From Mauldin Economics: Things That Make You Go Hmmm…
If you jump to the 27:00 minute mark of this edition of The Charlie Rose Show, you will find an excellent interview with David Stockman about his wonderful recent book, The Great Deformation. Stockman finally gets the platform he deserves with Charlie Rose, and I urge you to watch him explain why the Fed is a perennial “bubble machine”. Stockman’s takedown of Paul Krugman alone is worth the price of admission — though even the normally neutral Rose can’t resist taking a shot at a former establishment insider turned outsider.
Kevin O’Leary, successful businessman, explains that what is needed to bring people out of unemployment poverty is less government.
From The Foundry.
We stumbled upon this article, which appeared originally in an Israeli paper we don’t read and hardly ever quote because its view from the left annoys us, and found it interesting.
The shekel is in the news this week because its soaring value is proving to be a problem for Israel’s exporters. Reuters reports that the appreciation is forcing Israel’s foreign customers to pay more for the country’s exports. Some Israeli companies are moving operations overseas to shelter in countries with weak currencies.
Cheer up, I say. Writing from a country that is in the midst of a historic collapse of its currency, I have long since come to the view that a strong currency is better than a weak one. Even better is a currency that has readily exchangeable into gold (or silver) at a legally defined rate. Could it be that Israel is in circumstances in which it could lead the way back to such a system?
No doubt most economists would say no. After all, Israel’s economy, however healthy, is too small to play a leading role on the world stage. I’m less sure of that. It could well be that the relatively modest size of Israel’s economy could give it the agility to make a move where the giants are too timid to tread. It’s not as if the big economies have a lot of credibility left.
This, in my view, is a central lesson of our times. It has been coming into ever clearer view since 1971, when America defaulted on the dollar, closed the so-called gold window, and launched the world into the age of fiat money, meaning money that has no set value in terms of specie — gold or silver — but must be accepted as a matter of law because of governmental fiat. This was known as the Nixon shock.
Nixon brought to an end the international monetary system that has been set up at the end of World War II at Bretton Woods. That was the New Hampshire resort where the victors in the war set up a gold exchange standard. The Bretton Woods Treaty guaranteed the right of foreign governments to redeem their dollars in gold. The system crashed after America pursued a policy of both guns (Vietnam) and butter (the war on poverty),
The scale of the collapse since then has been breathtaking. A dollar that was fixed by law during the years of Bretton Woods at a 35th of an ounce of gold plunged in value to, a year or so back, but a 1,900th of an ounce of gold. It soared something like 46% since then, but is still valued at less than a 1,300th of an ounce of gold. The shekel, meantime, has soared something like 54% from its low in late 2012.
It has taken decades for the size of the catastrophe of fiat money to come into focus. But with the perspective of more than a generation we can see the impact. My own favorite statistic is that the average unemployment rate in America between the end of World War II and the end of Bretton Woods was 4.7%. Since the end of Bretton Woods, the average rate has been 6.4%.
This has been political hell for President Obama and the liberal politicians who think that they can fight unemployment by ballooning up the Federal Reserve’s balance sheets. Meantime, big American corporations are keeping more than $1 trillion overseas for fear of taxes and regulations at home. This is a trap into which Israel, whatever the Bank of Israel might fret, doesn’t want to fall.
Yet it is the trap that is brought to mind by reports like the one Reuters moved (and the New York Times published). The nub of it is that in an effort to dodge the gyrating shekel Israeli companies are moving operations overseas. Small so far, but not a good sign. It raises the question of whether Israel can use its prosperity and the boon that will come from its vast natural gas discoveries to begin laying in gold and silver specie in reserves?
Israel has eschewed such a strategy in the early decades of the modern state, but that’s no reason not to take the lead now.
So the effects on a small country of achieving a strong currency in the midst of world-wide recession are ambiguous. Is it more of an economic blessing or curse? We look forward to our readers’ comments.
