« | »

NYT: ‘Payback Time’ For Liberal Europe

Remember how we were sold on healthcare by how great Europe has it? How we were told by the New York Times and the rest of our media masters that Europeans have all kinds of wonderful benefits, such as universal healthcare, and no problems whatsoever paying for them.

But now that healthcare has been safely enacted into law, we suddenly get this finger wagging from the self-same New York Times:

Payback Time – Crisis Imperils Liberal Benefits Long Expected by Europeans


May 22, 2010

PARIS — Across Western Europe, the “lifestyle superpower,” the assumptions and gains of a lifetime are suddenly in doubt. The deficit crisis that threatens the euro has also undermined the sustainability of the European standard of social welfare, built by left-leaning governments since the end of World War II.

Europeans have boasted about their social model, with its generous vacations and early retirements, its national health care systems and extensive welfare benefits, contrasting it with the comparative harshness of American capitalism.

Europeans have benefited from low military spending, protected by NATO and the American nuclear umbrella. They have also translated higher taxes into a cradle-to-grave safety net. “The Europe that protects” is a slogan of the European Union.

But all over Europe governments with big budgets, falling tax revenues and aging populations are experiencing climbing deficits, with more bad news ahead.

With low growth, low birthrates and longer life expectancies, Europe can no longer afford its comfortable lifestyle, at least not without a period of austerity and significant changes. The countries are trying to reassure investors by cutting salaries, raising legal retirement ages, increasing working hours and reducing health benefits and pensions.

“We’re now in rescue mode,” said Carl Bildt, the Swedish foreign minister and a former prime minister. “But we need to transition to the reform mode very soon. The ‘reform deficit’ is the real problem,” he said, pointing to the need for structural change.

The reaction so far to government efforts to cut spending has been pessimism and anger, with an understanding that the current system is unsustainable.

In Athens, Aris Iordanidis, 25, an economics graduate working in a bookstore, resents paying high taxes to finance Greece’s bloated state sector and its employees. “They sit there for years drinking coffee and chatting on the telephone and then retire at 50 with nice fat pensions,” he said. “As for us, the way things are going we’ll have to work until we’re 70.”

In Rome, Aldo Cimaglia is 52 and teaches photography, and he is deeply pessimistic about his pension. “It’s going to go belly-up because no one will be around to fill the pension coffers,” he said. “It’s not just me — this country has no future.”

Changes that would have been required in any case have now become urgent. Europe’s population is aging quickly as birthrates decline. Unemployment has risen as traditional industries have shifted to Asia. And the region generally lacks competitiveness in world markets.

According to the European Commission, by 2050 the percentage of Europeans older than 65 will nearly double. In the 1950s there were seven workers for every retiree in advanced economies. By 2050, the ratio in the European Union will drop to 1.3 to 1.

“The easy days are over for countries like Greece, Portugal and Spain, but for us, too,” said Laurent Cohen-Tanugi, a French lawyer who did a study of Europe in the global economy for the French government. “A lot of Europeans would not like the issue cast in these terms, but that is the storm we’re facing. We can no longer afford the old social model.”

Figures show the severity of the problem. Gross public social expenditures across the European Union increased from 16 percent of gross domestic product in 1980 to 21 percent in 2005, compared with 15.9 percent in the United States. In France, the current figure is 31 percent, the highest in Europe, with state pensions representing more than 44 percent of the total and health care, 30 percent.

The challenge is particularly daunting in France, which has done less to reduce the state’s obligations than some of its neighbors. In Sweden and Switzerland, 7 of 10 people work past the age of 50. In France, only half do. The legal retirement age in France is 60, while Germany recently raised the age to 67 from 65 for those born after 1963.

With the retirement of the baby boomers, the number of pensioners will rise 47 percent in France between now and 2050, while the number under 60 will remain stagnant. The French call it “du baby boom au papy boom,” and the costs, if unchanged, are unsustainable. The French state pension system today is running a deficit of 11 billion euros, or about $13.8 billion; by 2050, it will be 103 billion euros, or $129.5 billion, about 2.6 percent of projected economic output

In typical Times fashion this article goes on and on.

