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The Clear Vision of Ronald Reagan

 
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Jul, 2005 11:55 am
Yeah, well, all the EU talk that has been floating around tends to lead us Americans to start thinking of you guys as a political entity.

And while that may be somewhat inaccurate, is it not somewhat of a victory for Europe? A solidified EU would be one of the most powerful Blocs in the world, for sure.

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Jul, 2005 12:13 pm
old europe wrote:
georgeob1 wrote:
The U.S. is a nation of immigrants and expatriates. The continuous creation of new synthesis is itself a part of our heritage and culture. This is not the case in Europe, possessed as it is of the 'centuries old traditions' ................. Perhaps Europe will quickly learn the art of assimilating such large numbers while sustaining its centuries old traditions, but I doubt it.



The European Union is a voluntary union of 25 nations or 460 million citizens in order to form an unprecedented multinational organization, far beyond such ideas as common free trade zones or cooperation of national institutions such as the police in an international way like Europol. The continuous creation of new synthesis is itself a part of this culture. This is not the case in the United States, possessed as they are of the 'centuries old traditions' ......... Perhaps the USA will quickly learn the art of assimilating such large numbers of immigrants from completely different cultural backgrounds while sustaining its centuries old traditions, but I doubt it.


Very clever paraphrase. However I would put my money on the adaptability of the United States over that of Old Europe in a heartbeat. Moreover I believe the evidence is all with me on that point. The EU has achieved remarkable success so far as an economic entity that permits the relatively free movement of people, however it has only just begun to face the far more difficult political aspects of union, and the results so far are not good. Moreover the principal nation states in the West have not yet begun to deal seriously with the underlying economic sclerosis which will otherwise exacerbate the political issues affecting the EU and reduce the social and economic flexibility of all the parties. Far too early for any boasts such as those in your paraphrase.
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Jul, 2005 12:56 pm
blatham wrote:

But the point here is that weapons manufacturers market their products in essentially the same manner as General Motors or WonderBread (those steel companies being a paradigm historical example we can look at). That is, they not only supply a market niche, they will seek to create new markets where necessary. Per standard sales techniques, they will try to convince you of your dire need for their products (use FDS regularly or risk watching your lover throw up between your legs - the threat of this is real and is imminent). From a corporate perspective, expansion and market penetration is the proper end. And, in the present period, logistics and support service corporations related to warfare (eg Carlyle, Halliburton, Richard Perle's group, etc) operate in the same manner. War is good good money. Peace ain't. External threats are a boon for business. Promotion of external threats is part of the sale pitch.


I generally agree with this proposition, and note that history provides examples of the application of this factor in the political actions of nations in Europe and North America. However it is but oe of many factors influencing the actions of nations and it is not at all the decisive one. For example the United States did not begin a serious rearmament program until late 1939, even though, owing to the depression, which reached its worst point in 1932, it should have started much earlier, based both on this principle and the evident strategic threats to our security growing in Asia and Europe. Sometimes other factors trump both strategic sense and the principal we are discussing together.

Quote:
The US now spends more on defence than the rest of the world combined. Try to imagine, just for a moment, how much money is involved in this. Threat, the promotion of the idea that the world is out to get the US, is a very good thing for big business.


With respect to defense spending:

One can quickly find several sites claiming this data through google. On examining the details one finds that the data is very mixed - in what is labelled as "2003" data one finds that 20% or so of the data are from earlier years and another 20% or so is noted as "estimated". Not very encouraging for starters. Most of these sites show the U.S. at 45% to 48% of the world total in 2004. The CIA factbook uses ppp (purchasing power parity) weighted figures, and is generally more complete. It showed the U.S. at 48% of the world total in 2002 and 44% in 2004. I don't know how Iraq expenditures will play in this, and I cant prove the trend apparent in these data, but I believe our relative share of the world total is decreasing as other nations, particularly in south and east Asia increase theirs. Our relative share of defense spending was much lower during the Cold war. Afterwards we reduced our defense spending, but not nearly so fast and much as did Europe and the former Soviet states. Now all of these states and, in particular, China and India are significantly increasing their spending. I believe it is easy to make too much of the supposed U.S. preponderance in military spending.

Interestingly the United States government has quite clearly shown its ability to dominate the supposed "military industrial complex". Indeed between 1992 and 2000 most of the corporations serving it were destroyed or gobbled up in a rapid consolidation - mostly driven by the government in the context of a drive to reduce costs. One could well argue that the devil here has merely become more compact and better organized as a result. However the government has already demonstrated its indifference to the fate of companies like Hughes Electronics, Grumman Aircraft, and many others.

