Goodbye to rugged American individualism?

February 18, 2009

Bernd Debusmann - Great Debate— Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. —

Shock!! Horror!! The United States is becoming more like Europe! The rugged individualism that makes up part of the country’s self-image may be doomed. Paternalism threatens to throttle enterprise and initiative.

That has been the reaction of Republican leaders to the $787 billion stimulus package President Barack Obama signed this week after a contentious debate that echoed arguments made more than 80 years ago on the eve of the Great Depression.

“We were challenged with the choice of the American system of rugged individualism or the choice of a European system of diametrically opposed doctrines – doctrines of paternalism and state socialism,” Herbert Hoover said in his closing campaign speech for the 1928 presidential elections he won comfortably. The European ideas, he said, undermined the initiative and enterprise that propelled Americans to “unparalleled greatness.”

Fast forward to February 2009 and listen to an updated version of conservative philosophy, expressed by Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s minority leader: “This (stimulus package) paints a picture of the Europeanization of America … and if we take all these measures, we will have made a dramatic move in the direction of turning America into Western Europe.”

Why is this such a dreadful prospect? After all, the United States does not fare particularly well on international comparisons of quality of life. It ranks 15th on the United Nation’s annual Human Development Index which measures such things as life expectancy and standard of living. A similar index compiled a few years ago by the Economist Intelligence Unit and using different factors put the United States in 13th place.

In both surveys, some of the European countries routinely derided as “nanny states” by conservative ideologues scored comfortably ahead of the United States.

Still, conservative talk show hosts dubbed the stimulus bill the European Socialist Act of 2009 – not meant as a compliment — and Newsweek magazine followed up the theme with a cover that carried the headline We Are All Socialists Now and noted inside that “Barack Obama sounds more like the president of France every day.”

It warned that slow economic growth in the United States, which has historically grown faster than Europe, “could kill rugged American individualism.”

Which begs the question to what extent rugged individualism can flourish in a deep recession.


In January alone, almost 600,000 Americans lost their jobs, the biggest monthly drop in 34 years. Over the past year, job cuts totaled 3.6 million. This year alone, 2.4 million people are expected to lose their homes, according to the Center for Responsible Lending, a consumer advocacy group which tracks foreclosures. In the next four years, that figure is estimated to climb to 8 million.

More than 44 million Americans lack health insurance, the highest number in any industrialized country, and another 38 million are under-insured.

In these bleak surroundings, European-style social safety nets look attractive even to rugged individualists, particularly those affected by the downturn. Even before the present crisis, polls showed growing support for government programs to help those in need. A 2007 Pew survey, for example, showed 69 percent supporting the notion that government should take care of people who can’t care for themselves.

Unfettered capitalism this is not. In the Internet debate prompted by Republican warnings of the impending Europeanization of America, one commentator asked: “Does this mean that the half million Americans losing their jobs each month can count on having health care, public transportation, quality education and a public safety net?”

That depends on whether and how fast the stimulus package takes effect and allows Obama to translate promises into actions. Health care reform is high on his list, as are plans to overhaul America’s creaking transportation infrastructure, make college education more affordable, and provide a safety net for the poor and the unemployed.

Call it Europeanization or a 21st century version of the 1930s New Deal designed to end the Great Depression (economists still argue over whether it did or not), it is a sharp turn from the conservative philosophy that government is the problem and can’t be the solution. That was the basic plank of the “Reagan revolution” of small government, low taxes, de-regulation and a belief that the markets know best.

Numbers confirm that the United States is coming closer to Europe: In the late 1990s, U.S. government spending amounted to around 34 percent of gross domestic product, compared with 48 percent in Europe, according to the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. By next year, stimulus spending is expected to bring the U.S. figure to around 40 percent and 47 percent in Europe. The gap is shrinking.

But in comparisons between America and Europe in an age of economic crisis, one element is conspicuously absent: social unrest. Greece, France, Bulgaria and Iceland have been shaken by riots, mass protests and strikes. No sign of that in the United States – yet.

Are rugged individualists less prone to protests and riots? Or is it just a matter of time?

— You can contact the author at For previous columns, click here. —


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Even if the stimulus plan works, it will only be an over priced band-aid covering a serious wound. I’m not sure it is wise to leverage our children’s’ futures for a quick fix, especially since there are no proposals in the mix to heal the overall economy in the future. This legislation is incredibly shortsighted, and equally selfish – sort of like a wife asking her husband to fix a leaky pipe and, instead of doing the job right, he merely patches it up with a million dollar roll of duck tape. Instead of quick fixes, we need to focus on an overhaul of our over taxed and over regulated marketplace, otherwise, we will leave a European-style economy to our children and grandchildren – 60% of their income going to the government with very little return on investment.

Posted by Matthew L. | Report as abusive

The “Nanny” and socialist sytems of Europe are constantly in question. Why shoudl America bow to overly liberal ideas in order to conform to social experiments that are not proved to be stable or feasible. in England and other socialized healthcare systems you can be denied care for smoking related illness if you smoked. the waiting times for visits can be excruciating.
How is it wrong for a system to demand that you look after your self?
As for employment, how is the rest of the world fairing better? in Italy the employment is stagnant, and employees can not be let go for many reasons, given a life time employment option.
Few systems are perfect, but a system that forces you to do for yourself is a darn sight better than social safety net that become a social cradle.

Posted by sean parker | Report as abusive

It’s not worth the effort trying to puzzle through Republican bloviating. Nowadays, theirs is a platform based purely on irrationality — mainly irrational fear.

Posted by Skinner | Report as abusive

This is a very insightful and timely article. “Rugged Individualism” in the United States is really just another term for “Oppression.” It fits in well with elitist thinking in the sense that there are a lot of people who seem to identify with the dream that “They too, will be rich some day.” But, of course, the question is, “At whose expense?” Well, even if it is at their own expense they seem to be O.K. with it. This seems really dumb. What about people trying to just get along socially, using the country’s resources to provide economic stability and good physical health care to all walks of life. What about just having a income tax for education and all schools given the same amount of money to educate their children? If this is socialism then so be it, but it seems only like common sense. Today, our economy has collapsed because some people were so greedy there was never enough. How much do you need? And, can you really be happy when other people are suffering? Apparently, some people are. Well, if there is a definition for oppression, then that is it. Just one more thing: some how the Europeans have managed in the process of their socialization to bring “beauty” into their lives and in their surroundings, both architecturally and in their landscapes, while we are making garbage dumps that will soon be their own named mountain range. We should take the time now to think and change our lives. This article is thoughtful and I would like to see more articles like this. Thank you.

Posted by Reuben Ryder | Report as abusive

It seems the main arguement here is that acting more like Western Europe isn’t a bad thing because their countries rank higher. How would passing this bill improve the US’s standing on the Human Development Index?

Posted by Drewbie | Report as abusive

The United States is becoming more like Europe in many ways. The U.S. is getting older and more and more Americans realize something that Europeans have had centuries to accept, namely, that the government should provide a safety net for individuals. Certainly, there are many examples of how people have abused this in Europe and in the US, but it is immoral for governments to do nothing in the face of impending hardships for their citizens. The Republicans party is a party of the past. They are fighting battles that were decided 80 years ago. We understand now that free market capitalism is a great engine for lifting the living standards of the masses, but the government must also provide the necessary stewardship of the economy. This means that in times of crisis, the government must step in to care for those who have fallen through the cracks.

Posted by Davion | Report as abusive

This was all set in motion by socialist (merely a nicer-sounding word for communist) policies that relaxed financial rules to enable the irresponsible to get into serious debt with no strings attached under the guise of equal opportunity.

I’m not usually one for conspiracies but I have pondered the possibility that this outcome was the aim of communists who despise anyone who strives to better themselves.

As long as Americans don’t again succumb to the misguided ideals about helping losers & their offspring dictate policies America will rise back to its rightful place as defender of individual freedoms.

Posted by Andy | Report as abusive

About the standard of living, I just wanto to say that the statistic is affected by the inmigrants. They start with nothing and gradually improve their condition.

Europe is very much more agresive with inmigration, foreign, pour, people is not allowed there, so their rank may look better in somke cases.

I am sure that this number does not reflect what US inmigrants say about US and what european ingirants say about europe.

Posted by Francisco | Report as abusive

To answer your question, it’s just a matter of time.
The rugged individualism of the Wild West has been supplanted by the individualism of capitalists who wanted to turn U.S. and global finance into an unregulated, economic Wild West. They were pretty successful. Both the post Civil War and the Great Depression economies spawned a lot of outlaws and now the U.S. is about to get another taste of it as the number of disenfranchised citizens grows larger.
Our corporations wanted essentially unregulated global capitalism and we’re living the results now having generated yet another period of economic instability that will undoubtedly grow the world’s largest prison population.
Given the U.S. mortgage meltdown, I don’t think our “partners” in the world economy are going to have any more of it. We can either get economically civilized or go it alone like the faux individualists many of our corporate bosses pretended to be until they needed help and ran begging to the people for tax dollars.
We can call it socialism or we can call it a nanny state or call it anything else we wish but those are nothing more than political labels meant to garner votes.
The way I see it, we’re either going to have to start “civilizing” America or be isolated from the rest of the world. We may even lose our reputation as the model of world finance. If we haven’t already.

Posted by Ra | Report as abusive

I don’t want to be European. My grandfather came from Europe and if I wanted to I could go back where I still have family. Let me tell you it ain’t what you think it is. They may live long etc. but it isn’t anything to be copied. If it were so great why do most American’s have families that left there to come here?

Instead I would like to live in place where it is up to me to make it or fail. I like the idea that it is all riding on my shoulders and that no government is going to come and bail me out because at the end of the day if I make it it will give me a feeling worth more than I would ever have from the government saving my sorry behind. Having the freedom to fail is one of the great American freedoms.

Plus it was the rugged individualist who saved Europe’s fanny in WWII and has kept them safe until today. That is right with out the US the European “Union” would be the Soviet Union right now.

Posted by Bill H | Report as abusive

You miss the point entirely. Capitalism is not good for the sole reason that it delivers a high quality of life. That is merely a byproduct. Capitalism is good because it is the only moral option.

A high quality of life funded using money stolen from the highest achievers is not something a moral human should desire.

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive

Does American really have individualism? Please explain in which way you think American ever have individualism in common life and business. Especially, culture?

Posted by nina | Report as abusive

I’m sorry, but I believe the author is slipping into the same baloney that precipitated this mess – namely that the argument has been defined by some sort of right/left dichotomy. The truth is that it is about making good decisions by competent people at all levels of government, with proper checks and balances. That is how you run anything well, from companies to governments. Giving a crap about what Marx or Adams said years ago and how it may or may not reflect on politics today generates the kind of arguments that let the evil people run amok and raid the cupboards bare while the general population worries about non-issues. Small government, low taxes, less regulation, etc, are all non-sensical arguments when taken at the macro level.
The key argument that this article does head towards is this:
what are the fundamentals to a great society, and what is the best method of achieving this?

Posted by James Perly | Report as abusive

God forbid America should become more like Europe! This country is founded on fierce independence and opportunity. I am sure there are factions in this country that would like nothing better than to have a paternalistic government. Namely those already in power! We need to avoid this like the plague which is just what it is. When paternalism is in place the human spirit and will are significantly diminished.

Posted by Har Dass | Report as abusive

Under the Bush era, actions were not taken to keep the house in order. Now, the new steward of the people has to
clean up the mess. All Republicans want to do is cut taxes
but this won’t provide immediate help to the unemployed. Why can’t the whining mainstream republicans get rugged and embrace the housecleaning project set in motion by our leader?
Rugged individuals don’t whine but join together as they did when the founding fathers and pioneers pulled together to form the country. We are still rugged but a house divded does not stand. Is Madoff our shining example of a rugged individualist? Or the Wallstreet Ceos
of the failing institutions? As John Stossel would say, “Give me a break!”.

Posted by Joe Giovanetti | Report as abusive

The truth is whether you wish to believe it or not, we have entered into the era of the end. The Bible speaks in the last days of a One World Governement when they say, “Peace and Safety, at last! Then sudden destruction will come upon them” That is exactly where were heading. No more recession? Global Economy. Helping our world’s citizens? Universal Healthcare. Violence and Disagreements? Tolerance and Inclusion. Ultimately, all of these plans will fall like a house of cards. Government isn’t the answer either. Jesus is! And very soon we are going to see a dynamic shift in the world as we know it. Something is going to shake humanity. Then you will see who still reigns, the Lord GOD.

Posted by The Herald | Report as abusive

Give me a damn break.

The Americanization of American has not worked for the last 8 years. Call it what you want, but a new approach to the curent mess is needed. Also, perpetuaing the myth of rugged individualism is not helpful given the fact that the U.S. has been lead by a man who considered himself a rugged individual. W, is the supreme example that rugged individualism should be Europeanized.

Posted by francisco | Report as abusive

Unlike those readers who will buy into this Europeans live better nonsense, I have actually traveled around most of the United States and Europe and I’m not buying it for a minute. In the United States, the average annual GDP per capita is $48,000. In Europe it’s $33,800. That’s 30 percent less.

You can buy a lot of health insurance for that $14,000 but you don’t really need to. I’m 54 and live in one of the most expensive Zip Codes in Southern California. I have a $5 million private health insurance policy on myself and two $5 million private health insurance policies on my wife for which I pay less than $400 per month total. Health insurance is actually an amazing bargain. People just don’t want to pay today for something they might need tomorrow.

You can also buy a lot of gasoline (and at about a quarter of the price you pay in Europe). Perhaps that is one reason why the United States has 765 cars per 1,000 people (including children to young to drive) while the U.K. has 426.

Electricity is cheaper in the U.S. as well. Air-conditioning is ubiquitous in the U.S. even among the so-called poor. Hundreds if not thousands of Europeans die each year from the summer heat. In 2003, the total number of heat related deaths topped 19,000.

You call this a better standard of living? Please.

Let me make this real simple for you. Here is what is really happening in America.

If you are a political party, you are in business to win elections. To do that, you need voters.

If you are the party of say the long distance runners, you want to create more long distance runners, either by importing them or by influencing voters already here to become long distance runners.

If you are the party of the rich, you want to create more rich voters. You do this by removing impediments to work, saving, investment and production. You lower tax rates and reduce the burden of government.

If you are the party of the poor, you want to create more poor voters. You do this by increasing impediments to work, saving, investment and production. You raise tax rates and increase the burden of government. If this still doesn’t create enough poor voters to solidify your powerbase, you import more poor people and put them on a path to citizenship or just register them to vote anyway. And if this still doesn’t create enough poor voters, you finally just pay people outright to stay dependent on government, which ensures that they never get ahead.

The path to financial independence has an early fork in the road. One way leads to dependence, one to independence. In order to qualify for government handouts, you need to present and document yourself as a victim. In order to get ahead, you need to accept the axiom that “if it’s going to be, it’s up to me”.

These two positions, states of mind really, are diametrically opposed. It is virtually impossible to hold both concepts of oneself simultaneously. This is why you can choose to get by or you can choose to get ahead but you can’t choose both. Of course, you can always go back and revisit that choice. And that is why the welfare reform of the 1990s worked in terms of weaning people off the welfare rolls and onto a different, more responsible, more productive and, ultimately, more independent path.

In repealing welfare reform as well as encouraging illegal immigration, motor voter laws and the right to vote without providing even basic identification, and by constantly pushing for higher taxes, more government intrusion and intervention into business as well as more borrowing and spending, Democrats are simply doing everything in their power to make it easier to get by and harder to get ahead. They’re hoping that when millions of voters and potential voters reach or revisit that fork in the road, they will choose dependency.

What’s so difficult to understand about that? After all, they are the party of the poor. They need to create as many poor people (and as few rich) as possible.

Posted by Randell Young | Report as abusive

‘Europeanization’ covers a whole range of different political and economic systems.

Look at France. Most Europeans think that France is too centralistic (everything gets decided in Paris, practically no saying of local governments) and has a social benefit system that is far too wasteful.

On the other hand, take northern European states like Sweden or Denmark. They have very high tax rates for European standards, but the government covers a lot and people are very satisfied up there. High standard of living with big government.

