Europe beginning to realize the problem with socialism

I often bash the NY Times for being a state-run media outlet but every once in a while they publish something worthwhile. This is an excellent piece on how Europeans are beginning to see the problem with socialism. While the article doesn’t specifically mention the term “socialism,” it draws the proper distinctions between European big spending statism and the “harshness” of American capitalism.

Across Western Europe, the “lifestyle superpower,” the assumptions and gains of a lifetime are suddenly in doubt. The deficit crisis that threatens the euro has also undermined the sustainability of the European standard of social welfare, built by left-leaning governments since the end of World War II.

Europeans have boasted about their social model, with its generous vacations and early retirements, its national health care systems and extensive welfare benefits, contrasting it with the comparative harshness of American capitalism.

Europeans have benefited from low military spending, protected by NATO and the American nuclear umbrella. They have also translated higher taxes into a cradle-to-grave safety net. “The Europe that protects” is a slogan of the European Union.

But all over Europe governments with big budgets, falling tax revenues and aging populations are experiencing rising deficits, with more bad news ahead.

With low growth, low birthrates and longer life expectancies, Europe can no longer afford its comfortable lifestyle, at least not without a period of austerity and significant changes. The countries are trying to reassure investors by cutting salaries, raising legal retirement ages, increasing work hours and reducing health benefits and pensions.

The article points out that many European countries are beginning to look at serious reform and they understand that it won’t be easy. The bigger question is whether real economy-saving reform will be enacted – before it’s too late.

The question for America should be this: If we are seeing Europe go down in flames, why is our government still hell bent on taking us down the same path?

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