CORRUPTION CIVILIZATION.

DO NOT ACCEPT TO FILL AND EMPTY THE SAME HOLE, OVER AND OVER AGAIN, ASK WHAT THAT HOLE CAN DO FOR US.

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Abstract: Whether employment comes from the public sector or the private sector does not matter: they equally provide with overall employment (a study of Krugman below shows this).

Instead I claim, somewhat contradicting Keynes,  that the important notion is whether the jobs have public utility.

Corruption ruins public utility. Corruption consists into exaggerated compensation to the worthy, and compensation to the unworthy, with the overall aim to create power schemes (this is a philosophical, rather than just legal, definition).

Some common and casual ways of administrating society and providing topmost private jobs in the USA, amount to what would be viewed as intolerable corruption in most advanced countries.

This corruption is made possible in the USA by relatively weak democratic institutions, a deep, intrinsic democratic deficit (explained by the colonial and slavery past). Interestingly, this corruption is also entangled within the roots of American the health care, thus explaining why the USA has been less able than other advanced countries to solve its health care problem.

I give the specific example of lawyers made into richly paid hospital administrators, just because of their political connections. (This is going to hurt, but if you don’t want the heat, get out of the kitchen: others can be better cooks, courtesy of their more pristine souls.)

It is troubling that some of the people at the point of the proposed health care reform have a history of milking the present deplorable for gains that may have been legal, but were certainly exaggerated.

Rewarding lawyers for being on the boards of hospitals, although they seem to have had no medical qualifications, whatsoever, is a bit far out in la la land . (Notice that senior advisers in the White House are involved, and part of the present private health care system is involved too, but that the present public, governmental, Medicare system is not.)

Aside from exhibiting where some of the cost of US health care comes from, namely astronomical corruption, and mixing of the genres, this example points out that ethical improvement will not come from the private sector. Disconnecting ethics from money seems a must at this point. Fighting egregious corruption anchored in the mentalities would be another good start.

Improvement would come from building up the appropriate democratic institutions. The case of France, with her self-governing orders of doctors and pharmacists, comes to mind.

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GOVERNMENT IS AS GOOD AN EMPLOYER AS ANY:

What is the basis of an economy? Well, water, food, material goods and services, in that order. A society should have enough energy to obtain enough of them all, sustainably. Part of that energy is provided by human employment. Robots taking care of everything are not just a danger on the technological horizon, it’s also a practical notion, because the plutocratic overlords of "Wall Street" have used China just that way: robot like serfs in China, allowing unemployment and disempowerment in the USA.

The argument has been made in the last 40 years, that the government was the problem, and private industry was the solution. To everything.

After some success in tiny and irrelevant European countries (EU assisted Ireland, defense challenged Denmark, etc.), Thatcher implemented that non-sense, Reagan followed, and then Bush, and Clinton, and Bush again. Sarkozy in France wanted to go that way, too, but, by then, the Thatcher-Reagan model ("Supply Side Economics") was collapsing for all to see.

Taxes pay for government, so government employment and taxes are roughly the same.

Paul Krugman produced in his blog a graph (below) that exhibits the disconnection between taxes and employment. In other words, government employment is just as good, or just as bad, as private employment at bringing the unemployment rate down.

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GOVERNMENT, PER SE, IS NOT THE PROBLEM:

There has been quite a lot of commentary, starting with a rather shallow and silly cover article in ”The Economist” on using of a Texas-California comparison to claim that red (republican) states (supposedly low taxes) are doing better in the crisis than blue (democratic) states.

Let Paul Krugman slay the dragon that the notion of government is itself the problem. As he says in his blog: Texas is not the only red state (August 3, 2009):

"Some have pointed out that California, despite its liberal reputation, doesn’t have especially high taxes; others have pointed out that Texas, where almost a quarter of the population lacks health insurance, is hardly a model. [One could add that, with plenty of brain work production, California is a much greater contributor to the advancement of civilization than Texas.]

What I haven’t seen pointed out, however, is that Texas is not the only red state. Why not look at South Carolina, where taxes are almost as low as they are in Texas, but where the unemployment rate is 12.1%? Or Tennessee, which has some of the lowest taxes in the nation, and 11% unemployment?

Maybe a picture will help. Taxes as a percentage of income from here; current unemployment rate from here.

clip_image002

See the relationship? Neither do I.”

Well done, Paul. California has a unique, weird fiscal valve: to lower taxes is easy, to rise them require two-thirds votes, so is nearly impossible. I view this fiscal contraption as racism in disguise: because California does not control its frontiers, it has stooped to mistreating the less advantaged, in the hope to stem the tide towards the Golden State, the fastest growing state in the world (up to the present crisis).

