But, along the way, I got distracted by one particular progressive pathology--their penchant for citing Europe's alleged economic success, touting constraints on the free market (i.e., more socialism) as the preferable path to minimizing poverty. Some recent examples:
- Russell Shorto extolling the Dutch welfare state in the April 29th New York Times magazine. (See also Ezra Klein in American Prospect.)
- Wyatt Cenac on Comedy Central's The Daily Show in late April mocking conservative complaints about Swedish socialism.
- The Center for Economic and Policy Research asserting in May that tight European labor-market regulation and high jobless benefits have led to lower unemployment as compared with laissez-faire U.S. policies.
- Landon Thomas commending in the May 13th New York Times the lessons Norway's economy could provide for U.S. policymakers.
But more broadly, AVI's narrative aptly is illustrated by the left's endless ability to fool itself into believing that Europe is more advanced and successful than America. What else could explain their repeated failure to convert economic statistics into purchasing power parity prior to comparison? In particular, this bypasses the effect of massive internal subsidies and eco straight-jackets on food prices Then there's the typical ignorance of standard-of-living measures like living space, leisure time, cars per capita as well as convenience.
Progressives prefer collectivism to capitalism and so imagine it's proven fact. But commerce, not redistribution, creates wealth--money is not a zero sum game. As MaxedOutMama says, "Economic efficiency MATTERS."
Yes, some conservatives take a theoretical commitment to individualism too far. Yet--in general--the substitution of pretty theories for testable practices is more prevalent on the left. AVI helpfully addresses "why." I got stuck on "how."
And I fear the consequences.