Phil Mirzoev's blog

Friday, December 24, 2010

Republicans are suffering the deepest ideological crisis ever

I think it is because the Conservative party is now suffering a deepest ideological crisis as a whole. Some kind of powerful degeneration of the party and their ideological foundations and political self-awareness occurred.
They in essence cannot now offer anything really fundamentally different from what they actively exploited in the last century. They has become kind of ideologically exhausted and turned into a kind of political Dinosaurs the best embodiment of which are such figures like McCain and many others - people from the 20th century and sometimes from the 19th. The best they could think of in this situation is to wrap the old content with the expiry date long gone in a kind of renewed wrapper: and the result was the appearing of plastic dummies like Sara Palin and some others. From the age of the Cold War they - Republicans - still need some kind of war as a pivotal driver and the main justification of their existence in power (not necessarily a military war - just a war of words, a war of measures and ideas): the war with some enemy that wants to deprive the US of its values of its air, water, good traditional family, peace, security etc etc. In this old good scenario they wouldn't have to create any new values, they would just defend the old ones and you would thank and praise them for performing this heroic task.
But the problem is that now comes an age when war is not essential like it was, an age when politicians must be ready to accept new realities and sometimes review some old values. But Republicans just turned out to be absolutely unprepared to generate something new. So there we are: they just mechanically continue to do what the did in the past: search for what could be categorized as bad and dangerous and make an impression of actively defending you against those evils (be it taxes, or Wikileaks, or abortion, masturbation etc etc etc), even if those evils sometimes were unarguably created by themselves (like crisis).
Yes before recent it worked ok and the 9/11 terrorist attacks played into the hands of the Republicans, giving their ideology (or rather lack of it) an extension - a new enemy to fight with, and, there they were needed again. But all too soon people understood that wars in the old fashion breed terrorists faster than kill them, and that a new vision and study of this problem is vital to really decrease the influence and reduce the number of terrorists. But new vision and new studies and approaches require creative work, not heroic slogans or swinging your fists. And creative work is not something Republicans happened to be ready for (not only in fight against terrorism but on all fronts, including international relations, economy etc). So the Party kind of 'degenerated' because of its inability to offer something fundamentally new.
The same goes for economic policy. Republicans have always supported big corporations and tax-cuts for them under the guise of supporting free market and business in general - that's a core part of their ideology of promoting free capitalism. As a result of these warm relationship 1) those big corporations lobby republicans with... of course money and 2) many former and present reach businessmen go to republican party if they decide to go to politics. That's it. Republicans loved big reach corporations (banks, oil companies etc) which in turn love republicans: that was part of their ideology; help the reach, make themselves reach too and then the usual people may have something from all of this too. In this sense they too positioned themselves as defenders of traditional values of free market and entrepreneurship against 'enemy' - all those who ostensibly what to steal those values.
But now, especially because of the crisis, it has been becoming increasingly clear that helping big corporate giants with low taxes has NOTHING to do whatsoever with either support of free market of with support of small and middle-sized business, which are the main generator of jobs and economic development.
No enemy - that's the problem. No body around to blame and to protect us against in order to sell us our air and water in the political sense (we couldn't have these too if it were not for Reps). You just cannot be conservative in the 21th century, because the increasing pace of development of this world is not compatible with 'conservatism' in the shape it was viable in the last century. The whole ideological basis, or, to be more accurate, and illusion thereof, has just fell at the seams

Friday, December 17, 2010

How to avoid ridiculously 'freak' wars like in Iraq and Afghanistan in future?!

