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Europe’s Promise

Europe’s Promise: Why the European Way Is the Best Hope in an Insecure Age

Steven Hill
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Pages: 488
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  • Book Info
    Europe’s Promise
    Book Description:

    A quiet revolution has been occurring in post-World War II Europe. A world power has emerged across the Atlantic that is recrafting the rules for how a modern society should provide economic security, environmental sustainability, and global stability. InEurope's Promise, Steven Hill explains Europe's bold new vision. For a decade Hill traveled widely to understand this uniquely European way of life. He shatters myths and shows how Europe's leadership manifests in five major areas: economic strength, with Europe now the world's wealthiest trading bloc, nearly as large as the U.S. and Chinacombined; the best health care and other workfare supports for families and individuals; widespread use of renewable energy technologies and conservation; the world's most advanced democracies; and regional networks of trade, foreign aid, and investment that link one-third of the world to the European Union.Europe's Promisemasterfully conveys how Europe has taken the lead in this make-or-break century challenged by a worldwide economic crisis and global warming.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94450-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. viii-ix)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    Steven Hill
  4. INTRODUCTION: A Quiet Revolution
    (pp. 1-12)

    A quiet revolution has been occurring in Europe over the past sixty years. A world power has emerged across the Atlantic that is meticulously recrafting the rules for how a modern society should be organized and how it should provide economic, political, and personal security, as well as environmental sustainability, for its many peoples. This is no small feat. In an era of globalized capitalism and worldwide climate change, when breathless media offer constant reminders that China and India, with their roaring economic growth rates, teeming populations, and spoiled environments, are supposedly the harbingers of everyone’s future, Europe’s crafting of...


      (pp. 15-32)

      Arriving at Terminal One of Paris’s Charles de Gaulle International Airport, one is struck immediately by a distinctly European mise-enscène. As in a modern-day Tower of Babel, the languages of the world spike the air with an incessant buzz. The smooth nasality of French intermingles with the guttural “ichs” and “achs” of Dutch and German speakers. On the periphery are Italians speaking in a lilting aria, with some halting English tossed in. Nearby stands a fashionable Polish couple in shiny black leather, sipping espresso, and Spanish speakers (probably from Spain, but maybe Argentina or Chile) are browsing the crowded news...

      (pp. 33-52)

      Imagine that you are flying in a spaceship high above the earth, surveilling an aerial view of the European continent. The geography below reveals a sprawling landmass stretching from the Atlantic Ocean all the way to Russia, with the Arctic zone to the north, the Mediterranean and North Africa to the south, and the vast lands of Anatolia and the Arabian Peninsula to the southeast. If you overlay most of that geography with a map of the twenty-seven nations of the European Union, you take in a half billion people, representing about 7.4 percent of the world’s 6.7 billion tenants....

      (pp. 53-71)

      Six decades after Hitler’s bunker suicide amid the wreckage of his twisted dream of a rule that would last a thousand years, another dream has emerged as one of Germany’s greatest gifts to humanity. That is the dream of economic democracy.

      In the aftermath of World War II, a group of German economists proposed what they called the “social market economy.” Ludwig Erhard (minister of economics under Chancellor Konrad Adenauer after 1949 and later chancellor himself from 1963 to 1966), Walter Eucken, Alfred Müller-Armack, and others believed that a free market should also serve broader social goals, and looked for...

      (pp. 72-92)

      One day when I was visiting my friend Meredith, who lives in the small rural town of Lautrec, France, about an hour’s drive outside Toulouse, she was stung badly by a wasp, causing sizable and painful swelling on her hand. She called her doctor, and to my great surprise within fifteen minutes he had shown up at her door—the famous French doctor’s house call. I couldn’t get over it. “House calls in the U.S. went out when Eisenhower was president,” I told her, shaking my head.

      My father-in-law had a similar experience while vacationing in Switzerland. He awoke one...

      (pp. 93-106)

      The typical American retort to the generous and comprehensive nature of the European workfare support system is that Europeans pay much higher taxes. Surely “no taxation without representation” Americans would never go along with that. That’s just one of the many myths and fables that bounce around the American landscape about the European “welfare” state. Another myth says that Americans are wealthier and better off than everyone else in the world, including Europeans, so why mess with success? Both of these claims oversimplify and distort reality.

