Posts by Alex Storey


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21) Message boards : Politics : Hospitals (Message 1646140)
Posted 25 Feb 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
During years of prosperity that would have been fun to read.

In tough times like these I'm starting to think politicians should be forced to have psych-evals, IQ tests and if they're gonna be in charge of anything even remotely important then a comprehensive test of said subject. Results disclosed to boot.
22) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1646135)
Posted 25 Feb 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
Greece has corruption and their large budget deficits and are now forced to ask for financial support.
Alexandra Pascalidou, 39, a journalist. Published recently in "My Big Fat Greek Cookbook"

Every day for two years, I passed the hospital Evangelismos. A concrete colossus with winding queues of patients who all had their necessary "envelope" in your pocket - the envelope to the doctor for favorable treatment. A little lubricant for bureaucratic purposes. That "oil" people, I learned, was a noted feature of the Greek everyday life.

The envelope is called 'fakelaki'.
I met a lawyer in Athens in 1974 and he didn't pay tax at all!


Greece is in trouble because it grossly overborrowed between (roughly) 2003-2008. I hate to burst your bubble but Greece could have had the tax-collecting efficiency of Belgium (which isn't great either) for the past 40 years and would be in the exact same mess it is now.

And while I'm sure there's a lawyer born every minute in Greece who doesn't pay his taxes just like the one you met back in '75... I'm also sure that 'fakelaki' has nothing to do with tax-evasion or bribing. Sorry to burst your bubble but the 'fakelaki' tradition is essentially a tip. It's falling out of fashion, but it's a "tip" people give to public hospital surgeons after any kind of (major or minor) surgery. And if the surgeon is adamant about NOT accepting, he'll probably end up with a pile of meat or fish, expensive alcohol, olives or olive-oil, or any kind of fresh vegetable you can imagine :)

I'm sure you'll find this explanation no less strange, but I think we can agree that it's quite different from what you were implying. Plus, if all cultures were the same then the expression "when in Rome" wouldn't make any sense, would it?;)
23) Message boards : Politics : Je suis CHARLIE (Message 1646113)
Posted 24 Feb 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
What a lovely coincidence! :)

"Wednesday's (tomorrow's) issue will also address the debt crisis in Greece, featuring an interview with the country's new Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis."

New Charlie Hebdo issue marks return to business as usual

Je suis Varoufakis :)
24) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1644747)
Posted 21 Feb 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
"The rightwing orthodoxy that dominates thinking in Brussels has asserted itself over the hapless Greeks. A deal that allows the eurozone policymakers, the International Monetary Fund and the government of Athens to keeping talking next week is the first stage in a clampdown on anti-austerity sentiment.

That much was clear from the statements coming out of Brussels, not least those from Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany’s veteran finance minister, who indulged himself with some patronising comments to show where the power lies. “Being in government is a date with reality, and reality is often not as nice as a dream,” was the quip he delivered with a smile, one that is usually omitted from diplomacy school."


Yeah, we've seen that smile before... OJ had one just like it in court ;)

Schäuble patronizing? /s

I really am a bit surprised though that he's not smart enough to know when someone is a lot smarter than him. Not to mention that Varoufakis is quite the opposite of a dreamer. He's disarmingly pragmatic, humble, down to earth and revolves around a circle of intellectual giants. He'd score terribly on the psychopathy test above... Not to mention that his priorities are EU first, not Greece. I had pegged Schäuble as exceptionally dangerous, but I hadn't pegged him as an idiot.

Oh well. Deutschland über alles, I guess.

C'est la vie
25) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1644591)
Posted 20 Feb 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
Could it be that Angela Merkel has to maintain the hard austerity line, or loos her job.

The BBC has a page about the German Press reaction. Greece crisis: German press short on patience


Yeah sure, maybe. But if the German Press, or worse its people, think the only way to run all its EU colonies is by acting like a psychopath then it would make more sense for Germany to walk out. That way everybody, everywhere keeps their jobs and Merkel & Co. is/are declared a national hero.

