How to go out like the Soviets

Part Two
Continued from Part One

This type of social entropy happens with the best of intentions. The Tea Party versus Obama split can be summarized in the following paragraphs; it’s about choice of the type of society we want. Do we want a European-style socialist economy, where a small elite controls society without intervention by markets, and therefore, must be closed and insular? Or do we want a more open system, where dogma and having the “right friends” in unions, government and the tame parts of industry is less important?

It is more useful to think of this administration as pursuing a European-style corporate state, a form of political economy that allows the state to exert strong control in the economy while maintaining a nominal façade of private ownership.

In their current form, European corporate states tend to be more informal than their predecessors, drawing on mutually supporting networks of labor, industry and government leaders without the explicit structure of Mussolini’s cartels or Roosevelt’s code authorities. These networks are driven by an implicit deal by each of the three groups to protect their mutual interests and to recognize specific obligations.

In this three-way arrangement, unionized workers in key industries get high wages, guaranteed employment, rich pension systems and government protection from competition from younger and foreign workers. In return, they promise labor peace (barring the occasional strike to demonstrate their power) and tremendous election-day muscle.

The losers in all of this are … everyone else. In effect this corporate system is just another age-old, historically time-worn effort to cement the power of a small group of elites. Entrepreneurship and innovation are often impossible, as incumbent businesses can call on tremendous state powers to stifle competitive threats. – Forbes

Europe has experimented with socialism for many decades now, and the results are in: slow, steady decay. The years of a vital Europe are behind it, and while there are periodic surges in the economy, we don’t see much leadership coming out of European societies in part because they are so calcified — “the way we do things around here” trumps new ideas because of the huge number of people dependent on the way they do things around there — that they are inflexible, dogmatic Nanny States in which a hotdog costs $20, half of your taxes go to government, and you get lots of free social services as a result but they are of low quality.

Visualize this process as a type of flattening. When you have a central junta of unions, government and big corporations who do what’s convenient for them, life has become like high school. There’s a right answer, and a wrong answer; there’s only one way (maybe with a few variations) of getting anything done. This central control keeps the peace and keeps order, but it does so at a great cost. In order to flatten the social order, and make every student more equal, and avoid any kind of disturbance, they have to filter out anything but that which falls within the range of average or those actions which their rules expect and have a check-box on their triplicate forms for. Anything else becomes bad, evil or just unsupported. But remember, it’s all in the name of safety, peace and equality.

As a consequence of living in such a frustration zone, Europe is dying from low birth rate. They’re importing labor so that they don’t vanish entirely. Does this sound like a happy society to you, or people whiling away the time until the collapse takes them silently in the night?

The number of elderly already exceeds the number of young people in many countries, and the European Union’s executive arm, alarmed by the trend, estimates that the bloc will have a shortfall of 20 million workers by 2030 if the low birthrates persist.

Immigration from non-European countries, already highly contentious across the EU, would not be sufficient to fill the gap even if Europe’s relatively homogenous countries were willing to embrace millions of foreign newcomers, experts say.

Throughout Europe, women have delayed having children, or opted out entirely, as they have become more educated and better integrated into the labor market.

As countries begin to feel the demographic crunch, Europe’s “birth dearth” is becoming a political issue. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany pushed through a package of family-boosting incentives for working women in June, and President Vladimir Putin warned in May that Russia’s population decline was critical. Almost all governments are increasing baby bonuses. – NYT

This is the flattening of societies: the more you spread the wealth, and the more rules you put into place and thus the more you make people dependent on that centralized junta of government and unions, the less change can occur. You have a less dynamic society. In fact, you have a stagnating one that can’t reproduce, has “growing” economies that somehow end up playing second fiddle, and of course, lots of infuriating rules.

Europe’s unemployment rate unexpectedly increased to 10 percent, the highest in more than 11 years, as companies cut costs in the wake of the worst recession in more than six decades. – Bloomberg

What’s important to realize about the European model is that it’s not a bold choice. It’s a process of entropy by which the most complex decisions of a society get dumbed down into a sort of inertia, an ethic of convenience and making sure everyone in the room is happy and fed. This results in a proliferation of incompetents, and a slowing down of society at large so that it can deal with those incompetents at their speed, which makes for a starchy, frustrating, slow-moving place.

Coincidentally, those attributes describe both European economies lagging behind the USA and the declining Soviet Union. Dogma reigns the bureaucracy, dissidents are punished (in this country, we just “debunk” and ostracize them) and as a result, the economy has become less competitive and the society itself cannot react to obvious problems in its daily life. The result is total chaos: no agreement on what’s important, what’s real or where we’re going.

Part Two
Continues to Part Three

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