Saturday, August 21, 2004

A small note on wet dreams

The new President of the European Commission, Jose Manuél Barroso, spoke out on the Lisbon Strategy yesterday in Financial Times:

"It was a very ambitious goal and many consider it too ambitious"

"Too ambitious" might be the understatement of the year. EU wants to be "the world's most dynamic and competitive economy", this by the end of 2010. I don't know what they were thinking (or smoking) when they came up with the idea of the Lisbon Strategy, perhaps they've read too much Keynes:

"I should guess that a properly run community equipped with modern technical resources, of which the population is not increasing rapidly, ought to be able to bring down the marginal efficiency of capital in equilibrium approximately to zero within a single generation; so that we should attain the conditions of a quasi-stationary community where change and progress would result only from changes in technique, taste, population and institutions, with the products of capital selling at a price proportioned to the labour, etc., embodied in them on just the same principles as govern the prices of consumption-goods into which capital-charges enter in an insignificant degree."

Former President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, said in January this year:

"Member states do not seem to realise that 2010 is around the corner. Four years after Lisbon it is clear that we are going to miss our mid-term targets. This should be a strong enough message to serve as a wake-up call to governments. At European level we have advanced steadily in setting the right priorities but Member States have not demonstrated enough "ownership". For 2004 we set three priorities: more investment in networks and knowledge, the reinforcement of industrial competitiveness and more measures to increase labour market participation. We ask governments to react on all three fronts swiftly. We have to take advantage of the economic recovery in order to make up lost ground. Europe deserves to do better."

Yes, Europe deserves to do better. But Europe also deserves politicians who understand that growth doesn't occur just because the same politicians want it to occur. Wishing won't make it so. Maybe the protestant ethics developed capitalism, but that ethic have since then been replaced by a social democratic ethic, suppressing growth. It will take more than ten years to change that.