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May 21, 2012

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WiseGuy

There is one other factor that may play into things. Attitude.

I just came back from Belgium where you quickly discover that 99% of all business stops at 5:00pm. While the pumps at the gas station will still work if you have a credit card, you will find it hopeless to buy a can of pop or a road map at the gas station "convenience" store. Every one, without exception, was shuttered at 5 sharp. No competition, no interest in providing a convenient service to make your place better than the other guy's. All prices, double their counterparts in North America. Parking lots are non existent and every street is permanently lined with parked cars and those waiting for a space to open up. disused bike lanes are everywhere, and the landscape is littered with idle wind turbines on a calm hot day. A liberal paradise.

Compare this with Eastern Europe, the Czech Republic, where competition is healthy and strong, stores open long hours to keep up with demand. New small businesses have opened up everywhere, since unemployment is still high but regulation is almost nonexistent. It is exciting and vibrant.

I plan to never return to Western Europe (except perhaps to view it from the safe distance of a cruise ship). It's that bad.

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