ROLFUDRETUS and Last Country Standing January 11, 2014Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite , trackback
This is a bad period in Italy. The self-employed, a quarter of the population, are presently being taxed at about 50%. The public sector is inefficient and weighs the country down. The law – always a relative concept in Italy – has become a simultaneously braying and defecating ass. And the Euro is crushing Italian manufacturing. It’s a very depressing catalogue and there has been much discussion of emigration in the Beachcombing household of late, particularly given that there are two young children involved. Beach personally can’t help thinking of this as more of a historical than a personal problem though. Let’s start with the premise that you have a shopping list for the country in which you want to live: (i) ‘the rule of law’, (ii) functioning democracy, (iii) reasonable tax rates, and (iv) an unintrusive state (no telephone interceptions etc) [henceforth Rolfudretrus]. You want these both because it is nice to live under these conditions and because a country like this deserves loyalty from its citizens, new or old. What country is most likely to guarantee these conditions in fifty or a hundred years given the last three hundred years of history? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com
Beach would sadly have to rule continental Europe out. In the EU and adjacent states the demographic deficit, ‘generous’ welfare, the failure of politicians to plan and for citizens to save means that things are going to get uglier and uglier. By 2050 there will be two workers for every retiree instead of four workers for every retiree now. The UK and Ireland have potential. Many estimates suggest, incredibly, that the UK will have the biggest European economy by 2050, which reflects very badly on Germany’s present trajectory. There is probably more potential for these two democracies (possibly with the Netherlands and Scandinavia?) to actually deal with the problems being piled onto their plates in essence because they the vox populi is fairly sensible there. Australia and New Zealand are wonderful and vibrant countries, with all the right ideas, and perhaps their relative isolation will save them in the end. The downside is the proximity of an increasingly assertive (soon to be aggressive?) China and apparent ecological problems, particularly in Australia: droughts etc. Japan also begins to slip down the league table when you think of China. Parts of South America, e.g. Chile, have promising futures, though their experience of machine-gun toting Juntas is a little too recent in memory for comfort. Then, there is North America… The United States, in part because of its power, in part because of the good instincts of its citizenry, will keep certain principles alive. Perhaps Canada that, in part, shelters under the US’s capacious umbrella, has though even better odds. Canadian citizens are less shouty about their freedoms than their American neighbours, but the Canadian government is unlikely to be corrupted by power in the same way: a constant danger for the federal authorities across the border where Frodo is looking very intently at the ring.
It is difficult really to even consider any other countries given their present records. South Africa, Singapore, Bermuda, Rwanda all partially fulfill the Rolfudretrus model, but fall far short in one or several areas. Perhaps they will slip ahead though as others fall back? Twenty years ago, the Cold War over, it seemed as if rolfdretrus was going to spread around the world. Now it looks like we are in for a period of bad weather. Better batten down…?
16 Jan 2014: JH writes in with opinions on the States ‘I’ll give you my best opinion on the states. First a qualifier; I am a unsalvageable conservative, just remember that when you consider my observations. Number one, don’t believe anything about the US in the media, they are highly politicized. Number two, education (you have kids, I don’t know the ages) most pre-college public schools in the US are not that good, especially in the cities. Universities here are going through a bubble in tuition costs (very expensive) and seem to be more oriented to credential issuing than education. Number three, the economy is not very good (not nearly as bad as where you are) very, very sluggish. Jobs are not good especially in given fields I don’t know what you people do, though I guess it’s something in education, again not very good right now. Number four, government and taxes. On the Federal level the left is ascendant right now and believes this is it’s big chance to institute programs and spend money like mad, which in the end we’ll have higher taxes. On a local or state level it depends on where you are. I’m in Texas which isn’t bad, but could change. Considering where you are now, the places in the US that might interest you would be Montana, Idaho, possibly western Oregon or Washington. The climate is comparable, the schools are pretty good and taxes are not bad (except maybe Washington and Oregon). Your problem would be finding work. Do not go to California, the Northeast or Atlanta area. Thanks JH!
16 Jan 2014: LA writes ‘Prompted to write as this very problem is under discussion – and we live in Canada! You may not be aware of the draconian changes to our country at the hands of the current government. Not the least of our problems is Canadianism – we don’t fight, yell, agitate in public. No, most of us confine ourselves to kvetching in private. We also believe the Canada that was still exists, ignoring the words of our PM, “you won’t recognize Canada when I get through with it.” Canada is the home of the tar sands oil extraction process, one of the globe’s largest polluters. Canada criticizes other countries most inappropriately. Canada has destroyed science libraries and refuses to allow federal scientists to report their findings publicly. Canada is insisting on building more oil pipelines to deliver product overseas, never mind that the routes are across inhospitable terrain. In British Columbia, our premier is touting LNG production – fracking – in the north east of the province, claiming vast financial rewards when in fact, the LNG market is already saturated (Russia, for example, has the world’s largest LNG resources). Canada has foreclosed on an Ontario farm that has been held in one family, by King’s Charter, for almost 200 years – to expand a military base. Canada is rewriting history so that we come off as militaristic (the War of 1812 was won by Canada, in case you were not aware, changing us from a nation of peace keepers into warmongers. I could go on but this is all I can manage today….. Thanks LA!
16 Jan 2014: MCJ writes, ‘Europe’s problem (and Japan’s, BTW) stem from the reality that “retirement” is an outdated concept. The idea of universal compulsory retirement at 65 was established by Otto von Bismarck. Well, not by him personally, perhaps, but we do like to put a face on these things. At the time, human life expectancy was … around 65. You retired, and you went home and waited to die. Fast-forward to today. You retire, and you can reasonably expect to live another 15-20 years. it doesn’t take a mathematical genius to work out that if you are going to work for 40 years and sit around for 20, you will need to save one third of your salary from the moment you start working,. And we all know that nobody does that. Whether you do it personally, or whether you rely on the state to do it for you, the numbers don’t add up. It gets worse. Of all the medical expenses you pay in your entire life, around 90% will be incurred during your last year. Upshot? WE ARE ALL GOING TO KEEP ON WORKING. There may be career switches, there may be lightening of burdens, but the idea of sitting around enjoying your twilight years is obsolete. The time to plan your post-retirement career is now.’ Thanks MCJ!