Monday, July 27, 2015

European Union Cookie Law Implementation is a Colossal Waste of User Time and Otherwise Valuable Webmaster Resources, Plugging the Networks Uselessly and Slowing Down Browsing

The wheels of law turn slowly and one would think that something sensible is being done in the interim by the powers that be, but it is difficult in the present case to discover what that might have been.

We posted about the impending and in many regards superfluously invasive effects of the European Union Cookie Law more than three years ago, see e.g.:
How surprised we were then as a "publishing" blogger to receive an email today, July 27, 2015, from Google and the Google Ads Policy Team regarding "Important information regarding the user consent policy" which reads as follows:
"Dear Publisher,

We want to let you know about a new policy about obtaining EU end-users’ consent that reflects regulatory and best practice guidance. It clarifies your duty to obtain end-user consent when you use products like Google AdSense, DoubleClick for Publishers, and DoubleClick Ad Exchange.

Please review our new EU user consent policy as soon as possible. This requires that you obtain EU end users’ consent to the storing and accessing of cookies and other information, and to the data collection, sharing, and usage that takes place when you use Google products. It does not affect any provisions on data ownership in your contract.

Please ensure that you comply with this policy as soon as possible, and not later than 30th September 2015.

If your site or app does not have a compliant consent mechanism, you should implement one now. To make this process easier for you, we have compiled some helpful resources at cookiechoices.org.

This policy change is being made in response to best practice and regulatory requirements issued by the European data protection authorities. These requirements are reflected in changes recently made on Google’s own websites.

Thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation.


Regards,
The Google Policy Team


© 2015 Google Inc. 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043

As a publisher using a Google ads product, you are receiving this email to inform you of an important policy change." 
We were gratified to see among the "EU cookie law solution choices" at cookiechoices.org that the solution we recommended more than three years ago, Cookie Consent by SilkTide, has emerged as the most popular solution. That is the good news.

The bad news is that the lawmakers at the European Union (EU) appear in the intervening years to have made little or no progress in adopting a user-friendly and webmaster-friendly set of rules and solutions regarding opt-ins and opt-outs for cookies.

Quite the contrary, they are contributing to a massive bloating and absolutely useless boilerplate bottlenecking of the Internet, thereby costing users valuable time by demanding even more superfluous clicks via the consenting process for every cookie-using web presence. A ridiculous state of affairs.

Opting in or out of cookies can be better and faster done simply by making the appropriate changes to the cookie options in modern browsers. The EU law is a colossal waste of time for webmasters, bloggers and users. WHO is responsible for this nonsense? They should not be in Brussels.

When one takes a look at the Cookie Consent Kit that the EU has developed, one really must ask for whom it was designed. Code-savvy webmasters need little coding assistance of this kind, whereas coding novices who run blogs or websites via the many portals and services offered, can do nothing with that overly complex, virtually useless kit. We will be surprised if anyone uses it.

We ourselves, as already stated more than 3 years ago, rely on the simple solution that SilkTide presents. Thank you.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Wisdom ? of Parliaments and the Case of Weather Forecast Pioneer Admiral Robert FitzRoy

How misled can your average politician or scientist be in thinking what is right?
today and yesterday?

Consider the story of the fate of weather forecast pioneer
Admiral Robert FitzRoy,
captain of the HMS Beagle for Charles Darwin's famous voyage.

Peter Moore at BBC News relates that story to us in
The Birth of the Weather Forecast
where we read informatively that:
"When one MP suggested in the [House of] Commons in 1854 that recent advances in scientific theory might soon allow them to know the weather in London "twenty-four hours beforehand", the House roared with laughter."
As amazing as it may appear to us in our modern world today, the idea of the possibility of "weather forecasting" was considered a lunacy by most people in mainstream politics and science as late as the 19th century.

Indeed, weather forecast pioneer Admiral Robert FitzRoy, "the father of weather forecasting", met with vast resistance in his era, but as Moore tells us:
"[T]oday his vision of a public forecasting service, funded by government for the benefit of all, is fundamental to our way of life. 
His department, which began with a staff of three, now employs more than 1,500 people and has an annual budget of more than £80m.... 
Dame Julia Slingo, the Met Office's current chief scientist explains: "FitzRoy was really ahead of his time. He was not mistaken or eccentric, he was just at the start of a very long journey, one that continues today in the Met Office."
Little has changed in people, politics or science in the intervening 161 years.

Mankind remains as difficult to teach to rise above its biases, ignorance and superstitions as it was in the Commons of 1854 where weather forecasting was literally laughed out of the House -- by the unfit.

Paradoxically, Darwin is famous
but who knows about FitzRoy?

And yet we all should daily thank FitzRoy, and not Darwin.

FitzRoy was right -- weather can be forecasted.
Not perfectly, but enough to be of a very big help to mankind.

Darwin on the other hand told us that the "fittest" survive.
When we view the daily news, however, we are not sure about that.

Things appear to be more chance than merit,
and probabilities seem to guide survival outcomes more than fitness.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Massive Eurozone Lending by Strong EU and Other Nations to Weak Economies as a Clever Long Term Plan of Indirect Currency Devaluation?

