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TM, ®, Copyright © 2019 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.

TM, ®, Copyright © 2019 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.

Europe never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity
Where's Europe?
Articles on Europe before 2019

  • (august 2019) Europe never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity
    Joy Dantong Ma published a report in Macropolo that documents how many Chinese A.I. scientists are leaving China for the USA. Quotes: "When it comes to retention, of the 2,800 Chinese accepted to NeurIPS over the last decade, about three-quarters of them (>2,000) are currently working outside of China"; "Of the 2,000+ AI talent that have left China, about 1,700 (85%) came to the United States"; "So while Beijing has cultivated an army of top AI talent, well over half of that talent eventually ended up in America". What has this to do with Europe? It shows how incredibly stupid European politicians (and their voters) are. There is a big opportunity, and it has been around for a long time. The history of the USA is largely the history of how a country managed to lure talents from all over the world, gave them the freedom to invent new technology and create new business, and then became the world's superpower. That's still the USA's big advantage over every other country: so many (college-educated) foreigners who want to immigrate to the USA. Repeat: "to the USA", not to Europe. Europe has been unable to attract world talents despite the myth that the lifestyle of Europe is much better and that the countries of Europe are much more beautiful.

    Thanks to Donald Trump's anti-immigration policies (not to mention his demented "trade wars") and to the recurring mass shootings, the appeal of the USA has been greatly reduced, but statistics show that world talents still have little choice: China's regime is not appealing, no matter how fast the Chinese economy grows, Europe is a mess. China still blocks the Internet (what they call "Internet" in China is just a bunch of government-approved websites, nothing that remotely resembles the Internet known by the rest of the world, no Google, no Facebook, no Twitter, not even YouTube nor Wikipedia), which is probably the single most important attraction for young educated people. Europe has had multiple problems: Islamic terrorism, Brexit, millions of refugees from North Africa and the Middle East, and chronic unemployment among young people. Australia and Canada have benefited. Canada is the place that truly invented modern A.I. ("deep learning" was invented at the universities of Toronto and Montreal, besides a laboratory in Switzerland). Australia has suddenly become the fastest-growing major international student destination, receiving students not only from China but also from India, the booming economies of Southeast Asia (notably Vietnam and Thailand) and increasingly also from Latin America (see for example this study). Switzerland, which is perceived as being immune to terrorism and eurocrises, is now ranked as the most innovative nation in the world (according to the World Intellectual Property Organization's Global Innovation Index of 2019). Switzerland now has two universities (ETH and EPFL) in the top 20 universities of the world; and its universities are expanding their campuses at record pace.

    The mass shootings, or just the astronomical murder rate, of the USA, a country literally littered with tens of millions of guns (de facto in the middle of a civil war), combined with the endless Trump scandals that has made the USA one of the most corrupt and undemocratic countries in the world, are making the USA a much less appealing destination. Trump's racist policies against Chinese, Latin Americans, Africans, Muslims and repeated insults against Europeans (he basically only praises dictators) are working: fewer and fewer college-educated foreigners see the USA as the leaders of the free world. More and more of them see the USA as a stagnatic nation full of bigots and sociopaths.

    If Trump gets reelected, one can expect the immigration trends to reverse dramatically, with (college-educated) US citizens moving out instead of (college-educated) foreigners moving in. We are already hearing of record numbers of Google employees applying to be transferred to Google labs in Switzerland, Australia, Britain...

    That's a problem for US voters to solve. But one would expect the rest of the world to see this as a historical opportunity. After one century during which the USA was consistently the dream destination of the world's talents, there is now the concrete possibility of "stealing" talents from the USA. You would expect Europe to invest heavily in attracting talents from all over the world at a time when it could indeed compete with the USA.

    What has Europe done to attract foreign talents? It has basically criminalized the top high-tech companies of Silicon Valley, instead of encouraging them to expand their operations in Europe. Imagine the incentive for young Europeans to start an Internet business in their countries when you see that the successful Internet companies are routinely criminalized in their countries. Instead of making it easier for foreign talents to immigrate, Europe's voters have rewarded the xenophobic parties (notably in Italy, the one Western country that is experiencing the biggest decline of the century, the one country that is losing talents to pretty much any other country).

    Many strategic US companies could be lured into moving more and more of their operations from the USA to a place where its employees don't risk being shot at the supermarket and their children don't risk being massacred at their high school. Many Chinese students would welcome a place where they can study and work in a stimulating scientific environment while being as safe as they are at home.

