Sunday, August 22, 2010

Good ole US of A!

In order to avoid being blacklisted by Irving Horowitz as an America-hater, I have decided once a year to publish a list of economic things that the US does better than Europe. And there are several of them. Offhand I can think of two.

NUMBAH ONE. Despite American bankers´ notoriously criminal instincts, I must confess that the US beats Europe hands down when it comes to issuing credit cards and the like. In the US it´s easy to get a credit card. Banks in all the European countries I have enquired about issue credit cards only to people who either own real estate, have a large bank balance or are relatives of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg. That is an inestimable advantage for denizens of this fair republic.

By the same token, in France at least, you can only buy or rent a dwelling if you have a full-time steady job. This pig-headedness of European bankers and real estate agents is the source of much woe to Europe´s youth. Neoliberal labor policies (for the sake of labor market “flexibility”, of course) have reduced the ranks of steady job-holders while increasing the numbers of temps and people working on short-term contracts. However the banks and real estate agents apparently didn't get the memo because they continue to demand compliance with draconian evidence of stability. Consequently many young French earn their own living but are barred from renting an apartment because their jobs are too precarious to warrant signing a lease with them, and they are forced to live with their parents into early middle age.

NUMBAH TWO. The US of A is the only country in the entire universe where you can get a 30-year mortgage. Apparently that's big deal, although I don't know exactly WHY it is such a marvelous arrangement. In any case it is universally regarded as cause for exultation.

And we owe it all to that peculiarly ingenious American institution known as the New Deal. Yes, boys and girls, President Franklin Roosevelt made it possible -- for the first time since the Precambrian epoch – to get a 30-year mortgage, thanks to the federal government's meddling with the economy.

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