Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 26, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

COMPETITIVENESS....The World Economic Forum's latest league tables have dropped the United States from first to sixth in global competitiveness. But why? What could we possibly have done to merit this drop? Let's see:

The WEF said the best performing countries were distinguished by their competent economic stewardship....

Oh. Right. I guess that would do it.

"US competitiveness is threatened by large macroeconomic imbalances, particularly rising levels of public indebtedness associated with repeated fiscal deficits," the report said.

"Its relative ranking remains vulnerable to a possible disorderly adjustment of such imbalances."

Thanks, Republican Party!

Kevin Drum 11:31 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (156)

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Comments

Well, by my lord and master George, we're still Number 1 in my book.

Posted by: (fake)rdw on September 26, 2006 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

What do they know. Those tax cut driven deficits have made us all rich. Rich I tell you.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 26, 2006 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Since the term great depression has already been used to describe republican economics, what are we going to call the coming depression? How about the neoconomy.

Posted by: razorboy on September 26, 2006 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

We could still be first if we hadn't taken on the burden of defending civilization from the Islamofascists.

The Swiss and the Finns owe their prosperity to our foresightedness. They should be grateful.

Posted by: Al on September 26, 2006 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

A very strange mix of mostly unregulated states & uber regulated states, with not much inbetween.

Posted by: DRR on September 26, 2006 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

What do they know. Those tax cut driven deficits have made us all rich. Rich I tell you.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 26, 2006 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

Defending civilization? Bwahahaha. The neocons let 9/11 happen. How is that defending civilization?

Posted by: razorboy on September 26, 2006 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

You know the GOP is incompetent when you see something like this. We already know they're not going to make us smarter, healthier, more democratic, or more decent or humane. But when they fail even at what they're supposed to be concerned about - capitalism, competition, and so on - well, what can you say?

Posted by: Alek Hidell on September 26, 2006 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

America can do better........... What the hell is Bushco thinking......time for a course change. There's a terrific story regarding how FDR changed the course that Hoover had set the country on...and it worked! NO FEAR!

http://www.epluribusmedia.org/features/2006/200609_FDR_intro.html

here

Posted by: avahome on September 26, 2006 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

We could still be first if we hadn't taken on the burden of defending the elite rich from taxes.

The Walton's and the Cheney's owe their prosperity to our foresightedness. They should be grateful.

Posted by: Al on September 26, 2006 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

We ran a $60 billion a month trade deficit last year & were ranked #1 for competitiveness?

Yeah, right.

Posted by: Downpuppy on September 26, 2006 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

I'm a bit suspicious of any math that puts Switzerland, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark ahead of the U.S. in world competitiveness. Good grief, can anyone even think of something made in Finland? What exactly does "competitive" mean in this context?

Posted by: barbara on September 26, 2006 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

"Good grief, can anyone even think of something made in Finland?"

Ever used a Nokia phone?

Posted by: Ben on September 26, 2006 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Barbara,

Do me a favor. Walk into Best Buy and see how much consumer electronic equipment you can find that is made in America. Then walk into your favorite clothing store and see how much clothing you can find that was made in America. I can go on with other catagories of manufactured goods but I won't.

Posted by: Stuart on September 26, 2006 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

I'm having a hard enough time finding things made in the USA, let alone Finland...

Posted by: Ack Ack Ack Ack on September 26, 2006 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Why do the compilers of this study hate America? They could have no other motive for releasing such a thing so close to the most important mid-term election in recent history.

And thiose Generals speaking out against Dear Leader and putting the lie top his, well, lies? Traitors to a man. Off with their heads.

(Before anyone gets exercised, put on your sarcasm detecting lenses.)

(barbara - I believe Nokia is a Finnish company, but I could be wrong. But even if I am right, cell phone exports do not an economy bolster.)

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 26, 2006 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Barbara: do you own a Tivo? Do you have Wi-Fi in your house? Do you own a Motorola cell phone? If so, there's a copy of Linux inside, and of course Linux was created by a Finn (Linus Torvalds).

Posted by: Joe Buck on September 26, 2006 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Good grief, can anyone even think of something made in Finland?

Nokia.

Posted by: Stefan on September 26, 2006 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Sure, the economy isn't so competitive, but in the rankings that really matter - corporate profits, executive salaries, and low low tax rates for the wealthy - the Republican party has delivered in spades.

Posted by: S Ra on September 26, 2006 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and I'm highly amused to see how high democratic-socialist Sweden ranks, but I'm not at all surprised, having been to Stockholm. It's a hugely prosperous and successful country, with a low unemployment rate that isn't achieved by the trick of having a huge prison population and enormous inefficiency in the health care industry.

Posted by: Joe Buck on September 26, 2006 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

If I am not mistaken, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark are the world's largest producers of tin foil. The commenters here, and elsewhere around the lefty blogosphere, have pushed those economies to the top of the list. Plus, they make a lot of vibrators, and you need those when you sit in your parents' basement 24 hours a day spouting nonsense on your computer.

Posted by: Billy Bob Shranzburg on September 26, 2006 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

If I am not mistaken, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark are the world's largest producers of tin foil. The commenters here, and elsewhere around the lefty blogosphere, have pushed those economies to the top of the list. Plus, they make a lot of vibrators, and you need those when you sit in your parents' basement 24 hours a day spouting nonsense on your computer.

I laughed.

Posted by: Ack Ack Ack Ack on September 26, 2006 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Your cell phone may be a Finnish product (ever hear of a little company called Nokia?) Note also that Nokia does a lot of infrastructure products that you never even think of existing (I used to work at Lucent and later Motorola, and believe me, both companies are well-aware of how competitive the Finns are).

Just because you're ignorant of what the rest of the world makes doesn't mean the world doesn't make it.

Posted by: don hosek on September 26, 2006 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

I'm a bit suspicious of any math that puts Switzerland, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark ahead of the U.S. in world competitiveness.

Not at all. Sweden, to use just one example, saw its real GDP growth rise from 2.7% in 2005 to a projected level of 4.1% this year. It's home to a host of companies, such as Telia, Ericsson, AstraZeneca, ABB, SKF and Volvo, who are doing a record-breaking export business, and is otherwise extremely strong in technology and R&D. It runs a budget and current accounts surplus, has generous and comprehensive universal healthcare coverage, and has an English-speaking, highly educated, computer-literate workforce.

Barbara, though, does us a favor, as she illustrates an example of the blinkered "if it's America it has to be number one by definition" so common in our increasingly benighted country.

Posted by: Stefan on September 26, 2006 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

And it all started in 1952.

The University of Kansas Jayhawks, winners of the NCAA basketball title, and the Peoria Caterpillers, winners of the AAU championship combined forces and won the Olympic basketball crown in Helsinki, Finland.

Why, the locals were so thrilled by the performances of these mid-westerners, that they cried, "We can do better" - And they have.

Damn, I love to tie Kansas into anything even if it makes no sense.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 26, 2006 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

From the article: Risks attached to the large US trade and fiscal deficits prompted its fall. [emphasis added]

Our trade deficit is about twice our fiscal deficit. Why doesn't Kevin (or almost anyone else here) pick up on this? Talk about ignoring the elephant in the living room.

Posted by: alex on September 26, 2006 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone else get the feeling Al's heart just isn't in it anymore? That comment was just futile. Has even Al lost the will to defend the indefensible?

Posted by: cunning linguist on September 26, 2006 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

Dear Leader...

(Before anyone gets exercised, put on your sarcasm detecting lenses.)

