Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How Bad Would European Socialism Really Be?

Perhaps this is heresy to even ask this, but suppose we moved in the direction of greater European-style socialism - how bad would that really be?

According to IMF data for 2009 (available here), GDP per capita for the U.S. and some European countries are as follows (PPP values in parentheses):

1. Luxembourg: $104,512 ($78,395)
2. Norway: $79,085 ($52,561)
3. Switzerland: $67,560 ($43,007)
4. Denmark: $56,115 ($35,757)
5. Ireland: $51,356 ($39,468)
6. Netherlands: $48,223 ($39,938)
7. U.S.A.: $46,381
8. Austria: $45,989 ($38,939(
9. Finland: $44,492 ($33,556)
10. Sweden: $43,986 ($35,965)
11. Belgium: $43,533 ($35,422)
12. France: $42,747 ($33,679)

Maybe another way of looking at this is that free market capitalism is so strong and creates so much wealth, prosperity and abundance, that even European-style socialism isn't enough to really impede the wealth-creating process?  Even with European-style socialism, there are six European countries that have higher per-capita GDP than the U.S. and another five that aren't far behind us (Update: using PPP per-capita GDP above, the comparison changes significantly), so perhaps Jet USA in the cartoon above would fly right through the clouds of European socialism, and barely even slow down?      

Comments welcome. 

64 Comments:

At 7/13/2010 12:47 PM, Blogger bix1951 said...

no comparison
the largest of these countries is Netherlands with fewer than 17 million people.
These little countries are all special situations.
You may as well compare Beverly Hills to California.

 
At 7/13/2010 12:49 PM, Blogger bix1951 said...

countries with higher GDP I mean

 
At 7/13/2010 12:58 PM, Anonymous Steve Olson said...

Could per capita GDP increase? It is possible, but unlikely. The USA has 300 million people, and demographically we are a different animal. What you can be sure of... millions of small businesses, with 1-10 employees would die. In socialist western Europe it is extremely difficult to start a small business as compared to the USA. To survive, most people need to have "jobs" in Western Europe. Here in America millions of people do not have "jobs" to generate income. The simply sell their ideas and services outside the highly regulated "employee" market. IMHO, contrary to what many of my small business friends believe, European style socialism would not result in greater freedom to quit your job and become self-employed. It would result in a permanent obstacle to that path.

 
At 7/13/2010 1:05 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"How Bad Would European Socialism Really Be?"...

Bad!

Really, really bad!

 
At 7/13/2010 1:12 PM, Blogger misterjosh said...

Heretic!!!

When it comes to Euro-Socialism, I don't get the feeling that those countries are the most representative examples.

Luxembourg - too small to really consider
Norway - rich on oil wealth
Switzerland - Are the incomes of the 22% of the population who are resident foreigners counted?
Denmark - ridiculously homogenous

Is Ireland really socialist? How about Netherlands?

You raise a good question. My libertarianism has never really been about utility. I love freedom on a philosophical basis.

 
At 7/13/2010 1:19 PM, Anonymous Thomas said...

Turn the question around: How much better off would socialist countries be if they were less socialist? In other words, the real question is the extent to which government intervention (spending and regulation, together) affects economic well-being, given a nation's other characteristics (natural resources, education, work ethic, openness to foreign trade and investment, etc.).

 
At 7/13/2010 1:20 PM, Blogger vakeraj said...

1. We pay for their defense. American troops protect Europe, South Korea, Taiwan, pretty much the entire world. We spend more on defense than the rest of the world combined. The money they save on (not) paying for a military they then devote towards maintaining their welfare states.

2. America invents the pharmaceutical drugs, sells them at high prices to its citizens (justifiably), but European single-payer systems utilize their monopsonies by purchasing them at below-average prices. We could solve this problem through drug reimportation, leading a collapse in their price controls.

I'm sure there's more I haven't thought of.

If the US were to become socialist, it wouldn't work, because there's no one for us to depend on the way Europeans depend on us. Socialist Europe NEEDS a capitalist USA to free-ride off of and defend it.

