do think it's worth stepping back and recognizing that the U.S. has vastly more "checks and balances" aka veto points than any other major democracy. Most democracies in the world are parliamentary - a government is elected, given a 4-5 year term (barring a coalition breaking) - and is able to implement its agenda so long as it doesn't violate constitutional principles.

    In the U.S., there is far less party discipline between parties, and action is further inhibited by the fact that everything must pass through two chambers, must pass through several individual committees, must get a supermajority in the Senate, and then must pass through presidential veto. Then to top it off, we elect the House every two years, basically making sure House members are constantly running for election and don't have the luxury of voting for something with long-term benefits if it incurs short-term pain.

    The good news is that not all of these things are based in the constitution: we can establish non-partisan redistricting nationwide to establish more competitive elections; we can eliminate the filibuster; we can streamline the committee system. But those things are going to be difficult, and even if we get rid of those things we'll still have a system of government that makes passing big laws quite difficult.

    How does this affect the safety net? It means that the window for major expansions in social welfare tends to be very small. Ever large majorities are constrained by legislative rules, which not only blocks action, but slows things down which drums up doubts and opposition. One example: U.S. public opinion was just as favorable to universal health care as European publics in the late 1940s, but whereas all of them were able to pass it, Truman's effort for single-payer got bogged down in Congress and failed to pass.

    Two other factors that are worth considering: the U.S. has always, for better and worse, had a more individualistic political culture. In Europe, the mainstream right, especially in Catholic countries, has a commitment to at least middle-class social welfare, which means that there is a consensus around the welfare state. What many people in the U.S. don't realize is that in lots of European countries, it was parties of the RIGHT that erected the welfare state.

    Europe also has benefitted - in sort of a perverse way - by worse historical conditions. The World Wars were horrible, destructive things, but by completely destroying the old order - by destroying the old European right - and by requiring most countries to write new constitutions in the postwar era, they were able to start anew and build something genuinely different. We've been blessed to avoid that kind of bloodshed and destruction, but it means our institutions remain the same.

    Along the same lines, inequality used to be so much worse in Europe that it bred large-scale class resentments. Hence, large trade unions, leftist movements, and out-right class warfare, which wound up producing big concessions that have seen equality in Europe drop dramatically compared to the U.S.

  •  Is individualism hurting us? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chi, 3goldens, Sunspots

    what do you think?

  •  One thing I remember as a starving student... (7+ / 0-) Paris in the mid-70's is that staples there are subsidized. And so, at the time, you could get a delicious, fresh, warm, crusty baguette (loaf) of bread for a dime. I was never food-challenged.

    British Petroleum: I think that means it's foreign oil.

    by Bensdad on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:46:31 AM PDT

  •  Because (4+ / 0-)

    Because the US is the most religious ... or maybe the US is the most religious because it has the worst social safety net. There is a definite connection, believe it or not. Churches in the US are a key part of the support network, whereas that is far less the case in any other industrialized country.

    "If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." Mike Lazaridis of RIM

    by taonow on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:46:52 AM PDT

  •  The ironic thing to me (7+ / 0-)

    is that big business says we can't afford these things and remain competitive.  But we don't get the benefits and the jobs get shipped overseas anyway.

    Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

    by barbwires on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:46:58 AM PDT

  •  Like Russia with the fall of the USSR... (4+ / 0-)

    ...the US Empire is on a collision course with history; it was probably unavoidable but certainly hastened by the Cheney administration.

    I think we're facing a very tough transformation (just as Russia did) which may last most of the coming decade. I have no doubt that, at the end, the US will reemerge as a strong and powerful nation (just as Russia has), but I think the dream of the Great Society is definitely dead, and further that most of our present citizenry is quite delusional or ignorant and thus woefully unprepared for the challenges they're going to face.


    by Lupin on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 08:49:24 AM PDT

  •  I'm bookmarking this diary so the next time some (5+ / 0-)

    right-wing blowhard talks about the US being 'the greatest country' and the need for 'family values', I can throw this in his face.

    Even our touted (by the right-wing) 2-party system of government shares some blame.  The ability of one minority party to stymie progressive policies would not happen in a parliamentarian form of government, which coincidentally is what most of the world runs by.