Psychopathy in the workplace
(Unfortunately there is no Wiki on "Psychopathy in politics")

Behavioral patterns
---------------------------
The workplace psychopath may show a high number of the following behavioral patterns. The individual behaviors themselves are not exclusive to the workplace psychopath; though the higher number of patterns exhibited the more likely he or she will conform to the psychopath's characteristic profile:

    Public humiliation of others (high propensity of having temper tantrums or ridiculing work performance)
    Malicious spreading of lies (intentionally deceitful)
    Remorseless or devoid of guilt
    Frequently lies to push his/her point (The Myth of a Lazy Southern Europe: Merkel's Clichés Debunked by Statistics)
    Rapidly shifts between emotions - used to manipulate people or cause high anxiety
    Intentionally isolates persons from organizational resources
    Quick to blame others for mistakes or for incomplete work even though he/she is guilty
    Encourages co-workers to torment, alienate, harass and/or humiliate other peers
    Takes credit for other peoples accomplishments (It is only thanks to the United States, which sacrificed vast amounts of money...) [Glenn, this one's for you! :) ]
    Steals and/or sabotages other person's work (Beggar thy neighbour)
    Refuses to take responsibility for misjudgments and/or errors
    Threatens any perceived enemy with job loss and/or discipline in order to taint employee file
    Sets unrealistic and unachievable job expectations to set employees up for failure
    Refuses or is reluctant to attend meetings with more than one person
    Refuses to provide adequate training and/or instructions to singled out victim
    Invades personal privacy of others
    Has multiple sexual encounters with junior and/or senior employees
    Develops new ideas without real follow through
    Very self-centered and extremely egotistical (often conversation revolves around them - great deal of self-importance)
    Often borrows money and/or other materials objects without any intentions of giving it back
    Will do whatever it takes to close the deal (no regards for ethics or legality)

26) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1644376)
Posted 20 Feb 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
That's the 3rd in my social circle in less than 10 months - all of them hard working men.


That's terrible! I'd be devastated. Probably a bit depressed and angry too...
27) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1644375)
Posted 20 Feb 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
Reading some of the stuff here in enough to make anyone jump off a cliff. THose in Greece as well.


Greece already has :)

NEW YORK -SEP 26, 2014– “If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the theory,” goes the old adage. But too often it is easier to keep the theory and change the facts – or so German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other pro-austerity European leaders appear to believe. Though facts keep staring them in the face, they continue to deny reality.

Austerity has failed. But its defenders are willing to claim victory on the basis of the weakest possible evidence: the economy is no longer collapsing, so austerity must be working! But if that is the benchmark, we could say that jumping off a cliff is the best way to get down from a mountain; after all, the descent has been stopped."

-Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics and University Professor at Columbia University
Europe’s Austerity Zombies
28) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1644099)
Posted 19 Feb 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
If I was your professor and you handed in that paper (the reply you just sent me) I would be forced to fail you as none of your key points are in any way correct. You are four years behind on your homework so I'm obviously going to have to ask you to hit the books and re-write the whole thing:)

I will try to slowly guide you through this process.

Let's start off with your first point. Before we do, I'd like to share with you a true story about a professor I know of who failed his civil-engineering student for using the wrong cement mix in the foundations of his building. Superficially it may seem harsh to fail someone on one single point of a complex structure. In reality however such a mistake would be potentially fatal and certainly costly.

So today's lesson begins with your first and grandest mistake:
John Maynard Keynes and your understanding of macroeconomics. Remember, this is just a guide to put you on the right track. You will have to do the rest of the research yourself:)

Here is a typical and popular Keynesian analysis:

"Economists and the EU bureaucrats who advocate a slavish adherence to arbitrary compliance numbers fail to comprehend the basis of government spending. In imposing these voluntary financial constraints on government activity, they deny essential government services and the opportunity for full employment to their citizenry.

Harsh cuts, tax increases — this is by no means a recovery policy. The capital markets have got their pound of flesh. But Greece is no more able to reduce its deficit under these circumstances than it is possible to get blood out of a stone. Politically, it means ceding control of EU macro policy to an external consortium dominated by France and Germany. Greece becomes a colony.

Nor will the policies work, as the ’strict enough conditions’ imposed will further weaken demand in Greece and, consequently, the rest of the European Union.

Meanwhile, Greece and the rest of the Euro zone is being revealed as necessarily caught in a continual state of Ponzi style financing that demands institutional resolution of some sort to be sustainable.

It’s probably not the sort of invitation that any sovereign nation would normally accept, but Greece, like the rest of the Euro zone nations, has voluntarily chosen to enslave itself with a bunch of arbitrary rules which have no basis in economic theory. It is also being denied the use of an independent currency-issuing capacity.

