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World Citizen

While I agree with you on the needed $120/barrel oil therapy for the US economy and progress in alternative energy sources, I'm kind of shocked by the amount of hate and intolerance towards countries you've mentioned. You've mentioned Russia a lot, it sounds like your are jealous they have big oil resources.

I'm watching the events in Russia as well, and despite current US government critics of Putin's reforms, I think he (Putin) did a lot to improve the russian economy (paid external debt, decrease corruption, and so on).

In my opinion, Putin administration not less democratic then Bush administration. Current Russia is no way similar to a dictatorship it was before 1990s. I know that Russian people can criticize authorities, and do whatever they please (not talking about criminals), they have the freedom of speech, commerce and action. emigration rates are decreasing, and the wealth is growing, creating strong middle class. Is that what we are afraid of? The ever-forgotten strong Mother-Russia? :) So they can veto another "Iraq"?

I just noticed that Putin is criticized every time he has his own opinion about international politics. And it's almost due to the fact that a lot of countries (mostly in Europe) become dependant on their oil and gas, so they are like a pack of coyotes whining about their energy security.

Let not forget, that Russian imperial fleet helped us to win the Civil War, gain our freedom and stop slavery in 1860s. I'd be glad to see Russia as a strong and proud nation again; through out the history, they always were more of peacemakers then invaders.

GK

You've mentioned Russia a lot, it sounds like your are jealous they have big oil resources.

Jealous? Are you insane? Why would America be jealous of a country from which many move to America, but none from America move to? That, BTW, is the true measure of the quality of a country - the net difference between those wanting in vs. those wanting out.

Hell, I would much rather live in India than in Russia.

In my opinion, Putin administration not less democratic then Bush administration.

The opinion of someone who calls himself 'World Citizen' is unlikely to be a well-informed one. If the Russian press criticized Putin the way the US press misrepresents Bush, they would be dead.

Look at how poorly Russia scores in Democracy vs. America.

It appears you are the one who is jealous of America (which is true of most leftists anyway).

BTW, 'World Citizen', what are you doing to stop the violent massacre of peaceful Buddhist monks in Burma? Where is your so-called 'world community' in preventing these atrocities? Or does being a 'World Citizen' simply pose as an excuse to support non-Democracies and excuse their injustices?

Once again, it is proven that other than America, almost no other country will fight for the freedom of others.

Mirco

I agree with your 120$ oil thesis. Higher is the price of oil, greater is the signal that the market is giving to the buyers to shift to different energy sources.

There is a particular of the 120$ oil that is missed.
Linking (partially) the oil prices with the food prices (corn-ethanol and soia-diesel and more) make immediately painful for the 'Petrotyrants' the new prices. They have immediately more money but they need a few month after more money to buy corn, rice, to feed their people.
So, they need more money to bribe their people to be submissive. Money they will not be able to use to combat us.

Saul Wall

"I'm kind of shocked by the amount of hate and intolerance towards countries you've mentioned."

The ones which hang homosexuals, stone adulterers, poison political opponents, close down media that criticizes the government, and give money to groups which attack civilians in order to promote fear to further their political views, right? Those ones?

Yes, shocking. We should be tolerant of all of it. Shame on us.

jeffolie

Hoping for $120 oil is like hoping for higher taxes.

ilya

"That, BTW, is the true measure of the quality of a country - the net difference between those wanting in vs. those wanting out."

Badly put GK. Russia's net migration rate is +0.28/1000.

"Look at how poorly Russia scores in Democracy vs. America."

Not to dispute the statement, but Russia's authoritarianism is much exaggerated. Freedom House's ratings should be taken with a pinch of salt.

"Linking (partially) the oil prices with the food prices (corn-ethanol and soia-diesel and more) make immediately painful for the 'Petrotyrants' the new prices."

Not really. If you're talking about Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela or Russia, they're middle-income countries and food doesn't account for a large % of household spending. The people it will hit hardest are sub-Saharan African urban residents whose megacities are sustained by food imports bought on international markets.

---------------------------

I really like this blog (the technology bits anyway). Thanks for a fascinating read.

GK

ilya,

Badly put GK. Russia's net migration rate is +0.28/1000.

Many people from Belarus, Ukraine, Turkmenistan, and North Korea may be fleeing to Russia (everything is relative). But the issue here is the flow of migration between Russia and the US. For each US-born person who goes to live in Russia permanently, there are probably 1000 going the other way, and there would be more if the US increased the permitted quota.

Freedom House's ratings should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Based on what? You must at the very least provide an alternative credible source.

I really like this blog (the technology bits anyway). Thanks for a fascinating read.

Thanks. Do come again.

ilya

GK,

"Based on what? You must at the very least provide an alternative credible source. "

http://www.economist.com/media/pdf/DEMOCRACY_INDEX_2007_v3.pdf

I think that index is much more realistic/professional. I believe Freedom House's allocatation of points is influenced to an unacceptably large degree by the particular country's geopolitical stance towards the US.

"But the issue here is the flow of migration between Russia and the US. "

Well nobody is disputing that on average in materialistic terms living in the US is better than in Russia. So what? Russia's only had a market economy for the past 15 years. Wait another 20 years and I expect to see significant convergence by then. Basically by this migration metric you can say that the US is superior to just about every country on Earth.

GK

ilya,

Your Economist link still ranks Russia at a lowly 102 out of 167, so not very different from Freedom House. Russia being lower than Venezuela, Liberia, and Thailand (where there was recently a military coup) is actually worse than I expected.

So the Economist link actually strengthens my point.

In fact, The Economist just today has an article saying how Putin is suppressing Democracy.

Wait another 20 years and I expect to see significant convergence by then.

That would be nice, but unlikely in such a short time. Presently, Russia is even poorer than Mexico, and is on the brink of being overtaken by China.

Basically by this migration metric you can say that the US is superior to just about every country on Earth.

By this metric, and many others, yes, that is what I believe. The US is the top choice destination for just about anyone seeking to leave their home country.

Just take one example - Kalpana Chawla. She immigrated to the US from India, and within 10 years, she was an Astronaut on the Space Shuttle. A female astronaut. There is no other country in the world where such a thing is possible for an immigrant.

Take others, like Sergei Brin and Pierre Omidyar. Within 12 years of immigrating to the US, they are both among the world's richest people while still only 35-38 years old. No other country has such examples.

ilya

GK,

"That would be nice, but unlikely in such a short time. Presently, Russia is even poorer than Mexico, and is on the brink of being overtaken by China. "

?? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28PPP%29_per_capita

Russia dipped beneath Mexico only briefly in the late 1990's, and China is nowhere near. Furthermore, Mexico is much more unequal (Gini index of 55 to Russia's 40) and much lower human capital (e.g. see PISA statistics). Its growth rate never consistently rises above 3 or 4%, whereas Russia's continues at 7% despite oil prices and output basically stabilizing for the past 2 years.

http://www.economist.com/daily/news/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9354403

"Your Economist link still ranks Russia at a lowly 102 out of 167, so not very different from Freedom House. Russia being lower than Venezuela, Liberia, and Thailand (where there was recently a military coup) is actually worse than I expected."

Firstly, Freedom House believes Russia, in civil liberties, to be worse than such democratic luminaries as Pakistan, Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan or Iraq. Look here for a laugh.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/12/Civil_liberties_world.PNG

Take even their traditional methodology of separation into Free, Partly Free and Not Free. To give one example, Georgia's Saakashvilli, despite a governing manner very similar to Putin's semiauthoritarianism, gets an out-of-jail Partly Free card while Russia wallows in Not Free land.

