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An American Expat’s View of Why Christmas in Europe Is Merry

While we can all be proud Americans we don’t have to be proud of the weak American social safety net. Christmas should serve to remind us we can do better than that. 59 million Americans who don’t have any medical coverage, 132 million don’t have any dental coverage, 60 million don’t have any paid sick leave & 40 million on food stamps.

While I do miss home, family and friends during the holidays, I don’t miss driving by scores of people during the holidays, some of them with children standing along side the road and holding up signs that say We’ll work for food. I’ve never seen families doing that anywhere in the European Union. I think Christmas should remind us that we can do better than that. We can build a European style social safety net in America to restore the hope of the American dream and that’s a Christmas gift worth giving.

I am in Germany. Did you know that in Germany most workers get a Christmas bonus as part of the social safety net as equal to a 13th month full wage? Please note, I didn’t say manager’s Christmas bonus. Because in America, for the managerial class you get a Christmas bonus seems to be an entitlement, almost a birth right. But rank and file workers in Germany, even in the service sector for the most part seem to be able to get Christmas bonuses.

Interestingly enough, that Christmas bonus is equal to a full month’s wage, even for McDonald’s employees. They’re also entitled to receive 4 weeks paid vacation, paid sick leave, paid maternity leave and complete medical and dental for them and their families. This also includes a prescription medication coverage. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not at all trying to sing the songs of praises of McDonald’s Germany, I’m just asking why don’t American McDonald workers get any of things? How come McDonald’s Germany can afford to pay for things but McDonald’s in America can’t pay them without crying bankruptcy. Let’s multiply that times all fast food franchises in Germany and all low wage service jobs of any type or description and we start to understand why Germans are in the Christmas spirit. But then again most of this true across the European Union, which has a bigger economy and more people than America does.

Christmas is traditionally a time of giving. This year, let’s make a commitment of giving hope to our fellow Americans of real health care reform through a single payer health care plan that cannot be taken away. The Democrats have made such a big production of having to give in to the Republicans on tax cuts to the rich for the next few years in order to extend unemployment benefits, but in Germany when unemployment benefits 1 runs out, unemployment 2 also known as Hartz IV kicks in, and they never run out! Perhaps more interesting than that, is the unemployed and their families continue to have health insurance paid by the government. Same thing in Britain, jobless benefits never run out, and the jobless and their families continue to have access to health care. Why can’t we do that in America? Moreover why doesn’t the American press report on this?

They don’t even want to tell you this. By that I mean, the corporate media especially the Murdoch news empire don’t want working class people to know about this. They just won’t report on this except in short forgettable sound bites.

Why does America have to be the only industrialized nation in the world that doesn’t provide job protected paid maternity leave by right of law. Whereas every country in the EU by statute has to provide paid maternity benefit. Why does the American social safety net have to be so weak? Who benefits from that weakness? Certainly not the American working class. We can do better than this. To reiterate while we can all be proud Americans, we don’t have to be proud of the weak American social safety net! There we can clearly do better than that.

U.S. lags in paid sick days, work benefits
(Reuters) – The United States lags far behind other nations in offering paid sick days, paid parental leave and other workplace benefits that proponents consider vital to public health and workers rights

39 Developed Countries That Take Longer Vacations Than America
Americans work longer and take fewer vacations than just about any developed country. America is the only one that doesn’t mandate paid vacations for full-time employees.

The truth is the main obstacle to a European style social safety net in America is the right wing radio and Fox News disinformation campaign. John Bollinger, president of Columbia University publication in the Wall Street Journal correctly concludes that the American people are not well served by the plutocrat owned media. He correctly states we need a public option in media. Don’t we need this in order to restore the American dream for the working class?

Wall Street Journal
* JULY 14, 2010
Journalism Needs Government Help
This system needs to be revised and its resources consolidated and augmented with those of NPR and PBS to create an American World Service that can compete with the BBC and other global broadcasters. The goal would be an American broadcasting system with full journalistic independence that can provide the news we need. Let’s demonstrate great journalism’s essential role in a free and dynamic society

In the business school I graduated from with my MBA, what I learned is that employers don’t actually pay wages to employees, instead what I learned was it was sold manufactured products and services that pay wages, and in fact pay everyone to include paying the owners. By that definition it is high time that the American working class be able to fully participate in receiving their fair share of the wealth that they themselves have created through their own hard work. That the system of lawful theft prevalent in America today stop being allowed to legally pick the pockets of working class men and women as a simple issue in social justice, having access to a European style social safety net which includes access to universal medical care. Simply put this is a human right and an American working class moral entitlement.

This year let’s give our fellow Americans the greatest gift of all, the gift of hope of the restoration of the American dream through the implementation of a European style social safety net
(which includes universal medical care that can never be taken away), as spearheaded by people like Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Senator Bernie Sanders. That is why I support the Democrats and President Obama. They are the only hope for the American working class.

(Cross posted by author from the Daily Kos)

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