Beware of stereotypes based on ideological assumptions. As Europe's economy has surged, it has maintained fairness and equality. Unlike in the United States, with its rampant inequality and lack of universal access to affordable health care and higher education, Europeans have harnessed their economic engine to create wealth that is broadly distributed.
Either believe what I tell ya or what the conservatives say, but I'm the one who's retiring to Paris. Be nice if the conservatives who malign 'Old Europe' actually left the U.S. and experienced it. You see ladies in burqas shopping right next to ladies wearing the latest Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, and Donna Karan. It works, unlike this dysfunctional mess we have here.
Demosthenes (thanks to the lovely Avedon) looks at this too, riffing off the Krugman article Gord linked to the other day:
The French's shorter hours would be conducive to greater productivity while they actually are working, and a greater quality of life while they're not. Honestly, aside from a slight hit to GDP--that, in America, principally consists of increased compensation to the already fantastically wealthy and slightly greater pay for those with no time to enjoy it--I honestly fail to see the problem.
There's a reason why the dollar is doing so poorly against a currency (the Euro) that, by rights, ought to have been worthless 5 years after its inception.
And, by the way, I thought the U.S. hegemony* would have been accomplished (if you read my books) by a strong dollar as opposed to military might as Bush and the neocons believe. My vision for the future would be Europe and Asia rallying around and accepting the dollar (after the fiscal discipline and growth of the Clinton years, and our 'sole superpower' status) as the 'universal currency'; an economic sphere, as it were, from which a global government (hegemony) would arise sometime (a century or two) in the future. I believed, before Bush gained control, an idealistic sea change in the Mid East and East Asia would come about due to economic pressures, and their entrance into the 'First World', and would signal the beginning of a more progressive direction for the world to take.
Lord, was I wrong. The Chimp managed to fuck it all up.