Klaus Hnilica
Tuesday June 19th, 2018

Advantages of Integration and Progressive Digitalization

Ever since a new British study has found out that the progressive digitalization also offers massive advantages and totally new perspectives in this field, there is a new urgency to the question: To what extent vampires can actually be integrated?

Mind you, it was not the old and ancient protagonists who initiated this revolution. It is yet again the often so scolded youth who make the decisive steps towards this ’young future that cuts the edges’: they are the ones who not only talk about digitalization, which is what any second-class provincial politician does these days, but who also actually live digitalization!

Yes, it is the ’generation smart-phone’ who, in the 21st century and totally surprisingly and unplanned, restore a tiny bit of freedom to the vampires by letting them return to free biting!

After all – and you want to be honest about this – there is nothing more suitable for the direct and unhindered bite of a vampire than the naked and exposed little neck of a fifteen-year-old female smart-phone user who is fascinated by what she sees on her screen. And I mean all the time: on the street, in the train, on her bike, on the toilet and while doing her homework.

There is definitely nothing, absolutely nothing more suitable!

And this suitability for quick access is, naturally, not only true for the aforementioned fifteen-year-old girl, but also for all smart-phone users, regardless of their age and the colour of their skin: when they act as mentioned above, all these persons remain in the exact same position, with exactly identical ’bite invitations to their jugular’ in front of their device. In fact, the author of the British study I mentioned before even assumes that the inventor of the smart-phone must have had or have a ’vampire background’. This assumption becomes even more of a probability since all the smart-phone users are so fixated on their devices that they not only fail to notice the quick bite into their jugular, but also never even realize how they have been sucked out afterwards!

They are actually so immersed in their smart-phone world that they are not available for any other observation: the first time they actually often start yelling and getting aggressive is when – due to some unfortunate mistake – blood drips on their screens, because that is when they start soiling their own screens as they wipe around with their own blood on their fingers!

This is one of the reasons why leading vampires in business and politics started several years ago to vehemently demand from companies such as Apply, Samsung and Nokia to come up with the ’blood-absorbing screen’ at long last! After all, such a modification is absolutely necessary unless you want to carelessly miss this unique opportunity of integrating vampires into society: and I mean all vampires! This includes the less dexterous ones – those who, when they bite, sometimes cause a drop or two to fall where it should not!

It goes without saying that the sector data security, too, needs massive modifications: it happens quite frequently that smart-phone users take pictures of vampires while they feed on blood and then immediately send the pictures to the smart-phones of those who have been bitten!

This is often the moment when those who have been bitten actually realize that they are currently donating blood – and since they see it on their smart-phones, they also believe it. Their reaction is that they often start hectic defence movements – which might then again cause unnecessary extra blood loss.

Consequently, what we need immediately is legislative initiatives with a ’filming ban on blood feeds’. And these initiatives cannot be national solos but have to be coordinated on EU and UNO level. Basically, this should not be too much of a problem if all parties concerned mean the same blood and refrain from overeager bloody comments.
Another problem is probably far harder to solve.

What I mean is the bite into the ’wrinkled neck of an older person’ – which, as the aforementioned British study shows, is something some of the vampires also favour.

Luckily, these few ’connoisseurs’ will also find enough older smart-phone users today – even if their enthusiasm and stamina are nowhere near what we have with the young generation. That is something that does not really make quick bites easier!

But when all is said and done, this is not the central problem! The real problem is that, even if the bite on the ’far-from-fresh wrinkled neck’ is a success, the blood you get there tastes like a wine-soda mixture that contains one eighth of Riesling and one litre of soda water!
Which is nothing. Well, it is less than nothing!

That is because today practically all older people get huge amounts of expensive blood thinners from all their doctors and health insurances: this is certainly a good thing for the pharmaceutical industry and for the blood-thinned elderly people – but for vampires, it is a pure nightmare!

And I am not just talking the taste, but also the amount you need: due to this practice, vampires are not only forced to swallow immense amounts of blood, but also to visit the toilet all the time in order to get rid of all the water. This will quite often cause individual blockage situations at public toilets! Humans who suffer from weak bladders are those who will suffer most in the end!

Taking all these aspects into consideration, it can be said that much remains to be done before vampires enjoy the same paradise-like state of affairs in Germany that, according to our Federal Chancellor, the rest of the citizens can boast of!

But if the problems that still need to be solved are at long last tackled by politics without prejudices and without further loss of precious time, and if the entire society refuses to have a rising blood pressure because of all these concepts, then the integration advantages offering themselves through more digitalization – as shown by the British study – will soon be realized. Especially if measures are taken to make sure that blood will always remain thicker than any wine-soda mixture, because otherwise the elderly people will cause unacceptably long blood trails in their wake after each vampire bite. And said blood trails will then again cause massive data security problems, which certainly nobody can want; after all, we all know that there is nothing vampires want more than a chance to, at long last, have their blood feed undisturbed and in peace.

That is really all they want!

