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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Happy Fourth Of July

I hope you all have a fabulous Fourth. There are many things I could write to explain why we're so lucky to be Americans, and why we should celebrate and be thankful. But this small clip of a French gameshow (thank you, Lance, both for your service to our country and your service to South Carolina beauty queens' self-esteem) should really, really get the point across.

If we'd stayed a European colony, right now we could be this stupid. (This could explain a great deal about why the Europeans are so worried about global warming!

Ask a random sample of US citizens about how many branches of government and houses of legislature there are at the federal level. See if they can locate the US on a map of the world as a bonus question.

Before you get real pissy about the old Europe folks, they passed most of the health and safety regulations we take for granted long before we did, started social safety nets and even corporate retirement programs.

At the moment, I believe they have a higher standard of living, a better social network, longer life expectancy and a greater chance of survival at birth.

Since the jury is still on on global warming and the folks opposed to the theory are pretty much the same crowd that lost the ozone depletion debate decades ago, their credibility is suspect.

Granted a spirited debate is needed, declaring victory for the anti global warming folks not not something to bet on.
Vader - Bismarck. Bismarck was the big social welfare guy. Unfortunately, there was this war thingamabob he was into....

It's been very disputed, but the HDI is an attempt to measure a country's standard of living. According to this Wikipedia article, there is no statistically significant difference between say France & the US.

None of these measures is perfect, but for an open society that has about 12.5% foreign born residents, the US runs very high, ESPECIALLY given that many of those come from poor countries and have a much higher disease rate. That is around twice the French rate of foreign born residents. Canada is by far the highest-rated country with a big immigrant population - close to 20%.

Norway has more foreign born residents by percentage than France (between 7.5% and 7.8%) and ranks higher than France in HDI, but if you take out Danes and Swedes it is more like 5.5%.

The bottom line is that an open welfare society cannot allow huge immigration from poorer countries. A developed nation with low immigration or selected immigration will always look better statistically than a developed nation with higher immigration that is not carefully selected.

In terms of racism, provincialism, and so forth, I would rate the average American as way more tolerant than the average northern European. Old Europe has become a very elitist society, and now even France has problems. A lot of it appears to stem from the big public housing developments which inadvertently became welfare ghettos for recent immigrants, and spawned a lot of prejudice.
I found that post to be below you MoM. It was as low as the anti-Americanism you find on left wing blogs.

I and my family have lived and worked in Europe, Asia and the States. All have upsides and downsides, but Europe is hardly some illiterate backwater, and France is a country that has great public admirations for intellectuals - unlike the USA.

Perhaps is the US had remained a European colony it would at least have a decent public transport system by now, which would be useful today, wouldn't it? ;->

Also, frankly, I think anyone who is prepared to be so flippant about an issue like global warming when it could POSSIBLY (and I mean POSSIBLY) mean chaos and death for millions needs to take a step back and think for a minute. Would you rationally play an otherwise lucrative lottery if there was even a 10,000:1 chance (perhaps) of sudden execution if you pulled a 'booby' ticket?

Your economic analysis is excellent though. You out think 90% of market commentators.
That's it were're gone.
Let's weigh the risk of global warming against the risk of really severe damage resulting from the actions of the global warmer mongers.

Since what the global warmer mongers propose is straight out of the 20th century totalitarian / socialist playbook it's a sure thing it will be enormously destructive.

I believe America's purchasing power parity is much greater than Europe though.
Anon @ 7:26 - in a way I am joking, but I found that frightening. A - I have a soft spot for France for several reasons, and one of them is because that was the first country my grandfather got out to in his escape from Germany, there meeting my grandmother, whose family had already escaped. The second reason is that it is the other abstract democracy (founded on statements of principles, not an ethnic/cultural evolved consensus) so that in a way I feel its fate is linked to ours.

B - I very much doubt that a democracy can survive in our technologically dependent world if its citizens don't know (in aggregate) the difference between a satellite and a sun.

Think about the implications. In a democracy, ultimately the votes of the citizens will determine at least the direction of public policy. Is a population truly literate if it does not know the difference between a satellite and a sun?

Also, regarding CO2-induced anthropogenic global warming, it is time to be flippant about the CW on the subject, because the CW on the subject is veering ever further from the reality of the observations. A failure to deal seriously with that evidential chain takes CO2-induced AGW theory out of the realm of science and into the realm of something else entirely.

To describe this as a "possibility" makes no sense!!! Not any scientific sense, anyway. It's a theoretical possibility that Brownian motion could pile up all the oxygen molecules on one side of the room, but we'd be crazier than loons to fund and demand that every citizen walked around with an oxygen canister just in case.

The theory that appears quite strongly to have been falsified is that CO2-induced atmospheric effects will be greatly enhanced by H20 generated feedback. Barring that, no catastrophic CO2-induced warming will take place. It's an either-or, Anon. Talking of "possibilities" does not address the issue.

Finally, not only do I have the family European connection, but members of my family have worked all over the world, and I have heard the information about growing racism in northern Europe directly from them, as well as from other colleagues and connections.

