May 19, 2008

"The Europeans are paying for their own nihilism..."

Spengler, on German President Horst Koehler's bewilderment at the world financial markets...

....The monster is not the financial system, crooked and stupid as it may have been. The monster is the burgeoning horde of pensioners in Germany and other industrial countries. It is easy to change the financial system. The central banks can assemble on any Tuesday morning and announce tougher lending standards. But it is impossible to fix the financial problems that arise from Europe's senescence. Thanks to the one-child policy, moreover, China has a relatively young population that is aging faster than any other, and China's appetite for savings vastly exceeds what its own financial market can offer.

There is nothing complicated about finance. It is based on old people lending to young people. Young people invest in homes and businesses; aging people save to acquire assets on which to retire. The new generation supports the old one, and retirement systems simply apportion rights to income between the generations. Never before in human history, though, has a new generation simply failed to appear.

As the above chart makes clear, America's population profile is far more benign than Germany's, but it is aging nonetheless. There simply aren't enough young people in America to borrow money from Europe's and Japan's aging savers...

....Koehler's indignation is understandable, but it is pointless to blame the sausage-maker. Economics simply does not offer a solution to a lapse of the will to live among some of the world's richest economies. The Europeans are paying for their own nihilism. Having invented the perfect post-Christian society with cradle-to-grave services, they have not found anyone willing to live in it, except for the immigrants who well may inherit it from the disappearing locals.

It's is good to keep in mind that despite our gross faults, the Republicans are the party that tends to oppose imitating Europe, and the Democrats are the party that wants us to be Europe. And Europe is DYING.

Euro-style social democracy and secularism is perhaps the biggest "experiment" ever run on this planet, and it has failed calamitously. No European country is reproducing at the replacement rate. All European countries are in demographic collapse. (Population collapse will hit when their "baby-boom" generation starts to die off.) Equally important, Europe is no longer producing new ideas, new movements, new inventions. To a person like me who reads history, this change is shocking. (That's one of the many reasons liberals discourage the study of history.)

The death of Europe (and some other developed lands, such as Japan) is the biggest "fact" we have to deal with in our time. The biggest QUESTION. What does it mean for the human race? What does it mean for us? For me?

In my opinion, if you are not chewing on this problem, and wondering if your current ideas need to change because of it, you are not a serious person.

[Me, I think St Anthony got it right: "After the deluge, only the fishes will survive."]

* Update: Actually, there is still one European leader who is also a world leader. And one European state�a very small one�that still produces exciting new ideas that the world debates and takes seriously....

Posted by John Weidner at May 19, 2008 7:13 AM
Weblog by John Weidner