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A Ponzi scheme that works (economist.com)
63 points by dpapathanasiou on Dec 25, 2009 | hide | past | favorite | 27 comments

Almost nobody in Japan thinks that anyone can become Japanese, yet Japan is rated more “tolerant” than America. This is absurd.

I always joke (mostly good naturedly) that when my best Japanese friend visited me at home he had people assuming he was American literally 20 feet past immigration, and when I visit him at home I get people who have known me for seven years saying "Wow, its so amazing you can use chopsticks, for an American I mean."

"If you like low taxes and the death penalty, try Texas. For good public schools and subsidised cycle paths, try Portland, Oregon. Even within states, the rules vary widely. Bath County, Kentucky is dry. Next-door Bourbon County, as the name implies, is not."

That's one of the secrets of the United States. Federalism allows citizens lots of lifestyle choices, while still building a great deal of national cohesion. And that variety state by state is what produces a uniform attractiveness to immigrants (the main point of the submitted article) that keeps the United States growing and innovating.

Which state can I move to to opt out of the national debt?

Sidestepping the question, let's ask:

1. If the US defaults, what country can I move to that will substantially increase my odds of success?

2. If fiat currencies hyperinflate, [same question]?

There's a very, very short list to answer those questions.

Hmm. A country that:

1) doesn't hold US debt and does not do substantial trade with the US (sorry Canada, Japan, Mexico, et al)

2) Has large reserves of gold, petroleum or industrial minerals.

3) wants skilled English-speaking immigrants

... that leaves South Africa, Brazil, and... maybe AU?

If you have 2, then you need 1. I'm thinking about Brazil's offshore reserves.

That would involve a move to a different country. What country do you prefer on that basis?

All but 16 countries have lower external debt per capita, so there's a fair amount of choices:


If debt is your only criteria, then Oman is your best bet: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_public_deb...

I've always considered myself a 'global citizen' after living in the US for 15 years. During a 10 day trip to Germany. I was thrown out of a bar for asking directions in english, yelled at by some crazy dude in a train station for stealing their jobs and people crossed streets just to avoid a dark guy.

When I landed in Los Angeles, the minute I saw a mexican american immigration officer, I almost cried. I was home. No one will question me why I am here. The mexicans, the chinese, the Indians, the whites and the blacks. They are all my people.

I might have my curry everyday but my spirit is american.

Yeah welcome to America, where if you don't fit in -- you fit in. :) We're the pound-puppies, mongrels, and half-breeds of the planet.

'Listening to her Dutch friends, she assumed that Americans were fat, loutish, naive and sexually repressed. “But then I came here and found it was all false,” she smiles.'

So very true. The same would apply to British attitudes towards the US. Spending a short time travelling around the US cleared away all my misconceptions, thankfully.

As a side note, I suspect that attitudes might be equally uninformed the other way around, that is about Europe from the US. Europe is incredibly diverse yet I often read opinions from the US treating the continent as a whole.

Somehow I expected a new Scheme implementation, called Ponzi Scheme.

"If you like low taxes and the death penalty, try Texas. For good public schools and subsidised cycle paths, try Portland, Oregon. Even within states, the rules vary widely. Bath County, Kentucky is dry. Next-door Bourbon County, as the name implies, is not."

I like dope and I don't like going to jail, so thanks but no thanks.

Possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana in Ann Arbor, Michigan is a civil infraction with a $25 fine, like a parking ticket.


Massachusetts approved decriminalization - $100 fine for an ounce or less: http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2008/11/quest...

try Canada.

What makes the Ponzi scheme work is strong property rights supported by a large middle class.

I would prefer if people would link to the normal article, not the printable page. If I want that version I can click the print link myself. If I don't want that version, I have to go search for the original location of the article.

This was posted a few days ago. Using the normal link would flag it as a duplicate.

However, I think in most cases I'd prefer the printable version. Some articles are split up into multiple pages, and the printable version combines them and is often cleaner and faster to load.

For readability, you can always use... well... Readability: http://lab.arc90.com/experiments/readability

People often link to the print view because the normal view is paginated. Readability won't solve pagination.

And having articles split in multiple pages with just a little text on each is more and more common (because ad revenue depends on CPM, of course). Someone should augment Readability to combine multiple pages into one.

In general, linking to the canonical version of an article rather than any other version helps the HN duplicate detector do its job. That is especially hard for articles from the Economist, which live under multiple URLs in different subdirectories on the Economist website. But most of those articles, as this one, are well worth submitting and good food for thought.


"A Ponzi scheme that works" set off bell in my mind.

It seems like this article rolls two different questions together. One is whether immigration is good. The other is whether the US can continue to grow economically based only on "Three hundred million" niche markets.

Putting aside the former question, I'd say the answer to the latter question is no. Housing bubbles, health care and state spending have not always America's number one industries. Too many of the "hundred million niche markets" that can be touted have really been just support services for the aforementioned sustainable schemes. The US may be able to keep it's "service economy" afloat for another few years but the crisis of 2008 should have been wake-up call announcing unsustainability of this course. Naturally it wasn't, but there you are.

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