I believe that Russia is in fact a simulated democracy, which contains all the trappings but little of the essence. It is probably a new form of government, peculiar to the post-Soviet space as a whole. So really, objective judgements are hard to come by.

If you look in more detail, what drives the score is 'functioning of government' and 'political culture'. Look at the methodology, and see that the former can be reduced to experts' opnion of the extent of corruption and the levels of trust in society, and the latter is mostly the public's support for liberal democracy in principle.

So it is a democracy, and people support it...but they don't trust it, and the democracy doesn't trust the people either. So is it a democracy? Fascinating regime really.

As for your mentioning of Venezuela, please explain why you think it's not democratic. (Lambasting US foreign policy doesn't count, btw).

On the other hand, market authoritarianism is not necessarily bad. It can better suppress consumption demands, so as to facilitate faster growth (as indeed the Russian gov't has been doing since 1998), invest in promising industries (as is being done in nanotechnology, aircraft/ship buildings, etc) and not be subject to pressure for keeping older industries afloat (like textiles, which have all but vanished now). The economy grows quicker, and a permanent transition to stable democracy in the long run is made easier. That is after all how the east Asian miracles happened and I believe that is where Russia is taking its cue from.

----------

There are many immigrants in the US who have met with success, not to deny that. In fact the US is probably one of the best countries for those who are middle class or higher. Some people would point to the relatively poor performance vis-a-vis west Europe in social matters, however.

Ultimately it's a values question and pointless to debate IMO. As you yourself say "everything is relative".

ilya

Realized there's no edit function so I'll correct here.

"If you look in more detail, what drives the score is 'functioning of government' and 'political culture'. "

I mean, "what drives the score DOWN". (Political participation, electoral process and civil liberties are modestly better).

GK

ilya,

Russia is still below Mexico, and in Human Development, an even more expansive measure than GDP, Russia ranked just 65th, 10 points below Mexico.

Secondly, your own Economist ranking puts Russia at a rank of 102 out of 167. Sure, it may be a 'fascinating' regime, but a rank this low is not a free one, unless you are setting the bar extemely low.

Venezuela : Hugo Chavez has shut down all media outlets that he cannot control, and has changed the constitution to prevent him from being voted out of office. Chavez as just as much of an authoritarian dictator as Castro.

That is after all how the east Asian miracles happened and I believe that is where Russia is taking its cue from.

That may be, but it still means Russia is not a democracy.

Some people would point to the relatively poor performance vis-a-vis west Europe in social matters, however.

Like what? US unemployment rate is far, far lower than that of France or Germany. The healthcare system in France led to 15,000 people dying in a heat wave in 2003 (where in America, no natural disaster has ever killed more than 2000 people, certainly not some mere heat wave). Plus, millions of poor people from Mexico (which is a country richer than Russia) come to the US just to do lower-class jobs. So even minimum-wage in the US is a very compelling improvement for many immigrants.

Someone who is lazy and does not want to work may find Europe to be a haven. But ambitious people find Europe to be very limiting.

Immigrants from India, China, etc. choose to come to the US or Australia far more than to Europe.

ilya

GK,

"Russia is still below Mexico, and in Human Development, an even more expansive measure than GDP, Russia ranked just 65th, 10 points below Mexico."

Again, ??. The World Bank, CIA and IMF all agree that Russia's GDP / capita in PPP terms is substantially larger than Mexico's.

The only reason Russia is lower than Mexico on HDI is because of the 1/3 weighing to health, which they measure exclusively on life expectancy (which is 76 in Mexico, 66 in Russia). That is flawed, however, because the major reason mortality in Russia is high is because of social choices (diet, alcohol, smoking, suicide, etc) rather than a failure of the health system. IMO a much better of the health system is the infant mortality rate (20/1000 in Mexico, 11/1000 in Russia and 6/1000 in USA for comparison).

In any case I've been to Mexico and my longterm residence is in Russia and I know where I'd rather live. Even as a tourist there are simply no equivalents in Russia to some of the slums I've seen in Mexico.

"That may be, but it still means Russia is not a democracy. "

But it IS a democracy, the main difference however is that it is not a liberal democracy. Then again, as our dear Khodorkovsky himself pointed out, Putin is more liberal than 70% of the Russian population.

"Chavez as just as much of an authoritarian dictator as Castro."

That, is really pushing it.

----------------

That is not health you're talking about but effectiveness of response to natural disasters. In any case these were typically older people who had pre-existing heart problems who died a bit earlier than it otherwise would have happened. Buying an air conditioner is a private decision and one few in Europe take. Katrina's effects, on the other hand, COULD have been vastly reduced by appropriate intervention.

I am not a fan of France's labor laws. In fact employment statistics are reasonably good in the UK, Netherlands and Scandinavia where firing and hiring is easier.(There is no single 'European model). But unemployment benefits are universally better. German high unemployment is mainly due to the East.

The thing is, unemployment and innovation are the ONLY things on which the US is definitely better than Europe as a whole. Productivity is comparable, and inequality and social deprivation is worse.

Basically what I am saying isn't it better to work to a system which combines the best features of the US and European models, rather than arguing which one is 'better'?

GK

ilya,

You can't take one piece of an index that you like, while excluding the ones you don't like.

At a full composite level, Mexico's HDI is better than Russia. Individual components may vary, but the total is what matters.

Even as a tourist there are simply no equivalents in Russia to some of the slums I've seen in Mexico.

Those are subjective, selective items. Russia has slums too.

In Democracy, Russia ranks at a composite of 102 out of 167, from your own source. That is not a very compelling ranking. Saying it is a 'democracy but not a liberal democracy' is meaningless.

That, is really pushing it.

Perhaps Chavez executes fewer people than Castro did. But he has changed the constitution to make himself dictator for life, and taken control of the press. I provided a link with many sources.

In any case these were typically older people who had pre-existing heart problems who died a bit earlier than it otherwise would have happened.

America has elderly people too. That is a weak point. American heat waves kill only 40-50 people.

Katrina's effects, on the other hand, COULD have been vastly reduced by appropriate intervention.

Even then, only 1200 died in Katrina, far less than the 15,000 in France (and 20,000 in Italy as well) from a mere heat wave. There is no other country where an entire city could be submerged and only 1200 people die.

There is no single 'European model

The only one that really works, even better than the US model, is Ireland.

German high unemployment is mainly due to the East.

That cannot used as an excuse 18 years later.

and inequality and social deprivation is worse.

Wrong. That is propaganda from the foreign media. I provided points on why so many Mexicans (again, a country with a higher HDI than Russia) still come to the US to do low-skill jobs.

Plus, poor people in the US have a much better chance of surviving a natural disaster than in Europe, as seen from our heatwave vs. Hurrican Katrina example.

Basically what I am saying isn't it better to work to a system which combines the best features of the US and European models,

In theory, yes. But the best features would be 80% from the US and 20% for Europe, and the 20% in Europe would mostly be from Ireland, and possibly Denmark/Sweden. I just don't see anything in France, Spain, Italy, Germany, etc. that is worth adopting in America.

You have not addressed my points on immigration. America is simply the most attractive country for an ambition person to come to. The second best is probably Australia.


World Citizen

GK said: Hell, I would much rather live in India than in Russia.