No need for the clarification. Not even the trolls here use the term "Dear Leader."

Well, maybe fake Al from time to time.

Posted by: Winda Warren Terra on September 26, 2006 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Just another partisan attack triggered by Bush Derangement Syndrome.

Don't these idiots know that today's Americans are far more prosperous than they were only 6 years ago under the opressive tax regime of Bill Clinton? The Boskin Comission used their magical hypnotic powers to convince ALL economists that the CPI overstates inflation by 1% or more. Why don't these idiots consult some real economists? Also, they didn't take into account that most offices have upgraded their cubicle furniture, which is yet another uncounted boost to American workers' income. Today's American workers are so much better off under Republican rule, and they don't even realize it. Ungrateful greedy little turds, listening to the Communist propaganda from the DNC/Soros media-money machine.

Posted by: (fake)GOP on September 26, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

"possible disorderly adjustment of such imbalances"

Translation: Massive Inflation

Time to invest in inflation protected assets.

Posted by: MLE on September 26, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

cunning,
No, I'm confident al is going to explain in short order the Grand Unified Theory as to why W is responsible for nothing and it's all the Slickster's fault. al is, above all, consistent. Perfectly, predictably, without exception consistent. In that regard, he is exactly like his president, and probably for the same reason: he cannot absorb information that would cause him to think about his memorized talking points. Hence, there is no need to ever evaluate them, and consistency is achieved.

Posted by: nightshift66 on September 26, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Finland's excellent economic performance has been attributed to its excellent education system, its sophisticated infrastructure and a national consensus on problem solving.

I'll always remember being shepherded through one of Moscow's airports by a very sharp Finn whose command of Russian enabled me to get some lunch before a flight. His English was perfect, of course, and he was also fluent in German.

In an era of increasing globalization, we would do well to check out the education systems in Europe, if we hope to have an internationally competitive workforce. Wouldn't it be great if our high schools turned out graduates with enough Spanish fluency to enable them to compete for jobs anywhere in the Spanish-speaking world?

Alas, the Neanderthals like barbara will only shout "English as the official language!!!"

Posted by: Wonderin on September 26, 2006 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Who is the World Economic Forum and why should I believe them?

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 26, 2006 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Just noticed that a company named IKEA is hiring 10,000 people per year as it expands around the world. It is an American company right?

Posted by: Yukoner on September 26, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter ex-liberal: *sticks fingers in ears* la la la la! I can't hear you! La la la la la!

Posted by: Stefan on September 26, 2006 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

You people have obviously missed the most important thing: France is not on the list. As long as we're better than the French, what else matters to the Right?

Posted by: Doug-E-Fresh on September 26, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Who is the World Economic Forum and why should I believe them?

Yeah, good point...anything with "World" in the title is bound to be a minion of Kofi (or is that Kaffir?)

Gotta go...going black helicopter-spotting.

Posted by: Neanderthal on September 26, 2006 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

We could still be first if we hadn't taken on the burden of defending civilization from the Islamofascists.

The Swiss and the Finns owe their prosperity to our foresightedness. They should be grateful.

So is Al saying that if we didn't start the Iraq war we could be number one economically again? Sure sounds like it to me. Wow that was a dumb choice wasn't it. Call me selfish but I'll take a booming econonmy, free heathcare and higher education over a bloody quagmire anytime.

Posted by: Adventuregeek on September 26, 2006 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, but we have creationists and republicans, and we're also #1 in people who are convinced we are #1. All that's got to be worth something. Surely. Gottabe. Otherwise I'd be depressed.

Posted by: N.Wells on September 26, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

we got beat out by singapore, where they beat their teenagers with canes.

Posted by: nova silverpill on September 26, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Standard of living is not always accurate on GDP.

First, they have socialized education through grad school, health care, and death benefits.

Subtract what an American would pay for those from the GDP column. The culture is also different. They are well fed, breathing clean air, with decent polite neighbors with gorgeous scenery, with low crime rates. So, middle class people there aren't buying HDTV players. I can guarantee you that they have more money in the banks than middle class americans. They are economically secure. One health care crisis, job layoff won't toss them out onto the street.

Posted by: trifecta on September 26, 2006 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

I can hear the Rethuglicans now. "Golly, those deficits are so bad, even FINLAND is ahead of us. Whatever can we do?? Gosh, I hate to suggest it because we dearly love those universal social programs like SS and Medicare, but I'm afraid we will have to cut benefits...Gee whiz, there's no other way..."

Posted by: sd on September 26, 2006 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Standard of living is not the same as income per capita. Let's say, hypothetically, that New York and Houston have the same income per capita, but Houston has three times the rate of street crime; which do you think has the higher standard of living?

Or, let's suppose that NY's fantastic trains mean everyone can get to work for $1 a day in 20 minutes, while everyone in Houston has a 90-minute drive to work and $20 a day parking charges - who's got the higher standard of living?

Or, to pick a more likely example, what if Americans earn more than Swedes, but pay far more for health care?

Posted by: ajay on September 26, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

We have the choice in this country. China and India are growing quickly. We could decide to go for universal health care, which would actually be cheaper. We could quit lubricating the wealthy's tax vaults, and instead use the taxes from them to pay down the debt and invest in high tech.

You know, things like nanotechnology, alternative energy, things that these other countries find worthwhile.

Posted by: trifecta on September 26, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

I can hear the Rethuglicans now. "Golly, those deficits are so bad, even FINLAND is ahead of us. Whatever can we do?? Gosh, I hate to suggest it---because everyone knows we dearly love those universal social programs like SS and Medicare, but I'm afraid we will have to cut benefits...Gee whiz, there's no other way..."

Posted by: sd on September 26, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

"You don't come into my country; you don't come into my congressional district and you don't condemn my competiveness," Rep. Charles Rangel, D-New York, scolding the World Economic Forum.

Posted by: abs on September 26, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

we got beat out by singapore, where they beat their teenagers with canes.

Contrary to what you liberals think, I believe that America CAN learn valuable lessons from the rest of the world. We should learn from Singapore, where they haven't spared the rod and spoiled the child. Hence they are still productive.

Posted by: Al on September 26, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

From the World Economic Forum (WEF) Website:

Incorporated as a foundation in 1971, and based in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Economic Forum is impartial and not-for-profit; it is tied to no political, partisan or national interests. The World Economic Forum is under the supervision of the Swiss Federal Government.

And Switzerland is #1. Interesting.

You know what's really interesting? How deep Kevin D. and the rest of the rank and file have to dig to keep this endless string of garbage coming.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on September 26, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

before you know it, everybody will be emigrating from the US to Singapore, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Switzerland.

Are we still the world's favorite target for foreign direct investment?

Kidding aside, I am glad to see Japan rise in the rankings. Their enormous debt was worrying.

Posted by: republicrat on September 26, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

We should learn from Singapore, where they haven't spared the rod and spoiled the child. Hence they are still productive.
Posted by: Al on September 26, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Al, I'm an American Worker, and I'm very offended by this remark. This is people's lives, and the future security of our country and it's citizens. Not some sick bondage and torture fantasy. Go move to the Marianas and get yourself a sex slave to spank and take out your frustrations. Take your Republicans with you. The rest of us will stay here and build a better future together.

Posted by: os on September 26, 2006 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Scandanavian countries are very nice places to live, but their standard of living below the US. Here's a chart of gross domestic product per capita

GDP is not equal to standard of living, it is a measure of economic activity.

Please read books.

