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EU to police Greek accounts

Gavin Hewitt | 13:03 UK time, Wednesday, 3 February 2010

EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia, 3 Feb 10ATHENS: The Greek government has played its hand by detailing its austerity programme. The news of cuts and tax rises is aimed at different audiences.

Firstly, the steps are intended to persuade the markets that Greece is serious about reducing its deficit. It has won the backing of the European Commission, but the EU remains wary. It has described the Greek plan as "risky and ambitious". And the EU has put in place a rigorous monitoring programme. It wants an assessment every three months on what is happening inside Greek accounts. If targets are not met they'll insist on further measures.

Furthermore it wants the Greek government to set aside 10% of current expenditure to create a reserve in case of future budgetary problems. The word of the Greek government will not be enough in the future.

The austerity plan is also aimed at persuading the Greek public that this is a national emergency and sacrifices have to be made. There will be a freeze on public sector pay and cuts in some of the allowances that many workers rely on. Fuel prices will go up in order to raise an extra billion euros a year. In the background there is growing pressure for reform of pensions, healthcare and the labour market.

The room for manoeuvre is slight. If the cuts are too severe the public sector workers will resist on the streets. If Greeks back away from spending it will depress the economy further, stifle growth and reduce tax receipts. If the government fails to implement tough decisions the markets will push up the cost of borrowing on the international markets.

I spoke today to Stefanos Manos, a former economy minister. He remains sceptical about the austerity plan until he sees more detail. He is certain there will be some unrest. The question is how the majority of Greeks will react. He believes Greece can reduce its deficit. He says there is "extraordinary fat" in the system. He points out that there are four times as many teachers per student in Greece as there are in Finland and that the system needs shaking out. Some of the proposed reforms will undoubtedly confront a public sector culture where people have job security and receive allowances.

I spoke too to Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel-laureate economist, who is in Athens. He is much more optimistic about the outcome. He believes the Greek government has got it right, with some public sector trimming but not enough to raise fierce opposition or dampen demand. He also believes the euro will survive its greatest crisis. He says that speculators are targeting Greece as the weakest link in the euro. Some traders have bet that the value of the euro will fall and want to see the euro weaken.

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The initial reaction in the markets is mainly positive, but cautious. The reaction from civil servants and public sector workers may not be apparent until next week, when strikes are being organised. The question then will be whether the protests have enough support to stifle the government's plan. Over the next few weeks the stability of the euro may be determined by events on the streets of Athens.

Comments

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  • 1. At 1:32pm on 03 Feb 2010, Francesca Jones wrote:

    I hope that you are enjoying your time in the spotlight Gavin! Though of course the sobering thought is that bad news is what has brought Greece onto the business and economics pages.

    There have been some hopeful signs from Greece although I agree with notayesmanseconomics that more detail is needed.They are on a dangerous tightrope and I guess the lesson for us in the UK is to avoid following their path.

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  • 2. At 1:32pm on 03 Feb 2010, Freeman wrote:

    Not surprising so far. The Greek government was never going to be believed in the near future at least. The EU casting its beady eye over them was inevitable. The only question is still what will the Greek people do in response to the EU solutions and how will the government/EU respond? Winter of Discontent and a Greek Thatcher?

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  • 3. At 1:42pm on 03 Feb 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    It is a good thing that the EU is well loved by the general population of Greece.

    If it were not, one might think the Greeks would react badly to this foreign, undemocratic organization dictating terms to their government, and treating their leaders with brazen distrust.

    I am struck by the incredible self assurance of the EU elite. They do not hesitate for a moment to take any part of the blame for Greece's economic situation.

    After all, wasn't the whole idea of adopting the Euro and granting power to brussels BECAUSE the reward would be economic good health and prosperity?

    So if that was the plan, .... what went wrong? And if Brussels knows now, why didn't they say something earlier?

    "Because the greeks lied to us" seems to be the excuse.

    Well, it seems we can't trust the politicians in athens, but we should trust the politicians in brussels. Just because they know best. Too late to stop the problems arising, but anyways they know best.

    As far as i am concerned, the EU made a deal with the people of Europe: give brussels power and brussels will give economic prosperity.

    Now Brussels has failed to keep their side of the deal. But there is no sign of brussels admitting this, as they lay blame on national governments.

    It is just so typical of politicians in general. When things go well, they take the credit and claim to have invented drinking water and sunshine. When things go badly, they blame anyone except themselves.

    I am getting sick and tired of hearing bankers talk about how things should be done. Bankers are supposed to run banks, not countries. Bankers make money for banks. That is what they do.

    How did Europe come to be governed by such people?

    More importantly, how can europe be rid of government by such people?

    If we must suffer dictatorship, the bankers have had their turn. Give the plumbers a go. Or the carpenters.

    Better still, what about democracy?

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  • 4. At 1:46pm on 03 Feb 2010, MaxSceptic wrote:

    "Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel-laureate economist, says..."

    Will he put his money where his mouth is? I doubt it.

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  • 5. At 1:53pm on 03 Feb 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 6. At 2:04pm on 03 Feb 2010, Chris wrote:

    @3

    I vote for democracyThreat logic this time:))

    It was the same story last year with "sub-prime morgage" it was not the bankers or politicians fault, it was them nasty 'merican poor that lied to them and borrowed money.

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  • 7. At 2:39pm on 03 Feb 2010, Menedemus wrote:

    The European unified currency is the mortar that holds the building blocks of the Europena Union together.

    If the Euro currency collapses in value then the edifice of the EU is in danger of collapse as it is funded in Euros.

    Pity the poor creatures who work for the EU - I expect that their minimum 3.5% pay rise submission will be increasing any day soon! Perhaps they too will consider strikes and working to rule as similar action becomes adopted by the Greek Public Sector workers.

    One detects the seeds of rebellion against the despotic European Union beginning within the nation that was the cradle of Democracy!

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  • 8. At 2:41pm on 03 Feb 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    dt

    "As far as i am concerned, the EU made a deal with the people of Europe: give brussels power and brussels will give economic prosperity."

    You can take it this way and interpret it "Sharia-style" or you can make the more reasonable interpretation that there needs to be responsibility on both sides. This has clearly not happened and the Greeks have been cooking the books and lied to both its own citizens and the EU.

    Don't blame the EU for this. It is GREECE'S fault. Theirs alone.


    "Better still, what about democracy?"

    What exactly do you mean? Do you have a better idea of how to run Europe? I'd be glad to listen.

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  • 9. At 2:57pm on 03 Feb 2010, Nik wrote:

    Sorry for becoming boring by almost being on a monologue. But I am vertical on this: speak of any other country, but in the case of Greece, the issue is purely geopolitical. The economy was bad since 1830, one has to pinpoint an era when the Greek economy worked properly. In fact, debts taken even prior to the independence of 1830 are yet to be paid and a reason for that is that the demand is that the country not only does not pay off but actually gets more indebted. What it will give in exchange of all these debts? "Geopolitical assurances".

    The vast majority of Greeks is aware that the financial issue in Greece was never an issue. All it is needed is some firm political will to set up a list of rules and the decision to start - at last - the exploitation of the country's natural ressources, namely the Aegean and Ionian oil which is known to be there in quantities easily compared with any Russian or Arabian site (there is oil in other countries in the region too...). Albeit, all the game is there: US (and Britain previously) has long decided that these reserves are not to be used in the near future, and certainly not for the part of Greece or the EU! To ensure obedience, Turkey threatens with war and even weak Balkan countries in the north are used to create territorial claims over Greece to act as a constant threat so as to concince the Greeks "not to make the wrong move".

    And the "wrong move" was in a way made by the previous government - not at all any capable government (inherently weakness & incapable), yet it did 2 interesting things:

    1) they invited chinese investment in the country's maritime infrastructure (what Chinese wanted to call "our gate in Europe", and above all, 2) alongside with Bulgaria they signed for the Black Sea Russian pipeline a project that practically is cancelling the US Nabucco coming from Turkey. Note that the pre-accords for that huge project had been on for more than 10 years, since the early 90s.

    And on the above point one cannot fail but to note the instant backlash: weeks after the final signature in both countries 2 young boys were killed sparking huge riots by the oppotion, as-if socialist in Greece, as-if right wing in Bulgaria (but only Greece's riots were widely covered to avoid the connotations - Bulgarian people though know and understand). Both countries finally held elections at close periods and both countries elected - what a miracle! - pro-US governments whose first move was to start talks of reconsidering the project with the Russians : and the justification - what a miracle! - ... environmental reasons... where? In Greece and Bulgaria. You know, save the polar bear, save the blue whale and other tree-hugging activities, a first in this part of the world! Later the Bulgarian prime minister corrected it by saying "the accord with Russians is not so much beneficial for Bulgarians" (so better cancel the project and remain poorer than ever, than built the project and renegociate having all that infrastructure in hands!!!).

    In parallel to that, Mr. Papandreou went on to "correct" the other wrong step, the introduction of Chinese investments in the Greek ports. "Out with the Chinese, we do not want them and their commerce", say the workers' syndicates and the government thinks it has to be sensitive to their "social demands"

    What can we say more? Ah yes, Greece is in deep financial trouble. So it was in 2008, in 2007... in 2004... in 1998... in 1996... in 1990, in 1985... in 1978 when it joined the EU and so on... I was born around that age. Since I remember learning to speak and learn I was hearing in the news, only 1 word regarding Greece: "litotita" Λιτότητα. Use some google translator for this.

    PS: Did I say 1996... was it then that Greece was given the Olympics!!!! - smallest and poorest country to ever hold a modern Olympics, why on earth it was not devalued then, given that no country ever won directly money out of the games?)... where was the EU to stop this? Why on earth we remembered Greece is in bad position only in 2009? Funny questions...

    See... dealing with these parts of the world is not an easy case. Not for the faint-hearted.

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  • 10. At 3:21pm on 03 Feb 2010, Toby wrote:

    Hi I am one of them merican poor. It seems I fit into several headlines today. I spend way to much time on the internet so I must be depressed. I am for the guy who built his house behind the straw bales and tarps . What kind of world or country tells us and the Brits we have to have a permit to build. I think if my house is substandard it's my problem. Finally with the big g20 finance summit this past week it appears that they are all getting together and we're the only ones that have no say. My home and land is paid for and I just paid off my new car. No credit card debt and the bank can eat dog as far as I am concerned. I am still however still paying off taxes to keep my house and business from being auctioned on the courthouse steps. CAN ANYONE SAY ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT!

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  • 11. At 3:40pm on 03 Feb 2010, U11846789 wrote:

    Not quite sure I understand this.

    Am I right in thinking that this about sums it up:

    Ordinary folk have got to pay more in tax and have cuts to their public services and pensions so that the Financial Markets - people who speculate to make billions for a few - do not put up the cost of borrowing?

    If so. Why?

    Why can't the priority of a government be to look after it's people and say No to the finacial sharks?

    Is this all a result of what happened in the 1980's? When the focus of economic policy (Thatcherism, Reaganism and so on) shifted from providing public services and full Employment to balancing the books?

    And yes, that is a genuine question.








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  • 12. At 3:56pm on 03 Feb 2010, Dempster wrote:

    Mr Hewitt wrote:

    The EU has put in place a rigorous monitoring programme to 'police' Greek accounting.

    But in return for what Mr Hewitt?

    What have the Greeks managed to extract from the EU in return.

    A bit of QE perhaps if things don't go well on the streets of Athens.

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  • 13. At 4:00pm on 03 Feb 2010, thora petropoulos wrote:

    Greeks have been consistently disappointed with the way both the New Democracy and the PASOC parties have handled the country's finances for years. As an insider, I have to say that I welcome the EU monitoring. Greece received help from the EU for many years but the money was never used appropriately. For example, the farmers were using the financial aid to build their houses and buy new cars instead of new agricultural equipment. The financial aid was distributed liberally by the government without any monitoring. This country needs a new start. It has to abandon its old ways of bribery and improve its dysfunctional public sector which is the root of all problems. Since we do not seem to have the ability to improve the system on our, I hope the EU will extend its help to more than monitoring and offer a well constructed plan that will lead Greece to a healthier economy.

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  • 14. At 4:09pm on 03 Feb 2010, MaudDib wrote:

    Clearly it's time to wip out the "Malleus Maleficarum".

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  • 15. At 4:10pm on 03 Feb 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    Gheryando wrote:
    ""Better still, what about democracy?"
    What exactly do you mean? Do you have a better idea of how to run Europe? I'd be glad to listen."

    Hey, I am not out to reinvent the wheel with some grand new scheme. Just let Europe model itself on the Swiss system.

    I live under a better system. I live under real democracy. I live in a country with very low unemployment, low taxes, excellent public services, negligible crime, peerless education, no poverty........

    And it is a real democracy. The people vote on laws. Therefore they can protect themselves from laws written by and for bankers who sponsor political parties.

    Switzerland is increasingly the elephant in the room of Europe. It is right at the heart of Europe, and it is a case study in a better way to live. It is not theoretical. It is not some new idea.

    Real democracy instead of representation is my suggestion. As far as my experience goes, it works.

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  • 16. At 4:27pm on 03 Feb 2010, Meath_ wrote:

    Midland 20
    Why can't the priority of a government be to look after it's people and say No to the finacial sharks?

    The problem for Greece and all nations is that the bond market acts like a bank for countries. If they want to borrow money the main way to do this is by issuing bonds that are bought by investors who governments repay over time and with some level of interest added on. The higher the precieved level of risk the higher the yield investors demand. This increases the cost of borrowing. The interest on a countries borrowing is paid first before any other expenditure. This obviously curtails the amount of money a government can spend on its own people.

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  • 17. At 4:29pm on 03 Feb 2010, Mathiasen wrote:

    #13. thora petropoulos
    It would indeed be interesting to see the effect of less corruption in Greece.

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  • 18. At 4:31pm on 03 Feb 2010, Chris wrote:

    @11

    I think you got it more than right :) and you have a better grasp of it than 99% of the population and economists!

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  • 19. At 4:34pm on 03 Feb 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    dt

    very interesting. Do you think its possible with 500 million people?

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  • 20. At 4:39pm on 03 Feb 2010, Nik wrote:

    Re17.

    Mathias, it would be interesting to see the PASOK or ND parties applying the law and bringing down corruption in a "I give the poison, I give the remedy too" fashion! Whom are we fooling? Bringing down the corruption will simply sign the end of their cycle over Greek politics. Given that their grip is assured by the US, and given the US does not want anymore to impose its will via dictatorships but only through largely questionable and hugely rigged democratic procedures, the corruption will remain endemic in the Greek society.

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  • 21. At 4:47pm on 03 Feb 2010, Chris wrote:

    @Gheryando & DT

    It can work I also strongly support that idea the part that needs to be right is how to control the media that no one media owner has more than 10% - 15% at any given market. If that could be assured, then it stands a good chance of it working else it can't work, as you will replace government by the banks to government by the media barons/lobyists/people that have lots of money to advertise their cause.

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  • 22. At 4:49pm on 03 Feb 2010, Dempster wrote:

    11. At 3:40pm on 03 Feb 2010, The Midland 20 wrote:
    'Why can't the priority of a government be to look after it's people and say No to the finacial sharks?'

    Because career politicians make up government, and 'career' comes first, and money comes before morals.

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  • 23. At 5:49pm on 03 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    "why can't the priority of a goverenment be to look after its people and say No to fin. sharks?"

    I'd add to this that countries whose governments live at peoples' expense (through heavily taxing them) - ARE LUCKY! :o)))
    Only they don't understand their luck, yet. :o)

    For the next and more dangerous stage is "Russia", where government gave up on population, does not tax it heavily, for it DOES NOT NEED the population - at all. The Government is all the business that owns oil and gas. Governments' well-being, thus, does not depend on the presence of absence of population. Forget about "looking after population" or population being able to "influence" three ha ha government in return. Too parallel worlds in one geography together by mistake.

    So, I'd say why a government still wants something of the population - it's not that bad. :o) Compared to us. Look at it this way :o) may be it'll cheer you up.

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  • 24. At 6:05pm on 03 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    At Yetsin I was still paying 36% income tax. Putin made it 13% (for all, be you head of Gazprom Miller or babushka Pasha a medical sanaitarian washing floors in hospital, for 200 US dollars (before tax) a month.
    That's when i understood they gave up on us, when it became 13%.
    13 means - live, if you can, we let you, only don't cross our ways, a deal?

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  • 25. At 6:07pm on 03 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    And, Mavrelius, give me the ration number for us, I can';t find it in your link pages. Out of abstract curiosity, wish to know how much they keep at home and how much sold abroad.

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  • 26. At 6:08pm on 03 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Nik has a point. And yes, it's not that we never asked the Greeks of nothing, as I wrote in the other thread. I forgot, the pipe, yes, we must have asked them, and asked much.
    We, living in The Tube :o))) as the country is nick-named recently.
    :o))))

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  • 27. At 6:16pm on 03 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    And yes, curious, that as Nik says Greece has oil and does not extract it. It is so easy in the South, not our Polar circle region oil, -50, Ice Hell conditions. Normally Southerners extract their oil. Russian Empire times we also started from the South, oil fields were developed in Azerbajan, because easy, warm place. People don't have to be helicoptered, work on shiffts, I mean, easy. Not Norway in the middle of the sea on platforms on legs, not Rusia from under permafrost where even wolves dont howl in the Polar night (frozen out :o)

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  • 28. At 6:28pm on 03 Feb 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    So Greece cooked the books. How many other EU countries cooked their books? The EU's own accounts themselves are likely cooked as the accountants haven't certified them in well over a decade. Europe and the EU are built on a tissue of lies. Who can tell where the truth of Europe's finances or anything else really lies?

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  • 29. At 6:34pm on 03 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Lucky Greek! It's warm there, even if out in the street the whole country un-able to pay house bills (and they are in 1 millenium distance to that bad turn of fortunes) they won't freeze out. - A./
    Gorgeous climate all grows there, you can survive on a kitche garden if anything - B./
    You don't need to spend money on holiday trips to see the sun - C./
    !
    Heaps of advantages, no I think people are being over pessimistic here about Greece and their "situation".
    Plus they are indeed free to run elsewhere in the EU if anything. Well, it's hard to leave all behind, and where exactly "to run".
    No, I don't think they'll be "running" anywhere.

    AND - in case of being cornered - they can protest! - D. !
    (While in Russia only Kaliningrad could the other week, against 10 to 30 times' increase of all state fees, for being married, divorced, driver's licence, car plates, any time you address the state for a paper, to receive a passport, or your land certificate copy, all population-state relations became 10-30times higher last week. Gazprom owners making up on their personal losses on the crsis and gas and oil prices.
    Because it's difficult to fly over police force there from elsewhere Russia above whole Europe to choke Kaliningrad for "unauthorised" protests. Lucky Kaliningrad can protest as much as they want.)

    I don't know how compared to elsewhere, I see heaps of advantages of being a Greek.

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  • 30. At 6:37pm on 03 Feb 2010, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To WebAliceinwonderland (24):

    The reason for lowering taxes in Russia and setting up a flat tax rate was actually a good thing to do. By slashing taxes to 13% the government would make it more worthwhile to be honest and pay your taxes, this would make more of the economy work in daylight and would in time increase the amount of legal money in the system thus bringing Russia closer to a normal developed economy. It would also decrease dependence on oil and gas revenues as other activities of the Russian society aren't as volatile as energy and raw material sectors.

    However the fruits of this rationalization were spoiled due to A) not preventing the increase of the public sector and B) not following with other rationalization and modernization programs regarding public sector and law and order. At this moment what it seems is that the results of the last 10 years of economic growth are in Russia have largely been nullified, the money came and then went.

    Still, at least Putin made one good move, thus there is hope that future leaders may even do two or three good decisions.

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  • 31. At 6:42pm on 03 Feb 2010, frenchderek wrote:

    @ MAII in your earlier post you gave a useful response, and I agree with your assessment; your #28 was your more bigoted side.

    The real problem with Greece has long been their "black economy", carefully ignored by generations of politicians. I don't see anything in what their PM has said that tries to tackle that.

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  • 32. At 7:00pm on 03 Feb 2010, generalissimo wrote:

    “I spoke too to Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel-laureate economist, who is in Athens. He is much more optimistic about the outcome.”
    Dear Mr.Hwitt,
    Ever since its independence, our neighbours, the Greeks have been lobbing among all possible Great Powers’ and other less powerful but very successful financial circles. The result was so fruitful for all those bank linked, ship-owners’, tour operators’ and agricultural Greek big families that, when Greece joined the EU, it quickly became the spoiled child of the family. No wonder, Mr. Joseph Stiglitz (as a close parent, is among the first ones to persuade us that everything is OK with our beloved neighbour and that soon, very soon the good outcome will come, you see it’s only a question of several months, maybe of several weeks….)
    “He believes the Greek government has got it right, with some public sector trimming but not enough to raise fierce opposition or dampen demand.”
    He’s mistaken of course. For the last three weeks all of our check points with Greece have been blocked by the Greek farmers who prevent our vehicles to enter the Greece territory. The action is certainly illegal and hostile to the spirit of the Union’s basic rules preaching a free movement of capitals, goods and labor. And what is more regretfull, this move is not counteracted by the Greek authorities(!) One would resume that Bulgaria is doomed to be the scapegoat for the home affairs of Athens?
    “He also believes the euro will survive its greatest crisis”.
    Of course, he’s sure of it, taken the fact that the Greece’s budget deficit is a tiny part of the EU budget.
    “He says that speculators are targeting Greece as the weakest link in the euro.”
    What a pity for the Union that the so called ‘speculators’ have the courage and the enlightenment to name the problem by its real name, i.e. to refer to Greece as being the big spender of the EU budget…
    Poor old Bulgaria which is still trapped in the second-generation currency board (its last resort) while queuing at the Euro zone Office…
    Sofia, Feb. 3rd 2010
    Generalissimo

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  • 33. At 8:15pm on 03 Feb 2010, Chris wrote:

    @30 - 13% tax for people on $500,000 and people on $2,400 is the most pathetic policy anyone can come up with. DT & his government by the elite for the elite more than applies here! People on 500,000 a year can pay up to 40% tax, 200,000 in tax and still have 300,000 to live on, ie buy bread & milk (even cakes). People on 2,400 paying 13% tax, 300 tax left with 2,100 to live on hardly strikes me as good legacy, just call me a self-centered pig if you wish. But that will not stop the fact that this tax policy is pathetic!

    @32 - Generalissimo, could it be that "Poor old Bulgaria which is still trapped in the second-generation currency board (its last resort) while queuing at the Euro zone Office…" is stuck there because of mafia killings and not the greek farmers?

    Anyhow I still vote for DT ideas & "Midland 20" that whole experts know best thing smells like middle ages vickings hering fish! (not that I really know what it smelled like, but I guess bad) when someone that rated banks as "aaa" risks untill they collapsed now turns around and tells a government what is best for them, I think I will not believe them too much.

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  • 34. At 8:17pm on 03 Feb 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    "EU to police Greek accounts"

    And who will police the EU accounts?

    It's the fox guarding the chicken house.

    In a BBC report about OPEC, when asked about sanctions for violators the OPEC official laughed and said it was "a gentleman's agreement."

    Like OPEC, in the EU the old adage holds true, there is no honor among thieves.

