Once again the world is watching what is occurring in Iraq with shock, awe, and horror. As a public service, we have compiled the following links as a primer for those curious to know what is going on and why from those more knowledgeable than ourselves:
We’ve had our first taste of autumn here in the Pacific Northwest. We found ourselves strangely welcoming the overcast sky and constant humidity. It is the type of weather that is pleasant for a month or two. Unfortunately, we get about 8 months of it here which requires some sort of escape to the sun, either Hawaii or California, for it to remain tolerable.
But still, the first taste was sweet and provided a warm feeling that all was well with the world, despite constant reports to the contrary. Fortunately for us, the sun looks as though it will return this week.
On the whitewashed shores of Greece, where the sun seems to perpetually shine, there is now intense pressure from which there seems to be no escape. The Prime Minister was called back from a trip to the US after receiving an emergency call from the Finance Minister as he stopped over in London. The poor chap had to be on a conference call with creditors and the troika and didn’t want to take the lashing alone.
As if to give the world a taste of things to come, the Greek Government passed an emergency property tax which is to be collected via the citizens’ electricity bill to help ensure compliance. Apparently the folks at the electric company are not happy about adding tax collection to their duties and are pushing back on the order.
The Greeks never have been good at collecting taxes, either that or their citizens are especially adept at avoiding paying them. Either way, the combination makes for low tax revenues which makes servicing public debt, well, difficult.
We offer a suggestion to the Greeks, privatize the electric company and then enact an enormous tax on consumption. At least then the riots would be staged at the electric company and not at parliament.
Meanwhile, before departing for New York in perhaps the least understood yet most important peace-keeping mission the US will ever embark upon, President Obama gave yet another clinic on teleprompter reading during his speech on, what else, government finances. His proposal was to save $1.5 Trillion over the next 10 years by in large part by ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We do not have any statistics, but we are willing to bet that this is not the first time that ending these wars has been proposed as a deficit reduction measure. What is truly astonishing to almost every thinking person is that these two military adventures have continued for so long and have become such a drain on the public treasury that ending them now would save $1 Trillion.
Less war, more money, what a novel idea! It is as straightforward as it is unlikely to happen.
We sense that both this speech and bath time for Greek creditors will be interrupted by the Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN this week. The Middle East has not seen a moment like this since Israel vied for statehood in 1949. Let us pray that this moment passes in a peaceful manner.