As of this writing, France is paralyzed. By the time you read this, it might be in flames.
In Britain, where politics is more polite but the problems are perhaps just as dire, the government is proposing budget cuts on a scale not seen for nearly a century.
In Greece, well, the less said about Greece the better.
All of these countries -- and many more -- are going through painful retrenchments because they spent too much money, made too many promises and expected too little from their own citizens. The era of European austerity is upon us, because the Europeans -- or at least those in charge -- understand the mess they've made of their economies.
This should present a real problem for Barack Obama and the vast (though shrinking) chorus of experts, editorialists and activists who support his agenda. In broad terms, all of the policies Obama and the Democrats have pushed are the sorts of policies the British, the French and other Europeans had for years, even decades.
As far as I am aware, no one has asked President Obama a simple question: If your philosophy is so great, how come the countries that have embraced it for generations are so much poorer than us?
Nor have they asked: If guaranteed health care for everyone will make us so much more "competitive," how come we've been doing so much better than our "competitors" who already have socialized medicine, high tax rates and lavish pensions?
Nor has the president been queried about the incongruity of saying his policies have laid a "new foundation" for economic growth and job creation when the countries he's trying to emulate are trying to dismantle the very same foundations in order to survive.
Obama supporters will respond that he has, in fact, "created" jobs, but just not enough to climb out of the massive hole created by the financial crisis and former President Bush's evil policies. The White House insists that it's not remotely responsible for the 3.2 millions jobs (2.9 million in the private sector) that have disappeared on Obama's watch, but is completely responsible for every single new job that has been created or "saved" since then.
Forget the "saved" part since that has always been so much Bidenesque frippery. (Though for the record, I drink scotch because it keeps away vampires and ensures the moon doesn't catch fire. You can thank me later).
The contrast with Europe is stunning. The streets there are clogging with protestors who desperately want to keep perks and pensions that are driving their countries into insolvency, while responsible leaders do everything they can to impose fiscal sanity before everything comes crashing down. In America, protestors (aka the Tea Parties) have taken to the streets to keep our irresponsible leaders from going in the same direction. In response, Obama says America's irrational fear has made voters stupid.
But what's irrational about saying that we shouldn't be rushing into a condemned building everyone else in the developed world is rushing out of?