Then, take Switzerland. Taxes are low there for European standards, but there are nonetheless very good infrastructure, public education (primary to universities) and social benefits. High standard of living with small government.

So the question Americans should ask themselves should not be: How big shall our government be, compared to the European standard?

It should rather be: What do we want the government to cover, then what is the optimal amount of taxes to finance this public service? Governments can be very big and wasteful and inefficient (France), but they can also be very big and efficient (Sweden, Denmark). Or they can be pretty small and efficient (Switzerland).

Posted by Dan Wunderli | Report as abusive

James Perly said: “Small government, low taxes, less regulation, etc, are all non-sensical arguments when taken at the macro level.”

This is only true if you value comfort and absence of pain over freedom. Freedom is not for the faint of heart, for we must confront alongside the light the shadows of our liberties, and the inevitable darkness that results from the freedom of evil alongside the freedom of good. The free man must pay daily the price of his liberty; the comfortable man must only obey.

If we only debate which options will make our lives the most comfortable, our civil liberties will slowly vanish over the next century, for liberties by their nature cause discomfort. I personally would rather live naked in a desert eating scorpions for the rest of my life as a free man than suckle from the teat of mother government, like a poor defenseless child who can’t feed himself, but that is a choice we all must make for ourselves.

Posted by Chris W | Report as abusive

Bill H: And when you or others fail, do we pick you up or let you starve????

Posted by Dale Kooyman | Report as abusive

This Country was created by The Constitution of The United States. It was brought to life by LEADERS and stakeholers who put everything they had into it. This document speaks to the best part of us. I suggest all you people read it again. It wants us to determine the value and effectiveness of OUR government. If the government has not followed the principals set forth, it calls on us, from 230 years ago, to CHANGE THE GOVERNMENT.

Posted by George W. | Report as abusive

February, 18th 23:28 GMT.
It amuse me to read different reaction about the article.
Whether America will nanny state or remain rugged individualist typed society is not urgent at the moment for debating.
Economic damages done by unregulated and unfettered speculators to feed their greed and to flatter their egos is the main reason for this sorry state.
In fact it has logically proved that Unfettered capitalism to dangerous for human society.
What is there to think about merits and demerits about capitalism under the present circumstances.
We should be concentrating on what bankers are thinking and planning to do about pulling out recession fast and soon!!
This should be our top priority.Any system of economic principles whether Capitalism or Socialism that helps pull us out of recession will ultimately be proved successful economic principle and will be cherished by all.

Posted by Jagdish Joshi | Report as abusive

Don’t worry what the Republicans in this country say! – We stop listening to them months ago! :-)

Posted by Marc Glez | Report as abusive

At every stage of American history, Americans have always been at their core a practical people, not an ideological people. Ideology, whether Western European socialist ideology or homegrown neoconservative ideology, is really inimical to the American spirit, which in many ways remains the spirit of the family farmer. In the end, Americans want to be able to follow leaders who appear to be offering something that will work, not something that is ideologically correct. This, and only this, is the source of President Obama’s popularity. Those politicians, especially in the House of Representative, who are exercising themselves to take a stand against him sound (to me) like they are talking only to themselves and not to the majority of Americans.

Posted by Bob | Report as abusive

Here are some points you might consider in favor of America’s emphasis on the individual, but you might as well refer to the founding fathers, the reasons aren’t much different, only the players are. First of all, we don’t believe that the excess fruits of our labors belong to the state. And that has worked well for us, and the world. We’ve defeated the villains; we’ve educated your people; we’ve paid for your defense; we’ve developed leading technologies. We became the strongest, richest nation in the world. And we did this while passing only 10 to 20 percent on average during the 20th century of our GDP through the government’s hands. This nation respects the right of the individual to protect himself, with lethal force if necessary, rather than sacrifice himself for the falacy of the greater good. We are the hardest working nation on the planet. In fact, while our nation carried to load, Europe became soft, fat, and complacent, while your governments preyed upon their citizen’s wealth (currently 50 to 55% of GDP is claimed by European states) to pass to their blueblood friends and family members. We enabled Europe to pursue leisurely lifestyles, park-like settings, transit systems, and then, when a villain shows up on the world landscape, we take care of them for you. Remember Yugoslavia? Yugoslavia could have beaten, or at least fought to a draw, the best armies of Europe. Germany was shaking in her boots. Europe is nothing without the United States, can’t you see? I wouldn’t relish in our difficulties if I were you. To become European is to become weak; a has-been; to have settled; to have abdicated. Watership Down. Becoming European is our country’s greatest fear. Unfortunately, we have a European minded president that aspires to that vision and is mortgaging our nation’s future. We have been fooled. Hopefully our people will soon wake up. Long Live Liberty!

Posted by Dennis | Report as abusive

‘We have met the enemy and he is us!’ Canada’s is doing great!

Posted by Magic Dragon | Report as abusive

Yup, I’m a rugged individualist Amurrican.

But in return for “europeanization,” i.e centralization of many elements
of our financial system, would we get not only a return to a healthy
economic state but also
+ good schools?
+ womb-to-tomb health care?
+ highways repaired within a reasonable time after pot holes appear?
+ more than two weeks’ vacation a year?
+ a sensible length of paid maternity and paternity leave with a
guarantee of return to our original jobs?
+ conservation of our artistic heritage?
+ subsidies of our musical and dramatic arts?

If so, I’ll urge my senators and representative in the House to vote for

Posted by S. Klee | Report as abusive

Westerners,particularly americans, are:
eating more than producing;
fukking,dancing,drinking and whatever else 100%;
work zero%. So what do you expect? Now see the economy is
in trillions without having to work !30 years ago there
were hardly any billionaires to be heard about; now there
are plenty, thanks to wasteful spending??
US seem to living off the world and yet projecting image
that it is a saviour of the world and helping.
Man,get the FOOH

Posted by jjmk4546 | Report as abusive

I’m am an American and I have been living in Europe for the past 14 years. As an American I still balk and twitch at the forced compliance that the various European social systems I encounter impose. I also see the amazing benefits that can be realized when something as massive and well financed as “A Government” takes responsibility for it’s peoples well-being. There is an exploitavie nature to free markets that only benefit the top of the food chain, and the top of the food chain will always resist what they see as encroachment into there profit zone. That exploitive nature puts corporate profit before health and well being of the individual. I have always seen that the only way to a strong society is through strong individuals and individualism. To have storng individuals you need healthy and safe individuals. The GOP cries “Socialism” when they are actually saying, “That’s our profit zone”. I enjoy my 100% health care for $65.00 per month.

Posted by Doc Ellis | Report as abusive

People still can’t distinguish between economic and social system. Democracy is still working, its the Capitalism that’s broken. Well… that’s not true either because what we currently have is not a Capitalism… nobody has capital but mountain of debt. If we actually go back to Capitalism, it would actually work.
Ethics… has disappeared. Reagan was the beginning of the end with his stupid trickle down economy and “market knows best” BS. We should all thank Reagan for Bernie Madoff and Stanford. With ethics gone, we have no option but to rely on government regulation and oversight. Is that socialism? Who cares how you label it as long as it works.
If nothing else, please adopt the metric system.

Posted by Brian Choi | Report as abusive

I’ve felt for quite a few years now that maybe the Europeans had some good ideas when it comes to taking care of their citizens. Until recently I didn’t have medical or vision insurance, that’s why I’ve been wearing the same pair of glasses since 2000. In the next few days I will finally have new glasses.

If it weren’t for a couple of public institutions I wouldn’t have a job now. One of those institutions was the Workforce Center and the other was the public library. Without them I wouldn’t have had access to the internet to submit applications, resumes or take the necessary tests. Some of those Republican congressman really are clueless.

Posted by Brian Bigelow | Report as abusive

Chris W,
You sir, have only proven my point.

‘Rugged Individualism’ is meaningless and pointless. The concept has nothing to do with the running of a good government, or what resources should be delivered to whom and when. These are serious questions with very different answers depending on what particular situation we are currently looking at.

Outliers is a great book that helps dispel the myth of the ‘self made man’. I personally always thought that this myth was the perfect excuse to treat poor people shabbily – if we are fully responsible for our own destinies, then others poverty is fully their own fault, and is no responsibility of mine.

At the end of the day, it’s not rich vs poor, or capitalists vs communists, or individualists vs nanny staters – none of these dichotomies make any sense outside of pubs. When you get down to the micro level, where real decisions are made, you have to have strategy, best practices in place, checks and balances, and most important of all; smart and talented people – all trying to make the best fit of limited resources to unlimited needs. And yes, some people need a kick in the butt to be productive, but others need a helping hand. And these people may switch positions relative to where they are in life.

Life is hard, and life is complicated, and as nice and hollywood as these distinctions are, they really belong only in pulp fiction.

Posted by James Perly | Report as abusive

As a citizen of the United Kingdom I find it hilarious how completely most Americans that have posted comments here misunderstand the way government works in most European states.

Firstly, Socialism Communism. Log onto Wikipedia, or, if you have some strange Republican notion that it has been written by the ‘elitist liberal media’ then dig out an old encyclopaedia, and actually READ the definitions of socialism and communism.

Secondly – MATTHEW L, 60% of my income DOES NOT go to the government with ‘very little return on investment’, and, even though around 30% of my $25,000 equivalent salary does go to the government, this covers my healthcare provision, unemployment benefit when I am out of work, (contrary to what the newspapers in the UK state) excellent and affordable public transport, affordable loans for higher education and more. In Scandinavia where the tax rates are even higher (close to 50%), they enjoy one of the highest standards of living – right across the population – in the world. FAR higher than in the US.

Those who believe in unfettered capitalism often talk at length about how the proceeds of growth ‘trickle down’, that the best way to increase the individual’s standard of living is hard graft in a completely free marketplace. This is (quite obviously if you actually look at what takes place in the real world – not in some fictional ‘America’ you like to believe exists) a fallacy. The motive of corporations is to increase profits.

In response to ANDY – it was not the ‘commie conspiracy to break the economy by applying for loans that they full-well knew they could not pay off’ that broke the system, it was the greed of those bankers and mortgage lenders who were paid bonuses based on the number of deals they closed, irrespective of how likely those loans were to be eventually paid off. Where has all the money gone? Into the pockets of rich individuals, the same believers in deregulated markets. Why do they favour deregulation? Because it allows them to ‘suck’ money out of the economy. These financial institutions do not exist to add value to the economy. They perform no ‘work’ to generate wealth. They generate wealth by speculating, and by encouraging market volatility. And then, when the plates can no-longer be kept spinning in the air, the classic plea of the big bankers “we can’t be allowed to fail, you will all be screwed”, and yet again, privatisation of profits and socialisation of losses.

That is why in critical fields, that in Europe are referred to as ‘Public services’, fields that are considered essential to the quality of life of the public, such as public transport, healthcare, education, power generation and key utilities, it has been demonstrated that state-run services perform better. They do not perform better when the metric by which you evaluate them is COST, or profit, but when the metric is ‘QUALITY OF SERVICE’, they are superior. The reason is simple – motive. The state-run services are there to provide a service, for the benefit of the populace, paid for by the populace. The privately run services are there, first and foremost, to make more money. Where nationalised industries in the UK have been privatised, quality and availability of service have decreased.

You rarely hear the less well-off talking about the ‘trickling down’ of the proceeds of growth. And although some on here say it, I honestly don’t believe that many people would be happier free, free to starve.

Posted by seb sikora | Report as abusive

Dennis, posting at 7:55 GMT, is the most intelligent, grounded individual reading this article. He is the only person who has a firm grasp on what it means to be self sufficient and provide for one’s own well being, whatever that takes. He is the only person who hasn’t sighted revisionist history to support his opinion and he’s the only person who sees a problem with healthy, hard working people, like us, forking over a goodly portion of their hard earned salaries to “lift up the downtrodden”, whomsoever that may be, when those people have not done anything to deserve it. For you see, he is the only person reading this article who understands that “the government” is US. The American citizenry. WE are the ones who will spend our treasure financing the lifestyles of those who can’t or won’t work, not some unseen, all powerful national entity that simply manufactures money out of thin air. He knows, as do I, that WE are the people who pay for all those wonderfully European social programs. That’s why I wonder why either of us are reading this ridiculous socialist crap.

Posted by Orionsbow | Report as abusive

What kind of a name is “Bernd” anyway? Might we have one of those European intellectual interlopers in our midst as we speak?

Posted by Winchester73 | Report as abusive

The rationalization for Rugged Individualism disappears quickly when one thinks about disappearing jobs, high cost of education and ridiculous medical costs. It is a feel-good concept when times are good. But, when times go bad even the giant corporations run to the government for a bailout. These big insurance companies have triggered (to some extent) the turn of events.

Example: If one wants to buy a pair of spectacles without insurance, then the minumum cost for a decent pair is $100. The frame is made in China and shouldnt cost more than $5 (cheap plastic or simple metallic). Why are prices bumped up 20x? Why are companies charging extra money for something that was manufactured at $1? $100 is the montly income for many people in the world. Insurance companies charge a dear premium from the customers and sellers charge a dear price from them. People who have insurance dont feel the jacked up price, but the unfortunate ones land up paying $100 for something that shouldnt be more than $5 or $10. This applies to doctors, dentists and almost everything else. Prices are jacked up several times.

Posted by Sharad Yadav | Report as abusive

Dale Kooyman: What do you mean by ‘starve’.

If you starve, then go do the hard jobs.
Remember, 30 mil Mexicans who work hard everyday, risking their lives coming to the US to do those hard jobs. Are they ‘starved’ ?

It’s sick that a lot of people think being born in the US (or being a naturalized US citizen) is a privilege that God gave them. So that they can do a mediocre job and hope to live a dream life in big house (with sub prime loan money), driving SUV (on a 5 year finance) , going to a poor tropical countries for vacation every year (on credit card), etc…

As the above is the current version of ‘the American dream’. No doubt the whole economy is collapsing.

The real version of ‘the American dream’ should be that people work hard and earn a good life (just like the first generation immigrants).

It’s also sick that we have people partying their lives into a mess during youth time and demanding the government to deliver the good life, bailing them out both medically and financially later in life (or live the twisted version of the American dream I mentioned above, it’s just as bad)

Posted by Tony | Report as abusive

I had thought there was a general consensus that while the New Deal did not end the Depression, it helped reduce its effects on many individuals, and that what did end the Depression was World War II.

Since wars are destructive and not productive, though, that means that governments could end depressions if they thought it was worth the effort.

Posted by John Savard | Report as abusive

If it’s possible for entities to be “too big to fail”, such as Wal-Mart & Ford, then is that to say government is too big to fail also? The reason economies keep crashing throughout history is because a monetary fund is not a stable concept to base an economy or civilization around. Similar to building a card castle with bent cards every time. Government has outlived it’s purpose in life. Civilizations can’t grow without restrictions with the government constantly holding our hands, reaching into our pockets, and peeping into our lives. Money and government are not too big to fail, and they have failed. Americanizaqtion, Europeanization, it’s all the same hierarchy. One person cannot be an equally effective representative for 3 billion + people. The global economy is spiraling the toilet and we must clench our dying global civilization, unite, and push back the oppressing governments.

Posted by Dan W. | Report as abusive

“Rugged Individualism” is some notion straight out of a Hollywood Clint Eastwood cowboy movie. Or John Wayne liberating Iwo Jima.

What rugged individualism? America has become the Instant Gratification Society binging on cheap money that has woken up, the morning after, with a pounding migraine. Nobody is shedding tears over what has happened to America.

They had it coming. Especially for their consummate cupidity that foisted fraudulent financial engineering upon the world.

Posted by Paul Harris | Report as abusive

As one patriot said a long time ago, when this country was under attack by people who wanted to put an end to our “individualism”……
“Give me Liberty or give me death’!
But there again, Mr. Debusmann, I don’t guess you and the rest of the socialist underground would understand that, would you?!

Posted by Sandy St.John | Report as abusive

If you want the security of a safety net, you ought to go to a country that already offers the security of a safety net. The United States is the competitive country that drives the innovation used around the world. We ought to leave it as is, let the weak fail, and encourage this competition. For those who can’t hack it, we offer Europe.

