Europe

Hyperinflatie, onzin of mogelijk al onderweg?

Veel kleine beleggers, crypto-bezitters en huizenbezitters kloppen zichzelf op de schouders vanwege hun sprookjesachtige rendementen. De werkelijkheid is wat minder florissant. Volgens sommigen dreigt hyperinflatie.

Economische relativiteitstheorie

We zijn gewend om de waarde van alles in geld uit te drukken. Euro’s, in ons geval, of Usaanse dollars aan de overkant van de grote plas. Dus als de prijs van iets in euro’s uitgedrukt stijgt, is dat een waardestijging. De vraag is, of dat terecht is. Zimbabwanen kunnen daar over meepraten. Zo is, uitgedrukt in Zimbabwaanse dollars, in 2008 de economie van Zimbabwe fabelachtig hard gegroeid. Een brood kostte een paar biljoen Zimbabwaanse dollars.

Was het slim om een bakkerij te beginnen in Harare in 2008? Niet bepaald. Met dit geld kon je als Zimbabwaan namelijk niet veel meer dan een sigaret rollen, of het vuurtje onder je kookpot met een armoedige maaltijd aanmaken. Alhoewel dit hoogste biljet ooit uitgegeven, nu curiositeitswaarde heeft en gewild is onder verzamelaars. Dit verschijnsel noemen economen hyperinflatie. De oorzaak van hyperinflatie is altijd de uitgever van het geld, meestal de overheid of centrale bank. Zo devalueerde de sestertie in het Romeinse Rijk, omdat de keizer steeds meer zilver verving door koper.

Op een gegeven moment was elke Zimbabwaan multimiljardair met dit biljet van 100 biljoen. Erg blij waren ze niet met deze hyperinflatie. Copyright: Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe/Munthandel Oost Brabant. Source

Geld: geen erts maar vertrouwen

Geld is niet meer dan een ruilmiddel, een rekenformule. Zoals het voorbeeld van Zimbabwe (en Duitsland in de twintiger jaren, en Hongarije vlak na de oorlog, China vlak voor de communistische machtsovername, enzovoort, enzovoort) laat zien, is de waarde van geld niet absoluut. En is het voor een overheid in nood erg verleidelijk om de binnenlandse geldkraan flink open te draaien. Om geld bij te drukken hoef je namelijk geen belasting te heffen. Geld bijdrukken is een sluipende vorm van belastingheffing. Immers, hoe meer geld er is in verhouding, hoe minder het waard wordt. Dus met jouw bankbiljet kan je dan minder kopen. Met inflatie belast je iedereen, ook de vrek die zijn spaarcentjes onder zijn hoofdkussen heeft verstopt.

Gaan de Eurozone en de USA de hyperinflatie van Zimbabwe volgen?

Het monetaire beleid van de Europese Centrale Bank is roekeloos. Op dit moment kent de ECB een negatieve rente. Dat wil zeggen, dat je geld toe krijgt als je euro’s leent van de ECB. Zakenbanken doen dat dan ook grif, en kopen daarmee aandelen en grondstoffen. En onroerend goed, vooral woonhuizen. Door de toenemende vraag wegens dit goedkope geld, stijgen hiervan de prijzen. Wat superwinsten voor de rijken oplevert. Immers, ze verdienen zowel aan de koerswinst, als aan de negatieve rente. Kassa!

Dit verklaart ook, waarom aandelenkoersen en de vermogens van multimiljardairs pijlsnel stijgen. Dit ging een tijdje goed. Maar begin 2021 is deze inflatie nu ook de reële economie aan het bereiken. Zo zijn de Nederlandse huizenprijzen in 2020 11,6 procent gestegen in het coronajaar 2020. Let wel, in een jaar waarin de economie fors kromp met 3,8 procent. Ook het voedsel en andere basisbehoeften worden nu duurder als gevolg van de gestegen grondstofprijzen. De energierekening was al enkele jaren aan het stijgen.

Hyperinflatie?

Van steeds meer goederen worden de reële kosten flink hoger. Op zich is het niet erg als de prijzen van luxe-goederen stijgen. In veel opzichten hebben we al meer rijkdom dan goed voor ons is. Vervelend wordt het als eerste levensbehoeften snel duurder worden. Een skivakantie minder, of een paar jaar langer met je meubels doen, is geen ramp. Met een hongerige maag of rillend van de kou naar bed moeten gaan, wel. Laat staan, dat je de ziekenhuisrekeningen van je familie niet meer kan betalen. Helaas is dit het meest waarschijnlijke scenario. Inflatie heeft namelijk de vervelende eigenschap, van de top naar beneden te sijpelen. Uiteindelijk komt de zwarte piet bij de armsten terecht.

