Category Archives: social democratic model

26/10/18: De-democratization of our values?


Do you, my friends love that smell of napalm in the mornings? Does it fill you with confidence about the future - your own and that of the rest of the world? For if you do answer 'Yes' to both of these questions, congratulations: you've made it into the American values (on average).

Here is the data from Pew Research on public trust in institutions:
Source: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/10/18/most-americans-trust-the-military-and-scientists-to-act-in-the-publics-interest/ft_16-10-18_trustinstitutions_overview/.

Democratic cornerstones of political leadership and the media are trusted by less than 50 percent of the Americans, 27 percent to 41 percent. Command & control institution of the military is trusted by 79 percent. Scepticism over coercive power and centralized counter-democratic system based on rank-command trumps all the softy stuff. even educators are more trusted in the settings involving more deterministic decision-making (e.g. medical sciences and sciences) than in more polemical setting (e.g. general education).

But if you thought European are all softy-dofty democratically minded, think again. In fact, there is not much of difference between the American population and the European ones on the same topic:
Source: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/09/04/trust-in-the-military-exceeds-trust-in-other-institutions-in-western-europe-and-u-s/.

Yes, yes, I hear you, the choir of Patriots: but in a democratic society, military is subject to democratic checks and balances, so why is this degree of confidence in military a matter for concern?

Let me explain why:

  • Firstly, irrespective of the democratic or other checks and balances, military is not a pluralist institution that encourages debates, inquiries, and discoveries through dissent. In other words, while military may be framed into the broader democratic constraints, it cannot by itself be a genuinely democratic institution. There is no democracy in command systems. 
  • Secondly, to anyone pontificating on democratic checks and balances, may I suggest revisiting the entire modern history of the U.S. to identify exactly at what point in time did democratic checks and balances imposed onto military do their jobs before the damages were incurred? In Vietnam? Nope. In multiple military engagements in Latin America? Nope, again. In the Balkans? Not really. In Afghanistan or Iraq? Not at all. 
Thus, in real terms, checks and balances do not define a democratic set of values that put strong public preference in favour of the military ahead of much weaker preferences in favour of the immediate democratic and pluralist institutions, such as politics, media, business, education.


What is happening, thus, as revealed by the above data, is the strong drift in public preferences away from democratic and liberal foundations of our modern states and toward more command and control, more coercive power-based institutions, such as military. To paraphrase one semi-failed leader of the past: it's public values de-democratization, stupid.

26/10/18: De-democratization of our values?


Do you, my friends love that smell of napalm in the mornings? Does it fill you with confidence about the future - your own and that of the rest of the world? For if you do answer 'Yes' to both of these questions, congratulations: you've made it into the American values (on average).

Here is the data from Pew Research on public trust in institutions:
Source: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/10/18/most-americans-trust-the-military-and-scientists-to-act-in-the-publics-interest/ft_16-10-18_trustinstitutions_overview/.

Democratic cornerstones of political leadership and the media are trusted by less than 50 percent of the Americans, 27 percent to 41 percent. Command & control institution of the military is trusted by 79 percent. Scepticism over coercive power and centralized counter-democratic system based on rank-command trumps all the softy stuff. even educators are more trusted in the settings involving more deterministic decision-making (e.g. medical sciences and sciences) than in more polemical setting (e.g. general education).

But if you thought European are all softy-dofty democratically minded, think again. In fact, there is not much of difference between the American population and the European ones on the same topic:
Source: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/09/04/trust-in-the-military-exceeds-trust-in-other-institutions-in-western-europe-and-u-s/.

Yes, yes, I hear you, the choir of Patriots: but in a democratic society, military is subject to democratic checks and balances, so why is this degree of confidence in military a matter for concern?