 
At 7/13/2010 1:26 PM, Anonymous morganovich said...

these league tables look a bit different under purchasing power parity.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28PPP%29_per_capita

luxembourg is just a tax haven for the ulta wealthy. norway and denmark have tiny populations and vast resource wealth.

ireland has both resource wealth with a small population and is ranked amoung the most economically free countries in the world.

the netherlands are also a very open economy in which the role of government has been shrinking.

also note that none of these countries has anything like our population growth and the influx of poor immigrants that drives down our per capita GDP.

take out first generation immigrants, and our numbers crush those of europe.

also note that 2009 is the period in which you would expect the US with its more limited safety net and greater employment fluctuations to look worst against the european countries.

in 2007, the Netherlands were $32 vs $44k in the US. denmark was $37k. a country like france was $31k, nearly 1/3 less than the US. (germany was barely better at $32k)

THAT is the price of socialism.

comparing small, resource rich socialist sates with no immigration to the US is not a great comparison. it is the resource wealth that makes the socialism possible, not the socialism that creates wealth.

 
At 7/13/2010 1:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vakeraj is right about the defense costs. Also, those countries are small and homogenous in their cultures.
Mr. Josh is also right on with his libertarianism for its own sake.

 
At 7/13/2010 2:00 PM, Blogger QT said...

Another aspect to consider is transportation infrastructure required by a country the size of the US which is phenominal compared with these miniscule European nations.

Reminds one of the shock that the first accurate maps of France created. Map makers revealed that France was 1/3 smaller than previous maps had indicated to the horror of the government.

 
At 7/13/2010 2:01 PM, Anonymous Benny The Man said...

What's more, I think the Europeans are even better off than these numbers suggest.

They spend far lower amounts per capita on health care, but get about the same results. They also use about half the BTUs (energy) we do, but are not freezing or starving.

They also get six weeks off a year.

The USA, hobbled by a rural welfare class and a coprolitic/parasitic military, is falling behind the world.

Thank the Republican Party--you are falling behind even socialized Europe.

 
At 7/13/2010 2:09 PM, Blogger QT said...

Juandos,

Thanks for highlighting the VAT. Chances are pretty good that Obama is going to try to foist that one off on the U.S.

For anyone feeling sentimental about Europe, consider tax freedom day. Sweden's, for example, is Aug. 4.

 
At 7/13/2010 2:11 PM, Anonymous ChrisJ said...

The US dollar has appreciated 13.7% since the end of 2009 against the Euro, that immediately takes the US above the Netherlands and Ireland (which would now be lower anyhow given its 'growth' rate). Note how of the four remaining countries three are either not in the EU at all (Norway, Switzerland) or are outside the Eurozone (Denmark).

Issues such as PPP and small countries with resource wealth have already been picked over. You need to take a look at Germany, Britain and France on a PPP basis for a better comparison. Britain is an especially pertinent case since the rise in its socialist status over the past 15 years (government spending has risen from 38% of GDP to 52% in that time) will be a good barometer of where a socialist America would be heading.

PS. as an investor my biggest worry long-term is the assumption of the stellar 20th century growth rates going forward and that being priced into stocks. I personally don't see the feasibility of a booming economy given the road the political classes are going down. (the Credit Suisse Investment Returns Yearbook gives details of how good US market returns were in the past century compared with most other world markets, it's freely available: http://tinyurl.com/DMS2010 )

 
At 7/13/2010 2:16 PM, Blogger QT said...

Benny,

If you think that subsidies are higher in the U.S. than in Europe, guess again. The average European cow receives more in subsidies than the nearly three billion
people who live on less than two dollars a day
.

 
At 7/13/2010 2:54 PM, Blogger Paul said...

"Thank the Republican Party--you are falling behind even socialized Europe."

Wow, Benji makes a statement like this as his socialist boyfriend Barack swings his economic wrecking ball.

"They also use about half the BTUs (energy) we do, but are not freezing or starving."

Freezing or starving? Don't set the bar too high, Benji!

 
At 7/13/2010 3:27 PM, Blogger Bill said...

QT: Please don't confuse Benny with the facts. He is so smug in his fallacious little belief system that it may crush him.

 
At 7/13/2010 3:37 PM, Blogger Emil Perhinschi said...

