Archive for the Category ◊ Politics ◊

More Government Control of Your Life
Tuesday, February 14th, 2017 | Author:

It’s not a crazy proposition of what’s likely to happen:

The time will come when you won’t be able to buy a cup of coffee without being traced, warns investment guru Jim Rogers. To control people, governments will increasingly seek to hunt down cash spending, he adds.

When it’s done, the governments are going to be very, very happy they are going to say they’re doing it for our own good, this is not them, this is for our good. That they’re doing this, but it’s coming, and it’s going to be a whole different world in which we live. Probably we are not going to have as many freedoms as we have now even though we are already losing our freedoms at a significant pace…

Source: Big Brother is watching you: Jim Rogers prophesizes death of cash & total govt control of spending

Who Believes in Individual Liberty?
Saturday, February 11th, 2017 | Author:

For the classical liberal:

There is far, far more true liberalism on the American Right, in this 21st century, than inhabits the American Left. I’ll say it again: there is far more real, actual, tangible liberalism, on the American Right, at this point in time, than on the American Left. By a significant margin.

This is not my opinion based on Fox News, Limbaugh, or Breitbart. I don’t watch Fox News, nor do I listen to Limbaugh, nor do I follow Breitbart. This is my opinion based on a quarter century of cumulative experience and analysis. I have reached this point, having felt the spectrum of American political discourse being dragged beneath my feet, such that many of the old-style liberal heroes of yore would be called dangerously extreme Republicans today.

Source: How the ctrl-Left drove me away from American liberalism

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Is Greece the “Canary” for Economic Decline?
Tuesday, February 07th, 2017 | Author:

The continuing saga of economic decline in western democracies…  Is Greece the “Canary in the Coal Mine” for how these events unfold?

 

Update

It’s now 2017 and there is still no clear path to stability for Greece… and no one appears to have an answer. The economists are now saying that Greece cannot ‘grow’ out of their economic malaise:

The new report was prepared by IMF staff ahead of a February 6 board meeting to discuss the fund’s participation in an EU-led €86bn bailout of Greece and signals the continuing hard line the IMF is taking on debt relief for Athens. It offers a bleaker view of Greece’s economic dilemmas than an analysis prepared last year, warning that the debt load is “highly unsustainable” and would not improve even if it implemented further reforms recommended by the fund. . . .

“Even with these ambitious polices in place, Greece cannot grow out of its debt problem,” IMF staff warned in the report, seen by the Financial Times and drafted as part of the fund’s annual review of member economies. “Greece requires substantial debt relief from its European partners to restore debt sustainability.”

This is a good assessment of the real challenge:

The deeper problem is that Greece does not produce like a developed country, but its citizens expect the level of services and pensions normally associated with a developed country.  That’s why there is so much hostility to Greece in the middle-income countries of Eastern Europe, where benefit levels are lower.

 

June 25, 2016

From the Wall Street Journal, there is no end in sight for the economic decline in Greece…

Mr. Tsipras’s statist ideology is as hostile as ever to the supply-side reforms Greece needs, and both the IMF and other creditors seem to be giving up hope that any other Greek politician could enact such reforms. Which means Greece’s crisis will drag on no matter what happens next with Greece’s debts.

 

May 8, 2016

The drama continues as the government of Greece passes additional austerity measures:

Greece’s parliament has passed a package of tax and pension reforms, ahead of a crucial meeting of Eurozone finance ministers… Before the vote, protesters in Athens threw petrol bombs at police, who responded with tear gas.  Trade unions say the country cannot bear another round of austerity… Three days of a general strike paralysed public transport and slowed the public sector and the media.  Speaking before the vote, the leader of the Greek Communist Party, Dimitris Koutsoubas, said the Greek people would “not tolerate nor accept” the measures and would “show their true power” in the event of a yes vote.

 

April 16, 2016

This article in the Daily Mail should give you an idea of the recent economic progress (or lack thereof) in Greece:

The Greek government fears it could be subjected to terror attacks if a taxpayer-funded mosque is not constructed in Athens.  Officials claim it would allow Muslims to practise their religion under the auspices of a centrally-appointed imam that would ensure it does not stray into extremism.

Hmmm… the country is broke, yet it’s using ‘taxpayer’ (in Greece, the word taxpayer should always appear in scary quotes) money to payoff potential terrorists.

 

January 25, 2016

From the analysts at investors.com, the latest status and outlook:

In protracted and bitter negotiations last summer, the country promised to raise the retirement age, cut pensions, liberalize the energy market, open up closed professions, raise taxes and sell government assets.

There have been encouraging signs. In December, the Greek Parliament narrowly passed overhauls needed to get the next $1.1 billion segment of the bailout negotiated over the summer with the IMF, the European Central Bank and European Commission, known as the troika.

