Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
A little marital discussion
She thinks that:"it is all too easy for us to respond to such terror in a way which undermines commitment to our most deeply held values and convictions and which cheapens our right to call ourselves a civilised nation". See here.
I think Cherie and Tony, have some talking to do. Tony, don't listen too much to that lawyer talk.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Histoire de belge
The second histoire relates to the first, namely the presence or absence of emergency plans for when things go wrong in Brussels (as for example with terrorist attacks becoming a part of weekly reality in Europe).
Sunday, July 24, 2005
The greatest Belgian
My favorite challengers are Rene Magritte because we Belgians live in a surrealist state. But my alltime favorite is Flor Grammens. (if you google on his name, something should come up). He was also a painter, far less creative than Magritte but a respectful painter anyway.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Sad Sad Sad Day
King Albert 6.048.602 euro
Queen Fabiola 1.115.521 euro
Prince Filip 788.302 euro
Laurent / Astrid 272.683 euro
Long live Moneyarchy!
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Yes, terrorist organizations and democratic parties are really the same. What has he been smoking? If there is one nation that knows how important it is to stop these attacks, then it is Israel and Likud. (However, some say that Likud is too compromising, and that the withdrawal from Gaza is perceived as a victory by the Palestinians which reheats the whole conflict. See here and here.)
Anyway, Livingstone likes to flirt with the Muslim voter at the expense of Jews and gays.
Virgil is in the news
And secondly because of the terrorist attacks in London, who says terrorism has to mention somewhere along the road immigration, and if you mention immigration in GB, you have to mention Enoch Powell citing Virgil. See here and here.
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Blaming the victim
This is not about "blaming the victim." Nobody can be blamed for the culture he was born into. But neither should he be kept mired in that culture, in the name of "identity" or with the pretense that all cultures are equal.
The politics of minories
For the record, the quote is about the democrats.
"It's obvious that what concerns them is not that these nominees aren't real minorities, but rather that they aren't their kind of minority. You know, the kind that asks for permission before they speak and makes sure that what they say falls in line with the views of their liberal benefactors."
Iraq: the nature-nurture debate
"The natural impulse to dislike outsiders is so strong that it barely matters who the outsiders are. When experimental psychologists divide subjects into purely arbitrary groups - by the color of their eyes, their taste in art, the flip of a coin - the members of a group quickly become so hostile to the other group that they'll try to deny rewards to the outsiders even at a cost to themselves. And when the members of a group really have something in common, like family ties, they're willing to fight outsiders even if it means their own deaths. Xenophobia produced genetic rewards for hunter-gatherer clans."
Genes however seem to allow for some variation in that dislike around the world. The experiments I know of, do not lead to terrorist attacks on the basis of who has which eyecolor. For those who have more affinity with the nurture explanation than the nature explanation there is still T.E. Lawrence:
"The Semites' idea of nationality," he wrote, "was the independence of clans and villages, and their ideal of national union was episodic combined resistance to an intruder. Constructive policies, an organized state, an extended empire, were not so much beyond their sight as hateful in it. They were fighting to get rid of Empire, not to win it."
Monday, July 04, 2005
Book review: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
The book thus definately has an antiglobalist core to it. It is also not just an autobiography but mostly a tool to show that the US is greedy and together with multinational companies the source of all evil. In the preface, the author utters the classic leftist idea that terrorism is caused by poverty -which plenty of researchers have proved false but the author is not bothered by any evidence. Next he disputes "the idea that all economic growth benefits humankind and the greater the growth, the more widespread the benefits". Let us all move to Myanmar, North Korea or Cuba because these countries are at least not part of the 'global empire', as Perkins describes it. Another example "in many cases helping an economy grow only makes those few people who sit atop the pyramid even richer, while it does nothing for those at the bottom except to push them even lower". Marx is alive and kicking. Need more? "They (his capitalist colleagues) were convinced that communism and terrorism were evil forces" writes Perkins, "rather than the predictable reactions to decisions they and their predecessors had made". Hmmm, Perkins do we need to reappricate communism (with more than 100 million casualties) and terrorism?