Lest we forget, this article from MSNBC is typical of the kind of propaganda we got from the Democrats’ lickspittle slaveys in our media (including the New York Times) during the ‘healthcare debate’:

In Europe, social safety net softens the slump

Aid for unemployment, health care and further education cushions blow

By Jennifer Carlile
May 7, 2009

EPPELHEIM, Germany — With its tidy villages, orderly cities and atmospheric scenery, there are few outward signs that the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, home to historic Heidelberg and the famed Black Forest, is a victim of the current economic crisis.

But with the auto industry here hit especially hard — this is the home of Mercedes-Benz — things are tougher than they have been in decades. Unemployment is up 70 percent in the past year (albeit to a relatively low 5 percent total) and many employees have been forced to cut down their hours.

Misery below the surface, perhaps? Not at the bustling Fuerstenberger home just outside Heidelberg, where little has changed for the family’s four children despite neither parent currently working.

“If we were in Detroit, we could worry every minute,” said Sarah Fuerstenberger, 37. “But here, we’re safe because of the system."

While economic forecasts are just as dire on this continent as in the United States, Germany’s citizens — and, indeed, most across western Europe — can count on a broad government safety net that includes generous unemployment checks, universal healthcare and inexpensive university education to tide them over.

“The German government is really good about taking care of people; we know we won’t be starving one way or another," she added.

With "Jobs Bloodbaths" in the headlines, tax money being used to bail out private banks and iconic car companies such as Britain’s Mini, France’s Renault and Italy’s Fiat laying off thousands, news here is similar to that across the Atlantic. Unemployment is also the same — around 8.5 percent across Western Europe and the United States.

However, Europe fiercely resisted President Obama’s calls for it to increase its stimulus programs last month at the Group of 20 industrial and developing nations summit in London. That’s because leaders here argue that their existing social welfare initiatives are already keeping people afloat as well as stimulating demand.

Of course, these ongoing European programs come with a cost — higher taxes, which critics say can sap economic vitality.

Fewer hours, same pay

At the Fuerstenberger home, where each of the four children has their own bedroom and Wii Fit and Mario-Kart are in near-constant play, the safety net certainly appears intact.

“I hadn’t even thought of the word ‘recession,’” said Sarah, a Detroit native who has lived in Germany on and off since college.

Sarah, a technical writer and translator, met her German husband, Jan, while working at Volkswagen’s North American headquarters in her home city six years ago.  She and her two children from a previous marriage soon left the United States for his hometown of Eppelheim, where the couple added two more kids to their brood.

Jan, a 32-year-old a mechanical engineer who is on paternity leave before taking up a new job offer, and Sarah, who is on maternity leave from her career at software giant SAP, support all four children without help from her ex-husband.

Short-time option

Beyond the usual unemployment and health benefits, the German government has employed some creative measures to combat the recession.

At the end of last year, for instance, Jan’s former employer, Borg Warner, which makes friction plates for automatic transmission systems, initiated kurzarbeit or short-time work.

“Different departments worked eight or nine hours less than the usual 40-hour week,” Jan said.

Fortunately for the family, "closing days" and even "closing weeks" did not carry the same monetary losses as they would in Michigan.

“The company pays the hours you worked and the gap that’s between the actual hours and the usual hours is paid by the government,” he said, as the couple enjoyed a quiet evening in after putting the kids to bed.

“For us this year, it was good,” Sarah added. “We had more time and it wasn’t a cut in pay.”

‘All are happy’ with kurzarbeit

The policy of kurzarbeit, which allows the government and companies to devise 18-month plans to cover most or all pay lost to reduced hours, has kept some unemployment at bay. In particular, it has allowed manufacturing giants like Siemens, Volkswagen and BASF to cut their production levels to match lower demand without having to initiate mass layoffs like those carried out across America’s Rust Belt.

“It’s a good instrument to use to react to the recession and still keep our good, qualified workers,” said Georg Haux, a spokesman for Siemens, which had 7,000 employees in kurzarbeit in March. Haux said that with the government subsidy, the company guaranteed workers 85 percent of their normal pay no matter how drastically their hours were cut.

Across the country, more than one million people will be in kurzarbeit by summer, up from 50,000 people a year ago, according to Karl Brenke, an economic adviser at the German Institute for Economic Research.