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EXPORT JOBS, IMPORT KNOW NOTHING:

So what brings employment down? As I already hinted, the massive exportations of jobs to China does not help. It is said that Boeing, long the quintessential American corporation, which made the victory in World War Two possible, with its excellent heavy bombers and flying fortresses, is now mostly employing foreign workers. (This, officially because "Wall Street" believes that it is not as profitable to employ American engineers as employing foreign ones; the truth is, of course, much worse.)

But there is more. There is corruption, and it runs so deep that the very concept of what a democratic American institution could be is in question. Before i come back to that, let me scratch Keynes in passing.

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MAKING AND FILLING HOLES IS NOT ENOUGH:

Keynes’ suggested, apparently not tongue in cheek, to go to the extreme of digging and filling holes to provide employment:

"If the Treasury were to fill old bottles with banknotes, bury them at suitable depths in disused coalmines which are then filled up to the surface with town rubbish, and leave it to private enterprise on well-tried principles of laissez-faire to dig the notes up again (the right to do so being obtained, of course, by tendering for leases of the note-bearing territory), there need be no more unemployment and, with the help of the repercussions, the real income of the community, and its capital wealth also, would probably become a good deal greater than it actually is. It would, indeed, be more sensible to build houses and the like; but if there are political and practical difficulties in the way of this, the above would be better than nothing."

But holes are, of course, no help in the long run: digging holes may damage the soil, ruin the water one drinks from and does nothing for the long term energy balance. Dig and fill holes long enough, and you will die of thirst and hunger, in the dark.

So Keynes’ notion was completely erroneous: it is not innocuous to do whatever to lift employment. Why? Because digging holes and refilling them has no public utility.

What is true is that it does not really matter what organization, public or private, provides with employment, as long as the employment has public utility. It is also true that if private enterprise is unable to provide enough employment, or enough public utility, it ought to be replaced by the government, or just outlawed, all together (that is what ought to happen with a lot of the financial industry; in a vague concession, there is talk to do just that for so called "flash" or "high frequency trading").

Hence who provides with meaningful, public utility employment, is irrelevant, as long as there is enough of it. It does not matter if it is private, or if it is public. Corruption and inefficiency, and lack of public utility should, instead, be the focus of worry. Wars as in Iraq and Afghanistan have no public utility.

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CORRUPTION R US.

Then the problem becomes to make sure that one is having an efficient government.

Corruption in the USA is astronomical, by European standards. I know, I have seen the American glorification propaganda about the USA having little corruption, and France much more. But of course it depends upon what the country affected considers to be illegal. Some practices which are common and lauded in the USA, would be intolerable in France. Even before the justice system could strike, common people would.

Let me give an example, to focus thought. In the USA, lawyers can find themselves heading hospitals, if they have the right political ties. Imagining a French hospital full of French doctors taking orders from immensely paid lawyers, just because they were politically appointed, is completely unimaginable. The French doctors would bust the doors of the board, and throw the parasites out. Or, then sequester them, and give them an earful. Trust the French police to be highly circumspect, when workers or employees get angry (they are trained and have orders that way).

  • Let’s take a particular example, to picture better what I am talking about. Here is the case of Valerie Jarrett, a lawyer, with no other degree whatsoever. Jarrett is one of three Senior Advisors to President Obama. She is Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement.

(The following quote is straight from Wikipedia):

"Chicago politics:

Valerie Jarrett got her start in Chicago politics in 1987 working for Mayor Harold Washington as Deputy Corporation Counsel for Finance and Development.

Jarrett continued to work in the mayor’s office in the 1990s. She was Deputy Chief of Staff for Mayor Richard Daley, during which time (1991) she hired Michelle Robinson, then engaged to Barack Obama, away from a private law firm. Jarrett served as Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development from 1992 through 1995, and was Chair of the Chicago Transit Board from 1995 to 2005.

Business administration:

Until joining the Obama Administration, Jarrett was the CEO of The Habitat Company, a real estate development and management company which she joined in 1995… Jarrett was a member of the board of Chicago Stock Exchange (2000–2007, as Chairman, 2004–2007).

She is also the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Chicago Medical Center, Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Chicago and a Trustee of Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. Jarrett serves on the board of directors of USG Corporation, a Chicago based building materials corporation.

Jarrett’s previous year’s income, in a 2009 report, was a $300,000 salary and $550,000 in deferred compensation from The Habitat Executive Services, Inc. The Wall Street Journal also reported she disclosed payments of more than $346,000 for service on boards of directors that reflect her political ties, and work in Chicago real estate and community development. She was paid $76,000 for service as a director of Navigant Consulting, Inc. a Chicago-based global consulting group with governmental clients. She received $146,600 from USG, and $58,000 to serve on the board of Rreef American REIT II, a real estate investment trust based in San Francisco. The Chicago Stock Exchange, Inc., paid her $34,444."

