Is European socialism bleeding like a stuck PIG?

Is European socialism bleeding like a stuck PIG?

The conservatives are yelling from the rooftops that we are witnessing the slow death of European Socialism due to massive spending on social programs. They say the countries bleeding the most red ink are Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain or the P.I.G.S. of Europe as they are known in financial circles.

Greece has run out of money and is now using German money to prevent total collapse. Portugal may be next followed very closely by Spain. Yet the European countries with some of the most socialist - that is, strong social safety networks - are Germany and Denmark, two countries where things are going just fine.

In Germany, for example, every corporation in the country is required to have half of the members of their board of directors appointed by the union representing the workers of the company - the most corporate-intrusive system in all of Europe. In Denmark, not only are healthcare and education free, but they even pay students a monthly stipend to cover food, housing, and books - all the time they're in school all the way up to PhD or MD degrees.

So what differentiates Germany and Denmark from Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain? Germany and Denmark never fully drank the so-called "free trade" kool-aid, and thus both have strong manufacturing sectors. Across America you'll find German cars and Danish wind turbines, as well as across those nations themselves. But walk into any store in Spain, Greece, Ireland, or Portugal and you'll find row after row of Chinese-made goods.

Twenty years of insane flat-earth free-trade policies have disemboweled the economies of the United States and numerous European countries. The US, for example, has gone from 20% GDP in manufacturing before the election of Reagan to just 11% now. Countries that don't make things don't create real wealth, and thus must turn to Goldman Sachs to help them borrow money.

And Goldman hasn't treated Greece - or the US - all that well. The reason why China is not having this problem - and neither are South Korea or Taiwan or Singapore, all countries with strong social safety nets - is because they're strongly protecting their own manufacturing sectors.

The way we used to do before Reagan's presidency and then Bill Clinton's throwing us to the tender mercies of transnational corporations by turning US trade policy over to NAFTA and the WTO. Time to reconsider protectionism.


Rileye's picture
Rileye 14 years 6 weeks ago

I was just wondering what would happen if a hurricane came along in the gulf and the oil spill was not cleaned up yet. Would the oil be scooped up by the hurricane and deposited all over the land mass it happened to hit? Just a thought.

Tim2k78's picture
Tim2k78 14 years 6 weeks ago

Utah's Sarah Palin??? Yikes!!!!

MugsysRapSheet's picture
MugsysRapSheet 14 years 6 weeks ago

I posted this video during the peak of the violence in Iraq:

Iraqi girls as young as six forced into prostitution (2007)

MugsysRapSheet's picture
MugsysRapSheet 14 years 6 weeks ago

(reply to #1) Oil doesn't evaporate like water, so it wouldn't come down as rain (though many of the chemical toxins would still be carried in the rain).

The bulk of the oil would be washed onto shore. High winds would likely push it further ashore than it might normally, and flooding could bring the oil still further inland, compounding the ecological disaster three-fold.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 14 years 6 weeks ago

How does Germany and Denmark protect their manufacturing? Do they have tariffs? Do they require government to buy national products? I always thought the democratic socialist countries were stable (and happy) because of their progressive income tax structure.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 14 years 6 weeks ago

Just curious. What does the problem with PIGS have to do with oil?

camplunalinda's picture
camplunalinda 14 years 6 weeks ago

good morning from camp luna linda --

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camplunalinda's picture
camplunalinda 14 years 6 weeks ago


Julie Dahlman's picture
Julie Dahlman 14 years 6 weeks ago

Hello! I posted a rant about leverage buyouts, I know it did not actually fit here except for the pig, but I don't see my post? this is my first time posting as I've never figured out how to reach Tom and/or blog. Maybe I still haven't?? could you e-mail me?

Alex Hidell's picture
Alex Hidell 14 years 6 weeks ago

I always thought that Greece (and possibly the others) problems came about because of derivatives.

""In the late 90s, Greenspan lobbied hard for the passage of a law that came to be called the Commodity Futures Modernisation Act of 2000, a monster of a bill that among other things deregulated the sort of interest-rate swaps Goldman used in its now-infamous dealings with Greece.

Both the Paulson deal and the Greece deal were examples of Goldman making millions by bending over their own business partners. In the Paulson deal the suckers were European banks such as ABN-Amro and IKB, which were never told that the stuff Goldman was cheerfully selling to them was, in effect, designed to implode; in the Greece deal, Goldman hilariously used exotic swaps to help the country mask its financial problems, then turned right around and bet against the country by shorting Greece’s debt.""

