Originally Posted by pesto
Lots of interesting issues here. A few comments:
First, a lot of what passes for a car in Spain and Italy (and Paris) would be closer to a "golf cart" in the US. And it's true that Mercedes in Germany are stripped down and not consistent with US branding.
One troubling aspect is the smart-aleck tone. So now we are questioning the American economic system because we don't have enough cars? I know that there are groups that can't wait to criticize Americans, but this seems a bit much. How about an article with the tone "Americans moving to fewer cars and more transit"?
Tacitly, this article assumes (acknowledges?) that fewer cars and more transit is a sign of an economy with poorer people. This is something rarely admitted when talking about Europe, where, in effect, people are disproportionately lower middle-class, based on expendable income. Without getting into causes, as the US becomes more like Europe, you would expect a general decline in the upper middle-class and their adoption of the more limited economic world-view and spending habits of those without money (fewer cars, vacation homes, motorcylces, boats, etc.).
What is really going on is that top doctors, dentists, small business owners, athletes, lawyers, corporate execs and entertainers (the 1 million "1 percenter" families in the US) are doing OK and much of the rest of the middle class is being converted into lower-middle class. Blame taxes, regulations, out-sourcing, corporate restructuring, welfare, minimum wages or whatever; they're just different words for the same set of policies).
I would guess that there will be some resistance to this, but that eventually the US will accept the same slower growth that Europe has grown to accept.
Please limit the hate mail.
I know this is a major right-wing talking point, but is it true? Is "Europe" much poorer than America? Is "Europe" doing much worse? One problem with this narrative that jumps out at me is lumping Europe together as if it is one unit. Right wing Americans and left wing Europeans both like to do this, for obviously different reasons. But while Italy, Spain, Greece, Ireland, are doing very badly, Germany for instance is doing quite well. So which Europe is Europe? Do you look at the average for the Eurozone or the EU? If so, why? Why not look at Germany as Germany, and Spain as Spain? Kind of how we don't lump Mexico and the US together, even though they are both part of a continent-wide free trade zone.
But separating Germany (or Holland, or Scandinavia) from Southern Europe complicates things for American conservatives. Northern Europe has not been doing measurably worse than the US over the last 10 or 20 years. And Northern Europe is arguably even more socialist than Southern Europe. So the socialist = stagnation & irrelevance meme breaks down.
Even the problems that Southern Europe is having now, have very little to do with socialism, and a lot to do with flaws inherent in the Euro, independent of left-wing or right-wing national governments.