Monday 31 May 2010

Israeli Navy Soldier Describes the Violent Mob Aboard Mavi Marmara

Israeli journalists or Aragon V in Kurdistan

Israel Kurdistan Network

Short and Sweet.

Two successful endings

Straight from the jihadist's mouth. The trip will have one of two happy endings: either martyrdom or they reach Gaza. What are they complaining about if the confrontation they provoked ended in a few new shahids? Isn't that what they wanted?

Peace in our time

This is one of the "peace protesters" from the Turkish Flotilla. I guess Gaza's butchers are running low on knives and this is just a sample of the humanitarian aid they so desperately need.

Israeli Navy Addresses a Ship in the Flotilla and Offers it to Dock in t...

"Negative. Our destination is Gaza."

Close-Up Footage of Mavi Marmara Passengers Attacking IDF Soldiers (With...

This is one of the best videos released yet of our "peaceful protestors."

Free Kurdistan Flotilla

O.K., so French anti-semitism week will be interrupted due to current events; sorry, but we'll work it in somehow. In response to the Turkish "moderately Islamic" government, I would like to call on the international community to organize a Free Kurdistan flotilla to carry needed medical and building supplies to the suppressed Kurds living in Turkey. The Kurds, in contrast to the Dole-astinians, are truly oppressed and deserve international recognition of their plight.

Shout it with me; Free, Free Kurdistan! Don't let them end up like the Armenians.


Sunday 30 May 2010

Are you laughing yet?

I've already posted a couple of videos from Dieudonné, France's most famous Jew hating "comedian." In an attempt to reach broader audiences with his special brand of humour, he started a political party in France last year known as "le Parti Antisioniste." In case you flunked high school French, that is the "Anti-zionist Party" which claims to represent the true left and aims to remove the "zionist" influence in French society. At the official website, you will find help if you want to boycott Starbucks as well as more Nakbaporn than any "anti-zionist" will ever need.

The story gets even stranger here: while Dieudonné formerly stood against the nationalist right wing in France, they have recently made strange bedfellows in their fight against American and Jewish influence in France. Dieudonné actively campaigned in favour of the National Front, a party headed by noted holocaust "minimizer" Jean-Marie Le Pen. This is the same Le Pen who wants to give foreigners and their children money to relocate back to their home countries and who also came in second place in the 2002 national presidential elections. So, there you have it.

The true left and the neo-nazi right joining together to fight the Jewish menace. Maybe we will have peace in our time?
Here is a picture of Dieudonné dressed in full Nazi regalia. Are you laughing yet?

Le Banlieue

It is impossible to talk about French anti-semitism without talking about the defacto no-go zones that have taken root in almost every corner of France. The French euphemism for these regions is officially "les zones urbaines sensibles", or "sensitive urban zones." This turn of phrase is a classical bureaucratic way of applying a somewhat misleading name to an uncomfortable phenomena; by "sensitive", they mean that the government has no permanent control over these regions and that all symbols of French sovereignty such as postal workers, police cars, or fire engines are treated like an invading force and attacked en masse.

One of the most troubling characteristics of these "sensitive zones" is the scale of violence directed at women, particularly those that do not conform to accepted societal standards. By accepted societal standards, I mean wearing conservative Islamic dress, avoiding contact with men from outside of the family, and generally living a life of complete subservience. While she is largely unknown outside of France, Samira Bellil became a household name due to her campaign to fight what is known as "les tournantes." The name literally means "the taking of turns" and is the standard youth slang for "gang rape" in the cités. Her book "Dans l'Enfer des Tournantes" which documents her multiple gang rapes at the hands of boys from her neighbourhood portrays a side of France that largely goes unnoticed abroad. The book is available in English from For additional information, here is a Reuter's article entitled "Girls Terrorized in France's Macho Ghettos."

Saturday 29 May 2010

Dieudonné - The Deported Jew

More from the king of French comedy, Dieudonné. This is in response to a directive from Sarkozy that all French pupils learn the personal story of one of 11,000 deported Jews. But remember, as he says, he's not an anti-semite! Maybe a couple of people laughing in the audience seem that way, but I'm sure they are all Mossad agents who don't want their cover blown.

Dieudonné - SHOAHNANAS (HolocaustPineapples) with Eng subtitles.

This lovely little ditty is brought to us by a French comedian who assures us that he is not an anti-semite; of course everyone should find the murder of 6,000,000 Jews a little funny according to him. This video is sponsored by "", or the "banlieue expresses itself." Of course, no one has to point out what events made the word "banlieue" popular in the English language.

