EU: Union or Disintegration

Ultimately, it seems to me, the fate of the UK smoking ban is entirely dependent on the fate of the EU. So what’s going to happen to the EU?

A week back, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the Daily Telegraph wrote this:

I suspect that the realities of the eurozone have reached a point where only two options exist:

1) The folding together of the eurozone states, with a debt pool, shared budgets, joint taxation, and fiscal union.

In other words, the nation states must abolish themselves (leaving only the shell), and Germany must cease to exist in any meaningful form. This was always the inherent logic of EMU. We are coming close to the moment when it must be decided.

2) The system blows apart. From a German point of view, Target2 means if the deed were done “twere better it were done quickly”. Perhaps very quickly.

All else is Quatsch* and wishful thinking.  (* nonsense)

This is more or less how I see it. But it usually seems to me that the system will blow apart. AEP, however, seems to think that an EU fiscal union is a perfectly plausible outcome. Or at least he doesn’t think that it’s Quatsch and wishful thinking.

So for the last week or so I’ve been entertaining the nightmarish thought that I’ll wake up any day now to hear the Ode To Joy coming out of loudspeakers everywhere, and find that EU leaders have agreed to a fiscal union, and all the debts of member states have been pooled, and Britain is member of it too, and we’re no longer called Britain, but Transmanche or something. And this will mean that the smoking ban will be extended to absolutely everywhere, including people’s own homes, and smoking refuseniks like myself will be sent to concentration camps. Because that is what the EU future means. And since all the politicians everywhere in Europe are pro-EU (apart from a fringe), it seems entirely likely that they’ve already signed on the dotted line, and just haven’t got round to telling their electorates yet.

But yesterday AEP was writing about the political disintegration of Europe:

Elected governments have already been swept away – or replaced by EU technocrats without a vote, indeed to prevent a vote – in every eurozone state where unemployment has reached double-digits: Spain (23.6pc), Greece (21pc), Portugal (15pc), Ireland (14.7pc) and Slovakia (14pc).

The political carnage has been striking. Ireland’s Fianna Fail, creator of the Irish free state, has lost every seat in Dublin. Greece’s Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) – torch-bearers of Greek democracy since the Colonels – has fallen to 14pc in the polls and faces ruin next month.

This week the tornado has smashed into the core, bringing down Holland’s govenment and probably the French leader Nicolas Sarkozy as well in a cacophany of anti-EU diatribes…

The results are in: the hard-Left and hard-Right are on the rampage across Euroland.

In such circumstances, it’s rather hard to see the established europhile political class being around for long enough to be able to implement a fiscal union.

But then, these days it seems that the European electorate’s votes don’t count for much anyway, given (as AEP points out) that the governments of Greece and Italy have already been replaced by EU technocrats. So what’s to stop them doing the same in Holland or France? It is as if the EU state already exists, with all the requisite supranational powers in place that are needed to replace problematic member governments.

In addition, since all politicians (apart from a small minority) seem to belong to the europhile establishment, the chances are that any politician – left or right or centre – that anyone votes for will, on election, morph into a europhile clone. After all, that’s the situation in Britain today, where we have in effect a Lib-Lab-Con one-party state, and despite pretending to be Conservative, David Cameron is clearly a socialist of some sort or other. People vote for one thing, and promptly get something else. As is now seeming to be happening with the French presidential candidate, Hollande, who seems to have switched from being anti-European to pro-European since he won the first round of the presidential elections.

The result is a deepening disillusionment (one that I share) among voters, as the Telegraph reported today:

The headlines tomorrow will be full of Hunt and Murdoch and double-dips. But there’s another story that might, in the long term, be even more important.

Today, the Hansard Society published its annual Audit of Political Engagement. It showed that public interest in – and faith in – politics has essentially collapsed.

So it seems to me that a race is on for the EU establishment to try to bind Europe into a fiscal union before the political ground beneath their feet vanishes. Because if Britain (and Germany) haven’t yet experienced the seismic tremors shaking Europe, they soon will.

And if the EU fiscal union fails to emerge, and the EU disintegrates, then the EU-mandated smoking ban will most likely be the first unpopular EU law that will be revoked. And the same will happen everywhere in Europe.

The odd thing about all this for me is that it’s been my gradual (make that ‘painfully slow’) recognition that the UK smoking ban has its roots in the EU that has turned me very strongly against the EU. And I suspect that the same will have been true for a great many other smokers across Europe. After all, what smoker wants to be a member of a state that is dedicated to the eradication of smoking (and therefore of smokers)? And since smokers make up about a third of the population of Europe, it has always seemed to me to be political folly of the first order to alienate so many people from the very outset, and thereby instigate the kind of political divisions which are now sweeping Europe. They may as well have said that they intended to exterminate all Jews as well.

