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Not with a Bang, but a Whimper . . . .

The “EU Eth­ic”

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash dri­ve that can be obtained here. (The flash dri­ve includes the anti-fas­cist books avail­able on this site.)

Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s pro­pa­ganda chief, once said: ‘In 50 years’ time nobody will think of nation states.’

NB: Updat­ed on 4/26/2013.

COMMENT: In recent years, we’ve been treat­ed to plen­ty of right-wing con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about “One World Government/New World Order” etc. Inton­ing about the loom­ing apoc­a­lypse in which the Unit­ed Nations would take over the Unit­ed States using Russ­ian troops, guid­ed by secret direc­tions on the back of traf­fic signs, they have gar­nered a sur­pris­ing degree of atten­tion.

Mean­while a very real ero­sion of nation­al sov­er­eign­ty and per­son­al lib­er­ty is tak­ing place under our noses in Europe. In Europe, the nation-state is being forced into obso­les­cence, and there is lit­tle dis­cus­sion of this stag­ger­ing devel­op­ment.

Instead, we are hear­ing about the Boston bomb­ing, gay mar­riage, the sequester, Korea and the “usu­al sus­pects,” the Kar­dashi­an fam­i­ly and the oth­er denizens of the Tabloid Empire.

With the cit­i­zens of Greece hav­ing had the neo-fas­cist LAOS par­ty installed by fiat, cour­tesy of the “troi­ka,” and with the Ger­man gov­ern­ment hav­ing reviewed the Irish bud­get BEFORE that coun­try’s par­lia­ment had seen it, fun­da­men­tal incur­sions on sov­er­eign­ty are becom­ing rou­tine with rel­a­tive­ly lit­tle notice. (Pho­to cred­it at right: TattooArtists.org.)

Der Siegel makes an ass out of itself

Angela Merkel has for­mal­ly stat­ed that EU mem­bers must sur­ren­der sov­er­eign­ty on fis­cal mat­ters. Qui­et­ly, the EU is turn­ing to con­trol­ling media, while Europol, its police force, has suc­cess­ful­ly tak­en a num­ber of steps that many would see as intru­sive, with lit­tle or no real appli­ca­tion to law enforce­ment.

We find the media com­po­nent of the EU’s reg­u­la­to­ry machin­ery to be par­tic­u­lar­ly omi­nous. Note the recent New York Times sto­ry below, the lat­est in a series of arti­cles that have sur­faced about how des­per­ate things have got­ten in Greece.

Der Spiegel recent­ly float­ed a dis­in­for­ma­tion piece about Ger­mans being poor­er than the cit­i­zens of south­ern Europe. In the future, might we see sto­ries like the Times piece cen­sored, because such things are deemed to be “bad” for aus­ter­i­ty.

There has been much talk of the cur­tail­ing of pri­va­cy and civ­il lib­er­ties in the wake of 9/11. Sov­er­eign nations can–theoretically–reverse course at any time and imple­ment leg­isla­tive and exec­u­tive ini­tia­tives to cor­rect imbal­ances of any kind. 

How would one go about cor­rect­ing the impo­si­tion of anti-demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions by for­eign nations?

Amer­i­cans should be aware of the pos­si­bil­i­ties here. Could a future trade pact between Europe and the U.S. rope Amer­i­ca into the Ger­man straight jack­et?

Oh, and why DID Ger­many just move its gold bul­lion reserves out of Amer­i­can and British vaults? What do they have in mind?

“Merkel Says Euro Mem­bers Must Be Pre­pared to Cede Sov­er­eign­ty” by Noah Barkin; Reuters; 4/22/2013.

EXCERPT: Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel said on Mon­day that euro zone mem­bers must be pre­pared to cede con­trol over cer­tain pol­i­cy domains to Euro­pean insti­tu­tions if the bloc is tru­ly to over­come its debt cri­sis and win back for­eign investors.

Speak­ing at an event host­ed by Deutsche Bank in Berlin along­side Pol­ish Prime Min­is­ter Don­ald Tusk, Merkel also defend­ed her approach to the cri­sis against crit­ics who argue she has put too much empha­sis on aus­ter­i­ty, say­ing Europe must find a way to deliv­er both growth and sol­id finances.

The com­ments came two months before Euro­pean lead­ers are due to gath­er in Brus­sels to dis­cuss mov­ing towards a so-called “fis­cal union.

Expec­ta­tions are low, in part because an eas­ing of the cri­sis has reduced pres­sure on lead­ers to pro­duce a big leap for­ward in inte­gra­tion, but also due to dif­fer­ences between Ger­many and its part­ners, notably France, over the next steps.

“We seem to find com­mon solu­tions when we are star­ing over the abyss,” Merkel said. “But as soon as the pres­sure eas­es, peo­ple say they want to go their own way.

“We need to be ready to accept that Europe has the last word in cer­tain areas. Oth­er­wise we won’t be able to con­tin­ue to build Europe,” she added.
Tusk said it would be “dan­ger­ous” if oth­er coun­tries in Europe felt Ger­many was impos­ing its own eco­nom­ic mod­el across the entire bloc. . . .