Bust is the driving force of the boom in economics. It is these busts that not only provide the cheap capital (as in equipment) that provides profit for the successors. These profits are then re-invested in the spirit of competition and innovation until competition drives the profits to zero and the cycle starts over. By putting a safety net under the bust, we are preventing this progression from taking place.

We should open all borders, not only to let the hard-working immigrants in, but to also allow the fat cats, who want their entitlement, out.

Greed is good. Investors will stop taking unnecessary risks when they learn they will not be bailed out. Stakeholders will be less affected when they start educating themselves as opposed to being sheep. These are the hard lessons of life that cannot be learned under a nanny state.

Posted by Adrien | Report as abusive

Excellent article and very very interesting posts. Obviously an emotional bullseye. America is in a deep identity crisis, much like the UK and Western Europe after WWII. China is gradually assuming the role America had in the last century — the world’s dominant industrial power and Creditor-in-Chief of the World. Just as the dollar overtook the pound as world reserve currency, perhaps one day, the Chinese yuan will do the same. In this toggle of roles, China regards America much like America regards Europe — as something to measure its own progress against, to admire while you’re on the way up and to despise once you’ve overtaken them. For America, China’s (re)ascendance as a great power is not nearly as phychologically frustrating as the feeling of being overtaken by the Europeans on the way down.

Posted by Benyamin | Report as abusive

Why is this socialism so bad? Easy, If you accept the Kant, Hegel, Marx based German philosophical ideals, you have lost the freedom allowed by true Christianity and the US constitution.

For over 200 years, this country has been able to maintain that specific relation ship and freedom. Now those bent of philosophy are twisting the United states toward its ever evil claws.

We are the last remaining nation in the entire world that had not accepted German idealistic, Greek based philosophy. Now we are being forced by our Congress and President to embrace their false beliefs that a world bound the world together under socialists international and in their opinion eliminate any opposition between ethnic groups, countries and religious organizations.

This is the same idealistic one world order that is spoken of in Revelation, and we are the last to be assimilated into it as a nation. It is the most destructive force known to man, it has gobbled up in its wake every individual and individualism. It has removed the private ownership and private individualism and replaced it with the tyranny of State control and forced the free individual into a comradeship in the community.
It will turn quickly into a one world governmental system under the control of the United Nations.

The individual and the nation has turned their back on the God of Israel and placed their faith and trust in an ideology of State
They turn to the State for their solutions
They turn to the State for their well being
They turn to the State for their food and shelter
The State has just become their god, and its tyrannical leaders their messiah
They worship the great State and bow to its leaders as if gods

All that is left to do is wash “in God we trust” from all of our currency and public buildings and places. We have been so successful spitting in his face in the educational system, I expect the fairness doctrine will require that churches which teach Christianity also be required to teach Islam. Or why don’t we do like the Russians did when they switched to the German ideology based on philosophy and just nail the doors of the churches shut?

Posted by Bobby Hawk | Report as abusive

Another commentator of this article said that US leads innovation of the world. However, UK, Canada, New Zeland and Costa Rica have, according to health economy experts the most advanced health systems in the world.

I was talking to an American principal of a school recently and he says that Costa Rican students are achieving better grades in international math championships and that makes him feel frustrated.

How good is innovation, if it does not benefit population? Costa Rica is a third world country, by the way…

This US principal said that the situation of many americans is desperate, and he can see it at school. And he believes that to get out of the crisis, US will have to go against many beliefs and behaviors that led US to be in this crisis. Denial of problems is not an option anymore. If you hide problems, they won’t be solved, they will grow bigger. Not my words, but his.

Posted by Pablo | Report as abusive

“The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works…”

-Barak Obama, inauguration speech 01/20/2009

Posted by Reader | Report as abusive

Yeah, American pride is taking a knock – and the smarter of the leaders admit it. Such as Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence, who told a hearong on February 13: “The widely held perce[ption that excesses in US financial markets and inadequate regulation were responsible (for the global crisis) has increased criticism of free market policies which may make it difficult to achieve long-time US objectives such as the opening of national capital markets…It has already increased questioning of US stewardship of the global economy and the international financial structure.”

US stewardship? That’s yesterday’s story.

Posted by Rufus | Report as abusive

It’s about what you call individualism:

As a soldier (e.g somebody who kills other people for the “benefit” of other people for money) you are an individual when you kill your counterpart with a knife instead of a bullet.

As a clerk you are an individual when you drink your coffee without sugar, and your boss with sugar & milk.

The days are due that so called individualism (which never existed) will be a reason to see (or hear) dead man walking.

Do you individuals not see that USA is going down the drain in a year or less, and taking the rest of the so called civilised world with it? what is the point of being individual than?

What a non issue.

Oh by the way, when you didn’t notice it yet:
I’m an european

Posted by Me | Report as abusive

I am a democrat and the Government does not know best. It’s not capitalism if the Government regulates it at the rate we are going. This citizens of this great country are loosing freedom at the same rate Hugo is taking it from his people. People who support this article are the people who don’t want childrens sports to have a winner or loser because we may cause emotional trauma to the child. Teaching competition and feeling pain from a mistake (financial or physical) is the best way to improve. Less regulation and tax (yes I am a democrat) will again allow this country to flourish.

Posted by Andrew | Report as abusive

Mr. Choi, I agree that most people here in the US who do not have a college degree seem to blur economic systems with political systems.

For those of you, who think this is a democratic society, think again. You live in a Republic where the people you vote into office are not obliged to vote the way you want or even the way the majority of their district wants but the way their contributors want. Why, because you have allowed them to believe that it does not matter what you want as long as they have enough money they can persuade you to think their way. Why you really don’t even vote for the President. The Electoral College elects the President. Even though this nation has had the ability and the technology to move toward a more democratic political system, such a move is deemed counter productive given the level of intelligence of the common citizen. That is not me speaking but various Washington Think Tanks. Me, I am for democracy and all the responsibility it brings to each of us but, I won’t get into that now. Let’s just say that I am a Constitutionalist who thinks the people are smart enough or will be in a very short time if given the responsibility.

For those of you who think this country economic system is capitalism, think again. We are a hybrid. Pure capitalism does not work. Neither does any other economic system. Capitalism must have market expansion to survive. No market is infinite. The current condition is a prime example. Capitalism left unchecked leads to oligopolies and monopolies which destroys the entire theory of Free Market economics. The Auto Industry is a case in point. The US auto industry was(is) an oligopoly in this country until Japan broke into the market and when that happened suddenly our cars (on average) started lasting over 100k miles. Look at Chrysler and the slant six engines. It was known for lasting over 100k and they stopped production and when Japan moved in it took Iacocca to slap them upside the head and start producing them again. Today we have the TBTFs. That smacks of Capitalism gone wild and we are feeling the pain. I agree with those that say we should have let them fail. I think the TARP and the Stimulus packages should have pumped money into the social individual safety nets and started a WPA style job program and opened Civil Service to absorb those displaced. This would have allowed the markets to adjust while the government protected the workers of those markets. Let’s face it, it is not the workers that took the risks and made the big bucks for all those years. But this government decided to bail out the big boys and go light on the little guy. Maybe if this government would have not allowed these TBTFs in the first place and would have had better watchdogs monitoring the creation of questionable financial instruments maybe we would not be in the fix we are currently in.

Now this is how the two relate. Guess who runs Congress? Not the workers who just happen to be the majority of the voters. That’s right the very small minority called the Wealthy. And you wondered why we bailed out those big financial institutions and the Auto Industry. And for those that will come back and say that by saving those TBTFs they save millions of jobs for those workers. That is true but, all that means is that these wealthy have taken a page from the Terrorist hand book and are protecting themselves by using the little guy as a shield. And it is my opinion that the government should do that through safety nets like unemployment benefits and Cobra and others that should be implemented to safeguard the working class of the US. Let the entrepreneurs take the risks. But protect the workers, who had no say in the direction those entrepreneurs took, from the darker side of Capitalism.

How does all this relate to the EU style governments? We are all hybrids of some sort. We are all trying to find the best fit.

Posted by B.Free | Report as abusive

Unfortunately, we in for at least a decade of ragged individualism.

Posted by D Sakarya | Report as abusive

Well, I agree with you mostly Mr. Free but I do believe pure Capitalism works. The current economic system we have, needs market expansion to survive. Pure Capitalism does depend on growth as well but at much slower rate. We’re just accelerating, or bubbling that growth with debt in current system. And with current growth of population which is estimated to be 6.5 million per month, there’s plenty of market expansion for pure Capitalism.
At this point, it seems impossible to go back to pure Capitalism as that’s what Ron Paul proposed and evidently, not enough voters agreed with him.

Posted by Brian Choi | Report as abusive

ikea was the anti-spam word i had to enter when posting this comment. which brings to mind the FACT that Ikea accepts Visa and Mastercard, but not liberty or Liberty. it can’t be eaten. it accounts for none of the GDP of any nation and is reduced to the choice between Coke v. Pepsi, Privacy v. Imposed Morality, and Higher Culturally Inflated Standard of Living Those Willing to Accrue Massive Debt v. My Right to Thumb My Nose at Global Concerns. Liberties are taken by individuals, but are given by whom exactly? which of our liberties would diminish of our GDP was spent on something like… health care? we could just go back to pissing it into the winds of credit markets. ‘cuz that what rugged means!
if you give people money, guess what? they’ll spend it. and you know where it goes? you. your boss. the housing market. the drug industry. the automobile industry and with a little luck, maybe even an interest bearing account. roads don’t build themselves and buses don’t grow on trees. and even if they did, you’d bet we’d subsidize them and insure better working condition for those who pick them and a fare market value for its export.
less is less. more is more. that’s something rugged individualism does not teach you. i’ll outsource the upward motion of my boot straps to Prada, and my atomization to CERN thank you very much. as an individual, community member and resident of the planet Earth; i’ll gladly pay more for more.

Posted by carmella | Report as abusive

EXCELLENT article, Bernd!

Not what some American “conservative” ideologists want to hear, but too friggin bad! ;-)

Seriously, how some of the posters here, and their idiot mouthpieces like Boehner, and the various media clowns that both speak and think for them, can continue to preach the “greed is good” mantra is beyond me.

Maybe they haven’t eaten enough salmonella contaminated peanut butter …

Posted by Tim Remple | Report as abusive

No Western European country has 300+ million people like the United States. No Western European country has over 9,000,000 sq km of land with associated infrastructure like the United States does. No country in the world has as sophisticated a military industrial complex as the United States of America. No country in the world has Federalist system of government as integral as the United States with 50 mostly independent states united by one central government.

By the figures cited in this article, the amount of money spent in the United States by government is very close to the amount spent by European governments especially when state and local government spending are factored in, yet the structure of the social programs in the U.S. is nothing like the structure in Europe.

The European system works in Europe. The United States of America is not Europe. There is no evidence to suggest that it is even possible to make a European type system work in the United States.

Posted by James | Report as abusive

As a republican for the last 20 years I was in love with capitalism and was all the way gung ho with all the pundits supporting it on the radio, you know who I ‘m talking about. But as we have scene with all these swindlers falling out of a box of rat traps in this recent eceonomic downfall you really have to be taking advantage of 99.9% of the people to really take advantage of it. The rest of us who still continue to support it are really uneducated and lack understanding of what is happening here. Radio talk show hosts live on thsi stuff, this is their bread and butter. They have a motivation to make you think capitalism in raw form is still the way to go. If you still don’t trust me, take a reality check and think about how you have actually benfited from capitalism and do europeans still get the same benefits we do and and more.

Capitalism is like that girlfriend or boyfriend that we really wanted when we were younger, but knew they weren’t good for us. Let’s grow up and think about what has this done for me lately. And look furhter down the future and see what it has in store for you. I’m thinking particularly about helath care. Think about what your actually going to retire on and consider inflation. Do you really think your going to afford health care. My wife and I are upper middle class and we have relatives who own technology businesses; none of us can see being able to pay for health care after retirement without the government waiting for us to spend all our saved money ebfore they help us. I would rather pay into a national health care system and give everyone health care, rather than pay some CEO several million dollars so he can have several mansions and a yacht. Why shouldn’t everyone get health care?? Why should we let executives at HMO treat us at their mercy? No one should have to beg for health care. That is not a civilized society.

Posted by Rich | Report as abusive

Bernd, I think your opinion is in the same direction as mine! I also like Adam Smith’s “invisible hand”, but in reality the self-attained equilibrium in the free market is a rarity and when it happens is volatile and lasts a short period of time. With no other rules to follow “greed” will rule sending economies into recession any day. With the time the volatility may actually have an adverse effect over the “rugged American individualism” in question, as businesses close doors in the thousands and those that survive feel the pain and are bruised in a recession.

Posted by Alex Sim | Report as abusive

I feel like a character in Animal Farm. It will slowly creep up on us until we are just used to it..kinda like gas prices

Posted by Debbie | Report as abusive

One thing should be restated about the current economic crisis: The Republicans had the ball and they dropped it. Greed and corruption and plain incompetence has marked the last 8 years of government.

While not taking one bit of urgency and horror away from terrorist acts, the greatest and most sacred trust of any government in the United is to make sure the people have their Constitutional rights. Now, these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It doesn’t say right to work or right to education or right to health care. But the Constitution was written in a different time. Wise as the founding fathers were, they would be the first, I believe, to suggest some additions to this document.
Having expressed this opinion, we still have not had the frank words from any politician right or left. I only hope someone has the guts, the fortitude and the common sense to speak up and say to all of us:
“Get real. Tighten your belts. Get off your butts. This is how bad it really is.”

Wouldn’t that be amazing? I believe this country can do anything. But if we don’t understand the problems in full and know how much trouble we are really in, we can’t do anything about it. We need our leaders to treat us as partners, not children.

Posted by erin Van Tassel | Report as abusive

Capitalism is changed and became more socialistic.
Europe got this change first and US is just getting it. The same story with socialism in Russia – socialism became capitalistic. Individualism is a myth everywhere. Individualism is not a freedom to select a T-shirt from different stores with different sentence on it!
If you have TV in your home, you cannot be individualist – everything prepacked and put into your mind. So, whatever you think is made for you in the morning by FOX or CNN.
If someone thinks differently from the majority, it can be really dangerous. Who dares and who cares. Majority rules.

Posted by Fromformerempire | Report as abusive

Those who fight our “socialization” so desperately do so by considering themselves “Federalists,” which refers to “a member of a major political party in the early years of the United Statess favoring a STRONG CENTRALIZED GOVERNMENT,” actually closer to what we have now but not quite our beloved “Democracy.”

Unfortunately, for the last 8 years the United States took on a decidedly FASCIST flavor; which means, “A political philosophy, movement or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition; a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control.”

Look at the “definitions,” folks. Federalists they are not. Where were all the “Federalists” when this entire mess was being created the last 8 years. When you lose your earnings in your 401K or your stock portfolio blame “the last one.” Iraq was his baby, a war of choice, that cost us billions of dollars and thousands of wasted lives. Where were any of you then? Amazing!

Posted by Julia Cochran | Report as abusive

This stuff about “rugged individualism” is a bit off, apparently as a result of some sort of mythology about Americans accepted by Europeans. That’s cool; everyone in the United States watches way too much television, too. In fact what is happening now is a sloughing off of the Ronald Reagan concept that “government is the problem” and something of a return [with a makeover] of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt concept that “it’s our government, let’s use it”. Everybody here in America are still VERY much believers in individualism; we call it “freedom,” or “U.S. citizenship,” or “one man, one vote” (one person, actually) or “government of/by/for the people.” And most Americans, while amazingly parochial (they don’t get out of the States much), are also an amazingly good-natured, trusting, friendly, and generous people –in stark contrast with the regime of the Christian Caligula [GWBush], and don’t have poor opinions of Europeans, generally. Consolt your own history instead of watching mivies and television and listening to over – paid, under – educated, self – absorbed creatures of INFOTAINMENT (journalism being obsolete). You know, more important than any of this folderol is the fact that Afghanistan has again become a colossal producer of the morphines from which HEROIN is made: heroin gere, in suburban Massachusetts, is 97% pure (compared to 4% in 1975) and so cheap (cheaper than beer) that users don’t show up overdosed in the hospital emergency rooms (which is how the various Departments of Health and law enforcement track the extent of the problem) because rather than injecting heroin they can SMOKE it (which was inconceivable 20 years ago). Personally I think if everyone in the EU, or NATO, or somebody, would just fly intoAfghanistan with a lot of NAPALM, the whole world would be very much better off, because it isn’t the druggies and stoners and losers using heroin now, it’s the valedictorians and honors students…

Posted by James H. McCann | Report as abusive


I have to disagree with your comment partially, because of one glaring and important mistake.

