And that's why the French are stinky*

Bashing Europe's economy -- with everything from damn lies to statistics -- is not a high sport in this country because of how different they are from us, but because of how similar.

See, despite all the smoke and noise and polarization, we have a fairly narrow political spectrum. You can't talk about bringing back child labor or about nationalizing industries and stay within the American mainstream. But those social democracies over there have political economies that are only two or three degrees removed from our own. They're capitalists and they have billionaires and poor people and large private sectors. They just do things a little differently -- they have slightly different priorities.

So, theoretically, we could talk about what works better in our system and what works better in theirs without violating the core tenets of "Americanism." But it's only theoretical, because the last thing the corporatocracy wants is a discussion about how we have ended up with a bit higher GDP, a government that's a little less in our faces, more gazillionaires and a bit lower unemployment and we exchange those bennies for (comparably) massive poverty and semi-poverty and millions without healthcare and a power grid that sucks and levees that break and huge college tuition costs and on and on (and we don't get eight weeks vacation).

To forestall a discussion about which of those relatively similar (but also substantially different) paths we might prefer, we're subjected to mountains of op-eds and academic papers and T.V. news segments about how European economies are stagnating, unsustainable, bloated and inflexible and keep seven out of eight Europeans unemployed, wrapped in bureaucratic straight-jackets and miserable. And they're stinky.

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