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January 12, 2015

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I agree. I also look at the ten year sentence and 1,000 lashes given to a blogger in Saudi Arabia (first lashing just administered) and don't accept that extremism in Islam is as limited as many seem to assume. We in the west continue to ignore our allies. In Afghanistan neither the economy based upon opium or the treatment of women has been altered by our vast infusion of cash and teaching our values.

Statistically its possible the planet will be Islamic dominated in the next 100 years.

and as I have mentioned before.

The relatively unknown story of how the Jihadis tormented the Mongols and Turks leading to a fierce and vicious counter-attack by the Mongols on Islamdom from 1200 to 1258. An attack that was fiercer than the Crusades and which nearly wiped out Islam.

http://www.historyofjihad.org/mongolia.html

Albert Camus foresaw these current events and in his writings made note of the same things that are still perpetuating hate by the ever greedy in the world.

Do we really think we can exploit the Middle East for oil, kill tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis, torture without thought, and expect to not pay a price? For a country bent on "personal responsibility," we sure expect a free lunch when it comes to how we act on the global stage. Same thing goes for Europe.

Further, immigration is a fact of human existence. Add climate change to the mix, and the next 100 years may well bring a radical reshuffling of nation states.

Read Moving Millons.

Jeremy Scahill was interviewed on Democracy Now! today (Monday, 12 Jan) and had many interesting observations.

My answer to your query: capitalism will destroy France (and the rest of us) before Islam. It is capitalism that makes us turn our backs on the poor, even those we opened the doors of migration to (willingly or not). If they have nothing to add to GDP, ignore and imprison them.

There was a senseless mass shooting in France today.

USA!USA! How many innocent people in America died from handguns today.

USA!USA! How many innocent people in America were maimed or killed by drunk drivers today?

USA!USA! How many innocent ill people in America died from inadequate health care today.

Foreign service and intelligence personnel are so patriotic. With their early age guaranteed pensions, guaranteed health care, home leave and vacation time they don't live the American dream. They live in Northern Europe and dine with the US one percenters.

USA!USA! Why not try living the American nightmare today?

I think I'll play golf today!

As Chris Hedges points out in a recent Truthdig essay, most Americans are oblivious to what is happening in the real world. For many, cheap labor means cheap prices and who cares what the true cost of the "American" way of life requires. We may end up living in Fortress America, but it won't be worth living in. I know I'm a dreamer, but if half the money spent on war and "defense" were spent on world-wide sustainable development another world would be possible. Meanwhile the chickens are coming home to roost, and we don't even realize we live in the hen house.

Too bad more people don't read Chris Hedges. Here is a link to his latest...

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/a_message_from_the_dispossessed_20150111

Anglo Saxon hyper capitalism will never destroy France because they will never adopt it. A better question would be could Anglo Saxon hyper capitalism save France, if you could get past the entrenched interests there whose pocketbooks would be harmed if they tried a better form of capitalism. Like older union members.

It is the "old Europe" economic model that is killing France's economy. And reducing economic opportunities for young and/ or new Muslims. And it's pretty pervasive across Europe.

The focus on American behavior is, of course, misplaced. The bad guys in France focused on what? How about the bad guys in Indonesia? Boko Haram?

How quickly "we're all in this anti terrorism together" meme gets shattered on this blog.

The cultural shifts are going to be significant. Mark Steyn once looked at the demographics of Italy and projected there will not be a Vatican by 2020, even if the Muslim population there is not especially extreme. Just numbers.

So. Muslim family settles legally in the USA. Doesn't blow up anything. Doesn't want to send their daughter to school because they think it's against their religion.

Can the First Amendment survive that?

As far as Hedges article, good luck with addressing the root causes. It never worked here in the US and it won't work in the world. They bring a club, you bring a gun.

And those Boko Haram animals that kidnapped the 300 or so young women and have probably murdered thousands-- I'm sure they're pissed about global warming, or economic injustice, or US support of Israel, or the US invading Iraq after 9/11. Right?

Oh, wait.

According to Wikipedia, they hate "western style education, especially for women".

Gee. Let's sit down and discuss our differences.


The Hedges article is a classic in apologetics. That's not to say there isn't any "interpretational" truth in it. It's a brilliant piece written through lefty bifocals. Necessarily that means there is some misplaced faith and cherry picking going on. And this bit too:

"If you spend time as I have in Gaza, Iraq, Yemen, Algeria, Egypt and Sudan..."

I really loathe an argument based on authority. It wins over like-minded readers who gulp that down without a burp. It's a little like Sean Hannity talking knowledgeably about blacks and concealed weapons, because he is licensed to carry one (for a good laugh go to the 4:30 mark: http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/ufqeuz/race-off).

But never mind that, dumb-shit experts are my own pet peeve. Here is the real beef:

Nothing Hedges says can explain why the brothers Tarsanev did their dirty deed. Hedges apologetics need not apply to that atrocity. Nor does it explain how the ultra rich Bin Laden did his dirty deeds. Etc.

Nor does Hedges address the fact that there are poverty belts of miserable Christians and Catholics in the world-- and those folks don't seem to be zealously blowing up children and cartoonists.

