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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Memorable Quotes - Part 2

A follow on from:

- "When we focus on the past for solutions rather than the future, we're in trouble," http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-27/new-paris-tech-school-to-combat-hollande-s-focus-on-past.html
- "We don't have a God-given right to prosperity," she said. "Northern Europe's future lies in services and innovation, not in big factories, but we need governments and banks behind us. If we can't reform, why should our businesses even exist?"
- Harry Mitchell: [voice over] Most people live life on the path we set for them. Too afraid to explore any other. But once in a while people like you come along and knock down all the obstacles we put in your way. People who realize free will is a gift, you'll never know how to use until you fight for it. I think that's The Chairman's real plan. And maybe, one day, we won't write the plan. You will.
- "That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history."
- "The theory goes that the ideological warriors have to go the brink before sanity prevails."
- "The slow death was self-inficted in Japan and the austerity that is now prevailing in Europe is also self-inflicted. The task of macroeconomics is to avoid avoidable mistakes and there are so many of them that it is very important to udnerstand it. The consequences for people's lives are very far-reaching."
- The Chinese have a saying about the difficulty of passing inherited business empires to two generations beyond the founder: ''Wealth does not pass beyond three generations.'' It's a common syndrome in business families everywhere. The vision fades, the drive is lost, a privileged upbringing dulls the competitive spirit. And rivals close in.
- The skeptical mood was underlined by one member who quoted former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt as saying: "The problem is that you Americans think every problem has a solution." Well, not anymore -- not after Iraq and Afghanistan.
- "You don't really know how much you can do until you, stand up and decide to try."
- "In a world where clowns wield nuclear weapons, the laugh-track rings hollow."
- "The more power a country has, the more criticism it has to accept. This is the case for the United States on the global stage, and Germany in Europe," he wrote.
"It's the price of greater stature. He who has the power also gets the responsibility and, when things go wrong, also the blame, whether as a lightning rod or scapegoat."
- "To paraphrase Karl Marx on religion, the demand to abolish banking is a demand to abolish the state of affairs that needs banking."
- "Trust, in a family, in a country, is what takes the longest to build up and is the easiest to lose."
- "The real reason, the effective reason that causes men to lose political power is that they have become unworthy to retain it."
- "One in 10 members of the Italian Parliament has had a run-in with the law. One in 10 has a criminal record! In the Bronx, New York, the number of people with a criminal record is estimated at one in 15. The Bronx would fear our Parliament."
- "If you set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing."
- "That belief that tomorrow is more exciting than today, you just have to have it permeate the organization," he said. "The world does not belong to the pessimist. Believe me."
- "Our nation honors our sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met"
- The most important lesson of World War II lies in the fact that states with different ideologies could unite in the face of a common threat. "Today, when the world faces the rise of extremism and terrorism, such an experience of unity is especially valuable."
- "So for me, Europe was always hope, always a common future, always an ideal," he said. "And if Europe is no more to be any of that, but just common rules that lead to pain, then how can people love Europe? That's why we need to regain that part of the idea. If we don't, then we're in serious trouble."
- I think it's always good to be working on two things: The next most important thing, and the next most interesting thing.
- "The barbarous gold barons do not find the gold, they do not mine the gold, they do not mill the gold, but by some weird alchemy all the gold belongs to them."
- Economists have been taught in graduate school that advances in their discipline make it possible to stabilize and, within broad boundaries, control economic activity. But what if that's not so? The ferocious debates among economists indicate that the consensus has broken down. Inevitably, there are better and worse policies; but in real time, it's not always clear which is which. Business cycles endure. Market forces still dominate; the ability to subdue and reshape them remains limited. Time, as much as policy, may promote recovery.
- "You have to think more about every decision and every move. Every wrong move you make has an influence on the future. You need to work more closely with the board in the financial area, you have to have a different perspective and a different look at the players on loan and youth football. It's more global. Instead of just focusing on your team, and your targets and ambitions, it's an overall view. It's a different profile of job and I'm happy, I'm enjoying that."
- "You must be the change you want to see in the world."
- "We cannot be left behind," Merkel warned, stressing her maxim: "Build on successes and go after what has yet to be accomplished."
- In his treatise "Vom Krieg (On War)," Karl von Clausewitz demonstrated that wars are lost by the adversary whose "trinity" first collapses. By trinity, Clausewitz meant the harmonious belief in the value of the war by the military, government and the people of the belligerent.
- "There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come."
- "Throughout history, capital has always followed the ideas that have shaped the era - and those who come up with the ideas. Whether it was Michelangelo or Christopher Columbus, the financiers of the day knew that it was the adventurers, artists, and creators who were building the future - not themselves."
- "The management literature, in trying to figure out how to bottle charisma to boost productivity, has stripped away its mystical aura in bloodless style. Apparently charisma is found in managers in varying degrees throughout the hierarchy. It's a quality that can be learnt. Circulate the office memos and cue the magazine articles: five ways to boost your charisma.
Less mercantile thinkers have come up with five elements seen to be crucial to building charisma: you need an extraordinarily gifted person, a social crisis or desperate situation, a set of ideas offering a radical solution, a set of followers attracted to the exceptional person who come to believe he or she is directly linked to transcendent powers, and repeated successes that seem to validate the extraordinary person's transcendence."
http://www.smh.com.au/comment/charismatic-leadership-is-a-hitandmiss-affair-20130615-2oarf.html - "The perplexing truth is that governments do not understand, and cannot motivate, the iconoclastic researchers of the world. They walk to a different beat. The great scholars do their work because it is burning inside them and because it is simply those individuals' destiny, beyond even their own power to control. You may as well tell Picasso not to paint or Einstein to stop scribbling and get on with his clerical duties. A REF cannot stop these people. Or start them."

