Robert Jeffers, posted this piece by Krugman (and Jeffers has the link; my registration was wiped out when I cleared my cookies to be able to logon to First-Draft) yesterday, and predicted it would be all over the blogosphere by today. So here’s a contribution to the spread:
The point is that to the extent that the French have less income than we do, it’s mainly a matter of choice. And to see the consequences of that choice, let’s ask how the situation of a typical middle-class family in France compares with that of its American counterpart.
The French family, without question, has lower disposable income. This translates into lower personal consumption: a smaller car, a smaller house, less eating out.
But there are compensations for this lower level of consumption. Because French schools are good across the country, the French family doesn’t have to worry as much about getting its children into a good school district. Nor does the French family, with guaranteed access to excellent health care, have to worry about losing health insurance or being driven into bankruptcy by medical bills.
Perhaps even more important, however, the members of that French family are compensated for their lower income with much more time together. Fully employed French workers average about seven weeks of paid vacation a year. In America, that figure is less than four.
So which society has made the better choice?
American conservatives despise European welfare states like France. Yet many of them stress the importance of “family values.” And whatever else you may say about French economic policies, they seem extremely supportive of the family as an institution. Senator Rick Santorum, are you reading this?
No wonder the Repugs hate the French – they are proof that taking care of all the citizens of a country makes life in that country easier for the citizens. It has always been one of the chief building blocks of American propaganda that this is the greatest place on earth to live.
I think that it may have been true – at one time. Bush’s America, on the other hand, is turning into an intolerant third world nation, complete with brain drain and decadent ideas that cannot carry this country into the future. We’ve been going backwards now for about 4 years – ever since the reactionary Bush Junta and its minions, the Religious Right, took over, and started yanking the entire country backwards. They have moved us away from science and other intellectual pursuits, diplomacy, and all programs designed to help the less fortunate. If you ain’t a billionaire in Bush’s America, then you ain’t nothing, my friend. And you ain’t going to get nothing, either, even with a great big “R” on your voter registration.