Friday, October 3, 2014

The Search of Neuroscience for the Quintessence of Economics

By Con George-Kotzabasis—October 03, 2014

A reply to “of markets and minds” --by professor Peter Bossaerts
Melbourne University Magazine

 
Economics is the application of scarce means for the attainment of countless abundant ends. Since all ends cannot be fulfilled because of the scarcity of resources, human choice selects those ends that are more needful or pleasurable to man than those that are less so. The attainment of those more needful ends is a result of human action. These ends, however, are the fruits of the future and the inevitable uncertainty that is riveted upon it. Therefore human action is always speculation based, however, not upon the throw of the dice but upon ratiocination. Furthermore, actions are determined by the value judgments of individuals i.e., the ends they are eager to attain. These valuations differ among individuals due to the different circumstances and living conditions of these individuals and to the variable desires and wishes that emanate from the plethora of their personalities. There is no constant relationship between these valuations, as they emanate from the different wishes, desires and caprices of an umpteenth of individuals, and are therefore beyond the bailiwick of science to measure them; what scientific method could measure with precision the capricious longings of man and the uncertainty that surrounds his existence?

Professor Bossaerts’ attempt therefore, to identify and control the ‘cells’ of the economy and finance and the complex interactions that determine their course by the scientific method of neuroscience for the purpose of rationally directing the process of the economy to a more beneficial path, is in vain and is bound to fail. Science measures constant relationships in the controlled experimental environment of the lab but cannot measure uncontrolled innumerable variants that determine, in our case, the process of a free market economy. The search, therefore, of finding the inexorably elusive quintessence of the economic process by the tools of the hard sciences, though a laudable task, is purblind, as it cannot see nor understand that science is incapable of measuring the measureless.

The endeavour to supplant and redress, on the one hand, the imperfections of the free market economy, and on the other, the failures of government dirigisme to regulate and direct the economic process of the free market to a more optimal state, by the powerful algorithmic tools of science, will be found to be another futile attempt to direct the economy from a central command post, this time by the methods of neuroscience and not by an omniscient cabal of socialist planners.

In an imperfect and uncertain world, the free market economy will proceed and move by trial and error and continue to spread its benefits to mankind. But the intervention of man’s reason and understanding will substantially diminish the errors by increasing their correction in time by the power of man’s imagination and ratiocination.                 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Samaras Government and the Frivolous Populist Chattering of the Media Harlots

By Con George-Kotzabasis  August 19, 2014

The Greek economic crisis has brought on its heels a moral and intellectual crisis and “prostitution” of its media. The Fourth Estate in Greece has been transformed into a “red-light” district where a populist seraglio of colorful journalistic harlots has assembled to hustle their “quickies.” Only with few exceptions, such as Babis Papadimitriou, whose analyses of current economic events in Greece are illustriously admirable and an example for imitation, most of the media spoke persons and journalists in Greece are wallowing in the putrid waters of populism and from that position are publishing their disheartening, gloomy, and misleading comments about the economic and political situation of the country. But while it is easy to please and mislead the hoi polloi it will not be easy for these commentators to erase the mark of shame that they have self-inflicted upon themselves and their intellectual integrity.

To the incomparable achievements of the Samaras government in restructuring the economy, making it more competitive and freeing it from the dead weight of the public sector–which was a major cause that had brought Greece to the precipice of default and its citizens close to absolute poverty–that were the prerequisites for keeping the country within the European Union and with the latter’s financial help saving it from economic collapse that would have thrown its people, for at least a generation, into the hungry fangs of poverty, the Greek media, almost in toto, has not emitted one word of praise toward this remarkable performance of the government.