Now a majority of TV and radio programs dedicated to the topic of Afghan war are trying to discuss whether or not it makes sense to increase the number of troops there, whether or not it's worth to leave that country and what would be the best strategy to train Afghan army. Unfortunately the media is markedly falling behind the reality: the Afghan war has already been lost, and the exit in a 'cut-and-run' mode is inevitable. To transform Afghanistan into a country (which it is not), especially a stable one the world should have pumped into it not billions, not even trillions, but TENS of trillions of dollars, and now the humankind is still just not enough developed technologically and financially to create new countries from scratch. From the very first it was a game at the expense of taxpayers in monetary terms and at the expense of lives of the young boys in uniform who decide to join the army not based on rational knowledge and analysis but based on their blind trust and believe in the demagogy of politicians whom they mistakenly identify with their country.
The only practical question is how to minimize financial and human losses and - for politicians - how to leave in the most 'face-saving' way possible. How sharply to cut and how fast to run - that's the only headache of those who make decisions. That's all. Game over. Shedding tears about the actions of the US and its NATO allies is long irrelevant - it would have made sense not even yesterday, but the day before yesterday. But what really may be of some concern is rather ineffective tackling of this problem by the media, which continues to discuss the problems which must be left to historians to deal with.
What one would really like journalists, publicists and politics pundits to knock around in panel discussions is HOW to prevent the repetitions of the similar wars (including Iraqi one). How come that a whole bunch of so called developed democracies so easily and rashly involved themselves in such a preposterously catastrophic device? How could it be, that "mother of democracy" Britain just rushed headlong to wage a war against... Taliban after US declared its aim to catch... Osama?! For that matter, UK - parliamentarian democracy - plunged into Iraq war a couple of years latter only because it's PM for some absolutely unknown reasons individually decided to do so - how come?! With more than 80% British population against the war too! Is there really not a single tool or mechanism left even in the most advanced democracies to prevent them from the wildest most obvious and most dangerous war sprees?! Even when the most of the population of those democracies openly express their discontent and disagreement with the 'decision'? HOW COME - that's the first question. And what needs to be done to avoid throwing similar tantrums in the future is the second question. What Afghan and Iraqi campaigns brought to light is not the question of how we should transform those countries but the question of how we must transform our countries and political controls to avoid suchlike follies in future. Many publicists notice, and rightfully so, that the actions of the US and their many western allies were catastrophic for the countries invaded, but even more catastrophic they were for the those 'liberators'. Things that must not be possible in the 21th century for the western democratic world have happened to be quite possible, and that must sound the real alarm of the western media. That's where the main focus of the intellectual elites must be on, because if such absurdly uncontrollable and stupid things are possible we can only guess what comes next. It's a very big disappointment.
Emanuel Kant expected that democratic countries based on the concept of civil society are less inclined to wage wars, but, unfortunately his thesis so far has not been clearly and definitively proved in practice. Quite likely not because this German visionary was mistaken in his assumptions but because the real democracies are still very much underdeveloped. If the key decisions of war and piece beyond the country borders were taken only after a plebiscite British troops might have not ended up in Afghanistan or Iraq. All this dramatic happenings would have been even more unlikely if before such a plebiscite the people had been entitled to the full detailed information based on which such decisions were recommended, or, at the very least, parliamentarians had been given the pass to "the vaults of state secrecy".

The US has a hopelessly out-of-date political system: reform urgently needed

This post was written in reply to the questions put by one history student, very much disenchanted with the modern American politics.
His main assertions about the present state of affairs in the US institute of the political power were the following:
1. Every politician that gets elected always leaves with quite a considerable amount of money, then before they got in politics.
2. 9 out of 10 times a senator or congressman will vote along party lines, even if an opposite vote against their party would be more beneficial for the people that elected them.
3. The party that does not have the majority will do everything they can to sabotage the other party, even if the law or amendment will greatly help the American people.
I have lost all respect and trust in the people who run our country. They seem to put themselves first, their party second and the American people last.
Such was 'the cry of soul' of the inquisitive athor.


All those assertions and claims are both quite accurate and legitimate.
The problem is not about personalities, but about system. The US has a hopelessly out-of-date political system, which just can not fully support the democratic standards at the proper level in the 21ht century (by no means it follows that the US is not a democracy any more, but that it is losing its efficiency and can turn from a democratic country into a DEMOCRATISH country if nothing's changed). It's kind of unprofitable and equally difficult to be honest within the old system within the new realities of the 21th century.
In my opinion, the objective need for a deep reformation concerns the legislative branch as well as the executive one in America.
That's a BIG problem, because it would require to modernize the Constitution on the one hand, whereas the Americans are veeery conservative and prejudiced against even the very word 'change' when it comes to the Holy of Holiest - Constitution. Sort of crisis that needs to be solved.
Presidential model consolidates too much power in one hand, whereas the US is federation. Centuries ago strong presidential power for the US was justified for a number of 'evolutionary' reasons, but. I am afraid, not any more - now that's become an obstacle, that decreases flexibility, accountability, and increases the risk of wars and corruption. Either the US needs many presidents, or just no one and a powerful parliamentarian system.
The representative system based on the domination of two parties, ideological basis of at least one of which hopelessly eroded due to natural causes, is a completely obsolete too. For example, a group of people who are able and willing to solve the problem of green energy must join the ranks either of GOP or Dems, though both parties historically are not geared to lead the energy revolution. A century ago the ideological problems of the balance between socialism and capitalism were topical, important and occupied the heads of people. Now times have changed, and those problems have been solved on a practical and theoretical level many years ago. The right way of transition to a new energy consumption/production model, as well as new information, transportation, ecological, credit etc model is a much more topical and consequential question nowadays for the modern democracies than all that rickety ideological skeletons of the 20th century.
I want to vote for a group of people who can free the nation of oil, not for those who can defend me from oil companies, or who can on the contrary defend oil companies from me. But neither can I delegate power to those people, nor can those people offer themselves directly to the people within the existing system. It's just an example.
The malignant detriment from this to the world most powerful democracy is none too small. The 'slippages' are reflected in a loss of feedback: American people don't always understand what to require from the Government and, even worse, how to hold the Government to its responsibilities. People in Government in turn understand that the success of their careers is not dependent on the success in service to the people's needs.
One more serious consequence from the dilapidated model is the currently observable dysfunctionality of the state political machinery itself. There's a perceptible lack of unity of the US inside itself, and a lack of the inner feedbacks that would allow the Government to restore this unity on a fundamentally new level. It may well be a great mistake on the part of Obama trying to find a compromise with a party that got COMPLETELY IDEOLOGICALLY BANKRUPT: http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CVRWNP6MUFXGNDQJO6IXYXLMHY/blog/articles/200326 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tax-cuts reduce unemployment: it's an old conservative myth!