Americans (US & Canada) are (mostly) Europeans. They left because they felt like they were being persecuted by both the government and the cultural majorities.

The US was designed as an “anti-Europe” in some ways specifically for that reason, during a time when monarchy was still pretty significant in many European nations.

Also, westernized Europe has developed into its modern day version during the same time period that the US matured. To say that Britain today is the same Britain from 300 years ago is completely ignorant. And comparing Britain 300 years ago to Britain 600 years ago would be a similar leap.

It would still be wise to cross-exchange the most potent ideas in governing between the EU and US, but to say that the US is a “younger” nation is leaving out many details about who originally settled North America. On that note, I’m not referring to the natives. Had they been the sole creators of the nations existing in the Americas, you would be completely right.

Posted by steve | Report as abusive

We here in the Rust Belt already have a “nanny state” – one (leftist) party rule, high taxes, onerous regulations, & very powerful labor and government leaders, well-armed with lots of power, lots of votes, and lots of laws.

And despite eye watering taxes and huge government expenditures, we’ve had for many years double-digit unemployment, low incomes, rotting infrastructure, and shrinking, aging populations.

The histories of all nations and states with planned economies are similar, be they Socialist Britain or Soviet Russia.

To say otherwise betrays the deepest ignorance of both history and economics. (I do not consider modern Keynesianism a valid form of economic inquiry.)

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

Okay, I get it. There are groups in America that have fundamentally different views on the role of government. Democrats favor larger government. Republicans claim to support less government, yet in practice, they support larger government with conservative agendas. Then, there are the Libertarians who support less government. What I don’t understand is how some groups, i.e., liberals, think that it is within their rights to legislate a larger government, which costs everyone more money in the form of taxes. Liberals think it is in their rights to dictate that role of government. However, they could accomplish their agenda by collectively forming charities, donating to existing charities, etc. Why do you think it’s within your rights to make me pay more when I don’t want to? I don’t think it’s within my rights to take away government services that you’ve had for over 50 years that you depend on, even though I disagree with it AND I’m trying to SAVE you money.

This debate is retarded and selfish on YOUR part. This country was not founded on the principles of everyman is FORCED to help every other man. It was founded on HELP YOUR SELF. I work 80+ hours a week to give 30% of it to the government, yet I hardly use a single government service, other than roads, police, etc.

Posted by Cam | Report as abusive

Individualism is over. The planet doesn’t have enough resources to keep feeding the superfluous greed of the few.

Credit upon credit upon credit, spending like there is no tomorrow, wasting like there is nobody else in this world, having no responsibility or consequences for ones actions it’s not right! Nanny-states? Yes, regulation is necessary!

What does this child with no boundaries become? Free? Smart? Think again.

“Civilized” is not a synonym of “Comfortable”. It’s about making sacrifices that I dare to say the majority of US citizens are NOT willing to make.

Spare me the jungle law about the stronger and the smarter and all the rewards for the fittest. It is visceral and primitive, not (r)evolutionary.

Posted by Liberty and Responsibility | Report as abusive

It’s simple really. Communism doesn’t work (take the USSR as a good example of that), totalitarian dictatorships don’t work (like Hitler’s Germany), monarchies aren’t any better since the power is all in the hands of one family (like Saudi Arabia)or a theological government (like Iran) is not so great for anyone who doesn’t follow the state sponsored religion or disagrees with it’s leaders since their is no dissent permitted. So a free market, capitalist society with some Socialist safety thrown in seems to be the best way to go in terms of proven success. China is seeing some success with the mix of Communism and Capitalism, but citizens still like their freedom and Communism doesn’t provide any.

Posted by Ben F. | Report as abusive

WOW – I suggest those of you that think Europe is such a great place, pack your bags up and move there. My America and the America of our Founding Fathers is a far different view of what we’ve turned into today. The Congress has usurped authority through taxation and turned our country into something that was never meant to be – a group of whinney, snot nose, screaming little girlie men that thinks the “government” (which by the way is We the People) owes them something. By feeding the people their “drug” of “everyone should be treated the same and wealth belongs to everyone” line of BS – the week minded flock of sheep now believe that it’s true. We are all guaranteed the same rights under our Constitution, but we’re NOT guaranteed the same results. Our society has become so lazy and complacent lacking any sense of self responsibility that everyone has become a “sheep” flocking to the same folks in government that are preparing the shackles for their feet. I don’t need the government for anything in my personal life. They can go back to National Sercurity and ensuring our rights are protected. Maybe it would do these Dems good to sit down and start reading some of the Founding Fathers documents so they would understand why they’re really in Washington.

Posted by Roundup_Logan | Report as abusive

CAM : First of all your tone would have been lot different if the company where you work 80 hours a week had decided to hand pink slips because of the current crisis AND NOT BECAUSE YOU ARE INCOMPETENT. Its callous of those who think that millions losing job every month are INCAPABLE and should not be helped. In your opinion it is justified to help BANKS AND CEOS who led us all to this drain but not those who have become victims with no social cover. Its time to go back to the most basic meaning of society and why societies were formed in the first place. And anyways I have no sympathies about you working 80+ hours as financial engineers and CEOs also claimed the same while digging the grave for everyone else across the world.

Having some social inclination will not do any harm to this nation but the country will turn out better citizens who think about society before acting. It is America’s culture of ‘me and only me’ where individualism has been praised to the extent that people while pursuing their insatiable greed do not even consider the impact on others of their actions.

And why degrade Europe when some European economies are amongst the best in the world.Just think why Europeans dont crib about paying high taxes and all, maybe after two world wars they have realised the true meaning of society. America do not stand anywhere when it comes to prosperity, quality of life and contentment. And can anyone even define individualism by which Americans swore-by. Your brains have been muddled by the Corporate designed information that is feeded to you daily through your media and your education system.

Posted by asterix117 | Report as abusive

Moreover for those who think poeple who took sub prime loans were at fault think again. Think about the predatory leanding by these financial institutions who offered incentives like no down-payment, no payment at all in the first year and initial payments at low rates and add to that the assurance given by these bankers that their loans will be refinanced. Who will not be lured by such rosy offering. What these bankers wanted was to suck money out of everyone take huge bonuses in the present and then who cares if the system fail afterwards.They will have taken millions of dollars with them already and left millions others to pay the price. This is your individualism. Banks and big corporations, are they individualistic in begging money from governments. You people sacrifice conciousness on the altar of individualism. Even today these banks and corporations are holding government to ransom by pointing their guns to the head of their employees who do not have adequate safety net, had it been possible if there were adequate social services and safety net for unemployed. Americans will ultimately loose more money, competitiveness and moral fibre while helping these good for nothing organisations and financial institutions in the long run than it would have spend on developing adequate security net for those who ultimately become victims of an over greedy system.

Posted by asterix117 | Report as abusive

When we are told that we are 15th on the United Nations Annual Development Index is the fact that millions of people come into this country every year to enjoy the benefits of being an American taken into consideration.
A large percentage of these good folks come from countries where folks are poor and have bad health. These millions of people have a great affect on our statistics. They come here for the most part because they too are individualist and want to be with the rest of us.
I think it is ridiculous that we should become like Europeans because of UN statistics, I speak with many Europeans and compare notes and overall the average American is(was) much better than the average European. We take things for granted that many other developed countries still consider luxuries. Such as: driving our own car across the country, helping each other out of bad spots, having central heat and a/c and having the ability to start our own business when we decide that our current job is not adequate for our needs, either monetary or emotional. Of course, many of our politicians want to take some of these things away from us so we can be more like Europeans.
The dictionary needs to still define an American as an individualist. You will see over the next few years the answer to the energy crisis coming out of American garages not government labs. You will see that the fix to the financial crisis will come from the individualist that can see the world clear rather than from banks that have already proved that they only love money. We The People make this country great and always have. We The People are individualist.

Posted by Craig Coal | Report as abusive

AH, again, we swerve from the debate to name calling. “If you don’t like it, move”…so if you’re so firmly committed to capitalism, why aren’t you packing your bags to China or UAE or any of the other myriad of places that practice a much purer form of that golden system. PS, don’t mind the poverty…it’s part of the ticket price. And the “I hardly use a single government service, other than roads, police, etc.” Let me guess, you plan to shred your social security and medicare checks when you retire. Wait, they are by far the largest chunk of federal spending, followed by the military…oh, wait, want that, too. Lets you create a new business whenever you like. By the time we find the things we really do want to cut, we’re talking about a rounding error in the federal budget.

We the People do decide what the government is. That is what the Founding Fathers set out to do. Do we want abject poverty? Do we want to see seniors evicted from their homes or denied medical care? Do we want toxic rivers and soot filled air? No, we’re not that committed to capitalism. Do we disavow hard work or begrudge others for working hard? No, we’re not becoming a welfare state. Maybe we need to believe that our government, voted on by us, might actually be the apparatus that creates that mix that does make us rugged individualists. Maybe we should believe that the government does adapt to the times to provide the right amount of services. And it we don’t, maybe it’s time to move beyond nationalism, and then we really can stop blaming government for trying to fix things.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

I’m 68 years old and an ex Republican turned Democrat. I own a small business and always believed in the Capitalistic experiment. I’ve done well for myself living in a million dollar home, have a couple of airplanes one of which is eight place and drive a 500 series Mercedes. I’m not complaining. After watching over the last 30 years how our system has not taken care of its people and realizing just how harsh it is on many I now agree with Mr. Debusmann’s argument.

It’s interesting observing all the remarks made by so many who’ve most likely never lived overseas. I’ve lived in the Middle East, South America and Europe and let me tell you they are not a group of communists. My son lived in Europe for 17 years and died of liver cancer. He was cared for by two world renowned oncologists and his health care was provided by his country of residence.

If you think living in Europe is being under a communist rule then you’re view is based on a lack of understanding or knowledge and fear has overtaken emotions.

We live in a country where we’ve become accustomed to the cruelties that our economic system can render. It’s all we know and everyone has learned to scratch and fight to get a small piece, myself included. I’m not condemning the system but simply stating what’s often overlooked or concealed. It’s fine if you or I accept the rules of this game but many overlook that peoples of other countries sometimes don’t want any part of it.

We try to dictate our rules on others, like the people of the Middle East, under the cloak of democracy. They’ve managed to survive many generations under their systems and many are doing well financially so they don’t want to risk their comfort zone with a change. They are now watching how greed has inflicted damage to our standard of living. We in this country need to learn more about the human existence related to society. We don’t live alone.

Thus, give the man some slack and listen to his argument from the perspective of being a little tolerant and less myopic.

Thanks for the opportunity to express another view.

Posted by George H | Report as abusive

The idea of a rugged American individualism is basically a mis-managed perception by the other countries that hate and envy our nation at the same time. America is more than a nation…we are an idea of freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We need to stop being compared to Europe…our westernly cousins didn’t mature into socialism…they had little option. America has been lazy and needs to pay the price for our actions. We consumed more resources that the rest of the world. We allowed ourselves to shirk funding for education. We allowed ourselves to believe every American required a mortagage. We allowed ourselved to develop into a culture that toils more hours than it spends at rest/play. Capatalism doesnt work so well when you have unfair trade, one of the world’s smallest traded departments and unregulated tyrants plundering the markets. We should embrace lesson’s learned from Europe’s history…and continue showing the world the marvels we accomplish when we are united with good leadership. Watch us build.

Posted by CWilson | Report as abusive

When you people embrace socialism – where do you think the government gets the money it simply gives away to whomever it chooses? Of course it’s from the successful individuals and business in the free market – the citizens. (or it prints it!)

The government cannot create wealth – it only takes from one individual and gives to another. It’s so simple it hurts.

And who is the government? Mostly career politicians who have little experience in the real world – in actual businesses – no, they’re earning a living from the state. I simply cannot trust them to utilize MY money better than myself. Why do you want to willing hand over your right to earn a living and live your life without someone else’s rule?

How can the bureaucracy effectively manage our lives and money – has the government done it consistently up to this point? No, the government IS the problem – living off the state robs all ambition, initiative and greatness – mediocrity and entitlement set in.

Posted by Jojo BoZley | Report as abusive

Damn the Federal Government. They created this mess and all so they could then claim that to fix this mess they need more power. State government is 100% what our founding fathers wanted when they set up America. Only thing the Federal Government should do is forign policy. Leave the local government to us whom live in the locality.

Posted by Steven | Report as abusive

I lived for nearly 10 years in England. Having done so i observed the Socialized system crumbling under the weight of skyrocketing costs and dwindling taxe revenue. What had once been the model for all socialized health has long waiting lists and yes rationed health care. i think we as a Country should learn there must be a common ground for this to work for us. We can’t rely soley on the Government to provide this care. It will have to be a joint effort between both private and government sectors. We will also not be able to provide free care to non-citisens without some sort of reimbursment system that pays back costs accrued. rushing into a intitlement based society is a reciept for disaster. Learning from past failures so we may implement a workable healtcare profile is the only answer. Conservative,independent and liberal input will be needed to achieve a broad consensus that is workable for all concerned. W Puette

Posted by Walter S. Puette | Report as abusive

Europe has its problems too don’t be fooled and ”socialism” or the concept of ”socialism” isn’t as great in Europe as it might appear to be here in the US. Don’t forget someone funds socialism and that’s the people in the form of high taxes. tent/article/2005/06/14/AR2005061401340. html 31/will-europe-run-the-21st-century-not- with-high-taxes/

And another view on high taxes and its affect (this written before Obama became Pres.): 5

Posted by jandcraw | Report as abusive

Just because something works in Europe does not mean it will work in America! The United States is much more diverse than any country in Europe. It is MUCH harder to apply the same levels of regulation and government on a very ethnically diverse population.

The federal government is too big! PERIOD. Now Obama is telling the mayors how to spend the money. The federal government has NO RIGHT to micromanage local government and shove printed money down the throats of states that don’t even want it.

Posted by Chris | Report as abusive

For many decades American are involved with WARs which is nothing to do with their own borders, but they do because their politician are major beneficiaries of these wars. Now every individual American is suffering from their sins. This is the right time for American peoples to come on street and ask these spoilled politician to stop was business and get start working for the benefit of American nation.

Posted by Al Baloushi | Report as abusive

“For many decades American are involved with WARs which is nothing to do with their own borders, but they do because their politician are major beneficiaries of these wars. Now every individual American is suffering from their sins. This is the right time for American peoples to come on street and ask these spoilled politician to stop was business and get start working for the benefit of American nation” – al baloushi

Thanks for your educated comment on what America should do. I hope our leaders are wise enough to adopt the politics of someone who has probably never been to the US: one whose comment has abolutely nothing to do with topic of the article. Bravo. You tell ’em.

Posted by doctherooster | Report as abusive

I sympathise with those Americans of a certain age who feel their country is changing way too fast all around them and who look back on the America of their youth , a nation that proudly gazed across at a largely backward looking and impoverished Europe , as the beacon of democracy in a heroic golden age of opportunity , advancement and certainty but the world cannot rotate around the nostalgic self comforting thoughts of people who have basically lived their lives – no matter how passionately they believe in the ideas of the past or how patriotic or well intentioned they think they are – as those ideas of America and what it means to be an American have not stood the test of time , they have failed Americans and the world abysmally as notions like rugged individualism and the individual pursuit of happiness have been taken to extremes with horrific lasting consequences that now have to be dealt with and paid for by everyone at the full market rate of change.

