Monday, October 28, 2013

Russell Brand's call for a "revolution," is the wrong kind.

Just five days ago the well known comedian and actor Russell Brand, gave an interview on BBC with his usual style of speech. Minutes after this interview was broadcasted, the video went viral on various social networking sites.

In this video that many described as "inspirational" and "revolutionary," Mr. Brand admits that he has never voted, nor will vote in any election. 

What I find intriguing is that many people fell for the message that not Mr. Brand himself, but the BBC wants to promote among young people who probably are followers or admirers of Mr. Brand. "Do not vote" because it is revolutionary, voting is pointless and we need a revolution. And because "Rock and Roll" celebrities are advocating that they do not see the point!

I do not trust someone who has benefited from the Hollywood stardom and media machine. What he says is absolutely true and inspiring, but he is not the first to express these views. To encourage people NOT to vote is nonsensical. People must continue to vote, though do so for different parties that do not represent the establishment. Socialist, liberal, progressive or green parties. 

What we suffer from is the two party system and a political establishment that guess what? It exists in all countries. That is the model we should all strive to break away from. But we must continue to vote, this time with a cause, conscience and wisely. 

For someone to pretend that speaks for the people, but encourages political idleness and apathy, it seems that he supports the establishment that wants people to become idle to democracy and indifferent to their country's political reality. In other words Mr. Brand perhaps unwillingly, acts as a wolf in a sheep's skin. 

People be ware! The establishment wants to just ridicule any potential revolution by making a persona like Brand the face of it. The key to any reforms or revolution is to continue to vote and participate in your country's politics, but this time start doing so with an educated opinion. 

Something that the established media and governments do not want you to do. If only anyone who advocated for a "revolution" fell under the image of Mr. Brand and be associated with him. A real revolution can start from a farmer, a teacher, student, a housewife and not a "cool," drug using and famous celebrity with distorted views on politics. 

You may watch the full interview of Mr. Brand and make up your own mind on the video link bellow. Though I agree with everything he expresses, I am compelled to disagree with the encouragement that he gives to his young followers to not vote. What BBC is doing and how it promotes Mr. Brand and his views, is something that we need to be cautious on. 

God forbid if we allow our youths to follow Brand's example and become idle and apathetic to voting and their country's political reality. Real revolution needs more engagement in politics democracy, not absolute abstinence!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The issue of the French deportation of a Roma student.

For the past two weeks there is a very divisive topic being discussed in France. On October the 9th, a Roma girl from Kosovo has been deported from the country together with her family. 

The school girl aged 15 years old, spent most of her life in France and was a French speaker. 

The decision to deport Leonarda Dibrani and her family was taken by the French interior ministry, in an effort to return all undocumented immigrants to the country of their origin. 

This action caused a heated debate once more in France on immigration, integration and the safeguarding of French national values. Protests in support of the girl and her family took place in France, for two consecutive days.

It is not the first time that the Roma community is finding itself at the epicenter of an immigration row in France. Just a few years ago Roma people this time from Romania and Bulgaria were also deported, even though they were EU citizens. 

The problem is why it is only the Roma community who is being stigmatized by the French media or authorities? They are not the only group of undocumented immigrants in the country and certainly not the only one who fails to "integrate itself into French society and accept its values," as many who support the deportation claim. 

Will the French authorities deport many people from their former colonies that haven't integrated well into French society? Perhaps they won't because they are former colonial subjects and France still wants to have a meddling influence in their country. Or perhaps they will equally deport all illegal immigrants.

Then why we never read any reports about protests of deportations of people of other ethnic origin in France? The Roma people are being stigmatized and brought to the forefront of an issue that all countries have, yet as it is a sensitive issue when other ethnic groups are concerned, nobody really bothers about the Roma. 

If we think about it, there are many vocal groups or lobbies that protest to safeguard the rights of people of black African or Jewish  decent, gay people, women or the rights of the Muslim community. But very few to do so for the Roma.

And that is because in every country they have settled, they have been discriminated against for centuries. No government of a country with a substantial Roma community has managed to successfully create policies, that would encourage the full integration of the Roma into their communities. 

And while it is true that in many cases it is the Roma people who do not want to change their way of life and integrate themselves in the country they are living, we have to examine if the approach of the governments was always understandable and fair to them. 

