There is a quiet revolution in Europe: The European Union, 27nmember nations with a half billion people, has become the largest, wealthiest trading bloc in the world, producing nearly a third of the world's economy - nearly as much as the US and China combined. Europe has more Fortune 500 companies than either the US, China or Japan. European nations spend far less than the United States for universal health care, rated by the World Health Organization as the best in the world, even as US health care is ranked 37th. Europe leads in confronting global climate change with renewable energy technologies, creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs in the process. Europe is twice as energy efficient as the US and their ecological footprint (the amount of the earth's capacity that a population consumes) is about half that of the United States for the same standard of living. Unemployment in the US is is widespread and becoming chronic, but when Americans have jobs, we work much longer hours than our peers in Europe. Before the recession, Americans were working 1,804 hours per year versus 1,436 hours for Germans - the equivalent of nine extra 40-hour weeks per year. In his new book, Were You Born on the Wrong Continent? Thomas Geoghegan makes a strong case that European social democracies - particularly Germany - have some lessons and models that might make life a lot more livable: Germans have six weeks of federally mandated vacation, free university tuition, and nursing care. According to Geoghean, since 2003, it's not China but Germany, that colossus of European socialism, that has either led the world in export sales or at least been tied for first!
As the ancient Romans used to say: "Sic transit gloria mundi"