Monday, May 19, 2008
Czech President Vaclav Klaus and ITSSD CEO Share Some Thoughts and Ambitions Concerning Freedom & Climate Change
Furthermore, as the result of these and other correspondences, Czech President Vaclav Klaus agreed to meet with Lawrence Kogan and former U.S. Ambassador and U.S. Secretary of the Navy, J.W. Middendorf, II, in New York City on September 25, 2007, following the President's September 24, 2007 address to the United Nations General Assembly where he participated in the UN Secretary-General's High-Level Conference on Climate Change. [See: Notes for the speech of the President of the Czech Republic at the UN Climate Change Conference, at: http://www.hrad.cz/cms/en/prezident_cr/klaus_projevy/4853.shtml ; See: Secretary-General’s High-Level Event on Climate Change, at: http://www.un.org/climatechange/2007highlevel/about.shtml.]
From: lkogan [mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Tuesday, July 10, 2007 1:14 PM
Cc: 'Radim Dragomaca'
Subject: Lawrence Kogan // ITSSD response to President Vaclav Klaus
Dear Ms. Dvorakova,
I would appreciate your translation of my response to President Klaus' note dated July 4, 2007, set forth below.
Thank you for your assistance.
Lawrence A. Kogan, Esq.
Institute for Trade, Standards and Sustainable Development (ITSSD)
116 Village Boulevard, Suite #200
Princeton, NJ USA 08540
Dear President Klaus,
I am very flattered and honored to have received your comments regarding the recent paper and press release issued by our Institute this past June. It is not often that I receive comments (especially positive ones) from an experienced and highly regarded head-of-state such as yourself.
I am pleased that my approximately twenty years of international legal and business experience, many of which have been devoted to working with European public and private companies, has permitted me to 'see' things that other Americans have not yet been able to see. More importantly, though, I am extremely gratified by the opportunity that our intellectual connection and mutual understanding brings. And, I look forward to working with you to take advantage of it.
Please excuse me for not elaborating any further at the present time about my ideas for future collaboration. Although I am not yet certain how to proceed, I remain open to your suggestions.
For one thing, I am very eager to read your new book, "Blue, not Green Planet". Is an English translation of it yet available?
In the meanwhile, I would appreciate some time to refine my ideas and to review them with my colleagues at the Institute, before passing them along to you.
Please be assured that I will be able to provide you with some concrete proposals before the end of this month.
Thank you once again for the privilege of receiving your response, and for the unique and exceptional opportunity to work alongside you in the future to address what are critically important issues to us all.
With my best regards,
Lawrence A. Kogan
From: Dvořáková Michaela <mailto:Michaela.Dvorakova@hrad.cz>
Date: Jul 4, 2007 11:44 AM
Subject: FW: ITTSSD - Climate Change - Kogan
Vážený pane Dragomaco,tímto Vám přeposílám email od pana prezidenta Klause adresovaný Vám a Vašemu řediteli Koganovi. S přátelským pozdravemMichaela DvořákováKancelář prezidenta republikyVážený pane Dragomaco,děkuji za Váš email, který jste poslal p. kancléři Weiglovi. Díky tomu jsemobjevil Váš institut, jehož postoje se mi zdají velmi sympatické a děkuji za text Vašeho ředitele L. Kogana, který jsem si velmi pozorně přečetl ajehož názory považuji za mimořádně kvalitní a v dnešní době velmipotřebné. Velmi rád budu jakoukoli formou s Vašim institutemspolupracovat. Je nás pořád málo proti té velké přesile, která existuje. Vím, že bych mohl psát Vašemu řediteli přímo, ale zdá se mi vhodnévložit pár řádek pro něho do tohoto emailu.Vaše jméno to přílišnenaznačuje, ale jak to, že umíte tak dobře česky?Jakoukoli další korespondenci směřujte, prosím, na mou asistentku Michaelu Dvořákovou (viz odesílatel).
Dear Mr. Kogan,
From Radim Dragomaca, research intern at your institute, I got your article "Europe's Warnings on Climate Change Belie More Nuanced Concerns," [accessible at: http://www.itssd.org/White%20Papers/Europe_sWarningsonClimateChangeBelieMoreNuancedConcerns.pdf ] which I consider excellent. And not only because you so positively quote me.
You probably understand more than anyone else that I am really frustrated with what is going on in Europe and in your country as well. And you know that I try to oppose it in all possible ways - writing, speaking, lecturing etc. Your article goes exactly to the point.
