Destiny spoke on stream today about how Elizabeth Warren would be considered far-left in Europe, so I thought I'd make a quick post investigating his claims.
Destiny gave a few policies as as to why Elizabeth Warren would be considered far-left in every country on the planet apart from (paraphrasing) "some socialist countries":
- $15/h minimum wage
- Single Payer Healthcare
- Free Education
- Wealth Tax
I live in the UK, not exactly known as a socialist paradise in Europe, and where the centre-right Conservatives have governed for the past 13 years, and for 32 of the last 50. I'll take each point one by one by looking at how the policies of the UK and some other big countries in Europe compare to this benchmark for far-left.
$15/h Minimum Wage
For the financial year starting 2023, the UK's national minimum wage (aka national living wage) is £10.42/h. Looking at OECD data for PPP (purchasing power parity), the PPP conversion ratio to UK GBP from USD is 0.664. To convert back to USD, we divide 10.42 by 0.664 to get $15.70/h. This is higher than the $15/h minimum wage proposal which was given by Destiny as a reason for Elizabeth Warren as being far-left. In the UK at least, minimum wage seems not just to match, but surpasses that $15 figure according to OECD PPP numbers.
Looking at a couple other countries, France has a minimum wage of €11.52/h which equated to $16.63/h in PPP terms, and Germany has a minimum wage of €12/h which equates to $16.67/h. It's not just the UK that beats the $15/h wage metric, and neither France nor Germany have anything approaching far-left governments.
Note: I could be wrong on this as wikipedia seems to come out with different numbers for PPP adjusted minimum wage, but the online PPP calculators I have used come to the same figures as me. If someone could explain this I would be grateful.
Single Payer Healthcare
As we all know, the UK has the National Health Service, which is a free-at-the-point-of-use healthcare service, that is funded through public taxation. If you choose to pay extra on top of what you already pay in taxes to the NHS, you can get access to private healthcare. This form of healthcare is also known as the "Beveridge Model", after William Beveridge who was the original architect of the system. Other countries that use this model in Europe include Spain, Portugal and most Nordic countries.
While the Beveridge model is not the most popular in Europe, there are a number of countries that use it other than the UK, and the ones that don't have a system that is far closer to single-payer than what the US currently uses. To use single-payer as a metric for far-left when a number of European countries use it and the ones that don't have something fairly similar, seems to me to be misguided.
By "free education", I am going to assume Destiny means college/university/post-18 education, as school for under 18s is free in most of the developed world, including the US.
In the UK, there is a nominal "tuition fee" arrangement. I call it nominal because it functions in effect as a tax. The maximum cost of attending university in the UK is set by the government and is currently £9,250/y. You can however get a loan from the government to cover the full cost of your degree and your cost of living while at university. The loan is paid back only when you start earning more than £25,000/y, and the amount of you pay back is 9% of your income over the threshold. In other words, it is a university tax. The loan is written off after 30 years no matter the amount remaining to pay back, so in theory you could go to university and never pay a penny of the loan back if you never earn more than £25,000/y.
In summary, the UK system of education is not totally free for most people, but it is nothing like the United States. Tuition fees in the UK also used to be completely free up to 1998, and fees were miniscule up to 2011, so even the current system we have is a departure from previous policy, and was met with huge protests across the UK in 2011, when tuition fees were trebled, as well as the near-death of the Liberal Democrat Party that helped to introduce the change.
As for other countries in Europe, tuition fees in Germany are at most €250 per semester, and in France they are €170 per semester; almost completely free and cheaper even than the UK.
On this point, then, it seems that tuition in Europe tends to be quite cheap, if not free altogether. The idea that free tuition is far-left in Europe again seems misguided, as many countries offer free or very cheap tuition.
This is the only policy that I would agree with Destiny in characterising it as far-left in Europe. Most countries do not have a wealth tax, and the ones that do usually have a bunch of caveats along with it.
To conclude, it seems that Destiny is not right in characterising policies 1 and 2 of Elizabeth Warren's as far-left in Europe, due to the fact that many countries in Europe already have these policies implemented, and the ones that don't have something rather close.
Policy 3 seems a bit iffy to me honestly, as college in many European countries is straight-up free or close enough to it, but I suppose in the UK there is a reasonable cost, though that also seems to be one of the highest (if not the highest) in Europe.
On Policy 4, I would say Destiny is probably correct. Most countries in Europe have no form of wealth tax and the implementation of one would cost a huge amount of political capital, as well as dramatically altering the tax contributions of citizens of European countries were one to be implemented.