esmaspäev, juuli 21, 2008

a real economy

In case you haven't heard, the American economy is a bit jittery at the moment. The real estate market is not well, the large investment companies are trying to stay afloat during the national credit crisis, and gas costs alot more than it used to cost.

And yet, the SUV drivers soldier on, filling up on oversized foodstuffs at gigantic supermarket chains, making pitstops at the local Starbucks to buy a coffee that costs about as much as a whole bag of coffee elsewhere, and generally spending themselves silly on consumer items they do not need, nor can afford.

But there is trouble in the air. People are beginning to realize that they have been living way above their means for quite some time. When I was in high school, it was the high school students who had the shittiest vehicles. Several years afterwards though, one would not be shocked to see a caravan of teenage girls all go driving past in a BMW on the way to the beach, expensive cellphone in manicured hand.

The reality is that people couldn't afford those goods back then, and they are starting to understand that they cannot actually afford them now. When I was younger and trying to figure out the principle of credit, I understood it as borrowing money from my future self to pay for things I need today. What I think is occuring in 2008, is that we have now become our future selves, and we are angry with our past selves for incurring all this debt.

In some ways we have been ahead of the curb. I sold a lot of belongings to get rid of our credit card debt back in 2006. Since then, I have tried to operate on the principle of the "real economy" -- making financial judgements based on the amount of money actually in your bank account -- versus the "fake economy" -- making financial judgements based on future wealth generated by a hypothetical miracle market.

I think that Estonia is in the same boat here too. Like Americans, Estonians came to think that they deserved to drive the most expensive cars and could afford the most ambitious renovation projects or vacations. I mean, they had been stuck in the post-Soviet economic toilet for so long, that they were owed only the finest quality consumer goods. Estonia was now the West, and Estonians would live like their Norwegian or Swedish compatriots.

Except it took a long time for those countries themselves to become wealthy, and their high standard of living owes a high debt not to just Nokia or Ericsson, but also to, gasp, wealth redistribution. Moreover, they also are learning that they can no longer afford to live so extravagantly. Needless to say, the Swedes and Danes aren't all speeding to their summer cottages in BMW 3 Series; many are probably taking the family Volvo instead. Thrift is a Scandinavian virtue, and it is one that is probably being rediscovered in Estonia on a daily basis.

In some ways, I liken the economic forboding to a well-deserved diet. We've eaten ourselves fat and now it's time to ration our supplies. But the American shoppers in the supermarket are going to need to start rationing soon. The morbidly obese have a lot of weight to lose indeed. I wonder what products they'll cut out first.

54 kommentaari:

In NY state ütles ...

I think Estonia was also helped along by the neo-con idiots running the US, which is why their economic outlook is currently mirroring that of the US.

When the Iron Curtain fell, it was the right wing ideologues and their koolaid that flooded the East looking for ways to leverage all the goods into their own hands, all the while proclaiming the mantra of free-markets.

Estonia is getting off lightly, considering what the fee-marketeers managed to pull off in Rossia in the 1990's and now in Iraq, all under name of re-construction.

Jüri Saar ütles ...

"Except it took a long time for those countries themselves to become wealthy, and their high standard of living owes a high debt not to just Nokia or Ericsson, but also to, gasp, wealth redistribution."

This is what's called a baseless claim. Wealth is NOT created by redestributing it through an inefficent bureaucracy where deadweight loss is an unavoidable part of the system.

As to car size in the US, people are responding to incentives as they always have. At the present time it means compact cars are sold out and the after market for used compacts is booming:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/02/business/02auto.html

Steroetypes are easy, too easy for a writer of your caliber.

To: in ny state: the local economic issues have nothing what so ever to do with the "neocon idiots".

Giustino ütles ...

Wealth is NOT created by redestributing it through an inefficent bureaucracy where deadweight loss is an unavoidable part of the system.

I didn't say it was created in such a system -- but you'd be hard pressed to argue that old people in Sweden don't have it better off than pensioners in Estonia.

How did they get that higher standard of living? Surely they do not all own stock in these wealth-generating Swedish companies.