Ms Jarrett is a jack, or should I say, a jarrett, of all trades: law, finance, medicine, real estate, government, she knows it all, she does it all. But always for an impressive fee: this jack, or should I say, jarrett, is always well rewarded for its amazing mental qualities. America needs just one worker: Jarrett. With just one degree, law. Then the hospitals will know what to do.

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SOCRATES WOULD HAVE BEEN ANGRIER THAN EVER:

Socrates complained extensively about the fact that men were elected for doing jobs for which they were not properly trained. He thought that was a disaster for Athens, and a parody of the democratic principle. But at least those men had been elected. What Socrates found childish was the supposition that the electoral process would make an expert of someone who had no expertise. As he famously pointed out:"When you need a shoe repaired, you go to a shoe maker." Well, in the USA, when you want your patients cured, you go to Jarrett.

In the USA, there is no need for elections. A selection by fellow politicians it all it takes. The People at large is best not consulted, say the politicians, and then they splurge. (Reminder: the average Senator or Congressman is a multi millionaire; about 5 million dollars for the average Senator, that is more than 50 times the worth of the average American family.)

After Mr. Obama was elected Senator, Jarrett selected Ms. Obama as a fellow lawyer to sit on the board of the hospital, and Ms. Obama’s income more than tripled above $300,000, with a side position on company associated to Wall Mart (of Hillary Clinton’s fame). Now that is two lawyers without medical degrees, or any sort of scientific background on the board of an hospital, making medical decisions.

Ms. Obama, according to press reports, organized one of these busing schemes US hospitals are becoming famous for (to shoo poor patients so far away that they get discouraged from the long bus rides, thus reducing health expenditures on those of little worth).

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HOW EUROPE ANSWERED SOCRATES:

Around 732, confronted to superstitious savages, the Franks chose the name European to qualify themselves. That was a program by itself. It meant continental Greece, in other words: Athens.

Socrates had confronted the political organization of democratic Athens, to the price of his life.

The preceding glimpse on how the American society is organized causes pause. It is obviously not a question of democracy anymore (who ever elected Jarrett to play doctor without a licence?).

Socrates’ bitter complaints were addressed by European society. Slowly, during the Middle Ages, guilds, confraternities of workers, fraternities, orders (from French ordres), colleges (from Roman collegia), systems and associations rose. Those became institutions of experts and competent job holders or officers.

Example were: Justice, the Order of Doctors, the Universities (from the Cathedral schools, and the school system imposed on the Catholic Church by Frankish law), countless craftsmen guilds, etc…

Inside such institutions, competence was self regulated: the institutions were democratic inside, onto themselves. Outside, they were, well, institutions: knowledgeable, full of indispensable expertise, but also immovable, and very powerful. Their role in society was carefully regulated, but also unimpeachable. They imposed democracy, with their equalitarian selection processes: by 1300 CE, the closest advisers of the redoubtable king of France, terminator of Templar knights and pope alike, Philipe Le Bel’s, were top lawyers without any aristocratic background (they were ennobled later).

Members of the democratic institutions are democratically elected (through their merits), and are eminently qualified (through their merits). The invention of democratic institutions married competency and democracy. It put Socrates’ objections to rest.

In the Occident, democratic institutions became their own bosses, and were fun. Because they were irreplaceable in the socio-economy, the sovereigns had to back off, they were forced to share power with them.

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OF THOSE WITH WEAK DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS: CONSTANTINOPLE, ISLAM, USA:

The caesaropapism of Constantinople and Islam prevented the rise of democratic institutions. These ill fated polities spent their authoritarian existence, jumping from one dictatorship to the next, and ultimately whatever was left of civilization wilted and died. (The Ottoman empire and Egypt tried to compensate the absence of institutions by importing Europeans, either as guest workers, engineers, or slaves.)

The principle of caesaropapism says that there is no boss, but the boss, and God is his prophet. It does not matter how that one boss, and only one boss, the guy above, got there. (Hence the obsessive "religious" insistence that there is one God and only one God, and so and so is its sub-God, to be treated with the greatest abjection).

An example of such an institution was justice (which is not independent in Islam, because it depends upon God, who depends, in turn, upon the fascist politicians). Justice became independent and immensely powerful, right in the Middle Ages.

The USA was not a direct heir of caesaropapism: as an English colony when the monarch of England was monarch of France (as far as she/he was concerned), English America should have applied Frankish law.

Instead, though, the European tradition was broken in the USA.

