Terror…

These days are no very joyful days. The things that are happening in the world, coming out of Syria and Iraq, are worrying me and, I must admit, keeping me out of my sleep. Because the problem is complex.

5646ddfcc36188e1198b4602Saying IS/ISIL/Daesh does not worry me would be a profound lie. They keep me preoccupied. Where is our world going to? But at the same time, the reactions of our ‘leaders’ also worry me. The emphasis is solely on ‘war’. War generates hate. I do not believe in an all-encompassing solution just by waging war. Nor do I believe that war is avoidable. It is just that fighting and killing in itself will not resolve the problems.

What also worries me is the position of peaceful and righteous Muslims throughout the world. The terrorist acts by IS/ISIL/Daesh are a curse for them, as the latter pretend to do this in the name of Allah. That way, they effectively stir up anti-Islam feelings in the West and create a divide, where only more extremism can grow.

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Bataclan (Paris) – Eagles of Death Metal

Where I live I am surrounded by Muslims. I do feel very safe, thank you. They are generous, peaceful, helpful, compassionate people. They are very poor but even then I regularly get presents from them. Vegetables, prepared food, gifts.. With no other reason than me living and being here even though they know I am an atheist.

But still I am a bit angry at Muslims. They have been quiet for too long. They have allowed that the voice of the extremists, who make up just a tiny figure of their numbers (or – I dare say – are not even real Muslims), is reverberating throughout the world while they kept silent. Or fairly silent. Rarely they sent out a united and strong message to the world that they dissociated themselves from extremist views, that those terrorists are no real believers in Allah. That would lessen the fear for Islam in the West. That would counter the cries of the ever stronger right extremists. That would send a signal to the own Muslim youth that terrorism is not tolerated in Islam.

Poop
An Egyptian feminist artist defecating and menstruating on an IS/ISIL/Daesh flag

Some people argue that Muslims should not defend their religion and explicitly have to differentiate them in the public’s eye from jihadi’s, just like Christians do not have to defend their religion and differentiate themselves from the KKK and so-called Christian extremists. That would be true in an ideal world, but ours isn’t. They have the perception against them, there is a fear of Islam embedded in the West since the cruel crusades ordered by despotic Popes, and now there is the ever growing right extremist lobby just wanting to spread violence and hate like we knew in the forties.

I had many heated discussions with Muslim friends in the past years about their passivity. Sure, they should not be the ones to apologize for the actions of lunatics and misguided extremists who abuse the name of Allah for their own crooked goals. But they should have made clear to the world, already many years ago, including to their own offspring, that their religion has nothing to do with hate and bloodshed. So Muslims of the world: unite!

ashley dyball reece harding
Australians Ashley Dyball (left) and Reece Harding (KIA) fighting with YPG

In the past years I have read many stories of Western people, even untrained, joining the ranks of the Kurds and other anti-IS militia to fight the extremists. I have to concede that I always had an admiration for them. Last week I saw a documentary about the parents of Ashley Dyball, an Australian youngster of 23, trying to bring back home their son who went to Syria to join YPG (Kurdish freedom fighters) in their fight against IS/ISIL/Daesh. He blankly refused, as he felt his purpose in life was helping the Kurds. And I have to admit that in the past months, the thought of joining YPG – whatever the consequences as to danger, life or death, and possible judicial persecution when back in the EU – has come up more than once in my thoughts.

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Picasso (1951)

The US know their recent history where they have been defeated both in Afghanistan and Iraq, opposed to what they like to tell to the world. Ex president Mr. Bush jr. is the one that waged a war based on phony and concocted ‘intelligence reports’ of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq just to bolster his ego and show his dad he was not the looser his dad took him for. The result was a power-vacuum created in that region by the valliant Mr. Bush jr. where IS/ISIS/Daesh had no trouble in establishing its base.

European leaders are running around like beheaded chicken, they know something has to be done but without guidance from their American ‘friends’ they are divided and running off in different directions. And the only message they manage to get out to their citizens is one of war, hate and retaliation, without trying to remedy the causes at the same time and thus allowing this situation to eternalize.

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Cartoon after Charlie Hebdo shooting (Januari 2015)

Meanwhile, I am safe here. I do worry about my family and friends in Belgium and all over the world. Considering Belgians have to pay more than half their salaries in income taxes to the State, plus all other taxes this amounts to 2/3rds of their salaries going to their politicians, I guess they get the politicians they wanted and fully deserve them. And again, all this makes me happy to be out here nice and quietly.

Take care!

Love ❤️, Yann.

