It would be truer to say that the present situation reflects the total failure of “you’re not on your own” economics — the delusion of statists that government can insulate millions of people from the vicissitudes of life. Europeans have assured their citizens of cradle-to-grave welfare since the end of the Second World War. This may or may not be an admirable notion, but, both economically and demographically, the bill has come due. Greece is being bailed out by Germany in order to save the eurozone but to do so requires the help of the IMF, which is principally funded by the United States. The entire Western world resembles the English parlor game “Pass the Parcel,” in which a gift wrapped in multiple layers of gaudy paper is passed around until the music stops and a lucky child removes the final wrapping from the shrunken gift to discover his small gift. Except that, in this case, underneath all the bulky layers, there is no there there: Broke nations are being bailed out by a broke transnational organization bankrolled by a broke superpower in order to save a broke currency. Good luck with that.
The political class looted the future to bribe the present, confident that tomorrow could be endlessly postponed. Hey, why not? “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day,” says Macbeth. “To borrow, and to borrow, and to borrow,” said the political class, like Macbeth with a heavy cold (to reprise a rare joke from Mrs. Thatcher). And they failed to anticipate that the petty pace would accelerate and overwhelm them. On Thursday, Jon Corzine, former United States senator, former governor of New Jersey, former Goldman Sachs golden boy, and the man who embodies the malign nexus between Big Government and a financial-services sector tap-dancing on derivatives of derivatives, came to Congress to try to explain how the now-bankrupt entity he ran, MF Global, had managed to misplace $1.2 billion. The man once tipped to be Obama’s Treasury secretary and whom Vice President Biden described as the fellow who’s always “the smartest guy in the room” explained his affairs thus: “I simply do not know where the money is.” Does that apply only to his private business or to his years in the Senate, too?
Saturday, December 10, 2011