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catallaxy in technical exile

The eyes have it?

with 362 comments

Paul Krugman is touting social democracy.

The real lesson from Europe is actually the opposite of what conservatives claim: Europe is an economic success, and that success shows that social democracy works.

Actually, Europe’s economic success should be obvious even without statistics. For those Americans who have visited Paris: did it look poor and backward? What about Frankfurt or London? You should always bear in mind that when the question is which to believe — official economic statistics or your own lying eyes — the eyes have it.

In any case, the statistics confirm what the eyes see.

Okay. That is fair enough – the Europeans (those ones anyway) are not living in abject poverty, but nobody intelligent has ever suggested that they do. So Krugman puts up a bit of a strawman; although he does slip up a bit.

Sacramento is now the Athens of America — in a bad way.

His bottom line is this.

After all, while reports of Europe’s economic demise are greatly exaggerated, reports of its high taxes and generous benefits aren’t. Taxes in major European nations range from 36 to 44 percent of G.D.P., compared with 28 in the United States. Universal health care is, well, universal. Social expenditure is vastly higher than it is here.

So if there were anything to the economic assumptions that dominate U.S. public discussion — above all, the belief that even modestly higher taxes on the rich and benefits for the less well off would drastically undermine incentives to work, invest and innovate — Europe would be the stagnant, decaying economy of legend. But it isn’t.

Europe is often held up as a cautionary tale, a demonstration that if you try to make the economy less brutal, to take better care of your fellow citizens when they’re down on their luck, you end up killing economic progress. But what European experience actually demonstrates is the opposite: social justice and progress can go hand in hand.

He is trying to pull the ‘there is no difference between 28 and 36 to 44 percent’ stunt on taxes. Krugman is very good at math, so make of that what you will.

Tylet Cowen has a whole long story about what the look for and think about. Greg Mankiw just cuts to the chase.

Here is GDP per capita, adjusted for differences in price levels (PPP), from the IMF, for the United States and the five most populous countries in Western Europe:

United States 47,440
United Kingdom 36,358
Germany 35,539
France 34,205
Italy 30,631
Spain 30,589

Readers of today’s column by Paul Krugman might find these figures useful to keep in mind.

Mankiw 1, Krugman 0.

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Written by Sinclair Davidson

January 12, 2010 at 8:23 am

Posted in Uncategorized

362 Responses

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  1. But money isn’t everything Sinclair, think how much happier those Euros are. Just look at this street party.

    pedro

    January 12, 2010 at 9:05 am

  2. I take your point, but the visual test is interesting: if you travel to the US and Europe without knowing the statistics, you would never guess the that US is richer. Its general infrastructure is the worst I have seen in the dozen or so Western countries I have visited (or lived in, for Australia). The people are less stylishly dressed. The food is terrible. Only the universities are clearly much better (visuals and dollars align on this one).

    Andrew Norton

    January 12, 2010 at 9:30 am

  3. if you travel to the US and Europe without knowing the statistics, you would never guess the that US is richer.
    .
    Have you visited many US homes? I suspect not, because if you do that, you’ll “guess” that the US is richer.
    .
    Its general infrastructure is the worst I have seen in the dozen or so Western countries I have visited (or lived in, for Australia).
    .
    That’s utter nonsense.
    Unless you’re talking about public transport; even then it’s arguable.
    .
    The people are less stylishly dressed.
    .
    FFS. Is this a satire, a send-up of a slobbering, reflexive anti-American?
    Hmmm… something’s fishy. I sense I’m falling for the bait of some shameless trolling. Dammit! You got me Andrew.

    daddy dave

    January 12, 2010 at 9:57 am

  4. DD

    The post is about visual cues. Andrew was making a point about visual and sociological cues which he tends to blog about at times. I don’t notice such things but he obviously does. Andrew has never said anything vaguelt anti-American, visit his blog.

    Really do you have to get so defensive and politically correct all the time? It’s this irritating habit you have of immediately sorting people into camps (just as you did to me) simply because they disagree with or even make caveats to right wing orthodoxy.

    jtfsoon

    January 12, 2010 at 10:03 am

  5. Okay. That is fair enough – the Europeans (those ones anyway) are not living in abject poverty, but nobody intelligent has ever suggested that they do.
    .
    No, but there is a case that they are considerably poorer. This controversial report came out last year.
    .

    If the European Union were a state in the USA it would belong to the poorest group of states. France, Italy, Great Britain and Germany have lower GDP per capita than all but four of the states in the United States. In fact, GDP per capita is lower in the vast majority of the EU-countries (EU 15) than in most of the individual American states. This puts Europeans at a level of prosperity on par with states such as Arkansas, Mississippi and West Virginia. Only the miniscule country of Luxembourg has higher per capita GDP than the average state in the USA.

    daddy dave

    January 12, 2010 at 10:12 am

  6. BTW haven’t been to the US, have been to Europe and loved it. it does have excellent and reliable public transport and a great clean vibe, far from the images of doom and gloom you hear sometimes.

    From what i know of the US at least I think if given a choice I’d rather live in Europe than most of the US except New York and Boston if only because I would never want to live anywhere where I’d be reliant on cars.

    jtfsoon

    January 12, 2010 at 10:16 am

  7. As you say it’s a controversial report. France and Germany on a par with Arkansas? It seems highly doubtful to me.

    jtfsoon

    January 12, 2010 at 10:17 am

  8. It is a pity about Krugman.
    He is turning into a fairly careless and superficial journalist.
    I doubt that this is what The Times hired him for.
    He does have a very good brain – or did once – and some serious economic discussions would be much better.

    His latest piece is really just saying that, by his values, Europe is a better place to live than the US. Looking at migrant flows, many disagree.

    Ken Nielsen

    January 12, 2010 at 10:19 am

  9. Jason,
    Point taken.
    However I’m particularly sensitive about Australians trashing america as it happens all the time… and I am married to one. it gets very tiresome. Therefore, responding that way was a kneejerk thing I admit.
    .
    Plus, I meant the thing about visiting homes. Not some tiny apartment in New York but ordinary suburban homes in most of the other states.
    A lot of Australians, and Europeans, don’t realise the discrepancy in standard of living. This simple eyeball test would be surprising to many.

    daddy dave

    January 12, 2010 at 10:20 am

  10. “That’s utter nonsense.
    Unless you’re talking about public transport; even then it’s arguable.”
    .
    Have you ever been to places like France? There’s no comparison to the US. Even Spain is better for PT, and they’re much poorer.
    .
    Pedro: “But money isn’t everything Sinclair, think how much happier those Euros are. Just look at this street party.”
    .
    Pedro, you can point to the riots in France, which are transient, but the amount of homeless people in the US is appalling. Why not try being poor in France or the US and see how hard getting a doctor is. In addition, here’s a party in the US from the 90s. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bEG2AMaM7w .
    I believe New Orleans had a really good one a while back too.

    conrad

    January 12, 2010 at 10:24 am

  11. Have you ever been to places like France?
    .
    France isn’t europe. But sure, France has got awesome public transport, although there are pockets of very good public transport in the US. But the original point was about general infrastructure. On that score, it’s not even a contest.

    daddy dave

    January 12, 2010 at 10:28 am

  12. Andrew – are we comparing like with like? The top end freeways, for example, in the US aren’t as good as say the UK IMHO, but the basic off-highway road in the US is better than those lanes the British call roads.

    The eyeball test works depending on what you’re looking at. I saw a mon and pop store in a Stillwater Oklamhoma right over the road from a Walmart and the store was thriving, while a similar store in most other parts of the world would shut down.

    Anyway, for those interested let me recommend The Future of Europe: Reform or Decline.

    Sinclair Davidson

    January 12, 2010 at 10:38 am

  13. The real lesson from Europe is actually the opposite of what conservatives claim: Europe is an economic success, and that success shows that social democracy works.

    I always thought Paul was a big time coke head,

    And as I watched the deniers make their arguments, I couldn’t help thinking that I was watching a form of treason — treason against the planet.

    but has he graduated to crystal meth as he’s more delusional than ever?

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 10:49 am

  14. Sinclair – from that book link, if Americans work much harder to achieve the growth they have then logically you’d have to at least discount the GDP accordingly by days worked to have an appropriate comparison.

    I’m certainly not defending social democracy and high taxes because I think Europe is some sort of paradise but I think the case for the policies we like based on how bad Europe is supposed to be are exaggerated. Also, Europe includes the serious economies like Germany, the UK and the Scandinavian countries, corrupt countries like Italy and virtual third world countries like Greece.

    jtfsoon

    January 12, 2010 at 10:49 am

  15. How serious is Norway though? They’ve mortgaged their oil for the welfare state. Demographics and a fall in reserves would make their welfare state unfeasible.

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 12, 2010 at 10:52 am

  16. Jason, the point of that chapter isn’t that American work harder to get the growth; the Europeans work less because of the tax. A slightly different and more technical version of that chapter is here.

    Sinclair Davidson

    January 12, 2010 at 10:57 am

  17. Also should say that when people make US v Europe comparisons they usually mean western Europe.

    Sinclair Davidson

    January 12, 2010 at 10:58 am

  18. I think Tyler Cowan falls for the same fallacious argument that most of us do when comparing the US to Europe. European countries are small, compact and Europe has lots of regional differences. The US also has lots of states and regional differences, so why compare say France to the US?

    Why not compare say Connecticut to Sweden, NY State to the UK.

    Why not compare say the top to the bottom?

    How does say Connecticut compare to Sweden in per cap GDP?

    Sweden’s per cap GDP is estimated at US$38,200 for 2008. Connecticut’s $56,000

    Or how about NY State to the UK?

    NY state? $48,000 while the UK’s is $36,000.

    How about comparing the poorest regions of the US to the poorest region of the EU.

    Greece per cap is $32,000 while a poor region like Louisiana is at $36,000

    One last thing…Germany is expected to have one retiree to one worker by 2030. Can anyone explain how Germany is expected to remain afloat with that sort of demographic future? And Germany isn’t the worst example, Italy and France are.

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 11:12 am

  19. Germany is expected to have one retiree to one worker by 2030. Can anyone explain how Germany is expected to remain afloat with that sort of demographic future? And Germany isn’t the worst example, Italy and France are.
    .
    That’s the big debate.
    Euroboosters say there’s nothing to worry about, it will all work out in the end.
    Euroskeptics say that Europe is a time bomb; there’s a massive structural inertia that won’t be able to adapt in time.

    daddy dave

    January 12, 2010 at 11:18 am

  20. And we should also note that for the second-half of the 20th C the US was more or less the DoD of Western Europe; from about 1945-60 its DoI(nfrastructure); and from about 1950-1970 its DoI(mmigration).

    dover_beach

    January 12, 2010 at 11:20 am

  21. One reason why many European cities may look better than similar cities in the US is they often still have historic city centres. Visit European cities that were gutted in WWII and the picture is often different. The US is in some respects paying for being a younger country with a greater abundance of ugly architecture.

    Demographically, France is doing pretty well — IIRC France has higher birthrates than the US (or at least very similar). Italy and Germany are both in real trouble, however, the former in part because it has historically dealt with social problems by exporting its population.

    skepticlawyer

    January 12, 2010 at 11:26 am

  22. That’s right Dover, EURO trash didn’t exactly excel themselves at defending the place against the Ruskie hordes flooding over the German plain which cost a pretty penny. Lazy doofuses.

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 11:28 am

  23. The US is in some respects paying for being a younger country with a greater abundance of ugly architecture.

    I dunno about that, Sl. NYC is pretty good compared to say London and Paris. To be honest the ugliest modern architecture I’ve seen is 50’s and 60’s Europe which is positively Soviet. The US tried their best to do a worse job but they couldn’t match the Europeans for modern ugliness.

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 11:37 am

  24. And Germany isn’t the worst example, Italy and France are.

    Yeah this is just wrong. France is about the same as Australia. – Both slightly less than the US.

    Italy and germany though are very low as is Japan.

    Steve Edney

    January 12, 2010 at 11:40 am

  25. …and Spain. Birth rate is around 1.2 or thereabouts.

    daddy dave

    January 12, 2010 at 11:42 am

  26. Thank God unstylishly dressed and hamburger-eating Americans rescued Europe from its storied sophistication in 1945 and 1989.

    C.L.

    January 12, 2010 at 11:46 am

  27. Anecdotally I hear only good things from US expats living in the EU – they love the history, cultural variety and choices available. The US and to a lesser extent Oz get the thumbs down for their bland uniformity.

    rog

    January 12, 2010 at 11:56 am

  28. The US is in some respects paying for being a younger country with a greater abundance of ugly architecture

    I don’t think this is true. St Petersburg, for instance, is both a ‘modern’ city, ans was devastated in WWII, yet it isn’t too harsh on the eye.

    In addition to infrastructure, the US is well behind most of Europe on a range of other measures, despite being vastly richer than any European country:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Poverty_Index

    THR

    January 12, 2010 at 11:57 am

  29. All the good parts of Europe were achieved long before social democracy was a twinkle in some academic’s eye. European cities are facades, held together to take in tourist dollars. Visit the suburbs (banlieues) on the outskirts of Naples, Rome, Florence, Paris, Lyon, Marseilles, Berlin etc that have been built since the welfare state took over and then get back to me.

    Infidel Tiger

    January 12, 2010 at 12:01 pm

  30. Anecdotally I hear only good things from US expats living in the EU

    Well you would Rog, you unworldly Eastwooder. Expat life is pretty damn good. You get the big house in a great burb or area of the city, the free cars, the kids sent to a private school gratis, a decent adjustment to one’s salary for the “hardship” of living overseas and lots of plane travel back and forth in business class for the entire brood.

    So you wouldn’t hear many American expats whining about life in Eurotrasville in the same way I never heard expat frogs whine about living in upper Eastside NYC or the NY burbs with all those benefits they get when they live local.

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 12:03 pm

  31. THR:

    Not for nothing but the human poverty index is a ruse created by social democrats to try and boost up their next of the woods through fiction and smoke and mirrors.

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 12:06 pm

  32. oops neck.

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 12:07 pm

  33. “The US and to a lesser extent Oz get the thumbs down for their bland uniformity.”

    Only someone who has never stepped foot in the United States would say something so foolish. Crossing county lines can be like changing countries.

    Infidel Tiger

    January 12, 2010 at 12:08 pm

  34. In addition to infrastructure
    .
    still on infrastructure. Just to take one example, consider the US interstate system. The thing is collossal, and really should be considered to be an engineering Wonder of the World. But it’s barely noticeable because it’s highly distributed and quite boring. But it’s the equivalent of having the entire Australian continent, including the remotest places, criss-crossed with unbroken double-lane freeways.
    .
    Now, certainly Europe has wonderful train systems and maybe they’re comparable but I honestly don’t think so. For one thing, mile of freeway is a bigger investment than a mile of rail line. It’s also more useful as it can carry a larger variety of vehicles (such as trucks, cars, buses), and they can travel at times of their own choosing.
    .
    Besides, the US has a vast amount of freight rail. it’s only lacking in passenger rail.
    .
    What else? Well, there’s airports. Memphis International, home of FedEx, carries more freight than any other airport in the world. Now there’s infrastructure for you.
    .
    In IT, you have cities like Minneapolis, which is basically one huge hotspot. Is there a European equivalent for that?
    .
    So please, no more “in addition to infrastructure,” as if the US is somehow falling behind in that department.

    daddy dave

    January 12, 2010 at 12:13 pm

  35. Only someone who has never stepped foot in the United States would say something so foolish.

    Exactly. Can I suggest something tho anyone attempting to go on a fact finding mission to prove how poor the US is? They wouldn’t go wrong by extensively visiting New Jorsey which is a microcosm of middle to working class America. Get a map and drive around the burbs in that state. NJ is a perfect illustration of how middle America lives.

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 12:14 pm

  36. Visit the suburbs (banlieues) on the outskirts of Naples, Rome, Florence, Paris, Lyon, Marseilles, Berlin etc that have been built since the welfare state took over and then get back to me

    Paris and Napoli have some serious slums, but the suburbs in some of those other cities, like Rome and Florence, are fine.

    Not for nothing but the human poverty index is a ruse created by social democrats to try and boost up their next of the woods through fiction and smoke and mirrors.

    There are many relative measures of poverty on which the US does poorly, though these measures are unlikely to be well-received on the present site. The above measure at least attempts to look at absolutes. Also, it excludes some other measures where the US does poorly, like infant mortality, or life expectancy. Finally, just as the US has massive variations within it, so does Europe – Soviet-style dictatorship Belarus, or the backblocks of Romania, are hardly going to perform as well as France, Germany, etc.

    THR

    January 12, 2010 at 12:17 pm

  37. Infrastructure to social democrats means passenger trains, Dad. A recent phenomena that i have noticed with them is whenever they discuss infrastructure (it has to be the ugliest word in the English language) and how bad it is in the US, it always gets down to train services for public transport. They freaking love trains for some reason that I still haven’t been able to fathom.

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 12:19 pm

  38. Get a map and drive around the burbs in that state. NJ is a perfect illustration of how middle America lives.

    I’d have thought the vast landmass between the coasts is perhaps a better illustration.

    THR

    January 12, 2010 at 12:22 pm

  39. THR:

    To be fair I don’t think anyone here when discussing Europe was bringing up the former failed satellites of the soviet union. I think we’ve all focused on the core EU, however now that you mention it, it’s probably about time we also included places like Slovenia, Hungary, Slovakia as they’re on their way to becoming part of Eurotrashland (which is a huge mistake).

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 12:23 pm

  40. A friend of mine weighed up the odds and moved back to Greece. For him the winning argument was the social life of a village.

    rog

    January 12, 2010 at 12:24 pm

  41. A lot more than just social democrats love trains, JC. I’d hate to love in suburbia precisely because I’d hate to have to be reliant on a car. As for ‘travelling on time of their own choosing’ dd, you can pretty much do that on trains as long as they are running and running frequently. Getting on one that comes at regular intervals is not any less efficient than getting stuck in traffic, etc.

    The British Met syatem is brilliant and one of the few things I liked about the UK which was otherwise my least favourite place in Europe.

    jtfsoon

    January 12, 2010 at 12:25 pm

  42. “Expat life is pretty damn good. You get the big house in a great burb or area of the city…”

    You have no idea what or who you are talking about JC, as per usual. Just a constant stream of drivel

    rog

    January 12, 2010 at 12:26 pm

  43. Public transport is for pensioners, the mentally unstable and school kids and that’s the way it should be. Cars = freedom.

    Infidel Tiger

    January 12, 2010 at 12:27 pm

  44. I’ve lived for several years in both the EU (Scandanavia and Germany) and in the US.

    The US is definitely richer, however from the feel of things the PPP still overstates things. Health care costs more in the US, is worse but adds to GDP.

    But look at having a reasonable paying job in a reasonable major US city and look at the cost of housing and you see that Americans are often much better off. If you make 50K in Austin, Louisville, Denver, Houston, Norfolk and many other places you can comfortably buy a nice house, drive a new car and have a fine life.

    Andrew’s idea that the US looks worse is not what I’ve seen. US infrastructure varies a lot.

    Peter Baldwin’s new book “The Narcissism of Minor Differences” points out that the differences are exaggerated by people wanting to make political points. This appears to be the case here.

    Pedro X

    January 12, 2010 at 12:27 pm

  45. China is witching over to trains – the big plus is they take you right into a city whreas a plane goes to an airport.

    When you factor in connection times etc very fast trains in China are faster than planes.

    rog

    January 12, 2010 at 12:28 pm

  46. A friend of mine weighed up the odds and moved back to Greece. For him the winning argument was the social life of a village.

    Yea, i’m sure. Selling up his Sydney home and other savings along with potential social security the village life for some would look pretty enticing. You can do that here too with people moving to Tasmania for their retirement which to me would be as close to deciding suicide would be a better option than anything else.

    But what’s your point, Rog?