In Estonia, we have such lovely new buildings and lovely new cars and lovely new technology, and yet grandma and grandpa are still using a rusty toilet in the countryside. Why is that?

To: in ny state: the local economic issues have nothing what so ever to do with the "neocon idiots".

Estonian liberalism is not dissimilar to American neoconservatism in that each school has its thinkers and ideology and the politicians that subscribe to each school suffer from the inability to rationally judge the merits of that ideology.

Hirnu-Hrnx! ütles ...

I do not know what it would take to have people cut down on their lifestyles here. I was at a wine tasting party yesterday and driving through the countryside, every damn dumb redneck was driving his shiny Chevy Suburban or Tahoe with and estonian-like disregard to gravity and with implied (financial) death wish. These dudes were gunning their wallet suckers at 80 miles per hour like there was no tomorrow.

What can you say? People are people everywhere.

And then ... there's people liek me - test driving the new Smart car last weekend, 10 years too late to arrive to these shores.

On the other hand, let us not gripe. Herd mentality can be good if you understand where it leads to. Once you know that, you can come out way ahead. Like these guys: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601213&sid=aNDnqybULZdo&refer=home

Live and learn.

Hirnu-Hrnx! ütles ...

Rusty toilet in a country side? The only thing to rust in an outhouse is the nail where they hang the squares of newspaper for asswiping.

(Sorry for taking you a notch closer to the reality. Don't blame me, I am, as always, merely pointing to the facts.)

You are just too kind, G. Too kind.

In NY state ütles ...

Well, claiming that all re-distribution and all bureaucracy is the bain of wealth creation is one of the facile claims of the laissez-faire, neo-con, free-marketers.

The problem is that periods of laisseze faire capitalism lead to boom-bust cycles. And then the Great Depression of the 1930's, which involved a global bust (aka a deflationary period when all the illusory paper wealth was destroyed) caused most governments to re-evaluate their economic policies.

FDR's genius, by putting brakes on the capitalist system and trying to manage it, ultimately allowed for the great wealth created in the US during the last half of the 20th Century.

The US middle class, as we have known it, did not exist prior to the 1950's. During the first half of the 20th century, the working class, aka the working poor, was the largest socio-economic group in the US.

So when conservatives hearken back to the 1950's as their ideal period, it is truly ironic. The 1950's were FDR's programs in action and it fueled an incredibly strong economy.

It took the fiscal conservatives in the US until the 1980's to highjack that system. And we now can see the consequences of their greed and corruption: we are on the brink of another period of incredible asset destruction.

So, no, I do not believe that the wealthy (and here is where Keynes comes in), especially as most inherited their wealth, are really great wealth creators. If anything, they are even greater parasites than the non-existent, proverbial welfare queen.

Andres ütles ...

In Estonia, we have such lovely new buildings and lovely new cars and lovely new technology, and yet grandma and grandpa are still using a rusty toilet in the countryside. Why is that?

Probably because we didn't pay for most of them? The Scandinavians did, in a sense. But now they kind of "own our souls". Estonia might have "new shiny technology" but it's all imported anyway. We can't make anything nice and shiny ourselves. The only things we're good at making are food stuffs and raw wood material. Not quite a Saab-Valmet-Volvo-Ikea-Sisu propelled Nordic powerhouse, now are we.

Estonians tend to be proud of what "hard work we do" while most of it is just cheap and inefficient slave labour.

Jüri Saar ütles ...

"You'd be hard pressed to argue that old people in Sweden don't have it better off than pensioners in Estonia."

The exact same thing can be said about Swedes in general, but it doesn't follow that it's the result of redistribution in any logical way that I can deduce. Your welcome to help me out.

"How did they get that higher standard of living? "

Maybe, just maybe by not going through 50 years of soviet repressions - but that's just a wild shot in the dark.

"In Estonia, we have such lovely new buildings and lovely new cars and lovely new technology, and yet grandma and grandpa are still using a rusty toilet in the countryside. Why is that?"

I have no idea why your grandpa and grandma are still using the rusty toilet. I think that's a question you have to ask yourself.

As to my gradparents, they were supported by their children and their living conditions were improved at the first opportunity - starting with a new addition to their country farm: a running water toilet.

