Good Reads: on euro dreams, spoiled American children, and Pakistan
A survey of the best reads this week provides a look into the eurocrisis, Americans' concerns about their values and their children, and the geographical reasons why Pakistan is messed up.
The euro: doomed again
Just a few weeks ago it looked like Europe’s single-currency deal was beginning to settle down.Skip to next paragraph
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The Greeks had elected a new government that was willing, finally, to negotiate and chip away at all of their expensive social benefits (and deal with their debt). The French had elected a government that was popular and would have the mandate to make tough choices.
Now, Europe is back to “imagining the unthinkable,” as Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine puts it. German central bank officers are starting to think that the collapse of Europe’s common currency, the euro, is a “very likely scenario.”
IN PICTURES: Europe in crisis
That’s bad not just for “old Europe,” but for America and anyone else who might have wanted the global economy to pull out of the current doldrums. As Der Spiegel puts it:
It would be a dream for nationalist politicians, and a nightmare for the economy. Everything that has grown together in two decades of euro history would have to be painstakingly torn apart. Millions of contracts, business relationships and partnerships would have to be reassessed, while thousands of companies would need protection from bankruptcy. All of Europe would plunge into a deep recession. Governments, which would be forced to borrow additional billions to meet their needs, would face the choice between two unattractive options: either to drastically increase taxes or to impose significant financial burdens on their citizens in the form of higher inflation.
American values, revisited
Thankfully, our Founding Fathers had the foresight to put a very large and deep body of water (the Atlantic Ocean) between us and Europe. Newspaper pundits periodically remind us that the American values that built this country into the resilient economic power (hard work, faith, self-sacrifice) will carry America through even rough economic waters.
Values change, of course, and a recent poll by The Atlantic magazine and the Aspen Institute shows us how much.
In the survey, two thirds of respondents said the country was going in the wrong direction, 70 percent said that people’s values were getting worse, and 46 percent thought that American values were likely to decline even further in the future.
Here’s my question: Did the respondents think that their own values were getting worse, or that the values of all those other bad people out there were getting worse? The survey suggests the latter.
Half of the respondents admitted that they rarely attend church. But more than 62 percent said they believe they are more tolerant of other people's values than their parents were.
The problem with America, it appears, is other Americans.
More than 77 percent believe that people are generally motivated by self-interest, 71 percent believe elected officials reflect the values of the wealthy (rather than the middle class), and 89 percent believe the values of American executives on Wall Street are worse than those of ordinary Americans, because they are just plain greedy.