    We’re not talking about where people are going to die, we’re talking about the future, primarily for young people and Greece offers as much promise for a young kid with a degree as any other failed state. Zilch.

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 12:30 pm

  47. We usually get strong opinions around here and we sometimes get good debates over facts.
    This thread is notable because, it seems to me, that most commenters are writing about things they really don’t know much about.

    Ken Nielsen

    January 12, 2010 at 12:32 pm

  48. You have no idea what or who you are talking about JC, as per usual. Just a constant stream of drivel

    No rog, I do. It’s you that doesn’t understand even the most basic things. Expat life is a pampered life for the most part so suggesting that those expat Americans have nice things to say about living in Europe compared to the US is pretty dumb as they’re a pretty well looked after demographic. So STFU when you know little and offer even less.

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 12:33 pm

  49. I’d have thought the vast landmass between the coasts is perhaps a better illustration.
    .
    It is, but New Jersey would suffice. I guess you think they’re all grass-chewin’, moonshine-drinkin’, pickup-drivin’ yokels out there in the vast landmass?
    .
    Cars = freedom
    .
    That is a true statement on several levels, personal preferences aside.

    daddy dave

    January 12, 2010 at 12:34 pm

  50. In a quality of life argument, there are no facts, only opinions. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

    Infidel Tiger

    January 12, 2010 at 12:35 pm

  51. I think we’ve all focused on the core EU, however now that you mention it, it’s probably about time we also included places like Slovenia, Hungary, Slovakia as they’re on their way to becoming part of Eurotrashland (which is a huge mistake).

    Those countries aren’t doing so badly. I think you’d be surprised at what they’re like. They’re really not comparable to the former USSR.

    Cars = freedom.

    They’re not really indicators of freedom in the sprawling cities of Australia. You basically have no choice but to own two cars per household here, and to use planes for long haul trips. European cities are much more compact, and parking is tight, so there’s a lot less incentive for cars. You can even get a lot further on foot in a Euro city than you can in an Australian one.

    THR

    January 12, 2010 at 12:35 pm

  52. As Jason says, I am not remotely anti-American. My relevant bias here is probably that I am a city rather than a suburbs person.

    Andrew Norton

    January 12, 2010 at 12:40 pm

  53. Jase:

    I agree incidentally about some of your observations about trains. The London Met works great, NYC subway does too and so does the Tokyo’s train system.

    However these things work because there are masses of people that travel in straight lines. For instance it would be unthinkable to travel from Midtown to Downtown NYC without using the subway. Obviously some people do but for the most part the most efficient way to travel in that destination is the subway. I would imagine the same applies for London, Tokyo and HK as I hear they are successful public transport systems.

    However once you deviate from the sort of straight line travel trains start to become pretty useless.

    Alan Moran did a study on the transport system in Melbourne (which you probably know about)…. and I would guess it also applies to Sydney as well. Melbourne’s commuting to the CBD is about 15% of the total, meaning that it is very diffuse. So that’s where public transport breaks down these days as most people don’t work in the CBD any longer (white collar workers)

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 12:43 pm

  54. The “No Pants Subway Ride” a little bit OT
    http://improveverywhere.com/2009/01/14/no-pants-2k9/

    tal

    January 12, 2010 at 12:44 pm

  55. Every advantage Western Europe has, welfare-wise and infrastructurally, was of course bankrolled with the money they didn’t spend defending themselves. Badly dressed, hotdog-scoffing Americans were the ones who actually made it possible.

    C.L.

    January 12, 2010 at 12:48 pm

  56. It’s the perennial situation: rog likes the community of a village, jason likes the convenience trains offer, and JC thinks like in sprawling American suburbs is quite OK and I love my car and think this song sums up public transport.

    It would seem to be the best solution is to leave each other the hell alone, associate with only the people we like, pay our own way and pursue our own path to happiness. The problem is one side always thinks their convenience of public utilities should be subsidised while those that are happy to pay for their private options are also demanded to pay for everything else as well. Can you guess which side demands this. Why is this is?

    Michael Sutcliffe

    January 12, 2010 at 12:49 pm

  57. It is, but New Jersey would suffice. I guess you think they’re all grass-chewin’, moonshine-drinkin’, pickup-drivin’ yokels out there in the vast landmass?

    (Chortles). A bit of catty straw-manning thrown in for good measure, I see.

    Seriously, for longstanding historical reasons, the mid-west and south have found themselves in very different economic and industrial circumstances to the wealthy NE. There’s no equivalent in Australia, since here, most people live in the burbs, which are themselves situated on the coastline. Imagine if most of Australia’s population lived in places like the Latrobe Valley, or Newcastle, and we might have a similar scenario to the US, in which it’d make no sense to take the suburbs of Sydney as a microcosm of the whole.

    However once you deviate from the sort of straight line travel trains start to become pretty useless.

    The best I’ve ever seen was that in Moscow, the second-best, Paris. Moscow’s system is mostly straight lines, but Paris’ isn’t.

    The long-distance rail network in Australia is pretty sucky. It’s relatively highly developed in Europe, which in turn creates some genuine competition for the planes, and leads to loads of cheap flights around Europe.

    THR

    January 12, 2010 at 12:50 pm

  58. Not so Ken, the expats I was referring to married and live in the EU and not as JC was confabulating.

    rog

    January 12, 2010 at 12:51 pm

  59. Rog:

    Do you even know what the term expat means? If you’re going to use terms apply them properly or don’t use them at all. The term “expat” has a pretty specific meaning.

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 12:53 pm

  60. “The long-distance rail network in Australia is pretty sucky.”

    Quite rightly we use trains for freight and cars and planes for long distance travelling. In a country our size and as sparsely populated, there would be no point doing otherwise.

    Infidel Tiger

    January 12, 2010 at 12:54 pm

  61. “An expatriate (in abbreviated form, expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country and culture other than that of the person’s upbringing or legal residence.”

    rog

    January 12, 2010 at 12:54 pm

  62. Every advantage Western Europe has, welfare-wise and infrastructurally, was of course bankrolled with the money they didn’t spend defending themselves.

    And in many ways still is. I’m sure the European countries would all agree that the US should leave them alone (well, the general public would at least) because of all the extra security issues Americans create. I think America should do exactly this. If any of the other western nations want protection from the US they should come begging cap-in-hand, and also offer up some contribution themselves. France should be warned that a ‘three strikes and your out’ policy applies, so they’ve got one more chance to grow a set.

    Michael Sutcliffe

    January 12, 2010 at 12:55 pm

  63. What did you think it meant?

    rog

    January 12, 2010 at 12:56 pm

  64. Michael

    Governments or at least the NSW govt is doing a terrible job running the trains. I’m perfectly happy to dispense with any hidden subsidies for both road and rail.

    jtfsoon

    January 12, 2010 at 12:58 pm

  65. Michael:

    and JC thinks like in sprawling American suburbs is quite OK and I love my car and think this song sums up public transport.

    Actually I don’t Michael. I couldn’t think of anything worse than living miles out of the CBD. Fresher air gives me migraines.

    I was just proposing that if you want to see middle America NJ is a pretty decent example, that’s all.

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 12:59 pm

  66. In a country our size and as sparsely populated, there would be no point doing otherwise.

    The trip from Melbourne to Sydney could possibly be served by the sort of high-speed rail that exists between
    Madrid and Barcelona, Paris and Bordeaux, or Beijing and Shanghai. Planes are basically an inconvenience compared to high-speed rail, since you have to get to the outer suburbs, wait around to board, wait for baggage collection, etc. Plus, the best trains have a bar and dining car, which is a bit more civilised than the service you get on planes.

    THR

    January 12, 2010 at 12:59 pm

  67. Sorry JC, life in the American burbs would suit me fine!

    Michael Sutcliffe

    January 12, 2010 at 1:02 pm

  68. THR

    Melbourne to Sydney is almost 1,000 K. It’s too far to travel to make that route time efficient with planes.

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 1:03 pm

  69. “The trip from Melbourne to Sydney could possibly be served by the sort of high-speed rail that exists between Madrid and Barcelona, Paris and Bordeaux, or Beijing and Shanghai.”

    Possibly. I heard (don’t know if it’s true) that Sydney/Melbourne is the third busiest air route in the world. They’ve been talking about a super fast train between those cities since the 70’s. Probably still aguing over which gauge rail to use.

    Infidel Tiger

    January 12, 2010 at 1:04 pm

  70. Flying is not exactly unpopular in Europe, either, despite high speed trains covering the same route.

    Michael Sutcliffe

    January 12, 2010 at 1:08 pm

  71. Rog,

    I’m with JC. If you pick a decent city to live in the US (e.g., NY, San Francisco), everything’s great, you can have pretty much anything you want, and for many people (especially those with PhDs or those into science and technology) you get a far better job and better pay also. This is why the big science labs in the US are often like mini versions of the Earth (i.e., about one-third of the lab is Chinese, there are a couple of Indians, a few Europeans, and a few people born in the US). That’s great as an expat, and no doubt a great loss for the countries that oppress their smart people enough that they all feel obliged to move. You just have to choose your city well.

    conrad

    January 12, 2010 at 1:16 pm

  72. Melbourne to Sydney is almost 1,000 K. It’s too far to travel to make that route time efficient with planes.

    Not at all. The high-speed trains can do over 300km an hour. When you factor in the hidden delays involved in flying (getting to the airport, waiting around for baggage) and the additional cost (a cab to Tullamarine from the other side of the river is not cheap) and high-speed trains can be competitive.

    THR

    January 12, 2010 at 1:28 pm

  73. There’s a great piece in the Xmas edition of the Economist about US living and as always pretty amusing.

    http://www.economist.com/world/unitedstates/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15108634

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 1:28 pm

  74. Read this and knew it would be funny;

    Scene Korean restaurant in Virginia

    A mother addresses her college-age daughter in Korean; the daughter replies in English. A muscular man with a buzz cut reads a Korean newspaper; his T-shirt proclaims, in English: “Support our Troops”.

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 1:30 pm

  75. From what I can see, the Western European countries are run for the benefit of middle-class, middle management public employees and media types.

    Thes are the types who usually would favour Europe over the US in such an argument. They earn somewhere around $100-150K a year and think they are cultured because they are fooled by modern art. They want lots of welfare, so as to keep the lower orders at bay and have a great aversion to ‘grubby commerce.’

    The US and the Anglospher ingeneral is run for the benefit of the upper classes and the lower middle class and this drives the foonctionnaires wild. The interesting thing is that the art and culture that makes Europe interesting all developed before 1939. Since then Europe, particulalrly France has been a cutural backwater.

    Rococo Liberal

    January 12, 2010 at 1:31 pm

  76. THR:

    They can do 300K per hour but you’re not going to get there in 3 and a bit hours.

    allowing for the chunnel it takes 4 hours to leave civilization- London- and get to Paris. allow an hour for the chunnel ride and it still means it take 3 hours to travel the land distance which is an average speed of a little over 100 k per hour. It doesn’t compete at 1000 k, but it would for shorter distances.

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 1:38 pm

  77. The interesting thing is that the art and culture that makes Europe interesting all developed before 1939. Since then Europe, particulalrly France has been a cutural backwater.

    It’s true that Paris trades on its history and heritage, but it is a pretty impressive history and heritage. And post WWII, you still have all those who remained in Paris (Picasso, Sartre, Camus, de Beauvoir) as well as the artists and intellectuals who followed – Truffaut, Godard, Le Clezio, Lacan, and so forth. Hardly a cultural backwater. NY was only able to become a cultural capital by virtue of the flight out of Europe in the 30s and 40s.

    THR

    January 12, 2010 at 1:44 pm

  78. jeez for a Tory RL seems the most class obsessed of the commenters here.

    And he dismisses all of Europe in a few lines. Multiculturalist traitor!

    jtfsoon

    January 12, 2010 at 1:46 pm

  79. Don’t get me wrong JTF, I love Europe. I go there most years (business class of course). But it is the place in which to revel in the past.

    Of course we Tories are class conscious. But the class we notice the most is the New Class; what David Brooks called the Bo-Bo. You know the sort, works in Government or the media, wants to be a permanent adolescent in many ways, fancies himself as a bohemian, has soft left , unthought out views, etc.

    That’s the kind of person for whom the modern Europe is run.

    Rococo Liberal

    January 12, 2010 at 5:19 pm

  80. Melb/SYD by very fast train? Doesnt compute, 960kms by plane takes about 4 hours (drive to airport, wait for plane etc) and no way will the train travel at average speed of ~250km/hr. And not for what jetstar are charging

    rog

    January 12, 2010 at 5:35 pm

  81. JC,

    I take the Paris-Marseille TGV fairly regularly. That’s about the same as Melbourne-Sydney. I wouldn’t even think about taking the plane, especially now they’ve installed plugs for your laptop and made it nice (i.e., no-smoking, unlike some years ago). You just sit down for 3 and a bit hours, plug in your computer,do some work and you’re there. No hassles no bothers. This beats the plane hands down.

    conrad

    January 12, 2010 at 6:01 pm

  82. test

    Peter Patton

    January 12, 2010 at 6:06 pm

  83. I’m all for very-fast trains; I’d quiet happily use a well-appointed train for a 3-4hr trip to Sydney. Even 6 hr to Brisbane doesn’t sound so bad.

    dover_beach

    January 12, 2010 at 6:06 pm

  84. Conrad:

    I think the difference is the possibly the distance of and the airport system itself that would that would make that trip competitive with plane travel.

    It takes me about 20 minutes to travel to the airport; getting my e-ticket and jumping on the plane about another 20 mins. add another 30 mins to be there ahead of time.

    I think plane travel in Oz is much easier than in Europe, as there’s less people.

    I really can’t see a fast train between the two cities competing very well which is why it hasn’t been attempted.. it would take 6.5 hours to do the trip in a fast train at best… I think.

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 6:09 pm

  85. Conrad, I just checked.. Paris Marseilles is around 660 k which means the train is traveling 190 k. That would still take over 5 hours melb syd.

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 6:17 pm

  86. They earn somewhere around $100-150K a year and think they are cultured because they are fooled by modern art.
    .
    As opposed to the Mugrabis. Good Jewish-American bourgeois folk who are never fooled by modern art. 🙂

    Adrien

    January 12, 2010 at 6:19 pm

  87. Knowing how bureaucracy abhors a vacuum, before you know it, boarding a train to Sydney would be subject to all the same security rigamarole that makes flying annoying. I estimate the trip will take 3 days.

    Infidel Tiger

    January 12, 2010 at 6:22 pm

  88. “I think plane travel in Oz is much easier than in Europe, as there’s less people.”

    Supply and demand FAIL.

    FDB

    January 12, 2010 at 6:51 pm

  89. FDB

    Our airports aren’t as physically crowded. There aren’t 60 planes lined up looking to use one runway like there is say at NYC during peak hour at times.

    Whenever you come up for air you always end up breathing too much carbon M, FDB.

    and knock it off with the pithy “fail” as it’s getting a little too much used at leftie sites.

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 6:58 pm

  90. Ohare airport…

    In 2008, the airport had 881,566 aircraft operations, an average of 2,409 per day

    Melbourne aiport:

    There were 193,826 aircraft movements per year.

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 7:06 pm

  91. Having lived in Europe and the US, it is not really appropriate to compare the US, with its 300 million people and land mass larger than Europe, with any single European country. Unlike Europe, a large proportion of middle class (and above) Americans live in suburbs that are manicured, clean, well resourced, and bountiful. They are not suburbs like we know in Sydney and Australia.

    Also, there are so many smaller cities and large towns that do not get so much PR abroad. Places like Scarsdale, Westchester are within commuting distance of Manhattan, St. Louis, Tuscon AZ, Raleigh NC, San Jose CA.

    Even when we consider high profile rust-bucket urban dumps like Philadelphia, its suburbs are not that far from the CBD, but are a world apart.

    Another sleeper is Chicago, whose metropolitan population is 10 million. Chicago is arguably the most quintessentially ‘American’ city in the US. While its inner urban area has its fair share of ghettoes and crack dens, there are also lots of suburbs – particularly on the North Shore whose opulence just does not exist in Australia. Toorak, Bellevue Hill, and Pymble are flop-houses by comparison

    In Europe, the choices are much more limited. Large cities such as London have a large inner urban enclave of the rich and fabulous, but the ordinary middle classes are banished to dingy terraces, and cramped apartments. The preferred option is to live in a village (many, many of which are divine) within commuting distance, which the brilliant western European train services excel.

    And you don’t even want to imagine the grimness reserved for the lower middle class and below. The real measure of European social democracy is the never-ending public/council housing estates, overwhelmingly clusters of 10-20 storey crack houses in the sky. Not as diabolical as produced by post-war eastern Europe, but still inspired by the same disease – socialism.

    Peter Patton

    January 12, 2010 at 7:20 pm

  92. “a well-appointed train for a 3-4hr trip to Sydney.”

    1. no train could do that time (without massive subsidy)

    2. no train could beat a Jetstar price (without massive subsidy)

    rog

    January 12, 2010 at 7:25 pm

  93. Even if the train trip took an hour or so longer, I think many people would still use it instead of a plane. Most trains beat planes for comfort, food, drinking, using electronics, taking kids, etc. Plus, the train would take you to the CBD of your destination city, rather than Tullamarine or Avalon.

    THR

    January 12, 2010 at 8:51 pm

  94. THR that is especially the case in places like London and Paris. If you want to travel from London to Paris by air, you spend a fortune getting to and from both airports, not to mention a great deal of time.

    Peter Patton

    January 12, 2010 at 8:56 pm

  95. THR:

    It won’t take an hour longer. It would be more like

    30 mintutes to airport

    20 minutes to fidget around the airport.

    30 mintues wait time

    20 minutes getting off and jumping into a cab

    20 minutes to get into CBD

    60 mintues flight time

    180 mins

    Call it two hours travel time to Sydney by plane.

    It would take 5.5 to 6 hours at best by a fast train.

    It will never get off the ground.

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 9:00 pm

  96. It’s certainly true that Europe has (a) better passenger trains; and (b) nice, walkable, pretty, downtown city centers.
    But by the numbers, America is richer.
    The fact is that these are nice things to have, trains and walkable towns. But they are luxuries that you pay for one way or another, either through higher taxes, living in a smaller house or apartment, or other ways.
    .
    This is why America always fails those quality of life surveys, because the surveys treat such things as ends in themselves; as the pinnacle of social achievement and quality of life.

    daddy dave

    January 12, 2010 at 9:19 pm

  97. Most airports around the world are placed in out-of-the way locations that cost a fortune to get to. And jc, I reckon your estimates would blow out by another couple of hours if you’re coming from, say, Dandenong, and are going to visit your couzie-bros in Campbelltown.

    Trains are the best way to travel. You can stretch your legs, wander to the bar for a drink, and actually see some scenery out the window. If you get yourself a booth you can have a sleep. Unless you’re in a serious rush, trains beat planes hands down.

    THR

    January 12, 2010 at 9:22 pm

  98. But by the numbers, America is richer

    Surely that’s the point? The US is by far the richest nation on earth, yet this translates to very little on a whole range of measures.

    THR

    January 12, 2010 at 9:27 pm

  99. I would gladly take a per capita GDP hit to avoid living anywhere that had the unhealthy inequality the US has.

    Peter Patton

    January 12, 2010 at 9:31 pm

  100. Actually THR a luxury cruise liner is the best way to travel 🙂

    tal

    January 12, 2010 at 9:35 pm

  101. Is it the fact that you don’t like people richer that yourself, peter?

    I can’t recall who but a university ran a game where students were placed in positions that determined their own wealth and that of others. Disturbingly a lot of the students went as far as reducing their own wealth so they could bring others down more.

    It sort of explains your own position, don’t you think?

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 9:37 pm

  102. Crabs in a bucket JC

    tal

    January 12, 2010 at 9:39 pm

  103. “I would gladly take a per capita GDP hit to avoid living anywhere that had the unhealthy inequality the US has.”

