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Posts Tagged ‘europe’

The latest refugee rights demand: free WiFi and maid service

Posted by Richard on December 25, 2015

You know those African and Middle Eastern refugees flooding into Europe to escape poverty, war, oppression, or death (take your pick)? Some of them are outraged at the lack of amenities in the Italian villa (!) where they’re housed:

According to The Local, which cites the Italian-language La Repubblica, a group of two dozen Sub-Saharan African migrants in the town of Ceranova are outraged that a lack of free Wi-Fi at the villa they live in is preventing them from using Skype to communicate with family members back in Africa.

The protesters are also angry that the villa doesn’t have a professional cleaner to keep things tidy.

Sounds like they’re assimilating already. They’ve certainly embraced the European entitlement mentality.

SMDH.

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Yes, minimum wage laws destroy jobs

Posted by Richard on February 22, 2014

The left’s cause du jour is income inequality, and the Obama administration wants to address it by increasing the national minimum wage by 40% to $10.10 per hour. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that would eliminate 500,000 jobs. Rick Manning noted that to the left that’s not a bug, it’s a feature (emphasis added):

Politically, the left benefits from another half million people off the employment roles as these new government dependents become welfare voters supporting the very politicians whose policies were directly responsible for their job losses.

At the same time, an estimated 16.5 million people are expected to see some increase in their wages. It can be anticipated that a majority of these people will also credit the Democrats for their largesse.

And the kicker is that by including automatic increases tied to the cost of living, these remaining workers will get a raise each year, regardless of whether their employer can afford to provide it. This process ensures additional job losses, accelerating the destruction of gateway jobs in America.

However, none of this matters. For those who benefit politically from government economic dependency, all that matters is that another half million dependency voters will be created with no political downside.

The inherent unfairness to the high school kid going from fast food restaurant to retailer vainly seeking employment doesn’t matter. For many job seekers, the soul-crushing realization that the above-the-table economy has no place for them destroys their connection to the legitimate free-market system. They will place the blame for this failure on our capitalist system rather than the bastardization of that system coming from craven political calculations of leftists in D.C.

Throwing away the hopes and dreams of half a million people is acceptable collateral damage to those who believe the end of achieving a permanent majority of government dependents is worth any means of attaining it.

The idea that mandating a higher starting wage eliminates entry-level jobs, which seems obvious to anyone who understands supply and demand, is disputed by various studies — that is, studies by left-wing academics (often union-funded) who manipulate their methodology to obtain the result they want. Of course, there are other studies with opposite findings — and in fairness, it may be that some of those, too, were manipulated.

The trouble with all such studies is that they invariably compare data either across states with different minimums or across time, before and after a minimum wage increase. Thus they’re comparing minimum wage level A to minimum wage level B. Such comparisons are confounded by factors such as cost of living differences across states or across time, changes in the economy (economic expansion or recession) across time, etc. And a minimum wage mandate has no significant effect if it’s below the market-clearing wage for unskilled, entry-level workers at the time.

Mark J. Perry thought a better comparison would be between places that do mandate a minimum wage and those that don’t. So where do you have to look to find a $0.00 minimum wage — some third-world country? Nope. Western Europe will do.

It turns out that nine Western European nations, including Germany and the Scandinavian countries, have no minimum wage. Their average (mean) and median unemployment rate is about half that of the nine that do mandate a minimum wage (emphasis in original):

Bottom Line: The nine countries in Western Europe with a minimum wage of $0.00 per hour, which most economists and even the New York Times argued in 1987 is the “right” wage, are apparently doing much better economically than the nine countries that have minimum wage laws legislation that makes it unlawful to employ workers whose hourly productivity is below some minimum level arbitrarily dictated by government officials.  (Thanks to Don Boudreaux for making that clarification.)

Those concerned about income inequality would do well to focus their attention on the failures of our educational system, as suggested by Nathan Smith in the December 2012 issue of The Freeman (emphasis added):

The State education system is centrally planned and run by committees, so choice and competition are lost from the system. Stagnation is therefore inevitable. Where market forces prevail, productivity improvement is normal. … But productive innovation is difficult and competition is the best school in which to learn it. State education plays hooky from that school, so it fails to learn.

