The Euro Crisis and the Return of Culture

eff6f2c4300ff7e790414467490de6b3_viewHere comes John O. Mcginnis telling us that Greek culture is not compatible with the European Union (EU). Frankly, I find it difficult to disagree with him. Europe is many things, and not a few of them are so different as to be nearly beyond comparison. In many ways, it strikes me as teaming a thoroughbred horse with an ox, neither performs to its potential, in fact it is often less effective than either alone. Here’s a bit of the article.

At least so far, however, The End of History has collided with history. Much of the Islamic world has not gotten the message. To be sure,  the fall of the Soviet Union has led to many ex-communist states with an admirable commitment to law and the kind of economics that gains long-term prosperity.   But there remains Russia, where democracy seems incapable of sustaining a loyal opposition, the state looms as leviathan, and the economy has large elements of a kleptocracy. Readers of Russian history should not be surprised. Richard Pipes has long argued that since the 15th century, Russian culture has been marked by disdain for rights of property and an enthusiasm for a patrimonial regime with little separation between state and economic and civic society.

But nothing better represents the failure of Fukuyama’s thesis than plight of Euro and the Greek crisis. The Euro was the monetary representation of history’s end in the birthplace of the West. Created by no single state, it was thought to advance markets by reducing commercial frictions in  the most cosmopolitan part of the world.  It was also part of a larger political project of deepening the union of European states.

The Euro Crisis and the Return of Culture.

True enough, I think, the cultural divides are pretty high between say Norway, Spain, and Greece aren’t they? It’s more than the weather, we’ve all been shaped by our history.

Writing in National Review, John Fund also has some thoughts.

Today’s referendum doesn’t have winners and losers,” claimed Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipris. That’s absurd. I can name one clear loser.

It should now be obvious to the Eurocrats in Brussels that their grand project of an increasingly centralized and integrated European super-state will be rejected every time that ordinary people are somehow given a chance to vote on it. If they represented a normal national government, the Eurocrats would resign in shame and embarrassment.

The Dutch, French, and Irish all voted against European super-state treaties, although the Irish were bribed into voting a second time and eking out a yes. The Danes, Swiss, and Norwegians all voted to not join the European Union. Now the Greek people, although many of them profess that they still want to be part of the EU, have effectively blown up any chance they can continue using the euro, the linchpin of the EU’s monetary policy.

Beware of Greeks Casting Blame

It strikes me that Europe just contains too many different ethos, ethics, and desires for one overall government to contain them, unless of course, it is so powerless to be meaningless. That is not what the EU looks like to me. It looks like an unelected élite that wants to institutionalize the worst of everyone into a government that will not satisfy anyone at all.

The Greek situation has no real solution, that will be acceptable to both the Greeks and the anybody else. That’s because Margaret Thatcher, diagnosed the problem long ago. Yes, it applies to all of Europe (and the United States as well).

The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money

EU Preps for War Against the Internet: Decides to Lose Again

AAEAAQAAAAAAAANYAAAAJGU4MmZmYjg2LTg5NjQtNDFiNS04MWRkLTcwZmMyNmY0M2RkMAWell, this is interesting, although not very surprising, really. Does anybody really think that Europe (especially Germany and France) can compete with the US on a level playing field? No, me neither. The UK, maybe, but nobody else has a chance, and if good sense ever breaks out in the ruling clique in Britain (or they lose the election) they’ll likely get with the program and with their friends and run away from Europe, again.

I say that because I’ve noticed something. If you look at European technical prowess, especially innovation, in anything from civil engineering to the internet, you’ll find the British leading, and everybody else following, while they whine about ‘the Anglo-Saxons’.

They’re right, as well. The American Interest noted today that the EU wants to regulate Google et. al., much more than they do.

THE EU VS SILICON VALLEY

EU Preps for War Against the Internet

EU Preps for War Against the Internet – The American Interest.

As an aside, I’m no huge fan of Google, I think they’re more than a bit intrusive, and I’m not overfond of their data mining and selling my information to all and sundry. But you know what, I use Google products because they work, I don’t have to. There are other providers, just as I no longer use Microsoft products. But it’s remarkable that a company that started in an American garage a few years ago has all Europe scared of them :)

Maybe I’m just old-fashioned but I hope they do. Why? because if they do, the US will simply increase our lead over the hidebound, over-regulated Europeans, while the best Europeans will again come to America where they can innovate much more freely than they can at home. (And make us still richer, and more innovative!)

