Last year, I shared a very amusing Michael Ramirez cartoon showing Obama as the European lemming.
Now, Mark Helprin takes a much more serious look at the same issue in the Wall Street Journal, commenting on the wisdom (or lack thereof) of Obama’s interest in the European economic model.
Both in his re-election campaign and as the core principle of his presidency, Barack Obama asks America to cast off reliance on the free market—because, in his characterization, the free market “doesn’t work”—in favor of the European model of ever-tightening, ever-regulating, ever-expanding governance. This he does, astonishingly, at the very moment of the European model’s long-predictable crisis, collapse, bankruptcy, and devolution. With his trademark certainty he proposes—indeed, at times commands—that we follow him over the Niagara to which his back is turned. …Promiscuous endorsement of things European, inveterate in the president’s academic coterie, has long been characteristic of American snobs. …in suppressing and over-engineering their economies they court national bankruptcies. Just as reckless are their efforts to ameliorate economic stagnation via the all-guzzling welfare state. Shall we create more jobs by aping Europe, which since 1990 has averaged 9.16% unemployment while ours was 5.95%? …like the leaders of the bankrupt states of Europe, President Obama believes that the key to prosperity is to regulate, engineer, and direct the economy; to raise taxes; to augment the powers of government; to substitute collective largess for family cohesion; to spend money that does not exist… In short, the president and his progressives are chasing after a specter. Because the president is apparently repelled by the principles of the American Founding and lacks an alternative other than the European model, nothing else is in his quiver as he is driven by the dread of a future absent his omnipresent intervention.
Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyhow), I concur. I’ve cited OECD data to show that America is much more prosperous than Europe’s welfare states. And I’ve participated in an online debate where I argued that Europe is in worse shape than the United States.
The World Bank also has produced research showing Europe falling behind, and there’s also been good analysis from Jim Glassman, Irwin Stelzer, and Constantin Gurdgiev. And here’s a very compelling video on Europe’s fiscal crisis.
Last but not least, here’s a chart posted on the Cato blog by my Cato colleague, Marian Tupy. It shows how Europe’s growth rate has dropped with each passing decade.
In other words, the evidence is overwhelming. Europe is a model, but it’s a model of the policies to avoid, not the ones to emulate.