Saturday, 3 August 2013

Sleepwalking into the September 22 elections suits chancellor Merkel well

It is difficult to believe that there is just a few weeks left until the German elections (on September 22). Most political commentators are on holiday, and even if those who are on duty, make some tired attempts to remind people about the upcoming elections, nobody seems to be interested. Germans are enjoying the gorgeous summer weather, and the number one topic seems to be how Pep Guardiola will fare as the coach of Champions League winner Bayern Munich ...

But there are also political reasons as to why Germans are sleepwalking to the elections:

General elections are meant to pick a government and election campaigns to discuss the most important issues facing a country. If that’s your definition of an election, you may wonder whether Germany is really heading to the polls on September 22.
Seldom has the run-up to an election been as lacklustre as to this year’s vote in Germany. Just nine weeks ahead of polling day, most Germans have better things to do than to think about politics. They go on holidays, discuss the appointment of Pep Guardiola as manager of Bayern Munich football club, or just enjoy the sudden arrival of proper summer weather after an unusually cold spring.
Meanwhile, the political parties are not giving voters much reason to really engage with them and their manifestos. Their election pledges are all too easily recognised as gimmicks that will never be implemented, and on the biggest issues of the day, the future of Europe and the euro, there is no debate between established parties.
Foreign observers might naively assume that as economic data from Europe’s periphery deteriorate, Germany would discuss the implications. After all, its exposure to Southern Europe is huge. If only a part of German lending to the rest of Europe had to be written off – say after a sovereign default, a banking crisis, or both – this would inflict pain on German investors and taxpayers. German savers are already paying for the crisis because the European Central Bank's policies have made decent interest income a distant memory.
So there are enough reasons to pay attention to the euro crisis and consider ways out of it. But fight an election campaign on these crucial issues – you must be kidding.
It is as if Germany’s mainstream parties – Christian Democrats, Social Democrats, Greens and Free Democrats – are forming a cartel to prevent real political discussions. None of them are willing to draw any attention to Europe as a topic. Little wonder as every single parliamentary decision on the euro crisis has been supported by all these parties. There is no way in which the opposition could now credibly blame the government for the very policies it has always supported.
There is a second reason for the cross-party armistice ahead of the election. A party challenging the consensus on Europe has emerged, the 'Alternative for Germany' party. The Alternative is currently polling at 2-3 per cent – where all the other parties would like them to remain. In order not to give Alternative any extra publicity, the political cartel refuses to engage on the issue of Europe, effectively pretending it does not exist.
To round off the boredom ahead of the election, polls have been stable for months, if not years – Chancellor Angela Merkel is virtually guaranteed to remain in office. The only uncertainty remains about her coalition partner (although it makes little difference in practice).
What is strange about this sleepwalk to the polls is not how it has paralysed proper political debates within Germany but how it has paralysed proper political debates within Europe.
Read the entire article here
When the summer and the German elections are over, chancellor Merkel - and Europe - will again be faced with the same old problems - the perpetual euro crisis, unemployment (particalarly youth unemployment) and the rising costs of the failed renewable energy policies.  

Friday, 2 August 2013

Alarmists climate change study claims that rise in assaults, murder and war are caused by global warming

All recent polls indicate that people have lost interest in global warming and its successor climate change. But the alarmists do not give up very easily. This is their latest scare "study":

Shifts in climate are strongly linked to increases in violence around the world, a study suggests.
US scientists found that even small changes in temperature or rainfall correlated with a rise in assaults, rapes and murders, as well as group conflicts and war.
The team says with the current projected levels of climate change, the world is likely to become a more violent place.
The study is published in Science.
Marshall Burke, from the University of California, Berkeley, said: "This is a relationship we observe across time and across all major continents around the world. The relationship we find between these climate variables and conflict outcomes are often very large."