- as usual thanks to all of the individuals and groups who purchase and use my goods and services

Europe's Road Towards Regrowth - Part 5

This post is obviously a continuation of some work in my 'Convergence' report as well as some other blog posts.

- been looking at the break down of EU economies further. While it's clear that there some companies have a more even spread it's more evident that other countries are more lopsided. For instance, Germany has a more even spread while Italy has a stronger tendency towards smaller companies (based on the statistics that I've seen). What I'd like to know is whether the smaller companies are actually supporting the larger firms, the larger firms are supporting the smaller firms, or whether it is more of a symbiotic relationship? If it is the latter do we need to try to attrack/form larger companies and fund SME firms at the same time? The other thing I want to know is whether this relationship been relatively stable over time or has it changed? Given the state of affairs whether the balance/break up of such firms can/should be replicated in future? More research/study required...
- it's clear that several countries have endemic problems with corruption across the EU. Several approaches that have been taken that revolve primarily around strong punitive measures. However, it's also making assumptions that you can eradicate corruption completely or else you can make significant inroads without taking on enormous risks and enforcement costs. Clearly this is not easy to do especially if the system can not be purged simultaneously and completely. I think one of the biggest problems is that projects are simply financed badly. People aren't paid for completion of a project, only if they work on it. All you'd have to do is change the way in which financing is provided to ensure that projects get completed. For instance, a termination of payments for no progress after an amount of stagnation, more significant payments only occur towards the end of a project (have the government pay for materials if need be), etc...
- you can learn to live with corruption, you can co-exist with it, you can try to control it, you can try to erradicate it. Answer most likely is a combination of all four even though most would strive for the latter two. One thing I'm wondering is whether or not the black economy exists because there is no legitimate option in the real world. Some of what I've been reading indicates that third party/criminal options for financial loans ahve increased significantly in the aftermath of the EU economic/banking problems. Are some people so deeply involved with the dirty supply chain that they simply have no way out though? what's a level of corruption that you can live with and can economically enforce?
- closer co-operation on defense needs to be re-thought. Recent battles in Lybia, Mali indicate that there are significant capability gaps in defense across the EU. Other discussion indicates that some rapid deployment capabilities require further thought. Suggest that at least a certain percentage of spending across the EU is spent on "common projects" or else "co-ordinated spending". For instance, UAV, UCAV, air-to-air refuelling capability costs could either be spread among nations or else certain nations would foot the bill for certain capabilities so that other's wouldn't have to. Once again though must stress project management issues here. Considered risk. Know when to pull out and when to push on... May required treaty revisions/further discussion (my line of thinking is that if that piece of equipment is part of the "shared budget" then if another country requires that piece of equipment at any moment in time then it should be available)? Use this as the model for other spending within the EU as well where relevant/pertinent?
- stop thinking that you can regulate every single problem out of existence. Some things you just can't fix via policy. One thing I've been looking at in particular is the electric vehicle issue. It seems clear that this is a problem of science and that there is still a way to go before they become practical. Infrastructure, range, charge time, cost, etc... The key problems relate to basic science and as long as those problems aren't resolved takeup is likely to be limited... Why force a product that isn't ready to be produced if it doesn't have a market or is sub-standard? else force them to work on the basic science problems that need to be fixed?
- advertising budget limits? anything from tens to several hundred million once again per country
it should be a question of policy which determines who ultimately governs not the size of your advertising budget
- should there be a target % budget with regards to the ratio between proceeds for the EU project and overall GDP for the EU project?
- above a certain point money doesn't really matter any more. you can pay for a fairly decent life
- looking at some French policy it seems obvious that it simply hasn't moved with the times and they are essentially being overly generous. Changes could easily be made without resulting in drastic changes to the livelihood of those involved.
Despite what is being said it is clear that some public services are run extremely well in Europe though they may only need minor "tweaking" to get them working back within budget? Let's look at the French pension problem for instance. Obvious solutions may be simply to force people to have work with a private pension fund for a limited number of years, changing the retirement age/contribution period, evening up the some of the some of the wage disparity issues to reflect changes in the safety of occupation over time, etc... It simply requires the will and conviction of the government to do what is necessary.
- while there are clearly government and EU oversight/auditing agencies it's clear that lot of of work still needs to be done. By it's own admission billions could be saved just through better governance, auditing, oversight, project management, tracking...
- several countries are having problems with illegal migration. Possible that there may be poor border controls in peripheral/less wealthy countries which contributes further to this problem. Suggest that attempt to take counter-measures or else reduce the possible number of loopholes so that they aren't entering the EU without contributing back to the state of the EU (am aware of the argument in some countries that illegal migration offers a method for cheap labour but am not sure whether this is worth the cost?)? Need to curb/reduce the chances of "legal welfare". Even locally I've known of problems with the system which have meant that basically people have used it as a means of paying for their medical/living costs...
