My friend Dan Henninger has a great idea. While Barack Obama does everything he can to make the United States more like Europe, Republicans ought to make it clear to the public that they represent the “We’re-Not-Europe” party.
We’re not Europe. That means (for example):
- We don’t think that all wealth really belongs to the government, which may (or then again may not) let us have a little for our own prerogative from time to time.
- We don’t believe that taxes should be as high as possible, and then a little bit higher.
- We don’t rely on another country to provide (and pay for) our defense for decades on end and then entertain ourselves bad-mouthing that country for being a nasty, hegemonic power.
- We don’t think individual initiative and hard work are atavistic urges that should wither and die when the socialist paradise takes root.
- We don’t think that “the government knows best” is a good motto for a healthy society.
We’re not Europe. Or are we? If B. Obama gets his way, the U.S. will continue down the road of economic profligacy, increasing state control, anemic national defense, and an ever deepening habit of dependency.
Here’s the irony: even as Barack Obama hastens to cement our embrace of socialism, there are many in Europe who seem tempted to join the We’re Not Europe Party. “Europe,” Angela Merkel acknowledged, is in a “very, very serious situation.” The continent’s form of Monopoly money, the euro, is in free-fall. Last week, Nicolas Sarkozy threatened to pull France out of the euro all together. He’d better hurry: the word on the street, as one market analyst put it, is that “the euro is doomed.”
Actually, I’ve thought that ever since the make-believe currency came on line in 2002. How can you have a single currency for different sovereign nations? For an economic powerhouse like Germany and a lazy backwater like Greece?
You can’t. Well, you can try. But then you wind up where we are now: crisis-time (which also means panic-time) all around. Here’s a question: what if, after having scraped together $1 trillion in loan guarantees for the Glory That Was Greece, Europe discovers that Greece was only the tip of the iceberg? What then? Where is the second trillion going to come from?
Not, I hasten to add, that this is a question that will be raised only in Europe. It is a question that is, or should be, on the minds of all those great men and women in Washington who are, even as I write, spending your money faster than you can say “economic Armageddon.” What happens when the bill comes due in California, for example, where a bloated public sector threatens to catapult the state into bankruptcy. (Not, I also hasten to add, that California is unique: think, if you can bear it, about Illinois, which enjoys a budget gap of 47% in 2010.)
Where would the dough for a second bailout-stimulus-package-cash-for-clunkers-Greece-or-Portugal-or-Spain come from? Take your time.
What, when you come right down to it, is the problem? Flip to the index and look up: “Entitlement, culture of.” It made Europe a basket case, but they at least had the excuse of having a very rich Uncle Sam that, since 1945, has been looking after them—and looking the other way through all their little tiffs and tantrums.
The United States, alas, has to take care of itself. It does not enjoy the protection of another, grander power. There is no America for America except itself. It’s lonely at the top. Left-liberal politicians and public sector unions exploit that loneliness by assuring their charges that they, too, can remain children forever. “O Solon, Solon,” Plato observed in the Timaeus, “you Greeks are always children.” And let’s not forget the French, Spanish, Italians, and Portuguese. They want a 30-hour work week, retirement at 52, cradle-to-grave welfare, lavish pensions, six-week paid holiday, and freedom from the obligations of parenthood. Result: a large, a very large bill and fewer and fewer people to pay for it.
At the end of the day, this is what the tea partiers are brewing: a new cup that refreshes but does not intoxicate. The “We’re-Not-Europe” party. Also known as the party of adulthood. Join it.