Posted by: Windhorse on September 26, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

"Are we still the world's favorite target for foreign direct investment?"

No. The UK passed the US last year.

Posted by: kb on September 26, 2006 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

os (American worker) if you are so productive, what are you doing reading and commenting on a liberal website on a weekday afternoon? How do you expect me to take you seriously?

Posted by: Al on September 26, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Scandanavian countries are very nice places to live, but their standard of living below the US. Here's a chart of gross domestic product per capita

You fucking retard, "gross domestic product per capita" is not the same thing as "standard of living." Stop cherrypicking data you don't understand.

You know why the Scandinavian countries are very nice places to live? -- it's because they're rich. It's the economic prosperity that contributes in large part to their liveability.

Posted by: Stefan on September 26, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Rather odd they would drop the USA from 1st to 6th and cite imbalances when we've had dramatically surging tax revenues and shrinking deficits. Equally odd is the top 4, and 7 of the top 10, are slow growth, highly taxed and regulated European economies all facing demographic disasters with huge welfare state requirements they cannot possible meet.

Seems counter-intuitive does it not?

Because it is. These rankings are garbage.

The one thing we all know is the surge in per capita GDP that began under Reagan will continue for several more decades as the USA just swamps Europe. By 2035 USA per capital GDP will be double German per Capita GDP.

Posted by: rdw on September 26, 2006 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

And Switzerland is #1. Interesting.

You know what's really interesting? How deep Kevin D. and the rest of the rank and file have to dig to keep this endless string of garbage coming.

Exactly, sportsfan79. And what's really, really interesting is that Finland was number two in the 2005 rankings and remains number 2 in the 2006 rankings!

I have no doubt that the "World" Economic Forum is heavily underwritten by Finland. After all, Finland is where Linux came from, and we all know that Linux is a UN-inspired plot to undermine Microsoft.

Posted by: Neanderthal on September 26, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Because it is. These rankings are garbage.

These rankings aren't garbage, rdw!! They're on the BBC, and the Washington Monthly website! They can't be garbage.

That begs the question, if the US had stayed at #1, would the 'rankings' be a headline in the BBC?

Posted by: sportsfan79 on September 26, 2006 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

os (American worker) if you are so productive, what are you doing reading and commenting on a liberal website on a weekday afternoon? How do you expect me to take you seriously?
Posted by: Al on September 26, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Oh Al, you caught me - blogging on company time, single-handedly draining America of productiveness. I've been bad, and need to be spanked. Please don't spare the rod, you strong, righteous, traditionalist.

Posted by: os on September 26, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

rdw: cite imbalances when we've had dramatically surging tax revenues and shrinking deficits

They cited trade and fiscal deficits. The trade deficit is still climbing.

Posted by: alex on September 26, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Are we still the world's favorite target for foreign direct investment?

No. Great Britain is ahead, and China will overtake us in a few years.

UK becomes top choice for foreign direct investment
By Gary Duncan, Economics Editor

BRITAIN was in the vanguard of the biggest global boom in foreign direct investment (FDI) for five years during 2005, attracting a lions share of surging direct investment inflows to rich nations, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said yesterday.
A near-trebling in FDI inflows into the UK, fuelled by several multibillion-pound takeovers of leading companies here, meant that Britain leapfrogged the United States to become the top direct investment destination in a bumper year for the activity, the Paris-based OECDs figures showed.

Total FDI flows into Britain climbed from $56.3 billion in 2004 to $164.5 billion last year, outstripping the $109.8 billion lured from overseas into US ventures down from $133.2 billion in 2004.

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,16849-2248152,00.html


Posted by: Stefan on September 26, 2006 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan,

Per Capita GDP is an excellent measure of standard of living which is otherwise totally subjective. The USA is vastly wealthier than Europe and the gap widens every year. European incomes have been lagging for 3 decades and they face daunting welfare state requirements they cannot possibly meet.

Thanks to high taxes and regulation they've been slower growing and progressively less innovative over time. They also have a demographic crises with no solution and a minority crises with no solution. This of course explains why emigration is starting to turn into an issue. Eurabia is coming.

Posted by: rdw on September 26, 2006 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

That begs the question, if the US had stayed at #1, would the 'rankings' be a headline in the BBC?

Damn straight, sportsfan79! Never trust anything that emanates out of commie Britain or the pinko mouth of Tony Blairinsky.

(well, those British troops supporting us in Afghanistan and Iraq are okay, I guess...)

Posted by: Neanderthal on September 26, 2006 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Per Capita GDP is an excellent measure of standard of living. . .

. . . when you're trying to find a way to inflate your accomplishments with easily fudged numbers.

tHey also have a demographIC Crises wIth NO, SoLuTIOn aNd a mINOriTy cRiSeS With no solution.

heh - the solution to the demographic crisis is the cause of the minority crisis.

Same fucking crisis in America.

The solution is to find an economic model that does not rely on eternal endless growth. I did a freshman-year biology experiment with a test tube full of yeast. The yeast thought they could grow endlessly too. But then they all drowned in their own waste.

Most moderately educated humans realize that they cannot grow population indefinitely. Unfortunately, their republican leaders don't seem to be much smarter than the yeasts.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on September 26, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

A near-trebling in FDI inflows into the UK, fuelled by several multibillion-pound takeovers of leading companies here, meant that Britain leapfrogged the United States to become the top direct investment destination in a bumper year for the activity, the Paris-based OECDs figures showed.

You of course have no idea what this means. Corporate takeovers of British multi-nationals has zero to do with investment in Britan. I don't know who the companies are but it's probably only 2 or 3 driving this number and they very probably do more than 90% of all new investment outside the UK.

Europe has been th slowest growing continent on the planet for the better parts of two decades and will most definitely be the same for the next 2 decades. Slow growth economies don't attract high investment.

In 2004 and 2005 France and Germany expanded by less than $100M. The USA expanded by nearly $1B.

Posted by: rdw on September 26, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Some various quotes from the report;

They heart Scandinavia

"The Nordic countries show that transparent institutions and excellent macroeconomic management, coupled with world class educational attainment and a focus on technology
and innovation are a successful strategy for maintaining competitiveness in small, highly developed economies."

They heart Switzerland

"Switzerland takes the leading position as the worlds most competitive economy in 20062007, overtaking Finland and Sweden, and replacing the United States, which dropped to sixth position. Switzerlands top ranking reflects a combination of a world class capacity for innovation
and the presence of a highly sophisticated business culture."

They are slightly dissappointed in the U.S.

"The United States is ranked sixth this year. It remains a world leader in a number of key categories assessed by the GCI, such as market efficiency, innovation, higher education and training, and business sophistication.
However, growing imbalances have dented a number of macroeconomic indicators, and the levels of efficiency and transparency underpinning its public institutions do not match those of the most developed industrial countries."

They think Venezuela needs to get it's act together;

"As in previous years,Venezuelas overall performance continues to deteriorate, reflecting a sharp deterioration in the quality of Venezuelan institutions, especially in combating
corruption, undue influence in decision-making,
and in reducing government intervention.

For all the talk about the social dimension of the governments benign revolution, school enrolment rates are either mediocre or poor, with Venezuela ranking 85, just behind Vietnam, Suriname, and China at the secondary school level. Venezuelas infant mortality rate of 16 per 1,000 live births is on a par with Albania, and actually higher than that of Russia or the Ukraine, two countries still recovering from decades of public health neglect."

I don't see Cuba or North Korea listed in any of the tables, were these countries not studied & ranked?