Let us assume for now that the author was indeed an EHM, and what he factually describes is true. What do we learn from this? To be even more sceptical of development aid. I dont know if John Perkins realizes this but his book is again a story against empowering governments and political bodies in giving aid.
I am reminded of the fact that those countries that receive aid and money are the least capable of handling the aid. They do not have the institutions therefore aid and development as conceived by Bono, Geldof and others is dangerously naive. It only serves one purpose to make the organizers and those who attend to feel better. Countries are stimulated this way to be corrupt, and moreover they are being rewarded for being corrupt. When emotions guide decision-making, we are all worse off.
Sunday, July 03, 2005
Quote of the day
Anyway, one of the most discussed ideas of her book is so-called proportional voting. Instead of giving everybody one vote, you give people several votes. Minorities then can use these votes en bloc and gain power from this bundling of votes. (At least that is the theoretical idea, if I recall well.)
Paul Jacobs, an American conservative makes fun of her while discussing the debate over the future replacement of Supreme Court judge O'Connor.
"So, if these nominees don't please Democrats in the Senate or the Washington interest groups, perhaps there is another way. Take a page from Lani Guinier and establish a form of weighted voting. So, rather than pick a brand new justice, simply let Clarence Thomas vote twice on every decision."
Dutch Radio and TV
Friday, July 01, 2005
Clash of Cultures
Most speakers were older, and I guess quite sentimental and fond of (intellectual) history. So the actual topic of the debate was the Enlightenment and its different meanings. In the end I agreed mostly with Bolkestein, and less with Gray and Buruma, and certainly not with Hanafi.
Buruma was going on about the detrimental effect of the nationstate (later joined by Hanafi). The implicit argument thus was: religion doesnt matter. Hanafi was telling us lies, plain lies. I ll give you two: (1) Islam is secular, (2) in Islam there is a personal relationship between the believer and God.
Detail: a former student of Hanafi, Dr. Nasr Abou Zeid had to flee Egypt because he basically said that the Koran although the word of God should be seen as a document of its time. This is how far the personal relationship goes. No comments were made by Hanafi on the influence of the clerus or e.g. the Al Azhar university which resides also in Cairo.
Too often there is too much respect in these debates. Sometimes it would be better if somebody knocked on the table and said: bullshit! (Harry G. Frankfurt has written a small book on this topic.)
Thursday, June 30, 2005
The difficulty of shaking hands
What does the left say about respect again? And should not director Dewitte of the Center against Racism and Discrimination intervene? Or are these mere cultural differences...
PS Shall we read an article in the magazine Mo next week on this issue?
UPDATE: After refusing to shake hands, they refused to attend a reception at which alcohol would be served. See here.
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
2X2 great bloggers
MO and NEY
Once in a while Trends or Knack will publish something that has some economical common sense to it, but in general they also drown in socialist rethorics. There is even worse. If you take a subscription to Knack you automatically get this magazine called Mo (Mondiaal Magazine) too, which is by the way (partly) paid for by the DGOS, Belgian development cooperation (read the taxpayer).
This week they have an article with the title "we need more taxes"... yeah sure, we get the logic -> more taxes -> more DGOS -> more for MO!!! It is all about the MO, MO, MOney.
Never is there a substantial argument that more taxes will lead to a better world. It all about making it sound nicely, throw in words like moral, ethics, obligation, etc... not bothered at all by any knowledge of econonics. People rather hear nice lies, than ugly truths. Forget that East European countries with the flat tax leave poverty faster than those who do not have a flat tax. But yeah, facts ... who need facts? Neo-Marxism is alive and kicking.
By the way, an article on Mugabe's this week would not have been a bad idea... but no again anti-capitalism, anti-Israel, ... fills the pages, paid by the taxpayers.
PS The economist has some facts on the flat tax. See here and here.
