Tag Archives: Aristotle

Finding inspiration

The act to incite, perhaps even a form of stimulus. Yet, when we go back to a more theological page we see: ‘a divine influence directly and immediately exerted upon the mind or soul‘. So what is wrong with inspiration? You see whilst inciting could be seen to encourage a positive term, incitement is for the most ALWAYS negative. When we see incitement we see: ‘the action of provoking unlawful behaviour or urging someone to behave unlawfully‘, why not see incitement an act as to encourage positive change? Even stimulus is now nearly always seen as a negative. The stimulus package being a foremost example.

In an age where hardship rules, we could use a positive force, yet when we see that projection of feigned wellness is combined with managed bad news, what positive force could be atoned? This is the thought that has been in the back of my mind as I am completing my current assignment. A choice I made in the past, whenever I get one step forward, the next instance I am facing two steps back. This is perhaps just a situation that exists between my two ears (as we refer to mental issues).

Greece is not even the foremost example on my mind. There are other issues where we see a change on what is for some and will never be for most. The next part seems a little repetitive as I have mentioned these parts in the past.

  1. How is it possible?

Here we see a side of the world that seems out of context as per last year. Forever the oil prices were going up and up until it went beyond $120. Profits were astronomical. Now, as prices are just below the lowest basement, we see the following parts (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/apr/26/bp-profits-down-still-in-deep-water). “It’s a big week for big oil, with both BP and Royal Dutch Shell reporting results. Despite crude prices hitting a 2015 high at the end of last week, they are still almost 50% down since last June, which means continuing trouble for the businesses“. Now consider the reality. Take a litre of crude oil, ½ becomes Petrol, one third becomes Kerosene and the rest goes into dozens of other products. Now consider the history of your shopping. Since 2008 (and since the oil drop of 2014), when did your petrol price go down and by how much? Jet fuel should go down, yet Virgin, Qantas and others are keeping the Jet fuel surcharge in place. So at present we have accounted for almost 85% of the crude oil, the rest goes into products like soap, Vaseline and other carbon based artefacts.  None have ever made a decent downgrade in price. However, the article claims on such hardships even though the price of the raw resource is still lower than ever. So what stories are we being told? Are the oil companies guilty of incitement to exploitation?

  1. How are we in this position?

Here are 8 mergers for last year, several more are to come and hundreds more have passed and a fair amount of mergers are set at mega billions, several in the pharmaceutical industries.

Lets take a look at a few of the 2014 mergers: Value: $67.1 billion, May 18, 2014, Value: $46.8 billion, June 15, 2014, Value: $46.8 billion, April 7, 2014, Value: $25.3 billion, February 18, 2014, Value: $23.6 billion, March 11, 2014, Value: $19.4 billion, February 19, 2014, Value: $17.1 billion, April 30, 2014, Value: $16.01 billion, January 13, 2014. Total $262 billion. Now consider that these mergers are for the most tax-free when they are seen “as reorganizations through acquisition. Under this model, companies must swap, rather than outright sell, assets and equity such that the two companies end up becoming one new company with an agglomerated store of assets and equity“, that is very nice for the boards of directors and as multiple borders are broken, many options (highly complex ones) open up to maximise non taxability. Yet, many governments have done next to nothing to curb this form of greedy exploitation at the expense of the local governments whose protection they enjoy and the exploited workers who are left at the short end of the stick in many cases, again and again. There is often little consequence for the acquiring party will soon find themselves in an upward reorganisation, but the other party is more often than not in a less positive position, which is the way of the world, I will not oppose the issue of reorganisation and acquisition, yet the laws have been bend beyond reasonable. In the near past there was a level of equilibrium, as the governments got a slice of that pie. Now, as too many levels of non-taxability are offered, we see a completely unbalanced view of life, to a smaller part in regards to rich industrialists, but to the largest extent to a whole score of enabling politicians with a limited sight to the future whilst blind staring to what was in the past the ‘now’ and never to adjust the future of what should be.

We are all feeling these shortcomings now, Greece a lot more than the others I might add!

