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The New Spartans head to Canada

Gavin Hewitt | 10:40 UK time, Thursday, 24 June 2010

Statue of King Leonidas of ancient SpartaThe Europeans are the New Spartans. They head to the G20 in Toronto in their hair-shirts, newly frugal and stern in their attitude towards debt.

The G20, which includes the developing countries, has become the body to co-ordinate the global economy. When the banks were collapsing in 2008/9 it was the G20 that embraced stimulus programmes.

Now, as heads of government arrive in Ontario, there is no masking the divisions. In one corner are the Americans. They believe that economic recovery must take precedence over budget cuts. In an article in the Wall Street Journal, Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers (US treasury secretary and presidential economic adviser) wrote "we must demonstrate a commitment to reducing long-term deficits, but not at the price of short-term growth".

President Obama has been firing off letters warning of repeating the mistakes of the past, when stimulus packages were withdrawn too quickly. The President then phoned the Chief Spart, German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She was not in the mood for turning. "Yesterday, during a phone call with Barack Obama," she said, "I told him how important budgetary consolidation was".Toronto skyline - file pic

The hedge fund manager George Soros has weighed into the argument. He was the man who made a cool billion by betting against the British pound. Now he is warning that the budgetary savings policies risk destroying the European project, pushing weaker countries into a cycle of deflation. That, he believes, will "generate discontent and social unrest". He rails against countries reducing together their deficits to 3% to live within the rules of the EU Growth and Stability Pact. He says Germany wants to treat the EU's Maastricht Treaty as the "scripture which has to be obeyed without any modifications".

The European Spartans reject all of this out of hand. They speak with the zeal of new converts. The German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, admitted to the Financial Times that this was "one of the most passionately debated economic issues of the day". But he gave an emphatic "no" when asked if Berlin was acting prematurely in reining in its deficit. Governments, he said, should not become addicted to borrowing as a quick fix to stimulate demand. Germany is cutting spending by 80bn euros (£66bn) over four years.

"The idea that austerity measures could trigger stagnation is incorrect," says the President of the European Central Bank, Jean-Claude Trichet.

The Europeans simply do not believe their cuts will choke off growth. The President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, told the European Parliament "the measures taken by the member states to reduce their deficits will not have a profound deflationary effect for the union as a whole - if they restore confidence in the economy, thereby stimulating both consumption and investment".

It is a belief in the virtuous cycle, that sound economies will breed confidence and confidence encourages spending and spending leads to growth.

The divide between the Europeans and Americans will dominate the meetings in Canada.

There will be discussion about a bank levy to reduce risks in the future. The UK, France and Germany all support it, albeit favouring different models. But the aim is the same: that banks make a contribution to "reflect the risks they pose" and to adapt their balance sheets accordingly. It may be hard to get consensus on this. Those countries who escaped the worst of the banking collapse such as Australia and Canada are opposed to a bank levy.

What the business community wants is a further reduction in trade barriers, but also access to capital. As Euro Chambers put it, the G20 "must ensure that businesses, especially small ones, have adequate, flexible and efficient access to finance, both from banks and capital markets".

It is a cry for the people who create the jobs to have access to finance.

Comments

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  • 1. At 11:18am on 24 Jun 2010, Freeman wrote:

    I would guess that the bankers are terrified that we may get used to the idea of living within our means. If that concept becomes ingrained in the European psyche, that is one big marketplace that they can no longer milk like there is no tomorrow. Yup...that would scare me as a leech.

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  • 2. At 11:19am on 24 Jun 2010, lochraven wrote:

    "he believes, will "generate discontent and social unrest"

    Isn't it already happening in Greece?

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  • 3. At 11:29am on 24 Jun 2010, Freeman wrote:

    Now if Merkel can get a 300 quote in there, I'll be impressed. ^^

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  • 4. At 12:03pm on 24 Jun 2010, Menedemus wrote:

    Gavin,

    I think you will find that it is the citizens of the EU nations that will be wearing hair-shirts and having to live frugally like the Spartans.

    I am quite sure the politicians and EU bureaucrats will continue travelling around the world in First Class, eating fine foods and dressed well, earning their high salaries and claiming their seemingly unrestricted expenses - all at the expense of the citizens who are going ot have to bite the bullet of this new-found zeal for debt-reduction.

    The shame of it is that, if the politicians and EU bureacrats had regulated the European economies to live within the means of an income-expediture regime without borrowing on the never-never as they did in the past - we would not be in the mess we are today.

    Nice to see how the other half live though.

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  • 5. At 12:12pm on 24 Jun 2010, opinion wrote:

    Europe got dragged into US model of consumerism and again consumerism. Now, its time for Europe to get out of that pattern. It is not gonna be easy but with persistence and sacrifice is possible. Anyway that is not gonna make happy he USA so we can expect some fight going on. I am afraid that at the moment the odds are in USA favor. Lets see whats gonna happen.

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  • 6. At 12:14pm on 24 Jun 2010, Richard35 wrote:

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

  • 7. At 12:39pm on 24 Jun 2010, Nik wrote:

    Hehe... Gavin's dedication to me! But I am Thessalonikian, I've always prefered the wealthy Macedonians and their lavish styles! Sparta is too much misery for me. But this amazing little city seems to gather an endless line of followers through times...

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  • 8. At 1:34pm on 24 Jun 2010, mr beige wrote:

    the American model of unlimited spending and increased debt is so ingrained in that society that they have no choice but to see it to its inevitable conclusion
    Europeans have a choice:
    1 wrap themselves up tightly in hair shirts and live on bread and water until the american financial system collapses at which point they will be wiped out too or....
    2 spend spend spend while they can until the american financial system collapses at which point they will be wiped out too.
    I am reminded of that old government directive " at the sound of the nuclear warning - sit down - place your head between your legs - kiss your a** goodbye"!

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  • 9. At 2:14pm on 24 Jun 2010, BluesBerry wrote:

    First let me say that I loved your article.
    Technically speaking those countries that belong to the EU and use the Euro are Spartiates (Spartan citizens); perhaps those who belong to the EU, but do not use the Euro could be classified as Mothakes (free men raised as Spartans) or better Perioikoi (free men)
    But I digress...
    When the banks were collapsing in 2008/9 it was the G20 that embraced stimulus programs, but have you not wondered as I have often wondered – where did the money go that caused the need for stimulus. Some financial investment companies got very, VERY rich by sucking filty lucre out of the economy and leaving dried carcasses behind.
    Since the American derivatives, CDOs and other questionable financial instruments initiated the economic tsunami, I wouldn’t go near the American corner with the proverbial ten-foot pole. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has the right attitude; she’s not in the mood for turning.
    Then there’s George Soros - the man who made a cool billion by betting against the British pound. Once again, I ask the question: Is betting against a country’s soverign debt legal? If it is, it shouldn't be!
    As far back as May, 2010, with the euro tumbling, French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said she wanted politicians to take a united approach against “speculators” betting on government bond defaults. You have a good example of what is happening right there in London:
    Matrix Global Credit Fund, a 110 million-euro fund run by Gennaro Pucci based in London. Matrix gained 20% in April because of bets that Europe’s credit crisis would worsen. Matrix manages about 3 billion pounds including a half-dozen HEDGE funds. “We’re in the aftermath of a financial crisis,” Pucci said. “It’s not unusual for sovereign debt to explode.” And might I add: it’s not unusual for speculators to be sitting right there, like jackels, ready to snap at sovereign debt – even against their own country.
    The measures that have been taken by the EU member states will ultimately reduce the betting fodder for companies like Matrix, but in addition, I think the G-20 must take a close look at negative betting (or any betting) against sovereign debt. A country is not a thing; a country is people, and people are getting hurt.
    Canada isn’t so much opposed to the bank levy as
    1. allowing each country to make its own decision
    2. not interfering or penalizing Canadian bankis which have followed strict financial regulation and do not deserve to be penalyzed.
    Also a decision is required: Once the bank levy is at limit (say $20B) what happens to the additional? Does it get reallocated for social programs, or does this bank levy just grow and grow and grow…
    As Euro Chambers put it, the G20 "must ensure that businesses, especially small ones, have adequate, flexible and efficient access to finance, both from banks and capital markets". You can’t have this access intil banks have been stress-tested and the true level of capitilization ascertained. Banks that do not know their true level of capitilization are afraid to lend.
    So get on with the auditing;
    get on with the stress-testing, and
    make sure results are released as quickly, as transparently as possible.
    The EU is proceeding well...Keep it up.

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  • 10. At 3:22pm on 24 Jun 2010, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    The US has mid-term elections, thus economic recovery is a priority over debt reduction. Big time investors are always in favor of what is good for big time investors and although everyone should reconize that most governments do not.The truth is that deflation is the only senseable action. If the value of most things has been reduced than deflation is the correction that everyone wants to avoid when in reality the property that may have been bought is of lesser value than when purchased, deflation has thus already occured. Because of governmental tax systems they have decided not to recognize reality and instead support illusions. The governments are still in the grips of extortionist banks. It is all rather simple. the middle class drives the exonomies and the middle class was betrayed by both the banks and the governments. The governments and the banks only wish to help each other and therefore have done nothing to help the middle classes nor even protect future investments of the middle classes. The governments are too distant from the people, the banks are untrustworthy and the people recognize both. Neither the governments nor the bankers understand the feeling of betrayal felt by the citizens. No one beleives that these groups will do anything in the interest of the people. Looks more like a meeting of kingdoms trying to decide what to do after the plague. The cheap labor had mostly died, but property was at bargin prices.

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  • 11. At 3:54pm on 24 Jun 2010, Freeborn John wrote:

    The Spartans cast a long shadow. As conquerors of Athens, they enjoyed the respect of the beaten Greeks, with Plato modelling his utopia on their totalitarian dictatorship with its strict class-distinctions (between rules, military and working-class) and harsh practices up to and including eugenics. Karl Popper believed the reputation of Plato in other fields was such that his Utopia was given undue respect until modern times, serving as a model for the militaristic Prussia and German states. Barack Obama should tell Merkel & Co. that the American way is the pursuit of happiness and it does not pass through Sparta.

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  • 12. At 3:54pm on 24 Jun 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    "What the business community wants is a further reduction in trade barriers, but also access to capital. As Euro Chambers put it, the G20 "must ensure that businesses, especially small ones, have adequate, flexible and efficient access to finance, both from banks and capital markets".

    It is a cry for the people who create the jobs to have access to finance. "

    "the people who create jobs" is a delightful term. It is almost as wonderful as "the people who provide finance".

    Anyway, leaving aside this profoundly strange idea that those who create jobs do so by borrowing money, we see here a fascinating insight into the mind of the corporate drone.

    Notice that underneath the discussion of economics, we are dealing with a religious crusade to save folks from the evil within themselves.

    "What the business community wants" is money, clearly. I mean, the hint is in the name. But here we see a report from an institution that declares the business community to be interested in good deeds. "The people who create jobs" are not borrowing money to make money for themselves. Oh no. That would be selfish, greedy and not a matter of saving souls. Therefore we must understand that "the people who create jobs" are really trying to create jobs. That they make money for themselves and borrow money in other people's names which they do not intend to pay back, and live in huge mansions and drive expensive cars, all that is beside the point completely.

    "The people who create jobs", these people have to live with the trappings of wealth DESPITE trying their hardest to save the common people from evil. It must be an extraordinary burden for the poor dears. I mean, the stress and the pain of creating jobs for others, it is pretty much the same as being nailed to a cross. It is little wonder these saviours need access to finance (our money via the political system).

    I was same in the USSR. The country was served by a collection of saviours who went around pleading for "access to finance" so that the could get on with the good work of creating jobs for people. And those poor dears, they also suffered on the cross for our sins. They had to live in huge mansions, drive expensive cars, keep a little on the side for themselves and so on. The burdens of being a saviour are considerable.

    Well, I'm thankful and slightly relieved that "the people who create jobs" have such a firm grip on the political economy of europe.

    Imagine how distressing it would be if "the people who create jobs" suddenly stopped saving souls and concentrated only on making money for themselves! Imagine that, for a moment.

    Who would control the political economy? Who would provide the finance for the saving of souls?

    I mean, think about it for a moment. Think hard. Who would save the souls, if the elite suddenly gave up control of the political economy and focused only on making money for themselves? Who would do the good work that needs doing?

    The answer is that nobody would save those souls, and they would all go to hell. We can't have that, for it would make the baby jesus cry, and so we need "the people who create jobs" to have access to finance. Other people's finance.

    Still, it does make a person wonder about the world. I was just thinking that if I had access to finance, I could create a few jobs myself. Give me enough finance, and I could employ everybody at a million euro's a year!

    Until the finance ran out, of course.

    But anyway, I'd be saving souls like crazy until the money did run out, and maybe it wouldn't run out. Maybe it would just sort of keep appearing, like magic, almost as if someone somewhere were printing it on paper with big machines.

    Imagine that! Imagine how many souls a person could save if that were the case! There would be no end to the saving of souls, and everyone would be able to sit on a cloud with jesus and sing happy songs after they die.

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  • 13. At 4:01pm on 24 Jun 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    BluesBerry wrote:
    "You can’t have this access intil banks have been stress-tested and the true level of capitilization ascertained. Banks that do not know their true level of capitilization are afraid to lend.
    So get on with the auditing;
    get on with the stress-testing, and
    make sure results are released as quickly, as transparently as possible."

    And suddenly everything is clear to me!

    All we need to do is tell the bankers how much money they have, and then they will know. Then they will get on with the good work of lending it out, and those who create jobs can get on with the saving of souls.

    So simple! So easy. Why didn't someone else think of this?

    It's brilliant, really. bluesberry has isolated that the problem is fundamentally that bankers don't know how much money they have. The poor dears.

    It must make it the devil of a job to lend money to others, when you don't know whether you've even got any to lend. And it must be dreadfully difficult socially, to go to parties and say that you are a banker, but then to agree that in all honesty you have no idea whether you have any money, or whether the whole banking game is a based on myth and superstition.

    I think we definitely need to get cracking, implementing this solution right away.

    I propose that Hewitt and Bluesberry team up and go down to the ECB and start counting the money. When they have finished, they can then tell the bankers how much money they have, and then the bankers can breath easy again and start lending to those who create the jobs.

    Problem solved!

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  • 14. At 4:32pm on 24 Jun 2010, Scott0962 wrote:

    "New Spartans"? Somehow I can't see Merkel and the others dying to the last man to prove anything. If they had that kind of discipline they would have expelled Greece from the Euro Zone long before the Greek debt reached crisis proportions.

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  • 15. At 4:40pm on 24 Jun 2010, Conor O Neill wrote:

    All the talk is about frugality over extra spending, USA vs Europe. To classify Europe as one in this situation, even just the Eurozone masks the imbalances within the Eurozone as it is, with spendthrift Germany and profligate Greece. The question should not be about more spending vs frugality and about overcoming the imbalances between nations, of getting the US to reduce their debt and export more and for Germany to spend more for example. The greatest way of preventing Soros's fear is to do that within the Eurozone, get Germany to buy more and so forth

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  • 16. At 4:41pm on 24 Jun 2010, Bro_Winky wrote:

    11. At 3:54pm on 24 Jun 2010, Freeborn John wrote:

    Barack Obama should tell Merkel & Co. that the American way is the pursuit of happiness and it does not pass through Sparta.

    --------------------------------

    Unfortunately this American "pursuit of happiness" often encourages the dim-witted to live above their means and expend great effort to acquire and consume as many superficial ego-stroking commodities as possible...

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  • 17. At 5:12pm on 24 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    And so it goes on...

    The drip-drip-drip... of the EUropean Union effecting a complete break with the USA.

    It is a time for Europeans to think very, very carefully about the new path they are letting the EU dictate for them: By that of course, I refer to the axis-of-ill-intent, Paris-Brussels-Berlin whose ambitions post-Maastricht could only have that conclusion.

    I'm quite sure many of the 'pro-EU' will pile in with how EUrope doesn't need the USA and all the rest of their strategically naive & historically ill-founded, short-term memory bias!

    That the USA in a not too distant future could do very well without the century old ties to Continental EUrope is Economically-Demographically-Geographically-Militarily easily demonstrated.

    Quite what Budapest, Athens, Lisbon, Copenhagen etc. will do when it is Berlin-Paris calling all the Economic-Fiscal-Political-Military muscle sur le continent is something still to be divined.

    I get the feeling Brussels bossed by the 'axis' is again running well ahead of many of its EU Citizens' opinions in its desire to irrevocably step away from the USA.
    For me I have 2 thoughts on the matter: Good, because it will all the sooner bring to a head the clash between the aspirations & expectations of the Citizens and the greed, corruption & anti-democratic machinations of EUrope's present Leadership; and then again, I feel sadness because in all truth the EUropean Union could have been such a marvellous vehicle for unity and effecting democratic change beneficial to not just EUrope, but also to the World.
    Instead, we have these intellectually impoverished, glib-minded Politicians whose selfish desire for unsupported & untrammelled authority & wealth has led them into a political cul de sac whereby to maintain what they have they must continue around & around proclaiming 'freedom' to all as with each step they remove it from their Citizens' sight and experience.

    We shall see: In the long-term I fear the worst and expect nothing more.

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  • 18. At 5:22pm on 24 Jun 2010, modernJan wrote:

    I don't like the idea of a banking levy as the banks would just pass the extra costs on to the customer.

    I do appreciate the way Europe is cleaning house: establishing the "3% deficit rule" was a very wise thing to do but it will all be for nothing if the Americans and Chinese just change the rules of the game to annihilate the world's debts and it would be nice if countries (like Greece) didn't lie about their real debt.

    Is it too much to ask for countries to live within their means? Either it's possible to have a functioning society without a deficit which would mean there is no excuse for having a deficit or it is not possible to have a functioning society without a deficit in which we must ask ourselves "who are we kidding"? Why not overhaul the system until it makes sense?

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  • 19. At 5:54pm on 24 Jun 2010, Benefactor wrote:

    @ 18 modernJan

    Those that absorb more of the cost of the levy themselves will gain Business from those who don't, evening out the cut to profits that come from the levy.

    In theory.

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  • 20. At 6:02pm on 24 Jun 2010, Benefactor wrote:

    @11

    Your free to pursue as much happiness as you want in Europe, it's just that your going to have to actually pursue it rather than get it handed to you.

    Anyway, that quite an odd statement... This is Europe, you don't have to ever worry about health-care, being homeless or going hungry. On top of that unless you really screw up your job is generally quite secure. You would think with all these worries lifted the pursuit of happiness is a lot easier in Europe, no?

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  • 21. At 7:01pm on 24 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Re #20

    Unemployment at an average above 10% across EUrope & for under-25 averaging 14%; some 30,000,000 Unemployed across the EUro-zone and another 20 million across the other 11. Hundreds of unhoused, destitute in every lartge City of UK & mainland EUrope. Millions of trafficked vulnerable men, women & children.

    However, in Your EUrope, "..You don't ever have to worry.."!

    Strange, I think I'm living in some other EUrope from You!

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  • 22. At 7:22pm on 24 Jun 2010, Buzet23 wrote:

    So Obama doesn't like these Austerity measures, that simply says to me he is scared they will affect the sales of US materials to the EU, that sounds like for once the EU country's are on the right track!

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  • 23. At 7:58pm on 24 Jun 2010, Oblivion wrote:

    #12 Democracythreat

    Ha! That was a piece of genius. I think I might have to try and find a way of RSS subscribing to your posts.

    According to what I have read, debt-money can continue to increase in supply if it is accompanied by corresponding levels of wealth, happiness, prosperity, productivity, occupation etc. If the debt-money is used to speculate on assets - leveraged asset speculation - then the result is prices driven up artificially in bubbles, which break leaving losses, the end result being a net increase in debt burden without the accompaniying social improvement/stimulus/etc. The debt levels rise compared to GDP. Eventually this results in a breakdown, as the debt levels become unsustainable.

    In essence it is the use of debt-money to speculate that causes long term general unhappiness and eventual crisis.

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  • 24. At 8:07pm on 24 Jun 2010, Oblivion wrote:

    #18 ModernJan

    I think the EU is on the one hand momentarily bowing to pressure from the pro-US wing (IMF, World Bank, large institutional speculators) to show that they are not leaning to the left politically. By cutting public spending they are attempting to avoid social shifts to the left, at long term economic expense - the problem is not public spending, but private sector failures resulting in drops in real GDP.

    It is also on the other hand resisting such market fundamentalist forces by circumventing the markets to buy up T-Bonds around the EU, and sell off the gains in other forms, to prevent institutional speculators from attacking EU nations whilst keeping levels of liquidity at the same levels.

    Most importantly however, the mixed signals, delays over the T-Bill purchase fix for Greece and Spain, delays over the bailouts, presenting fictional worry about public debt levels (private debt levels are of much more concern), and so on, serve one purpose: to intentionally devalue the Euro.

    By devaluing the Euro export nations like Germany gain employment and revenue, and it is also one in the eye for the USA, who hoped to benefit from exports to Asia, which will be taking advantage of an appreciated Yuan and devalued Euro to buy top of the range Beemers and Mercs...

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  • 25. At 8:29pm on 24 Jun 2010, threnodio_II wrote:

    #21 - cool_brush_work

    I see Benefactor's point. In a modern welfare state, unemployment should not mean destitution. You are right about the urban dispossessed throughout Europe but many of these are people supporting - or failing to support - a habit such as drug or alcohol addiction. Some actually prefer living on the streets. The numbers who have absolutely no choice are relatively small in the west. In Eastern Europe, things are harder because there is nothing quite like Housing Benefit so, if you can't afford rent, you may have no choices. However, there is absolutely no reason why anyone should go without proper health care (except, for some peculiar reason, dentistry).

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  • 26. At 8:34pm on 24 Jun 2010, Oblivion wrote:

    Democracythreat

    Any system of interacting elements, in general terms, will adopt a non-uniform structure if there are costs associated with interaction. If elements tend towards minimising communication distances, then a non-uniform structure will form. The areas of concentration are described locally as centralisation.

    This general principal applies to everything, describing structures such as cities and countries, gravitation, wealth concentrations and more.

    It will probably be something worth considering when refining the architecture of a system that enables democracy for the demos.

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  • 27. At 8:41pm on 24 Jun 2010, CrazyYank wrote:

    "Unfortunately this American "pursuit of happiness" often encourages the dim-witted to live above their means and expend great effort to acquire and consume as many superficial ego-stroking commodities as possible."

    Don't go down our road, friends in Europe. We Americans have blown it and are in decline, a nation with far too many anti-intellectual fat people, many of them religious fanatics, who all want services and an easy life without paying for them. Then there is the rise of their political movement, this "Tea Party" of middle-aged angry white folks, a veneer of anti-government philosophy put over a cauldron of racism and selfishness.

    Austerity is awful, but it is better than hyper-consumption based on debt: that has been the US model of late, and it's doomed.

    My trips to Spain, Greece, England, and Turkey in the last decade showed me that at least the Brits and Europeans are not as fat or religious. But they have been living beyond their means in other ways. No, I did not see giant SUVs and jet-skis in front of everyone's flats, but I did see a lot of "living large" that tends to have a way of biting back.

    We are in this together, and it's a world economy. I just wish we'd all acted smarter when times were good.

    The tragedy of President Obama, one of our brightest, is that he cannot save a sinking behemoth. May all of you fare better. Good luck.

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  • 28. At 8:41pm on 24 Jun 2010, threnodio_II wrote:

    #22 - Buzet23

    Actually, I dislike the word 'austerity'. It is the current buzzword for what the noble Baroness used to call good housekeeping. I think cuts in real terms of benefits are probably both unnecessary and unjust given that most of us have stonked up our premiums in the form of NI payments but we are all living longer and staying fitter later in life and I can see no reason for not working an extra year or two if we are able to.

    Cutting the cost of government, though, has to be a good thing. There are thousands of totally unnecessary jobs being done throughout Europe for no better reason than to keep the boys in work, not least within the EU bureaucracy itself.

    Obahma is, I would think, right to a point. Years of stagnation and the ghastly prospect of 'stagflation' could follow if we overdo it. So long as efficiency savings go further than simply cutting down on pot plants and relaxation suites, then we really could do a hatchet job on public expenditure without causing real pain in the wider community.

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  • 29. At 8:56pm on 24 Jun 2010, modernJan wrote:

    "19. At 5:54pm on 24 Jun 2010, Benefactor wrote:
    @ 18 modernJan

    Those that absorb more of the cost of the levy themselves will gain Business from those who don't, evening out the cut to profits that come from the levy.

    In theory."

    So are you saying people will just switch to banks that don't "coincidentally" start charging higher rates for their services the second the levy comes into place? Because I don't buy that: I think the bankers will just have some secret meeting somewhere in Switzerland where they agree to all raise their rates, this would give some banks the levy money back while others just cash in a little extra, everyone's happy, except the common man who doesn't own a bank.

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  • 30. At 9:05pm on 24 Jun 2010, faeyth wrote:

    Europe and China are hoping the U.S. passes another stimulus so they can peddle their goods here.Hoping Americans continue to hold up the rest of you.That's exactly why I am against more stimulus unless it's given directly to U.S. states to pass out because most have buy American clauses that the Federal government doesn't.Banking we already paid for the Banking crises with our tax dollars,as well as shipping money transfers through the Federal Reserve to Europe for your Euro problem and through the IMF.China wants us to borrow more off them,again I say we if do release more debt have a America only bond sold directly through stores like lotto tickets only to U.S. citizens to avoid foreign purchases or a Patriot tax.Try solving your own problems with out U.S. taxpayers money for a change.And by the way no one told Euro Banks they had to invest in American Banking and mortgages,Canada didn't because of their regulations on their banks.So as I see it it was a failure of both banking systems,but it seems U.S. taxpayers are the only ones willing to take responsibility for Worlds economy crises.Boomer retirement is going to hurt real soon,much worse for Europe and Asian nations like Japan and China than the U.S. or Canada.If Europe won't pass stimulus than I don't think U.S. should either.

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  • 31. At 10:07pm on 24 Jun 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    modernJan wrote:
    "I don't like the idea of a banking levy as the banks would just pass the extra costs on to the customer."

    The irony within this comment is deep. I mean, modernJan is correct. That is exactly what banks will do. But why, and how, can this happen? Why are governments powerless over banks?

    Put it another way: why can't modernJan just pass on the costs of his own taxes to the banks? Just send them an invoice and a note saying, 'Hi, I think you should pay my taxes for me because i don't want to pay them. Find the particulars enclosed. thanks.'

    Well, clearly that would be absurd, but in practical terms it cannot happen because, haha, the bank would simply not pay the invoice. They would ignore it, and if taken to court they would say, correctly, there are no legal grounds for the claim.

    The customers of banks cannot do this. The banks hold their money, and they simply take it. That is now considered lawful behaviour in the UK. If you or I did it to them, we'd go to jail. A judge would call us horrible criminals, and say that we represent a danger to society and a disgrace to our parents. But such is the recent evolution of the caste based society in the common law world that there is barely even a civil action remedy against outright theft by banks. If the bank takes your money without asking, that is their right at law. If you feel they have no good reason, you must prove your case and pay for that expense.

    The idea that a policeman would walk into a bank and put the cuffs onto a bank manager for taking money without permission is laughable. And that is a major, major problem in western society. It is laughable that wealthy people or their hired guns should be exposed to the criminal law. The idea is so strange, we laugh.

    If you ever want to witness the very definition of uncomfortable, watch a uniformed policeman inside a corporate law office. A priest at an orgy could not have a greater sense of being out of his proper place.

    But the way banks can alter interest rates at will is the real mechanism by which the shareholders of banks rule the economy. They cannot lose. Even when they do lose all their money by lending it to folks who can't pay it back, they get gifts from the government to keep them afloat. Why? Because banks can send the entire economic edifice crashing downwards simply by raising interest rates and recovering their money that way. Politicians know this, and so over the past twenty years or so years an unholy alliance between bankers and politicians has developed. Banker agree to keep rates low, whilst party members of all parties agree to tow the philosophical and policy demands of the banks shareholders. We call that democracy, when the spirit moves us to poetic flights of fancy.

    Now it is the common law which proclaims the rights of bankers to politicians, and the common law is the judiciary. Having an independent judiciary is accepted as crucial when we talk about modern governments establishing the rule of law, but most folks think radical politicians are the only group in any society who might like to exert influence on the judiciary. That is shortsighted. If anyone wants to do some curious research, they should draft a schematic showing the family connections between the major shareholders of banks and the judiciary.

    There is deemed to be no conflict of interest here, on the grounds that one can only be a conflict of interests between one's individual fortunes and other interests. The idea of conflicting interests involving loyalties to family fortunes and class is beyond the scope of regulation by, haha, the independent judiciary.

    In the west there are bank owning families, and then there are party members, and then there is the mass of common folks. These groups do not operate under the same rule of law. These groups do not exist in the same political economy as each other. They all have separate economic outcomes from the same events. We are not all in this together.

    modernJan wrote:
    "Is it too much to ask for countries to live within their means? Either it's possible to have a functioning society without a deficit which would mean there is no excuse for having a deficit or it is not possible to have a functioning society without a deficit in which we must ask ourselves "who are we kidding"? Why not overhaul the system until it makes sense?"

    But it makes more than sense: it makes dollars and cents, pounds and pence. To answer the questions you pose, first you need to specify which caste of human being you are asking. We are not all in this together, despite the happy chatter of the BBC. Here is what I mean:

    1. "Is it too much to ask for countries to live within their means?"

    Bank shareholder: Absolutely that is too much to ask. If countries don't borrow money, tax revenue will then be used to build infrastructure and maybe even invested in order to actually reduce the future burden of taxation. It will not be spent on interest payments for debt, and that would mean a truly vast amount of taxpayers' money NOT being paid to bank shareholders for doing absolutely nothing at all. I mean, really. We do nothing for this income. We're not even taking a risk by lending this money! And you want to change that???? Foolishness. Anyway, countries do not have means. We do. Countries borrow their means from us. That is rather the entire point. It is what they are for. It is why we invented them. First we made banks, then we made nations. That was the chronology, which you can verify if you wish. Prior to nations and banks, we got by with Kingdoms and the church. Learn your history, if you must insist upon asking questions which are above your proper station in life.

    Party member: What he said.

    Common worker drone: My country plays football, and smiles a lot. It is very big and strong and other countries are frightened and impressed by my country. My country loves me, and I love my country. What are "means"?

    2. "who are we kidding"?

    Bank shareholder: Well.

    Party member: That is what we do, yes.

    Common worker drone: The other, weaker countries. It is a competition, see. Whoever tells the most outrageous lies gets to host the next football tournament. My country is very big and strong and loves me and I love it and so on and so forth.

    3. "Why not overhaul the system until it makes sense?"

    Bank shareholder: Why don't you go and overhaul your own system, instead of poking your nose where it doesn't belong? Private property means freedom, and we own this political economy. Get your own.

    Party member: We did. I mean, that is what we do, when the cameras stop rolling and the media people go get their lush on. Check out the EU. Now that makes far better sense than the other system of representation in the member states. People only get upset if you pretend to listen to them. In a "democracy" you need to include people without listening to them. It's tricky. We're always working on that model, and refining it.

    Common worker drone: My country is very big and strong and loves me and I love it and if anyone says anything bad about my country well then I am ready to kill them and their children in order to show the world how much I care. And if my country decides to pay me money to do this, well that is true love. I like explosions and parades nearly as much as football.

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  • 32. At 10:07pm on 24 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    ThrenodioII

    Re #25

    I certainly am not one who subscribes to the silly notion UK-EUrope is heading for the 3rd world in terms of living standards. Still, I feel the lack of a more even distribution of the wealth of the region has left a substantial under-class across the length & breadth of the Continent & Isles.
    Again, I would certainly state this under-class is nowhere as prevalent or enduring the misery of the same unfortunate group in the USA, however it is there for all to see and it is not a pretty sight.

    I doubt they are principally made up of drug-alcohol abusers etc. though that is a causation along with mental illness, but it is my contention many of these destitute are suffering from 2 vital needs: A stable family environment and reasonable education.
    Those 2 key social factors seriously affect job & housing opportunities.

    The last 3 decades have seen UK & EUrope become increasingly reliant on high skilled-intelligence-based Economies: The non-stop influx of a pool of immigrants eager for any work has seen them fill many basic services roles that ironically some significant portion of the under-educated & unstable British-European Citizens believe is now beneath them though they are generally unfit/unsuited for anything else!

    The professional, street-wise Roma-Gipsy beggar is a far cry ("...Big Issue..") from the down-and-outs I see in my travels through Stockholm-London-Paris-Madrid-Rome-Amsterdam-Berlin etc. milling about in parks, rail-bus-metro terminals, derelict sites etc. amid the general urban sprawl. Apart from Estonia & the Czech Republic, both of which appear to suffer the same Societal fall/drop-outs I do not know much of East Europe these days so take Your word for what presents as a problem in that region.

    What I do not accept is Benefactor's rather complacent disregard for what amounts to millions of under-privileged who for whatever reason can be found across the British Isles & EUrope in far too great a number.

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  • 33. At 10:49pm on 24 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Yesterday found out an interesting thing (ab money) (borrowing) (what else :o)))

    Bank and money lenders (the ancient stuff, who accept golden rings as an insurance for money return) - charge the same! (here, important note).

    10,000 roubles overdraft on salary pay card. (formal, allowed, and by all means encouraged by the bank to use :o)
    So, 10,000 roubles borrowed from a bank for a month. I had to return from the next salary 10,000 + 1,480 roubles.

    So far so bad.

    Then, evacuating ear-rings and stuff from money lenders. 6,000 roubles borrowed for a month. No, not even a month, 25 days.

    6,000 + 780 roubles - to get little things back.

