Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Poverty and affluence in the US and Europe

Europe and its standards of living, leisure time, insurance, etc. are held up by liberals and Europhiles as exemplars of what America should strive toward emulating. But that notion is farcical in the extreme. The European healthcare systems are much worse than our own, the "uninsured" rate in America is woefully overstated as I wrote about yesterday, and the average European is much poorer than the average American. Here are the supporting stats from the CIA Factbook as of December 2003, on Results: US per capita income is just shy of $36K, Germany, France and Sweden are all near $26K, the UK is around $25,500, Italy at $25K and Spain just over $21K.

In today's Wall Street Journal (note, link may not work because the WSJ is a pay site), the editors discuss a study "The EU vs. USA" by the Swedish thinktank Timbro. Some findings: (1) the average American spends about $9,700 more than the average European on consumption per year -- "Americans, therefore, have by far more cars, TVs, computers etc. than Europeans. 'Most Americans have a standard of living which the majority of Europeans will never come anywhere near,' the study says." (2) In 2000, U.S. GDP per capita was a whopping 32% higher than the EU average. Europe's standing hasn't improved since then.

In addition, here's the facts about impoverished America -- in 1959, 22% of Americans lived below the poverty line, today that level is 12%. Of America's poor (those earning less than $25,000 per year), "45.9% own their homes, 72.8% have a car and almost 77% have air conditioning, still considered a luxury in most of Western Europe. The average living space for poor American households is 1,200 square feet. In Europe, the average space for all households, not just the poor ones, is 1,000 square feet."

Time to face the facts.

No comments: