Merkel, Schaeuble and the Beginning of the End of a United Europe

Posted July 14, 2015 on 8:38 am | In the category Economy, Europe, Germany, Greece, Merkel | by Jeff

So, the Eurozone and the Greeks have dodged a bullet…or have they? and should they have? Below is a slightly edited exchange between an American former expat retiree and his friend who has lived in Europe for over twenty years. The former (A) lived in Munich and Prague for ten years; the latter (B) an American lawyer/businessman who has lived and worked in Europe for over twenty years.

A: What are your thoughts on Merkel and her Finance Monster – ur – Minister?

B: Repulsion. Same as for Greek governments of all denominations. Lying #### the lot of them. . Plague on German Volk and Greek governments. Tyrants and enslavers. There are no tyrants but that there are slaves. Politicians (particularly Greek ones) are slaves to the indulgence of their own power and so sell their people into slavery to keep their personal indulgence. And Hollande, …. He is a nothing. He was fighting Merkel just so as to keep France punching far above its weight for another few years.

In my opinion Greece should vote itself out of the Euro and the currency would soar (to my benefit admittedly). That not good for Angela. Good for Greek people who could get on with their lazy ways and devalue their currency whenever it was convenient for them. Good for principles. Good precedent for Portuguese, Spanish and probably Irish people. Bad for their incumbent governments.

If the people do not want an EU then there should not be one. If they want one they should have fiscal and political union and give up nation states except during the World Cup. That is the point my favorite economist misses. Wolfgang Munchau (Financial Times) is usually better but I think he has never known a non=integrated Europe and often forgets that indeed it is a utility for the benefit of people. Mostly of little people. :

A: Most of what I have read leading up to last night’s “negotiations” started with the premise that the Euro without political unity of some sort was doomed to struggle if not fail. Pickety, Stiglitz and Krugman, and many other professional economists have suggested that the best answer for Greece is to leave the Eurozone and work out their troubles with a new Drachma. In fact as Munchau says, it might be good also for other countries. (i.e. Ireland, Portugal, Spain) I have felt that Germany had simply found a new way to dominate the rest of Europe for its own parochial benefit, this time in a less obviously malign way. And sure, the Greeks have been led by crooks for years and many Greeks don’t work as hard as they might….and of course not as hard as the Germans claim to work. But austerity is a self indulgent exercise designed by Schaeuble, implemented by Merkel for the self interest of Germany, and the rest of Europe ends up participating in their own damage. As for the Greeks sleeping in the street waiting for the ATM s to,open and picking through garbage, they are simply collateral damage.

It is especially galling for me to see Merkelmania produce a heroine out of a local politician playing to her Calvinist voters while humiliating a fellow European country and forcing that country to accept absurd, counter-productive austerity programs designed to impoverish itself so it can accept so-called bail out money, which they then give to German banks. Ergo, a perfect ploy by the Germans, who then applaud themselves for their moral stance. This is not going to end well.

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Baltimore the beautiful city

Posted July 8, 2015 on 3:09 pm | In the category Human Rights, Racism, U.S. Domestic Policy | by Mackenzie Brothers

Has anyone ever produced more nostalgically beautiful music about the United States than the ultra-Canadian McGarrigle Sisters and their talented offspring Rufus and Martha Wainwright, especially in their communal album “The McGarrigle Hour”?  If you don’t know what we mean, get yourself a copy of this splendid  cd, listen to cut 17, “Talk to me of Mendocino”, the almost heartbreaking  love song written by Anna McGarrigle to a California that will soon no longer exist, and  move on  to cut number 18, “Baltimore the Beautiful City”, listed as a traditional song that they sang as buskers in US cities.This song was of course not written about the fires that ravaged Baltimore, the northernmost of southern cities, in the spring, but it captures the essence of the emotional drain that followed in its wake and no doubt found resonance in the nightmare that followed in Charleston, South Carolina.

Strong Men in anguish prayed

calling out to the heavens for rain

while the fire in ruins laid

Baltimore their beautiful city.

Between March 23rd and June 30, 2015 there were 100 homicides in Baltimore.  The excellent and historic Baltimore newspaper, the Baltimore Sun, recently published the basic facts about these 100 homicides: name of victim, place of residence, age, gender and race.    Three of the victims were white, one Asian, and 7 female, all the rest were black males. and almost all of them were under 35.  No doubt each one of these cases has a backstory worth hearing, but one thing is very clear:  It is dangerous to be a young black man in Baltimore, and there is every reason to feel that you have very few prospects of an improved life through hard work or better education if you were born into this syndrome.  There are of course exceptions, but such exceptions tend to move out into the safer areas of town or out of town, which is also where the white population has been drifting for years.  The city centre is simply too dangerous and if you can afford to leave it, you do leave.  There is no information given on this list about the perpetrators of the homicides, but it is certainly not the case that the police force, which has  been too easily identified as the cause rather than the solution of Baltimore’s racial problems, (by most estimates about half of the police officers in Baltimore are black)  was involved with  many, or even any, of these homicides.  Any serious improvement in this situation can only occur when the basic problem of  an understandable feeling of hopelessness in young black males is met by a willingness in the population as a whole to deal with the underlying problems for it.  Baltimore, the beautiful city, still has some of that southern grace at its northernmost outpost, but also much of  an understood racial division that too often is a destructive part of it.  The solution has to start in finding a way out of  this social structure.

 

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