First of all, I would like to explain briefly what I have fond out about the Welfare state systems and how this has helped me understand the differences between the ways we EU citizens and the Americans perceive the lifelong learning process in two very different ways.
The welfare state is a concept of government in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth and public responsibility for those unable to avail themselves of the minimal provisions for a good life. The general term may cover a variety of forms of economic and social organization. The modern state defined by T.H.Marshall identified the modern welfare state as a distinctive combination of democracy, welfare and capitalism. The Danish political scientist Esping-Andersen classified the most developed welfare state systems into three categories; Social Democratic, Conservative, and Liberal.
The welfare state involves a transfer of funds from the state, to the services provided (i.e. healthcare, education, etc.), as well as directly to individuals (“benefits”).
Now I would like to point out that the USA according to Esping-Andersen is a liberal welfare state. In this model the citizens are strongly dependent on earning their own living by any means of work, as there is only a basic security net of social services. Only those who are able to afford it are able to take out private insurances. This means that there is a rather big divide between rich and poor.
The conservative welfare state is often seen in continental Europe. This model clearly distinguishes between different occupational groups, according to income and gender. It primarily favours the archetypal male single-earner. Modern family models and working mothers are not favored by this model.
The last and best welfare state system according to Esping- Andersen is the social-democratic welfare state, which can be found in Scandinavia. This is funded by high taxation, but the best social services are provided in return. Public sectors such as child care, health care and education are accessible for everyone. This means that this model is best for ensuring freedom, security and participation for all citizens. It is the ideal of social- democracy to which the EU is looks up to as a model.
The reasons why the EU citizens feel they have the right to complain and distrustfully observe the policies the EU is introducing is because we have different expectations from our system and think we have the right to live our lives with certain commodities taken for granted. We do not accept that we should work for the system and adjust our personal lives in order to make the ”viscious circe” work. The EU citizens approach critically the system’s initiatives- even those that like lifelong learning may seem self-evidently good, because to them the system is there to work for them: to serve them and make their lives better. Whereas the in the USA there is a deeply rooted idea of the self made man and the american dream that influence the American citizens and make their approach to this matter much different.