The Privatising Industry in Europe


The Privatising Industry in Europe

An interesting read. Does privatisation work? What do the results say;

Is it enough for the state to get rid of enterprises? If they are profitable why do so and if they are not, why would someone buy them?

Personaly, I am for enterpreneurship, which in Greece has gotten to be a bad word because of “liberals” and “leftists”  alike, but I am not for impunity. The state must check through the institutions the application of the law and control basic infrastructure.  

For example, I all for private health sector, but without universal access to public health, it can only be a negative. If someone wants to pay for a suite let them do so, as long as the taxes pay for the ER and recovery rooms in public hospitals and not for the vacation houses or lavish home furniture of doctors.

The market is not self-regulated withouth the implementation of the law, and laws cannot be implemented without honest institutions.

Lost chances for growth and Greek Geo Data

ktimatologioThe Greek company responsible for the land registry, Ktimatologio S.A., has created an amazing toolbox for open geo data that cover Greece, using taxpayer money. The orthophotographs used are of better quality than those used in Google Maps and Microsoft Bing Maps.

However, in contast with the tools provided by Google and Microsoft, Greek companies or private citizens cannot use the Geo Data by Ktimatologio for commercial purposes. A real need that could offer added value to Greek IT products and in extention add to the growth to the economy, is not met.

Companies have to pay Google or Microsoft thousands or tens of thousands of Euros every year, to do their job. Nothing stays in Greece, not even the VAT, as those tools are invoiced outside Greece, in other European countries.

What is the obstacle that Ktimatologia S.A. has to overcome to open the… open Geo Data for commercial use? To start, since 2010, the slow moving Greek state, hadn’t approved the pricing list for the services and later, under law 4178 of 2013, an amendment by the Greek Open Source and Open Software society (EL/LAK) for the open use of Geo Data, left a gap in the law for commercial use.

What is needed, is a simple change to that amendment that will allow the use of open Geo Data for commercial purposes. During the discussion we had at the Pirate Party, we saw that there are two basic stands on this. One says that, anything created with money from the taxpayer, should be free for commercial use and the other, while it accepts the bases to that, says that it would prudent to have commecial use pay an amount to keep the quality of the services, whose maintenance is not cheap.

Right now, the Greek Pirate Party is in the process of proposing an amendemnt through discussion and a member vote.

Moving money and the ECB error

EuroChangingHandsI am one of those people who believe money is simply a useful tool and it must be in circulation for the economy to be healthy. Since money isn’t moving, but just accumulated, there is no healthy economy.

Some might jump the wagon and say that money is not really accumulated, but it is used in investments, that in essence keeps the money circulating.

Theoretically that is exactly what should be happening.

It isn’t. Not even close to a percentage where a healthy economy can be created. What is really happening is that we have money being pulled out of the real economy and used for gambling that has no effect other than keeping the economic and political elite in charge.

It is time to distinguish between what we think the correct implementation of our views will create and what really happens from their erroneous one. It isn’t that we are not feeding the system enough. It is that we are feeding the wrong system.

One more wrong move, is the creation of 1 trillion euros of new money that, instead of going to the citizens of Europe, will fund the banking sector in its gambling game once more.

Is there anyone who believes there will be an average gain of 5000 euro per European Citizen from this new money (the amount divided by the population)?

Is there anyone who believes there will be a gain of even 500 euros per European Citizen from this new money?

If we don’t believe the gain will be dispensed, then why create new money? To increase the deposits of a few people in  Swiss banks, or the international Funds? Because this is what will happen if this new money goes to the same people that created the crises in the first place.

What do I think will happen? A few will increase their fortunes by hundreds of thousands of euros, and we will be lucky if we get a few euros as tips…

What do I propose? A part of the money, if not all, should go directly to the European citizen. Let him decide how to use it. Let’s dare try something “new”.

Formulating policies vs populism.

laikismosFormulation of policies, when passed through a citizens’ “popularity” filter, is a form of populism. What is populism? It is telling citizens exactly what they want to hear, despite what you believe is right for the society as a whole. Some times, your position can be inline with what the majority wants, sometimes not. Your position however cannot take that into account as a criteria for formulating it.