The noun or adjective “non-profit” is a red flag.
The noun “sustainability” and the adjective “sustainable” ring alarm from the pages they’re printed on.
From Canada Free Press we have taken a chunk of an article by Gretchen Olson. It is a timely and urgent warning. It demonstrates for us just how the priests of Leftism – the most terrible religion since Moloch – are using Agenda 21 to grease a smooth path into totalitarian control over the rest of us.
Every item scanned at Wal-Mart, America’s top food reseller with an estimated 25% of market share, supports Agenda 21 through a little known organization called the Global Recording Initiative. The GRI, according to its website, is a non-profit entity which “promotes the use of sustainabilityreporting as a way for organizations to become more sustainable and contribute to sustainable development.”
Wal-Mart is one of the growing number of corporations who attach to the registry, “voluntarily” conforming to the policies of GRI, which is a “collaborating centre” with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The GRI functions as an over-the-shoulder manager, one that tracks compliance — through a school-style alphabet grading system — by companies who submit the proper paperwork and commit to managing their firms under the dictates of Agenda 21. …
Wal-Mart’s compliance is more than just a shallow public relations tactic. In fact, the economic powerhouse is in full submission to the GRI, promising “progress,” “engagement with external stakeholders,” and “making corrections as needed.” Pointedly, the company has added sustainability standards to what are already considered hard-core demands on suppliers. One mandate, for example, requires that “all direct import suppliers source 95 percent of their production from factories that receive one of our two highest ratings in audits for environmental and social practices.”
There they go. The factories have passed the tests of Environmentalists – an order within the Church of Leftism. Passing the tests for “social practices” means they employ people according to racist and sexist criteria to achieve “diversity” (another alarm word).
In other words, Wal-Mart has submitted to the United Nations Church of Political Correctness (UNCPC). It is not alone.
Wal-Mart is only one of thousands of companies bringing its customers into compliance with Agenda 21, most recently promoted as the solution to the now debunked fear of catastrophic man-made climate change. Last year Kroger, in second place for American grocery sales, produced a 69-page sustainability reportfor the GRI, touting it as “the world’s most widely used sustainability reporting framework.” (For the sustainability rankings of major global corporations)
Because Agenda 21 is comprehensive in scope, this is only the first wave of the Global Recording Initiative. Currently the Initiative is targeting mid-sized companies and locally-owned concerns around the globe, pushing them to follow the track laid by 95% of world’s largest companies, who have already begun self-reporting. According to GRI, “developing countries and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) will be given particular attention in progressing on sustainability reporting.” Rural areas are also being brought into the reporting fold, through efforts such as the Sustainable Rural Management project in Spain.
The black friars of the UNCPC are abroad everywhere on their inquisitorial mission, sniffing out heresy. They have more than likely slithered into your local grocery stores, the smallest as well as the largest.
The focus on private enterprise is only one road of many leading toward full implementation of Agenda 21/global sustainability in the past two decades. Much of the progress thus far has been through laws and regulations enacted by governments around the world, including the United States. American citizens became yoked to the plan when President George H.W. Bush enthusiastically assented …
What fools most politicians are! As ignorant and easily gulled as Sunday-school kids.
… in 1992 at the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, where it was first publicly unveiled.
Recently the Global Recording Initiative and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) boosted the force of national governments with the formation of The Group of Friends of Paragraph 47 [of Agenda 21], made up of heads of state from around the world, where “leading governments join together to commit to corporate sustainability reporting”.
To commit “corporate sustainability reporting”, we would say, rather then “commit to” it.
Local governments have also been strongly directed to enter the collective through tendril organizations such as the International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), which began three years before the Rio conference in an effort to press small municipalities into helping stop ozone depletion. According to his online resume, the founder of ICLEI, Jeb Brugmann, “conceived and led promotion of L[ocal] A[genda]21 scaling worldwide through ‘national campaigns’ led by national associations of local government”. …
When a name crops up, make a note of it. [Father] Jeb Brugmann, one of the priests.