On the rule of law
"Quick elections solve little. Often they make matters worse by strengthening fundamentalist elements, these usually being the best organized and the citizenry not being ready to make fully informed electoral decisions. Instead, we should press for more modest goals: political participation, the rule of law (including an independent judiciary), freedom of speech and religion, property rights, minority rights, and the right to form voluntary organizations (especially political parties). In short, we should urge the formation of a civil society. Elections are not the start of the democratic process but its capstone and finale, the signal that a civil society has indeed come into existence."
I agree with Pipes. But his "modest goals" are the toughest goals and therefore extremely ambitious.
Belgian Marshallplan, another absurdity
They still haven't realize that all the transfers that take place now (coming from Flanders and from the EU), exceed by at least three or four times annualy the level of the Marshallplan which was in contrary limited in time.
Peter Bauer where are thou?
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Dying to Win
When atheists start loving the pope...
Strange bedfollows indeed, Fallaci and Ratzinger. Some would say that the principle: the enemy of the enemy is my friend can explain to length such sympathies. Recently some other atheist explained it to me as searching a counterweight for multiculturalism (with Islam as a central issue). That counterweight is then the Catholic Church or Christianity in general.
We are reminded here of the great historian Edward Gibbon who wrote The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire over two hundred years ago in which he commented not only on Christianity but also on Islam.
Gibbon makes no secret of his admiration of the Turks, and he derides both the effeminate Greeks and the crude Franks who went on the First Crusade? Why?The simple answer is that Gibbon was a religious skeptic, and like other skeptics of the 18th century, he was irritated by Christian morality that told him to take only one wife, whom he could not divorce. The sensuality of the Muslim view of life and the afterlife and the cynicism of its politics appeals to the imagination of anti-Christian skeptics of every age and, at the very least, prepares them to take the Muslim side in very Balkan war.
For the entire piece, see here.
Well you have the newcomers, all sort of immigrants (refugees, family reunion etc) and they have to get accustumed to their new society so we the government organize these courses for them.
So far these 'courses' are costing 2,500 Euro's a person. If the US had payed that much for every immigrants they received over the past hundreds of years, they would have gone bankrupt. Also the responsible minister Marino Keulen agrees in GvA that that is too much money. What will be done about it?
I am sceptic that apart from solving some language problems these kind of courses will make any difference. And we know that once a program exists it will be hard to cut down.
What is the deal? The supreme court (Stevens, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer) ok'ed that local governments can seize people's homes and businesses, when they see economic reasons in terms of development to do so and this against the will of the owners.
UPDATE. Here is an interview with a senior attorney of the plaintiffs.
UPDATE II: Souter's House, soon a Hotel?
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Minorities and the Markets
The thought is that certain 'entrepreneurial minorities' (e.g. the Jews and the Chinese) are the principle benefactors of economic openess... the majority is not too happy about this and that creates ressentment with all sorts of terrible consequences.
It seems difficult to solve this issue but Chua seems to believe a little too much in affirmative action politicies. (In this sense the interview is a bit too Rawlsian.)
In my eye they never solve solve the issue and are quite likely to aggravate the ethnic tensions. See a recent book of Sowell.
UPDATE. There is also an interesting chapter (entrepreneurial minorities) in the book Essential Outsiders of Daniel Chirot. Here the socio-economic of the Jews in Europe in the 19th century is compared to that of the Chinese diaspora in Asia in the 20th century.
The U.N. estimates up to 1.5 million people were left homeless after police
burned or demolished their shacks in what the government calls a clean up
campaign in the cities.
Anyway Mugabe was already mad, but he seems to move more closer to Mao, Stalin or Pol Pot everyday in terms of victims of his regime.
Mugabe seems to be doing exactly the opposite of what somebody like Hernando De Soto would advise him to do. And that is the legalization of property of the poor and not destroying it.
Quote of the day
“We’re going to go to the people. They (Democrats) can do whatever they want,
but this train has left the station. They can jump on the train, they can stay
behind and wave goodbye, or they can stand in front of the train, and you know
what happens then.”
The European train is still in the station I am afraid... or it derailed.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
The insitutionalization of Islam
The Belgian Muslim Council is thus supposed to be an instrument for the government have a better knowledge of what is going in the environment of the different Muslim communities in Belgium. "If we subsidize the whole thing, they will listen better...."