La Douce France

I've been trying to think of the best way to go about this. It is sometimes easier to write about something that you know less about because there is less information to condense. Recently, I was challenged by a French poster at Pajamas Media who said that there is no anti-semitism in France and that the relations between Jews and Moslems were peachy keen; they even have a facebook page together, she pointed out. Maybe we all live in peaceful serenity on facebook singing kumbaya together on the interwebs, but the reality of it all is quite different.

In response, I'm going to try to make this week all about the hexagon and its Jews. It's been a long time coming.

IMF's "Herculean" task in Greece

Some of the best coverage of the Greek debacle has come from the Wall Street Journal. Most of the European coverage has of course been heavily slanted towards national interests, with the bulk of the German reporting coming across as unsurprisingly harsh. The most recent WSJ assessment of the situation in The Word on IMF's Task in Greece: Herculean is no exception and is well worth the read. One thing caught my eye that deserves to be highlighted.

"For Savvas Tsakiris, the coming changes mean lower profits, lower pay and more competition. Mr. Tsakiris, a 48-year-old pharmacist in Athens, fears deregulation will mean "handing over the profession to multinationals that are not pharmacists, but entrepreneurs.""

My question to Mr. Tsakiris is this; is it really any better for government bureaucrats to have control over every square inch of Greece's legal economies that multinationals? Obviously, one of the main reasons for Greek's current crisis is the lack of economic growth that is directly related in part to the country's heavily regulated method of doing business. According to the economic freedom index as published by, Greece ranks below such free-market titans as Mexico and Albania. Why do many persist in thinking that bureaucratically directed markets are safer for them than a free-market that allows more competition? At any rate, we'll see if the Greeks are able to muscle through some rather tough reforms. It has been my experience that people are reluctant to give up the their float in the dole parade without a fight.

Wednesday 26 May 2010

Detroit in RUINS! (Crowder goes Ghetto)

By far my favourite Louder with Crowder episode. Enjoy.

Dearth of Goldsteins leads to death of Goldsmiths

Since the Farhud, Jews have been in short supply in Iraq and jihadis often have to make due with whoever happens to be available. The La times has the story of some confused Al-Qaeda Robin Hoods who liberate 15 goldsmiths of their lives and gold; the gold is later given to themselves to celebrate.

Tuesday 25 May 2010

Bit more humour

Reports of my life are greatly exaggerated

According to this article from last year, Germans are officially "risk shy" when it comes to starting their own business. Somehow I'm not surprised. I have never seen a country so obsessed with preventing every unforeseen eventuality to the point of failing to leave the safety of one's own toilet. Economically, Germany operates on a type of low-to-no competition mercantile system in which the barriers to market entry are artificially high to protect older businesses from young upstarts. For all intents and purposes, the country still has a type of guild system in place that severely restricts labour market flexibility and stifles entrepreneurial innovation.

While it is true that Germany is far more competitive than their southern European neighbours, however reports of industrious, free-market activity between the Rhine and the Oder have been unfortunately exaggerated by English language media looking for a hero vis à vis the profligate Greeks. Truth be told, Germany's future may look a lot like Japan's unless they do more to encourage business growth. And by encourage, I mean they need to take their army of bureaucratic regulating machines and send them away for a few months so they can't get their grubby little hands in every piece of pie they see. It doesn't take an advanced degree in economics to figure out why allowing the public sector Nein-aholics a free hand to decide how private businesses are run is a recipe for failure.

Get Lazy! The game of social life.

Enjoy this classic till I get a couple of articles finished.


Over in Syria, we have news of a devastating new type of "Arse-bomb." Don't worry, this isn't like the previous Al-Q plot involving Arse-bombs. It is an entirely new method of Arse-bombery meant to bring the infidel to their knees, most probably in a fit of well deserved laughter. We need to get our scientists on this before we fall hopelessly behind in the field of arse-warfare. I'm not going to hold my breath till Peta gets right on this with a press release.

Sunday 23 May 2010

Auf der Reeperbahn...

I've found a cure for the Eurocrisis. While everyone else is gorging on the welfare hooch, I'll go for the real thing. Pull me out of the gutter when it's over.

Kim Jong Illin'

According to intelligence analysts, Dear Leader™ Kim Jong Il took time out of his busy schedule designing fall's new fashion trends and inventing the microwave oven to order an attack on a South Korean ship. Where are all of these gargantuan country-ravaging creatures like Pulgasari when you need them.

