Foreign Governments and Economies
February 3, 2003
THE US AND ITS EUROPEAN ALLIES IN THE WAR ON TERRORISM: THE DIVISIONS WITHIN NATO EUROPE
Part Two Tomorrow
I.THE EUROPEANS AT SIXES AND SEVENS
Actually, a more accurate sub-title here would be "The European Allies of the US at Fives and Nines," the exact number of how they've lined up so far, explicitly, in supporting or opposing the US-led campaign to topple Saddam Hussein's regime as part of the wider war against terrorism. Eight is the exact number of NATO allies on that continent that signed an explicit declaration last week supporting President Bush's position: Britain, Italy, and Spain --- the former two roughly 60 million in population each, Spain 40 million --- plus Denmark and Portugal as the other EU members (both less than 10 million), and in East Europe Poland (40 million) and Hungary and the Czech Republic . . . about the size of Denmark and Portugal. Nothing too surprising here. As we've repeatedly noted over the last several months on our listserver, it's journalistic sloppiness to say that the US has been at odds with its European allies. If anything, the only surprise about that declaration was the failure of Holland to sign. Its government, after all, officially went on record last fall --- backed by a parliamentary resolution --- supporting the US coercive diplomacy aimed at Saddam's brutal regime and its weapons of mass destruction programs, nuclear, chemical, and biological . . . to the point that the Dutch resolution called for going to war with the US even without UN Security Council approval.
What explains the lack of a Dutch signature last week? According to one report in the New York Times today, Safire
the French and
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 9:23 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
February 13, 2003
GERMANY'S SELF-RIGHTEOUS "NEW WAY IN FOREIGN POLICY" PROVOKES CRITICISMS FROM EVEN SOCIAL DEMOCRATS AND GREENS
While Chancellor Schroeder's Green-Social Democratic government stiffens its rigidly moralizing, self-righteous policy over Iraq --- dammit, chaps! we won't support a war no matter what; to hell with even a UN Security Council vote requiring it! to hell especially with the Americans, the bullying buggers . . . those habitual warmongers --- it has come under an increasing drumfire of criticism from those well placed to gauge the magnitude of the harm the novel German sanctimony and utopianism is causing elsehwere. Harm to its ties to the US. Harm to Germany's reputation in the EU, where six other EU countries -- Italy, Spain, Britain, Portugal, Denmark, and Holland --- have openly backed the Bush administration's Iraqi policy. And major damage to its role in NATO, now faced --- thanks to Gerrman, Belgian, and French connivance not to honor the request of a fellow NATO member for support in a war (unique in NATO's 54 year history) --- with a crisis of far-reaching scope, with 3 East European members of NATO openly siding with the US too . . . not to mention the Turks. And not to forget 10 other East European countries, who have openly backed the Bush policy toward Iraq, 7 of which East Europeans are joining NATO this year/
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 9:25 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
February 15, 2003
EUROPEAN OBSEVERS ON FRENCH DUPLICITY AND CHICANERIES AND GERMAN HOTBLOODED MORALIZING AMATEURISM1. THE ECONOMIST
In "the fragile [diplomatic] landscape over which assorted statesmen have chosen in recent days to clomp with their hobnailed boots. France's president is clomper-in-chief". The Economist
For decades now, The Economist
--- a weekly of poliltical, economic, and business commentary of uncommonly high quality and vigorous writing that has a 150 year pedigree behind it --- has championed a close relationship between West Europe and the US and, to that end, taken on almost all the uninformed, ideological or nationalist critics of the United States role in global affairs. That doesn't mean it always backs the US in foreign policy quarrels, not by a long chalk. It does mean that the weekly's writers -- a British editorial board, with local reporters around the world from every country including lots from the US (about 8 pages a week are devoted to our country) --- give short shrift to the shrill left-wing and ultra-nationalist right-wing critics in Europe who, essentially, either are misinformed, or full of pc pieties, or full of nationalist resentments and envy of the US and its success, or like the French a strung-out combo of all this . . . not to forget their cynical Machiavellian efforts, decades old, and maybe stretching all the way back to Napoleon's defeat in 1815 and the loss earlier of Canada and India to Britain, to maneuver their way back to the center of international life.
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 2:57 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
February 17, 2003
NUTBIN FRENCH ANTI-AMERICANISM RUN WILD --- HYPOCRISY TOO. Or Where Is Inspector CLousseau When We Need Him?
"Good example of lack of French hatred in mainstream media:
Jack Lang, ex-Minister of Culture and ex-Minister of Education, said that 'George Bush and Osama bin Laden were a same enemy' during an interview on French cable news channel LCI.
"Un bon exemple du manque de haine dans les médias de masse en France
Jack Lang, ex-Ministre de la Culture et ex-Ministre de l'Education a déclaré sur la chaîne d'information de la télévision cable 'George Bush et Oussama ben Laden, même combat'". Lang Interview
Ovewrought remarks, of course, this babble of Lang's, which most of us might regard as extravagantly silly and maybe just plain nuts, but that are fully in line with what Jean-Francois Revel observed about the obsessively manical anti-Americanism dominant in French intellectual and political life. (See yesterday's commentary about Revel and l'Obsession antiamericaine). All of which leads us to the topic of the day, involving no one less than Jack Lang, then the Minister of Culture in the Socialist era of President Francois Mitterand in the 1980s. Nothing short, when seen in retrospect, of a determinedly Looney Tune exemplar of wildly uncoiled French anti-Americanism at the highest levels --- and French hypocrisy run rampant, too, in the same circles and elsewhere . . . an episode, as you'll see, of such consummate idiocy and politically correct apeshit that if you didn't trust what you read in the newspapers about it, you'd swear it was really the script for a new Inspector Clousseau film, played hilariously by the ultra-prim, ultra-bumbling Peter Sellers in all previous Clousseau films, but this time starring third-rate ham-actors temporarily out of work in the soft-porn industry.
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 12:55 AM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
February 17, 2003
Chirac, Finding France Isolated in a EU Summit Meeting, Blows His Top and Lectures Everybody Else
After flaying Bulgaria, the oldest country in Europe --- founded 18 centuries ago --- for not thinking sufficiently European (read: like the French: read further: toe the line, buster, or you'll see a French veto slapped in face when you try getting into my club), President Jacques Chirac, unaccustomed to being challenged by anybody, journeyed to a EU summit meeting today where Kofi Anan was present. The UN General Secretary urged the EU to come up with a clear unanimous position on Iraq, the only way to avoid war outside the UN with the weasel-like moves of the slippery Saddam. One by one, the EU leaders spoke out; and one by one, it was made clear the French were isolated. Even the German moralists were more flexible. Eventually, at one point, Chirac exploded, started lecturing everybody on the rightness and glories of France, then when others put him down, he retreated and signed the declaration singling out Saddamite Iraq as still in violation of UN resolution 1441.
See "Chirac Fumes at EU Countries Lining Up with the US"
Tony Blair was elated at the end. Jacques Chirac sulked, all the way through the subsequent dinner festivities. And on Tuesday, it got even worse for the stiff-necked sulker. Thirteen East European countries, all candidates for the EU soon, were scolded openly by Chirac --- who seems jumpy as a cat of late, unhinged at finding France isolated with Germany and Belgium in the EU and NATO --- for once more publicly backing the US over Iraq. And once more, ever more testy, Chirac threatened retaliation . . . leading all the 13 either to meet his tirade with scorn or laughter. Chirac Losing It
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 11:52 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
February 28, 2003
Query from John: ARE EU WORKERS MORE PRODUCTIVE THAN US WORKERS?