Like you, I speak about "a barely observable rise in global temperatures," not about climate change with a capital "C". As someone who spent years doing econometric research, I am aware of a big difference between causation and correlation as you stress. I don't believe that small warming is man-made, I do not think it will hurt mankind, and especially I do not think anything - government-organized - can change the evolution of global climate.
I agree with you that the main issue is "curtailing individual rights and freedoms," not climate. The subtitle of my recent book, "Blue, not Green Planet," is "What is Endangered: Climate or Freedom." You are right in stressing Europe's role in it. Not many Americans understand that the European global warming hysteria is a substitute activity, that it is an attempt to divert "the public's attention away from the failed draft European constitution" as you put it, that it's an attempt to rationalize the European unification process and the formation of the European supranational state.
I must admit that I did not take any notice of the British Foreign Secretary Margaret Becket's attempt to expand the mandate of the UN Security Council in the field of fighting "collective global environmental threats." It is almost incredible.With my - as I ironically put it - "full-time presidential engagement," I did not notice that in the 2005 amended French Constitution provided"French citizens with the positive right to live in a balanced healthy environment." Again, almost incredible. Of course, your stress on the difference between positive and negative rights is crucial. I am afraid that one has to go through the Communist "experiment" to fully understand it. I am afraid not many Europeans are capable of this. All the more I appreciate your stance.
I will be pleased to stay in touch with you and possibly do something together either here or in your country.
With my best regards,
Global Integration Must Be Shaped by U.S. Constitutional Principles That Preserve National Sovereignty; NOT by Top-Down Supranational Institutions
The discussion contained in the above link reflects a growing consensus that American politicians, particularly the next President of the United States and the U.S. Congress, must ensure that any further U.S. global integration with international institutions must be conditioned upon those international institutions adopting, implementing and enforcing U.S. constitutional/human rights principles. These principles which are found in the Articles of the U.S. Constitution, the Amendments of its accompanying Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence, include among others: 1) Adequate checks & balances / separation of powers/federalism; 2) Transparency of laws, regulations and standards; 3) The rule of law, NOT the rule by law (or the rule of men); 4) The public accountability of government officials at all levels; 5) Strong recognition and protection of natural exclusive private property rights, tangible as well as intangible; 6) No taxation or regulation without representation; and 7) Strong recognition and respect for individualism rather than communalism.
The U.S. Constitution, its accompanying Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence remain the only bulwark against the creeping international laws and bureaucratic institutions of the supranational global governance movement that seek to undermine the sovereignty of the world's remaining nation-states, including the United States. Since that movement endeavors to establish the primacy of the global 'public good' over the 'private good' and to attenuate private property rights and redistribute economic wealth for social purposes, it would behoove all Americans if we were to quickly become reacquainted with these founding documents and the European history (i.e., the Enlightenment Era) from which they arose.
THE U.S. CONSTITUTION: 1787
THE BILL OF RIGHTS TO THE U.S. CONSTITUTION - 1789
THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE - 1776
Sunday, May 4, 2008
For Europe’s Middle-Class, Stagnant Wages Stunt Lifestyle
By CARTER DOUGHERTY and KATRIN BENNHOLD
New York Times
May 1, 2008
LES ULIS, France — When their local bakery in this town south of Paris raised the price of a baguette for the third time in six months, Anne-Laure Renard and Guy Talpot bought a bread maker. When gasoline became their biggest single expense, they sold one of their two cars.
Their combined annual income of 40,000 euros, about $62,500, lands Ms. Renard, a teacher, and Mr. Talpot, a postal worker, smack in the middle of France’s middle class. And over the last year, prices in France have risen four times as fast as their salaries.
At the end of every month, they blow past their bank account’s $900 overdraft limit, plunging themselves deeper into a spiral of greater resourcefulness and regret.
“In France, when you can’t afford a baguette anymore, you know you’re in trouble,” Ms. Renard said one recent evening in her kitchen, as her partner measured powdered milk for their 13-month-old son, Vincent. “The French Revolution started with bread riots.”
The European dream is under assault, as the wave of inflation sweeping the globe mixes with this continent’s long-stagnant wages. Families that once enjoyed Europe’s vaunted quality of life are pinching pennies to buy necessities, and cutting back on extras like movies and vacations abroad.
[THE EUROPEAN DREAM WAS AT BEST A FANTASY, AT WORST, AN OUTRIGHT LIE]
Potentially more disturbing — especially to the political and social order — are the millions across the continent grappling with the realization that they may have lives worse, not better, than their parents.
