Thursday, September 30, 2010

European-style Socialism sucks: trust me, I've lived through it

The mental image that many Americans have when someone brings up the 'European lifestyle' is of relaxed Continental, metro-sexual types sipping espresso on a Tuesday morning in Paris, while soaking up the glorious morning sun at a sidewalk bistro on the Champs de Elysee.
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That image is as accurate as that of the typical European, who is asked to describe their mental image of the typical 'American lifestyle:' a cowboy decked out in spurs, chaps and cowboy hat, up on their horse out on the trail, lassoing stray cattle on the cattle drive, all the while blasting away with his six shooter at marauding Indians. .
Having lived in Europe for 6 long years during two tours of duty in the U.S. Army, I have considerable insight into how the typical, real life European lives on a day to day basis, and I am here to tell you, those folks lounging about sipping their espressos on the Champs de Elysee are far, far, FAR from typical. .
Western Europe has embraced gigantic taxes to finance their socialist way of life since World War II. Not burdened by having to pay for battleships, aircraft carriers and tanks (the United States pays for all of that, you see), they are free to use that tax money to provide free health care, finance 35 hour work weeks, month long vacations in August, lucrative and opulent pensions beginning at 55 for life, and on, and on, and on..........
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But what are the costs for all of this socialism? Nearly all European countries, and most noticeably Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain (P.I.I.G.S.), are floundering in crippling debt and bankruptcy. England is not far behind, nor is Germany, Sweden, Denmark, and many other socialist countries in Western Europe.
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And the reason these countries are bankrupt are not that they all live in 4,000 square foot mansions, sip Dom Perignon champagne morning, noon and night and race off to fabulous parties in Monte Carlo in their Lamborghinis: the lifestyle of the typical European is as opposite of that as day is to night.
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Quite the opposite, in fact: the average European family (4 members and shrinking) lives in a small, dingy apartment of perhaps 700 square feet. This average family has no car, but rather has to depend on the public transportation system, which is enormously expensive and inefficient. If a family does buy a car, it is not a Lamborghini, but rather a Citroen 'Duck,' a chintzy cheap piece of sh*t that gets around 40 mph, has a top speed of 60 mph (100 kph), and they fill the tank with $8.00/gas (benzine). Parking is another enormous expense, and accordingly, most European families do without these luxuries. Yes, cars are luxuries in Europe, whereas they are necessities in the U.S.
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The average size refrigerator is smaller in the typical European household than you would see in any typical college dorm room in the U.S. Accordingly, Europeans don't have much room for food storage, and must make daily trips (within walking distance) to the local grocery store to buy the daily meals. Savings available to U.S. citizens via mega-stores like Safeway, Piggly Wiggly, Super Walmarts and so-on are non-existent. Europeans pay full blown retail for their food, as deep freezers are completely alien to most Europeans.
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Taxes: All Europeans pay at least half if not more of their incomes in taxes. Income, sales, excise, property and value added: all of these are piled onto everything Europeans buy. In Germany, if a family has a TV, a tax is levied on the TV annually. Just like the Beatles song goes, if you take a walk, they tax your feet. Taxes are cripplingly high in Europe, and they still can't make ends meet, even though they scarcely contribute a dime for their national defense (the U.S. picks up the tab here). Paying these taxes assumes that the European is employed, which would be a spotty assumption: the European unemployment rate has hovered around 11% for most of my adult life, and they consider that 'normal levels.'
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Life is cramped, Spartan and at times downright mean in Europe. Socialism is expensive, unsustainable, and living in a socialist system downright sucks. Trust me, I've been there and done that.
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And we are heading in that direction.

27 comments:

Christopher - Conservative Perspective said...

Fredd,

If I never said it (and I never tire of saying it) Thanks for Your Service!

Thank you as well for a real-world image of exactly what socialism looks like.

Just so you know I do not nor ever have held the mental image you describe of Europe in your opening dialouge. Actually if libs paid any attention whatsoever to thier fav medium, Hollywood, they would see what you describe.

Pick any recent movie based in Europe and it is there for all to see. Sure there are the scenes at all the 'tourist' attractions but when the camera follows the actors to the residential scenes (not politicos or royalty of mind you) a realistic picture emerges of exactly what you speak.

Hollywood may be atrocious politically speaking but one thing they do stick to is realism in scenes/backgrounds. They may not highlight it, but it is there for all to see, all one needs to do is pay attention.