"Estonian liberalism is not dissimilar to American neoconservatism in that each school has its thinkers and ideology and the politicians that subscribe to each school suffer from the inability to rationally judge the merits of that ideology."

Interestingly enough, the first two words in the above paragrph are interchangable with a random country and a random ideology. Swedish socialism, US liberalsim, German social democrats...take your pick.

I never knew there was an Estonian flavor of liberalism. Care to elaborate on what makes Estonian liberalism different?

in ny state: I'd love to debate economics, but first you need to get your facts straight and drop the anonimity.

Giustino ütles ...

I never knew there was an Estonian flavor of liberalism. Care to elaborate on what makes Estonian liberalism different?

It has its own Estonian liberal gurus who are so certain that they are right that they just cannot be wrong.

You are correct to point out that the Swedish socialists are the same way. I guess that is the curse of belonging to a political party.

I have no idea why your grandpa and grandma are still using the rusty toilet. I think that's a question you have to ask yourself.

Their son is an alcoholic, and he's never getting better. Not to mention it is shared, and Estonians are not very skilled at cooperating with one another when it comes to home renovation. A decision to replace a toilet might carry with it some kind of domestic political warfare about who should pay for it; what it should look like, et cetera.

There is a very unhappy "teine eesti" out there and the miracle of liberalism has yet to make them fabulously wealthy. I am not sure how often our expensive car-driving, Tallinn-based nouveau riche officials get out to the farms in Viljandimaa for their monthly reality check.

Giustino ütles ...

Not quite a Saab-Valmet-Volvo-Ikea-Sisu propelled Nordic powerhouse, now are we.

It reminds me of a quote from the book I am reading:

Once modest to the point of discomfort, their homes and their habits were now throughly up to date. They lived as fashionably and owed as much money as any of their compeers in France or Italy.

---

The real problem was that Sweden -- isolated, sparsely populated, half frozen -- simply did not produce very much.

In NY state ütles ...

To Juri Saar:

I have no problem debating economics. But the arguments need to be debated on merits, not just by fiat. Just because you never heard these arguments shows you how effective the neo-cons have been in suppressing debate and shouting down contrary facts. I have realized for a very, very long time that most people do NOT know the liberal arguments, just the conservative, Billy O'Reilly-type sneers.

And even you are not debating, only dimissing on the basis of no evidence. Just assertion.

The facts are coming from "The Crucial Decade" (which was about the 1950's and I don't remember the author)and Schlesinger's "The Age of Roosevelt."

It was a real eye opener from The Crucial Decade to realize that the great middle class of the USA was a construct of Roosevelt's policies. And today as Roosevelt's policies are being dismantled, the middle class is again shrinking.

The problem is that many do not know their history, even from their grandparent's time.

Jüri Saar ütles ...

I don't see the point in debating people, who hide behind anonymity and obviously this is not the place for such a debate...unless the host indicates otherwise in which case let's set some ground rules.

Hirnu-Hrnx! ütles ...

Jüri Saar, how do we know you are Jüri Saar?

Certainly, you are a gentleman and a patriot, but what good does it do if we cannot really prove it?

So let it go. It is the disembodied thought that counts. Remember, on the internet nobody knows that you are a dog.

So

... make the most of it.

Giustino ütles ...

What I dislike about debates about economics is that sooner or later you are strongarmed into embracing an ideology, like social democracy or neoliberalism.

As an outsider, it seems foolish to assume that one school of thought holds the solutions to all of mankind's problems.

martintg ütles ...

In NY state ütles...

It took the fiscal conservatives in the US until the 1980's to highjack that system. And we now can see the consequences of their greed and corruption: we are on the brink of another period of incredible asset destruction.


Given that the current crisis is caused by sub-prime mortgage defaulters, what asset destruction are you speaking of? All those houses built by sub-prime mortgage funds will remain standing.

Kristopher ütles ...

For one thing, Martin, the fact that all those companies lent money to people who weren't really creditworthy is a betrayal of the trust of their shareholders.

Wealth is nothing without trust -- the networks that organize capital and make it effective. There is a good book, which happens to be written by a neocon, about the importance of trust.