Do they know what they’re doing? And the answer to this question is almost certainly: No. Because it’s now clear that monetary union wasn’t carefully thought through, and is now suffering from a set of problems which were widely forecast, but which the European establishment disregarded. And if they didn’t really know what they were doing in respect of monetary union, then most likely they don’t know what they’re doing in respect of anything else either.

The EU, I’m coming to believe (and was writing about it a few days ago), is a political fantasy. It’s a piece of wishful thinking. And so also is its smoking ban, and much else besides. And it’s a political fantasy that is probably now terminally damaged, although the fantasists driving it will cling onto their fantasy to the very end.

What will emerge after that is anyone’s guess – although quite obviously the European establishment political class will be almost completely swept away, once their raison d’etre has evaporated. And the new breed of politicians that will emerge are likely to be hard-headed realists rather political fantasists of their type.

One last European question, to which I don’t have an answer: Has Greece really been buying large amounts of arms from Germany and France, and in this manner run up most of its debts? I find the story hard to credit.

For light relief, here’s my third prototype cigarette packet. The cigarettes are held in a box which slides out of another box. You can see a cigarette protruding from the protruding inside box. The difficult thing has been to find a way to hold the 20 cigarettes inside the inner box, and the latest design has twin trays to keep them in place and separate. It’s a right bugger to load with cigarettes though.

In light of the foregoing essay, I’m beginning to think that it will never be used by anyone because the smoking ban will be lifted once the EU disintegrates. And it will also never be used by anyone in the event of the emergence of an EU fiscal union, but will instead be used in evidence (along with the rest of my blog) at the half-hour show trial at which I will be condemned to death, and before whose firing squad I will recall, probably inaccurately, Jorge Luis Borges’ ‘Secret Miracle’.

“He accepted the cigarette out of politeness or humility. As he lit it, he saw that his hands shook. “

About Frank Davis

smoker
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31 Responses to EU: Union or Disintegration

  1. A fiscal EU will destroy Germany,France is already on its way down………. They cant possibly survive a Fiscal union it will bring world wide depression and probabl will even if the EU falls completely apart. Germanys the only one still economically strong enuf to maybe survive it alone,maybe!

    In all honesty I believe we are witnessing the fall of the greens and their united nations experiment of controlling the world as nationhood and single nation survival takes hold within their own borders….

    Its the classic armeggedon waiting to happen!

  2. EPA Official’s ‘Philosophy’ On Oil Companies: ‘Crucify Them’ – Just As Romans Crucified Conquered Citizens
    http://cnsnews.com/blog/craig-bannister/epa-officials-philosophy-oil-companies-crucify-them-just-romans-crucified

  3. waltc says:

    Too bad the pubs are gone (or maybe that’s why They killed them) because people getting together and discussing this over drinks would almost certainly take to the streets if their puppet governments started to merge. But in any case, I’d expect a lot of civil disobedience which can pretty much be contagious. All the groups they’ve pissed off, one by one, joining the mob.

  4. nisakiman says:

    “And if the EU fiscal union fails to emerge, and the EU disintegrates, then the EU-mandated smoking ban will most likely be the first unpopular EU law that will be revoked.”

    I think you’re being overly optimistic there, Frank. Politicians, for the most part, don’t do rescinding legislation. And the health lobby will still be shouting just as loudly, whatever the political stripe of the rulers. The only hope we have is if UKIP get into power and actually follow through with their pledge of returning property rights to property owners. Even though the bans have come via the EU, the UK government is renown for gold plating any laws that add restrictions and/or red tape. The mandarins love that stuff – it guarantees their sinecure. They won’t let go without a fight.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Well, we’ll see. But it seems to me that if the EU disintegrates, all sorts of people will be calling for the deregulation of an economy toiling under the burden of EU regulations. And the smoking ban is a prime example of an unnecessary and strangling piece of legislation. Yes, of course bureaucrats will object. So will antismokers. And what will happen to UKIP?

  5. Rose says:

    Frank

    I think you may be over designing that cigarette packet and lovely as it is, it seems to be upside down.
    If I’m not misinterpreting the picture, when you get to the last couple of cigarettes, won’t the box fall apart?

    • Frank Davis says:

      Yes, it would fall apart, if you carried on opening it that way. But the inner box can be slid in the opposite direction as well, to get the last few cigarettes out.

      And yes, it probably is upside down, in the sense that the cigarette appears to be coming out of the bottom rather than the top. At the moment, the cigarettes can slide out both ways, although the plan is for one way only.

      • Rose says:

        Ah, I see.

        • Frank Davis says:

          But perhaps I am overdesigning, all the same. These are becoming quite complicated bits of geometry. My latest design is quite neat and compact, and would be quite functional in use.

