Last night I caught a clip of Fareed Zakaria’s show on CNN. I’d been watching much more important things–pro football–but I can’t stand the ads on AFN (American Forces Network) so I channel surf when I have to. I’ve had mixed thoughts about Zakaria, primarily because i felt he pandered a bit to the Left when things were going badly in Iraq. All in all though, I think I like him and appreciate his opinions.
Zakaria was talking about the current state of world economics. He listed three factors that have complicated the problems America and Europe Face.
1) An aging population. As people in Western nations age and retire, they need ever increasing money from the retirement system. The amount of young people in the work force whom pay taxes which support those retirement systems are dwindling. The crisis in Greece resulted from primarily two factors: The death spiral birth rates which cannot replenish the workforce and a lack of any economic growth.
2) Advancing technology. Zakaria contends that technology improves efficiency to such a degree that employers no longer need to employ as many people. I’m not convinced this is the issue that Zakaria believes. First, the unemployment rate in the US effectively doubled in about three years. This had nothing to do with advancing technology. Secondly, while it may take fewer people to make a single pair shoes than it used to, manufacturers make more pairs of shoes. Then those shoes make their way to every corner of the world, something that could not happen before technology multiplied the power of the individual person. Technology, in my opinion, has not lessened the need for workers, because more production and distribution is now required and expected of the individual–and that’s because of technology. Corporations look not only for efficiency, but more production. As I used to joke when I was a police officer: The advanced technology available to police did not make their jobs easier, it only upped the expectation for productivity from the department and increased the amount of evidence required to get a conviction.
3) Globalization. Globalization allows employers to outsource labor.
While all of these things have some impact, I think that Zakaria skips over the cultural shift occurring throughout America. The cultural war inside the US is tearing it apart; the “have-nots” now expect success be handed to them. Moreover, multiculturalism is instigating conflict. The West is now like a man who walks around grinding his teeth all the time, but he can’t figure out why he does it. He feels an internal stress that he finds inexplicable. That stress is the breaking down of trust, the great binder of all societies. Samuel Huntington said that culture is made up of two things: Religion and language. These two things breed trust.
The economists can see the technical reasons for the financial problems in the US and Europe. But as our culture rips apart, the experts will find it more and more difficult to implement the changes necessary to prevent self-destruction. Europe will disintegrate before America, but the weakening of America will accelerate Europe’s insolvency. The Demographic numbers in Europe are undeniable–and they cannot be changed in our lifetimes, or in the next. Germany’s birthrate per woman is 1.42, [CIA World Fact Book, 2010] which is a world away from the 2.1 births per woman required merely to sustain a population. But 1.42 doesn’t tell the whole story, because that number is significantly bolstered by immigrant birthrates, particularly Muslim birthrates on the order of 7 per female. The Germans brought in many Turkish people in the 1970s because the workforce was significantly undermanned. Such is the case throughout Europe, where Thatcher’s prediction of government running out of other people’s money have come true: more old people on the retirement system and fewer young people to work and provide taxes. Greece’s birthrate’s are even lower and the country imploded. Italy is next: Witness that country’s anemic 1.32 birthrate. Bye bye bistro.
Democracy is a tool for change and in Democracy, anything can change. Voters whom bring third or second world cultural views to Europe will change Europe. They already have.
We are living the classic Chinese curse. We are living in interesting times. We can now see for ourselves how Rome fell, and recognize that it fell on its own sword. The problems in America are evident in everything from America’s economic woes to it’s inability to defeat a band of toothless dirt farmers in Afghanistan.
The election of Barack Obama has hastened America’s demise, but it is not the cause. His election was a symptom of the changes brought upon the country. As Pat Buchanan will outline in his upcoming book: The Suicide of a Superpower, America and Europe are fracturing upon racial lines. Blacks in America voted for Barack Obama at a 24:1 ratio, primarily because of his African American heritage. The more we have talked about race in America, the more racially divided we have become. While laws do protect minorities more than they did in the past, the level of distrust along racial divides is as great as ever.
As the culture shift occurs, the new demography continues to vote itself a bigger chunk of the welfare pie. And it’s only just begun. The birthrate issues in Europe are virtually irreversible. There is simply no arguing the math. The only argument is that people can change the way they think and vote. But if we think that entire cultures suddenly change the way they think without a catastrophe as the motivator, we should look over our history books again. The decline of the West is inevitable at this point. The question is, What does that mean for the rest of the world? It is not the death of democracy we are witnessing, only it’s little talked about dark side.
The recent speeches by US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and NATO General Anders Fogh Rasmussen highlight Europe’s growing dependence on American military power. Europe is withering. Suckling on the teet of the American hegemon, Brussels has enjoyed the protection of the world’s greatest power and yet at times has been so critical of American interventionism that many Europeans resemble the two grumpy old men from The Muppet Show, Statler and Waldorf, hurling insults from afar and yet never failing to buy tickets and watch the show.
We must ask what Europe’s welfare state has bought them. A reluctance to spend on defense could be understood if in fact Europe’s quality of life were significantly better than Americas, but it’s not. Europeans should ask their respective governments how high taxes, hyper-regulation, and an impoverished military industrial complex manifestly makes Europe stronger, it’s people safer or happier.