Many well-meaning citizens and local media are being drawn … into compliance through “Transform” programs, where a trained organizer facilitates public input sessions with the purported purpose to improve communities.
“Community” shrieks the loudest alarm of all.
Though promoted as grassroots, these efforts do not originate in the targeted cities, nor are participant’s comments used. Instead, the meetings are guided [along] … a “consensus” in line with pre-set goals consistent with “Transforming America Under UN Agenda 21.”
Far from a glob of stagnant bureaucracy, in the past 20 years the United Nations has developed a formidable circle of “volunteers,” including presidents and prime ministers, CEOs of international corporations, titans of global finance, non-profit entities and religious organizations, state and provincial lawmakers and governors, local players and naïve shoppers. Together they are creating and complying with a system that will measure and manage everything from AC batteries to zombie Nerf guns. And the Global Recording Initiative is bringing them all together “voluntarily” under a dark net of paperwork.
Totalitarian control is far easier to achieve now than it was in the Middle Ages when the Catholic Church attempted it (with a high degree of terrible success, even without the helpful technology of today).
Of course these supreme busybodies, these arrogant fools who believe they know what’s best for us, are doing it for the higher good of the (non-existent) “global community”:
The UN is clear about why it continues building a web of human control unprecedented in recorded history. [It declares:-]
An enabling global environment is a necessary condition for the post 2015 agenda [Agenda 21] to succeed, to set the global community on a course toward a 2030 which is more prosperous, more equitable, more peaceful and more just.
More prosperous? The success of Agenda 21 can only mean that everyone – except UNCPC priests and their inquisitors – will be poorer.
More peaceful? Not – we hope – as long as there are individuals who value their freedom and are prepared to fight for it, with guns if necessary. “Peace” is another alarm word in most contexts.
More just? By justice the priests mean wealth redistribution – the lion’s share going to themselves, the remainder doled out as pocket money to the “community”. (Remember that “justice” can in fact apply only to individuals and their personal actions.)
For more about the deeply sinister Agenda 21, put it in our search slot. Become very alarmed. And armed.
Why did the West fail to claim an ideological or moral victory at the apparent end of the Cold War?
Did the West really even win the Cold War?
Diana West asks these questions. She goes on:
If we go back in time and listen, we hear no consensus click over signs that an unalloyed US-led triumph over communist ideology had taken place; nor do we find a sense of national thanksgiving for the forces of good – or, at least, for the forces of better – in their triumph over the forces of a non-abstract evil as manifested in Gulag or KGB or famine or purge history. “Mustn’t gloat” was about as joyous as the White House of Bush No. 41 ever got.
The inability to proclaim victory loud and clear derives from the Christian injunction to be humble.
Almost everything that handicaps our civilization comes from its Christian legacy; and everything that drives it forward to discover and innovate, to attain greater prosperity, longer life – whatever general conditions are needed for such happiness as we may individually be capable of – is the legacy of the Enlightenment, the awakening from the long dark nightmare of “God’s” reign, the rise of reason. It only happened to the West. Reason and its children Science, Freedom, and the United States of America, made the West great; not, as those lovers of the darkness, the god-worshipers, like to intone, the “Judeo-Christian” tradition.
All religions are the ideological enemies of the West. But yes, the Red ones, Communism and its conjoined twin Environmentalism, are the most dangerous at present. They suffuse and weaken our culture and our civilization.
They are the New Christianities.
Diana West is right to diagnose Communism as the transforming blight.
Was the official non-reaction due to that “crisis of confidence” we always hear about — specifically, that “politically correct” failure to believe in the worth of the West? I used to think exactly that and no more. The self-loathing West, failing to see anything of value in itself, was simply unable to take satisfaction, let alone pride, in the demise of its mass-murdering nemesis. “After all,” the PC catechism goes, “Who’s to say the Western system is ‘better’ than any other?”