    And what has Britain done? "Brexit" has caused an exodus of talents. Britain has four of the world's 10 best universities, the fifth-largest economy, it is second only to the USA in Nobel laureates, its literary and artistic scenes are second to none, and London is second only to New York as a global financial center. It could be an obvious alternative to the USA for college-educated talents but who wants to move to a tiny country that just decided to isolate itself from a much bigger continent?

    What Europe should instead do is simple:

    • Enact a program to attract students from all over the world
    • Speed up procedures to grant work visas to any graduate of the world
    • Subsidize thousands of professorships in its universities with economic assistance to foreigners who qualify for those positions
    • Create new labs in multiple locations (similar to the Planck Institutes in Germany)
    • Emphasize Europe's cultural world, the rich artistic heritage
    • Encourage a unique mix of humanities and sciences, missing in both China and Silicon Valley
    • Remove bureaucratic obstacles to innovation and stop worrying about the possible negative effects of each and every invention (the negative effects of inventing are hypothetical, the negative effects of NOT inventing are facts)
    • Expand the borders of the European Union and enforce the use of the euro even outside its borders: the bigger its size; the bigger its appeal, the larger the use of its currency, the stronger the motivation for foreigners to own it and earn a salary denominated in it

    See also: Where's Europe?

    TM, ®, Copyright © 2019 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (june 2019) Where's Europe?

    When the whole world is going crazy, Europe could become a force for good (and for reason), but it would take a very united Europe to be a force with any significant impact.

    The big news that came out of the European Union elections is that the right-wing nationalist parties "won" (or, better, increased their representation in the European parliament); but that doesn't reflect the views of the majority, which is still largely pro-European. Forgetting this fact may completely misrepresent the situation: most Europeans think (correctly, in my opinion) that the USA is becoming a rogue nation, and a very dangerous one; that China is a human-rights disaster; and that Russia is a nation run by gangsters. These are self-evident truths for the majority of the European public. Far from falling behind Trump's nationalism, Europe is rapidly moving away from the USA. Nothing has divided the West more than Trump. It was ironic that Trump's secretary of state Mike Pompeo told the European press: "China wants to divide Western alliances through bits and bytes" when in fact his boss Trump has already, very successfully, divided Western alliances and destroyed whatever trust the Europeans still had in the USA.

    There is certainly a world-wide movement towards right-wing nationalism, from India's prime minister Narendra Modi to Turkey's president Recep Erdogan, and one can also include Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who didn't need much help for his nationalist platform since Israel has a racist constitution, as well as Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe, a master of historical revisionism who didn't need any help to crack down on immigration because Japan has never allowed it. Sometimes we forget who started this trend towards autocratic democracies: Russia's president Vladimir Putin. So far, there have been two new forces at work in the 21st century: Russia's autocratic democracy, which is legitimized not by ideology (like the Soviet Union was) but by "retrotopia" (a term coined by the Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman); and China's one-party state capitalism. China's economic model hasn't found many imitators (yet) around the world, but Russia's political model is spreading rapidly.

    To some extent, Putin is not only a role model for, but also physically behind the rise of, the nationalistic right-wing parties in Europe. The spreading of disinformation through social media has proven to be amazingly effective among populations that, having stopped to believe in gods, believe in just about anything. Covert operations of Russian specialists have been uncovered on social media and at least one case of explicit corruption has caused a resignation. Austria's Freedom Party got enough votes in the 2017 parliamentary election that the ruling party had to form a coalition with it, and the Freedom Party's leader Heinz-Christian Strache was appointed vice-chancellor. But in May 2019 the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel and the newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung released a video, filmed three months before the 2017 election in a Spanish villa, showing Strache promising national contracts to the emissary of a Russian oligarch in return for support for his party. On the other hand, Putin didn't need a lot of covert operations to get Viktor Orban (Fidesz), Jaroslaw Kaczynski (Law and Justice) and Matteo Salvini (Lega) in power (respectively, in Hungary, Poland and Italy), and to get Nigel Farage's Brexit movement to win a referendum; nor did he need a lot of covert operations to increase the votes of Marine LePen's National Front in France, Heinz-Christian Strache's Freedom Party in Austria, and Geert Wilders' Party for Freedom in the Netherlands: it was Islamic immigration (with or without terrorist attacks) that did most of the work, upsetting vast sections of the European electorate; and the lasting effects of the financial crisis of 2008 contributed quite a bit, a lingering crisis that people started blaming on European Union's bureaucracy instead of blaming it on unbridled Wall Street-style capitalism. But the ultimate winner is Russia, a country that just a few years ago seemed condemned to irrelevance and that instead suddenly looks like a pillar of stability in a disintegrating Europe (and has even appointed a puppet to president of the USA).

