View Full Version : The American Left's European Nightmare

03-04-2012, 02:18 AM
By Samuel Gregg on 3.2.12 @ 6:08AM

They've seen the future and they know it doesn't work.

In recent years, American liberals' love-affair with all things contemporary Western European (sans Margaret Thatcher and Benedict XVI) has acquired an increasingly desperate edge. As evidence for the European social model's severe dysfunctionality continues to mount before our eyes, the American left is acutely aware how much it discredits its decades-old effort to take America down the same economic path. Hence, the ever-more screechy insistence that Europe's existing mess is due to specific, even one-off factors.

Exhibit A in this regard is the New York Times' Paul Krugman. In his latest missive on this topic, "What Ails Europe?" our Nobel Laureate informs us that European welfare states aren't central to the problem. Sweden, he points out, is doing well, despite the fact it has a large welfare state. Instead, Krugman maintains, what truly plagues Europe is a money problem.

Putting aside the fact that Sweden has actually implemented significant welfare reforms and economic liberalization policies since the 1990s, Europe does indeed face huge monetary challenges. Having a common currency while permitting euro-members to violate mutually-agreed debt limits was always a recipe for disaster. Greece could happily splurge on adding tens of thousands of public sector workers to the government's payroll and financing Chicago-esque patronage politics, while Portugal built dozens of now-idle, often half-finished soccer stadiums.

Why? Because everyone knew if things went bad, then preserving the euro (a sacred cow for Europe's political class) from the impact of nations' defaulting meant that heavyweights like Germany would go to considerable lengths to try and prevent a currency-meltdown.

Yet this amounts to only a partial -- and therefore inadequate -- explanation of Europe's present disarray. Moreover, it can't disguise the truth that there's something even more fundamental driving Europe's economic crisis. And this reality is that the Social Democratic project is coming apart at the seams under the weight of the economic policies and priorities pursued by most Social Democrats (whatever their party-designation) -- including the American variety.Read More>http://spectator.org/archives/2012/03/02/the-american-lefts-european-ni