    I’d take the paper inequality over those charming car bonfires of France.

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 12, 2010 at 9:39 pm

  104. It translates into a great deal. For instance…
    They’ve got more freeways, better airports, better second-tier roads, bigger houses, more cars, bigger cars, more appliances, cheaper shops, more shops, more stuff to buy of every description, better ports, better internet, more freight rail, a bigger military, better TV.
    .
    Europe’s got passenger trains and nice city centers. Hurrah. Yet even on these two supposed Euro-winners the Euro advantage isn’t so clear cut.
    The US has got some awesome downtown centers ranging from New York to New Orleans and plenty of others. Secondly, they may not have trains but they have a ginormous domestic airline industry.
    .
    Now maybe you prefer trains to planes. But it seems like a pretty big sacrifice to live in a second order declining society that has trouble even shouldering up to the GDP of Arkansas, just so you can have trains.

    daddy dave

    January 12, 2010 at 9:41 pm

  105. Actually THR a luxury cruise liner is the best way to travel

    What if we combine it with a luxury train for the overland sections, and we’ll have a compromise?

    I would gladly take a per capita GDP hit to avoid living anywhere that had the unhealthy inequality the US has.

    The US also has shitful labour laws. See, for instance, how it compares on annual leave. Even Chinese workers do better on this measure than their US comrades:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_statutory_minimum_employment_leave_by_country

    THR

    January 12, 2010 at 9:42 pm

  106. jc

    No I don’t have any problem with wealth per se, nor where I stand in the pecking order. But inequality has two tails, not just one silver tail.

    Peter Patton

    January 12, 2010 at 9:43 pm

  107. Sorry Peter you’ll have to explain that to me,thanks

    tal

    January 12, 2010 at 9:45 pm

  108. The US has dreadful inequality. Some of the poor only have basic cable.

    Infidel Tiger

    January 12, 2010 at 9:45 pm

  109. THR

    Having grown up in a country – Australia – which has reasonable minimum wage laws and welfare provision, after a few months living in the US I really started resenting having to dip into my pockets 10 times a day to keep America’s lower class from starvation. Bringing a cup of coffee to a table is the bloody restaurant’s responsibility, not mine.

    Peter Patton

    January 12, 2010 at 9:48 pm

  110. Europe’s got passenger trains and nice city centers. Hurrah. Yet even on these two supposed Euro-winners the Euro advantage isn’t so clear cut.

    Absolute garbage. Even putting aside the vexed issue of ‘culture’, Paris surely eclipses every US city on just about everything, with the exception of NY. Far from being ‘second-order’, most of Europe, even that which was behind the Iron Curtain, has better life expectancy, infant mortality, etc.

    Somebody from the anti-Europe brigade quipped earlier that the Europeans get their amenities at the expense of of a defense force. Well, the converse of that is that the average US citizen loses years of life for the benefit of what 60’s types called the military-industrial complex. After all, the US govt has been practising Keynesianism for years, but mostly this has been restricted to helping cronies, rather than being poured into public amenities that might actually improve the lot of the average taxpayer.

    THR

    January 12, 2010 at 9:48 pm

  111. Absolute garbage. Even putting aside the vexed issue of ‘culture’, Paris surely eclipses every US city on just about everything, with the exception of NY.

    What is everything? Homelessness?

    Michael Sutcliffe

    January 12, 2010 at 9:49 pm

  112. What’s your concern peter absolute poverty or relative poverty? Silver tails? Would you call Bill Gates or Buffet silver tails?

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 9:49 pm

  113. Obviously THR rates a city by the amount of dog shit in the street. More likely he’s never been to the US.

    Infidel Tiger

    January 12, 2010 at 9:51 pm

  114. Paris surely eclipses every US city on just about everything, with the exception of NY.

    San Fran is pretty nice. It all depends on what you want and what is important to you, THR.

    Frankly I’d feel safer in Harlem than I would in some of the Frog burbs of Paris.

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 9:52 pm

  115. Hey Infidel it’s not the year of the Tiger ’till Febuary, don’t get cranky 🙂

    tal

    January 12, 2010 at 9:54 pm

  116. Well, the converse of that is that the average US citizen loses years of life for the benefit of what 60’s types called the military-industrial complex. After all, the US govt has been practising Keynesianism for years, but mostly this has been restricted to helping cronies, rather than being poured into public amenities that might actually improve the lot of the average taxpayer.

    Well, surprisingly, we might agree on something. If the US used their military more selfishly, and cut the war on drugs, the American citizenry would be much better off. I’d say so much better off that you wouldn’t even be willing to compare Eurotrash on anything but dubious left-wing measures such as equality. I think America should do it. Hopefully this massive deficit, and the realisation by Americans that they’re in a bit of bother, will drive them a bit down this path and they’ll make some changes.

    Michael Sutcliffe

    January 12, 2010 at 9:54 pm

  117. THR

    Sorry, but one measure on which the US clearly surpasses Europe is culture. Most Europeans are one recession away from reverting back to the peasants and gypsies from which they came. Postwar statism inured Europe to the competition, risk-taking, experimentaion, entrepreneurialism, and yes crassness that has produced America’s greatest contribution to humanity; its popular culture. Not only that, but also in just about every area of high/elite culture.

    Peter Patton

    January 12, 2010 at 9:55 pm

  118. “Having grown up in a country – Australia – which has reasonable minimum wage laws and welfare provision”

    Sorry pal, but that is not the reason why Australia is well off.

    “Bringing a cup of coffee to a table is the bloody restaurant’s responsibility, not mine.”

    Tipping is a practice that helps everyone dodge taxes and allows people to be paid on performance. US workers like tipping. Their bosses don’t fleece them when they do good work and they can not be taxed on that extra income.

    Please explain how having a job destroying minimum wage and a very poorly designed welfare system like we have is better.

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 12, 2010 at 9:55 pm

  119. But inequality has two tails, not just one silver tail.
    .
    Inequality is a different thing from absolute poverty, Peter. If Bill Gates makes another billion dollars, inequality increases even if there is no change for anyone else. Those waiters that you resented tipping so much are not starving by the way. It’s simply a different payment system.
    .
    And, sorry but there are not two tails, it’s a one-tailed distribution. This allows people to accuse the US of having “too much inequality”. It’s a mendacious, spurious argument.

    daddy dave

    January 12, 2010 at 9:55 pm

  120. Peter, things with a completely American soul like jazz will also go down in history as significant and great as any of the ‘traditional’ art forms.

    Michael Sutcliffe

    January 12, 2010 at 9:59 pm

  121. You’re right, Tal!

    It’s all relative anyway. For some people Dapto is the duck’s nuts, for other it’s Dubrovnik. Who am I to argue.

    Infidel Tiger

    January 12, 2010 at 10:01 pm

  122. Isn’t Dapto nice this time of year?

    tal

    January 12, 2010 at 10:04 pm

  123. “Sorry, but one measure on which the US clearly surpasses Europe is culture. Most Europeans are one recession away from reverting back to the peasants and gypsies from which they came.”

    Some are already there, burning cars instead of hay carts when the mob gets angry. What does the human development index measure again?

    “Postwar statism inured Europe to the competition, risk-taking, experimentaion, entrepreneurialism, and yes crassness that has produced America’s greatest contribution to humanity; its popular culture. Not only that, but also in just about every area of high/elite culture.”

    There’s a reason why it is popular and what art snobs call culture is very narrow, even high culture. To deny film making, martial arts or architecture is absolutely stupid. America excels at these. To be honest, they are probably the best at the world at TV (look at HBO).

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 12, 2010 at 10:04 pm

  124. Tiger has a good point, I don’t care where you live or how you travel and Krugman can go scratch himself

    tal

    January 12, 2010 at 10:07 pm

  125. Hey, I was explicitly putting the question of ‘culture’ aside for the purpose of this discussion. I even put it in scare quotes.

    Some of the ideas of Paris on display here seem to have come more from Mark Steyn or some other rightist stooge, rather than reality. And sorry, the US is far more dangerous than any European country except for a couple in the far East:

    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_mur_percap-crime-murders-per-capita

    THR

    January 12, 2010 at 10:16 pm

  126. America’s dominance of high quality television is more pronounced than even its military dominance.

    Peter Patton

    January 12, 2010 at 10:17 pm

  127. THR

    Sorry, I didn’t read it properly.

    Peter Patton

    January 12, 2010 at 10:19 pm

  128. THR, there is no doubt I still get all goose bumpy when I go to Paris. Paris is the reward for collaborating with Nazis! 🙂

    Peter Patton

    January 12, 2010 at 10:20 pm

  129. America’s dominance of high quality television is more pronounced than even its military dominance.
    .
    this is true, but unfortunately quality in TV, as in so much art and commerce, is a pyramid structure.

    daddy dave

    January 12, 2010 at 10:21 pm

  130. My view is that the ugly side of the entire inequality debate comes from those who denounce it. They also seem to confuse all sorts of things getting income mixed up with wealth. Buffet for instance is not the highest income earner in the US- to take this to extremes. In fact his salary is around 500K per year and Berkshire pays no dividend. So Buffet is very wealthy man but he’s not a high-income earner.

    When the discussion usually centers on US inequality it’s usually not a discussion about people being too poor- they’re not. It’s really about people being too rich.

    Egalitarianism is really just another name for envy and it’s really about the tall poppy syndrome, which in this country was most certainly introduced by the British criminal class, whereas the mass of British immigration to the US was anchored to the middle class and religious refugees who were also from the middle.

    Not allowing people to rise doesn’t make you or anyone else rise to the top and it doesn’t really make the poorer richer to any degree. Ayn Rand had a great description of this most destructive vice in the human psyche. She referred to it as “hatred of the good”. In other words if you don’t have it, you don’t want anyone else having it either.

    Income inequality is actually the measure of people’s economic production. Steve Jobs is rich because he was able to put things together, essentially little objects made of silicon and metal that people crave. The wealthier he becomes in the free market is actually a sign that other people are doing well, as they can both afford to buy the things he has made and in a mutual exchange there is benefit for both sides. Wealth has to be created and there’s no automatic reason why money ends up in the pockets of the rich. If Steve Jobs started to make shitty products he wouldn’t make as much money and would end up going broke- at least Apple would, as it almost did once.

    It’s in fact the statist situation where favors are paid for whereas in a free market income inequality represents something that’s great. It means that individuals are able to their best and reap the rewards while everyone’s living standard rises.

    Egalitarianism is like a cancer on the body of a nation.

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 10:26 pm

  131. THR

    Actually, I thought the world’s murder hotspots were South Africa (with J’burg the world’s most violent town), Central America (and Brazil), East Africa, and the Stans (former central Asian Soviet republics).

    Peter Patton

    January 12, 2010 at 10:26 pm

  132. THR, I think a lot of the difference in rates of violence can be attributed to the long time ethnic/racial homogeneity of the European nation states, compared to the US’s birth in blood and bondage and its ongoing openness to all comers.

    Peter Patton

    January 12, 2010 at 10:31 pm

  133. On its own, relative poverty isn’t a hugely meaningful measure. But combined with other data, it can be. Take a look at the murders-per-capita stats I linked to above. On average, the murder rate in the US is about the same as that of Bulgaria. However, due to the significant inequality in the US, we can reasonably conclude that most of these murders aren’t happening in the wealthy suburbs or the gated communities or whatever. Consequently, the shitty suburbs are going to be all the shittier, and probably have murder rates more like Zimbabwe or PNG. Some achievement.

    THR

    January 12, 2010 at 10:34 pm

  134. THR:

    Is it Steve Jobs , Warren Buffet or bill Gates enticing these people to go shoot each other. I really don’t understand what the issue of the murder rate has to do with income inequality. How is that related?

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 10:38 pm

  135. The US crime rate continues to drop:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE5BK2KI20091221

    Most likely a result of the record gun sales that Obama has presided over.

    Infidel Tiger

    January 12, 2010 at 10:43 pm

  136. “On average, the murder rate in the US is about the same as that of Bulgaria. ”

    Nope. We can conclude that the US has third world style drug laws (i.e you can be executed for growing/selling/importing/making over certain amount and selling any pot pot over a certain threshold) that creates a winner-takes-all tournament style economic environment for drug dealers and makes the incentive murder much, much greater. I say this given that the US has over 1 000 000 citizens in gaol, half of which are drug related.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legality_of_cannabis#Use_of_capital_punishment_against_the_cannabis_trade

    “Current Federal law (1994 Crime Act) sets the threshold for a possible death sentence for marijuana offenses at 60,000 kilograms or 60,000 plants (including seedlings) regardless of weight. The death penalty is also possible for running a continuing criminal enterprise that distributes marijuana and receives more than $20 million in proceeds in one year, regardless of the weight of marijuana involved.”

    If you can be legally killed for selling it, there isn’t much deterrence to murdering someone who is either a witness or takes a few points off you.

    Stupid Americans.

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 12, 2010 at 10:51 pm

  137. Yeah there is no doubt when they put their minds to it the Yanks sure know how to clean up the streets. The difference in NYC by the mid 1990s compared to the late 80s was extraordinary.

    Peter Patton

    January 12, 2010 at 10:52 pm

  138. Ashamed to admit it, but when Americans went crazy in the frenzy of the gfc and started to buy lots of guns, I bought Smith and Wesson stock (not a gun) that turned out to be a nice little earner.

    Obama’s election gave the stock a decent little spike.

    A look at the chart shows the firm went up about the same day he was elected and kept on going.

    NASDAQ:SWHC

    How’s that for confidence in your elected representative.

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 10:54 pm

  139. The difference in NYC by the mid 1990s compared to the late 80s was extraordinary.

    Yep. It was actually over a shorter time frame than that. Dinkins was the worst mayor in the city’s history and he only got the boot in 1994.

    Giuliani took over and by about 1996 the city was actually seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. The crime rate began to drop as Commissioner Batton began his strategy to fight and push back really hard.

    There was actually a market difference over 2 to 3 years.

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 10:59 pm

  140. Smith and Wesson is a fantastic defensive investment!

    Infidel Tiger

    January 12, 2010 at 11:00 pm

  141. SRL

    Actually the US has over 2 million people in its prisons (the highest in the world), and even the highest official rate of incarceration. Though who would know what the real figures are in China, Rwanda, and on.

    Peter Patton

    January 12, 2010 at 11:00 pm

  142. I don’t know anything about guns, tiger and that was the only firm that I knew of as you always heard their name in westerns. It was about as a sophisticated a choice as that.

    The hilarious thing was that when Americans get on a craze they really go for it and at the time they were buying all this survivalist shit as all these idiots were on TV scaring them to death about the breakdown of society….. CNBC was a huge culprit for that crap.

    The stock took off as soon as Obama won office. That’s an amazing call of confidence by the masses, hey?

    jc

    January 12, 2010 at 11:05 pm

  143. Here’s another measure – infant mortality:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_infant_mortality_rate

    Judging by the stats, the US is up there with such luminaries as Guam and New Caledonia.

    For the richest nation on earth, this is a disgrace.

    I suspect the vocal anti-abortionists on this site may be somewhat less vocal when it comes to many ‘socialist’ and ‘statist’ nations vastly outperforming the US on this measure.

    THR

    January 12, 2010 at 11:48 pm

  144. And controlling (somewhat) for purchasing power, wages in the US are lower than those in France, Sweden, Japan and Germany:

    http://economics.uchicago.edu/download/bigmac.pdf

    THR

    January 12, 2010 at 11:51 pm

  145. Come off it, you know this is largely to do with the huge influx of legal and illegal immigrants they get every year. These people are dirt poor and have a poor start to life, even if their parents have moved for the better.

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 12, 2010 at 11:52 pm

  146. “The procedure is implemented with new data we have collected on average wage rates in McDonald’s restaurants in 27 countries that are at dramatically different stages of economic development. Real wage rates are computed at current exchange rates, and also after adjustment for purchasing power parity in units of Big Macs per hour.”

    This is completely asinine. This is a minimum wage job (note that long term unemployment also correlates with higher *wages*). It’s already been shown that they have higher PPP GDP. The Big Mac index is simply a off hand, light hearted but mildly inaccurate version of PPP. REER would have been better for a non minimum wage job.

    This smacks of desperation.

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 12, 2010 at 11:57 pm

  147. Illegal immigrants are blamed for every bad stat in the US, usually by some craven apologist for misery.

    Take wages – in the past three decades or so in the US, they’ve been pathetic for the low-income sector. This is supposedly the fault of illegals. As if corporations are moving from the unionised North east to the deunionised South (or, better yet, China or Mexico) because of illegals.

    Now, as to infant mortality – what makes you think that we even have accurate stats for illegals? And secondly, even if we do, what makes you think they’re somehow skewed against the US, and not also for every other nation with large populations of illegal migrants?

    THR

    January 13, 2010 at 12:00 am

  148. THR don’t some countries differ in their definition of viable life?

    tal

    January 13, 2010 at 12:05 am

  149. 1. US wages are “pathetic” because of persistent inflation, and competition externally in poorer countries and from migrants.

    However, the average wage over represents poorer workers – many of which are immigrants, most of whom find work. Worker productivity (and hence most wages) have increased. You really need to disaggregate both sets, and you see both groups had good outcomes, if not for inflation.

    2. They are skewed against the US because their intake is so high. Not illegals, all immigrants.

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 13, 2010 at 12:07 am

  150. Yes, definitely tal.

    My point is that some above are trying to have it both ways. If the US is the world’s wealthiest nation (and I believe it is), then why does it perform so poorly on such a wide range of measures (murders, incarcerations, life expectancy, infant mortality, etc). Nobody expects perfection, but schmucks shouldn’t be pushing the virtues of tipping in lieu of wages for a country whose infant mortality is poorer than that of Cuba.

    THR

    January 13, 2010 at 12:07 am

  151. THR
    There are 11 million illegals in the US, who don’t have on going healthcare and show up to the emergency section of a hospital when just about to give birth or when they have a problem with the pregnancy. There is also a large proportion of teenage pregnancy in the black population where infant mortality is around 14 per 1000.

    What would you do to solve these two large issues.

    11 million represents 55% of the bottom quintile of the US working population (there are 100 million workers).

    Hospitals are required to deal with every case that comes in so no one is giving birth in the streets.

    We don’t offer foreigners or illegals benefits under our medicare system, so what would you do to lower the rate in the US?

    jc

    January 13, 2010 at 12:10 am

  152. THR is the Cuba V US Mortality rate measured on the same scale?

    tal

    January 13, 2010 at 12:11 am

  153. Honest question btw THR, too lazy to look it up

    tal

    January 13, 2010 at 12:12 am

  154. We don’t offer foreigners or illegals benefits under our medicare system, so what would you do to lower the rate in the US?

    We do give emergency care to everybody. We try to extract money out of them afterwards, but we do offer it in the first instance.

    And you can’t just pretend that these illegals are some kind of tumour for the US. They’re an integral part of the overall economy. there’s no meaningful sense in which they’re ‘outside’ the system – they’re as much a part of it as anybody else in the US.

    THR

    January 13, 2010 at 12:13 am

  155. Tal:

    I really don’t think one can use any stat that comes out of cuba as it’s a totalitarian state and the figures could be simply just made up. It simply isn’t reliable.

    jc

    January 13, 2010 at 12:14 am

  156. JC Fidel wouldn’t lie, that’s a slander that is 🙂

    tal

    January 13, 2010 at 12:16 am

  157. “Nobody expects perfection, but schmucks shouldn’t be pushing the virtues of tipping in lieu of wages for a country whose infant mortality is poorer than that of Cuba.”

    You’re a schmuck if you think the payoff is the other way around.

    How do you know Cuba is telling the truth? USA murders and incarcerations are explained by their stupidity with regards to drug laws and overzealousness generally. They have a low life expectancy because they choose to live that way. They haven’t adapted to the change from a gruelling agricultural existence (very high calories diet) to technological abundance. The infant mortality rate spike explain by migrants is valid.

    If you’re legal and want to better yourself, few countries offer more opportunity.

