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An Entrepreneurial or European Worldview? American Philosophy at the Crossroads

Europe may not have a high-tech industry worth of importation into the US, but over the last 125 years or so, its elites sure could crank out socialist memes which found their way here in bulk. In the Closing of the American Mind a quarter century ago, Allan Bloom discussed how America intellectual elites spent the entirety of the 20th century importing a European worldview, particularly via our college campuses. And that trend seemed to accelerate exponentially in the last decade. Or as Jonah Goldberg wrote in 2005:

According to the Pew Center, the less you like to fly the American flag, the more likely it is you are Democrat. The more you think hard work and personal initiative aren’t the ticket to the good life, the more likely you are to be a Democrat. The more you believe the United Nations is a better steward of international relations, while America is a negative actor on the world stage, the more likely you are to be a Democrat. The more you believe that the government is there to help, the more likely it is you are Democrat. The less seriously you take religion, the more likely you are to be a Democrat. Flip all of these values around and the more likely it is you are a Republican — or that you vote that way.

Of course, I’m speaking in terms of statistical generalities. Obviously, there are a great many flag-waving, God-fearing, government-mistrusting, U.N.-hating Democrats out there. But they are the exceptions to the rule.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this study is what it says about class and ideology in America. And what it says is that they don’t have that much to do with each other, which runs contrary to generations of leftish stereotypes. Poor Americans who believe in the American ideal of by-your-bootstraps success are likely to vote Republican. And rich Americans who cringe at the idea of hanging a flag from their porch vote Democrat. Wealth has become a poor predictor of political affiliation. The richest blocs in the GOP and Democratic parties — Pew calls them “Enterprisers” and “Liberals” — are roughly equally affluent. Forty-one percent of both groups make more than $75,000 per year (though there are nearly twice as many “Liberals” as there are “Enterprisers”). The largest segment of the Republican base — “Social Conservatives” — make less than Liberals.

So what does all of this have to do with body-snatching Europhiles? Well, basically, everything. The ideas, assumptions and prejudices held by the statistically typical Democratic voter, according to the Pew study, are quite simply, European. Europeans believe in a strong social welfare state, for rich and poor alike. Europeans are cynical. They look askance — these days — on patriotic sentiment (hence the rush to form a new European nation). The church pews of Europe would make a great hideout for bank robbers since they’re always empty. The United Nations is, in the typical European’s worldview, the last best hope for mankind. From the death penalty to gay marriage, the more similar you are to a typical European in your political and social outlook, the more likely you are to be a Democrat.

So, how's that working out for the students on the receiving end of all that imported intellectual wisdom? Perhaps this headline at the liberal Huffington Post Website this weekend answers that: "America's Youth Unemployment Rate Is One Of The Worst Of Wealthy, Large Economies":

In the constant race to be the best America is falling behind other large, wealthy nations in at least one major category: Employing the nation’s youth.

In 2000, the United States had the lowest unemployment rate for 25- to 34-year-olds among countries with large, wealthy economies. By 2011, America had one of the highest youth unemployment rates compared to its peers, according to a New York Times op-ed by David Leonhardt, the paper’s Washington bureau chief.

How did the table’s turn on America’s youth? As unemployment soared during the Great Recession, young people -- with and without college degrees -- were forced to compete with more experienced candidates suddenly out of a job for very few openings. The result: Nearly half of the nation’s unemployed are under the age of 34, according to a report last month from public policy organization Demos.

Really, you mean can't over-regulate businesses, promise to bankrupt them, tax them into the ground, demonize them, punish success and expect them to crank out new jobs? Somebody should alert Occupy Wall Street and the president they support.

Glenn discounts the role of culture in his USA Today article, but I'd say it's a key part of America's entrepreneurial collapse. If America's regulatory environment is seeming more and more like Europe, as he wrote, it's because America's people are seeming more and more like Europeans.

Will that trend continue? Survey says...maybe.

Update: This Photoshop from last summer dovetails rather well with the above discussion, I think:

(Thumbnail image on PJM homepage by Shutterstock.com.)