Thursday, September 02, 2010

The American Way

First, a Reuters editor tells America to honor democracy over dictatorship. Now a German academic tells us to honor our traditions, and not “go European” on America’s friends. In Der Spiegel, Thomas Straubhaar, a Hamburg University economics professor, takes on the “big government” strategy pushed by Princeton’s Paul Krugman, the approach Straubhaar fears Obama is following. Straubhaar writes:
what is good for Europe and Germany does not automatically work for the US[, whose] settlers . . .rejected everything . . . with a semblance of state authority. They fled Europe to find freedom. The sole shared goal of the settlers was to obtain individual freedom and live independently, which included the freedom to say what they wanted, believe what they wanted and write what they wanted. . . The state should not interfere in people's lives, aside from securing freedom, peace and security. Economic prosperity was seen as the responsibility of the individual.

If you take this belief away from Americans, you are destroying the binds which interlink America's heterogeneous society[. You thereby threaten] conflicts between different sections of society [that] have long bubbled beneath the surface.

[Better] would be a return to the American Way, the . . . success of [which] is illustrated by history. In 1820, twice as many people lived in the United Kingdom as the US, and its economic performance (measured by GDP) was three times as strong and the average standard of living (measured by GDP per person) was a quarter higher. Today, there are about five times more people living in the US than the UK, America's economic performance is about seven times better than Britain's and the average American is about 50 percent better off than the average Briton.

When Europeans and Canadians warn us about big government, it’s surely time for Americans to take on directly this threat to our "way."

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