          But, it’s quite difficult to make, with several things needing to be glued together very carefully. And it is, as I’ve already said, rather difficult to load. After all, loading packets with cigarettes isn’t a problem that most smokers usually face..So I’m wondering whether to go back to a simple box with a lid, that would be easy to make, and easy to load.

          Does anyone know why manufactured cigarettes are kept in silver foil? What’s its purpose?

        • Frank Ive got a myriad of cigarette cases and vintage ashtrays my dad had from the 50s thru the 70s most mongrammed! My favorite is the gold one and it holds about 12 ciggys…. Of course my dad was a nashville guitar picker best friends with Chet Atkins and the 2 played five finger picking together. You litterally couldnt tell their musice apart!

        • Rose says:

          Frank

          Perhaps someone can correct me if my memory is playing tricks, but for a push up box there should only be one seam on the band that forms the back,front and sides.
          A sort of sliding tray as it were, holds the cigarettes , with tabs that fold once to form the top or bottom of the pack, then fold again to form a shaped tab that tucks in.

          Y’know this is remarkably difficult to describe in words. Oh for a sheet of paper and a pencil!

        • Frank Davis says:

          By a ‘seam’ I assume you mean a join. Yes, the box is made of a ‘band’ of card which is joined to form 4 faces of a box. The inner box (in my version above) is the same as the outer box, except very slightly smaller. But what I think you’re thinking of is a tray with raided edges (tabs) which fold twice to make a tray with a lip running round the edge.

  6. prog says:

    I haven’t followed your links in detail Frank, but Holland seems to be in major trouble. RTV reported that she might opt out of the euro, citing that the people see no reason to endure draconian austerity measures simply to prop up a dying currency. Doesn’t seem to be too much about this in western MSM.

  7. DEAD ON TOPIC

    Welcome to political chaosWith leaders in Europe and elsewhere offering only austerity and pain for the foreseeable future, they’re inviting political upheaval. Now that it has begun, drastic action will be needed to stop it.

    The threat is that the conservative Franco-German alliance that has been steering Europe through this crisis with maxims of “austerity before bailouts” and “bankers before taxpayers” will collapse. A breakdown increases the risk that a country such as Greece will exit the eurozone due to a lack of rescue funding.

    And it increases the risk that Germany, realizing that it’s milked all it can from the euro (via massive trade surplus with the weaker peripheral countries) packs up and leaves rather than providing more rescue funding. Without Germany — the eurozone country with the deepest pockets — there is no orderly resolution to the debt crisis.

    http://money.msn.com/investing/welcome-to-political-chaos-mirhaydari.aspx

  8. smokingscot says:

    It’s extremely unlikely we’ll ever end up with a real fiscal union this side of May 2015 (bye bye to this coalition).

    However, going on your hypothesis with the 30 minute show trial, I’m very sad to say you will not be shot.

    The whole point would be to make an example of you and scare the willies out of other unhumble bloggers.

    Hence you’d be banged up in a non-smoking jail and every two or three years you’ll come up for parole and Mass Media will be told beforehand, then told your application has failed.

    And the Anti’s will laugh, because they’ll still weedle funding for several generations to conduct follow up analysis. (taken from today’s report there is no evidence to support mobile phones are dangerous, but they want years of funding to follow up).

    But they won’t want you to become a martyr so, when you eventually pop your cloggs, they’ll cremate you, then do a USB and chuck the ashes from an aircraft carrier – one of the new ones they’re buiding, but don’t really need.

    So the EU has to implode and the quicker the better!

  9. nisakiman says:

    Frank, your sketch is very nearly correct, but not quite. The original push-up packs were very simple affairs, and you only needed to partially open the pack to access the fags inside. There’s a pic of a 10 Woodbines pack here:

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/old-woodbine-cigarette-packets-10s-and-5s-/180866339114?pt=UK_Collectables_Tobacciana_Smoking_LE&hash=item2a1c79512a

    that shows the construction quite well. Top and bottom were identical, with the double fold, and the sides had a single fold. They were, of course, foil lined in the same way flip-tops are today. Packs of twenty were the same but twice as wide.

  10. Frank Davis says:

    Thanks nisakiman. They could do with being displayed.

    Incidentally, the Player’s box seems to have double-folded sides, unlike the Burlington.

    • nisakiman says:

      No, Frank, that’s just where the pack has been somewhat crushed. They normally had just the single fold on the sides.

      • Rose says:

        Oh well done nisakiman, that Navy Cut packet is exactly what I was trying to describe.
        I forgot the side flaps on the internal bit though, it’s been a very long time since I saw one of those packets.

