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Award winning author and economist Tomas Piketty calls out Greek crisis hypocrisy, ‘Germany has never repaid its debts’

Tomas Piketty, “What a huge joke! Germany is the country that has never repaid its debts. It has no standing to lecture other nations.”

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Post originally appeared on Zerohedge.

One year after Tomas Piketty sold a record number of economic textbook paperweights which virtually nobody read past page 26, once again showing the power of constant media hype, the French economist and wealth redistributor is out and about, this time pouring more gasoline on the fire started by the IMF last week when it released the Greek debt sustainability analysis showing Greece needs a 30% haircut, only to be met with stern resistance by, who else, Germany who know very well that should Greece get a debt haircut it will unleash the European dominoes which not even all the bluster and rhetoric of the ECB can halt.

And while Piketty’s book may have sold out in socialist France, it seems Germany did not leave a pleasant taste in the celebrity economist’s mouth, and in an interview with Germany’s Zeit magazine, translated into English, the Frenchman just made sure he will never sell another book east of the Rhine. Here is the reason why:

When I hear the Germans say that they maintain a very moral stance about debt and strongly believe that debts must be repaid, then I think: what a huge joke! Germany is the country that has never repaid its debts. It has no standing to lecture other nations.

… Germany is really the single best example of a country that, throughout its history, has never repaid its external debt. Neither after the First nor the Second World War.However, it has frequently made other nations pay up, such as after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, when it demanded massive reparations from France and indeed received them. The French state suffered for decades under this debt. The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.

What he said is perfectly factual and accurate, but in the new normal, truth is not a welcome commodity, especially when it pulls the scab on the single biggest problem with the modern economy, namely the gargantuan debt overhang (see Greece) which nobody can possibly default on without triggering massive contagion around the globe and thus leaving (hyper)inflation as the only possible way out.

A good question is whether this philosophical contrast exposed by Piketty is also indicative of the fundamental schism that is appearing not only within the Troika, where the IMF effectively won Tsipras’ referendum for him, but also within the Eurogroup, where Germany may soon find itself increasingly isolated as not only peripheral countries but soon France start clamoring for debt haircuts not only abroad but also back at home…

Full interview:

Thomas Piketty: “Germany has never repaid.”

In a forceful interview with German newspaper Die Zeit, the star economist Thomas Piketty calls for a major conference on debt. Germany, in particular, should not withhold help from Greece. This interview has been translated from the original German.

Since his successful book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” the Frenchman Thomas Piketty has been considered one of the most influential economists in the world. His argument for the redistribution of income and wealth launched a worldwide discussion. In a interview with Georg Blume of DIE ZEIT, he gives his clear opinions on the European debt debate.

DIE ZEIT: Should we Germans be happy that even the French government is aligned with the German dogma of austerity?

Thomas Piketty: Absolutely not. This is neither a reason for France, nor Germany, and especially not for Europe, to be happy. I am much more afraid that the conservatives, especially in Germany, are about to destroy Europe and the European idea, all because of their shocking ignorance of history.

ZEIT: But we Germans have already reckoned with our own history.

Piketty: But not when it comes to repaying debts! Germany’s past, in this respect, should be of great significance to today’s Germans. Look at the history of national debt: Great Britain, Germany, and France were all once in the situation of today’s Greece, and in fact had been far more indebted. The first lesson that we can take from the history of government debt is that we are not facing a brand new problem. There have been many ways to repay debts, and not just one, which is what Berlin and Paris would have the Greeks believe.

ZEIT: But shouldn’t they repay their debts?

Piketty: My book recounts the history of income and wealth, including that of nations. What struck me while I was writing is that Germany is really the single best example of a country that, throughout its history, has never repaid its external debt. Neither after the First nor the Second World War. However, it has frequently made other nations pay up, such as after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, when it demanded massive reparations from France and indeed received them. The French state suffered for decades under this debt. The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.

