Thomas Couture, Les Romains de la décadence [Romans in the Period of Decadence], 1847, Musée d’Orsay, Paris
And even Ross Douthat begins to recognize in the distance the final stop at end of the rail line of progressive modernism.
It’s a near-universal law that modernity reduces fertility. ...
American fertility plunged with the stock market in 2008, and it hasn’t recovered. Last week, the Pew Research Center reported that U.S. birthrates hit the lowest rate ever recorded in 2011, with just 63 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age. (The rate was 71 per 1,000 in 1990.) For the first time in recent memory, Americans are having fewer babies than the French or British. ...
Beneath… policy debates, though, lie cultural forces that no legislator can really hope to change. The retreat from child rearing is, at some level, a symptom of late-modern exhaustion — a decadence that first arose in the West but now haunts rich societies around the globe. It’s a spirit that privileges the present over the future, chooses stagnation over innovation, prefers what already exists over what might be. It embraces the comforts and pleasures of modernity, while shrugging off the basic sacrifices that built our civilization in the first place.
Daniel Greenfield, in another brilliant piece, explains that Diversity is not just a moral preference for the left.
The left’s utopias are not only economically unsustainable (what else is new) but also politically and demographically unsustainable. The economics can’t be fixed, but the politics and demographics can. As with all of the left’s solutions, they involve finding ways of making things much, much worse. And their answer to the demographic and political problem is immigration. Bring in young people from elsewhere who will have lots of kids and vote the straight slanted ticket. Preferably the kind who won’t get along with the locals and will be taught to constantly complain about racism, even though back where they’re from, racism was as accepted as daylight drug deals and beheadings.
Bring them in, run their kids through the same system, add a few holidays to the calendar, enjoy the new ethnic foods and hopefully teach their kids to stop having so many kids if they want to retire at 55 and fill their house with knickknacks from their vacations in Greece and Brazil. And then fill the new gap with more immigrants. It’s a plan that makes as much economic sense as the European Union and is twice as sustainable. After all lots of people in the world want free health care and a passport from a country that won’t collapse into a murderous civil war when the price of bread goes through the minaret.
And if the assimilation program doesn’t work, well then you only have to bring in half as many immigrants next time around, because all those countries you brought those immigrants from are now in your own country. Saves on jet fuel and coast guards. Not to mention language lessons, though it usually turns out that you need them anyway because your excellent schools no longer seem to be doing such a good job of teaching your own language and what used to be your language is now an argot composed of the languages of your immigrants and bits of your own language processed into the fake street slang of rap stars. And before you know it, you’re using it too.
It’s a dead end. It’s Rome with the barbarians sorting through the loot. It’s China when the wall fell. It’s Byzantium when the Bedouin raiders poured through and began the centuries long process of tearing apart Middle Eastern Christianity, that Islam wrapped up. It’s the long fall of civilization into night with a bloody pension and a hell of a retirement plan lost somewhere in the middle of a pile of broken marble columns.
But it keeps the left alive. Without diversity, the left is a bunch of corpulent unions protecting their pensions while the young people look at brochures of London and Los Angeles and finish their fourth degree. Without it, the left eventually dries up, blows away in the wind and dies after running a few protests against austerity and then has to implement it anyway.
Diversity isn’t a moral principle. It’s oxygen for a dead movement. It’s the only way that the left can stay alive long enough to fulfill the accidental mission of every parasite by killing its host. It’s the numbers game and as long as the left can cobble together these coalitions built on the backs of immigrants and tied together with community associations and piles of free stuff, then it can go on squatting on a society, dipping its proboscis in the sweet nectar of wealth and power, and then when the nectar runs out, switching to sipping its blood.
Singaporeans are encouraged to show their patriotic fervor by displaying their country’s flag proudly, sharing snapshots of their favorite local foods and dancing along to a fresh new national theme song.
But there is another, distinctly unofficial, national song in Singapore these days. It is asking locals to try something else on their country’s big day: Make love for Singapore.
Mentos mints created an ad campaign to urge Singaporeans to increase the city-state’s birth rate, which is among the lowest in the world.
The soulful rap, which is part of a new ad campaign to promote Mentos mints, is called “National Night,” and it exhorts Singaporeans to “do their civic duty” to help solve the city-state’s low birthrate by making a baby on Aug. 9.
“It’s National Night, let’s make Singapore’s birthrate spike,” a female vocalist sings over jittery synthesizers and drumbeats, as her male counterpart shouts phrases like “that’s right” and “the birthrate won’t spike itself!”
