Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Decline & Fall of Europe

Fareed Zakaira, writing in today's Washington Post, says that although there's a lot of talk about the rise of Asia to challenge the US, the real story of the next decade will be the decline of Europe. "If present trends continue, the chief economist at the OECD argues, in 20 years the average U.S. citizen will be twice as rich as the average Frenchman or German".

Zakaira talks about one of my favorite topics - demographics - and drops in a common solution, which is to let old people work longer. However, Zakaira notes that unemployment among old people is already low and that any attempt at changing the retirement age leads to protests.

All of which is true, but even if a large number of people worked past today's retirement dates and stayed in employment until 70 or more, it would not change the fact that old people are more conservative and less dynamic than young people. Young people are more likely to take risks, start new businesses, challenge the established order.

Immigration is the only solution, but the problem with that is that it will be mostly Muslims who come to fill the void. And, it's looking increasingly likely that rather than a gradual change in society as Muslims alter the political balance, the 'native' Europeans will hold rigidly to what they have until there's some form of revolution.