ZEIT: But surely we can’t draw the conclusion that we can do no better today?

Piketty: When I hear the Germans say that they maintain a very moral stance about debt and strongly believe that debts must be repaid, then I think: what a huge joke! Germany is the country that has never repaid its debts. It has no standing to lecture other nations.

ZEIT: Are you trying to depict states that don’t pay back their debts as winners?

Piketty: Germany is just such a state. But wait: history shows us two ways for an indebted state to leave delinquency. One was demonstrated by the British Empire in the 19th century after its expensive wars with Napoleon. It is the slow method that is now being recommended to Greece. The Empire repaid its debts through strict budgetary discipline. This worked, but it took an extremely long time. For over 100 years, the British gave up two to three percent of their economy to repay its debts, which was more than they spent on schools and education. That didn’t have to happen, and it shouldn’t happen today. The second method is much faster. Germany proved it in the 20th century. Essentially, it consists of three components: inflation, a special tax on private wealth, and debt relief.

ZEIT: So you’re telling us that the German Wirtschaftswunder [“economic miracle”] was based on the same kind of debt relief that we deny Greece today?

Piketty: Exactly. After the war ended in 1945, Germany’s debt amounted to over 200% of its GDP. Ten years later, little of that remained: public debt was less than 20% of GDP. Around the same time, France managed a similarly artful turnaround. We never would have managed this unbelievably fast reduction in debt through the fiscal discipline that we today recommend to Greece. Instead, both of our states employed the second method with the three components that I mentioned, including debt relief. Think about the London Debt Agreement of 1953, where 60% of German foreign debt was cancelled and its internal debts were restructured.

ZEIT: That happened because people recognized that the high reparations demanded of Germany after World War I were one of the causes of the Second World War. People wanted to forgive Germany’s sins this time!

Piketty: Nonsense! This had nothing to do with moral clarity; it was a rational political and economic decision. They correctly recognized that, after large crises that created huge debt loads, at some point people need to look toward the future. We cannot demand that new generations must pay for decades for the mistakes of their parents. The Greeks have, without a doubt, made big mistakes. Until 2009, the government in Athens forged its books. But despite this, the younger generation of Greeks carries no more responsibility for the mistakes of its elders than the younger generation of Germans did in the 1950s and 1960s. We need to look ahead. Europe was founded on debt forgiveness and investment in the future. Not on the idea of endless penance. We need to remember this.

ZEIT: The end of the Second World War was a breakdown of civilization. Europe was a killing field. Today is different.

Piketty: To deny the historical parallels to the postwar period would be wrong. Let’s think about the financial crisis of 2008/2009. This wasn’t just any crisis. It was the biggest financial crisis since 1929. So the comparison is quite valid. This is equally true for the Greek economy: between 2009 and 2015, its GDP has fallen by 25%. This is comparable to the recessions in Germany and France between 1929 and 1935.

ZEIT: Many Germans believe that the Greeks still have not recognized their mistakes and want to continue their free-spending ways.

Piketty: If we had told you Germans in the 1950s that you have not properly recognized your failures, you would still be repaying your debts. Luckily, we were more intelligent than that.

ZEIT: The German Minister of Finance, on the other hand, seems to believe that a Greek exit from the Eurozone could foster greater unity within Europe.

Piketty: If we start kicking states out, then the crisis of confidence in which the Eurozone finds itself today will only worsen. Financial markets will immediately turn on the next country. This would be the beginning of a long, drawn-out period of agony, in whose grasp we risk sacrificing Europe’s social model, its democracy, indeed its civilization on the altar of a conservative, irrational austerity policy.

ZEIT: Do you believe that we Germans aren’t generous enough?

Piketty: What are you talking about? Generous? Currently, Germany is profiting from Greece as it extends loans at comparatively high interest rates.

ZEIT: What solution would you suggest for this crisis?