    •  to Ammo Hauler - thanks for the great post (0+ / 0-)

      To be clear America as we all know is a great country, however only if we would start taking care of our own citizens, then America would be the greatest country that ever was, but we can't do that with this embarrassingly high infant mortality rate, high incarceration rate, high rate of homelessness, high rate of high school drop outs. We can, should and must do better or we risk losing the American dream! Thanks again for the great and very accurate comment.

      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 Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 03:31:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It seems like a lot of people want something free (0+ / 0-)

    from the government. What ever happended to JFK's line "ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country".

  •  My daughter just had a baby and (21+ / 0-)

    She received no, as in none, time off or benefits.

    You see, her husband was laid off and had to take a lower paying wage.  

    She worked until the day of her delivery.  She returned to work two weeks later (no pay for the time she took off).  Her husband was given one week off with no pay.  

    She is paid $9/hr.  He is paid $14 plus commission.  Oddly, when he meets his quote they switch him to a different department, so those commissions are always just a titch out of reach.

    They do qualify for Wic, which is good, but not for any other assistance because they both work.  And they are great money managers, but when the electric bill is $375 (August and the highest ever), its a struggle.

    She is exhausted and so stressed that her ability to breast feed ended at 4 weeks.  Diapers and formula cost approximately $250 a month!

    And the expense!  Shocking!  Yes, her husband has United Health Care for the family, BUT, they paid $2,000 to the doctor, $700 to the anesthesiologist, $1,000 to the hospital (which was nice enough to let her stay for three nights), and $25 co-pays for the pediatrician visits.

    Like Elisabeth Warren said:  American have Faux Insurance.

    America has family values in NAME ONLY.

    Nothing but trash is on TV.  Heck, some of the adds are pornographic.

    Schools are a joke.  The Junior High in my area provides NO books for the kids to bring home to study from.  Just "to the test" worksheets.  There are NO extra curricular activities.

    No centers for the children to attend for culture/play.

    One skate park.

    Drugs flood our streets after a 30 year War on Drugs(geesh).

    There are 15 registered sex offenders living within 3 miles of our schools (and this is a really upscale area).

    Oh, rats.  Our government is trying to drive us all crazy.

    DOUBLE MESSAGING, makes people feel crazy.

    We are told we are a family values society, and the government seems to everything it can to disrupt our families.


    So, get on a bus and get to the 10.2.10 March on Washington.  Let's show them that we have had enough.


    But I digress.

    What was done to my daughter and innocent grand child because of NO CONCERN for new parents makes my head explode.

    •  Oh, btw, my daughter lives in one of the most (0+ / 0-)

      upscale towns in Salt Lake County.

      I can't imagine the difficulties of living in one of the many low scale towns.  Well, actually I can.  The gang violence is on the news just about every evening.  Stopped watching that.  

      It's not news any more, it's just the
      murder/rape/kidnapping/arson/car accident report.  Too depressing.

    •  US social welfare policy is all about sticks, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chi, Sychotic1, Lucy2009

      no carrots....

      Only a highly suspicious people would institute such a policy.

      I'm remembering "sinners in the hands of an angry god", an early sermon that pretty much set (or reflected) the tone in Puritan New England. It is still with us, even tho' the majority of us have not read or pondered it.

      All sticks, no carrots is the US way.

      In my more cynical moments, only corporations seem to be exempt from this mantra.

      •  There are carrots. Illusionary carrots. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Chi, Sychotic1, War on Error

        We've all been taught to believe in the Horatio Alger myth...that in America, "anyone can be rich."

        No one mentions that this doesn't mean that everyone will be rich.

        So we work, and plan, and work harder, thinking that if we can just "work smarter" and "think outside the box" and have good enough "people skills" we'll make enough money for a good life.

        When the truth is that the majority of us will have to work harder and harder each year, for less and less money, as human jobs are outsourced or made obsolete, and no attempt is made to create new jobs.

        What I think is obscene is the fact that so many corporations are sitting on huge amounts of cash and cutting jobs.

        But why not? The financial, tax and business laws in this country, written largely by  Republicans,favor people who send jobs overseas, cut worker pay to the bone, and destroy the long-term health of many companies in favor of short-term profits...and the bonuses they generate.  

        Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

        by Sirenus on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:55:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I she could get on medicaid it would all be paid (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      War on Error


      Thousands of people in every state have babies on medicaid. (They get free interpreters if needed.) Also, a high percentage of medicaid appointments are no-shows because the patients don't pay fee if they don't show up. Of course, the state still pays a minimum fee to the interpreters...and to some service providers.

