Tag Archives: Eurozone crisis

2 Cents On Life Its Ownself

Hang onto those Euros and let’s explore the thoughts of the day….

Here is an idea to completely reform all our social welfare programs.  Why not simply write a check for those in need to the tune of 2o thousand a year, tax-free.  You think that sounds high well take a moment an add up the costs for all the various welfare programs that now exist for that typical family of four.   There are the food stamps, Temporary assistance for family, housing subsidies through HUD, Medicaid, unemployment benefits, disability benefits, new job training benefits, earned income tax credits and even more not listed here.  Heck promise them the money for their family, cash on the barrel head and let them decide how they want to spend it–food, clothing, shelter, Iphone, flat screen tv, or whatever they desire.  Then put a lifetime cap on it of 500 thousand.  Make it a block grant to the States to set the eligibility standards they think are best for their citizens in need.  Believe me, we would come out ahead.

Keep an eye on the Chinese navy as it continues the expansion of its operations throughout the South China Sea and beyond.  Now they are off the coast of Malaysia and show no signs of changing their aggressive course.  They have been pouring lots of new investment into their navy and have launched their first aircraft carrier.  If they build the tools they expect to use them sometime.

Can you imagine having to go almost two weeks without being able to use your bank account like they have just done in Cyprus?  Those ATM’s only give out a limited amount of money and their banks today are only allowing about $430 a day to be withdrawn for the foreseeable future.  On top of that for a while (length yet to be determined) they are not allowing checking transactions.  What a mess. All due to loose monetary policy.  Our policy could be described as a bit loose itself with the Fed printing 85 billion a month of new money out of thin air.

It also will be interesting to see what the Euro is worth in Cyprus in the coming days.  Theoretically it is worth the same as else where in the Euro zone but the problem is you have to get it out of the country to spend it and Cyprus has place severe restrictions on taking money out of the country.   There soon will be a black market of one kind or another in Cyprus as there always is when there are artificial values and restrictions placed on the price of a currency.  Just like in Argentina at the moment where there is a vast difference in the official exchange rate for their peso at the banks and what you can really get in the back alleys of Buenos Aires.

The sectarian and factional disputes among the Muslim world we witness now in Iraq, Syria and Baharain to name only a few are nothing new in that Muslim world.  From the very first decades of that religion and its expansion across great swathes of the world there were internal conflicts between different rulers of the faithful.  Each claiming their were the true inheritors of the prophet and they had different ideas about how to rule and there were vast differences in how pious and humble they were or were not.  There were revolts, assassinations and wars among those factions pretty much from day one.  Even the mighty Ottoman Empire had its opponents from within the Muslim bloc that kept its borders within check for centuries on it edges.   Remember it was only about 30 years ago that Iran and Iraq fought a pretty brutal and bloody war and they are both Muslim.  The current conflicts in Libya, Syria and Afghanistan to name only a few are not unexpected to any student of history and they will likely continue for the foreseeable future regardless of any action taken by outsiders.

The  peach trees are blooming and the dogwood and redbuds have theirs out and the wisteria is in all its purple glory.  It won’t be long before we have those hot days of summer upon us.

Most people have at least heard of the Arctic Circle but not so many really understand what it signifies.  It doesn’t mean that you are close to the North Pole even though you are closer than if you are in Kansas City.  Not that line of demarcation is where the Sun will shine for at least a while for 24 hours in summer and will completely disappear for a while during the depths of winter.  Below that degree of latitude the Sun always rises and sets even if only briefly.

Drawing a map can have real consequences especially if some of the dimensions are guess-work.  When the Pope negotiated the treaties between Spain and Portugal dividing up the world between them for future exploration and ownership it was really intended to give Spain essentially the Americas and preserve Portugal’s existing interest in India and the East Indies.  But the line of demarcation actually cut through the eastern most tip of South America unbeknownst to the participates.  Lo and behold Portugal got Brazil and they sure weren’t about to give it back once they found it was within their boundary set out by treaty.  Those clever Portuguese lawyers and diplomats won the day by accident but heck good fortune is often where you find it even if by happenstance.