Actually general (universally applied) tax-cuts can easily do more harm than good in cases where they put an additional break on the redistribution of capital from developed (often big and powerful) businesses to the developing ones. But this myth is still actively sold by politicians especially conservative ones, who are traditionally in a cozy sweet relationship with huge financial and oil corporations. Idea is simple: to tell small and medium hard-working bees that they are gonna help them in order to get their votes, and then, when in power, to help even more those quasi-monopolistic dinosaurs, who fight competition by their lobbing power, and have little if any interest in intensive development and creating jobs.
To produce jobs through tax cuts you need to apply them selectively to stimulate creation of new businesses and development those in the making. The tax cuts (or breaks) must redistribute the capital flows in favor of new businesses. That's the idea. But if you cut the tax for big reach giants, incl oil companies, financial corps etc, you just allow accumulating the capital in the hands of existing entities and dry out the liquidity inflow into the new businesses. Big corporations in their turn are more often than not disinterested in increasing jobs - rather on the contrary, they, being in a state of equilibrium, try to get new technology to get rid of extra people.
Only new businesses could create new jobs, and, here the state must help.
So, you need tax more the reach, big and stable companies, and give tax breaks to new fledglings, small and average business.
Just two more points about big corporations:
1. Many people like to refer to the necessity for tax reduction for project developments even for big corporation. There is some sense in this point, but in practice more often than not this argument is used in purely demagogic way: 'Reduce our taxes forever, cos we sometimes somewhere happen to develop some projects' - that's the main undercurrent of all those talks about 'poor rich monsters' lacking enough money for their new projects. There could be one thousand and one way to help with new projects without general tax reduction (for all for everywhere), using highly particularized TAX BREAKS. A corporation first proves that it really has a project to develop and then it proves beyond the reasonable doubt that it really develops this project (its not just on paper) and than it gets back some taxes.
But let us have any illusions: in reality those 'quasi-monopolistic' giants are not inclined to spend very much on new projects in times when profits are very high. The brilliant example is the oil giant Exxon Mobile, which stopped enlargement of its reserves as soon as the oil prices sky rocketed, see: http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/JubaksJournal/IsExxonMobilsFutureRunningDry.aspx
2. In times when tax regime is soft, big corporations, with their high lobbing power, do manage to pay practically much less than small and medium business which is pretty much helpless in the face of state regulations. The same Exxon Mobile in recent times have practically paid NOTHING at all, and that in the climate of super-duper record prices for oil and super-duper profits from it too: http://thinkprogress.org/2010/04/06/exxon-tax/

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Things I would like Obama to change for ever

