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Posts Tagged ‘Europe’
June 28th, 2019 at 10:10 am
Image of the Day: Disposable Income in U.S. Versus Elsewhere
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We’ve regularly highlighted the folly of leftist American politicians suggesting that Europeans somehow enjoy higher living standards than supposedly backward Americans.  This OECD data punctures that myth nicely:

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Disposable Income Comparison

Disposable Income Comparison

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August 9th, 2017 at 12:12 pm
Image of the Day: Americans Pay Less for Electricity — a LOT Less
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Want to pay a lot more for electricity?

If so, you  can move to Europe and other more righteous “green” economies and make your dreams come true:

Americans Enjoy Lower Electricity Rates

Americans Enjoy Lower Electricity Rates

We recently noted how if most European and other developed nations were U.S. states, they’d be comparatively poor ones.  As we further noted, that’s especially true when one adjusts for comparative cost of living, which the comparison above helps illustrate.

July 28th, 2017 at 12:48 pm
Image of the Day: Almost All European Nations Would Be Poor U.S. States
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From the Mises Institute, a helpful corrective to the strangely persistent myth that life is better in Europe than the United States.  As this graph demonstrates, if European nations were U.S. states, almost all of them would be poor ones.  That also includes Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Most European Nations Would Be Poor U.S. States

Most European Nations Would Be Poor U.S. States

Only three nations – Switzerland (which notably has no minimum wage), Luxembourg and Norway – exceed the U.S. median income, and keep in mind that doesn’t account for the far lower cost of living (i.e., purchasing power) in the U.S.  Something to keep handy the next time Bernie Sanders speaks of overseas utopias, or friends on social media instruct us all on some better way of living, as Merle Haggard would say.

June 28th, 2016 at 12:51 pm
Fact of the Day: Mass Shootings More Common in Europe Than the U.S.
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The lazy assumption that America suffers a uniquely high mass shooting rate is the foundation upon which 2nd Amendment restrictionists must rely.

After all, if allegedly more “enlightened” nations like France or Norway that effectively prohibit so-called “assault weapons” (a meaningless slur, but that’s another subject entirely) suffer a mass shooting rate as high or higher than the U.S., then their rationale for restricting law-abiding citizens’ right to keep and bear arms collapses.

Unfortunately for them, as illustrated by crimeresearch.org, that’s precisely what the real-world facts show.  France, Norway  and other European nations actually suffer higher mass shooting rates than the U.S.  In fact, out of 18 European and North American nations measured, the U.S. mass shooting rate is all the way down at number 12:

Comparing Mass Shooting Rates

Comparing Mass Shooting Rates

It’s another inconvenient truth for those who wish to pointlessly restrict the self-defense rights of law-abiding Americans.

September 22nd, 2014 at 11:44 am
If Britain Were a U.S. State, It Would Be the Second-Poorest
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An interesting new bit of original research by The Spectator’s Fraser Nelson entitled “Why Britain Is Poorer Than Any US State, Other Than Mississippi” helps reconfirm the concept of American Exceptionalism even amid the Obama Malaise. First, Mr. Nelson takes a welcome swipe against the all-too-common habit of American self-criticism:

No one beats up America better than Americans.  They openly debate their inequality, conduct rigorous studies about it, argue about economics versus culture as causes.  Their universities study it, with a calibre of analysis not found in Britain.  Americans get so angry about educational inequality that they make films like “Waiting for Superman.”  And the debate is so fierce that the rest of the world looks on, and joins in lamenting America’s problems.  A shame:  we’d do better to get a little angrier at our own.”

Nelson then gets to the heart of the matter:

If Britain were to somehow leave the EU and join the US, we’d be the 2nd-poorest state in the union.  Poorer than Missouri.  Poorer than much-maligned Kansas and Alabama.  Poorer than any state other than Mississippi, and if you take out the south east we’d be poorer than that, too.”