How many of those countries are fiscal heavens ?

 
At 7/13/2010 4:17 PM, Blogger Audacity17 said...

It doesn't matter what you earn. It matters what you can afford to buy. We are way ahead the euro weenies.

 
At 7/13/2010 4:23 PM, Anonymous Benny The MAn said...

I have been knocked because I say that US domestcis spending gets about 10 cents of value on the dollar, and overseas-military spending about 1 cent.

I should have been knocked. IN fact, much of our overseas spending is actually counter-rpoductive, costing us even more.

Take a gander of the cover of the WSJ today. Not a leftie pub. We spent $100 million of your taxes to rebuild a power plant in narco-heaven, Afghanistan.

The recenues from the plant will go to the Taliban. You read that right.

Really, if we wiped out the USDA, and cut the DoD down to submarines and few missiles and bombers, would we be anything except a lot better off?

Or, would the world come to end? Would corn farmers give up? Would somebody invade us?

You guys are little catamites for the R-Partty.

 
At 7/13/2010 4:52 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 7/13/2010 5:00 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 7/13/2010 5:34 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

There's a different mix of output and income between Europe and the U.S.

Europe may spend more on public goods (or state goods) than private goods, and given Europe has over 2,000 years of accumulated wealth, more of its income may be interest income.

 
At 7/13/2010 6:45 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

If the Europeans are doing so well, why do they live in (much) smaller houses (even much smaller than Canadian houses), drive small autos (or ride bicycles), and have so few shopping malls?

Because of all those great social services managed by government bureaucracies?

 
At 7/13/2010 6:45 PM, Blogger Smoky Mountain Hiker said...

The real comparison should be disposable income. Right?

Since most, if not all of those European countries have lower corporate taxes, those countries must rely on personal income taxes. Therefore, I think it's very possible that their disposable incomes are lower than ours.

I would also make the second point that the USA is definitely not a free market capitalist country anymore. You can argue as to where the US is on the economic continuum versus Europe - especially given the high corporate tax structure we have.

 
At 7/13/2010 7:49 PM, Blogger Paul said...

"I have been knocked because I say that US domestcis spending gets about 10 cents of value on the dollar,"

Follow current events much, Benji? Your boyfriend and the Democrats run everything.

"You guys are little catamites for the R-Partty."

Yet again with "catamite?" I think Benji got to the "c" section of his Word of the Day toilet roll.

 
At 7/13/2010 7:53 PM, Anonymous Jeff said...

QT,

Another aspect to consider is transportation infrastructure required by a country the size of the US which is phenominal compared with these miniscule European nations.

America might be a big country, but you have to remember this is the land that once revolutionized rail transpiration to a grand scale. Our rail system was the envy of the world 60 years ago and even before WWII; LA once had an extensive street car system.

This changed starting in the '50s, when the federal government opted to expand the road system - particularly through the construction of the Interstate Highway System; and along with affordable homes, people moved out of the cities into the suburbs, and thus the wide convenience of automobiles became the preferred method of transportation. In fact, electrification of rail routes was going well in this country until the perks of automobiles and the trucking industry came along, and gutted efforts.

Despite America's rail transit system being the butt of jokes of other developed nations, we remain the world leader of freight transported by rail. Ironically, Europe is more dependent on trucking for transportation of freight (thought they ship a large portion of their goods by cargo ship, the most fuel-efficient method available).

What I find interesting in America today, is, that while the 'white fight' to the suburbs made the car popular in its day, today we're experiencing a fair number of young and educated professionals (Gen Y and Xers) - people who grew up in the suburbs - instead opt for inner urban cities. Some suburbs are increasingly becoming homes for the poor; this is evidenced by numerous suburbs' increased poverty rate as of late.

 
At 7/13/2010 7:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If the US were to become socialist, it wouldn't work, because there's no one for us to depend on the way Europeans depend on us. Socialist Europe NEEDS a capitalist USA to free-ride off of and defend it."

Obama a socialist? That Wall Street choir boy who kissed ass to the pharmaceutical industry? - don't count on it. People can gripe about Obamacare, but the insurance mandate that's the centerpiece of its function was originally a Republican idea dating back to Nixon. In fact, the Heritage Foundation was pushing for it in the '90s.

