sabato 1 ottobre 2016

CHAPTER 6 CONTINENTAL DRIFT - who really cares? brooks

CHAPTER 6 CONTINENTAL DRIFTRead more at location 1556
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The monster waves created destruction as far away as the eastern coast of Africa. The disaster’s toll was astronomical: Three months after the tragedy, more than 300,000 people in eleven countries were dead or missing.Read more at location 1566
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the outpouring of American aid was tremendous.Read more at location 1569
The film director Mel Brooks puts the idea more succinctly: “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.”Read more at location 1577
Americans had donated more than $1.5 billion in cash and gifts. The American Red Cross alone collected private tsunami donations adding up to nearly $400 million by the middle of March 2005. Catholic Relief Services collected nearly $100 million, and Oxfam America $30 million. Private contributions from the United States were so prolific that they created spending bottlenecks for some charities. Doctors Without Borders, for example, stopped accepting gifts just two weeks after the tragedy because it was unable to absorb and spend the donations it was receiving.Read more at location 1585
America was nevertheless criticized for the inadequacy of its aid efforts. Many critics of the Bush administration—both in America and in Europe—noted that the most generous of governments (Germany) pledged nearly twice as much in assistance as the U.S. government. The executive director of the liberal National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) saw this as a personal charitable failingRead more at location 1589
The most famous criticism, though, came from Jan Egeland, the United Nations emergency relief coordinator, who was widely reported to have called American relief efforts “stingy.”Read more at location 1594
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Secretary of State Colin Powell responded as well: “The United States is not stingy. We are the greatest contributor to international relief efforts in the world.”Read more at location 1597
Agenda 21. This plan included a government foreign aid target of 0.7 percent of GDP for the most developed nations,Read more at location 1604
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The problem with this criticism is that it fails to take into account the disproportionately high level of private charity in the United States.Read more at location 1609
It is true that U.S. official development assistance (ODA), at about $10 billion, is only about a tenth of 1 percent of GDP. “However, this amount is accompanied annually by about $13 billion in other types of government assistance, and about $16 billion from private sources, including foundations, religious congregations, voluntary organizations, universities, and corporations.”Read more at location 1612
Why do Europeans persist in their criticisms of American generosity? One reason is that giving at the private level is a foreign concept to them. There is so little private charity in Europe that it is difficult to find informationRead more at location 1618
The best data on private money donations in Europe are from the late 1990s. These data, however, show a huge charity gap that we can be confident has grown only in the intervening decade (for reasons I will discuss in a moment). Specifically, no Western European population comes remotely close the United States in per capita private charity.Read more at location 1620
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The closest nation, Spain, has average giving that is less than half that of the United States. Per person, Americans give three and a half times as much as the French, seven times as much as the Germans, and fourteen times as much as the Italians.Read more at location 1623
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when we correct for average income, the results barely change. Even accounting for differences in standard of living, Americans give more than twice as high a percentage of their incomes to charity as the Dutch, almost three times as much as the French, more than five times as much as the Germans, and more than ten times as much as the Italians.Read more at location 1628
When we consider other nations, America looks better and better, but Western Europe looks worse and worse: In 1995, Tanzanians gave a larger part of their incomes than Norwegians. Kenyans gave more than Austrians and Germans. And almost everybody—Africans, South Americans, Eastern Europeans—gave more than Italians.Read more at location 1631
What about gifts of time?Read more at location 1634
Data from 1998 on whether people in America and Western Europe volunteer for religious, political, and charitable causes show that the story is the same. As for money donations, no European country reaches American volunteering levels—indeed, most don’t even come remotely close. For example, Americans are 15 percentage points more likely to volunteer than the Dutch (51 to 36 percent), 21 points more likely than the Swiss, and 32 points more likely than the Germans (fewer than one in five of which volunteer for any charities, churches, or other causes). These volunteering differences are not attributable to the average level of education or income. On the contrary, if we look at two people who are identical in age, sex, marital status, education, and real income—but one is European and the other American—the probability is far lower that the European will volunteer than the American. For example, an Austrian who “looks” just like an American will be 32 percentage points less likely to volunteer, a Spaniard will be 31 points less likely, and an Italian will be 29 points less likely.Read more at location 1636