Why would Kim Jong Il want to rock the boat just when the glorious peoples of North Korea are reaping the just rewards that only centralized power can provide? As for me, I'm going to rush out and get one of those drab two piece suits that shows how the chairman is repelling imperialist fashion and exploitation and food.

Soaring rhetoric, ho hum

An excellent new article from Mark Steyn on Obama's inability to speak clearly regarding the death of Daniel Pearl.

Saturday 22 May 2010

New York Times, I know thee not!

Interesting piece in Saturday's New York times.

"With low growth, low birthrates and longer life expectancies, Europe can no longer afford its comfortable lifestyle, at least not without a period of austerity and significant changes."

It's well worth a read, not as much for the information that some of us have known about for quite a while now, but for the platform. My question is this then; why should we try our best to copy Europe's kamikaze economic policy?

You've come a long way, baby

Iranian music from the 70's. Believe it or not, the women there haven't always been reduced to the social status of cattle.

Thursday 20 May 2010

Glorious sovereign bankruptcy of the people

Perhaps one of the most interesting movements I have ever encountered is the French décroissance movement, otherwise known as the "ungrowth" anti-productive movement. It is a movement to not only reduce economic growth, but to actually turn back the clock and shrink previous growth to promote a healthier economy and society. (I promise I'm not making this up.) The centre-piece of this plan is obviously anti-globalization in nature and counts on a "voluntary simplicity" and "re-localization" of production. Economic growth, they argue, is ecologically destructive and responsible for both malnutrition in the third world and obesity in the developed world.

For the couple of years that I lived in France, I ran into quite a few adherents to the idea that economic growth was reckless and caused social problems that apparently never existed in pre-industrial societies. Thankfully, Europe has been saved from the menace of a growing economy by a quickly aging electorate intent on spending three or so odd decades of retirement living off the taxed incomes of children they neglected to have. Once again, Greece is leading the way in helping us to share in the glorious sovereign bankruptcy of the people. The birthplace of democracy has shown us the vivid picture of peace and serenity that comes with stalled economic growth. As true communist believers™, they now want to share that with the rest of us.

Update: The French have their wish. The Champs-Elysees has been reverted to farmland.

Police nab Ramadan gum chewer

Over at the Arab Times, we have two breaking news items. The first concerns a woman caught chewing gum at 5:30 am on the first day of Ramadan. She was duly booked. Will we ever seen an end to all of this Ramadan gum chewing?

The second story is about an Egyptian man and Sri Lankan woman who got nabbed in the act in a basement. At least they weren't chewing gum on Ramadan.

Wednesday 19 May 2010

The throbbing flaccidity of soft power

Over at Pajamas Media is an interesting article in which, without a sense of irony, V.P. Biden, dressed in a lavishly ornamental kimono he recently bought on ebay, stops felating Herman Van Rompoy long enough to say that Brussels has just as much claim to be the capital of the free world as Washington D.C. While quality Belgian beer has clouded my judgement on more than one occasion as well, I am still not inclined to let Biden off easy with this one. For the sake of context, these remarks were made in the democratically elected European Parliament. Together with the Consillium, the Parliament makes up the legislative branch of the European Union. Unfortunately, the Parliament does not have what is known in legal circles as legislative initiative. Legislative initiative is a power exercised solely by the appointed members of the EU Commission, the executive branch. That means that the powers to propose new legislation are centralized in a branch of government that is not now nor will it ever be subject to democratic approval. The elected Euro MP's have the right to amend and in some cases veto legislation, but they can never actually introduce a movement to actively write laws. Unfortunately in most cases, the legislative initiatives introduced by this decidedly antidemocratic process are able to override the sitting elected parliaments of member states. An appropriate comparison would be if UN president Ban Ki Moon was able to introduce legislation that could supercede and replace America's immigration laws or our ability to measure fruit by the pound.

I've been to Brussels a number of times, and I do have to admit, in many ways it is a fine city. It does not, however, have a legitimate claim as the capital of the free world due to a large democratic deficit that is an unfortunate feature of European Union decision making. I understand the meaning behind the somewhat trite phrase "You catch more flies with honey", but a policy of continual deference to other powers at our own expense has caught Obama next to nothing. What's next on Biden's agenda? Will he proclaim Athens the capital of fiscal sustainability or Teheran the capital of the rights of women? I understand that we are supposed to pay lip service to our European allies, but someone needs to explain to Biden that lip service involves pleasantries but no actual physical contact, despite the suggestive name. Of course we are talking about the same fountain of wisdom that wants to pull out his BP credit card to pay for petrol every time he meets an Indian, so maybe we should keep the bar as low as possible.