 
At 7/13/2010 9:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We just don't have the money to be socialist, even if anyone wanted to make us that way. Especially now, when it is becoming harder for any country to remain socialist.

 
At 7/13/2010 9:09 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"I have been knocked because I say that US domestcis spending gets about 10 cents of value on the dollar, and overseas-military spending about 1 cent"...

No delusional pseudo benny, that's not why you're being 'knocked'...

You're clueless, factless comments are the reason and the fact that you deliver them with an excessive amount of hubris can be really irritating...

 
At 7/13/2010 9:20 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

The real name for the War on Terror should be "The War on Your Pocketbooks."

Keep voting your money away, Paul.

And, yes, Obama is making a rather large-sized error in pursuing futility in Afghanistan--as noted by Michael Steele of all people.

You really got to read the cover story in the WSJ today--your tax-dollars building a $100 million power plant in Afghanistan, and the revenues from the plant go to the Taliban.

The War of Terror will end up costing us $3 trillion, according to the CBO. Oh well, we just pay more taxes--fine and dandy, no? You don't mind.

You wonder why Europeans and Asians are passing us by?

 
At 7/13/2010 10:04 PM, Blogger moneybagzz said...

Just my two cents, but the underlying theme behind Socialism, specifically
European Welfare State Socialism, is the subjects' ability to vote for themselves a larger share of others' (preferably WEALTHIER others) income and assets.


The Europeans did not land astronauts on the moon and return them safely; the Welfare
State did not develop and commercialize the Internet (though the US Government played
a large part, mainly for national defense concerns); The National Health Service did not produce drugs such as Valtrex, Glucophage, Lipitor, Plavix, Remicade, Enbrel, Aranesp, and countless others on which people rely EVERY DAY for improved lives; and, perhaps most importantly, Western Europe did NONE of the heavy lifting to topple the Soviet Union.


A Socialist tilt in American politics is not impossible, but the consequences are by no
measure a walk in the park. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are devastating the
budget, and the common thread among those three programs is the act of one group of people
(seniors and those at the lowest of the income scale) voting for themselves the earnings of
another group (people who work for a living, whether it is package delivery or brain surgery).


Comparing the United States to other nations glosses over key differences; the populations
of Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands COMBINED
do not reach the population of the USA (total for the Euro-Five is about 38.6 million, which
is roughly the population of California).


None of them pay anything close to what the USA pays to keep the world safe. Do Norwgian and
Danish Navy vessels patrol the Persian Gulf? Do their submarines keep Taiwan safe from the predations of Communist China (thus keeping the world supply of laptops safe)?

Do their combined Air Forces (active and reserve) hold even a candle to the long-range war
fighting capabilities of the US Air Force (not even counting the air arms of the Navy and Marine Corps)?

In conclusion, the measure of a nation is not where it lies in an arbitrary ranking but in the
ability of its citizens to exercise their inalienable natural rights, and how its government protects those rights (see the US Constitution).

 
At 7/13/2010 10:04 PM, Blogger moneybagzz said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 7/13/2010 11:28 PM, Blogger juandos said...

pseudo benny's boyfriend takes another hit from the American Spectator:

The Rout of Obamanomics

By Peter Ferrara on 7.7.10

'But the June unemployment report released last Friday shows an economy doing much worse at this point than even I expected. More than 30 months after the official start of the recession, the economy is still losing jobs, with non-farm payroll employment declining by 125,000 jobs in June. A total of 652,000 workers fled the workforce in June, and therefore were no longer counted as unemployed, which is why the unemployment rate fell from 9.7% to 9.5%. That follows 322,000 who dropped out of the workforce in May, for a total of nearly a million workers dropping out of the labor force in the last two months alone. If those million workers had remained in the workforce looking for work, the unemployment rate would be 10.1%.'...

 
At 7/14/2010 2:40 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Here's what someone wrote about Denmark (which is #4 on the list) in Nov '07:

The Nordic Countries "success story" economies are a joke. I've been living here last couple of years after being dragged here by my wife, and trying to run your business here is tough. It just isn't a business friendly place at all. taxes in Denmark are 60-odd% as soon as you have the cheek to earn more than £35,000 a year!