“Liberalism today has become deuces wild.  It can be used to fill any hand….freedom of opportunity is the great value that must  be preserved about all others.  Unless this freedom is preserved, no other freedom will be secure.”  Thurman Arnold, America lawyer, p0litical commentator of the early 2oth century.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

Let’s dig through that old trunk in the attic and see what we can find…..

“the private sector is doing just fine”….naturally there was more than just an “hmmm” to that remark by BO.  Next thing you know he’ll have those bands start playing “Happy Days Are Here Again” rather than “Hail To The Chief” to set the right mood for his economic messaging.

How can academics by so smart and completely stupid at the same time?  We have an enormous debt and deficit problem.  Those that can do 4th grade math can see the problem there.  The liberal (European) solution is to print more money to cover the increased debt so that more debt solves the debt problem.   According to them we then re-distribute that money and use the “multiplier effect” whereby they assert that for every one dollar of money given by the Feds to anyone will produce a dollar and half of economic value.  Lord, why don’t that just give us all a lot of money and we’ll go spend and everyone will be rich.  Of course, I don’t know how you’ll get food, or gasoline or a car repaired or a haircut or anything else that you need.  After all who would need to work?  In the land of Oz anything is possible apparently.

You’ve heard of and maybe read “Two Years Before The Mast” by Dana.  It is the tale of the terrible conditions for sailors in the early 19th century.  There is some truth to that story.  But like so many headlines it is always good to look behind the curtain a bit and see the full show.  From the early 16th century traders from Europe and then the Americas were making sailing trips to the Far East and Mid East to barter and trade for spices and silks and other goods.  They took with them clothe and other manufactured goods to trade for those items.   Yes, it is true that the wages were generally very low but there was a common bonus feature that is too often overlooked.   A typical trading ship is say 1680 would allow the common crew members and set amount of storage on board.  Normally it would be measured by weight, pounds and/or square footage as another limit.  The sailor from the Netherlands or England could fill his portion of the ship with whatever he wanted to take East for trade.  Likewise on the return, he could fill his part of the hold with mace, ginger, cloves, pepper or other desired spices.  They would make a huge profit on their return home.  They wouldn’t become wealthy but quite comfortable for that age.  If they made several trips they could become quite well to do.   Of course that journey was dangerous and more than half did not survive the year plus round trip voyage, mostly due to disease, malaria, dengue fever and the like.  Point is though that they all weren’t dressed in rags upon their return to Bristol or Amsterdam.

Something is weird about the Commerce Secretary Bryson’s recent bizarre hit and run incident.  Maybe just a tragic story of a medical condition.  But I for one don’t believe the White House didn’t check into the details before the Press Secretary started his recent news conference.  In times past when an incident occurred with a member of an Administration that involved the police or a hint of scandal they would come to the defense quickly and forcefully of the team member, or fire them.  The no comment in effect that they gave makes one think there is something more than the announced alleged medical problem Bryson supposedly had.  If that were the whole story then the WH would jump to his defense; the hesitation is puzzling.  Stay tuned for the details that were surely emerged.

Defenders of the Administration have recently cited several times the Internet as an example of the Feds promoting innovation through research and development money put up by the Feds.  It is true that the US military did develop much of the basic structure for computers communicating with each other.  But that was strictly for military use in communications and control of satellites and other weapons systems.  Of course IBM and Cray were doing the heaving lifting in all those advances, not some Army sergeant and White Sands.   Furthermore that world-wide web was the brainchild of a Brit.  He is the one who realized all the computers everywhere could be joined and an information exchange.  Again, that had nothing  to do with the Feds or Federal advancement of private enterprise and innovation.  Just like it was not Al Gore it also was not the Feds that gave us the world-wide web that you type in on every web address.

