Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Europe Looks Too Much Like the U.S.

Notable & Quotable is a short but powerful commentary about "what's undoing the European Union --- not the dream of unity, but of universal welfare and 'social solidarity.'"

Since today the vote to recall Governor Walker is taking place in Wisconsin, it's an appropriate time to consider whether there will be enough money to do all the things we want to do right here at home. And if so, where that money will have to come from.

In other words, is our welfare entitlement state becoming too large to be sustained? I believe that's indeed the case:

"[I]t is not the dream of European co-operation that was doomed from the start: given the ancient hatreds and unforgivable sins of the past, that was difficult, but it was not impossible. What has made the project unworkable is the insistence that the EU be a vehicle for democratic socialism: the impossible dream was not European unity but universal "social solidarity" stretching across a continent, for which the single market was simply a milch cow to produce the funds.

Unfeasibly enormous social security and entitlement promises were made on the basis that the free market would always provide. Nobody bothered to ask what would happen when the market faltered or fluctuated (as genuinely free markets do) or when the sense of entitlement outgrew the wealth that could be created. The problem is not unique to Europe. They are facing the same question in the US, where benefits programmes—particularly social security (the US federal pensions system) and Medicare—have become as untouchable, and as financially unsustainable, as they are here.

How long will freedom survive in the face of mass rage at the loss of the economic security that has come to be seen as a basic human right? People were told that they could have lifelong protection from want without any restrictions on their liberty or their economic self-determination. So now the cake has been well and truly eaten and had. The EU is going to have to admit sooner or later that this fantasy has run its course."

Summing Up

Economic security now seen as a basic human right?  If so, who will safeguard it?

Has the entitlement state outrun the ability of the U.S. economy to produce enough wealth to sustain it?

If so, what will We the People choose to do about it, and when will we begin to take the appropriate and necessary actions to get us back on track financially?

Before deciding that we're not up to the task of getting it right, however, let's give free market forces a chance to grow our economy sufficiently in order to give ourselves time to downsize government, means test benefits, reduce waste and see just how much better we can do at making things work again.

In the end, we'll prevail but first we have to recognize the problem for what it is --- a lack of private sector growth in the midst of an ever expanding welfare entitlement state for the "middle class."

And the politicians aren't speaking clearly about any of this stuff either. At least not yet.

Thanks. Bob.

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