Morning Ed: Europe {2016.03.31.Th}

Ann Jones went to Norway and came back and is all snooty about it, while Anu Partanen moved here from Finland and explains how the social welfare system there works because Finlanders are selfish, and Swedish economist Tino Sanandaji talks to American writer James Pethokoukis on the Swedish economy.

British Journalist Michael Booth has some harsher words for Scandanavia, both in the Washington Post and The Guardian. Residents of these countries register their protest here.

Neil Davidson makes a Socialist Case for leaving the EU.

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry looks at the Trans-Atlantic importance of Iain Duncan-Smith’s resignation from the Cameron government due to welfare cuts. On the one hand, I admire IDS for standing up for his principles. On the other, uhhh, given the alternative, Tory unity seems kind of important.

David Graber wonders if Britain is becoming spurred into action by being bored with hopelessness. How do you say “Doomed” in British?

Or is Britain headed for its own Trump? John Rentoul says that they need to start getting used to the idea of Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Foreign investment in France is seeing record-highs, but employment law and costs may be holding back employment.


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82 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Europe {2016.03.31.Th}

  1. The first line in the first link:

    ? Some years ago, I faced up to the futility of reporting truths about America’s disastrous wars, and so I left Afghanistan for another mountainous country far away.

    I get the sense that Ann Jones was snooty before she left as well.

    I do love the way that these articles bring up the failure to pass some piece of social welfare legislation as a sort of smoking gun, without bothering to even try dealing with the shortcomings of the social welfare programs that we do have. I guess that there is nothing to learn there. Better to just write yet another article that offers no concrete agenda about how we might go about using politics to pull off the wholesale cultural change that might turn 330 million people from every corner of the globe, who have inherited almost every manner of social pathology there is, into some facsimile of shiny (ie white) egalitarian communitarian Scandinavians.

    All that aside, the article is a fantastic exercise in status signalling, with all the right buzzwords to assure the reader that Jones has the requisite egalitarian mindset. And that’s what’s important, isn’t it?

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    • I’m reminded of a friend of mine who moved to New Zealand, to follow a woman, and who came back praising the country’s work ethic one year later. He talked about how pleasant it was, how everyone sat down and had tea breaks, etc. He had previously mentioned how hard it was for foreigners to get jobs in the country. He couldn’t make the connection between the work environment and the shortage of labor.

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    • I don’t even bother reading such tripe. It’s all written through rose colored glasses and is more about status signalling than anything substantive that could be learned from another culture.

      Oh, wait, is that cultural appropriation if we learn something from them?

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    • who have inherited almost every manner of social pathology there is

      We inherited the KKK?
      Isn’t that more homegrown like jazz or blue jeans?

      I hear this a lot from conservatives, that of course we can’t become like the Scandinavian countries because we are, um, too “ethnically diverse”.

      Apparently America is an exceptional place, except its exceptionally broken and hopeless.

      Seriously, the dominant chord of conservatism now is the prevalence of hopelessness and surly despair, and seething contempt for oh, about 47% of American citizens.

      American cities (like Chicaque!) are a hopeless cesspool of dysfunction. Best to write them off as no-go wastelands;

      Young Americans are selfish spoiled SJW who need a binkie and a good slap across the face and some cold stern bootstraps lectures;

      Immigrants to America are a dangerous mix of drug mules, welfare cheats, brood sows, and are swarming over the border like a horde of Orcs;

      American women are constantly trying to inveigle men into false rape accusations, then get free tax money to pay for frivolous abortions. We need to grant immunity to the male feral drive and erect strict regulations to prohibit abortion.

      The slogan of the conservative movement really does seem to be “We Can’t Do It”, or “America Would Be Great, If It Weren’t For All Those Americans”

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      • We inherited the KKK? Isn’t that more homegrown like jazz or blue jeans?

        The Klan as a unified organization broke apart into factions in 1949. You have local klaverns some of which are members of state federations and some of multi-state federations like the ones run by David Duke and Bill Wilkinson at one time. Total membership is about 2,000, depending on whether or not you include FBI informants. Klavern members were responsibIe for about 16 homicides over the period running from 1957 to 1981, all of them in Mississippi, North Carolina, Alabama, or Georgia. I think that’s what you’d call a ‘niche pathology’.

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    • I get the sense that Ann Jones was snooty before she left as well.