Despite the fact that Islam means peace (it doesn't), the Belgian security service needs to screen each candiate. I guess that has its reasons. I believe that the first time over 20 of the 68th candidates were refused... somewhat comparable with the recent elections in Iran. Here supposedly the fundamentalists, there the moderates. Nevertheless in a number of cases, the political establishment did not find it wise to follow the advise of the security service, so a number of extremists were welcomed. Instead of dealing with a problem of religious fundamentalism, the goverment is encouraging it.
What is the problem now? The previous executive board of that council blocked the building, so the newly elected council could not enter. Anyway, these Muslim councils seem to have quite a lot of problems. In France, in jaruary the last woman quitted a similar council. Again a perfect example how the solution to a problem becomes an even bigger problem. See also here and here. And what about the following claim:
"Only about 10% of French Muslims pray at mosques regularly, a fact secular Muslims cite to argue that the CFCM is not representative of all Muslims here."
So the argument can well be made that the government is worsening integration and as such achieving what it wants to avoid in first place: problems of integration. What happened to the separation of church and state, or better mosque and church?
It is the attitude, stupid! II
Go out now and read Edward Banfield's The moral basis of a backward society, a book on a small Southern Italian village. Although it is a small book I believe it contains quite a few lessons on economic development, not only for Italy ...
Let's look at today's Iraq. Steven Vincent reports in National Review from Basra on what he calls 'self-defeating behavior'. The examples are quasi-absurd:
-a 911 line that receives 95% of useless calls,
-collecting the garbage that is already collected,
-having a weekend from thuersday to friday,
But again why wouldn't democracy florish in the Middle East? Which cultural obstacles?
Steven Pinker, segregation and immigration?
I was wondering how does this connect to the issue of mixed schools (with immigrants and natives) and to mixed neighborhoods? These are issues that have in the debate quite a lot, in both The Netherlands and Belgium (and I assume other European countries as well).
If the environment and the peers matter that much with regard to certain behaviorial traits then we would be in favor of a more mixed situation. (How to achieve this mix is another question.)
It's the attitude, stupid!
This has many reasons, some point to poor schooling or bad language skills (in short human capital). Other say that discrimination and racism is rampant. Depending on the explanation of the unemployement different suggestions are being made. Some say we need quota, mostly those on the left side (we already know that quota's and affirmative action programs do not work very well. see research of Sowell). The VLD liberal Bart Somers has recently discussed another issue: mentality of the immigrants. See also here.
I think this is a big explanatory factor. A politically incorrect factor but a very significant one.
Human capital explanation thus should be comprised of cognitive factors (IQ, education) but also of socalled non-cognitive factors such as motivation and persistence. These latter factors, mentiality and attitude are a lot less tangible and left out of the picture by many economists (other social scientists leave them out for political correctness). Nobel price winner Heckman is doing some important work on these issues. (see here for an interview, and here for a short wrapup).
What does Heckman suggest? Well he says that non-cognitive factors can be influenced at later age (after 8) while purely cognitive factors are more difficult to change.
"Because non-cognitive skills are more easily improved during adolescence than are cognitive skills and they often stabilize in the formative years, public policy can help stimulate their development over longer periods. For instance, while IQ is well set by age 8, non-cognitive skills such as dependability continue to develop."With regard to immigration, I only know of George Borjas who has talked briefly about these issues in relation to his concept of ethnic capital. But it has not exactly been empirically verified so far.
Time to buy this book.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Thomas and Thomas
Anyway there is one thing you need to know about Clarence, from a legal dictionary:
In 1975, when Thomas read Race and Economics by economist Thomas Sowell, he found an intellectual foundation for this philosophy. The book criticized social reforms by government and instead argued for individual action to overcome circumstances and adversity. Thomas later said the book changed his life.
Now Sowell is backing up Clarence, finally.
What do Canada and N-Korea/Cuba have in common?
