The Big Squeeze

There are three subjects on which I write pretty regularly: smoking bans, the EU, and global warming.

For the most part I see them as more or less disconnected from each other. The way I see it, smoking bans are driven by the senior medical establishment and a variety of zealots in outfits like ASH. And the EU is a long term political project that’s been under development for 50 years or more. And global warming is a scare got up by climate scientists in the UN IPCC.

But today I was thinking that the effect of all of them is to depress economic activity one way or other. Smoking bans have negative impacts in the hospitality trade and elsewhere. And associated drives to curb alcohol consumption and obesity also have the same effect. The EU generates large numbers of rules and regulations most of which have a negative economic effect, because they increase the paperwork and overheads of companies in a multitude of ways. And the global warming scare, and calls to reduce our ‘carbon footprint’ also entail reductions of energy consumption, and increased costs of fuels as ‘renewable energy sources’ like solar power and windmills prove much more expensive.

They all add up to a Big Squeeze on the economy, that is gradually tightening, so that the whole of Europe and the USA are now in recession, if not outright depression.

Yet all these economically restrictive policies are continued with nevertheless. Smoking bans just get tighter and tighter. The war on alcohol and obesity is now ramping up as well. The EU continues to make new rules and regulations, and disregards the impact of the single currency on the less competitive Mediterranean countries. And there’s not much sign that the global warming scare has abated, even though it’s been pretty thoroughly debunked.

The negative economic effects of these various policies must be perfectly obvious to governments. So why do they continue with them all? Why do they pursue policies which will result in economic contraction rather than growth?

For the past 60 years, governments everywhere, of every political shade, have tried to boost economic growth, and improve living standards. So why has the goal now become one of economic contraction?

There are a number of possible answers. These days all the Western countries have become much more environmentally aware. And the environmentalists and Greens see industrial civilisation as poisonous and destructive, and driven by ‘greed’. The global warming alarmist wing of the environmental movement even think that human industry, in the form of CO2 emissions, is warming the entire planet. And it must be stopped, and we must learn to live simple and frugal lives.

And all Western countries also have strong left wing political movements who usually believe that Western capitalism is naked exploitation of human labour and material resources, and needs to be overthrown and replaced by rationally-planned state-run economies.

And there’s also a pronounced puritanical streak to Western culture, which has for centuries disapproved of alcohol, tobacco, sex, drugs, dancing, theatres, music, and more or less anything that isn’t essential for survival.

And perhaps what we have at the moment is a sort of informal alliance between all these different critics of Western civilisation. They are all agreed (although for different reasons) on the need to cut consumption, slow the economy, and perhaps redistribute wealth more equitably. They have arrived at a consensus.

More importantly, all are agreed that the only way to get these results is through the top-down imposition of restrictions – by law. People won’t change their ways of their own accord, so they must be made to change, for their own good. Smoking bans are a form of restrictive legislation. The EU generates thousands of restrictive regulations every year. And the imperatives of climate change also result in further legislation. And all these restrictions are brought in gradually, so that cumulatively the squeeze gets tighter and tighter.

So what will happen?

Well, the effect of all these restrictions will be to gradually impoverish everyone. Everyone will get poorer. And some people – the poor in Greece and Italy and Spain and elsewhere – will become very poor. They will be made destitute. And these people will riot (they have been already). And as everyone gets poorer, more and more people will protest and revolt and riot. It will be governments everywhere pressing down harder and harder on the people. And governments everywhere will become more and more unpopular, with police on the streets everywhere.

I’d like to suggest that the political and moral and economic convictions underpinning this Big Squeeze are actually rather soft. They are, if nothing else, in one degree or other largely irrational. And when they are tested to the limit, they are likely to be found wanting of the necessary steel to push things through in the face of ever-mounting opposition.

Socialists, after all, usually despise the rich, and regard themselves as allied with ‘the people’ . So they’re not going to like policies which penalise the poor, and result in poor people being beaten up in police baton charges.

And greens and environmentalists want a green world full of trees and birds and animals, not a war zone. So they’re not going to like what happens as conflict mounts.

And the kill-joy puritans don’t really want civil war either. They just don’t want people smoking and drinking and enjoying themselves.

