Posts Tagged ‘Germany’
June 6th, 2012 at 2:36 pm
Europe: In For a Penny, In For a Pound
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Pity our poor friends in Europe. They just can’t seem to stomach the lesson that the faltering state of the continental monetary union has made all but impossible to ignore. Rather than making a clean break from the common currency, it now appears that the smart set wants to double down. This item, appearing earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal, is nothing short of chilling in its implications:

Germany is sending strong signals that it would eventually be willing to lift its objections to ideas such as common euro-zone bonds or mutual support for European banks if other European governments were to agree to transfer further powers to Europe.

If embraced, the move would deepen in fundamental ways Europe’s political and fiscal union and represent one of the boldest steps taken by the bloc since the euro was launched. Germany has never before been willing to discuss the conditions it believes necessary to move toward assuming common risks within the euro zone. Now, although the end may be a long way off, it appears willing to discuss those conditions.

“The more that other member states get involved with this development and are prepared to give up sovereign rights to get European institutions more involved, the more we will be prepared to play an active role in developing things like a banking union,” a German official familiar with the discussions told The Wall Street Journal. “You can’t have one without the other.”

Translation: the Europeans are seriously considering throwing the car in reverse and seeing just how far they can push the speedometer. It’s true that an economic union without a matching political consolidation was always doomed to fail (the practical effect has been Southern Europe living off the North), but the move towards a true United States of Europe brings to mind James Madison’s observation from Federalist #10 about destroying liberty in order to cure the problem of political faction: the cure is worse than the disease.

A continent-wide government will destroy all pretense of national sovereignty throughout Europe, leaving the bureaucrats of Brussels to steer a bold new course that will vanquish the national character of some of the world’s proudest nations, perpetuate a failing economic model, and cede previously democratic powers to unelected technocrats.

Let us pray that Europe doesn’t go down this road. If it does, the burden of Western leadership will fall even more disproportionately on American shoulders than it does already.

May 19th, 2012 at 4:42 pm
VDH to Europe: Don’t Mess with Germany

Military historian Victor Davis Hanson trots out an underappreciated statistic that should give European opponents of Germany’s austerity measures a reason to reflect:

There is one general rule about the history of the modern state of Germany since its inception in 1871: Anytime Germany has been both unified and isolated, armed conflict has followed.

The Greeks can’t form a government to implement Germany’s austerity measures, and are rioting rather than reforming.  Spain is teetering on the edge of a shredded social contract where more than 40% of young adults can’t find work.  France just elected a Socialist president who claims that “My real enemy is the world of finance.”

And there sits Germany with the most money on the Continent, vilified for insisting on the same frugality from its debtors.

While it’s almost impossible to think that Germany would resort to military force to press its claims, it is within the realm of possibility to see it pulling back from the European Union in a way that cuts its losses and leaves the big spending countries to defaults and devaluations.

If that happens, expect to hear at least a few Europeans wishing Germany had just annexed their country.  At least then they would be a part of a more stable economy.

October 28th, 2010 at 5:18 pm
Employment Data Vindicates German Rejection of Obamanomic “Stimulus”
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Consistent with his vision of himself as point guard directing the entire universe, Barack Obama has repeatedly scolded his German counterpart Angela Merkel to pursue more of the Keynesian “stimulus” he prefers.

Today, however, employment data provided the latest vindication of Germany’s rejection of Obamanomics.  Despite the worldwide economic malaise, German unemployment has now fallen to its lowest level in almost 20 years.  Its unemployment rate is now 7.5%, and its total number of jobless fell below the 3 million threshold for the first time since 1992.  Here in the U.S., meanwhile, we’ve now seen the unemployment rate rise from 8.2% when Obama signed his $814 billion “stimulus” in February 2009 to 9.6% today.

Obama loves to lecture campaign crowds that those opposing his agenda are blind to “facts and science,” but this latest data once again proves that he’s the one refusing to acknowledge hard reality.

August 18th, 2010 at 3:57 pm
German Tycoon Calls U.S. Tax Deductions for Charity “Unacceptable”
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According to German shipping tycoon Peter Kramer, “the state” should control private charitable donations and “determine what is good for the people,” not the individuals making those charitable donations.  In an interview with Der Spiegel, regarding the Warren Buffett/Bill Gates Giving Pledge, Kramer ripped America’s tax deductions for charitable gifts and demanded, “what legitimacy do these people have to decide where massive sums of money will flow?”