Posted by: Dustin on September 26, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, okay. I got Nokia already. That's one, right?

I found the web site. I think they have a different idea of "competitive" than most economists do.

No wonder the top of the list is occupied by small nations with monolithic demographics, heavy doses of cradle-to-grave, and global isolation from the stuff other nations have to deal with.

By this kind of thinking, you could "prove" that a gated community of rich white guys was more "competitive" than the state of Michigan.

This odd view of "competitive" also explains why India is number 43 on this weird list, and China is number 54. I can think of a LOT more things that are made in China that compete with the U.S.

Posted by: barbara on September 26, 2006 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

and global isolation from the stuff other nations have to deal with.

Yes, poor, poor America, who is forced by it's proximity to the Middle East to ally itself with Israel, extracting the ire of every other nation in the region, and forced into expensive wars and entanglements.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on September 26, 2006 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

rdw = real dumb winger?

Posted by: Ack Ack Ack Ack on September 26, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

rdw

Excuse me.

Have you ever spent any time in northern Europe?

How about during the last decade?

Those people are living damn high off the hog.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 26, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Since the term great depression has already been used to describe republican economics, what are we going to call the coming depression?

How 'bout "Bestest Depression Ever!"

Posted by: mister pedantic on September 26, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

In 2004 and 2005 France and Germany expanded by less than $100M. The USA expanded by nearly $1B.

Germany = slightly smaller than Montana.
France = a little smaller than twice the area of Colorado.

hmmm, I wonder why such a difference in those numbers you posted.

Posted by: just curious on September 26, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

The Greatest Economic Regression? Nah, too wonkish.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 26, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Europe has been th slowest growing continent on the planet for the better parts of two decades and will most definitely be the same for the next 2 decades. Slow growth economies don't attract high investment. rdw

I spent some time in Sweden a few years ago. You know, like you I believed all the slow growth crap. I kept looking for all the signs of poverty I thought I could reasonably anticipate because well America is best and our growth rate is best and I know this is true because Jesus tells me so. But I looked and looked and looked and I just couldn't find the slums. I never saw any bowed and beaten Swedes any place. They all looked pretty happy to me.

rdw, to me you sound like a neocon talking about foreign policy. All crackpot theory and no real world experience.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 26, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Europe has been th slowest growing continent on the planet for the better parts of two decades and will most definitely be the same for the next 2 decades. Slow growth economies don't attract high investment. rdw

I spent some time in Sweden a few years ago. You know, like you I believed all the slow growth crap. I kept looking for all the signs of poverty I thought I could reasonably anticipate because well America is best and our growth rate is best and I know this is true because Jesus tells me so. But I looked and looked and looked and I just couldn't find the slums. I never saw any bowed and beaten Swedes any place. They all looked pretty happy to me.

rdw, to me you sound like a neocon talking about foreign policy. All crackpot theory and no real world experience.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 26, 2006 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry about the double post. 2nd time today. I don't know why.

mhr, I am an American. I have no desire to live in Sweden or Finnland, or any place else. The difference between you and me is I want America to be a great place for all of us to live. You want America to be a great place for the elite to live. The rest of us can go to hell.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 26, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

You of course have no idea what this means.

Probably not. I'm only a corporate lawyer specializing in M&A and multi-national debt and equity transactions. As such I'm a relative naif when it comes to understanding sophisticated financial concepts.....

Posted by: Stefan on September 26, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Germany = slightly smaller than Montana.
France = a little smaller than twice the area of Colorado.

That's the reason we use per capita income for comparison. France and Germany have just over 140M people or just under 50% of the USA. Yet total GDP in the USA wasn't 2x's it was 10x's. Thus per capita income in the USA is growing dramatically faster than in Europe.

Posted by: rdw on September 26, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

How many of you lefties are rushing even now to pack to get to Sweden and Switzerland or Denmark? Or maybe Finland? Send your checks and put your money where your mouths are.

I am -- that's why I'm shifting assets away from the dollar and toward the euro.

Posted by: Stefan on September 26, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

But when they fail even at what they're supposed to be concerned about - capitalism, competition, and so on - well, what can you say?

One is forced to conclude that the GOP is not truly concerned about capitalism or competition.

But heck, you don't need this report to tell you that.

Posted by: Gregory on September 26, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I live in Helsinki: no slums, no no-go areas, babies are left in prams outside shops, the educational system is of high quality regardless of your parents' status (university education does not bankrupt the parents), the same goes for the health care system. In addition we have a dynamic IT economy and you can get wealthy based on your private enterprise. Social mobility is far higher than in the US: your parents wealth forecasts your social status in much lesser degree than in the States. No paradise this, but still, Scandinavia (maybe Holland also) is about as far as we have gotten with enlightenment. The model is not easy to export to any continent sized superpowers, but I would not think that it is so hard to let ALL the children compete fairly based on their intellectual abilities and not their parents' wealth etc. etc. (BTW, to call Sweden and Switzerland ethnically homogenous is bizarre - in these debates this usually precedes the "let's not count into national statistics the brown and black people resident in the US" argument - a questionable attitude if any...)

Posted by: jonathan on September 26, 2006 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Those people are living damn high off the hog.

I have not been in Europe in 20 years. I didn't claim Europeans have a low standard of living. I am claiming Americans have a higher standard of living and it is improving at a faster rate. I am also saying the current European welfare state is unsustainable except for possibly in Norway due to oil wealth.

I have the classic McMansion with 2 acres and a 3 car garage in a stunningly beautiful area. It is filled with appliances most Europeans do not have as well as many other toys Europeans could not afford and if the could afford could not possibly fit into their small homes. My parents have a shore home on the NJ coast the entire length of which has been an absolute boom 'town' for a decade. I don't have the sats but would bet more Americans own beautiful second homes than French families own clothes dryers. Those 2nd homes are undoubledly larger than 90% of primary residents in France.

Our community just built it's 3rd High School which is almost as big and much better appointed than Drexel University when I attended in the 70's. Our wealth is astounding.

You think Europeans hate us now? Wait until 2035 when the average American makes 2x's as much and lives in a house 5x's as large.

Posted by: rdw on September 26, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

(BTW, to call Sweden and Switzerland ethnically homogenous is bizarre - in these debates this usually precedes the "let's not count into national statistics the brown and black people resident in the US" argument - a questionable attitude if any...)

Nor Singapore, at No. 5. While the majority of Singapore is ethnically Chinese, it also has large Malay, Indian, and other minorities, and has a concomitant diversity in terms of native languages and religions (Christian, Muslim, Buddhist/Taoist/Confucian, Hindu, Sikh, etc.).

Posted by: Stefan on September 26, 2006 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Wait until 2035 when the average American makes 2x's as much and lives in a house 5x's as large.

Considering what the cost of energy is going to be in 2035, I don't think a house "5x's" as large is going to be all that desirable when you factor in the heating and lighting costs.

Posted by: Stefan on September 26, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Stop cherrypicking data you don't understand.

Several have, ah, corrected "ex-liberal" on this point, but I'd dispute, with respect, any notion that this citation was an honest mistake. This is "ex-liberal" we're talking about, here -- honesty isn't a factor.

rdw, as always, continues to amuse with his tales of his fantasy world.

Posted by: Gregory on September 26, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder what appliances are those that most Finns wouldn't have - concealed hand weapons?

Posted by: jonathan on September 26, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Even I can see that rdw is a ponce.

Posted by: Al on September 26, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

heh - the solution to the demographic crisis is the cause of the minority crisis.

Same fucking crisis in America.


