A few years ago, after the U.S. economy “collapsed” due to ___________ (insert your own opinion), things in France were looking pretty good, and a lot of people were speculating, maybe the U.S. should try to be more like France. Well, at the beginning of this month, France and Belgium bowed to the inevitable and, with the assistance of the EU at Large, embarked upon a bailout of Dexia, the France/Belgium equivalent of Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, etc. Controversy over this bailout led to the collapse of the ruling coalition in Slovakia, as a early swat at reshaping EU governance. Apparently, the IMF is involved in some way, which gives the U.S.—represented by Avatar, Tim Geithner, and other G-20 countries a say in how the bailout happens.
I’m not saying anything is wrong with France. France is France and it is what it is. It is, among other things, a country with a Central government and a strong Socialist tradition. The United States has a Federal government and *is not* a country with a strong Socialist tradition. The States in the United States are independent, internally self-governing entities and the culture of our country has a strong tradition of individualism and personal independence, which admittedly has both downsides and upsides.
I have every confidence that the EU will pull through the current fiscal challenge and the Euro will survive. I have every confidence that France and Belgium will recover, and so will Greece, Spain and Italy. In their own way, making their own budget trimming and belt-tightening decisions. I’m not sure the United States is really in a position right now to be all, “um, you need to do this.”
What it does mean is that the Light we all saw wasn’t the end of the Tunnel, it was a safety fixture. We’re still in the Middle of this mess with no real end in sight. I hope the leadership of our country takes into account the will of the American people, as they continue to search for a way out of the economic weeds. (I guess eventually the leadership will, whoever that happens to be. I’m just hoping we don’t have to wait until 2013 or 2015 to get decisionmakers who can pay attention to what the People want, instead of some partisan theory.) Back a few years ago, the speculation was that Lehman Brothers was allowed to collapse in the Fall 2008, where other major banks were bailed out, because the majority of Lehman investors were middle class little guys rather than the upper crust, beautiful people types. Apparently, the decision to let Lehman fold had ripple effects still felt today. Welcome to cause and effect.
In the words of a famous American, “The future is created not by what we do tomorrow but by what we do today.” I think the message is being sent pretty loud and clear where the People think the problems are. It’s up to Washington when it listens.