Poor public schools are a major bottleneck holding back the entire U.S. economy. The recent increase in inequality has been driven not by capital but by labor income, as Saez and Piketty stress. This reflects sharply rising demand for certain kinds of skilled, educated workers, combined with little supply response. The public schools and universities are unable and/or unwilling to train the kinds of people the market wants. Eric Brynjolffson argues in his book Race Against the Machine that workers are unable to keep up with new technology. Brynjolffson illustrates his point with the chart shown below:

20121207_SmithEducationgraph

The fact that wages of high school graduates have fallen is a painful remark about how much the market values what the public schools produce.

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The war against savers escalates

Posted by Richard on March 17, 2013

A while back, people who worry about the growing mountains of sovereign debt pointed to Greece as the canary in the coal mine. We have a new canary, and he’s got a bad cough: Cyprus. The Eurocrats are funding a bailout of Cyprus by doing what debt-laden governments with no respect for the rule of law or the sanctity of contracts usually end up doing eventually: seizing the assets of savers.

I’m not shedding any tears for the Russian klepto-billionaires who parked their ill-gotten riches in Cyprus. And maybe only a few for the Cypriots who until now believed they could get something for nothing through the miracle of endless government borrowing. But prudent and frugal folks throughout the heavily-indebted nations of Europe must be wondering when the EU will come after their savings. Under the mattress or in a hole in the back yard must be starting to look like better options than a bank account.

Think it can’t happen in the good old USA? It already has. In April 1933, a month after taking office, FDR issued an executive order (under the “Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917”) outlawing the private ownership of gold coins, bullion, and gold certificates. Owners had a month to turn it all in or face 10 years in prison. They were reimbursed at face value — the owner of a $20 gold double eagle (which contained gold worth $19.99 at the time) was given $20 in currency. But once all the gold had been turned in, FDR quickly devalued the dollar by 59%. That double eagle, had the owner been allowed to keep it, would have been worth $35. Essentially, this was a confiscation of wealth that makes the Cyprus “haircut” look picayune.

More recently and on a smaller scale, when the Obama administration turned GM into Government Motors, they abrogated contracts and confiscated the assets of bondholders in order to turn them over to their friends in the UAW.

And for some time now, left-wing activists and Obama administration officials (but I repeat myself) have been talking about how “unfair to poor people” 401k and IRA accounts are and suggesting that the government should do for retirement accounts what it’s doing for health care: take over.

Fiat money allows governments to confiscate wealth slowly and stealthily by inflating the currency, thus shrinking both your savings and their debt. But if (when) things start to go out of control and panic sets in, they’ll come after your savings more directly and immediately. You might want to be prepared.

HT: Instapundit (via email from David Aitken)

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Interest on German bonds falls below zero

Posted by Richard on January 13, 2012

This just boggles my mind. Investors are paying the German government to take their money and hold onto it for 3 to 12 months:

Continuing the schizoid overnight theme, we look at Germany which just sold €3.9 billion in 6 month zero-coupon Bubills at a record low yield of -0.0122% (negative) compared to 0.001% previously. The bid to cover was 1.8 compared to 3.8 before. As per the FT: “German short-term debt has traded at negative yields in the secondary market for some weeks with three-month, six-month and one-year debt all below zero. Bills for six-month debt hit a low of minus 0.3 per cent shortly after Christmas…

Why would any rational person buy a bond that pays negative interest when they have a perfectly good mattress to put the cash under?

One of the commenters at Zero Hedge described it succinctly:

It’s like Ho’s paying tricks for sex.

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Circumventing the ban on incandescent bulbs

Posted by Richard on September 28, 2010

Human ingenuity is a wondrous thing. With an opportunity for profit as a motivator, human ingenuity can find a way to overcome the best efforts of bureaucrats to stifle, regulate, control, and harass us. Case in point: The European Union's phase-out of incandescent light bulbs is well under way, with clear bulbs over 100W and all frosted bulbs already banned. (Similar regulations hit the US in January 2012, so start stockpiling traditional light bulbs now.)