He also addresses the cliche of horrific American inequality along the way:

It’s not surprising that America’s best-paid 10 per cent are wealthier than our top 10 percent.  That fits our general idea of America:  a country where the richest do best while the poorest are left to hang.  The figures just don’t support this.  As the below chart shows, middle-earning Americans are better off than Brits.  Even lower-income Americans, those at the bottom 20 percent, are better-off than their British counterparts.  The only group actually worse-off are the bottom 5 per cent.”

Obama may not believe that American Exceptionalism is of any greater merit than British Exceptionalism, but the facts and some Britons contradict that notion.

March 14th, 2014 at 1:34 pm
Could Obama Neuter Putin by Increasing Natural Gas Exports?

That is the interesting idea being floated by commentators looking for ways to halt Russia’s military adventurism in Ukraine.

If direct military intervention is off the table – and at this point it’s hard to imagine the Obama administration going that route – then exporting America’s vast new reservoir of liquefied natural gas to Europe could be a way to deter Russian aggression in the region while at the same time strengthening our allies.

Gazprom, a huge state-controlled gas provider in Russia, supplies much of Europe. Hesitancy on the part of some European governments to respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is tied to Russia’s use of Gazprom to raise prices or restrict access when confronted with political situations it does not like. Increasing United States exports of its natural gas stock to Europe would diminish this threat substantially, allowing America’s European allies to take a more assertive stance against further Russian force.

In order to wean Europe off of Russian gas, President Barack Obama “should order the Energy Department to expedite authorization for roughly 25 liquefied natural gas export facilities. Demand all decisions within six weeks. And express major U.S. support for a southern-route pipeline to export Caspian Sea gas to Europe without traversing Russia or Ukraine,” writes Charles Krauthammer.

This solution puts an abundant natural resource to work for America’s national security interests, and also increases the number of domestic production and manufacturing jobs. The only hitch is that it requires President Obama to commit his administration to an energy policy opposed by liberal environmentalists. That alone probably dooms an otherwise win-win alternative to direct military intervention or sitting pat while Russia reconstitutes the Soviet Union. If so, it’s more confirmation that current Oval Office decisions are based more on pleasing special interest groups than helping domestic workers or our foreign allies.

June 6th, 2012 at 2:36 pm
Europe: In For a Penny, In For a Pound
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Pity our poor friends in Europe. They just can’t seem to stomach the lesson that the faltering state of the continental monetary union has made all but impossible to ignore. Rather than making a clean break from the common currency, it now appears that the smart set wants to double down. This item, appearing earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal, is nothing short of chilling in its implications:

Germany is sending strong signals that it would eventually be willing to lift its objections to ideas such as common euro-zone bonds or mutual support for European banks if other European governments were to agree to transfer further powers to Europe.

If embraced, the move would deepen in fundamental ways Europe’s political and fiscal union and represent one of the boldest steps taken by the bloc since the euro was launched. Germany has never before been willing to discuss the conditions it believes necessary to move toward assuming common risks within the euro zone. Now, although the end may be a long way off, it appears willing to discuss those conditions.

“The more that other member states get involved with this development and are prepared to give up sovereign rights to get European institutions more involved, the more we will be prepared to play an active role in developing things like a banking union,” a German official familiar with the discussions told The Wall Street Journal. “You can’t have one without the other.”

Translation: the Europeans are seriously considering throwing the car in reverse and seeing just how far they can push the speedometer. It’s true that an economic union without a matching political consolidation was always doomed to fail (the practical effect has been Southern Europe living off the North), but the move towards a true United States of Europe brings to mind James Madison’s observation from Federalist #10 about destroying liberty in order to cure the problem of political faction: the cure is worse than the disease.

A continent-wide government will destroy all pretense of national sovereignty throughout Europe, leaving the bureaucrats of Brussels to steer a bold new course that will vanquish the national character of some of the world’s proudest nations, perpetuate a failing economic model, and cede previously democratic powers to unelected technocrats.

Let us pray that Europe doesn’t go down this road. If it does, the burden of Western leadership will fall even more disproportionately on American shoulders than it does already.

