Will This Come Back to Haunt the U.S.?

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Barry
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Will This Come Back to Haunt the U.S.?

Post by Barry » Fri Mar 25, 2005 1:35 pm

NYTimes.com > Opinion
OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
Dissing Democracy in Asia
By LARRY PRESSLER

Published: March 21, 2005

Washington

ONE big story from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's trip to South Asia was that once again Washington's policymakers are trying to send F-16 jet fighters to Pakistan. This is like a broken record - the argument has come up repeatedly since 1990, when an amendment I wrote quashed a deal involving 28 of the planes - but unfortunately this time the sale may well happen.

Pakistan is a declared ally in the fight against terrorism, and thus we give it huge amounts of military aid. But F-16's have nothing to do with fighting Al Qaeda and the Taliban. So what is really going on here? The answer is entwined in two decades of misguided United States policy toward India and Pakistan.

The truth is, we should have a robust pro-India stance. India is a democracy with a free market and a highly developed system of human rights. It could become our major bulwark against China in East Asia. It also has a large Muslim minority and, generally speaking, is an example of tolerance. And we have a mutually beneficial trade relationship with India that is helping us keep our technological edge. (Disclosure: I am on the board of Infosys Technologies, an Indian software company.)

Pakistan, on the other hand, is a corrupt, absolute dictatorship. It has a horrendous record on human rights and religious tolerance, and it has been found again and again to be selling nuclear materials to our worst enemies. It claims to be helping us to fight terrorism, although many intelligence experts have suggested that most of our money actually goes to strengthening the rule of Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

Yes, during the cold war India often sided with the Soviet Union while Pakistan went with the United States. Some old hands at the Pentagon still seem to think we should be rewarding Pakistan for that. But the cold war is long over. We have given the Pakistanis their due many times over.

From the late 1970's to the mid-1990's, as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I repeatedly warned that Pakistan was selling nuclear materials to other nations. Administrations, both Democratic and Republican, turned a blind eye; they even got leaders of our intelligence community to say that I didn't know what I was talking about. Well, everything I said has been proved absolutely true - to an even more worrisome degree than I had described.

Our military-industrial complex, which I believe dominates our foreign policy, favors Pakistan not only because we can sell it arms, but also because the Pentagon would often rather deal with dictatorships than democracies. When a top Pentagon official goes to Pakistan, he can meet with one general and get everything settled. On the other hand, if he goes to India, he has to talk to the prime minister, the Parliament, the courts and, God forbid, the free press.

Meeting with Pakistani leaders last week, Secretary Rice did say she looked forward to "the evolution of a democratic path toward elections in 2007." But she neither asked for nor received any sort of guarantees about elections, human rights or freedom of the press. She did bring up nuclear proliferation, but only in a perfunctory way. Likewise, President Bush had General Musharraf as a guest at Camp David in 2003, apparently without ever mentioning the administration's democracy program. This all makes a mockery of President Bush's inaugural speech in January, and is a prime example of the sort of dictator-coddling that, eventually, always comes back to haunt us.

We need a fundamental policy shift for the subcontinent. First, we should enthusiastically improve our treatment of India. We should not reject Pakistan entirely - we need it as an ally - but to treat India and Pakistan the same is a great mistake. Instead, we need to speak frankly in public about Pakistan's democratic and human-rights failures, as well as acknowledge that we can achieve our objectives in Pakistan with a much lower level of aid and a closer eye to ensuring that it goes toward the fight against terrorists. And we should not sell it any F-16's.

We should also make it clear that we will favor India in all major regional disputes. Without American support, Pakistan would be forced to drop its claims to the disputed region of Kashmir, as well as end its support of the region's Muslim militants (whom many in our intelligence services feel have ties to Al Qaeda).

Freeing ourselves from our profitless Pakistan policy would allow us to look clearly at the biggest problem in the region: China. We should tell Beijing that we will help India match China's arms buildup and that we will work toward a modified free-trade agreement with India to help it offset China's state-dominated trade practices.

The Bush administration is right to put the expansion of liberty and democracy at the center of its foreign policy. But as long as we favor dictatorships like Pakistan over free countries like India, the world will be right not to take our words seriously.


Larry Pressler is a former Republican senator from South Dakota.

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Post by Barry » Fri Mar 25, 2005 1:37 pm

Now this:

Officials: Bush Agrees to Sell F-16s to Pakistan

March 25, 2005 Politics - Reuters


By Adam Entous

CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - President Bush (news - web sites) has agreed to sell F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan in a major policy shift rewarding a key ally in the war on terrorism, administration officials said on Friday.