Nor does it answer these questions of mine:

If these brothers were so poor, where did the get the money to travel and buy weapons and training? Who funded them? And why did the funders not use that money to help them in other ways?

But deeper than all this is what science is now saying about the so called "banality of evil". I hope you have a chance to read this, at it pretty much demolishes Hedges's apologetics:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22329860.800-the-banality-of-evil-people-arent-so-easily-led.html#.VLV9VWTF8jg

INPHX wrote, "So. Muslim family settles legally in the USA. Doesn't blow up anything. Doesn't want to send their daughter to school because they think it's against their religion.

Can the First Amendment survive that?"

The Supreme Court upheld Arizona's private religious school tax credit. Does that answer your question?

Suzanne:

Vastly different facts.

The SCOTUS decision on the school tax credit was based primarily on whether or not the Arizona taxpayers who brought the suit even had standing rather than the constitutional issues concerning state and religion.

Even the dissent was based primarily on standing, not whether or not the credit was constitutional or not.

Here:

http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/09-987.pdf

I did not find the New Science article to be informative or convincing. It is a weaker nonfactual editorial than Hedges'.

INPHX, from your link “… the Ninth Circuit held that respondents [Arizona taxpayers] had standing as taxpayers [and I would think, as citizens] under flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S.83, and had stated an Establishment Clause claim. “ The Establishment Clause relates to the First Amendment.
The Supreme Court decided not to judge the issue on the Establishment Clause but rather on “an injury in fact”.

On the issue of religion and the First Amendment, up to now the courts generally side with religion.
And so, I think, the Muslim family should have no trouble finding a tax subsidized school for their daughter.

Suzanne, I think what INPHX was trying to write is that the Muslim families would object to sending their daughter to school (any school). Although I would have to say that most of the Muslims in the U.S. don't seem to have a deep seeded issue with educating their girls. Of course I base that on personal experience (individuals I met in school) as I don't have any statistics to validate my hypothesis. This is, of course, different when compared to Islamic fundamentalists.

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if more Muslim women compared to Muslim men are enrolled in universities: At least in the Western World and more Cosmopolitan nations in the Islamic world.

As for the Hedges' vs New Science article, I find both tenable and valid. As with most things in life, it is not black and white but usually mired in the gray.

On a side note, I have been working in other cities as of late and may be leaving Phoenix for some time. London has been my base as of late. Wile I am back in Phoenix, I find myself frustrated with the slow pace of development in the Central City. If I were to stay in Phoenix, downtown Tempe is evolving into a more attractive place in the sense that it is becoming more dense (population and development wise) and crowded on the sidewalks, bike lanes, and on mass transit (like the free Orbit buses).

First, my point was indeed that a Muslim family might choose to not send their daughter to ANY school, private or otherwise, or to educate her in any way (home schooling).

My sense is that that is against the law in many states and that a state would try to punish the family in accordance with whatever laws were on the books. The family would claim it their religious right to not educate the daughter and we'd be off to the races.

Suzanne, feel free to elaborate on the Ninth Circuit's logic once it decided that the taxpayers had standing. SCOTUS overruled that decision which made an Establishment claim impossible. Thus, SCOTUS did not opine on the constitutionality of the school tax credit; they never got that far.

The open society would be the first casualty of any right-wing resurgence in Europe. This is a toxic daydream. There is no way millions of Muslims will be deported, just as there is no way millions of Mexicans will be deported from the U.S.

The real question is whether Europe is following the U.S. in creating a permanent underclass of citizens in order to divide the polity into permanent classes of "haves" and "have nots". The playbook is familiar - first demonize the "other", then tribalize around a double game where these rich - the hyper-capitalists - gut social democracy with cultural dog whistles and xenophobia.

The rich have a vested interest in both globalization, low wages, low taxes, and an unimpeded flow of both labor and capital. This is not about political correctness, or asking tough questions. It's really about whether we will as citizens vote for the very forces that are gutting real democracy, that is, social democracy. The rich have no stake in democracy. They look at China with approval. I imagine someone like INPHX would be very happy there. The rest of us, those of not morally corrupted by greed and cruelty, must wake up to their real interests. It's not the nation, romantic as that concept is. It's money itself. That's where their patriotism is. Support the troops! Vote Republican! Most importantly, keep taxes low on "producers".

Now, go watch some TV.

Well, no sane person would debate that the haves will always defend there turf against the have nots.

Soleri, of course, will focus on the "rich". He is naive enough to think that when a union teacher wants more money for education, they want more money for education, rather than their own pocketbooks.

But again, unions exist solely to protect their members (the haves) against the have nots (those unable to get into the union).

No sane person would not ackowledge that the old school, entrenched labor unions are a huge problem in holding back the European economy- and keeping those Muslims right where they want them.

Soleri's right about one thing. Globaliztion doesn't care that some 50 year old Frenchman who has been with the union for 30 years is making the equivalent of $100K US for sweeping the floor. But chimney sweeps had the same complaints. And that 22 year old Muslim immigrant will do that job just was well for 1/3 the money. But the unions, with their political pull, will put up lots of barriers to keep that from ever happening.

The Times They Are a Changin'.

It's human nature to fight to keep what you worked for, however you achieved it.

