Ho hum

Those who fail to learn the lessons from the mistakes of history are doomed to repeat them.
George Santayana
I’ve just been reading of what it’s like to be in Greece at the moment:
It is a country where the fascists and the anarchists battle for control of the streets, where immigrants fear to go out at night and where a woman whispers “it’s like the Weimar republic” as a motorcycle cavalcade from the Golden Dawn party, devotees of Adolf Hitler, cruises past the parliament building. Graffiti says: “Foreigners get out of Greece. Greece is for the Greeks. I will vote for Golden Dawn to remove the filth from the country.”
(The Guardian, Larry Elliot, economics editor)
Greece is in such trouble because their government and financial authorities ran up huge debts, told lies to the European financial authorities, generally spent money with no regard to repaying it and the whole country avoided paying their taxes.

“Practically all the banks are bankrupt and there has been a very large redistribution of wealth in favour of the rich.”

This is the point: there has been a massive redistribution of wealth in favour of the rich, worldwide and it’s going on every day, faster and faster. That old saying about the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer is not only true, it’s completely, outrageously true.

There’s not a day goes by when there’s not some new item about the outrageous financial dirty dealing going on in the world. The Facebook IPO stands out – here’s everyone’s favourite web business run by a fresh faced Bill Gates lookalike who decided to let everyone get a slice of the action.
The shares were offered to the public at $38, but only a couple of weeks later they’re worth about $28 and falling. If you were a small investor, you’ve lost a lot of your money.
But:
  • the company placed shares with big Wall Street banks and institutions days before the actual day of listing;
  • the company also warned the big financial institutions weeks before the listing that profit forecasts were not looking as good as predicted;
  • that allowed the big boys to short the shares before they were listed so they still made a profit even in a falling market;
  • the head of Facebook, that cheery faced kid, sold some of his shares this week for about $1 billion;
  • as the head of the company, those shares didn’t cost him anything, so that $1 billion is pure profit for him.
If that isn’t dirty dealing, I don’t know what is. The unsophisticated investors lost their money, but the owner and the big boys won their profits from them.
What about the lessons of history? They are being repeated and it’s the little people who are being hurt.
But worse, it’s financial instability like this (the Weimar Republic referred to above) that led to WWII and other conflicts. When people get scared and desperate, they do desperate things and mistakes  spiral out of control.
Not far away from Greece is Syria, where terrible things are happening with the active support of Russia. The Russian government is supplying arms to the Syrian government forces who are shelling and murdering their own citizens. When we (the rest of the civilised world) try to stop the violence, Russia blocks us.
This is the same Russia that has threatened recently to wage war on NATO, including using nuclear weapons, if NATO installs an anti-missile shield to protect against Iran.
Iran meanwhile, has enough material to  make 5 nuclear weapons and now has missiles capable of putting a satellite into orbit. That’s why NATO wants a missile shield over Europe.
Spain and Italy, meanwhile, are tottering on the financial cliff edge too. Britain is now so poor that they are scrapping large parts of their armed forces.
Even in the  days of the Cold War, I don’t remember things being as dangerous as they are now.  WA would have to be one of the world’s safest places, we hope.

My fallout shelter