Op-ed contributor Paul Krugman serves the Czar up a tasty treat with his Whats So Great About Europe homage entitled Learning From Europe.
Here is the structure of his argument. Lots of Americans are resisting government intervention in healthcare, fearing it will lead to a European-level mess in diagnosis and treatment. But wait a minute: is Europe really so bad?
Sure, their economy stinks, but so does Americas! Krugman neglects the fact that even when the American economy is strong, Europes still stinks.
And American leads the way on technological innovations, but Europe is catching up! Krugman lists access to broadband as an example: but access to broadband is hardly an innovation; its a service provision. Where is their internet? Their GPS? Their cell phone technology? It is all on loan from (ahem) the United States.
Yes, there is tremendous unemployment in Europe. But among people 25 to 54, the numbers are about the same as America! Krugman does not point out that our 10+% unemployment is an aberration; when Americas unemployment rate dips down to 4% in 2013, Europes will still be at 10%.
Oh, and Europeans work fewer hours, too! Of course, if you are foolish enough to compare holidays and vacation schedules, you should not be too surprised at that. Krugman mentions that French and German productivity is just as high as Americas! Productivity? Measured how? What about in net take home pay? One thinks that the average French or German worker would love an American paycheck, which takes only about 9% out. At the end of the work week, that matters most.
So each of these refutations is highly dubious argumentation. And none of them address his premise that European-style healthcare is desirable. Krugman provides no support for this thesis, and worse, tries to use the same empty arguments that Europeans use to (try to) convince themselves that they havent screwed themselves as badly as Americans believe.
Thank goodness this is an op ed piece, although it may not be 180° from what the NYT editors themselves would enjoy seeing here.