Labor unions don't seem to be hurting the bottom line for German firms. I think you had better come up with facts for a janitor making $100K.

Geramn GDP growth:

http://www.tradingeconomics.com/germany/gdp-growth

Yee hah.

Substitute "too much" for the "$100K"

INPHX, did you post German GPD to illustrate an economic contraction that would lead to a trough? That seems to be the case, but without an explanation your argument remains vague.

What can be concluded from that data is that the German economy seems rather stable, if not slowing somewhat. So goes the business cycle. Nonetheless, German unemployment is at its lowest point since the late 80's and they have a trade surplus.

German unemployment at a record low:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/07/us-germany-unemployment-idUSKBN0KG0TG20150107

Damned unions.

@Jerry Mckenzie


You are correct that was an editorial that didn't have the substantials. The actual article (report on the science of evil and atrocities) is linked to at the bottom of the editorial. I could not find an open-sourced copy of it. Here is the link to the firewall version:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22329860.100-just-obeying-orders-rethinking-obedience-and-atrocity.html

Essential it seems to indicate that the idea of innocents being brainwashed to commit atrocities is a fable.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2015/01/14/boko-haram-baga-nigeria-weak-response/21696525/

Check out this pull:

~~~
Boko Haram, with its chilling brutality, radical Islamic ideology and unstoppable seizure of Nigerian territory is quickly emerging as the Islamic State of Africa.

While much of the world has focused on the terror attacks in Paris and the Islamic militants' capture of swaths of Syria and Iraq, Boko Haram has gone on a bloody rampage through northeastern Nigeria.

Human rights groups have sounded alarms about the al-Qaeda-linked organization's recent brutality: the slaughter of up to 2,000 people in the Nigerian towns of Baga and Doron Baga on Jan. 3 and the subsequent strapping of explosives on girls as young as 10 to detonate in public places.
~~~

About that 10 year old girl...

I read random snippets of the newspaper aloud whenever we are driving somewhere. I read the paragraph describing that particular example of Muhammed's love. And then asked: "Guess the country?"

Obviously all were shocked when I said Nigeria.

The deeper meaning: The World has a common enemy that has manifestly chosen to do evil to innocents. Moslem fundamentalism is growing. We can not allow it to capture terrain in Africa. Or on any other continent.

There can be no appeasement. No apologias. No "we can't afford it BS." These are the world's worst religious criminals. Would that we could just sit back with popcorn and enjoy Shia-Suni "love" fests. But those days are gone. And out of their culture has come this hairy ugly beast of a spider. Truly our Republican brothers and sisters got this correct long ago:

1) We must fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here.

2) They really do hate us for our freedoms (and our comics).


Damned unions indeed:

What's the US unemployment rate, Rogue?

More on Germany:

(relating to the graph I posted earlier) At the bottom of that graph, you can compare it to the US economy. Be careful- they don't use the same axis when you run the comparison; Germany is on the left and the USA is on the right.

The USA is cleaning up, at least in the last 4 or 5 years.

If you simply add up the quarterly growth in GDP from 1Q 2011 to 4Q 2014, the USA is 8.1% and Germany is 4.8%. And Germany is the Bell of the European Ball.

Europe has serious structural economic problems. Labor (unions), energy, corruption, and high taxes.

Germany's trade surplus is based quite a bit on exports to Russia and the other EU nations, and there is NO reason to be optimistic about that:


http://www.marketwatch.com/story/germanys-economy-isnt-as-strong-as-europe-believes-2013-12-04


http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21633832-germanys-economy-getting-too-weak-pull-europe-out-its-crisis-sputtering-engine?zid=295&ah=0bca374e65f2354d553956ea65f756e0

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/ambroseevans_pritchard/11150306/German-model-is-ruinous-for-Germany-and-deadly-for-Europe.html


Focusing back in on the original post, if anyone thinks that a strong European economy is going to get those young lost immigrant Muslims good jobs, forget it.

The U.S. unemployment rate is pegged at 5.6% (Dec. 2014) compared to Germany at 5.1%.

U.S. wages are falling at the same time. This is due to issues of underemployment and job growth in primarily low paying fields (e.g. retail).

http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/stocks-higher-ahead-us-jobs-report-oil-steadies-28106355

There has been much speculation that the Germany economy will someday falter, as is revealed by one of your outdated posts from 2013 (remember, business cycles are just that). However, innovation is often underrepresented in those predictions. Something the Germans are damn good at when they face these issues. This is especially true regarding infrastructure.

Furthermore, it is much more difficult for Germany to produce larger % growth in GDP in an already robust economy. Gains tend to be smaller since improving on the good tends to become more difficult. Since the U.S. lost so much ground in the recession and in the slow recovery, gains do tend to look larger especially as oil prices tumble.

Export profiles of the U.S. and Germany are quite similar. Each nation exports to countries with similar economic standings:

Top 5 exporting countries:

U.S.: Canada (13%), Mexico (11%), China (9.3%), Japan (5.5%), and Germany (4.9%)
http://atlas.media.mit.edu/profile/country/usa/

Ger.: France (8.8%), U.S. (8.1%), China (6.4%), U.K. (6.2%), and Netherlands (5.8%)
http://atlas.media.mit.edu/profile/country/deu/

If anything, Germany does not overly rely on one market for its export prowess. In the top 5 markets for exports the U.S. is somewhat unbalanced with a high of 13% to a low of 4.9%. The distribution is more balanced for Germany with a high of 8.8% and a low of 5.8%.