Now we get back to Greece for one simple example. The one thing Greece had to do for well over a decade is the step only taken (if we can believe the press) only last week (at http://www.newsweek.com/greece-launches-frantic-crackdown-tax-evaders-ahead-repayments-324927), here we see the story of Leonidas Bobolas, arrested and not to be released until back taxation had been paid. Some might think it is a solution, for me and many others it is a final desperate act by a government that did not take things serious until it was too late. This must be a laughing moment for Kostas Vaxevanis, whose list must be very important at this moment, but there is every chance that the truly big rollers are getting away with it all and more important, the money that will be gotten here is nowhere near the amount required for the payments over the next 16 weeks. It is the final spasm of a nation that has every real danger of becoming extinct a second time. New Greece might soon join Ancient Greece as it becomes forgotten, slowly but surely.

OK, I admit that this future is unrealistic (not to mention vastly exaggerated), but is that not how the Greeks currently feel? A system so broken that the people are suffering. The place where Democracy was born by the mind of Aristotle. It was the foundry where the Olympic Games were devised, yet in all its social paths, the one path forgotten was the safety of the Greek future. Why will this tax evasion path fail? Well, consider that Leonidas Bobolas is ‘regarded’ as one of the large evaders, now consider that his due taxation was less than 2 million Euro and add to this the following quote: “Government data suggested that some €70bn was owed in unpaid tax at the end of 2014. Transparency International found the country’s opaque tax code and corruption of tax collectors meant evasive tax arrangements could be set up for as little as €100“. To get to 70 billion, they would need at least 55,000 tax evaders, all due 1.5 million, now consider the Kostas Vaxevanis list that covered less than 2100 names. The amount due cannot be met, not even close through this way. In addition we see even more posturing of inaction. This comes again from Yanis Varoufakis who stated: “one of the key reforms the government was proposing was the creation of a fully independent tax commission to tackle the problem“. I would personally translate this into a delay of up to 24 months with no actual actions at all. This one arrest is just for show as I see it, a few more will make headlines, but in the end, the funds will not be there on time and we can state that clear evidence of inaction from the Greek government is a mere display of fact.

Why mention Greece?

Greece is at present the extreme example, but not the least of the issues. It shows a governmental failing that is present all over Europe. Greece in its position is only the first one to visibly no longer manage its upcoming bills. The majority of European nations have maintained an inability to manage budgets, which is the second tier in this. As these governments make new mentions of ‘stimulus’ as a solution, it only masks an inability of forward momentum, whilst on the other side of that formula we see governmental spending sprees that cannot be covered in any way, shape or form. One example is the Dutch Stimulus package of 2009, one document (at http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/economic_governance/sgp/pdf/20_scps/2009-10/01_programme/nl_2010-01-29_sp_en.pdf) forecasts a GDP growth of 2% in both 2011 and 2012, a number that would never be achieved, in the end, the growth would be -0.2% and -0.6%, the year after that it was -0.8%, we can speculate that without the stimulus it would have been worse, which is a likely result, but the fact remains, how well are the people off? Let’s not forget that stimulus packages are basically loans, the interest on those billions go somewhere, so in the end the people pay! France with its 26 billion package in 2008 would not see a positive jump until late 2013, then only 0.6%, after that until 2014, France only marginally kept its head above water. Italy does not even get close to those numbers and only had one moment in 2013 where they were positive at 0.1%, the rest is all negative. They pushed in a mere 9 billion. So with three nations, Europe has spent 44 billion and no real results to show. It could be debated as I stated earlier that the state of affairs for those nations would be a lot worse, I could agree with this on the mere premise of the thought. Yet, the one issue that should have been done, namely proper budgeting has not been achieved by any of these nations for over a decade and debts are stockpiling. This has been at the centre of my considerations for a long time.

