Saturday, May 29, 2010

Thatcher was right on the euro

The London Free Press
By Rory Leishman

As a strategic political leader, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was often right – never more so than in her prediction 20 years ago that adoption of the euro would lead to a political and economic disaster.
Thatcher, of course, was not alone in foreseeing this calamity. Paul Krugman, the Nobel-prize winning economist, took the same view. In a recent column for The New York Times, he wrote: “I remember quipping, back when the Maastricht Treaty setting Europe on the path to the euro was signed, that they chose the wrong Dutch city for the ceremony. It should have taken place in Arnhem, the site of World War II’s infamous ‘bridge too far,’ where an overly ambitious Allied battle plan ended in disaster.”
Ideologically, Thatcher and Krugman are poles apart: She is a consistent conservative, while he is a doctrinaire liberal. But on the euro, they independently arrived at the same conclusion: The euro could not be sustained without the creation of a strong, central European government that can impose fiscal discipline upon the member states.
At the summit of European leaders in 1990 that approved the euro, Thatcher was the lone dissident. She insisted that Britain would retain her sovereignty and the pound sterling. Upon returning to Britain, she declared to the House of Commons: “What is being proposed now --economic and monetary union -- is the back door to a federal Europe, which we totally and utterly reject.”
Thatcher paid a stiff price for this firm stance on principle. Geoffrey Howe, her deputy prime minister and a Europhile supporter of the euro, promptly quit the cabinet and helped provoke a backbench revolt among Conservative MPs that forced Thatcher to resign as prime minister.
Today, the euro is in a state of crisis brought on by years of profligate deficit spending by the Greek, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish governments. On April 27, Greek government bonds were finally reduced to junk status with the result that the socialist government of Greece could no longer borrow enough money to cover essential operational expenditures and interest payments on the national debt.
Speaking to the Commons in 1990, Thatcher foresaw that eventually, “there would have to be enormous transfers of money from one country to another” to sustain the euro. Again, she was right. To stave off default by Greece and to reassure bankers about the financial stability of Italy, Portugal and Spain, the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have come up with a $900-billion plan to defend the Euro at the expense mainly of taxpayers in France, Germany and the United States.
Furthermore, as Thatcher and Krugman also predicted, the German and French governments are now calling for much tougher centralized controls to prevent any more members of the euro-zone from running up unsustainable budget deficits. Meanwhile, the Greek government is struggling with savage spending cuts imposed by the EU and IMF as a condition for bail-out assistance.
In February, Greece already had an unemployment rate of 12.1 per cent. That proportion is bound to go much higher as the government’s spending cutbacks take effect.
This, too, is as Thatcher predicted: “If we have a single currency, the differences come out substantially in unemployment or vast movements of people from one country to another,” she said. “Many people who talk about a single currency have never considered its full implications.”
Quite so. Now Krugman predicts that for Greece, not even a $900-billion bail-out will suffice. To revive economic growth and curb unemployment, the Greek government will soon be compelled to abandon the euro and re-establish its own hugely devalued national currency.
Will Italy, Portugal and Spain be next? That remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, given the international economic and financial turmoil brought on by the euro crisis, it’s evident that every major industrialized and trading country in the world is paying a huge price for the failure of EU leaders to heed the timely warnings by Thatcher, Krugman and others about the disastrous consequences of the euro.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Progressive sex education

The London Free Press
By Rory Leishman

Under intense public pressure, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty may have withdrawn his government’s revised curriculum guidelines on sexual education for a “serious rethink,” but this battle is far from over.
Proponents of ever more explicit sexual education for young school children have been quick to mount a concerted counterattack. They commend the revised curriculum for proposing to normalize homosexuality in Grade 3, instruct youngsters on vaginal lubrication in Grade 6 and warn boys in Grade 7 to avoid “anal intercourse without a condom.”
Dr. David McKeown, Toronto’s medical officer of health, was one of the first to urge reinstatement of the new curriculum. “Kids need clear, unbiased, age-appropriate information,” he said. “Research shows that when young people have good sexual health knowledge, they postpone sex and have lower rates of teen pregnancy, and they practice safer sex when they become sexually active."
Is that right? For more than 20 years, youngsters in the secondary schools of Ontario have been bombarded with propaganda about how the consistent use of condoms can prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STIs). It has all been for naught. As even McKeown acknowledges, “Rates of sexually transmitted infections are increasing.”
In this respect, Canada is not alone. Dr. Stephen Genuis, Clinical Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Alberta, pointed out last year in a peer-reviewed article in Acta Paediatrica: “Despite more than two decades of relentless condomania, rates of HIV⁄ AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have skyrocketed. In the UK and Canada, for example, rates of some STIs have doubled or tripled over the last 20 years despite ubiquitous safe-sex education.”
Genuis emphasized: “Numerous large studies have demonstrated that concerted efforts to promote condom use have consistently failed to control rates of STIs, even in countries with advanced sex education programmes such as Switzerland and Sweden – nations sometimes considered paragons in progressive sexuality instruction.”
Regardless, reputed experts like McKeown insist that what we need is even more of the same failed safe-sex education starting with instruction of children in Grade 1 on the correct anatomical name for their sexual organs.
At least, the McGuinty Liberals and their expert advisers in the education ministry have stopped short of the approach taken by International Planned Parenthood Federation in a pamphlet entitled “Healthy, Happy and Hot: A young person’s guide to their Rights, Sexuality and Living with HIV.” According to the experts who put together this guide, “Young people living with HIV have the right to decide if, when, and how to disclose their HIV status.”
That goes even for sexual partners. The guide suggests that people in long-term relationships have a right not to disclose their HIV status to their sexual partner if they have reason to “fear that their partner will react violently or end the relationship.”
Pity the victims of this deadly advice.
Sex education on the post-secondary level in Canada is not much better. According to the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, 13 of Canada’s leading universities currently offer “Queer Programs.”
Last semester, for example, the Department of Anthropology at the University of Western Ontario featured an undergraduate course in “Sex, Sexuality and Desire; Cross Cultural Explorations of Queer Lives.” In an outline of the course requirements posted on the department’s website, Associate Professor Douglass St.Christian (dr.d.) [sic] indicated that students must submit a photo essay on “the living history of your sexual selves.”
“Hmm,” dr.d commented, “you’re thinking – he wants amateur porn? Not quite but then again, maybe a pornographic gaze is something you will want to explore.”
Having assured that acceptable photos might be “accidental, staged, public or private, funny or dangerous and so on,” dr.d concluded: “Have fun, use your imagination, take chances, learn. It won’t hurt, honestly. I know these things.”
Who would challenge this assertion? The expert, dr. d, has spoken: He knows that taking even dangerous photos of one’s personal sexual experiences won’t hurt.
One wonders: Are there any limits to the depravity that can pass for acceptable instruction at Western?