Were You Born on the Wrong Continent How the European Model Can Help You Get a Life The acclaimed labor lawyer and prizewinning author Thomas Geoghegan asks where are we better off America or Europe In an idiosyncratic entertaining travelogue that plays on public policy Geoghegan a

  • Title: Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?: How the European Model Can Help You Get a Life
  • Author: Thomas Geoghegan
  • ISBN: 9781595584038
  • Page: 212
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The acclaimed labor lawyer and prizewinning author Thomas Geoghegan asks where are we better off America or Europe In an idiosyncratic, entertaining travelogue that plays on public policy, Geoghegan asks what our lives would be like if we lived them as Europeans Sneaking out of his workaholic American life, he takes five trips where he tries to understand so called EuroThe acclaimed labor lawyer and prizewinning author Thomas Geoghegan asks where are we better off America or Europe In an idiosyncratic, entertaining travelogue that plays on public policy, Geoghegan asks what our lives would be like if we lived them as Europeans Sneaking out of his workaholic American life, he takes five trips where he tries to understand so called European socialism firsthand Though he first tries France which has become a rhetorical stand in for the continent as a whole in many Americans minds , he eventually ventures into Germany to see what some call the boring Europe There he finds the true other an economic model with bottom up worker control than that of any other country in the world and argues that, while we have to take Germany s problems seriously, we also have to look seriously at how much it has achieved Social democracy may let us live nicer lives it also may be the only way to be globally competitive This wry, timely book helps us understand why the European model, contrary to popular neoliberal wisdom, may thrive well into the twenty first century without compromising its citizens ease of living and be the best example for the United States to follow.Germany is generous than the U.S The average number of paid vacation days in the U.S is 13, versus Germany s 35New mothers in the U.S get three months of unpaid job protected leave and only if they work for a company of 50 or employees, while Germany mandates four months paid leave and will pay parents 67% of their salary to stay home for up to 14 months to care for a newborn.U.S life expectancy is 50th in the world, compared to Germany s 32nd.

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    About “Thomas Geoghegan

    1. Thomas Geoghegan says:

      Thomas Geoghegan received national attention when he ran as a progressive candidate for Rahm Emanuels congressional seat in 2009 and was endorsed by Barbara Ehrenreich, James Fallows, Thomas Frank, James K Galbraith, Hendrik Hertzberg, Alex Kotlowitz, Sara Paretsky, Rick Perlstein, Katha Pollitt, David Sirota, Garry Wills, and Naomi Wolf, among others He is a practicing attorney and the author of several books, including Which Side Are You On , which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and received a special citation from the PEN Martha Albrand Award judges, In Americas Court, and See You in Court Geoghegan has written for The Nation, the New York Times, and Harpers He lives in Chicago.

    2 thoughts on “Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?: How the European Model Can Help You Get a Life

    1. To start off briefly: the ideas in this book are good, but the book itself really isn't. It's written by an American for Americans, so if you know nothing about how Europe's economy works, then maybe this is a good start. If you want a more profound analysis, go elsewhere.That said, let me elaborate.The main argument of this book is that the European socialist model (and in particular, that of Germany) leads to an overall better standard of living (with healthcare, good education, vacations, and [...]

    2. Thomas Geoghegan is a Europhile labor lawyer from Illinois who would like to bring German social market economy to the United States. He focuses on Germany's very different form of corporate governance, which includes the principle of codetermination (where labor and executive management share responsibility for running companies), works councils that represent workers, and national union associations that set wages for industry. He is convinced that such a system would serve the interests of th [...]

    3. As others have said, I became a bit weary of the author's continual references to travels over the last thirty years and to the people he met only being identified with an initial. In the end, all of the trips and intitals ran together and didn't add anything to the ideas he presented. That said, the ideas themselves were very interesting. The focus of the book is a comparison between the tax rates and standards of living bought by those taxes in the U.S. and in the social democracies of Europe, [...]

    4. What a fascinating picture of a different way things could be! Geoghegan concludes that 90% of the U.S. population would be better off with the somewhat higher taxes and much greater benefits of a social democracy such as France or Germany. He starts off by recounting the great impression the city of Zurich made on him. Again and again he advises us to look at the travel section to evaluate Europe, rather than getting our ideas from the Wall Street Journal. Just walk around a city like Zurich (u [...]

    5. I went to Tom’s party for the release of this book. A book mostly about the German economic model and the role of organized labor, he cleverly chose the top floor of the Dank Haus, the German cultural center in Chicago, as the location. In order to persuade people to attend, he wrote in an email that the venue “offers a breath-taking view of the Walgreens across the street.”Tom is a real romantic, a real public intellectual, and a real activist. I love him because he’s also a real Chicag [...]