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 13, 2010 at 12:16 am

  158. Nobody expects perfection, but schmucks shouldn’t be pushing the virtues of tipping in lieu of wages for a country whose infant mortality is poorer than that of Cuba.

    THR, he never gives up!

    Cuba uses prescribed abortion (choice not given to the parents) to eliminate high risk births. That is not something we would tolerate.

    Michael Sutcliffe

    January 13, 2010 at 12:17 am

  159. Tal, there are two separate measures given by Wiki, one by the UN, and one by the CIA. Each measures the number of infant deaths per 1,000 births.

    According to the UN, Cuba has 5.1 deaths per thousand, placing it at number 28 on the list. The US has 6.3 deaths, placing it as 33.

    According to the CIA factbook, Cuba is ranked 44th (5.82 deaths) and the US 46th (6.26). There must be limitations when it comes to gathering data on this stuff, but the same people have managed to collect stats for countries like Afghanistan and Somalia, and I can’t see why the CIA would have a bias in favour of Cuba.

    THR

    January 13, 2010 at 12:19 am

  160. THR

    We give them meaningful care, in what sense? Prenatal? They can obtain it if they pay for it at a much higher rate than the medicare levy. We simply don’t have a large problem as they do, however Medicare is ever watchful of not funding anyone who isn’t a citizen or permanent resident.

    That’s pretty much what they have there too because as I said no hospital is allowed to or would turn away people.

    So prenatal care is about on par for our illegals as it is there, however our figures aren’t as skewed because we don’t have that proportion of the population.

    What to do?

    There are two points.

    One is that they shouldn’t be there are they were never allowed to enter the country.

    The other is to give them amnesty.

    I would end to favor the latter but with a view of really tightening up the border afterwords.

    jc

    January 13, 2010 at 12:20 am

  161. “We do give emergency care to everybody.”

    So do Americans.

    “And you can’t just pretend that these illegals are some kind of tumour for the US. They’re an integral part of the overall economy.”

    Yes that’s true. However, many actually pay FICA taxes. However, none can get Medicare etc. Look they might turn up at an emergency room, but prevention is better than cure. A lack of necessary, early care could explain high rates of infant mortality.

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 13, 2010 at 12:21 am

  162. It would be so much cheaper to just buy all the train fetishists a model train set with public money.

    The people are less stylishly dressed. The food is terrible.

    Andrew Norton commenting on fashion now?

    Those jeans that fall off young kids’ asses and the iphones that every single American kid have (and are a fashion accessory) cost upwards of $500 each.

    Food in America is outstanding. You can get a meal in a good restaurant far cheaper than Australia. And there are millions more of them.

    You can get a meal in a fast-food restaurant cheaper too. But nobody is forcing you to.

    Just because you see rider jeans and burger king and think that’s all there is in the US doesn’t make it true.

    Yobbo

    January 13, 2010 at 12:22 am

  163. I really don’t think one can use any stat that comes out of cuba as it’s a totalitarian state and the figures could be simply just made up.

    There’s a mythical idea that totalitarian states are sophisticated when it comes to agitprop. By and large, they’re not. All politicians lie, but liberal democracies do it much more professionally.

    Cuba uses prescribed abortion (choice not given to the parents) to eliminate high risk births. That is not something we would tolerate.

    And yet Cuba still outperforms the US on other measures, like mortality rates for under-fives. Are you now claiming that Fidel murders sickly-looking five-year olds for the sake of CIA stats?

    THR

    January 13, 2010 at 12:22 am

  164. THR at what age is the baby “viable”?Is it the same in both countries?

    tal

    January 13, 2010 at 12:23 am

  165. “Nobody expects perfection, but schmucks shouldn’t be pushing the virtues of tipping in lieu of wages for a country whose infant mortality is poorer than that of Cuba.”

    THR, he’s like a little terrier with your sock.

    And the US isn’t perfect. For the ‘average’ person i.e. first-world middle American with high school education or better, the US offers a higher quality of life and greater opportunity than just about anywhere else. Why do so many people want to go there?

    The incarceration rate is largely due to the war on drugs. The (not much) lower life expectancy is due to giving people lots of freedom. You know, that’s how lots of people want to live, they want to smoke and ride their bicycle without a helmet. They don’t like being fined lots of money for not wearing a seatbelt.

    Michael Sutcliffe

    January 13, 2010 at 12:24 am

  166. “Cuba uses prescribed abortion (choice not given to the parents) to eliminate high risk births. That is not something we would tolerate.”

    This issue should be considered over forever. Cuba forces risky births never to occur then claims a low infant mortality rate.

    Much like a nation of conscripts claiming low unemployment, or 98% of the people re-electing the party.

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 13, 2010 at 12:24 am

  167. and I can’t see why the CIA would have a bias in favour of Cuba.

    The CIA was measuring the Soviet economy multiples larger than what it actually ended up being once iot was opened up. The consumer sector was bigger than the Netherlands and the rest was military. The CIA was horrendous at these estimations.

    The only thing to say about Cuba is that we just don’t know.

    Of course Afghanistan and even Somalia to some extent would be more open about these things as both are looking for UN money and don’t have much desire to hide.

    jc

    January 13, 2010 at 12:25 am

  168. “And yet Cuba still outperforms the US on other measures, like mortality rates for under-fives. Are you now claiming that Fidel murders sickly-looking five-year olds for the sake of CIA stats?”

    Yep, commies are bad at propaganda. Of course Fidel doesn’t murder five year olds for the 0-5 data, he murders unborn children wether the mother considers it necessary or not.

    Then again, you actually believe what Cuba says?

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 13, 2010 at 12:27 am

  169. No I’m saying that any stat that comes out of Cuba has to be taken with a grain of salt. And Yes, Fidel would lie if it meant it made him look good. Just like the Sovs lied about the size of their economy and many other things too.

    Michael has already explained the treatment they give to suspect birth potential.

    jc

    January 13, 2010 at 12:28 am

  170. oops

    The consumer sector was NO bigger than the Netherlands and the rest was military GDP wise.

    jc

    January 13, 2010 at 12:29 am

  171. Ahyway all these figures are bullshit according to Krugman(who can go scratch himself)the eyes have it.Well I given birth to 4 kids and my eyes tell me I’d rather give birth in the US than any back waters EX commie shithole

    tal

    January 13, 2010 at 12:31 am

  172. tal, I don’t know the methodology of the CIA or the UN. I’m just reporting what I’ve seen.

    You know, that’s how lots of people want to live, they want to smoke and ride their bicycle without a helmet.

    Yeah, because smoking’s like, banned in European countries like Spain, Italy, France…

    The traffic laws in some European countries are probably more relaxed as well. Is there anywhere in the US that officially has something like the autobahn concept?

    This issue should be considered over forever. Cuba forces risky births never to occur then claims a low infant mortality rate.

    You can check the link above. If your claims were true, things should even out for the under-fives’ stats. However, the figures for the US and Cuba stay much the same. On a wildly charitable reading for the US, you could argue that they’re on a par with Cuba on this measure.

    Of course Afghanistan and even Somalia to some extent would be more open about these things as both are looking for UN money and don’t have much desire to hide.

    What does Cuba have to gain from lying? Why would you believe that the brothers Castro are liars who are allergic to UN money, but that the local warlords in downtown Mogadishu are making sure the local hospitals have their paperwork filled out properly?

    THR

    January 13, 2010 at 12:32 am

  173. Bad spelling folks sorry

    tal

    January 13, 2010 at 12:32 am

  174. And Yes, Fidel would lie if it meant it made him look good. Just like the Sovs lied about the size of their economy and many other things too

    But there’s absolutely no need for him to lie. He’ll never look good in the eyes of his nearest (and biggest) neighbour’s government. The rest is purely academic. And on the lying front, I doubt Castro is one iota more dishonest than Nixon, for instance. (I could give more recent examples, but I thought I’d start with an uncontroversial one).

    THR

    January 13, 2010 at 12:34 am

  175. “What does Cuba have to gain from lying?”

    If the Cuban regime didn’t care about imposing their ideology, and only money, they would take a totally different strategy.

    Seriously, they’d offer to be bought out at a high price with amnesty.

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 13, 2010 at 12:39 am

  176. OT speaking of kids THT,JC hope your broods are doing well

    tal

    January 13, 2010 at 12:39 am

  177. THR, would you entrust the birth of your child to the Cuban or American medical system?

    Infidel Tiger

    January 13, 2010 at 12:40 am

  178. Tal

    Well I given birth to 4 kids and my eyes tell me I’d rather give birth in the US than any back waters EX commie shithole

    My kid was born at a regular NYC (teaching) hospital Mount Sinai. No, THR, it isn’t just for rich people anyone can go there.

    There was by my estimate 12 people at one stage in the room as my wife was giving birth.

    Two obs, two midwives, couple of nurses, anesthetist along with his aid and the nurse to take the kid later.

    It was so inefficient that I never would have believed it possible. No wonder they spend so much money on health-care.

    jc

    January 13, 2010 at 12:40 am

  179. Thanks tal – the little one is doing well. She’s growing fast – it’s a well-worn cliche but they really grow up frighteningly quickly. Hope all is well with you.

    THR

    January 13, 2010 at 12:41 am

  180. Heh good point JC,even Ol’ Castro won’t go to hospital in Cuba. My spelling is bad tonight y’all sorry

    tal

    January 13, 2010 at 12:45 am

  181. THR, would you entrust the birth of your child to the Cuban or American medical system?

    Naturally, if I had the money, I’d go to the best doctor I could, irrespective of the country. Given the financial incentives, you’d be more likely to find the top doctors in the US.

    If I had no money, I couldn’t say on the basis of any real evidence that the US is better.

    Anyway, this is all beside the point. Even if we forget Cuba, the US is still performing disgracefully on these things, particularly when you consider its (comparative) vast wealth. You can’t get around this. Not with tales of Castro fudging CIA studies, and not with stories of magical immigrants who die more in the US than everywhere else.

    THR

    January 13, 2010 at 12:45 am

  182. I’m great THR missing Asia but what are ya gunna do?On the health front things are great. Yes they do grow fast,it’s cute when they’re someone else’s kid 🙂

    tal

    January 13, 2010 at 12:48 am

  183. THR;

    For lord’s sake, these totalitarian systems are built to lie. It’s endemic in the system. The minister for health is not going to tell Fidel that the system is a fucked up mess.

    You move to the top in these systems by being the meanest, lying prick around and you never ever give the dear leader bad news in case he blames it on you. He’d never take the blame, so the propensity is to always bullshit and hide the truth for the boss if you want to keep your job.

    Nixon was a liar. However democratic systems don’t allow for blatant lying within the government apparatus. Leader in dem systems are not as strong as you think they are.

    Rudd can’t call the ABS and tell them to lie about stats. Neither could Nixon.

    jc

    January 13, 2010 at 12:49 am

  184. Bollocks THR.

    We’re not ignoring anything. The reasons are perfectly valid and you ignore the desirable reasons (as in more freedom) for these mediocre results.

    No one is going to blurt out how much they love socialism. Not only is it unworkable, it is unsustainable. How can Europe keep it going past 2030? Norway when the oil runs out?

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 13, 2010 at 12:51 am

  185. Well, we explained the reasons why there is a discrepancy, THR.

    No one here is saying the US medical system is perfect. Far from it, as it’s mess administratively speaking and it’s extremely inefficient in some ways. However the medical staff are extremely competent.

    jc

    January 13, 2010 at 12:53 am

  186. the medical staff are extremely competent.

    Perhaps in some ways even too specialized.

    jc

    January 13, 2010 at 12:54 am

  187. Yep, s/he is home and has been since just before xmas, Tal, thanks for asking.

    If things turn out ok we’re heading to St. Barts in March, bludging off some friends that have a house there.

    jc

    January 13, 2010 at 12:57 am

  188. Good stuff JC,hopefully this will be a great year

    tal

    January 13, 2010 at 12:59 am

  189. However democratic systems don’t allow for blatant lying within the government apparatus.

    I don’t think this is true. I think democratic systems allow for every bit as much lying as dictatorships, except in a democracy, you have to be a little more creative about it. This actually makes the West far more propagandist than the worst dictatorship. In the old USSR, the government can announce how gloriously the economy is doing, and everybody duly ignores it. Here, a government says the same, but words it far more carefully, gets a quote from a useful idiot or two, sends it to the media as a press release, and it then gets published as genuine news. This is done by both sides, and it’s far more subtle and effective than anything you’ll find in the USSR or Cuba.

    The reasons are perfectly valid and you ignore the desirable reasons (as in more freedom) for these mediocre results.

    Actually, they’re not valid. Countries which are poorer, but which have better welfare states, manage to outperform the US on a range of measures. We’re talking countries in Western Europe, or countries like Japan or Australia. Australia is not a socialist dictatorship (or if it is, the US is also, despite spending taxpayers’ money on different things).

    As for the welfare state being unsustainable – this is far from proven. The level of unsustainability is no doubt increased by the billions in welfare given to failed bankers in the US and UK, and the trillions in public funds used to line private pockets in Iraq. Perhaps lawmakers and purse-string holders can approach projects in health with similar gusto.

    THR

    January 13, 2010 at 1:01 am

  190. THR:

    Western government can be fired. This doesn’t happen in totalitarian states. Of course politicians lie however they can’t run rampant and begin making shit up like economic stats or rather telling people what should go into the figures. There are boundaries.

    In tot states you have the ability to fudge the numbers and one will question you and if they did it would be the end.

    Why is unpaid health-care assumed to be a right?

    jc

    January 13, 2010 at 1:06 am

  191. Why is unpaid health-care assumed to be a right?

    Because rights are positive as well as negative, and because it’s beneath the dignity of a civilised, rich society to expect the poor to be killed or saved at the whim of some philanthropist or other.

    THR

    January 13, 2010 at 1:10 am

  192. So why isn’t it a right to have food for free?

    jc

    January 13, 2010 at 1:11 am

  193. I don’t know if ‘right’ is the best way to frame it – ‘human rights’ is a much-abused term these days – but certain minimum standards, like ‘free’ food where necessary, should also be considered.

    THR

    January 13, 2010 at 1:14 am

  194. THR how much of your personal wealth are you going to give away?

    tal

    January 13, 2010 at 1:15 am

  195. Back of the envelope calculation, a lot of what I already give away goes on useless shite (over $2 billion on ‘border protection’ to stop PNG invading, FFS), so with a bit of rejigging, you could keep tax rates much as they are, or increase them somewhat for higher income earners, and cover things a lot of useful things. In any case, I’d be willing to see a top tax rate of 80-90%, and if I were in the top bracket, I’d be quite happy to pay that amount, as long as the money was spent right.

    THR

    January 13, 2010 at 1:18 am

  196. I’m talking about things under a system more or less the same as ours, of course. More radical changes would change the calculations.

    THR

    January 13, 2010 at 1:19 am

  197. Health care may be desirable, but that doesn’t make it a “right”. It’s a very precarious claim based on conditions that have only been able to exist in a very short space of time. If you took away cheap oil there would be no health care, or any other economic “rights” we like to claim. There is no such thing as an “health care right” even in many countries that claim to have one! In a nutshell, all positive rights suffer from the defect that they would be physically impossible in any context outside a very privileged one based on cheap energy…which has only existed for 100 years, and is soon to be taken away. On the other hand, it would still be possible to exercise a right to life and a right to free speech even in a poor society, because very few resources are required to defend these rights.

    Michael Fisk

    January 13, 2010 at 1:20 am

  198. I’d be willing to see a top tax rate of 80-90%, and if I were in the top bracket, I’d be quite happy to pay that amount, as long as the money was spent right.

    Except there would be no money to spend, as anyone of any productive value would simply emigrate.

    Yobbo

    January 13, 2010 at 3:41 am

  199. Getting back to the thread… Krugman advocates social democracy. He also advocates additional spending. Would Krugman advocate spending to Japanese levels which as now reached 227% of GDP.

    I have maintained the Japan will default on its debt or simply implode into hyperinflation. I couldn’t pick which.

    Pritchard thinks Japan may have reached the precipice and could start moving into hyperinflation this year as the government can no longer service its debt at 1%.

    Those that advocate more government borrowing should stop and think of the consequences a little more.

    Read this and tremble if it comes to pass.

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/ambroseevans-pritchard/100002951/a-global-fiasco-is-brewing-in-japan/

    jc

    January 13, 2010 at 4:09 am

  200. note also the charts, which show that other countries have moved into hyperinflation at the point where the US accumulated debt now rests.

    Cross all the fingers me thinks.

    Pricthard correctly points out that Japanese demographics will soon pull it to zero savings rate. When that happens the game is up as they will have to begin borrowing offshore and then start paying high rates if anyone is prepared to lend them any money with those sorts of demographics and debt position.

    Japan is toast. Score that to Keynesian economics.

    jc

    January 13, 2010 at 4:17 am

  201. some other measures where the US does poorly, like infant mortality
    .
    let’s put the infant mortality in perspective. Keep in mind that small, homogenous societies tend to do better.

    Singapore:2.3
    Australia 4.7
    USA 6.6
    .
    whoah! Pretty high, huh? But compare that to…
    .
    Jordan 15
    Brazil 23
    India 30
    Pakistan 65
    Angola 180

    daddy dave

    January 13, 2010 at 9:28 am

  202. Can I lay to rest this infant mortality cannard once and for all? Some years ago James Taranto in the WSJ demonstrated that the reason why the US figure looks bad is superior technology. Because the Americans have the technology and medical skill to save babies that are born extremely premature, they include the deaths of premature babies in the infant mortality statistics whereas most other countries (including Cuba) do not. So the measure is notthe same.

    Rococo Liberal

    January 13, 2010 at 10:03 am

  203. so, it comes down to this. America is wealthier, but Europe has pretty town centres and passenger trains.

    daddy dave

    January 13, 2010 at 10:25 am

  204. Europe is for visiting and revelling in a glorious past. So if you are a middle managemnet public servant who wants lots of holidays, a small flat, a short working week and can get by on a pretty average salary, Europe may be good to live in. The US is better to live in for the vast majority of the middle classes and is probably more culturally vibrant.

    Rococo Liberal

    January 13, 2010 at 11:07 am

  205. Some years ago James Taranto in the WSJ demonstrated that the reason why the US figure looks bad is superior technology.

    Not true. Australian public hospitals deliver newborns who are ‘extremely premature’ (like, before 25 weeks) so you’d expect Australia to have a similar mortality rate if it was simply a technology issue.
    Secondly, the under-fives mortality rate ought to improve for the US if it were a case of a bias in measuring infant deaths, but this also doesn’t happen.

    THR

    January 13, 2010 at 11:11 am

  206. jc

    Your personal experiences with the US health system agree with mine. I observed (and my cursory look at the data confirms) two major differences to both the Australian and European systems.

    1. There is a massive bias towards specialist doctor’s fees in the US. These people are very rich. Now, no one suggests that French, English, German, Spanish anesthetists, pediatricians, cardiologists are not well off, but nothing like their US peers.

    2. The US system has massive bureacracies and attendant inefficiencies. There are so many different insurance, primary care provision, and pharmaceitical distribution channels each with its own bureacracy. For example few people realize that the US government/s spend a larger share of GDP on healthcare (about 8%) than Australia (about 6%)! On top of this government spend, Americans then spend another 8% on private healthcare. In Australia the figure is about 2%.

    While much of non-American world sneers at the number of Americans without insurance, they do not realize that there is a bewildering array of ways to access healthcare. For example, all pharmaceutical companies have a ton of programs/schemes that provide medications directly to the public. But of course this means systems and bureaucracies are built to administer this charity, and a person in need must navigate the paths to access. Then there is the added complication of restrictions placed on any particular scheme. Sometimes it will be restricted to those below a certain income threshold, other times an industry/occupational group, other a particular demographic (age, ethnicity, gender, etc)

    Regardless of these tragets, more often than not this will require them to enter the social services (whether state, federal, private, charitable) system and bureaucracy. Then on top of all this, the federal government has its own unique system and processes, as do each of the 50 (or so) states

    I really have no idea how the Americans could improve their healthcare industries’ cost structures. With 300 million people, an incredibly inert federalism simply unknown in Australia or Europe, plus path-dependent inertia really does make any successful Washington-mandated change highly improbable.

