With the recent focus on Ferguson, Mo., and U.S. domestic issues, it would be easy to miss something else that became obvious this week: French President Francois Hollande may have been elected as a Socialist, but he seems determined to rule like a Tea Party Republican.
Specifically, he ran against the austerity polices that have been cheer-led by Angela Merkel and have choked the economies of southern Europe. Now that those policies have collapsed even in Germany, Hollande's on board.
Instead of emerging as the leader of revitalized Europe, his finger is on the handle ready to flush the remains: This week he dumped the members of his Cabinet who dared stand up to Berlin and Brussels.
Comments after the orange mystery squiggle.
As noted economist Paul Krugman stated in his blog, France isn't even in big trouble yet compared to much of Europe:
"Within that overall pattern of disaster, France’s performance is much better than you would guess from news reports. France isn’t Greece; it isn’t even Italy. But it is letting itself be bullied as if it were a basket case."
In fact, Krugman included a graph comparing the U.S. and French employment rates since 2000 for workers in the 25 to 54 range, and France is way better off.
Krugman points out that you can make the French employment situation look worse by including older workers (because generous retirement programs mean fewer French elders are forced to work) and younger ones (because generous student aid also means fewer young people are forced to work). But comparing apples to apples, France isn't doing badly.
The euro zone has been cutback crazy for four years and the result is shrinking economies inching perilously close to deflation. I've been writing for years that deliberately shrinking an economy seldom accomplishes more than shrinking an economy, and the evidence keeps mounting.
That works just as well on this side of the Atlantic.
If Paul Ryan doesn't know of a single case where government austerity expanded an economy, I'm prepared to say it's never happened. And if he had known of one, don't you think we'd have heard about it daily during the last presidential campaign?
Elected Democrats seem to think the thing to do is keep their mouths shut about how idiotic this all is, and just let the Republicans skewer themselves regularly.
If Democrats were looking at what's going on around them, they might conclude that the time to speak up is upon us.
Is there really not a single presidential candidate out there who is grounded in the 21st century rather than rehashing the 20th? Francois Hollande need not apply.