Why do Americans not understand Social Democracies?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by osx11, Jan 22, 2014.

  1. osx11, Jan 22, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2014

    osx11 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 16, 2011
    As a European, I've spend quite a long time in the United States. Over the years, I've realized that Americans are afraid of socialism and somehow (falsely) equate Europe with socialism. In reality, though, many European countries, like Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, France are social democracies. This has nothing to do with socialism. It simply means that the government takes care of ALL its citizens, which I think should be the primary role of government besides providing national safety and infrastructure.

    These so called Social-Democratic countries generally offer:
    - universal healthcare
    - universal retirement plans
    - free university educations
    - free kindergarten/preschool
    - years of maternity leave
    - 4-6 weeks of vacation (minimum)
    - unlimited sick leave
    - great public infrastructure
    - public transportation
    - higher rankings on quality of life indexes
    - happier people on happiness indexes

    Is it that Americans really don't know these things or do they actually don't want to live such lives?

    I'm not trying to be rude here! I realize there are different customs, traditions, ideologies, beliefs, etc... I'm just saying that I personally think this is a better system than the entirely deregulated free-market capitalism antigovernment ideology in the United States. What do you guys think?
  2. citizenzen macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010
    It's willful ignorance.

    America as a culture through years of repeated lies and distortions has fooled itself into believing it is the preeminent nation on the Earth.

    American Exceptionalism is a nationalistic, cultural mental disorder that prevents us as a nation from being able to admit thatr nations do things better than we do.

    How can they? They aren't America.
  3. iJohnHenry macrumors P6


    Mar 22, 2008
    On tenterhooks
    I believe the corrected word represents a typo on your part.

    Pointing out such things is frowned upon, but it substantially changes your point.
  4. Menel macrumors 603


    Aug 4, 2011
    It is not 'free'. Let me help you with that.

    Consider the income and liberties you lose.
  5. osx11 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 16, 2011
    Thanks for catching the mistake!
  6. zin macrumors 6502

    May 5, 2010
    United Kingdom
    Because some Americans equate common endeavour with the words 'nanny' and 'handout'.

    Also freedom. Can't forget that. I feel like a slave living in Europe. :(
  7. osx11 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 16, 2011
    Consider the quality of life you get!

    There's a saying:

    Americans live to work.
    Europeans work to live.

    Having spent over a decade in Europe and over a decade in the US, I can wholeheartedly confirm this statement.


    Are you born in Europe?
  8. iJohnHenry macrumors P6


    Mar 22, 2008
    On tenterhooks
    Big Business doesn't care how you live, just how you work.
  9. zin macrumors 6502

    May 5, 2010
    United Kingdom
    By paying taxes for public services you are creating a large pool of funds in which each citizen contributes a fair share of the costs. If everybody bought each service from a private provider it would cost you more, not only because you have lost the ability to form a collective pool for the vast range of different services or because you have lost the extensive leverage that the government possesses for negotiating costs, but also because the private company would seek to make a profit margin on top of these costs.

    Not only that, a private company generally does not allow people on certain incomes to pay less, or charge more for those with higher incomes, therefore the element of fairness is lost, certainly for the most basic services. And for those with zero active income, such as pensioners / retirees, who wouldn't be able to afford these services, what do you propose you do for these people?

    Leave it to the market to provide everything. I can see that now. "I can afford the ambulance to the hospital but I won't be able to afford the medicine. Tough choice, I guess I'll just walk to the hospital to buy the treatment, despite the fact that I broke my leg."

    I was born in Europe. (That last line in my post, however, was sarcasm).
  10. edk99 macrumors 6502a

    May 27, 2009
    I'm fully capable of taking care of myself. I don't need a nipple from the government for EVERYTHING.
  11. iJohnHenry macrumors P6


    Mar 22, 2008
    On tenterhooks
    Not now. Not ever??

    You are indeed in a fortunate minority.
  12. samiwas macrumors 68000

    Aug 26, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    And you will no doubt hear from someone in this thread some quote from some old guy about giving up liberty for safety or some such.

    Many Americans believe that the only way to live "right" is to get absolutely no help from anyone and do everything on your own. For some, this even comes down to "if you can't make it, you die…sorry". The thought of receiving any sort of help or any sort of common good is considered the antithesis of "being American".

    Many Americans don't want to live to work, but it's the culture pressed upon them by those in power. They are told from day one that the most important thing in life is to work real hard to support yourself, and that no one owes you anything, and that you don't deserve anything. If you work two full-time jobs you are considered a real good hard worker, a true American. If you abandon your family who you see only a couple of hours a week so that you can work to keep food on the table, you are a good man, a true American. If you make a lot of money and find ways to avoid paying taxes, you are a good man, a true American.

    Being American is about rugged individualism and some notion of complete freedom. And part of that freedom means the freedom from such awful things as worker protections and rights, access to universal/affordable upper education, public transportation, and the most horrible of all, universal healthcare. Having these things means that you are not free. But we can shoot each other, and that is the most important right of all, apparently.

