Michael Maiello's picture

    Silly, Silly Other Countries

    Every now and then Atrios has a short post that says something like "Silly, Silly, Japan - hostile to immigration."  His point, so much as it needs explanation, is how often we criticize other countries for acting stupidly and making obvious mistakes that only serve to make life worse abroad than it is here at home, where everything is great.

    Donal has done a great job tearing apart the notion that life is so much better in the U.S. that other countries would be foolish to follow our example - some places in the developed world offer better standards of living or, if not that, then at least perks and advantages over our fast aging country.

    What Atrios says about Japan strikes a real chord with me since the biggest advantage in the U.S. is that people want to live here and they have generally been welcomed (though the details of that are, of course, complicated, some have been more welcome than others).  For now, being a good destination for immigrants is the U.S.'s major long-term advantage over China, India, Japan and much of the developing world.  Notice that when wealthy westerners like Jim Rogers decides that the future lies east and they want to raise his kids where the growth is, he doesn't go to Shanghai.  He goes to Singapore.  In effect, he's chosen what seems like a benign dictatorship over one that is decidedly more dangerous to an outspoken capitalist prone to ticking people off.  Likewise, people are not flocking to move their headquarters or their families to Russia where democracy is fragile, organized crime operates with impunity and rights are a gift, not an expectation.

    We silly Americans talk about the corporate tax rate as if that and not the promise of property rights, a functioning legal system and a culture that darn near worships hard work and business success.  It really matters, is that we don't have a national race or religion.  If we found a way to emphasize that, people would do business in the U.S. regardless of the corporate tax rate.  Our key competitive advantage is that a Scientologist can be rich enough to rent several apartments in Manhattan's American Felt Building, including one apartment for their children's clothing (Blind Item!).  This is not possible even in a developed democracy like Germany.

    Yet here we are, publicly hostile to immigration.  In effect we're turning our backs on our competitive advantage and that's too bad.  China has cheaper labor.  That's its advantage.  The U.S. is generally a nicer place to live.  That's our selling point.  When we tell the world "but you can't live here," then cheap labor wins.  Very sad.

    Another silliness that I've heard over the years is that the European welfare system, its pensions, its worker protection laws and universal health care have all cause Europe to have higher unemployment in the U.S.  This argument gets trotted out every time somebody asks why the Europeans have more vacation time or why they're less likely to get laid off or why they get to retire younger: "Oh, you can have all those things," we're told, "but do you want 10% unemployment?"

    Of course, we now have 10% unemployment and none of those things.  Europe has 10% unemployment and all of those things.  So who gets the better deal?  I've heard so many people over the years say "you don't want to be like Europe, do you?"  I've been to Paris twice, to Ireland for a long stay, to Berlin and Munich in Germany and to Crete and Athens in Greece.  I'm going to Barcelona for the first time this year.  I've never seen anything in Europe except for one Paris purse snatching that made me think being Europe would be all that bad.  As I said above, I do prefer the culture of individual rights that exists in the U.S. and that's something we might want to emphasize is available to Europeans or anyone in the world, who would like to come to the U.S.

    Awhile back, President Obama made a smart remark about exceptionalism - every country believes they have it to one extent or another.  The U.S. has used the concept to justify its actions abroad, especially when it does things that it would not accept from any other country.  The U.S. can invade Panama.  If Venezuela did it, there'd be a problem.

    Well, I suggest that exceptionalism can mean a lot of things besides being just a word for "Yes, it's a total double standard but we're going to mine your harbor anyway."  Every country has an exceptional quality.  With China its cheap labor and a command economy which lets them do things that wouldn't be possible in the U.S. (like building big empty ghost cities to keep GDP up) and with Japan it's a fully developed export economy centered around technology, while with India its cheap high value labor and an aspiration culture and in the U.S. its all about quality of life, which is a combination of both enforceable rights and creature comforts.

    We're very quick to tell other countries that they should be more open to immigration like we are.  We'd be better off just being more open to immigrants and less nasty about.  We should sell America to the next generation of growth bringing immigrants.  We're also very quick to criticize countries in Europe for treating their citizens too well.  But now that it's been proven that you can have 10% unemployment with none of the benefits, maybe we should look inward and try to make life here a little nicer than it is.  It will only entice more people to come and that will help keep us ahead of our cheap labor competition.



    Great topic, Destor.  I think I know why you said it, but you might want to explain this more fully: 

    "It will only entice more people to come and that will help keep us ahead of our cheap labor competition."  I'm guessing you don't mean they should be welcomed to become cheap labor...