Das Vierte Reich?

das vierte reich
THE FOURTH EMPIRE

I know it is not very politically correct to ventilate these kind of thoughts, but I must admit that I already have these thoughts since many years… I do not resent nor condemn the current generation of Germans as being responsible for the things their country did in the past, even if I do know that even now, these days, many older homes in Germany, especially in the South, have pictures of the Führer hanging on the wall as was told to me by a former girlfriend who is an ambulant nurse for elder people in the German South country.

5reihs
“One empire – one people – one Euro”

But since ten years or so I have a fantasy that the ‘old German class’ of Aryans were about to reach their goal without bloodshed by forming and dominating the European Union. I admit it started as a far-fetched fantasy, but these days I get the worrying feeling this fantasy of mine is not just a bad dream but slowly becoming a horrifying reality.

What to say about a country that caused so many deaths, that staged two consecutive wars just because they thought it was their birthright to do so, which exterminated so many innocent people, amongst them a great deal of children, just because for them they were of the wrong race, the wrong religion, or just ‘different’, knowing that country never had to pay back its debts by causing so much harm and suffering? Germany never paid a dime in war reparations to the countries and people they harmed for their own misplaced glory.

Modified poster of Merkel’s election campaign: “My empire Europe”

And now this same country is the country that hammers on the condition that Greece fully has to pay back its debts. For the German leaders this is a sine qua non for Greece to stay member of the Eurozone. Admittedly Greece incurred those debts by mismanagement, by corruption, by a deficient administrative system. So much of the misery is provoked by the former political leaders of Greece.

But the common people of Greece are more innocent for the past policies of their politicians than the hordes of Germans before and during the Second World War who were jumping up and down to raise their right arm in the Hitler-salute as high as they could. The Greek political system did not lead to war, nor did it cause people to be gassed for their race, religion nor ideas. And still the Greek people have to suffer more for the mess their politicians made than the nazis suffered for the holocaust and deaths they caused.

MerkelnazieuroWhere is the logic? Where is the humility of a country with a horrifying past like Germany? Why is Germany so adamant in making the Greek people suffer? What is their hidden agenda? I might sound like getting paranoia, but seen from a distance, this ethical discrepancy does not seem acceptable any more if you look into the recent European history.

I do not believe our leaders are serving us, the common people any more. I do not believe politicians worry about us, the common people any more. I do not believe justice is unbiassed towards us, the common people any more. I do believe we need a peaceful revolution in our countries, where laws should be rewritten to restore equality, where politicians should be accountable for their words and deeds, and where freedom is a basic right that is respected.

angela merkelnAnd Germany? Maybe they should start paying the Greek debt they are so keen to insist on. The debts Greece made with our financial institutions who wanted to cash-in big gains, but were bailed out by our governments by the taxpayers – OUR – money so the banks could get richer.

anonymous government has failed youWe are Anonymous

We are legion

We do not forgive

We do not forget.

Expect us.

Love ❤️, yann.

Thank you Greece!

819298_1280x720Now the votes have been cast, and the Greek people clearly have rebuffed the austerity measures imposed on them by the troika, the dust of the avalanche caused by this purest form of democracy is slowly settling. European politicians are running around like headless chickens trying to pretend nothing major has happened, and many have changed their discourse 180° opposed to what they declared in the days before the Greek referendum.

“…and when you grow up, Angela, destroy Europe!” – A. Hitler embracing Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany.

Now more and more governments of the European Union say major debt relief should be a possibility for Greece, except for Germany’s conservative powers, led by Angela Merkel. This is very remarkable, knowing that the “Wirtschaftswunder” (economic miracle) of post-war Germany only happened because of the total debt relief given to Germany after the war.

Looking a bit further in the past we can establish that Germany never paid a dime of reparations to any country after their defeat in WW I. In fact, the severe and exorbitant demands of the victorious nations in the Treaty of Versailles were a direct reason for the rise of Hitler and the break out of the second world war.

Angela Merkel personifying Adolf Hitler, the way more and more Europeans see her

So we can conclude Germany never paid back its debts, not a single dime of it, but are now the ones imposing stringent measures on Greece and are the ones refusing any debt relief for Greece. German conservative politicians are the ones that are threatening the unity of the European Union, and are leading this Union into economic recession. Maybe Germany should be the country to leave the EU?