“Singapore’s population, it needs some increasin’, so forget waving flags, August 9th we be freaking,” the rap continues.
The song has gone viral, taking on a life of its own on social networks across the famously staid city-state. It is also raising the eyebrows of older residents who fret that it is mocking a serious issue.
Singapore’s leaders have worried for years about the country’s birthrate, which is among the lowest in the world at 7.72 births per 1,000 people. ...
My wife reminded me that not everybody is on Facebook, so here is a direct link to the 3:17 astonishing and appalling video.
And some people think that NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg is intrusive.
Anselm Kiefer, Abendland (Twilight of the West), 1989
Mark Steyn gloomily predicts that the attempts of politicians to deliver material comfort, cradle-to-the-grave security, and substantial life intervals of leisure to the masses are not compatible with economic reality.
In the twilight of the West, America and Europe are still different but only to this extent: They’ve wound up taking separate paths to the same destination. Whether you get there via an artificial common currency for an invented pseudo-jurisdiction or through quantitative easing and the global decline of the dollar, whether you spend your final years in the care of Medicare or the National Health Service death panels, whether higher education is just another stage of cradle-to-grave welfare or you have a trillion dollars’ worth of personal college debt, in 2012 the advanced Western social-democratic citizen looks pretty similar, whether viewed from Greece or Germany, California or Quebec.
That’s to say, the unsustainable “bubble” is not student debt or subprime mortgages or anything else. The bubble is us, and the assumptions of entitlement. Too many citizens of advanced Western democracies live a life they have not earned, and are not willing to earn. ...
Look around you. The late-20th-century Western lifestyle isn’t going to be around much longer. In a few years’ time, our children will look at old TV commercials showing retirees dancing, golfing, cruising away their sixties and seventies, and wonder what alternative universe that came from. In turn, their children will be amazed to discover that in the early 21st century the Western world thought it entirely normal that vast swathes of the citizenry should while away their youth enjoying what, a mere hundred years earlier, would have been the leisurely varsity of the younger son of a Mitteleuropean Grand Duke.
As usual, Mark Steyn’s rhetoric is well worth the read, but I do not entirely agree.
I think it’s true that the dynamic of egalitarian democracy by its nature faces the fundamental danger of an ongoing benefits auction for the masses’ political support which will always in the end wind up devouring too great a portion of the economy resulting in disaster.
But I think myself, on the other hand, that, if government regulation and economic meddling were minimized and the burden of taxation was modest, economic growth could create and sustain an economically-independent and leisured middle class, much larger than the vanished one which existed in Britain and America before 1914. It’s just not possible to lift all the boats all at once.
I do strongly agree with Mark Steyn that our current model of near-universal college education, consisting of four years of leisure and good times combined with plenty of left-wing indoctrination, represents a simply astounding waste of human energy and talent.
Between useless high school and useless college, millions upon millions of people today fritter away what are actually their most healthy, energetic, and potentially productive years imbibing modest quantities of learning, having a good time, and being flattered into believing that are members of an omniscient elite charged with the revolutionary overthrow of a wicked and stupid past. It would be infinitely better all the way around if 90+% of everyone simply went to work at 13, as my parents’ generation generally did.
Mark Steyn admires the statesmanship that, in a time when a nation is about to find itself with an insufficient working population to fund Social Security payments for all its retirees, prioritizes mandating the provision of contraception.
[T]he Baby Boomers did not have enough children to maintain mid-20th century social programs. As a result, the children they did have will end their lives in a poorer, uglier, sicker, more divided and more violent society.
How to avert this fate? In 2009 Nancy Pelosi called for free contraceptives as a form of economic stimulus.
Ten thousand Americans retire every day, and leave insufficient progeny to pick up the slack. In effect, Nancy has rolled a giant condom over the entire American economy.
Testifying before Congress, Timmy Geithner referred only to “demographic challenges” — an oblique allusion to the fact that the U.S. economy is about to be terminally clobbered by 100 trillion dollars of entitlement obligations it can never meet.
And, as Chart 5-1 on page 58 of the official Obama budget “Analytical Perspectives” makes plain, your feckless, decadent rulers have no plans to do anything about it.
Instead, the Democrats shriek, ooh, Republican prudes who can’t get any action want to shut down your sex life! According to CBO projections, by midcentury mere interest payments on the debt will exceed federal revenues.
For purposes of comparison, by 1788 Louis XVI’s government in France was spending a mere 60% of revenues on debt service, and we know how that worked out for His Majesty shortly thereafter.