(1) succesfull hockeyplayers
(2) they are heading the same political direction
(3) are all neighbours of the US
(4) are all part of the axis of evil
Enough ... I will tell you what they have in common. It has something to do with the health care system. Sally Pipes, in Opinionjournal.com; Canada is the only nation other than Cuba and North Korea that bans private health insurance.
However the public health system doesnt seem to be working very well. The Canadian supreme court said that "access to a waiting list is not access to health care".
PS Thanks God that Robert Stevaert moved already to Limburg to become 'governor of the province' there. Considering his fascination for Cuba he could very well have been in favor on the Canadian ban.
The way democracy works?
"Belgium continues its call for the ratification process of the European Constitution to go ahead as planned despite the resounding "No" from France and the Netherlands."
What is protest?
Well if it is Greenpeace, and the house is a compagny it is called 'protest' or even better: 'action'! Nothing is safe in this in country for eco-fundamentalism. Time for some Danish solutions to these illegal activities.
Monday, June 13, 2005
Quote of the day
It is a bit like biking on an old an rusty bike (the Belgian economy) with only some air left in both tires. So both should be pumped up. No, what does Verhofstadt suggest? That we should pump up one tire, and leave some more air out of the other tire. Will that make us bike any faster?
It was a bit the same on the recent convention of the liberal party VLD about the flat tax. It was there that another Belgian invention reached the surface: the "step-tax". A flat tax with two levels. And they still dare to call it flat tax. Why will the liberals loose the elections again?
One smart man left...
All those on the left side of the political isle are against. Why?
(1) cheap energy is not important, especially not for the poor
(2) they are not really serious about the CO2 problem (which they believe exist)
(3) they have friends which produce expensive and bird-killing windmills
(4) the economy is booming, and we really will not have an energy problem for the future
(5) ecologists believe all energy should be generated by a tredmill in which their political opponents walk the entire day
(6) nuclear energy is only important and allowed in the case of Teheran
Sunday, June 12, 2005
Is the European myth over?
(1) nationalism is a problem
(2) Europe is the solution to nationalism
(3) Europe is the solution to developing backward regions and economies
(4) Europe is a credible alternative to the US's 'cowboy capitalism'
Unfortunately these myths might have supported the No rather than the Yes vote?! This would mean a confirmation of the myths and the rejections of the European constitution would mean the myth is alive and kicking.
Saturday, June 11, 2005
Global warming is like dating
Global warming is the same; someone tells you there is a problem, others however tell you it is bogus and their arguments aren't easily rejected either. So you are in doubt. You could address this issue with a lot of money. But there are a zillion other problems out there as well. What do you do?
Look here for the Copenhagen Solution. As Thomas Sowell always says "there are no solutions, only trade-offs".
PS Important is also to ask who the 'friend' is! If he once belonged to the club of Rome, you have reason to be skeptical. If he recently got charged with terrorism too.
Friday, June 10, 2005
Two politicians for the future
Another guy that will become secretary of state in the US is Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International. This magazine will serve as his platform. (By the way I know very few editors with their own website, which already illustrates something.)
However recently Zakaria commented on the European Constitution and the socio-economic problems Europe is having. He makes some suggestions to solve the problems:
Of course, what Europe desperately needs is more of all the trends that are producing populist paranoia. It needs more economic reform to survive in a new era of global competition, more young immigrants to sustain its social market and a more strategic relationship with the Muslim world, which would be dramatically enhanced by Turkish membership in the EU.(1) economic reform: YES, YES, did I already say YES;
(2) more young immigrants... this is the most difficult one. And this suggestion can only be implemented after economic reform. Why? Because many young immigrants are unemployed in the EU, especially since many immigrants are low educated. (A point system a la Borjas could remedy this, but with attention to cultural esp. religious factors.)
(3) Turkish membership to the EU... It is too much of risk, economically and socio-culturally. By the way the EU will want to see some changes (in relation to the Kurds, or the Armenian genocide) which will be unpopular with the Turkish population. EU membership and so could even worsen relationships with Turkey.