1) Once and for all openly to put an end to this absolutely obsolete and unjustified type of relationship with Israel - giving it absolute impunity and not letting it to account for its action like any other sovereign country before international community for it's actions. This unconditional friendship policy for the last several decades cost Israeli people, American people and the rest of the world thousands up on thousands of lives (directly and indirectly) and billions upon billions of dollars (in direct and indirect economic losses and expenditures). The human cost is can hardly be estimated.
Yes the US must remain friends with Israel but this relationship must be an adult one
2) He, as a man with the 21th century mentality, must understand that the antiquated privilege of 'absolute state secrecy' must be abolished, and there must new mechanisms in place to control the actions of Government on the external fronts. No absolute secrecy any more! There must always be some commissions from the Congress let in on those secrets and who may or may not give the approval to classify or disclose some or other bit of info. No presumption of trust given to the Government any more, on the contrary: it's Government who must PROVE beyond reasonable doubts that something must be classified. Obama promised in his election campaign to change the ways of the White House. Let him do! Not only the well-being of the most powerful nation-state is at stake and dependent on the renovating the mechanisms of democratic control over the executive power, but also the well-being of the rest of the world and the political achievements of Obama himself. Yes it's difficult to reform a dinosaur but no other way out here. Responsibility of the top leaders of the US must too be reviewed fundamentally. Now for a President of US or Secretary of state or Minister of Defense to get a jail sentence for their feats is something absolutely unheard of, but in the real up-to-date democracy that must change. Any top leader in the US being sworn in must remember that the US prison system exists no only for street gangsters or alimony evaders, and that there's no guarantied criminal impunity for him after he is retired. The mechanism of investigation, the understanding of the responsibility of the statesmen and the mechanisms of checking thereof have to be seriously reformed too.
3) Very smart and long-awaited move what with starting a real relationship with India, but Obama also must take a very hard stance towards China, which continue to subsidize its exports and unfairly gain advantages in trade by using its undemocratic structure. China in essence directly regulates the size of average salary cos they don't have the independent unions or justice system. The also limit the volume of foreign investments. They are not a free market economy, BUT want to use all the advantages of one in its economic dealings with the rest of the world. The US must understand that it (as well as the rest of the democratic free market world) is being f...d by Chinese growth, not helped, cos this growth is achieved in large measure not because of competitive advantages but because of political advantages: a hybrid between slavery and capitalism. Stop giving China new technologies or relatively new technologies in exchange for the relatively primitive consumer products they give in exchange. You give them technology and help develop the economy, they give you the cheap cups and clothes that don't help you develop your economy - that is the point. In the age of colonization European conquerors very often traded indigenous peoples some cheap glass trifles for real gold and diamonds. The same thing is going now between China and the Western world. They give cheap trifles and in return get for example mobile phones and telecommunication technology which completely changes the face and the real possibility of The Chinese economy as well as its political regime. STOP unfair trading with China! And it's not a question of manipulating of currency - it's stupid to accuse China of currency ,manipulation (it's their sovereign right to regulate its currency rate), they manipulate its labor and the foreign investments. It's too their right but they in this case must no be dealt on an equal footing like any other democratic free market economy cos they are not. The West itself willingly allows China to f...k itself. Shame.
4) Oil. Yeeeesss. Of course nobody can believe that Obama is able to resolve this problem completely during his term, BUT he can change the direction of the US policy on this issue for ever. Once and for all the US must declare that it's future economic development is not compatible with oil-based energy sector. As in the case of anti-tobacco campaign with the slogans like 'Smoking leads to cancer and death', any member of the the US society must get the message 'Burning oil leads to economic death', and only from this perceptive should all further judgments about the effectiveness of the US policy on the energy sector be made. US and oil-burning have different ways.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Don't be afraid of the word 'socialism' in the 21th century, it can be helpful

"We the People of the United States..." is said in the first sentence of the US constitution, not "We the corporations or capitalists or financial institutions of the United States...".
Even some of the biggest 'capitalists' of the US are starting now to be increasingly aware that free market capitalism cannot be a state ideology or a fundamental value or a kind of primary ever reached goal. It's just an economic reality - just it. It can be a necessary condition, it can be a necessary medium and economic and financial relationship structure, but it just cannot be an ideology of the state, neither a fundamental value, nor a thing of special pride. The freedom of entrepreneurship - YES that is one of the main values and goals, but not capitalism which many conservative demagogues have many decades tried to blur in their discourse with entrepreneurship. Even Soros, to my surprise, now understands that an attempt to make capitalism as such some kind of fundamental civil democratic value like entrepreneurial freedom is nothing more than an attempt to make gun possession a fundamental value confusing it intentionally with the right of self-defense.