      My point is that there are billions of $$ of "safety net" resources available however they are not allocated efficiently or fairly.

  •  YELL about the SS cuts planned after the election (4+ / 0-)

    The Catfood Commission (stacked with Social Security & Medicare & Medicaid opponents) reports in December.

    We have to get our Democratic representatives to commit NOW - while an election is facing them - to voting against ANY cuts.  

    There is no fiscal need for cuts, given a 30 year SS surplus.  But Wall Street demands "austerity."  And it wants more of our money, of course.  Wall Street is important.

    A number of prominent Democrats (Durbin, etc.) have already said that we'll have to accept a retirement age increase.  My own liberal senator said recently that he thought that would be OK.  

    It's not OK.  That's a 19% cut in lifetime benefits.  It's a cut in insurance benefits that we have paid for.  

  •  I remember as a kid in the 1970's .... (4+ / 0-)

    we were on food stamps and we would shop at the Grand Union and two things I recall is 1) that any food stamp with a value over $5.00 HAD to be in the booklet (in these days they actually were stamps,) and 2) if there was change it was not given back in regular coins but in Grand Union "funny money" which were coins issued by the supermarket to be used only at Grand Union (they did stop that)

    It was humiliating. I think part of it is that people in don't begrudge other people who take gov't benefits but people in this country absolutely resent other taking benefits that they themselves take.

  •  The powers that be don't want a (7+ / 0-)

    safety net at all. That way people will have to take whatever crappy low wage/no benefits job they can find, simply to eat and keep a roof over their heads. The media, being dominated by corporations propagandizes to support this, and people who don't stop to think eat it up.

  •  "on par with Uruguay, Argentina, and Ecuador" (5+ / 0-)

    The United States of Inequality

    We are not doing well by any meaure, not at all.

    "In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder, a secret order." Carl Jung

    by Unduna on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 09:31:26 AM PDT

  •  Don't many of Western Europe's (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Samulayo, zaka1

    maternity leave policies, such as the child payment,  trace back to governmental actions taken after WWI to increase the birth rate to offset massive population losses from the war?  

    The US never saw such decimation.  

    Sunlight is a natural disenfectant.

    by leu2500 on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 09:33:44 AM PDT

    •  Yes. (0+ / 0-)

      And, America almost followed suit but the feminists at the time contributed to blocking national action because the benefit would only apply to married women with children...the single women would not benefit. And it would discourage women being allowed into the workplace.

  •  For the GOP, America is not the place (6+ / 0-)
    for common folks.
    •  Not just the GOP (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, louisprandtl

      too many of our own Democratic leaders have embraced the belief that only the wealthy and powerful are entitled to a fair shake, that their needs and desires are to be placed ahead of average Americans and consumers.

      Ask Tim Geithner or Larry Summers or Max Baucus or Chris Dodd or Kent Conrad or Erskine Bowles or Rahm Emmanuel or Steny Hoyer or Blanche Lincoln or Tom Vilsack or Kent Conrad or numerous other Blue Dog Dems who care nothing for the people who have trusted them to lead.

  •  Maternity leave in Canada (5+ / 0-)

    Although there is only 15 weeks maternity leave, this is followed by another 35 weeks of "parental leave" which can be taken be either parent (or split between them)

    We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both. - Former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

    by RageKage on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 09:44:41 AM PDT

  •  History (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elfling, congenitalefty

    Most European countries took care of benefits for those already with jobs first, and then of course dependents, the poor and the destitute still needed benefits too, which were then duly provided up to some kind of decent standard.

    We went in the opposite direction, covering dependents, the poor and the destitute first, while insurance in many cases grew to take care of those already with jobs.  So the system covering dependents, the poor and the destitute was never standardized with the essentially private system covering those in work.  We hit the level of satisfaction with the voters before the job was finished, simply because of the different order we proceeded in compared with Europe.  There are, of course, cultural reasons for doing things in the order we did, but that's another story.  We basically have a situation where not enough people in the US have a vested interest in fixing the problem, whereas Europe went through a critical window where enough people DID have a vested interest, and it got done.  And of course once a benefit is passed, nobody wants it taken away, even here.  So they're locked into a better system than we are.

    To overcome this kind of history takes a prodigious organizing effort.  Consider the recent health care battles.

    Google the term "path dependence".  You'll get some idea of what I'm talking about.

