Posts Tagged ‘Germany’
… to live here, but it helps!
This was a guest post sent to me by regular contributor, Chris Snuggs, back in May. It somehow slipped between the cracks, so to speak, and only came to light when I was trawling through a pile of draft posts.
Despite, or even because of, Madam Merkel’s re-election it still seemed a valuable post to publish. Chris lives in Germany and has a very good perspective on things.
It may also serve as an interesting reflection on the IPCC’s report when it is published later this week.
Over to Chris.
“Angela Merkel would seem to want it both ways.” (“Der Spiegel”)
The above comment caught my eye as I browsed through “Der Spiegel” this morning. Frau Merkel is delaying difficult decisions on energy production and “carbon backloading” until after the September elections in Germany.
Nothing earth-shattering in itself, of course. It is human nature to want it both ways, and examples do not lack.
One does somehow feel, however, that it has got worse in recent years. Kids want a highly-paid job without working their way up through the company hierarchy. Spain et al want to enjoy German prosperity by using EU “structural funds” without actually doing the boring hard work over decades. And politicians of course want growth and prosperity and a vast state apparatus plus a voter-bribing welfare system but without debt – or indeed troublesome whinging from the voters. However, as the proverb goes: “You can’t have your cake AND eat it.”
However, this article quoted is about something more serious than mere short-term greed, which is not exactly new in the history of Mankind. No, we are now applying the illusion that we can have it both ways in an area that threatens life on the planet – Global Warming of course.
As a concerned member of the “We don’t want to die from Global Warming Brigade”, I am more worried than ever about what is going on, and Germany is a symbol. Whatever the Germans do, they tend to do thoroughly and efficiently. They have a fairly large Green Party, a large investment in solar power and until recently seemed to be setting an example to Europe and the world. However, …..
• Germany will this year start up more coal-fired power stations than at any time in the past 20 years as the country advances a plan to exit nuclear energy by 2022. Two coal-fired plants opened in 2012 and six more will open this year, adding up to 7 percent of Germany’s capacity. A dozen more are on track to open before 2020. Greenhouse gas emissions in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, rose 1.6 percent last year as more coal was burned to generate power, the Environment Ministry said two days ago.
• With the current carbon price, utility companies that have invested in low-carbon electricity generation such as wind and nuclear are losing market share to companies that produce energy using coal. Some companies are already acting on the low price of carbon in Europe. E.ON, for example, one of Germany’s largest utilities, announced recently that clean-energy investments will be cut to less than €1 billion in 2015 from €1.79 billion last year.
The thing is, if serious and efficient Germany is backsliding on emissions what are the chances for the rest of the world, with standards of living far below Germany and desperate to catch up?
An understanding of the problem of CO2 emissions is hardly new, yet it seems to me true to say that nothing serious is being done about it. There is lots of talk, noble efforts by Al Gore et al, international conferences, carbon-trading schemes and so on, but all the time CO2 emissions are increasing. Last week we learned that atmospheric CO2 has now reached 400 parts per million, a level not seen for 4 million years.
Despite this (and the consequences predicted seem to range from merely uncomfortable to threatening to life on Earth), the search for, exploitation and use of fossil fuels are all increasing. A student of logic would surely say that this is irrational; we are lowering ourselves to the level of lemmings, except that they can’t help it but we could.
We are completely hooked on fossil fuels; that is the problem. We have one minister ranting on about “saving the planet” and another proudly announcing new oil-wells, new areas earmarked for shale-fracking, developing countries opening new coal-fired power-stations. Industry in the west is making some efforts to clean up its act but these are being predictably swamped by growth in the developing economies.
It would be funny if it weren’t so serious. A few years ago “experts” talked about the end of oil as resources ran out but as we get cleverer at extracting it from more and more difficult places the availability of fossil fuels is actually going up! On top of this the melting poles (and Greenland) are opening up new areas for exploitation by the oil companies.