    And thus we come back to the quote from the beginning…it's about giving up anything good in order for some feeling of freedom. And I've heard plenty of people say that living in Europe must be awful. They actually believe that Europeans have their speech controlled, that they must be scared all the time because they can't "protect themselves", and that they have few rights. I actually know some people who believe Europeans lives are pretty much controlled.

    What it boils down to is what you see with a lot of people…they realize that what they have isn't very good, so they double down and go even worse to make it appear that they know what they are doing.
  13. osx11 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 16, 2011

    Well for the average American, that line of sarcasm would be reality. They think Europeans are all communists, socialists, and just feed off the government.
  14. G51989 macrumors 68030


    Feb 25, 2012
    NYC NY/Pittsburgh PA

    Well, as far as the fear of " socialism ", it has lots to do with the Cold War, where every single day Americans would hear about the " evil Russian socialists who are going to drop nukes on our freedom and invade our Freedom soil! " In addition to the proxy wars in Vietnam and Korea fuel the hate of anything non American.

    Today you see the extreme right wing in America pushing the " Europe is a failed socialist region with 3rd world conditions ", which many Americans eat up.

    The reason lots of Americans do not like this idea, ties into the whole " Socialism is anti freedom " thing. And it also ties into the fact that lots of Americans are very centered and Greedy, thats why you hear things like " why should my tax money go to help disabled people! They need to pick themselves up by the bootstraps and get a JOB, get out of that wheel chair you disabled *******! "

    As far as affordable education goes, lots of Americans are short sighted and don't think education is very important, and if you can't afford 100,000 dollars for school, you shouldn't go.

    As far as vacations go, there is a cultural thing in America that mostly says " if you don't work till you drop dead, you are weak and a taker. " Keep in mind that this is a country where many workers work over time and stay late with no extra pay, and feel great about it.

    Lots of Americans seem to think that Public transit is a complete waste of money. And that the " free market " can do it better.

    As someone who has spent lots of time in Europe, I can agree that this is probably true.

    Americans do not realize these things generally, I think only around 17% of Americans even own a passport. And many of them have an attitude of " Why would I go spend my money in a socialist country? They all hate American freedom anyway. "

    Lots of them are also convinced that ONLY America is good at anything, they think the rest of the world is living in 3rd world conditions. And that " American way is always the right way, anyone who thinks differently is just a communist "

    This does not represent all Americans, but it does represent a very large number of them.

    Let me put this into perspective for you. There is a pretty big number of people that we can call " American Libertarians and the ' Tea party " who don't want the federal goverment to provide things like healthcare to the poor, job training, education, benefits to the eledery and disabled, they don't even want the Federal goverment to exist, they would rather it is a loose confederation of the 50 states acting as " Mini countries ", they view any type of goverment as Satan on earth.

    Also, many Americans view the " Capitalism " and " Open Free market without goverment interference " as a religion. And worship it.


    What " liberties " do Europeans not have that Americans do have?

    When it comes to Healthcare, the amount paid per person in European countries is about half of What Americans pay. So you actually gain income, not lose it.


    This is completely true.


    This, America as a nation is like someone sitting at a Baseball game, with a big " We're number 1 " foam hand, while their team is losing 3 runs to 9 ;)


    Of course they are! Those lazy Europeans! How dare they take paid days off that they earned! They could be at work! working!!!!!


    I agree with this as well. Americans generally don't get very much time off, and are left with little disposable income after the insane costs of private run healthcare and schooling.

    Keep in mind, Americans are by far the most brainwashed people in the west. Lots of them Worship big business and the allmighty dollar because a news network told them to.

    They've been brainwashed into thinking the following

    1: America is the best at everything
    2: Taxing rich people is bad!
    3: Mega Corperations are people to!
    4: Affordable healthcare? COMMUNISM! AHHHH
    5: Blind military worship
    6: Blind patriotism

    America is also a country where there are lots of people who not only think a " living wage " is a hand out, but that there should be no minimum wage at all, or EPA regulations. Or ANY type business oversight.

    America is also a country where the only people who have any kind of say are the super rich and large business. Elections in America are more a formality than anything. The same people own the federal and most of the state governments. The average person has no voice or say. And I say this as an American.

    And it always upsets people when I say " Hey! At least the Soviets KNEW everything was ********. But Americans are deluded into thinking its ' freedom!!!!! America **** yeah! ' "
  15. Happybunny macrumors 68000

    Sep 9, 2010
    As a fellow European I do wish you would keep quite.;)

    I always fear one day that the “US will come an liberate us”:p
  16. zin macrumors 6502

    May 5, 2010
    United Kingdom
    6AM - You awake from your slumber. You are still alive and a bomb has not exploded in your neighbourhood because the U.S. Department of Defense protects the nation. You know it's 6AM because the U.S. time is accurately determined by various organisations, notably the U.S. Naval Observatory.

    7AM - The heating in your home awakens and your house becomes nice and warm, courtesy of federal and state construction tax breaks for private infrastructure investment, or in some cases outright government investment. The gas and electricity delivered to your home arrives as expected from efficient and reliable power stations constructed with the aid of federal or state tax breaks along with likely research grants courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy.

    8AM - You wake your children and send them off to school, which almost certainly receives grants from both state agencies and the federal Department of Education. Your local government procures a timely bus service for your children.

