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Comment: Re:Great Recession part II? (Score 1) 396

by Tom (#49767777) Attached to: Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment

There is no conspiracy. You don't need a conspiracy when people with identical interests come together. When a crowd jumps up and screams when their team in the arena scores, there is no secret ringleader telling them when to jump and what to scream - crowd dynamics and a shared interest nicely takes care of all of that without any organisation or collusion.

Same with the banks-plundering-countries scenario. I don't think they meet somewhere to discuss the plan. But the financial markets sufficiently replace any such communication by clearly outlining where to go and where to leave. Everyone moving in the same direction chasing profits is functionally identical to everyone moving in the same direction because they agreed to do so in a secret meeting.

And, actually, the banksters are doing both. The LIBOR scandal made it clear that there in fact are criminal conspiracies in this whole mess. I still don't believe there's a big conspiracy, simply because it's not needed.

Comment: Re:Great Recession part II? (Score 1) 396

by Tom (#49767769) Attached to: Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment

The tipping point came when the ECB bowed to pressure from the banks who basically told them that even though the crisis was entirely their fault, there was no way *they* were going to risk "their own money" (actually it wasn't, the only thing they had to risk was the value of their share dividends) in easing the pressure - and if they were going down, they were going to take the Euro down with them. And four hundred million people. The ECB had no choice in the face of that blatant blackmail but to bail out the banks with a book entry

The ECB didn't, but the governments did. If they would get their heads out of their assets and understand that they're still the ones who have the tanks, they could've made an emergency law (the same way they made the bailout laws) and declare any bank that's bankrupt and "too big to fail" falling into public property with no compensation for shareholders.

At the absolute very least they should've made a law that any bank that takes bailout money will get it only in return for shares in the same value, which they can at any time buy back for that original money. That way, it would've been a zero-sum game for taxpayers whenever a bank pulls through, and a takeover in case it doesn't. Then maybe your money is gone but you now own a bank and can try to make it back.

I still believe all the politicians responsible for this nightmare should be tried for high treason and jailed for life.

Comment: Re:Great Recession part II? (Score 1) 396

by Tom (#49767755) Attached to: Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment

If you let the bank fall, the taxpayers who had accounts at the bank will pay the bill.

In a proper world, the bank would be liquidated and all its assets sold to cover paying out those accounts before shareholders get compensated, and shareholders would pay most of the bill.

In the real world, banks have been gaming the system for so long that the actual assets they hold cover only some percents of the debt they hold. Additionally, shareholders will probably get more of their investment back than account holders will.

But it's not like we couldn't change the laws and jail the fuckers. It's just that we don't want.

Comment: Re:They're bums, why keep them around (Score 1) 396

by Tom (#49767731) Attached to: Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment

Their citizens spent that cash.

You think?

How strange. It takes seconds with Google and you find a hundred newspaper articles all explaining you that all that bailout money never reached any regular greek folks. Most of it went to Greece on paper only, for one legal second, before going back to the banks to cover interest and debt payments.

Yes, Germany will bail them out. But not Greece. Germany is bailing out german banks, just in a more hidden way than before, because our government understands the people would probably not stand a second bank bailout. But this way, the greek are the evil people, not the banks or the government. Win-win.

You can say the banks share some blame there

No, the banks deserve all of the blame and then some. Lending money to someone contains an element of risk. That is the justification for getting interest on the loan. Without risk, there would be no justification for interest rates, for credit ratings, rating agencies, half the financial system would have no purpose.
You can have risk-free investment or you can have profit through interest. The banks decided they want both. They are 100% to blame, because in a proper world, Greece would have defaulted, the banks would have suffered a loss, the people who had decided to give them a loan would have had their performance reviewed and definitely not gotten any bonuses that year, and everyone else would have gone their merry ways.

That the whole thing has put the whole of Europe into a panic, new institutions get created, billions of taxpayer money is lost, half a dozen countries destroy the social systems that it took decades to build - all of that is the direct result of banks deciding to game the system, and the blame is entirely theirs.

Comment: Re:They're bums, why keep them around (Score 1) 396

by Tom (#49767701) Attached to: Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment

I'm also rooting for this example of extreme, heavy handed socialism to fail in a spectacular fashion so that it can be used as a warning to my country, which is also surviving on massive deficit spending.