Our thanks to John, a close observer of the European scene, who has lived, studied, and worked there for years. The subject is the levels of (labor) productivity in the EU, and various countries there, as compared with the US.
Here is John's query:
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 1:25 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
March 3, 2003
Best, Easily Accessed Source for Comparing GDP, Productivity, Per Capita Income in the US, EU, Japan
The EU Commission in Brussels puts out a yearly EU Competitiveness Report, generally well organized and presented. The one for 2001, chapter 2, is the best, most easily accessed source: just 9 pages long, it's loaded with good charts, tables, and some brief discussion of trends that deal with GDP, growth, productivity levels, per capita income, employment growth, and so on. EU, US, Japan 2001
Note that this is in .pdf, which means you have to have Acrobat reader to see it properly. There is an .HTML equivalent, but it scrambles all the charts (the converter programs between the two formats aren't much good . . . and yet, that's odd because between .pdf and Word documents the converters work perfectly. Go ask Microsoft why). Stat-USA/Gov
is an excellent place to start your search for any data on the US. The Bureau of Economic Analysis
, an agency in the Commerce Department, handles all the national income stats, and is under constant pressure to revise and update its methodologies as the US economy has shifted from a mfg. economy to an information-based one, with productivity trends and inflation and, for that matter, exports that aren't normally counted as such (e.g., Amazon selling books abroad) are taken into account. The IMF and the OECD are invaluable too, as well as producing important reports and analyses. The UN does this for mainly developing countries, as does the World Bank. Prof Bug will try to get a list of these, along with some accessible scholarly journals, plus a handful of news sources like the NY Times or Die Zeit or Le Monde or the Daily Telegrap
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 6:36 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
March 19, 2003
WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO FRANCE OR SHOULD HAPPEN? Queries from readers.I. The Background
Prof Buggy has received several queries about France and what to do about it --- or, alternatively, what the Bush administration will do, which may or may not amount to the same thing. They've come from Michael Jabbra, John, Amber Ingels, and some others who prefer anonymity --- their right.
1. Briefly, note first that President Bush already telephoned Moscow and Beijing after he issued his ultimatum on Monday night to Saddam Hussein --- but pointedly not to Paris, whose government the administration clearly regards, as does Blair's Cabinet in London, to be the major obstructing country on the Security Council . . . the spoiler with a veto that didn't or wouldn't compromise with its two allies, Britain and the US, on a second resolution as a follow-up to 1441. Not even, get this, simply a resolution that did no more than reaffirm 1441. Period; end point. And as Bush's snub to Paris indicates, there are already repercussions.
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 7:51 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
April 5, 2003
THE EU APPEASEMENT OF THE CORRUPT, DESPOTIC ARAFAT PA, AND THE BUSH INITIATIVE TO FORCE THE PA TO REFORM
A suggestion: before you read "The Ugly European," you need to look over the previous article on the Palestinians, the Palestinian Authority, Israel, and why the Israelis are a rich advanced democratic country and the 22 Arab countries are the opposite: generally poor, non-industrialized, non-democratic, and lacking an effective rule of law. Quite apart from what it says substantively about the Palestinian Authority, it also illuminates, so the buggy prof hopes, two other central themes of the day:  the bold Bush initiatives to remake the domestic political map of the Middle East, starting with the fascist totalitarian Baath party regime in Iraq, with its dangerous WMD and support for terrorism . . . a mid-term goal about which the administration is becoming more forthright, especially as the war in Iraq draws to a close;  and the very different style of appeasement and fears of altering the diplomatic status quo almost anywhere in the world that characterizes most of the EU . . . not, fortunately, all of it.Why the EU Countries' Appeasement of the Corrupt, Autocratic Palestinian Authority Was Challenged by the US Last Year: Successfully
As the previous article noted, the PA under Arafat has been a stronghold of autocratic rule, repression of democratic opponents on the PA's administered territories on the West Bank and Gaza, and a cesspool of corruption and nepotism . . . so much so that a Palestinian poll in August of 2002 showed that 69% of the Palestinians viewed the PA in such terms. Arafat himself,
it appears, has garnered about $1.3 billion of the $8-9 billion that the US and the EU and some oil-rich Arab states have provided in financial aid to the Palestinians since 1993. As the article linked here shows, that's enough money to feed th
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 7:41 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
April 9, 2003
A JOYOUS DAY AS FREEDOM GETS A FOOTHOLD IN THE MIDDLE EAST, AND A CAUSE OF PRIDE FOR THE COALITION
A joyous celebration in the streets of Baghdad and Basra and elsewhere in liberated Iraq that has been unfolding all day long --- the fall of the Saddamite fascist regime achieved in 22 days of spectacular military victory --- gives the lie to all those who were so vocally and angrily denouncing the US, the Bush administration, the President himself, and the politically courageous Tony Blair as late as yesterday. Bush and his administration were arrogant, over-confident, and naive in various degrees of idiocy; their military strategy was in shambles by the second week of the war, Rumsfeld himself the dunce of the decade; the Iraqis formidable nationalists, ready to die for either Saddam or out of national pride, to defeat the US and British aggressors, with the Arab street ready to explode against the new imperialist thrust, etc, etc.
As for Blair, he was smeared for over a year now as Bush's lap-poodle by the oily, canting, politically correct British media and chattering class, the BBC included, always ready apparently --- on the feeblest of pretexts --- to unpack their cumbersome baggage of ideological claptrap, left-wing pieties, and anti-American clichés and then parade and prattle on about them endlessly . . . oh, and as they prattle their snarled-out words, posture with their thrusting, in-your-face sense of moral superiority. Well, the upshot of today? Once more, these sanctimonious pulpit-pounders have been left looking like full-scale ideological twits; little else. Unable, it seems, to learn anything from their past failures and their kinetic whacked-out predictions, however jarred by events . . . even as they plunge headlong, eyes shut but mouths brazenly wide-open, to the next big cause to be barnstormed and marched against in raw indignation. The horrors of globalization. The evils of capitalism. The abominations of American life. The moronic mind of the Texan Toxin. The environment ready to melt down, a victim of all the former; the entire world itself, in their wrought-up platitu
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 7:24 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
April 10, 2003
THE REVOLUTION IN WARFARE CONTINUED: WHO ELSE CAN IMPLEMENT A DIGITALIZED MILITARY STRATEGY?
The swift unfolding of the Iraqi war --- with the US strategic stress on lightening-fast dashes of mobile armored forces on the ground, both light and heavy infantry units, plus small agile special ops, all supported by air power and advanced technologies for reconnaissance and intelligence for target acquisition and communication to various weapons delivery systems: CentCom itself in Qatar able to monitor the entire Iraqi battlefield --- has taken almost all the media by surprise and even quite a few old-time generals.
At the heart of the new strategy are revolutionary information-age set of computer-driven technologies (C3-I), evolving now for over two decades. To make good use of them on the battlefield, flexible ground forces and various weapons platforms have had to be developed, with the information and communications technologies able to acquire pin-point targets and lead to real-time destruction that use smart, information-driven warheads --- some sea-based hundreds of miles away, other dropped from planes or by stand-off cruise missiles, yet others fired by artillery or fast-moving tanks. It all adds up to combined arms operations in ways that the world has never seen before. Nor is that all. There are the remarkably adaptive battlefield tactics too. Agilely executed in fluid battlefield conditions, and updated sometimes hourly as the war unfolded and opportunities arose across several fronts, these resourceful and nimble tactics couldn't have materialized without uncommonly well-trained men and women operating in highly flexible military units and organizations . . . from squad- and platoon-levels all the way up to divisional headquarters, and at times through Cent-Com to distant carrier-based planes.