The Economist has a piece on the Greek debt crisis.

Here is our question for the pundits.

Let's say for purposes of calculation that there are ca. 10000000 Greeks (it is actually more like 11 million) with a government debt of ca. €300000000000 (some say 320 billion). Reduce both by 7 zeros and you get ca. €30000 per Greek. The question then becomes why it was permitted to loan out that kind of money to a basically non-industrial 3rd world nation that has no structural basis to ever repay that kind of exorbitant debt.

Is the indirect devaluation of the Euro over time actually a clever long-term financial plan instituted by strong nations via absurdly exorbitant lending to weak borrower nations? What other rational explanation is there?

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Greece and the Debt Crisis: A Basic Analysis of Options

Zachary Goldfarb at the Washington Post Wonkblog sizes up the debt crisis in Greece.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Greece: Where Some of the Money Owed Went: The 2004 Athens Olympics Venue and its Now Abandoned Building Infrastructure

We don't know what percentage of the 2004 Athens Olympics total building infrastructure this involves, but the linked article gives some idea of where at least some of the money now owed by Greece arguably went. What the 2004 Athens Olympics venues look like today

Friday, June 26, 2015

The European Union, the Eurozone and the Financial Crisis in Greece: Has Anything Substantial Changed in the Last Four Years?

We have always been fans of Greece, particularly ancient Greek history, and have even written about it. See The Phaistos Disc: An Ancient Enigma Solved: Two corroborative Old Elamite scripts can be deciphered using the Greek syllabic values obtained for the Phaistos Disc by A. Kaulins in 1980.

Greece is a marvellous country and we have also vacationed there -- some years ago, enjoying superb Greek hospitality, food, music and lifestyle.

Ever since antiquity, and surely since the days of the Trojan Horse, the Greeks have always had the reputation of being keen and clever persons, a cleverness that modernly extends deep into the business and economic world.

As written at Bloomberg in Billionaire Greek Ship Owners Surface While Home Economy Sinks:
"Greeks have long dominated the shipping business. The nation’s fleet, numbering 3,669 vessels in 2013, is the largest in the world, according to the annual report of the Union of Greek Shipowners, making up more than 7 percent of the Greek economy and providing 192,000 jobs in 2013.

Greece’s shipping magnates control 23 percent of the world bulk carrier fleet, according to the report, even as their home country accounts for less than 0.4 percent of the world economy. 

...
As social pressures mount, the privileged tax status of the shipping industry has come under increasing scrutiny as successive Greek governments look to boost revenue. The industry pays no tax on international earnings brought into the country under rules incorporated in Greece’s constitution in 1967." [emphasis added]
But that cleverness poses modern problems.

Given the above knowledge about the virtual non-taxation of shipping in Greece, many observers in the world and in the European Union viz. Eurozone have little sympathy for the present Greek financial crisis. A government that does not tax its major industries is not going to have much money.

Moreover, observers are astounded that Greece not only has the highest pensions spend in the Eurozone, but seems unwilling to reform its vast overspending habits or to make major reforms to a totally skewed national economy that has ca. 800000 civil servants, whereas, by population, if compared to the number of civil servants in the United Kingdom, it should have maximally only 80000 civil servants, i.e. 1/10th that amount.

The reality is that e.g. citizens in France and Germany have saved their money over decades and have saved that money in banks who have loaned that money out inter alia to Greece, in effect, as it turns out, to finance Greek overspending and to subsidize the Greek shipping business, which, as noted above, pays virtually no taxes.

Now that is cleverness on the part of the Greeks and one should view it as such. We live in a world where people get what they can, if you let them.

But now the trick is known, and it should not go on indefinitely.

It turns out that the Greek government owes so much money to banks that Greece has little hope of ever repaying the vast monies that have gone to finance the past decades of Greek overspending with money financed north of the Alps. As written by Mehreen Khan at the Telegraph: "Greece's debt mountain is set to rise to 180pc of GDP this year."

Is there a workable path out of the situation?
or is this now the end for Greece in the Eurozone?
See
Greece talks to go down to the wire amid fears of imminent banking collapse

The problem of the European Union, the Eurozone and the Greek financial crisis was discussed in understandable form at the London Review of Books by John Lanchester in Once Greece goes…: Any hope for the euro? · LRB 14 July 2011.

That was FOUR years ago.

If one reads the article now, and one really should read it to understand the core essentials of the problem, it would appear to this observer that virtually nothing substantial has changed in the last four years in terms of any truly effective structural economic and financial improvements in Greece.

As Paul Krugman has long pointed out, simple austerity is not working and of course can not work. It never has, because it shrinks an economy that needs to be growing fast to meet its spiral of increasing debts. Austerity has merely led to increasingly high levels of unemployment and many other social evils.

As for obtaining more government money via taxation, a government must focus on the people who have that money, and not on those who do not have it. In Greece, the rich pay few taxes, and, indeed, the richest industry, shipping, is virtually freed from taxation. How is government finance then supposed to work? Where is the money to come from if home industry does not pay it? The answer has been that loans from northern nations have been paying the bills.