You mean like every single one of our western countries, socialism or not? Show me the western countries that have surplus budgets. Yes, they exist. They're a small minority. Deficit spending has a very long tradition and is by no means exclusive to Greece.

Okay, then stop, set up a real budget

The problem isn't the budget.

The problem is that far from the socialism you put up as the strawman, the very real corporate and elite socialism is bleeding government accounts dry. Billions are put into fonds to save banks that by rights should go out of business, while their bosses continue to pay themselves millions in bonuses (wasn't that meant to be extra money for good performance?) and yet for the schools and public services, we don't have money.

Comment: Re:They're bums, why keep them around (Score 1) 396

by Tom (#49767677) Attached to: Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment

If you think and operate in a vacuum, yes.

Greece didn't. They suffer from the same problem that many people did when the housing bubble burst: They had been talked into spending a lot by banks offering cheap credits with promises of a glorious future. That and a considerable amount of corruption within the political elite.

Comment: Re:Germany should pay war reparations for WWII (Score 1) 396

by Tom (#49766645) Attached to: Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment

Scotland most likely is not the full legal successor to the tribes of that time.

Germany, however, is. And has made a big point of it. Western Germany for decades considered itself morally superior to Eastern Germany because it announced itself loud and clear as the legal successor of the Third Reich and the Weimar Republic and basically the heir in the whole line of german states.

Can't have your cake and eat it.

Comment: Re:Great Recession part II? (Score 1) 396

by Tom (#49766639) Attached to: Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment

Since that time, all the other banks have divested themselves of Greek bonds (and have been recapitalized by the ECB). There is no worry of contagion this time, because no one expected Greece to repay anything, and they prepared appropriately. The European governments are laughing as Greece falls over the edge.

You see what you did there, yes? European government are laughing because of sentence #1 -- the banks are saved and taxpayers will pay the bill. Just ten years ago, that would have been the most strange reason for a government to laugh that anyone can imagine. Today, strangely, everyone accepts it as perfectly normal.

but the major problem is not having enough money to pay their bills.

They have enough money to pay their bills. They don't have enough money to pay the bills and the debt burden. And they've basically been asking "we're drowning, can you stop pushing us under the water so we can take a few breaths?" - but the bureaucrats don't understand appeals to humanity and insist on the rules and contracts and deadlines.

If you want to watch for a time to worry, the time will be when Germany, or France, or the United States can no longer borrow. Then there will be another 2008.


Greece is the example that is being made to cow all of us into compliance, so that exactly that won't happen. When the time comes for the banks to plunder one of the big countries, we will all remember what happened to Greece and will accept the chains.

Especially in Germany, the traitors we call a government have been singing the song of "you have to make concessions" and recently "there are no alternatives" for many years. I remember a time when "there are no alternatives" would have been a shame for a politician to say and he would've been forced to leave politics because finding those alternatives is basically his job. Nobody needs a government whose only activity is to blindly follow wherever circumstances take them.

Comment: Re:They're bums, why keep them around (Score 4, Insightful) 396

by Tom (#49766611) Attached to: Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment

the funny thing is that the "austerity measurements" are just measurements to make the country not use more money than they have

The funny thing is that Greece already has its budget balanced better than most other countries. What is crushing it is the debt burden, not the income vs. expenses equation.

But instead of speaking about abstract entities, how about we speak about people. All these countries, banks, economic systems and so on are not a purpose in themselves, aren't they? Let's speak about what from a humanity perspective we would rather see: A bank going bankrupt, or a country?

We've all become slaves to the financial system, and the Greek are simply the unlucky slave who is getting the whip to show the rest of us what happens if we don't comply. So strange that so many of us are total imbeciles and root for the whipmaster, not understanding that with a small change in fortunes, it could be their back that's being skinned.

Comment: Re:I have an idea (Score 1) 396

by Tom (#49766585) Attached to: Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment

I'm starting to think the citizens are the laziest, most needlessly entitled people in the world

Largely because a big propaganda machine wants you to think that way.

The retirement age in Greece is 65, same as in most of Europe, and they already agreed to raise it to 67.

