I See You

5 min read

in a time of universal deceittelling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

George Orwell

Global governance and global citizens surveillance are regularly discussed on alternative media but are almost completely ignored by the systemic ones. Lack of extensive discussion on these issues is indicative of people’s intellectual isolation.

It is also surprising that a great part of intelligentsia does not refer to global governance and surveillance either by ignorance or by a commitment to economism that dominates all discussions. It may also be out of fear of being considered as “conspiracy theorists” – in many countries suppression of originality and intellectual freedom is a common phenomenon.

However, international intellectuals such as the economist Norbert Häring, in his book “Die Abschaffung des Bargelds und die Folgen: Der Weg in die totale Kontrolle“, the peer professor at Paris VII Dennis Diderto, the former director of the Spanish edition of Le Monde diplomatique Ignacio Ramonet in his book ” L’ Empire de la Surveillance” refer to the restriction of individual freedom. Individual freedom is restricted through the use of electronic money (i.e. credit, debit cards etc) where all individual actions are recorded. Governments justify this surveillance by claiming that this way tax evasion will be “fought” but what is actually sought is the removal of dissidents by closing their bank accounts ( Häring ) and general electronic surveillance of all human activities (Ramonet).

Ramonet’s book is very interesting and I will refer to some of its parts. Ramonet mentions Edward Snowden’s disclosure regarding the secret program PRISM which was developed by NSA in 2007. ” This is the most colossal embezzlement of personal data in history, as it concerns billions of people in five continents who use Facebook, Gmail, Skype or Yahoo services on a daily basis. If over the last ten years, a person has used one of these companies, his data is certain to have been stolen and stored by the NSA under the PRISM program. “

All of us have more or less used the above services either by having given our personal data in an electronic form not only to Facebook etc but also to banks, supermarkets, state agencies, etc. These data are gathered in big database storages and the owner of these databases has complete knowledge of our activities and preferences. This looks like a nightmare that is going to become worse.

Ramonet also writes: “Chris Anderson, former chief editor of Wired magazine and founder of 3D Robotics, a company manufacturing robots, predicts that in the near future with the multiplication of drones there will be a million cameras flying over our heads. These drones will be based on life models. If one person has “life traits” that are similar to a person who is classified as “dangerous” then this person will be targeted and exterminated.His/her name will never become known: identification is less important than the physical extermination someone who looks like a “dangerous terrorist”.

The life traits mentioned by Anderson will not only be visual but they will obviously be combined with existing databases. It is easy to understand that in these circumstances there is no democracy since everyone can be killed under the suspicion that s/he is a terrorist. Who is going to warranty that there will not be classified as terrorists all that are against the existing system? Classified as terrorists then killed immediately without their name becoming known. An empire of absolute terror and control is created.

Ramonet emphasizes the role of TV ( I would include Netflix and all mass media) as a public opinion manipulation tool. TV functions as a domestic spy. “In the USA, for instance, Vizio electronics company, which is located in Irvine, California, is the biggest manufacturer of “smart” TVs which are connected to the Internet. Vizio has recently revealed that its TV sets were spying the users through the use of pre-installed technologies”.

Society is supervised and “a society that knows that is constantly monitored, it becomes, very soon, obedient and coward”. This probably is one of the reasons of society’s apathy. In my previous texts, I have referred to the research results of the sociologist Frank Furedi. This research has been conducted on University students who have stated that “freedom is not that important”. These statements of voluntary restriction of personal freedom coincide with what has Ramonet written: “63% of French state that they are willing to restrict personal freedom on the Internet to combat terrorism. French are the living example that shows that obedience issues have a long way to go”.

The modern man states that s/he is willing to restrict his/her freedom and will not hesitate, within this framework, to think that it is self-evident to restrict the freedom of others. Modern gossiping, privacy infringement, continuous surveillance on what others do, does not resemble the past where gossipers were coming from a low social background and their education was very poor.

A new type of human behavior has arisen. A behavior ” that mixes obedience, surveillance, voyerism and showing – off”. Voyeurism has been promoted by TV through tele-trash like Big Brother etc. where the spectator watches apathetically what others do. Showing – off, on the other hand, is seen everywhere despite economic crisis. Money adoration imposed by the economic system, makes money to be considered as the supreme good, the only one that gives “value” to people.

Surveillance has become a voluntary pursuit, there is the voluntary informer who watches and reports everything. S/he is completely unfamiliar with concepts such as solidarity and collectivity. As Ramonet writes ” one of the fourth generation war goals is the transition from an informed society to a society of informers”.  