The continent that doesn't exist

The world, we learned in school, has seven continents. America (sometimes divided into North and South America), Africa, Europe, Asia, Oceania and Antarctica. But is this classification correct?

What are Continents?
The Earth's surface is divided into land, sea and a varying amount of ice, including land or sea. In the case of Antarctica, this country is sometimes below sea level. In general, continents are large islands (Australia, Antarctica) or near-islands connected to other continents by a narrow isthmus (Africa, the Americas). These continents usually coincide with one or more plates of the earth. Africa, South America and Australia, for example, consist of one plate. North America consists of one large plate, with some small plates (the Juan de Fuca plate and the Cocos plate) as well as the Caribbean plate being pushed in the opposite direction by tectonic forces. Which explains the existence of California's Sacramento Valley and its many earthquakes.

However, something strange is going on with Europe and Asia. There is no clear geographic division between Europe and Asia. The Urals, often seen as a border, are a medium-high mountain range. The Alps and Pyrenees, even the Andalusian Sierra Nevada massif, are much higher. There is no European or Asian record. There is, however, a huge Eurasian plate, which borders the small Arabian plate and the Indian plate. This small plate continues to drill into the Eurasian plate. That is why the Himalayas are the highest mountain range in the world. The extreme east of Asia (Eastern Siberia) consists of a piece of North American plate. See card.

Physiogeographically, Europe does not exist. It makes more sense to speak of India, or Arabia as a continent, than of Europe. Source: Wikimedia Commons

The changing borders of Europe

Physiogeographically, Europe is therefore a continent that does not exist. At most you can speak of a European peninsula. Only the supercontinent Eurasia exists. But not only that. The boundaries of what belongs to Europe and what belongs to Asia have also changed time and again over the years. The only limit agreed upon by the classical Greeks and Europeans today is that Europe is west of the Bosphorus and Asia is east of it. Asia was the ancient Greek name for Anatolia, a concept that eventually absorbed every part of Eurasia that was not counted as “Europe”. The ancient Greeks considered the Don, a Russian river that flows into the Black Sea, as the eastern border of Europe. The border of Europe has thus moved about a thousand kilometers to the east since Greek times, and now supporters of Turkey's accession to the EU like to count Anatolia as part of Europe. Russia is in turn 'non-European'. Cyprus, although well to the east of the Bosporus, is traditionally considered part of Europe. Israel is participating in the Eurovision Song Contest. Geography doesn't always make sense.

Europe as a cultural concept
The inhabitants of the European Peninsula liked to see (and see) themselves as different from the rest of the world. In that case, inventing your own continent is a logical step. The Greeks saw themselves as different, and exalted, above the Asiatic "barbaroi," like the Persians. This sense of superiority, which is not unique in the world, was maintained and reinforced by religious differences. Until the colonization of the Americas and Australia, Europe was the only predominantly Christian continent. Europeans more often have physical features, such as lighter hair and blue or gray eyes, which are rare or never seen elsewhere in the world. The step was then small to assume superior intellectual skills as well. And with this a natural right to rule.

Goodbye Europe, welcome Eurasia. Source: freeworldmaps.net

Eurasia: a better concept
It makes no sense to give Europe a more special status than, for example, South East Asia or the Indian subcontinent. In many ways, South East Asia is a mirror image of Europe, with Japan roughly playing the role of Russia's British Isles and China. Since China is proportionately much larger than any European country, China's role is of course much more dominant than even Russia's in Europe. But just like Europe, South East Asia is a culturally coherent area.
It is therefore better not to see Europe as a continent, but as part of the supercontinent Eurasia. That also makes the discussion about the accession of Russia, and Turkey, to the European Union a lot easier. Both are Eurasian states. In principle, the EU can merge with the Eurasian Union and eventually even with India and China. In short: think bigger. Think Eurasian.

Is Islamism legitimate and different from jihadism?

Where countries such as Sudan and the United Arab Emirates are moving away from the most controversial aspects of the Islamic legal system of Sharia, Islamism is emerging in the Netherlands and Belgium. According to a group of predominantly “progressive” opinion formers, we must distinguish between Islamism and Jihadism. Where jihadism is seen as criminal, because: calling for violence, this group sees Islamism as a legitimate political movement. Are they right? What is Jihadism and What is Islamism?

