Saturday, December 7, 2019

Sanders and Warren Want to Emulate France

Normal people emulate success. Normal people want to better themselves, so they adopt habits that have been produced success for others.

As it happens, the socialist wing of the Democratic Party is not inhabited by normal people. They do not want to emulate success. They want to emulate failed economic policies. It takes a special kind of stupid to think that way.

Led by Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders leading Democrats want to tax the rich, tax wealth, confiscate wealth … and to distribute it to the less fortunate. Better yet, they promise that their program will spur economic growth. Obviously, they have failed to notice America’s current economic growth, but, what did you expect?

Bret Stephens addresses the problem this morning in the New York Times. He begins by describing today’s progressive policy proposals:

That’s my way of reading a useful report from The Times’s Jim Tankersley, who on Thursday described the ways in which Elizabeth Warren and other progressives are trying to upend decades of economic thinking by insisting that sharp tax hikes on businesses and the wealthy would accelerate growth, not depress it. Under a Warren presidency, those hikes would be accompanied by monumental increases in government spending and fundamental alterations to the structures of the private economy.

What do you call those policies? Why, you call them France. The Democratic contenders ae emulating the failed policies of France. These include a crippling bureaucracy and a welfare state that makes even ours seem feeble:

Tankersley’s piece coincided with a fresh round of nationwide strikes in France, where at least 800,000 people took to the streets to protest Emmanuel Macron’s attempts to modernize the country’s byzantine public pension systems. At least one of these plans — there are 42 in all — dates to the reign of Louis XIV, and some kick in when workers retire in their fifties, costing the state an ever-mounting fortune as average lifespans get longer.

Successive French administrations of both the left and right have been trying to reform this and other aspects of the country’s statist economy for decades, with limited results. Social benefits, once given, are hard to pare, much less withdraw. Hence the frequent strikes: Since 1789, French governments have been acutely sensitive to mass protests, and too often have capitulated to them.

How is France doing, economically speaking? Glad you asked. Stephens offers a portrait of economic stagnation, spurred by a Nanny state:

The country’s unemployment rate has not fallen below 7 percent since 1983 and is now at 8.6 percent. Long-term unemployment exceeds 40 percent, compared with 13.3 percent in the U.S. The country’s annual growth rate has barely exceeded an average of 1 percent per year since the 21st century began. It’s expected to come in at 1.3 percent for this year.

As of last year, the median monthly take-home pay was just $1,930, meaning half of all French workers make even less. It’s why the country erupted in protest when Macron proposed raising fuel taxes a few cents per liter.

But, our Democratic socialists will exclaim, France has a great national health care system that is free for all. And it offers free university education. Not so fast, Stephens writes:

Then again, the health service that used to be the toast of Francophiles is overwhelmed, understaffed, and “on the brink of collapse,” according to a report in The Guardian. French universities, while cheap, are overcrowded, underfunded, and notoriously mediocre: “Too easy to get in and too easy to get out,” as one local observer put it. French workers exercise their right to strike roughly seven times more frequently than German workers do, and 125 times more than Swiss ones.

But, what about income inequality? Surely France has more equality than does say, the United States. There again reality tells a different story:

As for income inequality, France is certainly much less unequal than the U.S. But France’s top 1 percent still held 22 percent of the country’s wealth at the beginning of 2018. That was despite a draconian effort by the previous Socialist government to impose a super-tax on high earners. It raised scant revenue while accelerating the exodus of the rich. Like many European attempts at imposing a wealth tax, it was quickly repealed.

All of this should stand as a stark warning to Democrats. France has the highest overall tax take among O.E.C.D. countries (46.9 percent of G.D.P.), the highest rate of government spending, (56.38 percent of G.D.P.), the highest rate of safety-net spending, and the third highest rate of pension spending.

Finally, when it comes to happiness, France does not even break into the top twenty on the happiness index.

Vive la France...or better, France for the French… but not for us.

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