“I have this feeling that there is a wall in front of us,” said Axel Marceau, a 41-year-old schoolteacher living outside of Frankfurt. “We’re just not going to get any further.”
His concerns are well-founded. A study by the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin found that the broad middle of the German work force, defined as workers making from 70 to 150 percent of the median income, shrunk to 54 percent of the population last year, from 62 percent in 2000.
Mr. Marceau’s father had a teaching job that afforded the family upward mobility, from owning a home to fancy ski vacations. But today, Mr. Marceau said, a new class of bankers, executives and other high earners has taken over. “I feel like we’ve been in a slow process of losing to the people up top,” he said.
“No one thought during the 1980s that they could possibly belong to a group of people who slide down the social scale,” said Markus Grabka, an economist at the institute for economic research. “No one had existential angst of the sort you have today.”
To be sure, Europe’s middle class is still larger than the number of people at risk of falling into poverty — and, by many measures, more protected than the American middle class. But policy makers worry that could change as the European economy starts to feel the drag of an American slowdown and high inflation.
[OF COURSE, EUROPEANS BLAME THE AMERICANS FOR THEIR OWN POLICY FAILINGS]
“The problem,” said Julián Cubero, chief economist for Spain for BBVA, a leading Spanish bank, “is that if your salary rises more slowly than the cost of products you buy on a daily basis, you feel poorer every day.”
That simmering concern turned into anger last week in Britain. Striking teachers closed schools for the first time in two decades, protesting pay packages that did not keep pace with the soaring cost of living. Proposed raises were about 2.5 percent, while food has risen 7 percent and oil costs have surged 20 percent in Britain since this time last year.
The teachers’ rallying cry was just the latest to echo across the Continent.
German workers from several industries waged a series of strikes last month demanding a greater piece of the economic pie after years of being asked to make salary concessions — flexibility that, some economists argue, has helped a leaner, meaner Europe stave off recession so far.
In France, where purchasing power has replaced unemployment as Public Enemy No. 1, unions representing workers from teachers to factory workers have taken to the streets in protest.
This month, thousands of European workers converged on the capital of Slovenia, which currently holds the European Union’s rotating presidency.
[PERHAPS, THESE WORKERS SHOULD RELY LESS ON SO-CALLED UNION BENEFITS, AND CONCENTRATE MORE ON SELF-HELP. RELIANCE ON OTHERS BREEDS RENT-SEEKING AND LESS THAN OPTIMAL PERFORMANCE]
Quantifying the squeeze on Europe’s middle class is tricky; there is no universal definition of middle class, and national agencies differ on how they calculate purchasing power, making cross-border comparisons difficult.
Tallying inflation is simpler: Since 1999, prices have risen 22.5 percent in the 27 member states of the European Union, and 18.8 percent in the 15 countries that use the euro.
Much of the declining purchasing power of European workers can be traced to those numbers, and to policy decisions and economic developments over the last decade when globalization began to reshape Europe and the world.
[THESE ARE SEEDS OF ANTI-AMERICANISM - AMERICA IS BEING IDENTIFIED AS THE CAUSE OF GLOBALIZATION. IS EUROPE'S SOLUTION TO GLOBALIZATION THE NEGATIVE MALTHUSIAN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT-BASED ENVIRONMENTAL GLOBAL GOVERNANCE IT IS NOW PROMOTING AT THE UNITED NATIONS AND OTHER MULTILATERAL FORA???]
In Germany, Europe’s largest economy, the decline in purchasing power began in 2000, when employers started wresting wage concessions from unions, or simply shifting jobs to Eastern Europe and China.
[CORRECTION, GERMANY AND ITALY STARTED INVESTING IN CHINESE FACTORIES DURING THE 1990'S, ESPECIALLY IN THE TEXTILE, CERAMICS, CASTING AND OTHER LABOR-INTENSIVE MANUFACTURING SECTORS.]
Inflation-adjusted incomes rose from 1 percent to 2 percent in the late 1990s, but more than one million Germans lost full-time jobs during and after a recession in 2000 and 2001.
Subsequently, workweeks got longer without extra pay, and from 2004 through 2007, inflation outpaced income increases for the average family.
In France, the 35-hour workweek kept average annual pay increases below 1 percent for nearly a decade, said Robert Rochefort, the director general of Credoc, an organization in Paris that researches living standards. But French hypermarkets — big-box supermarkets that dominate the retail market — kept prices high, he said.
