Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Wither EUtopia?

Richard Rahn writing in the Washington Times says Europe has its own particular sort of flu:

« This fall in status in Europe has resulted in a rise in envy and often an irrational dislike of the outside world (much of it directed at the U.S.). Many Europeans are in denial about the failures of their socialist or "social market models." All too many are woefully ignorant about the reasons for economic growth or failure. Europe is strangling itself in bureaucracy and killing incentives through excessive taxation. Now the Germans and French are trying to infect the new free market economies in Eastern Europe with this status flu.

Though it may be tempting to gloat about the problems of the French and the others, it is in nobody's interest to do so. The United States, in particular, and its free market allies should be much more pro-active by supporting the pro-growth policies of some of the smaller and newer free market countries. Many in the European ruling elite put down pro-growth policies by disdainfully referring to them as the "Anglo-Saxon model."

The U.S. government ought to wage an aggressive information campaign in Europe to offset many factual misrepresentations about the U.S. in the European press -- particularly in health care, levels of poverty, schooling, crime, justice, etc. By almost any measure, though far from perfect, the U.S. comes out better than much of Europe.

Such a campaign will not cause Europeans to love Americans, but it might help force them to view their own failed policies more critically, the first step in bringing about change.

The vaccine for economic flu is economic literacy. European (and other) economic education organizations have been dispensing the vaccine, but their resources are too meager to stop the spread of economic ignorance. Americans have in general greater economic literacy, and hence have been less infected by economic flu, because private individuals and businesses have understood it is both their responsibility and in their long-run interest to support economic education programs run by nongovernment organizations.

As the European economic flu has become more acute, there are signs more of their citizens and companies are prepared to support those who fight for economic literacy. If Europeans were as familiar with the teachings of Hayek as those of Karl Marx, most of their economic problems would disappear.»
Crossposted on Marxist Byproducts