Let me explain why:

  • Firstly, irrespective of the democratic or other checks and balances, military is not a pluralist institution that encourages debates, inquiries, and discoveries through dissent. In other words, while military may be framed into the broader democratic constraints, it cannot by itself be a genuinely democratic institution. There is no democracy in command systems. 
  • Secondly, to anyone pontificating on democratic checks and balances, may I suggest revisiting the entire modern history of the U.S. to identify exactly at what point in time did democratic checks and balances imposed onto military do their jobs before the damages were incurred? In Vietnam? Nope. In multiple military engagements in Latin America? Nope, again. In the Balkans? Not really. In Afghanistan or Iraq? Not at all. 
Thus, in real terms, checks and balances do not define a democratic set of values that put strong public preference in favour of the military ahead of much weaker preferences in favour of the immediate democratic and pluralist institutions, such as politics, media, business, education.


What is happening, thus, as revealed by the above data, is the strong drift in public preferences away from democratic and liberal foundations of our modern states and toward more command and control, more coercive power-based institutions, such as military. To paraphrase one semi-failed leader of the past: it's public values de-democratization, stupid.

28/10/17: Income Inequality: Millennials vs Baby Boomers


OECD's recent report, "Preventing Ageing Unequally", has a wealth of data and analysis relating to old-age poverty and demographic dynamics in terms of poverty evolution. One striking chart from the report shows changes in income inequality across two key demographic cohorts: the Baby Boomers (born at the start of the second half of the 20th Century) and the Millennials (born in the last two decades of the 20th Century):


Source: http://www.oecd.org/employment/preventing-ageing-unequally-9789264279087-en.htm.

The differences between two generations, controlling for age, are striking. In my opinion, the dramatic increase in income inequality across two generations in the majority of OECD economies (caveats to Ireland and Greece dynamics, and a major outliers of Switzerland, France and the Netherlands aside) is one of the core drivers for changing perceptions of the legitimacy of the democratic ethics and values when it comes to public perceptions of democracy. 

You can read more on the latter set of issues in our recent paper, here: http://trueeconomics.blogspot.com/2017/09/7917-millennials-support-for-liberal.html.

The dynamics of income inequality for the Millennials do not appear to relate to unemployment, but rather to the job markets outcomes (which seemingly are becoming more polarized between high quality jobs/careers and low quality ones):
In other words, where as in the 1950s it was sufficient to have a job to gain a place on a social progression ladder, today younger workers need to have the job (at Google, or Goldman Sachs, or other 'star' employers) to achieve the same.

Thus, as low unemployment swept across the advanced economies in the post-Global Financial Crisis recovery, there has not been a symmetric amelioration of the youth poverty rates in a number of countries:

In 25 OECD countries out of 35, poverty rates for those aged 18-25 are today higher than for those of age 65-75. Across the OECD, statistically, poverty rates for the 18-25 year olds cohort are on par with those for of 76+ year olds cohort, and both are above 12 percent. 

There is a lot that is still missing in the above comparatives. For example, the above numbers do not adjust for differences between different age groups in terms of quality of health and education. Younger workers are also healthier, as a cohort, than older population groups. This means that their incomes should be expected to be higher than older workers, simply by virtue of better health.  Younger workers are also better educated than their older counterparts, especially if we consider the same age cohorts for current Millennials and the Baby Boomers. Which also implies that their incomes should be higher and their income inequality should be lower than that for the Baby Boomers.

In other words, simple comparatives under-estimate the extent of income inequality and poverty incidence and depth for the Millennials by excluding adjustments for health and education differences.

22/10/17: Italian North: another chip off Europe’s Nirvana


Having just written about the Czech electoral pivot toward populism last night, today brings yet another  news headline from the politically-hit Europe.

In a non-binding referendums in two wealthiest Italian regions, Veneto and Lombardia, the voters have given local governments strong mandates to push for greater autonomy from Rome and the Federal Government. Both regions are dominated by the politics of Lega Nord, a conservative, autonomy-minded party with legacy of euro scepticism, strong anti-immigration sentiment and the past promotion of outright independence for the Northern Italy.

