Month: May 2016
It was while having a discussion with my daughter about the potential exit of Britain from the Eurozone (EU), that I thought, I’d put together a piece on the pluses and minuses, as I saw them.
EU – Why Join? Why Now? Why Ever?
I was a teenager, when Britain joined the “Common Market”. At the time, it seemed mature, internationalist, forward looking and thinking to be part of this Europe. A Europe, that had seen so many wars, stretching back centuries. The Napoleonic Wars, The Franco-Prussian War, The Wars in Spain, Austro-Hungaria, The Balkans, The Great War, and the war that engulfed the whole of Europe as a madman, attempted to build an empire; an empire that would last a thousand years and killed six million jews into the bargain.
We as a continent, needed to put this misery and bloodshed behind us. Only by unifying in a democratic whole, could we escape from our past – so it seemed.
Apparently, Britain had applied to join a good few years before it was eventually allowed in… Something about our individualist, capitalistic view of the world, empire, and commonwealth, perhaps persuaded French President – Charles de-Gaulle to push for keeping us out. Harold Wilson, wanted to join in 67, and also Supermac as he was known, Prime Minister Harold Macmillan back in 1961. On April 28, 1969, Charles de Gaulle, at 79 years old, retired permanently, and died the following year.
In 1972 Edward Heath, got us in and signed us up, as De-Gaulle, had given way to French President – Georges Pompidou, who had a better relationship with Britain, than his predecessor.
By 1975, 3 years later on, we were asked to vote on whether to remain as full members… I, along with the majority of the population voted “yes”. We, who had just come through three years of hell, as we had suffered 26.9% inflation, a 3-day working week due to electricity power cuts and strikes by coal-miners, council and power workers, two general elections in one year and by then this new fangled currency with 100 new pence, instead of the good old British Pounds, Shillings and Pennies – the world of thre’penny bits, “tanners”(sixpence), “Bobs”(shillings), “Half-Dollars” (as Half-crowns were called) and “Dollars” (5 shillings or a Crown)… The “Ten Bob Note” had already disappeared some years previously as we prepared for the 50 Pence piece that would replace it, and the Ten and 20 pence pieces. Old pennies were now 2.4X less value then their new peers, despite the size and metal content having been drastically reduced, and the new and distinctive 2 pence piece and 5 pence piece were introduced.
Did this change of currency on 15th February 1971, contribute to the inflation, that preparation for Common Market membership inevitably entailed? Did the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that was set up to protect German and Fench peasant and part-time farmers – a result of the heredity laws on the continent, also make food that much more expensive pushing inflation through to such levels after we joined? Probably, was the general consensus. Which begs the question… If it caused inflation then, why would it cause inflation if we left, when we could access world food prices and world food?
The Forty Years Since…
Once we had joined, and settled into our new status as fully fledged members of the statists association, we began to influence the club. But Germany too grew in power, as still subsidized by having the troops of four nations – French, British, American and Russian troops stationed on German soil meant that the Germans needn’t spend as much money on defending their nations – East and West. That money, not spent on foot-soldiers, corporals and sergeants, junior officers, colonels and generals, aircraft, flight crew, ships, sailors, officers, back office and logistics staff, could all be spent on engineering research, or building state of the art manufacturing facilities. Is that why Germany now has such dominance in engineering?
Though, one recently learned fact, suggests an alternative reason for Germany’s engineering dominance, but that is best left for an alternative blog.
The late 1970s saw some harsh realities when Prime Minister Jim Callaghan at the Labour Party conference in Blackpool scolded the party for its spendthrift ways and told them the country could no longer go on like it had… The reason? That year, the IMF had been called in to bail Britain out, from its free spending ways, and Chancellor Denis Healey, had had to return from his summer holiday to deal with the financial crisis, when Britain’s bondholders decided to sell en-masse their Bonds, and the government could no longer continue to outspend its income. (On a separate note, is this fate destined for the U.S.?)
