The Economist gives up on progress

In: Uncategorized

21 Jul 2010

The Economist’s latest Charlemagne column has the headline “calling time on progress”. Although it starts by discussing European attitudes towards progress it soon starts giving its own view.

Charlemagne blurs the distinction between short term debt problems and the longer term trend towards progress. In its mind both suggest people living beyond their means:

“the ideal of progress has been a myth for longer than Europeans may care to admit. The oil shock in 1973 was Europe’s first wake-up call. Since then many countries have been creating an illusion of continual progress by running up hefty debts to finance their welfare states. More recently profligate countries in the euro zone have hidden behind German fiscal credibility and low interest rates to build a way of life that they could not afford, and which the Greek debt crisis blew apart a few months ago.”

The column concludes that the Europeans should concede progress is an illusion while changing their behaviour to accept longer working hours and later retirement.

[Hat tip Angus Kennedy].