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Winning, but Losing, at the Penny-Pitch: A Look at the Coming Collapse of the European Union


 -- Published: Friday, 27 November 2015 | Print  | Disqus 

By Jeff Thomas

When I was a boy, a carnival would come through town annually, with a Ferris wheel, a merry-go-round and, of course, a midway: rows of makeshift stalls where fair-goers might win a prize by throwing a ball at weighted milk bottles, shooting a rifle at metal ducks, or pitching pennies at small glass bowls.

If you were to succeed in any of the above, the standard prize was a small stuffed bear (Although many large bears were displayed, generally, the few actual penny-pitch winners only succeeded in winning one of the smaller bears). Still, to a child’s mind, even this was cause for celebration, as you went home a winner.

I was one of the lucky ones. I actually did take home a prize on one occasion. I had been going to the fair faithfully every year and would save up my pennies for weeks in advance, so I’d have plenty to invest in bear futures on the midway.

It was only a day or two after I brought home my prize that I realised that I had spent several dollars in pennies winning a stuffed bear that probably (back then, in the 1950’s) only cost fifty cents to produce and, after I possessed it, actually had zero value to me…I had no use for a cheap stuffed bear.

So, here’s the penny-pitch progression:

1. Promise of significant benefits for what seems a minimal initial investment.

2. Excitement builds with continued investment.

3. Elation when a prize is actually won.

4. Realisation that the prize is of less actual value than anticipated.

5. Realisation that the aggregate cost of the prize was so high that the money would have been better spent on something else.

In 1993, Europeans were invited to the new EU Carnival. In addition to the rides, there would be a midway: a variety of benefits such as open borders, a common currency and the opportunity to work in other countries more easily than before. Most European countries joined, even though, in most cases, only a minority of registered voters actually declared their desire for membership. The midway organisers (the political leaders) were all in favour and virtually everyone joined.

Like any midway game, all those who signed on were required to pony up, but the amount of money being invested seemed relatively small at the time. But like any midway game, it’s not the first pitch of the penny that gets you…it’s the subsequent, seemingly unending ones. It adds up.

Still, there have been those who have actually benefitted: those who actually moved to another EU country and got a good job; those who conduct multi-national business, etc., but, in the main, the conveniences have not been that great and the negatives, more and more, are eclipsing the benefits.

The non-elected oligarchy of the EU passes new laws at will. Moreover, at this point, so much money has been thrown at non-productive members that entire countries are, in effect, welfare states, living off the teat of the more productive countries. And feeding them has required unending and massive borrowing, which those who are pitching the pennies will, presumably, eventually have to pay. And each time it seems as though the situation couldn’t get any worse, Brussels creates a new diktat, such as the demand that all EU countries take in millions of refugees, whom they claim to be Syrians fleeing the civil war, but who are more likely to be from Afghanistan or North Africa and are people who demand benefits, but clearly have no desire to assimilate.

The people of Europe have been the patsies in this grand scheme and are, at this point, experiencing decided buyer’s remorse.

So, here’s the EU progression:

1. Promise of significant benefits for what seems a minimal initial investment.

2. Excitement builds with continued investment.

3. Elation when a benefit is actually received.

4. Realisation that the benefit is less actual value than anticipated.

5. Realisation that the aggregate cost of the benefit was so high that the money would have been better spent on something else.

Returning to the penny-pitch, I recall that, by my early teens, I had realised that this was far from being a worthwhile investment. Once I realised that the prizes were of so little actual value to me and that I would have been better off spending my pennies in some other way, I ceased to enjoy the excitement of the midway and learned to invest money in a better way. I later prospered.

However, many, many people never lose the thrill of the promise of easily-won prizes. As they mature, the prizes that they seek may be more sophisticated than a stuffed bear, but the lure of easy benefits remains difficult to refuse and, in the case of governments, voters return to the polls periodically, each time believing the empty promises of politicians, saying to themselves, “This time it will be different.”

For so many people, the promise of a quick, easy solution to complex problems is impossible to resist and, more to the point, the more exaggerated the claim, the more likely that voters seem to buy into it. As Adolf Hitler said, “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually, they will believe it.”

And so we witness in virtually every “democracy” that conservatives such as David Cameron and Donald Trump offer outrageously simplified and impossible promises and otherwise-intelligent voters march off to the voting booth to vote for them. Similarly, Hillary Clinton and Justin Trudeau leave liberal voters starry-eyed with equally outrageously simplified and impossible promises. The only difference between liberal and conservative is that the rhetoric takes a slightly different slant. The method of deception is the same, and the effect on voters is the same.

And, of course, the outcome is the same. Trouble is, if we’re wise enough to figure out that the penny-pitch is a mistaken pursuit, we can simply walk away and never come back. However, if an entire country gets suckered into a construct as implausible as the EU, it’s not so easy to walk away. Brussels has no intention of folding its tent. Nor are the political leaders of Europe going to back off on the EU idea.

So, will the EU simply carry on? It’s doubtful. At some point, the debt will cripple even the net-payer countries to the degree that the people will rebel. In addition, the social dictates, such as the acceptance of refugees, have been so dramatically damaging on the street level that the people of many countries are reaching the boiling point. Eventually this will travel upward, as we see in Poland where, in an election year, the government itself is saying no to Brussels, no matter how Brussels threatens to penalise them for not doing as they are told.

The EU was never intended to serve the people of Europe, it was meant to empower the rulers of the countries of Europe and to subjugate the European people. Its days are numbered, but the cost of its demise will be borne by the people of Europe. Certainly, increasing numbers of them might wish that it could be as easy as throwing the stuffed bear in the dustbin, but it will not be so simple or so painless.

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Jeff Thomas is British and resides in the Caribbean. The son of an economist and historian, he learned early to be distrustful of governments as a general principle. Although he spent his career creating and developing businesses, for eight years, he penned a weekly newspaper column on the theme of limiting government. He began his study of economics around 1990, learning initially from Sir John Templeton, then Harry Schulz and Doug Casey and later others of an Austrian persuasion. He is now a regular feature writer for Casey Research’s International Man and Strategic Wealth Preservation in the Cayman Islands.


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 -- Published: Friday, 27 November 2015 | E-Mail  | Print  | Source: GoldSeek.com

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