The Roma are Europeans and in most cases they are also EU citizens. They have been living among us for centuries. People forget their influence and contribution in European culture and heritage, like our music for example. In Spain, Greece, Hungary and Romania their music has been adding to these countries' heritage for centuries now. What would Spain be without a flamenco, a music that the gypsies gave their soul into? 

I do not object to the right of the French authorities to keep up with their work of enforcing the law. Nor do I object to the deportations of illegal immigrants, if those are justified and these people do not have the right to be in a country, or fail to abide by its laws.

What I object to is that the Roma people are being victimized and stigmatized. They are always the ones who are used as scape goats in the French struggle to deal with their immigration problem. Because it is too sensitive to put any other ethnic group on the spot, the Roma have become the face of this political and social issue.

And the worse thing is that the whole issue with the Roma, has been used to keep Romania and Bulgaria out of the Schengen Agreement and place restrictions on the free movement of people from these countries to certain EU countries. These two nations are also stigmatized as result, by having different rules apply for their citizens even though the real problem is about Roma immigration.

If certain countries have immigration problem, no ethnic group should become the focus of the media attention. The issue should be dealt by treating all immigrant groups with the same respect, keeping their dignity while proceed with the enforcement of the law.

The EU Commission has already many times warned France over its stance on Roma people, but still the country failed to comply. How do they expect to create an equal European community if they fail to protect all ethnic groups that live in it, even the indigenous ones?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

US Government shut-down. The cost of democracy?

For the past two weeks the other side of the Atlantic became the focus of the global news, stealing the limelight from Europe for a change. Our continent has been providing news stories for the past good few years, with the way it struggles to deal with its economic and political crisis.

But this time America is the epicenter of a political and ideological row, that potentially can result to consequences that will reach beyond the country's borders. And as much as this saga seems very ridiculous to most of us outside the US, it is very serious for the parties involved and that makes it very serious for the rest of world.

Since America is the world's leading power politically and economically, what happens there could send ripples throughout the globe, especially through Europe that is so close to America. The US found itself being paralyzed by federal government shutdown, due to the inability of the Republicans and the Democrats to agree on how to deal with the country's public debt and an "ideological crusade," as Mr. Obama called the Republican's opposition on the issue. 

A government shutdown in the US is not something unheard of, though it is the first time that an agreement has not been reached within a few days and both sides are so staunchly opposing and blocking any progress. The last government shutdown hasn't happened for almost 20 years. In US politics, a government shutdown is the name for the process the Executive Branch must enter into when the Congress creates a "funding gap" by choosing not to or failing to pass legislation funding government operations and agencies. (Wikipedia).

If the interim or full-year appropriations are not enacted into law, the United States Constitution and the Anti-deficiency Act require the federal government to begin a “shutdown” of the affected activities. If the budget crisis continues long enough, then the law requires an obligatory unpaid leave for all non-emergency personnel and curtailment of agency activities and services.(Wikipedia)

A country without a functioning government for a long period of time, because of disagreements and deep rooted divisions is not something that we've never seen before. In Europe, Belgium did not have an official government for years due to the divisions between the country's linguistic groups. Yet the country functioned as normal and Belgium's, Europe's or the global economy did not risk a meltdown.

The issues that led to the US situation have been simmering since the second reelection of Mr. Obama and the so called "Obamacare," or the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that the US President and the Democrats supported. As the US federal government is deeply divided in the Republican dominated House of Representatives and the Democrat dominated Senate, this situation only worsens the deadlock and contributes to the government's inability to reach to a decision.

The second major issue is of course about the nation's debt. The conservative Republicans oppose to pass a bill raising the country's debt limit, something that Mr. Obama believes that will cause delays in payments including benefits and government employees' salaries and lead to default on government debt. President Obama urged Congress to raise the debt ceiling without conditions to avoid a default by the United States on government debt. (Wikipedia)

It seems that the USA is not just in a financial but also in an ideological crisis. Key politicians reject any potential solutions purely on economic interests and the ideology they served all these years. The reforms the Democrats support and want to implement, are overall a step in the right direction to end the deep inequalities in the US society. But the Republicans and their hardline position seem to be out of date and out of touch with the needs of the ordinary people.