Now the government had to step in -- totally antithetical to the whole point of neoliberalism.

Jüri Saar ütles ...

hirnu-hrnx! : it takes exactly three clicks from the link in my name to get to a page of detailed information about me. Its in Estonian, but it's there for all to see. What about you? And I have no idea what patriotism has got to do with any of it.

Gustino: we all have beliefes, and we shouldn't be afraid to be open about them or elaborate on what we base our beliefes on. Open debate that is actually based on specific examples and data brings out the the underlying assumptions and allows us to get beyond simplistic and too often baseless claims.

In the end a debate about economics with two opposing sides is not carried out for the benefit of the debaters, but the reades of these debates. It is they who will eventually judge whether what has been written is convincingly argued.

However, such debates are time consuming and require effort which I'm not willing to expend on anonymous debates.

Kristopher ütles ...

And yet, the SUV drivers soldier on,

A recent article in the Washington Post focused on one painful issue some are facing in the crisis -- the price of gas is forcing them to swipe their credit cards twice, as the price of a tankful is now above the maximum single purchase set by gas stations. Imagine that -- they've put their card away and they have to fish out their wallet a second time.

AndresS ütles ...

Read this discussion and happened to see this article right after:

http://balticbusinessnews.com/Default2.aspx?ArticleID=378416cf-ce21-42fd-8899-9b101f16c549&open=sec

Just thought I'd share.

kaicevy ütles ...

Several years afterwards though, one would not be shocked to see a caravan of teenage girls all go driving past in a BMW on the way to the beach, expensive cellphone in manicured hand

Martasmimi ütles ...

Hirnu-Hrnx! ütles...
I do not know what it would take to have people cut down on their lifestyles here. I was at a wine tasting party yesterday and driving through the countryside, every damn dumb redneck was driving his shiny Chevy Suburban or Tahoe with and estonian-like disregard to gravity and with implied (financial) death wish. These dudes were gunning their wallet suckers at 80 miles per hour like there was no tomorrow.
-------------------------------
Perhaps these people cannot just return their gas suckers to the dealer and ask for a Prius, Mini Cooper or a Smart car. I am not sure I see the Redneck gun rack mounted on a Prius or the dead Deer draped over a Smart car ...
A bit messy I would think..
Seriously ...some of these folks cannot afford to get a new more efficient car .
I live in a very affluent area and I see the conversion here..
Many more Smart, Prius cars and
the Mini Cooper is fast becoming the status vehicle here..
These people can afford to dump
their gas suckers others may not be so fortunate..

In NY state ütles ...

To marting:

The asset destruction is the dollar/kroon value of the assets. Assets can be either real world assets or they can be financial assets. But in either case, the value of the asset is enumerated in terms of money.

But yes, you are correct, all the houses will remain standing for a time. But what people will pay for them will change. Also, the value of money can change, the true asset destruction.

That was quite evident in Russia during the 1990's, and the scary thought is that unless things become more sensible, it could happen with the almighty American dollar.

G: I agree with JSaar that a debate is instructive. No one person ever has the entire truth, just pieces of it. But certainly, I learn through hearing honest opinions. My problem is when the opinions on Op/Ed pages just become propaganda outlets for a particular party/group.

Saar: Even if you knew my name, I would be completely anonymous to you, as chances are I am half a world away from you. Additionally, that should have nothing to do with the quality of statements made.

Hirnu-Hrnx! ütles ...

Jüri is just old school. He wants people who speak to introduce themselves first.

Nothing wrong with that.

However, for many of us here, the hot air we blow is often done on employers dime. You do not really want to eff this up, do you? So you sacrifice your ego. We all do. G as a host, being the logical exception.

Lucky you Jüri, probably in happy retirement, your words can not be held against you by anybody, ever. Especially when you never engage in subversive humor or other shenanigans of the blogosphere like we mortals do here.

So welcome! Long live antagonism and intellectual confrontation!

Let your curious and courageous mind speak.

Just leave this dude Jüri out of it. Nobody really cares about him. Nothing personal. Just the way it is.