Throw away the rotten things
It is a trick, put it in the fridge, and when things get more calm, take it out and serve it again. Forget that it was rotten in the first place. Not in the fridge, but in the dustbin or even better, the fireplace.
Is it still a mystery?
Clarence and the pot-smokers
This was not a good decision for anyone who believes there are Constitutional limits on the federal leviathan.I must agree, however I read very few opinions on Townhall, a conservative magazine who are advocating this position. Will anybody come to the defense of Clarence Thomas:
The majority prevents states like California from devising drug policies that they have concluded provide much-needed respite to the seriously ill. (...) Our federalist system, properly understood, allows California and a growing number of other states to decide for themselves how to safeguard the health and welfare of their citizens."
A porn actress called Mary Carey and her boss Mark Kukis went to a fundraiser of the republican party. They are fiscally conservative and socially liberal, I always thought those are called libertarian. I was wrong, from now we call them Southpark-conservatives.
Thursday, June 09, 2005
Bush smarter than Kerry?
Kerry, who graduated two years before Bush, got a cumulative 76 for his four years, according to a transcript that Kerry sent to the Navy when he was applying for officer training school. He received four D's in his freshman year out of 10 courses, but improved his average in later years.
For the record, Bush's score:
In 1999, The New Yorker published a transcript indicating that Bush had received a cumulative score of 77 for his first three years at Yale and a roughly similar average under a non-numerical rating system during his senior year.
Simple math, 77 is higher than 76. Bush was and is smarter!
The victims of crimes
Thomas Sowell, a black conservative has made a similar claim about blacks in the US, who are the victim of crimes to higher proportion. Read here.
"Violent crime is another social problem that hits blacks especially hard. In some years, there are more blacks than whites murdered in absolute numbers. However, even in high-crime neighborhoods, most people are not criminals, but are more likely to be victims of crime. That is especially true of black ghettos. In some of these neighborhoods, the probability that a young black man will be killed is greater than the probability that an American soldier would be killed in World War II."
He is described, and I believe describes himself as conservative. However, there are different kind of conservatives. I think it would correct to described him as a European neo-conservaties. Why?
(1) In favor of a European Federation. Kinneging has a certain obsession in creating a unified europe that is on a more equal footing with the US, China and Russia. (Paleo-)conservatives would be more in favor of 'state rights', in this case not that interested in the creation of a European superstate.
(2) Political participation. Kinneging seems to have pretty naive ideas about encouraging people to more political participation. (Paleo-)conservatives in general believe apathy to be a more crucial ingredient. People have other things to do, like make a living.
(3) Most neo-cons were either Marxist or Maoist in their younger years... Kinneging admits to growing up in the shadow of may '68 and all of its influences.
Freya Van den Bossche, socialist minister of 'work' wants to cut down on early retirements. The logic of companies hiring younger people when they are allowed to sack the old while the government pays part of the deal has never worked. Because in the end somebody has to pay the pensions of these pre-pensioners. And that are the young people whose labor is taxed extra-ordinarily high. Results way too many retire and way too few get hired. So reform is urgently needed. At the moment Vdb is announcing her proposal to reform the system. At the same time however a compagny in the political backyard of the PS, gets a deal where it puts 1600 people into early retirement. NIMPBY, remember it! This example is what I understand by Giddens third way: blabla solutions.
I always though that politics had to do with solving collective action problems. But in Europe the Welfare state has reached a point where it only creates collective action problems.
(2) Bart Staes MEP and a member of the Flemish Green Party, wants to have the tobacco companies playing a greater role against the sales of cigarettes on the black market. Well, what the logic of the common enemy isn’t responsible for.
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Are Europeans Romantic?
The collectivist feelers base their appeal for a right to health care on the presumption that health care is necessary. However, as I have learned by reading the work of economists such as John Wennberg -- and as I have pointed out here and here -- much health care is in fact discretionary. By that I do not mean unnecessary, but still above and beyond the sort of acute care or basic services which are called to mind when the phrase "right to health care" is invoked.
I wonder which European politician would dare to tell the truth? Bolkestein maybe. Being honest with the voters, unfortunately doesnt pay of. You just have to be 'romantic'.