Standard & Poor’s raised its long-term sovereign debt rating to B- from CCC+ with stable outlook, citing the country’s compliance with its economic program.

But the country is a long way from recovery. Third-quarter unemployment was 24% and the economy contracted 0.1% from a year earlier.

Analysts with Deutsche Bank said earlier this month that they expect Greece to slip into deep recession later this year.

 

September 21, 2015

The malaise continues… a good analysis from Strategy Page:

We know how Greece got here. Greek productivity could not pay for the lifestyle its citizens desired. The productivity of other Euro-zone nations financed Greek good times and kept Greek politicians in power.

Greece lied to obtain the largesse. When the Euro-zone officially formed in 2001, Greece claimed it had a GDP deficit of 1.5 percent. In 2012, former Greek budget minister Peter Doukas said the real 2001 figure was 8.3 percent. Over the years, Greek governments violated fiscal agreements, borrowed money they could not repay and managed to hide the lies. European Union monitoring systems failed to detect the buildup in Greek debt.

The Greek people, who supported these lying governments, enjoyed “other people’s money.” Now German, French and even Italian workers say no more. Italians complain that Greek government worker pensions are far more lavish than theirs. No la dolce vita on our euros.

As for selective law enforcement: Systemic crookedness stymies economic growth. Greeks know it. A June 2010 poll found that 78 percent of the Greek people “accept the view that many or all in government are corrupt.” That same year, a Greek finance ministry investigation uncovered extensive tax evasion, corruption and bribery in its tax collection offices. Greek tax evaders cost the country an estimated $27 billion to $30 billion a year.

Here’s the big story. In Greece, we witness another hard example of an old lesson. Economic reality shakes and eventually shatters political fantasy. Fantasy may fade, but denial tends to die hard. All too often, it dies violently.

 

June 28, 2015

The saga continues… The Greeks elected a Communist leader that promised economic miracles for the citizenry (sound familiar?); and everyone has discovered the harsh reality of running out of other people’s money.  It’s now widely reported that the Greek government is shuttering the banks for a week:

Greek leaders planned to shutter their banks on Monday amid last-ditch discussions about their nation’s economic future, as panicked citizens tried to pull their money from their accounts while they still were able.

I still don’t know enough about macroeconomics to predict the eventual end game…  I suppose the other EU countries will be coming to Athens to repossess the Parthenon.

greek-economy

 

January 6, 2015

Well, three years later and we have not yet closed the loop on the outcome…  Today’s BusinessWeek discusses Greece considering its options:

The current Greek situation is particularly troubling since by as early as mid-year it could constitute Europe’s Lehman Brothers moment. Whatever the outcome of the Jan. 25 parliamentary election, it is difficult to see how Greece can avoid a major policy collision with its European partners. Greece is showing every sign of austerity and economic reform fatigue as its economy remains mired in the deepest of depressions.

 

February 3, 2014

Yes, the story continues more than two years later, but the plot and results remain the same… As noted at ZeroHedge, Europe pretends to bail out Greece… and Greece pretends to reform and comply with austerity reforms when it merely continues to spend as before until the money runs out…

At this point, I would be willing to say that Victor Davis Hanson has been the best prognosticator (see earlier posts below)

 

May 9, 2013

The Greek government began its first mass-firing of public-sector workers in more than 100 years this week, part of an effort to lay off 180,000 by 2015 under Europe-imposed austerity.

via Greece starts firing civil servants for first time in a century.

 

August 20, 2012

More bad news about the Greece economy…  They have debt coming due and the country needs to issue more bonds.  The Greek GDP shrank by more than 6% over the last 12 months.

I still have that lingering question:  How does Greece break out of this continuous decline?

 

July 24, 2012

The Prime Minister of Greece declares that his country is in a depression (any surprises here?):

Greek GDP is expected by the end of this year to have shrunk by about a fifth in five consecutive years of recession since 2008…

 

May 11, 2012

You may have missed the Greek elections, but the results are foretelling — the citizens cast quite a few ballots for the Communist and the Nazi parties…  the real takeaway that can be generalized for many western countries is that nobody wants to hear about austerity measures.  Given a choice between a leader who says “you’ll have to tighten your belt and go to work” versus a prospective leader who proclaims “the government should continue to support your lifestyle”, well, the answer is pretty obvious.

The saga about bankrupt western countries continues to unfold…

 

May 2, 2012

It’s not getting any better in Athens…

image

 

April 5, 2012

It appears that the financial markets are not convinced that Greece has overcome its problems.  The Greek 10 year bonds are now hovering around a 20% yield rate (in contrast, US 10 year bonds are approximately 2%).