Jim Hass ütles ...

I am tired of all these fascists like NY state that who can only tell "they're screwing us", and " only roosevelt (Hitler , peron, Chavez, Castro, etc insert tyrant here, past or present) can save us." rational argument looses out to a series of charges and counter charges. Pretty soon politics and democratic discussion starts to look like Colombia during "the violence". My advice to all those who want to demonize some one to account for an economic downturn is focus on policy and debate effects or go back to the 1930s and put on your favorite armband in the privacy of your own home.

In NY state ütles ...

Silly me, I thought I was talking about policy and effects. The term "Roosevelt" was only short hand for a set of policies, not the man.

Jim Hass ütles ...

Roosevelt is not a set of policies. He was a man. There was no coherent set of policies called "the new deal", just a slogan and commitment to try things, the constitution, the supreme court, human rights be damned. When you talk a bout a set of policies, are you talking about internment of the Japanese? I don't think so. How about the fascist NRA and the blue eagle. I hope not. How about burning grain when some are starving just to drive up the price? How about refusing to investigate 13th amendment ( slavery) charges for the first nine years. Give me a break.

Giustino ütles ...

The Roosevelt cult of personality reminds me of other cults. Since most of us were not alive then, all of our impressions of that era are second hand.

In NY state ütles ...

Roosevelt's economic legacy is often referred to as managed capitalism.

Like I said, it was the economic policies, not the man, I was speaking of.

And for the last 40 years the neo cons in the US have been dismantling those policies, all the while screaming that no government is good government.

Never in my lifetime have I seen a run on a bank here in the US. But lo and behold, it only took 9 years after the dismantling of Glass-Steagal (yes, that was done under Clinton,)and here we are again in a banking crisis and on the brink of another Great Depression.

And yes, the New Deal was a much better set of policy initiatives that benefitted your average person than the Laissez Faire currently in vogue.

In the US, the median wage has not increased since the 1970's (adjusting for inflation). All the economic gains have been going to the top. And according to Keyes, that was the cause of the last Great Depression: all the free money was in the hands of the wealthy.

(And yes, I am simplifying and exaggerating a bit to make a point.)

Kristopher ütles ...

Sounds like the Belgians are putting too much hops in your beer, Jim. I've never thought of Roosevelt as a tyrant, and I'd say the current collusion between the corporate world and supposedly "small" government seems more like fascism to me than Roosevelt.

Jim Hass ütles ...

Let's not forget what we're commenting on. Estonia is in a rough patch economically speaking. All those years of rising inflows from rising foreign debt and foreign investment have paused. They were fun while they lasted, but now some of that debt needs to be serviced . Those outstanding productivity numbers show that they were not really wasted, but I am sure when you borrow for a house and a car, etc. It is a lot more fun than paying it back.
Folks shouldn't get too discouraged if they remember what '92 was like and why they made the choices they did, individually and collectively.

Wv Sky ütles ...

I started working 40 years ago and here is what I witnessed: As a kid, there was only ONE car in the family. Now there are 3 and sometimes four. As a young working adult, my friends were loading up on credit cards and making minimum payments. In my state, you might live in a run-down mobile home, but have a 35 thousand dollar pickup truck in the driveway. My group wanted it all NOW... not 30 years from now like out parents. My group wanted to "keep up with the Jones'es" no matter how many minimum payments they had to make. My group hardly knew the meaning of sacrifice and saving. My group when grown up and having kids of their own, then spoiled the little bastards much more than they were. Now, THEIR kids are young adults and have even LESS of a clue of how to operate on something called a "budget". In the meantime, back at the ranch... the government is busy pressuring lenders to make loans of all types to (especially) minorities that have about as much a chance to make the payments as the homeless.

Now... you can blame all the politicians from either side that you want... but the fact of the matter is that WE, the spoiled baby boomers started this entire mess and passed it on to our kids. We thought it natural to get a raise EVERY year for the rest of our lives, while the price of bread or a gallon of gas was supposed to stay the same. Guess what? The chickens have come home to roost and now we are in a period of "adjustment" that's been sorely needed for a long long time. I mean, what's the point of making $500 a day if bread costs $50 a loaf? As far as cars: The only reason big cars are (now) so popular is because we're so damned fat that we simply couldnt squeeze into an economy car. We really are pathetic....

plasma-jack ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Giustino ütles ...