What is the difference between Islam and Islamism?
Islamism is a neologism which basically amounts to "political Islam". Traditionally, there was only Islam, which contained both personal and political elements. In Sharia there is no distinction between the personal and private domain. The hadith (traditions) of a political nature, such as the prescribed penalties and marriage laws, are in the same book as the hadith of a personal nature, such as the prescribed way of praying or performing the ablution. This follows the system of the most important Islamic scripture, the Quran. The Islamic state also strictly monitors the religious life of the individual. For example, communal prayer for Muslims was regularly a legal obligation in a Sharia state, as in the strict Islamic state of the Almohads [1].
In summary, in traditional Islam there is no clear distinction between the political and the religious dimensions. These flow seamlessly into each other. The explication of Islamism is of a fairly recent date, with thinkers such as the Egyptian Islamist Sayyid Qutb, executed by Nasser. Before that, and to a large extent after that, there was no distinction between the private domain and the public domain in terms of Islamic law. The strict separation of the private domain relates solely to the prevention of “illegal” sex between unmarried persons of the opposite sex. The harem is derived from the Arabic 'haram': forbidden or sacred.

Corporal punishment such as whipping, abolished in the Low Countries more than a century ago, will return when Islamists have their way.
Source: L'Exécution de la Punition de Fouet by Jean-Baptiste Débret (1829)

What is the difference between "Jihadism" and "Islamism"?
Who reads the magazines quite tough in terms of readability that terror groups such as Al Qa'eda and Islamic State, such as Inspire (Al Qaeda) and Dabiq (IS) is striking that the sources they cite are the same as the sources that Islamists cite. Namely the Quran and (especially) the hadith. A group known as 'non-terrorist' such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir condemns attacks on, for example, Israelis and others; enemies of Islam 'good on theological grounds. [2] This also applies to a large extent to the ideologically more flexible Muslim Brotherhood, which for the purpose of uniting all Muslims under one Sunni caliphate and subjugating the non-Muslims, sees the mutual differences between Muslims as secondary [3] . There are countries where this group manifests itself peacefully, such as Turkey and many Western countries, and there are other countries where this group carries out terrorist attacks (Gaza Strip, Syria).

Ideologically, there is no difference between a "peaceful" Islamist and a "jihadist", except for a disagreement about the strategy to be followed. The ideology of jihadists IS Islamism. “Jihadism” (more accurately: jihad al-qital, armed struggle) is only a method of struggle of Islamism, it is not a separate ideology.

What if jihadists or Islamists are in control?
The consequences are the same in both cases and extremely predictable: introduction of Sharia, ie restriction of the rights for women and non-Islamic groups, introduction of the jizya (a head tax applied to non-Muslims), introduction of polygyny, abolition of the human rights of homosexuals, the death penalty for leaving Islam for ex-Muslim men / life imprisonment for ex-Muslim women until they change their mind, ar-rajam (stoning) for married Muslims who have sex with someone other than their own husband or a ma malakat amaynukum ('what belongs to the right hand', ie slave girl taken prisoner). And, of course, invalidating the marriage of an ex-Muslim to his wife, in countries such as Egypt where a Sharia light prevails. It was not until 2020 that there was open discussion in Egypt about the abolition of this law [4]. Had this ex-Muslim lived in, for example, Mauretania, where Sharia law applies, he would have been executed.

As you have already understood, dear reader, slavery is also being reintroduced. After all, abolitionism is bida (innovation) of the kuffaar (unbelievers). And, of course, the invalidity of a non-Muslim's testimony against that of a Muslim. In Pakistan and Northern Nigeria, for example, you see Islamism in practice. In all countries where Islamism is advancing, women's rights and the rights of non-Muslim and sexual minorities (including those who have sex without marriage) are being curtailed or abolished.

Islamism has no positive sides compared to the currently prevailing political ideologies in the west.

In short, not really ideals associated with progressive, let alone visionary thinking.

Is Islamism Legitimate?
The question is whether Islamism is “legitimate”. The CP'86 has been banned by the courts due to racism. The ideals of apartheid of Islamism are also over the edge of what is permitted under current Dutch criminal law. We are therefore inclined to answer this question positively in the negative.

Sources
1. D. Serrano, Judicial pluralism under the “Berber empires” (last quarter of the 11th century CE - first half of the 13th century CE), Bulletin d'Études Orientales, https://doi.org/10.4000/beo.3229, 2015
2. Hizb ut-Tahrir: ideology and strategy, Henry Jackson society, 2013
3. A. Ayyash, Strong Organization, Weak Ideology: Muslim Brotherhood Trajectories in Egyptian Prisons Since 2013, Arab Reform Initiative, 2019
4.
Amna Naseer: Controversy in Egypt after a statement regarding the legality… [of a marriage between a Muslim woman and a non-Muslim man], 2020

 

How do we fight fake news?

