Daily Archives: January 15, 2010

Maybe Obama can’t. Edward Luce, FT

Obama needs to get tough. The Economist

The fall of Obama. Charles Krauthammer, RCP

Bankers without a clue. Paul Krugman, NYT

My column this week for National Journal takes up some recent discussion of an old question: Which has the superior economic model, the US or Europe? The difference is real, I say, but neither is objectively better. On average, material living standards are plainly higher in America–but mainly because Americans work harder, not because their economy is more efficient. Europe’s societies are plainly more equal, on the other hand, yet not necessarily more cohesive.

Trade-offs, always trade-offs. In the end it may be that Americans prefer the US model, and Europeans the European. If so, somebody had better tell Obama.

What can one say? The scale of the calamity simply numbs the mind. The need for a massive emergency relief is self-evident. Rush Limbaugh notwithstanding, I doubt that unwillingness to help will be a problem, least of all in the US, where the public and private response to these things is always fast and generous. Actually delivering the aid is another matter.

A badly damaged seaport, a congested one-runway airport, a shattered communications system and difficulty coordinating the aid have delayed relief efforts. Help will arrive too late for many. The Red Cross federation estimated that 45,000 to 50,000 people have been killed in the earthquake. Haitian officials have said the death toll could top 100,000.

The first Navy ship, the USS Higgins, arrived in Haiti Thursday morning, joining a small number of Coast Guard cutters that arrived on Wednesday. “You will not be forsaken,” President Barack Obama promised Haiti as he ordered a $100 million aid effort spearheaded by former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. A Chinese rescue team and two rescue teams from the U.S. arrived late on Wednesday, officials said.

Yet signs of the burgeoning global rescue effort proved elusive to many. As helicopters flew overhead Thursday, residents wondered whom the aircraft were helping. “There’s been nothing, nothing, nothing at all since Tuesday,” said Janel Pierre-Jacques, 33 years old, a plumber. “I had heard that aid was coming in but so far we haven’t seen any.”

The Economist has a good overview, and a good editorial to go with it. Reflections on more fundamental causes and remedies is no doubt necessary–see David Brooks–but not just now. It is hard to concentrate with the disaster still unfolding.

Clive Crook’s blog

This blog is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

I have been the FT's Washington columnist since April 2007. I moved from Britain to the US in 2005 to write for the Atlantic Monthly and the National Journal after 20 years working at the Economist, most recently as deputy editor. I write mainly about the intersection of politics and economics.

Clive Crook’s blog: A guide

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