So the informal alliance will start to get ragged, as the emerging world proves not to be one of socialist peace and equality, nor green tranquillity and beauty, nor pure living unsullied by tobacco and alcohol. Quite the opposite will be happening, in fact.

The informal alliance of like-minded people will begin to disintegrate, with calls to relax the restrictive rules and regulations. Politicians and pundits will start to break away from the consensus. And the rebels will be rewarded by increasingly angry electorates.

Eventually, the consensus will completely break down, and the attempt at top-down control of large economies will be abandoned. There will be a bonfire of regulations.

Well, that’s what seems to me to be set to happen. The policies being followed are ones that are intended to contract economies, and shrink economies, and that is what they will do. And this will result in growing discontent and insurrection, and the disintegration of the loose alliance of politicians and pundits which set matters on this path, and finally the abandonment of the entire mad project.

Or have I missed something out?

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34 Responses to The Big Squeeze

  1. harleyrider1978 says:

    I would suggest buying up massive amounts of SPAM. Those who grow their own tobacco will have a natural trade and barter commodity. Its so comming!

    Just like I been saying all along get ready currency wars are the first sign of a comming depression

    Currency Wars Return, 1930s Style: Who Will Lose Out?

    As countries try to weaken their currencies to boost exports, the risk of a currency war similar to events seen in the 1930s has heightened, and policymakers are making sure they are on the winning side, according to Morgan Stanley.

    This, in turn, takes us one step closer to a currency war.”
    Manoj Pradhan, an economist at the bank details the 1930s war and highlights the lessons that we can learn from the past.

    The U.K. was the first to leave the gold standard on September 19, 1931 due to painfully high unemployment. Sterling depreciated, setting off a volatile chain of events with the U.S., Norway, Sweden, France and Germany all following suit.

    Those countries that moved early benefited at the expense of others on the gold bloc, a “beggar-thy-neighbor” outcome, according to Pradhan.

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/100441340

    Then even more of this:

    Fed Has Bought More U.S. Debt This Year Than Treasury Issued…

    http://cnsnews.com/news/article/fed-has-bought-more-us-gov-t-debt-year-treasury-has-issued

  2. harleyrider1978 says:

    Frank the one thing you missed was economic depression is the perfect environment for communism to make its move on the people. It happened in Russia and then in america in the 1920s and 30s bringing on the redscare of the 1950s. Hitler rose to power out of the ashes of a defeated germany and a world depression. The environment being created is one where these radicals think the people will run to them to be saved rather than run the opposite way. But your right the people know who to blame and they will vote the losers out if they dont drag them out and hang them personally like Mussollini was done.

    • Rose says:

      Harley, on a previous thread you said
      Did anyone ever stop to think they are doing just to destroy traditional values everywhere and for no other purpose.

      Well, I have been thinking about that and on many newspaper comment threads on a variety of subjects and over quite some time, I keep seeing mention of a Frankfurt School,
      So I have finally looked for an explanation.

      The societal sickness traceable to the Frankfurt School

      “To further the advance of their ‘quiet’ cultural revolution – but giving us no ideas about their plans for the future – the School recommended (among other things):

      1. The creation of racism offences.
      2. Continual change to create confusion
      3. The teaching of sex and homosexuality to children
      4. The undermining of schools’ and teachers’ authority
      5. Huge immigration to destroy identity.
      6. The promotion of excessive drinking
      7. Emptying of churches
      8. An unreliable legal system with bias against victims of crime
      9. Dependency on the state or state benefits
      10. Control and dumbing down of media
      11. Encouraging the breakdown of the family

      http://www.4liberty.org.uk/2011/06/22/the-societal-sickness-traceable-to-the-frankfurt-school/

      Now clearly at the time they were not anticipating a return of the Temperance movement, but it does look horribly familiar.

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        Yes indeed Rose,the destruction of normal society to bring on marxist society. The problem with Marxism is it self implodes as its theory is unsustainable in the real world. It leads to the total collapse of society as it doesnt meet the basic need in us all. What we want, cars of varying design,foods of all diferenrent kinds,riches,large homes or just a small home of our own design. Marxism does not meet the needs of the individual it destroys the individual to be a serf of the state,while making you smile and think you are an individual.