Back on topic, what I am saying is that I dislike the idea that if you have social democratic values -- that is you believe in some kind of principle of social equality -- that you automatically have to defend Roosevelt's New Deal or Germany's SDE.

I don't think that I am capable of articulating an economic policy -- I have no background in economics. But I do think that I am capable of articulating basic social values as a citizen in society.

Unfortunately discussions about values devolve into formulaic debates where one guy defends Roosevelt and the other Reagan. And where does that get us?

Jim Hass ütles ...

here here. Every situation is unique and economic history is only a guide. The facts that Estonia is in the present moment with its opportunities and challenges has to be coped with. Running a deficit doesn't really have the same effect in a small open economy, unless it is spent on projects that lead to an inflow of resources. The last recession the government defered the corporate income tax. This time, who knows? Job training, highway construction, any ideas? Trade policy is pretty set by the eu. Labor law reform seems impossible. Tax policy is set by coalition agreement, so I don't see what reform will do if the euro keeps rising against the dollar group, and the credit crunch continues. Let's not forget the income is still rising and the economy is still helped by convergence with eu prices and wages.

Jim Hass ütles ...

here here. Every situation is unique and economic history is only a guide. The facts that Estonia is in the present moment with its opportunities and challenges has to be coped with. Running a deficit doesn't really have the same effect in a small open economy, unless it is spent on projects that lead to an inflow of resources. The last recession the government defered the corporate income tax. This time, who knows? Job training, highway construction, any ideas? Trade policy is pretty set by the eu. Labor law reform seems impossible. Tax policy is set by coalition agreement, so I don't see what reform will do if the euro keeps rising against the dollar group, and the credit crunch continues. Let's not forget the income is still rising and the economy is still helped by convergence with eu prices and wages.

Kristopher ütles ...

Certainly that "dreadful" big government spending is necessary at certain well-timed moments. You can't just coast on deregulation and the charms of the ever-newer Old Town indefinitely.

I'm glad Roosevelt was brought up, because some of the less wild if ambitious ideas in the New Deal would be worth consideration.

Probably there's not too much untapped hydro capacity in Estonia but smaller dams and lakes could be considered -- not a greater evil than batteries of unsightly wind turbines on the coast. There's a lot of underused scrubland and some more long snakey lakes like Soodla would be welcomed.

One good one is organizing work corps/camps for (relatively) disadvantaged northeastern non-Estonian speakers where they would build things, improve the solid-state countryside infrastructure while getting fresh air and language training.

Giustino ütles ...

I'm glad Roosevelt was brought up, because some of the less wild if ambitious ideas in the New Deal would be worth consideration.

Here's a question for you. Do you think the media would support it?

In NY state ütles ...

"Unfortunately discussions about values devolve into formulaic debates where one guy defends Roosevelt and the other Reagan. And where does that get us?"

While I understand the frustration that some arguments seem stuck in ruts, (at the risk of harping on a sore point) I believe it's a fundamentally important argument. Unfortunately, it is very easy to stymie many with the technical details of economics. But essentially the argument is about the distribution of power.

Reagan and Roosevelt are symbolic of two very different economic and governmental philosophies (and shorthand references become important in places with limited space/time). And the differences between the two result in fundamentally different types of societies.

Economics and how economies within societies are organized is an extremely important question. Additionally, economic power determines the elite and its disposition with regard to the common person.

In the middle ages, it was martial power that determined the elite, known as the aristocracy. Industrialization later created a commercial elite, who were commoners, and the disposition of that power was the fundamental argument across 200-300 years. The argument was most evident in the 19th C with the dispute of which type of government was most legitimate: some type of monarchy or some type democracy/republic. WWI essentially disposed of that argument with the destruction of four empires.

During the 20th C, the Cold War hid the true argument of power within the structures of some type of democracy/republic: will the economic elites be fettered or not.

