My Daughter’s Advanced Speech with Sarah | Real Life Aspergers Interviews


and you also mentioned to me earlier
that anxiety is a big part of your life
and one of the ways that you kind of
mitigate that is through the use of
routines and sticking to things that you
know yes
tell me about how that is great and how
that is not so great I could talk about
how like routines are great and how
doing the same thing is great or the
time to date like oh my oh my life I
could talk about it it’s great because
when you have a routine it’s that
familiarity so you kind of know what’s
coming next you know what to expect and
it kind of just makes my life happier
because it’s not all the unexpected
stuff but in the same way because you
like routine and that kind of holds on
to your anxiety as soon as one little
thing changes that has such a depth
trend effect on my day to day life
so say you have the same thing for
breakfast every day I have this I like
to have the same thing but then recently
we stayed somewhere else came home and
we didn’t have any milk in the fridge
like I usually have the soya milk in the
fridge we didn’t have any to then I was
like ah well now what do I do and my
husband who is an autistic he’d be like
odd just a toast but for me straight
away that’s like what else is gonna go
wrong like what am I gonna do now I
gotta think of what I’d do for this now
I gotta think about what my daughter’s
gonna have now I’ve got to think about
all these things so in a way for me
routine is like a key element of my life
and it’s amazing and structure is
amazing but at the same time then you
have this whole anxiety that the
structure is going to go wrong and the
routines gonna go wrong and then if it
doesn’t go right so the I guess the way
I feel about routine and things and and
how has your husband gone understanding
those things so
we’ve been together ten years now and so
I’ve always been the way I’d been so
I’ve always had problems with like food
and things and we wish there was anxiety
so we thought that I was gonna suddenly
be cured by going to therapy and things
and then we find out I’m not gonna be
cured because it’s like I’m autistic
it’s gonna always be around so that’s
something we’ve had to kind of we’re
adapting to at the moment cuz it’s only
been going since kind of August so
trying to adapt to that and trying to do
it it’s difficult for him to and he
doesn’t understand everything I mean I
can’t say anything bad about him because
he’s been wonderful he looks up all of
the information and lots of people don’t
don’t want to do that but then I
sometimes my anxiety there’s then he’s
only doing that because you’ve got a
daughter who has it
so then I’m like ah you know he’s still
gonna leave me he’s still gonna do this
he’s still gonna do that why would I do
that when you’ve always been this way
so questions that it sounds like for a
big part of your life you thought a lot
of those artistic traits were due to
anxiety yeah which meant that you
thought maybe if I got therapy and got
less anxious then I wouldn’t do these
things as much yeah especially when it
comes to not socializing and not having
friends and things but then when I went
to therapy she said but you didn’t seem
like depressed and things and I said
what if I’m doing things that I want to
do I’m happy but everything I want to do
is on my own so I want to play like The
Sims I want to read I want to go to the
cinema by myself I want to do this and
I’m really happy when I’m doing that
then when I have to go out with other
people and do things that I don’t want
to do that’s when I’m worse and she was
like well that’s not depression and
she’s like how do was your anxiety
lasted and I’m like oh it’s always been
like this like I’ve always felt like
this it feels like oh and then she was
then Oh
after too
sessions with her she was actually after
the first 10 minutes of meeting you I
thought that you were autistic and she’s
like so now I’m kind of like referring
you full of this and to find out and
everything so and yeah I thought I was
just magic cure her but how did it feel
how did it feel to realize that you are
on the spectrum it was a relief because
I know like why I was feeling the way I
was for bite I life and why I had
difficulties with things in school and
stuff like I really struggled as well
like I didn’t like going to lessons I
didn’t like doing anything so it’s
really for that but at the same time
then I’m still kind of coming to terms
with it all because it’s kind of like
mourning for the fact that I’m never
gonna be the way I expected to be with
certain things because I thought all
once I’ve got this under control I can
do all of these things but I know I can
achieve some a bit but at the same time
there’s other things that are always
just gonna be the thing because it’s
just who I am and yeah if that make
sense yeah definitely so this definitely
gets kind of like know that there’s
reason for things and now I can
appreciate Who I am for who I am as
opposed to trying to change myself to
fit in how everybody else thinks that
you should be yeah definitely makes
sense and so finally what would you say
to other women out there who maybe
they’ve got a daughter on the spectrum
or maybe they are starting to get clues
that well people are suggesting you
might be on the spectrum this might be
explaining things for you what would you
say to them obviously I would say to do
their research autism and stuff is very
different with girls than it is boys a
lot of the research and things and
diagnosis has to do with boys and not go
so you’ve got to find yourself a really
good doctor as well here at
understands it within females and how
they find it look I found help in like
Facebook groups and that just reached
out to other people who are on the
spectrum I found people really helpful
they’re really open to talking about
their struggles and what they think but
yeah for me it’s just if you think is do
your research and look at different
things go on YouTube that’s it’s amazing
to find creatures who will actually talk
about subject and yeah I think that’s
the best advice I can give it it’s just
if you think you are you probably are
because if you’re thinking that you are
it’s not a normal thing to think that
you’re autistic apparently yeah I think
oh I think I might be autistic it’s not
something that you generally think so if
you’re thinking that you are then you
know it’s we’re actually looking more
into it because you’ll probably end up
finding out that you actually are
autistic and and for me personally what
made the biggest difference was
physically meeting in person other
autistic people so a support group even
before I knew I just said can I come
along lesson yes so yeah see where I am
to get the support you have to have like
the official diagnosis and the waiting
list of really long so at the moment
hard to see that but meeting other
people with autism and stuff especially
people your age I think is a really
important thing so that’s why I’m kind
of reaching out to other Creators and
start from towards and that’s why
eventually I’ll upload a video that’s a
good segue because you and your blog a
YouTube blog right yeah yeah we’d say I
have a blog but I talk about other
disabilities with and it’s just getting
the confidence up and getting past the
anxiety like whoa to actually talk about
it and be heard about it and stuff and
it’s something that I want to pursue
more of talking about it and actually
you know yeah
yes well it’s it’s great to have
different voices out there and I’m sure
lots of people will resonate strongly
with you and your story what’s the name
of your YouTube channel
it’s a mundane life and if you just
search that it will come up no one else
wants to be called a mundane life no
nobody else wants to be like ordinary
and warranty they but yeah I guess now
it’s quite an ironic name because autism
as well there’s anything but mundanes
none of what you described okay mundane
okay well thanks Sarah it’s been really
it’s been really great to talk to you oh
I’ll put a link to your channel in the
description below so I think everyone
watching has enjoyed today’s espy
interview and I’ll be endeavoring to do
some more in the future because I
believe that the best way to understand
autism and the diversity in the autism
spectrum is to meet others on the
spectrum so this is one way I’m trying
to elderly okay well thanks and thanks
for your time – Sarah right no problem
thank you Ray

