Friday, January 22, 2010

lobbyists get potent campaign weapon


NYTimes | WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has handed a new weapon to lobbyists. If you vote wrong, a lobbyist can now tell any elected official that my company, labor union or interest group will spend unlimited sums explicitly advertising against your re-election.

“We have got a million we can spend advertising for you or against you — whichever one you want,’ ” a lobbyist can tell lawmakers, said Lawrence M. Noble, a lawyer at Skadden Arps in Washington and former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission.

The decision seeks to let voters choose for themselves among a multitude of voices and ideas when they go to the polls, but it will also increase the power of organized interest groups at the expense of candidates and political parties.

It is expected to unleash a torrent of attack advertisements from outside groups aiming to sway voters, without any candidate having to take the criticism for dirty campaigning. The biggest beneficiaries might be well-placed incumbents whose favor companies and interests groups are eager to court. It could also have a big impact on state and local governments, where a few million dollars can have more influence on elections.

The ruling comes at a time when influence-seekers of all kinds have special incentives to open their wallets. Amid the economic crisis, the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats are trying to rewrite the rules for broad swaths of the economy, from Detroit to Wall Street. Republicans, meanwhile, see a chance for major gains in November.

Democrats predicted that Republicans would benefit most from the decision, because they are the traditional allies of big corporations, who have more money to spend than unions.

In a statement shortly after the decision, President Obama called it “a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics.”

not even a very wise latina could save the day...,

WaPo | FOR MORE THAN a century, Congress has recognized the danger of letting corporations use their wealth to wield undue influence in political campaigns. The Supreme Court had upheld these efforts. But Thursday, making a mockery of some justices' pretensions to judicial restraint, the Supreme Court unnecessarily and wrongly ruled 5 to 4 that the constitutional guarantee of free speech means that corporations can spend unlimited sums to help elect favored candidates or defeat those they oppose. This, as the dissenting justices wrote, "threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the nation."

This result was unnecessary because the court's conservative majority -- including supposed exemplars of judicial modesty -- lunged to make a broad constitutional ruling when narrower grounds were available. It was wrong because nothing in the First Amendment dictates that corporations must be treated identically to people. And it was dangerous because corporate money, never lacking in the American political process, may now overwhelm both the contributions of individuals and the faith they may harbor in their democracy.

The majority found its pretext in the documentary "Hillary: The Movie," produced by a conservative group called Citizens United and released during the 2008 primaries. Citizens United wanted to make the movie -- "a feature-length negative advertisement," the court termed it -- available as a video-on-demand accessible through cable television. That brought into play a provision, part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, that bars corporate and union political advertising close to the time of an election. That provision applied to Citizens United because the group is organized as a nonprofit corporation and because it takes a small amount of corporate donations. In our view, Citizens United should have been free to distribute the anti-Clinton documentary. The relevant McCain-Feingold provision could have been interpreted to permit such speech by a clearly ideological, as opposed to commercial, for-profit corporation.

Instead, the court's five-member majority went much further. It overruled a 1990 decision that upheld a state law prohibiting independent corporate expenditures in political campaigns. It overruled its own 2003 decision upholding the same provision of McCain-Feingold that it struck down Thursday -- so much for respect for precedent.

"We find no basis for the proposition that, in the context of political speech, the Government may impose restrictions on certain disfavored speakers," the court said in an opinion by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. Rules against direct corporate contributions to candidates still stand, but corporations are now free to engage in unlimited independent expenditures, something that Congress has banned since 1947. Fist tap Nana who called it first in yesterday's comments.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

copenhagen and economic growth?

EnergyBulletin | As noted here routinely in my writings and in the Crash Course, we have an exponential monetary system. One mandatory feature of our current exponential monetary system is the need for perpetual growth. Not just any kind of growth; exponential growth. That's the price for paying interest on money loaned into existence. Without that growth, our monetary system shudders to a halt and shifts into reverse, operating especially poorly and threatening to melt down the entire economic edifice.

This is so well understood, explicitly or implicitly, throughout all the layers of society and in our various institutions, that you will only ever hear politicians and bankers talking about the "need" for growth.

