Coming midway through President Obama’s term, there is little doubt these elections constitute a referendum on his philosophy, policies and performance.Any U.S. citizens who doubt the significance of their impending votes need only contemplate Europe to see the consequences of further pursuing the Obama agenda.
Riots in the streets recently greeted French President Sarkozy’s proposal to increase the retirement age from 60 to 62. Although starting with the trade unionists, university students soon joined, in “worker-student” demonstrations reminiscent of late 1960’s Europe.Just four years ago, France’s students rioted because they dreaded “précarité,” or insecurity concerning their employment prospects. They wanted guaranteed lifetime jobs, preferably in the public sector, rather than the indignity and “précarité” of pursue their own careers.
This past May, violent demonstrations in Greece reflected virulent opposition to cutbacks in welfare and other national subsidies, required because Greece’s profligate government spending, in violation of European Union “E.U.” fiscal rules, threatened the viability of the common European currency. Although fears for the Euro’s future have receded, the E.U.’s fundamental structural problems remain unresolved, so the risks of future instability remain still provoke sporadic outbursts of rioting in Athens.
Now, although France’s Senate approved changing the retirement age, the stability of Sarkozy’s government remains very much in question. Ironically, he came to office pledging far more sweeping, market-oriented changes in France’s economy. If he retreats on even minimal reforms like the retirement-age question, however, his entire presidency may end in failure.In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister David Cameron’s new government has just announced stringent budget cuts to reverse decades of massive deficit spending.
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