01 Dec

Why Europeans Think We’re Insane

Michael Moore interviews Tony Benn about America’s indebtedness.

(Full Video Transcript)

“I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world. Far more revolutionary than socialist ideas or anybody else’s idea because if you have power you use it to meet the needs of you and your community. And this idea of choice which capital talks about all the time you’ve got to have a choice, choice depends on the freedom to choose and if you’re shackled with debt you don’t have the freedom to choose. People in debt become hopeless and hopeless people don’t vote. They always say that that everyone should vote but I think that if the poor in Britain or the United States turned out and voted for people who represented their interests it would be a real democratic revolution; and so they don’t want it to happen so keeping people hopeless and pessimistic.

See I think there are two ways in which people are controlled. First of all frighten people and secondly, demoralize them. An educated, healthy and confident nation is harder to govern, and I think there’s an element in the thinking of some people; we don’t want people to be educated, healthy and confident because they would get out of control. The top 1% of the world’s population owns 80% of the worlds wealth its incredible that people put up with it. But their poor, their demoralized, their frightened and therefore they think perhaps the safest thing to do is to take orders and hope for the best.”
– Tony Benn, former British politician


Why Europeans Think We’re Insane

By Democrats Ramshield, Daily Kos
Posted on December 1, 2010, Printed on December 1, 2010


(Written by an American expat living in the European Union).

It wasn’t until I left America that I started to realize how badly the American plutocrat owned media lies to the American people through its disinformation campaign.

Well today for a span of at least this one Daily Kos diary, you will get to see what the American plutocrat owned media never wants you to see, and that is how Europe in particular and the world in general has come to see America as a country in decline, whose people are so badly misinformed by the media, they actually don’t realize that America is the only major industrialized nation in the world that by right of law does not offer universal medical access, paid sick leave, paid maternity leave and paid annual leave. It just seems almost impossible to get that word out to the American people. Even diaries on that subject at the Kos top out at just over 2,000 views. Let’s please remember the purpose of the plutocrat owned commercial media isn’t so much to inform us but rather to sell commercial advertising space.

Therefore this diary today will try to do something different. It will show you what the European media is saying about the American dream and you will be shocked!

Here the British Guardian newspaper says that the so-called American middle class lifestyle for most people was fake and that was financed by three decades of a debt bubble which has now gone bust. The credit ride of working class folks living a middle class lifestyle is dead and gone. Is this article stating bluntly that it’s over? The only remaining question is, will it ever come back? I mean, how long can people ride a wave of endless debt before the ride is over, all while pretending to be middle class? Is that what this British Guardian newspaper article is saying? Well, to that end I offer the quote below and a link to the full article. Please read it and decide for yourself what it says.

( America’s new poor: the end of the middle-class dream
America’s middle class is disappearing. A lifestyle sustained for 30 years by rising debt is dissolving as the credit dries up. And the question beyond the crisis is: can it ever come back?
In the midterm elections politicians have promised to “do something” for the middle class. The kindest thing they could do is tell the truth: Americans have been living a middle-class lifestyle on working-class wages – and bridging the gap with credit.
And it’s over.

In a free-market society the real middle class is always a minority: if your street has a gate and a security camera at the end of it then you are middle class. A real middle-class kid can afford a college education, not a web-based degree. The real middle-class family does not skip meals or find its automobiles trapped in the repair shop because of unpaid bills.…

This article below declares the American dream is withering away and talks about the use of food stamps in America which is growing. To which we should note that no country in the European Union uses food stamps to humiliate its poor in the grocery checkout line.