A senior Bush administration official said the sale, which was blocked for 15 years, "will not change the overall balance of power" between Pakistan and India, and the jets "are vital to Pakistan's security as President (Pervez) Musharraf takes numerous risks prosecuting the war on terror."


One Bush administration official said the sale involved 24 planes but another said the numbers could change.


India's prime minister expressed "great disappointment," a spokesman in New Delhi said.


Pakistani Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed called Bush's decision "a good gesture... This shows that our relations are growing stronger."


Washington blocked the sale of the F-16s to Pakistan in 1990 as a sanction against its nuclear weapons program.


Though no final decision has been made "at this point" on similar F-16 sales to India, the senior Bush administration official said: "We will respond positively to the Indian tender for bids to sell multi-role combat aircraft."


The F-16 is made by Lockheed Martin Corp., the largest U.S. defense contractor.


Jehangir Karamat, Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, opened new political possibilities for advancing Pakistan's stalled 15-year quest for the F-16 fighters when he said last month that Islamabad would not object to India also buying the American-made jets.


NUCLEAR NEIGHBORS


The decision follows Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (news - web sites)'s visit to India and Pakistan earlier this month. The State Department informed key congressional leaders on Friday.


In New Delhi, a spokesman for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Bush called him on Friday about the planned sale.


"The prime minister expressed India's great disappointment at the decision which could have negative consequences for India's security environment," Sanjaya Baru, spokesman for the prime minister's office, told Reuters.


Tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors, who have fought three wars and were on the brink of another in 2002, have eased since they began talks last year aimed at ending half a century of enmity.


India has strongly opposed the sale of F-16s to Pakistan after the Pentagon (news - web sites) cleared arms sales worth $1.2 billion to Pakistan last year. New Delhi says the planes could only be used against it in a conflict.


Islamabad in turn has said that any move by the United States to sell Patriot anti-missile systems to India would trigger a new arms race in the region, after a U.S. defense team made a presentation last month in New Delhi.


The F-16 sale represents a major policy shift for the United States and a final step toward tacit acceptance of Pakistan's possession of nuclear weapons.





"President Musharraf made a commitment to stand with the United States," the senior administration official said. "This is a long-standing request."

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Post by Barry » Fri Mar 25, 2005 1:39 pm

I know that as was the case in the Cold War, the U.S. has to sometimes do things and deal with people that it wouldn't do under the best of circumstances. And there have been times when those instances have come back to haunt us (Saddam for example). Will this be one of those times? If radicals somehow get power in Pakistan, will we regret this sale?

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Post by jbuck919 » Fri Mar 25, 2005 4:40 pm

I have to imagine that the reasoning in Washington is something like this: We're satisfying a constituent with a lobby (the folks that make the planes), the Pakistanis are getting weapons they don't realize are worthless outside the context of a comprehensive modern armed force, and the gulf between the backwards Pakistan and the dynamic, modernizing India is so great that we're talking about letting a kid play with his cap gun.

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Post by operafan » Fri Mar 25, 2005 7:17 pm

If we are silly enough to sell arms to that part of the world, fighters are probably the best choice; expensive and finicky to maintain they have not a long life. I hope we have the smarts to put something in the GPS that fries the circuitry if the Pakistanis set the target for India or Kasmir. I wonder how long it will be before the Pakistanis modify the F16s to carry their dirty or nuclear bombs.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Sat Mar 26, 2005 7:47 am

Barry Z wrote:I know that as was the case in the Cold War, the U.S. has to sometimes do things and deal with people that it wouldn't do under the best of circumstances. And there have been times when those instances have come back to haunt us (Saddam for example). Will this be one of those times? If radicals somehow get power in Pakistan, will we regret this sale?
I don't see that we have any other choice. With all due respect to Larry Pressler, a politician I have always respected, what Pakistan is or was besides our ally in monitoring the Afghanistan/Pakistan border and working with us in the effort to root out the Murder, Inc., faction of Islam is quite irrelevant for the time being. This sale does several things: it keeps Pakistan on par with India in terms of sexy weapons systems as a way of promoting the so-far productive detente between Pakistan and India; it keeps the Pakistanis from buying European technology for the same sorts of weapons systems; and it gives US firms the business. The denial of business to the Europeans has the added benefit of keeping the pressure up on their reluctant glacial creeping away from the bloated welfare statism that is destroying the French and German economies and dragging on the EU. Our shotgun wedding with the Pakistanis may be a marriage of convenience but it's absolutely critical to our plans to stabilize the region. We have to try regardless of the possibility that we may be sorry in the future.
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Post by jbuck919 » Sat Mar 26, 2005 7:53 am