This accomplishment is unprecedented in the history of nations, that in a short period of two years any political leadership was able to accomplish and salvage their countries from bankruptcy. The Greek media, however, did not make one twit about this great accomplishment. On the contrary, it criticized the government, and often condemned it, of being responsible for the immiseration and economic suffering of its people, and of being the puppet of the European political elite, especially Chancellor Merkel of Germany. In a chorus of tragicomedy its commentators reproached and blamed the coalition of the Samaras government for accepting and implementing the austere policies of the second Memorandum, that were imposed by the European Commission as a condition for Greece’s continued financial assistance by the former, as being the cause of the calamitous economic blight that has scourged a major part of the population in the last two years. However in this prejudiced and populist castigation of the government by the media analysts, they studiously ignored the fact that the real culprits for this economic disaster were the leaders of past governments who had created a false and unsustainable economic prosperity, fuelled by loans and debts and passing the latter to future generations, and by creating a gargantuan flabby and totally inefficient public sector for the purpose of ensconcing their political clientele in leisurely unproductive jobs at the expense of the public purse. Hence, it was not the Memorandum that had brought the economic crisis and the level of unemployment to stratospheric heights, but the imprudent and foolhardy policies of past governments that led the country to the brink of insolvency that had brought the Memorandum with its inevitably austere remedies, and just as inevitably some errors in its policies, but which were tragically essential for Greece’s economic recovery. As is often the case throughout history, nations and men/women in great dangers can only be saved by the most severe measures.

The Samaras government did not flinch before this formidable responsibility and carried this hard task with the characteristic moral strength and intellectual astuteness of its leader. It surmounted the mountainous populist waves that a petty and completely incompetent, and by now, a historically obsolete amalgam of ex-communists and socialists, who compose the Opposition, Syriza, stirred among the populace with the aim to get rid of the government. And despite the fact it had the unions and its strikes on its side and using them as a battering-ram to overthrow the government, nor the fact that the media in general took a neutral stand and did not decry this disgraceful and dangerous action of the Opposition that would lead to the political destabilization of the country and would put in jeopardy all the successes of the government in pulling the country out of the crisis, the Opposition failed ignominiously in its goal.

Antonis Samaras, like Theseus, is finding Greece’s way out of the labyrinth of its economic crisis while the Greek media inexorably demeans itself by polluting its readers and viewers in a rancid flood of populist biased misleading comments and information, that puts the great accomplishments of the government and its exit from the crisis at an immense menacing risk.  

I rest on my oars:Your turn now!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Delegitimize States that Sponsor Terror

I'm republishing the following paper for the readers of this new website hoping to find it to be of some interest.


By Con George-Kotzabasis

The following paper was written on September 20, 2006, and was sent to President Bush on the same date. The reason why it's republished here in The...Journal, is that the Pentagon has now a secret plan to attack Iran within twenty four hours, according to investigative journalist Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker magazine.


Distinguished former diplomats, like Warren Christopher, Clinton’s Secretary of State, remain at their “postless”, no new messages on diplomacy, posts, and continue to argue on the virtues of old diplomacy. In his piece on the Washington Post, July 28, 2006, he calls for “negotiation of an immediate cease-fire between the warring parties” in Lebanon, and asserts that a “permanent” and “sustainable” solution to the root causes of the conflict—which is the goal of the Bush administration—“is achievable, if at all, by protracted negotiations.” As an example of such successful diplomacy that occurred under his tenure as Secretary, he refers to the rocket attacks by Hezbollah in April 1996 against Israel and the countering of the latter with Operation Grapes of Wrath, that the Cagliostro like arts of diplomacy successfully stymied this confrontation and ushered a truce between the parties that lasted for ten years. He claims, that only by such broad-minded diplomacy that involves all the players in the region could America stop its “tattered reputation.” But he is completely mindless of the fact that this long Truce was neither permanent nor sustainable, but, merely, a respite for the Hezbollah during which the latter would militarily train and proselytize its militia with its fanatic deadly ideology and arm it with Katyusha rockets for a deadlier future confrontation with its mortal enemy, the Jewish State, as we now see.


To repeat therefore the diplomacy of the past in the present context in the face of these lessons given by this flauntingly failed diplomacy, is not only to repeat the mistakes of the past, but more grievously still, to weaken Israel and its Western allies against greater impending dangers in the future. As the upshot of another long Truce between the belligerents now would only benefit Hezbollah by making it politically, ideologically, and militarily even stronger, and loading this time the tips of its rockets with weapons of mass destruction, including tactical nuclear weapons, thus fulfilling President Ahmadinejad’s apocalyptic foreboding of wiping Israel off the map. And needless to say, such an outcome would be a tremendous victory for global terror and a serious strategic reversal of the West’s war against it.