  •  Clap louder when you say stuff like that (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chi, 3goldens

    Big O is gonna fix all that as soon as he has a new, more Republican Congress ...

  •  great diary, great comments, thanks y'all! n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  simple (0+ / 0-)

    Puritan work ethic.

  •  Where are the Democrats on this? (8+ / 0-)

    Why haven't the Democrats tried to pass a maternity-paternity paid leave act over the past two years??  They could have tried.  Why didn't they pass guaranteed vacation/sick time for every worker?  It is so enraging and frustrating why the Democrats aren't taking advantage of these large majorities.  They won't even talk about these things. Where the hell is Obama on these issues??  

  •  Why? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    Because the rich people WANT ALL the money.

    Once they have it all, or most of it, maybe they'll give the rest of us allowances. And caution us to use them wisely.

  •  Because the Democrats, over 30+ years, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chi, Azazello

    caved to "American" style laissez-faire capitalism and the people no longer have a voice inside the beltway.

    We're a pay-to-play nation.

    America = failed democracy.


    "History is a tragedy, not a melodrama." - I.F.Stone

    by bigchin on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:21:34 AM PDT

  •  Because Americans are narcissists (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chi, b4uknowit, isabelle hayes

    we have become the country of "me".  Were such a thing as paid parental leave even come up for a Congressional vote, anyone who doesn't have kids, can't have kids, is too old to have kids, is too young to have kids, already had kids and didn't get the benefit, or chooses not to have kids, would stand up and say in protest:

    "I get nothing from this benefit, I'm against it and I won't pay for someone else to have it."

    Same argument I hear from the locals who think that because they haven't currently got a child in the school system, they should not have to pay property tax.

  •  There is no force pushing back against conservati (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chi, RAST, Calamity Jean, isabelle hayes

    ve ideas. This is something George Lakoff talks about a lot. You have one side that actively and forcefully pushes their ideas for society. And you have their opposition - timid,embarrassed by liberal ideas and viewing them as deeply unrealistic and un-serious.What do you think will happen to such a society?

    On another note, there is nothing like seeing how things work in other countries to make you understand the situation at home. I live between Trinidad and the US. This is a developing country. And guess what? They have universal healthcare. Now its obviously not the greatest care, but the CONCEPT, the IDEA that healthcare is not a commodity, it is a human need, would be utterly barbaric to them.

    The Government had to bailout a major corporation here that was hit by the financial crisis. Now the sin of this corporation wasn't that they engineered dubious financial products that eventually crashed the market, they simply overextended themselves. What did the Government do? They took over the company. Public money was used to rescue the company so it became the publics. Seems simple enough right?

    One last thing, besides internationalism, another great way of putting things into perspective is history. There was a time during the 1960s when people thought the GOP was dead. LBJ destroyed Goldwater. Did movement conservatives run from their ideas, soften themselves and try and sneak into office? No. They pushed harder than ever.

    On the Democratic side it wasn't Clinton that represented the shift in the Democratic Party to what it is now, it was Jimmy Carter. And he did it after McGovern was trounced by Nixon. Since then the party has been running from the Left. Since then its been afraid of being too Left. And since then ideas like a social safety net have been gradually strangled so that we have reached the point where cities are shutting down public lighting and digging up roads.

    The Republicans didn't just win the war for ideas, the Democrats surrendered it.

    The cave, the Matrix, America.

    by Grassee on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:25:54 AM PDT

  •  "Family Values" depend on the value proposition (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    isabelle hayes

    There is clear, deep, culturally and politically embedded opposition to not having children, certainly not too many, unless one can afford to. The white, Anglo Protestant dominance was always blessed as our/the defining work ethic and white anglo ownership dominance of the money behind our laws has been resolute in purpose to stop the overpopulation of African Americans, Catholics, Irish, Italians, and the dreaded Gypsys.

    The US Catholic Church has been strong in support of universal health care and dignified, open immigration reform as well as against abortion (their favor of capital punishment flies in the face of Vatican opposition). Of the two Christian factions - Protestants and Catholics - the Protestants - the owners, the dominant - have always been most successful at defining the bottom line, the boundaries of social responsibilities. The infiltration of Catholics, Irish, and Italians into law, police, press, and politics had many reasons but one was certainly to eek out some power in a intentionally socially hostile world.

    We needed a social and environmental revolution to build intolerance of littering but over-population was treated with disdain by every agency of the government.    

