It’s absurd to dismiss Europe. After all, Norway is richer per capita than the United States. Moreover, according to figures from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, per-capita G.N.P. in France was 64 percent of the American figure in 1960. That rose to 73 percent by 2010. Zut alors! The socialists gained on us!
Meanwhile, they did it without breaking a sweat. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that employed Americans averaged 1,741 hours at work in 2010. In France, the figure was 1,439 hours.
If Europe was as anticapitalist as Americans assume, its companies would be collapsing. But there are 172 European corporations among the Fortune Global 500, compared with just 133 from the United States.
Europe gets some important things right. It has addressed energy issues and climate change far more seriously than America has. It now has more economic mobility than the United States, partly because of strong public education systems. America used to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world; now France and Britain are both ahead of us.