To give you an example of what I mean, I will use a proposal for a policy given by a member of a political party recently. That position was for the creation of private prisons so that we relieve congestion in “public” prisons. I won’t judge the proposal itself. I will judge the procedure for formulating it as a party opinion. This proposal, whether it is right or wrong (I am not a member of that political party), should first be judged by the members as compatible or not with its ideology and then be presented as a solution to the citizens, so they can decide if they want it or not.

Due to the systems’ inability to reward specific policies, but rather popularity of a party, they chose to bring this position directly to the citizens, to see if it is popular enough to be included in their policies! The party itself doesn’t seem to believe in anything, even before listening to it!

In a Democracy, everyone is responsible for their choices. From politicians to citizens.  Even those who choose to abstain have part of the responsibility. When this responsibility is given only to citizens, what will happen is chaos by unmatched and contradictory positions. Politics cannot work in favour of the society this way. Politics must first document its views and then give the citizens the right to choose.

The question “Do we want private prisons or not” is invalid by itself. What are the pros and cons of such a policy? Why was it chosen? What do we know of existing paradigms? What will be the benefit? Financial? Social?

It is a pity that political parties that claim they want to change politics, to do so by replacing it with populism.

Copy Culture in the US and Germany

Copy Culture in the US and Germany is a comparative study of digital culture, focusing on media consumption, media acquisition, and attitudes toward copyright enforcement. The study is based on a large-scale phone survey of Americans and Germans in late 2011.

Read/download the full report here.

Get a PDF of the US infographic or the German infographic.

Some core US findings:

And some German ones:

Pirates: The “stupidity” of imagination…


NASA concept for a space bending, faster than light speed, space craft.

A few months ago, the Prime Minister of Greece while addressing the youth of his political party, said that their dreams should be “grounded”. Yesterday, during a conversation with people saying they were liberals (they weren’t, trust me), I heard that Imagination is stupidity. Only reality matters.

There is nothing more dangerous than smothering peoples’ dreams. It is the essence of conservatism. Not some right or left, or center ideology. Conservatism is smothering the imagination.

The best example of imagination I can think of, comes from the arts; the “stupid” imagination of Star Trek and its creator, Gene Roddenberry, that predicted and/or inspired at the same time half a century of advancements in technology and social behaviour. This “stupid” imagination predicted or described from theory to practice the use of cell phones, voice computer interfaces, multipurpose devices, holograms, 3D printers and a number of other technological advancements that are part of everyday life or are in the final stages of development.

At the same time, this “stupid” imagination talks about a world that everybody shares in the discoveries and inventions, the progress of medicine and other sciences, where labour is not for survival, but for personal and collective improvement. This part is easy to be ridiculed by those who suffer from political obsessions. Those who live 100 years behind the times are the conservatives. They talk about laziness and thieves and give other colorful descriptions of such a society.

Lets see if we have a choice.

There is a term in the sciences that is called Technological Singularity.  It is the point in time when computers will be able to do more than man cans. Their intelligence will be so advanced that the future becomes unpredictable. There will be rapid developments concerning mankind. Supposedly, all our problems will be solved. It is very likely that, provided we don’t kill ourselves, it will happen at some point. Personally I don’t believe we will see it in our lifetime, or in the next 100 years, but it will come.

What is already happening though, is the reduction of manual labour with the improvements in automation and robotics. What does that mean? That over time a diminishing number of jobs will be available for non specialized workers and that less and less people will be able to buy what is produced by automated production. Something has to change.

Conservatives I have met, say that everyone is responsible for creating their own opportunities. To a point they are right. However, creation of opportunities require a high level of education and the basic means for survival that are not found everywhere. If those are not provided equally to everyone, but have to be provided by the family, in essence we join a vicious circle where the poor have less chances while the rich have every chance. Economically (if economy is just about money) that might be acceptable, but socially it cannot be. The economy is not just about money. It is about resources and one of the most important resource is man itself. Is it economy to waste such a resource? Or is it economy to invest in it?

How do we invest?

Do we invest by making it hard for people to have access to education? Do we invest by not allowing them to participate in society because for one or another reason “they were not lucky”? What happens when those “unlucky” people are so many, that survival is impossible? Will the lucky ones close themselves up in gated communities and be guarded by whom? By those who, when their shift is over go back outside, with the “unlucky” ones?