“New EU Gestapo Spies on Britons ” by Mary Reynolds; Dai­ly Express; 3/26/2010.

EXCERPT: Europol can access per­son­al infor­ma­tion on any­one – includ­ing their polit­i­cal opin­ions and sex­u­al pref­er­ences – if it sus­pects, right­ly or wrong­ly, that they may be involved in any “prepara­to­ry act” which could lead to crim­i­nal activ­i­ty.

The vague­ness of the Hague-based force’s remit sparked furi­ous protests yes­ter­day with crit­ics warn­ing that the EU snoop­ers threat­en our right to free speech. . . .

. . . . Until Jan­u­ary 1, Europol was a police office fund­ed by var­i­ous states to help tack­le inter­na­tion­al organ­ised crime. But it has been reborn as the offi­cial crim­i­nal intel­li­gence-gath­er­ing arm of the EU and Brus­sels has vast­ly increased its pow­ers.

It can now tar­get more than sim­ply organ­ised crime and the bur­den of proof required to begin mon­i­tor­ing an indi­vid­ual has been down­grad­ed.
Europol has also been absorbed into the EU super­struc­ture, so it will be cen­tral­ly fund­ed, sweep­ing away a key check on its inde­pen­dence.

Cam­paign­ers last night expressed con­cern over the vague list of “seri­ous crimes” which the agency can help inves­ti­gate, which include racism and xeno­pho­bia, envi­ron­men­tal crime and cor­rup­tion. Among per­son­al details that can be gath­ered and stored are “behav­iour­al data” includ­ing “lifestyle and rou­tine; move­ments; places fre­quent­ed”, tax posi­tion and pro­files of DNA and voice.

Where rel­e­vant, Europol will also be able to keep data on a person’s “polit­i­cal opin­ions, reli­gious or philo­soph­i­cal beliefs or trade union mem­ber­ship and data con­cern­ing health or sex life”.

Sean Gabb, direc­tor of the Lib­er­tar­i­an Alliance, warned that it threat­ened our right to free speech.

“It doesn’t sur­prise me that Europol has been hand­ed these rather fright­en­ing pow­ers,” he said. “We now live in a pan-Euro­pean state so it was to be expect­ed that it would have a fed­er­al police force with pow­ers over us.

“There is a real dan­ger that oppo­si­tion to EU poli­cies could make an indi­vid­ual liable to arrest. . . .

“EU Uses Pub­lic Cash to Back Groups that Want to Sti­fle Press Free­dom” by Daniel Mar­tin; Dai­ly Mail [UK]; 4/14/2013.

EXCERPT: Brus­sels is pump­ing mil­lions of pounds of pub­lic mon­ey into groups ded­i­cat­ed to sti­fling a free Press, it emerged yes­ter­day.

The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is help­ing to fund groups seek­ing state-backed reg­u­la­tion of news­pa­pers, includ­ing key allies of Hugh Grant’s Hacked Off cam­paign.

One – called Medi­a­dem – has a mis­sion state­ment to ‘reclaim a free and inde­pen­dent media’ and is demand­ing tougher sanc­tions than ‘an apol­o­gy or cor­rec­tion’.

The EU has spent £2.3million on the pre­vi­ous­ly unpub­li­cised project.

The com­mis­sion says it wants to be a ‘moral com­pass’ against press mis­con­duct and is seek­ing new nation­al and Europe-wide reg­u­la­to­ry pow­ers against news­pa­pers.

But crit­ics say it is only tak­ing such a stance because of the unfavourable cov­er­age that Euro­pean insti­tu­tions get in the Press.

Philip Davies, a Tory mem­ber of the Cul­ture Select Com­mit­tee, said: ‘Giv­en the scan­dals in the EU and rev­e­la­tions of its mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of fund­ing, it is no sur­prise that Europe wants to restrict the free press which can uncov­er its cor­rup­tion. . . .

“Euro­pean Union Spend­ing Mil­lions to Silence Crit­ics” by Samuel Westrop; The Gate­stone Insti­tute; 4/254/2013.

EXCERPT: Audi­tors have refused to sign off on EU accounts for 18 years in a row, and EU offi­cials have been sacked for expos­ing cor­rup­tion and fraud with­in the vast bureau­cra­cy.

The Euro­pean Union (EU) is pour­ing mil­lions of pounds into orga­ni­za­tions that advo­cate state con­trol of the press. For many, the fund­ing — uncov­ered recent­ly by Tele­graph jour­nal­ist Andrew Gilli­gan — is yet fur­ther evi­dence of the EU’s increas­ing­ly Orwellian, author­i­tar­i­an nature. . . .