Don't think so. The USA has a secret weapon in the 'quest' to breed. It's called religion. It's well known that religions folk are far more satisfied with their lives and more forard looking than secularists. Religious people are more likely to get married, more likely to stay married and when married more likely to have kids. They are also more likely to marry someone of a different sex so they can breed.

Do you see the Darwinian effect here? Religious folk breed at 2x's to 4x's the rate of secularists. Europe and Russia are disappearing. Europe faces a more daunting problem with Islamic immigration with a non-assimilated population growing dramatically faster than the ethnic population and entering the 2nd and 3rd generations when the effect will begin to compound geometrically.

This is not happening in the USA where black birth rates are on the cusp of dropping below white birth rates and hispanic birth rates are no higher than white birth rates in religious areas.

Posted by: rdw on September 26, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Those 2nd homes are undoubledly larger than 90% of primary residents in France.

Yes again, I wonder why homes are smaller in a country not twice as large as Colorado but with 15 times its population.

Hmmmm....

The French real estate market is making ours look like a patient on life support and fading fast. It's been seeing double digit growth in many areas.

Posted by: just curious on September 26, 2006 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

It's well known that religions folk are far more satisfied with their lives and more forard looking than secularists.

Sure -- just look at religious folk such Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Sunni and Shiite death squads, etc. All satisfied with their lives and forward looking.....

Posted by: Stefan on September 26, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

I didn't claim Europeans have a low standard of living. I am claiming Americans have a higher standard of living and it is improving at a faster rate.

And your claimes are as persuasive as ever, Wooten.

Posted by: Gregory on September 26, 2006 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Religious people are more likely to get married, more likely to stay married

Um, no. The divorce rates are highest in the Bible Belt.

They are typically lowest in "secular" Massachusetts.

Any more patently false claims you'd like to throw out there?

Posted by: Windhorse on September 26, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Dear me... One wonders what to say this level of drivel? Religion and breeding indeed, religion and breeding. Well, at least a word of caution: current trends (even if not imaginary) tend to be rather poor forecasters of even mid-term future. So, there might be all sorts of unforeseen ruptures coming in all our ways - for example, if fundamentalism will continue becoming much stronger in the US, it will eventually seriously collide with the modern, enlightened state, with the Republic that was created by an enlightened revolution. That should be fun. And to talk about correlation and current trends: the more advanced science is, the more powerful the states and societies tend to be. So, good luck with the Kansas schoolboard world views and banning stem cell research etc. etc.

Posted by: jonathan on September 26, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Considering what the cost of energy is going to be in 2035, I don't think a house "5x's" as large is going to be all that desirable when you factor in the heating and lighting costs.

You have no clue what the cost of energy will be in 2035 but considering prices today are dramatically lower than in 1979 it's not something I worry about. We've got gasoline down to $2.00 retail and heating oil near the same. Natural gas is even lower. The beauty of capitalism is that by 2035 we'll have better insulation, more efficient appliances, dramatially more efficient lighting (I am told there are two technologies with LED being one that use less than 65% of flourscent , last 5x's as long and are useful in many more places with no electrical interference. We will of course have much more efficient solar lighting in 2035 as well.

It's very likely a house 33% larger in 2035, and in America the average house will be 33% larger, will use 33% less energy and a portion of that energy will be supplied off the grid by solar cells. Actually, if projections are accurate, off the grid fuel cells will be cheap.

This is easily the single biggest problem Europe has with Americans. My McMansion drives them up a wall.


Posted by: rdw on September 26, 2006 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

The USA has a secret weapon in the 'quest' to breed. It's called religion.

The correlation with birth rates is wealth, not religion, you moron. As people become wealthier and see prospects open up for them they begin to have fewer children. In the poorest and usually agricultural societies children are necessary for farming (allowing for all sorts of mitigating local factors, of course).

Here's a link to get you started in understanding this matter. Notice how there is an inverse relation between wealth and birth rates among countries.

http://www.ed-u.com/birth-rates-order-high.htm

Posted by: Windhorse on September 26, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Then you can probably afford to pay back the money you owe to the Chinese Communist Party? You have to remember the sponsor!

Posted by: jonathan on September 26, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Religious people are more likely to get married, more likely to stay married

Nope -- in this country it's the religious, particularly religious Southerners, who are hopping into and out of marriages as fast as they can:

For 2004, divorce rate per 1,000 in

Massachusetts: 2.2
Connecticut: 2.9
New York: 3.0
North Carolina: 4.4
Missippi: 4.5
Alabama: 4.7
Kentucky: 4.9
Tennessee: 5.0

Posted by: Stefan on September 26, 2006 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

And your claimes are as persuasive as ever, Wooten

I don't have to be persuasive. Take a drive around and look for yourself. We can all see the building boom. Everyone knows homeownership rates are at all time highs. I can take a ride in any direction from my house and can't go 5 miles and pass at least one development of new homes for the average American but few in Europe could even dream of.

That's just a fact of life.

Pass any coastal community and it's even more amazing. I am only familiar with NJ from the Atlantic city region to Cape May. This 100 mile stretch is loaded with huge new vacation homes which in 85% of the cases are 2nd homes. The marina's are filled with boats and in many cases these same homes have a boat on a trailer in the driveway. Our wealth is staggering.

That's just a fact of life.

Posted by: rdw on September 26, 2006 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan,

What are the divorce rates among religious versus secular types? No everyone in MA is a secularists any more than everyone in Tennessee is religious.

Also regarding this stat, per 1,000 what? Is that per 1,000 marriages or per 1,000 of the population? If it's per 1,000 of the population then don't we need the marriage rate to draw any inference?

Posted by: rdw on September 26, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

"This 100 mile stretch is loaded with huge new vacation homes which in 85% of the cases are 2nd homes. "

Go to portugal or spain and have a look at the
coastal areas.

Packed full of villas and apartments much of which are 2nd homes for northern europeans.

Posted by: kb on September 26, 2006 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

The Associated Press, using data supplied by the US Census Bureau, found that the highest divorce rates are to be found in the Bible Belt. The AP report stated that "the divorce rates in these conservative states are roughly 50 percent above the national average of 4.2 per thousand people." The 10 Southern states with some of the highest divorce rates were Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas. By comparison nine states in the Northeast were among those with the lowest divorce rates: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

What are the divorce rates among religious versus secular types? No everyone in MA is a secularists any more than everyone in Tennessee is religious.

In fact, the utter homogeneity of Red or Blue states is an argument you appeal to all the time, not to mention the sameness of those "liberal" European countries. All of a sudden you're looking for some kind of nuance when one of your claims has been refuted?

Posted by: Windhorse on September 26, 2006 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

jonathan: Then you can probably afford to pay back the money you owe to the Chinese Communist Party?

Hmmm, an indirect reference to the trade deficit. Haven't you heard about the code of silence on that topic?

Posted by: alex on September 26, 2006 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Packed full of villas and apartments much of which are 2nd homes for northern europeans.

Good point. And I'll wager rdw couldn't even afford to live in exclusive Marseille or Nice, much less Paris.

Posted by: just curious on September 26, 2006 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Everyone knows homeownership rates are at all time highs.

Of course rising interest rates and all those ARM's that people were stupid enough to get into are changing that little statistic, with lots of data-points facing forclosures.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 26, 2006 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Building boom. Where. Last spring I sold a nice house in Palm Beach County, Florida. My brothers who still live there tell me I was damn lucky to sell out when I did. Prices have dropped like a rock and are still dropping. Nationwide housing stocks are on the way up. In my own neighborhood there are lots and lots of "mcmansions" for sale. No takers. Clue, nobody has a good job. You can't make a big mortgage payment on a Wal-Mart salary.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 26, 2006 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

The correlation with birth rates is wealth, not religion, you moron.

