Monday, May 20, 2013

The European state, Democrats’ model, is sick.

the Obama administration appears to be pleading guilty to lesser crimes of bureaucratic incompetence.  But that is an unsustainable position for a president who wants Americans to believe again in the power and grace of good government, particularly as it relates to the implementation of Obamacare.

--Ron Fournier, National Journal

The Democratic Party is the party of government. As such, the party depends upon the image--and “image” it is, since to put it bluntly, government is kleptocracy--of government being a positive force in our lives. For their model of a benign state, operating as a force for good, Democrats turn to Europe.

So what’s going on in Europe? From the AP:
the rise in the level of youth unemployment for the eurozone to 24.2%. . .raises the risk of removing a whole generation from the labor force. [N]early 19 million people were unemployed in the eurozone . . . in January.
At the same time, the BBC reports that France is in recession, defined as two consecutive quarters of contracting GDP. The eurozone’s #2 economy isn’t expected to grow this year. The French unemployment rate is running at 10.6% and is forecast to rise further next year. Across the 17-nation eurozone, the recession has entered its sixth quarter, with zone-wide unemployment expected to average 12.2%.

Janet Daley, in the Telegraph (U.K.), writes that in praising government, Obama is “speaking from what is, for [Europeans], a discredited past in which the will of government is always seen as just and merciful”:
It is not a travesty of the European project to say that it was a conspiracy of the European elites against their own peoples: it is the literal truth. Of course, the EU, with its unelected centralised governing bodies, overrides the democratic wishes of the nation states. That’s the whole point. This was a post-war French and German idea, devised to prevent any possibility of the hideous conflicts that devastated the continent during the last century.
From his "farewell lecture" at Yale, 80-year-old scholar of ancient Greece Donald Kagan also traced back to two horrible wars Europe’s understandable weakness:
people go to war out of "honor, fear and interest." War "is a violent teacher. [Y]ou can expect people, whatever they may be, to seek to maximize their power, unless they're Europeans and have checked their brains at the door, so mortified are they, understandably, by what happened to them in the 20th century. They can't be taken seriously.”
Seemingly associating “soft” American liberals with the Europeans, Kagan added:
We're a certain kind of culture which makes it hard for us to behave rationally when the rational thing is to be tough. We can do it when we're scared to death and there seem to be no alternatives. When it's time to nail down something, we very often sneak away. . . Who else has a religion filled with the notion “turn the other cheek”? Who ever heard of such a thing?! If you're gonna turn the other cheek, go home. Give up the ball.
Of course, there is much to like about Europe, even if its economy doesn’t actually work. The Economist Intelligence Unit’s where-to-be-born index (see chart; hit to enlarge) links the results of subjective life-satisfaction surveys—how happy people say they are—to objective determinants. The magazine notes:
Being rich helps more than anything else, but it is not all that counts; things like crime, trust in public institutions and the health of family life matter too. In all, the index takes 11 statistically significant indicators into account. . . A forward-looking element comes into play, too. . . We use the EIU’s economic forecasts to 2030, which is roughly when children born in 2013 will reach adulthood.
I say be wary of efforts to dodge per capita GDP as the best indicator national health. Ask the people themselves how they measure individual and family health. Employed people facing brighter economic futures are likely to be happiest.

From the camp of those who believe GDP is the best measure of true heath, here’s the Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Henninger:
Europe, awash in college diplomas, has had high youth unemployment for decades. It's an established school of study for economists there. And they know the causes: a decline in economic growth made worse by regulatory thickets (with or without societal benefits), and entitlement obligations and tax regimes that drove the entrepreneurial instinct out of Europe. What remained were jobs in government bureaucracies.
The U.S. under Barack Obama is at the edge of the dark jobs forest Europe disappeared into in the 1970s, with our annual growth during his term down around 2% instead of over its normal 3%. Our kids are starting to look and sound like Europe's smart kids—despondent and resigned.
Did you hear Obama’s pean to government, delivered at Ohio State just before his multiple scandals erupted? Jackie Calmes in the New York Times reported
President Barack Obama [told] graduates at Ohio State University to ignore anti-government arguments that “gum up the works” and instead aspire to be citizens who value both individual rights and community responsibilities. “Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems. You should reject these voices.”
Citizenship, he said, is sometimes seen “as a virtue from another time, the distant past — one that’s slipping from a society that celebrates individual ambition above all else, a society awash in instant technology that empowers us to leverage our skills and talents like never before, but just as easily allows us to retreat from the world. And the result is that we sometimes forget the larger bonds we share as one American family.”
Obama has to be concerned. As Alexander Burns and John Harris of the liberal website “Politico” wrote:
A [January] Pew survey . . .found that just 26% of voters said they “can trust government always or most of the time.” 53% said the federal government “threatens [their] personal rights and freedoms” — the first time that statement has earned majority support, according to Pew.
All this caused Washington Post conservative George Will to gloat, “Obama’s presidency may yet be, on balance, a net plus for the public good if it shatters Americans’ trust in the regulatory state. . .”

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