How Did Cheap Airline Travel to Europe Set the US and the World on the Road to Ruin?

It’s not a trick question. The reality is, many progressives want to turn the United States into Finland or Germany or Sweden or France or some other western European “paradise”. A few more years of Democrats in the White House and the rest of the government octopus they might succeed. Europe will have conquered the US without having fired a shot. The crazy thing Europe won’t have exported socialism to America… They didn’t have to. Why? Because Americans visited Europe and tried to create it when they got back home. Of course not everyone is interested in going quietly into that good socialist, statist night. Which is why the country is so divided today and on the edge of a calamity. And it’s the fault of cheap airfares!

Let me explain why airline travel is the cause of the United States slipping down a path that may someday lead to revolution. Prior to the 1970s travel to Europe was largely limited to the wealthy and members of the military and their families. It was possible to go, but it was a relatively expensive proposition and therefore relatively few people actually did it. It was when flying to Europe became financially feasible for those other than the richest Americans that the beginning of the end set in.

Let me explain. When prices dropped such that middle and middle upper class Americans were easily able to afford to visit Europe (western, mostly) they jumped at the chance. They visited Paris, London, Berlin, Amsterdam and hundreds of other towns and cities across the continent. And what they experienced there was amazing. The food: French bread, Italian pasta, Greek seafood. The history: They saw castles everywhere, many of which seemed to come straight out of a fairy tale. The lifestyles: From spending an evening unmolested sipping coffee in a French café to a languid evening in a Venetian gondola to walking through one of London’s countless parks, it was, in a word, wonderful. It seemed nothing short of spectacular. And indeed it was.

The problem is, what American tourists were experiencing in Europe was not the life most Europeans themselves were experiencing. To hear Americans talk about Europe, it’s nirvana. One month of vacation every year. Months of parental leave for both parents, lots of paid holidays, and of course “free” healthcare. Those things all sound wonderful but they leave a lot out. And those are the things these progressive American wannabe Europeans usually fail to notice or mention… Most Europeans live in tiny apartments or homes, usually without air conditioning, regardless of where they live. And as a result, most of the stuff in the home is small, like refrigerators, washers, and even beds. Many Europeans pay 50% or more of their incomes in taxes. Gasoline in Europe is usually around $8 a gallon and most Europeans drive around in cars that look like they could fit into a shoebox. Unemployment in many, if not most places in Europe is twice or more of what it is in the United States.

And there’s more… Starting a business is not necessarily impossible in Europe, but in many places it’s darn near close. Youth unemployment in particular is staggeringly high as governments set ever higher standards for firing employees who don’t work out… and therefore employers don’t take the chance and hire in the first place. National, regional and industry strikes frequently snarl traffic and interrupt life, often with little warning. And what’s more, European birthrates barely hover around half what is necessary to sustain their population!

And then there’s the sainted “Universal healthcare” that Americans constantly hear about. It is anything but heavenly. One need only spend a few minutes on the Internet to find out how bad Britain’s NHS service really is. French doctors are overworked and many hospitals are simply dysfunctional.

Of course, as in most societies, the rich Europeans don’t really have to deal with these problems. A few million Euros will buy anyone a nice big apartment in Paris and a car to match, plus a first class flight to New York to visit the Mayo Clinic if any real serious health issues arise.

Over the last four decades as air travel became financially feasible for the not quite rich to travel internationally, they did. The people we know today as the opinion makers, those in the media, academia, essentially the bi-coastal intelligencia and all of their college friends earning their liberal arts degrees, traveled to Europe and had a wonderful time. They experienced the life of the European elite and mistook it for the life of the everyday European. As such, they decided that they wanted to replicate that experience here in the United States. It’s like they spent a week getting wined and dined in Vegas and came home and decided that their town should have strippers and slot machines and free drinks on every corner. These intellectuals didn’t bother to realize that the Europe they visited had very little to do with the Europe that most Europeans actually experience.

As a frequent traveler to Europe and France in particular, I love Europe. If I had the resources I’d spend months each year in Paris or Cassis on the French coast or Rome or Naples or a dozen other places in Europe. But what I wouldn’t do is confuse that experience as a visitor with the life of everyday Europeans. Increasingly, those everyday Europeans are suffering ever more at the hands of the leviathan of government regulation and taxation. From high unemployment, low economic growth, poor services of all sorts and increasing limits of freedom of all kinds, the quality of the lives of everyday Europeans are slowly eroding, and statism and socialism are fundamentally the cause… and more and more the source is the EU itself.

Freedom and prosperity are not givens. They are not the natural state of man. They are gifts from our Founding Fathers and tenacious entrepreneurs and innovators and inventors… not to mention hard working men and women across the country. The more America comes to resemble Europe, the less freedom we will have, the less prosperity we will enjoy and eventually the United States will cease to be the shining city on a hill that has inspired and helped much of the world for the last century. Compare the world before the United States became the dominant economic and military power on the planet and the last half of the 20th century. The world is far from perfect today, but since WWII the United States has led the world in creating more prosperity – and lifted more people out of poverty – than over any similar period of time in human history. (One can only wonder how different the world would look if the Soviet Union or Red China had taken the lead…) It wasn’t socialism that fueled the world’s prosperity, it was freedom and free markets, both of which the American progressives seek to undermine when they seek to turn the United States into Europe.  A great cup of coffee and a perfect loaf of bread are wonderful things to have, but they aren’t worth destroying the American fount of freedom and the greatest economic engine in human history over.