Here’s a good, succinct analysis of the general dynamics of the threat to the (already-eroded, never totally egalitarian) European model of welfare, from the British Medical Journal:

The assault on universalism: how to destroy the welfare state
Martin McKee and David Stuckler watch aghast as American examples are followed to destroy the European model of the welfare state.

They say:

a crucial and longstanding difference [between the US and Europe] was the role of race in society. In America, the rich could never fall to the bottom of the ladder, because that position was already taken. African Americans faced persistent and widespread discrimination. […]. Europeans knew they could go to bed rich and wake up poor, but a rich (and, by extension, white) American could be confident that they would never wake up black.

(It might be added that in European countries, the rich have to spend money, continuously, to establish and maintain a “racial difference” between themselves and the poor, which comes free, as it were, in the USA.) Read the rest of this entry »