Nicolas Sarcozy was supposed to bring a return of free enterprise back to France. To do this, you have to tackle two things: 1) the entitlements and the entitlement mentality; 2) the regulations that stifle commerce including the absurd laws that effectively prohibit the firing of employees. Sarcozy did neither.
Sarcozy's strategy was to substitute smaller issues for the bigger issues and to join hands with Angela Merkel to promote an expansion of sovereign debt and force austerity on their fellow countries in the Eurozone. In the waning moments of the campaign for the Presidency in France leading up to tomorrow's vote, Sarcozy has stooped to thinly-veiled anti-Muslim appeals to motivate far right voters. Gone is any interest in free enterprise and promoting entrepreneurship. All of that disappeared in Sarcozy's alliance with Angela Merkel, another conservative leader gone astray.
Meanwhile, the fruits of the Merkel-Sarcozy alliance are everywhere to see as the Eurozone economy collapses in a sea of hypocrisy, exploding debt, expanding unemployment, collapsing GDP, and growing anarchy.
Virtually every bad piece of legislation and regulation in the US in the past quarter century has a Conservative Republican stamp on it. In recent years both Bushes, Bob Dole, Newt Gingrich all penned their names to things that dramatically increased the role of government and reduced ever further the scope for free enterprise. Granted the Republicans are not outright, vocal opponents of free markets -- an apt description of President Obama, who spent yesterday on the campaign trail decrying those who "maximize profits" -- but still. Republicans are no friend of free markets.
So, Sarcozy's apostasy is not a new, unique episode in political history. He is business as usual. Elect a conservative and what you get is a wheeling, dealing big government statist. That pretty much describes Sarcozy and Merkel.
Francois Hollande is, at least, more forthright about his opposition to free markets and not likely to deviate from Sarcozy's grand European vision. Look for Merkel to follow Sarcozy to the sidelines in the next election in Germany and a re-emergence of the German Socialist party.
That's okay. Let the socialists preside over the destruction of the European economies. They largely created the problems in the first place, so why not let them have the throne as the kingdom collapses.
There are no Margaret Thatchers or Ronald Reagans available on the modern political landscape. Instead, we have the "kindler, gentler" version and you can see where that leads. Inevitably, when you promote free enterprise and reduce the size of government, someone, somewhere will produce an example of an inequity or a tragedy. There are always such examples.
It is all about costs and benefits. Nothing is perfect. But, if you can't live with some inequities and tragedies, then you can't live with free enterprise and capitalism. Asking the government to cure every ill is asking government to stamp out free markets. Conservative Republicans and Liberal Democrats walk hand in hand in wringing their hands over inequities and tragedies and putting more and more obstacles in the way of free markets.
The problem with this is that free markets represent the only hope for middle class Americans and lower middle income Americans. There is no other path to prosperity for these folks. Expanded government means creating a large group of haves -- government employees, politicians and political workers, union workers -- and a large group of have nots -- average and below average income Americans seeking employment and opportunity in the private sector. Big government picks winners and losers.
In time, of course, as we are now witnessing in the collapse of Europe, there are no funds to support the growing army of the haves. The have nots run out of money and bond investors begin to see the light. The end game of the liberal dream is economic chaos and political anarchy. We are watching it unfold in Europe.
Free markets permit people to improve their situation through their own efforts in the process of supplying goods and services to their fellow citizens. Big government emboldens those who think they should be telling everyone else what they should be doing and how they should be running their lives. Big government views free enterprise, taking personal responsibility and trying to achieve personal prosperity essentially as crimes against the state. Listen to President Obama for a while. His message is pretty clear. Check out the "Julia" website. It is all about depending upon big government and shirking personal responsibility. At least, Obama is upfront about his contempt for free market capitalism.
It is too bad that, in this critical juncture in history, there are no defenders of free markets. Certainly, Sarcozy and Merkel are not defenders of free markets and they will both soon be on the dustbin of political history.