In fact, they are correct; our system does need growth. All debt-based money systems require growth. That is the resulting feature of loaning one's money into existence. That's the long and the short of the entire story. The growth may seem modest, perhaps a few percent per year ('That's all, honest!'), but therein lies the rub. Any continuous percentage growth is still exponential growth.

Exponential growth means not just a little bit more each year, but a constantly growing amount each year. It is a story of more. Every year needs slightly more than the prior year - that's the requirement.

The Gap
Nobody has yet reconciled the vast intellectual and practical gap that exists between our addiction to exponential growth and the carbon reduction rhetoric coming out of Copenhagen. I've yet to see any credible plan that illustrates how we can grow our economy without using more energy.

Is it somehow possible to grow an economy without using more energy? Let's explore that concept for a bit.

What does it mean to "grow an economy?" Essentially, it means more jobs for more people producing and consuming more things. That's it. An economy, as we measure it, consists of delivering the needs and wants of people in ever-larger quantities. It's those last three words - ever-larger quantities - that defines the whole problem.

a desert mirage

WaPo | Every home builder in the country would probably describe 2009 as an "annus horribilis." But Las Vegas builders Adam Knecht and Ernie Domanico had a particularly horrible year.

Last January, their construction company, Domanico Custom Homes, was breaking ground for the New American Home, which was supposed to be a spectacular show house and a centerpiece of the International Builders Show, scheduled to open in Las Vegas next week.

Instead, the New American Home all too accurately reflects the state of luxury home building -- and the ravaged Las Vegas market. Unable to secure financing, the builders lost the unfinished home to foreclosure in December.

Rob Williams, the architect who designed the home, said he could have incorporated most of the showcased products in a house half as big, but the project was intended to be a "dream house" that demanded extravagance.

Its sprawling footprint is bookended by a capacious master suite at one end of the first floor and a grandparent suite at the other. The second floor includes three large bedrooms, each with its own bath, and a "man cave," a large room intended to be a hangout for Dad and his pals to play cards, shoot pool -- and watch six televisions simultaneously.

Despite this year's fiasco, the NCHI remains enthusiastic about its New American Home program, Bernard said. The builder for next year's 8,500-square-foot house in Orlando just got building permits and is going full speed ahead to meet the September deadline.

Knecht has left the family business and is moving into an emerging niche in the Las Vegas market, buying partially built foreclosures, finishing construction and selling them. He said Domanico remains in business, though the phone number was not in service when a reporter called.

system failure

The Nation | There is a widespread consensus that the decade we've just brought to a close was singularly disastrous for the country: the list of scandals, crises and crimes is so long that events that in another context would stand out as genuine lowlights--Enron and Arthur Andersen's collapse, the 2003 Northeast blackout, the unsolved(!) anthrax attacks--are mere afterthoughts. We still don't have a definitive name for this era, though Paul Krugman's 2003 book The Great Unraveling captures well the sense of slow, inexorable dissolution; and the final crisis of the era, what we call the Great Recession, similarly expresses the sense that even our disasters aren't quite epic enough to be cataclysmic. But as a character in Tracy Letts's 2007 Pulitzer Prize-winning play, August: Osage County, says, "Dissipation is actually much worse than cataclysm."

American progressives were the first to identify that something was deeply wrong with the direction the country was heading in and the first to provide a working hypothesis for the cause: George W. Bush. During the initial wave of antiwar mobilization, in 2002, much of the ire focused on Bush himself. But as the decade stretched on, the causal account of the country's problems grew outward in concentric circles: from Bush to his administration (most significantly, Cheney) to the Republican Party to--finally (and not inaccurately)--the entire project of conservative governance.

As much of the country came to share some version of this view (tenuously, but share it they did), the result was a series of Democratic electoral sweeps and a generation of Americans, the Millennials, with more liberal views than any of their elder cohorts. But it always seemed possible that the sheer reactionary insanity of the Bush administration would have a conservatizing effect on the American polity. Because things had gone so wrong, it was a more than natural reaction to long for the good old days; the Clinton years, characterized by deregulation and bubbles, seemed tantalizingly placid and prosperous in retrospect. The atavistic imperialism of the Bush administration had a way of making the pre-Bush foreign policy of soft imperialism and subtle bullying look positively saintly.