Corlyss_D wrote:
Barry Z wrote:I know that as was the case in the Cold War, the U.S. has to sometimes do things and deal with people that it wouldn't do under the best of circumstances. And there have been times when those instances have come back to haunt us (Saddam for example). Will this be one of those times? If radicals somehow get power in Pakistan, will we regret this sale?
I don't see that we have any other choice. With all due respect to Larry Pressler, a politician I have always respected, what Pakistan is or was besides our ally in monitoring the Afghanistan/Pakistan border and working with us in the effort to root out the Murder, Inc., faction of Islam is quite irrelevant for the time being. This sale does several things: it keeps Pakistan on par with India in terms of sexy weapons systems as a way of promoting the so-far productive detente between Pakistan and India; it keeps the Pakistanis from buying European technology for the same sorts of weapons systems; and it gives US firms the business. The denial of business to the Europeans has the added benefit of keeping the pressure up on their reluctant glacial creeping away from the bloated welfare statism that is destroying the French and German economies and dragging on the EU. Our shotgun wedding with the Pakistanis may be a marriage of convenience but it's absolutely critical to our plans to stabilize the region. We have to try regardless of the possibility that we may be sorry in the future.
I am absolutely in awe at how you made a connection between selling warplanes to Pakistan and the alleged deleterious effect on the European economy of supposed welfare-stateism.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Sat Mar 26, 2005 8:34 am

jbuck919 wrote:I am absolutely in awe at how you made a connection between selling warplanes to Pakistan and the alleged deleterious effect on the European economy of supposed welfare-stateism.
I would like to claim that it's an original insight, but this issue of France and Germany selling large expensive weapons systems to bail themselves out of their current downward economic spiral has been at the root of the following incidences in the last 4 years:

1. The disasterous spectacle of the UN security council's non-vote on Iraq in 2003.
2. The 3 Blind Mice trying to seduce Iran away from its nuclear weapons program.
3. The recent loudly proclaimed sales to China, which Bush persuaded the Europeans not to do just last week.
4. The Iranian Spy-in-the-Sky that stunned the Israelis last fall.

If it weren't so early, I'm sure could think of others. It's been fairly widely known in foreign policy circles and reported on in the Economist fairly regularly.

And it's not supposed welfare-statism, John. It's the real deal.
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Post by jbuck919 » Sun Mar 27, 2005 2:21 am

Corlyss_D wrote: And it's not supposed welfare-statism, John. It's the real deal.
I suppose I shouldn't have used the word "supposed." Like you, I grew up with the notion that "welfare" is a dirty word. In fact, the notion that a nation, once it reaches a certain level of prosperity, takes care of all of its own is one of the noblest ideas ever conceived. Does it occasionally foster dependency? Of course. So what?

Germany has an outrageous unemployment rate, something like ten percent, but it is extremely far from a country full of wastrels who collect their monthly welfare check. It is a peaceful and prosperous nation where serious crime and the extremes of existence brought about by entrenched poverty are almost unknown. There is no such thing as a slum in Germany. When the US can say that, then you can tell me that "welfare state" is a nasty thought.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Sun Mar 27, 2005 4:40 am

jbuck919 wrote: Like you, I grew up with the notion that "welfare" is a dirty word.
Well, I didn't understand what a welfare state was until 15 years ago. I always thought it was kind of an impossibility because nobody wants to work and you can't have everyone on "welfare." Then I found out how the Europeans did it, and damn! You can have everyone on welfare by creating a society where businesses are highly taxed, entry requirements are mind-boggling, regulation of industry stiffles initiative, and everyone thinks the job of the state is to guarantee them a comfortable income for life without their having to do anything for it. Nigel can correct me if I'm way off here, but I read about it every week in the Economist, and often in the journals I subscribe to.
In fact, the notion that a nation, once it reaches a certain level of prosperity, takes care of all of its own is one of the noblest ideas ever conceived. Does it occasionally foster dependency? Of course. So what?
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: You don't understand how it works, John. Here's how it works: It's not "the safety net" for the weakest members of the society because as soon as there is a benefit engineered for one segment of society, other segments want some too. And then the outer margins of eligibility start creeping outward to include more and more people. Next thing you know, everyone is in! And then the cycle starts all over again with some new benefit. And on and on until you have Germany and France.
Germany has an outrageous unemployment rate, something like ten percent,
Over 12%. France is 10+%
but it is extremely far from a country full of wastrels who collect their monthly welfare check.
Um, what do you call two years of guaranteed unemployment? Limited work hours? Lifetime of health care? Managed economy that is so far in the hole that they have to keep asking for extensions of the EU financial reforms?
It is a peaceful
Won't be for long if they don't start expanding industry to provide jobs for the old East Germany and start making plans to import even more labor, which will require more robust economic growth, reduction of entry requriements and regulations and taxes and . . . . The future is not a pretty picture for them.
and prosperous nation
Hardly and not for long. The demographics are going to kill 'em before they ever get their financial problems under control.

