Category Archives: Politics
Now that the World Cup has kicked off in Brazil, football is in the air all over the world, and with it, our minds are distracted from the hum-drum routine of ordinary life into the never-failing topic of corruption.
Once again there is investigation into corruption and even money laundering in football in various parts of the world. Today someone commented that football is the fifth largest channel of illegal money in the world. I do not know how they know that or where that ranking is made or how it was made, but it certainly seems to underline the conception that sport is not always healthy, also underlined this week by comedy icon Rik Mayall collapsing and dying of a heart attack after a run. I thought people ran to avoid heart attacks, not bring them on? And here he is, only six years my senior and, unlike me, in perfectly reasonable shape. I think I shall stick to walking.
Yesterday Polish media announced an investigation into the finances of former President Kwasniewski – apparently he also seems to be “considerably richer than yow” as either Shakespeare or Harry Enfield put it, I can’t remember which – they would like to know whence the abundance that hath become his portion is come.
This made me think that there should be an investigation made not only at the close of a person who holds public office but also at the beginning – an audit of their personal wealth and that of their families. Doing one at the beginning tells people to mind their Ps and Qs while serving the people on public money. This also avoids the chance that they can say that they had these investments all along.
There should be a standard work programme approved by the public affairs committee and the national chamber of auditors, or chambers where as in the UK there is more than one. The statement of personal wealth should be drawn up and signed off by the auditor stating what kinds of investigations they made in order to produce this statement and if anything in the list of procedures was not possible to do then their report should state so and give the reasons. The work would be carried out by people who have audit licences who have been screened for political neutrality, and the choice of Firm should be agreed by the public affairs committee.
The report should be held by a politically independent committee and compared to the one made after the person comes to the end of his or her office and then again 5 years later. Accumulations of wealth should be reconciled to declared sources.
All bank accounts of these public figures should be declared and unusually large expenditures or outgoing gifts should also be investigated as well as the ‘as at’ financial position. It should be an offence for a person who falls under the law to own a bank account anywhere in the world which is not declared to the auditor.
This should apply first to the heads of state. Royalty who did not choose to have their role and simply are born into it should be exempt, although they might opt in voluntarily in some countries. After the heads of state then through the cabinet, all MPs, all senior civil servants, judges, and members of committees and panels whose work determines the expenditure of public monies. Including the panels of bit sporting events who determine who is going to host football or other sporting tournaments and how the money that pours into them is going to be spent.
If this became law around the world in all the different jurisdictions that there are, we might finally get to a situation where decisions are in the hands of people who are basically honest or at least have no motivation to give vent to their dishonest tendencies.
Enjoy the games.
The above link shows an initiative by the UK government. However well-intentioned the aims might be, and however good it may do, and I hope it will, nevertheless whoever decided what to call it needs to be given a special edition framed gold-leaf P45 form (that’s a “pink slip”, by the way, for the benefit of my American readers, which my stats say are in the majority, and who are always welcome).
“Emerging Europe” and “Visehrad Four” was the term applied to these four countries way back in the end of the last century while these countries were the focus of attention, we didn’t know much about them other than that they were neighbours and that they emerged from behind the Iron Curtain at about the same time. In the mind of most Westerners Poland and its southern neighbours were expected to be quite similar and the major differences in culture between them which stretch back into the very different histories of these two areas over hundreds of years before the period of Soviet hegemony. Everyone had in their family people who knew life before, people were mentally prepared to spring back, and that is exactly what they did, with year after year of growth outstripping Western Europe and most of the rest of the world over a 20 year period, with legislative reforms and international consultation enabling unprecedented transfer of administrative know-how. These countries also had the advantage of computerising to a much more advanced level immediately than we had – their offices were not littered with massive green or amber screen monitors, most business people went straight onto Windows with its Word and Excel and cannot even remember the MS-DOS antecedents we struggled with and the hardware and software we clung too even when it was superseded in order not to waste the earlier IT investments.