K.H.
(Translated by EG)

Hans Bonfigt
Wednesday June 6th, 2018

Digital, bekloppt, banal

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

You know, even as a child, I rather liked Rumplestiltskin! It was such an exciting thing to listen how the fairy was dancing in front of the fire in the dark wood – and how it sang “Lucky me that no one knows that my name is Rumplestiltskin”. In fact, it was so exciting that I really cannot find words to describe it…

Yes, and then, a few sentences later, when the fairy self-exploded in front of the princess later in the story – that was just great! What a consistency and courage – to just self-explode! I never forgot this impressive image!

But here comes the moment of truth! This unappetizing “Rumplestiltskin Affair”. I am sure you, too read about it in the media: it is about an affair between the European upper nobility and a German Mr. Müller!

The kings and the Müllers are said to have behaved quite evilly and a lot of money was allegedly involved!

European money – of course!

To be precise, said Müller – i.e. a certain ’Soy-Bean Müller’ – who has the world leader soy bean mail-order house in his backhand, is said to have tried to make gold out of straw together with an extremely respectable European dynasty!

Mind you, this was regardless of the fact that he, Müller, does not even own straw. He only owns ’soy bean cake’. That is basically just the waste from soy flour production – but no straw!

However, for straw, the European Commission would have granted considerable subsidies from its agrarian fond. But not for cake, i.e. ’soy cake’!

Naturally, this was not good news for the soy flour mail-order house and its stock. In fact, it was actually a catastrophe. After all, stock, too, is just human, i.e. there are persons hidden behind the stock.

Persons with all their strengths and weaknesses. Just like with Müller’s small daughter Annegret who had always had a certain weakness for everything that smelled of royalty.

That is especially true for last year’s ’Vienna Opera Ball’, where she danced left-waltz with an extremely sweet young king. Left-waltz until she was dizzy and sank into the blue-blooded arms of the young king.

Due to the low stock-exchange rate, those same arms need much persuasion before they led her to the marriage altar. It did not come as a surprise that not only the love of these two doves immediately grew, but also the stock exchange rate of the ’soy flour mail-order house’. Did they grow, or what?

Consequently, it took only a few days until this activity caused a grumbling in the world of the financially potent oligarchs and a so-called ’Rumplestiltzkin ’ appeared. Nobody knew who it was and where it came from and what its name really was.

But being an industrious person, said ’Rumplestiltzkin’ had no problem getting the delegates of Romania, Bulgaria and of the newly wed kingdom to vote in her favour at the European Commission. Consequently, a majority supported the concept that ’soy-cakes’ are to be declared straw in the future and thus they are gold-coated with EU money!

It is unbelievable what Rumplestiltzkin can do and it is certainly a good thing that nobody knows its real name…

The news that the Austrian rum producer ’Straw’, too, allegedly was part of the deal in that he is said to have delivered a considerable amount of 85% ’Straw-Rum’ to the president of the European Council Junker and thus also acted in the role of Rumplestiltzkin is only one of those fake news from Russia. After all, we all know that Russia constantly aims at destabilizing the European Union!

Which, under Putin, does not come as a surprise to anybody!

The same applies to the news that the newly married ’soy flour queen’ was now allegedly impregnated by this suddenly appearing Rumplestiltzkin – rather than by the European High Nobility?

What additional shameless defamation! Those lousy Russian hackers were not even kind enough to give credit to her handsome Pilates coach in their disinformation campaign against the young queen. It is truly something that could give you offspring!

Which is exactly what happened.

But this evil pregnancy defamation is at least a good explanation for Rumplestiltzkin by all means wanting to get hold of the new-born child of the young queen, isn’t it? Of course, it is because it does not want a paternity test, and it was not at all eager to pay alimony for an entire Rumplestiltzkin life on top of having acted extremely beneficial. This is absolutely clear!

The queen was in a similar situation: she wanted to keep her new-born child without proof of paternity. And she did not hesitate to rub Rumplestiltzkin’s nose into what she wanted via twitter, along with 10 million followers!

Maybe she should not have done that. Being nobility and all! Twittering all the time! Because the Russian secret service read it all and then threatened the allegedly Russian Rumplestiltzkin with filing suit before the European Court of Law for prince robbery …

What is not really believable – and for me personally, this is rather a disappointment – is that this unknown Rumplestiltzkin is said to have angrily self-exploded afterwards. Just like the one in the fairy tale!

And they say it happened right before the blue eyes of the soy-floury queen who did not want to let go of her child. Isn’t it awful? Just self-exploding and ending up in two parts. From top to bottom. Atrocious!

After all, today, after 300 years of cultural evolution, you can do the job far more elegantly by tying an explosive from the internet to your belt!
Such a method would also have been far more media-friendly!

And we all would have certainly been able to download the atrocious event in no time through our smartphones from some video supervision camera or other immediately after Rumplestiltzkin’s self-explosion. In other words: we would all have been there – in fact, all Europe would have been there!

Thee usual stereotypical condemnation of the deed by all the politicians, too, would have been noticed by far more citizens – than this silent, ego-maniac ’Rumplestiltzkin self-exploding’!

Even the IS did not find it worthy of claiming responsibility!

