More dangerous than a decline in prosperity.

By Confusion on maandag 2 februari 2009 20:48 - Comments (4)
Category: Politics, Views: 3.665

We've been hearing about the financial crisis for over a year now, but I don't think many people have tried to imagine what we may be in for. The expected decline in prosperity may be the least of our concerns, when articles like these get published and linked on Slashdot.

In the article, indignation is expressed over the fact that over 21800 requests for immigration permits were issued by 'the same banks that are now receiving rescue packages totaling over $150 billion, even as the system was melting down'.

Factually, the article is ludicrous. Firstly the number '21800' is the total over the past six years, which certainly doesn't match up with 'even as the system was melting down'. Secondly, that number is pointless without an estimate of the number of people working for the corporations that issued the requests. When you have that estimate, you will note that the 3700 requests a year is actually quite small when compared to the total number of jobs in the sector and when comparing it with other Western countries, it turns out to be a pretty average number. Thirdly, the article goes on to complain about the average salary these immigrants receive, comparing it to the average salary of an american household, while completely ignoring the fact that we are talking about people in banking here. I could go on, but I think I made my point.

As this article obviously isn't intended to be informative, what is its intention? I can see only one. Mix the anger people feel towards the banking sector with their latent xenophobia and their natural suspicion of the government and you've got an article that pushes people towards nationalism. This is the kind of inflammatory 'journalism' that may well be a signpost of things to come: in the coming crisis every country is on its own and as nationalistic tendencies awaken, we may well be in for xenophobia and war.

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By Tweakers user TrekDude101, maandag 2 februari 2009 21:01

That's a very disturbing image you're suggesting, and i certainly hope it won't result in drastic measures taken by our awakening nationalistic tendencies.

btw, according to firefox, all of what i'm typing is wrong :)

By Tweakers user Roytoch, maandag 2 februari 2009 21:06

Indeed, this matter has been brought up in numerous articles over the last couple of weeks. There is a strong tendency towards protectionism, alti-globalization and of course the problems mentioned in you're blog, affecting people. The stocks have fallen, but apart from suddenly-homeless stock brokers, the problems didn't really seem to affect 'us'. Now, we see the macro-economic developments, landing in our own backyard. Nationalism, xenophobia etcetera are big threats, not only the economic downfall.

Apart from that, I really appreciate the fact that I find this type of blogs on tweakblogs!

By Tweakers user Thijs_O, maandag 2 februari 2009 21:35

For one you are adressing a good issue here: the way that media reports on the financial crisis. It is interesting to analyse the massmedia: what motives do they have? What's in it for them? It's a question to which the answer depends on the newspaper you choose as example. For example, De Telegraaf is known for sensational newscoverage so one can expect sensational headers, random numbers placed out of their context (just like the example in your blog) and in general an article which is all about sensation. Then again, if you would take a look in for example NRC you are likely to find an article on the recession which is not screaming for attention but more rather rich of information put in good context.

Just like the examples above, one can indeed also expect a more nationalistic newspaper. Especially in a country like the USA, where nationalism is much more intense than here in Holland, an article which blames any country or external factor but the USA itself is something one is indeed likely to stumble upon.

Nevertheless, I think that your - quite sensational, ironically - concluding paragraph is a bit exaggerated. Perhaps because you read about the crash of Wallstreet at the end of the Roaring 20's and try to see a link between then and now. Should that part of history have influenced your ideas about possible future developments of the global economy, I think you have to start seeing the differences between then and now.

The economy these days is much more soficticated, more than ever it's all about global economy. You can't just turn yourself into nationalism and a world war like back in the old days. I've been doing some studying and research on the Interbellum myself lately and there are much more reasons that World War II came into existence. Blaming just the bad economy on that is over-simplified.

Back in those days the tensions between nations were huge. Colonisation and Imperialism were on of the major reasons for Japan to start conquering East and South-East Asia, 'taking back from the West' - which later caused the USA to join WOII (Pearl Harbor.. etc). Back in Europe it was Germany which was unable to restabilize it's economy, ultimately leading to the appointment of Hitler as absolute sovereign over Germany. It was nationalism which caused Germany to go into war, but the bad economy was due to the unfair Treaty of Versailles which took all economic stability from the already severely economically weakened Germany after WW1.

The only thing which is slightly identical to the current situation is the fact that both era's witnessed a crash followed by a recession. No big deal, it happened before (1980s in Holland, for example) and we're still here without a war. The worldwide economy is too globalized to permit any country which is of some importance to go to war. Also, none of the Western countries afflicted by the recession/economic downfall has just lost a major war against another Western country and is filled up with nationalism while people are starving because they don't have shit to eat.

Therefore I have to conclude: You make a good point. It's important to always evaluate the value of news by looking who supplied the news and analyzing that person's or organisation's motives. But your conclusion, in which you warn for a new era of nationalism and potentially war, is something I certainly don't agree with for reasons on which I elaborated earlier in this post.

Note: Sorry if my english isn't that great.

By Tweakers user rodie83, dinsdag 3 februari 2009 01:41

Though media ofcourse have an certain power, you are overestimating them when you state that what they write can cause war. Luckily, there is a government which (besides in time of elections :P) has the actual knowledge to decide what and when will happen.

In my humble opinion, the financial crisis can only be solved by MORE gobalization. Even though the crisis started in America, it does not mean it is an American problem. What happens in America affects us and the rest of the world, whether we like it or not. I am sure Obama acknowledges this fact, and with him much much more politcal keyfigures. To be honest I think this crisis will bring the world more together, instead of driving countries apart.

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