If India has higher index of freedom and it's "better" then Russia, why then the immigration rate is much high in India then in Russia? What's wrong with India then? Wrong type of "democracy"?
While traveling around the world, I could see mostly asian-indian and chineese immigrants, and almost none from Russia... Here, in USA, I meet about one russian person and 200 immigrants from India.

I would agree with Ilya that Freedom House ratings are not very correct, just look at the post-soviet zone ratings, Latvia is not that free as it's shown, and their pro-nazi(facist) tendency is a very big concern for European Union...

World Citizen

from Mexico (which is a country richer than Russia)

there are several things to a "rich country":
1) amount of gold held by the federal bank in it's reserves
2) science (Mexico is far from it)
3) education system
4) health-care system
5) military strength
6) natural resources

If Russian economy is still awakening from 1990's, it's already strong enough to say that it cannot be poorer then Mexico ;)

World Citizen

Someone who is lazy and does not want to work may find Europe to be a haven.

Why is it so, GK? If Europe has better social protection program it does not mean they are lazy... Dont forget, that most of the high-tech technologies come from Europe, Japan, Russia, S. Korea...

America has elderly people too. That is a weak point. American heat waves kill only 40-50 people.
The difference is in habits. Americans mostly stay indoor with air-conditioning cranked up. In Europe, you will see alot of people in the streets and less air-conditioning in the houses (houses are build better their according to the weather conditions).

Besides, if people use less air-conditioning in US, the death poll would be high due to the US private health care system, not many elder people can afford it, thus they dont have it.

Wrong. That is propaganda from the foreign media
:) GK, you speak like a true socialist from the cold war era.

GK

World Citizen,

Dont forget, that most of the high-tech technologies come from Europe, Japan, Russia, S. Korea...

Some from Germany, Japan, and S. Korea, but certainly not the majority. Very little is from Russia anymore. Silicon Valley is in the US. The majority of top tech companies are US companies (Intel, HP, Cisco, Microsoft, Google). The US basic reseach budget is more than the rest of the world combined.

I would agree with Ilya that Freedom House ratings are not very correct,

Even so, the Ilya's own Economist ranking, Russia ranks just 102 out of 167. That is in the lower half, and a poor ranking.

World Citizen, you still have not answered many questions :

BTW, 'World Citizen', what are you doing to stop the violent massacre of peaceful Buddhist monks in Burma? Of innocents in Sudan and Zimbabwe? Where is your so-called 'world community' in preventing these atrocities?

Also :

If you think Al-Qaeda is a creation of the CIA to get Republicans elected, then why is not a single Democratic Senator saying this? Why do believe something that not one Democrat thinks is credible?

I'll throw in another :

Taiwan is not recognized by the UN. Yet, it is a democrating, wealthy country. Does it deserve to exist as an independent country?

It appears that 'World Citizen' is quite afraid to answer difficult questions, and this 'World Citizen' ruse is just a cloak to try and be a fashionable anti-American, autocracy-defending dinosaur.


ilya

GK,

"You can't take one piece of an index that you like, while excluding the ones you don't like.

At a full composite level, Mexico's HDI is better than Russia. Individual components may vary, but the total is what matters."

And Cuba (HDI=0.826) is better than Mexico (HDI=0.821). You should learn not to throw rocks from glass houses GK.

"Those are subjective, selective items. Russia has slums too."

As you yourself say, everything is relative. In Russia, an insignificant % of the population live in slums. In Mexico it is 10-20%.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Urban_population_living_in_slums.png

"In Democracy, Russia ranks at a composite of 102 out of 167, from your own source. That is not a very compelling ranking. Saying it is a 'democracy but not a liberal democracy' is meaningless."

I disagree. Ultimately around 70% of the population support the current semiauthoritarianism, and most of the rest are Communists or ultranationalists. So politically illiberal policies have a democratic mandate underpinned by a working if unstable social contract.

"Perhaps Chavez executes fewer people than Castro did. "

Venezuela is an abolitionist state. Unlike, say, the US (or Cuba). Can't resist making the cheap shot but you asked for it.

"Perhaps Chavez executes fewer people than Castro did. But he has changed the constitution to make himself dictator for life, and taken control of the press. I provided a link with many sources."

1. He has proposed to remove term limits on the Presidency. That is not making himself 'dictator for life'. (Though it could be a side-effect).

2. What your source doesn't say is that the RVTB channel he is shutting down committed treason by openly supporting the coup against him.

"Even then, only 1200 died in Katrina, far less than the 15,000 in France (and 20,000 in Italy as well) from a mere heat wave. There is no other country where an entire city could be submerged and only 1200 people die. "

Actually 1800 died in Katrina, and that's assuming the 700 missing all survived. Comparison with the heat wave is misplaced, as both I and World Citizen have tried to explain. As for your last point...no. The levees were not built a Category 5 hurricane, they were not properly maintained and the government response was incompetent bordering on criminal.

"Wrong. That is propaganda from the foreign media. I provided points on why so many Mexicans (again, a country with a higher HDI than Russia) still come to the US to do low-skill jobs."

Many south Asians come to Britain, many Africans come to France, many Poles come to Britain and Ireland, many Turks come to Germany. So what?

Inequality IS greater in the US than in virtually every European country and that is a fact, measured by Gini index, and the difference is substantial. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_income_equality

Even in terms of social mobility (another measure of equality) the US does worse. (http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=6972486).

As for social indicators:
infant mortlality rate - EU (including Poland etc) = 4.8/1000, US = 6.4.
But US spends far more of its GDP on health than any European country.
Child poverty = more prolific.
Prison population / capita = greater by a factor of about ten.
In primary/secondary education, US comes near the bottom in PISA league tables compared with European countries (its 'rivals' are Italy, Poland and...yes...Russia).
Really take any social wellbeing statistic and chances are it will be higher in Sweden or even France than in the US.

"In theory, yes. But the best features would be 80% from the US and 20% for Europe, and the 20% in Europe would mostly be from Ireland, and possibly Denmark/Sweden."

Advantages of US=
Great for ease of business
Innovation
(Hence great for attracting the brightest/most ambitious).
Plentiful cheap land and big internal market creates economies of scale there raising productivity, but that's not a result of policy

Advantages of European model=
Better education. Hence labor and /hour productivity in Germany is similar to, and in France slightly higher than, in the US, despite latter's structural advantages
Better social indicators
More equality of opportunity

----

Btw, I don't see why you have to be so aggressive with World Citizen. You tend to answer only his less impressive points, which is easier than others which are real and pertinent. And the rhetorical questions at the end are not conductive to a healthy or indeed 'existent' debating atmosphere.

GK

You should learn not to throw rocks from glass houses GK.

Who is talking about Cuba? The point is, Russia has a lower HDI than Mexico (and apparently Cuba), which is already considered to be a poor country. This means Russia is very far from being considered a prosperous country.

I disagree.

Disagreeing with your own source is rather weak. A ranking of 102 out of 167, being solidly within the 'hybrid regimes' group, is vary far from being a democracy or even a flawed democracy (cutoff at rank 81).

On Chavez,

1. He has proposed to remove term limits on the Presidency. Gee, why might he have done that? If he remains in power for 30 years, do you actually think it is because people voted for him throughout? Is there any democracy where the same leader is in place for 30 years running?

2. He has shut down free speech of those who want to have him removed through the democratic process - refer back to point 1) to see a pattern here.