Even citizen society organizations have become informers. In his interview, Julian Assange characteristically states: “I believe in the concept (civil society), but not in its reality. Most organizations of what is called ‘civil society’ are funded to become agents in the service of states or the biggest private companies. “

Everything described above are, obviously, nightmarish. Ramonet suggests as a solution codification/encryption and participation in TOR, WikiLeaks and LaQuadratureduNet as well as email programs such as Caliopen.

However, it is important to understand that modern authoritarianism of global governance that will use global surveillance, as a weapon, is ante portas. It is our duty as citizens by changing our way of thinking and acting to prevent it if we want to be free and not obedient slaves.

Fotini Mastroianni

 

Narcissism, economy and economic crises

Narcissism is considered by several scholars as the cause of the economic crisis. Many prestigious universities have been accused of breeding narcissistic leaders who in turn have fired the economic crisis with their actions. It is not just the universities but also enterprises that breed narcissists, people who do not have personal life and try to reach the hierarchy of the business by stepping over their subordinates and being “liked” to their superiors.

Narcissism has been spread across society.

The lack of respect towards the other, manifested by aggression and indiscretion, the deprivation and pursuit of publicity in any way, even with in a negative one, the exploitation of sex as a means of pursuing economic benefits, the arrogant behavior, the focus on the ego through seminars and activities exclusively for self-improvement, the complete indifference to a fellow man, the feeling of personal superiority, lies, devaluation of knowledge that is not “useful” in terms of the economic benefits that can bring to the individual, the envy and the feeling that others are envious – all of these are narcissistic features that are not limited to the level of leadership but have been spread as an infectious virus across society.

Narcissist is a person who has no ethical values and if a nation is made up of people who have no ethical values, then it can not be a nation interested in the freedom and equality of all its citizens.

Economy to function smoothly needs not only Adam Smith’s invisible hand and economic and social capital but it also needs values. Businesses, as smaller entities in society, that have a narcissistic organizational culture, a self-centered culture based on exploitation, have no moral identity. They may have various programs for ethics within the business but their mode of operation supports the contrary. It’s the narcissus epitome that wants to be moral but is not responsible.

Neoclassical economists have emphasized the autonomy and interests of the individual and have presented it as a rational being that seeks to maximize the benefits and can participate in economic decisions. However, the individual has been demoted to an economic unit that is in an imbalance between his/her wants and feelings and the reasons why s/he wants them. Balancing creates what is called a complete personality that narcissists do not have. The attachment to the Ego makes narcissists incapable of showing solidarity to the others or of taking care of the common good.

When society and the political and social system promote human dignity, in other words, the individual is not only regarded as an economic entity, but is considered a man of intellect and freedom who can freely exercise his/her rights as a citizen ,when society takes care of the common good, of the right to the well-being of every person and promotes solidarity, then this society creates moral values.

Regarding the economy, it has been found that not only natural resources and labor productivity are enough, but that the market system literally grows when it operates within an ethical framework where impunity is punished.

According to Colombo (2009), it is the lack of moral values that ​​causes economic crises. Lack of confidence creates unnecessary transaction tracking costs. A greater risk than necessary for people’s money (see the unethical and irresponsible behavior of banks) is undertaken, products that harm people are sold and scams are increased. Nevertheless, it is not enough to link moral values ​​to the economy to solve the problem, but a holistic approach that takes into account history, culture, political systems, technology and corporate governance should be adopted.

For some, narcissism is the result of capitalism, while for the advocates of capitalism, the free market system can not function properly if those in charge of decision-making have no moral values beyond their technical knowledge.

It is considered important to have four core values: prudence in the sense of having ability to distinguish the moral and technical aspects of a situation, fairness including honest and open communication and honesty in transactions, valence of defending the right,and finally, abstinence of temperance in the sense that the person holds his/her promises, is responsible and has personal integrity nm.
One might add more ethical values ​​than those mentioned by the scholars.

The discussion about ethical values has become. However, society has come to a dead end because of the lack of values and the existence of narcissistic attitudes. Will it be able to eliminate them and make a new restart in a healthier direction or is it too late?

References

Cessario, R. 2001. Introduction to Moral Theology. Washington, D.C.:Catholic University of America Press.Cohen, N. 2005. “We All Have Personality Disorders Now.” Newstateman18:30–31.Colombo, R. 2009. “A Crisis of Character.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.Dennehy, R. 2007. “The Illusion of Freedom Separated from Moral Virtue.” Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies 19, nos. 1–2:19–39.
Lasch, C. 1991. The culture of Narcissism. UK: Norton

Raymond Ibrahim talks with Fotini Mastroianni about Islam

RAYMOND IBRAHIM is a widely published author, public speaker, and Middle East and Islam specialist.  His books include Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West (Da Capo, 2018), Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (Regnery, 2013), and The Al Qaeda Reader (Doubleday, 2007).

