The world is in economic decline, global employment rates are dropping and businesses are failing. One man says the answer to these problems is right across the Atlantic, in Europe.
Steven Hill is a political writer, author of Europe’s Promise: Why the European Way Is the Best Hope for an Insecure Age. He has appeared on several radio and talk shows speaking on the economy, global politics and climate change.
On March 30, his book tour brought him to Tech to speak on behalf of the European Union Center of Excellence (EUCE) for the IMPACT Speaker Series.
The EUCE is an organization dedicated to educating students in European politics and recently they have sponsored The Transatlantic Leadership Series at Tech’s Sam Nunn School of International Affairs. Hill spoke on using the European Union as a model for weathering the recession and promoting economic progress.
Hill’s arguments boil down to adopting social programs such as free education and healthcare to support families and workers; the less people spend on necessities, the more they can spend commercially, circulating money.
Though his ideas may be controversial, Hill sparks a debate, an academic investigation into the fundamental ideologies and structures of world economies. His main question is: What is the balance between government responsibility and economic freedom?
The speech built on addressing two ubiquitous challenges the world faces, reducing poverty and starvation by developing economies and nations, but doing so without depleting resources.
Hill claims that the US follows a much more conservative approach to capitalism where wealth “trickles down” from the top, while Europe uses a “socialist capitalism” to redistribute a portion of taxes to general care for workers.
He cites Germany as a representative statistic for the European Union (EU), showing that despite global conditions the nation’s markets remain resilient. Hill systematically argues for the EU model by implying that a social contract between the people and the government is more agreeable than none at all. He suggests further government regulation on business to secure workers and even curb energy waste.
Student have mixed emotions on the speech and book.
“I feel like [Hill’s] ideas are important for the everyday American to understand because of the one sided views that many of us grew up with in the United States. It provides a good counter-argument to many of the things we were taught as kids,” said Tanya Kochengina, a first-year BIO major.
“Most of what Steven Hill says makes sense, but I somewhat worried about his desire to mix business and government. How can politicians know what’s best for a company?” said Arjun Meka, a first-year INTA major.
Either way, Hill’s arguments reflect a larger debate the country will be facing in the near future.
As the world becomes more globalized, it is essential that the US not only understand how business works elsewhere, but also how American businesses will change.
Today’s Tech student will be tomorrow’s policy-maker or CEO, and the Transatlantic Leadership Series provides that medium of intellectual growth on our own campus.
Hill ended his presentation with a glimpse at his goals for the future. His appeal to reason is installing motion sensors in buildings to turn off lights when rooms are unoccupied to save energy. He advocates small steps to start, with technology that has already been invented and implemented.
In addition, he sees America headed towards an age of increasing insurance and healthcare rates with declining quality of care. Although healthcare cannot be solved as easily as installing motion sensors, he looks to us to continue the discussion later in our lives.
Steven Hill is also a senior analysts for the Center for Voting and Democracy. The non-profit organization advocates for elections reform in the United States and abroad. The goals of the site are to create universal voter registration, instant run-off elections, and prevent election fixing to ensure absolute fairness in voting.