In other words, it is no wonder that the problem of Greece persists still today.

It is equally understandable that there are many proposed solutions:
  • The Greeks themselves, as could be expected, are pragmatic. As written by John Hooper at the Guardian in Greece’s plight at odds with public's lack of concern as default deferred – for now (this was in May):
    "Kostas Panagopoulos, of Alco Polls, said a survey he carried out last month indicated the public was already resigned to compromise: 52% of respondents said they wanted a deal with Greece’s creditors “even if the prime minister had to step over those red lines”.
    Hence, we expect a compromise whose reaching Greece will surely prolong as long as possible simply to win time.
  • No Simple, Painless Solutions for Greece: Das - "Risk Consultant and Author Satyajit Das discusses Greece’s attempt to get new bailout terms from Germany and the ECB with Bloomberg’s Rishaad Salamat on “On The Move.
  • Mikio Kumada - Greece Should Sign Any Deal, LGT Capital's Kumada Says - "Mikio Kumada, a strategist at LGT Capital Partners Ltd., talks about the standoff between Greece and its creditors. He speaks in Hong Kong with Angie Lau on Bloomberg Television's "Asia Edge." (Source: Bloomberg)"
  • At Zero Hedge, Tyler Durden's picture - The Austrian Solution to Greece
  • A Greek exit from the Eurozone as the last option - Michael Nevradakis interviews Economist Roger Bootle in "Grexit" Is the Only Solution for Greece
We have a simpler solution: nationalize the shipping industry, confiscate private and business assets of the rich, wherever found, pay off the nation's debts, and go from there.

Of course, that will never be done, but our proposed solution, easily implemented, very clearly puts the focus on the cardinal question which is always: who pays????????

The clever ones seldom do.

Look at the digital era companies Apple and Google in the USA, who pay little corporate income tax, which is not "tax avoidance", as Tim Worstall has correctly pointed out at Forbes in Can We Please Get This Straight, Apple And Google Do Not Avoid US Corporate Tax, but is simply utilisation of tax rule options provided to them by the laws, i.e. the government. It is comparable to the tax preferences viz. "exemptions" granted to the shipping industry in Greece. And Greece shows us where that kind of preferential treatment of corporations -- who make full use of the free infrastructures of government -- ultimatley leads: to government insolvency.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

President Barack Obama via The White House Email Sends Out Letter on U.S. Supreme Court Decision Today Upholding Obamacare

In what should be a topic of interest in Europe, the President of the United States via The White House just sent out this email (as follows in content) regarding today's U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding Obamacare:

"On March 23, 2010, I sat down at a table in the East Room of the White House and signed my name on a law that said, once and for all, that health care would no longer be a privilege for a few. It would be a right for everyone.

Five years later, after more than 50 votes in Congress to repeal or weaken this law and multiple challenges before the Supreme Court, here is what we know today:

This law worked. It's still working. It has changed and saved American lives. It has set this country on a smarter, stronger course.

And it's here to stay.

If that means something to you today, add your voice here.

This morning, the Supreme Court upheld one of the most critical parts of health reform -- the part that has made it easier for Americans to afford health insurance, no matter where you live.

If the challenges to this law had succeeded, millions would have had thousands of dollars in tax credits taken away. Insurance would have once again become unaffordable for many Americans. Many would have even become uninsured again. Ultimately, everyone's premiums could have gone up.

Because of this law, and because of today's decision, millions of Americans will continue to receive the tax credits that have given about 8 in 10 people who buy insurance on the new Health Insurance Marketplaces the choice of a health care plan that costs less than $100 a month.

If you're a parent, you can keep your kids on your plan until they turn 26 -- something that has covered millions of young people so far. That's because of this law. If you're a senior, or have a disability, this law gives you discounts on your prescriptions -- something that has saved 9 million Americans an average of $1,600 so far. If you're a woman, you can't be charged more than anybody else -- even if you've had cancer, or your husband had heart disease, or just because you're a woman. Your insurer has to offer free preventive services like mammograms. They can't place annual or lifetime caps on your care.

And when it comes to preexisting conditions -- someday, our grandkids will ask us if there was really a time when America discriminated against people who got sick. Because that's something this law has ended for good.

Five years in and more than 16 million insured Americans later, this is no longer just about a law. This isn't just about the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

This is health care in America.

Today is a victory for every American whose life will continue to become more secure because of this law. And 20, 30, 50 years from now, most Americans may not know what "Obamacare" is. And that's okay. That's the point.

Because today, this reform remains what it always has been -- a set of fairer rules and tougher protections that have made health care in America more affordable, more attainable, and more about you.

That's who we are as Americans. We look out for one another. We take care of each other. We root for one another's success. We strive to do better, to be better, than the generation before us, and we try to build something better for the generation that comes behind us.

And today, with this behind us, let's come together and keep building something better. That starts right now.

Thank you,

President Barack Obama"

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