Among other media, he has appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, C-SPAN, PBS, Reuters, Al-Jazeera, and NPR; he has done hundreds of radio interviews and some of his YouTube videos (here and here for example) have received over a million views each.

Ibrahim guest lectures at universities, including the National Defense Intelligence College, has briefed governmental agencies, such as U.S. Strategic Command and the Defense Intelligence Agency, provides expert testimony for Islam-related lawsuits, and has testified before Congress regarding the conceptual failures that dominate American discourse concerning Islam and the worsening plight of Egypt’s Christian Copts.


A blood splattered Christ statue and wall inside St. Sebastian’s 
Church in Sri Lanka ( AP ) – Source:
https://www.raymondibrahim.com/2019/04/25/359-people-were-in-pieces-easter-day-islamic-terror-in-sri-lanka/

Fotini Mastroianni: European churches are vandalized. This is an ongoing phenomenon. Mass media “hide” the vandalisms. Why do you think there is such secrecy on the matter?

Raymond Ibrahim: Because if the truth gets out, the official “narrative”—that Muslims are moderate and tolerant and that migrants need help and welfare—will be overturned. After all, people who willfully desecrate the sacred sites of their host country, and engage in all sorts of religiously (that is, “Islamicly”) inspired criminal activity, are not exactly the sort of people deserving of sanctuary or a helping hand.

FM: Islamic population in Europe has become aggressive to Christian symbols. However, European authorities are extremely tolerant on these actions. Why? Do you think there is a political agenda regarding this tolerance?

RI: Yes: although committed secularists, atheists, liberals, and leftists—and whatever other names they go by—and Muslims have very different values, when it comes to the cross of Christ, they are in agreement—that is, they hate it and its worshippers. Therefore, European authorities turn a blind eye to Islamic attacks on Christian symbols, from churches to crosses, since they themselves have great disdain for them. Remember: the enemy of my enemy is my friend. For militant secularists, the true enemy is not Islam—which still seems foreign, distant, and maybe manageable—but rather the Christian heritage and mores that surround—and apparently judge—them.

FM: Europe has accepted massive immigration flows from Asia and Africa, mostly Islamic. Greece, as one of the first entrance to Europe countries, has turned into a massive immigrant camp. At the same time, a number of European countries close their borders. What do you think will be the evolution of this situation?

RI: Certainly not good for Greece; under such circumstances it will soon

become inundated with Muslim migrants. Here’s the irony: for nearly a millennium, from the start of the Islamic conquests in the 630s until 1453, Greece—in the guise of the walls of Constantinople—was responsible for keeping the sword of Islam out of Eastern Europe. Yet today, it willingly takes in growing numbers of Muslims—not a few of whom exhibit and exercise that old Islamic hostility for Christian/European “infidels.”

FM: Have Christians become an animosity target? 6,000 dead Christians in Nigeria, the massacre in Sri Lanka make us think that Christians have become a target. Even the American Christian Orthodox priest Rod Dreher in his book “The Benedict Option” has written that Christians have become an animosity target even in the USA. Do you think that this is a correct perception?

RI: Yes it is. As mentioned above, Christians have historically had many more enemies than Muslims. These enemies have often and continue to make common cause with Muslims—due to their shared aversion for Christianity. This even has historical precedents; the primary reason that Christ-hating pagan Vikings enslaved Christians was to sell them to well-

paying Muslim caliphates. Moving to contemporary America, liberals and progressives who forever whine about traditional (“oppressive”) Christianity habitually make common cause with Islam—despite the latter’s truly oppressive qualities. Feminists denounce the Christian “patriarchy”—but say nothing against the Muslim treatment of women as chattel. Homosexuals rage against Christian bakeries for declining to make them a cake—but say nothing against the Muslim execution of homosexuals. Multiculturalists denounce Christians who refuse to suppress their faith to accommodate the religious sensibilities of Muslim minorities—but say nothing against the entrenched and open Muslim persecution of Christians around the world. As mentioned, the reason for these discrepancies is simple: For anti-Christian secularists in the West, “the enemy [Islam] of my true enemy [Christianity] is my friend.”

FM: You are a Copt of Egyptian origin. What is the current situation of Copts in Egypt?