- cleanup of our political system. I once heard it said that we get the leaders that we deserve. I concur. The system is setup to attract certain types of people, certain styles of behaviour, and support them. As long as the system allows for this this is what you will continue to get.
- is there an ideal ratio between the public and private sector?
- a very basic look at government spending indicates that healthy governments tend to have spending within 5% of taxation levels. Less healthy governments tend to have differential of about 10% or more when it comes to the difference between taxation against GDP and government expenditure. Am curious to know whether we're able to deal most of our fiscal issues through more efficient government/public service itself?
- it's clear that a lot of the countries that have issues with their budgets have a pursued a high taxation, internal devaluation, slash and burn methodology as a means of dealing with some of their problems. The problem is that with governments which already have such a strategy in place this method will just take the life out of the economy which means that other industries are paying for problems that should/could be solved more easily had the government been run more efficiently. Would like to know which economies within the EU are most at risk of this?
- I earlier spoke of a need to do a review of spending at European level but's fairly clear that we may need to do this at regional/council, municipal level as well. The key question is obviously whether it is possible maintain service quality on a lower budget? Personal experience indicates that in most cases people will rise to te occassion but there is of course a limit to how far you can push this.
- I'm curious to know whether there is an optimum taxation level for each state within the EU? For the most part we already know what citizens of these states want and how much they're willing to pay for. If this is the case, is this the basis from which we should be re-working our budgets from?
- wonder what would be the actual impact of devaluation overall across the EMU?
- would like to see greater research to determine the point at which higher taxes will only strangle the economy?
- I've said this previously. If there is no private sector demand I'm wondering whether we can we create the demand? For instance, can we determine the top 10/20 issues facing each state and the EU as a whole and fund people to work on these particular problems? Issues such as carbon policy, infrastructure repair/upgrades, etc... If need be integrate vocational/educational programs (recently been implemented in Spain and similar to German programs) with these state needs where possible (try to work with the market rather than against it).
- poor project price estimation/project management. Be smarter with contracting out of state based work. I've heard stories about infracture outsourcing by government in certain states which indicate that the price of completing a contruction/infrastructure project was unworthwhile/would only result in a break even situation (at best) for the contractor. While we need to be prudent we also need to be realistic about project pricing. Perhaps a standard margin for projects? Would you rather have someone working and off of welfare or someone actually working and contributing back to the system?
- I've said previously that there are few people who are equipped to be able to deal with the responsibilities of governance. Either their competencies, their temperament, or something else may be lacking. It's clear that things would proceed a lot more easily if some members of the EU leadership were better prepared. While EU, panel, aides, commission, and other recommendations help I think that we should try to do more to prepare some of those in line to deal with the problems that they may be facing. Whether this means a defined package of prerequisite knowledge, greater co-operation between those in government and opposition, extra training, etc... it may be interesting to see what we could do? I don't ever want to know that we are faced with a situation of sub-standard policy simply because we didn't adequately support those who are in charge...
- it's clear that there is some semblance of stability now. Let's use it but also think about other things when dealing with our fiscal/economic issues as well. Namely, the type of future that we would like to build
political reform in the way we may decision making as well. a breaking mechanism or does this simply come down to the people that we are currently dealing with?
- could the EU have done more with regards to delving in to the finances of troubled EMU/EU states prior to them joining? Should we be more strict? Require more oversight? Should we come up with rules which foster greater responsibility/accountability in the cases where states contravene EU/EMU rules prior to them entering?
- austerity is fine but some of what I'm seeing is mindless. In some parts of the EU, there are stories of young, intelligent, postgraduates whose choices are limited to doing part time menial work, basically paying the government to work (after expenses for travel, food, etc...), moving to another country within the EU, etc... I'd venture to say that some of the measures being undertaken are not too different to sucking out the structure of a country after it has gone through a war. Vast chunks of the economy/capabilities may need to be restored. Something needs to fill the void. The question is whether or not we can actually actively do something about it or whether we should simply let market forces decide for us?