I have always been a strong advocate for the idea of a unified Europe, where borders cease to exist, where people are treated on an equal basis, where the people’s voice is the single strongest power in the Union. But politicians have hijacked this idea for their own greed, advancing the interests of corporations and financial institutions to the detriment of its inhabitants. All they proudly have to show us are realizations in the same order of magnitude as: “look at us, we managed to standardize the cellular phone chargers!”. Now, instead of having a drawer filled with different models of phone chargers, we have a full drawer with the same phone chargers, while the 1% get richer, and the normal people get poorer every day.

Mark Twain fool peopleTo Germany: today is at last payday. To Europe: NO THANK YOU anymore!

Love ❤️, yann

 

Greece: please vote NO!

Poster calling people to vote “NO” in the upcoming referendum on July 5th 2015

Whenever we watch, read or hear the news these days it is impossible not to see, read or hear something about Greece, the oldest democracy in the world. I do not want to find an explanation for the current Greek crisis, but there are some things I see, just as everybody can see them. And they are not very positive. Certainly not for the Greek people.

Poverty is at an unimaginable high, youth unemployment is soaring with more than 60% (!), and those taking the hardest hits are the elderly, the young people, the simple families, the workers. That makes me wonder what our politicians are all bickering about, when millions of children, women and men slide down towards total poverty at a hallucinating rate. Whatever your political conviction, if you have a heart you cannot ignore what is happening right now inside the European Union.

Mr. Dijsselbloem – Chairman of the Eurogroup. Yet another socialist politician who realized his real friends are corporations and their money.

Politicians of both sides, the Greek government on one side, the ‘Troïka’ (European Commission, European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund) on the other, are hitting the public with bolder and bolder statements, it looks more like a contest between mountain gorilla’s about the supremacy over the flock. And lots of what is told is just Ballyhoo to get us on their side, never mind the truth. Because the truth still is that millions of Europeans are suffering right now because of our politicians ineptitude to find a human solution for this crisis.

The ECB and EU are fast to point out they already spent billions and billions on the Greek economy. What the public is not aware of is that indeed, the ECB invested millions in the Greek economy, but it never benefited for more than 90% of these vast sums to invest in its economy. It starts to become a tiring and boring story, but the winners are again our banks. How come? Well, in the past the banks bought bonds from the Greek State, and as the Greek rating was low, the interest margins were very high. Now Greece is heading towards a total collapse, the EU and ECB decided to buy back these bonds from the banks who wanted to make nice – but risky – profits in the recent past.

soup kitchen in Athens
Solidarity soup kitchens are a normal appearance in Greece’s cities nowadays.

In short: our financial institutions wanted to earn good money by buying risky bonds, and when the risks of a collapse of Greece became too high, Europe bought these bonds from the banks (don’t worry, they got a nice deal) with our money, that we paid as taxpayers throughout Europe. So now our banks got out of the danger zone – yes, exactly those we spent billions on in a not-so-distant past because of the junk-bonds in their portfolio – and again our money we worked for was abused to buy these bonds. Stating that the ECB invested all those billions in the Greek economy is thus far from the truth. AND now the Greek people have to pay back these bonds to the ECB, bonds the financial institutions bought in the first place as risk-capital to make nice profits.

It is true, Greece has a long history of corruption, where taxes were often not collected, Greece has a humongous bureaucracy incomparable with any other European country, and there are so many more problems to be addressed without delay. But imposing higher taxes on pensions and increasing the TVA, just as the Troika demands, victimizes those who are in need today and strikes them with poverty. This is not in any way acceptable for me, as an European, and as a human being.

anonymous government has failed youOur politicians should stop their strategic and tactical games, interfering with the democratic process of a country where the people chose the government they wanted, and do what they are paid and chosen for: to help the ones in need, to solve the growing problems and to serve the people of Europe. But I guess this is not figuring on their agenda since they joined politics.

Love ❤️, yann.

 

p.s.: for those wanting some more detailed info, below is a list of recent quotes of renown economists and political analysts about the Greek crisis.

Joseph Stiglitz (Nobel laureate in economics): “I can think of no depression, ever, that has been so deliberate and had such catastrophic consequences. It is startling that the Troika has refused to accept responsibility for any of this or admit how bad its forecasts and models have been. But what is even more surprising is that Europe’s leaders have not learned”.

Martin Guzman (Columbia University): “The disparity between what the Troika thought would happen and what has emerged has been striking — and not because Greece didn’t do what it was supposed to do, but because it did, and the models were very, ver flawed”.

Peter Morici (University of Maryland): “Neither Germany’s finance minister, nor any other European government or competent private institution, has tabled a credible analysis demonstrating how more austerity and labor-market reforms (read more layoffs and wage cuts) will instigate growth and not result in even bigger losses for bondholders down the road. Another round of austerity would only further pummel the Greek economy, and impose economic deprivation that European leaders should be ashamed to engineer.”