That is the true argument couched in who was more effective: Roosevelt or Reagan. The Reagan Revolution seeks to unchain Ayn Rand's Atlas, while the Roosevelt government sought to regulate it. Both TR and FDR thought that no economic entity should be stronger than the duly-elected government.

When the economy went bust in 1907, J.P. Morgan, personally, bailed out the country. That was how great his assets were. His bailout forced the creation of the Federal Reserve system.

In the US, we are approaching those levels of personal holdings as during the first Gilded Age. Is this the path that Estonia wants to take? Or would it rather emulate Sweden? Which is a better place to live in if one is not rich and powerful?

IT ütles ...

One guy defends Roosevelt, another guy Reagan, a third guy gives you a encyclopedia britannica article.

IT ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Kristopher ütles ...

Here's a question for you. Do you think the media would support it?

Me?

There's so many news sources now I dont know. Would the project get a full-page write-up like Raivo Vare writing about the container superterminal for Chinese goods? Probably not.

Thinking about what I wrote, "camp" probably has fatal PR issues, if we're talking about getting minorities to participate. Maybe the Defence League could have a "training program" open to any volunteers (with incentives/stipends).

Alex ütles ...

not a greater evil than batteries of unsightly wind turbines on the coast.

I think they look cool myself. Solar is boring 'cause nothing moves.

One good one is organizing work corps/camps for (relatively) disadvantaged northeastern non-Estonian speakers...

Can't wait to hear the government announce that they're rounding up non-Estonian speakers and putting them into work camps. See how that works out.

Kristopher ütles ...

Thanks, man. I'm now waiting for Puu to wander in and make a reference to me being a war criminal or something.

Puu ütles ...

Kristopher, my sweet petunia, my muffin of love... why would I say such a terrible thing? From now on I will only say nice things about you, my ricotta cheese dumpling with apple sauce. The real question is... have you taken out the garbage?( your wife is actually paying me to ask this)

Kristopher ütles ...

That's comforting that she's paying you. I wondered why the level of our coin jar was dropping. And I won't catch hell from her if you call me pasta pet names.

Kristopher ütles ...

On the other hand, the coin jar is all we have.

Like many Estonians (in Puuland that is), we make the average salary, which as you noted is "4000 a year" -- not 4000 kroons but just 4000. (I knew I should have insisted on a unit of currency contract but that's the new labour law for you.)

And OK, so you say my wife pays you to remind me to "go to the gym, take out the garbage and attend to her sexual needs."

Seems to me awfully neocolonialist of you, impoverishing our centrist, average, developmentalist family by enforcing your Western dogmas. Somehow I don't think this was my wife's idea.

The way things are going in your Puuland, I should take a job cleaning a gym, take IN other people's garbage, and get a Second Life account over cafe WiFi for the you-know-what.

Puu ütles ...

The way things are going in your Puuland, I should take a job cleaning a gym, take IN other people's garbage, and get a Second Life account over cafe WiFi for the you-know-what.
I am not depleting your family finances your wife and
I are operating on a barter system...based on hypothetical future need namely if I ever find myself married to a man who doesn't go to the gym often enough (I'm not saying my dear wild mushroom ravioli that that you don't but just hypothetically) do his share of the housework and his share of other things as well she will stand up for my rights. It's sort of a I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine type thing. Which is the essence of a good social democracy. I can hardly manage my own life( or a classroom of 20 kids), so I have no desire to set up any sort of Puuland.
My suspicion about you, my friend Kristopher ( and this again is the pot calling the kettle black) is that at some point, though family members own life experience whatever, you have been deeply influenced by conservative politics...There is nothing wrong with that, some of my best friends have been extremely conservative... the thing is though you don't want to seem un cool so you take all this sort of liberal posturing to cover your more conservative heart. Again, it takes one to know one. But sometimes i think you point out tendencies particularly in me, which name your own discomforts rather than adressing what I am actually saying.

Kristopher ütles ...

But sometimes i think you point out tendencies particularly in me, which name your own discomforts rather than adressing what I am actually saying.

