Did The World Get A Little Absurd in 2014?

Scales Tipped So much of the news this year has been hopeless, depressing and, above all, confusing. Take for example the main topics which have been repeatedly covered by mainstream media over the past twelve months – Ebola, ISIS, Austerity, Ukraine, Russia, Syria, Phone Hacking, Child Abuse, Foreign Exchange Rigging, Beheading, Groping Disc Jockey’s, Kim Kardashian’s Arse, Eat Vegetables or DIE.

To which is the only response is “Oh Dear”.

This defeatist response has become the central part of a new system of political control. To understand how this is happening you have to look at Russia, to a man called Vladislav Surkov.

Surkov is one of President Putin’s advisors and has helped him maintain his power for 15 years. But he has done it in a very new way. He came originally from the avant-garde art world, and those who have studied his career say that what Surkov has done is to import ideas from conceptual art into the very heart of politics.

His aim is to undermine people’s perception of the world so they never know what is really happening. Surkov turned Russian politics into a bewildering, constantly changing piece of theatre. He sponsored all kinds of groups from Neo-Nazi skinheads to liberal human rights groups. He even backed parties that were opposed to President Putin. But the key thing was that Surkov then let it be known that this was what he was doing. Which meant that no one was sure what was real and what was fake.

As one journalist put it, “It’s a strategy of power that keeps any opposition constantly confused. A ceaseless shapeshifting that is unstoppable because it’s indefinable”. Which is exactly what Surkov is alleged to have done in Ukraine this year.

In typical fashion, as the war began, Surkov published a short story about something he called “non-linear war”. A war where you’re never really sure what the enemy are really up to, or even who they really are. The underlying aim, Surkov says, is not to win the war, but to use the conflict to create a constant state of destabilised perception in order to manage and control.

Maybe we have something similar emerging here in the West. Everything we’re told by journalists and politicians is confusing and contradictory. Of course, there is no Mr.  Surkov or his equivalent in charge, but it’s an odd non-linear world that plays into the hands of those in power.

NATO troops have come home from Afghanistan, but nobody seems to know whether it was a victory or whether it was a defeat. Aging disc-jockeys are prosecuted for crimes they committed decades ago, yet practically no one in the City of London is prosecuted for the endless financial crimes that are being revealed month after month. In Syria, we are told that President Assad is the evil enemy, but then his enemies, ISIS, turn out to be even more evil than him. So we bomb them, and by doing that we help keep Assad in power.

But the real epicentre of this non-linear world is the economy. And the closest we have to our own post-modern shape shifting politicians are George Osborne and Mario Draghi. They tell us proudly that the economy is growing but at the same time wages are going down. Osborne says he is cutting the deficit, but then it’s revealed that the deficit is actually going up. Draghi waxes lyrical about how low interest rates are a good thing for consumers and home owners, yet anguishes in the same breath that the inflation rate is TOO LOW! But the dark heart of this shape shifting world is Quantitative Easing.

Governments across Europe have insisted on taking billions out of the economy through their austerity programs. Yet at the very same time the UK is pumping billions of pounds INTO the economy through Quantitative Easing. The equivalent of £24,000 for every family in Britain. I’ve written before that the only way an economy can get itself out of a recession is to spend its way out. But make sure you spend the money on public infrastructure and projects that will benefit the economy on a long term basis, such as schools, nurseries, roads, bridges, hospitals, hell, even the military adds money to local economies where bases and troops are stationed.

Whilst the US and Britain has jumped on the QE band-wagon with great gusto, the European Central Bank have yet to decide on whether they want to continue to weathering the economic storm in the Eurozone without any major fundamental economic policy shifts, or if they want to introduce their version of QE. With the Germans so vehemently opposed to increasing public spending and their continued championing of austerity as a solution, it’s unlikely that the ECB will announce anything soon. In fact the continued decline of the EUR/USD F/X rate is a clear indication that QE will most likely not be  on the cards for the Eurozone any time soon.