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WEAK AMERICAN JUSTICE:

An example again. In the USA, justice is not really an independent institution. That Americans think it is, and that it is more so than in Morocco, is not enough to make it so. Indeed, baby judges nurtured by an institution of justice as students do not exist in the USA: there is no such an institution as independent judgeship, there is not even an appearance of it. (There is in France: law students compete to enter the “Ecole Nationale de la Magistrature” –National School of Judgeship. Once, and if they are out, they start as student judges, so to speak…)

Just as to head a hospital, like Jarrett or Obama, it is enough to be a lawyer, in the USA, to be a judge, it is enough to be popular among the powers that be.

In the USA, lawyers become judges, and they are elected, not by their elder justices, but by people, or the politicians. For example Bush was impressed by the torture work of one of the torture lawyers in his administration, so he selected one of his torture lawyers to become a Federal judge. Other politicians thought that was a great idea, Senators approved it, and now the Federal "judge" (Bybee) sits pretty ugly in San Francisco. (Although he may well be the object of an international warrant of arrest for aiding and abetting torture, any time.)

Why did English colony, the USA break from the European tradition of democratic institutions? Because in the Seventeenth century, the future USA was left to its own instruments. It was founded as a "joint stock company", and the hyper wealthy owners had made the colony into a tax and legal heaven (meaning no laws, but laws for the rich). The English colony developed its own American institutions, starting with slavery. When you have slavery, you need justice itself to be enslaved. First things first.

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STRONG FRENCH HEALTH CARE INSTITUTIONS:

Similarly to what happened with justice, France developed a strong "ordre" for medical doctors, the Ordre des Medecins. Medicine, as an institution, got used to taking orders only from itself.

There is also, in France, an ‘Ordre des Pharmaciens". This Order of Pharmacists is made of PhDs in Pharmacy in senior position. It has no lawyers, no political appointees, just pharmacy PhDs. It set up the transfer of a pharmaceutical practice from PhD in pharmacy to PhD in pharmacy (there is a distinction made with the transfer of the physical plant itself, by the way). The Order will carefully consider candidates among the PhD in pharmacy, including whether they already own a pharmacy, and if so where (so that nobody can corner the market). Ownership is limited to three pharmacies. So all pharmacists in France are owners, and their implantation are solid. This is important for health, since PhDs in pharmacy, after as many years studying as MDs, can prescribe drugs, and are often the first line of defense in a medical emergency. Their local durability insures trust and knowledge (although all transactions are registered by the electronic Carte Vitale, a credit card size green card with all information on the patient digitally therein; by the way, privacy laws in France are much stronger than in the USA).

The remarkable French health care system grew straight out of the independence and power of the Order of Doctors and the Order of Pharmacists. So it is self regulated naturally, as it has been for centuries.

The USA is clearly deficient in the power and independence of comparable institutions. So politicians in the USA can gain access all over the pie, and put their greedy fingers everywhere, and call themselves liberal, as they splurge , indeed, rather liberally.

***

Patrice Ayme.

***

P/S: One could say that is just demonstrated that government can create jobs, not that they are useful. But the example of corruption I gave was private, not public. Many advanced countries in Europe do very well with around half the GDP of governmental origin. Besides, when all is taken into account, this is also where the economy of the USA stand. For example firms in aerospace work mainly for the government (although Airbus does not, in Europe, its parent company, EADS, is the world’s largest defense –read government- contractor). 

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15 Responses to “CORRUPTION CIVILIZATION.”

  1. khin Says:

    The USA suffers from a democratic deficit.

    khin on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 10:04:39 PM PDT

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Khin: that’s an such excellent way to put it that I borrowed it from you, and reinjected it in my essay…

      I really don’t see any way out of it, except by talking, talking, talking… Although we can say that running a campaign on money does not work: as I saw under my unbelieving eyes, those who could bring millions to the table were the only ones who got to the table, when government settled…
      Patrice Ayme Tyranosopher

  2. TW Says:

    TW

    There was very little substance I could agree with here and a lot of bases were sure touched on.

    For one thing govenment is always a problem. Particularly explosive growth in government. We need government, but you can’t base any sort of robust economy on government jobs. Canada has been big in recent years on job growth in the public sector. Those jobs typically produce nothing of value. They create no wealth or growth other than the growth of big government. They may be sometimes necessary because they provide a needed service, but that service is overhead that must be paid for by something that actually creates wealth. Canada’s economy isn’t one to envy.

    Even if a government sponsored office provides a service at a nominal fee to be somewhat “self-supporting”, wealth has to be created somewhere to pay for it. That somewhere is usually in the private sector. Government seldom creates wealth but excels at waste and inefficiency.