Vicky Pryce (chief economic advisor at the Centre for Economics and Business Research): “The rescue that took place in the banking sector was really more of a rescue of northern European financial institutions that had exposed themselves to Greece. The concern about this particular debt is that all it did is it transferred this large burden to the Greeks.”

Paul Krugman (Nobel laureate in economics): “The Troika clearly did a reverse Corleone — they made Tsipras an offer he can’t accept, and presumably did this knowingly. So the ultimatum was, in effect, a move to replace the Greek government. And even if you don’t like Syriza, that has to be disturbing for anyone who believes in European ideals.”

Mark Weisbrot (co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research): “The confrontation between the new Greek government and the European authorities is the first time since the Great Recession that voters have successfully been able to challenge the Troika’s previously unaccountable power. Their policies have been widely unpopular in Europe, but this is the first government that is really forcing them to change. So European authorities continue to take steps to undermine the Greek economy and government, hoping to get rid of the government and get a new one that will do what they want”

Larry Summers (former US Treasury Secretary): “Greece is a failed state in waiting. Greeks have imposed more austerity on themselves than any industrialized country has suffered since the Depression.”

Flag_of_Greece

Count the sheep

sheep-hd-wallpapers-of-high-resolution (1)Since a few months I am struggling with a problem. It is more of an ethical problem. I have been providing work and thus income to two local families by employing them for the works around my house. But one day this will end, except for some occasional work in the garden or maintenance.

In the year-and-half I have been living here I got to know the people of my neighbourhood more intimately. The things that preoccupy them, the things that make them happy. But, as almost everywhere in Bulgaria, the biggest obstacle for people is the lack of work and money. Slowly I got more and more involved in the social life of my neighbourhood, and I felt more and more responsible for the well-being of those people who accepted me and helped me out whenever I needed them.

Shepherd-and-SheepSo the thought that one day I will not be able any more to provide work and income for them is a heavy burden that keeps my thoughts busy. Giving them work now and ‘abandoning’ them later on is not an option, but my financial possibilities are not unlimited. Today they were sitting, talking and having coffee on the street, and I joined them. I asked them if the keeping of a herd of sheep would be profitable, and if they could imagine themselves tending sheep in the future. Grass and food for sheep is abundant and free over here, and there is plenty to stock for the winter as not to incur costs to maintain those animals when kept inside from the cold.

They were rather enthusiast. Their grandfather was once a shepherd, and so they learned when young all there is to know about caring for sheep. A sheep costs about 100€ a piece. An ewe produces about 2 liters of milk a day, which can be sold at 50 cents per liter. Every year an ewe breeds two lambs, which can grow up and later on produce more milk and lambs, or can be sold for the meat at around 90€. Besides that every sheep gives wool that also can be sold.

So if I would purchase them some sheep, they would be able to breed them into a bigger herd year by year, slowly increasing their revenues. Eventually they would be able to be self-sustaining and even to repay the debts they have by me buying the sheep.

the shepherd and sheep dogs taking his sheep out to the fieldsFor now I will reflect a bit more on this possible solution, but it seems feasible and rather easy to me, since they are willing to convert themselves into shepherds. That way they would be self-sustained, and my conscience would be appeased by seeing them independent and earning their own money.

Maybe I should start to think about getting some crowd funding by people willing to invest in this project, enabling us to buy more sheep so these people can get more productive faster. That will also enable them to repay their debts earlier. And ensure a safe and worthy future for these open-handed people, despite them being poor.

Love ❤️, yann.

Count the sheep

sheep-hd-wallpapers-of-high-resolution (1)Since a few months I am struggling with a problem. It is more of an ethical problem. I have been providing work and thus income to two local families by employing them for the works around my house. But one day this will end, except for some occasional work in the garden or maintenance.

In the year-and-half I have been living here I got to know the people of my neighbourhood more intimately. The things that preoccupy them, the things that make them happy. But, as almost everywhere in Bulgaria, the biggest obstacle for people is the lack of work and money. Slowly I got more and more involved in the social life of my neighbourhood, and I felt more and more responsible for the well-being of those people who accepted me and helped me out whenever I needed them.

