Happy May 1 to all you workers!

It's International Workers' Day and people all around the world are out in the streets reminding of what workers fought for almost 130 years ago (and  in many countries is still lacking): fair treatment of the workers, fair wages, 8h work days, holidays.

It is surely no coincidence that yesterday, OECD issued a new study warning about growing inequality and a desperate need for tax reforms. It already sounds boring but: While rich are getting richer, their taxes are drastically sinking.

Here the link to OECD's study:

http://www.oecd.org/els/soc/OECD2014-FocusOnTopIncomes.pdf

And an image from Barcelona today:

Go Francis!

I am definitely not a fan of what has become of Catholic Church. But it is always very exciting when you can find positive aspects in what you principally view as negative and other way round (Dear Angie, I think it is amazing that you had your healthy breasts- and soon ovaries - cut out: What a wonderful deconstruction of a sex symbol!) Back to the Catholic Church. I was very excited to read about Pope Francis railing against the dictatorship of an economy that became a self-righteous system and completely overtrumped (and enslaved) human beings. It is religions of the world that should scream loudest against injustice, against any threat to our soul, against neglecting that what makes us spiritual beings. 

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Reconnect

Yesterday, Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving, when sales start in US), a woman pulled out pepper spray and injured 20 people in order to get a discounted Xbox. A man was leaving a store with his family and got shot when he didn’t want to give up his purchase. Another man was stabbed in a shopping mall. Rihanna’s latest video, widely watched in US is banned in France. It is showing, and glorifying, a couple of drug addicts smoking crack, popping pills, drinking, having sex, tattooing each other. All to a funky beat, her happily singing “We found love in a hopeless place”. It looks like so much fun! Her “S&M” video was banned in Europe for glorifying S&M practices. 

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Only Bad Mood?

Norway: A right wing radical puts a bomb in the government building in Oslo and then goes to an island where he kills 77 teenagers in a summer camp organized by the social-democratic party. He wanted to warn the party, which he accused of letting too many Muslims into the country. Austria: A yearly youth study shows that more and more young people support FPÖ, the right-wing party. FPÖ directly appeals to (and then nourish) their fears. The study shows that Austrian youth is increasingly anxious. It also shows that those sympathizing FPÖ are much more scared (than those more left oriented) of the future: of inflation, terrorism and one day not receiving their pension.

USA: In current debt-ceiling debate, the Republicans are bringing the country - and the world economic system to the verge of a catastrophe. The only thing they want to achieve is – ultimate power. Even if the world crashes.

Brusselles: EU is facing a political disintegration and economic collapse. We’re facing a catastrophe, hand in hand with USA.

See any links? Well I do. For me, all of these are puzzle pieces of the same story. In September 2008, our western system known as democratic liberal capitalism proved to have failed. Under the strong lobby of those who hold the money, but not officially the power, we didn’t do what seemed impossible but was the only solution – erase and start from scratch. It wouldn’t have allowed rich to get richer, as they did since the crisis. Instead, we took the corpse, dabbed on it some make-up (couple of trillions of dollars worth of make-up) and pretended it’s going to be OK. Well, it’s not. The corpse has rottened and there’s nothing left but a huge mess and unpayable debt.

Of course people are scared. This could be the end of the world as we know it. The systems, the beliefs, the rules, the rulers, everything that should keep us in place and safe from chaos and suffering - it has all proved (continuously) to have failed. In our globalized world that means there’s nowhere to escape. We fail, you fail.

One more time, the only solution would be to start from scratch. But how do you start from scratch and change the whole paradigm? How do you explain to people who speed up when you signal you’d like to change a lane, just so that they don’t have to let you in front of them (even if it means endangering yours and their life) that the only way this poor planet and its billions of people can survive is if we LIVE solidarity, respect, altruism and modesty? There’s no space here for greed and power games.

Either we reach that or we’ll go through a catastrophe in the scale of WW III. Unfortunately, I’m afraid we’ll need to experience such a tragedy to (re-)learn real value. It’s human nature.

Yes, I’m in a bad mood today.

G8 - The Fiasco of Change

G8 summit has finished today. Conclusion: the financial transaction tax as proposed by the EU has been rejected. Also, we should restraint the public spending and reduce our budgets. In plain English: While rich continues being freed of paying taxes tax while getting richer, we get to save on schools, pensions, medical care, infrastructure, and other. Great. Have we learned nothing from the financial crisis? Bravo, politicians. (Why don’t we just get rid of them?)