    Also, the new exclamation about Europe is: "See, now thy're paying for all those good things they offered their citizens!" as the governments institute austerity measures.

    Oh- I thought this would knock you out re: Progress on Wall Street: http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2011/01/michael-hudson-average-stock-held-for.html


    I didn't mean to invite people to come as cheap labor.  I meant that they have cheap labor as their advantage while "we're a nice, welcoming place," is our advantage and we're foolish to scoff at our own advantage.  I would rather be a country that is a nice, welcoming place than a country that is a labor ghetto.

    As for Europe paying for it now... I wish people wouldn't generalize.  Which Europe?  France and Germany have all manner of social benefits available to their people, and all manner of worker rights and their economies are quite a bit stronger than many others around the world.  Some countries, like Greece, Italy, Portugal, Ireland and Spain are in cyclical trouble but their big problem is that because of their euro ties, they can't use monetary policy to ease the pain.  This has happened to dollar pegged countries in Latin America over the years but you notice that the so-called PIIGS are faring far better than the basket cases of South America's past.

    Yes; Europe is treated as A Nation now, probably due to the switch to Euros.

    Aren't you making the case for immigrants as taxpaying citizens, also?  Not to mention probably good neighbors, though that's not always seen as an economic plus, which I think why you want to extend the invitation, and a good one, from what I read.   ;o)

    Speaking of Latin America, I found the signals being sent by the new "leftist" president of Brazil to be quite interesting, see

    Rousseff Pledges to Guard Against Inflation in Brazil and

    Rousseff Passes First Fiscal Test as Brazil Lawmakers Curb Wage Increase and

    Taking Brazil's helm, Rousseff nods to Wall Street.

    Sounds like he's following in the footsteps of Da Silva, a guy who entered office with a left leaning reputation but soon turned out to be the Tony Blair/Bill Clinton/Barack Obama type.  All of these people apparently share notes.

    He's actually a she, Dilma is...   ;o)   Think Fred:  "Wiiiiiiiiilllllllmaaaaa!"


    I'm an ignoramous sometimes.  Though at first I thought you were telling me Da Silva was a woman and I was so going to Wikipedia your butt!  But even there you caused enough doubt in my mind that I rushed to Wikipedia, cursing my provincialism along the way.

    LOL!  Good thing you're cute and generous to a fault, then!  I just happened to read a piece with her photo, and saying she is the first-ever Prez of Brazil.  Hope she's a good 'un.

    Da Silva is only a cross-dresser, and only at parties, like Rudy G.  You have me laughing, D.

    Good on you destor for your reaction. I was just going to leave the mistake lay unremarked. But I will tell ya now, it told me that you hadn't read much on her because most of the articles have a picture precisely because of the gender history. Good for you for responding like you have, you have restored my faith in you.

    Also a suggestion: mho, one can't dismiss the "still a lefty" label so easily; she speaks of inflation as most devastating to the poor . And in Latin America, they cetainly have past examples of that. I don't think one can easily remove the "global" from the "what is to be done about all of this" anymore. Not to mention many of the uber wealthy are global.

    AA, as to your statement:  "Also a suggestion: mho, one can't dismiss the "still a lefty" label so easily; she speaks of inflation as most devastating to the poor", I wonder what you're thinking .




    I could go on, but googling "inflation, effects on the poor" will serve you better than enumerating here.

    I was not arguing for or against what she said. I was pointing it out:

    Dilma Rousseff Is Sworn as Brazil's New President

    During the inauguration, Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president, said that the “government’s most dogged fight will be to end extreme poverty and create opportunities for all," adding that she “will not rest while there are Brazilians without food on the table, while there are disheartened families living in the streets, while there are poor children left to their fate”


    “It is through growth associated with strong social programs that we will overcome income inequality and achieve regional development,” she said.

    For that reason she repeated the need to “preserve economic stability as an absolute value” and said that to do so, inflation must be kept under control.

    “We will not allow under any hypothesis that this plague (inflation) again leave our economic fabric in tatters and punish our poorest families,” she said.



    You can find a lot more in business news if you google it including Rousseff specifically, rather than looking to general theory.

    I get that she's basically a leftist, Just wondered where you thought her thinking that inflation impacts the poor disproportionately makes her so.

    Thanks artappraiser.  I can't read everything and still read what I want so I do have to be careful about mouthing off.  Happy to admit I'm wrong when I am, though! 