Posted by desik | Report as abusive

Here’s the heart of the matter: For the past eight years the Republicans aggressively controlled the Executive Branch. For six of those eight, they controlled Congress, and in the final two years held a blocking minority in the Senate. After those eight ‘ruggedly individualistic’ years the economy is in shambles. President Obama has been in office a scant month, and from the day after he was sworn in, the Republican Party has been tearing him down, ad hominem and politically, and now slam the stimulus packege — the ink’s still damp — for not having instilled ‘more confidence’ and for turning us down the some vaguely pinko path. Why are we paying them any mind at all?

Posted by William Crane | Report as abusive

Frightfully it seems that most of the current conversations about ‘America’ and all that ails our country center on the narcissistic bent of those who have a very narrow view of the world.

The vast majority of the American public are to be pitied for allowing the ignorance of our average citizen to become so ingrained for so long a period in our history. The idea of “Rugged American Individualism” is a constantly perpetuated myth that ill serves evident the “Obese American Narcissism” I see so frequently in my Medical practice …. I feel sorry for our generally ill-educated and duped masses who have had a morally bereft group of “Robber Baron” supporting politicians who have basically ‘raped’ the public treasury and shorn a majority of my countries wealth off for the benefit of very few.

Given the wealth generated by American workers over the past two centuries the nation is rightfully seen as a pathetic world example in its over all standing in general well being of the public in a majority of spheres of human endeavor.

During the ‘Great Depression’ Franklin Delano Roosevelt said he saw a nation that was for a large part Ill-Fed and Ill-Housed to which many of us now can add the obvious rejoinder “Ill-literate and just plain Ill”.

I have a sister-in-law who is a Canadian teacher who is healthier (They have a superior State run Medical System) and a longer life expectancy rate, wealthier (They have a more equitable distribution of their National Wealth) with a superior Employment Insurance system and wiser (They have higher Literacy rates) and a sounder banking system. I envy her good fortune and lifestyle and asked her what the secret was in that country … She said that it came from having a few thoughtful people looking around their country (and the rest of world) and seeing what works and changing and adapting policies ….. She said that Canada does not shy from ‘Capitalism with a human face’ (We call that socialism) and that they have state intervention and control in many areas of their national life where they have learned that ‘Private’ control/ownership only historically leads to a monopoly that ill served the public good.

We in America could/should do the same as the Canadians and not be gulled by the false pride of empty rhetoric and boastful right wing narcissistic ideologues and do the same thing – look for solutions that can work and apply them.

Posted by Charles H. Townsend | Report as abusive

Great civilizations are comparable to living organisms. After being born, they grow, mature, age and then die as the Greek, Roman and Egyptian civilizations. Whatever politicians may interpret the decline of the so-called great nations, this is the way it is

Posted by Sam Badour | Report as abusive

OK if you want the Goverment to take care of all then you are asking for too much, Look at what got us into this mess in the first place.We the people expected that the goverment was working in our best interest and looking out for the bad guy so to speak, but when we where not looking they dropped the ball and we had all of these funny money men come in and make all kinds of ways of making money that was never used before and we are seeing why they where never used in the first place
like this ponzi that B.MadeOff with your money and all the time he was doing this where was the goverment who is supposed to protect us from the bad men like this?
Sitting back and giving themselfs raises and not careing one bit as to what is going on to the small people,Who are the ones who put there fat behinds in to office in the first place and they have forgotten just who put them there and WHY.IT ALL BOILS DOWN TO GREED, Until you remove the greed nothing can or will be done that is the reason we are here in this mess the rich get richer and middle class keeps on being taxed to death and there will be no middle class left but just the rich and the poor, That is what big Goverment will do for you. Who will pay for all of this bailout and why do we the people have to suffer because of these people who did all of this shady funny money stuff and brought our country to its knees.I think that they are no different then some one who went into a bank and robbed them at gun point I think all should go to jail. AND NOT GET A BONUS CHECK FOR MILLIONS FOR DOING A BAD JOB ALL OF YOU SHOULD PAY BACK EVERY PENNY YOU RCEIEVED AND GO TO JAIL.
You cant tell me that these people did not see this comeing they knew what they where doing and had hoped that they would be long gone before this came to the light. I SAY SEND EVERY LAST ONE OF THOSE FINANCIAL WIZZARDS TO JAIL.

Posted by Uman | Report as abusive

Personal freedoms, liberty and knowing your country is acting within the best interests of it’s citizens is what I would like to see more of. That’s why I support the Republic and the Constitution. The best government is one that is closest to it’s people and a responsible Republican form of government does it best as it ties the hands of tyrants who seek to manipulate it to their own ends. People argue that America is becoming more “socialistic” in how it is governed. I certainly agree that that has been the case since before any of us was born. But socialism is not where we’re headed friends. We are headed towards globalism and international governments and we are not being allowed any say in the matter. We are being manipulated into surrendering control over ourselves to the federal government who in turn surrenders it to international governments, international trade treaties and international bankers and it’s being funded with our own money(debt) and blood. That’s not socialism. That’s fraud and breech of contract. It’s bad enough that our current federal government decides what is safe for consumption in the U.S. imagine if that decision was being made by some “global government” on the other side of the globe from you, setting the standards of operations around the world and coining the value of their currency and determining your worth to society? Hard enough getting your own neighbors willing to represent you lawfully let alone people on the other side of the world. Do you believe they will act within the best interests of their citizens? Do you really think that they will hear and address the concerns of those miles away from them? I sure don’t believe it. I remember reading about winning our independence for just that type of reason. Over 20 states are drawing up resolutions declaring state sovereignty because they realize how much the federal government is out of control. The States constituted the union and it’ll be up to them to fix it. I’m sure you have to be quite “rugged” to protect your freedom. Although I don’t think people today have ever experienced it yet, history seems to be full of it. We’ll see if Americans are up for it. Time to get off of our lazy butts and send the fed’s and their international treaties, governments, and banks to the unemployment lines and get back to a Constitutional rule of law that nobody is above.

Posted by jason | Report as abusive

I will tell you of a country that made the world take notice and made them jelous it was a country that had a strong middle class and jobs that payed a worker a propper days pay that had a strong industry and textile
that surpassed all.And greed stept in and jobs where stolen yes stolen from hard working Americans under the guise of out sorceing where our birth rite was taken and sent abroad and when I say birth rite just who created this industry for us but our Great Great Grand Parents
who busted there fingers to the bone with blood sweat and many tears so they could pass on the fruit of there labor to there future generations of family so that they may enjoy what was create to help there advancement in this great country. I say shame on you who made this once great country stumble and drop to its knee but unless people take responsibility for there actions our GREAT NATION Will drop the rest of the way down.And who is able to raise this nation from the floor

Posted by Uman | Report as abusive

Hi ‘doctherooster’

How can you say that my comments were not related to the topic. I think you needs some mathematic lessons. So far your nation had spent one trillion dollars in Iraq and Afghan wars. If that money was in American treasury it could have solved many of your nation problems. You said “who has probably never been to the US” come on guy I traveled to your country thrice during last one and half decades. In my recent visit I saw in DC people were asking for help on streets which are very next to the White House itself.


Posted by Al Baloushi | Report as abusive

The author conveniently forgets to mention how the current crisis started in the first place. It was government’s intervention in lending the spurred banks to make risky loans to people with little ability to pay them back. Fannie and Freddie Mac lowered their standards for loans they would buy from originators with the goal of increasing home ownership. Turns out it was a bad idea. If the government had stayed out of it in the first place, banks would have continued to make loans only to qualified borrowers like they’ve always done.

Posted by Jim in Atlanta | Report as abusive

Wake up America! We cannot allow others weak minded individuals convince us to surrender our rights to our Government. Why would anyone place all their faith in government? Have they ever, ever solved one thing? Has our government ever, ever created a social program that worked? How about our government making a profit and not just print money, NO! Any coward, weak minded, liberal that wants the government care for them fine, but I say let us keep our American FREE and unfettered with government bureaucracy, waste, fraud, corruption, ineptness, inefficiency and just plain does not work. I say we Conservatives must carry the burden for those that cannot and refuse to see the pink elephant in the room. We must take back what is our God given right to care for ourselves as individuals with individual rights and responsibilities. These liberals are like 30 year old sons living with their parents today, lazy, dimwits who just want a cozy lifestyle and think European thoughts of grandeur. I say let us pour the tea in the harbor again and refuse this nonsense. The only reason some people want government intervention because they made poor decision, too lazy to work hard and take chances from opportunity or they have ties with the government and they know they are government “lifers.” I for one don’t want or need the government holding my hand, feeding me, providing subsidies, freebies, health care or anything. I remember a time when they did just that and it never made anyone feel better or improve their lives or motivated them to work. If Europe is so great, then get a plane or boat ticket and go no one is stopping you, but I would be willing to bet you won’t take me up on that (wonder why?). If the government is so great, then those who want social medicine go to a country that has it, but you won’t because you know it does not work and don’t tell me Canada social health care works, because it does not and there is a gluttony of publications and many people who travel south of Canada for health care to prove it, just take the time to research it and not take the quick liberal word of a journalist. “Give me liberty or give me death,” not handouts, control on first and second amendments of our Constitution. Once you open the door to allow our Government to provide for your every need, there will be cost, because nothing is free! Slowly and ever so gradually we will lose our Founding Father intent of being a free, independent thinking nation that was, is and will continue to be the envy of the world DO NOT allow anyone to tell you differently, if they do you can be very certain they do not like our way of life, our Constitution and our freedoms for that you can be certain, for if they did they too would be clamoring about just how great our Nation still is and what we can do to fix it within the parameters of our Constitution. I need to hear our government give money back to our citizens, where the true innovative and creativeness begins to help stimulate our economy back, not big business that cannot be trusted and got us into this mess. I say, Europe is Europe, but isn’t American the place that for as long as I can remember and more so the last 10 plus years people have been swimming oceans in bathtubs to get too, running borders hungry, dirty and in cases dying to get to American – not Europe! So, don’t give me any of that hog wash of what America was and quit putting our great Country down and just get out of our way because we American are going to survive, we’ve done it before and this great generation will do it again! God Bless America!

Posted by Kent | Report as abusive

O for heaven’s sake.

Watching the disgusting rush for bailout of credit card/banks/CEOs/car companies etc. amply proves that those screeching proponents of “rugged individualism” have always been consciously promoting a lie — ridiculous to think otherwise.

give it up.

grow up.

Europeans are grownups.

Posted by AYGEEBIERCE | Report as abusive

To Charles Townsend: You fail to realize that Canada has the luxury of having a small population relative to its size and the GREAT benefit of having the US next door to ensure it’s defense, they’d have been swallowed long ago, and by far the world’s greatest and most dynamic economy – all fueled by an individualist mentality, not a socialist one. Ask yourself what kind of nation Canada would be if it did not share its border and an open trading relationship with the US. This is no knock on Canada. But they are lucky to have the US as its neighbor.

Posted by Bill | Report as abusive

Rugged Individualism? Anarchy is more the word for it, in America we have the bullies out front crying for survival of the fittest. Propaganda and fear mongering have carried the day so far but as homelessness and hunger spread I think you’ll find the true American spirit in the streets taking back our share of the American Dream. To expect that 60% of our population will go quietly into poverty and third world living conditions because you fear socialism is a little much to ask. You’ve got the guns but we’ve got the numbers!

Posted by Dwight | Report as abusive

I am somewhat amazed at what I am reading in the comments. Do some of you really believe that capitalism equals poverty and a government safety net equals wealth and security?
What I see too many of you saying is that government is the solution and free markets are the problem. In all of history as government gets more centralized and powerful it tends to favor one small group of people over all of the rest resulting in time to about 10% of the people living in unbelievable wealth and 90% living in unbelievable poverty.
Our founding fathers understood that government is not the solution to people’s problems but uncontrolled government is the source of the problems. This is why the Bill Of Rights is such a necessary part of the Constitution of the United States.
Investigate what is happening; look further than the words that are spoken. Where is the great wealth coming from that we are being promised?
Who is providing the labor? Who is going to benefit?
When you look at the names of those that profited from the failure of so many financial institutions it reads like a Who’s Who in Washington.
These folks are taking huge fortunes while the rest of us our seeing our retirement fund drops to less than half.
I say wake up, or we along with the folks in Europe will be like the third world, being ruled by the wealthy 10% and having to serve them for our livelihoods.
Capitalism, when based on sound principles does not need bail-outs because its’ foundation is strong. But once government controls an economy a bail-out will always be necessary every few years because the foundation begins to crumble.
Capitalism working on a firm foundation creates individualist and individualist creates capitalism. Government needs to step back and let the system work rather than to continue to kill the geese that lay the golden eggs.

Posted by Craig Coal | Report as abusive

Poster Bill has stated … “But they are lucky to have the US as its neighbor.”

Well I’m truly sorry Bill but I see the situation somewhat differently than you do for when I survey the larger world I would say that we are rather lucky to have Canada as our neighbour setting a better example in the global community. From what I’ve seen their yard and property is cleaner and they seem to be educating and taking care of their wife and kids health far better than we are …. and please remember that they too doing it in a “Capitalist” society …. A capitalist society that does have armed forces (They are among a few nations deployed in Afghanistan supporting our efforts there) … and since I read history the last time we picked a fight with them they occupied New York and the White House and burned the Capitol (War of 1812 [Washington Burned] – Check it out!!).

Enough about our northern neighbour that does not have its citizens trying to crash our borders.

You say that we are “the world’s greatest and most dynamic economy – all fueled by an individualist mentality” …. That is now … and actually always has been …. an empty boast fueled by ignorance of how parasitic empires and economies (Including America’s) work …. Namely by exploiting the rest of the world for the importation of materials and cheaply produced goods …. Check history (Roman, Ottoman, Mongol, British Empires) and also lesser attempts by (France, Portugal, Spain etc ).

The “Rugged Individual” is a bad cigarette advertisement myth … for indeed the true “Rugged Individual” is more likely to be some poor laborer on an assembly line or harvesting fruit or rice in the third world.

We are at the start of what is likely the greatest ‘Depression’ in our history and it ill serves us to be as arrogant and prideful as a strutting peacock and not see that indeed other countries and other people have had some pretty sound ideas about what makes for a society that functions and is ‘fair’ to the majority of its citizens … The Scandinavian countries and indeed Canada have ready examples we could learn from and I for one refuse to say “We Americans know more than the rest of the worlds people” for that is an obvious lie … a lie historically … and a lie right now.

“Rugged Individualism” does not have to mean “Gross Ignorance”.

Posted by Charles H. Townsend | Report as abusive

To Bill: Yes, Canada is lucky to have the US beneath us. But the US is lucky to have a much larger country above them with the resources that the US needs. Not to mention a lot of third party demonstrations of things that the US is seriously considering.

Why some Americans seem to think they are such the wonderful thing is beyond me. Canadians often have critical words about how the US treats its own people. Many Canadians find it a scary place. Those that knock Canada are simply trained to hate everybody outside the US borders, and that is a pure sign of ignorance.

Onto the article: I disagree on the article’s stance. The US is going through the growing pains of success, which has caused the global economy. Is it any surprise that India and China are now producing cars? That technology is sent to low cost countries? The Maquilladoras were a sign of what was to come. But the US didn’t move with the trend and is still pushing out horrible products in its automotive sector, and employing centuries-old unions. Then the ass fell out of the pants recently.

Individualism is what started McDonald’s, Starbucks, Home Depot, Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart…let’s not forget every bit of capitalism, originated from individualism. At the end of the day, you can’t do business with yourself. You can invent all you want, but eventually, you’re going to either be copied, or you’ve won the world’s potential for business.

Posted by Rich | Report as abusive

I have lived both in US and Europe. Europe is not the solution. Europe has been in recession (economic, invention…) since 1948. When was it last time some invention came from Europe? Yes they do have welfare offices ( they call them social safety nets) but government takes up to 60% of people’s hard earned money to provide them. US does have its issues but it will always come out ahead exactly because government does not “take care of” everyone and strangle people’s individualism and lust to succeed.

