Thursday, June 01, 2006

America is a Great Country

America is a great country wrote Gary Daily in his comments on my previous post (Europe's Cultural Future). I couldn’t agree with him more. Unfortunately, that is the only sensible thing that Gary said. He immediately stepped in it: “Measuring Europe by our standards is not just arrogant, it can be downright embarrassing that we don’t always measure up.”

And his acclaimed Tony Judt is full of BS up to his Europhile eyeballs. Judt makes clear that America and Europe are not way stations on a historical production line but are moving in divergent directions. He sees the European path as the more enlightened and that the United States is trapped in the past. His evidence: America's cultural peculiarities including our religiosity, selective prurience, affection for guns and prisons and embrace of the death penalty.

We are a nation of believers, we pray and our religious creeds inform our lives. To European intellectuals and, sadly, to many common folks across the pond, this is all peculiar. By our selective prurience Judt contrasts the Janet Jackson breast flip with Viagra commercials on TV. I’d say it’s more about our abhorrence of obscenities like the Dutch political party devoted to pedophilia. Judt thinks we are barbarians to have a Second Amendment and real punishment for crime. If these are our differences, I’ll be happy to remain on the US side of the Atlantic.

Daily sights a reference where Judt reviews three books that compare Europe and America. These are The United States of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy by T.R. Reid, The European Dream: How Europe's Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream by Jeremy Rifkin and Free World: America, Europe, and the Surprising Future of the West by Timothy Garton Ash. I must say that Judt’s reviews certainly shook me up. In his words:

America is in trouble and the "American way of life" cannot be sustained. The American pursuit of wealth, size, and abundance — as material surrogates for happiness — is aesthetically unpleasing and ecologically catastrophic. The American economy is built on sand. For many Americans the promise of a better future is a fading hope. No wonder so many Americans turn to the church for solace.

Do you see what I mean? This is grim!!! But wait just a minute. I seem to recall a Harris Interactive (2003) poll of American and European attitudes that reveals a very different reality. (See Europe’s Sickness, 10/18/05)

In response to the question “How satisfied are you with your life?” 57% of Americans answered “very satisfied” as opposed to 14% of Frenchmen, 17% of Germans and 16% of Italians.

To the question whether “success is determined by forces outside our control” only 32% of Americans agreed as opposed to a majorities in France (54%), Germany (68%) and Italy (66%).

When asked “Do you expect your personal situation to improve in five years” only 20% in Germany, 42% in France and 53% in Italy (those wide-eyed Italian optimists) expected improvement. In America, 63% were counting on improvement of an already satisfying existence.

Compared to America, these European countries have a poverty of hope. Only one in seven is very satisfied with his life, less than half expect improvement and nearly two thirds have little faith in their own ability to achieve success. The sickness of the European spirit is manifest in much of its social life. (see Our Culture, What’s Left of It by Theodore Dalrymple.)

I’m reminded of G. K. Chesterton who wrote about the secular Europeans: “You hard shelled materialists are all balanced on the very edge of belief – of belief in almost everything.” Multiculturalism, same sex marriage, the drug and sex culture, socialism, an irrational fear of global warming,… Europeans will believe in nearly anything except the future.


Blogger Simon said...

We Europeans are just realistic.

2:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, the poll is probably correct. Thank god that there are plenty of white supremacists and Nazi sympathizers over there who probably rank higher in the happiness scale. Those Europeans are the future of a more optimististic and happy Europe once they deport all the Muslims. Great post Bill!

5:59 AM  
Blogger Free Agency Rules said...

Great Post Bill.

Intutively I knew it because most socialists think that everything is the responsibility of the government to fix. They seldom think that Business or ingenuity of Entrepreneurism can solve anything.

There is always a million things that society needs fixing, and many Americans think the government will screw it up more, while socialists think "lets fix it by spending other peoples money."

It's no wonder they are discouraged.

I only hope the liberal and socialist thinkers in this country see the light on the futality of spending other peoples money before it is too late.


7:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Totally agree FAR. We should stop wasting $400 billion on Iraq and give it back to the taxpayer. Why the US feels theneed to export democracy while I could use that cash to buy a new pool is beyond me!

7:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The idea that a society can be judged solely on one poll for happiness is a little silly. Notwithstanding the fact that Bill seems to only like Europeans who share his distaste for cultural diversity (and quotes former Nazis to prove his point), Europe, while not perfect, offers it's citizens a lot. Health care is one area in which they excel (regardless of the right wing myths. Americans' life expectancy is ranked #34 in the world, our infant mortality is higher than that of 41 nations, yet we spend twice as much on health care. But in the wingnut universe, we are exceptional, and facts have a well known liberal bias. But according to one poll, we're a lot happier than the Spaniards!

7:38 AM  
Blogger Free Agency Rules said...

While I did not think going to Iraq was the right thing to do, now that we are there we need to finish what we started.

The one thing the Libs get right is...If we pull out too soon, we will have another Vietnam, as we will have another "Killing Fields."

The Cowards want to cut and run, while the brave want to not be quitters just because things are getting tough.

It was a bad idea but leaving too soon would be even worse, but then I served in Vietnam and saw what happened when we pulled our funding from them.


7:45 AM  
Blogger Free Agency Rules said...


My profile picture is me in Vietnam. It was the only digital picture of me I had on my computer at the time I did my profile.


7:52 AM  
Blogger Free Agency Rules said...

It just amazes me how supposed "enlightened" people of our world can believe in the silly "Global Warming" scare, next they will say "the sky is falling!"

I remember seeing data on the NASA site saying the spikes in temp. were directly correllated with Sun Spot activity with no room for doubt.


10:19 AM  
Blogger gary daily said...

Because I have the honor of being named (see America is a Great Country) in the body of Bill’s always thought-provoking --And I Mean It!-- Blog, I feel I should respond with a few clarifications.

Bill shortens my statement-question when he quotes my response. Here’s what I really said, in full:

“America is a great country. To deny this is to live in a dark corner of ignorance. But measuring Europe, or the world, by our standards and perspectives is not just arrogant, it can be downright embarrassing–people of other nations start measuring right back, and is it surprising that we don’t always measure up?”

I was asking a question. People should ask more questions.

My point in this question was why not take “Europe,” (Which we need to remember is far from being a single, cohesive, homogeneous entity, so excuse the following “Theys”,) on its on terms? If Europeans like longer vacations, more time with their families and friends at the cost of their GDP numbers, so be it. Let’s try to understand that decision on their part. If they want to pay high taxes for the more equitable delivery of medical services, that’s a trade-off they appear to deem worthwhile. Now why would they come to this conclusion?

And finally, if they stay away from institutional religion in droves, let’s not act like we’re Dan Brown “Silas” stand-ins, were mere mortals, who are we to damn them to hell. I’d venture that more Europeans than Americans have read Dante’s _Inferno_. They know the score if they choose to see paradise as pie in the sky and guess/reason wrong on this eternal question. Better to examine than dismiss if you are really interested in knowing other people and their ways of life and thought.

You don’t have to be some kind of a scary postmodernism relativist to know in your gut that when you start comparing apples and oranges, let alone the United States with say, Germany, or France, or Italy or . . . you fill in the blank, that you are going to get the apples calling attention to the pebbled skin on the orange and the oranges making snide comments about the useless core in apples. I won’t go so far as to say that all comparisons are invidious, but I tend to agree with Santayana, “Comparison is the expedient of those who cannot reach the heart of the things compared.”

1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks for being a voice of reason, tolerance and understanding, qualities which are often in short supply on this blog.

You are right to point out the difficulties in making comparisons between two very different and complex entities. I'm not sure which looks worse: America viewed through a solely European lens or Europe through an American one. Certainly, beating our breasts and shouting about how good we are doesn't help the debate and doesn't persuade anyone (even if it's true).

And the last time I checked, pride was a sin and humility was a virtue!


4:13 PM  
Blogger Free Agency Rules said...

gary said: "Ask more questions."

O.K., here is my question. If we get Health Care by having a third party pay for it, Socialized Medicine, then how is it going to not be even worse than we have now?

At least insurance companies require you to make a co-payment to insure you are not just going because it's "free" instead of something that you would otherwise deem unnecessary.

As it is now most people can afford the $30 - $60 per month that will get you "Catastrophic" coverage, but many of those choose not to spend that amount on insurance because they choose to spend it on "Video Games", etc.

My biggest question is this. When we loose sight of the fact that everytime we pass a bill that uses the majority to force everyone to pay for some social program, we are using mob rule to accomplish those programs.

Obviously there are plenty of those who pay that if given an option, whould opt-out. I for one feel for those who are being forced.