    Our key competitive advantage is that a Scientologist can be rich enough to rent several apartments in Manhattan's American Felt Building, including one apartment for their children's clothing (Blind Item!).  This is not possible even in a developed democracy like Germany.

    Seems to me many in the liberal blogosphere would like to see us get rid of that "competitive advantage" by instituting a 90% top income tax rate.

     Edit to add: I wonder what message those who want that take away from a movie like "Slumdog Millionaire." Obama does get that: I think people understand in America, at least, people don't resent the rich; they want to be rich. And that's good--Obama @ G-20 press conference, April, 2009.

    Ah, but even if we taxed their top income at 90% we would do it only because of their income.  We would still allow them their religious beliefs, no matter how strange.  They would probably also still rent multiple floors in the American Felt Building, if only because those tax rates would cause deflation in the prices of luxury goods.

    I think people forget that even when marginal tax rates were very high, people still lived in opulence.  The opulence just cost a lot less.  In fact, many rich people would have better lifestyles if the prices of the things they wanted were inflated by demand from people even richer than themselves.  Higher tax rates would create more equality within the top 10% of wealth holders (whereas currently being in the top 1 or 2% puts you leagues and leagues ahead of some one in the top 7th percentile).

    Well, I will just point out that "socialist" Canada sees some benefit in keeping the top income tax rate at 29%  and taxing  half of cap gains as ordinary income and not taxing the other half, and they tax estates like that, too.

    But I don't think we have to go as low as they do. I didn't see a single example of a uber rich person seriously complaining about Bill Cllinton's top rates. Genghis did a post once about straight out asking the uber rich to agree to 50% a while until things were better, he thought most of them would pay it without much complaint or fear, so do I. But I also think you would see flight and evasion at 90%, sure as shooting, every country that does it sees it, diminishing returns. And I think just talking about it feeds a class war scenario rather than ameliorating one, works against "we are all in this together" and looks like a robin hood view of things to a lot of working class people who don't cotton to such. Keep asking for it, I think you're insuring the left remains a small minority in this country. Obama's statement that I quoted got it right.

    Tagline for Ordos: "We built it; they didn't come."

    This was striking.  Do our cities do anything other than abstract anymore.  Other than bulls and bears wrestling, that is.


    The rest of the photos are striking as well.  The sheer scale of things in China is mind-boggling but if demographics are destiny, what happens if / when the population crashes as a result of the one-child policy and subsequent gynocide?  Same for India where female fetuses are aborted at an alarming rate.  

    Last forecast I saw, world population would peak at around 9 billion in a couple of decades.  That is assuming no global catastrophe before then.  2012 ;:-) 

    Counting on an endless supply of cheap labor either immigrating or being born to prop up our rapacious job- and consumer-based economy does not sound like a good plan to me.

    Thanks, destor.  You make me think.



    *That is the name of my folder I keep assaults on women in.  

    When I was looking at the interviews Noam Chomsky had up on his website the other day (pre-emptive: no one should presume from the fact that I did that that I am a Chomsky fan, as I'm really not Laughing,) there was something he said about China that suggests something quite different about the ghost city theme regarding China. I don't know if he was right, but I do suspect it's not a simple case where everyone is free to fill up that new city or not, that "the masses" have a lot of choice in the matter. It's where he's comparing China and India development models in this November 19 interview:

    KB: You've discussed Hart-Landsberg and Ching Kwan Lee's work, which highlight the tenuousness of China's development model, horrible conditions for workers, labor protests, feelings of abandonment and betrayal. And environmentally?

    NC: It's pretty horrible, and the environmental catastrophes are perfectly real. But on the other hand, I was in Beijing and Xi'an, but I drove around all over Beijing, because the places I was going to were all over the place. You just don't see the poverty that you see in every American city. Either they've hidden it somewhere, or they've tossed it in the countryside. On the other hand, it's extremely authoritarian. There's a lot of optimism and exuberance, and people excited about it and so on. When we went through one place in the center of town, I asked the driver - who happened to be pretty critical and frank -- "Where do people live?" He explained that there are companies that build housing so there's big skyscrapers for workers. I don't know what they're like inside, but they don't look too bad from outside. We went through some big downtown area, and he told us that all the people there were going to be removed and sent out to the countryside so they can make the area more business-oriented. So I said, "Well, what happens to the people in the countryside?" They said they're building a metro which will go out there and I asked if they were really going to do it, and he said they probably will; they usually do these things. Then I asked a question, knowing it was ridiculous but I wanted to hear what they'd say: "Do people have any say in this?" They looked at me as if they didn't understand the question. The tacit assumption seemed to be: "It's none of their business; they're told, 'You're going to move to the countryside.'"

