European Union

Mine Eyes Have Seen a Different France Than Paul Krugman


In a column a few days back making the argument that Europe's economy "bears little resemblance" to U.S. caricatures of "a stagnant economy in which high taxes and generous social benefits have undermined incentives, stalling growth and innovation," Paul Krugman plays the eyeball card:

Actually, Europe's economic success should be obvious even without statistics. For those Americans who have visited Paris: did it look poor and backward? What about Frankfurt or London? You should always bear in mind that when the question is which to believe — official economic statistics or your own lying eyes — the eyes have it.

Hey, I can play that game! I was in France as recently as last week, and took a look around as well. Here's what I saw:

Booming economy

* Lots of beautiful old buildings, stylish people, elegantly designed bridges, and fancy restaurants offering delicious food!
* Craploads of ugly graffiti, including on some of the aforementioned beautiful old buildings.
* Lots of drunk homeless people, including in the front hallway of the beautiful old building where I stayed.
* Shops closed, often by government diktat, precisely when you might want to frequent them–during lunchtime, say; or a dinner-only restaurant at 6:59 p.m.
* Routine splotches of dogshit on the sidewalks (though in fairness, the trendlines are going in the right direction on this one).
* Clotheslines galore, since very few people seem to


own dryers.
* Clear majorities among the people I know whose salaries are paid by the state.
* Permanent double-digit unemployment among young people who wish to find work.
* Salaries so low that a full-time teacher I know who commutes from Switzerland makes less in Euros than the Swiss minimum wage.
* Did I mention that French people are considered (according to one source) as "the Mexicans of Switzerland," soaking up all the menial jobs, being blamed for corroding the culture, and otherwise treated like Polish plumbers?
* Little to zero in detectable entrepreneurial activity or spirit.

No, France is not "poor and backward," though none but those constructed from straw would ever say so. Nor does anybody seriously say, as Krugman contends, that "European-style social democracy should be an utter disaster." But one thing you can count on for sure: Neither Krugman nor the Euro-bashers he's shadowboxing here are likely to point out that fully half of the world's privatization in the 1990s took place in…Western Europe! Thanks in part to the very "dogma" that Krugman aims to vanquish. Oh well.

NEXT: But They Did Confiscate His Water Bottle

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  1. Something else Matt saw in France last week: a health care system that he prefers to the one in the U.S! Operated by “government diktat”!

    1. A healthcare system that killed 10,000 people one hot August.

    2. Wow! A libertarian thinks the current French health care system > current U.S. health care system?

      How the fuck can that be?

      Oh, wait. A libertarian might, with good reason, believe that market health care > French health care > U.S. health care.
      But Vanneman probably knows that.

      1. A French health care system that is heavily subsidized by the US.

        Any comment on the French health care system that does not mention that is moronic.

        1. Socialism is its own hell. France was OK as long as it was relatively homogenous, and we were covering nearly all its defense costs, but with the Muslims taking over, their marxist utopia is quickly disintegrating. Socailism never works,but it works even worse in a mixed society. Krugman isn’t smart enough to know that.

          1. Actually France pulled out of NATO in the sixties and went its own way on defense.

            They’ve rejoined now but they have the highest levels of defense spending in Europe. It’s probably the only country in Europe capable of projecting force on anything like a world level.

            That said, I have always maintained that puilling out of NATO (and all of our other alphabet soup treaty commitments) would save us a lot of money. But I don’t consider that to be an intrinsicly anti-Euro attitude.

    3. Besides what Citizen Nothing said, I think Vanneman missed Welch’s point about the understandable reasons for the political temptation of socialized medicine.

    4. As I recall, Matt expressed his frustration (his extreme frustration) over the American health care system because private insurance companies repeatedly turned him down! As is their right under the free market system! Sounds like Matt somehow believes he’s, you know, ENTITLED to health care! Like it’s some sort natural right or something! Which it’s totally not!

      1. The closest thing I’ve seen in America to a free market health care system is between drug dealers and users

        1. Thank you.

      2. Jesus Christ, Vanneman. How do you avoid having your face punched on a daily basis?

    5. Man, you folks who misread Welch’s column are pretty annoying.

      It can be more or less summed up as “There are some nice things about the French health care system; here’s what’s nice about it and why people like it; any discussion of health care reform should look at these items and learn something.”

      A paean to socialized medicine it was not.

  2. * Routine splotches of dogshit Krugman on the sidewalks

    As I like to call it.

  3. My cousin knew a guy who said that anecdotal evidence trumps scientifically collected data every time.

    1. Yeah, “Did it look poor and backwards?” is a steaming pile of Krugman as far as evidence goes. There are parts of Lagos, Nigeria that look nicer than parts of my hometown. Doesn’t mean diddly for the overall state of the economy.

    2. Scientifically collected data ain’t what it used to be.

    3. Brian, this the most brilliant comment I’ve ever read on any internet article. It’s now on the little box on my facebook page. Brilliant!

    4. Brian! I looked it up on Wikipedia, and your cousin’s friend is absolutely right.

  4. Europe is like a really good living-history museum. Great fun to visit for a short time, but I’d no more want to live there than in Colonial Williamsburg.

    1. Europe is just Disney land for rich and upper middle class Americans.

      1. I think Disney buying the country outright is probably the best option that Greece has left to it.

      2. A few people do live there too.

        1. And Goofy lives at DisneyWorld. What’s your point?

          1. Semi-joking response to John who said that “Europe is just Disney land for rich Americans”.

            1. Right. We’ve got to have characters (in this case, called Europeans) who live there in order to maintain the illusion.

              1. And we could probably pay ’em more than they’re making now! It’s win-win!

              2. Italy would be a much better place if we could remove most of the Italians.

                1. “…if we could remove most of the Italians.”

                  What if we brought in a bunch of Croats and put them in giant papier-mache Italian heads?

                2. Give it 2-3 generations.

    2. Which is precisely why I decided not to live in a living-museum anymore and moved to the U.S.
      Less fancy old buildings, easier on living things.

    3. I think it would be fun to live in a Colonial Williamsburg house. You have to hide your TV from passers-by, but it has its advantages. Close to a theme-park, water-park, golf courses, etc. Not much for night-life, I have to say. Despite being next to a college.

    4. Citizen Nothing, that’s because you’re an ignorant Amrican… We know your type, we laugh at your type.. Redneck!

      1. “Citizen Nothing, that’s because you’re an ignorant Amrican… We know your type, we laugh at your type.. Redneck!”

        That’s exactly the attitude that low-paid Disney workers have towards tourists who visit the place.

  5. Hey, I’m not at the stale end of the thread for once.

    For an excellent example of the “no entrepreneurial spirit” and the nightmare of French petty bureaucrats to an entrepreneur, read the late chapters of Leslie Caron’s autobiography “Thank Heaven,” in which she details the hideous problems she had renovating some buildings in a small, old French country town into a hotel and resort. Even my wife, a staunch D, was offended.

    1. Si chaque retrait? am?ricain pouvait “r?nover” sa maison en toute libert? et avec son mauvais go?t proverbial, la France ressemblerait aux USA, et Leslie Caron n’aurait aucune raison de venir y finir ces jours. QED.

  6. Actually, Krugman is doing something similar to what most liberals (and perhaps many conservatives) are guilty of, and that’s basing decisions on feelings rather than logic.

    As an example, it’s worse for the environment to recycle cardboard than it is to bury it in the ground and let it decompose. But recycling feels good. See how that works?

    1. are you kidding? conservatives are also 100% about the emotion.

      1. I know that’s how you feel, but would you mind actually showing some logic?

  7. Munger had a good post on this. A pretty decent debunking of the argument.

    Europe: you guys know it’s not a single country, right?

    The latest debate in the blogosphere revolves around comparing the economic performance of the US relative to Europe. This is problematic, as people are not using a common metric or any real data analysis. Krugman has claimed that any superior US performance in growth is only due to increased population.

    Lets take a look at some actual numbers, shall we? These are from the total economy database started by Angus Maddison, and taken over by Groningen University and the Conference Board. I am using the Table for GDP per capita in 1990 US$ (converted at Geary Khamis PPPs).

    In 1980, where this debate seems to start, we can see that all the European countries I’ve chosen were considerably poorer than the US except for Switzerland.

    Below I list Per Capita GDP as a % of US Per Capita GDP for selected European countries in 1980 and 2008:

    Austria 74.06 76.72
    Denmark 81.96 78.82
    France 81.31 72.91
    Greece 48.29 52.33
    Ireland 45.97 90.70
    Italy 70.78 63.70
    Neth 79.15 78.83
    Norway 81.15 93.01
    Portugal 43.30 46.07
    Spain 49.53 55.62
    Sweden 80.40 78.81
    Switz 101.0 79.56
    UK 69.61 76.47
    Germany 66.34 (2008 only)

    As one can see, the European experience is quite varied. Greece, Portugal and Spain have done a little bit better than the US over the period but are still extremely poor in comparison at roughly half of US per capita GDP in 2008.