As is often the case around election time, the Dutch discussion about fake news flares up once again. The Dutch Minister of the Interior, Lady Kajsa Ollongren (D66), wants to establish an “independent” institute that is engaged in countering the spreading of “fake news”, which, according to her, and many others, is a major threat to democracy. would form. Does this make sense?

What is fake news?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, a well-known English proverb. Likewise, some “real news” and some “fake news”. In the Middle Ages, answering this question was easy. Real news, that was what the Church (ie the Roman Catholic Church, saw as truth. Or, with the southern neighbors, what the ruling Islamic sect saw as truth. The rest was fake news, or heresy. The spread of fake news took a lot of flee with the invention of the printing press. For example, the Albigenses, who in the twelfth century had similar ideas to Luther and other Protestants centuries later, were a marginal group, their heretical ideas about reading the "holy scriptures" instead. of the interpretation of the church could be quite easily suppressed with brute force. Not many people had a Bible, because it had to be copied by hand: literally a monk's work. That changed after the invention of paper and printing. was no stopping then: the information monopoly of the Roman Catholic Church was quickly broken.

The Internet has a similar effect. In the good old days, when there was no internet yet, many CPN members or journalists were recruited by the BVD (predecessor of the AIVD) [1]. That was also possible, because there was (and is) only a handful of newspapers. All radio and TV stations could also be counted on one hand. Even now, dozens of journalists work as AIVD agents [2]. That also changed with the internet. For a journalist it is no longer a career-technical death sentence if there is no longer employment with newspapers or TV channels. Mainstream controversial talk show host Robert Jensen, for example, set up a much-watched covid-19 policy-critical YouTube channel after his TV show was shut down, with the motto “the [mainstream] media is the virus”. This also applies to journalists such as Joost Niemoller (now active as a weblogger), which is also controversial in the mainstream, or the widely watched (according to the main stream media) online current affairs program Weltschmerz, wholesaling wild conspiracy theories. In addition, there are now thousands of bloggers, vloggers, influencers and, of course, your unsurpassed visionair.nl. Hence, there is a great need in the government to combat this uncontrolled proliferation.

Ministry of Truth

This need among both Brussels and Hague regents explains why there is now so much attention for fake news [3]. For example, Ms Kajsa Ollongren now wants an independent administrative body separate from the government (but funded by the government) to tackle so-called fake news [4]. According to the minister, there is 'no question of' a thought police. She emphasizes that it will not be the government that will monitor incorrect information. "The government does not have that role." An independent body that is not tied to a political party or ministry must track down and report on the disinformation. ”
It is not without reason that an old Dutch proverb says: whose bread one eats, whose word one speaks. A politically independent administrative body (we are talking about that now, after all, the question of what is fake news and what is true news is politically charged) is the worst of both worlds. It is not independent and cannot be approached politically. It is pre-eminently a manifestation of the “deep state”.

Inquisition

The inquisition, an institution of the Roman Catholic Church that detected and combated deviations from Roman Catholic doctrine, was also an "independent body not tied to any political party or ministry." The fact that the local government did the dirty work of the stake was no comfort to the burning witches and heretics. Government organization or not: If an organization is authorized by the government, as here, there is no functional difference from a government organization.

Inquisitors engaged in the fight against fake news. Source: Wellcome Trust / Wikimedia Commons

Furthermore, the government is also an important source of misinformation, as became apparent at the start of the covid-19 epidemic, when the Dutch government organization RIVM considered masks “not necessary” [5] and, following the WHO, claimed that asymptomatic patients virus [6]. Data scientist Maurice de Hond has already provided harsh and substantiated criticism on this. That led to a conviction on the social media giants for “fake news” [7]. There are more examples. Powerful interest groups will always hijack and bribe authoritative sources to impose their own fake news (this time labeled “official truth”) on the rest.

What then works? Simple: monitor the standards of good journalism. Teach citizens how to practice thorough investigative journalism, for example through free courses with an exam. This is probably one of the most useful skills to keep our democracy, a democracy. Our democracy is in safer hands with hundreds of thousands of trained citizen journalists than with a few hundred professional journalists often recruited by the AIVD.

Sources
1. The long arm of the BVD, memories of the infiltration - Dutch Communists from NRC, 1994
2. 'We should not be so surprised that the AIVD recruits informants among journalists' - Trouw, 2019
3. Countering disinformation and fake news - Dutch national government, undated
4. Ollongren tackles “fake news” about elections - BNR Nieuwsradio, 2020
5. 'Mouth mask is not a realistic way of dampening coronavirus' - AD, 2020
6. WHO withdraws claim: 'Perhaps many corona infections by people without symptoms' - De Morgen, 2020
7. Maurice de Hond disappointed in YouTube due to removal of corona video: 'I say the same as German top virologist!' - Gaand.nl, 2020

Was everything bad about the Third Reich?