      Let’s look more closely at the tax details of Europeans and Americans. The business...

    • SIX THE ECONOMIC CRASH OF 2008–9: Wall Street Capitalism vs. Social Capitalism
      (pp. 107-122)

      The economic crash that began in the fall of 2008 stunned the world with its velocity and scope. Like a tsunami that arose seemingly without warning—though actually there had been ample alarm bells, but few had listened—it flooded everything in its path. Countries whose prospects had been bright less than a year before suddenly were deluged with bank failures, financial collapse, and ruin. The speedy economic contraction resulted in millions of jobs lost, factories closed, businesses shuttered, exports sitting on the docks, and homes repossessed. It saw the vanishing of more than a trillion dollars in stock market...


      (pp. 125-135)

      When I think about health and health care in Europe, I don’t think immediately about hospitals, doctors, and insurance premiums. Instead, I picture bike paths and walking trails crisscrossing the cities and countryside, and Europeans of all ages, including seniors, pedaling from town to home with their daily bread in their handlebar baskets. I picture health spas where people of all ages soak their limbs in the warm healing waters and steam baths. And I picture fields of organic grains and grasses tossing in the breeze and European gourmands with their “slow food” philosophy. I picture cheese, bread, and wine...

    • EIGHT LA SANTÉ D’ABORD: The Formal Health Care System
      (pp. 136-154)

      It’s not surprising that nations that have produced such amazing cultural artifacts and testaments to the importance of health and bodies have also produced a pretty darn good system of formal health care. Especially when compared with the costly and fractured U.S. health care system.

      The multipolar world of the twenty-first century is going to be more economically and geopolitically competitive than the post–World War II world that the United States dominated, and in which most of today’s adult Americans formed their self-identity. A price will be paid for inefficiency and wastefulness in all parts of the economy. A...


    • NINE WINDMILLS, TIDES, AND SOLAR BESIDES: The European Way of Energy
      (pp. 157-178)

      Picture windmills, tidal turbines, and solar panels on rooftops, dotting the picturesque European landscape. Imagine large cylindrical “sea snakes” bobbing in the ocean, generating enough electricity from ocean waves to power isolated coastal villages. Or undersea “windmills” ceaselessly churning in the currents, harnessing the allure of seemingly limitless energy from the ocean. And vast solar arrays with tens of thousands of panels that have tracking technology to follow the sun, and “smart” energy-efficient buildings that monitor the temperature and sunlight to open and close the blinds and window panels automatically. Imagine cement that cleans the air by “eating” smog,¹ or...

    • TEN REVOLUTION ON WHEELS: The European Way of Transportation
      (pp. 179-194)

      Each historical epoch has produced its own modes of transportation, arising from a nexus of the existing technology, energy sources, commercial needs, and geographic layout of that time and place. Whatever the modes, whether ox-drawn wagon, steam locomotive, or A380 jumbo jet, they are charged with the crucial task of moving quantities of things—people, products, raw materials—around the chessboard.

      In today’s mass industrial society, transportation is the circulatory system of daily life. The world’s connection to Middle East turmoil is largely predicated on our need to slurp up large quantities of oil for transportation purposes, resulting in a...


    • ELEVEN THE RELUCTANT SUPERPOWER: Transatlantic Rupture and the Post-9/11 World
      (pp. 197-214)

      September 11 and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars proved to be defining events in the post–Cold War era. While the United States was bogged down in modern Mesopotamia and the Hindu Kush, portentous changes were occurring elsewhere in the international system. In three strategic regions of the globe—East Asia, the former Soviet Union, and the Middle East—leading nations decided that it had become necessary to band together in order to play defense to the American superpower offense. To do that, several of these key nations created the most important upstart organization that most Americans have never heard...

      (pp. 215-236)

      With its successful track record in transforming former military dictatorships in Spain, Portugal, Turkey, and former communist countries, and economically backward places such as Ireland, Poland, and the Czech Republic, Europe has taken its principles of engagement and integration and begun applying them to the rest of the world. Contrary to the Bush-Cheney doctrine of unilateralism and aggressive bluster, Europe has practiced a patient multilateralism in trying to embed countries and regions such as Russia, China, Central Asia, and the Middle East into a web of incentives and disincentives, of trade, foreign aid, and investment, designed to nudge them slowly...


