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Monday, September 20, 2010

Is it time to consider social democracy? – Part 5

Many Americans react with dismay when told the U.S. mirrors a European-style social democracy, according to Klaus Zimmerman, a Bonn, Germany labor expert, writing in the Washington Post. Others think our “social net” has been established for some time, and we are, in fact, an “undeclared” social democracy. Since in Europe most all political parties engage in social democracy, is it inevitable that it will officially travel across the Atlantic?

Zimmerman’s Germany, a social democracy and Europe’s largest economy, is the strongest it’s been in 20 years, although some of its social programs have been trimmed due to the downturn. France, another social democracy, has come through the global economic crisis thanks to some expansive consumer and government spending.

Denmark, whose fiscal position is among the strongest in the European Union, along with other Scandinavian social democracies, has suffered from global problems, but is on the way to recovery.

Zimmerman brings up an excellent point when he indicates that, except for the Great Depression, the driving force behind the U.S. Economic model has always been “the great American job machine.” In the past it has recharged the economy when taking over after a recession. This isn’t happening today in the U.S. because so many jobs have been relocated out of the country, and technology has put millions out of work.

We may have reached the point of discovering the fact that we will have to accept a leaner America, and build on that strength. Zimmerman feels there is a need to change our tax structure away from favoring the more-wealthy, and work on balancing the budget. To do that, it may be necessary to raise taxes, where, I am certain, he loses all conservatives in the U.S.

He remarks in closing that we are an “un(der)funded social democracy.

Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

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