Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Merkel: Decision Time for Europe

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (my favorite conservative) continues to be, well, conservative, in the classic sense. She's reluctant to move from a solid course; she's not influenced by of-the-moment emotion. And she's being rock-solid clear: Europe's not getting out of this mess unless it seriously deals with its problems, focuses on growth, and curbs its spending appetite. She's right.

I saw The Iron Lady last week, and I thought it was pretty well done, albeit a very incomplete picture of the Thatcher agenda and the Thatcher years. But one thing that always bothered me about Margaret Thatcher was her willingness to appear cold and unfeeling toward the losers in British society.

Merkel is a conservative, but she's also the daughter of a Protestant Christian pastor. She is, like Thatcher, a scientist, though with better grades. And when she brought the free-market Free Democrats into her government after her reelection, she also curbed their more radical tendencies. She wasn't going to be the chancellor to cold-heartedly release the poor into a world of no help.

The press has treated her throughout this Euro mess as an obstacle. I won't pretend that she's done everything correctly, but she has been correct: The quick solutions (bail out Greece and Italy and Portugal and Ireland and Spain at any cost) would be expensive failures if those countries don't deal with their endemic corruption and uncompetitiveness.

She's right.

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