    France and Italy have done notably worse than the US over the period and are at less than 75% of US per capita income.

    Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden have basically performed about the same as the US over the period and remain at roughly 80% of US per capita income.

    Norway has done quite a bit better than the US over the period and is now above 90% of US per capita income. Ireland has done even better, going from around 50% of US income levels to 90% of the US over this period. The UK has also done better than the US in per capita growth but still has only reached about 3/4s of the US level of per-capita income.

    Germany at re-unification (1989) was at 69% of US levels and has fallen to 66% by 2008.

    So, it’s very misleading to talk about growth or wealth levels in “Europe” as if one number captured the European experience. Italy and France appear to be from different worlds than Norway and Ireland!

    It is also not correct that US growth has been higher only due to population growth. Many European countries, including large ones like France, Germany and Italy have seen their per-capita incomes fall relative to the US since 1980.

    And, while it is true that many European countries have had very similar per capita growth as the US since 1980, these countries generally are quite a bit poorer than the US by this metric at least and thus perhaps should not be too proud of only matching our growth rates (you know, convergence and all that).

    I hate to bring up neoclassical growth theory, but in the steady state of that model, all countries should grow at the same rate (in per capita terms). Differences in institutions or policies only result in permanent differences in income levels in the standard model.

    Finally, big ups to Ireland and Norway for their amazing economic performance over this 1980 – 2008 time period. Ireland I know, changed their economic institutions over this period, but I don’t really know anything about Norway (well, they do have oil, right?)

    1. The link would have been sufficient there, Tolstoy.

    2. I think your analysis was well done. I also believe that people refer to Europe as a whole in the same way that all fifty states here are considered one entity. Comparing economies of each individual state will illustrate the difference in economically strong states to economically weak ones. Texas, California and New York have completely different economic success compared to Mississippi, New Mexico and Idaho.

  8. In socialist France, causality-without-correlation eats you!

    1. No, in France it spreads YOU on a cracker.

  9. You won’t find much Dog poops on the street in the United States because (1) there are many helpful signs asking you nicely to pick up after your dog in the parks (2) your neighbor will hang a “I’ll shoot your owner if you “sh##” in my yard again, Mr. dog” notice on a tree for the neighborhood to see (3) Americans revere dogs as pseudo humen whose animal, nay, human rights are envied by North Koreans, AKA “The Mexicans of China”.

    1. Uh, that’s quite a tangent, Mr. Biden.

  10. I lived in Germany for a year. And Krugman is right. It is not a backward third world country. But unlike Krugman, I acutally knew and know middle class Europeans. And every one of them I know is trying to get a VISA to come here. It sucks living in Germany as a German. And I say that as someone who loves the place. The taxes are outragous. It costs a fortune to do simple things like get a drivers permit.

    One of my good friends over there was a manager of a five star restaurant in a Frankfurt Hotel. She could barely afford a one bedroom appartment and had no car. She got a VISA to come to the US. She now does the same job at a hotel in LA. She has an apartment twice the size, money in the bank and a nice car. Same job but much better standard of living.

    1. Yes, many people compare the US and Europe by looking at GDP rates, longevity, the “arts”, etc. But, one thing that often gets overlooked is overall standard of living, and I define this as the amount of disposable income you have after taxes, the quality of housing/autos, the cost/quality of food, and the general accessibility to technology and life enhancing gadgets (e.g. dishwashers, etc.). IMO the US blows Europe away here…not even close. Europe is a very nice place, but the people are renters, live in tiny tiny apartments, and have virtually no disposable income. It’s a gilded cage; a museum filled with sleepwalkers.

      1. But isn’t that how the left want middle class americans to live? Small apartments, no cars, crushed by high taxes….that seems like a leftist’s dream.

        No wonder they love western Europe.

      2. To the envirofascist, that’s a feature, not a bug.

    2. She now does the same job at a hotel in LA. She has an apartment twice the size, money in the bank and a nice car. Same job but much better standard of living.

      Hmm. Sounds like she has some wealth which should be spread.

    3. John, I have a friend in Germany who said that it cost him $1,000 U.S. to have his car inspected. It was an expensive car, but $1,000? Incredible.

      1. Do keep in mind that the dollar as lost so much value that $1000 doesn’t buy you much in Europe now days.

  11. Who are “The Mexicans of Haiti”?

    1. Aid workers. Nothing ruins a neighborhood than a bunch of snot nosed hipster doogooders.

    2. No one. Haitians sneak across the border to DR to get work. When know one is sneaking into your country, you are at the bottom.

      Mexico has illegal immigration problems on their southern border.

      1. Are you saying that the Belizians are the Mexicans of Mexico?

        Kidding aside, I thought that was due to Mexico being the necessary stepping stone to get to El Norte.

  12. I think Krugman’s dogma pooped on my sidewalk.

    1. This made me laugh out loud. Thank you!

  13. I spent a few months in Rome, and nothing has made me appreciate the US more than my Italian experience. The moment you leave tourist areas and see the real Rome, you realize that it is not preferable to what we have. They own very few items we consider to be necessities. Lower class people in the US can afford cell phones, washer and dryers, dish washers, a car, and a house. In Rome rent and taxes almost suck up a workers entire salary.

  14. No, France is not “poor and backward,” though none but those constructed from straw would ever say so.

    When I first read Krugman’s question, the guy in my head who reads things along with me said, “Are you fucking kidding? Yes,” partly because of some of the things you’ve noted here.

    Little palaces surrounded by ghettoes are in the ghetto. When I went to France, I was shocked by what a hellhole it is. It’s like Arkansas without black people (as we know them).

    That has to be what white people love about it. The place itself is shitty.

  15. The biggest logic error of all in Krugman’s argument is that by using architecture as a proxy for “wealth”, he is allowing Europe to enter the competition with a 2000 year deep bench.

    The visible character of the historic cores of many European cities is the result in some cases of one or two millennia of building and rebuilding under various economic and political systems. The most attractive parts of just about EVERY European city were built under feudal systems, emperors, totalizing monarchies, etc. Is Krugman arguing that we should go back to Caesarism because the tourist sections of Rome are so pretty?

    1. He also lists Frankfurt as an example. There is no beautiful old architecture in Frankfurt. It was all demolished by the British in March of 1945. With the exception of the Alt Opera and the small rebuilt area of old town, the place looks like an American city. But any number of smug, educated people, who have never been to Frankfurt outside the airport, will read that and think, yeah that beautiful German architecture.

      1. With the exception of the Alt Opera and the small rebuilt area of old town, the place looks like an American city.

        That’s actually what I like about Frankfurt.

    2. I think that the “grandest” parts of many european cities were built in the late 19th century – during the great property bubble of that time.

      1. The grandest parts of Paris were. Haussmann basically bulldozed medieval Paris and replaced it with the Paris we know today. He was kind of the Robert Moses of his day. That is why Paris looks so much different than a real medieval city like Prague or Munich (which was rebuilt after the war on its old medieval layout).

        1. Downtown Toulouse was planned by a drunken horse . . . . They followed the horse around and laid down cobblestones whereever the horse stopped to take a shit . . .

          1. It may be apocryphal, but it is said that Eisenhower was once consulted about the design of a college campus. His suggestion was to build it but to not pave any sidewalks or footpaths, just plant grass everywhere. Then wait a year and pave the trails the pedestrians created in the grass. Brilliant, eh?

            1. i know of a couple of Dutch universities that have actually done that recently…

            2. My alma mater, the University of Richmond, did this on several paths while I was there in the 90s.

            3. That’s the story about what happened at Clemson University, but no one is sure if that is true or just a story.

            4. Thats brilliant, very NIE in its approach.

            5. In the late fifties or early sixties, the Commissioner of Parks in Toronto ordered the Dept to put up signs that said “Please Walk on the Grass”, the exact opposite of what signs said in most parts.

              He was very much into the idea that public parks should be enjoyed and that pissant rules took away from that.

              And, yes, he also told the maintence people to put concrete pretty much anywhere that the grass became worn by constant traffic.

              He’s part of the reason that Toronto has such great public parks, even to this day.

          2. They had nothing “tou louse.”

        2. And the reason Paris has those nice wide boulevards is because they wanted to prevent people from barricading the streets like they did in 1848.

