Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Never taking our eyes off America

[Health warning: this posting has no reference whatsoever to the Conservative Party.]

It is the proud boast of “Europe” or whatever passes as “Europe” in some minds, that the creation of the EU, or some alternative integration of the countries would restore the Continent’s greatness.

Above all, it would undemine the power, influence and leadership of the United States. We shall do such things, what they are we do not know, to paraphrase the Bard.

However, what do we get as examples of great independent thought? In France both sides in the referendum campaign are fighting with one eye on America.

Vote yes, to strengthen Europe against American influence (all those McDonalds in the Champs Elysée and other places), says one side. Vote no, to prevent this American-inspired free market constitution from being imposed on France the Glorious. How does that sort of political debate make France a great country?

And what of Germany? In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal Europe one of its editorial writers, David Schwimmer had an article entitled “Schröder’s Götterdämmerung” (those dam’ Americans – they are not supposed to know things like that).

Analyzing the situation in Germany after the North Rhine-Westphalia fiasco for the SDP, he pointed out that many of the disillusioned voters were not going to the more reformist minded Christian Democrats, never mind the Free Democrats.

Schröder’s “reforms” made life difficult for people without opening up the economy because they did not go far enough or deep enough. Cutting back unemployment benefits may be a good idea if there is the slightest possibility of an upswing in employment. Otherwise, it causes severe problems.

But both the SPD and its former supporters have found someone else to blame. Of course, there is the usual plethora of tirades against capitalism in general (as if the socialism of one part of Germany had been such a howling success) but more specifically, there is American capitalism.

It is all their fault comrades, for investing money in the economy and wanting a return on it. As Mr Schwimmer writes:
“A few weeks ago, as the unemployment figures kept rising and the SPD poll numbers kept falling, Chairman Müntefering began blaming private equity funds for the country’s economic malaise.

Like “locusts” they “devour” German companies, he said. A “black list” was then leaked to the press, containing – you guessed it – the names of American firms only.”

Well, all these people may get their wish.

The Market Center Blog says, quoting the left-wing New Republic:
“According to a Boston Consulting Group survey, one in five U.S. companies currently in Germany is planning to relocate at least some operations. Thus,thanks to Schröder and the SPD, Germany is not only an economically dicey investment but a politically dicey one as well.”
I guess, they will be able to blame the nasty Yanks again for their problems.

How does any of it make Europe or the European idea great?

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