Tag Archives: democracy

Return towards Tyranny

To be honest, I never expected to be alive when this moment came. I did not fear or dread it, I merely did not expect it. Perhaps I had grown weak; perhaps I like all the others had become complacent. It also reopens an old wound. It was not me that started this; it was actually the work of an associate professor of strategy, economics, ethics, and public policy at Georgetown University (aka Jason Brennan) who gave us the ground works. In his book against Democracy which was published in 2016 we see ‘Should dumb people be allowed to vote?‘ I have always believed that voting was a basic right, yet should it be? And I am not devoid of criticism on self either. When I was young, I voted, yet I voted populist, the need of what some would call ‘my fairway’ and what might be regarded as short sighted.

I had little or no knowledge of the word policy (other than spelling it correctly). I would not comprehend a decent level of policy for another 5 years. I did not comprehend the exploitation of subsidisation and the impact on the quality of life until years after that. So was I in any place to give voice to who should direct a nation in any direction?

Jason introduces some and reminds many of epistocracy. Here we see: Epistocracies retain the same institutions as representative democracies, including imposing liberal constitutional limits on power, bills of rights, checks and balances, elected representatives and judicial review. But while democracies give every citizen an equal right to vote, epistocracies apportion political power, by law, according to knowledge or competence“. If nothing else, it is the showing of the failings through the current American president Donald Trump that is calling for such a change. There are examples in Australia and the UK for similar shifting, yet how to resolve it? There are voices that we have become too dumb for any democracy, yet in this, if we are about checks and balances, there is an upside to all this. In equal measure we will push towards the creation of an accountable press society. Meaning that some of the glossy news innuendo presenters could find themselves barred from ‘journalistic consideration‘ in some future. As dumb is becoming an issue, then too clever needs to be looked at as well. You see, some politicians are merely too clever for their own good and they have not been overly intelligent about it.

Political science site The Cut gives us additional goods via Jesse Singal. We see: “Whatever cutoff point you set for You Must Have This Much Knowledge to Ride the Epistocracy, it would in all likelihood be strikingly easy for rich people to meet that threshold, simply because of how money and privilege and education work, and the vast majority of the people who couldn’t get past the sign would probably be poor — and therefore disproportionately non-white as well” In this Jesse is right and we can partially solve it by having political science in High School, I admit not the greatest place. A place where most are sex, sport, gaming and procrastination driven, oh and there is an abundant need to imagine one of the sports illustrated swimsuit models doing a balancing act with her vagina on your penis (or is that the other way round?) Yes sex sells in so many ways and it gets you past more classes dreaming through the day. So we have a much larger problem than we think, but there is a growing consensus that the current democracy no longer hacks it.

Some might remember Starship Troopers, the movie. There is a quote that comes from Heinlein’s book: “When you vote, you are exercising political authority, you’re using force. And force, my friends, is violence, the supreme authority from which all other authorities are derived!” It is an important realisation that we all have this power and we squander it, at times almost utterly meaninglessly. The same book also gives us a ‘Citizens versus Civilians’ issue. When I was young I was living with the impression that this was merely a resident versus citizen equivalent. You see, the setting is: “Citizenship is a privilege, not a right, the competency tests help weed out the complete idiots and morons. Also, if you have to work for the right to vote, you will be more likely to study the candidates in order to use your vote better. That which is free is valued little, but that which costs much is valued highly“. We seem to have forgotten about the ‘privilege’ part and the current settings all over the world give rise to this shift. When we are seeing the implications here, we see that on one hand it would spell a massive advantage to republican based people, yet the balance here is that intelligence comes creeping in and there goes their advantage. Some even dug into that deeper stating that in the old style stage of militia (the age of the minutemen – 1645) only citizens were allowed military grade weaponry. So we would optionally have two optional advantages here, we get a natural culling of weapons and those who are wielding them and we get a less likely evolution of the populist politician, all advantages. We also accept that there are weaknesses in all this and it would never ever be perfect. Yet if it would be better to what we have now, would it be a solution to consider?

