It really is a millitary coup


Photo: Mahed Helal/flickr

Even though I disliked Morsi, even though he mishandled the economy, even though he did not manage to move the democratic process along, even though his conservative religious views are distasteful, there is no doubt that what we see in Egypt is a military coup against a democratic elected president.

I guess there could be situations where a military coup is defensible, especially if a democratic elected leader moves strongly in autocratic and tyrannical direction I can’t see that Egypt was quite there. It is disgusting to see that the west (grudgingly) accept a military coup just because we do not like the leader that is ousted.

We do not know whether the majority of the Egyptian people wanted him ousted. While I wholeheartedly sympathise with the demonstrators on Tahir, and probably would have been there if I had been Egyptian we do not know that they talk for majority of the Egyptian people. We can surmise, but we don’t know. That is what elections are for; to find out.

It is no doubt that Morsi mishandled the situation, no doubt that he had misunderstood his mandate and created strife instead of consensus. Still it does not make a military coup defensible.


To weep or laugh?

The intellectual excuse that lead to economic policies that have been followed in the U.S. and the EU in recent years is a book from economists Carmen Reinhardt and Ken Rogoff. In this book the authors argue that once a country has more government debt than 90% of GDP economic growth is sharply reduced.

This has been an important part of the reason for deep cuts in social services, cuts in wages and cuts in social security in Greece, Spain, Ireland, Portugal and more countries. Simultaneously, the same countries, and ultimately, European taxpayers have acquired large amounts of private debt, without getting anything in return through the so-called saving of the banks. This is perhaps the biggest robbery of tax payers ever.

One has to weep

What really is a laughable matter is that Reinhardt and Rogoff had made a tiny mistake in the spreadsheet. This small error meant that the result of the research was completely wrong. There are, in other words no longer any intellectually defence for the cuts and the robbery the inhabitants in the EU are exposed to.

To steal a bit from Bloomberg:

The paper, “Growth in a Time of Debt,” concluded that countries with public debt in excess of 90 percent of gross domestic product suffered measurably slower economic growth. It has been cited by U.S. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and European Union Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn in defense of efforts to drive down budget deficits.

All in all tears more than laughs are appropriate. For the banks and the bank owners have received their unfair share. And therefore Paul Krugman is right here:

If true, this is embarrassing and worse for R-R. But the really guilty parties here are all the people who seized on a disputed research result, knowing nothing about the research, because it said what they wanted to hear.

Lesson: never trust anyone who say that we need to take money from ordinary people and give them to people who already have the most.

Should the police carry guns?

At least to americans it could be hard to understand, but in Norway we have a big discussion on whether the police should carry guns when on a normal patrol. The police union has just and for the first time said that they want the police to be armed. I disagree.

I think I understand why the policemen and women wants this. They perform tough tasks. Assignments can be hazardous and sometimes guns can make the mission easier and safer to conduct for the police.
However, I think we should start this discussion in the other end. Why do we have a police force? We have police to create security for most people. So that we should not go around being afraid for life, health or property. Police keep watch, and if something were to happen then they’ll find out who has done something wrong and arrest the perpetrator. And I belive that creating a secure society is the most important part of their duties.

I must admit I will feel less secure if the police was to carry a gun on everyday duties. I know that when I am in other countries, where the police carry guns this creates in me a strong sense of insecurity.

I get scared.

I do not think I get scared because the weapon is a symbol that I am in an unsafe country, I get scared because I do not know that the weapon will be handled in a correct way.

  • I am afraid that the weapon can be lost or stolen.
  • I am afraid that the cop can go amok.
  • I am afraid that it can be too easy to resort to arms in response to a confusing situation.
  • I am afraid that the if the police have guns at all times so will criminals

I admit that this is based on feelings. But security is never only objective it is also subjective. And maybe the subjective part is the most important part?
I believe that the police should have good access to guns. I think all police cars should be equipped with weapons. I think the threshold should be low for armament in special situations. However, I want the police to think through the situation before the weapon is used. I belive the pause to think should be longer than the time it takes to draw.

A gun is a tool. Often we use the tool that is most readily available. That might not be best tool for the job. I do not think guns should be that readily available..

I should have

I should have written something. Something that made Obama quit his craven dronekillings of innocent Pakistani and Yemenites.

I should have written something. Something that made the politicians in Europe stop punishing working Greeks and Spaniards for the mistakes of the bankers.

I should have written something. Something insightful of why the US election ended up as it did.

I should have written something. something that made people take notice of our climate.

I should have – but instead I went skiing.