It is clear that, particularly in Western Europe, many people have become preoccupied with the relative increase in U.S. power that was the inescapable result of our victory in the Cold War - a victory that arguably benefitted Europe more than any other area of the world. Perhaps that is understandable from their perspective. I believe the furors over Kyoto and the ICC were partly motivated by this preoccupation. It is equally understandable that Americans would see this transformation differently, also focusing on the fickleness and envy of former allies. For myself, I do not accept the proposition that U.S. military power is itself a problem for the world.
0 Replies
 
Lash
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Jul, 2005 09:06 pm
0 Replies
 
old europe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Jul, 2005 09:51 pm
georgeob1 wrote:
The EU has achieved remarkable success so far as an economic entity that permits the relatively free movement of people, however it has only just begun to face the far more difficult political aspects of union, and the results so far are not good.


You tend to forget the fact that the Eastern European countries were communist countries with economies literally lying in ruins just 15 years ago. People were dying while trying to cross the borders from east to west. I hold the adaptability of the United States in high regards, but imagine the situation you would be facing had, for example, all the Central American States down to, let's say Colombia suddenly became part of the US 15 years ago.

Comparing Europe or the European Union today with the US without taking into account these immense changes that Europe was confronted with seems to be quite invalid.

Of course the European nations are faced with many difficulties, but so are the United States. Given the very young age of the EU in its present form (the Union was founded on 1st November, 1993) I think we are doing pretty well.

For further reference see American History 1776-1788 Very Happy
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Jul, 2005 10:01 pm
I have more confidence in the emerging democracies of Eastern Europe than I do in the principal continental nations of "Old Europe". Both face serious demographic decline, however the nations of the East are embracing free market solutions that will promote economic growth (and perhaps repopulation) while those of the West are clinging to outmoded Social democratic schemes that they can no longer sustain - all in the midst of a continuing economic stagnation. This is a prescription for steep decline with no exit in sight.
0 Replies
 
old europe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Jul, 2005 10:29 pm
georgeob1 wrote:
I have more confidence in the emerging democracies of Eastern Europe than I do in the principal continental nations of "Old Europe". Both face serious demographic decline, however the nations of the East are embracing free market solutions that will promote economic growth (and perhaps repopulation) while those of the West are clinging to outmoded Social democratic schemes that they can no longer sustain - all in the midst of a continuing economic stagnation. This is a prescription for steep decline with no exit in sight.


Now you are trying to use Rumsfeld terminology to divide "Old Europe" and "New Europe". I think this will fail. The western European states will have to adapt their economic models, and so will the eastern states.

"embracing free market solutions that will promote economic growth", sorry, George, but that sounds like xeroxed from Ayn Rand. Norway for example is, by American standards, a socialist state, and yet you can't deny that what we are seeing in Norway is substantial economic growth.

Now the demographic decline is an entirely different matter, but especially here statistic are very deceiving. I don't trust the projections offered by op-ed authors very much, and the actual numbers are quite tricky to read.

Same's true for the United States. You offered some numbers earlier on 'average female fertility', but failed to give a key on how these numbers are divided between white English-speaking families and Hispanic immigrant families, just as an example.

Yet I would dare to claim that demographic trends are very hard to project especially as the younger generation of European Union citizens are beginning to claim their rights to choose any country to live and work in, and are moving to and fro. I dare to predict that the projections given today based on data sometimes several years old do not necessarily reflect the situation we are looking at here today.
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Bi-Polar Bear
 
  1  
Reply Fri 29 Jul, 2005 06:30 am
Despite extreme nearsightedness (later corrected with contact lenses), he played football at Northside High School. In his junior year he also won his first role in a play, "You and I," by Philip Barry. He was not an especially attentive student but managed to get fairly good grades with the help of a nearly photographic memory

He made 50 movies, a number of them about World War II. "The Hasty Heart," in 1950, took him overseas for the first and only time until he went into politics. In the war, poor eyesight had kept him from the front, and he spent his years in the Army making training films. But in his autobiography he wrote of wanting nothing more after the war than a good rest and time with his wife, the actress Jane Wyman; in fact, they had both been in Hollywood throughout the war

When the football season ended, Mr. Reagan was out of work again. But two months later, WOC hired him as a staff announcer for $100 a month. He learned how to read a script, rehearsing commercials until they sounded spontaneous. It was a talent he would use to great effect later in life

This sounds like a man with poor vision who was adept at playing pretend to me. Laughing Laughing Laughing

Source
http://www.diplom.org/manus/Presidents/rwr/rwrobit.html
0 Replies
 
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Sat 30 Jul, 2005 02:59 am
old europe wrote:

For further reference see American History 1776-1788 Very Happy

Not sure what you meant here, but until 1789 America was limping along with the weak Confederation of states before the Constitution was written and ratified.
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Sat 30 Jul, 2005 03:26 pm
old europe wrote:
Now you are trying to use Rumsfeld terminology to divide "Old Europe" and "New Europe". I think this will fail. The western European states will have to adapt their economic models, and so will the eastern states.