From Thomas Friedman's article in the post above :

"So here’s my prediction: You tell me the price of oil, and I’ll tell you what kind of Russia you’ll have. If the price stays at $60 a barrel, it’s going to be more like Venezuela, because its leaders will have plenty of money to indulge their worst instincts, with too few checks and balances. "

Chavez is in the same bracket as Castro, and arguably worse than Pinochet was. Chavez, in fact, is frequently photographed with Castro, Ahmadinejad, and Mugabe.

Given your defense of authoritarianism in both Russia and Venezuela, it appears that there are very few dictators that you would find troubling.

Comparison with the heat wave is misplaced,

If anything, it shows that 15-20X more die in France/Italy from a mere heat wave, than from a city being submerged in the US. The large gap between the US and Europe was displayed for all to see.

Earthquakes, heat waves, etc. in the US usually kill under 100 people.

Returning to this :

"Wrong. That is propaganda from the foreign media. I provided points on why so many Mexicans (again, a country with a higher HDI than Russia) still come to the US to do low-skill jobs. "

This shows that your statement of the US being good only for middle-class and above is dead wrong. A country with an HDI even higher than Russia has millions that want to escape to America to do low-end jobs says it all. Being poor in America is still a more compelling life than being middle class in Mexico (or Russia).

If Castro let people leave Cuba (which also has an HDI higher than Russia, as you point out), Cuba would empty out into the US very quickly as well.

Inequality IS greater in the US than in virtually every European country and that is a fact,

Rather, I would say America is better at matching income with contribution. Europe holds back the best people in order to support the lazy (resulting in many of the best people leaving for the US). America's much better unemployment rate vs. Europe is also a reason for inequality. Higher 'equality' in Europe through having less opportunity translates to a higher unemployment rate.

Advantages of European model=
Better education.

Wrong. The US has 17 of the top 20 universities in the world. Far more graduate students come to the US from Europe than vice versa. Asian PhD-seekers rarely even consider Europe, preferring even 2nd and 3rd tier US universities.

Also, a higher percentage of Americans have Bachelor's degrees than in Europe.

More equality of opportunity

Very wrong. If that were the case, people would be leaving America for Europe, which even poor Americans do not do. In fact, many more Europeans still come to America.

The number of immigrant millionaires in the US dwarfs that of Europe. The wealthiest group in the US is actually Asians, rather than whites. There are far more female executives in the US than Europe. Condi Rice, Colin Powell, and Barack Obama have gotten much further that any black person would ever get in Europe. Blacks in America have a higher per capita GDP than whites in France or Sweden.

And I return to my original point - far more people from Europe move to the US than the other way. Far more highly educated workers Asia choose to come to the US than to Europe. This says it all. After the US, the second best is Australia.

In Europe, it is only Ireland that has a good model. Sweden, Denmark, etc. do well due to the advantage of having a Protestant society for a very long time. Such a model would not work in most other countries that don't have centuries of civilized values to build on. Sweden and Denmark would not be able to apply their models if they had millions of illegal Mexicans draining the system without contributing. The influx of Arabs into Scandinavia threatens their future greatly.

ilya

"The point is, Russia has a lower HDI than Mexico (and apparently Cuba), which is already considered to be a poor country."

So you agree that Cuba is better and wealthier than Mexico? (Hint: you have to agree, if you want to be consistent).

"A ranking of 102 out of 167, being solidly within the 'hybrid regimes' group, is vary far from being a democracy or even a flawed democracy (cutoff at rank 81)."

Stop taking my words out of context. All I am saying is that it is possible for a country to be democratic but illiberal.

"Gee, why might he have done that? If he remains in power for 30 years, do you actually think it is because people voted for him throughout?"

Term limits for the Presidency is an specifically American invention. It provides a check and balance; on the other hand it is anti-democratic. So it's not an absolute 'good thing'.

"He has shut down free speech of those who want to have him removed through the democratic process - refer back to point 1) to see a pattern here."

Their past behavior suggests that their desire to remove him goes well beyond the 'democratic process'.

"Chavez is in the same bracket as Castro, and arguably worse than Pinochet was."

Chavez has a popular mandate to rule, unlike Castro or Pinochet. There are no reports of mass 'disappearances', etc of political opponents in Venezuela that I'm aware of, unlike those two under who there were thousands. You merely reveal your own warped worldview by making the comparison.

"Given your defense of authoritarianism in both Russia and Venezuela, it appears that there are very few dictators that you would find troubling."

Irrelevant because neither Putin nor Chavez are dictators, and an ad hominem to boot.

"If anything, it shows that 15-20X more die in France/Italy from a mere heat wave, than from a city being submerged in the US. The large gap between the US and Europe was displayed for all to see."

Apples and oranges as usual. Besides it was not a 'mere' heat wave, it was a freak one in a thousand years occurence. Though I suppose not for much longer, what with global warming and all. Anyway hear about the typhoon that hit China recently with widespread flooding? About 5 people died, because of appropriate gov't intervention (evacuation of a million people).

"Being poor in America is still a more compelling life than being middle class in Mexico (or Russia)."

No its not. Very few middleclass Mexicans migrate to the US - the vast majority come from the poor rural south, or the central American countries like Nicaragua. I for one would rather be a doctor or professor in, say, the DRCongo, than a garbage collector in the US. There are more things to life than money.

"Rather, I would say America is better at matching income with contribution."

Read the Economist article I posted.

"Yet the curious thing is that European society—at least in the Nordic countries—is far less stable than America's...if one compares the incomes of children with those of their parents, or considers how long people in one income group stay there, Nordic countries emerge as far more mobile than America. Britain shows more class stability than its northern neighbours, but it is still a lot closer to them than it is to America.

The obvious explanation for greater mobility in the Nordic countries is their tax and welfare systems, which (especially when compared with America's) deliberately try to help the children of the poor to do better than their parents. One might expect social mobility and economic flexibility to go together—in fact, to be two sides of the same coin. But to the extent that redistribution is an explanation, it implies the opposite: that social mobility is a product of high public spending, a bit like the low incidence of poverty or longer life expectancy (on both of which Europe also does better than America).

The other part of the explanation seems to be their superior education systems. Education has long been recognised as the most important single trigger of social mobility—and all four Nordic countries do unusually well in the school-appraisal system developed by the OECD.

That in turn may explain why the bigger continental European countries, notably France, Germany, Italy, are not as mobile as Nordic ones. With relatively poor education systems, they are bound to perform more like Britain. But that still makes them socially (if not economically) more flexible than the land of the free. For Europe, the secrets of greater social mobility are, first, tough redistribution policies that particularly benefit those at the bottom; and, especially in Nordic countries, a more supple and less class-ridden education system, running from top to bottom. America could learn something from that."

In the US, quality of education depends to a great extent upon your wealth and the area you live in, hence social mobility is low, hence there is less equality of opportunity because education is the basis of human capital.

"Wrong. The US has 17 of the top 20 universities in the world. Far more graduate students come to the US from Europe than vice versa..Also, a higher percentage of Americans have Bachelor's degrees than in Europe."

I am not disputing the fact that US universities are better than continental European, and that Europe has much to learn from the US system in this respect. But that is just one side of the equation.

In terms of basic secondary education, the US is unimpressive compared to Europe, being similar to countries like Poland, Portugal, Russia and Italy.

http://masetto.sourceoecd.org/vl=18889680/cl=11/nw=1/rpsv/factbook/09-01-01-g01.htm

http://masetto.sourceoecd.org/vl=18889680/cl=11/nw=1/rpsv/factbook/data/09-01-01-T01.xls

The US does do relatively well in % of people who get a tertiary education, but is not a leader (the US, France, Spain and Sweden are comparable, and Korea, Japan and Russia do significantly better).