          1. And to facilitate the rapid movement of troops.

            1. That’s retreat of troops.

              1. That’s troops moving in a retrograde direction.

    3. Hey Fluffy — Why did you change the cover of De Bello Lemures? Did Penguin send its goons after you?

      1. No, I just wanted to see what would happen with a more “genre” looking cover. Sales increased a bit after the change.

        That’s one of my two new experiments. The other is waiting to see how long it will take Amazon to kick the book out of the History/Ancient Rome section I added as one of the categories.

        1. That just went on my wish list.

    4. I suspect another error is that he went as a tourist and only went to places tourists go. There’s little or nothing worth seeing in the suburbs of Paris, except all the horrible apartment blocks filled with the poor people they keep out of the city itself. So yeah, maybe Paris seems nicer than NYC, but Paris+suburbs is not necessarily nicer than NYC+suburbs (architecture aside).

      1. They make for good (okay, fair) action movies though:

        There’s apparently a sequel coming out and apparently David Belle hasn’t killed/crippled himself yet.

  16. More partisan hackery from Krugman… who’d have thought. Funny, because he himself should know that real criticism of the French economy has nothing to do with claiming it is a backward or poor country. He should know real criticism looks much like what he had to say back in the days before he was a shill:

    There is, however, something special about the way the French political class discusses economics. In no other advanced country is the elite so willing to let fine phrases overrule hard thinking, to reject the lessons of experience in favor of delusions of grandeur.

    To an Anglo-Saxon economist, France’s current problems do not seem particularly mysterious. Jobs in France are like apartments in New York City: Those who provide them are subject to detailed regulation by a government that is very solicitous of their occupants. A French employer must pay his workers well and provide generous benefits, and it is almost as hard to fire those workers as it is to evict a New York tenant. New York’s pro-tenant policies have produced very good deals for some people, but they have also made it very hard for newcomers to find a place to live. France’s policies have produced nice work if you can get it. But many people, especially the young, can’t get it. And, given the generosity of unemployment benefits, many don’t even try.

    But what is mysterious about France is that as far as one can tell, absolutely nobody of consequence accepts the obvious diagnosis. On the contrary, there seems to be an emerging consensus that what France needs is–guess what?–more regulation. Socialist leader Lionel Jospin’s idea of a pro-employment policy is to require employers to pay workers the same money for fewer hours

    But let us not blame French politicians. Their inanities only reflect the broader tone of economic debate in a nation prepared to blame its problems on everything but the obvious causes. … France, they say, is the victim of savage, unrestrained capitalism–although it has the largest government and the smallest private sector of any large advanced country.

    –Paul Krugman, “Unmitigated Gauls”, Slate June 6, 1997.

    1. haha. nothing ends a debate on something krugman said faster than going to the old krugman v. krugman argument generator. the man is an asshole

    2. It’s not fair to pit pod person Krugman against human Krugman.

    3. That’s actually a carefully thought out opinion! The man used to write like a real economist – what the hell happened?

    4. He’s become increasingly politicized over the years, and that’s been to his detriment. Furthermore, his (oft well-justified) distaste for the Bush administration pushed him over the edge.

      My memory of the time doesn’t recall him being much of a Clintonite hack. Thus he spoke his mind and opened his mind. Early Bush years, the same, with the added bite of loathing the government. But now “his people” are the government, and he’s a shiller.

      Same happens to right-wing thinkers, so don’t get all cocky about that. Thinkers are better the further from day-to-day Washington policy they are.

      Same for many Republican pundits, for instance, who were much sharper when they were more in the wilderness in the Clinton years. Before shilling for the Bush administration and being elevated after as all the party had left.

      1. ‘Same happens to right-wing thinkers, so don’t get all cocky about that.’
        That’s actually what scares me – I don’t want to end up like that. I remember reading Kruggman’s critiques of free trade in 4th year econ and actually enjoying the quality of his arguments even though they weren’t in line with my overall views. Then he somehow pulled a Dr Stadler and went from moderate respectable statist to ‘France is pretty! Yay Socialism!’
        It just disturbs me that someone with an impressive mind and a great education can turn into this.

    5. F’ing brilliant. Thanks for the linky.

    6. “France, they say, is the victim of savage, unrestrained capitalism–”

      That’s what they’re saying about USA now.

  17. Oh, and is it just me, or is Alan Vanneman kind of a dick?

    Like, an even bigger dick than me, in just about every post?

    1. It is not just you. I think he is a total dick. And I say that as one of the biggest dicks on this board. You may be a dick, but you at least get into the conversation and make interesting points. Venneman just shows up and makes some dickish comment that almost sounds smart but really doesn’t mean a damn thing when you think about it. And then he never appears again.

      And for some reason the Reason staff all have there mouths firmly puckered and attached to Vennamen’s ass. I really don’t get it.

      1. Because to fuck assholes you need a dick, with some balls.

      2. Seconded, John. Except that I never actually noticed Fluffy being a dick. Do I have Asperger’s?

  18. Expecting an unbiased comment from Krugman about capitalism or the US is pointless. Krugman is one of these educated Leftist ideologues whose politics are like a secular religion; he sees the US as inherently fascist, racist and greedy (i.e. capitalistic) and has some sort of weird-o utopianist views of Europe. How ironic given Europe’s historical treatment of Jews…and continuing problems with anti-semitism.

  19. Maybe we can trade Krugy for some Cheese, beer, wine, pasta, engineering advice, or anything really.

    Hell, maybe we can take up a fund so they will take him?

  20. Did I mention that French people are considered (according to one source) as “the Mexicans of Switzerland,” soaking up all the menial jobs, being blamed for corroding the culture, and otherwise treated like Polish plumbers?

    Pretty soon Americans migrating to Mexico looking for jobs after the dollar goes the way of the Zimbabwe Dollar will be called the “French of Mexico.”

  21. Good old Europe, where the natives don’t have kids any more, the old and beautiful churches are all empty, and the mosques are overflowing with angry young Muslim men preparing to eventually take over.

    It’s going to be sad indeed to see what that poor place is going be like in about forty or fifty years.

    1. Speaking of churches, I was absolutely horrified to see what the Dutch were doing to their old cathedrals. They left the outsides alone, but the insides were (partially) crapped up with new construction and lots of PC multi-culti exhibits. Feh.

      1. How do you do multi-culti in a church?
        Hang Mohammad up there next to Jesus?

  22. Krugman reminds me a lot of Bill Maher here. Maher is another euro-phile who knows about three words of French and can’t stop talking about how oh-so sophisticated it is. While at the same time sneering about all things American. IMO it’s just sour grapes. These Leftists CANNOT comprehend why the american voters consistently reject european style socialism and are just venting their rage and our “stupidity”.

    1. Maher and Krugman have never done anything but visited Europe. They have no idea how average Europeans live. They are basically uncultured dumb hicks.

  23. I’ve been to Ireland, England, Netherlands, France, Germany, Russia, China, Singapore, and Australia. The only place I was remotely interested in living in was western Ireland.

    1. I am with you. Ireland is the only place I have ever been where I could truly have never come home and become and expat.

      1. I was reading a write-up on revitalization of the Irish economy a few years ago. The author explained that one of the advantages that Ireland had in modernization was that, outside Dublin and Belfast, Ireland had been blessedly untouched by the industrial revolution.

        1. Ireland is now screwed though. growth was -11% last year and even the poles and roma are heading home, my folks in australia are paying my uncles mortgage over there.
          most of the Irish growth was a real estate bubble

          1. It’s easy to think that Ireland’s rapid growth was just a real estate bubble, but that is a gross oversimplification. Ireland’s sensible corporate taxation policies and EU membership make it an excellent base of European operations for international firms. The real estate bubble was a symptom of this rapid growth, not its cause.

      2. Yes, the West of Ireland, indeed, a lot of Ireland, would be a pleasant place to live. But don’t overlook the fact that the “European” Irish are infected with a good healthy dose of French/German/UK Labour socialism, and it plays out in the still inferior-to-US standard of living. 50% plus of your paycheck is withheld and unemployment now is at 20%+. Its my dad’s homeland and I love it dearly, but its no less Europe than any other socialized country on the Euro.

        1. It is only a viable option for a rich American to retire to.

    2. What, no love for ‘straylia!?

      Bloody seppo poofta.

      1. I found downtown Sydney to be one of the prettiest cities I have ever been to (along with Singapore). But I haven’t had enough time in country to decide what the place is really like outside the tourists locations.

        1. There are a lot of nice parts. I prefer Melbourne though – quite “cultured” for a bunch of dingos, better laid out, and more reasonable property.

