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Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Democratic Vision Looks Like Europe Of Today

Yesterday Hillary Clinton formally announced her New York Senate campaign and predicted that Democrats will win every major political office in that state and "What will that look like?". What would that be like? For a look into a liberal future-world, let's turn to Europe---the necessary conclusion of Leftist programs.

As Victor Davis Hanson describes:

[T]he general European discomfort could be summed up best as the following: Why hasn't the good life turned out the way we wanted it to? England, France and Germany are upping their retirement ages and/or planning pension cuts. They have given up the dream that workers in the future can quit at 55 - or even 65!...

The enemies of Europe's past - responsible for everything from Verdun and Dresden to a constant threat of mutually assured destruction - were identified as nationalism and militarism. Meanwhile, at home, Europeans cited cutthroat competition and unbridled individualism as additional contributory causes of the prior strife and unhappiness.

So in response to the errors of the past, Europeans systematically expanded the welfare state. They welcomed in immigrants. Politicians slashed defense spending, lowered the retirement age and cut the workweek. Voters demanded trade barriers to protect the public from the ravages of globalization. Either to enjoy the good life or to save the planet, couples forswore children.

But instead of utopia, unintended consequences ensued. Unemployment soared. Dismal economic growth, shrinking populations and a scarier world outside their borders followed.


Hanson thinks the only shot at redemption is for a stalwart soul to stand up and speak the truth immediately. This fictional Ronald Reagan:

... is going to have to inform the European public: Work much harder and longer for less money; defend the continent on your own; move out of mama's house and start changing diapers - and from now on expect far less from the state. Who knows what the reaction will be to that splash of cold water?

Because I have little faith that Europeans have such a man or the strength for a manly response to a severe enemy and a harsh world, through the softening feminization of their socialist nanny states, I suggest that people get their tickets now, this year, for a grand Euro vacation. Give it 10 years and it will be useful as a more scenic and temperate alternative to Mecca. Pilgrimage anyone?

23 Comments:

At 11:28 AM, Blogger Justine said...

Hello from Europe. You've got us all wrong. We're very happy with our excellent health care, free college education, more flexible working hours, longer holidays (more time for family) and cheaper travel. From Dublin I can fly to London for 44 cents (plus airport tax), to Edinburgh for (1 cent + tax), to Paris (for less than €50), to Sardinia (for less than €50) etc. I'm a qualified New York Attorney but wouldn't work in US for all the tea in China.

 
At 11:34 AM, Blogger Justine said...

After all, living in Europe, is far better than working and 80 week, going bankrupt if I get sick without health insurance. Handing my taxes to a military industry that needs periodic wars to justify it's own existence, although is manly enough to fight only when it is guaranteed to win (Grenada etc). I quite like America and Americans. Beautiful country but sadly the interests of a small greedy corporate elite seem to triumph over the democratic will of the people. After all 70% of Americans want universal health care but they are unlikely to get it.

 
At 11:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick.

You'll need that cheap fare as you run from the eventual tumult excellently summarized in the Hanson article and blog commentary.

 
At 12:25 PM, Blogger Neal Phenes said...

I must clarify that I do not lump the British in with the Continental Europeans.

 
At 1:01 PM, Anonymous Reynolds said...

Hello from the USA. In fact it is you, abhcoide, who have us all wrong. 70% of us do not call for universal health care - we want to take care of those who need it but we'd rather give a hand up rather than a hand out. We love to be independant and not living off the backs of the welfare state. So if I have to put in more hours than my European counterpart so be it (you see being an American I am also proud of my work and happy to do it - vacations and time off, while enjoyed, are not something we keep whining for) We enjoy being with our family, not only our children but also our elderly parents (we don't leave them in overheated apartments to die while we vacation in on the Costa del Sol) but we realize that by working hard we are providing for our kids and setting an example that there is no free lunch. As for flying to London, Edinburg, Paris or Sardina (for such cheap prices??) who cares - I can go to the Jersey Shore, Disney Land or the Grand Canyon (you may not care to see these places - but that's OK too because I'd rather not see you there either - but if you do come how's about taking a bath - because Americans don't like to smell other peoples body odor).