Piketty: We need a conference on all of Europe’s debts, just like after World War II. A restructuring of all debt, not just in Greece but in several European countries, is inevitable. Just now, we’ve lost six months in the completely intransparent negotiations with Athens. The Eurogroup’s notion that Greece will reach a budgetary surplus of 4% of GDP and will pay back its debts within 30 to 40 years is still on the table. Allegedly, they will reach one percent surplus in 2015, then two percent in 2016, and three and a half percent in 2017. Completely ridiculous! This will never happen. Yet we keep postponing the necessary debate until the cows come home.

ZEIT: And what would happen after the major debt cuts?

Piketty: A new European institution would be required to determine the maximum allowable budget deficit in order to prevent the regrowth of debt. For example, this could be a commmittee in the European Parliament consisting of legislators from national parliaments. Budgetary decisions should not be off-limits to legislatures. To undermine European democracy, which is what Germany is doing today by insisting that states remain in penury under mechanisms that Berlin itself is muscling through, is a grievous mistake.

ZEIT: Your president, François Hollande, recently failed to criticize the fiscal pact.

Piketty: This does not improve anything. If, in past years, decisions in Europe had been reached in more democratic ways, the current austerity policy in Europe would be less strict.

ZEIT: But no political party in France is participating. National sovereignty is considered holy.

Piketty: Indeed, in Germany many more people are entertaining thoughts of reestablishing European democracy, in contrast to France with its countless believers in sovereignty. What’s more, our president still portrays himself as a prisoner of the failed 2005 referendum on a European Constitution, which failed in France. François Hollande does not understand that a lot has changed because of the financial crisis. We have to overcome our own national egoism.

ZEIT: What sort of national egoism do you see in Germany?

Piketty: I think that Germany was greatly shaped by its reunification. It was long feared that it would lead to economic stagnation. But then reunification turned out to be a great success thanks to a functioning social safety net and an intact industrial sector. Meanwhile, Germany has become so proud of its success that it dispenses lectures to all other countries. This is a little infantile. Of course, I understand how important the successful reunification was to the personal history of Chancellor Angela Merkel. But now Germany has to rethink things. Otherwise, its position on the debt crisis will be a grave danger to Europe.

ZEIT: What advice do you have for the Chancellor?

Piketty: Those who want to chase Greece out of the Eurozone today will end up on the trash heap of history. If the Chancellor wants to secure her place in the history books, just like [Helmut] Kohl did during reunification, then she must forge a solution to the Greek question, including a debt conference where we can start with a clean slate. But with renewed, much stronger fiscal discipline.

This interview was translated by Gavin Schalliol.

References:

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-07-06/piketty-germany-has-never-repaid-its-debts-it-has-no-standing-lecture-other-nations

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Is Silicon Valley Morphing Into The Morality Police?

Who gets to define what words and phrases protected under the First Amendment constitute hate — a catchall word that is often ascribed to any offensive speech someone simply doesn’t like?

The Duran

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Authored by Adrian Cohen via Creators.com:


Silicon Valley used to be technology companies. But it has become the “morality police,” controlling free speech on its platforms.

What could go wrong?

In a speech Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said:

“Hate tries to make its headquarters in the digital world. At Apple, we believe that technology needs to have a clear point of view on this challenge. There is no time to get tied up in knots. That’s why we only have one message for those who seek to push hate, division and violence: You have no place on our platforms.”

Here’s the goliath problem:

Who gets to define what words and phrases protected under the First Amendment constitute hate — a catchall word that is often ascribed to any offensive speech someone simply doesn’t like?

Will Christians who don’t support abortion rights or having their tax dollars go toward Planned Parenthood be considered purveyors of hate for denying women the right to choose? Will millions of Americans who support legal immigration, as opposed to illegal immigration, be labeled xenophobes or racists and be banned from the digital world?

Yes and yes. How do we know? It’s already happening, as scores of conservatives nationwide are being shadow banned and/or censored on social media, YouTube, Google and beyond.

