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Thursday, February 16, 2006


The Big Picture

Zakaria: The Decline and Fall of Europe

Unlike his support for the war in Iraq, I think Zakaria is right on the money here.

-- Mahashunyam // 1:37 AM // 16 comments


Comments:

What a load of crap. Whoever this Anti European buffoon is, he has missed the clear issue. Fuel prices will rise. And then rise a whole lot more. Everything else will be overshadowed by this.

The suburbanisation of America will be recognised as the most apalling waste of natural resources in history.

Europe, which has...

1. a much better transport infrastructure
2. a shorter food/consumer distance ratio

...will survive this long emergency far better than the US will.

It will also be very interesting to see how the US copes with the ticking timebomb of health, medicine and an aging population. The vast majority of Europe has adapted to a state system that no longer reaps the financial benefits of recently outlawed slavery.

But the whole article is misguided. It only values income. So what if 40% of swedes 'could' be termed low income in the US. I would bet my last penny that every one of them has a better quality of life, eats better food, has better healthcare, and lives a damn site longer than their American equivalent.

Americans just dont get it do you? You are being fed bullshit. EU massive farm subsidies? 3% of EU budget is massive? The only reason the Americans are making such a big deal about this is because they know that there is no way they will be able to remove benefits for US farmers until they can say 'look, they are doing it, so should we.'

This piece in particular made me laugh:

"Europe's position in institutions like the World Bank and the IMF relates to its share of world GDP. Its dwindling defense spending weakens its ability to be a military partner of the U.S., or to project military power abroad even for peacekeeping purposes. Its cramped, increasingly protectionist outlook will further sap its vitality."

Once again we have this blinkered view that money=weapons=authority=dominance

The world just isnt like that. Power and influence can not be imposed now in the same ways as the past because information flows a lot more freely now. Perhaps a hundred years ago the US could have taken over/liberated Iraq. Will they now? I very much doubt it.

you want to see another example of how money=weapons=authority=dominance is failing? Check out Microsoft. And consider the open source software movement.

The term superpower is fast becoming redundant. If the struggle against power truly is the struggle of memory against forgetting, then it would make sense for the US to do all they can to copyright and patent all they can. Will that work though? and if you dont think so does that make you a damn liberal, a socialist, a communist or a terrorist?
// Anonymous john // 4:31 AM
 

Zakaria says the world is mainly governed by cash (understand not by ideas) and indeed my fellow europeans are still lumbered with the Freudian ego culture notably when it's a matter of living with/through the globalization.
// Anonymous Ray CHOW // 12:16 PM
 

with all due respect when you are as wrong as Fred was over Iraq you shout STFU for while and try and think not explain why a region that cares about people slightly more than other places

the article is so stupid its not even worth debunking
// Anonymous Jeremy // 12:41 PM
 

with all due respect when you are as wrong as Fred was over Iraq you should STFU for while and try and think not explain why a region that cares about people slightly more than other places

the article is so stupid its not even worth debunking
// Anonymous jeremy // 12:43 PM
 

Fareed confuses me. He seems to be a conservative in liberal clothing. I've always thought this of him, specially since his support for the debacle that is the war in Iraq.

Unlike most right wingers, Fareed actually appears to look at facts and figures to back up his rhetoric.

I think his arguments look at Europe as declining while assuming the United States will remain strong. I think the gig is up for the US, with the spread of easy access (and more importantly, diversified) media sources. the days of the US as the friendly giant that selflessly spreads democracy and peace around the world are at an end. The truth about the US, the lies and illusions, the military-industrial complex, etc., are all finally becoming apparent. If more people read Chomsky, this would've been revealed long ago.
// Blogger dhd // 7:25 PM
 

OK, without resorting to name-calling or emotional arguments, here's my analysis (let's not consider UK as part of Europe for the purposes of this post):

1.Decline of Europe is orthogonal to rise/decline of the US. The US may decline/maintain status quo/rise, but that is not the point here.

2.I buy into Fareed's core thesis of decline of Europe. My premise is that we're going to see only two types of society flourish economically, and therefore socio-culturally and politically:
- Those that have created highly liberal, multicultural and diverse urban centers that are talent magnets where post-industrial creative economies will flourish. This is the Richard Florida argument that I've mentioned earlier: http://www.bubblegeneration.com/2005/06/big-picture-immigrants-in-canada-have.cfm
The winners here are US, Canada, Singapore, UK, and perhaps Oz.
- Those that are capitalizing on massive and hitoric structural shifts in demography, economic liberalization etc. These are the BRIC (http://www.gs.com/insight/research/reports/99.pdf) and perhaps South Africa. All stars have aligned for these countries, and their moment in sun has arrived. They are unstoppable.

Europe fails on both of these counts. It's a has-been continent that does not procreate enough nor does it know how to make itself attractive to non-whites or non-christians and integrate them into its social fabric.