To achieve these reforms the US government will need to raise more taxes and thus have "more government," something that the Republicans ideologically oppose. And that is why their position in the whole issue is outdated. In modern times a country needs leaders with ideas, not rigid ideology.

Their position can be also explained as a fear that Obamacare will be successful, thus giving more power to the Democrats. So they take the whole country in ransom, just to maintain the political status quo and protect their interests. It is the people of America that gave them the power they have and their role should be serving these people best.

So while they are getting paid to promote the American citizens' interests, they decide to force about 800,000 federal employees in living without pay for the foreseeable future, hurt the country's tourism industry and its image abroad. They do not only jeopardizing America's economy, but the global one as well.

Yalman Onaran of Bloomberg News wrote that the government's failure to raise the debt ceiling and pay its debt would "halt a $5 trillion lending mechanism for investors who rely on Treasuries, blow up borrowing costs for billions of people and companies, ravage the dollar and throw the U.S. and world economies into a recession that probably would become a depression."

Taking into consideration that the existing economic crisis in Europe-that we have to deal and suffer from- originated in the banking system of America , the way that the Republicans are dealing with the issue is extremely outrageous and arrogant.

The Americans do not want to deal with their debt problems in an effective way, nor pay their debts by following responsible economic policies, so the whole world is in danger of facing a much harsher economic reality. All because of a bunch of grey haired conservative folk in American politics and their ideology, that provides to a minority of people in this world great wealth.

Other countries are not only forced into debt, but also are placed under a harsh austerity regime by an organization that is based and controlled by the USA-the IMF- in order to make sure they repay their debts. Yet the US leadership mocks and insults the rest of the world in front of our eyes, by acting immaturely when it comes to dealing with their debt responsibly.

The EU Commission President Mr. José Manuel Barroso said that while the EU was "ridiculed" for its handling of the euro-zone crisis, he would not criticize the United States for its budget deadlock, as this was a "normal" result of democracy. (Euractiv)The real problem though is that the people or parties that cause the US budget deadlock, do not really believe in democracy, rather in oligarchy. Their actions and agenda that they pursue speak for themselves.

The Americans were criticizing Europe for years over its handling of the economic crisis as Mr. Barroso mentioned. Perhaps after this farce and circus they have amused us with, they will become the equal, understanding partners that Europe deserves to have, not the stone throwing allies who live in a glass house.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Seanad Referendum in Ireland: a lost chance for reform?

Across the media and in the Oireachtas, the legislative body of the Irish Republic, the recent Seanad referendum has dominated discussion over the past few weeks.

The discussion came to an end last Friday October the 4th, when the Irish electorate decided that they wished to keep the Seanad.

The Irish Senate is one of the three legislative bodies in Ireland, together with the Dail Eireann (the Parliament) and the President of Ireland.

All together they form the Oireachtas. The Seanad is consisted by 60 Senators elected after a general election. Eleven Senators are nominated by the Taoiseach (the Prime Minister) , 6 by certain national Universities (UCD and NUI) and 43 are elected from special vocational panels of candidates by local and national level elected politicians.

The Seanad has the power to delay only, not to veto legislative proposals. The Dail is the only House which can introduce amend financial and tax legislation. The government usually has a majority in the Seanad, which has not rejected a bill passed by the Dáil since 1964. Debate on the Seanad's future has focused on whether it would be better to reform it with or without constitutional amendment, or to abolish it altogether.

In October 2009, Fine Gael leader and Taoiseach Enda Kenny stated that it was his intention that a Fine Gael government would abolish the Seanad, and along with reducing the number of TDs by 20, it would "save an estimated €150m over the term of a Dáil."

Arguments in favor of the bill included that the abolition would save money and that the number of legislators is too large relative to the state's population. The method of selection is elitist and undemocratic and that the Seanad is a powerless "rubber-stamp".

The arguments against the bill were that a NO vote will create a mandate for reform of the Seanad and that the process of legislation needs greater scrutiny. Most countries with a Westminster system countries have bicameral legislatures and that the Irish financial crisis shows a need for more governance. (Wikipedia)

Ireland is an unusual case for a small country that has a Senate. The majority of EU Member States have one house of parliament, although it is interesting to note that more than five out of every six European citizens live in a country with two houses of parliament.  This is because most EU Member States with a bicameral system have large populations; countries such as Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK.  In fact, Ireland and Slovenia are the only two countries in the EU with a population under 10 million to operate under two houses of parliament.