But the real issue isn't that, but why anyone thinks its a problem. Austrias average retirement age is 58. Which, incidentally, is the same as what lead to the myth of the 55 year old pensioner. You could retire with full benefits in Greece at 58, if you had worked for 35 years. With some easy math you'll understand it means you started work before you were 23 and were never out of a job. Most likely, you were in a craftsman or untrained job, doing physical labor. At 58, you've either made career and continue to work or your body is spent.

55 can only be explained as people mixing truth with lies. You could retire with partial benefits at 55, again the same as many other european countries.

And again, the real issue isn't this at all. If you have considerable unemployment in your country, raising the retirement age does squat nothing for your economy, it will simply shift the burden, because for every old person going out of a job, you already have a young person who could take it and you're preventing it by keeping the old person longer.

Comment: Re:just what we all love (Score 3, Insightful) 230

by Tom (#49762769) Attached to: Amazon Decides To Start Paying Tax In the UK

You are mixing morals with laws. The two do not always match.

It may be legal to funnel taxes out of a country where you make your profits, but I have not yet seen anyone make a convincing argument that it is (morally) right.

A lot of things are legal, but not moral. Lying to your best friend, cheating on your wife, pissing in the pool.

On the other hand, there are things that are moral, but illegal, usually because laws change slowly or don't cover all edge cases. Fortunately, many countries have a permissive judicial system where a judge and/or jury can decide that yes it broke the law, but in this particular case it's (morally) right to let it go unpunished.

They are not the same. Tax evasion is illegal, tax avoidance is at the very least a gray area, and in the extreme way most corporations implement it, certainly not moral.

Comment: stupid questions yield stupid answers (Score 1) 386

by Tom (#49725385) Attached to: Microsoft To Teachers: Using Pens and Paper Not Fair To Students

"When was the last time you used a piece of chalk to express yourself?"

Last week. Whiteboard marker, to be precise, but if we had a blackboard in the meeting room, it would have been a piece of chalk.

Everyone who knows something about presentations also understands that Powerpoint is a horrible abuse and failure in at least as many situations as those where it is a useful tool. There are things that you can best show in animated slides, others are best described with prosa text, yet others with short and memorable phrases. In addition, everyone learns slightly differently. Some people can't remember anything in a lecture unless they take notes while for others watching all the slides or the scribbles on the blackboard is the most important and for yet others hearing the professor / teacher / workshop-giver is the main part.

The so typical and almost always wrong our-one-size-fits-all Microsoft approach will not solve any problems, it'll make it worse.

If kids these days don't know how to express themselves with pen & paper, then maybe that is something you should teach them? It's a useful skill, and even though I've been a computer guy since the C64 was state-of-the-art, for some tasks I still prefer a notebook over any iPad app, and the reasons are purely practical.

Comment: Sorry, but... (Score 1) 774

...there are serious people and then there are clowns.

I'm the first to stand up and say that feminism in its current incarnation is just as evil as any other -ism and regularily crosses the border into misandry. However, portraying strong women in a fantasy world is not an attack on manhood.

Firstly, there's the fantasy aspect. Secondly, there is nothing wrong with strong women, and especially if you're a real man you aren't afraid of them. If you're a weak man, of course, who nurtures his illusion of superiority by surrounding himself with people even weaker than himself...

Unless the movie carries an "all men are evil" message, and from what I've seen and read so far that is not the case, I think in an ocean of stereotypical man=hero, woman=princess-in-need-of-saving Hollywood crap we can enjoy one movie every now and than that shows a different facet of life.

Comment: Welcome to Communism in the West (Score 2) 121

We've all seen and heard this kind of government behaviour before: In the communist countries.

In Eastern Germany there was a failed popular uprising in 1953. One of the most famous authors of that time, Bertold Brecht, coined a phrase following it that became immortal: If the government is not happy with the people anymore, wouldn't it be easier to dissolve the people and elect a new one?

He is spot on for today as well. It used to be the parliament would represent the people, and if we felt dissatisfied, we could dissolve it and elect a new one that represents us better.

But in almost all western countries, politicians have taken control of the political process that was intended to control them, and basically you don't have a chance to actually get a new government. You can choose different names, but they don't really mean different things. And more and more you hear politicians talk about their subjects (oh wait, isn't that the wrong way around? Yes, actually it is, but we're moving back to medieval mindsets!) in a way the reminds you of Brecht.

"I think trash is the most important manifestation of culture we have in my lifetime." - Johnny Legend