I find the U.S. initiative highly problematic.  You can write donations off in your taxes to a large degree in the U.S.A.  So the rich make a choice:  Would I rather donate or pay taxes?  The donors are taking the place of the state.  That’s unacceptable. It’s all just a bad transfer of power from the state to billionaires.  So it’s not the state that determines what is good for the people, but rather the rich want to decide.  That’s a development that I find really bad.  What legitimacy do these people have to decide where massive sums of money will flow?  In this case, forty superwealthy people want to decide what their money will be used for.  That runs counter to the democratically legitimate state.”

Call us crazy, but don’t alarms sound when a creepy German demands that the state “determines what is good for the people?”  Meanwhile, as noted by economist Mark Perry on his blog Carpe Diem, citizens of Kentucky outstrip Germans in the best indicator of economic wellbeing, gross domestic product (GDP) per capita.

Mr. Kramer, perfect your own supposed workers’ paradise before you attempt to lecture Americans.

July 30th, 2010 at 9:46 am
Jolting Irony: Stimulus-Shy Germany Recovers Jobs More Quickly Than U.S.
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Earlier this month, we noted the sad irony that leaders from welfare states like Germany now lecture President Obama about fiscal discipline.  At the recent G-20 summit in Toronto, Obama attempted to strongarm other industrialized nations into more of the deficit-inflating “stimulus” spending that has failed here, but to no avail. Germany has actually announced budget cuts, whereas Obama admitted that this year’s $1.5 trillion deficit will exceed even last year’s $1.4 trillion pit.

Yesterday, German labor market data provided additional evidence that they were right, and Obama was wrong.  For the thirteenth consecutive month, German unemployment fell, and Germany has now recovered its jobs lost during the recession.  Meanwhile, U.S. unemployment remains near its recessionary high at 9.5%, compared to Germany’s 7.6%.  Obama continues to employ his mindless “jobs saved or created” talking point, but Germany suggests that fiscal discipline and spending restraint are the better course.

Perhaps Obama can go on the German version of “The View” and explain to them why his agenda works better despite the stark evidence.

November 18th, 2009 at 6:09 pm
Germany’s Merkel Gets It. Why Doesn’t Obama?
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It’s sad when American leaders must look to “Old Europe” for economic wisdom, but that’s where we stand with this Obama White House.

Speaking this week to media, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that the worldwide recession demands tax cuts, not higher taxes and redistribution, to jump-start economic growth.  Impressively, she’s standing firm even in the face of fierce opposition, saying, “the government has opted for growth.  I indeed face very critical treatment, as does the whole government, regarding the course that we have chosen.”  A spokesman for Merkel’s partner Free Democrats added, “this is the right path.  This will create jobs and this is the condition for healthy public finances.”  Meanwhile, Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi offer more government, higher taxes and more regulation to somehow “stimulate” America out of recession.

Hmmm…  Perhaps this recent trend of economic sense out of Germany helps explain why Obama was so reluctant to visit Berlin to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall this month?

September 17th, 2009 at 1:56 am
Andrew Sullivan Pulls Grenade, Throws Pin
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A reader sent me a link to this confused piece by Andrew Sullivan over at his Daily Dish blog on the Atlantic.

Sullivan — whose career in recent years has consisted of trying to find the most erudite style in which to whine — fixates on the revelation that Margaret Thatcher feared the implications of a reunified Germany and a disbanded Warsaw Pact in the wake of the Cold War’s end.

As Sullivan rightly notes, this was a rare example of the Iron Lady embracing foreign policy “realism”: the notion that states act only in a narrowly-defined sense of self-interest that is true regardless of regime type and ideology. And — though I rarely have cause to say it — Thatcher was wrong about this one. After two decades of peaceful German reunification, we have empirical proof that the catalyst for German expansionism was the nature of the regime and not the fact of German nationhood. While the former Warsaw Pact countries have been decidedly less stable, there is no question that the spread of liberal democracy throughout Eastern Europe and the Caucasus (along with the expansion of NATO) has made the world a freer, safer place in the years since the Berlin Wall came down.

What’s so peculiar about Sullivan’s take is his snide conclusion: “… what’s interesting is to see Thatcher, a neocon idol, acting in such brutally realist fashion. Toryism, even Thatcherism, is not neoconservatism, is it?” Well, in this instance, no, they’re clearly at loggerheads. But Sullivan, who seems to think he can win arguments these days simply by invoking “neoconservatism” as a pejorative, seems blithely unaware of the implications of his argument.

If neoconservatism stands athwart Sullivan’s lionized realism, does that mean he longs for a still-partitioned Germany and an expanded Soviet orbit? And if so, isn’t that a bit of a jog to go on just because you hate neoconservatives?