As they say, let’s follow the money.  Someone or some entity in Europe (you’ll note that little detail is missing so far from all the news reports) is going to loan money directly to banks in Spain.  The lender(s) didn’t want to be seen supporting the sovereign debt of Spain because Spain has to clean up its act the European Union says.  But the interest rates for Spain have shot up dramatically.  Spain will still regulate its banks just like we do.  When the Spanish banks get that money for Germany and their entourage, and the Spanish regulators come along and “suggest” it would really be nice if they would use that money to buy Spanish government bonds do you think those banks will refuse?  So, the money will end up going to the Spanish government after making a short stop at the local banks.   But it is only 125 billion, pocket change apparently these days.   But the European will sure be showing those Spaniards who is boss by not giving the government there any money directly.

“Capitalists are no more capable  of self-sacrifice than a man is capable of lifting himself by his own bootstraps”  Lenin.  Rebuttal evidence–The Greatest Generation.  www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

The following opinions are those of the escapee and not those of the sponsor……

Everyone wants to be treated with dignity however so many folks forget that you must act dignified if you want to be treated that way.  How many buffoons are treated with dignity?…..well, except for some unnamed politicians.

Before sugar became a highly sought after staple there wasn’t much “manufacturing in the world.  The old spice and commodities trades were merely shipping agricultural products around the world.  It was complex and dangerous but didn’t involve much processing.  Sugar on the other hand was quite complex.  You couldn’t just cut a cane and throw it on a pile and magically have sugar a couple of days later.  The cane had to be crushed with heavy rollers and then the sap had to be heated or cooked if you will right away or its composition changed.   The products of the cooking process gave not only sugar but molasses which was the heaviest and last of the residue from the process.   Once sugar became known it Europe it was highly sought after.  It was certainly not a necessity but a luxury if you will but all levels of society wanted it; hence the huge industry built up around its production in Brazil and the Lesser Antilles.  It was a true industrial process that was very labor intensive.  That is why the overwhelming majority of all slaves imported by the Portuguese, British and Dutch primarily went to those locales and not the US.  Oh, as a curious follow -up, most people forget that the importation of slaves was banned by the US in 1808, long before the War Between the States and was not opposed by the Southern States.

Silicon Vally companies are rightly associated with the green movement and renewable energy programs.  Yet the few they have are merely for show.  Those large companies, like Facebook, AOL, Google, etc, have numerous huge warehouses each filled with those servers.  Those facilities absolutely eat electricity.  There is simply no way they can use solar or wind power for their work.  In theory they could of course but it would take several square miles for each facility in windmills or solar panels.  And as we are learning quickly even if those panels or windmills are located in “remote” areas there is always someone who thinks they destroy the environment or a snail darter and sues to block them, e.g. the fight off the coast of Massachusetts over sea-based windmills.   Panels on the roof tops would only provide a tiny fraction of the needed power.   They need huge amounts of space.  Some have estimated that to power them all we would need an area the size of Arizona in solar panels.  Don’t take my word for it check it out for yourself.

Remember those 3 or 5 page essays you had to write for English or literature classes and how you agonized over them?   Well, go get a volume of the complete works of Shakespeare and leaf through it.  Even though it took him years to do them all you certainly will have a great appreciation for the sheer amount of labor he had to put into those epics.    He wasn’t writing on an eight grade level either.   How did he make those stories and poems so pithy, cogent and yet so beautifully written.

Have you seen those pictures of the Greenland ice caps and glaciers from the 1930’s?   Such an interesting story and filled with lessons for us today.  They sat forgotten after a scientific mission in 1932 for decades.  They reveal the ice and glaciers were severely depleted, worse than anything today.  Then they came back in a short period of time.  Old Mother Nature has her own way of doing things and we should be a bit more humble about thinking we have everything figured out.  