That's not the only correlation. There is a clear difference between Europe and the USA and there is a clear difference within Europe between the secular ethnic majorities and the religious minorities even after allowing for incomes.

The dramatic drops in birth rates in Europe and Russia since the 60's have almost nothing to do with increased wealth but much to do with increased birth control, lower marriage rates and higher divorce rates. Secularists are far more likely to abort a baby.

This has become more of an issue in 2006 because the effect of aborted babies is starting to compound. With birth rates at 1.2 much of Europe is literally starting to disappear. We know for a fact in 2050 there will be dramatically fewer Russians, Italians, Spainards, French, Germans, Swedes, Dutch, Danes, Brits, etc.

There is no possible way to reverse this trend. France many have as many people in 2050 but they won't be what the French consider as French.

Posted by: rdw on September 26, 2006 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

rdw

The birth rate correlation is truly with wealth and not religion.

As wealth increases birth rates drop. That is a well known world wide statistic.

The United States has a relatively higher birth rate than Europe because we have a relatively high percentage of poor people. If we were not so busy assimilating all those poor Latin Americans who have fled their home countries to seek a better life, our birth rate would mirror Europes.

Europe has a lower birth rate because the percentage of Europeans in poverty is dramatically lower. The European numbers change when you count the birth rates of their "guest" workers.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 26, 2006 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Ron,

The decade long boom has stalled as all booms do. We don't know if this is short term or longer term stall. Like everything else housing is cyclical. Population growth is not cyclical. We've recently passed 300M and we're still growing. Them folks need to live somewhere.

As you well know that does not mean we've stopped bulding homes. Nor will we ever stop building homes. And they will be progressively bigger and better appointed than homes built in France which actually might become a rarity as their population DOES start to shrink.

I know Kevin and the libs have been cheering on a housing bust but it's still not likely. While a price adjustment might be in order due to too high price appreciation over the last decade the bottom line is we are forming more households at a rapid rate and they need plces to live.

It is also a fact unemployent remains very, very low and incomes are increasing at a healthy rate. My own preference would be to see real estate prices relatively stable for a couple/few years to bring prices more in line with incomes.

My guy Larry Kudlow is suggesting that commodity prices are signalling a deflationary trend such that interest rates will eventually fall back a bit and help the ecomony back to a solid 3.5% growth track.

Posted by: rdw on September 26, 2006 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, the correlation with birth rates is education and wealth. Obviously the more educated you are the better jobs you'll get, the less need to pop out rugrats by the boatload to support you in old age, not to mention better access to birth control. And even more obviously, the tendency towards secular beliefs.

Posted by: Ack Ack Ack Ack on September 26, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

there is a clear difference within Europe between the secular ethnic majorities and the religious minorities even after allowing for incomes.

So the wealthy religious minorities in Europe continue to have scads of kids? Even after assimilation, intermarriage, and generational change?

Please post your data so we can evaluate this interesting claim. Thank you.

Posted by: Windhorse on September 26, 2006 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

As wealth increases birth rates drop. That is a well known world wide statistic.

Very well known and very old. We all know why Africa leads the tables. We all know why my grand-daddy was one of 13 and why most wives today would remove their husbands reproductive organ well before #6.

Wealth is not the only indicator and wealth becomes much less of an indicator when per capital incomes reaches a certain level as it has in Europe, the USA and much of Asia.

Within the USA there are dramatically different birth rates among certain groups. The average mormon in Utah will have more kids than the average Manhatten liberal and that is largely unrelated to wealth.

It also has gone almost unnoticed that in the USA birth rates for blacks have dropped significantly over the 15 years and are now almost the same as for whites. Many are predicting the trend will continue such that black birth rates drop below white birth rates. Thus wealth has it's limits in explaining variances in birth rates between populations.

We know for a fact there are differences in secular Europe and the USA and we know they are not wealth. We know there are differences between the religious and secular communities in the USA not related to wealth.

We also know these diferences are beginning to compound, to severe effect in Europe.

Posted by: rdw on September 26, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Even after assimilation, intermarriage, and generational change?

What assimilation?

What intermarriage?

What generational change?

cite your data please!


My understanding of Europe is there has been almost no assimilation and no intermarriage. One study I've seen cited 2nd and 3rd Generation muslims marry other muslims more than 95% of the time. Read "While europe slept" if you want a cite for the data.

Posted by: rdw on September 26, 2006 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Much to real dumb winger's chagrin, the religious right will never ascend to full fledged majority in the USA because they are simply too dumb. Unless the USA is to descend into a second rate economy due to lack of educated workforce, the correlation between education and secularism/liberalism is simply too strong.

Posted by: Ack Ack Ack Ack on September 26, 2006 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Unless the USA is to descend into a second rate economy due to lack of educated workforce, the correlation between education and secularism/liberalism is simply too strong.

By "unless" don't you mean "until"....?

Posted by: Stefan on September 26, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, the correlation with birth rates is education and wealth.

Education and wealth are so closely correlated with each other it's hard to differenciate between the two regarding birth rates. Especially in the USA. Education and religion are very different. There is a much stronger correlation between education and the increase in secularism in non-catholic regions than catholicism and definitely islam. There is a big difference in protestant faiths between evangelicals and the moderate branches. Moderate Protestant religions are dying. Churchs in Europe are empty.

It's rather clear the big driver of the past 65 years is birth control and especially Roe v Wade. This is an open and shut case of Darwins survival of the fittest. Secularists do not have as many kids and that's true across ALL income groups and all education levels. Secularists are breeding themselves out of existance and we are just entering the period where the effect starts to compound.

Native populations in most of Europe, Russia and China are going to collapse. It's already baked in the cards. Nothing can be done to reverse it.

Posted by: rdw on September 26, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Pass any coastal community and it's even more amazing. I am only familiar with NJ from the Atlantic city region to Cape May. This 100 mile stretch is loaded with huge new vacation homes which in 85% of the cases are 2nd homes. The marina's are filled with boats and in many cases these same homes have a boat on a trailer in the driveway. Our wealth is staggering.

Hmmm, much like my vacation areas, only I'm more familiar with the Mediterranean from Cap Ferrat to Cannes to St. Tropez. This 50 km stretch is loaded with huge new vacation homes which in 85% of the cases are 2nd homes. The marinas are filled with yachts and in many cases these same homes have a boat on a trailer in the driveway. France's wealth is staggering.....

Posted by: Stefan on September 26, 2006 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

rdw

I started studing the correlation between wealth and birth rates back in 1967. What peaked my interest was the low birth rate in very Catholic Ireland. It was just the same as the birth rate in very Protestant Northern Europe. I wondered why?

Maybe it is because the Pope approves birth control? No. The Catholic Church is positively famous for discouraging birth control.

Maybe it is because Irish men and women don't have sex very often? Don't tell that to my Irish American relatives. Not with a straight face.

Actually it is because the average age of the average Irish woman when she marries isn't much different than the average northern European when she marries. They both use birth control up tell then. They both use birth control after they marry. They can afford to wait to marry because they can. Poorer people can't wait. They don't use birth control as consistently. Poorer people also have a stronger motivation to have lots of kids. Kids represent an economic advantage for many poorer people, especially subsistence farmers. Children are an economic liability for more affluent people. Richer people wait because their children are a luxury they can do without.

