Unfortunately there’s a great deal of evidence suggesting America is slouching down the path to Western Europe. In practical terms, that means social-democratic economic policies: the same policies that have turned many Western European nations into a byword for persistently high unemployment, rigid labor markets, low-to-zero economic growth, out-of-control debt and welfare states, absurdly high tax levels, growing numbers of well-paid government workers, a near-obsession with economic equality at any cost and, above all, a stubborn refusal to accept that things simply can’t go on like this.
It’s very hard to deny similar trends are becoming part of America’s economic landscape. States like California are already there — just ask the thousands of Californians and businesses who have fled the land of Nancy Pelosi.
Europeanization is also reflected in the refusal of so many Americans to take our nation’s debt crisis seriously. Likewise, virtually every index of economic freedom and competitiveness shows that, like most Western European nations, America’s position vis-à-vis other countries is in decline.
Is there a way out, even as the “fiscal cliff” negotiations vividly illustrate the inability of Washington’s political elites to take spending and tax problems seriously? Gregg holds out hope:
First, there remain many ways in which America has not succumbed to eurosclerosis. Risk-taking and entrepreneurship-levels remain, for example, much higher than in Europe. America’s labor markets also remain more flexible than those of Europe (despite American unions’ best efforts to the contrary).
Second, the problems of nations like Greece, Italy, Spain, Britain and France are functioning as a type of early-warning system. They’re enough of a “canary in the coal mine” to help us make the right decisions and get back to the principles that made the United States an economic superpower.
And this is the choice which increasingly faces America. We can either continue our long march towards a form of social democracy presided over by an all-pervasive European-like political class and associated insider-groups; or, we can embrace a dynamic market economy that takes liberty seriously and understands that government intervention in the economy must and can be limited.
Read “Becoming Europe” by Samuel Gregg in the New York Post.
Gregg’s new book, Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and How America Can Avoid a European Future (Encounter Books, January 2013) is now available for pre-order.