Tag Archives: Yanis Varoufakis

I LOVE PARIS IN THE SPRING TIME

The second round of the French presidential election takes place on Sunday.   Polls (!) show that the centrist candidate, Emmanuel Macron, is leading with 62% of the vote.   Madame Marine LePen, of the National Front, is not doing so well.   Reports say that she is already looking to what is often called “the third round of the presidential election,” voting for the Legislative Assembly, in June.   She has the potential to lead the opposition to Macron, who has no party support.   A future crisis (financial or terrorism), could lead to a major upheaval that would be to her benefit.

Mrs. LePen’s support comes mainly from rural areas and France’s rust-belt; Mr. Macron has all but 5% of the vote in Paris and the more affluent regions of the country.

The French political system, with three elections in just a few weeks, is rather complicated and, certainly this time, quite suspenseful.   For the first time since the birth of the Fifth Republic in 1958, the major parties are not involved in this second round – their candidates did not garner the necessary support.

It’s not just the political system that is different in France. Mr. Macron, married to his former school-teacher, 25 years older than himself, laughed off an accusation that he has had a gay relationship with a prominent radio personality; but now is issuing frequent denials about an overseas bank account!

In a heated televised debate on Wednesday evening, Madame LePen made the best prediction of the evening.   She said that seven days from now, France will have a female leader – either her or Angela Merkel, Germany’s Chancellor.   Mr. Macron is a committed European, whereas she would like the French people to have a Brexit style referendum on the country’s future membership. Under pressure,   M. Macron is talking about the need for Europe wide reforms, but he would keep France in both the EU and the single currency, the euro.

A victory for Emmanuel Macron would mean the 27 remaining members of the EU will stand together against the United Kingdom in the Brexit negotiations.   A win for Mrs. LePen would actually help London, though no politician in the UK is going to say anything to that effect!

So Sunday’s second round is not just about France, but Europe.   We should know the outcome sometime Sunday evening, Eastern time.

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MORE MIGRANTS COMING

  • Turkey appears determined to flood Europe with migrants either way:  with Europe’s permission by means of visa-free travel, or without Europe’s permission, as retribution for failing to provide visa-free travel.
  • The migrants arriving in Italy are overwhelmingly economic migrants seeking a better life in Europe.   Only a very small number appear to be legitimate asylum seekers or refugees fleeing war zones.
  • The director of the UN office in Geneva, Michael Møller, has warned that Europe must prepare for the arrival of millions more migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.   (Gatestone Institute, 5/5/17).

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DIVORCE EUROPEAN STYLE

Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek finance minister who negotiated with the EU during the financial crisis a few years ago, is warning the United Kingdom NOT to negotiate with the bureaucratic nightmare known as the European Union.   In effect, Mr. Varoufakis was saying that nobody wins against the undemocratic EU.

Wolfgang Munchau, a German contributor to the London-based Financial Times, is also warning the Brits that they cannot win against Brussels.

The alternative for the UK is simply to leave and face the consequences, what is called a “hard Brexit.”   There are plenty of other countries wanting trade agreements with the UK, so there’s definitely a case for this.   But the British government is hoping for a trade deal with the EU post-Brexit.   They have also re-committed themselves to closer military ties, reaffirming their commitment to Europe.

A hard Brexit could be a better choice.   It would certainly be quicker as Brexit talks will last two years – and that time frame only covers the actual exit, not talks on a new trade pact.

It’s like a divorce – after over 40 years together, the UK and the EU are now talking to divorce lawyers about a divorce settlement.   As with a divorce, the only people who will benefit are the lawyers.   And, as any divorced people know, divorce never ends – the animosity (and the financial costs) just go on and on.

Footnote:   Mr. Varoufakis, who cannot vote in France, has called on people to support M. Macron, in spite of the way he and his country were treated by the EU!

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PRINCE PHILIP TO RETIRE AT 96

Britain’s Prince Philip is retiring after seventy years of public service.   His wife, Queen Elizabeth II, will continue with royal duties, but will no longer be accompanied by her husband.

Shortly after the announcement, the prince was at a function when an older man came up to him and expressed his sorrow that the prince was “standing down” from his responsibilities; the prince consort quipped back that his problem was not standing down, but rather standing up!

In his seventy years of public service, Prince Philip has attended over 25,000 public engagements and made over 600 overseas trips representing the United Kingdom.