. . . . One recip­i­ent of Euro­pean tax­pay­ers’ mon­ey, Medi­a­dem, for exam­ple, has been giv­en 2.3 mil­lion pounds. Medi­a­dem describes its mis­sion as work­ing to “reclaim a free and inde­pen­dent media.” Address­ing the top­i­cal issue of how to restruc­ture the sys­tem of redress for those wrong­ful­ly accused or defamed by news­pa­pers, Medi­a­dem rec­om­mends the “impo­si­tion of sanc­tions beyond an apol­o­gy or cor­rec­tion” and the “co-ordi­na­tion of the jour­nal­is­tic pro­fes­sion at the Euro­pean lev­el.”

Medi­adem’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Dr Crau­furd Smith, has writ­ten, “Lib­er­al con­cep­tions of media free­dom focus on edi­to­r­i­al free­dom for gov­ern­ment inter­fer­ence.... [how­ev­er] states may also be required to take pos­i­tive mea­sures to cur­tail the influ­ence of pow­er­ful eco­nom­ic or polit­i­cal groups.... this entails that nei­ther the media, nor those indi­vid­u­als who own or work for the media, enjoy an absolute right to free­dom of expres­sion.”

This is not the first time the EU has sought to con­trol free­dom of expres­sion. In 2001, the Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice ruled that the EU was allowed to sup­press polit­i­cal crit­i­cism of its insti­tu­tions and of lead­ing fig­ures. The court ruled that the EU was law­ful­ly allowed to pun­ish indi­vid­u­als who “dam­aged the insti­tu­tion’s image and rep­u­ta­tion.”

The Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice is the EU’s high­est court. Its advo­cate gen­er­al, Dama­so Ruiz-Jarabo Colom­er, had pre­vi­ous­ly argued that a book crit­i­ciz­ing EU finan­cial pol­i­cy was akin to extreme blas­phe­my, and thus not pro­tect­ed by free speech laws.

The attack against free­dom of expres­sion has extend­ed to eco­nom­ic infor­ma­tion. In 2011, an EU offi­cial pro­posed a ban on the issu­ing of sov­er­eign cred­it rat­ings for coun­tries in bailout talks. Michel Barnier, a Euro­pean inter­nal mar­ket com­mis­sion­er, said, “I think it’s legit­i­mate to have a spe­cial treat­ment when a coun­try is in nego­ti­a­tion or is cov­ered by an inter­na­tion­al sol­i­dar­i­ty pro­gram with the IMF or a Euro­pean sol­i­dar­i­ty”.

“Ger­mans Poor­er than Cypri­ots” by Bojan Pancevs­ki; Sun­day Times [UK]; 4/21/2013.

EXCERPT: Angela Merkel has come under intense pres­sure ahead of September’s elec­tion over a study that shows Ger­mans are poor­er than the south­ern Euro­peans bailed out in large part by the Ger­man tax­pay­er.

The study, by the Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank (ECB), revealed that the aver­age Ger­man house­hold is poor­er than those in coun­tries such as Cyprus, Spain and Greece.

A Ger­man house­hold, accord­ing to the ECB research, has assets of €195,000 (£167,000). That fig­ure is more than three times high­er in Cyprus, the lat­est euro­zone coun­try to receive a bailout, where the aver­age net wealth of house­holds amounts to €671,000 (£575,000).

The news prompt­ed a back­lash in the Ger­man press. The best­selling tabloid Bild ran a series of arti­cles with head­lines such as “Bank­rupt Cypri­ots earn more than Ger­mans!”. . . .

“More Chil­dren in Greece Are Going Hungry“by Liz Alder­man; The New York Times; 4/17/2013.

EXCERPT: As an ele­men­tary school prin­ci­pal, Leonidas Nikas is used to see­ing chil­dren play, laugh and dream about the future. But recent­ly he has seen some­thing alto­gether dif­fer­ent, some­thing he thought was impos­si­ble in Greece: chil­dren pick­ing through school trash cans for food; needy young­sters ask­ing play­mates for left­overs; and an 11-year-old boy, Pan­telis Petrakis, bent over with hunger pains.

“He had eat­en almost noth­ing at home,” Mr. Nikas said, sit­ting in his cramped school office near the port of Piraeus, a work­ing-class sub­urb of Athens, as the sound of a jump rope skit­tered across the play­ground. He con­fronted Pantelis’s par­ents, who were ashamed and embar­rassed but admit­ted that they had not been able to find work for months. Their sav­ings were gone, and they were liv­ing on rations of pas­ta and ketchup.

“Not in my wildest dreams would I expect to see the sit­u­a­tion we are in,” Mr. Nikas said. “We have reached a point where chil­dren in Greece are com­ing to school hun­gry. Today, fam­i­lies have dif­fi­cul­ties not only of employ­ment, but of sur­vival.”

The Greek econ­omy is in free fall, hav­ing shrunk by 20 per­cent in the past five years. The unem­ploy­ment rate is more than 27 per­cent, the high­est in Europe, and 6 of 10 job seek­ers say they have not worked in more than a year. Those dry sta­tis­tics are reshap­ing the lives of Greek fam­i­lies with chil­dren, more of whom are arriv­ing at schools hun­gry or under­fed, even mal­nour­ished, accord­ing to pri­vate groups and the gov­ern­ment itself.