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  • 35. At 8:29pm on 03 Feb 2010, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To ChrisArta (33):

    Agreed. It is pathetic, but the problem is that in a country like Russia were there isn't a culture of paying taxes, and doing it more or less gladly, you have to start from somewhere to introduce the idea that A) paying taxes isn't that bad thing, and B) that paying taxes is good thing.

    In a more developed societies progressive taxation where members of the society that enjoy more of the benefits of being part of said society pay more also relatively is a good idea. However, what suites modern developed societies in the west doesn't necessarily suite so well to not so developed societies and economies in other parts of the world. At least it is better that the rich pay at least some taxes, than not at all, and it is better that all feel being stakeholders to the society, and not try to evade it.

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  • 36. At 8:40pm on 03 Feb 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    Gheryando wrote:
    dt
    "very interesting. Do you think its possible with 500 million people?"

    Sure. You could do it 8 million at a time.

    And there is no reason why nations the size of Switzerland can't co-operate with each other in a larger economic union. After all, Switzerland is part of the EEA, and there are not even border controls between Switzerland and its neighbours.

    Now whether you can have a massive, highly centralized federal superstate with power to make laws that over ride the will of the smaller regions..... well I guess not.

    But that is rather the whole point. Decentralization is the objective, and centralization and concentration of power is the problem.

    I think Marcus says something supremely important when he notes:

    MarcusAureliusII wrote:
    "EU to police Greek accounts"

    And who will police the EU accounts?

    It's the fox guarding the chicken house."

    In the end, the question is who shall guard the guards?

    The answer is that the people themselves shall be the guards, and in fact that is the central idea of democracy.

    But the people can only guard against laws that are against their own interest if they have the power to vote on laws themselves, and where representatives are not involved to misrepresent the will of the people. Unless the people have a power of veto over laws made by politicians, they are helpless in the face of misrepresentation.

    The great advantage of direct democracy is that one doesn't need to police the market. Banks can do what they do, and corporations can do their thing, too. And that is all to the good. Clearly humanity is well served by banks and corporations doing their thing. We want the freedom to trade, and to organize, and to be uplifted by the unseen hand of Adam Smith's economic vision. All those things are great.

    And that means corporations should be free to influence the politicians, if they want to do that. Sure. It doesn't matter, it doesn't have to be policed by a central corps of "guards", simply because the population themselves are the guards.

    If and when bad laws are proposed or even made by government, the people can decide to vote and repeal the offending law.

    In this way, all the advantages of the modern world can exist in harmony with human rights and the sovereignty of the common folk. One doesn't need to devise some magical central power to make sure everything is going according to the divine vision of some supremely wise leader. Or group of leaders.

    The technology exists for direct democracy to flourish, and the will exists for folks everywhere to vote on law and be responsible guardians of their own freedoms.

    The only obstacle is the vested interests of those who profit from the current system.

    As Lord Acton remarked, sooner or later there must be a reckoning between the people and the bankers.

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  • 37. At 8:56pm on 03 Feb 2010, generalissimo wrote:

    @33 ChrisArta
    It could be that poor Old Bulgaria still pays its taxes at the Brussels' counters without being refunded in time by the Union’s bureaucrats who seek the least omission in our draft projects as a reason to refuse the credit.
    Generalissimo

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  • 38. At 9:06pm on 03 Feb 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    ChrisArta wrote:
    @Gheryando & DT
    "It can work I also strongly support that idea the part that needs to be right is how to control the media that no one media owner has more than 10% - 15% at any given market. If that could be assured, then it stands a good chance of it working else it can't work, as you will replace government by the banks to government by the media barons/lobyists/people that have lots of money to advertise their cause."

    This is another problem with representative government that simply evaporates as if by magic inside a society where direct democracy is practiced. Again, no "guard" is required.

    In Switzerland, the duty to vote on laws, and particularly the fact the different villages set there own taxes, as well as regions doing the same, creates a highly civil society.

    What I mean is that people take part in their government. It is purely self interest at work. Think about it. If you knew that everyone voting at your local town hall meeting could change your rate of taxation, would you bother turning up? Of course. You'd be stupid not to.

    The fact of participation in the legislative process, in the actual business of running the society, creates the will towards informed civil discussion. The Swiss discuss economic and taxation and public services very, very seriously indeed. And not just the lawyers and the party members. Everyone has an opinion, and everyone talks about local issues, as well as regional and federal issues. Gardeners, waiters, painters, musicians. They all take part, and they all wish to be informed, because they all have to decide which way they are going to vote, and how that will affect them directly.

    That creates market forces which shape the media.

    The newspapers in Switzerland NEED to cover issues that are important to the economy and to law. Because if they do not, the people just wont read them. And so there will arise a market opportunity for a newspaper to print the things people demand to know.

    As a consequence, the media is Switzerland is a completely different beast to the media in the rest of the west. It is not mere entertainment. Journalists who waffle or who lie in order to sell a false position earn a scathing rebuke from the readership.

    Again, this just happens. There is no wise man or woman "making sure" the media do some profoundly crucial task. It just happens, because the people are universally involved in the governance of their societies.

    One of the reasons Obama's "town hall meetings" are such a farce is because it doesn't really matter what people say or do at them. So even a child can ask, rightly, "what is the point?" there is none. It is just a stunt to win votes by appearing to care.

    A real town hall meeting where taxes are set and public servants voted in or out of office..... and where everyone votes.... participation has a direct effect. It matters. There is a point.

    I think the most profound difficulty most people have imagining how direct democracy works is because they try to imagine how it would work inside the society they already inhabit.

    The answer is, it doesn't. Direct democracy shapes a society, and the society changes to fit the political system. People become more informed. They pay their taxes willingly. They obey their laws.

    That is what is so hard to fathom about Europe under the rule of direct democracy. It would be nothing like Europe today. The people would be nothing like the people are today.

    I think that scares a lot of folks, which is unfortunate. But anyways, we'll see what happens.

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  • 39. At 9:10pm on 03 Feb 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    dt

    unfortunately, its going to be pretty difficult to implement. We should aim to realize the realizable.

    MAII - Still using the old "british" argument about the EU and the accountants, all the while ignoring the fact that its the member states that fail to police how the money is being spent. (see Greek farmers et al)

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  • 40. At 9:40pm on 03 Feb 2010, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To democracythreat (38):

    Yeah sure...

    The thing is that democracy is just a dictatorship of the majority. If you start putting checks and balances, rules, etc... you end having a constitutional republic.

    So again why should I abandon my republic that has so well served its people. And why I should abandon the nascent federal republic knowns as the EU as it has server quite well and still hasn't unleashed its full power and potential.

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  • 41. At 9:47pm on 03 Feb 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    G;

    "all the while ignoring the fact that its the member states that fail to police how the money is being spent."

    Ah yes like the British MPs spending the public money on dog pedicures and swimming pools for their homes. MEPs and Eurocrats in Brussels never do anything like that now do they?

    dt;

    Let me know when you are going to get up in front of the Swiss parliament and orate a speech. It might be worth a trip to Switzerland just to see direct democracy in action.

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  • 42. At 9:58pm on 03 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Jukka, why is it that "in Russia there is no culture of paying taxes"?
    Our culture is still much the USSR culture, and there was such a culture to pay taxes back then :o)))) - you can't even imagine. I mean , I think? may be 3 people in the USSR didn't.

    We are still scared of the state, and everyone hurries to pay taxes and apartment bills first, even if after there is nothing left to eat for a month ahead. Because it's better nothing to eat than to face the state.

    This exactly very much orderly "culture" was violated at wild Perestroyka and Yeltsin criminal times, agreed, but not my the majority of people, but but those out in the high road for a catch. I mean, all entrepreneural energetic folk, some who became millionnaires, some who failed, but still, by a minor percentage of the population. Those who ventured to have own enterprises.

    As to folks working for the state enterprises before, for private capital now, the employees - with them the "culture" didn't change. Still all slaves. Before trade unions were allowed at least (I mean, in the USSR). More for fun, but sometimes still handy.

    Now they are allowed, theoretically, but practically exist on in Ford factory in St. Petersburg. Americans are ashamed to choke them (as much as Russian companies). Well, they fire the trade union leaders of course, but then via court the stubborn ones return back to employment, to be fired again, elegantly, for some violation the first one a man misses something, but still it;'s a fact there is a trade union in Ford, and is surviving somehow. Any place else try to say you want a trade union in a company - you'll be out on your ears by the end of the day.

    It is awful un-fair the level 13% for all. For we are an awful polarised society, nowhere else on Earth such multi-fold time difference between the officially employed full time and poor and officially employed and fat tom cats.

    May be it had sense to introduce 13% after wild West bandit Yeltsin years when whole place looked like a brothel in a fire during a flood, but for a short time, to bring some eh advanced folks back to senses. There is absolutely no point to keep it flat for 9 years after.
    The tax was introduced for fat cats' benefit. Simply, a shame to be so petty-cash greedy.
    And the percentage that an employer pays to the state pension fund, calculated on the size of the employee salary - employers' money - has also been flattened recently. That's a total disgrace, because all Russians get maximum ceiling state pension, doesn't matter how much you earned during your life, and only "special" Russians - state workers (the ones who keep "the vertical" in the country, the spine - all richie rich ones) - have no "ceiling" on pension! Their pension is calculated based on how much they were earning! While, as of now - contributing to the pension fund - the same set figure as the ordinary people!

    They not only suck at us during their working life, artificially kept happy to stand up for "all Kremlin does is wise and proper" - guaranteed 15% of the Russian federation toi live well, whatever happens to the country - they also will live at the expense of the rest 85% when on pension! Getting their higher pensions, limited only by their past salary amounts, while all the rest have a fixed ceiling!

    You simply don't know how deeply it's all, how to say, detiorated.

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  • 43. At 10:00pm on 03 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Your EU seems to be a good thing overall. Good design. One mistake - it's implemented on wrong people. With such habits it should have been exercised on Russians, who are the most patient population on Earth. dream of any government.
    Otherwise - all correct.
    :o))))))

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  • 44. At 10:03pm on 03 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Explain to any "European un-Russian" why his municipal worker has no cap on pension size and he (a doctor a teacher a builder a plumber a bus driver a shop owner a supermarket owner a kiosk shop assitant a salesman a stewardess a subway train driver a university teacher anybody) - does.


    How will anyone else in Europe stand the explanation "State people are better than ordinary people because they work for the state which is the main thing for the benefit of all of us" ?

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  • 45. At 10:11pm on 03 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    While if you are a Russian you say "Oh. Sorry, for asking. I hope I didn't disturb you much. Sorry sorry sorry."
    Then in the street, ti himself "Bosses are always right. What to do. It's not a small man's brains matter."

    Then, after a second thought, on convincing oneself (to come to terms with oneself :o) And, after all, life is better than at Gorbachyov and Yeltsin! Country doesn't collapse to pieces anymore, we are having more or less the same map! And robbers don't murder you in the street, well, not so much. Yes, life is better. And - there is no war! So, them those up must be doing something right, and taking care of me.. somehow... not that I noticed... but may be I didn't noticed... :o)))) and it's not my non-economic brains' matter how things are arranged at capitalism. they up there must know. who am I to know, what's better for the country. Yes, Kremlin knows, them. "

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  • 46. At 10:23pm on 03 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    This scare of the state in the bones is of course Stalin's time heritage.
    The virus.
    And scare of war - 2ndWW heritage.

    Thus, every Kremlin government who doesn't run a war is a darling automatically by definition, never "a failed" government.
    The amount of crawling on the bely and explanations given to own people about the war in georgia you can't even imagine. The PR at home, to justify, explain, make sure own Russians didn't get wrong ideas about it. What was done in terms of explanations "to the West" is pea-nuts compared to the avalanche of propaganda at home. Because Kremlin knows that Russians get cataleptical when it's war, hysterical, how to say :o)))) beyond themselves. Even a small one, even far away, even for seemingly just a reason - it is a war. Population can start behaving odd. :o))))
    Afghanistan brought Kremlin renome internally to below zero.
    Yeltsin was forever tarred with Chechnya.
    Medvedev will never more be the same Medvedev he began because on him is war.

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  • 47. At 10:39pm on 03 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Anyway. Lighter news. Joushenko decreed a week before departure that Bandera is the Hero of Ukraine. Only Jukka here would know who Bandera was (he loves all those... Chechen freedom fighters :o))) - he was a leader of the nationalistic Ukrainian movement during 2nd WW. SS division who fought against "Bolsheviks and Jews". In fact, in Bandera folks' understanding :o)))) it was one and the same. Anyway Joushenko decreed to name several streets after Bandera in Ukraine (incl. LOL Sebastopol :o))))), put up a big good monument to him ASAP (he won't have time. ha ha) and several of Ukraine's previous "hero of the country" are hurrying up to give up their orders as they don't want to be in such a company. Head of the EU Jewish Congress already said all he thinks about it (and by the way petitioned the EU to not forget when commemorating the holocaust day the next year to mention it is the criminal LOL Red Army that somehow :o))) by mistake liberated Oswentsim), but the thing is Joushenko made bothe Yanukovich and Timoshenko to reply to the media questions - What's your attitude to Bandera?

    Another swine put for the either of the future presidents at the end of this week, because none of them wanted to answer this question, as you lose either catholic western Ukraine when you say "hate Bandera and his types" or Russian industrial Eastern Ukraine when you say "good decree. long due to post-mortem award Bandera".
    Neither Timoshenko nor Janukovich ventured to answer media direct, both mumbled something incomprehensible. Janukovich smth like " the national hero must be a figure uniting all Ukarine, not dividing it, only such characters are good to become monuments etc."
    Timoshenko don't know how to swirled out of the question but somehow did. :o))))

    So,

    "When Bandera was announced the Hero of Ukraine - Stalin, Lenin and Napoleon were checked out of the psychiatric ward".

    :o))))

    "And why was Chikatilo forgotten? (the maniac of 1970-s) He exterminated muscovites with no less effectivity, given that he was alone. 72 murders proven in court room only."

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  • 48. At 00:03am on 04 Feb 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    MAII - you clumsily evaded to answer my question...but that was to be expected..

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  • 49. At 00:36am on 04 Feb 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    Gheryando wrote:
    dt
    "unfortunately, its going to be pretty difficult to implement. We should aim to realize the realizable."

    Well, under the current system nothing at all is realizable. For ordinary people, I mean. They are mere spectators to a farcical system which rules over them.

    Anyway, I am quietly confident the world will mature towards real democracy. History only seems to go in one direction, and there is nowhere else for political behaviour to go to.

    The principles are already understood, and one nation is putting those principles into action. And it is successful.

    So, you know, whatever. When folks are ready to govern themselves, then they will have the government they deserve. I doubt it will be in my lifetime, but I have no doubt it will happen.

    We've tried divinely sanctioned rule and believing in fairies at the bottom of the garden. Most places have given that up. And we've tried utopian hero's leading the unwashed mass of workers. That sucked.

    And we've tried corporate fascism, too. Unfortunately we seem to be giving that another whirl, to see if english speaking folks can do better then germans.

    Sooner or later, I figure we are going to see more places try real democracy.

    My pet dream is that the USA will undergo a profound revolution, and set off a chain reaction. I see that as likely for a few reasons. Firstly, the history and culture of the place support the ideas that are central to direct democracy. Americans don't call rich people "Duke" and "Princess" and "Baroness' and all that weirdness. People are just people in America, and there is nothing wrong with that.

    The other reason i can see direct democracy evolving in the USA is because they can punch on reasonably effectively. The average american is willing to have a proper go at whatever task comes to hand. If the bankers are going to be called out, I see it happening there first.

    But most of all I want to see it happen in the USA because if it does then the rest of the world will follow, and the military industrial complex that stifles freedom across the globe will be transformed into something extraordinary. Something, curiously enough, very much like the current rhetoric of US foreign policy claims to be. A force for freedom and democracy.

    The way I see it, America has the vision. It understand the aim. It just has to realize the principles in practical effect.

    When the federal reserve is burned to the ground, and states rights are taken seriously again, that will be the first step.

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  • 50. At 01:02am on 04 Feb 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 51. At 02:10am on 04 Feb 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    G;

    "MAII - Still using the old "british" argument about the EU and the accountants, all the while ignoring the fact that its the member states that fail to police how the money is being spent. (see Greek farmers et al)"

    "MAII - you clumsily evaded to answer my question..."

    You clumsily neglected to ask one.

    Perhaps a refresher course in English grammar 101 would help. I'll bet there are even free evening classes available in ESL (English as a second language) if you live in Britain.

    Most other languages differentiate the interrogative form of a sentence from other forms such a declarative. It's just a matter of learning and applying the rules.

    http://www.perfectyourenglish.com/grammar/sentence-functions.htm

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  • 52. At 03:10am on 04 Feb 2010, Hugh Barnard wrote:

    I love the idea that the EU (where to my shame I worked for a number of years) who have never signed off their own accounts and have activities that are probably riddled with auditable fraud (try some of the CAP subsidies for a start) looking over the the Greek accounts.

    Pot,kettle,black,call rearrange this well known phrase or saying. We don't need any of these people, especially Brussels.

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  • 53. At 07:28am on 04 Feb 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    I should have said "my argument"

    But then again, whats to be expected. There you are again, splitting hairs, instead of debating properly.

    Thanks for the ESL suggestion. I'd take it, from a Briton.

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  • 54. At 07:31am on 04 Feb 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    "I love the idea that the EU (where to my shame I worked for a number of years) who have never signed off their own accounts and have activities that are probably riddled with auditable fraud (try some of the CAP subsidies for a start) looking over the the Greek accounts.

    Pot,kettle,black,call rearrange this well known phrase or saying. We don't need any of these people, especially Brussels."

    Here we go again...

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  • 55. At 08:50am on 04 Feb 2010, Chris wrote:

    arghhhhh,

    Can some government somewhere please do something about the banks and their weird and wonderful products that do not help anyone! Today it looks as if they decided Portugal is the next one to attack! There has to be some sort of a cartel.

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  • 56. At 09:59am on 04 Feb 2010, Freeman wrote:

    "Can some government somewhere please do something about the banks and their weird and wonderful products that do not help anyone! Today it looks as if they decided Portugal is the next one to attack! There has to be some sort of a cartel."

    Do not look to the EU or any national government to save you from the new aristocracy. They are part of it. They have happily been bought to bring us into another age of elites and peons. Nothing changes I suppose. Just who is the master and who is the slave. It could have been so much better, but that is hardly a new sentiment either.

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  • 57. At 11:49am on 04 Feb 2010, Seraphim wrote:

    @ democracythreat:

    "I live under a better system. I live under real democracy. I live in a country with very low unemployment, low taxes, excellent public services, negligible crime, peerless education, no poverty........"

    As I recently learned a lot of the Swiss money is generated though illegaly stored money from other countries. Seeing our idiotic government right now I envy you for your direct democracy. However most of the other points you mention is directly or indirectly only granted or given thanks to the "banking secrets" that allows criminals from all over the world to store their money in Switzerland.

    @ Topic:

    If the greek people in general welcome the EU as much as described here, I think it is a good way to go, however the cuts will be rather hard and it is easy to blame the EU instead of greek politicians who failed start measures when it was not so much too late as it is now in the first place.

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  • 58. At 11:51am on 04 Feb 2010, AlaninAthens wrote:

    The principle of the EU policing Greek accounts is all very well in theory.
    Unfortunately the accounts that most need to be policed largely do not exist in the first place.
    It is called tax evasion and corruption and it happens from the grass roots to the highest levels.
    Greece is an oligarchy.
    It will not be changed by an accountant from Brussels.

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  • 59. At 12:06pm on 04 Feb 2010, Freeman wrote:

    "It is called tax evasion and corruption and it happens from the grass roots to the highest levels.
    Greece is an oligarchy.
    It will not be changed by an accountant from Brussels."

    Perhaps he is planning on teaching them how to do it properly. ^^

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  • 60. At 12:11pm on 04 Feb 2010, Meath_ wrote:

    ChrisArta
    There has to be some sort of a cartel

    Unfortunately not.The people who are attacking Greece are just doing it because they see money to be earned form Greeces misfortune, the morality of the situation isn't overly important in the equation. If they see money to be earned from Portugals situation you can be sure they'll try to without a moments hesitation. Its the market in action and again the morals of the situation are not very important. The problem is the methods they use are perfectly legal and can be used for transactions that are in the public interest but like most things can be misused.

    These types of attacks arn't new. To change this you would need to restructure the financial system and heavily restrict the borrowings of governments so they don't become dependant on international money markets.

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  • 61. At 12:38pm on 04 Feb 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    Seraphim85 wrote:
    "As I recently learned a lot of the Swiss money is generated though illegaly stored money from other countries."

    Does that sentence even mean anything?

    Are you aware that Switzerland has tougher banking regulation than anywhere else on earth?

    If you want to see money laundering and banking privacy, go the British Virgin Islands. Can't miss the place. It has a big Union Jack of the Flag, the legal judgements are referred to the House of Lords for final authorization, and its neighbours are the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas.

    The reason, however, that i ask whether it is meaningful to talk about "illegally stored money" is that the very statement presumes that nations are entitled to make laws regarding money that apply outside their territories.

    That is, with respect, utterly absurd. You may notice that the defining characteristic of money is that it is limited for use within the territory of the nation where it is created. Hence we have national currencies.

    When foreign governments like Germany accuse people of "hiding" money in Switzerland, what they are really saying is that they are upset that people have been able to escape Germany itself. You see, once you are out of the country, you are out of the country. Gone. No longer within the borders. OUT.

    And national politicians can't handle that concept. Their lust for power and control rebels against the idea that people might be free to simple WALK AWAY. To pack up and leave. To say "No more. I'm going. I will not live here under these laws."

    It is that freedom to simply walk away from despotic regimes which has ensured humanity has not been utterly enslaved by the Stalins and the Maos and the Hotlers of history. If people were not free to move away from despots, governments would not need to create social environments that attract highly skilled people and business's.

    The USA is a classic example of a nation made great by offering freedom and liberty to people who were enslaved and brutalized by despots. By offering fundamental human rights and freedom for serfdom, the government of he early USA attracted the best people from all over Europe to settle and to prosper.

    An equally instructive period was soviet communism. The soviet union produced many great scientists, and most of them defected if they possibly could. The brain drain from despotic regimes is one of the reasons they cannot endure.

    But the fundamental principle is the limit on government power. Germany's government currently engages in crime in order to police matters outside its sovereign borders. It only does so because it is powerful, and does not fear Switzerland doing the same thing to it. In other words, the German government are bullies who think they can use force with impunity upon any nation smaller than Germany.

    There is no righteousness to what they are doing. The German government has no right to enforce its own laws outside its borders, any more than they did in Poland in 1939.

    Seraphim85 wrote:
    "Seeing our idiotic government right now I envy you for your direct democracy. However most of the other points you mention is directly or indirectly only granted or given thanks to the "banking secrets" that allows criminals from all over the world to store their money in Switzerland.

    Is that right? So Tony Blair banks in Switzerland? Funny, I thought that particular war criminal used British banks. But I could be wrong.

    Anyway, the idea that Switzerland gains its wealth from criminally sourced money is a joke. It is not worth discussing.