Khamenei Wants to Put Iran’s Stamp on Reprisal for U.S. Killing of Top General

In a departure from Iran’s usual tactics of hiding behind proxies, the country’s supreme leader wants any retaliation for the killing of a top military commander to be carried out openly by Iranian forces.

In the tense hours following the American killing of a top Iranian military commander, the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, made a rare appearance at a meeting of the government’s National Security Council to lay down the parameters for any retaliation. It must be a direct and proportional attack on American interests, he said, openly carried out by Iranian forces themselves, three Iranians familiar with the meeting said Monday.

It was a startling departure for the Iranian leadership. Since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979, Tehran had almost always cloaked its attacks behind the actions of proxies it had cultivated around the region. But in the fury generated by the killing of the military commander, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, a close ally and personal friend of the supreme leader, the ayatollah was willing to cast aside those traditional cautions.

The nation’s anger over the commander’s death was on vivid display Monday, as hundreds of thousands of Iranians poured into the streets of Tehran for a funeral procession and Mr. Khamenei wept openly over the coffin.

After weeks of furious protests across the country against corruption and misrule, both those who had criticized and supported the government marched together, united in outrage. Subway trains and stations were packed with mourners hours before dawn, and families brought children carrying photographs of General Suleimani.

A reformist politician, Sadegh Kharazi, said he had not seen crowds this size since the 1989 funeral of the Islamic Republic’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

“We are ready to take a fierce revenge against America,” Gen. Hamid Sarkheili of the Revolutionary Guard, declared to the throng. “American troops in the Persian Gulf and in Iraq and Syria are within our reach.”

