With Apologies To Baron Macaulay

Foto: dpa/Uli Deck

XXVII

Then out spake prim Steph Habarth,
Of unelected lore.
The Oracle of Karlsruh:
“To every persyn upon this earth
Butthurt cometh soon or late.
And how can we do better
When facing vaccine fear,
Than shut down basic rights,
And stop refusers reach?”

With inspiration from Popehat.

Vaclav Smil: “Governments will not make adequate provisions for the next pandemic”

Vaclav Smil is here. Yes, this man and this. Excerpt from “History and Risk“:

PERHAPS THE MOST obvious consequence of the latest pandemic is to expose the delusionary nature of recent claims concerning the human mastery of life. The entire lineup of near-miraculous advances has been exposed as irrelevant, and the notion of Homo deus boldly charting the destiny of a godlike species has imploded. What benefits have we derived from the Singularity? How useful are those endlessly touted, all-encompassing powers of artificial intelligence? Have our abilities to engineer organisms at will or rapidly produce objects by 3D printing contributed to preventing, moderating, or managing the COVID-19 pandemic? Where are the powers and decisive contributions of the entire high-tech, Silicon Valley world? What difference do these technologies make for doctors in New York City or Milan when they need ordinary rubber gloves, and when 92% of their global supply comes from Malaysia, Thailand, and China? The only solid promise is the development of a vaccine. Having it within 18 months would be historic, but, by then, the pandemic may well have spent itself. The best we can do is to imitate the residents of Italian medieval towns: stay away from others, stay inside for 40 days, quaranta giorni.

He ends somber.

Governments will not make adequate provisions for the next pandemic; companies will keep putting profits above security; people will resume their mindless, endless flying and cruising; and, in places where such foods are sought-after delicacies, buyers will continue to eat any imaginable kind of wild animals thus ensuring that sooner, rather than later, one of the animal viruses will jump again to people and start a new pandemic. Some Homo deus!

Full post here.

Please follow the MONOCLE facemask fashion guide

This would not be a real blog if we did not cover the pulse of Fashion trends & Pandemic and what better source is there for the distinguished fashionista than Jayson Tyler Brûlé’s MONOCLE.

Please follow the MONOCLE facemask guide purveyed by JAMES CHAMBERS. Fresh from the press in Asia.

– “Colour is the most obvious differentiator.
– traditional sky blue pleated fabric number made in Vietnam is OK.
– bolder dressers match yellow, green, pink or lilac masks to their outfits.
– trendsetters even wear two or three of different colours at a time to create a layered effect.
– white ones: they’re clean and simple, and they don’t clash.
– Black is a political statement in Hong Kong but should work elsewhere.

Sizing is of course an issue. These Asians are so small, so some modification of the mask may be required.

Expats have adopted a “nostrils out” style. Cordless headphones are also a struggle. Hardy smokers: stay true to your reckless disregard for personal health by adopting the “across the chin” style.

Many trends start in the West but when it comes to masks, Asia is definitely out in front.”

You don’t want to be left behind. Full lowdown on MONOCLE. The only question remaining, what style does Jayson Tyler Brûlé prefer. Over and out.

Go fug yourself.

German Antidiscrimination Agency, an African couple refused access to shop during period of Corona restrictions. Seriously?

cc ROSSMANN

Hello at the Federal Antidiscrimination Agency (FADA),

Should one be concerned when reading in an article on a German news website of an incident where a black couple of African decent with daughter intended to do some shopping and access was refused to them by store personnel? This during the period of the Corona restrictions policy.

As reason was cited that only a certain number of shoppers are allowed in the store at the same time. Strangely enough though, several other persons could enter the store while the African couple was still waiting, so the article noted.

The article quotes as follows: “The Rossmann employee explained that there are clear requirements that must be complied with.” The African couple even showed their ID to prove their legal residence. To no avail and they left. This can hardly be explained as a decision of an employee run wild. There had to be an instruction from higher up at ROSSMANN.

I contacted ROSSMANN two times asking for an explanation. ROSSMANN preferred to keep quiet. The typical German way, keeping things hushed up.

For the sake of completeness, it should be noted that the ECRI REPORT ON GERMANY, published on 17 March 2020, laments among others about the FADA the following (emphasis by me):

2. With regard to the promotion and prevention function of equality bodies, the FADA lacks the competence to intervene in the legislative procedure (§ 13j of GPR No. 2). It also lacks substantial competences with regard to the support and litigation function: while the FADA has the competence to assist persons exposed to racism and intolerance by providing information, redirecting them to other organisations and by mediating, it cannot provide them, as recommended in § 14a, c, d and e of GPR No. 2, with legal assistance, represent them before institutions, adjudicatory bodies and the courts, bring cases in its own name or intervene as amicus curiae, third party or expert. The members of the FADA’s network against discrimination cannot provide such assistance throughout Germany either. As pointed out in ECRI’s last report on Germany, the FADA also lacks the power to question persons and to apply for an enforceable court order or impose administrative fines if an individual or institution does not comply with a decision related to its investigation powers (§ 21 c and d of GPR No. 2).