Or are there two simple ways we can invest? First, by giving everyone the means to live without having to struggle every minute for it, and secondly, by giving everyone access to education. Certainly not everyone has the ability to move a science forward, but giving the opportunity will reveal more people that can than would if you didn’t.

For me, the Pirate culture is the way to that new society. We share knowledge, we want equal opportunities and social justice and we are not spent on foolish left or right political obsessions. Investment is not our enemy, as money is not an end in itself . We don’t want knowledge to be limited in its dispersal by idiotic patents, nor do we want to spent enormous amounts of money on bureaucracy, money that can be used to improve our lives.

Collaboration is always the best way than sterile competition. We want noble emulation instead of antagonism with printed pieces of paper as a trophy.  It is time to move on to something new. No economic system, from capitalism to communism has that potential and almost no political movement can escape past obsessions, minus the Pirates. We want to be copied.

TTIP. What don’t you get?

targetThese last few days, I had an interesting conversation regarding TTIP with various anonymous users on the net. It became obvious how different we, Pirates, view basic things. Where I see culture and choice, the other sees money and property. Where I see people and learning opportunities, the other sees work hours and profit.  I don’t say this to diminish someone, infact those people see nothing wrong with that. Of course they want profit and property. I don’t think there is something wrong with wanting profit and property, as long as it is accompanied by culture, choice, education and humanitarianism…

For us, Pirates, excluding the purpose of creativity, of culture, of knowledge just for profit and property is a mistake. And what is that purpose? The improvement of our civilization. Our own improvement as individuals and as a collective.

Some will read these and assign a label. From “neoliberal” if they focus on property and profit, “leftist” if they focus on our improvement as individuals or even “communist” if they focus on the collective. No matter though.

For some weird reason, someone thinks that the rules a state sets on what a company can do or cannot do should be a  matter for the courts. That laws are beaurocracy! While for some equally weird reason, courts are not bureaucratic! So, instead of controlling one thing, every citizen will have the responsibility of going to court, paying lawyers to find justice, simply because a company decided to present as “natural juice” something artificial! He misses the point that the law defines what can be labeled natural, and that is the end of that. You don’t need the citizens doing what the law should do.

The basic problem with TTIP is that it views such regulations as an “obstacle” to free trade. In fact, the politicians that want TTIP to pass as it is are telling us it is not the case. State regulations are not in danger of being put aside. Experience with ISDS, however, has showed us the opposite is true and in fact the reaction of people as the previous I referred to, confirms what will happen if it passes as is.

Even their views about patents is completely in line with what we wish to avoid; patents being used as a bureaucratic weapon to fight startups, instead of being a force for innovation as they should be if we can improve them. Now, instead of that we are faced with an even  worse system of patents.

To be fair,  TTIP has its good points. Removing tariffs is one. The potential for new jobs and the small increase in GDP are also a plus. However, those are not enough to justify the inclusion of ISDS. The only thing that would justify it would be the attack of corporations against the  rights of citizens, giving them the ability to sue states for “imaginary profits”.

State of corruption.


Greece now has a little less than 1,5 million unemployed. Most of them are now long term unemployed and only a small percentage are seasonal workers. All around Europe, unemployement is on the rise, especialy youth unemployment. Why is this happening?

Although this country is a special case, the trend seems to be the same all around the world. The reduction in available jobs. I believe that no “investment” can change that in the long term. I also believe that the crisis terminated jobs that where not needed. We are no short of products. It is just money that is not spread around enough.

I am no  economist, but when I listen to “liberals” saying that “large corporations create jobs” and at the same time read that the new way of counting their performance , or “score” as I like to call it, is the ratio of profit per employee, I get that something is seriously wrong. One, cannot coinside with the other. Either they create jobs, or they reduce them in comparison to their financial size. From what I read, I believe it is the second.

Our production, our planetary gross product is at an all time high. Yet it is not divided according to job, productivity or needs. The rules of the game are fixed so as the rich are becoming richer by taking advantage of their position of power and are constantly fortifying their position using their financial influence on politicians.

Believe me, I personally have no serious financial problem. I don’t care to become rich, or have the rich become poor. I only care about justice. Social, financial and political justice. It is exploitation, I don’t like.  Profit has become  a goal in itself. The state of corruption the world is in is accepted as natural by the “liberals” while the “left” is spitting out the same cliches as if we are living in the mid 19nth century. As if the industrial and technological revolution didn’t happen!