Funny thing, isn’t it? We’ve built this powerhouse of a country (not that we don’t have plenty of problems, ourselves) on the freedom to try new things and see if you can make a living with them. We’ve done this since about 1650,nd we have built the most powerful economy in the world, and protect it with the most dominant military the world has ever seen with our pocket change. We’ve done this by letting people try and fail, and try and fail, and finally try and succeed.

It’s a hard model. It’s follows from that old saying about the Oregon Trail, “The weak never started and the sick died along the way,” But, you know, there was nearly always someone around to feed the hungry and nurse the sick, and the dead got a decent burial. And the ones that made it, built a world that their grandfathers couldn’t have imagined, where one of the consequences of being poor is being too fat, because you eat too much while playing video games.

I don’t condone such a lifestyle but I’m in awe at a system that can take a world that nearly starved for billions of years and in a few generations make that happen.

And that is what America has done, with some British help (and gold) and with the people who were stifled by Europe. It’s a logarithmic curve, if you haven’t noticed, constantly accelerating, if we keep going there is no way to know where we’ll be in twenty-five years, let alone a hundred.

Carroll Bryant once said:

Some people make things happen.

Some people watch things happen.

And then there are those who wonder, ‘What the hell just happened?”

I know where I want to be. How about you?

Why is localism important? | AECR

For us as Americans there is nothing new or novel about what is stated here. We are inclined to refer to it by its third name: Federalism. And as such it is one of the principles our founders used to help us maintain our freedom.

It’s interesting, I think, that one of the things the statist have done is to centralize power in Washington where they can mandate things and we (the people) have much less influence than their buddies in business, big labor, and yes, big law. That undoubtedly leads to corruption on a vast scale, here as it does in Europe.

So, while there is nothing new here, it does a very good job of stating the elementary reasons why local control of almost everything is such a good safeguard for the average citizen.

How subsidiarity inspires civic engagement – and thereby good democracy

Where Conservative governance is, in a word, subsidiarity; Socialist governance is centralisation. The AECR’s Reykjavik Declaration explains how subsidiarity “favours the exercise of power at the lowest practicable level – by the individual where possible, by local or national authorities in preference to supranational bodies.” […]

One only has to participate in a European election campaign to hear the number of pleas about “the pot holes down the lane”…

… and a true Conservative never patronises this! Here we find the Burkean heart of subsidiarity: the love and reverence of the local. It does not presume to impose principles from a centralised high tower. Socialism is so determined on redistribution between localities that it reductively quantifies them, not caring to truly look at them. When fairness is measured numerically, communities are soon reduced to numbers, before an alien hand from the centre reaches in and unintentionally desecrates.

Why is localism important? | AECR.

Immigration Follies; UK Style

From the  misery loves company file:

Here’s the linked story:

A high-flying academic who travels the world as a Government adviser is set to be deported from Britain under ‘barmy’ new visa laws – because she is out of the country more than 180 days a year.

Dr Miwa Hirono, 38, is originally from Japan but has been living in the UK since becoming a lecturer at the University of Nottingham seven years ago.

The world-renowned academic’s work – which helps the UK Government to set foreign policy – requires her to spend long spells working in China and Africa.

Set to be deported: Miwa Hirono with her husband, Peter Trebilco, 61, and one-year-old son Tada, must leave Britain under 'barmy' new visa laws

In 2009 and 2010 she spent around 200 days abroad researching China’s foreign peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.

But Home Office immigration laws now state that people working in the UK on a migrant visa cannot be out of the country for more than 180 days each year.

And despite the fact Dr Hirono does research for a Government-funded organisation and her baby son was born in Britain, the Home Office has decided to deport her.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3004399/Academic-travels-world-government-adviser-set-deported-country-visa.html#ixzz3UyHzVflh
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Isn’t it wonderful to know that the cousins are about as screwed up in immigration policy as we are?

There are a few things here, in no particular order

  1. Anchor baby? What’s an anchor baby? Her personal life and well-being is no concern of HM Government. Let’s see, a Japanese mother, an Australian father and an English baby, where do deport that family to? Or do you split them up like the slave traders used to do?
  2. Did you catch that she is a world-class scholar that the university brought in to help their students? On a fellowship, no less.
  3. She was so good that they offered her a permanent job. But screw the students, they don’t need world-class scholars at the University of Nottingham, anyhow. Anybody think understanding the Chinese isn’t going to be important in the next fifty years? Other than the British government, I mean.
  4. She also does work for the government that required her to spend large amounts of time out of the country.
  5. She’s good enough that one of her papers in on the website of HM Embassy in Beijing.
  6. This (so-called) violation took place in 2010.
  7. The law was passed in 2012.

