Excellence – The Mediocrity of Excellencies and Excellence of Mediocrity

the issue came up recently for me – again and again, and in the conversation with different people: Excellence … – too often not being anything else than megalomania — a dangerous deception that does not allow people to be …, just to be ordinary people and be great as such. That would allow us all as well to be aware of the responsibility we have instead of carelessly killing others …, allowing things to get out of control …
The current version is slightly modified

Commedia della Vita or Pánta Rêi's Firm Ground

The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones, which ramify, for those brought up as most of us have been, into every corner of our minds.[1]

Those who know me well, can understand what it means when I write: I do not know since when I am living here now; I do not know if it is for a long time, a small eternity or if I actually just a arrived, still trying to get used to things and developing routines. Those who know me well are aware of the fact that time, units on the calendar, are just like numbers: only meaningful in their uniqueness which is only given by being just a dot on an endless scale.

We may measure it by looking at the time it takes to establish routines … ? Well, it does only take a couple…

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Just a reminder

Pensions do not exist to increase national savings or to provide jobs for actuaries, tax lawyers, accountants, fund managers and regulators. Their purpose is to allow the elderly and disabled to retire from work with dignity

Willmore, Larry: Three Pillars of Pensions: Is there a need for mandatory contributions? in: OECD, Private Pensions Series OECD 2000 Private Pensions Conference 2000. Insurance and Pensions; Paris 2001: 385-397; here 385

So Slow ….

A recent press release from the Irish Minister for Justice states
Dáil to debate Bill to provide free access to health services for Magdalen survivors
• Government is committed to full implementation of the Quirke Report
• Bill provides for an enhanced medical card for Magdalen survivors
• To date a decision has been made in 87% of cases. 495 applicants have received payments totalling €18 million.

22nd January, 2015 Frances Fitzgerald, T.D., Minister for Justice and Equality, today stated that the Dáil is scheduled next week to commence consideration of the Bill (the Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions Bill 2014) to provide free access to health services for Magdalen survivors. …

Nothing wrong with such a law. Still, there is something about speed.
Sure, the one side is
Fai di fretta e male – act fast, without thinking and do not worry about bad results.
– this seems to be too often the rule under which we live, the rat race in which we are caught. But there is another side, where the lack of speed is a bit worrying:
The Catholic Church needed until 1992 to fully acknowledge that they had been wrong in the case of Galileo Galilei – though even in 1990 the then still Cardinal Ratzinger actually condemned him when speaking at La Sapienza, the university in Rome.
And it took a long time for the Irish government not only to rebuke morally what happened but to provide a committed answer — even worse: to think about it with the debate on the bill.
And there is still a further dimension to it:
The Irish government — and all other governments — should finally acknowledge that free and qualitatively appropriate health care is a fundamental human right. This is what we may call the required rule of the day, instead of continued austerity policies in Europe and elsewhere.
And there is surely urgency in this!!!
I just finalized two papers,
  • Developing a Social Quality Perspective in relation to the Debates on Ethical Economy and De-Growth (elaborated in connection with a recent event in collaboration with the Angelicum, EURISPES and the European Academy of Science and Arts
  • Employment Crisis or Crisis of Employment, notes in preparation of a conference next month in Moscow.

Both documents can be obtained on request.

Truth and Salt

It is good – only human beings as such are relevant …. — … at least this is what the statistics suggest.

I am just working on a report about recent developments in Ireland and looking at the CSO-figures for migrants. The table on the Components of the annual population change, 1987 – 2014 provides the figures for
  • Births
  • Deaths
  • Natural increase
  • Immigrants
  • Emigrants
  • Net migration
  • Population change
  • Population
Now, if it would be really this way
independent of their status, religion … etc. it would be great.
If, as in reality there is surely a difference between well-off immigrants obtaining secure jobs, migrants who are desperately searching for work and refugees who are ending up in so-called Direct Provision (see on the latter for instance Herrmann, Peter/Dorrity, Claire: Racism – the State’s Fear of Loosing Control Over the Own Citizens; in: Okyayuz, Mehmet /Herrmann, Peter (eds.): Migration – Global Processes Caught in National Answers; Vienna: WVFS, 2014). And it surely would be honest though not to include but at least it make directly visible those who are refused entry before they even arrive – as we learn from the INIS-website
Deportations/Removals from the State. Approximately, 2,360 persons were deported/removed from the State in 2014. This figure comprises some 2,147 persons who were refused entry into the State at ports of entry and were returned to the place from where they had come. In addition, 111 failed asylum seekers and illegal migrants were deported from the State, 87 EU nationals were returned to their countries of origin on foot of an EU Removal Order and 17 asylum seekers were transferred under the Dublin Regulation to the EU member stated in which they first applied for asylum.
And with the famous grain of truth the same can be applied for emigrants: there is a difference between those who are – for different reasons – “forced” and those who leave voluntary – and in both cases the question is again: where do they end up.
The grain of truth – the Latin expression reads cum grano salis, the grain of salt. And this salt is what gives the special taste to the soup. That may also be applied when it comes to statistics …. Leaving the details out, means denying the colour and taste: be it the adventurous and exotic pleasures of the privileged or the blood and mordant sweat of those who loose their freedom and possibly lifes.

a remarkable date

According to a press release of the German party Die Linke, the 20th lot March is remarkable. Women earn 22 % less than their male colleagues. Statistically it means, that they have to work 79 days “without income” if related to a pay policy that respects equality.

A long way – and I hope than many men use the time one may calculate as excess time to fight together with women for equality that reaches beyond the letters on the legal documents

Presenting an agenda for Europe at AMBROSETTI (Lake Como, 14th March 2015)

Indeed we have to think about Europe and not about nation states!!!

Yanis Varoufakis

Workshop the European House - Ambrosetti a Villa D'Este

Dear All, Ministerial duties have impeded my blogging of late. I am now breaking the silence since I have just given a talk that combines my previous work with my current endeavours. Here is the text of the talk I gave this morning at the Ambrosetti Conference on the theme of ‘An Agenda for Europe’. Long time readers will recognise the main theme – evidence of a certain continuity…

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How to bring them together ….?

Especially, though not only with the crisis, now lasting for a long time, showing only occasionally small and deceiving glimpses of improvement, the debate on two issues is increasingly gaining momentum:
  • a kind of renaissance, highlighting the importance of returning to a value basis of humane societies
  • a push towards a new economic model, suggesting in different ways to leave the traditional capitalist path of equalizing development and growth.

Each issue evokes in itself major debates, for instance reflecting on what humane orientations could be and if they ever existed; or if and to which extent capitalist development assumed per se such equation or if it is only THIS capitalism that kills – so the current pope.

These issues will be discussed on the symposium, organised by EURISPES, ANGELICUM and the EUROPEAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCE AND ARTS.
The aim should be to develop a cooperation that looks how to bring the different perspectives together.
All this had been also part of discussions during the last week in Munich at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, where I spent some time, not least to commemorate the work (and my personal collaboration and friendship) with Hans F. Zacher and Bernd Schulte.
One issue that came permanently up during these days – and had not least issued frequently by Hans F. Zacher had been the fact that the call for justice is not sufficient without a string backing in law. And hit shad been also an issue that guided Bernd Schulte’s long engagement on European law. The community of values is only as god and strong as it is based in law and guarantees legal rights to its citizens.