Reading Notes on Dasgupta, "Economics: A Very Short Introduction": Trust

The Clive Crook I Used to Now Vanished More-or-Less When George W. Bush Began Running for President...

Now, Henry Farrell tells us, he has returned:

This column by Clive Crook today….

What’s ridiculous is the idea that Republicans take for granted and squirming Democrats tacitly endorse—that making the U.S. more like Europe would be a disaster.… The biggest step the U.S. needed to take in Europe’s direction, and the longest overdue, was health-care reform. The Affordable Care Act is a start.… Obviously, political cultures differ in deep ways, so there will never be One True Capitalism, right for everybody.… Still, Europe’s biggest economies all reflect a social-democratic tradition that puts more emphasis on collective provision and the guiding hand of government than seems natural in the U.S. The American political tradition stresses the rights and responsibilities of individuals; it exalts private enterprise and almost celebrates risk….

Europe’s politicians looked at the U.S. and decided they needed… more American incentives and more American creative destruction.… They said so explicitly… they weren’t embarrassed…. On the other hand, Europe can teach the U.S. a thing or two about social insurance—and not just in health care, the most egregious failure of the American economic model…. Republicans might also ask whether America is living up to the merit-society ideal.… In America… your chances of staying poor are higher than in Europe. The trade-off between economic vitality and economic security cannot be eliminated. But its terms can be improved in the U.S. and Europe, if each pays closer attention to the other.

presents a striking contrast with this one from three years ago.

Where has France gone too far, in the view of an American liberal?…Perhaps some liberals privately long to make the United States over in the image of France, but the great majority, I imagine, are more interested in taking the things they regard as best in the European economic model… and combining those “socially enlightened” policies with the traditional economic virtues of the United States…. Color me skeptical…. Culture—that bundle of traits of self-reliance, self-determination, innovation, and striving for success—underpins the American exception.… [I]t would be an error to assume that the policy transformation that some liberals long for—and which Obama, if his budget is any guide, appears to be aiming for—would leave America’s unusual cultural traits…. Repairs here and improvements there, of course, but transformation? It would be a shame…

Henry writes:

NB that I am noting, not criticizing, this apparent change of heart. People have different attitudes to returning prodigals. Except in the case of continued rank hypocrisy, I’m by and large in favor of killing the fatted calf (or at the least, keeping it nicely plump in the hopeful anticipation that the change will stick).