    6. Thomas Geoghegan is a very funny writer. I laughed out loud more at this book than I have reading any other comparative political studies book I've ever read. You'll laugh too. My biggest criticism, and look I recognize that this book was completed during the early Obama era when the former president was being derided daily for being a socialist, is that Geoghegan can't allow himself own up to his own social democratic tendencies. It's played for laughs, I get it, but the reflexive genuflections [...]

    7. This book provides a terrific countervailing view to the dominant economic practices of the United States. Stylistically the book is too frequently off-putting due to the author's overly breezy and chatty approach, an approach which probably will discourage many readers from taking the substantive points seriously. That would be unfortunate as he makes a very interesting argument in between all the anecdotes.The author focuses primarily on how economic and social life is organized in Germany in [...]

    8. I am definitely not like everyone, but after reading this book I could easily say YES, I was born on the wrong continent. We in the U.S. pay up to four-fifths of the taxes that they pay in European Social Democracies, but we get back no where near four-fifths of the benefits they receive in state welfare. Europe, aside from having a society where the quality of life is not just measured in GDP, but in the more intangible benefits. A society that continues to educate itself after it leaves whatev [...]

    9. Well, I gave it my best shot, applied the "100 pages minus your age" rule, and gave up exactly on page 52.I fell asleep during Economics 101 in college, which is probably why I fell asleep reading this book. This author belabored the same point for 30 pages.a little long-winded. The title, to me, suggests something altogether different than a study on the GNP, and an analysis of social government. I suppose I was looking for "Do you like to drink wine?" Do you like small cafes where you sit for [...]

    10. I was truly fascinated by this book. Being in a union, I was very interested in hearing how other countries run theirs. Tom spent most of the time comparing the US to Germany. I have often thought that I was born on the wrong continent, and now I know I am right. I would like to hope that our country can change and see things differently, but I don't keep myself up at night waiting. I thank my lucky stars that I am in a teachers union, the closest to European living that I will ever be. I hope t [...]

    11. Fantastic, eye-opening insight into the "European model" and how it offers what many of us are looking for from our society in the United States. In spite of crisis and uncertainty, Europe is doing amazing things in forging a vibrant post-industrial society for its citizenry. The author doesn't shy away from Europe's problems either, including their fiscal issues and shifts in labor policy. But overall, he leaves Americans (and others whose nations are in the thrall of the insanity of "free-mark [...]

    12. Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?is a chatty comparison of life in the U.S. with that found in a social democracy like that in Germany. Written in an informal, conversational and meanderingly annoying style, Geoghegan argues that most of us would be better off under a European government with a social contract than under the every-man-for-himself system in the U.S. Geoghegan presents a reasonably compelling case. Europeans live longer, are healthier, work less, retire earlier and have far mo [...]

    13. Kind of finished this a while back Let's seeIt's kind of a bizarre way to make an argument, especially for a lawyer; but Geoghegan, a Chicago-based labor lawyer, makes mostly an emotional appeal for adjusting the American workers' lives to more strongly resemble those of their European (socialist) counterparts. Though the statistics do appear later in his book to support of his claims, this non-fiction book strikes an odd tone as the narrator talks about looking at the Continent through the lens [...]

    14. I really wanted to like this book, if only as a matter of confirmation bias. I agree with the basic principles Geogeghan outlines: Europe's social democracies have more stable socio-economic systems then the US thanks to their more even-handed treatment of their workers. But Geogeghan's style of writing is off-putting. He was conversational when he should have been analytical and vice-versa. He has a tendency to repeat himself and there are times when his arguments don't add up, but his solution [...]

    15. I love the premise of this book, particularly as an American living in Europe, marveling at the magnificence of social democracies. Unfortunately, I had some problems with it (although not the overall point of the book).I think it was poorly edited. Some sentences made no sense at all, the only cause I could find being a missing or incorrect word in the sentence structure. I also found the narrative to be a bit clunky at times.I had a bit of a problem with the economic talk in the book as well. [...]

    16. With all the fear fostered by some of our politicians about the US becoming a European Socialist country I thought I 19d like to know what it is we fear. 1CWere You Born on the Wrong Continent? 1D defines European Socialism using the economic systems of Germany and France. The author uses the term European Capitalism because the German economic model was designed and implemented by the US military after WWII. It 19s just a question of semantics. There are a lot of interesting facts in the book, [...]

    17. The book reads simply and is certainly geared to a centre-left American Democrat perspective. This being the case, it simplifies most arguments that it makes into very simple statements, making heavier use on countless anecdotes and personal experiences than on citable facts and statistics. One might be able to tell this by the repeated references to the general "European model." One shouldn't look to this book for a more in-depth analysis of economic systems (as I did for some reason), or for a [...]