    TW, Wed Aug 5, 2009 11:19am

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      That the government is “always the problem” is the FEUDAL argument. It led straight to the dark Ages and the feudal system in Rome. I have spent a lot of time trying to slay that dragon, in many essays, over the years. Just to repeat what neoconservatives and Wall Street have said forever does not advance the debate. Besides, we all know it’s wrong. The question is why.

      A job is a job. That the employer is Mr. Private, or Mr. Public, ought to make no difference. As long as the job is useful to society, somehow.

      So, with all due respect, it is funny how you completely do NOT seem to have read or comprehend anything significant in my essay: the corruption was in the private sector, and the graph shows that, indeed government creates riches. Or, at the very least, employment. I added a P/S, though, as a reminder of my answer on the utility of government jobs.

      PA

      PA

  3. Kathryn Neall Says:

    What troubles me about the “French as excellence” example, or even Europe as example, in any argument in comparison with the US (or even the Ottoman empire) is a failure to identify the function of pluralism (however imperfectly rendered) of population.

    Too many business opportunities in France are “french only”, and deeply nationalistic in actuality. Too many unions discriminate on this basis, too many ethnicities deeply marginalized and literally ghettoized. Your achievements are based in homogeneity of intent and construed and enforced in a way that can not be maintained in the US. Don’t get me wrong, I am a liberal, and an admirer of much of the European social process and I particularly press the moral issues you highlight. But French solutions are built on a shaky nationalistic (and by extension racist) platform. It will be their undoing if they cannot solve this, and renders such “examples” as problematic as the forms of corruption in the US and both forms currently undermine democracy… non?

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Kathryn:
      Thank you for commenting, and voicing your inner American! I am sure that many feel just like you, so some revelations are in order. I hope I am not going to be too inflamed in my rethoric, I have that unfortunate tendency. Perhaps some Asian dragon genes, deep inside (let’s not forget that the Huns got to Orleans).

      With all due respect, it seems to me that France is much more internationalist than the USA. Most French own passports (much more than people do in the USA). Most people talk at least one foreign language. French students are required to study history, year after year, for about 12 years, starting in primary school, and it starts sometimes before Egypt. Besides, France’s population grew mostly from immigration for about two centuries (now it’s growing without).

      You say business opportunities in France are “French only”. Well, you see, France is not a fully independent country. France is part of the EUROPEAN UNION, and French citizens are European citizens. It is against European LAW to provide business opportunities “French only”. France does not violate European law.

      To call France racist and nationalist is something the right in the USA loves to do. Never mind that racism never had a constitutional, or legal place in France since Iulius Caesar conquered Gallia Comida. France is so melted a melting pot, that nobody can tell most of the parts, and no one cares. Sarkozy is Jewish, Hungarian, Greek, whatever: nobody cares.

      Other points: many years in a row, France had the world record of “direct investment”. Meaning investment by foreigners. Most big “French” companies are multinational giants.

      Oh, foreigners can be elected in local elections in France, as long as they are EU citizens.

      France is also by far the country in Europe with the most people of recent Muslim or Jewish lineage (four times more Muslims in France than in the UK, and more than in the USA).

      So, really, I am flying to France Tuesday, and I will be delighted to be back in the real thing, rather than the contemptible parody Americans love to hate, as their masters told them to. You should try it to too: damaged Americans get free health care there. A question of basic human rights. Not to say you are in need of treatment, but I would suggest that American mainstream media is little more than pro-plutocratic propaganda. In particular, about health care, they pile up non factual non sense.

      Oh, last point: the USA makes a point to discriminate between its citizens. Some are real citizens, other are lesser types. Not so in France. All citizens in France have all citizenship rights. Any can become president, even if born in Senegal, and becoming French when an adult (such a case may happen, thanks to the brillant Rama Yade). So much for rabid French nationalism, and long live American racism! France is pluralist, the USA is, still, racist.

      In a few months I will have a daughter, and I will make a point that she will not be born here (USA). There is some point at which the atmosphere simply becomes too laden with lies to be breathable.

      Thanks again, and sorry to put a damper on the anti-French party!

      PA

  4. Kathryn Neall Says:

    LOL you have taken me quite negatively. Actually most Americans have no idea what goes on in France, nor do they particularly care. That’s a problem actually, a cultural isolationism that continues to cause issues.

    I am by no means anti-French, my field is Religion and Ethics (and my research languages are French and Persian) and I watch the social issues of Europe closely. But it is entirely true that Americans have to deal with a level of pluralism that the French do not. And you have not responded to that point as far as your theory of economics is concerned. Yes the USA has serious racism issues but it has worked against that, hence Barak Obama. In 20 years white America will be a minority, which imo is a good thing, pluralism is what makes us strong.