Not to worry, says Barry Antoinette. Let them eat condoms.
This is a very curious priority for a dying republic. “Birth control” is accessible, indeed ubiquitous, and, by comparison with anything from a gallon of gas to basic cable, one of the cheapest expenses in the average budget. Not even Rick Santorum, that notorious scourge of the sexually liberated, wishes to restrain the individual right to contraception.
But where is the compelling societal interest in the state prioritizing and subsidizing it? Especially when you’re already the Brokest Nation in History. Elsewhere around the developed world, prudent politicians are advocating natalist policies designed to restock their empty maternity wards.
My hatred of the Boomers, who have brainwashed and wasted these kids is boundless. There is nothing wrong with them. They have just never been taught anything but bullshit. They have been betrayed by their parents and their teachers. It is very depressing. The country has been shamefully dumbed down.
Reading all this with just a little partisan bias, I’d say that he then blames left-wing Baby Boomers for both the intellectual vacuity of their young epigones and for the country’s inability to reform its policies and effectively address the current crisis.
They say they want a revolution. To have a revolution, you must have a secular social catechism that accumulates the sort of strategic effects that will trigger a fatal split in our current set of societal elites. In the crisis so far, we’ve only seen dusty formulas trotted out by ancient and creaky Boomers yearning re-fight the glorious battles of youth.
Here’s an unintended side-effect of extended human lifespans: ideological stasis. To butcher Max Planck: a political notion does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. Boomers, given unnaturally long biological life by historical developments they barely comprehend, give unnaturally long life to their foolishly destructive notions. Society may stagnate in some areas while progressing in others with unforeseen effects. This may make the process of sorting out of what’s needed to grapple with our current predicament prolonged, painful, and prone to triggering frustration and outbreaks of corrective violence.
Go tell the Boomers that, in the words of Oliver Cromwell and Leo Amery:
You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!
J.T. Young, at Investors’ Business Daily, points out some crucial home truths about the political future of the United States: liberals are too unrealistic to be trusted with governing authority and there are simply not enough of them to win except in a situation like 2008 when all the cards fall in their favor.
Can liberals govern America? That is the real question the federal budget deficit poses them. Budget deficits — at every level of government, and particularly in Washington — are a recognized threat. For this president, to whom liberals give overwhelming support, they are no less a threat.
As liberals refuse to let the deficit be addressed seriously through spending cuts, they need to consider the central fact of their existence. According to exit polling of the 2010 election (Edison Media Research/Mitofsky International) they constituted just 20% of the electorate. A bad year for liberals undoubtedly, but even in their halcyon days of 2008, they were just 22%. Over their highs and lows of the past four national elections, liberals have averaged just one-fifth (20.8%) of the electorate.
During the same time, conservatives have averaged 35.5% of the electorate.
America’s political lesson for liberals is twofold. Both liberals and conservatives need moderates to win national elections.
But liberals need moderates a lot more … because they need a lot more of them. Liberals need two-thirds of the moderate vote to reach a majority. Conservatives need only one-third.
If liberals can see neither the economics nor the politics of Obama’s Wednesday decision, they need only see themselves for what they are: the smallest of America’s three ideological groups by a wide margin. They can win elections only as a minority partner. They can expect governing to be no different. If that is unacceptable, they must be comfortable as a perpetual nongoverning minority.
The president’s speech on Wednesday recognizes this reality. It is unclear if America’s liberals do.
Pete Robinson reflects gloomily about Republican prospects, noting that the Republican base is bound to dwindle as the national illegitimacy rate skyrockets. (AEI article:)
Forty years after the Moynihan report, the tragic saga of the modern black family is common knowledge. But the tale of family breakdown in modern America is no longer a story delimited to a single ethnic minority. Today the family is also in crisis for this country’s ethnic majority: the so-called white American population….
Consider trends in out-of-wedlock births. By 2002, 28.5 percent of babies of white mothers were born outside marriage in this country. Over the past generation, the white illegitimacy rate has exploded, quadrupling since 1975, when the level was 7.1 percent. The overall illegitimacy rate for whites is higher than it was for black mothers (23.6 percent) when the Moynihan report sounded its alarm….
Today no state in the Union has an Anglo illegitimacy ratio as low as 10 percent. Even in predominantly Mormon Utah, every eighth non-Hispanic white infant is born out of wedlock.
Pete discusses these demographics over dinner in Hanover, New Hampshire with Mark Steyn, who points out that the dramatic changes to the American national character can be readily observed even in rural Northern New England.
