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RE: Vacation - Company Policy

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> -----Original Message-----
> From: Christopher Wright [mailto:chrisw(--nospam--at)]
> Sent: Tuesday, May 29, 2001 4:37 PM
> To: SEAOC Newsletter
> Subject: RE: Vacation - Company Policy
> I can't let this go. Europe is by no means an economic failure. And the
> gap between haves and have nots is nothing like ours. Their rail systems
> make our particular shambles look pathetic. That includes the Brits who
> didn't have to rebuild everything 50 years ago. The French nuclear power
> industry (government monopoly) provides most of their electric power
> needs and they've put together an excellent spent fuel reprocessing and
> disposal system. Rolls Royce and Mercedes are still standards of
> excellence, and the European aircraft industry is giving us a good hard
> run for our money. Much of our stanless steel is manufactured in Europe
> or Japan. And their cities are safe.
> This isn't a knock on the US, just a reminder that we Americans have long
> labored under the delusion that everyone really wants to be like us
> because we're indisputably the best in everything. Rome labored under
> this same delusion. So did imperial China. In fact we're pretty good at
> some things, but attention to basic human needs (beyond patronizing other
> nations with gratuitous advice) isn't one of them.

Sorry, Christopher, but on this we must disagree. Free enterprise is nearly
non-existant there. No one can afford to start a business--unless he is
well-connected with the semi-fascist socialism that passes for government
there--because no one can afford to employ someone. Hiring an employee means
you will now "partner" with the government to guarantee ever aspect of the
cost of care for that employee. And that's over and above what you already
pay just for daring to make a dollar or two (relatively speaking) above the

Ergo, in Germany for one example, unemployment is at consistently
above--often WELL above--the 10% mark. In France, it's even worse, more like
16%. Now they have the added burden of an influx of emigration from
third-world nations that is probably, finally going to bring down that house
of cards called "social democracy" within the next decade or so.

Everyone looks at these European "democracies" in terms of what their laws
"guarantee" them. No one looks closely at what the cost is, nor who is
paying the freight, nor at the likelihood that it can continue indefinitely.
It can't.

Oh, and to give but one example of what I mean by the "gap between the haves
and have-nots":

Our neighbor's daughter is studying architecture here at Rice University.
They have a "perceptorship" program where they are required to "intern" for
one semester, and of course many of the kids use this as an excuse to go to
Europe. This young woman went to work in a "design house" in Milan, owned by
a very wealthy Milanese architect whose wife is an American, and a graduate
of Rice.

This girl came back with some amazing stories, among which were how
INCREDIBLY expensive it was to live in Milan, and how LITTLE the junior
architects there got paid--the equivalent of about $5 and hour, in 1995. She
said "the only way these people make it is to get together in groups of
three or four, and rent a little two-bedroom walk-up. They all are in food
co-ops, etc. Nobody gets married, because there's no financial incentive to
do it, you'll lose some of your health benefits, etc."

She said that none of these kids has anything like a "dream" of bettering
themselves, etc. In order to live like their employers, you have to be born
into it, or (if you're REALLY lucky) marry into it. The notion of "upward
mobility" just doesn't exist.

She concluded that it was just a socialist nightmare over there. She was
very, very glad to be back here, though she said "Europe is so beautiful,
and Milan was like a bit of heaven. But the price you have to pay to live
there is not worth paying!"

All this is what happens when, as Dr. Franklin observed, you "trade your
liberty for a little bit of security."

William L. Polhemus, Jr., P.E.
Polhemus Engineering Company
Katy, Texas
Phone 281-492-2251
Fax 281-492-8203

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