    You are ignoring entirely the condition of French citizens of Algerian or other Arabic heritage; talk about a client population (true of Germany and its Turks as well). Current research, for instance the resume project (if you have a french sounding name you get an interview, if your name is Muhammad forget it) highlights the way in which racism is at work in your institutions. France is often in the papers for its riots, its issues on the hijab and I defy you to show me statistics that have French ethnic minorities at parity in housing and income. It is not a matter of who does acceptance better but rather your interesting promotion of Gallic values as without prejudice. Ethics would dictate a bit better transparency of self-reflection. France has its own ethical issues to confront, you must admit. But I am not trying to one up you, I am merely trying to say that applying European economic theory to the US is difficult due to the nature of individual rights that greater pluralism demands. Greater homogeneity of population has its pluses (greater agreement on social issues) and its minuses which need to be addressed.

    A great deal of what you have presented about the US is very true, although you seem rather angry about most of it. But you need to understand that there is a tremendous shift out of much of the negative going on at the moment. We have been behind Europe consistently on social welfare issues that is seriously true. What we took as a young nation out of Great Britain was a strong Puritan work ethic a la Weber. That work ethic, combined with a Protestant emphasis on ends being more important that means has largely driven us in how we formed institutions in the past, those that have currently damned us to near bankruptcy even now.

    But if you look at Weber again, under the ascetic-in-the-world paradigm, its recessive trait is the mystic-in-the-world… the economics of the mystic are much different. In my estimation about 50% of the US population is moving into the mystic paradigm (anti-institutional, each individual as infinite and equal, means are the only priority) and that is driving a left that is working very hard at righting the wrongs of the past. But at the same time, the reaction of the right is fear based; change is coming too fast — and you can feel the hysteria that underlies our fundamentalists. The biggest issue we face is how to accept those that reject us. How does the left manage the right…. In the vein, I find it extremely amusing to have you so thoroughly rejected me. I accept your rejection and shall move on then.

    And your daughter… she is of the generation of mystics. She will be of the generation of acceptance; agape. No matter where she is born.

    Namaste.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Kathryn:
      Let me quote you: “Americans have to deal with a level of pluralism that the French do not. And you have not responded to that point as far as your theory of economics is concerned. Yes the USA has serious racism issues but it has worked against that, hence Barak Obama.”
      I do not know where you get you informations from, about “pluralism”. Main stream media? What I know is that I live half and half between France and one of the best places in the USA (according to the tourists, income, scenery, higher pursuits, etc…) I can compare.

      The “level of pluralism” is not inferior in France. Simply, people are better integrated. As far as the riots are concerned, well, the French are much more combative. There are several people of “Algerian” origin in my family, fully integrated. They look so French, no American, and no French, could tell, and not that the French care. France had at least three heads of government who were Jewish (among them PM Mendes France and Blum).
      It’s true there are problems in France, nobody says there are not. Simply if you gave to the Americans the combative French mentality, the conditions Americans have to live in day in, day out, would be found insufferable, and the entire country would go on strike, and engage authorities in combat (as happens regularly in France).
      My main “theory of economics” has not been exposed in recent essays.
      Barack Obama has turned into the errand boy of the banking industry, but he is really tough on health care: no gifts there. It’s not because someone has a tan, that his heart, and his ideas, are not white. Barack Obama was nearly completely brought up by white people (his white grand parents), in Hawai’i, most of his memoirs of suffering as a black man is imaginary, according to direct witnesses, and indirect evidence (no black ghetto in Oahu, and Obama went to the most exclusive private school in Hawai’i, made for the white children of the white superior class). I do not doubt he suffered from racism, when he got to the mainland, though, but that is a different problem. By then his emotional system as a white kid was set. I am, there again, in excellent position to judge: I was brought up in real black Africa, and I ooze with contempt for many white ways.

      We will see how successful Obama’s presidency is. It is NOT starting well, though (the seeds of disaster have been planted). A backlash is entirely imaginable, since Mr. Obama is squandering the opportunity for change.
      I doubt there is acceptance ahead. Certainly not in France. Methods to preserve jobs in France rise to what would be viewed as sheer terrorism in the USA (and the workers would be shot, in the USA). There is talk to introduce a carbon tax within months. Done suitably, it would change world trade.
      PA

  5. Kathryn Neall Says:

    Economically, it was your post on the Krugman blog I found interesting. There is insufficient discussion I do believe on the aspects of moral economics. And right action, based in means rather than ends — that demands a view of economics that is based in more intimate moral decisions.

