Italy’s Fiscal and Demographic Death Spiral

July 5, 2016

An overly generous welfare state combined with demographic decline. There’s a recipe for national collapse.

International Liberty

European economic analysts are paying too much attention to the United Kingdom and too little attention to Italy.

Yes, the Brexit decision is important, and the United Kingdom is the world’s 5th-largest economy so it merits attention to see if there are any speed bumps as it escapes from the slowly sinking ship otherwise known as the European Union.

But one of the other passengers on that doomed ship is Italy, the world’s 8th-largest economy. And if the UK merits attention because of uncertainty on its way to a brighter future, then Italy should be getting five-alarm focus for its festering economic crisis as it descends into chaos.

Part of that crisis is quasi-permanent stagnation, as illustrated by this map showing changes in per-capita economic output since 1995.

To state that Italy is the slow student in the class is an understatement. There’s been a two-decade period with…

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French President Approaches Cliff, Steps on Accelerator

January 19, 2016

France has been dirigiste since Louis XIV centralized all power under him, and the French leadership has been trapped in that intellectual straitjacket ever since. The idea of lowering the burden of government and letting market forces work is probably inconceivable to President Hollande — and most of his people.

International Liberty

When I wrote back in 2012 that France was committing fiscal suicide, I should have guessed that President Hollande would get impatient and push for even more statism.

Sure enough, the BBC reports that France’s President has a new plan. The ostensible goal is to reduce unemployment, but the practical effect is to expand the size and scope of government.

President Francois Hollande has set out a €2bn (£1.5bn) job creation plan in an attempt to lift France out of what he called a state of “economic emergency”. Under a two-year scheme, firms with fewer than 250 staff will get subsidies if they take on a young or unemployed person for six months or more. In addition, about 500,000 vocational training schemes will be created.

Needless to say, if subsidies and handouts were the key to job creation, France already would have full employment.

In reality, real jobs are created

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C.S. Lewis understood the Left very well, indeed

January 3, 2016

It’s hard to find a better description of  one of the key characteristics of the Left –from mild progressive to hard-core communist– than this:

Lewis on the Left

In other words, the Left believes it has figured out History, is certain that it flows in just one direction and where it ends, and that they themselves are the ones best able to facilitate this. Whether you want it or not.

Or, as I like to say, “God save me from those who want to save me.”

Via someone on Twitter, can’t recall who. smiley I dont know


Scholarly Evidence against the Welfare State

September 28, 2015

One of these days, we’re going to come to our economic senses. Soon, I hope.

International Liberty

I repeatedly try to convince people that the welfare state is bad for both taxpayers and poor people.

Sometimes I’ll add some more detailed economic analysis and explain that redistribution programs undermine growth by reducing labor supply (with Obamacare being the latest example).

And I’ve even explained that the welfare state has a negative impact on savings and wealth accumulation (these dramatic charts show Social Security debt in America compared to ever-growing nest eggs in Australia’s private pension system).

But if new research from the European Central Bank (ECB) is any indication, I should be giving more emphasis to this final point.

Culling from the abstract, here’s the key finding from the working paper by Pirmin Fessler and Martin Schürz.

…multilevel cross-country regressions show that the degree of welfare state spending across countries is negatively correlated with household net wealth. These findings suggest that social services provided by…

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Back to Square One: Unlawful Collusion with Green Pressure Groups Should Doom U.S. EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Regulation

July 30, 2015

Oh, really? Why, oh why am I not shocked to find collusion between Green statists in the government and climate alarmist groups?

Watts Up With That?

EPA_collusion
Washington, D.C. — Today, the Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal), a 501 (c) (3) watchdog group, released an investigatory report, Back to Square One: Unlawful Collusion with Green Pressure Groups Should Doom U.S. EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Regulation  and an appendix of source documents.  The report, which is based on e-mails and other documents obtained under numerous Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests and litigation, details illegal activities by EPA staff, colluding with certain environmental lobbyists to draft EPA’s greenhouse gas (GHG) rules behind the scenes, outside of public view, and to the exclusion of other parties.  More importantly, it clearly shows that EPA must start anew if it wishes to regulate GHGs. (A two-minute companion video is available for use.)
With EPA’s GHG rules going final any day, it is critical to inform the public of the emails detailed in this report for what they show about how…

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(Video) Nazism and Communism, brothers on the Left

June 7, 2015

One of the great intellectual errors I’ve had to clear myself of in recent years was the belief that Nazism and Communism, Fascism and Bolshevism, were opposites. I’d been taught that the former was the extreme Right, while the latter was the extreme Left.

This is wrong. Both are creations of the Left, ideologies that place the State above the individual and loath free-market capitalism. Jonah Goldberg does a wonderful job explaining that in his Liberal Fascism. But, if you haven’t time to read that (1), this video from Conservative MEP Dan Hannan gives a good quick summary of why, for all their differences, at their core Nazism and Communism were very much alike.

Footnote:
(1) Do yourself a favor and make the time. This book is worth it.


Instead of Ending Poverty, Big Government Subsidizes Dependency

May 20, 2015

I wish more people would see this: while begun with the best of intentions, the welfare state only traps people in poverty, providing an anchor that weighs against bettering their own lot.

International Liberty

President Obama recently took part in a poverty panel at Georgetown University. By D.C. standards, it was ideologically balanced since there were three statists against one conservative (I’ve dealt with that kind of “balance” when dealing with the media, as you can see here and here).

You won’t be surprised to learn that the President basically regurgitated the standard inside-the-beltway argument that caring for the poor means you have to support bigger government and more redistribution.

Many observers were unimpressed. Here’s some of what Bill McGurn wrote for the Wall Street Journal.

The unifying progressive contention here is the assertion that America isn’t “investing” enough in the poor—by which is meant the government isn’t spending enough. …President Obama…went on to declare it will be next to impossible to find “common ground” on poverty until his critics accept his spending argument.

I think this argument is nonsense. We’re spending record…

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