The countries we are talking about avoided many of the errors made by a number of Western countries, problems now very apparent in the banking systems, education and health systems of western countries, problems with housing, transport, etc which are not so problematic in the more easterly countries.
On top of that these are countries which, apart from a very short period of forty years which is now 25 years over, were in the central current of European culture and thought, and had been for hundreds of years. When Luther nailed his 99 theses to the wall and they were being discussed days later in Oxford University, he did it in what was to become the German Democratic Republic, a country which, but for the existence of a larger brother constitutionally committed to reuniting with it, would also today be in the group you are calling ‘Emerging Europe”. If I mention the list of literary, musical, philosophical, artistic and other gems of this region the list (or should that be “liszt”?) would be very long indeed. These are not cultures which are only now emerging as Europe. You might call them rediscovered Europe, but emerging? Scarcely.
Furthermore, if we are going to continue to use the “Emerging Europe” label for successful, thriving European Union member states all fo which are in Schengen (unlike the UK) and one of which uses the Euro already (unlike the UK) and whose remaining currencies except for the HUF of late have proven to be just about as buoyant as the GBP for the last dozen or so years or better ( – take the Polish zloty for instance. 10 years ago precisely a pound would buy you 7.24 PLN. Today it will but you only 5.06 PLN. It has lost about 30% over those ten years against the zloty. Incomparison to the zloty, I’m afraid our currency looks like a soft currency against the zloty. Fact. Sorry, but fact) then what term are we going to use for countries which remain outside the EU, which continually have GDPs per head lower than 10,000 USD, which continually seem unable to introduce the reforms required in the Acquis Communautaire?
Let’s maybe have a poll as what what we can call those countries, if the likes of Poland or the Czech Republic is called “Emerging Europe”:
In summary, please for goodness sake stop referring to Central European EU members as “Emerging Europe”! The term is dated, was patronising even when it was current, and just makes the British look out of touch when it is used by us, and in my experience more often than not only serves to offend the people from the Region, although, being highly cultured and European, they are usually able not to show it.
So I thought I’d show it for them.
The problem in my view is that some white folk who learned about all the evil stuff that, for example, the British ruling class did around the world until we all gradually woke up to the fact that it was not sustainable, they think that the onus is on them to redress the balance in some way.
On that basis, I should be getting reparations from the Third World at the rate of one Mango a month in perpetuity plus the occasional sexual favour from one of those black ladies you see on all the music videos, which I will pass on anyway in the interests of my family and my soul. But anyway that’s nothing to what I’m owed by the Queen of Denmark for excesses perpetrated during the Viking invasions.
So in short, even though I can say that it was shameful it’s not MY shame that the British, for example, tried to make China a drug addicted slave colony and then smuggled out their tea plants to mass plantations in India and decided we didn’t need the Chinese so much any more, at least we gave back Hong Kong honorably. Certain others didn’t give back Vladivostok, ceded at the same Peking Convention, because they are not leveraged by the same soft conscience that seems to weigh us down. But it’s not MY shame that “we” had a past with China that isn’t glorious but it isn’t MY cost that “we” gave back Hong Kong (I didn’t own any of it anyway) and it isn’t MY pride that “we” gave it back – nobody asked for my opinion about it, they just did it on my behalf and on the behalves (?) of another 58 million entirely unconsulted British people.
Sometimes people ask me, “Uncle Davey, do you support the idea of freedom of the press?” And then I reply; “Certainly, I think the press should be free, in fact, I’ll go further; they should pay us to read that guff”.
The point at issue is that journalists, who are among the most powerful members of our society, because they create opinions, are not voted into place at all. They say that they are voted for every day, that every time one of their articles is paid for by the punter who buys a newspaper, that’s a vote, and that everyone who disagrees doesn’t have to buy them. To counter this, it seems very clear to me that people simply buy what is put in front of them, like sheep, and that there seems to be little choice in the matter of which paper to buy, as they are all a mix of what I call the three kinds of journalism, which as I mentioned in an earlier article are true journalism, jumbalism and junkalism.