    If you are serious, do some research. Read something, learn something.

    Examine the accounts of the Swiss government. Look at the investments of the Swiss governments, both federal and regional. Read some history.

    It may interest you to know that the canton of Bern has been lending money to the British government since the days of Adam Smith.

    Now just think about what that means for a moment. Think about how that works.

    The British government has been BORROWING money from the people of Bern. So a monarchy with an unelected upper house has been borrowing money from a democracy.

    So that means aristocrats have been taxing their people in order to repay loans, with interest, to the people of Bern, so that they can continue to fight wars they can't pay for directly and other fantastic enterprises.

    So the people of Britain have been taxed to pay interest. Meanwhile, the people of Bern have been relieved of taxation because their government, a democracy, invested money and did not live beyond its means. It MADE MONEY, instead of spending it like crazy, and leaving the next government to pick up the cost of its reckless behaviour.

    And that means the people of Bern, voting for their own laws in a real democracy, have been subsidized by the taxpayers of Britain, who are little better than serfs with the power to pick and choose between titled representatives.

    This has been going on for hundreds of years now.

    And whose fault is that? Who should the people of Britain blame, if their titled peers continue to borrow money and refuse to balance the books?

    You talk about criminals and illegal money, and yet you speak from the UK.

    How much of the British Empire is founded on wealth that has been taken by force from native inhabitants?

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  • 62. At 12:40pm on 04 Feb 2010, Freeman wrote:

    56 still in moderation? Pointing out that the politicians and bankers are all in it together is not popular it seems.

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  • 63. At 1:17pm on 04 Feb 2010, Chris wrote:

    @60

    Exactly what I said, change the banking system. It's more than a year now that we all paid to keep the banking system alive and as far as can see it nothing has changed. Well some things have, at least here in the UK we used over 850b pounds to save the banks so we are 850b worse off!

    Also I don't thing it is all that legal, it is only legal because the governments allow them to. If it was software companies or electricity companies, that operated in a similar fashion (ganging up against a country or company) the competition comission would be issuing fines, left right and center, but because they are banks they are untouchable!

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  • 64. At 2:50pm on 04 Feb 2010, Seraphim wrote:

    @61. At 12:38pm on 04 Feb 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    "Are you aware that Switzerland has tougher banking regulation than anywhere else on earth?"

    I was not talking about regulation, but about criminals hiding their money.

    "The reason, however, that i ask whether it is meaningful to talk about "illegally stored money" is that the very statement presumes that nations are entitled to make laws regarding money that apply outside their territories."

    Well they are entitled to make laws for money made in their territory, which is what I am referring to. Though I don't actually think it is a good thing to allow dictators from [insert random LDC name] to steal from their population and/or international help organisations and to even make a fortune from it, thats actually not what I was referring to either. If the Swiss people want to make money from inhuman dictators that is of course their decision not mine. Thanks to the banking secret the majority of your citizens won't even be told about it :-)

    "That is, with respect, utterly absurd. You may notice that the defining characteristic of money is that it is limited for use within the territory of the nation where it is created. Hence we have national currencies."

    Yet there are hardly any border controls to Switzerland and if so they search for drugs but hardly ever for black cases full of Euro or Dollar bills. Swiss banks don't ask where the money comes from and this way illegal dollars become 'legal' Swiss Francs - very easy.

    "And national politicians can't handle that concept. Their lust for power and control rebels against the idea that people might be free to simple WALK AWAY. To pack up and leave. To say "No more. I'm going. I will not live here under these laws.""

    That's very easy to say when you live in a tax haven. Even Swiss people hide money outside Switzerland. Just the amount doesn't matter compared to the billions stored from all over the world in Switzerland. So as the country highly benefits from this it is easy to hide behind something like the banking secret as an excuse to live at the expense of others.

    "It is that freedom to simply walk away from despotic regimes which has ensured humanity has not been utterly enslaved by the Stalins and the Maos and the Hotlers of history. If people were not free to move away from despots, governments would not need to create social environments that attract highly skilled people and business's."

    They are not moving away they are just sending their money away. They enjoy taking the advantages from a good infrastructure here and social benefits as well as good jobs. If someone decides to live elsewhere I am the last person on earth to stop them. But you can't live in a social environment, take advantage of it and refuse to pay your share. Thats my point.

    "But the fundamental principle is the limit on government power. Germany's government currently engages in crime in order to police matters outside its sovereign borders. It only does so because it is powerful, and does not fear Switzerland doing the same thing to it. In other words, the German government are bullies who think they can use force with impunity upon any nation smaller than Germany."

    National governments (not only the German one - probably even the Swiss but thats just an assumption I can't prove) commit worse crimes than this every day by negotiating with kidnappers from the middle east to get their citizens back or by finding settlements with drug dealers to get the more important fishes in the pond. In this case it is comparable to a situation in which every month you see that something from your house is missing. One month a chair next month your fridge. Now someone offers you to tell you who is stealing from you for a little fee. I wouldn't really care why the person knows who is stealing as long as his information is correct (which it seems to be).
    And as a matter of fact I don't actually think anyone in our government fears Switzerland and why would they? We are at no point dependant and the only massiv transfer happening between us two is the money hidden from more honest German taxpayers by the not so honest ones. I especially consider it funny that Swiss politicians say Germany won't be a "Rechtsstaat" if they buy the files - that from someone who made deals with criminals for at least 60 years kinda makes me laugh.

    "Seraphim85 wrote:
    "Seeing our idiotic government right now I envy you for your direct democracy. However most of the other points you mention is directly or indirectly only granted or given thanks to the "banking secrets" that allows criminals from all over the world to store their money in Switzerland.

    Is that right? So Tony Blair banks in Switzerland?"

    I don't know about Mr. Blair, but well I was talking about the current German government which you probably could not have known.

    "Anyway, the idea that Switzerland gains its wealth from criminally sourced money is a joke. It is not worth discussing."

    Is that so? Lately there have been figueres that between 100 and 500 bn euros of hidden money from Germany alone are stored in Switzerland. This money is probably rewarded with around 4% interest rates so that is between 4 and 20bn euros. Out of this interest rate alone the Swiss government takes 35% which would make between 1,4 bn euros and 7 bn euros that the Swiss government receives out of hidden money from Germany alone. Still a joke? Because that is in the least case still 2000 euro per Swiss citizen per year in the worst even 10000. Most countries could get rid of all their national depts all at once if they had so much extra money just once. And I was still only talking about money from Germany. There seem to be significant amounts from France and the US as well.

    "It may interest you to know that the canton of Bern has been lending money to the British government since the days of Adam Smith."

    Nope it is not see above. So I will leave the rest uncommented if you don't mind.

    "You talk about criminals and illegal money, and yet you speak from the UK."

    I don't think I do that at any point in my last comment but feel free to help me out when I am mistaken. Kinda funny that someone who wants to teach others that they should read is not capable of reading himself isn't it?

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  • 65. At 3:41pm on 04 Feb 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Someone has a beautiful 5000 piece jigsaw puzzle fully assembled. All the parts fit together and they form a coherent picture.

    Someone else wants one too but they don't have one and can't make one the same way. So they find 5000 pieces from different jigsaw puzzles and with scissors, lots of ingenuity, and a great deal of force and cunning they somehow make them fit. Only they keep pushing each other apart. Finally no matter how much force they use to try to keep it together, the hopless mess just explodes. That's what the European Union reminds me of.

    A replica of a 747 airplane carved out of stone because the real thing was only seen at a distance and not even remotely understood. And then those who sculpted the one out of stone don't understand why it won't fly. Pathetic and hillarious...unless you happen to be a passenger sitting in the stone version waiting on the runway for it to take off.

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  • 66. At 4:06pm on 04 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Mavrelius, so you are having jigsaw enlightments what flies. What will fly and where when your missile shield is installed in Romania and whenever else - Georgia, various Baltic sea bases, that jazz that is constantly on your mind.

    If you are so sure the EU jigsaw is as good as stone - why to quarrel Russia with them? Romania will install your crap at Brussles open "don't do this"/hidden "oh yes do please", whatever, irrelavant; Russia will again drag heavy ware for thousands miles to Kaliningrad or Transdniestria to target EU countries, you will sit on the other end of the pond as usual and smile.

    I am not so much willing to remind you of NATO promises of 1990-s that if we release grip on Eastern Europe, NATO won't move East to our shores. You can't hold NATO upon its word, LOL, they do as they please by force of power.

    But it seems to me a day ago we have finally signed with the USA the long range cutting deal, the USA and Russia - and the next day you announce you install another jigsaw piece of yours in Romania.
    Well well well.

    I will write to Medvedev that I absolutely insist they stop signing a single crap of paper with the USA in future. As if it's not enough what they signed with you in 1990-s, where you fooled us entirely. Russia is clearly not in the league to sit at the same table with swindlers and "agree agreements". And if Putin thought he is clever than Gorbachyov he was wrong. As the yesterday-today's events prove.
    Don't sit down to play cards with the Devil, that'll be my message to Medvedev. Simply fire back, without much brain straigning over it.

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  • 67. At 4:12pm on 04 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    The USA need that missile shield by Russia shores as a fish needs an umbrella.
    Nothing but desire to cause havoc elsewhere and profit from it.

    Your Obama is the same as Bush, no difference.
    What interesting news.
    Don't even approach us with you illiterate buttons anymore, sew them whenever you wish on own clothes.

    Especially reassuring news, after Ukraine said they see a way to live with the Black Sea Russian base in Sebastopol forever, viewing it as a part of common European defence system in future.

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  • 68. At 4:35pm on 04 Feb 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    The Russians have proven over history that despite their skill at chess, they are hardly the sharpest knives in the drawer. The leaders of Russia should consider that if there is a nuclear war anywhere in the world, especially one involving Iran, a nation that Russia is seen to be assisting to acquire nuclear weapons even if only tangentially, then Russia will not escape the consequences. This is true whether the target of an Iranian nuclear strike is the US, Israel, or even Europe. And this is true even if the attempted strike is unsuccessful. Russia will be as vulnerable as anyone in the aftermath.

    President Obama's speech contained a statement that suggests the goal of negotiations to be held in Washington will be to gain control over nuclear materials within 4 years so that they don't fall into the wrong hands. It is also suggested that negotiations will begin to reduce nuclear stockpiles down to 1500 on each side from America's current 9000+ and Russia's 12,000. It should be kept in mind that it would take only 75 to bring about extinction of humanity by a nuclear winter and only 200 to have destroyed the entire former USSR. IMO, just one detonated in the wrong place would be sufficient to end human life on earth. I do not underestimate how stupid the Russian government can be. I don't think that is possible.

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  • 69. At 4:53pm on 04 Feb 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Anyone still inexplicably under any illusion about the overmighty, all-pervasive authority and power of the EUropean Union based in Brussels will surely have had that removed by this article.

    Quote, "..(EU) describes the Greek plan as 'risky and ambitious'".
    Quote, "..the EU has put in place a rigorous monitoring programme".
    Quote, ".. (EU9 wants an assessment every 3 months on what is happening inside Greek accounts."
    Quote, "..If targets are not met they'll (EU) insist on further measures."
    Quote, "..(EU) wants the Greek Government to set aside 10% of current expenditure to create a reserve..".

    Of course the Greek Government's 'austerity' package may be the right one; the measures the EU backs and requires may be entirely correct.

    That is not the point.

    Greece is having to make these incredibly harsh and difficult policy decisions because of 3 key factors concerning the Governance of Greece:

    1) Greece's failure to adopt more stringent financial-economic policies in the last decade
    2) Greece's membership of the EUro-zone
    3) Greece's membership of the European Union

    If Greece had acted differently over point (1) it might still have been in difficulty due to the World economic recession.

    However, Membership of the EUro-zone and the EU have considerably reduced the Greek Government's room for manoeuvre.
    These are not the policies of a free, independent Nation State: They are the policies of a Vassal/Client' State of the EU.

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  • 70. At 5:04pm on 04 Feb 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    cbw; Had the Greek government not provided the kind of social safety net other EU nations provide their citizens, then Greeks would have emigrated en mass legally to where they could obtain them. The only real difference is that the debt in trying to provide those services has demonstrated its impact in Greece sooner than it has in the other EU nations that couldn't afford them either. Do you remember who insisted that the Growth and Stability Pact be scrapped and why? Do you recall that upon taking office, Sarkozy said that the French government was (financially) bankrupt? Do you think he was lying? Do you think it has gotten any better since then?

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  • 71. At 5:21pm on 04 Feb 2010, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To cool_brush_work (69):

    Oh please... If you want to get, you have to put out, there is no free dinner. It is the same with all EU countries.

    Furthermore I really can't understand the fuss over this situation. The simple fact of the matter is that the Greek state has lived over its means for quite some time and now this road has come to an end, now somebody has to pay the bill. The bill is going to be paid by the Greek citizens, that is fact that doesn't change. The question is just who is going to pay exactly... Devaluation of a currency is just another method on extracting the payment, lowering of public sector wages and cutting public sector workforce is another one.

    With or without the EU and the Eurozone the Greek state still would have to find a payer for their bill. Because they are a Eurozone member, they can't extract the payment from all their citizens via devaluation, they have to be more direct, raise taxes, cut wages or something. It is nonsense to say that the Greek government doesn't have power, they have all the power they need to solve this situation.

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  • 72. At 5:34pm on 04 Feb 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    WebAlic (#66) "I am not so much willing to remind you of NATO promises of 1990-s that if we release grip on Eastern Europe, NATO won't move East to our shores."

    Here'a a little background on that subject for former US Senator Bill Bradley, seekeng to explain the misunderstanding:

    A Diplomatic Mystery

    Whether extending NATO to include Romania and other eastern European states was a violation of a NATO promise, and whether it was a good idea regardless, are certainly debatable questions (and many Americans would agree with your position), but in any case the missiles proposed for Romania (a land-based variant of the SM-3) are clearly useful for antimissile defense only and are not an offensive threat to Russia or any other state. Here is a link to a description of the SM-3:

    M-161 (SM-3)

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  • 73. At 5:35pm on 04 Feb 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Juka Boxa;

    How many Greek emigrees does Finland have to accept? I think the answer is as many as choose to go there. Didn't the UK wake up one day to find 650,000 Polish plumbers living there? Well at least their pipes don't leak anymore. I wonder if the Greeks will invent a new way to make cheese out of reindeer milk :-)

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  • 74. At 5:42pm on 04 Feb 2010, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To Democractythreat (61)

    You:
    "But the fundamental principle is the limit on government power. Germany's government currently engages in crime in order to police matters outside its sovereign borders. It only does so because it is powerful, and does not fear Switzerland doing the same thing to it. In other words, the German government are bullies who think they can use force with impunity upon any nation smaller than Germany."

    Actually no. The German state is firstly responsible to uphold the law and justice for its citizen and residents and secondly to the EU citizens, as Swiss are not German citizens nor residents nor are they EU citizens, they don't have any rights and the protection of their rights isn't the responsibility of neither the German state or the EU.

    The USA has shown a good example in this front. If somebody has committed a crime against the USA, they will either lure you to America or kidnap you directly from another country. The EU should follow the American lead in this one and start delivering justice to those who are trying to abscond the law. I don't care about the Swiss, I don't care about any extra-European people, what I only care is that justice will be served and those guilty of committing crimes pay their due to the society.

    Actually sometimes I have to admit that it is a shame that we don't have direct democracy in the EU, because if there were I could put a forward a vote to...

    ...Proposition 1 for Equal Co-Operation. Freezing trade and closing borders until Switzerland removes banking secrecy and submits for continual EU audit of banks and financial institutions until Switzerland is clean of financial crime.

    ...Proposition 2 for Financial Peace and Prosperity. Annexing Switzerland to be part of France, Germany and Italy.

    or...

    ...Proposition 3 for Final Solution for Peace. Nuking Switzerland to stone age.

    I would vote Yes for all these. How about you other? Would you care some direct democracy? The proposition 3 would be especially cool and show that we Europeans are back in business.

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  • 75. At 5:50pm on 04 Feb 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    MAII
    Re #70

    In the case of France you are not the first (neither was I) to raise doubts about the vercaity of its last 6 months of Economic statistics.
    In the case of France's finances the idea this Nation emerged with/at-the-same time as Germany from the 'recession' is just one more example of duplicity at the highest level in Paris.
    Pres Sarkozy is about as reliable as the traditional French cockerel let loose at Twickenham - - it'll race anywhere to avoid getting trampled or caught!
    Infact, one could almost say the same for Germany: Not that I have any doubt the gigantic industrial-economic powerhouse core of Europe has led the recovery and been first to emerge from the depths.
    No, my doubt is to whether or not Berlin bothered to check France's figures, or perhaps even conspired at an accounting system that enables the EU duality-of-power to seemingly appear exactly on the same Economic-Financial page!

    Oh wonder of wonders: France and Germany both recording the strength of their economies in unison! Thus confirming to all and sundry that the backbone of the EU is in fine fettle & all the rest can breathe easier knowing Paris-Berlin have it all under control.

    France: The economic miracle that knows no bounds because from the time of Cardinal Richlieu it has never had to present a proper set of books!

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  • 76. At 5:53pm on 04 Feb 2010, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To MarcusAureliusII (73):

    You forget that the builders of the EU already thought about that. You see there is Catch-22. EU citizens due have the freedom of movement, but you can't relocate to another EU member state permanently if you don't acquire a job from that country, again there are some exceptions to this regarding students and pensioners. In general, if you are an healthy adult, you can stay 3 to 6 months time in another member state, but for residing over that period you need to get a job.

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  • 77. At 5:53pm on 04 Feb 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Juka boxa;

    "...Proposition 3 for Final Solution for Peace. Nuking Switzerland to stone age."

    I never realized that such hot passions could exist in a place as cold as Finland. Why not just export lots of Nokia telephones to Switzerland with a secret weapon, a ring tone that will drive them all insane :-)

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  • 78. At 6:13pm on 04 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Mavrelius. Do you mean you want something from us again? In exchange for not placing the stuff in Romania "after all". After a couple of years of scandals and negotiations. :o)))))

    O what is it? Say, approximately, you've got a flying corridor to Afghanistan for Poland, a train corridor to Afghanistan for Chech - what else do you want?
    A shipping line to Afghanistan for Romania?
    :o))))))

    Not bad if you are into negotiations again, I mean, black-mailing, but still negotiations, alright. But if your new peaceful LOL advanced and reformed president is into it seriously, with no back thoughts, how to say, but in honest faith of straightforward tank vision :o)))))

    Either way you either wish to blast us direct, or to keep EU personnel busy for the next two years in multiplying their meetings and committees quantities :o)))) over the US-Russian relations in the shape of various rockets draggged over in and by the EU quarters. Which means you wish to blast Europeans :o))) well, say, financially exhaust them over EU personnel multiplication. :o)))))))

    Can't you really get yourself an advanced president?
    Well, sorry. I know it's difficult. Nearly impossible. You don't have to explain us!

    as to swords and chess-boards ... yes I suppose we aren't the sharpest around. (chess is a peaceful game, after all)

    Still, over-used possibilities are worse than under-used ones.
    Russia has got billions of the latter. If we miraculously survive :o))) I mean, at all - and clearly by mistake :o)))) not as part of the greater plan :o)))) - a school-child will draw you up a list how Russia can become a far stronger place overnight, by implementing even a handful of corrections to the system.

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  • 79. At 6:22pm on 04 Feb 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    J_R

    Re #76

    I'm unsure about the accuracy in the 'only 3 to 6 months' residence for those of 'working' age, unless employed.
    How does it work: The 'retirement/pension' age varies from State to State?

    Is your EU Rule actually written down in some document?

    I ask because there are numbers of us who are under official State 'retirement/pensionable' age in various Nations of the EU without full time work and none of us have been asked to move on!

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  • 80. At 6:39pm on 04 Feb 2010, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To cool_brush_work (79):

    More information can be found from here...

    http://ec.europa.eu/youreurope/nav/en/citizens/services/eu-guide/living/index_en.html

    "if you are retired or unemployed, you must prove that you have adequate sickness insurance and sufficient financial resources for yourself (each country sets its own amount), as well as for any members of your family who are with you. The retirement benefits are payable wherever you are living. If the retirement scheme under which you are insured covers your medical expenses, you have the right to the same cover as a retired person in the country in which you reside. To qualify for these benefits, you should notify your change of residence to your pension authorities before you leave and ask for Form E121 from the health authorities in the country you are moving from. The form should be provided to the relevant authorities in the country to which you move."

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  • 81. At 7:01pm on 04 Feb 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Juka boxa;

    "you can't relocate to another EU member state permanently if you don't acquire a job from that country,"

    Then the UK must have held the world's record for the number of openings for plumbing jobs.

    WA;

    "as to swords and chess-boards ... yes I suppose we aren't the sharpest around. (chess is a peaceful game, after all)"

    Chess is a game of war that doesn't end until the king on one side or the other is dead. Think of it as "regime change."

    I cannot think of one thing Russia has or makes that America wants. Maybe chromium is an exception. Perhaps all we'd like from Russia is for it to stay out of the way when America has to deal with serious problems and perhaps passively cooperate if that is at all possible. However, as we've seen time and again, even that seems too much to ask. How about voting for some real sanctions with teeth and helping to enforce them against Iran to do whatever is possible to avoid a war there instead of cynically making money violating them the way Russia did in the case of Saddam Hussein's Iraq?

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  • 82. At 7:01pm on 04 Feb 2010, Nik wrote:

    While eveyone loves his country thinking it is unique in the world, there no question about Greece - it is indeed a unique country in the world. One has only to take into account that it is one of the very few (alongside the likes of Israel - but this for very different reasons) that the State Department could not and still cannot classify in the "regional" groups: Greece was never part of western Europe, it cannot be a part of Eastern Europe, but then neither could it ever be a part of the Middle East. In fact the State Department classifies it as a "balander" - and while there is no particular problem of Americans towards Greeks, their main strategy is to limit its influence in the region as much as possible for exactly this "balander" property of Greeks.

    This uniqueness is not limited in these general classifications : contrary to its millenia old history and impact in the worlrd, it ended up with a small size, a continuouosly pathetic economy - not to mention the nation passing a genocide in Minor Asia in 1912-1922 where 1,5 million were massacred alongside Armenians, and another 1,5 millioon were spread all over the place, Balkan wars, 2 World Wars, 1 civil war, the famine of 1942 that killed more than 800,000 (the 1/8th of the population then), the pongroms that Greek populatioons faced in all neighbouring countries, the problems of reconstruction and integration of refugees, the loss of Cyprus with which Greece was never let to have proper business for obvious reaosons, the constant threat of war by US backed Turkey, the artificial problems with northern weak (but US backed) neighbours. Apart communism-struck Russia, there is absolutely no other country in Europe that has suffered as much and so unjustly as Greece - no matter if it is not in the habbit of Greeks to show such.

    But then, the uniqueness does not end in all the setbacks... it is a country that has an amazingly disproportionate number of scientists, thinkers and artists given its small size, pathetic economy and all that plight of the last 200 years. One only needs to take into account that even as early as early 19th century, Greece has more university graduates in % of total population than countries like France or UK. Not to mention another weird fact - Greek ship magnates own one of the largest commercial fleets (albeit in foreign flags of course).