Czech RepublicCyprus

The composition and power of upper chambers varies quite considerably from country to country across Europe.  For instance, the Italian Senate’s 315 members are directly elected by all Italian citizens over the age of 25, with the upper house possessing equal power with the lower house. This is in contrast to most second chambers in Europe where the powers of the upper house are restricted, as is the case in Ireland, Slovenia and Poland.

The reason for the existence of second chambers also varies between countries; the House of Lords in the UK is steeped in centuries of tradition and is regarded as a historic institution, while the German upper house exists due to the federal nature of Germany. What is common across most bicameral EU countries though is the size of the state: the average population among the 13 bicameral countries is 35 million people.

Many of the 15 countries with unicameral systems are recent entrants to the EU with several of them being former Communist states. Of these unicameral countries, there is a fairly even split between those who created their political systems with only one house of parliament and those who abolished the upper house after some years of governance.

For example, both Denmark and Sweden abolished their second chambers in 1953 and 1970 respectively, while Croatia abolished its upper house as recently as 2001.  So it is not unusual or unheard off to abolish the upper house of the Parliament. Like the EU bicameral countries, the size of the population of the 15 unicameral states is similar: the average population among unicameral countries is 5 million. Greece is the largest country in the EU with a unicameral system with a population of 11 million. (

The turn out on Friday was very low, at around 39% of the Irish electorate and the referendum was lost by a margin. The NO side won with  51.7% of the votes, when compared to 48.3% of the YES campaign. Interestingly this referendum divided the country in half with the west of the country voting YES, while the eastern counties rejected the bill.

Some of the parties that supported a YES vote did not engage as much in the process, notably the Labour Party of Ireland. There was some misunderstandings among the party's Senators and the impression received from many of its members, some privately and some publicly, was that they were largely in favor of retention, despite campaigning in favor of the Seanad's abolition.

Also there was an overall mishandling of the debate by the Government. Many accused the Taoiseach Mr. Enda Kenny that his reluctance to engage in an open debate with the opposition leader Mr. Michael Martin, resulted in the government's defeat in the referendum. It is not the first time that the Irish Government loses a referendum. In fact it was defeated in every referendum for the past few years.

There are many factors that lead to another defeat. A lot of No voters were clearly suffering from referendum fatigue. Others are angry at this government, largely because of the spending cuts and tax increases it has implemented at the instigation of the troika, and saw the referendum as an opportunity to give it a "black eye". And there is no doubt that a small number of voters were confused by the minimalist ballot papers or campaign messaging and thought that a No on the referendum would get rid of the Seanad.

The idea of a “power grab” and the prospect of a one house legislature dominated by the executive resonated with some in a variety of ways. The recent vote on abortion legislation was often mentioned. The harsh treatment of six Fine Gael TDs who dared to defy their party leadership on a single, highly emotive vote angered a cross section of voters who saw it as bordering on the autocratic. And as the closer than expected results in rural constituencies partly suggests, the incident put hard line pro-lifers firmly in the No camp. (The Journal)

Another interesting observation was the position of each one of the parties that campaigned in this referendum. The two governing parties, the Fine Gael and Labour were for the bill, even though the Labour Party did not participate in the campaign as it was expected. Sinn Fein and the Socialist Party of Ireland also supported the bill, two parties that were usually campaigning for a NO vote in most previous referendums, notably the EU Lisbon Treaty.

The Socialist Party of Ireland campaigned in favor of the bill to "end the rule of the 1%, fight elitism and austerity." Not because they agree with "the government’s hypocrisy or general attacks on democratic rights, but because the Seanad is an undemocratic, elitist, conservative body that should be scrapped." (The Socialist Party of Ireland).

Interestingly, the party that has led Ireland in this crisis and the one that has managed to become an institution in the Irish politics, has campaigned in support of keeping the Seanad. The Fianna Fail party opposed the bill and advocated for a reform of the upper house of the parliament, instead of its abolition. Clearly this party is keen to keep the political status and system, that has supported for all these years and exploited for its own benefit.