It really is a pity! What a pity that Rumplestiltzkin failed so miserably! Everybody would have benefited from a proper explosion? I mean You, You and You! All of Us! Europe would have been truly united by such an explosion! At long last, what belongs together would have come together. What a pity …

KH
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Friday October 6th, 2017

Catalonia

My Dream of EUROPE

La senyera – The Catalonian Flag.

Currently, everybody talks about Catalonia. So I will also add my “five cent”:

I would be quite glad if Catalonia were to secede from Spain. It would not do any harm to Europe, either. On the contrary.

And Catalonia would not be able to escape the EURO, either. Consequently, we would also have to permit them to remain in the EU and ignore a possible veto from Spain if Catalonia applies for EU membership. After all, they already were members, which means that it is not a new membership.

Maybe the remainder of Spain wants to continue with the monarchy as established by Franco and apply for leaving the EU? However, I would not recommend it to them. They definitely should refrain from re-erecting Franco monuments and leave fascism well alone.

We might need a few additional stars – just like we need more of them in the skies?

But this is not about Catalonia. For me, it is all about a vision for Europe that would probably contribute a little towards solving a few of the current problems.

What we need is a EUROPE that is a close-knit federation of regions (i.e. regional countries or states). These regions should have more or less the same size and thus be able to cooperate at eye-level. My assumption is: the smaller the states, the more of them we have and the closer they are connected, the better!

To be sure, to make it a success, a few requirements that are hard to meet would need to be fulfilled:

  1. A federation of European regions would have to serve the people – and not the entrepreneurs, concerns and speculators.    
For me, that is a central requirement. Consequently, free markets at any price, the mindless abolition of borders do not have priority. Limitless growth, maximum consumption for all and unlimited riches cannot be the ultimate goal of a new “federation of values Europe”.  Just like a misinterpreted freedom without duties is not a value.
  2. Europe cannot be allowed to become an end in itself.    
Europe must not aim at becoming a superpower and have an internationally leading role, perhaps even be some kind of new world police. Because that is not what we need and besides, a Europe that develops sustainably will have an important role worldwide with huge influence anyway, even without nuclear weapons and carriers.
  3. Solidarity is not something that is achieved through subsidies.    
Solidarity between regions and humans cannot be achieved by handing out cheques. In particular, it cannot be achieved exclusively by handing out cheques. The subsidies for farming in the old EU are a good example. They destroyed exactly what they (perhaps) wanted to preserve.
  4. The national states must go.    
That is true for all of them, especially the big ones like Germany, France, Italy, Spain … (and also Great Britain, which, as of now, is still part of it). Because we no longer need all this nationally dominated lamenting – we could actually leave it, for instance, to soccer.

For me, the points 1 and 4 are the most important.

Ad 1.)  What is so bad about a county protecting its local markets and characteristics in a reasonable way? What is so bad about more control if crime increases? As I see it, you need some kind of border control when you have reached a certain dimension. And if that is so, then I prefer a systematic and controlled way of doing it, rather than  the haphazard way we see today.
In a living and responsibly functioning Europe, there can be no room for lobbyism and the currently existing oligarchy of interest groups they call parties.
This may sound unimaginable, because you need to re-define democracy and probably you will also need a more direct democracy. But we are entitled to some utopian ideas!
Because we have the right (and the obligation) to preserve the European cultures in all their diversity and to also preserve a heterogeneous Europe. This must be explicitly desired in a Europe of regions. It must be discussed together and supported by ample means. Otherwise, Europe will never really materialize.
And it must happen in the interest of all people – except the speculators and some super rich individuals or super powerful systems. Especially if they are de-personalized and have become independent.

Ad 4.)  
How nice would it be to have a Europe of smallish regions. The reasons why it would be nice are mostly rational. Basically, small and self-organised systems always work better than big ones, especially if those big ones are also controlled and administered externally. Flat hierarchies make a realistic form of subsidiarity easier. Politically spoken, we would only have two, rather than – as today – three hierarchical levels in the “upper echelons”.
In this model, the EU would be the top level and the international presence of all regions. It is controlled by the council of the regions, all of which can have their own autonomous structures. The nationally infected level in between, for instance Berlin, Paris, Rome – or, in this case, Madrid – would be gone for good.
You would also no longer need a veto right for individual states (no matter if we are talking a few 100,000 people or 80 million). It would be replaced by a qualified majority in the council of regions.
Whenever a region falters or behaves totally irrational, which is something that can always happen, it would be easier to heal than today. Just remember how impossible it is to influence a country like Poland. In a system at eye-level, it would also be easier and more direct to practice solidarity than it can be done with the current EU sprinkling system.
In other words, the EU would have to consist of “states” none of which can be bigger than, for example, Bavaria. But perhaps even Bavaria is too big to be just one EU region? Even here, a reasonable division is quite feasible, and thus at least a good solution would be possible.
So we have to divide the national states. It would be easy for the FR of Germany, because we already have a rather reasonable county structure. You could just take it (and perhaps improve it as suggested in the last paragraph). I would leave small states like Bremen or Hamburg. If currently Estonia qualifies for EU membership, why should not the two proud German Hanseatic Cities be a region each – just like Estonia would be a region?