    However how on earth can all this uniqueness be translated in competitive advantage in a world that strives for uniformity? What can the Greeks do to reverse their economic situation? It is not western Europe, not Eastern Europe, it is not a rich society, not a poor one. It has sophisticated manpower with completely backwards infrastructure, its labour is not so cheap but then the quality produced is no more than average... at the end what does it have to offer to the world other than being an importer of industrial and agricultural goods since its local production is near 0? The main thing among the very few that Greece can export is their minds - and that is the worst scenario for development.

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  • 83. At 7:04pm on 04 Feb 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    cbw

    "However, Membership of the EUro-zone and the EU have considerably reduced the Greek Government's room for manoeuvre.
    These are not the policies of a free, independent Nation State: They are the policies of a Vassal/Client' State of the EU."

    Its a conspiracy, isn't it?

    By the way, the "room for manoeuvre" you refer to means nothing else but to devalue their currency. This has, as always, been the easy solution for the PIGS, as their self-serving oligarch-politicians, feared the wrath of the militant unions.

    The Euro has taken this "manoeuvre" out of the equation. What is left?

    The realisation that Greece has been badly run and that tough decisions have to be made that increase real competitiveness.

    This is the real secret strength of the euro: It forces countries to become more "german". I find it quite amazing.

    P.s. There are 4 times as many teachers for every student in Greece than there are in Finland. (Finland continuously ranks in the top for student performance).

    P.p.s. There are 10 times as many civil servants in Greece per capita than there are in Ireland.

    Go figure...

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  • 84. At 7:08pm on 04 Feb 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    JR and cbw

    you can declare yourself to be "self-employed" and thus stay indefinite. Pretty simple, really.

    MAII - The immigrants from Eastern Europe have proven to be a boon for the UK. They do the jobs Britons don't want to do for that wage and they are being lauded for their work ethic.

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  • 85. At 7:20pm on 04 Feb 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Juka boxa #80;

    Very interesting and very different from the United States. In the US you are free to live anywhere anytime. You can have multiple homes simultaneously in as many states as you want, as many homes as you want, there is no limit. You can rent or own it doesn't matter. You don't have to prove anything to anyone and all you have to do about insurance is tell your insurance company your new address if you intend to make that your official residence. Due to our arcane laws which will likely change soon, not all health insurance companies can write insurance in all states so if you change states you might have to buy different health insurance. As for benefits for unemployment you get your benefits from the state you were in when you started collecting for the most recent period. So does that mean I can pick myself up and go rent an apartment or park a mobile home in another state for as long as I want until I find a job if I am looking for one or just live there if I don't want to work, don't have to work, can't work because of say disability? Yes, without the slighetest doubt. America may still be the most mobile place in the world. At various times I've been a resident of five different states, some more than once.

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  • 86. At 7:24pm on 04 Feb 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    Jukka, you show your raw intelligence by proposing to annex Switzerland to France, Germany AND Italy. And then nuking it. Which would mean nuking .... France , Germany and Italy. And nuking the alps in the centre of Europe.

    Amazing plan, Juks. As coherent as it is humane.

    But here is the thing: I'd take your bet.

    You presume that if Europe had Swiss style direct democracy, then folks like you would be the overwhelming majority.

    See, that is where you are wrong. You are an economist, trained by the state and in obsequious service to it.

    But the majority of folks are not like that. Most people are just trying to get by, to feed their children and to do their work properly. They don;t have grand ambitions to wield nuclear weapons and to strike out at foreign demons.

    Most people are just normal people. Peaceful, hardworking. Caring. And that is how they vote on issues, when given the chance.

    It is only the politicians and their pet economists who dream the dreams of power and who go in for grand plans for everybody else to live by.

    It is precisely the tempering and humane influence of the ordinary mothers and the gardeners and the the cooks, and the cleaners..... these ordinary, peaceful, thoroughly decent human beings are what makes a democracy humane and enlightened. It is these decent people who temper the madness of the megalomaniacs, and who act as a foil to the insane and abusive schemes of tyrants.

    Anyway, we've had this conversation before. You want to rule the world so that all the numbers line up in a neat row, and so that you have the power to punish Russia for its great historical evil towards make benefit glorious nation of Finland. That's your thing.

    I still don't understand why you hate the Swiss. You seem convinced that banking privacy (states have secrecy, Jukka. Individuals have privacy. The english language is rich.) is somehow responsible for the problems of the world.

    Don't you think that is a fairly long shot? I mean, you could be right. I guess.

    But even in the darkness of your economic theory, don't you imagine that other factors might be at play?

    By the way, it is refreshing to see Marcus and Alice squaring off and trading nationalistic pride in the power of their respective nations weapons of mass destruction.

    Marcus, you've convinced me. If anyone did something silly, why America would destroy the world. And that would show them.

    Alice, you've also convinced me. Russia cannot trust America because america is ruled by folks who sell weapons and misery to the rest of the world. But then, so is Russia....

    If my opinion is worth anything, I would like to see both you and Marcus gang up on Finland, and give them a savage nuclear beating. Or, maybe not Finland. Maybe just all the economists who serve the EU with their toadish sycophancy.

    After all, what is the point of being powerful if you can't tell everyone else how to live, and be respected for your mighty sword?

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  • 87. At 7:25pm on 04 Feb 2010, Nik wrote:

    .... (apologising fist for the lengthy "intro" above)... the question of turning the tables with Greek economy is not even directly linked with the EU. Given all the rest of the picture, EU or no EU, Greece would have to face the same questions: "Ok, nice, we import, but what do we sell in exchange to be able to import"?

    Shipping?
    Yes, Greek companies are faring excellently in the sector... only that they construct their boats in Korea and China for the last 40 years, the ships are all on African countries' flags (thus pay no tax), while 80-90% of employees on ships are foreign (i.e. you have on the ship, a Greek captain, a Ukrainian 2nd in command, and Philipino mechanics and sailors). It is understandable that shipping is an international business and you can only gain if you have ports and infrastructure. Greece has no proper ports as there was never any need to have a proper port (to move products were? In communist Bulgaria or Albania?).

    Tourism?
    It should had been the no1 industry, yet most of the 1960s-1990s (the period of touristic development) Greeks passed recovering from the hangover of a dictatorship and the national political "schism" as well as the nightmare of Cyprus on the top of the cake. Tourism was a minor issue better left in the hands of villagers that obviously had no clue and thought it would be just easy renting one flat to make some extra money. Some governments like that of the... father (what a shame!) of prime minister Mr. Papandreou (and son of a pre-dictatorship prime minister!) even rejected tourism as a means of getting money saying "we are not interested in becoming Europe's servive-boys" (u n i m a g i n a b l e!). By the beginning of 1990s, the war in Jugoslavia as well as a total change in the touristic industry meant that when the global tourism industry augmented 200-300%, the greek one augmented around 5% (neighbours Turks saw certainly the full increase of 200-300%).
    Perhaps art and culture alongside tourism?
    Is it a commerce? Well if it is then Greece can sell little things.

    Hi-tech?
    Hi-tech what? There was never any major low-tech, why on earth would someone want to buy high-tech from Greece? I mean, for high-tech soft you go to India, for high-tech mechanics you used to go to Japan, then to Korea, now to China. For any other high-tech, next door Italy manages to present an amazing technological output. What can an industry-lacking Greece present in the sector?

    Low-tech:
    Like steel constructions, basic industrial products, clothing, agriculture etc.? No chance. Next door you have Turkey which does it 10 times more and better. Then you have the likes of Balkan countries that have the potential and a bit lower salaries.

    Commerce:
    That should be something that Greece should be into. But of what kind? Ressources? I mentioned it has lots of oil - but it is forbidden to use it (order of US...). What else? Becoming a hub of the international commerce? Yes, but again the US (and perhaps the Europeans) did not like at all the idea of Chinese co-operating closely with Greece in that matter. Forget it... Becoming a hub of international gaz networks perhaps? Well here we laugh: Greece is on the brink of collapse particularly for this reason - for trying to do so...

    I am afraid there are not many options left for the country. There is one however: out of all that particular process of semi-development, strangely around 80% of Greeks ended up with property. They will have to sell it and become renters. It can be seen as the total sell-out of the country in general. They will sell their land and they will get more loans to have some hope of sustaining at least a part of their current standards.

    And that not only implies NOT any cleaning of the inherent corruption but actually a recycling of the problem. Loans paid with land, and then replaced by new loans, again the sharks will eat most of the money, people will be left out, and the country will continue to remain in its usual position...

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  • 88. At 7:32pm on 04 Feb 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    Marcus:

    "I cannot think of one thing Russia has or makes that America wants."

    Cheap stealth fighters? But come, seriously, Russia has enemies, and america wants them very badly indeed.

    After all, you folks need someone to beat up on if everyone is going to fear you and make the little people in your miserable violent society feel big and important.

    You continue:
    "Perhaps all we'd like from Russia is for it to stay out of the way when America has to deal with serious problems and perhaps passively cooperate if that is at all possible. "

    How extraordinarily generous, Marcus. How utterly deranged, also.

    Marcus, you start your reasoning from the insane premis that the USA rules the world and has a legitimate right to dictate orders towards every other country on earth.

    Right now America can't pay its bills and 10% of its population haven't got jobs. Those that have are being fleeced senseless by the bankers and the Chinese communist party.

    That isn't ruling the world, Marcus. It is staggering blind drunk down a dirt road with your pants down around your ankles, and yelling at god that you love him more than you love your own mother.

    It's impressive in its own way, and great theatre, but it isn't ruling the world.

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  • 89. At 7:35pm on 04 Feb 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    G;

    "you can declare yourself to be "self-employed" and thus stay indefinite. Pretty simple, really."

    So then the regulation restricting emigration or immigration between EU countries has no real effect? If I were Greek, I could take my savings, move to the UK, declare myself a self employed widget maker, live there as any citizen of the UK, when I can't find any customers for my widgets or any other job file for unemployment or welfare benefits? Is that how it works? Well then small wonder Poles emigrated to the UK when things were bad in Poland and then went back to Poland when they got better there. I understand there was actually a shortage of skilled construction trade labor for awhile when Poland was booming before the crash.

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  • 90. At 7:40pm on 04 Feb 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    MarcusAureliusII (#81) "I cannot think of one thing Russia has or makes that America wants."

    I have a sweet little drypoint etching which could not have been made anywhere but Russia.

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  • 91. At 7:47pm on 04 Feb 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Gheryando

    Re #84

    So 'simple', yet I haven't done it and after 3 years no one has said a thing!

    Maybe as I am married to a Finn & did several months unpaid research-photography work for an international astronomy group I got overlooked.

    Re #83

    I have no idea about a conspiracy: The Greeks are in the pickle they are because of a failure in due diligence over their Financial affairs. It is a mystery as to how the Greek Government that is 'alleged' to have cooked the Nation's accountancy books was able to enter the EUro-zone without the EU noticing a thing!? At the very least it does not bode well for the EU's general financial management. As we all know it is presently pressing for greater involvement in pan-EUropean Banking-Investment: After the last 2 year debacle I'm quite sure for many European Citizens this 'closer union-involvement' must sound like the correct course of action, however, it is Paris-Berlin that will be in control and extending their dominance of all things European/EU! The most immediate case in point being Greece.

    I have only the knowledge that is presented here and elsewhere: The EU is now able to control the entire policies of the Greek Government.
    I do not know if it is a good or bad thing, but it is correct that Greeks are no longer to have any real Voice in their Financial Governance?
    With no Greek Citizens able to effect the Financial-Economic policy of their Government because it is taking orders from a higher authority - - the EU - - there is no longer a need for Greek National Elections because if Greek Citizens cannot have a say on their Nation's Taxation & Public Spending policies then there is no Greek State worthy of mention.

    If, as a 'pro-EU', you wish to claim different, go ahead, but the evidence is there in every statement from the Greek Government and from the EU itself.

    It should not really be a cause of concern for 'pro-EU' as this has been the intentional policy of the co-founders (France - Germany) of the EU for many years.

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  • 92. At 7:52pm on 04 Feb 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    GH1618 wrote:
    "MarcusAureliusII (#81) "I cannot think of one thing Russia has or makes that America wants."

    I have a sweet little drypoint etching which could not have been made anywhere but Russia."

    I have never heard Latvia described in such poetic terms before.

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  • 93. At 7:53pm on 04 Feb 2010, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To democracythreat (86):

    Two words: Fox News

    Direct democracy would remove the state from power equilibrium, the place of the state would be nominally taken by "the people", but in reality what would happen is coup by the media companies. Actually in the end what we would have is concentration of power to upper and upper middle classes of our societies as they form the leadership and ownership of all large corporations and institutions.

    Do remember that advertising is world wide industry that is projected to cross over 450 billion USd mark by this year. That money is spend because its spenders believe to get value for their money, and there are many case examples to show it does. The thing is, there is price for everything and everybody, money is used to turn people prefer one kind of fast food outlet instead of another. The means and methods of converting and turning people are out there, and they are available to everybody with a bit of cash to spend.

    Now if you think the corporate collusion and influence on the public sphere is bad in Europe or especially in USA where interest groups and corporations spend mind boggling amounts of money to get their favorite candidate to become a congressman, senator or the President. With direct democracy you would remove the middle man away, just spend the money for an media blitz and you get a law that you want to, and with right kind of money everything is open for business.

    Don't make mistake, the business major in me does see the opportunity to get rich. Bring on the direct democracy, I don't care, everybody with half a brain and no morality will get rich... and Switzerland will get nuked, because they are evil-doers and deserve it.

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  • 94. At 8:04pm on 04 Feb 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    democracythreat (#92):

    Latvia?

    I should add Russian literature to my list as well.

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  • 95. At 8:05pm on 04 Feb 2010, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To Gheryando (84)

    To be self employed would at least in Finland require you to set up an legal entity for yourself to employ you. Now that is quite simple to do, but if you do it then you are not entitled to social assistance.

    To cool_brush_work (91):

    My advice for you would be to look out what the actual rules and guidelines are in Finland. You probably do fulfill the criteria concerning on having enough savings and assets to support you to get a residents permit. Also being married to Finnish wife would probably give you a permanent residents permit.

    You probably don't have a Finnish Social Security number?

    For the reason why you are still here and nobody has bothered to ask you to leave is that if you aren't registered to any public database, you officially don't exist, and as long as you abide the law, you fly under the raider of the state. Simple as that.

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  • 96. At 8:10pm on 04 Feb 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    GH;

    "I have a sweet little drypoint etching which could not have been made anywhere but Russia."

    I'm writing a letter to President Obama immediately to urge him to do whatever he has to so that we have a treaty that allows us to buy them. Perhaps I'll try to get an exclusive export license. After that guy paid over $100 million for that statue in Sotheby's who knows what those etchings could be worth.

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  • 97. At 8:26pm on 04 Feb 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    J_R

    Re #80

    Look, I am very familiar with the fact the Finnish Kela, Maistraatti are very intrusive of people's lives compared to many other nations inc. the UK.
    In a bar in Kuopio an Irishman once suggested Finnish officialdom tries to "..find out when people 'pick' their noses..", but I disagreed, they really only ask that you show where you deposited the 'bogey' for ecology reasons! (Just teasing).

    Nonetheless, I can assure you even Finn officials have not asked me to furnish evidence of any work at all in 3 years.
    I complete the Vero Toimisto forms (Tax Office) and show I live on my personal pensions and that is it.

    It is much laxer in Belgium: At times we have stayed in Brussels for a few months and no one has ever even enquired who 'we' are in our [Personal details removed by Moderator]
    England, from our experience, is the easiest place of all: There my Finnish wife lived with me for 30+ years (on and off as forces took me abroad) and before and since UK and/or Finland EU Membership she was never questioned by anybody. She worked part & full time, paid tax, Nat Ins., got to sign the Official Secrets Act Register for one of her occupations and the vetting consisted of her providing 3 addresses of Citizens who had 'known' her for more than 2yrs, plus they checked for a criminal record, but as she had never voted and everything was in my name (not chauvinism - - just by fact of my Forces' occupation) the Police could not even find her listed. Admitted that changed with the Community Charge, but only after she had been resident in England almost 20 years!

    I cannot see how even the EU could attempt to regulate for 450,000,000 Citizens 'right of residence' across 27 Nations on this issue? Broad, sweeping rules such as the Schengen 'open borders' is daft enough, never mind trying to order Sven, Patrick, Mathilde, Agneta, Josip, Juanita etc. in every Country to register after 3 months!
    Surely, if the EU is trying to do that it really is utterly out of control and on a power-trip that makes no sense at all!?

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  • 98. At 8:40pm on 04 Feb 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    Jukka Rohila wrote:
    "To democracythreat (86):
    Two words: Fox News
    Direct democracy would remove the state from power equilibrium, the place of the state would be nominally taken by "the people", but in reality what would happen is coup by the media companies."

    Two words:

    Theoretical conjecture.

    You speak of these things as if he whole matter is theoretical. It isn't. And what is more, your theory places some kind of ungodly power in the hands of the media companies.

    Rupert Murdoch is worth listening to, unlike most of his editors, and he is explicit in his views on how to sell newspapers. That is what he does. He sells newspapers. He does it well, too.

    And he also solicits advertising and classified contracts from political parties, and that also makes him a boatload of money. But if he existed inside a direct democracy, he would still be the guy who likes to sell newspapers. He is not a demi god, nor the devil. He is not one of the six guys in the underground bunker who make the sign of the jewish cabal and rule the world.

    Those six guys don't exist, jukka. The world is like it is because it is like it is. Nobody schemes and plots to control everything. There is no underground room, and those six wise men who know the secrets about how to control the world.... they don't exist. It is the ultimate conspiracy theory to believe they do.

    Further, your concept of what the state is and what it does is strange, to say the least. Direct democracy does not replace the state. The state still exists. It even does more or less the same things. You have your police, and your firemen, and your teachers and your tax collectors. All that stuff still exists, and it does what it does.

    The only thing that changes in a direct democracy (please accept that this is NOT THEORY) is that ordinary people are allowed to vote on laws. In fact, most of society is exactly the same. Corporations do their corporate things, and bankers make loads of money. Lawyers are still bloodsuckers who exploit the grave ignorance of economists, and patriots still fall over drunk on the way home from the football.

    The thing that changes is that the representatives of the people, who still exist and perform duties as part of the state, are subject to a power of veto WITH RESPECT TO WHAT THEY MAKE AS LAW.

    That is what changes. Nothing else really changes in a profound way, in terms of the state.

    But that change, although not radical in every respect, does have a radical consequence for the fate of laws which create profit for those who seek to corrupt the representatives of the people. Corporations and super rich individuals can still sponsor pet politicians, and they can still pay for advertising to get them high public profiles. The right wing SVP party in switzerland is a prime example.

    But if and when the corrupt politicians try to pass laws that gift taxpayers money into the pockets of those who sponsor the representatives, the people are able to repeal those laws.

    So, for example, there is no "war on drugs" in switzerland. The people do not accept that politicians sponsored by those who own police credit unions and legal drug companies and others who supply police operations should turn one section of society against another. So when politicians try to demonize drug users and make them the target of huge police spending in their budgets, the people get to say "no thanks".

    And likewise, those who would divert public spending into war are dismissed and prevented from doing so. And so are those who would sponsor politicians to divert tax payers money into a whole range of spurious and harmful activities.

    Most of all, politicians are not allowed to borrow vast sums of money to create income for their sponsors, thereby creating poverty in the community and subjecting future generations to debt slavery.

    What direct democracy does is to give the people a power of veto over corrupt politicians who are sponsored by predatory and traitorous individuals and collectives who would use their money to pervert government and make it a source of easy revenue for their business activities.

    It is a break on corruption and mismanagement, a check against misrepresentation.

    That is all it is. It is not some glorious economic solution for instant wealth, nor is it a divine inspiration.

    It is just a different way of overseeing the business of the state, and of safeguarding the rights of ordinary people not to be subject to theft and fraud from an elite class of very wealthy people who have organized themselves into corporate lobby groups.

    What is most striking about swiss society is that the wealthy individuals do not mind being overseen in this way. They do not buck and rebel, and threaten to leave the country. They just keep doing what they do, and continue to make money legitimately, according to the opportunities the market provides.

    That should tell you something, especially about the nature of corporations and wealthy folks.

    They are not smart. They are not all powerful. they are just greedy, and disloyal to their fellows. Like everyone else, I suppose. But they, like everyone else, do the best they can inside the system they were born into.

    Corporations make money for their shareholders. That is what they do, and that is all they do. If the system allows them to make money by corrupting representatives and thus controlling the government, they do so.

    Not because they are evil, and not because they want to control the world. Just because a corporation is a dumb and senseless human construct that exists only to make more money for its shareholders. the corporation is a pure distillation of private greed, and it feeds where it can.

    if the political system in which it lives prevents it feeding on government funds, and thus protects those funds for the benefit of the community, the dumb corporation goes and feeds in the market where it belongs.

    Think of direct democracy as the walls of the pig sty, keeping the pigs in the mud where they belong, and away from the vegetable garden and the hen house.

    It is not a radical idea, just a refinement on free market capitalism. It prevents free market capitalism from degenerating in to corporate fascism.

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  • 99. At 9:02pm on 04 Feb 2010, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To democracythreat (98):

    That is not direct democracy. That is an constitutional republic with added way for people to vote laws directly. With your definition California and many other US states are also direct democracies. That isn't direct democracy, direct democracy removes the representational form of government all together.

    And in case of Rupert Murdoch, his media assets are right-wing, supportive of the Republican party, anti-EU in the UK, having pro-war views, i.e. Iraq war. Media power is real power and it is used in real life.

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  • 100. At 9:03pm on 04 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    GH1618 with the little nice etching :o)

    Thank you for the link, read with interest.

    Of same value I think as the US explanation "we never meant Kurils in 1945-1951 when we were signing papers" but "it's the Kurils of 1956 US understanding now that Japan became an intersting platzdarm due to apeparance of communistic China".
    :o))))))))

    Nothing is sure in US geography, neither what "East" means nor where are Kurils after US interests change.

    With the amount of Ouch ! aaah! squeaking and screaming Russia did over every country more as they were joing NATO in the Eastern direction creep, one would think the USA could have come up with this "explanation" slightly earlier.

    Don't tell me you are deaf and that your officials never met a single Russian diplomat, for who NATO expansion East has steadily been a synonim of "hello how are you".

    A very elegant explanation, I give credit to it, but somewhat late.

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  • 101. At 9:13pm on 04 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    On M-161 - or anything else for that matter: Russia has always been of the opinion that the one who had completed building defense, completes the structure with only one thing in mind - to be able to offend.
    Thus, deleting the only so far working factor in nuclear stand-over: inability to attack with impunity.
    You would agree that such point of view has a base.

    Nevermind this "explanation" can be easily tested if Russia starts to surround the USA with intercepting missiles, Cuba again, Venezuella things.

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  • 102. At 9:21pm on 04 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Anyway, we've got a better idea; BBC doesn't mention yet, may be yet, but Polish and Swedish PMs recently addressed Russia on behalf of the EU (somehow) (at a loss between 4 presidents :o) with the polite neighbourly request, in very sweet terms, that Russia moves its hardware slightly off away European borders, pulls it inside Russia a bit, places more central or something. Without kilometres mentioned, simply, why not to consider, given we are friends with the EU now and all.

