France now has something in common with the United States: A Socialist President.
Welcome to the club, France!
Not that this represents a big change. The last president of France was nothing more than a corrupt guardian of that country’s massive entitlement and transfer-of-wealth state. Of course he was corrupt. A government based on such things must by its very nature be corrupt.
The question is: Why should France’s new socialist president, Francois Hollande, be any different?
In terms of policy, Hollande can really do little other than rearrange the deck chairs on the ship of state. He wants to spend more to “stimulate” the economy.
Shouldn’t America’s recent failure matter to Hollande? America spent trillions of dollars on economic “stimulus” in 2009. The purpose was to create an economy so thriving and prosperous that revenue for the always-expanding welfare state would never again be a problem.
Instead, America became more saddled with debt than any nation in history, with no end in sight. And the economy still isn’t noticeably growing. Unemployment went up, and in recent times has only gone slightly down if you refuse to count people giving up on work for good.
Some Americans, as unemployment benefits run out, are switching to government disability status. Yet Obama gets away with calling this “employment.” I guess to a socialist, it is employment.
The purpose of socialist economies is not to create wealth. Socialists don’t like wealth (not for others). They morally condemn and fiscally tax wealth wherever they find it. The purpose of socialist economies is to spread and redistribute wealth. That’s Hollande’s purpose. He rails against “austerity.” When he says “austerity,” he’s not referring to the decline of growth in the private economy, both in France and throughout the world. He’s railing against a failure to grow the entitlement state even more than it has.
Hollande’s proposals differ little from Obama’s, in specifics as well as underlying principle. He claims that raising taxes on the wealthiest will result in more revenue for the government, enough to entirely balance the budget in 4 years. Not only will taxing the rich balance the budget, but (he claims) it will enable him to restore reduced entitlement programs while expanding existing ones, in areas such as health care, retirement and unemployment. The numbers don’t even come close to supporting this assertion, but voters buy it and that’s all that matters—for now.
Therein lies the great contradiction of socialism. It depends upon those it morally despises, and seeks to expropriate, in order to create what it considers valuable. This cannot be done.
Imagine if a Jew hater said, “We’re going to tax the Jews and make them pay for all manner of government programs.” Do you think this would have no psychological impact on the Jews? Do you really think that they will keep producing at the same levels they did when they were allowed to keep most of what they earned?
Substitute “the Jews” with any social group of any kind. That’s what socialists do with the rich, defined in American terms as anyone who makes over $250,000 a year. They single them out for hatred and then shake them down.
This is not idealism, and it’s not practical either. Socialism cannot succeed even on its own terms, and in America we all know that eventually there will be additional taxes—such as a national sales tax, and no doubt other taxes—to help pay for the quite literally infinite number of dollars to fund the things government does.
You cannot bite the hand that feeds you and expect no consequences. This is naïve and foolish as well as wrong and evil. It’s self-defeating on its own terms.
“Europe needs plans. It needs solidarity. It needs growth.” This is what Hollande claims.
Plans? Whose plans? The plans of the socialists, of course. Plans to deregulate or decontrol the economy would never be considered lawful by a socialist.
Are these plans to be implemented voluntarily, through reasoning and by choice? Or by the force of law? By law, of course.
How does force amount to solidarity? No answer is given. This is because the dirty truth underlying “solidarity” is that it’s the triumph of the mob over the individual. This is true whether the individual is somebody rich whose money by all moral rights belongs to himself, or whether the individual is struggling to honestly make his way in an economy that no longer grows, thanks to the high cost of government entitlement programs.
Socialism provides for the little guy, all right, but not by fostering economic growth. The little guy is given a government check, not an opportunity to do anything else.
As for “growth,” socialists running for office like Hollande know they have to say that to appeal to the middle, i.e. to the people who are neither socialist nor capitalist—who just want things to get better without having to put much thought into ideology. He wins the not-so-sure over by mentioning the need for growth, but you can be sure that the “growth” he’s talking about is the growth of government, not the private sector. The private sector is there to be throttled, but not to grow.
The biggest questions going forward, both in France and the United States, are: How can the entitlement state keep growing if the private economy stays at zero or 1 percent growth a year, tops? What happens when there’s another downturn, when the officials in our government-managed economies once again screw up?
Socialist policies are no less effective when socialists are in charge than when “conservatives” are in charge. America is finding this out, and France will soon relearn this lesson as well.