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 5:9 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
August 2, 2003
THE JOB MARKET AND UNEMPLOYMENT IN THE EU AND US: A BIG GAP GETTING BIGGERWhat follows is really a series of observations that the buggy prof posted yesterday evening at another web site in the comments pop-up section, the site itself dedicated to a fairly serious exchange on economics and finance: http://www.janegalt.net/ It was prompted by a reference, left July 31st, on the big gap between the US and the French labor-market participation ratio --- the percentage of the adult population (usually 18-65) that happens to be actively working over a period of time, say a decade or two to average out the ups-and-downs of the business cycle. More generally, as the buggy comments here note, a similar gap exists throughout the EU save for Britain and Ireland and to an extent parts of Scandinavia and Holland.
These comments should be read against the background of some earlier articles published on this site in the winter of this year. In particular,  "Are EU Workers More Productive than US Workers?", and  "Follow-Up on the EU, US, Economics and Power"
1) When the big divide in post WWII economic growth occurred in the mid-1970s --- reducing it by about 75% in Japan ever since, and in the EU by about 50% for the big economies (Germany, France, Italy, and for a while Britain) --- about a similar percentage of the eligible population (ages18-65) was employed on both sides of the Atlantic: roughly 65% in the US and EU. (The actual percentages will vary according to the ages chosen. Some studies will lower the minimum to 16 years. And some studies will separate full-time employment from part-time job-holders, some of whom are voluntary, others (especially in the EU countries) wanting full-time jobs.)
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 11:35 AM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
September 23, 2003
Some Interesting First-Hand Comments From France About The Recent Death-Wave, and the Buggy ResponseFrom Francis Turner, an Englishman living on the French Riviera, the following comment has arrived that helps to illuminate a seamy side of the astonishing wave of deaths --- 12,000 (the equivalent of 60,000 here) --- that overcame defenseless French elderly who languished in 110 degree weather in stifling apartments or in understaffed hospitals without air-conditioning as the French elite and others bounced and bounded about on the Riviera or in tony mountain retreats or, in the case of President Jacques Chirac, for weeks in Canada . . . where, according to French reports of late, he probably had a facial uplift.
What follows is Mr. Turner's comments, then the buggy response.The Washington Post
article by Gene Weingarten on US and French stereotypes of one another is indeed hilarious, and your refresh of recent French history most excellent. As an Englishman living on the Côte d'Azur I am frequently amused by the "sound and fury signifying nothing" that makes up most of French politics. On all this, your article was right on the money.
However I think I should point out that a large part of the reason why so many people died in the heat wave was due to the lack of filial attention by the French general public themselves. It is true that the government could (and should) have issued more warnings about the forecast heatwave and could have forced more doctors and nurses to take their vacation at a different time of the year, but that is by no means the whole story. Many French families buggered off on their congées (vacs) leaving their aged and infirm relatives behind and utterly failed to take any responsibility for their well-being. Indeed there were numerous stories of families being unreachable by hospital who wished to report the death of relatives as well as those cheerful stories of the dead being discovered by the family on its return home and/or the smell of decomposition annoying the neighbours. Very few of the casua
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 4:31 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
September 24, 2003
Reply to a Visitor: Muslims in France and the Rest of the EU vs. the US
From Steve Shea, who has left us some stimulating comments before --- most recently on China and US trade problems --- the following comment has arrived. It's followed by the buggy response.From Steve Shea, who has left us some stimulating comments before --- most recently on China and US trade problems --- the following comment has arrived. It's followed by the buggy response.
Great piece. Enlightening. Next time around would you comment on what effect if any the changing population demographics i.e. increasing percent of Muslims , plays in French policy .THE BUGGY RESPONSE
Thanks for the comment, Steve --- and your earlier ones.
As you'll see in a few moments,, some previous buggy prof articles have dealt with the rapidly growing Muslim community in the EU --- about 15-20 million in all, very young, increasingly fundamentalist and alienated, lots of violent crime alas. By contrast, the US's far Muslim population is smaller --- about 2-3 million according to two expert surveys published in the fall of 2001 --- and it's far better educated, employed, and assimilated; specifically, American Muslims have higher levels of education and income than average Americans. For that matter, there are scarcely any signs of alienation here. Most American Muslims are from Asia, though immigration from the Middle East was rising in the 1980s and most of the 1990s. Note too: overwhelmingly, Arab-Americans are Christian and have been here for generations.
France has the largest Muslim population. Of the 57 million or so Frenchmen, about 5 million are officially counted as Muslims, though the figure if probably closer to 7 million if you consider illegal immigrants and, more important, wider the criteria of counting who is a Muslim. Does he or she have to belong officially to a Mosque . . . that sort of thing.?
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 7:23 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
September 24, 2003
How Backward is China Today? An Exchange with a VisitorA visitor, Gordon Silliker, has left us the following comment, all the more interesting because it's based on first-hand observations in China. The buggy response follows.
Having been to China as recently as last year, I think anyone who predicts China meeting or surpassing the wealth of the United States or Europe anytime in the next 50-100 years needs to get their head out of the books and go take a look. China is like a million square-mile Tijuana. It is poverty-stricken, dirty, shoddy, and crowded. If you go into the countryside there are scores of people who live the same as they did 300 years ago, except for a counterfeit Nike shirt and a baseball cap perhaps. The only way for China to become a wealthy nation will be for the billion or so Chinese people to do it for themselves, because there are just so many Chinese people, and they are so poor, that any concentrated government-led effort would never address the magnitude of the task that is making China rich.THE BUGGY RESPONSE:
Thanks for the first-hand comments, Mr Silliker. They are matched by what others encounter, provided they travel in places other than Hong Kong, the coastal booming cities of the southern coast, and Beijing.