But there is far more to it. At a certain point, it becomes clear that what we are looking at isn’t a West that fails to appreciate itself anymore, but rather a West that isn’t itself anymore.
Decades of subversion by communist infiltrators and American traitors, collaborators and “useful idiots” have helped make sure of that. So, even if the military enemy went away after the dissolution of the USSR on Christmas Day 1991, our ideological enemy never even had to break step.
Cold Warriors might have prevailed abroad, but America lost the ideological Cold War at home.
This helps explain why our college campuses are outposts of Marx, our centralizing government is increasingly invasive and dictatorial, and our culture is one of metastasizing decadence …
President Obama’s recent speech in Brussels, headquarters of the European Union, reveals the chasm between what we have become and what we are supposed to be. Wearing his “Leader of the Free World” hat, Obama made the case against Russia’s annexation of Crimea by conjuring a Manichaean split between free societies and dictatorships. But does it fit?
According to the president, there are free societies where “each of us has the right to live as we choose,” and there are dictatorships where the rule is “ordinary men and women are too small-minded to govern their own affairs.” Americans confronting government-mandated health insurance would do well to wonder exactly which society they live in.
Obama continued: “In many ways, the history of Europe in the 20th century represented the ongoing clash of these two sets of ideas.” That contest, he explained, swerving wildly away from historical fact, was won “not by tanks or missiles, but because our ideals stirred the hearts” of Eastern Bloc anti-communists.
Omitted was the fact that these revolts were mainly crushed without US aid. Omitted also was the decisive role that President Reagan’s “tanks and missiles” – and missile defense – played in the military contest.
In this post-World War II era, Obama declared, “America joined with Europe to reject the darker forces of the past and build a new architecture of peace.”
Russia’s annexation of Crimea, in sum, is an attack on that “architecture,” and, as such, is bad.
On closer examination, however, that same US-EU “architecture” doesn’t support the free-society paradigm so much as what the president calls the “more traditional view of power” – the one that sees “ordinary men and women (as) too small-minded to govern their own affairs.”
This latter view aptly describes the “soft” tyranny of the EU nanny state, whose early lights, after all, were Belgian Socialists and Nazi sympathizers with visions of a unified pan-European welfare state. In Brussels, their political progeny – unelected bureaucrats – increasingly dictate political and social norms across a “United States of Europe”.
In the US, the medical totalitarianism of Obamacare – not to mention Obama’s serial usurpations of power (not enforcing legislation he doesn’t like, making up and enforcing legislation he does like) – makes it all too clear that this president has a dictatorial temperament.
This is unsurprising when you consider that his political baby, his engine of transformative change – state-mandated health care – happens also to have been an early program of the Bolsheviks, and had as one of its earliest US boosters a noted Stalinist named Henry Sigerist. This seems like as good a moment as any to remind readers that the UN and the IMF, those leading institutions of globalist infrastructure, were fostered into post-World War II existence by a pair of notorious American Soviet agents – Alger Hiss and Harry Dexter White.
Truly, it’s a Red, Red world.
In just five years, Barack Obama has succeeded in crippling the American economy and shattering the world order under the Pax Americana.
Americans feel the grave economic effects of his domestic policies more immediately and urgently, but it is the shattering of the world order that will ultimately change their lives for the worse.
President Vladimir Putin found that “he could annex Crimea without firing a single bullet”. He has good reason to think that “he will later be able to do the same with the rest of Ukraine”. But he will probably “wait until the situation worsens and the impotence of the United States and Europe becomes even more obvious”.
That is part of the picture of the crumbling world order, described here by Professor Guy Millière (of the University of Paris), at Gatestone.
