“We’re becoming like Europe.” This expression captures many Americans’ sense that something has changed in American economic life since the Great Recession’s onset in 2008: that an economy once characterized by commitments to economic liberty, rule of law, limited government, and personal responsibility has drifted in a distinctly “European” direction.
Americans see, across the Atlantic, European economies faltering under enormous debt; overburdened welfare states; governments controlling close to fifty percent of the economy; high taxation; heavily regulated labor markets; aging populations; and large numbers of public-sector workers. They also see a European political class seemingly unableand, in some cases, unwillingto implement economic reform, and seemingly more concerned with preserving its own privileges. Looking at their own society, Americans are increasingly asking themselves: “Is this our future?”
In Becoming Europe, Samuel Gregg examines economic culturethe values and institutions that inform our economic prioritiesto explain how European economic life has drifted in the direction of what Alexis de Tocqueville called “soft despotism,” and the ways in which similar trends are manifesting themselves in the United States. America, Gregg argues, is not yet Europe; the good news is that economic decline need not be its future. The path to recovery lies in the distinctiveness of American economic culture. Yet there are ominous signs that some of the cultural foundations of America’s historically unparalleled economic success are being corroded in ways that are not easily reversibleand the European experience should serve as the proverbial canary in the coal mine.
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About the Author
Samuel Gregg is director of research at the Acton Institute. He is the author of many books, including On Ordered Liberty (2003), his prize-winning The Commercial Society (2007), and Wilhelm Röpke’s Political Economy (2010). He lectures regularly in America and Europe on topics encompassing political economy, economic culture, and morality and the economy. His writing has appeared in academic journals and magazines including National Review, The American Spectator, and Crisis Magazine, as well as newspapers throughout America, Europe, and Latin America.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Good synopsis of the many reasons behind the gradual delines of the US.