Friday 24 December 2010

Ahhh, the blessed consumerism

So, in this year, we first had Greece and now we have Ireland and Portugal. All countries that managed to get themselves almost bankrupt because they spent way beyond what they had. A nice blow to the young currency that is Euro.
I'm writing this article because I like Euro as a currency, because I like Euro as an idea of federation of European countries and because I like EU for its economic and political power potential. I'd hate to see this gone, especially so soon after we finally got to have it all.
But the problem is that us Europeans turned into real consumers. Much worse than americans who even preach the philosophy. We turned into consumers and forgot that we have to earn what we consume first. We need to make something and sell it first. We went so far in our oblivion that entire countries go (almost) bankrupt.
So I ask: How can so many people that work in government grow so blind not to notice that their own and (hopefully) beloved country is going down? Is corruption really such a bliss? I unfortunately wouldn't know, I'm working in the private sector.
Then on the other hand we have countries that haven't (yet) gone down and they take debt to help the failed ones recover. Since these too are on the brink of sinking, how long before they do? It's an avalanche, we just don't see it yet. The German prime minister is right to question these methods, I just can't agree with the way she questions them (hinting they might abandon Euro currency).
Historically countries have solved these kinds of problems in three ways:
1. Go to war
2. Print more money
3. Transfer existing money from richer to poorer parts of the country
4. Probably many more I care not mention or have no idea about
Since the first option is barbaric in these times I really can't recommend it. Though I'm sure our beloved leaders will take it the moment things really go south.
The second option leads to inflation and all the things we came to love in the post WW2 period. Taking more debt is just another way of printing more money which the €-bank says won't do (and rightly so). Though I must admit I like the idea of us sticking together. We should do this more ever increasing the power of the union and decreasing power of individual member states. Current situation really isn't the best with the big three bossing the entire union around. That's not a union you guys! That's conquest executed a bit differently / subtly. But I went off topic just now.
The third option wasn't employed much in the past. There just weren't that many benevolent leaders on our continent. Usually it more like "Hey, I'm at the top of the hill - let's grab everything I can before somebody else gets to be better than me". Despite this, the EU as an institution by definition lends itself really nicely to the third option. The mixture of more or less still independent nation states just screams "differences" at us. Economic differences as well. Though I'm sure none of the currently still floating countries would be glad to pour their fortunes into the poor losers that went under.
A few days ago I was just sitting in my living room contemplating on this particular situation when I realized that pretty much all electronics that I have in my living room is either korean or at least "designed in" the USA. None of the high tech stuff I have is from my continent. OK, OK, save for the mouse / keyboard which is Logitech. And it's not like I chose to buy foreign stuff - there just isn't any of our own to buy. Now, how long can one go about this world in the present without investing in technology? I think not long, but I'm sure I see things wrong here, my political leaders will definitely think something up. NOT!!!
It wasn't long ago that AMD was selling their fabs, one of them even being in Europe. Instead of our leaders grabbing at the opportunity, they let this fine peace of cutting edge tech slip away. We should really be fighting for (and investing in) high tech, not just buying the consumer products of it.
But, still, we are now consumers. Pure ones. Just consuming and not producing much any more. And now we are taking more debt for those that went too far in their spending. Oh sure, our GDP is still high and all, but without investing in high tech, just how long will this last? I don't think long. I just hope long enough so that I can leave this world in peace instead in yet another world war in which we will again be waiting for our offspring (the americans) to come save our sorry asses (from ourselves) yet again.