    Statistically, by pluralism, I refer to cultural pluralism. In the US, 38% of the population has a cultural heritage that is not white Anglo/European. In France that number is approx 6%. In the US, with the exception of native americans, everyone is an immigrant or a child of immigrants. Identity as “American” is not anchored in place (ie: my ancestors have lived in this geographic location for a 1,000 years) as much as it is aligned to ideology based on the rights of individuals. So I am an “American” which can be from Maine to Texas. Few of us identify at a state or local level (although, the more rural states tend to be far more clan affiliated).

    Of course, it’s only been a couple hundred years. Of the many things that amaze me when I travel outside of the US is how most countries continue to live in homes that are ancient. Hundreds of years old… you can find so many references to the past, long distant past. Roman ruins everywhere across Europe… amazing accommodation of past to present and future. The American pace has been different, we tend to destroy and rebuild every few generations. It’s a fundamental difference in how a world view is built. And in how “nationalism” is defined and the rate at which tolerance and inclusion are managed.

    For instance, Switzerland has been criticized for its approach to immigrants, which in part requires that a recognized language be spoken in the home in a certain amount of time. On the one hand, it’s certainly an attempt at rapid assimilation of immigrants into the dominant culture. On the other, it’s not very realistic and is seen as discriminating. In the US, we don’t fuss too much over immigrants as we find that their first born generations become pretty well assimilated in language, the second generation moves out of the family orbit and by third generation are English only speaking.

    France has had a lot of European immigration over the last century and that has assimilated well. But for instance one can argue that your 10% of population that has recent Italian descent was not as culturally disparate and managed a passive assimilation.

    But anyway, my original post was about how I find European solutions difficult to apply to the US due to simply a rather different mindset. And on top of that, the US is a country divided at the moment — I personally am watching the right descend into really appalling race baiting, and vigilantism and obnoxious behavior and trying to ascertain what it is that frightens them so. But for the most part Americans are cooperative and not combative. Part of that is that “combative” seems to many to be a tipping point where our diversity can breakdown into mutually destructive camps.

    Poor President Obama has to walk a terrifically narrow line and I don’t envy him that. I am sympathetic that he is trying to keep lines of dialogue open and yet I am entirely pessimistic about it. I think in the end compromise simply negates all the potential for change. But change is constant here, and it takes time and patience to see it through.

    Again though, I think this is interesting statement you made:
    <>

    Perhaps you are correct.

    But then there is this from a recent news article:
    <<<>>

    From an Algerian paper: <>>

    With France having by far the largest population of Muslims, it’s really intriguing to watch how this plays out. And again, the difference US to France, is instructive in the case of young girls wearing hijab in school, this from Oklahoma:

    <<>>

    All over the US hijab is openly worn in all public educational institutions.

    Rather different from Sarkozy’s recent approach. Again, and again, and again, what what works in Europe seems to inapplicable in the US, and that at a fundamental level.

    Best.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Hijab will not last much after the fiftieth bomber has used it to carry bombs, in the USA. As happened in France, in the past. Nevertheless, right now Hijab is legal in France in the streets. I hope dearly it will not be so in the future. Lots of people who lived in countries infected by litteral Quranism have fled to France precisely to escape the crazies of God.

      Suisse has four official languages. 15% is recent immigrants. To integrate forcefully immigrants, Britain is going to institute a point passport (great idea!). In France, minorities, although clearly not integrated enough, are better integrated than in many other countries.

      “Poor president Obama” is blowing it up right now. For health care, He just had to reinforce Medicare, and fight corruption. He should stop playing right man of God in Afghanistan. He should stop protecting the filthy, corrupting and ravenous hyper rich. He is playing a I-love-the-right Weimar like policy, instead of playing progressive offense. What followed Weimar? Hitler. Why? Because WEIMAR PREPARED HITLER’S BED.

      All your stats should be taken with a grain of salt. Perfect integration inside French society, plus a high birth rate of the French population, plus the fact that North African immigrants can look more French than the French (green eyes, etc…) hides the diversity of origins. For example, I am truly an African, but nobody could tell. Walking the streets, I see no less diversity than in the USA.

      PA

  6. Kathryn Neall Says:

    Oh sorry, i forget that brackets suppress on some websites.

    Your quote was:
    There are several people of “Algerian” origin in my family, fully integrated. They look so French, no American, and no French, could tell, and not that the French care.

    The news quotes are

    1: the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) says it has documented a wide range of anti-Muslim or Islamophobic abuse across the EU’s 25 member states. It says that Muslims are confronting a rise in racism ranging from violence through to discrimination in housing and employment.
    Statistics:
    French Islam: Second largest religion
    Five million Muslims (estimate)
    1,600 places of worship
    35% Algerian origin (estimate)
    25% Moroccan origin (estimate)
    10% Tunisian origin (estimate)
    Concentrated in poor suburbs of Paris, Lille, Lyon, Marseille and other cities

    2. The problem of suburbs becoming real ethnic ghettos was not adequately addressed. Indeed, the problem of political integration talked about by successive French governments was not dealt with on the ground.

