Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Financial crisis claims another government

Today's collapse of Czechoslovokia's center-right government should come as another warning to the United States and the world's other rich nations that a lot more will have to be done before the world economic system gets restored to health. Particularly in Europe, where former Soviet-dominated countries and former Soviet republics have been struggling for years to qualify for admission to the common currency of the European Union, the floundering world economy is a threat to stability, trade and, ultimately, the post-USSR peace. Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek offered to resign Tuesday after losing the confidence question by one vote. His center-right minority government may stay on until June when its turn as rotating chair of the EU ends, according to the Reuters international news service. Of course, the real problem is that the relatively newly independent countries are, in fact, relatively newly independent countries, and their former centrally planned economies are still young. Without plenty of support from the older and richer EU members, these states are destined to remain second-class members of the economic alliance. Their economies simply are not capable of generating the income necessary for maintaining European-style economies, which are a mix of the capitalist and central-planning models. It's expensive to guarantee state-paid health care for tens of millions of citizens, to pay extensive unemployment benefits to those who are not working and to provide free college educations for those who qualify. Despite its economic difficulties, Czechoslovakia has not had to bail out its banks, like the United States and other major Western nations have done.

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