Last year, an esti­mated 10 per­cent of Greek ele­men­tary and mid­dle school stu­dents suf­fered from what pub­lic health pro­fes­sion­als call “food inse­cu­rity,” mean­ing they faced hunger or the risk of it, said Dr. Athena Linos, a pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­sity of Athens Med­ical School who also heads a food assis­tance pro­gram at Pro­lep­sis, a non­govern­men­tal pub­lic health group that has stud­ied the sit­u­a­tion. “When it comes to food inse­cu­rity, Greece has now fall­en to the lev­el of some African coun­tries,” she said. . . .

 

Discussion

4 comments for “Not with a Bang, but a Whimper . . . .”

  1. Now that the the­o­ret­i­cal jus­ti­fi­ca­tions for aus­ter­i­ty-onom­ics have been oblit­er­at­ed, it looks like we saw some sort of PR push­back in Europe this week as the usu­al sus­pects con­tin­ue to dou­ble-down on why more aus­ter­i­ty is the only way for­ward. As part of that PR push, one of the argu­ments we’re hear­ing is that aus­ter­i­ty alone can’t do get the job done. Instead, the only way for­ward for the ail­ing euro­zone economies is to see the pri­vate sec­tor dri­ve eco­nom­ic growth and for that to hap­pen we need aus­ter­i­ty AND “reforms”. Those reforms, it turns out, appear to look a lot like the same “aus­ter­i­ty” poli­cies we’ve been see­ing all along. “Expan­sion­ary aus­ter­i­ty”, as we’re learn­ing, was nev­er about expand­ing the econ­o­my. It was about expand­ing the aus­ter­i­ty:

    Ger­many’s Merkel: aus­ter­i­ty is part of solu­tion to Europe’s prob­lems, but reforms need­ed too
    Pub­lished April 26, 2013

    Asso­ci­at­ed Press

    BERLIN – Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel has under­lined Ger­many’s insis­tence that aus­ter­i­ty is part of the solu­tion to Europe’s finan­cial cri­sis but empha­sized that reforms to make labor laws more flex­i­ble and encour­age pri­vate invest­ment also are essen­tial.

    Calls are mount­ing across Europe for Berlin to relent on an aus­ter­i­ty dri­ve that’s become increas­ing­ly unpop­u­lar in oth­er coun­tries.

    Merkel told a busi­ness con­fer­ence Fri­day that there’s much talk in Europe of growth “but some­times the under­stand­ing is that there can only be growth when the state invests.” She said that nor­mal­ly pri­vate invest­ment dri­ves growth.

    Merkel argued that reform­ing Europe “is not just a ques­tion of aus­ter­i­ty, as it’s called today.” See­ing through oth­er eco­nom­ic reforms is also nec­es­sary, she said.

    One of the open ques­tions in this entire eurode­ba­cle is just how much resent­ment and con­tempt will be devel­oped between euro­zone mem­ber nations if these poli­cies just con­tin­ue to drag on and on (or there’s a renewed mega-cri­sis) because based on what we’re hear­ing out of Berlin there’s pret­ty much no rea­son to assume eco­nom­ic stag­na­tion isn’t con­tin­ue to con­tin­ue for years. Is there going to be any trans-con­ti­nen­tal good­will left at the end of this? After all, was­n’t build­ing a sense of Euro­pean iden­ti­ty and a shared future half the rea­son for cre­at­ing the entire EU and euro­zone in the first place? Well, based on Wolf­gang Schauble’s recent com­ments it looks like maybe there is a plan to address this inevitable col­lapse of con­fi­dence in each oth­er: Wait it out, because you know that at some point the pro­les are going to for­give and for­get. It remains to be seen if lobot­o­mies will be required for this approach to work:

    AFP
    Schäu­ble: Cypri­ot anger at Ger­many will pass

    Pub­lished: 28 Mar 13 14:01 CET

    Ger­man Finance Min­is­ter Wolf­gang Schäu­ble said Thurs­day that he under­stood Cypri­ot anger over the tough terms of its inter­na­tion­al bailout but said it would fade even­tu­al­ly.

    When times are very tough “then you look for some­one to project your anger onto,” he told local radio broad­cast­er SWR2, when asked about pub­lic ire in Cyprus against Ger­many, the Euro­pean Union and the Inter­na­tion­al Mon­e­tary Fund.

    “That will pass. It is of course com­plete­ly unfound­ed,” he added.

    ...

    Ris­ing anger against Ger­many as the pay­mas­ter for euro­zone bailout pack­ages and its most influ­en­tial mem­ber state has rat­tled offi­cials in Berlin.

    Demon­stra­tors on the streets of Nicosia bran­dish­ing posters depict­ing Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel as an Adolf Hitler fig­ure bent on Euro­pean dom­i­na­tion have received wide media cov­er­age.

