€urosclerosis: Guess what? Austerity works!

It has been a while since we have addressed the crisis in Greece, the last article, €urosclerosis: Things are going to get better for Greece, coming last August, and now we see this from The Wall Street Journal:

Greek Budget Surplus Beats Target
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras Says 2013 Surplus Will Be Nearly Double Its Target
By Stelios Bouras | Feb. 16, 2014 8:02 a.m. ET

ATHENS—Greece’s primary budget surplus for 2013 will be nearly double its target, the country’s prime minister said Sunday.

Antonis Samaras said the primary budget surplus, which doesn’t take into account interest payments, will exceed €1.5 billion ($2.05 billion), compared with an upwardly revised target of €812 million.

The apparent improvement comes a year ahead of schedule and after years of tax rises and spending cuts demanded by international creditors in exchange for two bailouts worth a combined €240 billion. Athens wasn’t expected to achieve a primary surplus until the end of 2014, according to goals set by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

“I tell you now that it exceeds €1.5 billion,” Mr. Samaras is quoted as saying by weekly newspaper To Vima in comments confirmed by his office. “This means that a very large part of it will be returned this year to the community.”

More at the link. Equally interesting are the articles listed in the Journal’s Euro Debt Crisis Stream:1

  • Euro-Zone Recovery Picks Up Slightly
  • Italian Economy Emerges from Slump
  • Europe’s Recovery Gains Momentum
  • Greek Economy Contracts Less Than Expected

The economic picture in Europe is far from rosy, and the eurozone recovery is still below that required to make a significant reduction in unemployment, but the austerity programs put in place have been followed by an economic situation that is growing, slightly, and at least not getting any worse, while the naysayers – including the esteemed Paul Krugman had predicted that austerity programs would lead to a depression.

Let me put it very bluntly: they were wrong! The people who spent much newsprint, broadcast time and internet bandwidth telling us that we must spend, spend, spend to push a recovery, and that the austerity programs would make things worse, much worse, were wrong! Meanwhile, those of us who said that austerity might be unpleasant but it was the only path for responsible government leaders, were right.

Of course, it’s easy for Dr Krugman and his like-thinkers to tell us that we must borrow and spend ever more money, to get the nation and Europe out of recession, because they are actually responsible for nothing. If Dr Krugman’s predictions wind up wrong, as they have, there’s no harm done at all, at least not if his policy prescriptions were not employed by governments who believed him.   The men and women who actually are responsible for their country’s well-being have to be right, and the evidence is that the ones who chose austerity, the ones who (finally) opted for a conservative economic policy were right.

  1. All articles have the same hyperlink in the stream

14 Comments

  1. Sharon sent this to me via Facebook:

    Internet Trolls Really Are Horrible People
    Narcissistic, Machiavellian, psychopathic, and sadistic.
    By Chris Mooney

    n the past few years, the science of Internet trollology has made some strides. Last year, for instance, we learned that by hurling insults and inciting discord in online comment sections, so-called Internet trolls (who are frequently anonymous) have a polarizing effect on audiences, leading to politicization, rather than deeper understanding of scientific topics.

    That’s bad, but it’s nothing compared with what a new psychology paper has to say about the personalities of trolls themselves. The research, conducted by Erin Buckels of the University of Manitoba and two colleagues, sought to directly investigate whether people who engage in trolling are characterized by personality traits that fall in the so-called Dark Tetrad: Machiavellianism (willingness to manipulate and deceive others), narcissism (egotism and self-obsession), psychopathy (the lack of remorse and empathy), and sadism (pleasure in the suffering of others).

    It is hard to underplay the results: The study found correlations, sometimes quite significant, between these traits and trolling behavior. What’s more, it also found a relationship between all Dark Tetrad traits (except for narcissism) and the overall time that an individual spent, per day, commenting on the Internet.

    In the study, trolls were identified in a variety of ways. One was by simply asking survey participants what they “enjoyed doing most” when on online comment sites, offering five options: “debating issues that are important to you,” “chatting with others,” “making new friends,” “trolling others,” and “other.” Here’s how different responses about these Internet commenting preferences matched up with responses to questions designed to identify Dark Tetrad traits:

    More at the link, but the source was Slate, not exactly a rabid right wing site. One of the internal citations was to Mother Jones, a far-left political magazine.

  2. Re. Trolls

    Amazing, if true. I’ll have to take a close read to evaluate.

    What’s surprising is, that if the responses are true, there seems to be very little self-censoring effect at work on the part of the trolls – even in granting a possible anonymity of respondents.

    It doesn’t seem to occur to trolls that their deliberately disruptive activity intended to harm, is wrong.

    Maybe it isn’t so surprising though. Based on the experiences we have had with them, and with their own self-reporting, it seems that they view the harm they are doing as a positive good: in either discomfiting and creating chaos among people they think of as retrograde evolutionary dead ends, or by gratifying themselves with the pleasure they receive from annoying people who would not otherwise have any interest in them.

    Perry would be an example of the first for the most part; and the NZ Troll and example of both, but the second for the most part.

    In either case they seem to have embraced what edified people used to think of as outright evil, i.e., engaging in disruption, disparagement, and detraction, in the creation of chaos, and in the taking of malicious pleasure, as their notion of “good”.