    Perhaps no more but there certainly were stringent limits to the number of inhabitants per address in white suburbs in the 50's and 60's.

    The term safety net needs definition as to whose safety is paramount.

    "People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy," Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins.

    by kck on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:34:08 AM PDT

  •  there are believed to be 2 species of human (5+ / 0-)

    The racehorse which will only work for large positive incentive. That is why we are told they must not be taxed too much, and must be highly rewarded even when unsuccessful are running their various enterprises.

    While the working class are considered to be of the mule variety who will only working hard for fear of being beaten, whipped, and starved. A safety net is considered therefore to be a disincentive to work.

    This is also why money made from money like capital gains is taxed at a much lower rate.

    fact does not require fiction for balance

    by mollyd on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:36:10 AM PDT

  •  And unbridled greed is good right? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chi, 3goldens, Calamity Jean

    Thanks for this diary.

    I've made some friends overseas.  A few honest conversations later, I realize why we need to grow the Progressive movement.

    The people deserve better.

    They are, after all, the source of the wealth so coveted by those trying to fuck them over.


    by potatohead on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:39:29 AM PDT

  •  Answering the "Why" (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chi, Sychotic1, 3goldens, drmah, congenitalefty

    Because in most industrialized nations, the social safety nets were installed by parties that at least in theory, at the time they established those policies, were opposed to the unfettered rule of capital.  The US social safety net was developed by people who favor the rule of capital.  The consequences of that difference in perspective are obvious.

    American business is about maximizing shareholder value. You basically don't want workers. ~Allen Sinai

    by ActivistGuy on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:39:47 AM PDT

  •  Assault on Social Security and Medicare in Dec. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chi, RAST, 3goldens, Lucy2009

    President Obama has spoke of President Reagon being "transformational."  Now I understand what he means.  Wait until These People are done!
    There is more

    Monica Lewinsky saved my SS benefit!

    Obama brought Bowles back!

    No comittments!

    Deficit Death Panel

  •  My English grandbaby was born via C-Section. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Iberian, Diana in NoVa, Calamity Jean

    She and mommy were in hospital for 2 days....NO CHARGE! A nurse came to the house once a week for the first month to do the newborn check-ups....NO CHARGE!

    Mommy gets dental work, including cosmetic procedures during the first year of babies life...NO CHARGE!

    Babies parents get $650.00/mo for the first year to help out with diapers, bottles, etc. EVERY PARENT, no matter their financial status is eligible for this benefit.

    My daughter-in-law has a friend who is single and just had a baby. This single mother has a NICE one bedroom flat, plenty of food, money for baby supplies, gas for the car, and of course FREE MEDICAL CARE. In other words, this young single mother and baby do NOT live in poverty.

    These are just the bennies I can remember Vicky telling me about. My hubby and I were stunned when she listed off the benefits that they are receiving as a new family. As a result of all this, daddy goes off to work in the morning. Mommy stays home with (the cutest child ever born!) and is not stressed out, baby is very happy, and so is daddy.

    I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

    by Lucy2009 on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 10:42:36 AM PDT

  •  It's because of the mythology of America (5+ / 0-)

    America was built on the myth of the rugged individualist, pulling himself up by his bootstraps to become a success.  If you can't do this yourself, you're looked down upon.  Lately I've seen and heard alot of hatred directed at the poor and the homeless.  It's as if compassion and empathy are anathema now.

    •  Arakiba - it's not a myth (0+ / 0-)

      The US was built on the concept of the rugged individual. It may not be a practical philosophy given the size and scope of the US economy today, but it is not a myth.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 01:41:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  For good or for ill, we have the big military, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drmah, Calamity Jean, Azazello

    and military spending crowds out other spending. If the military is protecting us from catastrophe, maybe that's worth it. If not, not.

  •  Ignorance and ideology (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave925, VClib, isabelle hayes

    There are two factors behind the difference. One is ideology, the other ignorance. On the ideological side, there's the concept of government, which is fundamentally different between the anglophone nations and much of the rest of the world. Both systems are based on the idea of the social contract, but the terms of that contract are understood differently in the two cultural spheres. In America, that political philosophy combined with unbridled capitalism has promoted the libertarian ideal of a weak government, low taxes, and everybody fending for themselves.

    But the other side, and ultimately probably the most powerful ingredient in the mix, is ignorance. I'd say easily 90% of Americans wrongly believe that the U.S. has the best social services in the world. If they had any idea how far from reality that is, it would have to change, no matter what the ideological obstacles are. Just like most Americans believe that the U.S. has the best health care in the world.