In both referendums, turnout was relatively strong by Italian standards (58% projected for Veneto and over 40% for Lombardia). And in both, exit polls suggest that some 95% of voters have opted for stronger regional autonomy.

The referendums were not about outright independence, but about wrestling more controls over fiscal and financial resources from Rome. Both regions are net contributors to the Italian State and are full of long run resentment over the alleged waste of these resources. Both regions want more money to stay local.

In reality, however, the vote is about a combination of factors, namely the EU policies toward Italy, the monetary conditions in the euro area, the long-term stagnation of the Italian economy and the centuries-old failure of Italian Federal State to reform the economy and the society of the Southern Italian regions. Italy today is saddled with stagnation, huge youth unemployment, lack of business dynamism, weak entrepreneurship, dysfunctional financial institutions, high taxes, failing and extremely heterogenous public services, collapsed demographics and centuries-old divisions. Some of these problems are european in nature. But majority are Italian.

Greater autonomy for wealthier regions, in my view, is a part of the solution to the long running problems, because it will create a set of new, stronger incentives for the Southern regions to reform. But in the end, it is hard to imagine the state like Italy sustaining its membership in the euro area without an outright federalization of the EU.

In the nutshell, within a span of few weeks, the dormant political volcano of the Europe has gone from stone cold to erupting. Spain, Austria, Czech, & Italy are in flames. Late-stage lava flows have been pouring across Poland, Hungary and the UK, Slovakia and parts of the Baltics for months and years. Tremors in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, (especially Eastern Germany) and Finland, as well as occasional flares of populist/extremist activity in other parts of the Paradise are ongoing. And, it is only a matter of time before populism resurges in France.

All of this with a background of stronger economic growth and booming markets. So wait till the next crisis/recession/market correction hits...

21/10/17: Prague Pages Brussels… Following Vienna


Just after Austria, the Czech Republic too has swung decisively in the direction of embracing populism as Populist billionaire's Eurosceptic party wins big in Czech Republic.

As Radio Praha describes it: "The Czech Donald Trump or Silvio Berlusconi, maverick millionaire, political populist, mould breaker; these are all labels that have been tagged on to ANO leader Andrej Babiš".

Jakub Patocka for the Guardian: "Open racism has become a normal part of public discourse. Trust in democratic institutions and the European Union has been crumbling before our eyes. It is shocking how easily and quickly this has happened. Many Czechs are going to the polls with grim fears for the future. A broad coalition of democratic parties is not likely to have enough votes to control parliament. Apart from the far right, communists and a peculiar Czech version of the Pirate party are expected to do well."

The headlines from Prague are sounding more like something the 'Kremlin-backed' news outlets would produce. Except, they are printed by the mainstream international media this time around.

But things are much worse than Babis and ANO victory and 29.8 percent of the vote implies. Four out of top five parties by voting results are now parties with populist leanings, far removed from the traditional Czech elites. The mainstream opposition conservative party, the Civic Democrats, are now a distant second with only 11.2 percent of the vote. Czech Republic's "most radical anti-migration, anti-Islam and anti-EU party, Freedom and Direct Democracy", came in the third place with 10.8 percent of the vote, statistically indistinguishable from the Civic Democrats. Another populist party - the Pirate party - is on 10.6 percent with a Parliamentary representation for the first time in its history. And the Communists got 7.9 percent. In simple terms, more than 59 percent of the voters have gone either extreme Left or extreme Right of the Centre, and backed populist politics.


Credit: Petr David Josek/Associated Press

In a recent paper, we explain how the trends amongst younger voters around the world are shifting away from support for liberal democratic values. These shifts are now starting to translate into votes.
Corbet, Shaen and Gurdgiev, Constantin, Millennials’ Support for Liberal Democracy Is Failing: A Deep Uncertainty Perspective (August 7, 2017): https://ssrn.com/abstract=3033949