May 30th, 2012 at 1:08 pm
Greek Liberals’ Economic Recovery Plan: Lie to the Rest of Europe
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It’s almost hackneyed at this point to evoke Greece as a warning sign to the rest of the Western World; as a promise of what’s in store should the artificial decadence of the welfare state completely strangle individual initiative in developed nations. Yet there’s a reason that California on the Aegean is always the cautionary tale of choice: when it comes to outright political absurdity, the birthplace of democracy is constantly outdoing itself. The most recent example — which has to be read to believed — comes courtesy of James Angelos reporting in the Wall Street Journal:

Greece’s radical left party has upended the country’s politics with an idea as simple as it is seductive: Athens can renege on the deals it made in exchange for a bailout, and still remain in the euro.

Greece’s future, and possibly that of Europe’s monetary union, may depend on how many Greeks buy into the idea.

The Coalition of the Radical Left, known as Syriza, is competing with Greece’s conservative New Democracy to become the biggest party in Parliament in June 17 elections that could send further shock waves through Europe …

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras, a 37-year-old former Communist youth activist, promises that despite its dire financial straits, Greece can halt austerity programs, restore social spending and nevertheless continue to receive the payments from the euro zone and the International Monetary Fund that keep it from bankruptcy.

The repeated warnings to the contrary from Europe and the IMF are simply efforts to blackmail Greece into doing what they want it to do, Mr. Tsipras says.

A few facts about Greece to consider in light of Mr. Tsipras’s demagoguery. This is a nation where public employees have no compunction about taking monthly paychecks 14 times a year (yes, you read that right: 14) and where tax evasion is so widespread that it’s estimated that 30 percent of the national economy is in the black market. And now the proposed solution from one of the nation’s two major political parties is to welch on a deal with the rest of the continent?

Greece is experiencing an economic crisis, to be certain. But it looks increasingly like that is only a symptom of a deeper moral crisis.

April 13th, 2012 at 1:43 pm
How Demographics Affect Defense Spending

The Daily Caller profiles a new book, Population Decline and the Remaking of Great Power Politics, that explains why aging and shrinking populations in China, Japan, and Europe will dramatically alter American foreign policy.

Some of the book’s findings are startling:

  • By the end of this decade India will surpass China as the most populous nation.
  • Japan will lose 1 million people a year by 2060, contracting from 127 million to less than 87 million.
  • Europe’s expensive social welfare model and aging populations will increasingly spur governments to scale back military spending in order to fund burgeoning entitlement program.
  • Even though America’s current rate of replacing itself gives it a demographic advantage, unless serious reforms are instituted to entitlement spending, it too will continue to cut military expenditures to pay for rapidly expanding benefits for the elderly.

India surpassing China means that democracy – not a communist-controlled autocracy – will be the government adopted by the most populous country on Earth.  It may also encourage the United States and India to forge a closer strategic partnership around shared values to check China’s ambitions.

And of course, we’ve already seen how the European model of heavy on services, light on defense is making the region – though not a few individual countries – increasingly irrelevant when it comes to making the world safe.

In his budgets, President Barack Obama has chosen to increase spending on entitlements and gut defense, arguing like a European that multilateral institutions such as the United Nations and NATO can accomplish more than any one nation.

Paul Ryan highlighted this danger in his latest budget proposal, “The Path to Prosperity: A Blueprint for American Renewal.”  In it, he faults President Obama for cutting $500 billion from the Defense Department instead of making the changes needed to entitlements so that Americans can be protected both at home and abroad.

Americans need not accept decline through badly prioritized budgets.  Instead, using innovative entitlement reforms like the ones in Ryan’s Path to Prosperity, we can have sustainable entitlement programs and a robust defense.

We’ve got the people.  Now we need to implement the right policies.

May 20th, 2011 at 1:12 pm
Why a European “Must” Run the IMF

In an email regarding yesterday’s post, reader Eric Coykendall sent this helpful article from Foreign Policy explaining why a European traditionally heads the International Monetary Fund (IMF): a so-called “gentlemen’s agreement” brokered by economist John Maynard Keynes.