The enviro-fascist busybodies behind these bans argue that incandescent bulbs are very inefficient, wasting a lot of energy as heat and thus contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, global warming, and the destruction of the planet. So they mandate CFLs that are much more efficient — produce less heat per lumen of light output. 

These EU regulations define lamp as a device to produce visible light. So it occurred to a clever German that the regulations don't apply to heating appliances. When a heater produces heat, it isn't waste — it's the intended output. Thus the Heatball was born. The page is in German. Here's my translation (with a little help from Babylon) of some key bits:

HEATBALL® What is that? 

A HEATBALL® is not a lamp, but it fits into the same socket!

The best invention since the light bulb! Heatballs are technologically very similar to classic light bulbs, but they are intended to heat instead of to illuminate.

In passive houses [?], incandescent lamps contribute significantly to heating the rooms. When incandescent lamps are replaced by energy-saving lamps, that heat must be replaced. …

A Heatball is an electrical resistance device intended to produce heat. Heatball is [also] performance art! Heatball is resistance against regulations that exceed democratic and parliamentary powers and that disempower citizens. Heatball is also resistance against extremist measures to protect our environment. …

That is so cool … I mean, hot! The Heatball is simply (ahem) brilliant, and it should stymie the nanny-staters in Brussels for now.

At least until they impose regulations limiting how much energy a heater can "waste" as visible light. 🙂

(HT: Slashdot)

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U.S., Europe on different paths

Posted by Richard on June 26, 2010

US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner told the BBC that the United States can "no longer drive global growth," and that the world "cannot depend as much on the US as it did in the past." There's a good reason for that.

The administration of which Geithner is a part apparently has as its goal cutting the US down to size — hobbling our economy, reducing our standard of living, slashing the "disproportionate share of the world's resources" we consume, and driving us toward a stagnant society that's more egalitarian because the successful have been forcibly impoverished.

Geithner also said that Europe and the US are taking "different paths, at a different pace," and he's not kidding. As most other developed nations are moving away from socialism in an attempt to restore economic growth and fiscal responsibility, the Obama administration is moving the US as fast as it can in the opposite direction.

So now we have the ironic situation of European socialist countries defending their government spending cuts against attacks from Obama and arguing against Obama's calls for more government "stimulus" programs. For instance

Germany and the United States appear set for a heated showdown at this weekend's G20 summit in Canada after Chancellor Angela Merkel flatly rejected warnings from President Barack Obama that Europe's attempts to save its way out of the debt crisis could put fragile global economic growth in danger.

She added in a recent rebuttal of economic stimulus packages: "If we don't go for sustainable growth, but just create puffed-up growth, we will pay for that with another crisis." 

Merkel isn't alone. While the Obama administration embraces protectionism and fiscal profligacy, Britain's David Cameron calls for progress in the Doha free trade talks and embraces the fiscal conservatism that's becoming increasingly popular around the world:

"Delivering progress on Doha will not be easy. However, I’m also impatient for change and people in Britain, Canada, Asia, Africa and elsewhere can't wait for negotiators to come to agreement.

"World leaders have made previous commitments on Doha in good faith – but despite almost a decade of talks, there’s been no breakthrough."

The comments come as America noticeably distances itself from the economic agenda of most other world powers.

Once internationally isolated, Mr Cameron's fiscal conservatism now constitutes something akin to a consensus among world powers, and president Barack Obama is isolated in his desire for further spending – a plan he has been struggling to get through domestically.

Heck, even China has repeatedly chided the Obama administration about its fiscal irresponsibility. You know we're in trouble when the Chicoms are saying our government is getting too big.

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Celebrating the triumph of liberty

Posted by Richard on November 9, 2009

Twenty years ago today, residents of the slave state known as the Democratic Republic of Germany danced atop the Berlin Wall with their West German brethren and rushed through the suddenly open gates to freedom — a freedom that thousands had been killed for attempting to reach. It was the beginning of the end for the Iron Curtain, the Soviet Empire, and the subjugation of hundreds of millions under brutal collectivist regimes. It was arguably the most momentous event since the end of World War II.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who herself walked from East Germany to freedom that day, is leading the appropriately massive celebrations taking place all day today in Berlin. Joining her are Mikhail Gorbachev, Lech Walesa, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, and the leaders of all 27 European Union countries.

