City Journal Winter 2016

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Theodore Dalrymple
Riots Present and Future « Back to Story

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Haha that's rediculous. No way
Prophecies are common place in the media in addition to rhetorical questions.
8/10/11: How unerringly prophetic.
"The penny is not likely to drop soon regarding the fact that governments don’t create jobs; at best, they create the conditions in which jobs can be created."

The government can perfectly easily create jobs. It could even create useful productive jobs! The UK and US could eliminate unemployment within a year, with all the benefits to society and individuals that would obtain. The consequence, in the short term at least, would be some devaluation of the currency, which would in any case be beneficial for manufacturing and exports.

To understand how this works, read Nobel economist William Vickrey at

or read Warren Mosler et al.

An excellent observation. For the numbers of unemployed young people with degrees - usually in quite useless subjects such as political science or social psychology have been on the increase in Europe for decades.
Tpady: BTW, the roughly 45 percent of Americans who owe no income tax earn less than $30,000, are elderly, and are single with children.

Aren't they lucky.
Tpady: The tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations hve extended another two years for a total of 11 years. Where is the benefit.

Bohomond: The suggestion that Ben Ali was better than Bourguiba is ludicrous. Bourguiba's list of western, democratic accomplishments are compelling and he was someone we "played ball with" all through the cold war, despite his anti-semitism (what a shock -anti semitism in the arab world).
According to the World Bank, the overall unemployment rate of higher education graduates in Tunisia, was below 5 percent in 1994, and has increased significantly to 23 percent in 2009. Recent graduates face 46 percent unemployment 18 months after graduation. While GDP continues to grow at a rapid rate, Tunisia has not created those good-paying, middle class jobs for college graduates. All this rampant free-marketeering has followed the profits, which clearly do not lead to job growth.
I read that the deposed leader of Tunisia took 3,000 pounds of gold with him when he left. That pile would be worth more than $60 million.

Well, I guess he was (sort of) a public employee. Tunisia's government workers apparently do better even than ours.

You said "They want continued tax cuts whereby it is clear that the only ones to benefit are corporations."

Almost half the population does not pay federal income tax, mostly by deducting and exempting their way out of it. Corporations are the only ones who benefit?

Mike: "Before Ben- Ali came to power, the country was a liberal democracy with a growing middle class and where education mattered."

Excuse me? Ben Ali succeeded President-for-Life Habib Bourguiba, who was Tunisia's dictator from independence in 1956 until his deposition in 1987. Tunisia has never been a democracy; and Ali continued and expanded the policy of universal education.

Actually, the dynamic the good Doctor discusses is perfectly illustrated by a tuition-hike rioter in Berekely (one of the rather routine smash-and-burn orgies the sanctimonious Left like to pretend don't exist while they wail about the "violent" Tea Party)- carrying a sign demanding not only a "free" college education, but a "guaranteed middle-class income."

Think through that for a minute.
The difference between Europe and the Maghreb are a) the welfare states, b) the role and habits of the police, c) the possibility to express political opinions and change things through elections, and d)demographic pressure.

I thus disagree with the position of comparing the two regions to each other. Yet, there are riots in Europe indeed. But the protagonists and motives are usually not the same. If you say riot is riot, no matter who and why, then yes, there will be riots also in Europe.

European officials have prepared for that. They see it coming unto them. That's why every EU member country is preparing updated emergency plans, updates the hate speech legislation, and the EU has created a transnational anti-riot police.
We seem to be going off piste here. All economies beleive that having more graduates make them more more competitive/successful - even Tunisia. The Maghreb and Europe are profoundly differrnt plsces - socially, economically historically. The issue is the Tunisian governing elite and not any of Theo's usual moans. The protests, not just supported by the disaffected young, have overthrown a quasi monarch and created the conditions thst may lead to chsnge.

The notion that ignorsnce is better than education is bizarre. This thrown together piece demeans you Theo. Its even worse than your usual bollocks.
Anyway, Dalrymple doesn't tell the wjole story: The Tunisian government was an authoritarian, repressive, police state where both speech and assembly were curtailed. Before Ben- Ali came to power, the country was a liberal democracy with a growing middle class and where education mattered. Since Ben Ali took over, GDP has steadily grown, making Tunisia the envy of Africa, but unemployment, poverty and repression also grew.
This may be the West's future but only if we give way to despotic rulers who see the bottom line as the only line that matters.
B Samuel - you are preaching to the choir here regarding tightening up Medicare. I think the largest savings will come in closing the "donut hole" though. But how do you answer Boots:
"Are we all going to stand around while the elderly are denied care?"
Mike: We will have to agree to disagree with the cost of the health care bill - from what I understand it will increase costs long term. I'll resist the temptation to go into the flaws in the bill, this isn't the place for it.