More generally, for all the big epochal changes under way since 1978, they add up, it seems, to a very lopsided growth record. A few regions have flourished, most haven't; the countryside where over a third of the population still finds a livelihood has been badly neglected since the early 1980s; huge inequalities in income across social classes have occurred; unemployment is probably around 20%; the state-dominated enterprises in the northern rust-belt continue to gobble up Chinese savings, funneled by bad-debt ridden state banks, to stave off bankruptcy; the environment has suffered badly; and no social security safety net looks like emerging soon. Probably about half the Chinese population h
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 7:47 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
September 24, 2003
WILL CHINA'S ECONOMY CATCH UP TO AMERICA'S OR THE THE EU'S? II: Further ReflectionsThis article is part two of a mini-series on the Chinese economy's long-term economic prospects, and in particular whether China will catch-up to the West --- the US or the EU --- in per capita income, levels of productivity, and technological prowess. The previous article was dubious on this pivotal matter, full of implications for China's relative power potential in the next few decades . . . and whether or not, in particular, China could emerge (as many claim or fear) as a serious peer-rival to the US in overall power and influence. The current article should be read after that earlier article, published on September 23rd hereZ: Will Pacific Asia Overtake the West in Wealth? Will China Become a Super-Power?. Like it, this article began its life as a long commentary at Brad DeLongTHEORETICAL REASONS --- SPECIFICALLY, CONVERGENCE THEORY AND CATCH-UP GROWTH --- WHY THE GROWTH RATE OF CHINA'S ECONOMY IS BOUND TO SLOW DOWN IN THE FUTURE
The current article began as a response to a question left in another post at the DeLong site and the forum on the economic destiny of China and the rest of Pacific Asia. Specifically, a Mark Bahner asked apropos of China's future growth prospects:"Isn't it a stylized fact by now that when a country crosses into first world status (whatever that maybe) growth slows down to match other first world countries?" Updated, the lengthy buggy response --- which draws on some key propositions in economic growth theory, applicable to both developing and highly developed countries --- follows.I. CONVERGENCE THEORY AND CATCH-UP GROWTH: LEAD AND FOLLOWER COUNTRIES
1) The first answer: yes, soone
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 9:31 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
September 25, 2003
Second Version: CHINA'S ECONOMIC FUTURE III: THE PIVOTAL CLASH BETWEEN CP AUTHORITARIANISM AND THE LOGIC OF ECONOMIC REFORMIn the three articles published the last four days on China's economic future --- including an exchange with a visitor posted yesterday --- essentially four conclusions were reached. PART I: THE BUILT-IN CLASH BETWEEN COMMUNIST POLITICAL AUTHORITIANISM AND STATISM AND THE LOGIC OF MARKET DECENTRALIZATION AND FLEXIBILITY
This clash, already under way, is bound to intensify in the future. The underlying causes result from a series of converging trends and influences, pushed by the epochal economic upheavals in Chinese life since 1978, with all the political fallout and implications that follow . . . including, as we've seen, benefits to about half the population, with the remaining half either not helped by the far-reaching changes or clearly hurt. Remember, among other things, actual unemployment is probably close to 20% of the work force; income and wealth inequalities have skyrocketed; there are huge regional disparities; the environment has worsened, so too has public health for large parts of the 1.3 billion Chinese; and social tensions, outright protests, strikes, and demonstration, and political alienation have been documented even by the Chinese authorities.Hence our main theme here: what, we ask, is forcing the question of major reforms --- economic, social, and political --- to move to the very center of the government's and CP's political agenda, and what will happen to it? Introductory Comments
As we'll see, even though numerous, far-reaching social, economic, and political reforms may be necessary to stave off economic stagnation in the next decade or two, that doesn't mean they'll be carried out easily . . . if at all. In key quarters around the country, there exists tenacious, dug-in resistance to any vigorous reform strategy that threatens the curren
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 5:38 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
September 27, 2003
China's Economic Future IV: Fears of Social Strife, Political Protests, and a New Tiananmen Square in Chinese CP Circles As Brakes on Reform. FINAL VERSIONFrom Michael Jabbra, a former UC Santa Barbara student full of talent, the brief following query was left as a comment attached to the previous article. Given the importance of the topic it deals with, it's published here along with the buggy reply.
It's true that the Chinese government will face a potential political upheaval because economic reforms will be painful. How effective will the memory of Tiananmen Square be in reducing mass dissent? People tend to suffer in silence if they know that protesting brings death; hence we don't see any protests in North Korea, for example.THE BUGGY RESPONSE
Yes, Michael: You're right, from a variety of sources, the party leadership clearly remains worried about a new nation-wide protests and demonstrations of the sort that erupted in the late 1980s, on a large scale, and led a badly divided party to opt for violent repression . . . with all the international repercussions that ensued. The result: nearly a 1000 deaths at Tiananmen Square in a bloody massacre, followed by similar crackdowns around the country. The date was June 1989. For a good survey with easily read commentary and documents, go here.
For the next four years, the party remained warily vigilant; it isolated radical reformers within its own ranks, and governed with tight repressive controls, only to loosen these after about 1993 for the next four years, hopeful the crisis was behind them. Opponents of the system took heart. In particular, as political reigns loosened, there was growing confidence in these oppositional circles, some in the party, others outside it, that liberalization would continue apace for years and decades. Some even hoped the process would be irreversible.
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 12:19 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
October 2, 2003
Version Three: CHINA'S ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL FUTURE Part V: AN EXTRAORDINARILY ILLUMINATING EXCHANGE ELSEWHEREThe uncommonly informative exchange referred to in the title here appears this month in Commentary magazine: specifically, a lengthy set of replies, favorable and critical, to a provocative, wide-ranging article published by Arthur Waldron, a specialist on China and Asia, on China's political and economic destiny that appeared in that magazine in July-August's composite issue. Entitled "The Chinese Sickness," Waldron's article set out a long argument that was full of hard-hitting criticisms of the existing regime, cast doubt on its ability to handle its challenges and problems, predicted its collapse in the future, and argued that the US is ill-prepared now to deal with the fall-out of the CP-system's collapse for China, Asia, and US policies there. The argument had a big resonance, picked up by lots of the media around the world. It also had a big echo in the circles of Chinese specialists in this country, mostly --- though not entirely --- negative; and the initial several long replies in Commentary this month, Watching China, take issue with Waldron's argument and even assault it. Others, including a specialist who was a former US ambassador to China, defend Waldron. The whole set of replies, plus Waldron's lengthy rejoinder, is a mine of illuminating views that no one interested in China's future and the nature of US-Chinese relations should miss.
Note that the original Waldron article isn't available except to Commentary subscribers who pay an extra fee for accessing the archives. No matter: while important in its own right, it's not indispensable to following the lengthy exchange Watching China in this month's issue online. Note though: the exchange will be available without fee, to judge by past experience, o
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 6:32 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
November 19, 2003
Anti-Semitism and the Greek Media and Government: Even Ministers Gobble It UpFor all the buggy analysis in several recent articles of the new anti-Semitism in the EU --- a strong revived thrust there, which even President Bush forthrightly condemned in his first public address in London today --- nothing has been said, it turns out, about the Greek government, its public opinion, and its media. The chief reason? It's largely an inconsequential, fairly poor country on the periphery of the EU, and small in population to boot: 10 million people, whose per capita income is $19,000 or so . . . about a quarter lower than the EU average. Then, too, there is really little important news from that country --- a member of NATO since and of the EU since 1981 --- except when its lax security, plus close identification with certain Arab terrorist movements in public opinion, leads to a terrorist eruption either in Greece or that began there with a plane hijacking.
And so the current brief article seeks to remedy this omission. Greece, it turns out, is not only full of anti-Semitic racism, but its most popular composer --- flanked by two government ministers who did nothing to dissent from the composer's views --- let loose with the usual racist blather that is now commonplace across much of the EU. What is exceptional is to have government ministers present who apparently endorse the stuff. In particular:
'Flanked by Greek government leaders, composer Mikis Theodorakis of "Zorba the Greek" fame issued a scathing denunciation of Jews at a reception covered extensively by the national media.
"Today, we can say that these little people are the root of evil," said Theodorakis, 78, according to Agence France-Presse.
Despite the media attention given to the event – a Nov. 4 reception for publication of his autobiography – the anti-Semitic remarks were repeated only in a smal
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 7:57 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
November 21, 2003
A Follow-Up: US, EU, Japanese Spending on Higher EducationIn a buggy article published on November 13th, 2003 --- the 3rd in a long 5-7 article mini-series on US exceptionalism among the world's rich democratic countries --- a claim was made about the comparative amounts the US and the EU countries spend on higher education. Essentially, it was said at one point, we spend about 2.0 - 2.5 times more on higher education as a percentage of GDP than the EU does. A professor in the EU has just queried that figure. Is it possible, he asked? Yes; not only possible --- but the case. What follows unveils the precise figures.
It will probably be helpful to fill in the background context in which the claim about university spending was originally made.