- temporary (or even permanent) wage freeze or even cuts to politicians wages. Even if there were only voluntary cuts I estimate that it would save anywhere between a few to several hundred million dollars (most of the wages that I've seen are several times greater than the average citizen. Most would still be able to make a comfortable living and in a largely flatlining/deflationary economy I can't see it making too much of a difference.). Doing so would also make make it easier to justify austerity cuts in relevant countries, actually help deal with the debt problem, offer a new source of revenue to deal with existing problems, etc... In some cases, the cuts would be more than enough to fund a "clean bank" (would only support if provided with oversight mechanisms) which could be used to provide funds to the SME sector for that country.
- is the problem of inter bank loans really that great? Would it be enough to simply create a chain of new "clean banks" (would only support if provided with oversight mechanisms) that were targeted at dealing with the SME sector? Is this a chicken-egg problem. No growth means no loans or no loans means no growth? Supply/demand problem?
- if all they want is banks to circulate money a comical mechanism may include rotation/hold times for assets? Taxation/profitability/legality implications?
- consider reducing the role of one of the members of the "Troika" after the ESM/bank resolution mechanism is complete? else reduce the role of one of them to a purely consultative role in future to hopefully streamline decision making in future?
- curious about the innovation problem in Europe. Curious what happens if we stop companies from engaging in share buybacks and force them to create value through increased research and development? Force them to invest at least half? Would this increase their vulnerability to corporate raids? Do buybacks merely distort/flatter actual market value? Would this be advisable given the trouble some companies are in?
- more carefully consider bids for major events? Clear that there are the pros do not outweight the cons in some cases. Is it possible to sell off parts of the stadia for souveniers (done locally)? Convert them into stadia for local sports? apartment/industrial complexes? Should we have relevant bodies pay a greater cost for staging such events? sell them in chunks? basically, break them up like you would break up a house and move them on a truck to be sold/relocated elsewhere? feasibility? Even broken up I'm guessing there may be enough raw (plastic, steel, glass, etc...) materials in some stadia to turn them into a source of recylable raw materials?
- have been thinking about the bad asset/balance sheet problem further. Wondering whether we should devolve powers back up to the EU level if banks/states can't take care of the problem after a certain period of time (perhaps until the time at which the asset review can be completed)? Could this be a mechanism through which to force an end to the bad asset situation?
An obvious question is that we're just shifting the problem elsewhere, down the line, etc?
- is it possible to deal with the problem of tax evasion by making restrictions at the state/EU level over the financial instruments that can be used to pay an employee?
- it's clear that there is a highly hierarchal/patriarchal societal structure in Europe that probably pays too much attention to past behaviour/culture. Not saying that this needs to end but the we need to ensure that it switches to a more merit based society. By changing it
It's the only way that we can assure that the EU can compete in future. As Adam Smith once said, “Every individual is continually exerting himself to find out the most advantageous employment for whatever capital he can command. It is his own advantage, indeed, and not that of the society which he has in view. But the study of his own advantage naturally, or rather necessarily, leads him to prefer that employment which is most advantageous to society... He intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was not part of his intention.”
- believe that basis discussions for bank resolution directive should be determine firstly by relative amounts/percentage of a bail-in/out, then the generally agreed hierarchy which involves stockholders, senior debt holders, etc... the key problem at the moment seems to be the percentage to be paid by taxpayers and versus bailed-in by the banks. If we can agree on the core components of a bail-in couldn't the balance between taxpayer at state level and bank be left up to the state itself? Obvious problem is what happens if the state gets in trouble though? Another doom loop problem or is it simply finding that balance between having the banks or the public taking responsibility? Back to square one...
The other questions that need to be asked is if specific details regarding those assets that are likely to be part of bail-in are publicly discussed is there going to be a capital flight from these particular assets? or will the markets regard this as solid proof that work is being done in order to get the problem fixed? What if we conduct a simultaneous/pre-emptive asset cleanup of all banks at the same time? Else use creatively use regulatory arbitrage, capital controls, etc... as a means of distorting the situation? Would this result in capital flight from EU/EMU if their is a leak? Remember that situation in US and EMU are very different. One was played out very quitely while the other was played out in front of the entire world...
- in software engineering there is saying that to really understand the problems that we face we should try, "eating our own dog food". Namely, try the public services that they fund.
- one of the things I learnt playing golf is that problems with you're technique get magnified the higher your swing speed. I think it's the same here.
smaller populations/countries easier to run. Larger countries and mistakes aren't covered up as well...
- in some left wing social systems/philosophies it's clear that the final destination is a system of perfect harmony. What I'm curious about is whether this is achievable without without impinging on civil rights? without depleting the planet of required resources? This is a topic for another time/post...
- am curious about the inability of many EU innovations to be turned into profitable products/services. Wonder whether this is due to purely to a cultural problem, a lack of support, venture capital, or a multitude of other issues as well? Perhaps it stems from the risk assessment/project management issue again? Their inability to calculate risk adequately may be a core problem (though research indicates that their venture capital industry has been doing reasonably as indicated in my previous post)?