Socialism is very often demonized by the conservatives. It's bad they say. Yeah, that's just a label, that could be used in a demagogic way, cos many people really have some stereotypes about this 'magic word', very often confused with communism in the mind of ordinary folks.
Sweden, one of the most progressive and reach modern democracies, is a socialistic state in the sense that very big well established corporations pay big taxes and have little lobbing influence on the Government. The same goes for Denmark, Norway Finland and some other nice and extremely reach democratic countries which did even not take any notice of the the world economic crisis thanks to their economic and social model (no problems with financial sector and banks cos they are very closely monitored and controlled by the state and... right public). On the other hand, state transparency and the civil control over the political decisions in Scandinavian 'socialistic' countries are stricter and arguably more effective than in the US, in this sense they are more democratic than the US democracy, cos people has a more state-of-the-art mechanisms of control over their Government. Some would say: "Ale right, but the US is a world economic powerhouse, not Sweden...". But if Sweden was the size of States in terms of population and territory, my bet is she would be even better an economic powerhouse than the US, let alone more peaceful one and less harmful in terms of breeding communism regimes (many authoritarian countries always used the US as a kind of capitalistic scarecrow, using in their turn too the capitalism-socialism demagogic myth to deceive their peoples and hold the power).
More to the point, Germany, France, Belgium, Canada, Australia etc and are not completely capitalistic either, though not so socialistic as Scandinavia. In fact there's no such thing as an absolute capitalism or absolute socialism, there's always some compromise. So neither of them is an absolute evil or good. The right question is: what kind of socialism or what kind of capitalism and how effectively is a concrete model going to work?
My personal opinion is that a little reasonable shift  towards socialism would only do the US good in the 21th century. No making Sweden out of the US but just a reasonable corrective rebalance of the US model - that's it. May be there was a time when big corporations (especially financial) in the US contributed to the jobs increase and possibly to the economy and needed some kind of lobbing power, but not any more. Now, on the contrary, huge financial corporations and banks need more control on the part of Government which, IMHO, has been amply proven by the recent crisis, its causes and consequences. Small and medium businesses is another question, they need more protection on the part of the Government, that is what is meant by the socialism in practice in the 21th century.
So no point in demonizing socialism as such. The main idea of this is that the right social conditions contributing to the maximum realization of the human potential in a society comes first before the driving economic force of businesses, but the idea of free market is nowadays not put in contrast with the social role of state. The free market and entrepreneurial freedoms have long stopped being some kind of fundamental values in the modern democratic world, and become rather a sort of scientific truths which are not disputed by anybody any more. When conservatives try to defend those things (trying to paint a terrifying picture of socialistic ideas) it looks to me like trying to prove that you must wash your hands after the work in the garden, or that one gotta pay respect to his mom. The socialists, in turn, just try to prove that realization of human social potential of a country through available and promoted education, health care etc is the primary goal of the state, not the protection of big oil companies or banks in our modern world. Don't neat together corporate interests with the state power: that's one of the major exhortations of socialistic pundits. But demagogues, using the ignorance of many people, try to use the term 'socialism' as a threat to the free market principles and  property rights. But not a single one so called socialistic country has any thing against free market conditions. On the contrary, in highly capitalistic societies the big well established business corporations arguably have unfair competitive advantage before small and new ones because they have the power to lobby the Government. So the extreme forms of capitalism can in fact not only promote democratic principles but detract from them (not in the sense of fairness of elections, maybe, but in a broader context of general public control over the actions of the Government, cos you have an intrinsic conflict of interest through the influence of business giants on the state). On the other hand in Sweden there is no such conflict, so the democracy in practice (between the elections) work more effectively than in many other more capitalistic countries. For example, it's very hard to imagine that, like in Canada, the Sweden Government would allow itself to buy some jets for $15bln from a foreign company without any tender and without any accountability whatsoever before the nation. The thing is not only that such Government would be put out of office immediately and anti-corruption investigation would be launched, but that the Government just would not be able to do this, cos mechanisms and traditions of  public control - democracy in practice, not only at the ballot box - are higher in this country than in the US, in my opinion. Large rate of higher eduction and the absence of conflict of interest in Government are two big contributing factors to this, resulting directly from Sweden being a highly socialistic country.
And last but not least: let us not be deluded about big corporations and their purported development thanks to low taxes and little intervention on the part of Government. Big profits very often provoke them invest even less. Just two more points about big corporations:
1. Many people like to refer to the necessity for tax reduction for project developments even for big corporation. There is some sense in this point, but in practice more often than not this argument is used in purely demagogic way: 'Reduce our taxes forever, cos we sometimes somewhere happen to develop some projects' - that's the main undercurrent of all those talks about 'poor rich monsters' lacking enough money for their new projects. There could be one thousand and one way to help with new projects without general tax reduction (for all for everywhere), using highly particularized TAX BREAKS. A corporation first proves that it really has a project to develop and then it proves beyond the reasonable doubt that it really develops this project (its not just on paper) and than it gets back some taxes.
But let us have any illusions: in reality those 'quasi-monopolistic' giants are not inclined to spend very much on new projects in times when profits are very high. The brilliant example is the oil giant Exxon Mobile, which stopped enlargement of its reserves as soon as the oil prices sky rocketed, see: http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/JubaksJournal/IsExxonMobilsFutureRunningDry.aspx
2. In times when tax regime is soft, big corporations, with their high lobbing power, do manage to pay practically much less than small and medium business which is pretty much helpless in the face of state regulations. The same Exxon Mobile in recent times have practically paid NOTHING at all, and that in the climate of super-duper record prices for oil and super-duper profits from it too: http://thinkprogress.org/2010/04/06/exxon-tax/
Interestingly enough, but even some financial billionaires like speculator like George Soros or Warren Buffet in the US now understand and recognize that in the 21th century there's no such thing as 'pure capitalism' in reality as state model and ideology, in the form it was pictured for a not very educated part of America by conservatives in the 20th century against the background of the Cold War (which in reality was a war against Russian totalitarian expansionism, but had always been presented by American conservative ideologists as a war of capitalism against communism).
Socialism can be an ideology for a state and nation, but not capitalism, which is not an ideology for state at all (beer is a good thing, but it's not an ideology to build a state upon). And now even billionaires like Soros understand this.
On the other hand. If Soros lived in socialistic Sweden, he could pursue his currency trading business all right.
In the developed democracies capitalism is about economic mechanisms - it is an economic reality, and socialism is about role and function of the state, which must help the interests of whole nation and be fundamentally separated from the direct financial lobbing influence of big corporation. "We the People of the United States..." is said in the first sentence of the US constitution, not "We the corporations or capitalists or financial institutions of the United States...".

