I'm also intrigued by Ruby's idea that the EU is better-off financially than the US. Look at some GDP per capita figures. At Purchasing Power Parity (ie taking into account not just exchange rates but also the fact that things cost different amounts in different countries) the figures are:
In other words, you earn, on average, and as a nation, 30% more than us. Don't tell me that you're too poor to afford universal healthcare. Yes, Ruby, there are disparities in wealth across the US. Believe it or not, there are quite large disparities in wealth even across a small country like the UK. The GDP per capita for London is about twice that of Wales.
There are no insuperable barriers to do with electoral systems, lobbyists, etc, it's just a question of how you decide to set national priorities. And the truth is that there are simply enough people who think like Methos who don't want it to happen.
There's no mysterious condition that prevents Americans from being competent administrators, but it seems to me that people who are both principled and competent never rise to the top of our political system.
That's true of every country, Jefe. Or at least, that perception is shared in every country I've ever visited. I suspect that the truth is that *most* of our (I mean yours and mine both, not just 'ours' as in UK) politicians are actually a lot more moral than we give them credit for. And as for competence... Bear Stearns and Northern Rock were regarded as competently-run organisations until a very short while ago. Enron was seen as a model of the New Paradigm, until it turned out to be a fraud on an unimaginable scale. We focus on government's screw-ups, but that's because the media spotlight is (quite rightly) on them. Every organisation screws up from time to time. Just that some get away with it more because they aren't held to account in a way our politicians ... usually... are.