For miles in every direction, Mark noted, lay country that until just a few decades ago represented the heartland, so to speak, of the flinty, resourceful, independent Yankee spirit. Now? “You’ll see lovely girls in the local high schools,” Mark said. “When you come across them again five years later, they’ll each have three children by three different fathers.” Then Mark told a story.
In colonial times, it was against crown law to cut down any pine that exceeded a certain girth—twenty-some inches, as I recall—because all such trees were reserved for the use of the Royal Navy, which required a ready supply of masts. Every time you see a colonial house with floorboards more than two feet wide, you’re witnessing an artifact of the American spirit—an act of rebellion. Mark pointed to the floorboards in the restaurant, some of which were certainly more than two feet wide. “Two centuries ago,” he said, “the families in these parts were felling trees in defiance of the crown. Today they’re raising their children on welfare checks.”
Woe to us all.
It probably is worth noting that both of the last two presidents elected by the democrat party may not have been born in wedlock. William Jefferson Clinton, given the name William Jefferson Blythe III at birth, is widely rumored not to have really been the offspring of the traveling salesman William Blythe II who perished in an automobile crash three months before Bill Clinton’s birth. Barack Hussein Obama is certainly of illegitimate birth, as his parents’ marriage was bigamous and invalid.
Barack Obama, Sr. had married Kezia Aoko aka “Grace” in 1954 and had already had two children, prior to his attending the University of Hawaii and marrying Stanley Ann Dunham in 1961. No divorce from Kezia ever occurred, and Barack Sr.’s first wife Kezia is still alive today.
Megan McArdle argues that the era of unionized public sector pension benefits keeping retirees living on full salary for decades is over. Demographics giveth and demographics taketh away.
It was nice that a combination of rising life expectancy and broader pension coverage allowed a large segment of American workers to take what amounted to a multi-decade vacation. (Though this was never quite as widespread as people now “remember”). But this was never going to be sustainable. Retirement experts typically say that retirees should shoot for 75-90% of their working income in retirement (the theory being that some expenses fall, but other expenses rise, and you don’t need to save for retirement when you’re already retired).
That’s fine when the ratio of workers to retirees is 1:12, as it was within the Social Security system in the early years. But by the time you get to 5:1, it starts to pinch—assuming everyone has the same income, each worker has to toss at least 15% of their own income into the pot to support the retirees. Once you get to 2:1—which is where we’re rapidly headed—33% of your income is going to support someone in retirement. Woe betide you if you also have kids.
It’s important to note that this is true no matter how retirement is funded. Whether you collect a dividend check, get a corporate pension, or live off your social security, your retirement is funded by real claims on the output of people in the workforce. Private pensions have a couple of advantages: the investments that fund them actually help make the economy more productive, unlike transfer payments; and they aren’t necessarily indexed to inflation, so over time, as incomes grow, it becomes easier to support the older retirees. But they don’t eliminate the problem; they merely mitigate it.
Mathematically, society simply cannot have a high and growing dependency ratio—at least, not if the retirees expect to be supported in the style to which they have become accustomed. (I take it that this is what is meant by “a decent living and a stable retirement”). We can warehouse people in spartan old folks homes (or treat them like kids and move them into the spare bedroom), in which case they can enjoy a lengthy retirement. Or they can retire for less time, and live more lavishly. But there is no conceivable system that is going to allow the vast majority of the population to spend a full third of their adult life in retirement, at anything like the same standard of living they had when they were working.
Mark Steyn watches Greece arrive at the end point of the road Europe is well along, and on to which Obama has turned the United States.
From the Times of London: “The President of Greece warned last night that his country stood on the brink of the abyss after three people were killed when an anti-government mob set ﬁre to the Athens bank where they worked.”
Almost right. They were not an “anti-government” mob, but a government mob, a mob comprised largely of civil servants. That they are highly uncivil and disinclined to serve should come as no surprise: they’re paid more and they retire earlier, and that’s how they want to keep it. So they’re objecting to austerity measures that would end, for example, the tradition of 14 monthly paycheques per annum. You read that right: the Greek public sector cannot be bound by anything so humdrum as temporal reality. So, when it was mooted that the “workers” might henceforth receive a mere 12 monthly paycheques per annum, they rioted. Their hapless victims—a man and two women—were a trio of clerks trapped in a bank when the mob set it alight and then obstructed emergency crews attempting to rescue them.