RI: While Copts all throughout Egypt live daily with discrimination and minor humiliations, those in Upper Egypt are persecuted. They do not have enough churches and whenever a rumor arises that a new church may be opened—or that an old church might be renovated, or even that a home is being used as a church—local Muslims riot, attacking Copts and burning their homes. The abduction and forced conversion of Coptic girls is also a problem in many of these villages. Then, of course, there are the increasingly common Islamic terror attacks on Coptic

churches and monasteries, which in recent years have left several hundred dead and/or maimed—and exponentially more terrorized.

FM: Islam had had military encounters with Byzantium. The result was the Ottoman Empire which has resulted in an approximate 400 years suppression of Balkan countries which were mostly Christian Orthodox. The Ottomans wanted to conquer Western Europe. Do you think that Islamic population aggression towards Christian Europe stems from these times or is it a result of economic suppression of Asian and African countries by Western Europe’s colonization?

RI: It stems from those times. Present day Muslim hostility—not to mention the pattern of attacks on Christians and churches—virtually mirrors Muslim hostility of the past. The continuity is unwavering; economics and other “material” factors are not necessary to explain the hate and violence. This is documented on virtually every page of my recent book, Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West. For over a millennium, Muslims attacked Christians and Europeans, destroyed their churches, crosses, and icons, and enslaved and raped their women and children. And they did it all—and openly said they did it all—in the name of Islam, not economics or grievances. Today, plain-speaking Muslims, such as those of the Islamic State, also make clear that their hate and violence for Christians and other non-Muslims is a product of Islamic teachings, not economics, colonization, or other “grievances.” It is primarily Western politicians and media that cite those factors to explain away Islamic hostility and violence.

FM: Thank you!

Fotini Mastroianni

The Trolley Problem – Economy and Ethics

The trolley problem was proposed by Philippa Foot in 1978 and is a moral dilemma. According to it, five people are in danger of being killed because a trolley is heading over them. People can be saved if the driver pulls the brake and the trolley goes into the side street. On the sidewalk there is a man who if the trolley goes there, the man will be killed. The dilemma is therefore whether a driver chooses to kill one or five people, in other words, according to Bentham (1776), “the fundamental axiom is that the maximum happiness of the maximum number of people is the measure of right and wrong”.

It could be said that the decision to kill five versus one is a decision, which improves overall prosperity. Apart from the political issues posed by such a dilemma, a modern economic issue is also raised. Artificial intelligence will abolish 50% of jobs, according to published data, so 50% of human production capacity will be rendered useless. Therefore this will either be abolished by e.g. cutting social spending, wars, etc. as some argue or another solution should be found (basic income is a thought, although at the beginning). Should we only think on economic terms or should our thought be political and scientifically pluralistic to answer such a question?

Economists would ask that since total prosperity increases with the death of five, should a law be created for it? A law that would kill some people in order for the rest to survive? A law that would be supported by society as a whole? However, the problem for economists would be that policies of this kind are not Pareto (Italian economist 1848-1923) optimal, ie they are not policies that can help people positively and do not harm them because some other people will again be harmed. Should the elderly, the unemployed, the vulnerable groups that are “liabilities” for the economy be exterminated for the well-being of the others?

Economics can not respond to moral dilemmas such as the one that is raised by the trolley problem. It is the problem of overall prosperity but also of understanding and anticipating the reaction of people when they face moral dilemmas. The rise of pop economics, which began with the award of the Nobel Prize to Gary Becker in 1992 to extend microeconomic analysis into the study of human behavior and interaction, including the study of human behavior outside of the market that was peaked with Steven Levvitt’s famous book “Freakonomics” and Stephen Dubner to 2005, is a breakthrough for economics, but they do not answer moral dilemmas.

Fotini Mastroianni

Therefore, for issues that go beyond financial incentives but encompass the whole of mankind, it is wrong such decisions to be only the concern of economists but they should be part of a wider overall political debate.

Birth Deficit and Economic Growth

Fotini Mastroianni

Birth deficit concerns both demographers and economists. In my country (Greece) and I assume in other countries as well, the birth deficit is mainly treated with slogans and absurdities, avoiding a deeper analysis of the issue and its correlation with economic growth despite the fact that the age structure of the population impacts the economy.

selective focus photography of baby wears pink name tag

As birth deficit is defined as the birth of fewer than 2.1 children per family. It should be noted that at least one of these children should be a girl in order to make up for the mother’s reproductive capacity.
Although many emphasize that birth deficit in Greece is particularly intense at the time of the economic crisis, this does not correspond to reality. As early as the 1950s, there was a downward trend in births (2.3 children per family), in 1981 it reached exactly the limits of reproduction (2.1 children per family) and it has since been declining with small growth periods due to the return of Greek immigrants and repatriates and the entrance of economic immigrants. Greece may be a typical example of other European countries as well.