- as usual thanks to all of the individuals and groups who purchase and use my goods and services

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Some Fun and Bugs

First the fun...

Now the bugs...
Sega's/Sports Interactive's Football Manager 2009
- look around you'll find further details. Apparently, a known but unfixed bug. Seems as though there may be some hard limits built into the program. Even if you have more than sufficient physical RAM you'll still get into trouble. A few dialog boxes with the following text,"Football Manager 2009 is running dangerously low on memory. Please quit and free up some memory." and "Football Manager 2009 has run out of memory and will now quit."
- need a better way to change contract offer during negotiations especially if another club makes a bid

- sometimes not preserving cross references for chapters in text
- consistent issues autocompletion/autoformatting across the board. Example of this is following hyperlink.
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013\02\17\story_17-2-2013_pg4_7 -->

- requires modification in "init.d" script. Notice lack of whitespace between "squidCreating"? 
user@system:/media/sdc1$ sudo squid restart
user@system:/media/sdc1$ sudo service squid restart
Restarting Squid HTTP proxy: squidCreating squid cache structure ... (warning).
2013/02/16 23:59:42| Creating Swap Directories

Indian Express Website
- too technology dependent. Linking to other pages works fine JavaScript on but when off end up with permission problems (I'm using NoScript add-on)...
http://www.indianexpress.com/news/us-close-to-ok-on-arming-syrian-rebels-reports/1127205/ ->
You don't have permission to access /news/us-close-to-ok-on-arming-syrian-rebels-
reports/1127205/2 on this server.

- not really a bug but it clearly requires a more informative error message. If file system doesn't support greater than 4GB (FAT32) you end up with the following...
user@system:/media/location/Downloads/CentOS$ wget -c "http://mirror.aarnet.edu.au/pub/centos/6.4/isos/x86_64/CentOS-6.4-x86_64-bin-DVD1.iso"
Cannot write to `CentOS-6.4-x86_64-bin-DVD1.iso' (No such file or directory).

Commonwealth Bank ATM
- this was bizarre one. I actually came across an ATM with an IE scripting error problem a while back. I didn't quite believe my eyes so I took a picture of it. Perhaps I'll show it someday?

Google News
- sometimes branching is slow to replicate across their network. Means you end up with orphan/non-existent links from time to time. First time I've encountered this with Google News...

Google Maps
- after Apple's recent problems with their maps service someone in the media said that we shouldn't become overly reliant on such services. I concur. I recently went on a trip to a distant area and had some minor problems. Luckily, i carried a map with me...

Google Translate
- didn't realise it wasn't able to deal with HTTPS well. Ended up with URL invalid errors. Apparently, it's a known problem though...

Curious why they don't just run it via a proxy such as the following?
Don't think it would be too hard to replicate given the right modifications?

- as usual thanks to all of the individuals and groups who purchase and use my goods and services