 

Whether this is mere bad budgeting or a completely unbalanced system where corporations have been uber enabled, whilst their rights are not questioned is another matter entirely. In that regard we have the HSBC view (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/apr/24/hsbc-warns-it-could-leave-uk-over-eu-referendum-uncertainty), where the option of the UK leaving the Eurozone would make HSBC move offices to other shores. Yet, when we google this bank we see articles on how they pay millions and millions less than expected. Now, these articles are not the ones you should have too much faith in, but with this much smoke, the question becomes, were tax bills burnt? I am willing to partially ignore the Swiss scandal as this is only one instance, it is the overall picture that goes far beyond just the HSBC. When we consider Libor, the fines of billions that followed with banks all over the world, we see that populations all over Europe, even on a global level are denied the funds for their support that they should be entitled to. Yet, the paths taken now are also questionable. I support to the larger extent both the Conservative path as well as the Australian Liberal party. Here we see a protection against naming apparent tax-dodgers. My reasoning? If a company engages in legal paths for revenue and investments whether on shore or offshore where the tax laws allow for it, the companies who are creative enough to exploit the loophole shouldn’t be punished. This is at the core of the issue, the tax system has to be fixed and altered. Yet, as we see with HSBC, politicians are often too scared for their own political hide (as I personally see it) and will push forward any tax change. This has gone on for over a decade and many changes are yet to be properly addressed. This is at the heart of the matter.

In the end, what is the wisest of actions? To cater to HSBC and mind liking parties that seem to pay the minimum in taxation, whilst at the same time, the millstones of debt are dragging down all European nations? The UK might have the highest European debt (1.7T), yet the path that the conservatives have taken its population has the best options to lower the debts whilst offering a modest growth. The inability of the other European nations to adhere to this is only one of several factors. Greece is now becoming a larger issue as their timeline of pushed from April to May and now we see the mentioning of June by Yanis Varoufakis: “We wish to merge the current review with the June agreement“, which is now a more pressing issue as the voters in May would steer fast into a direction many will not like, this is the danger, as emotion drove Greeks towards Syriza, that same dangerous move could push the UK voters stronger towards UKIP and the Euro exodus that could follow. Another version where we see a legal incitement away from the Euro, there is no inspiration, just a need for what could be regarded as ‘false sense of security‘. That danger only increases when we consider the next quote: “Tsipras said he was optimistic an interim agreement would soon be reached. But Greeks know another bailout will be needed even if the short-term €7.2bn is secured“, that part and the inability of the Greek government to seriously commit from day one is at the heart of all this.

A need to incite a tax system that works more honest towards the nations that give ‘free’ protection to the corporations that seem to shun a moral refinement is needed. Not just for the UK, but for all European nations. Yet, will this happen? This is the question we should ask when we look at the papers from the IEA (Institute for Economic Affairs), where we saw on December 1st 2014 the following quote: “Despite the Conservative’s pledge to raise the threshold to £50,000, over 5 million taxpayers will pay the higher rate of income tax by the end of the next parliament. Indeed, it is likely that the number of higher rate taxpayers will continue to increase even if the threshold is raised“. I question the spirit of this. You see, the groups are 24.1 million in the basic rate and 4.5 million in the higher rate (source: UK Statistics Authority). I do not deny these numbers, yet, raising the threshold will force other measures too. A more immediate and more just move would be to increase the 0% rate from £10.6K to £13K, which will also benefit the higher rate to some extent (£2.5K less taxable), after this I personally advocated raising both groups, the Basic rate +1% and the higher rate +2%. he reasoning is simple, in the end a budget has to be met, even though we see these ‘holier than thou‘ groups all moving for more tax breaks, yet, in the end, until tax loops and tax havens are dealt with, the tax coffers will remain massively underfunded. Let’s not forget that the UK has to meet a 1.7T issue, all using official bank notes with the ‘£’ symbol (replacing IOU’s in place). If the IEA really wants to push certain tax shifts without properly balancing the equation, we will see a push for drastic austerity sooner rather than later. It is not a mere guess, it is an outcome of mathematical certainty. Only after a serious dent has been made in the total debt, then it would be possible to consider a change. All this is now endangered when we see ‘promises’ by Ed Miliband as he states: “Labour will pledge to deliver a surplus in the current budget as soon as possible in the next parliament. This could allow the party to borrow to fund capital investment for infrastructure projects“, so a surplus and MORE borrowing? So basically he will likely spend his budget and the budget of the next administration in one go. The UK is still dealing with the borrowing acts of a previous governing labour. I see at the heart of ANY government at present, the need to borrow ZERO, whilst still reducing the overall debt to some degree (not possible to state by how much), this is the only way to incite true growth, to inspire a growing economy and to stimulate some version of ‘quality of life’. There are a few steps that any of the elected parties could do, but that requires vision, I have some answers, but filling that solution will take a different view, not one of borrowing, but one of an adapted vision that allows for new growth by changing the equation of costing, a different approach to a changing world where the UK moves ahead stronger still, which will be good for the entire Commonwealth at large!