He will end his official duties in August, by which time he will be 96 but will still take on a few as he feels up to it.. The Queen turned 91 two weeks ago. It is expected that Princes Charles, William and Harry will take on some of Philip’s commitments.

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INTERESTING QUOTE

( I cannot independently verify the following, but thought that some readers would find it interesting. It’s from a magazine called “Truth in History,” which comes out of Oklahoma.)

“…Bob travels to London quite often on business and from time to time has dinner with a very close friend of his, which is Queen Elizabeth’s personal secretary.   Bob told me that he asked his friend when the Queen was going to turn the throne over to Charles.   He replied, “she does not intend to ever give the scepter to Charles – possibly to William, but her desire is to present her crown, throne and scepter to the Lord Jesus Christ when He returns, whose rightful throne it is. This is her desire.”

Anyone who has read “The Servant Queen and the King She Serves,” published a little over a year ago, will know that the queen is a very religious woman.

“This tribute focuses on the Queen’s own words to draw out the central role of her trust in Jesus Christ in shaping her life and work, offering us an inspiring multi-faceted insight into a life well lived for others.” (Backcover, Google Books)

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DEATH OF OBAMACARE

I have mixed thoughts about the vote yesterday to abolish Obamacare.   The ACA went into effect on April 1st, 2014.   Before you marvel at my memory, I should add that I ended up in the hospital on April 2nd and spent over four months fighting for my life. I had one of those deadly infections that’s killing people all over the world.   I needed two major back surgeries and then fought nausea and vomiting while working my way through all the medications.   They gave up on me twice.

During this time period I was in two different hospitals. The bill from the second one was a million dollars; from the first, it was roughly half that.

Obamacare covered almost all my bills.

If it had not been in place, I would have died.   If I had gotten sick a month earlier, before it came into effect, I would have, likewise, died.

Having said that, I’ve also seen the negative side of Obamacare, of people having to spend a significant part of their income to get coverage, of a bureaucracy that has often failed beneficiaries, of a system that is too expensive to be maintained.

I do believe that the Republicans have made a mistake – they should have come up with another system first, before abolishing what the country already had.

I’ve been in the United States for 27 years, since 1990.   Health care (and how to pay for it) has been at the center of American politics during that time.   Whereas other, less affluent countries, have been able to put a workable system in place in months, the richest country in the world still cannot find a solution to the problem of healthcare.

Apparently, President Trump, who is in New York to meet with Australia’s Prime Minister Turnbull, made a favorable comment to the visiting prime minister about their country’s healthcare system. It’s a single payer system, so the president’s comment is of particular interest.

A possible solution lies in each state working out it’s own system,

But it’s embarrassing that, after decades of talking about it, Washington still has not come up with a sustainable medical system.   Perhaps America could start by looking at the medical systems in Australia, the UK and Canada, our next-door neighbor.   France, too, which the WHO claims has the best system in the world. You would think that one of our TV news programs would take a look at one or two of these other countries.

I might add that if a Conservative government in the UK, the closest equivalent to a Republican administration, abolished the medical system, they would not make it back into power for decades.   The same goes for the French, Canadian and Australian conservatives.

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FAVORITE SCRIPTURE

John Wycliffe (1320-84) was a major figure in what became the Protestant Reformation.

“John Wycliffe was an English scholastic philosopher, theologian, Biblical translator, reformer, and seminary professor at Oxford.   He was an influential dissident within the Roman Catholic priesthood during the 14th century.”  (Wikipedia)

His favorite scripture was Philippians 2:12 – “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”   This was heresy to the Roman Church, which dominated the country at the time. Later, the Church had Wycliffe condemned as a “heretic.”   It didn’t bother him – he was already dead and buried. But his bones were exhumed and burnt.

He did not just influence religion.   He also had a profound political effect.   Not long after the birth of the modern parliament in 1265, Wycliffe encouraged people to think for themselves, thereby encouraging democracy, an idea the church did not like at all.

The freedom to think for ourselves is seriously threatened today by universities that won’t allow conservative speakers to address students, citing security concerns.   This is unlikely to be a temporary phenomenon.

Sadly, few remember Wycliffe today.   When I visited Lincoln Cathedral in England some years ago, I asked after the man who served there for some years in the 14th century.   A senior member of the cathedral’s clergy had never heard of him!   I did find a very thin book on him in the bookstore, which I bought.

John Wycliffe (pronounced WICKCliff) is one of the greatest men in our common history, who made a big difference both religiously and politically.

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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!