Please note that the news about the rejection of the transaction taxis is quite hard to find. G8 concluding that they are angry of Iran and N. Korea is so much more important.

P.S. What about the change Obama was promising? Anybody seen it?

Tajder in EMMA

I am happy to announce that my commentary about "Sex and the City 2" is going to be published in the next issue of EMMA, the most renown feministic magazine in German speaking countries. As announced on the Website:

"Alice Schwarzer hat für die nächste EMMA einen Kommentar zur Sache von Ana Tajder in Wien bestellt – und das Resultat begeistert uns EMMAs alle sehr."

Link to the EMMA article

14 companies on Austrian stock exchange paid their share holders €2,3 Billion for the year 2008, the crisis year which cost millions of people their jobs, savings, homes, quality of life. And in which governments paid billions of tax-payers money to save banks/businesses which are again making profits that flow into someone else’s pockets. This amount makes out 4 payment rounds for 410.000 employees at those very same companies. But these employees are still being fired or made to work “Kurzzeitarbeit” – basically working a bit less for much less money.

All together ¾ of earnings are being paid out instead of invested or kept in the company. Every second company paid more to the share-holders in the crisis year 2008 than a year before.

Noticing anything wrong?

Angry. Again.

Last week, Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader resigned out of the blue, leaving his obligations towards the country and its citizens from one minute to the other. He escaped the sinking ship, many commented. Just like that. Now he is resting on his luxury yacht. Bush destroyed a whole country of 27 millions inhabitants, killed hundreds of thousands (some estimate million) of people, all under pretence that proved to be false and just to occupy the oil fields (which were sold out to foreign investors last week). And as a reward, he is now happily retired on a ranch in Texas.

The investment bankers who invented toxic derivates and created the crisis which took millions of jobs and destroyed lives of millions of people are stealing again (look at what is happening with the oil price). The only punishment for the created crisis was sending Madoff to prison for 150 years. This was obviously just a symbolic act - other hundreds of thousands of same thieves are still stealing and earning their million-dollar bonuses.

Why is it that if I go and steal or destroy someone’s home and kill their family, I would immediately end in a prison? And those who do the same crime, but on a much larger scale get rewarded?

How can it be that the politicians, the ones who should serve and protect us, are the only group of people with a total immunity? Why are there absolutely no consequences to their wrong-doing? Shouldn’t they be the ones who should be especially critically observed and especially punished if they betrayed the people who elected them and gave them power?  Why are we accepting this? When I start a job, I sign a contract – if I am not fulfilling what I promised to or if I am stealing from the company that I signed a contract with, they will fire me, even prosecute me. Why do we treat our leaders differently?

What happened to the promised regulations of the financial markets? Where were the protesters at the G8? Why are we not able to get up and force the change? Are we already totally lobotomised?

Yeah, summer is here, let’s enjoy it. After all, we have more interesting topics to thing about. For instance, what did MJ look like when he died?

Consuming Love - Literally II

Sorry, I just can't help it. Especially since Big Eye's “if you can see love, there is love” which I did like. Well, there must be love if I cut paprika and this is what I see. Now that we almost have had a whole love salad on this blog, I promise to stop with heart-shaped food. Unless something really fantastic appears in my fridge. Like a heart-shaped cucumber. div2009

...................... And here some highlights from my today's channel skipping between NTV (German CNN), Euronews and CNN. Some of which have warmed up my lefty heart (as my editor at The Vienna Review would say): Obama's Stimulus Package: The House is set to vote tomorrow. The guy really wants to put $825 billion into government investments to provide jobs (and someone protested when I said that his inauguration speech sounded socialistic) Review Globalisation I: USA, the big uncle of free trade, starts protectionism and asks Americans to "Buy American" Review Globalisation II: British workers protest for British jobs Review Globalisation III: Germany so spoiled by it's immense exports that it is wondering "what now?" as exports are due to stall because of the crisis and new protectionist wave. Yeah, what now? UK loses $5 billion due to two (2!) days of snow: Come on! What a sissy country is that? First Iranian satellite in space: And now we should worry about an Iranian flying saucer? Well, someone still has to explain to me why one country is allowed to have weapons, especially if it is already guilty for millions of deaths, and the other one not. Porn Airs During Super Bowl: Just as Cardinals' superstar Larry Fitzgerald watched himself sprint into the end zone on the stadium's Jumbotron during Sunday's Super Bowl, 10 seconds of eye-popping pornographic imagery "flashed" across the screens of those watching at home. And now, let me go back to the beginning: "if you see sex, there is sex". In this grey world I can only conclude - yeepii for porn!