My guess is that 50-70% of the population are in government jobs, and they rely heavily on exports of oil, timber and fish in order to generate the foreign earnings to pay for it all.

 
At 7/14/2010 2:59 AM, Blogger Jet Beagle said...

moneybagzz: "the Welfare
State did not develop and commercialize the Internet (though the US Government played
a large part, mainly for national defense concerns);"


The role of U.S. Dept of Defense in the origins of the internet is sharply by our leftist media. ARPANET was not an internet, but merely a packet-switched network. It was not the first and certainly not the only packet-switched network developed in the late '60s.

ARPANET was not a means for people to communicate over long distances, but rather a means for defense research at universities to timeshare computer power.

ARPANET was certainly not a "network of networks" - a means of interconnecting multiple networks of different types.

It is convenient for leftists to credit government defense spending for the development of the internet. It plays right into their central planning mindset. What you do not hear from leftists is that private corporation AT&T developed digital switched networks in 1962, seven years before ARPANET. They do not remind us that Bell Labs, not the Department of Defense, developed the C programming language, UNIX operating system, and UUCP (UNIX-to-UNIX Copy). Leftists often argue that ARPANET paved the way for today's internet, ignoring the two decades of private development which were required after ARPANET.

 
At 7/14/2010 3:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This has been a great site. Start promoting socialism and adios.

Socialism is just the first step towards communism away from capitalism.

 
At 7/14/2010 3:01 AM, Blogger Jet Beagle said...

correction to last post:

"The role of U.S. Dept of Defense in the origins of the internet is greatly exaggerated by our leftist media."

 
At 7/14/2010 3:54 AM, Anonymous A 5th Grader said...

If the Europeans are doing so well, why do they live in (much) smaller houses (even much smaller than Canadian houses), drive small autos (or ride bicycles), and have so few shopping malls?

************************

Are you smarter tha a 5th grade geography student.

Remember everything is big in Texas. including the amount of land.

 
At 7/14/2010 8:23 AM, Blogger rob said...

To say Per Cap GDP is a good measurement of prosperity is like saying the BLS has its act together and never misleads people intentionally or otherwise. We know the G part of the GDP is insane. Heck any country can spend its self into the top with government spending but is that accurate. Good point on the size of these small countries, no comparison here is fair. Many other variables should be included, Life Exp, Infant mortality, Crime rate, truce inflation and unemployment numbers we are long overdue for new stats on measuring prosperity and the last thing we need is the state doing it or the state ran diploma mills with their tax grants either

 
At 7/14/2010 8:46 AM, Anonymous JBH said...

Can you feel comfortable comparing socialistic nations and the US on a per capita GDP when there is such a large interdependency shown by those countries on the US?

GDP appears to me to be an inadequate measure as we have seen with Greece experiencing a significant decline in GDP due to the instability of their socialistic programs (circle of dependency). Stability of the system needs to be taken into account rather than depending on one gross measure of success.

How about on other measures? new business formation, income mobility, rigidity of racial segmentation, basic need spending as percent of income, etc?

Socialism appears to be less an economic principle and more a economic argument for political control.

 
At 7/14/2010 8:48 AM, Blogger Tom said...

The question probably seemed rational until purchasing power parity was used to see the true comparison. Socialism is a disaster. The three top Euro nations are all special situations of wealth, not the least bit representative of Europe.

Socialism sucks.

 
At 7/14/2010 12:01 PM, Blogger Marko said...

A better comparison may be the U.S. per captita GDP (PPP) to the E.U. The U.S. is much much higher on that list. see https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2004rank.html?countryName=European%20Union&countryCode=ee&regionCode=eu&rank=42#ee

For some of these small countries, compare them to Northern Virginia, or New York metro area.

 
At 7/14/2010 12:05 PM, Blogger Marko said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 7/14/2010 12:06 PM, Blogger Marko said...

Might as well ask "How bad would being a slave really be?" and then point to a few slaves that were treated well.

Yuck.

Rand Paul style disclaimer: Please note I am completely against slavery in any form for anyone.