Biden's recent remarks cannot be considered a gaffe, since he spoke at quite some length about Europe's leadership in the world. The fact that this speech arrives in the same month that European naval gazing vis à vis the Eurozone's own sovereign debt crisis apparently required two lengthy phone calls from Barack Obama in order to finalize "le Tarp" was apparently not discussed. An unfortunate reality is that Europe has chosen the slow slide of state assisted suicide and cannot be relied on for much true leadership in the world. We may be able to beg a couple of vans full of 45 year old non-combat soldiers to man the espresso machines in Kandahar, but that is about it. While the United States has had to worry about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Brussels was busy churning out regulations governing the correct size and shape specifications for bananas. The central idea was always to be the soft power alternative to the Pax Americana that dominated in the 20th century. We invested in security, and instead of reciprocating, they took their kids out for shakes and happy meals through a massive redistribution scheme that was meant to ensure the economic stability at home to wield soft power to their advantage abroad. Even before Europe's vast flock of profligacy chickens recently came home to the Akropolis to roost, the EU found out that soft power was essentially just that: extremely soft. I guess you could say that flaccidity has hit the continent of geriatric teenagers in more ways than one.

As for Biden, it does lead me to the question of the week. Exactly how many years of yoga do you need before you can get your head so far up your own arse that you can count your own cavities?

King Khan and the Shrines "Welfare Bread" Live at Sonic Boom Records in ...

You dont have to pay your bills anymore now.
You just have to eat my welfare bread.
If I told you that your heart belongs to me now
would you hold your head up high in the air?

Tuesday 18 May 2010

Four Lions Official Clip - She's Got a Beard

Four Lions Trailer

21st century socialism looks vaguely familiar

Well it looks like 21st century socialism is providing the consistently predictable results it offered in the 20th century: equal access to destitution and misery payed for by someone else. Promising that Venezuela would lead a revolution, Chávez has made good on his promise in only one area. The struggling South American Bolivarianocracy is considered the world's most likely candidate for sovereign default. I guess they can say it loud and say it proud:

"Nosotros somos numero uno!"

As they are currently managing to struggle with daily power shortages while sitting on the world's largest oil reserves outside of the Middle East, and since hard currency and food staples are increasingly hard to come by, maybe they can ask Sean Penn for a bailout. He must have a few uncashed royalty cheques from Shanghai Surprise somewhere in the back of his yurt.

Sunday 16 May 2010

Hamas redecorating in Rafah

Elder of Ziyon: Hamas demolishes homes. Will the world notice? It's a shame that no Israelis were close enough to Rafah at the time to make it newsworthy.

Screwing the welfare pooch

Remember either of these? The Euro has just hit a four year low against the dollar. I guess that is what happens after screwing the welfare pooch for all she was worth. I love the smell of deep fried Schadenfreude in the morning.

Et tu, Zapatero?

It looks like the markets have given the Eurozone entitlementoholics a couple of well-deserved skid markets in their pantaloons. For the time being, it seems that even Zapatero's socialists have had a death bed conversion to some form of fiscal austerity, promising to cut government spending and follow up with increased taxes on the rich. (In Europe, the "rich" is usually anyone with a job.)

The question now is how far will Eurozone countries be willing to push such reforms before buckling at the first signs of "social unrest". (In Europe, social unrest usually means crippling strikes at best but could be low-grade street warfare. Imagine Saving Private Ryan with hoodies and molotov cocktails.) So far, the Greeks have made it a couple of weeks, but they had to give up the welfare hooch cold turkey. What the markets want to know now is just how much political will do these countries really have for their newfound belt tightening? The first round of the economic crisis produced enough "unrest" to force a change of government in a few state parliaments, and most investors are still keeping a close eye on the political situation in the affected European countries; and by affected countries, I mean all of them.

One thing that is clear is that last week's bailout gave the Eurozone about as much buzz as a couple cans of Miller Light. 24 hours after the initial bounce, investors had time to read the fine print and realize just how enormously risky the bailout package was. I remember having a conversation in 2005 with a couple of German friends in a quaint little French welfare whore of a town near the Belgian Border. On a terrace overlooking the charming craters of a slow-moving public works project, they both stated without even a hint of doubt that the Euro would soon replace the dollar as the world's primary reserve currency. To them, the idea wasn't even controversial. The Euro was to the EU what Tornado was to Zorro; the Europeans, having vanquished their mustache twizzling enemy and his army of nondescript henchmen, were preparing to ride off into the sunset with the film's voluptuous pre-Twiggy muse, Le Fin, roll credits. Somewhere, most of the main characters have since deviated from the screenplay until the current movie resembles one of the more surreal David Lynch productions. We'll see how this plays out.

