Europe versus US? See this link for the opposite view:


The main reason the US is richer is, first of all, because a higher proportion of Americans are in employment and, secondly, they work about 20% more hours per year than Europeans.
When we adjust for both these factors and look at GDP in 2005 per person per hour worked, there is virtually no difference between Germany, France and the US.
So why do people in Europe work fewer hours? If "free time" is a normal good, then people can be expected to demand more of it as they become wealthier. This is what happened in Europe. It didn't happen in the US.

The key to understanding why this has happened is the change in US income distribution over the past 30 years. Since 1979, the bottom 40% of income earners in the US has been treading water, while the bottom 20% has become poorer. US workers have needed to put in more years and longer hours simply to maintain their real income position.
And why does Europe have lower employment? The article explains that Europeans spend longer in education and retire earlier. In the 25-55 age group, there is virtually no difference in employment.

What about growth and productivity?

Expressed on a per capita basis, GDP growth rates in the US and the EU are virtually the same over the past decade. The same is true of labour productivity growth.
And last but not least:

The most important feature of the comparison is neither the growth nor the unemployment record of the US and the EU. It is, rather, that US growth, unlike that in the EU, is funded by a dangerously high mountain of foreign debt. US external indebtedness, in turn, is driven by the US house-price bubble, enabling US consumers to spend more than they earn. Ironically, it is the EU which, together with China and Japan, continues to lend the money to the US which keeps their households spending and their economy growing.

The article is one-sided but well argued. I recall economist magazine published an article some time back (re-printed in their "Economics" book) which came to largely the same conclusions: European "underperformance" is often exaggerated.

As for people wandering around whimpering for government handouts, well,
I live in Europe. Where do I go to get some hand-outs?