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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

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.

Read the rest of this entry »


A Nation of Immigrants

Thursday, August 12, 2010 \AM\.\Thu\.

Recently there has been a fair amount of discussion over whether the U.S. should continue to grant “birthright citizenship” to the children of illegal immigrants born in the United States. The Fourteenth Amendment has long been held to require the granting of such citizenship, and last month Senator Lindsey Graham proposed a Constitutional Amendment to change that fact.

The issue has led to a few topsy-turvy political conclusions. Here, for example is Mark Krikorian (author of The New Case Against Immigration: Legal and Illegal) arguing that ending birthright citizenship would be a bad idea:

I don’t like illegals having U.S.-citizen kids any more than anyone else, but there’s no evidence suggesting that this “drop and leave” stuff is true — anything’s possible, I suppose, but it’s just an assertion at this point. My own sense is that most illegal alien women who have kids here (accounting for nearly 10 percent of all children born in the U.S. each year) didn’t come for that purpose; they came for jobs or to join relatives, and one thing led to another, birds-and-bees style, and they had kids. There are no doubt some people who dash across the border illegally to have kids, but they just can’t amount to a large share of the problem. Nor does the problem of “birth tourism” require a change in the Constitution — we just need to permit (and require) our consular officers to reject visa applications from pregnant women, inviting them to re-apply once they’ve given birth in their own countries.

And here is open-borders advocate Will Wilkinson arguing that ending birthright citizenship could paradoxically make Americans more open to immigrants: Read the rest of this entry »