          1. Our subsidiary is in Melbourne. My peers over there tell me they prefer to live in Melbourne as well.

  24. Matt, you totally missed the point: Krugman REALLY wants America to look like France, with double-digit unemployment and clotheslines on every window. Krugman abhors people having progress – the elites always try to find ways of differentiating themselves from the peasants, and one way of doing it is by promoting the stifling of markets, so that only the elites can afford the goods that were luxuries before. They want to bring back the Aristocracy, and how can an Aristcracy flaunt their power if mere peasants can have what they have (like clothes dryers, for instance, or cars)?

    1. Yeah OM, he hates progress. You forgot puppies.

      1. No, he hates OTHER people having progress, MNG. Just that. He certainly does not hate HIS progress . . .

    2. I don’t think it is even that. He is just a hack who goes with the flow. And the cool thing is to think that Europe is where it’s at.

      1. Maybe he believes what he says and is well intentioned, but you disagree with him.

        That happens you know. It doesn’t make anyone look like a hero of justice or anything, but it does happen…

        1. And liberals are always sugar and spice and everything nice. If he really believes what he says, why was he saying something so radically different 10 years ago? And why doesn’t he at least admit his switch and explain it?

          1. Do you believe everything exactly as you believed it 10 years ago?

            How sad…

            1. Of course not. But, if when I contradict myself I actually explain to people how and why my views evolved. Krugman in contrast just consistently contradicts everything he wrote in the 80s and 90s and pretends like all that previous writing never happened.

              I understand that you are a liberal so mindlessly changing opinion to fit the party line doesn’t really need explanation in your world. But, to those of us who think for ourselves, it comes across as hypocrisy.

              1. John, this is a longtime liberal who is currently arguing that calling black people “Negroes” is not a slur, even when it is clearly meant in a negative way (ie, praising a partially black man for not talking like a “Negro”). Just give him enough rope to hang himself.

            2. and maybe he is not well intentioned.

    3. Krugman REALLY wants America to look like France, with double-digit unemployment and clotheslines on every window.

      This is what always bugged me about the “shabby chic” style. Worn old furniture, peeling paint and cracked plaster, clotheslines, one electric fan and open windows to cool your apartment, hearing the entire neighborhood because you have to keep the windows open all the time – these things are fantastic if you get to experience them by choice as a dilettante. They suck if you have to actually live them full-time. Thus the problem with applauding anybody else’s life or society from the outside.

  25. Can I assume that the only reason douchebags like Krugman and Maher don’t just up and move to France is because they’re too addicted to their American fame, and don’t care to start over someplace else?

  26. “I’ve been to Ireland, England, Netherlands, France, Germany, Russia, China, Singapore, and Australia.”

    I screamed and screamed for the FexEx guys to open the box and let me out, but only the kindly old dude in Syndey finally granted my request.

    1. Have you been anywhere beyond North America MNG?

      1. Yes, I’ve been to Ireland, England, Netherlands, France, Germany, Russia, China, Singapore, and Australia…

        1. Somehow, I doubt that.

          1. I see your travels never introduced you to the concept of sarcasm…

            1. You delivery is severely lacking . . . .

              1. Mine has the “r” at the end of “your” though…

                1. I was actually curious if you had the opportunity to travel and wasn’t planning any snarky replies when I made the original post.

                  Not some much interested anymore.

  27. I totally get Krugman’s point. Hyperbolic people on this site alone are often talking about how the Fed=totalitarianism or how every government program is going to kill the economy (remember the Greates Tax Increase of All Time under Clinton?). But if you go to some places around the world with higher taxes and more government intervention, the people are not living in huts or under the iron boot of some dictator. It deflates all the tiresome hyperbole…

    Yes, the Europhilia of many liberals is very, very tiring (I’ll thank the home of Communism and Fascism not to lecture us on anything thank you). But so is over-the-top libertarian hyperbole.

    1. “But if you go to some places around the world with higher taxes and more government intervention, the people are not living in huts or under the iron boot of some dictator.”

      Yet. And of course if the best you can do to defend your policies is to say they are better than living in a hut and being under a dictator, you policies are pretty damned pathetic.

      1. I doubt the best thing they can say about such places is that they do not live in huts or under a dictator. My point is that places exist that violate Libertopia more than here and they don’t seem to =TEH SLAVERY.

        1. It strikes me that on some indicators Europe does better, on some worse. I tend to think the world is like that though, complicated and nuanced…

          1. You think it is so “nuanced” but you don’t seem to know much about it. Has it ever occurred to you that Europe doesn’t live in huts despite its government policies rather than because of them?

            1. But see here’s where this thing becomes a religion.

              Government is bad, ok. So I find a place with a lot of government and that place sucks. See, proof that government is bad!

              OK, but here’s this place with a lot of government and it’s doing OK. Well, that’s DESPITE the government!

              1. You are astoundingly good at projection. It is actually the opposite. People like Krugman look at a place like Europe and see it as at least superficially a nice place, which it is. And see that it has big government and conclude that big government must be great.

                The reality is that Europe is a nice place in spite of big government. It would be a lot better if it didn’t have that huge government. But since you such a religious devotion to government, you can’t really see that.

                1. Yeah John, it’s me with the religious view….

                  1. Since you apparently have no understanding of opportunity cost and think that the lack of third world living standards is an endorsement of European government versus American government, I would say you do. And if it is not religious, your world view is certainly not nuanced or knowledgeable. A think narrow minded and providential would be a better description.

                2. And nice places like Hong Kong with more libertarian friendly policies, they are doing good BECAUSE of their policies, not DESPITE them, right John?

                  1. Considering that Hong Kong, unlike Europe, has no history, no natural resources to speak of and started out as a bunch of refugees living in huts on a rock no one wanted, I would say yes, those polices had something to do with their rise. Europe in contrast has every advantage but seems to do worse than Hong Kong. That definitely says something about their economic policies versus Hong Kong’s.

              2. “Here’s a place where they have lots of government and tbey are doing OK!”

                Compared to what? You would be committing the exact same fallacy you purport to point out with: “Government is bad, ok. So I find a place with a lot of government and that place sucks. See, proof that government is bad!”

                The argument against government stems from moral principles, not from utilitarian or empirical arguments.

                1. I’ve always found arguments based on morals to be weak when debating.
                  The argument against government can certainly be made on utilitarian and empirical arguments. Look to David Friedman’s writings for a dose of that.

          2. I think its good to be rich anywhere.

            I think its better to be a government employee in Europe than here, but we are closing that gap.

            I think the standard of living of the middle-class and lower middle-class in Europe is lower than here.

            I think it sucks to be poor anywhere, but that a poor person has a better chance of becoming un-poor here than in Europe.

            How’s that, nuancy-boy?

            1. From what I’ve read a poor person has a better chance of mobility here, but a poor person probably has it better there in terms of services and such to ameliorate the poverty.

              1. That is not my experience. The Muslim suburbs of Paris are much worse than anything I have ever seen in the US. I am talking worse than New Orleans or East St. Louis bad.

                1. East St. Louis bad

                  Wow. Worse than East St. Louis?

                2. Seriously? Thats insane.

            2. Nuancy-boy.
              I’m TOTALLY using that.

            3. Hi not-so-nuanced Dean,

              I’m Norwegian and let me just tell you that social mobility is higher in Scandinavia (which is for you, “socialist”) than in the USA, so your argument is flat out wrong. It’s not easier to become un-poor in the US. That’s a myth. In fact, being poor in the US is much worse than being poor in most (western) European countries. Being rich is great anywhere. The middle class has (or had) more money and freedom in the US, but then there’s health care…. and college tuition…. All in all, the middle class is probably left with pretty much the same after all necessary expenses.

              1. Citation needed – both on why it’s better in other countries to be poor and that you have higher social mobility in Scandinavia.

              2. The first clue is “Norwegian”. If you have a ton of oil money coming in, well, hells yeah you can have a big fancy welfare state that nobody feels the pain of paying for.

              3. The first clue is “Norwegian”. If you have a ton of oil money coming in, well, hells yeah you can have a big fancy welfare state that nobody feels the pain of paying for.

    2. I remember my first trip to London and the waiter was trying to explain what the 17% VAT was and I wasn’t quite getting it 😉

      1. Heh – I remember a trip I took with my then-girlfriend some years ago: we met some British tourists, and we got to talking about the cost of living in our respective homes, and I was surprised at how similar they were, until the Brits said, “…and then there’s VAT on top of everything.” We said, “What’s VAT?” and their jaws just dropped and they started shouting in a mixture of wonderment, admiration, and despair about the fact that we didn’t have to pay VAT and they did.