[Putin] apparently considers that he has in front of him a weak and declining America. And the general demeanor of the present U.S. administration tends to prove him right. The United States seem in full retreat. U.S. military budgets continue to fall. For the last five years, Barack Obama spoke of “ending” the wars in which the U.S. was involved, and he depends on Russia’s cooperation for further negotiations with Iran, for dismantling chemical weapons in Syria, and for withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Putin doubtless thinks that Obama will not enter into an open conflict with Russia. Sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States are insignificant, and Putin has every reason to think they will not increase. …
[He] evidently considers Europe even weaker than America. The way European leaders speak and act shows that he is not wrong. For decades, Western European countries relied on the U.S. defense umbrella; none of them today has an army capable of doing more than extremely limited operations. Their foreign policy positions converge with the Obama administration positions. They all have deep economic and financial links with Russia and cannot break these links. The UK needs the Russian capital invested in the City of London. France cannot cancel its Russian warship contract without having to close its shipyards in Saint Nazaire, and without being confronted with major social conflicts. Germany could not survive long without Russian oil and natural gas. Overall, Russia provides thirty percent of the natural gas consumed in Western Europe. Putin apparently thinks that Europe will not enter into an open conflict with Russia. …
Either the West will stand up to Putin, and it will have to do it fast, or Putin will win. Obviously, Europe will not stand up. Polls indicate that Americans are turning sharply toward isolationism.
Showing his view of the situation, Obama recently said that Russia is nothing but a “regional power”, acting “out of weakness”.
What is Russia’s “region”?
Russia covers ten time zones and has borders with Europe, the Muslim Middle East, China, North Korea, and Alaska.
Yes, Russia has a common border with the United States. The US is in its region.
If massing troops on the borders of Ukraine and annexing Crimea are signs of “weakness,” by its evident impotence, America appears even weaker.
Will Putin be content with annexing Crimea, or even the whole of Ukraine?
Several plebiscites have been held since 2006 in Transnistria, a strip of land between Ukraine and Moldova, and each of them has indicated a willingness to join Russia. Estonia includes a large Russian minority, and Russian leaders in Moscow speak of the need to “protect” the Russian population of Estonia.
Estonia is a member of NATO. If Russia were to attack it, NATO, according to Article 5 of its charter, should defend it with prompt military action. But would it? NATO’s military power is America’s military power. Under Obama,what chance is there that America would go to war in Europe?
The world order built after the Second World War was shaped by America. For almost five decades, its goal was to contain Soviet expansion. In the late 1980s, the Soviet empire collapsed, and another phase began: an arrangement in which America would keep the peace and assure the survival of liberty.
America has apparently abrogated that responsibility.
And if Russia is not deterred, other powers will be encouraged to advance their interests abroad by force.
Rogue leaders around the world are watching and drawing their own conclusions.
[The Iranian Ayatollah] Khamenei sees no reason to stop saying that America is the “Great Satan” and that Israel has to be wiped off the map. China sees no reason to hide its intention to occupy the Senkaku/Diyaoyu Islands. Last week, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un fired six missiles into the sea of Japan. [President] Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela reaffirmed its alliance with Russia and positioned Russian missiles in Caracas.
Guy Millière predicts that the chaos will increase and speed up. He sees disaster coming fast.
If we do not see the Ukraine as a warning signal, we could quickly discover that life could now easily enter the state of nature in Hobbes’s Leviathan: [solitary, poor,] nasty, brutish and short.
An Investor’s Business Daily editorial lists some of Obama’s far left appointees, and asks: “Does he have any friends who aren’t crackpots?”
But the question that arises from the list is: Has Obama any friends – has he ever had any friends – who aren’t communists?
America is a country of 320 million people, most of them holding to traditional values. Yet President Obama keeps mining the fringes for his hires. Does he have any friends who aren’t crackpots?
Seriously. The president keeps saying he champions the middle class and its values. But his choices of people to help him run the country are the most extreme in U.S. history, and his second-term nominations are more radical than the first.