“Oil companies”. Yes, the Big, Bad and Ugly Culprits … and yet the last time I checked oil companies do not actually run the country they are based in. (Conspiracy and “Plutocrats run the World” theorists will certainly disagree with this, but that is another story!)
No, governments rule their countries, and while some are dictatorships and plenty of others are totally corrupt, there are a good number of democracies involved in this headlong rush to disaster. Worse, we are in a massive generalised recession and yet emissions are still creeping up. What will happen once “growth” takes off once more – as it will, these things going in cycles.
Living in Germany, I have personally been horrified by the decision to phase-out nuclear power. The Green movement is politically significant here and the government reacted rapidly and negatively to the Fukushima incident. This was indeed terrible, but does not change the facts:
- Nuclear is totally free of CO2 emissions.
- There has never been a serious accident in Western Europe.
- France still today derives over 70% of its electricity from nuclear.
- Nuclear designs are far safer than they were years ago.
- Nobody in their right mind would build a nuclear power station in an earthquake zone as the Japanese did – though if they want nuclear (and they have few natural resources) they don’t have a lot of choice
- Europe of course is an earthquake-free zone, except for Southern Italy.
- Nobody either would build one where the cooling pumps could be flooded by a tsunami – as the Japanese (usually so clever) ALSO did.
There are nonetheless dangers in nuclear of course, but:
- ONLY nuclear can currently provide enough power to satisfy our needs without CO2 emissions. Solar and wind are feeble pinpricks in comparison.
- There is no sign of a Deux ex Machina on the horizon that will solve the emission problems associated with fossil fuels.
My personal conclusion is that without nuclear we are doomed, since we seem totally incapable of reducing CO2 without it. On the contrary, now that shale-fracking has come on stream the emissions seem likely to rocket, with a presumable corresponding increase in Global Warming. And as far as that is concerned, it does seem to me – as a layman, like most of us – that we are involved in a vicious circle: the more the poles and Greenland melt, the more radiation is absorbed by the oceans and the more CO2 is released. People have talked about a “tipping point”, but it could just as easily be an “explosion point” – after which a geometrically increasing temperature in an unstoppable feedback cycle takes us to a Venusian scenario.
Not wishing to be to gloomy, but Frau Merkel’s procrastination is worrying. Politicians do things with such short-term considerations. She seems to be waiting till after the elections, but excuse me Frau Merkel, saving the planet can’t be put on hold.
Yes, whatever Europe does is pointless if India, China and South America are going to steam ahead, but someone has to set an example, and at the moment, Germany is burning much more coal AND opening new coal-fired power stations just as we should be cuttting back.
What is the solution? Nobody seems to know. If they do, they aren’t acting up on it. It is rather depressing. All Europe’s politicians are talking about at the moment is increasing growth = burning more fossil fuels. Even France is cutting back on nuclear ….
WHO WILL SAVE US?????
Finally, a few facts about emissions:
• The world emitted 31.8bn tonnes of carbon dioxide from the consumption of energy in 2010 – up 6.7% on the year before.
• The world emits 48% more carbon dioxide from the consumption of energy now than it did in 1992 when the first Rio summit took place.
• China and India together are building four new coal-fired power stations per week
• China – which only went into first place in 2006 – is racing ahead of the US, too. It emitted 8.3bn tonnes of CO2 in 2010 – up 240% on 1992, 15.5% on the previous year.
• China now emits 48% more CO2 than the USA – and is responsible for a quarter of the world’s emissions. Chinese per capita emissions, however, are still around 60% lower than in the USA (now involved in extensive shale-fracking)
• Global coal consumption grew by over 5% in 2010; gas by over 2%.
• Renewable energy accounted for only 2.2% of global energy output in 2011, despite all the fanfare over wind turbines and solar panels.
I tried to get a handle on some of these statistics. 31.8 billion tons of CO2! I went into the garden yesterday and tried to imagine the volume of gas that would weigh one ton. Impossible of course, so I looked it up: it is apparently 556.2m3 or a cube with sides of 8.3m.