Tersely put, the claim appeared in a lengthy reply to a set of comments tacked on by a visitor at the end of another article on comparisons between the EU and the US . . . mainly involving the EU media and its shoddy professional standards, and more to the point, at the time of the Israel battle with Palestinian terrorists in the West Bank city of Jenin. That was in April 2002. With at best a handful of exceptions, the EU media's reporters were wholly inaccurate and full of prejudice: against the Israelis, and even --- as subsequent studies showed --- with taints of anti-Semitism. American reporting, by contrast, was far more balanced and far more accurate. There were no massacres of Palestinian civilians --- no 5000 and later 500 victims as the Palestinian Authority claimed and the EU media tended, in a hurry-scurry leap to judgment, happily to endorse. As UN inspections later showed, the total number of dead Palestinians was 56, almost all adult men; 26 Israeli soldiers died in the battle too. If anything, as the later reports showed, the Israeli forces had been very careful to avoid civilian casualties, even as they spent days, under gunfire, assaulting known t
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 4:13 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
December 18, 2003
INCENDIARY ANTI-SEMITISM IN THE EU: 1st Of 3 InstallmentsOur thanks to X, a political science professor in California who sent us a link to an article on the dangers of fast growing anti-Semitism in West Europe. Written by a team of San Francisco Chronicle journalists stationed in West Europe, it appeared in that influential newspaper on December 14.
A few words about X that are relevant to the article seem in order. Born and reared in Liverpool, England, he came to this country at age 19, entered university, then went on to obtain a Ph.D. --- after 6 years of graduate work --- and is currently a happy fellow, a professor in California and a US citizen. He is himself, please note, not Jewish. Like the buggy professor, though, he deplores this renewed surge of Jew-hating racism in Britain and even more so on the Continent --- a scourge in European life for over 1500 years now --- and as a once proud Briton, he's left with sadness as he witnesses the evidence of anti-Semitism's spreading venom pile up in Europe again. More concretely, all of us of good-will --- whether American or European --- are bound to worry that the thick barrier of taboos surrounding anti-Semitism in Europe since WWII has experienced a recent bursting-the-bounds collapse. Our worry here is all the greater because of a related complex of extra-potent causes behind the surging anti-Semitism, a host of unsettling, pressure-cooker changes in European life --- economic, social, demographic, and political --- that entail both growing social-conflicts and charged mental stress. There's no secret of the driving forces behind these resented, disorienting changes: remorseless globalizing and regional trends, a heady compound as we'll see that has little to do with Israel or the Middle-East conflict --- which serves as the rationale-excuse invoked by most West European officials and media-types whenever the incendiary anti-Semitism active there is discus
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 9:15 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
December 25, 2003
INCENDIARY ANTI-SEMITISM IN THE EU: 3rd and Final InstallmentThose of you who have read the first two installments in this mini-series on European anti-Semitism will have, it's hoped, no trouble following the analysis here. The overall argument that spans all three installments is divided into 8 major parts, PART I, PART II, and so on. Parts I - III were set out in the initial installment; the lengthy Part IV took up all of the second installment; and what follows are Parts V - VIII. It will have helped if you've read those first two installments. If you haven't, you're urged to at least run your eye over both before tackling the argument here.
Another thing worth noting. This mini-series on EU anti-Semitism is something of an interlude in a much larger, wide-ranging project that began a few weeks ago: specifically, systematic comparisons between the US and other democracies, mainly in West Europe, and what --- for good or bad --- explains certain unusual American traits, cultural and institutional, that add up to what the admirable British weekly The Economist calls "American exceptionalism." The first buggy article in that larger series appeared in November, and the various constituent parts that comprise American exceptionalism were set out schematically there. With this interlude on European anti-Semitism now done, we will return to that more ambitious project starting with next article, taking up where we left off: the nature and evidence for the first American exceptionalism, a built-in suspicion --- again, for good or bad --- of big government. This suspicion, as the series showed in an exchange with a British visitor, stands out even when the comparative focus is narrowed to just the English-speaking democracies --- the US, Britain, Canada, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand.
So far, r
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 1:57 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
December 23, 2003
INCENDIARY ANTI-SEMITISM IN THE EU: 2nd of 3 InstallmentsThis is the second installment of a mini-series on European anti-Semitism, which was initially prompted by a recent article from The San Francisco Chronicle that Professor X --- an American of British origins --- sent to us. As things have shaped up, there are now 3 installments. Why the change to 3? Easy enough to say: the original buggy article that X's gesture prodded into existence turned out to be unusually long, what with all the analysis and supporting evidence . . . not to forget the three tag-on pieces from the International Herald Tribune and The Observer in London.
Come to that, not to forget either the lengthy sidebar observations about Red-Ken, the Mayor of London and his souped-up hyperbole about President Bush being the greatest threat to humankind in all of history, and how such raw extravagant assaults --- delivered with ex cathedra certainty --- pulsate with zeal throughout Big Green activist circles in the EU and much of the media there. On their shared view, the world's going to the dogs, the sky's about to fall in, and only desperate changes --- plus, of course, regulations galore EU-style, administered by guess who? --- will stave off disaster. Guess something else. This zeal, essentially a religious surrogate for people hungering after radically new meaning and a mission in life, usually leads to Inquisition-like pillorying of anyone who dares to tackle the taken-for-granted dogmas that constitute the hard-core ideology of Extra-Potent Environmentalism in Europe . . . such as Bjorn Lomborg, the noted Danish statistician who was bold enough to publish a justifiably renown book, The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World, full of general optimism about the dominant trends in environmental, resource, energy, demographic, and developmental matters. Such boldness rankles pious clerics and their true-believing flock. Condemned by a witch-hunting committee within the Danish Min
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 7:40 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
January 3, 2004
EU Social Conflicts and Violence: Letter Bombs Target Top EU Officials. Just The BeginningLittle did I suspect that within days of finishing a mini-series of three articles on surging anti-Semitism in the EU --- its root causes found, essentially, in a welter of strung-out, highly unwelcome changes in EU economies and welfare spending and in the backlash social conflicts and search-for-scapegoats they're provoking --- that the buggy predictions of growing, politically charged strife and violence would find immediate vindication: specifically, a surge of political assassinations, or attempts at them anyway, directed at three top-tier EU officials. What follows is a brief effort at illuminating the latest politically inspired violence, seen against the backdrop of those three earlier buggy articles.
The violent outbursts in question? Political terrorism. Four letter bombs were sent to Romano Prodi, the President of the executive EU Commission, to the new French head of the Eurobank, and to the head of the EU agency in charge of police co-operation. For Prodi, the latest letter bomb was by now a chronic event. Earlier this week, two other bombs were set off in garbage cans near his house. The terrorist perps? According to the Italian police, the letter bombs came from Bologna, a city notorious for housing wild left-wing ultras . . . some involved, it seems, in organized murderous terrorism of Red-Brigade notoriety back in the 1970s and 1980s. Apparently, too, some neo-fascists seem to prefer life in Bologna as well. Must be the brain-damaging water in the pipes there.
The return to political assassination in West Europe isn't entirely new. Two years ago, a law professor in Rome --- chosen by the new Premier Silvo Berlusconi to draw up legislation to reform the tightly regulated labor markets in the country --- was killed by a terrorist. About the same time, the Dutch populist leader, Pim Fo
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 12:45 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
January 19, 2004
Exchange with a visitor: Volunteer Work in the US, Comparatively ViewedA frequent visitor, John --- a legal specialist --- posted a brief comment at the end of the previous buggy article on US Exceptionalism, "The Mini-series Resumes", that deserves to be singled out here and a brief reply.
On the social spending/welfare front, while you touch on a strong American preference for charitable spending compared to Europe --- [roughly $650 per American, compared to 1/10th that in the EU, buggy clarification] --- you don't directly address American volunteerism, which contributes huge economic value, even if not in dollar terms, to social welfare here. And from what I've read, the level of volunteerism here just isn't comparable to any where else (and amazing considering how much Americans work).