Furthermore, it would set in concrete the ambition of Iran to become the dominant power of the region, whose present trailblazing two-pronged strategy to forge an axis between Shi’ites and Sunnis, as the present pact between Iran and Syria illustrates, against their arch enemy Israel and to paralyze the EU and the US as a condominium to formulate an ironclad policy that would prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, are the means by which it will achieve its aim. Since, according to the Ahmadinejad regime, the grand diversion that Lebanon has provided will ease its task to acquire a nuclear arsenal, as the divisions that would be spawned by the Lebanon crisis among the Western countries and within the UN about how to handle the situation on the ground, would be of such a nature that would completely enervate the US and EU condominium from forging a position that would stop Iran from joining the nuclear club.


Hence the war in Lebanon may initially appear to be a local conflict between Israel and Hezbollah but in reality is a geopolitical conflict between Iran and the Western powers since the former will be using the conflagration of Lebanon as a fulcrum to achieve its strategic goals (a) to acquire nuclear weapons, (b) to emerge as the predominant power in the region, (c) to become the leader of the Muslim world, and (d) to establish in the world the millenarian regime of the twelfth imam Mahdi. As the respected Middle East analyst Amir Taheri wrote in The Australian, on August 7, 06, “to Ahmadinejad to wipe off Israel is the first step toward defeating the ‘infidel’ West”. He furthermore quotes Iran’s state controlled media as saying “that Lebanon would become the graveyard of the Bush plan for a new Middle East”. And Tehran believes, “that a victory by Hezbollah…will strengthen Ahmadinejad’s bid for the leadership of radical Islam”. And Taheri comes to the conclusion “all the talk of a ceasefire, all the diplomatic gesticulation may ultimately mean little in what is an existential conflict”.


Will the “new” diplomacy, as embodied in the unanimously approved resolution by the UN Security Council, in its stylishly dashing French clothes, but worn, by the old decrepit body of diplomatic thinking, bring the long desired, but up till now evanescent, permanent and sustainable solution to the region that so many attempts in the past failed to do? The auguries for such an outcome however, are far from favorable. The Council’s resolution calls for a halt to the fighting and Israel’s withdrawal “in parallel” with the deployment of UN peacekeepers and 15,000 Lebanese troops who will attempt to create a buffer zone in South Lebanon free of the Hezbollah militia. However, the resolution vaguely refers to the disarmament and dismantling of the latter, that is pivotal to a permanent and sustainable peace between Israel and Lebanon and whether such international force and the Lebanese army--which is riddled with Hezbollah sympathizers--even if they had a clear mandate to disarm Hezbollah, would have been able to accomplish this task, given the unambiguous statements of Hezbollah that it will not disarm. Nor does the resolution take a firm and implacable stand in stopping the supply of weapons to Hezbollah by Iran and Syria.


Hence, the dragon teeth of Hezbollah are still planted deep in Lebanon’s soil, presaging an even greater and more dangerous conflagration in the future between the warring parties, especially if Iran stealthily slips into the nuclear club. The UN resolution therefore is merely a soporific. It will provide a couch to Israel and Hezbollah so they can both lay down in a temporary state of dormancy until Hezbollah feels strong enough, in its never ending act, to wipe Israel off the map. Thus, the future confrontation will be by far more deadly than the present one, as possibly hundreds of thousands will lose their lives.