All inclusive

I’ve been on vacation. A glorious week in Egypt, with my wife, kids, sun and warm water.It can hardly be better, but as the good socialist and pietists I am, there is always at least one negative.

The Norwegian author, Bjornson, in the play “Kong Sverre” let one of the characters say:

Evry happy moment you were granted here on earth
must be paid with sorrow
If more are followed, believe,
they are only granted as debt. (my probably bad translation)

Hver Glædesstund, du fik paa Jord,
betales maa med Sorg.
Om flere følges ad, saa tro,
de gives kun paa Borg.

The sorrow lies in the “All inclusive” concept. A concept which is pretty amazing for a family with children who only have a week to relax. However is not amazing for the regional economy. Some argue that only 10 percent of what you as a tourist uses actually becomes part of the regional economy. The rest disappears out of the region you are visiting.

The hotel we lived at in Hurghada is owned by one of the richest men in Egypt. He gets my buck, not the local people. On the other hand, the money at least  stays in Egypt (we hope) and not elsewhere.

However, tourism accounts for over 10 percent of the economy in Egypt. The country can not get on without tourism. Maybe that’s why this t-shirt made it easier for the socialist and pietist to relax below the hot Egyptian sun?

Today, capitalism came to space

Today at 9:44  the private company SpaceX launched the first commercial rocket that will carry goods up to the International Space Station. This opens a new chapter in our relationship to space.

I am not sure if I like this or not. On the one hand I think that if we want our exploration of space, and not least, our use of space to grow, we need more actors than the public agencies such as NASA, ESA and JAXA. On the other hand, for the foreseeable future it will be the tax payers who will pay the private companies for what they do (except for what happens on the satellite side, but that’s another story). Should we really use tax money to create private profit? NASA is paying SpaceX 1,6 billion USD for 12 trips to the Space Station.

Here is NASA’s video from the launch

I believe our future lies in constantly exploring new horizons.

“Go West, young man, go West. There is health in the country, and room away from our crowds of idlers and imbeciles.” “That,” I said, “is very frank advice, but it is medicine easier given than taken. It is a wide country, but I do not know just where to go.” “It is all room away from the pavements.”  Horace Greely said once (there is disagreement about who is the origin of the term Go West, young man, go West, some claim it comes from John Soule)

Greely’s advice was given in conjunction with drive to occupy the American West. This movement brought great suffering to the original people there, but let us look away from it for a moment and reflect upon where we now can go to build a better society for people.

I believe that at least some of the answer lies in space.

Who loses in Europe?

Alexis Tsipras is the leader of Syriza Foto: Joanna/Wikipedia Commons

It may very well possible that Greece and not Germany who is holding with the best cards when it soon is to be decided what happens to the euro.

Marshall Auerbach writes in a guest post on the blog to Yanis Varoufakis that:

Alexis Tsipras is a good man. At least he’s a very good poker player. He hasn’t yet capitulated to this massive orchestrated pressure and made it clear up front in the Wall Street Journal Germany that there are options for the Greek people which the Germans won’t like: He is, in short, the first Greek politician to use the his country’s leverage over creditors.

Furthermore, it follows that:

The German response so far? “Oops. This guy is blackmailing us. What shall we do?” Because Germany as a creditor nation faces huge losses if the entire banking system starts to come under pressure, to say nothing of the end of their vaunted “wirtschaftwunder” as the entire eurozone implodes. Greece, by contrast, has already experienced 5 years of unremitting economic austerity. The country has been virtually reduced to the state of a barter economy. What has it got to lose at this juncture by refusing to roll over to the Troika?

I believe that the austerity line now being taken in Europe to rescue the euro is a recipe for economic decline. An economic downturn that primarily will affect people who do not sit at the top of the social pyramid.

Nobel Prize winner in economics, Paul Krugman, writes on his blog:

So Japan, which is spending heavily for post-tsunami reconstruction, is growing quite fast, while Italy, which is imposing austerity measures, is shrinking almost equally fast.

I think Europe and the somewhat the United States is about to make the same mistake as when all countries were to return to the gold standard after the First World War. The policy led to mass unemployment and poverty. About this parity policy the  Norwegian Encyclopedia says:

University economists and others warned against the parity policy, because deflation would cause bankruptcies and major restructuring difficulties for businesses, while the Central bank director-Rygg claimed that the parity line was both morally right and necessary to maintain international confidence in the Norwegian krone. (my translation)

Is there anyone other than me who recognizes the moral politics rather than economic reality as the foundation of what is happening in Europe now?