If you needed a perfect analogy to the fatal fiscal fantasies enrapturing Europe, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has provided it. He recently echoed Barack Obama in a speech before a German audience.
Is there any hope? Will we ultimately succeed? My answer is yes, we can!
Papandreou was speaking of the feasibility of Greek reforms on the heels of a German vote to expand the already massive bail-out fund for Greece. Clemins Wergin, writing in The Telegraph, asserts that "the question for Germany is still unanswered."
Are Germans right to continue, grudgingly, to help their southern European cousins out of the mess that their bad habits have got them into? Or are we simply pouring good money after bad?
Ring familiar? Perhaps Merkel could call her latest bail-out a stimulus bill, and chant a refrain of "Pass the bill." After all, she's already adopted Obama's stimulus tactics.
First, threaten doomsday if your latest spending bill isn't passed - even if there is no evidence whatsoever that this spending spree will prove any more effective than the last (several) spending sprees.
Germans realise that they are throwing their money at a mess that nobody seems able to control, and their anger at having to bail out the wrongdoers is checked only by doom-laden warnings about the consequences of the eurozone's failure. "If the euro falls, Europe falls," is one of Angela Merkel's oft-repeated slogans.
Second, demonize opposition - even if that opposition arises from the very people you are supposed to represent:
And the reaction of Germany's political and media elites nurtures this notion of a conspiracy. Anyone who opposes the bail-out is labelled as anti-European. And although polls show that an overwhelming majority of people oppose giving more money to insolvent countries, no political force is taking up that case.
Spending addictions apparently exists equally among "social democracy" advocates both here and abroad. One might have hoped that Europe would learn from the mistakes of America, or vice versa. But continuing riots among radicals in opposition to necessary reform, as well as stubborn disregard for objective economic realities and popular opinion among politicians, clearly indicate that reconsideration of failed policies are not in the cards.
At least America has a Tea Party movement and the hope of economic restraint. Are there any indications that Europe has even the beginnings of such a bulwark to pending fiscal disaster? One wonders how far Europe and America must fall before the people finally say, "No, you can't!"