Why is this week’s NATO summit even happening in the first place? Didn’t all of these people — the ones who matter anyway, I mean; sorry to the deputy commander of the Slovenian Air Force: I’m sure you’re a very capable fellow — at the G7 just a few weeks ago? What could they possibly have to discuss? And why is the default attitude of journalists towards these ludicrous photo-op-filled non-meetings one of unquestioning reverence, as if it were the Paris Peace Conference instead of the latest stop on a never-ending vacation for a certain kind of sleazy Eurocrat huckster whose job is to drink Perrier on airplanes and wear an expensive blue suit sans tie? When Scott Pruitt did this stuff, we rightly hounded him out of office; when it’s some EU or U.N. apparatchik, we pretend that they are cultured beautiful people rather than layabouts and gleefully quote their cowardly gibes about our leaders in newspapers.
Speaking of vacations, in the European Union employees are guaranteed at least four work weeks of paid vacation a year. In the United States, even mothers who have just given birth are entitled to exactly zero paid days away from their vital mission of contributing to GDP. Europe’s humane approach to what sociologists call work-life balance is one of only dozens of metrics according to which the French and Germans and Italians live better lives than Americans. Western Europeans have better and cheaper health care than we have. They get paid more for working less. They have better roads, better schools, better food and much better drink, better houses and furniture. They breathe cleaner air. They worship God in more attractive buildings. They live much longer. They even get away with ignoring their own daft smoking bans.