The link provided in Rogue Columnist's post shows the seasonally adjusted (harmonized) unemployment rate for Germany. The figure I posted is not seasonally adjusted.

Unemployment rates for both the U.S. and Germany continue to drop. Germany approved its first national minimum wage which will take effect this year. We'll see how employers weather that transition in the coming quarters.

https://www.destatis.de/EN/FactsFigures/NationalEconomyEnvironment/EarningsLabourCosts/MinimumWages/Current.html

Are bombs and bullets counted as exports?

Iron, copper, lead??

I'm curious how INPHX ascribes US economic prowess given the Kenyan/Marxist president he voted against. Indeed, Obama inherited the worst economic conditions in modern American history from a cabal of right-wing lunatics who had out of ideological zeal deregulated the American financial sector. The result was a global economic crash whose worst aspects the US is finally getting beyond. Yet what Republicans wanted for America is what Europe got: austerity. Good and hard. Why is that a problem for INPHX? Ordinary people suffering is supposed to be good for their character. Rick Santelli said as much. This is now dogma on the right - capitalism cannot fail, only failed. We might as well appoint Sarah Palin head of the Fed given the taste for Stupid on the right.


When ideologues reinvent history for internet commenting, anything is fair game. So now Germany is to be pitied because of......er......unions! Never mind that the German middle class is much stronger and vibrant than its American counterpart. Simply assert without empirical evidence that unions are somehow to blame for anything and everything and - presto! - it becomes true. But Germany has an advantage that right-wing goobers cannot refute: its polity is much stronger than the one in America where anxiety and stress are creating a crisis in government and national confidence.

Having just returned from Arizona, I saw firsthand how well-heeled suburbs create a persuasive argument against government spending. A nation that disproportionately rewards the rich will create a Shining City on the Hill that looks something like Scottsdale. But the carrying costs for this experiment in plutocracy placation are high even they're not obvious to the philistines living there. Once the national project entails a chronic low-grade civil war where the vast majority of citizens, aka "losers", fight each other for scraps, no amount of Randian zealotry can make that nation cohere. You need more than cops shooting black kids. You need an economy that works for everyone. Winner-take-all economics comes at a very high cost. Eventually, the bills come due and all the coddled rich folk will probably wish they simply shared some of that wealth with the rest of us. Police states aren't cheap.

Re: “Thought exercise: Which will destroy France first — Islam or Anglo-Saxon hyper-capitalism?” (RJ): I’m going to go with neither for the time being. France seems to be wedded to the EEC model for the time being (which is to say a German dominated philosophy). She has survived the terrors of the 18th century, Napoleon, serial occupation by the Germans, war with Algeria and an American culture invasion and yet continues to still remain distinctively French. The French will find a way. And history has shown, the French can be quite ruthless when necessary.

Re: Our Front Page Editor (FPE) has fond memories of peaceful Islam when he did a stint in the Middle East in the Peace Corps and returned working "for the U.S. government." (RJ) I have fond memories of peaceful Japan when I did a stint in there in the Navy and returned. My father did a stint there too. His memories are not nearly as fond. Kamikaze attacks seem to have that effect.

Re: “Others have written about the toxic reaction of Islam in collision with modernity.” (RJ) I’d go so far as to say toxic reaction with anybody, anywhere in history. Perhaps some might say the same about America. I’d have to reflect on that some. Obviously the Indians were, largely, put into a “submit or die” situation, I can’t think of any other genocidal actions of the US. Back to Islam – current events in Sudan, Nigeria, the Balkans, India, Timor and Western China should give one reason to be uneasy.

Finally Re: “potentially suicidal multiculturalism? Or should it erect them for its survival, especially with the mass migrations we can expect…we can't accommodate the world on our soil. The notion of 423 million Americans by 2050 is horrifying… keep driving down wages.” I can think of no end of good reasons for a limited, controlled immigration system and none at all for an open borders policy. Ditto for trade - NAFTA should be killed tomorrow.

An aside: Read “Detroit – an American Autopsy” by Charlie LeDuff yesterday. It’s about a reporter who returns to his home town of Detroit and chronicles the collapse of the city. One can only hope Detroit is an exceptional case and not a harbinger of the future. The writer is somewhat Rougish in his style.

Soleri:

Why is the US economy bouncing so much better than the EU ones?

Why is Goldman Sachs projecting 1 greenback to 1 Euro by the end of 2015?

Why have many EU banking authorities resorted to negative interest rates?

Why is the UK doing so much better than the EU countries?

Why is Greece seriously considering getting off the Euro?

Why is the EU unemployment rate 11.5%?

Why have Spain and Greece fallen apart econmically?

Is deflation a good thing?


You know what I can't figure? Many libs think the US should be more like the EU countries with their high taxes, strong unions, and enhanced social safety net.

Given what's happened in the last 5 years or so, the EU countries should pretty clearly be leaning more towards a US model.

Why is the US economy bouncing so much better than the EU ones? Low oil cost and financial shenanigans.