The biggest canard is this false dichotomy between free markets and social welfare. Europeans still have not learnt that you can balance both, and create a nice, liberal, and economically non-dysfunctional utopia for everyone. My favourite model for socio-economic progress is Canada: I think the world has a lot to learn from Canadians. For all its warts and macro problems, Canada has perfected the art of building a caring society that is open to all while having a free market economy. Imagine NY, LA, Boston and SF without the jingoism, homeless or real estate costs and with free healthcare in a coutry that is practically void of Jesus Freaks! The Economist made the same point when it upheld Canada as an alternate model of development compared to the US, perhaps one that works better in practice. Here's that survey:
http://www.economist.com/surveys/displaystory.cfm?story_id=E1_VNQPNQN

"MEASURED by almost any standard you care to think of, Canada is a success story. Apart from being physically beautiful, politically stable and socially tolerant, it is rich. Canadians enjoy the sixth-highest GDP per head in the OECD, which makes them better off than the Japanese, Germans and French.�"

And this was before we discovered that Alberta potentially has more oil than Saudi Arabia.
// Blogger Mahashunyam // 1:49 AM
 

Well, I had to look up what orthogonal means, and I am still not too sure. If your point is that whatever happens in the US, Europe is the issue here. Well, then you are kind of missing the point. If the EU drops five percent, and the US drops five percent - are the EU really in a worse position? I have reread that original post again, and I still cant see anything in that post which the USA are immune to.


2.I buy into Fareed's core thesis of decline of Europe. My premise is that we're going to see only two types of society flourish economically, and therefore socio-culturally and politically:
- Those that have created highly liberal, multicultural and diverse urban centers that are talent magnets where post-industrial creative economies will flourish. This is the Richard Florida argument that I've mentioned earlier: http://www.bubblegeneration.com/2005/06/big-picture-immigrants-in-canada-have.cfm
The winners here are US, Canada, Singapore, UK, and perhaps Oz.

- Those that are capitalizing on massive and hitoric structural shifts in demography, economic liberalization etc. These are the BRIC (http://www.gs.com/insight/research/reports/99.pdf) and perhaps South Africa. All stars have aligned for these countries, and their moment in sun has arrived. They are unstoppable.

I am really baffled by the paragraph that begins 'Europe fails on both of these counts. It's a has been...'

Anyone have the statistics for growth rate in the US? I doubt that it is much worse than in Europe. Sure there are areas of Europe that are shrinking, but the same is happening in parts of the US. Will anyone be left in North America in twenty years? Of course there will. The same goes for Europe. It seems odd to me that the US can play the immigration card, but doesnt consider Europe can. Or.... suggests that Europe does not "know how to make itself attractive to non-whites or non-christians and integrate them into its social fabric."

Europe fails on both of these counts. It's a has-been continent that does not procreate enough nor does it know how to make itself attractive to non-whites or non-christians and integrate them into its social fabric.

I am also baffled that you think Europeans have no understanding of the balance between free markets and social welfare. I think Americans dont really understand the term social welfare. Pick the most succesful free market social welfare economy on earth, now the second, the third, the fourth, and the fifth. Which continent are they in?

Canada is great. I am completely with you on that. But it dont come anywhere close to Finland, Sweden, Norway, the Uk, or France, or Denmark, or Germany,...

Most of the oil in Canada will cost so much to extract that it will remain in the ground.

ps. Also I think you should consider the world's fourth largest economy as a part of Europe. To not do so is unfair to Europeans, and Brits.
// Anonymous john // 2:36 AM
 

ps. Also I think you should consider the world's fourth largest economy as a part of Europe.

Well, not so anymore:

"China overtakes UK with Japan and Germany in its sights"
http://www.guardian.co.uk/china/story/0,,1694832,00.html

And that is my point.

Europe's losing at a pace that Europeans seem to be unaware of. And it is orthogonal to the US, in the sense that even if the US declines, the benefits will flow to the BRIC or Singapore or whoever but not to the EU. The EU is basially in a secular decline, which may be temporarily halted if it imports population from Eastern Europe by letting those countries in, but in the long term can only be fixed if Europe can learn to stop being anti-entrepreneurial and also refashion itself as a *real* multicultural post-ethnic society after shedding the xenophobia and racism that seems to be pervasive in Europe today. Just look at how many non-white non-European CEOs and entrepreneurs you find in EU compared to those in California.

The only reason why I took UK out of this is because UK is socio-culturally and economically a lot closer to the US/Canada than Europe so my analysis is more applicable to continental Europe. I don't think the UK will decline, mainly becuase London is a global financial center and the UK is a lot more open to immigrants and entrepreneurship than Europe is. Nothing speaks to this better than the fact that a brown Hindu Indian like Lakshmi Mittal can create a global steel empire living in the UK, while continental Europeans dislike him because of his race. If he were a Sikh living in France, he would not even be allowed to practice his religion due to the abominably racist and xenophobic ban on wearing turbans, for example. To see this stark difference between the UK and rest of EU, and relate it to the Richard Florida argument, read this:
http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110007923
// Blogger Mahashunyam // 3:34 AM
 

Mahasunyam where do you live I am genuinely interested?