The Dutch Forum for Democracy party is once again discredited, this time due to a number of members who are in a private Whatsapp group racist (as in: Netherlands 95% white and Muslim-free wishes and: thnx for the mass shootings) and expressed their admiration for the economic policy of the Third Reich, such as one “Ruben” with the text: “Left-right, it cares. National Socialism has turned the poorest country in Europe into the richest country in a few years. ” Probably user "Ruben" referred to the economic revival during the period when the Nazis were preparing for a large-scale war and kept the arms factories running at full capacity. This caused quite a stir.

The criticism of racism in these statements is entirely justified. Judging people by ethnicity or skin color, as racists and those quoted here do, is immoral. People must be judged by their actions and ideas. But what about the Third Reich and the economy?

Was everything bad about the Third Reich?

It makes no sense to call something bad just because it comes from the tube of the Third Reich. An example of the fallacy “argumentum ad Hitlerum”. Vegetarians are bad because Hitler was a vegetarian. Dogs, especially German Shepherds, are bad because Hitler kept a German Shepherd. Etcetera.

The Volkswagen Beetle, developed by order of Hitler, is an affordable car for the common man. Despite its inky past, the design proved to be both practical and popular. This design was built until 2003. Source: Volkswagen AG

It is more interesting to ask which elements of this economic policy are virtues. Job security, for example, is something that many people would be happy with now. The reason why this job security was there, namely the mass production of murder tools to subdue the rest of Europe and to murder Jews, of course not.

The Economic Policy of the Third Reich

I think certain elements of this economic policy could be useful. To be precise: Keynesian investments in infrastructure and, for example, the colonization of the North Sea. Also provides work, but at no cost to anyone. The self-sufficiency that the Nazis strived for is also positive in itself. Autarky means no exploitation of Congolese children in coltan mines or devastating oil wars in the Middle East. The less dependent a country or group of countries is on foreign countries, the less cause for war.

The Nazi regime was wrong because it was racist, aggressively expansionist, and totally disrespectful of human life. Not because of their economic policy per se, apart of course from things such as the use of forced laborers and the use of body residues (such as gold fillings, skin and hair) of gassed Jews in Products.

Racism was also rampant among the Allies

To treat the Nazi era as a unique anomaly in European history is stupid and gratuitous. The threat of unscrupulous totalitarian systems and racism (in the sense of discrimination based on skin color and origin) is still very much alive.

The "good guys," like the US, had racial laws until the 1950s. Winston Churchill was complicit in a genocidal famine in Bengal that killed three to ten million Bengals. South Africa, another “allied” state, had racist laws until 1990. In Canada and Australia, children of indigenous peoples were forcibly placed in orphanages to “civilize” them. Many of them did not survive this. The brutal Stalinist dictatorship, which left tens of millions dead, needs no further explanation. Germany did not have this kind of practice until the arrival of the Nazis.

Dare to think without anesthesia and learn the right lessons from history. This way we can prevent it from repeating itself in an unpleasant way. Putting all the blame on the Nazis to clear our consciences is not justified by the facts.

Why we must unconditionally protect freedom of speech

Is a cartoon worth a human life? At first glance you would say no. However, appearances are deceptive here: not only our freedom, but also the survival of the human species benefits from integrity in thinking, and in this respect from absolute freedom of expression.

Humans and humanity as information processors
Evolution is basically information processing. Evolution is the product of the confrontation of our genotype (the DNA blueprint in our genes) and the resulting phenotype (our bodies) with the natural environment (including other organisms). In billions of years of evolution, the genotype of our species has expanded and adapted until we have grown from two single strands of bacterial and archaeal DNA housed in a simple cell into a complex multicellular organism capable of solving the mysteries of life. to unravel space and time.

This process took place only through the endless exposure of our genome to ever-changing challenges. Our ancestors have survived global disasters such as a catastrophic asteroid impact, a gamma-ray burst, and what may have been a massive volcano eruption. Each disaster has usually selected the toughest survivors. The catastrophic disaster at the end of the Permian 252 million years ago, with more than ninety percent of the species on Earth perishing, paved the way for the ancestor of the dinosaurs (and thus birds), the Chicxulub weft for groups of mammals including the primates, our group.