    I though how strange; money lenders avdertise "just 0.4% of the sum a day". Just 0.4 - and 780 is more than 10% of 6,000!
    ? Then I understood. 1 day = 0.4%, 10 days = 4%, 20 days = 8%, 30 days a month = 12% !

    So, I am, like an idiot, borrowing money at 12% a month! What is that a year I didn't even count :o))), stopped at 12% a month :o)))) Scary to think.

    But if money lenders charge 12% a month - must be the nice and big and theoretically all modern and decent bank, one of the largest in Russia - also charges me 12% a month!

    Some robbers all around.

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  • 34. At 10:50pm on 24 Jun 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    modernJan wrote:
    "So are you saying people will just switch to banks that don't "coincidentally" start charging higher rates for their services the second the levy comes into place? Because I don't buy that: I think the bankers will just have some secret meeting somewhere in Switzerland where they agree to all raise their rates, this would give some banks the levy money back while others just cash in a little extra, everyone's happy, except the common man who doesn't own a bank."

    Why would the bankers go to Switzerland to hold a secret meeting? Is it because in other countries the police are hot on their heels, and the odds of being busted by a sting operation are so incredibly high? I mean, sure. So many bankers get nailed by the cops these days. You see it everywhere. Just yesterday I saw a police van rolling away full to the brim with bankers. I was thinking to myself, gee, these poor British bankers, they are really being targeted by the law. No wonder they need secret meetings.

    Meh. I don't buy into that at all, modernJan. For a start, I live in Switzerland and this is the only country on earth with a functioning democracy. There is no higher rank than "citizen" here. We don't have Lords and Barons and Queens and Princesses and so on, and certainly not a noble class who own banks.

    The UK, by contrast, does. And they don't need to come here to Switzerland to hold their "secret meetings". They meet in the house of lords, and they are very clear and open about how they intend to behave. If they intend to do something with the firm, they test the matter in the courts. If the courts do not give the right answer, they work on that until it does.

    Look, I can't get behind the conspiracy theory of politics. There is no secret room with six men in it making plans for the entire world. I don't believe it is possible. Firstly, people are creative and wonderful but nobody is that smart. Secondly, once you understand how various political economies actually function, in detail, then it becomes unnecessary to resort to conspiracy theories to explain what goes on.

    For example, a lot of people think the USA went to war in Iraq because of oil, or because Bush wanted to revenge the attempt on his fathers' life. But the truth is that the USA went to war because congress voted overwhelmingly for the idea. The idea had been in existence for over a decade. The USA pays huge numbers of folks to write up invasion plans for every country on earth. They wear uniforms and are called "the military". But because of "events", most of the time congress will not back a war. When "events" conspire to create a climate where war can light up, they do so with the idiot non sentience of the weather.

    That is why the military industrial complex is such a profoundly evil and despicable set of institutions. Not because of conspiracies, but because there are non.

    Congress is just a bunch of folks who are thinking a whole range of different things at any given time. When you have a massive industry based on warfare, of course that industry will lobby for public spending. That doesn't mean they will lobby for war (they do) all the time, but it does mean there are always economic winners from war. And where there are economic winners, there is campaign sponsorship. And so where you have the industry for war, you will also find the political incentive to go to war. And when the public sentiment is outraged or frightened or otherwise attuned to national conflict, then you have "events" which conspire and result in war.

    And it the same with the banking system. the bankers will not have a secret meeting to agree to increase their fees. Why? Because that is not how they do. It isn't how they roll. The bank owners hate each other, and they all think they are the only people capable of running a bank properly. there is no way you could get them all to agree on anything.

    But the structure of the political economy in the UK means they have superior powers than government. Unlike government, which is ruled by laws and procedures that limit the power of the participants profoundly, the owners of banks are used to being privileged people who can, quite literally, take what they want because they are the owners of everything.

    there is a term in English law called "radical title". It refers to the crown's ownership of everything within the Kingdom. Under the traditions of the European nobility, one of whom is the current British head of state, whensoever a king or queen conquered a new territory with their armies, they obtained "radical title" over everything conquered. Now this means they have power of ownership, but it does not mean that the inhabitants lose any access to what was formally their property. The nature of radical title is that it exists "behind" all other titles to property. In a way it is an extension of the dictum attributed to Julius Caesar, when he executed one of his soldiers who would not give him the looted sword of an enemy general, claiming it as his property by right. Caesar is said to have said, after he killed the man, "What is yours is yours, but you are mine."

    So the radical title of the crown is like that: what is your is yours, but you are theirs.

    Now this was the law when the Normans conquered England in 1066, and if you want to read all about how radical title works then that is a great place to learn. Curiously, the British have not be as quick to grant other people's the same legal treatment as they received from the Norman invaders a thousand years ago.

    In America, native were denied radical title on a routine basis, and in Australia there was a near complete genocide of an entire continent after the natives were dispossessed. I mention that genocide because one can read a fascinating account of radical title in the court cases which deal with the Australian aborigines right to land. The property benefits for native people which are supposed to exist after the crown exerts its radical title over conquered territories were not granted to the Australian aboriginals because they were not human beings at law.

    Now this is true. It is not a secret. Up until 1974, aboriginals in Australia were legally designated as non humans. They were considered to be a different kind of animals to human beings, and Australia was legally declared to be "terra nullius", which mean an empty land, devoid of human inhabitants. That legal declaration was important, because it opened the way for the subsequent genocide and stealing of property by the English invaders. And as I say, that was the law in Australia until 1974. Britain never bothered to change it. The queen of england is also the head of state for Australia, by the way, so this is certainly on topic.

    Her family is a major shareholder in RBS bank, and she is related to most other royalty in Europe, and they are also the major shareholders of banks with operations that stretch across the globe.

    These people do not have secret meetings. They certainly don't have them in Switzerland. When they want something, you had better believe they feel entitled to take it, and you should know that any judge enforcing the law will defend their right to do it. These people with their titles, they own their countries. they own their people. That is the law, and furthermore it is the tradition.

    Western Europe is not america, and it is not Switzerland.

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  • 35. At 10:51pm on 24 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    One will become a Spartan, this way. Wllingly or unwillingly :o)))))

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  • 36. At 10:53pm on 24 Jun 2010, Ellinas wrote:

    Another funny title as yesterday. Sounds nearly like British-black humor.

    The last 2 years and more (if not always) the British people are been trained by their media that Greeks were far away behind them in social-economical matters...nothing more false. A modern country is a country with a long history and Greeks are 2000 years far away in History than the British are.


    Whenever you turn your mind ...there is Greece...The one day we are for you Athens in majesty & dissolution and the day after the Spartans in austerity. Whatever you do, you will always find us in front of you in matters of life-solutions...Remember! We have 1000 different ancient city state systems to rely upon...not to mention the rest like the different political systems:

    ...Democracy, Monarchy, Tyranny, Oligarchy, Aristocracy, Hegemony, Plutocracy, Autocracy, Ochlocracy, Anarchy, Demarchy, Timocracy, gerontocracy, Patriarchy, Androcracy, Gynecocracy, Thalassocracy, Nomocracy...

    Timeless Greece...Enjoy!

    Now that you read that...you can go, again, back to your fancy economical comments.

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  • 37. At 11:05pm on 24 Jun 2010, Scott0962 wrote:

    America has been living beyond it's means for decades. It is no longer the manufacturing giant it once was, too many jobs have been lost to cheaper foreign labor in places like Mexico, China or India. Our grandparents used to save up and buy items with cash, our parents used to put things on laway and pick them up when they were paid for, today's generation puts it on plastic, instant gratification: buy now, pay later and the banks encourage it because it puts people in thrall to them. Interest rates are so low there is little financial incentive to save more. The American economy is broken and all the president can think to do is throw money at it and bail out failing corporations, further undermining the vitality of the economy with survival not of the fittest but of the "too big to fail".

    It would take a major shift in attitude to turn things around but our leaders haven't the guts to tell people they can't have everything they want when they want it. We could use some Spartan discipline here.

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  • 38. At 11:21pm on 24 Jun 2010, ninetofivegrind wrote:

    Ever see "Meet the Spartans"? For those of you who are far more cultured than me and have not, it's a parody on the film 300.

    There's a great scene of the Spartans skipping off to war, holding hands singing "I will survive"....

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  • 39. At 11:25pm on 24 Jun 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    Oblivion wrote:
    "Democracythreat

    Any system of interacting elements, in general terms, will adopt a non-uniform structure if there are costs associated with interaction. If elements tend towards minimising communication distances, then a non-uniform structure will form. The areas of concentration are described locally as centralisation.

    This general principal applies to everything, describing structures such as cities and countries, gravitation, wealth concentrations and more.

    It will probably be something worth considering when refining the architecture of a system that enables democracy for the demos."

    That is a pretty neat description of the evolution of systems based on the second law of thermodynamics (systems lose entropy over time), and for sure it is worth considering. But in terms of identifying a better model for the political economy of the English speaking people and their conquered territories (guten tag!), I would hesitate to draw too heavily on the evolution of non sentient systems.

    Firstly, I would hesitate because scientific reductionism can be absolutely dreadful for human beings, and ought to be strenuously avoided in politic and law. Once you start analyzing human being with reference to non living, non thinking systems, the temptation is to treat them as components of such a system. Then you end up with charming ideas like the sterilization of black women in America during the 1930's, and the liquidation of the disabled in Germany over the same period. One should be aware of the surprising (to me anyways) statistic that the Nazi parties in both the USA and Germany had overwhelming numbers of scientists in their ranks. Curiously, biological scientists were nearly all members of the nazi party in germany. I mean, it is a staggering proportion, upwards of 80%, as I recall from what I've read on that topic.

    I'm not saying you can't trust a biologist, or that they are all nasty folks. You just don't want them controlling the political economy and the law. Society becomes a lab for whacky theories very quickly, and power is as power does. We are human first and foremost, and scientists only as an embellishment to that fundamental design.

    Secondly, i would hesitate to formulate a design for political economy because to do so is an act o staggering hubris. I have a very high opinion of my own intelligence, but the idea that i could dream up, from first principles, a perfect system of government, fills me with mirth. I don't think anyone can do that, though obviously history does have its visionaries. I'm not one, and I don't know of any currently living.

    What I can suggest, however, is that we already have a better system of political behaviour already tested and proven to work exceedingly well. It is called "democracy", and it can be found in Switzerland. I'm told they also have it in California, but I have only be there very briefly and know not much about that law and system.

    But I can say from personal experience that democracy does appear to work. When people vote on the laws under which they live, instead of taking part in elaborate choreographed elections that install "representatives" who have been preselected by a privileged elite, the effects on society are profound. War industries die off. Human rights are taken very seriously, as are animal rights. Government spending is incredibly productive, and tax rates are about as low as it is possible to find. And the standard of living is amazing. I mean, truly an amazing standard, across the whole society.

    So i would say we don;t need to think to hard about how to create a better system for the western political economy. All we really need to do is look at existing alternatives. Now once you realize that Switzerland sits right at the very heart of the EU project, and has done for 150 years with this profoundly advanced society, it becomes impossible, in my view, to accept that there exists a will towards a better system. I don't see any will towards a better system in the west. I wish I did, but I don't. And that is hardly surprising. Those who run the current system do very, very well out of it. Those who don't are conditioned to love it like a family member, and there even seems to be some kind of innate servile behaviour in human beings which shuts people's minds to the possibility of change for the better. Perhaps it is simply fear. I don't know.

    But I do know that life in Switzerland is better than anywhere else I've been, and I understand how the law here works to make that so.

    Essentially democracy defeats the concentration of political power, and I would submit that power does concentrate itself over time.

    Now here I come back to your original point (degree of difficulty for this maneuver: 9.8), by claiming to have isolated precisely this pattern of systems evolving in order to maximize internal energy efficiencies.

    But my point would be that the challenge is to defeat this entropy, to defeat the "way of the inanimate world", and most of all to defeat the tendency of political power to concentrate itself and to corrupt those who wield it. Even in Switzerland that is an ongoing battle, as I suspect it must alway be, but the fundamental principle at work is fairly easy to understand.

    Democracy disperses power by giving everyone an equal chance to change the laws under which they must live. It does nothing EXCEPT disperse power. And it is this which prevents corruption, and the economic predators who have turned Europe and the USA into a society at odds with itself.

    Democracy is good stuff. We should try it one time.

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  • 40. At 11:41pm on 24 Jun 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    Mr. Hewitt, a very very good piece.

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  • 41. At 00:25am on 25 Jun 2010, threnodio_II wrote:

    #32 - cool_brush_work

    There is a lot in what you say and I would certainly want to see ome of these issues addressed. It is the case, for example, that cash strapped local authorities doe not have financial resources but many of them are sitting on a lot of empty real estate which is usable. I would also enter a plea for health authorities to stop pouring the mentally challenged and recovering addict out on the street because they are not considered dangerous but where they are very vulnerable, likely to regress and behave antisocially. This, alas, was copied from Britain. Remember care in the community? Get out in the community and care for yourself more like. The equation is fairly simple, however. Many of these people can be helped but not at the same time as local government funding is being frozen and the middle class tax payer is struggling to stay in the game. There has to be a shift in the burden of taxation and the very well off will simply have to put their hands in their pockets.

    The utility companies have a role to play here as well. If every household were given sufficient free water, energy and drainage to have a shower every day, cook a square meal and heat a room properly and a proper commercial rate was charged for excess units for watering acres of gardens or running multiple entertainments centres, the saving on disconnection, re connections and court applications alone wold save enough to pay for it. Ending line rentals and local call charges so everyone can call the police or a doctor free of charge would help. These are redistributive measures which do mean tinkering with tax system and would help greatly.

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  • 42. At 00:41am on 25 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    "disperse power"

    "to defeat the tendency of political power to concentrate itself and to corrupt those who wield it"

    would be so lovely.

    I suppose all've got own examples; I used to have a colleague; on a scale Normal - Sweetest man in the world :o) or, say, simply a friendlier than usually chap. Anyway, if that scale is ? 1-10, say, ranking 3-4. An alright man, and kind of human. We worked in one company for ab 5 yrs, in the same dpt, so there was time to get acquainted.

    That's it. Judging by the side signals :o)) - gone. Void. A Minister now.
    Stone face. Stone interviews in media. Attendance of old company reunion parties - nil. Replies to e-mail - nil. Nevermind me, just a colleague, but to people to who he ought to be much obliged in career making. Sad.
    Wife and 2 kids left behind, in the "old" city. Now all in Moscow, new status, all new :o)))))

    I would have never believed such hocus-pocus turn-around is possible.
    I still don't :o))))))))))))))

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  • 43. At 02:34am on 25 Jun 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    threnodio wrote:
    "The utility companies have a role to play here as well. If every household were given sufficient free water, energy and drainage to have a shower every day, cook a square meal and heat a room properly and a proper commercial rate was charged for excess units for watering acres of gardens or running multiple entertainments centres, the saving on disconnection, re connections and court applications alone wold save enough to pay for it. Ending line rentals and local call charges so everyone can call the police or a doctor free of charge would help. These are redistributive measures which do mean tinkering with tax system and would help greatly."

    So, you see the answer as being best provided by large government. If only we can think of the right "good ideas", then those wonderful, honest, caring, giving politicians will do the sensible thing for everyone.

    For my taste, this is no better than the earlier suggestion that the thing to do is to count the money and then tell the bankers how much they have. Then they will know and start lending again.

    The problem is that both ideas presuppose that government is not a means of one group making money from another group in society. Both ideas presuppose that government in the west is honest, and both are utterly blind to the possibility that many very wealthy people make vast fortunes from the way government is run. Given how western society has evolved, I find that presumption untenable.

    I also find it self serving, insofar as it is self serving to belief something nice which clearly isn't true.

    That is the English way, is it not? Stiff upper lip and put on a good front and flog the conscripts until moral improves. All cry god for harry, england and st george. And don't be lower class and discuss politics seriously, or indeed discuss anything not of your proper station in life.

    Until I start seeing a discussion that asks some fundamental questions about who benefited from the debt and how, I don't believe there is even the slightest hint of desire to confront the truth of the situation.

    I mean, what is the first question a detective asks when investigating a murder?

    "Who benefits?" It is so old, it was used in roman times: qui bono

    But we never see that in the media. Never. Never once did Hewitt ask who got rich from the greek debt crisis. Never once does the media name and shame those who profit most from government contracts.

    why? Because they don't want to know. They want to chatter and twitter and be ever so intelligent at parties, but they don't really want to look at the system and understand it. They want to believe in faries at the bottom of the garden, and that when they die Jesus will give them a gold star and say, in English, "you were one of the better guys, and your country was actually my favourite".

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  • 44. At 03:59am on 25 Jun 2010, Gerd Boettcherm wrote:

    "We may not even need to believe this,
    but we don't even have anything to ad to this,
    at this time."

    Voynich (psychic reading)

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  • 45. At 05:23am on 25 Jun 2010, opinion wrote:

    "43. At 02:34am on 25 Jun 2010, democracythreat wrote
    why? Because they don't want to know. They want to chatter and twitter and be ever so intelligent at parties, but they don't really want to look at the system and understand it. They want to believe in faries at the bottom of the garden, and that when they die Jesus will give them a gold star and say, in English, "you were one of the better guys, and your country was actually my favourite". "

    Hehe, that is so right that few will even notice it.

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  • 46. At 07:50am on 25 Jun 2010, RoundRockMike wrote:

    The Great Depression worsened when nations reduced spending and enacted protective trade barriers to preserve their domestic markets. This seems remarkably similar the results that will be achieved by enacting the various social and monetary policies discussed by some here.

    I don't believe that past experience necessarily determines present and future outcome, but folks living in G20 nations will certainly learn what works as their governments experiment in various ways to resolve the current crisis. It makes me feel like a lab rat, hoping that the next shot of medicine doesn't kill me.

    I find the comments here both thought provoking and edifying. Thank you all.

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  • 47. At 08:24am on 25 Jun 2010, Victor wrote:

    Here's how to survive the global economic crisis:
    "Whatever George Soros says you should do, do the exact opposite."

    The man isn't interested in people's well-being or countries' economic growth. The only growth he's interested in is that of his own wealth. He'll happily beggar entire countries and millions of people if it helps to make money for himself. He and the other financial vultures are the real threat to the Western civilization, and I am saying this as a liberal pro-capitalist person. We should get rid of them by means of effective global regulation of the financial markets.

    Yes, it will reduce growth. But is this such a bad thing? Economic growth based on debt and financial black magic is no real growth. It is a vicious circle of boom and bust, bubbles and bursts, which turns the whole idea behind capitalism on its head - in the Sorosian system, it doesn't matter how hard-working and smart you are; you'll still go bust in one of the periodic crises they're creating to take money from the middle classes, the poor and the less wealthy alike. This system only favours the super-rich, the "too big to fail" with whom the key governments are colluding.

    At least Germany has a little bit of sense. I hope Europe (including Britain - that would be a welcome change) follows its example.

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  • 48. At 08:26am on 25 Jun 2010, AllenT2 wrote:

    opinion wrote:

    "Europe got dragged into US model of consumerism and again consumerism. Now, its time for Europe to get out of that pattern."

    Interesting. So "Europe got dragged into" but "now it's time for Europe to get out." So it didn't have a choice in the beginning but now it does?

    That's a very convenient concept when you want to take risks but you do not want to accept the full responsibilities of your own failures.

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  • 49. At 08:27am on 25 Jun 2010, threnodio_II wrote:

    #43 - democracythreat

    "For my taste, this is no better than the earlier suggestion . . . "

    I did not imagine it would be but never mind - it gave you another imaginary stick with which the beat the Brits.

    "That is the English way, is it not? Stiff upper lip and put on a good front and flog the conscripts until moral improves. All cry god for harry, england and st george"

    Dear Lord in heaven, have you got a problem or what?

    I was not addressing your question otherwise I would have addressed it to you. I was extending my point about efficiency savings. By the way, the UK has privatised utilities so this is nothing to do with big government.

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  • 50. At 08:36am on 25 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Nick confesses:
    But I am Thessalonikian, I've always prefered the wealthy Macedonians and their lavish styles!"


    Kemal Pasha (Ataturk) was also from Saloniki.

    [Which is not a part of country of Macedonia. :)]

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  • 51. At 08:44am on 25 Jun 2010, Gerd Boettcherm wrote:

    All these discussion I (Gerd) see on the BBC Board are referring to the present economic situation.
    I am standing back from such a close look at the presence.

    What I see is.....a place to go to. And we are all on the way...to it.
    And there is nobody here that concerns himself (or herself) with the larger picture.
    Not even an inkling of a mention for a better future.

    Only more of the same greed manifestations.


    Should not the leaders of the world be concerned with more than personal greed.

    Plato's Utopia I never read. But can't we at least mention one ....of our own............


    Voynich (psychic reading)

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  • 52. At 08:49am on 25 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    ThrenodioII

    Re #41

    Some interesting ideas.

    Unsure how the 'utility' businesses could ever be persuaded to adopt your line as their only interest is 'profit' like any capitalist organisation.
    And there is now a Government in place sharing exactly the same ambition: To them that have shall be given more and to those that have little shall even less be rendered - - the classic Tory perspective.
    Historically: 'Care in the Community' was brought in from the Scandinavian system - - unfortunately & typically - - it became a cost-cutting exercise across the UK (I don't know enough to comment on any other EU Nation) for Local Authorities.
    L A, unlike the Scandinavians' commendably socially conscientious, long-term approach to vulnerable & disadvantaged, were under-funded, under-staffed & under-trained from the start of the 'Care in the Community' scheme in Britain.

    Look out - 1 (when in G.B.): One side effect of the Con-Lib Coalition charging into 'cuts' on all Public Expenditure projects - - those 'vulnerable & disadvantaged' will rapidly increase in number as the various schemes are among the first affected (on the false assumption nobody notices! Politicians being the ones who are never in the streets except prior to an election) - - there will be a quantifiable increase in homelessness, depression & mental disorders, suicides and at the worst end the abhorrent random-killings by a larger number of those who need most help from Society and will shortly have even less access to.

    Look out - 2: Very shocked & deeply concerned Government Ministers fresh from hacking away at Public Services gravely pronouncing on the latest "terrible figures" for 'socially deprived' and/or a particularly violent "random killing" by a person 'off their meds', and of course announcing the inevitable Public Enquiry' as "heads must role"... blah, blah...

    However, nothing that really matters as the last thing this Coalition will want to hear is that it is their blind dogma of cutting Public Expenditure to pay for the previous Government's bail-out of Banks that is at fault!

    Is there a UK Politician, Banker or Finance Senior Executive in Prison for the crimes they committed against the UK Public in the last decade? No.
    Is there an ordinary UK Citizen NOT having to pay for that decade of greed-driven, 'criminally' reckless irresponsibility? No.

    'Care in the Community'!

    Huh, more like, 'Couldn't Care Less for the Community'!

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  • 53. At 09:31am on 25 Jun 2010, Buzet23 wrote:

    #52. At 08:49am on 25 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:,

    Just a little thought concerning the public service cuts the UK coalition is pursuing, one has to remember that the previous administration created several hundred thousand public service posts mainly because that had the primary effect of removing those people from the unemployment statistics. Many if not most were non jobs, bin inspectors, risk assessment specialists, racial awareness officers, health and safety officers, clipboard holders etc etc the list goes on and on.

    Of course if there are cuts, these people will return to the unemployment register and be on benefits, but the hope is that this time there will eventually be real jobs for them to do other than to simply annoy the general public with the insensitive, unintelligent bureaucracy that exists in public service.

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  • 54. At 09:41am on 25 Jun 2010, commonsense_expressway wrote:

    #43

    democracythreat;

    So who are you defending this week in paradise? Money launderers or tax evaders?

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  • 55. At 09:49am on 25 Jun 2010, Nik wrote:

    """50. At 08:36am on 25 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:
    Nick confesses:
    But I am Thessalonikian, I've always prefered the wealthy Macedonians and their lavish styles!""""

    """Kemal Pasha (Ataturk) was also from Saloniki."""

    Despite his non-turkish, pseudo-muslim background he was always a convinced Ottomanist like most Donmes (ex. Spanish Jewish, actually a sect within them, who betrayed their lot and changed superficially religion to do business in the Ottoman army - and it is them that actually were the force behind the young-turkish movement as a means to perpetuate the Ottoman state, thus their business, in a new form). Whatever... the fact that he was born in Thessaloniki does not make him part of the city. He was part of the occupation population. No matter their 400+ years of Empire, Ottomans either in Smyrna, Konstantinople, Thessaloniki or Belgrade had not any particular attachment to those places because they were seeing themselves as occupation force and nothing more. In fact, it is quite funny that this remained as a permanent characterstic: even today in their ethnically/religiously cleansed country they still behave like an occupation force (have you ever noticed the red flags on every corner? the legislation on "insult against turks", celebrations of the conquest of Konstantinple, oppression of even the smallest existing minority, let alone the almost 20 million Kurds (1/4th of the country...) and other such niceties etc.).

    """[Which is not a part of country of Macedonia. :)]"""

    The country you name using the name of my region is the result of mad communist croato-yugoslav dictator Tito's effort to attack Greece post-WWII to gain access to the Aegean, on the basis of its civil war (communists vs. right wing - by the way communists in Greece were paid by British, Tito also had nice relations with British - accidental?) and annex it to Yugoslavia (particularly massacring all the indigenous populations to establish slavic ones. After the dissolution of Yugoslavia this artificial little state (which practically contains ex-Bulgarian lands) became a button for the US to control Greece & Bulgaria (as the state has equal fantastic claims over Bulgaria!) as well as Albania (since 40% of its population are actually Albanians). US has established in it one of the largest US bases of the area and plans to use the little country as a threat to the stability of all neighbouring countries, at the momen in particular with the huge gas pipeline projects and other major infrstructure that affect international traderoutes in the greater area which of course you are far from understanding.

    Satisfied with the answers?
    Now stop attacking the culture of other people.

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  • 56. At 09:53am on 25 Jun 2010, threnodio_II wrote:

    #52 - cool_brush_work
    #53 - Buzet23

    If the government is so keen on public expenditure cuts, can either of you tell me why they persist in spending - what is it? 100 billion? - upgrading a weapons system which was designed to torch Leningrad? Leningrad has been St.Petersberg for twenty years for heavens sake!

    The idea that we will ever again need to lay waste to vast areas of the planet at the touch of a button is so absurd as to be laughable. Mutually assured destruction when out with the Cold War. As an exercise in self aggrandisement - and that is all this is - it verges on the criminally insane.

    Buzet - Amen!

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  • 57. At 09:58am on 25 Jun 2010, opinion wrote:

    @ At 08:26am on 25 Jun 2010, AllenT2
    I suppose that following WW2 Europe did not have to much of a chance to choose. Whatever history books teach in whatever country the only winners of WW2 were USA and USSR.
    So part of Europe had to follow USA and part of Europe had to follow USSR. very simple.
    Now Europe may have a chance to do whatever they want. hopefully something better.

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  • 58. At 10:55am on 25 Jun 2010, threnodio_II wrote:

    #57 - opinion

    The USSR were winners?

    They lost an estimated 62 to 78 million casualties of whom 22 to 25 million were military personnel. In return, they acquired an empire of largely unwilling members, most of which they were unable to control or only did so using draconian force. The European empire may have given them much needed technologies and somewhere to garrison their conscript army but that along with the arms race and the space race bankrupted them. Stalin's legacy was to sew the seeds of the death of that empire and - ultimately the USSR itself. Nobody knows how many Soviet civilians died in this process but Solzhenitsyn suggests 60 million and the lowest estimate I can find is 16,300,000.

    You call that victory?

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  • 59. At 11:12am on 25 Jun 2010, Buzet23 wrote:

    #56. At 09:53am on 25 Jun 2010, threnodio_II wrote:,

    You're right of course, the advent of cruise missiles which cost very little makes the need for expensive ballistic missile systems virtually unnecessary. Coupled with that, with the presence of defensive systems like the patriot the likelihood of an attack by a fanatical rogue state has been made very difficult.

    I suspect the pressure to spend this money comes more from our US allies who need us to buy their munitions, which is probably why both Obama and his heads are saying that the UK must not cut too much. As I said previously I am inherently suspicious when a clown like Obama makes such statements, it can only be self interest.

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  • 60. At 11:21am on 25 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    opionion @ 57
    "Whatever history books teach in whatever country the only winners of WW2 were USA and USSR."

    :o)
    As a Russian I've got nothing against that opinion :o).

    But as an honest person would still wish to warn that simplified rough conclusions re the past may lead to mistakes in strategy formulation in future.

    I am not sure what, but have a feeling smth is missing in this picture :o))

    Well, for starters, Britain has won. I am not sure what was the gain, exactly :o) - but this is nevermind, all "gains" are quite questionable treasure in that war where to srurvive was already by all means an achievement. :o)

    Anyway - I am sure don't cross out Britain - it has won.

    B./ France has also won something; as a minor detail - retained all her colonies ww. (which were about to be grabatised by other interested parties) So, the last moment France boarded the winners' train and has also won something.

    That's 2 European countries, as minimum, who have won. If we look deeper I am sure a bit of others can also be found, so, I'd say, Europe was not entirely a passive eh? sideliner? having nothing to do with that war :o))))), and victories in it.

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  • 61. At 11:23am on 25 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Buzet23

    Re #53

    See, that is where I differ from You completely.

    I do not agree with the notion they are "..non-jobs..": On the contrary they are essential and it is only a pity there were not more in the key roles that modern societies clearly need - - as will become totally evident over the next 5yrs of 'cuts' to Public Sector Employment.

    I'm quite sure, if you are in the UK, You will be among those leaping to criticise when the Builder's scaffolding collapses on the pedestrian shoppers out with their kids because the Health & Safety aren't there, & then there's the E-Coli outbreak, the dumped chemical waste, the unfenced Rail Line, the faulty Fire Appliances... Oh yes, then just like this already wretched Coalition Government, You'll be lining up to demand 'answers'!

    Ever been 'Racially abused', had your Job Application turned down & 5mins later someone less qualified but white/black7yellow etc. gets it, ever been refused entry to a Club whilst a dozen of the right colour, religion etc. walk straight in...?

    If they do over to 1 Bin collection per fortnight or if it stays at 1 a week will You mind when the 'Refuse Disposal Assistant' (bin-man/woman) drops half the stuff on the pavement & doesn't clear it up? Who will You call?

    As I wrote earlier there is all sorts of 'vulnerability' and they do need the Community's support.

    Yes, there are too many Managers ratio to Medical Staff in Hospitals etc. and that vital key-word/term 'Rationalisation of Resources' is long over-due for a vigorous comeback in Local Authorities.
    However, this Coalition has no more interest in ridding UK of those Politically Correct appointments & the jobsworths than any previous administration. Its only interest is in preserving as much of the pain as possible for those most vulnerable and unable to respoind to their policies!

    Street Crime will continue to go up: Because Chief Constables will sack civil admin staff to maintain frontline forces in their cars - - whereas, if they got rid of 25% of all fule-guzzling, high maintenance Police Vehicles & told all PCs to start walking the streets - - REAL COSTS would be cut & crime figures would lower!

    So far as I am concerned we can extrapolate that version of Cuts in Public Spending to practically every Local Authority dept. and even more to National Government & its policy initiatives. E.g. Did our PM really have to fly to the G8/20 Conferences? Ever heard of video-conferencing all You vitally important leaders!? And at a more basic level let us 'Downsize' (such a cruel word unless a person is in the elite establishment) all Government Departments - - how about every one of them told ONLY ONE Expenses Meal/Entertainment Claim per week!? There'd be so many missing lunching/dining Cabinet Ministers/Consultants/Senior Civil Servants/MPs/Advisors half the chintzy restaurants in central London would close, or at least have to drop their prices so ordinary people can use them!

    Okay, I'm sure You get my drift.

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  • 62. At 11:33am on 25 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Gerd

    Re #51

    I think You are mistaken.

    These Blog debates of recent weeks have been almost entirely about the 'future': It is how well or badly we deal with the present that will commit generations to come in their future lives.

    I have read Plato, but for You I would recommend Plutarch's Lives ('Pyrrhus', 'Alexander' & 'Cirro' being worthwhile chapters) as a broader spectrum approach. It will quietly reassure You the World has turned on its axis countless trillions of times, but Humanity has remained fairly fixed in its orbit of the Earth's finite resources and the 'politics' of how to exploit them to best advantage.

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  • 63. At 11:35am on 25 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Thank you, threnodio.
    We won spiritually, how to say :o)
    In spirit. Survived (well. some of us :o) - that's already A LOT!

    by Russian standards - a clear achievement :o))))))))))))))

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  • 64. At 11:36am on 25 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Re #43

    Joins the mad-greek in anti-english-speaking tosh & gibberish!

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  • 65. At 11:38am on 25 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Only Russians can "tra-la-la we are the champions :o)" every year on
    V-day, the angle being "not all died - hurray!" :o)))))))))

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  • 66. At 11:48am on 25 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    My mum has been in Poland in 1960-s. 1970-s? ab 25 years after the war end.
    She said they were amazed the whole student group. Here and there across Poland (that was a tourist trip) they saw red glass small things with candles burning inside on the ground. And the Poles explained them "here a man died when a bomb fell down" or "here the secret services grabbed a man and took him away and no one heard of him/her ever after", "here a woman was crossing the road when" etc.
    She was amazed how Polish remember their dead and value every life and don't forget and mourn over and mark the places, and it was 25 years since the war has ended.
    The different approach to the value of human life was , how to say, seen in open view and she couldn't but think that's something to be jealous about and learn.

    But on the other hand she said she couldn't imagine the same in Russia at home because if to mark with burning lights and replace candles duly non-stop (it was not a war memory day, on ordinary days candles in Poland burned), anyway that if to do the same mark with candles places where "a bomb fell and a man fell down on this spot" etc. in Russia -
    how to say. hopeless.
    we'll get bankrupted on candles only :o)))) within 3 days.