America's New Strategic Diplomacy

Surely the American leadership must be aware of this lugubrious scenario that has been staged by this toothless resolution of the Security Council. Unless they have in mind a second stronger swift resolution that will be addressing the complete disarmament and dismantling of Hezbollah and irrevocably stopping Syria and Iran from supplying weapons to its proxy, they will entangle and compromise their up to now clear strategic position in the strategically myopic, unimaginative, fickle, and flabby diplomatic stance of their allies in continental Europe. It will be the ultimate folly, post 9/11, once you have identified your irreconcilable, implacable, and mortal enemy, as the Bush administration has done, to render the enemy and its proxies respites that will strengthen their military capability and make them even more dangerous as well as more difficult to defeat in the future, instead of destroying them at their weakest moment, as no kind of diplomacy ante 9/11, no matter how brilliantly conceived, can achieve the complete destruction of this infernal enemy.
The Bush administration being presumably aware of this fact, i.e., of the complete inadequacy of the old diplomacy, of which so many of its "encoreists", such as Richard Holbrooke and Madeleine Albright, are continuing to give it “standing ovations”, does seem to be willing--despite its tactical errors in Iraq that have given rise to a rampant insurgency making the war more difficult to win and as a result of this making some members of the Administration more circumspect to launch another attack, this time on Iran--to take leave of its circumspection and embrace a more hawkish diplomacy that would be much more successful than the effete and barren diplomacy of the past. Such robust diplomacy will not be draped in the smooth velvety apparels of “old” Europe or in the tattered garments of the United Nations, but will be draped in the bristling carapace of a porcupine. While there will not be a scarcity of carrots in the exercise of this armed diplomacy, the sticks will be deadly in their threatening application against those intransigent nations that continue overtly or covertly to sponsor terrorists and use them as proxies to achieve their geopolitical and millenarian goals. The axis of Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah will have the kiss of death planted on its forehead by this no “frills” American diplomacy. But the angel of death in this new diplomacy will be last in the queue. Before the US deploys as a last resort its lethal arsenal against the axis, it will in the incipient stages of this diplomacy call for the de-legitimatization of Iran and Syria as states that sponsor terror. Iran and Syria will become pariah states and will be isolated from the rest of the world. The only avenues that will remain open between the former and the latter will be the economic ones. But the economic transactions between de-legitimate states and the rest of the world will proceed not through individual states but through an intermediary channel, an international consortium whose representatives will be enlisted from the de jure states of the world who will deal with the economic representatives of the outlaw states. Such procedure will place the free world in a powerful negotiating position to impose its own economic regime on the outlaw states.


Needless to say, some nations will not accept, and will not abide, this “outlawing” of Iran and Syria and will continue to have their relations with the latter unchanged. But as long as the major nations of the world hold the line, this recalcitrance of these nations will in no way loosen the tightness of the noose around the throats of the outlaws, as the latter will be banned from attending all international forums where the important decisions in the affairs of the world are made.


The chances that the call for the de-legitimatization of states that sponsor terror, as a diplomatic move to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, are quite high that it will rally many nations to support such a call as the best alternative to an American military attack against Iran, particularly, when such an attack would result in a great loss of lives as well as have the potential to throw the world’s economy into the doldrums, as it’s the latter as well as their electoral base that many European nations are mainly concerned with in the advent of an American attack on Iran. The exercise of this new adroit American diplomacy will address therefore both the concerns of the Europeans and the fears of Iran. It will have, on the one hand, enough carrots in its diplomatic basket to feed the Europeans and to entice them to the idea that the outlawing of Iran is the better option for all concerned than a devastating military confrontation with the latter, and on the other, it will have enough sticks to coerce Iran to abandon its goal to acquire nuclear weapons. In the intense pressure of the vice that the Ahmadinejad regime will find itself both as a possibly ostracized de-legitimate state or as a military target of the Americans, the odds are that the regime will succumb to this pressure. In the event that it sticks to its guns, then it will play Russian roulette with its own people, as such a stand will strengthen the internal opposition against the “mullahcratic” regime. And as the majority of Iranians shift behind the Opposition parties this could lead to the fall of the theocratic regime of Ahmadinejad by an army revolt that would act in the name of such strong opposition from the people.