Some subtler cartoons by Charlie Hebdo wittily portray the supposed inventor of Islam, the merchant Muhammad ibn Abdullah. Source / Copyright: Charlie Hebdo Magazine

Technical and cultural evolution
Economic, social and cultural competition is subject to similar evolutionary pressures. The “DNA” of a bicycle, for example, is the CAD construction drawings, specifications and assembly manuals of the various parts and the entire construction, and the mental blueprint in the brains of bicycle repairers, where the phenotype is the bicycle itself. A beautiful, strong and pleasantly driving bicycle is sold more often, so that the manufacturer can further develop the bicycle and other bicycle manufacturers take over elements. The same mechanism also occurs with cultural elements such as language, ideologies and religion. A religion that is more successful at converting people and preserving the faith is ahead of those that discourage or prohibit conversion, or have too weak a grip on the minds of their adherents. religions, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism, succeed best in this.

Why Do Religions Exist?
Religions stem from the same urge that led to the emergence of science: the need to understand the world around us and the meaning of our existence. Religion arises from the physical and metaphysical ideas of the time when religion originated. These ideas are framed, usually by a founder (Christianity, Islam, Buddhism) or group of founders (Judaism, Sikhism, Hinduism) and institutionalized in subsequent years as a result of confrontation with other religions and philosophies. The canon (collection of sacred writings) is established and classes of institutionalized bearers of knowledge of the religion emerge, such as monks, gurus, priests, theologians and ulema. This gives religions an additional evolutionary advantage: full-time professionals whose existence depends on the presence of large numbers of believers who give their tithes. These professionals are constantly inventing new ways to bring in believers, maintain their faith, and prevent apostasy. This explains the caste system among Hindus, the emphasis on repentance as the only way to save people from hell among Christians, and the draconian punishments of Muslims leaving Islam.

Do Religions Have Value?
Religions frame ideas and hinder scientific and metaphysical thinking. In principle, religions thus have a negative influence on human survival. Elements of religions can be exceptionally useful. Think of the protection of the family, interpersonal ethics, the stimulation of abstract thinking and the provision of a metaphysical reality that creates a distance from the observable reality and thus stretches the world of thought.
The over-representation of Jews and, to a lesser extent, Christians among scientific pioneers suggests that these religions contain elements that promote the development of theory, induction and critical scientific thinking. While primitive Judaism is very similar to current Islam, later rabbinical Judaism has a more playful, more equal relationship with the supreme god. Also “lernen”, the emphasis on learning, is very important in contemporary Judaism. As far as scientific knowledge is concerned, this is of course very useful in scientific practice. This also applies to Christianity, which focuses more on the esoteric domain and thus (after the devastating defeats suffered by the Catholic Church against Galileo and the Copernicists, and the Protestant heretics) opposed natural science much less and in some cases even promoted. In short: religions can still have a positive value on balance, depending on the ideas they contain. However, this is more the exception than the rule. This also explains why in distinctly atheistic countries like both China's, the Czech Republic and Japan, the practice of science and technology is at a higher level.

Freedom of speech is higher than religious dogma
The essence of evolution is information processing. Our technical and cultural evolution is in fact an extension and a logical continuation of biological evolution. To give up freedom of speech because a mythical supreme being, or a legendary founder, of a religion might be offended is to halt the evolution of human thought and culture. If a religion is unable to refute ridicule or criticism, then this religion loses out in the war of ideas. Just as it is not permitted in the Netherlands or Belgium to extort consumers, it must also not be permitted to make religious criticism impossible with improper methods. If a religion like Islam is unable to survive without intimidating its critics with murder and manslaughter, then this religion must disappear from the face of the earth for good. Anyone calling to kill critics in order to silence them is an obstacle to the evolution of humanity. They are principals of murder and therefore guilty of murder. They should be treated like terrorists. Humanity is better off without them.

Why the UK is the big winner of Brexit

The Dutch main stream media is swarming with doom stories about the consequences of Brexit for the United Kingdom. The ultimate doomsday scenario would be hard Brexit. But is this correct?

Hard Brexit beneficial for the British
The United Kingdom is a net importer of physical goods. This gives the United Kingdom a rock-solid negotiating position with the European Union, because their best option without negotiation, the hard Brexit, will entail more costs for the European Union than for the British. After all, the British can at will keep their import tariffs low or increase it to the maximum allowed by the World Trade Organization. As a net importer, they are an attractive party for the rest of the world to enter into free trade agreements. The main export of the British to the European Union is petroleum [1]. By imposing import tariffs on British petroleum, the European Union will cut its own flesh enormously, namely becoming even more dependent on Russia and the Middle East. They will not do this. Conversely, the British can quite easily find substitutes for Dutch cut flowers or vegetables, or German cars (road vehicles are the largest import from the EU at 40 billion pounds per year). As an EU member, the British were bound by the trade agreements the EU had concluded with the rest of the world. For example, European farmers are protected by taxes on products such as cheese, wine, olive oil and chicken from outside the European Union. As a result, the British pay more for agricultural products from the rest of the world. There is now the option of negotiating free trade agreements with, for example, Mercosur, Japan, NAFTA and ASEAN, without the mighty agricultural lobes of continental Europe hampering negotiations. The question is therefore whether prices in British shops will indeed increase. So possibly even the opposite is conceivable.