Some of the pundits on CNBC have promoted the idea that the Treasury should issue at least 500 billion of Treasury notes because the interest rates are so low.  It would be “cheap” money available to the government for whatever purpose.  As a theoretical proposition it makes sense if you need to borrow to do so at the lowest possible rate and the rates right now are on the floor.  But there is one little fly in the ointment–last I checked we were already around 15.7 trillion in debt.  To borrow that much more would require another immediate increase in the debt ceiling.   Politically it wouldn’t happen and in any event what is going to be our ultimate limit?  I mean we can’t just keep borrowing forever?  Even governments sooner or later have to pay their debts, ask the Greeks.

Do you think Frau Merkel can keep all the unruly children in check?  Maybe she should be more sympathetic with them after all they might really mean their promises this time.  What is it the 5th, 6th, 10th time?   How many times do the miscreants get to erase the blackboard and have a fresh start?   Trouble is that Dad has to buy a new car every time they wreck the old one.

The Good Book endorses the notion of the rule of law, contract rights and property rights contrary to revisionist theologians.  Just re-read the parable of the Lord with the vineyard who hired workers for his vineyard after different times of the day–some early, some mid-day, and some late in the afternoon.  But for each of them he paid the agreed price regardless of the hours worked.  Those who started early in the morning raised cain, alleging unfairness since they worked longer.  But the Lord replied with two questions–did you not agree to the wage and did I not pay it? and  Can I not do what I will with my own property?  Yes, there are other lessons there also but it does affirm the sanctity of the rule of law and importance of contract rights and their enforcement and lastly that private property was to be respected.

“A reformer should be exempt from the suspension of interest, and he must possess the confidence and esteem of those whom he proposes to reclaim.” E. Gibbon,  historian.   www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

We thought about reducing the price of opinions in light of the current economy but decided that we would go for a more upscale clientele.   

Every day there are news stories about the crisis of obesity in the USA and yet we also are made aware that about 47 million Americans are on the Food Stamp program.  Go figure.  Something seems wrong with that picture.  

What’s going on in Greece with their elections and seeming resistance to any kind of self-discipline is Greek to me.  Do they really expect that Germany and other northern European countries will gladly and forever fund their bloated government employment and government sponsored programs?   Since Man first conceived the idea of money and currency it has been true that who pays the Piper gets to call  the tune.  The Greeks have forgotten their history.

Why do some lawmakers insist that we constantly need new laws especially at the Federal level?   I just finished my continuing legal education requirement course and this year I took one on Collections and Creditors Rights.  Most of the segments were devoted to warning the lawyers for creditors about the protections afforded consumers under existing law before the CFPB and Ms. Warren became all the rage last year.  We have had in place consumer protections at the Federal level with the Fair Debt Collection Act for decades.  It is filled with protections and sanctions against unscrupulous or cheating creditors.  Likewise every State has some version of the Uniform Commercial Code and a complete chapter on Consumer Protection.  In most of them that is literally the name of the Chapter.  Consumers already could sue and even recover attorney’s fees for wrongdoing by lenders and other creditors.  Why in the devil did we need another layer on this onion?   Some politicians like to make the public think they are doing something useful for them when they are just duplicating what already exist.

You have heard of frankincense from the Christmas story and other places.  It was and is an incense highly prized for its aroma.  In the ancient world especially with no refrigeration or air conditioning it was the height of luxury to have those smells wafting through your house.  The upscale Greek or Roman of ancient days wanted it badly and this continued through to the modern age.  It comes mostly from Yemen and the Horn of Africa area (modern Eritrea and Ethiopia).  It is the sap from and tree that is tapped like we do a Maple tree and then the sap is laid out to dry to a crystal type substance and then crushed to a powder.  The Magi that brought the frankincense really got it from the south of Bethlehem, not the east.  From that region it was transported up to Egypt and then spread across the Mediterranean Sea to all the ports of call.