This is no way for any country to achieve growth and financial stability. With no capacity to set monetary policy, fiscal policy bound by the Maastricht straitjacket, and its exchange rate fixed, the only way Greece or any of the euro zone nations can change their competitive position within the EMU is to harshly bash workers’ living conditions. That is a recipe for national suicide. And it will not reduce the deficit... That the measures will be imposed by an entity lacking total democratic legitimacy in Greece is only likely to exacerbate existing strains.

This is the kind of thinking which has led to the relatively poor economic performance of many of the EU economies during the 1990s and most of the previous decade. All entrants to EMU strived to meet the stringent criteria embodied in the Stability Pact (whose principles, although largely formalized by the Maastricht Treaty in 1997, were essentially established at the beginning of the 1990s in preparation for monetary union). From 1992 to 1999, the growth of national income averaged 1.7 percent per annum in the euro-zone countries, compared with the 2.5 percent per annum averaged by the United Kingdom over the same time period. Moreover, the unemployment rate fell substantially in the United Kingdom (as well as in the United States and Canada), but tended to rise in the euro-zone countries, most notably in France and Germany.

A cavalier refusal by the EU’s technocrats to debate and address the concerns of those who feel threatened by a headlong rush into a more all-encompassing political and monetary union without adequate democratic safeguards has lent legitimacy to the views of populist politicians, such as France’s Jean Marie le Pen, and a corresponding rise of extremist parties all across the EU. This is a phenomenon that tends to arise when voters sense that their concerns are not even being considered by what they would characterize as a corrupt and cozy political class.

And yet this kind of deficit-bashing insanity is spreading like a cancer across the global economy. We all should know when the economy is in trouble. High unemployment; sluggish growth in output, productivity, wages; high inflation etc., these are all things which have meaning to us on an individual and collective basis. A budget deficit, by contrast, is just a number. It’s akin to blaming the thermometer when it registers that someone has a flu bug. Any doctor would legitimately be called a quack if he proposed a cure for influenza by sticking the thermometer in a bucket of ice until we got the right “reading” that was deemed to be acceptable to him."


---

I have purposely cut-up the above article so any intelligent reader would say, "hindsight is a wonderful thing". But since it was written with foresight*, your punishment for today is to pick up the chalk and write on the blackboard 100 times:

"Schäuble & Dijsselbloem are quacks. They might actually be the death of the EU, the one organization that has brought unprecedented peace, prosperity and understanding to our continent."

*Thursday, 02/11/2010
Greece Signs its National Suicide Pact
29) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1643907)
Posted 19 Feb 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
First, what's with the "you" and "we"?

Second
And honestly, austerity has its time and place and Greece definitely needs some of it.

You are confusing "reform" with "austerity" and using them interchangeably. Nobody doubts reforms need to take place.

Third
And honestly, austerity has its time and place and Greece definitely needs some of it.

In the middle of a recession?

Fourth
And honestly, austerity has its time and place and Greece definitely needs some of it.

With no currency of its own to devalue?

Fifth
And honestly, austerity has its time and place and Greece definitely needs some of it.

Why? It has only managed to increase debt, instead of decreasing it. Is this Greece's fault too?

Sixth
And honestly, austerity has its time and place and Greece definitely needs some of it.

Why? Is the EU paying for the unemployment benefits of 50+% Greek youths?

Seventh
And honestly, austerity has its time and place and Greece definitely needs some of it.

Why? It has shrunk the economy by 25% exactly how most economists outside the EU said it would. (Important reminder: Schäuble & Dijsselbloem are amateurs. In and of itself that wouldn't necessarily be a problem if they were any good, however it has proved catastrophic for the EU)

Eighth
And honestly, austerity has its time and place and Greece definitely needs some of it.

What part of "it's naïve and, in the end, catastrophic to run the economy of a single currency like you would a household" are you having trouble witnessing today 19 Feb 2015?

Ninth
And honestly, austerity has its time and place and Greece definitely needs some of it.

Explain to me how making someone poorer is gonna get anyone's money back quicker.

Also:

Its impossible to sell that in countries who paid billions of euros into the emergency fund while they have a minimum wage that is less than in Greece...

That would be all of two countries: Portugal and Slovakia. And seeing as the average person in Portugal should be begging for this to go through... well that leaves Slovakia.

