Written on January 28th, 2015
THOMAS GEOGHEGAN, a graduate of Harvard and Harvard Law School, is a labor lawyer with Despres, Schwartz and Geoghagen in Chicago. He has been a staff writer and contributing writer to The New Republic, and his work has appeared in many other journals. Geoghagen ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary to succeed Rahm Emanuel in Congress a candidate, and is the author of six books including WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?, THE SECRET LIVES OF CITIZENS, and, most recently, WERE YOU BORN ON THE WRONG CONTINENT?
In his new book, WERE YOU BORN ON THE WRONG CONTINENT?, today's guest makes a strong case that European social democracies - particularly Germany - have some lessons and models that might make life a lot more livable. Not only that, they could help us keep our jobs.
In comparison to the U.S., the Germans have six weeks of federally mandated vacation, free university tuition, nursing care, and childcare. But you've heard the arguments for years about how those wussy Europeans can't compete in a global economy. You've heard that so many times, you might believe it. But like so many things, the media repeats endlessly, it's just not true.
According to Geoghagen, "Since 2003, it's not China but Germany, that colossus of European socialism, that has either led the world in export sales or at least been tied for first. Even as we in the United States fall more deeply into the clutches of our foreign creditors-China foremost among them-Germany has somehow managed to create a high-wage, unionized economy without shipping all its jobs abroad or creating a massive trade deficit, or any trade deficit at all. And even as the Germans outsell the United States, they manage to take six weeks of vacation every year. They're beating us with one hand tied behind their back."