    The anti-European trend is ironic because not long ago we were witnessing the rise of euro-nationalism, especially young people: kids all over Europe were behaving as if the European Union was going to be the next superpower, kicking the USA down the throne. Back then, Europeans didn't even think of China as a rival, nor did they pay much attention to an imploding Russia. Surprise: now it is the European Union that is imploding, the USA is still the world's superpower (far better positioned than the EU), China is the rising power (not the EU) and Russia is again the most powerful country in Europe like during the Cold War.

    One would love to believe that the trend away from the mainstream parties signaled a desire by Europeans for smarter leaders. Alas, the neo-nationalists are not exactly leaders with incredibly clever ideas. For example, Salvini sounds like a grotesque Trump copycat: his slogan "Prima l'Italia" is a lame adaptation of Trump's "America first". There isn't much behind that slogan other than building his own kind of Trump-ian wall against immigrants. It is hard to believe that an idiot like Trump would have imitators, let alone outside the USA, let alone in one of the major European countries.

    The rise of neo-nationalism and retrotopia are a worldwide phenomenon and was probably an inevitable consequence of the massive and rapid globalization after the end of the Cold War and the incorporation of dozens of new democratic capitalist countries into world trade. (Don't forget that during the Cold War "international trade" really meant just North America, Japan and Western Europe - the rest of the world was ruled by either communist or fascist dictatorships). The end of the Cold War also coincided with the expansion of the European Economic Community (created in 1957 by a handful of Western European countries) into the European Union (created in 1993 to absorb most of the previous communist countries). This materialized a vast trade area but also a vast area of free movement. The European Union was not lucky that at the same time the USA intervened in the Middle East causing upheavals (the Iraq civil war, the Lybian civil war, the Syrian civil war) that sent millions of Muslim refugees towards Europe on top of the already vast numbers of African immigrants fleeing poverty and dictatorship especially in north and western Africa. The combined forces of globalization, economic immigration and war refugees strained the societies of all European countries, even the countries that were the least affected.

    The new world order has benefited mainly China and India, and to some extent the USA (at least the richest 1% of the USA), plus the under-developed countries that export resources to these economies. It has generally not benefited Europe, certainly not the old colonial powers (Britain, France, Germany, Italy...) although some countries did better than others (Spain, Poland and in general Eastern Europe) because they have the advantage of a younger democracy.

    "Retrotopia" is the nostalgic feeling for a time in the past when there was no globalization, when each region had its own cherished way of life and values, and jobs were more stable. It is neither right-wing nor left-wing. In 2002 Warren Buffett, one of the richest people in the world, talked of "financial weapons of mass destruction." He meant it from a purely economic point of view, but that expression is eerily similar to expressions used by leftists all over Europe over the last century to describe the effect of the capitalist system. Trump's advisor Steve Bannon is an influential radical right-wing ideologue, but most European leftists would probably agree with Steve Bannon's view of the world: the blue-collar class (called "proletariat" in Europe) was screwed by expensive and pointless wars; their savings disappeared with the financial crisis of 2008; and their jobs migrated to other countries and sometimes even to other continents (China, India, Bangladesh, sometimes even Africa).

    Bannon's view of blue-collar and middle-class families in the USA is correct; but what is also true (in the USA) is that, while these older people were losing jobs and savings, millions of kids were getting good jobs, jobs paid a lot more than their parents ever dreamed of. During the same time that some US regions lament as a time of national decline, California became the fifth largest economy in the world. Entry-level jobs at Silicon Valley's firms pay more than a coal miner of Virginia ever dreamed of. And what is the secret of California? What made California such a rich and expanding state? Globalization and immigration. California attracts talents and investment from all over the world, and sells its high-tech products to the whole world thanks to globalization. And thanks to immigration (from both the other 49 states and abroad) California's population has grown rapidly and has maintained a balance of jobs. Texas boasts of having the highest growth rate and looks down on California that has the highest poverty rate (and the same statistic is true of many other states), but the fact is that very few people move from California to Texas whereas a lot of Texans now live in California, especially if you only count people with a college degree (and the same is true of all other states).

