Europe’s Promise: Why the European Way Is the Best Hope in an Insecure Age

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Europe’s Promise: Why the European Way Is the Best Hope in an Insecure Age
By Steven Hill
University of California Press, 2010
456 pp. $24.95
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In this timely and provocative book, Hill, known primarily as an analyst of U.S. state and local reform, argues that the "social capitalist" policies of European countries represent best practices in handling most of the challenges modern democracies face today. By contrast, the United States is often dysfunctional. When indirect fees, private out-of-pocket costs, and taxes are all included, Americans pay as much as Europeans for public services but end up with much less. Europe's health care, social welfare, environmental policies, labor rights, "smart power" projection, and multiparty parliamentary governments are consistently more efficient, more just, and less fractious than the United States' libertarian, militaristic, two-party, money-driven, separation-of-powers alternatives. Hill can be breathlessly wordy, and, like some other Europhiles, he occasionally indulges in armchair social psychology -- but the overall argument rests on solid data. It explains why in most areas, it is Europe's constitutional forms, economic regulations, and social values, not those of the United States, that are the most popular models for new democracies. The oldest one should take note.