Monday, January 30, 2012

Quick Hits - January 30, 2012

Germany is now openly backing a plan for the European Union to seize Greece's sovereignty if Greece cannot take acceptable steps to address it's fiscal crisis.  The plan would have the Finance Ministers of the European Union appoint a 'Commissioner' to have full control and authority over the tax and spending policies of the Greek Government.  Or, if I may rephrase that, a Commissioner that would have direct authority over Greece's fiscal decision making - ignoring the wishes of the Greek Government.

This is as EU leaders meet in Brussels to discuss the growing concerns that Greece will be able to implement the austerity measures - combinations of higher taxes and reduced spending - that the EU are demanding as a condition of a new package of financial support.  The Greek Prime Minister, Lucas Papademos, has said that Greece will default on €15 billion of loans due in March without a new bailout plan.

I am frankly quite surprised by how little outrage outside of Greece and some conservatives in Europe is being generated on the fact that government bureaucrats believe they can usurp the governance authority of Greece (or any other EU nation on the verge of default) because that nation's government is unable or unwilling to follow the directives of the European Union.  In the UK, Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, is one of those who is speaking out against this attack on democracy..
“If you fiddle around with democracy because you don’t like quite what it does, then you open the door to those who say, 'Why democracy at all?’ ” he said.
Given the circumstances in  Europe, we can apply this same quote to capitalism - which appears to the be the point of the progressive leftists there as well as here are arguing by their actions and policies- 'Why capitalism at all?'

Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper notes in today's edition that while the focus is on Greece's debt crisis, Portugal's crisis is growing uglier daily...
Lisbon, of course, is responding, by ramping up its austerity measures. A one-off surcharge on personal incomes taxes was introduced and the value-added tax (VAT) base is being expanded. You can see where this is going. In every case in Europe, piling austerity on austerity has pushed down growth, requiring -- you guessed it -- more austerity, in a never-ending, downward vicious circle. Portugal’s best hope is that liberalizing the labour market to improve the country’s chronically lousy productivity, and cleaning up the state-owned companies, will trigger a sustained growth spurt. But that could take years, maybe a decade, a luxury Portugal does not have.
Speaking of austerity measures, in a major nationally televised speech, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced France will be implementing a 1.6% point increase in France's Value Added Tax (VAT) bringing it to 21.2% as part of his new measures intended to boost France's struggling economy. Sarkozy terms this a 'social tax' - but will not implement the increase until October 1.  In addition, he proposes to reduce the payroll tax paid by employers in an effort to make them more competitive in the marketplace and boost jobs.  (Sound familiar?  How has the Social Security Payroll Tax Reduction by President Obama done on the job / economic boost front?  Read more on this later...)

One of the biggest reasons for the economic challenges in Europe is that their economies are not growing.  Last year, Greece's GDP declined by at least 6%.  Compared to that, the anemic US GDP growth of 1.7% looks good. 

The World Bank has issued a scathing report as to why Europe's economy is not growing and affixes blame on the demographic strains the region faces combined with bloated governments and destructive government policies.  The report, surprisingly given the source, a complete condemnation of Euro-style socialism, "state capitalism", and the concepts of 'fairness' and 'social justice' as advocated by President Obama here in the US.
"From North Americans," the authors write, "Europe could learn that economic liberty and social security have to be balanced with care: nations that sacrifice too much economic freedom for social security can end up with neither, impairing both enterprise and government."

Messrs. Gill and Raiser call Europe a "lifestyle superpower": It attracts tourists in droves, and its residents enjoy peace and a high standard of living. But it's not getting richer. Unless it again puts income growth ahead of income security and redistribution, the Continent will continue to decline as an economic power.

When governments decide that they can and will interfere with the balance between economic liberty and social security / social justice - they alter the equation to the point where, as noted, one ends up with no balance and a dysfunctional economy.  Governments need to do less rather than more - setting up only those regulations and rules that are needed to permit economic liberty to foster.  The role of government is not to ensure results or fairness - but to ensure the equality of opportunity and protect that opportunity.  That is also all government needs to be funded to do.  Any other funding is the removal of capital from the economy to be used in a far less efficient and effective manner - damaging the economy.

Walter Russell Mead notes this in this piece titled 'The Once and Future Liberalism'...
“The blue model is breaking down so fast and so far that not even its supporters can ignore the disintegration and disaster it now presages. Liberal Democrats in states like Rhode Island and cities like Chicago are cutting pensions and benefits and laying off workers out of financial necessity rather than ideological zeal. The blue model can no longer pay its bills, and not even its friends can keep it alive. Our real choice, however, is not between blue or pre-blue. We can’t get back to the 1890s or 1920s any more than we can go back to the 1950s and 1960s. We may not yet be able to imagine what a post-blue future looks like, but that is what we will have to build. . . . There are a lot of reasons to be nostalgic for the old days (especially for the white males who were, far and away, the biggest beneficiaries of the old system), but there are also good reasons to bid the blue model good riddance.”
Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. 