“Nobody is against it  — not the trade unions, not the [workers’ councils], no political party. All are happy,” he said, adding that employees were relieved to keep their jobs and that the measure allowed companies to react quickly if production levels rose again.

Even with the policy, jobless numbers have gone up. But, despite the 70 percent rise in unemployment over the last year, only one in twenty people in this relatively prosperous state is currently out of work.

“In the case of unemployment, people have a higher income than the same group of people in the United States,” said analyst Brenke.

Paternity leave

Worried that kurzarbeit was a sign of worse things to come, Jan decided to go back to a former employer, KST-MotorenVersuch, that had been eager to rehire him. To widen his employment opportunities, he decided to leave the role of test engineer and go into sales — but not before taking more than two months of elterngeld, government-paid parental leave.

These days Jan can often be found in the kitchen, keenly following recipes from celebrity chefs, making chocolate chess sets with 9-year-old Emma and baking apple pies. He changes diapers, runs after speedy toddler Olivia, and appreciates his one-on-one time with each of his children.

In Germany, couples can divide 14 months of paid parental leave between them. Beyond that, a mother’s job is secure for three years per child.

“Because we had two (in quick succession), I could take six years off and have a safe job,” said Sarah, who will probably stay home until 8-month-old Noah is three.

To boost the birth rate, all families receive around 150 euros ($197) per child per month until they are in their twenties. And, under Chancellor Angela Merkel’s stimulus package, families will get an extra one-off 100 euro ($131) child benefit this July.

The benefits influenced the Fuerstenbergers’ family planning even before the crisis.

“I think if we were in the States, we may not have … and it sounds terrible … had the opportunity to have a fourth child that quickly or be sure we could afford it,” Sarah said.

Now, hearing about Detroit’s woes and her dad’s fears for his General Motors’ pension, she takes added solace in the financial security offered in Germany.

But, Sarah said, even with the economic security provided by the state, government-funded health insurance is the biggest relief for the family.

Universal health care

Unlike the tens of thousands of Americans who have lost their coverage along with their professions, the Fuerstenbergers can access health care irrespective of their employment status.

“We don’t pay anything for any of (our) medicines, for doctor’s visits, nothing,” Sarah said, adding that she worried about her sister in Detroit, who had had several periods without health insurance.

“People shouldn’t become poor if they need health care,” said Joe Kutzin, a World Health Organization adviser, adding that a 2005 study published in the journal Health Affairs found that medical causes were at the root of about half of personal bankruptcy cases in the United States in 2001.

It’s ironic, he said, given that Americans spend more per capita on healthcare than anyone else in the world.

“Despite our high levels of expenditure, the U.S. simply does not do as well as many other high income countries in preventing deaths from causes that are amenable to medical treatment,” he said.

Highlighting the issue, a WHO report released in 2000 ranked the systems of 191 nations, putting France at the top and the United States down at number 37.

‘Grateful’ for health care, education

At their pretty row house surrounded by gardens and horse paddocks, Jan’s sister, Susanne Fuerstenberger, a doctor, recalled a visit to New York City.

“It made a big impression on me,” she said of seeing a young man begging on the subway with a sign saying that he needed insulin.

“I’m grateful that here I don’t have to send someone away and know that they won’t get the (long-term) treatment they really need.”

As a profession, Susanne said that medicine was not as well paid in Germany as in the United States. She pointed out, however, that Europe’s doctors do not have six-figure student loans to pay off.

When the 35-year-old studied medicine here, all students paid the equivalent of just 100 euros ($131) a semester. They now pay up to 500 euros ($657).

“Education must be equal for everyone regardless of the size of their wallet,” she said. “It’s one of our basic civil rights in the constitution.”

Due to government subsidies, tuitions in Western Europe are considerably lower than in the United States, with many universities — especially in Northern European countries — not charging students anything, and even top-notch U.K. institutions such as Oxford and Cambridge capping their fees at 3,000 pounds ($4,374) a scholastic year. (Yale and Harvard charge around $35,000 for tuition.)

Paying for privileges

While Europe’s social safety net is softening the slump, it does of course have to be paid for.

According to the OECD, the total tax revenue as a percentage of GDP is 28.3 percent in the United States, compared with 36.2 percent in Germany.