An important factor for the birth deficit was internal migration from rural to urban areas and the transition of society from rural to post-industrial. In traditional rural societies, parents’ low status, lack of education, the closed social environment, the largest residential area (houses with a yard) cause high levels of birth rates, while in post-industrial societies the improvement of women’s position and their educational level, their more frequent participation in social and economic activities, methods of contraception, income improvement, professional career accentuation rather than family life, reduce birth rates. In urban environments, the lack of living space (see apartments) has a negative effect on the creation of a family.

According to Schultz (1973), as parental income increases, the demand for more children decreases. At the same time, the transition to the post-industrial society is accompanied by a reduction in mortality and thus the aging of the population and the change in social trends. The acquisition of descendants for social recognition and self-esteem are no longer present, while the one- parent families and singles are increased and traditional families are reduced.

A key reason for the birth deficit in Greece and in other European countries in crisis is the minimal to non-existent support from the welfare state. Its complete collapse in the years of the crisis has aggravated the problem. Young people are not supported by the state to create a family because there are no measures to help them combine their education or professional life with the family. The family of the young people has undertaken what should be state care and helps them financially when it can because in the great crisis that we are experiencing the families can no longer support young people.

Greece was not an exception, but it coincided with the low birth rate of Western Europe.
The high birth rate according to relevant studies (Li & Zhang 2007, Li 2015) has a negative impact on the economic development of a country, especially in the poor countries, compared to the rich. On the other hand, it is argued that when a country has a large part of its population in productive age, the highest degree of productivity will cause economic growth. If the population is elderly, then existing resources are used in a less productive way and as a result economic growth slows.

What changes economic growth is the different behavior of the age segments of the population, ie young people invest more in education and fitness, while the elderly save and care for better healthcare. The population in productive age differs from the young and the elderly in the sense that they consume more than they produce (Bloom et al., 2001).

Based on the above, the lack of a birth increase strategy of the Greek governments and other Southern European countries, is largely in line with EU’s requirements. On the one hand, while there is a birth deficit and a shortage of a working-age population, the existing productive population is pushed το immigration. Given the fact that this productive population is also highly educated, their immigration reinforces other economies such as the German economy and others whereas on the other hand, massive masses of young immigrants (mainly males) are accepted in Southern European countries to fill the gap left of those who have emigrated.

This fact totally contradicts the economic theory of economic development. On the one hand, there is massive immigration from other countries whereas the domestic productive population that would help local economic growth is pushed to immigration. This policy is bizarre and certainly does not help economic growth of the countries under crisis.

Race to the Bottom and Tax Competition

Fotini Mastroianni

Globalization with the free movement of capital has increased tax competition amongcountries. Enterprises relocate their headquarters to neighboring countries that offer incentives for business relocation such as tax breaks. This phenomenon is called “race to the bottom”.

As a result, public revenue decreases and governments are forced to cut public spending since tax revenues become less, and at the same time they increase individuals’ income revenue tax, property taxes and consumption taxes.

Some do not object to this and support public spending cuts, but few check whether public spending cuts are really unnecessary because, as we know, many public expenditures such as, for example, on defense equipment, enjoy a “protection” policy. Supporters of public spending cuts (and the corresponding tax burden on individuals through privatization of social institutions, etc.) argue that public expenditure that supports social services, hospitals and schools reduces EU’s export competitiveness, but they do not take into account the 30% increase in exports in Western Europe in the 1950s and the steady 40% export growth since the 1960s. Consequently, reducing public spending on social care to rationalize the state budget and increase competitiveness is a myth.

Tax competition among countries, as mentioned above, transfers the burden of taxation into salaried labor, and therefore, tax evasion and corruption will increase. Moreover, the decline in purchasing power caused by the tax burden on individuals’ income persons is a disincentive for the so much-discussed growth.

One could argue that immigration could reduce the impact on social spending. This would be the case if migrants can find work and get taxed for their income, and thus their taxation would help to maintain social benefits. However, this would happen in an economy that could create jobs and migrants would have a high educational background. However, when immigrants have a low educational background and the host country is plagued by unemployment and economic crisis (as is the case with Greece), their budgetary costs (ie benefits and allowances received by immigrants burden state budget) are high, and so the taxes on the natives’ income will further increase.

