Thursday, 28 December 2017

The Tragedy of Big Pharma

Modern medicine’s been a boon to mankind. Diseases like chicken pox, diphtheria, measles, malaria, HIV, and polio—all but eradicated in the past century by pharmaceuticals. So what went wrong?

Sunday, 17 December 2017

The Life and Death of King Michael of Romania

I wrote this 5 days ago and didn't publish. I tried to get it up on an online platform that has a bigger audience. Needless to say, the editor wasn't interested. But as they say, it's never too late to correct an error. Hope you'll enjoy.

Michael was born in Sinaia, Romania, the son of Prince Carol the second and Elena of Greece. Grandson of King Ferdinand and Queen Maria, on his father’s side – and grandson of King Constantin of Greece, from his mother’s side. Some of Michael’s ancestors include Nicholas the first of Russia, Alexander the second of Russia, and Queen Victoria of Great Britain.

King Michael’s first years of rule were between 1927 and 1930. Because he was only six years of age at the time, a regency was formed. The National Liberal Party backed Michael, the regency, and quickened the military oath of allegiance toward the king, not wanting to risk carlist influences within the army. In contrast, The National Peasants’ Party desired the return of Carol the second (Michael’s father, who had abandoned the throne for his paramour Elena Lupescu).

In 1930, however, amidst the economic crisis, Carol returned. The Government of Iuliu Maniu obtained Carol’s pledge that he will leave Elena Lupescu and resume his marriage with Elena of Greece. The Parliament named Carol king, and designated Michael as successor to the throne. Carol exiled Michael’s mother to Florence, imposing a cruel visiting program of only a couple of weeks per year between the two. Carol the second’s rule between 1930 and 1937 ushered in 14 governments. He presided over political turmoil and political assassinations. At the end of March 1938, Carol signed a decree that abolished all existing political parties. In December that year, he created a sole state political organization called The National Renaissance Front.

In 1940, Field-marshal Ion Antonescu forced King Carol to abdicate in favor of his son Michael, and grant him (the Field-marshal) discretionary powers. At 18 years of age, Michael was proclaimed king. By that time, Romania had joined the Axis powers against the Soviets. Though Michael was the king, Antonescu had full power in his quality as ‘leader of the Romanian state’. Through the use of a legal technicality and elements of coercion, four years later, Michael managed to arrest Antonescu (through an internal coup) and appoint a new prime-minister.

In August 1944, faced with the Soviet invasion, Michael sided with political forces hostile to Nazi Germany (the Allies and the Communists). The British, the Americans, and the Soviets offered a truce and Michael agreed to it. Given the geopolitical context, the Western powers didn’t intervene against the Soviet invasion. About 130.000 Romanian soldiers were captured and sent to labor camps inside the USSR. The peace negotiated by Michael’s people was seen by some as a national betrayal and capitulation to the Soviets. Romania had to pay 300 million dollars in war reparations to the USSR and accept unconditional surrender.

Still, peace with the Soviets allowed the Romanian army to liberate northern Transylvania from Hungarian occupation. At the war’s end, King Michael was decorated by Harry Truman with the Legion of Merit in highest rank and by Joseph Stalin with the Order of Victoria for ‘the courageous act of decisively turning Romania’s policy away from Hitlerist Germany and joining the Allied Nations in a time where Germany’s defeat was not certain.’ The Albanian communist leader Enver Hodja considered that Michael was awarded the Order of Victoria for his capitulation to the Soviets, when that was the only thing he could have done. Some people consider that Michael’s coup against Antonescu hastened the advance of Stalin’s troops across Romania and Europe, to the detriment of Allied forces. The absence of invitations throughout the years for Michael at Western events commemorating Victory Day is seen by some as a tacit condemnation of his coup d’etat. Michael was not invited by any Western state at the 60th anniversary of Victory Day. He was only invited in Russia and at certain events in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The truce or capitulation, however one chooses to look at it, did save many lives.

