op-ed

‘Europe for a Day’

Tom O'Connor Contributor
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Many of our fellow citizens are up in arms about the prospect of the United States becoming a European-style social democracy. Their stubborn and unreasonable resistance to the obvious advantages of the modern European state, though frustrating, is really not surprising. They’re the same right-wing dullards that always raise a stink when someone tries to improve America. Luckily for the rest of us, we live in a time when our government is chock full of really, really smart people. (Nearly every one an Ivy League grad.) And I hear that they’ve come up with a truly brilliant plan to circumvent this obstinate, brain-dead conservative mob and finally enable the rest us to enjoy the benefits of a more compassionate and humane form of government.

The details are all very hush hush, but if what I hear is true, we are about to witness an act of unparalleled political genius.

Knowing full well what the reaction would be should they attempt to transform America into a European-style social democracy in one fell swoop, the administration has decided to introduce America to its benefits in a way that will meet with far less resistance. The working title for the initiative is “Europe For A Day”. Here’s how it’s going to work: For only one day a week (to start), America will adopt the way of governing, even the way of living, of our more enlightened European cousins. And here’s the truly clever part. Once Americans get a taste of the comforts of European living, they will find the taste very sweet indeed. Soon anyone objecting to the new and improved America will be told by their fellow citizens to put a sock in it.

Is your boss always screaming about productivity and profitability? When it’s “Europe for a Day” you will not have to kowtow to these evil capitalist fixations. As any European can explain to you, work is not really about productivity or profitability. It’s a social arrangement, something you do for thirty or so hours a week until it’s time to take one of your frequent and lengthy vacations.

But won’t this affect everyone’s job security, you may ask. Never fear. When America adopts Europe’s progressive employment policies, firing someone will be virtually impossible. Once you have a job: You. Are. Golden. Especially if, like a surprising number of Europeans, you work for the government. Imagine how much less stressful your life will be when work is just a matter of biding your time until your early and well-deserved retirement?

“Europe For A Day” will also be a major boon to the environment. Given European-like taxes on gasoline, Americans will have no choice but to abandon their trucks and SUVs and sample the conscience-easing wonders of eco-friendly sub-sub compact cars. Sure, the average American family of four might find these cars a tad cramped, but that’s another benefit. Since the earth could do with far fewer resource-guzzling Americans, sub-sub compact cars would be another subtle prod toward a more earth-friendly, minimally reproductive form of behavior. (The reason a European family of four has no problem fitting into a sub-sub compact? There are no European families of four.)

Last, but certainly not least, this new program will allow America to adopt, if only for one day a week, a more humane foreign policy. Like Europe, we would almost completely defund the military. Not only will this free up money better spent providing vital government services, it will also make for a more peaceful world. Without a military, America will be incapable of perpetrating (at least for a day, at first) the global mischief that has for so long rightfully rankled the rest of the world. Now, you may say, what of the good the American military accomplishes? Who will keep vital sea-lanes open? Who will airlift aid to victims of natural disasters? Who will keep tin pot dictators in line? The extraordinarily foresighted planners in this administration have considered this eventuality as well. These admittedly important tasks will be assigned, on a rotating basis, to each of the other 190 countries that comprise the UN (Israel, for obvious reasons, would be excluded.) This will not only give even the smallest and most unappreciated countries a long overdue place in the global spotlight, it will also put yet another nail in the coffin of American Exceptionalism. My sources tell me Zimbabwe will be the first country to assume American responsibilities. Pending approval of the General Assembly, of course.

Tom O’Connor is a writer hoping for a more humane form of government and currently living in Bloomfield, Michigan.