...countries who paid billions of euros into the emergency fund
It is not a Greek Emergency fund. Greece paid "billions" into it too. No EU citizen, as far as I know, got taxed extra for it.

and where people have to work years longer before they can retire

As far as I know, this is nowhere close to being true.

rehire all of the government employees

As far as I know, this is nowhere close to being true. Just those that where illegally fired (whatever that means) and nowhere near the majority of all those fired?

Greece has a bloated, inefficient, oversized bureaucracy

Yeah I thought so too. Turns out that Holland has a faaar higher percentage of public servants. I know, I can't believe it either:)

You know what else we got wrong apparently? You're never gonna believe this :)
(from your first post in this thread)
...lied your way into the Eurozone

And there you go with the "you" again. I've never lied my way into anywhere:) And shockingly neither did Greece.
30) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1643804)
Posted 18 Feb 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
They aren't to keen on letting Greece get back on its promises...


Greece and the other countries didn't promise anything. It had a bunch of austerity measures rammed down its throat just like every other EU country including Germany. Quite simply, as it turns out, just because Schäuble thinks he can run the EU economy like a schoolboy with a crush on his Home Economics teacher. Unfortunately for the whole planet, this has turned out to be the 2nd biggest (and completely unnecessary unfortunately) economic ****-up of the 21st century. Christine Lagarde and President Obama have realized this. Mario Draghi knows this, Mark Carney knows this, Paul Krugman knows this (that's 3 main people already of the G30 - Group of Thirty), and of course Varoufakis has known this for years.

But that's not why I'm writing.

I've seen this come up in some of the comments sections of the countless articles I've been reading:
...when they bled for it

Let's ignore for a moment the obvious elephant in the room i.e. that the majority of all loans given to all countries went to bail out EU banks and all that implies. Why? Because that's a luxury no-one has time to argue right now.

Because the problem right now is that austerity is having the opposite effects of what everybody in the EU had hoped for in utter blind faith. Religiously wishing something to be true will never make it so, in the real world. In hindsight it's obvious even to people like you and me that it's naïve and, in the end, catastrophic to run the economy of a single currency like you would a household. To people like Varoufakis (who know their stuff) it was obvious years ago when the deal first landed on the table.

People are fine with "bleeding" as long as there are results. But ever since last year the results are proving more damaging than effective. The actual numbers are showing "one step forward, three steps back". That's the real problem. Germany, Holland et al. are a year behind on their homework.

Or like Jack White says:
"Your like a little girl screaming at her brother because you lost his ball"

You can't take the effect and make it the cause.
31) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1643375)
Posted 17 Feb 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
Hey Michiel, stop playing way over in the IS and come back home:)

Something's wrong with your boy Dijsselbloem. Is he OK? Did Varoufakis break him or something? He's not making any sense. He keeps threatening that he's ready to go to work (kinda like a broken record) but instead keeps running around Europe all wide-eyed and confused. Does he actually plan to use that brain of his any day now? I think you guys may need to jump-start it for him:)

He keeps saying "we need to go to work" and then the next minute "ah yes, please sign here" as if the work has been done! Is he psycho, sold-out, drunk, or is it that alleged "protestant work ethic" you were on about?;)
32) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1641459)
Posted 13 Feb 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
Hungry men kill each other, they need a fix bad.....


Actually - corny as it sounds - people have hope all of a sudden. No riots, no riot police... even the guardrails/blockades at parliament used to keep mobs at bay got removed. I'm unable to convey just how dramatic the change in mood has been. It feels more like the end of the movie where after all hell broke loose people are numbly/cautiously/slowly walking out into daylight, happy to have survived.

Spain however may have a few rough days ahead. I just hope not too rough. Their guys appear (to me) seriously detached with reality. Like some sort of political inertia that's prohibiting them to see what's going on around them. I do hope I'm wrong.
33) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1641039)
Posted 13 Feb 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
Well done Greece


Unfortunately it's all politics from here on out and very little common sense. So I guess now that the show has moved from an exercise in philosophy and the history of economics into a political arm-wrestle (who we all know is going to win) I'll slowly be tuning out. I'm reluctant to break out the popcorn to watch anyone trying to reason with customer services.

But like I said in my first post, it'll be fun to watch other countries slowly but surely realize that there is not a lot to gain by religiously following the idea of austerity, as the fruits of this epically crazy experiment get fewer and further between. By then I'm sure a million pseudo-scientific excuses will "exist" for Germany's politicians to rationalize why the masochistic/unnecessary belt-tightening of its own people didn't really work.

