Sean King

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Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Clive Crook:

Where has France gone too far, in the view of an American liberal?

Presumably, liberals approve of the universal health care, the generous and extensive welfare state, the comprehensive worker protections, the stricter regulation, the vastly more-generous subsidies for higher education, the stronger unions, the higher taxes, and especially the higher taxes on the rich. At least I assume they do, since they advocate all of those policies for the United States. Have I left something out?

As far as social and economic policies are concerned, Democrats really ought to be holding up France (or maybe Italy or Germany) as the model to which they aspire. The fact that they do not -- that they even deny the validity of the comparison -- seems revealing. No doubt it is partly a matter of tactical calculation. The idea that the United States should model itself on any other country, rather than offer itself as the model for the world, would be new to most American voters and would take some getting used to. But I do not think it is just that.

Perhaps some liberals privately long to make the United States over in the image of France, but the great majority, I imagine, are more interested in taking the things they regard as best in the European economic model -- all the things I just listed -- and combining those "socially enlightened" policies with the traditional economic virtues of the United States. Take French social policies and welfare-state institutions and add them to the American work ethic, spirit of self-reliance, and appetite for change. Et voila, the best of both worlds.

Color me skeptical.



Me too.

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