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  • 67. At 11:51am on 25 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Geitner can sugar coat it anyway he likes but under the candy shell is the same message I've said all along and it's not a pretty one...if you are a European who will stay in Europe. It is simply this, the stimulus package, government budget management, end of lying and corruption are only one piece of a much larger puzzle. The necessity for Europe to compete on the world market by working harder and cheaper, ending its byzantine regulations, eliminating its massive bureaucracy, cutting its huge taxes, eliminating its lavish social safety nets, and living along the lines the rest of the world does considering its capabilities is an economic imperative and at the same time a political anathema. It is an irresistable force meeting an impenetrable object. The luxuriant "European livestyle" that was propped up by American one way favoritism during the cold war and then extended on credit has run out, its time is up. But Europeans feel that they have a birthright to it. They are about to learn otherwise because there are a very large number of people just as smart who work a lot harder for a lot less all over the world. They cannot continue what they've been doing any longer. Their hubris in thinking that they are actually better than other people and that accounts for their advantage only makes their plight worse. They will not take realistic stock of their predicament and therefore cannot make rational choices. While they dither, the rest of the world will not stand by waiting for them to come to their senses and catch up. It will continue moving ahead without Europe.

    The European Project is more than the EU, it was an effort to restore Europe as a major world economic and therefore political power, if not as individual countries then in aggregate. That project failed a long time ago and will never succeed. As the process of Europe's demise moves forward, many of Europe's best and brightest will move on to greener pastures including the United States leaving Europe the poorer for driving them away by denying them the rewards others offer. Europeans can sneer and find fault with the US all they want to but in the end, the superior society with its far greater opportunites for a good career and the good live sounds a siren call that many will find irresistable. Europe's day is done, even the illusion of a dream can no longer be clung to. Will it revert to a bunker mentality they way others have when the end looms near and the forces of collapse can no longer be ignored or even token resistance offered?

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  • 68. At 12:03pm on 25 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Jukka_Rohilla

    (Juhannus Paiva!) Happy Mid-Summer Celebration Day to You!

    The weather's been beautiful upto now today, but very heavy clouds forming just at the moment...

    Still, the Midnight Sun is struggling to reappear and despite the cloud it is guaranteed broad daylight when we light a huge Bonfire with friends at Levi, Pohjois Suomi ( Mods, it's a place in northern Finland, inside the Arctic Circle - - no worries - - it's not personal info - - we reside 300K from there) around midnight.

    I trust whenever You read this You will have had a good time too.

    Cheers.

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  • 69. At 12:11pm on 25 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    ThrenodioII

    If I thought the end of Cold War had done away with the threat of Nuclear Warfare I'd agree: IMO if anything the rogue State threat is even greater than the Soviet-USA stand-off.

    Ultra-Extremist Islamic terrorism, as well as N-Korea, Pakistan, India, Iran... and doubtless some we've not yet found out about (I've heard chat of Burma & Syria secretly developing the technology) just make reliance on Conventional Forces alone a risk on the future I wont take with my children & grandchildren.

    So, very reluctantly, for all my pontificating on UK 'spending cuts', I cannot agree about the removal of the UK Nuclear Deterrent at this time.

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  • 70. At 12:11pm on 25 Jun 2010, generalissimofranco wrote:

    “The hedge fund manager George Soros has weighed into the argument….Now he is warning that the budgetary savings policies risk destroying the European project” …. and will badly damage the hedge fund project itself by diminishing the member states demand for fresh money. Poor Mr.Soros, he’s so much committed to the success of the European project!
    Chief Spart, Fray Merkel thinks how to consolidate the budget (without borrowing); Second chief Spart, Mr. Herman Van Rompuy (a Belgium guy) develops the idea by advancing the iron made correlation link, kind of “budget cuts equals confidence; confidence means more consumption; more consumption requires more investment, and more investment means economic growth!” (You really made a point Monsieur, chapeau!); and finally, the Third Spart (the chief Treasurer, a French of course), closes the debate by preaching that "the measures taken by the member states to reduce their deficits will not have a profound deflationary effect for the Union as a whole…”….provided the national Unions will not cease that excellent opportunity to descend the streets from London, via Berlin/Brussels/Paris, down to Bucharest/Sofia/Athens (they are already there) and chant the old International anthem, much to the satisfaction of Barak Obama and Cie... God keep the EU!

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  • 71. At 12:20pm on 25 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Web Alice, I hate to be the one to break it to you but the USSR lost the cold war. If you don't believe it, ask their government about it :-)

    President's Medvedev and Obama had lunch together yesterday. Someone prepared grilled patties from ground Europe that was on the menu they both consumed. Obama ate Frence pate' with all the trimings ordered a la carte while Medvedev downed a Germany burger with mushrooms and a hot spicy pepper. They both seemed rather pleased to share that meal. Both nations are no stranger to devouring other countries. Toronto should be a feast.

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  • 72. At 12:21pm on 25 Jun 2010, Buzet23 wrote:

    #61. At 11:23am on 25 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:,

    I understand your point but I am a firm believer that people need to assume responsibility for their actions rather than always blaming something else whether it be lack of training, the weather, the pavements etc. The UK has become far too much a nanny state over the years with it's PC culture and it's time rights go hand in hand with responsibilities. This would have the added advantage of removing the need for the legions of civil servants who are claiming they are saving us from a terrible fate because we need wrapping up in cotton wool, lol.

    Many of your comments I tend to roughly agree with although I do think it's time the Police civilian workers were cut, it's time procedures were simplified so that officers could quickly make the necessary reports without needing to waste hours filling in unnecessary forms, that way they could be out WALKING rather than emulating boy racers with souped up rally cars. As to where I am, I have lived in Belgium for 20 years and have experienced some other country's as well, so I tend to compare what happens here to what happens in the UK. In term of Police my three local communes share resources and have less than 90 staff which includes a very few civilians, and their cars are basic models, does this not sound interesting for the UK in terms of cost?

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  • 73. At 12:21pm on 25 Jun 2010, threnodio_II wrote:

    #59 - Buzet23

    Now you come to mention it, it is a little strange that he is phoning Zapatero and telling him 'cut, cut, cut' then getting Geithner to lecture us about not cutting too much. Maybe we are about to encouraged to invest in any US industry - except off-shore oil.

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  • 74. At 12:26pm on 25 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    WA;

    "She was amazed how Polish remember their dead and value every life and don't forget and mourn over and mark the places, and it was 25 years since the war has ended."

    Do they also remember the dead people that they killed for example large numbers of Jews who were persecuted there for nearly a thouand years?

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  • 75. At 12:34pm on 25 Jun 2010, MaxSceptic wrote:

    Nik @55 wrote:

    "Now stop attacking the culture of other people."

    Hmmm... I'd say that Greeks are quite capable of attacking themselves without the help of others (as yesterday's explosive events demonstrated).

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  • 76. At 12:42pm on 25 Jun 2010, Buzet23 wrote:

    #67. At 11:51am on 25 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:,

    "Will it revert to a bunker mentality they way others have when the end looms near and the forces of collapse can no longer be ignored or even token resistance offered?"

    I presume you were actually referring to the USA as that is what your country has traditionally done during times of collapse. No doubt the cuts in the EU will hit the US economy hard and with no easy replacement market for your wares the usual tariffs, import restrictions etc will soon start to reappear and the number of cases in the WTO multiply as you batten down your hatches.

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  • 77. At 12:45pm on 25 Jun 2010, threnodio_II wrote:

    #61 - cool_brush_work

    Well yes and no. If you are saying don't get rid of environmental health officers, healthy and safety people and so on because they do important work, I am with you. On the other hand, there is useful work and there is madness. This is not an especially rich city compared with London or Berlin but we pay our local taxes and we get our rubbish collected. We don't have to stick in different coloured bin bags, we don't have forensic hygiene health officers prosecuting us for using the wrong coloured tags, we don't have geeks running round in white coats examining every speck of dust. We have a bunch of wheelie bins and a couple of blokes who empty them. Result? They can manage to do it three times a week, not once a fortnight. That is the kind of thing that bugs me.

    Same with the EU. Why on earth are we paying people to try and ban pearl light bulbs or make circus acrobats wear crash hats or make all mountaineers use safety lines (who the hell is going to go up there and install the first line, the council mountain safety officer?) Yes we should endeavour to protect people who are vulnerable, liable to persecution and subject to injustice but do we really need to go to such lengths to protect people from themselves? You yourself have preached the need for good local policing. I agree. I simply want to extend this to other areas of public service. I want more beds, not more bed managers - more stethoscopes and fewer clipboards, more coppers on the beat and fewer tied to desks.

    So many jobs have been created in the public sector in the white hot heat of the pursuit of political correctness rather than common sense. To use and old adage, if a job is worth doing, it is worth doing properly. If it is not worth doing, it is not worth a light.

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  • 78. At 12:51pm on 25 Jun 2010, threnodio_II wrote:

    #69 - cool_brush_work

    I don't want to remove it. I want something affordable and fit for purpose. What is the point of a weapon to take out a terrorist cell if you are going to take a few million innocent people out with it. Buzet has it right. Cruise is more than capable a dealing with targets of the size we are likely to encounter in the foreseeable future, you can put them in subs if you want the element of surprise and it is a whole lot cheaper.

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  • 79. At 1:11pm on 25 Jun 2010, Buzet23 wrote:

    #73. At 12:21pm on 25 Jun 2010, threnodio_II wrote:,

    I think that this is the problem with any export orientated country whether it be the USA, China or Germany, there is an inherent danger that when the orders dry up their economy faces a collapse. We've seen some indication of that between Germany and Greece where the Germans had little option but to bail out Greece as a result of the volume of German exports to Greece.

    As for the USA we can expect them to be even more aggressive in their selling tactics with such industries as Airbus and Military hardware being prime targets. If the US bunkers down then so should the EU by introducing a purchase at home policy. Sure the US and China will be screaming foul but for once, who gives a hoot!

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  • 80. At 1:15pm on 25 Jun 2010, generalissimofranco wrote:

    @ 17 CBW
    “That the USA in a not too distant future could do very well without the century old ties to Continental EUrope is Economically-Demographically-Geographically-Militarily easily demonstrated.” …. I am going to cry. How can they abandon us so easily? The NATO will fall apart, and, the Ottomans will take full advantage of the open gap in order to absorb several Greek islands, and why not some tasty portion of the Old Continent?

    “Quite what Budapest, Athens, Lisbon, Copenhagen etc. will do when it is Berlin-Paris calling all the Economic-Fiscal-Political-Military muscle sur le continent is something still to be divined.”… What a pity that the partition of the band is written only for two violins. Imagine it was made for three fiddles and Mr. Cameron invited Frau Merkel for the first dance, much to the dissatisfaction of Sarko?

    “…Instead, we have these intellectually impoverished, glib-minded Politicians whose selfish desire for unsupported & untrammelled authority & wealth has led them into a political cul de sac whereby to maintain what they have they must continue around & around proclaiming 'freedom' to all as with each step they remove it from their Citizens' sight and experience.”….True, but can you name them? Are they only on the mainland?
    Regards from Sofia

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  • 81. At 1:21pm on 25 Jun 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    "Joins the mad-greek in anti-english-speaking tosh & gibberish!"

    is that everything you do these days?

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  • 82. At 1:22pm on 25 Jun 2010, generalissimofranco wrote:

    @71 MA
    "Both nations are no stranger to devouring other countries. Toronto should be a feast."
    How true indeed!

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  • 83. At 1:23pm on 25 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Buzet23

    Re #72

    My late mother was Belge & Brussels is a 3rd home to me. I live in Finland so like yourself I compare to the UK.

    Must say all my Belge relatives (& I do mean 'all') express almost no confidence in the Belgian Police, but then my Finnish relatives & neighbours are quite wary of their Constabulary although nothing like the Belge or Britons in that respect.

    Certainly agree the 'PC Culture' prevalent in the UK has led to ridiculous wastes of time, money etc. E.g. Christmas replaced by 'Winter Festival' & other such nonsense in order not to offend!
    Police harrassing people about their 'thoughts' on 'gays', 'races' etc. when they need to be on the streets visibly protecting those minorities and the majority from real crime, & the lunacy of Citizens in their own Homes arrested for mugging the burglar! Instead of preventing genuine criminals they're busy creating statistics to show how busy they've been!
    I write that with one daughter in the Met Police Force! She would not necessarily agree. Of course they do a thankless task most days: I always recall the night an IRA bomb tip had all the Soho Pubs etc. rapidly emptied inc. me & my off-duty daughter - - as we all hurried out and away who was passing us, probably 21 & walking straight toward the danger zone, a Copper! We need them.

    100% agree with Your, ".. it's time rights go hand-in-hand with responsibilities..": It is how that is achieved in the UK is the real issue.
    Somehow I cannot see this new Coalition doing anymore than previous Tory & Labour Governments who all seem wedded to Focus Group analysis & Think-Tank consultative exercises!
    How else can we explain that despite every Opinion Poll showing the Public want Police on the beat over the last 30 years they continue to put more and more in cars!?
    I'm quite sure it is the same with Hospital Managers etc. When a resident in UK I took part in NHS Consultation Meetings to ask the Public's opinion: I attended 3 in the Surrey & Sussex Health Authority and the whole exercise was about informing the Public of what the Authority was actually going to do and nothing at all about what the Public wanted!
    At the end of each consultation I left hearing frustrated members of the Public say, 'What was the point? They told us their plan in the morning & by this afternoon it hadn't changed at all!'

    IMO it has been a very long time since Local & National Government truly responded to the Citizens: And just to keep right on track - - if that is a serious fault at Regional & National level imagine the total contemptuous disregard among Civil Servants, MEPs etc. at the supra-National level of the EU-Brussels elite!

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  • 84. At 1:25pm on 25 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    MA "Web Alice, I hate to be the one to break it to you but the USSR lost the cold war. If you don't believe it, ask their government about it :-)

    :o)))))

    MA, I would ask, they are all at old addresses :o))))))))) but on the other hand I think I'll better continue with my low profile strategy :o)))

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  • 85. At 1:29pm on 25 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    "They both seemed rather pleased to share that meal."

    Yes, worrying. I don't think you will teach us any things good!
    :o)))))))))))))))

    (we are not, what is the word? succeptable? acceptable?
    to that kind of things :o))))))

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  • 86. At 1:33pm on 25 Jun 2010, Nik wrote:

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

  • 87. At 1:36pm on 25 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    to be honest MA, I think this is the underlying core of our disagreements with Poland. Difference in cultures and mentality. They don't get the angle - and, accordingly - we seem weird and highly suspicious to them.

    I mean, Poland has ? don't know how many million of Russian graves, post war. 5 million? something.

    Now, Poles duly and honestly nicely keep them in order. Presuming that one of those days those weird Russians will start visiting graveyards of their relatives, like Poles themselves do come to Russia (Smolensk in particular). (lots of tours sold, all Polish travel agencies trips booked for this summer, for example)

    And Russians, with few exceptions, how to say - stubbornly don't.

    :o))))

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  • 88. At 1:40pm on 25 Jun 2010, democracythreat wrote:

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

  • 89. At 1:49pm on 25 Jun 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    cool_brush_work wrote:
    "ThrenodioII

    If I thought the end of Cold War had done away with the threat of Nuclear Warfare I'd agree: IMO if anything the rogue State threat is even greater than the Soviet-USA stand-off.

    Ultra-Extremist Islamic terrorism, as well as N-Korea, Pakistan, India, Iran... and doubtless some we've not yet found out about (I've heard chat of Burma & Syria secretly developing the technology) just make reliance on Conventional Forces alone a risk on the future I wont take with my children & grandchildren.

    So, very reluctantly, for all my pontificating on UK 'spending cuts', I cannot agree about the removal of the UK Nuclear Deterrent at this time."

    So, because you are hysterically frightened of the future, you think the UK should point nuclear missiles at whomsoever the chaps think is a good target?

    Fair enough. I mean, it makes sense. I'm not hysterically frightened of the future, so I don't think nukes are cool, but I see the logic behind your position.

    But tell me, CBW, do you think Iran should have nukes for precisely the same reasoning? I mean, can you walk even ten steps in another cultures shoes? Why wouldn't an Iranian nuclear weapons program be justified in exactly the same terms as you justify the UK nuclear weapons? If you are frightened of the future, surely the Iranians have 1000 times more reason to be afraid. They have the USA constantly threatening them with war, for example.

    Anyway, I think you let the emotions get to your head a bit here. You suggest that the threat of nuclear war is even greater than with the cold war. Seriously? I mean, do you really fear the hidden enemy so much?

    Goldstein and his terrorists are out there, CBW. They are plotting and hiding and plotting against big brother. Be sure to report any suspicious activity to your area commander, and keep a close eye on your neighbours.

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  • 90. At 1:50pm on 25 Jun 2010, Nik wrote:

    75. At 12:34pm on 25 Jun 2010, MaxSceptic wrote:
    """Nik @55 wrote:
    "Now stop attacking the culture of other people."
    Hmmm... I'd say that Greeks are quite capable of attacking themselves without the help of others (as yesterday's explosive events demonstrated)."""

    Do not get fooled by that. Like so many other such "terrorist acts", all these are preset. There is no real terrorist group called "Revolutionary struggle" as there was never any real group called "November 17" - remember? The longest standing

    My father has an acquaintance who is now a retired anti-terrorist police mid-rank officer and I remember in a discussion back in mid-80s (I was a child) saying to my inquiring father that inside the Greek police the case of November 17 was taken as a joke: it was widely known that such organisations were fake and that they were the construction of US secret services (with involvement of particular personas inside the Greek secret services whose allegiances are anywhere else than to Greece). They knew already the names of many 17 November members since 1981 (i.e. 3 years after the 1st hit). I remember him talking about a man that pretends to be the academic living in Paris - I had forgotten about it and back in 2003 I was shocked to learn they had arrested Yiotopoulos as one of the chiefs of November 17, a guy who lived mostly in Paris.

    To realise better this one must take into consideration of whom did the November 17 target. Targets absolutely out of phase with the Greek reality, so much that really the Greek society was never really very involved in the case - something that you foreigners could never understand: if November 17 killed the CIA station man at Athens or the British arms dealing agent, what this had to do with the Greek people if not being an evident account-solving between foreign agencies?

    Now, I bet all my fortune that if you go inside the Greek prison, the November 17 underlings (like the Xeros brothers) are there, imprisoned for life but the more leading figures, Yiotopoulos or Koufontinas (professional agents), are not there but holidaying somwhere in Seychelles (where in the past another well known agent had passed his holidays...) or anywhere else, even including Greece (who would know anyway?).

    Revolutionary struggle is nothing else than the same thing. They just changed a name to say that this an evolution of November 17 - related groups and such. Hilarious.

    Now you know why Greeks never believed the Al-Kaida lie. They had been subject to this kind of US propaganda for a long time thus learnt a couple of thingies.

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  • 91. At 1:55pm on 25 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    ThrenodioII

    Re #77 & #78

    Finland is very environmentally self-conscious & friendly to the fears of GW.
    Actually, Finns got a shock in the 60-70s when many of their beloved 66,000+ Lakes were declared bio-hazards after years of neglect: So, since then they have collectively chosen to take every precaution and it has worked in most places - - the lakes are safe & a brilliant natural resource for everyone.

    Thus, where I live the dustman comes once a month (it is about as rural , under-populated & isolated as Your more likely image of Alaska) to our house to collect the 'perishable' rubbish, i.e. mainly foodstuffs (and I pay a monthly sum): We do have the various bin-bags and we are Responsible for putting stuff (metal, plastic, glass, paper/card etc.) in the right bags before taking it to Communal heavy-duty Refuse-Bins which are emptied each week (& if they start to overflow at certain times, (e.g. after this week's Mid-Summer celebrations the beer can/bottle Bins) we can phone for a special collection.
    I cannot say I found it difficult to adjust after years of chucking the whole lot in 2 containers in our English home/s.

    The UK really does not sem to have these people specialising in checking 'colour' container contetns etc. that You refer to: I rather think that is akin to the mythical 'straight banana' EU-inspectors stories of certain UK tabloids.

    Not wanting to repeat (& bore anyone even more) myself I would refer You to my answer to Buzet23 at #83 on the UK 'jobsworth' scene. Suffice to say here that I very much agree with You both that it is how these roles are set-up and what they then entail is the issue in the UK.

    With regard to Nuclear Weapons: Cruise doesn't do it for me (the Missile!) - - it is a very good weapon to have in the deterrent arsenal & the most recent Tomahawk versions can pack a mini-nuclear warhead punch, but there are drawbacks - - for starters the entire Weapons Delivery sytem would need complete replacing/refitting as neither Polaris or Titan Subs could do it in their present technical shape: That would leave us (UK) vulnerable and rather like I fear for the chap 'off his meds', so, I have very real reservations about UK being de-nuclear even for a couple of years. Maybe there are Aircraft or Surface Warships to fill-in the gap, however the 'costs' again escalate and the element of surprise is nowhere near as secure.

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  • 92. At 2:13pm on 25 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    MA, today's catch.
    (without you chaps haven;t even glanced there for 2 months!)

    American scientists have finally worked out a motor for the cars that works on water.
    Unfortunately, so far it works only on water from the Gulf of Mexico.
    :o))))

    Fiat and Ferrari stop at street lights. The driver of Fiat rolls down the handle, lowers his window glass and makes signs to the Ferrari driver.
    The chap in Ferrari presses a button and also lowers his window glass.
    What's the matter?
    - Listen, you've got a Ferrari. Tell me please - is the car good or not?
    As I see folks around don't buy it very much!

    :o))

    A recepie for loosing weight.
    Mon - an apple.
    Tue - a carrot.
    Wed - an easy "un-loading" day.
    Thu - a glass of kefir.
    Fri - half a banana.
    Sat - a popato.
    Sun - cremation.

    :o))))))))))))

    Stew Jobs gave ipone 4 to Medvedev as a present.
    Never before CIA managed to incorporate their bugs so easily!
    :o)))))))))))))))))))))))))

    And before our chieftains used to go to the USA after maize/corn....

    :o)

    - Lusya, do you still keep my present?
    - Yes...
    - And I thought you've thrown out away all that was connected with me!?
    - A teddy-bear is not guilty that you are such a XXX ! :o)))))))))))))))


    ...and in quiet winter evenings, when hush down sirens and canonnade, when only lights of projectors shimmer in the night sky through the film of nuclear smog, and bullets of Chinese snipers whistle by, off and on, hitting into stone crumbs fortifications in the balcony... we like to gather together, sit around the kitchen fire while the freshly caught rat is being cooked, and listen how Daddy reads us the Message of President about internetisation of all the country and nano-technologies...

    :o))))


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  • 93. At 2:24pm on 25 Jun 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    Getting back to the topic of the blog, has anyone else noticed that European governments are not actually taking any steps to reduce their debt?

    Sure, they are reducing the amount they are borrowing. So for sure they are reducing the rate of increase in the debt. But the debt itself is still growing.

    All the reports are that governments are cutting deficits, not debt. So that means they are still spending more than they have and borrowing the difference. They are not paying off the debt. They are not trying to reduce the debt.

    And this is describe by Hewitt as "spartan" behaviour. And more curious still, politicians elsewhere suggest this is a threat to "the recovery".

    I don't think these people live in a reality that is sustainable. I understand why politicians from all over the world are saying Europe should not cut spending. Sure. I mean, every government wants every other government to borrow and spend like crazy. Why? Because that drives global demand, which is good for the country giving the advice. It is terrible in the longer term for the country which is spending what it cannot afford to spend, but who cares about that? So of course the advice is to spend. Borrow, spend, borrow, spend. Please do it, Europe, or we will not benefit. We'd do it ourselves, but that would kill us, so you do it.

    So I do not see any real evidence that governments want to reduce debt. What they really want, what they pray for, is the fabled "recovery". Recovery means profits, profits mean tax revenues, tax revenues mean more borrowing capacity. More borrowing capacity means more spending capacity, and that buys votes and campaign funding.

    So I think every single one of the professional politicians is playing a waiting game. They don't seriously want to reduce debt or make the finances of their states strong. They only want to spend other folks money, and to do that they need to borrow.

    I doubt this fabled "recovery" will arrive. From where will it come? Public sector spending isn't the market, and even if it was it is going down. So where does the private market sector recovery come from?

    Higher taxes? Mass unemployment? Are these what we think are going to attract new business activity?

    VAT is now 20% in England. So if you were going to build a new construction project for 10 million, the price just increased by 250K. Just like that! (snaps fingers). Boom! You just lost 250K if your project was planned in the UK. Or put another way, you have a 250K extra incentive NOT to go forward in the UK.

    I mention this because I write construction project tenders and contracts. So when I hear about VAT increasing, all I can think about is the extra cost to the clients. They don't care about the budget or the EU. All they see is an extra 250K going to the government.

    Now my point here is that these people building these projects, they have options. they can build in other places. Germany's taxes are nearly as bad, in some ways worse, than the UK. But there is always China, or India. Maybe Brazil.

    20 years ago, those places were not options because the technology and market for large profits was in Europe or America.

    Not any more. No way. The tech is being made in Asia, and communications and transport technology mean the market is pretty much the same distance away from anywhere on the planet.

    So in this increasingly competitive globalized market place, can we really expect to be able to raise taxes and at the same time hope for the fabled "recovery"?

    I don't see it. I don't see how making the private sector pay more for a government that admits to massive financial idiocy..... I don't see the attraction. Why? Why would you do it? Why wouldn't you just go somewhere else?

    And if the recovery does not happen, then what does happen?

    Well, like i said earlier, the debt is actually still growing. It just isn't growing as fast as it was. But it is still getting bigger, and the interest demands on that debt are getting larger. Which means even less tax revenue for spending and stimulating.

    In effect, Europe is slowly choking. OK, it was being strangled with great force, and now it is only choking slowly to death. But it is not recovering, it still has the cord around its neck, and that cord is still getting tighter.

    At the very centre of the debate, there is the ugly fact that not a single politician on the world stage even wants to build a strong economy. Not a single political party is advocating the eradication of public debt. that idea is nowhere.

    Why? I guess because the idea of building a strong public economy is not why folks join political parties. They join them to borrow and spend other people's money, not to invest and build other people's money.

    And whilst that is true, that cord of debt is around the neck of Europe, and Europe is slowly choking. Sooner or later, death must come. Debt just cannot keep rising indefinitely. Not even if it is a very slow increase. Sooner or later, increasing debt leads to failure.

    All the EU politicians (and the UK) have done is to say "later" rather than sooner. Not one of them is saying "never".

    They have faith in the recovery. they have faith that they do not need to change. They believe they can keep borrowing and keep spending forever.

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  • 94. At 2:25pm on 25 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    "As for the USA we can expect them to be even more aggressive in their selling tactics with such industries as Airbus and Military"

    Don't know ab military but Medvedev spent 4 bln on Boeings the first day in the USA :o)

    "lovers of new electronic gadgets are known to go for various extremes to get them.... (iphone 4). But our Medvedev out-did them all!"

    :o)))))))))))))

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  • 95. At 2:31pm on 25 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Gharyando

    Re #81

    No, but as You clearly cannot be bothered to read other contributions unless they are limited to a line or 2, I didn't expect You to know any different.

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  • 96. At 2:35pm on 25 Jun 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    Cbw - I think you have a very healthy sense of citizenship as well as civil duties. I do think that many of your grievances are not coming from the EU level but from a local level.

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  • 97. At 2:56pm on 25 Jun 2010, DurstigerMann wrote:

    @Topic

    "Now, as heads of government arrive in Ontario, there is no masking the divisions. In one corner are the Americans. They believe that economic recovery must take precedence over budget cuts. In an article in the Wall Street Journal, Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers (US treasury secretary and presidential economic adviser) wrote "we must demonstrate a commitment to reducing long-term deficits, but not at the price of short-term growth"."

    When economic growth is driven by government spendings, investments, etc, these spendings and the public deficit cannot be reduced without reducing short-term growth.
    That is an economic reality and it`s high time those American economists face this reality:
    You can spend your way out of recession on the short run, but you cannot spend your way out of debt, neither in the long nor the short run.


    "The hedge fund manager George Soros has weighed into the argument. He was the man who made a cool billion by betting against the British pound. Now he is warning that the budgetary savings policies risk destroying the European project, pushing weaker countries into a cycle of deflation. That, he believes, will "generate discontent and social unrest". He rails against countries reducing together their deficits to 3% to live within the rules of the EU Growth and Stability Pact. He says Germany wants to treat the EU's Maastricht Treaty as the "scripture which has to be obeyed without any modifications"."

    Now this has almost comical character. George Soros talking about social unrest. A person whose actions devalued the British pound dramatically and who, therefore, robbed the British people.
    A person who is involved in the speculation attack on Greece to devalue the Euro and rob European people of their wealth.
    He did not force anyone to expand debt year by year, but all his actions so far still showcase that he is a man without any social competence at all.


    But in a way he is right:
    Social unrest could be the result as the only problem our austerity measures across Europe have is how poor people will suffer more and rich people won´t even see an increase in taxes in many countries.
    All those increases in VAT and other consumption taxes hit poor people the hardest.
    E.g. in Germany, the taxation relative to income is the highest around 70.000 EUR / year.
    The richer a person is, the less he/she has to give relative to income.
    And while this was not changed before are in the austerity package, some experts even see a general increase in taxes, but not a change in this system.
    The lobbies in control ouf our governments have seen to this.


    Instead, our new aristocracy likes to waste US$ 1 billion for its3-day G20 meeting.

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  • 98. At 3:06pm on 25 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    generalissimofranco

    Re #80

    Some cleverly pithy responses to my #17.

    Having often written & warned of the dangers to NATO created by the Paris-Brussels-Berlin political intention of forming a EUropean Defence Force, I'm not going to deal with it at length again here.
    IMO, the UK should remain firmly in NATO, even if it becomes a smaller Atlantic Alliance (i.e. Canada-USA-UK) and strengthen its ties with the ANZACS, South Africa, India, Japan etc. to form a new Global version. The Century old 'alliance' with the USA is far and away the better defence option for the British Isles than reliance on continental EUrope. UK should reject all overtures to join the EDF which is just another ploy by the ambitious France-Germany axis-of-ill-intent to bring about a split with the USA. UK placing its 'defence' strategy & command structure at the disposal of duplicitous, unreliable France is just too ridiculous to contemplate.

    "..partition of the band.." was indeed written for only 2 violins: Any thought of Paris-Berlin giving up their core control of the EU baton is unfeasible - - the EU post-Maastricht is a political construct solely for the purpose of maintaining France-Germany hegemony in EUrope - - the UK is already too integrated with this Brussels-EU cacaphony of over-regulation. UK/England should seek to extricate itself in order for its own orchestra to form from time-to-time according to Citizen interests & support so it will play tunes they have chosen and with a conductor who may be removed at regular intervals.
    By all means have pan-national musical festivals that encourage, build & show harmony wherever possible: However, each evening it is best for whole-hearted commitment, genuine understanding participation and personal skill development among orchestra members for each to return to their own accomodation & facilities.

    How many 'names' can an orchestra have? Well that would depend on the size of each section and what importance is placed on each. No, Youare right, removal of Freedom, Rights & Responsibilities is not exclusive to EUrope: With continental European family, living in Finland and having spent years in the British Isles and other areas of the World I could probably name quite a few who have ventured down that particular anti-Democratic cul de sac; however, to do so serves no useful purpose at this stage of the production!

    Cheers from Suomi on mid-Summers day.

    Okay, footie starting, I'm off-blog (as many will have noticed!).



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  • 99. At 3:30pm on 25 Jun 2010, threnodio_II wrote:

    #91 - cool_brush_work

    It is different for me as a city dweller these days but of course Hungary does still have to contend with the post communism development syndrome but there are some things they are really beginning to get a handle on and some of them started before the changes. For example, a higher proportion of territory is scheduled as national park than any other country in Europe and these areas are astonishingly beautiful and pristine.

    In the cities they have taken conservation very seriously indeed with the result that, while there is still a lot of renovation to be done, those buildings which are restored are beautifully done. Cars are being squeezed as more and more streets become pedestrian and, when that is not practical, restricted flow. The rivers and lakes are clean - people can and do swim in the Danube quite safely and Lake Balaton, the largest lake in central Europe is very strictly policed.

    They can and do take the environment very seriously and it is only a question of when and if money becomes more freely available for the whole thing to regain momentum. The image that many have in the west of eastern Europe as an industrial wasteland left over after the demise of communism simply is not true and they would be well advised to come and see it for themselves since the exchange rate currently makes for reasonable prices to westerners.

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  • 100. At 3:35pm on 25 Jun 2010, Nik wrote:

    (I wonder what did I say above and it was referred? I guess it was my reference by name to the young French trader who got jailed today, typical example of the banks' approach even into their supposedly endo-organisational issues)

    """Getting back to the topic of the blog, has anyone else noticed that European governments are not actually taking any steps to reduce their debt?"""

    Yes I have noticed it and I now blame myself for letting you notice it as a general observation while I had only refered to it in the past via the example of Greece.

    """Sure, they are reducing the amount they are borrowing. So for sure they are reducing the rate of increase in the debt. But the debt itself is still growing."""

    I bet 80% of common people think that decreasing debt deficit equals decresing debt. As you nicely indicate we are far from decreasing the amount of debt which keeps increasing. I do not remember the exact number but out of the amazing debt of 300 billion euros of Greece, the % of it which corresponds to the actual sum of money that were given to the country is only a certain fraction as much of it is simply running interests, a heritage from past, ehhmmm... insufficient payback efforts.

