At the Library of Law and Liberty Dalrymple reviews Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture and How America Can Avoid a European Future by Samuel Gregg:
In this well-written book, Samuel Gregg explains what can only be called the dialectical relationship between the interests of the European political class and the economic beliefs and wishes of the population as a whole. The population is essentially fearful; it wants to be protected from the future rather than adapt to its inevitable changes, while at the same time maintaining prosperity. It wants security more than freedom; it wants to preserve what the French call les acquis such as long holidays, unlimited unemployment benefits, disability pensions for non-existent illnesses, early retirement, short hours, and so forth, even if they render their economies uncompetitive in the long term and require unsustainable levels of borrowing to fund them, borrowing that will eventually impoverish everyone…At the same time, the word solidarity in Europe has come to mean transfer payments from one part of the population to another, much of the money naturally enough sticking to the fingers of those state employees who administer the transfer, and who are now numerous enough to constitute a significant and sometimes even preponderant political constituency of their own. Far from promoting real solidarity, however, such a system promotes bureaucratization and conflicts of interest between those who pay and those who receive. When a system of international transfer payments is instituted in Europe, as is the desire of the European political class with the possible exception (for obvious reasons) of the German, Dutch and Finnish, the likelihood of national conflicts is great, and the potential for disaster enormous. Europe is not building a United States: it is building a Yugoslavia, with Van Rompuy as its unlikely Marshal Tito.
H/t James S.