The Buggy Reply
US Volunteer Work: 63 Million
Many thanks for the query, John. Yes, it is impressive --- about 63 million Americans doing volunteer work of one sort of another last year: about 29% of the population above 16 years in age. The definition of such activity is unpaid work for an organization that helps others for non-profit. That could be anything from leading a Boy Scout or Brownie group or volunteering to help a charity or helping a group that brings food to sick people or that takes older people to clinics or shopping. Young people often work with school or church-related groups to help other young people, especially disadvantaged ones. Helping at the Humane Society or an animal shelter is another example, as is organizing a neighborhood Community Chess drive or working a half day at a boy's or girl's club.
Civil Society and Voluntary Associations
vs. The Top-Down Authority of Statist Systems
Keep in mind that as far back as the mid-1830s, Alexis de Toqueville was struc
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 5:0 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
January 20, 2004
US Voluntarism vs. EU Continental Statism II: EU Challenges, Conflicts, Pessimism, and ViolenceAn article published last Friday, January 16, 2004, resumed our lengthy series on US Exceptionalism for good or bad . . . always viewed in comparative perspective, especially with the EU industrial democratic countries, though once in a while, recall, with a smaller group of English-speaking ones that draw on historical British legacies: Britain itself, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the US. That article elicited a query from a legal specialist on voluntary associations and volunteer work in America as compared with the more statist countries in the EU. That legal specialist, I should have added, spent a couple of internships for a year working in the German parliament and knows Germany and Austria especially well.
Earlier today, a second visitor, Richard Heddleson, sent some stimulating comments in reply to the exchange with the legal theorist. They set the buggy mind to thinking, and so you'll find two things here:
- A fairly brief series of replies to Richard's helpful commentary.
- An observation that urges you to re-read that previous article, which is fleshed out in a variety of empirical and theoretical ways.
A heartfelt thanks to Richard and the legal specialist for their stimulus to some deeper thinking here.
From Richard Heddleson
A lot of your remarks about voluntarism seem to deal with the question of how political authority and power in a society are organized: from-the-top-down or the bottom-up. France seems to be a classic top-down country, heavily statist and bureaucratized, while the U. S. is a classic bottom-up country. It is hard to imagine 75,000 people (the number proportionate to the number who died in France last summer) being allowed to die from the heat in the U. S. and poorly organized social services. Too many people would do something f
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 5:6 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
January 22, 2004
An Exchange with a Visitor on US Volunteerism and EU Statism, Plus Immigration to the US and EuropeThe following exchange was prompted by some pithy comments left by Steve Shea, who lives back East and is involved in a variety of intellectual discussion groups back there. As you'll see, the lengthy buggy replies deal with
- the growing conflicts between Muslim fundamentalists in the EU, increasingly supported by the young, European-born Muslims, and European secularists . . . plus some support, especially in France, from moderate older Muslims;
- the historical backdrop here, the protracted struggle after the 1870s in Europe between clerical and anti-clerical forces in the Latin and East European countries, which were entangled in the wider struggle between modernity and democracy on one side and the forces of the old order on the other. Eventually, that reinforced the violent, mass-murdering ideological conflicts of the interwar period, 1918 to 1939 --- plus WWII --- between the extreme left and the extreme right all over the Continent.
- immigrant waves to the US, from Europe and elsewhere.
- the implications of these immigrant waves for American voluneerism
From Steve Shea:
(i.) Check out the following report of a Brit volunteering in Dean's campaign. It's in line with your views that set out a contrast between EU statism and top-down-authority vs. American voluneerism, limited government, populist politics, and bottom-up-authority.
(ii.) Could it be that the people in Europe with bottom up DNA are just destined to leave and that is how the USA got a start.
(iii.) Speaking of coming from another country , my limited experience with non European French is quite positive. Last year my wife and I took the last metro from Paris to Charles De Gaulle . It was midnight and the platform
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 5:44 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
March 17, 2004
More on Spain and Other European NATO Allies: The Coalition of the WillingA student in an undergrad UCSB course of the buggy's, just getting ready for the final exam, sent a query that touches on a key issue: which NATO governments in the EU supported the US position over Saddamite Iraq, and --- more to the point --- two related matters:
- What explains their support --- and what, oppositely, would explain the behavior of those West European allied government that opposed the war?
- And why didn't all of the supporting countries, notably Spain, send troops into battle when the war erupted almost a year ago to the day?
A good set of questions, York, which several buggy articles on US-European relations and NATO have referred to over the last year. Keep in mind, for starters, that there were 19 members of NATO in March last year: the US and Canada in North America, Turkey in the Middle East, and Iceland and Norway in Europe (but not members of the EU). Three others were new East European countries and not in the EU at the time (they're joining this May): Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary.
Of the 15 EU member-countries, four are neutrals: Ireland, Sweden, Finland, and Austria, all in the 4-9 million range. That left 11 EU members of NATO in West Europe. They aligned this way:
For the war: Britain and Italy (60 million in population each); Spain (40 million); Holland (15 million); Portugal (10 million); Denmark (4 million)
Against the war: Germany (80 million), France (60 million), Belgium (10 million), and Luxembourg (250,000). Greece (10 million) did not join either camp, but its government at the time was left-wing, something that only just changed in recent election.
Part One: THE COALITION OF THE WILLING
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 7:2 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
March 22, 2004
The Sour, Scapegoating Mood in Germany and Much of the Rest of the EUTo John --- a US professional who spent years in German-speaking countries, studying and serving a long stint as an intern in the German parliament, the Bundestag --- we owe these first-hand observations about German anti-Americanism that he gathered after a recent visit to that country.
I just returned from a brief trip to Germany last week. Regarding journalism, I couldn't believe what I was reading in the mainstream (less high-brow) German press about the US and Bush in particular. It was pure anti-US propaganda (not to mention shabby reporting), making outrageous assertions about the Bush Administration's motivations without any factual support and, even more disturbingly, hinting in at least two journalistic reports at a Jewish cabal directing US foreign policy.
One article in the weekly magazine Stern, for example, reported that a dissenter to US policy in Iraq inside the State Department was visited by some shady-sounding government agents and pointedly told that there would be consequences to her if she were to make any criticism of Israel. It was completely off the subject of the article. Simply outrageous.
Those kind of suggestions can only be to try to corroborate the dangerous and false anti-Semitic beliefs held by too many people in Europe.
Meanwhile, in the rest of the mainstream German media I read through, there's much fretting going on about Schroeder's pension and labor reforms and the stagnant German economy which, as a regular visitor to Germany, I can say was palpable this time. I've generally sensed an enormous amount of uncertainty and anxiety in Germany (in the press and talking to people) each time I've visited there in the past few years. On this visit, it seemed even more intense.
There are other causes of their general anxiety. Arguably, Germans are lashing out at the Americans for two overlapping reasons: we're blamed for pressuring them to spend
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 3:57 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
April 29, 2004
The EU at an Historical Juncture Amid Gloom and PessimismThis brief commentary has been prodded by a good article by Dominique Moisi in the International Herald Tribune on the EU's problems and prospects at a time when the Union has chug-a-chugged, struggling all the way, kilometer after kilometer, to a critical juncture in its history: in two days, 10 new East European states will be joining it . . . almost all former Communist countries, with three of them part of the Soviet imperial state. Almost all of these countries, you should note --- Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, the tiny three Baltic states, Bulgaria, Rumania, Slovakia, and Slovenia --- are already in NATO, their post-Communist, post-Soviet independence now secured by that alliance.