No sooner had even some Senate Democrats joined Republicans in voting down a cop killer-coddler for civil rights chief, Debo Adegbile, than Obama sent up a 2nd Amendment-basher for U.S. Surgeon General. Dr. Vivek Murthy advocates doctors asking patients if they keep guns in the home, a shocking invasion of privacy.
Murthy may also have a rocky path ahead of him, but other extreme-left nominees are getting confirmed.
Last year, Obama tapped former Congressional Black Caucus chief Mel Watt as, of all things, head of the federal agency regulating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which together underwrite 90% of all new-home loans. Republicans blocked his confirmation. But thanks to Democrats invoking the “nuclear option” and ending the filibuster, one of the most radical lawmakers in Congress is now effectively running America’s mortgage industry.
Meanwhile, radical racialist Tom Perez runs the Labor Department, where he’s threatening to sue employers who don’t hire minority felons, just like he sued bankers who didn’t make prime loans to un-creditworthy minority borrowers when he was civil rights chief.
You have to be a Kremlinologist to keep track of all the communist-sympathizing cronies orbiting this White House.
Obama’s previous appointees include:
• Valerie Jarrett, his closest White House adviser, whose father-in-law worked closely with Obama mentor and Communist Party leader Frank Marshall Davis in a number of front groups during the Cold War.
• David Axelrod, Obama’s political aide, whose mother worked for a communist organ in New York and whose mentor was Soviet agent David Canter.
• Van Jones, an admitted communist hired by Jarrett as Obama’s green jobs czar.
• Anita Dunn, former White House communications director and Obama’s 2012 foreign policy debate coach, who listed communist dictator and mass murderer Mao Zedong as one of her two favorite philosophers whom “I turn to most” when questions arise.
The other was Mother Teresa. The message: Torture, kill, pray.
• Cass Sunstein, Obama’s regulatory czar who wrote a socialist “bill of rights” and who advocates redistributing wealth through climate-change policy.
• Samantha Power, ambassador to the United Nations, a 9/11 apologist who advised the president to follow a “doctrine of mea culpa” and literally bow down to foreign leaders as atonement for America’s “sins.”
• Anne-Marie Slaughter, former State Department policy chief, who advised the president to apologize for the War on Terror.
• Rashad Hussein, Obama’s Mideast envoy, who once defended a convicted terrorist (then got caught lying about it), and drafted the president’s Cairo speech apologizing for the War on Terror.
• Rose Gottemoeller, Obama’s Soviet-sympathizing chief nuclear arms negotiator, who thinks America is a global “bully” and must unilaterally disarm for the sake of world peace.
• John Trasvina, assistant HUD secretary for fair housing who once headed the radical Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, whose co-founder made racist statements about whites.
• Cecilia Munoz, head of White House domestic policy who used to work for La Raza, the militant Latino group that advocates illegal immigrant rights.
• Erica Groshen, Bureau of Labor Statistics chief who sends her children to Camp Kinderland, aka “Commie Camp,” a communist-founded institution where kids during the Cold War sang Soviet anthems.
• John Holdren, Obama’s science czar, who’s advised surrendering U.S. sovereignty to a “Planetary Regime” that will redistribute the West’s wealth to underdeveloped countries and who once advocated “adding a sterilant to drinking water” to control population.
• Harold Koh, former State Department general counsel who believes in “trans-nationalism” and sees nothing wrong with Shariah law in U.S. courts.
• Tony West, associate attorney general who oversees Gitmo policy, even though he defended al-Qaida and Taliban terrorists including John Walker Lindh, who pleaded guilty to aiding the enemy and fighting U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
So what? In Washington, personnel are policy. These people make the rules we have to live by, from health care to home loans to homeland security.
And these radical political appointees hire other radicals at the bureaucratic levels, where they’ll become entrenched as career federal employees.
In 2008, before Obama was nominated, we warned about his radical associations, including his ties to Davis — a hardened communist with a thick FBI file — at his Honolulu home. His defenders wrote off this Marxist indoctrination as youthful experimentation.