If the Seanad was to play any decisive role in Irish politics, having a say and watching over the government, why didn't they have done so all these years? Its contributions would have been most welcome during the tragic mistakes that the Irish past governments committed. But its roles are indeed very limited to be of any significance.

It remains to be seen which will be these proposed reforms and if or when they will take place. During the debate the NO side gave no hint of what those suggested "reforms" should be, or how should the government proceed after the defeat of the referendum. There is a chance that the Seanad and the Irish political system will continue to operate as they have for so long.

This referendum was the first attempt to bring some decisive and much needed reforms in the country's political system, yet the Irish population decided that it would be too drastic to abolish something that has been part of their country's political life for so long.

The Fianna Fail victory will certainly give a much needed boost to the party's and its leader Mr. Michael Martin popularity. Perhaps that is what they wanted in the first place and why they campaigned against the abolition of the Seanad, as an opportunity to reassert themselves as a key player in the Irish politics.They have used populism and opportunities like this one many times before, to become a political establishment in Ireland.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Lampedusa tragedy calls for a pan-European reaction.

More than 300 people are feared dead in the waters of Mediterranean, since last Thursday's tragic boat accident near the Italian island of Lampedusa. The boat that carried immigrants from the African continent seeking a better future in Europe, was capsized when all the people aboard moved to one side to avoid a fire.

The fire was set to a piece of material to try and attract the attention of passing ships, only to spread to the rest of the boat. The 20m (66ft) boat carrying some 500 people, mostly from Eritrea and Somalia, was approaching Lampedusa when it began taking on water and its motor stopped working (BBC News).

This is only the latest migrant related tragedy that takes place in Europe's territory, but surely it won't be the last one. At least not until European leaders act on the issue decisively. It is not a matter that should be dealt solely by Italy, as these migrants are leaving their countries to enter Europe for a better life, hoping to reach the more affluent regions of our continent.

Europe must act on this collectively and support the bordering nations like Malta, Italy, Spain and Greece. It is a European problem and all EU nations must come together for a solution. But they may have to take some very critical decisions to come to one.

The immigrants are coming to Europe because there is civil war, radical militant groups acting in the region resulting in instability and extreme poverty, combined with lack of opportunities and jobs. As long as there is great inequality in the world's population living standards, there will be always a migration flow from the poorer nations to the richer.

Western nations dominate culturally, financially and by trade the poorer regions of the world. When young people from these regions watch films or various product advertisements, that portray life in Europe and the West as ideal, it is impossible not to seek an opportunity to escape to these lands. Whereas they have very few opportunities in their own countries, there will be always an ever increasing number of migrants that want to enter Europe.

The problem is that often the only way to reach the "promise land" is by illegal migration that brings them to the mercy of human traffickers, who are making profit out of human misery and desperation. These people are exploiting the modern day slaves, by often charging per head to carry people across the Mediterranean in their boats.

The migrants odyssey does not end here though. Even if they do manage to reach Europe, they will again face exploitation by people who employ them to work for nothing. They will face discrimination in an ever intolerant and xenophobic continent. Women and children are particularly vulnerable. Sadly the migrants are coming to Europe, because there are people here that want their cheap labor.

Ideally if Europe really wanted to deal with the issue effectively, it should create either jobs in the countries of origins of the illegal immigrants, or agencies that will attract the right amount of migrants with the right skills. In other words Europe should set up employment agencies in Africa and other regions, once of course it manages to create a common immigration policy.

In that way immigrants will come into Europe through a legal and acceptable way, not being stacked like animals on a boat or a truck, facing an uncertain future and even death. Intense and further cooperation with transitioning nations for the immigrants to prosecute any traffickers, or clamping down on companies that employ and exploit illegal immigrants can also offer some solutions to the problem. 

But because Europe does not always have the best relations with these countries, or because of the instability in the greater region, investing to create job positions there can be difficult to achieve. Without a common immigration policy it is hard to create EU employment offices, though some steps have been taken to that direction is some countries.

Ending the instability and poverty in all regions across the globe is the obvious solution, but to achieve that Europe can not act on its own. All developed nations must be part of such effort under the coordination of the UN.

The problem here is how to achieve more harmonious and equal living standards for all people in the planet, when the very economic model that Europe and the West are pursuing, often needs global inequality in order to exploit certain regions and its people.