PS: Did you look at the SC beauty queen clip? Wouldn't you agree that it presents a more, ah, balanced picture? At least the French blonde knew the answer!!!
Difficulties with PPP comparisons in welfare economics

While using PPP exchange rates for income comparison is an improvement over using market exchange rates, it is still imperfect, and comparisons using the PPP method can still be misleading. Comparing standards of living using the PPP method implicitly assumes that the real value placed on goods is the same in different countries. In reality, what is considered a luxury in one culture could be considered a necessity in another. The PPP method does not account for this. (This is not primarily a flaw in the exchange rate methodology, as cultural and interpersonal differences in utility functions are a more fundamental microeconomic problem.)

A PPP exchange rate varies depending on the choice of goods used for the index (CPI). Hence, it is possible to deliberately or accidentally bias a PPP exchange rate by the choice of a bundle. Indeed, it may be hard to construct equivalent representative bundles for the consumption habits of very different societies. PPP could also have difficulty accounting for differences in quality between goods in one country and equivalent goods in another, see: consumer price index.

Differing levels of government involvement in social spheres further complicate development of good CPI baskets (and, consequently, PPP measurements). For example, in 1986, nominal GDP of the United States was almost 4 times larger than the nominal GDP of the Soviet Union (on a per capita basis). Direct comparison failed to capture, however, that the Soviet Union provided free secondary and higher education and free healthcare to all its citizens, whereas Americans had to pay for education and healthcare themselves. To properly account for differences in quality of life in this situation, the CPI basket would have to include these expenditures explicitly. More importantly, government subsidies can potentially have large effect on consumption levels (free higher education will result in more college graduates), making it difficult to choose weights for individual components of CPI.

Even if a good PPP is used, GDP per capita is still a measure of the economic output of the whole economy, not a direct measure of the mean or median person's quality of life. Other factors such as the standards of homes and schools, access to public services, the extent of pollution, and strength of consumer protection laws are hard to quantify and generally not fully reflected in the GDP. Even a PPP-adjusted measure of GDP per capita must be used with caution, for all the usual reasons that the GDP figure itself is limited (for instance, its inability to capture the surplus between subjective value and payment price).

For example, in 2002, the nominal GDP per capita in Japan was about US$40,000, while the equivalent PPP into a U.S. goods basket was estimated at $27,000. In the U.S., GDP per capita was about $36,400 (nominal and real if based on 2002 dollars). This means that the average U.S. citizen could enjoy slightly more consumption than the average Japanese (vastly more if private saving is removed from consumption income). However, it does not necessarily follow, that this implies a "higher standard of living" in the sense of "enjoying life" more; the U.S. has higher crime rates and less social cohesion than Japan, while Japan has much less physical space per person and arguably less individual freedom. Ultimately, the quality of life will depend on subjective judgement and individual preferences.

While per-capita income does not take into account inequalities in wealth distribution, neither does the PPP-scaled income.


Let me put it in perspective. I took in a homeless fella, a friend of my stepson with medical and dental conditions that he cannot afford.

Would he be without these basic things in old Europe? No of course.

In fact, the ability to be upwardly mobile in Europe is better than the US. Mostly due to the fact that medical and educational costs needed to improve are so high in the US.

As to global warming, it appears to be a fact, arguing about it is like those creationists that search for any misprint or out of date data or misrepresent science to support their myth.

The main argument seems to be economic difficult for some folks, but if we were serious, the solutions to global warming would provide equal or greater benefits to the innovators.

As to the 4th

my comment is

Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.

I might die defending my homeland but hell if I am going to pin on some flag pin and then go kill a bunch of brown skin folks for their oil or bananas and claim kinship to Washington and Co.
Vader - the issue is CO2-induced global warming, and how significant it is, and that is, scientifically speaking, utterly up in the air. The preponderance of the evidence that we now have indicates that the IPCC predictions of large temperature increases due to CO2 emissions are way off target.
Cheeky Mama.

I think answer B was disproved about 500 years ago by ... a European.

At least the old fella had a sweet blond to scold him in the car on the way home.

It would have been really stupid if he'd been dealing in dollars: 150% loser - oh la la!

Later work has cast doubt on the direct correlation between CO2 level and cooling/warming. Many other factors need to be accounted for: the separate effect of all are hard to untangle.

One observation that is disturbing for the CO2 folks is the parallel warmings found in the rest of the solar system, especially Mars. Unless little green men are driving their SUV to and for, the temperature behavior parallels that on earth...without large-scale carbon dioxide sources!

Further, there is a well-developed theory about "chugging" thermonuclear reactions under conditions found in the sun's interior. This chugging is long time scale and could be the source of relatively short term heat/cooling effects on earth.

I think that what we are seeing is the slow dying-off of the original doomsters, such as Paul Ehrlich. Traditional original theorists die, them their erroneous theories head to whatever Valhalla exists. This work with classical physicists: once they headed to the Great Equation In The Sky, quantum theory took over and was very successful, thank you.

Most of the GWT can be classified under Religious Beliefs Awaiting Proof...what usually they wind up as before the Valhalla Translation.

Good Ole Charlie

PS: Can't figure out Google/Blogger...sorry about that!
Great site you have!

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Shtove - 500 years ago we were not a technological society!!! Once you go techno, you have a large enough population to support that you can't go backward. People would starve to death by the tens of millions. Heck, we can't even get along without sewage treatment plants. The plagues!!

In theory, you could go to a priesthood-type feudal system, with the priests being the scientific/technological class. However, I just can't form any enthusiasm for it, and it would have to be a brutal society.
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