    Peter Patton

    January 13, 2010 at 2:02 pm

  207. THR

    I agree that western governments lie. I guess the major difference is that – by definition – western liberal democracy makes it incredibly difficult for any government to lie, mislead, or cover up for very long. There are far too many fissures in our government structures, institutions, and processes for information to be safely sequestered by a small group of political leaders.

    Citizens of western liberal democracies expect their leaders to lie from time to time. We have to, otherwise we have to think politicians are inhumanly virtuous.

    What makes liberal democratic politics so interesting is that each citizen will have his/her own threshold of tolerance for such lies and misleads. The risky challenge for the politician is to accurately gauge just what that threshold is at any point in time.

    Peter Patton

    January 13, 2010 at 2:12 pm

  208. “western liberal democracy makes it incredibly difficult for any government to lie, mislead, or cover up for very long”

    PP, I think you are correct. Which makes it amazing that they try to do it so often.

    Ken Nielsen

    January 13, 2010 at 2:17 pm

  209. Peter:

    From what I understand the bulk of the private insurance carriers are not allowed to sell policies across state lines unless they meet the unique prescribed mandates of that state, which actually carry material differences.

    The entire thing is one huge complicated mess entirely fraught with moral hazard all the way through as the immediate user doesn’t even know in most cases how much their insurance is costing.

    Forgetting the political and ideological issues in the current debate over there, the one glaring weakness in the reform package as I see it is that it does nothing to address this. Health care shouldn’t be job dependent.

    Lastly your point about it’s complexity it spot on. In fact its bewilderingly complex to the point where people who haven’t experienced it have really no idea.

    jc

    January 13, 2010 at 2:23 pm

  210. THR

    Actually the bank bailouts were not “welfare” they were loans, and very profitable for the citizenry. For example, in the US, Goldman Sachs has already repaid every penny, plus 30% interest.

    Peter Patton

    January 13, 2010 at 2:28 pm

  211. Rococo Liberal

    January 13, 2010 at 3:47 pm

  212. I do love the smell of frying THR’s in the afternoon!

    Rococo Liberal

    January 13, 2010 at 3:49 pm

  213. Does anyone know how much the RBA has earned from the bank guarantees? I realize it was not money for jam as there was a very large potential liability for a while.

    Ken Nielsen

    January 13, 2010 at 3:53 pm

  214. Ken

    Not that I’m defending politicians lying, but we must remember they have to operate within a free media, where individual journo ambition is rife (which I am not criticisng by the way).

    A journo will seize any opportunity for sensationalism, a “scoop”, “gotcha” moments and so on to advance his/her own career. In that environment, I would definitely develop cunning rhetorical moves to avoid being the scalp of some young gun on the make. No doubt I would equally cultivate the same young buck to tip off dirt on my political opponents. As a wise man once said, democracy is far from perfect but it’s better than anything else ever tried. 😉

    Peter Patton

    January 13, 2010 at 4:42 pm

  215. only one problem RL it isn’t to be found on the WMO website

    Butterfield, Bloomfield & Bishop

    January 13, 2010 at 4:53 pm

  216. I do love the smell of frying THR’s in the afternoon!

    You’re a bit confused, RL. First, the US scores quite poorly on the charts, irrespective of Cuba’s position. Secondly, public hospitals in Australia, for example, also try to deliver prem babies at the same stage as the ones mentioned in your piece, so how come Australia’s stats aren’t as poor as those in the US? Finally (and I’ve made this point repeatedly and it’s been repeatedly ignored), the official stats for both the UN and CIA have infant mortality and under-fives mortality. The US scores just as badly on both, clearly demonstrating that its figures are not skewed by American doctors attempting ambitious deliveries. The trend of mediocrity continues over a period of years.

    Again, when you take the significant inequality of the US into account, and assume that the wealthy probably have comparatively few problems at birth, it adds up to millions living in second-world conditions.

    THR

    January 13, 2010 at 5:04 pm

  217. Also, low birth weight is itself correlated with a range of health problems. If people in the US are having an extraordinarily large number of prem/underweight babies, you can hardly claim this as a techonological victory of some sort.

    THR

    January 13, 2010 at 5:05 pm

  218. You’re gorging at the margins, THR.

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 13, 2010 at 11:27 pm

  219. Not really. A few people here have shown that they’re quite willing to throw sober analysis out the window when it comes to defending US policies, in spite of said policies coming up short on every empirical measure.

    On a related topic, here’s an interesting podcast looking at public health, ‘well-being’, income, growth and inequality:

    http://www.againstthegrain.org/program/265/id/010405/wed-1-06-10-well-being-and-inequality

    THR

    January 13, 2010 at 11:32 pm

  220. Again, when you take the significant inequality of the US into account, and assume that the wealthy probably have comparatively few problems at birth, it adds up to millions living in second-world conditions.

    THR:

    You keep bringing up the issue of inequality as though it’s a given that it translates to worse outcomes on the medical side. How exactly. Are you suggesting that the poor receive less attention when giving birth in a hospital… that they don’t even attend a hospital?

    jc

    January 13, 2010 at 11:37 pm

  221. If people in the US are having an extraordinarily large number of prem/underweight babies, you can hardly claim this as a techonological victory of some sort.
    .
    In other countries, those premmy babies would be classified as a “miscarriage” and would not even factor into the birth/death statistics.
    That’s the central point.
    The data is skewed because the US heroically tries to save fetuses that other countries would discard.

    daddy dave

    January 13, 2010 at 11:41 pm

  222. If people in the US are having an extraordinarily large number of prem/underweight babies, you can hardly claim this as a techonological victory of some sort.

    The figures aren’t suggesting that at all. They don’t present startling skwes about underweight babies. These numbers, it seems, may be skewed because of medial over reach to save premature babies which may not be done in other places.

    I don’t think anyone can make any claim on the comparisons until we know with absolute certainty that we’re actually comparing apples with with apples.

    These inconsistencies prove time and time again that it may be better not to discuss these issues with any degree of certainty as we don’t don’t if the stats have been normalized for comparative puproses.

    jc

    January 13, 2010 at 11:44 pm

  223. You keep bringing up the issue of inequality as though it’s a given that it translates to worse outcomes on the medical side. How exactly.

    It’s not worse for everybody equally. It matters when we look at figures (like infant mortality, life expectancy, etc) in a place like the US. We can reasonably expect (but not know for sure) that these figures will be much better for the wealthy in the US, and, conversely, much worse for the poor. So ‘socialist’ states like MA, Vermont and Connecticut probably have figures resembling those of Sweden. And, if the average figures place the US around 30-40 on the list, then places like Louisiana are probably producing similar figures to Vietnam.

    In other countries, those premmy babies would be classified as a “miscarriage” and would not even factor into the birth/death statistics.

    Nobody’s actually produced a shred of evidence for this assertion. Countries like Australia attempt to save babies at exactly the same point as US medicos. This is in public hospitals, not just one or two private settings. Why isn’t Australia producing similar figures to the US?

    The figures aren’t suggesting that at all. They don’t present startling skwes about underweight

    The claim about underweight/prem babies being save in the US isn’t mine. It’s made above by the others. Prem babies are actually on the increase everywhere, not just the US. The appalling track record of the US in this regard, demonstrated by two separate measures by two separate agencies has not been refuted by anything that has been said above. In fact, the problem of infant mortality is recognised by US medical professionals, as a quick bit of googling demonstrates.

    Some of the attempted gallantry on display here on behalf of Uncle Sam has simply been idiotic. Some are trying to claim that every Southern shithole in the backwoods of Mississippi has better quality of life, income and culture than France and the rest of Western Europe. They don’t. Most of the US doesn’t. Take out the blue states, the US would practically be a second-world country.

    THR

    January 14, 2010 at 12:00 am

  224. Here you go. Prem births are not necessarily a sign of heroic techonology on display, as you can see on this map showing prem births by state:

    http://marchofdimes.com/prematurity/index_map.asp

    It’s basically bad in most of the country, but particularly in the mid-west and the south. Are we to assume that these are the states with the best technology, the ones doing the most baby-saving? Incidentally, the premature birth rates for Mississipi are about the same as those for Puerto Rico. Must be the El Presidente of Puerto Rico paid off the survey guys.

    THR

    January 14, 2010 at 12:04 am

  225. THR and yet I would rather give birth in some “southern shithole”
    than anywhere in western Europe.I’m going by krugmans scale “the eyes have it”

    tal

    January 14, 2010 at 12:07 am

  226. Take out the blue states, the US would practically be a second-world country.

    Like California?

    Michael Sutcliffe

    January 14, 2010 at 12:08 am

  227. Hey THR, should the rest of America have to bail out California?

    Michael Sutcliffe

    January 14, 2010 at 12:09 am

  228. Prem babies are actually on the increase everywhere, not just the US.

    Interesting because the immune system plays a major role in miscarriage and there is evidence that an enhanced inflammatory response plays a role in preterm births. This, worryingly, correlates with the equally puzzling rise in a raft of immunological disorders. Asthma, allergies, autoimmune diseases, all on the rise and markedly so. Taking these across the spectrum results points to environmental agents as the principal causative factor. Houston, we have a problem, in our backyard.

    John H.

    January 14, 2010 at 12:10 am

  229. Who are the people behind that website, THR and where did they gets these facts.

    What’s their source. Sorry I’m asking this but med there is a real hot button issue and I would suspect there is a propensity to distort a lot.

    jc

    January 14, 2010 at 12:11 am

  230. Tal, if its the South vs Western Europe, the data says that Western Europe wins on every conceivable measure. It’s nothing against the South personally. But it’s not an industrial powerhouse, by and large (despite the relatively liberal economies down there) and it underperforms compared to the rest of the nation.

    Sutcliffe, since when was Arnie a leftie?

    THR

    January 14, 2010 at 12:11 am

  231. John could this be one the causes of so many kids being anaphylatacic?

    tal

    January 14, 2010 at 12:14 am

  232. I find it more than a little amusing that Texas and Florida are in the fail category, yet these two states have pretty decent medical facilities.

    Doctors in the US are a decent quality across the political spectrum as the med schools are all pretty decent.

    You don’t get to med school by not having a decent SAT and pass another graduate aptitude test.

    jc

    January 14, 2010 at 12:15 am

  233. Jc, their an outfit calling themselves ‘March of Dimes’ and, at first glance, at least, they appear legit:

    http://www.marchofdimes.com/aboutus.asp

    Hey THR, should the rest of America have to bail out California?

    It depends on what system of federalism you want. There are cases for and against. You’d probably want to bail them out unless you were planning to excise them from the country.

    Taking these across the spectrum results points to environmental agents as the principal causative factor

    There’s also a correlation between income and prem delivery. Unsurprisingly, Africa performs the worst among continents.

    THR

    January 14, 2010 at 12:15 am

  234. Here’s the census rankings for prem-births:

    http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2010/ranks/rank17.html

    Infidel Tiger

    January 14, 2010 at 12:16 am

  235. 1. Arnie is the most left of the Republicans I can think of.

    2. Arnie hasn’t been able to achieve his goals and he’s made it clear what he thinks of Californian politics.

    Now, should the rest of America have to bail out California?

    Michael Sutcliffe

    January 14, 2010 at 12:16 am

  236. I find it more than a little amusing that Texas and Florida are in the fail category, yet these two states have pretty decent medical facilities.

    If you click on the map, it gives a bit more of a breakdown (though not a very detailed one).

    Access to health care providers is pretty poor in some of these states that got a ‘fail’. Access to services might be the problem, rather than the quality of doctors in the services.

    THR

    January 14, 2010 at 12:19 am

  237. Sutcliffe, a ‘left’ republican is still to the right of most of Australia’s Coalition. And I answered the bail out question above.

    THR

    January 14, 2010 at 12:20 am

  238. John could this be one the causes of so many kids being anaphylatacic?

    Hey Tal,

    I wasn’t even aware of that increase but it directly relates to allergy issues. In anaphylactic shock it is the immune response that kills. The immune system is all too often our worst enemy!

    John H.

    January 14, 2010 at 12:22 am

  239. Tiger’s rankings show that DC has the highest mortality rate, which is an interesting stat in itself as it’s slap bang in the nations capital that has a very large black population. Louisiana the second highest. It seems that states with high black populations seem to have highish mortality rates.

    jc

    January 14, 2010 at 12:22 am

  240. Sutcliffe, a ‘left’ republican is still to the right of most of Australia’s Coalition.

    That not really true. North eastern Republicans would/could more resemble Labor Right. Keating would have fallen right in as a North Eastern Republican.

    Olympia Snowe for example would be very comfortable in the ALP centre.

    jc

    January 14, 2010 at 12:25 am

  241. Arnie was not able to wrest sufficient control of the California state legislature to have sufficient effect to make a difference. Hence the letter linked above. To suggest Arnie’s economic views are representative in California is to be somewhere below naive. On social issues he is a very left-wing Republican.

    Michael Sutcliffe

    January 14, 2010 at 12:26 am

  242. The Southern States have high preterm birth rates because of all that bloody fried chicken. Take this with a grain of salt but a recent publication, and there are many that point in the same direction, indicate that diets high in saturated and trans fat stimulate an inflammatory response, the latest finding even asserting a specific stimulation of a key inflammatory mediating receptor. This, together with all the high fructose(the worst sugar of all) corn syrup and the high omega 6 intake, sets the stage for a number of immunologically mediated pathologies. While I don’t buy into the low fat diet idea I accept that the balance of fatty acid intake is a key modulator of immune responses.

    John H.

    January 14, 2010 at 12:28 am

  243. Again from Tiger’s link:

    Utah, a predominantly white state has a 4.5 mortality rating, which is the lowest and those Mormons in that state have a lot of kids.

    jc

    January 14, 2010 at 12:29 am

  244. All this argy-bargy over splitting aggregate infant mortality rate hairs is pretty pointless. What really matters is how you think your own infant child will do. I have complete confidence that my infant children would have every chances of surviving whether they are born in England, the US, Spain, Tapei, Australia, Tokyo, Norway, Hong Kong, or Holland.

    But that is because I am not a crack ho, a council estate junkie, a gangsta, or a toothless peasant.

    Peter Patton

    January 14, 2010 at 12:29 am

  245. Peter:

    To be perfectly honest, after having lived there for around 15 years I still couldn’t work that country out. It’s so huge, diverse and immensely complex and yet so inefficient in lots of ways.

    In certain things they are hugely inefficient and then in other ways they just seem streets ahead.

    jc

    January 14, 2010 at 12:33 am

  246. But that is because I am not a crack ho, a council estate junkie, a gangsta, or a toothless peasant.

    And because of this, realistically, your child probably has a better chance of surviving in the USA than anywhere else, and getting any additional support it might need, and if these things aren’t a problem then having the most opportunity for the rest of his/her life.

    Michael Sutcliffe

    January 14, 2010 at 12:34 am

  247. John H. Here’s an article on how government once again fucked up and led us down the fructose route. Pepsi is fighting back:

    http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2010/01/12/pepsi-throwback-and-the-sugar-racket/

    Infidel Tiger

    January 14, 2010 at 12:38 am

  248. Utah, a predominantly white state has a 4.5 mortality rating, which is the lowest and those Mormons in that state have a lot of kids.

    My link is more up-to-date than Tiger’s.

    We could also look at some more correlations. Now, some ‘liberals’ above were praising the tipping system, which leads to the minimum wage being a ‘job creating’ five bucks an hour in places like Georgia. Quelle surprise, it turns out GA has a terrible rate of prem births, which is itself probably correlated with bad outcomes all round for education and more general health indicators. This is the clear failure of an economic ideology.

    THR

    January 14, 2010 at 12:39 am

  249. IT,

    They may have also fucked up with GM foods, there are now a number of studies showing how some of these foods generate dangerous changes in cells. The gut epithelium, kidneys, and liver, seem to be particularly susceptible.

    John H.

    January 14, 2010 at 12:40 am

  250. And because of this, realistically, your child probably has a better chance of surviving in the USA than anywhere else

    Despite the overwhelming data on mortality, murder, incarceration etc., all documented above, that demonstrates otherwise. Call it faith or fetish, but this certainly isn’t reason.

    THR

    January 14, 2010 at 12:41 am

  251. I really think the huge elephant in the kitchen is that the place has a huge problem dealing with a large black underclass that really don’t have the same values most of us expect and they also have a growing white underclass as well.

    Still being involved in risky behavior such as doing drugs while pregnant begins to add up in a large population count. These sort of things skews the figures.

    Middle class white women would do lots of things to protect themselves and their babies during pregnancy. I’m not sure the same sort of value system is maintained in all parts of the black underclass. Now not all blacks behave that way, but there are enough to tip the balance.

    If our Aboriginal population was 13% of the population (such as African-Americans) instead of around 1.5% our stats would appear horrendous in the world health leagues too. I’m not suggesting that Aboriginals and African Americans are even broadly similar as they’re not obviously however both populations have have issues that affect health and longevity.

    jc

    January 14, 2010 at 12:42 am

  252. Despite the overwhelming data on mortality, murder, incarceration etc., all documented above, that demonstrates otherwise. Call it faith or fetish, but this certainly isn’t reason.

    Whatever. With regards to murder, the places I’ll be living are safer than Australia. With regards to incarceration, I’ll be telling my kids that you don’t touch drugs in the States. If you must experiment, do it when we’re back visiting Australia. (Much the same as I’d tell them don’t touch drugs when we’re visiting China or Indonesia).

    Michael Sutcliffe

    January 14, 2010 at 12:43 am

  253. The tipping system is disgusting and uncivilized. It amounts to a property owner renting out his/her restaurant tables for the night to waiters and busboys to strut their stuff and hustle whatever they can from the johns – you and I who have come to dine.

    Peter Patton

    January 14, 2010 at 12:46 am

  254. You don’t have to tip them.

    Michael Sutcliffe

    January 14, 2010 at 12:47 am

  255. This is the clear failure of an economic ideology.

    Is it, or is it a more a clear case of IQ issues? Hong Kong is a gang buster place in terms of economic liberalism/perfrmance has an average IQ of around 108 and is one of the wealthier parts of our region that was a backwater in 1960.

    Switzerland is also an “open port” with liberal economics where the average IQ is about 105.

    Korea, also very open economically, was involved in a devastating war in the 50’s and is now a fairly wealthy place with a very high average IQ.

    jc

    January 14, 2010 at 12:48 am

  256. I really think the huge elephant in the kitchen is that the place has a huge problem dealing with a large black underclass that really don’t have the same values most of us expect and they also have a growing white underclass as well.

    It’s true that black American usually do worse on these measures than whites. However, there’s research suggesting that blacks are at higher risk of infant mortality in US states where income inequality is an issue:

    http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p_mla_apa_research_citation/0/2/3/3/4/p23349_index.html

    There’s a number of papers around in a similar vein, basically pointing to a clear correlation to relative inequality and infant mortality (inter alia). The explanation in these papers isn’t particularly clear, but what is clear is that the inequality itself appears to be a factor.

    Whatever. With regards to murder, the places I’ll be living are safer than Australia.

    Fine. What you’re basically saying is that you’d take your kids to the good parts of the US, but you acknowledge, at least tacitly, that there are some not-so-good parts. How many states fall into the latter category?

    THR

    January 14, 2010 at 12:48 am

  257. I would have pointed out Hong Kong too, JC. To be honest I don’t know what’s going on with infant mortality, but I suspect it’s very much related to your comments above. If I may be so forthright, it’s possible that some groups and subsections of society value their babies more than others.