The Soviet military occupation of Romania ended in 1958. But eastern Bessarabia still retains Russian troops to this day. Molotov’s pledges (made in ’44) to allow the country to choose its own government through democratic vote and retain its status as a constitutional monarchy were never honored by the Soviets. King Michael was forced to recognize a pro-soviet cabinet, with Petru Groza as the prime-minister. Seeing the abuses committed by the Groza government, King Michael demanded his resignation and Groza refused. His refusal was a stark violation of the country’s constitution, which gave the monarch the power to name and dismiss ministers. Michael attempted a ‘royal strike’, in which he refused to sign and promulgate government decrees. According to the 1923 Constitution, an act could become law only with the approval of the Upper and Lower houses, and with the approval of the monarch, and he could very well refuse to sign it into law.

In the end, through arrests, intimidation, and trickery the communists managed to get their way. On December 30th 1947, they launched a coup d’etat and forced the king’s abdication. That spelled the end of the monarchy and the beginning of the so-called people’s republic. In an extraordinary session of cabinet on that same date, Petru Groza concluded, “We’ll make sure that the ex-king shall leave in peace of mind, as is proper, so that none may bring any offence to him who, understanding the voice of our times, chose to retire.” There are critics who insist that Michael was not only blackmailed into abdicating and leaving the country, but that he was also encouraged (bribed) to do these things in haste – the communists, allowing him to leave with paintings of high value, gold, and jewels. Confidential documents from the British Foreign Office reveal that when he left Romania, Michael had only 500.000 Swiss francs on him. Claims to greater wealth taken out of Romania with him are typically dismissed as “communist propaganda.”

In January 1948, Michael began to call himself prince de Hohenzollern, using for the first time a name denied to his house by the Hohenzollern family in Germany, during the first world war. Through this, Michael was admitting that he was no longer king of Romania. However, in March that same year, Michael denounces his abdication as illegal and squeezed from him under duress. In June 1948 he married Ana de Bourbon-Parma, who would later give him five daughters. The Romanian communist government retracted Michael’s citizenship that same year. They lived in Italy (Florence), Great Britain (London), and finally Switzerland (Versoix), where they spent most of their years. In ’58, Michael started a company named Metravel, which produced railway mechanisms, alarm systems, and occasionally sold airplanes. Five years later he sold it. Michael also sponsored the Romanian National Committee, an organization meant to defend Romanian democratic interests in the West. It was formed in Washington DC by the General Nicolae Radescu, Romania’s last constitutional prime-minister. It collected data and wrote reports on the People’s Republic of Romania, it tried to organize in exile a communist resistance, and lobbied for Western sanctions against the communist authorities on the basis of human rights violations. Its activities proved to be unsuccessful. A major factor in this outcome was the new American policy (beginning with the 1960s) to ‘build bridges’ with the governments of Eastern Europe.

Decades later, on December 25th 1990, Michael and other members of the royal family arrived in Bucharest under a Danish passport, with a 24 hour visa to visit the Curtea de Arges Monastery. He wanted to visist the tombs of his ancestors there and attend the Christmas religious service. On his way toward Curtea de Arges, however, he was stopped by the police and escorted back to the airport and made to leave the country. In an interview in 1991 with Philippe Viguie-Desplaces, Michael said about the Romanian revolution, “[...]As much as I argued and shared at the beginning this formidable eagle of hope that was the Romanian revolution, we doubted later that this impulse had been spontaneous. To be honest, I do not believe it anymore. But even if the trigger was artificial, the popular rise against communism was very real.[...]Today, I think it is very possible, as some say, that the KGB's structures have guided these overturnings. It remains to be seen, however, what the exact aim of Moscow was. I see only one plausible explanation. The Russians felt that Ceausescu’s edifice was beginning to crack. The Latin spirit of the Romanians risked to catch fire and throw communism overboard. To avoid such a radical overthrow and still hoping to save their system, the Russians decided to sabotage Ceausescu.”

Three years after the 1989 revolution, the new government allowed Michael to enter the country during the Easter celebrations. Over a million souls took to the streets of Bucharest to see him. This gravely consternated the government of Ion Iliescu, and Michael was subsequently banned from entering the country for the next five years. In 1997, after Iliescu’s electoral defeat, the new president, Emil Constantinescu, lifted the ban and reactivated Michael’s citizenship. As a key note of interest, in 2001, due to legal disputes over the name Hohenzollern-Veringen for his son-in-law Radu, as well as fearing the pretensions of the German Hohenzollerns over the royal house of Romania, Michael broke off the historical ties with the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen family. He became known as King Michael of Romania.