Fredd said...

Thanks for the kind words, Christopher.

As for the Hollywood films shooting the grubby conditions in most of Europe, I seem to have missed them.

Most the films set in Europe that I recall have all Europeans living like Georg von Trapp in 'The Sound of Music.' Recall those digs?

Maybe you can cite a few films that seem to have escaped my memory that show socialism in Europe's true colors, the cramped, mean shitholes that are everywhere.

Christopher - Conservative Perspective said...

Fredd,

I am not known for remembering actors and films (besides Robo that is,,lol) but one that comes to mind (not really, I had to Google it for the name) to illustrate what I mean is Matt Damon in the 'Bourne' series.

In the first movie of the series the character bounces all over Europe and all it's squallor is on full display.

Another that does come to mind (really, after talking about 'Bourne') is the first movie in the 'Transporter' series.

Now again, in both movies you will see the usual 'Hey, look how great Europe is' scenes, but if one pays close attention (as I do in everything, the wife does not think I really enjoy movies because I analyse them too much) they will see the real Europe that is realized by the people there everyday.

Fredd said...

I have watched the first 'Bourne Identity' film, and the general squallor didn't resonate with me, for whatever reason.

'Transporters,' I have yet to see. If it ever shows up in the Blockbuster bargain bin (assuming Blockbuster itself lives to see another day), then I will watch for those scenes.

Lots of Italian locations do indeed reflect the dump that Italy is, for the most part. When I was there (spent two 30-day leaves there in 1976 and again in 1977, lying on the beach near Livorno), the entire country smelled of urine. European Latinos all love to piss all over themselves in the 'old country,' and think nothing of it. That little cultural nuance remains alive and vibrant in New Orleans.

Trestin said...

Europe has been in steady decline since the WWI.

Christopher - Conservative Perspective said...

Not related to Europe, but what you state about Italy reminds me of the difference between visiting a convience (party) store here in the Metro-Detroit area and knowing of whether or not the operators are moslem or Chaldean arabs.

The minute you open the door you can literally tell the difference by the smell or lack thereof.

If a very strong odor of BO smacks you in the face you know straight away you are in a jihadist store and if the odor is not enough? to turn you around and walk out immediately the jihadist part should.

Fredd said...

Trestin:

I would agree with you.

In Germany, particularly, after reparations were demanded by the allies, and the Weimar Republic's disastrous economic policies (which resemble Obama,s BTW), many believe all of that lead to the Nazi ascendency and the attrocities of Hitler upon the world.

The_Kid said...

I've been there too Fredd. Very well written and described.

France is a filthy place. Describing France by the Louve would be like describing America by the Smithsonian. Hardly representative.

Here's another thought. When was the last time France invented, created and distributed something with global or even national appeal? Like the iPhone. They haven't and they won't. Punish innovation and success through taxation and you get no more innovation or success. Just a bunch of biological life forms, with their nose just out of the water, dependent on the government for everything in their life.

Look around your house folks. Make a list of things inside it that were either created by or supplied by the federal government and get back to us with your list. I won't be holding my breath because the list is empty.

That's your future. You don't believe that. I'll be the guy laughing at you when you walk around bitching about living in a hellhole and on occasion letting you know it was You that created it.

Lone Ranger said...

I have a coworker who escaped from Cold War Czechoslovakia. She lived in a town of 35,000 that had just one doctor. If you visited this doctor and didn't have a fever or an injury, you were sent back to work. She's scared to death, because she sees the same thing about to happen here and there is nowhere else to run.

christian soldier said...

We do not have to go to the EU to see the failure of the socialist welfare system-
the once beautiful and prosperous city of Detroit is now a dump after 60+ years of the slow slide to socialism- an 'in house ' example of to us in the US...
Hope we have not awakened toooo late!
Carol-CS

Silverfiddle said...

Well said, Fredd!

I can also back up your account. Europe is a beautiful continent, and the people are wonderful (even the French!) but they pay a very high price for it all and their material standard of living is much lower than ours.

Since the crash, all of these countries are cutting back their vaunted social programs.

Fredd said...

Lone Ranger:

That is a common fear among European ex-pats, especially from former Warsaw Pact and the Soviet-bloc countries: they remember the bad old days, and they clearly see the writing on the wall that not enough of us see.

Fredd said...