    To which our Foreign Affairs replied that with all our pleasure, the only thing is the borderline with dear EU neighbour, very dear to our heart, strangely coinsies one to one with the NATO borderline.
    Which is a competitive, say, military block thaat we can not allow ourselves to neglect.
    So Russia will certianly move after the EU considers our counter proposal - why not to think about it? That each European country from no onwards keeps only that nuclear stuff that is own. And that all infrustructure for the nuclear stuff positioning and installment in European countries is deleted. Unless it's country's own.

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  • 103. At 9:22pm on 04 Feb 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    Jukka Rohila (#99) "That is not direct democracy. That is an constitutional republic with added way for people to vote laws directly."

    That is quibbling over semantics, I think. There may be no such thing as a pure direct democracy on a national or state level. Nevertheless, when Americans in many of our states enact laws by initiatives of the people, or repeal legislative laws by referenda, they are practicing direct democracy.

    The fallacy in promoting this idea as the purest form of democracy, however, is that initiatives are always written by special interest groups, usually large, well funded business organizations, never as true grass roots organizations. Initiatives tend to cater more to special interests than normal legislation created by representatives (and influenced by lobbyists), because a legislature represents many interest groups and must therefore compromise differences between the various groups.

    Direct democracy comes into play when the voting public recognizes that an initiative serves a special interest and is against the public interest generally, and therefore rejects it.

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  • 104. At 9:31pm on 04 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Mavrelius, about chess I held my hand as well, in air for 10 minutes, :o))) before qualified it as peaceful :o))))
    Just wanted to look sweeter :o))))))

    You are joking, what's Iran and what's Romania. For Iran you will have to install ? that number missiles in as min a handful of them.
    :o)))))

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  • 105. At 9:34pm on 04 Feb 2010, Chris wrote:

    @DT,

    Regarding media barons in a true direct democracy they would be able to pass any laws they wished if the state did not have any controls in place.

    There is no need for conspirosy theories any company that gets too big should be broken up, it becomes a monopoly. In the case of media it should be even stricter, than other business

    @Jukka, he also controls the media in Australia.

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  • 106. At 9:35pm on 04 Feb 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    WebAlice (#101) "You would agree that such point of view has a base."

    I do agree, and recognize that Russia has very good reasons for being wary of its neighbors which the United States, for the most part, does not.

    My understanding of the American point of view, however, is that it is not Russia that we fear today, but Iran and North Korea, which are becoming nuclear powers, and which seem to be controlled by people who are a great deal less rational than were the Soviet leaders.

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  • 107. At 10:08pm on 04 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Jukka, what's media power compared to state power. Yes I know I know but still. Your scares are mis-placed, I think. Those, "journalists" :o)) - a "power"? Give me a break ordinary scribbling folk. Or, alternatively, a pack of wolves :o)))) when the message has been passed down to them "from above".

    So, in that direct democracy - who'll be sending "the message"?
    Without state backing, "the message" can be fed from the hands of media barons only, supporting media barons' interests.

    Then I know how it looks - we had it during late Gorbi-Yeltsin, when power in the country first disappeared, and all were writing all they could (very rich TV channels and newspapers), and then the "barons" figured out media is free rambling without any sense :o)))) or useful application :o)))), and grabatised and streamlined them into campuses - but even those conditions aren't bad. You could watch Berezovsky channels and read his print, Gusinsky channels and his print, who only not. While big spiders compete tooth and nail with each other - there is still interesting read in the counytry.
    Another thing is when they get united and merge with the state. Then it becomes aaah. But while the "state" component is missing - all media combined is simply a gypsy campus playing in the open. OK, with media barons - very heavy-weighty gypsies :o)))) frolicking in the grass :o)))

    You simply lack practical experience in that respect, to watch how newspapers and TVs change - overnight. I, for example, vividly remember how I bought daily Izvestia and read the first lines in the front page and thought between Wed and Thu they all may be ? fell sick? an epidemia, in the office? a flu A wrong newspaper I bought?
    couldn't believe my eyes. Nothing special was written that I could remember of, but it was a different newspaper. And the whole diff is it changed hands, the day before.
    And how many times our TV channels changed hands you can;'t even imagine.
    Caleidoscopic, in the past 20 yrs. For an attentive, say, sensitive reader - a change is in your face, at once.
    And anyway, what's media without state backing? A gypsy stand-over :o)))))

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  • 108. At 10:18pm on 04 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    You simply never had free media, poor Jukks. All yours is pro-capitalistic, anti-Russian, pro-EU by definition. To give some frames.
    We had, for about 10 years.
    I think the major cause of death in the country back then was "heart-break/stroke in front of TV" :o)))))
    And traumas - "newspaper burned his hands".

    So much all got to know about each other, you can't imagine.
    here have you seen a single scene of oligarchs fighting in direct broadcasts with KGB fighting in direct broadcast with ex Imperial family members who also came to tell a couple of things :o))) they longly longed to say :o)))) with 3 rabid communists with Stalin's posters in hands, and 3 non-rabid communists (without posters) saying "you were wrong communists! that's why this country collapsed!" also in the camera room, plus a handful of Poles interfering with their woes, plus 2-3 Azerbajanee, a handful of new democrats at the throat of old liberals, pro-West and "let's raise up bridges": - and all in diff. combinations telling what they think in direct broadcast. You never even had a commie and a capitalist, a simple classic combination in direct broadcast once.
    What do you know about free media.

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  • 109. At 10:30pm on 04 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    democracythreat, we will consider your proposal :o)))) for improvement:o))) with Mavrelius, we'll just finish off :o))) some clearly un-finished business we've got trailing over from Cold times :o)))) - and then - if there is anything left :o)))) - we'll look into Jukka and EU officials in general issue.

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  • 110. At 11:01pm on 04 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Meanwhile, Nik has put out all Greece's opportunities onto shelves, carefully considered ways, and packages, what they've got. Quite an analysis. Yes, it looks their key position point they can't realise/make use of. Because I, for example, :o))) start seeing some parties that could be interested, in their geopolitical location. :o))))

    If to remember the old times, a busy route was Greece-Odessa. Somehow there was something enough to carry in both directions, can't think now what it was. Whatever it is, Ukraine is not a buyer now. For a while, as minimum. And not a seller, LOL. But it was an established traffic, in normal times.
    ____________________

    I thought today Janukovich is very much like Bush. Geography :o)))))

    Was addressing Chernigov town folks for half an hour, calling their city hall congregation "My dear Odessits/Odessa folks" :o)))) - until they began shouting to him from the front rows "We are not Odessa! You are in Chernigov! To Odessa they haven't brought you yet, it's later in the day, in your tour!"

    Then, of course, called Chekhov sev. days ago "a great Ukrainian poet".
    (Russia startled :o))))

    The best was so far in Lvov/Lviv town, in the Western South. He wanted to butter them up, about their nationalities' mix, and began his speech by "Here, in this topmost Western Ukr. town has gathered "THE BEST GENOSIDS OF THE NATION". Made a new noun, out of genoside, like ? "genoside-inclined folks" :o))))) Very true, by the way :o)))) all nationalists are there in lvov, their fortress city.

    So his aid , from behind, corrected him in loud whisper "You wanted to say "the Best Genofund" /genetic fund/ of the nation".
    Janukovich said - "yes, I mean - both! The best "genosids and the best genofund"!


    Mavrelius, now, a very quality US PR agency is working on him. If he won't pass - I'll lodge a formal complaint to the USA. What's that, really, you can't put together a speech for him without difficult words? Brief him in advance shortly - where he is? Don't know that Checkhov wrote just 8 lines of poetry in his life? Must be the latter. You don't know where Odessa is either :o))))
    :o))))

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  • 111. At 11:10pm on 04 Feb 2010, busby2 wrote:

    The EU are to police Greek accounts, they say.

    But what sanctions do they have?

    If the Greeks fail to cut the deficit, what is the EU going to do?

    Any country in the mess Grece is in would devalue but they cannot do that because they have surrendered their economic sovereignty when they joined the Eurozone. This is turn is giving the EU a headache of monumental proportions because it is showing the Eurozone is only as strong as their weakest member.

    This crisis shows that the Eurozone was built on sand. It was also built without the consent of the people of Europe. Nobody asked the Germans if they wanted to give up the DM and they will soon tire of the damage weaker members of the Eurozone are doing to their economy.

    We may be in a huge mess here in the UK but one mistake this Govt has avoided has been NOT joining the Euro.

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  • 112. At 11:18pm on 04 Feb 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    WA;

    Do you think it's time for America to push the reset button again? At least that is what Hillary thought she said when she visited Russia after becoming Secretary of State. Evidently the translators gave her some bad advice and what she actually said came out very differently. Perhaps you could explain what she said means in Russian when properly translated and why it got them so angry :-)

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  • 113. At 11:20pm on 04 Feb 2010, busby2 wrote:

    I expect we will now see an appreciation of sterling against the Euro because of lack of confidence in the Euro.

    Busby

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  • 114. At 01:35am on 05 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    MA 112, it was "peregruzka" (over-load, take some weight off, presses down hard too much) written on the button, instead of what they intended to write, one would think, "perezagruzka" - an awkward computer word "re-load" synonym of your "reset" button.
    The translators simply missed one syllable "za" because were definitely old emigres from Russia not aware of how computer things are called in Russian. Because I think when they emigrated to the states - there were no computers yet in Russia, so they couldn't know.

    Thus instead of "reset" as a symbol of our new relations it became "overload". Fed up, not a gramm more.
    Sick and tired of, basically, of each other :o))))
    By Freud.

    Well, we gave credit to the humour of the situation, even if un-intentional, a correct observation. :o)))))

    In fact, Hillary (if she were Janukovich :o)))) could have corrected herself on the spot, by saying something like? - what I mean it is the symbol of our OLD relations, now, let's jointly throw away this button and ? find our new ones :o)))))
    (An olive branch is always a good sign :o)

    Bt there was no one by Hillary's side to hint, we would have hinted ourselves, but were busy laughing instead of thinking how to save the situation.

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  • 115. At 01:51am on 05 Feb 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    busby2

    I agree. In the short-term you should long sterling and short euro. In the medium to long term, you are probably better off doing the opposite...

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  • 116. At 02:07am on 05 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    MA, dial in youtube the name of the chap who placed it

    exSEVENremTHREE

    there will come out his videos, the sixth down from the top will be a cartoon about Hillary Clinton and Lavrov. Song of Hillary how to fix the button mis-hap.
    "Phone me, phone, the damn Russky, I finally want re-set - "perezagruzka"!

    "Phone, me, phone.
    For the sake of joint nuclear programme!
    For the sake of God - call me!
    For the sake of Barack Obama!"
    :o))))

    Sarkozy and Berlusconi simply fade away compared to you, my bear :o))))
    and ? tra-la la la la la
    Do not dare to meet anymore Merkel!"
    :o)))))

    You can also recognise it by 2.28 minutes duration, 21502 views, well the name Issue No2, Hillary Clinton yoo won't recognise, but ypu'll see a hall from above with blue EU carpet in those yellow stars in? wreaths? circles. And five figurines.

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  • 117. At 04:11am on 05 Feb 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    It's happening. The flight to the exit is starting. When the going gets tough, the tough get going...and the place they move their money to is the US dollar.

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Stocks-tumble-on-worries-apf-838755238.html?x=0&sec=topStories&pos=main&asset=&ccode=

    The market is racked with fear. Europe's economic woes triggered by Greece has started a process. As the link indicates, the price of comodities will rise in Euros because they are sold in dollars. The fall in European purchasing power will adversely affect its very fragile economies. More unemployment, higher fuel prices, higher prices for everything. And on top of that higher taxes for Greeks and for everyone who will pay for the bailout of Greece. That means you Nigel. And vous Jean Jacques. And Fritz makes three. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ys4gY7qKdQA

    Thanks for the link WA, I'll check it out

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  • 118. At 06:54am on 05 Feb 2010, sinemorus wrote:

    Greece is one of the poorest nations in the EU yet its military budget is one of the highest in the EU and NATO. Just checked and in the somewhat recent past, 1995, it was actually the highest in both organizations. http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a783128207~db=all

    They keep complaining about their border dispute with Turkey yet not much comes out in official EU docs about it. A 6bn military budget for an 11million population EU member state is a bit much.

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  • 119. At 08:44am on 05 Feb 2010, Menedemus wrote:

    Apparently the Far East Stock Markets suffered severe falls yesterday due to fears of the weakness of the Euro. Dealers expressed the fact that the Euro is now seen as a very weak currency due to the economic woes of Greece but the speculators are now moving onto Portugal where the apparent lack of interest in Portuguese Bonds has triggered global flight from the Euro to the Dollar with a fall in value of 4 cents for the Euro vs. the Dollar overnight.

    No amount of fine words from the EU or the ECB are going to save the Euro unless Germany steps in and states categorically that German economic strength will bolster the Euro whatever the stress caused for the currency by fears over Greek and Portuguese(and Spanish and Italian) economic troubles.

    The problem is that I am not certain that German citizens will be that keen on saving the Greeks from their self-inflicted economic crash because, ultimately, any German support for the Euro will impact on the prosperity of the Germans.

    That is a fundamental problem with the EU - each EU member nation is as different from the other nations as chalk and cheese and trying to rebrand everyone as "EU citizens" and create a "European Government" for all europeans is doomed to failure becuse, ultimately, europeans are tribal and the Nation States have not yet lost their appeal to the majority of europeans who previously viewed the EU as an economic benefit for their nations not as a future form of super government.

    The crash and failure of the Euro will undoubtedly prove that the EU is just a club of nation states and not the hoped-for panacea for all the differences and failings of the member states. Vive la difference!

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  • 120. At 08:48am on 05 Feb 2010, Menedemus wrote:

    Looking on the bright side.

    If the Euro crashes in value then Brits who live abroad can cash in their pensions paid GB Pounds and buy up Europe in a fire sale!

    Cheap property for sale in Cyprus, Spain or Italy sounds good to this Brit and his GB Pounds!

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  • 121. At 09:01am on 05 Feb 2010, Seraphim wrote:

    @ Marcus:

    "The market is racked with fear. Europe's economic woes triggered by Greece has started a process. As the link indicates, the price of comodities will rise in Euros because they are sold in dollars. The fall in European purchasing power will adversely affect its very fragile economies. More unemployment, higher fuel prices, higher prices for everything."

    I thought Americans are at least capable to see black AND white :-)
    You somehow forgot mentioning the strong upside a weaker Euro brings: EXPORTS. Some countries rely heavyly on being able to sell their products outisde the Euro area (Germany and France at very least, but I would assume that it is the same for Austria and the Netherlands / Belgium). The weaker the Euro is the more can be sold over sea and the better for the still not that stable economies.
    Ok so we pay a little more for fuel? Who cares most of the products of every day use like food are made within the Euro area and won't be affected. If this trend generates new jobs it is well worth it.

    By the way, I was expecting an reply to my last comment from at least one person here. I am almost beginning to think that I was right with what I wrote ^^

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  • 122. At 09:21am on 05 Feb 2010, Chris wrote:

    @121 - so now the Germans will thank the sneaky Greeks for making the Euro cheaper :))

    I thought that was part of the overall big strategy when the EU asked China to float its currency and the Chinese refused then Merkel, Sharkozy, etc. thought right, those guys don't play ball we need to do something about it! Ohh I know just the right people to fix our little problem. The Greeks, they are able to ruin everything, so Greeks to the rescue it is :))) and thus the Euro/Dollar/Chinese money thing are a bit more balanced now!

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  • 123. At 10:31am on 05 Feb 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    Suggesting that the Euro will fail is a bit ridiculous and, by some of you, wishful thinking. Again, the euro is doing right now just what it was supposed to do: Force the PIGS to get their houses in order.

    Once thats done, watch the euro soar due to a shift by China to euros and away from dollars and interest rates of up to 4-5% by 2015.

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  • 124. At 10:45am on 05 Feb 2010, Nik wrote:

    Re 110 :

    Webaliceinwonderland, the funny story with Ukrainian candidate Yanukovitch reminded Giorgos Papandreou... no not the current P.M. but his grandfather, also a P.M. - so you know why this country has had and still has no hope!

    He was on a tour in Thessalia (central Greece) visitin on a day two major cities, Larissa and Volos. He was at Volos but mistakenly when he started his speech he said "Citizens of Larissa....". People were shocked, but still forgave this error and cheered for him. He again and again made the mistake during the speech and people cheered less and less, consultants next to him told him "For God's shake president, we are at Volos!" (note that there is a good-old antagonism between Volos and Larissa so this was quite offending to people!). And then at some point, he pauses and says... "Citizens of Larissa.... you really should be here tonight to feel the pulse and energy of the citizens of Volos - ... and people re-started cheering like crazy... Hehe...

    Funny but really is revealing how Greek politics go. With slogans, with motto's, fooling the people, and making people's business a fooling game (i.e. a Greek's idea of success gradually became the "fooling others and get money"). I am not kidding on this: it is a whole atmosphere that Greek politians (and especially the socialist party in governement) worked consistently to imbed in the culture but also in the business. There are 1000s of paradigms where Greek politians worked really hard to
    de-legitimise Greek business, kick out foreign investors, ridicule EU decisions etc. etc.

    And this has passed on to every level of society. Everyone tries to fool the other, money can be mainly made via the good old corruption method. Say to people you pay all your tax and people will think that 1) either you are a public/private servant with a fixed salary 2) you are a fantastically naif person, the perfect victim

    I am really really not any conspirationologist, but it is more than well known that Greece is out of favour of the US (which consistently fights in every way the vast majority of Greek interests - not to mention the US backs-up every claim threatening the national integrity of the country!)...really if you analyse the root cause of all that you will easily find out that it can be rooted to the ancient decisions of Britain (in WWII) and later US ones according to which, Greece was planned to remain a weak Balkan country with no hope of development. I only need to mention the Papandreou family: 3 generations of P.M. and party leaders - guess what - they had come in 1945 from Egypt with the British army (no wonder!). But it is not only them! The vast majority of Greek political leaders be them democratic or dictars, right wing or socialists, rose to power via the usual British/US networks. Even the communist party rose in prominence in the WWII with... ample British support (back then British worked hard to cause the civil war so that they control better the country).

    Going back to Odessa - people of Ukraine can understand well the above: they have seen how George Soros financed the Orange revolution and what were the results: worse economy, worse relations with Russia, energy provision problems, Russia now by-passing Ukraine with new projects (instead of Ukraine striving to be the main collaborator of Russia in the energy transfer to Europe) - what good did the Ukrainians see with the rise of a US-backed president? Well, imagine all that 10 times worse and applied for more than 60 years in a much smaller country, Greece. No chance!

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  • 125. At 11:22am on 05 Feb 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    Gheryando wrote:
    "Suggesting that the Euro will fail is a bit ridiculous and, by some of you, wishful thinking. Again, the euro is doing right now just what it was supposed to do: Force the PIGS to get their houses in order. "

    Is that was has happened? Or is that was is now going to happen?

    You see, cherryando, "what it was supposed to do" implies the past tense. It speaks to what ought to have happened already.

    And so making predictions about what is going to happen in the future, based upon what was supposed to have happened but did not, is a curious way of employing reason.

    Let me give some examples of the same thinking, so that you can be sure of your decision to adopt the style of thinking:

    "Jukka did not study hard enough to enter law school after school. Jukka should have studied harder in school, and so now he will enter law school."

    "Marcus did not purchase the authentic confederate flag from Great Southern fire sale. Marcus should have purchased the confederate flag, and so now he can look at it hanging above the pearl handled pistols in his den."

    "Alice failed to learn French at school. Alice should have learned French, and so now she can apply for a leading role, doing nothing at all, in the United Nations in Geneva."

    You my notice that the common thread in all these hypotheticals is that folks are achieving what they didn't do.

    This ability to not achieve something and yet to take the credit for achieving it are curious characteristics of the EU. So far it has happened with startling regularity across a wide variety of fields.

    Human rights is a good example. The EU had none in its laws, and declared it had no mandate for them. It refused to acknowledge the law of the ECHR. But suddenly, after being told that it could not make legal precedent in Europe with no reference to human rights, BINGO! All of sudden, the EU had great respect for human rights and indeed human rights were part of the fabric of the EU.

    And now we see the same ability to turn black into white. The EU has had control of the eurozone for how long now? Decades.

    And yet the economies are not thriving, and not being properly managed.

    So what does that say about the EU? That it has failed?

    I think the answer can only be "yes, it failed". The idea that all these states could improve their economic situation by sharing a currency and giving control of import duties to a common authority has FAILED. Clearly, other factors determine the economic prosperity of a nation.

    Now the way the situation is headed, the answer to greece's woes is to hand more authority over to europe. Specifically, to allow german and french "experts" to determine how Greece shall be managed.

    The thinking is that the EU is a wonderful success when managed by french and german experts, and so the answer is to give brussels greater power.

    Despite the fact that we have seen this sort of thinking before, around 1941, let us hold our horses just a moment on other grounds.

    Firstly, is it lawful to hand the rule of greece over to people from france and germany who have no mandate from the greek people?

    Secondly, to what extent does the EU facilitate the exploitation of smaller member state economies by france and germany?

    To answer the first question, that is a matter of personal preference. If you like colonization and rule by foreign aristocrats, there is nothing wrong with the situation.

    To answer the second question requires more care.

    Myself, am deeply, deeply skeptical of the way the E has functioned. I have seen, in the baltic states, evidence that the EU has been used as a predatory and hugely harmful mechanism to earn money for french and western companies at the direct and lasting expense of the baltic people. On this blog, we have evidence of greeks who say the same things.

    France and Germany have issued loans to other member states, but the money from the lans has gone straight back into the french and german economies. Why? Because the work created by the loans has been given t french and german companies. All the money from the loans has gone to german and french workers, and to factories making german and french goods. But the interest payments on the money, and the money itself, must be paid back by people in the baltic states. And from the greeks.

    And that, not surprisingly, makes great profits for banks that are located..... guess where? Not in Greece and the baltic states.

    So there is a large question mark about the real purpose of the EU. If you believe that it was set up to cure Europes economic problems, as a grand philanthropic gesture, then at least have the decency to pause in our rapture and admit it has failed. For the time being.

    But if you prefer to believe that the EU was set up by french and German elites in order to make a fantastic amount of money for those elites.... there is a mounting body of evidence to suggest you are correct.

    The EU, like any man made political structure, serves as a mechanism for moving wealth from one section of a society to another.

    Have a look at where the money has moved within the EU, and then have a look at who set up this wonderful edifice.

    It is a remarkable thing, is it not, when a grand philanthropist fails to achieve his aims, and yet makes a fantastic amount of money?

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  • 126. At 11:49am on 05 Feb 2010, Nik wrote:

    Changing issue - for all those people that found the case of Greece to attack yet once more the E.U. I have to note 2-3 points.

    E.U. or no E.U. countries are bound to pass financial issues. There are both + and - in both cases and there are remedies for a bad economy either you are into the eurozone or out. I guess if the likes of Britain or Danemark pass a much more severe recession than the actual they might as well reconsider their stance in the euro.