    9AM - You leave for work in your car. It has gasoline in it because a coordination between government and energy companies ensures that supply is almost always met.

    10AM - You're almost at work and the drive is smooth and safe because the roads were constructed almost extensively with government grants and direct investment by state agencies and/or the U.S. Department of Transportation. You didn't crash and you seldom witness collisions because a traffic management system is operated or procured by your state's transport authority, and your state government ensures that drivers are competent by imposing mandatory testing and licensing.

    11AM - You're finally at work. If you work for a state government or the federal government, you are provided with income to survive. If you work for a private company, you have the peace of mind knowing that the Department of Labor is standing at the side supervising their corporate-employee practices, and the Internal Revenue Service is ensuring they pay their taxes and contribute just like you do.

    12PM - You're hungry and decide to eat a bacon and chicken sandwich with a chocolate bar snack along with a latte from Starbucks. You don't die and manage to survive because the chemicals and ingredients in your food have been tested in chemical labs and approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

    1PM - You're back at work and working away on your project that involves sharing lots of files through an external network over something called the Internet, which the National Science Foundation Network contributed to greatly. This itself received funding from the National Science Foundation, a government agency.

    2PM - Your office hasn't been raided by organised gangs with AK-47s and grenades because the Department of Justice along with local police departments keep one step ahead of the criminals.

    3PM - During your break you get a phone call from a friend in Michigan, but you're on the West Coast. You decide to travel by rail using Amtrak, a publicly-funded service, and book a ticket, courtesy of Richard Nixon's signature in 1970 for a bill that provided infrastructure investment and the opening of the passenger rail market.

    4PM - Your day at work is over because you were only required to work a partial shift today. Your employer doesn't require you to work for 14 hours of the day every day because the Department of Labor is there enforcing regulations for you.

    5PM - You arrive home (you still didn't crash and you arrived in the shortest possible time due to traffic management) and find your mail waiting for you, courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service.

    6PM - You decide to watch some TV, courtesy of communications satellites launched by the U.S. Government.

    7PM - The news anchor says that tensions are rising between the U.S. and Iran. Thankfully, nuclear war is not likely due to negotiations done on behalf of you by the State Department.

    8PM - The sound of airplanes can be heard above your house. The sound of crashes, however, cannot, as the combined efforts of airports, usually state government owned and/or operated, air traffic control, and the regulations imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration ensure smooth management of air traffic.

    9PM - Off to bed you go, ready to wake up at 6AM in the morning, safe and sound.

    If you allowed your government to protect you from improper dismissals at work, to mandate minimum breaks from the workplace that you fairly earned, to fully operate and fund higher education, to operate healthcare, along with other things, I'm sure you wouldn't be using the frankly ungrateful tone that you have done.
  17. citizenzen macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010
    I beg your pardon.

    He's a self-made man.

  18. Technarchy macrumors 604


    May 21, 2012
    The government doesn't give without taking, and not just money either

    On a whole I think most Americans are leery of the real cost of a government program. Not what you pay, but the cost. Every new bureaucracy puts distance between us, the people, and those we elect, and this is an utterly terrible thing to have happen in a Republic. It breeds oligarchs, not democratically elected representation.

    Also, the feds have proven to be inept 99% of the time.
  19. NT1440 macrumors G5


    May 18, 2008
    Wait now, you think our "free market" system hasn't already resulted in an extreme oligarchy?

    Seriously what planet do you live on? Our leaders are millionaires and billionaires (whom we worship). They are as far removed from the public as possible in their views and policies, many of which are directly from corporations anyway.

    This is the kind of thinking that is widespread in the country today, it's the government that is inept, not the corporate leaders who have been in charge of it for decades :rolleyes:
  20. sviato macrumors 68020


    Oct 27, 2010
    HR 9038 A
    Americans don't need all that stuff, they have the AMERICAN DREAM YEAA BAYBAY FREEEEEEEEDOM! :D
  21. iJohnHenry macrumors P6


    Mar 22, 2008
    On tenterhooks
    But it's their Government???

    It is unfortunate that yours does not seem to be.
  22. macquariumguy macrumors 6502a

    Jan 7, 2002
    Sarasota FL
    You left an item off your list.

    - 50% or more individual tax rate

    We're not afraid of socialism, we just don't want to pay for it.
  23. NT1440 macrumors G5


    May 18, 2008
    What is the difference, it ends up actually saving you money. Would you rather pay less and get better quality of life, or have to pick and choose what necessities you can actually afford while always being one accident away from financially ruined?

    I've never understood this argument, WE ARE PAYING MORE IN THIS COUNTRY. But hey as long as it goes to those companies that clearly have our interests at heart right?
  24. citizenzen macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010
    Oscar Wilde could have been talking about Americans in his famous quote about people who know, "the price of everything and the value of nothing."
  25. Renzatic Suspended


    Aug 3, 2011
    Gramps, what the hell am I paying you for?
    See, it's all about choice and freedom. It's better to have the freedom to choose between multiple poor options than be forced to use one good one.

    See, it's not about what benefits me the most, it's about having a modicum of control over something entirely pointless.

Share This Page