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Old 01-28-2012, 05:04 PM
 
Location: The Netherlands
2,942 posts, read 4,220,570 times
Reputation: 3401

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Proterra View Post
I agree with Scandinavia and Germany. The Netherlands, however, is in my opinion on a turning point. They're doing extremely well despite the mess that their political system has been for the last decade (same goes for Belgium, in my opinion) - which for both countries is largely thanks to how well their economy is...
I don't think you can compare the mess of the Belgian political system to the Dutch one. Belgium didn't have a government for over a year and the country is extremely divided (I just came back a week ago after living in Namur for 6 months so I got to witness this firsthand). I think there are too many political parties in the Netherlands and the differences between them are still not very clear to most people (which creates these "floating voters" during elections) but it's exactly the same in nearly all other continental European countries. What exactly do you consider to be a 'mess' about the Dutch political system? If it's the populist Wilders party (which I don't like either), this is unfortunately a problem that exists in most West-European countries.

Quote:
But,

If they in the Netherlands would somehow manage to raise the retirement age, get rid of this weird law that interest over mortgage can be deducted from taxes, and channel more money in to the educational system they can have a very bright future, with kids actually able to afford a home and - a somewhat more limited - welfare system which will actually still be around in 50 years to come.
Actually, most of these reforms have already been implemented or are about to. The retirement age is raised to 66 (likely to be 67 in the future) and I don't think it should be higher than that. It is almost certain that the mortgage interest rate deduction will be changed (but not abolished) as most parties are in favour of that and criticism about it is increasing. I find it rather ironic that Wilders wants to keep this law exactly as it is 'cause he's claiming to stand up for "the common man" while this law mostly benefits the wealthy. He's taking conservatism to the extreme The educational system is also reformed as students will no longer receive a study grant (studiefinanciering) for their Masters studies and this money will instead be invested in education. I don't think the quality of Dutch education is lacking though, the Netherlands consistently performs well in PISA studies (~ top 10 in maths, science and reading) and has more Universities in the World University Ranking top 110 than any other continental European country (I believe there were 7).

Quote:
But they need to break the Wilders Party and the Socialist Party for that. I personally actually really like the way the Dutch Greens have been going, from a group of predominantly treehuggers to a very progressive liberal party with policies which would actually make sense. Same with that D66 party... But that's just my opinion, mileage may vary. Personally I would love to see a grand EU-wide coalition of Ruch Palikota, the Dutch Greens and the SNP in Scotland...
I totally agree with you. My political preference is somewhere in between PVDA (Labour Party), D66 (Democrats) and GroenLinks (Greens). You may be pleased to learn that Wilders' popularity has dropped significantly according to recent polls. The only problem is: his voters went straight to the SP which is at a record high right now Which proves the point I made recently in another thread that the far-right wing parties like the PVV draw from the same voter base as the far-left wing parties like the SP as they are very similar in terms of economic policy (*cough* one person thought I was crazy for suggesting this, remember Glucorious? ). At least the SP is not xenophobic so I'd take them over the PVV any time.

Edit: btw, I don't know when you were living in the Netherlands (from your posts I assume it was in the 1990s/early 2000s) but I have to say that despite your personal opinions, the Netherlands has greatly improved in the last decade in many areas (economics, safety, environment, infrastructure, etc.). The 1990s may have been more liberal but there were many problems that remained unsolved because of it, such as the integration of new immigrants (particularly those from non-Western countries). It was a taboo to mention this because people didn't want to be called racist or xenophobic but we must be honest and recognise that this is an issue that requires our attention. Of course, I know that there are many non-western immigrants who integrate into Dutch society successfully and I applaud them for that, but there are also cases of immigrants who do not or cannot integrate well and stay left behind. We should address this problem and try to fix it so that we can all become active contributors to society. This wasn't done in the past (I think that is why the PVV and similar parties before them became popular, because they were the only ones who acknowledged this problem) and although I do not like the approach of the PVV, at least people are not afraid to mention their concerns without being ostracised by their friends and family.

