A reason to leave.

September 21, 2009

The European Union is a great idea in principle. Free trade amongst a select host of smaller nations would help them to compete against the world super powers such as the United States and China. Inclusion in the treaties allow individuals from member nations to trade, work and move freely between other member nations.

Originally set up with only six nations, Belgium, (West) Germany, Italy, France, the Netherlands and Luxembourg the European Union now consists of twenty seven sovereign states. There is also a list of three official candidate countries and five potential candidate countries. If all of these countries are included that would take the number of member states to thirty five. This would mean that peoples of thirty five different nationalities and cultures are free to roam from country to country in what could potentially be called a European super state.

EU_map_names_islesWhat recent history has shown us is that when people are free to move from country to country then a lot are more than ready to do so. The shift is generally one way, towards an improvement in the quality of life. What has tended to happen is that when a new country is included into the union then its nationals will move to a more developed state within the union. The reasons for doing this are far too obvious to list here. The trend of immigration stems itself over time and some people opt to return to their home country when the economic climate has improved. These improvements come about as the country becomes more integrated into the European Union.

Here I think it only right that I interject and point out that I in no way called be called someone who is pro Europe and in most matters I would say that I am heavily against the idea of a unified Europe. As I said at the beginning I believe the idea to be a good one in principle but the reality has turned out to be beyond anyone’s control. This I feel is in the most part down to corruption, nepotism and cronyism. There are probably a few more ism’s to be thrown in there as well but I can’t think of them right now. I also believe that the institute of the European Union is an entirely self serving one.

In the UK there as been a feeling amongst the general population that we have been flooded with people from Eastern Europe in the past few years. We have to tread careful here for two reasons. Firstly, there are approximately 5.5 million British nationals living abroad compared to approximately 4.1 million foreign nationals living in the UK. That puts us almost 1.5 million people up.

The second point however is more important. We are in extreme danger of been hypocritical in regards to immigration. We talk a lot about people turning up from abroad and working here but we seem to forget that we have somewhat of a reputation in this field. The methods we employed in the past in regards to emigrating abroad where not as subtle as what is happening here and now. We would simply turn up to a country and take it over by use of brutal force. We wouldn’t even offer the common courtesy of working alongside the local inhabitants. We would just have them do what we said. At one time these people became our commodities. We would import and export them as slaves as if they were bundles of linen.

We complain that our country is been taken over but is it really? We are not force to work for the immigrants to the UK, we are simply asked to work alongside them. At the same time we are given the option of going to live and work in other countries if the inclination and opportunities exist.

Probably the immigration system is wrong in Europe and is doomed by design to fail. But we need immigration. It is natural and necessary for the advancement of societies. It does however need to be controlled. I don’t think now is the place to discuss this but it is something that is in need of investigation.

I will leave you here with one thought in mind. We all have something that would make us leave our homes and move abroad. What is yours? Also, next time you meet someone who is from another country consider what was theirs.


Under Press- ure

July 19, 2009

In the past week it has been reported that the big banks are starting once again to award big bonuses to its employees. The world is bitter about this and rightfully so. The press it seems are particularly outraged about this and if the press is outraged then so are the rest of us. I don’t want this to be yet another blog post vilifying the banks and their bonus culture. The discussion of the rights and wrongs of this is for another post I think. What I want to focus on here is the role of the media in this and more importantly, their reasons for doing this.

When the front pages of the newspapers, especially the red topped tabloids, scream out at us about the exuberant wages or bonuses bankers receive we should really consider why they are telling us this. We should also give careful consideration as to whether or not it is right for them to tell us this.

A favourite saying in a lot of articles of this nature is “the public has a right to know”. But do we really have the right to know about someone’s personal income. Bankers are private individuals just like the rest of us. They are not politicians or celebrities who’s lives are open for public scrutiny by the fact of their career choice or for the safety of the public’s interests. How happy would we be if our earnings were splashed across the front of the newspapers for the world to see? How happy would the journalist who wrote the article be if it was made public how much he had been paid for the article?

The current banking system requires a massive overhaul. That much is plainly obvious. This overhaul needs to be carried out with great care by people with great integrity and vast amount of experience within the financial markets and banking sector. The banks cannot be allowed to regulate themselves but the regulators must understand how the banks have to work. Banks are not like any other business. It is not just the share holders who lose if the bank goes bust. It is everyone and everything. As we have seen, the economy controls and influences everything.

These decisions and changes need to be made with great care and at the right time. They cannot be made under the pressure applied by sensationalised headlines. Sensationalism causes politicians to get involved in issues and politicians have a nasty habit of turning things political. The measure they apply are, or at least try to be instantaneous so the public can see that they are doing something and hopefully see that it is working while the issue is still fresh in everyone’s minds. These problems don’t need three to five year plans but twenty five to fifty year plans.

The media moguls will understand that these decisions cannot be rushed but just like the politicians they see things in the short term. They know that sensational headlines sell papers. Paper sales in turn generate advertising revenue and this is where the great media hypocrisy lies. They will run stories lambasting the banks for the fat cat attitudes and the way that they rip off customers. On the next page will be an advertisement for the same bank.

So the moral of this story is that while the media is most definitely against the banks taking our money, it doesn’t mind them spending it with them. Just as long as it all sells papers.

The Value Of Money

July 8, 2009

“You need to learn the value of money”. That was something I, and I imagine a lot of other people heard as a child. But that’s quite a strange thing to say. Surely the value of money is obvious, a penny is a penny and a pound is a pound. But is this really true?

The question is not a matter of economics as it might look at first sight. Rather it is a question of perspective. To the rich man driving his Aston Martin what is five pounds? It’s loose change that he leaves on his dressing table. It’s what he gives to the collection plate on Sundays; it’s what he pays to have his soul saved.

But to the homeless guy sleeping in a doorway as the drizzle comes down around him, it’s a good meal and a hot drink. It could also be oblivion, time of undisturbed sleep induced by amber liquid from a plastic bottle. Whichever way that he chooses to spend the money it will be a special event even if it’s only for a short time.

This may seem like a very obvious thing to say but really it is merely only scratching the surface of what shapes our perspective towards the value of money. There are people in the world with great riches who will haggle over a few pennies and there are people in the world who merely scrape to get by but they don’t hesitate to spend money when they get it. Some people horde and other people splurge there cash. It’s all a matter of perspective again.

Where does this perspective come from? A reaction to our parents’ attitudes towards money must play an important role in developing how we ourselves feel. If our parents drum into us the need to save, encourage us to do so and show us the benefits then we to, may well become savers. If however, we as young people are deprived because of this attitude then it could well be the case that we rebel against this trend of thought and become more frivolous about financial matters. Our parents could be exceedingly poor and then when we ourselves are free as young adults, without children or responsibilities money seems to be in almost endless supply. Then responsibility hits and we become like our parents, scraping to survive. At that point there is no ability to save.

There is also nowadays a distorting factor. That is credit cards. We can go on massive shopping sprees without spending a single real penny. We don’t hand over cash so is the money really real. The answer to the question of whether or not credit cards distort our perspective of money is an easy one. The real question would be by how much, but I think that is a debate for another time.

From this mere scratch on the surface of this subject it seems that status or upbringing do not alone give us a true sense of the value of money. The news is constantly, every hour, filled with news of how much our money is worth. These figures only show what our money is worth to other people. The only person who can know the true value of money to you is you and because of this fact I’ll leave it up to you to decide what you measure it in.