The origins of the gentlemen’s agreement date back to shortly after the Bretton Woods conference in 1944, which established both the IMF and World Bank. According to Miles Kahler’s history, Leadership Selection in the Major Multilaterals, Bretton Woods architect John Maynard Keynes had assumed that his main collaborator at the conference, Treasury Department official Harry Dexter White, would run the IMF. U.S. President Harry Truman also supported White’s choice. However, Treasury Secretary Frederick Vinson, with strong backing from Wall Street, argued that an American should run the World Bank — Washington Post publisher Eugene Meyer got that job in 1946 — and that it wouldn’t be proper for the United States to run both of the world’s major financial institutions. White’s possible communist sympathies — he’s widely suspected today of having been a Soviet agent — may also have played a role in the decision. In the end, Belgium’s Camille Gutt was eventually appointed to run the IMF.

In the wake of scandal engulfing the recently resigned Dominique Strauss-Kahn from France, developing nations like Brazil and South Africa are pushing for a non-European to manage the world’s leading investment/bailout bank.  In the article sent by Coykendall,  FP makes this keen observation about the European double-standard likely to decide the outcome.

The question of nationality is sure to come up again if Strauss-Kahn steps down, but Europeans will not be eager to part with the position. Some, such as German government spokesman Christoph Steegmans, argue that owing to the IMF’s critical role in stemming Europe’s current financial crisis, the managing director should be someone who is familiar with “Europe’s particularities, the currency questions and also the political circumstances here.” Strangely, when the IMF was primarily giving loans to countries in Africa and Latin America, local knowledge didn’t seem to be quite as much of a factor.

April 29th, 2011 at 1:10 pm
It Takes People to Grow an Economy

The Wall Street Journal reports China’s controversial one-child policy will have disastrous effects on the country’s capacity for economic growth, a stunning rebuke to policymakers who argue that predetermining fertility rates is key to eliminating poverty.

Since the one-child-per-couple policy went into effect in 1980, over 400 million births have been prevented, decreasing the amount of poor people and thus the rate of poverty.  (Though since the policy applies to everyone, it has also reduced the amount of children born to middle class and wealthy families; i.e. those most likely to produce entrepreneurs and innovators.)

An informal advocacy group in China is trying to overturn the one-child policy because of a generational imbalance that threatens continued economic growth:

They say China’s elderly population is expanding rapidly as Mao-era baby boomers retire, putting new burdens on society to cover the cost of their retirement. At the same time, China’s labor force is due to start shrinking in 2016, reversing the demographic phenomenon of a widening pool of low-cost labor that powered a manufacturing boom over the past three decades.

It takes people to grow an economy.  If Chinese policymakers continue to eliminate entrepreneurs and workers from the economy, they will soon experience the same chilling effects of the demographic winter settling in over Western Europe and Japan.

December 20th, 2010 at 3:29 pm
March 20, 2000: Snowfall Becoming “Very Rare.” December 20, 2010: Snow Grinds Europe to Halt
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March 2000:  Charles Onians of Britain’s The Independent penned a global-warming doomsday warning entitled “Snowfalls Are Now Just a Thing of the Past”:

Britain’s winter ends tomorrow with further indications of a striking environmental change:  snow is starting to disappear from our lives…  According to Dr. David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, within a few years winter snowfall will become ‘a very rare and exciting event.’  ‘Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,’ he said.”

Does “the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia” ring a bell?  It was at the center of last year’s “Climategate” scandal in which global warming alarmists were shown to have manipulated their research and plotted against scientists whose views differed from their own.

Fast forward ten years, to December 2010, and a report from Britain’s Mail Online entitled “Coldest December Since Records Began as Temperatures Plummet to Minus 10 C Bringing Travel Chaos Across Britain”:

Swathes of Britain skidded to a halt today as the big freeze returned – grounding flights, closing rail links and leaving traffic at a standstill.  And tonight the nation was braced for another 10 inches of snow and yet more sub-zero temperatures – with no letup in the bitterly cold weather for at least a month, forecasters have warned.  The Arctic conditions are set to last through the Christmas and New Year bank holidays and beyond as temperatures plummeted to -10 C (14 F).  The Met Office said this December was ‘almost certain’ to become the coldest since records began in 1910.”