A solution to tax competition, as proposed by some researchers, would be tax coordination among EI countries by introducing a single tax rate, but this is not possible due to the lack of political coordination among these countries. On the contrary, where there was some form of political co-ordination in the EU countries, it was usually at the expense of employees and in particular employees from peripheral countries i.e. the countries of Southern Europe.

Tax co-ordination, along with the fight against the huge tax evasion of multinationals, could be a means of fairer fiscal burden-sharing, and not by further burdening the permanently tax suffering employees and pensioners.

World War, Economy and Kondratiev Waves

Fotini Mastroianni

Nikolai Kondratiev was a Russian economist who was executed by Stalin in 1938 because he was opposed to the collectivization of the earth and because he claimed that capitalism would always return and will never die.

Kondratiev became known for his famous waves that last 50-60 years and which consist of the expansion, the crisis and the contraction upon which capitalism is renewed.

According to analysts around 2020, in the recovery of the fifth Kondratiev wave, the beginning of a new world war is estimated. The reasons for this war will be the intense competition mainly on raw materials and markets as well as on the multipolar distribution of military power among big countries. New forces will create a new hegemony.

Some researchers (Chase-Dunn and Podobnik, 1999) argue that the European Union led by Germany, with a 50/50 chance, will be involved in a global military controversy with the US in 2020, or the other possibility is the US- Japanese war. While Wallerstein (2000) argued that a war between Europe and Asia in the 21st century was most likely. Goldstein (2005) estimates the existence of war in 2025, while Boswell (1999) estimates it for the years 2010-2020.

It is a fact, however, that the conditions that have been shaped and are still shaped bring the Western world and mostly Europe, under constant pressure at all levels.

China and India are now emerging giants demographically but also economically, possibly also military, while the population in the West shrinks. Migration was thought to solve the demographic problem of the West and the problems in the pension system and will boost the economy through the market and real estate growth.

However, it has not been taken into account that in the downfall phase of the Kondratiev cycle like the one we are experiencing, which is characterized by shrinking jobs, there will be massive groups of unemployed (both locals and immigrants). Public budget will be burdened since the benefits given are much higher than the taxes paid. In addition, continuous automation causes further jobs shrinking and, therefore, redundant “working hands”, while through telecommunication the transfer of skills and knowledge is now very easy and fast so there is no need for “local working hands”.

Regarding the birth rate, newcomers in one country and their children have been shown to have birth rates lower than those of the natives (observed in Canada and in Greece with the entry of Albanian immigrants). The demographic problem in the West stems from the problems faced by the modern woman and has to do with both economic insecurity and non-protection of motherhood by the state (nurseries, maternity leave, etc.) and the instability of modern relationships (see divorce increase). On the other hand, the working environment is negative for motherhood. A population that is renewed and age distribution is smooth can bring some smoothness to the fall (winter) stage of Kondratiev cycles, and this goal can be achieved if there is a balance between personal and professional lives of women and young people in general.

Another solution to avoid the significant impact of the Kondratiev winter cycle is surplus capital of the rich countries to be invested in poor countries so as to contribute substantially to their development and economic growth.

Fotini Mastroianni

Maybe this way, it will be possible to avoid the world war predicted by analysts, which will be devastating to humanity.

Recommended Readings

Chase-Dunn C., Podobnik B. 1995. The Next World War: World-System Cycles and Trends. Journal of World-Systems Research 1/6: 1–47.Goldstein J. 1988. Long Cycles: Prosperity and War in the Modern Age. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Wallerstein I. 1984. Economic Cycles and Socialist Policies. Futures 16/6: 579– 585.

Internet sources


https://canadianfinanceblog.com/the-kondratieff-wave-tracking-the-past-or-predicting-the-future/#
http://www.johnbudden.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/OPTIMUM-ONLINE-SPRING-2016-CAN-KONDRATIEFF-CYCLES-GUIDE-US.pdf
http://wsarch.ucr.edu/archive/papers/c-d&hall/warprop.htm
http://escholarship.org/uc/item/9jv108xp#page-2

The Salt March – Economy, Identity and Collective Action

Fotini Mastroianni

Some may wonder why many economists are interested in scientific fields  such as social psychology, sociology, anthropology and philosophy. This preoccupation, however, is not something new.

The convergence of sciences helps us to understand decision-making and to implement a more comprehensive strategy in the economy. A series of articles show the involvement of economics with other disciplines among them the studies of George Akerloff, a Nobel Prize-winning economist.

