In these times of economic hardship for America, it seems that even comparisons with old Europe serve a purpose in the debate.
In the New York Times today, under the headline “The German Example,” the paper’s excellent economic commentator David Leonhardt suggests that the U.S. should take a look at Germany, who has done comparatively so much better for the last few years than the United States.
With lower unemployment and higher wages, Leonhardt writes:
“The brief story is that, despite its reputation for austerity, Germany has been far more willing than the United States to use the power of government to help its economy. Yet, it has also been more ruthless about cutting wasteful parts of government. “
The article is of course pleasant reading for Angela Merkel, who yesterday was celebrated at a state at the White House during her official visit here in Washington.
Surely, Sweden, with its success story, could just as well have served as a comparison, but who knows anything about us, as seen Nicholas Kristof’s recent column, also in the New York Times, where he provocatively wrote that the Republicans advocate a policy that closely resembles Pakistan. Then he adds:
“The United States is, of course, in no danger of actually becoming Pakistan, any more than we’re going to become Sweden at the other extreme.”
So: the far right and the far left. So little we know…