I'm not trying to divide Europeans at all. They, by the way, are doing the job fairly well on their own.

Quote:
"embracing free market solutions that will promote economic growth", sorry, George, but that sounds like xeroxed from Ayn Rand. Norway for example is, by American standards, a socialist state, and yet you can't deny that what we are seeing in Norway is substantial economic growth.

That Ayn Rand endorsed these ideas doesn't make them wrong. Norway is an exception to most rules, due principally to the very large (relative to population) oil revenues it derives from the North & Norwegian Sea oil fields. Take away the petroleum and the economy is just limping along. The Norwegians are prudently saving a large fraction of the revenues, and will likely be prosperous - and Socialist - for a long time. They are not a part of the EU.

Quote:
Now the demographic decline is an entirely different matter, but especially here statistic are very deceiving. I don't trust the projections offered by op-ed authors very much, and the actual numbers are quite tricky to read.
I guess you are saying that the numbers can be ignored. There are few statistics collected by governments that are as accurate and complete as the records of births and deaths among their residents. OK by me if you wish to ignore these facts, but it doesn't lend confidence to your conclusions.

Quote:
Same's true for the United States. You offered some numbers earlier on 'average female fertility', but failed to give a key on how these numbers are divided between white English-speaking families and Hispanic immigrant families, just as an example.
Fertility among immigrants has always been higher in this country than among the native born. Even among white Americans, fertility is higher than prevails in Europe. On the whole Americans are between three and four years younger than Europeans - a huge difference by demographic standards.

Quote:
Yet I would dare to claim that demographic trends are very hard to project especially as the younger generation of European Union citizens are beginning to claim their rights to choose any country to live and work in, and are moving to and fro. I dare to predict that the projections given today based on data sometimes several years old do not necessarily reflect the situation we are looking at here today.


There are no trends yet detectable that would support your thesis. Not only is female fertility lower among Europeans of child-bearing age, but, as a result of past low birthrates, the percent of the population in these age groups is smaller than in this country. Europe has a smaller fraction of its population producing more Europeans and, in addition, a lower production rate among them. For this reason sustained demographic trends such as this tend to accelerate, not diminish. The predictions you "dare" to make are quite contrary to the facts and reason.
0 Replies
 
old europe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 31 Jul, 2005 05:20 pm
georgeob1 wrote:
I'm not trying to divide Europeans at all. They, by the way, are doing the job fairly well on their own.


Funny, but I sometimes have exactly the same impression about Americans.

georgeob1 wrote:
That Ayn Rand endorsed these ideas doesn't make them wrong.


I read an interesting quote once, but can't remember by whom. It went along the lines

"It is interesting that a country, funded by and based on the values and morals of Puritan immigrants, seems to embrace something as a core value that every Christian church teaches us to be a deadly sin: covetousness."

Reading Ayn Rand always reminds me of that quote.

georgeob1 wrote:
Norway is an exception to most rules, due principally to the very large (relative to population) oil revenues it derives from the North & Norwegian Sea oil fields. Take away the petroleum and the economy is just limping along.


According to official Norwegian numbers, it has a GDP per capita of $ 50,750 (even though the "CIA World Factbook" only lists a p.c. GDP of $ 40,000). Oil and gas extraction plus oil and gas related services constitute around 19% of the Norwegian GDP. Take that away and the GDP would still be higher than that of the United States - indeed an exceptional record.

georgeob1 wrote:
The Norwegians are prudently saving a large fraction of the revenues, and will likely be prosperous - and Socialist - for a long time.


The current administration is saving most of the revenues, and even though the opposition parties would like to see more of it spent I don't see the government changing its disposition.

georgeob1 wrote:
They are not a part of the EU.


That's true. I'm sorry, I wasn't sure if you were just bashing the EU or all of Europe.

georgeob1 about demographic decline wrote:
I guess you are saying that the numbers can be ignored. There are few statistics collected by governments that are as accurate and complete as the records of births and deaths among their residents. OK by me if you wish to ignore these facts, but it doesn't lend confidence to your conclusions.