 

February 13, 2012

A prognostication from Victor Davis Hanson:

There are only three scenarios likely for Greece: (1) In exchange for debt relief, a liberated Greece changes its ways, opens up its economy, redefines labor and capital markets and becomes a sort of Spain (unlikely). (2) It defaults and its drachma-based country reverts to what one remembered in the old days and what one would expect from a top-heavy, unproductive socialist state (somewhat likely). Or (3) it gets some half-relief, but soon reneges on its promised reforms and austerity, and thus like Greek cities in the 2nd Century AD, life goes on as weeds grow among the impressive, but crumbling infrastructure of the past (very likely).

 

February 5, 2012

The saga continues… Is the situation in Greece a microcosm of the western democracies and economic decline?  A recent issue of the Washington Times discusses how the Greek bailout cycle continues unabated:

The latest examination by international debt inspectors found Greece in such dire straits that it requires another $20 billion cash infusion. This would be on top of the $171 billion promised in October, which was on top of the $145 billion Greece received in 2010…

Greece is not going to escape this repeating cycle of near-collapse and bailout without doing something that sparks sustained economic growth and private-sector job creation. It’s well past time to try something new. The last two years of bailouts and broken promises to cut back on spending have resulted in a shrinking economy and what seem to be daily news of rioting on the streets of Athens. That’s not exactly the best advertisement for Greece’s most significant industry: tourism.

 

January 31, 2012

The German news organization, Spiegel, is sharing its thoughts on the situation in Greece…  They exclaim that European politicians are not facing reality:

Once again, Europe is arguing over a bailout for Greece, and it looks as though the result will be no different that it has been in the past… Europe’s politicians continue to battle reality. Everyone knows that Greece cannot repay its massive pile of debts, now at more than €350 billion ($459 billion). But instead of effectively reducing the financial burden, European politicians intend to approve new loans for the government in Athens and go on fighting debt with new debt.

 

January 29, 2012

The latest discussion is about Greece changing from using the Euro as its currency:

Germany and the rest of the eurozone can’t actually kick a country out of the euro for fear of investor panic and speculation against Portugal, Italy, Ireland, and Spain. But if Greece were to leave on its own…

 

January 25, 2012

The situation in Greece has many economists around the world concerned:

The rest of the world needs to sit up and take notice of what is going on in Greece right now. This is what can happen when you allow government debt to spiral out of control. Once it becomes clear that you can’t pay your debts, a financial collapse can happen very suddenly and you start losing your sovereignty to those that you must turn to for financial help.

 

January 15, 2012

I’ve been watching the situation in Greece with great interest.  It possesses all of the leading indicators of great decline associated with a western culture that has embraced Socialism.  These indicators include a very low reproduction rate among the indigenous population; huge amounts of entitlements showered among the citizens; and a government expenditure rate well out of line with the country’s gross domestic product.

When a country gets to this point what happens?  Do they declare bankruptcy and the creditor nations repossess the assets? Do they hyper-inflate their way out of debt by using their own currency?

Over at the Calculated Risk blog, they talk about the fact that everyone knows that the Greeks are not willing to adopt austerity measures.

At this point, it all sounds like a huge game of “kick the can” as a means to delay the inevitable…  of course, I still don’t have a clear picture of the eventual outcome.

 

Category: Business, Politics  | Tags: ,  | 3 Comments
What’s Happening in America
Monday, February 06th, 2017 | Author:

From my buddy,  Joe K, comes some Irish insights about America.  It’s hard to argue with these basic observations:

“We have been going through a cultural paroxysm for the last 10 years — the rise of identity politics has created a Balkanized society where the content of someone’s mind is less important than their skin colour, gender, sexuality or whatever other attention-seeking label they wish to bestow upon themselves.

In fact, where once it looked like racism and sexism might be becoming archaic remnants of a darker time, a whole new generation has popped up that wants to re-litigate all those arguments all over again.”

“It was a brutal rejection of the nonsense narrative that says Muslims who kill Americans are somehow victims. It took the ludicrous Green agenda and threw it out. It was a return, on some level, to a time when people weren’t afraid to speak their own mind without some self-elected language cop shouting at you. Who knows, we may even see Trump kicking the UN out of New York.

Frankly, if you’re one of those who gets their politics from Jon Stewart and Twitter, look away for the next four years, because you’re not going to like what you see. The rest of us, however, will be delighted.”

Source: An Irish Take on America’s Election

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Immigration Reality
Monday, January 30th, 2017 | Author:

The Leftists are apoplectic over Trump’s executive order halting immigration from terrorist-spawning countries. Here is an interesting viewpoint on what’s really happening:

Advocates of sane, secure immigration policy have long noted that it’s almost impossible to have a reasonable discussion of the refugee and immigration issues, because it’s been sentimentalized and politicized beyond the realm of rational thought.