Absent is the leader of the country most responsible for the fall of the Berlin Wall, the country that made possible the survival of West Berlin to see that glorious day. President Obama declined Chancellor Merkel's invitation to attend, saying he was too busy. So let's see what his schedule for today looks like: 

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
_______________________________________________________________________________________
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 8, 2009

DAILY GUIDANCE AND PRESS SCHEDULE FOR
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2009

In the morning, the President will receive the Presidential Daily Briefing, the Economic Daily Briefing, and meet with senior advisors in the Oval Office. These meetings are closed press.

In the evening, the President will sign an Executive Order on the employment of veterans in the federal government in the Oval Office. Through this Executive Order, the President will make the Federal Government the model employer of Veterans. The Executive Order establishes a Council on Veterans Employment and a Veterans Employment Program office within most Federal agencies. The signing is closed press.

The President will then meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel in the Oval Office. This meeting is closed press.

In-Town Travel Pool
Wires: AP, Reuters, Bloomberg
Wire Photos: AP, Reuters, AFP
TV Corr & Crew: CNN
Print: CQ
Radio: VOA
Travel Photo: TIME

EST

9:00AM Pool Call Time

10:00AM THE PRESIDENT receives the Presidential Daily Briefing
Oval Office
Closed Press

10:30AM THE PRESIDENT receives the Economic Daily Briefing
Oval Office
Closed Press

11:00AM THE PRESIDENT meets with senior advisors
Oval Office
Closed Press

6:45PM THE PRESIDENT signs the Veterans Employment Initiative Executive Order
Oval Office
Closed Press

7:00PM THE PRESIDENT meets with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel
Oval Office
Closed Press

Briefing Schedule

12:30PM Briefing by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs

##

The Office of the Press Secretary doesn't disclose with whom the President is playing golf in the afternoon. 

When I learned that Mikhail Gorbachev was attending the ceremonies today in Berlin, I felt a bit of a lump in my throat. The man who should really be there, but who's no longer with us — the man who, more than any other, brought about that day of liberation in 1989 — is the man who issued this challenge to Gorbachev in 1987: 

“General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

To watch, listen to, or read President Reagan's address at the Brandenburg Gate, go here.  

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Erin go bragh!

Posted by Richard on June 14, 2008

Before I forget, congratulations to the plucky citizens of Ireland for rejecting the Lisbon Treaty. This was the European Union's new attempt to concentrate power in the hands of the Eurocrats in Brussels.

Dutch and French voters rejected the similar EU constitution in 2005. This time, all the other EU member states agreed to bypass their citizens and let the legislators decide. But in Ireland, a referendum was required to approve the treaty.

Even though the Irish government and all the opposition parties backed the treaty, 53.4% of Irish voters rejected the idea of relinquishing their independence to a bunch of elitist technocrats — who would undoubtedly undermine Ireland's "economic miracle" (the consequence of adopting low-tax, low-regulation, pro-growth policies that are anathema to the Eurocrats).

Since the treaty had to be approved unanimously by all EU states, the Irish thumbs-down kills it. Of course, that was the situation in 2005, too. But the Eurocrats don't give up easily and don't let democratic elections stand in their way. The Lisbon Treaty was a repackaging of the rejected EU constitution; I suspect they'll be back in a couple of years with the same wine (or rather, vinegar) in a new bottle. Meanwhile, they'll try to figure out how to get rid of that pesky "will of the people" obstacle completely.

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Embracing dhimmitude

Posted by Richard on August 16, 2007

LGF had back-to-back stories yesterday about the one-way street called "multiculturalism" and "tolerance," which is really liberals displaying their willingness to embrace the role of dhimmi that all non-Muslim Europeans must assume when the caliphate is established:

Scottish Shari'a Watch

Tue, Aug 14, 2007 at 10:58:04 am PDT

Doctors and health workers in Scotland have been banned from eating lunch at their desks during the Ramadan fast.

Willful blindness has now become standard practice in cases like this; the officials who instituted the ban openly admit they did it out of fear, even while parroting the usual tolerance-speak.