    3: The education authorities said the hijab breached the dress code of the school in Oklahoma. But the justice department says it amounts to religious discrimination.

    My apologies.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Kathryn:
      Thanks for still be here, and hanging on. Your points are interesting, because they bring in reply higher, trascendental points. You quote European statistics and studies, and carries them over, comparing them with? With what? Did the European Monitering Centre monitor the USA too? And compare?

      No. One has to compare comparable. This is true all over. In France some practices are called corrupt. By the French themselves, about French ways. The wife of the mayor of Paris wrote a report of 40 pages, and was paid $30,000. She got condemned to jail. In the USA, well, I refer you to my CORRUPTION CIVILIZATION: Ms jarrett and Ms Obama would already have appeared in front of judges in France. But mr. Obama calls Jarrett “my business connection”… Americans are continually quoting hards critiques of the French about themselves, and they forget to listen to French critiques about the USA, or then deride that as “Anti-Americanism”. Corruption there, normal business practice here.

      Henri Gaino, a philosopher officially advising president Sarkozy, expressed on TV his total disgust about Goldman Sachs (and its bonuses). So did Ms. Lagarde (Finance minister), Sarkozy and others…

      There are MUCH MORE than 5 millions of people of Muslim descent in France. It depends when the cut-off is put too. 30 years ago, 1,200 years ago? Log term, most French have Muslim and Jewish ancestors. I don’t know if “French Islam” is “second largest religion”. But, if it is, then Catholicism is the third, because aggressive secularism is the first.

      Americans may be obsessed by religion, Islam, etc. But france is “laique”, which means non religious.

      What the justice depatment says is of no import. By not prosecuting people who have promoted torture, it is already in violation of international law. Corrupt American justice officials such as judge Bybee should show up in Europe. With a bit of luck, an International Warrant of Arrest will be issued, just so that he can be caught before he escapes.

      France is a state of law. the French People’s representatives pass laws. Differently from the USA with SCOTUS, France has a real constitutional court, fully endowed by a correct constitutional procedure, and the European judicial court system has two courts above this. None of them opposed the French laws FORBIDDING RELIGIOUS EXHIBITIONISM IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS. And what is the problem anyway? Two Muslim women in the French government are pushing for a law banning “habit prison” (“prison clothing”). That would address the situation in the streets. After all, it’s forbidden to go around naked, so why not the obverse? Why to discriminate only against the naked?

      You should indeed apologize for rolling out Holder.

      PA

  7. Merrill the ER doctor Says:

    I liked this essay.

    Lots of important ideas. Your points about People involved in science and medicine being involved in governance of institutions that provided science and medicine is very important, but flies under the radar a lot in America. Most of us just accept that the lawyers, and business people seem to be on every important board of directors controlling billions of dollars in resources, often resources that require a lot of expertise and knowledge.

    It seems like it’s a given, that you can’t be involved in this kind of governance work unless you have a law degree or a Business degree. License to steal?

    Merrill

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Merrill: Those closest to the flow of gold, end up with the gold, that is why they were closest to the gold to start with. To think that such people would make reforms is naive, but it is not naive to know that they will try their best to make everybody believe that they are going to make reforms, so that they is no need, and it would be counter productive, to throw them out now.

      It is even more pernicious than this. Because an environment has been created, by the gold diggers, favorable to gold diggers. And let everything else perish! Medecine should be self regulated by its own cells, doctors, and not by creatures without expertise, jacks of all trades, reminiscent of malignant cells…. Heaping contempt on them will not be enough to make them go away…

      PA

  8. Kathryn Neall Says:

    Actually the Oklahoma decision predates Holder. My point only being that in the US, the judicial issue was religious discrimination. It’s a distinct difference from European (or closer to home Canadian) basis for law. Hate speech will get you prison time in Europe, not in the US. There is a sense under the law (regardless of the DOJ personnel) of a different idea of what constitutes individual rights. European law will tend toward the best interests of all groups… the US, not so much. If someone in hijab blows people up in NYC, the view legally will be that this is the act of one individual and the “class” (of hijab wearers) cannot be punished if said punishment interferes with their individual rights. Of course, public reaction against the “other” is always going to be something else. Also, I would say that the laicization of France is not equatable to atheism (and still subject to the whims of “religion”). But it is again, a very different view of the world and why European solutions do not fit the US paradigm at this time.

    I’m off now, end of thread for me. Thanks for your time.

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