March 25, 2010

A Sensible - if Radical - Solution for Greece.

 I'll offer my own, typically off-angle, view of the Health Care Bill and its implications for America's ongoing civil war, soon.  Till then, I just want to jot down a quick thought on another matter -- the current European economic crisis, precipitated by near bankruptcy of the nation of Greece.

But first, some announcements...

1) I've continued my series of ten-minute intellectual "YouTube Feasts." First concluding my series about spaceflight withPart V: The  Grand-scale reasons to explore space.  And then with the first part of a series about transparency, privacy and freedom. The Transparent Society: Part 1: the coming era of cameras everywhere. 

 2) The George Marshall Foundation has honoredme by prominently posting my 1999 essay touting George Marshall as the "Man of the 20th Century."

 Enjoy! (And spread the word.)

 

=== AND NOW... ABOUT THE GREEK/EUROPEAN CRISIS... ===

If you haven't been following this, it's pretty important. The "Club Med" countries of Europe -- Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy -- seem to have gone on a spending binge, since joining the Euro-zone (using the Euro as currency) and now Greece, especially, is asking to be bailed out - big time - by the richest nations, especially Germany.  This seems unlikely.  But the alternative, draconian budget cuts, could stir major social unrest, as well as a national depression.

You know me, I always look for the most obvious thing that is going un-mentioned.  In the case of Greece, I am wondering why nobody mentions the blatant extent to which Greeks are notorious tax scofflaws.  Tax compliance rates in Greece are known to be dismal.  Isn't this an important side of any budget crisis?

I am wondering if Greece might be helped by a dose of radical transparency.  Tax evasion is mediated by corruption, which thrives in shadows.  Were the Greek economy radically opened to light, laws would be enforced, simply because citizens would spot their neighbors' evasions -- (yes I am talking radical transparency! So?) -- and therefore that side of the ledger should dramatically improve.  

This approach has an added advantage.  Radical transparency could be achieved with some simple changes in law, unleashing citizens and media to do the rest.  If combined with an amnesty for those who report and pay-up on past evasions, this approach could offer the poor and middle class something to counterbalance their own sacrifices in setting things right.

 This sort of thing could be a big piece in helping the "Club Med" countries transform their balance books and take up a new position of leadership in an era of change.

 

=== AND FINALLY... SOME SCIENCE...===

 Citizen news network with credibility ratings. (EARTH predictive hit?)

Mars Express buzzes Phobos, one of the Red Planet's two tiny moons.

Creatures found under 600 ft of Antarctic ice suggest possible life under Jovian moon surfaces.

Your next cool board game?

Researchers Turn Mosquitoes Into Flying Vaccinators.

Stop the Ug99 Fungus Before Its Spores Bring Starvation 

Well, it certainly is reciprocal accountability....

Wow re lunar ice.

A site that answers questions or computations.

Efficient, low-cost water treatment (membrane .02 microns) may be useful in third world countries.

F ive stellar ways to explore space using social media

Women and Posthumanity: The future looks large and sexy. The media is driving females to manipulate their bodies to increasingly unnatural idealized images. We've lost touch with what natural bodies look like; we have no acceptance of natural aging.



 

1 comment:

Duncan said...

Interesting what you say -- and, by the way, I'm a fascinated reader of your science fiction stories.

"In the case of Greece, I am wondering why nobody mentions the blatant extent to which Greeks are notorious tax scofflaws."

On the contrary, it has been all over the news in all media here in my country and in others too (the not so poor members of the European Union, you know). People "on the street" know, that the government of Greece has told lies about fincancial status when they wanted to enter the EU years ago. And "we", the people, do not want to pay for "those". It's a common wisdom north of the alps, that Greece is a corrupt country. Some say "the third world begins behind Athens". Well, I would ask ironically: "behind"?

A funny -- or not so funny -- observation: During a strike of state employees in Athens -- just those people who helped the government and got the most out of the money -- a Grecian man, black lether jacket, sunglasses, looking like a gangster -- said in front of a tv camera about the accusations against Greece: "This has been conceived by neo-liberal euro-bureaucrats".