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Here Are Six Reasons Why the Poor Are Much Better Off in Europe Than in the U.S.

July 9, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

Poverty can be much more painful in the U.S. than in European social democracies.

The name “Bernie Sanders” can inspire very different reactions in Germany, France or Sweden than it inspires in the U.S. While the Vermont senator and self-described “socialist” is considered hard-left or radical by Republicans and even by some neoliberal Democrats, Europeans tend to view him as simply a New Deal liberal rather than someone with genuinely Marxist ideas. And the Washington Monthly’s Gilad Edelman ponders just how far to the left Sanders and his supporters really are in the publication’s July/August issue and poses the question: are Sanders’ young supporters really just New Deal liberals?

One thing Sanders clearly has in common with many European politicians is the fact that he is extremely uncomfortable with countries having widespread poverty—and while he doesn’t necessarily believe poverty can be eliminated altogether, he favors programs that aggressively combat it. Unfortunately, the U.S. is moving in the opposite direction in the Donald Trump era, and the policies of the Trump administration and a Republican-controlled Congress are conducive to harming the poor rather than helping them.

Here are six reasons why poverty—although painful all over the developed world—can be much more painful in the U.S. than in the European social democracies that Sanders and his supporters admire.

1. Job Training 

In Europe, there has been a heavy emphasis on education and job training; Germany, for example, is renowned for its apprenticeship programs. And according to Carl Melin of the Swedish think tank Futurion, Sweden’s system of retraining workers is “better than those in most countries.” But in the U.S., education can be cost-prohibitive. The U.S.’ poor simply can’t afford the educational programs they need to acquire new job skills, whereas in Germany or Sweden, the poor have easier access to job-training programs that will make their lives better.

2. Unions

 The labor movement did a lot to expand the American middle class in the 1940s and 1950s, but in the Trump era, unionization rates are at historic lows: only 10.7% of the U.S. workforce is …read more


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