In his study “Economics and Identity”, Akerlof has raised the issue of identity in economic analysis by integrating it into a behavioral model and demonstrating that identity can affect economic outcomes. He has studied gender segregation in the labor market, the distribution of work in the household and the finances of social exclusion and poverty.

He has argued that identity can explain why some people behave in a catastrophic way. The reason is they want to save a reduced self-esteem. It would be interesting to make a combinational thought at this point. In my previous articles, I was referring to an internalized cultural and ethnic inferiority that, in combination with the identity of Akerlof, is likely to be one of the reasons why political leaders, especially in countries under crisis, are constantly taking decisions about the economy that are devastating to the vast majority of the population. Surely, it would be interesting to explore more deeply this hypothesis.

At this point, the issue of collective action and identity should be examined. Corresponding  literature states that individuals are not encouraged to engage in collective action if there are circumstances where there are collective benefits but there are also individual costs. Especially in colonial and occupation conditions, the leaders of an independence movement must present a purpose that deserves to be served, but at the same time they must provide individuals with additional personal motivations that increase reputation. Identity based on ethnicity and the subsequent creation of national capital is very effective.

The income gap between the colonial and the occupied causes cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance exists when an individual’s beliefs are  overturned.
Since the colonial and the occupied as nations can not compete so as to have some  balance, only large-scale strategic peaceful collective actions under a dedicated leadership can overthrow the difficult situation of the occupied.

An example of a large-scale collective action was Gandhi’s salt march. “In 1930, Gandhi pioneered the well-known Salt March, “in which thousands of Indians walked nearly 200 miles to the sea as a protest for Britain’s monopoly on  salt. His role in this incident once again led to his arrest and imprisonment by the British, who hoped that in this way they would suppress the wave of protest caused by Gandhi’s  initiative. In contrast, Gandhi’s imprisonment has caused  further reactions by the British colonizers who eventually had to liberate him and, after having talked with him,  they have, to some extent, relaxed the relevant regulations concerning the production of salt “(Christodoulides, 2012).

Fotini Mastroianni

According to Akerlof, identity is a new type of externality. Externality is the effect of the actions of one or more individuals on the prosperity of another person or others. The impact of economic decisions is therefore extremely important for prosperity. But as it is  seen, the question that arises is whether these decisions will aim to overthrow the existing economic subordination and social unhappiness or there will be decisions that subvert this status but  presuppose the creation of collectivity, national identity and common purpose.

Low Salaries as a Factor of Attracting Investments – Another one Myth

Fotini Mastroianni

An argument that is prevailing in foreign investment discussion in Greece (and not only in Greece) is that labor costs are quite high (!) and therefore, they are deterrent to attracting foreign investment. In many cases, it is assumed that high labor cost may be the main obstacle to attracting foreign investment, possibly along with high taxation. The reality, however, denies this claim and makes it one of the myths with neoliberal origin.

The factors for attracting foreign investment are not just labor costs. Market size, extroversion, productivity, political risk, growth, and taxation, along with labor costs, are key factors in attracting foreign investment.

Λίστα Ελέγχου, Ελέγξτε, Σκεφτείτε, Ερευνήστε, Διάγνωση

Let’s see, what many researchers say about high labor costs. Generally, labor costs are seen as one of the most controversial factors for attracting foreign investment. Studies on the impact of wages on attracting investment are few and there is no agreement among researchers. Some argue that higher wages discourage foreign investment and some do not. Tsai (1994) concluded that high wages had a deterrent effect in the period 1983-1986 but not in the period 1975-1978.

Labor costs can be an important factor for some labor-intensive industries. At this point, one has to take into account the competition from developing countries that offer ample labor force to investors at low cost, however,  investors are not just interested in the cost. Greece’s labor costs are the lowest in the EU-15, but it is seen, this fact has not helped the country to increase foreign investment. The reason is that investors are more interested in education/training, skills, and productivity rather than labor costs (OECD, 1996).

Χαρτί, Επιχειρήσεων, Εγγράφου, Σύνθεση, Γραφείο

According to a research conducted by Hatem (1997) to multinational managers and international trade experts on the hierarchy of thirteen criteria for foreign investment, labor cost ranked 9th among foreign investment attractors while “political and social stability”  and the “quality of work” took the fourth and fifth place respectively.

Labor standards can improve these two factors, in the long run, they can even remove the negative effects of labor costs on attracting foreign investment. These standards include equal education rights for girls and boys because equivalence in education improves quality in education for future generations. Equality in labor rights among men and women is equally important for the human capital available to foreign investors. Equity in rights provides a sense of fairness for employees and thus increases productivity and improves work quality.