When we pointed out Obama spent 20 years in the pews of an America-bashing preacher, his apologists argued he was merely attending Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s church to burnish his urban bona fides.
When we noted Obama launched his political career in the living room of an unrepentant communist terrorist, his defenders argued Bill Ayers had blossomed into a respected professor, that his days of cheering on the Vietcong and bombing the Pentagon were behind him.
We were told the parade of anti-American subversives Obama came in contact with throughout his life amounted to ancient history. But now we have this roster of radical appointments, a current record that’s harder to explain away and which raises the indefeasible question of whether they’re a reflection of himself.
Only there can be no question about it. He and they are birds of a feather.
The enemy has gained the commanding heights of power.
A majority of those who live in the Crimea have voted to join Russia.
They will likely be the poorer for their decision.
If what remains of Ukraine were to become – as many Ukrainians wish it would – more integrated with the West, it would likely be much better off.
Here is a table, from Wikipedia, comparing average monthly wages. For us, it contains some surprises, eg that Austria (at $3,437) has a higher average wage than the US (at $3,263), and that Germany ($2,720) has a lower national wage than Ireland (at $2,997).
The average wage in the Russian Federation, at $1,215, is lower than that of bankrupt Greece, at $2,300.
It’s a rough figure based on data from 72 countries, omitting some of the world’s poorest nations. All figures are adjusted to reflect variations in the cost of living from one country to another. [PPP = Purchasing Power Parity]
rank Country Monthly average wage $PPP 1 Luxembourg $4,089 2 Norway $3,678 3 Austria $3,437 4 United States $3,263 5 United Kingdom $3,065 6 Belgium $3,035 7 Sweden $3,023 8 Ireland $2,997 9 Finland $2,925 10 South Korea $2,903 11 France $2,886 12 Canada $2,724 13 Germany $2,720 14 Singapore $2,616 15 Australia $2,610 16 Cyprus $2,605 17 Japan $2,522 18 Italy $2,445 19 Iceland $2,431 20 Spain $2,352 21 Greece $2,300 22 New Zealand $2,283 23 South Africa $1,838 24 Malta $1,808 25 Israel $1,804 26 Czech Republic $1,786 27 Croatia $1,756 28 Turkey $1,731 29 Qatar $1,690 30 Hong Kong $1,545 31 Poland $1,536 32 Slovakia $1,385 33 Hungary $1,374 34 Republic of Macedonia $1,345 35 Bosnia & Herzegovina $1,338 36 Estonia $1,267 37 Russian Federation $1,215 38 Jamaica $1,135 39 Lithuania $1,109 40 Argentina $1,108 41 Latvia $1,098 42 Serbia $1,058 43 Chile $1,021 44 Botswana $996 45 Malaysia $961 46 Belarus $959 47 Romania $954 48 Bahrain $917 49 Panama $831 50 Mauritius $783 51 Brazil $778 52 Macau $758 53 Kazakhstan $753 54 Bulgaria $750 55 Colombia $692 56 Ukraine $686 57 China $656 58 Mexico $609 59 Georgia $603 60 Azerbaijan $596 61 Egypt $548 62 Thailand $489 63 Armenia $471 64 Dominican Republic $462 65 Moldova $438 66 Mongolia $415 67 Syria $364 68 Kyrgyzstan $336 69 India $295 70 Philippines $279 71 Pakistan $255 72 Tajikistan $227
Other tables on the page give OECD statistics, and official national statistics. They demonstrate that the US and western Europe – including almost all the EU’s eastern European affiliates – plus Japan, Israel and South Korea, are doing best; better than Russia and very much better than China and India.
There’s a great deal more to be discovered from the figures. They reward examination. (Eg the average gross monthly wage in Cuba is $19!)
But our concern at present is with Russia and Ukraine. We are not above outbursts of Schadenfreude, and we expect to find occasion to indulge in it when the Ukrainians who voted to join Russia complain about their comparative poverty. We confess that we look forward to it.