Last edited by LindavG; 01-28-2012 at 05:48 PM..
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Old 01-28-2012, 06:02 PM
 
Location: Fortaleza, Brazil
2,545 posts, read 4,443,166 times
Reputation: 1544
One thing I can assure you: Brazil has a brilliant future ahead.

The country still has a lot of problems, but we are in a steady path upwards, year afer year.

Each year that passes, our problems are reduced more and more, and the life of the majority of people becomes better and better.

Brazil is already the best country in the world, in my personal subjective point of view, that takes in account not only materialistic aspects, but also cultural and psychosocial aspects. In 10 years, it will be even more "the best"...
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Old 01-28-2012, 06:16 PM
 
Location: The Netherlands
2,942 posts, read 4,220,570 times
Reputation: 3401
Quote:
Originally Posted by MalaMan View Post
One thing I can assure you: Brazil has a brilliant future ahead.

The country still has a lot of problems, but we are in a steady path upwards, year afer year.

Each year that passes, our problems are reduced more and more, and the life of the majority of people becomes better and better.

Brazil is already the best country in the world, in my personal subjective point of view, that takes in account not only materialistic aspects, but also cultural and psychosocial aspects. In 10 years, it will be even more "the best"...
I don't think there is a "best country in the world" but Brazil is certainly up there with the best Great weather, great food, great people, great nature, great language, great music! I would move there in a heartbeat. My former roommate was from Rio de Janeiro and she told me I could visit her there any time, I'm definitely keeping her to that promise I'm already getting in the mood for it with this wonderful song (this is a huge hit all over Europe right now):



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Old 01-28-2012, 07:25 PM
 
Location: Leeds, UK
22,198 posts, read 22,389,978 times
Reputation: 8560
I think it depends..

DO you think living standards in China will exceed those of the US or Europe? Cause I don't.. so I'd rather live in a poor Europe then a rich China .. but I am very biased towards Europe anyway

I definitely would not call Brazil the best country in the world either.. not even close.. 'course that's my opinion, but I do hate it when people think their country is the greatest..
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Old 01-28-2012, 09:58 PM
 
6,041 posts, read 10,365,407 times
Reputation: 3046
Quote:
Originally Posted by Proterra View Post
I miss Poland as being listed as one of the countries with the most positive future...

- Economically:

We've had constant economic growth since 1991, the unemployment rate nowadays is below the EU average, and places like Szczecin have in recent years seen Germans going there to find jobs, and Polish buying cheap properties across the German border...
Our GDP per capita quadrupled over the last 20 years, and is expected to do so for the forseeable future. Our HDI is expected by the UN to surpass that of Sweden sometime between 2020 and 2025, and that of Germany sometime shortly after 2030.
We have already passed the Netherlands as the sixth-largest economy in the EU three years ago.
Also, Polish law is rather favourable to foreign investment, although there's still plenty of room for improvement in the bureaucracy department. Our GINI is relatively low, on par with countries like the Netherlands and Scandinavia, which basically means we have a very large (although, for EU standards, relatively poor) middle class.

- Politically:

We've been one of the more stable countries within the EU over the last 5 years, and the current government actually got re-elected last October. Our constitution actually bans large foreign debts (over 60%), providing for automatic austerity measures in case this happens anyways. The current government has emphasized upgrading our infrastructure, which was in desperate need for exactly that after decades of near-neglect. Over 500 miles (800 kilometres) of new freeways were built in 2011, another 600-700 miles (1000 kilometres) will be built in 2012. After 2012, this will be scaled down to around 200 miles (300 kilometres) per year, and the emphasis will be shifted more towards the rail infrastructure.

- Natural resouces:

Recently the second largest natural (shale) gas reserves in the world have been surveyed. This is enough to power Poland for half a millennium with the current use, or the whole of the EU for three decades.

My guess is, if we manage to keep populism out of government, keep on upgrading our infrastructure to German standards (this will take at least another decade, though) and get rid of all unnecessary bureaucracy, Poland could be well on it's way to become a key player in the EU, both politically as well as economically, within the next decade.
That is a great specific way to describe the future of a country such as Poland!

A few posts before yours, I mentioned that Poland has a positive future on post number 19/page 2.

It is good for people to have plenty of knowledge for the country they live in, and know things about it such as its future and other stuff as well.

