Monday, February 06, 2006

Trouble in paradise ...

Fulton Sheen famously defined the intelligentsia as "those who have been educated beyond their intelligence." I am usually reminded of this after listening to members of the American intelligentsia gabble on about how god-awful this country is compared to ... Europe.
Now, don't get me wrong. I am probably more appreciative of European culture than most contemporary Europeans. A few years ago, my wife and I spent some time in Tuscany. It was like a visit to paradise. But we are both sane enough to know that our perspective as tourists was skewed. The few conversations we had with Italians about their domestic politics revealed a powerful undercurrent of discontent.
I mention all this by way of introduction to Theodore Dalyrmple's Is “Old Europe” Doomed?


  1. I lived in Tuscany for many years.

    Italy is wonderful. But it is plagued by many problems.

    Although Italy does have universal health care, it's not a great model for the US. But then, a country where a) religion is taught in schools and b) there was an elected government representative who was a porn star (Cicciolina) is not going to be easy to compare to the US. Their universal health care is widely agreed to suck, and corruption in government is rampant at all levels.

    I think most people who are waxing eloquent about the benefity of 'Europe' have something more like Scandinavia/Netherlands in mind. I lived in Denmark for a bit, and my parents experienced the Netherlands after I was out of the house.

    Wonderful (truly exemplary for minors) health care, higher life expectancies, low rates of drug addiction, violent crime, teen pregnancy.... It's hard not to get a bit wistful looking at those numbers.

  2. Speaking just for myself, the concern over healthcare seems to me somewhat misplaced. People should live in such as way as to not need so much healtcare. I can't believe that so many people need to take so much medication for so many things.

  3. I agree with that comment Frank. I changed my lifestyle, started exercising, lost weight and got rid of high-blood pressure medication, cholesterol medication and the risk factor I was gaining for type 2 diabetes!