For the EU, the expansion should be a time of celebration everywhere in Europe. It ends the division of the Continent that emerged after WWI with the Communist triumph in the Soviet Union, then its imperial expansion eastward, then --- after WWII --- its hold over all of East and Central Europe save in Yugoslavia and Albania to the boundary between East and West Europe. It also marks the definitive triumph of democratic development and market-oriented economies. Alas, the existing West European members of the EU are anything but jubilant right now, hardly in a mood to celebrate the historic moment . . . or, come to think of it, anything at all. Such is the gloomy mood that prevails all around the EU. Even the title of the IHT article, "Europe Comes Together in Fear and Trepidation" captures pretty faithfully that widespread gloom and pessimism. [For the stats on public opinion, see the Euobarometer Report for Autumn, 2003, in this buggy article.]
For that matter, even the new East European members aren't certain what kind of European Union they're joining, what with all its huge problems set out below. Those of you who have followed the
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 6:52 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
May 21, 2004
TURKISH AND ARAB DEVELOPMENT--THEIR SUCCESSES AND STUBBORN ONGOING PROBLEMS--COMPARED WITH EUROPE'S IN THE PASTThree articles have appeared so far in this interlude-series on Turkish and Arab developmental records, and several more earlier on in the wider series that deals with democratic prospects of the various Arab countries, Iraq's included. What now?
Well, an effort to round off your perspective on Turkish and Arab developmental struggles and problems --- plus, of course, some notable successes in modern Turkey. To that end, a broader comparative approach is needed than used so far . . . above all, with the long pioneering trajectory of European modernization from the late Middle Ages on, our main reference point. When these comparative signposts are strung out and fully spotlighted here, you'll likely have a better appreciation of how the struggles and problems that continue to buffet the Turkish and Arab peoples these days --- for that matter, peoples in other developing regions --- also hounded the Europeans for centuries on end, and often in more violent and destructive ways.
No exaggeration, just the opposite.
If anything, historically viewed over the last 5 centuries, those developmental and modernizing struggles caused more havoc and far more bloodshed in European modernizing endeavors than they have so far in the Middle East, never mind Latin America or Asia minus China in the mad destructive Maoist era. To show this, in general comparative terms --- internal and external developments weaved together --- is our general thrust here.
To bring it off, three sets of remarks will uncoil with brisk and busy analysis, each set hogging a division of its own . . . part one, part two, and so on. In the third part, some general comparisons will be made between the developmental records of Europe and other regions of the world, a rapid moving survey that will likely surprise most buggy visitors.
INTRODUCTION TO THE ARGUMENT
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 6:47 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
November 10, 2004
THE US ELECTIONS AND WEST EUROPE: AN EXCHANGE WITH A BRITISH-AMERICAN CITIZENThe buggy prof --- taking another rest over the last month for physical reasons (sore hands and wrists) --- now finds that he can sit at a p.c. once more and bang out some observations without much pain, thank heavens. The following exchange, initiated by a U.S. citizen who has UK citizenship as well and has been living and working in Britain for decades, deals with the outcome of the recent US presidential election and the reactions in West Europe to Bush's victory.
From Alan, an American Living in Britain:
I thought I would just share a few brief thoughts on the re-election of Bush, and the reaction in this country and on the Continent.
I'm surprised how many people seem to think the outcome has signaled the victory of Mordor, the ultra bad-guy in Lord of the Rings --- the ruler of the dark world. Many of the people I know seem hysterical in their Bushophobia.
One expects this here in West Europe, but all in all, from what I can tell, we Brits seem to accept the re-election with more equanimity than many people I've heard from and read about in the States or on the Continent. I say this, as you know, as no great fan myself of Bush; but I found Kerry, his opponent, about as substantial as candy-floss. What's more, I'm not sure what Kerry as a president would do that would be so different, substantively, than Bush himself. Unfortunately, as I didn't receive an absentee ballot, I couldn't vote. Had it come, I'm not sure who I would have voted for.
In foreign policy matters, I think Bush's position on Iraq is still sound for strategic reasons, even if the neo-con hopes for democracy in the Middle East strike me as naive. Sadly, his Administration's tactics in Iraq since the war itself ended in April 2003 have been full of blunders, a point you yourself made in one of your recent buggy articles. As for his views on stem cell
Posted by gordongordomr @ 9:55 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
November 12, 2004
THE BUSH RE-ELECTION AND THE EU REACTIONS: 1st of a Two-Article Mini-SeriesFrancis, a Briton living and working in France (after a long stay doing the same in Italy), has been a frequent contributor to the buggy site with his comments on European life and attitudes, not least toward the USA in the Bush era. Those comments are invariably valuable and stimulating --- doubly so because they draw on his own personal experiences and observations, made all the sharper by his long efforts as a writer, both of fiction and non-fiction. Once again, he has left prof bug and the visitor here in his debt. Note that his comments have been slightly edited to make them more understandable to American readers.
From Francis, A British Citizen Living in France:
I'm glad to see you back writing Prof Bug. I'm not going to criticize your evaluation of the US because I agree with it and in any case you live there and I don't. However I disagree somewhat with your summary of European trends.
First a nitpicking correction: you mispelled the name of the the right-wing Belgian party; it's called the Vlaams Blok.
Second and more important, as you yourself note, the far right has been gaining support all over the EU, not just in Belgium, and the major cause is easy to isolate: the ongoing failure everywhere to assimilate Muslim immigrants. Up to now, mainstream governing elites of either the left or right have bungled this pivotal challenge. Either they've sidestepped it entirely or --- in some countries --- mishandled it when they did try something, however obliquely. Belgium is a case in point. The VB received 1 million votes in the last general elections there out of a population of 10 million (not the electorate, the population), and its level of support continues to grow despite universal condemnation by everyone respectable in politics, the media, universities, or the churches. The fact that the Belgium Supreme Court h
Posted by gordongordomr @ 7:59 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
November 15, 2004
Bush's America And The EU: 2nd Article of a Mini-SeriesWhy a second article? Well, it's not really a new article --- rather the last part of the original article, published on November 13, 2004, after the buggy prof decided to break it into two halves; taken together, the resulting pair form a mini-series on the topic of EU domestic developments and their implications for US-European relations, now and in the future. Why the decision to slice up the original article? Nothing surprising really --- just that it turned out to be pretty long; maybe unseemly so. Much wiser, then, to have the brief mini-series. Note that the two articles go hand-in-glove, adhering to the initial organization: five main parts, plus a cluster of sub-divisions.
The first article, you might recall, covered parts one and two. About to unfold here, the second article takes up the argument where it was left dangling in mid-air and follows its twists and turns to the very end through three more parts.
THE FIRST ARTICLE'S ARGUMENT RECAPITULATED
To make sense of the analysis that follows, you really should read the first article or at least run your eye over its main points --- including the comments sent to the buggy prof by Francis, a British citizen living and working in France (after a lengthy stint in Italy). When you're finished with that chore, you should have a much better working idea why --- thanks to political and intellectual vacuums that have emerged over the decades in the EU --- right-wing populist parties, some moderate as in Denmark and Holland, others far more extremist as in France, have quickly moved of late to fill that void. Except for Britain and Ireland, that's true almost everywhere in the EU these days.
That said, whether or not you've read the article, a good jump-off point here would be to set out briefly its main findings --- a task that now follows.
