Parina

Literature, economics and more...

Revolving Door and Gravy Train for ex Leaders & Politicos

Senior citizens wonder what went so wrong with the world while younger people wonder why the world is in such a shameful state. It is always easy to look back at the past and think that: Oh! things were so much better then! And this is indeed something that is assumed to have played a part in the vote for Brexit, for Trump and perhaps even the French elections.

And of course one always remembers the Good things and not the Bad. However, there is one thing that has become so much worse. Undeniably. The ethics of former political leaders, or rather lack thereof. There is of course nothing illegal in accepting six digit payments for giving a talk. Nor is it illegal for ex Goldman Sachs employees to go into government or ex politicians to go to highly paid jobs in say Goldman Sachs.

I refer to Goldman Sachs just because it is the most obvious, not because it is the only financial or other institution that has such influence. The governor of the Bank of England, the governor of the ECB to name but two of the most important currencies in the world are both ex Goldman Sachs men.

Manuel Baroso who was not at all a successful Prime Minister was given the job of President of the EU Commission (where his term was not a sparkling success since the debt crisis broke out and the way it was handled may well lead to the collapse of the EZ if not the EU) but never mind, he was duly rewarded for all his pains with a well paid job at … yes. You guessed it.

There is no end to such cases from around the world. That is the infamous revolving door. But another instance is the exorbitant fees these excellent people who run our lives (for better or for worse… usually the latter) are rewarded with. To take the most blatant examples. Bill Clinton has made millions (and makes no secret of it) from charging exorbitant sums for giving talks. Tony Blair went full throttle not only with overpaid talks, but various consultancies and such as well.

And now splashed across our screens (what used to be headlines in the papers) Barrack Obama to get $400,000 for one talk. Who? The great and wonderful Barrack Obama who could do no ill! And this is just the beginning for him.

To my mind this is obscene. All sense of any decency that ever was has disappeared. And yes, in times gone by this would have been considered a disgrace and not something to shout out about in triumph.

But as we wonder, why the hell is the world in such a state? maybe we should bare this in mind. Politicians of whatever colour or creed, do not give a damn about what their job is supposed to be. They are more interested in what they can get out of it. Not by graft or embezzlement or anything obviously illegal, but from the perks offered them.

And the question is, would Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and now the iconic Barrack Obama (to name but the most obvious though David Cameron has now also climbed on the band wagon) be offered such exorbitant sums for a simple talk, or offered such highly paid jobs where they are not expected to do much at all, if they had done their jobs properly?

That is if they had served their people, those who voted them into office and whose interests they were supposed to uphold and pursue, rather than curry favour and indeed serve the interests of Banks, financiers, and various businesses instead?

Hardly. Had the interests of people and society come first and foremost there would have been no remuneration of this kind for them at all.

It is obscene and it is disgraceful and shows how these people have no ethics, no ideals and one vision only. How to make millions for themselves. And this they can only do by screwing the people well and truly.

 

What’s the Matter with Obama?

In his last days in office President Obama appears to have plunged into a flurry of activity. Firstly his ire over Russian meddling in the American elections. I have no reason to doubt that the hacking occurred but that is not the point. When a President of the USA makes such a fuss over supposed (or otherwise) meddling in his elections, eyebrows tend to rise in disbelief. Oh really now? And since when has an American President been averse to meddling in other nations? elections? The history of the US in this respect is long and black and not confined to mere meddling in elections but to actually engineering coups whereby democracies were crushed while puppet stooge raw military dictatorships favourable to the US were imposed with dire consequences for these nations (Chile and Greece to name but two). So the fuss over Russian hacking can?t help sounding somewhat hollow and, unfortunately a bit like sour grapes for having lost the elections. Blame defeat on anyone and anything else other than perhaps the achievements or lack thereof of the previous eight years.

Then there is the question of the UN Resolution on Israeli settlements. Though finally refraining from an outright veto in Israel?s favour for the first time, definitely a step in the right direction for human rights, there is again a feeling of hollow emptiness about it. Just where has the Obama administration been on this over the past eight years? All of a sudden at the very tail end of his second term he takes a stand. A stand that feels sorely like far too little far too late.

Overall it is extremely disappointing that a President with so much promise in whom so much hope was placed should be ending his  term of office with what looks like petulant little displays of a sore loser.

THE OBAMA JINX?

Obama visited the UK in the run up to the Brexit referendum. He not only declared himself roundly on the side of Remain but threatened that should Brexit prevail the UK would be pushed to the end of the queue.

