Category Archives: EU

Spain And Portugal Pumped With Funny Money

Debt, Economy, EU, Europe

“The ingenuity, industry and activity of the ancient Greeks have nothing in common with the stupidity and indolence of the present inhabitants of those regions.” So said philosopher David Hume about modern-day Creeks.

The “land of moussaka, moochers and looters” and their Marxist leaders refuse to cease living on money borrowed from the more productive EU countries (Germany) .

“Greece,” marvels the Wall Street Journal, “has largely based its brinkmanship on an assumption that the eurozone will ultimately capitulate to its demands to prevent chaos spreading across the currency bloc.”

“Both Spain and Portugal are at risk from a Greek eurozone exit, but they have confidence their economies can withstand the shock.”

Yes, pumping funny money into the money markets has a way of inflating confidences.


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Europeans Are Germanophobic!

Britain, Debt, Economy, EU, Europe

The word for the hatred/fear of Germans is Germanophobia. Europeans are certainly guilty of this anti-German sentiment. It is rooted in, I believe, their jealousy of the workhorse of Europe: Germany. Moreover, these brazen haters seem to think that Germany’s distant, belligerent history makes the German people fair game for gratuitous hatred.

Duly, the programing note for today’s segment of BBC News’ HARDtalk promised that the host, Stephen Sackur, will be asking “the senior economic adviser to chancellor Angela Merkel if Germany has used its power wisely in the high stakes showdown over Greece’s debt.”

Sackur is a smart bloke with a slanted perspective. The segment was thus given over to the brutal bullying of a country that is carrying the deadweights of the EU: the PIIGS of the Eurozone—Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain—are living at the expense of their more industrious, austere neighbors to the north. Germany, in particular, is an industrial dynamo whose highly-skilled workforce produces technology in the first rank.

As Reuters reported, the “Euro zone finance ministers agreed in principle on Friday to extend Greece’s financial rescue by four months. … European Union paymaster Germany, Greece’s biggest creditor, had demanded ‘significant improvements’ in reform commitments by Athens before it would accept an extension of euro zone funding.”

AND:

BILD, Germany’s biggest tabloid and one of the highest-circulation newspapers in the world, is not happy about the support Germany’s political class is giving the Greek deal.

The Greeks have had a lot to say about their democratic right to reject the “deeply unpopular austerity measures.” What of the German people? Do they have a democratic right to refuse to be roped into working to support the Greeks?


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Land of Moussaka And Moochers

Debt, Economy, EU, Europe, Regulation

Greece is “in a world of its own” when it comes to debt as a percentage of GDP (165%, last I checked). The Greeks’ route to solvency has been … to elect a socialist, Alexis Tsipras, as their new prime minister. DER SPIEGEL summed up their hopes for the future: “… one has the feeling that the Greeks are hoping for a pink elephant that can play drums.”

Athens, like Washington, is corrupt to the core. It continues to spend more than it takes in. Greek labor markets have yet to be liberalized. A high minimum wage impedes hiring. And, by BBC News’s accounting, “a habit of paying a ‘holiday bonus’ equal to one or two months’ extra pay” persists. One need not be a Delphic oracle to divine the next stage in Greece’s unraveling.

Tsipras was asked: “… if the Germans elect a government that refuses all support to Greece, then that is their sovereign decision, right?”
He said: “No, you have to show solidarity, you have obligated yourselves to do so.

Taki Theodoracopulos suggests the following for the survival of Greece: “Most important are structural reforms, not feel-good bullshit. Public sector unions are choking the nation’s economy, whereas the private sector is booming. Starting a business is almost impossible due to bureaucratic blackmails, while overregulation is stifling economic activity. Free the economy and stop protecting cartels, shrink the state, and in five years Greece will be the Switzerland of the south.”

I have a few more suggestions:

Greeks constitute a high-cost and low-efficiency workforce. They cannot compete. Had they a moral and intellectual compass—and were allowed to chart their destinies—the people of Greece would opt to leave the Eurozone and the wider European Union (EU). Greeks could then reclaim their sovereignty. First, by reinstating the drachma, their ancient currency. Next, they could elect to float their exchange rates against those of EU member states so as to increase the appeal of lackluster Greek labor.