Living in the USA is far better than being being in a welfare state, where someone (the government) has their hand in my pocket for the support of a non-productive society that soon won't be able to support itself. As for Health care - don't even go there - the USA has the best Doctors, health care facilities and technology, and produces the best medicines in the world - further the fact is that if someone needs help they get it insurance or not. As for taxes going to a military industry, I don't mind paying for my family's security but I do mind paying for yours and thus it is my opinion that the USA cut its military spending by getting out of Europe and disentangling ourselves from NATO and let you defend yourselves - think you can afford a military, universal healthcare, 20 hour work weeks, and two month vacations?

(By the way I agree with Mr. Phenes - I do not lump the Brits with the Continentals)

 
At 1:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to ask abhcoide who he/she thinks is paying for all these subsidies and how lonng can it go on? Free college, long vacations, flex working hours, cheaper travel, universal healthcare - wow!! it all sounds great, but who is paying? As reynolds writes the society soon won't be able to support itself, particularly if they are not reproducing enough to replace themselves. Are the Arab immigrants going to support the French and Germans summer long holidays? (oh and if those holidays are in the USA, please as reynolds said, take a bath)

 
At 1:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"abhcoide" is one of the 40 or so people under the age of 65 in Europe who just exhausted themselves protesting work laws (that may have helped businessmen hire productive workers and grow out of their Depression). While the US economy has a 4.7% unemployment rate, high per capita income and growth the last quarter at 5.3%, we see much of the Continent carrying a reported 10% unemployment rate, stagnant and low per capita incomes and miniscule growth. Your comments evince the ennui of the Euro youth---too tired to pull yourselves out of the hole your fathers made for you.

I agree with Reynolds' comments about pulling troops from Europe. We should be protecting places worth American lives.

 
At 2:07 PM, Blogger Justine said...

I hope the remark "I must clarify that I do not lump the British in with the Continental Europeans" though well intended was not meant to refer to me. I'm Irish, not British and while not a continental European I am a European, same for "By the way I agree with Mr. Phenes - I do not lump the Brits with the Continentals". Cheap fares are wonderful. It's lovely to be able to see new places at an affordable price. I have been to the Grand Canyon and Disneyland (Florida and California). The Grand Canyon is truly beautiful and awe-inspiring, one of the many wonderful landscapes in America. I haven't been to the Jersey Shore yet. Reynolds you made an interesting point "...it is my opinion that the USA cut its military spending by getting out of Europe and disentangling ourselves from NATO and let you defend yourselves". I have no objection to that whatsoever. I think it is unlike to occur compeletely though as without military engagement/presence overseas it will be harder to justify the amount of money spent on arms in the US. It is clear however that the geo-strategic imperative of the current US administration is to reposition forces in the middle east in resource rich areas with oil and gas, so the closing of some bases in Europe is inevitable. I don't believe we need the US to defend us. We are not under attack, nor are we likely to be anytime in the near future.

 
At 2:24 PM, Blogger Justine said...