    Ger­man Jus­tice Min­is­ter Sabine Leutheuss­er-Schnar­ren­berg­er was quot­ed Wednes­day as say­ing that Euro­pean Com­mis­sion chief Jose Manuel Bar­roso and EU Pres­i­dent Her­man Van Rompuy ought to help rein in anti-Ger­man sen­ti­ment.

    “Ger­many is show­ing sol­i­dar­i­ty so that in the end the cri­sis coun­tries have a future,” she told Munich’s dai­ly Merkur.

    “So I would indeed ask that the peo­ple at the top – the Com­mis­sion pres­i­dent and the Coun­cil pres­i­dent – demon­strate sol­i­dar­i­ty with us and defend the Ger­mans against unjus­ti­fied accu­sa­tions,” she con­clud­ed.

    “That will pass. It is of course com­plete­ly unfound­ed.” Wait­ing out the anger might seem like kind of a crazy plan con­sid­er­ing the years of stress that some of these nations are going through, but maybe it’s not so crazy:

    Glob­al Post
    Ice­land elec­tion looks set to turn the coun­try back to the right
    Char­lotte McDon­ald-Gib­son April 26, 2013 06:00

    Despite being the par­ties blamed for dri­ving them to the brink, Ice­landers are wide­ly pre­dict­ed to elect cen­ter-right lead­ers in Saturday’s key par­lia­men­tary vote.

    BRUSSELS, Bel­gium — For a coun­try as depen­dent on fish­ing as Ice­land, the image is harsh but apt. “Mem­o­ries like gold­fish,” says polit­i­cal ana­lyst Sil­la Sig­urgeirs­dot­tir as she tries to explain why some Ice­landers might on Sat­ur­day vote for the par­ties blamed for the 2008 bank­ing col­lapse.

    Hor­dur Tor­fa­son, a pop­u­lar Ice­landic folk singer, is more forth­right: “I don’t believe that peo­ple are so stu­pid as to vote for these par­ties.”

    The polls, how­ev­er, paint a dif­fer­ent pic­ture. Par­lia­men­tary elec­tions this week­end are fore­cast to deliv­er a sting­ing rejec­tion of the cen­ter-left coali­tion led by Johan­na Sig­ur­dar­d­ot­tir, in anoth­er sign that Europe’s vot­ers are tir­ing of the finan­cial hard­ships gov­ern­ments demand of them as they try to get the economies back on track.

    Ice­landers are instead expect­ed to flock back to two cen­ter-right par­ties — the Pro­gres­sive Par­ty and the Inde­pen­dence Par­ty — whose poli­cies of finan­cial dereg­u­la­tion were blamed for the col­lapse of the three largest banks, a default on $85 bil­lion of debt, and the nation’s worst reces­sion in decades.

    “Peo­ple are strug­gling, and this group of peo­ple — main­ly mid­dle class — think that this gov­ern­ment has not done enough for them,” says Sig­urgeirs­dot­tir, a polit­i­cal sci­ence lec­tur­er at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ice­land.

    ...

    That the par­tic­u­lar oppo­si­tion par­ty now cam­paign­ing as the cham­pi­on of ordi­nary fam­i­lies is the par­ty whose poli­cies helped the nation accu­mu­late its crip­pling debt is an irony not lost on Sig­urgeirs­dot­tir.

    “Peo­ple tend to for­get [that] it was the Pro­gres­sive Par­ty who offered in the 2003 cam­paign to raise the mort­gage lev­el up to 90 per­cent of the mar­ket price, and the house­holds now strug­gling are strug­gling because of that pol­i­cy,” she says. “And now they [the Pro­gres­sive Par­ty] say they are going to lift your bur­den.”

    The Pro­gres­sive Par­ty leader, Sig­mundur David Gunnlaugs­son, has said he will force for­eign cred­i­tors to take a hair­cut on some of their frozen invest­ments and use the mon­ey to fund a cut in peo­ple’s mort­gages. Under­stand­ably, this pol­i­cy strikes a chord with vot­ers, even if econ­o­mists warn that it could back­fire and scare off fur­ther for­eign invest­ment.

    Ana­lysts say the cap­i­tal con­trols mea­sures will be a key issue for any new gov­ern­ment. Busi­ness­es com­plain that the strin­gent restric­tions are pre­vent­ing invest­ment, but lift­ing them could spark a sud­den out­flow of cap­i­tal, caus­ing the kro­na to deval­ue fur­ther.

    The Inde­pen­dence Par­ty has vowed to lift the con­trols and low­er tax­es. Its leader, Bjarni Benedik­ts­son, told the Finan­cial Times the con­trols “are like a ban­ner over Ice­land say­ing that the peo­ple don’t believe in their cur­ren­cy.”

    Sig­ur­dar­d­ot­tir, Iceland’s first female leader and the first open­ly gay prime min­is­ter in Europe, is pop­u­lar and wide­ly respect­ed, but she announced last year that she would not run for re-elec­tion.