When we look at the overall charity of Americans, we see that by international standards we are an extraordinarily generous nation.Read more at location 1644
“There is no way that such a high percentage of Russians actually volunteer each year. You are overestimating Russian voluntarism, because Russians overstate their charitable activities.” And this was the same reaction about reported giving and volunteering levels that I got from colleagues in other European countries.Read more at location 1652
many Europeans argue that their high taxes, which provide revenues to generous social welfare systems, pay for much of what Americans cover with private charity.Read more at location 1656
many believe, the state is more effective and dependable for providing support for public services and relief to the needy than reliance on voluntary sources of aid.Read more at location 1658
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The average tax burden in all European countries is not higher than it is in the United States. A British family, for instance, relinquishes an average of 10.8 percent of its household income to the government in income taxes. This is lower than what an average American family pays—11.3 percent.Read more at location 1660
Still, the social spending argument is undeniably strong. A conversation with, say, a middle-class Norwegian is sufficient to convince any skeptic that high taxes and generous social welfare benefits are indeed part of a social consensus in modern Europe.Read more at location 1662
Social consensus, however, is not the same thing as unanimity. Undoubtedly, forced taxes are paid against the will of many Europeans—and Europe has the tax evasion to prove it: “Massive tax evasion is Europe’s dirty little secret” declared the Wall Street Journal Europe recently. Estimates suggest that Europe’s underground economy (illegally untaxed) is nearly twice that of America’s. This does not mean that social welfare spending is bad policy, just that it is not a voluntary sacrifice for many Europeans; European government spending therefore cannot be viewed as anything equivalent to private giving.Read more at location 1667
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The second justification we often hear from Europeans is that Americans give more because our tax system creates incentives to be charitable.Read more at location 1672
tax deductions represent only about 20 percent of the total value of U.S. private charity. This is nowhere near the size of the gap in average giving between the United States and the European nations. For example, even if we erase 20 percent of American gifts, the average American still gives five and a half times as much money to charity each year as the average German.Read more at location 1676
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Second, many European countries have tax incentives similar to (or more generous than) those in the United States.Read more at location 1678
Third, this argument pertains only to money donations, but nonmoney giving in Europe is much lower than in the United States as well.Read more at location 1679
Why is Europe so uncharitable?Read more at location 1681
many of the same reasons, it turns out, that uncharitable Americans are. We saw that Americans are relatively unlikely to behave charitably if they are nonreligious, believe that it is the government’s job to redistribute income, and suffer from unstable family conditions. There is ample evidence that each of these forces is stronger in Europe than in America,Read more at location 1681
The most diplomatic way to describe the status of religion in Europe is to say that the Continent is “post-Christian.”Read more at location 1685
With the exception of Ireland, the percentage of the population that says it has no religion or that it never attends a house of worship is higher in every European country than it is in the United States,Read more at location 1693
European secularism is also more aggressive than American secularism. It is one thing to neglect religion; it is another thing entirely to disdain it openly. Yet Europeans are far more likely than Americans to do precisely this. For example, in 1998, 40 percent of Swedes and 40 percent of Norwegians “strongly agreed” with this statement: “Looking at the world, religions bring more conflict than peace.” Similarly, 28 percent of Italians and British held this strong antireligious view. In contrast, only 8 percent of Americans felt this way.Read more at location 1697
Secularism correlates directly with low rates of charity in Europe, just as it does in the United States. All across Europe, religious citizens are more than twice as likely to volunteer for charities and causes as secularists. This correlation is specifically tied to religion, not some other characteristic associated with it.Read more at location 1701
The impact of being European and secular makes the difference explode. Imagine comparing secular Frenchmen with religious Americans who are identical with respect to education, age, income, sex, and marital status. We can predict that 27 percent of the secular French will volunteer, compared with 83 percent of the religious Americans.Read more at location 1710
