Corzine’s Agenda A Prescription For Disaster
American liberals or progressives, as they like to refer themselves now, advocate for polices and programs that have long since been implemented in Western Europe. Jon Corzine’s agenda in the U.S. Senate and the platform he’s adopted in his run for Governor of New Jersey reads as though it has been lifted from any of the failing European states.
The mystery is why anyone would propose ideas that have been proven to be counterproductive, unsustainable and thoroughly discredited. From today’s New York Times:
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.
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.
The core fact is that the European model is foundering under the fact that billions of people are willing to work harder than the Europeans are. Europeans clearly love their way of life, but don't know how to sustain it.
Over the last few decades, 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 --a defensiveness, a tendency to lash out ferociously at anybody who proposes fundamental reform ..
This is the chief problem with the welfare state, which has nothing to do with the success or efficiency of any individual program. The liberal project of the postwar era has bred a stultifying conservatism, a fear of dynamic flexibility, a greater concern for guarding what exists than for creating what doesn't.
That's a truth that applies just as much on this side of the pond.