    America is culturally an incredibly insular nation considering her size and power. And that is so in large measure due to another ideology - American exceptionalism. Americans would know much more about the rest of the world if they weren't so confident that the U.S. are "the only country that matters" (with apologies to the Clash).

    "Will the highways of the internet become more few?"
    - GWB asketh, Verizon/Google answereth

    by brainwave on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 11:06:53 AM PDT

  •  EU is suffering from falling birthrates (0+ / 0-)

    2.1 children per women is considered break-even. All EU countries are below this.

    And the EU cannot rely on immigration because EU populations are against immigration even more than Americans.

    So, they create incentives for children birth.

    The US would be below the 2.1 threshold but for our expansive (compared to EU countries) immigration policies.

  •  As another ex-pat (6+ / 0-)

    I don't think the political landscape in America will sustain the pathetic social protections it has, let alone move forward.  If all the Republicans disappeared from Congress tomorrow, you still couldn't get your Democratic Party to move America out of its debt culture.
    And that's what it's about: you're in debt from the moment you're born, and any wealth a middle class schmuck puts together in his life will be sucked away by your still sucking health care system.
    America is doomed.  Like an alcoholic, it will have to hit bottom before it redefines itself, and with all those nukes it will probably take a few other countries, if not the world, with it.

    "I almost died for the international monetary system; what the hell is that?" ~ The In-laws

    by Andhakari on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 11:09:59 AM PDT

  •  Without an informed electorate, change is not (4+ / 0-)
    likely.  The free press has not operated for a long time in America.  Reagan began a plan for the dumbing of America and merger with larger and larger corperation ownership of the media this story isn't likely to be heard. American isn't much better off than the USSR was under Pravda.  Right-wingers want to surpress the real story of how bad off we were under Bush.  If they regain Congress, America will lose 100 years of progress.
  •  There are a lot of answers (6+ / 0-)

    Of course as soon as the word "social" is involved the media induced American mindset tends to shut down. I've been living in France for twenty five years so I've had the opportunity to examine both sides of the issue. The French social safety net, started off post WWII as a necessary and good idea. The political mouvment that we now know as the Socialist Party usurped the "social aspect" and thirty years of demagogery (sp) ensued. Today France is making decent decisions about which "social" programs are utile and which are the product of "vote buying" over the decades. The actual system in France is a trifle too generous and open to corruption and fraud, but easily remedied. France has weathered the crise with much less fallout because of this system. At the end of the day the French, knowingly or through their support of those promising "Nirvana" have decided to allocate a portion of the collective wealth to guaranteeing certains services. The American mindset is the only thing blocking this process in the States. In America if the Wall Street Dow Jones says that the casino is working the average American feels happy, in France the stock market is an afterthought and people would sneer if you suggested investing social security money in a gambling scheme. In France the middle class don't make as much money as their counterparts in America. Money is taken from one's salary to pay for social services and there is a 19.6% value added taxe. To make a long story short, a middle class family in France doesn't drive a gas guzzler, buy houses they can't afford, and they're not obese. On the other hand a middle class French family has more quality time, less work hours and more protection for their families. It all comes down to what the country considers to be basic services that all should be able to benefit from as opposed to a dog eat dog scenario like that of the States. Proponents of the dog eat dog theory will of course rail about those that get a free ride, yet when you look at America today, many of those dogs are out of work and changing their thinking. While there are many things that need to be perfected, in France no-one will take away your house or let you die in the streets. That's what it's all about. I served 16 years in the French military, they gave me a lifetime pension, and I just had my left knee replaced. Cost of the knee replacement, about a hundred dollars. If you wanted to give an easy pertinent example : in France the proposed tax cuts for the middle class would go through but those proposed for the richest would never fly. PS: In France we understand that the future is in environmentally friendly business. A bientot.

  •  FDR's 2nd American Bill of Rights (4+ / 0-)

    Most of Europe and Japan were required to adapt some form of FDR's 2nd American Bill of Rights.  The United States, of course, led by right-wing Republicans and southern Democrats, sneered at such nonsense.

    It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.
    This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

    As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

    We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. "Necessitous men are not free men."[2] People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

    In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.

    Among these are:

    The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

    The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

    The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

    The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

    The right of every family to a decent home;

    The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

    The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

    The right to a good education.