    Her Social Demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ty is wide­ly seen to have mis­read the pub­lic mood and cam­paigned on join­ing the Euro­pean Union.

    The emer­gence of small­er protest par­ties, like the ones that trans­formed Italy’s polit­i­cal land­scape ear­li­er this year, has also split the vote on the left, where many peo­ple are dis­ap­point­ed that the gov­ern­ment did not push through con­sti­tu­tion­al reform.

    Polls sug­gest sup­port for the Social Democ­rats may drop to as low as 14 per­cent. The Pro­gres­sive Par­ty is pro­ject­ed to get up to 30 per­cent of the vote, and the Inde­pen­dence Par­ty a lit­tle less. That rais­es the like­li­hood of exact­ly the same Pro­gres­sive-Inde­pen­dence coali­tion that ruled Ice­land in the boom years from 1995 to 2007, which even­tu­al­ly led to the cat­a­stroph­ic bust.

    That is almost unthink­able to the activists like Tor­fa­son. “Some­times humans have to walk into the wall and break our nose before we under­stand what we are doing,” he says. “I’m just hop­ing it will not hap­pen, but if it does hap­pen, I think I will have to move away.”

    What’s that clas­sic H. L. Menck­en quote? No one ever went broke underestimating...something something...I for­get the rest.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 26, 2013, 1:27 pm
  2. http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3684/eu-propaganda

    Euro­pean Union Spend­ing Mil­lions to Silence Crit­ics

    by Samuel Westrop
    April 25, 2013 at 5:00 am

    Audi­tors have refused to sign off on EU accounts for 18 years in a row, and EU offi­cials have been sacked for expos­ing cor­rup­tion and fraud with­in the vast bureau­cra­cy.

    The Euro­pean Union (EU) is pour­ing mil­lions of pounds into orga­ni­za­tions that advo­cate state con­trol of the press. For many, the fund­ing — uncov­ered recent­ly by Tele­graph jour­nal­ist Andrew Gilli­gan — is yet fur­ther evi­dence of the EU’s increas­ing­ly Orwellian, author­i­tar­i­an nature. The Sovi­et dis­si­dent Vladimir Bukovsky has for years referred to the orga­ni­za­tion as the EUSSR.

    One recip­i­ent of Euro­pean tax­pay­ers’ mon­ey, Medi­a­dem, for exam­ple, has been giv­en 2.3 mil­lion pounds. Medi­a­dem describes its mis­sion as work­ing to “reclaim a free and inde­pen­dent media.” Address­ing the top­i­cal issue of how to restruc­ture the sys­tem of redress for those wrong­ful­ly accused or defamed by news­pa­pers, Medi­a­dem rec­om­mends the “impo­si­tion of sanc­tions beyond an apol­o­gy or cor­rec­tion” and the “co-ordi­na­tion of the jour­nal­is­tic pro­fes­sion at the Euro­pean lev­el.”

    Medi­adem’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Dr Crau­furd Smith, has writ­ten, “Lib­er­al con­cep­tions of media free­dom focus on edi­to­r­i­al free­dom for gov­ern­ment inter­fer­ence.... [how­ev­er] states may also be required to take pos­i­tive mea­sures to cur­tail the influ­ence of pow­er­ful eco­nom­ic or polit­i­cal groups.... this entails that nei­ther the media, nor those indi­vid­u­als who own or work for the media, enjoy an absolute right to free­dom of expres­sion.”

    This is not the first time the EU has sought to con­trol free­dom of expres­sion. In 2001, the Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice ruled that the EU was allowed to sup­press polit­i­cal crit­i­cism of its insti­tu­tions and of lead­ing fig­ures. The court ruled that the EU was law­ful­ly allowed to pun­ish indi­vid­u­als who “dam­aged the insti­tu­tion’s image and rep­u­ta­tion.”

    The Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice is the EU’s high­est court. Its advo­cate gen­er­al, Dama­so Ruiz-Jarabo Colom­er, had pre­vi­ous­ly argued that a book crit­i­ciz­ing EU finan­cial pol­i­cy was akin to extreme blas­phe­my, and thus not pro­tect­ed by free speech laws.

    The attack against free­dom of expres­sion has extend­ed to eco­nom­ic infor­ma­tion. In 2011, an EU offi­cial pro­posed a ban on the issu­ing of sov­er­eign cred­it rat­ings for coun­tries in bailout talks. Michel Barnier, a Euro­pean inter­nal mar­ket com­mis­sion­er, said, “I think it’s legit­i­mate to have a spe­cial treat­ment when a coun­try is in nego­ti­a­tion or is cov­ered by an inter­na­tion­al sol­i­dar­i­ty pro­gram with the IMF or a Euro­pean sol­i­dar­i­ty”.

    In the wake of the Leve­son Report, a British par­lia­men­tary inquiry into the “ethics of the Press,” an EU report called for tighter press reg­u­la­tion and demand­ed that the EU should be giv­en new pow­ers to enforce fines or the sack­ing of jour­nal­ists against errant media out­lets.