Shepherd-and-SheepSo the thought that one day I will not be able any more to provide work and income for them is a heavy burden that keeps my thoughts busy. Giving them work now and ‘abandoning’ them later on is not an option, but my financial possibilities are not unlimited. Today they were sitting, talking and having coffee on the street, and I joined them. I asked them if the keeping of a herd of sheep would be profitable, and if they could imagine themselves tending sheep in the future. Grass and food for sheep is abundant and free over here, and there is plenty to stock for the winter as not to incur costs to maintain those animals when kept inside from the cold.

They were rather enthusiast. Their grandfather was once a shepherd, and so they learned when young all there is to know about caring for sheep. A sheep costs about 100€ a piece. An ewe produces about 2 liters of milk a day, which can be sold at 50 cents per liter. Every year an ewe breeds two lambs, which can grow up and later on produce more milk and lambs, or can be sold for the meat at around 90€. Besides that every sheep gives wool that also can be sold.

So if I would purchase them some sheep, they would be able to breed them into a bigger herd year by year, slowly increasing their revenues. Eventually they would be able to be self-sustaining and even to repay the debts they have by me buying the sheep.

the shepherd and sheep dogs taking his sheep out to the fieldsFor now I will reflect a bit more on this possible solution, but it seems feasible and rather easy to me, since they are willing to convert themselves into shepherds. That way they would be self-sustained, and my conscience would be appeased by seeing them independent and earning their own money.

Maybe I should start to think about getting some crowd funding by people willing to invest in this project, enabling us to buy more sheep so these people can get more productive faster. That will also enable them to repay their debts earlier. And ensure a safe and worthy future for these open-handed people, despite them being poor.

Love ❤️, yann.

Where is our money!!??!!

What we already knew since quite a long time, has been reconfirmed by the latest OECD-report published on the 14th of April 2015: Belgium has the honor to be the absolute number one of all OECD member states regarding tax burden on labour.

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OECD member states (dark blue)

The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) counts 34 member states and was founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade. Most member states have high-income economies and are regarded as ‘developed countries’, whatever that means. Every so often the OECD produces comparative studies about its member states.

Belgium is the only state where the tax burden on labour is higher than 50%. Still it has amassed in the past decade a public debt larger than 100% of its Gross National Product. True, the Belgian citizens get a lot for their hard-earned money that is left to their politicians’ care. Belgium counts a bit more than 11 million citizens, making it about the same magnitude as London or New York.

Of course Belgian has the greatest educational system of the ‘civilized’ world. Poverty is almost non-existent, old people are pampered in modern elderly care, and medical services are top shelf. The roads are plentiful and state of the art equipped with the most advanced technologies, and public transport is abundant and cheap. Justice is fast and just, the laws are clear and unbreakable. Sorry, I’m just being sarcastic… None of these statements could be further from truth.

Schools are chronically understaffed, their buildings outdated and some classes happen in rooms unfit for the purpose because of bad heating, crumbling ceilings, old furniture and dangerous electric lines and plumbing. Some schools had to place containers to take in the growing number of students in the past, and these are still in use more than ten years later. The school system is severely understaffed. Every year again we can observe the price of our underfunded schooling system when parents can be seen camping outside schools during a week to be the first to get a ticket earning them the right to enroll their children later on in that school, as the system is on a first-come-first-served basis.

disappearance_of_poverty_265465Talking about poverty and schools, more than 2000 young people are registered as students at a Belgian university while being homeless, on a total of a little bit more than 200,000 students, meaning that 1 in 100 students doesn’t have a roof over it’s head. They manage to get along by sleeping on the couch of a friend, or by spending their nights under the streetlights. Nothing much is done about this forgotten group that clearly wants to climb out of misery by studying against all odds and despite the hardship of their existence.

The streets of the bigger Belgian cities count too many beggars and homeless people. The state could not care less, except letting the police arrest them from time to time without any structural view of a solution for those people. If it wasn’t for some private organisations taking care of them with the limited resources they manage to raise via private funding, those living under the poverty line would be off worse. And even then many in need are not reached, between them a lot of children. One child in five is said to be living in poverty, where their parent(s) does not have sufficient income. In the past years poverty in Belgium has risen by 30%. Nothing much about them is done by the politicians.

More and more elderly people end up in poverty, for there is a great demand for but not enough elderly care, like affordable elderly homes and sufficient social and medical services. Yearly elderly assistants are protesting in the streets of Brussels because they are understaffed and funds are cut every year over again. Nothing much is done for them by the state.