        1. Most places in the US have a sales tax. Not sure why you consider that much different than VAT?

    3. Re: MNG,

      But if you go to some places around the world with higher taxes and more government intervention, the people are not living in huts

      Compared to actual people living in huts, NO. Certainly, the Europeans do NOT live in huts.

      Compared to where I lived in Houston, however – THEY live in huts.

      or under the iron boot of some dictator. It deflates all the tiresome hyperbole…

      Indeed, most Europeans live under the boot of hundreds of thousands of dictators – I certainly would not WISH an European bureaucracy on anybody.

      1. “most Europeans live under the boot of hundreds of thousands of dictators”

        Yeah, because Amsterdam 2009=Stalingrad 1944…


        1. Like I said: I do not wish a European bureaucracy on anybody – including you, MNG.

          1. I think you’d suffer most under an Office of Hyperbole…

            1. The Office of Socialist Bullshit is quite impressive in its own way, MNG.

      2. This is one of the most flagrant rah-rah posts to date on H&R.

      3. Nothing is worse than American beurocracy. Have you ever been to the DMV?

        1. I lived in Juneau, Ak for a while and found the DMV a very efficient operation. It was pretty laid back and quick. Now, I’m back in NC and I avoid the DMV as much as possible.

    4. If you don’t like all of the “over-the-top libertarian hyperbole” then stop tuning into Reason……….

    5. MNG, Europe is not only “the home of Communism and Fascism”, it’s also the home of Democracy, the Enlightenment, modern science and all those liberalist (in the real sense of the wordk, not the American sense) ideas that define the American Declaration of independence and the Constitution. America is a European invention. How about this: Read a book, learn something…

      1. America may have its roots in Enlightenment-era European thinking, but that thinking has been discarded long ago within Europe, just like the Europe of the Middle Ages discarded Classical Western democracy in favor of feudalism.

  28. You should always bear in mind that when the question is which to believe ? official economic statistics or your own lying eyes ? the eyes have it.

    Does this mean he’s going to ask Timmay and Bennay some HardQuestions?

  29. what’s the matter with homeless people in europe? i went to norway last year and there were plenty of them.

    btw, oslo struck me as a very backward place – pace the airport and the opera house, it had a very communist feel. the selection of stuff in grocery stores and the way they fix their shop-windows looked like an eastern europe in the eighties.

    1. Yeah, but it’s not Stalingrad 1944!

      1. Would you rather live in Stalingrad 1944 or Gaza?

        1. Weren’t the Russians winning by 1944?

          If so, I would chose Stalingrad.

          1. You could find plenty of free housing in the rubble of the tank factories destroyed late in 1943.

  30. Is it just me, or is MNG kind of a dick?

    Shut the fuck up, MNG.

    1. Careful or he’ll whip out the mom jokes or tell you about his salary.

      1. Lemme tell you about my mother.

        1. Your mom likes to whip it, if you know what I’m sayin’

    2. Sand in the vagina again Warty? Didn’t you say you were buying better fitting panties for that?


        I fucked your wife last night, MNG. Then I murdered her.

        1. Don’t lie, Warty. You know you did it in the opposite order.

      2. That’s funny!

    3. It’s not just you

    4. It’s just you (and all the other Sarah Palin-esque morons in here..)

    5. It’s just you.

  31. Are there as many bums in Paris as there are in San Diego? That place is the bums’ fucking MECCA.

    1. Hardly surprising, considering its nearly perfect climate.

    2. Places with really nice climates tend to be magnets for the homeless. One thing SD has going for it is a near perfect one.

      1. One thing SD has going for it is a near perfect one.

        Speak for yourself. I am a cryophile and I would hate to live in a climate like that.

  32. Is it just me, or is MNG kind of a dick?

    It’s not just you.

    “Kind of” a dick?

  33. The Vanneman/MNG death-match coming SUNDAY!SUNDAY!SUNDAY!
    Come on, guys — ONE of you will walk away with a fortune!

  34. My former wife is French and we are still friends after many years apart. She is a small shop owner who tends to vote socialist but complains bitterly about the costs she has to bear and the difficulties of being a small business owner. Beyond that, it’s clear from what she tells me about her lifestyle and those of her friends and family that while there is more stability from the welfare state France is–no worries about healthcare, etc.–ours are generally better in terms of income, housing, access and availability to higher education, the affordability of consumer goods and a variety of other measures. There are always tradeoffs, for sure, but Krugman’s simplistic comparison was entirely based on his desire to put in place the same system here.

    If you live in NYC, as I do, it’s easy to understand Krugman’s point of view, as it is prevalent among all liberls–the majority here–who with no exaggeration believe as Obama does, that America is not exceptional, frequently overbearing and imperialistic, militaristic, uncaring toward its less-well-off citizens, arrogant and undeserving of any superior status it may claim for itself.

    1. Fuck New York, the city lives in its own alternate reality from the rest of the country.

  35. French per capita income may be 75% of American income, but prices in France are astronomical. A Capuccino at Starbucks is $6 and a Big Mac is $10. French people are very unhappy with their economic situation right now: low wages. very high prices and no jobs. Sarkozy’s approval rating is dreadful. I love Paris but I would not want to be Parisian.

  36. But one thing you can count on for sure: Neither Krugman nor the Euro-bashers he’s shadowboxing here are likely to point out that fully half of the world’s privatization in the 1990s took place in…Western Europe! Thanks in part to the very “dogma” that Krugman aims to vanquish. Oh well.

    To be fair, it was very regulated “privatization”, but still, they did something Krugman considers as yucky and tacky.

    1. The problem with that kind of ‘privatization’ is that the government is merely granting a sanctioned monopoly, outsourcing a govt service (often to cronies) which will still be taxpayer funded, rather than throwing open competition and bowing out completely.

  37. Heaven is where the cooks are Italian, the mechanics are German, the police are British, the lovers are French, and it’s organized by the Swiss.

    Hell is where the cooks are British, the mechanics are French, the police are German, the lovers are Swiss, and it’s organized by the Italians.

    1. …and Krugman is your economic advisor

  38. The Vanneman/MNG death-match

    Staged on a deserted island, I hope.

    1. I was thinking inside a barbed-wire cage, surrounded by monkeys who are pelting them with rotten fruit and feces.

  39. Once again reason supports MassiveFrenchImmigration, but what else can be expected by a magazine funded by CorporateHacks and the Kochtopus.

    1. Plus, they’re all known to be brie-eaters.

  40. I wouldn’t go so far as to call you monkeys Warty, or your arguments as shit, but you’re welcome to such an opinion of yourself…

    1. You’re pressing, dude. Take a deep breath and do better next time.

    2. That’s actually a nice comeback.
      Blind hog, acorn, etc.

  41. I read all the comments, and now I don’t remember what the article was about. You guys are great!! I haven’t had such a good belly laugh in a long time. Keep up the good work.

  42. Shorter MNG,

    If we just adopt European style socialism we are only going to have permanent double digit unemployment and economic stagnation. But it is not like we are going to be a third world country or anything. So what is your bitch?

  43. Is Paul Krugman his discipline’s Stephen Jay Gould? Doing his best to deny the obvious in service to an ideology in place of less passionate inquiry?

    1. Did we somehow attract a creationist to this thread?

      1. NOW we’re GETTING somewhere!

      2. Did we somehow attract a creationist to this thread?


        Gould often defied evolutionary theory because it conflicted with his politics. His epic battles with Edward O Wilson over sociobiology because it conflicted with “social justice” are well documented.

        I think David is saying that Krugman often defies economics because it conflicts with his politics.

  44. As an individual who has lived both in France and more recently, in the Province of Quebec (for 18 years), I can attest to the veracity of what Matt is writing.

    Even beyond he social problems, I would point out that in Quebec, income tax rates hit 50% (25% to the Federal, 25% to the Province) at an income level of about $50,000 Canadian, giving the lie to the idea of free healthcare. In addition, the governments zap you with a 15% Goods and Services tax, meaning not only do you pay tax on stuff you buy, but also services, like car insurance, life insurance etc.

    I would challenge Mr. Krugman to go live in Montreal for a while, in particular if he needs care for a catastrophic illness like cancer.

    1. A subpar expansion pack if there ever was one.

  45. Hmm . . . I visited France recently and was shocked by how dirty and rundown it appeared to be. I was in Nice and Cannes — major tourist areas — and many of the streets were, as the author says, covered with dog feces, which was pretty disgusting. It was in October and the trains were not air-conditioned, even though it was quite hot outside.

    Yes, Mr. Krugman, France, or at least the part I saw, DID look poor and rundown. Sorry.

