Monday, September 30, 2013

Shutdown Is Bad

Just for the record, I'm am against a government shutdown.  I basically quit the government by retiring from the Foreign Service after the 1995-6 government shutdown.  I blame the Republicans.  I blamed Newt Gingrich and his Republican followers for the first shutdown, and I blame the Tea Party Republicans for this shutdown, if it happens.  The government should go about its business in a business-like way.  People say one test of a business is whether it can meet a payroll.  The Republicans can't do it.  For all of Boehner's talk about growing up as a small businessman in his father's bar, he is on the brink of being a failure as a businessman on a much bigger stage.

The government should honor its commitments.  If it is over committed, which it is, then it should have a debate about how to revise its commitments, but it should do that prospectively, not by refusing to pay people who have relied on it.  Presumably, the failure to raise the debt ceiling in about two weeks might be worse financially, but morally the two failures are more or less equivalent.  The US has lost its integrity.

I think that Newt consigned the US to the status of a second (or third) class country when he shut the government down.  These are not serious people, and if they run the government, this is not a serious government.  In the Foreign Service, I felt that the government abandoned me in Warsaw, Poland.  It seems possible that it may now abandon troops in the field.  In my opinion, the Republicans are largely unpatriotic cowards.  Most of them never served in the military, never fought for this country, although they are quick to send other people off to die for America.  John McCain is more or less the exception that proves the rule.

Right now, I hear former Republican Senator Fred Thomson selling reverse mortgages to old people on the TV.  What a disgrace!  He is typical of the low class of people who have become politicians in America, and who are now on the verge of shutting down the government and showing the world what a laughingstock America is.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Syria Did It

The UN report on the use of chemical weapons on Syria seems to pretty clearly link the weapons' use to Assad's Syrian government.  The rocket delivery system in particular seems to rule out the rebels.  While it might not clearly link the attack to Assad himself, if someone else initiated the attack, it is an even stronger argument for getting rid of all chemical weapons in Syria.

Bankers Are the Welfare Queens

It turns out that the big bankers are Reagan's real welfare queens driving their Cadillacs or more likely their BMWs or Mercedes.  When Larry Summers dropped out of the Fed Chair race, the stock market went up, because they thought that he would not be as likely to follow Bernanke's stimulative QE policies as Janet Yellen would.  I think that Bernanke is truly targeting high unemployment, which is being largely ignored by Congress (particularly Republicans) and the administration, which seems to have given up on any meaningful economic agenda.  The indirect effect of the Fed's trying to reduce unemployment, however, is low interest rates, essentially giving away money to the hanks and rich people on Wall Street.  This is partly because the Fed is an imperfect tool to reduce unemployment, especially when Congress is often working at cross purposes with it, which it is by enacting the sequester.

In addition, the banks have a huge, expensive lobbying effort to keep interest rates low and regulation to a minimum.  Corrupt Congressmen and Senators are happy to get their payoffs from the banks.  It's a dirty business, but the bankers are getting rich chowing down at the government table of free goodies.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Ecofund Did Its Job

While I was Science Counselor at the Amrican Embassy in Warsaw, we worked out a deal whereby Poland would pay part of its debt to the US to an enviornmental fund, Ecofund in English, Ekofundusz in Polish.  Just look around on a Polish newspaper web site, I found that the fund had endured until the debt payments ran out in 2010.  So at least one thing that I worked out appears to have done some good,  A Google translation of a Polish Ministry of Environment statement follows.