 Can it get any crazier? Well, yes.

Dutch Catholic Bishop: Christians Should Pray to Allah

Tue, Aug 14, 2007 at 9:57:47 am PDT

The Roman Catholic bishop of Breda in the Netherlands wants Christians to start praying to Allah.

To promote healing and tolerance.

Go read both posts. Then, for your amusement, check out Charles' half-dozen or so updates since in the Wikipedia Editgate series. 

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Sarkozy elected

Posted by Richard on May 6, 2007

Nicolas Sarkozy easily won France's presidential election today, despite his Socialist opponent's warning to voters that electing Sarkozy would lead to violence in the streets (which reminded me of the ominous American leftist slogan, "No Justice, No Peace"). Voter turnout was the highest in decades.

The AP reporter has trouble hiding her disappointment that a pro-American, anti-Socialist won, describing Sarkozy as "a charismatic but divisive figure known for uncompromising, even brutal language." I suppose that's a reference to his calling the rioters who burned 10,000 cars in 2005 "scum," when the preferred term was "poor youths lacking jobs and hope."

No news reports ever, ever characterized these "youths" any more precisely than that, so no one knows if they shared anything else in common — say, a religion. Of peace. But curiously, the same youths with their purely economic grievances also vandalized numerous synagogues and Jewish cemetaries, and quite a few Jews were attacked in the streets.

Charles Johnson is conducting a poll at LGF, asking readers to predict how many cars will be torched because of Sarkozy's victory. Due to the time difference, if you wait just a few more hours, you may be able to eliminate one or two of the answers. 

UPDATE: Car torchings, rioting, and general mayhem by "disaffected youths" broke out in Paris, Marseilles, and other French cities, but there aren't a lot of news stories about it. LGF has some news and links, and some burning car pictures. Maybe you should just go to the main page and keep reading. 

In addition to some good news updates, Pajamas Media can lay claim to the best damn headline possible for this event:

C'est le Matin en France

 I laughed out loud and got a tear in my eye simultaneously. It just doesn't get any better. (HT: Instapundit)

UPDATE: They've "updated" the story at Pajamas Media (by ripping out what was there before), and in the process discarded their marvelous headline. I hate it when they do that. Especially moronic in this instance — that was a classic.

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Sarkozy — hope for France?

Posted by Richard on May 2, 2007

(UPDATE, 5/6: He won easily . Vive la France!) 

France's run-off election is Sunday, May 6, and polling data from last weekend showed center-right candidate Nicolas Sarkozy with a 53%-47% lead over Socialist Ségolène Royal. If Sarkozy wins, and if he lives up to his promise and holds true to his own rhetoric, he just may pull France out of its death spiral. I sincerely hope so — I've done my share of good-humored France-bashing, but it saddens me to see what's been happening to that once-great country.

Sarkozy may not be a Thatcher or Reagan, but he's as close as the French have come in quite a long time — a Gallic Thatcher who just may be able to snatch France back from the socialist decay and decline and the social disintegration that have all been accelerating in recent years. He recently pointed the finger of blame for France's woes directly at aging 60s radicals and their intellectual heirs:

A week before the climax of France's presidential election, Nicolas Sarkozy, the neo-Gaullist favourite, yesterday delivered a striking show of force as he attacked the leftwing "heirs of May 1968" in the biggest rally of the campaign so far.

Mr Sarkozy blamed the "moral crisis" in France today – including violent crime, rebellious youth, lazy benefit claimants, uncontrolled immigration and corrupt company bosses – on the social revolution sparked by student protests in the French capital almost 40 years ago.

He presented himself as the "candidate of the people" and listed his values as "justice, effort, work, merit and reward".

Mr Sarkozy blamed "May '68" for eroding the moral values of capitalism and said this had contributed to the current controversy over failed company bosses receiving big "golden parachutes". "The heirs of May '68 have undermined the values of citizenship," he said. The biggest cheer came as he quoted Ms Royal's reaction to the riots by hundreds of youths in Paris's Gare du Nord train station last month, which she blamed on "a gulf between the youth and the police".