But it gets even more confusing, because the Bank of England has admitted that those billions of pounds have not gone where they were supposed to. A vast amount of the money has actually found its way into the hands of the wealthiest 5% in Britain. It has been described as the biggest transfer of wealth to the rich in recent documented history.

It could be a huge scandal comparable to the greedy oligarchs in Russia. A ruthless elite, syphoning off billions of public money. But nobody seems to know. It sums up the strange mood of our time, where nothing really makes any coherent sense. We live with a constant vaudeville of contradictory stories that makes it impossible for any real opposition to emerge, because they can’t counter it with a coherent narrative of their own. And it means that we as individuals become ever more powerless. Unable to challenge anything because we live in a state of confusion and uncertainty, to which the response is “Oh Dear”.

But that’s what they want you to say.

Welcome to 2015!

New Year 2015 formed from sparking digits over black background

I Proudly Commemorate Remembrance Day

Poppies

Today I read an article about a primadonna Irish footballer (James McClean) who refused to wear a poppy for Remembrance Day on the grounds that he came from Derry, and that although he was born 20 YEARS AFTER “Bloody Sunday” occurred, he still felt that wearing a poppy was an affront to those people who lost their lives.

Let me go on record and tell you as an Irishman that this guy is an IDIOT. He is an embarrassment to the Irish nation and his attitude is exactly the same attitude that results in conflicts never getting resolved and is an example of how hatred of a nation is exacerbated by the myopic vision of a child’s parents and their teachings. What happened in the past, is in the past. I accept that it is sometimes hard to forget the hurt and pain of pasts wrongs. We SHOULD remember, but only so we never repeat histories wrongs. But don’t hold on to it like a metastasising cancer, spreading the hatred from one generation to another.

Yes, “Bloody Sunday” was an awful event. But so were the bombings carried out by the IRA on the British mainland. And let us not forget that thousands of Irish men lost their lives during WW1 and WW2. Maybe they were, or were not fighting for the King. But if they were Irish, I certainly know that they were fighting to preserve freedom and liberty and save the world from tyranny.

This idiotic Irish football player plays football for a living. If he was someone who worked in a charity, dedicated his life bringing peace and education to the worlds poor or helped starving, repressed nations around the world regain their dignity, I might….MIGHT….listen to his bullshit reasons for not wearing a poppy. But he’s not. He’s a footballer, who most likely has three or four brain-cells to rub together and gets paid a fortune for playing a game most children do for free in their backyard. In short he is a nobody.

So I implore my friends both across the Irish Sea and around the world to not judge us Irish with the same disdain you rightfully hold for Mr. McClean. There are many of us who respect the sacrifice that our forefathers made for my ability to speak my mind like this (in the English language (sorry Tim and Michael, couldn’t resist) without persecution or reprimand.

And I pray that the sacrifices being made in other conflict zones around the world, on the side of the right and the just also come to an end soon so that those people can return to their loved ones and rebuild their broken countries.

KLM Tweet Exemplifies Dutch Racism And Arrogance

KLM Mexico Jibe

This is the tweet that has set the twittersphere alight with anger over the Dutch win against Mexico. What was supposedly meant as a joke has turned into a PR disaster for the Dutch national airline, KLM. It’s a lesson on how social media can instantly ruin a brand with just one click.

The tweet was deleted without apology or explanation after outraged fans began retweeting it in anger. Among the offended was Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal, who managed to swear twice in the space of 140 characters to criticize the airline and vow never to fly on it again.

Mexican Outrage KLM

It quickly sparked a social media storm of criticism with many saying it was racist.

“Planning your exit out of South America soon, slave traders,” said one angry Twitter user of the picture.

But it’s not funny. It’s typical Dutch arrogance masked as “humour”. Of course, many Cloggies (and yes, if they’re gonna use a sombrero, then I’m within my right to continue calling them cloggies) simply do not even recognise the racist stereotyping, as evidenced by this reply on Twitter

KLM Nadine Koppers Response

It’s offensive, politically incorrect and opportunistic. It only serves to highlight the ingrained, but hugely suppressed, racism that exists in a country that has regularly failed to publically acknowledge or apologise for its historical hand in the slave trading industry and whom, to this very day, preys on minorities in its own country every chance they get demanding that they “conform” to the Dutch way of life.