Toward the end of the decade, as the establishment definitively rebuked Bush and sought to distance itself from his failures, the big-tent center-left coalition took on an influential constituency--the Colin Powells and Warren Buffetts--who didn't want reform so much as they wanted restoration. This was reflected in a strange internal tension in the Obama campaign rhetoric that simultaneously promised both: change you can believe in and, as Obama said at a March 2008 appearance in Pennsylvania, a foreign policy that is "actually a return to the traditional bipartisan realistic policy of George Bush's father."

If the working hypothesis that bound this unwieldy coalition together--independents, most liberals and the Washington establishment--was that the nation's troubles were chiefly caused by the occupants of the White House, then this past year has served as a kind of natural experiment. We changed the independent variable (the party and people in power) and can observe the results. It is hard, I think, to come to any conclusion but that the former hypothesis was insufficient.

So what, exactly, is it that ails us?

the rule of law has been lost

Creator's Syndicate | As Lawrence Stratton and I show in our book, "The Tyranny of Good Intentions" (2000), the protective features of law in the U.S. were eroded in the twentieth century by prosecutorial abuse and by setting aside law in order to better pursue criminals. By the time of our second edition (2008), law as a shield of the people no longer existed. Respect for the Constitution and rule of law had given way to executive branch claims that during time of war government is not constrained by law or Constitution.

Government lawyers told President Bush that he did not have to obey the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which prohibits the government from spying on citizens without a warrant, thus destroying the right to privacy. The U.S. Department of Justice ruled that the President did not have to obey U.S. law prohibiting torture or the Geneva Conventions. Habeas corpus protection, a Constitutional right, was stripped from U.S. citizens. Medieval dungeons, torture, and the windowless cells of Stalin's Lubyanka Prison reappeared under American government auspices.

The American people's elected representatives in Congress endorsed the executive branch's overthrow of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Law schools and bar associations were essentially silent in the face of this overthrow of mankind's greatest achievement. Some parts of the federal judiciary voted with the executive branch; other parts made a feeble resistance. Today in the name of "the war on terror," the executive branch does whatever it wants. There is no accountability.

The First Amendment has been abridged and may soon be criminalized. Protests against, and criticisms of, the U.S. government's illegal invasions of Muslim countries and war crimes against civilian populations have been construed by executive branch officials as "giving aid and comfort to the enemy." As American citizens have been imprisoned for giving aid to Muslim charities that the executive branch has decreed, without proof in a court of law, to be under the control of "terrorists," any form of opposition to the government's wars and criminal actions can also be construed as aiding terrorists and be cause for arrest and indefinite detention.

One Obama appointee, Harvard law professor Cass Sunstein, advocates that the U.S. government create a cadre of covert agents to infiltrate anti-war groups and groups opposed to U.S. government policies in order to provoke them into actions or statements for which they can be discredited and even arrested.

Sunstein defines those who criticize the government's increasingly lawless behavior as "extremists," which, to the general public, sounds much like "terrorists." In essence, Sunstein wants to generalize the F.B.I.'s practice of infiltrating dissidents and organizing them around a "terrorist plot" in order to arrest them. That this proposal comes from a Harvard Law School professor demonstrates the collapse of respect for law among American law professors themselves, ranging from John Yoo at Berkeley, the advocate of torture, to Sunstein at Harvard, a totalitarian who advocates war on the First Amendment.

tea-bagger brown triumphs

The Phoenix | Brown’s election is in a category of its own. There is no escaping the fact that, in electing a right-wing Republican to take Kennedy’s place, Massachusetts is sending America a message: the nation’s middle-of-the road independents have been radicalized.

Congressional Democrats and Obama enjoy their majority at the sufferance of independents. But every indicator now screams that independents have lost faith in Democrats, just as a little more than a year ago they lost faith in Republicans.

Though public-opinion polls show that a majority of independents may still like and even admire Obama, their tolerance for his political performance is shrinking fast. Obama’s noble and necessary experiment with bipartisanship has failed. Republicans — hard-pressed by the Tea Party movement — are dedicated to little more than his destruction.

Obama and the Democrats may have stopped the economic decline, but they have failed to reverse it. People fear for their jobs, and for their families.

