standpointmag.co.uk– The least bad option would be for the German bloc to leave EMU. Germany’s banks might still have to be recapitalised, but it would be less costly than trying to “rescue” Greece. …
Modest salaries, high taxes, but high level of social safety net: that was the social contract stricken between the governments and their peoples across post-war European lands, in various forms. The welfare manifests itself in various forms: high level of labour market protection, unemployment benefits, guaranteed pension, subsidized housing and education, etc.
With greying populations and a fiscal trend that can only predict more costs and less tax revenues, the most logical thing for governments to do would’ve been to save more and borrow less. Growth does not seem to be an option.
But that is hardly an attractive option with voters with their own interests to protect. Voting with their ages and the social contract they still believe they are entitled to, working-class Europeans bought into their politicians’ utopian vision that they can live better without actually making things better.
Spain is now grappling with the highest unemployment level of Europe. And many people have no savings. After all, why bother with financial literacy and savings when you can never be sacked from your job, are supposedly guaranteed a pension, and are entitled to live forever in subsidized housing? And the perverse incentives of paternalistic policies is hardly unique to Spain, so you can betcha that this story of broken promises will only be repeated in more versions than one in the coming years.
In Greece, the trouble seems to be compounded with a troublesome political past (as recent as the 80s):
The Greek crisis reminds us that while Greece is a part of Western Europe, it is also a place where hammers and sickles and “F—- the Police” decorate the city walls; where references to civil wars and world wars and postwar American meddling come up in daily conversation; where immigrants fleeing violence and economic plunder scramble atop the life raft of Greece’s fragile European shores, only to fester in homogenous Athens. It is also a country that in some ways still mirrors the lands across the Mediterranean—the countries of North Africa and the Middle East that continue to be strangled by Third World ways and won’t simply acclimate to the rules of the West as one might have hoped.
Hilarious account on the growth in Indian immigration in a small New Jersey town, which experienced the same kind of demographic and population shift that countless other towns and cities must have gone through in North America.
In the 11 years I lived in Manhattan’s Chelsea district, that area transformed from a place with gangs and hookers to a place with gays and transvestite hookers to a place with artists and no hookers to a place with rich families and, I’m guessing, mistresses who live a lot like hookers.
And what successful assimilation looks like, tongue in cheek.
[I]f you look at the current Facebook photos of students at my old high school, J.P. Stevens, which would be very creepy of you, you’ll see that, while the population seems at least half Indian, a lot of them look like the Italian Guidos I grew up with in the 1980s: gold chains, gelled hair, unbuttoned shirts. In fact, they are called Guindians. Their assimilation is so wonderfully American that if the Statue of Liberty could shed a tear, she would. Because of the amount of cologne they wear.
From an obituary of Norman Macrae, whom was the deputy editor of The Economist for 23 years.
For all his interest in the rest of the world, he was a very English figure. His ideas were rooted in the English liberalism of the 19th century – a liberalism that celebrated the individual over the collective, progress over reaction, free thought over superstition.
And on his championship of limited governance and individual freedom:
His 1975 survey on America’s 200th birthday, in which he chastises the Democrats for flirting with the Fabian cult of government expertise, conservatives for flirting with religious extremism, and business for underinvesting in innovation, might easily be a portrait of Barack Obama’s America. Big government has been on the march for much of the past decade. The Beijing consensus celebrates the alliance of big government and big companies. Much of the public sector has resisted the power of vouchers and internal markets.
Bowker, a company that tracks industry statistics, calculated that, in 2009 alone, new titles published outside of “traditional publishing and classification definitions” numbered 764,448. Yes, you read that right: upward of three-quarters of a million books in a single year. Not all of those books were intended for a general readership, but if, say, two-thirds of them were, you could just barely manage to read the first page of every single one of them in the course of year — provided you also gave up eating, sleeping and bathing. (I calculate about one page per minute; your mileage may, of course, vary.) And this is the situation even in the days before we’ve come close to hitting the crest of the new, technology-driven self-publishing boom.
