In Europe, Too

The lowest unemployment numbers in five years, an economic recovery of over 4 percent in the third quarter: European politicians would count themselves lucky to be able to go into an election campaign with those kinds of numbers.

But numbers only reflect part of the truth. The main reason for this in the U.S. is the unevenly distributed wealth. The wealthiest 10 percent no longer own just one-third of the national wealth, as they did in 1964; they now own half of the national wealth in the country. They are the clientele of the Republicans, who, as opposed to Obama, represent the point of view that everyone should be the architect of his or her own fortune and that the state should not get involved with that process by, for example, implementing a new minimum wage despite the presence in 2012 of 47 million people who fell into poverty even though they worked.

Obama knows that a Republican victory in Congress in November could turn him into a famous “lame duck.” He also knows that he can only partially defend himself with his policy of decrees, but he can lead the way in a new social direction for the U.S., which could at least allow people to make livable wages again and could leave ultraconservatives in the lurch. That would be desirable — in Europe, too.

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