In fact, once a year they even revel in their slaver past. Take “Zwarte Piet” (Black Pete) for example. A blackened slave helper who is the “cheeky” and “mischievous” helper of the Dutch Sinterklaas – they are the Dutch equivalent of Santa’s helpers. Of course, the Dutch think it perfectly normal to have the remnants of the slave era as perfectly acceptable form of endearment for their children.

If these are the values that the Dutch and their government insist that newcomers should integrate with, and that way of life is comfortable with openly offending other races, nationalities, religions and reverting to stereotypes, then its no wonder that immigrants to the Netherlands generally prefer to retain their own people oriented values, rather than adopting those of an arrogant fool.

KLM has clearly stepped on a landmine. Will it greatly impact the airline? Probably not, and the rebuke on Twitter will probably not do anything to reverse the insularly suppressed racism that exists in the Netherlands, but at least the cat is now out of the bag. I’ve always believed that the Dutch are closet racists. This myth of a tolerant society is exactly that, a myth. Live here long enough and you’ll discover a hotbed of hatred for anyone who does not conform or follow their rules – usually manifested in a form of “Clogic”™.

As for the football? For me personally, I’m waiting for the Argentina game to see the Dutch get their just-desserts.

KLM Tweet Screengrab

More Racist Propaganda In Dutch Press

Seventy three years ago across Germany and Austria an event took place that has been burned into the annals of history. It became known as Kristalnacht and the events of that night became infamous and synonymous with racist driven hate crimes and were an eye opener for what was in store. Nazi Stormtroopers and civilians coordinated attacks across the Reichsland against Jewish owned stores, warehouses and synagogues. During that hateful, despicable night, 91 people lost their lives, 30,000 were arrested and incarcerated in concentration camps, and the world was forever altered.

Meanwhile in modern Europe, the Dutch have chosen to forget Europe’s history, a past it shares with Nazi Germany, a past were thousands of Dutch Jews were themselves boxed up in rail freight cars, transported to the death camps, their faiths unknown, families destroyed and lives lost.

Or maybe they have not forgotten. Maybe they have simply chosen to ignore their past. Because if you believe what has appeared in the press this week, it seems that the Dutch now see fit to zero in on unemployed Eastern Europeans for fear that they are turning to “petty crime” in this down economy. What’s worse is that this zeroing in on a specific ethnic group, whilst not necessarily new (they’ve been doing it to the Turkish and Moroccan populations here for ages) was only decided by regional Police Chiefs after they read similar anti-foreigner articles in the press. Can someone say “Wag the dog”?

Two quotes that caught my eye were:

‘Many people from central and eastern Europe have lost their jobs. We used to see them in public nuisance reports but they are now showing up in the crime figures. They lose their jobs and start to steal,’ Van Essen is quoted as saying. He says the rise in home break-ins in The Hague is due to eastern Europeans.

Rotterdam police have also decided to come down harder on eastern European suspects, the AD states.

‘Their share of car theft and break-ins is increasing. We are now more alert in areas where they cause the most nuisance,’ spokeswoman Marjan den Hollander is quoted as saying.

I’m already tired of these bullshit articles that have become an almost daily occurrence in all the Dutch press, explaining about how they are afraid of allowing Bulgarians and Romanians into the Netherlands on work visa’s. The simple fact of the matter is that these people WILL find work, because they get hired in jobs that the lazy Dutch refuse to take on because they deem these jobs beneath them. Examples would include vegetable and fruit picking in the market garden area’s, work in waste recycling plants, and basic hospitality services such as housekeeping and cleaning services. The fact is that agencies in these industries across Holland are crying out for staff, meanwhile the Netherlands still has 5.8% unemployment (11.2% if you include the long-term disability numbers) and rising. What are they so fearful of?