Why is Goldman Sachs projecting 1 greenback to 1 Euro by the end of 2015? Who cares? Monetary manipulation of world currencies mostly.

Why have many EU banking authorities resorted to negative interest rates? To rip their depositors off much like US banks do?

Why is the UK doing so much better than the EU countries? Financial shenanigans.

Why is Greece seriously considering getting off the Euro? The World Bank and IMF and EEC restrictions (all pro-Capitalist and anti-human organizations).

Why is the EU unemployment rate 11.5%? Because it includes the economic wrecks Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain.

Why have Spain and Greece fallen apart economically? Capitalism.

Is deflation a good thing? No. For example: the Great Depression.

Many cons figure the world should be more like the US with our low taxes (read declining schools, infrastructure and fat oligarchs), worker exploitation and expensive medical care, and homelessness and child poverty. Given what's happened in the last 30 years, the EU model will survive the US model.

I’ll try to answer some of this in simple terms and briefly to avoid it becoming cumbersome. I will leave more elegant prose to others, like Soleri:

Why is the US economy bouncing so much better than the EU ones?
This is a loaded question but one with many obvious answers. That the U.S. economy is "bouncing" so much better requires deeper examination. For instance, unemployment is down but so are wages. More individuals have exited the job market due to low paying jobs, the availability of only part-time work, and difficulty finding employment (especially for "overqualified" individuals in a retail and service economy) that artificially lower the unemployment rate. Here are some reasons for the U.S. vs E.U. economic disparity:
1. The Fed stimulated the U.S. recovery by lowering long-term interest rates (especially on home mortgages). This policy was important due to heavy reliance in the U.S. on the housing market. This not only increases consumer confidence (a.k.a. spending) but artificially perks up markets.
2. Quantative Easing was utilized in three rounds during the recovery. More than $2 trillion dollars was circulated (printed) by the Fed.
3. Fiscal tightening was required by the EU. This hurt the most vulnerable countries the most, of course (Italy, Spain, Greece, and Portugal). There is a relationship between reduced GDP growth and more budget constraints. More austerity and a draconian economic policy were imposed on those nations.
4. Less constituent accountability from a “central bank” or authority in each nation in the Eurozone (more on this in a bit regarding the UK question below).
5. The EU authorities required reduced government spending, reduced bargaining power of labor, cut spending on pensions and healthcare, and increased the labor supply.
6. No tax increases in favor of budget tightening.

Why is Goldman Sachs projecting 1 greenback to 1 Euro by the end of 2015?
This was an old projection. Goldman Sachs is now projecting parity by 2017. Again, these are just projections that underestimate the importance of innovation and other inputs. These projections will constantly change.
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/euro-could-be-worth-less-than-us-dollar-by-jan-2018-2015-01-09

Why have many EU banking authorities resorted to negative interest rates?
It was a move in uncharted territory for this bank but the basic economic premise was borrowing money now, but with negative interest rates, requiring less to pay back the debt. This move also put a hold on deposits. I could be wrong here, but I believe this move only affected one key interest rate, the deposit rate. It was not an across the board cut on interest rates. This was to push back against deflation in the Eurozone. Quantative Easing is politically difficult in the Eurozone compared to the U.S. and setting a negative interest rate is less so. EU authorities decided on this route although they have been considering Quantative Easing as of late.

Why is the UK doing so much better than the EU countries?
The UK is a member of the EU. However, they are not part of the Eurozone as they have their own Central Banks and print their own money. There are 27 member nations but not all are in the Eurozone. This allows members of the UK to set monetary policy separate from that of the European Central Bank. They also weren’t a country that was required to fall in line with austerity programs. This was also the case for Germany.

Why is Greece seriously considering getting off the Euro?
This is primarily due to the severe austerity programs required of Greece. They have proven to be wildly unpopular in that nation. It would seem that most of the Greek population does not want to abandon the euro but loud opposition in politics is the driving force.

Why is the EU unemployment rate 11.5%?
The unemployment rate is falling, but nonetheless remains painfully high. Much of the blame comes back to spending cuts and other austerity measures that have lowered consumer confidence by stymieing cash flow into the economies of the nations hit worst.

Why have Spain and Greece fallen apart economically (sic)?
Same as above. However, there are also complexities for each nation. Greece was heavily reliant on shipping and tourism before the crisis began, leaving them extremely vulnerable to changes in the business cycle. When the recession hit, it was especially hard on this type of service economy. In Spain, the bursting of the housing bubble lead to banking failures that required multiple bailouts. The austerity measures then crippled any economic recovery. There is also the issue of aging populations. With fewer young workers in comparison to retirees, pensions become a drag on the economy made worse by tax cuts and other austerity measures.

Is deflation a good thing?
Not always. However, more often than not, prices and incomes tend to fall but debt does not. That's a bad thing.

A couple of clarifications and corrections:

*Under the first question, #6 should read for sake of clarity:
6. No tax increases in favor of budget tightening in the E.U.

*As of 2013, there are 28 E.U. members. I wrote 27, leaving out Croatia.

phxSuns writes:

1. The Fed stimulated the U.S. recovery by lowering long-term interest rates (especially on home mortgages). This policy was important due to heavy reliance in the U.S. on the housing market. This not only increases consumer confidence (a.k.a. spending) but artificially perks up markets.


