"New Europe" is Following the American Model
May 5, 2003
The spread of American values among the former communist states of the "new Europe" -- especially entrepreneurship and hard work -- scares old Europe. At stake are leisure-driven workweeks and social programs, says author Mark Katz.
"Our productivity and the way we do things threatens their five-week vacations and their lifestyles," he said. "That's what they mean by globalization. Their social spending and wages will have to fall if they're to compete."
U.S. influence is increasing among the former Soviet-bloc countries because Europe's is waning, explains Katz. The reasons include:
- America welcomes newcomers of many ethnic origins, while Europe tries to hold them at bay.
- America's growing diversity in terms of minority populations makes us different from Europe.
- We absorb our immigrant population from the non-European world and make them Americans while Europeans don't.
- Europe keeps immigrants out of the mainstream, for the most part denying them citizenship.
- Europeans want guest workers, but don't want to take them into their societies.
At the same time, the nature of American ties with "new Europe" countries is shifting from aid to trade -- that means exporting competitive U.S. business methods. That makes Europe gnash its teeth, says Katz.
"Critics like the French are trying to prevent others from cooperating with us. We threaten their prestige," he said. "They try to preserve it with ridicule. But it's a weapon of those who fear becoming weak."
In this case, Europe -- led by France and Germany -- fears the strength of U.S. economic practices.
Countries trying to reach the economic mainstream can't afford to follow the European model, says Katz. Their only model is America -- which also happens to embrace with less prejudice immigrants from emerging nations.
Source: Peter Benesh, " 'Who Cares' Countries Find U.S. Model Most Appealing," Investor's Business Daily, May 2, 2003.
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