By Tabitha Korol
One of the Plain Dealer’s Pajama Diaries’ comic strips this month, October, by Terri Libenson, showed the following headings across four frames: “There is no doubt our society is kid-centric. But there seems to be a growing backlash. Taking a cue from Europe, families are trying a more laid-back approach to parenting. Still, much of Europe has certain advantages: better work hours, government-mandated childcare, and most of all, no Americans.”
In the last panel, our American mother sees a French couple enjoying a beverage at an outdoor café and asks, “Who wants to carpool to soccer? Parlez-vous anglais? Art club? Chuck E. Cheese? Bonjour?”
And the French utter, “L’Americaine stupide.”
Should we be taking our cue from Europe? While the intensity levels differ, the magnitude of unemployment is the thrust of their financial system, necessitating an austerity program that led to a recession. At this writing, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Luxembourg’s unemployment is below 6 percent, Denmark’s is at 7.4, the UK at 7.7, Poland at 10.6, Italy at 11.7, Lithuania at 13.3, Ireland at 14.6, Portugal at 17.6, and Spain and Greece at a whopping 26.2 and 27 percent respectively. Portugal, Spain and Greece’s unemployment match the US’s during The Great Depression, and the rule is that for every one person unemployed, three others are affected. Therefore, at 25 percent unemployment, everyone is affected. France’s rate, close to 11 percent, is concentrated at its north and south poles, giving them the “enviable” leisure time.