    Michael Sutcliffe

    January 14, 2010 at 12:51 am

  258. THR keep talking like that and DOC’S will take your child away 🙂

    tal

    January 14, 2010 at 12:51 am

  259. The average IQ in African-American population is around 85 which is some 15 points below the White IQ and lower still to the Asian-American IQ.

    You could make the case that the best place for lower IQ populations is to live in countries where there is a higher average IQ in order to obtain first world services.

    jc

    January 14, 2010 at 12:52 am

  260. I like the tipping system in food establishments. It ensures good service. Can’t stand it in airports, hotels, taxis etc. Add it’s hell of lot better than the ridiculous service taxes and plus plus you find throughout Asia and Europe. At least the tip goes to the person who served you and not the government’s coffers.

    Infidel Tiger

    January 14, 2010 at 12:53 am

  261. Fine. What you’re basically saying is that you’d take your kids to the good parts of the US, but you acknowledge, at least tacitly, that there are some not-so-good parts. How many states fall into the latter category?

    Maybe not so good, but no worse than how I grew up in Australia. I have no idea in terms of actual numbers, but I can tell you the places I’d choose to live and work. In actual fact I wouldn’t have any qualms in living just about anywhere in the USA, but you’re right in assuming I wouldn’t go out at night so much in some parts, and I’d be more protective of my kids. But that’s no different to here.

    Michael Sutcliffe

    January 14, 2010 at 12:54 am

  262. IQ can be a misleading measure, as it doesn’t gauge street smarts. They try to tap into practical knowledge (for instance, arithmetic questions in the WISC are framed in terms of concrete, ‘real-life’ examples) but I’m not sure how much they really succeed. The main thing that IQ tests predict is academic achievement. And there are plenty of people who would be counted as borderline intellectually disabled according to an IQ test who function more or less okay (though not necessarily as rocket scientists).

    THR

    January 14, 2010 at 12:56 am

  263. “Fine. What you’re basically saying is that you’d take your kids to the good parts of the US, but you acknowledge, at least tacitly, that there are some not-so-good parts. How many states fall into the latter category?”

    Just as a sensible person wouldn’t relocate to a Marseille housing estate, a sensible person wouldn’t move to Detroit.

    Infidel Tiger

    January 14, 2010 at 12:56 am

  264. There’s plenty of people in academia who don’t function OK!

    Michael Sutcliffe

    January 14, 2010 at 12:57 am

  265. “And there are plenty of people who would be counted as borderline intellectually disabled according to an IQ test who function more or less okay (though not necessarily as rocket scientists).”

    Thanks for noticing!

    Infidel Tiger

    January 14, 2010 at 12:58 am

  266. “To be perfectly honest, after having lived there for around 15 years I still couldn’t work that country out. It’s so huge, diverse and immensely complex and yet so inefficient in lots of ways”

    JC, it’s nice to know it hasn’t changed since Alex de Tocqueville. I reckon that’s half the charm of the US.

    Infidel Tiger

    January 14, 2010 at 1:01 am

  267. However, there’s research suggesting that blacks are at higher risk of infant mortality in US states where income inequality is an issue:

    I’m still uncertain how we can look at it that way. NYC has a huge income disparity primarily because of Wall Street and other high level services provided from there. Yet the median income for NY state is around $48,000 and NY state not being NYC would mean that the income level in NYC would be higher. So A lower income earner in NYC would be a pretty high income earner in say Mississippi. How does that sort of thing translate into higher mortality, I don’t know.

    the point is that income inequality distribution is pretty high in NYC and yet the child mortality rate for NYC would be pretty low.

    jc

    January 14, 2010 at 1:02 am

  268. Is it, or is it a more a clear case of IQ issues?

    That bloody book The Bell Curve. Long ago I was on Anthro L, a leftist anthropology forum, where, as I like to do here, I jumped in with contrary views and argued for innate differences across races and ethnic groups. Shit did I cop it. Then, to my delight, some Prof mentioned a 1995 Brain Res study of Australian aborigines. This study was conducted because aborigines are known to have exceptional eyesight. What they found was that in aborigines the primary visual cortex was huge relative to whites, twice the size, and this effect was more pronounced in those aborigines with reduced cerebral volume. The Prof argued, and I agree, that this could not be put down to environmental effects, it must have a genetic origin. He then went on to add, and to this day I do not know why people find this so objectionable, that if we are prepared to accept that there are differences “below the neck” we have no right to just dismiss the possibility of “above the neck” changes.

    Research over recent years has highlighted a number of key differences across races that impact on their health care. For example, there is now a specific drug for high blood pressure that is for African Americans. Another striking example is that some Asians have an allele(gene variant) that means their bodies degrade psychoactive drugs much more slowly and so the administration of antipsychotic drugs must be carefully monitored in this group. It also explains why some Asians get drunk very quickly. Yet nearly all drugs prescribed do not account for these differences.

    The problem for African Americans relates not just to their lifestyle but that drugs are designed for the greater mass of whites. Additionally there are a number of studies showing that African Americans do not receive the same amount of care even when they do get to a clinic.

    John H.

    January 14, 2010 at 1:04 am

  269. JC, it’s nice to know it hasn’t changed since Alex de Tocqueville. I reckon that’s half the charm of the US.

    The left crap on about diversity. The US is what diversity really looks like and the truth is the left can’t handle it. Their diversity only exists in their retarded left-wing fantasy world.

    Michael Sutcliffe

    January 14, 2010 at 1:04 am

  270. This study was conducted because aborigines are known to have exceptional eyesight.

    There is a story of Fred Hollows administering ophthalmological help to an indigenous group in WA. He had an old aboriginal fellow with him and he was using his eyesight machine to check his vision. The fellow wasn’t responding to what Fred was used to, so he corrected his vision to what he thought was the equivalent of 20/20 (I’m not very knowledgeable in how this is scored). He thought the fellow should be elated at seeing so well again and through an interpreter/assistant he asked what he thought. The reply came that ‘he didn’t think this was very good sight at all’.

    For some of the tribes out their over the last 40,0000 to 70,000 years, being able to locate a waterhole on the horizon had a very large impact on your survival and ability to produce offspring!

    Michael Sutcliffe

    January 14, 2010 at 1:11 am

  271. An article on the flawed approach to pharmaceuticals for different races:

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=race-in-a-bottle

    Infidel Tiger

    January 14, 2010 at 1:12 am

  272. Once upon a time the Aborigines would have provided a great controlled crucible for testing many different hypotheses about heritabilty such as IQ. 40/20/60/whatever thousand years of geographic isolation from the rest of humanity must have resulted in many genetic and phenotypic differences

    However that time has long past as there would be none (or at most only a handful) of Australians who are full-blood Aborigine. Just about all those with Aboriginal ancestors are inbred mutts like the rest of us.

    Peter Patton

    January 14, 2010 at 1:13 am

  273. IQ can be a misleading measure, as it doesn’t gauge street smarts.

    Street smarts is common sense and that’s basically logic, so I’m not certain if I agree with you entirely although granted there are a lot of academics who i would consider to be total nimrods and would most probably score high in an IQ test.

    However IQ and income are pretty highly correlated. Face facts a numb nut is not going to ever be the CEO of Macquarie bank or Goldman Sachs. That won;’t happen. They also won’t end up being Chief justice.

    And there are plenty of people who would be counted as borderline intellectually disabled according to an IQ test who function more or less okay (though not necessarily as rocket scientists).

    Yea they can function pretty much okay but it’s not necessarily at a terrific level. You’re not going to turn a borderline case into a high income lawyer or engineer.

    The point I’m making is that if the rest of the frst world economy side of the US is producing enough to share some of the spoils in order to provide a decent life outcome for a lot of people with low IQ’s we shouldn’t be sniffing at the outcome.

    Face facts, THR., the average IQ in the aboriginal community is around 70ish. It’s almost impossible for a person with that level of IQ to function in a modern economy. Say out aboriginal population wasn’t 1.5% but up there at 13% (which i mentioned earlier). How do you think we would be looking now?

    As I said perhaps the outcomes we’re getting are pretty optimal.

    jc

    January 14, 2010 at 1:14 am

  274. For some of the tribes out their over the last 40,0000 to 70,000 years, being able to locate a waterhole on the horizon had a very large impact on your survival and ability to produce offspring!

    I will accept that as an explanation when similiar findings are made with other hunter gatherer groups. Anthropologists may revel in one off explanations but therein lies great danger.

    John H.

    January 14, 2010 at 1:14 am

  275. I will accept that as an explanation when similiar findings are made with other hunter gatherer groups. Anthropologists may revel in one off explanations but therein lies great danger.

    Well, whatever your explanation, they’ve got fucken good eyesight.

    Michael Sutcliffe

    January 14, 2010 at 1:20 am

  276. Steve Sailer weighs into the Krugman controversy. Plenty to sink your teeth into:

    I don’t have a strong opinion on this Europe vs. U.S. income question: I’ve seen London and I’ve seen France, and the parts I saw looked spiffy, but for some reason I skipped sightseeing in the parts where the youths hold car-be-ques, so I can’t say I’ve seen a representative sample of Europe. I’m sure Dr. Krugman typically stays in banlieues when he’s in Europe, but I try not to.

    LOL!

    Here’s more:

    Super-Economy argues that Europeans make more money in America than in Europe.

    For example, the per capita GDP of Sweden is $36,603. But the Census says the per-capita income of Swedish-Americans is such that you can estimate a per capita GDP for Swedish-Americans of $56,865, a 55% advantage for Swedes in America over Swedes in Sweden. You should adjust Sweden’s figure for the non-Swedish population, but that’s still a big gap.

    Overall, Supereconomy finds a 56% GDP advantage for Americans who identify themselves as being from the original 15 countries of the European Union over those EU-15 countries.

    http://isteve.blogspot.com/2010/01/gdp-per-capita-for-american-ethnicities.html

    So European-Americans make way more money than Europeans, and of course African-Americans are probably an order of magnitude better off than Africans.

    Michael Fisk

    January 14, 2010 at 1:47 am

  277. Well, whatever your explanation, they’ve got fucken good eyesight.

    Actually I did a quick data check. Hunter gatherer groups, even those living in jungles, have good visual acuity. I also found this:

    http://www.bmj.com/cgi/eletters/324/7347/1195

    Studies(1)carried out in hunter-gatherer societies and in recently westernized hunter-gatherer groups indicate that the prevalence of myopia normally occurs only in 0-2% of the population, and most refractive errors are less than minor. Moderate to high myopia is either non-existent or occurs in about one person out of a thousand.

    When these hunter-gatherer societies change their lifestyles and introduce grains and carbohydrates, they rapidly develop (within a single generation) myopia rates that equal or exceed those in western societies.

    —-

    They speculate that this is because a high carb or sugar diet increases IGF1, the key growth factor and so changes the shape of the eye.

    John H.

    January 14, 2010 at 1:51 am

  278. Thanks Fisk, Supereconomy is a great site, or will become one.

    It refers to Paul Krugman as “a habitual cheater” and then carefully explains why.

    http://super-economy.blogspot.com/2010/01/dynamic-america-poor-europe.html

    It’s an excellent first post.

    jc

    January 14, 2010 at 2:05 am

  279. that’s fascinating JH. Asians have higher rates of myopia than whites and Jews have higher rates of myopia than gentile whites.

    jtfsoon

    January 14, 2010 at 7:54 am

  280. jtfsoon

    That is, whites have comparatively low rates of myopia. While Jared Diamond clued us in to the effects of biogeographical differences on diet among different cultures around the globe, I can’t think what would cause differences between Caucasian whites and Jews. Aren’t Jews Caucasian whites? Does that data distinguish between Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews? That might provide a clue.

    Peter Patton

    January 14, 2010 at 9:03 am

  281. yes Peter I think the research I’ve seen quoted is primarily about Ashkenazi Jews.

    jtfsoon

    January 14, 2010 at 9:08 am

  282. one example of the sort of study that tends to be quoted:

    http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2350/5/20

    Myopia is one of the leading causes of vision loss around the world[1]. In the United States, myopia affects approximately 25% of adult Americans[2]. Ethnic diversity appears to distinguish different groups with regard to prevalence. Caucasians have a higher prevalence than African Americans[3]. Asian populations have the highest prevalence rates with reports ranging from 50–90%[1,4,5]. Jewish Caucasians, one of the target populations of the present study, have consistently demonstrated a higher myopia prevalence than the general Caucasian population in both U.S. and European population surveys; Orthodox Jewish males in particular show increased susceptibility[6,7].

    jtfsoon

    January 14, 2010 at 9:11 am

  283. I wonder if the recent genetic mutation to blue eyes has any relevance.

    Peter Patton

    January 14, 2010 at 9:16 am

  284. THR…. you’re spouting misinformatin all over the place.
    .
    On the data skewing due to premmy births, you said:
    Nobody’s actually produced a shred of evidence for this assertion.
    .
    yet there were links provided by two separate people to back up this claim.
    .
    Some are trying to claim that every Southern shithole in the backwoods of Mississippi has better quality of life, income and culture than France and the rest of Western Europe. They don’t. Most of the US doesn’t.
    .
    You are wrong, wrong, wrong.
    First, the data that we’ve been discussing – presented in the original post – shows that you’re wrong. Second, look at the map Sinclair posted in the next post. That also shows that you’re wrong.
    I mentioned this before, that you’re arguing confidently based on uninformed notions about what flyover states are like. You’re not alone; many Californians have the same uninformed notions as you. But look at the numbers: they tell you what the truth is; and as I and others have said, the numbers conform to what you see if you actually go out there to these places. Middle America is an economic powerhouse.
    .
    Now, some ‘liberals’ above were praising the tipping system, which leads to the minimum wage being a ‘job creating’ five bucks an hour in places like Georgia.
    .
    nobody’s “praising” the tipping system. However it’s not as evil as you think it is. I know several people who have worked in restaurants and bars, and they’re not homeless crack hos. Okay, one of those people is a bit of a substance abuser, but that’s another story.

    daddy dave

    January 14, 2010 at 9:52 am

  285. “Second, look at the map Sinclair posted in the next post. That also shows that you’re wrong.”

    Sinclairs map was GDP not GDP per capita. Not a good measure of wealth. I hope the average texan is wealthier than Brazil.

    I’m sure the French would prefer to do the comparison on a nominal rather than PPP basis when they are only slightly behind the US. I’m not arguing that this is a better comparison for standard of living but it is not irrelevant.

    As to the comparison with the US states, taking the Wikipedia entry we have france with a gdp per capita on a PPP basis as 34,205.
    38 states have a higher gdp per capita.
    The following are lower.

    39 Indiana 34,103
    40 Georgia 33,975
    41 Alabama 33,643
    42 Arizona 32,953
    43 Idaho 32,133
    44 New Mexico 32,091
    45 South Carolina 31,884
    46 Kentucky 31,826
    47 Arkansas 31,266
    48 West Virginia 30,831
    49 Utah 30,291
    50 Mississippi 29,569

    Steve Edney

    January 14, 2010 at 10:21 am

  286. The argument about Ashkenazi Jews and Europeans (as I recall) relates to marriage practices in the middle ages. Smart boys became Rabbis (if Jewish) or Priests (if Christian). Rabbis would have many, many children while priests would have none. So its a natural selection argument. Similar to Gregory Clark’s argument about bourgeios values. People with these values had many children and were downwardly mobile.

    Sinclair Davidson

    January 14, 2010 at 10:26 am

  287. Some per capita data here.

    Sinclair Davidson

    January 14, 2010 at 10:29 am

  288. from Sinclair’s link:

    3. If France became a U.S. state it would rank #48 out of 51 by per capita GDP, just barely ahead of America’s two poorest states – West Virginia and Mississippi.

    daddy dave

    January 14, 2010 at 10:38 am

  289. 3. If France became a U.S. state it would rank #48 out of 51 by per capita GDP, just barely ahead of America’s two poorest states – West Virginia and Mississippi.

    And yet there are a large number of measures that would place France ahead of the wealthiest states in the US.

    And again, the relative inequality in the US means that GDP per capita isn’t the only measure of interest, as this can be relatively high whilst many are mired in poverty.

    So, Dave, it’s up to you to show that Mississippi and Alabama are ‘economic powerhouses’ as you claim. I can’t think of much evidence in support of that. Not when at least a quarter of the population in each state is living like a Bulgarian (at best). And as for tipping – there was a defence/apologia for it above.

    THR

    January 14, 2010 at 11:11 am

  290. So, Dave, it’s up to you to show that Mississippi and Alabama are ‘economic powerhouses’ as you claim. I can’t think of much evidence in support of that.
    .
    The numbers quoted here. So, actually it’s up to you to explain why the numbers lie.
    The infant mortality was your first line of attack but that’s fizzled. What else… simply the fact of the archetypal “Southern shithole in the backwoods of Mississippi”? Surely France, with its culture and fast trains, is better than a Southern shithole in the backwoods, right? You’re shaking your head and saying “this can’t be right”.
    .
    But I’m really curious what such places are like. Could you describe one for me?

    daddy dave

    January 14, 2010 at 11:27 am

  291. ahh the infant mortality tale that the website said was highlighted with the WMO data but isn’t.

    Butterfield, Bloomfield & Bishop

    January 14, 2010 at 11:35 am

  292. ‘And yet there are a large number of measures that would place France ahead of the wealthiest states in the US.’

    Snootiness. Dog shit. Wine. Cheese.

    That about covers it.

    Infidel Tiger

    January 14, 2010 at 11:36 am

  293. The numbers in Sinclairs link are dodgy.

    If you go back to the site and actually check them against their claimed source they are comparing 2007 US figures with 2006 EU figures (at least for the ones I checked). If you do the same year comparison the numbers come back to around what I quoted, about France is around 40th on the rank of US states.

    Steve Edney

    January 14, 2010 at 11:38 am

  294. Dave, you’re simply being disingenuous now. I’ve repeatedly explained the infant mortality stats. Your claims that they’re high due to ambitious interventions in the US is bullshit, since identical interventions are conducted in Australia, for instance. You also have to account for why the US has higher rates of child mortality more generally, and why the Southern states in particular have such huge rates of premature birth (well above Australia, Japan, and most of Europe).

    This is just one measure on which the US system appears to fail, in spite of its great wealth, which I haven’t disputed here. I’ve also supplied stats on the murder rate (which is equivalent, on average, to Bulgaria). We know the US performs poorly on life expectancy, and access to health care services, and we also know that the US imprisons more of its citizens per capita than any other place on earth. Insofar as we can get -state-by-state breakdowns on this stuff, its almost always the case that the ‘flyover’ states perform much worse than the NE, for instance, which does pretty well. In addition, the research shows that many of this measures are correlated with low wages, income inequality, etc.

    Now, I’ve already supplied this map:

    http://marchofdimes.com/prematurity/index_map.asp

    and you obviously didn’t look at it. But click on Mississippi for instance. About a fifth of babies are born prem, and a similar number of women have no health care. This is more than double the rate in Vermont.

    So it has nothing to do with trains. You’re simply unable to let a few shades of grey seep into that black-and-white idiocy of yours.

    THR

    January 14, 2010 at 11:38 am

  295. “And as for tipping – there was a defence/apologia for it above.”

    What is wrong with tipping? If you don’t like it, don’t be a tourist in America. I would have thought airport security would be more of a downer, but I digress…

    Americans have chosen tipping and elected Governments with low minimum wages and low taxes. They have a preference to be paid for work on a performance basis. It also helps low income earners avoid tax. They also have high worker productivity. This shouldn’t be a surprising result.

    Sure beats what we do in Australia, have minimum wages that are so high they put people out of work and tax the bjesus out of those in entry level positions, especially transitioning from welfare to work.

    There is a trade off for upward mobility and culture. I suspect those who err to culture are well off anyway. I also suspect most are like me and would take upward mobility over culture. The downside risk for a preference biased the other way is too much for most people. Hence why mass media and pop culture exists, and why the wealthy enjoy high culture. People prefer to be able to eat before they are careful where they shit and eat. I also think the veil of ignorance is important here. 9/10 times, you’d prefer to be boorish and comfortable than poor and creative.