Posted by saeed | Report as abusive

At least the europeans get free health care and heavily subsidized education and fantastic retirement benefits. All America gets is a Hugh bloated Military that consumes 600+ Billion a year. A military that has the audacity to claim it needs a jet fighter that cost 1.5 billion each. There is a resolution to our problem, it is called a sane military policy.

Posted by blog | Report as abusive

“In all of history as government gets more centralized and powerful it tends to favor one small group of people over all of the rest resulting in time to about 10% of the people living in unbelievable wealth and 90% living in unbelievable poverty.” -Craig Coal

Craig, you only need to look at poverty levels in the US compared to Scandinavia or Western Europe to prove your claim wrong. Suggesting that providing a safety net to a nation’s citizens will lead to their poverty is hard to understand.

Posted by J-P | Report as abusive

Along with my libertarian views I have always had a streak of the Anarchist in my belief system and I believe that America is like a living, breathing creature. It was born, has matured, grown old and stagnate, and will pass. Like Rome and unlike an entity, after a period of chaos, it will be re-born. This new nation will be stronger, less fearful, more vibrant, less encumbered by bureaucracy of the past, and more individually independent. God couldn’t care less about America!!!

Posted by Kasado | Report as abusive


The U.S. is already structured like that. The wealthy in the U.S. live on incredible wealth, but 90% does not live in “unbelievable poverty.” Obama’s tax policy on the wealthy would contradict your claims. He is trying to spread the wealth to close that gap a little bit. Many view this as socialism, but he is simply trying to fix a flawed system. We can no longer allow corporations to run our economy. We need some government intervention here.—Mike

Posted by Proco | Report as abusive

I think this crisis has come to rescue America. I love America and I want it to succeed. I admire its energy, enterprise and self confidence. But I’ve never believed that the current model is either sustainable or in the best interests of the American people. When America comes back (and it will), I hope its people will have taken a collective deep breath and calmly considered the kind of society they want for themselves. Put whatever political tag you like on it, but personally, I hope America finds balance.

Posted by Rick Maggi | Report as abusive

Individuality is by definition rugged. Take that away and you are fooling yourself about the concept. I might not be well versed in your economist language, but one thing is for sure as far as the value of indivuduality is concerned, the United States of America is the champion of individuality, possibly the only one left in this era. In this era of extreme collectivisation, that country is getting a bad wrap, as would be expected. Be careful of the backlash; society is in desperate need of the great individual and your premiss is the beginning of that great betrayal…

Posted by Le Néandertal | Report as abusive

A society is a group of individuals that live together in harmony with rules they accept and respect.

If individualism is the right to starve and be poor while still accepting the rules and keeping our mouth shut, then no thanks.

Whatever people may say here, the argument of “you like Europe then pack and leave” is so stupid and out of reality : “YOU CANT LEAVE, YOU CAN STAY UP TO 90 DAYS, NO JOB ALLOWED AND THEN GO BACK”, same applies to Europeans lovers of the US liberalism.

We need to listen to everyone’s arguments and take the best of it, we always hear about the heavy European tax system, but first of all there’s not ONE tax system in Europe, some are really heavy some are not. When it comes to small business taxes, in some countries there they pay less taxes than the US companies, in some countries they pay more.

I beleive everyone’s trying to do his best, Europeans like Americans, systems differ but not so much actually. What counts is what isnt going right in the US and what can be corrected and how. It’s not to know that some love European systems and some hate them, we all know that already.
I’ve often heard that these folks loosing their jobs shouldnt be helped cause it’s their fault. Well in such a crisis I see many innocent and good workers being laid. Tomorrow it can be you, me, them and I hope the government will be there to help, even those still having a job and saying nothing should be spent to help…

Posted by Wiz | Report as abusive

let’s consider this problem in a different angle, please.
during the past century, too many straight A graduates are concentrating on private sectors, leaving only a few C grade students to service the public. now the very system is broken…

Posted by jacques n l j w | Report as abusive


remember that health insurance doesn’t equal health care. We currently have a predicted shortage of between 300 and 3000 physicians, if universal health care is established. “Hillary-care” tried to rectify this somewhat by allocating only so many slots for specialists and forcing med students into general practice fields (internal medicine, family practice, ect.) Furthermore with a party in power that is more concerned with tort than treat, getting students to fill those vacancies with be further complicated. With educational funds scarce and directed towards inner-city highschools and college aid, medical school expenses will balloon and deminished returns will make it even less desirable. Can’t even dream of specializing into a lucrative specialty, have to carry greater liability insurance, seeing lower government reimbursements, further reporting requirements to justify every test and procedure … why go into medicine? And with aging doctors and lets not even get into the nursing shortage issue, who is going to treat all these new entitled patients. Also why show any respect to someone willing to go into medicine to help heal the sick when your told its your right as an American (or an illegal who got passed the porous border) to get free first class health care.

Posted by Stephen Robinson | Report as abusive

US individualism two major phrases:
1) What is here for me?
2) I did this for you!

So, government is thinking the same way as all individualists from private and non profit sector. This is country ideology and belief in invisible hand.

Collectivism two phrases are:
1) What did you do for society today?
2) Society did this for you!

I would say from my experience that collective way of thinking is not natural and requires a lot of efforts. Collectivism ideology is idealistic but is needed to shape civilization. I was burned out to serve society 24/7 and live on starvation level when many people did not serve – just chilled out and took advantage from individuals with high personal responsibilities. I think US is developing a new system where personal responsibilities and individualism should serve more society that personal interest.

Posted by Fromformerempire | Report as abusive

Perhaps Germany and France have remained more true to the ideals of the American Colonists, than the US. But the US in mant ways post 1945 is far more communitarian than Britain, while claiming to be less so.

One example that is important today are the bankruptcy laws, and especially that the US does not have “negative equity” of housing in the way we have in England, and I think also in Scotland, though the law is very different there, when those that have their homes repossed are still chased for “debts”.

It is Bismarck’s aristocratic government of Germany that produced a welfare state by 1890, which was being implimented by the Conservative Neville Chamberlain in the 1920s, and completed by War Cabinet of 1940-45. It specified what everyone should eat and wear! The most efficient government ever making do with limited resources to repel Germany.

If Britain and France had listened to the US in 1919, our resources would not have been so limited, and Germany might not have felt impelled to conquer Europe.

Posted by Michael Moore | Report as abusive

All systems, including economic, assume that man will be unfailingly honorable, fair and decent in the execution of each and every system, with minimal and insufficient controls ever established due to unrealistic high expectations of unfailing inherent honor. This glassy-eyed idealism never holds true in actual operation of any manmade system, as man’s basic hard wiring of survival instinct pushes each to get more of the killed meat or dug-up roots than his coworkers get so he will gain superior chances for survival.

That instict is still alive and unchanged within us cavemen many score of millenia down the road, and will always prevent the lasting success of any visionary idealistic system of sharing and giving and placing the common good above all individual interests. Like happiness, human systems are always temporary and thus should be enjoyed for their process, not their conclusions, as all system conclusions, as with permanent and every single minute personal happiness expectations, are failures and can be none other.

If we finally recognize someday in time to save our species that the above is a basic inherent truth and not negative pessimism is when we can start to offset the negative impacts of this truth with a more intelligent and practical understanding and then devise what it would take to control it for superior social results for everyone.

Posted by richard | Report as abusive

When Warren Buffet suggests that “those of us who have benefited the most of capitalism” ought to feel some obligation to plow some of their rich rewards back into the infrastructure, education, and other investments of this nation, I think people should listen.

It’s strange how stock watchers flock to the “Oracle of Omaha” when he has market advice, but merely dismiss his socio-economic views as “leftist” or “loony” when he recognizes the integral function of social safety nets and national investment- what is good for even the least of us (so long as it does not reward laziness), is good for everyone.

You need look no further than the thousands of revolutions and coups to see what happens when the divide between the aristocracy and peasant class gets too wide.

Everyone deserves a decent standard of living in this country which is flush with (albeit concentrated) wealth (and should not be duped into buying things they obviously cannot afford)- so long as laziness is not rewarded. Subprime borrowers may have been foolish or ignorant, but subprime lenders were grossly irresponsible and built the house of cards that is now toppling.

On an unrelated note, I think our American government should do more partnering between staffing firms and unemployment offices to ensure that people who are able to work are offered jobs*- often the “unemployed” are just a hidden job listing away from getting back in the work force.

*this way (if the job search is complimented more by the unemployment office), people will have no excuse not to work (and collect unemployment benefits) if they have been offered a job they turned down.

Posted by MilwaukeeAmerican | Report as abusive

Their Counter-Enlightenment is creating a world that would have been deemed a dystopia a century ago – something so pessimistic that no futurist dared depict a world run by venal and corrupt bankers, protecting as their prime customers the monopolies, real estate speculators and hedge funds whose economic rent, financial gambling and asset-price inflation is turned into a flow of interest in today’s rentier economy. Instead of industrial capitalism increasing capital formation we are seeing finance capitalism strip capital, and instead of the promised world of leisure we are being drawn into one of debt peonage.

the preceding was an excerpt from this article: ontext=va&aid=12418

Posted by Will | Report as abusive

Most rational people acknowledge that quality of life and happiness indexes were created as a deliberate response to the American trump card of world GDP contribution. I do not often line up with the conservatives, but such measures are simply not worth their salt.

Maybe it is time to stop comparing our present situation to the Great Depression and the European social state and start concentrating on how to objectively deal with the unique and real problems at hand. Writing from Germany, I can assure you that the social state has not achieved better economic prospects than those currently enjoyed by those ruthless, individualistic Americans.

In short, stop bitching and start working…there’s always the prospect that one may be paid for the latter.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

It will be very expensive for the U.S. to keep paying for an oversized military when its economy is getting weaker. Even today, if you do the math, you will find that if we Europeans spent the same % of the EU’s combined GDP on military expenses as the U.S. does, the EU would easily be able to mobilize a similar if not larger military force. But why on earth should we? It won’t make us happier. Perhaps more Americans will realize that too.

Posted by Rudiger | Report as abusive

Europe is not just about state intervention and safety nets. I have lived both worlds as a Dutchman,Georgetown Alumn and entrepreneur who lived the American Dream in Europe. I love Americans but do not believe they have the winning system. Ours is one of freedom and responsibility. Individualism is no sin here, greed is.

Europe is an incredible success story. In the past 25 years more than 15 nations have joined the Union voluntarily, replacing their laws with those made in Brussels. The same cannot be said about America.

Posted by Armand Bogaarts | Report as abusive

There is more to the growing situation/crisis than any trite words can help to resolve. This is going to take an awful lot of work by people …. people who will have to work, like it or not. The world economy is a mess because of ‘unfettered’ and ‘unregulated’ actions by those who have held the offices and levers of economic and political power in the ‘Western’ democracies and have intrinsically done what suited their own vested interests for many decades.

The average ‘working people/citizens’ are in need of a large ‘dose’ of education and awareness (something that the ‘vested interests’ certainly will fight to try and obstruct). We all know it bears repeating that “You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time — but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time”.

Now is the time of action for those who have suffered and have been made poorer by the practitioners and supporting mouthpieces of rampant and excess “Individualism” that has oft been a disguise/cover word paired with the word ‘Freedom’ so that extremely narrow self-interests could be served. People in all corners of society must speak out and castigate and reprove the many vile actions of the wicked and greediest but we must also take positive steps to bring about a healthier climate for civilization to continue.

Leaders will be needed who are steady calm and non-violent and who can educate many about the inherent good of a healthy ‘commonwealth’ and why a broader baseline of secured well being is a requirement if our western democracies are to survive and not drift backward into the malaise of sick confrontational obstructionism and the resulting societal chaos that could ensue world wide.

The world community of nations (especially America) need to act in cooperative concert if our world is to stand a chance of seeing any health, harmony and fairness for the six billion who inhabit the surface of the planet. We cannot continue accepting and supporting by action or inaction the conditions allowing for the disparities whereby humans are expected to passively accept conditions ranging from extreme wealth for a relative few on this planet while the overwhelming majority live in conditions that are marginal or in far to many instances in the direst need.

Every man for himself and ‘survival of the fittest’ is not progressive capitalism … rather it is social and economic barbarity that goes against the deepest moral and ethical precepts of living a ‘human’ life . All of mankind’s most cherished religious and cultural doctrines have spelled this out after centuries of slow struggle up from the quagmire of mass ignorance …. We must avoid slipping back into that pit of ignorance if there is to be a future of any human value for generations as yet unborn.

“Rugged Individualism” takes ‘Courage’ and it is my … and your …. responsibility to find that ‘Courage’ to make the world a better place … so we must each take our own personal inventory before we take the inventory of others and ask ourselves what we are doing these days to make this world a better place …..

“Rugged Individualism” is not a selfish thing …. Indeed Courage, Honesty and Honour that are its core components begin for all of us …. in our own mirrors …. and in our own hearts and minds.

Posted by Barrie O. Ward The Canadian Geezer | Report as abusive

I wonder why most people wish to move to the States and not Scandinavia. I lived in Europe and know that immigrants to Europe hope that it is a bridge to the U.S.A. With so many critics about US being so bad, why have we no seen mass immigration to Europe. One thing the USA has is a good number of retarded.And that is why we now have to go from one bad deficit to creating a solution -a worse deficit. Keep drinking the cool aid.

Posted by mary | Report as abusive

To understand the difference you need to know the difference. none of the polls or organizations to can do the justice of living in one system and coming to another. US is 100% better than Europe or any other countries regardless of the polls. WOuld you like to bribe someone to get a job? or get to university? Would you like to be stuck in the same position for years and years and be laughed at openly? Just because someone does not like you. Would you like to be descirminated because your legs do not look to cute or you are overweight for position of Administrative Assistance?
It’s easy to draw a comparision by polls. Yet, as someone has mentioned, we do not see mass exodus people from US to Europe. Why not? Switzerland has higher living standards than US. So is higher taxes. How about 70% of your wager go to support that higher living. Feels good? And after that you still have to beg and ask social workers to help you out when you need help. It’s not as easy as it seens and not as pretty either.
I agree with goverment help to less fortunate who are not able to help themselves due to their age (children and senior citizens). But I do not agree with the monetary help to people who do not know how to manage their finances and live within their means. I would set up mandatory class Finance 101 for them to pass and demostrate that they can handle bail-out money. Not to give them out $1,000 if they pay their mortgage for a year. Educate!!! Do not make them dependent on goverment hand outs. There is no end to that. Make them learn what they need to do. It’s not easy and takes discipline, but that is the only way to make it better.

Proud American (ex-European)

Posted by Thinker | Report as abusive

I hate to tell everyone that there will ALWAYS be discrimination, poverty, and people that need more help than others, SORRY. Life just isn’t fair, if I’m blind should your government make everyone blind as well? If I’m in a wheelchair-retarded-poor-whatever, come on!
Some people do need help, (mostly in third world countries, the poor I know still have money for cell phones and cable) but I expect greatness even through poverty, or handicap.
I can’t believe how many socialists/communists are coming out of the closet, isn’t there any honorable people left in the world? Shouldn’t we have the expectation that people will strive for greatness?? Or should we dumb-down the expectations so we can all be equally miserable, and kill the Rugged SO American Spirit.

Posted by kansan | Report as abusive

Repubs would ask this question “would you rather stand on the deck of an aircraft carrier or get blow over”?

My answer: “stand on deck, but if I did get blown over, I hope there would be a net there to catch me”.

Posted by Rodney Patterson | Report as abusive

Now where do you go when you don’t want the beg from the government? It used to be the United States. Where do you go to live as you want to live and enjoy the fruits of your labour? It used to be the United States. Where is the land of unlimited opportunity? It used to be the United States.

Words cannot express my sadness.

Posted by eegor | Report as abusive

If we become France I won’t have to move there! Yeah!

Posted by Nursehope | Report as abusive

Oh my God! The great hue and cry of the Republicans during the Great Depression was that the Democrats were robbing America of its rugged individualism. Lot of fools bought into that until the year of the grasshopper plagues in the Dakotas.

Ernie Pyle wrote a thousand word piece that described what the grasshoppers did. He asked in town where to find some ravished fields. Drove out there and couldn’t find them. As far as he could see, he saw nothing but dirt fields. A farmer explained that the grasshoppers devoured everything down to the dirt, even following the roots into the ground.