    The USA as a whole is doing a lot better than Europe. The secret? Globalization and immigration. The foreign-born share of the US population is at its highest level since 1910. There are about 45-46 million immigrants living in the USA (14% of the population). In California the percentage of foreign-born residents is 27%. By comparison, Italy's foreign-born residents only account for 10% of the population: how is it that 27% of foreign immigrants make California the most vibrant economy in the world while just 10% of foreign immigrants make Italy a chronically listless economy? The best performing economy among big European countries is Germany's, and Germany is also the country with the highest number of foreign-born residents: 15%.

    Hence there is a misunderstanding on what the real problem is, and it is always dangerous when people try to find the right solution to the wrong problem. Europe's crisis of integration could be, instead, the by-product of a bigger problem: the inability to innovate and therefore to be competitive in a globalized world. The retreat to parochial politics will not stop the forces of globalization around the world. It will only leave Europe lagging further behind the winners. That is the real problem.

    Since the 1980s the world has been increasingly fascinated by two models of economic development. The Silicon Valley model has been publicized in movies and TV series, but mostly it publicizes itself on the Web: Google, Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb, Uber, Netflix... not to mention Intel, Oracle, Tesla... Silicon Valley (or, better, the San Francisco Bay Area) produces a large chunk of the innovation that the world credits to the USA. There are smaller versions of it in Boston, Seattle, New Jersey and New York, but the bulk of the USA actually contributes very little to innovation. I deliberately called it the "Silicon Valley" model and not the "US model". Other states have different economies. Texas is basically Russia: mainly selling natural resources. Others are agricultural. Others can't compare with Western Europe and East Asia in science and tech. Others have very small population (Wyoming has 500,000 people). The world overestimates US innovation when in fact it's just a handful of tiny US regions that provide all the innovation. The "Silicon Valley model" is NOT the model of most of the USA.

    Then the world, especially the under-developed countries, is fascinated with the Chinese model, which has lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese out of poverty in justs 30 years, and skyrocketed China, which was starving in the 1970s, to the status of technologically advanced country with the highest number of graduates in STEM (science, tech, engineering and math) in the world.

    These two models have largely coexisted because of an implicit deal that emerged out of a kind of Darwinian natural selection: the USA offsourced manufacturing to China and China offsourced research to the USA. China largely "used" the USA as its research laboratory: let the USA experiment (and often fail) and we apply here what succeeds in the USA." This deal may appear as an advantage for China but in reality it kept the USA in the dominant position of always having the latest, most advanced technology. Yes, China saved billions of dollars in research by exploiting the research made in the USA, but at the same time it indirectly surrendered the command position of the world economy to the USA.

    Besides these two fascinating models of economic development there is also a European model, which is more about the quality of life and respect for human dignity. This European model has been much reviled in the US media because it has delivered slow growth, large national debts and a general decline in living standards. The Chinese and Silicon Valley models seem to be a lot more successful. The best indicator is the movement of people: how many bright California graduates are excited at the prospect of moving permanently to Europe? how many bright European graduates are excited at the prospect of moving to California? The difference is obvious, and it is measured in millions.

    This is a pity because European universities have little reason to envy their richer Californian counterparts, other than the charisma. Look at Nobel Prize winners and European countries still rank very high. Compared to the population, they still rank at the top. The world-wide web was invented in Switzerland by a British scientist. The most celebrated achievement of today's artificial intelligence (so called "deep learning") comes from Google's DeepMind subsidiary, based in Britain, and was invented in Canada. Much of the automotive technology comes from Germany and much of the electrical automotive technology comes from Japan. Much of the 5G technology was invented and developed outside the USA (polar coding was invented by Erdal Arikan in Turkey, and today's LDPC comes from David MacKay of Cambridge University and Radford Neal of University of Toronto). The smartphone was invented in Finland by Nokia. The first major voice service over the Internet, Skype, was invented by Estonians. Almost all smartphones use design from ARM in Britain. European scientists contributed significantly to the development of biotechnology. And so on. We tend to think of all of this as being "American" because Silicon Valley, and to a lesser extent the Boston and Seattle areas, are the places where these technologies receive the impetus to spread globally and change the world.