 
At 7/14/2010 12:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Socialism is just the first step towards communism away from capitalism."

Yup, a 3% tax increase for the rich is a step towards communism - just like what we experienced in the '90s when it fulfilled Newt Gingrich's prophecy that it would bring a recession: "Three hundred billion in new taxes s going to shrink the economy, put people out of work, lower tax revenues."

I remembered those gulags in the '90s; I'm looking for books about the prison isolation camps in Alaska, plus the child labor we had in this country when the top income tax rate was over 70% in the '60s, over 90% in the '50s (under a Republican president who was a war hero!)

Don't listen to the history revisionists: Alexander Hamilton would kick Milton Friedman's ass on the issue of tariffs. Just ask Toyota: they were glad the Japanese government didn't listen to someone like Milton in the '30s on issues of protective tariffs.

 
At 7/14/2010 12:22 PM, Blogger Paul said...

Benji/Anonymous,

Looks like you're officially off the Milton Friedman bandwagon. Does that apply only to you, or can the rest of us occasionally deviate from his holy writ?

Tarriffs? A tarriff is a subsidy. Hypocrite.

 
At 7/14/2010 12:42 PM, Anonymous Canadian said...

To answer Rob who says: "we are long overdue for new stats on measuring prosperity"....we have one, it's called the HDI Index... it's been published every year for the last TWENTY years!!! and exactly for the reasons you state.

In the 2010 edition the US ranks 10th (an improvement of three places from last year). While being in the top ten should be a cause for celebration, I bet most posters here will probably trash countries one through 9, question the sexual orientation of the researchers who work on it and start a brand new rant about the UN that started the annual HDI index in 1990.

Not EVERYTHING is a football game guys.

 
At 7/14/2010 2:54 PM, Blogger Tom said...

The purchasing power in Norway might not be accurately portrayed. A Big Mac costs $6.87 in Norway, and averages $3.58 in the US. This after looking at the "Big Mac Index"

http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php?Article_ID=19577

 
At 7/14/2010 3:24 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Yup, a 3% tax increase for the rich is a step towards communism"...

Yet another applauder for punishing the rich!

What's YOUR rationale for why someone who earns more money than you should have to pay even one more penny than you do to the federal and state governments?

 
At 7/14/2010 5:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Yet another applauder for punishing the rich!"

Boo-hoo-hoo, one less ivory back scatcher!

"What's YOUR rationale for why someone who earns more money than you should have to pay even one more penny than you do to the federal and state governments?"

Oh, I don't think there's too much you need to worry about... Besides, how content are you to have Warren Buffet's income taxed at a lower percentage than yours?

Hey, if you're content with seeing your roads crumble so Daddy Warbucks can zip to the Bahamas in his private jet, it's your shocks, not mine.

As far as I'm concerned, if you don't think this "mumbo jumbo" doesn't fly, maybe you should do your dissertation on why the post-WWII programs for war vets - education, jobs, housing, etc. - was a disaster. What do you think the "Greatest Generation" will say about that, sport?

 
At 7/14/2010 8:33 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Besides, how content are you to have Warren Buffet's income taxed at a lower percentage than yours?"...

I have NO problem with what Buffet pays or doesn't pay even though he was whining foolishly about it as your link reaffirmed...

I in fact applaud everyone who can find ways to get over on the state or federal government...

Maybe Buffet has joined these silly loons so they all can sit around and brag to each other about how they wasted some of the wealth they earned on the federal government...

From the American Chronicle: Rich Liberals are Welcome to Pay the Higher Taxes of Their Dreams

I wonder if the silly loons supported this bill: H.R. 87: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is Act of 2009?

BTW thanks for your links...

 
At 7/14/2010 9:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The US is effectively a socialist country already, just with different expenditures.

We're focusing our spending on discovering WMDs in 2nd and 3rd world countries.

Still, it's the same - the majority voting themselves a larger share of everyones profit to further what they perceive as their most important priority (in our case: security from foreign threats; in the case of European Socialist states, it's typical security in the sense of welfare and healthcare).

 
At 7/14/2010 10:35 PM, Anonymous Rick said...