(International Business Times) – ‘American Dream’ withers as tent cities mushroom in promised land
By Jijo Jacob | November 21, 2010
The nation that once gloated over its ability to feed the entire world is seeing an explosion of poverty: The number of people surviving on food stamps is rising as biting unemployment refuses to abate, personal incomes have been falling while the debt bubble is inflating with each passing day and, in a more startling representation of the grim reality, tent cities are mushrooming as more and more people are pushed out of their ‘underwater’ homes.…

Did you know that while 50 million Americans go hungry, the corporatist fatcats are paying themselves ever larger salaries? Shocked Europeans looking over seeing 50 million hungry Americans, the Europeans can’t understand how America could let this happen to its own people.

(Daily – America starves as executive pay rockets:
50MILLION people go hungry while Wall Street fatcats take home millions

By Daniel Bates
16th November 2010

A record one in six American families went hungry last year because they did not have enough food, a shock survey has revealed.

Some 17.4million U.S. households – 50 million people – were classified as ‘food insecure’ which meant they regularly skipped meals even if they wanted to eat. Others went for entire days without eating and handed round smaller portion sizes to make their meagre offerings suffice.

The news comes as it is revealed that top U.S. executives saw their pay and bonuses shoot up last year in the face of the worst recession for 80 years.

The article below is from the British Guardian newspaper which asks, why do working class Americans keep electing millionaires to represent them in the Congress, and then proposes radically ‘why not elect some poor working stiffs to Congress instead? At least maybe those people could identify with their lives, needs and working class values instead of electing millionaires to Congress, who cannot identify with their working class constituent’s needs, because they live in the millionaire’s bubble.

( – US Congress aka the millionaires’ club

No wonder the DC political class has a bad name – it’s filthy rich. Here’s a revolutionary idea: why not elect some poor people? It is one of the great moans of vast numbers of American voters: Washington politicians are just not like them. They are different. They are a breed apart, unable to understand what real life is like for tens of millions of ordinary folks.
No wonder America’s body politic can seem to be a little slow when it comes to reflecting the day-to-day concerns of many Americans. No wonder it is currently obsessed with working out a way to keep President George W Bush’s tax cuts for the rich in place. No wonder it is seemingly willing to let slide vital unemployment benefits for millions of Americans who are now entering the ranks of the long-term jobless. No wonder it is keen to bail out the financial industry and keep bankers cashing their bonus cheques, even as it shrugs its shoulders at creating jobs for those outside the vaulted halls of the finance industry.


Did you know that the British Telegraph newspaper says America has the least generous unemployment system? Let’s consider that in Britain, their unemployment benefits never run out. Another example is in Germany, when your unemployment benefits ran out, you get unemployment assistance called HartzIV and it also never runs out. Under HartzIV, while unemployment, their people still get medical coverage. Why do the unemployed all over the European Union get medical coverage and the unemployed in America don’t? Why is that? More over, why isn’t the mainstream American media telling you this? Because most people in America don’t know this. I mean, why are you having to read about this on a Daily Kos blog? Is journalism in America dead?

( America: the least generous unemployment system in the world
How is it that the American economy manages year-in-year-out to outperform its European neighbours in economic terms? There is no simple answer, of course, but this chart might hold some of the clues. It shows the comparative generosity of long-term unemployment benefits around the world – and guess who is right at the very bottom?

This is the carrot-and-stick method of galvanising your population: work hard and you can make millions; don’t work and you’re in real trouble. If you were after some evidence of how the US has managed to enshrine hard-working values in its citizens, this chart is probably a good place to start. And these figures matter.…

In my experience as an American expat living in the European Union, the uniform response of Europeans seems to be shock at the fact that Americans while unemployed have no medical insurance. This fact almost never appears in the American plutocrat owned media, except in very forgettable sound bites.

The United States of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy
Author: T.R. REID

Chapter 6 The European Social Model (p. 148 – 149)
The helping hand of the social model is particularly evident when a worker becomes unemployed. Americans on the unemployment rolls tend to get a monthly government check, together with help in buying food and paying heat and light bills. At some level, when his savings fall low enough, an American worker may also apply for free government-supplied health care through Medicaid. In Europe, by contrast, a worker is “made redundant”- that’s the brutal British term for being laid off – will get a housing benefit, a heat and light benefit, a food benefit, a child care benefit, a monthly unemployment payment that is almost always higher than the American standard.