This worry is tangible and visceral. Independents want jobs more than health-care reform; they want bank loans for their small businesses, mortgages for their houses, and colleges they can afford for their kids. It is all about economics.

The paradox is that, at the moment, the federal government must intervene to bring these conditions about. But neither Democrats nor Republicans have given independent voters sufficient reason to trust Washington.

Obama’s challenge is to find a way to cut through the special interests that hold the Democrats hostage. The Republicans are a lost cause. Lose independents and he loses the nation.Justify Full

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

subtext

TimesOnline | The US army is training a crack unit to seal off and snatch back Pakistani nuclear weapons in the event that militants, possibly from inside the country’s security apparatus, get their hands on a nuclear device or materials that could make one.

The specialised unit would be charged with recovering the nuclear materials and securing them.

The move follows growing anti-Americanism in Pakistan’s military, a series of attacks on sensitive installations over the past two years, several of which housed nuclear facilities, and rising tension that has seen a series of official complaints by US authorities to Islamabad in the past fortnight.

“What you have in Pakistan is nuclear weapons mixed with the highest density of extremists in the world, so we have a right to be concerned,” said Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a former CIA officer who used to run the US energy department’s intelligence unit. “There have been attacks on army bases which stored nuclear weapons and there have been breaches and infiltrations by terrorists into military facilities.”

Professor Shaun Gregory, director of the Pakistan security research unit at Bradford University, has tracked a number of attempted security breaches since 2007. “The terrorists are at the gates,” he warned.

In a counterterrorism journal, published by America’s West Point military academy, he documented three incidents. The first was an attack in November 2007 at Sargodha in Punjab, where nuclearcapable F-16 jet aircraft are thought to be stationed. The following month a suicide bomber struck at Pakistan’s nuclear airbase at Kamra in Attock district. In August 2008 a group of suicide bombers blew up the gates to a weapons complex at the Wah cantonment in Punjab, believed to be one of Pakistan’s nuclear warhead assembly plants. The attack left 63 people dead.

A further attack followed at Kamra last October. Pakistan denies that the base still has a nuclear role, but Gregory believes it does. A six-man suicide team was arrested in Sargodha last August.

Fears that militants could penetrate a nuclear facility intensified after a brazen attack on army headquarters in Rawalpindi in October when 10 gunmen wearing army uniforms got inside and laid siege for 22 hours. Last month there was an attack on the naval command centre in Islamabad.

never before campaign

the way, the truth, and the light....,

gummint run roads

The Beast | As the debate continues to rage on over whether or not the U.S. should include a public, government-funded plan in its healthcare reform, many citizens abruptly noticed that the federal government funds and regulates all Interstate Highways in the nation, and has done so for over 50 years.

Now, many are up in arms over the largest public works project in history, which has somehow gone unnoticed since the mid-20th century.

"I can't believe I didn't think of this before," said conservative analyst Paul Dobson, slapping his forehead in disbelief. "We were all so focused on the idea of the government ruining healthcare forever that we forgot how President Eisenhower -- who was obviously tricked by President Barack Hussein Obama -- already ruined our highways by building and then socializing them in the 1950s."

Dobson further clarified that Obama is not a U.S. citizen, but rather a time-traveling fiend who was born in the strange, alien fields of Mars.

Republican Senator Jim DeMint agreed, saying that like public healthcare, the government-funded Interstate is unconstitutional.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

al qaeda's rogue air network

NYTimes | TIMBUKTU, Mali (Reuters) - In early 2008, an official at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security sent a report to his superiors detailing what he called "the most significant development in the criminal exploitation of aircraft since 9/11."

The document warned that a growing fleet of rogue jet aircraft was regularly crisscrossing the Atlantic Ocean. On one end of the air route, it said, are cocaine-producing areas in the Andes controlled by the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. On the other are some of West Africa's most unstable countries.

The report, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, was ignored, and the problem has since escalated into what security officials in several countries describe as a global security threat.

The clandestine fleet has grown to include twin-engine turboprops, executive jets and retired Boeing 727s that are flying multi-ton loads of cocaine and possibly weapons to an area in Africa where factions of al Qaeda are believed to be facilitating the smuggling of drugs to Europe, the officials say.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has been held responsible for car and suicide bombings in Algeria and Mauritania. Gunmen and bandits linked to the group have also stepped up kidnappings of Europeans, who are then passed on to AQIM factions seeking ransom payments.