No negotiations or deal, only war with America,” students chanted in an online video from a university campus.

A renowned eulogist and member of the Revolutionary Guard, Sadegh Ahangaran, exhorted the funeral crowds to raise their voices so “damned America can hear you” and to “wave the flags in preparation for war.”

The increasingly public vows of direct action on Monday constituted Iran’s latest act of defiance to President Trump. Over the weekend the president had repeatedly threatened to retaliate for any attacks against American interests by ordering airstrikes against as many as 52 potential targets, one for each of the American hostages held after the seizure of the United States embassy in Tehran in 1979.

In response, Iran’s moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, on Monday responded with his own numerology. “Those who refer to the number 52 should also remember the number 290,” he said on Twitter, a reference to the 290 people killed in 1988 in the accidental downing of an Iranian airliner by an American warship. “Never threaten the Iranian nation,” Mr. Rouhani added.

Where, when and even if Iran may choose to retaliate remains a matter of speculation. As Iranian leaders weighed just what form it might take, analysts said the targets included American troops in neighboring Syria and Iraq, American bases in the Persian Gulf or American embassies or diplomats almost anywhere.

When previous attempts at direct strikes or assassinations have proved unsuccessful, some noted, Iranian-backed militants have turned to the simpler tactic of killing civilians with terrorist bombs.

This was the sequence in 2012 with the Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah. After failing in attempts to attack Israeli targets or kill Israeli officials in revenge for the killing of one of the group’s leaders, the militants eventually settled on the easier job of bombing a bus load of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, said Afshon Ostovar, a scholar of Iran at the Naval Postgraduate School.

“We are in uncharted territory, and the truth of the matter is nobody knows how Iran is going to respond. I don’t think even Iran knows,” Mr. Ostovar said. “But I think there is a blood lust right now in the Revolutionary Guards.”

In Iraq, where the Parliament had earlier called for the immediate expulsion of the 5,000 American troops stationed there, Prime Minister Mahdi on Monday listed steps to curtail the troops’ movements.

While plans were being made for departure of the Americans, he said, they will now be limited to “training and advising” Iraqi forces, required to remain within the bases and barred from Iraqi air space.

Mr. Mahdi met with Matthew Tueller, the American ambassador to Iraq, on Monday, and “stressed the need for joint action to implement the withdrawal,” according to a statement and photo released by Mr. Mahdi’s office. He also emphasized Iraq’s efforts to prevent the current tensions between Iran and the United States from sliding into “open war.”

The United States military stirred a media flurry by accidentally releasing a draft letter that seemed to describe imminent plans to withdraw from Iraq. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. William H. Seely III, the commander of the United States forces in Iraq, wrote to the Iraqi government that the American troops would be relocated “to prepare for onward movement.”

“We respect your sovereign decision to order our departure,” he wrote.

But Defense Department officials played down the significance of the letter. “Here’s the bottom line, this was a mistake,” General Mark A. Milley, President Trump’s top military commander, told reporters at the Pentagon during a hastily called press briefing. “It’s a draft unsigned letter because we are moving forces around.”

“There’s been no decision whatsoever to leave Iraq,” Mark T. Esper, the defense secretary, told reporters. “There’s been no decision made to leave Iraq. Period.”

Although the Trump administration has said that the United States killed General Suleimani because he was planning imminent attacks against American interests, there were indications Monday that he may have been leading an effort to calm tensions with Saudi Arabia.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi of Iraq said that he was supposed to meet with General Suleimani on the morning he was killed, and that he expected him to bring messages from the Iranians that might help to “reach agreements and breakthroughs important for the situation in Iraq and the region.”

In Washington, two top Senate Democrats urged President Trump early Monday to declassify the administration’s formal notification to Congress giving notice of the airstrike that killed General Suleimani.

Such notification of Congress is required by law, and to classify the entirety of such a notification is highly unusual.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, and Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said in a joint statement that it was “critical that national security matters of such import be shared with the American people in a timely manner.”

And Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, urged Mr. Trump’s critics not to jump to conclusions. “Unfortunately, in this toxic political environment, some of our colleagues rushed to blame our own government before even knowing the facts,” he said.

