A.J. DiCintio
Looking like Europe
By A.J. DiCintio
May 15, 2010

There is no doubt that Barack Obama's policies are driven by Madly Spend/Insanely Borrow Nanny State Syndrome, the same malady that threatens the life of Europe's economic, social, and political body and which liberals will soon refer to as the continent's "Social Disease," not for reasons venereal but because liberals regard every problem as caused by "society."

Yet we cannot lay the entire blame on Obama for infecting America with that sickness because it would be a grievous insult to deny a long list of former presidents — G.W. Bush most notable among them — their big, fat fair share.

However, the truth is that after just a bit more than a year in office, Obama has earned the lion's portion of the blame; for his words and deeds speak loudly and clearly about his unwavering dedication to becoming the person singularly associated with making America look like Europe.

And he deserves that perverse recognition; for in his efforts to complete the job, he has labored mightily to sink the nation an astonishing ten trillion dollars further into debt, explode the size and power of the federal government, trash any tradition, pay any bribe, buy any vote, and stuff any envelope with billions for any liberal interest group.

He has even told us explicitly that achieving the transformation is worth losing his bid for a second term, a statement that screams volumes about how much he perceives it as crucial to the triumph of liberalism in this country.

To put it another way, centralized power loving, nanny state admiring, redistributionist, true-believing liberal ideologue Barack Obama has been unashamedly honest about his love of the European model.

Therefore, it is high time we put aside liberal-inspired images of cosmetically altered, medicated-for-the-photo-op European nations and get an honest picture of what they look like when they get up in the morning.

Such a picture begins with the reality that they are so painfully crippled by back breaking debt that they can hardly make it out of bed — decrepit, haggard, embarrassingly incoherent Greece, for instance, which has taught the world what happens when a nanny state's indebtedness reaches 102% of GDP while its deficit adds 12.7% of GDP to debt every year.

And what happens is ugly, indeed; for just to attempt the excruciatingly painful excision of the malignant tumor that is its welfare state, Greece ironically needs to collect welfare from its trading partners, our Federal Reserve Bank, and the IMF.

Of course, "IMF," means "International Monetary Fund." But it also means "WFG" ("Welfare for Greece") — welfare that literally comes out of the pockets of billions of people the world over, including a laid off steelworker in Germany, a struggling shop owner in the Netherlands, an electrician in quake-ravaged Chile, a gold miner with bills to pay in South Africa, and every you and me, whether working, retired, unemployed, or underemployed, here in the USA.

And not just Greece.

Great Britain suffers from an annual budget deficit that equals 12% of its GDP. In a mere twelve months, that stunning shortfall will raise its total indebtedness from 60% of GDP to 71%, thereby putting the country on a fast track to become as bloated, sick, and disoriented as its Aegean neighbor.

No wonder Thomas Friedman (NYT) reports that the most effective ad by British Conservatives in the recent election contained the following text positioned above and below the picture of a newborn baby:

"Dad's eyes, Mum's nose, Gordon Brown's debt."

"Labour's debt crisis: Every child in Britain is born owing £17,000. They deserve better."

However, truth be told, not-so-economically-great Britain is no sure thing to become Europe's next Greece.

In fact, among Europe's largest nations, ailing Spain is the current favorite to be rushed to the economic ICU; and not simply because it is infected with a budget deficit amounting to 11.4% of GDP.

Oh, no, what makes sickened Spain — 44% of whose citizens, in 2006, regarded the U.S. as "the greatest threat to global stability" — the darling of the bookmakers is the combination of its deficit with its debt and a shocking medical chart that shows the country burning up with a grave, intransigently persistent fever that is an 18% unemployment rate.

At this point, the demands of truth once again arise, this time requiring the admission that to many common sense minds, profligate, red-tape-bound Italy, with its 114% Debt to GDP ratio, is the indisputable Numero Uno in any list that speculates about the Prossimo Grecia ("Next Greece").

Now, upon hearing about the pandemic nature of this "social disease," America's Europhiles will be tempted to say that Germany and France, the EU's two largest economies, are blessed with good health.

Problem is, they conveniently ignore the fact that both countries are chronically afflicted with No Growth Syndrome, a pernicious disorder that in any nation alternately demoralizes and inflames the minds of every unemployed and underemployed citizen "yearning to breathe free" in an atmosphere that rewards learning, hard work, and initiative.

Moreover, those folks (to use Huck Finn's term) "disremember" that just as regarding the tango, it takes two to create a morbidly obese national debt.

But thanks to a cleverly constructed chart posted on The Big Picture (Barry Ritholtz, ritholtz.com), we know who has bought most of Europe's debt:

France, for example, owns $511 billion of Italy's $1.4 trillion debt, an amount that represents a stunning 25% of France's GDP.

(That's why, if Italy one day can't pay the interest on its debt or finds itself unable to borrow money to cover its annual deficits, French President Nicolas Sarkozy will be first to solemnly propose a worldwide bailout of its neighbor — right after he gets a conference call from the White House and the Federal Reserve, in which Barack the Borrower and Ben the Printer promise billions of U.S. "aid" dollars.)

Germany owns a total of $704 billion of debt issued by Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Ireland, a sum that equals 25% of Germany's GDP.

Moreover, Italy owns $31 billion of Spain's debt and Spain $47 billion of Italy's. Ireland owns $22 billion of Portugal's debt and Portugal $5 billion of Ireland's. Portugal owns $28 billion of Spain's debt and Spain $86 billion of Portugal's. . .

There's more, but what has been presented is sufficient to convince any sensible person that European economies are sickened by debt, whether issued or owned — debt that behaves like flesh and spirit eating bacteria chewing their rotten way through the present and the future.

So, how far along is America on the path to looking like Europe?

Well, right now our $8.4 trillion debt equals 60% of our $14 trillion GDP.

(If the $4.5 trillion the government owes us but has spent — for example, all the money it has spent from the Social Security Trust [sic] Fund — is added to the amount mentioned above, our total current indebtedness rises to 92% of GDP.)

Therefore, if the British are right to be angered by a national debt that has put every British citizen in hock for $25,000, we Americans ought to be fighting mad about a debt that currently has every last one of our nation's 300 million people owing $28,000 — or $42,000 if we consider total indebtedness as explained above.

Heaping an enormous insult on that huge injury, our $1.5 trillion annual deficit, Obama's own budget projections, and a little math confirm the Congressional Budget Office finding that the national debt will at least double in the next decade.

Yes, Obama's vision for America will, within ten years or less, have the nation looking like sick, angry, divided Europe, a horrid makeover the president and his liberal allies desperately want to keep from the public eye.

That's why "change agent" Barack Obama spends and borrows trillions without a word about the consequences of the bill certain to come due.

That's why "intellect" Barack Obama very carefully avoids specifics to intone mere words, words, words of vague hope and nebulous change.

But then that's how it's always been with politicians whose ideology asks us to believe in a free lunch which includes a dessert tray that permits us to eat our cake and have it too.

© A.J. DiCintio


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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A.J. DiCintio

A.J. DiCintio posts regularly at RenewAmerica and YourNews.com. He first exercised his polemical skills arguing with friends on the street corners of the working class neighborhood where he grew up. Retired from teaching, he now applies those skills, somewhat honed and polished by experience, to social/political affairs.


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