When Julius Caesar first invaded Britain in the mid-40’s BC it wasn’t really a conquest.  He went there twice actually but each time stayed only for a very short time.  It was more a recon in force and a blow and warning to the Brits of that age not to aid and abet his real opponents which were the Gauls of northern France who were using Britain as a safe haven and place to regroup as it were.  It was much like the modern situation with Afghanistan and Pakistan where the Taliban and Al Qaeda run to rest and reform.  It was about 80 years later when the Romans made the real and permanent invasion.  That time they ever brought a few elephants with them.  They remained there as masters of most of Britain for about 400 years until the time of the mythical or real King Arthur. 

I didn’t realize that Ms Warren and I shared so much in common.  I also per family oral history and legion have about 1/32 or 1/16th Cherokee blood.  I got those high cheek bones too and supposedly a great or great great grandma was Cherokee in Indian Territory in the post War Between the States era.  But I never listed that on any application or touted it as something special.  Never really thought about it much and still don’t know if it is even true.  But I grew up in the age before all the advantages that flow from affirmative action programs and diversity as the highest prize.   We were judged strictly on what we did or did not do.  There weren’t any grading curves.  Even when I went to law school our grades were posted publicly as was our class rank.  It was pinned to a bulletin board right outside the dean’s office for all the world to see.  There was no “good job” for those in the lower ranks, just the results of their grades compared to everyone else.   Actually, there was no praise for anyone; we just did our work and moved on.

Forward is the new and latest catchword for the BO campaign.  Reminds of that old Glenn Ford movie–“Advance To The Rear”.  Forward to what?  It is fine for the leader to stand up and say Forward men, follow me but the men got to believe in the goal and the method the leader has chosen to accomplish it.  What has happened in the last three and half years to instill confidence that BO and his academic crewmates have any clue about how to lead an economy anywhere except over a cliff?

Contrary to the apparent belief of many left wingers the US Constitution is not an aide-memoire but a real contract between the people and the government that sets out the limits on government.  The people were willing to grant the Federal government only so much power and no more; thus the 9th and 10th amendments and the Federalists Papers.

A warning of where we could be heading–“The powerful force of competition….will not disappear in a socialist Society, but ….will be sublimated.”  Leon Trotsky.   www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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North-South And Secession

Nope this isn’t an analysis of the War Between the States in the US.  Although that war and its causes and aftermath might offer some useful guideposts for our friends across the pond.  Let’s talk about the current conflicts and disagreements among the Eurozone countries and their current dilemma in working out a solution to the disparity between the countries who follow a relatively frugal approach to their fiscal policies and those that have a much more laizzez faire attitude about the seemingly endless flow of funds from government to support their lifestyle.

You have read accurately that there is a divide already existing between the countries of the Eurozone on a North-South axis.  Those to the North are generally in much better shape than their neighbors to the South.  The southern edge of Europe covers Greece, the Balkan countries, Italy, Spain and Portugal.   Of course Ireland and Iceland have had their difficulties but those appear on the mend and their debt problems were small compared to the avalanche of debt bursting out of the southern countries now.  Those are the areas of immediate and longer lasting concern to the Eurozone nations because of their debt loads relative to their ability to service those debts even at the still historically low interest rates for their soverign bonds.   Do you think it is mere coincidence that the northern tier of countries are in better shape than their southern neighbors?

For several centuries this divide has been true.  In Roman times it was different and it was still true that the South was dominanat during the Medieval period but those days are longs gone.  Italy as a single entity has only been around about 150 years.  It as a nation is younger than the US.  Before Garibaldi it was a hodge-podge of principalties and city-states going back to the Dark Ages.   All of Europe follows essentially the same welfare-state philosophy but by culture and tradition the northern tier has been more industrious and hard working than their sourthern counterparts.  Blame it on geography or climate or any other factor you wish but those are the facts.   The Southern group likes to bask in the sun a bit more and expects more from the government and other people’s money.  The northerners are inclined to be more independent and self-sufficient and even though they do have welfare states they have over the decades limited to reach of the government share of their economy and culture.  This barrier became most clear with the advent of Thathcher in Great Britain.   But then other more “conservative” governments and attitudes slowly infused the body politic in Europe in the North anyway.