In the US Presidential campaign he pulled out all the stops to campaign in favour of Hillary Clinton with even Michelle Obama being rolled out to make impassioned speeches on her behalf.

Now quite regardless of the merits of Remain or Hillary Clinton as President, both these interventions were beyond normal practice. Firstly with regard to the UK referendum it constituted unprecedented meddling in the internal affairs of a sovereign state and indeed staunch ally. In the case of the US election he was justifiably endorsing the candidate of his own party but he went to unprecedented lengths to do this going way beyond anything that has happened before in this respect.

In his farewell tour of Europe his first stop was Athens and second stop Berlin. In Athens he made beautiful speeches on Democracy and roundly declared that Greek debt should be reduced and that austerity cannot lead to growth. Both self evident statements. Nevertheless in Berlin he appears to have completely forgotten about them and made no mention of Greek debt or the dangers of austerity to The Frau.

He was so warm and cordial to Frau Merkel that it was said he was handing over the leadership of the Free World to her now that that ghastly white supremacist racist had been voted in as US President.

To be fair to the President he did not say so in so many words but nor did he say what is self evident in any words at all. That under the effective leadership of Europe Merkel has eroded the foundations of the EU, has undermined democracy in Europe and changed it into a German Europe ruled by fiat, has ruined the economies of EU members and has in fact brought the whole Union to the brink of fragmentation and perhaps even dissolution.

For all that, Obama warmly praised Frau Merkel and said that he would vote for her if he was German. (More uncalled for meddling in the internal affairs of other states).

Now, since his first two blatant and clumsy attempts to influence the outcome of a vote ended in failure, we should perhaps start worrying (or not) that he may well perfume a hat trick here too.

In any case, should Frau Merkel perchance lose the Chancellorship next year, she and we will know who to blame.

WHY HAS TRUMP PROVED SUCH A STRONG CANDIDATE?

 

Trump?s bid for the Republican nomination was seen as a joke. Here was another buffoon going for some publicity and making a fool of himself. Ultimately, against all initial odds, he trounced the Party mechanism and won the nomination.

As for the Presidential election, it was universally accepted that the election would be a walk in the park for Hillary. It has hardly proved to be that regardless of what the final outcome will be.

As the campaign draws to a close, we are witnessing what we saw before the Brexit vote. The full force of the establishment and? what used to be known as “polite society”… firmly backing Hillary Clinton and demonizing Trump with apocalyptic views of how the world will collapse should he become President. Nevertheless there is some nervousness still, despite the polls and despite the enormous efforts, not least, of the Obamas to support Hillary.

However there is a great big elephant in the room which, for all the demonization of an admittedly unsavoury character, the hysterical cries that the world economy (perhaps even the world itself) will collapse should Hillary fail to win, is being consistently and systematically ignored.

The elephant in the room is the vicious mess of the world neoliberalism and the Chicago school have made. After the fall of the USSR, the fear of our people going commie had disappeared and it was freedom to cut back on wages, welfare etc. which all led as we know to the 1% hoarding all the wealth while life for the 99% becomes worse and worse and.. yes! PRECARIOUS!

We saw something of this simmering anger expressing itself in the UK Brexit vote. When people on zero hour jobs, precarious employment, unable to even dream about buying a house (as opposed to their parents? generation) are told Oh! This will be terrible for the economy! Their response is, Up yours! Why should I care about an economy where inequality has flourished & my kids have no future?

So question now is why turn to Trump? Well the American electorate swarmed to Bernie Sanders for the same reason. However, the DNC was accused (and the chair had to resign over this) of sabotaging Sanders bid in favour of Hillary. So we get a typical establishment figure, also tainted by various malpractices & a suspect foundation etc. Precisely what the protest vote wants to get rid of.

For all the gloom and hysteria and cries of ?populism!? and absolute terror of markets collapsing in all this, I believe there is some hope. It is in a way an attempt to take back the demos. A reaction against this sick, unfair and ultimately disastrous system of everything for the 1% at the cost of everyone else. HOWEVER! The problem is that this reaction inevitably has xenophobic elements and swings to the right (as in Trump). But here the DNC should be held severely to account for strangling the clear surge to the left with Sanders roundly declaring he is socialist.

In Europe we have seen the reaction going left in the south and to the right in western & northern Europe, with France perhaps being the most ominous case.

The established system is creaking dangerously. The young are beginning to protest and demand something else, something better, something other than all that matters is (other people?s) profits. How this will turn out is for the future (not too distant) to tell. And the result of the American Elections will not resolve anything, whichever way they go.

