AS recently as the argument over government-run health care, as currently as the exhortation to commit to "green" energy - the American left has pointed to European countries as the models to which unsophisticated Americans should aspire.
How many times has the left assured us that we needed to adopt the "European model" and become more like France or Sweden or the United Kingdom?
Or commit wholeheartedly to "green" energy like the Spanish did?
Europe - so sophisticated, so enlightened, so civilized. . . .
It turns out the Greeks, the French, the British, the Swedish, the Spanish, the Portuguese, the Germans, the Italians - all of them - have been living in a dream world, out of touch with economic reality.
They made giant welfare-state soufflés, and economic reality just slammed the door hard.
And the United States is no better.
From The Wall Street Journal on May 22:
"PARIS - 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 . . . .
"With low growth, low birthrates and longer life expectancies, Europe can no longer afford its comfortable lifestyle . . . . The countries are trying to reassure investors by cutting salaries, raising legal retirement ages, increasing work hours and reducing health benefits and pensions."
The American left is peddling in the United States what is collapsing in Europe.
The Greeks spent way more than they had. The Spanish took a beating from windmills.
European leaders, seeking to contain the Greek contagion and protect their largest banks from harm, looked for a way out and aped the American model from across the pond - bailouts.
That certainly hasn't worked in the United States, and it won't work in Europe either.
It's just debt, and Americans already had that.
Americans lost almost 18 percent of their household net worth in 2008 - some $11.2 trillion.