      • Frank Davis says:

        but giving us no ideas about their plans for the future

        They may not have any plans for the future. Most likely they have devoted their efforts to destroying the current order of things, and haven’t thought much about what to replace it with. But if they do have any ideas, they will probably be ones of top-down control of everyone. And, inevitably, this won’t work.

      • Furor Teutonicus says:

        Rose, I agree totaly with what you say, and it IS totaly relevant.

        Just one small point that does not seem to fit;

        XX 6. The promotion of excessive drinking XX

        I think they can take that as a “Fail”….or, have you different thoughts?

        • Rose says:

          There does seem to have been an attempt under the guise of encouraging a “cafe culture”

          24-hour drinking promise
          18 March, 2002

          “Round-the-clock pub opening in England and Wales is back on the agenda, with new legislation to allow it due to be introduced in the next Queen’s Speech.

          At last year’s election, Labour tried to woo young voters by sending text messages indicating a re-elected Blair administration would introduce 24-hour pub opening”.

          http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/1879457.stm

          Labour’s ghastly mistake: The introduction of 24-hour drinking was New Labour at its silliest, says this party grandee

          “Looking back to 2003, when the new and undeniably disastrous licensing law was passed, it is almost impossible to understand why New Labour ministers expected anything except a rise in alcohol-related crime and nights of misery for honest citizens who lived near pubs, clubs and wine bars.

          Failure to recognise the threat they posed to society was a terrible indictment of the politicians who pioneered the 2003 Licensing Act. they did not have long to wait for evidence of the damage they had done. During the first year of 24-hour drinking, violent, drink-related assaults increased by 64,000 to a record total of 1,087,000 and deaths caused by drivers above the alcohol limit rose to the highest level for 30 years.

          But the tragic situation that those figures reveal tells only a small part of the sorry tale. thousands of families are having their lives made hideous by the brawling, drunken hooligans in their streets.”

          http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1296996/Labours-ghastly-mistake-The-introduction-24-hour-drinking-New-Labour-silliest-says-party-grandee.html?ITO=1490#axzz2KDH0IL1w

          But stories like that, by accident or design, just opened the way for Anti-Alcohol.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I think that this is where the ‘loose alliance’ comes in. The capitalism-hating communists are sharing power with the greens (and the puritans). They’re the ‘watermelons': green on the outside, red on the inside. They are all motivated by different ideologies, but they’ve managed to reach a sort of consensus which they all can accept.

      But they’re essentially all destructive rather than constructive. The communists want to ‘smash capitalism’. And the greens want to stop pollution and waste and CO2. And the killjoy puritans want to stop pleasure. And they are indeed gradually stopping and smashing everything, bit by bit. After all, it’s much easier to break things than it is to make them. And none of these people have ever made anything that works.

      So things will only get worse. And it’s as things get worse that the underlying divisions between the various factions will become more evident, and greens will split with commies, and commies will split with puritans, and puritans will split with greens, and their loose alliance will break up. It’s at this point that they will emerge in their true colours, in competition with each other. And they’ll all look pretty ugly.

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        Lets just hope they dont create another world war with us the oppressed fighting it for them. But if we do fight,Im picking the side thats for freedom!

  3. waltc says:

    Yet another fine analysis. I merely disagree that the elites, socialist or not, give a damn about The People being beaten by batons — or give a damn about The People (full stop). Did Stalin? Mao? Pol Pot? Or for that matter, Fidel? No, they’re only interested in imposing the abstract blueprint to which they’re wedded on an abstract People– a People that does not consist of Persons. That aside: right on.

    OT: Just saw on the news a neat bit of Californiana. SF (so concerned about the imaginary tolls of SHS on wharfs) banned the use of plastic bags and apparently even charges for giving you paper ones when you go to the supermarket, demanding people bring their own environmentally correct fabric shopping bags. Upshot: since the ban, a 40% rise in food poisoning when unbagged meat leaks on unbagged lettuce and people don’t scrupulously sanitize their environmentally correct fabric bags. They even attached an annual death toll to it. I find this poetic.

    • smokervoter says:

      Hello Walt.

      L.A., which in my opinion has always harbored a certain faux Bi-Venus Envy (in the deity sense) for Frisco has started up with these stupid Green shopping bag laws and there’s plenty of backlash a brewin’ from the sane old-schoolers there.