On the 5th of December 2017, at 13:00, the former sovereign died in his private residence in Aubonne, Switzerland. He suffered from chronic leukemia and metastatic carcinoma. He is succeeded by Princess Margareta of Romania, custodian of the Romanian Crown, while the Princesses Elena, Irina, Sofia, and Maria are next in line. His coffin will arrive in Romania on December 13th. The burial took place on the 16th, in the new Archdiocesan Royal Cathedral in Curtea de Arges, just a hundred meters away from the Monastery. King Michael was the last monarch of Romania and the last monarch in Eastern Europe.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Radu Tudor, defending rent seeking

@RaduTudorA3 just made the most moronic comment about why banks in Romania practice higher markups than elsewhere (he referenced Spain in particular), because, he said, Romania's GDP is smaller. #MMT

Banks change numbers on their own ledgers when they issue loans & they do settlement payments with reserves (which are checking accounts at the Central Bank). Fees are one thing, interest is just unearned income. It's pure rent seeking.

The reason why the banking sector in Romania, as well as other sectors of the Romanian economy, practices higher markups than elsewhere is due to a LACK in competition. Cartels = price gouging. Competition = you raise your price, I don't, and I eat into your market share.

But continue to make the apology for the corrupt European and American interests inside Romania. Continue to lick their ass as you lament the lack of Romanian sovereignty.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Economic Lessons From Dead People

Friedrich List, Adolph Hitler, Kenneth Boulding, and Carl Menger

"I don’t wish to go at length about this mass delusion, which is ingrained in our collective conscience (no matter what country we’re from). Instead, I’ll invoke the wise words of a few dead people who didn’t regard money as an obstacle to getting things done."

Read more here:

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Lessons from History, Romania & Iran, austerity & regime change

My 5th piece for Splice Today is up

"... Instead of negotiating debt rescheduling, as other countries did who faced the same financial troubles, Ceausescu simply decreed that the entire external debt would be paid off. Shock therapy commenced at his whim..."

Read it all here:

Sunday, 19 November 2017

The Purity of the Wild ISN'T Nirvana

Next time some idiot tells you that animals only kill to eat & in self-defence, show them this

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Romanian wisdom from its commie years

During Romania's communist years there was a saying - The communists pretended to pay us, and we pretended to work.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Keen is not good for Corbyn, LoL

See this

Sorry, Billy, I do not concur.

You seem unable to dissociate between MMT (descriptive theory) and prescription (actual policy), which depends on desired means & ends. Corbyn would be lucky to have Keen as advisor.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Coppola's "beyond disappointment" is beyond disappointing

Read her entry here

So if there had been POC men or POC women spewing the same old orthodox economic narrative, would that have made a difference? There are plenty of white male heterodox economic thinkers, whether they are part of the academia or not. Could we please stop demonizing the skin colour and the genitals, please? And she thinks ex nihilo theorists are something "new" under the sun, lol. If Coppola thinks it's interesting or "new" the question of whether or not banks earn seignorage when they issue loans, then she doesn't understand that they are claiming that banks print the Gov's money (that they are counterfeiting). Let's say I become famous overnight in my town & everyone in my town accepts my IOUs in transactions & people come asking me to borrow my IOUs so they can do their own thing & I charge them in return HPM (High Powered Money, aka Government IOUs, aka Government tax-credits) + a markup. How the hell is that seignorage? There is NO seignorage forgone by the Government when it allows institutions to issue contracts & make entries on their own ledgers. The banking system is certainly inequitable & unnecessary under its present architecture, but that's a story about public purpose & asset side regulations for another time. There's a reason I stopped following Coppola's bullshit (for about 2 years now), and I'm glad for it. Especially since she adopted this faux pissed off feminist SJW nonsense, on top of her labeling ex nihilo ideas as something new & worthwhile, especially since they're not new & are debunked by stock-flow consistent analysis & institutional inquiry.

Here's an example of how mental she is:
"One of the old white males (I forget which one, they all looked the same to me)"
Give me a fucking break. She has a problem with white men, but only mentions 3 white women, herself, Pettifor, and Mazzucato (who were not invited to speak at the conference). Damn, Coppola. Where is that colour diversity again?