I get very tired of left-liberal econopundits and econobloggers praising the merits of Old Europe's economic model. On the WSJ($)'s web site, Sam Gregg of the Acton Institute offers a provocative critique of European corporatism:
Partly inspired by certain schools of Christian social thought, corporatism seeks to reduce social tensions -- what France calls le fracture social -- by corralling business leaders and employees into confederations of employer associations and workers' councils that, under government supervision, negotiate everything from salaries to pension benefits.
These systems proved successful at neutralizing radical left-wing elements within West European trade unions. Gradually, however, they became engines for stagnation. They have, for instance, a vested interest in more regulation. Growing regulation gives corporatist bodies reasons to build empires of bureaucrats to help employers and workers negotiate their way through the jungle of rules and by-laws.
The same regulations give corporatist bodies every reason to discourage anyone who suggests that reducing regulations might encourage the emergence of new businesses built by entrepreneurs.
Sam also criticizes "Western Europe's increasingly secularist -- that is, practically atheist -- moral culture":
The idea that there is something wrong with foisting the payment for one's present comfort onto future generations (as many Western Europeans seem content to do) is incomprehensible to secularist minds. For if we believe that all that matters is our own present satisfaction and that no one owes anything to others, then it does not seem unjust to mortgage the future of others -- even our own children. The same deadly logic lies just beneath the surface of Lord Keynes' celebrated quip that "in the long run, we are all dead." ...
If Western Europe is to become an entrepreneurial society, it requires more than greater access to capital. It demands nothing less than a cultural revolution: one that not only sweeps away corporatist structures and complaisant attitudes towards regulation, but also relights the fire of hope that only comes from the virtue of faith. And that is the work of evangelization.