where serious crime and the extremes of existence brought about by entrenched poverty are almost unknown.
Platitudes, John. You've swallowed the Koolaid. They're all living in stultified genteel poverty.
There is no such thing as a slum in Germany. When the US can say that, then you can tell me that "welfare state" is a nasty thought.
Yeah, well, they don't have the immigration we do, the openness, or the upward mobility. Our answer to slums is incentives to be ambitious and creative, low entry requirements, small business loans, low regulation, low taxes, and home ownership, which often subsidizes start-ups. Home ownership in Europe is something like 25-30% compared to near 60% here. In this country, 60%+ think they are middle class. We produce more millionaires and billionaires every year than any country in Europe bar none, and almost as many as Europe in toto produces. The Germans wish they had an economy and productivity and prosperity even close to us.
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Ted

Post by Ted » Sun Mar 27, 2005 5:37 pm

Before the State Dept announces the sale to Pakistan they give god knows what kind of “gifts/promises” to India before a single Op-Ed piece has been written.
A few F-16 to a country that already has thermonuclear weapons does not alarm me.

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Post by Barry » Sun Mar 27, 2005 6:12 pm

Corlyss_D wrote: .... Home ownership in Europe is something like 25-30% compared to near 60% here. In this country, 60%+ think they are middle class. We produce more millionaires and billionaires every year than any country in Europe bar none, and almost as many as Europe in toto produces....
Without getting into the economics of it, not everyone necessarily looks at the above as indicating the U.S. is a better place to live. I would have loved to have gone on renting apartments. Unfortunately, the cost of rents in the Center City Philadelphia area was going up fast enough for me to realize I wouldn't be able to afford to live where I want to in a few years if I didn't buy something. So I bought a condo. But I've got as much disappointment that I couldn't continue renting as I do excitement over owning my residence. And I take pride in not owning a car and being able to get where I need to go on foot or via public transportation. When in Amsterdam, I admired the lifestyle. People got places on bikes. Many don't own cars and I imagine they get by with one television (the horror). There is something to be said for a society where there is less poverty and a more relaxed pace, even if it means there are also fewer millionaires.

I understand many in the U.S. don't agree with me on that. It's a question of priorities and what kind of lifestyle we want and respect. This can also be tied in with the unwillingness of Americans to conserve, drive more fuel-efficient cars, etc.
Last edited by Barry on Sun Mar 27, 2005 7:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by A.LaPorta » Sun Mar 27, 2005 7:46 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:Yeah, well, they don't have the immigration we do, the openness, or the upward mobility. Our answer to slums is incentives to be ambitious and creative, low entry requirements, small business loans, low regulation, low taxes, and home ownership, which often subsidizes start-ups. Home ownership in Europe is something like 25-30% compared to near 60% here. In this country, 60%+ think they are middle class. We produce more millionaires and billionaires every year than any country in Europe bar none, and almost as many as Europe in toto produces. The Germans wish they had an economy and productivity and prosperity even close to us.
They may wish they had our economic productivity, but they are not willing to give up their society to get it. People in the US have bigger cars, bigger houses, more widescreen TV's, etc. They also spend more time working than people in any developed country. Germans have smaller cars, smaller houses, smaller TV sets, but they have more time to spend with their families, more universal access to health care, more universal access to education and a society where the poor are protected from falling below a certain threashold of material need. Their standard of living is positively impacted by these factors, even though they have less cash in their pockets as a result. They understand that they would have to give that up to attain the growth of the US and they're not willing to. I don't see why they should be subject to ridicule because they have different priorities than the US.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Sun Mar 27, 2005 8:44 pm

A.LaPorta wrote:I don't see why they should be subject to ridicule because they have different priorities than the US.
I didn't think I was ridiculing them, so much as ridiculing the idea that they have it better than we do by any measurable standard. That's just me, A. I listen to people lusting after the European life style for Americans as though it weren't a doomed illusion, which is exactly what it is. Europe bet on the wrong horse and now they will pay for it. Stick around for another 20-30 years. You'll get to watch the whole thing implode on TV.
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A.LaPorta

Post by A.LaPorta » Sun Mar 27, 2005 9:09 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
A.LaPorta wrote:I don't see why they should be subject to ridicule because they have different priorities than the US.
I didn't think I was ridiculing them, so much as ridiculing the idea that they have it better than we do by any measurable standard. That's just me, A. I listen to people lusting after the European life style for Americans as though it weren't a doomed illusion, which is exactly what it is. Europe bet on the wrong horse and now they will pay for it. Stick around for another 20-30 years. You'll get to watch the whole thing implode on TV.
You only acknowledge measurable happiness? I don't know about you, but most things that make me happy are hard to measure.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Mar 28, 2005 2:10 am

A.LaPorta wrote:You only acknowledge measurable happiness? I don't know about you, but most things that make me happy are hard to measure.
Oh, you know the usual things: gdp, average income, economic opportunity, # of cds per household, that stuff. I think the assumption is that all those things lead to prosperity, a higher standard of living, more money, without which theoretically at least happiness is more difficult to attain. I'll bet whatever makes you happy would be a lot more difficult to get without money or with much less.