    It reminded me of an incident in India, when I was there before the so-called "reforms," in '72. I was a guest of the government, being ferried around all over the place. Every day we were in Delhi, we went through Connaught Square and every day it was completely full of homeless people; tens of thousands of people in tents. One morning I drove through and there was nobody there. So I asked what happened, and they said, the Asia Fair is coming and they want to purify the city so they're gone. So I said, "What happened to them?" They sent in trucks, took them out to the desert somewhere and dumped them there. No metro or anything.

    Maybe the central planners just decide sometimes they've done a boo boo, changed their mind and decided no one should live there. As destor implies, they might often just do things because they're a project that creates economic activity and think better of it later. As an eventual demolition will create economic activity, too.

    They sent in trucks, took them out to the desert somewhere and dumped them there. No metro or anything.

    And that pretty much encapsulates why when I hear that some business is relocating to China I think 'don't let the door hit you on your way out'.  Good riddance to the fools who no only do not appreciate the cultural framework that made their success possible but actively undermine it.

    I had the same thought that a lot of what of goes on in China is busy work for otherwise idle hands and ego trips for the planners  but then so were some of the wonders that remain from their ancient world: the Great Wall, Forbidden City and that terra cotta army....

    Just a nitpick about your reply because the nuance it concerns might be of interest to some. The quote you chose is what he saw in India. There he is actually comparing the different kinds of forced relocation in India and China ,and within the context of that section of the interview, they are talking about the downsides and upsides of two very different models. He is saying India just sweeps the poor away and expects them to fend for themselves, while China just tries the authoritarian control of everything everyone does in efforts to raise a lot more boats. I give him chops for being honest about the downsides of Chinese model, and also in saying that while he noticed the lack of poverty in China's cities (as opposed to India, where he considers the poverty situation pretty horrific,) he had no proof that they weren't sweeping their poor off to the country as well because he didn't see the countryside. Overall, the point is that the Chinese don't do it just to the poor, but with the average working Joe, and furthermore, the average working Joe accepts the situation as a norm he can't fight, that "they" (the government) are going to do what they are going to do and you just deal with it. Reminded me in the way of the emporer being a god, an attitude that your fate is in the government's hands. If they say you're no longer going to live next to work but you're going to become a long distance commuter from a train in the country, it's "god's will."

    Never was much good at nuance :)   I re-read your comments a couple of times and am probably still missing it.  

    Is Chomsky musing over which is preferable: 1) to relocate people wholesale based on demography or geography; as well as,  2) overt versus anonymous authority.  

    If so, Chomsky is musing over an abstract value judgement with insufficient information since he does not know the fate of the Chinese who were relocated.  My personal preference in the abstract is to abhor both choices.  God willing, may I never have to make such a choice in reality.

    I had given up thinking about this consciously but my sub-conscious must have worked on it overnight because I woke up thinking about it -- and Siddharta, too, for some strange reason.  I may have to wait another couple of nights to figure out where the Buddha stuff came from. :)

    I think the main difference he is pointing out is that one is sweeping one's problems under a rug, out of site out of mind (India,) and the other is quite the opposite: rigorous attempts at social engineering in order to deal with problems (China.)

    Sorry.  Still not seeing that.  In fact, the opposite.  Isn't relocating Chinese people to an unidentified location in 'the country' more like sweeping them under the rug than letting them live and quite literally die in the streets of India as they do and did just a couple of decades ago.  The still very much alive caste system probably makes that level of visible human suffering even easier for a Hindi to accept than our very own domestic Calvinists. 

    It must have been thinking about the caste system that caused my thoughts to stray to Siddharta.  I must remember to write those thoughts down.

    Well I admit I was also thinking about what cultural differences have to do with it, as that is one of my favorite things, and there I get confused as well. Especially confusing in that the fatalism explained by the Chinese taxi driver can be seen in acceptance of your fate in a caste system. I'm not sure they are the same thing, that's what's confusing. But I don't have a problem seeing a stark difference in intent like you do, I see it as very stark, as two opposite approaches intersecting as they pass each other.