    • THIRTEEN THE LEGACY OF LUTHER AND CROMWELL: Political Democracy in Europe
      (pp. 239-257)

      Twenty miles outside London lies a large, verdant green pasture that goes by the name of Runnymede. The River Thames winds through it, just a silver sliver this far from its mouth, but history rolls down the river from here to London and beyond. Runnymede is a hallowed place and name: it is known as one of the birthplaces of modern democracy. Here, in the year 1215, somewhere in this water meadow—the exact spot is unknown—King John put his seal to what is known as the Magna Carta, an agreement that required the king to accept that his...

      (pp. 258-274)

      Besides multiparty democracy founded on the bedrock of proportional representation, another crucial component to consensus building and a thriving democracy is the means whereby average citizens and voters receive information and news. In the eighteenth century, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government,”¹ and things are hardly different today. In the modern age, four types of communication infrastructure are necessary to foster a vigorous democracy and robust political debate: some degree of public financing of campaigns, free media time for candidates, affordable and widespread access to high-speed broadband Internet, and a...


      (pp. 277-298)

      In the Rijksmuseum, in Amsterdam, hangs an obscure painting that speaks volumes about the modern dilemmas of government and the natural tension between individual freedom and the ties that bind us together. The masterfully rendered work, dating from approximately 1899 by the Dutch painter Otto Eerelman, shows hundreds of soldiers costumed in the dress blues of a military parade in Amsterdam, and mounted on brawny stallions. Leading the procession are erect, square-shouldered officers in their fine, medal-adorned coats and feathery chapeaux-de-bras, with a palace looming in the background. Banners, pennants, and coats of arms are flapping in the breeze, and...


      (pp. 301-318)

      Meet three notorious faces that are shaping Europe’s destiny. These famous faces inspire passion and opinion across the continent, leaving the Sarkozys, Merkels, Browns, Barrosos—the most powerful of leaders—playing catch-up in their wake.

      The first face appeared in a large photo on the front page of the September 5, 2006, Spanish dailyEl Pais.The face is of a young boy, perhaps twelve years old, wrapped in a swaddling blanket, wet and shivering, his eyes wide with fear and confusion. His skin is black as the night sky behind him, and two large bulbous microphones from Spanish television...

      (pp. 319-338)

      As Europeans contemplate their demographic future, more and more of them are taking a broader view and becoming better at reading the handwriting on the wall. Many governments, businesses, and nongovernmental agencies already have begun taking steps to respond to the rainbow-ization of their populations, and the mass media has played an increasingly crucial role. But a real movement—a civil rights movement—for equality is only in its nascent stage. So far no large protest marches have occurred like those seen in the United States in the 1960s, or even like the one in which two million Hispanic immigrants...

    • EIGHTEEN THE DILEMMA OF POPULATION DECLINE: “Where are all the children?”
      (pp. 339-353)

      Genoa, Italy, has been known forever as the birthplace of the explorer Columbus, an important port city, and the anchor of the Italian Riviera’s charming, picturesque coastline. But lately, Genoa is acquiring a different reputation. A casual walk around the city center reveals something startling: few children are playing in the streets, few toy stores are in the malls, and a merry-go-round stands quiet in the park. Schools have closed for lack of students. For a place known for its broods of children, many Italian cities like Genoa lack the boisterous noise of kids playing. Genoa provides a glimpse into...

  12. CONCLUSION: The Make or Break Century
    (pp. 354-370)

    I recall the time I sat in the public gallery of the European Parliament in Brussels, observing a heated debate among hundreds of members of the European Parliament (or MEPs, as they are called). It was October 2005, and the MEPs had come from all across the European continent, representing a half billion people. In typical European fashion the debate was being translated simultaneously into twenty-two different languages, including the usual English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Swedish, and Dutch, but also Magyar, Romani, Maiti, Latvian, and Czech, among others.

    The MEPs sat with their headsets on, listening intently to the...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 371-432)
  14. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 433-436)
  15. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 437-442)
  16. Index
    (pp. 443-472)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 473-474)