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Social Welfare in Europe and North America

This is a guest post from Andrew Zvirzdin.  Originally from upstate New York, Andrew is currently pursuing a Master's degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Bologna, Italy. He previously studied at Université Libre Bruxelles, University of Rome Tor Vergata, and Brigham Young University. He has worked on the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament and as an Assistant Editor for Scandinavian Studies. Andrew specializes in political economy, international finance, and EU–US relations.

Andrew ZvirzdinFreedom Fries are out of style, but Europe is still taking a beating this campaign season. Republicans are gleefully using Barack Obama's recent visit to Europe as evidence that he wishes to import European-style welfare states back to the United States “to grab even more of our liberty and destroy our hard-earned livelihood,” as Mike Huckabee recently put it.

Just how evil are European welfare states compared to the United States?

OECD data indicates that the differences may not be as large as we may think. Consider two key indicators:
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Huckabee: Obama's "European Ideas" Threaten America's Freedom

Mike Huckabee, who finished second in the Republican presidential primaries, said at the Republican National Convention:

John McCain offers specific ideas to respond to a need for change. But let me say there are some things we don't want to change: freedom, security, and the opportunity to prosper. Barack Obama's excellent adventure to Europe... (LAUGHTER) ... took his campaign for change to hundreds of thousands of people who don't even vote or pay taxes here. But let me hasten to say that it's not what he took there that concerns me. It's what he brought back: European ideas that give the government the chance to grab even more of our liberty and destroy our hard-earned livelihood.

He's right. Americans should never travel to Europe. The danger of brainwashing is too severe. Europeans are so sinister: They attract American teenager with their small freedoms. And once these Americans return to the US, they reduce freedom and liberty in the heartland. They will join Obama's communist party and take away your guns, domesticate you by providing free health care and make you addicted to Dutch weed, Belgian chocolate, German sauerkraut, Italian cappuccino, and French surrender-monkey cheese so that Europe gets richer and America poorer.

Two years ago, I wrote the post "Using the United States to Scare Germans." Perhaps I should write one about "Using Europe to Scare Americans."

Related posts in the Atlantic Review:

Huckabee: United States Does Integration Better than Europe

The Euro-American Religious Divide

Europe-bashing has Diminishing Returns

Europhobic Wash Times Editorial about the "EUSSR"

Huckabee: United States Does Integration Better than Europe

Mike Huckabee is a political rockstar in the United States.  Even atheist Democrats who disagree with many of his policies cannot help but be charmed by the former governor.  My friend and a fellow blogger Kevin (one such atheist Democrat) gives his take on this phenomenon at the blog Wyatt Gwyon:
Of the Republican candidates, Huckabee is the most straightforward in presentation and generally the most rigorous in his analyses… I certainly do not concur with the majority of the political positions that stereotypically come with his fundamentalist Christian system of belief, but I am clear on what he believes and can respect his convictions to those beliefs for their principled consistency. Huckabee is a profoundly known factor.
IMHO, style is what has buoyed Huckabee’s presidential bid.  It is not a coincidence that his campaign picked up momentum only a week after he became “Chuck Norris Approved” in a humorous commercial run  prior to him sweeping the Iowa primaries last week.

Huckabee has nonetheless been criticized for lacking a solid foreign policy platform.  This week, he dabbled on the issue of US-European relations by speculating who is better at cultural integration.  As reported by the National Review Online:
It is also difficult for us, with our culture of assimilation, to understand that life for European Muslims is different from life for American Muslims.  Muslims in Britain or the Netherlands or Germany are second-class citizens because those countries have more homogenous populations that don’t readily integrate outsiders.  Instead of melting pots, Europe has separate pots boiling over with alienation and despair. In some countries, like France, it is more a lack of economic integration, while in others, like Britain, it is more a lack of cultural integration, but whatever the reason, Europe is a much more fertile breeding ground for terror than the United States. Unintentionally, some of our closest allies are producing some of our clearest threats. 
I agree with Huckabee that Europe does a poorer job of integration than the US, and that this can breed violence.  However, I find it difficult to pin exactly why the US is a more successful 'melting pot'.  Perhaps one factor is upward mobility: I suspect an individual can transcend their parentage easier in the US than in most European countries, which in turn mitigates social and cultural stratification.