    The real problem is simple. Let's list the high-tech giants that have emerged in the last 20-25 years: Google, Amazon, Facebook, Netflix, Uber, Airbnb, Nvidia, Tesla, ... Alibaba, Huawei, Tencent... No European firm deserves to be in that list (Skype was acquired by Microsoft, DeepMind by Google, Nokia by Microsoft, ARM by Softbank). Why can't Europe (600 million people) spawn the avalanche of high-tech startups that is typical of Silicon Valley? What's so difficult about creating something like Uber? Or even like Twitter? Why couldn't Europe come up with copycats like Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent (the Chinese eBay, Google and Facebook)? Now the Europeans are even taking 5G from Huawei. It wasn't always this way. I remember the days when Olivetti was the #10 computer manufacturer in the world and #2 after IBM in personal computers, or when SAP was #1 in enterprise software. What is incredible is the passive acceptance of US platforms by the European audience. If you are into music, for example, you probably check websites such as Discogs, Rateyourmusic, Metacritic, YouTube,...

    When in May 2019 Trump decided to block China's Huawei from using US technology, it was a humiliating moment in European history. Huawei is Chinese and the technology at stake is made in the USA: hardware from Qualcomm and software from Google. But the battlefield was actually Europe. Huawei has become a major vendor of telecom products to European countries. Chinese consumers didn't feel any difference from Trump's sanctions because Google's applications are banned in China. US consumers didn't feel any difference because their phones are not made by Huawei. But European consumers use Chinese-made Huawei phones that use US-made software and hardware. This episode highlighted how deeply Europe now relies on US and Chinese high-tech firms for both gadgets and services.

    Europe has been mostly silent about the trade war unleashed by Trump against China (which is probably just an attempt to distract the public from the investigations on The Decoupling). Maybe it is time that Europe reaches the same conclusion. I remember when, in the 1980s, some Europeans were calling for a European alternative to the Unix operating system and to Microsoft's operating system. Nothing came out of it because Europeans were so dis-united. Ditto for the Internet: Europe was unable to develop its own version of an Internet. Ironically, the World-wide Web that runs on the Internet (the thing we use daily for browsing and shopping) was invented in Europe, but gifted to the whole world for free. That's because Europeans were dis-united and too weak and short-sighted to understand their own scientific and technological capital. If you look at the individual European countries, they can hardly compete with the USA, China or even Japan. Together, they would be a formidable match for anybody.

    When comparing the European Union to the USA, Europeans routinely fail to notice the biggest difference: the USA is one tightly integrated nation whereas the EU is a loose aggregation of nations. The fact that European countries speak different languages is actually not a big difference (walk around Los Angeles or New York for a few days and you'll probably hear more languages than if you travel one month in Europe), but the fact that each country keeps its own government with its own economic policies (and its own elections) makes a big difference. Several of these countries (notably France and Italy) are chronically incapable of reforming their failing systems, and there is no higher authority that can force the change on them.

    The problem, in other words, is precisely the opposite of what the neo-nationalists claim, and the solution would be the exact opposite of what they prescribe. The solution would be more and deeper integration; maybe not the same for all countries, but different levels (or concentric circles) of integration depending on each country's status, what they call "a multi-speed" union.

    The USA is very good at turning crises into opportunities. Europe should learn from that positive attitude. In particular, the exit of Britain should be viewed as a major opportunity, not a loss. Britain was probably right about many issues of integration, but it was also the main obstacle to integration. Two important consequences of "Brexit" are that: a) Britain will be a much weaker country than it ever was, fairly irrelevant on the world stage and even within Europe; and b) Britain will not have the power to slow down or even block European integration. Look at them as opportunities. When Britain was inside the EU, it was a dangerous oddity: a declining political and economic entity with a lot of power to decide the future of the EU. Once Britain moves outside, the EU will have more freedom to integrate. And the EU will clearly dwarf Britain in all international decisions. That is, of course, unless the neo-nationalists turn out to be an even bigger force than Britain in sabotaging Europe.

    Years ago, i advocated expelling Britain from the EU for precisely the same reasons: Britain was not necessarily wrong most of the times, but it was a destabilizing factor at this stage of loose integration.

