11 01 2010

Or, who’s REALLY the greatest country in the world?

Tell it like it is, Paul:

And likewise you Mrs. commentor,  an American living in Germany:

Here’s what the lady says:

“When it comes to the European way of of life, Americans lie-to themselves and to each other-because by such lies they can maintain the fiction (and myth) that the American Way of Life, with all its perils, is the only way to go.

I can tell you this: we’ve been living in Frankfurt now for over a year, and our life here has debunked such myths. My husband, who has dual citizenship, works in finance–here in Frankfurt, he has a job as a European, and previously to that, he had similar jobs in Houston and NYC as an American. We came to Europe with virtually the exact same salary–and everyone told us (including Europeans who’d moved to the US) that we’d lose with the tax breaks. However, that turned out not to be true at all. We pay almost the exact same salary. Actually, contrary to popular belief, here we pay about 4% less.

Furthermore, here we receive money for each of our kids, better tax deductions for them, tax deductions for myself as a stay at home mother (and therefore, dependent), and incredible tax deductions when we looked into buying a place of our own. We’re not on the public health care option–we go private–and yet it costs us far less than our US health insurance did, and here our insurance covers everything 100%. Each time one of our kids had to be rushed to the ER after some fall (they’re boys!), none which was dangerous, we paid nothing, zero, and were attended immediately, and always by the doctor, never nurses or aids, as had happened before in the US. Our taxes also pay for the most incredible public transportation system–which, besides, is free when you work fulltime. As if that were not enough, my husband receives a car and, more importantly, free gas. Food is cheaper, too. Here, you can eat daily what in the US would be considered ‘organic’ or ‘healthy’ or, even, ‘gourmet’ and not even blink. Lastly, in Houston our son’s private childcare cost us anything between $800-$1500 per month for each (even more in NYC) and we were looking at similar costs forever if we contemplated private schooling throughout, plus college. Here, they receive an international, bilingual education at a renowned institution which, like nearly all in Germany, is subsided by the state and slanted progressively so that parents pay according to what they earn. Our school fees, therefore, have shrunk to less than half what we paid for each child and university, if we chose to stay, in Germany is virtually free.

And did I mention the 2 months vacation? Which everyone is expected to take? Which everyone DOES take? And that hotels are cheaper? In the US, my husband received quite a generous vacation package (for the US) and yet the understand was that he take as little as possible.

However, without a doubt, the biggest difference in this way of living is the sense of security. The knowledge that greed is kept at bay and social life will continue, protected.

So in what way exactly is Europe’s social democracy not working?

Oh, I know: it will do its best not to allow for excess.”

Frankfurt, Germany
January 11th, 2010
10:50 am