I probably would love the same things about Amsterdam that Barry does. A friend told me about it 35 years ago and it sounds wonderful. It could never be home to me tho'. Italy might, but not any north country.

Americans work longer hours by choice - we have many more self-employed here. That's also seen as the route to fortune, not working for someone else.
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A.LaPorta

Post by A.LaPorta » Mon Mar 28, 2005 2:20 am

Ever hear the expression "time is money?" I know a lot of people who seem to have trouble enjoying their prosperity just because they spend so much time working and have no time to enjoy life.

And I know a lot of Americans who work long hours not by choice. Your company decides it needs to up productivity, which means the fire a quarter of your department and the remaining three quarters do the work. If it is your choice not to work like a slave, then you are part of the one quarter that gets fired.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Mar 28, 2005 2:35 am

A.LaPorta wrote:Ever hear the expression "time is money?" I know a lot of people who seem to have trouble enjoying their prosperity just because they spend so much time working and have no time to enjoy life.

And I know a lot of Americans who work long hours not by choice. Your company decides it needs to up productivity, which means the fire a quarter of your department and the remaining three quarters do the work. If it is your choice not to work like a slave, then you are part of the one quarter that gets fired.
I know it's a complex issue.
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Post by Kevin R » Mon Mar 28, 2005 3:05 am

Corlyss_D wrote:

Well, I didn't understand what a welfare state was until 15 years ago. I always thought it was kind of an impossibility because nobody wants to work and you can't have everyone on "welfare." Then I found out how the Europeans did it, and damn! You can have everyone on welfare by creating a society where businesses are highly taxed, entry requirements are mind-boggling, regulation of industry stiffles initiative, and everyone thinks the job of the state is to guarantee them a comfortable income for life without their having to do anything for it. Nigel can correct me if I'm way off here, but I read about it every week in the Economist, and often in the journals I subscribe to.

Cor,

Isn't that the truth. Look at the economic difficulties of European nations overburdened by regulation and high tax rates. Such factors (in a misguided attempt at cradle to grave welfare) are a drag on the economy. Look at how the US compares to these collectivist economies. Recent numbers by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development showed the absolutely dismal GDP growth in Europe (which is not a recent trend). Another staggering statistic was long-term unemployment (longer than 12 months). In the US the % of people unemployed for a year was below 9%, compared to 23% for Eng, almost 34% for France and almost 48% for Germany. And yet Europeans herald the superiority of their economic system. These countries have yet to learn the vital lessons of Hayek (on the evils of collectivism) and something tells me it will be a long time before they do.
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Post by Kevin R » Mon Mar 28, 2005 3:11 am

Barry Z wrote:
There is something to be said for a society where there is less poverty and a more relaxed pace, even if it means there are also fewer millionaires.
Barry,

That is a common myth; there is not less poverty in such nations.
"Free trade, one of the greatest blessings which a government can confer on a people, is in almost every country unpopular."

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Post by Barry » Mon Mar 28, 2005 10:44 am

Perhaps the poverty is more extreme then, Kevin (I don't think they have large areas like the poverty-stricken sections of Appalechia or some of the worst U.S. inner-city slums in western Europe and Canada).

But regardless, even if you leave the poverty part of the equation out of it, as I indicated in my last post, I agree with ALP. It's a question of priorities and values.

If Americans would rather work longer hours and more of them would rather be self-employed (usually REALLY working killer hours) and have a better chance of being extremely wealthy, more power to them. But I don't agree that countries where the people are happy to trade off a little less material wealth (less cars and TVs) and less chance at extreme wealth to have a more relaxed, and less competitive lifestyle have an inferior system. What they have is a different set of priorities.

As I've said on here before, the American dream is not my dream. The measure of a society is not how many millionaires it has in my view.
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Post by Kevin R » Tue Mar 29, 2005 3:04 am

Barry Z wrote:Perhaps the poverty is more extreme then, Kevin (I don't think they have large areas like the poverty-stricken sections of Appalechia or some of the worst U.S. inner-city slums in western Europe and Canada).

But regardless, even if you leave the poverty part of the equation out of it, as I indicated in my last post, I agree with ALP. It's a question of priorities and values.