The success of this diplomacy will depend entirely on the Bush administration making it unambiguously clear to its European allies, as well as Russia and China, of its utter determination that in the event the proposal to de-legitimatize states that sponsor terror is not adopted by the major nations of the world, then the US will have no other option but to attack militarily the rogue states that sponsor terror, and Iran will be the first one and more likely than not the only one, as the other ones will follow the example of Libya and cave in. It’s inconceivable to imagine, that the European nations, as well as China, for which the sine qua non for its present stratospheric economic development is the economic stability of the world, will be so dim-witted not to accept the American proposal and risk the chance that the Bush administration will not deliver on its threat.


Hence, this hawkish US diplomacy is far from being a long shot in persuading the major nations of the world to outlaw states that sponsor terror. Moreover, it has the great potential as a dual realizable threat to outlaw Iran or attack it militarily, to coerce the latter to unequivocally abide by the demands of the international community. In the event that the Ahmadinejad regime remains unwilling to discard its obsession to possess nuclear weapons and continues to defy the European Union and the United States in their demand to stop supplying its terrorist proxies, such as Hezbollah, with weapons, then the call will be on “the angel of death”, draped in stars and stripes, to jump the queue and put an end to this apocalyptic threat that stems from the regime of the mullahs.


Hic Rhodus Hic Salta

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Greece: Indecisive Voters Will Decide Result of Triple Elections

By Con George-Kotzabasis May 17, 2014

On the 18th and 25th of May respectively, Greeks will be voting in the country’s municipalities and prefectures, and for the European Parliament. According to all polls, the contest between the major parties of the Coalition Government of New Democracy/Pasok and Syriza will be very close, and apparently the indecisive voters, who comprise 12% of the electors, will determine which of the major parties will win the elections.


In my opinion, the majority of this indecisive section of the electorate will cast their vote in favour of the Samaras Government—especially in the European parliamentary elections--and thus the latter will be the winner of the triple elections. My reasoning is that if this part of the electorate was inclined and had a strong feeling to protest against the government, for the harsh austerity measures the latter had to implement, it would already have shown this inclination by intimating to the pollsters that it would vote for the Opposition Party of Syriza. It seems therefore to me that the undecided voters are more concerned about the political stability of the country and the slow but robust steps that the Samaras government is taking in pulling the country out of the crisis, which all serious international observers acknowledge and most economic indicators show, and thus will vote for the security the government accomplished in keeping Greece within Europe, than the insecurity the left-wing Opposition Party of Syriza represents with its dangerous and foolhardy policies that could lead to the ousting of Greece from Europe and to the economic catastrophe of the country.  

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Statesmen Lead their People from Darkness to Enlightenment

I'm republishing this short piece that was written on May 10, 2012, for the readers of this blog.
What actually decides is our character   Jose Ortega y Gasset

By Con George-Kotzabasis May 10, 2012

Surprisingly, you are profoundly pessimistic, not to say nihilistic, about Antonis Samaras, who is the greatest politician appearing on the political firmament of Greece since Eleftherios Venizelos. Samaras is “framed in the prodigality of nature,” to quote Shakespeare, endowed with that rare combination of high intellect, imagination, stupendous moral strength, and economic insight, which he proved by his prediction of the disastrous policy of austerity, encapsulated in the first European Memorandum as a remedy to Greece’s dire economic peril, without economic resurgence.

Statesmen are not responsible for the ignorance and political immaturity of their people. They try to lead even in a vacuum of understanding among their people about the real dangers their country is facing. The tragedy of Samaras was that his clear and sagacious policies were not able to overcome and trump the ignorance of a large part of the electorate about the real dangers that were threatening Greece, especially in a state of akyvernisia (Lack of government).

As a physicist you must know the fate of Galileo and how difficult it is to nullify ignorance. And your quote of Christopher Hitchens in your blog gives me the sense that you are aware of this difficulty. To wish therefore for Samaras removal, seems to me not only unjust but also politically immoral. And to hope that the leader of Syriza, AlexisTsipras, a staunch votary of Hugo Chavez, that he will change his inveterate leftist populist position of anti-Europe led by Germany, is to indulge in wishful thinking.