Silver:

Cutting back: I hear Sweden, the poster boy of out of control socialism, is really doing an about face, and is curtailing quite a few freebies for its citizens.

The howling, great wailing and knashing of Swedish teeth over lost entitlements can be heard in Denver.

Fredd said...

Kid:

I think France deserves a special place on this list of socialist hell holes.

So much so, that I just may rant and rave about what a failure this once great country has become owing to the ravages of socialism.

Joe said...

I lived in a little French village called Marlotte. The roads were so narrow that two American cars would have trouble passing each other (and with each home's walls right up to their curb they could not be widened).

There was lots of waste material along the road...some of it human.

The people of the village dressed in drab, mostly gray and black garb that was mostly wool.

Although they routinely greeted each other with a "Bon Jour," they were not really friendly with each other, let alone Americans.

In Marlotte, not only did one have to shop daily, one had to shop in a different store for each type of food: the butcher shop for meat; the bread store for bread; etc.

The two most common modes of transportation were foot and bicycles.

I was never so glad as the day I left France.

Fredd said...

Joe:

It's these Latin types that seem to love to piss and shit in their streets, and think nothing of it.

Italy, especially.

Fredd said...

CS-Carol:

I used to live near Detroit (White Lake, in Oakland County) but was forced to visit Wayne County and the destruction that was Detroit too often because of business concerns.

Everybody who thinks socialism is the way to go should be forced to tour Detroit and see how well socialism has worked there.

The first time I saw Detroit, I thought an atomic bomb had destroyed the place, but was told, nope, Democrats over the last 60 years did this.

sig94 said...

These glaring examples are in our own country but no one listens. The only time I ever had to step around crap in someone's livingroom was when the residents were on welfare.

People donlt care when they have free rein with other people's money. Like that idiot woman yelling about Obama Money in Chicago, they have no clue and could care less who pays the bills as long as it isn't them.

Fredd said...

Hey, Sig: good point. Ever been to Detroit? They have public housing available for all to see right off of the interstate: broken windows, garbage everywhere, squallor galore.

When someone else pays your bills, private citizens don't give a damn about keeping things up, or what anything costs. Only the government will care, and that is only for cosmetic appearance's sake. They really don't care, either, until election time.

That's why socialism will never, ever work anywhere anybody tries it. Never, ever.

WomanHonorThyself said...

ah yes Eurabia..how romantic..NOT!..its down the drain.........

sig94 said...

A friend of teh family, now passed, retired from the NYANG. He spent time in Europe installing radar systems for NATO.

He did a tour in Spain and saw that public housing there was spotless, everything clean and shipshape. Then he found out why. The premises were inspected on a regular basis and if your apartment - inside or out - was below standards they arrested you and tossed you and your family out, never to return to any public housing in Spain.

That solved that problem.

Chris W said...

Fredd you have proven than any thinking person would choose freedom over socialism any day.

Fredd said...

Chris W:

Which suggests that most socialists and liberals don't think very much about anything: other than worry that they get all the words right when they sing 'Kumbaya' with all of their hippie buddies around the campfire.

Martin Vahi said...

As an European, Estonian, I say that just like the south and the north differ in the United States, so do they differ in Europe. Sometimes for better. Sometimes for worse.

I want to point out here that no socialism in modern Europe is as deep or stark as the communism in the Soviet Union. I was born in 1981 and lived the first 10 years of my life under Soviet rule, Soviet Estonia. I do not remember that there were any human feces on the streets, although at 2007 Friday nights many drunk people, indeed, urinated on the streets of the center of Tallinn, despite the fact that they can do it for free in the bar or pub or night club, from where they blunder out.

There is a big difference, what people do during the "long vacations" and "free time". For example, during the Soviet Union era, practically every Estonian family had a vegetable garden, many had fruit tree gardens, to compensate the shoddy economics. In Estonia it has always been legal to grow ones own vegetables. Tax free. Even during the deepest of communist times. People were also free to build their own houses and fix things for themselves and that's what people spent their "free time" and "long vacations" during communist soviet times. In Cuba, on the other hand, growing one's own vegetables was forbidden and private vegetable gardens were destroyed by state authorities.

