Europe Misunderstands

As I write this, election day is beginning, and the Spiegel Online International article on which I’m commenting has already been published (the day prior, in fact).  Nevertheless, this is the European mindset with which we must deal.

The article begins with a number of valid points—our decaying infrastructure, our decaying educational system, our decaying economy.  But then it proceeds to lay display that broad misunderstanding of America and of the factors involved in this decay.  I’ll only describe a few; RTWT.

The hatred of big government has reached a level in the United States that threatens the country’s very existence. Americans everywhere may vow allegiance to the nation and its proud Stars and Stripes, but when it comes time to pay the bills and distribute costs, and when solidarity is needed, all sense of community evaporates.

No, small and limited government are at the center of our founding ideals—which are as valid today, if lost to too much of our national consciousness and conscience, as they were at our founding.  It is today’s big government that lies near the center of our straits.  It redistributes wealth without regard to validity of the redistribution and without regard to the will of its bosses, the Sovereign people.  Indeed, out government, from its size, has ceased to be responsible to us; it has become nearly impossible to control at all.

Moreover, that big government and that dependency on it for “welfare” is destroying the “sense of community” that Speigel so plainly misunderstands.  That community is purely local, neighbors and friends helping neighbors and friends.  Private charities and churches helping locally.  There is no community in redistributing Texas’ citizens’ wealth to bankrupt and spendthrift California.  There is no community in redistributing bankrupt New York’s wealth, such as it is, to bankrupt Illinois.  There is no community in redistributing such wealth as California, New York, or Illinois have to Texas, or to Georgia, or to South Carolina.  Yet this is what the Big Government social welfare programs do.

The country has forgotten the days when former President Franklin D. Roosevelt courageously told his fellow Americans that a collectively supported social welfare system didn’t translate into socialism but freedom, a “New Deal” that would strengthen America in the long term.

In fact, we’re living out the failure of FDR’s attempt at even his small form of socialism.  Social Security, with its add-on Medicare, are abject failures, wholly bankrupt.  These were borne of a premise that it was appropriate to take the hard-earned wages of a New Yorker and redistribute them to a current retiree in California—or Texas.  Even were the concept of such a mandate valid, the redistribution aspect prevents that New Yorker—and that Californian and Texan—from putting that confiscated money by for his own future retirement, or his own family’s current or future needs.

Underlying these failures, also, are demographics, of which FDR’s minions surely were aware.  Today’s retiree lives some three times longer in retirement than did FDR’s retiree, and he is supported by only 2-3 workers today against nearly 7 for FDR.  Now it’s true that FDR and his staff could not have predicted the hard numbers that would be realized in only four generations, but they certainly were aware that the demographics would not be static, that the demographics would evolve.

Here is the crux of Europe’s lack of understanding.

Naturally, an opposition party’s role must be to fight the government’s policies.

The United States is not Europe.  This may be the role of an “opposition party” there, but in the end, there are no opposition parties in our government.  There are parties that oppose each other, to be sure, but their role is not defined by who is in power and so who must, knee-jerk, oppose simply because of who is not in power, but by the ideals and principles for which each party stands.  And by the moral requirement of each legislator to represent his constituency—who are his boss.

Some details also illustrate Europe’s lack of understanding.

Instead, the more Obama sought to accommodate the Republicans, the more extreme their positions and the more hysterical their criticism became, eliminating any prospect of compromise. The three most important pieces of legislation Obama pushed through Congress since his inauguration in January 2009 were achieved with the votes of his fellow Democrats, even though they incorporated key Republican demands.

Obama opened the discussion by admonishing House Minority Leader (at the time) Eric Cantor (R, VA), when the latter demurred from Obamacare prior to its passage, “Eric, I won [the election].”  At a later summit concerning that same package, Obama repeated his jibe to Senator John McCain (R, AZ).

Obama’s biggest economic stimulus package, which provided for government investments of $787 billion, contained substantial tax cuts that the Republicans had demanded and to which the Democrats were in fact opposed, and yet only three Republicans in the Senate and none in the House of Representatives voted for the legislation. All Republicans in both houses of Congress rejected the healthcare reform that will be viewed as a historic achievement one day. And the financial reform legislation, which turned out to be far more moderate than the Democrats had hoped, received the votes of only three Republicans in each house of Congress.

Carefully elided here is the fact that the “stimulus” package also contained ruinous spending.  This was included even after the empirical evidence that Keynesian stimulus spending not wasn’t necessary, it was destructive rather than constructive.  One has only to review the economic responses to the Depression of the 1920-1921, in which the government did little, and the Great Depression of 1930-1942 in which the government did much.  FDR’s own Treasury Secretary ultimately realized the folly, but he lacked the courage to say so out loud, confining his lament to his diary:

We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work.  I want to see this country prosper.  I want to see people get a job.  I want to see people get enough to eat.  We have never made good on our promises.  I say after eight years of this administration, we have just as much unemployment as when we started.  And enormous debt to boot.

Obamacare wasn’t just passed over Republican opposition, it was passed against the explicit instructions of Congress’ and Obama’s bosses in the American system of governance—the American people.  It remains opposed today by the Sovereign.  The financial “reform” legislation has hindered business with an explosion of regulation, and it has created a small board of bureaucrats that will determine the flow of money in the private sector on no other say-so than their own.  Worse, its budget is unlimited; not even the people’s elected representatives—that Congress—can control its funding.

Many bills were never even put to a vote in Congress, because the Republicans, more frequently than ever before, threatened to use or did in fact deploy the so-called filibuster….

Carefully elided here, too, are the 30+ House-passed jobs-related bills and two budgets that the Democrats in the Senate refused even to be discussed, much less be brought to the floor for a vote.

But this is the environment in which our newly elected government must operate in its dealings with the Old World.

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