      She’s writing for The Nation. Using your own society as a foil to emphasize your superiority is the whole point. If the publication was ever something other than bum wipe, that was more than 40 years ago.

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    • On the contrary.
      I would say that totally not giving a sh!t about Mr. Cameron would be a sign of sublime enlightenment.
      And to wonder what the hell he is doing in Europe is simply the American way.

      A true patriot.

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      • I suppose they are reporting bc it’s another fine example of the silly SJWs that are popping up at our colleges these days. As for the use of the term “thug” we all know it’s b/c they are black not b/c they were acting like thugs, a violent person, especially a criminal.

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      • This idea that “thuggish” is some racist dog-whistle doesn’t really have much basis in fact. Searching reason.com for use of the word, I find it used to describe police officers, governments, Republicans, and unions, among others.

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        • I don’t think it is necessarily a dog-whistle. But context matters. While I would criticize this young woman’s behavior, I don’t think it rises to any definition of “thuggish”. She stood in the guy’s way and then they both engaged in some arm battling. At the end, she put her hand over a camera which they described as an “attack” despite no real evidence to that fact. At least not for any reasonable definition of attack.

          So my question is… would they describe a white college kid demonstrating the exact same behavior as “thuggish”? If not, why not?

          Please re-read my comment. I said that I found it curious because it doesn’t seem consistent with what Reason purports to be. The context you offer helps a bit. I’m not familiar enough with Reason to know if this is par for the course for them. But given how many folks talk about it as if i it is the sane voice of libertarianism… this doesn’t seem evidence of that. Maybe this is a one-off or a particularly… provocative… member of their staff. Maybe not. Again, I don’t know. Like I said… curious. Not out-and-out racist. Not monstrous. Not awful. Curious.

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          • And, just to be clear… I’m not defending the young woman’s actions. And I’m not weighing in on the opinions she expressed in the video (frankly, I’m not in much position to). Rather, I’m commenting on the blog itself… which seems to be a pretty unfair description of what transpires in the video and which I’m unclear of how it fits into Reason’s stated mission.

            Which, hey, they have every right to publish what they want and how they want regardless of their mission. But it makes me less inclined to take them seriously as a strong libertarian voice. And I’d rather dismiss Reason than say, “Well, see? Libertarians are jerks.” Because I’m pretty confident they aren’t.

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              • “Self-proclaimed cultural enforcer”… Maybe I didn’t hear it, but I never heard Tindle identify herself as a “cultural enforcer”.

                Saying she “appears to attack the cameraman” when all we see is her hand block/grab the camera.

                Saying she “used violence to back up her opinion”? I’m struggling to even make sense of that one. Yes, she became physical (wrongly so) in order to continue the interaction. But her opinion — as best we can ascertain — is that the young man should not wear dreadlocks. Backing up her opinion with violence would indicate she held him down and forcibly removed the dreadlocks. Did you see that in the video? I didn’t.

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              • I don’t think it rises to any definition of “thuggish”. She stood in the guy’s way and then they both engaged in some arm battling. At the end, she put her hand over a camera which they described as an “attack” despite no real evidence to that fact. At least not for any reasonable definition of attack.

                Remember your own words?

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            • I don’t think the term is entirely unfair nor wholly off limits, when used for Black folks or anyone else. But context matters.

              Here is a story I like to tell about why it isn’t enough just to say, “I’d call anyone who did that a blah-blah-blah…”

              One day early in my career, I was watching a bunch of young kids swinging on the rope climber. Now, I can’t remember specifics, but I’m fairly confident prior to this day, I had referred to young white children swinging to and fro as “swinging like little monkeys”. And thought nothing of it. On this particular day, a young Black girl was on the climber and showing me all her tricks. The phrase, “You look just like a little monkey,” was halfway out of my mouth when I realized the problem with calling a little Black girl a monkey.

              Now, was my potential use of that term motivated by race, with animus or otherwise? I’m pretty confident the answer is no. And yet… because of the history of the way that word has been used to denigrate Blacks in this country… because of the context, it would have been insufficient for me to use it and say, “But I call the white kids that, too!”

              Is it always wrong to call a Black person a thug? I don’t know? Probably not? But given the way that word has been used historically as a tool of oppression, I think we should be very careful about it.