For its part, Iran simultaneously continued a months-long push against the Trump administration over its demands that Tehran submit to a more restrictive renegotiation of a 2015 accord with the Western powers over its nuclear research. The Trump administration has sought to pressure Iran by devastating its economy with sweeping economic sanctions, which Iranian officials have denounced as economic warfare.

The sanctions set off the cycle of attacks and counterattacks that culminated last week in the killing of General Suleimani. Iran has also responded with carefully calibrated steps away from the deal’s limits on its nuclear program. On Sunday, Iranian officials said that they had now abandoned all restrictions on the enrichment of uranium, though they said they would continue to admit inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Amid the emotion of the funeral, some called for vengeance that would remake the region. “Even if we attack all of U.S. bases and even if we kill Trump himself it’s not enough revenge,” Brig. Gen Amir Ali HajiZadeh said at the funeral. “We must totally eliminate all U.S. troops from the region.”

For now, Iranian officials seem to be in no rush to strike back against the United States, possibly enjoying their ability to spread anxiety throughout the West. They seem content to

  • bask in the nationalist surge in their popularity,
  • growing international sympathy and the push to
  • expel the American troops from Iraq.

“I don’t think they want to shift the conversation yet,” said Sanam Vakil, a scholar of Iran at Chatham House, a research center in London.

But for the hard-liners who dominate the Iranian National Security Council, she said, some vigorous retaliation would be the only rational response. “A non-response would appear weak and invite further pressure, creating problems in domestic politics and internationally,” she said.


The Real Reason Why The Narcissist Came Into Your Life

Rough Translation:

so what deeper truths our gnosis is
showing us narcissus enter our lives
pretending to be the answer to what we
need to heal within us that we may not
even be aware of yet and then seize the
foe support and start to smash these
exact parts making the pain so horrific
that the unconscious parts become fully
conscious the narcissus first appeared
to be the savior of our wounds and then
became the messenger of them instead
so let me grant you my own example I
used to suffer greatly from fears of
abandonment and not being valid and seen
or being good enough to be loved this
was deeply unconscious because it was
all I’d ever known as myself and my
reality like many people who are now
statistically abused I was over
functioning and over compensating for my
inner unconscious traumas and I was
really practically capable I seemed
strong and other people would have sworn
that I had it together he had on the
inside I was battling anxiety and
depression which I had to keep very busy
and achieving goals to overcome
naturally because this is how this stuff
I wasn’t gentle tender or supportive
with these inner parts rather I was
constantly self abandoning my inner pain
not making my feelings important at all
and being incredibly self-critical and
demanding and myself and again this was
my version of normal being only way that
I’d ever known to be with myself and it
was exactly what people in my life had
always modeled to me as well it wasn’t
until narcissistic abuse it these parts
that I’ve been surviving and covering
over came screaming to the forefront so
interesting because the narcissus in my
life initially appeared validating and
approving of me as well as claiming a
full commitment to me so they seemed
like they would never abandon me however
things switched and my fears and gaps
were over time attack with full ferocity
I was rapidly and cruelly abandoned and
invalidated and accused of being a
horrible person regularly my story is
your story because in this way our
stories are all pretty much identical we
see the narcissist as the answer to our
wounds often unconsciously we’re not
even realizing it hence the powerful
unexplainable unexplainable logically
bond to them yet their message to us is
to find and heal these wounds within
ourselves when we awaken and we get very
self honest this is how we know there
are parts of ourselves which are
unhealed we’re still sticking around and
frantically trying to make the
narcissist think and do it differently
we’re clinging on to that person trying
to force them to provide us with the
relief of these traumas get the only way
out of the nightmare is to let go of
these people and attend to those parts
that are screaming out for us deeply
within ourselves if we were a whole and
healed source to ourselves it becomes a
clear-cut thing we say I don’t agree
with your work
warped version and me you’re skewered
version of me and I have no need to try
to change you to have a great version of
myself goodbye see you later
and we are thrilled to discover when
that’s really true for us on the inside
and we actualize it we’re thrilled to
discover that we have zero urge for the
narcissus to provide us with ourselves
anymore and the longing desperation and
the missing ends as does the narcissus
power to hook you and hurt you if you
get the any healing job done well enough
and the narcissus becomes totally
irrelevant and whilst you’re becoming a
force of fearless calm power narcissus
let go and they move on with their life
both selves cannot exist in healed and
whole environments no more than germs
cat in a healthy clean environment
there’s nothing for them to feed off and
you may think that this is glib and
unrealistic I promise you it’s not
absolutely there can be complications
with narcissus that need to be unpicked
and sorted such as custody with children
property businesses and all sorts of air
measurements yet no matter how difficult
these challenges are I really want you
to understand that the greatest or most
deadly binds with narcissus are the ones
we’re suffering emotionally through our
wounds when we heal from these all else
can follow myself and thousands of
others have granted the overwhelming

