His Gaseousness Victor Davis Hanson writes today in NRO’s Corner that Germany “wised up and rejected almost all of the policies and ideology that Obama is doing his best to implement in America.”
Really? “Almost all” of them? Which ones?
Before it enacted its vaunted austerity package, the German government passed a $42.5 billion stimulus package at the outset of the crisis in 2008.
Then there’s the fact that the austerity package itself has been implemented with middling success; less than half of its deficit-reduction goals were met in 2011, according to Der Spiegel.
It’s true that Germany pared back regulations of its labor market and curtailed unemployment benefits as part of an aggressive export-led growth strategy — a strategy, it must be added, whose success depended in large measure on inflationary policies at Europe’s periphery.
But we’re still talking about Germany, the progenitor of “social market” capitalism. In terms of generosity, even after austerity, Germany’s Catholic-corporatist welfare model is closer to Scandinavia than it is the U.S.
Take Germany’s universal health care system, with its compulsory participation in a constellation of mostly nonprofit companies.
According to an NPR report:
All German workers pay about 8 percent of their gross income to a nonprofit insurance company called a sickness fund. Their employers pay about the same amount. Workers can choose among 240 sickness funds.
Basing premiums on a percentage-of-salary means that the less people make, the less they have to pay. The more money they make, the more they pay. This principle is at the heart of the system. Germans call it “solidarity.” The idea is that everybody’s in it together, and nobody should be without health insurance.
When this system experienced a budget crunch last year, what did the Merkel-led German government do? It increased mandatory contributions, from both employers and employees, from a total of 14.9 percent to 15.5 percent of gross income.
Is this what Victor Davis Hanson means when he says that, unlike Obama, Germany has steadfastly resisted the siren call of social democracy? Only in his dreams could Obama make America look more like Germany.
Why do I let myself get exercised by Hanson’s latest other-planetary blather? It’s much the same with Her Hackishness Jennifer Rubin. They’re like car wrecks. I have to peek.