私 do hope European readers are going to be able to access this article. Do you have computers where you live? What about electricity? Are there shops where you can buy newspapers? I vaguely recall seeing such things during my travels on the pale continent, but perhaps I was mistaken. A recent Bloomberg op-ed, titled Americans need to learn to live more like Europeans, suggests Europeans live deprived lives with limited access to modern conveniences – and argues that, owing to supply-chain issues, Americans may have to get used to doing the same. “Store shelves are emptying, and it can take months to find a car, refrigerator or sofa,” the article opined. “If this continues, we may need to learn to do without – and, horrors, live more like the Europeans.” The horrors, 確かに!
I’m not sure whether the Bloomberg headline was explicitly designed to trigger transatlantic anger and start an online culture war, but that’s exactly what it did. 公平であるために, it doesn’t take much to make the internet irate. You can write a light-hearted article about how you like cheese and, whoops, you’ve started a no-gouda, very bad culture war. Someone on Twitter will explain that your joke about brie was classist; someone else will say that your omission of cheddar was a violent act of erasure, and someone with a username like @DairyPatriot69 will tell you to go back to where you came from and eat whatever horrible cheese they make there. And if your article is somewhat more serious? If your article should suggest that Americans might learn a thing or two from other people? 上手, the Maga crowd will track you down and denounce your opinions with all-caps inanities.
Which, もちろん, is exactly the fate that befell the Bloomberg piece. Colorado congresswoman Lauren Boebert, 例えば, who is famous for loving guns and sympathising with QAnon, indignantly tweeted that if she wanted to live like a European she would move to Europe (これ, 有名に, is a single, homogeneous country). “Let’s … keep our AMERICAN dream, thank you,” she exclaimed.
その間, the former Ukip MP and Brexiter Douglas Carswell, who now heads a conservative thinktank in Mississippi, ツイート: “If Americans lived like Europeans, the world would still be using Nokias, printed encyclopaedias, diesel cars, waiting for a Covid vaccine and at the mercy of Russia for energy needs. The world is a better place because America is not like Europe.” (Supply chains might be messed up right now, but congratulations to the UK on managing the successful export of one toxic politician.)
The American right – and Brits such as Carswell who join ranks with them – routinely jump on every opportunity they can find to portray Europe as a socialist nightmare. アメリカ, they would have us believe, is the land of choice and prosperity. だが, as Carswell may well have discovered in his move to America, free markets often work rather better in “socialist” Europe.
I live in New York, where I pay way more for my mobile phone plan and internet than I would for comparable services in the UK or anywhere in Europe. There are effectively two companies I can choose between for my (pretty mediocre) home internet and they both cost around $80 (£60) a month. That’s because the sort of deregulation that figures such as Carswell champion produces very little competition within the US broadband market.
If Americans lived like Europeans, they wouldn’t have to “learn to do without”, as Bloomberg suggests; they would learn that they didn’t have to pay some of the highest prices in the world to access basic necessities. If Americans lived like Europeans, their life expectancy might be higher: a recent study showed that Americans had shorter lives than similarly situated Europeans. If they lived like Europeans, they might not have the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world. If they lived like Europeans, they would likely be a lot happier than they are now. Even if their refrigerators were smaller.