    Oddly enough, Giuliani did something similar in New York City during the 90s.  He shut down a bunch of homeless shelters and mental hospitals.  Then a cold winter hit.  Those who got out could.  Those whould didn't died.  But only a coroner would no for sure why there was this miracle of "so few homeless on the streets."  Everyone else somehow imagined that Giuliani straightened them out with tough love and they went and became accountants.

    I forgot to add that my paraphrase of the Field of Dreams quote was meant as humor. I always thought it was a dumb quote.


    I laughed!

    The flip side of your discussion, Destor, is whether or not some Americans should act promptly to emigrate to other countries.

    I'm quite serious about this. Reasonably educated, young-to-middle-aged families (and individuals) might consider it as their future prospects for employment, healthcare, education and quality of life might be greatly enhanced, given the counter-intuitive direction of our own country.

     I flirted with emigrating to the UK in the late 60's/ early 70's when it would have been easy, but the idea made me feel "disloyal." Five years ago I actually tried, and failed to emigrate to Canada. Because, although I scored really well on their viability test, I lost huge numbers of points for age (you get minus points for every year of age over 45) and that ultimately disqualified me -- even though at the time I could prove financial independence.

    Their policy makes sense, of course -- why should they welcome a demographic that will more predictably put a strain on their public health system?

    But for a family facing uncertain employment security, rising health care costs and ruinous tuition? I'd at least think about it.

    It's a good point.  And there are great places to go.  Vancouver looks nice.  So do most of Europe's great cities.  But again, we're more open to receiving than the world is.  Most of the people I know who have lived and worked abroad have done it at the service of American-based multinationals.  Which brings up another interesting question -- how willing are you to move at the behest of your employer?

    Because it's one thing to pick the place where you think you can best make a living and serve your family (ie, how I picked New York) but another to have your employer put you where they want (I actually took a risk by refusing an assignment in Houston -- nothing against Houston, but I didn't want to live there.)

    Anyway, you're probably right that people should, when possible, think outside of their own countries the way they think outside of their own towns and states but hopefully I'm right that a relaxed immigration policy will be stimulative enough that people will be able to choose where to live rather than live where there's work.

    Destor -- you do have a good point about us being (or having been in the past) more generally hospitable, at least to professionals -- it actually aggravated me no end that every single editor I worked for in NY (whether at various "lifestyle" magazines -- where every editor was a British woman -- or, at the NYT, where my editor was a hard-working, elegant woman from Spain).

    But, in today's world? If one opts to stay in America, then as unemployment rises, people will probably have to "go where the work is" as compared to making the choice you made (and that I made) to live in a desirable place (according to personal preferences) and find work, there. Work in the future may not be there -- more is the pity. Rather, with corporations in charge, more and more Americans will have to revert to the choices professional wage earners made in the 50's and early 60's -- not for nothing was IBM tagged as "I've Been Moved." 

    One more attractive aspect of Americans emigrating elsewhere -- I've spent a lot of time, over a number of years, in Canada, and once, nine months in one go (I got a visa extension). And I cannot tell you how relieving it was to live in a place where the mainstream of political views was what would be called, here, FAR LEFT. A bonus to one's peace of mind and overall stress level. So. Consider goingt north, if not west, east if not south. Or south. 

    I feel quite different from you. I think one thing I have always loved about NYC (and there are many things I bitch about, like every New Yorker) is that you end up working closely with and for people from other countries and many different parts of this country. I can't imagine ever being irked about it, I think of it as a big plus. I can't imagine still being in Milwaukee (from whence I came) and working with or for people coming from a similar background and culture all of my life--I think what a snore it would have been. It's one of the few things worth all the misery of lower living standards due to the particularities of NYC. Co-workers and bosses from different countries, cultures and yes, classes, are some of the main things that makes working for someone else more than just bearable but incredibly stimulating. I doesn't matter if they are snotty or bitchy or bastards, they are all interesting and cause work life to be more interesting..I am continually reminded by the misery of friends and a brother who are still in Milwaukee land, they often don't see the bored by life thing is very simply a symptom of their environment, one which allows them things like less traffic, nicer housing arrangements and empty movie theaters without lines, but not much else. The cultural activities of NYC are much overrated as to stimulation--it's the people, it's the interaction with people from all over the world.

    Well said and true for me also.

    AA: I do agree with you that it is the people who count, wherever. So, perhaps you misunderstood what I meant because I did not say it clearly enough.