Some of the US rendition to torture flights go through Shannon Airport in the west of Ireland. This is a source of great irritation to the Irish public and undoubtedly a violation of our human rights norms, in particular our obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and the Convention Against Torture. It is one aspect of American military presence in Europe that I would be glad to see the back of. England has the same problem and large number of rendition to torture flights have been routed through England - extremely unpopular with the English public. In reponse to the query "I'd like to ask abhcoide who he/she thinks is paying for all these subsidies and how lonng can it go on? Free college, long vacations, flex working hours, cheaper travel, universal healthcare - wow!! it all sounds great, but who is paying?" The answer is quite simple, me and all the other EU taxpayers. We are happy to pay for the benefits which we all share. Without bloated military budgets there's more money to go around. In response to the concern by an anonymous poster that "not reproducing enough to replace themselves", I must reply au contraire. While the birth rate is declining in Germany and Southern Italy it is not in decline in newer member states which have very young populations. In the past Ireland had too high a birthrate, as did Italy. In the case of Ireland this exacerbated poverty and contributed to emigration. Ireland now has the second highest GDP in the European Union. As for growth we are still called the "Celtic Tiger". While the German economy could be performing much better, Germany is still a very rich country, in fact it is the second highest exporter in the world. Joining the EU led to an economic revival in Portugal, Ireland and Spain. The new accession states will see the same economic growth. The point I am making is not that one country is necessarily better than another or that Europe is better than the US in every respect, merely that although European countries generally have a social democratic outlook and a welfare state system the sky is not falling. Scare-mongering about how "left-wing" policies will supposedly destroy the US are baseless and reflect only views held through a flim of partisanship. Such fears are not borne out by the facts. If you like your country the way it is then fine, but don't dismiss other systems for political reasons.

 
At 2:27 PM, Anonymous Reynolds said...

Is that what it comes down to "cheap fares" and "to be able to see new places"? I guess my comments about being a productive person in a productive society are lost on you. From your comments you seem to only want to have fun on your country's dole (read: fellow citizen's taxes).

No I do not include Ireland with the Brits.

You are not under attack, nor likely to be in the near future, precisely because the good ol' USA is protecting you. And by the way we don't need the protection of Europe to justify our military or military spending. We have our own security and safety to justify that. As to the "geo-strategic imperative of the current US administration is to reposition forces in the middle east in resource rich areas with oil and gas" - if you are implying that we went to war in Afganistan or Iraq because we want oil, I think you are sorely mistaken, as militarily we are in control of that country why wouldn't we be paying $1.00 a gallon for gas by now here in the US.

 
At 2:52 PM, Blogger Justine said...

"...if you are implying that we went to war in Afganistan or Iraq because we want oil, I think you are sorely mistaken, as militarily we are in control of that country why wouldn't we be paying $1.00 a gallon for gas by now here in the US."

In response to the above, you are paying higher prices for gas but the war was not intended to benefit you (the ordinary American), nor does the current administration care much for your economy (your deficit is owned in part by China and Saudi Arabia - this will of course constrain future foreign policy). This does not bother your current leaders overmuch, but it probably should bother you.

"You are not under attack, nor likely to be in the near future, precisely because the good ol' USA is protecting you", nope, wrong again. The good 'ole USA has little to do with it. Nobody wants to go to war with us.

As for the protection of Europe by the US, the US is to be greatly admired and thanked for past generosity. I must add however, that even in WWII and WWI the US defended other Euopean powers when its' own interests were threatened, the US gained financially (war is always a business for some). It also entered each war towards the end. WWI lasted from 1914-1918 - the US entered in December 1917. WWII lasted from 1939-1945, the US entered after Pearl Harbour in 1941. This is not to denigrate the enormous sacrifices of the American troops who died and were wounded in both wars, but merely to demonstrate that the US, like every other country, acts first in self-interest. Therefore, the US is not protecting us (Europe), but rather furthering it's only military and strategic interests. It would be a very grave mistake to assume that a military policy of one country (and massive expenditure) was intended merely to benefit another.

I relation to the above comments on WWII and WWI I must reiterate again that the self-interest remarks are directed at leaders and political/economic elites within the US at that time, and not at ordinary American citizens who fought and died like many others in those wars for noble and heroic reasons.

I do not live on the dole nor do I intend to (I have never received any dole payments). I am in favour of the dole however as I do not wish the chilren of economically disadvantaged people to suffer dire poverty. Keeping people from the worst of poverty allows for social mobility, they have the security to go from merely surviving to moving up the ladder.

I am a barrister and have high earnings. I am happy to pay my taxes, to me it is both a civic and moral duty. It's been a pleasure debating with you. I have to get back to work. I'll return to this site later tonight to see any responses.

