Sunday, March 15, 2009

Are Americans from Mars and Europeans from Venus?

I may disagree with them on many points, even on their basic political-economical pro-free trade/globalisation phislosophy but at least The Economist offers very well-informed news, sharp arguments, and consistancy, and that's why I read it.

This week, they tackled the arguments of many right-wing thinkers in America that the Obama's policy is turning the U.S. into Europe (read "freedom-killer socialists").
Roger Cohen, a liberal New York Times columnist, worries that “one France is enough”. Kenneth Rogoff, a Harvard economist, says “I take the 2008 US elections as marking a turn toward continental Europe.” Six years after Robert Kagan claimed that “Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus”, there is a growing feeling that the two planets are destined to merge.

Because their editorial is (really) fair and balance they disproved that right-wing argument that you hear these days.

There is nothing particularly “European” or “socialist” about Mr Obama’s stimulus package. Countries the world over are spending public money in a bid to boost demand and shore up the banks. Indeed, some of the most stubborn resistance to deficit financing has come from Europe, particularly from
Germany and the EU finance ministers. Messrs Gingrich and Romney might note that the man who set this ball rolling was not Mr Obama but Mr Bush, the most
un-European politician imaginable.

What about Mr Obama’s plans to raise taxes and redirect policy? There are plenty of plausible criticisms of these (such as the fact that his numbers do not add up), but the idea that they entail “full-scale Europeanisation”, as Mark Steyn, a columnist, argues, is one of the least persuasive. Mr Obama’s budget will return the top tax rates to 36% and 39.6%—back to where they were during Bill Clinton’s administration.
I would ad that whenever right-wing conservatices use this argument (that the US is becoming dangerously European), ask they what they mean exactly, ask for specific examples , and ask what they know about Europe, and you'll soon find out about their abyssimal cluelessness of European politics and economics.
Just for the beauty of it and because I think the last part of the article reflects in the best possible way the vision of this blog, here's the end of it:
The fury about “European socialism” is not just wrong as a matter of fact. It is foolish as a matter of policy. Europe has plenty of things to teach the United States (particularly about running a welfare state), just as America has plenty to teach Europe (particularly about igniting entrepreneurialism). Indeed, a more telling criticism of the Obama administration is not that it is borrowing too much from Europe but that it is learning too little.


Europeans and Americans are never likely to coalesce: their cultural traditions are too strong and their solutions to the problem of regulating capitalism too distinctive. But they nevertheless have plenty in common—ageing populations, exploding entitlements and above all, at the moment, a wrenching recession. Europeans have thankfully toned down the America-bashing that was popular a few years ago. Americans might consider returning the compliment.


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