Guest Editorial


So you still wanna move to Europe, you moronic moocher?

menckens ghost“Househunters International” is a show on HGTV about people buying homes in other countries.  A recent segment was about a thirty-something American musician living in New Orleans with his chubby French wife and their young son.  Not able to make a living by blowing a trumpet – surprise, surprise! – he was working as a carpenter, a job that the whiner didn’t like, no doubt because he feels alienated from his true nature when he has to do manual labor, to paraphrase Karl Marx, the dumbest-smartest intellectual in the history of the world. 

Demonstrating the fundamental problem with the welfare state, the couple decided to move to rural France, because “healthcare and other things are free there.” 

They ended up buying a typical French house, or, in other words, a hovel.  As with many homes throughout Europe, it was old, decrepit, claustrophobic, drafty, ugly, and full of hazards that would be in violation of building codes in America.   In typical fashion, it also was not insulated, which is interesting in view of how green Europeans say they are.  It made homes in Detroit look like palaces. 

Four months later, HGTV went back to check on the family.  The eager-beaver musician still had not found work – surprise, surprise!  But he and his family had free healthcare and other stuff and no longer felt alienated from their true selves.

Is it any wonder that France’s per capita income is a third lower than America’s?  Is it any wonder that the great welfare states of Europe are dying culturally, demographically, and fiscally?  Fear and insecurity are great motivators to work hard.  By removing both, the motivation to work hard is also removed.

Here’s an idea:  Let’s follow Europe into the crapper of civilization.  Well, it’s not an original idea.  President Obama and his merry band of neo-Marxists had it before I did.

Having worked for international companies, I know the thinking and lifestyle of Europeans.  The lifestyle can be summed up thusly:  Private living conditions are worse where government is biggest and where public monuments, squares, palaces, and cathedrals have been built at the expense of working stiffs.

That’s why almost all of the European expatriates who have worked with me in the U.S. over the years did not want to return home.  They complained about American culture but loved the quality of life here.

European thinking is perfectly reflected in two families that were neighbors of mine until recently: a Danish expatriate family and a British expatriate couple.

The male head of the Danish family is a smart guy.  An electrical engineer in his early thirties who speaks three languages, he has started two businesses and has sold one of them to a Fortune 50 company.  He thinks that Americans are stupid but finds it easy to start businesses here and make a lot of money.  He says that houses and cars are cheap in the States relative to his mother country, so much so that the family drives two Porches and recently moved from their Scottsdale, Ariz. townhouse to a large house in nearby swank Paradise Valley. 

As smart as he is, it hasn’t dawned on the Dane that the magic of the United States is that not very smart people can do very well here (or used to be able to do well), because the economy is freer and government is smaller (or they used to be freer and smaller).

This also hasn’t dawned on the British expatriate couple.  The husband is a biochemist, and the wife, a college professor.  They’ve worked in the States for almost their entire careers.  They see themselves as cultured, refined, sensitive, and intellectual.  They rail against conservatives (called the “right wing” by them) and against talk radio, especially Rush Limbaugh.  Getting all of their news, information and literature from left-leaning sources, including PBS and NPR, they’ve never listened to Limbaugh, don’t associate with any conservatives, and know absolutely nothing about conservative, libertarian, classical liberal, or free-market thinking, literature, moral philosophy and economics. 

I know the intellectual foundations of their beliefs as well as they do, if not better, but they know squat about mine and don’t want to learn.  Yet that hasn’t stopped them from having nothing but disdain for what they’ve been brainwashed to believe about everyone to the right of them.

One day the British husband brought up the subject of taxes with me, complaining that “You Americans don’t want to pay your fair share of taxes.”  I responded that my wife and I pay about half of our income in taxes.  To which he responded, “That can’t be.”  I answered by detailing all of the taxes we pay and providing facts on how progressive the American tax system is. 

In typical left-liberal fashion, he didn’t admit he was wrong or even acknowledge that he had heard me.  Instead, he repeated that Americans don’t pay enough taxes.  “If they paid enough taxes,” he said, “there wouldn’t be poverty in America.”

I asked him how much my wife and I should pay to end poverty.  He responded, Whatever it takes.”  I responded by asking if he’d be in favor of a 95% tax rate. He answered, “Yes, if that’s what it takes to have a fair system.”

This is a couple who, at the time, had two Buicks in the garage, lived in a gated community, took frequent cruises, had a second home in England, were given favorable tax treatment as expatriates by the British government, and chose to work most of their careers in a country that, according to them, has an unfair tax system.

It’s no wonder that there was rioting in England.  I’d be driven to rage, too, if I had to be subjected 24/7 to such loony thinking, sanctimony, ignorance, and hypocrisy.

Mencken’s Ghost is the nom de plume of an Arizona writer who can be reached at