We are in the age of information, yet we refuse to learn from it. We think we know everything already. One side believes that liberalism is synonymous with Marx’s capitalism or the enemy of the Soviet era, and the other side thinks that social and financial justice is “leftist”, “communist” or at best “socialist”!

We are in the age of science, yet fanaticism and hate  is on the rise in Europe, I believe due to the fear of poverty.

I don’t like stating an opinion based on prejudice, if I don’t know something. I study both sides (or more if there are)  for every subject. I search for evidence or at least serious indications before I state an opinion

My opinion is that we cannot depend on economies of scale to create jobs. Just the opposite. We should rely on local economies. Anything else, in combination with the progress of technology will just keep reducing available jobs. In conclusion, if we want scale, we must find a new dividend model as paid work will no longer be available for all of us to survive like Basic Income, or Negative Income Tax.

[1] The new metrics of corporate performance: Profit per employee
[2] Revenue Per Employee (definition)
[3] Apple has biggest slice of profits per employee


#TTIP. Not too late…

Stop-TTIPTTIP is the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Its purpose is to lift the barriers for further trade development between the European Union and the United States of America.

Although I agree with the basic principle there are some problems:

  1. It is negotiated behind closed doors.
  2. There is little official information so we rely on leaked documents.
  3. European MEPs that will be called to vote on it have no information on it and no influence.
  4. The benefits described are with the most optimistic scenarios and numbers.

But lets see the advantages they tell us about:

One of its main advantages is the 0.5% growth of GDP of the European Union (under the optimistic scenario). But if one looks carefully will notice that it refers to a period of 10 years from the implementation of the agreement! This means less than 0.05% on average, per year! For such a great agreement as they say it is, this “optimistic” scenario seems too little!

Another advantage is that they believe 400,000 will be created in the next 10 years in the European Union and few more in the U.S.. Again a very small number specifically for the optimistic scenario. Taking into account that the corresponding agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, NAFTA has cost the U.S. around 700,000 jobs instead of the 200,000 promised, we understand that nothing is certain. Taking into account the labor costs of the EU, I believe one of two will probably happen. Either the wages will fall dramatically in EU and labor rights will be f to create these positions or thousands of jobs will be lost, transferred to a cheaper America. Both naturally mean less growth and nothing else.

How did the calculate these advantages? Only by removing tariffs? I don’t disagree that removing tariffs will lowerthe cost of products that we export and import. But no; these advantages are derived from removing other “obstacles” such as differences in regulations between the two.

Some currently applicable laws distinguish between European and non-European companies in Europe and U.S. and non U.S. companies in U.S.. And here comes the ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement). Supposedly this piece of international legislation allows companies to solve their disputes through an independent international court in case of  discrimination by the states that have signed it.

The truth however is a little different and a lot more dangerous, despite the fact that the mediators are trying to convince us it is not. ISDS allows companies to sue states on lost future profits from regulations. For example, Philip Morris sued the government of Australia (that has signed the TPP – ISDS) when it passed a law for the appearance of cigarette packages, aiming to protecting the public health. That regulation was for all companies, not just for foreign ones. Despite that, a lawsuit was filed on the grounds of lost future profits because of the difficulty to recognize the brand name of Philip Morris on the new packages! The regulation was passed as a law, but Australia is now in a litigation for imagined profits!

So, what is the usefulness of ISDS here? Just to blackmail governments into changing or not passing laws they have a right to, for the protection of their citizens. In essence, investors and money is above the rights of citizens and their governments! Unacceptable.

So as no one says there is no solution here, a simple agreement not to pass laws that discriminate between domestic and non domestic companies would suffice and would be accepted by all. However, the ISDS wont.

From leaked documents we also know that  there is also an anti-localization agenda in TTIP giving more rights and unequal opportunities to companies that can operate in larger scale.

You can read more from the group in the European Parliament that the Pirates belong to: 30 Reasons why Greens oppose TTIP

It is unacceptable that the TTIP process continues this way. All documents exchanged should be public so we and are delegates in the parliament know what is really going on.

The first thing we ask is for transparency and not some general assurances by the commissioner,  Karel De Guht while he smiles and scorns those who look at his work with scepticism.