    18. The title pulled me in. Yes, I think I was born on the wrong continent.This book was a terrible disappointment. An American labor lawyer visiting Germany (mostly Berlin) and talking to people. His decision was made before he ever went. He admittedly talks only to people who can explain and/or support his opinions. He over and over uses "dark" as a description, and suddenly, late in the book, I find this was not negative. His explanation of Germany's means of preserving a high school educated, te [...]

    19. I liked this book very much because it made me think about whether or not the American way of doing things is always the best way. While the author doesn't go so far as to say that the German (or European) ways are the best ways, he does make valid arguments for at least considering them. I was particularly impressed with his arguments about labor unions and work councils (in other words, worker self-determination). Although the author's style was conversational and entertaining, I did at time f [...]

    20. This is another that makes me wish for half-star options, because really I'd give it 3.5 But I went with three as an average. 4 for the subject matter, which I could read a pile of books on because I'm certainly interested in it as a general concept. But 2 or maybe a bit more for the writing style - while I am not totally averse to the chatty, stream-of-consciousness stuff (Sarah Vowell is aces at it and I adore her and her books), Geoghegan's is just a bit toorandom and rambly and sort of zig-z [...]

    21. As he writes one can create a portrait of an ignorant and weak American wandering through Europe, whether he intentionally creates this image is questionable. As for his idea that the German model has some lessons and ideas that may help the now failing American model -- that's an easy argument to make at least to me. The more precise point that social democracy within the workplace is Germany's best asset is quite persuassive especially as it relates to creating a working class that knows its o [...]

    22. This book should win a prize for best cover - the cover and the title caught my eye and I had to read it. Geoghegan is a labor lawyer so he, of course, focuses on labor issues. He lived and taught in Germany so he focuses on Germany. What makes this book such a gem is that Geoghegan builds on the structure of work life in Germany and gets into the reading habits, social life, political life, grocery stores, retirement plans, and educational life of every day Europeans. The tone is light and chat [...]

    23. Geoghegan is usually funnier than this. I think the problematic part of the book is the first third where Geoghegan selectively uses statistics to try to refute other statistics. Then it gets better when Geoghegan starts explaining the German model and his personal experience. That part is very interesting and an update describing whether it -- or more macro factors -- have resulted in comparative changes since the Financial Crisis would be interesting. I recommend you read Geoghegan but probabl [...]

    24. I really wanted to like this book, but I found it a disappointment. Geoghegan seems like a smart, ethical and likeable guy, but he is so busy telling funny anecdotes that it's easy to miss the genuinely interesting data and observations. I also thought it was odd not to see any mentions of the UK. I thought it was only the British who see "Europe" as a separate entity from themselves. So, I was disappointed. I only made it halfway through. It could have been a much better book with a more discer [...]

    25. Interesting read. I'm not crazy about Geoghegan's storytelling, but his ideas require some serious reflection. His main argument is that the American system of capitalism has failed to grant our people a standard of living that keeps pace with the European model, in which people pay slightly higher taxes put receive significantly more benefit from their governments and their corporations, meaning that they ultimately keep far more of the dollars they earn than we do. Thought-provoking, for sure. [...]

    26. Weak arguments are a hallmark of this book. Also, the author uses questionable and debatable data to support his positions. It is written through the lens of a labor-lawyer who took a two month sabbatical to Europe and was enthralled. Geoghegan needs to brush up on, or read for the first time, books on what has made America such a special, unique, and desirable place to live. The grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, apparently.

    27. 3.5 starsIt was hard to know what to think about the book because it's a lot of opinion based on his relatively brief travels and conversations with Germans, yet it's a lot of opinion that I agree with and enjoyed reading. Sometimes his style came out spot on, and sometimes it came out strange. Overall, I really liked it for the point he was going after--the American model doesn't give its citizens much of a life.

    28. This is an interesting comparison of the European economic model to the US model. The author asks the question, "which version is better?" You get to follow him through his adventures in Europe (mainly Germany) as he talks to ordinary people to understand how the system works. He looks at the social welfare system, labor laws, education, and a host of other issues to really see which version is better.

    29. the writing is only 3 star, this guy rambles a lot, but I gave it 4 because I think Americans need to know there is a better way. Luckily there is a huge waiting list for this ; I had to wait months to get it. More people need to know that when workers have more power, we can actually be more competitive

    30. the author has some funny remarks now and then but overall i thought this book was really meh.i did like it dont get me wrong but he should make a way around his arguments not mostly on travel experiences but on actual facts is lacking a lot of charts and quotes if you ask me.overall it was fun to read and i was interested in a topic i didnt know i could be interested in.

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