Tag Archives: The Independent

ALCOHOL, EUROPE AND THE ECONOMY

Hollande and Iranian Pres

The British and French governments seem to belatedly be realizing the threat from Islamization.

When the French president Francois Hollande entertained the visiting Iranian president last week, an official luncheon had been arranged to welcome the visitor and his entourage.  But then the Iranians objected to wine being served at the meal.  London or Washington would have simply switched to non-alcoholic grape juice, but not the French.  The very idea of a meal without wine was unthinkable, so they promptly cancelled the lunch.

Good for them!

Across the English Channel, the Palace of Westminster, home to the Houses of Parliament, is in need of some urgent repair.  While the building is being renovated, parliament will meet in another hall. This hall is owned by a group with Islamic connections and will not allow alcohol in the building.   Parliamentarians are used to having ten bars to choose from in their own hall.  They will now have no alcohol for a few months!

Perhaps a dry spell might help them focus better on the threat from growing Islamic influence.

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Meanwhile, consumption of alcohol must be up across America as people follow (or don’t follow) the US presidential election.   It’s a means of escape.

Our bank manager dismisses all the candidates as being “useless.”   His point is that not one of them offers a solution to the problem of the $19 trillion national debt – which, of course, threatens the very existence of the country.

It’s a world record.  Never before in history has any country owed so much.   It cannot go on.

We are in unchartered territory, as no nation has ever been in this great a fiscal mess.

Since I wrote this segment, plans have been revealed for $4.1 trillion more to be spent, in a record budget by the Obama Administration. This will include a major allocation for cyber-security, seen as the single biggest threat to the United States.

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I’m writing this on Tuesday afternoon while watching “Dumbo,” the Disney classic about a flying elephant.

I should add that Diane and I are watching two of our grandchildren. This is their favorite movie.  They are both three years old.

When I finish, I could switch over to one of the news channels and see the latest from New Hampshire, where primaries are being held today.

But I think I will stick with escapism.

The grandchildren will be asking for “Little Einsteins” next.

It’s going to take an Einstein to make even a dent in the problems that confront us.

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We watched “The Big Short” on Saturday night.  The movie is a factual account of how the housing bubble burst a few years ago.   It’s engrossing on one level, unbelievable really.  However, I should warn you, it contains a great deal of bad language.

Sunday we were able to watch “Murder of a President,” a 2-hour PBS “American Experience” documentary, about the assassination of President John Garfield in 1881.  His assassin was, at least, delusional and may have been paranoid schizophrenic.  But it wasn’t the assassination as such that killed the president.  It was mistakes by his doctors and one doctor in particular.   Medical science has certainly come a long way since Garfield’s death.  Back then, they did not even know the importance of cleanliness!

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It turns out that $750 million in Obamacare subsidies went to illegal aliens last year.  That partly explains why the IRS has just presented me with a $6,500 tax bill, mostly for Obamacare.   I’m still reeling from the shock and may require medical care, but can’t afford it thanks to the bill for Obamacare!

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That’s not to say it’s better elsewhere.

The former Greek finance minister today warned that Europe is going through a depression.   Yanis Varoufakis warns in The Independent that Europe is sliding back into the 1930’s and a new political movement is needed.    He is launching the “Democracy in Europe Movement 2025” (DiEM25 for short).   He says that Europe is run by a cartel, not by its people, even though European countries are all democracies.

The self-described “erratic Marxist” says he wants to remove power from an unaccountable, authoritarian elite and distribute it fairly to the continent’s citizens.” (The Independent).

Americans will recognize this as similar to the arguments made by people like Bernie Sanders.  They have a point when they say that 1% owns 99% of all wealth.  From what Mr. Varoufakis is saying it’s no different in Europe.

It’s clearly time for a new economic system as the current one is increasingly failing people.  As things are predicted to deteriorate this year, calls for change are only going to increase.

Citizens of the US and UK should be thankful.   Mr. Varoufakis holds them up as a model of financial success compared to other western nations.

I’m not so sure about that.  We may be better off than most, but we certainly can’t be complacent.

Unfortunately, both Mr. Varoufakis and the prime minister he served under, Alexis Tsipras, are avowed atheists, influenced more by Karl Marx than anything in scripture.  But they should take a look at Leviticus, chapter 25, and specifically at the Year of Jubilee.  Only the cancellation of all debt will help revive the world economy.

