In all fairness

Ok, let's be fair, for a moment, to one another, shall we? Let's all agree with the following simple observations:

1. There are many well-read, well-informed, intelligent people who support the war on Iraq,
but
There are many well-read, well-informed, intelligent people who oppose it too
and
There are many well-read, well-informed, intelligent people who don't know just what to think.

2. There are many loud, obnoxious, almost criminally stupid people who disagree with your position on the war. Ha ha!
but then
There are equally many loud, obnoxious, almost criminally stupid people who agree with you too. Oh no!

3. There are many dumb Americans,
and
There are many dumb Europeans
in fact
There are dumb people everywhere, the proportion of which to their respective populations being a question only God can answer.

Now, aren't we all glad we got that off our chests? Now let's move on to something that matters.




Comments

Wait! You forgot something! Americans are being controlled by the media, which shapes their opinions for them. That is why they support the war...

On and on it goes, doesn't it? I've given up on arguing these issues.

Nowadays I'm focusing on the deeper, more fundamental conflict: American entrepreneurship vs. the European social welfare state. I think that is the root conflict that causes such a disparity of opinion between the US and Europe.

And, I think, Europeans feel threatened by the American model, especially as that model is the root cause for American wealth and power, and the European model has not been able to keep up.


I heard an anti-war protester on the Michael Medved talk radio show this afternoon. Michael was trying to get the protester to articulate just exactly what he wants to see happen. He said: "An immediate cease-fire and withdrawel. Send in humanitarian observers."

"Wait a minute, what if Saddam doesn't want humanitarian observors in his country?"

"Force him."

"What if he shoots them?"

"Threaten him with military retaliation."

(That's a paraphrase, but I swear that was his argument. It was a live Onion interview...unintentionally so, of course...)


Bjørn,

love that entry. It's expressing one of the fundamental truths people choose not to see. However, I think, you partly got your numbers wrong - so I would like to propose the following changes:

"1. There are *SOME* well-read, well-informed, intelligent people who support the war on Iraq, but there are *MORE* well-read, well-informed, intelligent people who oppose it while *MOST* well-read, well-informed, intelligent people don't know just what to think [and are just happy they were not in a position to have to choose]."

"3. There are many dumb Americans, and there are many dumb Europeans, in fact there are dumb people everywhere, the proportion of which to their respective populations being a question we should investigate a lot further - waiting for divine inspiration will not suffice, in my opinion. Different journalistic cultures and media ownership structures in different parts of the world should be the centre of that investigation."

>Now, aren't we all glad we got that off our >chests?

Oh yes, we are.


Something possibly quite interesting regarding my earlier comment -

Who Owns the Media?, by Simeon Djankov, Caralee McLiesh, Tatiana Nenova, and Andrei Shleifer, June, 2001

http://www.worldbank.org/wdr/2001/bkgroundpapers/djankov.pdf

"... there is precious little evidence on the organization of the media industries in different countries and its consequences. Our paper aims to fill this gap. We collect data on ownership patterns of media firms – newspapers, television, and radio – in 97 countries. Our paper
provides a first systematic look at the extent of state and private ownership of media firms around the world, of the different kinds of private ownership, and of the prevalence of monopoly across countries and segments of the media industry. Our basic finding is that the two dominant forms of ownership of media firms around the world is that by the state and by concentrated private owners, i.e., controlling families."


In all fairness...

Everybody has them and they all stink


Tobias: but the crux of the matter is what philosophical outlook controls the state and the controlling families?

It's a waste of time to point out that media is controlled by somebody (of course it is). What matters is what is their socio-political-economic orientation, - and, possibly even further, what is their philosophical outlook?

I contend that Europe, for all its notions of philosophical grandeur, has lost the momentum in defining what people really want. America, without really thinking too much about it, always knew.


Tobias: What, _more_ intelligent people who oppose war? No no no, you're ruining my attempt at being vague and diplomatic, (he said, ducking for cover as bullets began to fly past him.)


"1. There are *SOME* well-read, well-informed, intelligent people who support the war on Iraq, but there are *MORE* well-read, well-informed, intelligent people who oppose it while *MOST* well-read, well-informed, intelligent people don't know just what to think [and are just happy they were not in a position to have to choose]."


