Europe: the Democrats' vison for America

I've posted recently about the economic disaster that is continental Western Europe. An obvious point, but not one raised often enough, is that Europe is a model for where the Democrats would like to take America. The policies in place in Europe are exactly the policies advocated by the American left. Europe provides a good laboratory so we can see what the policies do without having to try them ourselves.

AJ Strata gives us a peek at David Brooks' subscription-only column* (this is legitimate "Fair Use," so don't hassle me!) on the topic.

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.…..

But it is not the absolute standard of living that determines a people’s morale, but the momentum. It is happier to live in a poor country that is moving forward - where expectations are high - than it is to live in an affluent country that is looking back.

Right now, Europeans seem to look to the future with more fear than hope. . As Anatole Kaletsky noted in The Times of London, in continental Europe “unemployment has been stuck between 8 and 11 percent since 1991 and growth has reached 3 percent only once in those 14 years.”

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.

There is little prospect of robust growth returning any time soon.

…..Europe’s population is aging and shrinking. By 2040, the European median age will be around 50. Nearly a third of the population will be over 65. Public spending on retirees will have to grow by a third, sending Europe into a vicious spiral of higher taxes and less growth.

*CORRECTION: The Brooks column is not subscription-only; it's here. Free for first 7 days after publication, I believe.

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