    1. I went to France in the early 90s. I was visiting a girl so I don’t remember what the county looked like.

  46. I have relatives and friends in France. It’s a country full of genuinely talented and nice people.

    So, I’m not a person given to gratuitous frog-bashing, but:

    * Lots of drunk homeless people, including in the front hallway of the beautiful old building where I stayed.

    I do find it surprising that in spite of the vaunted welfare state many of the same pathologies exist and, in some cases, are worse. And you don’t have to get far beyond the tourist traps to find them.

    I noticed the same thing in Italy, though, to be sure, the Welfare state is not nearly so vaunted there.

    * Routine splotches of dogshit on the sidewalks (though in fairness, the trendlines are going in the right direction on this one).

    This is how I knew I had crossed back over into France walking up the hill from the Casino in Monte Carlo.

    Although one of the towns between Nice and Monaco had a funny sign on their main drag. a drawing of a dog pooping with the familiar circle and line acrosss it. At least some places seem to recognize how truly obnoxious dogshit on the sidewalk is(one of “the trendlines”, I suppose).

    * Clotheslines galore, since very few people seem to own dryers.

    Just doing their bit to fight Global Warming, duh!

    * Clear majorities among the people I know whose salaries are paid by the state.

    Yes, in spite of hordes of people on the city payroll whose job it is to do cleaning, maintenance and landscaping a lot of their public spaces seem to be awfully messy and run-down.

    1. * Clotheslines galore, since very few people seem to own dryers.

      Just doing their bit to fight Global Warming, duh!

      Nope. When i visited in 92 they never used dryers then either. The girl i was visiting with said it was because nuclear power was expensive. No mention of global warming.
      Also I assume they still get most of their power from state owned Nuclear plants. Not much CO2 emissions from those.

      1. Seriously, corning, you need to get your sarcasm detector into the fucking shop for calibration.

        1. The funny thing is, I’ve read articles in the past few months about envirowhackos who want to encourage more use of clotheslines on the grounds that it reduces so-called greenhouse gases.

          A quarter century ago, the “right” thinkers were worried about deforestation. Now, they claim that increasing the use of wood in construction will lower those “greenhouse gases”.

      2. Actually, nuclear power is very cheap. Its the state owned part that hurts.

        1. The operating costs for nuclear power are relatively low, however the capital costs are high.

  47. A buddy of mine spent time in Italy studying and found a job as suit model and also as a technical writer for some gadget (he could write specs in English). He brought back a very nice girl friend who had never been out of Italy. She went into our kitchen and cried when she saw an Amana sitting there stuffed with food like her local store back home. That is no shit. She said it was a daily task to go to the store because no one had a refridgerator where whe came from.

  48. Off topic – get a load of Srhike:

    Re: Shrike,

    For the next 4-6 years – ZERO [inflation]. We’re in a deflationary environment.

    Well – Good luck to you.

    Hey, gang – a Keynesian in our midst, and a very credulous one at that!

    1. We are in a real estate deflationary market…and i expect it to last a year or more longer.

      But yeah inflation is operating as well on US currency, and it will probably get worse and last longer.

      I think the problem with many who comment on this subject (shrike and Old Mexican included) is that they do not understand that both can be operating at the same time.
      Either we have inflation and that is the only influence or we have deflation and that is the only influence.
      In fact they probably are always operating at the same time to some minor extent.

      At this point in history I would say both their influences are severe.

  49. It’s a serious question: How much does the U.S. carry the rest of the world on its economic shoulders? As a mass-engine of consumption? By providing military protection for entire continents? By being the focal point of much scientific and technological advance? By retaining, in some industries, the remnants of a free market (seen elsewhere, of course, but not on this scale)?

    If the U.S. was zapped out of existence tomorrow by an alien laser, what would happen to the rest of the world, particularly Europe?

    I say all this with all of the love and respect due to our friends in the West, who I think get abused needlessly by Americans in general. They may be crazy, but at least they’re our kind of crazy.

    1. our friends in the West


      1. Nah, I think Europe gets a bad rap. We’ve got the sickness of the soul, too, and are following their bad example.

  50. I have spent a fair amount of time in France over the last two years and have gotten to know one French family quite well.

    It is a nice country. The French health care system works pretty well. The food is great. But, life is not easy. These folks would be middle-class in the U.S. — skilled tradespeople, teachers, etc. But there just isn’t much disposable income. They drive beat up old cars, vacation at home, and never eat out. Their homes are small and, yes, clothes dryers are rare (and highly coveted.)

    The worst thing about it all, in my view, is the lack of ambition or sense of upward mobility. No one seems to strive to get ahead. If your parents went to university, you go; if they didn’t, you don’t. Your fate, and your lot in life, seem to be determined by the time you are about 14 or so.

    Love to visit, don’t want to live there for more than a few months.

    1. I wonder just how enthusiastic our own over-credentialed wannabe elitists would be if they had to trade their state-paid Lexus in for a crappy clunker, their mini-mansion mortgage for a cramped and outdated rented apartment. Sure, top elitists like Krugman would fare better, but the wannabes would be crying to get back to the US within days.

  51. I wonder whether Krugman knows that the real national sport of the French is striking. This was confirmed for me two days ago by a French guest who had to take a 4-hour earlier flight because the one he booked was rather suddenly cancelled because of a strike.

    I agree with those who said that real Europe is quite different from the elite Europe most of our “intellectuals” experience. The plumbers, butchers, branch bank managers, and kiosk owners are a lot nicers than the snobs in the elite bubble.

  52. Look at it this way – would a European visitor to the USA think it looks different in 2010 with 10% unemployment than it did in 2008 with 3%? Of course not. Some things you can’t see by looking at the pretty buildings.

    Krugmann is a socialist, and all his ideas are clouded by his social agenda.

    1. There are a lot of extra “space available” signs on all that empty office/retail space. But your main point is correct.


    United States 47,440
    United Kingdom 36,358
    Germany 35,539
    France 34,205
    Italy 30,631
    Spain 30,589

    Readers of today’s column by Paul Krugman might find these figures useful to keep in mind.

  54. Did I mention that French people are considered (according to one source) as “the Mexicans of Switzerland,” soaking up all the menial jobs, being blamed for corroding the culture, and otherwise treated like Polish plumbers?

    My guess is that Matt does not hire much Mexican labor or work with many either. Yes you hire them because they are cheap. But you also hire them because they show up on time work hard are often very skilled laborers and generally have a can do attitude.

    Maybe Matt thinks French workers share these same characteristics but I doubt it.

    1. I don’t think the French are inherently lazy and unambitious; it’s just that the French employment system allows them to be that way with impunity. Most Americans would be the same way if we had French labor laws here.

      Once they’re in a job where they know shoddy work will get them fired, I’m sure they’re as hardworking as anyone.

  55. josh, readers of this thread might find it useful to know what those numbers are.

    1. There is a link…click on it.

      and may i be the first to welcome you to the World Wide Web established circa 1995

      1. There is a comment box — type in it.

        If I followed every link I saw on H&R I would be a paranoid schizophrenic by now.

        1. Mankiw and blogspot are scary.

          1. Don’t be a dick. It’s just common courtesy and good form to provide at least minimal context for a list of facts.

            1. Don’t be a dick. It’s just common courtesy and good form to provide at least minimal context for a list of facts.

              I had a choice either quote what the numbers ment yet leave out that it is a criticism of Krugman or do the inverse. If i did both i would be quoting the whole Mankiw blog post…ostensibly taking credit for his work. I chose what i chose because it said Krugman was wrong and it left enough out that it would direct readers to Mankiw’s blog.

              Fuck you. I prefer the values i tried to adhere to more then your fuckwit “common courtesy” values.

              1. If i did both i would be quoting the whole Mankiw blog post…ostensibly taking credit for his work.

                Bullshit. That’s such a lame excuse, I can’t believe you’d even try it. It’s not that hard to cite a blog with a link while including the quoted material in, you know, quotes so the attribution is clear. It’s standard and trivially easy.

                And, just to be clear, your being a dick wasn’t in leaving out the info originally, it was in your response to those who asked for context. Telling them to, essentially, “fuck off.” But with your latest response you’ve just further confirmed my (and I’m sure other’s) assessment, just in case there was any lingering doubt.

                1. Telling them to, essentially, “fuck off.” But with your latest response you’ve just further confirmed my (and I’m sure other’s) assessment, just in case there was any lingering doubt.

                  RC dean is a big boy dfd.

                  Bullshit. That’s such a lame excuse,

                  It is the truth and exactly what was going on in my head when i did it. I do not care if you believe me.

        2. No, you’d be an expert on “Never Gonna Give You Up” and various forms of porn.

  56. Hyperbolic people on this site alone are often talking about how the Fed=totalitarianism or how every government program is going to kill the economy…

    On a long enough time-scale, the odds that MNG will quote every Ayn Rand villain are 100%.