After Brexit, Ireland is more or less held hostage by the British geographically. Copyright: Visionair.nl

Swallowing Ireland
Ireland's largest trading partner is the United Kingdom. A second reason for Ireland to remain connected with the United Kingdom is the land border with the British Northern Ireland and of course the geography. About 90 percent of Irish imports and exports pass through the Dublin-Holyhead sea route on the island of Great Britain and then overland towards the Channel Tunnel. That gives the British a strong bargaining power to pressure Ireland to leave the EU in exchange for a British customs union. [3] Especially if the plans for a permanent cross-river connection between Scotland and the Irish island go ahead. Not that the Irish will be very happy about this - the resentment against the former colonizer is deep - but they will have little choice.

Long-term prospects for the British are very favorable
Economic analyzes show that the United Kingdom's economic power will rival, or even surpass, that of Germany. This is mainly due to the rapidly growing population of the United Kingdom, where that of Germany is shrinking [2]. The United Kingdom is now no longer forced by EU treaties, but can pursue a selective migration policy.

Sources
1. Statistics on UK-EU trade, British House of Commons Library, 2020
2. UK could remain a top-10 global economy in 2050 - despite Brexit, Price Waterhouse Coopers, undated (based on a report from 2017)
3. Brexit: The return of the UK land bridge dilemma, Tony Conelly (opinion article), RTÉ, 2020

Government forms of the future

The current forms of government, dating from the eighteenth century or earlier, such as autocracy, monarchy and democracy, have the greatest difficulty keeping up with the rapid technological changes.

What the form of government of the future will look like will depend to a very large extent on what the human of the future will look like and how the humanity of the future will be spread over real and virtual worlds. In this video Futurologist Isaac Arthur elaborates on this.

In terms of government, Estonia is one of the few countries to go fast forward towards the future with the e-Estonia project. Source / copyright: e-estonia.com

Can Covid-19 Disrupt Our Food Chain?

Now that the epidemic is diminishing in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe, we are seeing more and more clearly the consequences of this crisis. One of them is that it has become clear how fragile our trading network is. Is the food supply at risk?

At the beginning of the crisis there were fears of shortages. For example, after panic on social media, there was a massive run on toilet paper, leaving supermarkets with empty shelves. There was plenty of toilet paper in the warehouses of manufacturers and wholesalers.
This didn't just apply to toilet paper. Our supply chain has remained intact for the time being. There were plenty of supplies, supermarkets were stocked at night, and the poorly paid shelf loaders and cashiers became essential professionals.
Shortages have been prevented, except in healthcare. It gives the feeling that the crisis has been overcome. But is this feeling justified?

Chance of food shortages
The Netherlands is still one of the richest countries in the world. That means that food expenditure only accounts for a limited percentage of our monthly budget. For example, people at welfare level spend an average of around two hundred euros per person per month on food [1]. That amounts to twenty percent of the income at social assistance level of single people. Fixed costs, however, are high in the Netherlands. This means that a large increase in the cost of food for the very lowest incomes will cause major problems. This problem is even greater in poorer countries. This writer has been at the start of the corona crisis in Lebanon. Lebanon is a small, densely populated country (seven million people in an area of a quarter of the Netherlands). Lebanon, for example, was already in serious trouble before the corona crisis broke out. Economic mismanagement, the collapse of tourism and the drying up of the money flow from Syria has already brought the country to the brink of collapse. The corona crisis was the final straw. There is now (May 2020) acute famine in this once prosperous country [2].

Is there another hunger winter coming? Fortunately, that chance seems small - the Netherlands is more than self-sufficient in food. Source: ANEFO, unknown photographer

There are now queues of hours [2] for the food bank. Violence for food cannot be ruled out. Food riots have a very destabilizing effect. The Arab Spring started with food riots.
For the time being it remains quiet. Many accept the lockdown, and people don't want more chaos. Still, dissatisfaction is growing, which translates into demonstrations to end the lockdown

No immediate cause for concern in the Netherlands. At least on paper
The Netherlands is more fertile and slightly less densely populated than Lebanon. If the Dutch were to switch to a low-meat diet, the Netherlands would be able to feed much more than the current population, according to the Agricultural Economic Institute [3], in a study commissioned by the Dutch government. With current livestock farming, the food balance is negative. To provide the enormous quantities of pigs, chickens and cattle with feed, a multiple of the agricultural area in the Netherlands is needed. Exports will come to a standstill under this disaster scenario, causing these industries to shrink drastically. There is also a risk of fertilizer shortages in the longer term. We can source nitrogen locally from the air, magnesium from seawater and potassium from French potassium mines, but phosphates come from Morocco. Unless really unpleasant circumstances break out, such as a civil war, an extreme solar flare or extreme weather conditions, the food supply in the Netherlands is safe for a longer period of time. Especially when seaweed farms are built in the North Sea.

