He’s Here!

 

thCAAXS9NGShush! Don’t make a sound. Don’t stand up! He’ll put you down. Big Brother has arrived. His arrival is much later than envisaged by 1984 author George Orwell, neither did Orwell anticipate that the controlling hand would stem from a democratic rather than a totalitarian regime. Few could have foreseen the rise of the troika, renamed ‘The Institution’.

Poor Greece it doesn’t stand a chance against the might of the EU and its enforcers, the troika, the faceless: the European Commission (E Comm) the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) all unelected. It is their way or the highway.

This is your Europe where democracy does not matter, where decisions will be made for you. The democratically elected government of Greece tried to uphold the principles by which it was elected but has been brow beaten by ‘The Institution’. Greece wanted to opt out of the austerity economic plan followed by the rest of Europe. The new government wanted to reverse the savage cuts imposed on its workers by ‘The Institution’.

As far as the faceless are concerned there is no alternative to their adopted policy. They are wrong, very wrong. I can point them to two Nobel Prize winning economists, a Harvard university economist and a Cambridge university economist who all advocate a positive alternative to the austerity / neoliberal model now in force.

    • J.E. Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality
  • Paul Krugman, End This Depression Now!
  • Dani Rodrik, The Globalization Paradox
  • Ha-Joon Chang, Economics: The User’s Guide

 

Greece did not cause this mess, though the propaganda would have you believe otherwise. What Krugman p177 calls the Big Delusion when he points out that Ireland and Spain both had budget surpluses and low debt prior to the banking crisis of 2008 but ended in the same bog as Greece. So it was not that Greece spent more than it could afford. Krugman p179 goes on to suggest that the political, financial and banking leaders are deeply committed to their version of events. Others may define their logic as ‘groupthink’.

A large part of the blame rests with the introduction of the € euro currency but they will never admit their complicity in creating a mess. At the time of the discussion to adopt the euro many pointed out that while America had a good model, “Europe fell far short of that model”. Krugman p173   Stiglitz p30 is equally scathing in stating that there was no “…political or institutional arrangements to make it work, and they will pay a high price for that failure”. I think we can all agree they are.

Moreover, it’s not just Greece that’s in trouble: Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Cyprus and Italy are trapped in the same bog. These nations have opted to wield the axe and cut the life blood of so many families by cutting jobs by the thousand, cutting welfare, lowering wages and refusing to increase the minimum wage and allowing privatisation which entails job cuts.

Ha-Joon Chang p105 therefore concludes, “With the austerity budget, the prospect for economic recovery in many of these countries is dim”. That they might even face a ‘lost decade’ as Japan suffered in the1990s and Latin America 1980s. The point is supported by Krugman p186, “…deficit countries have been required to impose…draconian…spending cuts and tax hikes—programs that push them into deeper slumps…” Krugman p42 suggests that the ‘Institution’ should look at the work of past economists e.g. John Maynard Keynes, Irving Fisher and Hyman Minsky to find an alternative to the neoliberal austerity package.

Why Austerity?

The IMF, the World Bank and the Federal Bank of the USA are commonly referred to as the Washington Consensus as these are the guys pushing the neoliberal model, free trade and globalization. Rodrik p171 opines that it is a “damaged brand” and has abundant evidence to support his statement.

The role of the IMF is quite confusing:

  • In the years 1978 – 2009 the IMF found 173 cases of fiscal austerity in advanced countries, “And what they found was that austerity policies were followed by economic contraction and higher unemployment”. Krugman p237
  • In February 2010 the IMF document Rethinking Macroeconomic Policy, suggested that central banks such as the ECB in Europe “might be better to aim for 4% inflation rather than the 2% or less that has become the norm for ‘sound’ policy”. A policy of ‘groupthink’. P161
  • In 2011 a study by the IMF found that inequality in income affects the economy on the demand side and suggests that ‘reduced inequality’, the reverse of austerity, can lead to sustained growth. Stiglitz p114

The conclusion drawn by Stiglitz p288 is that, “The worst myths are that austerity will bring recovery and that more government spending will not”. Support comes from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) “…income inequality has a sizeable and statistically negative impact on growth”. Guardian 14/12/09

Nonetheless we find the IMF as part of the ‘Institution’ that is promoting austerity in Europe. Who are the faceless that they can disrupt the lives of millions and simply walk thILH29564away with their own pockets filled? Stiglitz p290 condemns them as akin to blood letters of the Middle Ages who cut to release bad blood and when the patient didn’t recover argue that more of the same was needed. They are fixed in their opinion. Groupthink!

 

“Groupthink is one of the most dangerous traps in our decision-making. It’s particularly likely because it taps into our deep social identification mechanisms – everyone likes to feel part of a group – and our avoidance of social challenges. But consensus without conflict almost always means that other viewpoints are being ignored, and the consequences of groupthink can be disastrous”. (p137)

Dr Nicky Hayes, Understand Psychology

A telling point by the author comes with the observation, perhaps tongue in cheek,     “…our understanding of what it is and how it happens doesn’t seem to stop politicians and others from doing it”.

