So about a month or two ago, I was watching Fareed Zakaria on CNN, who was comparing Europe and the United States. In typical Michael Moore fashion, he was comparing the standards of living under the European style welfare states to the US. The amount and standards of state-provided services and so forth, compared to the US, and the different tax levels. You know the drill. From what I've heard, Canada is also very similar to European countries, at least as far as their health care system is concerned? Anyway, he also examined the flipside of that coin, which is rarely given attention. The economies of European countries were significantly less diversified than the US, relying primarily on few key sectors to sustain their growth, which is risky. This was especially true of the Nordic countries (who happen to have the biggest public sectors and the most government services). But more important than that was that the foreseeable trend was a continuation of this. The number of new businesses starting annually, and the numbers of new patents registered annually, even when adjusting for population sizes, is lower in European countries compared to the US. This was an indication that the environment is not business friendly (high taxes and regulations, probably), consequently entrepreneurs don't take risks as much as in the US, there is less innovation and, in short, their economies are more fragile than the US. Most crucial of all, their output isn't enough to sustain global economic growth in the first place. They're reliant on the US and the emerging economies (China, particularly) to sustain growth. The gist of his argument was that the European economies are riding on American innovation and economic growth (in conjunction with 3rd world cheap labor). Now, I might interject that Americans need a market with purchasing power to buy your products in the first place. Your iPhones and laptops and whatnot have to be sold somewhere, and the 3rd world largely doesn't have that purchasing power yet, so there's a symbiotic relationship there, I would think. You make it, we buy it. But I'm not an economist, so my point might be moot, I don't know. So, to summarize, Zakaria was making the point that Europe is the moocher of the world. We have big governments that make us comfortably lazy and risk averse avant-garde cinema watchers, while the US is the economic powerhouse that makes our lifestyle possible because of its smaller government and less public services (with the help of third world cheap labor). In short, the 3rd world does the lifting, the US does the thinking, and Europe sits comfortably in a rocking chair on the porch, watching you sweat. Since I'm not an economist and have absolutely no way of verifying his claims, although they seem convincing to me, my first question is: to what extent is this true? And more importantly, second: I like this arrangement very much. If it's true, how can we make sure this continues? My guess would be to just fund your Republicans with an annual percentage of our collective national budgets, but I'm open to other suggestions as well. Third: how can we keep the 3rd world poor so they keep making our stuff cheap, and is there an alternative to that? Is it possible for all nations to have large middle classes simultaneously, or must some countries always remain the sweatshops of others? If it's the latter, how can we best facilitate that?