. . . good politics. So says . . .
. . . Holman Jenkins.
I would put it a bit differently: Europe lacks constitutional order, which is the name for politics in the deepest and most important sense.
Our president's continuing enterprise to make America more like Europe requires, as he well understands, a weakening of the constitutional processes for enacting and enforcing law.
That's why all budget and debt-limit fights are crises rather than objects for legislative stewardship under the regular order of the House and Senate.
That's why bureaucrats by the thousands are writing new regulations by the tens of thousands of pages, in many cases pressing far beyond the boundaries of the authority of the laws they purport to enforce.
That's how Mr. Obama wants it.
Mr. Jenkins writes not about America but about Europe, but his thesis comfortably spans the Atlantic.
He characterizes European politics as "Merkelism, frantic improvisation aimed at keeping the euro zone together for another day, with the Cyprus intervention being an especially ignominious example."
Good policy is not good policy if it can't be put into effect democratically.
. . . .
The argument for limited government is really an argument for not overburdening politicians. Leave as much as possible to the market, to the law of contracts, to the courts.
And to civic society, Unca D would add -- churches, clubs, and other voluntary organizations around which Americans organize much of their lives.
Don't pile up on politicians more and more impossible choices they have to make on our behalf.
Though it won't please some to hear it, this is why the euro has been a failure. France's government is 56% of GDP. Italy's is 50%. Germany's is 47%. Greece's is 50%.
Our national government is 24 percent of GDP, up from about 20 percent when Mr. Obama took his oath of office. That doesn't look too bad until you remember that we also have state and local governments.
The burden of government, cumulatively, in some states and cities is already at European levels. California, Illinois, and New York come to mind, along with Detroit and a host of other bankrupt cities.
It requires too much of politics. Look at Europe's paralysis, in its hour of need, to exploit the shale bounty at its feet because Europe's mineral rights are controlled not by landowners but by politicians.
Look at Europe's inability to cut spending . . .
Ditto for California, Detroit, et al., and for the United States Senate.
. . . so governments raise taxes instead, driving their private sectors into deeper depression. Look at its vast opportunity to make its workers competitive through "fiscal devaluation" -- not by cutting wages but by cutting wage taxes and costly labor regulations. Yet governments have been unable to move.
Most Europeans, even today, probably would be better off if over-indebted governments were allowed to default in accordance with the relevant bankruptcy precepts. But it can't happen in societies so trained to look to politicians to overrule the laws of arithmetic and economics whenever those laws are inconvenient.
(Holman Jenkins, "Sympathy for the Devil Named Angela," wsj.com, March 23, 2013)
In America, car companies are semi-nationalized outside the bankruptcy process for the benefit of political friends of the president, race leaders demonstrate against "the laws of arithmetic" (as embodied in the new receiver for the city of Detroit), Chicago teachers strike and win a contract so costly that schools must now being closed, the SEC charges Illinois with lying to investors about the solvency of that state's pension system.
These are American examples of the European disease identified by Mr. Jenkins. Europe in slow motion.
The problem here is not policy, which is simple: Spend your own money, not your kids'.
Nor is it politics, in the retail sense; we have politicians hanging from every tree limb and rafter in the country, most busily engaged in something other than applying good policy.
The problem is politics in the deepest sense, which is constitutional. Government has grown so large, intrusive, and unlimited that it is seizing up.
As in Europe, the U.S. constituency for spending too much and not paying any taxes -- I'm referred to U.S. tax filers who pay no federal income taxes -- is now the majority.
Don't mock the Cypriots. They're the crystal ball in which we can see our own future: slow, painful, and inevitable decline.