Another amazing stat from this site (http://www.icbe.com/carbondatabase/CO2volumecalculation.asp) is that every year the United States emits a 33.14cm high blanket of carbon dioxide over its entire land area.
HAVE A GOOD DAY!!!!!
A reflection on the history of the German Shepherd dog.
Yesterday’s account of getting to know GSD Duke a little better caused me to find a post that had been sitting in my Drafts folder for a couple of years. It was about a piece published in The New York Times, Sunday Review, October 8th, 2011 under the heading of Why German Shepherds Have Had Their Day.
Why German Shepherds Have Had Their Day
By SUSAN ORLEAN
SUCCESS can be a drag. You yearn for it, strive for it, and then, when it finally arrives, it sets off repercussions you never anticipated that sometimes undo that success.
Take the German shepherd. Originally bred to the exacting standards of a German cavalry officer, it became one of the 20th century’s most popular working breeds. But in recent years that popularity, and the overbreeding that came with it, has driven the German shepherd into eclipse: even the police in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, who had relied on the dogs for years, recently announced they were replacing them with Belgian Malinois, because the less-popular Malinois were hardier and more reliable.
But there is good news about this bad news, if you are a lover of the breed, because less visibility, especially in inspiring roles as public servants, is likely to mean less demand for the dogs. That means less reason to produce too many puppies, which is the best thing that can happen to any purebred dogs.
The article continued with the history of the breed. But rather than stay with the NYT piece, for more about the breed history I’m going to cross over to the website of the British charity, German Shepherd Dog Rescue (GSDR). They have a comprehensive account of the History and Origins of the Breed.
History and Origins of the German Shepherd Dog
A brief insight into the development of the breed
The German Shepherd breed appeared late at the end of the 19th century in Germany and they were first exhibited at a show in Hanover in 1882. They were not like German Shepherds as we know them today though being rough coated, short tailed and rather resembling mongrels. The German Shepherd Dog as we now know it didn’t really appear until after the Second World War.
The breed was actually created by the cross breeding of working sheep dogs from rural Germany by an ex cavalry officer called Max von Stephanitz whose aim was to create a working dog for herding which could trot for long periods.
A breed standard was drawn up and the first breed show took place in 1899 following which the GSD became firmly established across Germany. In 1906 the first dogs were exported to the USA .
Since then, the breed has grown enormously in popularity and is now one of the most popular pedigree breeds in the UK as a pet as well as being the favourite working breed for many forces, especially the police. They are widely used for security purposes because of their strong protective instincts.
Many people in the UK still call these dogs Alsatians which may partly be due to the fact that when they were first bred, the Alsace region of France, where these dogs were very popular, was part of Germany . I still get people who think that Alsatians are the traditional short coat black and tan dogs and that German Shepherds are the long coated dogs that have become popular.
GSD’s make wonderful family pets and will protect family and home.
These dogs are highly intelligent and will show undying devotion to their master but they are dogs that need company and stimulation to be at their best. It is however, important to remember that this is a working breed and that they do have certain characteristics that some people might find difficult to live with. The German Shepherd should be steady, loyal, self assured, courageous and willing and should not be nervous over aggressive or shy. Nervous aggression is something that we are now seeing more often as a result of bad breeding. It is sad but there has always been indiscriminate breeding of German Shepherds right from the start, which has lead to problems with temperament and health.
Before leaving the GSDR website, please read more about this important charity, “We are one of the longest standing and largest German Shepherd rescues in the UK.” and if there is any way at all that you can help, please, please, please! (And fellow bloggers, consider a post spreading the word about this wonderful charity and these most magnificent of dogs.)
So a few memories of German Shepherds closer to home.
Young Pharaoh 12th August, 2003 when he was just 10 weeks old.
We are friends for life! Each for the other.
Pharaoh, ten-years-old, and King of his Castle! Taken on the 3rd June, 2013 at our home in Oregon.
The arrival of young Cleo!
I suspect Pharaoh is explaining to Cleo that there’s only rule of the house – his rule!
