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Letters to the Editor

Stop worrying, we're not Europe

Andrew Kierig September 14th, 2012

As an American living abroad, and a former resident of Oklahoma, I have a unique perspective on news and events in the U.S. So, when I recently came back for a few weeks to visit family and friends, I was surprised to learn that President Obama’s “radical” agenda had so greatly transformed the United States that it had, in fact, become Europe.

I live in Austria, a country that has been ruled by socialists with only a few periods in opposition since 1945. Let me assure you all, the U.S. is not becoming Europe.

In Austria, health care is totally universal, financed by employers, workers and taxes. Seeing a physician is never a problem, as they recognize that it is both cost- and care-effective to provide care at a doctor’s office, rather than through an emergency room.

Unlike in the U.S., where skyrocketing health care costs previously threatened national bankruptcy, Austria’s health costs are well controlled, while providers are fairly compensated for their services. Doctors, not bureaucrats, are firmly in control of medical decisions.

Because of more effective and universal preventive care, Austrians live longer, suffer lower rates of disease and obesity, and pay less.

Finally, what does it say of conservatives’ faith in the idea of America that one president with an unfriendly Congress can totally transform the U.S. in just three years? Is one element of the nation’s greatness not found in its enduring and living Constitution? In the strength of its institutions?

—Andrew A. Kierig, Salzburg, Austria

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