Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Greek situation

Greece has huge debts that it cannot repay and is essentially "broke".  And its creditors are barking at it. They want their money. Its only way forward would seem to be to retire from the Eurozone (a common-currency area) and reintroduce its own currency, the Drachma.  It can then print as much money as it likes and pay Greeks everything that they think they deserve.  The result of that will be hyperinflation, yet more economic collapse and sky-high prices for anything that Greece imports from overseas.  Greek living standards could end up at less than half of what they once were.  And it would leave the Greek government unable to borrow from overseas for a long time.

To understand the Greek situation, people need to know something that is just about unmentionable these days -- because it could be seen as "racist":  Greeks are undoubtedly the most work-shy people in Europe.  Where a lot of Northern Europeans like to keep themselves busy by building and making things or otherwise doing something constructive, the ideal life for the average Greek male is to sit around with his friends drinking coffee and arguing about politics.  Finding a way of getting money without working for it is his Holy Grail.  Which is in part why one in two Greek households rely on social security payments to make ends meet.

And the Greek government too wants a free ride.  It has had such a ride courtesy of Europe's banks but now that it cannot pay the interest due on its borrowings, it still wants to cruise along propped up by the rest of Europe.  Faced with colossal bad debts, the rest of Europe is inclined to continue that propping up -- but not at any price.  They want the Greek government to curb its wasteful ways and get on top of its debt.

But the present government is a far-Left one so will not.  They say that Greece has already cut all its fat.  But it has not.  A major demand of Germany and other creditors is that Greece reform its pension (social security) system.  But government payments to the elderly are already low so that cannot be done, says the Greek government.  They are actually right in saying that the payments are low but that is not what the rest of Europe has its beady eyes on.  What they are looking at is ELIGIBILTY for pensions in Greece.  An article from five years ago tells us rather vividly what it is all about:

In Greece, trombone players and pastry chefs get to retire as early as 50 on grounds their work causes them late career breathing problems. Hairdressers enjoy the same perk thanks to the dyes and other chemicals they rub into people's scalps.

Then there are masseurs at steam baths: they get an early out because prolonged exposure to all that heat and steam is deemed unhealthy.

Until the Greek debt crisis, northern Europeans looked at Greek early retirement with an amused roll of the eyes. But more and more such loopholes are angering them: they bristle at being asked to pay for their laggard southern neighbours' early retirement.

When Germany's top-selling newspaper Bild asked readers in that fiscally prudent nation how they felt about coughing up hard-earned money for this kind of luxury, the daily's website lit up with comment.

In a bloc with a shared currency but no power to enforce budgetary restraint and keep members from spending themselves into messes like Greece's, the retirement quirk illustrates another fault line that crept to the surface with the debt crisis that began in Athens and is threatening to spread across the euro zone.

Germany, making available as much as 22.4 billion euros for the joint EU and IMF bailout of Greece, and which not long ago raised its retirement age from 65 to 67 to offset a shrinking, aging population, is being made "the laughing stock of Europe," one reader wrote to Bild.

Like many EU countries, the general retirement age in Greece is 65, although the actual average is about 61. However, the deeply fragmented system also provides for early retirement - as early as 55 for men and 50 for women - in many professions classified as "arduous and unhealthy."

The vast majority seem reasonable, like coal mining, but others, like the bakers and wind-instrument musicians, might strike some as a tad silly.

Greek pensions are low but the system is widely abused, and as part of a drive to reduce Greece's huge debt the government is trying to simplify the labyrinth of rules governing pensions and abolish early retirement rights for some categories of workers. In the end, Greeks will have to work more years, pay a bit more into the system and receive smaller pensions.

In Stockholm, 22-year-old security guard Jenny Lindstrom, called the Greek system unfair to other Europeans and said the bloc should have a single set of rules. "I also would like to retire earlier. I don't want to work for a long time to pay for others' to retire early in other countries."

Greece has to reform its system.  It is just not sustainable to allow women to retire at, say, 58, and pay them a pension well into their 80s. Along with early retirement, Greece has one of Europe's highest longevity rates - with an average life expectancy of 77.1 years for men and 81.9 for women.