Same bat time, same bat channel, same bat Faschismus

Although the International Worker's Day demonstrations didn't keep me up all night this year, the damage to certain areas of Hamburg and Berlin have steadily increased since I've lived in Germany. I currently live 15 minutes away from Hamburg's Schanzenviertel, widely known as the epicenter of leftist rioting in Germany's second city. In addition to increasingly violent demonstrations, the past year has seen a number of firebomb attacks on private vehicles; they started with so called "luxury vehicles" in posher parts of the city but have graduated to attacks on anything with four wheels. The two videos below show the destruction of a branch of the Deutsche Bank, both during the anti-capitalism "demo" and the aftermath. This Deutsche Bank has the misfortune of being located about 100 metres from the Rote Flora, a former theatre that has been occupied by squatters for the last 15 or so odd years. The centre is typically where anarchist and anti-capitalist groups gather and plan logistics for their various regular "outings."

Hamburg 1. Mai 2010 - Demonstranten zertrümmern Bank!

[1. Mai 2010] Deutsche Bank im Schulterblatt

Work is a four letter word

Conrad Black has an interesting article on the work habits of our European betters. Apparently, 30% of the population (that includes me) is carrying the other 70%. All in all, he provides quite a few reasons in drive-by fashion why the 21st century will not be the European century as many were predicting just a few short years ago. One of the most important distinctions he makes concerns civil servant positions "which is often not really productive work, or may be just disguised welfare, or at least workfare."

Read the article. And as far as being able to convince potential migrants of the benefits of supporting a nation of geriatric teenagers, good luck with that.

Saturday 15 May 2010

Music to my ears (of corn)

¡No Pasarán! has a nice rundown on a recent report listing some of the "development" projects that are funded by the EU's Common Agricultural Policy. While the distribution of the funds ranges from exceedingly fraudulent to baffling, one group in particular caught my eye. Apparently, Nearly €60,000 were earmarked for a Swedish accordion club. While I can think of at least 15 possible uses for an accordion, at least two of which do not break any of the Geneva Conventions, I'm not quite sure I can think of any agricultural or developmental use that would necessitate funding a single Swedish accordion enthusiast, let alone him and a Saab full of his closest friends. Perhaps it is somewhat fitting that the original name of the family of instruments that includes the accordion, as mentioned on wikipedia, "is actually harmonika, from the Greek harmonikos, meaning harmonic, musical." Well that explains it all. It's the Greeks again, sly little buggers. What is strange is that this seems to be a gross misuse of CAP funds which are supposed to primarily double the price of sugar in the EU and generally shelter French farmers from any competitive pressures they would otherwise face. Unless these Swedes plan on playing for France's army of CAP millionaires or until they can find a way to beat an accordion into a plough, they should consider giving at least some of the money back.

Friday 14 May 2010

Think globally, bomb locally

After the avalanche of new information following the arrest of the alleged Times Square toon-a-bomber, the release has apparently dwindled to a trickle. After some speculation about how Shahzad could have been radicalized by his housing default and other serious political punditry, the nation's front pages have once again been declared a terrorist free zone and we have been able to turn our thoughts to more pressing matters like determining whether Obama's latest pick for the SCOTUS is hot or not.

The only information coming out now has to do with my favourite "-istan", Pakistan. From what I can gather, an army of lone wolves with possibly some or a lot of ties to the Taliban, or maybe even none at all, were so seriously angry with Obama's individual mandate that they allegedly attempted to redecorate Times Square to look like Waziristan. (My second favourite "-istan", if you're keeping score.) Since authorities have tried to avoid the pink elephant in the room wearing a suicide belt and looking nervous, we can only guess that any subsequent trial will remain as close to the centre ring of the circus as possible. My suggestion? The trial should be a mixture of Survivor and Dancing With the Stars with text-in votes determining guilt. If it appears on prime time, we may even be lucky enough to get the attention of the people in charge of national security. We can always hope, at least.

For now, it looks like the weather report will be partly jihadi with a chance of scattered Sharia and no one in our government has an umbrella.


