Archive for ‘Europe’

March 15, 2009

Eutopia. Eusocial. Europe.

by Smitty

Ross, I love you nearly as much as I love your ivory tower. Let’s have some fun with The Case For Small Government:

At bottom, I think the argument suffers from a problem that’s common to both sides in the debates over the desirability of European-style social democracy – namely, the hope that what’s ultimately a philosophical and moral controversy can have a tidy empirical resolution.

Is the Decline and Fall of Europe insufficient for you? Are shenanigans like the Treaty of Lisbon not a good enough indicator? Do you read The Brussels Journal? My wife is German. Maybe I am too lost in anecdotal evidence that the likelihood of success of “European-style social democracy” in the US has been captured here: It Won’t Work. Uless you’re eusocial.

In both cases, there’s an unwarranted hope that the right facts and figures can settle a debate that ultimately depends on the philosophical assumptions that you bring to it.

Hogwash. Facts matter. As does history. If the foundation of your eutopian la-la land rests upon demonstrably bogus assertions about your demographics, WTF good is it? Unless you’re taking a foppish deconstructionist route, that is. Then you can just “feel” something.

I would just deny that they can come close to settling, in any meaningful sense, the debate over how big the American welfare state should be overall, and whether we should copy Western Europe or disdain it.

And why should you? Recall, These United States are still 50 in number. If you have any sort of bully pulpit from your lofty heights, you should argue the Constitution, and the right of states to be as “Massachusetts” as they wanna be, without taking the whole country down roads that historically lead to swamps.

That’s because both the American and the European models of government are successful in purely practical terms, to the extent that purely practical terms exist – which is to say, both models have provided, over an extended period of time, levels of prosperity and stability unparalleled in human history.

PAX ROMANA, anyone? Or are you taking the condescending view that history began in 1636, with the founding of Hah-vuhd?

(Yes, the stresses that Islamic immigration and demographic decline are imposing on Europe are real and serious – but I think it’s too soon to say, with Murray and many on the Right, that “the European model can’t continue to work much longer,” full stop. The end of history may be more resilient than we think!)

Don’t look at reality too long, buddy: someone might steal your lenses. No, you’re right: Geert’s just paranoid and stuff.

And as long as this remains the case, where you come out on the debates over whether we should prefer the continent’s sturdier safety nets to America’s lower unemployment and higher growth rates (or the continent’s more equible provision of health care to America’s lead in health-care innovation, or what-have-you) will ultimately boil down to values as much as it will to what the numbers say.

Back to my European in-laws: that “sturdier safety net” has little empirical meaning. Then again, I’m only talking to a small sample, so you could be right. Not that I seriously think so, just that sounding too certain is rather tacky. Oh, and the wife works in pharma, and is unenthusiastic about the “lead in health-care innovation” you’re touting here. I wouldn’t play a straight libertarian hand, but I would say “less is more” when it comes to regulation. Each new law is another bandage on the patient. Governments rarely, if ever, cut away any of the old stuff. Result: mummy. But we’ll just have to crash the system and then see what you dreamers can do to continue blaming Bush rather than analyze anything.

How much do you prize equality and ease of life? The more you do, the more you’ll favor a European approach to the relationship between state and society. How much do you prize voluntarism, entrepreneurship, and the value of lives oriented around service to one’s family, and to God?

Oh, step up to the plate and just admit it: in Socialism, the state is God. At some point, however, even the biggest Einstein must tire of the failures of idolizing the state.

Eutopia. Eusocial. Europe. You go, dude. There.

July 26, 2008

Video of the Year?

On “Hannity & Colmes,” Gerard Baker does a dramatic reading of his Times of London column about Obama’s foreign trip, “He Ventured Forth to Bring Light to the World”:

July 21, 2008

Obama’s European shark jump

From my latest American Spectator column:

Team Obama’s difficulty in finding a suitable site for his Berlin speech is unlikely to get much attention from the TV news anchors traveling with the candidate this week. Yet it highlights the fundamental problem of Obama overseas excursion: It is a purely symbolic gesture from a campaign that increasingly seems more interested in symbols than substance.

Please read the whole thing. Meanwhile, Obama’s already put his foot in his mouth once, telling CBS he expects to be president for “eight to 10 years”:

Link: (Via Hot Air.) ABC’s Jake Tapper observes:

The notion that Obama will be dealing with world leaders for eight-to-ten years, possibly up through July 2018, suggests that either (a) he believes that not only will he be elected and re-elected, but the 22nd amendment will be repealed and he will be elected for a third term, OR (b) he was speaking casually and just meant two terms. . . .
This week Obama will have his words picked apart like never before, and it will be an international audience of not just opponents but actual enemies.

Watch out for that shark, Fonz!

UPDATE: A German correspondent notices that Team Obama is trying to keep European reporters away from the candidate, prompting the Big Johnson to muse:

[H]is staff is desperately worried that the candidate will make a gaffe, as soon as he ventures into uncharted territory. Foreign reporters tend to ask questions about … you know … foreign stuff.

Obama facing tough questions? Unthinkable.

July 20, 2008

Obama’s symbolic problem

Barack Obama’s foreign trip is, as multiple press accounts affirm, “aimed at bolstering his foreign policy credentials” (CNN) and “an effort to look presidential on the world stage” (Chicago Tribune). In other words, a symbolic gesture — and it might help Team Obama to choose their symbols wisely:

Barack Obama, when he arrives in Berlin on July 24, will hold his speech at the Siegessäule monument in the heart of the city. . . .
The Siegessäule — or Victory Column — was erected in memory of Prussia’s victories over Denmark (1864), Austria (1866) and France (1870/71). The column originally stood in front of the Reichstag, Germany’s parliament building, but was moved by Adolf Hitler to its current location in 1939 to make way for his planned transformation of Berlin into the Nazi capital “Germania.”
“The Siegessäule in Berlin was moved to where it is now by Adolf Hitler. He saw it as a symbol of German superiority and of the victorious wars against Denmark, Austria and France,” the deputy leader of the Free Democrats, Rainer Brüderle, told Bild am Sonntag. He raised the question as to “whether Barack Obama was advised correctly in his choice of the Siegessäule as the site to hold a speech on his vision for a more cooperative world.”
Andreas Schockenhoff of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats said, “the Siegessäule in Berlin is dedicated to a victory over neighbors who are today our European friends and allies. It is a problematic symbol.”

(Via Hot Air.) Congratulations on your tasteful gesture, Team Obama. Welcome to your Dukakis tank ride. Obama-Eagleton ’08!

UPDATE: Discerning Texan at Astute Bloggers:

I cynically commented the other day that the only thing missing from Obama’s German “rally” was Albert Speer; now I’m not so sure I wasn’t actually on to something…

Directed by Leni Riefenstahl?