As more and more medical services converted to private undertakings, where the making of profit is the first and foremost goal of these ventures, costs have steadily risen. When being included in the hospital the front desk asks new patients if they are covered by an extra medical insurance. If not, all services are provided at the prices dictated by the government. If they are, then the patients are charged with excessive surpluses for a room, and the bills for the consulting doctors are three- to fivefold the normal charges. Forgetting that those extra charges will have to be paid collectively by the people taking out a medical insurance, making it impossible for every one to afford such an insurance. But understaffed clinics are rife, and social workers and elderly assistants are joined in their protest by nurses. Still nothing much is done by the politicians.

The Belgian roads count the most traffic jams in the whole European Union, gladly overtaking The Netherlands who held that dubious honor in the past. In a country that encompasses a mere 300 kilometers at it’s longest point, mornings with 150 kilometers of simultaneous traffic jams are not uncommon. The public transport system is a little disaster, yearly budget cuts are rampant and trains often do not run on schedule. Getting around the country with trains, busses and trams is an adventure in itself and a sure way to provide a daily excuse to your boss for your tardiness at work. Nothing much about that is done by the politicians.

Belgian justice is… surprise!: heavily understaffed. A murderer caught red handed can spend more than three years in jail before appearing before court, some divorcing couples have juridical fights during more than ten years, and financial fraud cases are usually delayed with great priority for more than 15 years until barred. New laws are voted every day by 500 members of parliament, often contradicting previous ones, adding to the confusion needed for politicians, multinationals and the one percent to find the necessary loopholes to conduct their business in all legality. Many cases in front of courts are dismissed because of procedural errors, because the specialists in law – being the judges – cannot find their way in the labyrinth any more. Of course judges and legal staff are often protesting. Nothing much about it is done by the politicians.

polyp_cartoon_charity_aid_trade_exploitation_sweatshop_cash_crops_wealth_poverty_mediaSo where is all that money going? Could it be that having a government with prime minister, ministers, secretaries of state, members of parliament, political appointees, staff, parliament buildings, etc.. for less than 2 million people is a bit too much? You thought that Belgium counted more than 11 million citizens? It does. Only the Belgians have 6 fully working parliaments and governments, each with their powers, often overlapping each other. Added to that a purely representative royal family costing the Belgians millions a year, for they have right now officially two kings and two queens. In 2014 they boasted three queens! Each with their rightful endowment in accordance to their title. Plus the rest of the royal family who’s not supposed to work for a living, even when not in line for succession of the throne, thus needs a yearly budget.

Of course the politicians are working hard. Too bad the people being robbed of their income are not getting much return for their money. Last year the politicians proudly announced they found a solution to a poignant problem burdening their voters: couples finding no agreement for the names of their newborn children will now give both their names to their kids. What an advancement for the people! I think that when parents cannot come to an acceptable agreement about the last names of their babies, they should abstain from fucking and having children in the first place! Especially in view of the many problems in the future they will have to come to an agreement about the education of their kids.

Meanwhile the Belgian public is slowly molded into believing they really need those F-35 jet fighters. The cost is negligible, a mere 5 billions (projected) for the protection of this grand nation with 40 pieces of nuclear capable fighters. Because they need to be capable of carrying nuclear weapons. Belgium doesn’t have them, the USA did not stock them on the air force base of Kleine Brogel, but still they really need them. In case of war with IS, Al Qaeda, China or a soon-to-be-made but yet unknown new enemy. Those 5 billions are sufficient to eradicate all poverty in the whole Kingdom of Belgium three times over, but hey, those people are no real players on the political nor commercial market, and they do not represent a true commercial value for multinationals, so why should they invest that much in them when this offering to the Americans could gain a nice political appointment with NATO or something in the future?

Nothing much about it is done by the Belgians…

Well, that is not quite true, Belgians often choose one of the three following options. Most just endure the hardships and let them be robbed of the biggest part of their income (I did not yet mention that the 50-plus percent only takes into account the tax burden on labour, but there is also TVA, different levies, and a whole range of taxes bringing the total to 67% of the income being taxed by the state). They abide by the rules, by the newly imposed taxes because they believe the politicians when they tell the people they are working unselfishly hard for the profit of the citizens. And they allow the politicians to set them up between each other, brothers against sisters, left against right, workers against owners, natives against immigrants, Christians against Muslims, so that their leaders have their hands free to conduct their dark schemes behind the curtains. Protests between those people are tame, and ineffective.

Other Belgians realize ‘the American Dream’ by joining the one percent. Most of them purely by inheritance, some by working hard, getting a brown upper lip or sore vagina, and all by bending the rules and finding loopholes in the law.