Europe's Road Towards Regrowth - Part 4

This post is obviously a continuation of some work in my 'Convergence' report as well as some other blog posts.
- one of the things which really seperated/distinguished Europe from other countries which I noticed when I was younger was that is somehow able to meld it's history/culture with technological progress. Over time though, it became clear that the technological gap was slowly disappearing, it's edge was somewhat lost and there was not enough progress in other areas. Basic things like healthcare, aged care, social welfare, malfunctioning legal system (across many countries), running a business, even living were needlessly and hopelessly difficult when compared to other countries (including Australia). The overlay of European policy on top of state policy made things even more nonsensical. I think it's about time we push the concept of "power sharing" even further within Europe. This means that we will abolish local (or else European) policies when possible/applicable. We regulate to ensure a safe and fair environment but not enough to inhibit the lives of ordinary citizens and businesses.
- the same policy should apply to internal state operation as well. If we can gain benefits from mergers, breakups, privatisation, nationalisation, or even complete abolition of departments then we should consider them
- projects like Concorde, Eurotunnel, Airbus A380/A350, ESA's Arianne rocket, CERN's LHC, all prove that Europe can compete with every single other nation on planet with regards to innovation, science, engineering. What's clear though is that that doesn't necessarily translate to real world profitability in a lot of cases. Think about stealth technology, the Internet, even the concepts behind Google and you immediately think about the United States. However, it was clear that Europeans (and other nations) were right in the thick of it from the very beginning...
Several things need to occur if Europe is to profit from it's intellectual prowess; life has to be easier for those who want to start or run a business, got to be easier to find funding in Europe, they need to be willing to take a chance (there have been some serious problems with some major defense projects but it's clear that this occurs with all nations not just Europe. Europe just needs to learn and push on where/when the benefits possibly outweigh the risks in the medium to long term), etc...
- when I meant closer co-operation of European states I meant on many levels. Part of this involved logistics, transporation, education, control of supply/demand, as well as energy. Basically, if/when possible we should subsidise businesess to move within states so that they can be located closer to the sources of their components (manufacturing in particular). This would reduce the cost of transporation, etc... and hopefully drive down the costs of the product resulting in a more competitive option for consumers. It also means that states will need to figure out their place within the union and play their part as part of a co-ordinated European economic trade union. One in which, certain states would specialise in particular areas while others would supplement them via supply chain, raw materials, or else act as a consumer for them. If they can not compete then obviously their status could be challenged by other states who believe that they could do a better job
- as indicated previously, one of the things I've found interesting is how much more dependent on emerging markets (and fringe, smaller, newer European states as well) European states have become for growth. Another thing that I've found curious is the apparent differentcebetween the GDP on many of the poorer states as opposed to those in the stronger states. What I'm wondering is whether or not we should fund investment in these weaker countries instaed of simply outsourcing to Asia/Africa as seems to be the current thinking (is the wage gap large enough to be profitable? are the benefits of the union and reduced transporation/logistical difficulty enough? Should we have a policy of preferecning local, Europe, then rest of globe whenever/ever possible and competitive?). In the longer term, if the weaker states become stronger there would obviously be a larger consumer market within the union as well...
The other obvious issue here is if if reducing trade barriers to possible growth markets (or even expansion of the union itself) is one way to achieving growth then the obvious option is to simply expand the union (to increase the size of the possible markets that they can access), else pursue "win-win" trade agreements as they have been doing with the United States, Canada, and so on...
- I think that one thing we all need to face is that Europe has sort of meandered for a while now. Is it that the EU has become less relevant? Are the products/services that they produce simply less competitive?
Table 5: Extra EU-27 trade by main trading partners, EU-27, 2001-2011 (1)
- for the immediate future the state of the EU will continue to remain the same. It's clear that a "European Superstate" is likely to only occur if countries are willing to take responsibility of their own affairs, others will only help to a limited extent, there continues to remain economic and other stability issues. Moreover with the diverging interests of many countries within the union, it's likely going to be a long time before we see a genuine political union. I suspect it will be a few decades before we may see this and the only way that it is likely to occur is if we go with a flexible, multi-tiered architecture. Already there are 30 odd countries in the union and we've seen in the United States that depending on the circumstances deadlock can result depending on the nature of the political union and the players involved. Yes, we can change the structure but it this will likely involve many compromises for members on a regular basis. The other choice is a change in the structure.
- structure allows for choice between level of "Europeaness". At this current moment in time so many countries with divergent perspectives. Moreover, it is clear that while many European citizens believe in the benefits of the trade union they aren't necessarily in favour of a "superstate". This will provide the structure for a modern union which provides for greater flexibility while also maintaining the benefits of the union itself (tiers can of course be added or removed at will if need be)
Tier 1 - EMU including political union, basically a superstate (economics, military, foreign affairs, etc...) which is similar to the way in which the "United States" is currently setup.
Tier 2 - EMU (basically similar to what we have in the current setup), high number of EU policies required to be implemented per year (percentage based?). Have the right to say yes, no to policies when desired.
Tier 3 - EU trade union but retain currency, medium number of EU policies required to be implemented per year (percentage based?). Have the right to say yes, no to policies when desired.
Tier 4 - EU trade union but retain currency, only small number of EU policies required to be implemented per year (percentage based?). Have the right to say yes, no to policies when desired.