This monetary crisis, though ultimately ushered in the now infamous Iron Lady as unemployment surged, and a prices and incomes policy was broken, by striking Ford workers, and Shell Tanker Drivers… Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher elected in the spring of 1979 brought us into a new reality, that would prepare us for the growth that the next 30 years would bring, painful though it would be. Britain re-elected her three times more, and her hand-bagging the Eurocrats, became part of her story – the stuff of legend, as she dragged the now European Economic Area into a more realistic future. But that wouldn’t be enough.
Labour’s Tony Blair, would ride into Downing street with the British economy, now in the best position it had been in, in almost 3 decades. Tony Blair, and Chancellor Gordon Brown, set about bringing the Labour Party out of its 70 year love affair with “taking control of the means of production for the people”, and using PFI, begun bringing Britain’s schools, and Hospitals into the 21st century, with a massive redevelopment of schools built in the 1930s, and hospitals, that were relics of Victorian and Edwardian England.
Gordon Brown would fund some of his free spending ways, by selling off half the nation’s gold reserves, selling off other state assets, raising taxes and borrowing heavily. When he took over in the tenth year of Tony’s reign, Gordon Brown would inherit a Britain pulling into a world where property prices had once again boomed, like the period from 1968 to 1972 as the baby-boomers became young adults, and started buying their first homes, and we were months away from a financial disaster – all forseeable by those with the right knowledge and experience..
Europe, had now become like big brother, extending its control into almost every corner of British Society. 1984, a novel by George Orwell, tells of a dystopian future where government surveils its citizens and controls their thoughts and actions. Written in 1948, Orwell suggests a world where we are like citizens of the former Soviet Union, but with the power to control us.
By late 2008, though it would be obvious that the Credit Crunch was not the usual, issue of a downturn in the market. Lax lending, a belief that the good times would continue forever, had led many politicians to conclude that they could control every aspect of our lives. Instead of leaving us to control our own lives, and spend our own money how we saw fit. Wars in southern Europe, and Afghanistan, then Iraq, and Libya would add to our economic woes as politicians thought they could spend, spend, spend, as Viv Nicholson, pools winner from the 1960s was famously quoted.
In the heat of this financial maelstrom, once again America would come to the aid of Europe, but this time not with ships, and tanks and men, but with $15 TRILLION in 0% loans to save the financial system loaned to 30 financial institutions. Lord James of Blackheath delivered his speech in the House of Lords, revealing this… But there is a price to pay…as the video below will reveal…
Why Brexit will help us back to a time of liberty, freedom, and individual merit…but we need to get out from under our Banking masters…
Here, below, we learn why Magna Carta, in 1215, set the tone, and nature of freedoms that we enjoyed for almost 800years, where the people held the power, subject to the “Law of the Land” whether in high office, or low station.
Since we joined the EEC, Britain’s role in the world, has been reduced… WHY?
Is this a deliberate policy? Here below, at the Daily Bell, they certainly think so…
Many believe that collaboration with our European, and American allies needs to be as a partner, not as servants to our masters.
Final Word on Brexit?
The reason so many large corporations/organisations want to stay in the EU, is because it makes it easy for them. Fortunately, in Britain, we speak the international language of Business the world over – English. As a member of the EU, if we comply with rules here, then the rest of Europe is just as easy… A few international instructions, on the packaging, and they’re good to go.
If you’re a professional person, with widely recognised qualifications, and in demand experience, the job prospects, are huge – essentially the whole of Europe.
However, if you’re a relatively low paid employee or even a middle income employee of a large corporation, then you are also at the competitive edge of several hundred million others looking for the similar work. In fact, those even with higher education and often high levels of qualifications, who cannot for whatever reason find work in their chosen field, are also competition for these low paid jobs – driving down wages even further. As Romania, Bulgaria, and potentially other eastern European nations – (Turkey, Ukraine?) join the EU, this can only drive down already low wages to the benefit of shareholders and business owners of large corporations.
Whether we stay or go, here in Britain, we need to recognise the pitfalls and potential of our choice, and do more to expand our horizons. Would that be easier outside the EU zone? Will there be pitfalls if we do? Probably, is the answer. But will it be worth it? I believe so.