    We have to understand that the E.U. - no matter its chronic illnesses has 1 main interest: to protect the long-term interests of Europeans. For good or for bad, the whole of Europe from Spain and France to Ukraine (I'll leave out Russia) is smaller than China and if I count only the E.U. countries then it is just a cornershop. What can do countries alone? Even a country like France. It has 60 million people, when Uttar Pradesh - just one federal state of India has 160 million. Even a less powerful country like Indonesia has 250 million people. The potential currently is simply "out of Europe". Till now, Europe enjoyed the benefit of having been the world's steam engine for historic reasons and thanks to initiating the industrial revolution. During the cold war it was the main partner of the 1 superpower, its brainchild, the US. This case is no more. The world is different today. Chinese, Indians, Brazilians are here to rise, let alone Russians re-connecting to the world. Europe has no more direct colonial links to the world and thus its overinflated economies have no direct access to ressources. Ressources in Europe are nowadays minimal. The ally US is struggling to control things around and it mainly does that by no hesitating to downgrade Europe too - frankly it will have no inhibitions as to drop out the case of several European countries if it is in its interests to do so. Europe remains vulnerable from all rounds. Apart from the case of Britain that naturally thinks anchoring it to the US will make it more immune to the worlds' pressures, the likes of even powerful countries like France and Germany (together, an imposing financial block) are surprisingly vulnerable and not capable of ressourcing alone (without the consultation of the EU) their own energy needs. European countries alone are destined to become mere colonies. If in the last 60 years US interfered directly, in future, if they go on alone they will be mere colonies. And 100% consumable and disposable...

    That is the whole idea behind the EU. European countries sharing common interests working to form a block so as to maintain their voice in the world. The problem is that they started rather from the end (finance, social issues, human rights, ecology etc.) which are trivialities in front of the main issue: FOREIGN POLICY & DEFENSE. To understand this better you only have to see where is US reacting more? Does it react in Europe trying to pass some law on social issues? Or on cows and sheeps? But speak of Europe approaching Russia, speak of project Galileo (the E.U. GPS), speak of Euro-defense and the US will be around to set its objections. 100% natural of course but that is what it is all about, what can we do?

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  • 127. At 12:38pm on 05 Feb 2010, Jean Luc wrote:

    @125 democracythreat

    Re "And now we see the same ability to turn black into white. The EU has had control of the eurozone for how long now? Decades.

    And yet the economies are not thriving, and not being properly managed."

    Economic analysis has clearly shown the benefits of economic integration (of which the EU is an example).

    So why don't you come up with rival theories and research that undermine ruling theory of economic integration instead of simply postulating stuff?

    On a sidenote: the EU (EEC) was never conceived as an absolute guarantee against economic recession. So don't apply that standard to analyse the EU. It's called intellectual honesty ;)

    Re "So what does that say about the EU? That it has failed?

    I think the answer can only be "yes, it failed". The idea that all these states could improve their economic situation by sharing a currency and giving control of import duties to a common authority has FAILED. Clearly, other factors determine the economic prosperity of a nation."

    Basic economy classes: the benefits of integration. (There is indeed more discussion on the pro's and con's of a single currency areas as certain conditions need to be fulfilled to unlock all benefits and avoid negative risks).

    In a historic frame: why did the UK leave her own organization EFTA (no custums union) and begged to join the EEC (customs union)? Because a customs union fails? Don't think so :)

    Re "Firstly, is it lawful to hand the rule of greece over to people from france and germany who have no mandate from the greek people?

    Secondly, to what extent does the EU facilitate the exploitation of smaller member state economies by france and germany?

    To answer the first question, that is a matter of personal preference. If you like colonization and rule by foreign aristocrats, there is nothing wrong with the situation.

    To answer the second question requires more care."

    The question if something is lawful is never a question of personal preference. Read a book on law before writing such nonsense.

    On topic: funny you should use 'colonization', because as far as I can remember from history classes, the people that were colonized never really asked to be colonized (unlike the greeks asking for EC membership), the people that were colonized never gave their assent (unlike the greeks, since they ratified multiple EC/EU trraties), the people that got colonized never had a say in the political process (unlike the greeks who have representatives in the EP, Comitee of the regions, social and economic comitee, Council, European COuncil and a Commissioner) and people that were colonized didn't have the opt out possibility (which does exist in the EU).

    Re "Have a look at where the money has moved within the EU, and then have a look at who set up this wonderful edifice."

    And have a look at all those countries that came asking to become member. Some of them begged to become a member, like the UK. Others imposed themselves, like the Eastern memberstates: quasi forcing the old member states to let them join (although they latter weren't too eager) because of moral obligation on their part.

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  • 128. At 12:45pm on 05 Feb 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    Nik wrote:

    "That is the whole idea behind the EU. European countries sharing common interests working to form a block so as to maintain their voice in the world."

    But Nik, don't you see that this is the entire problem? The interest is not common. It is paid by the smaller states, and to the banks in the larger states. Not just the interest, but the capital as well.

    With respect, your world view is based on the idea that nations compete against each other for prestige, and the winners get a candy bar from the creator, and everyone in the winning country is suddenly made rich and scientifically advanced.

    The only way the world can look this way is if you view history only from the point of view of military conquest, and only if you speed up the passage of time to make history seem like one military conquest after another, in rapid succession. Only then does history look like the olympics of war, where the strongest military powers are rewarded for conquest.

    The mundane reality of history is that economic might grows according to political and intellectual ideas being put into practice within peaceful societies. War is not the process by which prizes are won, but rather the interruptions to the process that highlight the progressions made since the last war. I say war "highlight" progress because most students of history are really just interested in war. So they only look at wars, because that is where the exciting things happen. Heros are said to kill evil men, and explosions are everywhere. Fair maidens are saved from death, great fortunes are made (stolen). The study of war as history is essentially the study of Hollywood as reality. It is exciting, but it is also fantasy.

    You cite an excellent example of the fantasy when you mention China and India. Both are examples of nations which have been brought out of abject poverty and misery for their inhabitants due to peacetime innovations from foreign lands. Now you claim that these nations are bound to rise, but that presumes a great deal about how these nations became what they are.

    China and India are big, in terms of their populations, but they were big BEFORE they started using the technology of the west to improve their societies. So why were they vulnerable and stricken with poverty BEFORE they started using western technology?

    Was it because the evil west colonized them and exploited them? Or was it because they had stagnated under despotic political systems, and simply remained as they had been for centuries, churning away at pre industrial levels of human thought and organization?

    The popular view is that the evil west exploited these nations and made them poor and backwards. Like hollywood, this gives us the battle between good and evil, and more usefully still it allows national pride to be inflamed.

    But logic would hint that the west had nothing to do with the poverty of India and China. After all, India and China had been stagnant and desperately poor and backward for more than a thousand years. For most of that time, the west was in even worse condition, and in any case it was far, far away.

    And this is why I suggest that the desire to "have a voice in the world" is not only nationalism gone mad, but that it is also profoundly self defeating.

    China and India have had a huge voice in the world, for centuries. Everybody knows about china and india. Everybody knows they are hideously overpopulated and desperately poor. The voices of those nations has been crying out this message for centuries.

    Just so, America has a profound voice in the world. It is loud and clear. It says that America has a huge number of machines and a system of advanced political organization and law, and that despite the grave ignorance of its people on the subject of the rest of the world, it has a highly advanced education system.

    And along the same lines, Europe also has a profound voice in the world. Everybody can see and hear Europe's voice.

    The question, Nik, is not whether people can hear the voice. It is what the voice is saying.

    Just now the voice of Europe is that the people there are mostly trying yet another experiment in highly centralized rule by elites. And that this is reasonably unpopular, and not exceptionally productive. Just as in the past, the rule by elites favours elites, and they are preying upon the lower classes in more or less the same way as they have always done.

    In other words, the voice coming out of Europe is saying more or less the same thing as the voice out of china. Nothing new, just a new variation on the same old song.

    It is the song which must change if nations are to change. If a nation wants to be fundamentally changed, it must reconstruct the political systems which govern its law, and it must change the constitution which enshrines those political systems. In order to that, it needs to have a culture where new ideas are fostered, and where the greed of elites does not occupy every waking moment of every able bodied person.

    Thus it seems to me that "having a voice in the world" is a totally redundant and self defeating ambition. It is like having the ambition to make a grunt and a snarl. More important is what a nation will say to the world, and the trick here is that a nation says to the world what the people of the nation say to each other.

    Until the shouting of elites can be toned down, a nation cannot really speak to itself, and ordinary people cannot be heard speaking to each other. that would suggest we need to move away from highly centralized governments, and towards systems of localized rule, where ordinary people can make ordinary ecisions about how they ought to live.

    There will not be as many explosions, and grand conquests of good over evil may not be on offer, but on reflection it is the adult and responsible human beings who have cared for the children in history, and not the other way around.

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  • 129. At 12:56pm on 05 Feb 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Sara Phlegm;

    Markets are funny things. They don't respond rationally. They sometimes shrug off good news, sometimes they jump through hoops on the slightest twitch. That is why they are so unpredictable. There's more psychology about markets than economics. You'd think if a company's income goes down 5% its stock would go down by 5% but it could be 60%. It's a sobering thought that indexed funds such as those hitched to the S&P 500 outperform 2/3 of all funds managed by professional money managers. What does that tell you about the real ability of those highly paid people who are supposed to "Know" what the market will do and are responsible for managing hundred of millions or even billions of other people's money?

    I just heard an interesting report on NPR this morning. It is expected that by the middle of this year, one half of all home mortgages in the US will be in trouble. Banks normally wait 3 months of nonpayment before starting foreclosure procedures but now there's talk it will be 6 months, a year, or not at all. The banks don't want any more houses. What this means is that it doesn't matter how cheap your labor is as reflected in the prices of your exports if there is nobody with money to buy them. And the US is by far the world's single largest importer so when its economy falters, the entire world feels the impact. 2/3 of the US's 14 trillion dollar economy is driven by consumer spending.

    Yes the Euro could drop like a rock in a pond. In a week it could be in ashes. Or it might flounder around for a long while. It all depends on how quickly confidence in it falls. Frankly I'm surprised it lasted this long. I'll be there will be a lot of frantic calls between Brussels and Berlin this weekend. How far will the Germans go in what could become a game of chicken. Would Germans cut off their noses to spite their faces? But if they bail out Greece, what happens when the other three little pigs have their turn on the spit?

    The good news for me is that when the Euro does collapse, my unofficial European cheese index will fall sharply too. This is my comparison of two high quality sources of protein in my local supermarket, American Angus Porterhouse steak and Premium European cheeses like Roquefort and Stilton. In the last few years it's been running about 4 to 1! Obviously I haven't been buying much imported cheese. A sharp drop could be an excellent opportunity to buy some Stilton and try some of those '83 and '85 Graham Ports sitting in my cellar. The '94s are still much too young. However, right now I'm more curious about some of the Dutch cheeses my local market is now carrying. I enjoy them every time I sail on Holland America Lines. It's been awhile.

    There is significant dispute over whether or not much of Britain's deficit is structural as opposed to cyclical. Gordon Brown had a very interesting exchange with other ministers in Britain which can be seen on C-SPAN 2. If it is structural as most "experts" except Brown himself contend, it is ominous news for the UK's future.

    Thank's for the Youtube link WA. I enjoyed it even though I didn't understand one word of it.

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  • 130. At 1:01pm on 05 Feb 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    Jean Luc wrote:
    "Economic analysis has clearly shown the benefits of economic integration (of which the EU is an example).

    So why don't you come up with rival theories and research that undermine ruling theory of economic integration instead of simply postulating stuff?"

    Because I prefer evidence to theory, Jean luc. In particular, I have seen strong evidence that the theory of economic integration does not lead to mutual benefits. If you want historical examples, so that we do not argue over what is the reality in Europe right now, the native American indians did not benefit from integration with European settlers. Now you will say that this is because the integration was not even, and it favoured one side over the other. And that would be precisely my point about the EU.

    Jean luc, your tone is incredibly condescending. I am struck by the resolute faith you have in your pet economic theory. You seem, if you forgive the comparison, to possess the certainty and aggressive vigor of a medieval priest of the catholic church.

    I am frankly amused that the aristocracy of Europe has replaced its pet priests with pet economists, and yet they serve an interchangeable purpose: to convince the masses to believe in something they cannot see, despite the evidence around them.

    Jean luc also wrote:

    "The question if something is lawful is never a question of personal preference. Read a book on law before writing such nonsense."

    A book on law, Jean luc? Which one shall I read? which book holds the essential truth about law, oh wise man?

    What is the theory of law, Jean luc? Better still, what are the economics of law?

    My own view is that whether something is a matter of law is nearly always a matter of personal preference. Call me jaded by the experience of judges hiding behind verbiage. Now when we are discussing the question of international law within Europe..... well it seems that a person can have any opinion they want. None of it matters, unless you are a judge in the ECJ. And even then, you are still just a person.

    Now if national legislature still made the law in Europe, then I would say they are the source of law. If the people were sovereign and voted on the laws of Europe, I would say they made the law.

    But as europe is ruled by judge made law, and by the laws dreamed up by members of the commission, I would say the law of europe is a matter of personal preference. Only for the right sort of people, of course. But still, nevertheless, a matter of personal preference.

    Jean luc continued:
    "On topic: funny you should use 'colonization', because as far as I can remember from history classes, the people that were colonized never really asked to be colonized... "

    I have to cut you off there, because you go on to claim that the people of Europe not only agreed to become part of the EU, but that they asked for it.

    I will let others deal with that heresy.

    Oh, I forgot! In the new Europe, it is the economists who declare what is heresy and what is ordained as truth.

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  • 131. At 1:30pm on 05 Feb 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    DemocThreat

    Re #130 and "..JL, your tone is incredibly condescending.."

    Get used to it mate!

    A number of contributors have pointed this out over time and his various pseudonymns, but to no avail.

    At least half a dozen of us have at some stage been informed that our view/opinion/perspective/idea is "..nonsense.." etc. because it does not concur with those of the master.

    Apparently there should be no end to our gratitude for JL's intellectually superior comments.

    You and I have locked horns on several occasions but always from the stem of differing standpoints as to what has gone/is going on in the World at large. There is generally on here an understanding that we all contribute to a general debate with no claim to supreme authoritativeness: Of course, we need not not have bothered and in all instances simply have deferred to JL.

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  • 132. At 1:48pm on 05 Feb 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    dt, it's a cultural thing with jean luc. The French are born to theorize. That is why they have so many famous mathematicians, logicians, philosophers, and whatnot. They will find what to them is a rational explanation to justify almost anything no matter how trite or convoluted that explanation is. That's how they convince themselves it's okay to do whatever they want.

    I think...therefore I drink. Come to think of it, based on what the French wine industry has been saying lately they haven't been doing all that much drinking have they? Does that mean they haven't done a whole lot of thinking? Now there's a frightening thought, 50 million sober Frenchmen (and Frenchwomen.) Can they suddenly be right? Nah, it isn't in their blood.

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  • 133. At 1:54pm on 05 Feb 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Nik

    Re #126

    "..EU has 1 main interest: To protect the longterm interest of Europeans.."

    If you can provide even a smidgeon of evidence that that was/is the gaol of the European Union, please do so.

    Do not attempt to suggest the recent Charter of Fundamental Human Rights is an example when virtually every one of the EU27 already have Laws and Regulations relating to every part of that Charter on their National Statute books. It is amazing to see the EU trumpeting this CFHR as if it has invented such 'rights' and 'responsibilities' when most have existed (at least in 'west' Europe; such things were in Soviet dominated 'east' European constitutions, but seldom adhered to) and been acted upon in every Member Nation over the decades post-WW2. It is part of the incredible duplicity of the EU to claim at the end of 2009 such a Charter is a 'great step forward' when it merely repeats basic Law of the civilised world.

    In the meantime I and an increasing number of alleged 'EU Citizens' will continue to watch with anger and frustration the development of a supra-National entity almost exclusively designed and operated for the benefit of 'big-Business/big-Government'.
    Across Europe, the EU is a threat to the individual Citizen's Rights and Responsibilities at every level of life: Political-Social-Cultural-Police-Judicial-Military-Foreign Affairs the EU serves as a corrupt, venal, anti-democratic organisation.

    This is not alarmist or xenophobic: It is quite easy to arrive at this conclusion because the EU has failed to attain a Democratic Mandate from a Majority of Citizen Voters among the 450+ million Citizens since 1992 (Maastricht Treaty).
    Therefore none of its policies, initiatives, legislation from that time has had 'political' legitimacy. As the finger-in-pie EU27 Governments continue to evolve ever closer ties among themselves at the behest of and very largely paid for by Business there is no doubt the divide between them and the Electorate is growing all the time. The EU has no Right to assert authority and power over millions upon millions of People who have never expressed an iota of support for its present form.

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  • 134. At 2:07pm on 05 Feb 2010, Jean Luc wrote:

    @democracythreat

    Re "Because I prefer evidence to theory, Jean luc. In particular, I have seen strong evidence that the theory of economic integration does not lead to mutual benefits. If you want historical examples, so that we do not argue over what is the reality in Europe right now, the native American indians did not benefit from integration with European settlers. Now you will say that this is because the integration was not even, and it favoured one side over the other. And that would be precisely my point about the EU"

    I am talking about economic analysis, including research. Not just theory.

    And your 'historic example' isn't even an example of integration. You might first want to get an idea of what economic integration actually means.

    Re "I am frankly amused that the aristocracy of Europe has replaced its pet priests with pet economists, and yet they serve an interchangeable purpose: to convince the masses to believe in something they cannot see, despite the evidence around them."

    Enoug economic data to show economic benefits of economic integration. Whether you can see that or not.

    Re "A book on law, Jean luc? Which one shall I read? which book holds the essential truth about law, oh wise man?

    What is the theory of law, Jean luc? Better still, what are the economics of law?

    My own view is that whether something is a matter of law is nearly always a matter of personal preference. Call me jaded by the experience of judges hiding behind verbiage. Now when we are discussing the question of international law within Europe..... well it seems that a person can have any opinion they want. None of it matters, unless you are a judge in the ECJ. And even then, you are still just a person.

    Now if national legislature still made the law in Europe, then I would say they are the source of law. If the people were sovereign and voted on the laws of Europe, I would say they made the law.

    But as europe is ruled by judge made law, and by the laws dreamed up by members of the commission, I would say the law of europe is a matter of personal preference. Only for the right sort of people, of course. But still, nevertheless, a matter of personal preference."

    Any introductory book on law would do my friend. It would teach you the idea of "l'etat de droit/Rechtsstaat": the law is neutral and applies objectively. Of course this is a fiction to a certain degree, but it's these kinds of fictions that our societies are build on (another one is the equality of men).

    And the EU might have 'activist' judges, but concluding that EU law is judge made is a gross overimplification.

    Finally, the Commission doesn't have lawmaking powers. Get your facts straigth.

    Re "I have to cut you off there, because you go on to claim that the people of Europe not only agreed to become part of the EU, but that they asked for it."

    Obviously the people asked to become member (although one could argue on this for the original six EcSC countries). The people asked it through their legitimate representatives (their parliament and ultimately their government), if they didn't agree they should have complained to their national institutions, therefore this would be an internal matter and the EU would have no right to intervene. Apart from that, a large part of member states even held a referendum on membership: Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Estonia, Malta, Czech republic, Latvia, Lithuania. So did those people consent or not?

    Re "Oh, I forgot! In the new Europe, it is the economists who declare what is heresy and what is ordained as truth."

    Have to disagree there. Although anyone that followed a basic economy course would see the shortcomings in your 'economic' argument.

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  • 135. At 2:34pm on 05 Feb 2010, Seraphim wrote:

    @ Marcus:

    So you will buy more European Cheese :-) EXPORTS ^^

    Seriously if I understood it right than the system was altered lately to a point at which American banks print enormous amount of new dollars. Those dollars are one way or another given to the American people. Those Americans buy the stuff they think they need (parts of it from abroad such as Europe, others from China). Europeans themselves fancy some cheap things from China as well and buy them. So in the end China sits on a huge mountain of dollar bills, while American printing industry is booming.

    Since the Chinese have fixed the exchange rate from their yuan to the dollar they have no choice to collect more and more dollars, which actually seems to even prevent a severe inflation within the US that could have been expected to follow this flooding of the market with fresh money.

    As long as China is not capable of stoping this process at any point (or willing to do it - if they did it would not only have a heavy impact on the US market but on the Chinese too) and as long as Mr. Geithner allows to print more and more money, this process is unliekyl to stop.

    However in this weird game Europeans have little influence. One thing that matters though for us is that if the Euro falls towards the dollar then a fancy Porsche costs 10.000$ less and American customers are more likely to buy one instead of buying a Viper which is fix in the costs as the majority of the parts come from either America or China with a set exchange rate.

    The thing Mr. Obama and Mr. Geithner need to do is to spreed the money they waste evenly among the American citizens so that they won't start rioting against the status quo.

    I don't think we need to discuss wheather or not this system can work for a long time - it won't. Nevertheless, it works for now.

    I don't think we should bail out the Greeks. On the one hand it is not fair towards the people in the other european countries to pay for it but even more importantly, if the EU doesn't show that they are not willing to spend any money on countries with corrupt systems then it will only be a matter of time until Spain Ireland and Sportugal will follow to beg for money.

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  • 136. At 2:57pm on 05 Feb 2010, Jean Luc wrote:

    @CBW

    "A number of contributors have pointed this out over time and his various pseudonymns, but to no avail."

    Various pseudonymns lol. One namechange under the same account. Not like ikmaskeip...

    Re "Apparently there should be no end to our gratitude for JL's intellectually superior comments."

    Nice how you aptly spread your very coloured representation, thereby trying to influence the debate through arguments relating to form and not substance. Might I suggest a political carreer in a populist party?

    Re "There is generally on here an understanding that we all contribute to a general debate with no claim to supreme authoritativeness: Of course, we need not not have bothered and in all instances simply have deferred to JL"

    Let me repeat myself for the 100th time: I don't care if you disagree with me or not, but if you wish to share your opinion with the rest of the world on the internet, please substantiate your opinion with facts, evidence, whatever instead of hearsay, emotional claims, etc.

    Re "If you can provide even a smidgeon of evidence that that was/is the gaol of the European Union, please do so."

    Well the gaol to prevent war between France and Germany, wars that in the past had ruined almost the entire continent and not only those two countries, might be an objective might be considered a 'long term interest for europeans'.

    Re "Do not attempt to suggest the recent Charter of Fundamental Human Rights is an example when virtually every one of the EU27 already have Laws and Regulations relating to every part of that Charter on their National Statute books. It is amazing to see the EU trumpeting this CFHR as if it has invented such 'rights' and 'responsibilities' when most have existed (at least in 'west' Europe; such things were in Soviet dominated 'east' European constitutions, but seldom adhered to) and been acted upon in every Member Nation over the decades post-WW2. It is part of the incredible duplicity of the EU to claim at the end of 2009 such a Charter is a 'great step forward' when it merely repeats basic Law of the civilised world."

    The CFHR doesn't apply to internal situations, only to EU (institutions) and member states when they implement EU law.