3. Also with regard to the FADA’s independence, ECRI regrets to note certain shortcomings. The head of the FADA is appointed by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs based on a proposal of the Federal Government (§ 26.1 of the AGG), while, according to § 23 of GPR No. 2, the executive should not have a decisive influence in any stage of the selection procedure. In addition, the duration of the mandate of the head is tied to the legislative term of the parliament, and civil society points out that the recent vacancy was not publicised widely and in a transparent manner. In practice, this led, for the second time in the relatively short lifetime of the FADA, to a complaint by an unsuccessful applicant to the administrative court; as a result, the position has been vacant for many months. Furthermore, the law only provides for the drafting of a common report by the FADA and other institutions every four years for debate in Parliament. In contrast, equality bodies should, according to §§ 30 and 35 of GPR No. 2, publish annual reports that are discussed by parliament and government but are not subject to their approval or the approval by any other external party.

I personally have to say that I am not at all surprised about any form of racism in Germany, or as the well known economist Mark Blyth, a Scotsman married to a German, stated about the Germans: “They are all a wee bit racist” at 50:46 in the video. One might wonder what would happen in German cities if there was, god forbid, a black news presenter on TV on prime time? Burning streets and cars are well conceivable.

Black news presenter. Completely inconceivable in Germany

Thank you for your attention and with regards,

Could Covid-19 vanquish neoliberalism?

Excerpts from Thomas Fazi’s Could Covid-19 vanquish neoliberalism?

Over the course of just a few months, the Covid-19 global pandemic has shattered practically every shibboleth in the neoliberal bible.

The first and most obvious victim is the idea that money is a scarce resource. …

The coronavirus crisis has now revealed the austerity logic to be an utter sham: as advocates of modern monetary theory (MMT) have been saying for years, states that issue their own currency and issue debt in their own currency (i.e. every advanced country in the world with the notable exception of the eurozone) can never ‘run out of money’, nor can they become insolvent because, unlike households or firms, they can literally create money out of thin air. That’s what being a currency issuer means. In recent weeks, governments around the world have announced massive spending plans and double-digit deficits; yet, curiously enough, we haven’t heard any of the usual screams of “How are you going to pay for that?”. …

The second neoliberal shibboleth shattered by the pandemic is the superiority of private and liberal strategies over centralised economic planning and the welfare state, and the obsolescence of nation-states. For years (well, decades), we’ve been told that governments are wasteful and inefficient; that markets are able to operate more efficiently both in the short term and in the long term; and that governments are largely powerless vis-à-vis the forces of the global economy. …

So governments have surrendered many of their national prerogatives to supranational organisations — the most obvious example being the European Union (EU) and monetary union — while state-owned firms and public services, including public hospitals and healthcare facilities, have been progressively underfinanced and privatised (often by appealing to the aforementioned austerity logic). … According to OECD Health Statistics, Italy and Spain have today fewer hospital beds per inhabitant than China; France and Germany fewer than South Korea or Japan. Governments around the world are rushing to boost their hospital capacity but for tens of thousands of people it is too late already. …

This brings us to the third neoliberal shibboleth blown away by the coronavirus: the benefits of belonging to the European Union and eurozone. There’s a reason EU and euro countries — most notably Italy and Spain — have been hit so hard: the EU remains the only economy in the world where neoliberalism has been embedded into its very legal structure and effectively constitutionalised, through strict rules against government support to local industries, the constant encouragement of deregulation, the enshrinement of the ‘four freedoms’, and, above all, by depriving states of the central plank of economic policy, the currency.

The EU’s guiding principle was approvingly espoused by Italy’s former economics minister (2006-2008), the late Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa: to “weaken social protection” in all areas of citizens’ life, “including pensions, health, labour market, education”. It thus shouldn’t come as a surprise to find out that the European Commission made 63 individual demands of member states to cut spending on healthcare provision and/or privatise or outsource healthcare services between 2011 and 2018, in order to meet the arbitrary debt and deficit targets enshrined in the EU’s fiscal rules, as revealed in a recent report by the Emma Clancy, a political advisor in the European Parliament. …

Finally, the current crisis is exposing the madness of today’s hyper-integrated supply chains and the delocalisation of production that has taken place in recent decades, with countries finding out that they lack factories to produce basic medical equipment (such as masks) or much-needed medicines, which have suddenly become scarce with the collapse of global supply chains. Hyper-globalisation, just like the marketisation of public services, has proven to be not only a serious ecological, economic and social problem, but a threat to national security as well.

Full essay here.