Thomas Jefferson, believed that government was the greatest threat to individuals, and in drafting, and then framing the American Constitution, based on the tenets written down 500 years before in the Magna Carta, he had this to say…
“I hold it, that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”
Perhaps it is time to follow Jefferson’s urging…
These last few days, I have been catching up on events around the world, and trying to keep up with events here at home, as they impact the economy, and political scene when I got to read the piece posted below.
It is of relevance to re-post it here, because not only is it a prime example of U.S. foreign policy, which appears to want to control everything to allow those in the echelons of power in that country, to seek to maintain their grip on power, and the levers of the economy for their own ends – i.e. The Bankers. and their servants – The Politicians, and the military machine, that needs resources to maintain its jackboot on the neck of the poor working slobs who are required to pay taxes to support this agenda, and to repay the national debt (with profits) to these snakes in the financial background.
Read on…From the Ron Paul Institute.
US Ambassador to Hungary, Coleen Bell
If anyone wants a short course on what’s wrong with US diplomacy look no further than US Ambassador to Hungary Coleen Bell’s speech Friday to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Hungarian Parliament. In typical diplo-speak there was plenty of flowery language about shared values, fish swimming together in the same water (?), sappy poetics like “together, out of that winter, we would force the spring,” and talk of together being “part of the world’s greatest military and political alliance.”
But make no mistake: Inside Ambassador Bell’s velvet glove is an iron fist, poised to strike should Washington’s annoyingly independent-minded Fidesz-led government step out of line on the big issues. And by “big” issues it should be understood that the US means the issues it considers in the interests of its own foreign policy, not those in Hungary’s interest.
Message to Hungary: do as we say or you will be sorry.
Ambassador Bell’s previous job was as a television soap opera producer, but raising more than two million dollars for the election of Barack Obama “earned” her the position of top US diplomat in Hungary.
The former television producer does know how to deliver her lines, though. She lectured the Hungarians about Syria, explaining to them that ISIS and Assad are both equally evil and both equally to blame for the disaster that is Syria.
ISIS has flourished in Syria, she told the Hungarians, because it “exploits the chaos of civil war in Syria, a conflict that has now claimed more than 250,000 lives.” But she does not mention that it was US backing for “regime change” in Syria — beginning at least in 2006, as we learn from a critical Wikileaks-released US Embassy Damascus memo — that created that very chaos she blames for the rise of ISIS.
In fact it is propaganda to call what is happening in Syria a “civil war,” as the forces battling the Syrian government are all sponsored by foreign powers like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the US. It is a proxy war against the Syrian government, not a civil war.
She then tells the Hungarians ISIS will never be defeated in Syria until Assad is overthrown:
[W]e know we won’t be able to defeat Daesh in Syria unless we also deal with the civil war and particularly with Assad. Because as long as Assad is there, he remains the most powerful magnet for foreign fighters and recruits to Daesh.
Does she assume Hungarians are so stupid that they believe that by attacking and beating ISIS back nearly to Raqqa (with Russian assistance), the Syrian government of Assad is actually benefitting ISIS? Attacking ISIS means Assad is on the side of ISIS?
“Since February, the cessation of hostilities reduced the violence in Syria, allowing millions of Syrian civilians to take the first steps toward reclaiming a normal life,” says the Ambassador, without even mentioning what brought the ceasefire about in the first place: Russian participation along with the Syrian army in the decimation of al-Qaeda and ISIS positions in northwest and central Syria. In fact it is absolutely bizarre that in the world of Ambassador Bell (and the State Department hacks who drafted her speech), the Russian intervention against al-Qaeda and ISIS simply never took place or was too inconsequential to mention.
Is any Hungarian so ill-informed that he would believe such nonsense?
Bell used the tragedy in Syria to pressure Hungary on the (largely American-made) refugee crisis. Hungary’s firebrand prime minister, Viktor Orban, has, along with several of his central European counterparts, stood up to Brussels’ (and Washington’s) demands that Hungary take in tens of thousands of migrants who heeded German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s call to come to Europe and enjoy lots of free stuff.
Last month Orban told Hungarian Radio that if he accepts the EU migrant resettlement plan, “it would be determined not in Hungary but in Brussels who we have to live together with, and how the ethnic composition of the country will look in future.” He has rejected such a notion.