If we wish to heal EUROPE, then we may and must definitely have and strive towards these kinds of utopian ideas! Otherwise it will never become true! And then comes the big hangover!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
Here is a positive idea about the so detrimental shared currency:    
I basically believe that the best solution would be to have different currencies according to the “maturity/state” of a region (I will call them EURO1, EURO2 and EUROn). But that is a very complicated topic. I would rather not discuss it here.
However, here is a positive idea if you have only one EURO: It is quite possible that one EURO for all regions– regardless of many disadvantages – could also have a huge advantage. One EURO for all of them would be something like the iron ring that holds them all together. And thus it makes it impossible to exit and helps when it comes to overcoming future regional crises. But then, that would again need another utopia to become reality – a currency policy of the EZB that differs from the one currently witnessed under “Super-Mario“ Draghi.

Hans Bonfigt
Friday September 22nd, 2017

Krampfhennenreport #1: VerbraucherschützerInnen

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Wednesday July 26th, 2017

Shouldn’t Business Serve Humans?!

In Unterhaching, we have a great soccer club, a number of IT enterprises such as the InterFace AG and even world-famous companies. One of them is Wrigley.

Let me relate to you what I learned over the last few weeks. I did not make any attempts at verifying the story, but it is quite possible that things I heard in the form of reports or gossip around here are the truth.

I am sure the degree to which Unterhaching has become considerably more famous even beyond Germany is due to the Spielvereinigung Unterhaching.

Besides soccer, we also have volleyball, gymnastics and several other successful athletic areas in Unterhaching – as well as several more interesting enterprises and a wonderful outdoor swimming pool and much more.

The Unterhaching Civic Office is certainly glad that the famous Wrigley enterprise has its European headquarters here. And perhaps in the future, you will have to say “had”.


The big concerns want power. To this end, they like to swallow up other concerns.


It is quite possible that, with its profit of 35 billion US dollars in 2016, Mars falls a little behind Nestlé (turnover in 2015 was 88.8 billion). That is just more motivation for Mars to catch up with the big rival.

Currently, they are preparing for the merging of the animal hospital chain VCA Inc. (Veterinary Centres of America). Mars wants to spend 9.1 billion US dollars, including the debt. It is supposed to further strengthen the business area “animal health”. To me, it looks more like mania and misdirected late capitalism. I can imagine only too well (or rather, too badly) what the leading US food giant wants to achieve by the merging.


Food producer invests in animal hospital. Shame to him who evil thinks.


Wrigley was swallowed by Mars as early as 2008. Initially the European headquarters remained in Unterhaching. Another important Mars location is obviously in Viersen near Düsseldorf.

Now, Mars wants to centralize a few of its activities in London. One of the consequences will be that people now living in Unterhaching or Viersen will have to move to London. This might hurt some residents of Unterhaching, for others it will be an exciting challenge.

But then, this is what you get in a global world and economy. After all, most of the people seem to like it, since they support it – at least with their consumption habits.
But that is not what this article is about. What gives me pause is the reason they give for moving to London.


Big concerns assume that, in the future, the central key towards success in our competitive world will be the quality of marketing.


To the concern, that seems useful, and even necessary, because it assumes that, in the market for PROVISIONS, only an enterprise that has the best MARKETING can establish itself and perhaps even add to its turnover. And among the top managers, they assume that the most efficient and effective marketing firms basically sit in London. Consequently, they seek close proximity to them – and go to Great Britain. Regardless of the Brexit and such. In my opinion, the Brexit is more an operetta than anything else.

PROVISIONS concerns are, first and foremost, after turnover and results (profit). And, in the eyes of the concerns, MARKETING is the determining factor in this field. Everything else, like the quality of food and the consequences for your health, only plays a minor role.


Business should serve the people, not vice versa!


For the concerns, only one thing is important: the people must buy the cheaply produced mass food at a price that is as high as possible. To make it attractive for the masses, it is made “convenient” and optically seducing. Enriched with aromatic ingredients, “the taste of the world“ is generated and realized. “Cheap” is more important than quality, optical appeal and wrapping is more important than the content, uniformity beats diversity, mass has priority over class, storage life beats freshness, logistic feasibility has priority over taste. …

Thus, there is a strong LOBBY that forbids the legislators in Europe and Germany, for instance, the clear marking of a product if it contains substances that may be detrimental for your health.

And what do the people do? Nothing. They believe what marketing says and buy like lemmings all the products by Mars, Nestle and co. Unfortunately, this is also true for Unterhaching.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Eugenie Wirz with Christian Mendoza (young entrepreneurs from Poland) at the UTUM-Hackathon (2016)

During my work – or should I say hobby – as a mentor for UTUM (unternehmerTUM) and TUM, I had the privilege to accompany a number of young persons for a time out of their life. I also met many nice people who are very active, both professionally and socially and who promote young persons (some of whom have fallen upon dire times) and start-ups with a huge amount of idealism.