Over at JammieWearingFool is a news report that mentions how Hugo Chavez's Bolivarian Revolution™ is increasingly reaping the usual benefits of heavy handed state interference. While this may be shocking to el Presidente and his followers, his alternative vision for the Americas is neither alternative nor visionary. The socialist experiment has been tried before and has previously succeeded in reducing thriving economies into ruins that could not sustain those unfortunate enough to live under them. Food surpluses give way to famine, oil exporters face energy crises, and in the case of North Korea, growth is reversed to such an extent that the majority of the country now lives under pre-industrial conditions with all of the misery that entails.

I would like to nominate El Presidente for "Victim of the Invisible Hand" 2009 award. He needs to get in while the getting is good since Greece is off to a running start to wrap up this years prize in record time.

Thursday 13 May 2010

Eurocrats disconnected from reality

I'm not sure if the Euro's difficulties will stop anyone until the wheels fall off completely. It was just announced that Estonia's entrance into the Eurozone has been approved. Maybe no one in Brussels reads papers printed outside of Brussels, but at best, this seems to be a case of poor timing.

I had a colleague last year who was a wonderful guy, but politically, you could tell that he had spent too much time hanging around the hallowed halls of the EU's eurocratic elite. I remember when he jumped for joy at the announcement that Europe would have yet another President, a Belgian by the name of Herman van Rompoy. HVR is not the kind of person to get excited about; in fact, I'm pretty sure Herman van Rompoy is not very excited about being Herman van Rompoy. This may seem like a below the belt ad hominem attack, but I do have quantifiable proof.
1. He was the 49th Prime Minister of Belgium and was in office just short of one year.
2. He published a book of Haiku.
These two bits of information that are no doubt featured prominently in his CV point to a decidedly unsexy man who has all the appeal of a 3 hour long documentary on dust mites in Esperanto.

Funnily enough, if you type Herman van Rompoy into google, you get quite a few suggestions such as "666", "antichrist", and "New World Order." Wow. I had no idea that Haiku was so unpopular. Maybe this is just hate from diehard limerick aficionados. On that note, in an attempt to reach Brussels in a language they truly understand, here is a little Haiku on current events...


"Birthplace of the vote,
Ouzo, toga, huge bailout
Sovereign debtor"

No one expects the Spanish requisition

So Greece has been bailed out temporarily, more general strikes are planned by the 1/3rd of the population getting their news from an alternate universe, and now the EU is trying its best to contain other Eurozone sovereign debtors by pushing through spending cuts in a preemptive bid to stave off more speculation. In a short-lived flourish of "shock and awe" Keynsianism, the markets soared on the news of "le Tarp" but retracted significantly within the next 24 hours after investors and economists had a chance to read the fine print below the eye-watering sum of $1,000,000,000,000 give or take a penny.

Now, as Zapatero is forced to reign in the Spanish spending machine by outside actors, he is forced to eat his hat and go back on promises not to cut wages made just a few short weeks ago. But that has been one of the major stories of the past 2 years. Across the globe, elected leaders have just not been able to look past the next election to tell their electorate a sobering truth; we have spent way too much money. We have been led to believe that the government coffers behave like a Las Vegas fruit machine that comes up triple cherry every time; pull the handle, hold out your hands, and collect your prize. Ding, Ding, Ding. Everybody wins the jackpot and takes home free money. So, we've been lied to. Few of us expect anything bordering on honesty from our elected officials, so this probably shouldn't be front page news anytime soon.

This brings us to some of the most recent statements made regarding Spain whose unemployment stands at a little over 20% and may be the next to find access to the markets cut off. After refusing to even utter the word crisis until 1/5th of the Spanish found themselves out of work, Zapatero still insists that now is not the time to question his leadership because "Pessimism cannot create jobs." Neither can Tarp style stimulus packages but apparently they only watch MSNBC and can be forgiven. While constantly claiming that Greece would continue to draw money from the markets, the Eurocrats managed to lose all legitimacy in the eyes of investors; why then is everyone asserting that a Greek default is not possible, and Spain will not have liquidity turned off like Greece when both scenarios look increasingly likely. Germany's thumb twiddling could have ended the Euro, but even after it was obviously necessary to intervene, the Germans continued to dither. This casts suspicion on new proclamations saying that a Greek default is impossible. Spain's continued access to the markets is also far from certain and saying anything else looks highly suspect.

So, we get to watch the same movie again, this one set in the Iberian Peninsula. I guess it's true; No one in Brussels expects the Spanish requisition. I'm not sure exactly why.