Six and seven are the very definition of an ex post facto law, you do something completely legal, later they pass a law making it illegal and then prosecute you for doing what was legal when you did it. The Brits have a history of this nonsense which is why Article 1 of the US Constitution says plainly in section 9

No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

and in section 10

No state shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of credit; make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, or grant any title of nobility.

I’d guess as a layman, that one could make due process arguments about this with precedents stretching all the way back to Magna Charta as well. It’s why our constitution is so important.

I suppose we should note that the British let in the dregs of all Europe with hardly a whimper, thanks to the European Union, and the fact that Britain is (and always has been) one of the most prosperous countries in Europe. Just like we do, with less cause, on our southern border.

Wow, just wow!

 

Bravery and Cowardice; France and the World

150107223804-31-paris-reax-0107-large-169I was going to write this post about the despicable act yesterday in Paris but, I decided it wasn’t really an article in it. Why? Because it shouldn’t have been a surprise.

Yes, those cartoonists were very brave men. But they shouldn’t have had to be. If Europe really believed in free speech those cartoons would have been published in every major paper, not in one brave lonely paper. I carry no brief for their cartoons, most of their work I’ve seen, I find disgusting. Free speech is like that. As I said yesterday, “Free speech is inherently the right to offend, otherwise it has no purpose.” So I didn’t follow their work, but I supported their right to publish it, just as Voltaire said.

And so right now Europe, and especially France, is all fired up about the Islamic threat, or at least its terrorist component. Even enough in a few cases to overcome its PC scruples. That’s good, if Europe is to survive, it needs to. But how long will it last? A week, a month, a year? I’m not optimistic. We (and the Anglosphere) have been actively engaged for more than fourteen years. Where are the French, the Spaniards, to a point the Germans, and the Italians?

Waiting, I guess for John Bull, and Uncle Sugar to save their rights (that we provided them, in the first place) once again. Well, if we learned (relearned, really) nothing else in Afghanistan, it’s that we can’t make people free, they have to do it themselves.

And that’s the one thing Europe can’t seem to do. It can’t seem to care about anything or anyone enough to guarantee anything, especially long-term.

There was an interesting article in Commentary magazine last week. It started with noting that Europe was having trouble deciding what to do with abandoned churches.

This lack of religious belief may well also be related to why Europeans are choosing to have so few children. According to the CIA world factbook EU countries have an average birth rate of just 1.55 children per woman, and in countries such as Italy, Germany, Greece, and Austria that goes down to about 1.42 births per woman. And these are figures which are undoubtedly inflated by the higher birth rate of immigrant groups; among native Europeans the numbers are still lower.

For Europeans, it seems the absence of belief extends beyond religion into the realms of other traditional identities. As Annika Hernroth-Rothstein explains in a recent piece for Israel Hayom, Europeans have been increasingly choosing against national identities in general. Rothstein writes of how in Europe in the wake of the Holocaust: “nation-states and national identity have been deemed the culprit and the key to the dark European history that brought on such unparalleled suffering. The old was replaced with the new; a cultural relativism where no tradition, belief or state should stake a claim on any moral high ground. All ideas and cultures became equally unimportant compared to the globalist, multicultural ideal.”

And that is pretty much a cultural suicide note.

In this Europe where there is nothing worth believing in, nothing worth dying for—and perhaps nothing worth living for, given the birth rate—it is little wonder that Europeans now take the view on foreign policy that they do.

Europe Is Losing Its Soul – Commentary Magazine Commentary Magazine.

Oh, you needn’t expect to be troubled by these cartoons–our so-called free press which endlessly brags about how brave they are, is too terrorized to show them to you. I’d laugh at them but I’m too busy crying at their perfidy.

It’s a pretty sad epitaph, isn’t it? Died of apathy. But for today, we can truly say, perhaps for the last time, in sympathy, “We are all French!” (Thanks to Sarah Churchwell for the reminder.)

 

Election Economics 101; US and a little UK as well.

thobamaThe other day, Dan Hannan wrote on how much better Britain would be doing if it was not in the EU. Economically, yes, but in other ways as well, which are arguably more important. At least I think they are, although if I was trying to make a living in Britain, my priorities might be different, although given my outlook, I wouldn’t bet a lot on that. I’m one of those radical Americans that believe freedom is more important than nearly everything, and the EU is inimical to freedom.