Their crime?

Running afoul of leftist Silicon Valley executives who demand conformity of thought and simply won’t tolerate any viewpoint that strays from their rigid political orthodoxy.

For context, consider that in oppressive Islamist regimes throughout the Middle East, the “morality police” take it upon themselves to judge women’s appearance, and if a woman doesn’t conform with their mandatory and highly restrictive dress code — e.g., wearing an identity-cloaking burqa — she could be publicly shamed, arrested or even stoned in the town square.

In modern-day America, powerful technology companies are actively taking the role of the de facto morality police — not when it comes to dress but when it comes to speech — affecting millions. Yes, to date, those affected are not getting stoned, but they are being blocked in the digital town square, where billions around the globe do their business, cultivate their livelihoods, connect with others and get news.

That is a powerful cudgel to levy against individuals and groups of people. Wouldn’t you say?

Right now, unelected tech billionaires living in a bubble in Palo Alto — when they’re not flying private to cushy climate summits in Davos — are deciding who gets to enjoy the freedom of speech enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and who does not based on whether they agree with people’s political views and opinions or not.

You see how dangerous this can get — real fast — as partisan liberal elites running Twitter, Facebook, Google (including YouTube), Apple and the like are now dictating to Americans what they can and cannot say online.

In communist regimes, these types of folks are known as central planners.

The election of Donald Trump was supposed to safeguard our freedoms, especially regarding speech — a foundational pillar of a democracy. It’s disappointing that hasn’t happened, as the censorship of conservative thought online has gotten so extreme and out of control many are simply logging off for good.

A failure to address this mammoth issue could cost Trump in 2020. If his supporters are blocked online — where most voters get their news — he’ll be a one-term president.

It’s time for Congress to act before the morality police use political correctness as a Trojan horse to decide our next election.

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Paul Craig Roberts: The Disintegration of Western Society

Feminists brought this madness onto themselves.

Paul Craig Roberts

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Authored by Paul Craig Roberts:


Radical feminists are now being banned by Twitter not because they hate men, which is perfectly OK as far as Twitter is concerned, but because they object to “transwomen.”

What is a “transwoman?” As far as I can understand, a “transwoman” is a male with a penis who declares himself to be a women and demands his right to use women’s toilette facilities along with the women who are using them.

The feminist, Meghan Murphy, twittered a statement and a question:

“Men are not women.”

“How are transwomen not men? What is the difference between men and transwomen?”

Twitter described this as “hateful conduct” and banned Meghan Murphy. https://quillette.com/2018/11/28/twitters-trans-activist-decree/

There you have it. Yesterday it was feminists who were exercising their special society-bestowed privileges to censor. Today it is the feminists who are being censored. As this insanity of “Western Civilization” continues, tomorrow it will be the transwomen who are censored and banned.

What precisely is afoot?

My readers, who have partially and some wholly escaped from The Matrix, understand that this is the further fragmentation of American society. Identity Politics has set men, women, blacks, Jews, Asians, Hispanics, and white people against one another. Identity Politics is the essence of the Democratic Party and the American liberal/progressive/left. Now, with the creation of “new” but otherwise nonexistent “genders,” although they are honored as real by the controlled whores who masquerade as a “Western media,” we witness radical feminists being silenced by men pretending to be women.

I sympathize with Meghan Murphy, but she brought this on herself and on the rest of us by accepting Identity Politics. Identity Politics gave Meghan a justification for hating men even, as she failed to realize, it provided the basis for moving her into the exploitative class that must be censored.

Where does this end?

It has already gone far enough that the American population is so divided and mutually hostile that there is no restraint by “the American people” on government and the elite oligarchs that rule. “The American people” are no longer a reality but a mythical creature like the unicorn.

The film, The Matrix, is the greatest film of out lifetime. Why? Because it shows that there are two realities. A real one of which only a few people are aware, and a virtual one in which eveyone else lives.