Nope, don't want to ignore 'these' numbers, but again it would be helpful to know what we are talking about - the EU 25, the continental European Union or maybe all of Europe...
The total European natural population growth for example was about 63 000 last year, with positive numbers for the 25 countries of the European Union by some 183 000 and negative by 247 000 for the other member states.

georgeob1 about demographic decline wrote:
Fertility among immigrants has always been higher in this country than among the native born. Even among white Americans, fertility is higher than prevails in Europe. On the whole Americans are between three and four years younger than Europeans - a huge difference by demographic standards. There are no trends yet detectable that would support your thesis. Not only is female fertility lower among Europeans of child-bearing age, but, as a result of past low birthrates, the percent of the population in these age groups is smaller than in this country. Europe has a smaller fraction of its population producing more Europeans and, in addition, a lower production rate among them. For this reason sustained demographic trends such as this tend to accelerate, not diminish.



Declining birthrates are a fact in both Europe and America, yet undeniably more so in Europe. Nevertheless, the overall population in Europe remains relatively steady if you take immigration into account, while it is continously growing in the US. The question is obviously whether you deem immigration to be desirable or not.

You seem to imply that continental Europe has more problem facing immigration, yet most immigration from without the Union is taking place into the UK, both percentagewise and in absolute numbers. This is undeniably creating issues that will have to be adressed and that are being adressed.

Nevertheless the United States are facing quite similar challenges. Out of a population of about 260 millions (of citizens 5 years and over), almost 50 millions speak a language other than English at home. Almost 30 millions speak Spanish, and more than 20 millions out of those speak English less than "very well", according to recent census data.

I don't think this will lead to the question of "cultural survival" for the United States neither. That is, unless you view the English language at the core of US identity, which I wouldn't necessarily subscribe to. English is not the official language of the United States, and that it was the language of choice for quite some time is rather astonishing, given the various immigration waves during the last centuries.
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Sun 31 Jul, 2005 09:14 pm
The CIA world factbook GDP data are based on purchasing power parity, reflecting the relative difference in prices for goods. They are more accurate for purpose of comparison. Using that data and your 19% of GDP for petroleum, Norway's percapita GDP is a bit less than that in the United States. Moreover the nmon-petroleum sector is not growing at all.

I am not bashing Europe any more than most Europeans on these threads can be said to be bashing the United States. However, it is true that I have little respect for the political policies recently put forward by the governments of France, Germany, Belgium and Spain. The rest are decidedly better in my view.

I bel;ieve your rationalizations of the very serious demographic problems Europe now faces are very shortsighted.
0 Replies
 
Einherjar
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Aug, 2005 05:38 am
georgeob1 wrote:
The CIA world factbook GDP data are based on purchasing power parity, reflecting the relative difference in prices for goods. They are more accurate for purpose of comparison.


PPP isn't completely unproblematic. The parities are usually based on American consumption patterns, European consumption patterns, or a bit of each. This reduces the score of economies with price levels and consumption patterns which tend to differ from the US or European one.

Example, not required reading:
(If in the US item A is cheap and item B expensive, and consumers thus consume three times as much of item A as of item B, then the consumption basket based on the US will contain three times as much of item A as of item B. The same basket then applied to a country where the item B is cheaper than item A, and consumption of item B is higher than of item A will still weigh item A as equal to three times item B.)
[/Ex[/b]ample]

Prices in Norway tend to differ quite a bit from prices in the US and Europe, in part because of stark differences in the labour market. Government funded education trough the university level has resulted in a highly educated workforce, raising the demand for unskilled labour, meaning cheap labour isn't all that cheap. This warps price levels considerably in favour of the products of skilled labour. In terms of our purchasing power with respect to such products I think the unadjusted GDP of 50 000 should be relatively close to the mark, seeing as how these are the products we export, and which thus form the base of exchange rates. Purchasing power in terms of the products of cheap labour is lower, but I don't that should drag our GDP as far down as 40 000 given a fair consumption basket. I bet the CIA is using a US based basket.

[quote="georgeob1"]Using that data and your 19% of GDP for petroleum, Norway's percapita GDP is a bit less than that in the United States. Moreover the nmon-petroleum sector is not growing at all.[/quote]

This should settle the growth dispute:

Graph
Source of graph

You'll see the mainland economy is growing just fine. Nothing spectacular, just regular growth. (The mainland economy being the economy excluding petroleum, fishing, shipping and activities related to those)
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2005 03:24 pm
Yes, it indicates that Norway's domestic economy is (now) growing at a rate slightly higher than the best of the continental European economies, but lower than those of Britain and the United States -- more or less as I indicated earlier.
0 Replies
 
old europe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2005 04:12 pm
Well, the best of the continental European economies would be those of Luxembourg, San Marino and Switzerland.