That is also true that Poland has constant economic growth, and political stability at this time. It also seems like cities/towns in Poland are becoming more vibrant with more higher quality urban amenities.

I wonder if Romania has a similar future as Poland? In plenty of ways, both of these countries seem similar to each other (Poland and Romania), so that could include both of their futures as well.
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Old 01-28-2012, 10:05 PM
 
6,041 posts, read 10,365,407 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LindavG View Post
Yes, I would definitely include Poland as one of the countries with a positive future as well. They are going in the right direction, along with a few other Central European countries (Slovenia, Czech Rep., Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia). The Baltic states are improving as well, as far as I can see.

Other countries that appear to have promising futures are Brazil and possibly Italy (if Monti's plans to liberalise the economy materialise). By 'promising futures' I mean these countries are expected to be in better shape than they are now, not that they're necessarily better than other countries.

Of course, there are many countries that are currently doing well and are expected to remain stable (i.e. keep doing well) in the future, such as the Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands (and Germany?).

Certain countries seem to be in decline or aren't growing as fast as they used to. I'm also pessimistic about Greece, it seems like a hopeless case. I don't see them improving any time soon.
I agree. Other than Poland having a positive future and going in the right direction, that is also true for Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Hungary, and Slovenia.

Do you think this is also true for Romania and Bulgaria? It seems like it is true for them as well.

I wonder if all of those countries I mentioned so far will become more like Netherlands, Denmark, France, Sweden with certain things.

For the Baltic states, it seems like that is true for Estonia but not really true for Latvia and Lithuania. I read some negative things about Latvia and Lithuania recently which seems to include their future as well.

Also, Belarus seems to have one of the most negative futures in Europe and not making any improvements and is one of the worst countries in Europe. Technically that is not a Baltic state country though but in a separate region.

That is true that Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Switzerland are currently doing well, expected to remain stable, and have similar positive futures. It also probably seems true for Germany as well.

Yeah, Greece has a negative future. It just seems like it endlessly went downhill and never came back to its glory days when it was a thriving place in ancient times. I wonder why Greece became so much less prominent since then? This also seems to be a similar case for Portugal.

Spain really needs to fix its unemployment problems soon because that seems like a big problem. I have much more hope for Italy and Spain because they are already have more positive stuff about them that can redeem their economic problems.
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Old 01-29-2012, 01:24 AM
 
87 posts, read 192,691 times
Reputation: 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by dunno what to put here View Post
I think it depends..

DO you think living standards in China will exceed those of the US or Europe? Cause I don't.. so I'd rather live in a poor Europe then a rich China .. but I am very biased towards Europe anyway

I definitely would not call Brazil the best country in the world either.. not even close.. 'course that's my opinion, but I do hate it when people think their country is the greatest..
It highly depends on what you value and your lifestyle. I wouldn't want to live in China mostly because I like having uncensored internet and clean air. But that being said, China now has some of the best transportation infrastructure in the world. Their high speed rail network is just awesome, cheaper than Japanese bullet trains but faster at the same time. The biggest advantage of China is the scale, a billion people who speak the same language creates a vast common market. This is something Europe lacks.

I'm actually pessimistic about northern European countries like Germany because they have made some very bad energy policy decisions. The decision to reduce investments in nuclear power will come back to bite them hard. Much of Europe is dependent on Russia for energy, the small size of most European countries means that they are far more reliant on a stable international order and international trade than large countries.
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Old 01-29-2012, 01:46 AM
 
6,041 posts, read 10,365,407 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dunno what to put here View Post
I think it depends..

DO you think living standards in China will exceed those of the US or Europe? Cause I don't.. so I'd rather live in a poor Europe then a rich China .. but I am very biased towards Europe anyway

I definitely would not call Brazil the best country in the world either.. not even close.. 'course that's my opinion, but I do hate it when people think their country is the greatest..
I agree with what you said for Brazil but definitely not for China.

Plenty of European countries are great and also China is great.

Shanghai and Hong Kong in China easily compete with Europe’s best cities and seem like exciting, and wealthy cities with high living standards just as much as Paris, London, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Berlin etc.