Sunday 9 May 2010

Smooth Jazz of social statism

The whole sovereign debt fiasco reminds me quite a bit of Odysseus’ mishaps on the Island of the Lotus Eaters. If any of you remember your Greek literature, you will remember that when Odysseus and his men wash ashore, they are given lotus to eat. The unfortunate side effect, was that people would fall asleep. When they woke up, they would eat more and drift off for another spell. Long narcoleptic interludes briefly interrupted by a quick snack reminds me of watching Titanic in the cinema, but at least when I left, I was only short $6 and a Sunday afternoon.

Wikipedia describes the effect this way: “The lotus fruits and flowers were the primary food of the island and were narcotic and addictive, causing the people to sleep in peaceful apathy.” This pretty much sums up the effects of the welfare state. You wake up, look around and discover that your country has distributed a few billion more than they collected, but hey; penny pinching doesn't energize the electorate quite like free handouts. Just when you start to worry about public debt, which is your debt after all, government representatives come by to tell you about a fantastic programme where you can sell them your old useless car for $4,500, well above market value, to purchase a newer, state approved vehicle. This isn’t very different from the “narcotic and addictive” lotus fruit that made Odysseus “sleep in peaceful apathy.” It is the smooth jazz of social statism.

Any good kosher recipes?

All this talk of the Greek gravy train has made me hungry. Anybody have any good kosher recipes they would like to share?

Greece; where the beer is free and the markets are not

The EU has cobbled together an agreement based on article 122 of the recently enacted Lisbon Treaty that allows bailouts to EU member states in the event of a natural disaster.

This is an interesting concept, and though I would agree that Greece's statist Euro-binge is certainly a disaster of epic proportions, it is far from natural. For some reason, I can't get the image of Clark Griswold in National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation out of my head as he bet and lost his family's life savings at the blackjack table and resorted to borrowing money from his ne'er-do-well cousin to gamble his way back to wealth with predictable results.

The new EU mechanism is meant to reign in market forces that drove up the spread on Greek bonds to unmanageable levels after several months of eurocratic foot dragging. Additionally, the Eurocratic elite has waged a fierce war of words against rating agencies like S & P for downgrading the status of Greek bonds to junk. I guess these nefarious doers of evil must have forgotten that their job was to help prop up bloated welfare states and not to give investors a picture of the risk involved. We'll certainly see how the markets will react when they open today, but here is my best guess. If we could somehow see Adam Smith's "invisible hand", I'm pretty sure it would be giving the EU the finger.

Revenge of the Angry Ants

Germany's election results are in, and as expected, have probably taken away Mrs. Merkel's parliamentary majority in the upper house. This vote is due to a backlash from Otto Average over bailing out the profligate Greeks and the possibility that a couple of other southern neighbours may be arriving soon, hat in hand. Call this the revenge of the angry ants.

The Germans have a right to be angry at their fiddle-all-summer grasshopper partners in the Eurozone, but it also unfortunately crimps the desire for sorely needed reforms here at home. Perhaps one of the least talked about aspects of the Greek crisis is that the normally smug Germans have been basking in the glory of their own export-centred labour market, which is certainly more competitive than that of the Greek's, but this has unfortunately reinforced the misconceived notion here that Germany is the model to follow. In between downing three hot, steaming bowls of Schadenfreude daily for the last half year, they have somehow missed the big picture; a huge imbalance of competitive strength exists within the EU, but the Greeks are not running the same race that Germans are. In the global picture, the German reluctance to change one iota of their vaunted "Social Market System" ™ will continue to weaken the system until Greek conditions arrive between the Rhine and the Oder without the necessity of a Trojan horse.

Though it would be an impossible list, here are a few areas in dire need of a makeover.
1. While Gerhard Schröder should be credited with making some half-hearted attempts at reforming a system where a very large percentage of workers were allowed to be professionally employed, little was done to change the heavily controlled labour market that causes such un- and underemployment. Germany, as if stuck in some version of groundhog day where they wake up in the middle of the Wirtschaftswunder, continues to train workers for the economy of yesteryear. As economies mature, it is unavoidable that some jobs are lost and others are added in new areas. This is natural and necessary for growth. Exactly how many telegraph operators or typewriter repairmen have you run into lately? My guess would be not many. The German economy is a one trick pony. Germans have obsessively focused on heavy industry and growing a world-class export engine, but they have fallen far behind in other fields. Israel, a country with a population 13 times smaller than that of Germany, has carved out a niche for itself in the global IT market while Germany hasn't really made a dent. By refusing to diversify away from the heavy industry that lifted Germany in the 1950's, many smaller and developing countries are currently far ahead with regards to IT services. As a result, the service industry is in no position to compete globally.