At times, Sarkozy is downright inspiring and, well, Reaganesque. Take, for example, a speech he made in London earlier this year to French expatriates:

Standing in the heart of the financial district, Sarkozy heaped compliments upon his country's historic enemy. The British capital was, he said, a "town that seems more and more prosperous and dynamic every time I come here." More important, it had become "one of the greatest French cities." He understood, furthermore, that hundreds of thousands of Frenchmen had moved to Britain because "they are risk-takers, and risk is a bad word" in France. With distinctly un-English passion (some things never change), he pleaded with them to come back:

Come home, because together we will make France a great country where everything will be possible, where fathers won't fear for the future of their children, and where everyone will be able to make their plans come true, and be responsible for their own destiny.

Sarkozy sounds like a supply-sider. Here are some snippets from an interview published in the Financial Times, conducted by its sister publication, Les Echos:

Les Echos: Since Ségolène Royal unveiled her ‘Presidential Pact’, do you believe the battle (for the presidency) is becoming a battle between two social projects?

Sarkozy: Yes. We now know where Madame Royal’s project is headed… It’s a return to the era of (former socialist Prime Minister Lionel) Jospin. The values Madame Royal puts to the fore are those of state handouts and mollycoddling, egalitarianism and levelling. She retains the 35 hour week, she doesn’t encourage work, she still doesn’t say if she favours overhauling taxes, but we know she wants to overhaul spending. …

Les Echos: Madame Royal develops the idea of ‘donnant-donnant’ (two-way co-operation). It’s not exactly mollycoddling, is it?

Sarkozy: She may put it thus, but what conclusion does she draw? None. It’s the same for the reform of the state. It’s the same for public debt. She judges the level “unsustainable” but what does she announce? More spending. When I talk about rights and duties, I am precise: no minimum benefits without working in exchange; no papers to stay in France long-term if one can’t write, if one can’t read, if one can’t speak French; no increase in minimum pensions without consolidation of the pension system. …

Les Echos: When it comes to costing your (Presidential) programmes, you both face the same criticism: plenty of spending and little detail on the cost savings!

Sarkozy: I will of course respond to that charge, but there is no point in getting into the detail of the proposals if you don’t understand the logic that binds them. The cornerstone value of my programme is work. The strategy that gives credibility to everything I do is to say to the French people: ‘You are going to earn more because we are going to work more’. And that is how, collectively, we are going to encourage wealth creation. I want to make France the country of innovation and audacity.

Les Echos: In your programme, is it coherent to want simultaneously to reduce national insurance contributions by €68bn over 10 years and reduce the state debt to 60 per cent of gross domestic product by 2012?

Sarkozy: I didn’t pick the €68bn figure by chance. That reduction will allow us, over 10 years, to reduce the pressure of our tax and national insurance charges to the average of the EU15. … Is it compatible with the debt reduction objective? There are the figures, but above all, there is the logic. My strategy is to think we will reduce our deficits and our debt the day we reinstate (the value of) work.

Les Echos: How much does your programme cost, and how would it be paid for?

Sarkozy: My programme will cost €30bn over five years, of which €15bn comes from reductions in taxes and charges. But I want to add two key points that must be understood. First, it is not the same thing to spend to assist, and to spend to invest. €9bn for research and innovation are not the same as €9bn spent to create new rights without matching responsibilities. On the one hand, there is investment, on the other mollycoddling. Then, you have to realise that lightening national insurance charges and taxes on overtime will bring in Value Added Tax receipts. …

Les Echos: What would be the first sign of commitment to debt reduction?

Sarkozy: The implementation of the principle that we would not replace more than half of the civil servants who retire. During the past 20 years, France has created a million public sector jobs. I would make reform of the state a key presidential project.

Not bad. Not bad at all. I can think of an allegedly free-market, limited government political party in the United States that could use some leaders who speak like that. Bonne chance, Monsieur Sarkozy! 

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Whither Europe?

Posted by Richard on March 23, 2007

I was stunned a few days ago when I read about the judges in the German state of Hesse who imposed a bizarre Islamic restriction on Muslim girls in the public schools. Little Green Footballs stunned me yet again yesterday with the story of the German judge whose ruling in a divorce case was based on what the Koran says:

The nihilistic dead end of multiculturalism has been attained in Germany, where a female judge seemingly forgot which culture’s laws she was supposed to uphold: German judge rules Koran allows wife abuse. (Hat tip: LGF readers.)