The entire world economy is at stake since derivative's total 'value' is now beyond $1.14 QUADRILLION in US dollars, see Follow The Numbers by Steve Pizzo

and since the world's annual GDP is $70 trillion (US share $15 trillion; EU share $15 trillion) you can see how this gambling debt on derivative 'chits' is ultimately unpayable. It will bleed the world's lower and middle classes and siphon off money to only the 'super-rich'.

European socialism isn't bleeding the world's economy, the unmitigated greed of the capitalist ideologue 'free-marketeers' IS.

Chris Alexander's picture
Chris Alexander 14 years 6 weeks ago


We need to get beyond the limitations of good/bad labels around Socialism and Capitalism. Without both going deeper and looking at the bigger picture we will never resolve our problems.

European Socialism (which is just a label and labels are traps) has advantages surely but also a price (I lived in Europe 20 years) and that price is never discussed in the liberal-progressive community. The price is that the system doesn't support self employment, creativity, private initiative, self-reliance, entrepreneurial efforts, vision quests, adaptive behaviors, real rebels and paradigm shifters, etc...

Many good friends of mine in the USA work for themselves in a effort to do what they love in many alternative fields of medecine, therapy, small businesses, spirituality. They are inspired by love, self improvement, helping others. And guess what, most of them could not do what they do under European Socialism or if they did they would be living at the poverty level.

European Socialism is like an over protective mother. As a result her children don't have to grow up since every time there is a problem, we go back to mommy to fix it. Pure Capitalism is like a harsh father that kicks you out of the nest at 18 and says you're on your own, good luck. It teaches self reliance but not love and compassion for others and the planet.

European Socialism is cruel in many other ways. I have self employed friends who after 20 years of very hard work and minimal vacation have almost nothing to show for it financially. The system took their life force and energy to feed the bureaucracy and their 35 hours work week, subsidized housing, early retirement, guaranteed employment and resistance to any change.

DENMARK AND GERMANY is not exempt. The difference however between them and PIGGS is that they have a much more efficient political and economy system that allows them to actually pay for their own Socialism. The Greek public service wants endless benefits but actually refuses to work, change, find new and better ways of doing things, so they can't pay for their lifestyle and it is subsidized by debt.

The point is neither Capitalism nor any kind of Socialism are answers to our problems. There are just different sides of the same coin. A coin with old belief systems that don't serve humanity,

wash_state_observer's picture
wash_state_observer 14 years 6 weeks ago

Your statement: "Many good friends of mine in the USA work for themselves in a effort to do what they love in many alternative fields of medecine, therapy, small businesses, spirituality. They are inspired by love, self improvement, helping others. And guess what, most of them could not do what they do under European Socialism or if they did they would be living at the poverty level." would be more helpful if you gave specific examples. There are people in the US that make a living scamming others with claims about their ability to help others. I hope those are not the examples you are promoting.

Jayro's picture
Jayro 14 years 5 weeks ago

I don't usually get irate when I'm driving home. Traffic is traffic and NPR is, well, NPR. I've learned to deal with Kai Ryssdal's bias (or my need to read bias into his commentary) but in his 5/11 pm show he allowed Todd Buchholz, a former GHW Bush economist, to spew unchallenged conservative ideology across the air waves. I was so mad, I immediately called my number to remind myself to give Marketplace and Local and National NPR stations a piece of my mind. It occurred to me that maybe Thom would like to invite him on his show to defend his position.

I know Kai allows unchallenged left leaning views on his show as well but this went to far.

The gist of Todd's commentary was that California, Rhode Island and others are in trouble because they are "chasing away private jobs and paying public union employees too much" (That's my attempt at a PIGS tie in so I could post my diatribe here). He then goes on to accuse pensions and unions of scare tactics and "slick commercials" to keep the status quo never once mentioning the loss of manufacturing jobs, the housing bubble or the recession.

It upsets me that I can watch Republicans, admittedly with the help of some Democrats (NAFTA anyone?), ruin America for their own greedy ends and then blame Democrats for the problem. Call him up Thom. Invite him on the show and see if he can defend his position with anything that resembles fact.

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