The Eurozone itself was a creature from the leaders of the Northern tier of countries.  All the southern countries were an after thought.  France, the Benelux countries and Germany were the original backbone and still are of the Eurozone.  The bulk of the rest of the economic strength still comes from the North with Finland, Sweden, the Danes and even Great Britain even though it is not part of the Eurozone currency system but it is a vital member of the Euro community.

Just as we had our divide and war between north and south it is nor beyond the pale that the North and South in Europe will likewise break and there will be secession talk.  In fact there has already been secession talk but it isn’t called that.  Italy is a good examplar of this situation.  It also is divided along north/south communities.   The south of Italy has since its inception been the economic drag on Italy.  It produces at best around 30% of GDP but receives more than 60% of government largesse.  The north is more urban and industrial and has been for a long time.  The people there are the worker bees and the southerners are the beneficiaries of politicians payoffs in exchange for votes. (sound familiar?)   In fact this discontent became so intense that it resulted in the formation of the Norther League.  That political movement was and is centered in the major northern  industial cities of Italy.  There was and still is talk of breaking the country into two parts, separating the North from the South.  This polical party was the base that led to the victories of Berlusconi of recent note.  The political rise of the Northern League was not so much about taxes, policy or the welfare state; it was about not having to carry the South anymore on their backs.  They believed the South didn’t fairly contribute their fair share to the economy and that they took out far more than they put into the hopper.  Those are indeed the facts.  The South of Italy was getting a free ride on the backs of others and spending other people’s money.  The government built “infrastructure” projects with alacrity and assured the North this would benefit everyone.  But after several decades of this p0licy the facts on the ground haven’t changed.   The South is still a drag on the nation.

Much of the current debt of Italy has been accrued due to the enomous sums it has expended in the South for these projects.   If you read the back pages and follow some of the foreign news sources you will note these complaints of the North.  The same complaints have application generally to the northern tier of Eurozone countries.   Brussells has been spending far more money in the “underdeveloped” southern tier of countries and many in the northern areas feel that they are being short-changed.   Who knows if Italy will divide at some point but the odds are surely much higher that the Northern tier of the Eurozone will decide at some point in the near future that the cost of including the southern tier of countries is not worth the candle.   There won’t be a war but intense and bitter acrimony and trade wars could be on the European horizon and the North could decide to secede and form its own smaller but much more vibrant and healthy trade and currency economic organization.  Let’s see how it plays out over the next decade.  The European problems will  not be solved anytime soon.   There is a limit to how much of the debts of the South the North will pay and when that is reached then scramble to re-shuffle the deck will begin.

The recent recess appointments by BO are an assault on the Constitutional relationship between the branches of government.  It goes far beyond party or ideology.  The painful and slow process of our divided government has served us well for over 200 years.  We have a President who must follow and obey the Constitution; he is not a King who rules by edict.  Where is Robert Byrd when we need him?  I didn’t even like his politics at all but I will admit he was an ardent defender of the Senate and its privileges and Constitutional powers.  He would have screamed at this action.  www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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History And Euro Future

The headlines are filled daily with the latest news from Europe and the continuing confusion and peregrinations of discussion regarding the debt crisis and the Eurozone’s commitment to the Euro.   Will this 20 years experiment endure for the long haul?  The answer to that question is fraught with economic implications for the US as well as Europe.

All the way back to the ’60’s the first intimations about a joint European union of either political or economic fabric has been bandied about and discussed.  The Western European countries were at the forefront of these discussions for the obvious reason that the Cold War was in full bloom and all of Eastern European was under the thumb of the Soviets.   NATO was part of the glue composition holding Europe together during this time even with the withdrawal of France under DeGaulle.   That organization grew out of geopolitical strategic thinking on the part of Europe to protect itself and allow itself to prosper in the post-War era without having to submit to the influence or domination of the Soviets. 