As far away as Finland, where the government has tried to push up the retirement age to make up for a lack of skilled workers, there is resentment over paying for early retirement in the EU's sun-baked south.  "No way. It would be really unfair on a Finnish taxpayer who is still at work at the same age as someone in the same profession in another country retires," said 60-year-old Pirkko Toivonen.


Some changes to the above situation have apparently been made since then but not many and not by very much.  See here

So at a time when many countries are phasing in 70 as the normal retirement age, Greece could cut its pensions bill by a huge amount simply by falling in line with that retirement age.  But a far-Leftist government just will not do it of course.  They will   send the whole country into a downward spiral rather than earn the ire of one of their major support groups.

And the rest of Europe also has its beady eyes on the Greek tax system.  Greeks are so crooked that the tax system collects only about half of what it should.  Tax evasion is a way of life in Greece.  Again, a little has been done to tighten that up but not much.  Much more could be done.  And it's not the Leftist government that's principally at fault in that matter.  The situation is the fault of Greeks generally.  They almost all think that someone else owes them a living and that they have already paid plenty.  That attitude has already significantly impoverished them and they are now on the brink of even greater impoverishment

There is one potential solution to Greece's problems that would rid Greece of its debts in an entirely honourable way -- but nobody much is talking about it so far -- so I will mention it only in passing:  Greece has a LOT of islands, many of which are in very attractive locations and thinly populated.  Greece could  sell off entire islands to foreign governments, which would use them to build for their citizens retirement homes in the sun.  That could prove quite attractive to some Northern European countries.

There's a current report of the negotiations between Greece and the rest of Europe here -- JR


Obama, the mass murderer

We all know that President Obama has been releasing illegal alien convicted criminals from prison at a record pace. These are people in the country illegally who were convicted and sentenced for committing violent crimes and Barack Obama just released them from prison anyway.

But there’s another side to this story. There are the illegal aliens who are caught committing lesser crimes and released from prison only to commit even worse crimes later.

Right now, there are 121 illegal aliens in this exact scenario. They were caught committing crimes yet, instead of being deported, the Obama administration released them back into society. And do you know what all 121 of them did after that?

They all murdered someone. That’s right, Obama gave amnesty to 121 illegal aliens who then went on to commit murder.

Legislation has already been introduced to stop this once and for all. It is called S.291, the Keep Our Communities Safe Act. It was introduced in January by Senators James Inhofe, Chuck Grassley, Ted Cruz, and Jeff Sessions.

The bill is simple: if an illegal alien is convicted of a crime, the Obama administration cannot simply release him or her from prison.

When this legislation was introduced, we knew that the President was releasing illegal alien criminals but we had no idea how dangerous the program was.

121 people are dead now because the President thinks illegal aliens should be allowed to stay in the country, regardless of how dangerous they are.

This is the cost of Obama’s amnesty. This is the human cost of having a President who completely disregards the Constitution and this country’s immigration laws.

It has to stop. It simply can’t go on like this. This latest statistic is just the murders. This doesn’t even include the cases of manslaughter, rape, child molestation, or any number of other violent crimes.

Like always, the GOP is talking a good talk. Republican Senators have come out demanding “answers.” We already know all we need to know. These illegal aliens should have been deported but instead, the Obama administration allowed them to murder 121 innocent people.



Hannity: Objective Truth Takes a ‘Backseat’ to Liberal Narrative on Race

Nationally syndicated radio host Sean Hannity said that Rachel Dolezal’s “transracialism” shows how objective truth is being forced to take a "backseat" to liberal racial identity politics.

Dolezal is a white woman who resigned from her position as president of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Monday after being criticized for portraying herself as black.

Dolezal exposed “an utterly twisted, confused and dishonest world that represents the left today, caught red-handed,” Hannity said on his Friday show, “It’s a lie that bothers her not one bit because she’s committed to a cause. And everything including the truth needs to take the backseat to the narrative in the cause.”
Here is a transcript of what Hannity said:

"This is so bizarre. It’s utterly bizarre. You know, in one weird way, a perfect one, and I say that because it tells you about modern-day liberalism. Think about this: You see in this story the obsession with identity politics to the point that a professor and leader of the NAACP local chapter would flat out lie about her race -- deny her parents -- in order to make her something into something she’s not.