  57. Jimbob has it the closest to what really living in Europe permanently is like

  58. I don’t understand the clothes dryer rarity thing.

    Clothes dryers are 250-300 bucks.

    Is it that hard for Frenchies to put together 250 bucks? What’s that, 200 euros?

    Come on, Frenchies.

    1. Clothes dryers are 250-300 bucks.

      They worry about the electric bill not the Sears card bill.

    2. Acquisition cost

      Maintenance cost

      Operational cost

      Floor space requirements

      Retrofit installation wiring and exhaust

      and,of course, disposal at end of life.

      Acquisition is trivial compared to the rest.

    3. We don’t wash our close.

  59. Krugster loves Europe so much, he refuses to move there.

  60. On the old “Who gives a fuck what he thinks” meter, Krugman’s “insights” rate a big “Whatever”. Comments were epic – thanks. I gotta go clean the krugman off my shoes – bye for now.

  61. I love Paris. But the most frightened I have ever been was walking back from the Metro (the subway) to my friend’s apartment late at night in 2001. She is a Lebanese woman living in the Banlieue and regaled me with stories of gang rapes and robberies on her block.

    And I went to school in the San Francisco Tenderloin, lived in the SF Mission (the real Mission), and walked through almost every part of SF and Oakland at ridiculous hours.

  62. As for the dryers thing, this is very european (and australian). Utilities are generally much more expensive, so that:

    -no clothes dryers
    -most clothes washers are tiny, many people hand wash.
    -very few dishwashers, and usually used as drying racks.
    -here’s one that weirded me out. lots of them don’t rinse their dishes. they use less soapy water and just let the soap drip off with the water.

    these differences (which i generally commend but would not emulate) are more the result of culture and prices than being poor and backward.

    1. About 55% of Australian households have a clothes dryer. However, Australia is a large country where most people have a backyard, and where there is more sunshine than anywhere in Europe and most places in the US. The prevalence of dryers has little to do with cash, more to do with less need for them.

    2. we just lick our plates down here in france

  63. They have an innovative way of ensuring early obsolescence of their vehicles. The regular carbecue’s that are sponsored by immigrant youth ensure that owners have a means of disposing of their vehicles and other property in an innovative manner. It is a pity that the media doesn’t spend any time reporting on such fascinating trends in French culture.

  64. This thread is an impressive “eye of the beholder” proving mess.

    My experience in Europe was in Rome.
    Quality of life is too complex to rate on a one-dimensional scale (like income), but many aspects of life are much better in Rome than any of the cities I have lived in in the US (including NYC, Seattle for comparably large cities – both of which I hold in high regard).

    A bigger house with a clothes dryer would not convince me to move to an average American suburb.

    1. My experience in Europe was in Rome.

      Interesting. How long did you live there?

    2. I imagine the quality of life issues are largely aesthetic. Say, the view of old architecture, or the ability to have lunch at a cafe on a plaza just outside your door.

      American suburbs suffer from the whole zoning and planning racket. Commercial and residential areas are separated in a way that forces you to drive around a bunch of convoluted streets to get to a strip mall on a highway to eat lunch with a view of a parking lot. There are no neighborhood pubs or bakeries.

      We’ll never have the old architecture, but I’d bet that American suburbs would take on more of that organic charm of a real city if they cut back on all the regulation.

      1. I think you’re right, Hazel. Zoning and planning–and in fact much of our municipal and county bureaucracies–are rackets. I know that the European ones are supposed to be worse, but it is sometimes hard to imagine.

    3. As a European, I must say it’s funny to observe how when Americans discuss “Europe”, they’re basically discussing France.. Is this just a reflection of poor geography skills?

      And by the way, here in Scandinavia everybody has a tumble dryer, and having lived in the US what struck me was the poor quality of American household appliances, such as washing machines and tumble dryers.

      1. Do you mean because our appliances work for 20+ years? And therefore a lot of people don’t need new appliances?

      2. As a Scandinavian, I must say it’s funny to observe how when other Scandinavians discuss “Scandinavia”, they’re basically discussing Norway. Is this just a reflection of poor geography skills?

  65. “Shops closed, often by government diktat, precisely when you might want to frequent them–during lunchtime, say; or a dinner-only restaurant at 6:59 p.m.”

    To be fair, that’s mostly cultural. French have always taken a long lunch break (during which their shops are closed) and they eat dinner a lot later than most other folks.

    1. You American haters bore me to tears, Ms. Barham. I’ve dealt with Europeans all my life. I know all about us parvenus from the States who come over here and race around your old Cathedral towns with our cameras and Coca-cola bottles… Brawl in your pubs, paw at your women, and act like we own the world. We over-tip, we talk too loud, we think we can buy anything with a Hershey bar. I’ve had Germans and Italians tell me how politically ingenuous we are, and perhaps so. But we haven’t managed a Hitler or a Mussolini yet. I’ve had Frenchmen call me a savage because I only took half an hour for lunch. Hell, Ms. Barham, the only reason the French take two hours for lunch is because the service in their restaurants is lousy. The most tedious lot are you British. We crass Americans didn’t introduce war into your little island. This war, Ms. Barham to which we Americans are so insensitive, is the result of 2,000 years of European greed, barbarism, superstition, and stupidity. Don’t blame it on our Coca-cola bottles. Europe was a going brothel long before we came to town.

      –Paddy Chayefsky, The Americanization of Emily

      1. I watched that just the other night, great flick.

  66. Krugman should know better, but he is mixing up stocks and flows. The stock of capital in Western Europe is huge and the Europeans can live off it for a long time. The architecture is just the most visible part of the historically accumulated capital. The flows are negative (Europeans are gerring poorer) and they will either get fed up and find a new form of government, as the British did with Thatcher, or they will keep consuming their capital until it’s all gone.

    1. We’ve been doing a pretty good job of consuming our capital since about the mid-sixties, too.

      The Euros and Brits are just further into it, having gotten started anywhere from about 1880 to 1914.

  67. sorry, “getting” not “gerring.”

  68. my healthcare is great dont fuck with commie prick. btw krugman is a clown

  69. sorry dont fuck with “IT”

    1. So much more insightful now.

  70. What’s wrong with clotheslines?

    1. Was wondering too… Apparently dryers are the epitome of achievement.

  71. “Clotheslines galore, since very few people seem to own dryers.”

    Well, I have a dryer, but I not only have, but use a clothes line because unlike the author, I hate to spend money when nature will do the job for free.

    I’m glad that Matt Welch is a good old conservative who spends money I bet he doesn’t have because hey, he doesn’t want to be seen as backward for using a clothes line to dry his clothes without paying a dime.

    I bet he sees Warren Buffett as too French because he walks to work from his home instead of being driven in a gas guzzling limo.

    1. Nature doesn’t do the job when it’s raining, cold, or at night (ie, most of the year in the northern US). And when it does do the job it’s quite slow.

      1. Preach on, brother Tulpa.

        Clotheslines are only viable in the chicagoland area 4 to 5 months of the year.

    2. Practical bit — better grade ‘wrinkle free’ clothing needs a nice fairly hot tumble dry for the treated fibers to relax and do their thing.

      What’s the point of a clothesline if it means you have to iron a hell of a lot more?

  72. What Krugman unsurprisingly ignores is that none of these European welfare states actually got their wealth by being welfare states. They got wealthy the way all countries do: through liberal markets and free trade. They then built welfare state on top of wealthy societies. And lo and behold, when they did that their growth rates came to a halt.

    1. — just like those ‘nuanced’ fools in California who have no concept of feedback. “We’re rich so sure we can afford all of these liberal goodies” with no clue that they are undermining that which enabled the riches in the first place.

      1. What I think I love(hate) most about Californians is that they not only have no clue what enabled them to get rich to begin with – they also will never understand why they’re economy is getting perpetually worse.

        I have always wondered if it has to do with the fact that a lot of early CA settlers came out here on get rich quick gold mining schemes and a lot of the new ones just come here cause they think they can get famous in a hurry.

  73. Dude, what a joke! I’ve never been to your blog before, I can’t believe you have this many readers.

    Let’s see… Paris sucks because it has drunk homeless people and graffiti? Have you visited America lately? America must really suck in your eyes. More importantly, I don’t see how homeless people and graffiti refute Krugman’s argument.

    Also, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but restaurants in Paris are not open before 7pm ‘cuz they eat late there! Not ‘cuz of government mandate. I laughed out loud when I read that one. Dinner starts at 10. Deal.

    The dog shit? OK ok, good point.