Labor cost should be considered within a country’s broader development framework based on its strategic planning, which should assess the role that labor cost will have in attracting foreign investment and, generally, the role that foreign investment will play in the overall growth of the economy. There are, however, other ways for an economy to compete rather than weakening labor rights, for example, an economy can increase its productivity by improving technology. At this point, it should be noted that an increase in productivity is suggested which is doubtful if low salaried employees can achieve it, on the contrary.

Ηigh salaries/wages do not constitute a problem for a country’s competitiveness once the country is able to “produce” high technology and its citizens can “absorb” new technologies.

However, the questions remain.

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Fotini Mastroianni

What is a country’s national strategy for competitiveness and attracting investment?
Why such a persistence in reducing labor costs when it has been proven that this does not only shrink purchasing demand but is also not an important factor in attracting foreign investment?
What kind of investment does a country want. Does it want an investment that requires cheap labor, thus competing with the developing countries of Africa and Asia? Or does it want investment that requires highly trained and productive workforce?

References

Agiomirgianakis, G., Asteriou, D., & Papathoma, K. (2003), “The Determinants of Foreign Direct Investment: A Panel Data Study for the OECD Countries.” http://www.city. ac.uk/economics/ dps/discussion_papers/0306.pdf.

Hatem, F. (1997), International Investment: Towards the Year 2001. United Nations, New York.

ODI (1997), “Foreign Direct Investment Flows to Low-Income Countries: A Review of the Evidence.” http://www.odi.org.uk/publications/briefing/3_97.html.

OECD. (1996), Trade, Employment and Labour Standards: A Study of Core Workers’ Rights and International Trade. Paris: OECD.

Tsai, P. (1994), “Determinants of Foreign Direct Investment and its Impact on Economic Growth.” Journal of Economic Development, 19(1), pp. 137-163.

Velde, D.W, and Morrissey (2004), “Foreign Direct Investment, Skills and Wage Inequality in East Asia” in Journal of the Asia Pacific Economy, Vol. 9, No. 3, pp. 348-369(22).

 

The Illusion of the American Dream

Fotini Mastroianni

The permanent message of mass media in Greece is the glorification of the neo-liberal economic model which supports that  the concentration of wealth in the hands of the rich people will be spread to the lower classes and thus create wealth for the whole society. But is that the case?

The USA  is a global superpower and has become the economic model for many countries. However,  many are unaware of the consequences of USA’s economic power for its own population, and in particular for the middle and working class.

USA flag on black rod

In the USA, the winners are the very rich, while the other social classes belong to the losers. In particular, for the period 1979-2006, the working-class income rose only 10% (in 27 years) while the middle class increased by 21%. 21% is not as good as it may seem because one has to take into account the smallest number of members that the American households,  therefore, the income per person seems to be  greater than it actually is. In fact, middle-class income rose by only 0.7% per year. At this point it should be borne in mind that the middle class is working much longer hours nowadays compared to  the end of the 1970s. Without these extra hours, the increase in US household income would be negligible. Respectively, the increase in income of the rich for the same period increased by 260%.man standing beside grocery rack

Regarding pensions, the middle class and working class are in a worse state. Employees  are increasingly burdened with the cost of their retirement, and the state-guaranteed pension is only for a few. Pensions are based on participation patterns like 401K where Americans put their savings. These schemes invest in mutual funds but may also include equities, bonds, etc. We can realize the  impact on pensions  that a fall of the  stock market could have, such as in 2007 and 2008, as well as the one that is predicted for the near future. As a result, many Americans run the risk of having little or no income in their pensionable years.

Futhermore, medical costs are another way to squeeze the income of the middle class and the working class because they have to  bear the insurance cost While employees spend too much on medical coverage ($ 7,290 per person in 2007 and 12,872 in 2018), the state has less doctors, nurses and hospitals per individual  than other wealthy countries. As a result, mortality, due to lack of early care in the United States, is very high and the ones who are over seventy-five years are at risk.

Someone may  claim that there is an American dream, so one can be born poor, but s/he can become rich in the course and thus escape from the aforementioned problems.

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Fotini Mastroianni

However, the figures are disappointing. In the 1970s, only one in seven could rise to the high income class whereas today is  one in ten. Those who belonged to the high income category of 1% of the American population were in the same category in the 1970s as evidenced by the heredity of wealth. Due to the accumulation of wealth, social mobility will be  more difficult for the lower classes.

The complete failure of the neoliberal model is  proven in the first country of its full implementation i.e. the USA. This model of complete misery for the middle  and working class is applied throughout Europe and Greece is no exception.