The aircraft hopscotch across South American countries, picking up tons of cocaine and jet fuel, officials say. They then soar across the Atlantic to West Africa and the Sahel, where the drugs are funneled across the Sahara Desert and into Europe.

An examination of documents and interviews with officials in the United States and three West African nations suggest that at least 10 aircraft have been discovered using this air route since 2006. Officials warn that many of these aircraft were detected purely by chance. They warn that the real number involved in the networks is likely considerably higher. Fist tap my man Dale.

shades of prejudice

NYTimes | The Senate leader’s choice of words was flawed, but positing that black candidates who look “less black” have a leg up is hardly more controversial than saying wealthy people have an advantage in elections. Dozens of research studies have shown that skin tone and other racial features play powerful roles in who gets ahead and who does not. These factors regularly determine who gets hired, who gets convicted and who gets elected.

Consider: Lighter-skinned Latinos in the United States make $5,000 more on average than darker-skinned Latinos. The education test-score gap between light-skinned and dark-skinned African-Americans is nearly as large as the gap between whites and blacks.

The Harvard neuroscientist Allen Counter has found that in Arizona, California and Texas, hundreds of Mexican-American women have suffered mercury poisoning as a result of the use of skin-whitening creams. In India, where I was born, a best-selling line of women’s cosmetics called Fair and Lovely has recently been supplemented by a product aimed at men called Fair and Handsome.

This isn’t racism, per se: it’s colorism, an unconscious prejudice that isn’t focused on a single group like blacks so much as on blackness itself. Our brains, shaped by culture and history, create intricate caste hierarchies that privilege those who are physically and culturally whiter and punish those who are darker.

Colorism is an intraracial problem as well as an interracial problem. Racial minorities who are alert to white-black or white-brown issues often remain silent about a colorism that asks “how black” or “how brown” someone is within their own communities.

If colorism lives underground, its effects are very real. Darker-skinned African-American defendants are more than twice as likely to receive the death penalty as lighter-skinned African-American defendants for crimes of equivalent seriousness involving white victims. This was proven in rigorous, peer-reviewed research into hundreds of capital punishment-worthy cases by the Stanford psychologist Jennifer Eberhardt.
____________________________________________________________________
Shankar Vedantam, a Nieman fellow at Harvard University and a reporter for The Washington Post, is the author of the book “The Hidden Brain: How Our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars and Save Our Lives.”

the telescope effect

WaPo | The evidence for what I am going to call the telescope effect comes from a series of experiments. Psychologist Paul Slovic of the University of Oregon asked two groups of volunteers shortly after the Rwandan genocide to imagine they were officials in charge of a humanitarian rescue effort. Both groups were told their money could save 4,500 lives at a refugee camp, but one group was told the refugee camp had 11,000 people, whereas the other group was told the refugee camp had 250,000 people. Slovic found that people were much more reluctant to spend the money on the large camp than they were to spend the money on the small camp.

Intrigued, Slovic pressed further. He asked different groups of volunteers to imagine they were running a philanthropic foundation. Would they rather spend $10 million to save 10,000 lives from a disease that caused 15,000 deaths a year, or save 20,000 lives from a disease that killed 290,000 people a year? Overwhelmingly, volunteers preferred to spend money saving the 10,000 lives rather than the 20,000 lives. Rather than tailor their investments to saving the largest number of lives, people sought to save the largest proportion of lives among the different groups of victims.

We respond to mass suffering in much the same way that we respond to most things in our lives. We fall back on rules of thumb, on feelings, on intuitions. People who choose to spend money saving 10,000 lives rather than 20,000 lives are not bad people. Rather, like those who spend thousands of dollars to find a single dog rather than directing the same amount of money to save a dozen dogs, they are merely allowing their hidden brain to guide them.