The only area in which the US has a 'commanding lead' is in having the top world universities like Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Yale, Stanford etc, and that's something you can genuinely be proud of and trumpet to the world.

"There are far more female executives in the US than Europe. "

Improving female labor participation rates is something continental Europe has to work on, agreed.

"Blacks in America have a higher per capita GDP than whites in France or Sweden. "

Labor productivity in the Eurozone and the US is about the same. The difference in GDP arises because Americans work 30% more. Black wages in the US are about 70% of white IIRC, so about equal to European. But they work much more for them.

"Very wrong. If that were the case, people would be leaving America for Europe, which even poor Americans do not do. In fact, many more Europeans still come to America."

Not arguing with that. The US does offer many more opportunities for the BRIGHT and TALENTED. And I agree that this is something Europe has to work on.

"Sweden and Denmark would not be able to apply their models if they had millions of illegal Mexicans draining the system without contributing. The influx of Arabs into Scandinavia threatens their future greatly."

Actually, the biggest influxes were in the 1970's and 80's. Since then rates of immigration have declined, and you'd be interested to know that the extremely generous Scandinavian welfare states are already a thing of the past. Despite high government expenditures, a free labor market and high education levels result in high productivity and some impressive recent growth.

http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2006/01/data/dbcoutm.cfm?SD=1990&ED=2007&R1=1&R2=1&CS=3&SS=2&OS=C&DD=0&OUT=1&C=144-112-111&S=NGDP_RPCH&RequestTimeout=120&CMP=0&x=55&y=13

(Note that Sweden's per capita growth rate should be adjusted +1% relative to the US to take into account the differential in population growth).

World Citizen

Taiwan is not recognized by the UN. Yet, it is a democrating, wealthy country. Does it deserve to exist as an independent country?

If the majority of the population want to be independent, then it should be. Same for Bascos and Chechnya.

what are you doing to stop the violent massacre of peaceful Buddhist monks in Burma?

What should I say? Change the government, make people take the authority. Portugal is a good example for Burma in terms of bloodless government flip.

If you think Al-Qaeda is a creation of the CIA to get Republicans elected, then why is not a single Democratic Senator saying this?

Same reason why Bush is not impeached yet.

'World Citizen' ruse is just a cloak to try and be a fashionable anti-American, autocracy-defending dinosaur.

Yada, yada, bla, bla... Very cheap and low, GK... I know a good psychologist, who can help you with your low esteem.

This means Russia is very far from being considered a prosperous country.

Here it goes again... Mexico is a nice country, acceptable food, good soccer players, but bad science and education. A country without good education cannot be more prosperous then a country with advanced science, big resource supply and #1 space technology (Russia). Common sense?

You tell me the price of oil, and I’ll tell you what kind of Russia you’ll have.

BTW, Thomas Friedman is not a political scientist and his words are highly opinionated, I also doubt he knows Russian history and culture to throw a phrase like that. There will not be a new Red October...

Same way I can re-phrase it like "Give Bush administration more freedom and remove major opponents (Russia, China, European Union) and I easily predict the world situation in the nearest future."

Chavez, in fact, is frequently photographed with Castro, Ahmadinejad, and Mugabe.

:) I remember one of US presidents was hugging with Saddam...


Given your defense of authoritarianism in both Russia and Venezuela,

I doubt it is a defense, more like a trial to give you another point of view.

Being poor in America is still a more compelling life than being middle class in Mexico (or Russia).

If you are healthy enough, if not, there is no way to get medical attention. In Russia, you will be given medical attention even if you are homeless. And anybody can become homeless, even you, GK, due to many reasons. It's also easier to become homeless in America then in any other country.

far more people from Europe move to the US than the other way.

Hmm, I see the opposite... It used to be so, but health care expenses and cheap dollar drive people back to Europe, or to Canada. Quite few people are leaving US and relocate to Canada, Europe or Australia.

try to help the children of the poor to do better than their parents

Very well put. I hope US society finally gain that wisdom. The future is in our children.
Having less money due to the lack of proper education is a shame of the whole country, and in the most cases, those people aint lazy at all, they just cannot jump out of the rat race, pay for the better education and make more money. And current system in USA is all about that - keeping the majority of people in poverty and without proper knowledge, because it's easier to control those simple minds.
My uncle says (he is a professor at an university) that being liberal is proportional to the level of education. Amen. I always was amazed how much republican party is screaming about liberal democracy and they always do the opposite... Thanks to them, we have a very corrupted government now.

There are far more female executives in the US than Europe.

Actually, I've seen more female executives in Europe while traveling there, and the percentage of european countries with female president/prime minister is higher ;) Did we have a female president?


Dave

Wow, this post no longer has anything to do with oil 

Okay down to the nitty gritty.

