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Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Are ALL Guardian readers irredeemably stupid?

It started with a typically whiny Guardian piece yesterday titled "No one cares about us - Brits in Europe". It's part of a big whine from many of the 1m Brits living in Europe for special status - a status that can only come at a cost to the British. It is a typically selfish and self-obsessed whinge, as is normal today. My own view is that those of us who have chosen to make homes in Europe must make shift for ourselves; we made informed decisions. I want no-one in the UK to pay for my choice. 

Anyway, I commented to this effect. What 'protection' do you need, I asked, "To be permitted residence in Austria you have to prove you have an adequate income and are a member of an Austrian health insurance scheme - to demonstrate you are not a burden on Austrian taxpayers. Same before Brexit, same after. What's the problem?"

The problem, it emerged, is that several Guardian readers living in Austria are here unlawfully. If EU or EEA citizens intend to be here for more than 3 months, they must apply for a residency certificate, and do so before the end of month 4 or face steep daily fines.  I have my residency certificate. The Guardian readers do not. One declared that he classed himself as a free spirit and didn't agree with documentation in general, others said they had been here for many years and not been deported, others that said they didn't think the requirement was important. Not one seems to have read the widely available guidance from the Austrian government detailing residence requirements. All seem just to have understood that the EU meant free movement and acted on that - and now that they face problems post Brexit, are whining and moaning that the UK government and all the British people back home should get them out of the shit.

My own view is that the UK should not lift a finger to help them. If they are stupid enough, arrogant enough or misguided enough not even to understand the most basic residence requirements of another country then Austria is probably best rid of them - sorry, UK, you will get some irredeemably stupid and bitter Guardian readers back. I had a drink with my young German mates last night and asked them if they understood the Anmeldebescheinigung. Sure, they said - all of them working or studying in Austria have the 'yellow certificate'. They simply couldn't imagine anyone moving to Austria without checking out the requirements in advance. "They're Guardian readers" I explained "fantasists, dreamers, away with the fairies". They nodded, not quite understanding. 

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

2018 Austrian smoking ban to be scrapped

This is a post about freedom, not an encouragement to smoke tobacco. Myself, I am a committed tobaccophile - I'm just taking a very long break from smoking. If I make it to 70, I intend to start smoking again. I like the smell of smoke and am lucky having local friends who smoke - so my house is still furnished with ashtrays. I've also got some cigars which they will have to smoke for me over Christmas, whilst I bliss out on Colheita Port, Samuel Gawith snuff and the heady scent of best Havana leaf smoke. But because of the health disbenefits, I wouldn't encourage anyone to start.

Austrians however are firm believers in the rights of citizens to injure themselves in any way they wish. There isn't a week goes by without the local paper reporting in a matter-of-fact way another farmer crushed under his tractor, lady kicked to death by a horse, driver heading off a steep ravine or carpenter sawing his arm off. In fact, carpenters here wear their lack of fingers as a badge of honour - good carpenters, they reckon, must have lost at least two fingers. And there is no, I repeat no, whiny wailing in the media that 'Something must be done!' or that 'They must stop this happening!' after each death. Very philosophical they are about such things, here.

It reminds me of a train crash in Ghana in which several passengers had been killed. Our local Accra paper reported that the Transport Minister had visited the scene - not to call for an inquiry, or make vacuous promises, but simply to pour a libation of palm wine to appease the spirits of those killed. A policy at least as sound as, and possibly more so than, UK practice.    

One of the things here I particularly enjoy is my clothes reeking of smoke after a session down at the gasthaus. Sometimes, if I sniff deeply enough, I can still get a hit three days later. The current law does require bars over a certain size to offer a non-smoking room, usually a cold, empty room at the back somewhere, for anti-smokers. From next year all bars and restaurants where food is consumed would have been obliged to ban smoking - but Austria's new political coalition is putting an end to that. The FPOe - the Freedom Party -  is insisting the ban is scrapped. So those of us who really don't mind eating and smoking in the same room can carry on being as sociable as before.

It's a small win, but proof that there's still a libertarian tolerance in places. 


Monday, 11 December 2017

Population growth is not the only option

We go into 2018 with an EU that is already very different. Committed to becoming the USE within eight years, with an army, foreign office, finance ministry and powerful president, much hinges on the federation's forecasts for future growth. These have been gloomy because Euros have been breeding at below the replacement ratio of 1.2 2.1 children per couple. The EU's solution is to import 5m healthy breeders from Africa, the Middle East and Indian subcontinent. It made the decision much as a steel plant decides a new limestone contract, or a pie-maker signs up a new abattoir. Yes, all those sexually urgent young men in Germany are there not because Mrs Merkel felt sorry for them - it's their priapism that is valued, like little breeding rams, to impregnate German maidens and breed a new generation of factory workers for the global corporates. 

The EU also took the decision in secret, without consultation or any democratic endorsement. You see, we ordinary folk don't know what's best for us, and need benign and sober heads such as Herr Juncker's to decide these things for us. It's jolly bad form to question the EU's wisdom and anyone who does so must be a Hitlerite bigot. 

Now I don't doubt the EU's well-meaning. What I condemn is their stupidity. The utter, crass, doltish stupidity of fools like the EU commissioners is the very reason we have democracy - crowds make better decisions than 'experts'.

That they're still pursuing their insane aims at a time when factories are becoming fully robotic, when AI is replacing vast swathes of human labour, when machine pickers intelligent enough to tell a potato half buried in the earth from a stone are in common use, the whole basis of their fatuous rationale collapses. My carer in old age will be a small robot with powerful hydraulics and sensors delicate enough to wipe a geriatric arse gently. 

You see, I really don't believe the replacement ratio or continuous GDP growth are that important any more - we're moving into a new age. The idiots, fools and charlatans at the EU just haven't realised it yet. We can only hope the cooler heads of the Visegrad group apply some sort of brake to their mad ambition.