Sunday, September 7, 2008

America Can't Be Richer Than Europe If She Does The Same Things The Europeans Do

It should seem obvious but it apparently isn't. I heard Barack Obama on the radio this afternoon. He claimed that many Americans dislike government if they have a job but change their minds when they don't have one. But the more government the fewer jobs, and if the process continues long enough then you have a situation like England's where the bottom 20% have been self-excluded from the job market because welfare pays better, and the country hasn't been innovative in a long time.

I am in the middle of Walter Weyl's 1912 New Democracy and one of the evident fallacies in the book is his belief that America was wealthier than Europe because of natural resources and the frontier. That was untrue. Japan has no natural resources and no frontier, but it is much richer than Russia, which has both. Likewise, Weyl cannot repeat often enough how much ahead of the US Europe is. That's another theme that the social democrats have carried forward through today. I wonder if Weyl's relatives in Europe, if any, were killed within three decades by those wonderfully social democratic Germans he repeatedly extols.

The problem is the way that you become rich, holding resources equal (as e.g., America's and Rusia's resources were equal in the 19th century) is (a) thrift; (b) efficient management; or (c) new ideas, inventions and innovations. There are no other ways The nation as a whole cannot become rich trading stocks or timing the stock market.

For the past century Weyl and his Progressive followers have been telling Americans that they need to become more like Europe. But if you're not more thrifty, efficient or innovative than Europeans, you're not going to be richer. You can expect to live like Europeans. Americans have thought of themselves as wealthier, but they've listened to the Progressives, and now they are going to learn that if you copy Europe, you adopt economic practices and social democracy like Europe's, your natural resources aren't going to be of much help. That's a hard lesson to learn.

We cannot be richer than Europe if we adopt Weyl-cum-Obama style social democracy. Sorry. Because of Obama and the last century's worth of Progressives, Americans can look forward to becoming poorer and poorer.

But at least we'll be happy when we're unemployed.

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