Ambrose: Europe is wising up while America is slipping backward

Let’s quitit, let’s stop, some European politicians are saying about the economy-beleaguering, future-threatening welfare states that plague their continent, while in America, some politicians are saying let’s do this thing, let’s give it a try.

Many of this nation’s top Democrats have embraced a vision of overreaching government that has already proved ruinous in Europe.

Start with France, a handout heaven where overregulation, lavish, government-enforced company benefits, unfettered, strike-happy unions, searing taxation and stupendous spending have resulted in a socially disruptive unemployment rate twice as high as here.

France’s shrinking work force cannot conceivably finance entitlements promised an aging population that retires on average at age 59.

So here comes Nikolas Sarkozy, a conservative favored in France’s May 6 presidential runoff. This reformer wants to cut taxes, reduce spending, free up the market, chip away at public assistance and defang labor. He sees how crucial it is to get more work out of the French, now guaranteed five-week vacations each year and no more than 35 hours of work each week.

Sarkozy’s policies follow in the footsteps of Angela Merkel, Germany’s conservative chancellor, and, going back to the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher. As prime minister of the United Kingdom, Thatcher began a desperately needed economic resuscitation through means including privatization and the squelching of union tyranny.

In the United States, by contrast, you have the Europeanizing three — presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards. Their messages vary, but along with fellow Democrats in Congress, they scorn Bush tax cuts (saying they were for the rich) and would have us launch massive new spending programs without first restructuring entitlements that will otherwise wreck budgets and standards of living. They bash successful, nation-serving corporations such as Wal-Mart while seeking increased regulation in the name of social responsibility.

For specifics of this inclination to cripple, look at how Democrats in the House passed an anti-democratic bill doing away with secret ballots in votes to start unions at a time when enlightened management and plentiful legal protections for workers have given us labor peace vital to the interests of everyone.

Or better yet, look at Hillary Clinton’s screed about ExxonMobil’s record revenues. “I want to take those profits and I want to put them in an alternative energy fund,” she said, instead putting the fear of Hillary in the hearts of tens of thousands of retired Americans deeply dependent on their stock investments.

The Democratic pretense is that the economy is drooping and there’s no safety net when the economy is doing well and we’re spending the better part of the U.S. budget on transfer payments. Says a recent news account, more than half the population gets “significant income from government programs.” Go further — emulate what Europe has done — and we will learn by hard experience what we could have learned by example.

Examiner columnist Jay Ambrose is a former editor of two daily newspapers. He may be reached at SpeaktoJay@aol.com

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