Day two of the Reason Foundation, http://www.reason.org/, conference that I am attending in Amsterdam has ended so here is an overview of the random insights I noted today for blogging purposes:
- Exercise -- After my morning run along the canals I did some cardio work in the hotel “fitness center” which looks more like an old guy’s basement filled with used exercise equipment which I have noticed is true of most European gyms. I mentioned my related theory on this subject to my Dutch friend -- “Dutch gyms are very limited because all you Dutch people ride bicycles but Americans drive vehicles to gyms to work out…………” -- to which my friend readily agreed.
- Germany – While talking with my German think tank friend, Wolfgang, we agreed that Chancellor (Prime Minister) Angela Merkel’s free market reform agenda for Germany has completely failed to be implemented. Due to this failure and Germany’s stagnant economy Wolfgang and I agreed that the “country of Germany” should dissolve by splitting along state lines into a group of sovereign states so current German states such as “Bavaria” would become individual nation-states recognized by the European Union, United Nations, etc. Then each state/new nation-state could choose via its own parliament whether to stay with socialism, go full throttle with capitalism, or some combination of the two systems. This would clearly be a better option than just letting Germany’s economy drift like a rudderless cruise ship.
- Apartheid -- One of the two speakers who focused on “Islamic relations” today noted that leaders in the Muslim community in France have demanded that French schools create Muslim-student only -- classes, rest rooms, and lunch room areas – perhaps this is a form of “reverse apartheid” created by the minority population (Muslims) that clearly will prevent any acculturation French leaders thought these immigrants would undergo to become “French” leading instead to a greater "us versus them" mentality.
- Civilized Societies -- At tonight’s dinner I had a very pleasant conversation with a retired Dutch Ambassador/foreign service career officer but we clearly did not agree on what the definition of a “civilized society” is which was highlighted when we started discussing income taxes. I posed the question to my dinner companion that “if the European social model – created by very excessive tax rates that capture nearly 60% of personal income when you add all forms of taxation together -- is so great why am I being asked for money by beggars on the street……...can’t these people utilize the welfare system……….?” I coupled this question with an earlier comment that the USA did not start collecting (confiscating) personal income taxes until 1913, http://www.mises.org/fullstory.aspx?control=1597, to which the Ambassador replied, “yes the USA has not evolved into the civilized society that is the Netherlands today…………..” This comment I laughed off versus taking any offense but it does have strong hints of Euro-egotism (yes, another word created by me!!). I still believe that a truly civilized society is one that lets people earn a living doing what they want as long as others are not harmed and then such a society would allow people to keep their wealth but ideally my fellow citizens would share a concern for the well being of the less fortunate by supporting worthy charities that negate the “need” for government programs.
It is always useful to attend these types of conferences to not only learn something new but to also sharpen your personal beliefs like I did today -- I clearly believe that freedom is better than “government cheese” any day of the week.
Learn don’t burn,