In the United States today, and throughout “Western Brainwashed Civilization,” only a handful of people exist who are capable of differentiating the real from the created reality in which all explanations are controlled and kept as far away from the truth as possible. Everything that every Western government and “news” organization says is a lie to control the explanations that we are fed in order to keep us locked in The Matrix.

The ability to control people’s understandings is so extraordinary that, despite massive evidence to the contrary, Americans believe that Oswald, acting alone, was the best shot in human history and using magic bullets killed President John F. Kenndy; that a handful of Saudi Arabians who demonstratively could not fly airplanes outwitted the American national security state and brought down 3 World Trade Center skyscrapers and part of the Pentagon; that Saddam Hussein had and was going to use on the US “weapons of mass destruction;” that Assad “used chemical weapons” against “his own people;” that Libya’s Gaddifi gave his soldiers Viagra so they could better rape Libyan women; that Russia “invaded Ukraine;” that Trump and Putin stole the presidential election from Hillary.

The construction of a make-believe reality guarantees the US military/security complex’s annual budget of $1,000 billion dollars of taxpayers’ money even as Congress debates cutting Social Security in order to divert more largess to the pockets of the corrupt military/security complex.

Readers ask me what they can do about it. Nothing, except revolt and cleanse the system, precisely as Founding Father Thomas Jefferson said.

Is Thomas Jefferson Alive and Well In Paris?

If this report is correct, pray the revolt spreads to the US.

https://www.infowars.com/video-french-police-remove-helmets-in-solidarity-with-yellow-vest-protesters/

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Google Employees debated burying conservative media in search

Google engineer Scott Byer falsely labeled The Daily Caller and Breitbart as “opinion blogs” and urged his coworkers to reduce their visibility in search results.

The Daily Caller

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Via The Daily Caller


  • Google employees debated whether to bury The Daily Caller and other conservative media outlets in the company’s search function as a response to President Donald Trump’s election
  • “Let’s make sure that we reverse things in four years,” one engineer wrote in a thread that included a Google vice president
  • Google employees similarly sought to manipulate search results to combat Trump’s travel ban

Google employees debated whether to bury conservative media outlets in the company’s search function as a response to President Donald Trump’s election in 2016, internal Google communications obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation reveal.

The Daily Caller and Breitbart were specifically singled out as outlets to potentially bury, the communications reveal.

Trump’s election in 2016 shocked many Google employees, who had been counting on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to win.

Communications obtained by TheDCNF show that internal Google discussions went beyond expressing remorse over Clinton’s loss to actually discussing ways Google could prevent Trump from winning again.

“This was an election of false equivalencies, and Google, sadly, had a hand in it,” Google engineer Scott Byer wrote in a Nov. 9, 2016, post reviewed by TheDCNF.

Byer falsely labeled The Daily Caller and Breitbart as “opinion blogs” and urged his coworkers to reduce their visibility in search results.

“How many times did you see the Election now card with items from opinion blogs (Breitbart, Daily Caller) elevated next to legitimate news organizations? That’s something that can and should be fixed,” Byer wrote.

“I think we have a responsibility to expose the quality and truthfulness of sources – because not doing so hides real information under loud noises,” he continued.

“Beyond that, let’s concentrate on teaching critical thinking. A little bit of that would go a long way. Let’s make sure that we reverse things in four years – demographics will be on our side.”

Some of Byer’s colleagues expressed concern that manipulating search results could backfire and suggested alternative measures

One Google engineer, Uri Dekel, identified himself as a Clinton supporter but argued that manipulating search results was the wrong route to take.

“Thinking that Breitbart, Drudge, etc. are not ‘legitimate news sources’ is contrary to the beliefs of a major portion of our user base is partially what got us to this mess. MSNBC is not more legit than Drudge just because Rachel Maddow may be more educated / less deplorable / closer to our views, than, say Sean Hannity,” Dekel wrote in a reply to Byer.