Then came the dramatic events of 1989.  Virtually all of Eastern Europe threw off the shackles of Moscow during that year even though there full fruition of the uprisings weren’t realized until 1990.  Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania all became independent entities during the time frame.   East Germany was the linchpin to the final breaking of the bonds of domination and the most important ultimately.   Germany had been split into two countries since the War as was Berlin itself.  Wariness over a rising Germany had been the focus of the creation of NATO in the first place with a subtext to thwart the Soviets initially until the Soviets became the real bugaboo a few years later. (After the Berlin Airlift of 1948)  As these new countries emerged from the shadow of the Soviets concern arose on how to integrate them into European society and gave a boost to those who had long advocated a European union of economies if not political union.  Step one was to deal with Germany because it was the giant among the others as it had been for over 150 years in Europe.  Great Britain and France in particular were cautious about the re-unification of Germany.  Europeans remember their history much longer than we do and they still had vivid memories of two World Wars in the minds of their populations and especially the leaders of 1990; they had lived through at least WWII and some even WWI.   The War had ended in Europe in 1945 but there had never been a final resolution of Germany’s borders and Allied control of German areas especially Berlin since the War.  The US, France, Great Britain and the Soviets finally met in September of 1990 and worked out the final details to solidify those borders and bring the last major issue of the War to a close.  They all agreed to withdraw their troops from Berlin by Oct. 31 of 1990 and from most other areas of the now to be unified Germany and all its borders were at last settled.

The next year the European nations including some of the new ones met at Maastricht in the Netherlands to negotiate the economic union with the Euro.  It came after the settlement of the major geopolitical strategy of the major players had been satisfied with the German question resolved.   The implementation of the Euro was final for almost another decade.   The switch was made then as they all cashed in the local currencies and were given Euros in exchange that was the new medium of trade and debt settlement throughout the participating countries.  It was Germany that mostly caused the immediate inclusion of Italy in the pact.  The Germans thought they would be a moderating influence on the power of Great Britain and France.  One of the reasons that it took so many years to implement the Euro was the pain the former West Germany would have to suffer bringing into the fold the East Germans.  The East Germans were the Appalachians of Europe at that time.  It was poor, dark and had an incredibly inefficient economy due to the central planning control of the Communists for decades.  The Germans ended up paying out 1.2 trillion Euros equivalent to the East Germans in that rebuilding of one German state.  One wonders how they afforded that even today.

So the Eurozone was born in the mind of some economists and Pan-European thinkers decades ago but the mid wife to its actual creation was the geopolitical long view of what to finally do with Germany after the Soviets were ejected.  Without resolving the German question it is hard to imagine how an effective Euro would have ever been created.  The current situation reminds one of the the Ben Franklin comment when asked what the Constitutional Congress had done and he replied that we’ve given you a Republic if you can keep it.  The European have an economic union if they can keep it but that requires everyone be willing to follow the same rules for fiscal and debt policy.  Whether that union will endure is an open question at the moment.  Some of the members from the northern areas may well decide to secede and create their own free trade zone and leave the others to their own devices.  The Netherlands was one of the earliest proponents of the Eurozone because of its long-term view of history being between Germany and France.  Now the Netherlands has a very vocal and apparently growing voice to undo the treaty made in their native city of Maastricht.

Don’t be like BO and show a lack of understanding and appreciation of European history.  Remember the Great Britain is a reference to Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England.  The United Kingdom is England, Scotland and Wales; and England is England.   www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

As long as humans continue to be human there will always be opinions of differing hues upon the subjects of the day and memories of the yesterdays.