An act to incite stimulus through Inspiration, a positive wave not based on pre-spending.

 

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This is not Sparta!

You might not realise it, but many of us have a Greek side in us. The gamers are all about ‘This is Sparta!’ as they slay their opponents Gerard Butler style (a Scotsman no less) in Diablo 3, more than a few of them would also consider becoming the consort of Lena Headey (Queen Gorgo), a woman who might be twice their age, but still looks better than the average 25 year old photo model. Some with a more academic approach will be confronted with the Socratic Method as they get through another Uni class. Some will love it, some will hate it. It seems there are no people in the middle ground here. Doctors still recite the Hippocratic Oath and we could argue that Prudence which comes from Phronesis, a Greek word, which got introduced by some old Greek with a beard. I remember the speech, this old guy suddenly making a speech, roughly 334BC, I was watching the Panathenaic Games and suddenly he starts deliberating (at himself) in a most bombastic voice. The man starts ‘ranting’ about something called Nicomachean Ethics, nice, but not while ‘I am watching a game!’ Someone told me his name was Aristotle. I reckon the fab never caught on. Let’s face it, public speakers and the virtue of practical thought, it will never catch on, I reckon. Guess what! It has been 2345 years and I was right! Take this Tsipras fellow, as I see it, he continues a long line of public speakers void of practical wisdom.

That we see in ‘Greece financial crisis: EU offers funds in return for urgent reforms‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/mar/20/greece-financial-crisis-eu-offers-funds-in-return-for-urgent-reforms). You see, this Alexis Tsipras has been in office almost 2 months now and as we can read in the article, he has nothing to show for it. He was supposed to show reform, he now has 10 days and the photo as printed shows away hiding his mouth behind his first. Is it agony, frustration, defiance? Is it all just theatre? The BBC with ‘Greece to draft new reform plan within days – EU leaders‘ (at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-31963952), which shows a ‘smiling’ Tsipras with the quote “Greece has agreed to come up with a new reform plan within days to secure the additional bailout funds required to prevent bankruptcy“, read those words carefully. It does not state, ‘will finalise’, or ‘will complete the current draft’, it states ‘to come up with a new reform plan’. So when we see the quote “I think that all the sides confirmed their intention to try to do their best to overcome the difficulties of the Greek economy as soon as possible“, I feel slightly miffed. You see Tsipras is all about the blame game. In one part, he has every right to be so, because the mess was not initially of his making. He did get into the elections as he saw he could ‘play’ the voters and now it is crunch time, he cannot deliver, because whatever defiant act he will attempt will cost the people of Greece dearly. As I see it, he’ll end up doing exactly what Antonis Samaras was doing, I wonder if that constitutes election fraud? Promising something, not doing it and doing what the opposition was doing all along. As I saw it (yes, a personal view), Antonis Samaras was a fine politician trying to decently play a really crappy hand that he got dealt. You see, in this regard, none of them have done anything  about holding to response the previous administrations that tailored the deal, that spend money an entire next generation did not have, not to mention the artful tax dodgers, none of that was as I see it done! I reckon that Tsipras would only have to arrest Kostas Vaxevanis to show that he is no better than any of the other previously elected politicians.