Consumers Are Becoming Wise to Your Nudge

“Only 2 rooms left? They don’t expect me to believe that do they? You see that everywhere.”

I leave with a wry smile. The client won’t be happy, but at least the project findings are becoming clear. Companies in certain sectors use the same behavioral interventions repeatedly. Hotel booking websites are one example. Their sustained, repetitive use of scarcity (e.g., “Only two rooms left!”) and social proof (“16 other people viewed this room”) messaging is apparent even to a casual browser.

For Chris the implication was clear: this “scarcity” was just a sales ploy, not to be taken seriously.

My colleagues and I at Trinity McQueen, an insight consultancy, wondered, was Chris’s reaction exceptional, or would the general public spot a pattern in the way that marketers are using behavioral interventions to influence their behavior? Are scarcity and social proof messages so overused in travel websites that the average person does not believe them? Do they undermine brand trust?

The broader question, one essential to both academics and practitioners, is how a world saturated with behavioral interventions might no longer resemble the one in which those interventions were first studied. Are we aiming at a moving target?

.. We started by asking participants to consider a hypothetical scenario: using a hotel booking website to find a room to stay in the following week. We then showed a series of nine real-world scarcity and social proof claims made by an unnamed hotel booking website.

Two thirds of the British public (65 percent) interpreted examples of scarcity and social proof claims used by hotel booking websites as sales pressure. Half said they were likely to distrust the company as a result of seeing them (49 percent). Just one in six (16 percent) said they believed the claims. 

The results surprised us. We had expected there to be cynicism among a subgroup—perhaps people who booked hotels regularly, for example. The verbatim commentary from participants showed people see scarcity and social proof claims frequently online, most commonly in the travel, retail, and fashion sectors. They questioned truth of these ads, but were resigned to their use:

“It’s what I’ve seen often on hotel websites—it’s what they do to tempt you.”

“Have seen many websites do this kind of thing so don’t really feel differently when I do see it.”

In a follow up question, a third (34 percent) expressed a negative emotional reaction to these messages, choosing words like contempt and disgust from a precoded list. Crucially, this was because they ascribed bad intentions to the website. The messages were, in their view, designed to induce anxiety:

 “… almost certainly fake to try and panic you into buying without thinking.”

“I think this type of thing is to pressure you into booking for fear of losing out and not necessarily true.”

For these people, not only are these behavioral interventions not working but they’re having the reverse effect. We hypothesize psychological reactance is at play: people kick back when they feel they are being coerced. Several measures in our study support this. A large minority (40 percent) of the British public agreed that that“when someone forces me to do something, I feel like doing the opposite.” This is even more pronounced in the commercial domain: seven in ten agreed that “when I see a big company dominating a market I want to use a competitor.” Perhaps we Brits are a cynical bunch, but any behavioral intervention can backfire if people think it is a cynical ploy.

Heuristics are dynamic, not static

Stepping back from hotel booking websites, this is a reminder that heuristics are not fixed, unchanging. The context for any behavioral intervention is dynamic, operating in “a coadapting loop between mind and world.” Repeated exposure to any tactic over time educates you about its likely veracity in that context. Certain tactics (e.g., scarcity claims) in certain situations (e.g., in hotel booking websites) have been overused. Our evidence suggests their power is now diminished in these contexts.

Two questions for the future

In our study, we focused on a narrow commercial domain. It would be unwise to make blanket generalizations about the efficacy of all behavioral interventions based on this evidence alone. And yet nagging doubts remain.

#1: Like antibiotic resistance, could overuse in one domain undermine the effectiveness of interventions for everyone?