 

 

The Banality of Evil in EU Imposed Austerity

I never could quite get round the idea of Hannah Arendt?s ?Banality of Evil?. What exactly was it? How did it ?work?? Living through the worst case of EU imposed austerity that is Greece, the meaning becomes quite clear.

In his book ?The Triumph of the Market? Edward S. Herman says: ?The concept of the banality of evil came into prominence following the publication of Hannah Arendt’s 1963 book Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, which was based on the trial of Adolph Eichmann in Jerusalem. Arendt’s thesis was that people who carry out unspeakable crimes, like Eichmann, a top administrator in the machinery of the Nazi death camps, may not be crazy fanatics at all, but rather ordinary individuals who simply accept the premises of their state and participate in any ongoing enterprise with the energy of good bureaucrats.”

What has happened to the Greek economy and the Greek people throughout this so called ?bail out? process which is just an excuse to impose the harshest possible austerity has never before been achieved in peacetime nor under democratic order as the EU purports to be.

The pain, the misery, the pauperisation of a people is unprecedented in the history of democratic states during peacetime. Even the Great Depression of the 1930?s did not achieve as much. What kind of people have taken it upon themselves to cause such pain and yes, indeed, evil. Senseless evil.

We have people like say Poul Thomsen and Delia Velculescu of the IMF travelling first class to Athens staying at the Athens Hilton, taking a swim in the pool and enjoying the sun before ordaining that already below subsistence wages in Greece must be slashed further in order to meet the targets. Unemployment, poverty, destitution, over-taxation are unimportant since all that matters is meeting the targets. But even when the targets have been met as in reducing the deficit and reaching a primary surplus, it?s not enough since no slack must be given lest these wretches (a whole nation) lapse into complacency and fail to complete the so called reforms.

And there is the clue. The Targets. The Reforms. What are these and who decides on them? Why, the prevailing dogma that all these bureaucrats and apparatchiks serve. And, I would add, not only serve but get extremely well rewarded for serving.

They cannot see beyond their orders. As was Eichmann?s defense. I was just following orders. I did nothing on my own initiative. Should there ever be a Nuremburg for those who imposed such a lethal economic policy on most of the world but Europe in particular, the plea will be the same.

We had to achieve the targets. We were only acting in accordance with our brief. We were implementing the rules.

And it is true. Anyone who dared so much as question these rules was castigated, anathematized and subject to character assassination by these same bureaucrats who could not even countenance anything other than the sacred rules.

Though the evil perpetrated by all these bureaucrats does not reach the level of the gas chambers and extermination practiced by the German Reich, it is nonetheless evil and especially so in peacetime.

The sheer banality of evil has become clear for all to see in our generation as well. Ordinary, mediocre, obedient bureaucrats who just follow orders blindly and efficiently, totally oblivious of all the unnecessary pain, misery and anguish their actions are achieving*.

 

*I use the word ?achieving? purposely because that is how they perceive their evil work. As achievements.

 

The Alchemist’s Daughter

My father used to say that although, as scientists, we are loathe to admit it, deep down all of us hope that we shall be the one to find the secret. What secret? How to turn base metals into gold. That’s gold, isn’t it? Oh no my love! With a laugh. That is only bronze, and it tarnishes. It was a paper weight, in the shape of a crown and he had other things resulting from throwing the melted stuff into cold water. And what wonderful shapes emerged. My father was an Engineer. A Marine Engineer who had also studied Chemical Engineering before The War, sent by the state to do so in preparation for the feared Chemical warfare ahead. He was an Officer in the Navy at the time. He never did find the secret of turning base metals into gold literally. Or if he did, he never let on. But he had the rare knack in life of turning everything around him into gold. A rare gift. Something that came so naturally to him. Like breathing. I never really realized till the end of his life. When I also realized that had one been able to find the secret of turning base metals into gold, then gold would have lost its value, whereas the gift of symbolically turning life around you into gold could never lead to the debasement of the results.

A Glimps into the Near Future?