Here’s some of Dan’s article:

1. Autonomous trade policy
Europe is the only continent in the world that is not experiencing economic growth, and Britain is the only EU state that sells more to non-members than to members. We are thus especially badly hit by the EU’s Common External Tariff, which sunders us from our commercial hinterland. Again and again, we have been unable to benefit from free trade because the common European position must take account of French film-makers, Italian textile companies, Austrian farmers and what have you. Norway and Switzerland, being in EFTA, recently signed free trade agreements with China. Britain can’t. Given that China grew by 7.7 per cent in 2013 while the EU shrank by 0.3 per cent, I’d say that’s a major disadvantage. Just look at this chart of where we’ll be in three years’ time.

 

Via Nine things David Cameron could bring back from Brussels to satisfy Eurosceptics – Telegraph Blogs.

OK, I hear you saying, so what, that’s Britain. Well yes, aside from the fact that I have a certain number of British readers, I want to point out the IMF number on where our economy ranks with the others as well. The other thing I want to note, as Dan did, and we’ll talk more about, the EU is dying, In a lot of cases, it almost looks like it is living off of Britain, and if Britain leaves, it’s going to be in real trouble.

Why? Well if I read right the other day, if you do your tax planning wrong in France these days, your tax bill can be about 105%, I can’t speak for anybody else but I wouldn’t work very hard to make a dollar if when I did I had to pay the government $1.05 for the privilege. That’s why so many people are leaving France.

But we aren’t doing all that well either, for all Obama’s bragging. We’re surely better than Europe but that saying almost nothing good. Here’s a bit of an article from Dan Mitchell yesterday.

[…]

Here are some blurbs from a Bloomberg report about the President’s remarks on that issue.

A month before congressional elections, President Barack Obama is making an appeal to American pride in promoting his economic policies, arguing that the U.S. is outpacing the recovery in other nations. …“The United States has put more people back to work than Europe, Japan, and every other advanced economy combined.” Obama said. …economies in Europe and Japan are sluggish. The recovery for the euro area – including France and Italy – stalled, with gross domestic product unchanged, from the first quarter to the second, according to Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg. Japan contracted by the most in more than five years, with GDP shrinking an annualized 7.1 percent, data from the government Cabinet Office in Tokyo show. …Jason Furman, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers…called Obama’s emphasis on the relative strength of the U.S. economy “useful context to compare to other countries that are facing similar challenges.”

I don’t know if the White House is correct on every specific claim, but it’s definitely true that the United States is out-pacing Europe.

Here are a couple of charts I found with a quick search. We’ll start with one comparing GDP performance. It’s not as up-to-date as the one I shared back in June, but it does a good job of showing how our cousins across the ocean are falling behind.

And here’s another chart I found showing how Europe also is lagging on employment.

And I can also say from personal experience, based on my trips to various conferences, that Europeans look at the American economy with envy. Heck, they even think 1 percent growth is a reason for celebration!

Which should give you an idea of how bad the outlook is in Europe.

After all, the United States is experiencing the weakest economic expansion since the Great Depression. Yet compared to European nations like France and Italy, we’re a powerhouse.

Via Obama Is Right about the European Economy…

Meanwhile John Hinderaker over at Powerline Blog reminds us that the Democrats are running on the recovery. Personally I think they should be running away from such a botched recovery but, I suppose when you think all good things come from Europe. Here’s a bit of that

[…]

President Obama boasted in a speech yesterday that by any measure, the economy today is better than when he took office.

I should hope so! Obama took office shortly after the financial collapse of September 2008, in the depth of a recession. The stimulus, as you no doubt recall, was supposed to get the economy back on its feet. The problem we have today is not that we are in an even worse recession than in January 2009–God forbid–but that the current recovery is the worst one ever, by a wide margin. This graph, which I posted a few days ago, tells the story:

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 3.48.00 PM

As for the September jobs report, was it anything to crow about? Pre-Obama, a 5.9% unemployment rate was considered unacceptably high. The average unemployment rate during the George W. Bush administration was 5.3%. Moreover, most people have figured out that the official unemployment rate has been dropping primarily because Americans are leaving the labor force. Is the latest report a sign of some real awakening of the jobs market, that will make voters more optimistic over the next 30 days?

I doubt it. The September report says that the number of those not in the labor force increased by another 315,000 last month. […]

Via WILL YESTERDAY’S JOBS REPORT BOOST DEMOCRATS?

The “dismal science” wasn’t nearly as dismal back when Reagan was President, was it?

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