A clear goal and a firm commitment is a winning approach to foreign policy.  To paraphrase Ronald Reagan,,,,,yes, there is going to be an arms race and we’re going to win it.  We did and the Soviet Union collapsed.   Of course the Soviets had the problem of the communist system itself which led to their downfall.   Our current “central planners” in DC should take note.  The central planners state policy and set goals and targets for the economy (if communism can be said to have an economy) and then the locals who are charged with meeting the targets go to work.  It is crony capitalism without the capital.  Sure enough they made zillions of cars, trucks and tractors for instance that were shoddy and no one really wanted but the number of “units” was met.   They forgot about replacement parts because they were high on the central policy list.  The shoddy products fell apart quickly and then just sat for lack of any repair capability.   Of course the “consumers” never had the things they wanted like TV’s, paper towels, tooth paste, furniture or clothing more stylish than a denim jacket and pants.

I don’t get the hue and cry over the rating agencies the last few years since the economy went south.   They are under intense criticism now and some have even called for them to be prosecuted.  Come on folks, they give opinions not guarantees.  You don’t have to accept or agree with their opinion and you are free to believe they don’t do good work.  They were wrong but so were Fannie and Freddie and the Federal government and the Congressmen with oversight and the buyers who knew they couldn’t afford no down payment mortgages and banks and the list goes on.   I neither like or hate the rating agencies.  Remember the old saying that opinions are like butts, everyone has one.   You think maybe the Pygmalion effect was at work and people mostly believed what they wanted to believe?

Glad to see I am not the only one still asking where the money is coming from for the Eurozone bailout fund.  Lots of talking heads the last week or so have been asking the same question.  The European Central Bank has made it clear that they are not going to print Euros and buy Greek or Italian bonds.  The private investors are already demanding steeply higher yields for loaning money to the Eurozone countries and maybe soon they won’t loan at all because the risk of default is too high.  The Germans say they won’t pony up money.  Show me the money is what the world at large is saying then we’ll see assess the risks.  Seems reasonable to me. 

The Sheriff in Maricopa county has been in office almost twenty years.  His policies have been the same from day one.  He has worked through both Democrat and Republican administrations.   Bit strange that now BO and Holder have decided that all his policies are discriminatory.   Bill Clinton was a true liberal and even he and Janet Reno didn’t find fault.  You think there is maybe an election year approaching?

Two hundred years ago one of the greatest military expeditions of all time was in the planning stages.   Napoleon was getting ready for his invasion of Russia.  He gathered an army of over 500,000 men for the war.  It was comparable to our D-Day in scope and planning.  Regrettably for him it didn’t have the strategic thought for ultimate success.   To mix metaphors and wars it was a bridge too far.   Like a powerful football team playing a very weak opponent he forgot the other team would show up and play and they wouldn’t necessarily do as he thought.

Best kick-start to the day is the whiff of brewed coffee on those crisp winter mornings.

How many billions is it now we have spent on the switchgrass biomass fuel and ethonal folly?   The Feds backed the program with billions and only forgot that there was no developed manufacturing process in place and the mandated quotas set by the Feds were fantasy.  The production is not even 10% of that promised.   I wish that money had gone into the Bakken oil and gas field.

The hardest part of exercising is getting started.   You are already going downhill with the first exertion.   

How many guys are having to endure the Ice Capades during this Holiday season?   I went several times when the daughters were young.  If I can do it  so can you.   It’s just at half time I always thought that there was that much more to sit through.

You catch that story about the whales being caught under the ice fields in the Arctic?  I thought all the ice was melting yet the spread ice apparently trapped a number of whales under it just recently in areas that had been ice-free for a while.  I guess it still gets pretty cold there.

The Feds are beginning to eat their own.   The

has filed suit against the former execs of Fannie and Freddie.  They did make huge salaries while working for that Government sponsored enterprise and obviously didn’t care about the quality of the loans they were making as long as the music kept playing.  They certainly never pushed back against Congress or Barney Frank on the ridiculous requirements to extend loans to those not qualified simply to meet social engineering goals and enhance minority home ownership.  It will be fun to see how they defend themselves.  You think they will prove they were only “following orders”?  Of course those issuing the orders will flee from any knowledge of such orders like rats from the rotting ship. 

“The instinct of ownership is fundamental in man’s nature”  Wm. James.  www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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