I particularly enjoyed working with Eugenie Wirz (her friends call her Jenna). I first met Jenna several years ago, when she was still in charge of the UTUM mentoring program and worked particularly hard for “her” mentees.

Now, she has a new task at unternehmerTUM in the European context: the program “Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs“. It brings many ideas and fresh perspectives (Ideen und frische Perspektiven) to the UTUM world. In the magazine TUMcampus 4 | 16, on page 12 , you can find a “special” under the title “Learning from Successful Enterprises“. The Exist-Founders’ Program (Exist-Gründerprogramm) is also among those who promote it.

In the Wirtschaftswoche, you will find an article that describes how “you can learn abroad how to be a founder”. For examples of successful projects, click here.

In my role as the one who accompanied quite a few start-ups, especially with very young founders, I now understand that, more often than not, it is exactly this program that is an important chapter when it comes to writing your own entrepreneurial script. Consequently, it was my pleasure to write this article for Jenna and her program “Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs”. So if you know young founders, why don’t you give them this information?

And if there are questions about the project, do not hesitate to contact Jenna via email.

RMD

Klaus Hnilica
Tuesday February 14th, 2017

Woebegone Europe – What Exactly Is It?

At the moment, nobody can probably say what kind of construct the so-called ’Europe’ is. Economically, it does not look too good, its crisis countries struggle against increasing unemployment rates, it is politically divided and the citizens and elites have become more and more each other’s enemies because, after seven years of Euro crisis, they now see themselves confronted with a refugee stream from Africa and the Near East that does not look like it will end in the near future.

Is this the demise of this ’European Artificial Concept’ European Union (EU) and currency union, where none of the governments that are part of the whole is capable of showing us a uniting narrative – which means that the stupid shouting of rightist disruption mushrooms is being slurped up by an abandoned citizenry like Grail Messages?

Or is this diffuse concept EU doomed because all its borders have to stay open? Since, as the German Chancellor – who simultaneously writes into her subjects’ annals that a 3,000 kilometre-long border as Germany has it cannot be controlled anyway – tells her citizens that otherwise the Euro will have failed. Just like the EU with its 14,000 kilometres of borders, cannot be expected to control them all?

And those who think they know better and tell people that ’Schengen ’ should under all circumstances have been adhered to and that the exterior borders should have been protected are told that, after the interior borders had fallen, they perhaps learned nothing at all from the world financial crisis that, too, was initiated by the Americans. After all, did anybody care about the Maastricht Rules when the individual governments hastily saved their banks because the economic control mechanisms had failed – or that is at least how they interpreted it – and, consequently, everybody had to return to the ’primate of politics’ as a matter of course?

And that is how we are going to continue, no matter what! As it is, the safety packages and soft budget limitations are an excellent tool for keeping the interest rates of ’Mr. Draghi’s EZB’ low and even for, without any shame, indebting ourselves even more without having to deal with the intricacies of debt reduction and structural reforms as the usual dumb asses demand!

What a pity that parts of the population and the EU and currency union get more and more dissatisfied regardless: masses of them run towards the leftist parties in the south and towards the right extremists and national conservatives in the north and east, instead of at long last becoming wise and taking their example from good old Germany – this is true for the euro crisis, the refugee crisis and the energy revolution! It would be quite easy, wouldn’t it?

Even if there might be the danger that the occasional wisecrack who believes that Germany, based on well-meaning, will actually do the wrong thing due to its uncoordinated policy, thereby threatening to destroy the peace project of a unified Europe. One of those wisecracks is he historian Heinrich August Winkler. He says: It is part of our German responsibility to kiss inflated moral egos that especially progressively inclined Germans world-wide possess good-bye. It is an erroneous belief that we, if necessary even all by ourselves, have to realize the good things. It must not become our lives’ lie!“

Hm – how confusing! This is definitely not what our Federal Chancellor thinks?

But maybe the man actually has a point?

KH
(Translated by Evelyn)

Roland Dürre
Friday February 3rd, 2017

A Story About the EURO History.

Europe is More Than the EU (and the EURO).

After all, we no longer have the five-hundred Euro bill – regardless of the fact that the currency is losing value.

Last Tuesday, I went to the Café Luitpold where I attended an event the title of which had been advertised with the sentence you can read in the heading of this article (up to the brackets; what is in there is mine).

Harald Lesch had been invited as the star of the evening, but unfortunately he had to cancel at short notice. His replacements were two “Europe experts”.

Regardless of Harald Lesch not being there (in fact, he had been the reason I registered for the event), it was an interesting evening, especially because the nonsense they all talked was very refined. Mind you, we are talking people who in our country are considered the elite in science. To be sure, it is sometimes annoying if you have to listen, but for me it is also a morbid joy to listen to refined nonsense.

The two gentlemen on the podium started with Ancient Rome and some of their theories were really rather absurd. For instance, when someone in the audience asked if the downfall of Europe perhaps had something to do with losing our spirituality and religion, the answer was that the true danger for Europe was not from atheists but from agnostics. The offered explanation was that a fanatic atheist finds it easier to understand a strict Islamic faith than an agnostic.
Which makes integration easier.