    What else? Oh yeah… So, with your eyes you saw that majority of people were being paid by the state? How’d that work? Some kind of new GOP Ray Band type thing?

    No entrepreneurial spirit? You “saw” that too? Wow. You’re good. Most impressive is that you “saw” that the French are considered to be “Mexicans of Switzerland”. Not many people can see perception. I think that’s why it’s called perception. Poor Paul Krugman, all he has is a chair at Princeton, a column in the NYT and a nobel prize, but you, you’re Matt Welch you’ve got Conserv-O-Vision!

    Dude, if you want to piss on Paris go right ahead, but the things you truly “saw” on your visit don’t really add up to much (dog shit, graffiti). And most of the things you list you didn’t “see” at all. Just the usual litany of GOP whine.

    Congrats on your blog! I honestly didn’t know wing-nuts had a toehold on the interwebs yet. Good for you.

    1. Ha! And you apparently “see” that Matt Welch is a right winging GOPer….

    2. Wow. One scarcely knows where to start.

      But do come back. I think we all might learn something.

    3. I love these guys, they have no idea where they are or who they’re talking to… Moar!

    4. Actually Matt Welch wasn’t really bashing France so much as saying saying that France isn’t as wonderful as Paul Krugman and other American liberals seems to think it is.

      Perhaps your problem with understanding the post comes from English not being your first language or something.

      1. Isaac,

        Guess you hadn’t read the Krugman piece.

        Too bad, but typical of the right-wing. Like when y’all go nuts over some movie or book you’ve never seen or read.

  74. I’m an American currently living temporarily in Europe. After reading Krugman and Matt Welch and all the comments, I’d just like to say that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Europe is neither what the conservatives nor what the liberals make it out to be. Also Europe is a geographically big and culturally diverse place…much more so than America. For starters, France is not just Paris…and the UK is obviously quite different from Germany or Portugal. I like to tell my conservative friends that despite our stereotypes of vacations and strikes, many people in Europe work very hard, the churches here are not empty, people here have not lost their faith in God and they still do have children (the birthrate in France is very similar to that in the US if you account for immigration). To my liberal friends, I like to point out that the poor neighborhoods here are just as horrendous as the inner cities in America, that public health care is far from utopic, that life in general is far less convenient, that the middle-class is much less affluent and that Europeans dream of going to university in America. Overall I’d say that we Americans need to develop a more balanced attitude. Let’s try to be humbly aware and thankful for our fantastic country which is truly the world’s last best hope. However, instead of spending time smugly criticizing Europe, we need to accept that to be great does not mean we are perfect. America is still the envy of the rest of the world, including Europe…but we Americans cannot afford an attitude of contempt which dismisses everybody else. We can learn a lot (about history, culture and life in general) from Europe and Europeans. Let’s focus on keeping our country as great as it is, by recognizing our greatness but also acknowledging the strengths of others.

    1. I agree with abc – without being smug, cynical, a mere tourist, or just plain ignorant, we can be proud of our own country without disparaging other countries and cultures.

      1. a good comment, abc;
        I live in alpine France after living most of the 1990s in New York City;
        first off, Europe is sure not perfect, lots of problems, but for crying out loud: some of the comments above are stunningly provincial!

        my favourite, the guy who says in places like Italy people don’t have all the modern conveniences — like cellphones …. LOL !! have you ever been on any piazza anywhere?? every single person — babies, toddlers, cats, dogs everybody — is on their portable phone ALL THE TIME.

        as for the appliances inside European homes, I am sorry but German Miele dryers, washers etc, and these are expensive but superdependable , are everywhere,

        the cars can be excellent — I have had 2 Renaults, very satisfactory, and my little Clio gets 45 MPG, while routinely driving 130 km/h around the great French autoroutes — that’s 85 m/h for Rush fans in Linda Vista or wherever ….

        choose your poison, but NYC vs Paris??? I will take Pa-ree! very dynamic, creative, prosperous. Sheesh, whaddya want in a city?

        Atlanta? Houston? St Louis? Ugggh.

        1. my favourite, the guy who says in places like Italy people don’t have all the modern conveniences — like cellphones…

          Well, yeah, if someone had actually said that, it would be stupid. Except nobody did, corn syrup boy.

          1. you’re right, it was said that they don’t have refrigerators.

  75. first of all, krugman is an educated idiot. a feckless hack, a partisan joke. i’d knock him down if i ever had the chance.

    Alan Vanneman – here’s a diktat for you. why don’t you move over there? yeah, an oldie, but a goodie…..

  76. It’s surprising that libs envy Europe at all, I mean, it’s filled with those nasty white “people”. Also, it’s cities didn’t stay bombed after WWII, it could have been so much nobler as a third world s**t hole.

  77. One thing I have learned over the 15 years I have lived in France is that it is useless, simply an exercise in futility, to compare the US, a country of 360 million and a history of its own (complete with a Declaration of Independence) with France, a country of 60 million, who was, by the way, our major ally in that Revolution. The two histories (read Founding Brothers by Ellis and Stacy Schiff’s Brilliant Improvisation about Franklin’s diplomatic efforts in France during the days of the Revolution) are completely different. In the US, we draw inspiration from idea of indivudual freedom; in France, human rights trumps indiviudual liberty. Here, it’s the good of the whole over the good of the individual. However, what French don’t know is that Americans are very generous and are dedicated to helping others. Here, taxes go to redistributing the wealth, which is what Mr. Obama seems to be up to. But, as I say, comparison is not a good idea, and I am amazed that Mr. Krugman could succumb to such a superficial and unhelpful exercise!

  78. American liberal fascists love to point to Europe to divert attention to what their policies have destroyed in America. Many posters have correctly noted that European socialism was only made possible by 60 years of US subsidies. Even if we continued that lunacy, the marxist utopia is collapsing. The evidence is piling up like dog Krugman on the sidewalk.

  79. The solution is obvious. Allow the liberal fascists to separate their coastal enclaves from the US,and become part of the EU. Free Americans can then restore our Constitution and restore freedom.

  80. Perhaps Krugman has never seen or visited the notorious banlieues surrounding Paris. The product of Soviet style central planning in the 1960’s, they are the repository of poor and destitute immigrants. That’s where you find violent crime and areas where the Gendarme fear going in daylight. They are ugly depressing areas which encircle the “City of Light”. Perhaps he should open the curtains of his limousine the next time he rides into Paris from DeGaulle airport.

  81. Have lived in Geneva for two years having moved from New York. NY was safer, and a lot less expensive, also a lot less socially stratified (and that’s saying something.) A chicken in Switzerland costs about 25 bucks; literally everything is twice as much as it should be, and importing goods is impossible due to outrageous tariffs. The french suburbs are as dreary as any place in the US. Im lucky enough to own a dryer, but my power bill is over 150 bucks a month. Has Krugman experienced europe in any context other than tourist?

  82. I think that Krugman needs to read his own paper a little bit more.

    The problem,” said Juli?n Cubero, chief economist for Spain for BBVA, a leading Spanish bank, “is that if your salary rises more slowly than the cost of products you buy on a daily basis, you feel poorer every day.”

  83. Alex the Swiss are one more free market states in the world. They have some of the lowest tax rates in Europe. The Swiss rank #9 and the US is #6 out of 179 countries. But by contrast France is ranked 64 and Italy is ranked 71 out of 179.

  84. @alex also to compare NYC which is high tax high regulations with Geneva which is lower tax lower regulations than NYC.

  85. David, the taxes in switzerland vary by canton. Geneva taxes are considerably higher than in neighboring france. You would be startled by the protectionism and state intrusion into commerce you see here. No restaurants or stores allowed to be open on sundays, or late on weekdays. massively subsidized and protected agriculture (i paid 160 bucks for a thanksgiving turkey, 8 lbs, because it came from france) Rents that make NY and London look VERY cheap. No chance of importing anything by mail (the post officeholds it ransom until you pay 25% duties) On a PPP basis I think your average swiss is faring very poorly indeed, even at 100k chf nominal median income.

  86. Do you think that Krugman as a NYT columnist only went to the finest hotels, stores, restaurants, and only saw the French uppercrust in Paris?

    Those are my guesses.

    So, of course everything looked rosy. Socialism helps the rich far more than the poor.

    1. Sally, now THAT was funny. “socialism helps the rich more than the poor.”

      Were you trying to be ironic?

      PS, the French aren’t socialists. Not that it would matter to you, but they’re republicans (small ‘r’ so you don’t get confused.)

  87. Around the Internet, I see Krugman is becoming a laughing stock by virtually everyone, including his fellow economists. His buddy Friedman can’t put a rational article together anymore either.

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