Wednesday, February 02, 2005

In This Together 

It's worth remembering on the evening of the State of the Union speech that no nation stands alone. This is not a criticism of the current occupant of the White House but a reflection on the sad state of Europe and the effect it has on the US and the rest of the world and vice-versa.

Unemployment news from Germany is serious. It is the highest since 1933. The European Union has admitted its efforts to grow have been derailed by unemployment, and it is now trying to stimulate job growth. Europeans themselves are down about the cross-border economy built painstakingly over decades of effort.

The worrisome part of sluggishness is that it fosters radicalism, and we don't need more of that. It also fosters attacks on free speech, an essential element in public relations just as it is in journalism. To that point, it is discouraging to read that the young in the US don't understand the necessity of the First Amendment. If anything, free speech is more important in times of turmoil than in times of peace. (That said, free speech is often abridged during war, and one could make a case that the US is at war.)

Public relations doesn't move independently from the economies in which it is embedded. As long as Europe is sluggish, it will impact the industry there as it has impacted other EU markets. And, it doesn't appear this time that the US can be the engine that lifts the EU from its torpor.

I have felt for several years that after the Bubble burst, the US would be in for a prolonged period of flat growth. We've done better than that, but no one is ebullient. That, as much as anything else, is holding the country back. It might well be the same for the EU.


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