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Why the European Way is the Best Hope in an Insecure Age

New America Foundation Release New Book on the European Way
Published:   January 11, 2010

"Europe's Promise is a timely and provocative book..."  - Foreign Affairs

"Europe's Promise should startle, inform, and galvanize Americans in raising the ante in favor of a political economy where people matter first." -Ralph Nader

"Like a reverse Alexis de Tocqueville, Steven Hill dauntlessly explores a society largely unknown to his compatriots back home. Sweeping away the ideological posturing, he shows us exactly how the modern European Way works and the promise it holds for an America which has slipped to become, in terms of social, economic and energy policy, the Old World." -Hendrik Hertzberg, The New Yorker

In his new book, Europe's Promise: Why the European Way is the Best Hope in an Insecure Age (University of California Press), political writer Steven Hill of the New America Foundation shows how a quiet revolution has been occurring in post-World War II Europe. For a decade, Mr. Hill traveled widely to understand a uniquely European Way that, he concluded, has taken the lead in this make-or-break century challenged by a worldwide economic crisis and global climate change.

Europe's Promise details how a world power has emerged across the Atlantic, one that is recrafting the rules for how a modern society should provide economic security, environmental sustainability, and global stability. Mr. Hill explains Europe's bold new vision, and shows how Europe's leadership manifests in several major areas:

  • Economic strength: Europe is now the world's largest trading bloc, producing nearly a third of the world's economy, almost as large as the U.S. and China combined. Europe has more Fortune 500 companies than either the U.S., China or Japan, and currently the continent previously known as the land of high unemployment, has a lower unemployment rate than the United States.
  • Better health care: European nations are rated by the World Health Organization as having the best health care systems in the world. Yet they spend far less than the United States for universal coverage, even as U.S. health care is ranked 37th -- just ahead of Cuba and Slovenia.
  • Real family values: Europe has figured out how to harness capitalism's tremendous wealth-creating capacity so that its benefits are broadly shared. Hardly a "welfare state," Europe's "social capitalism" is an ingenious "workfare" framework that better supports families and individuals to help them stay healthy and productive during a time of economic crisis. 
  • Readying for global warming: Europe has deployed widespread use of renewable energy and conservation technologies, which has produced an "ecological footprint" that is half that of the United States and created hundreds of thousands of new jobs in the process.
  • Innovative foreign policy: Europe is transforming our very notions of "effective power." With America's "hard power" suffering setbacks, Europe's "smart power" -- based on regional networks of nations and Europe's own Marshall Plan for development -- has produced a "Eurosphere" with some 2 billion people (one third of the world) linked by trade, aid, and investment to the European Union.

Among other things, Europe's Promise shatters myths, such as:

* The European "welfare state" hamstrings the economy - FACT: Hardly a welfare state, Europe's economy and comprehensive social system are two halves of a well-designed "social capitalism" that is better geared than America's "Wall Street capitalism" toward supporting families and workers -- keeping them healthy and productive -- in an insecure age of globalized capitalism. And the overwhelming evidence shows that has been good for the economy.

* Europeans pay more taxes than Americans - FACT: For their taxes, Europeans receive a seemingly endless list of benefits and services -- quality health care, decent retirement, more vacation, paid parental leave, paid sick leave, free or nearly free university education, housing assistance and much more -- for which Americans must pay extra via out-of-pocket fees, premiums, deductibles, tuition and other charges, in addition to our taxes. When you sum up the total balance sheet, you discover that many Americans pay out as much as or more than Europeans -- but we receive a lot less for our money. That's one of the reasons many Americans are in debt, while Europeans have higher savings.

In Europe's Promise, Mr. Hill chronicles and illuminates for his readers a European revolution that is proposing a bold new vision at a crucial juncture in global affairs. Visit www.EuropesPromise.org for more information.

About the Author
Steven Hill is a political writer and program director at the New America Foundation. His previous books include 10 Steps to Repair American Democracy (2006), Fixing Elections: The Failure of America's Winner Take All Politics (2003) and Whose Vote Counts (Beacon Press, 2001). Mr. Hill's articles and commentaries have appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, Guardian, New York Daily News, The Nation, Salon.com, American Prospect, Social Europe, Le Monde Diplomatique, Roll Call, Ms., and other leading publications. Mr Hill has appeared on many national and local radio and television programs, and has lectured widely in the United States and Europe. He has testified before numerous commissions and task forces throughout the United States.

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