BERLIN (AFP) – A German woman judge has refused a Moroccan-born woman permission to file for divorce by interpreting the Koran as allowing husbands to beat their wives.

It seems there's been a significant uproar over this decision, and the judge has been removed:

BERLIN – Politicians and Muslim leaders denounced a German judge for citing the Koran in her rejection of a Muslim woman's request for a quick divorce on grounds she was abused by her husband.

The judge was removed from the case on Wednesday and the Frankfurt administrative court said it was considering disciplinary action.

… The latest uproar comes amid an ongoing debate in Germany about integrating its more than 3 million Muslims, most of them from Turkey. A decision last year to cancel an opera featuring the severed heads of the Prophet Muhammad and other religious figures out of security concerns caused a furor and was later retracted.

Lawmakers from Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats said traditional Islamic law, or Sharia, had no place in Germany.

"The legal and moral concepts of Sharia have nothing to do with German jurisprudence," Wolfgang Bosbach, a lawmaker with the Christian Democrats, told N24 television.

"One thing must be clear: In Germany, only German law applies. Period."

Ronald Pofalla, the party's general secretary, told Bild: "When the Koran is put above the German constitution, I can only say: Good night, Germany."

The mass-circulation Bild daily asked in a front-page article: "Where are we living?" The left-leaning Tageszeitung headlined its Thursday edition: "In the name of the people: Beating allowed." 

Not everyone's outraged, however. Notice how the AP reporter helps a Muslim group try to put a good spin on a very ugly aspect of their beliefs (emphasis added):

While the Koranic verse cited does say that husbands are allowed to beat their wives if they are disobedient, Germany's Institute for Islamic Questions noted that such an interpretation was no longer standard.

"Of course not all Muslims use violence against their wives," the group said in a statement.

Let me attempt to restate that for you: "Yes, the Koran says 'husbands may beat their wives if they disobey,' and we usually insist on unquestioning 100% obedience to every word in the Koran. But, umm, there's this other interpretation. Really. And besides, some Muslim women don't need to be bea… I mean, some Muslim men don't beat their wives at all. Hardly."

These incidents are just two more data points in the growing mountain of evidence that all is not well in Europe. Daniel Pipes recently considered "Europe's Stark Options" regarding its growing Muslim population and saw three possibilities:

  1. The high religiosity, high fertility, and high cultural confidence of the Muslims will win out over the Europeans' low religiosity, low fertility, and alienation from their own heritage. Europe will become Islamicized.
  2. Many Europeans (outside of the intelligentsia) are becoming resentful of radical Islam's increasing insistence that non-Muslims conform to and accommodate fundamentalist Muslim standards, and this will lead to a backlash that becomes increasingly ugly. In the words of Ralph Peters,  Muslims in Europe "will be lucky just to be deported."
  3. Europeans and Muslim immigrants could follow Rodney King's advice and "just get along." Muslim immigrants would assimilate more, or at least stop pushing for the Islamization of Europe, and would become more tolerant of and integrated into the free, democratic, pluralistic societies in which they've chosen to live.

Pipes seems to think option 3 is not very likely, and it's too soon to tell whether option 1 or 2 will prevail. I hope he's wrong. But there are certainly plenty of people in the European intelligentsia who are furthering option 1, as these German judges illustrate. And there are even more ordinary Europeans who are becoming angry and radicalized, as is clear from the reaction to such instances of dhimmitude and the growing nationalism and anti-immigrant sentiment in many parts of Europe.

I have to believe that there are lots of Muslim immigrants in Europe who don't want Sharia — who emigrated at least partly to escape from the oppressive feudal strictures of their homeland. But the Saudi-funded radical Wahhabists at the mosques are turning some of their kids into jihadists. Are these people just too scared to stand up and speak out?