If so, the toolkit of interventions could conceivably shrink over time as commercial practitioners overuse interventions to meet their short-term goals. Most would agree that interventions used to boost prosocial behavior in sectors such as healthcare have much more consequential outcomes. In time, prosocial practitioners may be less able to rely on the most heavily used tactics from the commercial domains such as social proof and scarcity messaging.

#2 : How will the growing backlash against big tech and “surveillance capitalism” affect behavioral science?

Much of the feedback from the public relates to behavioral interventions they have seen online, not offline. Many of the strategies for which big tech companies are critiqued center on the undermining of a user’s self-determination. The public may conflate the activities of these seemingly ubiquitous companies (gathering customer data in order to predict and control behavior) with those of the behavioral science community. If so, practitioners might find themselves under much greater scrutiny.

Feedback loops matter

There probably was never an era when simple behavioral interventions gave easy rewards. Human behavior—context-dependent, and driven by a multitude of interacting influences—will remain gloriously unpredictable.

Marketers should design nudges with more than the transaction in mind, not only because it is ethical or because they will be more effective over time but also because they bear responsibility toward the practitioner community as a whole.

The lesson I take from our study? Feedback loops affect the efficacy of behavioral interventions more than we realize. Just because an intervention was successful five years ago does not mean it will be successful today. Practitioners should pay as much attention to the ecosystem their interventions operate in as their customers do. There’s no better place to start than spending time with them—talking, observing, and empathizing.

We should also consider our responsibilities as we use behavioral interventions. Marketers should design nudges with more than the transaction in mind, not only because it is ethical or because they will be more effective over time but also because they bear responsibility toward the practitioner community as a whole. We owe an allegiance to the public, but also to each other.

Europe’s Struggling Political Parties Promise a Return to the Pre-Thatcherite Era

BERLIN—To win voters lost to an anti-globalization backlash, Europe’s mainstream parties are going back to the 1970s.

In Germany, the U.K, Denmark, France and Spain, these parties are aiming to reverse decades of pro-market policy and promising greater state control of business and the economy, more welfare benefits, bigger pensions and higher taxes for corporations and the wealthy. Some have discussed nationalizations and expropriations.

It could add up to the biggest shift in economic policy on the continent in decades.

In Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, the government has increased social spending in a bid to stop the exodus of voters to antiestablishment, populist and special-interest parties. Reacting to pressure on both ends of the political spectrum, it passed the largest-ever budget last year.

“The zeitgeist of globalization and liberalization is over,” said Ralf Stegner, vice chairman of the 130-year-old Social Democratic Party, the junior partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government coalition. “The state needs to become much more involved in key areas such as work, pensions and health care.”

The policies mark the end of an era in Europe that started four decades ago, with the ascent of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her U.S. ally, President Ronald Reagan.

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in Paris, 1982. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

After Thatcher abolished capital controls in 1979 and began selling off state companies in the 1980s, other European governments followed suit, embracing supply-side policies, deregulation, market liberalization and tax cuts. Revenues from privatization among European Union member states rose from $13 billion in 1990 to $87 billion in 2005, according to Privatization Barometer, a database run by consultancy KPMG Advisory S.p.A.

Today, concerns about growing inequality, stagnating wages, immigration, the debt crisis and China’s rising power have fueled the recent political shift. European businesses and governments also worry about potential changes in U.S. policy, amid looming threats of trade sanctions.

Smaller State Governments across Europe retreated from many economic sectors and sold state companies starting inthe 1980s.Privatization proceeds in EU countriesSource: Privatization Barometer reports

This erosion of the old technocratic consensus about how to run an economy, even in countries where populists aren’t getting any closer to power, could be one the most lasting consequences of the recent antiestablishment surge.

Even in countries where populist parties are already in government, such as Poland, those parties have shifted their focus from nationalist and anti-immigration rhetoric to championing generous welfare policies and state aid.

Bigger BenefitsGermany’s government has increased socialspending in a bid to win over voters. Germany’s government spendingSource: Germany’s Federal Ministry of FinanceNotes: Data through 2017 are actual; 2018 and 2019are targets. €1=$1.14
.billionSocial and welfare benefitsOther spending2012’13’14’15’16’17’18’19050100150200250300350€400

Germany’s SPD has embraced additional welfare spending, paid for by tax revenues, to combat a retreat of voters so rapid it threatens to turn the once-dominant force in German politics into a niche player. The party is now pushing for policies such as unconditional pension for people who have worked for a certain period but didn’t make sufficient contributions into the pension pot.