That was my “Oh-my-God” moment.

My friend Sigi was also at this event in the nice coffee shop in the noblest part of Munich. After the presentation and discussion, Sigi told me a story that sounded quite familiar. Because I had often told it similarly – but never to Sigi.

To make up for it, let me tell you that Rudi Jansche told me the story as early as twenty years ago, albeit in the future form at the time. It was before the EURO was introduced and Rudi was one of the top managers of a relevant English concern in Germany that had a lot of power in the rest of Europe and also in the FRG. And I often wondered where my mentor Rudi had gained all this foresightedness.

I will now tell you the EURO story (Sigi’s and mine) as I myself experienced it:


In the early 1960s, I was in France as an exchange student. They still had the French Franc. My French was not yet very advanced and I was a little confused to see that a sports jacket, for instance, cost 100 (cent) Francs. And my host said that he had payed ten thousand (“dix milles“) Francs or  “dix milles balles“.

The riddle was soon solved. They had had a currency reform in France shortly before my visit. The “nouvel franc“ had been introduced. It equalled 100 old Francs. People could continue to use the old “francs“ as “centimes“. Basically, all they did was drop two digits. Many people, however, still spoke and had the mental concept of the old Franc, regardless of the products now being priced in the shops in new Francs.

For more information about the French “currency reform”, Wikipedia – here is an excerpt:


On December, 27th, 1958, the introduction of the Nouveau Franc (NF) as of January, 1st, 1960 was ordered. One NF, since 1963 officially only termed Franc (F), equalled 100 old Francs (anciens francs). The old Franc coins could still be used as Centimes. In everyday life, the old Francs continued to be part of the language for decades.


This Wikipedia article is absolutely worth reading. It gives you a good idea about the French inflation.

I have a vague memory that there was a time when one Deutsche Mark (DM) bought you more or less one nouvel franc (NF) – or vice versa. However, that time was soon over. It only took a few years for one Deutsche Mark to buy you three Francs. And matters continued in this way.

It was quite a surprise for me to see how with every visit in France the baguette got less expensive (for me). After all, its maximum price was regulated by law and apparently the state paid to subsidize it. Just like it surprised me that, even after several visits in France, I remained “le boche“ for some French people. Some of the families that had formerly been friends with my host family actually started to avoid them because they had opened their homes to a “boche“ and also – which was even worse – had sent their son to Germany, where the arch enemy lived. The good news is that, regardless, I soon found many young friends in France.
Our family (with my parents and my sister) mostly went to Austria on vacations. I still fondly remember the Schilling. It was truly an adventure to have the turnpike opened for us at the border and to drive through and then use a foreign currency. We were in a foreign country!

The Schillings – both the 1-Schilling coin and the 5-Schilling coin – looked beautiful. I remember that one DM equalled roughly seven Schillinge. This never really changed very much.

Both the vacations with my parents in Austria and my French exchanges were soon a thing of the past. Having escaped the parental home, I more and more often chose countries like Italy or Greece.

This is how I learned about Lira and Drachmens. Those were totally different kinds of currencies. The bills were greasy, the coins reminded you of GDR money and they were worth practically nothing.

In Italy, I was surprised to notice that the pizza got cheaper by the year for me, regardless of the fact that, nominally, it got more and more expensive in Lira. It was similar in Greece. For the owner of DMs, it was paradise. Unfortunately, those times are now long gone.

From the perspective of the Italians and Greek, it was not so great. For instance if they wanted to buy a Mercedes. Except that, as soon as they had the bank agreement for the credit to buy the car, said Mercedes was already more expensive. And that meant they would then buy a 2CV, R4 or Lada instead.

And then the EURO came. And everybody was happy. The German industry and the international concerns were enthusiastic, because now they all could sell a lot more. After all, now there was a shared domestic market with a shared currency. So you could really get under way and either destroy or take over the remaining local competition, depending on what seemed most advantageous for your own business.

Initially, the Italians and Greeks were also quite happy. After all, the prices for the nice German automobiles remained stable. Now you could afford them, just like you could afford so many more of the beautiful things the German and international concerns flooded the country with.

I was the only one who was not happy, because now, the Pizza and the Gyros was more expensive than before in Italy and Greece. Formerly, whenever we rode our bicycles over the Alps to the Mediterranean Sea, the general rule was that staying overnight got less and less expensive the further north you travelled. That is no longer true today. Now the least expensive places to stay overnight are in Bavaria. It gets more expensive in Austria and continues in the same direction in Italy.

Naturally, there was a downside to the EURO. The beautiful cars from Germany, like many other things, had been bought on credit. And while the German industry was all fascinated and sold record numbers, some countries were destroyed by their debt. It was no longer possible to “heal” through devaluation. The only things that remained of the nice Euro straw fire were inflation and less income.

The creditors wanted high interest rates from these weak countries and got them, too – and that caused additional pain. Just like it is always painful if you are already bankrupt and have to pay a lot of money without getting anything in return.