The Mormons are an unusual group. If you look at their relatively affluent cousins in the Community of Christ Church, who also follow the Book of Mormon, you will see that members of the Community of Christ Church have just about the same birth rate as any other established American church. The other Morman cousins who practice poligamy have a relatively high birth rate, but they are, as a group, relatively poor. You will notice that when one of the fathers is busted he is usually busted for welfare fraud.

No, with some limited exceptions religion isn't the reason some people have more children than others. Relative birth rates are primarily related to economic factors.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 26, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

AAAA, Stefan,

How do you get out of bed every day? I could never be a liberal simply because I could not stand being so miserable. I'm a proud Reagan conservative. I am so proud to be an American because I know every day is going to be better than the last.

BTW: religous folk will always outnumber secularists in America and soon will again in Europe. There will not be a rebirth of Chritianity in Europe. But there will be huge increases in the Muslim populaton.

Posted by: rdw on September 26, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

rdw,

As to muslim birth rates. My neice is married to a Muslim. They live here in America where he is a successful engineer. They have 2 kids and no plans for more.

Have you done any reading on the question of muslim birthrates when normalized for wealth.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 26, 2006 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

rdw; and that drug war will be won any day now too, right?

Pass the kool-aid.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 26, 2006 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Kids represent an economic advantage for many poorer people, especially subsistence farmers. Children are an economic liability for more affluent people. Richer people wait because their children are a luxury they can do with

This is really a bizarre point as regards Europe and America. Americans haven't had kids for economic reasons in a very,very long time. Certainly well before WWII and the changes since are almost exclusively due to the availability and attitudes on birth control. My wife is one of 8 and 5 were accidents. Abortion was not an option nor was tubal ligation available. She would have had her tubes tied after the 1st and absolutely the 2nd 'mistake' if she had the choice.

Within this family group abortion is not an option.

The difference between today and other ages are these birth control options. The differences between religious and non religoous groups are attitudes toward birth control, mostly abortion, and attitudes toward life. There is a strong correlation between relative happiness and religion. Religious people tend to be happier and more satisifed with their lives. Each of these factors in 2006 have a strong bearing on the decision to have a child. Pessimistic people unsure of the future do not have kids.
Pessimistic people, secularists, are also far more likely to abort a pregnancy, that optimistic, religious folk.

It's just common sense.

Posted by: rdw on September 26, 2006 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

My understanding of Europe is there has been almost no assimilation and no intermarriage.

OK, I'll take this as acknowledgment that you can't back up your bullshit assertions, in addition to a tacit admission that your "understanding of Europe" is incorrect.

BTW, estimates of the percentage of Muslim intermarriage in France are that it's about 40%.

Posted by: Windhorse on September 26, 2006 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Alas, rdw, your posts disqualify you from talking about common sense.

Posted by: Gregory on September 26, 2006 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Have you done any reading on the question of muslim birthrates when normalized for wealth

No but I've looked and the data is very hard to come by because it's not collected, mostly for PC reasons.

There are also a great many differences between communities. For example the Muslim community in Europe is different from the same community in Egypt and then again in Michigan. A muslim in the US is more likely to be assimilated than a muslim in Denmark or Sweden where in fact they were actually encouraged to maintain a separate and distinct identity.

Note: there are two different things happening here. It isn't just that the birth rates among native Europeans have dropped. It's that it's dropped to disasterous levels. In fact we don't (I don't) know how low. Spain and Italy are listed at 1.2 with France at 1.55. That's a blended rate. We know the islamic minorities are much higher but I have not seen definitive data. Within France the ethnic French could be 1.30 and the Islamic minoritoes 4.2. The fact is 1.55, and they've all been well below replacement for decades, is bad. 1.2 is an absolute disaster.

There is a lot of data about Eurabia. There's a reason emigration rates are increasing and Europeans are depressed.

Posted by: rdw on September 26, 2006 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

MHR,

You jump for joy anytime you see a list where the US is not ranked number one.

Who's jumping for joy? The sentiment I read here is one of anger and sadness at the current regime's failed policies which caused our drop. Try reading, not projecting.

Posted by: Edo on September 26, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

and that drug war will be won any day now too, right

It's been won in my house.

Posted by: rdw on September 26, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Well good for you. My house isn't a shooting gallery or an opium den either. But I am not stupid enlough to believe that seals the deal.

Sheesh.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 26, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

"But she looked at me with those bedroom eyes!"

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 26, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

rdw,

and that drug war will be won any day now too, right

It's been won in my house.

Great. So we can end the overall war, right? At then let each household win it for themselves?

And here I thought we'd never agree on anything...

Posted by: Edo on September 26, 2006 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

My house isn't a shooting gallery or an opium den either. But I am not stupid enlough to believe that seals the deal

I have no idea what you are talking about.

Posted by: rdw on September 26, 2006 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

My house isn't a shooting gallery or an opium den either. But I am not stupid enlough to believe that seals the deal

I have no idea what you are talking about.

Posted by: rdw on September 26, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

windhorse,


estimates of the percentage of Muslim intermarriage in France are that it's about 40%

Statistics on intermarriage and minority groups generally are difficult to find in France, partly because of the ban on the collection of information on religious affiliation and ethnic background in the French census after the Second World War. The authors of Sixty Million French claim, on page 301, that half of immigrant men marry non-immigrant women, and that one-quarter of immigrant women marry non-immigrant men, for a total intermarriage rate of roughly 40%. This figure is high, and is only a shade below the 60% intermarriage rate for North American Jews that encourages many to doubt the future of North American Jewry. I cant find specific statistics for French Muslims, but given their prominence in the French immigrant population it isnt too much of a stretch to assume comparable intermarriage rates.

You can't possibly attach a high degree of confidence in this 40% when the paragraph is fille with disclaimers. "While Europe slept" listed specific marriage data from one of the governments (I think Sweden) and the inter-marriage rate was above 97% for 1st generation and above 95% for 2nd and 3rd generation.

By far the bigger problem isn't Islamic birth rates but their own and next the lack of assimilation. I read a series of stories about the car-b-ques across France last year and it was clear the Islamic ghetto's are 100% Islamic.

Posted by: rdw on September 26, 2006 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

No but I've looked and the data is very hard to come by because it's not collected, mostly for PC reasons.

Well that settles it. You are talking out of your ass. The truthiness of your prejudices render real research unnecessary.

Let me tell you why your prejudice is bad news for the world. The reason the world wide population is exploding is simple--we are living longer. The only way for us to avoid a Maltusian crisis is for world wide birth rates to drop off to a birth rate at less than replacement rate. The 1.2 per couple you find disasterous seems about right to me. As life spans reach their ultimate (around 100 years or so) population will drop off to sustainable levels. In a few generations our descendants might have to tell folks to have more kids.

If you are right and people have children because it is God's will then we are all royally fucked. If I am right and people mostly act in their own economic best interests then we can grow our way to a stable world. I hope I am right. I think you are wrong.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 26, 2006 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

So rdw, would you please explain why those "secular" Europeans (Eastern Europe excepting) have uniformly lower abortion rates than the US?

source

Posted by: Ami in Deutschland on September 26, 2006 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

If you are right and people have children because it is God's will

Ron,

Quit lying. I said no such thing. I said religious folk are happier and more optimistic and happy, optimistic people have more kids. Why would you, knowing the world is drowning in people, bring kids into this cesspool?