In the U.K., Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labor Party, has proposed renationalizing railways, public utilities, the postal service and the Royal Bank of Scotland ,the country’s second-biggest lender. It’s effectively a reversal of the privatization spree initiated by Ms. Thatcher. The party is also toying with policies such as universal basic income for all and a four-day working week for public-sector employees.

Labor has been polling ahead of the ruling Conservatives in opinion surveys for most of the past two years.

The re-nationalization plan would cost around $210 billion, according to an estimate by New York-based consulting firm S&P Global. Labor has said it would issue treasury bonds to finance nationalizations. Thames Water, the U.K.’s largest water company, added a clause to its bond to make sure holders are repaid immediately should it be nationalized.

U.K. Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn in May. PHOTO: BEN BIRCHALL/PA IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES

In France, President Emmanuel Macron reacted to weeks of violent street protests by abolishing plans to increase fuel prices and announcing measures to boost the incomes of low earners. The estimated cost of the spending is more than €10 billion ($11 billion). In a symbolic concession to the antiestablishment yellow-vest movement, Mr. Macron declared he would shut down the university École Nationale d’Administration, his own alma mater, because it instigated elitism.

Mr. Macron reversed a decision to eliminate 200,000 civil-service jobs and announced a tax increase for companies that overly rely on short-term contracts, which his government blames for creating an underclass of workers. In addition, monthly pensions of less than €2,000 have been pegged to the rate of inflation.

He also embraced the idea of holding referendums on certain policy issues, a key demand of populist leaders. The first major referendum will decide whether the sale of the state’s majority stake in the company that runs Paris’s airports should go ahead as planned.

French President Emmanuel Macron in May. PHOTO: PIROSCHKA VAN DE WOUW/REUTERS

Denmark’s Social Democrats, who had been out of government since 2015, won a general election on June 5 following a policy makeover that included going further left on economic policy, while sharply turning right on immigration. They pledged to increase public spending and taxes for companies and the wealthy, and to enable early retirement by rolling back some recent pension changes. Their far-right rivals the People’s Party suffered a major loss in the election.

The reaction from European economists is decidedly mixed.

Some have greeted the shift as a welcome correction to years of pro-business and free-trade policies they think have dug deep rifts in Western societies.

“The lesson from Germany is: Strong growth and a generous social welfare system alone are insufficient to satisfy voters. Globalization and technological change are putting pressure on many people,” said Marcel Fratzscher, head of the German Institute for Economic Research, a Berlin-based think tank. “Europe’s social welfare state needs a fundamental overhaul as it has to focus on empowering people and on stopping the market abuse of firms and lobby groups.”

Others are concerned Europe is deviating from proven economic recipes just as growth is wobbling, or that the policies are outdated.

“We are indeed seeing a kind of return to the pre-Thatcherite approach, but it is doubtful that policies from the era of closed markets and capital controls could work in a globalized world. A vision of the past can’t be implemented in the present,” said Branko Milanovic, a New York-based Serbian-American economist who studies income distribution and inequality.

In Germany, despite a decade of robust economic growth and near full employment, almost four million working people receive welfare benefits to supplement their income. Around one-quarter of all employees work in the low-wage sector, according to government statistics and research by Mr. Fratzscher’s group.

Low Wages Increased competition put downward pressure on wages, while shrinking unemployment benefits increased incentives for Germans to take lower paying jobs. Share of German workers who are low paid*Source: German Institute for Economic Research*Those who make less than two-thirds of the country’s median earnings

Subsidies to Germany’s mandatory pay-as-you-go pension scheme almost reached the €100 billion mark for the first time in 2018. Earlier this year, Ms. Merkel’s government adopted a new industrial strategy that centers on protecting German companies from foreign competition, including by enabling the government to buy stakes in businesses to shield them from foreign acquisition.

Peter Altmaier, economics minister and author of the industry strategy, said it was designed in part to address the anxieties of Germans who have been drawn to far-left and far-right parties in recent years.

Germany’s SPD, the junior partner in Germany’s government coalition, is now debating whether large real-estate investors should be expropriated as a way to stabilize rents. In Berlin, where they preside over the local government, the SPD announced a freeze on rent prices. The head of its youth wing recently called for car maker BMW to be nationalized, earning grass-roots plaudits and some support from SPD ministers and mayors.