I believe the only thing that people should be forced to pay for is their freedom/security and all other taxes are repressive.

And forcing my neighbors to pay for something that I should be responsible for is just flat out unfair and wrong.


4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FAR said -As it is now most people can afford the $30 - $60 per month that will get you "Catastrophic" coverage, but many of those choose not to spend that amount on insurance because they choose to spend it on "Video Games", etc.--

That's funny and may be true for some young healthy people but certainly enough to make sizable dent in the 44 million or so uninsured.

Many people can not get coverage at all and are turned down because of pre-existing conditions and it's usually not serious things like cancer.

So the only way those people can get coverage is to get a job at a company that offers insurance since a group coverage can not turn you down. Since less and less companies are offering insurance so it is becoming very difficult for some to get insurance.

Out of over 1.5 million bankruptcies over half where because of illness and medical bills and three quarters of those HAD medical insurance. Most people with insurance are one serious illness or injury away from bankruptcy.

You also seem to forget the U.S. pays more than three times per person than what Europeans pay and they get better care. Higher life expectancy and lower infant mortality rates.


5:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that should be certianly "not" enough


5:12 PM  
Blogger Free Agency Rules said...

Over 75% of the 44 million are supposedly uninsured by choice if my memory serves me correctly.

I have read a lot about the Canadian and European "long lines" to get health care. I konw some people who actually said that they hated the service, (ever been to the DMV?), but that they got taken care of, while I have talked to even more people who said they had a terrible experiance all the way around.

There are few things that any organization that has no competition does well.

Corruption is more rampant in big government organizations than in big businesses. At least in business, people care about waste.

In most government organizations, people are overheard all the time saying things like...."We really don't need anything, but if we don't spend this money, our budget will be cut for next year."

In business, the stock holders are now often the employees and they don't put up with such waste, (generally....I know there are always exceptions.)

Many Canadians come to the U.S. to get health care because it is so lousy there.


5:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry FAR, but you persist in buying into the pervasive myth surrounding health care abroad. Satisfaction with health in Canada in very high, costs less, and they have better health outcomes. And the idea that 44million Americans don't have health insurance because they choose not too is very un-Christian, I must say. Poor people have to make tough choices, and some simply can't pay for health insurance. But you kknow who pays for it when they need health care? The taxpayer, that's who. Just like your weird cosmology, you have no evidence to back up anything you say. If you want real facts about this very important issue, I recommend you read this

6:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FAR you say a lot without actually answering. The U.S. has a higher infant mortality rate than a country like Cuba. Yes that's right Cuba has a lower infant mortality rate than we do. So does Canada and almost every European country.

47 countries have a higher life expectancy than the U.S. including Canada , France, Britain, Italy, Germany etc.

Yet we pay more than three times PER PERSON than these countries sometimes more.

So if private companies are better at preventing waste where is all the money going?

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thats mine above


9:34 PM  
Blogger Free Agency Rules said...

Thanks for the link hh, I will take the time and read it.

I have lots of links I could give you to read with data to explain the points you bring up, but I will first finish reading the report by...Hmmmm...Daschle, is he a Lib Democrat?

I know "figures never lie, but liers can figure", meaning people can mis-read figures if they don't find the "true" cause for the results and they can find figures to support a position in either direction.

All people who support one position or another do not arrive at their position blindly or from ignorance. That is why you have people like William F. Buckley and others who have lots of brain power on a differnt side from say someone like Noam Chompsky.

Neither is a fool. Each reached their conclusions based upon core beliefs. Chompsky has Socialists core values, which I believe are anti-freedom, while Buckley has Free-Market core beliefs, which I believe has a more freedom base.

The more government control of a citizens life, the less freedom one has. Do you disagree with that statement?

I could present lots of sources to backup the failure of socialist ideas including Socialized Medicine, if you would like. Would you be open to read them?


1:36 AM  
Blogger Free Agency Rules said...


Here is one about "reducing waiting list times for cancer patients" and problems with Britian's healt care system from a London Newspaper - The Telegraph.



2:02 AM  
Blogger Free Agency Rules said...

In a NY Times Artice "2/20/2006" About the Canada Supreme Court ruling on the prohibition of allowing privitized health, said:

"that regulations that create long waiting times for surgery contradict the constitutional guarantees for individuals of “life, liberty and the security of the person,’' and that the prohibition against private medical insurance and care is for sick patients an “infringement of the protection against cruel and unusual treatment.''