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Yes, Bradley Manning and Assange deserve the Nobel prize possibly more than Obama does!

Yes, I do enjoy my breakfast much more after Wikileaks with the help of such conscientious guys like Bradley Manning (the dying breed) dealt a good blow to the western governments on the front of their irresponsible international policies. Politicians have many years avoided introduction of new mechanisms of responsibility for their international actions. Everything continued to be covered with the dark veil of 'state secrecy' which allowed them decide the questions of war and peace without ANY control of their constituency. The system has not been reformed though this question was overripe and we paid THOUSANDS of lives of young boys in uniform killed in Iraq and Afghan - two wars started by governments of democratic countries just at the snap of fingers without a bit of sanction on the part of peoples that elected them. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed in those countries where Western governments played at being God at the expense of money and LIVES of their taxpayers. Now they DARE give some cynical nonsense about the ' wikileaks putting in jeopardy lives'!!
So once there are no direct control over those games on the part of governments provided by the existing democratic systems, the Internet and good will of free global community came to the assistance.
I do think that the founder of the Wikileaks is more worthy of the Nobel Price than Obama (although I am a great fan of this president and persona). Western world (people) must know what their elected governments are up to, and if there is no other mechanisms for normal democratic control, then there's no other choice other than to resort to the 'Wikileaks surgery', last but necessary measure in the conditions and atmosphere of ABSOLUTE refusal of the governments to be at least a bit accountable in the realm on the external politics and policies.
I am not surprised  Assange is now being hunted by Interpol, and that suddenly some criminal accusations of rape "popped up" in Sweden. I don't believe it is a coincidence in time. Even the fact that he is accused of rape - a crime which would damage and denigrate his image and reputation in the eyes of the public - is quite fits in with logic of the behavior of the US government. His site was disrupted by cyberattacks the other day. Nothing surprising too. For me it proves almost 100% the following:
1) The governments of so called democracies are still feel themselves above the law and have the tools to be above the law and launch a hunt against every mere mortal individual in the world who makes them feel really uncomfortable regardless of whether this individual is right or wrong in legal terms.
2) They don't hesitate a second before launching a such major hunt. They are outside normal ethics or 'moral field' - all that can be uncomfortable for them is bad, and any any methods to dispose of 'the bad guy' are good because they are GOVERNMENT. That's all. They are intrinsically immoral and if they had no other option dispose of the opponent than by killing, thew would kill him (if they were sure that they do it really secretly without consequences).
In this sense we are still in 19th century. When it comes to confrontation between an individual and a government for the latter there's no such thing as MORAL.
3) This proves me for 120% that we need more more such Wikileaks, because nothing else can stop or restrain those immoral governments from doing bad things on the international stage than transparency and detailed info available to general public about what those governments are up to. Only only this could prevent 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc Afghan, Iraq etc War.

Those technocrats are now clucking about damage to Diplomatic Relations of the US. Poor State Dept, pity I don't have a hankie to wipe those pea-sized tears rolling down my cheeks. I am so sorry about the damage, but 1) it's hard imagine that those high officials found anything new about themselves and the true attitudes to each other - it would rather make sense to hide those things from the public eyes, cos they know about each other a lot 2) I, as a regular mortal citizen of a democratic country don't care a damn about the problems of the damage to the Diplomatic Agencies and their relations, I am much more concerned about the damage to myself and other people, including the damage inflicted by those Diplomatic agencies and their sweet interrelationship. For example, the US, when cooking the case for an invasion of Iraq, referred to 'data of the British intelligence', just one of many many examples of how those sweet diplomatic friendship can help start a war in which thousands of American boys and girls were killed. Huge orders for billions of dollars could be made by Governments - billions of dollars of taxpayers - to bye some military jets, and you can never check them or accuse them of corruption and kick-backs because... right! because those beautiful sweet diplomatic relationships sweetness of which is directly proportionate to the secrecy of the info about those deals for,.. the nation, true owner of the money!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Ghost of Chernobyl still hinders development of nuclear industry in the West?