As an American who lived in Denmark for 6 yrs I can easily say that these numbers don't reflect reality. In Denmark the top tax rate is 67% combined with a VAT of 25% which is added to everything including utility costs making those the highest in Europe. My peers were all similiarly educated professionals who lived about like I did right out of college.

Everyone drives a small car if they drive at all because extra taxes that add to over 200% are added to the new car price.

Nice place but not one you choose if you want to enrich your bank account

 
At 7/15/2010 8:14 AM, Blogger ruddyturnstone said...

These European countries are not "socialist." I'm not surprized to hear that term misused in the context of partisan politics, but one would think an economics professor could do better. The European countries, by and large, are captialist with a varying degree of social democracy. Like the US, but more so. Cuba is, arguably at least, socialist. So was the old USSR. But not Luxembourg. I'm sure there are quite a few Swiss and Luxembourger bankers who would be quite surprize to learn that they were living in "socialist" countries.

Really, in Western Europe, "socialism" as even a goal of the competitive, mainstream left parties has long since been mothballed. Politics in Europe is pretty much fought out on a small playing field: how much social democracy should there be in a country that is basically capitalist. Which is actually not that far from what politics is really about in the US, once the sloganeering about "socialism" and such is put aside and the real work begins.

Why the need to put things in these exagerated terms?

 
At 7/15/2010 8:49 AM, Blogger Bill Reeves said...

1. Why would anyone ever show a league table between 'pocket countries' and a Continent (the US)? There are 100 populous counties in America that kick everone's tail.
2. Easier to get and stay rich when somebody else pays all the the global defense and security tab.
3. GDP is heavily reliant of technology advances to grow. Innovation tends to come from the US.
4. The list of the richest Countries in Europe happens to coincide with those containing the most US multinationals.
5. All of these countries have significantly older and whiter populations. Adjusting the numbers for Demographics radically changes. Swedish snob: In Sweden we have no poverty". Milton Friedman: "That's interesting because in the US we have no poverty among those of Swedish descent"
6. Global league tables almost ALWAYS seek to 'put the US in their place' - but the US is the only citizenry who couldn't care less. We benchmark ourselves via states because there are no comparables to the US.

 
At 7/15/2010 8:59 AM, Blogger Bill Reeves said...

Canadian:
Re: HDI

Hmm, who would be at the top of that league table?

The problem is this: it is almost impossible to really understand the Western European and particularly Canadian achievements independent of their relationship with the US. Economists say that the American Colonies pre 1776 were the richest place in the world but until we became truly independent, our prosperity was heavily dependent on the British Empire's sacrifices. The same holds true today. That's why the Aglosphere needs to stick together.

 
At 7/15/2010 11:51 AM, Anonymous Gringo said...

From the Timbro Institute (page 23) :

Dwelling space per person, square feet
Europe, average 396
US , poor households 439
US, all households 721

Denmark is the highest European country with 558 sf/person.
Say no more.

 
At 7/15/2010 2:51 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"These European countries are not "socialist.""...

Is that you Paul Krugman?

 
At 7/15/2010 4:11 PM, Blogger ruddyturnstone said...

These European countries are not "socialist.""...

Is that you Paul Krugman?

Um, no. But, it seems to me, that a socialist country would not be one in which privately owned companies were the norm, which had stock exchanges and other investment markets, in which people often owned their own homes, in which private business corporations not only existed, but were powerful and were run according to the typical shareholder/BOD/management system, in which the workers did not own the means of production, in which one of the two major parties or coaltions of parties (and in many cases, the dominant one) was an explicitly bourgeois party running on a platform of bourgeois values, and even themore left of the two main parties or party groups did not advocate major changes in any of the above, in which further privatization was, at the least, always on the table, and so on.

Other than childish sniping, do you actually have anything to say?

Do you really think Switzerland is a socialist country? If Paul Krugman said that the capitol of New York State was Albany, would that mean it isn't?

 
At 7/16/2010 12:39 AM, Blogger Marko said...

If your definition of socialism is 100% government ownership of the means of production, then maybe you are right that none of the states of Europe are socialist. All this shows is that your definition is too restrictive to be useful and doesn't reflect the current debate.