"Then there’s the post-modernism aspect to this story, and that’s the belief that real-world facts just don’t matter. Only narrative matters. Objective truth doesn’t exist in this liberal, post-modernism world. You know, facts don’t exist independently, they’re merely pawns to be used on a racial and ethnic chessboard, if you will.

"So after being caught in a lie, she doesn’t feel any responsibility, she doesn’t feel any remorse, no shame, apparently. Her response is that she doesn’t feel any obligation to explain her deception to a community that quite frankly doesn’t understand the definition of race and ethnicity.

"In other words, if you’re white like she is, you’re part of a community that just doesn’t really understand the definition of race and ethnicity. I mean, this is just liberal gobbledygook. When translated into English, it means that she feels that she can lie about her racial identity because it’s serving a larger racial purpose.

"See where I’m going here? Whether or not she’s white -- what you say, it doesn’t matter. Because the truth doesn’t matter. Because identity politics matters. Because the narrative matters. And I’m guessing the hate mail she has received, if and when it’s revealed to be a hoax, isn’t gonna matter either because she’ll argue a more important cause was served. That’s why liberals -- the ends justify the means for them.

"She’s pushing a narrative, that America’s a racist country by making up, you know, racist mailings. It’s an utterly twisted, confused and dishonest world that represents the left today, caught red-handed. It’s a lie that bothers her not one bit because she’s committed to a cause. And everything including the truth needs to take the backseat to the narrative in the cause."



‘Law Enforcement Is Under Attack All Across Our County,’ Former DEA Official Says

Michael Braun, former chief of operations at the Drug Enforcement Agency, said on Thursday that police in the United States are “disengaging” because of the media’s focus on isolated cases of alleged overuse of force at a time when local and state law enforcement are the first responders to domestic terror threats and attacks.

“Law enforcement is under attack all across our country,” Braun said during a discussion at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., about the connection between police and counterterrorism efforts in the homeland.

“Law enforcement is disengaging these days, and it’s not the right time to be doing that,” he said, citing as an example local police officers were the first to confront domestic terrorists in Texas in May when a local cop killed two heavily armed men who attacked a gathering at a cultural center.

When asked him to expound on his comments about law enforcement being under attack, Braun said watching a few episodes of the television program “Cops” gives a realistic view of the challenges law enforcement personnel face.

“That’s what law enforcement deals with at the local and state level day in and day out, and they’ve got a very tough job,” Braun said.

He cited another incident in Texas where a cop resigned after arresting a teenage girl at a pool party where the crowd became unruly. The cop, who resigned and issued a public apology, had responded to a suicide and a suicide attempt before he got the call for the party.

“I’m simply not seeing the media paint the most accurate picture … of law enforcement that should be painted,” Braun said. “They’re focused on some isolated events.”

Statistics prove that is the case, Braun said.

“When you stop to think that we’ve got 17,000 law enforcement jurisdictions in the United States and on any given day of the week I believe we’ve got 500, 555,000 law enforcement officers, and every day of the year those cops are making about 35,000 arrests, and we isolate one bad event, and we dwell on it for not days or a day but often times days and weeks, what kind of an impact does that have on the American psyche?” Braun said. “That’s what worries me.”



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1 comment:

C. S. P. Schofield said...

Yes, law enforcement is under attack in this country. And a lot of those attacks, driven by the Left, are meritless. But at the same time there are multiple, systemic problems with the law enforcement culture, and if the various police agencies had policed their own instead of repeating the mantra "All Procedures were followed" in all occasions, they wouldn't be having this trouble.

The cops who threw a flash-bang grenade into an occupied crib in Georgia should have been terminated the next day. Policemen who are proven to be lying by video should be terminated. Police and Prosecutors who suppress evidence to get a conviction in a capitol case should be tried for attempted murder. And until that is the norm and not the exception, it will be easy for rabble rousers to make hay in cases like Ferguson, where the police were in the right.

If law enforcement is under attack it is because they deserve to be. Naturally, they are outraged that the citizenry doesn't propose to just lie down for it.