    Much of the EU’s keen­ness to inter­vene comes from its con­cern at the neg­a­tive cov­er­age it receives in the British press. When the EU is not propos­ing to reg­u­late the press, it is spend­ing vast sums on pro-EU adver­tis­ing. In 2012, the EU spent £682 mil­lion of British tax­pay­ers’ mon­ey on its enor­mous pub­lic rela­tions depart­ment.

    Some of this mon­ey has been fun­nelled into the cre­ation of “Cap­tain Euro.” an online chil­dren’s com­ic book, in which the inte­gra­tionist super-hero bat­tles against an “evil orga­ni­za­tion” that is “hard at work in the shad­ows.”

    Con­ser­v­a­tive MEP Daniel Han­nan has not­ed there is a whiff of anti-Semi­tism to the car­toon. The “ene­my” of Cap­tain Euro, called Dr Vider, has a promi­nent­ly hooked nose and uses the free mar­ket to make mon­ey, “no mat­ter if it might involve the suf­fer­ing of oth­ers.” It is fur­ther explained that, “Banned and ostracised from the finan­cial world for unpro­fes­sion­al con­duct he man­aged to escape arrest despite his involve­ment in finan­cial scan­dal.”

    An inter­nal EU report goes some way in explain­ing the fond­ness for com­ic books, by con­clud­ing, “Chil­dren can per­form a mes­sen­ger func­tion in con­vey­ing the mes­sage to the home envi­ron­ment. Young peo­ple will often in prac­tice act as go-betweens with the old­er gen­er­a­tions, help­ing them embrace the euro.”

    In 2012, the EU spent £106,000 on a video in which a white woman, dressed in EU col­ors, over­came threat­en­ing, dark-skinned mar­tial arts attack­ers. The video was with­drawn after com­plaints of racism. Fur­ther, var­i­ous EU youth groups have pro­duced music videos — in one of which, Euro­pean youths sing, “I am Euro­pean, and I love it to be, I am Euro­pean, it’s my des­tiny.”

    While the EU is hap­py to use the Inter­net to dis­sem­i­nate pro-EU pro­pa­gan­da, it also advo­cates the reg­u­la­tion of Inter­net con­tent. In 2012, the EU pro­posed the “har­mo­niza­tion” of laws across the 27 mem­ber-states to force web­sites to delete infor­ma­tion short­ly after con­sumers request its removal. The EU also funds a num­ber of a projects designed to explore cen­sor­ship of “ter­ror­ist” con­tent on the Inter­net.

    There is a joke in Brus­sels that if the Euro­pean Union were a coun­try apply­ing to join itself, it would be reject­ed on the grounds of being unde­mo­c­ra­t­ic. But it is not much of a joke. The EU is run by a body that com­bines leg­isla­tive and exec­u­tive pow­er, with an unelect­ed Pres­i­dent at the very top. Accord­ing to a recent Par­lia­men­tary report, wide­spread fraud has led to more than £4 bil­lion of tax­pay­er’s mon­ey “dis­ap­pear­ing” from the EU bud­get each year. Audi­tors have refused to sign off EU accounts for eigh­teen years in a row and EU offi­cials have been sacked for expos­ing cor­rup­tion and fraud with­in the vast bureau­cra­cy.

    The Euro­pean Union’s flaws are best summed up by Sholto Byrnes, who wrote in the Inde­pen­dent: “All it takes to have a pro­found sus­pi­cion of the EU and its greedy accre­tion of pow­ers is this: to believe in trans­paren­cy and account­abil­i­ty; to feel in your bones that sov­er­eign­ty should not be passed from nation state to inter­na­tion­al body with­out the vot­ers being con­sult­ed; and to desire that those vot­ers should be as close as pos­si­ble to the rep­re­sen­ta­tives they elect. To be, in oth­er words, a demo­c­rat.”

    Unable to coun­ter­act crit­i­cism of its fail­ings through mean­ing­ful reform, the Euro­pean Union is resort­ing to undis­guised pro­pa­gan­da and pro­posed reg­u­la­tion of its crit­ics.

    Posted by Vanfield | April 26, 2013, 3:31 pm
  3. You don’t have to teach an old dog new tricks if the old tricks still work. The small­er states out of which Ger­many was formed were sub­ju­gat­ed to the reich not by Bis­mar­ck­’s wars but by uni­form cus­toms laws. Loss of sov­er­eign­ty over finan­cial mat­ters is a total sur­ren­der of sov­er­eign­ty. EU coun­tries will get to keep their quaint names and dif­fer­ing col­ors on the map for all that those things are worth.

