so an interesting piece in the NYT over the weekend, written by an American living in Amsterdam, about being an American in a European Social Democracy.
now i’m a fan of social democracy, and i do wish we had it here, in some form. but even i was sort of taken aback by some of the government support (like money for your kids’ schoolbooks and money to spend on vacation). but the article makes some very interesting points about the cultural underpinnings of the Dutch social system.
do i think it could happen here? not likely. even if we could, as a culture, wrap our minds around some of these completely foreign ideas, there’s a certain practical level that the author doesn’t really address. one point, in particular, stuck in my mind: does size matter? in various discussions with various people at various points in my life about why can’t the US just become Sweden already?, the point is always made that Sweden is, in fact, much smaller than the US. a quick look at Wikipedia shows that the Netherlands has a total area of 16,033 square miles and a population of 16.5 million. the US, in comparison, has 3.7 million square miles of land and a population of 306 million. that’s a significant difference. is the US too big, too disparate, too diverse, to fully implement some sort of social democratic system, even if you could convince people to go along with it?
i don’t have any answers to these questions – it was just something i was thinking about as i attempted to envision instituting such a system here.
that health insurance system does sound pretty fucking sweet, though.