<snip> When all of this is compounded throughout the entire society we get an economy where people's buying power is a fraction of what it is in the US and we end up spending 1/3 to 1/2 of our working hours working for the government - in the form of income taxation - with no commensurable return. Ok, my blood pressure is going up, let's get back on track. <snip>
I hear this a lot, but it's not really true for most of the United States. We have both federal and state income taxes. Taking the two together (and you get to deduct state taxes from the federal, so you don't wind up being taxed on taxes), I pay very close to 41% of my income in federal and state income taxes alone. In addition, I also pay about 3% of the value of my real property in annual property taxes, and 6% in sales tax (which is something like VAT) on all my retail purchases. We also have gasoline taxes, utility (electric, water) taxes, etc., and when we travel, there are extra hotel taxes...Overall, I probably spend something like 45% of my income on taxes.
I think the big difference is the cost of doing business in Europe. I travel there frequently, and I'm often shocked at the cost of the most routine things, like food. The cost here is held down by brutal competition, and cut-throat business practices. For example, our current minimum wage is something like $5.15 an hour, with NO guaranteed health benefits or vacations. That means that a worker in low-level retail can make as little as 9000 euros a year, working fulltime, with no benefits.
So when you pay more for a printer...it might be because the cost of the printer is holding up your whole life-style. You would NOT want to be a worker at WalMart, I promise you...