You need to get into an Economics class. The fed auctions off T-Bills and Bonds. They are priced according to supply and demand, which sets the interest rate (the price). Hence, premiums and discounts exist.The fed's ability to control interest rates evaporates very quickly as the term of the obligation increases. If that wasn't the case, why wouldn't the fed price longer term debt at even lower rates?

The 10 year yield has dropped about 30 basis points in the last quarter or so.

Why? Has the fed caused that? Can they stop it?


Also:

Our deficit has fallen like a rock. Tax receipts have exploded; back to record highs. We have held the line on government expenditures, although perhaps not a true austerity program.
Why has that worked here?

Why have our tax receipts exploded?


So. Greece should borrow more money and pump it into it's economy?? So it's borrowing cost is even more? Who will buy that debt?

INPHX, if Europe had a bottom-feeding economy that emphasized low wages, underemployment, a non-existent safety net, low taxes, and rigid oligarchies, then the chances are high that it would also be less stable. And we know from history how unpleasant that can be.

Suffice it to say that every stable nation on this planet has elements of social democracy, an open society, and a strong safety net. There is no country that mirrors your Randian value system although the US is veering in that direction. At some point, it will become a national security issue. You ain't seen any terrorist like a hungry American.

INPHX wrote: "You need to get into an Economics class. The fed auctions off T-Bills and Bonds. They are priced according to supply and demand, which sets the interest rate (the price). Hence, premiums and discounts exist.The fed's ability to control interest rates evaporates very quickly as the term of the obligation increases. If that wasn't the case, why wouldn't the fed price longer term debt at even lower rates?

Why? Has the fed caused that? Can they stop it?"

Mortgage rates aren't based on the 10-year Treasury Note ("T Bills"). Mortgage-backed securities are what causes mortgage rates to fluctuate. The Fed can directly affect home loan rates through manipulation of these securities. What confuses most people is that the rate cuts do not impact personal loan rates immediately and can take months before actual home loan rates decrease.

Treasury Bills are quoted differently from bonds as they are generally discounted. The price of a bond is based on the rate of inflation: when inflation is expected to rise, interest rates rise, bond yields rise and bond prices fall. This directly relates to how the Fed can effectively raise or lower interest rates. The printing of more money or buying back securities has a direct link.

A basis point is used to refer to the yield that a bond pays the investor. To answer your question: Does the Fed cause the drop in basis points and can they stop it? Yes, through various manipulations.

The deficit has dropped and tax receipts have "exploded" due to the government taking in more money in 2014 than in 2013. Government expenditures equaled approx. 1% more in 2014 compared to 2013. Not an austerity program in any sense. The bulk of the revenues came from individual income and payroll taxes, corporate income taxes and receipts from the Federal Reserve.

The EU/IMF might impose less severe terms of austerity for Greece. Lending Greece more money isn't in the cards; especially with Syriza leading in the opinion polls. This political party has vowed to raise wages and pensions. This could force the E.U. to negotiate on austerity programs. None of which is a silver bullet since that can negatively impact bond markets in the Eurozone. That remains unclear.

As for the Fed impacting long-term rates, they certainly can. The Fed could inform markets about future values of the funds rate. By issuing statements regarding the types of developments the FOMC is likely to focus on in the foreseeable future or making more explicit statements about the future stance of policy can cause the financial markets to adjust accordingly. Financial markets will add a premium to long-term debts if they believe the Fed isn't setting fiscal policy that will contain inflation.

Back on topic:

Poverty has been around for a long, long time. The current form of Islamic terrorism has not. According to Noah Feldman (writing in 2006):

"During the last two decades, however, there has been a profound change in the way violence is discussed and deployed in the Muslim world. In particular, we have encountered the rise of suicide bombing. In historic terms, this development is new and unexpected. Suicide bombing has no traditional basis in Islam. As a technique, it was totally absent from the successful Afghan jihad against the Soviet Union."

Regarding the targeting of civilians, he writes:

"There were basic ground rules about who was fair game. “A woman was found killed in one of the battles fought by the Messenger of God,” runs a report about the Prophet Muhammad considered reliable and binding by the Muslim scholars. “So the Messenger of God forbade the killing of women and children.” This report was universally understood to prohibit the deliberate killing of noncombatant women and children. Some scholars interpreted it to mean that anyone incapable of warfare should be protected and so extended the ban to the elderly, the infirm and even male peasants, who as a rule did not fight. Muslims living among the enemy were also out of bounds. These rather progressive principles were broadly accepted by the Islamic legal authorities, Sunni and Shiite alike. For well over a thousand years, no one seriously questioned them."

Even Bin Laden and Al Qaeda have been revisionist:

"When it came to the killing of civilians, bin Laden’s thought developed more gradually. In early pronouncements, before 9/11, he spoke as if the killing of women and children was inherently an atrocity.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/29/magazine/29islam.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

It was not until February 23, 1998 that "bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, a leader of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, along with three other Islamist leaders, co-signed and issued a fatwa "authorizing" indiscriminate attacks on civilians:

"[T]he ruling to kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military -- is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque [in Jerusalem] and the holy mosque [in Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim. This is in accordance with the words of Almighty Allah, 'and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together,' and 'fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah'."