That was 2008: pffffffffffff

I just read a fantastic description for year 2008: This was a year with a never-ending "Pffffffffffffff" sound.

(by Christoph Winder in Der Standard)

Although this was an exciting year, with my book and my articles coming out  and this unexpected (and bombastic) proof that the system is not healthy and needs to be changed - I didn't like it. I am happy that it is almost over and am looking forward to a brilliant 2009. I'll just ignore the speculations about the recession..... It all virtual, anyway.

Already miss them.....

You know what? There are so many things I am going to miss when all of this is over.

First, I am going to miss Sarah! She is a great inspiration for my oh-so-beloved sexy librarian style. I am going to miss the nest on her head and this incredible $22,000 face. She made me want to buy a new lipstick every day and dig out that pencil skirt and high heels, long forgotten since I left the business world! And she made me wear my glasses proudly. Yep, it works. Plus, with Sarah gone, my stomach muscles are going to go. Who am I going to laugh about?

I am going to miss Cindy! Every time I see Cindy, her hair is blonder and her face stiffer and I think she cannot do any other movement anymore than nod her head and throw those weird “applaud or I’m going to take my bazooka out” looks around. While Sarah is my hero in style and humour, Cindy is my hero in robotics. This woman has spent past seven (or so) months standing behind her husband, nodding! Wooow! So Stepford wives do exist?!

I am not going to miss McCain because I just feel sorry for this man. He urgently needs to retire and take a long, long, very long rest. When retired, he will have all time in the world to teach his wife some other movements apart from nodding. Probably just needs to be oiled a bit.

I am going to miss Obama! This big charmer, whose voice already sounds more familiar than my dad’s – because I hear him talk more often than I hear my dad talk. Once the campaign is over, the “charming” part is over – Obama will start “doing”. Remember that smile, maybe you will not see it after 4.11. There’s not much to smile about when you have to clean up the mess in that country. Let’s see what this will do to his personality. But whatever it does – we’ll see and hear much less of him.

I am going to miss SNL.

And jeez, if I am going to miss all of that, how do people in the USA feel? Maybe the elections should be postponed. So that we can all enjoy the show for another year. Or two. Or five?

Ugh, greetings to Kafka.

 

The Zeros

And suddenly, we are all trying to understand the billions and the trillions. $ billion is a € milliarde, a $ trillion is a € billion. And if you are not confused yet, try understanding how much they really are. If a billion is a million millions then how much is a trillion? Now try putting zeroes to those numbers. Not lost yet? Try to imagine how much all the governments around the world have put into saving the economy: USA $700 billions, Germany $680 billions, France $ 360 billions, Netherlands $258 billions, UK $88….Those make $2097 billions in total. Still not lost? Ask yourself where all that money comes from? They print it, right. So now, ask yourself how much this money is worth if it is simply being printed. Nothing, right. And what does this tell you? Yes, it is all yet another bubble. Or many bubbles. A trillion, billion, thousands of millions of millions bubbles. It looks like the financial system will have to be set from 0 after this….

What a day...

Strange day today.

There is no breath of wind - Vienna seems to be in a vacuum. The sky is steel grey and feels like a heavy helmet on our heads. Nothing is moving, everything is heavy, like a frozen picture. People are tired and have exhausted and lost expressions on their faces. The energy of a black hole. Feels like the whole city entered a limbo. We are not in hell - yet.

Mom tells me Zagreb is the same.

The markets keep on crashing – every day is the worst day till now. Wherever you turn you see CRISIS.

Can it be that this limbo-like atmosphere is created by our unconsciousness? Can it be that somewhere deep inside we all know we are standing in the middle of historical moments? A whole global system as we know it is crashing. And nobody knows what this means. Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring. It can be O.K., but it can also end in a depression like we never knew before.