True journalism investigates, reveals facts accurately and adequately and as the Dutch say “bijtijds”, which means in a timely way, and then comments on them in a thought-provoking, literate and justifiable way. Jumbalism looks like journalism but is a lazy man’s version of it, where people who don’t really know what they are talking about talk about it anyway, knowing that all but a few specialists will be taken in by what they say and getting hold of the wrong end of the stick. Or they give away the fact that they barely know the culture they are making “expert” comments on.
Recently both the BBC and the Guardian have been commenting on Polish affairs, for example, and going into villages so rural that they probably represent less than 5% of the population and this is identified as being how almost half the Poles live. On two occasions recently I have seen men referred to in their surnames as “-ska” because the jumbalist must have spoken to their wife or mother, taken her name and assumed that must be the same for the man. This shows the most extreme ignorance of any Slavic culture and ought to debar a person from commenting on it in any intelligent news framework. Anecdotes from people’s travels off the beaten track are treated as if they were news. The BBC “Whirled service” radio and television, the apex of high style journalistic reporting as they claim, can barely speak English properly and no longer seem to take any pains over proper pronunciation. (See Tristana Moore’s party piece rendition of ‘Zgorzelec’. One can hardly believe she was standing in the middle of the place and couldn’t be bothered to ask anyone how to actually say it. Was she flown in for, like, five minutes, just to stand in front of the cameras, spout some meaningless drivel, which her report certainly was, and then leave again as quickly as possible?) Read the rest of this entry
I thought I would kick-off the 2013 blogging on this channel with a little poll, one that I haven’t exactly seen elsewhere but which might be quite interesting as an experiment. After all, even though the Lord Jesus himself tells us that no man knows the time, there is also a saying “vox populi vox Dei” or “the voice of the people is the voice of God”. So could it be that collectively mankind knows when the end of the world is coming?
In fact, probably not. Was the voice of the people the voice of God when the crowd yelled “Crucify him!”? Hard to say – on the one hand it had to be this so that the prophesies could be fulfilled. In the case of this poll, the only prophesy to be fulfilled will probably be that nobody knows the day nor the hour, which means that our consensus, if the is one, will probably turn out to be hopelessly wrong. Read the rest of this entry
Brevity is not normally my strong point, but when it comes to the possibility that today could be the end of the world, I have just one word to say.
I’ve just finished watching the main Polish news programme of the day, the evening “Wiadomosci” programme on TVP1, which had as its closing story information about how in Poznan there has been a blitz on people who have dogs and haven’t paid their dog tax. Dog tax is a local tax in Poland, some municipalities charge it and some don’t, and there is a degree of freedom as to how much can be charged, and in Poznan that amount is 55 PLN/year, which is about $16 a year. This is more than I can remember from the UK, but dog tax was abolished there many years ago. During my childhood the amount was a good deal less than that, but maybe comparable if you account for inflation.
The question asked, and answered, in the news broadcast, was how the authorities knew where these dog owners were in order to charge them and take them to court for their missing payments of dog tax. The answer is, some time ago the municipality had a free chipping exercise for dogs whereby owners were given a free ID chip so that their dog could be returned to them in the event of loss. This you can have from any vet, by the way, but then it is a paid service. Not thinking that there is no such thing as a free lunch, and taking this inexplicable magnanimity on the part of the City at face value, Poznan citizens queued up and took part in the action and had their free ID chips with their addresses and telephone numbers, which of course were all put in a big database and reported to the City. The news report didn’t go into detail as to whether these people had signed anything which allowed that to happen or whether it was simply an abuse of privacy and a breach of the Data Protection Law, but when has that ever bothered government anyhow? It’s the little man with his business that has to worry about that, and not the governing elites.
Anyway, the next thing they said is that a number of Polish cities which did not have dog tax before are about to introduce it, citing Krakow as an example. They then also featured a few seconds of a disgruntled dog owner saying how he found it unfair that taxes apply to dogs but not to cats, guinea pigs, or aquarium fishes. I am sure he was about to use the word “”racism” had they only given him time to do it. Read the rest of this entry