Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday musings

It seems that the so called “other shoe dropping” effect is starting in Europe.
Spain has asked for an immediate “loan” (as if it will ever be paid back!) of over 100 billion dollars to prop up its banking system. The good news is that there will be no extreme austerity measures required to do so as they have been in place for a while already.
If that is true, then where will savings be found to pay off the loan and rebuild the economy?
The average honest taxpayer is pretty well taxed to the maximum and barely able to afford to live as it is right now. So.... social programs appear to be the only option apparently. And that will truly be a thorny problem to implement.
I read an article about a young professional in Greece who decided that she was going to move from Athens back to the small town she grew up in. She decided that she was going to grow produce to sell on the market place and then refurbish a small restaurant and offer a more extensive menu for the clients. So the first thing she asked about was how to obtain state subsidies for the growing of the produce. Then she quickly discovered the real resistance of the locals to the “fancy city style” changes to the food fare in the restaurant much to her dismay. While on one hand I applaud her attempt to do this. The whole methodology is horrible.
State subsidies? Symptomatic of a generation trained to believe “entitlements” are a birth right (hello you striking students in Quebec!) . This also shows how the concept of free enterprise and its accompanying spirit of innovation and risk taken has been destroyed by the socialist nanny state governments that flourished in Europe after the second world war until now. Indeed this can also be seen in no small degree in the impact in Saskatchewan from the decades of state knows best and business is evil dogma of the once ruling New Democratic Party.
I think that this in no small part is partly responsible for the incredibly wrong pay packages for leaders of large corporations nowadays. Instead of people saying no to these people and having the courage to replace these people with someone else, they have been so dumbed down that they no longer can imagine that alternatives exist. The free enterprise spirit has been beaten down in us and we are held hostage to the few, admittedly, that know how to manage and manipulate the so called system.
I see where Germany is floating the idea that countries in the European Union place their gold reserves as collateral for any debt relieve loans. This is aimed mainly at Italy that may be the next on the list of countries needing a bailout. The thinking is that the Italians love their gold and have enormous amounts of it in the personal possession and in their federal bank vaults. So if they have to face the prospect of losing their precious commodity if they default, that they will actually reform their fiscal system and pay back the loans.
Interesting and novel idea is it not? If you want MY money then if YOU do not pay it back, you actually have to lose something? You cannot be like the Greeks and demand more and more with no fear of consequences. Only the Germans have the brass to do this and good for them, this should have happened a long time ago. Heck, try and get a loan from your bank and when it is due tell them that you are not going to pay it back and also want some more to buy some more baubles and if they do not like that, that you will be back soon again to demand even more! Would the bank door hit your rear end as they threw you out?
But governments get away with this crap and their citizens applaud this because their “entitlements” continue to flow.
Russian soccer (football actually, with apologies to my American friends) fans are showing the world how racist, ugly and violent they are in the European Cup tournament being held at this time. Beatings, drunkenness, racist taunting of the players – and little is done by the authorities.
Reminds me of the soccer riots in Egypt this February when we were in Argentina. It seems that nowadays when you get a large sports event, then the thugs and hoodlums attempt to hijack the event.
Where did civility in society go?
It seems that the former ruler of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak is in poor health as reports surface of his slipping in and out of consciousness emerge from that country. Another irony of fate that the man that many Egyptians regard as a war criminal will pass away in a soft bed while many of his victims are buried in nameless graves. Many a dictator, despot, terrorist etc have died in bed thought the years while their victims forever remain unavenged. It is a sad and strange world we live in that when these evil people are brought to justice, gives them little more than a slap on the wrist in terms of punishment because society will not do to them what they did to their victims – and they know it. I wonder how different if the world would be today if someone in power had had the courage to have Hitler shot by a sniper in the early 1940's instead of saying that “we” do not kill leaders of governments this way.
Hey, do you not just love the silliness coming from the Russian government these days about Syria? Instead of working to get rid of the depot Assad with others in the international community ( do not get me started on how twisted and useless the United Nations has become these days) they now say “they would not object” to his leaving the country. Oh boy, I bet that has him shaking in his boots! Probably this was said as they loaded another ship with arms for his regime. Will the Russians ever learn to lead rather than deceive the world community?
Have you been following the American presidential campaign at all?
It seems that minor items dominate the news, such as reports where a Romney ad spelt America as Amercia – like come on, who gives a rats ass anyway? This is a country that is the greatest in the world with some majour problems and facing a dysfunctional political system and this is the big thing?
What about the state of California and its crazy budget deficit – you look at what the politicians are saying there and shades of Greece, it seems that all the pet projects and wasteful social projects and education continue to expand. I do not for a moment advocate elimination of social programs, but I think that all jurisdictions need to review and streamline them. And not by a committee of self serving government appointees with a mandate of a year or more to do so. And when the mandated review is done, no one cares anymore, but rather by a team of free enterprise outsiders with a 6 month timeline and commitment to implement recommendations within another 6 months.
In the States as well as Canada we have generations now trained to live on welfare and social programs because to actually work for a living is not enough of an incentive as the recipients get almost as much money for sitting around, having kid after kid (for government subsidy money). This wastes money on ones not needing it and denies the truly needy instead. Something really wrong there.
America, the world looks to your leadership, and frankly it needs it, so please, get your act together. Without you, the future looks increasingly dim.
In Argentina the head of the rail system responsible for the subway station disaster in Buenos Aires in February is now facing criminal charges. It will be interesting to see how this progresses as the rail system there is underfunded and running with some obsolete machinery and probably the accident was a result of this and possibly poor maintenance. Problems that plague many public transportation systems throughout the world today. Because when times are tough fiscally, maintenance programs are always the first casualties of cutbacks.
Ray Bradbury died this week. He along with the great Australian writer Andre Norton, were responsible for this person learning the wonderful world of science fiction many, many decades ago. Travel in space, ray guns, aliens – all stuff of dreams and fantasy for a young child. These people are some of my heroes and they are missed.
Remember that I have talked a couple of times about moving out to the west coast of Canada?
Well that dream is now a reality as we are having a house built on Vancouver Island and it will be ready for us August 1 of this year. This is a time of great change for the two of us and while there are regrets to be sure and people that we will miss, the future looks exciting and we eagerly await it.
Take care out there,

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