The institution of marriage throughout the civilized (ie Western) world is on a steep decline from which there is probably no recovery.
“The custom of one man and one woman remaining faithful to each other all through their lives is called monotony.” So goes the schoolboy howler. And we suspect the boy was on to something.
Google “marriage in decline” and you’ll find a multitude of theories as to why fewer people are getting married these days than say fifty years ago. (None of them includes that kid’s sharp diagnosis.)
But is the decline a good or a bad thing for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?
Here is an article by Professor Walter Williams, who thinks the destruction of the black family has sad consequences. He blames the welfare state, not only for that but for the spoiling of black culture generally.
Criticism of the welfare state is music to our ears, so we quote him at length.
People in the media and academia are mostly leftists hellbent on growing government and controlling our lives. Black people, their politicians and civil rights organizations have become unwitting accomplices. The leftist pretense of concern for the well-being of black people confers upon them an aura of moral superiority and, as such, gives more credibility to their calls for increasing government control over our lives.
Ordinary black people have been sold on the importance of electing blacks to high public office. After centuries of black people having been barred from high elected office, no decent American can have anything against their wider participation in our political system. For several decades, blacks have held significant political power, in the form of being mayors and dominant forces on city councils in major cities such as Philadelphia, Detroit, Washington, Memphis, Tenn., Atlanta, Baltimore, New Orleans, Oakland, Calif., Newark, N.J., and Cincinnati. In these cities, blacks have held administrative offices such as school superintendent, school principal and chief of police. Plus, there’s the precedent-setting fact of there being 44 black members of Congress and a black president.
What has this political power meant for the significant socio-economic problems faced by a large segment of the black community? Clearly, it has done little or nothing for academic achievement; the number of black students scoring proficient is far below the national average. It is a disgrace — and ought to be a source of shame — to know that the average white seventh- or eighth-grader can run circles around the average black 12th-grader in most academic subjects. The political and education establishment tells us that the solution lies in higher budgets, but the fact of business is that some of the worst public school districts have the highest spending per student. Washington, D.C., for example, spends more than $29,000 per student and scores at nearly the bottom in academic achievement.
Each year, roughly 7,000 — and as high as 9,000 — blacks are murdered.
Ninety-four percent of the time, the murderer is another black person. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, between 1976 and 2011, there were 279,384 black murder victims. Contrast this with the fact that black fatalities during the Korean War (3,075), Vietnam War (7,243) and wars since 1980 (about 8,200) total about 18,500. Young black males have a greater chance of reaching maturity on the battlefields than on the streets of Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Oakland, Newark and other cities. Black political power and massive city budgets have done absolutely nothing to ameliorate this problem of black insecurity.
Most of the problems faced by the black community have their roots in a black culture that differs significantly from the black culture of yesteryear. Today only 35 percent of black children are raised in two-parent households, but as far back as 1880, in Philadelphia, 75 percent of black children were raised in two-parent households — and it was as high as 85 percent in other places. Even during slavery, in which marriage was forbidden, most black children were raised with two biological parents.
The black family managed to survive several centuries of slavery and generations of the harshest racism and Jim Crow, to ultimately become destroyed by the welfare state. The black family has fallen victim to the vision fostered by some intellectuals that, in the words of a sociology professor in the 1960s, “it has yet to be shown that the absence of a father was directly responsible for any of the supposed deficiencies of broken homes.” The real issue to these intellectuals “is not the lack of male presence but the lack of male income.” That suggests that fathers can be replaced by a welfare check. The weakened black family gives rise to problems such has high crime, predation and other forms of anti-social behavior.
The cultural problems that affect many black people are challenging and not pleasant to talk about, but incorrectly attributing those problems to racism and racial discrimination, a need for more political power, and a need for greater public spending condemns millions of blacks to the degradation and despair of the welfare state.