Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Minimum Wage, Health Care And Education

Santa Cruz, California
We have heard people disparage "socialist Europe" as a den of high taxes, government regulated industries and a host of other bad, bad, things that make capitalists spew venom about Europe on U.S. Soil.  

If someone is right, then we have to give them their due, but to twist the truth into a gnarled ball of lies, is reprehensible.  Using the irrational fear of communism, socialism and other less understood -isms to impress onto Americans how good they have it here and don't complain or compare is an outrage.  To add insult to injury, they degrade, insult and patronize countries who have actually enacted a democracy that works for its people.  We need to  STOP listening to this garbage and take a good look at how really bad other countries have it in comparison to our great Nation. 

We owe it to ourselves to separate fact from fiction. After all, we are not children, we can deal with the boogieman and turn on the light.

Yes, Europeans pay higher taxes on personal income and higher gas prices.  True.

Also true: Europeans drive cars that give them far higher mileage than the monstrosities most of us house in our garages. Gas mileage in European cars approaches 60 MPG and the great-looking Ford ECOnetics 2012 boasts 67 MPG.  

So yes, they pay more per gallon but with such high mileage, even a vehicle a couple of years old, would still average around $1.50 per gallon in the end.  When was the last time we saw those prices here? - We'd have to fill up our tanks several times to run the same amount of miles European models run, and pay a lot more by the end of the trip with our American versions.  So yes, they pay more, but it is well worth it financially and environmentally.

Europeans pay higher personal taxes than American workers. Yes, they do. They most certainly do! and good for them!

Their taxes go to pay for social services they all enjoy: From paid 5 to 6 weeks vacations a year, to an excellent school system that provides top-notch quality education from pre-school to university graduations.  

Our tax dollars go to subsidize corporations, not our social structure.  We are on our own and not seeing a good return on our investment (ROI)

What is most appalling is that American companies have no problem having a huge percentage of their labor force in European countries, paying taxes and the high wages they command.  When it comes to the American counterparts ... not so much.  Please bear in mind that even Microsoft made the statement that the workers in Ireland were exactly what the company was looking for: EDUCATED.

We need to work on that pesky education thing because if we get any less educated, all we are good for is digging ditches and shoveling manure for minimum wage.  By the way, do you know what the minimum wage is in some of those god-awful-good-for-nothing-socialist-countries?

The Netherlands: Minimum Wage: $19.00 an hour. 
France: Minimum Wage $17.00 an hour.

How about these guys?:
Australia: Minimum Wage $20.00 an hour
New Zealand: Minimum Wage: $13.00 an hour.

What about other European Countries?

Other European countries do not have a minimum wage because wages are agreed upon through WORKER'S COLLECTIVE BARGAINING and the industries they work for.  It has to be said because we are going through a dismantling of worker's collective bargaining rights across the United States and we are in the fight of our life when it comes to maintaining a minimum of dignity in quality of life that will affect future generations.  Health care is as much a part of good wages and education as minimum wage and taxes.


Sweden: Parental leave for both parents - 13 months total with at least three of those going to the father.  Pre-natal and post-natal care has made Sweden the country with the lowest infant mortality rate.  Sweden has made children's health a top priority and their educational system is top notch.  This makes for healthy and well educated adults that understand the priviledge and responsibility of having a solid social foundation to build upon. 

France: Do we really have to explain this again? - You don't pay a dime to get health care, it comes out of the "high" taxes they pay and doctors never deal with insurance papers, have to get authorization or request reimbursement.  They actually do something really strange: They take care of their patients and they make house calls (free, of course!)  The taxes also provide new parents with home visits from health providers and pay practically nothing to have their children enrolled in pre-school and daycare.  French people are also entitled to a free college education.  An educated population makes for a strong country and social fiber.  You know, like Ireland... where Microsoft is.

Canada:  For all the talk about brown people coming across the border to pick tomatoes, you would think we have it made in the shade.  Nope! Canadians put up with Americans going across the border to get health care and Mexico is inundated with folks coming across the border to get their medical and dental care.  We don't see this in the news, do we?

The Canadian health care system is not perfect, but considering what we have in the United States, it looks like Heaven. Canadians do not understand the stress over health care Americans have, they have never experienced it.  Read this account of an emergency appendectomy in Canada by an American.

What exactly are we doing that remotely compares to what these countries are doing? - Well, we are...

... sending money to free health clinics so people who can't afford insurance, have no money to pay for a doctor or medication can have their lives saved by the likes of you and me who are also stressed out over getting enough coverage for our loved ones and sweating bullets over pre-authorization and co-payments and charges that are arbitrary and rarely in our favor.

Donate if you can to The National Association of Free Clinics. You may just save someone's life. 

On a final note: It is embarrassing that our health care has come to this:  Long lines of suffering Americans who make the health care lines resemble soup kitchens from The Great Depression.  We all know how it came to this, we need to stop, think and act on behalf of each other, because yes, we are our brother's keepers and we should take this "socialist" agenda to heart.

Europe has its problems but people are more than willing to work on them and resolve them because they value family, community and quality of life.  Maybe we need to do the same because whatever it is we have been doing ... is not working.

PEACE - Olivia


Phil said...

Excellent and well researched article Olivia! There is virtually nobody in the media willing to do these types of comparisons needed to provide an objective view of life outside the US. My wife has relatives in Canada and in general they receive more detailed, personalized care than we do in the States as much lower cost. I wish we had more willingness on all issues to explore facts as you did.

BlueTrooth said...

Thank you for providing at least a glimpse into other economies and "imaginings" of creating value and providing services. There are so many tangents, even the very concept of money. As Americans, it is ironic that while we say we value freedom and liberty and ingenuity, we are "locked" into a system commonly referred to as Capitalism. We like to say we value spirituality, but our real religion is "profit" everywhere we look.
By taking an honest look at the diverse solutions around the World, maybe we can take an honest look at bringing real solutions to the forefront at home. Thanks for another great blog, Olivia.