Saturday, April 19, 2014


Yesterday I linked to a post which said that the Federal government makes some $12 billion a year off the student loan program.  It would seem that ours isn't the only government seeking "profit centers" in these hard times.  The British revenue agency is trying to get legal cover for releasing "anonymised" data about their tax payers and exploring "charging options."  The legislation isn't a done deal.  Plenty of opposition and plenty of questions concerning past government failures in safeguarding data.  We have governments who either can't raise taxes (the population they can tax is too impoverished to pay them or those who can pay are politically connected and can resist or evade) and are too nervous about borrowing even more money that will (theoretically) have to be paid back. Where do they get the money they need to function?  Austerity can be pushed only so far before those hit hardest by the austerity (usually the poorest) explode.  Their options have dwindled to "privatizing" government functions and turning their former citizens into other-than-taxes sources of revenue.

I thought the agreement reached to defuse the Ukrainian situation was chancy to begin with.  First, the meetings did not include all of the parties to the conflict.  Second, there seemed to be an assumption that Russia is controlling the "pro-Russian" forces in Eastern Ukraine.  If Russia doesn't have the control our side thinks it does, the "demonstrators" can simply refuse to go along--as they have.  Third, the situation provides perfect cover for Putin in case he wants more than the agreement gives him.  He appears perfectly reasonable but can continue to stir up trouble that will derail any peace he doesn't like.

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