The Greek people were not alone in rejecting austerity the Netherlands and France voted out pro-austerity parties in 2012. A year later the Italians did the same. Chang (p106) It will be interesting as other elections come up how the people will respond but will it make a difference. The ‘Institution’ has set its parameters and seems unlikely to budge. Can people power move them? Or are we powerless against the ‘bureaucratic order’. He’s Here. Are we witnessing the start of the overt rule by the faceless? Democracy, write it in your diaries for your grandchildren to read.

Do some good—————–join Robin Hood.

Human Rights: A False God?

Human Rights (HR) are a necessity for millions worldwide and should be supported where equality is not a given, where children are forced to labour. But has HR in Europe been hi-jacked by a partisan Liberal establishment? HR is a political instrument, it is promoting a political ideology; some may argue that that is a positive thing. Early Christians would doubtless applaud a move towards equality. Socialists too, would light the darkness with their rendition of the Red Flag at the prospects of equality.

However, both have a chequered history. Christianity has haemorrhaged into so many splinter organisations with a built in intolerance of other groups. The politics of the individual has become the dominant th[7]factor in their religious outlook, and the more deeply held the political conviction the more intransigent becomes their stance. Similarly the Socialists/Communists began on the basis of equality for all, “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need”. Factionalism has cost the socialist movement dearly. Add a failure to win the hearts and minds of the people and you end in dictatorship. As with Christianity, the politics of the individual has usurped the altruism of the principles of the movement. Thus the great movements have come and left an embedded bitterness in their wake. Will the same be true of HR?

In the preamble to the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) it states that it favours: democracy, equality, rule of law and freedom, all wonderful attributes but does the rhetoric hold up to the scrutiny? Once HR had been adopted by the individual states of the European Union (EU) it began to pervade every aspect and level of democraticthCAO1A49P government. No Body, no Council can overturn a proclamation of HR. In essence HR becomes the conductor’s baton; it controls each detail of political decision making. Some may liken it to a computer virus or perhaps more aptly, Big Brother of 1984 fame. It becomes the one indivisible law!

In 2009, a new Charter of Fundamental Rights was adopted and became ‘binding’ on Member States. The blurb denotes it as having been sanctioned in the Treaty of Lisbon, December 2009. In fact, it was cited but not written into the Treaty. It was a sleight of hand without due regard for democratic procedure. Therefore it is a diktat from the Politburo, sorry, the Council of Ministers. The sleight of hand may appear innocuous but does it illustrate contempt for both the people and democracy? Does such a manoeuvre pose a threat to democracy?

On the ECHR itself, Paul Mahoney, a UK European judge is quoted, “The open textured language and the structure of the Convention on Human Rights leave the court with significant opportunities for choice in interpretation”. He added, “In exercising that choice, particularly when faced with changed circumstances and attitude in society, the Court makes new law”. Daily Mail October 3 2013

Thus a cabal of judges in Strasbourg can override any national law irrespective of the democratic principle. Note the words ‘significant’ and ‘interpretation’ in this context ‘significant’ means an open book and, ‘interpretation’, well; every view has a north – south – east – west and more besides. HR is a portal for greater integration via the law. Moreover, when Mahoney talks about, ‘changed circumstances and attitudes in society’ he is referring to the ‘living instrument’. This allows the judges to change the law based on their perception of how society has changed. “The idea that the ECHR is a living instrument that must be interpreted according to present-day conditions has been a central feature of Strasbourg’s case law from its very early days”. www.echrblog.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03

A further salient point is taught to our six form students: “…will interpret the Convention in line with current morality and values”. www.sixthformlaw.info/01_modules I have several problems with the ‘LIVING INSTRUMENT’.

  • When, how and who, decides that society has moved its outlook significantly?
  • What is popular today may not be tomorrow, so we could end up with a horrendous mishmash of banal laws.
  • How does this encompass the democratic rights of the people?

Scenario: Given the opportunity to decide via a referendum, how would the people vote on the following matters?

  1. Death penalty for multiple murderers. Terrorists.
  2. Mandatory life sentences for serial rapists, people traffickers?
  3. Refuse entry to the UK and deport any criminal once the sentence has been served.

The EU would not under any circumstances sanction any of the above. (Protocol 6 & 13 do not permit the death penalty) Meanwhile, it is just as obvious that the electorate would overwhelmingly support each proposal suggested. The conclusion is therefore, just as obvious, that the leaders of the EU and the judges are blatantly out of touch with the people today and therefore the living instrument is a sham. The ‘living instrument’ is in effect a licence to change the law on a whim! In that regard the ‘living instrument’ is wholly undemocratic. It is a Big Brother reality!

A strong opinion is given by Richard G. Wilkins & Marya Reed on the Fundamental Charter: “Comparative constitutional history suggests that despite its own proclamation to the contrary, the Charter may well alter substantially the respective power of the EU and its member nations”. They maintain having carried out a nine (9) nation comparison: Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the UK that, “This comparison suggests that the Charter will almost certainly broaden EU control over significant range of social policies”. www.eurocritic.demon.co.uk/rights.htm Open Europe (.org.uk) claim that having interviewed several European Judges that the change will affect national independence. Therefore the Charter of Fundamental Rights must face further scrutiny.

Perhaps it is time to remind the little gods of the ECHR, of Article 9, which states that thCAAXS9NGyou should not be indoctrinated by the State. Unfortunately, it seems that we are.

BIG Brother is Here!!