You see my emotion here is because I love Greece (Specifically Crete), I feel pain as I see that it is driven into the ground by elected officials, it is largely done so through inactions, which makes it even worse. It is sloth in its most profound form, not just spiritual and emotional apathy, it is done through additional decisive inaction. A form of treason of the worst kind. Almost like the captain of a ship who now INTENTIONALLY goes towards an iceberg expecting the iceberg to get out of the way. It reminds me of an advertisement where the captain of a cruiser (USS Montana) who decided to play chicken with a lighthouse (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYsdUgEgJrY), yet in this case it is not a person being handed ‘incomplete’ or ‘incorrect’ information. In this case we all know the object in front of the good ship Hellenic Republic and its captain(s) have not taken the measures they should have. This is how the news is reading to me. What should have been done is a list of continuing meetings non-stop with all parties. The Greeks were given a play, theatre of a mediocre level and soon they will not be left with any options. As I personally see it, politics of its very worst kind.

All this now reflects in a bad way, especially if we take the word of the NOS (Dutch News). Here we see “‘De verwachting was dat het goed zou komen’, zegt de Rabobank-econoom. ‘Maar het probleem is dat de Grieken steeds hun beloftes breken. Ze proberen steeds opnieuw over de voorwaarden te onderhandelen’” “‘The expectations were that everything would be fine’ said the Rabobank economist, ‘but the problem is that the Greeks break their promises and then try to renegotiate their deal again and again’{translated}” as well as “We zijn wel gewend van de Europese politiek dat oplossingen pas gevonden worden als we bijna in de afgrond stappen” “We are used that European politics will find a solution as we are about to step into the abyss {translated}”.

This all directly reflects back to the days of the SNS-bank debacle ‘too big to fail‘. It seems that Tsipras is taking the ‘let’s take this over the abyss, so I can blame someone else‘ approach. Not the most subtle path of the blame game, but a blame game tactic none the less. When did we see any serious step to address reform from Greece? It seems to me that the ‘let’s be nice one more time to Greece‘ is counted upon, yet no clear and decisive act from the Greek elected officials is coming. So as the possible mark of bankrupt is looming no more than 2 weeks away, did the Greek population consider that if the government is out of money, how much money is actually available at a bank? When the run on the bank starts, how quickly are those coffers empty and where will the people get cash to pay for the average need like food, water and electricity?

That part seems not addressed in any way!

Actually it is (at http://www.afr.com/news/world/greek-coffers-running-on-empty-bring-accident-threat-closer-20150320-1m3nym), the Australian Financial Review is not the only Financial Review paper, so there will be more, but for the most, we see little about this little part: “While Mr Tsipras isn’t saying what’s left in the bank, he acknowledges Greece is facing ‘liquidity pressure’. The country’s cash shortfall is projected to hit 3.5 billion euros in March“. So even if that part might be ‘virtual’ to some extent, how much money is actually available to banks? That part might be seen when we consider “The Bank of Greece has plugged cash shortfalls by tapping the reserves of other public sector entities, including pension funds, hospitals, and universities“, as well as “The Bank of Greece and the European Central Bank won’t report official cash outflows for January until the end of the month. But sources in the Greek banking sector have told Greek newspapers that as much as 25 billion euros (US $28.4 billion) have left Greek banks since the end of December“, which comes from http://www.cnbc.com/id/102439432. So in two weeks, how will things get paid for?

That is a question Greeks (the population at large) should be asking, because when the money is gone, how will they address the bills with the cash of their savings whilst the banks had pushed them in possible other none profit making endeavours? At least, if things really collapse, we can always opt ‘at least it was due to a radical left vision’, in the past (read 70’s), the radical left visions gave way in Italy to Brigate Rosse and in Germany to the Rote Armee Fraktion. Their economy was never this desperate, so I wonder what the Greeks will come up with, I am however sure that it will be blamed on the Germans (again).

In my view, I wonder, was I correct two years ago? Could an independent Crete have created at least a partial economic growth? Would Crete have been better off in a state of independence? I do not proclaim to have the evidence, but I feel that my feeling back then was spot on. Now the rest of Greece could drag down this island against their will.

It seems very unfair, but then in the politics of Tsipras (and that of politicians at large), fairness never had anything to do with it.

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