Slowly a non-negligible group of Belgians decided to leave the country and find their luck elsewhere. In 2013 more Belgians have left the country than immigrants entered the country. The drama is that those Belgians leaving the country are often well educated, have bigger financial reserves, or consist of young people hence providing a good working force abroad. Their leaving numbers are often replaced by refugees, people in need, and persecuted minorities. A cultural enrichment for every country, but still needing a big investment before they can take part in the economic life of their new homeland. While those leaving take all the years Belgium invested in their education with them abroad.

Belgian politicians of every affiliation, shame on you!

Love, yann ❤️

The God of the Black Hole (AKA Belgian Treasury) appeased?

download (1)In their struggle to keep the electorate happy, politicians shun no means to reach that goal. Lying and deceiving are the standard ways to put the citizens on the wrong foot. What effectively is done about real problems is not the issue, perception is everything.

Last week the Belgian Minister of Finance launched a new proposal to tax the rich. Belgium has been in a kind of uproar since the appointment of the current government because – just like all the legislatures before them – they raised taxes for the ordinary people. These are protesting the fact that no contribution is made by the big companies and the rich, which are – as we know now – exempted from taxes via ‘rulings’ offered by politicians via the Belgian IRS. These rulings were kept secret from the general public for a long time, but after ‘LuxLeaks’, the leaking of documents about tax exemptions for companies and the rich in the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg, reporters found out that Belgium also offers special treatments to those who have too much money to pay.

Tax-RichUnions in Belgium have taken a categorical stance against extra taxes for the working people while the rich do not contribute. Neither do they pay any taxes, but that is beside the point in this plea. The slightest disagreement with the government nowadays leads to actions by the unions, just because they do not appreciate the way the government is taxing the less-than-rich (except the unions, but they are rich).

corporation_cartoon_talk_things_outFortunately we have politicians to solve the problem, or rather to change our perception of the problem. The Minister of Finance declared that a withholding tax of 25% would be imposed on all foreign funds held by Belgian citizens. The Cayman Islands being a renowned tax haven for shady wealth, the tax was promptly baptized ‘Cayman tax’. The latest estimate of the wealth parked in foreign tax havens by our reverent Minister was in the order of 60 billion euros. The cautious estimate of specialists in this matter is the quadruple of that sum. But hey, you can’t be too strict on those people having to immigrate their money to get some yields less-than-rich can’t get.

Mark Twain fool peopleWe are talking about a ‘withholding tax’, that means that interests and dividends are taxed, not the original sum. The government is pleased that the new tax will enable them to make a ritual sacrifice to the God of the Black Hole of Belgian Treasury of 460 million euros per year, to start in 2016. I do not know on what yield those numbers are based, but I can only guess that the actual yields achieved by those 60 billions are far higher than 4% (the average yield when renting out property in Belgium). When I calculate with the minimal 4% yield (by interests and dividends), a taxation of 25% on those gains would result in 600 million euros of taxes. So somewhere the line already 140 million euros have disappeared even if we calculate with the cautious prognosis of 4% yield achieved by investing those 60 billions. Count on politicians to make money disappear even before they can put their hands on it!

The sum of 460 million represents 0.0077% of the total wealth parked off shore by Belgians (as estimated by the brave Minister).  Does the revolutionary Minister believe the Belgian public opinion will be appeased by the ‘bloodshed’ his new ‘Cayman tax’ will cause within the ranks of the wealthy? He does, and in the end, I fear I have to admit he will be right…

Keep on smiling! ? yann

anonymous government has failed you

They have no shame

In a Belgian newspaper appeared today an article about poverty among children in Belgium. The data are from 2012, and concludes that in that year, 16,7% of the youth under 18 lived in a family that had an income lower than the poverty threshold.

n-CHILD-POVERTY-large“Despite the global impact of the crisis the poverty levels in Belgium have remained stable, but the poverty risk for youth has slightly increased(..)” states a report from the Ministry of Social Security. “40% of the single-parent families live in poverty, but without child support and other tax benefits that number would amount to 60%”.

“These numbers clearly depict the importance of an efficient battle against social exclusion”, states the Secretary of State for Poverty Reduction and Equal Opportunities.

And me, I just grew silent by those numbers and statements.. And moments later, I felt the indignation grow inside me. How can a Secretary of State talk about ‘an efficient battle’ when so many families are victims of our hunger for profits? How can the Belgian people accept their leaders as competent and trustworthy when they are considering buying F-35 jet fighters for 5 billion euros, while so many people do not even have the right and means for a respectable and fulfilling life? Don’t they have any shame???

child-povertyMaybe the numbers are a bit too elusive for everyone to grasp. Suppose your kids are in a class of 25 pupils. Well, 4 (FOUR!) kids in that class live under the poverty threshold.. Is that in any way acceptable to you, while your kids at home are bickering between each other whose turn it is to put the plates and cutlery on the table for your nicely cooked evening meal? And if your kids go to University, remember that some of their co-students are homeless, for there are no less than 2400 homeless students in your little kingdom.