One anecdote though: my mother-in-law lives in retirement in Boca Raton, Florida. She tells me stories about how her friends use doctors visits as social calls, going to two and three physicians a WEEK, fully at taxpayer expense. My son brought back a photograph of their dream shopping plaza - medical professionals of every specialty, along with a Chinese restaurant and bagel place. The photograph shows the plaza full up with customers - a one stop recreation area.

Does that mean that reform is needed? yes, desperately, but the health care bill is so flawed that even the mess of the current system is better.

As to where to cut spending, it's wasn't seriously on the Democrats radar, and wouldn't have been but for the 2010 election, and it's not even clear that it is now, even after the "shellacking." The point is that spending will be cut - it can happen in an orderly fashion now, or the whole system will eventually collapse - all the sooner given the trillion dollar deficits being incurred under Obama. And some people will have to give up benefits, it can't work any other way - the problem is that whenever a group sees its benefits as being threatened, all we see are anecdotal examples of the impact of the cuts, but we never see what would happen if what we have now continues. And, as I said, there is no agreement even in the tea party on how to do it - there is an awareness of the problem, but not agreement on the solution. However, just because some people don't have ready solutions that they can't point out the problem, nor does it mean you ignore it.

Here I thought you would be delighted to take $500 billion out of a government program. My mistake. Besides, the 500b is the closure on pharmacuetical costs among other things - not "death panels."
The 2nd 10 years out with this bill is uncharted territory. But repealing it now certainly won't help to spread the cost or provide coverage.
What is happening to Arizona Medicaid is typical of the rationing that will come if health care is not fixed. Arizona has decided to make such decisions based on the budget and not medical need. It is-unfortunatley-politics at its worst.
The reason the healthcare bill seems to reduce the deficit is because:

1) It cuts $500 billion from Medicare. When the time comes to actually make that cut, and transfer those funds to healthcare for younger people, are we all going to stand around while the elderly are denied care? (For an example, the state of Arizona has stopped funding transplants for Medicaid recipients, and two people have now died who might have lived if they had received transplants. Will the country become complacent about such deaths in the elderly if they become commonplace?)

2) The first ten years of the healthcare bill contain tax increases but no spending. Right now the spending on healthcare is being imposed on private businesses that offer healthcare coverage. The second ten years contains the massive govt spending, and at that point the healthcare bill spending far outstrips the ability to pay for it.

The healthcare bill is a multi-trillion dollar spending bill, it will increase the national debt not lessen it.
A small minority who have power and influence are casing misery on so many all over the world. There are dark days ahead, I fear.
B. Samuel: I appreciate your thoughtful and detailed response to my off-handed quip. I agree that the media focus on the Tea Party (TP) is on the more "colorful" aspects of the movement. However, I believe I asked what the TP offers as a solution to the problem as described by Gotshalk. Cutting spending as a response isn't very helpful without specifics - specifics matter. The health care bill promises to cut health care costs in the long term. Health care costs account for the largest growth in deficit spending going forward. But the TP and the right in general want it repealed to return to a "clean slate." They want continued tax cuts whereby it is clear that the only ones to benefit are corporations. And then there is the fact that aggregate business profits in the first 3 quarters of 2010 were the highest in the 60 year recording history ($1.6 trillion).
Spending cuts mean job losses, which means the TP and republican solution to unemployment is more unemployment. This coupled with spending cuts for unemployment benefits will put not just young people in the streets but all ages of working people. What will this accomplish? In the long run, the TP may get their wish for a "clean slate" on which to build their pure free market vision, but as J M Keynes said, " in the long run we are all dead."
Mike - your comment on the tea party isn't really relevant to the article, but I'll try to address it nonetheless.

You misunderstand the tea party movement probably because you have listened to others who have described it, rather than finding out for yourself. The traditional media is very hostile to the tea party movement and for that reason you should not rely on it in forming your opinion, since what it says about the tea party movement is not true. When the traditional media looks at the tea party, it typically describes individual members on the fringe and claims that the entire movement is in agreement with, and stands for, the causes that these fringe people believe in. It is an attempt to claim that the movement is extremist and not worthy of serious consideration. However, I will tell you what the movement is about and you can make up your mind about it.

Here is what the tea party movement is about: government spending. The people in the tea party movement believe that too much government spending is the most important issue facing our country today. Why? Among other things, because our government is borrowing one out of every three dollars it spends. The interest on the deficit costs the government about $200 billion a year. That's a relatively low number. But, the reason it is low is that interest rates are low because of the recession. If interest rates go back to historic levels, then the interest payment could easily go up to a trillion dollars a year or more - exceeding all other obligations of our government other than social security. Right now our government is adding over a trillion dollars a year to the deficit - so that interest payments go up by 8 - 10% a year.

In response to the problem, President Obama said to wait until the Deficit Commission completed its work. Well, it has and none of what it said made any difference. The deficit is going up day by day, month by month, year by year.

