Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Ethnic Divisiveness - Liberty, Equality, Fraternity - Verse 2 has a different take about the riots in France than I wrote:

A striking characteristic of the demonstrators is their youth, with many of those involved only 13 or 14 years old. In part this is because French law cannot punish them until they reach 16. Many observers worry, however, that the age of the rioters has shown that their parents have lost control or, worse, agree with the tactics.

One thing the great majority of observers agree about is that the disturbances are not controlled by Islamic extremists or inspired by religious sentiment. The young people rioting have a sense of religion "approaching zero," says Dounia Bouzar, a former member of the Superior Council of French Muslims. "In general, these kids dream only of getting money and consuming like everybody else."

For Bouzar, French politicians have for 20 years refused to deal with the origins of inequality in French society. Riots in 1982 included a march by immigrants from Lyon to Paris that received massive media coverage.

"After the 1982 riots, the young promoters of the March for Equality denounced discrimination in housing and jobs," Bouzar said. "But the idea was insidiously planted in the mind of the public that the causes were not social but cultural . . . if young people burned automobiles it was not because of discrimination but because their parents came from a different culture."

Bouzar says nothing has changed but that today French leaders try to relate the violence to religion, providing an excuse for dealing with the political, social, and economic reasons behind the violence.

However, the story did suggest that the French government may not be entirely to blame:
Employment does indeed seem to be one of the keys to the problem, along with endemic —if frequently silent —discrimination. Unemployment among immigrants of North African origin ages 15 to 24, for example, is about 37 percent compared with 20 percent for the French as a whole and 12.7 percent for foreigners from other EU countries. Even in the 751 so-called sensitive urban zones designated by the government for special attention, unemployment is 19.6 percent and as high as 30 percent among the 21-to-29 age group, according to official government statistics.

Immigrant youths living in underprivileged areas complain that no matter how many CVs (resumes) they send out, the answer is almost always the same- –silence. An experiment by the independent "Discrimination Observatory" found that applications with the same resume received half as many invitations for interviews when the address signaled a disadvantaged area.

Nevertheless, it is easy to forget in the current context the tremendous efforts made by the French government over the past two decades to improve conditions for immigrants.

"The poor French suburbs are relatively spoiled compared with American inner cities," says Stanger. "They have medical care, schools, and gymnasiums that any affluent American community would be proud of."

On October 16, 2004, I wrote:
Recounting previous points:
  • we have an instinct to survive, acquire, and pass on our DNA
  • we survive best in "herds"
  • herds are structured to satisfy the strong and accomodate the weak
  • the rules of one herd may vary from others based on experience and environment

To this list, let's add

  • herds will not readily accept "outsiders"
Why, because outsiders alter the dynamics of the herd and may not play by the rules of the herd. Therefore, they are seen as a threat to the survival of the herd.
The "native herd" accepts a few different individuals as "curiousities" until there are enough of these individuals to be discerned as a "new herd". Then conflict commences.

Addendum from The National Review

Ironically the politician being denounced for inflaming the French rioters, interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy, has some of the best ideas about how Europe could better integrate its Muslim citizens. Sarkozy argues that affirmative action is needed for Muslims, heresy in egalitarian France. He also proposes that the state fund mosques. This is imperative: Otherwise large numbers of mosques will continue to preach the divisive, extremist doctrine of Wahabism. There is no reason that Muslim populations hailing from moderate societies should be led by Wahabi imams.

Of course, these steps towards integration cannot come only from one side. Muslim leaders will have to play a constructive role rather than acting as grievance mongers. For instance, as the Prospect's editor David Goodhart points out, the supposedly mainstream Muslim Council of Britain could stop referring to the war in Afghanistan as a "misguided" effort that sparked an "increase in prejudice" against Muslims.

We can be fairly confident that the Paris riots will not convince immigrants in other countries to begin a European intifada. They should, however, convince European leaders to stop casting around their own continent for an effective model of integration. That model, unfortunately, doesn't yet exist. Sarkozy and Europe's other visionaries are going to have to create it on their own.

...seems like damned if you do and damned if you don't.... I still like "melting pot" versus "diversity".

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There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
It was beautiful and simple, as truly great swindles are.
- O. Henry
... The Government is on course for an embarrassing showdown with the European Union, business groups and environmental charities after refusing to guarantee that billions of pounds of revenue it stands to earn from carbon-permit trading will be spent on combating climate change.
The Independent (UK)

Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)