      Anyway, I thought I’d leave you with some lyrics penned by Frank “tobacco is my favorite vegetable” Zappa. He was from SoCal and made no secret of his utter disdain for San Francisco hippie-guru culture.

      It’s sung to the tune of Hey Joe and for brevity sake I’ve cut out all of the doubled verses. Enjoy.

      Hey Punk, where you goin’ with that flower in your hand?

      Well, I’m goin’ up to Frisco to join a psychedelic band.

      Hey Punk, where you goin’ with that button on your shirt?

      Yes, I’m goin’ to the love-in to sit & play my bongos in the dirt.

      Hey Punk, where you goin’ with that hair on your head?

      I’m goin’ to the dance to get some action, then I’m goin’ home to bed.

      Hey Punk, where you goin’ with those beads around your neck?

      I’m goin’ to the shrink so he can help me be a nervous wreck…

  4. c777 says:

    Looks like “mascara boy” has a shit storm coming his way.
    Good, I hope it ends him.
    The little shit.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9856544/Stafford-scandal-secret-warning-over-patients-to-Labour.html

    • Rose says:

      I’m glad you mentioned that, knowing his interest , I was just compiling a quick introduction for GaryK, incase he hadn’t heard about it.

      “The evidence gathered by the Inquiry shows clearly that for many patients the most basic elements of care were neglected. Calls for help to use the bathroom were ignored and patients were left lying in soiled sheeting and sitting on commodes for hours, often feeling ashamed and afraid. Patients were left unwashed, at times for up to a month.

      Food and drinks were left out of the reach of patients and many were forced to rely on family members for help with feeding. Staff failed to make basic observations and pain relief was provided late or in some cases not at all. Patients were too often discharged before it was appropriate, only to have to be re-admitted shortly afterwards.

      The standards of hygiene were at times awful, with families forced to remove used bandages and dressings from public areas and clean toilets themselves for fear of catching infections.”

      http://www.midstaffsinquiry.com/pressrelease.html

      Francis inquiry finds ‘shocking’ failures in care as hospital focused on cutting costs and hitting government targets
      http: //www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/feb/24/mid-staffordshire-hospital-inquiry

      See

      http://www.newsnow.co.uk/h/?JavaScript=1&lang=&search=stafford+hospital

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        The evidence gathered by the Inquiry shows clearly that for many patients the most basic elements of care were neglected. Calls for help to use the bathroom were ignored and patients were left lying in soiled sheeting and sitting on commodes for hours, often feeling ashamed and afraid. Patients were left unwashed, at times for up to a month.

        Think Id just shoot myself if I was that invalid and had to put up with needing help with everything. But for those who dont,they deserve the best treatment available.

        Fight til the end,but let us choose the end not them.

        No greater name can one bestow upon themselves than the knowledge they fought for freedom.

      • c777 says:

        Thanks useful links.

      • beobrigitte says:

        Patients too frail to endure low temperatures outside will be offered “nicotine replacement therapy” in the form of gum and patches.

        In Germany we have a saying: Der Mohr hat seine Schuldigkeit getan, der Mohr kann gehen. (The Moor has done his duty, the Moor can go.)
        Let’s get this straight; we are all told that giving up smoking PROLONGS our lives…… WHAT is the QUALITY of these ‘Lives’ who have contributed to this country all their working lives? It just shows HOW CALLOUS the ASH-lobby really is!!!

        Apart from the (overdosing!!!) patches; chewing nicotine gum with dentures?

        • Furor Teutonicus says:

          Guten Tag! O.K. As I said elsewhere, I am now doing my “Praktikum” for “Demenzkrankbegleiter” (A person who helps witjh the daily needs off the people, and supports them through “the bad times”.). (Verdammt TOLL! Aber das ist eine andere Geschichte. :-) )

          We allow them, ie, the “Betroffene” (“Victims” is not quite correct, but… those that have the “sickness”… no exact translation, that I can think of) to smoke, and, indeed, supply them with beer. (Spirits I have not seen. BUT, when that is their choice, then, yes! They will get a bottle of Rum, or whatever) I spent yetserday afternoon rolling JOINTS(!) for a patient!

          To every one else, not beobrigitte in particular,; This does NOT happen in hospitals, fair enough. But please do not tar the whole proffession with the same brush. We all do what we can. Any one that does not, does not belong in the proffession.