Maybe it’s the fear of competition? I already use a Lithuanian carpenter and an Estonian builder for my repairs. Why? Well for a start they’re more than 50% cheaper than their Dutch equivalent. Secondly, they do the job faster, with better quality and can be at my place sooner (none of this waiting around for weeks for an opening on their agenda) than their Dutch counterparts. And lastly, I have NEVER had to have my guys come back out to fix something that they didn’t do properly the first time around. Sadly I cannot say the same for the Dutch builders I have encountered over the years.

Now I can hear you already saying that my Eastern guys are probably cheaper because they don’t pay taxes etc. Not true. I get a valid invoice from them, they’re registered with the Chamber of Commerce and have all their EU certifications. They’re not cowboys.

Yes it’s true that during an economic downturn, petty crime, such as burglary and car theft increase. But are we really supposed to believe this xenophobic discriminatory claptrap hype that it’s all solely rests with the Poles or Romanians you meet walking down the street? What I find even more amazing is that both Ireland and the UK experienced huge influxes of Polish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Romanian and Estonian immigrants in the early 2000’s. There was a veritable mass exodus to the UK and Ireland. And then when the economy tanked, guess what? They returned home. They didn’t go off nicking everything in sight. No, they returned home and used the cash they’d accumulated to start up a business at home and ride the crest of the construction wave that’s going on in Poland, and Romania right now.

It seems to me that the police here in Holland are only good for two things….Doling out fines for cycling your bike with no lights, and kowtowing to an increasingly intolerant and xenophobic public who is hell bent on shoehorning them and the government into a public policy that Hitler would be proud of.

Leo “The Lip” Displays Empathy To Electorate – NOT!!

Excellent piece in the Irish Indo today by Lise Hand about Leo “The Lip” Varadkar’s impertinent comments on how we should all take a holiday next year….sure the 2012 budget “won’t be all bad” he says.

With half a million people unemployed and claims of one fifth of the population living in deprivation, the Tourism and Transport Minister said that people should be able to afford a holiday next year.

Cue gnashing of teeth from a put upon electorate, and rending of garments in Government Buildings.

In the Dail yesterday morning, Sinn Fein’s Mary-Lou McDonald made political hay, noting that Leo wasn’t on the frontbench.

“Perhaps he is on a weekend break,” she sniped.

“In a very brash and unacceptable manner the minister told the population at large to cheer up and take a vacation, although he may be really telling them to take a hike.”

Across the chamber in the hot seat, Eamon Gilmore didn’t exactly knock himself out running to his colleague’s defence.

“I understand that while attending a tourism event yesterday, he made some remarks which were aimed at encouraging domestic tourism. This is what he does; it is part of his job,” explained the Tanaiste, before hastily changing the subject.

It’s entirely possible that the first thing which Enda Kenny types into Google search every morning is the trio of fearful words, ‘Leo’, ‘Varadkar’ and ‘Controversy’.

For he’s Leo the Lip, a chap born with a silver foot in his mouth. His pronouncements can make money-markets shiver and cause a stampede of frothing citizenry clamouring to talk to RTE’s Joe Duffy.

But the only person who appears to sail peacefully through every political squall is the Transport Minister himself. There never seems to be a bother on him, no matter how many fists are shaken in his direction. There was the time he drew the wrath of his own party bluebloods upon his head by insulting Garret the Good while excoriating the failings of then-Taoiseach Brian Cowen, claiming, “he is a Garret FitzGerald. He has trebled the national debt and effectively destroyed the country.” He said the Taoiseach should “enjoy writing boring articles in The Irish Times in a few years time” – another reference to FitzGerald.

Merciful hour…..sacrilege, indeed.

Then there was the time a few months back when he sent investors into a tizzy by declaring it was “very unlikely” that Ireland would be able to go back to borrowing on the bond markets in 2012.

“I think it might take a bit longer. . . 2013 might be possible, but who knows?” he mused aloud (always a dangerous activity for a minister who is trained in matters of medical health and recovery than those that pertain to economic recovery).

