My Right Is Your Duty – Fiat Euro! 10/2013

African holiday without potholes. European Official? “No, you must have mistaken me for somebody else!” Inspectors forgot to check on themselves. Guaranteed Spanish investment.

It’s great to have the right to housing, or health care. But one must realize that neither houses nor surgeries fall from the sky. Somebody has to be there to provide them. An increase in the rights of one must always be balanced by restricting the rights of others.

Ignoring this relationship is quite common in politics and they have particular specialists for that in Brussels. For lack of space, let us just mention a gimmick named the right to a basic bank account for everyone (in fact, such a rule will probably be essential, as more and more Member States are prohibiting people from using cash in order to have better supervision of their transactions).

A more interesting proposal is the one for the right to work for young people. Europe’s response to the growing youth unemployment is not more flexible labour codes or minimum wages, which would at least offset the disadvantages that some youngsters without work experience have compared to older people. Nor is it a reduction of the tax burden on the youth (actually, we’ve recently done the exact opposite in Slovakia, increasing the cost of students work in some cases by as much as 30%). The only answer is, as always, an increased money flow from European taxpayers to various European work schemes and programmes.

Although the EU budget is only a drop in the ocean when compared with ESM, nevertheless, there are quite decent funds in it – for example, for vote buying. By which I don’t mean buying the members of the parliament this time, but the Member States directly. The EU still cannot agree on the final budget, therefore, European Parliament recently pledged 18.5 billion euros as a bonus for Member States, if they finally vote. For example, Mayotte, a mini island somewhere near Madagascar which became a Department of France two years ago and will become EU territory as of 01.01.2014, will cash in two hundred million. The holidaymaking EU officials probably complained about the roads quality…

Bribing the Member States and their citizens will probably have to be intensified. The support for UKIP, an UK euro sceptic party, increases, what’s more, the bad Continental euro-mood translates into politics. A new Austrian euro sceptic party Team Stronach achieved interesting results in regional elections, and thanks to some deserting deputies, now it even has some representatives in the current parliament. Similarly in Germany, a new “anti-bailout” party was formed, accompanied by substantial media buzz, but the answer from the voter was, however, rather lukewarm.

This euro mood is, however, somewhat good compared to that in Greece. A document was recently released to public in which the Commission advises the European civil servants travelling to Greece to conceal the true purpose of their journey and to always have some invented backup story to tell. So much for the European integration and peace building by Brussels…

This is not the only interesting news from Greece this week. Only recently did the truth come out that during the financial hurricane period in Greece two years ago, the run on the Greek banks was so heavy that the government had to secretly deliver the banknotes “Par Avion” from other Member States. Cash in circulation in the Greek economy has grown since the beginning of the debt crisis from 20 to 48 billion euros. People’s anger doesn’t remain completely unanswered. The former mayor of Thessaloniki was given life imprisonment the previous week, and the former defence minister was sentenced to 8 years in prison and confiscation of property. And he only committed a relatively trivial crime (in Greek terms) – he did not declare the income of about 100 000 euros.

Generally, it is difficult to enforce taxes in Greece. Those who want to survive the huge tax increases during the crisis can barely avoid doing some magic with their tax liabilities. There are even concerns that the 130  tax inspectors avoid paying taxes. Tax evasion is another good excuse to restrict personal freedoms of citizens. If you are concerned about loss of privacy when using various club cards from supermarkets, you’d better not move to Greece (if such a thing ever came to your mind of course…).The State can officially inspect all bank accounts and, thus, have an overview of all your purchases. With the club card, you can at least throw it away whenever you want.

Nothing quiet on the Western Front. Ireland and Portugal (encouraged by a new round of mass demonstrations) are seeking postponement of debt payments. Delay of conditions for Spain is almost a sure thing. Can you already see our lent money slowly but gradually disappearing?

In 2012 Spanish bank Bankia made the highest loss ever recorded by a Spanish company – 19.2 billion euros. Its shares, traded at its inception two years ago at 3.5 euros, are now less than 30 cents. The EU is pushing Spain to transfer this loss to the shareholders by reducing the share price of the rescue bank to 1 cent. We have always held the view that bank losses should be borne by the shareholders, but it’s no redress in this case. Among its 350 thousand (almost entirely Spanish) shareholders, there are hundreds of thousands of ordinary people who don’t even know how they were lured into this “bargain” investment consisting of toxic assets repackaged by the government. When it comes to a successful implementation of government plans, consumer protection is suddenly irrelevant. Unfortunately, there is no better solution. The only alternative is that everybody will pay for it. Thus, not only those who allowed the government to deceive them.

Latvia submitted its application to the euro-club, although about two thirds of its population disagree with that according to surveys. Eastern Europeans are very much welcomed in this club, in some others – not so much. Germany made ​​it very clear that they would veto any possible accession efforts of Romania and Bulgaria to enter the Schengen area.

Let’s take a look at the USA. Due to the endless disagreements about the budget there, automatic cuts of USD 80 billion were activated. The situation is compared to the arrival of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. For comparison, the expenses of the federal budget for 2013 are USD 3803 billion…

To finish the circle, we got a funny ending from the EU again. The endless dispute about whether Microsoft can pre-install its Internet Explorer browser in Windows brought a further fine of 561 million, which brought the amount of fines for Microsoft up to 2.24 billion euros. Pretty handsome sum – thank god we have corporations. We also suggest taking closer look at the car factories. According to our information, they supply cars with pre-mounted steering wheels and do not give the consumer any possibility of choice.

We wish you an enjoyable week without potholes.

(Translated by Jakub Pivoluska).