Feeding the bears

AP Photo: For the past several months European governments have been learning what the rangers at Yellowstone National Park have known for a long time -- it is dangerous to feed the bears.

The "bears" in Europe, of course, are different from the adorable furry creatures that used to line the roads in Yellowstone, but the dynamics are the same. In Yellowstone, the bears grew to feel entitled and obnoxious after years of living off the thoughtless largesse of families in station wagons. In Europe, the bears have grown to feel entitled and obnoxious after years of living off the calculated largesse of socialist governments.

But the sobering truth about the European situation is that we are not so very different from them. Our own deficit spending policies of recent years, including the unprecedented efforts to stimulate the moribund economy, are opening us to the very same problems that are dragging down much of Europe. 

Of course, there are some fundamental differences between us and the PIIGS. Our deep resevoirs of wealth allow us to engage in practices like quantitative easing. A dubious claim to fame, I know, but one that serves us well in the short-term. Our huge imports make it possible (for now) to finance our budget deficits with foreign sovereign wealth. These, and other factors, mean it is unlikely that we will hit a Greek-style sovereign debt crisis any time soon. However, the events in Europe should serve as a warning. It is time to stop feeding the bears.