Bryan Caplan  

Euro Bet II: Win Mark Steyn's Money

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Here's an especially specific claim in Mark Steyn's America Alone:

The U.S. government's National Intelligence Council is predicting that the EU will collapse by 2020. I think that's a rather cautious estimate myself. Ever since September 11, I've been gloomily predicting that within the next couple of election cycles the internal contradictions of the EU will manifest themselves in the usual way.
I smell a bet. I propose the following terms to Steyn (or up to any three other people):
If any current EU member with a population over 10 million people in 2007 officially withdraws from the EU before January 1, 2020, I will pay you $100. Otherwise, you owe me $100.
Any takers? (I've emailed this link to Mark Steyn's website, though I doubt it will actually filter up to him).

Comments and Sharing

COMMENTS (23 to date)
Scoop writes:

Even if you're of the opinion that the EU is bound to collapse (and I'm not particularly convinced it will) you probably think it will collapse by having member countries ignore EU laws they don't like rather than formally pulling out of the union. Under such a scenario, the EU would still exist, technically, it just wouldn't mean much.

David R. Henderson writes:

You're on, Bryan. And we've got our bet in print, unlike another one for $1,000 that I've been unsuccessful at collecting. (Not from you.)



RAFIV writes:

I'll take you up on your offer. Also, I believe Mark Steyn has agreed as well.



Richard Ball writes:

Don't things normally filter "down", and not "up"? Are you suggesting, subliminally or otherwise, that Mark Steyn possesses superpowers?

Rue Des Quatre Vents writes:


Given that Steyn has taken you up, I think this is evidence that you underestimate your status as a public intellectual. That took less than a day!

TGGP writes:

I'm betting Mark Steyn has never read this.

I'm betting on a civil-religious war (leading to a new world war) in Europe by 2020.

razib writes:

isn't there a threshold where someone is just too stupid to engage???

Bryan Caplan writes:

OK, it looks like I've got three takers. Nice. Just one question: Rafiv, what's your full name and real world location?

Robert Scarth writes:

I think your money is safe Bryan. I think the chances of any one of the larger countries you mention leaving the EU over the next 12 years is certainly less than 5%, and probably less than 1%. I really can see no plausible reason at all that would cause any one of those countries to leave; although Scoop has it right that some countries will just choose to ignore some rules - which is what happens at the moment anyway.

I found this quote quite amusing: "I've been gloomily predicting that within the next couple of election cycles the internal contradictions of the EU will manifest themselves in the usual way."

Only an American could say something so dumb about Europe. Europe has been a mass of contradictions for 1000+ years; it is not the United States - contradictions don't matter as much in Europe. The UK has been a mass of contradictions since England and Scotland merged in 1707, and it survives, and I think is more likely than not to still be around in 100 years time. (BTW I'm Scottish and live in England, and there is really very little desire in Scotland for independence from the UK; support has been stuck at about 25% for decades.)

I really do wonder how much people making predictions about the demise of the EU actually know about Europe - and I don't mean just statistics about what % of the population follow which religion, but what ordinary people in Europe think and believe about government and the EU. I live in the most euro-skeptic country in Europe, and the people with whom I am politically sympathetic are among the most euro-skeptic yet I just do not see even the beginnings of the real visceral hatred for the EU that would be required for the UK to leave. Yes there is a lot of mumbling and complaining, but that is all. For the UK to leave the EU there would have to be a political earthquake of a magnitude that has not happened in this country for centuries. I just don't see it happening. As far as other countries are concerned, I can't see the big EU powers allowing the situation to get so bad that a country like Czech Rep or Romania would want to leave; they can be bought-off relatively cheaply, or given opt-outs that wouldn't really affect things EU-wide too much. Yes it is a solution that is full of contradictions but that is the European way. The core countries (ie the original 6 of Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg) will never leave. Ever. (Well over the next century say.)