Picture taken April 7th, 2012
From puppy to Big Dog! Cleo resting where she shouldn’t be! February, 2013.
What magnificent animals they are!
Reinforcing my long-time respect for Prince Charles.
HRH The Prince of Wales, more familiarly known as Prince Charles, is a man I have longed admired and respected.
Many years ago, I worked as a volunteer teacher/mentor with what was then known as The Prince’s Youth Business Trust (PYBT). Later, it became incorporated into The Prince’s Trust. The PYBT enjoyed passionate and active support from HRH, and with good cause. Essentially, the PYBT offered socially-disadvantaged youngsters, who had very little chance of getting a job, the opportunity to be mentored on the skills of being an entrepreneur. Many of those youngsters went on to get decent jobs and many others started their own businesses, some with considerable success. Simply because thinking like an entrepreneur is impossible if you don’t have faith in your own abilities. That self-confidence shows in so many walks of life, especially when one is going through a job interview!
The Prince has also long been known for his concerns over the way we treat our planet, going right back to the days when it was regarded rather quaint by the mainstream media. But as Wikipedia reveals, “He has long championed organic farming and sought to raise world awareness of the dangers facing the natural environment, such as climate change. As an environmentalist, he has received numerous awards and recognition from environmental groups around the world.”
So it was lovely, but no great surprise, to see how well a recent speech was received on the subject of Regional Food Security given at Langenburg Castle in Baden-Wurttenberg, Germany. The full text is available on The Prince of Wales website. Let me give you a taste (whoops, pun unintended!) of what The Prince said,
Ladies and Gentlemen, if I may say so, this is a very important conference. I am sure what you have heard so far about the problems we face and the obstacles to tackling them has given you a clear context in which to be able to consider what comes next this afternoon.
The aim here is to think through how we might create a much more local model of food production and distribution. But also, how that might fit with producing healthy food using far more sustainable methods and how we might do all of this without damaging business. Indeed, how this could improve business.
As you have heard, the urgency for this comes from the fact that there is not sufficient resilience in the system as it currently stands. It may appear that things are well. Big global corporations may appear to be prospering out of operating on a global monocultural scale but, as I hope you have seen, if you drill down into what is actually happening, things are not so healthy. Our present approach is rapidly mining resilience out of our food system and threatening to leave it ever more vulnerable to the various external shocks that are becoming more varied, extreme and frequent.
Some of the stories about food that have been making the news are simply disgraceful, if not downright madness. Take this one: Meat scrap leftovers now being reprocessed into ice cream: The dismal future of food!
So see the relevance of The Prince’s speech as he continued:
The drive to make food cheaper for consumers and to earn companies bigger profits is sucking real value out of the food production system – value that is critical to its sustainability. I am talking here about obvious things like the vitality of the soil and local eco-systems, the quality and availability of fresh water and so on, but also about less obvious things, like local employment and people’s health. It is, as I fear you know only too well, a complex business.
The aggressive search for cheaper food has been described as a “drive to the bottom”, which I am afraid is taking the farmers with it. They are being driven into the ground by the prices they are forced to expect for their produce and this has led to some very worrying short cuts. The recent horsemeat scandals are surely just one example, revealing a disturbing situation where even the biggest retailers seem not to know where their supplies are coming from. And it has also led to a very destructive effect on farming. We are losing farmers fast. Young people do not want to go into such an unrewarding profession. In the U.K., I have been warning of this for some time and recently set up apprenticeship schemes to try to alleviate the problem; but the fact remains that at the moment the average age of British farmers is fifty-eight, and rising.
One more extract from the speech:
In the U.K., as elsewhere – but particularly I think in the U.S. – the consequences of this are ever more apparent in the deteriorating state of our public health. We all know that Type 2 Diabetes and other obesity-related conditions are rapidly on the increase. The public bill for dealing with these is already massive and I am told it could become completely unaffordable if we do not see a shift in emphasis. And, of course, it will be cities that carry the heaviest part of that burden. It is a peculiar trend.
