Were You Born on the Wrong Continent? Book Summary - Were You Born on the Wrong Continent? Book explained in key points
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Were You Born on the Wrong Continent? summary

Thomas Geoghegan

How the European Model Can Help You Get a Life

3.9 (10 ratings)
23 mins

Brief summary

'Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?' by Thomas Geoghegan argues that people born in Europe enjoy a better quality of life than Americans. He compares labor laws, work-life balance, and access to healthcare to support his case.

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    Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?
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    While doomsday predictions about Europe dominate headlines, the real story is in the travel section.

    While newspapers love to spin the sensational, there’s nothing that shocks and surprises better than first-hand experience.

    A case in point is Europe: there’s a big difference in the way the continent is portrayed in the media, and how things are on the ground.

    From The Wall Street Journal to the New York Times, US newspapers have warned readers of Europe’s “imminent” financial collapse for decades. Business columnists cite high unemployment rates, low wages and high labor costs as the telltale signs of the continent’s coming collapse.

    It seems that failing European nations are no match for a strong America and its impressive GDP. Even the country’s poor are thought to be living better lives than the poor in Europe.

    As a result, many Americans imagine that Europe is a gloomy place, filled with crumbling buildings and downtrodden citizens. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

    The author discovered this personally while traveling through Zurich. Much to his surprise, this Swiss city’s buildings were beautiful, its streets pristine. Citizens were good-natured and content.

    It was an experience of Western Europe that you probably wouldn’t hear about in the pages of an American newspaper – except in the paper’s travel section.

    The New York Times travel section is filled with praise for European cities and the European lifestyle. From the warm beauty of Barcelona to Copenhagen’s vibrantly cool character, American travel columns paint a vivid picture of the true condition of the European economy – describing an aesthetic that American cities just can’t match.

    If you want to learn about the real state of Europe, don’t read the financial pages but turn to the travel section!

    But what about the American state of affairs? As you’ll see in the next blink, statistics on taxation and public benefits reveal much about the lifestyle gap between Europe and America.

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    What is Were You Born on the Wrong Continent? about?

    Were You Born on the Wrong Continent? (2010) examines the true nature of the American economy as revealed by an eye-opening investigation that compared living standards in the United States with countries in Europe. By examining differences in health benefits and employee rights, among other issues, these blinks reveal how European nations such as Germany have quietly taken the lead when it comes to economic health and prosperity.

    Best quote from Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?

    People blow up over Germany because, for all its left-wing bent, it may be a more plausible form of capitalism than ours.

    —Thomas Geoghegan
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    Who should read Were You Born on the Wrong Continent??

    • Middle-class Americans wondering why they work such long hours
    • People thinking about moving to Europe
    • Readers keen to learn the inner workings of social democracy

    About the Author

    Thomas Geoghegan is an American labor lawyer. Based in Chicago, he is the author of several books and articles on labor law and politics.

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