Friday, June 03, 2005

Western Europe is slowly discrediting American liberalism :: David Brooks

Forgive me for making a blunt and obvious point, but events in Western Europe are slowly discrediting large swaths of American liberalism.

Most of the policy ideas advocated by American liberals have already been enacted in Europe: generous welfare measures, ample labor protections, highly progressive tax rates, single-payer health care systems, zoning restrictions to limit big retailers, and cradle-to-grave middle-class subsidies supporting everything from child care to pension security. And yet far from thriving, continental Europe has endured a lost decade of relative decline.
The Western European standard of living is about a third lower than the American standard of living, and it's sliding. European output per capita is less than that of 46 of the 50 American states and about on par with Arkansas.
American liberals have lauded the German model or the Swedish model or the European model. But these models are not flexible enough for the modern world. They encourage people to cling fiercely to entitlements their nation cannot afford. And far from breeding a confident, progressive outlook, they breed a reactionary fear of the future that comes in left- and right-wing varieties - a defensiveness, a tendency to lash out ferociously at anybody who proposes fundamental reform or at any group, like immigrants, that alters the fabric of life.
Emphasis added.

So who are the neo-conservatives now?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brooks' claims that the standard of living in Europe is significantly less than the U.S. is based on measures that ignore the significant services European governments provide. When you include the burdens most American families bear - the costs of college and health care most prominently - the average standard of living of Americans equals or falls far below that of Europeans. You, too, have fallen into that short-sighted trap.

4:38 PM  
Blogger John B. Chilton said...

Let's see. Brooks acknowledges all these things. None of these things grows on trees; taxes pay for them. All countries are being compared by Brooks based on GDP per capita.

Perhaps what you want to say is that after the US taxpayers have paid the costs of defending the free world they are left with less than Europeans. But I don't even think that's true, even though the US has borne the cost of defending Western Europe since WWII.

I'll enjoy my vacation in Europe this summer. Europe is an attractive place to visit and to live. But you chose not to address the points that people that are willing to work hard go farther in the US than in Europe. Or that the US has a more open attitude toward immigrants than Western Europe.

11:37 PM  

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