World moron,
‘What should I say? Change the government, make people take the authority. Portugal is a good example for Burma in terms of bloodless government flip.’
Once again for a ‘world citizen’, your ignorance outshines the sun. Change the government you say? And what makes you think monks have the firepower or influence to accomplish this? You truly are an idiot. Make people take authority? Once you get top the point where the people are made to do anything, you have in effect, a dictatorship. You use Portugal as an example, but it is amazing how you apply a ‘best case scenario’ on to a ‘worst case’ one. You cannot make people do anything. Getting you to shut your big mouth is a prime example of that. I am in a good mood, so I will tell you why I made this comparison. People will always do what they want. The only way to suppress this, is to put such a fear into them that they will not disobey. They are like this because they are free to believe what they want, and because they only see one side of things. Without offering up a solution they criticize what they think they understand. Then when asked to provide a better solution, they provide either a non-applicable ‘past what if’ scenario, or completely idiotic solution that is impossible to apply (see your above comment). Shut up you moron.
‘Same reason why Bush is not impeached yet.’
Bush isn’t impeached yet because there is no grounds to do so. If you agree with the idea of impeaching Bush, then surely you must agree to impeach every senator and congressman who voted for illegal’s to have a path to citizenship, and to ban guns (both in violation of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution).
‘Yada, yada, bla, bla... Very cheap and low, GK... I know a good psychologist, who can help you with your low esteem.’
At least GK shows ingenuity and an intelligent mindset. You possess neither. As for a psychologist, you’re the one who has the problem of not being able to see the entire picture leading me to believe that you are in denial about the possibility of you being wrong. Were you abused as a child?
‘Here it goes again... Mexico is a nice country, acceptable food, good soccer players, but bad science and education. A country without good education cannot be more prosperous then a country with advanced science, big resource supply and #1 space technology (Russia). Common sense?’
You lack it ‘World Oxygen Thief’. You see, save for oil, Russia has very little resources for R&D, Production, or even food for it’s people. No doubt that they are intelligent people who are resourceful for what they have. I have met several Russians in my time and found them to be intelligent, and quite bright. However, given lack of resources, US funding, and being overpopulated (for the resources as in use by the people), they have no hope of being as prosperous as Mexico. Mexico not only leeches money from America, dumps it’s lowest class on America, and wastes America’s resources , but worse yet, subverts it! Oh ‘World Citizen”, when will your fingers grow as useless as your mind so we are no longer subject to your dribble?
‘Same way I can re-phrase it like "Give Bush administration more freedom and remove major opponents (Russia, China, European Union) and I easily predict the world situation in the nearest future.’
Really?! Tell us oh exalted ‘World Bum’ (I am running out of things to call you), what would the world situation be like? I am most eager to learn from your vast amounts of wisdom and knowledge (chuckle).
‘:) I remember one of US presidents was hugging with Saddam...’
I could kill you with a smile on my face. What of it? Just because I am mainly civil to you, and would try for peace when it came down to it, does mean that I will not let you have it if you provoke me :-)
‘If you are healthy enough, if not, there is no way to get medical attention. In Russia, you will be given medical attention even if you are homeless. And anybody can become homeless, even you, GK, due to many reasons. It's also easier to become homeless in America then in any other country.’
Wow. And you call you call yourself ‘World Citizen?’. In what world is this pray tell? Sure isn’t this one. I have lived in over three countries, and traveled in over half a dozen. In each of them, I am told by the locals how much they would like to come to America. Hell, most of think we are a land of perfection compared to theirs. If you truly believe what you stated above, then you are not only blind as I stated before, but just plain stupid as well. I got it! Maybe of you start over at pre-school, and get treated like the little punk you are, then maybe, just maybe, you might be cured of your stupidity!
‘Hmm, I see the opposite... It used to be so, but health care expenses and cheap dollar drive people back to Europe, or to Canada. Quite few people are leaving US and relocate to Canada, Europe or Australia.’
See my last above answer. Also, anyone who leaves country for the stated reasons, and goes to Europe, is a darned fool just like you!
‘Very well put. I hope US society finally gain that wisdom. The future is in our children.
Having less money due to the lack of proper education is a shame of the whole country, and in the most cases, those people aint lazy at all, they just cannot jump out of the rat race, pay for the better education and make more money.’
Just when I think that I have heard it all, you say this. Less money to pay for education?! Last I looked, Libraries are free! The true problem here is that kids are raised in an environment where everything is provided for them on a silver platter! For the most part, they are not taught the value of hard work and earning a dollar. They just ask mommy and daddy for that new playstation and BAM! Like magic after enough arguing and whining, they get it! You say it’s the Countries fault for not providing thee kids with an education, but when was the last time you saw the majority of Kids eager to go learn at a library were a wealth of knowledge is available?! They would rather play Killswitch Engage on their PS3! And the parents let them play it because it shuts them up so that they can do what they want to do! Jump out of the rat race and pay more money for education?! You truly are the sorriest excuse for a human being I have ever talked to! I have very little college but can hold my own in any debate with any professor because since I was eight years old, God blessed me the love of reading. Fact, fiction, biographies, dictionaries, encyclopedias, anything I could get my hands on. Because I wanted to know! But people these days just don’t care to know! They are happy in their little comfort zone, and think that by graduating college with the bare minimum, that they actually know something! They know something alright- enough to be dangerous!
‘And current system in USA is all about that - keeping the majority of people in poverty and without proper knowledge, because it's easier to control those simple minds.
My uncle says (he is a professor at an university) that being liberal is proportional to the level of education. Amen. I always was amazed how much republican party is screaming about liberal democracy and they always do the opposite... Thanks to them, we have a very corrupted government now.’
Now I know you are full of it. As I just stated, libraries are free. Furthermore, most libraries nationwide have wonderful thing called the internet where they can learn just about anything they want to! The only thing the government has any control of is the media (mainly the news). Oddly enough, the news allows itself to be controlled by only taking little snippets out of a whole speech, and twisting it to say what they want! So your uncle is a professor at a university? Then please have him come to this site to debate so I no longer waste words on a moron like you! A professor. That actually does not say that much. A professor preaches a curriculum that the university tells them too, and from what I find from talking to a lot of them, they are professors because they would fail at being anything else! Being liberal is proportionate to the level of education? That is the most foolish thing I have ever heard. What he means by that, is that the more educated you get on a topic, the more civilized and knowledgeable you become, therefore, less aggressive courses of action are looked upon as being valid. This is not true for many reasons, but I will only give you two as you would no doubt completely not understand the others. 1- The more you learn about about one thing, the less you learn about everything else. 2- Just because you know more, does not mean that the rest of the world does, and certainly not from the same point of view! Education has grown less valuable not because of the government, but was rather brought on by the advent of cheap labor. Very corrupted government?! Not as corrupt as the words coming out of your big mouth.

‘Actually, I've seen more female executives in Europe while traveling there, and the percentage of european countries with female president/prime minister is higher ;) Did we have a female president?’
GK said executives you twit, not government. Furthermore I used to live in Europe, and I must say that your analysis is not only way off, but I must ask, which European country are you talking about? Certainly not Germany, Russia, Italy or France?
You know what? I am tired of bantering with you for the night. You learn from articles published in magazine, Wikipedia, and obviously have selective hearing. You have never really experienced what it is to LIVE in another culture or country without funding for you travels, and are the most ignorant person I have ever talked to. Half of what you say contradicts itself, and the other half is one-sided and spoken like a college grad who thinks they know what the world is all about. Congratulations ‘World Pea-brain’, you have successfully earned a place on my ‘people to ignore list’.

Alfred Fintleroy

The bottom line is which way are the people migrating? The answer is--from Africa and Central Asia to Russia and Europe; and from there to the Anglospheric countries such as the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, etc.

That counts more than all the propagandistic opinions from "ilya" "world citizen" and the former KGB. Opinions are like hemorrhoids--every athole has them. But when people vote with their feet and their futures, you can take that index to the bank.

GK

ilya,

So you agree that Cuba is better and wealthier than Mexico?

Cuba has a higher HDI than Mexico, which in turn is higher than Russia, yes. It is not automatically 'better' in all ways, as you don't see Russians moving to Mexico or Cuba, (but you do see Russians trying to move to the US in droves). Similarly, you don't see Indians moving to China or Iran (both with a higher HDI than India).

All I am saying is that it is possible for a country to be democratic but illiberal.

So what? A ranking of 102 out of 167 is below the median, and it is categorically termed as a 'hybrid regime', which is the third of four categories. The actual quantitative ranking supercedes your subjective opinions on how low the bar for democracy should be set at.

This is from your own Economist source, I remind you.

Irrelevant because neither Putin nor Chavez are dictators

They are authoritatians that are immune to electoral processes, for sure. Why is Gary Kasparov in prison just for protesting? Why are there Polonium poisonings of Russian opponents outside of Russia? Why is Venezuela clamping down on all political opposition and all free speech? Both Russia and Venezuela rank as 'hybrid regimes' with rankings below the world median, from the Economist.

Thomas Friedman terms both of them as dictators in the articles above.

It is absurd that you will defend such authoritarian activities from Chavez and Putin.

Very few middleclass Mexicans migrate to the US -

Wrong. Unless you term the top 10% as 'middle class' as many poor countries (including India and China) do. The Mexicans sneaking into the US come from the bottom 80%, and thus comfortably include Mexicans of median or above-median incomes.

Besides it was not a 'mere' heat wave, it was a freak one in a thousand years occurence.

Not really, it only reached 104 degrees F. It simply shows how America's ability to preserve human life is 15X to 20X that of France or Italy. From Hurricane Katrina (1200-1800 people), to the 1989 Earthquake (68 people) to heat waves (50-100 people), these numbers in America are orders of magnitude lower than similar disasters in other countries, even in W. Europe.

I for one would rather be a doctor or professor in, say, the DRCongo, than a garbage collector in the US.