Quit being stupid. The USA has 2x's as many people as 50 years ago and feeds them on 1/2 as much farmland. The world could easily sustain 2x's as many people if they became like America.

But of course this is not about to happen as Europe, Russia, China and Japan are on the cusp of serious population shrinkage. China is further away from the inflection point but that's to their more draconain policies will drop faster once the policy starts to bite.

Ron I have 4 kids and am doing quite well. Two are out of the next and flourishing and the next two are doing equally well. I have 3 grandchildren and expect to have 10 to 15. I suspect you'll have many fewer, if you have any at all. This is as it should be and as Darwin has predicted. If you believe that liberal nonsense you s/b removed from the gene pool. The next generations will be much the better for your efforts and mine.

It really is quite the elegent theory.

Posted by: rdw on September 26, 2006 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

So rdw, would you please explain why those "secular" Europeans (Eastern Europe excepting) have uniformly lower abortion rates than the US?

I don't know. Why do you ask? If true I would assume it's because they are more diligent in using the more permanent and reliable methods of birth control such as tubal ligation, vascetamies, the pill, IUD, etc.

Posted by: rdw on September 26, 2006 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

rdw: Pessimistic people, secularists, are also far more likely to abort a pregnancy, that optimistic, religious folk.

It's just common sense.

That's why.  Your "common sense" don't jive with the facts, bub. 
Posted by: Ami in Deutschland on September 26, 2006 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

That's why. Your "common sense" don't jive with the facts, bub.

You have no facts to dispute my common sense. The study you cited has a ton of data variability but even accepting it as accutate you still don't offer evidence of anything.

Abortion and birth rates are substantially lower in Western Europe. Thus we know for a fact European are absolutely MUCH less likely to get pregnant in the 1st place. They 'ain't' taking any chances.

MY point regarding happy people not having abortions thus also clearly extends to happy people getting pregnant. Clearly, Europeans are incredibly anti-child.

The other weakness here is the data is too high level. Is the abortion rate higher in the USA because miserable liberals are too stupid to use birth control? I think so and that verifies my theory.


Posted by: rdw on September 26, 2006 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

The 1.2 per couple you find disasterous seems about right to me.

A clarification: I don't think it's bad for the USA or the world. It's bad for European culture.

Posted by: rdw on September 26, 2006 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

rdw, something you forget in all this religious breeding is that doesn't mean the kids are going to follow their parents' footsteps. I was born and bred a fundie Southern Baptist going to church every Sunday morning and night and Wednesday evenings, too, with occasional Tuesday night outreach sessions. I dropped it like a hot potato as a college student during Reagan/Carter because I didn't think God cared about the Panama Canal and found the hypocrisy of Baptist preachers advocating for a divorced actor over a devout man who walked the walk nauseating. So did my sister years later for her own reasons. Of our extended family, one-quarter to one-third of the kids raised this way are following the faith and all the other cousins are apostate.
And I note that the Baptist relatives have had many divorces and the apostate ones none.

Posted by: lou on September 26, 2006 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

Note to self: Don't send children to Drexel University

Posted by: Dilbert on September 26, 2006 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

Education and wealth are so closely correlated with each other it's hard to differenciate between the two regarding birth rates.

Uh, no it's not. We're talking about education for women, which is easily controlled for in looking at differing patterns for fertility.

You're a liar, an idiot, and a horrible person. The real question is, how do you get out of bed knowing what a dishonest hack you are.

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Posted by: rose on September 27, 2006 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

Thank you, Kevin, for this post. In most countries at the top of the competiveness list, the term "current account balance" shows up in daily political discourse. Given the natural interest of Americans in finance and the remarkable growth of the US current account deficit in recent decades, it's odd term is not discussed more. Most editors and speechwriters seem happy to replace it with the narrower "trade balance" (of goods), ignoring the important role of portfolio investment in finacing our deficits.

Posted by: kostya on September 27, 2006 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

rdw wrote:
This is easily the single biggest problem Europe has with Americans. My McMansion drives them up a wall.
Nope, thank you for playing... Truth is, we could probably quite easily have much higher gdp in Europe, but have chosen to instead get our wealth in the form of free time. I thoroughly enjoy my six weeks of vacation. When I get kids I can expect to be home with them some six months (depending on how much of the paid year I can talk the mother out of), and so on and so forth. rdw, you are very welcome to your McMansion!

Posted by: Daniel on September 27, 2006 at 3:46 AM | PERMALINK

I always rather liked the statistic that President Bush took more vacation days in his first term than the average American can expect to take in his entire life...

Posted by: ajay on September 27, 2006 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

This is easily the single biggest problem Europe has with Americans. My McMansion drives them up a wall.

No, the single biggest problem that Europe has with Americans is the Americans, up to and including your leader, that attempt to define and involve themself in every problem in the world despite showing no evidence that they have any idea what the fuck they are dealing with.

Examples would be your current administration, anyone mind-bogglingly stupid enough to describe "European culture" as some sort of monolithic entity, and anyone who advocates "advancing democracy" without understanding that their own voting machines could be hacked by a 14-year old script kiddy.

Posted by: slightly peeved on September 27, 2006 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

s peeved.

No, it's not that. It's the McMansions and the 3 car garages filled with SUVs and other gas guzzlers combined with the fact no one in America save for a few John Kerry and George Clooney types give a rats ass what Europeans think about anything. Think about it. We always ignore them. Most Americans don't really disagree with them. They don't care enough to understand their opinions on many issues.

Check our Global Warming. The Europeans are true blue believers in Kyoto. The libs could not get a single Senator to support Kyoto. NOT ONE! The great Bill Clinton, smartest man in the world could not get one Senator to support Kyoto, NOT ONE!

Europe just doesn't matter here. They know it and it drives them bonkers.

Posted by: rdw on September 27, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Daniel,

Thank you and I do enjoy it. I once got 6 weeks vacation. Now I get 523 weeks. I'm retired. I'm 52.


I do hope for your sake you can choose to work a bit more. There's no way you can finance the current welfare state. You need a lot of kids and that's not an option.

Posted by: rdw on September 27, 2006 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

doesn't mean the kids are going to follow their parents' footsteps

You get a phd in stating the obvious. It does not mean the children of secularists willb e secularists either.

Posted by: rdw on September 27, 2006 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

razorboy nailed it!

Posted by: Cal Gal on September 27, 2006 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

"what are we going to call the coming depression?"

Morning in America?

Posted by: Cal Gal on September 27, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Cal Gal,

Still waiting for the depression? This is America princess. Look to Europe.

Posted by: rdw on September 27, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Read and weep libbies:


Demographics: Bad for Demofascists

Absolutely fascinating:

Republican House members overwhelmingly come from districts that have high percentages of married people and lots of children, according to a USA TODAY analysis of 2005 Census Bureau data released last month.

GOP Congress members represent 39.2 million children younger than 18, about 7 million more than Democrats. Republicans average 7,000 more children per district.

Many Democrats represent areas that have many single people and relatively few children. Democratic districts that have large numbers of children tend to be predominantly Hispanic or, to a lesser extent, African-American.

In a separate but related article:

Twenty-seven of the 38 Republican-held districts with seats considered vulnerable by independent political analysts have fewer married people than found in the average GOP district. The USA TODAY analysis also shows that:

Republicans control 49 of the 50 districts with the highest rates of married people.

Democrats represent all 50 districts that have the highest rates of adults who have never married.

On top of being unelectable due to their hatred of America and not repopulating, they are aborting and gaying themselves out of existence.

Posted by: rdw on September 28, 2006 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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