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February 20, 2004

Cyprus. John Quiggin has a good roundup on what he (not unreasonably) says “will probably turn out to be the biggest geopolitical event of the year.” [12:05 AM]
Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Cyprus.:

Dreth ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2004, 08:32 AM:

I'm sorry, but if the current state of EU countries is any sort of accurate example of what it can do, turkey, rather than being a shining example of secular prosperity, will become a place with huge enemployment and a growing population of retirees, with rising social services costs and not enough money to pay them.

Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2004, 08:44 AM:

Dreth, I think it's fallacious to blame EU politics for the inevitable effects of economics and demographics. The problems you mention would occur whether or not the EU were a factor.

As for the Cyprus issue, it's encouraging to think that the Greek/Turkish dispute could be laid to rest and the violence and animosity brought to a close. It's also encouraging to think the same thing about the UK and Ireland, Israel and Palestine, Russia and Chechnya, or any number of other long-standing territorial disputes. I think the Cyprus question is only slightly more likely to be solved in our lifetimes than, for instance, the Northern Ireland question.

Ken Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2004, 09:04 AM:

And this distinguishes them from the US exactly how, Dreth? (Besides that most EU countries count their unemployed, instead of dropping them from the count when they no longer receive benefits.)

Let's see if I have this straight:

1) When offered a chance to participate in a unilateral war (one targeted at bringing down the UK government to herald the return of Thatcher/Major), Turkey asked for $25-30B.

2) When offered a chance to join a coalition trying to negotiate a peaceful settlement of a war whose cost (financial and personal) was dragging down their economy, Turkey worked with the parties and reached an agreement.

Sounds like a government that works for the people.

Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2004, 12:12 PM:

Re counting all the unemployed, as opposed to just counting the people drawing benefits: there's an article in The Economist this week with a rather interesting graph. It shows the percentage of the total adult population in employment in the US since 1980.

Granted, this statistic has its own caveats. I'm presuming they just take the number of people holding jobs and divide by the total population over 16. This includes some high school kids still living at home, elderly in nursing homes, physically and mentally disabled, and others who couldn't possibly work. But it's interesting to note that in the early 80's, we were employing about 58-60% of an adult population of 100 million, while in recent years, we've been employing 62-64% of an adult population of 120-130 million.

Not that this has anything to do with Cyprus, but it does shed some interesting light on the current employment situation, and the article as a whole adds some fuel to the fire of the Great Outsourcing Debate. Well worth reading.

Ken Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2004, 01:14 PM:

I hate to do this to Cyprus--which I really do believe is the UN's SECOND great triumph of the year (Libya; what's was that about a "madman" not understanding sanctions?), of the three they should have had--but...

I'm thrilled that The Economist has discovered that Wal-Mart jobs have massively expanded while jobs where they DON'T give you the pamphlet on how to apply for food stamps when you're hired haven't. In my world, not all jobs are compensated equally.

Here's the monthly data on Percent Employed of all Civilian Workers (over 16) from the 2004 ERP (p. 333):

Annual Mean:

1998 64.1
1999 64.3
2000 64.4
2001 63.7
2002 62.7
2003 62.3

Monthly Data for 2002-2003

Jan-02 62.7
Feb-02 62.9
Mar-02 62.8
Apr-02 62.7
May-02 62.8
Jun-02 62.7
Jul-02 62.7
Aug-02 62.8
Sep-02 63.0
Oct-02 62.8
Nov-02 62.5
Dec-02 62.4
Jan-03 62.5
Feb-03 62.4
Mar-03 62.3
Apr-03 62.4
May-03 62.3
Jun-03 62.3
Jul-03 62.2
Aug-03 62.2
Sep-03 62.1
Oct-03 62.2
Nov-03 62.3
Dec-03 62.2

The downward trend is unmistakeable from the annuals--and fairly straightforward for the first nine months of 2003.

Looking deeper in the details, it appears that much of the stability in the last few months is in shifting jobs from women to men:

Date WM20+ WF20+ BM20+ BF20+

Jul-03 72.3 57.4 64.1 58.6
Aug-03 72.3 57.3 63.9 58.8
Sep-03 72.4 56.9 64.1 58.6
Oct-03 72.6 57.2 63.9 58
Nov-03 72.7 57.2 64.4 58.3
Dec-03 72.6 57.2 64.6 56.9

WM20+ (White Male 20+)
WF20+ (White Female 20+)
BM20+ (Black and other Male 20+)
BF20+ (Black and other Female 20+)

One of these days, I'll figure out how to make tables...


Ken Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2004, 01:14 PM:

Oops. Forgot to note: All data is "seasonally adjusted."

Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2004, 03:45 PM:


You sound like the people--which is just about everyone--who, when I was growing up, said that "of course East and West Germany both say they're for German reunification. They each mean that they'd be happy to take over the other, and it doesn't matter, because the US and USSR will never let it happen."

It was a very plausible argument, geopolitically sound and fitting the way we know governments behave.

Then the people took to the streets, and the parliament of the German Democratic Republic voted itself out of existence.

Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2004, 05:08 PM:


I'd be happy to be proven wrong. But East/West Germany was one of the few long-standing territorial conflicts in the post-WWII era (perhaps ever) to have been resolved peacefully and to the satisfaction of all parties involved. (Okay, relative satisfaction; I'm sure there are still plenty of Germans in the eastern part of the country who are still grumbling that they're not doing as well as the west.)

The deck was stacked in favor of a peaceful solution in Germany. Neither the East nor the West Germans themselves had wanted to split their nation to begin with. There was no ethnic, linguistic, or religious tension. The whole system was imposed from without, mainly by the USSR. And as soon as the USSR lost the power to force its will on Germany, they reunited by mutual consent. (Anyone who thought that the US wouldn't allow German reunification was living in an alternate universe.)

Now, compare to Cyprus: although the division of Cyprus was in large part upheld through Turkish arms, there is a very real division between the Muslim-majority northern Cypriots and the Christian-majority southerners. There are leaders in northern Cyprus who have a lot to gain from the status quo. And those leaders don't miss an opportunity to tell the Muslim Cypriots that they'd have a lot to lose from reunification.

You can draw parallels to Germany, and I'll continue to draw parallels to Ireland. But I'll say again that I'd be happy to see it turn out more like Germany.

Ken, I won't argue with your statistics -- "all employment" covers just as broad a ground as "all adults", and I won't deny that many employed people aren't in fact making a living wage.

But does Wal-Mart really hand new hires a pamphlet on how to apply for food stamps?

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2004, 05:21 PM:

I wonder if WIRED might send Bruce Sterling back to Cyprus in a few years. His pre-reunification article on the island was a good read.

Ken Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2004, 05:25 PM:


Good thing we're not arguing my statistics, since they're from the Bush administration's own documents.

Re: Wal-Mart and food stamps

Start with:


from which my pull quote is:

"Who picks up the tab for this lack of responsibility? We all do. Wal-Mart provides its workers with access to a Web-based service that allows a county social services worker to immediately verify income and employment. Such access can help to qualify workers quickly for Medi-Cal benefits, food stamps and other taxpayer-funded aid."

and, just so we know if such is necessary:


from which I quote (around the 7th person):

"I have been with the company since '96 and have been in management off and on throughout the years. Wal-Mart was once a good company to work for, every year it has continued to get worse. . . I have seen a lot of great associates leave the company due to lack of caring and respect for the individual (as W-M so preaches). Wal-Mart isn't the company it once used to be. It's all about the mighty dollar now, and who cares about the little people?

"I have been on food stamps for years and so are many other associates. After being with Wal-Mart for seven years and with all my experience I still can't afford to get off food stamps."