On 26 April 1986 the Chernobyl nuclear apocalypse took place claiming lives of thousands of people as a result of direct and indirect radioactive poisoning.
Many public debates and research works ever since have been dedicated to this catastrophe in terms of true causes, the scale of health negative consequences and some other important aspects.
But what so far has been almost completely left outside the public debate is the colossal detrimental effect of this disaster on the normal development of nuclear power generation industry the world over. One may hear either the debate about the deadly result of the Chernobyl event or the discussion of whether going nuclear is acceptable to move away from burning fossil fuels, but never these two, seemingly different debates go together. However it could be extremely important to tackle in a straight and proper way the general post-traumatic syndrome that as likely as not has set back development of the Western nuclear power industry by decades. The problem is further exacerbated by the fact that the mainstream opposition against the nuclear solutions is 'covering' its case with all kind of ecological arguments, unwillingly masking heavy influence of the tectonic socio-psychological shifts resulting from the Chernobyl meltdown.
Only after oil price made itself quite comfortable around a new 'normal' level of $80-85 per bbl and the price of Russian gas surged beyond $400 per thousand cubic meters did the German Government tentatively decided to delay the permanent shut-down of one of its major nuclear power stations, and it's still unclear whether it will be able to take a step further towards building up its nuclear capacity. Would this wavering political behavior have been the case if it were not for this incredibly strong and equally as prejudiced public opposition against anything nuclear? Would the heart of European Economy as well as Europe on the whole have been critically dependent on the supplies of Russian gas in the first place if it had not been for these lost decades for the nuclear sector? From the Baltic to Bulgaria, governments in Eastern Europe are increasingly looking toward a revival of nuclear power generation to meet growing energy demand, looong after those new members of European family had been forced to mothball or permanently shutdown its nuclear facilities under the pressure from EU. Those decisions and instructions by EU were taken in a rather uncompromising and simplistic way without paying much consideration to the possibilities of modernization or replacement, or just installation of new safety and control system in place. The main factor, again, was FEAR, the horrible pictures invoked by the phantom of Chernobyl, not the reasonable caution. Now governments in Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia are renovating old nuclear plants or considering building new ones. Hardly surprising after a large chunk of Eastern Europe was literally frozen by Russia cutting off gas supplies almost for half a month in Jan 2009. Would all of it have happened if it had not been for the terrible memories of Chernobyl? How big is the damage in term of economy and technology that was caused by the nuclear lethargy?
In the US not a single reactor has been built fro 30 years since the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island. Some experts and publicists consider that this huge pause in the domestic development of the nuclear industry is a result of this very unpleasant though not fatal event at Three Mile Island plant, but there's little doubt that the fears created by that were multiplied manifold in the public mind after the Chernobyl catastrophe had taken place. Already frightened enough people just got an additional confirmation of their fears about nuclear generation, which got demonized ever after this in the mind of many. In the meantime developing Asia including China has little if any prejudices or fears about this source of power and is catching up at unbelievable speed with the West in terms of technology, alas. Yes, western traditional nuclear powers like France and US have continued to build new plants outside their borders, but in terms of technological development and competitiveness it was in part like jogging on the spot. Markets laws do play a role: on the one hand those external clients more often than not have been countries where nuclear technology has not been developed enough so that they were quite content with the existing level of proposed western designs (demand creates the supply), on the other hand with time western contractors helped quite a bit some countries get in the nuclear business and start its own technological development. For example, Westinghouse won a $5,3 billion contract in 2006 in China but the company paid a heavy price for this foray into the Chinese market because of a significant technology transfer. As a result, such countries like China and South Korea are turning from importers into exporters of nuclear technology and, consequently, into major competitors - competitors of our own making.
It is true, that the aforementioned existing circumstances - soaring price of oil and excessive dependence on foreign supplies - are slowly pushing the West towards a more rational and balanced attitude to nuclear generation, but this process is slow and bumpy, it well may be too little too late. Time sometimes heals, though slowly and often incompletely, but, perhaps, the energy sector would be now in a much better - qualitatively better shape, if the post-chernobyl syndrome had long before been addressed by the media, politicians and experts from various fields in a proper and timely fashion. The same goes for ecological and carbon emissions related achievements - the hot topic these days - which arguably are not possible for the present without building up the share of nuclear generation among other sources of energy.
Is it high time to recognize that it's the ghost of Chernobyl that has haunted the collective public mind for decades effectively preventing development of the nuclear energy sector, not ecology or the real safety issues? Isn't it time for intellectual elites in Western countries to recognize that the problem of nuclear stagnation must be primarily dealt with from a socio-psychological perspective, because the artificially induced social nuclearphobia has become one big restraining factor? That is not to say that ecological, safety and other aspects should not be addressed in a proper way, but it can be possible only after a large public debate is started in order to cure the nuclear hysteria which just prevents the public from rational and balanced consideration of all other sides, including multiple and unique advantages of applying nuclear technology and, what is more, developing it.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ireland gets bail-out, but will it help avoid bankrupcy in the end?

The problem of a heavy debt from the previous loans is solved by giving Ireland another loan - fine. But does it change anything fundamentally? If Ireland's come to be unable to pay the old debt, why should one think that it will be able to pay the new even bigger debt? More to the point, the artificial support of government bonds of Ireland will allow the country to continue to borrow money from banks. In the end it will be taxpayers of other European countries who will pay the bill, and banks will be the winners - to big to fail as ever. That's the European socialism of the 21th century. Germany produces, Ireland consumes and is called with the fabulous name 'Celtic tiger' for the indomitable pace of consumption. The problem at root is that Greece or Ireland just cannot fairly have the same leverage ratio as such developed economies like Germany, but in practice they have because they are considered equal members of the euroclub. So their bonds are considered something quite the same as debt papers of the Netherlands or Germany.