Recent News item

Emirates Secretly Sends Colombian Mercenaries to Fight in Yemen
The New York Times

The arrival in Yemen of 450 Latin American troops adds a volatile new element in a complex proxy war that has drawn in the United States and Iran. Read the full story
This cold lead to something like the following:-

Emirates/Saudi Arabia go bust owing to fall in oil prices (not a fantasy that, but a distinct possibility on the cards). Sick and tired of chicken every day and general conditions, when on top of it all pay checks cease to arrive (because paymasters have gone bust), the Latin American troops rise up in rebellion and easily take over Arab Kingdoms. After slaughter of princes etc. who failed to pay them, they join the other anarchist groups that have evolved. After more blood baths and since oil is no longer worth much on the market and there?s nothing but desert out here, they start arranging and protecting flows of desperate people into Europe. Europeans set up meetings and summit meetings and more meetings and keep quarreling among themselves and blaming Greece for not keeping the hordes out,  and are of course unable to stave off the influx of desperate people because they cannot agree whether to call them refugees or immigrants. In the meanwhile the Latin American mercenaries have revived a Che Guevara cult and as they penetrate Europe with ease they start gathering cheering crowds since they promise to string up all these enemies of the people imposing vicious inhuman austerity. Last scene of the film/book the Latin American army marches triumphantly into Berlin to the strains of Leonard Cohen?s ?First we take Manhattan then we take Berlin?. A Pan European crowd (knitting perhaps?) screams with ecstatic joy as Merkel is brought cowering to the guillotine and poor old Wolfie is allowed to roll off a cliff.

In other words… Gothic hordes taking over Rome, or Anatolian Turk warrior tribes taking over from Arabian Caliphate.

Happens all the time.

Facetious! But analysis can?t cut it any more for what?s going on, only the ravings of a demented fiction writer!

That said… Chaos rules.The more mere mortals try to impose their idea of order over anything the more they give rise to chaos.

Guy Burgess the Villain of the Piece

I recently read Andrew Lownie’s book STALIN’S ENGLISHMAN The Lives of Guy Burgess. I am old enough to remember the furore and media frenzy over the Cambridge five spy ring. How Burgess and Maclean absconded. The Kim Philby shock and so on, so I came to this book with great interest.

One comes out of this enthralling read wondering whether you would have really liked Guy Burgess (as all children seemed to have done) or utterly abhorred him (as most of the society hostesses of the time seem to have done). I have to confess to a puerile reaction. I think I would have liked him very much. A brilliant mind. Extensive knowledge of history, the arts, music. A sense of humour. An almost Wildean figure in scathing repartee not least.

But above all, I believe we should give him credit where it is due. He was an ideologue through and through. He believed in a better world, he believed in fighting against fascism. His spying was not inspired by the motive of any pecuniary gain. Just as we have to grudgingly admit of Margaret Thatcher that she was a Conviction politician, whether we liked her politics or not, so we have to admit of Guy Burgess that he was a man of conviction, whether we like the idea of spying or not.

It is a debate we may have over Edward Snowden as well, but be that as it may. Guy Burgess appears to have been a man of rare brilliance who destroyed himself through excess. Just about an excess of everything. Nevertheless a man sincere in his beliefs who acted on them out of conviction.

Given the state of affairs today, I found this quote, from a man credited with “a power of historical generalisation which is one of the rarest intellectual faculties..” * rather apt and something that we should perhaps still bear in mind, despite the changed historical circumstances. Guy Burgess maintained:

You’ve either got to choose America or Russia. People may have their own view which to chose, but Europe is something wishy-washy that simply does not exist. 

 

A quote by Goronwy Rees,page 325, hard back edition. 

 

Dr Schauble and King Canute

Dr Schauble has ordained that elections can make no difference to policy in Eurozone countries, because policy can only be dictated by himself. He didn’t put it quite that way but that is the essence. The brutal crushing of Greece has demonstrated that he has got his way. No matter that the 3rd bail out appears designed to fail again since it will only bring about more recession, more unemployment, more destitution. No matter that 62% of Greek voters screamed against all the bullying that they can take no more austerity. Dr Schauble got his way.

Yesterday’s elections in Portugal appear to have vindicated him too. For all the pain and misery inflicted on the Portuguese they returned the government of austerity to power, even though things remain abysmal and some 500,000 of their brightest and best have fled the country and their debt/GDP is in the region of 130%.

So Dr Scahuble has triumphed! Not only has that upstart Tsipras turned his coat completely (like a latter day Janissary of the Ottoman Empire), but the Portuguese have realised that they simply cannot defy him and have bent their knee accordingly. And no doubt something of the same will happen in Spain too.

And what has made Dr Schauble’s triumph even greater is that nobody doubts (and how could they?) that this vicious austerity imposed by fiat has failed abominably. The figures show this blatantly. Never mind the murmurs from within the IMF that whoops! Seems likes we effed up!

And yet… Coehlo’s party may have come in first but he lost enough votes to deprive him of an outright majority. The new Greek Parliament may have an overwhelming majority of Austerity True believer parties from the Tsipras band to the scraped through piddly little parties of Democratic Union and Potami, but every single major party lost voters this time around.