Monday, 29 July 2013

Greenpeace mega yacht visits Taiwan "in the name of tourism"

The Rainbow Warrior III is visiting Taiwan "in the name of tourism".
(image wikipedia)

The Greenpeace mega yacht Rainbow Warrior III is continuing its around the world cruise in exotic waters. The ship is today scheduled to arrive in Taiwan, where the overseer of local ports clearly states what the purpose of the visit is:

"The 855-ton vessel will depart from Hong Kong's Victoria Harbor and will dock at the Keelung Port for seven days in the name of tourism, according to the Keelung branch of Taiwan International Ports Co. Ltd., which oversees the country's port operations."

The Greenpeace cruise guests will not be disappointed; Taiwan, "the heart of Asia", offers a multitude of sights and sounds to enjoy:

"Besides mountains, beautiful coastal scenes are part of Taiwan's great natural assets. Starting from the northern tip of the island is the North Coast & Guanyinshan National Scenic Area and Northeast and Yilan Coast National Scenic Area, featuring a wide variety of coastal geography. Traveling around the island to the east, you come to the scenic East Coast National Scenic Area and East Rift Valley National Scenic Area; go to the south, and you will come to the Southwest Coast National Scenic Area and then the Dapeng Bay National Scenic Area, blessed with sunshine and a tropical touch."

Bon Voyage! 

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Helena Morrissey on why the UK should leave the EU

What Helena Morrissey, CEO of Newton Investment Management and founder of the 30% Club, says about the EU in her Telegraph article  could not be said much better:

My personal experiences of dealing with the EU on issues I am involved with have served to reinforce my view that the best decisions are those taken closer to where the real asset, person or community, actually is.
The higher up or further away the decision-making or legislation, the less likelihood of a fitting, nuanced and “true” outcome. Irrespective of history, local conditions and competencies, when something goes wrong there is a much greater risk that a mistake will be multiplied. Solutions prove elusive if attempted from a distance.
Several experiences have left me disillusioned about the EU’s approach to effecting change. --
I understand better now why the eurozone politicians are determined to defend the monetary union whatever the social cost in Greece, Portugal and Spain. While we always knew there was a very high level of political capital invested in the eurozone staying intact, more detailed personal experience of other policy issues leaves me concerned that the authorities’ desire to be proven right may well outweigh their motivation to do the right thing. --
As chief executive of a fund management company, I’m also exposed to the complex process for developing EU financial regulations.I believe in strong, effective regulation but more does not mean better. The power of the European Commission is such that it is relatively easy for it to create new regulations, often extending beyond either its expertise or the activities it ostensibly aims to regulate.--

The EU approach in these areas has highlighted something that has long been a focus for me. I am convinced that the tide of influence is moving away from the top down, command-and-control, one-size-fits-all approach to business and politics.
Supranational organisations, overly bureaucratic corporations and undemocratic political unions will struggle increasingly to achieve progress. Scale is often neither the best nor the most human way to operate.
Smart people of all political persuasions are starting to recognise that smaller scale, more collaborative environments with space for difference and discussion are more relevant. Where people have real responsibility and accountability for outcomes – when they feel they have a real part to play, not just carrying out orders – the results are better.
The engagement that results draws out the best. The obvious lack of flexibility and accountability within the eurozone is the opposite of this productive way of working and a whole generation of young people is paying a very painful price for this imperial, large-scale, flawed political agenda.
It’s too fundamental a flaw to try to renegotiate our position from within the EU – the “project” has a life of its own, above and beyond nation states and communities, as evidenced by Lord Lamont’s recent amusing list of 140 EU “embassies” and the not-so-amusing costs involved.--
I am certainly not a backward-looking “little Englander”. On the contrary, I have great confidence that Britain and the British people could thrive outside the EU.
I am not afraid that all will be lost. Indeed, I am confident we have much more to gain from the outward-looking, entrepreneurial spirit that has long defined us, than if we stay bickering, fighting and losing within a passé political structure that is wholly unnatural to us.