A firm belief in the individual's ability, ideas, courage, will and a reliance on one's own resources brought the US to the top. The American dream promised everyone the chance of upward mobility -- literally from rags to riches, from minimum wage to millionaire. The individual's pursuit of happiness was seen as the crucial foundation for the well-being of society, rather than the benevolent state which cares for its subjects -- and certainly not the welfare state, which provides a social safety net for its citizens. . .Agreed. For a reminder of Euro-economics, try here and here.
For many US citizens, the financial crisis has turned the American dream into a nightmare. . . On Friday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke made a speech that sounded like it had been based on Krugman's column. He announced exactly what the New York Times columnist had called for, saying that the Fed was ready to intervene and would reanimate the sluggish US economy with further cash infusions if necessary. Then on Monday, Obama said he and his economic team were "hard at work in identifying additional measures" to stimulate the US economy.
Both the behavior of the American government and the Federal Reserve makes one thing clear: They do not see the solution to the US's economic woes in a return to traditional American virtues. Obama is not calling for the unleashing of market forces, as Ronald Reagan once did during an equally critical period in the early 1980s. On the contrary: Obama, driven by his own convictions and advised by economists who believe in government intervention, has taken a path that leads far away from those things that catapulted America to the top of the world in the past century.
The Obama administration's current policies rely on more government rather than personal responsibility and self-determination. They are administering to the patient more, not less, of exactly those things that led to the crisis. . .
But what is good for Europe and Germany does not automatically work for the US. The settlers of the New World rejected everything, which included throwing out anything with a semblance of state authority. They fled Europe to find freedom. The sole shared goal of the settlers was to obtain individual freedom and live independently, which included the freedom to say what they wanted, believe what they wanted and write what they wanted. The state was seen as a way to facilitate this goal. The state should not interfere in people's lives, aside from securing freedom, peace and security. Economic prosperity was seen as the responsibility of the individual.
If you take this belief away from Americans, you are destroying the binds which interlink America's heterogeneous society. Removing this belief could lead to conflicts between different sections of society, clashes which have long bubbled beneath the surface.
What could help would be a return to the American Way, the approach which made the US so historically powerful.
(via Wolf Howling)