Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Better Swedes than Babies

Ross Douthat thinks that we're missing a vibrancy and an optimism that accompanies high birth rates. That may be true, probably not, but what really bugs me is the argument that the wealth of nations depends on the quantity of babies produced.

Labor markets can be corrected by immigration policy. If the Japanese quit reproducing, there's a wealth of human capital in sub-Saharan Africa. Now that we've overcome our respective national chauvinisms (ahem), teamwork can remedy the imbalances in our demographics.

Take for example those historic rivals, the Norwegians and the Swedes. Once Norway discovered its oil and became decadent and effete (in a Douthatian sense), it decided to import loutish labors from its eastern neighbor. Which keeps a smirk on Norway's face, but also enriches everyone, so that no one has to implore women to crank out more.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Colonizing the NBA

Sportswriter Dave Zirin illustrates how America may have failed its youth: the Europeans are beating us at basketball.

It's surprising to look at the NBA and see not just a token lumbering Slav but several roster spots on each team being Europeans. Zirin blames American-style player development. We spur on top athletes with promises of cash, while hustling them through their education en route to stardom (or abject failure).

Meanwhile, European players must overcome a stereotype of overratedness. They have to learn to adapt to this country's more physical playing style by adding muscle. These players have changed the NBA with their combined height and jump shots.

Zirin only hints at my conclusion in this post. Elite athletes are the products of their homelands' economic system. Germany keeps pace with China in exports and virtually dictates Continental policy. It's no stretch to say that economic infrastructure produces guys like Dirk Nowitzki.

One more argument for disciplined planning and against America's "gambling-oriented plutocracy."