    Yes,  the people I met in Canada tended to be of a leftist persuasion, politically -- which, yes, I did enjoy, a lot. But that fact was hardly an indicator of bland, homogeneous national or ethnic background; on the contrary, in Toronto and in Montreal I met people from absolutely everywhere of every conceivable ethnicity; and, even in the two small villages in which I lived, real diversity pertained in terms of country of origin, education and professional experience. Having lived in Manhattan and in San Francisco, etc. I personally found Canada to be just as sophisticated and worldly, if not more so. 

    This made sense to me, considering I recently moved to Mexico.  The passage of Destor's blog selling a quality of life to immigrants seemed a bit off to me when I read it. I think most of the people from Central America moving north to the US come out of economic need, but if given the choice of where they would prefer to live, most would choose their home countries.  The interesting thing here in Mexico, is that the quality of life, for an American with an income a fraction of the average American can be quite nice, and certainly better than one can achieve on the same income in the US.  While Mexico exists just a tad below the top tier of the world's countries in terms of human development, the actual quality of life does not seem disproportionate to that of the US for Mexico's growing middle class.  BTW, membership in Mexico's national health plan costs about $300/year for a nationalized foreigner.  

    That is fascinating.  I don't mean to downplay need, by the way.  But the U.S. at least also sold a shot at meeting those needs, and a shot at being treated decently while doing it.  Without that, people would have kept right on moving north into Canada.  Similarly with somebody emigrating from Asia to the U.S. in search of a technology job.  They see need but also reasonable opportunity and decent living.  I don't think they would even want to fulfill their needs here if the mindless bigots got their way.  And who would suffer for it?  America, more than people who will find another place to go if we let the quality of life here deteriorate further.

    See, we already lost you!

    Miguel: You are a case in point of not waiting to emigrate until age is a pivotal, negative factor -- or is Mexico more lenient about age? In any case, sincere congratulations. More details about Mexico's requirements, when you have time?

    The requirements are different for those wanting to work here, as in being employed, than for just living here.  Mexico is quite happpy to have foreigners of any age reside here as long as they can  demonstrate an income.  I work in the arts, which is much easier.  You can work here in that capacity and peddle your work out of country with no interference by the state.  The only real requirement for me to live, (and work) here is to show a minimum income into your bank acct. of $1500 US/ month over three consecutive months.

    Hola. Strong incentive to become serious about becoming fluent in Spanish. These requirements allow you to be there year-round? Rather than just for six months during a 12-month period?

    I can stay here as long as I like, without having to cross a border.  btw, the cost to get my papers to do this cost a little less than $200 US, and half of that was because I payed an agent to walk the papers through immigration.

    According to those who study reverse immigration, any advantage the US may have had at one time over China and India is is on the wane, to the point where the US is experiencing brain drain for the first time in its history. Disenchantment with the USA's lack of opportunities for career advancement, xenophobia, Congressional stupidity and citizenship hassles combined with widening economic and career opportunities, greater purchasing power and housing incentives in their native countries has probably caused tens of thousands of highly skilled, technically innovative and US educated immigrants to leave.

    Take a look at this chart that represents patent applications filed by foreign nationals in the US and the companies they work for:

    Beyond intellectual contributions, Chinese and Indian immigrants have been key entrepreneurial drivers in the US. According to another survey we conducted, one-quarter of all technology companies in the US have at least one founder who is a Chinese or Indian immigrant. The concentration is even heavier in certain key industries such as semiconductors and enterprise software. Based on this data, we calculated that in 2005, immigrant-founded tech companies generated $52 billion in revenue nationwide and employed 450,000 workers. This revenue total bridges multiple multi-billion dollar sectors including semiconductors, Internet, software and networking.

    Besides, Destor. Not everyone wants to live in the country where death by firearm is in the top 15 leading causes of death. It's worse if you're black or Hispanic where the rate slides to 4th and 5th cause of death, respectively, and you're not in the health care priviledged class, to boot.

    For children aged five to fourteen, the homicide rate from firearms is seventeen times higher in the United States than in any other industrialized nation. [pp.20-21]

    I'm not hating on America, just trying to look at it from a different perspective. I wonder if we are experiencing another "end of history" moment?

    I think we're in agreement here.  The U.S. is making stupid choices that are undermining its key strength, which is the desirability of living here.  So I'm not surprised by your evidence that this is on the wane.  Say you were a highly desirable emigrant and could choose between Toronto and New York.  Both great cities.  But in one you get single payer health care and in the other you're on your own.  I could definitely see people choosing either way.

    We have to make a more compelling America or you're right, we lose this.

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