    """All the reports are that governments are cutting deficits, not debt. So that means they are still spending more than they have and borrowing the difference. They are not paying off the debt. They are not trying to reduce the debt."""

    ... because if 2 million people go out to protest for what in my eyes is minor cuts to contain deficit, imagine what will happen if measures are taken to contain the actual debt.

    Which leads us to the conclusion that nobody does anything about it since the payback won't be anyway given in money but in barter exchange. Land, ressources, infrastructure and above all absolute obedience.

    ... and then they accuse conspirationologists as absurd: what is more absurd the Buildenberg-basher conspirationologist or all those megaphones that were shouting all these years for the one or the other financial policy (e.g. French pseudo-socialist system, British pseudo-free-market system etc.) using whatever financial indicator to explain the unexplainable. Cos, production & employment are good, consumption are good but when you owe you owe, nothing is yours.

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  • 101. At 3:41pm on 25 Jun 2010, Oblivion wrote:

    Democracythreat

    Similarly, and perhaps ironically, however, it is that perception of humans as anthropocentrically 'human,' as opposed to biological systems, that can also lead to inhumane and ineffective treatment and management of people. Examples of this to be found in the debates about neuroscience and law. If a man with a brain tumour goes on a shooting spree, and it becomes demonstrable that the brain tumour was totally determinant of his behaviour, then it is the science and the perception of him as a biological system that exhonerates him.

    That is not to say I disagree, but that what you say is not something that can accurately be agreed with either.

    Regarding Switzerland, I see the emphasis on decentralisation there as a consequence of its role in a wider society of nations: it must employ high levels of redundancy in order to be trustworthy, in order that it be perceived as less suscetible to corruption, even able to survive a nuclear attack. It is expected that the world's criminals, embezzlers, fraudsters, terrorists and banksters be able to stash their gold and their secrets there without having to worry too much about one particular entity or political affiliation. That about sums up the nature of Switzerland and why it is why it is.

    Again, that is not to say that it's system is not 'better,' but it depends on what criteria 'better' is assessed and how things are measured. Switzerland cannot be held as an example of anything other than a system that does well and profits from the sins and corruptions of others.

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  • 102. At 5:03pm on 25 Jun 2010, margaret howard wrote:

    17 cool brush work writes:

    "That the USA in a not too distant future could do very well without the century old ties to Continental EUrope is Economically-Demographically-Geographically-Militarily easily demonstrated"

    Just what do you mean by 'centuries old ties'? Until the US took sides towards the end of WWl they had never interfered in European-related wars. In fact as far as I remember , the only European country they went to war with was England who burned the White House down in the early 1800's and attempted a few times unsuccessfully during the 19th century to bring the country back to heel.

    For instance, the US took no sides in any other European or colonial wars before 1900,and the Monroe Doctrine opposed any outside interference in its own affairs which no doubt meant that they would not interfere in anyone else's affairs either. Many Americans I know regret to this day that their country ever got involved in European matters which changed the whole character of the USA from what the so-called founding fathers envisaged and many citizens wanted.

    You go on to say vis-a-vis the Brussels-Paris-Berlin "axis of ill intent":
    "Instead, we have these intellectually impoverished, glib-minded Politicians whose selfish desire for unsupported & untrammelled authority & wealth has led them into a political cul de sac whereby to maintain what they have they must continue around & around proclaiming 'freedom' to all as with each step they remove it from their Citizens' sight and experience.

    We shall see: In the long-term I fear the worst and expect nothing more."

    Like you I too have lived in various European countries and quite frankly the pictures you paint have nothing to do with reality. Although I would not claim that everything in the EU is rosy, we live in a wonderful continent and the divers people that share it appear at last to have found peace with each other and tried to rectify the ills of the past as well as they could. I have lived long enough to know that our continent has never been healthier nor wealthier and would not like to live anywhere else in the world. Considering the difficulties which our forefathers had to face in the past, these present troubles are but a blip and for the first time in our long European history today's citizens have 'never had it so good' and if we continue to address the ills that still exist in corners of our society without as so often in the past resorting to wars and violence we shall overcome them and leave a much happier place for our descendants.

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  • 103. At 5:22pm on 25 Jun 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    Oblivion wrote:
    "Regarding Switzerland, I see the emphasis on decentralisation there as a consequence of its role in a wider society of nations: it must employ high levels of redundancy in order to be trustworthy, in order that it be perceived as less suscetible to corruption, even able to survive a nuclear attack. It is expected that the world's criminals, embezzlers, fraudsters, terrorists and banksters be able to stash their gold and their secrets there without having to worry too much about one particular entity or political affiliation. That about sums up the nature of Switzerland and why it is why it is.

    Again, that is not to say that it's system is not 'better,' but it depends on what criteria 'better' is assessed and how things are measured. Switzerland cannot be held as an example of anything other than a system that does well and profits from the sins and corruptions of others."

    Right, So the six evil men who control the world from their secret room have their headquarters in Switzerland. I get it. And there is a global conspiracy to keep that fact secret because...... I don't get that bit. You know about this global conspiracy of secrecy, which argues against it's presumed effectiveness.

    Anyways, your point is that Switzerland has the cunning appearance of being a democratic society, but in fact this is just a ruse to fool the world into believing that the six evil men who control the world don't in fact meet in Switzerland to plot evil against THE GOOD GUYS.

    This is the point in this kind of analysis I like best. People like you never say it openly, Oblivion, but the implication of what you write is just as fascinating as the direct accusations. If Switzerland is evil, the implication is that the other states are the GOOD GUYS. The guys with the white hats, the heros, those who try so hard to do such good works for so many.

    And that is a fundamentally insane implication, which is why it is never expressed directly. Instead, we just get the accusation the Switzerland is somehow evil, and harbours the most evil people in the world. We need to accept the implication that there are a whole load of GOOD GUYS in white hats who are also hard at work, fighting the pure fight for the pure people.

    So who are they, Oblivion, and where?

    We know where the evil folks are. They're pretending to have real democracy in Switzerland, fooling everyone except those who have worked it all out.

    Where are the good guys? And how do we know them, when we see them? Do they really wear white hats?

    Are they dressed up in military uniforms? Is it the CIA? Is it James Bond and MI6? The FSB? Surely not! They are Russians, and we all know that Russians are fundamentally evil just like the Swiss.

    The good guys, do they speak english?

    And if so, do they bank in the British Virgin Islands, or Belieze? Or any of the numerous tax havens where an English speaking person can hide as much income and capital from their governments as they wish?

    Oblivion, do you know what a trust account in the British Virgin Islands is? And if so, how do you discover the beneficial owner, and whether or not they are actually resident in a country which demands income tax on global earnings?

    Do you know how many US companies are owned by parent companies in the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas?

    And as for this idea that Switzerland profits from the sins and corruption of others, how does this happen? Exactly, i mean.

    Are you suggesting that by offering low taxation, Switzerland is encouraging others to leave their own governments and move their business headquarters, and that this is "sinful"? Is this corrupt, to compete for business by lowering taxation?

    Because that is where Switzerland's foreign earnings come from. Companies relocate here because they can do the same things and pay less tax.

    Now i understand the philosophy that says this is "sinful". Anyone who believes that the entire world should be controlled by one government and one secret police force and one body of law can make the case that it is sinful for governments to compete with each other to attract business. Sure, I see that internal logic.

    The trouble is, who shall be the one world government? Who shall lead the secret police?

    An even better question for you, Oblivion: Who shall set the minimum tax rate? Germany? Finland? Russia? Albania? The USA? Canada?

    Or should we kneel down and pray to the lord for guidance, and ask HIM how much tax the entire world should pay to the one world government?

    Oblivion, your case against Switzerland is fascinating. You seem to have isolated both sin and redemption, and further identified who is evil and who is good. Not only is that a discovery of biblical religious importance, it offers the possibility that the entire world can be saved. By you. All you need to do is be a little bit more exact with your accusations.

    Who are these evil people who bank in Switzerland? What are their crimes, exactly? Which bank do they bank with?

    And where do the six men who control the world meet in secret?

    If only you were willing to reveal the details of your knowledge, others like myself could take action to put an end to evil in the world.

    As it is, you are claiming the guys with black hats live in Switzerland and that they pretend to have democracy in order to fool everyone that they are not evil.

    It's a riveting theory, but there is not much one can do with it. We could pray, I guess.

    Shall we pray, Oblivion, to the christian god, to deliver us from evil?

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  • 104. At 5:45pm on 25 Jun 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    27. At 8:41pm on 24 Jun 2010, CrazyYank wrote:

    "We Americans have blown it and are in decline, a nation with far too many anti-intellectual fat people, many of them religious fanatics, who all want services and an easy life without paying for them. Then there is the rise of their political movement, this "Tea Party" of middle-aged angry white folks, a veneer of anti-government philosophy put over a cauldron of racism and selfishness."

    ____________

    How true.



    Fascinating that the Europeans now want to stick to 3% budget deficit limits. Of course, if there had been discipline before, the present crisis might have been avoided. But now, when (at least temporarily) deficit spending is required, at exactly the wrong moment they decide to "get religion" on debt.


    Continued economic stimulus expenditure is probably still ok, and, on balance, is probably a good idea, provided that it is used to create long term assets, preferably ones that generate cash flow in terms of producing electrical power, license fees for running rights; or road tolls.

    If stimulus funds are is used merely to support short term transfers to individuals, or to build white elephant "bridges-to nowhere" in the electoral districts of influential politicians, the entire exercise is merely inflationary and will achieve no lasting long term benefit to off-set the lasting long term debt that is being incurred.

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  • 105. At 6:23pm on 25 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    margaret howard

    Re #102

    Well, for starters, Your "..centuries old.." & my 'century old alliance' are wholly different: Mine was referring to the approx 100 years of USA-UK links through military/foreign engagements at various episodes during that period (circa 1917 to 2010).

    I don't know what You had in mind: I can only add that my 'century' just about negates every point You made thereafter as I did not refer to anything pre-1900 anywhere in my #17 comment.

    Furthermore, Your "..frankly the pictures You paint have nothing to do with reality.. (re living in Europe)": Well, almost all that You wrote I would agree with! E.g. "diverse people share it", is surely the specific point I have made time-and-again about the 'multi-cultural' UK & other European nations, and, "never been healthier and wealthier", but exactly so and therefore my point about on this Blog debate about the 'under-class' & 'trafficked' people is surely all the more relevant when the great majority appear to be doing so well.
    You actually wrote, "..these present troubles are but a blip..", which is another version of my Comment on the Blog previous to this one about the 'cyclical nature' of the recent Economic-Fiscal downturn.

    So, to sum up: Totally diagree with Your first half as it was not related to my contribution; and, more-or-less no argument with Your second half as it confrims views I have put forward myself.

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  • 106. At 6:36pm on 25 Jun 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    That was well said, Margret howard. You offer a valuable perspective, amidst the excitement and doom saying.

    I think you're right to focus on the positives, and certainly it is true that Europeans never had it so good. Not the vast majority of them, anyway.

    I have been thinking recently that if we are to look to keep what is good, and not discard it in search of the perfect, perhaps the answer is simply to embrace the current system of ever growing money supply and economic growth via debt. Surely it is absurd, but is it any more absurd than war? And after all, war was the previous "solution" to economic crisis. The modern idea of printing money seems far more sane and dignified, even if it does make for some fairly bizarre outcomes.

    So i suppose it is possible to get behind the idea that growth through debt is a reasonable way to live. If one had to make a choice between living in such a system or living in former systems, debt doesn't look so bad. And most of us have so very little, in terms of ownership of actual resources, that it really ought not bother us that we die in debt. Debt or zero wealth, what is the difference, so long as your children are not made slaves to repay the debts belonging to you?

    Debt slavery is, of course, outlawed in most of the world. I've seen it in India first hand. I met an indian who was working as a captive labourer to pay off debts incurred by his father. His health was destroyed when I met him as he worked in a quarry, I think he may have had TB. But he was happy when I met him, because he had been told by lawyers that his son, who was the reason I was there as our school was sponsoring his son's orphanage, would be free.

    So debt slavery is ugly when it is passed down through generations, and I guess we should be thankful that in the west we only have this institution via the system of government and sovereign debt. Apart from sovereign debt, the sins of the father are not passed to the son.

    And anyway, I suppose we need some form of passing sins from the older generation to the next. I mean, if we were not stealing from our grandchildren, if we were not devoted to this system of theft from the unborn, might we not wonder if perhaps we had missed a chance in life?

    After all, the recovery is going to come sooner or later, and that is more or less just the same as the unborn stealing from us. We could have had the recovery, and been rich, now. So it is fitting that we enslave our children's children, and that we steal from those yet to live and work.

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  • 107. At 6:39pm on 25 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Gheryando

    Re #96

    And only a day or so ago I became aware of where some of Your unedifying 'grievances' lay - - I wasn't impressed then & nothing has changed - - it must be my sense of 'Citizenship'.

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  • 108. At 6:49pm on 25 Jun 2010, Oblivion wrote:

    Democracythreat

    I take your point about the various other tax havens, and I agree. However, their existence has no bearing on the fact that the merits of the Swiss cannot be assessed without taking into account the source of it's wealth and prosperity: namely foreign gold, money and secrets.

    Swiss wealth and the Swiss system go hand in hand. It is essential that Switzerland have a decentralised military (every home must have an atomic bunker and men may carry arms), in order to defend it's assets while preserving military neutrality. Such examples could be listed at length. It is my conjecture, and a reasonable one, that without such sources of income, Switzerland's political fabric would quickly centralise, and without strong decentralisation, such sources of income would slowly evaporate.

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  • 109. At 8:22pm on 25 Jun 2010, Buzet23 wrote:

    #83. At 1:23pm on 25 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:,

    You seem to have a somewhat similar experience of politics and consultations as me so I understand what you say, as for Belgium I have many friends who are or were Gendarmes or Police so I have heard the jokes about the Belgium Justice(or lack of it) and how it is so incestuous.

    #102. At 5:03pm on 25 Jun 2010, margaret howard wrote:,

    So you have lived in the EU but have you actually met and known not just citizens but also those who have the power. As for "I have lived long enough to know that our continent has never been healthier nor wealthier and would not like to live anywhere else in the world. Considering the difficulties which our forefathers had to face in the past, these present troubles are but a blip and for the first time in our long European history today's citizens have 'never had it so good' and if we continue to address the ills that still exist in corners of our society without as so often in the past resorting to wars and violence we shall overcome them and leave a much happier place for our descendants." you are correct as to wars but totally incorrect as to the fact that the imbalances of society have been redressed in any way, family origins still control wealth just as they always did. Notaires are still appointed because their parents were just that, likewise most other senior posts. As for 'never had it so good', even McMillan made that mistake in the 50's and here in Belgium there are few that are not suffering from multiple political errors. For a once rich country to be reduced to the third worst debt/GDP country is this truly an example of 'never had it so good' and the success of the EU?

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  • 110. At 8:30pm on 25 Jun 2010, Menedemus wrote:

    DemocracyThreat @#93

    This is a link to VAT Rates by country within the EU: [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    It seems strikingly obvious to me that the UK hike in VAT Rates actually puts the UK into the same broad sweep of typical VAT Rates across the width and breadth of the EU.

    One can always accept that Cyprus at 15.5% VAT Rate was already an anomaly but even at 17.5% VAT Rate the UK was not taking as much tax from the chain of manufacture-to-final sale as the other EU nations where some have VAT Rates are as high as 25%.

    Strangely enough the UK still retains a zero VAT Rate on childrens clothes and food - again not something that many other EU nations do.

    One has to suspect that the UK would still remain a good place to have the 10 Million Construction Project even if it now costs 10.25million as we have the technical expertise and workers available to start right away if you're happy to invest?

    The only problemn is that if you wish to pay in Euros you might find it costs you a tad more than you might have hoped.

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  • 111. At 8:37pm on 25 Jun 2010, generalissimofranco wrote:

    @ 98 CBW
    This time, I certainly should abandon the fun as long as you have touched some very serious matters.
    I should, though reluctantly, agree that the conception of the EDF is doomed to failure. So far, all political blocs that existed for half a century period or more were dominated by only one power. The Warsaw pact and the North Atlantic Alliance are just at the end of the long list of mighty political unions, though based on different principles. To that matter, NATO, dominated by the US, for the time being, is the unique plausible perspective for the European democracies to meet the challenges of the 21 century. What I apprehend is the possible disengagement of Washington from the European theater.
    I understand your dissatisfaction over the way the musical score for the Common market concert was written long time before the adhesion of the UK. However, I suppose one should be aware of the inevitable loss of some portion of the national sovereignty when his country joins the EU. Just as is the case of the political entities that are built on confederation principle. It goes without saying that the next election of each national conductor is a matter of the democratic traditions and the political maturity of his compatriots. The Eastern Europeans follow the same trend (without any exception).
    Of course, the removal of Freedom, Rights & Responsibilities is not exclusive to (continental) Europe and you are right to note that the list of the politicians who more or less had abused of their functions is really long.
    (I have spent more than 20 years abroad, and, I am aware of the amazing change in the mentality of the people that has become a normal thing ever since 1989, here in the East. Half of my family is still in France, and I am trying to become accustomed to the new realities, no matter whether they are pleasant or not. One thing is certain, not only the economies of the European Union are closely linked; the fates of millions and millions of ordinary people are more and more dependent on the successful development of the integration process. We are doomed to be polyglots… and very, very tolerable.)

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  • 112. At 8:44pm on 25 Jun 2010, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    More likely a closed-circut video conference with the bankers for all to receive instructions at the same time. Trying to figure out how to cover for the banks when the other countries head toward deflaut. Corrupt and stupid but it will finally all collapse and maybe when started again things will be different. All agree that taxpayers should pay for the sins of the bankers. Gathering of church leaders after the plague trying to figure out how to blame the people and develop a scheme for the people to pay for their sins....clink in the coffers and a banker goes to heaven.....

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  • 113. At 8:47pm on 25 Jun 2010, Menedemus wrote:

    Further to my #110

    Now I see why DemocracyThreat doesn't like the new UK VAT Rate.

    I knew Switzerland was good but with a VAT Rate of 7.6% no wonder the Swiss want to stay friends with but does not want to be part of the EU ... High VAT might be catching!

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  • 114. At 8:50pm on 25 Jun 2010, Menedemus wrote:

    And further, further to my #110

    I don't know why the URL was unsuitable?

    Try this: http://www.tmf-vat.com/vat/eu-vat-rates.html

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  • 115. At 9:40pm on 25 Jun 2010, Oblivion wrote:

    Re: bankers.

    Watch CEE.

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  • 116. At 9:46pm on 25 Jun 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    Mendemus, I have a major problem with VAT. Even bigger than my misgivings about the brits, if you can believe it.

    The thing about VAT, apart from being a direct tax on lawful economic activity, is that it forces people to work for the government as unpaid tax collectors. It creates a situation where the business owner is reporting information about every transaction to the government.

    That is fundamentally wrong, not just in terms of economic efficiency for the market. It is wrong because nobody should ever, under any circumstances, be forced to work for the state without payment. And certainly nobody should be supplying information to the state as a matter of "duty".

    The state should pay its own way. Ideally, the state should have no more powers than any other civil entity in a society.

    But I think the reason I hate VAT so much is that it is such a massive revenue earner for government, and that makes government strong. I don't like that. I just do not trust strong governments.

    And before you say that is paranoid, look at the outcomes. This is not theoretical stuff we are discussing. This "happened". We can look at the situation and talk about the outcomes with certainty.

    So what happened, after the governments of Europe discovered the glory of VAT taxes? What did they do? How did they behave?

    Did they invest the huge revenues they generated? Did they use the revenues to build government assets, and thus reduce the future tax burden of the people they represent?

    Or did they take the huge VAT revenues and plonk them down on the table of the international bond market and say "Lend me everything you got! I'm cashed up, and I feel like spending. WHOOOOOO-EEEE! It's not my money, haha!"

    Like I said, we can see what happened. And that is just one example of governments behaving like criminal children with tax revenue. In general, I think there is a lot to be said for making governments achieve more with less, rather than allowing them to take everything from everyone in order to achieve their grand visions of perfection.

    I guess this is an ideological point, rather than economic. Either you believe government is the saviour of lost souls and sinners, in which case your apple did not fall far from the tree of the church, or you believe that government is mostly a business run by those with lots of money, and dangerous as heck when it gets too powerful.

    I think this is why big government is so popular, despite being so incredibly absurd and wasteful in practice. At the end of the day, most people fear death enormously, and believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden because that gives them a shot at beating death. So the product of religion still sells. The idea of being "saved" by a higher power is dreadfully attractive for the inherently timid. So is the idea of a contest between good and evil, because that is an inherent part of the big fairie story.

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  • 117. At 9:59pm on 25 Jun 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    Another point about VAT I would like to raise: in my actual experience of tendering for government contracts (mostly Olympic construction), the government is collecting money from itself. So that doesn't matter, aside from being a big waste for time for the people doing the contracting and books.

    But one thing it does do is to inflate the value of the economy, considerably.

    Think about it carefully: If government spending in the economy is 40% of the economic activity and you then introduce VAT, what happens?

    Well, everyone charges 20% more. Now in the private sector that results in a wide variety of outcomes. Some folks dig deeper into their pockets and pay it. So that inflates the value of the economy, which is interpreted by the economists as "growth". But some in the private sector just don't do the project, or they do it somewhere else. Or, in order to be able to afford the project, they cut back on other projects. So overall, the reaction in the private sector may or may not increase or decrease "growth" statistics.

    But in the public sector, what happens? Well the government just pays itself 20% more. And if government spending is 40% of your economy, and you whack on 20%, you end up with a staggering 8% rate of growth in the economy.

    Or at least, that is what the glorious statistics say. In reality, all you have done is inflated the money supply and the government needs to borrow or print more money in order to pay itself for the same things.

    But on the books, you have created "economic growth". And curiously, the larger the percentage of the economy which is government spending, the more economic growth you create.

    Thus VAT taxes generated huge growth (in the figures) for communist states, but almost no growth for states with a very low percentage of government spending.

    If you are very cynical, and I am, you may suppose that increasing the VAT is a surefire way of generating some growth. OK, raising it from 15 to 20% is not going to generate 8%. Only bringing in the whole 20% would do that. But it will increase the growth figures by around 2%.

    And that is enough to stave of a recession or even a depression. Not a bad result, hey? Great policy?

    Sure it is a great policy, if all you look at is the numbers. But it is absurd. It is a cheat. Underneath the numbers, all that has happened is that government has increased its own accounts payable and expanded its money supply, and at the same time made life much, much harder for the private sector. It increases its debt and then point to the growth figures and says "We are doing a great job! Look at all this growth!"

    Anyway, this is one of those conversations where those who can follow it probably already know, and where those who don't get the vague feeling that I am attacking their football team.

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  • 118. At 10:01pm on 25 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    generalissimofranco

    re #110

    It was 1973 when UK Conservative PM Edward Heath signed-up to the European Economic Community - - for his trouble he got ink thrown over him - - at the time like many Britons I thought he had made a reasonable commitment & he got a new suit into the bargain!
    It was April 1975 when UK Labour Government led by Harold Wilson presented in a Referendum the renegotiated Accession Terms for the EEC - - like a Majority of those Britons who participated I thought he had made a reasonable commitment and Voted 'Yes' to UK remaining in the EEC - - to most extent it was a fair deal & there was no mention of 'ever closer political union' in the bargain.

    So, You see, the UK Citizens never signed or joined up to a EUropean Union - - that political construct only came into being at Maastricht and incredibly the supposed handbag slayer of Brussels, Conservative PM Margaret Thatcher had done a lot of the prior negotiation. Her successor PM John Major & his Conservative Party betrayed the Citizens of the UK by not putting this entirely new Political entity to a Referendum (Maastricht only passed in the House of Commons by 3 Votes).
    I'm afraid everything EU since then is nul & void in so far as it has resonance with the British Public - - I do not claim a majority oppose the EU, only that we have no idea of what the view is of England-Scotland-Wales-Northern Ireland Citizens on the matter - - all UK Surveys would suggest this EU is unpopular with a significant number of Citizens and most especially among the English. The lack of Democratic accountability is the EU's 'achilles heel' (Ellinas will be pleased). Until such time as that issue of 'in' or 'out' the EU is put before each of the 4 UK Nations' Citizens for their consent I cannot condone or support any part of an anti-Democratic European Union.

    Basically, the orchestra string & woodwind sections appear to have moved through a whole reportoire centred on the playing of Debussy and Beethoven with a little Vivaldi & Bartok thrown in to appease the wider audience. Meanwhile in another part there's a percussion section intent on completing its compliment to Elgar - - personally I'm all for the 'Enigma Variations' - - such a lively, ingenious & vibrant melody!

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  • 119. At 10:18pm on 25 Jun 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    Oblivion wrote:
    "Democracythreat
    I take your point about the various other tax havens, and I agree. However, their existence has no bearing on the fact that the merits of the Swiss cannot be assessed without taking into account the source of it's wealth and prosperity: namely foreign gold, money and secrets."

    Clearly you do not take my point about tax havens. Equally clearly, you do not understand the source of Switzerland's wealth. With respect, I would say you know almost nothing at all about it.

    Did you know, for example that Switzerland has one of the largest merchant marine navies in the world?

    And did you know that Swiss governments such as the canton of Bern have been lending money to the UK state for over two hundred years? Because whilst the UK was spending and borrowing, the Berners were lending and earning. the result of which is that the UK has been paying interest to the Berners for centuries.

    Anyone who thinks Switzerland is engaged in business activities that are prohibited elsewhere should come right out and say what they are. Or, you know, maybe go learn something about the subject.

    Remember that you are talking about a country which has outlawed war for profit, for centuries. You are also talking about the people who invented the red cross.

    You claim that switzerland's sources of wealth are "gold, money and secrets" is not a seriously adult statement. What does that even mean?

    Switzerland has no gold. It has no gold mines, and the swiss government sold all its gold just before the price went through the roof, in one of the most spectacular economic blunders of all time.

    Money? Switzerland makes money from money? And that is bad why? Because everyone else is losing money from money? What are even saying, do you know? that the swiss are evil because they invest instead of borrowing? Or is there some other evil at play here that I don't perceive? Are the swiss evil because they have money? Is that it?

    And "secrets", what on earth do you mean here? Which secrets? Do you mean industrial patents? Or do you mean banking privacy? I think you mean the latter.

    Look, Switzerland does not have "banking secrecy" laws. That is a stupid myth from the english speaking people who cannot fathom the law which creates the situation for swiss banks.

    In Switzerland, the government does not have the power to use criminal laws in civil matters. This is considered fundamental to the successful operation of a civil law society. The reasoning is that government should not have the power of the criminal law enforcement institutions to take money from people in disputes. Instead, if it thinks it is owed money it should have the same remedies as everyone else, and go to court to get it. In a civil action.

    The reasoning behind that is that an elite will nearly always control government, one way or another, and if they can use the powers of the criminal law to take money (calling it "tax") from their competitors, then they will.

    so forcing government to behave in a civil fashion (go to court like everyone else) when it goes after money is a matter of constitutional law. It follows that people here have certain rights that they do not have in the UK or the common law world. People cannot be arrested and charged with crimes because the tax office want to shake them down for money. People cannot have their bank records seized by criminal investigators because the government want to shake them down for money.

    Do you understand?

    Switzerland doesn't have banking secrecy laws. It has civil rights for its citizens. The government has to obey the same law as the citizens.

    Just because you live somewhere where the government can access your private banks records and send the police to your house in the middle of the night and basically shake you down for money, that doesn't make it right.

    OK, if you are one of these people that believe governments can do no wrong, and that they should have total power to force citizens to obey the will of government employees and party members, OK. I understand that.

    Of course you think Switzerland is wrong, in such case. Stalin hated Switzerland. So does Jukka.

    Everyone who wants a totalitarian state to force everyone else to do their will hates Switzerland.

    But this idea that Switzerland trade in "secrets" is absurd. It is also wrong. You mistake the right to privacy of the Swiss for the right to keep "secrets". And you mistake the power of your own government to invade your own privacy and read all your correspondence for your generous and noble decision to not keep secrets from big brother, and to help out the crusaders in government.

    You never made such a decision. You never gave up your right to privacy. Because you never had it. You do not live under a civil rule of law. That state can do what it likes with you, and just because it doesn't is no proof of the matter either way.

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  • 120. At 10:28pm on 25 Jun 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    CBW:
    "The lack of Democratic accountability is the EU's 'achilles heel' (Ellinas will be pleased). Until such time as that issue of 'in' or 'out' the EU is put before each of the 4 UK Nations' Citizens for their consent I cannot condone or support any part of an anti-Democratic European Union."

    Whereas you'd trip over a flag in your mad rush to send conscripts off to die for the Queen and RBS.

    You're a strange one, CBW. A patriot of a monarchy and a closet democrat all at once.

    No wonder you're so angry with me. You have secret yearnings, nicht whar? naughty naughty. Don't tell Prince Harry!

    Well, everyone wants to vote on the laws under which they live. It's human nature. Even when they profess otherwise, everyone demands the right to think and have their own opinion.

    That is why I believe that eventually, direct democracy is the only possible outcome for humanity.

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  • 121. At 10:37pm on 25 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Buzet23

    Re #109 & Margaret Howard's #83

    Someone once said, 'Law is needed for order in a good society, but the orderly, good society is much more than law.'

    Police is such an odd occupation it is bound to attract an odd lot (sorry, daughter dear): They do a job that takes them into the grimmest realms of society for which many Citizens (myself) always find them at fault in some manner and yet where would any civilised society be without them!

    As for the EUropean living condition I'm with You in thinking MH #83 is at best over-egging the reality: No one can deny continental 'west' Europe has enjoyed an era of peace longer than any other post-Napoleonic Wars, and with or because of that has come the realisation of shared goals in key areas of pan-European Economic development.

    Nevertheless, within the UK/Continent of EUrope there are serious drawbacks & pockets of extreme hardship, neglect & exploitation that an entity as unaccountable, unrepresentative as EU-Brussels can and does deny. Brussels does not attempt/practise Goebbels' 'big lie' theory: It just announces another scheme/enquiry followed almost immediately by another Brussels-grab for intervention at National level. However, the actual destitute, the vulnerable, the 'gone-missing-in-society' still remain precisely in that non-person condition because an organisation as immense as the EU has even less idea than a modern sovereign State how to approach such amorphous groups and indeed even less intention of searching out those it does not even have to pay lip-service to every few years!

    Thus we have Brussels & a good many 'pro-EU' on here chucking out the line: "Trafficked People", yes the EU has a Policy on that, "Smuggled Addictive Narcotics", yes the EU has a Policy on that, "Cross-border Crime", yes the EU has a Policy on that... "People Without Enough Food", ye..., err... what? That's not possible, there was a Policy 2 years ago and it was to eradicate...

    The EU I argue is the political antithesis of that laudable post-WW2 EEC-NATO recovery of spirit, harmony & economic progression. It is a construct designed for the purpose of curtailing independent Free-will and in its ways denying social expression and social evolution. A homogenized supra-National community of Citizens is not what is best for the Citizens of the British Isles or continental Europe.
    I categorically state the EU-Brussels' ambition of 'one-size-fits-all' is the enemy of Freedom and the road to tyranny.


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  • 122. At 10:49pm on 25 Jun 2010, Menedemus wrote:

    DemocracyThreat @#117 and #118

    I entirely agree with you in many respects.

    In the UK the increase of VAT in the recent Coalition Budget was criticised by the Labour Party and accepted by the Coalition back benchers but hidden behind the rise in VAT is an interesting feature that should worry the people who seek austerity in the UK in order to reduce National Debt and not just the Budget Deficit.

    The surprises hidden in the budget was the decision to continue with large cash increases in total public spending over the five year period of the current UK Westminster Parliament. The Chancellor, who had said that 80/20 was the right balance for spending cuts and tax increases, settled instead for a 57/43 balance in 2011-12 and for 64/36 the following year. His spending totals are:

    2009-10 (Last Labour year) £669bn
    2010-11 £697bn
    2011-12 £700bn
    2012-13 £711bn
    2013-14 £722bn
    2014-15 £737bn (£68bn or 10% above Labour level)

    Thus, in real terms the UK Governemt is actually increasing spending over the 5 years they expect to be in power by 10%.

    That is how austere the UK is NOT being!

    Of course it can be argued that the UK governemet is cutting back on public sector spending but it is also goning to carry on spending borrowed money and therein lies the fundamental flaw.

    UK Tax revenues will be less than optimal as net growth is expected to range for 0.1% to 0.3% over the next few years and there will be higher unemployment and I believe there is a risk for the UK of Inflation as businesses take advantage of private sector investment and reducing private sector tax burden.

    The government will thus need to borrow to make up the shortfal and we are back in the spend-tax-borrow-spend cycle that is basically the problem for the European Nations and which Barack Obama wants to commit the USofA.

    Barack Obama is asking the Europeans to stop their drive to austerity and commit to spending to enhance growth. Looking at the UK Budget in more depth, I don't actually see that Obama has anything to worry about as the new UK governmemt seems to be happy to increase spending yet dress it up as austerity.

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  • 123. At 10:50pm on 25 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Re #120

    "..(British) conscripts.."!?

    UK has a volunteer Professional Armed Forces.

    The only "..strange.." thing I can think of reading Your contributions is why anyone at all gives credence to anything You write on the 'English-speaking world' because You plainly are intent on making up anything to suit Your anti-English argument!

    NB. It is getting quite odd: The amount of contributions You are devoting to my little, meandering Comments - - sorry, no autographs!

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  • 124. At 11:22pm on 25 Jun 2010, DurstigerMann wrote:

    @108 Oblivion

    "I take your point about the various other tax havens, and I agree. However, their existence has no bearing on the fact that the merits of the Swiss cannot be assessed without taking into account the source of it's wealth and prosperity: namely foreign gold, money and secrets.