Unlovely as they are, the Greek rioters are the logical end point of the advanced social democratic state: not an oppressed underclass, but a pampered overclass, rioting in defence of its privileges and insisting on more subsidy, more benefits, more featherbedding, more government. ...
Traditionally, a bank is a means by which old people with capital lend to young people with ideas. But the advanced democracies with their mountains of sovereign debt are in effect old people who’ve blown through their capital and are all out of ideas looking for young people flush enough to bail them out. And the idea that it might be time for the spendthrift geezers to change their ways butts up against their indestructible moral vanity. Last year, President Sarkozy said that the G20 summit provided “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give capitalism a conscience.” European capitalism may have a conscience. It’s not clear it has a pulse. And, actually, when you’re burning Greek bank clerks to death in defence of your benefits, your “conscience” isn’t much in evidence, either.
Let us take it as read that Greece is an outlier. As waggish officials in Brussels and Strasbourg will tell you, it only snuck into the EU due to some sort of clerical error. It’s a cesspit of sloth and corruption even by Mediterranean standards. On my last brief visit, Athens was a visibly decrepit dump: a town with a handful of splendid ancient ruins surrounded by a multitude of hideous graffiti-covered contemporary ruins. If you were going to cut one “advanced” social democracy loose and watch it plunge into the abyss pour encourager les autres, it would be hard to devise a better candidate than Greece.
And yet and yet . . . riot-wracked Athens isn’t that much of an outlier. Greece’s 2010 budget deficit is 12.2 per cent of GDP; Ireland’s is 14.7. Greece’s debt is 125 per cent of GDP; Italy’s is 117 per cent. Greece’s 65-plus population will increase from 18 per cent in 2005 to 25 per cent in 2030; Spain’s will increase from 17 per cent to 25 per cent. As lazy, feckless, squalid, corrupt and violent as Greece undoubtedly is, it’s not that untypical. It’s where the rest of Europe’s headed, and Japan and North America shortly thereafter. About half the global economy is living beyond not only its means but its diminished number of children’s means.
Instead of addressing that basic fact, countries with government debt of 125 per cent of GDP are being “rescued” by countries with government debt of 80 per cent of GDP. Good luck with that. Alas, the world has deemed Greece “too big to fail,” even though in (what’s the word?) reality it’s too big not to fail. And the rest of us are too big not to follow in its path. ...
Greece, wrote Theodore Dalrymple, is “a cradle not only of democracy but of democratic corruption”—of electorates who give their votes to leaders who bribe them with baubles purchased by borrowing against a future that can never pay it off. The future is now here, and the riots will spread.
Paul Kengor thinks today’s youth deserves it for supporting Obama.
There’s a collective outcry from conservatives bemoaning the “generational debt” that President Obama is in the process of placing upon this country, particularly its youth. They’re right, of course. But why complain?
It seems only fitting to me that the voters responsible for electing Obama ought to be saddled with the consequences. Let ‘em pay.
Barack Obama’s victory in the 2008 presidential election marked the first time a Democrat won a majority of all votes cast for president since 1964. Political scientists had widely forecast a Democratic victory in 2008 based on the faltering economy and the shift in party identification. But there were reasons to temper confidence in such forecasts. First, similar predictions had failed in 2000, and Obama faced a candidate viewed as far more moderate than he. Second, and most significant, Obama is black. If ever there was a situation where the old politics of race would drag a Democrat down, this was it. Why, then, did Obama win? Closer examination of exit polls points to a surprising conclusion. Obama won because of race—because of his particular appeal among black voters, because of the changing political allegiances of Hispanics, and because he did not provoke a backlash among white voters. ...
The percentage of blacks voting for the Democratic presidential candidate rose from 88 percent in 2004 to 95 percent in 2008; the percentage of Hispanics voting for the Democrats rose from 56 percent in 2004 to 67 percent in 2008—swings of 7 and 11 percent. White voters, the largest racial group, increased their support of the Democratic candidate by just 2 percentage points, from 41 percent for Kerry to 43 percent for Obama. Changes in turnout further magnified the swing in support. Whites represent a dwindling share of the electorate: 81 percent in 2000, 77 percent in 2004, and 74 percent in 2008. Blacks, by contrast, increased from 10 percent in 2000 to 11 percent in 2004 to 13 percent in 2008; Hispanics increased from 6 percent in 2000 to 8 percent in 2004 to 9 percent in 2008. Of the two effects, increased support of Democrats by nonwhite voters was critical. Had the racial composition of the electorate stayed the same in 2008 as it was in 2004, and had whites remained as supportive of Republicans as they were in 2004, Obama would still have won the popular vote, albeit by a much smaller margin. But, had Blacks and Hispanics voted Democratic in 2008 at the rates they had in 2004 while whites cast 43 percent of their vote for Obama, McCain would have won.