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 14, 2010 at 11:39 am

  296. “Snootiness. Dog shit. Wine. Cheese.”

    Yes, is allowing your dog to eat and shit at the table “high culture”? Adrien sez: *inquirin’ minds wanna know*.

    Look, this view of France as being a nation entirely composed of gourmands and art critics is actually very non PC. Not every French man works in an idyll cheese farm, or is a wealthy banker, or was descended from the House of Valois. (Nor is everyone in Louisiana is a poor oyster shucking hick or a rich crooked banker descended from Marquis Lafayette with a bad movie cajun accent). They know how to live better etc but the romantic idea of France is like assuming all Chinese people are martial artists, are good at maths and somehow related to or in a feud with someone from the High Command of the PRC State Security service.

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 14, 2010 at 11:46 am

  297. Tipping per se is not the problem, but insitutionalising the presumption of tipping means that wages in the US start at $5-7 in most states. Basically, hospitality workers are forces to kiss arse because of their reliance on charity. It’s basically demaning for the workers, and a means of giving their bosses a free lunch.

    As for Australia’s ‘job destroying’ minimum wage laws – they certainly haven’t destroyed anywhere near as many jobs as the neoliberal carte blanche of the US, Spain, Uk and Ireland…

    THR

    January 14, 2010 at 12:13 pm

  298. “Basically, hospitality workers are forces to kiss arse”

    Need I define what “hospitality” is to you?

    “As for Australia’s ‘job destroying’ minimum wage laws – they certainly haven’t destroyed anywhere near as many jobs as the neoliberal carte blanche of the US, Spain, Uk and Ireland…”

    The economy ruining Freddie Mac etc are not “neoliberal”. 95% of economists agree on minimum wages, which is overwhelming considering how partisan the issue is. Also, if you are seriously calling the UK “neoliberal” in the lefty smear use of the word, you’ve missed out on the last couple of years of British economic policy.

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 14, 2010 at 12:22 pm

  299. The economy ruining Freddie Mac etc are not “neoliberal”

    Only cranks and stooges seriously believe that Freddie Mac was the cause of the GFC. As if government agencies or poor people were the ones buying up dodgy derivates and investing in junk securities.

    Also, if you are seriously calling the UK “neoliberal” in the lefty smear use of the word, you’ve missed out on the last couple of years of British economic policy.

    The past couple of years were preceded by almost three decades of Thatcherism, which continued under a different name under the Blair/Brown regime. All of these countries with lax labour laws saw their unemployment increase sharply during the GFC. I shouldn’t need to explain the consequences of this. Countries with relatively tighter laws have tended to fare better. I’m also curious as to who is being kept out of a job in Australia due to minimum wage laws. You might as well blame compulsory superannuation. It’s a completely illogical inference, and reflects very poorly on economists if this is what they actually believe.

    THR

    January 14, 2010 at 12:27 pm

  300. Need I define what “hospitality” is to you?

    Go for a coffee in Australia sometime, and tell me if the experience was sullied by the worker being given a vaguely-reasonable minimum wage. Unless you need a bit of bowing and scraping with your latte.

    THR

    January 14, 2010 at 12:28 pm

  301. THR, you seem to have an obsession with Mississippi. It’s the poorest state in the union. That’s like choosing Moldova as your typical European country to compare to the US. But it’s clear that even the poorest state, MS, doesn’t shape up terribly when compared to Europe in the aggregate.
    .
    Basically, hospitality workers are forces to kiss arse because of their reliance on charity.
    .
    yep. Rude, lazy waiters don’t get paid.
    .
    By the way, I did look at the link but for complicated reasons I can’t read pdf’s right now. at any rate, I thought that scoring states with an F was hardly an objective, scientific exposition of the facts.

    daddy dave

    January 14, 2010 at 12:29 pm

  302. “If France became a U.S. state it would rank #48 out of 51 by per capita GDP, just barely ahead of America’s two poorest states – West Virginia and Mississippi.”

    But we’ll always have Paris, DD.

    BirdLab

    January 14, 2010 at 12:30 pm

  303. Sinclair my question about Jews was in response to the finding that rates of myopia are higher among Asians and Jews compared to Caucasian whites. In trying to reason why this would be so I was wondering if there is a breakdown of rates of myopia between Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews

    Peter Patton

    January 14, 2010 at 12:31 pm

  304. Dave, it isn’t just Mississippi. There are plenty of others in the area which are very similar in terms of figures. The use of an ‘F’, whilst not ideal, was tied by the researchers to concrete figures regarding prem births.

    Rude, lazy waiters don’t get paid.

    Or anybody else, for that matter, unless the patron feels like it. There’s a restaurant in Melbourne where people can just pay what they feel like. This is the same, except this time, it’s at the expense of workers, not proprietors.

    THR

    January 14, 2010 at 12:32 pm

  305. As for Australia’s ‘job destroying’ minimum wage laws – they certainly haven’t destroyed anywhere near as many jobs as the neoliberal carte blanche of the US, Spain, Uk and Ireland…

    We had relatively lax labor market restrictions during the crisis actually. The rump of Work choices has only been removed and re-regulation commences in 2010.

    Spain doesn’t have a free labor market.

    Here’s the thing, you can have a free labor market which means you will see more volatility with the business cycle or you can institutionalize unemployment at a much higher level.

    jc

    January 14, 2010 at 12:39 pm

  306. no THR,

    The major reason is wage subsidies.

    Compare Germany with the US as the Economist did.

    And Germany has a higher participation rate as well despite Mark claiming the US rates is 10% higher.

    There are few in the economic profession who believe high minimum wages do not have an effect on jobs.

    Butterfield, Bloomfield & Bishop

    January 14, 2010 at 12:40 pm

  307. And who has ‘high’ minimum wages, Homer?

    THR

    January 14, 2010 at 12:42 pm

  308. THR, I agree that aggregated average IQ scores by race/ethnicity aren’t very informative. But I do think IQ scores can be informative as one piece of information among many. On the cultural bias issue, I know this was a major criticism for some time, but I get the impression that a great deal of research has responded to this criticism over the past 20 years. I also get the impression that tests like WAIS-V and the Ravens Progressive Matrices address the cultural biases concerns. I am not sure how successful they are though.

    I think IQ scores are most powerful when used for the purposes Alfred Binet (and later the US Army) intended, namely to identify the extremes particularly to identify the intellectually disabled. I don’t put any store in alleged differences between someone who scores 100 vs. 110, for example.

    OTOH, IQ testing can be valuable for a teacher puzzled about a student’s lack of motivation or disruptive influence in the class. If that child is revealed to have an IQ of 130, the teacher might consider the student’s behavior and under performance a sign s/he is bored an unchallenged and respond accordingly. OTOH, if that child’s IQ turned out to be 100, the teacher might consider alternative strategies to deal with.

    Similarly, if I were an employer recruiting for lower level clerical positions, I would prefer somebody with IQ of 110 over someone with an IQ of 140, as I would – quite reasonably – presume that person would get bored and leave. Then again if there were 2 candidates one with 105, the other with 115, I would make a decision based on non-IQ criteria.

    Peter Patton

    January 14, 2010 at 12:44 pm

  309. Correct on all points, PP.

    daddy dave

    January 14, 2010 at 1:20 pm

  310. “Similarly, if I were an employer recruiting for lower level clerical positions, I would prefer somebody with IQ of 110 over someone with an IQ of 140, as I would – quite reasonably – presume that person would get bored and leave. Then again if there were 2 candidates one with 105, the other with 115, I would make a decision based on non-IQ criteria.”

    Interesting. Biggest tits is the usual winner.

    Infidel Tiger

    January 14, 2010 at 1:23 pm

  311. There are few in the economic profession who believe high minimum wages do not have an effect on jobs.

    Homer, as a nazi economist you were lauding the fact that the Nazi’s lowered wage rates in order to solve the unemployment problem. You’re now advocating the opposite? And here I was thinking you were right all along in that Nazi Germany was the only country that ever solved serious economic ills…. seeing I think you’re a smart, well researched economist. Yea I do, truly…

    Yet now you’re suggesting the opposite?

    jc

    January 14, 2010 at 1:25 pm

  312. THR,
    We do as John Howard proudly boasted last election.

    IQ’s are claptrap.
    you need to examine them over time which is rarely done i.e people need to do regular IQ tests for them to be of any usefulness at all.

    Butterfield, Bloomfield & Bishop

    January 14, 2010 at 1:26 pm

  313. I’d be willing to see a top tax rate of 80-90%, and if I were in the top bracket, I’d be quite happy to pay that amount, as long as the money was spent right.

    Or anybody else, for that matter, unless the patron feels like it. There’s a restaurant in Melbourne where people can just pay what they feel like. This is the same, except this time, it’s at the expense of workers, not proprietors.

    Is there any other ways to interpret these words other than those of a screaming socialist.

    1. I want more social services and if I had the income, which I don’t, I’d be willing to pay for them.

    2. People who reach a certain level have got enough so we should just take the rest of their lives (i.e. 80-90%) from them and redistribute it. They are no longer entitled to anything but what they’ve currently got in the name of equality.

    3. People should get paid whether people want their services or not, or whether they’re delivering acceptable service or not.

    4. The rich, business owners etc must pay for everything, including their employees incompetence, ineptitude and laziness, and they should do it without complaining about it.

    5. No consideration should ever be given to a business owner or employer for any opportunity he has given an employee, even though they’ve choses to work there. This relationship is only ever defined as exploitation.

    Michael Sutcliffe

    January 14, 2010 at 1:43 pm

  314. Forgive my grammar and spelling – it’s via iPhone.

    Michael Sutcliffe

    January 14, 2010 at 1:47 pm

  315. Forest I told you previously to go back to your ESL classes.

    It is ironic that you and Mark are always criticising the wage rates in Germany between the wars but make an entirely different point when talking about present circumstances but then consistency really has never been your strength

    Butterfield, Bloomfield & Bishop

    January 14, 2010 at 1:49 pm

  316. Homer:

    For someone who’s close to being moderated, or should be, because of the incomprehensible swill you post, that on one ever has a hope of understanding, you’re a fine one to be talking about ESL classes, you mentally inverted dope.

    It is ironic that you and Mark are always criticising the wage rates in Germany between the wars

    No Homer, we’ve been focusing on one particular period that you always bring up, which is the nazi years while we’ve been silent on the rest of the interval.

    Having said that, the fact remains you’ve lauded those slave labor rates but seem to advocate higher wage rates for the present. Homer your belief system, as it relates to economics is about the most moronic i have ever seen. You are an economic ignoramus.

    ….make an entirely different point when talking about present circumstances but then consistency really has never been your strength

    How so? I don’t want you to turn this into another one of your nazi threads but SRL and I have been 100% consistent in support of free labor markets.

    jc

    January 14, 2010 at 1:58 pm

  317. Similarly, if I were an employer recruiting for lower level clerical positions, I would prefer somebody with IQ of 110 over someone with an IQ of 140, as I would – quite reasonably – presume that person would get bored and leave.
    .
    not sure if I agree with this bit, actually. Yes for lower level clerical positions as they are utterly boring, but smart people are needed all over the place, not just in finance and management etc. Smart tradesmen, for example, are gold.

    daddy dave

    January 14, 2010 at 2:08 pm

  318. further evidence that Forrest cannot read.

    I have dealt with the proceeding years of Nazi Germany however it is clear except to the innumerate that ONLY Germany got out of the Depression.

    oops slave labour rate. Just what are those ?

    Oops again advocating higher wage rates now?

    when was that?

    given your propensity for telling bald faced lies it would be nice to know.

    Butterfield, Bloomfield & Bishop

    January 14, 2010 at 2:12 pm

  319. “Only cranks and stooges seriously believe that Freddie Mac was the cause of the GFC. ”

    No that’s not true. It was one significant cause. GSEs held 70% of the sub prime debt when the crisis peaked. It was priced as sovereign debt. The FHA loan insurance is probably worse. Your alternative hypothesis is, “neoliberalism”. Bullshit. It’s not a theory, it’s an insult.

    “The past couple of years were preceded by almost three decades of Thatcherism, which continued under a different name under the Blair/Brown regime.”

    Ah yeah sure, Thatcher was responsible for Brown and Downing’s debt etc. This is worse than your previous effort. On par with Homer’s general structural deficit theory of recessions.

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 14, 2010 at 2:26 pm

  320. Is there any other ways to interpret these words other than those of a screaming socialist.

    A bit rich, coming from a Randian. Under the Sutcliffe system, we’d all be paying a fee to the owner of every footpath every time we walked down the street, failing which, we’d be pursued by a private police force. Sounds positively utopian.

    THR

    January 14, 2010 at 2:57 pm

  321. No that’s not true. It was one significant cause. GSEs held 70% of the sub prime debt when the crisis peaked. It was priced as sovereign debt. The FHA loan insurance is probably worse. Your alternative hypothesis is, “neoliberalism”. Bullshit. It’s not a theory, it’s an insult.

    At the absolute most, you could argue that government was one cause among many, but not that it was the only cause, and not that it was the primary cause. You still have to look at monetary policy, dodgy risk assessments, predatory lending and widespread recklessness in the private sphere.

    As for neoliberalism more generally – I’ve gone into it at length on older threads. Basically, neoliberalism in practice is perfectly consistent with government spending, and even government debt. Bush Jr was an exemplary ‘neoliberal’ conservative (i.e. cut taxes for the rich, massive transfers of public wealth to the private sphere, increased surveillance of citizens, etc) despite incurring a significant deficit.

    THR

    January 14, 2010 at 3:00 pm

  322. daddy dave

    Yeah I meant low-level clerical. True, if you are hiring as part of a large organization it might make sense to hire the 140 person, but still leaves your low-level clerical work to be done. 😉

    Peter Patton

    January 14, 2010 at 3:00 pm

  323. A lefty notes the differences between Britain and the US:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/03/books/review/Dyer-t.html

    Infidel Tiger

    January 14, 2010 at 4:53 pm

  324. “At the absolute most, you could argue that government was one cause among many, but not that it was the only cause, and not that it was the primary cause. You still have to look at monetary policy, dodgy risk assessments, predatory lending and widespread recklessness in the private sphere.”

    ———————————————

    Attributable to Government:

    GSE problems (leading to *forced borrowing* through underpriced loans)
    FHA loan insurance
    Monetary policy – under the direction of US law and Presidential appointees saw negative real interest rates
    Moral hazard viz FDIC
    Artificial, inefficient separation of investment and retail banking (okay no longer enforced but it had lingering effects)
    Bush’s war
    Bush’s deficit
    No recourse mortgages
    Bush’s war pressure on oil
    The toll on the war on productivity and labour demand
    “Predatory lending” which was supported by social equity policy, re: “NINJA” loans (viz: GSE charters, HUD directives and the CRA)
    Accreditation of ratings agencies was/is essentially a closed shop
    A changing inflationary environment (confers difficulties to asset/liability management)

    You’re pushing your luck if these aren’t Governmental actions.

    ————————————-

    Attributable to private transactions:

    The market will always be risky. The Government supercharged risk by having a bad macro environment and having really bad micro-structure policies.

    There was no clearinghouse/exchange mechanism for the CDS market

    The global economy is interconnected.

    What do you do here? Ban risk taking? Create a Government owned clearinghouse? Decouple national economies from the global market?

    ———————————————-

    If there was no recessionary shock in early 2007 the whole thing may have been a lot more benign. The problem with that and now is that most of those problems I listed still exist.

    As for “neoliberalism” – Clinton was a neoliberal. Free market conservatives and neoconservatives don’t cut it.

    “A bit rich, coming from a Randian. Under the Sutcliffe system, we’d all be paying a fee to the owner of every footpath every time we walked down the street, failing which, we’d be pursued by a private police force. Sounds positively utopian.”

    Don’t be half witted. You don’t have to pay to breathe the air in BHP’s corporate office, so stop engaging in burning down fantastical strawmen.

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 14, 2010 at 5:26 pm

  325. THR – here is a list of factors that caused the crisis, attributable to Government. I think you’re pushing your luck calling these “market phenomena”…

    Yep, this was meant to be part 1

    A changing inflationary environment (confers difficulties to asset/liability management)
    FHA loan insurance
    GSE problems (leading to *forced borrowing* through underpriced loans)
    Monetary policy – under the direction of US law and Presidential appointees saw negative real interest rates
    Moral hazard viz FDIC
    Artificial, inefficient separation of investment and retail banking (okay no longer enforced but it had lingering effects)
    GWB’s war
    GWB’s deficit
    No recourse mortgages
    GWB’s war pressure on oil
    The toll on the war on productivity and labour demand
    “Predatory lending” which was supported by social equity policy, re: “NINJA” loans (viz: GSE charters, HUD directives and the CRA)
    Accreditation of ratings agencies was/is essentially a closed shop

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 14, 2010 at 5:55 pm

  326. Version 13, Part 1

    THR, here are the macro policies:

    Monetary policy – under the direction of US law / Presidential appointees saw negative real interest rates, changes in the inflationary environment (confers difficulties to asset/liability management), thus setting up a very sick asset market, GWB’s war, deficit and subsequent pressure on oil, the toll on the war on productivity and labour demand

    Micro:

    FHA PMI loan insurance (allowing uncreditworthy borrowers to borrow at all, making the taxpayer the ultimate guarantor of bad loans), No recourse mortgages, GSE lending & associated problems (leading to *forced borrowing* through underpriced loans), Moral hazard via FDIC,
    Artificial &inefficient separation of investment and retail banking (okay no longer enforced but it had lingering effects), “Predatory lending” which was supported by social equity policy, re: “no income, job or asset” loans (viz: GSE charters, HUD directives and the CRA),
    Accreditation of ratings agencies was/is essentially a closed shop

    How are any of these “market phenomena”?

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 14, 2010 at 6:03 pm

  327. err Mark ninja loans were not possible under loans for GSEs or under CRA as they were closely supervised.
    On the other hand loans made by investments banks etc who had very little if any supervision allowed ninja loans.

    No predatory lending occurs when people who cannot afford the loan are ‘pushed ‘ into the loan.

    See comments on supervision.

    Suggest you look at where the foreclosures were. middle class neighbourhoods in California , Florida etc.

    sub-prime loans were mainly loans that were perpetually refinanced. It seems a lot were originally prime loans!

    If it were low interest rates that were the problem then we should have seen investment go through the roof as well.

    It didn’t.

    Lack of regulations were more likely the main culprit.

    Butterfield, Bloomfield & Bishop

    January 14, 2010 at 7:16 pm

  328. It’s true, Bush’s reckless spending didn’t help things. But government can’t be directly blamed for monetary policy, IMO. A lot of the other stuff is highly tendentious. Take no recourse mortgages, for instance. You claim these were an example of government contributing to the crisis, yet every lender ought to have been well aware of the law of the land in advance, and made their assessments accordingly. Sheeting this sort of thing home to government is like blaming the ref for not being able to pick up the ball in soccer.

    “Predatory lending” which was supported by social equity policy

    There’s no need for the scare quotes. The predatory lending occurred, was real, and has been substantially documented. Lenders aggressively pursued people to take their money, and it wasn’t because bleeding heart welfare advocates had guns to their head. It was all greed and short-term thinking. As Homer pointed out, NINJA loans were hardly the only culprits here, and blaming the incompetence/corruption of ratings agencies entirely on a ‘closed shop’ is stretching things.

    As for “neoliberalism” – Clinton was a neoliberal. Free market conservatives and neoconservatives don’t cut it.

    ‘Neoconservatism’ applies more to foreign policy, as far as I’m concerned. Neoliberalism refers principally to the economy, and I wouldn’t disagree for a moment that Clinton could be called neoliberal.

    Don’t be half witted. You don’t have to pay to breathe the air in BHP’s corporate office, so stop engaging in burning down fantastical strawmen.