The money is being printed endlessly which means it has no real value. Stocks have no value either. People will stop buying anything they don’t urgently need. Cars, TVs, fashion, travels have no value. Many factories are already closing. There are thousands of people loosing jobs.

Somebody compared this to Chernobyl – you can’t see it, you can’t smell it but you know it is a real catastrophe.

At least this day will be over soon.

 

Did you know we have a honey crisis?

Ooooohhhhh!

This is crisis in crisis!

A honey crisis! And this is serious.

Imagine world without honey! I wouldn’t survive. I live on honey.

The bees have a problem. A big one. Our economy is crashing, their world is crashing.  In Britain, honey production dropped 50% last year. After Xmas, there will be no British honey in supermarkets. And in 10 years there will be no bees in the UK anymore.

Bees pollinate 25% of food we eat. If there are no bees, not only there is no honey but also no apples, pears, almonds…

Californian almond industry lost billions because of a “Colony Collapse Disorder” – some of nature’s best navigators are suddenly unable to return into their hives because of a navigation problem. (Can mobile networks and similar be the cause?). Another problem is growing crops for the bio fuel instead of crops bees feed on. Because of the imbalance in nature (yes, caused by us), bee flees and wasps invade hives.

Beekeepers need $16million to start projects to save bees.

Ha, this used to be a lot - now it sounds like peanuts.

Governments should bail out bees!

My life without honey would be like life without olive oil and garlic – impossible….

 

The bubble

Look at this (surprisingly pretty) poetry of the presidential elections:

When you are inside of the candidate’s entourage, tightly protected by the security, you are “in the bubble”.

Once you left the bubble, and you want to return, you have to be checked for security, because you are “dirty”.

You can only enter the bubble when you are proven to be clean.

Ana and System in Crisis

Something very strange is going on. I have this horrible flu and somehow, my flu seems to be magically connected to the economy crisis. Yep, it is creepy and believe me, not a good place to be. I realised the connection day before yesterday, as I got up in the morning (after days of being ill) feeling worse then ever. I turned on CNN and the lady reporting about the crash on Asian markets said something like “It is like feeling sick for days but then one day waking up suddenly feeling even sicker.” Yes, I know how it feels. I am grateful for today’s status quo of the crisis - I am finally able to write a sentence or two.

At the beginning, I didn’t mind my little health crisis because I was very interested in the (what begun as) financial crisis. The fever gave me a great excuse to stay on my couch and read all the analysis I collected in past few days. And to keep on zapping between CNN, Euronews, n-tv and wherever the crash was being discussed.

Here are some interesting things I learned:

  • Top managers in Germany earn 400x more than their workers. Up to the crash of communism in1990, there was a law that limited this ratio to 20x
  • 12 suicides in Renault – all middle management - because people just can’t cope with the stress anymore (the topic of my next book). Top management compensates stress or responsibility with high salaries and often lets the middle management prepare and implement decisions, so it is the middle management that suffers most
  • Hey, almost forgotten about paradox of the “Corporate Responsibility” fashion – every company swears to this magic formula while acing completely irresponsible towards anything but raising profits. Which brought us to where we are today.
  • And here something  that boosted my spirits: Lehman CEO Punched at Gym (Yep, that’s the guy who earned $460 millions to help bringing the world into the economic crisis)

http://www.businessandmedia.org/articles/2008/20081006150152.aspx

  •  Another spirit boosting fact is that even Times’ business correspondents admit that the derivates, the actual triggers of the crisis, are so complicated that “börsianer” (how they call them in German), also don’t get them. And I thought I was stupid.
  • Finally, everybody is officially admitting that the lack of regulation does not work and that people motivated by greed cannot be trusted. My questions: 1. Did we have to get this far to understand this? 2. What are we going to do about it?
  • I was very amused while watching the press conference by Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling (God, with this name the guy should look like George Clooney). Because: They also don’t have the answers! Journalists posted two great questions: 1. Where does this money come from? And 2. Are people who are guilty for this going to be punished?  

