Letter: America hits back

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Ken Livingstone ("The Third Way will drive Europe into a slump", 3 March) claims that nearly a third of the population in the US has no guaranteed access to health care. In fact in 1997 the proportion, according to the US Census Bureau, was 16.1 per cent. Of these, over 43 per cent were not citizens of the United States.

Mr Livingstone claims that levels of homelessness and drug addiction "dwarf anything we see even in the most deprived pockets of Europe". A recent study by the National Law Center on homelessness and poverty found in the US "700,000 people homeless on any given night, and up to 2 million people who experience homelessness during one year". The European document "Housing Policy in the EU Member States" quotes an estimate that, in 1993, there was a minimum of 2.5 million homeless households in Europe

Mr Livingston claims that "much of the so-called American economic revival has simply been the creation of low-wage, low-skill and casual employment". In fact, the rate of part-time employment in the US has stayed almost constant since 1986, according to the OECD.

If Europeans interested in dealing with their very serious economic problems had a better grasp of the facts of the US economy, rather than relying on stereotypes, myths and prejudices, then they might learn some valuable lessons. I am not holding my breath.

Dr JOSEPH EDWARD NEMEC

New York

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