Earlier today, I posted George Will’s column on the possible collapse of the European project. To place Will’s column, and my brief commentary about it, in context consider this piece about the new Europe by historian Paul Johnson. As Johnson concludes, “The omens for continental Europe are sinister. The entire plan for perpetual improvement upon which the EU depends is based on continuous economic expansion. There is no provision for stagnation. As we see in Japan, once stagnation sets in, it can last many years. Americans should count their blessings, above all the supreme blessing of having an economy that is run by businessmen not bureaucrats, or that–under wise governance–runs itself.”
BIG TRUNK adds: This is a fine Paul Johnson piece, depicting France itself as a kind of Eurodisney. Here are my favorite two paragraphs: “The EU is a French concept and is still largely run according to French ideas. And France is the archetypal EU country. If you have a regular job in France, your life is, in theory, lyrical. You work 35 hours a week. You generally get four weeks of holiday in August, plus a further three weeks throughout the year, in addition to 11 state holidays. Full medical care is provided, even in retirement. Retirement age varies, but it is now typically 55. Pensions may be two-thirds to three-quarters of a person’s salary at the time of retirement.
“All this is wonderful, but it is dependent, even in theory, on the European Union’s expanding continuously, its economy running at full throttle, its productivity steadily increasing and a profound peace cocooning the world in a nest of luxurious tranquility. But in the real world, things are different. The EU has discovered, since the autumn of 2001, that it has little ability to determine events because its armed forces are small, underfunded, obsolete and ill-trained. Apart from making trouble at the UN, France and Germany–those two former military giants that once made the world tremble–have been mere spectators. Now France, followed by a still more reluctant Germany, is being obliged to take defense seriously for the first time in many years, thus upsetting all its budget calculations.”
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