Republicans cannot increase white birthrates or diminish black and Hispanic, but they could relinquish Nativism and recognize that illegal aliens overwhelmingly come here to perform work that Americans want and need done at wage rates Americans can afford to pay.
Conservative leaders (Rush Limbaugh and Michelle Malkin among others) made a big mistake in whipping up the base on the illegal aliens issue. Roman Catholic ethnic voters who work for a living and have strong family values are natural Republican voters. We just need to woo them away from the politics of dependency and group grievances. We need to stop playing law-and-order games with respect to people really guilty at root only of the voluntary exchange of labor for money made illegal by ill-considered, out-of-control immigration laws mired in occult political processes and intractable to reform.
Post-election studies find increased turnout in democrat constituencies this year, but less than optimal Republican. In other words, the democrats maxed out their potential votes, but we didn’t. In another year, when the Republican candidate is an articulate and firmly principled conservative, and when the democrats haven’t got a pop star with special constituency appeal to one particular democrat bloc, respective turnouts are going to be different.
By one estimate …, some 131.2 million Americans cast ballots for president this time around, or 61.6 percent of eligible voters. That’s a high turnout, to be sure, and represents a 1.5-percentage-point increase over the 60.1 percent turnout rate of 2004, according to Michael McDonald, a professor of government at George Mason University who tracks voting.
But it’s still below the 62.5 percent rate from 1968, and falls far short of the 65.7 percent record set in 1908—a record that earlier this year, McDonald suggested Americans just might approach.
Some have seized on the absence of more dramatic increases as evidence that this year’s voter surge was just another overhyped media myth. A closer look at the data, however, suggests plenty of historic trends. Turnout increased most sharply for certain blocs—especially 18-to-29-year-olds, African-Americans and Latinos. Turnout also surged more in certain regions of the country, such as the South. And there’s evidence that some GOP voters simply stayed home—driving down overall turnout.
“It is going to put a ceiling on your turnout if you only get one side to vote,” said Peter Levine, director of Tufts University’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, or CIRCLE.
Among other explanations, GOP nominee John McCain does not appear to have put together as formidable a ground operation as George W. Bush did in 2004. Whereas 24 percent of voters told exit pollsters they had been contacted by the Bush campaign four years ago, only 18 percent said the same of McCain this year, noted McDonald. By contrast, 26 percent of voters said they’d heard from President-elect Barack Obama’s campaign, the same percentage as reported contacts from Democratic nominee John Kerry’s team four years ago.
“It looks as though the McCain campaign did not do as good job of doing voter mobilization as the Bush campaign did in 2004,” McDonald said. “It might explain why Republican turnout seemed to be down in this election, particularly if we look at some of these battleground states.”
The Guardian describes how Europe’s intensely regulated employment policies are resulting in a generation of losers.
With inflation soaring, property prices sky high, wages relatively static, labour markets gridlocked and sluggish or slowing economies, ..tens of millions of Europeans raised to expect that their degrees and diplomas will assure them a relatively high quality of life.. are now realising that the world has changed. The disappointment is a shock with big political, social, cultural, even demographic consequences. ...
In 1973, only 6 per cent of recent university leavers in France were unemployed; now the rate is 25 to 30 per cent; salaries have stagnated for 20 years while property prices have doubled or trebled, though the overall proportion of French people living in poverty has not changed. Whereas in the 1960s the poor were mainly the old, now they are the young; in 1970, salaries for 50-year-olds were only 15 per cent higher than those for workers of 30; the gap now is 40 per cent.
‘Some talk of a war between the generations, but that’s a little simplistic. It is more that the system means that the haves are keeping what they have and no one is helping the have-nots,’ said Chauvel. ‘The big determinant in France now of success is not your educational level but the wealth of your parents, if they can support you during your twenties as you fight your way into a closed employment market.’
French economists speak of ‘insiders and outsiders’. The insiders are those who already have a job and are well-defended by the battery of French laws protecting the workforce and the unions. The outsiders are those without work which, naturally, include newcomers on the job market. Chauvel says the problem is particularly bad in Latin countries where parents are expected to support their children much longer.
But, cheer up, Europe! we have a political party right here in the United States firmly committed to bringing us European-style labor market regulations, too. They call themselves democrats, and they are favored to win in November.