Thanks to Al Gore’s amazing Internet, which provides us a record to test the amazingly ludicrous assurances that he and his fellow climate change alarmists have made.

May 27th, 2010 at 11:23 am
Obama to Europe: Borrow and Spend Even More
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One of the pillars of Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign was that America had become too didactic toward the rest of the world, particularly toward the more anti-American elements of Europe.  A kinder, gentler Obama would be the ointment to soothe all international discord, they promised.

But the Obama Administration has proven even more didactic than the Bush Administration.  The primary difference is that Obama bows to antagonists like Russia and the Palestinians, while disrespecting friends like Israel.

Now, Obama is even reneging on his “reset” stance toward Europe and self-righteously instructing them on how to pilot their economies.  Consider this opening paragraph from today’s Wall Street Journal front-page article entitled “U.S. Chides Europe’s Crisis Response:”

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner landed in Europe and reasserted a traditional American role of dispenser of financial advice to the world, telling European governments to get their fiscal houses in order.”

That’s pretty amusing stuff from an administration that quadrupled America’s deficit in its very first year.  What’s worse, his administration is insisting on more of the very policies that caused Europe’s economic and budgetary maladies.  Greece’s welfare spending required a $1 trillion bailout, and Portugal, Spain and England may not be far behind. Despite this self-evident reality, the Obama Administration instructs them to pursue more of the same.  According to the report, Geithner admonished European leaders “to keep pumping stimulus into their economies.”

This prompts the question of whether there exists any remaining tether whatsoever between the Obama Administration and reality.  The euro has plummeted following Greece’s bailout, and even the American Dow Jones Industrial Average fell below 10,000 yesterday on fears that the contagion will spread.

A word of advice to Europe:  reconsider your love affair with Obama before he steers you toward even greater catastrophe.

March 25th, 2010 at 4:07 pm
Report: Europe Continues to Stagnate. So Why Do Liberals Seek To Emulate It?
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American liberals love to praise supposedly superior European governance and culture, oblivious to the irony that they nevertheless continue to live in the United States.  This phenomenon became particularly visible during the ObamaCare ordeal, as liberals claimed that we must somehow join the rest of the “industrialized world” in providing unsustainable government-controlled healthcare.

Well, here’s a dose of sobering reality.  As noted on a front page story in today’s Wall Street Journal entitled “Europe’s Choice:  Growth or Safety Net,” Europe has stagnated economically for the past two decades compared to the United States.  Worse, this has occurred even as Europe continued its failure to carry their own weight with respectable defense expenditures.  From 1990 to 1999, Europe’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew 2.0%, compared to 3.3% for the U.S.  From 2000 to 2008, Europe only grew 1.7%, whereas the U.S. grew 2.2%.

Yet we’re supposed to emulate their example?  Can’t liberals just move there instead?

December 4th, 2009 at 12:57 pm
When Butter > Guns, a Nation = Toast

The Wall Street Journal offers some penetrating analysis on the inevitably inverse relationship between government financing of “guns” and “butter.”  When tax receipts dwindle, appropriators often choose between funding social welfare programs (butter) and national defense (guns).  Unsurprisingly, the European welfare state provides a cautionary example.

The overlooked culprit here is the rise of the modern welfare state. Since World War II and especially from the 1960s, Europe has built elaborate domestic income-maintenance programs, with government-run health care, pensions and jobless benefits. These are hugely expensive, requiring high taxes and government spending that is a huge proportion of GDP.

The Europeans’ obsession with income stabilization through higher taxes means there is less economic growth and less money to spend.  These continental priorities mirror the massive increases in social spending enacted or proposed under President Obama – economic stimulus, health care “reform,” cap-and-trade and job creation. 

As the U.S. federal deficit balloons, politicians and bureaucrats will look for ways to balance the books.  And given the current Administration’s and Congress’  love affair with “butter,” unfortunately, they’ll likely look to slash spending on national defense while our nation is at war.