But what if the Dutch government declines it here too?
The handling of the corona crisis showed blunder after blunder. This is largely due to the very bureaucratic organization of Dutch health care. The Netherlands has experience with the hunger winter of 1944-1945 and is therefore much better prepared for famine than for an epidemic. Farmers are much more independent and less bound by protocols than healthcare professionals. The Ministry of Agriculture is also smaller and much less bureaucratic than VGZ. They do have to comply with ever-increasing environmental legislation, such as the nitrogen standard.

Build in robustness
Our country is small and well organized, but in the event of a real system crisis, it cannot be ruled out that the long-distance distribution network will fail. In that case, a local backup plan is a life-saver. Allotment gardens, local growers and food processors can provide food security in that case. Dutch horticulture largely relies on foreign temporary workers. Why not put Dutch unemployed and disabled people to work here? This would also make our country less prone to systemic crises and spread agricultural expertise to a larger part of the population.

Sources
1. NIBUD - What do you spend on food? (2020)
2. NOS - Lebanon - famine all means growing vegetables yourself (2020)
3. BN de Stem - Rows of hours for the food bank (2020)
4. LEI - The Netherlands can become self-sufficient with food (2013)

Hedge funds and parasitism: is stealing the Action really theft?

The discount chain Action recently made the news because of a filling shift manager has been fired for the 'theft' of a plastic bag with a sales value of three cents. As is customary in the so-called Dutch “constitutional state”, the Dutch court will grant this Kafkaesque requirement. Attention was mainly focused on the disproportionality of the measure. How justified is it to fire someone for three cents? This ignores a more interesting question. Because what is the legal entity behind the Action chain in the Netherlands, Action Nederland BV, exactly? And is wealth transfer to the detriment of this entity theft?

Legal entities, hedge funds and loans
Action Nederland BV is a so-called private limited company. This is one type legal person. Legal personality means that the legal person, as a fictitious entity, is legally liable. This means that the owners of Action Nederland BV are not jointly and severally liable for Action's actions. A legal person fulfills the role of God in a theocracy. It is a fantasy entity created in the 1800s in the United States by a corrupt member of the Supreme Court to please his former employer.
Action is not in the hands of a human owner, but of another legal entity, the English hedge fund 3i.

Robin Hood, after centuries still a popular legend. Source: Wikimedia Commons / user Olaf1541 (probably)

The owners of 3i made a fairytale profit with the purchase of Action. With borrowed money, these gentlemen (women are hardly represented among the owners of big capital) bought Action for 500 million euros. Meanwhile, the group is already worth 10 billion euros and the owners have saddled Action with expensive loans, with which they have raised more than two billion euros tax-free. This is in contrast to the shops that form a sole proprietorship, a simple bv or a general partnership: they pay tax properly. What about the owners of 3i? They are part of one opaque web of around 1,200 major financial institutions who have criss-cross shares of each other. It has become an inextricable tangle, a parasitic usury that is devastating and destroying the planet and humanity in favor of a small group of owners (the famous 1%).

Within the Action there is a draconian discipline.

To make a long story short: Action is now a ruthless profit machine that is draining the Dutch economy, destroying the Dutch (and increasingly European) middle class and whose proceeds end up with the parasites in the London City.

Who do you 'steal' from, if you 'steal' from the Action?
The Action and similar legal entities are just such fantasy structures as angels, gods and gnomes. When you steal from a small business owner, you steal the bread from the mouth of a flesh and blood person, a hard-working man or woman, who pays tidy taxes and has to worry every day whether he / she will personally go bankrupt. In short, ethically this is almost always immoral and pernicious. By 'stealing' from the Action, you are actually transferring assets from this inextricable tangle of harmful parasites to someone who does pay tax properly: you. Under Dutch law it is illegal to call for a crime, and just as in Pakistan insulting the legendary figure Mohammed will cost you your life, it is punishable in the Netherlands to call for 'illegal' transfer of assets from this tax-evading parasites to you. I won't do that either. I can think of someone who does that, a hero. For the record. In my opinion, anyone who 'steals' from Action and similar fantasy constructions is not a thief, but a hero. A modern Robin Hood that I admire.

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