“I follow a lot of right wing folks on social networks you could tell something was brewing. We laughed off Drudge’s Instant Polls and all that stuff, but in the end, people go to those sources because they believe that the media doesn’t do it’s job. I’m a Hillary supporter and let’s admit it, the media avoided dealing with the hard questions and issues, which didn’t pay off. By ranking ‘legitimacy’ you’ll just introduce more conspiracy theories,” Dekel added.

“Too many times, Breitbart is just echoing a demonstrably made up story,” Byer wrote in a reply to his original post. He did not cite any examples.

“That happens at MSNBC, too. I don’t want a political judgement. The desire is to break the myth feedback loop, the false equivalency, instead of the current amplification of it,” Byer added.

“What I believe we can do, technically, that avoids the accusations of conspiracy or bias from people who ultimately have a right and obligation to decide what they want to believe, is to get better at displaying the ‘ripples’ and copy-pasta, to trace information to its source, to link to critiques of those sources, and let people decide what sources they believe,” another Google engineer, Mike Brauwerman, suggested.

“Give people a comprehensive but effectively summarized view of the information, not context-free rage-inducing sound-bytes,” he added.

“We’re working on providing users with context around stories so that they can know the bigger picture,” chimed in David Besbris, vice president of engineering at Google.

“We can play a role in providing the full story and educate them about all sides. This doesn’t have to be filtering and can be useful to everyone,” he wrote.

Other employees similarly advocated providing contextual information about media sources in search results, and the company later did so with a short-lived fact check at the end of 2017.

Not only did the fact-check feature target conservative outlets almost exclusively, it was also blatantly wrong. Google’s fact check repeatedly attributed false claims to those outlets, even though they demonstrably never made those claims.

Google pulled the faulty fact-check program in January, crediting TheDCNF’s investigation for the decision.

A Google spokeswoman said that the conversation did not lead to manipulation of search results for political purposes.

“This post shows that far from suppressing Breitbart and Daily Caller, we surfaced these sites regularly in our products. Furthermore, it shows that we value providing people with the full view on stories from a variety of sources,” the spokeswoman told TheDCNF in an email.

“Google has never manipulated its search results or modified any of its products to promote a particular political ideology. Our processes and policies do not allow for any manipulation of search results to promote political ideologies.”

The discussion about whether to bury conservative media outlets isn’t the first evidence that some Google employees have sought to manipulate search results for political ends.

After Trump announced his initial travel ban in January 2017, Google employees discussed ways to manipulate search results in order to push back against the president’s order.

A group of employees brainstormed ways to counter “islamophobic, algorithmically biased results from search terms ‘Islam’, ‘Muslim’, ‘Iran’, etc,” as well as “prejudiced, algorithmically biased search results from search terms ‘Mexico’, ‘Hispanic’, ‘Latino’, etc.”

WATCH:

Trump speculated to The Daily Caller in September that Google and Facebook are trying to affect election outcomes.

“I think they already have,” Trump said, responding to questions about potential election interference by Google and Facebook.

“I mean the true interference in the last election was that — if you look at all, virtually all of those companies are super liberal companies in favor of Hillary Clinton,” he added.

“Maybe I did a better job because I’m good with the Twitter and I’m good at social media, but the truth is they were all on Hillary Clinton’s side, and if you look at what was going on with Facebook and with Google and all of it, they were very much on her side,” Trump continued.

Google this month corrected a “knowledge panel” about a Republican women’s group that labeled them “enablers.”

Google cited Wikipedia for the disparaging description, though a similar change made to Wikipedia’s page for the women’s group was corrected almost immediately. Google left up the digital vandalism for three weeks.

Google apologized in May after search results for the California Republican Party falsely listed “Nazism” as one of the state party’s ideologies.

Then, too, Google blamed manipulation of the party’s Wikipedia page for the inaccurate and disparaging description.

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