 
At 3:22 PM, Blogger Neal Phenes said...

We also have to work so we will leave this discussion for another time. Thanks for your thoughts. You really did appear French to me but you final post convinced me otherwise. Bon jour!

 
At 3:30 PM, Blogger Justine said...

There's nothing wrong with the French. I hope you were not suggesting that there is anything wrong with being French. I love France but yes I am Irish.

 
At 4:07 PM, Anonymous Reynolds said...

adieu and au revoir bon ami!

Liberty, fraternity! ...and above all capitalism and American military might!

 
At 4:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

------------------------------
"The only time France wants us to go to war is when the German Army is sitting in Paris sipping coffee." --Regis Philbin
------------------------------
"The French are a smallish, monkey-looking bunch and not dressed any better, on average, than the citizens of Baltimore . True, you can sit outside in Paris and drink little cups of coffee, but why this is more stylish than sitting inside and drinking large glasses of whisky I don't know." --P.J. O'Rourke (1989)
------------------------------
"You know, the French remind me a little bit of an aging actress of the 1940s who was still trying to dine out on her looks but doesn't have the face for it."
-- John McCain , U.S. Senator from Arizona

 
At 4:44 PM, Blogger Justine said...

In response to the quote "The only time France wants us to go to war is when the German Army is sitting in Paris sipping coffee".

I would like to add, Is this at all surprising. In World War I France lost an estimated 1,415,800 and had an estimated 4,266,000 wounded. Not to mention the destruction of towns and villages and the psychological toll from which many in the "lost generation never recovered". Indeed, the population of France took a long time to recover from the Great War. Farmers in the Verdun/Somme areas still find human skeletons when they plough their land.

In WWII many French towns were destroyed. France lost some 562,000 people. German bunkers can still be found on the Normandy beaches. French pacifism is not at all surprising.

In response to "The French are a smallish, monkey-looking bunch and not dressed any better, on average, than the citizens of Baltimore . True, you can sit outside in Paris and drink little cups of coffee, but why this is more stylish than sitting inside and drinking large glasses of whisky I don't know." Hmm, I dunno, why does it bother you that they like to drink coffee in Paris cafes?

As for the French being a "monkey-looking bunch" go there and see for yourself. As for the part of the quote which refers to fashion sense - Paris is one of the world's fashion capitals, like New York, London and Milan. Make what you will of that.

Finally, for the John McCain quote. While it may have been popular at the time in some circles to bash the French, it was hardly rationale. Yes, they didn't want a part in your war in Iraq but then they were hardly unusual in that regard. The "Coalition of the Willing" was really the coalition of the bribed and intimidated. Millions marched in London, and all over Europe in protest (yes, we're all pacifists). Tony Blair ruined his political legacy and has ended both his career and popularity. The Labour Party constantly debates who to replace him with and the public don't trust him. Labour lost many, many seats in parliament and there have been (and will continue to be) substantial electoral gains for the Tories and the Liberal Democrats.

To quote Oscar Wilde "When good Americans die they go to Paris"...what happens to bad Americans? "Oh, they go back to America."

America's love/hate fascination with France is a product of cultural envy and resentment at perceived superiority. France was the fashion capital of the western world in Oscar Wilde's time, and of the all "civilised" upper classes spoke French fluently. Now America is a global superpower and cultural capital of sorts and all the world speaks English (England's empire had a similar effect). American cultural insecurity about "old Europe" or Europe generally (represented in long history, artistic, musical and architectural treasure etc) currently manifests in a fear and loathing of all things French. It has more to do with American perspectives on the matter than the opinions of actual French people who of course watch American movies in droves and tolerate a MacDonalds on the Champs Elysee.

 
At 4:47 PM, Blogger Justine said...

Not to mention the many fans of blues and jazz music (my favourite) or of other American musical styles in Europe.

 
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