This weekend brings them another superb example of media-magnified shrieking about fascism, bleating about “white nationalists,” howling about “religious persecution,” false invocations of the Constitution, and theatrical sobbing on behalf of the Statue of Liberty.

The hysterical reaction to Trump’s order illustrates the very thing that worries advocates of strong immigration security: Americans’ security is the lowest priority, far below progressive ideology, crass political opportunism, and emotional theater.

We’re being effectively told by the theatrical class to tolerate a certain amount of Islamic terrorism because their feelings would be hurt by the tough measures we need protest ourselves from a tough enemy. But this time, President Trump is proving tough enough to push our security up into the top priority.

Source: Seven Inconvenient Facts About Trump’s Refugee Actions

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Trump vs Obama on Immigration
Saturday, January 28th, 2017 | Author:

This is a good summary:

There’s one fundamental difference between the new White House and the old when it comes to immigration: Barack Obama ordered his administration not to enforce a number of immigration laws. Donald Trump has ordered his administration to enforce them.

Trump’s two immigration executive orders, issued Wednesday, are long, far-reaching, and complicated. But perhaps the most consequential passage in the two combined orders is a single sentence: “The purpose of this order is to direct executive departments and agencies to employ all lawful means to enforce the immigration laws of the United States.”

Source: Trump’s radical immigration plan: Enforce the law

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Fred Sokol, Of Blessed Memory
Thursday, January 26th, 2017 | Author:

In memory of my father, Fred E. Sokol (zikhronah livrakha, זיכרונה לברכה), known in his younger days as Ephraim Shklovsky.  He was born in Petah Tikva, Israel in 1929 and passed away in Dayton, Ohio in 2017…  a few photos through the decades of 1930, 1940, 1970, 1980, 1990, and 2010.

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A Major Change in USA Direction
Wednesday, January 18th, 2017 | Author:

Ideally, changes for the better are coming…

Inauguration Day 2016 will mark perhaps the greatest political and cultural shift in American history as the Utopians of the Progressive Left kick and scream, wail and whine as they shuffle off into forced retirement and irrelevance.  Perhaps not since Lincoln’s trip to Washington in early 1861 to begin his first term has so much vitriol, so many official and unofficial attempts to derail and delegitimize the president-elect, been seen.

Source: Trump Gores a Sacred Cow, and Liberals Lament

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Islam and Opposition to Western Values
Tuesday, January 17th, 2017 | Author:

For those who believe that Israel is the reason that Islam opposes the West:

The international community must wake up soon and acknowledge the truth that a religious war is in progress between Radical Islam and the civilized, democratic, and free Western world, which includes Israel. Israel has been in the forefront of the war on Jihadist terror because it is a Western, democratic, nation located in the barbaric, primitive, Islamist neighborhood where Radical Islam originated.

However, the international community should know by now that throwing Israel under the bus through condemnations, product labeling, boycotting, and divestment will not save it from Radical Islam. Associating with, sympathizing with, and granting concessions to other radical Islamist players such as Iran, Assad’s Syria, Hamas, Hizb’allah, and the Palestinian Authority, only reassures Islamists that Europe and the world is not serious about defeating Muslim terror and eventually can be weakened and defeated by it.

Source: Betraying Israel

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You have been Snookered
Saturday, January 14th, 2017 | Author:

All of you who believe that Obama (better known as the Manchurian Marxist Moslem) is a master statesmen and the latest arrival of the Messiah should be a little disappointed.  In reality, he is a delusional master charlatan.  Take a step back and examine the facts.  Over eight years, Obama has relied on the unprecedented practice of two key strategies:

  • Repeat the message, no matter how fictional, until it becomes real to people
  • Use the federal presses to print money and buy-off the sycophants

As Lawrence Sellin noted: “Over the course of eight years, Obama’s pronouncements steadily became, not motivational instruments or representations of a desired state of affairs, but feats of political transubstantiation, where, if he utters them, words become reality.”  Obama and the mainstream media have perfected the practice of presenting their spin on any message.  It’s now very difficult to differentiate between videos observed on CNN from those produced by Hollywood.

You don’t believe that Obama was buying support?  During the Obama years, he added more than 9 trillion dollars to the national debt.  This is almost a doubling of the debt that has been accumulated over a 200 year period!  Is that not significant?    An example that may be more meaningful — the number of food stamp recipients increased by more than 10 million people, 32% higher than when Obama took office.   In 2008, about 80 million Americans were out of the workforce. That number has since grown by more than 15 million people.

All politicians are part-time magicians — fast with their hands and tongues.  Obama has taken the manipulation of the public to unprecedented levels.

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