William Thien

Archive for May 2012

It appears that the Eurozone is suffering from a similar circumstance that the former Soviet Union did during The Cold War, or bringing a myriad of states, all of them speaking different languages, using different currencies, and having often drastically different cultures, into one administrative system. It was an administrative nightmare for the Soviets. I’m not likening The Eurozone to The Soviet Union, one being free market, The Eurozone, and the other Communist, or The Former Soviet Union, but there are obvious administrative similarities.

One of the major problems the former Soviet Union had in dealing with its member states is the resentment of the variety of people from the different states having to adopt one administrative language, Russian, and one currency for the most part throughout, the Ruble. The net effect the various people believed was an erasure of their own culture in exchange for one they had difficulty accepting, or forced cultural adaptation, as would naturally be the case given the circumstances.

With the member states of The Eurozone having to adopt the Euro as their currency, not only is there a gradual erasure of culture due to the administrative commonalities of managing the Euro over the continent, there is a period of withdrawal involved which may last decades as citizens used to doing things “the old way,” using the old currency, want to see a return to “the old days.”

Furthermore, austerity may as well be more socially and or culturally acceptable in some Eurozone countries as a method of dealing with financial hardships than in others. Greece, of late, seems to be having the most difficulty dealing with austerity as a way of handling its financial crises. Cultural differences and The Tower of Babel syndrome, among other things, helped lead to the break up of the Soviet Union.

Many of the same circumstances exist in The Eurozone as did in the former Soviet Union. Will they lead to the same outcome is the question?

But there are other significant questions which we may consider given the parallels between the two, The Eurozone and The Former Soviet Union. Is the possible breakup of The Eurozone something to be concerned about? Will it have a massive negative effect upon The Global Economy as the Euro becomes revalued with each state that exits the Eurozone economy? Perhaps we can examine such potential by examining what happened to eastern Europe when The Soviet Union separated.

There are a lot of questions to be answered. Let’s hope we can answer them and provide economic solutions before it is too late.

Unless of course there is nothing to be concerned about at all, which of course is quite possible. It’s just that with the emotional component of world markets mixed in there, it is highly unlikely.

Copyright © William Thien 2012

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I was at the supermarket the other day in need of a tomato. The tomatoes seemed kind of pricey to me and while examining them to determine if I really wanted one, I noticed the little sticker they place on fruits and vegetables these days with a code on it so the cashier knows what to charge. There was a four digit code on the sticker and then a small emblem that said “Product of Mexico.”

Not finding a suitable tomato in that bin I stepped over to the next, the Beefsteak tomatoes, and began examining them. Low and behold, those tomatoes had an emblem on them that also said “Product of Mexico.”

The tomatoes weren’t exactly cheap. And for some reason I decided I didn’t need any tomatoes that day. I had heard also a while back in the news that some Mexican farmers have been found to have used human waste to fertilize their strawberry fields. I don’t know if that is reliable information or not, but the idea is certainly distasteful. That may have had something to do with my decision not to purchase the Mexican tomatoes. They sell Mexican grown strawberries from time to time where I shop and I don’t buy them, either.

Though I did need some lettuce. I picked up a volleyball sized head of iceberg lettuce and then went about my shopping. Upon gently setting some American ground beef into my cart I noticed that the plastic wrapper on the lettuce also had a “Product of Mexico” emblem on it.

The place I usually shop is the largest supermarket chain in my area. They generally have decent quality produce and their prices are usually competitive. Yet I admit to being somewhat surprised that a large portion of their fresh produce was from Mexico.

After noticing that the lettuce was from Mexico as well, for some reason, and I don’t know why, the discussion of illegal immigration in The United States immediately came to mind. Often during the debates about the matter the question comes up or is uttered from the mouth of someone advocating for illegals, “What would growers of fruits and vegetables in The United States do without illegal migrant farm workers from Mexico to pick their products?” Consequently, many of us have kind of looked the other way, believing in a sense somehow that we actually benefit from the presence of illegal immigrants here in The US. But do we really?

From what I can tell, a large amount of the produce is coming from Mexico already where I shop, anyway. Doesn’t that negate the need for the all the migrant farm workers which are most often here illegally in The United States?

And it raises the question, is the only reason that “producers” or “growers” or whomever need illegals around is because they want dirt cheap labor? The reason I ask is that it must totally undermine our own country’s working classes to have people willing to come from across the border to work for pennies on the dollar and willing to live in the barn and then go away when you tell them because they are concerned about being rounded up by immigration officials if they don’t leave.

It raises the questions, do we really need all of the illegal immigrants now if we are getting our produce from Mexico already anyway? Will the influx of produce grown in Mexico solve the problem of illegal immigration from across our southern border?

But the most significant question of them all is, and I think it is a question that you can still ask even if you are a conservative (because just because you are a working stiff doesn’t mean you can’t be a conservative) the question is, is the real reason we haven’t pursued the problem of illegal immigration in The United States more thoroughly, is the real reason because certain elements of our society actually want to undermine our own working classes in The US in order to insure lower cost labor?

I think we already know what the answer to that question is. “Si, Senior!”