That is the question, is it not?

And when we consider some of the news we have seen in the last two days alone, this question is actually going to the forefront of many minds. Consider the Guardian Quote “Gorman points to 1957, the year the state constitution was amended and Utah became one of the last states to give Native Americans the right to vote. Ever since, he says, white GOP leaders – many of whom trace their ancestry to Mormon settlers who moved into the region in the 1860s, after the Navajo were forcibly removed by the US government – have used a host of tactics to suppress the Navajo vote“, it is not the first one and not the only one. Yet if we transfer this to the Jason Brennan change, would they not be equally disadvantaged? I see that as the Achilles heel in all this, because the idea that those too stupid to vote is not an issue to me, yet to evade those unable to get schooled into the right to vote is equally unacceptable. In the end, the Brennan solution might be the best solution if we can solve a few issues that are unacceptable. The Native American part is one, yet there are others and one example is found in Australia. The Sydney Morning Herald gives a few parts. The one that seems to be an uplifting one is: “Mr Latham announced the move on Alan Jones’ 2GB radio program and said he joined One Nation to “fight for our civilisational values”“, yet the issue is larger. SBS (at https://www.sbs.com.au/news/parliament-warned-against-normalising-white-supremacy) gives us the goods that cannot really be placed in a single quote, even as: ““On the face of those words, without any context, you may think there’s nothing objectionable about that,” he said. “‘it’s OK to be white’ is a slogan used by white supremacists, by neo-Nazis who use it deliberately to make their ideas sound benign and unthreatening… It’s not about the literal form of the words, it’s about the meaning. If we are not careful about calling out the dangerous appeals to racial homogeneity, purity or integrity, then we can end up in a situation where parliament here in Australia can normalise white supremacist slogans.”” does drive the dagger home, we see that there is much more to former Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane. You see the danger of ‘normalise white supremacist slogans‘ is extremely dangerous. It is a fortune cookie philosophy stage where the sentence makes perfect sense, yet the meaning is pushed in another direction whilst not clearly pointing that out. It is actually explained pretty perfect in a TV-Series called West Wing. In the episode ‘Red Mass‘ we see this in action. The quoted scene:

Josh: Here he quotes Robert Frost. “Good fences make good neighbours.” Did he talk about that?
Donna: Yeah.
Josh: What did he say?
Donna: Basically, that if you stay within your personal space, you’ll end up getting along with everyone.
Josh: Is that what Frost meant?
Donna: No, he meant that boundries are what alienate us from each other.
Josh: Why did he say “Good fences make good neighbors?”
Donna: He was being ironic, but I still don’t see…

This is brilliant in so many ways, and it gets to be better when you know the history. You see Robert Lee Frost (1874 – 1963) was an American blessing for America. The stage where a person with two educations and no degrees bring an audience a creation that would stand the test of time, a stage where this man ended up receiving four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry. So his work matters on several levels. So when we see the original poem Mending Wall which was done in blank verse that remains relevant even today. It involves two rural neighbours who one spring day meet to walk along the wall that separates their properties and repair it where needed.

He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
and eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbours.”
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
if I could put a notion in his head:
“Why do they make good neighbours? Isn’t it
where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.

