No cushion in a cage for me!
I have several friends who grew up in European countries, married American men and now enjoy the blessings of the greatest country on earth. My friend from Denmark loves America, and her feelings toward this country, its history, beauty, and opportunities are tender. But her mindset is still one of a socialist democrat. When I was fighting against the Obamacare legislation by making a dozen phone calls during my 20 minute lunch breaks, using time that was my own to devote to the labor of activism, my Danish friend was perplexed that I would basically skip the time off our employer "owed to me." She was also at a loss to understand why I wouldn't want a socialized medical system, and a huge nanny state to care for my physical needs, cradle to grave. That's what she knew in Denmark. It just the way it is in Europe.
One day I summoned my diplomatic self to explain to her why I was so vehemently opposed to Obamacare and big government. I told her, "Americans are different than Europeans. We value freedom over all other things. We don't want the government making our choices for us. We don't want government dictating what we can and cannot do with our money, our property, or our bodies. Americans value liberty more than comfort." She countered with, "Well, wouldn't you like to have a 3 week vacation twice every year, and as much sick time as you need?" I told her no. I said, "Americans prefer to work for ourselves. We want lower taxes and smaller government so we can work hard, access the opportunities to become wealthy through our own entrepreneurial efforts if we wish, and take as much time off as we choose." She was a little stunned to hear this, her face flushed but she listened. I continued, "You see, Americans want to choose whether they take off one day or 2 months. It depends on how much money we make, and how much we want to work. We will make the choice. Some of us can work hard and retire at 50, some will work until we die, because we choose to do so. It is about the freedom to do with our lives and work as we will. The government has no business telling us how to live our lives."
After my soapbox lecture my friend quickly changed the subject. She never again asserted that the European model was more desirable, at least not to me.
I am of Celtic extraction. My Danish friend and I may very well have parallel genealogies. We may even share a common Viking ancestor a thousand or so years back. But the blood that runs in the veins of Americans vs Europeans is very different. The American work ethic is just that, a WORK ethic. Europeans are raised with an ENTITLEMENT ethic. The government will take care of their needs. The government will also limit their freedom and potential. I would not trade the risks and uncertainty and liberties of my life for the cushion in a cage to which European socialists look forward.
My employer, the local school district, has taken today off. But I have not. I am busy writing, helping two friends who are running campaigns, and preparing for work tomorrow. I will take my 15 year old on a hike later today. I don't look forward to time off. I like my life to be filled with time on.
My European friends are lovely people. They love all that America has to offer. But to truly understand America and why her citizens so value liberty over comfort, they may require a blood transfusion.