I don't want you to have what I don't have
People in Europe have been known to protest when they feel that the government is taking something away from them. They might storm the streets and burn cars, as in the case of the French government raising the retirement age from 60 to 62 in October 2010. I'll admit I've had a laugh at Europe's expense on several occasions, for this type of behavior. We Americans might roll our eyes at Europe even as we are just as extreme, but in the opposite direction. We strip public workers of their benefits and collective bargaining rights, and we defend the deed by saying they get paid way too much, using typical salary estimates of $50,000-$80,000, including benefits.
Europe says, "You're giving something to that guy that you're not giving to me; give it to me, too," while the U.S. says, "You're giving something to that guy that you're not giving to me; take it away from him." Which statement, in all its generality, is more selfish or naïve?
The result of the European view is social uprising, while the result of the American view is the widening of the gap between the upper and lower/middle classes. An article from MSNBC gives much more detail from an OECD study, including such statistics as: America's top 10% earners are #1 in the rankings while the bottom 10% are well below average, the U.S. is ranked ahead of only Mexico and Turkey for economic equality, and France is one of the few countries whose equality has improved over the past 20 years.
John Stewart and The Daily Show have demonstrated the selfish hypocrisy of related conservative politics in the U.S., whose most vocal members and media are dominated by people with a considerable amount of money (one says that an income of $250,000 is almost poverty):