          Imagine it was YOUR Grandfather/Mother/Father/Wife YOU!

          We do that as well.

        • Frank Davis says:

          I spent yetserday afternoon rolling JOINTS(!) for a patient

          Oh, the unintended consequences!:-)

        • beobrigitte says:

          Furor, no-one attacks the carers; there just simply aren’t enough of them left. Hospitals are under pressure to save cash!
          Speaking to a nurse to other day was quite an eye opener; she, too, lamented that there was too little time to actually care for patients with the reduced number of staff on wards. Apparently the health and safety over-conscious New Labour introduced numerous documents to be filled in, which takes time that is not spent caring for the patients.
          And yet, it is these overworked people who are getting the blame when things finally go wrong. Carers are being pushed way beyond their boundaries.

          I spent yetserday afternoon rolling JOINTS(!) for a patient!
          You must work with people still in their own homes!!!
          That reminds me of parking next to a huge car in which Hendrix’s “along the watch tower’ was played at full volume at the local supermarket. Out of this car came a wheel chair and a very old man. We had a great conversation in the car park!

        • Furor Teutonicus says:

          Hmm. Can not answer the post to which this refers, but; XX You must work with people still in their own homes!!!XX

          No. It is what is called here a “Wohngemeinschaft”. Each has their own room, where they can basically do what they want. The cooking/laundry etc is all done by the staff.

          We have 11 “Patients”, and normally there are two to three staff on duty at any one time. Thzis type of “Care home” has become a big thing in Germany. Also in Scandinavia and Holland.

  5. melinoerealm says:

    “And there’s also a pronounced puritanical streak to Western culture, which has for centuries disapproved of alcohol, tobacco, sex, drugs, dancing, theatres, music, and more or less anything that isn’t essential for survival.”

    Ιt’s called christianity. The remedy is the classical roman/greek worldview.

  6. mactheknife says:

    One omission (IMO), is that as far as I can see we are led by people who simply don’t give a damn what we think. what concerns us or what we need. Let alone what we might want.

    I’m not so naive as to suggest that there was once a golden age, where paragons of civil and public worth benevolently oversaw our welfare and prosperity. In many cases quite the reverse.

    Nevertheless, whoever was in government had an implicit understanding that their access to wealth, privilege and prestige were directly contingent on their capacity to keep the electorate (and more pertinently) the taxpayer, happy.

    Somewhere in the 1990’s, this key component of representative democracy became de-coupled and rolled into the sidings.

    We are left with an international political class which, with the aid of a largely compliant media, inhabits some sort grotesque hall of mirrors, wherein they are wholly self-referential.

    Exacerbating this is a battery of pan-european and pan-global organisations to which they have abrogated decision-making thereby devising a government-lite playground in which for them to frolic and posture. When you consider that these self-same organisations provide an ‘escape pod’ for the biggest and most astute players, insulating them from the consequences of failure, incompetence or criminality, is it any wonder that they behave as they do? One need only look at the roll-call of wannabees, has-beens and never-weres who joined these organisations (the Kinnocks, Mandelson, Blair et al) to see this odious mechanism in action.

    Lacking any meaningful power, and unencumbered by any need to listen to the productive electorate, they are free to ride in ever-decreasing circles, their own irrelevant hobby-horses. Steered and spurred on by otiose bien-pensants, vociferous lobbies and special interest groups. Hence a blizzard of unwelcome and uncalled-for intrusions into all our lives with no sign of relief.

    Until we reinstate a robust, fully independent nation-state, we can expect no better, and it’s down us. If we expect this ‘ship of fools’ to change course of their own volition, we will be disappointed; and the endgame will be most terrible.

  7. Tony says:

    Sorry, off topic:

    I came across this on Bishop Hill’s blog.

    http://blogs.royalsociety.org/in-verba/2013/02/07/what-counts-as-good-evidence-for-policy/#.URPR5jtDE2Y.twitter

    “Should there be a separation between scientists and campaigners? Is such a separation possible? Richard Horton pointed out that for a public health researcher, not being an activist is the exception. However, Pielke pointed out that for climate science, experts being activists can actually lessen their credibility.” [emphasis in the original]

    No surprise there. Of course ‘pal review’ follows directly from this.