The European, of course, will have the same access as everybody else to the public health care system. The American system, in which you lose your health insurance when you lose your job, strikes Europeans as exactly backward. “I don’t understand your approach to health,” a junior minister in Sweden’s health department told me once. “It seems to me that your country takes away the insurance when people most need it.”

The chart below which the Telegraph is referring to shows America ranking last in terms of unemployment benefits.

“In the United States, the figure varies from state to state, but overall a couple with two children and an income a little below average will have about 50 percent of earnings replaced by public assistance in case of unemployment. In France, the replacement ratio for the same family is 86 percent; in Britain 83 percent; in Germany 74 percent; in Sweden and the Netherlands 90 percent.”

(The United States of Europe by TR Reid, 2004; page 149)

Here the German magazine Der Spiegel says America is in decline.

(Spiegel) – A Superpower in Decline – Is the American Dream Over?
The unemployment rate in the United States is at about 10 percent. But when the people who have stopped looking for work and are not registered anywhere are included, the real number is likely to be closer to 20 percent. For the first time since the Great Depression, Americans have a problem with long-term unemployment.…

Did you know that 132 million Americans have no dental insurance, whereas everyone in the European Union has access by law to some kind of dental plan.

The statistic that is being widely reported in the European press is that we have 59 million medically uninsured in America. From a country that boasts 403 billionaires, this is a scandal! While we can all be proud Americans, we don’t have to be proud of the inaccessibility of the US health care system. We can do better than this.

Number of Americans without Health Insurance on the Rise
Of the 59 million who don’t happen to be covered with a health insurance, a majority of the people happen to be suffering from a lot of chronic health conditions.…

After reading this quote below, ask yourself: Can America do better than this when we have 60 million people without paid sick leave?

Roughly 60 million American workers have no paid sick leave, and only a minority can draw pay if they stay home with sick children. The lack of paid leave is especially acute in this country among low-wage workers, food-service workers and part-timers, among others. Many other countries do better. According to Dr. Jody Heymann, director of the Institute for Health and Social Policy at McGill University, more than 160 countries ensure that all their citizens receive paid sick leave and more than 110 of them guarantee paid leave from the first day of illness.

Why don’t we do what they do in Britain? Bail out the unemployed by making their unemployment benefits permanent. Instead in the British UK Progressive we see a quote from Robert Reich telling us that the new Congress is unlikely to even extend unemployment benefits. It seems that in America, the Congress only bails out Wall Street and not the working class.

Why the Lame Duck Congress Must Extend Jobless Benefits For Hard-hit Families But Not Tax Cuts For the Rich
by Robert Reich
America’s long-term unemployed — an estimated 4 million or more — constitute the single newest and biggest social problem facing America.
Now their unemployment benefits are about to run out, and the lame-duck Congress may not have the votes to extend them. (You can forget about the next Congress.) The long-term unemployed can’t get work……

We all know that America presently has 59 million medically uninsured Americans. Here is a British newspaper called the Daily Mail that printed an alarming headline.

(Daily Mail) One in FIVE Americans is mentally ill as rising unemployment takes its toll
The 2009 mental health survey hints at the impact of record unemployment rates, which last year hit a 25-year high as struggling employers slashed jobs to cope with a weak economy. For many, lost employment meant loss of health insurance, leaving many of the nation’s mentally ill unable to get treatment.…

Conclusion: This is the reason why we have to support President Obama and the Democrats because the Republicans will never support universal medical access to all Americans and will never support a European style social safety net for working class America. The simple fact is, while we can all be proud Americans, we don’t have to be proud of the broken American medical insurance system or the weak American social safety net.

I’m an expat American living in the European Union. As I come from a business and economics background, my primary interest is in supporting health care reform issues.


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