“In America, we don’t worship government, we worship God.” It was a sure-fire applause line in Donald Trump’s stump-speech repertoire. Beyond the former president’s voter base, though, a substantial portion of Americans may beg to differ. For many, government is the bomb, the premier agent of change for rebuilding economies devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. That Americans are acting very European is an ominous sign for the future of freedom.
A new Pew Research Center survey finds that a significant proportion of citizens in the United States, France, Germany and the United Kingdom believe their economic systems require “a major overhaul.” The French are the most dissatisfied, with 58 percent wanting major changes and an additional 12 percent calling for complete reform. The shares of Germans and Brits looking for either substantial or total revisions to their economies each measure 50 percent. Despite maintaining the world’s largest economy even throughout the COVID-19 period, Americans hold an identical view, with half welcoming major changes.
To be sure, there is ample reason for widespread distress on both sides of the Atlantic over the impact of the global economic downturn on family fortunes. The U.S. and its European friends all suffered serious economic loss in 2020. Gross domestic product declined 3.5 percent in the United States, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Germany endured a 4.9 percent drop, France’s was worse at minus 8.2 percent. The U.K.’s was worst of all, down 9.9 percent.
Hard-working citizens may be hard-pressed to see over the horizon, but better times are coming. The IMF forecasts a strong economic bounce-back in 2021. The German economy is projected to surge by 3.6 percent, the U.K.’s by 5.3 percent, and France’s by 5.8 percent. U.S. GDP is predicted to top them all with 6.4 percent growth.
Nonetheless, the Pew poll finds strong support among the surveyed nations for government economic intervention. The United Kingdom shows the strongest support such programs as building more public housing and providing universal basic income.
Disturbingly, the United States generally matches Germany in its enthusiasm for increasing government benefits for the poor and raising taxes on the wealthy. U.S. interest in socialistic policies surpassing even that of the French is even more jarring, given America’s traditional reverence for self-reliance and France’s historical dalliance with socialism.
Only one explanation for the transposition makes sense: Americans looking for a lifeline to pull them past the pandemic are abandoning their can-do spirit and learning to love government handouts. With their coronavirus-relief, infrastructure and “green” economy legislation, President Biden and the Democratic Party are training Americans to depend on Uncle Sam for their well-being. Evidently, having been there and done that, the French are less naive.
Government has played a vital virus-fighting role in saving lives, but Americans may live to regret allowing government to use the pandemic as an excuse for remaking the U.S. economy in the image of European-style socialism.