He’s outrageously liberal. This book reads like an angry treatise from an aging hippie socialist who is trying to get back at the Bush administration.
Here’s what Steves has to say about Americans:
In American politics, “socialism” is often perceived as an all-or-none bogeyman, evoking the stifling Soviet system of the Cold War. This thinking, which fixates on a Stalin-style oppression that has nothing to do with today’s European socialism, ignores the reality that socialism is a spectrum. Every society on earth including our own includes some socialistic elements (such as our progressive taxation).
Like us, Europe is enthusiastically capitalistic. Europeans are just more comfortable with a higher degree of socialism. Most Europeans continue to favor their existing high tax rates because they believe that collectively creating the society of their dreams is more important than allowing individuals to create the personal empire of their dreams.
While American culture tends to be individualistic – inspired by – up by the bootstraps – and ‘rags to riches’ stories – Europe is more focused on community. While we are more religious, Europe is more humanistic. In Scandinavia – the most highly taxed, socialistic, and humanistic corner of Europe you don’t find a church with a spire on the main square. You find a city hall with a bell tower. Inside, a secular nave leads not to a pulpit, but to a lectern. Behind that lectern, a grand mosaic tells epic stories – not from the Bible, but celebrating heroic individuals who contributed mightily to their community.
Europeans pay high taxes to buy big, good government…and expect results. Those results include an extensive social-welfare network that puts the financial burden of childcare, healthcare, education, and retirement on the collective shoulders of society, rather than on individuals. I once asked Olle, my Swiss friend, “How can you Swiss people be so docile about paying such high taxes?” Without missing a beat, he replied, “Well, what’s it worth to live in a society where there is no homelessness, no hunger, and where everybody enjoys equal access to quality healthcare and education?”
That’s part of the proof that Steves has disdain for America. He believes the collective must pay for the collective but he fails to grasp the collective is just a group of individuals who need to be free and who should be free to decide how their efforts, money and votes should be allocated, not the group. The notion of “collective rights” (the notion that rights belong to groups, i.e., the collective, not to individuals) means that “rights” belong to some men, but not to others—that some men have the “right” to dispose of others in any manner they please—and that the criterion of such privileged position consists of numerical superiority. That’s the socialism to which Steves, unfortunately, subscribes.
Steves probably confuses government, which is collective activity with human activity. A proper government is small because individuals can take care of themselves better than their neighbor will take care of them.
Under a proper social system, a private individual is legally free to take any action he pleases (so long as he does not violate the rights of others), while a government official is bound and restricted by law in his every official act. A private individual may do anything except that which is legally forbidden; a government official may do nothing except that which is legally permitted.
This is the means of subordinating “might” to “right.” This is the American concept of “a government of laws and not of men.”
So far as the Swiss who are as collectivist as they come partly because the Swiss don’t have to worry about the Germans, French, Africans or Australians. Unfortunately Europeans don’t grasp freedom as Americans do. Neither does Steves.
Swedes poll as happy people but the price is: – Sweden is a middle class country and a middle class culture. They have no need to excel which is why they are stuck in the middle class.
After being in and working in 92 countries, something (work in a country) Steves doesn’t do; – he parachutes in, eats at a few restaurants and leaves. If he stayed and worked in commerce and learned first hand about other cultures as I’ve done he would get to understand what’s missing in other cultures and how wonderful it is to be an American because of our freedoms. In large and especially in little ways, in Stockholm you can only paint the outside of your house one of four colors, America is far more free than Europe. Europeans — and Steves are appealed by individualism .