- I think the debate regarding executive wages is a bit too simplistic. While a cap on bonuses makes sense there are many ways around this as is already been seen/discovered. In my version I would have a formula that is based on a combination of a multiple of the wage of the lowest full time employee plus a variation/combination of factors with regards to overall health of the company. If we can agree bounds on either end (includes everything such as basic wage, salary, bonus, package, incentives...) then we can ensure that they are paid a fair wage while still remaining globally competitive. Moreover, by adding in a time based factor for both performance during his time and a short period after he leaves it gives them greater incentive to work for the longer term benefit for the firm, proper handover procedures, developing a sucession plan and so on... Would like to see an end to so called "golden handshakes" (underperforming executives are sometimes paid enormous amounts for having their employment terminated early). It doesn't make sense to reward incompetence, sub-standard performance, etc...
Would only allow abnormally high renumeration where performance warrants. To deal with issue of massive bias of "institutional voters" would weight votes in such a way that voting rights of both retail and wholesale investors have an equal say. In abscence of vote, abstain.
- as I've stated here and elsewhere I think we hold ourselves back a lot of the time. I'd like to Europe (and the rest of the world) truly chase after
- European leadership need to be clear on what they are presenting to their people and why the changes that they are making are for the "greater good" (if they can't explain why this is the case though I question whether or not they are pursuing the right policy)? At the same time, they need to be representative of their interests. If they are having trouble with passing difficult changes then possibly consider extending term lengths? Think about pursuing a mix of more short term/easy win policies with more difficult medium to longer term structural changes? Other things they need to consider is that their reign is unlikely to last forever. It's possible that some of the changes that they make will not take effect until after they leave office. They might as well as well try to do the "right thing" while they have the chance.
Moreover, it's not just what they say but how they say it as well. Try to explain to them that there basically is not alternative apart from reform. The type/level of reform can of course be negotiated but the other choice is to basically let the state go bankrupt and have chaos ensue. Moreover, what Europeans need to understand is that without reform their countries and Europe will cease to become relevant. Trade is trending down between many EU nations as is...
It would also help if respsonsibility for the dealing with the problem was better targted (though this has changed of late)...
- the European leadership have probably done a poor job in commmunicating why some of the measures were required, why they were necessary in order to achieve stability within the Eurozone, why existing the Eurozone would have been so dangerous, etc... An example of this is explaining the purpose of taxes within society (especially int the context of Greece). If you've never paid tax then it is unlikely that you will wan to pay it. After all, if you don't make use of social services why would you have any reason to use them? The most amusing explanation of this that I've come across would be the notion of a "TV Collector Man". If for generations someone regularly took your TV from your home you would gradually come to accept it but if this were suddenly imposed upon you you would consider it a form of theivery.
I think a better way to explain it to them is that without taxes the whole public sector would basically collapse.
- for every person who criticises the European leadership/Troika over some of the policies that they have pursued they need to ask themselves just exactly what would they have done in the same circumstances. Very few people are trained/qualified to run a large company, fewer still countries, and possibly no one who has a career/history in dealing with bankrupt states.
- labour mobility has been an option outlined here an elsewhere as a means of dealing with the employment crisis. One thing I've been wondering is whether or not there should be "core languages" that should be taught across the union? Based on what I know many countries already teach secondary languages to students as part of their education systems so implementation shouldn't be too foreign to member states...
- I think that while the protesters from the "Occupy/Blockupy" movements have clear grievances they'll never gain traction unless they clarify their message, attempt to come up with a solutions to the problems that they are describing, or possibly even attempt to change the system from within?
- budget for European administration is huge. Should look at savings within union structure itself and devolve savings back into countries that are in trouble. Are we sure we need so many MEPs? Should we consider a freeze on wage increases/hiring? Consolidate to a single base in Brussels or else reduce the importance of other locations (savings of several hundred million per year possible apparently)? Increased savings through better use of technology to flesh out details of major European policy before meetings occur? Currently, discussions are getting strung out for too long...
- are they banks being realistic in attemping to get some bad assets off of their balance sheets? Even in better economic conditions it's clear that it will take some time before they can get rid of these assets. Should they just accept that they will take the a hit to their earnings in the short term? Should we give banks in the weaker countries more/less time to deal with their problems (basically giving them a temporary competitive ad/disadvantage/setting up a regulatory arbitrage situation)?
- I don't see the EU as just a trade block. I see it as much more than that. In the future I see a multi-polar world prevailing and it is likely that Europe become be a part of it (as long as it is able to deal with it's present problems). These trade blocks will form the basis for sharing of burdens and responsibilities for global issues and these blocks will act in the interests of all nations within that block as well as the interests of that particular block within the world. Basically, the notion of notion of nationally based superpowers will have far less of an impact if these blocks are able to maintain solidarity.
- it's clear that the Eurozone has sort of stablised (there's still clearly a lot of other clean up work occurring especially with regards to the banking sector).