If Americans would rather work longer hours and more of them would rather be self-employed (usually REALLY working killer hours) and have a better chance of being extremely wealthy, more power to them. But I don't agree that countries where the people are happy to trade off a little less material wealth (less cars and TVs) and less chance at extreme wealth to have a more relaxed, and less competitive lifestyle have an inferior system. What they have is a different set of priorities.

As I've said on here before, the American dream is not my dream. The measure of a society is not how many millionaires it has in my view.
Barry,

But if you look at the material condition of those in America considered to be in poverty (and a few pockets are severe), they are better off than those at the lower end in most European nations.

And I agree as to what Europeans want. If they believe in a never ending welfare state, more power to them. But the collectivist vision that embodies is, in the end, a destructive force of personal liberty and autonomy (not to mention stagnate economic growth).
"Free trade, one of the greatest blessings which a government can confer on a people, is in almost every country unpopular."

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Post by Barry » Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:17 am

Kevin,
The people of western Europe vote for their government and their system. If they felt like they were lacking in personal autonomy and freedom, they'd vote for another system. Again, it's priorities. Having the freedom to become a millionaire isn't the be all to everyone everywhere.

As I've said, I live a fairly European lifestyle (no car; a small one-bedroom condo in the city, which I wish could be an apartment....rush tickets for the orchestra.....a union job with nice hours and lots of vacation). I'm very happy with my lifestyle. Most of the people I know who own nice homes in the suburbs work MUCH harder and longer hours than I do and have to spend a good chunk of their weekend working on things around the house. People here don't take the time to enjoy life and culture (I mean real culture, not the pop culture crap that dominates in the U.S.) like Europeans do. If that's freedom and autonomy, you can have it.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Mar 29, 2005 5:45 pm

Kevin R wrote: Look at how the US compares to these collectivist economies. Recent numbers by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development showed the absolutely dismal GDP growth in Europe (which is not a recent trend).
I know. I check the % with every issue of Economist. We're 4%. They are lucky to get to 2.1.
Another staggering statistic was long-term unemployment (longer than 12 months). In the US the % of people unemployed for a year was below 9%, compared to 23% for Eng, almost 34% for France and almost 48% for Germany.
Holy excrement! I had no idea it was that bad!
And yet Europeans herald the superiority of their economic system. These countries have yet to learn the vital lessons of Hayek (on the evils of collectivism) and something tells me it will be a long time before they do.
No kidding! I guess they were the sacrificial lambs in the anti-Communist era. They had to be thrown some bones to keep them from fleeing into the arms of the Russians. But they will pay the price, no question.
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Post by Kevin R » Thu Mar 31, 2005 2:03 am

Barry,

Well not all Europeans vote for these systems. In collectivist nations, the rights of the individual are sacrificed (in numerous ways) for the "good of the whole" (a slippery term that is often difficult to define). The problem with that is that there are no such things as group rights. There are only individual rights. The state has absolutely no right to infringe on my liberty for some vague notion of state welfare. Hayek stated (Road to Serfdom) that collectivism may take generations to eradicate individual liberty, but that was going to be the end result. Such systems are incompatible with individual liberty.

And if my neighbor doesn't want to enjoy life and culture, that is his prerogative, and none of my concern.
"Free trade, one of the greatest blessings which a government can confer on a people, is in almost every country unpopular."

-Thomas Macaulay

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Post by Barry » Thu Mar 31, 2005 10:29 am

Kevin R wrote:Barry,

Well not all Europeans vote for these systems. In collectivist nations, the rights of the individual are sacrificed (in numerous ways) for the "good of the whole" (a slippery term that is often difficult to define). The problem with that is that there are no such things as group rights. There are only individual rights. The state has absolutely no right to infringe on my liberty for some vague notion of state welfare. Hayek stated (Road to Serfdom) that collectivism may take generations to eradicate individual liberty, but that was going to be the end result. Such systems are incompatible with individual liberty.

And if my neighbor doesn't want to enjoy life and culture, that is his prerogative, and none of my concern.
Kevin,
We're not talking about Stalinist states here. The governments of western Europe and Canada DO have the right to put these policies into place because they were voted into power and made no secret of their policies in order to get into power. The people of these countries have decided what kind of society they want. Of course not all of them voted for such societies. But there are Americans (myself included) who don't like and didn't vote for many aspects of American society and government.

