Mitt Romney's campaign slogan, as repeated for the umpteenth time in last night's New Hampshire debate, is, "We're becoming more like Europe!" On so many fronts, one can only wish that were true.
Former Madison, Wisconsin, mayor Dave Cieslewicz explains why:
- We spend 16% of our GDP on health care. Most of Europe spends 10%.
- We leave 45 million Americans without health insurance. The European Union enjoys nearly universal coverage.
- For all of our extra spending, America and Europe have nearly identical life expectancies, and Europe keeps more babies from dying.
- Europe generates wealth more efficiently. "The U.S. uses about 221 tons of oil equivalent to produce every million dollars of GDP, while the comparable number for Britain is 141, for France 170 and for Germany 164."
- Europe has lower gun ownership, but it also has a much lower murder rate.
- Europeans save 10% to 13% of their income. Americans average saving rate is zilch.
- Europeans enjoy more upward mobility than Americans: "...42% of American men who grew up in households in the bottom fifth of incomes stayed there as adults. The comparable figures for Denmark (25%) and Britain (30%) demonstrate the point."
Dissing Europe is Francophone Mitt Romney's parade-float candy tossed to ill-read voters conditioned to respond to fantasies of American exceptionalism. As Jon Huntsman would say of Romney's understanding of Europe, "Ta bu tai liaojie zhege qingxing." As my students would say, "Il ne comprend pas la situation." America is an exception... to many of the living-standard successes that the Europeans are enjoying while we shoot off our guns and our mouths.