George Rebane: The happier place, America or Europe?
Our national Left has loudly included in their narrative to fundamentally transform America, that the Europeans are a much happier lot than we poor polarized and poverty-stricken wretches on this side of the pond.
The citizens of the EU are described as a people happy with their subsidies and socialism, cared for from cradle to grave with extended vacations, shorter work weeks, job security, and lavish no-cost healthcare. What’s not to like?
Actually, the Europeans have a lot of worries, and when you talk to them on a personal level, they are ready and willing to go through the long list. We just returned from two weeks in Europe where we had a reunion with our German families, and then went on to visit and talk with people in Switzerland, France, more Germany, and Holland. Here’s part of the laundry list that keeps Europeans up at night.
All EU countries are struggling with low to no economic growth, due mainly to over regulation and high taxes. The future of indigenous Europe is hampered by devastating demographics which are characterized by a growing cohort of the ever more feeble and ailing elderly. No country is close to delivering the 2.1 births per fertile woman required for mere stability of a population. Germany is today at 1.2, which is equivalent to Russia’s alarming shrink rate. The richer countries’ declining work forces are made up of an ever greater fraction of mid-easterners, Africans, and southeastern Europeans from poor countries such as Romania and Bulgaria, who do jobs that northern Europeans refuse to do.
The specific concerns of such an influx of foreign migrants are themselves legion, starting with the loss of national identity, declining common culture and values, and rising crime rates. The growing insular communities of Muslims across the northern EU present unique problems which individual governments have yet to figure out how to even recognize and discuss in politically correct ways, let alone making policies to address them effectively.
Being part of a formally united polyglot of nations, administered from Brussels and by the European Central Bank, has emerged as a whole new set of worries for Europeans. Those countries with effective wealth producing societies are not happy to see their wealth redistributed to southern neighbors that have a history of dysfunctional economic policies and behaviors exercised within markedly different cultures. And the southerners resent the remedial disciplines that the northerners want to impose. This replicates on a nation-to-nation scale what we witness here between our economic classes dependent on government provided entitlements.
While environmentally conscious, Europeans have not been able to realize their climate change nostrums, and know that they will have to continue, if not increase, their use of fossil fuels and nuclear generators to contain the growth of their already sky-high energy prices. The uncertainty of Mid-East oil supplies and the economic blackmail threatened by Russia supplying natural gas are today a growing concern with no solution in sight.
Finally, the existential fact is that the EU cannot and/or is not willing to defend itself from neighbors seeking to restore their empires or insidiously invade through emigration. Since World War II the continent has relied on America’s military being the shield under which free Europe was able to recover, grow, and even prosper. Having lived for decades in the succoring shade of America, which President Trump has promised to revamp in his effort to make Europe more self-sufficient and sustainable, the EU is now completely dependent on our alliance.
Europeans today rightly worry that America is coming to the end of its willingness to spend its political capital and treasure to unconditionally defend NATO countries that even refuse to live up to their pledges to spend a minimum of 2% GDP on defense.
Contrary to left-wing propaganda that promotes our adoption of Europe’s socialism, America’s unease is politicized and manufactured at home. And compared to Europe, this narrative has little existential basis to claim that it’s caused by factors not under our control.
In the final analysis, Americans are much more sanguine and satisfied about our ability to continue securing our quality of life than are the shrinking populations of indigenous Europeans.
George Rebane lives in Nevada City.
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