Enough people in other western countries have made the value judgment that enjoying life and culture is more important than working 50-60 hours per week in order to become independently wealthy. It's not a question of whether it's your business if your neighbor doesn't want to enjoy life and culture. People in western Europe and Canada are free to open businesses and work harder. They're also free to vote for conservative governments that will dismantle state programs and lower taxes. Less of them choose to do so than here in the U.S., and I don't find that to be a fault like you apparently do.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

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Post by Kevin R » Thu Mar 31, 2005 4:33 pm

Barry,

I agree that we are not talking about Stalinism, but these governments have rules and regulations that infringe on individual rights. Take the controversy over France's 35 hour work week. Although it is being changed (slightly), there will still be limits on how many hours a person can work (I think the maximum allowed by the EU is about 45???). What right does the state have to establish such a limit? Don't you find that an infringement on economic rights?
"Free trade, one of the greatest blessings which a government can confer on a people, is in almost every country unpopular."

-Thomas Macaulay

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Post by Barry » Thu Mar 31, 2005 4:39 pm

Kevin,
I'm not sure about the details of that rule. Does it apply only to employees? I would imagine business-owners are exempt from such a limit.

But regardless, even if I were to disaproove of it, such a law was enacted by a fairly-elected government and I would be very surprised to learn that they kept their desire for such a policy hidden while campaigning. Yet they were still elected.

There are many in this country who consider it unjust to have millions of people without medical coverage.

The members of both types of societies have decided what their priorities are and have elected their governments accordingly.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

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Post by Corlyss_D » Fri Apr 01, 2005 12:53 am

Barry Z wrote:We're not talking about Stalinist states here. The governments of western Europe and Canada DO have the right to put these policies into place because they were voted into power and made no secret of their policies in order to get into power.
It's one thing to vote in policies; it's quite another to pay for them. My point has always been it's a pipe dream because they won't give up the policies and they can't pay for them either. It's not a matter of taxing the already overtaxed industries and their miniscule wealthy. It's a matter of they need to expand their economies to produce the money necessary to kick the can down the road and they simply can't do it with their current policies. And they can't change the policies because the people have bought into the idea that the job of the state is to take care of them in the style they have become accustomed to for . . . ever. And it's only going to get worse as the population ages and they resist immigration. It's an exquisite dilemma. Their only salvation is to do things they can't get the public to vote for.
The people of these countries have decided what kind of society they want.
Yep, they want to be paid for not working.
Enough people in other western countries have made the value judgment that enjoying life and culture is more important than working 50-60 hours per week in order to become independently wealthy.
And they are in the same boat.
People in western Europe and Canada are free to open businesses and work harder.
That's precisely one of Kevin's and my points: no, they are not. The regulations these socialist countries put on industry and start up means it takes an enormous amount of capital, which the ordinary citizen can't get because of the controls on businesses and banking and homeownership. Here in America, we have very liberal lending policies for people to get started in business. We also have extensive homeownership which enables people to borrow against their homes to get the capital to start businesses. In Europe, even the 30% who own their own homes are severely limited in what they can do with the money they borrow against their homes. Many countries prohibit the use of the money you so borrow to invest in businesses, even your own. The French statute that we have been discussing here prohibits people from working more than 35 hours a week. A few months ago the French tried to pass an amendment to the statute that would allow a worker and his employer to agree to a greater number of hours, but it caused riots and demonstrations in the streets, so the government dropped the proposal.
They're also free to vote for conservative governments that will dismantle state programs and lower taxes.
Only technically. There are so many coalition governments with equally balanaced political parties and often unions are so powerful, that even if most publics knew what they needed to do and had the will to vote for it, the political systems there are so interlocked and constipated that change is less of a likelihood than complete collapse.
Less of them choose to do so than here in the U.S., and I don't find that to be a fault like you apparently do.
No offense Barry, but I think you think Europe is just like us without the things you find unpleasant here. It's not. It's far from it. That's why they they is them and we is us. That's why we have the most powerful economy in the world, and they are still struggling to get in the game after 100+ years.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Fri Apr 01, 2005 12:56 am

Barry Z wrote:I'm not sure about the details of that rule. Does it apply only to employees? I would imagine business-owners are exempt from such a limit.
I suppose you mean self-employed by business-owners. They have very low numbers of self-employed workers.
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Post by Barry » Fri Apr 01, 2005 11:16 am

Corlyss_D wrote: No offense Barry, but I think you think Europe is just like us without the things you find unpleasant here. It's not. It's far from it. That's why they they is them and we is us. That's why we have the most powerful economy in the world, and they are still struggling to get in the game after 100+ years.
Corlyss,
I'm aware that there are significant differences between the two societies. And I acknowledge that the U.S. economic approach and emphasis on creating wealth has led to a stronger economy. I also acknowledge that it's a wonderful thing that people from so many different ethnic backgrounds are living together, at this point, peacefully for the most part, in the U.S.