              Lastly, I’ll say that I would respond very differently to you using that word than this writer, in large part because of what I know about you and your character. I don’t know anything about this guy save for what he wrote in that piece. And that gives me the, “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…” vibe.

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          • To use an analogy which should in no way be construed as suggesting that these things are equivalent in severity, an isolated incident of a police officer shooting a suspect under questionable circumstances is not a national news story. But if it’s part of a nationwide pattern of dubious shootings by police officers, then individual shootings become parts of that national story, and national news sources report on them.

            By itself, this story isn’t particularly notable. But it’s part of the broader pattern of the Tumblr left trying to impose its ideology on society, starting on college campuses. It’s also a vivid example of the silliness of their obsession with “cultural appropriation.” It’s not like it’s a magazine cover story. It’s just a quick blog post. They have a couple dozen every day.

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            • A fair point, . I am certainly not looking to take pitchforks and torches to Reason HQ. I don’t think the story is unworthy of commenting. It just seems like a poorly written piece. To be honest, it reads like Breitbart. And prior to today, I’d never have lumped Reason in with Breitbart. Maybe this is an exception. I’ve seen some really good work come out of Reason (something I could never say about Breitbart).

              So, again, my response is, “Hmmm… Maybe I don’t really understand Reason as well as I thought.”

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              • I disagree, I would certainly classify that as thuggish.

                And I think you are overthinking any racial connotations to thuggish, especially, as BB pointed out, Reason is happy to use that word to describe all manner of behavior from all across the spectrum of race & class.

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                • I’m not saying never call a Black person a thug or thuggish. I’m just saying we should be mindful of how that word might land differently in those circumstances. Just like calling a Jewish person cheap. Are there cheap Jews in the world and thuggish Black folks? Sure. But we should be a little more careful using those words with those particular groups (and other words with other groups).

                  This guy doesn’t strike me as particularly careful. And his piece doesn’t fit with my sense of what Reason is. But maybe I’m just wrong about Reason. Or maybe this guy or this piece is a one-off. Or maybe I’m overreacting. I’ve been careful to not make any definitive statements but rather engage in a bit of public navel gazing over the issue(s).

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                • It’s possible that both of you are right. Reason, being Reason, has no particular interest in self-tone-policing (to the point of tone-deafness), and they really do believe their message. So they are serious that they aren’t coding anything in particular with the word “thug”. However, both they and their followers, all being somewhat tone-deaf, don’t realize that lots of other people do code with the word “thug”. Often.

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              • Kazzy: To be honest, it reads like Breitbart. And prior to today, I’d never have lumped Reason in with Breitbart. Maybe this is an exception. I’ve seen some really good work come out of Reason (something I could never say about Breitbart).

                I feel like most of the coverage I’ve read from Reason about college students and social justice has been pretty Breitbartish. I’m not really sure what’s up with that.

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                • One of the reasons that Libertarians are Libertarians is because of their attitudes toward “Free Speech” and “Free Expression”. Please note: I’m not talking about the First Amendment but the ideology *BEHIND* the First Amendment.

                  There’s a strain of social justice that has negative attitudes toward Free Speech and Free Expression (which, of course, includes “having a dumb haircut”) and so Reason will argue for Free Speech and Free Expression.

                  While Brietbart is arguing for Free Speech and Free Expression because there’s a strain of social justice that has negative attitudes toward Free Speech and Free Expression.

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                  • I’d expect Reason to vigorously and voceferously defend the ideal of free speech. I’d expect Breitbart to pretend to do so in a way obviously designed to make liberals look bad, at the expense of actually exploring the facts or issues.

                    Campus speech is one of the few issues where Reason’s coverage looks more like the latter than the former. Plenty of them seem to be too busy engaging in gleeful hippie-punching to actually defend the ideals of free speech.

                    Now that I’ve actually read this article, though, I’m putting it solidly in the honest libertarian journalism category, and think Kazzy is pretty off-base to compare it to Breitbart. Wish I could have said the same about more of the articles written about UoM and Yale last fall.

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                    • You and I definitely have different lenses (not better or worse, just different), so it is very possible that is coloring one or both of our interpretations.

                      According to Art Deco, this writer in particular focuses on campus stuff so if he is writing the bulk of it, that might be why it has a different blend.

                      For what it’s worth, I’m comfortable chalking this particular piece up to “Not being representative of Reason”.