    I was responding specifically to a commenter who thinks that everything that can be named ought to be privatised. There’s also the more general problem of people having read Rand, and mistakenly thinking that they know something about philosophy, whether political, metaphysical, ethical, or otherwise. These clowns are basically the equivalent of somebody spruiking Dan Brown at a Tolstoy convention.

    How are any of these “market phenomena”?

    How many things at all are purely ‘market phenomena’? All markets require a whole series of props, smoke and mirrors, and men with guns to make them work, except in the textbooks of neoclassicals.

    THR

    January 14, 2010 at 8:57 pm

  329. THR you could arguably paint Clinton as both a neocon and neolib. He used the imperialism of international trade and financial deregulation to strengthen American geopolitically rather than stealth bombers. This was the preferred imperial strategy of the pre-Bush/Cheney/Rusmfeld neocons.

    Peter Patton

    January 14, 2010 at 9:03 pm

  330. “How many things at all are purely ‘market phenomena’? All markets require a whole series of props, smoke and mirrors, and men with guns to make them work, except in the textbooks of neoclassicals.”

    Are manners, morals, laws, etc. now merely props, smoke and men with guns?

    dover_beach

    January 14, 2010 at 9:04 pm

  331. It was Bush junior who combined neocon ‘nation-building’ with neolib mass theft. The invasion of Iraq amounted to an enormous transfer of public wealth into private pockets, both in the US, and in Iraq.

    Are manners, morals, laws, etc. now merely props, smoke and men with guns?

    Pray tell, which markets are run solely on the basis of manners and morals? Are they Hanna Barbera or Disney?

    [edited puclib to public. Sinc]

    THR

    January 14, 2010 at 9:15 pm

  332. THR – hang on. That Iraqi ‘public wealth’ was the personal property of a dictator. Spreading that around is not mass theft, its liberalisation/democratisation of the wealth he stole from the people in the first instance. There might be many good reasons to criticise the Iraq war but that surely isn’t one of them.

    Sinclair Davidson

    January 14, 2010 at 9:36 pm

  333. THR. It’s not either/or. But Bush was never a passionate and committed neoliberal like Clinton. Also neoliberalism is not about “theft”.

    Peter Patton

    January 14, 2010 at 9:39 pm

  334. It wasn’t the personal property of Saddam (at least, not in many cases). Prior to the embargo, the Iraqi people did make some money from oil, and were actually doing relatively okay in the late 70s when Saddam was merely treasurer rather than leader. And the wealth wasn’t ‘spread around’, it was basically given away to private investors. Everything was privatised. You can’t seriously claim that Saddam ‘owned’ every public asset and every component of the public service.

    Before Iraq had security and sanitation (things which large parts of the populace still lack) the US was directly drafting laws on behalf of the Iraqi ‘government’, allowing for the sale of everything public, tax breaks for foreign investors, etc. If that isn’t theft, then what is?

    But Bush was never a passionate and committed neoliberal like Clinton.

    Bush did plenty of things to let everybody know that he was a committed neoliberal in practice. I’m not suggesting that Clinton did so much that was fundamentally different, but the orgy of theft that was the Iraq War (not to mention other aspects of the war on terror) really has no precedent as far as I can see.

    THR

    January 14, 2010 at 9:51 pm

  335. You can’t seriously claim that Saddam ‘owned’ every public asset and every component of the public service.

    Sure. As a practical reality, he probably didn’t. But like all dictators he was skimming off the property of others in order to enrich himself and his henchmen. At some point, to take ‘public’ property is to take the dictators ‘property’.

    Sinclair Davidson

    January 14, 2010 at 9:59 pm

  336. At some point, to take ‘public’ property is to take the dictators ‘property’.

    That may be true, but it isn’t once the dictator is out of power.

    THR

    January 14, 2010 at 10:02 pm

  337. THR

    I’m not really sure how helpful it is to define neoliberalism as an “orgy of theft”.

    Peter Patton

    January 14, 2010 at 10:07 pm

  338. That’s how I described Iraq from the point of view of the invaders. Neoliberalism is a slippery thing to define, precisely because the theory is rather different to the practice, and because there are local variations in the way in which it is practiced (Pinochet’s Chile is obviously different to Hawke’s Australia).

    THR

    January 14, 2010 at 10:11 pm

  339. Butters is still pushing some silly ideas.

    “err ninja loans were not possible under loans for GSEs or under CRA as they were closely supervised.
    On the other hand loans made by investments banks etc who had very little if any supervision allowed ninja loans.”

    GSEs had social equity provisions. Banks were forced to make CRA loans. FHA PMI allowed anyone to get a loan anywhere, the downside backed by the taxpayer. GSE supervision had been widely criticised for years before the crisis.

    “No predatory lending occurs when people who cannot afford the loan are ‘pushed ‘ into the loan.”

    Rubbish. The US Federal Government either backed, provided or forced others to make these loans. Try getting a bank loan in Australia without any income. It won’t happen. Blaming “a lack of supervision” in the US is just fallacious. They had State, Federal and at times local or institutional supervision.

    “Suggest you look at where the foreclosures were. middle class neighbourhoods in California , Florida etc.”

    Sure Butters, just ignore no-recourse mortgages. Foreclosures were not necessarily sub-prime. Sub prime paid more of a role than being a loan category that collapsed. It provided trillions of underpriced credit.

    “sub-prime loans were mainly loans that were perpetually refinanced. It seems a lot were originally prime loans!”

    What does this prove? As people’s credit ratings fell, they could get underpriced credit with little bearing to their ability to repay.

    Thanks for being hoisted by your own petard.

    “If it were low interest rates that were the problem then we should have seen investment go through the roof as well.

    It didn’t.”

    No, you’re not in touch with reality. The US housing market was the biggest bubble this side of the aneurysms your rambling gives others.

    “Lack of regulations were more likely the main culprit.”

    Uh huh, sure, in the face of a stack of contrary facts and none of your own, assume that Democrat/ALP policy is fantastic.

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 14, 2010 at 10:28 pm

  340. “You claim these were an example of government contributing to the crisis, yet every lender ought to have been well aware of the law of the land in advance, and made their assessments accordingly. Sheeting this sort of thing home to government is like blaming the ref for not being able to pick up the ball in soccer.”

    The only way to mitigate no recourse loans is to either violate Federal law and make your loan agreement voidable – or, not loan at all. How can you price risk adequately when there was the alphabet soup concessions made to even uncreditworthy borrowers?

    “There’s no need for the scare quotes. The predatory lending occurred, was real, and has been substantially documented. Lenders aggressively pursued people to take their money, and it wasn’t because bleeding heart welfare advocates had guns to their head. It was all greed and short-term thinking. As Homer pointed out, NINJA loans were hardly the only culprits here, and blaming the incompetence/corruption of ratings agencies entirely on a ‘closed shop’ is stretching things.”

    They weren’t scare quotes. It is absurd calling it predatory lending when the Federal Government subsidised it, provided it or forced others to do it. What is your definition of force? Are Federal laws in the US enforced or not? Janet Reno made a rather smug but reckless statement that she would come down hard on banks who didn’t give out enough loans to people who couldn’t afford them. Ratings agencies just didn’t operate as closed shops, they were favoured by Government. Do you really think with all of the finance and related professionals that only three companies are competent to do credit risk assessments?

    “I was responding specifically to a commenter who thinks that everything that can be named ought to be privatised.”

    Well why not? Why the need to nationalise everything? This is getting off topic but State and local Governments offer very little in the way of a return for investors and property purchasers in new developments in what they pay in taxes and charges.

    “All markets require a whole series of props, smoke and mirrors, and men with guns to make them work, except in the textbooks of neoclassicals.”

    Stick to the facts, don’t lick toads and ignore Marx. His theory was mathematically impossible.

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 14, 2010 at 10:37 pm

  341. Look, I’m glad you spared us the standard fairy-tale whereby the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 caused the economy to asplode. And the points about Bush’s contribution to the broader conditions are well-made (though you omitted any mention of China).

    The other stuff is questionable, however. I don’t believe for a second that banks could not price risk, and I don’t believe that banks were not predatory. The idea that government thugs were twisting arms is nonsense, at least in practice. Banks were actively chasing borrowers with honeymoon rates being offered to the poor and uneducated. The market gave every incentive for this in the context of ever-expanding housing prices, and a profitable trade in securities, which meant that the banks could never lose, even if the punters did.

    Do you really think with all of the finance and related professionals that only three companies are competent to do credit risk assessments?

    No, probably none of them are competent to do risk assessment.

    THR

    January 14, 2010 at 10:58 pm

  342. “(though you omitted any mention of China).”

    China? What has China got to do with any of this? I’ve seen this nutty theory spouted “an East West financing imbalance” What imbalance? How did it work? How did China cause a small economic crisis in the USA, precipitating in bond refinancing to fail vis a vis mortgage cashflows? Are you talking up this “financing imbalance” theory or pointing towards another calamity that flowed back to the US?

    “I don’t believe for a second that banks could not price risk, and I don’t believe that banks were not predatory…the banks could never lose, even if the punters did.”

    This is exactly the point – they were forced into predatory loans which had i) no recourse on personal covenants ii) which all had PMI, and the worst borrowers had PMI backed by the taxpayer. Ultimately it didn’t matter if they did or did not price for risk – because the market was swamped by cheap, negative real rate money and improperly risk priced GSE credit – all contingencies backed by the taxpayer.

    Now my point is this – markets are greedy. Markets are risky. They do an important job. If you think it is necessary to regulate, please, for the love of God, don’t make really stupid regulations like the US had/has. [Notice how we don’t have their problems – and were only effected as far as the XCP market dried up and boned some of our NBFIs?]

    “No, probably none of them are competent to do risk assessment.”

    Now you said above banks could price risk, now no one they might employ can!

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 14, 2010 at 11:07 pm

  343. I’ve never suggested that risk can be ‘regulated’ away. This is the Ruddian lie. Of course risk is intrinsic to the whole package. But none of this makes no recourse loans a cause of the GFC. This is bordering on Bird’s theory of FRB being the root of all evil. If the banks knew in advance about the loans being no recourse, and were making loads of money through such loans, people can hardly complain after the fact and start blaming the government.

    THR

    January 14, 2010 at 11:13 pm

  344. THR, if the government is doing this, are they complicit in the outcome or not?

    The government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) are a group of financial services corporations created by the United States Congress. Their function is to enhance the flow of credit to targeted sectors of the economy and to make those segments of the capital market more efficient and transparent. The desired effect of the GSEs is to enhance the availability and reduce the cost of credit to the targeted borrowing sectors: agriculture, home finance and education.

    Michael Sutcliffe

    January 14, 2010 at 11:19 pm

  345. THR

    What do you actually mean by “GFC”? And I am curious at this need to assign blame to someone.

    Peter Patton

    January 14, 2010 at 11:19 pm

  346. “But none of this makes no recourse loans a cause of the GFC. This is bordering on Bird’s theory of FRB being the root of all evil. ”

    Hang on. Don’t go there. Give me a chance to try and explain this.

    “If the banks knew in advance about the loans being no recourse, and were making loads of money through such loans, people can hardly complain after the fact and start blaming the government.”

    The US Government has an awful habit: bailouts. These are of course an implicit deal considering FDIC deposits.

    Look at US GDP at the finest breakdown you can. There was a small, but rather sharp and sudden recessionary event early in 2007. The costs of the war etc had culminated in falling productivity, hence labour demand. People were losing their jobs and real wages were falling. If they couldn’t afford their mortgage, they could just walk away. Why would they?

    They were towards the end of a credit cycle, and hence property cycle. Since 2003, extremely low, irresponsible cash rates were being targeted by the Fed. 2004 saw negative real interest rates. The unemployment (created by falling labour productivity, due to the explicit and implicit costs of the war and the credit misallocation) exacerbated falling property values.

    Given the massive loss in equity and no recourse out, banks and other FIs were left with a sudden and large refinancing problem.

    Banks could not avoid lending (CRA) and the contingencies were assured by the taxpayer (FHA PMI). If you don’t accept this (which I don’t understand why given Reno’s envious comments/crusade), they had a “too big to fail” guarantee anyway that they’ve paid out before (repeatedly – and slowly as in the S&L crisis).

    Does this make more sense to you than Bird’s visceral hatred of anything but Shari’a banking?

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 14, 2010 at 11:24 pm

  347. THR, if the government is doing this, are they complicit in the outcome or not?

    Not necessarily, no.

    What do you actually mean by “GFC”?

    Is this a serious question? Do you deny that a crisis in the finance sector led to widespread (though not Great Depression level) ramifications for a number of countries, beginning from around September 2008?

    THR

    January 14, 2010 at 11:25 pm

  348. Not necessarily, no.

    C’mon….

    Michael Sutcliffe

    January 14, 2010 at 11:27 pm

  349. Yes, they were ‘too big to fail’, and were perhaps operating on the implicit assumption of taxpayer support. This still doesn’t mean that all of this was unforseeable. As I said earlier, the banks had incentives to lend that did not derive from government, and certainly didn’t originate with the magical CRA which was initially devised because banks wouldn’t lend to some (i.e. black) neighbourhoods at all.

    And wasn’t this cycle exacerbated by Greenspan’s tomfoolery vis-a-vis the dotcom crash, which was itself business as usual for the monetarists?

    At least we agree that the government and banks had a degree of collusion going on. It’s a starting point.

    THR

    January 14, 2010 at 11:32 pm

  350. “Is this a serious question? Do you deny that a crisis in the finance sector led to widespread (though not Great Depression level) ramifications for a number of countries, beginning from around September 2008?”

    Unlike your other answer, close enough.

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 14, 2010 at 11:34 pm

  351. THR if you are going to start specifying causes of something, you also have to specify parameters that indicate the effects. Compared to the completely vacuous

    a crisis in the finance sector led to widespread (though not Great Depression level) ramifications for a number of countries, beginning from around September 2008?

    Defining a “crisis” as a “crisis”? Come on.

    Ramifications?

    Number of countries?

    Peter Patton

    January 14, 2010 at 11:35 pm

  352. “This still doesn’t mean that all of this was unforseeable.”

    Correct, GS had an internal report around ealry March 2007 on a possible crisis. But that is about it. Consumers are not financially educated to that level. Neither is Barney Frank.

    “As I said earlier, the banks had incentives to lend that did not derive from government, and certainly didn’t originate with the magical CRA which was initially devised because banks wouldn’t lend to some (i.e. black) neighbourhoods at all.”

    This is just two faced. Maybe three.

    (I know you may object to the source but it quotes Reno, and not out of context).

    http://www.cnsnews.com/public/content/article.aspx?RsrcID=36048

    “Under the Clinton administration, federal regulators began using the act to combat “red-lining,” a practice by which banks loaned money to some communities but not to others, based on economic status. “No loan is exempt, no bank is immune,” warned then-Attorney General Janet Reno. “For those who thumb their nose at us, I promise vigorous enforcement.”

    The Clinton-Reno threat of “vigorous enforcement” pushed banks to make the now infamous loans that many blame for the current meltdown, Richman said. “Banks, in order to not get in trouble with the regulators, had to make loans to people who shouldn’t have been getting mortgage loans.”

    This threat combined with the government backing of Fannie and Freddie set the stage for the current uncertainty, because the “banks could just sell the loans off to Fannie or Freddie,” who could buy them with little regard for negative financial outcomes, Richman said.”

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 14, 2010 at 11:40 pm

  353. Also note the 1992 study that concluded that “redlining” provisions needed beefing up were flawed.

    http://www.nytimes.com/1994/08/30/business/redlining-under-attack.html?pagewanted=all

    “A recent study by David Horne, an economist at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, concludes that the seminal redlining study, conducted by Alicia Munnell, a former economist at the Federal Reserve Bank in Boston who is now a deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, was fatally flawed. His analysis of the data shows no discrimination at all.”

    “But in an article published this spring in the F.D.I.C. Banking Review, Mr. Horne, the F.D.I.C. economist, took another look at the Boston Fed analysis. He concluded that adding yet more information relevant to loan decisions — for example, the availability of cash for closing costs — wiped out three-quarters of the discrimination found in the Boston Fed’s study. What’s more, Mr. Horne said, if one eliminates data from two minority-owned banks that actively solicited business from marginally qualified blacks, the evidence of discrimination vanishes entirely.”

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 14, 2010 at 11:45 pm

  354. Okay – I’ll clarify my statements about government impact on the macroeconomic stuff. But it still doesn’t get the finance industry off the hook. The complexity of the financial instruments in question here had nothing to do with legislation intended to reduce discrimination against blacks. The lending practices of banks were absolutely not reducible to the CRA/Government, and these in turn were not reducible to the securitisation stampede to which they were connected.

    Defining a “crisis” as a “crisis”? Come on.

    In one sense you’re correct, Peter. It wasn’t necessarily a crisis. The sense of ‘crisis’ was at least partially manufactured to allow bipartisan bailout of banks.

    The ramifications are clear. Let’s call it a global ‘downturn’, shall we? Economic growth has slowed everywhere, and gone negative in many places. Most of the developed world is in the grip of recession. Over-inflated asset prices have sunk in a number of countries. Every government with the means has launched stimulus packages, and interest rates are at record lows. Financial institutions either went bust, were bailed out, or were nationalised. I’m sure you get the picture.

    THR

    January 15, 2010 at 12:03 am

  355. “The complexity of the financial instruments in question here had nothing to do with legislation intended to reduce discrimination against blacks.”

    Complexity of financial instruments had nothing to do with anything. The problem was a lack of a central clearinghouse.

    The FDIC study in 1994 showed that there was NO discrimination against blacks. There were serious data errors in the 1992 Boston Fed study, along with a failure to manage control variables.

    “The lending practices of banks were absolutely not reducible to the CRA/Government, and these in turn were not reducible to the securitisation stampede to which they were connected.”

    I’ve never said that.

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 15, 2010 at 12:11 am

  356. Actually I think will change my mind slightly – securitisation was linked to CRA loans did not want to take on but were forced to loan out – GSEs were chartered to buy these off banks.

    Semi Regular Libertarian

    January 15, 2010 at 12:12 am

  357. But it still doesn’t get the finance industry off the hook. The complexity of the financial instruments in question here had nothing to do with legislation intended to reduce discrimination against blacks.

    The finance industry that played with these kinds of mortgages et al certainly should never be let off the hook. If people were using the complexity of the financial instruments to hide things that shouldn’t be there, they should be prosecuted. Both the politicians and the financiers who were using the complexity as a smoke screen to hide the risk should be named and shamed. At the end of the day, the regulators were in bed with the regulated to produce convenient political outcomes and make money for financiers without them doing their job such as managing risk. They should all pay if they were doing the wrong thing.

    Michael Sutcliffe

    January 15, 2010 at 12:15 am

  358. THR:

    The securitization stampede was started in the very early 90’s. The reasons related to the previous banking crisis of the 80’s which was the S&L crisis.

    The conclusion reached from that earlier crisis was that bank balance sheets were to narrow and illiquid and the banking system needed a way to raise cash quickly. So securitization was pushed by the regulators (primarily the SEC, Fed and FDIC) allowing the banks to take a smaller capital allocation against a securitized loan vs a regular loan that wasn’t able to be sold and sitting on the bank balance sheet.

    So the capital treatment for banks was what drove the enormous growth of securitization.

    jc1

    January 15, 2010 at 12:17 am

  359. SRT

    Actually I argue that as the overwhelming majority of derivatives and swaps, especially credit derivatives, were OTC, this ironically amounted to a RETREAT from markets.

    In other words it is not strictly the case that any role played by credit derivatives and securitized mortgages reflects some metaphysical failure in markets per se. Rather the problems grew from retreating from markets.

    Peter Patton

    January 15, 2010 at 12:19 am

  360. Rather the problems grew from retreating from markets.

    Trying to hard Peter, they were functioning in a market, not some idealised version of it.

    John H.

    January 15, 2010 at 12:34 am


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