Europe has fallen and it can’t get up

Why would America ever want to be like Europe?

Taken together, continental Europe’s always-expanding welfare state and entitlement culture, socialism, high and progressive taxes, heavy-handed regulation and intrusive government offer clear reasons why the region has suffered two decades of relative decline.

French sidewalk cafe ParisIn fact, it’s so bad in Europe that America has proven the value of free markets by continually attracting the top talent from socialist countries abroad. This “brain drain” affords us the last laugh over the America-haters sipping their lattes with raised pinkies at European sidewalk cafes. These superficial dilettantes seem oblivious to their countries’ stagnation and deficit budgets, roiled with unassimilated immigrants and descending toward economic oblivion. The British can be left out of much of this critique, having wisely declined to adopt the euro.

But the danger faced by America is that the country’s hard left is leading us down the same dead-end path continental Europe has taken. Ample evidence shows Barrack Obama loves everything about Europe, especially France. Europe is Obamaland. He is blind to the fact that the region is famous for well-dressed adults performing entry-level jobs, while large percentages of youths cannot find jobs at all. The Wall Street Journal pointed out recently that “much of Europe’s educated, middle-class youth are permanently unemployed.” With blinders firmly affixed, Obama cannot see that billions around the world are working harder, or want to work harder, than Europeans do. The president cannot see that Europe is no longer a leader in new ideas and that too many nations, like France, are no longer great powers. America doesn’t need to follow the “European model” of the welfare state, a collection of radical agendas by too many nations that behave badly.

American liberals love to laud the European model, offering cradle-to-grave subsidies supporting all aspects of European life. Now, though, leftists are growing anxious over events in Europe that are slowly discrediting their beliefs. Liberalism’s experiment has produced grim results. Government spending makes up half of Europe’s Gross Domestic Product, but only 36 percent of America’s. Compared to Americans, well over twice as many French patients must wait four weeks or more to see medical specialists.

The Eurozone’s economy is a cellar-dweller, economically stagnant, with GDP growth averaging less than .5 percent. Productivity growth in Europe’s four largest economies is lower than it was in 1980. Obtaining building permits can take years. Competition-restriction policies depress companies’ ability to hire new workers. Some economies are still on a 35-hour work week. In some cases, tax rates are twice as high as those in the United States. Small businesses can’t get off the ground because of restrictive regulations on financing. It has become clear: The bloated European welfare state is too inflexible for the modern world, a failed project that produces a declining quality of life, eroding the electorate’s faith in its leaders.

The lesson here: Unless America wants to push ourselves into the abyss, don’t do what Europe does. But the Obama administration refuses to understand that Western Europe is committing economic genocide.

Who needs Europe anyway? Too much American blood has been lost on European soil, too much American money has been spent on European economic renewal, and too much funding has been lost on European blunders. Europe needs to be judged on its track record, which has been found wanting. As historian Malcolm Gaskill has noted, Americans cherish “individualism, innovation, equal legal rights, and the unequal economic results of geographic and social mobility.” Europeans, except for the British, are the utter inversion of American values.

The European crisis will go on and on. It makes little sense for America to invest strategically in a region where capitalism is rarely practiced, where democracy has turned to socialism, where individual freedom is subservient to the state, where political leaders have misled their citizens, where innovation is suffocated, and where foreign policy ineffectively deals with real-world dangers.

The best the citizens of most nations in the Eurozone can hope for is that their leaders will fail to actually do the things they say need to be done.

John R. Smith

John R. Smith is chairman of BIZPAC, the Business Political Action Committee of Palm Beach County, and owner of a financial services company. He is a frequent columnist for BizPac Review.
John R. Smith

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