Copyright © William Thien 2012

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Nobody can argue that the public debate on how to create more jobs in these difficult times is not important. The problem I have with that debate is that it is being waged by politicians.

Most politicians are not running for a position that will have that much of an effect on private sector job creation to begin with. Most politicians are in the business of seeing that government services are rendered effectively at the municipal, state, and federal level, right on up to The President’s Office.

The job of a mayor or even a governor for that matter is not really to create jobs, it is to see to it that the roads are passable and that the water is clean, to name two of the most important municipal responsibilities. But knowing that there has been a shortage of jobs in The United States for some time, the debate during campaigns has turned to job creation. Knowing that people are desperate for decent jobs and that it will get their attention in a campaign ad, politicians and their shrewd campaign staffs have changed the focus with promises of huge numbers of good jobs and a renewal of what was once a vibrant economy. It sounds great! But there is a problem with that.

Politicians can certainly help create an environment where good jobs can be had by decreasing certain types of taxation and creating a regulatory environment conducive to attracting business, but the politicians themselves don’t actually create the jobs. So all the campaign promises about great jobs are really a sort of gamble, a type of fluff that the politicians know the public will buy into in the campaign ads because the population is so hungry for decent jobs. It’s political sleight of hand.

What is significant about the ads promising great jobs is that it allows the politicians to change the focus away from their own actual job, to see to it that their municipal responsibilities are completed and done well. It makes the citizen focus on so called job creation by the politicians rather than asking why there are five inch deep holes in the roads on the way to work or why there is water high in carcinogens coming from the faucet?

I don’t know when exactly that it happened that politicians became, or thought they had become the creator of private sector jobs in The United States. But whenever it was, it was likely the same time politicians began neglecting their “real jobs” on a massive scale. And maybe its time everyone sent their elected officials a letter and reminded them about their real jobs. Perhaps if politicians did their “real jobs,” the “real jobs” would come for the rest of those looking for the “real jobs.”

Copyright © William Thien 2012

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It will be interesting to see what happens with those EU or Eurozone states that have decided via the democratic process to trend away from the austerity measures put in place recently and those that hold fast.

What will happen with the EU? Will it split up and the member states return to their original composition? Or do the member states need the stronger economies within the EU to remain solvent? Are we witnessing the eventual dissolution of The Euro?

What is interesting about the democratic events in Europe is that we now have a laboratory that we can use to examine what method of state governance works best in industrial societies. We can examine how those states that proceed with austerity measures come out of the global recession and those that decide not to draw back so thoroughly on government programs.

And finally, which country will still be overtaxing its citizens?

Copyright © William Thien 2012

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I’ve often considered the matter of free speech and the media and how individual citizens are treated as if they are “products” to be packaged and sold to the public by the media, in particular without the express consent of the individual citizen.

Media outlets are known to begin collecting information about private citizens whom they feel may be of interest to the general public further down the road. Telephones are tapped. Private detectives are hired sometimes. “Sources” are paid sometimes for years to accumulate information about people.

Cowardly mechanisms of innuendo and slander are activated to demoralize or soften “the product” for the “big media push.”

Tabloids send photographers out to try and catch increasingly influential citizens in potentially compromising circumstances, filing the photos for possible future use. Files of social behavior are created about individual citizens to be brought forth when someone becomes a more public figure and thus offers more “social entertainment value.”

In a sense, much like the life cycle of a product manufactured by a corporation, individual citizens are often “prepped” for sale to the public by the media well in advance of any actual activity which may necessitate some form of societal intervention into that person’s life.

Perhaps that person has had a run in with some portion of that media corporation (some media corporations are multi-faceted and are involved in many other industries and not just media, with the media arm of the corporation acting as the public relations realm of the corporation. As an example, and not to pick on GE, but it is a good example of such a corporation where there are layers of manufacturing subsidiaries of all variety and then NBC, a media giant). Those such media corporations are in fact run just like a manufacturing corporation but are often more profitable because the products, people, us, the products are walking around on the face of the earth, essentially free for the taking, mining, extracting, whatever you want to call it, simply because that media corporation claims to be utilizing (hiding behind) the freedom of speech clause in The Constitution of The United States.

But somehow I don’t see that the founding fathers of the country and the framers of The Constitution and Bill of Rights had such behavior in mind as such nefarious and toxic social behavior perpetrated by the modern American media, especially, expressly, and solely for the sake of profit.

Freedom of Speech is freedom of speech. Freedom of Speech is not the right to begin creating a military style dossier designed to assassinate the character of a private citizen whom for example may disagree with what something some subsidiary of a media corporation is doing. Freedom of Speech is not the right to physically alter a person’s circumstances in order to accumulate information about that person nor does Freedom of Speech confer any right to pursue a person’s character. Freedom of Speech is just that, the right to speak or print, display, or transfer information.

Somehow I think that has been bastardized somewhere along the way perhaps by an invertebrate court afeared of what the all-powerful media may do to their careers.

Clearly there are definite benefits to having a free and open media, but there are few benefits to society if any of a parasitic and predatory one.

Copyright © William Thien 2012

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