L'Europe Qui Gagne

The Economist just put out their Standard of Living Index for this year. I was kind of surprised by some of the results. Best country to live in? Ireland. How amazing is that? They went from the third poorest nation in the European Union to best country to live in in the world in 15 or so years. Switzerland got #2. US was at lucky #13, Canada #14. Germany was way down at 25, which I'm guessing is due largely to unemployment numbers. Of course, show me a country that swallowed a Communist country of 30 million in the last 20 years that is doing better. I found the following list on the website for a human resources company. It's the worlds top fifty cities for Quality of Life:

1. Zurich, Switzerland
1. Geneva, Switzerland
3. Vancouver, Canada
3. Vienna, Austria
5. Auckland, NZ
5. Bern, Switzerland
5. Copenhagen, Denmark
5. Frankfurt, Germany
5. Sydney, Australia
10. Amsterdam, Netherlands
10. Munich, Germany
12. Brussels, Belgium
12. Dusseldorf, Germany
12. Melbourne, Australia
15. Berlin, Germany
15. Luxembourg, Luxembourg
15. Stockholm, Sweden
15. Toronto, Canada
15. Wellington, NZ
20. Nurnberg, Germany
20. Ottawa, Canada
20. Perth, Australia
23. Dublin, Ireland
24. Adelaide, Australia
24. Brisbane, Australia
24. Calgary, Canada
24. Hamburg, Germany
24. Helsinki, Finland
24. Honolulu, USA
24. Montreal, Canada
24. San Francisco, USA
31. Oslo, Norway
31. Paris, France
33. Singapore
33. Tokyo, Japan
35. London, UK
35. Lyon, France
35. Yokohama, Japan
38. Kobe, Japan
38. Madrid, Spain
38. New York, USA
41. Boston, USA
41. Portland (OR), USA
43. Winston-Salem, USA
44. Barcelona, Spain
44. Lexington, USA
44. Osaka, Japan
44. Pittsburgh, USA
44. Seattle, USA
49. Chicago, USA
49. Milan, Italy

Not a super surprising list, I guess. Really, most of the cities in the world that I see myself living in are on it (Berlin, Boston, Brussels, Geneva, Montreal.) The only real surprises for me are the industrial cities like Dusseldorf and Pittsburgh, but I guess the post-industral revolution is having a real effect on Quality of Life.

I'm reading a book right now called The United States of Europe by T.R. Reid. It makes me more hopeful for the future then I've been in the last few weeks. He talks about how Europe is attaining a superpower status without the US even noticing because the US is so centered on Military power as an indicator of state power, while the Europeans are more focused on economic and cultural power. If the Euro is any indicator, he's certanly got a point. €250 cost me $350 when I exchanged them yesterday for my trip to Ireland next week. I remember it being €.92 to $1.00 when we switched from the Deutschmark two years ago.


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