“Every sovereign nation has the right and an obligation to protect its borders,” Bell told the Hungarian Parliament, “But every nation, as a part of the international community, also has a fundamental obligation to help refugee populations seeking safety.”
Translation: your sovereignty is not determined by you, but rather by us. It is a practice articulated by Orwell in 1984 whereby a person can think two completely contradictory thoughts at the same time seemingly without any mental conflict.
But here is where the iron fist inside Bell’s velvet glove glints in the sun. She pointedly condemned the Hungarian government position by praising those in Hungary who hold the opposite view, i.e. the Hungarian opposition:
We commend the humanitarian spirit of Hungarian leaders, law enforcement and military personnel, and ordinary citizens who are responding to this crisis with generosity and compassion.
Then she gives Hungary Washington’s marching orders:
We continue to stress that any solution to these migration challenges should focus on saving and protecting lives, ensuring the human rights of all migrants are respected, and promoting orderly and humane migration policies. That includes the support of all Member State governments for the refugee agreement forged between the EU and Turkey.
Translation: Hungary must support the EU agreement with Turkey which would see tens of thousands of migrants settled in EU member countries, including Hungary itself. The problem is that the Hungarian parliamentexplicitly rejected Brussels’ forced migrant settlement plans for Hungary and plans to hold a nationwide referendum on the subject. Bell is saying here that Hungary’s elected representatives and even the Hungarian voter must be ignored and Brussels’ dictate obeyed.
When it comes to Russia, Ambassador Bell also has some instructions for Budapest: Moscow is your enemy and don’t you forget it.
She told Hungarian parliamentarians:
As many Hungarians have reminded me, you need no introduction to the nature of Russian aggression. Your response has always been to show resolve. Our best weapons, in fact, are resolve and solidarity.
Weapons? Quite a loaded word.
Orban has been seen in Washington as insufficiently enthused about sanctions on Russia, which hurt Hungarian trade and business interests. Ambassador Bell makes it clear that Hungary must adhere to US demands of Russia, even if they are completely incoherent:
As the United States and Hungary have both stated many times, Russia has a simple choice: fully implement Minsk or continue to face sanctions. Russia must withdraw weapons and troops from the Donbas; Russia must ensure that all Ukrainian hostages are returned; Russia must allow full humanitarian access to occupied territories; Russia must support free, fair, and internationally-monitored elections in the Donbas under Ukrainian law; and most important, Russia must restore Ukraine’s sovereignty.
That last point should be taken to mean that Russia must ignore the will of the people of Crimea who voted in overwhelming numbers to re-join Russia after just 25 years as part of independent Ukraine.
Not to worry, Ambassador Bell is confident that Budapest will do everything Washington tells it to do:
More than this, Hungary is equal to the great challenges of our times, and the United States is counting on you.
To stiffen their spine, US Ambassador Bell reminds the Hungarians that they are part of “our global order” and touts the great examples set by the US, including:
Our system of international economic, political, and social norms and institutions have kept the peace and fostered prosperity for decades. Whether it is international law, environmental protection, trade regulations, anticorruption laws, child labor laws, human rights safeguards, the nonproliferation regime, public health systems, international financial institutions, UN peacekeeping, or a robust civil society – these norms and institutions give life and stability to our global order.
In the era of NSA spying on innocent Americans, Guantanamo, CIA torture, weapons sales to the world’s worst dictators (Saudi Arabia for one),destruction of the environment by the US war machine, “regime change” operations that violate the sovereignty of other states, and outright aggression in opposition to US and international law (Libya, etc.), Bell’s suggestion that “our global order” is the pinnacle of civilization should get a laugh out of most Hungarians. In fact, from Libya to Syria to Ukriane to Pakistan and Afghanistan, the US interventionist attempt to forge a global order with blood and bullets will go down in history along with the authoritarianisms of the 20th century as one of humanity’s darkest chapters.
Here is the short version of Ambassador Bell to Budapest: “to be our partner means you do what we say whether or not it is in your interest.”
Funny, that was Moscow’s message to Budapest from 1948 to 1989.