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February 01, 2006

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» More Debate on "A Catholic Alernative to Europe's Social Model" from Acton Institute PowerBlog
Amy Welborns blog has a post on the January 21 conference Acton held in Rome and links to Jennifer Roback Morses recent Acton News and Commentary article. The post and comments can be read here. Roback Morse also wrote about the confer [Read More]

Comments

Ken

However, there is a guaranteed way to have super-high fertility in Europe (like 6+ kids per couple):

Be born Muslim. Especially if your brand of Islam (like most of the slum mosques in Europe)is that of the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and Jihad.

Anastasia

For some as yet unknown reason, there has been a very significant decline in the sperm quality of European men. We're talking about almost 50% fewer good sperm in recent decades.

They think there may be an environmental cause: low level radiation exposure. European men seem the hardest hit but it appears to be happening to Western men in general.

Not that social policies have not had a profound effect...

Maureen O'Brien

It's probably lower activity levels and tighty whities. (Boxer-equivalents are a lot older style.)

Gerard E.

It's our big cities as well. The only neighborhoods with steady or increasing numbers of new babies are those generally considered The Hood. Consider my own City With All Its Works/Pomps. With thriving Center City- downtown region with successful restaurants, high-end retailers, nightspots. Growing population of full-time residents- people under 30. Gay and lesbian couples. Seasoned citizens whose children left them for large empty houses. Virtually all of them childless and may I add fair of skin. Surrounding neighborhoods have law-abiding citizens living in abject fear. With a popular form of apparel being the 'Stop Snitchin' t-shirt- urging residents not to consult police upon discovery of illegal activities. Increasing parallels between this and other major U.S. cities and those in Europe. With resulting social fallout.

Tony A

Well, it's difficult to comment, without knowing what this author is actually proposing. As many people tell the Democracts in the US: we know what you are against, but what are you for?

A few basic points:

* There is no single European social model. There are indeed major differences between the Anglo-Saxon model, Nordic model, Continental model, and Mediterranean model (see a recent paper by Andre Sapir for details).

* Some models work, others don't. In particular, the Nordic model is capable of delivering high rates on employment (at least as high as the US) while at the same time guaranteeing a more equal distribution of income, and negligible poverty. It does this by combining generous social benefits with strict eligibility, and insists of activation measures for the unemployed. It eschews labor and product market barriers. Nobody promotes the "Dutch model". Perhaps the author should look into the Danish "flexicurity" model, which is the latest fad (and seems to work along the lines described above).

* Europe shows that a cooperative approach to labor relations can work well. In some countries, agreements between unions, employers, and government has led to prudent wage growth, fiscal probity, and high employment growth. I'm talking mainly about Ireland and the Netherlands. This type of "corporatism" is well grounded in Catholic tradition.

* Many of the problems with labor market outsiders are very real ones, but are not problems everywhere. The real problems are in continental and southern Europe.

* On fertility rates, the author does not mention that there is a positive association between fertility and the provision of benefits condusive to child bearing. See the OECD literature on this area. Factors such as maternity leave, childcare benefits, and tax individualization (which lowers marginal rates on the second earner) all contribute to fertility. If you look at the numbers, fertility rates are highest in the Nordics, and lowest in countries like Italy and Spain-- precisely those countries with the lowest benefits.

* None of this is to deny that Europe has some serious problems. But I would still contend that it has many advantages over the United States, especially in terms of outcomes-- poverty, health care access etc. Perhaps the Acton Institute should figure out a Catholic solution to America's social problems first!

Rich Leonardi

If you look at the numbers, fertility rates are highest in the Nordics, and lowest in countries like Italy and Spain-- precisely those countries with the lowest benefits.

This is a bit like determining which cigarette butt swirling around the bowl is closest to the drain.

The point of the Euro-demographics discussion is why the butts are in the bowl in the first place.

c matt

One other thing - European countries have their defense costs largely subsidized by the US. As I have pointed out before, how many foreign bases does Norway have compared to the US?

This is not to knock Norway's benefits, but it is a lot easier to afford a nice car when someone else is paying your rent.

Emily Stimpson

Comparing the US to any of the Northern European countries is like comparing apples to oranges. Size, terrain, demographics, diversity: Everything is different. What works in Norway might work in Rhode Island or even Colorado. It can't work for the whole continental United States. Which is why we need not just a Catholic model, but a Catholic model designed to work in America.

clare Krishan

As the Holy Father cautions us in Deus Caritas Est, when we walk by faith using the church's social doctrine for guidance "Faith enables reason to do its work more effectively and to see its proper object more clearly." As citizens of any nation, we Catholics (*) in expressing our political will must first form our consciences in conformity with that 'proper object'. May I humbly suggest that in the spirit of "Ubi Caritas Deus ibi Est" that Big Business is just as dangerous to the social fabric as Big Government, requiring a social secuity net to catch its victims?

Acton himself quoth that beloved pithy one liner "Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely." Gloria L. Zúñiga describes good corporate citizenship in her Acton article "What Is Economic Personalism? A Phenomenological Analysis" at

http://www.acton.org/publicat/m_and_m/2001_fall/zuniga.html

recounting the tale of Continental Airlines first told in the 1998 book "From Worst to First". But beware - for every great story there's always the evil couterpart, read Monday's NY Times article by Ben Stein
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/29/business/yourmoney/29every.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

on the nanny state's handouts to the management of United Airlines "When You Fly in First Class, It's Easy to Forget the Dots" before critiquing other models of social security. If you don't get what JPII personalism has to do with "dots," go rent the movie "The Third Man" .

God Bless
Clare Krishan

(*) I'm a legal alien born of one northern European state who earned her social security entitlements and corporate pension benefits in another norther European state working for a Northern American multinational corporation claiming a 100% rating on the HRC report (Human Rights Campaign, an association promoting US gender equality) while operating a significant portion of their corporate undertakings in a Northern Asian state that requires employers to comply with "social security" record keeping of the menstrual regularity of their female employees so as to determine when birth control penalties need to be exacted (a.k.a. forced abortions). My stock options are still worthless (unexercisable since the stock is worth less than when the options were issued) years after the mega merger with another North American corporation. Meanwhile my state benefits are as valuable as the fertility rates of those who're going to be working to pay me - and as a previous poster mentioned - as along as "Gastarbeiter" from Turkey, Morocco and Tunisia keep having tax paying babies I'm not complaining. (It is of course my heart's desire that these brothers and sisters experience "the newness of biblical faith" and understand revelation as incarnation, but that's in God's hands not mine nor the states)

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