Fareed is the worst of all *liberals* in that he isn't one at all. He is a neocon in the sense that he believes America is the greatest nation on earth and never wrong, that is the starting point for any of his *analysis*. Whuch is why Zakaria wrote tens of thousands of words explaining why Bsh was right in Iraq and how lucky the people of Iraq were to be bombed for greed.

Yes Europeans have lower birth rates. But we gave also had the enlightenment. America is slipping into a country run by religious crazies. Quite how it will maintain its lead in scienece when you have to go to court to get the religious crazies to get Darwin taught is beyond me.

In terms of quality of life for all Europe is so far ahead of America it is ludicrous for people to go America is ahead. But whatever, if the top 1% of Americans pull away who cares? Europe has Gallileo and other advanced science etc and the US economy cannot spend $450bn a year on the army and $5bn a month in Iraq indefinitely.
// Anonymous Jeremy // 6:53 AM
 

by they from todays NYT... I could call it why America will fail
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/17/business/17walmart.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

I was reminded of Carl Icahn's management/moronic theory that is killing America

Icahn laid out his view of a typical CEO's ascendancy in the corporation: The future CEO is similar to the president of a college fraternity -- a likeable fellow who is politically astute, but unlikely to take bold actions. The CEO is a survivor who is able to rise through the ranks at a corporation by never offending anyone, even if that comes at a cost to shareholders. And because they are not the type to rock the boat, rising CEOs are selected and groomed by incumbent CEOs who do not perceive them as a threat. "You have survival of the unfittest," said Icahn.

http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/index.cfm?fa=viewArticle&id=1392
// Anonymous jeremy // 8:07 AM
 

I post up a comment of this discussion
about 2 or 3 days ago and now its not here...

What happened?

I didnt use any rude language whatsoever, so can one of editors explain me why my comment isn't here?
// Anonymous Ricardo Proen� // 4:46 PM
 

Hi Ricardo,

I think Blogger ate your comment - we very rarely delete comments. Here it is reposted:

***

First of all let me say that you write a very good blog. Its one of my favourites!!

I'm Portuguese,hence my country is a, proud, member of European Union (EU).

About the article, I think Zakarya talks about some of the challenges EU is facing currently (aging, immigration issues, Building a stronger knowledge economy,etc), but these issues are already being adressed by the EU Comission and leaders of the member countries, althought there are some different views on what is the best approach to take facing these problems.
(This is the only part of the article that is intellectualy honest)

The second part of the article is when Zakarya starts to make comparisons about US an EU - and that is the part when Zakarya shows he is being intellectualy dishonest.

When you make a comparison between
US and EU you have to put up a big
WARNING note saying "check EU and European continent history for further enlightment on
this comparison". Why?

1.EU is not a country. It is an association of 27 nation states. US is a single nation state.

2.Althougth EU has a single currency(the EURO)only 14 of the EU nation states have adopt it. The Euro was born 5 years ago (2001). US has a single currency, the dollar, since 1792.

3.EU is regarded primarily as an economic union however there's no european tax or single european stock market, and political economy is fully, or almost fully, in the dependance of each nation state, except for monetary policy wich is held by the European Central Bank. I think I have no need to say that US is a fully integrated economic space.

4. EU is not a country it is an association of nation states, so people dont see it as country, they see it has an insitution. This institution is 51 years old. US is a country, with a history has a country, not has an institution, with more than 200 years old.

5. There is no european culture so to say it, the european culture is the sum of the culture of the people that comprises EU based on the common values of democracy. There is
an American culture, and american values ("the american way of life" or "the american dream")

6. EU territory was ravaged by 2 World Wars, one of them ended only
61 years ago. Those wars accounted for more than 40 million deaths just in EU territory and billions in property destruction. US has had
only one war on its territory and it was on the 19th century.

7. 12 of the EU nation states were
socialist economies until 1989-91.
US has been ridding the wave of free market and capitlism since 19th century. Also try to imagine latin american countries join into US and we would see income per capita, but not only, reduce dramatically.

8. 15 of the EU nation states were ruled by dictatorships until midlle 70's (Portugal - my country), midlle
80's (Spain and Greece) and late 80's (former comunist countries). US is a democracy since it existsa as a country.


Now the point is I rarelly see on a report from a world organization like UN, IMF, WB, or OECD (and I read tons of reports) this type of comparisons US-EU only, because if they give that this type of comparison they will list also the comparison between US and all countries that comprise EU. WHY they do this? Because EU is Not a Nation state - it is an association of Nation states, the same thing could be could be said to a comparison between London and US.

I'm not saying that EU, and its member states, doesnt need to improve a lot of things, what I'm saying is Zakarya pictures a painting where US is all good (winners) and EU is all bad (loosers), specially when he only takes account of STI indicators (and I dont know what STI indicators he chooses to highlight to make is point).

**

Everyone else, thanks for the comments; I will try and add some thoughts as time permits.
// Blogger umair // 10:42 PM
 

Hey,
Thanks for putting up my post!

I guess Blogger don't like me, problably because I don't have a blog,
so the service is discriminating me (lolololololol).

I must have a blog!!!
// Anonymous Ricardo Proen� // 1:54 AM
 

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