This means that instead of having to focus our resources on stabilising we can focus more on the process of using it to stimulate growth. From now on (whereever possible), I propose that every single dollar that can be saved at the European or nation level will be counter-blanced by funds for the direct funding growth initiatives such as developpment of businesses, better infrastructure (problem is that most infrastructure in Europe is reasonably modern and well integrated. Not too many projects that would be major game changers (energy sector and perhaps better integration of transportation/logistics with states that are newly entering the union to facilitate trade), etc... in troubled states? Would like to see greater input/discussion from various stakeholders on what they believe to be imperative to future of Europe...), etc...
- unrealistic that we abolish tax havens, etc... in the near term but we can at least reduce the spread (especially with regards to exceptionally low corporate tax rates). This will allow these countries to maintain their deposits/competitive advantage but we could use these funds/savings to help deal with some of the more troubled states where possible...
- Europe really needs to look hard at itself. Figure out what it's citizens want with regards to welfare, what it can pay for, and how much they are willing to pay in order to get these particular services. I recall high income professionals in parts of Europe who were paying atrociously high tax rates to the point where I often wondered whether there was a point of diminishing returns...
That's the basis from which I think we should be thinking about cuts, not necessarily just cutting without necessarily understanding the real world implications... which brings me to the next point. I think there may be a slight disconnect between what they are feeling and what is actually happening on the ground. Recently, a few local politicians tried living on welfare benefits for a short period of time to see what is was like. I challenge some members of the European leadership to do the same. Figure out just how far you can push without taking people "over the edge" and don't be afraid of rolling back changes if they don't have the desired effect.
- I think sometimes European states think about the problem of dealing with their deficits too simplistically. Sometimes it seems as though they just think about cuts and revenue raising through increased taxes (aware that this is not always the case). Europe shouldn't be afraid fund businesses directly or help companies grow larger... if they are successful that means that the size of their tax base instantly increases (of course starting a business is never easy)
- one of the things I've found interesting when looking at various statistics regarding Europe is how disperse the spread is with regards to the size of businesses and also the size of government spending/taxation in relation to overall GDP. What's noticeable is how healthier econonomies tend to spread the load more evenly across the private/public sector as well as across businesses of varying sizes...
- capitalism and other social models in my mind are simply a highly evolved version of Darwinism within the framework of human behaviour which is then overlaid upon a series of theoretical manifestations which allow us to live in a relatively harmonious fashion. However, over time it's become clear that huge abberations/distortions have occurred which have led to a skew in the overall ecosystem which have meant that system needs to be altered. We've hit the point at which MNC/TNC powers have almost superceded that of countries and perhaps even continents. Clearly, this can skew government decision making since we've become so dependent on them for employment and income from them. The biggest problem is this. If our governments are basically being run by people who are looking after the interests of business rather that of their citizens then everybody loses. If governments are inefficient or even bankrupt we have political/social unrest, if businesses hold too much sway then eventually they may one day end up running many government services. Something which is often unprofitable and probably wouldn't be the workeable in the long term. This is what everyone should keep in mind if we continue down the pure corporate path that some nations seems to be taking (I highly doubt an executive at a software company is going to be interested/skilled in running government and vice-versa). Everyone has a role to play...
This is about getting what's best for everyone while still being able to maintain our belief and values that we work within a meritocracy. as long as they control our world what do we have to look forward to?
- If you can't change their behaviour change the system. The thing that needs to be explained here is that we don't really care how much a company makes as long as they pay a fair share of tax. They are dependent on us to make their income just as we are reliant on them for employment
- the problem is that "protected" industries don't learn to adapt and change to suit the circumstances. For instance, for a long while now local car companies have insisted on making large cars even though the trend is clearly moving towards smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles. The concern is that the more "protection" you have the more likely it is that you become complacent, don't adapt to modernisation, global best practices, or become overly dependent on government subsidies
- focus on 'real value' in products. Not just incremental changes but substantial improvements over current science technology. Incremental improvements provide easy sales when there is a relatively solid, known market. To make real gains you need to be bold and innovative
- states don't need to take advice from the European administration but they need to heed the warnings and realise that in many cases there is a lot of expertise and help available from within the union should they require. Moreover, it's clear much of Europe looking at similar problems with regards to dealing with excessive debt... States could learn from one another's experiences... To deal with the credibility issue, have three levels national review, European review, and private review (similar to the methodolgy envisaged for bank supervision by Mario Draghi)
Too strict/loose with regards to healthcare contributions?
If you look hard enough you'll notice that the solutions are already provided by those who are already in the industry already. Need to factor in the zoom in/zoom out issue. All you have to do is ask the people in question what is wrong with the system and it's more than likely that they'll already have the answer for you
- it seems as though there is endless complaints about how slow the change takes to complete within the union. This is true but they also need to realise that it still isn't a "superstate" as yet and is unlikely to be so in the near future unless structural of philosophical changes occur
- someday I'd love to have a future in which money is no longer relevant and we can basically do whatever we want with our lives but as it stands we have to make do with what we have. Altering the system to suit our needs rather than working with a system that serves only a small minority must surely be in the best interests of everyone?


Automated Audiobook Maker Script, Random Stuff, and More

- wanted to find a way to automated building of audiobooks. Built the following: https://sites.google.com/site/dtbnguyen/audiobook_maker-...