    Kind of alarming when looked at through a particular perspective. A perspective which they as moral nihilists completely reject of course.

  3. On what basis do you define a troll to be?

    Is a troll one who is intent on debating issues with those who disagree politically and ideologically?

    Or is a troll one who continually makes personal attacks?

    I fit the former definition.

    All but the Editor himself fall into the latter definition.

    Yet it is the debater who gets shut down.

    Under more normal times, this would not be an issue.

    Then you wonder why no one else steps up to the discussion, except members of the choir.

    [Comment from previously banned commenter, who has once again wormed his way around the filter, not removed, to make this point. The former commenter, who has said that he makes only debating points, was banned in the following article.-- Editor]

    Our first banning

    On Thursday, December 27th, I wrote:

    The final word: knock off all threats, suggestions, intimations, whatevers, that koolo or any other poster or commenter here should be reported to the police or to his employers, period. Eric thinks I should just ban you, permanently, and after twice suspending you (Wagonwheel) for 15 days for this type of behavior, you have not learned your lesson. This is the last warning! Once more, and I shall take Eric’s suggested action, and impose a permanent ban!

    At 5:45 PM EST today, you posted yet another comment referencing a commenter’s position and employment. When Hube protested, John Hitchcock — who saw it before I did — sent the comment into moderation. Then, at 6:03 PM (in another comment Mr Hitchcock sent into moderation), you protested your innocence in the same manner you did so often with koolo (seemingly having finally driven him away), by saying that, now, Hube’s behavior would cause no problem for his employers, where before, it would.

    I have no idea what part of This is the last warning! Once more, and I shall take Eric’s suggested action, and impose a permanent ban! is so difficult to understand. Yet you persist, always attempting to stretch the envelope, always trying to see just what you can get away with.

    Well, if you were somehow unable to understand the meaning of that very unambiguous sentence, no one else is, including your Editor, the man who wrote it. You had a final warning, not even a month ago, but just couldn’t help yourself. And I am bound by the words I wrote, and have taken the action promised. I very much regret having to do that, but that is what you have pushed me into doing.

    That should put an end — though I doubt it will — concerning claims that Perry has made no personal attacks. Calling someone an idiot may be rude, but it doesn’t actually hurt anyone; threatening someone with the police or action against his job does hurt someone, and attempts to intimidate that commenter from speaking his mind.

  4. You fit the psychopathy and sadism part most of all, you pathetic piece scum. Isn’t there another site you can go to and threaten someone else who refuses to fall prey to your asinine obsessions and compulsions?

    Now go away. Don’t forget the litany of medication you need, including the obsessive-compulsive horse pill, your lithium, and five grams of Prozac.

  5. The sad part is that Perry’s first comment was expressed perfectly reasonably, with no personal attacks whatsoever, and while I disagreed with what he wrote, and would have answered it in debate — and was tempted to do so anyway — such would be just the camel’s nose under the tent, and would lead us right back to where we were before.

  6. Correct, Editor. As much as I might be tempted to say ‘Give him another chance,” his proven recidivism rate would make a local prison’s pale in comparison.

  7. Yeah, I noticed that Perry was raising a stink over at the Huffington Post over their demand for your blood type, proof of mother’s driver’s license, and a pledge of unconditional support for the right of LesbianBLT types (or whatever the f+ck it is) to get in your face and suck your blood in the name of community values solidarity, before commenting.

    No … Just kidding.

    On the other hand and more seriously, I see that Perry Hood is actively using the blog provided to him by this editor in order to create new and interesting original postings of his own; to argue for more self-direction and individual economic and political freedom for all here at home; to inveigh against the murderous oppression of Christian minorities overseas; to take an evenhanded approach in condemning overreach and dictatorial tendencies in the Executive Office no matter who the occupant; and finally most importantly, to make it clear that contrary to any previous impression he has left, he does in fact renounce totalitarian and coercive communitarian political aims.

    Yes, Perry has finally come out and admitted that he has no real right to make bloodsucking collectivist claims against people who owe him and his kind, exactly nothing.

    What?

    No.

    … no, of course I’m not serious.

  8. Perry says he only wants to debate, but he neglects to acknowledge how his repeated threats to inform on political opponents poisons any possibility of the open and productive exchange of ideas. That glaring omission is absolutely typical of the brutal narcissism and psychopathy of criminals, bullies, and trolls. Refusal or inability to admit wrongdoing, even in the face of overwhelming evidence, is one, if not the, defining characteristic of those who deserve to be shunned.

    Perry exhibits the worst proclivities of Internet trolls, he’s a textbook case, at his core he’s fundamentally a totalitarian thug, blatantly dishonest and proud of it, and completely intolerant of dissenting opinions. In other words, an unprincipled barbarian, unfit for civil society, and thoroughly deserving of being cast out of the society of responsible adults. If Perry seeks debate let him find others of his kind, he’s disqualified himself from participation with honorable men.

  9. Well, the answer is obvious: despite the existence of thousands of other conservative sites on which Perry might post his opinions, to try to get a debate going, he keeps coming back to this one. Clearly, it’s because we’re the best! :)

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