How can it be that you, the citizens of one of the richest countries in the world, pay the highest taxes in the whole wide world, and the politicians still manage to embezzle your trusted funds to provoke another deficit on the balance sheet, while some rich people (the 1%, remember) and multinationals get secret deals with the Belgian IRS getting exemptions on taxes everybody else has to pay, and while other people – including kids – are living in poverty? How can it be that you are so cowardly to shut up, just do your duty and vote, pay your taxes like obedient children, and just let this happen in your own back yard? While knowing that there are others, ‘the happy few’, who maximize their profits on the weakness of the people and just get richer and richer every day in a “legalized” way. And you even continue to march along when politicians break the news – with their grave and saddened faces – that taxes will be raised again for some more deficits need to be cleared.

your fear is their powerAgain, this horrible observation just confirmed my determination to pay never again taxes to the financial black hole called Belgian State. Every nation deserves its politicians, and I can confirm you deserved right. Go on putting the blame on the blacks or East-Europeans, the Muslims or Jews, the left or right wingers, the small business owners, the workers, or whomever, you are just playing the game the politicians want you to play for their own sake. And for their filled bank accounts.. Meanwhile be happy and don’t give a damn, the banks conduct business as usual and surely they can count on you if things go bad next time as you helped them out the time before? I am just happy in exile ?

Love, yann ❤️

They have no shame

In a Belgian newspaper appeared today an article about poverty among children in Belgium. The data are from 2012, and concludes that in that year, 16,7% of the youth under 18 lived in a family that had an income lower than the poverty threshold.

n-CHILD-POVERTY-large“Despite the global impact of the crisis the poverty levels in Belgium have remained stable, but the poverty risk for youth has slightly increased(..)” states a report from the Ministry of Social Security. “40% of the single-parent families live in poverty, but without child support and other tax benefits that number would amount to 60%”.

“These numbers clearly depict the importance of an efficient battle against social exclusion”, states the Secretary of State for Poverty Reduction and Equal Opportunities.

And me, I just grew silent by those numbers and statements.. And moments later, I felt the indignation grow inside me. How can a Secretary of State talk about ‘an efficient battle’ when so many families are victims of our hunger for profits? How can the Belgian people accept their leaders as competent and trustworthy when they are considering buying F-35 jet fighters for 5 billion euros, while so many people do not even have the right and means for a respectable and fulfilling life? Don’t they have any shame???

child-povertyMaybe the numbers are a bit too elusive for everyone to grasp. Suppose your kids are in a class of 25 pupils. Well, 4 (FOUR!) kids in that class live under the poverty threshold.. Is that in any way acceptable to you, while your kids at home are bickering between each other whose turn it is to put the plates and cutlery on the table for your nicely cooked evening meal? And if your kids go to University, remember that some of their co-students are homeless, for there are no less than 2400 homeless students in your little kingdom.

How can it be that you, the citizens of one of the richest countries in the world, pay the highest taxes in the whole wide world, and the politicians still manage to embezzle your trusted funds to provoke another deficit on the balance sheet, while some rich people (the 1%, remember) and multinationals get secret deals with the Belgian IRS getting exemptions on taxes everybody else has to pay, and while other people – including kids – are living in poverty? How can it be that you are so cowardly to shut up, just do your duty and vote, pay your taxes like obedient children, and just let this happen in your own back yard? While knowing that there are others, ‘the happy few’, who maximize their profits on the weakness of the people and just get richer and richer every day in a “legalized” way. And you even continue to march along when politicians break the news – with their grave and saddened faces – that taxes will be raised again for some more deficits need to be cleared.

your fear is their powerAgain, this horrible observation just confirmed my determination to pay never again taxes to the financial black hole called Belgian State. Every nation deserves its politicians, and I can confirm you deserved right. Go on putting the blame on the blacks or East-Europeans, the Muslims or Jews, the left or right wingers, the small business owners, the workers, or whomever, you are just playing the game the politicians want you to play for their own sake. And for their filled bank accounts.. Meanwhile be happy and don’t give a damn, the banks conduct business as usual and surely they can count on you if things go bad next time as you helped them out the time before? I am just happy in exile ?

Love, yann ❤️