        • nisakiman says:

          Yes, I was sad to see the demise of the push-up packs. They were a delight to use, and aesthetically very pleasing. The only downside was that they weren’t very robust, and could easily get crushed in your pocket. Which reminds me, I seem to remember that the flip-top packs were originally marketed as “crush-proof packs”. They were a lot stronger, having eight fixed and rigid corners, but tended to be bulky and awkward in the pocket, and lacked the tactile pleasure of opening and closing the push-ups. I also associate flip-tops with the advent of those utterly useless warnings, which have grown ever larger and more strident and yet still have no effect on smoking rates.Uglification for uglification’s sake, just like the proposed “plain packaging”.

    • Ah yes! The players packs. Brings back memories, my parents used to smoke those ( I was just a kid then and hadn’t started smoking). It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the push-up packs. I’ve worked out a template for those myself, which I’ll post, for anyone to download if they wish, once I put on the computer.
      @nisakiman – ‘Uglification for uglification’s sake’. I totally agree with you there! The excessive warnings and proposed plain packs are ugly, which speaks volumes about the ‘designers’ behind them.
      ‘Everything in your home should be useful and beautiful’, isn’t that what William Morris said? Well, I don’t see why that shouldn’t apply to cigarette packs as well.

  11. Hi Frank, I’ve been trying to read your latest post, but am having problems. The ‘password’ you’re supposed to enter: is that the wordpress password? I tried it and it didn’t work.

  12. jaxthefirst says:

    I just can’t see the “fiscal union” scenario (if it were to happen) being anything other than a delaying strategy, for the simple reason that it’s screamingly obvious that the whole of the EU organisation simply – for want of a better phrase – “aren’t very good with money.” It’s the biggest failing of all left-leaning philosophies everywhere – communist regimes, the EU and our own Labour party included. They just don’t seem to have ever “got” the whole business of money, do they? They’re all full of lovely, warm, cuddly ideas about helping the poor and ensuring equality and assisting those who need it most – which is all very laudable and kind and touchy-feely, but they just don’t seem to be able get their head around the fact that in order to fund all that help and benefit and equality they need all those wicked, profiteering capitalists making the money upon which to pay the tax which would go towards funding all those nice, cuddly policies in the first place. It’s a triumph of idealism over realism, I guess, but it’s one for which the much-burdened public has ultimately to pay the price – literally.

    I don’t dispute for a second that through a combination of political manoeuvring and machinations and downright threats, the EU would be able to ensure that all the obedient puppet politicians they’ve installed throughout Europe – including in the UK – would sign up to such a union, and to be honest it wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference whether the people of those countries wanted it or not; politicians of all colours and in all of the EU member states have long made it obvious that they take their orders from Brussels and nowhere else, regardless of what they say at pre-election time, so the option for the people will be the same everywhere – like it or lump it.

    But even then, it can only ever be a temporary “fix.” The only way that such a scenario could possibly be successful in ensuring financial (and political) stability for Europe would be for the EU mandarins, like the communist grandees in Russia 20-odd years ago, to swallow their pride, eschew some of their most fondly-held socialist principles and go down the bad old capitalist, pro-business, pro-profit route. And, as we all know from recent history and our own unfortunate entanglements with the EU, those who run the show in Brussels are, it seems, pathologically incapable of ever admitting they were wrong, changing their minds or adopting anything approaching a greater sense of realism.

    It’s just a shame that they’ll take a lot of fine, historical nations down with them.

  13. smokervoter says:

    Hey Harley, tell me more about your dad and Chet Atkins. I’m a guitar-picker myself. Started out learning Dick Dale surf music, moved on to Yardbirds/Jeff Beck and have attempted to learn an Atkins song or two along the way as well.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Didn’t Elvis hang out in Nashville a while?

      • smokervoter says:

        Frank, he most certainly did. Apparently Chet Atkins engineered an Elvis session there in January 1956!

        One of the finest guitars I’ve ever had the privilege to play was a friends Gretsch Chet Atkins Country Gentleman.

        Jeff Beck is a British national treasure. If you ever get a chance to see him play, do it. You won’t be the same afterwards. His virtuosity in mind-boggling.

        Chet Atkins and Elvis and Nashville

  14. Frank Davis says:

    Jeff Beck is one British guitarist I’ve never fully appreciated. My favourite is probably Led Zepellin’s Jimmy Page. I saw them in concert 20 or 30 years ago. The drummer hadn’t showed up, but rather than just leave people waiting, Jimmy Page sat down on a chair with a 12-string (acoustic) guitar and played beautifully for half an hour until the drummer finally showed up. Afterwards I thought that it had been the highlight of the show.

    I also sat on a stage about 3 feet in front of Eric Clapton in his early Cream days. I had no idea who he was. I was the only person at the dance that paid any attention to them at all. I didn’t think they were very good. They all played with their eyes closed. I didn’t reckon they had much of a future.

    Best show I ever saw anywhere, though, was Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, with Rockette Morton and Zoot Horn Rollo.

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