At the same time, libraries are straining under the burden of paying for an explosion of journals.
From 1978 to 2001, libraries at the University of California at Los Angeles, for example, saw their subscription costs alone climb by 1,300 percent.
The amount of material one must read to conduct a reasonable review of a topic keeps growing. Younger scholars can’t ignore any of it—they never know when a reviewer or an interviewer might have written something disregarded—and so they waste precious months reviewing a pool of articles that may lead nowhere.
The content problem isn’t going away.
How do people invoke national football support as a boundary-drawing exercise?
In Scotland support for the national football team is regarded as a legitimate expression of national identity for both Scottish and English folk. The representation of a collective English national identity and ‘their’ stereotypes of the Scottish legitimate the assertion of a shared Scottish national identity, the maximization of differences between the national groups, and the justification for anti-English sentiment.
Moreover, this psychological attachment to Scotland and the Scottish is distinguished from the state of ‘being’ British. In England, respondents can also cast English and Scottish national identity in terms of national football, but treat these as problematic. Whilst the Scots are attributed with performing national identity and (justifiable) antagonisms towards the English through football, it is not acceptable for the English to do so.
Displays of collective English national identity are treated as irrational, a threat to individualism, and reflecting negative associations with hooliganism, xenophobia, and the values of the far Right. The inclusion of far Right hooligans into the sample, who do regard football as a legitimate expression of English nationalism, offers an insight into what the majority of the England-born sample resist.
Since the fifteenth century, the world has been dominated by Europe and taught by Europe and exploited by Europe and made by Europe. After the calamitous experiences of the first half of the twentieth century, Europe had had enough, not least of itself and its own recent history.
The French novelist and essayist is less concerned with the immediate political woes of Brussels and Strasbourg than with a collapse of self-confidence and a spirit of self-flagellation he finds among the former colonizers and masters of the world. This is supposedly manifested in various ways: a drop in the birthrate so drastic that populations are no longer growing and will soon decline in Spain and Italy; a reflexive hostility to the United States, and also to Israel; a self-hating or “miserablist” narrative of national and continental history; and a groveling, guilt-induced refusal to take seriously the threat from militant Islam, a threat which comes not only from as far away as Iran and Afghanistan but more and more from within, as greatly increased Muslim populations challenge, not only by their numbers, but also by their vigor and sometimes their violence, a post-Christian Europe which doesn’t believe in itself anymore and too often retreats into sour Trotzreaktionen.
EU enlargement to the east, integrating the populations within, faced with an increasingly distant America and rising powers elsewhere, what is Europe’s place this century?
France is now, sitting at the bottom of the Group A table, and amazingly out of the World Cup after 2 losses and 1 draw.
The French are naturally reflective of the loss and the mayhem that led to this abysmal reality, but not before some serious drama.
France is sensitive about its world image in the best of times. But when its team self-destructs on the World Cup stage, when it ties Uruguay and loses to Mexico, when its star forward hurls epithets at the coach and is sent packing, when the team then goes on strike, when some players won’t dress to play against host South Africa today, when the team director resigns in tears, when the French public shouts “shame” in the streets and the sports minister is pushed to the cameras by President Sarkozy to call for team dignity, when the world press snickers, when bank Credit Agricole drops ad sponsorship, and the far right blames “blacks” and the far left blames “millionaire athletes” – it all amounts to a national crisis, a moment of bitter societal soul-searching.
Back in the late 90s, racial diversity in the French team was accredited with its famous win. Nowadays, it is a cause for little else than more bickering.
“Now in France a sense of decline is exacerbated by economics, the fall of the euro…a betrayal by elites felt in some places, and in the midst of this the French national soccer team is in disarray. Now you hear the words ‘black, black, black’ about the team. Unfortunately, this will spark our ‘cultural’ divide’ discussion.”
There might be a questionable correlation between sports prowess on the international stage and economic prosperity back home, but social cohesion on and off-field seems to translate to a certain degree.