People in Canada leave to come to the U.S. so they can avoid the long lines associated with most surgery because for the most part private health care was banned.

Here is the reason why that happens:

Socialized medicine is advocated as the means of making medical care free or almost free, thereby enabling even the very poorest people to afford all of it that they need. Unfortunately, when medical care is made free, the quantity of it that people attempt to consume becomes virtually limitless. Office visits, diagnostic tests, procedures, hospitalizations, and surgeries all balloon. If nothing further were done, the cost would destroy the government’s budget. Something further is done, and that is that cost controls are imposed. The government simply draws the line on how much it is willing to spend. But so long as nothing limits the office visits, requests for diagnostic tests, etc., etc., waiting lines and waiting lists grow longer and longer.

Then the government seeks to limit the number of office visits, tests, procedures, etc., etc., by more narrowly limiting the circumstances in which they can occur. For example, a given diagnostic test may be allowed only when a precise set of symptoms is present and not otherwise. A hospitalization or surgery may be denied if the patient is over a certain age.

The above leads to the desire of the people to have private health care made available.

The myths are that Canada's health care system works well and that Britian's works well also, as refuted in the previous link from the London Telegraph where the Taxi drivers make a fortune just taking people to the hospital, since transportation is a "must have" if you want to truely pay for all health care costs.

One taxi cab driver said in the article: "David Hobbs, an Essex taxi driver, said he was "making a mint" driving NHS patients. "They waste so much money it's unbelievable."

If you want facts, I can give them to you, but like most people it is painful to read things that don't support their worldview.

People really don't seek out things that contridict their position and tend to take as fact anything that supports their view.


2:35 AM  
Blogger Free Agency Rules said...

hh said: "you have no evidence to back up anything you say"

Do you realize how insulting that statement is?

I have a feeling I would like you if we ever met and we got to really know one another, and I think that you would be less apt to try to insult me.

Please let me know if I ever say anthing that insults you as I try to only say things that create pondering and not anger or negative feelings.


2:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FAR you have mistaken anon for me hh.
I forgot to sign one post and signed directly under it. The one above that was not mine although they make great points.

The facts are we are FALLING behind all the countries you sight yet are paying much more. Do you think this is a trend that can continue? They may not be happy with thier health care but they have better outcomes and pay less than the U.S.

Infant mortality

Life expectancy at birth

People used to justify the high cost of health care by saying we have the best. That is simply not true, we do have the most costly health care. The system will collapse if the trend continues. Maybe you think health care is only for those that can afford it.

You never did explain the fact that we have the highest cost of our system. You went on about how government is wasteful and private companies are not. Does not add up.

You think universal care is making you pay for your neighbor? Sorry but you already do if you have health insurance. Why do you think a stay in the hospital is so expensive? You are paying for the uninsured. Since the number of uninsured is growing because of price your health insurance will continue to rise at unsustainable rates.

You really need to rethink your views and ask yourself if you are willing to watch the U.S. fall further behind in health care.


10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You fear socialized medicine your words. Universal medical care would shift to a single payer the govt. instead of private companies that are in it for a profit. To increase profit (what all business should do) you cut expense's that means cut treatment.

The model breaks down when that happens.

You don't want to pay for your neighbors health care sorry to late you pay for the uninsured and the profit of the private companies.

As an advanced society do you want to go back to the days where if you cant pay you die in the street?
If so then we should stay on this course its already happening but will certainly get worse.


10:42 AM  
Blogger Free Agency Rules said...


Said: "You never did explain the fact that we have the highest cost of our system."

There are many obvious reasons for the high cost of our system, and it starts with government regulation.

But here are a few others:

1. A law suit happy public. The cost of malpractice insurance has caused the cost of services to skyrocket. That is not the problem of a system that is built upon the idea of people seeking the best value for their money will drive the price down. Socialized Medicine is... "here is your service, take it or leave it."

2. When the government does not allow free importation of drugs because Dems and R's alike get tens of millions in contributions from the Drug companies, then we have higher drug prices.

There are more, but you get the picture. We do not have anything close to the right amount of conpetition to do it's job of lowering prices. The FDA also causes loss of competion and monopolies. Again Government interference.

There are way too many tort reforms needed to reduce the price we pay for everythinhg to mention here.