Why do I get the feeling you would define 'intelligent' as 'can name every title of every book Noam Chomsky has written, and can name them in the chronological order of their publication'...?


ct, if I'd define "intelligent" by being able "to name every book Noam Chomsky has written", I would clearly rank among the least intelligent people on this planet. Then, however, there would be no reason to take any of my comments seriously.

Bjørn, I'm sorry...

Markku, I do not think it is a waste of time to point out the problems that arise from increasingly hierarchical control of a lot of published opinion. The rising amount of media mega mergers in the name of economic efficiency has been paid for by reduced journalistic variety. That is a problem in itself, in my opinion, quite distinct from the philosophical orientation of those in control of the command line. And I am not only thinking about The Sun here.

>I contend that Europe, for all its notions of >philosophical grandeur, has lost the momentum in >defining what people really want. America, >without really thinking too much about it, >always knew.

I am not sure here - I am not sure that the real rift is between Europe and the US. If recent sociological research is proven correct, then Europe is indeed a community of consent while it would be difficult to regard the US as a single unit in sociological terms. Here's something I wrote in January -
http://tschwarz.blogspot.com/2003_01_05_tschwarz_archive.html#87067591 - about an Economist story -
http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=1511812 - concerning the research mentioned above.


Excellent and very well put!! Idiots are everywhere. Those on the 'other side' from you aren't all stupid. Those on the 'same side' as you aren't all brilliant and clever. If you think you have all the answers, you've got a big ego problem.

I've come to the conclusion that people who strongly identify with *one* ideology or *one* party tend to get into arguments (not discussions)
and end up resorting to mere slogans. For some people, their political ideology becomes their religion and how they define themselves and their world.

Discussing an issue with such people can be perceived, by them, as akin to a personal attack.
You've challenged their world view. You've challenged their god. Makes some feel very uncomfortable so they hurl insults. Some people haven't yet progressed enough to accept the fact that very reasonable people can look at the same set of facts and come to different conclusions.

I'm a mixture of various ideologies and love/loathe conservatives and liberals equally. I've no party affiliation. I've been attacked by all sides of the political spectrum because I don't fit into one, neat, ideological box.

I may understand another's point of view and not agree with it. Some things I can compromise on, others I can't. I don't expect everyone to agree with me nor do I expect them to compromise on issues they can't.

I did not like Bush. I didn't vote for him. I was angry he won. However, I've come to trust him and I never thought I would. I guess it's because I saw him grow dealing with the events here of Sept. 11th. Still dislike many of his positions on things, but I've come to believe he is a man of his word and can be trusted to lead my country through this new danger we face.

I was able to change my opinion of him because I have no allegiance to one party or one ideology.
I have no need to tear him down. He doesn't threaten me or my world view. Had I clung to one party or ideology, he could walk on water and I may still hate him. I also accept that he is not, nor will ever be, perfect.

I avoid gettting discussions with anyone who I perceive has a closed mind about any issue. Hate the liberal bashers, hate the conservative bashers. These are the people who will not discuss things. They have no need. They know it all already.

I get insulted by both liberals and conservatives. I don't fit neatly into their world view. I find people who are open minded and don't worship at the altar of their ideology are the people who are willing to discuss, calmly, and not resort to childish antics.

It's very good to be open to change. It's also good to realize you may never agree with another rational person on some issue, and that doesn't make the other person any less intelligent than you.

Regards,
Chris J.
Boston, MA.
USA


Fascinating program on the Think Tank talk show on the PBS Channel here in New York this Saturday morning (http://www.pbs.org/thinktank/):

A group of scholars debated the US-Euro confrontation as an extension of the Cold War, which began from two different historical roots: French enlightenment and revolutionary politics, and Scottish free-market liberalism. They traced the influence of Scottish thinkers, such as Hobbes and Adam Smith, on the American Founding Fathers. These Scots developed their thinking as a reaction to the British crown's attempts at domination. After the British dissolved the Scottish parliament in 1707, there was an exodus of Scots to the New World, who brought their values and concepts with them, especially those dealing with mercantilism and property law. The French Enlightenment, in contrast, was seen as a reaction from Louis XIV's (ol' l'etat, c'est moi) statism, to notions of the state as being responsive to social change, to revolutionary politics, which in turn inspired Karl Marx, Lenin, Mao, and social democracy.

It was pretty indicative of how American intellectuals see the French today to characterize the Cold War as being inspired by a contest between Scottish liberalism, and French statism! One of them said it quite bluntly: French thinking inspired the Cold War.