You see I identify towards self, in this day and age in another way. I like my fence when I watch a movie or play a game. I want to focus on these two and the small moments I have truly that are me are valuable, I embrace my isolation. It does not matter whether I work in a server room, whether I sit in a chair and dream of the day, all day long. I am with the thoughts I need to be, my creations continue to grow, the puzzle is solved and the interruption stops all that. Yet isolation in totality is a wrong thing, it is harmful to self. If one does not realise that, one harms one’s self more than others. We are all in need of our walls, even more so in this day and age of feigned positivity to the open plan offices that distract like no other. I am from the age of the cubicle and it never bothered me. When I work, I work. When I eat, I eat. It is simplicity yet it is also dangerous, I do admit that and the fortune cookie philosophy brings the dangers to that surface. If you can recognise the danger, the need for interaction becomes clear and important, I never opposed that. Yet too many voices go into one or another extreme and here is where we see the wisdom in Buddhism. Here we see: “maintaining a balance between faith and wisdom, and between effort and concentration. Faith opens the mind to the possibility of things that cannot be immediately experienced or understood. But if faith does not go hand in hand with caution, questioning and even a healthy scepticism, it can be very misleading“, balance is the great equaliser in all this. It has ben or the longest of times and not seeing that is a danger in itself. This now reflects back to epistocracy and democracy. When we optionally realise that they are extremes on the same line, we might see the danger to embrace either extreme. One might state that we need to embrace both and find a balance there. It does not negate all dangers, but it might remove a few and in the age where American votes were purged as they were seen dangerous to the vote for one side or another, we see the need to alter the reality we are in, to give shape to democracy and the need to hold it and the people wielding it accountable to the choices given, the promises not kept and the politicians and the press both to be held liable, even up to the point of criminal conviction. Freedom of the press is only an act of freedom it it also holds it responsible for the freedom that they exercise, in this President Trump has lately been proven more correctly than the responsible press is comfortable with. The bad apples in that basket are ruining it for all the pieces of fruit in that basket, and that was never supposed to happen.

That is seen when Tim Soutphommasane offers the one Kohinoor in the SBS article. A truth that seems to apply to the United States, the united Kingdom, Australia and a few other nations. That wisdom is: “I would even venture that it’s likely that naturalised citizens, those who have to sit a citizenship test, are likely to know a lot more about Australian democracy than those who have citizenship as a birthright.” I would state that it has become sad state of affairs in those nations as we are offered that one truth that shows the utter need of governmental change.

When we reflect that back to the stage of tyranny where the rule is not what we think it is. We still wipe it off the table as: ‘cruel and oppressive government or rule‘, yet hat is not completely true. You see, a more apt version is: ‘A government in which a single ruler has absolute power‘, this is more correct, or perhaps a little more complete. In my view it is the adjusted view: ‘A government in which a single ruler has absolute power, though an absence of checks and balances‘ that brings the stage of completeness. It is the absence of checks and balances in the ECB, the absence of it on Wall Street, as well as with the media and press, they are all elements of a stage that is shifting. Even as the people (mostly in the US) are staging the war against the second amendment as the meaning has changed to the largest degree. We see that the very same is happening to their first amendment. In the text we are informed of: ‘prevents the government from making laws which respect an establishment of religion, prohibit the free exercise of religion, or abridge the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the right to peaceably assemble, or the right to petition the government for redress of grievances‘, yet the part of ‘the freedom of the press‘ as they altered the ‘the people have a right to know’ the people have often been misinformed by not being correctly and completely being informed. The media, as the news, which created for the most their own demon ‘fake news’ is now a much larger concern and there are no plans to stem this tide on several levels (especially in the fore mentioned nations) giving us a much larger problem, driving us to a much less tolerant tyranny by our own design.

Until some of these problems are addressed and even redone we all as nations of vote eligible civilians and citizens are now approaching a stage where the idea of an epistocracy replacing democracy is more appealing than ever. We all got there in our own way, via our own path and when that change is completed the media will wish it had done its job more proper. It will cry and rant on the freedom of the press and that they can govern themselves and they will realise that accepting the Leveson charter might have been the easiest solution for them in many ways.

