Europe abandoning what America is embracing

From  Europe rewrites its rule book in creating fund to contain financial crisis:

The massive emergency fund assembled to defend the value of the euro is backed by a political gamble with an uncertain outcome: that European governments will rewrite a post-World War II social contract that has been generous to workers and retirees but has become increasingly unaffordable for an aging population.

So Europe is drawing back from the social democratic welfare state JUST AS the United States is adopting the social democratic welfare state.

Conservatives take over in Britain

David Cameron is Britain’s new prime minister.  This was the result of a coalition between the Conservative party and the middle-of-the-road Liberal Democrats.  The Labour party is out of power for the first time in 13 years.  This is the first coalition government in Britain since Winston Churchill’s during World War II.

As we see the parliamentary system at work–in which the leader of the leading party in the legislature becomes Prime Minister–do you see some advantages over the American two-party system?

British coalition talks hinge on cutting the deficit

The efforts of the Brits to forget a coalition government is centering, according to this article, on how to drive down the deficit, avoiding another Greek syndrome.  Notice that the American deficit is just as bad, suggesting that cutting budgets and imposing austerity measures will be the task of all responsible governments:

Inside the stately buildings of Whitehall in the shadow of Big Ben, party leaders trying to forge a government hunkered down for talks this weekend with a 167-billion-pound elephant in the room: the British budget deficit.

Investor panic over Greece’s debt problems is engulfing Spain and Portugal, and political officials here are racing to head off speculation that Britain could be next. Thursday's election yielded no clear majority in Parliament, plunging parties into intense rounds of horse-trading to assemble a workable coalition. Their most critical goal: the creation of a government willing to undertake what is set to be the most painful round of spending cuts in Britain since World War II.

The focus of the coalition talks underscores the rising alarm over yawning deficits and crushing debt in developed nations since the onset of the global economic crisis. In Britain, stimulus spending and collapsing tax rolls have left the budget deficit — the shortfall between what the government takes in and what it spends — set to jump to 12 percent of national income this year, the highest in the European Union and roughly on par with that of the United States.

via British coalition talks continue as parties focus on deficit.

The ten largest Lutheran church bodies

James Kushiner at the Touchstone blog quotes an article about how the Lutheran church of Tanzania is standing up in the Lutheran World Federation to oppose the normalization of homosexuality, resolving to reject all aid from the Western Lutherans who accept gay marriage.  Kushiner then marvels at the comment in the news story that Tanzania has the world’s second largest Lutheran church.  He then a little research, finding these to be the top ten (in millions):

1.  Church of Sweden 6.75

2.  Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania 5.3

3.  Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus 5.3

4.  Evangelical Lutheran Church in America 4.6 number on rolls; only 2.7 mil. have taken communion in the past two years

5.  Church of Denmark 4.56.  Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland 4.5

7.  Protestant Christian Batak Church, Indonesia 4.2

8.  Church of Norway 4.0

9.  Malagasy Lutheran Church 3.0

10.  Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanover, Germany 3.0

via Touchstone Magazine – Mere Comments: Tanzania Lutherans Flex, Wont Bend.

What can we learn from this list?   For example, I find it interesting that #2, 3, 7, & 9 are in countries with strong Muslim populations.  Far from being “a German church,” Lutheranism is more like an African church.  As Kushiner says, there are likely more Lutherans worshipping in Africa on any given Sunday than in Europe and the United States put together. Especially considering that the European state churches pretty much list all of their citizens as members, even though they hardly ever attend.

Does anyone have any reliable numbers as to the total number of Lutherans in the world?  I had heard that Lutheranism is the largest Protestant tradition, with some 100,000,000 adherents.  Then I heard that Anglicanism was, citing about as many.  But the actual numbers I have dug up seem to be way out of date, especially given the growth of the church in Africa.

The Greek retirement package

If you are a Greek public service worker, you can retire at age 53, getting 80% of your salary.   If you hold a job officially deemed to be hazarous–including hairdresser (all those chemicals) and broadcaster (bacteria on the microphones), you could retire at 50.

The austerity plan that is the condition for Greece’s bailout requires that the retirement age be raised into the 60s.  This is one reason there is rioting in the streets.

See  this and this .

Interesting linguistic footnote: The Greek word for “crisis” is also the word for judgment.

Public uprising in debt-ridden Greece

What happened to the cradle of Western Civilization?  The new austerity measures designed to deal with the debt crisis in Greece is being protested with a national strike, riots, and localized anarchy, which have already resulted in three deaths:

Greece’s 24-hour nationwide general strike brought much of the country to a standstill, closing government offices and halting flights, trains and ferries.

At the same time, tens of thousands of protesters marched through Athens in the largest and most violent protests since the country's budget crisis began last fall. Angry youths rampaged through the center of Athens, torching several businesses and vehicles and smashing shop windows. Protesters and police clashed in front of parliament and fought running street battles around the city.

Witnesses said hooded protesters smashed the front window of Marfin Bank in central Athens and hurled a Molotov cocktail inside. The three victims died from asphyxiation from smoke inhalation, the Athens coroner’s office said. Four others were seriously injured there, fire department officials said.

A police spokesman said eight fires in Athens office buildings and bank buildings had been brought under control.

Later Wednesday, black smoke billowed from fires on one of Athens's main shopping streets. Glass shards and smoldering garbage littered the sidewalks.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou condemned the violence. “Everyone has the right to protest,” he said in a statement to parliament. “But no one has the right to violence and especially violence that leads to the death of our compatriots.”

Wednesday’s protests were sparked by Greece’s weekend agreement to adopt austerity measures in exchange for a €110 billion ($143 billion) bailout loan from the European Union and the IMF. Unions challenged Greece’s parliament, which could consider the measures as soon as Thursday, to vote them down.

via Europe Crisis Deepens As Chaos Grips Greece –

So Germany and other economically stable countries agree to bail out Greece. But the general public refuses to accept the terms, which require fiscal discipline from the government.  The unions are demanding that the parliament refuse to accept the  conditions!  So what do they think would happen then?