The cost can be seen in workers’ paystubs. "For example," said economic analyst Brenke, "a single worker with an average salary — about 16 euros ($21.31) per hour in fulltime work — pays about 52 percent for taxes and the social security system.”

This compares to an average of 30 percent in the United States.

With her family paying roughly that amount, Sarah said, “sometimes I think it’s not worth it when I look at what ends up in my bank account, but in times like these, I appreciate it."

We posted the entire MSNBC article just to show how shamelessly blatant our one party media lies to us to get their way.

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, May 22nd, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

10 Responses to “NYT: ‘Payback Time’ For Liberal Europe”

  1. BigOil says:

    The problem with European socialism is they lack the leader with the community agitation skills necessary to make it all work. Fortunately, we have The One, so why worry?

    Margaret Thatcher’s quote bears repeating until it finally sinks into the dense liberal mind – “socialism is a great idea till you run out of other people’s money”.

  2. canary says:

    excerpts from president Obama on Social Security, entire talk link below.

    April 29, 2009
    High School

    Q I’m the junior class vice president of Fox High School. (Applause.)

    THE PRESIDENT: All right.

    Q I was just curious to what policies you’re going to put into place in order to protect Social Security for the upcoming generations.

    Now, here’s the problem that we confront — and this is a solvable problem. I’ve got — there are some problems that are really hard to solve; this is actually one that we can solve. And that is — the problem is that the baby boomers — there were a lot of them, and they’re getting older. Even though they deny it, they’re getting older. (Laughter.) So what’s happening is you’re getting a big bulge of people who are retiring and you’ve got fewer workers supporting more retirees. That means you got more money going out, less money coming in — and so you get a mismatch.

    But a couple of things have happened. Number one is that the Social Security trust fund — there wasn’t a fence around it so people started borrowing out of it for other things. That’s not helpful. But the other part of it is, is that there’s still going to be a gap if we don’t do anything — even if we repay all the money into the trust fund, there’s still a gap because there are too many retirees….

    Now, there are only a handful of ways to make these changes. Number one, you could just keep on trying to borrow a trillion dollars, or a couple trillion, or however much it takes from China. But that’s not such a good solution, because you’d end up having to pay interest on it and at some point they’re just going to be tired of lending to us because they’ve got their own senior citizens that they want to take care off.

    Second option is to gradually raise the retirement age. Now, I don’t think this is the best option just because we just talked to an auto worker over here — that’s hard work. And if people’s — if the retirement age is already 67, and now you want to get it up to 68 or 69, if you’re working on an assembly line, and you’ve been doing that for 50 years, or 40 years, that’s some tough stuff. If you’re a senator, you can work until, you know — (laughter) — but if you’re doing real work — (laughter and applause) — now that’s — except for Claire. Claire does some real work. Claire is a hard worker. Claire is a hard worker. (Applause.)

    You could cut benefits. You could raise the tax on everybody, so everybody’s payroll tax goes up a little bit. Or you can do what I think is probably the best solution, which is you can raise the cap on the payroll tax. (Applause.)

    So what I’ve said is look, for wealthier people why don’t we raise the cap? (Applause.)…

    Let me just make this last point though. The big problem we have with entitlements is not Social Security, it’s Medicare.
    Medicare and Medicaid, the two health care programs that the federal government helps support, those are the things that are really breaking the bank.

    I know you’ve been hearing all these arguments about, oh, Obama is just spending crazy, look at these huge trillion-dollar deficits, blah, blah, blah.

    What we face long term, the biggest problem we have is that Medicare and Medicaid — health care costs are sky-rocketing, and at the same time as the population is getting older, which means we’re using more health care — you combine those two things, and if we aren’t careful, health care will consume so much of our budget that ultimately we won’t be able to do anything else.

    We won’t be able to provide financial assistance to students;

    we won’t be able to help build green energy;

    we won’t be able to help industries that get into trouble;

    we won’t have a national park system;

    we won’t be able to do what we’re supposed to do on our veterans.

    Everything else will be pushed aside because of Medicare and Medicaid.

    That’s why I’ve said we’ve got to have health reform this year — (applause) — to drive down costs and make health care affordable for American families, businesses and for our government. (Applause.)