The number of protesters / thugs arrested during the OccupyOakland riots on Saturday now number over 400 protesters.  Occupy supporters and protesters are complaining that the Oakland police escalated the confrontation without any actions done by the demonstrators.  In addition, they are whinging that they were all illegally arrested because the Oakland PD would not let them disperse or warn them of the risk of arrest.    - well, except for occupying buildings they had no legal right to enter, breaking into and vandalising Oakland's City Hall, and throwing rocks, pipes, bottles, and improvised explosive devices at police while yelling "Kill the Police" and "F*ck the Police".

1,000 to 2,000 violent protesters did go on the attack towards the Oakland Police Department officers who attempted to protect civilians and private / city property.  These thugs not only attempted to occupy buildings they had no legal right to enter, but broke in and vandalized Oakland's City Hall.  They also threw rocks, bottles, pipes, and improvised explosive devices at police while yelling "Kill the Police" and "F*ck the Police".

Yeah, real victims...

This video, highlighted by Zombie on PJ Media's Tatler page, provides a real insight into these peaceful protesters - as they burn a flag taken from the Oakland City Hall, on the steps of City Hall, they recite their pledge of allegiance...
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the imperialistic capitalistic dictatorship, and to the plutocracy for which it stands, the privately owned central bank, under the Jews, with inequality and injustice for the 99.“
Want to know who the thuggish Nazi brownshirts are?  It's not the Oakland Police Department.  It's these Marxist anti-Semitic thugs - they are the ones who are using the language of collectivism and fascism.  Yet, these people are the reason why President Obama ran for office.

In other Occupy news, OccupyDC has until noon today to depart from their occupation of McPherson Park inside Washington DC otherwise they will face forced removal.  The deadline has passed, and OccupyDC protesters continue to occupy the part and express their defiance.  District and Federal authorities will probably wait until the early morning hours before enforcing the eviction order and arresting all those who refuse to accept the order to vacate.

In London, OccupyLondon protesters, while appealing their eviction order from the plaza outside St. Paul's Cathedral, were evicted from a UBS owned building they decided to occupy...
The Occupy London group took over the abandoned office block last November in protest against the banking sector and the government's response to the financial crisis, turning the former investment bank office into a "bank of ideas" for "those who have lost their nurseries, community centres and youth clubs due to savage Government spending cuts".
They described the move as a "public repossession" and staked what they referred to as "a legal claim" on the space.

Following this morning's eviction, the Occupy movement issued a statement that said: "We are also gravely concerned that the police's actions this morning demonstrated a greater concern for the well-being of a building than the safety of the public. We look forward to receiving a formal response."
Like true fascists, they firmly believe that the rules apply to others - not them. 

The Syrian government has announced that the Army has successfully recaptured the Damascus suburbs occupied by the rebels protesting the Assad regime.  In heavy fighting, at least 20 were killed in the last 24 hours. France has announced that it is going to push for the United Nations Security Council to take action against Syria.  Britain has also take the steps to warn Russia that it needs to stop threatening / blocking action in the UN Security Council to hold Syria accountable for the violence / deaths the regime is dealing out to the civilian population.

Italian officials are saying that it could take 10 months to removed the Costa Concordia from where it sunk.  Recovery operations were delayed again today as divers worked to assess the stability of the ship on the ledge it rests on.  The liner shifted again overnight.

The Hill has taken a poll that shows that despite the kerfuffle by the President and Congressional Democrats over making the temporary Social Security Payroll Tax reduction into 2012 is being seen by a majority of people as much to do about nothing.  54% of those surveyed said that the temporary Social Security Payroll Tax reduction, which provides an average family with $40 biweekly in additional take home pay, didn't help them financially.  Only 25% said that the additional $40 biweekly was a financial help.

As for 'fairness' - The top 1% already pays 38% of all taxes, and the top 10% of income earners account for 70% of all taxes...

Remember, the issue was never about fairness.  It's about and spend dogma.

What would be fair?

Watching the Jon Corzine perp-walk.  Jon Corzine is the former Democrat Senator and Governor for New Jersey, former major campaign bundler for Barack Obama, and the former chairman and CEO of the failed investment bank MF Global who bankrupted the company on his extremely high risk bets on the Eurozone.  $1.2 billion customer funds remain missing in the bankruptcy and officials are now saying that these customer funds may never be recovered.

Strange how Corzine's dropped of the media's radar isn't it?

On This Day in History

1649 - King Charles I was executed in London for treason.  After the English Civil War where the parliamentarians defeated the royalists, King Charles I was tried for treason, convicted, and sentenced to death.  The monarchy would be restored in 1660.

1933 - Adolph Hitler was named Chancellor of Germany

1948 - Ghandi assassinated

1968 - North Vietnam launches the Tet Offensive - a massive series of coordinated attacks throughout South Vietnam.  The offensive was a military failure for the North - over 40,000 dead and the Viet Cong movement in the South was nearly eliminated in fighting.  This left the majority of the fighting for the remainder of the war to North Vietnam.  However, thanks to the US media, the offensive was a political victory for the North and proved to be a major turning point in the war.  US and South Vietnam lost nearly 3,000 dead.

1972 - Bloody Sunday in Londonderry, Northern Ireland.  13 demonstrators were killed, 17 wounded, as British paratroopers fired on Catholic / Republican supporters marching to protest the British policy of interning suspected IRA terrorists.  This re-ignited the use of terror / force to end the British rule over the 6 counties comprising Northern Ireland despite the majority of the residents in the area preferring to remain under British authority.

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