Posted by gordongordomr @ 3:5 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
May 29, 2005
IDEOLOGIES AND ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE: 4th Article in a SeriesThis is the 4th article in a buggy series on how ideologies and institutions --- political, administrative, legal, financial, and business-organizational, including the multiple links between states and markets --- have created over the last several decades two kinds of dominant economic models in the advanced industrial countries. One of them, statist-capitalism, dominates Japan and the EU-15 Continental countries of West Europe. The other --- market-oriented capitalism --- prevails in the English-speaking countries of Britain, Australia, New Zealand, the US, and (to an extent) Ireland and Canada.
What We're Up To Today
Three Tasks Dominate . . .
our argument today, which is a direct follow-up of the previous three articles in the series. To grasp what we're up to here, it will have helped if you've read those three earlier articles or at least run your eye over them; but in case you haven't, part one today will briefly summarize many of the main points found in those earlier articles. In the series' 1st article --- it was published on May 3rd --- you'll also find a brief account of the various reasons that lay behind Prof Bug's fairly long absence on this web site . . . to be exact, a good two and a half months, always assuming that it interests you.
Each of the three tasks divides the argument into a separate part.
1) In part one, you'll find a deeper analysis of the two dominant forms of capitalism in the industrial world than the earlier articles in this series were able to unpack. Among other things, some variants in each group of industrial countries will be carefully distinguished --- even though, in the end, it turns out that these variants don't obliterate the much clearer distinction between the English-speaking market-oriented countries and the state-capitalism
Posted by gordongordomr @ 6:30 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
May 18, 2005
IDEOLOGIES AND ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE: 3rd Article in a SeriesThis is the 3rd buggy article published here since prof bug came back to the site earlier this month. If it interests you, you'll find an explanation in that article --- published May 3rd, 2005 -----click here. It should set you straight on the topic.
What We're Up To Today
Our argument today continues the mini-series started on May 3rd that deals with the role of institutions and ideologies --- the two interacting and mutually reinforcing --- in accounting for the superior performance of the US economy over the last century or more, always viewed in comparative ways. Compared with what precisely? The answer: with the statist-capitalisms that prevail in Japan and the EU-15 countries on the Continent. Yes, there are some noticeable differences between Japan and the EU Continental countries, just as there are some variants of the advanced regulatory and welfare-state economies in West Europe. Seen in comparative terms, though, those differences pale if these statist-economies are set against the capitalist model that prevails in the English-speaking countries --- Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada (to an extent), and above all the US itself --- all of which have more market-oriented economies.
The nature of the two systems was delved into at length in the previous two article. For present purposes, it should be enough to remind that what the underlying . . .
. . . Logic of The Two Systems Is:
In statist-capitalisms, remember, states dominate markets, and the logic of politics and hence political calculations and maneuverings trump the logic of market incentives and market adaptations to radical changes of all sorts ---- whether caused by revolutionary technologies, swift-moving globalizing forces, the surge of dynamic competitor countries in Pacific Asia and India, or vrious
Posted by gordongordomr @ 8:19 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
May 5, 2005
YANKEE-TWIT VS. EURO-JERK: Or Why The EU's Work Ethos Is ShotThis is the second article published since prof bug's return to this site on May 4th, 2005. If it interests you, you'll find an explanation in that article --- just below here --- for his long absence. Whether you read that explanation or not, what follows here will make more sense if you've at least looked over the substantive argument unveiled in that article. Toward the very end of today's follow-up analysis, you'll find an hilarious exchange between an American financial specialist who heads a dynamic, unusually successful hedge-fund and a half-British, half-French financial specialist whose own company in London just went belly up and wants a job with the American one. It's not just rollicking in its funny sarcasm --- on the American side --- but a vivid illustration of the huge gap in outlook and expectations that divides average Americans and Europeans about professional life and the work-ethos.
In the meantime, here are some buggy comments to help situate the exchange in a wider economic and social context.
What We're Up To Today
In the previous article, you'll recall, prof bug continued the ambitious, stretched-out series --- now in its 9th article --- on US ideologies on both the left and right: how they're unique; how they differ in the concrete from the dominant political heritages in Japan and the Continental EU-15 countries; and how --- the real payoff here --- they've shaped far different kinds of capitalist economies.
Those in Japan and in the EU-15 (aside from Britain) are statist-capitalisms, in which politics trumps economics, and the logic of political calculation and maneuvering dominates the logic of market incentives and adjustments to necessary changes --- whether to radically new technologies or to relentless, fast-moving globalizing forces --- that any economy has to undertake, sooner or later, to stay vigorous and competitive.
Posted by gordongordomr @ 9:29 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
May 3, 2005
BUGGY BACK: AMERICAN IDEOLOGIES AND AMERICAN ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE IN COMPARATIVE TERMSYes, buggy's back, and he thanks all those visitors to the buggy site who have inquired the last few weeks why he hasn't been publishing many articles of late . . . or any at all since mid-February.
Well, he's happy to say . . . nothing too serious behind the slowdown; no earthshaking causes involved at any rate. What then? Largely a buggy desire to do some other things for a while, all taking more time than the buggy prof had originally estimated --- nothing new there, just the opposite; plus, hesitant though he is to talk about himself here, a few mood-swings that, every so often, implode in the buggy mind and send it whirling in odd, off-the-wall ways. No matter. Not to fret. Why worry about some moody nuttiness? Daffy Duck did OK with it most of the time, no? In any case, Prof bug's still here --- is it so awful then?
Sooner or later, moreover, the head-stuff gyrations invariably slow down to a more manageable pace. When that happens, the prof's mind emerges fairly loose and freewheeling again, full of renewed verve and fresh kick-ass brio.
Like right now.
And right now too, quickly shift your own minds to the buggy business of the day --- a resumption of our strung-out series, 7 articles old now, on
How America's Unique Ideological Spectrum, On Both the Left and Right, Has Also Structured
An Unique Economic System --- Comparatively Viewed.
Since December 2005, an ambitious series on this country's ideological heritages on the left and right has been chugging along, even though --- the last three months or so -- at a pretty tentative lumbering speed. No help for it. Not as long as buggy was on whirligig cycle anyway. So far, a good 7 articles on the topic have appeared; this is the 8th. After the initial article, the series has been probi
Posted by gordongordomr @ 4:46 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
June 11, 2005
IDEOLOGIES AND ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE: 5th Article in a Series
This, the 5th article in a series on the economic performance of the two dominant forms or capitalism in the industrial world --- state-capitalisms in Japan and on the EU-15 Continent and market-oriented capitalisms in the English-speaking countries --- is a direct follow-up of the previous article's argument. There are four parts, all logical extensions of that argument. If you haven't read it, you will profit from at least running your eye over its main points.
WHAT WE'RE UP TO TODAY
How the Four Parts of the Argument Unfold:
Don't worry about parts one and two being jumbled together at the outset here. There's a good logical reason, as you'll see in a moment. The key thing is to grasp how the argument unfolds in each part.
Parts 1 and 2. Joseph Schumpeter, a prominent Harvard professor in the 1930s and 1940s, is featured in this article . . . especially his important theoretical analysis of long-term economic growth, which has been elaborated on and refined by his small band of followers in economics since his death in 1950. In part 2, his crackling insights into the nature of capitalism and the causes of long-term economic growth are only sketched in, along with a lengthier analysis of the role of institutions that vary across countries, including the industrial ones that we have been probing in the current series. The role of a country's institutions --- economic, financial, legal, political, and administrative --- in technological innovation, especially of a radical restructuring sort for the entire national economy, is a key Schumpeterian concept, worked out by his followers in the last two decades. That includes how these various institutions interact --- not least, those in the public and private sectors --- and create a economy-wide system of national innovation.
The effectiveness and flexibility of these systems of
Posted by gordongordomr @ 11:28 AM CST [continue]