America’s Romantic Economic View of the European Lifestyle (Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland)
For Americans who yearn for life in Europe, with its more generous social safety net and strict rules for firing employees, columnist Andrzej Lubowski of Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza has some disheartening news: the idyllic lifestyle Europeans have come to expect is in its death throes.
For Gazeta Wyborcza, Andrzej Lubowski writes in part:
“There is nothing more enjoyable than an evening stroll in early summer along the Rhine in Basel, while watching young men, women and entire families float along the swift current of the water in their inner tubes. … No one’s in a hurry. Seriously – no one. People still walk in Europe. Older people often walk with hands folded behind their backs, with one hand clasping the opposite wrist.”
This idyllic picture is from the book The European Dream: How Europe’s Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream, written by Jeremy Rifkin, an American. It was published in Poland over five years ago.
Europe also seduced Steven Hill, which was revealed in an interview published in Gazeta Wyborcza’s special Christmas edition. His book has almost the same title: Europe’s Promise. Why the European Way Is the Best Hope in an Insecure Age.
Hill says: “American companies responded to the crisis by slashing jobs, while European firms divided the available work among employees so that there was enough work for everyone.” Which ones, where and how, I ask?
Hill doesn’t seem to have noticed monumental problems facing Europe, or the range of evidence suggesting that the idea of European superiority has little in common with reality.
According to a report published in late February by Citygroup, a picture of a gradually marginalized Europe emerges. In 1970, Western Europe accounted for 28 percent of world’s GDP, today it’s 19 percent. Citygroup economists predict that by 2030, it will shrink to 11 percent and by mid-century, it will only be 7 percent – less than the share of Latin America and Africa. That’s because Europe is loosing its capability to compete.
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