Thursday, February 18, 2010

French Unemployment With American Benefits

As I have understood it the rational conservative argument for the American economic system is that it promotes more robust economic growth and employment. While the French and Germans may enjoy more vacation time, universal health care, government provided daycare, etc. , they not only pay higher taxes, but also have more sluggish economies as a result. Well lets take a look at the international unemployment data from the BLS.

As you can see the unemployment rate in the United States is now slightly higher than that of France. There are a few EU countries like Ireland and Spain that have worse unemployment situations, but when you average it out the unemployment rate in the Euro zone and the EU is roughly the same as France and the US. It is worth noting that besides Ireland, pretty much every country in northwestern Europe (UK, Scandinavia, Germany, etc.) have lower unemployment rates. So do Australia, Canada, and Japan. The US has also had the most rapid rise in unemployment of the first world countries profiled in the first chart. Its also worth noting that those unemployed in other industrialized countries can generally count on better unemployment benefits as well as health insurance. Also keep in mind that most of that vaunted economic growth in the US over the last ten years was basically derived from a giant ponzi scheme. So which system looks more sound now?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Paging Dr. Strangelove

I suppose I should be grateful to the last administration for not starting World War III over outer Slobovia, but the fact they even considered bombing Russian forces to save a fairly unimportant non-NATO country reveals a pretty scary mindset. Also there is this.

"Asmus and some more hawkish former national security staffers believe that the conflict was the product of negligent American diplomacy and that it set a precedent for instability in Europe. Hadley defends the administration’s performance and argues that the blame for the conflict lies wholly with Russia.

Asmus argues that a series of Western mistakes signaled to Russia that it would be able to march into Georgia with impunity. Crucially, the NATO allies failed to agree, at a conference in Bucharest, Romania, on a concrete plan that would put Georgia and Ukraine on a path toward NATO membership. And, he argues, Bush never called Russia’s top leaders to make clear that an invasion of Georgia would bring drastic consequences."

Yep, the problem is that the U.S. has not meddled enough in Russia's near abroad.

The Office Was Not Terrible This Week

Not a perfect episode by any means, but pretty good and even great compared the average of this season. The other NBC shows were pretty good tonight too.