Spain generated thousands of jobs by pumping up the housing market, but has undergone a joblessness jump since the turmoil in real estate markets while wages have been consumed by inflation.
“When I started working at 23, I earned almost the same wage that I earn now,” said María Salgado, a 37-year-old director of television documentaries living in Madrid. Fourteen years ago, her monthly salary of about 1,200 euros ($1,873), bankrolled a full social life.
No longer. “The well-to-do middle class has become the tight middle class,” she said. “I’m surprised we haven’t started a revolution.”
Instead, Ms. Salgado cut her fish purchases to once a week, switched to supermarket brands and away from health-food stores, and halved her visits to the psychotherapist. She spends some weekends with her children, Violeta, 9, and Juan, 4, at her ex-husband’s parents’ home in the countryside — a stressful arrangement, but one that enables her to avoid expensive weekends in Madrid.
“Violeta asked me, ‘Mama, are we poor?’ I said, ‘No, we’re not poor,’ ” Ms. Salgado recalled, laughing. “But the middle class used to live well. And if you have lived well, it’s hard to live so badly.”
Stagnant pay and soaring prices have hit Italy hardest. Recent statistics from the country’s main shopkeepers’ union showed consumer spending was down 1.1 percent in January from a year earlier, the biggest drop in three years. Leisure and recreation spending fell 5.5 percent.
Francesca Di Pietro, a secretary, and her partner, Gianluca Pompei, a project manager, are part of that trend. Since their son, Mario, was born nearly two years ago, they have spent little on entertainment.
“I’ve become anxious about unexpected expenses,” Ms. Di Pietro said. To stretch their monthly income of about 2,500 euros ($3,900), the couple has been getting hair cuts at the local beauty school, packing a lunch for work, buying secondhand clothes in market stalls and vacationing at campsites instead of hotels.
They have abandoned their dream of living in central Rome, from an outlying neighborhood.
“I look at people on the bus and they seem sad and beaten down,” said Ms. Di Pietro, referring to Italy’s malaise. “We’re 40 years old. We should be feeling more combative, but really all we feel is frustrated.”
Some European governments are promising relief, but their ability to curb inflation or raise pay is limited.
Italy’s warring political coalitions both ran in last month’s elections promising to lighten the financial burden of average Italians. Their proposals ranged from eliminating unpopular real estate taxes to subsidizing dental care.
In France, the administration of President Nicolas Sarkozy is, among other things, looking into charges of price gouging by food merchants.
German leaders are considering lower taxes. It may not be enough.
Frustrated unions are taking tougher stances in wage talks. Public sector employees, as well as workers in the steel and chemical industries, have recently won wage increases.
“The idea that ‘I will sacrifice to save my job’ is dying,” said Ralf Berchthold, a spokesman with Ver.di, the largest services union in Germany. “People are ready to fight now.”
Carter Dougherty reported from Frankfurt, and Katrin Bennhold from Paris. Victoria Burnett contributed reporting from Madrid, and Elisabetta Povoledo from Rome.
Bumbling Brown Bears Brunt of British Taxpayer Revolt: Better Bag Bodacious, Bogus Green Taxes Before its Too Late!!
Brown to scrap tax rises in bid to calm voter fury
Gaby Hinsliff and Jo Revill
Sunday May 4 2008
[This picture is a genuine Labour party poster from the 2005 Hodge Hill by-election)
Unelected chairperson of the Labour Party, Hazel Blears, has got into hot water recently by stereotyping immigrants and suggesting the public associated them with anti-social behaviour. This came only days after the new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown said he wanted to see ‘British workers for the British jobs’. See Socialist Unity Blog at: http://www.socialistunity.com/?p=528.]
Gordon Brown is poised to scrap a series of unpopular tax rises as part of sweeping changes to stave off a dangerous revolt over the rising cost of living which last week dealt Labour its worst electoral hammering in 40 years.
Today the Prime Minister will respond to a growing suburban uprising by signalling moves to help motorists and other consumers. His intervention comes amid a fresh assault over the 10p tax rate change, which backbenchers warn could destroy his premiership.
Frank Field, the renegade ex-minister who forced Brown into offering compensation for the abolition of the 10p rate, said dismal local election results had shown poor families did not trust the Prime Minister to deliver on what Field described as an 'Alice in Wonderland' scheme to give them their money back.