Even as I see the growing tyrannical push, the diversion towards an epistocracy is not the worst part in all this. In one blessing we should see that those in a monarchy will be in a much better place than those in any republic, yet this is not a new track. Consider Plato, who in Republic a work that is almost 2400 years old that discusses the morality of ‘the meaning of justice and whether the just man is happier than the unjust man‘, we assumed the former choice, yet over time both Wall Street and Apple have shown us (in the last 10 years) that the latter is the happier one and the people are catching on and they are all starting to demand change. A 2400 old work might in the end force our hands and whilst nepotism and flaccid politicians paved the way for such a large change, they are not the only cause. The fact that populations as a whole are willing to consider such a change is an actual plus point in all this, merely because such unity had not been seen in my lifetime to this degree and that is also a refreshing yet worrying notion.

Have a great day!

 

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Viewpoint to a point of view

It all started at 04:00, Google started their announcement of Google Home (which blew me away and that is a rare thing) and Google Pixel, which instantly proved my telecom issues of mobile phones and memory. Shortly after that George Monbiot gave me ‘Lies, fearmongering and fables: that’s our democracy‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/oct/04/democracy-people-power-governments-policy). It is an excellent piece, because it made me ask questions of myself and how I saw things. I have never proclaimed to have all the answers, I give insights and I oppose other views without personally attacking them. You see, many disagreements are not always on the facts, but on the points of view, usually that view is laced in a perceived (non-)factual interpretation of what we observe. So let’s take a look.

You see, when we get to “Democracy for Realists, published earlier this year by the social science professors Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels, argues that the “folk theory of democracy” – the idea that citizens make coherent and intelligible policy decisions, on which governments then act – bears no relationship to how it really works. Or could ever work“, now, we can accept that, or we can consider another option without stating that this view was wrong, because it isn’t.

You see, this is what happens ‘citizens make coherent and intelligible policy decisions‘, which leads to ‘on which governments then act‘, yet the reality is that ‘coherent and intelligible policy decisions‘ tend to be made through the information given to us by the news and by the newspapers, yet too often they do not completely inform, they voice too often the point of view that a government (or benefiting party) wants us to see (or obscure). For example, the previous government of the Netherlands with their approach to ‘managed bad news‘. I wrote about those events in 2013 and 2014. Why what this happening? Well, I was clearly aware of a non-reality of their overly positive news on how commerce would improve, pretty much all the Dutch shared that sentiment and a real revelation would have meant harsh cutbacks, yet that government did not want to do that, so the Dutch were informed of overly positive news, and after the spending date, the NOS started to ‘release’ (read: voice) news regarding setbacks. Not all at once, but step by step by step. So what we perceive to be ‘intelligible’ is nothing more but a reaction to what should be regarded as ‘misinformation’. My defence here was that I foresaw the not so good economy. I (with no economic education) was off by 0.4% (too negative) and the economic experts on high incomes were off by 0.9% (too positive). I’ll let you decide this one!