And recently he threw a toy or two out of the pram when his cabinet colleagues sneaked legal changes through the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) to allow their ministerial cars to use the bus lane, writing bluntly on the paperwork: “As approved by government against my advice and that of the department.”

And Leo the Lip was in the thick of it again yesterday as a result of remarks he made during a speech at a tourism function on Wednesday night, when he claimed households would still have a few quid with which “to take a holiday” after the Budget, because, hey, “it won’t be all bad”.

Not that Leo himself was in penitential mode. Earlier on RTE’s ‘John Murray Show’, he had stuck to his guns. He said had been referring to the fact that there’ll be no cuts to income tax, “so people’s pay packets will be the same in January as they are now”, he reckoned. “Maybe I’m totally naive about this, but I think that’ll give people a bit of a boost in the New Year to see for the first time their incomes aren’t going down.”

And as he arrived at the Burlington, he just couldn’t see what all the palaver was about at all. He’d just been doing his job.

“I am the Minister for Tourism, I was speaking at a tourism event,” he shrugged, sporting a ‘what’s-all-the-fuss-about’ face.

“It’s part of my job to promote holidays and holidaying at home in particular and I’ll continue to do so.”

But did he understand that people are angry? “I understand that people are angry because people have lost their jobs, people are struggling with mortgages,” he replied.

True. But he didn’t seem to grasp that they were seething over what he perceives to be a logical statement, and what they perceive to be a gobsmacking lack of empathy with their predicament.

He’s certainly not lacking in smarts — correctly he was hopping over the bus-lane manoeuvre because he knew it smacked of elitism, which it does.

But he should be smart enough to steer clear of let-’em-eat-cake pronouncements. Or he’ll soon be heartily sick of eating humble pie.

Welcome To The Netherlands…We Own Your Ass

This week has seen a plethora of spin from the Dutch government, all of it blatantly devised to paint a rosier picture to Jan and Rita Hollander. But the spin hides the real facts behind the level of contempt this current government has for its own populace and how removed from reality they really are.

It first started out with an article on how spending power had “risen for most households”. But if you read the article and strip away the spin and bullshit, you soon realise that the whilst the article plays light of the fact that “some people” will be worse off, they actually make up the bulk of the population. And it went on to speak of how the government and technocrats working in the civil service are set to reduce and hack away at the current benefits we enjoy over the next 20 years. These are things like spending on roads, schools, cultural institutions and the big one….MORTGAGE INTEREST RELIEF.

The Mortgage Interest Relief cut has been on the cards and the tips of every politicians tongue since the last general election. It is the Dutch sacred cow equivalent to the Britain’s NHS. Here in the Netherlands, home-owners can deduct the interest they pay on their mortgage against their taxes, for up to 30 years. As the press is quick to point out, “the Dutch system is one of the most generous in Europe”, don’t you know. What they fail to point out though is the fact that the housing market here is requisite upon two things;

Number 1 – The 100% mortgage, which has been a product available to the Dutch for many years, long before the rest of the world got in on the act, and

Number 2 – The Mortgage Interest Relief, which facilitates the average Cloggy from actually affording a mortgage in the first place, given that the Dutch government is essence picks up the tab for the interest that is paid to the banks.

If you take either one away, you will suddenly have an implosion in the housing market. And if you take the second one away, well I guess you can add the letter “N” to that PIIGS acronym everyone else in Europe seems so content to deride night after night on the evening news. The Dutch press, naturally picked up on the stories, and if the conversations overheard in my office canteen can be in any way considered a good barometer of the national conscious, this is definitely something that Jan and Rita Hollander are worried about.

So Dutch politicians – who are entitled to massive unemployment benefits of 100% prior salary for up to five years (whilst Jan and Rita will only get max 70% for 2 years) and who will receive a pension if they are no longer a minister, even if they are below the new pensionable age of 67 – have decided the fate of the ordinary cloggy, whilst supping on port from their ivory towers. They even believe the preposterous notion that opening the floodgates and allowing the likes of a dentist to charge whatever the hell he likes will actually result in a REDUCTION of dental fees!!!