The rate of borrowing by our government is unsustainable - no amount of taxes or growth will allow it to continue. It's a national security issue since we much of the deficit is funded by China, our world competitor, which is manipulating its currency to change the rules of the game in its favor. Our government can't do anything about that because to do so could lead to China to stop loaning money, which would be a disaster, since no one else has enough money or would be willing to loan it, since they know that our rate of borrowing will ultimately lead to the collapse of the currency. making the borrowed dollars worthless.

The relationship between our government and China is roughly akin to that of junkie and pusher - our government needs China to lend money, and China is happy to do so since with every dollars it loans our government becomes more weak and China gets stronger.

Our huge rate of borrowing is even threatening the role of the dollar as the word reserve currency. Being the reserve currency is a tremendous advantage to United States citizens for reasons that I will not go into here, but this will be lost if the rate of borrowing goes on for much longer. China knows this and does whatever it can to hurt the dollar, even though to do so threatens the dollars China holds. However, China understands this and has made the determination that it is worth it, because it weakens us, its prime world competitor, and it can make up its losses at some future date.

Even with China loaning money to our government the rate of of borrowing is unsustainable - I know it, Obama knows it, the Republicans know it, the Democrats know it, China knows it. However, the public doesn't quite understand it, because the traditional media thinks that if this becomes common knowledge it will make the Democrats look bad, and the traditional media by and large wants the Democrats to win elections and be in charge. That's why it advocates simple solutions like taxing the rich even though it knows that that will not come close to solving the problem.

People in the tea party believe that the only way to address the issue is by taking immediate steps to decrease government spending, and get the deficit under control. People in the tea party movement understand that this will affect people dependent on government. However, they also understand that failure to address this issue will result in the government being forced to decrease spending anyway, since at some point, the worst point most likely, China will stop lending us money, as will the rest of the world. When that happens our government will be forced to cut spending, but by that it will be much harder since the currency will be ruined, and so much money will be owed that it will be impossible to pay it back. People in the tea party movement believe it is better to address government spending now, rather than at some later time when it will be much more difficult, and the suffering will be much worse.

Do Bush and the Republicans share some of the blame for the current situation? Yes, of course. what? Does that mean that the problem doesn't have to be addressed? And, the rate of spending under President Obama dwarfs what was incurred under prior administrations. In other words, the day of reckoning is coming much faster under President Obama than it need have been if our government had made this more of a priority.

Are most tea party members on the right of the political spectrum, with all that this implies? Yes, but that's because Republicans have traditionally been more concerned than Democrats with government spending. However, people in the tea party movement do not entirely trust the Republican party, since the Republicans failed miserably at controlling spending when they were in charge under President Bush. But between Democrats and Republicans, people in the tea party believe that Republicans are more likely to take this issue seriously than Democrats. But, people in the tea party movement also understand that the issue is not a right-left problem, since all Americans will suffer if it is not addressed.

Also, the political bias of most tea party members means that they see the solution in less government spending, as opposed to raising taxes. But, all of the people in the movement I have spoken to or heard from have open minds, and would listen to any proposal that would help solve the problem. And, although the traditional media has tried to portray the movement as being closed to all those but white conservatives, this isn't
true - anyone can join, and everyone is welcomed. The tea party is a grass roots movement where people have come together to address this issue. This infuriates the traditional media, which paints the tea party movement as something that it isn't. Ironically, it has made the movement far stronger than it otherwise would have been, proving once again that publicity, even negative publicity, can be a good thing.

Finally, the people in the the tea party movement are not in agreement on the solution to the problem. Part of this is their fear that if they say something about reducing governmental entitlements that the traditional media will exaggerate it in an attempt to prove that the tea party movement doesn't care about poor people or people with health problems. But, in the long run people in the tea party movement understand that failure to address these issues will result in those less fortunate members of society suffering much much more than if the problem is addressed now. This is also one of the reasons that the issue is not addressed by our government, since the traditional media is ready to pounce on anyone who makes a suggestion that benefits should be reduced. This tyranny of the media is another reason why there is much hostility between the traditional media and the tea party movement.

I hope that this clears up any misunderstanding you have about the tea party. As I said, you should find out for yourself, rather than relying on the traditional media to describe what the movement is about. Good luck!

P.S. Despite what you may have heard, Sarah Palin is NOT the leader of the tea party movement.
The need for a license is perhaps the clue. Governmental control of the economy breeds corruption since the government reserves unto itself the means to employment, which gives lots of power to petty bureaucrats - so the only way to get the license is by paying someone off, or being part of a certain favored class.

Why does an economic system that over and over again is proven to be an utter failure, and cause of misery, persist? In the West the fault lies in the media, since major media has adopted socialism as the ideal economic method, and no amount of proof to the contrary will ever change the minds of these so-called 'journolistas' that it simply doesn't work.

