I read a lot of stuff online throughout the course of a week, but rarely do I enjoy anything more than Mark Steyn’s weekly articles at The Orange County Register and Maclean’s. In his latest Maclean’s op-ed, Steyn continues what has been a years-long critique of the European welfare state. Though it’s familiar ground for Steyn it’s one of his best articles in recent memory.
The great thing about Mark Steyn, if you’ve not read him before, is the way he can make a really good joke out of the most depressing social insight. Look no further than the title of this week’s article, “Beating swords into welfare cheques.” The quote, in full:
Absolved from having to pay for their own defence, Continentals, like Canadians, beat their swords into welfare cheques, and erected vast cradle-to-grave social entitlements. Even under the U.S. security umbrella, they proved unsustainable. Why? Because Europeans stopped breeding. And, even with unprecedented levels of immigration, they’ve been unable to halt population decline.
Steyn discusses growing evidence for his argument, such as birth rates in Germany – the supposed economic powerhouse that’s going to save Europe from its financial woes. He also relates how, with Greece burning (both literally and figuratively), some of the “respectable” publications here in the States are warming up to opinions previously dismissed as far-right xenophobia.
My favorite quote from Steyn’s editorial, which you ought to read in its entirety:
How fair thou hast been – but only for the moment, and the moment is passing. Europe’s economic crisis is a mere symptom of its existential crisis: what is life for? What gives it meaning? Post-Christian, post-national, post-modern Europe has no answer to that question, and so it has 30-year-old students and 50-year-old retirees, and wonders why the small band of workers in between them can’t make the math add up.