Iraqi employees campaign

This will be of interest to UK residents (and it’s worth noting that every resident, documented or otherwise, has access to an MP). I hope everyone else won’t mind my cross-posting it from

Iraqis who have worked for the British Army – as translators, typically, but also in other roles – are likely to lose their lives once the army leaves Iraq and the protection they offer goes with them. Needless to say, this is a betrayal. These men and women took a huge risk in helping us. However, the government can reciprocate by granting these people – and their families – special asylum and free transport out of the country. At the moment the government is reluctant to do this.

Next Tuesday (9 October) there is a lobbying event at parliament: Committee Room 14, 7-9 pm. I’ll be there. My MP (Susan Kramer – bless her) will be there. Other MPs will be there. We will have Iraqi and British Army speakers who will explain the situation in detail and answer questions, and the event will be reported in the broadcast and press media.

We need to get every MP to come along, because this event will provide evidence direct from Iraq that every MP needs to hear. The best way to get your MP to come along is to go and ask them in person. Seriously, this makes a huge difference. Do it this week. If you can’t do that, then write a letter today. Then come to the event yourself. This is a blogger’s campaign: blogging has made this happen. We have made this happen, and we need to see it through.

(Dan Hardie’s resources for this campaign, including a proforma letter, are here.)

Lack of German Regulations, Part 1

Germany has no shortage of regulations, useful and otherwise. But one thing that it does not have at the moment is a legally mandated national minimum wage. The United States, supposed home of neoliberal puritanism and other horrible things, has had one since 1938.

The stated reason within the German debate is that such a law would interfere in the autonomy of groups bargaining on wages and conditions. Indeed it would, and this is a feature not a bug. But the autonomy has clearly been that of groups, not of individual people. If you weren’t part of a group, you were out of luck.

The SPD and the larger unions are now moving into the late 20th century and pushing for a statutory minimum wage. Employer groups and the conservative parties, true to form, are resisting. I think it is long past time for a minimum wage, and buying an illusory autonomy at the cost of non-unionized workers has not been a good position for the German left to hold. My disposition fits very poorly with corporatism, and I am glad to see that it is being pushed back in this aspect as well.

It isn’t often that German life is under-regulated, but this one will do the country good.

Ukraine, “Orange” Isn’t Only The Name Of A Phone Company It Seems

Well, three years after the famous “orange” revolution Ukraine is at it again. Voting I mean. At the time of writing only 60% of the votes have been counted, and the margin is a narrow one, but the pundits all seem to be suggesting that the bloc of of parties lead by former premier Yulia Tymoshenko, part of the Orange alliance, have done rather better than expected and might even secure a governing majority (in a neck and neck finish) in alliance with Our Ukraine, the party supporting Viktor Yushchenko.

Now analysing the details of the electoral process in the Ukraine is a bit beyond my ken, but Election Resources on the Internet Manuel Alvarez does have an excellent background piece on Global Economy Matters (including three maps of Ukraine’s most recent elections, which Serhij Vasylchenko kindly sent) which he is constantly updating. I also have an accompanying piece offering an in-depth analysis of Ukraine’s recent economic performance, so I will here offer here only those of my findings which I feel may be of most interest to Afoe readers. Continue reading

French and German Deficits In The Light Of Comparative Demographics

In case you hadn’t noticed, a right royal (no, not royale) row has been going on in recent weeks – a battle of the Titan-Presidents you might almost say – with the key protagonists being European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet in the red corner and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in the blue one. There are many issues which separate the two of them at the present moment – ECB independence from political interference, the conduct of monetary policy for the eurozone, and the future of the Stability and Growth Pact among others. On the first of these I am with Trichet, we do not need more political meddling in the conduct of ECB affairs. On the second I am nearer to Sarkozy – although possibly for other reasons, as I try to explain in this post and comments. Here I will restrict myself to the third issue – the SGP – and try to explain in very simple terms why I have a certain sympathy for what Sarkozy is attempting to argue. Continue reading