Abstention was high in both Greece and Portugal. So Dr Schauble has been heeded. If voting makes no difference, then why bother voting? Which is one interpretation. The obvious one. But that does not necessarily mean surrender. It merely means that an important section of the electorate has finally realised the dice are loaded against them.

Choosing to abstain from voting is not the same as accepting you are powerless. Quite the contrary. For a start it means declining to take part in the charade. It means heightened awareness of the crimes being perpetuated against you. It means a beginning in the turning of the tide.

Like King Canute Dr Schauble with equal arrogance has ordered the tide not to wet his feet. And he can smirk that he has succeeded, triumphantly so, in that no one dares challenge his obviously failed policies any more. However, like King Canute, he has not realised that he has not in fact stopped the tide, but just that at the moment it is at low ebb. Soon enough it will come rushing in again and swamp him and his foolish, arrogant policies.

62% of Greeks daring to vote NO! despite all the terrible threats they were showered with, Jeremy Corbyn winning the Labour Party leadership despite all the hysteria against him, even the alarming rise of Donald Trump in the US but also the totally unexpected results for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Party all attest to this.

The tide is turning, the tide will turn because no one can stop it. The only question is how violent will things become? The more one tries to stop the flow of nature, the more violent the explosion when the dam bursts.

When Dr Schauble’s puny little dam smashes from the accumulated pressure against it, as it surely will, the violence will depend on just how much water, dissent, he has managed to bottle up before it all comes cascading violently down over him, possibly uprooting the whole EU edifice with it.

If that is what Dr Schauble ultimately wants, he ought to be very pleased with himself. As most short sighted and complacent mediocre rulers usually are. Till it is too late.

 

 

 

 

 

The Greek Elections

This is something like a bad joke. We had elections in January, a referendum in July and now fresh (or rather stale) elections again now in September.

The first thing we have to ask, is what are these elections in aid of? To from a new government? To broaden support for the bail out agreement, (as some Euromasters are hilariously claiming) or what?

There is absolutely no need for a general election in Greece today. Our gallant PM Alexis Tsipras has already signed away all Greek sovereignty. A primary term of this agreement is that NO decision, NO proposal for a law, NO action will be taken by the Greek government without prior permission from the Euromasters.

So in effect there is no point in having a Greek government at all let alone bothering to vote for one. Mr Tsipras would have been better advised to disband the Greek government entirely and hand over the keys to Ministries and everything else directly to the Euromasters who will be ruling their debt colony anyway.

This will achieve an important cutting down of public expenses, since now the Greek taxpayer must not only pay for his Ministers, staff etc, but also for the troika (tetratroika, pentatrokia or whatever) ones too. In this way it will save on the expense of paying for the Greek government, staff, officials etc, which are very costly, with their perks and utterly superfluous.

And while we are on cost cutting why not just abolish Parliament as well. Again it is of no use and costs too much, since all decision will be taken by said troika and Parliament is just there to rubber stamp everything without even knowing what it is approving. So again why pay so much for something as useless as that?

And finally the wretched Greek electorate has gone blue in the face voting against all this nonsense, not least in the referendum, only to be utterly ignored. And to add insult to injury the Euromasters are now arrogantly crowing that the Greek elections are not part of the crisis but part of the solution because support for the Bail Out will broaden.

Now, I fail to comprehend how a population which voted by a resounding 61% against austerity will suddenly become enamoured of the very thing that has ruined it and that it detests. Oh well, Euro illogic here again too.

Having said that I believe the Schauble Plan for Greece is working perfectly. Objective 1, Get rid of the Radical Left wing government, Objective 2, failing that then humiliate them and split them and get them to grovel and accept terrible terms as an example to any other upstarts in the realm. Objective 2 has been achieved with flying colours. Tsipras has just gone and proved to all whom it may concern that There Is No Alternative. So don’t you dare cross the Master!

Object 3 is of course Grexit. Which Tsipras had also just signed, whether knowingly or not. Schauble’s “line by line” scrutiny, his magnanimity in giving Greece “a chance” now that Tsipras has seen sense even though “it is uncertain whether the bail out will succeed” shows beyond any doubt that the whole thing has been designed to fail and that this failure will of course lead to a Grexit for which the Puppet Greek government (whoever it may be) will be blamed.

Which is why none of the Euromasters led by Germany are not at all worried about the result of elections in Greece.

« Older posts

© 2017 Parina

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