On the other hand you have to take into account the widening income gap. The United States is far ahead of all of Europe on this issue.

Take minimum wages. In the US of 1963, the federal minimum wage was today's equal of $7.25 an hour. Last year the federal minimum wage was $5.15. At the same time American top managers earn up to 400 times as much as their employees, while European top manager earn a mere tenth of that.


But if we're looking at growth instead of absolute numbers, the US is indeed statistically doing a good job. Productivity growth was 3.1 percent in 2004. That's about the same as Korea, a bit less than Japan and a bit more than Mexico.

Then there's China. Statistically almost leading the field, worldwide. Except for - Turkey! Labor productivity growth rate of 9.1 percent and GDP growth above 10 percent, a rate higher than any of the Asian countries.
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old europe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2005 04:13 pm
Might add that recently, I seem to know a lot of people who are learning Mandarin.
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2005 04:29 pm
I think your point about China is well taken. We could also add India to the list. Wealth will inexorably flow to countries with greater innovation and productivity. I believe that requires relatively free movement of capital and free labor markets, both to enable the rapid mobilization of resources and to create the profit potential need to sustain investment and innovation. All of the Western World faces a serious challenge form the growing acceptance of market economics by Asian countries and the prosperity and economic competition that results from it. I believe the United States will be challenged by all this, but is also far better suited to the task than are any of the nations of Western Europe -- except perhaps Switzerland - the exception to every rule.

France, Belgium and Germany in particular must face up to the unsustainability of their current social welfare programs - with or without China. Their protectionist policies are hurtful to themselves and their new EU partners in Eastern Europe.
0 Replies
 
old europe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2005 05:02 pm
georgeob1 wrote:
France, Belgium and Germany in particular must face up to the unsustainability of their current social welfare programs - with or without China. Their protectionist policies are hurtful to themselves and their new EU partners in Eastern Europe.


France, Belgium and Germany face indeed some severe tasks. Their current social welfare programs appear to be unsustainable indeed. That doesn't necessarily mean that those programs are wrong or should be abandoned. Look at it in the context of the EU:

Ireland and Germany, for example, seem to be quite comparable concerning the extent of social welfare programs. But while the entry into the Euro zone, the EU programs and its geography seem to profit Ireland, the opposite is true for Germany. The entry of its eastern neighbours does to Germany about what CAFTA and Mexico's proximity does to the US.

So while economic structure and policy appear to be the same and might be concluded to lead towards the same results, this does not happen in the real world.
Which is why I don't think that a mere adaptation of the American model would necessarily do the same thing for Europe that it does for the states.

Nevertheless changes are necessary and about to happen. Germany's (probable) elections a year earlier than scheduled seem to lead to that conclusion. Probably a conservative (whatever that means in comparison to US standards) and more pro-US government will be elected. What that means on the international stage remains to be seen.
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2005 08:33 pm
I don't think extensive social welfare programs are wrong or ill-intended - only that they generally are not economically sustainable and that, over time, their bad second order effects eventually overwhelm the benefits they provide, leaving everyone worse off. The symptoms of this process are quite evident in Western Europe.

It takes time to train a workforce to effectively manipulate the system and direct its attention away from an ethic of work and achievement. When that task is done the downward spiral intensifies. For that reason social welfare systems appear to work for a while, but end up destroying the environment that made them possible.

I don't think the Ireland - Germany dichotomy in any way dilutes my point about the long term bad effects of these welfare systems: Ireland is different enough from Germany and the process there new enough to fully explain the difference. Ireland is the youngest country in Europe with a median age of 33, and Germany the oldest, with a median age of 41. The eight year difference is huge in demographic terms. (The U.S. median age is 35). Ireland is in the first flush of an era of prosperity, and the entrepreneurial spirit is alive there and well, as are innovation and creativity. Taxes are significantly lower, leaving profit incentives less diluted.

I don't advocate that Europeans 'merely' adopt the much scorned (by them) "American model". Rather that they do something to check the growing economic sclerosis that is strengthening its hold on their economies. Opinions differ as to how to do this, but the usual recipe involves combinations of reduced regulation of labor markets; reduced taxes; increased economic incentives for work, productivity enhancement, and profit; free movement of capital; and sustaining the population of workers in the country either by population replacement or delayed retirement. The problem is the current governments (and the populations as well) reject all of these measures, calling instead for the elimination of "tax competition" among governments and other equivalent absurdities.

Perhaps the next German government will quickly reverse all these trends, but I doubt it.
0 Replies
 
Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2005 10:30 pm
bm
0 Replies
 
 

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