    So, you know, when you see — those of you who are watching certain news channels that — on which I’m not very popular — (laughter) — and you see folks waving tea bags around — (laughter) —

    let me just remind them that I am happy to have a serious conversation about how we are going to cut our health care costs down over the long term, how we’re going to stabilize Social Security. Claire and I are working diligently to do basically a thorough audit of federal spending…

    We are going to have to tighten our belts, but we’re going to have to do it in an intelligent way,…(Applause.)

    THE PRESIDENT:… All right, go ahead.

    Q I’m a licensed acupuncturist and licensed massage therapist in Florissant. And so —

    THE PRESIDENT: I could use one right now. (Laughter.) My back is stiff. I’ve been working hard.

    Q I’ll be happy to help you. (Laughter.)

    THE PRESIDENT:.., so we’ve got to rebate some of that money to make sure that people are held harmless — then I actually think that we can get control of this problem,
    we can save the polar bears,…


    • proreason says:

      The little emperor has a hammer and everything looks like nail.

      “So what I’ve said is look, for wealthier people why don’t we raise the cap?”

      good luck with that, moron.

      AT had a great chart the other day. No matter what the tax rates for the last 50 years, the tax collections never exceed 20% of GDP.

      How could that be, you say? Simple, wealthy people have dozens of ways to avoid taxes.

      Somebody else on AT told a story about a businessman who is simply shutting down his businesses. He is sending letters to all of the people where he has been spending tons of money for decades, telling them that until the boy king is deposed, he isn’t spending any more money.

      And that’s what happens.

      Of course, Stalin had his own way of dealing with that approach. Don’t be surprised to see it happen here.

  3. Rusty Shackleford says:

    Many work-a-day people 20 years ago were saying this would happen. Most of the conversations I heard were of the “Europe’s manufacturing base is going down while their need for services continues to rise. This is a blueprint for disaster.”

    And so it was. Add to that that their defense budgets are nonexistent due to the US shouldering the burden of cost. Indeed, NATO was one of the best worst ideas in world history. Another committee deciding where money is to be spent.

    Now add the massive influx of muslims who couldn’t give a squirt about anything that has to do with their new home’s traditions or heritage and you have all the makings of civil war on the rise. Soon, they will not be satiated at all and will violently try to take over. A rash prediction? I don’t think so. Muslims have the uncanny habit of being incredibly violent but…will only cause uprisings if they have no fear of retribution. And, Europe, et al, has given them that.

    The only difference here compared to WWII is that while Europe sits on the precipice of annihilation, the US has to deal with a mega financial crisis….oh…..wait…….with a pacifistic and arrogant president……um….who’s foreign policy is pathetic…..uh……hmmmm.

    Gee, history really does repeat itself. Who’d’a thunk it?

  4. proreason says:

    How did this article slip by the Slimes/Moron censors?

    Heads will roll for publishing the truth.

  5. Liberals Make Great Speedbumps says:

    Oh crap, do you mean to tell me that there’s no such thing as a free lunch?

  6. Mithrandir says:

    As the liberal media takes their lead from the liberal New York Times, American liberals follow the lead of liberal Europe.

    Remember all those claims,
    “Well Europe pays $6 for a gallon of gas, why can’t we?”
    “Well Europe has 2 years maternity leave, why can’t we?”
    “Well Europe has a 4 day work week, why can’t we?”
    “Well Europe has ‘free’ medical care, why can’t we?”
    “Well Europe’s leaders have mistresses, why are we impeaching our president over a mistress?”
    “Well Europe is committing suicide with unchecked Muslim immigration, why can’t we?”

    “Well Europe is going bankrupt, why should we?”

    And on it goes……

  7. TwilightZoned says:

    “…an understanding that the current system is unsustainable.”

    Like this is news? Many Americans have said this about Europe and our own country for some time now. But no, the left wing loons want us to jump off the European cliff as well. The MSM are as much to blame in America’s destruction by not doing their job-unbiased reporting.

    This just chaps my behind. The question is why? Why report this now? Did the MSM figure out their days are numbered as a “free” press?

    • Steve says:

      “The question is why? Why report this now?”

      Obama-care has been passed. So now it is time to raise taxes.

    • Liberals Demise says:

      The honeymoon is over and the “free” press no longer gets a “free” pass.

      Hah…….it is to laugh!!

« Front Page | To Top
« | »