On January 21, 2010, the New America Foundation hosted Steven Hill, director of the Political Reform Program at New America, to discuss his new book, Europe’s Promise: Why the European Way is the Best Hope in an Insecure Age. The purpose of government today, Steven Hill stated, is to advance institutions that will create a high quality of life for our growing populations while simultaneously sustaining our planet. Post-World War II Europe, in Hill’s opinion, is exemplary because it has transformed itself into a region that can develop and take care of its people and environment. In his book, Steven Hill sets out to undermine misconceptions of Europe and highlight its strengths.
People often think that Europe has a weak economy. However, Hill asserted that Europe has the largest economy in the world. According to his findings, Europe produces one-third of the world’s output and its economy is almost as large as China’s and America’s combined. U.S. businesses make twenty times more profit in Europe than they do in China. And two-thirds of all jobs in Europe come from small businesses as opposed to the United States where only half do.
Europe is also frequently called a welfare or socialist state. But Steven Hill insisted that it is more accurately a “workfare” state –a state that keeps its citizens healthy and economically productive. While Europe has high taxes, Steven Hill argued that it also provides significantly cheaper healthcare, childcare, and college education than does the United States. From his research, Hill also concluded that Europe has handled the economic crisis better than the United States. For example, rather than initiating mass lay-offs, many European firms retained a vast majority of their employees by decreasing every worker’s wage by 10-20%. Hill advocated this style of management, pointing out that deductions in pay do not create the large populations of discouraged workers that lay-offs do. Steven Hill concluded that the United States could learn many lessons from Europe, in taking care of its citizens in a more insecure world.
--Kalie Pierce, Research Intern with the American Strategy Program