However, the EZB, the EU and the International Monetary Fund saw reason. They lowered the interest rates and bought the trash bonds in order to avoid the great “catastrophe” of state bankruptcy of one or several member states.

That seemed to save many European countries, not only in the south. But it was especially beneficial for the biggest of all debtors in Europe: Germany, i.e. us. Our reward for agreeing to it was that we no longer had to pay any interest. We would not otherwise have let it happen, because, naturally, our motto is “Germany first“!

This is how we won twice over: first our industry took total advantage of the shared market thanks to a shared currency – and then we no longer had to pay any interest for our national debt. All of a sudden and in a wonderful and smart way, we suddenly had a balanced national budget.

My friend Rudi foresaw all these things. But the responsible government under the great Chancellor of the re-unification did not.

Even if that government had not wanted the EURO, that would not have helped. After all, even at the time, the government, along with the entire EU, did whatever the industry said. And the industry wanted the EURO. Incidentally, that was also true for the other EU countries. Or, to be more precise: they wanted to do away with the DM, because the dominant role of the strong DM had been a constant annoyance for them for a long time. And the only way to get rid of the DM was the introduction of the EURO.

And now we have a problem. I very much look forward to hearing what the new miracle candidate of the SPD has to say about it. After all, he supported this line in the EU parliament, didn’t he?

Now he must and will again talk German: Germany first. After all, there is no second German politician (with the possible exception of the Great Bavarian) who learned better from Trump how to “popularize” the people.

He, too, will have nothing to fight the current system of party and lobbyist oligarchy with, nor will he want to. But I am sure that he will manage to promote his own so unbelievable career. And now he dreams of becoming Federal Chancellor.

Well, that is fine by me. It probably will not make the slightest difference who reigns in the Berlin of megalomania. Merkel alongside Schulz or Schulz alongside Merkel. The only certainty is that Mr. Gabriel will remain Federal Minister of State (due to secret understandings – the main tool of current policy).

Consequently, nothing will change about my story. It will end like so many fairy tales: and if they did not die, they will continue to govern.

Supplementary comment: 
From EURO fans, I hear all the time that it is so much nicer to travel these days. The disadvantage of having to change money is a thing of the past.

That is an argument I do not understand at all. In the also not so good old days, I always had travellers’ cheques on me. I had to change them in the country of destination. It was probably total nonsense, but my super-ego ordered me to do it.
Today, however, money is only an accounting unit and the conversion from one currency to another is one of the easiest tasks for our “digital world”.

But then, the EURO happened and now we have it. I would really have liked to ask the two Europe experts if they considered the introduction of the EURO useful for the idea of a new shared Europe or if it was detrimental. I never got the chance to ask that question. I cannot answer the question, but I assume it was more detrimental than beneficial.

Now, we not only have the EURO, but also the zero interest rate. And there is a continuing rise in national debt for European countries that is still covered by the EZB and the International Monetary Fund. That is a situation about which nobody can predict how long it will work out well.

During our last PM Camp, Gerhard Wohland said that a problem is a state of affairs that cannot continue. Nobody has a solution to our problem. Perhaps there is no solution. Consequently, those responsible in Europe will just continue in the same way as before. What other choices do they have?

For me, however, Europe is so much more than the EURO. And I believe it is totally irrelevant when and how it will explode. After all, it is only an accounting unit that will then be replaced by new and just as virtual accounting units. A good administration will be quite capable of doing that.

To be sure, this will be yet another situation where you will get winners and losers. Most likely, the rich ones will again be the winners and the poor ones will be the losers. But that is something we are more than used to and so we will continue until there is the next bomb.

And that sounds like logics of history to me. Perhaps the bang will come soon, because the world has far greater challenges to master than your average currency crisis.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Monday September 19th, 2016

At Night: Thinking of Europe.

Thinking “Europe” at night,
gives me more than a little fright …
(Heinrich Heine)

flagge-europaeische-union-euCatalonia wants independence from Spain. Scotland wanted to leave Great Britain. After having received threats and fear having been spread all over the place, they now did not get a majority. Now they are sad because they did not succeed.

GB as a state with a great democratic tradition, on top of having been a founding member, now wants to leave the EU. However, leaving is not something they regulated in any way (this is true both for leaving the EU and the EURO). It seems doubtful if this is possible at all as far as laws go.
National and European law is too tightly interwoven. Nobody seems to know a solution – but nothing will change.

The Mediterranean countries stagger. The FRG, too, is still European champion when it comes to the federal deficit. Bavaria has not felt well in the FRG for a long time, yet they keep financing Berlin/Brandenburg. More often than not, the “coalition disagreements” look like harbingers of a “Bavarian Exit” to me.

More and more EU countries show an extreme lack of solidarity. Everybody wants to preserve what they have. At the Eastern borders, they rattle their sabres because of an (allegedly?) increased threat from neighbours. At the Southern borders, they feel threatened by refugees and solve the problem with dubious deals.

Regardless of knowing better, Europe keeps sticking to the mantra “growth”. More and more soil is sealed by layers of concrete, the individual traffic has total priority over all else and some countries actually want to return to nuclear energy. Europe is soundly in the grip of global concerns for whom the shareholder value – more than ever – has absolute priority. The enterprises are no longer here to serve the humans. Instead, the humans have to serve the enterprises. People are just a herd of consumers who can be manipulated at will through marketing.

Regardless of being absolutely against the trend, agreements such as CETA and TTIP that propagate total, world-wide and limitless competition get signed. Such behaviour is based on the division of labour and will, naturally, promote the exploitation of humans and entire countries. And the predictable conflicts are to be ruled upon not by independent courts but by courts selected by business representatives.

In the meantime, the Euro again pushes entire regions towards bankruptcy. It is all financed by a state bank that creates a huge balloon. Sooner or later, this balloon will explode – and then everybody will again start lamenting about the next world-wide economic crisis.

Politically, the concept of self-interest will lead towards more and more populist regimes that mock democracy and humanitarianism. The way people communicate with each
other has become cold. The European nations have started accusing each other of misbehaviour, the first slogans demanding that individual countries be excluded have already been heard – regardless of the fact that an exclusion, just like an exit, is not regulated anywhere and probably not legally possible. But that is not what mattes, as long as the money flow is intact.

More and more, the EU shows that it is a very un-democratic system. With a powerless mega parliament and commissioners who keep exposing themselves to ridicule. All the institutions that control Europe have become buffaloes of the concern lobby and the capital, all the powerful European bodies and associations are in the hands of capital and business. Politics have been high-jacked, the politicians have to serve their masters. The law of the moment is: you do not bite the hand that feeds you. And whenever there is a situation that might turn out critical for the “Big Ones”, then the EuGH will see to it that the laws are interpreted in a way that supports the leaders.

New legislation is passed all the time. Sometimes the laws contradict each other. Due to legislation inflation, nobody takes them seriously any more. This is how they are more detrimental than useful. The consequence is a degradation bureaucracy all over Europe as we used to know it from the “socialist countries” of Eastern Europe. It died because of its bureaucracy. Change was no longer possible and the division of labour on state-level had destroyed all diversity.

If a huge concern massively and intentionally violates a law that was supposed to protect humans against poisonous gasses and particles, then nobody is interested. Even if said concern cheated on millions of customers. The big ones will go home free. After all, you depend on them.

Once in a while, they make an example with a small enterprise. Just like the modern messengers who carry sad news, the whistle-blowers, are punished while the tax evaders go home free. Because their behaviour was “inside the law”. Regardless of the fact that they built constructs for no other purpose than tax evasion that have nothing whatsoever to do with reality. One of the reasons why they did this was that they knew how powerful they are and that nobody would dare to make them unhappy. After all, their revenge would be an existential threat to smaller countries.

The “rich FRG” heals its own financial situation through a very strange interest policy from the top but to the detriment of a doomed southern alliance. Subsidies are handed out, not just to the “system relevant” financial industry – but always at the cost of the future and thus of the citizens. The fact that this will always make the majority of the poor and of the middle classes poorer and the few rich ones richer does not interest anybody.

Much is preached about values. But nobody lives what they preach. Christian roots are preached. Enlightenment as a value hardly plays any role any more. More and more freedom is sacrificed in the name of allegedly more security.

Tolerance is demanded but not granted, solidarity called for but not given, democracy undermined and human rights reduced. They demand attentiveness and promote enemy concepts.

That is not the Europe I had dreamed of. Basically, I do not feel German, nor European. The national anthem, Federal Eagle and Black-Red-Gold colours do not give me special feelings. To be sure, the yellow stars on blue may look a little more attractive than the bland “black-red-gold”, but they, too, are not my colours. Nor do I see any reason to be proud of being German. Just like there is no reason for me to be proud of the colour of my skin.

I am a person from, in and bred by this world. Where I come from and what language I speak is irrelevant. I like and appreciate all humans equally. I am in favour of peace. I used to be glad that we had Europe, because it was my impression that Europe did a good job. Unfortunately, that is a thing of the past. What currently happens in Europe gives me pause. The trend is evil.

Since my early adolescence, I was always traveling Europe. First as an exchange student, then on vacation, and soon mostly riding my bike. I particularly liked the Mediterranean regions, such as Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Cyprus. And I always met friendly people who gave me a warm welcome – and who helped me whenever I had a problem. The same happened to me in The Netherlands and Belgium, later in the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania and Lithuania.

That is enough reason for me to love Europe – I do not need to have one currency for this. But also outside the EU, for instance in Kenia, Tunisia or Morocco and China, Cuba and India, I had many nice and beautiful experiences. Wherever I went, the people accepted me and I felt they understood me.

As I saw it, the people were always very much ahead of their governments.

Consequently, what I would wish for is a world of connected regions, without national countries and military agreements. A world full of diversity and without levelling. A world where the useless oppositions and fear will disappear more and more, making room for the celebration of an all-encompassing friendship.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
In my next post, I want to explain to you why I like small, de-centralized systems better than the big, central ones. Especially when it comes to actually solving our problems.