Monday, April 7, 2014


Most bad behavior comes from insecurity.

Debra Winger


Most developed nations throughout the world practice a form of social democracy modified capitalism in which the inevitable hazards of life are cushioned to a substantial extent through risk-sharing,  government action, and general agreement over such concepts as social justice and the public good.  In short, there is a consensus that if a free market economy is to work for all, it must be underpinned by a moral code based upon fairness, minimizing risk, maximizing human potential, decency, equality of opportunity, and sustainability.

Major cost factors such as housing, healthcare, third level education, and retirement are catered for—and infrastructure, energy efficiency, public transport, and other matters (such as the environment and the creative arts) which contribute to the public good,  are invested in and maintained to a high standard.

In addition, worker rights are extensive, unions are widely accepted, codeterminism (cooperation between management and labor) is practiced in business, corporate power is kept (somewhat) in check, and vacations are lengthy—and taken.

As a consequence of such actions:

  • Stress is minimized.
  • Healthcare of a high standard is available to all.
  • Health is much improved.
  • People live longer and healthier.
  • Creativity is enhanced.
  • The creative arts thrive.
  • Work is made more enjoyable.
  • People live more balanced lives
  • Productivity increases.
  • Social mobility is increased.
  • Poverty is minimized.
  • The prison population is dramatically lower.
  • Populations are better informed, more highly educated, and speak several languages.
  • The overall quality of life for most people is enhanced.


The Right Wing in the U.S. would have you believe that such commonsense approaches to the business of living will result in:

  • Inferior healthcare.
  • Lower economic growth.
  • Less creativity.
  • Less innovation.
  • Lower earning power.
  • Lower productivity.
  • A lack of international competitiveness.
  • Higher—and growing—unemployment.
  • A lack of incentive to work which will result in a steady increase in the number of dependent citizens.
  • A lack of social mobility.
  • A declining quality of life.


There is now abundant evidence from a score or more of developed nations that the Right Wing is wrong on almost all counts—and dramatically wrong in many cases. The following are just some examples from developed social democracies such as those of Germany, Austria, France, Holland, Belgium, and Northern Europe generally.

  • Generally speaking economic growth matches or exceeds that of the U.S.—and is of a higher quality (less investment in defense and more in the public good). The quality of investment is a crucial factor to consider.
  • Innovation is increasing—especially in matters to do with the quality of life. Cities are better maintained; public transport is superior; more emphasis is put on energy efficiency; sustainable energy; and the environment. Water is less polluted; food and diet are superior; and toxic chemicals less pervasive.
  • The earning power of many Europeans now exceeds that of many Americans.
  • Calculated on an hourly basis, the productivity of many other nations is higher than that of American workers.
  • The U.S. has experienced a trade deficit for decades despite being rich in natural resources. Albeit being more highly paid, the Germans, for instance, out export us at every turn.
  • Unemployment is now lower than that of the U.S. in many European countries.
  • There is no evidence to support the ideal that an adequate social safety net encourages the majority of people not to work. However, there is increasing evidence that disillusionment with the U.S. work environment is causing many Americans to drop out of the labor market.
  • Generally speaking, social mobility is higher in Europe than in the U.S.
  • Income equality is significantly lower in Europe than in the U.S. It would be vastly lower if relative prison populations were factored in.
  • The excesses of corporate power, monopolies, and consumerism are reined in—while retaining the advantages of a free market environment.
  • There is abundant evidence that the quality of life in many developed countries (whether in Europe or as far afield as Australia) is higher there than it is currently in the U.S.—as far as most people are concerned.
  • Europeans are better educated, better informed, less politically partisan, eat better, are healthier, are culturally richer, and live longer—by some three to four years—than Americans.

In the face of the totality of such evidence, it strikes me that it is about time Americans started shunning the propaganda of the Right Wing—and moving towards social democracy. It is not a perfect system—there are endless variations and it’s constantly in flux (as is healthy)—but it demonstrably delivers a better quality of life for more people than the alternatives. It also does this while encouraging innovation, creativity in general, the creative arts, the evolution of highly educated populations—and while minimizing poverty and the seemingly inexorable growth of a vast and struggling underclass (which so characterize the U.S. economy).

Right now, both the American Business Model and the American Political Model, are serving most Americans badly. Do the media—largely owned by the super-rich—cover this situation adequately?

Largely—and not surprisingly—the answer is in the negative. Profit dictates catering to our prejudices.


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