Am I alone, ladies and gentlemen, in wondering how it is that those who are farming according to organic, or agro-ecological principles – in other words, sustainably, for the long-term, by operating in a way that reduces pollution and contamination of the natural environment to a minimum and maximizes the health of soil, biodiverse ecosystems and humanity – are then penalized? They find that their produce is considered too expensive and too “niche market” to be available to everyone. How is it, then, that systems of farming which do precisely the opposite – with increasingly dire and damaging effects on both the terrestrial and marine environments, not to mention long-term human health – are able to sell their products in mass markets at prices that in no way reflect the immense and damaging cost to the environment and human health? A cost that then has to be paid for over and over again elsewhere – chiefly, in all probability, by our unfortunate children and grandchildren, whose welfare I happen to care about. Surely this is a truly perverse situation which, you would have thought, could be turned on its head to make genuinely sustainably-produced food accessible to everyone, and the polluter to pay the real costs for the side effects of industrialized food? It is to be wondered at how this state of affairs persists – and yet to suggest standing it on its head and transforming the situation is to invite the predictable chorus of vitriolic accusations that you are anti-science, anti-progress, out of touch with commercial pressures and not living in the “real world.”
The full speech may be read here, and please do!
Well done, Sir! As someone once said, “We are what we eat!“
The business of acting to make a difference.
The future depends on what we do in the present. - Mahatma Gandhi
Yesterday, I republished a long essay from Bill McKibben under my title of Stop, read, reflect and Act! Bill’s essay was called Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math and terrifying the numbers are!
If you didn’t read it yesterday, I encourage you to do so as soon as you can. Why? Because the process of change cannot start until we truly want to change; a total emotional commitment. And the formation of those emotions, that realisation, requires a new understanding of the world around us, who we are and who we want to be. An outcome that is all part of being better informed, which is why the McKibben essay is so profoundly important.
Tomorrow, I want to explore that process of personal change.
But before then, let me go back and repeat some words in Bill’s essay that really jumped off the page and hit me between the eyes.
Writing of Germany, Bill said, “… on one sunny Saturday in late May, that northern-latitude nation generated nearly half its power from solar panels within its borders. That’s a small miracle – and it demonstrates that we have the technology to solve our problems. But we lack the will.“
We lack the will!!
Then in the next paragraph, Bill went on to write,
This record of failure means we know a lot about what strategies don’t work. Green groups, for instance, have spent a lot of time trying to change individual lifestyles: the iconic twisty light bulb has been installed by the millions, but so have a new generation of energy-sucking flatscreen TVs. Most of us are fundamentally ambivalent about going green: We like cheap flights to warm places, and we’re certainly not going to give them up if everyone else is still taking them. Since all of us are in some way the beneficiaries of cheap fossil fuel, tackling climate change has been like trying to build a movement against yourself – it’s as if the gay-rights movement had to be constructed entirely from evangelical preachers, or the abolition movement from slaveholders.
This is what hit me between the eyes, “the iconic twisty light bulb has been installed by the millions, but so have a new generation of energy-sucking flatscreen TVs.” That describes me to perfection. OK, we have installed solar panels as well but I admit to a significant degree of ambivalence! “ tackling climate change has been like trying to build a movement against yourself“
Let me remind you of Bill’s next paragraph,
People perceive – correctly – that their individual actions will not make a decisive difference in the atmospheric concentration of CO2; by 2010, a poll found that “while recycling is widespread in America and 73 percent of those polled are paying bills online in order to save paper,” only four percent had reduced their utility use and only three percent had purchased hybrid cars. Given a hundred years, you could conceivably change lifestyles enough to matter – but time is precisely what we lack.
So it comes down to change; change in a timely manner, to boot!
Let’s hold that until tomorrow and I will leave you with this: Put your future in good hands – your own.
The story that could run for an awfully long time!
I rather revealed my newness as a US resident by posting my review of David Kauders’ book The Greatest Crash over 2 days last week, one of them being Thanksgiving Day. Despite that 1,895 people viewed my review which was entitled The end of an era.