    Swiss wealth and the Swiss system go hand in hand. It is essential that Switzerland have a decentralised military (every home must have an atomic bunker and men may carry arms), in order to defend it's assets while preserving military neutrality. Such examples could be listed at length. It is my conjecture, and a reasonable one, that without such sources of income, Switzerland's political fabric would quickly centralise, and without strong decentralisation, such sources of income would slowly evaporate. "

    I can tell for your posting that you have either never been to Switzerland and never looked at statistics of swiss GDP.

    Switzerland has an excellent educational and vocational system which produces a highly qualified workforce.
    Their GDP and thus their wealth do not depend on the financial sector. That sector makes up less than 15%.

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  • 125. At 11:42pm on 25 Jun 2010, threnodio_II wrote:

    #116 - democracythreat

    "The thing about VAT, apart from being a direct tax on lawful economic activity, is that it forces people to work for the government as unpaid tax collectors"

    VAT is by definition indirect taxation and, as such, inherently fairer because it taxes that which people are willing or able to spend and over which they have some control as opposed to direct taxation, which takes it before they can spend it.

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  • 126. At 11:46pm on 25 Jun 2010, DurstigerMann wrote:

    @117 democracythreat

    "But one thing it does do is to inflate the value of the economy, considerably.

    Think about it carefully: If government spending in the economy is 40% of the economic activity and you then introduce VAT, what happens?

    Well, everyone charges 20% more. Now in the private sector that results in a wide variety of outcomes. Some folks dig deeper into their pockets and pay it. So that inflates the value of the economy, which is interpreted by the economists as "growth". But some in the private sector just don't do the project, or they do it somewhere else. Or, in order to be able to afford the project, they cut back on other projects. So overall, the reaction in the private sector may or may not increase or decrease "growth" statistics."


    Well, yes. VAT does bloat the GDP.
    But more importantly, an inefficient and wasteful government and state apparatus does also bloat the GDP.

    VAT, if used in moderation, can generate valuable income for a government. So I`d rather say that the problem we should look at is how that income is spent.


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  • 127. At 11:56pm on 25 Jun 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    CBW, I just want to hear you say how much you secretly hate the queen.

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  • 128. At 00:11am on 26 Jun 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    threnodio,

    you have me there, but to explain I was not using the word "direct" in that technical sense. I meant only that the tax was directed, er, directly, at lawful business activity. The point being, VAT is focused (directly!) on the productive part of the economy, rather than a sales tax on tobacco.

    On the point of fairness, many would argue that as indirect taxes can simply be passed along to the consumer, they are exceedingly unfair. But then you have the debate about how competition causes some businesses to absorb the tax and thus win clients from others who pass it on..... but that takes a huge amount of faith in one aspect of the theory. If the margins are tight, in other words if the competition is already working, that can't happen. Those who absorb the tax will go into the red, and go under. Those who pass it on will survive, and thrive.

    durstigerman wrote:
    "VAT, if used in moderation, can generate valuable income for a government. So I`d rather say that the problem we should look at is how that income is spent."

    Meh. I know, that sounds about right. But again, I'd argue this has gone beyond the political and become a philosophical and almost religious question. Do you trust government?

    I don't think "You have to do so." is a legitimate answer. Nor is "yes", but that is my own philosophical position. I don't believe in group sentience. Nor do I believe in a higher sentience than the individual.

    It follows I am deeply suspect of folks selling salvation, be they priests, rock stars, plastic surgeons, journalists or politicians. And it follows that I see rich people as poor people with money, rather than as divinely selected angels come to save me from myself.

    And thus it follows that I cannot trust power, for I do not trust myself with power, and I prefer a political economy which reduces the power of government.

    But, that is surely a personal question, and hardly political at all.

    I'm even beginning to doubt the idea that humanity would be better off with direct democracy, peace and wealth. I see so much fear and faith in salvation, I'm beginning to think it might be a good thing, in utilitarian terms, to promote the stupefaction of the masses.

    I mean, I don't want to be saved, but I don't see myself as being fit to tell others that they can't be saved. People do seem to want to be saved. Perhaps life is hard enough, without being divested of our most comforting fantasies.

    But it would be nice if those who wish to be saved could do so without dragging the rest of us back into the middle ages, and without policing those of us who do not wish to be saved, and without foisting the burden of supporting their preferred church upon us.

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  • 129. At 00:20am on 26 Jun 2010, threnodio_II wrote:

    #127 - democracythreat

    "CBW, I just want to hear you say how much you secretly hate the queen".

    I am sure CBW will have an appropriate answer but, purely out of interest, do you have a particular queen in mind or do you mean the one who is normally referred to with a capital Q?

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  • 130. At 00:46am on 26 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    WebAlice

    Re #92

    Good to read Your humour is undiminished.
    Anyway, a few to hopefully tickle Your funny-bone:

    Foreign Relations:
    M. Talleyrand, Napoleon's Foreign Secretary, was talking to the famous intellectual Madame de Stael, and to the famous beauty Madame Recamier.
    Noticing Talleyrand was looking & talking more with Mme Recamier the upset Mme de Stael enquired of Talleyrand, "If we were shipwrecked together and you could only save one of us, which would it be Msr T?"
    Without a blink Talleyrand replied instantly, "Madame de Stael, you know everything to say and do, I'm quite sure you would swim to shore."

    Cold War bias:
    During an afternoon relaxation at a 1972 international conference between the USSR & UK the 2 nation's Ambassadors had a 50 metre race.
    The Times reported: 'In a friendly race between the British & Russian ambassadors the British Ambassador won.'
    Izvestia reported: 'A race was held between the 2 Ambassadors in a gesture of fraternal friendship, harmony and peaceful co-existence. The Russian Ambassador came in second. The British Ambassador was last but one.'

    Cold War 'courage':
    The senior Admirals of the Russian, American & British Navies argued over the 'nature of courage'.
    Finally, the Russian Admiral ordered a Russian Sailor to, "Climb that 100 metre Flag-pole, salute & jump down" - - immediately the obedient Russian Sailor carried out the order.
    Not to be out-done the USA Admiral ordered a Sailor, "Climb that 200 metre Flag-pole, Salute twice and jump down" - - at once the unflinching American Sailor carried out the order.
    The sanguine British Admiral called a British Sailor over and ordered, "Climb that 50 metre Flag-pole, Salute 3 times & jump down" - - the British Tar looked from the Admiral to the Pole and back again and then said, "You're having a laugh, what makes you think I'd be daft enough to do that!?"

    In triumph the British Admiral turned and said to his 2 counterparts, "You see gentlemen, courage is not quite what you thought it was!"

    Ah well, in their day, these tiny pertinent 'yokes' made me smile! Perhaps it's an English thing - - dry humour?







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  • 131. At 00:51am on 26 Jun 2010, Menedemus wrote:

    threnodio_II @#125

    You are right in that VAT is indirect and it is a tax over which the tax-payer, i.e. end-consumer, has some control because they can choose what to buy and what to, therefore, pay VAT on.

    However, there is one feature of VAT which is inherently unfair and that VAT is charged on the money value of an VAT Rated finished product as paid for with money that has already been taxed.

    If I earn £100, I pay 23% Tax + 9% National Insurance and I receive net-of-tax £67

    If I then buy an item that is valued £50 and pay 20%, I am charged a total of £60.

    I thus earn £100 gross but pay £42 to the Chancellor of the Exchequor with £7 in my pocket and a £50 item which will depreciate in value.

    Logically that means the Treasury gets £42 for every £57 I get and the value of the £50 can be immdiately be worth less the moment I pay for it and beocme the owner.

    That is not fair and the problem with preferring indirect taxes is that they are (a) additional taxes, (b)uncalculable to most people - in real terms - and (c) people have to buy certain items that are charged VAT like fuel, adult clothes and shoes and other everyday items that are not included in the zero-rated for VAT category so they don't get the choice of paying VAT or not as much as one may think.

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  • 132. At 00:56am on 26 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Re #127

    No, what You publicly & privately long to hear/read is that I or anyone on these Blogs believes as You clearly do about Yourself, that You are important to the World.

    You ARE NOT.

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  • 133. At 01:07am on 26 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Do the "experts" get it wrong? If they didn't, how would the world have gotten into the financial fix it's in now?

    "President Obama has been firing off letters warning of repeating the mistakes of the past, when stimulus packages were withdrawn too quickly. The President then phoned the Chief Spart, German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She was not in the mood for turning. "Yesterday, during a phone call with Barack Obama," she said, "I told him how important budgetary consolidation was"."

    Obama and Geitner don't get it. Europe is cutting budgets because it has no choice, its credit has run out. Its central bank cannot print money until the US Treasury does. If it tries it will be commiting instant economic suicide. And when the Treasury finally does, it will be commiting suicide if it doesn't. But it won't matter because it will be all over for Europe by then. Europe is in the terminal phase of an economic death spiral. It can't grow itself out of its predicament, all it can try to do is slow the rate at which it is being sucked down the drain.

    The US policy of relatively tight money to keep interest rates and inflation down and to keep the dollar relatively strong is killing Europe. Eventually it will also kill China. It is a beautiful thing to behold because it not only will put America back firmly on top of the heap but it is exactly the opposite of what everyone including the Obama administration wants to happen. They got it wrong before, they've got it wrong now. Until the US Treasury pours about five to ten trillion dollars into the American wealth stream in newly minted money we will continue to see a worldwide recession with anemic business activity even in America. When the European economies actually do collapse, money will flood out of Europe like rats deserting a sinking ship. That is what President Obama's so called stimulus would bring on even faster for Europe. You'd have to be a fool to invest money in Europe now. Europe is not America. It does not have a culture that fosters enterprise, innovation, risk taking by rewarding it with a substantial share of the profits. Instead it smothers it to death with regulations and bureucracy and should it survive that it snuffs it out with crushing taxes to sustain its corrupt socialist system. The EUSSR will die for the same reason the USSR died, it cannot generate wealth, it is financially bankrupt. President Obama should write Europe off. He ought to stick to Afghanistan where the final outcome is still in doubt and where there might still be some slim hope of victory. Obama is the worst President the United States ever had, worse even than Woodrow Wilson.

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  • 134. At 01:31am on 26 Jun 2010, Menedemus wrote:

    Further to my #131.

    My arithmatics was rubbish but the point I was trying to make was that as nice as we might think VAT is as an indirect tax it is an Additional Tax.

    If I am taxed entirely indirectly then fine but the typical mix of direct and indirect taxes in most western economies is not fine and means that people end up paying more taxes than they might do otherwise.

    The advantage of an Only-Direct-Taxes-Regime is that we might end up paying more and have less to spend but what we have to spend is not then further taxed and we still have the choice as to what to spend our money on.

    VAT is also a regressive tax in that the less well off earn less and so a larger proportion of their Net-of-Tax income is then subject to VAT compared to the better off who have more disposable income and who will pay the same amount of VAT for the same amount of goods.

    That is of course the good fortune of the higher income earners but it produces an unfair tax burden on the least able to afford additional tax.

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  • 135. At 01:31am on 26 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

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

  • 136. At 01:49am on 26 Jun 2010, DurstigerMann wrote:

    @128 democracythreat

    "Meh. I know, that sounds about right. But again, I'd argue this has gone beyond the political and become a philosophical and almost religious question. Do you trust government?"

    I trust the pope more than the government. And I am not catholic or overly religious.. =(

    But that`s not because I distrust a government per-se, but rather because our political parties and players in Germany have corrupted the system for decades. It has turned into a lobby-serving party-oligarchy.
    And from the informations I can gather, most European countries suffer similar problems.

    The austerity measures now are not targeting rich people again.
    I cannot say that I disagree with many changes in say the German austerity package, but where are the extra taxes for the rich people?
    But then again, I didn`t really expect anything else.


    If I remember correctly, you live in Switzerland, so I`ll give it a shot and link you an open letter from a German reporter in response to what our chancellor said ("we lived beyond our means"):
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]
    "who of us exactly lived beyond his means?" he asks.

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  • 137. At 02:22am on 26 Jun 2010, opinion wrote:

    58. At 10:55am on 25 Jun 2010, threnodio_II
    You are right. defining strictly the winners in a war may be a matter of debate. If we look at West Germany 15-20 years after the war (economy, society etc.) we may think that they were actually the winners. If we look at the state of the USSR they may look more like the losers. However, the situation of USSR during and after the war till its collapse was more than likely self inflicted.
    Maybe taking many aspects in consideration USA was the only winner. Britain was on the side of winners but I dare to say that that was possible only because of the USA intervention in W and USSR in E. Even France emerged as a winner.
    Whatever, that is past, I did not live the war so I do not know anything else but what is written by others.
    Back in modern times, at least Europe lives a time of peace so they can make there own decisions. I do hope that they are not very selfish. By the way when I talk about Europe I include all Europe in a geographical way and Turkey as well.

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  • 138. At 02:25am on 26 Jun 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    Threnodio,

    I refer only to the office, not the individual. She's obviously a very decent human being, and had no choice in her situation in any case.

    Menedemus wrote:
    "threnodio_II @#125

    You are right in that VAT is indirect and it is a tax over which the tax-payer, i.e. end-consumer, has some control because they can choose what to buy and what to, therefore, pay VAT on.
    However, there is one feature of VAT which is inherently unfair and that VAT is charged on the money value of an VAT Rated finished product as paid for with money that has already been taxed.
    If I earn £100, I pay 23% Tax + 9% National Insurance and I receive net-of-tax £67
    If I then buy an item that is valued £50 and pay 20%, I am charged a total of £60.
    I thus earn £100 gross but pay £42 to the Chancellor of the Exchequor with £7 in my pocket and a £50 item which will depreciate in value.
    Logically that means the Treasury gets £42 for every £57 I get and the value of the £50 can be immdiately be worth less the moment I pay for it and beocme the owner. "

    This is great stuff. I once did tax accounting for self employed folks in London. I think it was one of the things which turned me bad.

    But anyway, I once sat down and went through the books of one of my clients, and really looked hard at thr breakdown of revenue to the crown. It is actually much, much worse than Menedemus states here. I'll explain:

    So you pay your income tax and you NI tax, and then you have your £67 left over.

    But then there is council tax as well, nuh? So take away another few quid from the 67. Call it 65.

    But then what do you do with the rest? Well my clients were in London, so they spent nearly all of it on living expenses. And so most of that had VAT on it, meaning 15% of the 65 went to the gubment that way.

    So now you have 55 left that you could say "I spent on myself."

    But that is not quite right. Because, you see, the people who took your money didn't pass it on to purely private sources. If you keep watching where you money actually ended up, it gets perverse, very quickly.

    Fuel is an easy one. So if you bought £15 worth of fuel, the fuel levy was around 70%, or £10. So that went to the government. BUT.... everything you bought had to be transported, right? So part of the money you pay when you buy stuff covers the overhead of fuel to move it to where you are at. And when 70% of that is going straight to the gubment, my word it adds up. Of the 55, you pay 10 yourself for your fuel, but you also pay around another 10 in fuel taxes to bring the stuff to you. Aside from the price to manufacture those items. So there is another 20 quid in fuel levies, from your 55.

    And then there are import taxes and sales taxes, and parking fines (taxes), and alcohol taxes, and cigarette taxes .... I mean the list goes on and on and on.

    In the end, I calculated that the gubment would get around £87 out of every 100 you earn. One way or another, as a result of you having to buy stuff to live. About 13% of what you spend actually goes to tose who make and farm and build what you buy. The rest just kind of gets sucked up by big brother.

    And that was a revelation for me. I suddenly realized that the real size of the gubment, and the real impact it had on the quality of people's lives, was probably greater than in the soviet union. Because in the soviet union, a great deal was done in the black economy. It had to be, because the official market simply didn't have the goods people needed.

    And all that money, where does it go? Well, most of it is transferred to retainers, the employees of government. The tax collectors, the police, the soldiers, the nurses and the "teachers". But a lot gets paid in interest on public debt, too. And a truly staggering sum of the money goes to law firms. They "audit" and "advise" government departments, and laws have been passed to state exactly how much they can charge for that work. It runs into the hundreds and hundreds of pounds per page. for "audits" and "advice" that nobody ever looks at. Law firms generate tons and tons of these documents every year. After seven years they all get burned. But it quite something to look at, the amount of money which is paid to these firms. I mean, it is billions and billions of pounds.

    It almost makes a person suspect that sponsoring political careers might be a sensible thing for large firms to do. And knock me down if they don't do it, too.

    But anyway, that is the tax system. Between the gubment and the banks, it is a wonder people can even get enough to eat. It is no wonder at all that they work long hours and end up in debt regardless.

    It's a hell of a system, the UK. it is a giant farm, in nearly every respect. the people are the livestock. i suppose that is why orwell wrote "Animal Farm".

    I feel so lucky to live in a free country, where people vote on their taxes and where they pay their taxes locally and elect those who spend them locally.

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  • 139. At 03:55am on 26 Jun 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    At 09:52am on 24 Jun 2010, Mathiasen wrote:
    Some of the things we can read here are stupid beyond most standards. That includes message #70.

    Please take a look at what someone wrote to me here in this blog:
    "We have to protest somewhere. Just be grateful that we are non-violent given what arrogant, anti-democratic, megalomaniac "EU"-lovers have done to us."

    Should I expect this man to start a fight if I meet him? What else should I expect from a person of that character?
    Have the courage to use your common sense.

    EUpris: I have been unable to sign ion for some time for whatever reason. Otherwise I would have replied earlier.

    Re: “Should I expect this man to start a fight if I meet him?”

    If I see you attacking a helpless person, then you should most definitely expect me to intervene, physically if necessary, as I have done on a number of occasions. I don’t think you do that sort of thing.

    I do go to Berlin and it is possible that I could end up chatting to you. If I find out who you are then you should not expect me to attack you.

    In the last week an “EU”-loving politician has walked past me – safely. I consider his case to be a demonstration of much that is wrong with the UK and the “EU”. I did not attack him.

    A number of “EU”-loving politicians have crossed m path. Two of them did so repeatedly. I did not attack them.

    A young man tried to scratch my eyes out. I had him in such a way as to be able to break his arm with a flick, but I let him go.

    A word that has been used about me repeatedly is ”sweet”.

    I believe that you have demonised me in your “EU”-lovers head.

    What people like you and your fellow travellers Blair, Brown, Milliband, Sarkozy, Merkel, Barroso, van Rompuy, Aston and others have done to the British people is despicable beyond belief.

    But you have no awareness of it. You have no sense of democracy.

    Re: “Have the courage to use your common sense.”

    People like you won’t let them use their common sense. You will not let them have the referendums they want.

    I do not advocate the use of violence. I do think that you and your fellow travellers are causing people to think in terms of violence.

    The idea that the “EU” will bring peace in Europe in the future is, in my opinion, absurd.

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  • 140. At 04:09am on 26 Jun 2010, Huaimek wrote:


    Should we not be worried that the people attending the G20 in Canada , are the same people whose deviousness or incompetence has brought the western world to its financial knees . If their financial policies have wreaked such havock to banks , economies and currencies ; why should we be thinking that they will create the solution to pay off the debts and save the economies of the western world ? Are we all aware that the G20 is costing 1 billion , much of the cost going on security ? Couldn't that sum be betters spent , or saved altogether ?

    Globalism has a lot to answer for ! It is far safer and better for nations to manage their affairs in small controllable units . Globalisation will bring about the destruction of the world as we know and like it . The G20 is in the hands of greedy pigs economists and politicians who have no thought for the simple good of mankind .

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  • 141. At 08:25am on 26 Jun 2010, threnodio_II wrote:

    Menedemus and DT

    I accept the reservations both of you have about indirect taxation. Even so, my argument stands.

    If I earn an amount of money - and especially if I am in the PAYE system - I have absolutely no choice. I will have 25% of that money (or whatever my tax rate is)deducted and given to the treasury. If I decide I want a pair of jeans, I can go and buy a designer label pair for 70 GBP and give the treasury about 12 GBP of it or I can buy a cheap Asian copy for 20 and only give the treasury 3 GBP. If I decide I fancy steak and eggs for breakfast, I can go to my supermarket, have it cooked for me and give the treasury 17.5% or I can buy the meat and eggs, take it home and cook it and give the treasury nothing. If I go there by car, I am going to pay a huge proportion to the treasury, if I cycle, they get nothing. In other words, I cannot avoid it altogether but I have an element of control over how much I choose to give them depending on my lifestyle choice.

    This is not only fairer but it has the added benefit of introducing the element of 'benevolent social engineering'. If I cycle, they get less in the way of tax but I am not pumping CO2 into the atmosphere. If I stop smoking, they will be worse off but I am less likely to spend a large chunk of my life claiming sickness benefit. It is a trade off in which I am in the driving seat, not them. That, in a nutshell, is why I think it is fairer.

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  • 142. At 09:42am on 26 Jun 2010, Oblivion wrote:

    #119 Democracythreat

    To be honest, 0my information, which is very little, comes from friends and relatives who live in Bern. The consensus seemed to be that the social fabric was dependent on the ill-gotten gains of others keeping their investments safely stashed in Switzerland. So, while I agree that direct democracy would be preferable, I was making the point that Switzerland could not be used as an example of this because it is not clear that it's prosperity is a consequence of its political structure.

    You are quite right that I am arguing out of ignorance, and I apologise, and in fact this interests me enough for me to spend some time questioning my assumptions about Switzerland and find out more about it.

    However, even so, it is not yet clear from what you say if Switzerland can be shown to be an example of a better political structure, because it is not clear if there is that type of causal relationship between the Swiss political system and its prosperity.

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  • 143. At 09:44am on 26 Jun 2010, Buzet23 wrote:

    #116 & 117. At 9:59pm on 25 Jun 2010, democracythreat wrote:,

    I think the only thing I could comment on your postings are that as you know VAT is actually paid by the last in the line which in the majority of the cases is the consumer. The private sector just reclaim and charge VAT and are as you say unpaid tax collectors obliged to disclose all manner of statistics to government as I know all to well from having to complete VAT and TVA returns. I had not thought of the 'Growth' impact on public sector contracts but rather that this increase also affects the amount we pay to the EU as VAT receipts affect our contributions being one of the three sources of EU revenue.

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  • 144. At 10:03am on 26 Jun 2010, ishkandar wrote:

    #9 >>Canada isn’t so much opposed to the bank levy as
    1. allowing each country to make its own decision
    2. not interfering or penalizing Canadian bankis which have followed strict financial regulation and do not deserve to be penalyzed.
    Also a decision is required: Once the bank levy is at limit (say $20B) what happens to the additional? Does it get reallocated for social programs, or does this bank levy just grow and grow and grow…

    I think you missed the point here. The object of the bank levy is not to penalise the bad banks but to squeeze every penny/cent out of *ALL* banks to help pay for the relevant government's spendthrift ways !! The fact that the Canadian banks have kept a tighter hold on their purse-strings simply means they are that much bigger targets for taxing !!

    Meanwhile, HSBC has moved it's HQ operations out of Britain abd back to Hong Kong, where it started, probably to avoid just such a punitive tax on its international earnings !! Without such earnings, growth in any country will be that much the harder !!

    I applaud Frau Nein for resolutely sticking to her guns and saying - *NEIN* !! It's time and over-time that the spendthrift governments took a long hard look at their economies instead of looking for quick fixes at the expense of future generations and seeking scapegoats to blame their own mistakes on !!

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  • 145. At 10:06am on 26 Jun 2010, Buzet23 wrote:

    #134. At 01:31am on 26 Jun 2010, Menedemus wrote:

    Further to the discussion of VAT I have pasted an excerpt from the EU budget document for 2008, since VAT is primarily an EU tax and source of EU revenue, thus the 5% increase has the result of not just boosting the UK tax-man but also giving the EU commissars more money to waste.

    the vat own resource :-
    The VAT own resource is levied on Member States’ VAT
    bases, which are harmonised for this purpose in accordance with Community rules. The same percentage is levied
    on the harmonised base of each Member State. However,
    the VAT base to take into account is capped at 50 % of each
    Member State’s GNI. This rule is intended to avoid the less
    prosperous Member States paying out of proportion to
    their contributive capacity, since consumption and hence
    VAT tend to account for a higher percentage of a country’s
    national income at relatively lower levels of prosperity.
    In 2008, the 50 % ‘capping’ was applied to 13 Member
    States (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Ireland,
    Greece, Spain, Cyprus, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland,
    Portugal and Slovenia).

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  • 146. At 10:18am on 26 Jun 2010, Buzet23 wrote:

    #140. At 04:09am on 26 Jun 2010, Huaimek wrote:,

    You are in a lot of ways right, the sight of them slapping each other on the back and joking was nauseous this morning and when one factors in the cost of this conference their audacity is astounding. Money is no object to their minds when it concerns themselves.

    As for globalisation have you not considered that the EU is in effect a globalisation of the European continent and EU expansion a step towards global globalisation?

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  • 147. At 10:34am on 26 Jun 2010, DurstigerMann wrote:

    @133 MAII

    "
    The US policy of relatively tight money to keep interest rates and inflation down and to keep the dollar relatively strong is killing Europe. Eventually it will also kill China. It is a beautiful thing to behold because it not only will put America back firmly on top of the heap but it is exactly the opposite of what everyone including the Obama administration wants to happen."

    The only thing it will kill is my head, because it cannot take your ignorance of monetary policy.
    Low interest rates don`t keep inflation down.

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  • 148. At 11:33am on 26 Jun 2010, threnodio_II wrote:

    #147 - DurstigerMann

    @133 MAII

    "Low interest rates don`t keep inflation down".

    They do, however, encourage reckless borrowing which is probably the strongest argument in favour of tighter bank regulation. Yes we want to encourage them to lend but they must not be allowed to repeat the sub prime type of lending which helped get us into this mess in the first place.

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  • 149. At 11:39am on 26 Jun 2010, generalissimofranco wrote:

    @99 Threnodio_II
    First of all I have to apologize for my long silence. When reading your new cover name, I thought it referred to another blogger. However, when I took more care to understand your comments, I quickly remembered your previous posts of late 2008 which had impressed me at that time. I recalled also to have lectured MA over his, shall I say, too extremist reaction to some of your earlier posts, etc.
    Now, in addition to what you wrote to CBW, I would like just to comment that what happens in Hungary in terms of reconstruction of the infrastructure and of large scale measures aimed at the preservation of the natural resources, may be said also for Bulgaria (the biggest foundry of the country has been closed this month and declared broke). The ecologists are present each time when a new huge industrial project is being started, etc. Of course, the consequences of the recession are still evident, the unemployment is around 10% (which is still considered here as a very alarming fact); the government starts a merciless campaign against the corruption and the fraud at the high stores of the state administration and in the country; the confidence of the ordinary people in the activities of the public authorities slowly, but irreversibly is being restored, etc. And last but not least, our folks are gradually getting accustomed (a thing that was virtually impossible some 20 years ago) to the fact that they are already citizens of a larger entity, where they can freely move, work and live. In short, the mentality of our youngsters here is too different compared to that of the previous generations.

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  • 150. At 12:18pm on 26 Jun 2010, Menedemus wrote:

    Buzet23 @#145

    It may be me being entirely cynical but back in February, I recall the EU Reporter was suggesting that the EU was intending to harmonise VAT across the EU.

    Indeed, I thought I would go look and this was what the EU Reporter disclosed in February: "The European Union is harmonising VAT across the 27 member states. A 20 percent norm will be introduced probably by June with registration also likely to be harmonised at the Belgian standard of €5000 earnings per annum."

    One suspects that our new UK Coalition is as intent on being servile to the 'collective good' decisions of the EU as it can be. The UK in one fell swoop has just upped VAT to the harmonised level that was ordained by the EU and done under the pretext of reducing the UK's Public Expenditure.

    Bang goes my hopes that the Conservative Party might EVER actually offer the British People a referendum on the EU or, indeed, actually be tough on the EU at all.

    I suppose it has been a while a coming as the UK has been committed to contributing 7bn Euros per annum to the EU by 2013 by Blair and then Brown.

    Just another example of political double-speak and keeping the truth from the British People.

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  • 151. At 12:18pm on 26 Jun 2010, generalissimofranco wrote:

    @139 EUprisoner
    I thank you for the civilized way you applied to defend your position, and, thank you for the indirect moral support. Being a pro-EU, I shouldn't have expressed (in that very sarcastic way) my own dissatisfaction over the declarations of the top mainland politicians concerning the ways and measures to be applied in order to curb the consequences of the present recession. It could be however, that I was, shall I say, in a funny mood when I wrote my post @ 70. As a matter of fact, I do share more or less the approach of the German chancellor, of the president of the European council and that of the chairman of the ECB. However, being an economist, I was somewhat frustrated by the primitive approach of treating such important issues like the budget cuts, the freeze of wages/pensions, etc. which means that finally, the burden of the recession will lie on the working people, on those who are not and shall never be decision makers. Which is the reason, why my first reaction was more sarcastic than usual.
    (What a pity I did not arrest you for spying on our troops in 1968)

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  • 152. At 12:20pm on 26 Jun 2010, threnodio_II wrote:

    #149 - generalissimofranco

    Thank you. The new cover name became necessary because of technical issues but I tried to stay close to the original. Anyway, no apology required.

    Speaking of the younger generation, what I find encouraging here is that the understandable residual anger about 1956 is gradually fading. A younger generation prefers to remember the quiet and calm way in which the Soviets did respect the wishes of the satellite states in 1989-90 and respected their agreement to depart completely '91. The older folk are beginning to see it this way too so, while the heros of the uprising are still honoured, they also understand that this was the old Soviet Union, not the new Russia. The result has been a distinct warming in relations with deals over gas pipelines amongst other things.

    The city's tourist magazines are beginning to appear in Russian and Russian visitors are here in numbers and spending freely. Now that the missile defence shield issue has gone away, hopefully the Czech Republic can begin to forgive the Prague Spring episode. It is interesting that the new British government has made friendly noises about Russia as well, in marked contrast to the last lot.

    Let us hope that we are seeing the beginning of the end for the old resentments and the start of a new era of mutual respect.

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  • 153. At 12:28pm on 26 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Drugstore man, threnodious, they don't seem to teach you much about economics where you went to school.

    First Drugstore man;

    "The only thing it will kill is my head, because it cannot take your ignorance of monetary policy.
    Low interest rates don`t keep inflation down."

    You need to learn the law of supply and demand. By keeping the supply of money relatively low compared to the amount of goods, a lot of goods including houses, inventories of cars, and all manner of consumer items is chasing the limited supply of money. People can't raise prices for what they charge, there are others with comparable merchandise and services who want to get rid of it just as badly and will accept lower prices. That is why the prices of houses fell. That is what a bubble market is about, creating surplus far beyond what is needed because demand is based on speculation of price, not need. The imbalance will not be corrected until what market there is absorbs the surplus supply and then the market will only be satisfied by creating more product again. If the money supply were to increase, people would have easier access to it through credit and would be willing to pay higher prices. This would decrease the value of money relative to goods. This is what the Obama administation is avoiding. It would also decrease the value of past fixed rate debt compared to the value of money. It is why the world is not recovering at anything like an acceptable pace.

    threnodious, your mistake is more complex. The interest rate the US government is paying for its own borrowing is being kept low. This is acceptable to the market because right now fear that private debt might not be paid back at all is so high people are willing to lend the US government money on the assurance it will be returned even with almost no intrest. The term "return of investment, not return on investment" has been heard over and over again since the collapse in the fall of 2008. US Treasury obligations are still the safest investment in the world and so long as markets believe the US government will not devalue its currency frightened investors will flock to it. In the private economy, things are not so rosy. Fear of continued business failures, unemployment, lack of confidence in the future has made lenders too worried that private loans will not be paid back. Credit for many normal business investments and private purchases are almost impossible to get. Were it not for the US government subsidizing mortgages, (housing loans) through FHA they would be just about impossible to obtain too. But you can be sure that those which are being granted are being given very high scrutiny by lenders.

    We are in an economic winter. Is this just the start a thaw at least for the US and China or a temporary respite before an ice age? That is up to the US government through the US Treasury department. As of now, it looks like Europe will freeze to death before spring arrives if it ever does. The good news for Americans is that massive printing of money by the Treasury is inevitable. It will be the only way to pay back the mountain of debt the government owes. If the US government tries to obtain that money by raising taxes it will just make the recession worse. Of course it could cut taxes and cut its own spending even more. What would that do? In the short run it could be bad but in the long run it will be the only way for it to find a responsible way to manage the economy. Otherwise the US will eventually go the way of Greece too.

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  • 154. At 12:35pm on 26 Jun 2010, Oblivion wrote:

    #148

    Interest Rates. The evidence does not support the hypothesis that low base interest rates precede borrowing. The evidence is to the contrary - base rates lag private debt levels.

    This is an important misconception to dispel. Central banks do not regulate the money supply at all.

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  • 155. At 12:47pm on 26 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    cool_brush_work @130 Thank you :o)
    Humour and songs are always hard currency with Russians (in demand).
    BTW could never understand why English humour is called dry, what can be the origins? What's "dry" about it. As opposed to ? what? saucy? wet? soaked to the skin? Must google up (unless you give me your considerations?

    Hope your mid-summer party went well and what is a "footie", by the way? All walking? No sit down? a stand-up picknic? ????
    All walk with baskets in hands and eat on the go like a marathon? :o))))))))))))) Can not be.

    opinion @137 you wrote to threnodio, I apologise for interferring
    to interfere
    but it is not correct: "However, the situation of USSR during and after the war till its collapse was more than likely self inflicted".
    From your shimmering heights it seems to you that life in USSR was so bad that plus-minus one German occupation made no difference.
    As Mavrelius says I regret to be the one to break it out to you :o)
    that it isn't a realistic understanding.
    __________________


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  • 156. At 12:49pm on 26 Jun 2010, generalissimofranco wrote:

    @152 Threnodio_II
    I agree.