Note that "neither bin Laden nor al-Zawahiri possessed the traditional Islamic scholarly qualifications to issue a fatwa."

Not only the type, but the number of such attacks has changed over recent decades. Here's a list of Islamic terrorist attacks from 1980 on:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Islamic_terrorist_attacks

While the list is not comprehensive, note that there are only three incidents listed in the decade of the 1980s. The number then nearly triples in the 1990s. In the 2000s it hugely expands. And in the 2010s it expands still again.

Finally, note that (per Feldman) by far the greatest number of victims of Islamic terrorism have been other Muslims, killed in sectarian disputes. This too is a novelty.

So, it seems to me that the world has seen both a qualitative and a quantitative change in Islamic terrorism since the late 1970s.

This seems to be the result of political activists who are not Islamic scholars or clerics, but who as amateur scholars arrogate to themselves the right to construct an idiosyncratic, non-traditional interpretation of Islamic writings.

This trend seems to have begun with Sayyid Qutb, whose influence (late period writings) on modern Islamic radicalism is profound; and to a lesser but substantial extent Abul Ala Maududi, and Hassan al Banna (founder of the Muslim Brotherhood).

Bin Laden's addition was his "shift from small isolated extremists attacking local apostate regimes to clearcut and unified jihad against infidels. The intent was not so much as to destroy the West, but rather to unify Muslim masses behind al Qaeda’s goals. The intent of progressively spectacular attacks against US and Western interests was to drive the United States from the Middle East, thus weakening apostate Muslim regimes and increasing al Qaeda’s prestige. They intended the attacks of 9/11 to provoke an inevitable infidel retaliation that would rally ordinary Muslims to global jihad in defense of Islam. Al-Zawahiri and bin Laden thought that by changing the target of the Qutbist strategy, they could turn the struggle into a war between Islam and the West. Naturally, pro-western secular regimes in Muslim lands would be the first casualties of this war. As these regimes fell they would be replaced by Islamic rule; thus setting the initial stage for further Islamic conquests."

http://strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/parameters/Articles/07spring/eikmeier.pdf

Note the strategy: use terrorism to provoke western military intervention which would itself cause mass Muslim casualties (both as targets and, especially, as civilian "collateral damage"), which would in turn "rally ordinary Muslims to global jihad in defense of Islam".

Islamic radicalism cannot survive without Islamic legitimacy, because an erroneous theological basis for political action cannot be traced to "an infallible doctrine dictated by Allah".

So, the main solution must be twofold:

First, to remove the means by which ordinary Muslims are rallied to radical Islam, by refusing to respond to provocations with stand-off weaponry (bombs, missiles) which inevitably cause mass civilian casualties; and in general to refrain from military campaigns whenever possible.

Second, to discredit both the message and the messenger: that is, Qutbism and its ideological descendents in Al Qaeda and similar groups.

Trying to accomplish this via talking heads on CNN is a losing strategy, since radicals do not use such media sources. The method must be talks and sermons given by respected Islamic scholars and clerics (preferably those independent of the governments which Islamic radicals are opposed to); and the means must be the same kinds of media favored by Islamic radicals as sources, delivered in the language of the intended listeners/readers.

For example, many Middle-Eastern marketplaces have stands hawking inspirational cassette tapes (important since most impoverished third worlders need media they can afford, easily operate, and understand without advanced literacy skills).

U.S. intelligence should identify individuals who not only have the necessary credentials but who also have demonstrated through their own writings indignation against a brand of radical Islam which preaches acts of terror against women, children, and other non-combatants. Such individuals can then be approached, not by the U.S. government, but by cut-outs (e.g., Islamic businessmen) with a plan and the financial means to carry it out. The goal is not to pay bribes for hired piecework, but to encourage genuine opposition by providing the funding and logistical support necessary to carry out their own, pre-existing goals, but on a scale much larger than they are able to conduct with their own resources, and to greater effect. Only when enough Islamists "pee in the pool" will radicals feel dirty enough to climb out.

Here's what the Islamic terrorists who targeted Charlie Hebdo offices had to say about what motivated their initial steps toward radical Islam:

"The Buttes-Chaumont group’s jihadi aspirations were directly linked to the second Iraq war in 2003. They would sit in apartments watching footage of the US-led invasion. “Everything I saw on TV, the torture in Abu Ghraib prison, all that, that’s what motivated me,” one of Kouachi’s friends told their trial.

"But under Jacques Chirac, France had refused to intervene in the Iraq war and the young cell’s stance wasn’t really a movement against the French state. It was more a rage directed against the US. Some of the group stated that jihad wasn’t done in France. The focal point was fighting a foreign invader in Iraq."

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/12/-sp-charlie-hebdo-attackers-kids-france-radicalised-paris

So, here were "ordinary Muslims" radicalized by U.S. reaction to Al Qaeda provocation: namely, the invasion and occupation of Iraq (which at the time was claimed by President Bush to have sponsored Al Qaeda) and the attendent misery and death caused by a wrecked infrastructure (water treatment, sewage, electrical failures, medicine shortages), by the strategic bombing which accompanied the war, and by the gross abuses of the Arab population (both combatant and non-combatant) by occupying U.S. forces conducted under the guise of counterinsurgency.