A week has now passed since that review. I was curious to see what sorts of headlines had been making the news in the last 7 days. It’s just a random trawl through those items that have captured my attention.
Let’s start with the Financial Times, November 27th,
The eurozone really has only days to avoid collapse
By Wolfgang Münchau
In virtually all the debates about the eurozone I have been engaged in, someone usually makes the point that it is only when things get bad enough, the politicians finally act – eurobond, debt monetisation, quantitative easing, whatever. I am not so sure. The argument ignores the problem of acute collective action.
Last week, the crisis reached a new qualitative stage. With the spectacular flop of the German bond auction and the alarming rise in short-term rates in Spain and Italy, the government bond market across the eurozone has ceased to function.
Wolfgang concludes his article thus,
Italy’s disastrous bond auction on Friday tells us time is running out. The eurozone has 10 days at most.
Then my print copy of The Economist that arrived on the 26th had this lurid cover page,
Unless Germany and the ECB move quickly, the single currency’s collapse is looming
The leader article contains this paragraph,
Past financial crises show that this downward spiral can be arrested only by bold policies to regain market confidence. But Europe’s policymakers seem unable or unwilling to be bold enough. The much-ballyhooed leveraging of the euro-zone rescue fund agreed on in October is going nowhere. Euro-zone leaders have become adept at talking up grand long-term plans to safeguard their currency—more intrusive fiscal supervision, new treaties to advance political integration. But they offer almost no ideas for containing today’s conflagration.
and a few paragraphs later, this,
This cannot go on for much longer. Without a dramatic change of heart by the ECB and by European leaders, the single currency could break up within weeks. Any number of events, from the failure of a big bank to the collapse of a government to more dud bond auctions, could cause its demise. In the last week of January, Italy must refinance more than €30 billion ($40 billion) of bonds. If the markets balk, and the ECB refuses to blink, the world’s third-biggest sovereign borrower could be pushed into default.
Then on Sunday, 27th, MISH’s Trend Analysis blogsite reveals,
ICAP Plc, the world’s largest inter-dealer broker (one that carries out transactions for financial institutions rather than private individuals), is now Testing Trades In Greek Drachma Against Dollar, Euro
ICAP Plc is preparing its electronic trading platforms for Greece’s potential exit from the euro and a return to the drachma, senior executives at the inter-dealer broker said Sunday.
ICAP is the latest firm to disclose such preparations, joining the growing ranks of banks, governments and other key players in the global financial system whose officials are worried enough about the stability of the common currency to be making contingency plans for a possible break-up.
Investors sent Europe’s politicians a painful message last week whenGermany had a seriously disappointing government bond auction. It was unable to sell more than a third of the benchmark 10-year bonds it had sought to auction off on Nov. 23, and interest rates on 30-year German debt rose from 2.61 percent to 2.83 percent. The message? Germany is no longer a safe haven.
Ultimately, an integrated currency area may remain in Europe, albeit with fewer countries and more fiscal centralization. The Germans will force the weaker countries out of the euro area or, more likely, Germany and some others will leave the euro to form their own currency. The euro zone could be expanded again later, but only after much deeper political, economic and fiscal integration.
Tragedy awaits. European politicians are likely to stall until markets force a chaotic end upon them. Let’s hope they are planning quietly to keep disorder from turning into chaos.
Finally, on the 29th the BBC News website carried details of the Autumn Statement made by British Chancellor, George Osborne, to Parliament.
Osborne confirms pay and jobs pain as growth slows
Chancellor George Osborne has said public sector pay rises will be capped at 1% for two years, as he lowered growth forecasts for the UK economy.
The number of public sector jobs set to be lost by 2017 has also been revised up from 400,000 to 710,000.
Borrowing and unemployment are set to be higher than forecast and spending cuts to carry on to 2017, he admitted.
Just look at that figure of public sector job losses – 710,000!