The SPD scored its worst result ever at last month’s European Union election. Polling around 12% to 14%, it is a shadow of its 1998 self, when it gathered 41% of the vote.


The environment-focused, center-left Greens more than doubled their votes between the country’s last general election in September 2017 and the EU election. It is now polling at around 26%. At least two polls since early June showed the Greens had become Germany’s most popular party for the first time since its creation in the 1980s—ahead of Ms. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union.

Twenty years ago, the German Greens co-wrote with the SPD the country’s last big tax cuts and a deeply unpopular overhaul of labor-market legislation. Today, the party is toying with an unconditional universal income and seizing real estate from commercial landlords as a way to stop rent increases.

The far-right Alternative for Germany, known as AfD, lost ground in last month’s EU election, and is now polling around 13%.


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The AfD has campaigned on immigration in recent elections. Party leaders recently consulted with Steven K. Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist and now an adviser to nationalist and populist parties in Europe. In a meeting in Berlin on May 13, he advised the leaders to tone down their anti-Islam fervor, purge radical members, and refocus their message from identity politics to economics.

“The real message is the economy,” Mr. Bannon said in an interview. “Populists need to talk to the workers.”

Jörg Meuthen, the AfD co-chair who met Mr. Bannon, said he agreed, but questioned the timing of the message. He said Germany’s economy—with record low unemployment and slowing but still positive growth—remained too healthy for an immediate policy shift.

When the recession kicks in and people start worrying about their jobs, then we can roll out economic campaigns and show our competence. Populists must look at what is affecting people emotionally, and at the moment that is migration and the climate,” Mr. Meuthen said.

Globalization BacklashProtest parties focused on denouncing the economic, cultural and security impact of globalization have drawn more attention across Europe.Populist party poll performance in selected countries Source: NomuraNote: Weighted averages of national polls.

In Spain, Pedro Sanchez, acting premier and leader of the Socialist Party, won the national and the EU elections this year after sharply raising the minimum wage and announcing a boost in social benefits and corporate taxes.

Mr. Sanchez’s bet on wooing working-class voters lost to protest parties paid off, said Daniel Diaz Fuentes, professor of economics at the Spanish university of Cantabria. Mr. Fuentes said that the rise of populism could trigger a re-nationalization wave.

“I think that the state will become a much more active entrepreneurial actor via venture capital and involvement in investment via the banking system,” Mr. Fuentes said.

Two TrajectoriesThe income of low earners has decreased since 1980, while that of top earners has grown.Income shares of the top 10% in European regions*
Income shares of the bottom 50% in European regions*Source: Thomas Blanchet, Lucas Chancel and Amory Gethin, World Inequality Database*Population-weighted country averages

Wolfgang Schmidt, deputy German finance minister and one of the strategists behind the SPD’s new approach, said the success of socialists in Spain, Britain and Denmark, in elections and opinion polls, shows that voters have turned against economic orthodoxy.

“As a society, we need to stop looking down on people. Anxiety about the future of work is driving voters to populists. People read about automation and self-driving cars and they ask themselves what will happen to their jobs in the near future,” he said.

Many European politicians and economists say the swing away from markets and back to the state misses the point of many voters’ anxiety, which is rooted in politics or culture. An annual poll about the fears of Germans conducted by the R+V Versicherung AG insurance group found that nine of respondents’ top 10 fears focused on politics, security and health. Economic concerns dominated between 2004 and 2015.

Paul Ziemiak, the second most senior official in Ms. Merkel’s conservative party, opposes what he says is an SPD-driven spending spree. “These policies have never made any country successful. Countries that have [tried them] have ultimately failed—politically, but also economically,” he said.

Protectionism would destroy a German economy built on exports and cross-border supply chains, said Clemens Fuest, an economist and adviser to the German government. Ambitious redistribution programs such as pension increases, early retirement or a universal income would collapse as soon as tax revenues fall in the slowdown. Companies were privatized 30 years ago because the state is generally bad at managing businesses, he said.

“Established parties are taking over the populists’ agenda to show voters that they have heard their message,” Mr. Fuest said. “But they are making big promises that cannot be kept.”