Friday, 21 December 2018

Mattis resigns. So should Trump.

Let's forget about whether Trump is senile, clueless or a Manchurian candidate (and these are the only choices). The motive is no longer the point, but the effect for all those of us living at the edges of the US security arrangement. One can only imagine that Erdogan, Putin and Xi are gleeful at the sheer speed with which the US administration is becoming unable to function and ceding power. Were Greece to suffer an attack, one wonders whether the US now even has the decision-making power to come to its aid. This is a big additional step to being worried about the fall of democracy in the free world. One can only hope for impeachment, but this would be bloody and divisive, and the RP would not be healed by the departure of one man. For the foreseeable future, therefore, Europe is on its own. France, Britain and Greece, the only countries with serious defence capabilities, need now to start forming a European army with its own command and control structures. 

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Greece is flogging its productive class to death

Greece has increased its taxes faster than any other developed economy over the past decade. In fact, only a minority of taxpayers carries the vast majority of the income tax burden. A new study found that 19 percent of workers pays 90 percent of income tax, and 4.5 percent of businesses pays 83 percent of corporate tax. This means one thing: the productive private sector is in its death throes. Most workers cannot earn enough to pay tax, and most businesses have very low turnover. It should tell the government that 2.2mn people still employed in the private sector can no longer support 700K public sector workers, a million unemployed and 3mn pensioners, plus children and other dependents. Greek governments have for years flogged a dying horse - no one more cruelly than Syriza. When I report on the travails of the Greeks, I see snide remarks about how they should stop whingeing and grow up etc. What people in better-governed societies may not realise is that a minority of Greeks is working very hard indeed to save the entire economy from collapse, but governments are not elected by them. They are elected by the handout majority. We have taxation without representation. Given demographic trends, other European societies could eventually end up with a similar democratic deficit.