Is Europe Destroying The Middle Class?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 \PM\.\Tue\.

As a follow up to Darwin’s post, I think it’s important to note that what the Financial Times calls the Great Stagnation is not just limited to the United States. Growth slowed throughout the developed world after 1973, and in fact slowed more in Europe than it has in America.

Here, for example, is a bit of an article from before the current crisis about wage stagnation and the decline of the middle class in Europe:

The European dream is under assault, as the wave of inflation sweeping the globe mixes with this continent’s long-stagnant wages. Families that once enjoyed Europe’s vaunted quality of life are pinching pennies to buy necessities, and cutting back on extras like movies and vacations abroad.

Potentially more disturbing — especially to the political and social order — are the millions across the continent grappling with the realization that they may have lives worse, not better, than their parents.

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How Europe Sees America

Monday, October 4, 2010 \AM\.\Mon\.

Click on the above map to be able to read it.  The original of the map is here.  Tito had a post yesterday here with a map depicting how America views Europe.  Ambrose “Bitter” Bierce in the 19th Century said that war was God’s way of teaching Americans geography.  Unfortunately, the lessons do not appear to stick.  However, the Europeans are often not that better informed about us.

For example, I have always enjoyed reading the English historian Paul Johnson, and have read almost every book he has written.  Therefore, I was dismayed when reading his history of the US to encounter quite a few factual errors, including his inability to distinguish between Albert Sydney Johnston and Joseph Johnston in the Civil War, and his apparent belief that it was the Texas Rangers and not Army Rangers who landed at Utah Beach on Normandy.

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A Map Of How Americans View Europe

Sunday, October 3, 2010 \PM\.\Sun\.

This is a somewhat humorous map of how Americans view Europe.

A Geography of Prejudice is one way of calling what Yanko Tsvetkov created.

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Taxes, American Style

Monday, September 27, 2010 \AM\.\Mon\.

A while back Harvard economist Greg Mankiw caused a bit of a kerfufle when he noted that the amount of tax revenues raised by the United States per capita wasn’t much different than the amount raised in Europe. Tax rates in the United States are lower than in Europe, but per capita income is also higher in America, and the two facts seem to largely cancel each other out. Here, for example, are the per capita tax revenues for a handful of developed countries:

France .461 x 33,744 = 15,556
Germany .406 x 34,219 = 13,893
UK .390 x 35,165 = 13,714
US .282 x 46,443 = 13,097
Canada .334 x 38,290 = 12,789
Italy .426 x 29,290 = 12,478
Spain .373 x 29,527 = 11,014

Now granted, European countries tend to spend their tax revenues differently than we do in the U.S. For example, we spend more on defense, whereas they spend more on welfare. However, to some extent Europe’s apparently larger welfare state is an optical illusion. It looks bigger than it is, because the rest of the economy is so small.

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Burleigh Defends the Pope

Friday, September 17, 2010 \AM\.\Fri\.

My second favorite living historian, Michael Burleigh, who has written stunningly original works on subjects as diverse as Nazi Germany, religion and politics in the last two centuries,  terrorism, and morality and World War II,  has taken up the cudgels against the despicable attitude of many Brits of the chattering classes regarding the visit of the Pope to the Island next to Ireland.

Under normal circumstances, one might say “welcome” rather than “receive”. But the multiple sexual scandals that have afflicted parts of the Catholic Church have created a window of opportunity for sundry chasers of limelight – including human rights militants, crusading gays, Islamist fanatics, and celebrity God-botherers – to band together to “arrest” the Pope under laws so obscure that few knew they existed. Because child abuse is involved, rather than the more widespread phenomenon of homosexual predation on young men, these manifestations will receive much media attention, especially from the BBC, to the guaranteed perplexity of a less involved general public in a nominally Protestant country. It will require some effort of mind to tune out this noise to hear what the Pope will be saying.

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German Economist: America Is Becoming Too European

Friday, September 3, 2010 \PM\.\Fri\.

I found this piece from the English-language edition of Der Spiegel by University of Hamburg economics professor Thomas Straughaar very interest, in part because it reads very much as written by someone who is looking at American history and culture from the outside, yet trying to understand it for what it is. A key passage from the second page:

This raises a crucial question: Is the US economy perhaps suffering less from an economic downturn and more from a serious structural problem? It seems plausible that the American economy has lost its belief in American principles. People no longer have confidence in the self-healing forces of the private sector, and the reliance on self-help and self-regulation to solve problems no longer exists.

The opposite strategy, one that seeks to treat the American patient with more government, is risky — because it does not fit in with America’s image of itself.

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The Ground Zero Mosque Controversy

Thursday, July 15, 2010 \PM\.\Thu\.

This is a viral video sweeping the Internet by a group opposing the building of the Ground Zero Mosque.

The Muslims wanting to build the mosque have their reasons of putting on the face of a peaceful and moderate Islam, but the venue they have chosen couldn’t have been any worse.

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