Well that’s more than enough from me but it does surely endorse the opening views that David Kauders expounded in his book, as carried in my review, and reproduced here,
Starting with the first sentence, David sets out the core problem;
This book argues that it is impossible to expand the financial system much further.
expanding this a few paragraphs later,
This is the financial system limit: lack of new borrowing plus excessive weight of debt obligations from past borrowing combine to slow economies down. This is the barrier whichever way policy makers turn. It is like the lid on a boiling kettle. Enough steam can lift it for a while but it always snaps back into place. The financial system limit is a roadblock preventing growth.
A few pages later in this opening chapter ‘The roadblock preventing growth‘ this limit is explained thus,
Policy contradictions also show us that the financial system has reached a roadblock. The glaring conflict between bailout and austerity is at the core. Each bailout or stimulus requires creation of more credit, leading to false financial speculation, and for a short while markets recover their poise. The threat of inflation returns. Later, bad debts rise, the markets tumble again and a new crisis emerges. Austerity, the alternative policy, cuts spending thereby cutting the immediate level of economic activity and bringing economic decline more quickly than the stimulus alternative. Whichever way they turn, the authorities are damned.
You can understand why I called this Post a ‘footnote’ not an endnote.
This beats the annual Christmas Pantomime
Well, every day the eurofarce gets more surreal. Yesterday, Frau Merkel said this:
“The current crisis facing the euro is the biggest test Europe has faced in decades. If the euro fails, then Europe fails.”
What on earth does she mean by “Europe fails”? Why this recourse to sensationalism?
If the euro is sinking it is because people don’t think it is serious. If that is the
case, the only thing to do is MAKE it serious. This is not to be done by borrowing EVEN MORE money.
In the worst-case scenario (which Merkel’s antics are rapidly talking us into) the euro collapses and we go back to our old currencies. This would be a failure of the EURO, not of EUROPE.
Germany would return to being the economic powerhouse of Europe under the strong Deutschmark. Italy, Greece and other usual suspects would return to their quaint old ways with frequent devaluations.
So what? Better to be honest than go on suffering from a vast ego-bubble that will inevitably collapse in an explosion of hubris. (Thank you for the vocabulary, dear Greeks)
I told you so!
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party and its coalition allies have been defeated in regional elections in North Rhine-Westphalia.
German Chancellor Merkel appears to have lost the state vote in NRW and may see her control of parliament reduced or eliminated. It’s her own fault.
Germany and in particular NRW (the industrial powerhouse of Germany) are in a serious economic situation with enforced cuts left, right and centre and yet she has loaned (aka given) billions to feckless, idle, corrupt and shambolic Greece.
The Germans have had to tighten their belts and are still paying vast sums to bring East Germany up to speed, yet Merkel feels she can fritter away her people’s money to “save the euro“. It won’t save Greece or the euro.
The Greeks fully deserve to go bankrupt and are incapable of complying with the degree of “cuts” the Germans are demanding. Other European countries will lose money if Greece defaults. Tough.
Better to suffer a one-off loss than an endless shelling-out into a black hole. No bailout of Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland or Britain. Did the PEOPLE of ANY of the rest of EU countries have ANY say in this at all?
It seems the French pushed hard for a bailout. What a coincidence that some of their insurance companies have invested heavily in Greece. TOO BAD. Greece’s problems have been well-known for years; which moron poured billions into their black-hole, retire-at-53, inherit-your-sister’s-pension, go-to-work-if-you-feel-like-it economy?
And the Greeks? They seem to feel it is the fault of the REST of us that they have to make cuts. Was a reality check ever more fully needed? Sadly, but inevitably, there will be social breakdown in Greece from which something new will emerge. What that is, one cannot say, but I do not believe it can include membership of the Euro.
The Brussels Overlords think differently. Their little Euro brainchild must be saved at all costs. But they are all personally very well off and have no problems with money, unlike the majority of their constituents thanks to the despicable fraud perpetrated on them by the banks under the appallingly-negligent supervision of a multitude of governments.