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UPDATED: Merkel’s Ironic Comment About European ‘Territorial Integrity’ (Ukraine)

EU, Europe, Federalism, Foreign Policy, Nationhood, The State

On the matter of the Ukraine crisis, and in particular, on whether to arm Ukraine, keeping in mind the dangers of “sparking a proxy war with Russia”—German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who met with Barack Obama today, said something rather curious:

Merkel said that abandoning the principle of territorial integrity at the heart of the Ukraine crisis posed a threat to the “peaceful order of Europe”.
“For somebody who comes from Europe, I can only say, if we give up this principle of territorial integrity, we will not be able to maintain the peaceful order of Europe,” she said. “It’s essential.”

Territorial integrity is just about all that remains of European national sovereignty under the Bismarckian suprastate that is the EU.

In the quest to engineer a single European identity, Eurocrats have substituted the nation-state with deracinated, supranational institutions. “The EU already has rights to legislate over external trade and customs policy, the internal market, the monetary policy of countries in the eurozone, agriculture and fisheries and many areas of domestic law including the environment and health and safety at work.” And the EU intends to “extend its rights into … justice policy, especially asylum and immigration,” and harmonize judicial practices.

The rhetoric about the free flow of goods, labor, and capital across borders is as credible as the verbiage about union for peace. The EU has mandated strictly regulated markets, privileging labor interests over those of capital, and instituted oppressive socialist labor laws and “unfair-competition” regulations that have hiked labor costs and resulted in structural unemployment.

Take The Czech Republic. Joseph Sima, associate professor at the Prague School of Economics, described the fate of his country since joining the EU as having gone “From the Bosom of Communism to the Central Control of EU Planners”: There’s the added dead weight of thousands of meddling mandarins, there’s the imperative to change local laws to fit EU decrees; to hike taxes, even liquidate duty free shops. There’s the burden on nascent businesses of prohibitive health and safety standards. (The right to work is not an EU-approved birthright.) There are subsidies and grants of monopoly to farmers. A regime of licenses now restricts entrepreneurial activity and blocks entry into assorted occupations. On hand to subdue any Czechoslovakian Martha Stewart is an army of SEC gendarmes, also by EU edict. As he photocopies his paper, Sima is reminded of the Association of Authors’ special copyright shakedown fee he must shell out at the copier—EU orders! (Corporeal property rights are barely protected under EU reign.)

A process of centralization has seen the people of Europe come under the control of the institutions of the European Union. The European Commission now proposes more than half of any given country’s laws, explained a Euroskeptic on RT’s Crosstalk. Eighty seven percent of Germany’s laws are handed down by the EU and 50 percent of the UK’s laws.

Liberty, of course, is associated with a dispersion of political power, never its concentration and centralization.

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UPDATE: According to Justin Raimondo, @Antiwar.com, Kiev refuses to tolerate the,

describing the conflict as a civil war rather than a Russian “invasion.” This is a point the authorities cannot tolerate: the same meme being relentlessly broadcast by the Western media – that an indigenous rebellion with substantial support is really a Russian plot to “subvert” Ukraine and reestablish the Warsaw Pact – now has the force of law in Ukraine. Anyone who contradicts it is subject to arrest.

And even

a dissident within [the Brookings Institution], former State Department official Jeremy Shapiro, … argues that the Ukrainian conflict is a civil war that cannot have a military solution, and is more than likely to provoke a dangerous military confrontation with Russia …

… The US has no business interfering in Ukraine’s civil war, and no legitimate security interest in the question of who gets to administer Crimea – which has been Russian since the days of Catherine the Great. The idea that we are going to confront Russia over this issue is dangerous nonsense – and, unfortunately, it is just the sort of nonsense politicians of both parties find hard to resist.

There are even some ostensible “libertarians” who can’t resist the temptation to refight the cold war, notably the voluble and well-placed NATO-tarian faction of “Students for Liberty” (SFL), who denounced Ron Paul for his supposedly “pro-Putin” (i.e. anti-interventionist) statements on Ukraine. Ron is appearing at their upcoming “International Conference,” with several of the loudest NATO-tarians in attendance: one hopes he’ll give them a good talking to, although perhaps a spanking is more appropriate for these noisy brats. These juvenile blatherskites claim “Compelling arguments can be made for both advocates of globalist and noninterventionist foreign policy positions,” but aver that “Ron Paul has crossed the line.” It is they who have crossed the line: no libertarian is or can be an advocate of a “globalist” foreign policy – because conquering the globe is, you know, a statist thing.