The Buffet Syndrome
...it's called the buffet syndrome; The food is there; take what you want; you pay a token price. You've paid your taxes? Well, this is for you. And the waste is incredible. If you watch the hotels that provide these buffets on Sunday, people take two or three times what they can consume, and it goes into the garbage can.
What does this have to with Belgium? Good question. The socialist minister of Health Demotte wants that doctors prescribe more cheap or generic medicins. You cannot regulate this top down, it won't work. First of all the idea. When the government decides to tell doctors what they can precribe and what not, well... do I need to say that this is absurd. I want to be diagnozed by a doctor, not by Demotte. Secondly, too many interests at stake of the doctors, of the medicin business etc. Thirdly, from a policy making view, I wanna see how Demotte thinks to push this through. Not all doctors have the same patients, not all can satisfied with generic medication. And if there will be a quota of 20%, well this will lead to communist situations.
Demotte's problem is very genuine, bringing down health costs. But this will only work if you have the consumer pay (more) of the bill. What kept our health system more... healthy than the neighbours like The Netherlands was 'remgeld', the personal contribution of the patient. Solution is thus privatization. Or at least partial privatization as Moens, of the syndicate of the doctors has suggested.
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
My question is to what extent this applies to European minority groups? Like Turks in Germany e.g.? And would it be the same for men as for women?
The race of a waterbuffalo?
In 1993, the Penn judicial system prosecuted a student for caling some noisy students “water buffaloes,” a term the system claimed violated the student speech code's prohibition of racist comments. But the term “water buffalo” was widely understood to have no racial meaning. History professor Kors took up the cause of the prosecuted student, turning the case into a national showcase of the absurdities of political correctness run amok. Using the public reaction as leverage, Kors was able to use the case to promote significant institutional change at Penn, including the abolition of the student code.
Milan Kundera, not a lightweight either called her the pioneer of modern journalism.
Anyway her book introduced me to another Belgian idiot: professor emeritus in economy Louis Baeck. Who claimed that the founder of economic science is Mohammed, and not Adam Smith. Yeah, knowing the Belgian logic, I wouldnt be surprised if this guy gets hired for a commission on economic reform. We already know from the previous statement how successful it will be.
Central Planned Economy II
People that rent out buildings, houses, rooms that are in a condition that the government doesnt think meets the minima. Anyway, my question is why would people rent those if there would the same kind of housing that is better? It is the simple law of demand and supply. If we want more homeless people or people spending more of their budget than they can afford on housing then we should just keep on intervening. But we can also offer a solution for that problem, rent subsidies. The government will solve everything.
Now we have another liberal mister of 'living' Marino Keulen, who wants the state to decide which houses should be renovated and when. And of course the owner can pay again. Haleloeia. In Portugal the liberals are called social democrats, in Belgium the socialists are called liberal.
The liberal recepy of Verhofstadt & Co for economic growth: regulation!
Central Planned Economy?
The liberal minister of economy Marc Verwilghen wants to stop Ebay from selling tickets at exorbitant prices. If people are willing to pay ridiculous prices for a ticket, that is their issue. I am amazed that again, the liberals which are supposedly in favor the free market wish to interfere so much in its daily practice. Can anybody explain me why? I really wonder how many votes the liberals are still planning to waste?
When will we celebrate?
More recently, in 1993 the Slovaks separated from the Czechs. To my impression a move that seems to benefit both countries, even the poorer Slovakia as it is able to tailor its economic policy more aptly to the Slovak situation.
When will the sad marriage that is Belgium seek a similar solution?
Monday, June 06, 2005
Another conspiracy theory
If you wanna know where Europe went wrong, read Brian M. Carney's two page analysis. Unfortunately many people still believe that government can tax us into becoming wealthy. When will Europe realize that Hayek was the economist of the 2oth century and not Keynes?
Ministery of Insults III
Defense minister Flahaut (PS) caused many rows, but one year ago he came "under heavy criticism for approving an official document that says the United States is responsible for the biggest genocide committed during the past 500 years".
