Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The labour laws induce sloth, indolence

An interesting article by Ian Morris of Stanford University in BBC News Magazine:

In 2011, we are used to reading in the newspapers that China is a crass, corrupt, economic giant, manipulating its currency and rigging the markets to catch up with the West. Back in 1911, though, British newspapers levelled exactly the same charges against the USA. And they were right. Within 50 years, the US had conquered the world's markets and the European empires were gone.

A disaster for Europe - or was it? In 2011 the average European lives 30 years longer than the average in 1911 and earns five times as much. Europe is far freer than it was in 1911 and has not had a major war in 66 years. All things considered, losing its number one spot and becoming dependent on American capital was a good deal for 20th Century Europe.

Will dependency on Chinese capital in the 21st Century be equally good?

No one knows, but the signs are not promising. Just last week, Jin Liqun, the supervising chairman of China's sovereign wealth fund, told an al-Jazeera interviewer that Beijing should only lend to Europe if the EU turns itself upside down.

"If you look at the troubles which happened in European countries," said Jin. "This is purely because of the accumulated troubles of the worn out welfare society… The labour laws induce sloth, indolence, rather than hard working." Europe might find Chinese economic hegemony much harder to live with than an American one.

Jin is right, and though Europeans may find the transition difficult, our deeply immoral, unfunded welfare state must die. I'm sure the British at the turn of the last century would have looked on our modern society with the same contempt.

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