Our empathic telescopes are activated when we hear a single cry for help -- the child drowning in the pond, the dog abandoned on an ocean. When we think of human suffering on a mass scale, our telescope does not work, because it has not been designed to work in such situations. Humans are the only species that is even aware of large-scale suffering taking place in distant lands; the moral telescope in our brain has not had a chance to evolve and catch up with our technological advances. Our conscious minds can tell us that it is absurd to spend a boatload of money to save one life when the same money could be used to save 10. But in moral decision-making, as in many other domains of life where we are unaware of how unconscious biases influence us, it is the hidden brain that usually carries the day.

he's baaack.....,

bad bubbles....,

Monday, January 18, 2010

the new narrative (reality correction)

Independent | After 40 years of defeat and failure, America's "war on drugs" is being buried in the same fashion as it was born – amid bloodshed, confusion, corruption and scandal. US agents are being pulled from South America; Washington is putting its narcotics policy under review, and a newly confident region is no longer prepared to swallow its fatal Prohibition error. Indeed, after the expenditure of billions of dollars and the violent deaths of tens of thousands of people, a suitable epitaph for America's longest "war" may well be the plan, in Bolivia, for every family to be given the right to grow coca in its own backyard.

The "war", declared unilaterally throughout the world by Richard Nixon in 1969, is expiring as its strategists start discarding plans that have proved futile over four decades: they are preparing to withdraw their agents from narcotics battlefields from Colombia to Afghanistan and beginning to coach them in the art of trumpeting victory and melting away into anonymous defeat. Not surprisingly, the new strategy is being gingerly aired in the media of the US establishment, from The Wall Street Journal to the Miami Herald.

Prospects in the new decade are thus opening up for vast amounts of useless government expenditure being reassigned to the treatment of addicts instead of their capture and imprisonment. And, no less important, the ever-expanding balloon of corruption that the "war" has brought to heads of government, armies and police forces wherever it has been waged may slowly start to deflate.

operational assimilation of the new narrative

NYTimes | The United States attorney in Manhattan is merging the two units in his office that prosecute terrorism and international narcotics cases, saying that he wants to focus more on extremist Islamic groups whose members he believes are increasingly turning to the drug trade to finance their activities.

Some Western law enforcement and intelligence agencies have long pointed to what they say are the symbiotic relationships that sometimes exist between terrorist groups and narcotics traffickers, from Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Hezbollah in the Middle East to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

But the move by the United States attorney, Preet Bharara, comes as United States officials have suggested that some members of Islamic extremist groups, including Al Qaeda and some of its affiliates, are more frequently turning to the drug trade — as well as kidnapping and other criminal activities — to help finance their operations.

It is, they say, partly a response to increased pressure on other financial sources, like Islamic charities and private donors.

By merging the units, Terrorism and National Security and International Narcotics Trafficking, Mr. Bharara said he is combining two groups that have developed many of the same skills — working overseas, often using classified information, to build complex cases against sophisticated targets.

is he lying?

blackouts and byzantine delusions

ViewfromBrittany | Europe has another problem, which largely monoethnic America tends to overlook. It is not culturally homogeneous. America certainly has varied regional cultures and a number of dispersed minorities, but on the whole it has the same general culture from Boston to Los-Angeles. The territorial minorities are tiny and far between. The only sizable one is the Navajo nation, numbering 180.000 and while American routinely talk about secession and civil war, very few regional entities have enough legitimacy and political clout to actually secede. As for the secessionist organizations which surface sometimes in the news... let's say that my own organization is present in the regional government, and we are not particularly big by European standards.

Europe, on the other hand, is divided into some thirty nation states and a larger number of stateless nations, people and territorial communities, some of them quite large. As the amount of resource available to European societies decrease, this mix of deep-rooted internal divisions and of very advanced depletion may prove deadly. The existence of reasonably large sub-state territorial communities will provide future post-collapse polities with a stability those born from the beak-up of an homogeneous society will lack, but conflicts between a failing but still control-avid state and its territorial minorities can be incredibly destructive, especially if the border are not well defined or in areas of mixed identities or ethnicity.

In fact, if Europe has a counterpart in the late Roman Empire, it is poor, dependent and tribal Britain.

This fascination with an Europe which is quite likely to collapse quicker and deeper than America, tells in fact more about the delusions of some activists than about the supposed advantages of the European model. Those who feel that the current system doesn't give them what they deserve – and those are often the same as those who wishes it to collapse – often look away to some far away country – the farther the better, which, in their eyes, embodies all the virtues their homeland supposedly lacks.