I have written about Greece several times in recent weeks since to me it is a symbol of the combination of arrogance and utter folly of many of Europe’s governments – and in particular Brussels – who have overspent wildly, who have allowed their banks to make fraudulent loans and have imposed an ever-increasing burden of bureaucracy, Human rights, paperwork and regulations on the peoples of Europe.
How we are supposed to compete effectively when we A) price ourselves out of the market and B) wildly overspend is a mystery.
Has Europe now to prepare itself for a long period of decline and retrenchment in living standards as Asia maintains its inexorable growth and raw materials rocket in price? I fear so, but it’ll be the ordinary people bearing the brunt of all this, not the increasingly-remote politicians in national governments and Brussels.
Greece is a warning for the rest of us. There is no law that says we cannot go the same way. The UK and France in particular have bloated, feather-bedded public sectors. The chickens always come home to roost, and they are now flocking rapidly towards the hen-house.
By Chris Snuggs
Fancy a Greek Isle?
Germany is baulking at a Greek bailout ….. 84% of the people are opposed according to polls, and Frau Merkel is decidedly lukewarm. This is no surprise; the Germans are pretty commonsensical after all. They are going through a “spot of fiscal turbulence” themselves and hardly in a mood to bail out a feckless, tax-avoiding, economic basket case on the flaky south of the Brusselian Empire ….
Instead, they have come up with a cunning plan; the Greeks should sell some of their islands. I can see the attraction; at knock-down prices, no doubt a good many Germans themselves – short of coast in the homeland – would be only too keen to snap up a firesale bargain.
But if I were Greek I would beware of Germans with cunning ideas. After all, it could be the islands today and the Acropolis tomorrow. Selling capital assets to clear debts built up on a binge of tax-avoided short-term consumption is hardly the long-term solution, and it is remarkable how we humans do tend to go for short-term, quick-fix solutions (see my post on the Fat Pill) . Of course, in Europe at least the Sun (can I capitalize it? It is after all the source of my existence …) plays a large part here, for the further south you go the hotter it is, the more corruptly-shambolic the taxation system, the flakier the economy and the higher the debt. Of course, Britain is an exception to the rule, since it must be put in the Mediterranean basket of cases even though it is far up in the north. Still, Britain was ever exceptional ….
No, I would advise the Greeks to hang on to their islands for a rainy day and do the right thing, which is take the medicine, invest long-term rather than on frivolous consumption and in general live within your means. Selling the islands is desperation stakes, even if the ultimate solution would be to sell the whole country to the Germans and let them sort out the mess, and – more to the point – pay for it all as they did with East Germany.
But though this is hardly a laughing matter – especially for innocent Greeks (I assume there are some!!) – I did have a chuckle yesterday when I saw the headline.
“Greece calls for EU to play its part.” – in other words, bung in billions to bail them out. I am I confess mystified to understand exactly why the thrifty Danes should play their part in bailing out the hapless Greeks, though I suppose we do still owe them for democracy and stuff. When does the statute of limitations run out on this?
Well, good luck Greece, but don’t count on my pfennig, and don’t sell the islands either!
By Chris Snuggs
A King’s folly?
We are lucky enough to live near Füssen in the Allgäu, Bavaria. This is where King Ludwig built Schloss Neuschwanstein as his retirement home. Sadly, he never lived to inhabit it, dying in somewhat mysterious circumstances before it was completed.
His death may have had something to do with the astronomical amount he spent on it, yet ironically, it was a magnificent long-term marketing coup, for today it is one of Europe’s most popular tourist attractions. Millions visit it each year, and for the Japanese tourist on his one and only lifetime visit to Europe it is top of the list of sights.
So, was it a humongous folly and waste of money or a shrewd investment that has given pleasure to countless millions since 1886?
Sometimes in life, it is difficult to be categorical about certain things ….. and one can’t help wondering, will Britain’s Millenium Dome one day rival the Schloss?
Here’s another picture of the Castle and one of the Dome – just to help you answer that last question …