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EU Government Is A Monopoly, Not Google

Business, Capitalism, Economy, EU, Europe

The economic sluggards of Europe don’t much like competition; it’s too much like hard work. Competition means that a business has to please the only real boss: a picky customer with many options. Google has raised the ire of the European competition and its proxy, the European Parliament, which “overwhelmingly backed a motion urging antitrust regulators to break up Google.”

“Google’s dominance,” writes Jörg Brunsmann for DW, “didn’t arise from the company employing unfair measures to push its competitors out of the market. It’s become a market leader because of its innovation.”

Put more precisely: Google has arrived at its market share by pleasing search-engine users.

I was part of a worthy group of Austrian economists who published “The Microsoft Corporation In Collision With Antitrust Law,” in The Journal of Social, Political and Economic Studies (Winter 2001, Vol. 26, No. 1.). In section (4) for which I was responsible (“Economic Freedom, Monopoly and the Government,”), I wrote:

Antitrust legislation considers a large market share or a concentration in the market to signify both monopoly and predatory practices on the part of a company. As such, the antitrust chimera is based on discredited theories about competition. Relying as it does on a model of ideal or perfect rather than rivalrous competition, the legislation aims at a market neatly carved among competitors (32).

The principle applies to Google.

In Austrian economics, moreover, a large market share does not a monopoly make. “The only true monopolies are government monopolies. A company is a monopoly only when it can forcibly prohibit competitors from entering the market, a feat only ever made possible by state edict. In a truly free market, competition makes monopoly impossible.” (From “Media Concentration Is Not A Threat to Free Expression, Government Is.”)


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British Libertarian Vows To Unite Behind UKIP

Britain, Elections, EU, Europe

In an interview with the German weekly Junge Freiheit, I ventured that,”Step one in reclaiming [European] national and individual sovereignty (the ultimate goal) is secession from the European union. Judging from their voting patterns, Europeans seem to grasp that adding an overarching tier of tyrants—the EU—to their national governments has benefited them as a second hangman enhances the health of a condemned man.”

Of course, there is something fundamentally perverse about the idea of the British partaking in “European elections.” Come to think of it, the notion that each ostensibly sovereign European country belongs to this overarching suprastate and must obey it is equally abhorrent.

My comment about “voting patterns” has, nevertheless, been borne out.

“The overall result,” writes Sean Gabb of The Libertarian Alliance, “is a big increase in numbers for parties which are hostile to the EU goal of ‘ever closer union,’ and even to the existence of the EU in its present form or in any form at all. In Holland, the Party for Freedom, led by Geert Wilders, came second. In France, the National Front, led by Marine le Pen, came first. The Danish People’s Party also came first, as did the Flemish separatist party in Belgium. In Hungary, the conservative party, Fidesz, came first, followed by Jobbik, which is describes as a national socialist party. In Greece, the leftists party Syriza (Euro-sceptic) came first, and the nationalist party Golden Dawn came third. In Finland and in Austria, Euro-sceptic parties did well, as they also did in Germany.”

Commentators and politicians are suspended between a rock and a hard-place, to use that cliche of in-betweeness. Do they diss the voter or do they revise their rejected positions? Some have just settled for the well-worn battle cry of “racism, homophobia, sexism, xenophobia, bigotry.”

Back to Gabb: “The big winner of the [British] elections was the UK Independence Party, led by Nigel Farage.”

UKIP topped the poll, winning 27.5 per cent of the vote. The Conservatives, who are currently in a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats, came third—though this is largely because of a strong Labour performance in London, where native British are now a minority.[ Labour doubles its MEPs in London, BBC, May 28, 2014]. Significantly, the Liberal Democrats, the most pro-European of the main parties, were almost wiped out, losing all but one of their seats in the European Parliament.

UKIP must now be regarded as one of Britain’s major parties. This a huge achievement—and a useful reminder to depressed American patriots that new parties can succeed.

UKIP’s key policies: to leave the European Union, to end mass immigration, and to strip Political Correctness out of law and administration. … Whatever some people may think of UKIP, it is our best hope for pulling down the current order of things. I with enthusiasm, others with reluctance, have a duty to unite behind it. …

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