"Since mid-1980s, more than 20,000 Shia Muslims, thousands of Sunni Sufi (Barelvi) Muslims, hundreds of Ahmadis, Christians and Hindus have been killed in Pakistan by Takfiri Deobandi terrorists sponsored by Jihadist-minded generals of Pakistan Army.

"...Pakistan’s and the entire world’s Shia and Sunni Muslims should realize that Saudi-sponsored Takfiri Deobandis and Takfiri Salafist are bigger threat to Islam and Muslims than any other country or group. It is high time that we set our priorities in order and focus our attention on Saudi-funded Deobandis and Salafist, the biggest threat to humanity, Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Jews."

http://www.abna24.com/english/service/centeral-asia-subcontinent/archive/2012/11/18/365815/story.html

Here's another important tool in the fight against Islamic terrorism: you have to undermine the funding sources.

Note from the above the two primary culprits: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Both countries are U.S. "allies" and receive large amounts of U.S. financial and military aid.

Until the United States (and Europe) is willing to play hardball with these state actors, talk of a "war on terror" is just that: talk. These states not only provide semi-official aid to jihadi and terrorist groups from Afghanistan to the Middle East to Africa, but also sanction or tolerate the funding and support activities of private groups of citizens (who are well known) in their countries.

INPHX wrote:

"The fed auctions off T-Bills and Bonds. They are priced according to supply and demand, which sets the interest rate (the price). Hence, premiums and discounts exist.The fed's ability to control interest rates evaporates very quickly as the term of the obligation increases."

According to the Federal Reserve:

"Between late 2008 and October 2014, the Federal Reserve purchased longer-term mortgage-backed securities and notes issued by certain government-sponsored enterprises, as well as longer-term Treasury bonds and notes. The primary purpose of these purchases was to help to lower the level of longer-term interest rates, thereby improving financial conditions. Thus, this nontraditional monetary policy measure operated through the same broad channels as traditional policy, despite the differences in implementation of the policy."

http://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/money_12856.htm

Golf: Tom G.
"That men have the right to Happiness and not necessarily the truth." Grenier.

Emil has well documented recent Islamic evolution and this course seems similar to the evolution of the US "right." How small groups of small minded but violent folks have kidnapped a world. And Paris dead numbers are many less than those victims of the Boko Haram.

Barricading the right wingers.
A place where the right failed to figure it out in the last 150 years.
"Here in Uruguay what we're debating is how to better ourselves, how to create better conditions, which is a debate we don’t want to have with the right wing, because they’ve shown us for the past 150 years that they cannot take care of those problems, problems we are resolving, and laying the ground work to have that debate with the people who will truly benefit from these policies."
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/Interview-with-Uruguays-Carlos-Alejandro-Uruguay-Elections-20141128-0045.html

And I add another Jean Grenier quote,
"against the temptation of the intellectual to join a movement which claims to be moving in the direction of history."

LET US not forget that prior to Sept 11, (1995 – 2001) a US directive to Egypt included “renditions” and extreme interrogations of suspected jihadist (resisting) Islamists'.

It is my understanding that Ayman al-Zawahiri suffered a great deal from torture by the Egyptian government because of, or encouraged by U.S. policy.

It is also part of the Islamist tradition to seek revenge.

Deficit dropped but look at the debt:

http://www.marktaw.com/culture_and_media/politics/USA_debt_2009/gdp.gif

But there is no "explosion" in tax receipts:

https://www.nationalpriorities.org/budget-basics/federal-budget-101/revenues/

Someone needs to learn math and the difference between micro- and macro-economics.

Back to topic:

For all the harm Moslem clerics have done...
Turning out fatwas like automata....

It is worthwhile to run some contrast to the evil. In fact there is some incredible good being done in the world by the Catholic's faith main leader: Pope Francis. This article blew me away (hell I feel like I grew up reading about the Sri Lankan/ Tiger Tamil war):

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/pope-presses-sri-lankan-unity-call-with-mass-tamil-visit/2015/01/13/eb600d54-9b99-11e4-86a3-1b56f64925f6_print.html

So here's a challenge:

What person is akin to the Pope in the Islamic world? And what good is this person doing in the world akin to the Pope's?

PS...

Did you hear about the fatwa against snowmen?


http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/Olive-Press/2015/0114/Seriously-a-fatwa-against-snowmen-Saudis-push-back-on-Twitter

Jerry McKenzie wrote:

"...there is no "explosion" in tax receipts..."

Yes there is. In FY 2010 federal receipts were about 2.2 trillion dollars. In FY 2014 they were $3 trillion. That's a 36 percent increase in just four years: an "explosion" by anyone's standards.

The deficit decreased from $1.3 trillion in FY 2010 to $483 billion in FY 2014. It's no coincidence that the difference in these deficits ($813 billion) is almost exactly equal to the increase in revenues over this period.

I don't understand how anyone could doubt that an increase in revenues is responsible for the decrease in the deficit, since there are only two ways to decrease the deficit: (1) increase revenues; or (2) decrease spending. Did you really suppose that spending decreased since 2010?

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