Alistair’s “Random Rambles” (20)
By Kathy Martin…
Written June 2014
In a desperate attempt to save the economy in the Euro zone the European Central Bank (ECB) has reduced its interest rate to a “negative” amount; in fact it is now minus 0.1%! Imagine a high street bank trying to attract customers under these circumstances. “Open a savings account here and we will guarantee that, in a few months time, you won’t have any money left”!
Apparently this bold and experimental move by the ECB is an attempt to encourage the high street banks to offer more loans to small businesses, thereby, stimulating the economy in the Euro-zone.
By releasing money from their capital funds, these banks will reduce the erosion of the aforesaid capital assets and Europe will once more enter the “boom years”! I, for one, will not be holding my breath!
It appears that the ECB is simply trying to staunch a wound, rather than attending to the root cause. Regarding the economy, until there is one and only one currency in all of the economic and political country members of the European Union, and therefore only one central bank, the Euro as a currency is unworkable.
Regarding politics, until there is one and only one central government, the existing “national” governments of all the member countries must be downgraded to the stature of local (municipal/Belediye) councils; the political “union” is unworkable!
After all, single currency zones have (with the appropriate political structure) existed for hundreds of years. America, Britain, China, and India spring to mind. In these countries there must be rich and poor states or counties, as now exist in the European Union.
Indeed, a couple of hundred years ago, when Britain was a major exporter of cotton cloth, the “mill towns” in the north of England were far more affluent places than the towns in the south.
While on the subject of the Euro, the Lithuanian economy has now reached the required heights (or depths?) that will enable that country to enter the Euro-zone on January 1st 2015.
OK, there are political requirements to enter the European Union (human rights etc).
OK, there are. economic standards that must be met before a country can use the Euro as a currency.
I have a question, in the (unlikely) event that a settlement will be reached on this island that is acceptable to everyone (especially the citizens and residents of Kibris), I presume that we will be required to adopt the Euro as our currency.
Should our economic status at that time not meet the required standards, will the Euro-zone moguls insist that the settlement cannot be ratified until our status reaches the required standard? Or will they adopt the attitude: “never mind the quality, feel the width” and insist that we join?
In the early 19th century a number of anti-progress people went around various mills and factories smashing the machinery in these establishments. This was during the time when the production of (especially) wool and cotton cloth progressed from a “cottage industry” to being mass-produced in the mills.
These “Luddites” were afraid that they would lose their jobs. Indeed, today one man in a combine harvester can do as much work as 100 men could do in a week a hundred years ago! Nonetheless the Luddites couldn’t stop progress.
According to two different events it is apparent that the spirit of the Luddites is currently alive and kicking in both Europe and Kibris.
There is a new taxi company called Uber. To summon and pay for an Uber car, the prospective passenger can do so by “simply tapping a button on a smart phone”. Unlike “traditional” taxis, Uber cars are parked at various strategic locations from where the closest driver uses a GPS system to collect the passenger. The advantages of the Uber system are firstly, taxis no longer have to “prowl” the streets, producing CO2 and other carcinogens, traffic congestion is reduced and, (for the driver’s safety), no cash is carried in the taxi itself. This is definitely the future NOW as eventually even boring old people like me will use a smart phone!
What was the reaction by the existing Taxi companies? Cause traffic chaos and congestion, thereby slowing every road transportation system and network throughout Europe!
Meanwhile, in Kibris, a private cell phone company started to lay fibre optic cable to improve services. However, this work has been halted, because Tel-Sen (the phone workers union) insisted that it must be stopped.
Why? Because improvements such as this “will annihilate the (existing) Telecommunications Department”!
To put the above actions into plain and simple language, existing organisations are unable to think or say: “that is a good idea, let’s adopt it and, possibly make improvements so that our customers will benefit”!
No, far better for us now to ignore progress and stifle any possible competition!
Apparently in Kıbrıs Competition (the “C” word) is of a similar status as the “N” word is in Britain!
Kibris has a wonderful climate, and as such a “cafe society” way of life has become almost mandatory to residents and tourists alike. A few days ago we were enjoying life sitting at a table outside a cafe, when I became aware of the conversation taking place between two elderly “Ex‑pat“ gentlemen at a nearby table. Neither I, nor other customers intended to eavesdrop, but they were nearly shouting at each other, (probably they were both rather deaf!).
One of the gentleman said that his son-in-law (in the UK) wanted to borrow £7,000 from him, as he was short by this amount to set up his own business. The Ex-pat then continued to say that he was simply considering giving him the money, as he would inherit more that this in his will. His friend then said that he hoped that his friend’s son-in law didn’t lose the money and develop into a “prodigal son” situation.
I have a different opinion (surprise surprise)!
For readers who are unfamiliar with the parable of the Prodigal Son, as recounted by Jesus in the Bible:
A rich man has two sons. The younger one goes to his father and says “Dad, I will inherit half your estate when you die, so please can I have my share now so that I can go out in the world while I am young and enjoy life?” The “prodigal” (wasteful and extravagant) son squanders his money and after a short time is obliged to return home, penniless. However, to celebrate the return of his youngest son, the father “kills the fatted calf” and then welcomes him back into the family. The eldest son is a trifle miffed at this treatment as he has been a “goody goody” by staying at home and hadn’t received any special treatment.
The general consensus of opinion is the moral of the parable is the father (God personified) has enough love to be able to give more, irrespective of how many times it is needed. Yes, this is likely, but to me there is another, yet just as relevant moral in the parable.
Let’s update the “prodigal son” to modern times. Here we have a “poor little rich kid” who has never wanted for anything, never had to budget, has had servants at his beck and call and the most serious decision he has ever had to make is whether to go out in his Ferrari or Lamborghini!
Then he goes out into the “real” world, his wallet stuffed with cash, as well as credit cards. He is a “toff”; he speaks “proper”. He speaks the equivalent of the “Queens English (or Istanbul Turkish)”!
He has nothing, absolutely nothing in common with the “man in the street”. He doesn’t work, so he has no workmates to relax and socialise with after work. So what does he do?
He goes to restaurants, bars, cafes and discos to meet people of his age and literally buys friendship with meals, drinks and gifts! Until, one morning, with a terrible hangover, he wakes up without any cash and maxed out credit cards!
His “friends” no longer want to know him, as he is no longer a “cash cow”! As he can no longer pay his hotel bill he has to leave town. He is totally unskilled and inexperienced, so cannot get a well paid job.
He could have gone home then with his tail between his legs, but he didn’t! He took menial labouring jobs, using and developing muscles that he didn’t know he had! This was a rich man’s son who was used to being pampered! He must have travelled far and wide, because, his final job was that of a swineherd, tending to pigs! As a Jew, this must have been the absolute nadir of his life! However, he stuck at it, and eventually saved enough money to pay for his bus ride home, and, no doubt, had a little bit of money in his pocket when he did so.
I think that he deserved his share of the “fatted calf”!