We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Those so-superior French must have crappy lives, so retirement is all they have to look forward to.
From Foreign Policy'sThe Spectacle of the Society - France's half-century social-spending spree is coming to an end -- and Nicolas Sarkozy is stuck holding the bag.
The drama of rewriting the postwar social contract is taking place across Europe. Over the past generation, globalization has challenged Western economic dominance and forced wages downward throughout the industrialized world; the economic crisis that began in 2008 delivered the coup de grace.
Read the whole excellent cautionary tale.
The moral of the story, I feel, is this: when government becomes too dominant a part of life, people become more childlike and thus, instead of feeling gratitude towards their "leaders," they have entitlement tantrums when they feel deprived.
Is America unique in having many work settings in which managers feel the need to have "forced retirement" by age 70 or 75? And is America unique in having so many people who build second careers after retirement?
I suspect that America is the only country in the West where there are an appreciable number of people who were told as children "nobody owes you a living".
The left is trying to change that, and has in many cases. They have filled the heads of impressionable children, especially those of minority heritage. The theory is that because their ancestors were enslaved they are therefore owed something. Those who are recent migrants (legal or not) are told that their present situation is not due to their own choices - that the reason they live as they do is because they have been discriminated against or even that the very structure of society itself was designed to keep them downtrodden. This translates to entitlements.
But there are still plenty of people here who started with little to nothing - often recent immigrants - and who now have a decent standard of living to put the lie to that.
Europeans sneer that when Americans meet someone they quickly ask "What do you do?". They find it revolting that people are defined by their job. But the question has a greater scope. What we want to know is, "How do you make yourself useful? How do you contribute?" What useful thing, what contribution to society, does someone who retires at 60 and is then supported by the State for life make? Here in the U.S. we have that Yankee work ethic ingrained in the culture (although again the left is trying to erase it). People are expected to be productive. That productivity will normally be paid for most of one's life, but even if the productivity cannot be monetarily quantitated you are expected to be a positive contributor to society.
Europeans are more work inclined and productive members of society than suggested. I can think of no one in Italy who was revolted to be asked what he does. The problem the American faces when being forward, is expecting an answer which may be personal at that time. It may take time to get to know someone before expecting them to divulge their means if life support, not everyone is as spontaneous in a world where media can be invasive and divulging too much information can be counterproductive.
There might also be a sense of national pride among Europeans at not wanting to be feel inferior to someone who either likes to through airs and act as though they are on top of the world or who assumes that the whole world should follow the American model of productivity.
Europeans then are just as productive and disinterested at having to account for that productivity.
RonF ... As you say, "there are still plenty of people here who started with little or nothing -- often recent immigrants -- and who now have a decent standard of living to put the lie to that." This seems to be particularly true of those of Asian descent. After the Vietnam conflict ended, our part of the country [the Texas coast] got a lot of immigrants from Vietnam, many of them expert fishermen. They came here with virtually nothing and they tore right into learning to fish our coast even better than our own fishermen. They had conflicts with the locals, when our guys tried to get them to go slow or back off.
Now, twenty years on, those legal Asian immigrants are prosperous and sending their kids off to college -- at least they were, until the present Administration's shut-down of activity in the Gulf, after the BP oil spill. With the Asians' toughness and will to survive, I think they'll survive even that.
The French believed the the socialist fantasy that we could all live high on the hog at everybody else expense. People living in socialist fantasy land meet reality, riot and demand that reality be changed to conform to fantasy.