This is the title of an interesting piece by Monica Prasaad in today’s NYT. I will provide the lead paragraph in the hope that it will entice you to read the piece in its entirety.
Why do European countries have lower levels of poverty and inequality than the United States? We used to think this was a result of American anti-government sentiment, which produced a government too small to redistribute income or to attend to the needs of the poor. But over the past three decades scholars have discovered that our government wasn’t as small as we thought. Historians, sociologists and political scientists have all uncovered evidence that points to a surprisingly large governmental presence in the United States throughout the 20th century and even earlier, in some cases surpassing what we find in Western Europe.
European countries do have larger public welfare states, and this brings down their poverty and inequality rates. But in return, European corporations received a gift: a political economy biased against consumption and geared toward production.
Prasaad’s past research in comparative political economy and fiscal sociology has been quite interesting (in particular, her fine book The Politics of Free Markets). Her new book is The Land of Too Much: American Abundance and the Paradox of Poverty.