Europeans worried their welfare states are collapsing 

The New York Times reports that across Europe people are afraid that the financial crisis threatens to take the "welfare" out of their welfare states:

Across Western Europe, the “lifestyle superpower,” the assumptions and gains of a lifetime are suddenly in doubt. The deficit crisis that threatens the euro has also undermined the sustainability of the European standard of social welfare, built by left-leaning governments since the end of World War II.

Europeans have boasted about their social model, with its generous vacations and early retirements, its national health care systems and extensive welfare benefits, contrasting it with the comparative harshness of American capitalism.

Europeans have benefited from low military spending, protected by NATO and the American nuclear umbrella. They have also translated higher taxes into a cradle-to-grave safety net. “The Europe that protects” is a slogan of the European Union.

But all over Europe governments with big budgets, falling tax revenues and aging populations are experiencing rising deficits, with more bad news ahead.

So Europe has birth rates well below replacement level, increasing conflict as a result of mass immigration from non-Western cultures, ever-shrinking military capabilities and may soon not even be able to pay for all the social programs they gave up their military spending for. I think it's a little early for total doom and gloom, but unless politics in Europe change in a big way this scenario is suggestive of civilizational collapse.

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Mark Hemingway

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