In order to maintain this focus on manufacturing, services, which have been historically reviled in Germany as non-work, are heavily regulated. Setting up and running a small advertising agency for example involves a mountain of paperwork, a significant amount of capital, and the patience to visit every bureaucrat in the city for a stamp. The barriers to market entry are high enough to dissuade many would be entrepreneurs from setting out on their own, and if successful, adding jobs to the economy. I won't divulge too many details of the process, but let's just say I still don't have everything I need, and I am already unable to sit for long periods of time.

Which is related to number 2. Taxes. Roughly half of all tax books on the planet are in the German language. There is not much more to say about that.

3. Movement between jobs in Germany can be nearly impossible due to the rigid, arbitrary restrictions placed on many industries. While German students are often forced to study abroad due to a lack of space in homegrown institutions, people here must train for a very specific job and often do not have recourse to change career paths. Amongst the wonderful careers that you can receive a degree for in Germany are bakery assistant, deli worker, or cashier operator at a supermarket. These degrees take 2 to 3 years and require quite a bit of sacrifice since the "trainee" may only receive 500 Euros a month, which is hardly enough to live on. If you train as a deli worker for example, and you "graduate" with your "diploma" after 30 months, you will not be qualified to work the cash register in the same supermarket. If you manage to move up to stocking shelves, you may be considered "untrained labour" and will receive a lower salary than someone with the correct "training." This means that there is very little labour market flexibility and often no ability to work as a waiter if you lose your job at the supermarket; remember, waiters need a German degree in waiting as well. Any person in their right mind could see that this leads to high unemployment for workers with fewer qualifications, many of which are forced into early retirement in their 40's because they are too old to retrain and the places where they can practice the job they trained for may have decreased. So, it's off the official unemployment statistics and onto the gravy train for you!

I think this is enough information for one sitting, and I certainly don't want to put off any readers with indigestion, so I'll end there.

This was Sparta

This isn't necessarily a rhetorical question: If stupid threw a party, how many people would come? Thankfully, we can answer this scientifically. In a new WSJ article, 33.2% of Greeks do not accept the IMF-EU designed austerity plan in exchange for loans needed to avoid a debt default this week. If you are looking for some positive spin somewhere in this, a mere 21% stated that strikes should not be kept at a rational level i.e. that people should use violence as a weapon to force the state to let them all back on the gravy train. A day after a firebomb killed four people in a bank, three employees and an unborn baby, only a fifth of Greek citizens were able to support non-rational protests, meaning more violence in an effort to avoid the obvious. I guess every cloud does have a silver lining.

While the survey does indicate that a majority of Greeks are willing to swallow a few years of bitter medicine, there is also a significant portion of the population who apparently don't understand what happens when a country runs out of money. Quite simply put, when your "outgo" exceeds your "income" habitually, eventually you will reach a point when no one will be willing to loan you money that they think they might not recoup. Call this the subprime sovereign debt crisis; the Greeks over-mortgaged their country and now they are further underwater than Atlantis. While the option of allowing the bailiff to come and repossess the Akropolis and a couple cases of Ouzo might sound tempting, what exactly are German and French banks who are on the hook for roughly 110,000,000,000 Euros of Greek debt going to do with it? Relocate it to Euro-Disney? Throw a toga party? Sell it to Andorra?

While I am usually not inclined to make predictions, this crisis was about as difficult to foresee as a very tragic ending in a very Greek tragedy. When the Greeks joined the Eurozone, they were no longer able to devalue their currency or to inflate their way out of debt as they had in the past. They were also granted the ability to borrow far more money to feed their spending habits. For an addict to suddenly inherit a lump sum of cash is incredibly dangerous and usually self-destructive. Instead of checking themselves into the wing of the Betty Ford Clinic designed for profligate entitlement-oholics, they went on a raging binge. This is the hangover. Instead of spending the morning after avoiding sunlight and promising the pantheon of deities that they'll never do it again, the instincts of a frighteningly large minority of the people are to turn their booze stained shirt inside-out, splash some cologne on to cover last night's excesses, and to keep the party going.

So, if stupid threw a party, how many people would come? In Greece, about 1/3rd.

Saturday 8 May 2010

Welcome to We Are Government

Welcome to We Are Government; If anyone knows the correct Greek translation of "The wheels have fallen off the gravy train", someone please let me know.