From the perspective of someone living in Europe, talk of a large country leaving, or of the whole EU collapsing is frankly just crazy talk.

sparky writes:

Robert Scarth said:

Only an American could say something so dumb about Europe.

Nice unwarranted dig at the USA. Too bad Mark Steyn's a Canadian. Or maybe only Americans and Canadians are that dumb. Care to lump any other nationalities into the category of "dumber that you"?

Jenda writes:

Wow. At, he openly took the bet and raised you an order of magnitude.

Yes, Europe's stability over the past few hundred years has been amazing. A veritable land of peace, love and harmony in the 20th century especially.

Julio Jurenito writes:
Troy Camplin, Ph.D. writes: Yes, Europe's stability over the past few hundred years has been amazing. A veritable land of peace, love and harmony in the 20th century especially.

Troy, it's been stable in it's instability. That's stability of sorts, isn't it. Definition is king/queen.


Actually, you will notice that every country/region is balanced between stability and instability. The more stable government of the countries in a region are, the less stable the region. The less stable the government, the more stable the region. Of course, I am talking about "instability" in the way that the U.S. government is unstable. Out federal government changes every two years. Not enough, in my opinion, but still, people do feel like their elected jobs are on the line. That has resulted in a fairly stable region -- except in the 19th century with our less democratic neighbor to the south. When you have the kind of stability of kings and dictators, you get more regional instability. At least, that's my perception of history. Might be a nice paper or book for a historian or poli-sci person, to see if there is indeed this connection between order and disorder (something we should expect, since nature is thus balanced).

Pedro writes:

I'd like to get in on this one, but on Bryan's side. From the point of view of a non-UK EU citizen currently living in England, the idea seems quite unbelievable. That does not seem to be the sentiment of the general public - in none of the countries I've visited or whose citizens I've talked to - in the old countries (i.e., the original 6).
In the "relatively new" ones (Portugal, Spain, Greece / Sweden, Austria, etc..), there seems to be a fairly pro-European stance on the whole - though I don't really have any numbers based on polls or anything of the sort (just a feel for what common people say about the topic and the fact that anti-Europe rhethoric does not seem to be getting a lot of votes).
In the new countries (Czech Republic, Romania, etc..), people are generally enthusiastic about Europe, or at least that is the feel you get, so I wouldn't bet on them leaving any time soon.
The one country which does have a somewhat more detached relationship with Europe seems to be the UK, but even here you don't get that much anti-EU rhethoric except from the odd party.
On the whole, as someone else has mentioned before, unless "a political earthquake" happens, Europe will stay pretty much on track.

Ted Craig writes:

What happens if a country like Italy gets (no pun intended) the boot?

Martin Brock writes:

Are those 2008 dollars or 2020 dollars?

Robert Scarth writes:

sparky - "Nice unwarranted dig at the USA..."

I say exactly what I mean. What he said was dumb - I doubt that Mark Steyn is dumb. What I meant when I said only an american could have said something so dumb was that he was applying the cultural and historical assumptions of the United States to a European problem and arriving at a completely stupid conclusion. Europeans say equivalently dumb things about the US; applying ones native cultural assumptions to a foreign country is not an exclusively american stupidity.

"Too bad Mark Steyn's a Canadian" - oh my, I've never felt so foolish.

Josh writes:

My impression in Spain was of a very pro-EU populace. There were practically as many EU flags flying as Spanish.

Emery Goldings writes:

On what ground was this prediction based on?

Most of these predictions have hidden motives or agendas, for which, we will never know, or state precisely.

So if ever this approximation is true, the EU will know what to do. Or so, that's what I think.

Emery Goldings
Suffering from an addiction. This website has a lot of great resources and treatment centers.

sparky writes:

Robert - "oh my, I've never felt so foolish."

Don't feel foolish. You were merely applying the cultural and historical assumptions of someone living in Europe and arriving at a completely stupid conclusion (ie. "Only an American could say something so dumb").

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