Hopefully, all debts will be cancelled before I have to pay the IRS!

Back to “Dumbo” and some sanity……..   Maybe I should also have a beer, but it doesn’t seem right while watching “Dumbo.”  Come to think of it, Dumbo drank alcohol when he fell into a barrel of it – that’s why he saw all those pink elephants!  A beer it is!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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UK TV ELECTION DEBATE

British election candidates

In case you haven’t noticed, the United Kingdom is in the middle of a general election campaign.   The election itself takes place on May 7th, which does not leave much time for campaigning.

On Thursday, the seven leaders of the seven major parties held a televised debate on national television.   The debate was two hours long.   I watched it on “BBC World News” where it was shown live. There was only one brief commercial break in the middle.

The parties clearly divide into right and left.   The three parties that are supportive of austerity are the ruling Conservatives led by David Cameron, the Liberal Democrats led by Nick Clegg, and UKIP (the United Kingdom Independence Party) whose leader is Nigel Farage.   The Liberals are more in the center, but when it comes to spending, they believe in a balanced budget.

The ruling coalition since the last election in 2010 imposed austerity measures on the country, but has found it difficult not to overspend.

The other four parties represented are all to the left of the political spectrum.   All leaders were in favor of more spending on this or that and seemed to have no concept that all government spending is dependent on the success of the private sector, which they are inclined to want to clobber with more and more punitive taxes.   A favorite in the debate was a “mansion tax” on homes worth over two million British pounds ($3 million).   They do not realize that wealthy people have the option of moving to other EU member countries and can take their money with them.   They would also enjoy a better climate!

The four leftist parties are the Labour Party, led by Ed Miliband. To his left are Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP), Leanne Wood, leader of Plaid Cymru (the Party of Wales) and Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party.   All four kept demanding more money for their pet projects.   Apart from the suggestion of a tax on mansions, the three ladies also insisted on defense cuts, notably that Britain not modernize Trident, its nuclear weapons system.

No commentator pointed out that the ladies’ demands would cost the English taxpayer more money.   Already, the English bankroll the Scots and the Welsh – and, together with Germany, the EU.   As Mr. Farage pointed out, the subsidy to the EU amounts to ten billion pounds per day ($15 bn).

This is one reason why Nigel Farage wants Britain to pull out of the EU.   He constantly focused on this one issue when answering questions.   The EU does not allow Britain to govern itself.   On immigration, for example, a major issue in the UK, London cannot do anything because of treaty obligations with the rest of Europe, which allow for the free movement of people.   The Germans are insistent that this remains the case, even though it costs the UK tax-payer a great deal of money.   Immigrants from the rest of the EU can claim British welfare benefits upon arrival in the country and can use the free health service.   They can even claim family allowances (a weekly child benefit) for children they left behind.

When Mr. Farage pointed out that last year 7,000 people were diagnosed as HIV positive and that 60% of these are foreigners, he added that each one will cost the taxpayer 25,000 pounds a year ($37,500).   Nicola Sturgeon came right back accusing him of being “heartless,” saying that his comment was “shameful.”   For this she received loud applause.   Yet the liberal “Independent” newspaper reveals in a poll that half the British people support him on this issue.

Ms. Sturgeon seems adept at spending other peoples’ money.   She reminded me of Margaret Thatcher’s famous dictum:  “The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other peoples’ money.”   If any of these three ladies has a major role in the next coalition government, the country could follow Greece toward financial ruin.

Polls after the debate said that Nicola Sturgeon did best.   If her party wins a lot of parliamentary seats in Scotland, they could enter a coalition with Labour and spend to their heart’s content – or, at least, until they run out of other people’s money!

It’s difficult to imagine a right of center coalition that includes the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and UKIP.   It may happen.   But if David Cameron needs UKIP to get the 318 seats necessary to form a government, he will have to give Nigel Farage what he wants, which is a referendum on EU membership by the end of the year.

Everything is up for grabs – anything could happen at this point in time.   But the most likely outcome will be a return of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, which has ruled the country for the last five years.   Noticeable during the debate is that the two leaders of these parties did not seriously attack each other, allowing for a continued marriage of convenience after the election.

With this election, it can truly be said that Britain is at a crossroads.   Everything achieved over the last few years of austerity could easily be lost, throwing the economy into a downward spiral; relations with Europe are also at stake at a time when the continental nations that comprise the EU are drawing closer together, with Germany very much in the driving seat.