He spoke as Tory strategists vowed last night to make the 10p rate and the rising cost of living the heart of their campaign in the forthcoming by-election in Crewe and Nantwich, claiming tax was a 'huge issue' among working-class Labour voters in the seat left vacant by Gwyneth Dunwoody's death. It was announced late last night that her daughter, Tamsin Dunwoody, had been chosen as the Labour candidate for the contest on 22 May.
The question of the Prime Minister's leadership was also raised openly for the first time since the vote; Labour backbencher Graham Stringer said ministers were privately discussing whether there should be a challenge to Brown.
The Manchester Blackley MP told Sky News: 'I think Gordon is going to be the leader of the Labour party. There is no real tradition of regicide. But it would not be true to say that these conversations aren't going on between ministers and Labour backbenchers about whether there should be a challenge. There is a public display of loyalty and there is private despair.'
Last night Downing Street sources hinted the 2 per cent rise in fuel duty due in the autumn may not go ahead, in a concession to tight household budgets. Asked if it would be scrapped, a senior source said: 'We could do that, although it would not have any effect until October. We will reserve judgement until later this year.'
Brown is also expected today to highlight the role of the Competition Commission investigation into supermarkets in protecting families from high prices, promising that ministers will ensure stores do not keep prices artificially high.
Ministers also want Brown to rethink green taxes - including motoring charges and proposed 'pay as you throw' schemes for household rubbish - and to sideline his passion for Africa and the climate to focus on domestic worries.
Internal polling in London found Ken Livingstone's green policies, such as new charges for gas-guzzling cars, alienated older voters, while the environment was at best a low priority for others, suggesting that, as families' budgets shrink, so does their willingness to pay to save the planet.
'My colleagues will say Labour has got to be brave on green issues, but the public are really feeling the pinch,' said one senior minister. Downing Street sources hinted last night that trials of household-rubbish taxes may never be widespread, adding that Brown was 'fairly sceptical' about the idea.
The moves will be welcomed by MPs clamouring for practical measures to relieve pressure on family budgets. But Brown will face a fresh attack from Field when the ex-welfare minister tables a Commons motion this week criticising the response to the 10p tax crisis and demanding detailed, specific compensation measures be published before the next vote on the bill in mid-June. He has warned that the issue must be clarified or Labour could lose Crewe.
A by-election defeat could precipitate a crisis. Brown faces a 'triple whammy' with the poll in May, followed by the vote on the finance bill in June and a vote on detaining terror suspects for up to 42 days. Defeat in all three could trigger a vote of no confidence, ending his leadership without the need for a contest.
Describing the issue as 'potentially immensely dangerous' for Brown, Field said: 'What I thought [Brown] was going to say was "we are going to use every muscle in our bodies to find ways of compensating you". Instead of that, we had a garbled statement in the Commons which nobody could understand. I just think the 10p issue is going to be a live rail.' Writing in The Observer today, he warns the issue must be clarified before the by-election, adding: 'Failure to act clearly and decisively will, I fear, lead to further electoral disasters.'
Friends said Field was furious that the compensation package did not match what he had been privately led to expect. However, sources close to Brown said ministers would publish specific proposals early if they could.
Also writing in The Observer, former Downing Street strategist Matthew Taylor admits Labour is in a 'deep hole' and calls on Brown to focus on a few specific promises while delegating issues like prisoners' pay or plastic bag bans to his cabinet. He admits: 'It might not work. Then again, maybe nothing will.' Despite this, an Observer survey of MPs with marginal seats in London found no appetite for a change of leader after Boris Johnson's surprise win in the mayoral election. Gareth Thomas, the International Development Minister, who is defending a 2,028 majority in Harrow West, said: 'Gordon's the man for the job. We can carry on under him and win the next election, but we have been given some tough messages [by voters].'
However, the former Labour leadership challenger Jon Cruddas, MP for Dagenham, said Labour had not yet 'calibrated the language' to show it understood people's vulnerability. 'We talk about challenges when people are really struggling. It looks as if we are not emotionally in tune with them,' he said. 'We are losing our traditional supporters.'
Wounding losses in May and June could provoke a no-confidence vote in short order. 'The end for Mrs Thatcher came very quickly: she never thought it was going to be over the issue that blew up,' said one veteran backbencher.
Ministers will spend the weekend discussing the implications of Johnson's victory. Hazel Blears, the Local Government Secretary, rang Johnson on Friday and promised a constructive working relationship, but the government is considering whether to impose greater scrutiny on a Johnson administration over critical issues such as the Crossrail project or the Olympics budget.