The next quote is even better “In reality, the research summarised by Achen and Bartels suggests, most people possess almost no useful information about policies and their implications, have little desire to improve their state of knowledge, and have a deep aversion to political disagreement“, now, there is one part that is an absolute given in most occasions ‘most people possess almost no useful information about the implications of policies‘, that is one truth that is undeniable, even the more alert and aware people tend to miss things there, because, unless you are not part of it, you tend not to be fully in the know. It is almost a non-issue, yet the other part of policies is because getting a politician to sit down and explain it all is usually and equally a non-option, the more relevant info the politician has, the less likely it will be to find him available to explain it all. The best example would be the global collection of ministers of defence. Now, I am not talking about the hush hush stuff, because it would be a low and simple blow to get towards the classified stuff. No, I am talking about the large open things. So let’s state a NATO member, its Minister of Defence and Raytheon agreements. Some news now only 14 hours old (at http://www.army-technology.com/news/newsraytheon-to-upgrade-antpy-2-radars-with-gan-technology-5021950), seems to give NATO (initially just the US) with an advantage. So the quote from Dave Gulla who said: “GaN components have significant, proven advantages when compared to the previous generation GaAs technology“. Yet, when we take a look Patent US 6586778 B2, (at https://www.google.ch/patents/US6586778), we see “A gallium nitride layer is pendeoepitaxially grown on weak posts on a substrate that are configured to crack due to a thermal expansion coefficient mismatch between the substrate and the gallium nitride layer on the weak posts. Thus, upon cooling, at least some of the weak posts crack, to thereby relieve stress in the gallium nitride semiconductor layer. Accordingly, low defect density gallium nitride semiconductor layers may be produced. Moreover, the weak posts can allow relatively easy separation of the substrate from the gallium nitride semiconductor layer to provide a freestanding gallium nitride layer“. At this point I would initially state ‘Oops!’, yet that is not the issue, because there is a patent, means that there is a solution. The issue is not the fact that there is a solution, but that the solution is patented, in addition, we see an august article (at https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160801093236.htm), which gives us the summary of “From 2020 the 5G mobile standard is aiming to transmit data rapidly and energy-efficiently. For that purpose researchers are developing new power amplifiers based on the semiconductor gallium nitride“. So now we have an old fashioned horse race, because did that Minister of Defence realise that Raytheon is relying on parts that will drive the costs through 5G needs sky high? So, we are a looking at something that has an optional growth opportunity of close to 50,000% (blatantly extremely speculative by yours truly), so how will that drive the prices? In the UK who will get the sharp component deal, those servicing 68 million mobile users, or that one ministry of Defence? #JustAsking

So here you see information in action. Moreover, from my point of view, it is speculative as well. My speculation is that the Gallium Nitride (GaN) will grow so fast in demand that it will drive up prices fast and near exponentially (and with that the margins they had). Is that speculation so far out of bounds? You only need to remember the 4G rush to know that I am right. And if the patent has any real impact until 2023 as conditional initial end date, then North Carolina State University could end up with both the Angels share and the Devils Cut, which is a nice deal to begin with (for them that is), yet for the rest, it will drive prices up fast and by a large amount. Was this considered and is my view right or wrong?

So this technology war is not over, not by a long shot.

Now this is just one instance, for one nation. And when we ignore classified materials, how many issues play in this alone and where have we not looked? Now, we cannot expect that all issues were dealt with in the initial approach, but when we see that these issues are now undertaken and there is no direct solution, how much higher will the cost be in the end? So, without these facts, would the other NATO members dump the Raytheon upgrade? Is the upgrade mandatory, or even perhaps, my point of view is wrong. The last one is still valid, yet in my defence, what happens when there is suddenly a shortage of something? Show me one instance when the price of the goods were not spiralling upwards. I remember the chip war and the memory bank war. In those days, those critters were on a day price, it was like buying a lobster for Pete’s sake (not the other Pete, because he is a Vegan).

Yet part of my views are seen in “Direct democracy – referendums and citizens’ initiatives – seems to produce even worse results. In the US initiatives are repeatedly used by multimillion-dollar lobby groups to achieve results that state legislatures won’t grant them. They tend to replace taxes with user fees, stymie the redistribution of wealth and degrade public services. Whether representative or direct, democracy comes to be owned by the elites“, Geoff deals with lobby groups, which is what I raised too, yet in my view, I looked at the (miss)-presented side and in the past, just a few days ago, I raised the incapability of tax reforms, all over Europe for that matter. It seems that taxation is a pox on both houses, this whilst both sides know it is essential, yet from 2013 onwards the US has done so much to utterly stop the essential overhaul from happening.

So, I loved the article because it showed for the most my point of view (as I have stated it for many months), from another viewpoint, which is always nice. An article that should wake us up not to the lack of Democracy, but to the realisation how democracy is shaping us all to no longer seek it and spearhead the presented needs straight into the direction that helps big business the most (for now). So did we elect the wrong politicians, or were we only given the media that made us choose the individual currently in charge? Here I now look towards the dozens of morning shows that ‘do’ the news on a local level, but sugar coat a massive part outside of those few minutes on the whole and half hour to push opinions and interpretation of events, ‘guiding’ us towards a choice we could have avoided. As media changed so fast, whilst we did not keep up, we saw our fenced pasture change into a maze of fences and no way to see where the exit is.