After more than 18 years of environmental activities EkoFundusz completes his mission. Almost 1500 for $ 8 billion investment zł (including EcoFund 2.5 billion zł) and strategic role in civilization leap that has been made in Poland in the environment after 89 on the shortest summary of the activities of the foundation. During the ceremony, Professor. Maciej Nowicki, a longtime president of the EcoFund, and two-time environment minister, received the Commander's Cross of the Order of the Rebirth of Polish for outstanding achievements in the field of environmental protection. Congratulations and thanks for making the hands of Professor. Maciej Nowicki by Janusz Zaleski, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Environment.
EkoFundusz managing funds from the conversion of the Polish foreign debt for investment in environmental protection, ceases to trade. In the 18 years of existence, the Foundation spent nearly 2.5 billion zł to finance projects related to environmental protection.
November 17 gala dinner on the occasion of termination EkoFundusz saying goodbye to the most significant for its business personalities, including former ministers Donald Tusk's government, including Waldemar Pawlak, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Economy. Among the guests were also prof. Leszek Balcerowicz and the representatives of the donor countries: USA, France, Switzerland, Italy, Sweden and Norway. The Ministry of Environment was represented by Janusz Zaleski, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Environment.
Minister Andrzej Kraszewski, commenting on the event emphasized:
- Eco-Fund is an initiative which was created thanks to the personal commitment of prof. Maciej Nowicki and during its operation significantly improved the state of the environment in Poland. It would not, however, without an understanding of the needs of the Polish governments of the donor countries, so we first need to thank them. The words of recognition and congratulations for making the Foundation for Polish environmental protection is filed in the hands of the former longtime president EcoFund, prof. Maciej Nowicki and current President of Stanislaus Sitnickiego. To all those who contributed to the success EcoFund - thank you very much.
President EcoFund Stanislaw Sitnicki thanking donors and colleagues emphasized:
- Eco-Fund participated in the financing of nearly 1,500 key projects for Polish output of ecological collapse. According to an independent evaluation of the program ecoconversion Foundation contribution to the improvement of the environment in Poland is far greater than its financial participation in the process. It would not, however, the chance of these projects or the staff were not magnanimous gesture of the donor, who took a risk and gave Poland the possibility of using part of the debt repayment from the 70's to invest in environmental protection.
During the ceremony, the Minister Jacek Michalowski, head of the President's Office on behalf of the President Bronislaw Komorowski gave prof. Maciej Nowicki Commander's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta Polish for exceptional service to the environmental achievements undertaken for the benefit of the country and public work. This is the second highest civilian honor Polish state.
Minister Maciej Nowicki in a statement after ticking said:
- This high state award I receive as a culmination of my 47 - year career in the service of my homeland, as a scientist, minister, president EcoFund and an expert in international forums. I saw before my eyes changed Poland, and improving the state of the environment and was glad that his work could also contribute to this improvement. I am grateful to President Komorowski that recognizes the importance of protecting the environment for citizens and accept this order as a symbol of appreciation for the progress they have made in Poland in the last 20 years.
EkoFundusz was established in 1992 by the Minister of Finance, to administer foreign aid funds (so-called eco-conversion means). They were given to Poland on the basis of an agreement on debt reduction and reorganization of the Polish Republic, which concluded in 1991, representatives of the Polish Government and the 17 creditor countries grouped in the Paris Club.
The program ecoconversion joined the six countries: USA, France, Switzerland, Italy, Sweden and Norway. Their total contribution to the Foundation for Eco-Fund amounted to $ 573 million. They formed the main source of revenue for the Foundation. For 18 years, the Minister of Finance on a quarterly basis were sent to the account EcoFund installments as debt repayment.
The Foundation's purpose was to finance projects in the field of environmental protection, which are not only important for the region or the country, but also affect the achievement of environmental objectives in a European or even world-recognized as a priority by the international community.
Statute EcoFund identified five sectors identified as priority areas. Applicants may receive grants for projects related to the protection of air, water protection, climate protection, nature conservation and waste management. Area of activity within each sector was narrowed according to the urgency of needs and the availability of mature project proposals.
President of the Foundation, 1992-2007 prof. Maciej Nowicki, Minister of the Environment twofold.
In 2010, the year of the Polish debt is repaid in full under an agreement with the Paris Club, is the date of cessation of EcoFund.