    All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

    For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.

    From President Roosevelt's January 11, 1944 message to the Congress of the United States on the State of the Union

    •  this quote (4+ / 0-)

      "Necessitous men are not free men."

      is by adam smith.

      he also said this:

      "the understandings of the greater part of men are necessarily formed by their ordinary employments" and, therefore, "the man whose life is spent in performing a few simple operations ... has no occasion to exert his understanding ... and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to be."

      an overworked and underpaid electorate doesn't have time or the energy to protest the plutocracy robbing us blind.

    •  so if these marvels had been actually enacted (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean, Dirtandiron

      americans would long have had what europeans have;

      fdr's policies had allowed everyone a chance for a good life after the travails and insecurity of the depression, and the ideals expressed in this state of the union address ought to have been affordable and possible, since we were the richest nation on earth after wwii and well after that;

      shows you how long such ideas have been around, but which have never been actualized because the rich began taking the country back after "that man" died;

      also, when he was potus, it hadn't been easy to get the u.s. into wars; since then, the health of the m/i complex has come to require them

  •  Leaders of a nation founded on equality for all (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sychotic1, 3goldens, poxonyou

    no longer believe in the concept.  

    It's because the leaders of a nation founded on the value of humanity to others and promoting the common good for all feel that's an antiquated concept.

    It's because the leaders of our nation feel the privileges of a free, productive society belong to those who can gather the most wealth and power.

    As a nation, we citizens have not lost touch with those values, but our leaders in government and commerce have.  They've embraced social and economic Darwinism as the core values of our country.  They've lost their way, we haven't.

  •  No foodstamps for me luckily (8+ / 0-)

    I live in Ireland, currently unemployed like 14% of the country ATM.

    I automatically get €196 a week in Unemployment Benefits. The local Social Welfare office also offers a range of advice on things like returning to college, finding work abroad, financial advice, retraining.

    Also everyone that is unemployed also gets a Medical Card which gives you free visits to the local doctor or dentist (dentist for non-cosmetic reasons only). Also free supply of any medication from a chemist that is prescribed by a doctor and discounts on thinks like painkillers that are not prescribed.

    On top of the 200 a week and the medical card I also get Rent Allowance where the government pays pretty much half my rent. Also if you are a part time worker looking for full time work the government will pay you an extra 100 euros or so.

    Non Violence is fine... so long as it works. - Malcolm X

    by Dr Marcos on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 11:35:26 AM PDT

  •  "Why is the American social safety net..." (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chi, SLKRR, Sychotic1, 3goldens, Bronx59, Azazello

    Because every single person born in America begins receiving anti-socialist, pro-capitalist propaganda -- in all forms, from the sublimely subtle to the outrageously blatant -- from the time he/she can speak.

    It's my personal belief that until we start reversing this entrenchment of idealogical beliefs that becomes a knee-jerk part of the thought process of every American child and ultimately "grown-up," things will remain pretty much the way they are today.

    The uber-rich own America.  The uber-rich control pretty much every thing that happens within America's borders.  Any -- ANY -- whisper or greater of social change is seen as a threat.  (Sorry to shout.)

    A sick tree can't be made well by "treating" its branches.  It has to be pulled out by the root.  The root of America is diseased.

    Kick apart the structures - Seth

    by ceebee7 on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 11:41:35 AM PDT

  •  There's a Social "Safety Net" in America??? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens, isabelle hayes, supercereal

    Who knew?

    - Fools and dupes abound and wisdom is the subordinate of naked greed. What a country!

    by Dave925 on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 11:42:14 AM PDT

  •  what leaves me feeling gutted (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is when i read how other countries offer free college.

  •  Welfare mothers (6+ / 0-)

    I grew up in a right-wing family.  Their horror at the abuses of welfare is confusing considering the horror of no welfare at all.  

    You give shit away for free, people who don't need it will take it, of course.  My question to the right wing: so the fuck what?  The welfare queen scares you worse than sick and hungry kids?  Get your ethics straight bitches.  

  •  Oh, you scary, scary socialist, you! (6+ / 0-)

    I am grateful to be here in the EU (dual national—French citizen since 2009). It is sometimes unbearable to see how much my fellow Americans are suffering because of the inhumane practices of corporations and politicians alike. And it is infuriating to read the lies and propaganda spread by those same corporate interests and politicians.

    May America wake up.