This democratic world reminds me of the wisdom seen on a card: “and God promised men that good and obedient wives would be found in all corners of the world…then he made the Earth round…and he laughed and laughed“, which reverberates here too, ‘as democracy reached all corners of the earth’, you get the idea!

 

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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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Talking the Walk

Yes, today is an interesting day, in a time when we all have a notion of democracy; we must all wonder how much of a democracy is left. You see the freedom of choice and the choice in options means that the freedom given is also an inherent acceptance of accountability? If we make a small sidestep at this point, then I would like to take a step towards the Media Ethics as stated at mediaethicsmagazine.com.

There in the fall of 2008, T.L. Glasser and J.S. Ettema wrote an interesting article called ‘A Philosophy of Accountability for Journalism’, it is a good article to read and well worth reading (at http://www.mediaethicsmagazine.com/index.php/browse-back-issues/135-fall-2008/3639324-a-philosophy-of-accountability-for-journalism).

The initial line, as in any good academic article is right at the beginning, when we read “The problem of ethics in journalism, we want to argue, is not the inability of journalists to know right from wrong but their inability to talk articulately and reflectively about it“. I from the my viewpoint, for the point of view that many has seen as we see the ‘junk’ articles from Murdoch publications hit us is that the point given reads to many of us (roughly 99.32443% of them non-journalists) see the second phrased as “their inability to avoid accountability by speculate on the words of seemingly non-existent sources they will never reveal“.
What we get is gossip, branded as journalism, a speculative piece where no accountability will ever be required. This is for a lot of people at the heart of the need that the Leveson report would address, which is why Journalists in many nations, especially in the UK as a trade that had lost its integrity to many.
This is however not about the article, yet, I am mentioning it as the article is an excellent piece of work and the article actually is to some extent shows the moral compass within all of us. There is however one more quote that I will not go into now, but it has bearing on what comes next “which reminds us that discourse ethics does not involve a marketplace process which aggregates individual interests but a deliberative process which brings into existence common or shared interests“.

This is about today, the first day of a new day of default for Argentina (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/31/argentina-government-defiant-debt-default-axel-kicillof). We seem to have been all about the banks and their evil practices. I know, because I have been one of them. The question becomes, what happens when you accept doing business with a loan shark? I wrote about it in my blog ‘Changing the rules of Democracy‘ on July 27th.

When the IMF wanted to restructure debts in 2003, USA as stated stopped the IMF; I want to know the EXACT reasons why. Perhaps they are valid, perhaps not! I also reflected on the fact that someone went to the Vulture funds and signed a deal. What was that deal exactly and who signed it. You see, Argentina is not blameless here; at some point, there is a knock on the door and at that point, the bailiff will want his coin, which is pretty much what was settled in court.

The Guardian article raises a point through the following quote “Economists at the Washington-based Centre for Economic and Policy Research called on the US Congress to intervene, warning in a letter that Griesa’s decision to uphold the holdout investors claim could cause ‘unnecessary economic damage to the international financial system, as well as to US economic interests’“.