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  • 157. At 12:54pm on 26 Jun 2010, Buzet23 wrote:

    #154. At 12:35pm on 26 Jun 2010, Oblivion wrote:,

    "This is an important misconception to dispel. Central banks do not regulate the money supply at all."

    So who prints the money then, just as Gordon Brown organised some months back. The only question is simply how independent a central bank is from State or EU control, in the UK's case it is now much more independent than before and can regulate the money supply.

    #150. At 12:18pm on 26 Jun 2010, Menedemus wrote:,

    I think this is a long standing German plan as I recall that for years they have been trying to force harmonisation of taxation across the EU so that everyone is equally as uncompetitive. After all in their minds why should the inefficient country's benefit from low taxation and low employment costs which enables them to compete with the efficient but high costing German model. This plan is as stupid within the EU as outside as it makes EU products too expensive for the rest of the world.

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  • 158. At 1:06pm on 26 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    A general observation, a thought, when reading these interesting VAT discussions and MA's observations on how economy works, and G20 and is Switzerland a relaible democracy model for others to copy and all.

    I've spent 2 months in a Russian blog (ab things :o) (as some here know).
    Now, that one isn't a political gathering, rather an easy chatter style get-away thing. But still. However. I just thought. In 2 months there, lots of people, speaking on dozens of issues, and intorducing new subjects themselves - no one ever touched upon ANY politics (domestic or int'l), NO money was mentioned or discussed, NEVER government was talked about, and, how to say, I mean, you won't expect anyone there to mention G20 or BP or absolutely whatever beyond home and family and private affairs.
    Now, this is a phenomenon and something bizarre, come to think ab it.
    It is not caused by cencorship external or internal or self-censorship.
    Russians en masse are simply how to say, can't be bothered :o)))) with any thing beyond home and village and town level at max.
    ?

    Since I spend time with you for 2 years I didn't know myself there is such an absence of political interest I mean as if the world the Kremlin as minimum - or any thing! apart from cats and dogs and dacha-s and songs - doesn't exist! What has happened with the people is a clear change compared to what it was before and silly sociologists missed the penomenon entirely :o)
    While such SHEER TOTAL ZIL zero? nil? absence of interst is somehow worrying and I don't know what.

    sorry for interruption. I thought I will note before I forget.

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  • 159. At 1:07pm on 26 Jun 2010, Buzet23 wrote:

    #155. At 12:47pm on 26 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:,

    Dry humour is very funny in a way which is clever and not loud or obvious and is related to sarcasm is many ways or as someone puts it, :- by definition, relates to being serious and in doing so, becomes very funny or humorous or being funny but not appearing to be trying to be funny.

    In contrast to that you have American slapstick humour where a board needs to be raised to suggest to the audience that what just happened was funny, lol.

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  • 160. At 1:15pm on 26 Jun 2010, Huaimek wrote:

    #143 Buzet

    Re the EU being Globalisation , Yes , I have written that in a number of posts , even recently .

    I have seen it coming from a long time back when there were No Global demonstrations . I liked the french farmer with his cow , who was always getting into trouble .

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  • 161. At 1:16pm on 26 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    I threw in a hand grenade :o), testing - and got polite, how to say, absence of interest. The max I heard was "Alice I switched off TV 17 years ago and never watched it since" :o)))))))))))))

    One would think that's a special a-political club especially collected - but no!
    It's free entry, quite representative by cities, Russians from everywhere, and Siberia and Urals and Moscow and St. Petersburg and Volgorad-Stalingrad Volga anyway, and central Russia, and even separate ones writing from LA and Poland and the Baltics and Kazakhstan steppe - and all a-political to the staggering degrees. Like a flu! Transmitted from Russian to Russian worldwide! :o)))) A nation-based simultaneous pandemia! :o))))
    What is happening I wonder.

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  • 162. At 1:25pm on 26 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Oblivion;

    "Central banks do not regulate the money supply at all."

    In the United States, the central bank is the Federal Reserve. It is relatively autonomous. It can adjust interest rates but cannot print money. That is left to the US Treasury Department which is a part of the Executive branch and under control of the President. The Treasury is run by the Secretary of the Treasury who is a cabinet member and is approved by Congress after a hearing before he or she can serve.

    In other countries, one organization may serve both functions, I'm not quite sure how that works. For example the ECB or the BOE might serve as both. It seems to me that the Chancellor of the Exchequeur in the UK has more power than either the Chairman of the Federal Reserve or the Secretary of the Treasury but I might be mistaken.

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  • 163. At 1:36pm on 26 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    PS
    And the only dissident there is a man fired from cat lovers blog :o)))), for posting 1,840 photos of his cat (which is alright, by their standards, as I understand) but then he began to claim his cat superiority - which others took unfavourably.
    He was forgotten some place by a locator since the Great Cold War times :o))), as I understood, and the only light in his life in that desert or whatever is this tomcat and his well-being in the desert.
    So now we get his photos :o)))))

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  • 164. At 1:37pm on 26 Jun 2010, Menedemus wrote:

    MarcusAureliusII @#153

    I entirely agree that your original sentence in your #133 was not that low interest rates create inflation but that "... relatively tight money ... keep(s) interest rates and inflation down..." which is true.

    It is open to both the UK and the USA to 'print money' to push up money supply in their respective economies so that sovereign debt is cheaper to repay.

    But there is a downside: Inflating money supply inevitably generates inflationary prices and inflation of prices generates higher interest rates which then curtails borrowing and a stagnat economy and you end up with 'boom and bust' economics.

    The British have already shot their arrows of 'Quantitive Easing' ( a new word for increasing money supply) but the extra money injected has simply been absorbed by the lending banks to offset their own leverage to internal debt. As a consequence of the shortage of lending there has not been the inflationary pressures to date that would have normally led to higher interest rates but I suspect that the unusually low Bank of England Interest Rate will be going up soon as the inflationary pressure within the UK economy are still there and will eventually bloom into flower.

    Any Brit who lived through the 1970s and 1980s in the UK will tell you that 'Boom and Bust' is no way to live. The UK economy WAS "The Sick Man of Europe" and we had inflation running in the teen and 20 percentages rates, high wage demands to keep up and strikes galore as workers demanded income to match the fall in their standards of living and, if nought else, help with paying for rising food & utility prices, mortgages or rental costs.

    Your man Obama is not so much a Democrat as a Socialist and he loves to spend, spend, spend and the USA will no doubt print money to repay sovereign debt, pay for Obama's social policies and keep the USA going ... but the end result will be Boom followed by Bust.

    I think you will find that the problems that beset Europe and the austerity measures that the European political leaders are seeking to deploy now for Europe will appear within the USA economy sooner or later too.

    Austerity is now a contagion but it falls on unlistening ears like those of your President Obama as, being a good Socialist, he cannot bear the idea that not spending money is a good idea when you spend beyond your income for too, too long.

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  • 165. At 1:38pm on 26 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    WA;

    What does it mean when people say the British have a "dry sense of humor?" I'm not sure, I've personally never thought they had any sense of humor whatsoever. I suppose it means their jokes such as they are are kind of terse, a little wry, understated, and nobody really laughs at them. Come to think of it, I don't ever recall seeing Brits in a real good long belly laugh. They aren't that funny. Germans strike me as having a sense of humor closer to Americans. The French at least when I was there seemed to enjoy what we call slapstick humor. Their hero was Jerry Lewis whose main appeal was to about a ten year old mind. They would have loved The Three Stooges had they known about them. You can see a lot of them on Youtube. The Soviets had a wry clever biting sense of humor. Unfortunately the Russians don't. That kind of humor died with the USSR. The Russians since the end of the USSR have IMO what we call a corny sense of humor. They would have loved the 1970s US TV show "Hee Haw." It's the equivalent of what you might call "peasant humor" meaning not very sophisticated, not at all nuanced. I think what people find funny reflects their society's culture. America's has clearly gone down hill. It seems that what is now considered funny on TV is one person insulting another.

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  • 166. At 1:59pm on 26 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    MA, many good things died with USSR. But then we are working on it :o))))))))

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  • 167. At 1:59pm on 26 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    onion;

    "Back in modern times, at least Europe lives a time of peace so they can make there own decisions. I do hope that they are not very selfish."

    They say where there's life there's hope but I'm afraid in this case there is neither life nor hope. Europe not only thinks of nothing but itself, it considers that nothing of importance exists outside of Europe. That is one of the seeds of its sure and imminent demise.

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  • 168. At 2:07pm on 26 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Just thought an old USSR joke could be found appropriate in the EU quarters. By some :o)

    In fact it's not a joke it was a slogan written on big state posters:

    "Kolkhoz - delo dobrovol'noye!" = a kolkhoz is a deal/business of kind/good-will.

    Meaning - you join into a kolkhoz (collective house-keeping) as a result of own free-will and desire. If you want to - you join. If you don't want to - you don't.

    It became a set expression :o))))))))))))

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  • 169. At 2:52pm on 26 Jun 2010, generalissimofranco wrote:

    @ 158 WA
    I totally agree.

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  • 170. At 3:14pm on 26 Jun 2010, DurstigerMann wrote:

    @154 Oblivion

    "Interest Rates. The evidence does not support the hypothesis that low base interest rates precede borrowing. The evidence is to the contrary - base rates lag private debt levels.

    This is an important misconception to dispel. Central banks do not regulate the money supply at all."

    Base interest rates have nothing to do with private debt levels.
    If a central bank lowers the base interest rate, banks can borrow money for cheaper. This increases the supply in money.
    Effectively, this lowers the business interest rates and increases the DEMAND for credit.
    This, in turn, will slightly raise the interest rates again (supply and demand).


    That is also where MAII turns into the wrong direction:

    "You need to learn the law of supply and demand. By keeping the supply of money relatively low compared to the amount of goods, a lot of goods including houses, inventories of cars, and all manner of consumer items is chasing the limited supply of money. People can't raise prices for what they charge, there are others with comparable merchandise and services who want to get rid of it just as badly and will accept lower prices. That is why the prices of houses fell. That is what a bubble market is about, creating surplus far beyond what is needed because demand is based on speculation of price, not need. The imbalance will not be corrected until what market there is absorbs the surplus supply and then the market will only be satisfied by creating more product again. If the money supply were to increase, people would have easier access to it through credit and would be willing to pay higher prices. This would decrease the value of money relative to goods."

    Inflation causes the price-levels to go up. That`s correct.

    Now here is why:
    If you have low interest rates, the opportunity costs of getting hold of money by e.g. credits are low.
    This is an incentive for people to obtain money and spend it.

    That is why low interest rates are actually a cause for inflation. Because the money supply increases faster than wealth.

    Of course, at some point the interest rates will go up again (supply and demand) slightly. If the central bank and business banks don`t screw it up big time.
    You know what happened in the USA after the low base interest rates of the early 2000s. A huge chunk of responsibility for this lies with the FED.

    --------------------------------------------
    There are other things that can cause inflation, of course. For the Eurozone, the cause is rather a decrease in the velocity of money.
    For the USA, that`s not the case.



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  • 171. At 3:18pm on 26 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    WA;

    "MA, many good things died with USSR."

    No they didn't. The USSR was a dire threat to the continued survival of the human race. It gave humanity a choice, permanent enslavement or annihilation. It wrecked the lives of everyone in the world during the time it existed. The world would have been a far better place without it never was.

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  • 172. At 3:20pm on 26 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    WA;

    "I've spent 2 months in a Russian [gu-blog archipellago]"

    You have my sympathies.

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  • 173. At 3:51pm on 26 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    WebAlice

    Re #155 and my #130

    Well, I guess the mid-Summer party went well... we woke up 1pmish.

    Apparently my #132 & #135 were written 'under-the-influence' a tad, so the Mods have taken exception! As I don't really recall what the content was I don't actually care at all.


    What is "..footie.."? It is 'Football' shortened - - I'm an avid Sport Fan - - unfortunately, a spinal injury in 1981 ended my involvement & my army career. Nothing awful, but no more sport.

    What is "..Dry..'humour'.."? Have to say it is not something easily expressed: The joke's topic and punch-line is perhaps not an obvious one and it is a slow-fuse tale.
    Britain is blessed by Comic talent of all sorts appealing to every type of audience: The TV Sit-Com variety (e.g. from 'Steptoe & Son' to 'My Family') through to Comedic Sketches (e.g. 'Morecambe & Wise' to 'Little Britain') and the Stand-up comedians (e.g. from 'Bernard Manning' to 'Shazia Mirza').

    Cannot really discuss humour - - I leave that to experts like MAII who proposed the Germans have similar 'humour' to Americans! Obviously he never heard Lenny Bruce, Jackie Mason, or Richard Pryor in the past or more recently Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy, Ellen DeGenera.. - - if he had ever heard a German "..belly-laugh.." it might go some way to explain his own ill-humour toward Europe & Britain!

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  • 174. At 5:25pm on 26 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Drugstore man;

    You seem so confused. You seem to have a lot of euroneous ideas.

    "Inflation causes the price-levels to go up. That`s correct."

    No, inflation is the description of prices going up. It is the deflation of the value of money that results in the inflation of prices and a demand for an increase in wages to pay for them. When money is worth less, people want more of it for the things they sell including their own labor.

    "If you have low interest rates, the opportunity costs of getting hold of money by e.g. credits are low.
    This is an incentive for people to obtain money and spend it.

    That is why low interest rates are actually a cause for inflation. Because the money supply increases faster than wealth."

    This is absolutely baffling. If the money supply increases faster than the goods and services it can buy, then people who lend money will want higher interest rates expecting that each unit of the money they get back will be worth less...so they will want more of it. When business activity is low, interest rates are also usually low, certainly in a recession or depression. Banks won't lend very much because most would be borrowers will be considered unworthy credit risks. That is the risk of business bankruptcy or personal bankruptcy is too great. They usually don't have much money to lend anyway. The money supply is tight. That is what the US government is doing now. When its debts come due, if it can't roll them over with new bonds, it will either have to raise tax rates which will lead to more failures and lower actual tax revenues or print it.

    "Of course, at some point the interest rates will go up again (supply and demand) slightly. If the central bank and business banks don`t screw it up big time."

    The money supply is in the control of the government. The banks have nothing to do with it. The government can create or destroy money at will. What it cannot do is create wealth. All it can do is create incentives for others to create wealth. That is what Europe doesn't know how to do or is unwilling to do. You cannot create wealth in the culture that has been prevalent in Europe since time immemorial. The way Europe obtained most of its wealth was stealing it from its colonies. Then after WWII it was handed the capacity to create wealth on a silver platter by the US government which gave incentives to Amerian private industry to expand into Europe. After the cold war, it merely borrowed to maintain its standard of living. That is one reason why its current outlook is so bleak.

    "You know what happened in the USA after the low base interest rates of the early 2000s. A huge chunk of responsibility for this lies with the FED."

    There was a recession in the US in 2000. Lower interest rates and increasing the money supply is a normal reaction to recession. Those are two elements of economic stimulous.

    "--------------------------------------------
    There are other things that can cause inflation, of course. For the Eurozone, the cause is rather a decrease in the velocity of money.
    For the USA, that`s not the case."

    For the Euro it is the non existance of sufficient means and opportunity to create wealth, only the facility to consume it. When that happens, the value of the currency against other currencies goes down. As the Euro drops in value, the price of imports to Europe in Euros will rise. That is inflation. Without a corresponding rise in salaries which won't happen, Europeans will live at a lower standard of living.

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  • 175. At 8:50pm on 26 Jun 2010, DurstigerMann wrote:

    @174 MAII

    "No, inflation is the description of prices going up. It is the deflation of the value of money that results in the inflation of prices and a demand for an increase in wages to pay for them. When money is worth less, people want more of it for the things they sell including their own labor."

    That`s correct.
    I did not term it correctly.


    "This is absolutely baffling. If the money supply increases faster than the goods and services it can buy, then people who lend money will want higher interest rates expecting that each unit of the money they get back will be worth less...so they will want more of it. When business activity is low, interest rates are also usually low, certainly in a recession or depression. Banks won't lend very much because most would be borrowers will be considered unworthy credit risks. That is the risk of business bankruptcy or personal bankruptcy is too great. They usually don't have much money to lend anyway. The money supply is tight. That is what the US government is doing now. When its debts come due, if it can't roll them over with new bonds, it will either have to raise tax rates which will lead to more failures and lower actual tax revenues or print it."

    Have you ever spent a minute thinking about how banks get their money?
    They borrow it from the central bank.
    If the central bank lowers the base rate, banks are able to borrow money at this lower "price".
    In theory, this will lead to an increased supply of credit on the markets, which will lower the interest rates on the short run.


    You say that inflation destroys the incentive to lend money.
    But the banks borrow the money themselves and therefore profit from the devaluation on the other side.
    If you can borrow money cheaper you can also lend it for cheaper without suffering losses in real interest rate.

    And just to clarify this:
    I am not talking about long-term high inflation, but about a short-term increase of inflation.


    "The money supply is in the control of the government. The banks have nothing to do with it. The government can create or destroy money at will. What it cannot do is create wealth. All it can do is create incentives for others to create wealth."

    And that is why the government needs to keep the money supply in check in order to avoid unnecessary price instability.


    "For the Euro it is the non existance of sufficient means and opportunity to create wealth, only the facility to consume it. When that happens, the value of the currency against other currencies goes down. As the Euro drops in value, the price of imports to Europe in Euros will rise. That is inflation. Without a corresponding rise in salaries which won't happen, Europeans will live at a lower standard of living."

    You should check this paragraph again, I think you mixed up Europe and the USA.
    In Europe, we produce and have trade surplus.
    In America, you consume and have a huge trade deficit.


    "That is what Europe doesn't know how to do or is unwilling to do. You cannot create wealth in the culture that has been prevalent in Europe since time immemorial. The way Europe obtained most of its wealth was stealing it from its colonies. Then after WWII it was handed the capacity to create wealth on a silver platter by the US government which gave incentives to Amerian private industry to expand into Europe. After the cold war, it merely borrowed to maintain its standard of living. That is one reason why its current outlook is so bleak."

    Do you know what students in North America had to prove when they wanted to study chemistry, physics, etc a hundred years ago?
    Proficiency in the German language.

    Almost all nobel laureates until the end of WWI were from Europe.
    That`s how backwards Europe was and is in terms of science.

    You keep on rambling about how "Europe" could never compete with the self-sufficiency of the USA, but what is Europe?

    Germany? A nation with almost no colonies (and those few colonies actually cost more than they earned) and an ascending industrialized nation ready to overtake Great Britain?

    Austro-Hungary? A nation with no colonies and, while lacking behind Germany in terms of industrialization, another ascending economic powerhouse.

    Nations like those?
    How about Scandinavia? Were they also colonial powers who could only rob other people in order to gain wealth?
    I think not.

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  • 176. At 9:17pm on 26 Jun 2010, Oblivion wrote:

    #157 Buzet23

    " So who prints the money then, just as Gordon Brown organised some months back. "

    That is irrelevant - the fact is that liquidity was created, base money supplies were increased, but borrowing and private debt nevertheless continued to fall. In short, the QE efforts did nothing to increase money amounts in circulation, and inflation did not happen. The money was hoarded by banks and corporations while the prevailing wind of deleveraging and deflation snuffed out the minimal draft of QE.

    DurstigerMann

    Base interest rates have nothing to do with private debt levels.
    If a central bank lowers the base interest rate, banks can borrow money for cheaper. This increases the supply in money.
    Effectively, this lowers the business interest rates and increases the DEMAND for credit.
    This, in turn, will slightly raise the interest rates again (supply and demand).


    Is there a time lag between the changes in interest rate you describe? If not, you are saying that base interest rates can have no net effect on business interest rates. You would need to show evidence for this.

    The evidence shows that base interest rates lag private debt levels. In other words, when people borrow more, banks overextend themselves and place demands for liquidity on the central banks. In other words, the central banks act at the behest of private banks. This is what the evidence supports, other conjecture, myth, mainstream economic or otherwise notwithstanding.






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  • 177. At 9:18pm on 26 Jun 2010, Oblivion wrote:

    DurstigerMann


    "Have you ever spent a minute thinking about how banks get their money?
    They borrow it from the central bank.
    "


    This is incorrect.

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  • 178. At 10:27pm on 26 Jun 2010, David Gussie wrote:

    Western European countries have been bloated with socialist programs for years that are now beginning to cost more than the revenue the governments are taking in. Universal health care is good and everyone should be covered, but it should be controlled and waste should not be allowed. Medical people are starting to become the elite in the United States due to their bloated salaries, and the fact that more medical tests are being conducted that are not necessary. Doctors are fearful of being sued and are passing this on to their patients by covering themselves with what ifs and handing out too many scripts for tests which are not need to make sure if they are sued they have something to come back with.

    In Europe taxes are high due to the social welfare states in Western Europe. I thing with a little financial responsibilty the nations can come of debt and not go into default. It is going to be somewhat painful but they all need a model and from what I have read the Canadian model seems to be the best.

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  • 179. At 10:47pm on 26 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    generalissimo, @169. So, you noticed as well.

    Mafricactus, @172 I've spent 2 months in a Russian [gu-blog archipellago]"

    You have my sympathies

    No, dear MA. It's you have my sympathies. With the "footie" :o)))))))))))))

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  • 180. At 10:51pm on 26 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    BTW Generalissimo, there is now there , like, 3 flags' - icons, at every message - when you click it translates the post into your own language.
    But that's about all, with improvements :o)))))

    I guess Bulgarian flag should be added. ? But the way google corrupts you are better off reading direct.
    (it's been found out in trials that English-Russian is alright.
    But Russian-Polish translations invariably end with the very opposite meaning of verbs!) (who'd doubt :o)

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  • 181. At 10:58pm on 26 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    cool_brush_work @173

    I will fan tomorrow in strict accordance with the fam. tree - rest assured.

    (handy to have a varied tree, for options - isn't it?)

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  • 182. At 11:11pm on 26 Jun 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    marcus wrote:
    "US Treasury obligations are still the safest investment in the world and so long as markets believe the US government will not devalue its currency frightened investors will flock to it.
    ......
    The good news for Americans is that massive printing of money by the Treasury is inevitable. It will be the only way to pay back the mountain of debt the government owes. If the US government tries to obtain that money by raising taxes it will just make the recession worse."

    So which is it, do you think?

    I would agree with your reasoning nearly completely, except for the hysterical claim that US treasury notes are the safest investment in the world. Clearly, if the mass printing of money happens, low interest treasuries are a loser. You'd be better to buy Apple shares, or some other high tech equity with huge capital reserves and a proven track record in innovation and market driven behaviour.

    I'll put the claim about US bonds down to your charming hyper nationalism. So too the entertaining comment:

    "It [USSR] wrecked the lives of everyone in the world during the time it existed."

    Well. I mean, the fact that someone can make a comment like this in 2010 says far more about the problems with the USA than it ever can about the USSR.

    I am reminded of a conversation I had not long ago with an American visiting Zurich. She asked me why everyone hated America all of a sudden. I hinted that perhaps it was not everyone, and that it was not such a recent thing. She then asked again, why so many folks hate the USA. I suggested that it was a fear reaction towards a culture which appears to indoctrinate its people to believe they are the very best, in every way, at everything worth doing. To which she replied, after a pause, "Well, we are. Who else is good at anything?"

    I laughed, thinking this was a piece of "dry" humour, but sensing my mistake I then simply said "Well, yes, exactly."

    She then asked "Do you hate that?", and I suddenly realized the hard core nationalism was a front, a way of proclaiming some kind of superior personal quality. This woman did not believe the USA was perfect in every way, but she did enjoy the fact that she could go around saying it was to people like me, and not face any argument. I realized then that nationalism is not just a mechanism by which stupid people are made proud, but also a way in which intelligent people can make themselves stupid.

    If you can act stupidly and still demand respect, does that not confirm your power? And does that not offer a sense of security in an often hostile world?

    So I see US nationalism as a more complex affliction than mere idiocy. It is also a way of establishing a proxy class system, with yourself at the top. It is a way of "staking a social claim" in any given social environment.

    I would almost go so far to say that the USA serves the wishes of the entire world by indoctrinating its people to believe the things they do, because after all it is not just the ruling class who enjoy the benefits of a class system. The lower orders, too, can take solace in knowing their place, and can be comforted by a fictitious structured order in an otherwise random and dangerous world.

    Can't they, CBW?

    I mean, if Marcus wears the white hat and you get to carry his toys from place to place, then the pair of you are a team, nuh?

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  • 183. At 11:11pm on 26 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Mavrelius, bla bla, "
    was a dire threat to the continued survival of the human race. It gave humanity a choice, permanent enslavement or annihilation. It wrecked the lives of everyone in the world during the time it existed. The world would have been a far better place without it never was."

    annihilation - for starters - was your in-put into the order of things.
    "everyone in the world" - the ones who "count", you mean. Travelling Russians now have encountered heaps of countries where it is impossible even to explain where Russia is :o)))), to say nothing of nuances like USSR. The world is a bigger place than it seems.

    How far better place you can watch in Kirgizstan news. Like you watched in Abhasia - Osetia news before. Oh sorry forgot you didn't. Your news got switched on for you couple of days later :o)))))
    ___________

    By the way travelling Russians all comment it is easier to find understanding with people in Africa than in Asia.
    If you stuck for a while in one of those regions - the chance to share understanding and good laugh is 100 times greater btw Russians and folks in different regions in Africa and is somehow very little in experimenting in Asia regions. :o)

    Though I heard one traveller how he was explaining where Russia is (they didn't know the word). Locals said , like - tell ab your country.

    He said, like, well, Russians settle normally by a river side bla bla bla. When in winter it is better to make a hole
    in the ice and get out water bla bla bla - didn't earn any undertsnading either.

    The desperate chap was naming many things more - didn't ring any bells.

    Then by chance he mentioned a hare. Like, in winter the Russian hare is white, and in summer it's grey. The crowd around livened up immensely "such a clever hare". Besides they had hares themselves.
    So on the hare and animal footing the talk winded up and expanded immediately and in this way through comparing who has got what and what those pets respectively do - both countries arrived to mutual understanding about each other.
    As there is heaps of nature in Russia this is an angle that we share with people in the African continent - they have also have heaps and varied forms, animals and lanscapes and are also bent on being interested in these practical things around. Voila.

    (USSR! ghm! I don't think one 'll be able to explain what USSR was even by means of hares!) :o)))))))))))))

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  • 184. At 00:11am on 27 Jun 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    Marcus, that was an interesting mini essay on the subject of cultural variations in humour.

    I'd agree with a lot of it. I think it is fair to say that British humour is either tabloid toilet humour, or very refined intellectual puns. Either way, it is probably true to say the brits don't go around laughing a great deal in public.

    Eastern european humour generally involves the slow death of a foreigner (someone born 5km away), and as far as I can tell Germans only ever laugh when the worst happens. But to their credit, they laugh when it happens to themselves, also.

    The french sense of humour is often very funny, in my experience, and I don't think I can characterize it well, except to say I have found it more intellectually based than you have. That might be a function of the respective company we keep. The french I know make a lot of political jokes, many of which are very good. I don't know any germans who make political jokes.

    Italians, who are my favorite Europeans because they are so friendly and funny, even if they drive like maniacs and speak too quickly, have a truly wide ranging sense of humour. They are also very compassionate people, which i think helps them perceive what is both funny and tragic in life.

    Swiss humour is interesting, because it has a mix from French, German and Italian. I tend to say that Swiss jokes make you smile, rather than laugh. The bad thing about swiss humour is that jokes are not well told. One is generally expected to give some definite sign that the punch line was understood, and then the typical Swiss sits and waits, as if to receive a reward, or praise, for being funny. That is a bit odd. But if you do laugh at a swiss joke, they'll remember it and love you for it.

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  • 185. At 00:21am on 27 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    drugstore man, dt, I'm not here to teach economics 101.

    BTW, drugstore man, there are two kinds of banks. Those which get their money from depositors and those who get it from investors. Banks may make loans overnight or for a very short term from the Fed or from each other but these are expedienceis which grease the skids of money flow between them so to speak. Small changes in interest rates they charge each other can have an effect on the economy though. The "Prime Rate" is the rate the Federal Reserve charges its most trustworthy customers...if it can still find any these days.

    Savings and Commercial banks make money on the difference between the rate of interest they lend at and the rate they pay their depositors at. Therefore banks may pay 2% to 4% for anything from money market accounts to 2 year CDs while they charge 6% for mortgages. Investment banks make money on their investments both for their customers and themselves. The FDIC was the guarantor of depositor's money in commercial banks and there was a corresponding one for savings banks. The restrictions were the kind of risk they could take. Investment banks had no restrictions and no guarantees. This was to prevent the kind of banking crisis that led to runs on banks after the stock market crash in 1929. One big mistake the US government made was to remove the barriers of distinction between them allowing commercial banks to gamble with depositor's money the way investment banks do. From what I can tell, the UK had no comparable government guarantees that FDIC provides in the US.

    I don't have the time or interest to correct all of your mistakes or yours either dt. There are just too many of them and life is too short.

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  • 186. At 00:23am on 27 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    WA;

    "No, dear MA. It's you have my sympathies. With the "footie""

    Let me see if I understand you. You want to play footsie with me?...under the table?...with all these people around? How bold and risque'. Unfortunately my leg isn't long enough to accomocate you, sorry :-)

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  • 187. At 00:30am on 27 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    WA;

    "Travelling Russians now have encountered heaps of countries where it is impossible even to explain where Russia is"

    Yes where Russia is? Or where is it? Take your choice. Thither and yon? Back and forth? To and fro? Neither here nor there?

    Speaking about here, hare, hear, and hair, it's hair today, gone tomorrow...at least for balding men...and women. Of course there are transplants...implants...cactus plants. You could always transplant an implanted cactus plant. I don't recommend playing footsie with a cactus plant though. Very rough thorny issue through and through.

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  • 188. At 01:16am on 27 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    MA :o)

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  • 189. At 01:20am on 27 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Eastern european humour generally involves the slow death of a foreigner (someone born 5km away), and as far as I can tell Germans only ever laugh when the worst happens. But to their credit, they laugh when it happens to themselves, also.

    :o)))))))))))

    and then the typical Swiss sits and waits, as if to receive a reward, or praise, for being funny. :o)))) That is a bit odd. :o))))))
    But if you do laugh at a swiss joke, they'll remember it and love you for it.
    :o)

    We should once compare where is said what when something happens in the world.
    Or not in the world. I don't know how to compare, to see the differences in approach to being funny :o)

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  • 190. At 01:45am on 27 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    MA, I will tell you a recent Russian joke :o)
    We are all watching how it is developing.
    There is an article in the Russian Constitution (best in the world rest assured)(if only it was once observed :o)))
    anyway it's article 31 which is about freedom of gathering. of people gathering in any q-ties in all places (at home :o) and on all purposes they wish.

    Now, every 31st of months which have it, folks gather in Moscow Triumphal squre and in St. Pete in the Palace Square. May be in places other as well I don't know.
    Thenm every time they gather, they are being grabatised :o))) and packed into police cars and unloaded at police stations. For violating Moscow and St. Petersburg respective city local laws that one cannot "gather" without notifying city council 2 weeks in advance and getting an OK.

    That's a local law which I suspect is introduced by city councils in absolutely local mini way - across Russia :o))) Coincidentally and independently :o))))

    Well, that's it.
    The only point of gatherings on the 31st -s is protecting the Constitution article No 31. Out of deep respect for No 31st , so to say, poor break-neck folks get together. To the same effect :o)))

    But things improve, last 31st was it May? yes. in St.Petersburg they were not grabatised.
    In Moscow still yes.

    Now, that's part 1.
    Part 2 is there was a reception of culture, say, moral leaders and reps in Kremlin at Putin's dinner. Various opera singers and museum directors, rejisseurs and actors and what not. Writers and the kind, to tell the PM of most urgent problems in their respective fields and complain and how to say, get something for their theaters and museums, cinema or whatever. For their industries.

    Now, we've got a rock singer who skipped the rock eh? problems :o))), and went straight to the business :o))) - asked Putin what's the problem with those 31st -ers? Why can't they gather the hell?
    Which culture and whatever, if Constitution is side-lined, for starters?

    The fallen silence across the hall :o))) and the following Putin -rock chap discussion is one of the most watched you tubies, discussed by all media :o))) (from various initial stand-points :o) - and, as a matter of fact, there is even a whole poem written on it as well :o)))) already.

    When I read the verse I actually wanted to go back to you at once and tell you only one news and shortly "Russia is saved. We've got ourselves a Writer."

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  • 191. At 02:37am on 27 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    WA;

    I think it lost something in the translation. It was very funny in Russian I'm sure.

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  • 192. At 03:01am on 27 Jun 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    81. At 1:21pm on 25 Jun 2010, Gheryando wrote:
    "Joins the mad-greek in anti-english-speaking tosh & gibberish!"

    is that everything you do these days?


    EUpris: Gheryando, when you do this, please could you give the number of the post to which you refer?

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  • 193. At 04:49am on 27 Jun 2010, Huaimek wrote:

    #136 DurstigerMann

    I agree that in an austerity programme , where taxation is used to help the economy and pay off the national debt , that taxation should be proportionate to an individuals wealth .

    To say tax the rich , sounds a good way to recover a lot of money , more than poor people can provide . However , there are far fewer rich people and taxing them more heavily may not produce the revenue expected .

    Often the rich are the providers of industry and jobs , so heavily taxing them might be detrimental to the over all objective .

    I am against Globalisation , though whether we like it or not , it seems here to stay . In the USA they have ways for rich people to save on taxation , by which they invest in a hospital plan or similar concept that benefits the people .