Two other comments were interesting: globalization is an extension of Scottish liberalism, and that "the genie is out of the bottle" - meaning that as soon as people in the developing world have tasted the fruits of that liberalism, there's no going back.


Markku Nordstrom:

> And, I think, Europeans feel threatened by the
> American model, especially as that model is the
> root cause for American wealth and power, and
> the European model has not been able to keep
> up.

The "European model," to the extent that there is such a thing, has created higher rates of economic growth over the past 50 years or so than the American one.


Don P:

If that is true, then to what do you assert is the reason for the economic predominance of the United States? The growth of jobs in the private sector, and the existence of creative, powerful corporations that didn't exist just a short time ago speaks to a more dynamic economic model than one where the bulk of job growth is in governmental beaurocracies.


Don P: Where are you beginning your 50-year measurement? From the end of World War 2? If so, then of course, European economic growth on an annual average basis was greater, but only because at the end of the War their economy was devastated...

And it was the Marshall Plan, after all, that pumped life into the European economy, and put them on their way to recovery.

As to the past decades, Europeans have enjoyed a healthy trade surplus, vis-a-vis the US, for years, thanks to the appetite of the American worker-consumer for European product. So, essentially, the American worker-consumer has been subsidizing European economic growth, - and European welfare states - for years...


R. Hough:

"If that is true, then to what do you assert is the reason for the economic predominance of the United States?"

I'm not sure what you mean by "economic predominance." The U.S. is the world's largest national economy, but that is in large part because it is one of the biggest and most populous nations. Its share of world GDP has been declining for decades. Growth in GDP per capita has been greater in Western Europe over the past few decades than in the U.S. By some measures of wealth, Europe may already be richer than the U.S.

"The growth of jobs in the private sector,"

What about them? "Growth of jobs in the private sector" is not a meaningful measure of wealth or economic success. For example, a country with high population growth (such as the U.S.) may well have greater "growth of jobs in the private sector" than a country will low population growth, but that obviously doesn't mean that the first country is richer or more economically successful than the second one.

"and the existence of creative, powerful corporations that didn't exist just a short time ago speaks to a more dynamic economic model than one where the bulk of job growth is in governmental beaurocracies."

It may be more "dynamic." That doesn't mean it's more successful. In which European countries is "the bulk of job growth" occurring in "governmental bureaucracies."



Markku Nordstrom:

"Don P: Where are you beginning your 50-year measurement? From the end of World War 2? If so, then of course, European economic growth on an annual average basis was greater, but only because at the end of the War their economy was devastated... "

Huh? Why do you say "of course?" Russia was also devastated by WWII, but its economic growth hasn't exceeded that of the U.S. So there's no "of course" about it.

"And it was the Marshall Plan, after all, that pumped life into the European economy, and put them on their way to recovery."

Yes, the Marshall Plan jump-started parts of Western Europe after the war, but on the timescale of 50 years, its effect is relatively small. And Britain, which did not receive any Marshall Plan funds, has grown faster than the U.S. just like other European nations have.

"As to the past decades, Europeans have enjoyed a healthy trade surplus, vis-a-vis the US, for years, thanks to the appetite of the American worker-consumer for European product."

Again, so what? That doesn't tell us anything about GDP or productivity. If Americans are buying more from Europe than Europeans are buying from the U.S., it is because Europeans are better at creating products and services that people want to buy than Americans are.


Don:
You are the first person I have ever heard making these claims about European economic superiority. What are you basing these claims on? Do you have references? The burden of proof is on you.


Don,
Your figures are wrong. The recently released economic report from the EU shows that they had an economic growth of 0.02% last year, and do not believe that this year will be any better. It appears that your figures jibe fairly well with the afterglow of the Marshall Plan, and don't reflect at all the economic realities of the post-Cold War Europe.

Try Again.


Don and all,
The EU shows a decline, and forecasts further declines at this URL:

http://europa.eu.int/comm/economy_finance/index_en.htm


Don P: You are making some errors in judgement of economic data. I'm guessing that you admire the European system for what it HAS accomplished: cradle to grave social security, lack of (visible) poverty - there are no slums in Europe, or at least in the most social democratic parts of Europe, up toward the north. And you admire the free education, the social consciousness, and the care for the individual that the state - seemingly - purports as its mission.

