Thursday, March 1, 2012

Cherry-picking Europe

I write in The American about Europe. The left likes to evaluate the European welfare state by cherry-picking the 3-4 most successful examples, all in the North. This obscures the failure of larger welfare states in southern European. Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and Greece have economic policies which are at least as left-wing as Northern Europe, with less favorable outcomes.


  1. Fantastic column yet again Tino. The role of culture in determining economic outcomes continues to be given short shrift. BTW, you ever going to get on Twitter?

  2. I am too long winded for twitter.

  3. I have long thought that we Americans are more like the Italians than we are like the Swedes.
    Our culture is mostly English but we have some African and even Italian influence. Our immigrants came from far and wide and have altered our culture. For example when the Italian immigrants came here they did not loose all of their higher distrust of fellow man and Government and become like the descendants of the English and surely they did not become Swedes.

  4. Tino,

    Very well articulated. It is amazing to me that the left sees success in a vacuum and excuses the failures as, 'well obviously they did it wrong' or 'they simply did not do enough'

    I believe that culture has more to do with success then most other factors. Heck this can be seen in the United States Education system. Culture dictates emphasis. For Asian Americans there is a strong culture of success in school, this translates to higher test scores, in African American culture there has been historically less emphasis placed on schooling success and the results speak for themselves. This is not to say any 'race' is incapable, in fact I believe it is CULTURE and not RACE that dictates the result set, however culture is most easily defined by race in macro models.

    Might I also not suggest another explanation as well? The Northern states that you mention ALL ( except the UK ) have trade Surpluses ( okay Finland is close to neutral ) The Southern Europe states ALL have trade deficits ( okay except for Belgium )

    Might a LARGE indicator as to whether 'Socialism' works in its initial phases be largely due to the increases in money flowing into the economy via external sources?

    Now that does not mean that other issues over time do not begin to way on ANY social state. The culture changes in several generations and the degradation simply has to do with how large the problem was to begin with. As you mention Sweden has gone from 11% of Swedes living off the Government in the 70's while it is now at 22% in the last decade. Representing a Social acceptance toleration change.

    Regardless I honestly believe, which is always an interesting work to throw around. That socialism CAN work, but that it is a bad system to institutionalize for a myriad of reasons..

    1. oops it was weigh not way that I meant... should have previewed lol.

    2. To overlook cultural aspects of economic performance of a nation is a grave mistake. I would go so far as to propose that economic performance is a direct expression of a nations's culture.

      The most significant aspects of a culture is it's system of essential moral codes. This is the core part of moral that is coded into legislation. Private property rights and work legislation are the most obvious for economic performance.

      The hierarchy of moral valuations of the people will dictate how sofisticate patterns of co-operation can exist. The degree of importance of integrity and honesty vs. individual success and status, will determine how much there is trust among people. The more there is trust the more there is co-operation.

      How important is work, duty and professional progress for an individual, is of paramount importance of the productivity of the workforce. The relative importance of education and knowledge dictates the level of sofistication of practically every aspect of human life. The public health is a strong function of education and knowledge. The level of crime as a whole as well as welfare dependance is a strong function of moral characeter of individuals. In some cultures swindling and theft are acceptable means of living whereas in others they are exclusively forbidden.

      Realizing culture as a multidimensional concept we can consider the genetic make up of the population also as one parameter of the culture. Genetic make up define the temper and IQ of the population. IQ average and variance, which are mainly inherited qualities, dictate how large percentage of individuals possess for example above 130 point IQ in the population. It also determines how many imbecilles < 70 there are in the population. High IQ correlates strongly with good economic performance and health whereas low IQ correlates strongly with all the social ills one can think of.

  5. One of the best columns I have seen in a long time. Keep up the good work.

    Problem is, most Americans won't read it. Even political pundits don't know this, or they try to convince themselves it is not true.

    Another myth I would like to get debunked is that the US is some kind of free market paradise, regardless of the fact that Australia and Switzerland spend much less, and US is now number 10 in both Fraser and Heritage economic freedom rankings. Some of the policies aren't even implemented in Scandinavia, such as rent control.

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