This guy also claimed that the US army is inefficient. I wonder what adjective he would use to describe our army (if you can uberhaupt call it an army). And he also said that he would vote for the democrats if he were a US citizen.
What is true in both cases, the US and Belgium is that the army is used for the politics of pork. Recent example, Flahaut advocated the purchase of 90 milimeter canons... because the only company that makes ammunition for these canons is Mecar, and yes they happen to be based some where in Wallonia. It is all about the votes.
Ministery of Insults II
Biofuel will save the world... or Flanders at least
Doesn't this sound like a central planned economy?
The Flemish government is thinking of measures to encourage the cultivation of coleseed and other plants suitable for producing bio fuels." Guess who will have to pay for these measures? Those who consume the biofuel? Ofcourse not...
"Europe in the making"
But I wanted to mention something else. Justine Henin makes quite a lot of money with her exceptional tennis talents. Unfortunately the worst enemy of rightly earned money is the Belgian state. So she is considering to move a more tax friendly environment, Monaco. The hilaric thing is how Claude Eerdekens, a frenchspeaking socialist and minister of sport (yes, we have two or three ministers for everything, the Belgian way of jobcreation) commented on that possibility in GVA "I don't believe Justine moves for fiscal reasons, but for personal reasons. It is not that nice that you cannot go to a restaurant without being disturbed." This is already naive, but what comes next is fantastic: "we also have think more in terms of a Europe that constructs itself." I never knew myself, that Europe had anything to do with people moving to Monaco. If it is the case, I would be happy to join. Unfortunately, my chances of winning a Grand Slam are non-existing.
What Eerdekens is saying is actually let us create a huge bureaucracy in Brussels, so we can create some extra jobs for me and my colleagues. If public choice theory was a religion, I am a believer.
Sunday, June 05, 2005
Ministery of Insults
(His anti-war rhetorics earned him a position in the European Commission.)
Well the new minister of foreign affairs, Karel De Gucht should maybe also read such a book. He has created a diplomatic incident comparing the Dutch prime minister, Jan Peter Balkenende with Harry Potter. I agree, the haircuts are somewhat similar, but doesn't he have anything else to say in an interview? I guess not. What I found more offensive was the condescending tone on the results of the referendum in the Netherlands on Flemish public tv (Canvas).
My suggestion is Paul Belien's 'A Throne in Brussels - Britain, the Saxe-Coburgs and the Belgianisation of Europe'. Okay, it is not exactly cheap, but if you can afford the holiday, then you can spend some money on Europe's future too. When I read a book review, it reminded me of an article I read a while ago from Stephen Pollard with the title I've seen the future, it is scary and Belgian. Belien seems to be making sort of the same claim, that if the EU will look like Belgium we better not have it at all. For a recent book review see "free republic".
Alain Destexhe, a senator in the Brussels Parliament for the liberal party published a book that asks for greater openess, transparency regarding the socalled transfers: the money that flows from Flanders to Wallonia. It is a good start to diagnose the problem, even better would be to solve it. But let us not ask too much.
Instead of reading Alain Destexhe's book it would be much better to read almost anything of Peter Bauer, we are obviously in the business of development economics. For the Dutch readers there is a nice text of Hans Jansen.
Bottom line, what is sold as solidarity between regions is the stimulation of corruption in practice. Destexhe says in Knack magazine that if the Flemish solidarity stops the lifestandard in Wallonia will drop by fifteen to twenty percent. The Marshall plan, which has taken mythical proportions was never more than 5% of GDP of any recipient. Above all the Marshall plan was limited in time. But ofcourse 'solidarité' sounds much nicer than the naked truth. And as always rhetorics are more important than facts.
What is intellectual incest?
Of course originality is rewarded as well in social sciences, on the condition that one remains active within the Marxist, post-modern framework. The outcasts have only the bar and the web left. Although we prefer the bar, decent spelling requires us to be somewhat sober. Cheers.
Why do I write in English? Simply because I am too lazy to write things in Dutch first and later to translate them to English.