Political, ideological or religious clashes also play a role in preventing certain regions being lifted out of poverty. Europe is unable to allow all immigrants that seek a better future in its borders, especially now that it experiences itself an economic, political and social crisis that results in high unemployment and instability.

In many countries far right groups have gained popularity because of the inability of the mainstream political parties, to address effectively the issue of immigration and find solutions to their nation's economic woes. As long as Europe is unable to speak with one voice and convince other rich nations to join in the fight against global poverty and instability, tragedies like that of Lampedusa will become a common occurrence in the future.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What has Capitalism ever done for you?

Europe's division in its main regions is not coincidental or irrelevant from the main religions and ethnic groups that comprise our continent. There are historic and cultural explanations of why certain regions are rated better than others on economic or social grounds.

Capitalism has been our political system since it prevailed after WW2 in the half of our continent. Later with the fall of communism it expanded into the other half and that was an extremely welcomed development. But over the years Capitalism has evolved from something that everybody wanted into something that many are skeptical about.

Over the past few years and with the crisis throughout Europe exposing the weaknesses of this political and economic system, people even from former communist nations are realizing that something is not quite working in Capitalist Europe. The inequalities among the nations and the classes are great and the system needs to be revisited.

What we are experiencing right now are the consequences of the type of Capitalism that was very popular during the '80s and the Reagan-Thatcher legacy. The neo-liberal ideology on industry, way of doing business and worker's rights, that is only getting worse due to globalization and the entry into the global market and field of politics of the developing economies with their millions of consumers.

Competition between the established rich elites in the developed nations and these new economic "powers" is escalating and what we are witnessing right now, is a desperate attempt of Europe to come to terms with its past decisions and failed financial policies. Then we allowed all industries to be transferred to poorer nations with cheaper workforce, in order to increase our profits. Now these nations want a bigger say in the world affairs and a greater share on its wealth.

The elites of Europe are losing out now that China and India are rising and pose a threat to the monopoly the Western oligarchs and super rich capitalists had on people and resources all over the world. So how to compensate the loses and keep the profits coming? Scrap all social security policies and have us working for nothing in Europe. They never liked paying for them anyway. In fact there is a very intense debate going on as we speak in every political think tank or forum in Europe, on how to deal with the crisis and if our social security services are viable.

In Greece we used to have many social security benefits and rights, like Christmas bonuses, Sunday work pay and free health care if you worked continuously for a certain amount of time. Because we had strong and established unions, both in the public but also in the private sector and that is the reason that our country is targeted by the global capitalists.

Countries like Ireland on the other hand never faced such grilling by them and the media that they control, because in the private sector there is no union activity at all, they have established an absolute liberalized labor market that the capitalists love. That is why Ireland is being respected by the global media despite being also bailed out. On the contrary Greece is being brought to its knees, to destroy the unions and force compliance.

Europe is not like India or China, our culture is different. We fought hard for our rights, we should get paid whatever the law dictates. We deserve to have quality of life and to be looked after if we have a health issue that prevents us from working for some time. We are also entitled to pension, something that is now being put to question. As human beings we need to have a work -life balance, that will eventually lead to functional families having children, something that Europe needs desperately.

All social security schemes across Europe are under threat, because business groups lobby our governments to abolish them, liberalizing our labor market. If our leaders decide that they want us to be privately insured, they should raise our salaries across Europe to the same level of the richer nations. Raise the minimum wage to at least € 1200 per month and lower the taxes we are paying. Let us find our own insurance and set up our own pension schemes. We will then be able to afford it.

What happens though is that the capitalist elites want us to be private insured so they won't have to pay for it, have a low salary so we won't cost them much, plus we should be paying high taxes to cover the mistakes they do when they take risks to invest in their various money making schemes.Worker's rights are basic human rights and you can not infringe on the first without doing so for the second.

There is clearly a clash of mentalities and economic and political traditions going on in Europe and the world in general. The dominant Anglo-Saxon/American one is trying to impose itself in all Western nations and in extend the world.

Capitalism is closely related to the Protestant ethos and its idea that seeking riches and wealth is something noble. As a reaction to Catholicism that saw the accumulation of wealth as sinful, the Protestants have included wealth in their Christian traditions.