In moments of a great crisis, statesmen have the obligation and responsibility to lead their people from darkness to enlightenment and imbue them with indispensable hope about their immediate future, so they can overcome the crisis.   

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Greek Professor Comes to Bury Multiculturalism

By Con George-Kotzabasis

Professor Vrasidas Karalis of Sydney University, the translator of some of the books of Patrick White, has come to bury the condottieri of multiculturalism—I won’t call them warriors as that would give a worthy name to an unworthy cause—that are still fighting ingloriously and in an enfeebled state to resuscitate a concept that has been in a comatose state since the late eighties, when Slav Macedonians were burning Greek churches and when more recently, fanatic jihadists in pursuit of the seventy-two virgins, I must say, a chimerical, an eluding chase, they will never find them, were planning to kill thousands of Australians in football grounds and in public malls. It is in such a deadly milieu that the multiculturalists are attempting, in a futile and full of zealotry effort, to breathe life into a ghost. And in spite of the fact that the founding father of multiculturalism, professor Jerzy Zubrzycki, expressed explicitly his doubts about the viability of multiculturalism in the face of this tidal wave of atavism. Also, Gareth Evans, serving at the time as minister of communications, said to me in a phone conversation, that these conflicts between Slavs and Greeks, Serbs, Croatians and Bosnians spelled out the burial of multiculturalism.

It is a great fallacy to postulate that cultures have an amicable disposition and can live in a peaceful state of coexistence with each other without conflict. History has shown pellucidly that cultures, on fundamental issues are irreconcilable, and are in a permanent state of antagonistic competition and the stronger and more successful always subdue and supplant the weaker and less thriving. The Romans appropriated the higher culture of the Greeks and the German tribes, who were fighting the Romans were, in turn, absorbed by the higher culture of the latter.

No less a figure than Karl Marx, many of whose supporters today are puzzlingly upholders of multiculturalism, expressed, with characteristic force and eloquence, the inequality of cultures and the irreversible proclivity of the more powerful, in terms of intellectual, scientific, economic, and political success, to overwhelm and vanquish the weaker and less successful in the realm of human development and freedom. Without for a moment supporting or pleading his ideology, I would like, if you allow me, to paraphrase the great man: The elemental force of capitalism and its great culture would sweep away, on a vast scale, the dead weight of traditions and cultures that riveted their peoples to the obfuscation, ignorance, and bigotry of a hoary past.

After this long, but I believe relevant diversion, let us return back to the thesis of Professor Karalis. In a well structured argument delivered with panache, vivacity and wit, Karalis cogently argued, that with the ascendance of the Liberal-National Party to power in 1997, and the immediate dismantling of multiculturalism by the Howard government and the weak reaction of the ethnic communities to this dismantling, especially the Greek that was the avant-garde of multiculturalism, demonstrated clearly that the major part of these communities in a short duration were absorbed by a process of osmosis to the values and mores of a global, cosmopolitan Australian society. In his own words, the ethnic communities were incorporated within the political, economic, and cultural institutional framework of the Australian society. And he asks the question, is there still any reason to advocate multiculturalism as a nation-building policy or as a political project for the future? His answer is decisively negative.

Professor Karalis not only buried multiculturalism, but also inadvertently, fully justified the position and prognostications of the historian Geoffrey Blainey and that great Australian John Stone who both of them expressed, almost fifteen years ago, for which they were pilloried and maligned by the leftist intelligentsia, that multiculturalism was the design of historically ignorant politicians who could not perceive that at a critical moment would collide with Australian culture and would never recover from this crash. And the death knell for multiculturalism sounds presently in all European countries--especially in the context of Islamist terror--which had also so naively and un-historically adapted it as the elixir that would induce different cultures and peoples to love each other. They had forgotten that amity and congeniality could only issue from the sharing of common fundamental values that give the opportunity to all to succeed in the endeavours of daily life and to fulfil their ambitions according to their individualistic proclivities. It is the great culture of capitalism and its free enterprise system that provides these invaluable principles that lead to the comity of nations and peoples and eradicate, to a high degree, deadly conflict.