Europe's Been in Denial for 30 Years, But Now They're Blaming the USA

by Gerri Willis

Blame America.

That's the game being played by European officials at this week's G20 meeting. In fact, the President of the EU Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, had some choice words for us.

“This crisis was not originated in Europe. Seeing as you mention North America, this crisis originated in North America, and much of our financial sector was contaminated by, how can I put it, unorthodox practices from some sectors of the financial market.”

It's worth noting before Barosso was President of the EU he was Prime Minister of Portugal, a country with a GDP roughly the size of Connecticut. An experienced hand at running global economies? I don't think so.

And, to his point that it's all the Americans' fault, I'm sorry, but did Wall Street force Europe to do all that spending? Did America design your half-baked currency union?

This is awfully arrogant for a guy leading a European union where country after country needs a bailout.

Really, Europe’s responsible for a host of -- how can I put it -- unorthodox practices that we can be thankful never spread here.

Let's look at France.

They brought the world the government-enforced 35 hour work week. Work more than that and you're entitled to overtime. France even put in a limit on overtime. 220 hours a year.

That works out to a little over 4 hours a week.

Would you want to hire a new employee if you were banned from getting a normal 40 hour work week out them?

France has loosened those restrictions, but with policies like that, is it any wonder that unemployment is 12 percent or higher for a third of Europe?

Did you ever think our eight percent unemployment would seem low?

But how about Spain?

Creators of the Siesta. A three-hour break in the middle of the day when businesses shut down so everyone can take a nap. Sounds nice. Doesn't sound productive.

Which will take us to Greece - really the pioneers of unsustainable government spending where nearly one in five work for the government, where even hairdressers get to retire early because it's defined as "hard labor."

Look, Europe’s problems have been around for 30 or 40 years. They're paying for a welfare state and entitlement programs they can't afford anymore, and nobody wants to lend them money.

But if you listen to the EU Commissioner, it's clear they haven't got the message.

“ Frankly we are not coming here to receive lessons in terms of democracy or in terms of how to handle the economy, because the European Union has a model that we may be very proud of.”

Sounds like Europe’s in a state of denial. If it's going to get out of this mess, it's going to have to reform itself. Pointing fingers isn't going to help.