    Re "the EU is a threat to the individual Citizen's Rights and Responsibilities at every level of life: Political-Social-Cultural-Police-Judicial-Military-Foreign Affairs the EU serves as a corrupt, venal, anti-democratic organisation."

    It doens't get any truer by endlesly repeating it you know ;)

    Re "This is not alarmist or xenophobic: It is quite easy to arrive at this conclusion because the EU has failed to attain a Democratic Mandate from a Majority of Citizen Voters among the 450+ million Citizens since 1992 (Maastricht Treaty)."

    I asked you several times already and each time you refused to answer. Let me try again (sorry if I am asserting a supposed intellectual superiority by asking an answer to my question in a debate): the EU is antidemocratic because the EP's (a single EU institution) fail to achieve a voter turnout of 50%.

    Does this mean that when the turnout rises to 50% the EU all of a sudden becomes democratic (again)? Any institution achieving voter turnout of 49.9% is undemocratic but a 0.1% more rsults in a democratic institution?

    Re "Therefore none of its policies, initiatives, legislation from that time has had 'political' legitimacy. As the finger-in-pie EU27 Governments continue to evolve ever closer ties among themselves at the behest of and very largely paid for by Business there is no doubt the divide between them and the Electorate is growing all the time. The EU has no Right to assert authority and power over millions upon millions of People who have never expressed an iota of support for its present form."

    I'll keep repeating it as long as you keep ignoring this remark: There is no rule or precedent or consensus that makes that laws/regulations/etc passed by an institution failing to get 50% voter turnout at election are illegitimate. So where do you get this idea from? Did you fabricate it you yourself to have an argument against the EU?


    @MARCUS AURELIUS
    Re "dt, it's a cultural thing with jean luc. The French are born to theorize. That is why they have so many famous mathematicians, logicians, philosophers, and whatnot. They will find what to them is a rational explanation to justify almost anything no matter how trite or convoluted that explanation is. That's how they convince themselves it's okay to do whatever they want."

    Ouch. Pity I am not French at all than, right?

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  • 137. At 3:31pm on 05 Feb 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Sarah Phlegm, you seem to have a good grasp of the situation and China's plight. We have a saying here, if you owe the bank a million dollars you're in trouble. If you owe the bank a billion dollars, the bank is in trouble. And in this case if you owe the bank a trillion dollars and can print as many of them as you want to, the bank is paralyzed. If the bank (China) balks and tries to dump your loan or in any way adversely impact the worth of your currency, their trillion dollar debt degrades in value too. What is more, China's domestic economy is largely dependent on exports to the US. If those were impacted in any really adverse way, social chaos could ensue in China. China is getting a lesson in what I call "Americanomics."

    The printing of money by the US Treasury to get out of recession is hardly new. They've been doing that since the great depression. How do you think it really ended? By printing money to pay for war bonds that financed WWII, money it had to borrow from Americans during the war because it didn't have enough. The result was inflation after the war.

    Yes, when those Dutch cheeses come down to about 5 or 6 dollars a pound and Stilton gets down to about 9 or 10 I might just start eating it again. Domestic prices of pork seem to have fallen. Cryo-packs of 3 racks of baby back ribs have fallen to $3 a pound at Costco and BJs. Where will I ever find room in my freezer? No, I don't expect to be buying French cheeses again. They don't go with freedom fries :-)

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  • 138. At 3:45pm on 05 Feb 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Jean Luc...you're not French, therefore you're not. At least that is what the French would say. I think in France it is a felony to impersonate a Frenchman. :-)

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  • 139. At 4:32pm on 05 Feb 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    JL

    Re #136 and others' opinion of your contributions!

    We've been here and done all this!

    You are still trying to assert that you have the right to decide how we 'debate' and that you alone are using the relevant facts.

    That is an unfair allegation against myself and others: I constantly point to factors that lead to my 'anti-EU' stance. That you remain disatisfied is just your tough luck. Last time any of us checked You did not set the agenda, rules or anything else concerning these Blog debates.


    Until you have learned a touch of humility I suspect every now and then a contributor will find your tone (e.g. "..if you wish to share your opinion.." : Does it still never occur to you that is all you are doing!?) and reference to what constitutes grounds for debate altogether unreasonable.

    Re my "..smidgeon.." remark: Granted that was a trifle on the harsh side toward the EU. However, I have frequently acknowledged the contribution made by the closer ties brought about by the Rome Treaty and the EEC to a more peaceful Europe: Nevertheless, there are significant other factors, not least the Marshall Plan stabilising 'west' Europe's post-WW2 economies, NATO in situ, the pressure of Cold War, retreat from colonialism.. all played their part.

    My "..very coloured representation.." as you so colourfully put it is every bit as accurate as your dogma of the EU documentation not being a method to undermine individual Citizen's Rights and Responsibilities.
    It "doesn't get any truer" you know just because you keep claiming the ECJ and Commission are a benign influence!

    My 'version' of facts (part 1): Less than 50% Voter turnout at the last 3 elections denies the EU a Mandate - - it is not for me to verify how Citizens decide 'political legitimacy' - - that 'Majority' Voter Participation is in my opinion not high enough for a supra-National body aiming to replace National Parliament's authority and power.
    Neither is there a 'rule' nor 'fabrication' by me - - it is an entirely legitimate point of view - - that you do not agree does not make it wrong only differing from your viewpoint.

    To put another way: Tell us how low the Voter Turnout must be before the Elections & Results are no longer viable?
    In short, I am asking your 'opinion' (do you get it now?) as to which of 25, 35, 45, 55, 65 per cent etc. relates in your mind to a 'mandate'?

    My 'version' of facts (part 2): Everything that I wrote about the CFHR is accurate - - so what if it applies outside the EU - - I was directly addressing the issue of EU validity to the 27 Members (& you know it). The CFHR is a worthy document, but the value placed in it by 'pro-EU' is ridiculous: I say again, virtually every part of it already existed in some form or other at National levels and indeed in other International Charters.
    So why the fuss?
    Answer: Because Brussels wants Citizens to believe it has come up with a new set of HR principles that are an advance on previous Rights & Responsibilities when in fact their Governments already had them in place.

    'Version' of facts (part 3): "...it doesn't get any truer by endlessly repeating it.."! What doesn't JL?
    There is a supra-National Organisation called the EU claiming to have the right and authority to make Law for 450,000,000+ Citizens. However, that EU cannot point to any significant Citizen support for such measures, especially in areas such as Finance, Defence, Judiciary-Policing, Foreign Affairs (you only have to look at the background that generated this Article, the 2 on Greece, those on EU posts since Lisbon, to see it) etc.
    There is no concensus about EU policies even amongst the Governments never mind the general Public the EU has ignored since the 'constitution' referendum debacle.
    The EU is undermining National sovereignty and with that is removing Citizens' access to affecting the Governance of their Nations. That is in my opinion the EU acting in an 'anti-democratic' manner. Alongside those policies, whilst unable to produce "..one iota.." of credible Public support the EU is imposing pan-National Law & Regulation in every aspect of life concerning Society. That is in my opinion 'corrupt' Govenment.

    Now for my "..emotive.." contribution (the bits you so enjoy!):
    Some of those Laws & Regulations are surely quite reasonable, however, for so long as the EU fails to take into account Public sentiment on these matters it is heading for rejection at best and disaster at worst!

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  • 140. At 5:44pm on 05 Feb 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    dt -

    thanks for ur lesson in English. If you had made the slightest effort, you would have correctly interpreted my statement nevertheless.

    cbw & dt

    I dont find JL to be condescending. I find expressions like "pet economic theory" much more condescending. JL obviously studied economics. Others obviously didn't. He correctly referred to the benefits of international trade and the requirements of an OCA (see Robert Mundell).

    If you don't understand him, its not his fault.

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  • 141. At 6:12pm on 05 Feb 2010, Jean Luc wrote:

    @CBW

    Re "Nevertheless, there are significant other factors, not least the Marshall Plan stabilising 'west' Europe's post-WW2 economies, NATO in situ, the pressure of Cold War, retreat from colonialism.. all played their part."

    Well, Nato wasn't established to prevent France-German wars, neither was colonialism a major factor in franco-german rivalries. Which leaves us with the Marshall plan, which was peanuts compared to the EEC, although it did give one of the first impetusses to integration.

    Re "It "doesn't get any truer" you know just because you keep claiming the ECJ and Commission are a benign influence!"

    The thing is of course, I never claimed they were benign. I just refuted the overexagerated and sometimes plain lies you spread about the ECJ and Commission here. But you might have just missed that in your blind animosity towards the EU.

    Re "it is an entirely legitimate point of view - - that you do not agree does not make it wrong only differing from your viewpoint."

    Well yes, but so far it was hardly substantiated by you. And still, you are more or less alone out there. Which doesn't mean you're wrong per se, but it does beg the question why.

    Re "In short, I am asking your 'opinion' (do you get it now?) as to which of 25, 35, 45, 55, 65 per cent etc. relates in your mind to a 'mandate'?"

    No need for the 'do you get it now', since you have only asked it for the first time, whereas I am asking these questions ever since you made those remarks and you choose to ignore them.

    A mandate is a mandate, no threshold is needed unless one is specified in the Treaties/constitution. Note how contradictory your argument is: the EU supposedly is becoming a superstate (ever more powers) but turnout is dropping, must be than the citizens don't mind the ever growing powers of the EU much if don't even bother to vote for the EP (the powers of which are growing faster than the powers of the Eu itself)

    Re "Answer: Because Brussels wants Citizens to believe it has come up with a new set of HR principles that are an advance on previous Rights & Responsibilities when in fact their Governments already had them in place."

    Well I didn't really contradict you, I just added some clarification. But you can not say it is a simple copy paste from existing rights, otherwise the UK, Poland and Czech Republic wouldn't have asked for an opt out. The thing is, concerning social rights the CFHR goes further than any rights UK citizens hold under national law.

    Re "There is a supra-National Organisation called the EU claiming to have the right and authority to make Law for 450,000,000+ Citizens. However, that EU cannot point to any significant Citizen support for such measures"

    Well of course there is popular support (at least in those areas where the EP is competent): a majority in the EP has to agree to policies. The fact that 55% of voters don't show up is irrelevant, they had the opportunity but didn't take it. If you don't show up, you relinquish the right to complain about policies later implemented by that body you didn't care to vote for.

    On a different note, and something you have also always ignored in the past: There isn't a single recent UK government which holds a majority support under voters. How is this than not undemocratic by your own standard?

    Re "There is no concensus about EU policies even amongst the Governments never mind the general Public the EU has ignored since the 'constitution' referendum debacle."

    Sure there is consensus. The governments are represented in the council of the EU, one of the two legislative bodies of the EU. If there is no consensus amongst Governments there is no consensus in the Council therefore no EU policy. Get your facts straight.

    Re "The EU is undermining National sovereignty and with that is removing Citizens' access to affecting the Governance of their Nations. That is in my opinion the EU acting in an 'anti-democratic' manner. Alongside those policies, whilst unable to produce "..one iota.." of credible Public support the EU is imposing pan-National Law & Regulation in every aspect of life concerning Society. That is in my opinion 'corrupt' Govenment."

    Citizens have plenty of opportunity to participate, the fact that they don't bother to actually do so is their own choice. Furthermore 'the EU' doesn't impose, if you would care to look up how the EU functions, you'd know the Council still plays a determining role in policy. And who's the Council? The Member states, not a brussels bureaucrat. The EU is only as corrupt as the national states.

    Re "Now for my "..emotive.." contribution (the bits you so enjoy!):"

    I don't really enjoy them. That's why I keep asking for real arguments, and still you refuse to give them. Where is your comment on my previous remark:

    I asked you several times already and each time you refused to answer. Let me try again (sorry if I am asserting a supposed intellectual superiority by asking an answer to my question in a debate): the EU is antidemocratic because the EP's (a single EU institution) fail to achieve a voter turnout of 50%.

    Does this mean that when the turnout rises to 50% the EU all of a sudden becomes democratic (again)? Any institution achieving voter turnout of 49.9% is undemocratic but a 0.1% more rsults in a democratic institution?

    Now if you would care to answer?

    @MARCUS AURELIUS

    Re "Jean Luc...you're not French, therefore you're not. At least that is what the French would say. I think in France it is a felony to impersonate a Frenchman. :-)"

    You know, people do speak french outside france, without being frenchman. And even non-francophone people can have francophone names...

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  • 142. At 6:23pm on 05 Feb 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    Jean Luc (#136) "Well the goal to prevent war between France and Germany, wars that in the past had ruined almost the entire continent and not only those two countries, might be an objective might be considered a 'long term interest for europeans'."

    Don't you believe that NATO achieved that goal, particularly after the demise of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany (thereby bringing E. Germany into NATO)?

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  • 143. At 6:38pm on 05 Feb 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    "Well, Nato wasn't established to prevent France-German wars, ... " (from Jean Luc at #141)

    The NATO charter does rule out war between its members as a means of settling differences.

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  • 144. At 11:34am on 06 Feb 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    JL

    Re #141

    Nothing that I have written is "blind animosity to the EU..", or "..plain lies..", or, "..over-exaggerated.." etc., anymore than anything you write is blindly pro-EU: They are all differing perspectives of that organisation's authority, power and ultimate aims.

    You believe the ECJ can only consider and make judgements in specific 'competency' areas and cannot intervene in National Parliament decisions - - I say it can and will do so increasingly, upto & including considering the 'political-constitutional' right of Nations to withdraw from the EU. With every year and every Treaty the ECJ encroaches more into what were formerly only National 'competencies': You cannot see/agree that by having authority to intervene in National Law the ECJ is affecting National sovereignty to the detriment of the Nation State's ability to determine its own Laws based on the Citizens' Mandate at National Elections (from my viewpoint).

    You believe any Voter Turnout is a legitimate Mandate - - most worryingly (but unsurprisingly, as 'pro-EU' tend by instinct to be very authoritarian and 'anti-Democratic') you also dismiss those who do not Vote as though 'Democracy' must only act for those who perceive it from your EU perspective: I cannot see/agree that a legally enfranchised Citizen in a Democracy "..relinquishes the right to complain (about policy).." if they do not Vote - - that Citizen pays the taxes, contributes to society and is subject to its Laws and therefore has every right to 'complain' - - in your system they become 2nd/3rd Class Citizens with less Rights & Responsibilities!

    So much for your EU Charter of Human Rights - - it didn't take 30 sentences for you, the 'pro-EU' lobbyist to dismiss the charter's contents!
    Incidentally, just because the EU's CFHR "..goes further.." (than UK) does not mean the CFHR is correct. Only that it has differing viewpoint of what constitutes a Human Right. Personally, again it is just opinion, I would back 1,000+ years of evolving English Common Law against any set of documents on 'protection of rights & responsibilities' cobbled together for a form of 'concensus' stemming from European jurisprudence - - especially with an ECJ in the background.

    I have in the past and did answer the 49.9% point you raised! It is you who are ducking and diving on the issue. Several times I have replied that Voter Turnout (IMO) does make for political legitimacy: A Government of any 'democratic' Nation does not need a 'Majority' of Voters to have supported it, but it does IMO require 50+% of Voter Turnout to claim the Citizens are actively participating and supporting the whole process. Every UK Government post-1918 to the present day can claim legitimacy because over 50% (usually 60+%) of eligible Citizens have entered the Ballot box - - UK's FPTP system has always meant 'reduced' levels of popular vote for 1 Party that forms a Government - - and is still considerably more of a 'democratic' process than the EU which for many years has not even had 50% Turnout at the Ballot box and therefore 49.9% Turnout (in practise, a lot less) is not enough to claim legitimacy. How can the EU possibly argue 1 in 4 voting is an expression of 'popular support' or of 'democracy'!?

    Then no MEP, once elected, and therefore the EU Parliament need be responsive to Citizen Voters' wishes - - the Public input to MEP debate simply does not exist - - whereas, 'big-Business/big-Government' can and do access Brussels' deliberations every single day with a commensurate impact on policy-initiatives.


    My "..facts.." are straight: There is often no "..concensus.." and there is still 'EU policy' - - e.g. Why is there an EU policy for the formation of the European Defence Force when not all EU27 want to participate? Why is there a EUro-zone of 16 and not 27? Look at any branch of the EU and there is policy made that has not 'concensus'. Frankly, it is no surprise and is one of the most basic weaknesses of the EU ideal of 'democratic' representation of the People - - it is wholly unlikely for 27 States to agree (hence Lisbon's extention of 'majority' votes etc.) - - therefore EU-policy will be imposed even more than it already is on National Citizens who through their Ballot box may have expressed support for completely contrary policies. Yet, the 'pro-EU' would claim the ECJ, Commission, Parliament are 'benign' influences on Citizens' rights!?

    No, Citizens do not have "..plenty of opportunity to participate..": That is patently not the case at supra-National level. It is duplicity of the highest to suggest Citizens can lobby Brussels in the manner they might a National Parliament on a particular issue! Which 'grouping' in the EU Parliament should they approach, who should they seek out, when and where would their Citizen voice be heard in Brussels' Parliament!?

    Yes, the EU does "..impose.." because with Citizen Voters unable to effect the EU Parliament and Commission deliberations there is patently no need for either entity to reflect in policy the will of the Citizens. This could not have been more exposed as the fait accompli than the 'ratification' of the Lisbon Treaty for which only 1 of the EU27 can point to a Citizen Mandate of support for the legislation (and that was a 2nd attempt - - after 'opt-outs', so much for concensus and then EU-policy!).

    Much as you would like to claim "..popular support.." there is no evidence at all for the idea the EU Parliament in any way represents and responds to the EU Citizens: It is therefore IMO an anti-democratic institution that is actively seeking to become the supreme ruler of Europe to the clear detriment of the political Free-will and Rights of Citizens.

    I could go on, but we've done this many times: Point - counterpoint... The fact is across the whole range of issues your 'pro' view is different to my 'anti' on the EU.
    The other substantial difference is that all along I have given you credit for presenting reasoned argument whereas you at times (intentionally or not) attempt to belittle or negate another's viewpoint by referral to our inate lack of 'understanding' (it's why DemocThreat, who I trust you will agree is hardly a limited intellect, called into question your overall attitude as much as any point you make).

    Unfortunately for the EU and its supporters we 'anti' understand only too well what is at stake: The EU is presently in the ascendancy, but I do hope and believe ratification of Lisbon was its high point. Within a decade it will have crumpled from its overbearing, illegitimate authority over 450+ million.

    We 'anti' read your logical and informative points and end up very concerned because even as you write so cogently you then in the very next instance dismiss those who do not agree or Citizens who do not vote as being somehow of less status than yourself.

    JL, I say in all honesty, the impression you make is that you are lukewarm as a friend of 'Democracy': And that, at base, is exactly how the EU is perceived by those of us who deny its political-cultural legitimacy.

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  • 145. At 2:16pm on 06 Feb 2010, Jean Luc wrote:

    @CBW
    Re "You believe the ECJ can only consider and make judgements in specific 'competency' areas and cannot intervene in National Parliament decisions - - I say it can and will do so increasingly, upto & including considering the 'political-constitutional' right of Nations to withdraw from the EU. With every year and every Treaty the ECJ encroaches more into what were formerly only National 'competencies': You cannot see/agree that by having authority to intervene in National Law the ECJ is affecting National sovereignty to the detriment of the Nation State's ability to determine its own Laws based on the Citizens' Mandate at National Elections (from my viewpoint)."

    Ah yes. That discussion. You see, you base your argument on 'personal views', completely ignorant of the fact that this question isn't all that subjective. It is a question of Law, and law (especially constitutional law) is highly objective. So, out of blue, you postulate your own view on the ECJ, according it the competence to strike down national legislation. You do this without any legal argument, you just postulate it, against basic legal doctrine. But hey, no need to argument anything right? It's just your opinion, worth as much as anyone else's! Regardless of the fact that you are proceeding on legal issues, formulating ideas that run against basic doctrine, without taking account of this doctrine and without any rival argumentation to back up your claims. High quality debating that is!

    Re "You believe any Voter Turnout is a legitimate Mandate - - most worryingly (but unsurprisingly, as 'pro-EU' tend by instinct to be very authoritarian and 'anti-Democratic') you also dismiss those who do not Vote as though 'Democracy' must only act for those who perceive it from your EU perspective: I cannot see/agree that a legally enfranchised Citizen in a Democracy "..relinquishes the right to complain (about policy).." if they do not Vote - - that Citizen pays the taxes, contributes to society and is subject to its Laws and therefore has every right to 'complain' - - in your system they become 2nd/3rd Class Citizens with less Rights & Responsibilities!"

    well it's my perfectly legitimate view that people who do not bother to vote for elections forfeit all rights to complain about the result afterwards. What's more it something you yourself hinted at when you defended the outcome of the Swiss referendum on minarets, when someone brought up the large portion of eligble voters that didn't show up.

    Re "So much for your EU Charter of Human Rights - - it didn't take 30 sentences for you, the 'pro-EU' lobbyist to dismiss the charter's contents!
    Incidentally, just because the EU's CFHR "..goes further.." (than UK) does not mean the CFHR is correct. Only that it has differing viewpoint of what constitutes a Human Right. Personally, again it is just opinion, I would back 1,000+ years of evolving English Common Law against any set of documents on 'protection of rights & responsibilities' cobbled together for a form of 'concensus' stemming from European jurisprudence - - especially with an ECJ in the background."

    Well, I just reacted to your statement that National governments already had them in place. The opt outs of the UK Poland Czech republic show that this isn't the case. Then you shift the debate towards the question what rights are better the limited once in the Uk or the more extensive ones in the CFHR. That's something I didn't bring up.

    Also the CFHR doesn't simple stem from jurisprudence, get your facts straight.

    Re "A Government of any 'democratic' Nation does not need a 'Majority' of Voters to have supported it, but it does IMO require 50+% of Voter Turnout to claim the Citizens are actively participating and supporting the whole process. Every UK Government post-1918 to the present day can claim legitimacy because over 50% (usually 60+%) of eligible Citizens have entered the Ballot box - - UK's FPTP system has always meant 'reduced' levels of popular vote for 1 Party that forms a Government - - and is still considerably more of a 'democratic' process than the EU which for many years has not even had 50% Turnout at the Ballot box and therefore 49.9% Turnout (in practise, a lot less) is not enough to claim legitimacy. How can the EU possibly argue 1 in 4 voting is an expression of 'popular support' or of 'democracy'!"

    So democracy necessitates +50% turnout but not +50% popular support. That's your own viewpoint and may be legitimate. But you don't argument your case. And again you ignore that fundamental problem in your view: it's very arbitrary. You have not answered to the question if an institution that had 49.9% turnout (thus becoming undemocratic) would become democratic if turnout was raised by 0.1%. The problem of the metamorphosis of this fundamental character by something as arbitrary as 0.1%.

    Another way of putting it: to you 50% turnout is fundamental (not 50% support). Therefore supposing a population of eligble voters of n=100, with 60% turnout and 51% majority results in a democratic decision; but when the turnout drops to 49% with 66% majority the result is undemocratic. The popular support in the second scenario is bigger however than in the first.

    re "Why is there an EU policy for the formation of the European Defence Force when not all EU27 want to participate? Why is there a EUro-zone of 16 and not 27? Look at any branch of the EU and there is policy made that has not 'concensus'. Frankly, it is no surprise and is one of the most basic weaknesses of the EU ideal of 'democratic' representation of the People - - it is wholly unlikely for 27 States to agree (hence Lisbon's extention of 'majority' votes etc.) - - therefore EU-policy will be imposed even more than it already is on National Citizens who through their Ballot box may have expressed support for completely contrary policies. Yet, the 'pro-EU' would claim the ECJ, Commission, Parliament are 'benign' influences on Citizens' rights!?"

