The European Model in Action

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 \AM\.\Wed\.

As I mentioned, I’m currently reading Thomas Geoghegan’s Were You Born on the Wrong Continent? Geoghegan’s day job is as a labor lawyer, so naturally there’s a good deal of discussion of German employment law practices and how they differ from America’s. At one point, for example, Geoghegan tries to explain the American system of employment at will to a group of German students:

I’d thought that, in the first class, I’d explain how, in the U.S., people could be fired for any reason at any time, or for no reason at all. “Here’s an example. I work for you for twenty-nine years, one year from retiring. One day I wear a yellow tie to work. You say, ‘I don’t like your tie. You’re fired.’ In the U.S., you can do that.”

The students are, understandably, incredulous, to the point that G is forced to backtrack a bit:

“Sure, we fire people for no reason, or for the color of their ties – yes, we do. But we don’t do it every day.”

It’s true that people don’t get fired every day for wearing a yellow tie. In fact, I’ve never heard of someone getting fired for wearing a yellow tie. The closest thing I can think of to the yellow tie story was a story from the 1990s in which a guy at a supermarket was fired for wearing a particular team jersey the day of the Superbowl (the owner was apparently a fan of the other team). That caused a decent sized stink; big enough that if something like the yellow tie incident were to occur, big as this country is, I think I would hear about it. Read the rest of this entry »


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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Senator Kay Hagan Just Does Not Get It

Saturday, August 21, 2010 \AM\.\Sat\.

Miss Kay Hagan is doing a poor job of defending the “merits” of ObamaCare to a mother who has sick children.  In addition to her sick children, her and her husbands benefits have been cut down or eliminated in order to comply with ObamaCare.

Yet Miss Hagan insists on pushing for more European style socialism.

(Hat Tip:  Culture War Notes)


When You Vote Democrat, Your Taxes Get Raised

Monday, May 31, 2010 \PM\.\Mon\.

The Governors office and both chambers of the Washington State legislature are currently under Democratic control. Years of spending on European style socialist programs have created a budget deficit. The Democrats have decided instead of cutting or trimming their state programs whey will instead add a beer tax (and more) to compensate for the budget shortfall.

Republicans don’t have all the answers either.  But you know (most times) it won’t be taxes that they turn to to solve a budget deficit.


Why the Fiscal Lunacy?

Monday, April 19, 2010 \AM\.\Mon\.

One of my favorite living historians is Victor Davis Hanson.  I have read every book he has written and most of his articles.  Trained as a classicist and historian of antiquity, he has written on a broad range of topics, from the hoplites of ancient Greece, ancient Greek agriculture, a searching examination of the Peloponnesian War, the farming crisis of the 80’s, the history of warfare and culture, the teaching of the classics and the debacle of our non-policy on immigration, and I have been astonished at how skillfully this man writes and with what intelligence, and very dry humor, he cuts to the essence of whatever subject he addresses.  He moonlights as a pundit on current events and in that capacity I have found a recent column of his intriguing on the question of just why the Obama administration is hellbent on compiling such huge annual deficits.  Here is a portion of the column:

We are going to pile up another $3 trillion in national debt in just the first two years of the Obama administration. If the annual deficit should sink below $1.5 trillion, it will be called fiscal sobriety.

Why, when we owe $12 trillion, would the Obama administration set out budgets that will ensure our collective debt climbs to $20 trillion? Why are we borrowing more money, when Medicare, Social Security, the Postal Service, Amtrak, etc. are all insolvent as it is?

What is the logic behind something so clearly unhinged?

I present seven alternative reasons — some overlapping — why the present government is hell-bent on doubling the national debt in eight years. Either one, or all, or some, or none, of the below explain Obama’s peculiar frenzied spending.

1) Absolutely moral and necessary?

The country is in need of massive more entitlements for our destitute and near to poor. Government is not big, but indeed too small to meet its moral obligations. Deficits are merely record-keeping. Throwing trillions into the economy will also help us all recover, by getting us moving again and inflating the currency. And we can pay the interest easily over the next 50 years. Just think another World War II era — all the time.

So big spending and borrowing are genuine efforts of true believers to make us safe, secure, and happy.

2) “Gorge the beast”

The spending per se is not so important, as the idea of deficits in general will ensure higher taxes. Nationalized health care, cap and trade, new initiatives in education, more stimulus — all that and more is less important than the fact that huge defects will require huge new taxes, primarily from the upper-classes. I see no reason why the total bite from state income, federal income, payroll, and health care taxes cannot soon in theory climb to 70% of some incomes (e.g., 10% state, 15.3% FICA, 40% federal, 3-5% health care). In other words, “redistributive change” is the primary goal. This aim is premised on the notion that income is a construct, if not unfairly calibrated, then at least capriciously determined — requiring the more intelligent in the technocracy to even out things and ensure an equality of result. After all, why should the leisured hedge-funder make all that more after taxes than the more noble waitress?

So big spending and borrowing mean big deficits, and that means taxing the greedy and giving their ill-gotten gains to the needy.

3) Big Brother?

Or does rampant borrowing for government spending reflect our despair over the inability of millions to know what is best for themselves? For democracy to work, all of us must fully participate. But because of endemic racism, sexism, class bias, and historical prejudices, millions of Americans do not have access to adequate education and enlightenment. Therefore, a particular technocratic class, with requisite skill and singular humanity, has taken it upon themselves to ensure everyone gets a fair shake — if only government at last has the adequate resources to fix things. If it proves problematic for one to register and vote, then there will be a program to make 100% participation possible. If some of us are too heavy and too chair-bound, we can be taught what and how to eat. If some of us do not study, we can adjust academic standards accordingly. In one does something unwise, like buying a plasma TV rather than a catastrophic health care plan, then we still can ensure he is covered. In other words, an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-moral guardian class requires resources to finish the promise of participatory America. After all, why would we allow the concrete contractor to “keep” 70% of his income only to blow it on worthless things like jet skis or a Hummer in his garage or a fountain in his yard — when a far wiser, more ethical someone like Van Jones could far more logically put that now wasted capital to use for the betterment of the far more needy?

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Consequences of the Love of Equality

Saturday, March 27, 2010 \PM\.\Sat\.

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Volume Two, Part Four, Chapter Six: What Kind of Despotism Democratic Nations Have to Fear:

I see an innumerable crowd of like and equal men who revolve on themselves without repose, procuring the small and vulgar pleasures with which they fill their souls. Each of them, withdrawn and apart, is like a stranger to the destiny of all the others: his children and his particular friends form the whole human species for him; as for dwelling with his fellow citizens, he is beside them, but he does not see them; he touches them and does not feel them; he exists only in himself and for himself alone, and if a family still remains for him, one can at least say that he no longer has a native country.

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Senator Nelson Sells Out Unborn, Health Care Bill Heads to Vote

Saturday, December 19, 2009 \PM\.\Sat\.

(Updates at the bottom of this article.)

Harry Reid was able to make huge concessions to the state of Nebraska and bought Senator Ben Nelson’s vote a la Mary Landrieu.  The vote seems headed to the floor with all 60 votes secured to impose on American’s draconian laws that would hike insurance rates and begin the downward slope towards European style socialism.

Nelson secured full federal funding for his state to expand Medicaid coverage to all individuals below 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Other states must pay a small portion of the additional cost. He won concessions for qualifying nonprofit insurers and for Medigap providers from a new insurance tax. He also was able to roll back cuts to health savings accounts.

What’s in the bill that I’m aware of?  I’ve broken down the Washington Post article almost verbatim below:

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