Links of the day, European edition

1. On the difference between empiricists and philosophers, and the size of blunders they commit.

Most of the world seems to think that the Americans are the ones who do the crazy things, but it is really the Europeans who commit the colossal blunders. Americans are empiricists – they will try anything, but if it doesn’t work they stop doing it. Europeans are thinkers, philosophers. They theorize and analyze brilliantly creating castles in their minds, turning them over and over to perfect them. The tradition starts with Plato, then Machiavelli, and goes through Karl Marx, Nietzsche, and Pareto, to the creators of the euro. Every philosophy can be discredited. It is only when a concept works in the real world over time and is adjusted to fit changing circumstances – like Communism in China – that one can be sure of success. All empiricists know that the euro can not work as constructed, but the Euroleaders will destroy their economies, harming the Swiss as well, until they are forced from power.

2. On the problematic side of free education, of which the lack of standards naturally emerge as a side effect, as manifested in the Swedish educational experiment.

Yet the Swedish authorities’ own research has concluded that over the last fifteen years since the free schools were introduced, the number of low performing pupils has increased in Sweden, while the high performing pupils have neither increased in numbers nor have they become more successful.

The free school system, implemented without imposing clear standards, has seen schools opening with sub-standard facilities, often without libraries, and with a far greater number of unqualified teachers.

What’s more, the introduction of free schools has led to increased segregation where pupils from the same social background increasingly concentrate in certain attractive free schools.

This matters because segregation and poorer facilities serve no-one but the Conservatives seem to specifically think that these “freedoms” are positive aspects of the policy. This is a serious mistake.

3. Should Europe work harder? While Americans kick itself in the butt continually in the race to keep up with emerging workaholics the likes of Japanese and Koreans around the world, Europe says, meh.  Productivity can help you catch up to, say, the US, when the rest of the emerging countries are mired in political instability.  But nowadays, when there are competitors out there willing to put in the hours and invest in productivity, you think Europe in the next 50 years will look anything like what it does today, when measured up against the rest of the world?

4. What an ex-Cold War spy thinks of the current European Union. Ouch.

“The European Union is like some tasteless Dutch vegetable, irredeemably detumescent,” he pronounces. “I mean, just look at that extraordinary woman they have made foreign minister, Lady Ashton — she looks like ET as dressed by Oxfam. The best thing the EU could do would be to draft in another country, somewhere like Angola, which would torpedo the whole wretched union thing and put it out of its misery.”

5. When politicians think they are know-it-alls and vote political and economic unions into place, without reading writings on the wall.

When Josef Joffe, then foreign editor of the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, wrote a 4,000-word essay in December 1997 attacking the planned formation of the European single currency, he published it first in English, in the New York Review of Books. “Never in the history of democracy have so few debated so little about so momentous a transformation in the lives of men and women,” noted Mr Joffe. As if to confirm his point, the article appeared in an abridged German translation in the Süddeutsche Zeitung more than a month later, unobtrusively buried in a weekend supplement.

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  • Anonymous

    Really great and simple tip this one. I feel like with a lot of these things it’s a very simple thing to do its just difficult emotionally.

  • kushibo

    I don't think Europeans and especially Americans need to work like Koreans and Japanese, but just stop spending as if they do.