Cities such as Shenzhen, and Beijing seem to have cool things about them too as cities and plenty of other cities as well.

Also, China has a lot of diversity in nature landscapes/nature scenery too that certain European countries does not have. China also has a ton of great modern high-rise architecture that Europe does not have for the most part. Also, China still has great historic architecture too.

There is plenty of interesting and great things about plenty of European countries, and also China as well.

I don’t think the living standards in China will exceed that of the USA and Europe, but at the very least it will get to equal levels for plenty of areas of that country, especially because China is one of the countries that has a positive future.

Brazil has a positive future but Brazil is so overrated in plenty of ways. It does not even make my top 20 to top 25 for favorite countries in the world. I really don’t see what the big deal is about Brazil for the most part.

Last edited by Thepastpresentandfuture; 01-29-2012 at 01:57 AM..
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Old 01-29-2012, 03:20 AM
 
Location: Kowaniec, Nowy Targ, Podhale. 666 m n.p.m.
371 posts, read 811,624 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thepastpresentandfuture View Post

I wonder if Romania has a similar future as Poland? In plenty of ways, both of these countries seem similar to each other (Poland and Romania), so that could include both of their futures as well.
Yes and no. Romania is fairly similar in terms of size, population, the way the population is spread over the country; the way Bucharest is a primary city like Warszawa with a bunch of regional centres like Constanta, Timisoara, Cluj, Brasow, Iasi, etc.

Some other things are markedly different though; during the communist period Romania suffered under the most brutal dictatorship available in the Soviet bloc (save for Albania, which wasn't really in the Soviet bloc anyways) where in Poland, at least after Bierut, they were most of the time just loyal enough to the official Moscow line to avoid ending up like another Prague or Budapest.
Here, after the events of 1988-89, "shock therapy" drastically decreased standard of living for the first few years during democracy, but laid the foundation for a healthy economy in the years after, also avoiding some of the biggest excesses seen in other post-soviet countries where some people became excessively rich, where the vast majority of the population stuggled, in countries like Poland, Czechoslowakia and Hungary, a large middle class stayed intact, where in other countries it got largely dismantled during the first few years of democracy, having to be rebuilt in the years after.
In countries like Romania and Bulgaria, these events allowed for a lot of corruption to seep in to the political system, far more than ever seen in the Visegrad countries. This is something that they've only recently (after 2000) started to deal with. Also, investments in Romania and Bulgaria for a long time have mainly ended up in Sofia and Bucharest, which effects can easily be seen if one travels for example to Bucharest and then on to some village in the countryside; Bucharest approaches Western European standards, I've never seen so many luxury cars in my life as I have in Sofia, where there are in the meanwhile still some villages without running water and electricity. In Poland (and I think this goes for all the Visegrad countries - would like to see some Czech, Hungarian or Slowakian input on this) the countryside is poor, but your average teenager growing up on the village does so with internet, cable television, enough education to put him in a proper university if he or she chooses and water which comes out of a tap instead of a well.

I do have to add for consistency that the villages in Romania that truly approach third-world standards are mainly Roma (Gypsy) villages. Still, with gypsies being around 15% of the population they are very visible, and the fact that on the countryside they live in such conditions does bring a lot of bad press to countries like Romania. This is in my opinion an issue that need to be tackled by the Roma community as well as the Romanian government. I understand that they want their culture preserved, but in my opinion waste and poverty shouldn't be part of a culture. Neither should huge palaces for Roma chiefs while their people suffer - that is so African...

So, to pretty much sum up my opinion about Romanian/Bulgarian development; in essence there are some comparisons to the Visegrad countries, they have more challenges as in their minorities, relatively high levels of corruption (Although Romania nowadays is doing better in that field than Italy, for whatever that means) a small middle class, and an extremely underdeveloped countryside, definitely compared to Western Europe, but also to the former Visegrad countries of Central Europe.
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Old 01-29-2012, 03:47 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,683 posts, read 43,159,772 times
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No one's mentioned the most obvious one that appears to be on the downswing, the good old US of A. It seems like a quasi second world nation with huge debt problems and a political system that is losing credibility.
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