Yes, I just used your comments as a springboard for some attempted bad satire about developmentalism-neoconservatism. You bet it's a discomfort of mine. And let's say your past comments have not always been the most lucid or syntactically correct ones on this forum, so they lend themselves well to wild tangents. (This is not so much the case lately.) But how you make the leap to my "conservative" tendencies is beyond me. Worse still, that I am conservative and don't realize it.

Look, I'm sure I'll be a flag-waving jingoistic maniac by the time I'm 60, and I'm more than halfway there, but that's a universal tendency. Surely I get some handicap for that.

For the time being, I'm not terribly drawn by classic conservative concerns, and I don't posture to avoid being associated with them. Maybe I posture in some other way. (Maybe I posture without being aware that I posture?) But I have a very bad relationship with the word "cool". I don't understand it or really use the word. I think it's a concept invented by Americans and one of the most refreshing things about being in Estonia is there's not such a preoccupation with it. Believe me, I could care less if I am perceived as cool. I guess EQ is gradually being conflated with "cool", but I am still much more concerned about being perceived as conservative (if only by you) because it's a term with some substance and I don't like misrepresentations and dishonesty.

FYI (yawn here) I'm very conservationist on two or three issues. Snowmobiles out of Yellowstone, ATVs should be banned anywhere over 9,000 ft. Most of the existing roads in national parks should be closed. These positions you probably already know from reading my blog.

Parenting -- yeah, I have a tougher side, I'm not an all-permissive hippie. Lots of Kinderstube.

I opposed the war in Afghanistan. That is certainly not a cool or fashionable thing. Nor did I oppose it just to be a rebel.

As far as being deeply influenced by conservative politics, well, I'm Estonian American. Is it impossible not to be?

Who were those people in Congress who supported Baltic independence during the Soviet era? Many of them were upstanding Republican family advocates like Rick Santorum (R-PA) who issued resolutions about Baltic freedom, weren't they? So when these guys go on to a career in Fatherland Security or issue some idiotic statement on what should not be done in the bedroom, it is marginally harder to accept that they are actually idiots -- "gee, these guys were on your side up to 1991?" But only marginally harder.

So how should we save the world, Puu?

In NY state ütles ...

"As far as being deeply influenced by conservative politics, well, I'm Estonian American. Is it impossible not to be?"

Pardon me for interrupting a private correspondence,but...

I have to agree with that statement. I finally arrived at my own personal ahah! moment as an Estonian-American when I realized that the Republican/conservative support for the Baltics had nothing to do with the Baltic states and everything to do with internal, domestic politics.

But I know of many others struggling with such loyalties. And yes, Rick Santorum, etc. really are a bunch of idiots.

Puu ütles ...

Um...Pookie... I don't want to save the world. I just want to save myself outside of the this whole patriachal
neo-colonial framework that y'all live in and benefit from.And I actually just want a place in it if the truth is to be told, but not under someone in the missionary position telling them they are a good man..(this is a general statement about how people in the Estonian and other communities often react to me, why aren't you married? blah blah blah) If you want to go against the neoconservative thing I think Adbusters does a pretty good job ( and the editor is Estonian) though they do have some crappy journalism.Anyway I need to take a break.Ciao bellas.

Kristopher ütles ...

You're fine, I think. I support you in your goal though can't help with the details. (Granted, you may be someone's fictional Internet alter ego in which the joke is really on me...)

Yes, Kalle Lasn of Adbusters. Do you think he is concerned about seeming uncool? Is he also a closet conserative, too, like Obama might be a closet Muslim with an anti-American agenda? (Not that I am comparing myself to either, God -- or is that "god"? -- forbid.

Puu ütles ...

Granted, you may be someone's fictional Internet alter ego in which case the joke is really on me...
Drats, foiled again...I thought no one would recognize me in my clever disguise as a neurotic Estonian American.
-ES

Kristopher ütles ...

Aha, OK, now it all squares. Edgar Savisaar is definitely "famous in a Courtney Love kind of way."

According to your blog at savisaar.blogspot.com, you've been reading the Kama Sutra. Did you read the Wendy Doniger translation? :)

maprom ütles ...

Dear friend,

Wonderful .
Accept my sincere thanks and appreciation


John ,


http://www.dirking.net

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