Western academics are extremely romantic and naive about the European welfare state. They constantly invoke it as the prime example of "social justice" in the world today. They think a culture in the midst of committing demographic suicide is a model to be emulated.
My question is: "why would anyone want to imitate Europe?" Europe is a dithering, sick, old man and more like the Ottoman Empire at the end of the 19th century than like the dynamic engine of enterprise and scientific advance it was at the end of the 18th century.
Victor Davis Hanson, at Real Clear Politics, invites us to give our heads a shake and see Europe for what it really is:
The European Union, like the 19th-century Congress of Vienna, can point to one achievement -- a general absence of war in Western Europe for more than 60 years. Otherwise, almost all its socialist promises of an equality of result are imploding before their eyes.
The higher taxes go, the more people cheat on them, the less revenue comes in. There are sometimes two prices in Italy (and often elsewhere in Europe) -- the official price that includes a high value-added tax that the unwary pay, and the negotiated, under-the-table, tax-free discount that the haggling shopper obtains.
Europe is essentially defenseless, as governments further trim defense budgets to keep shrinking spread-the-wealth entitlements alive. The French and British -- the continent's two premier military powers -- have been trying for nearly three months to defeat Muammar Gadhafi's ragtag nation of less than 7 million, itself rent by civil war. The ancestors (sic) of Wellington and Napoleon so far seem no match for Gadhafi or the Taliban. Both nations will soon be leaving Afghanistan in frustration.
Subsidized wind and solar power have not led to much of an increase in European electricity supplies, but they helped to make power bills soar. Highly taxed gas runs about $10 a gallon, ensuring tiny cars and dependence on mass transit. Central planners love the resulting state-subsidized, high-density European apartment living without garages, back yards or third bedrooms. Yet the recent Japanese tsunami and accompanying nuclear contamination have reminded European governments that their similarly fragile models of highly urbanized, highly concentrated living make them equally vulnerable to such disasters.
Popular culture may praise the use of the subway and train. But about every minute or two, some government grandee in a motorized entourage rushes through traffic as an escort of horn-blaring police forces traffic off to the side. A European technocratic class in limousines that runs government bureaus and international organizations -- for example, disgraced former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn -- lives like 18th-century aristocrats at Versailles as they mouth socialist platitudes.
Read it all here.
How about maybe waiting a decade or so and watching to see if there still is a Euro before jumping on the European bandwagon? My bet is that that will sound like a good idea to the majority of Americans on voting day in November 2012.