Jun 02 2005
I have already posted on the Netherland’s vote and how it is being seen here, but David Brooks has an insightful Op-Ed that is a must read [registration required]. Here are some of the great points he lays out while he lists the economic failures in Europe, which are really failures from the same policies the liberal left in this country keep trying to foist on America. It’s always nice to have someone else be the guinea pig with liberal ‘solutions’. I feel for Europe, they have some hard choices coming. But at least we can learn from their mistakes when they bought into the liberal/socialist fantasies.
Forgive me for making a blunt and obvious point, but events in Western Europe are slowly discrediting large swaths of American liberalism.
Most of the policy ideas advocated by American liberals have already been enacted in Europe: generous welfare measures, ample labor protections, highly progressive tax rates, single-payer health care systems, zoning restrictions to limit big retailers, and cradle-to-grave middle-class subsidies supporting everything from child care to pension security. And yet far from thriving, continental Europe has endured a lost decade of relative decline.
But it is not the absolute standard of living that determines a people’s morale, but the momentum. It is happier to live in a poor country that is moving forward – where expectations are high – than it is to live in an affluent country that is looking back.
Right now, Europeans seem to look to the future with more fear than hope. . As Anatole Kaletsky noted in The Times of London, in continental Europe “unemployment has been stuck between 8 and 11 percent since 1991 and growth has reached 3 percent only once in those 14 years.”
The Western European standard of living is about a third lower than the American standard of living, and it’s sliding. European output per capita is less than that of 46 of the 50 American states and about on par with Arkansas. There is little prospect of robust growth returning any time soon.
Europe’s population is aging and shrinking. By 2040, the European median age will be around 50. Nearly a third of the population will be over 65. Public spending on retirees will have to grow by a third, sending Europe into a vicious spiral of higher taxes and less growth.