    I think their mindset is that ‘science’ is merely a useful tool to further their mission and that they genuinely don’t understand the concept of real objective science. I’m not sure this is a good analogy but it is like someone using a screwdriver as a lever or to hit people with, rather than understanding what a screwdriver is actually designed to do.

  8. harleyrider1978 says:

    ROFLMAO
    Greek MP’s Flout No Smoking Law

    Joining other Greeks who have ignored five smoking bans in the last decade and light up just about wherever and wherever they want, Greek lawmakers are openly smoking in Parliament in violation of the law they passed, and in the building where they did it.

    The defiance has angered 88 of the 300 Members of Parliament who wrote to the body’s speaker urging action against what they called a “pathetic and infuriating” state of affairs.

    MP’s enjoy other special privileges as well and a lifestyle that has angered Greeks suffering under crushing austerity measures. Greek media reported that during debates, most of them are in the halls drinking whiskey and eating unlimited free food.

    Greece has one of the European Union’s highest smoking rates but has given up on trying to enforce no smoking laws, including the last one in 2010 to outlaw smoking in enclosed public areas. Violators face fines of 50-500 euros, $68-680 which are rarely enforced and inspectors face resistance when they try to cite people for breaking the law.

    People still light up freely in bars, cafes, restaurants – and Parliament. It wasn’t that long ago that they would even smoke in supermarkets, and doctors often smoke in hospitals. The lawmakers wrote that, apart from assembly halls, at times there is “not a single square meter” in Parliament where the law isn’t broken. It’s common in Greece for unpopular laws to be violated without recourse.

    http://greece.greekreporter.com/2013/02/07/greek-mps-flout-no-smoking-law/

    • melinoerealm says:

      The bans were demanded from EU parasites, it wasn’t the lawmakers’ fault.

      If only other countries’ citizens followed this example, the smoking ban would be history by now.

    • nisakiman says:

      Now you know why I live here Harley! :D

      They may flirt with left and right-wing politics, but at heart they are Anarchists. Even the politicians here don’t trust politicians!

      …and inspectors face resistance when they try to cite people for breaking the law.

      Wouldn’t it be nice if smokers all over the world took a similarly robust approach to jobsworth killjoys.

  9. beobrigitte says:

    And the global warming scare, and calls to reduce our ‘carbon footprint’ also entail reductions of energy consumption, and increased costs of fuels as ‘renewable energy sources’ like solar power and windmills prove much more expensive.

    Reducing ‘carbon footprint':
    Our politicians could lead the way and stop gallivanting all over the world by plane.

    Windmills:
    Our politicians should lead the way and live next to them. Enjoy!
    Apart from the cost and high use of ‘conventional’ energy needed in order to operate them, it is advisable to own numerous cats in order to deal with the flying ‘casualties’ as a windmill cannot distinguish between common (?expendable) and rare bird species. To a cat both are the same. The already dead birds feed a thriving, well adapted, and omnivorous, rat population.

    solar power
    Now, I do know a household in which this works; it just ISN’T in England. . Perhaps we should need to adjust the weather first.

    wood
    Yes, it is ‘re-newable’. Pity is, it takes many years to be re-newed. In the meantime?

    water
    Driving huge turbines with incoming/outgoing tides seems like a good idea on the surface. Will someone put a sign up for the fish not to swim anywhere near the turbines as they clog them up almost instantly? (If they ignore the signs we can always get a treaty signed and dictate a ‘fish-free’ law…. Of course this will include anything remotely reminding of fish!)
    Ok, there is plenty of sea around Britain (just not much cod).
    Other European countries are a little less lucky.

    Short sightedness has been recognised as a problem; however, political shortsightedness is yet awaiting treatment.

  10. nisakiman says:

    solar power
    Now, I do know a household in which this works; it just ISN’T in England. . Perhaps we should need to adjust the weather first.

    Ah, what we need is a bit of serious Global Warming, then the solar panels would work a treat.

  11. melinoerealm says:

    Get in and vote yes, we need more votes. The push for amending the ban in the future Eurovegas complex might help all countries in Europe under a blanket smoking ban (Spain, Ireland and UK).

    http://www.expansion.com/debate/2013/02/848/prevotaciones848.html

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