America could turn into Western Europe. But should it?
Carrie Lukas is the president of the Independent Women’s Forum. She lived in the European Union for the majority of the past decade.
When Americans talk about socialism, they typically aren’t referring to government seizing property and taking control of industry. Rather, they mean more aggressive and redistributive policies, with more regulation and higher taxes to fund more generous welfare services—similar to policies already implemented in Western Europe.
While this path is clearly preferable to more extreme versions of socialism, Americans should still be wary. Higher taxes and more generous welfare services discourage work and invite people to rely on the state. Countries with strong cultures of work and personal responsibility are held up as examples of how this system can succeed, but these are the exceptions; high unemployment rates and lower incomes are the norm.
Americans also face unique budgetary concerns: Europe has been able to forgo massive spending on defense and national security largely because of the role the U.S. military plays in our global alliances. The United States has no such guaranteed backstop. Meaningfully cutting defense spending will make not just our country, but the world, less secure.
Just as importantly, Americans ought to consider how welfare-state socialism undermines people’s basic gumption. Europeans can hardly bother to reproduce, are less charitable, have less civic engagement and are less entrepreneurial than Americans. American innovation, risk-taking and our fundamental commitment to leaving the next generation better off than the last would all be jeopardized if we embrace European socialism. These are the virtues we would undoubtedly miss the most.