    Posted by Dwight | April 27, 2013, 4:05 pm
  4. It would be a lot more reas­sur­ing if the voic­es that are con­stant­ly demand­ing more point­less aus­ter­i­ty shout­ing inside the heads of EU law­mak­ers were just audi­to­ry hal­lu­ci­na­tions:

    Bloomberg
    Euro Cap­i­tals Tight­en Fis­cal Leash as EU Polices Cuts
    By Ian Wishart — Oct 17, 2013 4:04 AM CT

    In Madrid, the gov­ern­ment is par­ing spend­ing on roads and rails. In Rome, state prop­er­ty is to be sold off. In The Hague, law­mak­ers agreed to the sec­ond set of extra­or­di­nary cuts in two years.

    Even with the 17-nation euro area pro­ject­ing eco­nom­ic expan­sion next year for the first time since 2011, pol­i­cy mak­ers are keep­ing a fis­cal leash on growth by main­tain­ing aus­ter­i­ty poli­cies born in the fight to save the euro.

    That’s because for the first time offi­cials in Brus­sels will get to review spend­ing plans before they are approved by nation­al par­lia­ments. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, the Euro­pean Union’s reg­u­la­to­ry arm, was empow­ered to demand revi­sions in a bid to impose dis­ci­pline and encour­age coor­di­na­tion.

    “The pres­sure to con­tin­ue with aus­ter­i­ty is unabat­ed,” said Paul De Grauwe, a pro­fes­sor at the Lon­don School of Eco­nom­ics.

    While there are no new penal­ties built into the sys­tem, the EU says that by point­ing out flaws in the draft bud­gets that had to be sub­mit­ted by Oct. 15, gov­ern­ments can mend their ways.

    “Don’t under­es­ti­mate the impact of the upcom­ing so-called two-pack,” EU Pres­i­dent Her­man Van Rompuy said on Oct. 2 in Brus­sels, refer­ring to the two pieces of EU leg­is­la­tion that autho­rized the bud­get over­sight. “It won’t make Brus­sels more pop­u­lar in our cap­i­tals.”

    Demands for rig­or fol­low three years of euro-area cost-cut­ting that totaled 216.7 bil­lion euros ($293 bil­lion). That exceeds the size of the Greek econ­o­my.

    Pri­ma­ry Sur­plus­es

    Cycli­cal­ly adjust­ed pri­ma­ry-bal­ance fig­ures, a mea­sure of fis­cal health before inter­est expense that attempts to fac­tor out eco­nom­ic swings, show the sav­ings since 2010. The euro area moved from an aver­age deficit of 2.3 per­cent of gross domes­tic prod­uct in 2010 to what the EU fore­cast in May will be a pos­i­tive bal­ance of 1.7 per­cent of GDP at the end of 2013.

    In Ire­land, the cycli­cal­ly adjust­ed pri­ma­ry bal­ance will have moved from a deficit of 25.4 per­cent of GDP in 2010 to a 2.3 per­cent deficit in 2013, accord­ing to the EU fore­casts. Greece has seen a deficit of 2.6 per­cent in 2010 shift to a pre­dict­ed 6.3 per­cent of GDP pos­i­tive bal­ance in 2013.

    Still, fol­low­ing six quar­ters of con­trac­tion, the longest slump since the euro’s debut in 1999, the debt bur­den has only grown. As a per­cent­age of GDP, debt has increased across the sin­gle cur­ren­cy region to an aver­age of 92.2 per­cent after the first quar­ter of 2013 from 85.6 per­cent at the end of 2010.

    Debt Loads

    Even after the biggest sov­er­eign restruc­tur­ing ever, Greece’s load rose to 160.5 per­cent at the end of the first quar­ter of 2013 from 148.3 per­cent at the end of 2010. In the same peri­od, Italy’s rose to 130.3 per­cent from 119.3 per­cent.

    There has nev­er been a penal­ty imposed on a coun­try for exceed­ing the EU debt lim­it of 60 per­cent or its annu­al deficit ceil­ing of 3 per­cent.

    “In case there is a devi­a­tion from the Euro­pean com­mit­ments by a mem­ber state and the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion has to say ‘sor­ry guys, please revise your bud­getary plan,’ most like­ly the mar­ket reac­tion will be quite neg­a­tive,” Olli Rehn, the EU’s eco­nom­ic and mon­e­tary affairs com­mis­sion­er, told a con­fer­ence in Vil­nius via video link yes­ter­day. He said the goal of the com­mis­sion was to pro­vide pol­i­cy advice dur­ing the plan­ning process, not to “veto nation­al bud­gets.”

    The advice is being tak­en on board.

    ...

    “Peer pres­sure is only strong if the case is con­vinc­ing,” Sven Giegold, a Ger­man mem­ber of the Euro­pean Parliament’s eco­nom­ic and mon­e­tary affairs com­mit­tee that helped shape the leg­is­la­tion, said in a tele­phone inter­view. He’s con­cerned that a lack of con­sis­ten­cy in advice giv­en to coun­tries may under­mine bud­get cops’ cred­i­bil­i­ty.

    “Europe needs inte­gra­tion where com­pe­ten­cies are nation­al but not on an arbi­trary basis,” Giegold said.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 17, 2013, 11:36 am

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