So, what was the farmer, his wife and children to do: Starve that winter rather than be humiliated by the Republicans and their one-size-philosophy-fits-all situations or go on relief and survive to try again? Wisely, and morally, the farmer accepted relief. Lot of those farms were brought back years later by their owners – especially important when we needed extra food during WW II.

Amazing that senior, experienced Republican politicians are so ignorant they are saying the same crap again, eighty years after it was proven a failure. The U.S. South really is politically deaf and irrelevant, isn’t it.

Posted by Jumper | Report as abusive

Mr. Debusmann has obviously sold his soul to the gods of socialism and the coffers of big-government. I find it ironic that so many people are willing to sell out capitalism in this current economic crisis, but are either too ignorant or too naive to understand that the problems with today’s world have been caused by the enforced-fraternity of big-government. Most choose to ignore the fact that since the Civil War we in America have had a predominately “federalist” (centralized) government that has gradually become the largest waste of resources in the world. Since when did a “good standard of living” become a right? We have forgotten that our fundamental rights are to have “life, liberty and the [PURSUIT] of happiness.” [Emphasis mine] The problem with America today is that we view practically everything as a right: Healthcare is a right. Having a car is a right. Having a house is a right. Having low gas prices is a right. These ideas are inherently inconsistent with what America is (was) all about. It may sound “ruggedly individual” but it is nonetheless true that the great thing about America is that here we have (or at least had) the ability to make our own way on hard work, dedication, and innovation and eventually our reward could be (note the “could”) prosperity. As the centralized government expands and seeks to give all men and women the right to happiness, as opposed to the right to pursue happiness, this core of American values begins to fade. In their stead, we see widespread laziness, inefficiency, complacency, and eventual poverty. Regardless, we fail to recognize the source of the problem and turn again and again to government to solve all our problems because we believe that we have a “right” to a regime that solves all our problems.

But this is not a new problem or one that could not have been prevented. The fundamental problems of large centralized government and forced brotherhood were ideological errors that our Founding Fathers saw in the English system of government and sought to correct with the government formed by the Constitution. That Government (which was fundamentally a coalition “type” of government that provided for the common defense and the settling of conflicts between the States) was designed to keep absolute power at bay and promote liberty. Picture yourself in this sort of model: if you lived in a state that became oppressive, dangerous, or corrupt, you could leave and go to any other state that you wanted (i.e. a better one). That means that if you paid exorbitant taxes on your land or your income check, and your neighbor state didn’t, you could go to that state and be ruled by their laws. This model supported the common good while preserving the individualistic aspects. Besides, small State governments are more in tune with the wishes of their people and more directly able to address real needs. Some argue that this same concept holds true today (and it is true in some minor details it does), but they fail to recognize that the large federal system has created an aggressive uniformity between states that ultimately suppresses liberty. If anyone really disagrees simply observe how the current “hive-mind” of tenured and bickering celebrities (our legislators) have consistently made “sweeping changes” or held federal money over the head of the States. I think they have done a great job wasting away our wealth and the greatness of America. These legislators are much like those in old-Europe: they were an aristocratic society of parliament that was out-of touch with the needs of the people. They lived grand lives with grand parties (fundraisers) and traveled all across the world to discover the problems with it. All the while, they forgot about the people they were supposed to represent. The eventual result was revolution. I hope that isn’t the course we are setting for our children

Posted by Mike Douglass | Report as abusive

Rugged individualism and small government have been code words used by those right wing proponents of unrestricted capitalism as a way to keep America divided and unopposed to those that control the marketplace. Less government was sold as a way to keep government off our backs but in reality it has meant deregulation and a lack of oversight, peanut butter anyone?

The rugged individual in America better be rugged because they are on there own in regard to health care if they lose their job – or sadly even if they have a job in many cases. I have friends who live in the Netherlands, they pay very high taxes. Are they happy? Yes. The last time they worried about being able to afford high quality health care or college costs was – never!

In the global game of Monopoly the ultra capitalist are winning. They can afford the best lobbyists and have been allowed to set their own agenda. There is no issue or group they will not exploit to achieve their ends -profit.

I pray that President Obama and others of conscious can help the majority see the light before is it too late.

Posted by Bob Bieniek | Report as abusive

There is nothing in the constitution about “rugged individualism”. There is plenty about individual liberty and freedom. What you demean as “rugged individualism” is the ability for individuals to associate with whom they choose and take live of their lives in the way they wish. As government gets more powerful it will degrade those freedoms and choices. It will tend to train individuals to not think for themselves and to come to depend on big government. You cannot expect a small cadre of individuals in the Fed govn. (no matter how smart) to be able to make the decisions of 300 mill people and expect those decisions to be efficient or effective. Europe has had lack luster growth for a long time, it is in a slow spiral downwards. Absolutely there is a place and need for government, but primarily to provide security and safety and clamp down on fraud, and yes prompt the markets to do those things that are beyond the business cycle. Centralized power should send the chills down everyones spine.

Posted by Geoff Stevenson | Report as abusive

In this state, social entitlement programs have literally crushed the economy to the point where government can no longer pay any debts. Where, you ask is that? California, of course. Europe became what it is now economically, a mess, within the last 50 years. Largely, the reasons can be attributed to socialization of nearly everything. Countries in the EU without this socialism like Norway and Belgium and to some extent the UK are being crushed under the weight of the EU’s productivity deficit. Look at the social unrest. Did you bury your head in the sand as Paris rioted a couple of months ago? So yes, unfortunately, it would be horrendous to go in that direction. I think that is why we are so vehement and dead set against bank nationalization, and lifting up dead weight companies like GM whom have been stunted by their intractable shortcomings, such as prevailing wages. So keep fighting for Communism Debusman. We will keep kicking you down harder and harder.

Posted by Chad Corbin | Report as abusive

The strength of the U.S. economy has historically relied upon individualism and INNOVATION. The concept of collectivism (and labor unions) deters innovation and entrepreneurialism, both reliant upon free will, perseverance and creativity.

America is the most charitable country in the world and has tremendous compassion for the less fortunate; but Americans do not feel the government is better equipped to create solutions to individual problems. A more efficient and effective system relies upon the strength and goodwill of the family and community, not government.

Back to economics…In a global marketplace, competition is the driving force that enhances products and services and improves the quality of life. When is the last time efficiency and customer service were words resonating in your head when talking to an official with lifetime employment in a government agency? Let’s stop butchering individualism for taking risk with the hopes of improving the lives of themselves and their families, communities and even society. The communist ideology of “equal distribution of wealth” has been tested countless times and exemplified a tremendous consistency of failure.

It’s time for the U.S. government to exemplify leadership by GETTING OUT OF THE WAY of our “less-free” market economy and stop exacerbating wealth redistribution! In a global economy, individuals and companies have the choice to locate operations in many different countries and economic systems. Let’s ensure that the American economy remains the world’s foremost haven for intellectuals, entrepreneurs and innovators to evolve the technologies, products and services that will improve our COLLECTIVE quality of life. Only through respect for individualism will the collective ultimately benefit.

Posted by Charlie Miles | Report as abusive

It makes me ill to see all of these weak-spined mambie pambies talking about rugged individualism. Sure its easy to be rugged when you can count on being backed up by collectively financed institutions that ensure national defense, safe streets (kind of), a legal code that allows structured commerce and regulations that ensure food quality. Socialist sympathizers! Whatever happened to “fight for it, kill it, eat it or die!”? Whimps.

Posted by Paul | Report as abusive

As a European who lived in and visited the US for various short periods over a number of years what always struck me as surprising, was not the amount of wealth generated by this great capitalist engine (which from TV I had come to expect), but the amount of poverty that seemed to be pervasive through out all the states, both public and private poverty.
I was struck in particular by the lack of ‘public’ wealth. The lack of things we Europeans take for granted, fine train stations, joined up transport, good public hospitals, and the generally higher standard of finish to even simple things, rails made of stainless steel, steps of granite. Not of course that Europe is made of granite and stainless steel, or that it does not exist in the US, but it is my over all impression that in Europe, ‘we the people’ give the people the best, where possible. And this is not a new tradition as both Milan train station or London’s Victoria will testify, nor is it one that has been lost, as Berlin’s new central station will testify.
In the US it seems the basis of governance is not so much ‘We the people’ as ‘I the individual’ and that has consequences not just for the creation and sharing of ‘public wealth’ but in attitudes held to such issues as the right to bear arms.
The US will become like Europe, but perhaps like Europe, it may take 2,000 years of them beating themselves up, before they reach our still very imperfect level. I hope not, I suspect their innate ingenuity and the odd economic crises will get them there sooner.

Posted by Robert Baker | Report as abusive

I have no problem with a social safety net –

The problem is government allows a reasonable program that provides a safety net for people in need to turn into a hammock.

Most government programs rely on an income test – if you make less than $xx,xxx you qualify –

So should the guy that

Dropped out of high school – never held an honest job in his life – and by any reasonable measure is a lazy worthless turd –

Be treated the same as

A person who worked hard all his life – but has lost his job because of a poor economy.

Posted by Bill | Report as abusive

What are you Europe-haters talking about? Socialism? what socialism? Socialism died in 1989 people. The state takes care of healthcare and social security, infrastructure and policing and you call this “socialism”? That’s just smart government. Keeps society intact. The Europe-haters are in need of a very fundamental lesson on how Europe works. First of all, if it wasn’t for the US bank induced mortgage crisis, Iceland wouldn’t have defaulted and England wouldn’t be in such deep trouble. The French are the French. They’ll protest anything just because thy can. God bless them.

Where I live, in the Czech Republic, we’ve seen growth rates of around 5% for the last 15 years. It’s slowed down to -1% because of the crisis. It’s not because this is not a land of innovators of entrepreneurs. It’s because we’re we’re a net-exporter country and no one is buying anything right now. Government plays little role in business except that of taxing us a flat 15% rate. We like many European countries use a flat, non-progressive income tax. Add 14% for health and social insurance and that’s it. Before you go on about “Oh my God you get taxed 29%” remember that if I need to go to the doctor for a checkup or major surgery, it’s already paid for. Also, as an American living here for 5 years I’m already entitled to Social Security payments.

If I want to buy anything, I can walk out of my house, get in my car (or take a tram since we’ve got excellent public transportation) go to the mall (YES we have malls) and buy it. The state doesn’t tell me if I can or can’t. If I want to open a business (and I already have) I get the necessaary paperwork done and voila! I Have a business.

The point is, don’t bash Europe. America’s a great place. I was born there. I love going home to see family. But to make Europe sound like such a backwards place as the majority of you here make it to be is wrong. Most of you making these lofty idealogical bashings of Europe have not even been here. Unfortunately you’re just repeating repeating what you’re hearing on the radio talk shows and cable TV, so please keep the babble down.

Posted by Sanan Phutrakul | Report as abusive

Look at the history of the Roman Empire. It will give you the reasons why European style of government causes all the riots. Appeasement of self, of populace and the dependancy that results leads to bratty behaviour even by self-styled grown-ups.

There is a saying that “nothing is new under the sun” and truly history is replete with examples of what we are, have and will be going through for a very, very long time (I mean millennia).

Posted by ClementW | Report as abusive

Ahh, the endless discussion about the balance of free market and government.
I am 40 and have lived in Germany and the US for about equal amounts in my life. I am about to become a dual citizen of Germany and the US. And believe me I have thought about this topic of degrees of individualism and the collective a lot over the years. The answer is (drumroll) : BOTH !
Yes, we are individuals and yes, we are all ONE! We will look out for our own, our voice and ego, and yet we cannot survive without others, without our family, friends, tribes and the amazing diversity that even makes life possible on this planet.
That is a deeply human condition, and understanding that means understanding the dualism of the one and the group. I believe that the most incredible human accomplishments have always been a matter of “rugged individuals” AND the awareness and love for our collective existence, history and responsibility for our environment of living beings. The answer then is in finding the balance between both. In Germany they call it social market economy. Knowing that you can express yourself while knowing that you will be supported in your essential human needs especially regarding health, food, shelter and human dignity.

Why have just one, if you can, or in fact NEED to have both?

Posted by Matthias | Report as abusive

Plenty of unintended consequences of what has been and remains the largest economy in the world becoming a socialist economy. This wouldn’t just affect America, but all of Europe in a rather negative way. Europe has benefited from our more open market policies of trade. In a socialist economy we would have to become much more protectionist as Europe has been. We would also need to reevaluate our more open and transparent government, relative to European governments. We would need to prop up industry and put in speed bumps for foreign companies looking to do business in the U.S. We would also need to sharply curtail immigration. These are hard consequences of socialism. The reason is largely because we are choosing a more progressive method of taxation that stifles domestic innovation. This will slow job creation in the country, raise natural regular unemployment rates and produce an ever growing desire to restrict immigration due to our much higher unemployment. If America turned to a Euro style solution, it wouldn’t be long before Europe comes to the conclusion that they can no longer survive with their socialist policies. France and Germany already have been experiencing the pains of their socialist experiment. These two leading European nations have chronically high unemployment, and an ever older average age. They can see the view and it isn’t good. They can also see the difficulty of reversing policies that become built into the economy. Witness the union strikes in France, and the inability to attract foreign companies to invest long term in their nations.

Posted by Duude | Report as abusive

The Golden Mean has become the Golden Mediocracy.

I gave the United States of America the Quantum Unified Theory of Lattice Quantum Dynamics (Em/Q) the most important advance in Science and I have to listen to a bunch of retirees and unemployed persons complain about the size of their government checks while I can not get a response from the SBA, Wachovia or JPMorgan.


My formula and my property which can be used for more efficient calculations by supercomputer platforms have already burgeoned Applications Research around the Globe. With no ROYALTY PAYMENT or RESPECT for my $880,000.00 in RESEARCH COSTS.

I receive no government benefits and am living on stale corn flakes.

Russia at least paid Grisha. If you’re an innovator in the United States, you’re going to spend more time teaching a bunch of idiots by filling out an endless stream of forms that allow all the bureaucrats (and your competitiors) all the time in the world.

Which is exactly why in the New Economy, the United States will go BANKRUPT, if it does not pick up the pace in FUNDING SMALL BUSINESS.

Doubt what I say, I called Systemic Failure on EXACTLY on the day BSC failed over 2 months in ADVANCE.

Begin a Brilliant American in the Era of the GOLDEN MEDIOCRACY is the worst fate you can be born to.

I wish every day I were born a stupid cow. At least then I could have been an Investment Banker.

Posted by James Reginald Harris, Jr | Report as abusive

Here’s what I know about “rugged individualism”. I spent 12 years in the United States Marine Corps. One of the premire fighting forces in human history. I didn’t hear the term once. We heard “gung ho” a lot. It’s chinese for all pull together. We were taught to work as a team, from the fire team level all the way up through Division and Expeditionary Force levels. We were taught that you don’t ever leave another Marine behind. If you come out at all you come out with your wounded and your dead.
We hear a great deal lately about the “geatest generation” who won the second world war. Every private soldier in that war was in grade school or junior high in 1929. Every one of them grew up under the New Deal. Every one of them was raised under what the right likes to call a “socialist” government. That was the America that conquered the world. The one brought up to recognize a social compact between the individual and the society and government. “Rugged Individualist” in Marine Grunt translates into “hurry for me and fuck you”. We called those guys shitbirds and nobody wanted to serve with them.