We're constantly reminded that most Muslims are peaceful, tolerant people. I'd like to think it's true, but in Europe as in the U.S., those peaceful, moderate Muslims are virtually invisible. So Europe's many appeasers and cowards keep submitting to the threats of the violent and intolerant Muslims, and everyone else gets angrier and angrier. It's a path to disaster, and it's those peaceful, moderate Muslims — if they exist in large numbers — who must act to stop it. For their own sakes, if not for everyone else's.

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The camel caravan limit

Posted by Richard on March 19, 2007

Go to Little Green Footballs right this minute. Read about how German judges decided what rules should govern the participation of Muslim schoolgirls in school field trips.

Words fail me.

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Hiding unemployment

Posted by Richard on September 19, 2006

In Budapest, Hungarians rioted overnight because the government lied about the economy and unemployment. In Sweden, voters just elected a center-right government in part because the socialists have been massively fudging the numbers, claiming 6% unemployment when independent estimates are in the 15-20% range. Sweden’s Social Democrats had their worst showing since 1914. The Bullwinkle Blog and Rossputin.com connected the two events. The latter observed:

Maybe even true Socialists are seeing the light…just not American socialists. As George Will says, there are more Marxists on the faculty at Harvard than in all of Eastern Europe.

Publius Pundit, true to form, provided pictures of pro-freedom Swedish babes along with the election news and commentary:

As you may imagine, Sweden’s stock market went hog-wild, creating tons of wealth for lots of people across the board. Markets are forward looking and they see something they like in this victory that could unleash the energies of Sweden’s intelligent and itching to work young people.

It’s a great victory for markets and progress in a peaceful country that’s been socialist for way too long.

Meanwhile, over at TCS Daily, Nima Sanandaji of the Swedish free-market think tank Captus provided a fascinating look at one of the techniques used by the Swedish socialist government to "fight" unemployment. Jessica Petterson, an out-of-work 25-year-old Swede was pressured by the unemployment agency to meet with a work psychologist, who gave her some tests:

To her surprise the psychologist said that Petterson should be classified as disabled since she wasn’t good enough at mathematics. Jessica was shocked to hear this: "I might not be a math genius, but I know how to count," she told the paper.

The unemployment agency explained that it was simply a matter of changing a code in her status as unemployed. If she agreed to be classified as mentally disabled she would be entitled to a range of government subsidies and programs. In fact, she could begin working at "Samhall" – a government project aimed at providing employment for the disabled. There she could get a job cleaning and building wheelchairs.

Alarmingly, what happened to Petterson is not an isolated incident in Sweden. The state unemployment agency is constantly attempting to force people to "admit" to being disabled. Today 19.3 percent of those seeking jobs at the unemployment office are being classified as disabled.

Stockholm University professor Mikael Holmqvist, who has done research on the subject of Samhall’s workers, believes that most of these people are in fact not disabled at all. They have been lured or threatened into agreeing to become classified as such. The reason for this is simply that if you are disabled you are removed from the statistics of open unemployment, something that the current Social Democratic government greatly appreciates.

Classifying job-seekers as mentally disabled? Well, I do know a few places where you’d have to be crazy to want to work there. 😉
 

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Ayaan Hirsi Ali coming to America

Posted by Richard on May 15, 2006

It hasn’t been easy for Ayaan Hirsi Ali lately. At the end of April, a Dutch appeals court agreed with her neighbors that — since Islamofascists want to kill her — her presence put them at risk, thus violating their human rights. She was ordered to vacate her apartment.

Ponder the logic of that for a moment. The court held that Ayaan Hirsi Ali — not the murderous thugs who threaten her — had caused her neighbors to feel less safe, and thus had violated their rights under Article 8 of the European Treaty on Human Rights.

More recently, political opponents expressed shock at the "news" that she’d lied on her 1992 asylum application (even though she’d revealed this in 2002 when she ran for parliament), and demanded that she be deported. Judith Apter Klinghoffer noted that Hirsi Ali, like Anne Frank, seems to be "too much trouble" for the Dutch.

Apparently, Hirsi Ali has had enough of Dutch cowardice and dhimmitude. Today, it’s being reported that she’s accepted a position with the American Enterprise Institute and will be moving to the United States in September.

The Netherlands’ loss is our gain. Welcome, Ms. Ali!
 

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