    So there is nu unanimous consensus, but there is big majority consensus. This majority decision making (instead of unanimous decisionmaking) was written in the treaties before the UK or any other country joined. What's the problem?

    And there is no EU defence force or EU Eurozone. The member states cooperating on defence issues and monetary issues simply use the EU framework. That's something totally different.

    Re "No, Citizens do not have "..plenty of opportunity to participate..": That is patently not the case at supra-National level. It is duplicity of the highest to suggest Citizens can lobby Brussels in the manner they might a National Parliament on a particular issue! Which 'grouping' in the EU Parliament should they approach, who should they seek out, when and where would their Citizen voice be heard in Brussels' Parliament!?"

    The citizens possibilities aren't different from their possibilities at national level (except for the UK perhaps where there is a much stronger link between MP and voter, but you can expect 26 continental states to introduce a system unique to the UK). There is even a citizen's petition in the Eu Constitution! Something I don't have in my national constitution (neither do you!), so we as citizens have more possibilities!

    Re "Yes, the EU does "..impose.." because with Citizen Voters unable to effect the EU Parliament and Commission deliberations there is patently no need for either entity to reflect in policy the will of the Citizens. This could not have been more exposed as the fait accompli than the 'ratification' of the Lisbon Treaty for which only 1 of the EU27 can point to a Citizen Mandate of support for the legislation (and that was a 2nd attempt - - after 'opt-outs', so much for concensus and then EU-policy!)."

    I'll just repeat what I have always said. The decision to hold a referendum is a national decision, not an EU one. If you want to complain about the lack of referendums, complain to the national governments, not to the EU.

    Re "The other substantial difference is that all along I have given you credit for presenting reasoned argument whereas you at times (intentionally or not) attempt to belittle or negate another's viewpoint by referral to our inate lack of 'understanding' (it's why DemocThreat, who I trust you will agree is hardly a limited intellect, called into question your overall attitude as much as any point you make)."

    Well you might just start argumenting your viewpoints instead of simply stating "It is therefore IMO an anti-democratic institution that is actively seeking to become the supreme ruler of Europe to the clear detriment of the political Free-will and Rights of Citizens."

    Right, nice to know your opinion, but do you have any arguments to back up these bold claims?

    re "those who do not agree or Citizens who do not vote as being somehow of less status than yourself."

    That is again something you make up to discredit the rest of what I write. We don't know how people think if they don't vote, so we can't take into account an unexpressed opinion. This has nothing do with status and is something you yourself have said in the minarets topic.

    Re "JL, I say in all honesty, the impression you make is that you are lukewarm as a friend of 'Democracy': And that, at base, is exactly how the EU is perceived by those of us who deny its political-cultural legitimacy."

    If the EP is so powerful (and yes it has a lot of power) and yet so few people vote for it (they can even vote for parties that wish to abolish the EU!), this says more about those people than about the EP/EU.

    The possibility for citizens to participate is there, it is up to them to decide whether they wish to invest time and energy to have meaningful participation.

    @143. At 6:38pm on 05 Feb 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    German membership of ECSC precedes membership of Nato. The former made possible the latter.

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  • 146. At 8:31pm on 06 Feb 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    Jean Luc (#145) "German membership of ECSC precedes membership of Nato. The former made possible the latter."

    The NATO treaty was signed in April 1949:

    http://www.nato.int/shape/about/background2.htm

    The ECSC was founded in 1951:

    http://www.eu2005.lu/en/savoir_ue/historique_UE/index.php

    However, Germany did not join NATO until 1955:

    http://www.nato.int/docu/update/2005/05-may/e0506a.htm

    I accept ECSC as providing the foundation for normalizing relations between France and Germany.

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  • 147. At 8:51pm on 06 Feb 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    Quibbling over the meaning of "democratic" and "mandate" is silly, in my opinion. "Democracy" means only that the people have political power. It is a very broad term with no specific meaning, so people are free to add their own conditions and argue without end, but without any objective basis.

    In the United States, there is usually a turnout above 50% in presidential election years, and usually below 50% in mid-term election years:

    http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0781453.html

    Furthermore, a plurality is sufficient to elect a member of Congress.

    Whatever the turnout, and whatever the share of the vote (if a plurality) all persons elected to Congress by legal means acquire the legal power to hold their office. That's a legal mandate and that's all that matters to practical people. A political mandate as a measure of the ability of an elected official wield the power of the office effectively is another matter. Argue about "mandate" all you like, but the operational question is: "how is this elected official doing his or her job?".

    I expect these principles apply to any European parliament as well.

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  • 148. At 1:50pm on 07 Feb 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    GH1618

    Re #147

    I cannot agree.

    No, 'quibbling' over 'democracy' is not silly at all: It is the foremost political issue of modern 'history'.
    By modern I refer to the evolution of Human Rights via political-cultural-social dynamics of the last 200 to 300 years.

    Government of People is the decisive factor in their lives:

    Good Governance should be legitimised by the Consent of the People and in the course of its functions engage Citizens interest to bring the stability of social-cultural exchange without deference to specific groups and thus set-up conditions that lead to prosperity, progression, enlightenment and toleration among Citizens at all levels of society.

    Bad Governance and there is little, if any Consent by People; at best stagnation and decay, often oppression, a venality of service to specific groups, and ultimately conditions that at worst break down a Nation to unstable, illegitimate leadership such as the Taliban in Afghanistan or Warlords of Somalia.

    The European Union is a long way from being classed among the latter forms of Government:
    However, very worryingly, it is has a propensity for 'bad governance' as at its base there is very little Citizen engagement with its institutions and therefore it is detached from the Citizens' overall interests. The EU is creating Policy and making Law without the Consent of the People. In its present form the EU's lack of legitimacy will be its undoing - - though the EU does have the capability to drawback and effect Political Reform - - such reform would make it an acceptable entity as a Democratic Government.

    Time will tell.

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  • 149. At 2:23pm on 07 Feb 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    JL

    Re #145

    I know it is very frustrating for you: This lowly chap, with limited intellect, no facts, no documents, no understanding of the finer points... (of your version of 'postulating' how the EU functions) and still he persists in debating and arguing...

    The basic fact is there is no n=100 in any EU institution: There is no Citizen participation at any level of EU that defines it as acting with the Consent of the Citizens.

    When you or any 'pro-EU' supporter can point to a popular Mandate among the Majority of eligible Citizen Voters of the EU for any action/policy by the EU since 1992 I will concede it has legitimacy.

    As we both and all UK/Europe Citizens know that scenario does not exist: Thus, I and others will be disputing these matters with you and others ad nauseam!

    Delightful prospect, aye!

    Cheers.

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  • 150. At 4:19pm on 07 Feb 2010, Jean Luc wrote:

    @CBW

    Re "I know it is very frustrating for you: This lowly chap, with limited intellect, no facts, no documents, no understanding of the finer points... (of your version of 'postulating' how the EU functions) and still he persists in debating and arguing..."

    I never called you a lowly chap with limited intellect, etc. That's something you make of it, aiming to discredit my comments by portraying me in a negative way. I only asked to give arguments and answer my questions. And you don't really persist in debating, you persist in ignoring my questions, that is not called debating, unless my English dictionary needs updating.

    Re "The basic fact is there is no n=100 in any EU institution: There is no Citizen participation at any level of EU that defines it as acting with the Consent of the Citizens."

    n=100 is something that comes from statistical sciences, where n means total population. Your remark doesn't make much sense in this light.

    Re "When you or any 'pro-EU' supporter can point to a popular Mandate among the Majority of eligible Citizen Voters of the EU for any action/policy by the EU since 1992 I will concede it has legitimacy.

    As we both and all UK/Europe Citizens know that scenario does not exist: Thus, I and others will be disputing these matters with you and others ad nauseam!"

    This is besides the point. I already explained that your argumentation of democratic legitimacy (threshold of 50% turnout) is a minority view in political and legal science, no serious scholars would define democratic legitimacy this way.

    I took your definition as starting point the show the arbitrariness of your definition. But you again (lost count of how many times) you refuse to answer the question.

    So I'll ask you again:


    "So democracy necessitates +50% turnout but not +50% popular support. That's your own viewpoint and may be legitimate. But you don't argument your case. And again you ignore that fundamental problem in your view: it's very arbitrary. You have not answered to the question if an institution that had 49.9% turnout (thus becoming undemocratic) would become democratic if turnout was raised by 0.1%. The problem of the metamorphosis of this fundamental character by something as arbitrary as 0.1%.

    Another way of putting it: to you 50% turnout is fundamental (not 50% support). Therefore supposing a population of eligble voters of n=100, with 60% turnout and 51% majority results in a democratic decision; but when the turnout drops to 49% with 66% majority the result is undemocratic. The popular support in the second scenario is bigger however than in the first."

    If this is how you define democracy, it must be obvious to you that something as fundamental as democracy gets defined in such an arbitrary way.

    If you agree that this definition is too arbitrary, I invite you to rethink your thesis on democratic legitimacy.

    However, my personal feeling is that you just search a stick to beat the EU and adapt your definition of democracy to that aim. This would also explain why you don't see anything undemocratic about the lack of majority support for all moderen british governments and can not argument why this does not pose a problem and the lack of 50% turnout for EP elections does. All you can say is "I don't think it is undemocratic". I'm sorry but that doesn't suffice in any serious debate. I also note you are silent on your own statements in the minaret topics that are in contradiction to your statements on democracy in this article's discussion. This shows again (to me) that you are not arguing based on a thought through and consistent theory on democracy, but simply aim to discredit anything related to the EU.


    Please persist in arguing and not in ignoring these key issues.

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  • 151. At 7:36pm on 07 Feb 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    JL

    Re #150

    "..you don't really persist in debating.. you persist in ignoring.."

    No, sorry, what you mean is I will not accept that you have the right to set the substance, tone etc. of the debate.

    I consistently answer many of your points, but you like to suggest my views as unsubstantiated compared to yours in order to "..portray me in a negative way..". It is a ploy you also attempt with others.

    Something as "..fundamental as democracy.." cannot be left to people such as yourself who are slaves to document/s: You wrap it all up by requesting I revisit my "..thesis.." of democracy.
    It does not occur to you, you are betrothed to an EU of mere documents that are an imperfect thesis with which I and millions of others will not concur nor bend the knee simply because a bunch of Lawyers say it is 'all legal'!

    If I wish to discredit the EU I shall attempt to do so: It is not your place to inform me of what is allowed as a debate/viewpoint.
    As it happens there are areas of the ideal of European Union I would welcome, but as they are entirely enveloped by this overmighty, venal, anti-democratic entity that presently exists I cannot support it. I repeat there is no 'n=100' much less a popular Citizen Mandate within the post-Maastricht/Lisbon EU. It is a dangerously centralising body that reacts to declining Citizen support at supra-National level by encroaching even more onto what is properly National concerns. That is not a responsive or responsible 'democractic' movement. That is an enemy of Citizens' Free-will and Rights & Responsibilities within civilised society.

    It does not matter a jot which way you choose to present 'documents' or the 'legalities': It will ultimately fail for so long as the fundamental premise of the Citizens right to have a say in their Governance is very largely ignored by this EU as it thinks and acts as if it has the right & responsibility to replace the Citizen's voice with its own.

    Please persist in arguing on the legal basis as it only exposes even further the depth of the connivance and duplicity at the heart of the EU.

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  • 152. At 9:24pm on 07 Feb 2010, Jean Luc wrote:

    CBW

    Re "I consistently answer many of your points, but you like to suggest my views as unsubstantiated compared to yours in order to "..portray me in a negative way..". It is a ploy you also attempt with others."

    I do not attempt anything like that. But nice that you admit to it yourself.

    And you still have not answered my questions.

    Re "Something as "..fundamental as democracy.." cannot be left to people such as yourself who are slaves to document/s: You wrap it all up by requesting I revisit my "..thesis.." of democracy."

    Nope. I gave you a logical deduction from your theory and I asked if you would still support your theory in the light of that deduction. If the answer to this question (which you have NOT answered) would be no, THEN I invite you to revisit your theory.

    Re "It does not occur to you, you are betrothed to an EU of mere documents that are an imperfect thesis with which I and millions of others will not concur nor bend the knee simply because a bunch of Lawyers say it is 'all legal'!"

    Democracy is more than a legal principle, hence why I refered to political science as well (including political philosophy). No idea how you get the idea that I wish to derive democracy from a simple document.

    Re "If I wish to discredit the EU I shall attempt to do so: It is not your place to inform me of what is allowed as a debate/viewpoint."

    I have lost count of the times I have said that I wouldn't care less if you would pro or anti EU. But if you wish to discredit the EU, do so on basis of facts, argumented reasoning and in general in intellectual honest ways. Again you portray this discussion as me wanting to impose a certain pro-EU frame on this discussion, thereby discrediting everything else I might say...

    Re "As it happens there are areas of the ideal of European Union I would welcome, but as they are entirely enveloped by this overmighty, venal, anti-democratic entity that presently exists I cannot support it. I repeat there is no 'n=100'"

    N=100 is just a statistical expression, it doesn't hold any subjective meaning. Example, in 2000 in the Uk 44,423,440 voters were registered, making the total population of eligble voters at that time n=44,423,440. Other example: 441900 people live in Liverpool of which 65.1% are of working age, making the Total population of Liverpudlians of working age N=287 677. So saying 'there is no n=100' is quite meaningless, it was just an example...

    Re "Please persist in arguing on the legal basis as it only exposes even further the depth of the connivance and duplicity at the heart of the EU."

    Where did I ever talk about 'legal basis'??? I was talking about the theoretical shortcomings of your thesis on democracy and asked you to comment on my remarks. If you would want to 'categorize' this discussion it's a political philosophical one, not a legal one.

    So please comment on these remarks:

    "So democracy necessitates +50% turnout but not +50% popular support. That's your own viewpoint and may be legitimate. But you don't argument your case. And again you ignore that fundamental problem in your view: it's very arbitrary. You have not answered to the question if an institution that had 49.9% turnout (thus becoming undemocratic) would become democratic if turnout was raised by 0.1%. The problem of the metamorphosis of this fundamental character by something as arbitrary as 0.1%.

    Another way of putting it: to you 50% turnout is fundamental (not 50% support). Therefore supposing a population of eligble voters of n=100, with 60% turnout and 51% majority results in a democratic decision; but when the turnout drops to 49% with 66% majority the result is undemocratic. The popular support in the second scenario is bigger however than in the first."

    If this is how you define democracy, it must be obvious to you that something as fundamental as democracy gets defined in such an arbitrary way.

    If you agree that this definition is too arbitrary, I invite you to rethink your thesis on democratic legitimacy.

    However, my personal feeling is that you just search a stick to beat the EU and adapt your definition of democracy to that aim. This would also explain why you don't see anything undemocratic about the lack of majority support for all moderen british governments and can not argument why this does not pose a problem and the lack of 50% turnout for EP elections does. All you can say is "I don't think it is undemocratic". I'm sorry but that doesn't suffice in any serious debate. I also note you are silent on your own statements in the minaret topics that are in contradiction to your statements on democracy in this article's discussion. This shows again (to me) that you are not arguing based on a thought through and consistent theory on democracy, but simply aim to discredit anything related to the EU.


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  • 153. At 11:23am on 08 Feb 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    JL

    Re #152

    "..not arguing based on a thought through and consistent theory.."

    Wow! It doesn't get much plainer than that!

    Your conceit knows no bounds!
    Ironically, when I read some of your undiluted theoretical dross about the benign EU I have considered not indulging you with any sort of reply.

    No, sorry, all your comment shows to me is you employ the same technique as you try to use to criticise others for their comments on the EU.

    One part is false: You are constantly raising 'legal' implications, and, as I have replied on here and previous debates, just because it is on paper, in a treaty or whatever, does not mean that is how it functions or that only one interpretation is permissible.
    I paraphrase repeat your repeated observation: Just because you say it and/or the EU writes it does not make it any more true.

    Every discussion by everyone on these Blogs has an element of political-philosophical thought: That is the nature of debate when applied to economics, defence, judiciary etc. Given that natural condition/constraint upon us all it is quite preposterous to allege no 'legal' argument is raised!
    You write about 'theory' and plainly reveal a lack of astuteness of its qualities.

    I do not have to respond to every point you raise simply to indulge your fantasy the EU is democratic and positive for Europe. Infact, neither do I agree with your view of my minaret comments which is why I'm not getting into that area again - - my views are entirely consistent.
    You choose to duck and dive as you did on the minarets because the Referendum result, for good or ill (and I would personally have voted against a ban) is the expression of the Swiss Public will, exactly as I also indicated for the Eire Referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, the Spanish vote 'yes' and the Dutch/French votes for 'no' to the Constitution.

    That you would like by some miracle of sophistry to wish away all us critics of the EU and leave it to go on grinding down the Rights and Responsibilities of Citizens is your problem, not mine.




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  • 154. At 11:59am on 08 Feb 2010, Jean Luc wrote:

    1. I note that half of your comment (again) consists of playing man not ball.
    2. I note that you insist I speak of a 'benign EU', while in fact I never used such words to describe the EU instead I merely (tried) to refute some of your unsubstantiated claims on the EU.
    3. I note that you insist I talked about 'legal implications', when I didn't, not surprisingly you can only accuse me of this without pointing towards such statements I might have made.
    4. I note that you have nothing interesting to say on my logical deduction, after we have cleared up the whole n=100 misunderstanding.

    As you refuse (for the fifth time or so) to answer my question and as you do not attempt anymore (you never have in fact: simply repeating stuff isn't really defending) to defend your argument, I take it you have seen yourself that it needs finetuning.

    You could have been a good sport about it and just acknowledged it, but then again, some see debatign as a way of imposing or simply spreading their views, whilst other enter debates open minded and want to learn new insights through discussions on facts and reasoned argument.

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  • 155. At 12:16pm on 08 Feb 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    JL

    Re #154

    You can 'note' as much as you like.

    I note only that as the debate is not going your way you become increasingly concerned with trying to instruct myself (and others at times) what it is we are doing wrong in the context and content of our debating technique.

    There is no 'man' or 'ball' on here, mate, only intense dissatisfaction among 'pro-EU' that despite all the hype the EU lobby has yet again failed to convince anyone of its right to exist never mind value to Europe.

    OOh, sorry about that, not!

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  • 156. At 12:34pm on 08 Feb 2010, Jean Luc wrote:

    Re "I note only that as the debate is not going your way you become increasingly concerned with trying to instruct myself (and others at times) what it is we are doing wrong in the context and content of our debating technique.

    There is no 'man' or 'ball' on here, mate, only intense dissatisfaction among 'pro-EU' that despite all the hype the EU lobby has yet again failed to convince anyone of its right to exist never mind value to Europe."

    Very interesting to see how you turned this in an anti-EU pro-EU discussion again, without answering my questions on something you stated in this discussion that was in se unrelated to the EU.

    Therefore it is not about the debate not going my way (again, I don't care if you agree with me or not on the EU), it's you who simply refuse to answer a perfectly legitimate question in this debate.

    Perhaps this is your way of debating, simply refusing to answer certain critical questions, but it is not mine. This is why it's a plain lie to state that I duck and dive issues in the minarets topic (I clearly stated that even direct democracy is bound by principles such as respect for human rights and rule of law).

    You know, there are many ways more elegant to deal with a situation like this, in which a previous statement of yours gets revealed as (partially) erroneous. Acknowledging it and taking on the intellectual challenge to reanalyze is one of them. But I guess some people never grow up, regardless of their age ;-)

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  • 157. At 6:13pm on 08 Feb 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    JL

    Re #156

    So, when it's not my 'nonsensenical' ideas, not my 'lies', not my lack of 'understanding', not my 'intellectual dishonesty', not my 'misinterpretation', not my 'overexaggeration', not my 'coloured representation', not my 'populist views', not my 'hearsay', not my 'emotional claims', not my 'intellectual dishonesty', not my 'blind animosity', not my 'ignored/contradictory theory'...

    It's my 'age'!

    In sum total I am only "acknowledging" you have a very curious way of considering your debate-technique does not lead those with differing opinions to doubt you have ever "reanalysed" your intellectual style of argument.

    But, I guess this adage is still pertinent, some people, 'never see the wood for the trees' regardless of their education and knowledge!

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  • 158. At 7:46pm on 08 Feb 2010, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    Gavin:

    I am finally, glad, that the EU will be policing the Greek Accounts and, maybe the scrunity will allow the Greek State out of trouble and, also, allows the country to return to the rules that was set out in the EURO codes of conduct.

    -Dennis Junior-

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  • 159. At 9:07pm on 08 Feb 2010, Jean Luc wrote:

    @CBW

    Re "It's my 'age'!"

    I thought you (as a native English speaker) would know what the word 'regardless' means.

    Apart from that I see you still don't answer the question I asked, therefore I invited you (how many times now? 7 8 9 10?) to answer my question.

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  • 160. At 9:23pm on 08 Feb 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Yes, and you were inferring that despite my many years I have learnt nothing about how to 'debate'.

    Yet another of your attempts to portray yourself as somehow above it all and that only your argument-debate skills and the context of your comments are relevant.

    Well, it doesn't work like that and it never will.

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  • 161. At 08:39am on 09 Feb 2010, Jean Luc wrote:

    Re "Yes, and you were inferring that despite my many years I have learnt nothing about how to 'debate'."

    Well obviously you have a problem debating. Because you think debate is about saying your opinion without any argumentation. Because you think it unnecessary to answer questions your discussion partner asks.

    But what I really meant was that despite your age you aren't mature enough to acknowledge your original statement needs finetuning. A bit like a child that always wants to get things it's way.

    And I see you again ignored my question, therefore I invite you again (how many times? 8 9 10 11?) to answer my question.

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  • 162. At 3:44pm on 09 Feb 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Ye Gods!

    Is there no end to your You insufferable arrogance and rudeness!?


    "..despite your age you aren't mature enough.." and ".. a bit like a child..".

    Henceforth, "ignore" You I shall.

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  • 163. At 4:30pm on 09 Feb 2010, Jean Luc wrote:

    Re "Henceforth, "ignore" You I shall."

    You delightfully have proven my point. You would find any excuse not to defend your statements, in case of lack of arguments.

    Q.E.D.

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  • 164. At 4:02pm on 10 Feb 2010, OC wrote:

    Why is it that so manny British newspapers are not just commenting on the Greek debt problems and what its doing to the Euro, but it's like they're actually rooting for the Euro to fail.

    And for people to be this against a currency they're not even using makes you wonder why. This isn't just indifference it's more hate than anything else. The Pound isn't what it used to be and the prospect of the Euro turning into a succes is more than they can bear. But the Euro won't fail and you'll have to do with an ever-so-dwindling-in-relevance-once-mighty-Pound-Sterling.

    The sun set on the empire and so it will on the Pound!!

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