Later of course during the age of colonialism and the new discoveries, the Catholic Church embraced capitalism itself and in fact they became very good at it, when they saw all the riches and possibilities coming from the new world.

Nevertheless capitalism is deep rooted in the Protestant nations, so that is why they are so good at and so defensive of it. It is no wonder also that these nations are always rated highly by the rating agencies, that are supporting Capitalism and they are based in the the richer and most powerful Capitalist and Anglo-Saxon nation on the planet, USA.

They rate a nation or the happiness and living standards of its citizens according their economic potential and traditions, but not on their values, heritage, lifestyle and culture. And of course that creates the divide between North and South, not just in Europe but America itself. When the South European nations were the ones who were prosperous, it was the North that was considered uncivilized.

Coming from a Mediterranean country, I pride myself of the very balanced work-life status I have established that contrary to many Anglo-Saxon nations' beliefs, is not about being lazy. It is irrational and sad, that they think that the meaning of life is to work two jobs, just to be able to have a large fridge, a big car, a big house and everything that the media promote and advertise, but deprive my children of my presence at home, sacrifice a normal social life, my mental health and find happiness just in consuming things that one does not really need.

The grounds that I disagree with capitalism are not in a ideological front, but with the practicalities of it and what it does to human beings. It just turns them into mad, sad, over-consuming, unsatisfied and moaning peoples, with large doses of perfectionism and delusion. That does not agree with the mentality of everybody that comes from a different religious or ethnic background. And it is the reason why many countries are struggling to implement policies that have worked or implemented in a Protestant Anglo-Saxon nation. The comparison is simply not fair.

I have never been a radicalized Left-wing activist for the reasons that I believe that any form of radical ideology is not healthy. I accept capitalism as an economic model and in fact I prefer it from most alternatives. But it is evident to all of us that it has gone out of control, it does not longer support a viable and fair system and it needs to be reformed immediately. It has been hijacked by wealth mongering people that put above all the accumulation of more power, with no morals.

Having worked in the customer services area for over a decade in the past, I have seen what Capitalism has done to people. Their attitudes have changed and the social structures have been altered dramatically. People think they are entitled to have more or behave as they wish because they are paying. As an employee I have seen the irrationality of an employer that wants greater profit, when he actually can not provide services that would offer him that.

I have also seen the absolute irrational demands and unrealistic expectations that customers often have, but because they are paying they think that they are entitled to them. The worse part is that they believe that they can treat the employees as they please, without considering that it could be their children in the future that will have to face obnoxious and rude customers like themselves. 

Your human and worker's rights are being demeaned by yourself, just so you can practice your consumer rights. Because when you use every mean to get what you think you deserve from a company, you unwillingly weaken the position of any worker by testing his patience and his skills. In fact your rights as consumer are getting more important than your human ones and that is because you expect more value and services for less money to feed your self importance. While it is clear that this system destroys our planet and exhausts our resources.

Bankers and economists are being given bonuses for the job they do, but a worker is not entitled to them. Of course a company must make profits to exist and that is for the benefit of both the employers and the employees. But the employers never seem bothered when giving bonuses to chief executives that cost thousands of euros for doing very little, but they get hot under the collar over the salary increase of the ordinary workers.

In the past I was working in a hotel in Greece and a German customer lectured me that if I was in Germany I would not be able to be so “relaxed” at work. I told him that I have done everything I was expected to do by that time. He replied that in Germany my employer would have me cleaning over and over my position in order to keep me busy. I replied that if my employer wants to see me busy then he should make sure that he brings enough customers in the hotel to keep me busy and I would be more than happy to work hard and serve them all.

It is his job to make sure customers keep coming by using marketing and organizing special events, or offering competitive prices. It is my job to make sure the service they are getting is within certain standards. If the customers are not coming to keep me busy then it is clearly his fault as it is within his responsibility to manage the place, not mine. Unless he offers me the salary and responsibilities of a manager then I should not take the blame.

In other words when a company is not going well it is often a bad management issue, but businessmen like to blame ordinary folk and their salary or working condition demands! If they managed their company well then they would succeeded. Greed and lust for quick and easy money is the main problem and this mentality is embedded in our culture now-days. So are you still supporting this economic model, now that you have seen what it does to you?