Please believe me - as someone who's lived on both sides of the Atlantic - that it is all an illusion. There are people dying while waiting to receive critical surgery in their much-vaunted national health care systems - because those systems are not working... In America, the people responsible would be slapped with a punishing lawsuit faster than you can cry "litigate!". Unemployment is growing in Europe because there is no domestic demand - due to the fact that their consumer-workers are taxed so much more than Americans that they have nothing to spend on the hi-tech products they themselves produce, thus leaving them dependent on the less-taxed American consumer to keep their economies going. And their free education systems are failing to give everyone a chance to earn a degree: the decision whether a student is "fit" for higher education is made at an early age (certain students are forced into curriculums designed to make them fit for trades, instead of higher learning) so that the hopes of an average student with ambition are beated down - just because a bureaucrat in some Ministry of Education has calculated that the law of averages doesn't justify spending societal effort on a student with average scores.

Of course, you might just enjoy the beautiful cities they have built, with wonderful public transportation, and socially-conscious public services. And I agree, Americans could learn a lot from Europeans on all of that. Too bad that these wonderful cities are heavily dependent on the foreign tourist to enable their keep. Just don't ask to live there: as every illegal immigrant in Europe knows, social democratic societies like it when you come and visit and spend money, but an open door for the foreigner does not exist, legal or illegal, in the same way it did in pre-9/11 American society.

In America, the average consumer-worker-voter has more power than the worker-voter in Europe, because the American can vote with his dollars, which the American has more of to spend since he gets taxed a whole lot less. And, in America, if you want it badly enough, you can buy it. That translates into enormous political and economic power for the American worker-consumer, whose tastes have come to dominate the world.

Now, in regards to comparing the GDP of the US with that of the Europeans, R. Hough makes the right point in his comment above: you are comparing apples and oranges. The GDP in European countries could at times be greater, but only because the economic activity is generated by governmental spending on societal programs and institutions. How do governments get the money to spend on such programs? Why, taxing the people, of course. Growth is thus generated by the state at the cost of lessening the purchasing power of the people. Contrast that to the American system, where comparable growth is achieved WITHOUT lessening the purchasing power of the people, to the point that growth winds up INCREASING that power, thus generating EVEN MORE growth, - not just in the US, but all over the world....

No wonder Europeans are so worried that the American consumer is set on condoning military expenditures: that means less money will be spent on European exports. See, they do think like this - or at least the economists in European governments. So an argument could be made that the Europeans actually have a selfish, ulterior motive for encouraging an anti-war slant in their state-supported media: the American consumer has to be kept consuming European product, like a tethered cow, in order to sustain the European social democratic states...

Europeans could easily enjoy such economic power, also. But that would mean a revolutionary change, as they would need to give up on some comfy conceptions on how to organize their societies. Given the blinders Europeans have put on themselves, that revolution won't be coming any time soon...


Markku Nordstrom that was a brillant discourse on economics. I used to date a bi-sexual woman who would have her socialist friends over. Talk about some interesting discussions.

They college educated, born and bred with parents who were well off against me, born with little money in our family, who joined the military to afford college(best decision of my life). And after I tried to explain how big business is not in the business to hold people down, it is in business to make money. The more money little people have to spend, the more they can make. And how in America, if you want to start a small business, you can with little government intervention. Heck in fact, the government encourages it.

And explaining the things you would say, they would always fire back, I will bring this guy I know who is getting his doctorate to argue you. Which I always found hilarious. For all they spouted they had no real basis for their arguement.


Rick H:

I didn't provide any "figures," so I don't know how you can claim that my "figures are wrong."

As for the figure you cite, it is meaningless as a measure of the relative performance of the U.S. and EU economic models. Single-year comparisons are not meaningful for a variety of reasons, most importantly because they do not allow for the effects of the economic cycle. A recessionary period in one national or regional economy may coincide with a boom period in another. Meaningful comparisons must span periods of time that cover at least one full economic cycle, which generally means a decade or more. As I said, over the past few decades, Europe has experienced higher economic growth than the U.S. Yes, this is partly attributable to the economic devastation of WWII (economies usually grow fastest when coming out of a depression or recession). But it is also the result of Western European economic policies. In fact, the weakest major Western European economy of the post-war period has been the one based on policies most closely resembling those of the U.S.--Britain. The strongest economies have included those based on social democratic or social market policies--Germany, France, and the Scandinavian countries. And yes, some of those countries are currently in recession. The German economy is particularly weak at the moment. But that does not invalidate the overall performance of these economies during the last 50 years.


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