A silly point. What percentage of people in the DRCongo have access to such positons? 0.01%? The only fair comparison is to compare medians to medians, and you know it.

Since then rates of immigration have declined,

A lot of Arabs are moving to all parts of Europe, including Sweden. Their birth rates are far higher, and they risk straining the social welfare system to collapse.

World Citizen

Dave,

From all your attempts to insult me personally I can see that your are very immature person with very narrow views.

I'm sorry that life treated it you so bad, Dave.

ilya

GK,

"Cuba has a higher HDI than Mexico, which in turn is higher than Russia, yes. It is not automatically 'better' in all ways, as you don't see Russians moving to Mexico or Cuba, (but you do see Russians trying to move to the US in droves). "

Actually my only reason for bringing up Cuba is for a reduction ad adbsurdam, but it seems the point is lost. First you said Mexico was wealthier than Russia, then when I pointed out it was not (via GDP/capita), you brought in HDI so as to prove Mexico is "better". I pointed out that the only reason Mexico's HDI is better is because of Russia's abnormally low life expectancy (due primarily to lifestyle factors). HDI, like all indexes which purport to measure 'wellbeing', is flawed because the choice of which statistics to use to calculate is based on subjective criteria.

In reality, the VAST majority of statistics on social and economic development have Russia doing significantly better than Mexico.

"The actual quantitative ranking supercedes your subjective opinions on how low the bar for democracy should be set at. "

Define democracy. Competitive elections. Tick box.

"Why is Gary Kasparov in prison just for protesting? "

He isn't. It world help if you get your facts right.

Thomas Friedman is a popular journalist with a gift for thinking up metaphors that fall flat on their face.

I do not 'defend authoritarian activities'. I offer alternative explanations in a debate that is currently too onesided.

"Wrong. Unless you term the top 10% as 'middle class' as many poor countries "

Well, yes, that IS how I defined the middle class. Using your definition of 'middle class', ie a cluster around median income, would imply that even feudal pre-industrial societies have middle classes - presumably of average peasants.

"Not really, it only reached 104 degrees F."

Actually I was in Paris at the time and I really suffered. I was having a cold shower like 5 times a day. That is extremely hot and unusual for W. Europe, considering it lasted for more than a week.

brokerdavelhr

World Jester,
‘From all your attempts to insult me personally I can see that your are very immature person with very narrow views’

First off, my views are hardly narrow. I arrive to a certain conclusion via an open mind that encompasses all the contributing factors unlike yourself (you prove this statement through all your posts ;-). As for the immature part, in many ways I am, and readily admit it. However I did not in any way ‘attempt’ to insult you. I insulted you by not only proving you wrong, but by describing you in a fitting manor. You fool.

‘I'm sorry that life treated it you so bad, Dave.’

Don’t be, I’m not :- ) When bad things happen to a person in life, you learn more about things then they would have if everything always operated smoothly. Maybe that is why you are such a moron.

Anyway, whatever happened to this University Professor you had mentioned? I thought I made it plain that I no longer wished to waste words on a dunce such as yourself, and wanted more meaningful conversation with someone who can actually back up what they say. Guess it was too much to ask. If you have taken insult to anything I have said, then why not put in writing why you were insulted? And if you are not truly insulted, then why bother wasting valuable webspace saying so when no one cares? Also, why write back if you are not contributing to the article in question? You fool.

Ilya,
‘Actually my only reason for bringing up Cuba is for a reduction ad adbsurdam, but it seems the point is lost. First you said Mexico was wealthier than Russia, then when I pointed out it was not (via GDP/capita), you brought in HDI so as to prove Mexico is "better". I pointed out that the only reason Mexico's HDI is better is because of Russia's abnormally low life expectancy (due primarily to lifestyle factors). HDI, like all indexes which purport to measure 'wellbeing', is flawed because the choice of which statistics to use to calculate is based on subjective criteria’

I can see that. However if the life expectancy is so low in Russia, would that not indicate that Health Care and Living conditions are sub-standard? If this is the case, then how is Russia wealthier? I understand what you mean about the flawed index when it comes to ‘well-being’, however if the life expectancy is that much lower, you do not need a genius to prove that the country cannot afford to provide it’s people with reasonable health care and living conditions. I am not trying to start a disagreement with you. All I am saying is that sometimes we rely on statistics based off of flawed test and then worship the conclusions as Gods own truth. However when the results of a survey= a common sense conclusion that is supported in a case such as this, what difference does it make if the statistic or index conditions are flawed or not? The result is the same, so why should the explanation even matter in a case like this where the truth is self-evident?

‘In reality, the VAST majority of statistics on social and economic development have Russia doing significantly better than Mexico.’

Then why the drastically lower life expectancy rate? Please read my last post on this matter.

‘"The actual quantitative ranking supersedes your subjective opinions on how low the bar for democracy should be set at. " Define democracy. Competitive elections. Tick box.’

An arguing of semantics. GK was saying that the fact of the matter disagreed with your ideal of what the fact should be. What is your definition of a true democracy?

‘"Why is Gary Kasparov in prison just for protesting? " He isn't. It world help if you get your facts right.’

Then why is he in prison?

‘Thomas Friedman is a popular journalist with a gift for thinking up metaphors that fall flat on their face. I do not 'defend authoritarian activities'. I offer alternative explanations in a debate that is currently too onesided.’

An explanation on a ‘one-sided’ debate must be valid to the circumstance, environment, and peoples involved to be wholly valid. This could be why GK is arguing with you.

‘"Not really, it only reached 104 degrees F." Actually I was in Paris at the time and I really suffered. I was having a cold shower like 5 times a day. That is extremely hot and unusual for W. Europe, considering it lasted for more than a week.’

If you are taking 5 cold showers a day to stay cool, then 104 degrees is a very true statement. I cannot find any index that measured the temperature to be greater then 104 degrees in Paris. Ever. Where are you getting anything otherwise? The fact that you took 5 cold showers indicates that you are not accustomed to temperatures of that range, therefore unable to give an accurate temperature reading by ‘feel’. Sorry.

‘"A lot of Arabs are moving to all parts of Europe, including Sweden. Their birth rates are far higher, and they risk straining the social welfare system to collapse. " Yawn. Any real evidence?’

Yes, I used to live in Europe for quite sometime, and must say that the local citizens as far up as Northern Germany are complaining about it. Like the immigrations of Latino countries to the US via Mexico, so is the immigration of Arab nations to Europe via Italy and Turkey.
Please understand that I am not trying to start anything with you Ilya, just had to point this stuff out.

ab

"Once again, it is proven that other than America, almost no other country will fight for the freedom of others."

As a native of one other country whose troops are currently fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, Australia, I must say that comment is completely f*cked.

Fabius Maximus

"These two technologies in combination will cause the consumption of oil across the US and even China would drop dramatically and permanently within just a few short years."

This is almost certainly false. The average life of US cars is aprox 18 years. Even if sales of hybrids increases at the maximum possible annual rate (30%? 50%), they would be a small fraction of US cars even after 5 years.

Biomass ethanol is still in early state development, with only one pilot plant. Run a timeline. If investment in this technology skyrocketed in 2008, a breakthru in 2010, mass production (millions of barrels of oil equivalent) in 2015 -- and this might unrealistically fast.

There are other possibilities. But look at nukes. Even with massive govt spending, it took decades from lab to mass commercial use.