    The European countries are the most democratic in the world. Compare with the USA, where the president is often the one who lost the elections, and the senate is wildly disproportionate (a 40-million people state like California gets the same number of senators as 579,000 people Wyoming). European countries don't have these aberrations: the leader of the country is the winner of the elections, period, and the composition of parliament is roughly proportional to votes. US kings such as George W Bush and Donald Trump did not have a mandate from the people (they distorted it completely) whereas European governments do represent for real the will of the people. Alas, this is not true of the European Union: the EU is as undemocratic as the USA because the European Council (created in 1975 and formalized in 2009) and the European Commission (created in 1958) wield more power than the democratically elected European Parliament (created in 1952 as the Common Assembly); and each national government maintain a lot of power in vetoing European legislation.

    The meta-problem is that European voters have not changed their allegiance: their primary allegiance is to their own country (or even province) and allegiance to the EU is a very minor secondary one. While 20 years ago one could sense pride in young people to be European, today there is little sense of European identity throughout the continent.

    Worse: there is also little allegiance to the concept of progress. Europeans have mostly decided that they want to spend their money in providing the best possible welfare rather than in innovation. That is a legitimate goal, but unfortunately we live in a very competitive world. When you spend too many years not innovating, three things happen: 1. other countries pass in front of you; 2. it becomes very difficult for you to return to innovate; 3. your brightest and most ambitious talents move to countries that are investing in innovation. This then becomes a vicious loop, with lower and lower innovation, lower and lower competitivity, lower and lower value. Then one day you suddenly realize that foreign products are better, but you cannot afford them. Then you realize that your domestic products are not wanted anywhere else. Then you realize that you don't have the money to fund your welfare system. Then your welfare system rapidly declines and decays. Then you become a nation of poor emigrants, and eventually you may disintegrate into a civil war.

    When this smug attitude marries irrational superstitions, instead of rational planning, it becomes an explosive mix. Europeans have their own dogmas and paranoias. For example, they are all in favor of electric cars but then they produce electricity by burning coal. The contribution of gasoline-powered cars to carbon-dioxide emissions is small compared with the damage caused by coal. It makes sense only if the electricity is produced with solar, wind or nuclear energy. Unfortunately, solar and wind energy can't grow that much, so the obvious fact is that only an energetic (sorry for the pun) nuclear power strategy makes sense. Guess what: Europeans are increasingly opposed to nuclear power. This is just one of the many contradictions that plague Europe. Think of the "yellow vest" movement in France. France has always been at the forefront in the fight against "climate change". Its president Macron thought it was perfectly rational to impose a tax on gasoline. But that started the biggest protest movement related to a government tax since the US revolution. In 2009, to avoid bankruptcy, Chrysler accepted a buyout by Fiat. It looked like Fiat had saved Chrysler, but within a few years it became obvious that the opposite was happening: Chrysler's cars (for example the ever popular Jeep) were high-margin business while Fiat's cars were low-margin business and rapidly shrinking. Fiat cars should be the public's darlings if the public was serious about saving on gasoline. Unfortunately, the public is not doing what it says should be done.

    Europeans need to abandon irrational, hypocritical attitudes. Instead the nationalist parties encourage and parasite on these attitudes.

    Europeans need a wildly different attitude. First and foremost, someone has to come up with truly innovative (even outrageous) ways of thinking. Let me try a few, just to explain what i mean by "innovative".

    The people of Europe, who have always been very good at marching in the streets, should demand tighter and quicker integration so that the European Union can quickly become a world power to match the USA and China. Europe doesn't even have a unified military and still depends on an unreliable USA for its defense. It should rearm quickly and become a reasonable match for Russia without any need for the US nuclear umbrella.

    What would be the rational response to the dependency on US technology? If you cannot have your own Googles and Facebooks, at least demand that the real Googles and Facebooks of the USA move their headquarters and their main research to Europe, with the threat of shutting them down completely from the European market if they don't. Ditto for Qualcomm, Intel and all other hardware makers. If the USA retaliates against European cars or cheese, so be it. Hardware and software are more strategic in the long term. Lure the whole of Silicon Valley (and Boston and Seattle and so on) away from the USA. Support California independence movement. Offer California a union with the EU. A bold strategist can think bigger and bigger. Think bigger, not smaller.