Certainly both the U.S. and the states of Europe have mixed economies - partial state ownership of industries and partial private ownership. State regulation can also be considered socialist without being actual ownership.

So it is obviously a scale rather than either or. Duh. Is that your only point? Obviously we are less socialist than the states of Europe, and most other states in the world. Clearly we are increasing government ownership of the means of production in the U.S. (automobile manufacturing, insurance, banking) and also significantly increase state regulation of industry (fed-req, health care deform, credit reform, coming oil industry regulations). The question at hand is would we be better off going further in this direction.

The answer is no. If you don't see that intuitively based on the experience of the world for the last 100 years, then I can't help you.

 
At 7/16/2010 1:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Socialism is not the relevant concept for what we are dealing with. Obama and the dims and the center for american progress intend to radically restructure ownership in America and achieve a 100+ year rule.

Redistribution of our lifestyle around the planet is a goal. What is left will be deconstructed to about venezuela.

Soros OSI wants our military deconstructed to a point we need others to protect our sovereignty and let the rest of the planet run wild.

The security of the bond market was trashed as soon as he came in with the seizure of C and GM including giving part of C to an Italian "organized" company and strong union.

SEIU running health care from the med school to the clinics and docs reporting to community organizations is the goal. Obama said he was going to paint the USA SEIU purple, where is stern?

The financial reform act will drive us closer to poverty. The EOC has been greatly empowered and will slow GDP growth.

Berwick is a disaster.


After the revolution we need to burn haarrvard law down and outlaw any grad from haarrard, yale, etc from working in the govt. Private industry only.

We need new words for these commies or whatever they are.

 
At 7/16/2010 2:00 AM, Blogger ruddyturnstone said...

"Certainly both the U.S. and the states of Europe have mixed economies - partial state ownership of industries and partial private ownership."

Exactly. So while label either one as "socialist?"

"So it is obviously a scale rather than either or. Duh. Is that your only point?"

Basically, but not entirely. IMHO, setting up a debate using terms that are not only inaccurate, but are chosen for their "hot button" effect tends to make for a less interesting, and more strident, discussion. If the debate was framed in terms of what mix of public ownership, private ownership, and regulation is optimal, then, I think, it would be more likely to be thoughtful. If it is framed in terms of whether we should be like those "European Socialists" it tends to be idealogical. In other words, doing it the one way is more likely to shed light, while doing it the other is more likely to generate heat.

A college economics professor should know this as a matter of pedagogy. Not to mention he should be embarassed by using an economics term inaccurately.

 
At 7/16/2010 8:38 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"If Paul Krugman said that the capitol of New York State was Albany, would that mean it isn't?"...

No that would mean that either someone clued Krugman in or he made a very lucky guess...

 
At 7/16/2010 9:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Socialism is not the relevant concept for what we are dealing with. Obama and the dims and the center for American progress intend to radically restructure ownership in America and achieve a 100+ year rule.

Redistribution of our lifestyle around the planet is a goal. What is left will be deconstructed to about Venezuela."


Oh, please!!! Cry in your fucking bear, will ya? Exactly what previous examples are you comparing Obama to - FDR's bank and employment regulations, his work with SSI; Teddy Roosevelt busting up Standard Oil; LBJ's civil rights push, his work with Medicare and Medicaid, the War Against Poverty? How about this one: a 91% tax rate on the wealthiest citizens in this country during the '50s, conducted under a Republican president - a war hero, for crying out loud!! (Google Ike, man).

No, if you're going to complain about Obama, there's worthwhile material: the fact he's continued Bush's failed wars; the fact he didn't go far enough with financial regulation (though Wall Street lobbyists yanking a herd of Repubs, and some Dems didn't help); that he kissed up to Big Pharma with his health care legislation. There's defiantly material to complain about.

But the "Road down to Venezuela's Perdition?" A 3% tax increase on the rich isn't going to achieve that; it didn't during the '90s. It's best you stop listening to Glenn Beck or Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, or whatever idiot whose currently saying "This is the same thing Nazi Germany went through!" Not the exact same quote, mind you, but this EXACT comparison has been made in the mentioned circle - I kid you not.

 

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