Ad. 1. Both Brown and Darling didn’t know how to answer this question. In the later CNN analysis, the business correspondent also didn’t. It took Richard Quest (and from this moment, I am officially his fan – you can check it on Facebook) who said: “They PRINT it!” Bravo Richard! Truth can be so simple. And yeah, we’ll leave the inflation discussion for later

Ad. 2. I am very afraid that in this panic to save the world, we are again forgetting about basic things such as justice, fairness and morals. Maybe you already heard it - one week after the 84$ million AIG bailout, AIG managers spent $ 444,000 in a luxury resort. Should all be in jail by now! To read more: http://www.financialpost.com/most_popular/story.html?id=866284

  • On Tuesday evening, I watched a programme on Arte “dedicated” to managers. And I learned about what in Germany is called “Heuschrecken” - representatives of private equity funds (yes, mostly coming from the USA) who use mafia-like methods to increase short term return rates without considering the long term effects – such as firing thousands of people. Arte/ZDF made an excellent portrait of one of those guys - whose wife seriously stated in front of the camera that she is happy that her husband is here to “Bring Germany into 21st century.” Hey, I still don’t understand why those people don’t end up in jails?  The documentaries helped understanding the current situation and reminded of a point that should not be forgotten in current debates – social responsibility! If you can, watch Arte (www.arte.tv)
  • And this is one point I definitely was missing in yesterday’s Obama-McCain debate – how could/should the system be changed to make it fair and to avoid further crashes like these. Instead, we heard a question for which someone should have been sent to an IQ test: “Is Russia an evil empire?” Hey, if USA public continues thinking on this kindergarten level, nothing is going change.

O.K., this was way too much thinking and I am afraid the fever is up again. No wonder. Going back to my couch…

Palin, seriously.

Here the Palin story because I was very surprised to hear how many people here do not know about this phenomenon...

The first time I read about Palin, I was just amused. I read a profile on her in a Croatian newspaper and the first thing that made me think that something was wrong, were the pictures showing her in her symbol too tight skirts and too high heels. But as I started reading, I quickly understood – this is going to get worse. Yep, this ex-beauty queen is the governor of Alaska (and that is not a joke), she shoots bears and she has 5 (!?) kids. Her 17 years old daughter is pregnant (I dare to call this a proof of both the level of intelligence and education), her son is in Iraq. She has another daughter and a few months old kid with the Down syndrome. The article even mentioned a theory that that kid is actually one of her daughters’ child. Something is obviously VERY wrong about this family, still she kept on waving it like the victory flag. And hey, you should not use the tragedy of Down syndrome for marketing purposes!  OK, so here we have this sexed-up bear shooting super mom with promiscuous kids and a few months old baby who is also a governor of Alaska who, if anything should happen to the president, is going to rule the USA. How fast can you evacuate the whole country?

And then two days ago, I switched on CNN and stayed glued to the screen as I realised I am witnessing the second half of Palin-Biden debate. As the debate went on, I continued asking myself: Is this serious? Come on, I would immediately give this guy the keys of the whole universe and make him not its VP, but its president. To her, I wouldn’t even give the keys to my car. Can’t afford a new one since this financial crisis.

Palin seemed so false that I thought she must have a DreamWorks logo somewhere behind hear ear. This woman is programmed! And then came the highlight: her closing statement. She was speaking her empty memorised sentences into the camera with a sly smile and blinking eyes and if somebody had just blended in a telephone number and promised telephone sex with a hot secretary, they would have earned a f….g fortune (and could have bailed out the US economy themselves). This woman is a shame for the American politics. And she is a shame for the female sex.

Anyway, the debate finished and I jumped to my computer to learn more about this female wonder of programming. And what I found shocked me even more. The media was praising Palin for not embarrassing herself AGAIN. Does USA really deserve a VP who is praised every time she does not make a total fool out of herself? In her first big interview, Palin did not know what the Bush Doctrine was. Come on, if we were serious here, her Republican Party should have sent her back to Alaska, excused itself to the party members and general public for making idiots out of them and immediately found a new VP candidate.

Here the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRHkYN3hXkw

But instead of flying to Alaska, the lady just gets a new pink suit and goes on to her next debacle: in her next big interview, she does not know what the bail out plan is about! By now, I thought I was dreaming…..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeMypXCUWMw

Somehow, this reminded me of the story when the Barbie Liberation Organisation swapped the electric voice boxes of hundreds of Barbie dolls and GI Joe action figures - so that Barbie would growl "Dead men tell no lies," and GI Joe would squeal "Want to go shopping?"

I don’t know. Palin is just beyond any serious comment. And the USA is seriously crashing.  This country deserves serious people to get it out of the chaos. Seriously.