I have no idea whether the economic system in Tunisia and Algeria is based on socialism, but I would bet that there is enormous impediments to business, and where that exists, so does unemployment, and corruption. Simplistic, since what I am saying is applicable only to the West? Not so - what's the alternative? That the Tunisian or Algerian government has to somehow step in and solve the unemployment problem? Dream on!
Across the world, former colonies of Europe are slowly coming to rue the day they gained “independence” and were left to their own devices to “do something with it”.

Africa has returned to barbarity and the Middle East has continued as an enormous unproductive swamp populated by a miserable, immobile and degraded humanity.

It is always “youth” that riots and within that narrow definition, yes, both Europe and Tunisia/Algeria are similar. But that’s where the similarity ends.

Look at any Middle Eastern city and what do you see? People walking around like zombies, villages that haven’t changed for 1000s of years and the signs of old age appearing by age 30, easily by age 40.

Toothless old (50) women tearing their hair out in desperation over “something” are always featured in TV news clips. They still “bake” bread in mud ovens while the lofty but totally empty “Burj Khalifa Tower” sneer at the slaves below that built it and continue to service it, the list is endless and it gets worse the more you probe.

In Egypt, most farmers still obtain water for their fields – as they did during Pharaonic times - by having a donkey or gamoosa go round and round a well hooked up to a water ferris wheel contraption that lifts the water up and deposits it in an "aqueduct". (Segovia, where are you?)

A Kuwaiti friend recently pointed out to me that currently at *least* 95% of the native, Kuwaiti population “works for the government” while the real work gets done by foreigners. (He said even the Soviet Union never achieved that milestone).

Even in “major” cities, tap water is still undrinkable and hardly anything that is saleable in world markets is produced…….anywhere, from Marrakesh to Muscat.

The whole area is a dysfunctional caricature of what a society ought to be. Civic pride doesn’t exist, even as an idea. Many have said the Middle East is still in the “Middle Ages”. Wrong. It’s still in Prehistoric times. It is a mockery of and to humanity.

Comparing it in any way to Europe cannot be justified in even the remotest of senses. Riots in the Middle East are just beginning.
DON Gotshalk: You felt compelled to make your views heard twice without offering your remedy. Let me guess, solve unemployment with more unemployment by firing all those guv'ment lay-abouts. Is that about the size of it? Since the right has generally conceded, that at best, government can only create the conditions for employment, yet Obama is supposed to have done something more about private sector jobs. Well, how about American business taking that 1.6 trillion profit earned last year and put it to some real use.

And what, exactly, have Palin, Bush and the Teaparty offered?
Warren is correct - take time to speak to the average American with a college degree and you will quickly realize that a B.A. is the educational equivalent of a BM.
The reason for the similarities is simple....the rioters on both continents are all tunisian and algerian, and all belong to the same stone age cult /religion.
"From one point of view, it is heartening that the current riots in Tunisia and Algeria appear devoid of religious motivation" I am glad this is noted, I wish the same could have been done by learned (?) US commenters when they commented on the French youth riots in the suburbs a few years back.
I perceive that Tunisians and Algerians take their education more seriously than the laid back and lazy video game playing American children who think American owes them a degree.
Egypt solves the employment of the highly educated by guaranteeing every college graduate a government job. This bloats bureauocracies with excess personnel, who then have to create programs that impinge on entrepreneurs. We will arrive at that point eventually. In the meantime we coast along with a 50 % high school dropout rate. And them that gets a degree can't read or write.
I always find this writer spot on.
The dangerous similarity is this. Young educated people all see how if you are employed by the government you see them standing around at construction projects, collecting raises every year, education allowances, more and more benfits, early retirment in their 40's and 50's, and health benefits and holidays galore while they and their parents are out of work. They watch a President spend two years creating health care instead of spending his time on creating private sector jobs. That is a recipe for what happened in Tuscon and what could start to happen everywhere. So far the only response from so called progressives is to blame Republicans, tea party, Palin, and Bush.
The dangerous similarity is this. Young educated people all see how if you are employed by the government you see them standing around at construction projects, collecting raises every year, education allowances, more and more benfits, early retirment in their 40's and 50's, and health benefits and holidays galore while they and their parents are out of work. They watch a President spend two years creating health care instead of spending his time on creating private sector jobs. That is a recipe for what happened in Tuscon and what could start to happen everywhere. So far the only response from so called progressives is to blame Republicans, tea party, Palin, and Bush.
Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg also studied computer science in University. I know they couldn't find someone else to employ them when they left.

Did they end up rioting?
The future of Europe? Certainly and I fear the future of the U.S. not so far behind.
you are tolling the bell not only for Europe but for the world I have read your books with interest if not totsl agreement and grieve mightily for my old ignorance. A midwest reader a library haunter who reads every side of issues and tries to get by without TV I never turn it on