Right-wing U.S. Pundit Distorts My News Article to Fit Own Ideology

Classic of the ultra-capitalist ideology (1957), already featuring collapsing/impoverished Europe.

OK, that isn’t exactly newsworthy is it? However, in this case, it is some of my news which is concerned so I think it worth a response.

Meet Daniel Mitchell, whom Wikipedia describes as a libertarian economist (…), senior fellow at the Cato Institute and “one of the nation’s experts on the flat tax”. In a post on Forbes.com (syndicated on Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government) He cites my story on a survey revealing discontent among the European Commission’s functionaries as proof – surprise! – that “Statism” doesn’t work.

The quote:

And since we’re contemplating the big-picture issue of whether markets are better than statism, here’s some very sobering polling data from EurActiv. […] This is remarkable. Even the statist über-bureaucrats of the European Commission realize the house of cards of big government is collapsing, yet politicians in Washington still want to make America more like Europe.

This response isn’t particularly surprising, even if these “statist über-bureaucrats” actually have infinitely less power and authority than the U.S. federal government.

What I termed the “American ultra-capitalist ideology” is predicated on the fact that the welfare state, regulation and indeed all “government intervention” (really non-pro-Big Business intervention) is bad for the economy. As such, any and all really existing successful welfare states/mixed economies – and notably European ones – are an objective threat to the ideology and therefore must be discredited and indeed have their very existence denied.

To save the ideology, successful alternative models must be demonized by right-wing pundits, media and politicians. It is then very dangerous for the ideologue that the World Economic Forum – the ultimate preacher for capitalist globalization – recognizes countries like Germany, Finland, Denmark and Canada as among the top 10 most economically competitive countries in the world.

Sweden – though famously welfarist, egalitarian , and with some of highest state expenditure, the country has some of the lowest government debt in the world and the WEF deems it the second most competitive – is naturally a favorite target, as is France, in addition to Europe more generally, even for supposed wise men.

As to Daniel Mitchell, no one should be intimidated by his apparent academic credentials. I respond with facts, as subversive as they may be:

  1. In “Statist Europe” the budgetary situation is rather more sustainable than in America. EU27 public deficits average at 6.4% of GDP (6% for the Eurozone) vs. 11.5% in the U.S. As stated previously, I have no faith the American political class will rise up to the challenge of squaring the circle by either significantly cutting welfare for seniors (Medicare, Social Security), raising taxes, or reducing military expenditure. The U.S.’s medium-term budgetary outlook looks pretty bad indeed.
  2. The E.U.’s relative fiscal conservatism is part of the reason the U.S. dollar’s value has collapsed to 0.7 euros.
  3. If Eurocrats don’t believe specifically in the “2020 Strategy for Growth” it is because it is yet another one of the European Commission’s budgetless lowest-common-denominator slogans being passed off as policy. It means damn well near nothing just as the Lisbon Strategy (you don’t remember that?) meant nothing. However, it’s depressing for the Eurocrat, as his livelihood depends on his pretending this means something.
  4. The main differences between E.U. and U.S. economic growth (currently 1.8% vs. 2.8%) are chiefly due to demographic growth, the U.S. having significantly more babies and immigrants, leading to just shy of 1% point more demographic growth. Productivity is comparable

I have no illusions that these facts would be able to penetrate into the consciousness of someone who writes for Cato or Big Government. More likely, as with any soldier in the army of professional ideologues that have taken over American politics, they would be immediately and ably eliminated by his various psycho-ideological defense mechanisms. Any new reality, I am sure, can be twisted to fix his pre-existing “big-picture”.

Just for fun however, I emailed these facts to Mitchell. He replied:

I have no idea where you’re getting your public debt numbers. The Economist website shows the US lower (not that the US is good).

I share your disdain for US politicians, but Europe is falling off the cliff first. Western politicians have taxed and spent themselves into the gutter.

I realize Eurocrats want more integration, but that would be repeating a mistake made in America – and hasten Europe’s collapse.

I replied in turn that I got my figures from the IMF, Eurostat and the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). No response.

So, as expected, I failed to convert the true believer from his faith. However, I think most people are reasonable, and I hope this post will help them understand a little better both my article and the real state of things on both sides of the Atlantic.

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2 Responses to Right-wing U.S. Pundit Distorts My News Article to Fit Own Ideology

  1. marknesop says:

    The U.S. economy is indeed an unsustainable mess, and I have my doubts it will be able to pull out of its power dive despite American reliance on the “too big to fail” mantra. However, America owes as much to the rise of corporatism, not to mention its stubbornly crazy defense budget and its tax cuts, as it does to “big government” for its current deer-in-the-headlights paralysis. How big is big enough, where government is concerned? If the economy is simply left to balance itself and the free market reigns supreme, in a single generation there won’t be a small business left, while the business landscape will be dotted with Wal-Mart style monoliths.

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