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              • I don’t think the story is unworthy of commenting.

                I do. It really defines down the meaning of “assault.” And that’s fine if you are staking out a certain position, but not if you are Reason.

                In doing this kind of reporting, Reason wants to have its cake and eat it as well. It wants to dismiss the culture wars, while simultaneously placating the anti-SJW crowd and getting the clicks that it generates. There is not much about this story that strikes me as newsworthy.

                In general, Soave strikes me as the poor man’s Elizabeth Nolan Brown.

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  2. Finish selfishness and the welfare state: It seems counter-intuitive to Americans but many people in the Nordic countries see social democracy as the best way to encourage radical individualism. The idea being that the welfare state allows people to live on their own and not depend on traditional social bonds like kith and kin to help them in hard times because they have welfare services that they can rely. This makes any sort of social bond entered into completely voluntary because you don’t have to be with an abusive spouse or relatives for financial security. Sweden has the highest percentage of people living alone.

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    • It works over there because they either never had, or largely discarded, the notion that government has a duty to be overly intrusive in the lives of the welfare recipients. It’s easy to support broad social welfare when there isn’t a threat (implied or overt) that someone from the government is going to check up on you and make sure you are using your welfare benefits “correctly”.

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      • The Swedish government is actually overly intrusive in the lives of citizens by any standard. Not sure about Norway, Finland, or Denmark though. They might not be intrusive in conventional moral sense but the Sweden’s Social Democratic Party probably launched one of the most successful social engineering experiments of all time. More people were sterilized in Sweden than other Western countries except Nazi Germany during the time Western governments did that. The Swedish government also took active steps to encourage egalitarianism by deciding to ditch titles, formal pronoun forms, and encourage the use of first names. Stockholm nursery schools are trying to encourage gender neutral pronouns. Than there is the alcohol policy.

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        • Yes & no. Social conservative busy-bodies who have a Welfare Queen fetish are certainly interested in making things burdensome, at least with regard to welfare recipients enjoying any manner of luxury.

          But liberals have their share of nosiness (perfectly justifiable in their minds, of course, but still nosy all the same).

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          • Can you give an example of liberal nosiness connected to the welfare state? Are you thinking of Bloomberg’s soda tax or something different?

            I have never heard of liberals advocating for means-testing or drug-testing welfare recipients or making them submit to searches of their homes. There are Democratic politicians who do so but liberal advocates often accuse these Democratic politicians of going too far to the right and triangulating.

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            • Well there’s an entire liberal family of the Drug Warriors. There’s the whole GMO business, the anti-vaxx business, the anti-fluoride business, there calling children’s protective services if you see parents doing anything you disapprove of with their kids business. I wish it wasn’t true but nannyism and shoving our noses into other peoples business is a bipartisan phenomena and both liberals and conservatives indulge in it.

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            • My take on means-testing changed once I shifted my framework from some first-principles idea of “justice” to “well, let’s look at it from an idea of trust and collaboration”.

              Means-testing indicates a trust issue. It says “we will collaborate if you prove trustworthy”.

              Now, perhaps, it’s justified to say something like “you’re a jerkface if you want people to prove trustworthiness!” but if that’s the case, we need to know that “we’re all in this together and we all have obligations to each other!” is likely to ring a little hollow when people start dragging their feet on collaboration.

              You want high collaboration? High trust is a pre-requisite.

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          • Social conservative busy-bodies who have a Welfare Queen fetish

            Around about 1985, Emmett Tyrell referred to Jimmy Carter as “a scamp / mountebank from jerkwater America whose knowledge of government and of history was somewhere between that of a washroom attendant at 21 and a modestly educated welfare queen”. (Quoted from memory, may require correction). I think that’s the last time I’ve ever seen or heard any Republican use the term, unless you count the time Ross Douthat referred to a particular resident of a New Orleans housing project as a ‘welfare duchess’ (and, in so doing, got a neuralgic response from his liberal readers). It really is not a common bit of terminology in starboard discourse. It’s a feature of liberals writing about conservatives (rather like references to Willie Horton).

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  3. Prime Minister Boris Johnson:

    So, assuming per the article that Johnson becomes PM as a result of conservative fracture over the EU question… how long does that last? Does he get to be PM until the scheduled election in May 2020? Or are we likely to see a vote of no confidence and a general election happening early?

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