Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 229

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Monday - Friday, November 21 - 25 2011 (diary, politics)

Cartoon in 'The Economist' Nov.12, 2011, p.58 Yes, the picture in Europe looks grimmer by the day. The Southern members in trouble desperately want to stay within the Euro zone, while the rich North would like to kick them out, or alternatively leave the Euro themselves.
Like in The Netherlands for example, where the pro-Europeans are squeezed to almost irrelevance by the Socialists (PvdA) from the left and Wilder's Freedom Party from the right.
Ignorance and populism are rife in Europe. But having said that, they are certainly not alone in the Western world in that regard.

But be careful what you wish for. By breaking away, one way or the other, the Southern countries' debt burden (now calculated using a heavily down graded new currency) would increase dramatically, while the Euro itself would increase substantially, making the rich North uncompetitive on the world market and decrease the value of the foreign assets they hold.

The Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter once wrote (I read in The Economist's Special report, Nov.12) :

"The monetary system of a people reflects everything that the nation wants, does, suffers, is."

Brilliantly put ! The trouble with Europe of course is that it is not really a united "nation" at all. Travelling through Europe, at no point do you get any sense at all of unity. The various cultures and attitudes are as diverse and nationalistic as they were before the Euro, and this does not look like changing at all. Certainly not as long as Europe's political leaders are swayed by populist majorities, and fail the courage to lead from the front.
Yet something like this is required if Europe wishes to remain a credible economic and political force in the world, let alone being able to keep up with the rapidly growing giant nations of East Asia.

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Saturday - Wednesday, November 26 - 30 2011 (diary, politics)

Roxy and young Chase at play Our two dogs on the property are always good company. They prefer to be near humans, so when I sit outside my cabin, drinking a coffee or a scotch they usually join me.

Young Chase has recently discovered that there is something special with girls (Roxy) but he is as yet not quite sure what. So for the time being it is teasing, playing, and friendly fights.

I am getting evermore involved with various Bridge Club related activities which I quite enjoy.

We hope to start a second weekly session in Palmerston on Tuesday afternoons in January, which I have offered to direct. I am also helping the NT Bridge Association with setting up some online Entry forms for a large National Bridge Festival to be held in Darwin in July next year. (I will be in Europe during that time.) Besides that I do some bridge teaching and am also writing a few new lessons for my bridge course online. All good fun.

This Saturday the Arafura Bridge Club is having their Christmas lunch at the Casuarina Club and 66 of us will be attending. It should be a good event.

In Australia the politicians are having a race with the journalists downwards into a bottomless pit of trivial nonsense and irrelevances. A Labour front bencher (Albanese), shown in a TV clip, was ranting and raving against the Opposition Leader (Tony Abbott) about him being asleep during the Mining Tax debate in Parliament to only wake up at the end of it to vote "no" against it.
Albanese went on and on about this in the most infantile pathetic fashion, repeating the same thing over and over again. I found it embarrassing to watch. Is this the level of our National political debates ???   However three journalists, watching the clip on the ABC TV program "Insiders" last Sunday found it "Albanese's best Parliamentary performance in years!" I was absolutely flabbergasted, I can tell you.

In stark, refreshing contrast of this, I watched an interview of Ian Murry (formerly the Managing Director of Australia's largest bank, now in charge of Australia's $60 billion "Future Fund") on ABC TV's "Lateline" program.
Murry pointed out that the European politicians deserved more credit for their efforts and understanding of the crisis than was generally acknowledged. "They simply do not have the proper tools to do the job." he said, and then went on "Europe has monetary union, but no fiscal union, and they have economic union but no union in industrial relations or social regulations. That makes the problem very difficult to fix."

It is reassuring to see that what Australia lacks in political talent and intelligence is amply made up for by some level headed brilliant leaders in Australia's private business world.

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