Epstein: "Beyond Austerity"

Beyond Austerity
Richard A. Epstein
Defining Ideas
May 1, 2012

Grim is the right word to describe the latest economic news from both the European Union and the United States. Throughout the European Union, austerity programs have failed both politically and economically. In Spain, unemployment rates have soared above 24 percent. The Dutch government is on the edge of collapse because of the popular and political unwillingness to accept the austerity program proposed by its conservative government. Romania is not far behind. Greece, Italy, and Portugal remain in perilous condition. France faces a presidential run-off election between President Nicholas Sarkozy, who is moving rightward on immigration issues, and the free-spending socialist candidate Franciose Hollande. On the American front, the decline of GDP growth to 2.2 percent rightly raises fears that our sputtering domestic recovery is just about over.

It is no surprise, therefore, that leading columnists like Paul Krugman have taken this opportunity to announce triumphantly that austerity is