  •  You are on my wavelink ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sychotic1, 3goldens

    ...I was planning this week to post a diary about hatred of the poor and why we have no safety net anymore.  You can read the draft of it here:  

    I am planning on posting it tomorrow or Tuesday.  

    Hope this helps ...

    Cat in Seattle

    First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they hurt you, then you win ~ Mahatma Gandhi

    by mntleo2 on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 12:09:20 PM PDT

  •  rightwing propaganda in the business press (8+ / 0-)

    argues that europe is in trouble because it's too generous in giving benefits to its citizens, but look at this:

    But the thing that’s important to realize is that these sorts of things [europe's social safety net] have been portrayed as something that undermines the European economy vis-à-vis the American economy. But, in fact, when you really look at the numbers, there’s no truth to it whatsoever. Europe has the largest economy in the world. It’s almost a third of the world’s economy. In fact, it’s almost as large as the United States and China’s economy combined. Europe has more Fortune 500 companies than China and the United States combined. It has more small businesses, that produce two-thirds of the jobs, compared to in the United States where small business produces about only half the jobs. And so, however you want to measure it, the European economy is robust, and it’s vibrant.

    from the author of "Europe’s Promise: Why the European Way Is the Best Hope for an Insecure Age."

    because healthcare is provided for and isn't a worry, that frees up people to take the risk to start their own shops.

  •  Simple enough (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sychotic1, 3goldens, Defiler

    because the majority of Americans work against their own basic best interest.

    And why is that -- because the vote by "hot topics" -- red meat items that the GOPers throw out to them

    Be afraid of Muslims -- Gays -- abortions -- health care --

    God forbid that these people would finally grow up and read for themselves - finally figure out what they have done to themselves....


    "Proud to proclaim: I am a Bleeding Heart Liberal"

    by sara seattle on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 12:26:12 PM PDT

  •  It's sad how we treat (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    QuestionAuthority, Defiler

    the less-well off in this country.

    I believe it is a remnant of that "American exceptionalism" thing, in which people believe because they are Americans that they are somehow better than anyone else in the world, and they got that way all on their own.

    We the people of the United States can't seem to stand the idea of anything that smacks of socialism -- which to some of them is simply redistributing someone else's hard-earned cash to the less-deserving.

    How we got to be less-deserving for having simple bad luck or being less-intelligent than the Masters of the Universe is beyond me. Haven't these people ever heard of noblesse oblige?

    "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." -- Mark Twain

    by Brooke In Seattle on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 01:14:41 PM PDT

    •  that hits the nail on the head (0+ / 0-)

      As a German I'm always amazed how even a lot of people on the American left think it's okay for people to make insane amounts of money. Of course, they also say we should take care of the needy but I think they don't understand that having these super mega rich at the top means you're going to have the super mega poor at the bottom. When you point out that perhaps it's not right for some people to have so much and that there should be a better way to cap both extreme wealth and poverty, you're called a Marxist, even on a liberal site like dkos. The problem is that this sort of feelgood American exceptionalism that makes us fawn over the rich and famous while neglecting the poor is really hurting the country as a whole, internationally. What a lot of people don't see is that while it's nice to believe like you're Number 1 in the world because people in your country can make more money than anywhere else (except for Saudi Arabia and Dubai), we're falling behind on all the things that actually make a country strong and successful in the modern world, like education, manufacturing, alternative energy, etc. When I point that out to people, they often tell me to go back to Germany if I don't like it here. And I'm a U.S. citizen, an immigrant just like almost everyone else's descendant. There's a lot of hurt pride, and I totally empathize with that, but it doesn't help anyone to pretend that everything is okay with the rampant "me first" capitalism that perhaps worked while there were enough resources to go around but is totally unsustainable in these times.

      So I think we should take diaries like these not as insults but try to learn what we can do better, in our own unique American way, to have a more fair distribution of wealth in this country so we have a stronger middle class, a better educated public, and thus be able to compete better in a global market.

      Safari mzuri Ahsante sana :: Journey beautiful Thank you very much!

      by citisven on Sat Sep 18, 2010 at 09:22:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The prison statistics (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    are numbing. Private prisons indeed...taxpayer dollars at work.

    If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. Dalai Lama

    by ohcanada on Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 02:27:19 PM PDT

  •  Prisons are the social (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SLKRR, Calamity Jean

    safety net for the reserve army of capitalism, given the abandonment of public education.

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