Some argue that it is the suspicion Europeans have about religion after centuries of religion-related wars. Others see it as simply a selffulfilling prophecy from European humanist intellectuals, who have always seen doom for organized religion as a symbol of social progress. This idea goes back more than a century, and is characteristic of the social theories of Central Europe. Karl Marx famously referred to religion as the “opiate of the masses,” and believed it was doomed to extinction as societies progressed. Sigmund Freud and Auguste Comte viewed religion as akin to mental illness or as a manifestation of superstition. Whatever the reason for Europe’s rapid secularization, it is a fact.Read more at location 1713
data on religious participation show an increase in church membership over the past two centuries—from 17 percent of the population at the time of the American Revolution to a third of the population at the time of the Civil War, to about 60 percent today.Read more at location 1721
It may be that the lack of an official government religion in America, leading to a highly competitive market for souls, has kept religion in touch with the needs of American worshippers. And America’s sunny resistance to the hold of depressing European social theories may have helped provide a defense against the creep of secularism.Read more at location 1723
Recall that American proponents of income redistribution are personally far less charitable than opponents of redistribution, even after correcting for income, race, education, and other personal differences. And Europeans are far more supportive of economic redistribution than their American counterparts.Read more at location 1738
income redistribution is a core tenet of left-wing politics, and the percentage of the population that classifies itself as “left” or “far left” politically is much higher in Europe than in the United States.Read more at location 1747
“Europe as we know it is slowly going out of business,” wrote a Washington Post columnistRead more at location 1767
Europe’s low birthrate has been shrinking its native populations for more than two decades.Read more at location 1768
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Why have so many Europeans stopped having children? A United Nations policy paper from 2000 identified as culprits falling marriage rates, rising unmarried cohabitation by couples, and rising divorce.Read more at location 1778
Modern European attitudes about family life are not just nontraditional; they are antitraditional. In 2002, 55 percent of Spaniards disagreed that it is best to marry if one wants to have children (versus 19 percent of Americans). And 81 percent agreed that divorce is the best solution for couples who can’t seem to work out their marital problems (versus 43 percent of Americans).Read more at location 1783
Just as charity begins at home less and less frequently in Europe in the decision to have children, so does the broader decision to remain childless become part of the decision not to help others. As in America, there is evidence that childless Europeans are less likely to donate to charity than those with kids.Read more at location 1789
Solvency of this system as the population ages—and new workers are not there to pay retirees’ pensions—almost certainly means that Europeans face at least one of three scenarios: dramatically lower pension benefits, impossibly high taxes, or uncontrolled immigration.Read more at location 1799
To some, the trend of much of the developed world—especially Western Europe—toward a secular, statist, low-fertility culture is natural, probably inevitable, and maybe even desirable. It is true that European social welfare systems are effective in providing an economic floor for the citizens of these countries (for the moment), that poor Americans are poorer than poor Europeans, and that income inequality is much lower in Western Europe than it is in the United States. It would be foolish to deny that there are many benefits to these systems, which are as popular among average Europeans as the American system is in the United States. But much about these systems does not appear to encourage healthy societies in the long run. The most obvious symptoms of this are economic.Read more at location 1802
“The U.S.’s GDP growth rates when it was in a ‘recession’ would be an almost boom condition in Europe.”Read more at location 1812
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My European friends have told me many times that differences in per capita income and economic growth might seem a small price to pay for a high quality of life brought about by economic security and low inequality. In other words, Europeans may be a little poorer than Americans, but much happier, on average. These claims, however, do not square with the facts. Consider the differences between European and American populations in subjective well-being—that is, self-judged happiness. In 2002, Europeans and Americans were asked, “If you were to consider your life in general, how happy or unhappy would you say you are, on the whole?” A greater percentage of Americans (56 percent) answered “completely happy” or “very happy” than people in European countries.Read more at location 1815
It appears that something is missing for many Europeans.Read more at location 1821
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I am convinced that this “something”—or at least part of this something—is personal generosity, as reflected in giving, volunteering, and even parenting.Read more at location 1822
I will show why a lack of private charity probably lurks behind the relative unhappiness and disappointing economic growth in Europe—and poses a threat to America as well.Read more at location 1824
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