Law Firms solicit people to begin "class action" suits and then sometimes only get 14 complaitants and the Firm gets 1.5 million in Legal fees, uncontested, because the company does not want the bad publicity. This does not just happen in Medical Class Action either.

Infant mortality is a hotly debated item. It is generally blamed upon the plight of being poor, yet poorer nations than ours have a lower rate? Do they all have Socialized Health Care?

You did not respond to my statement about how Socialized Medicine definately causes long lines. Lines for needy childern to get eye operations where over a year in line is typical.

I can cite lots of articles from foriegn papers that all talk about long waiting lists and long lines. People in the Emergency Rooms giving up and going home because they were waiting for hours and hours with a long, long line in front of them. Some with broken bones, but since they were not life threatning, too bad.

Canada in 1984 if my memory serves me, made it illegal to have private insurance. They didn't want anyone to actually have a choice!

Well now the Canada Supreme Court as made that law void. But until recently those who had enough money were comming to the U.S. to have urgent surgery that was not immediately life threatning.
Little things like cancer tumor removals.


2:20 PM  
Blogger Free Agency Rules said...


Said: As an advanced society do you want to go back to the days where if you cant pay you die in the street?"

You are smart enough to know that that isn't happening. Anyone that wants healt care is getting it in emergency rooms accross America.

By law anyone in an Emergency Room must be taken, regardless of whether they are insured or not or if they can pay or not.

If we open the flood gates and tell all that they can have all the tests and such they "want", (not just "need"), then we will also have long lines.


2:28 PM  
Blogger Free Agency Rules said...


In all sincerity, I thank you for your contributions to this discussion.

In order for people to grow in many ways there needs to be opposition in all things.

We cannot know hot without cold, we cannot know up without down, left without right, etc.

That is one reason to fear a homogenous world of nothing but socialists.

I need opposite view points so I may truely discren where the truth lies. Without your input I would not be able to ponder and challenge my beliefs.

Without being able to have ones beliefs challenged, people will continually spout rehotoric without really being well founded in "why" they believe what they believe.

People tend to reject things that don't agree with their worldview without testing the information and they tend to accept anything that agrees with their worldview as fact again without testing the information.

So, again, thanks for making me study the "why?"

I have from time to time changed my worldview thanks to people like you who made me think.

I used to be a Democrat, but then someone told me to read "Bastiat" and I became a Libertarian. Next I was challenged by Social Conservatives and moved slightly away from the Libertarians. I still agree with most of their assertions thanks to Frederick Bastiat and his book..."The Law."

Complete 75 page Book on line here

That book was awe inspiring. It made me feel like I was finally seeing the true meaning of freedom.


2:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FAR I have little time so a couple of things.

The tort reform is a straw man. As a whole the amount paid for lawsuits is a fraction of what pharmaceuticals spend on advertising.

"Socialized medicine" is the way you frame the debate. You could also think of it as national insurance like medicare. And pointing out problems with other systems is fine but there is no perfect system never will be but the fact is for three times the cost we get less.

While it is true everyone can get care in an emergency room it is also true that millions go without follow up care or preventative treatment because of cost.

As a whole a national insurance would be cheaper. As a country we would spend less on health care and get more treatment.

The problem is people that can afford insurance don't want to change because they think it will cost more (wrong) or their treatment will be cut (wrong again). It would not be perfect and some will fall threw the crack. But as a whole it would save money and improve care for a third of the country.


I agree thanks for the thoughtful discussion.

4:09 PM  
Blogger Free Agency Rules said...

I don't believe Singapore has government paid healthcare, does it?

It is one of the better Free-Market Economies in the world.

Could it be that if we had less government interference in our Economy, we would become more prosperous and lift everyone out of poverty? As in the book - Richest Man in Babylon.


7:58 PM  
Blogger Free Agency Rules said...

One last thought.

I guess my main disagreement with "Welfare" Medicine is the questionalble morality of the method used to fix the problem.

Robbing from Peter to help Paul, is in my opinion morally wrong, and that is the main reason why I don't like the solution.

The end does not justify the means.

If the only way to insure all people had health insurance was to "froce people to help their neighbor." Is "force" morally right

I say no. We haven't even really given charity a fair chance.

Taking from those who have earned it, and giving to those who haven't is still "taking."

Taking against someones will, is usually recognized as stealing, but if a group of people we call government does it, people are fooled into thinking the morality of the act is no longer valid.



9:34 AM  

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