Posted by IaintBacchus | Report as abusive

Public Health care is not an option – it is a necessity.
Every employer contributes to each employee’s health care payments. To free employers from this massive expense would do so much good to small, medium and even large companies, who would have one less reason to outsource jobs and they’d be free to hire more employees at home and invest in new technologies. Why pay health insurance companies for anything?
There is absolutely no reason to completely imitate the loopholes that allow a public health care system to be abused. By the contrary, with the examples provided by France, just to mention one, the US should know the pittfalls beforehand and avoid them altogether (or at least, keep them to a minimum).
Employees will have a weight off their backs if they know that, if they lose their job, at least they can get the health care they need without going bankrupt. How many people do you think have lifelong illnesses and injuries due to the very nature of the work they’ve always performed, from the computer wiz at the desk with carpal tunnel, to the cleaning lady handling hazmats?
Public Health care is not a means to enslave the american public. Why not, in the wealthiest nation in the world, can’t there be Public Health care?
Is it because of the expense? I don’t think so: See how easy it is to perpetuate a useless war in Iraq? Or how easy and how fast it is give away hundreds of billions of dollars to banks?
The banks are not going to help me pay for my hospital bills. They’ll lend the money and then I’ll owe them. With interest.
As far as paying hundreds of dollars on health insurance every month, it’s a rapacious activity and the insurance companies suffer from the exact same greed and lack of good ethics that banks do. If anybody remembers the insurance issues with the hurricane Katrina victims, they’ll see my point.
Right now, I don’t see rugged individualism. I see corporate lobbies completely dominating the individual by deciding everything about the individual’s life. Why should employees and their respective employers be forced to pay such high price for health and have no option besides none?
In the future, though, I see more pride as a nation to be independent of private health care and private insurance and not be so willing to grovel to private institutions when things go wrong (and they always go wrong sometime).
Right now, the United States is a nation of beggars and cut-throats, if that is what you call rugged individualism because there is no option available to anybody except to pay up and shut up.
Health insurance companies rule the rooster. Their fees pervade every aspect of the american business.
One more thing: public health care is not synonymous to obliterating private health care but it’s a welcome respite from the struggle many have to keep themselves afloat. What’s it got to do with centuries old ideologies anyway? This is today, the here-here-and-now.

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive

Hehe, this article is seeking the best from US and Europe model. Stop searching at the wrong place, it is time to Canadize USA.

Posted by Fliujniligui | Report as abusive

I have had “State” sponsored medicare all my life (I’m in my 60’s) and have two grown children. Everything about our medical care has been covered by “The State” by way of my income taxes and I have NO complaints. I was raised on a farm in some poverty in the early fifties but I am well to do now by way of my lifetime of work as an educator and my husbands lifetime of work and paying our own way. In addition both of our children have college degrees and are well employed and have complete medical service coverage.

We live in Saskatchewan the ‘Birthplace’ of MEDICARE and I suggest that the ill educated right wing “Rugged Individuals” who are posting comments in here (that are frankly grossly ignorant) do a bit of research. MEDICARE works and does not cost more than what Americans are paying – it costs less!

The secret of MEDICARES success is that it is universal in coverage and is supported by compulsory income taxation – better to pay taxes for health than for many other foolish things.

I defy any nay sayer in here to challenge my assertaions about medicare in Saskatchewan – come here and observe and learn!

PS: Poster IaintBacchus says it like it si … he is a Marine and a man who understands why there is need for a return to “The Social Compact” in America.

Posted by Elisabeth W. | Report as abusive

I have had “State” sponsored medicare all my life (I’m in my 60’s) and have two grown children. Everything about our medical care has been covered by “The State” by way of my income taxes and I have NO complaints. I was raised on a farm in some poverty in the early fifties but I am well to do now by way of my lifetime of work as an educator and my husbands lifetime of work and paying our own way. In addition both of our children have college degrees and are well employed and have complete medical service coverage.

We live in Saskatchewan the ‘Birthplace’ of MEDICARE and I suggest that the ill educated right wing “Rugged Individuals” who are posting comments in here (that are frankly grossly ignorant) do a bit of research. MEDICARE works and does not cost more than what Americans are paying – it costs less!

The secret of MEDICARES success is that it is universal in coverage and is supported by compulsory income taxation – better to pay taxes for health than for many other foolish things.

I defy any naysayer in here to challenge my assertions about medicare in Saskatchewan – come here and observe and learn!

PS: Poster IaintBacchus says it like it is … he is a Marine and a man who understands why there is need for a return to “The Social Compact” in America.

Posted by Elisabeth W. | Report as abusive

It is simply a fact that in most western European countries people live in cities were the well-being of each individual is emphasized, modern infrastructure is maintained, culture is valued, and everyone is given a chance for a dignified life in comfort and security. Modern healthcare is accessible to everyone, without the notion of a 2nd class citizen that just didn’t work hard enough to deserve their basic human needs covered. With less extreme polarization in salaries, even the lower pay scale allows for a respectful life, families to be raised with fewer worries, and many dreams fulfilled. In short, Europe is were the American Dream is lived.

Posted by Eurodream | Report as abusive

Medicare or Government health care, whatever you want to call it is always second rate. If you disagree, explain why the U.S. had MRI machines in every city with a population above 50K for years while the country of Canada had one machine. Socialism never works for the people.

Posted by South Dakota | Report as abusive

It makes me laugh all the comments I hear from U.S Republicans about European socialism. When have they ever lived in any off these ‘European countries’ they talk about? When have they analyzed in depth the differences between the macro-economic policies of such countries? I heard the other day a guy on Fox News claiming that if universal healthcare was introduced in the U.S (as it is in the UK) he would have to wait for hours to be seen by a doctor and could not choose his doctor. This is just fallacious. In the UK (as anyone who has bothered to make even a cursory examination of the healthcare system in the UK would know – i.e. not the guy on Fox News) one still has the option of seeking private healthcare in the UK and most people who get healthcare through their employer do just that every day of the year. And you can choose whomever you want to treat you. The problem of the American right is simply ignorance and a great example of the rule that in the U.S if you shout long enough and hard enough then your views will prevail, no matter how wrong or dangerous those views. It is a great fraud by the American-right being perpetrated on the average working American. You should call out these idiot right-wing commentators to confirm their ill-researched facts more, but I suppose as they only ever seem to interview each other then that would be difficult to do! Land of free speech? What a load of rubbish. I would move back to the UK in a heartbeat (were it not for the fact that my U.S-born wife wants to live here). The U.S has no soul. And no – for the record I am not some social-security-scrounging soap-avoider. I probably earn several times what the guy on Fox News does through my various businesses. I am a social-liberal and fiscal conservative. I just don’t like the idea of a country where if a car hits you the medics are looking through your wallet for your insurance card before they try to restart your heart!!! I would gladly give up my third range-rover and pay slightly higher taxes for universal healthcare so some poor chap would not be subjected to this inhumane treatment.

Posted by Rob | Report as abusive

We are not all “rugged individuals” nor do we aspire to be? But we don’t all trust government’s ability to avoid corruption and do what’s best for itself rather than for the system. We believe people in government too long, start “stealing” from us and we have much proof of that. And we don’t like what we see and hear about certain European countries: In France the power of the Unions frequently brings the country to a halt. and in the UK (a country I dearly love…it’s my family history, after all), it appears that there’s an even greater degradation of culture (than ours), an alarming and growing minority power, and a less than satisfactory health care system. I watch British TV and even the Brits joke about their health care. And with the Internet we can read about the various problems there, from shortages of MRIs to lack of good administration in many of the hospitals. America is many times bigger in both population and size, so whatever problems you face there, we are likely to face on a larger scale.

Posted by Jennifer | Report as abusive

My wife has relatives in the Netherlands-
I’ve been there 4 times in the last 16 years.
their health care is so bad that she doesn’t know how most of here family died recently, because of the system’s quality. My in-laws have had such bad health care over there that in the US they had most of the teeth pulled out and major orthodontia done so they can live normally.

that IS proof from current EUROPE that Gov’t run healthcare doesn’t work, nor the model we’re adopting here. anyone that runs a business (most libs and soc’s doen’t) are well aware that a big bureaucracy is never efficient.
And most of all-all proponents here are in dire need of a history lesson:
FDR made all the same mistakes the Barack hu’s-insane Obama and his Clintonites are making:
spending our way out of a crisis with debt, caused by spending in debting people with money for houses they can’t afford. It is a fact that unemployment went up more under the ‘New Deal’ and the depression worsened.
Wake up people, and learn the lessons. History is the great teacher. Stop panicking and think logically.

Posted by John thinking logical-not emotional | Report as abusive

Mr. Debusmann, you ask why Europeanization is such a bad thing and contend that the standard of living is higher in Europe citing statistics from the United Nation’s annual Human Development Index. I contend that the UN Index is not a true measurement of standard of living. It is instead a measure of only those attributes that the UN values. My spouse is an immigrant from Europe who left because of her perception that the standard of living in her native Italy was declining. She was escaping the European nanny state. I don’t believe she is alone. In fact, the USA supports more legal immigrants than any other nation in the world. Each year there are over 75,000 people that decide to leave Europe for the USA. ( t_102904.pdf)

Is it not a higher standard of living that these people are seeking as they define it?


Posted by Josh | Report as abusive

Let me lay out some plain facts. My wife and I are productive individuals. We work 4 jobs between us. We own 2 businesses. Because of bureaucracy and taxes, at the end of this year, only I will be employed working 8-5 for a corporation. The businesses will be dissolved and we will not longer pay fees/taxes/licenses to govt or hire employees. (If people are not working, it is going to be hard to collect taxes!) I may be one of the first to opt out of the system, but experience has taught me I am never the last. There is no longer any incentive for us to work hard if we cannot keep what we earn or retain the autonomy to act in the client’s best interest. We can better use the time to produce things for ourselves that we now buy and earn income “on paper” rather than by actually doing some thing or producing some thing useful. Govt needs people like us much more than we need govt.

I understand that the state can steal and confiscate my money without my permission. Taking what does not belong to you is still stealing. (Thou shalt not steal. Any one remember hearing that? It does not say “except for govt”.) If it is mandated that every one will “participate” in the socialized health care program, I want to know how it will be done. Will they haul me in in handcuffs and truss me up or drug me to force me to submit to an annual medical exam? Or is it just my money they are after? This is not the kind of medical care I need or want, so why should I pay for it? I know what I am talking about because I have seen the legislation. The sheeple who believe they will get some thing for nothing do not understand that it will be controlled by special interests who intend to profit.

By the way, one of the businesses I will close is medical. The best and brightest have opportunities else where. They will evacuate first, leaving only workers who have no better opportunities.

We do not need more govt intrusion into every aspect of our lives. We need many of the programs and laws already in existence repealed.

I suuggest govt just leave people alone.
What a revolutionary concept!

Posted by Joe | Report as abusive

In Oregon there is a Baby at OHSU, that needs a heart transplant. The babies parents have insurance, but it won’t cover the Million++ price tags the Dr.s require to do the surgery and replace the heart. So the baby dies. This is happening everywhere, many many children are taken off the list, due to the economic statis of their parents. What i want to know is, will Medicare / Socialized Medical coverage end the needless death of our children. The system now rewards the insurance companies, including the Dr’s who are content with bankrupting hard working Americans. This issue is from bottom up, not top down. Obviously you that speak against medicare such as what Canada has, haven’t lost a precious baby or child, who other wise could have lived a productive life, if they recieved treatment.Show me a Insurance company who cares, there’s not one…Why do you think Lieberman hangs on the outside, he has been in the big Insurance companies pocket for years, right along with many Republicans. Look at ther voting records. I know in my heart, the young people who came out to vote get this. If they have anything to do with it, the old system will die, and a system that helps all, from the bottom up will come to light…the dross is floating to the top

Posted by Christo | Report as abusive

I see “rugged individualism” every day on the highway as people cut me off, tailgate and try to keep me from merging. I see “rugged individualism” nearly everyday when I read about the latest homicides in the paper. “Rugged individualism” rears its head continually when I see all the people who just don’t care about anyone but themselves. I wave goodbye to American jobs offshored to maximize profits for our “Rugged individualists”. I’ve had just about enough of rugged individualism.

Posted by Nubo | Report as abusive

For me, the US is not becoming Europe FAST ENOUGH!

Posted by Skip | Report as abusive

In the end human nature will trump this discussion, everyone loves a politician handing stuff out. Why spend 800 bbn – why not $800 trillion? As the incentive for productive work declines in the US over the next decade because of this liberal debacle, so will invention, world safety and world creation of wealth. The Europeans have never been capable of protecting themselve, and when one of our ports is finally incenerated by one of the Gitmo releasees it will be a sad day. That, my commrades will trump the liberal whining for big Socialism. I won’t really feel that good saying “I told you so”.

Sadly, its likely we have created so much wealth, that our generation has lost sight of how it was done. The terrible ways of the past aren’t all bad. The 85% media that voted the Socialist in have both personal and professional reputations to protect. In short its like the Man made Global Warming hoax – its part of their religious identity. As for me, I’ll never spend another dime on a Reuters, AP, USA today, NYT, etal media product. That’s where I’m voting with my remaining dollars. And I mean never, checked out, NADA. Union “Journalists” will find a way to get a piece of bailout money that they are incapable of earning on their own. Capitalism is dead. Tax success, forget the fact that when big oil made $40 bbn that $10 bbn went into taxes/medicare/medicaid/roads/etal and Union and state pensions swelled. Thats true wealth creation. Liberals today tax acheivement as unfair. Payment for production and acheivement? Gone.

Have a good evening.

Posted by D Bark | Report as abusive

“Greece, France, Bulgaria and Iceland have been shaken by riots, mass protests and strikes. No sign of that in the United States – yet.

Are rugged individualists less prone to protests and riots?”

Those countries have trades unions, who look out for their members’ rights and wellbeing. America has steadfastly (and often violently) refused to allow unions a foothold, branding them communist, unpatriotic, unAmerican, etc. This is why I and many thousands of others could have our employment recently terminated with no explanation or recourse. If workers were allowed to mobilize and protest en masse, they might be listened to a little more. As it is, the people who make up the electorate in this country have no rights just now to a job, insurance, or even a roof over their heads.

Posted by montims | Report as abusive

This in response to the Eurpdreamers. I’ve lived in Germany half my life and your premise of a idillic perfect europe doesn’t exist. As far a health care goes, German Docs differential between public (state) and private insurance. Guess which patients get the Professor?
As far as all being equal, if your family is not originally from Germany your seen as oustlander (out lander). Even if your are born in Germany. Not to meantion the regional differences, Swabian, Hessen , Bavarian……
Hey- they take care of all people. Did you hear about people freezing to death this winter, some in there own homes. How about the summer three years ago when allot of old French people died due to the heat.
Another point- we created this Utopia called Europe. We stop them from fighting among themselves. We beat them and told them how to live.
America is the most generous, selfless, country in the world. what you want is heaven and it just does exist in our realm.

Posted by Gonzo | Report as abusive

We need to be ourselves, not a copy of Europe. Someone else may try to be first with an idea, but being first is not always being right! We must think seriously what are the ramifications of an act, then direct our thinking to those who can make good things happen.. Only well thought out ideas should be proposed. Hear both sides of an argument, then act well and good in the interests of God and His creations! Having the true interests of the bulk of humanity must be uppermost in the ideas of our leadership!

Posted by Gordon Toudt, Sr. | Report as abusive

The right wind agenda has killed what ever rugged individualism there is; because for too long we believed their lies. No doubt the lack of protests show Americans have been too busy being individualists paying past bue bills and have cowered into submission by the few individuals that have actually control this country. No don’t wake up-you cannot handle what a greedy few has done to OUR-the majority’s, county.

How long will America listen to this pathetic chant? Well I hope it has lost its catchy sound bites and personalities-even Rush Limbaugh has few Republican friends now, because it was only celebrity and spectacle, nothing humanly important here. A whole generation of lives have been lost to VCRs and distractions that amounted to squabble and a fear that ran paycheck to paycheck. A well crafted symphony of obliteration that has left the many rugged individualists with nothing to show for their hard work. Plenty of people played by the rules and in the end after producing nothing but cheap marketable crap they are buried or burned with nothing to show for what was a real life potential:. I have seen a family business of 30 years come to its knees when his wife got cancer. Having lost everything at the first big medical issue, retirees get coned when the medical bills kick in and they loose everything they worked for in their rugged individualists country. We have a great country and I am glad Americans have begun to take it back from what is really just a pack of wolves at a kill. We have squandered too many lives all because some few Americans wanted to control and maintain a pathetic display of money.

This right wing ideology has ran its course and now has no new ideas, big surprise. And just like the Monopoly game has to end at some point, America must get up from this and find something important to do with their lives.

Posted by Russell Spears | Report as abusive