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  • 194. At 09:32am on 27 Jun 2010, generalissimofranco wrote:

    cool_brush_work Your post @ 95 of the privious trend
    Thanks for the detailed comment.
    I agree that the secular part of the Turkish society really cannot compete with the strong pro-fundamentalist propaganda, which lately, more or less, enjoys the support of the present “moderate Islamic Turkish leadership”. But that fact does not necessarily mean that the EU is somehow obliged to invite Turkey to join its organization in order to help that country to restore its pro-European and secular orientation.
    Most of your arguments aimed at the demolishment of what you call a Paris-Brussels-Berlin “dictatorship” are more or less well founded given the present decision making practices in Brussels, where a bunch of deputies elect the central EU institutions, which (with many reserves) are believed to be the embodiment, on a higher (international) level,of the representative democracy. I also feel that there is something wrong in those procedures. The Europeans are not yet accustomed to that. They have more confidence in their national governments.
    However, I feel somehow obliged to convey to you my real concern over the eventuality of the adhesion of Turkey to the EU. I clearly understand that the entry of such big, 80 million nation will misbalance the present status quo in Brussels, and that the UK will have a very strong support from Ankara when some important decisions are to be taken. However, let us not forget that Turkey is a Muslim country which migrants in Europe prefer to live in closed communities and refuse to integrate. Besides, the bigger part of Turkey is in Minor Asia, not in Europe. If we add to that the gradual trend of restoring the previous Ottoman ambitions (hegemony in the eastern Mediterranean) and the open declaration of Ankara aimed at the support of the Hamas extremist movement and the Mollah governors of Tehran, we must agree that there is no reason to conclude that Turkey has already met the criteria for joining the EU. (I do not go into details about the numerous available proofs of discrimination of what has remained of the non Turkish ethicizes, of the prosecution of intellectuals, of the killing of journalists, of representatives of foreign authorities, etc.).
    As I said before, many of your comments concerning the lack of enough democratic approach when important decisions are being taken by the Brussels’ institutions are well founded. However, if we agree on that point, we certainly cannot ignore the fact that the free movement of labor/capitals/commodities/services is continuingly gaining speed with the enlargement of the EU, and that at a given stage of the integration, the old pre-Maastricht (1992) legal frame of ruling our community has proved to be obsolete, i.e. non working. That is what I meant when I developed the idea of the already cumulated critical mass which required change in the institutions in order to avoid an explosion. Of course, that irreversible process has got its pure human projection. Many Europeans left their native countries in search of a better place for working or living. We cannot stop that massive move which will have sooner or later its positive impact on the even closer coexistence and partnership of the Europeans (My own daughters are in France, and there is little hope that they shall return to Bulgaria; in the bloc of flats where I live with my wife, there are two families that came from western Europe, one is Danish, and the other is English /a retired RAF pilot with his wife.)
    If we have to describe the present situation in the mainland, say, as some big hall where classic musical performances are offered, we must agree that the public already includes not only admirers of Debussy, Beethoven, and to a less extend of Sir Hubert Parry and of Vivaldi, but also admirers of Frederic Chopin, of Ferenz List, of Anton Dvorak, of Michail Glinka and Piotar Tchaikovsky…
    (I shall appreciate if you can recollect me the name of some notorious composer of Istanbul, or say, of Diyarbakir. Lately, I have a problem with the memory.)
    Regards

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  • 195. At 09:39am on 27 Jun 2010, generalissimofranco wrote:

    @ 179 AliceInWonderLand
    Thanks. Some fellows from the Smolensk blog are wondering where you are now. (Alexandr Leonov, pembrok and others)

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  • 196. At 09:58am on 27 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Re #182

    You are a fraud:

    "..I realised then that nationalism is not just a mechanism by which stupid people are made proud, but also a way in which intelligent people can make themselves stupid.."

    As many a 'sent-down' student has found: Plagiarism is never acceptable even when amended in an effort to cover one's intellectual fallibility.
    Will You tell them or shall I?

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  • 197. At 10:02am on 27 Jun 2010, generalissimofranco wrote:

    @ 180 AliceInWonderLand
    There is no pressing need to translate my comments in English darling when I post them in Russian to the Smolensk' blog.
    However, if somebody of the pressent blog fellows would like to poke his nose into the kitchen of mother Russia, he must be sure that his message will be automatically translated in perfect Russian. MA shall be immediately put on a slow fire there before they eat him alife... Ha-ha...

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  • 198. At 10:50am on 27 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    MA,
    that is the formal definition of the "Russian humour". Described above by me accidentally on a real example.

    The formal one is "when you are about to fall into the abyss, stop on the edge of it, say, lying on the belly and gradually sliding down, holding at something, not knowing where you are - and then try to step back from the edge, carefully, hesitantly - well these first steps back from the abyss is Russian humour!" :o))))))))

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  • 199. At 11:02am on 27 Jun 2010, generalissimofranco wrote:

    @ 179 AliceInWonderLand
    In addition to my previous post @196, please be informed that Slavic, repey and diagnoza also joined the fellows I have already enumerated in their common request to go back to the Russian blog. They miss you...
    (Sorry to intervene. I had a chat with Slavic.)

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  • 200. At 11:21am on 27 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    For example, our PM was also caught ? unawares, by this "Russian humour" :o)))
    Which is something :o))))

    The dinner was going so well, peacefully and quietly, when the rock chap asked him ab the 31st Constitution article, instead of ? I don't know what he was expecting instead.
    Like the rest were asking, about more literature hours for school children, more state financing for theatres, FOC days in state museums, restauration of some old estates, or whatever.

    The only thing poor VVP (Valdimir Vladimirovich) could say in the immediate silence across the Kremlin receptions hall was "Excuse me, what is your name?"

    At which point all lay down entirely, the whole dinner table :o))), because asking that rock chap what is his name (he is more than enough known in Russia) was ? like?
    Like as if I don't know, a government functionary in the USA would have asked Michael Jackson "Excuse me, what is your name?" or the same in England if someone asked "Excuse me, what is your name?" of Paul McCartney.

    The later explanations were either VVP was trying to gain time collecting his thoughts together or wanted to hear the full thing, with patronymic, as PM-s in Russia address people exclusively by using patronymics, all formal, at Kremlin receptions.
    For example, Putin always uses patronymics when talking to someone, never skips. But then he surely was pre-briefed on the rock chap patronymic, as he addressed all others at the dinner using theirs, which means as min his patronymic VVP instanteneously - caught by surpruse - forgot.

    Their later conversation is already in the annals of our history forever :o))), I think.

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  • 201. At 11:39am on 27 Jun 2010, DurstigerMann wrote:

    @176 Oblivion

    "Is there a time lag between the changes in interest rate you describe? If not, you are saying that base interest rates can have no net effect on business interest rates. You would need to show evidence for this.

    The evidence shows that base interest rates lag private debt levels. In other words, when people borrow more, banks overextend themselves and place demands for liquidity on the central banks. In other words, the central banks act at the behest of private banks. This is what the evidence supports, other conjecture, myth, mainstream economic or otherwise notwithstanding."

    There always is a time lag. Banks cannot predict inflation accurately and therefore usually use the past as an indicator.


    Now, if banks tell the central bank to lower the base rate, the central bank could just laugh it off and teach everyone a lesson in economics 101.
    Keeping the interest rates down by giving the banks their way is not a viable option in my opinion.

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  • 202. At 11:45am on 27 Jun 2010, DurstigerMann wrote:

    @177 Oblivion

    "This is incorrect."

    True, I should have written that it is only a part of how banks get money.
    The other would be the old fashined way of making profit.

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  • 203. At 11:51am on 27 Jun 2010, mvr512 wrote:

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain

  • 204. At 11:59am on 27 Jun 2010, DurstigerMann wrote:

    @185 MAII

    "drugstore man, dt, I'm not here to teach economics 101.

    BTW, drugstore man, there are two kinds of banks. Those which get their money from depositors and those who get it from investors. Banks may make loans overnight or for a very short term from the Fed or from each other but these are expedienceis which grease the skids of money flow between them so to speak. Small changes in interest rates they charge each other can have an effect on the economy though. The "Prime Rate" is the rate the Federal Reserve charges its most trustworthy customers...if it can still find any these days. "

    Thanks teacher.
    But could you just elaborate as to how this information has to do with the short-term effects of an increased money suplly/ lowered base rate of interest rates on the market?
    Theoretically, the absolute rate at which the customer can borrow is not all that important, but the change (incrase, decrease) is.

    I admit that I do not know enough about the US central bank and investment banks in particular to make a comment on their interest rate practices.

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  • 205. At 12:23pm on 27 Jun 2010, DurstigerMann wrote:

    @193 Huaimek

    "I agree that in an austerity programme , where taxation is used to help the economy and pay off the national debt , that taxation should be proportionate to an individuals wealth .

    To say tax the rich , sounds a good way to recover a lot of money , more than poor people can provide . However , there are far fewer rich people and taxing them more heavily may not produce the revenue expected .

    Often the rich are the providers of industry and jobs , so heavily taxing them might be detrimental to the over all objective .

    I am against Globalisation , though whether we like it or not , it seems here to stay . In the USA they have ways for rich people to save on taxation , by which they invest in a hospital plan or similar concept that benefits the people ."

    You hear that argument a lot. That rich people are those who provide jobs. And that they worked hard for their wealth.
    But let`s face it:
    42% tax on income is far less a burden for someone with an annual income of 1 million euro than it is for someone who earns 70.000 euro.
    And that again is less, in absolute terms, than 30% for someone who earns 30.000 euro.

    We should stop only looking at the people who "provide jobs" and start considering that enterprises don`t provide jobs, they need qualified people to work for them.
    Look at it this way: The employee provides the skill that the employer needs.

    Wanna build a high-tech freezer without good engineers and technicians? Good luck at making your fortune.


    There will always be people willing to start off a new and innovative business. Those people, however, will also need a qualified workforce in order to expand the business as well as enough people who are willing and able to pay for their products.

    Trying to appeal only business owners, like many governments do these days, because businesses provide jobs is just pathetic.
    For example, it is beyond me how big corporations have certain tax benefits over normal businesses.
    That`s not how well regulated or free markets work.


    About the demographics of rich people:
    If I tax one billionare an additional 5%, the revenue will be much higher than from taxing tens of thousands of normal citizens.
    The last days, voices within the political parties in Germany have become louder to increase taxes for rich people, so I still have some hope left.

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  • 206. At 12:26pm on 27 Jun 2010, lacerniagigante wrote:

    The new Spartans don't seem to be setting a good example.

    If they were really so keen on savings, then there should be only one representative of the EU at the G20, not 5 or 6, or how many ego-boost seeking "leaders" are there.

    This would have cut down on expenses, and (incidentally) given Merkel and Cameron the chance to watch their football teams in South-Africa, without so much stress.

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  • 207. At 1:17pm on 27 Jun 2010, one step beyond wrote:

    W.A. re post 155, an example of British humour in respect of the world cup


    'typical of the americans, come to a game late and leave us to take on the germans alone'

    best wishes

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  • 208. At 1:23pm on 27 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    I give you this drugstore man, you are consistant...consistantly wrong.

    "Theoretically, the absolute rate at which the customer can borrow is not all that important, but the change (incrase, decrease) is."

    When applying for a loan, the lender which is usually a financial institution such as a bank judges the credit worthiness of the application on among other things the amount and term (number of months or years of the loan) absolute interest rate which determines the periodic payment amount, absolute income, other debts outstanding. The amount the applicant can borrow is therefore directly related to the absolute interest rate. The rule of thumb for a mortgage used to be no more than two to two and a half times one's annual income or no more than one quarter of one's monthly income should be paid for housing. That is until Californians invented creative financing. The absolute interest rate when compared to average salaries therefore determines how much people can borrow and adjusting it will stimulate or slow an economy in theory.

    Please go to the library and read a book. I'd recommend Samuelson who was excellent.

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  • 209. At 1:38pm on 27 Jun 2010, Mathiasen wrote:

    #207 one step beyond
    At least the war is over later this afternoon - namely the war the English press always find itself in, when we play football against England.
    I suppose it will also this time be the pattern: The Englishmen are the loudest and Germany wins :-)

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  • 210. At 2:09pm on 27 Jun 2010, threnodio_II wrote:

    #209 - Mathiasen

    Well at least you have the luxury of having someone else to cheer for when Denmark are sent home. Hungary, where I live did not even qualify. I only have England. Today is all or nothing:-)

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  • 211. At 3:03pm on 27 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    one step beyond @207
    - absolutely!

    :o))))

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  • 212. At 3:11pm on 27 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Well I guess the best I can do as my in-put now is go to dacha now for a couple of evening hrs, paint the front door (I will think of the colours :o), on the porch - and not fan for anybody!

    I've noticed it long time ago, it is contra-indicated for me to watch the TV when I am fanning for someone in particular. Works diametrically opposite to my desires.
    And only improves a bit when I walk away from the TV to another room to do smth.

    So my in-put will be I shall not watch.
    Hope it helps :o)))), any body :o)))))))

    What to do, radical measures are required tonight.

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  • 213. At 3:15pm on 27 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    The only one other better thing would be to put stakes, a couple of roubles. Because I never win in games, lottos, casino-s :o))))
    or whatever. Never once in life, even as they say - the first time you play a roulette one should win or whatever the superstitions.

    But this is a so radical meausure that I feel morally un-well to apply it. It will be unfair. As good as announcing the winner now.
    After all, people flew all the way to Africa, they should try at least.

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  • 214. At 3:22pm on 27 Jun 2010, generalissimofranco wrote:

    @209 Mathiasen
    It seems that the atmosphere of the present match resurrects in my mind the English victory of 1966 (4:2) and the German revenge of 1970 (3:2).
    Well, sticking to our old habits and choices (mo matter how wrong they proved to be in history), I wish luck to our German allies and …..
    Miroslav Cloze has just marked the first score. Cheers old krieg kamerad.

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  • 215. At 3:33pm on 27 Jun 2010, generalissimofranco wrote:

    @209 Mathiasen
    And now was the turn of Lucas Podolsky... (2:0)
    Cheers Mathiasen. The victory is within the reach of the hand!

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  • 216. At 3:46pm on 27 Jun 2010, generalissimofranco wrote:

    @209 Mathiasen
    Well the English were incorrectly deprived of one score. It’s not quite a faire play.

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  • 217. At 3:52pm on 27 Jun 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    TO MAII

    I think you ought to read this:

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tobyharnden/100044768/barack-obama-fired-stanley-mcchrystal-because-he-was-rude-about-the-french/

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  • 218. At 3:56pm on 27 Jun 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    Gavin!

    It is a disgrace that you continue to keep quiet on the important issue of Brazil Nuts!

    Is it or is it not true that the "EU"-Dictatorship-Monster-Parasite-Nuisance bans the sale of Brazil Nuts in their shells in the UK?



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  • 219. At 4:25pm on 27 Jun 2010, generalissimofranco wrote:

    @209 Mathiasen

    And now is the turn of Thomas Muller (3:1). Urrah!

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  • 220. At 4:27pm on 27 Jun 2010, generalissimofranco wrote:

    @209 Mathiasen
    It's once again Thomas Muller to mark the next goal(4:1).

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  • 221. At 4:50pm on 27 Jun 2010, generalissimofranco wrote:

    @209 Mathiasen
    Once again the German panzers proved their high class. Sorry for the English.

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  • 222. At 5:02pm on 27 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Germany - 4; England - 1.

    And I'm not even talking 'bout "economy, stupid".

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  • 223. At 5:04pm on 27 Jun 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re: "German panzers proved their high class."


    Grochowski, Mirosław Klose and Łukasz Podolski.

    Formidable "German panzers" indeed. :-)

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  • 224. At 5:14pm on 27 Jun 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    MarcusAureliusII wrote:
    "drugstore man, dt, I'm not here to teach economics 101."

    You got that right, Marcus. At least.

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  • 225. At 5:21pm on 27 Jun 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    cool_brush_work wrote:
    "Re #182
    You are a fraud:
    "..I realised then that nationalism is not just a mechanism by which stupid people are made proud, but also a way in which intelligent people can make themselves stupid.."
    As many a 'sent-down' student has found: Plagiarism is never acceptable even when amended in an effort to cover one's intellectual fallibility.
    Will You tell them or shall I?"

    As I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about, you had better tell us.

    Come on then, show me the proof of this "plagiarism". Prove that I am a "fraud".

    You didn't submit your proof already because you don't have any, CBW. My comments are entirely my own, and they are not even all that interesting.

    You've become exceedingly rude lately, CBW. Why is that? Is it because your own opinion of your own intelligence is not shared by anyone else on the blog, and that makes you angry?

    Do you feel that, being an English patriot, you are entitled to be considered intelligent?

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  • 226. At 5:57pm on 27 Jun 2010, generalissimofranco wrote:

    @223 powermeerkat
    “Grochowski, Mirosław Klose and Łukasz Podolski.Formidable "German panzers" indeed. :
    I say that America welcomed many Poles, Ukrainians, etc., who do not miss any occasion to boast of their new nationality. Cheers Yankee!

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  • 227. At 6:16pm on 27 Jun 2010, Mathiasen wrote:

    Friends,
    Thanks for the greetings. I would very surprised if we didn't see a replay in the Euro within two years. Then we will have a replay of the complete spectacle...

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  • 228. At 6:40pm on 27 Jun 2010, generalissimofranco wrote:

    @227 Mathiasen
    You are welcome. However, probably your guys will have to dance an Argentinean tango very soon. Be careful, and do not underestimate the South Americans.

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  • 229. At 7:54pm on 27 Jun 2010, DurstigerMann wrote:

    @208 MAII

    "I give you this drugstore man, you are consistant...consistantly wrong.

    "Theoretically, the absolute rate at which the customer can borrow is not all that important, but the change (incrase, decrease) is."

    When applying for a loan, the lender which is usually a financial institution such as a bank judges the credit worthiness of the application on among other things the amount and term (number of months or years of the loan) absolute interest rate which determines the periodic payment amount, absolute income, other debts outstanding. The amount the applicant can borrow is therefore directly related to the absolute interest rate. The rule of thumb for a mortgage used to be no more than two to two and a half times one's annual income or no more than one quarter of one's monthly income should be paid for housing. That is until Californians invented creative financing. The absolute interest rate when compared to average salaries therefore determines how much people can borrow and adjusting it will stimulate or slow an economy in theory.

    Please go to the library and read a book. I'd recommend Samuelson who was excellent. "

    Well done. You have basically evaded the whole argument about how money supply and base rates influence short-term interest rates.
    Instead, you just talked about risk premiums and stuff like that.


    Of course the changes in base rates are of more importance than the base rate itself in order to determine the effect on credits and interest rates.

    If the central bank lowers the base rate, credits will become more easily availible and this will lower interest rates.
    If the central bank increases the base rate, credits are less easily availible and more restricted.

    These are some easy to understand fundamentals.
    A lower base rate means less opportunity costs for banks at first.


    Only if this monetary policy increases inflation above desirable levels, you can expect increasing interest rates, because it can be assumend that the central bank will intervene and raise the base rate.
    At this point, investors will be less likely to lend money while demand for cheap money at low opportunity costs is still high or even rises.


    I`ll expect even you, MAII, to understand the principle of supply and demand and what an excess demand for interest rates on the market does.


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  • 230. At 8:57pm on 27 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    #229

    Methinks the poster doth protest too much.

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  • 231. At 9:04pm on 27 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    #217 EU Pris.

    The fatal flaw in American policy in every war is that it tries to win both the political war and military war with the political war taking precedence and handcuffing the military war which takes a back seat. In the end, by losing the military war, it loses both. If I were President, if a threat were important enough to go to war over, nothing else but winning would matter. In a democracy, no one citizen's life is worth more than another, not the civilian at home compared to the soldier on the front line. Therefore, I'd put the entire country at risk by using every weapon available no matter what the treaties restrict, no matter what the consequences. The term "proportional response" doesn't figure in my lexicon.

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  • 232. At 9:10pm on 27 Jun 2010, margaret howard wrote:

    225 democracythreat writes:
    "You've become exceedingly rude lately, CBW. Why is that? Is it because your own opinion of your own intelligence is not shared by anyone else on the blog, and that makes you angry?
    Do you feel that, being an English patriot, you are entitled to be considered intelligent? "
    I quite agree with you. Anyone who doesn't agree with him gets bashed over the head. I think it is the military mind that has shaped him!

    In 196 coolbrushwork accuses you of being a fraud and plagiarist for the following observation:
    "..I realised then that nationalism is not just a mechanism by which stupid people are made proud, but also a way in which intelligent people can make themselves stupid.."
    Like you I am baffled. Whoever wrote this is making a valid point worth repeating. Is it now plagiarism to quote Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, the Bible or anyone intelligent and observant about the human condidition at all? If so then most people's sayings wouldn't pass muster. I find your observations extremely thought provoking, refreshing and original.

    PS Congratulations to all our German contributors. I don't know much about football but it was a great perfomance.

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  • 233. At 9:59pm on 27 Jun 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    My congrats also to the German players. They played with real energy and character.

    It was particularly pleasing to see clean, honest behaviour from both sides. No diving, no harassment of the referee, no vicious tackling.

    But my word, how England were undone by the sheer pace and skill of the german attack. They looked dreadful at the back, and the Rooney myth must surely now be exposed?

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  • 234. At 10:10pm on 27 Jun 2010, Oblivion wrote:

    #162 MarcusA-2

    Hi. It's not really the point.

    The point is that these organisations have some commonly perceived role, but the described behaviour they actually have does not conform with what is seen as the prescribed.

    I will be very clear: the proposition that central banks somehow determine the creation of deposit money is merely a hypothesis, an a-priori dogma that is not held up by evidence. People commonly believe this idea, but it is just convention.

    There are a number of investigations that falsify this hypothesis. You can see accessible summaries here:

    http://www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/2010/06/13/empirical-and-theoretical-reasons-why-the-gfc-is-not-behind-us/

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  • 235. At 10:23pm on 27 Jun 2010, MaxSceptic wrote:

    Tommy, for you zer Kup is over!

    Trust the Germans to employ their dastardly secret weapon: better players.

    Actually, as a proud Englishman I am delighted that we are out of the cup (should have happened last week) as this will reduce the number of beer-bellied, inebriated, loud grown men roaming the streets wearing stupid over-priced nylon football shirts.

    Thank you Germany!

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  • 236. At 10:27pm on 27 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Congratulations, Germany!

    But Jesus Christ. aaaaaah

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  • 237. At 10:29pm on 27 Jun 2010, lascelles108 wrote:

    What a turn-around !! After generations of telling the rest of the world how to solve their problems, the great USofA is telling the world how to solve its problems. How ironic, seeing that it was greed and sub-prime lending by USofA banks that started the current Depression. There, I dared to use the 'D' word.

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  • 238. At 10:30pm on 27 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    how low democracythreat to call cool_brushie names on such an evening!

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  • 239. At 10:32pm on 27 Jun 2010, threnodio_II wrote:

    Everybody.

    England were roundly thrashed by a much better team on the night, OK?

    Now the BBC has a perfectly good sport section. You want to talk football, go there.

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  • 240. At 10:39pm on 27 Jun 2010, DurstigerMann wrote:

    @233 democracythreat

    "My congrats also to the German players. They played with real energy and character.

    It was particularly pleasing to see clean, honest behaviour from both sides. No diving, no harassment of the referee, no vicious tackling.

    But my word, how England were undone by the sheer pace and skill of the german attack. They looked dreadful at the back, and the Rooney myth must surely now be exposed?"

    This game was easily the best in this world cup so far and I don`t think that the British fans are being fair to their players.
    Germany outplayed them, but not by as much as the score would suggest.
    It could have been a very very close call had the referee not denied that goal.


    And I will never understand why Rooney was hyped so much until now and why he was left on the field while defoe was substituted.
    Rooney has the turning-radius of a double-decker bus and an underwhelming acceleration.

    Thanks to the British coach for that :)

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  • 241. At 10:47pm on 27 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Checked Russian blogs. Folks are pessimistic-fatalistic. Say in 1966 Tofik Bahramov USSR judge counted a goal into German gates.
    And now it's a return :o(

    But for crying out loud! 44 yrs later?

    How mean the heavens are! Such a memory!

    And, how to say, a very selective memory :o)))

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  • 242. At 10:56pm on 27 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Oblivion;

    "I will be very clear: the proposition that central banks somehow determine the creation of deposit money is merely a hypothesis, an a-priori dogma that is not held up by evidence. People commonly believe this idea, but it is just convention."

    Tell it to the people in Zimbabwe.

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  • 243. At 11:01pm on 27 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    maggie mcguire;

    "225 democracythreat writes:
    "You've become exceedingly rude lately, CBW. Why is that? Is it because your own opinion of your own intelligence is not shared by anyone else on the blog, and that makes you angry?
    Do you feel that, being an English patriot, you are entitled to be considered intelligent? "
    I quite agree with you. Anyone who doesn't agree with him gets bashed over the head."

    I read this tripe, I hear that the English are throwing up the pain of WWII to the Germans in regard to their stupid soccer match (imagine what they would have said about the Germans if the weren't friends) all of which happened before most living Germans were even born. I don't expect much better from Meurons and I'm rarely surprised by them. They make it so easy for me so often, it never never fails.

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  • 244. At 11:05pm on 27 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    WA #189;

    "Eastern european humour generally involves the slow death of a foreigner (someone born 5km away)"

    This is what distinguishes the more enlightened Western Europeans from them. The Spanish for example take their pleasure from the ritual brutal slaughter of an animal. That's a sign of progress.

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  • 245. At 11:10pm on 27 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    One thing calculated today correctly. The road to Finland along the sea, the main road to the sea-side dacha-s - was comparatively empty this evening :o)

    It didn't stand in permanent traffic jam, as it ought to be on a Sunday, mass migration from dacha-s back to the city.

    All men must have gone on strike and refused driving families back-forward to the dacha-s. The championship.

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  • 246. At 11:14pm on 27 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    By all means Russia should have fanned for Germany. Given the amount of Russian Jewish friends that everyone has got who emigrated there - thus, direct connections and family memebrs for many; economically, politically, "pan-continentally", after all.

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  • 247. At 11:26pm on 27 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    WA;

    "One thing calculated today correctly. The road to Finland along the sea, the main road to the sea-side dacha-s - was comparatively empty this evening :o)"

    What happen, the Russian soldiers too busy watching the soccer matches to hold their weekly practice for the invasion? :o)))))))))

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  • 248. At 00:44am on 28 Jun 2010, democracythreat wrote:

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

  • 249. At 01:54am on 28 Jun 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:



    Austrian Radio website reports that the people of Kyrgyzstan have accepted a new constitution in a referendum.

    THEY GOT A REFERENDUM!!!???!!!

    Wot? And they didn't rename it as "A Packet of Crisps" or something so they could deny them their referendum??

    So Kyrgyzstan is more democratic than EUyzstan??!!!!???


    Congratulations Kyrgyzstan!!

    Please could you now send a delegation to Brussels to tell the primitives there what a referendum is and how people are entitled to one especially when they have been promised one and even more especially when they got elected on the basis of that promise?

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  • 250. At 06:48am on 28 Jun 2010, Mathiasen wrote:

    Not many media will be impressed by the G20 summit and most citizens might not even register that it has taken place.

    The differences of positions across the Atlantic with USA and France on one side and a group of European countries on the other were lined up before the summit, which has given birth to a strange construction (my translation from German): “Growth friendly reduction of deficits”. It sounds like something Angela Merkel has invented.
    The plan is to reduce deficits with 50 per cent up to 2013 and present balance budgets in 2016. The growth friendly element must be the circumstance that deficits are not cut down in a faster tempo, and actually I don’t think that neither Angela Merkel nor the other European leaders behind her position have moved away from the position they had before the summit.

    Unaltered is also the position on taxation of the finance sector. Germany and France did not achieve any agreement on this on the summit. Both countries will propose a taxation of finance transactions in the EU. They will not be surprised if London will raise objections and therefore they are prepared to limit its extent to the Euro zone. London has of course noticed this.

    I agree with Die Zeit: The argument that we can only do something if the whole world agrees is one of the most effective obstacles of all development.

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  • 251. At 07:34am on 28 Jun 2010, Buzet23 wrote:

    #250. At 06:48am on 28 Jun 2010, Mathiasen wrote:,

    "The argument that we can only do something if the whole world agrees is one of the most effective obstacles of all development."

    I agree and is this not exactly the same as the argument that Europe will only prosper if it is an EU federal superstate, and likewise this argument is also one of the most effective obstacles of all development.

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  • 252. At 07:59am on 28 Jun 2010, Mathiasen wrote:

    #251. At 07:34am on 28 Jun 2010, Buzet23
    Through the years I have seen hundredes of references to "the argument that Europe will only prosper if it is an EU federal superstate".

    It is obviously not concordant with the realities of the EU, which is something very different and a lot more complicated than a federal superstate.

    Where do we have a source for the statement and who is the advocate?
    It is something we necessarily must discuss at all?

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  • 253. At 08:20am on 28 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    It is curious sensation!

    Apparently arch 'anti-English/American-speaking peoples' DemocThreat & American MarcusAII the arch 'anti-European/UK-peoples' find common cause in objecting to my Comments.

    I feel vindicated and I haven't even started the day!

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  • 254. At 08:41am on 28 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    DemocThreat: Only reason for not replying earlier was a certain very disappointing football match & the post-match debate on other blogs.

    'Religion makes good people do evil and smart people act stupid' is what I had in mind.
    I can readily admit it is possible DemocThreat didn't have that in the back of his mind as there's doubts about anything concerning his reasoning.

    So, apologies DemocThreat - - it never hurts to apologise - - indeed 'sorry' should be the easiest not the hardest word.

    Of course You wouldn't know about that: You label & berate Britons, Americans, Jews with the worst sort of stuff as You unload blind prejudice in place of rational & logical viewpoints, but 'apologies' never cross Your mind.

    Occasionally I do consider & reconsider my perspective: Something You are incapable of and You may take this 'criticism' as 'helpful' or carry straight on, but it never enters Your conceited mind, "...Your own opinion of Your own intelligence is not shared by anyone else on the Blog.." is precisely the fault I suspect most, if not all, find with Your contributions.

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  • 255. At 08:54am on 28 Jun 2010, Chris wrote:

    @254. At 08:41am on 28 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work

    Not I care about football or follow it, but for sure we are part of clubMed now and the other PIIGS:))

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  • 256. At 09:25am on 28 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    ChrisArta

    #255

    Hmm, 'ClubMed' being those EUropean Nations knocked out of the WC!? Agreed.

    Hmm, 'PIIGS' being those conditions affecting southern EUropean EUro-zone members!? And,
    nothing like those of northern off-shore British Isles: So, disagree.

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  • 257. At 09:47am on 28 Jun 2010, Oblivion wrote:

    MA2

    That's not a counterargument, because it is not relevant:
    a) What effect did hyperinflation have on nominal and real private debt levels?
    b) Where did the debt originate in the first place to cause the Zimbabwean reserve bank to try and devalue its debt?

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  • 258. At 10:13am on 28 Jun 2010, generalissimofranco wrote:

    @239 Threnodio_II
    I agree. Sorry for having commented the German victory here. However, being a member of this virtual community, I thought it was natural to congratulate Mathiasen and the other Germans just as we happen to go out of the main discussion from time to time.

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  • 259. At 10:44am on 28 Jun 2010, Nik wrote:

    """Cold War 'courage':"""

    Hahahaha CBW... check out the Greek version of it (I transcribe the oral version(which is longer in text of course):

    The senior Admirals of the Russian, American & Greek Navies are discussing during a sea-drill in the Indian ocean, there with the pirates and such... and the America & Russian they argue who has the most courageous men. The American says:

    - See, Dmitri, we might have the best hi-tech but at the end it is our men who make all the difference, if you do not believe me just watch out this...: John! Come here!
    - YES Sir!
    ... John Rambo, an inflated muscle guy commando arrives and stands still, head up in the sky
    - John, see that herd of sharks that eat the corpses of pirates we killed in our drill yesterday?
    - YES Sir!
    - John, I want you to take your knife, jump in the sea, approach them, kill the biggest and come back with its tail.
    -YES Sir!

    ... John Rambo dives in swims near the pack of sharks, a huge fight erupt, the sea turns red, John kills the one shark after the other till he reaches the biggest one, it attacks him and bites him on the leg but John rips its neck with his knife finally killing it, then cuts the tail, ties it on his back and swims back to the ship and climbs up with the tail in his teeth.
    The American Admiral turns proudly to the Russian and Greek and all the pack of officers from all other countries and say:

    - See? That is what I call a real man!

    Everyone is impressed apart the Russian and the Greek admiral. The Russian stands forward and says:

    - Well George, that was ok from your guy, not bad for an American, but see, in Russia such tasks are given to rookies. Now watch a real man's work. Yuri! Here! Now!
    - DA Gospodin!
    ...Yuri Gagarin, a huge Russian bear-like man arrives and stands still, head looking straight up the sky.
    - Yuri, you see that pack of sharks gathered to eat the pieces the American left behind?
    - DA Gospodin!
    - Just kill them all and fast, cos what I want you to reall do it to reach the the whales lying further back. I want you to kill their pack leader, cut its tail and bring it back here!
    -DA Gospodin!

    ... and Yuri dives in. You couldn't even see him swimming below the surface rising up every 2 minutes to take a breath. You could realise he arrived at the pack of the sharks when the sea turned even more red, then there was simply no other motion, no sign of shark around, and after half an hour further back the pack of whales showed a huge agitation with whales swimming fast, jumping out of the water then one after the other floating dead in a pool of blood. At some point the largest whale jumped and Yuris was seen being inside its open mouth (!!!), the whale swallowed him, huge mistake as Yuri, started cutting it from inside out killing it, then cutting the tail and getting on it and surfing back on the waves on it back to the sea!

