After our recent bout of Titanic-mania we would do well to retain a few salient things about the legendary ship. It was huge; it was expensive; it was extremely impressive; and it was doomed nevertheless. It also wasn’t the only such thing launched toward us from Europe. The Titanic hit an iceberg and sank; so, too, has the European sociopolitical model (although much of the wreck is still floating).
Skeptics may scoff at this comparison, but the truth is that Europe has, indeed, hit a berg and is, indeed, sinking. Its grand experiment in magical thinking is taking longer to disappear than the ship did, but there can be no mistaking the fact that socialist societies — even the “socialist light” variety found in Western Europe — carry their own death warrants. They tend to smother the very economic productivity that they need more and more of to sustain their increasingly heavy-handed redistribution. The iron law is that the farther left they go, the faster they sink.
The North Atlantic is deep, but no deeper than the depths of European delusion. In France it’s looking like voters may well elect an out-and-out socialist (as opposed to a mere dirigiste, like Sarko) to the presidency. Does anyone, surveying the wreckage and the lifeboats now a-bob on the seas off Europe, actually believe that a hard left turn directly into the iceberg of socialism will save France at this juncture? If more leftism were the cure, the Soviet Union would be the world’s unchallenged superpower and Cuba the powerhouse of the Caribbean.
So what exactly would it take for Captain POTUS and his eager engine-room crew in the Democratic Party, academe, unions, and the media to realize that we’re on the same fatal course? They’ve been dreaming about bringing European-style “social democracy” to our shores for more than 40 years, yet the demise of that very model — European Central Bank president Mario Draghi himself said recently it was “already gone” — couldn’t be more obvious. The only thing that’s holding the whole battered hulk above water right now is gigantic infusions of buoyancy in the form of lighter-than-air money from the ECB. (Question: If paper money is in fact an IOU — as a U.S. dollar was once a “promissory note” for a specified amount of gold — then who exactly do you present your euros — or debauched dollars — to for a refund in the event they become worthless? Where do you go to get your value back? And if it’s not an IOU, what exactly is it?)
A helium currency is increasingly what we’re being paid in, too. Value? It now costs $12 to get back and forth across the George Washington Bridge. Untold thousands of cars do that every day, producing incredible revenues, yet the tab keeps rising every few years. Are costs rising or is the money shrinking or both? Whenever grim reality (a stock meltdown, a new rise in foreclosures or unemployment) raises its ugly head, the Fed obliges with a wink, an acceleration of the presses, a “twist,” a nod. Our intrepid Fed chief has said he’d “drop money from helicopters” if that’s what continued suspension of disbelief requires. And he was probably chosen for the job for precisely that reason, given that the outlines of this country’s looming fiscal berg (the boomers’ retirement) were clearly visible years ago. Right now, the Fed itself is the largest buyer of Uncle Sam’s debt. That’s right; one part of the government is supporting the rest with its magic printing press. How’s that for a “confidence builder”?
Reality for the Titanic was that it shouldn’t have been hurtling at high speed through an inky sea of icebergs; reality for us, as has been amply shown in Europe, is that the lack of productivity that is the hallmark of leftonomics eventually causes it to sink of its own weight. Through the International Monetary Fund and the Fed, we’re desperately trying to bail out Europe now; who’ll be there for us?
Still, the captain’s on the bridge, and he’s got a confident, almost cocky, grin on his face. His order to the sociopolitical engineers: “Full speed ahead!”