The point is: what really matters, is WHAT PEOPLE SPEND THEIR TIME ON and WHAT PEOPLE ARE STOPPED FROM DOING. Detroit probably just fell, because the people there did not have a habit of working and studying, not because there were some tax based services available. After all, children, usually, do not work either, but there is a difference, if they are actively engaged, if they learn new things or just bully each other. Or, think of teachers and child care personnel: all they do is engage children and train their lines of though. Parents have a choice: either they spend the "long vacations" and "free time" on training their children, learning new things themselves, working on things, or they dust watch TV, do drugs, spend time "socializing".


On the other hand, if You do nothing, just sit in the office or sleep as a security guard, and get paid for it, then is that work? I say that IT IS NOT, because NOTHING, or almost nothing, GETS DONE as a result of it, despite the fact that You get paid for it.

It really boils down to culture and WHAT PEOPLE CHOOSE TO SPEND THEIR TIME ON and not that much on local politics. High taxation can discourage certain activities, social robbing by some mafia or gang (as is common in Russia) can discourage certain activities, but apart from that, it's really the choice, how people choose to spend their dais, what makes the difference.

Thank You for reading my comment.

Fredd said...

Martin Vahi:

I read your comment, and while much of it is valid, a few critical points of yours are off the mark, considerably.

1. "Detroit fell because people had bad habits, not because of any government factor" (paraphrased). This is absolutely not the case, Martin. Detroit was destroyed as a viable society because of liberalism run amok. Democrats have ruled the Motor City for more than half a century, and their liberal policies of tax and spend have caused the productive elements to flee the city, leaving behind the detritus of society. You couldn't be more wrong in your conclusion of Detroit's demise.

2. "It really boils down to culture, and what people choose to do with their time..." (again I paraphrase your conclusion, Martin). Not true. Demonstrably not true. Many examples around the world disprove your conclusion, Martin. Take Syria, for example. Their culture is one of the oldest on earth that used trade with other cultures to enrich their own existence. Deeply embedded in Syrian culture is a penchance for trade, capitalism. Now look at Syria: it's a complete mess, descended into chaos and led by a mass murdering tyrant. Nobody will trade with Syria without fear of their assets being confiscated at the point of a gun or missile.

I could cite many more examples of culturally rich societies that have gone astray because of politics, not cultural rot.

I could go on picking apart your comment for inaccuracies, and errors in your conclusions, but I will stop here.

Thanks for reading my post, Martin.

Brandt said...

I agree with nearly all of what you say in principle about Europe. I, too, served there for about two years in the US Army (HHC Third Armored Division, Drake Kaserne, Frankfurt FRG) I recall walking the streets and sensing that the people weren't happy. (Loved the fact that Frankfurt then (mid 1980's) was a very safe city). I also understand your well thought out points about the way socialism - by whatever its name brand - fails rather than uplifts people. However, I'd be interested to hear your take on 1)Reaganomics (nothing ever "trickled down" to us) and 2) how George Bush, Jr. really set this country on a road to ruin by outright ignoring intelligence reports re. the events leading up to 9/11 so that he could launch his own little vendetta against Saddam Hussein AND force things like the "Patriot Act" down our throats - all the while wiping his backside with the Constitution. I won't even get into how he lied to us all about the whole WMD issue. Look at Iraq now, BTW. Full-blown civil war - Afghanistan not much better and Bush ultimately cannot get credit for offing Bin Laden either. It's NOT that I disagree - IN PRINCIPLE - with conservatism (although I wish the religious right would shut up and disappear! - they're as bad as the Islamic Fundamentalists IMO), it's just that I have not seen good examples of it in recent memory in the USA. Plus, Conservatives (at least in my view) allowed once good-paying jobs to be "outsourced" and are against the working person's rights to be treated humanely by an employer. That said, I'm sick of Political Correctness and paying high taxes and getting nothing back. What do you think, sir? BTW - as one vet to another, thank you for your services and sacrifices. I just hope what we did and were willing to do were not ultimately for nothing. Sincerely, Brandt

Fredd said...

Brandt:

I too was stationed on Drake Kaserne, and my barracks consisted of HHC personnel of the 3rd AD along with the battalion support folks (533rd CEWI).

We very likely have already been acquainted, as I served approx. 3 plus years from 1981 through 1984 in that unit.

'Charlie Brown' was probably one of your team, am I right?

But throwing Dubya under the bus for obvious liberal talking points will not provoke a 'nuh, uh' response from me. Though W was no pure conservative, he certainly wasn't the dolt that liberals made him out to be.