The Pope belatedly approves the use of condoms

The Pope used to complain much about so called relativism, but nothing will change with the "sexual impasse" of the Catholic Church until it relinquishes its own relativistic attitude to sex: sex without pregnancy is bad, with pregnancy good, life without kids is bad but if in monastery then good etc. In essence Catholics follow the ideology of 'lesser but inevitable evil'. But they just refuse to recognize it - its own relativism.
Even more serious consequence of this is the notorious unconditional celibacy of all priests - a huge problem which is now presenting existential threat to the Church itself through the killing of reputation by the day on account of sexual crimes by the clergy

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Is WES bribed by Russian Education Ministry?

Don't reward World Education Services (WES)!!
I was just appalled to see that the well-known credential assessment organization WES requires from Russians APOSTILLES from nothing less than Education Ministry of Russia!! Let alone this procedure in terms of time can consume months, this mere apostille from Russian Ministry will cost you more than TWICE the price of the FULL evaluation by WES, id est $500! If my guess is right there's very tight and warm friendship between WES and Russian top officials in Education Ministry.
Dear folks, don't reward CORRUPTION and don't overpay several times! In Canada go to ICAS, University of Toronto or other agencies to get your diplomas and other credentials confirmed! Don't condone dubious behavior!

Friday, November 19, 2010

War in Afghanistan

Now a majority of TV and radio programs dedicated to the topic of Afghan war try to discuss whether or not it makes sense to increase the number of troops there, whether or not it's worth to leave that country and what would be the best strategy to train Afghan army. Unfortunately the media is markedly falling behind the reality: the Afghan war has already been lost, and the exit in a 'cut-and-run' mode is inevitable. To transform Afghanistan into a country (which it is not), especially a stable one the world should have pumped into it not billions, not even trillions, but TENS of trillions of dollars, and now the humankind is still just not enough developed technologically and financially to create new countries from scratch. From the very first it was a game at the expense of taxpayers in monetary terms and at the expense of lives of the young boys in uniform who decide to join the army not based on rational knowledge and analysis but based on their blind trust and believe in the demagogy of politicians whom they mistakenly identify with their country.
The only practical question is how to minimize financial and human losses and - for politicians - how to leave in the most 'face-saving' way possible. How sharply to cut and how fast to run - that's the only headache of those who make decisions. That's all. Game over. Shedding tears about the actions of the US and its NATO allies is long irrelevant - it would have made sense not even yesterday, but the day before yesterday. But what really may be of some concern is rather ineffective tackling of this problem by the media, which continues to discuss the problems which must be left to historians to deal with.
What one would really like journalists, publicists and politics pundits to knock around in panel discussions is HOW to prevent the repetitions of the similar wars (including Iraqi one). How come that a whole bunch of so called developed democracies so easily and rashly involved themselves in such a preposterously catastrophic device? How could it be, that "mother of democracy" Britain just rushed headlong to wage a war against... Taliban after US declared its aim to catch... Osama?! For that matter, UK - parliamentarian democracy - plunged into Iraq war a couple of years latter only because it's PM for some absolutely unknown reasons individually decided to do so - how come?! With more than 80% British population against the war too! Is there really not a single tool or mechanism left even in the most advanced democracies to prevent them from the wildest most obvious and most dangerous war sprees?! Even when the most of the population of those democracies openly express their discontent and disagreement with the 'decision'? HOW COME - that's the first question. And what needs to be done to avoid throwing similar tantrums in the future is the second question. What Afghan and Iraqi campaigns brought to light is not the question of how we should transform those countries but the question of how we must transform our countries and political controls to avoid suchlike follies in future. Many publicists notice, and rightfully so, that the actions of the US and their many western allies were catastrophic for the countries invaded, but even more catastrophic they were for the those 'liberators'. Things that must not be possible in the 21th century for the western democratic world have happened to be quite possible, and that must sound the real alarm of the western media. That's where the main focus of the intellectual elites must be on, because if such absurdly uncontrollable and stupid things are possible we can only guess what comes next. It's a very big disappointment.
Emanuel Kant expected that democratic countries based on the concept of civil society are less inclined to wage wars, but, unfortunately his thesis so far has not been clearly and definitively proved in practice. Quite likely not because this German visionary was mistaken in his assumptions but because the real democracies are still very much underdeveloped. If the key decisions of war and piece beyond the country borders were taken only after a plebiscite British troops might have not ended up in Afghanistan or Iraq. All this dramatic happenings would have been even more unlikely if before such a plebiscite the people had been entitled to the full detailed information based on which such decisions were recommended, or, at the very least, parliamentarians had been given the pass to "the vaults of state secrecy".