    What would be the rational response to the masses of immigrants who risk their lives to enter Europe? Quite simple actually: take it as proof that their own countries failed, and therefore why not simply re-colonize those countries, except that this time it would be done by the EU as a whole and with a clear path to accession? If millions of Syrians prefer Germany to Syria, why should Syria remain independent and millions of Syrians forced to live away from their homeland? Why not simply incorporate Syria into the European Union? Ditto for other failed countries around the world. A "multi-speed" union could automatically include provisions for a modern version of the status of "colony". The 20th century made a big deal of and demonized colonization but this is a dogma: sometimes colonization has been a terrible affair, other times it has actually helped. Without wanting to get into the histories of Lebanon, Egypt and Eritrea (all cases that in my opinion warrant a reexamination of the pros and cons of colonization), look at Italy as an experiment in the impact of colonization: to some extent, the way its regions fare today is a consequence of which foreign country colonized them. The 20th century assumed that the ultimate goal of a nation has to be self-determination, but the millions of refugees desperately fleeing their countries should make us think twice: is it possible that the ultimate goals are, instead, more tangible things like prosperity, security, education and progress? If so, self-determination is the best method to achieve the goals only if the country has the human resources to run itself as well as the old colonial empire did. I am not sure this is true of Lebanon and Eritrea. Is Egypt doing better today as a poor country than when it was a rich British colony? There is a difference between dogmas and facts.

    I also think, based on personal experiences, that Europe needs to start rewarding those who want to work, not punish them. I was in Pisa a few years ago. I arrived early to beat the crowds. Unfortunately, i found out that monuments open very late in the morning. I have two hours to kill. I needed food, souvenirs and batteries for my camera. All the stores run by Italians were closed. I bought batteries from a Chinese store (that was open). I bought souvenirs from African street vendors (possibly illegal immigrants). And i had breakfast at an Arab restaurant (the only one that was already open). These are the people that Salvini wants to expel from Italy, but they were the only ones working when i was there. It doesn't help. If you kick out the ones who arrive with nothing, work very hard, and are the only one serving the tourist when the tourist wants to spend his money, you are heading for bankruptcy. What you should do is exactly the opposite: those people are the opportunity, not the problem.

    This position is neither anti-immigrant nor neo-colonial: it is a recognition of the facts on the ground, that immigrants are beneficial to Europe and that their countries of origin are not capable of governing themselves. Of course, i have no idea of what would be the proper way to "annex" and govern these countries. Force their regimes to hold referendums on re-colonization? It sounds ridiculous... until you focus on how ridiculous their current governments are.

    Are you serious about fighting climate change? European countries don't have oil and are opposed to coal. Wait no longer for a massive nuclear energy policy. Nuclear is the solution, albeit certainly not a perfect one. It has an additional advantage: Europe will get rid of its dependency on Russia and the Middle East. Increasing the price of gasoline does little to slow down climate change. Banning gasoline-powered cars would do more, but, again, only if the electricity to power electical cars comes from a clean source, not from coal. Everybody talks about the rise of the right-wing parties in failed countries like Italy and France, but few focus on the rise of the Green Party in Germany, the real economic power of Europe: the Christian Democrats won just 22% of the vote and Social Democrats won 16%, whereas the Greens won 20.5% and for the first time they almost became the main party of Germany. I still have to understand how you can be a "green" and not be in favor of nuclear energy. There are weekly student protests in German cities demanding action on climate, but the country is paralyzed because there is nothing that you can do without nuclear power, and the same students are demanding that Germany shuts down its nuclear power plants. French president Emmanuel Macron and others proposed to make Europe carbon-free by 2050. Germany abandoned him and he is being almost overthrown by the "yellow vest" movement.

    In foreign policy Europeans should display more dignity. Notably, Europeans should demand that the security council of the United Nations be revised: it makes no sense that Britain and France have veto power like the USA while India, Japan, Germany and Brazil don't; but it would make a lot of sense that the EU had it. Russia enjoys the privilege only in virtue of its thousands of nuclear weapons: in reality, it has a tiny economy (smaller than South Korea's). USA, China, EU, Japan, India and Brazil can claim a privileged status because of the size of their economy. A privilege based on nuclear weapons, or on winning a war 70 years ago, makes no sense.

    I could go on. I just tried a thought exercise of coming up with "outrageously rational" ideas that rarely get discussed. Why not?

    But, for rational and radical ideas to be feasible, it takes a very united and tightly integrated Europe, otherwise all thought experiments are pointless. I just sense that the whole world would benefit from a third model besides the "Silicon Valley model" and the "Chinese model", and a united Europe could provide such a model; but it has to be a model different from the other two, otherwise, sorry, we already have those.

    TM, ®, Copyright © 2019 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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