Learn all you can from the mistakes of others. You won't have time to make them all yourself. -- Alfred Sheinwold. Tragically for Western Europe, they seem to be much further down the highway to hell than America. They have much larger welfare states, they've had socialized medicine longer, they have much more severe demographic issues, and their anemic economies, caught in the crocodile jaws of socialism, are already in the water being slowly deathrolled before being dragged down to the bottom of the lake to rot.
Greece is in danger of defaulting on its debt while Portugal and Spain aren't far behind. Muslim immigrants burn cars for sport in France. Italy's population is in a nearly unstoppable death spiral. Britain's becoming a 1984 style police state with a touch of 8th century Islamic flavor. With the exception of Britain, and perhaps France, none of these nations can fight their way out of a wet paper bag, lethargic economies are common, Christianity has almost fully retreated, and heavy societal decay is the rule.
Since Americans, particularly liberals, see Europeans as kindred spirits, the fact that many Western European nations are likely to go over a cliff in the next few decades will at least give Americans a real world warning of a the dangers ahead. As we've seen with the Obama Administration, you can tell people how bad it will be all day long, but until they see it with their own eyes, they have trouble accepting it.
No! Ne'er was mingled such a draught
In palace, hall or arbor,
As freemen brewed and tyrants quaffed
That night in Boston Harbor. -- Oliver Wendell Holmes, The Ballad of the Boston Tea Party. Protesters in America are nothing new, but typically they're young, foolish, and easy to dismiss. When the people who make America work, the taxpaying middle class, take to the streets in numbers, it's a much more significant development than we've come to expect in the last few decades.
Moreover, the way the Tea Party has organically grown, perhaps contrary to political wisdom, holds particular promise. Because the Tea Party movement is primarily concerned with the size of government and deficit spending, rather than lifting a particular political party, it has the potential to stick around for awhile and create real change.
This is in contrast to other recent protests, like the anti-war movement, which collapsed not because we ceased to be at war, but merely because the Democrats took power. If Republicans take charge and don't address the deficit, the Tea Partiers could very easily turn from their best friends into their worst enemies.
If the Tea Party movement can keep this up for another few election cycles, it could be capable of actually reshaping America's political climate for the better. Will that happen? Time will tell. But, the fact that so many Americans are on the streets trying to pull it off is a good omen for this country's future.
First comes love and then comes marriage; then comes a baby in a baby's carriage. Unlike Europe and some other first world nations in a demographic death spiral, America's population is, depending on what estimates you look at, holding steady or growing significantly.
Having a population that's increasing, rather than shrinking, helps to ensure that we have a growing tax base, a healthy economy, and people to help shoulder the massive load on our country created by our behemoth of a government. That doesn't mean there aren't some significant challenges associated with larger populations, especially if we don't bring in high quality people or do a poor job of assimilating them, but as a general rule it's much better to have a vibrant, burgeoning populace than an aging, dwindling nation.
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin' 'bout my generation). I hope I die before I get old (Talkin' 'bout my generation) -- The Who, My Generation. This news is a bit on the grim side, so apologies in advance, especially if you're one of the baby boomers, but this is a rather important point that seldom seems to be addressed.
Because of the post-WWII baby boom, we have an inordinate number of Americans who are just starting to collect Medicare and Social Security. In fact, their numbers are so large that they're on pace to drive the country into bankruptcy. How we'll deal with that issue -- by dramatically raising taxes, dramatically shorting them on benefits, going much deeper into debt, or some combination thereof -- is unknown.
However, once the baby boomers eventually shuffle off this mortal coil, the financial drag on the country should dramatically lessen. If we can somehow make it through the boomers' twilight years without putting future generations too deeply in the hole, our nation's financial state has the potential to improve quite a bit.