    Incredible! All Admirals on board were amazed and even the American one who could not really say anything. Yuri climbs up and the Russian turns to the people around and says:

    - See? That is what I call a real man!

    Then, while the dust of all these US and Russian epic heroics had not settled down and people where still clapping, the Greek, ony Admiral not to be impressed at all, resolves his silence and steps forward and shocks everyone:

    - Well well... Dmitry, George.... that was not really that bad from your men but they certainly are far below our men! Just watch this:

    - Niko! Come here! Now!

    - You come here malaka!

    - Now, Gentlement, that is what I call a real man!

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  • 260. At 10:58am on 28 Jun 2010, Nik wrote:

    249. At 01:54am on 28 Jun 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:
    """Austrian Radio website reports that the people of Kyrgyzstan have accepted a new constitution in a referendum.
    THEY GOT A REFERENDUM!!!???!!!""""

    Well yes. That is how it is.

    It has been seen that when a referendum is done, statistically people really tend to vote for the most sensible thing - contrary to national electoins.

    In Greece last time we did referendum was right after the fall of the second dictatorship in late 74, when people were given the choice of A) Royal Democracy (pre-dictatorship regime) B) Presidential democracy (what people asked since independence in 1830) and of course a practical C) White (i.e. neutral). Almost 80% of Greeks (both right wing and left wing) had voted for plan B. Which - no matter the anyway corrupt politics - was the correct decision to take to get rid of the catastrophic and treacherous foreign British-imposed royal family. Unfortunately the result of the referendum frightened so much politicians who never sought to repeat the experience again.

    Unfortunately it has been remarked that politicians will organise a referendum ONLY when they are certain that their interests coincide with the will of people or the will of people coincide with their interests. Unless the referendum is inscribed in the constiutution and held frequently there is no argument demanding it. In our constitution it is inscribed but unfortunately in a vague reference which permits politicians avoiding organising it. Hence they did not organise it back in 1978 when the country was accepted in the EU (and it has to be noted back then, it was not certain that the majority of Greeks would vote a yes, in 1978 maybe it would be a no, in 1988 they certainly would vote yes, in 1998 most probably yes, in 2008 maybe a draw... in 2010 certainly no, etc.).

    Unless you have the organisation of referendums in a standard manner inscribed in the constitution, there is no hope asking it whenever one feels like doing it. Till then speaking of democracy or lack of democracy is useless. Our states are simply representative oligarchies and nothing more.

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  • 261. At 10:59am on 28 Jun 2010, Mathiasen wrote:

    #258 General;
    My point has been that not least the English press is making a politicum (a political matter) of the football match England vs. Germany, not once but time and again, and PM Cameron and chancellor Merkel even took a time out from the G20 to see the match together.

    Football has its European section. In Berlin the media use it as a reason to write about the many foreigners in the city, and about places they go to see the match. It is one of the ways Europeans are meeting each other.

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  • 262. At 11:02am on 28 Jun 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    cbw unduly you flatter yourself. I rarely even read your posts.

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  • 263. At 11:19am on 28 Jun 2010, Nik wrote:

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

  • 264. At 11:26am on 28 Jun 2010, threnodio_II wrote:

    #258 - generalissimofranco

    No need to apologise and I congratulate them too.

    I just thought I would say something before it got out of hand.

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  • 265. At 2:01pm on 28 Jun 2010, one step beyond wrote:

    Don't wish to upset you Threnodio but an update on my post 207, when we went 3-1 down a friend quipped

    'time to bring on the americans'

    It is good to be able to laugh at yourself. As I am living in Spain at the moment have transferred my support to Spain,as far as passionate supporters go few can match the spanish - come on espana

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  • 266. At 2:22pm on 28 Jun 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    cool_brush_work wrote:
    "DemocThreat: Only reason for not replying earlier was a certain very disappointing football match & the post-match debate on other blogs.
    'Religion makes good people do evil and smart people act stupid' is what I had in mind.
    I can readily admit it is possible DemocThreat didn't have that in the back of his mind as there's doubts about anything concerning his reasoning.
    So, apologies DemocThreat - - it never hurts to apologise - - indeed 'sorry' should be the easiest not the hardest word.
    Of course You wouldn't know about that: You label & berate Britons, Americans, Jews with the worst sort of stuff as You unload blind prejudice in place of rational & logical viewpoints, but 'apologies' never cross Your mind."

    I am moved by the apology CBW, as it strikes me as about as sincere a gesture as you are capable of. I am especially touched by the tone.

    But you are wrong to claim I never apologized for my own faults. I apologized profusely and numerous times for offending your national pride. You just never accepted the apology. It suits you to pretend that I never made it, because that allows you to enjoy the thrill of your own hatred.

    I think it is best to draw a line under your contributions to the debate. You made an accusation of fraud and plagiarism which was called out for being a vicious and deliberate piece of slander, and now that has been demonstrated to be the case. Having been called out, you then accuse me of anti-semitism of the "worst" kind. This is your idea of an apology for slander. Class act. Really classy behaviour, CBW.

    I accept and admit that I have prejudices and faults, CBW, and I do so without sputtering bile and being palpably insincere. But I never once attacked you personally and called you a fraud and plagiarist. Your nationalist pride cannot justify your behaviour any more than it can disguise the sort of person you are.

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  • 267. At 2:31pm on 28 Jun 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    Mathiasen wrote:
    "#251. At 07:34am on 28 Jun 2010, Buzet23
    Through the years I have seen hundredes of references to "the argument that Europe will only prosper if it is an EU federal superstate".

    It is obviously not concordant with the realities of the EU, which is something very different and a lot more complicated than a federal superstate.
    Where do we have a source for the statement and who is the advocate?
    It is something we necessarily must discuss at all?"

    These are hollow questions, mathiasen. You have avoided the basic idea being discussed deliberately, and you even manage to make the incredible implication that the EU was not promoted in the name of prosperity. That is a redundant and frankly boring contribution. You would grace yourself and the debate better by saying nothing at all.

    Your last question is absolute textbook EU arrogance: you seek to silence the debate itself, by arbitrarily declaring the matter irrelevant for everyone. And the topic for debate in this context is whether the EU leads to prosperity.

    It is something we must necessarily discuss, Mathiasen. It is, because common people on this blog decide that it is. Either discuss it or not, but keep your high and mighty declarations of what is worth discussing to yourself.

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  • 268. At 2:48pm on 28 Jun 2010, one step beyond wrote:

    Re my post at 265 at 4-1 down I said

    'we need the Russians as well to get anything out of this'

    Promise that is my last football reference

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  • 269. At 4:02pm on 28 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    cool_brush_work, dear,

    and Nik - re the similar angle, in the jokes, that you've quoted.

    Unfortunately I give up :o), on this, disobedience jokes, and real
    soldier/seaman courage.

    None Russian examples of such jokes exist; of the common type indeed (type "we are better than the two others" :o)

    So, even in wildest dreams :o), in the jokes, a seaman/soldier possible disobedience is not discussed.

    The jokes type "Once upon a time three men ..." sure, a plenty here as well.
    In Russian saga-s it'll usually be

    "Once upon a time "russky, nemets i polyak" - a Russian, a German and a Pole ... did whatever. That's our traditional historical trio, Russian-German-Polish.

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  • 270. At 4:42pm on 28 Jun 2010, Nik wrote:

    254. At 08:41am on 28 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:
    """DemocThreat: Only reason for not replying earlier was a certain very disappointing football match & the post-match debate on other blogs."""

    It might surprise you CBW but I was equally frustrated. I do think that Germans have presented (yet once more) a better team than the English BUT I do acknoledge that in an 1-off match it is not necessarily the best team that always moves on. And in this match the unfairly cancelled goal did not arrive in the 85th minute where if counted the 4-1 would become a 4-2 but it arrived in the 1st half when the 2-1 would become 2-2 and that is a whole different story as the match would virtually restart with English having the best psychology, a must-factor in such one-off games. We saw too the same effect just a couple of hours later, on a wholy different team than the English one, that is Mexico. Not that it was a better team than Argentina but the first unfair goal really cut their initial momentum.

    267. At 2:31pm on 28 Jun 2010, democracythreat wrote:
    "...It is something we must necessarily discuss... "

    Someone must at first put the discussion into the right rails so that it can reel. How could anyone, even an anti-EU positioned one, open a discussion about a federal-like EU super-state formation when EU has not even resolved the basics within it. How can any formation of states claim being oriented towards federal structure when it has not even a 40-50 years past of some short of common defense? When EU lacks even the basic common alliance and that is satisfied indirectly only via NATO a pact led by a "friend-competitor", it is almost ridiculous to open disussions about the possibility of Europe going federal. Going federal with the US maybe but alone, it is quite a joke as it is. Even the most convinced Euro-phobe has absolutely no reason to open such a discussion, at least not more than open a discussion about an EU-Russian or EU-Chinese federal state. EU no matter for what reason it was developed (and it was developed for this exact reason) is all about easening trade restrictions for EU & global businesses and making the life of investors easier. Nothing more than that. One needs to view the catastrophic incoherence of Europeans in the Yugoslav wars, let alone the Iraqi war, let alone having the 1/3 of its countries discussing in accepting US (a non-EU country as far as I remember...!) nuclear bases on their lands against Russia, a major EU provider and possibly its most valuable future partner.

    Federation means first and above all common defense. Then it means common energy. It means a common standing in the world.

    As such, indeed a federal structure for EU can become a key to success. But the EU is far from that and it does not seem to head that way either.

    From there on the talk must remain on what orientation the EU can take. To move from black to white (and knowing that this is not correct or valid) I say... lets disolve it to see what happens. Britain standing next to US might do ok but only as long as US choses it to be. But the others? What about Germany and France? France might do ok, it still has all the phase of human activities (contrary to Germany that indeed tries also to do so, or Britain). Germany, however, I do not see it that well. It will lose the touch with the south, it will have no traderoutes of its own, it will become quite isolated and it will increasingly become dependent on Russia. Little countries like Greece will become virtually Russian bases and Chinese commercial points and they will be 10 times better so no fear for them while Portugal might be reduced to an entry point for Brazil though that will be for the best for them.

    ... which means that in a matter of years, the risk of having a new extensive war will become once again visible.

    EU is not a recipe for happyness or financial success or such. It strives to be a recipe for long-term survival. But for the worse, it has not yet stood up to the challenge being occupied with trivial issues while it has not solved the most basic ones:

    1) Install a common European Defense policy Kick out all foreign bases and install EU-only bases throughout Europe and Mediterranean
    2) Install a common European Space & Defense policy with total-capacity European access to space including an EU-only positioning system (which should be working in 2007, yet out of external & internal sabotage is still delayed having only 2-3 satellites out of the more than 25 to be fully operatational)
    3) Install a common European Energy policy, which should maintain Europe at the top of the energy game and if possible - to the degree possible - to keep it independent of external factors
    4) Install a common European Geostrategic & Traderoutes (i.e. commercial) policy.

    Now all the above has much more to offer to the EU countries than whatever financial union, common currency or federalisation... Whoever (pro- or anti-) opens the issue of EU & Federalisation without covering the above is simply diorienting the discussion or really ignores the basics.

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  • 271. At 7:30pm on 28 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Re #270 & the Footie international.

    Thanks for commiseration.
    It was a game of Football and a game of 2 halves: IMO and much to my chagrin the better Team on the day won the match. An exceptionally poor decision by Referee & Linesman in 30 seconds does not explain the rest of the 89mins30secs & added time.

    Anyway, enough is enough: Come on Spain - - make European sports fans proud - - WIN the World Cup!

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  • 272. At 7:39pm on 28 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Re #266

    Oh stop!

    You're breaking me up...

    You have never apologised for any of Your unfair defamation of entire peoples or Your crude prejudices; neither have You apologised for the several occasions You attacked my personal stance and attitudes in debates.
    For You to attempt to pretend otherwise is just water down the plug-hole.

    Next time You write to an Englishman on these Blogs and tell him You, "..avoid the English like a plague.." or that "..blaming the British is always a good idea..", do try to recall Your #266 contribution, "..class act. Really classy behaviour.." DemocThreat!

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  • 273. At 8:46pm on 28 Jun 2010, BlancGivre wrote:

    All politicians disgust me. Because of their perpetual lies, their pretension to being able to do something for all of us (apart from the taking of our money).

    They are mostly hapless individuals, in it for their own advantage and their friends (cronyism).

    I am no longer interested in politicians or politics because I now know they have little (if any) positive impact in my life and that of my friends and relatives.

    Anything they could do for me would either be too little or too late.

    I'm only interested nowadays in finding the fiscal regimes that are the least costly to me, as all these regimes all over the world are about one thing only: the taking of money by coercion (thru justification-finding).

    I believe we will see the end of coercion-based fiscal regimes in my lifetime, as everyone today knows they are systems based on violence and the taking of money by force can never accomplish much as such monies are inevitably diverted to individuals whose purpose and goals are not that of the people being extorted and overcharged.

    Jean Desjardins
    Montreal, Canada

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  • 274. At 9:50pm on 28 Jun 2010, mvr512 wrote:

    Congrats Kyrgyzstan on the referendum. Your country is more democratic than the EU as politicians here who love the EU all despise democracy and the common people, and EU-lovers are desperate to avoid democracy because they know the people don't support 'more EU'.

    Kyrgyzstan joins the long list of countries that are more democratic than the ones in the EU (being in the EU means you have no democracy, because an unelected Politburo can overrule your national government and parliament). This list includes but is not limited to: Kyrgyzstan, Iraq, South Africa, DR Congo, Pakistan, Angola, Venezuela, Russia, Indonesia and Guatemala.

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  • 275. At 00:21am on 29 Jun 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    CBW,
    That you cannot differentiate between general prejudice and the deliberate lander of an individual speaks volumes about your intellectual honesty and capacity.

    That you refuse to acknowledge my numerous apologies for my own prejudices speaks to a lack of ability to read. I really did apologize for habouring misgivings about the British culture. I admitted then and admit now that such bigotry on my part is nothing to be proud of.

    Anyway, I am not going to debate this with you. Your accusations were unfounded, and your apology was insincere, and garnished with more slander.

    I would note that it is a facet of nationalism that adherents think personal attacks on individuals are legitimate, based upon the idea that the fanatic is defending his sacred faith.

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  • 276. At 11:18am on 29 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    mvr512,
    referendums (in Russian experience) are encouraging indeed. may be it's not leading to the most clever solution of the given problem, but they cheer up people definitely, how to say, a morale "booster".
    Pity we had our last own centuries ago, at Yeltsin, and since that - try to get one ! deficit all over around.

    to obtain a referendum, I think one needs to have "powers" in a kind of a risky position, "all or nothing" state, because "powers" still view referendums as a risky business for them.
    So when they are at risk themsleves - they are likely to take a risk. Some of them, risky ones, by character, are likely.

    Yeltsin needed public consensus on him, does he stay or does he go, he wanted a definite mandate, an OK from Russians, to know where he is standing.

    Kirgizstan is also suspended in the air as a country, they had nothing to lose, in a proper risky state of affairs, that's why their powers dared.

    Anyway talks here are about how legitimate is the current powers victory in Kirgizstan, they got a prevailing by q-ties OK to continue to be, but their fabric of society is very split in practical down to earth terms.

    5 million in Kirgizstan. Of which ab 1 million are Uzbeks, let's say it honestly ordinary normal Uzbeks, living their Uzbek life, by mistake in Kirgizstan.
    Stalin map making , as usual, results, a chunk of Uzbekistan happenned to be in Kirgizstan. These don't care much what the Kirgiz plan for themselves as a future, because they lead their Uzbek lives.
    Did they vote and how - this is interesting matter, to be found out.
    I didn't even figure were they away at the time, hiding from Kirgiz pogroms, during the referendum, or were they already bac home and voted.

    Next, there is a million Kirgiz currently in Russia, who are technically Kirgizstan, but this million was definitely away, working in Russia and may be not coming back, though they all have Kirgiz passports.

    So, 5 million - 2 million = 3 million. And it's of this 3 million Kirgiz at home, at the time of referendum, who voted for (something).

    That's not technically the prevailing mass majority of the 5 million, that theoretically constitute Kirgizstan.

    Well, the best that could have been obtained, that is, who could technically come to the voting points. Given the interesting circumstances.

    But suppose the other million comes home , from Russia - what do these think? Will they support the 3 million decision? Hell knows.
    Referendums are good when all know that it's them all, then it is something to be relied upon, the decision.

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  • 277. At 3:36pm on 29 Jun 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    DemocThreat

    Re my #254 & the 'apology'.

    I meant my "..sorry.." most sincerely for accusing You of 'plagiarism' - - I again readily state I was wholly wrong on that point - - I again apologise for that error.

    Unsure where You got the idea I was apologising about You being a "..fraud..": I most certainly did not apologise for that allegation and stand by it.

    DemocThreat Re, Your #266 & #275 responses.

    Let me put Your denials of ***personal*** attacks into the perspective of a Quotes from You:
    E.g. 29 May 2010 at 11.28 - - "..CBW, put down your flag and pull up your pants..", followed later by, "..CBW, your nationalism & hero worship of this prince of the realm (i.e. Churchill) is pathetic. That you maintain he is some kind of bastion of democracy is absolutely childish... You just want to believe that becasue it suits you... You see yourself as free & noble. It is an English disease, I'm afraid. You fellows blot out reality in order to cling to a whiff of Empire... That is what I find most disquieting about people like you, CBW. You are a crawling sycophant to people..You just bow and scrape, bow and scrape, and wipe tears from your eyes as the band plays & fine men march past in uniform... You, CBW, are exactly like Winston from the novel 1984, at the end of the book... with tears streaming down his cheeks he realizes he loves 'Big Brother'."

    DemocThreat: I'm just pleased You haven't ***personalised*** any of Your comments about me - - who knows what You would have written - - thankfully, DemocThreat only You know the depth of which You are capable.

    When I first read the above a month ago I deliberately chose not to respond: I thought an attack on someone's character as vicious as that spoke volumes "..for Your behaviour.." and cannot "..disguise the sort of person You are," from anyone reading these Blog debates.

    It seems, I was wrong: You for sure do not know how low You stoop in Your intellectual vanity & desperation for recognition!

    The above is just one example from a raft of unpleasant & uncalled for personal attacks against myself and others who have had the temerity to question DemocThreat's 'philosophy'!

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  • 278. At 3:36pm on 29 Jun 2010, Nik wrote:

    276. At 11:18am on 29 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:
    """referendums (in Russian experience) are encouraging indeed. may be it's not leading to the most clever solution of the given problem, but they cheer up people definitely, how to say, a morale "booster"."""

    Well back in the early 1930s there was a researcher who did research on how lighting levels inside production lines affected workers' productivity and finally concluded that there are only 2 things that affect significantly ALL peoples' productivity: 1) their salary 2) their inclusion at some level of management over issues concerning their everyday work life.

    """Pity we had our last own centuries ago, at Yeltsin, and since that - try to get one ! deficit all over around."""

    Didn't know that any Russian would be nostalgic of Yeltchin! Nothing to do with the value of referendum anyway.

    """... because "powers" still view referendums as a risky business for them."""

    Yes, we had a referendum once in Greece, right after the fall of the second (US-imposed) dictatorship. From then, despite the referendum being epxlicitly mentioned in the constitution as the most prevalent means of deciding on "matters of national importance", the local political mafia has evaded all talks on it and when they are confronted they are actually accusing the people that demand it as ... undemocratic and not respecting the elected leadership (what else are we going to hear?).

    The massive majority of Greek people ask to have a referendum in issues such as the following:

    1) National issues (Turkey, Balkans) - the vast majority will obviously vote for the extension of 12 miles, no compromise with Turkey and the re-armament of the country
    2) Illegal immigration - (vast majority will vote over closing all borders and the legal punishment of people enabling access, housing and employment of illegal immigrants)
    3) Education system - (most people will vote in favour of the liberalisation of the school curricilum to be decided on a local level and not national)
    4) Fight against corruption (most people will vote in favour of swift and total punishment of people charged on corruption)

    ... so you imagine the terror of the (downright foreign mafia) political leadership after that referendum which kicked (one more time and it it seems for ever) the pseudo-royal germanobritish family of the Glyxburgs

    """So when they are at risk themsleves - they are likely to take a risk. Some of them, risky ones, by character, are likely."""

    The general rule is that they will do a referendum only when they know that (either by manipulation or accidental coincidence of interests) the people will vote what THEY want. In the case of Greece, the role of the pseudo-royal germanobritish family had eneded and it would be replaced by treacherous (equally foreign mafia) politicians like Papandreou (rose with the British after the murder of president Metaxas) & Karamanlis (rose with the British after the murder of prime minister Papagos) and Rallis (British-Nazi-British 'collabo') and so on. Thus the referendum. It does not changed of course that the 78% of the Greek people had taken the correct decision, as they know how to take the correct decision if they are given a valid question and not wether to vote for Anglosaxon-paid right wing or Anglosaxon-paid left wing & Anglo-saxon paid communist parties... this is no choice, there is absolutely no choice at all.

    """Yeltsin needed public consensus on him, does he stay or does he go, he wanted a definite mandate, an OK from Russians, to know where he is standing."""

    Yes, Yeltchin knew he would get it and thus he went for it. Then he could claim a democratic decision and he would tell the truth of course. Problem is that you can't have referendums "whenever". One has to institutionalise their use to claim any real democratic orientation.

    """Kirgizstan is also suspended in the air as a country, they had nothing to lose, in a proper risky state of affairs, that's why their powers dared."""

    Idem.

    """Anyway talks here are about how legitimate is the current powers victory in Kirgizstan, they got a prevailing by q-ties OK to continue to be, but their fabric of society is very split in practical down to earth terms."""

    """5 million in Kirgizstan. Of which ab 1 million are Uzbeks, let's say it honestly ordinary normal Uzbeks, living their Uzbek life, by mistake in Kirgizstan."""

    Vloothy Uzbeks! Borat hated them for some reason! Hehe... I am joking of course. But is it true that Uzbeks are US-kids of the region? Is it or not? If they are indeed then Kirgisians are in for a long period of trouble there. They have better, for their own good, kick out the US bases from their area even if Russians do not push so much for it...

    """Stalin map making, as usual, results,..."""

    Idem with Tito map making. Artificial states, artificial borders, chopping up of bigger countries in favour of little or even inexisting entities and thus the results. We know it first hand do not worry... no need for explanation, we have neighbours who believe Alexander drove on a Zastava cabrio down to the Indus who explain this to us in a very explicit manner.

    """...a chunk of Uzbekistan happenned to be in Kirgizstan. These don't care much what the Kirgiz plan for themselves as a future, because they lead their Uzbek lives."""

    What is the difference between them? For me they are both Turkic tribes with Uzbeks historically having ties with northern Iranian tribes as anciently being in the Empire of Khaourishm.

    """Did they vote and how - this is interesting matter, to be found out.
    I didn't even figure were they away at the time, hiding from Kirgiz pogroms, during the referendum, or were they already bac home and voted."""

    These are huge problems. On the one hand, Uzbek lands and population was found in Kirgisia, on the other hand Kirgisians are also hostages to whatever the Uzbek huge minority will feel like it serves their particular interests and that creates friction. It is a show we have seen pretty much everywhere. You know, countries like Turkey had this problem even before they existed as a state but they solved it with a "total solution" methodology, and now many clap in appraisal of their action! So why don't Kirgisians kill all Uzbeks like Turks did on the 40% of the population in early 20th century? They will solve their problem and everyone will respect them as modern and pro-western?

    """Next, there is a million Kirgiz currently in Russia, who are technically Kirgizstan, but this million was definitely away, working in Russia and may be not coming back, though they all have Kirgiz passports."""

    I would say that Kirgisians could use these Russo-kirgisians to kill the Uzbeks like Turks used the massive Kurdish flux to kill Armenians. Why not? There in the middle of the semi-dessertic steppes who will notice?

    """So, 5 million - 2 million = 3 million. And it's of this 3 million Kirgiz at home, at the time of referendum, who voted for (something)."""

    ... then they can have as many referendums as they like.

    """Referendums are good when all know that it's them all, then it is something to be relied upon, the decision."""

    Well that is the essence of it.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------

    What did you make out of the arrest of the """Russian""" spies in the US?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/us_and_canada/10445353.stm

    Personally I read the related articles and had a good laugh. I mean either US agents think that Russian agents are really so naif or they think that US citizens are really so naif. Mathematically it is the 2nd. Personally it reminded me of a British comedy show where the comedian was out in the street dressed in a "spy suit" (you know, in a 1930s police inspector style coat, sunglasses, holding a newspaper etc. carrying a black suitcase), then sitting in a bench of an unassuming Londonian little park next to an unsuspecting man or woman and saying in the air "The rivers are red in Volgograd"... and pushing the black bag on the victim's side!!! Or enterring quickly in a café and leaving a black bag next to the feet of an unsuspecting client asking him if he is the Red Fox, then the client saying no, then the spy leaving the cafe and 10 secs. later a .... red fox (a man in a ref fox suit!!!) passing outside the café in front of everyone... Absolutely hilarious!!!

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  • 279. At 8:36pm on 29 Jun 2010, Nik wrote:

    by the way... are you the Red Fox?

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  • 280. At 10:19am on 30 Jun 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    your apology is accepted, cbw.

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  • 281. At 11:17am on 30 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Nik,

    The Kirgiz vaguely seem to me to be more steppe people than the Uzbek - who seem to be deep Southerners.

    I mean, it's more hot in Uzbekistan! :o)))))

    Thinking of Kirgizstan, you think of some steppe grass and small hairy horses.

    Thinking of Uzbekistan, you think cotton and cotton (in artificially watered spots), desert otherwise, and life on one spot. And, actually, some "Fergana Valley" comes to mind, it is a greener lower ravine some place there - about which green oasis every nation bordering quarrels. . And ancient Mosques in blue tiles.

    There was a huge effort done in early USSR days I think 1930-s to artificially water Uzbekistan desert to have an own cotton-making spot in the USSR.
    Huge, really huge and complex net-work of irrigation canals was digged and maintained.

    The key word is maintained. In Perestroyka - maintenance collapsed.
    And they grew over, and you need to clean the canals, it is constant winds and sliding and growing over and once you leave such a huge irrigation system to itself it stops and all goes upside down.

    I am not sure how it is with cotton there these days, I think "no - how".

    And as that was the only industry, + fruit for USSR - voila.

    Still, I think China has some business in left-over Uzbekistan cotton spots, where water still is.

    Kirgiz, according to their travelling habits, found an interesting speciality in current Russia - most work as train cars' how to call it, you don't have it, there are 2 railway employees per a train car in Russia, travelling with passangers long distances. It takes days, one employee sleeps, the other one helps the passengers, switching on off somne train car systems, like electricity, heating, or cooling, makes tea and cofffee for people in his car, distributes and collects bed linen, wakes up passangers before their stops where they are to leave the train, sweeps the floor in the car makes daily clean-ups tidoes up things a little bit, and, how to say, distances are far, in case passangers quarrel calls the police :o)))) and in case they get ill along the way - arranges where the nearest doctor is to stop the train by that station. Small things. Mostly - bed linen and tea making round o'clock. And to open doors at stations and to cloe the doors (not automatic on most Russian trains). And to check tickets with boardering passangers.
    So I heard Kirgiz found a new nomadic life with railways :o)

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  • 282. At 11:19am on 30 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    That's why also it was hopeless for them to vote.

    But, to be honest, not much effort was done in Russia for that Kirgiz voting either, I read just 3 voting stations were improvised - by Kirgiz consulates/embassies - that it Moscow, St. Petersburg and somewhere else.

    I doubt any Kirgiz left his/her work and went to vote for their home referendum in Russia to these 3 spots.

    Purely symbolically these were set up, rather, and so all say the million Kirgiz in Russia did not vote.

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  • 283. At 11:49am on 30 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    In that local war in Kirgizstan, Kirgiz jumping at own Uzbeks, I read a Russian correspondent was there recently, and he was asking all "What's the matter", he was in Osh (that's Kirgiz very South where all fight).

    So folks were running around with cast-iron ? poles? torn out from city garden railing, and with other heavy pieces, a crowd - woosh - that way, a gang - woosh - this way, some carried the wounded, the state snipers shooting lazily from university building at the attackers,
    in other words - complete ? ? Complete.

    And he asked a passing by Kirgiz, What's the matter, and then the passing by also busy Uzbek, What's the matter - and booth told him

    "russky, don't interfere, it's not your war".
    Like, mind your business, and you won't be killed.

    So, I think, they really had it built up against each other for a while, and wanted a let-go of tensions.

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  • 284. At 11:52am on 30 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    I mean, officially, we are asked by new Kirgiz powers to bring in Russian troops to help them stay at power day and night for the past ? month? 1.5 months? Since when is it.

    But on the ground Kirgiz have a different point of view, russky get lost, not your war, to say it politely.

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  • 285. At 11:53am on 30 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Could be Kirgiz on the ground meant "Don't interfere don't prevent us killing our Uzbeks" :o)))), actually.

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  • 286. At 11:55am on 30 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    And Uzbeks there think that Kirgizstan is by mistake on their ancient land and so all Kirgiz are there by mistake in their, Uzbek, place.

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  • 287. At 1:59pm on 30 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Now, Nik, you've asked what I think of the Russian spies arrests in the USA.

    I am, like everyone else, don't know what to think.

    ?
    First feeling is, like, when someone steps on your foot :o))))), in the busy subway, and being a good St. petersburger you apologise yourself.

    I feel definitely awkward on behalf of the USA and am sorry for them.


    The thing is, it's right after Obama-Medvedev friendly meet-up.
    ?

    I don't know about the USA, but by Russian hospitality understanding this is all very un-elegant. When we receive guests - I am sure we won't see their spies blind even if they camp right on the Red Square under the poster I am a pie eat me.

    One has a feeling either USA are un-mannered or un-organised, as they can't organise it internally to keep one position towards another country even for a decent, say, manners-minding 1 month or something, around the meeting. Some internal US chaps putting Obama a swine in his move to fix things with Russia to mutual benefit or whatever.

    No, I mean, first the USA feed our tsar in some staff canteen on the street :o)))))))))))))))))))), poor Medvedev has to eat hamburgers :o)))))))))))))), then they arrest our spies for a dessert!

    ?
    While all friendly nations non-stop arrest spies of each other without any shouts, swap them or extradict them, and life goes as normal.

    That's thought A.

    Thought B is of course these are some defective spies, spending my tax-money for nothing for 10 years, have been in the US for 10 years if to trust US media - didn't spy up any thing! As US media says itself.

    Apart from fumbling around with some stupid invisible inks :o))), and exercising in digging in money under empty beer cans in the public parks :o))))) - this is not work, this is pretending they are busy in spy-business, and again - spending my tax-payer good and honest Russian money for nothing.
    No mercy for these people I absolutely agree.

    Though Putin will of course stand up for them, we are responsible bears.

    Though this is all extraordinary idiotic, this is not spies but lazy bones on state expense, whole houses maintained for 10 years for these lucky people, who somehow I am sure via acquaintance got these lucrative positions living easy life in the USA.
    As I understood all they had to do is to exercise from time to time in the public park, excavating some beer can. Must be once in a year, and by papers it was passed as work.

    And this is all if to believe US media.

    Because if you think well of it, they are of course a very strange congregation put together, only 2 of them seem to be a little bit Russian or having ever been in life in Russia, well in fact, must be even those 2 haven't. The rest of the 11 are definitely somebody else's people, South America or whatever, on own business of those countries in the USA, and what when did we side-recruited them as well? to be in reserve for us - or not - hell knows.

    In other words I know nil, like everybody else seemingly around.
    Just the timing, the q-ty, and the fact they spent in the US 10 years did nothing - makes one wonder.

    Not Doctor Abel or Richard Sorge case clearly.
    Just the USA whimsy to be un-mannered.

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  • 288. At 2:15pm on 30 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Echo of Moscow journalist put forward an idea that money-laundering is the key word re these "spies"; may be someone from those secret services industry planned to wash some personal money, used his work position to arrange "business trips" to the USA, well, long "business trips", rather , permanent stay, for his money-washing agents, using state money, covering up them as spies in papers. To be able to finance his operations at the state expense.

    But then even the Echo of Moscow says it is kind of hilarious, too complex, when anyone can wash money as much as you like, without going into such difficulties and extraordinary measures as keeping a spy network abroad for that.
    ?
    Also ends don't meet up, and like, all are lost for ideas.

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  • 289. At 2:25pm on 30 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Besides, practical people don't arrest known spies but keep an eye on them, what for to have more trouble invariably having to find out the new ones, arriving as a re-placement.
    Spy arresting is a very desperate measure.

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  • 290. At 2:41pm on 30 Jun 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    And as I understood there was no sense of urgency about arresting these "sleeping" lazy-bones, not after a nuclear bomb after all, so it's someone in the USA decided to be real mean to us.

    Provided they are all ours because I doubt, too many silly alike busy with invisible ink. May be scraped up all who could pass for the spies across the USA together, and addressed to envelope "To Putin, with best regards."

    Because there was another thought in our quarters, it's a clumsy USA attempt to quarrel our dear tandem again. Like, the message being, "We really like Medvedev, he eats hamburgers well and twitters and is overall more acceptable, while you, nasty Vladimir, nah nah nah (like David says :o) - to you we send a dessert."

    Extraordinary silly, we are one country, and by the way who the USA plan to be friendly with, where would Russia end up, without VVP - is a big mystery.
    But then what to expect of people who can't scribble a word on a button and all :o)))))))))))))))


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