On Not Following Europe’s Lead

Thomas Sowell, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, argued this week against those who would urge America to follow Europe’s example.  

Before we start imitating someone, we should first find out whether the results that they get are better than the results that we get. Across a very wide spectrum, the United States has been doing better than Europe for a very long time…

Sowell focuses on European minimum wage laws and restrictions on pharmaceutical companes.

If Europeans have higher minimum wage laws and more welfare state benefits, then we should have higher minimum wage laws and more welfare state benefits, according to such people. If Europeans restrict pharmaceutical companies’ patents and profits, then we should do the same…

Minimum wage laws have the same effects in Europe as they have had in other places around the world. They price many low-skilled and inexperienced workers out of a job.

Because minimum wage laws are more generous in Europe than in the United States, they lead to chronically higher rates of unemployment in general and longer periods of unemployment than in the United States– but especially among younger, less experienced and less skilled workers…

The American minimum wage laws do enough damage without our imitating European minimum wage laws. The last year in which the black unemployment rate was lower than the white unemployment rate in the United States was 1930.

The next year, the first federal minimum wage law, the Davis-Bacon Act, was passed. One of its sponsors explicitly stated that the purpose was to keep blacks from taking jobs from whites…

Those Americans who are pushing us toward the kinds of policies that Europeans impose on pharmaceutical companies show not the slightest interest in what the consequences of such laws have been.

One consequence is that even European pharmaceutical companies do much of their research and development of new medications in the United States, in order to take advantage of American patent protections and freedom from price controls.

These are the very policies that the European imitators want us to change.

It is not a coincidence that such a high proportion of the major pharmaceutical drugs are developed in the United States. If we kill the goose that lays the golden egg, as the Europeans have done, both we and the Europeans– as well as the rest of the world — will be worse off, because there are few other places for such medications to be developed.

There are a lot of diseases still waiting for a cure, or even for relief for those suffering from those diseases. People stricken with these diseases will pay the price for blind imitation of Europe.

The United States leads the world in too many areas for us to start imitating those who are trailing behind.

Sowell could also use European foreign policy  as another reason to not follow the Europeans. Their policy toward oppressive Arab regimes, not to mention domestic extremist Islamist movements, have been driven by appeasement and fear. But the result of such weakness has been terrorism against the soft targets that countries such as Britain and Spain have become, and violent unrest by disaffected Muslim youths who demand that their host nations change their public culture to accomodate them. In America, on the other hand, where there is a stronger expectation that immigrants adapt themselves to American values, and certainly not demand that America become something it is not, Muslims have found it easier to find their place in American life, and on the whole, have not been seduced by the Jihadist movements that have proven so popular in Europe.

2 Responses to On Not Following Europe’s Lead

  1. Richard says:

    I don’t actually think that black unemployment has anything to do with the minimum wage laws. I would have thought it was related to crap schooling and low family expectations.
    America DEFINATELY should not emulate Europe on many things, though I think you guys would be pleasently suprised by the adoption of a similar model to the British NHS.

  2. George says:

    Adopt the NHS? Good heavens! Not even Europeans consider the NHS a good model. The US treats more people and has better outcomes than the NHS, including lower cancer mortality rates, better blood pressure control, less disability, and fewer hospital infections. The US does not have long waiting lists for health care, the NHS does. The US has far better access to prescription drugs. Finally, a study that compared the cost of health care from Kaiser-Permanente with the NHS found that while costs were similar, Kaiser physicians could do far more because they had better equipment available.

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