For more on this, see the Hirsch report -- the best analysis of peaking yet done in the US:

http://www.netl.doe.gov/publications/others/pdf/Oil_Peaking_NETL.pdf

brokerdavelhr

Fabius,
People would no longer be using cars because they exceeded their max life expectancy, but because the gas is so damned expensive.
Also you cannot compare nukes to oil prices. Nukes require a high level of intelligence and resources to build. Oil refineries do not.
In addition, the overly high gas prices would no doubt encourage and support the development of alternative fuel sources.

brokerdavelhr

Fabius,
Also, I noticed that you use a lot of .gov sites.
When it comes to things like the war in Iraq and other geo-political issues, that is okay.
However the governments grasp of what can be accomplished using civilian resources is very little.
Time will tell.

Fabius Maximus

Certainly at some gas price point people will reduce their driving miles. But history suggests that milage is quite inelastic to prices. Really high prices might be required! Economists' forecasts on this have proven wrong so often -- not much data for them to work with -- that saying more is difficult.

Oil refineries require years to build. Note the 3 years target to build the new Ambani refinery in India, considered an almost unbeliveably ambitious goal.

Cellulose ethanol refineries might be simplier and faster to build. But it's just a concept in the lab now, of unproven feasibility. These things -- and we have a large history of tech development to draw on -- require years to scale up to commercial size. Nukes are typical of large infrastructures in this respect. Microwave ovens only required aprox 3 decades to mass market penetration.

As for the gov sites, I've found the gov experts -- both staff and contractors -- to be first rate. The Natl Energy Tech Lab, the Natl Renewable Energy Lab, DOE's coal experts ... unappreciated resources, which we'll desperately need someday.

The DOE-commissioned Mitigations report was headed by Robert Hirsch. He ran the US fusion project in the 1970's (designed one of the key components), then realized it was not going to work and walked away -- to work in other energy-related fields. 25 years later we see he was absolutely right. I think we can consider him an expert worth reading.

Fabius Maximus

I glanced at some of the discussion about you deleting posts. It's your show here, but as a reader I'll endorse aggressive deleting of ill-mannered guests.

You've got great material here, both on the posts and comments. Good vigorous debate.

No need for it to get diminished by trolls.

brokerdavelhr

Fabius,
It is really hard to believe that with the advent of much higher gas prices (as 120 a barrel is apt to make), would not encourage an explosion in an already booming market. Alternative energy and the surrounding technologies have already taken a strong foothold in both R&D and production.
Already hybrids are seeing an unprecedented production and sales rate. I don't know about you, but I have to get to work in the morning, so I fail to see how people would cut their mileage. Remember that many of the public transportation routes are already glutted in many major US cities. Heck, many people already car-pool to help curb cost. But despite car-pooling and public transportation, the roads still remain cluttered in the rush hours.
Gas has reached well above 3 dollars a gallon in many areas, and people are already having enough problems paying for gas as it is. It is why Hybrid models are doing so well right now.
I think GK makes a great point in this article. It would be utterly fantastic to not have to depend on foreign oil anymore.

Fabius Maximus

This is not exactly new ground, and there are many studies on it. Adaptation takes time, many years. Don't take my word for it, look at the Mitigations report or any of the many other reports by govts or academics on this subject.

There are 230 million vehicles in the US. We're not going to throw any large them away in a few years, unless gas prices go to levels that create a Great Depression.

Rolling our new technologies to substantially impact national numbers takes a long time. Do the math yourself; the DOE website has the numbers.

Look at solar. 30%+ annual growth rates, and it will be a decade before its a serious contriubtor to US electric use.

Ditto hybrids. Insignificant numbers today, and just increasing the mfg capacity will take several years.

As Whitehead said, the laws of physics are the decrees of fate. Wishing does not make it so. Needing change does not make it happen now.

brokerdavelhr

Fab,
Great points. However in any project the hardest part is laying the groundwork.You know, making an interest in the market, proving the technology reliable to the consumer, and to justify the cost to the consumer.
Hybrids right now (though fuel efficient), are expensive due to initial cost, maintenance, and battery replacement. Once these barriers are surmounted, cost will drop, and consumer interest will rise.
While it is true that most of the vehicles we drive today are gas powered, and that people will not just give them up, people will see the value in the product. Also keep in mind that most people cannot afford hybrids. Most come with at least a 19K + price tag, and middle class America can simply not afford it.
Also, trade-in options are becoming more and more popular as people want the next best thing. The reason so many gas powered cars are still monopolizing the road, is that these trade in's are purchased by those who cannot afford a hybrid.
Once the price in hybrids experiences a significant drop, and the value is proven to the consumer,you will see purchases rise.

ab

Hey GK, you changed your comment to read 'Once again, it is proven that other than America, almost no other country will fight for the freedom of others'. The word 'almost' did not appear in the original. It's accurate now, so well done for making a necessary change.

Cheers
ab

GK

ab,

You ought to search this site to see how often Australia is praised. In fact, in this very chain, I have stated that Australia is the second most desired destination for immigrants in the whole world. #2 out of 170 countries is quite good.

ab

Yeah, you'll get no argument from me on that one, GK. I like your site by the way. Keep up the good work.

ab

djahna

You think it's possible to break free from them?,, I'm tired of them crippling our country's economy.

brokerdavelhr

djahna,
I would like to join this question with you, and add on a thought. I must also dis-agree that oil prices are crippling the economy.
The US has been dealing with Arabic countries now for a very long time. While I would agree that the need for oil never justifies the pump price, I must say that much of the money is going to 'please the oil gods'. I would also like to add the upside of the whole thing- At least we are using some other countries resources and not our own :-) .
Yet like everything else, it comes with a price tag. OPEC and many other oil companies make huge profits from the US true enough. Now the oil price should not be as high as it is. All these freakin Arab oil tycoons justify the prices by saying that their oil feilds are under constant threat of 'terrorist'. The fact of the matter is that instead of living hundred billion dollar lifestyles, they could put more of the profits into securing the oil feilds. Instead, they raise the oil prices, continue to live like kings, and have the UN and US intervene. Yes it is messed up, but can any of us really do anything about it?
As far as crippling our economy, we hardly need foreigners help to do that. I could go on for hours about the governments bad spending habits (then of course the democraps raise taxes claiming it will help out the economy), but I will leave it at this: Between the special interest groups, political lobbyists, a highly abused welfare system, poor geo-political decisions, etc. etc, we drain more money from our own pockets then any foreign country could ever hope to. The government takes this money out of our pockets. Now I do not know about the rest of you, but I am sick to death of seeing my money spent on such things. I know several people who were denied social security after working for 60 years, but an illegal can go to a hospital and recieve free treatment? So much for looking after our own.
So to everyone who reads this beware. Beware of politicians who want to raise taxes (they of course will tell you that only the rich will have increased taxes, but this a big lie). Beware of politicians who want to send troops to Darfur for 'peace-keeping'(a blood bath will follow that makes Iraq pale in comparison). Beware of politicians who use special interest groups for counsel (they can get something from those groups, i.e. money and votes, that they cannot get from you on a mass scale). Beware of Politicians who say that America needs a change (their version of change does not comply with yours).
The answer is simple, before you go to vote, look deep into the issues and do the right thing.
By the way, if Hillary of Obama get elected, you will see a sudden need for more soldiers. I think at this point I hardly need to explain this one. I have been deployed two years out of the last 5, I do not look forward to more. People claim Bush went to Iraq for oil. Ask yourselves, why do Hillary and Obama want us in Dar-Fur?

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