You see, in all fairness, is that acceptable? If a system is brought and evolves devoid of accountability, how can we ever get a better world? I have pressed for accountability on many sides. On the side of Journalism as I embrace the full Leveson report, on the side of the banks as their soulless acts have diminished the value of millions of account holders, yet here in this case, are they not on the morally higher ground? No matter how despicable Vulture funds might be regarded as, these people offered a deal on conditions of risk because no bank wanted them, or in the case of Argentina, as the USA seemingly prevented the IMF offering a deal.
Now, when the deal is due, the client requesting the deal is not willing to make payment. So, as the facts are shown, I have to be (alas) n the side of the vulture fund, who offered the deal. If not, then I myself must abandon the premise of accountability, which is pretty much not an option.
If we accept the implications of communicative rationality in the sphere of moral insight and normative validity as the setting for discourse ethics, then I would like to change it (mold it) into the following statement: “If we accept the implications of agreed contract terms of rationality in the sphere of moral choices and normative acceptance of a loan” then we are getting to the part why I added the Journalism article on accountability for journalism.
This I now link to the quote I mentioned from the Guardian article. This is the cost of doing business! Sometimes you win, sometimes you do not, but to go out in response to change the game, because there is a cost, then we have a new problem. Do not misunderstand me, if there is some kind of a bail-out deal, then that is fine, but it would be understandable if it comes at a cost, more important, it might have been avoided all together if the 2003 IMF deal had gone through, so why was the 2003 deal stopped?

I understand and I do not disagree that the Argentine government is stopping it all and taking the ‘default’ path, yet, that too will come at a cost. Accountability should prevail here too. Is it for the better or for the worst? That is a discussion that is speculated upon, but for now it is one that comes without a clear answer. So, I cannot, without clearly more evidence to agree with cabinet chief minister Jorge Capitanich here. You see, who signed for this all in 2003? It is the inherent consequence of governing. The bill is pushed forward, it is a dangerous game that the US is currently excelling at and so if you wonder on why I care about another deal for 1.5 billion dollars, it is mainly because this paves the way for America when it defaults on their 18,000 billion loans, then what?

When we see people hide behind statements like ‘too big to fail‘, you should also consider the fallout when things go wrong. Consider what once happened to the Dutch SNS bank and is now happening to the Argentinian economy, both impacts were felt in large ways and they are not even anywhere near the scale of the debt the US and Japan have. And as we mentioned Japan, is that not the fear many brokers have? If we see the text from Moody’s (at https://www.moodys.com/research/Moodys-Japanese-RMBS-and-ABS-default-rate-declined-in-April–PR_302652).

Someone or something seems to be pushing Japan along, holding them on the safe side for now. Yet, this economic high-wire act is nowhere near done and it is a long walk to go for now. When we read “For CMBS deals, Moody’s outlook for the next 6-12 months is negative, as it will be difficult to refinance defaulted loans with high loan-to-value ratios“, so as refinance is now getting harder and harder, consider the US bonds. Part of the US debt is also the ‘Interest Expense on the Debt Outstanding’ (at http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/ir/ir_expense.htm), this is set for 2014 (up to October) to be almost $355 billion dollars. This is just the interest. At Bloomberg we see “The government will reduce net sales by $250 billion from the $1.2 trillion of bills, notes and bonds issued in fiscal 2012 ended Sept. 30“, this is clearly incomplete, as there is not mention of WHEN these bonds mature, but the overall sell of bonds will hit the US at some point. If we consider the CNS headline “$2,472,542,000,000: Record Taxation Through August; Deficit Still $755B“, so taxes are coming in, they are not enough as the deficit is around 30%, now consider that the due interest is going to be 15%-20% (because two months are currently not known) of all collected taxation. When the bonds are due, how much larger will the debt become?
I have mentioned it many times, but now as we see the reaction of fear as Argentina defaults, we cannot continue without seeing the threat and fear of Japan from defaulting, which will clearly push the US over the edge of that abyss too.

Here is where the issue becomes the dangers we fear. We seem to always mention that those who talk the talk should be walking the walk too. This has not been done by large by many, so now we talk the walk but no one is really accountable, making for a massively dangerous situation. If you even consider thinking that there is no danger here, try calling a Syrian hospital by telephone and ask them how they are doing. It might open your eyes really quick.

If we are to walk the walk then Argentina will default and we have a new situation, yet the unnamed danger is that ‘some’ deal will find its way, which is great for the Argentinian people, yet it also impacts the cost of doing business for all the other players. Have you consider the costs that this will bring everyone else?

 

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