Not exactly my words. I'm just reading a bunch of really smart people saying... the king is naked. And I'm having trouble finding any outside the EU that aren't. Plus it's not like Sweden and the UK are banging on the door, desperate to get in.

Right now - today - I must say I feel the most for Finland. A country that was legendary and rightfully proud of its social structure only to slowly watch it erode for no good reason.

C'est la vie, I guess...
34) Message boards : Politics : Dishonest Bankers. (Message 1640484)
Posted 12 Feb 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
From the end of the Second World War until the rise of Thatcher and Reagan, we actually succeeded in reducing the wealth gap. Perhaps we could try doing again what we did back then?


Careful now... that's exactly what Varoufakis has been saying for the past few years ;)

You know what? I think you need to get your hands on anything by Adam Curtis. You may fall in love.
35) Message boards : Politics : Thor is the Designer! #3 (Message 1638270)
Posted 6 Feb 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
I saw this and I thought of you (/Hallmarkcard)

Back for Thor: how Iceland is reconnecting with its pagan past
36) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1637398)
Posted 4 Feb 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
- On Maggie & Angela:
Like Shirley, I too wonder is it all just a little bit of history repeating? Have our 2 favorite lady chemists and part-time economics dabblers fallen prey to snake oil peddlers and voodoo economics? Were their noble intentions also an Achilles Heel to let utopian & unfounded economics through their doors? I'll spoil it for you and say I'm having a really hard time finding evidence this isn't exactly what happened. Unfortunately this subject forks out all over my browser in the form of "tabs". Too large to deal with realistically.


Still reading a bunch of articles and opinions, a lot of them dating all the way back to 2010. True to my INTJ nature I always try to look at a subject through my "does it work" lens and I'm coming up short on finding evidence that austerity (bordering on poverty/destitution btw) actually works. If that's true then Germany is acting like a psychopath (in the clinical sense of the word).

Here's what is pretty much a summary of what quite a few people (from Obama to the governor of the Bank of England) have been saying in case anyone is interested:

A Greek morality tale: why we need a global debt restructuring framework
37) Message boards : Politics : Hi. I'm Alex and I am an INTJ. (Message 1637352)
Posted 4 Feb 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
Even though there's hardly any replay value in it - i.e. not something you'd watch over and over - it's still one of my favorite TED talks:

"And groups famously follow the opinions of the most dominant or charismatic person in the room, even though there's zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas -- I mean zero."

TED Talks: Susan Cain: The power of introverts
38) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1635823)
Posted 31 Jan 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
- what's fair: Parthenon marbles belong to Greece.

Ouch .....

On the fence here, being totally honest.


LOL, no. Fair in the human sense, not what a lawyer would say :) That belongs in Politics!

Stupid example:

I wake up and find Stonehenge set up in my back yard. Oh, and it's lovely :) Britain apparently found a legal way to sell it.

You call me up and you're furious:

- Alex, that's not fair!!
- I know Chris, I know...
39) Message boards : Politics : Greek Elections 2015 - Je suis Varoufakis :) (Message 1635781)
Posted 31 Jan 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
I just realized we've all opened 3 completely separate issues:

- what's fair
- what an economist would do
- what a politician would do

quick & oversimplified example:

- what's fair: Parthenon marbles belong to Greece.

- what an economist would do: weigh pros & cons. Likely decide a return would be a dangerous worldwide precedent. Economic pros: none. Economic cons: many museums across the world suffer losses or maybe even closures.

- what a politician would do: whatever the voters want him to do. Worst case scenario for him: economists & voters are on opposing sides and he has to dance. And figure out if it's worth his time & effort to try and dilute public opinion.

----

There's also a number 4, just not in this thread yet: philosophy/rhetoric

(endless options, here's one example)

- Do the marbles go to their rightful owners and be viewed by 1 million world citizens or stay where they are and be viewed 10 million?
40) Message boards : Politics : Open Message to Russia (Message 1635060)
Posted 30 Jan 2015 by Profile Alex Storey
Haven't followed any of these events I'm ashamed to say, but wouldn't Putin make a lovely candidate for my "successful sociopath" category? :)

What do you guys think, does he make the cut? Seems fruit-loops to me...


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