We live in Bizarro Socialist World when Continental Europeans are telling the U.S. and UK to stop pushing big-government spending on the world (maybe the day will come when they’re more religious than us as well — but we can discuss that on Wednesday at Lolita). It’s crucial to remember that a proper pro-market utilitarian’s loyalties lie with whoever’s discouraging government spending, not simply with “America.” This, then, becomes a valuable test to see (a) whether socialists and anti-G20 (or G8 or G7 or G9 or what have you) protestors know when to stop cheering for Europe over the U.S. and (b) whether our own conservatives know when to say we really ought to be listening to Europe.
My loyalty is to the productive, information-revealing, preference-fulfilling process that is the market, not to the U.S. per se, and if I have to keep saying that more stridently as our situation deteriorates and risk looking like a traitor in the process, so be it. I helped produce a John Stossel hour a decade ago that said Hong Kong is in many ways superior to the U.S. (or at least was, though Communist meddling may yet change that). We have a lot to learn, just not from East Germany or 1970s Sweden or Paul Krugman.
In the current bailout frenzy, it’s not so much Germany’s Merkel vs. the UK’s Brown that fascinates me, though (given their relatively minor differences over spending and tax tweaks). It’s Obama and his big-spending push being chastised by a Czech prime minister — in a weird historical reversal, those who lived through socialism the first time know better than Americans do to be wary of it. Likewise, some of the most ardent young capitalists I’ve met are brainy folk from Central and Eastern Europe who’ve come to NYC to escape the poverty-inducing mistakes of the generation that preceded them — and I hope for all our sakes that they will.