If I know the Dutch, and having lived here a long time, I believe I know them well, given half the chance the greedy fuckers will jack up their prices, knowing full well that in the end the patients are going to HAVE to go to them eventually once their toothache becomes unbearable, and that the insurance companies will cough up no matter what the fee. The insurance companies are not so stupid though, and already three of the smaller ones announced premium hikes for dental cover. This separation from reality, this belief of fiction over fact has become the norm for Dutch politics. They live in a cocooned world where they have no idea how the average Jan and Rita lives. And what’s more, they are so insolent and aloof, that they couldn’t care less about how the peasants live….just as long as they don’t bother the minister!

The sad truth though is that this money grabbing, parsimonious style of government and its attitudes to public expenditure are doing little to drive the economy forward and put it on a good footing for economic growth later. The inward looking Dutch and their cribbing about the 30% ruling are extremely short sighted and solely centred on a lack of understanding that the average expat has exorbitant costs living here compared to the average cloggy….not least the biggest one being rent and the fact that a cloggy invariably lives either in their own home (see the mortgage argument earlier) or in cheap public housing. A new expat has to wait 4 years on the housing waiting list and has not got access to cheap credit lines or mortgages when they arrive straight off the plane. On top of that, the greedy Dutch landlords jack up rent prices by a factor of 4 when they know a western expat wants to rent out their measly 60sqm apartment, compared to the lower prices a Cloggy will pay for a similar apartment. And besides, we expats are paying for your children’s creche, your unemployment benefits, your schools and God knows what else whilst getting bugger all in return. Meanwhile you get the expertise in your home marketplace from experienced foreigners and gain the knowledge and training that we bring with us when we move here. Thus adding value in the longer term.

Given the fact that the Dutch economy is on the brink of another recession you would think it would spark them into life. But sadly not. The scary thing is that the German and French economies all showed economic growth, whilst the Dutch economy has contracted. When you factor the proposed increases in taxes, healthcare costs, childcare services, and the potential loss of the interest relief, 2012 is going to be a very interesting year. Right now the government is more content with spouting to anyone who could be bothered to listen as to why they feel justified in preventing Romania and Bulgaria from joining Schengen or why the likes of Greece, Ireland and Portugal (along with a few choice others they’d care to be rid of) should be kicked out of the eurozone, rather than addressing their own mismanagement of the Dutch economy. Maybe when they hit crisis level they’ll be more than happy to start viewing the rest of Europe as partners rather than indignant neighbours they’d much prefer to ignore and insult.

I don’t think the Netherlands is ever going to return to its level of a power status player within Europe, and suggest that it should resign itself to the role of a wiser elder statesman, rather that the typical image of a spoiled, loud mouthed prick who thinks he knows everything and has an over inflated sense of entitlement just because his passport says Koninkrijk der Nederlanden on the front

Hypocrisy Of Western Governments

I came across this this other day, and wanted to share it with you all. The video, which highlights the hypocrisy spouted by western politicians, speaks for itself. Our governments happily stick their beaks where its not wanted, using the ideologies of spreading moral and democratic values as an excuse to invade, occupy and war against foreign nations. And they do this in OUR name! But when those same values and ideologies, thought lacking abroad in tin-pot dictatorships, are exercised at home, what happens?

One of two things happen….either it’s stamped out with force via the local constabulary, or it’s simply ignored, viewed with the same disdain as an annoying mosquito. In the case of the “Occupy” protests now spreading globally it seems that BOTH methodologies have been implemented. The police crack down on protestors, and the government feigns deafness and expects that we’ll all get bored after a week and return to our humdrum proletariat little lives.

Take a look at the video, and then decide yourself what you’ll do next… lie down and take it, or speak up and find your voice to tell your government that you’re not putting up with their corruption, their cheating and their crap any longer. Exercise YOUR universal rights and demand a government for the people, BY the people!