But that push for allowing market forces to determine as much as possible has also led to an absolute trashy culture in many respects (just turn on the TV or see what's playing in your local theaters, turn on the radio and hear what's playing, etc.). On top of that, you also know how I feel about how popular religion is and the "we're number one" brand of patriotism that is rampant in the U.S.

I'm just not sure which I think is better at this point; having a stronger economy or what I view to be a more admirable culture and more secular and less in-your-face society. There are major trade-offs in both obvioiusly.

And on top of that, I also have acknowledged many times that Europe has major foreign policty reality issues and a history, both past and present, of anti-Semitism that would give me great pause before ever considering living on the Continent.

In short, both have their strengths and weaknesses.

I don't know what else to say. My natural makeup seems to favor the European approach to living (without the above-mentioned negative issues of course). But I realize that out of the couple hundred countries on Earth, the U.S. is without doubt one of the best places to be. I'm just not a "true believer" in the American Way like you and Kevin are.
Last edited by Barry on Tue Apr 05, 2005 3:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

Cosima__J

Post by Cosima__J » Fri Apr 01, 2005 11:31 am

I have to agree with you on this one Barry. There are just too many wacko Islamic extremists in Pakistan to give that country military weapons of any kind. Musharrif's grip on office is too unsure what with the various assination attempts. Haven't we learned from past history that the arms we give to a friend today may end up in the wrong hands tomorrow?

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Post by JackC » Fri Apr 01, 2005 1:25 pm

Barry Z wrote:
But that push for allowing market forces to determine as much as possible has also led to an absolute trashy culture in many respects (just turn on the TV or see what's playing in your local theaters, turn on the radio and hear what's playing, etc.).
I can't stand US corporate mass culture either, but it's hard for me to idealize European culture these days. I'm hardly an expert on current "European" pop culture, but some of it seems pretty trashy to me indeed. They seem to be capable of sinking just about as low as we do. (Why do they go to all of OUR movies anyway.)

As to "high culture", it still exists in the US, but is more and more being crowded out by corporate mass pop culture. But European high culture is under seige too.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Fri Apr 01, 2005 3:09 pm

JackC wrote:I can't stand US corporate mass culture either, but it's hard for me to idealize European culture these days. I'm hardly an expert on current "European" pop culture, but some of it seems pretty trashy to me indeed. They seem to be capable of sinking just about as low as we do. (Why do they go to all of OUR movies anyway.)
Their biggest problem vis-a-vis the US is a crippling embarrassment and lack of faith in what we outsiders tend to think of as their greatest contributions to mankind, while trying to exalt what we think of as irrational, humorless anti-American reactions. Their pop culture is touted as a reaction against American culture that they find irresistably attractive and repulsive at the same time. Even their movies are seen as some kind of non-American model that gives refuge to film makers and audiences that don't want to see American style movies.

In short, not to get too psychobabbly about it, they (speaking of them as a cultural entity) lack even the minimal self-confidence necessary for life and propagation. I've heard numerous discussions on this subject, tangential to the US-European relations during and after the Iraq war. When you see poll after poll disclosing what Barry probably thinks of as their rightly self-critical view of their own countries, you see pride eroded by 40 years of rah-rah Europeanism which has depended on relentless destruction of national consciousness. As a Europhile and a devoted student of Western Culture, I shudder at the long-term implications.
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Post by Kevin R » Tue Apr 05, 2005 3:46 pm

Barry,

I see this is another case where you can't convince me I'm wrong and I can't convince you that you're wrong (which, of course, you are :wink: ). I would only say that the problems you (rightly) are concerned about can best be addressed by the market and not the state. I think if you look at the "poor" in Europe compared to the "poor" in the US, you will see a stark difference, because of the liberating effects of free market capitalism.
"Free trade, one of the greatest blessings which a government can confer on a people, is in almost every country unpopular."

-Thomas Macaulay

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Post by Barry » Tue Apr 05, 2005 3:50 pm

Kevin,
I've seen the poor in the U.S. (I attended a university that sits right in the middle of one of the more economically depressed urban areas in the country) and while it's not comparable to the situation in third-world countries to be sure, I find it difficult to believe that the poor in Europe are much worse off.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

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Post by Kevin R » Tue Apr 05, 2005 4:10 pm

Barry Z wrote:Kevin,
I've seen the poor in the U.S. (I attended a university that sits right in the middle of one of the more economically depressed urban areas in the country) and while it's not comparable to the situation in third-world countries to be sure, I find it difficult to believe that the poor in Europe are much worse off.
Barry,

Oh no. Look at living space, the general standard of living, spending, ect, and you see the poor in the US are better off than those in Europe.
"Free trade, one of the greatest blessings which a government can confer on a people, is in almost every country unpopular."

-Thomas Macaulay

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