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I’m not a big fan of any institutionalized form of religion, and I’m certainly not a fan of the Catholic pope. So every year at Easter I notice with an ever so small annoyance how even some of my preferred German news portals spend time reporting about how long or for how many stations the pope carried the cross. Personally, I find it more interesting that the flowers for the decoration of the Saint Peter’s Square are donated by Dutch florists. [The florists themselves are actually not very Christian, but it is simply excellent advertisement when the pope thanks the Dutch florists during his address which is broad-casted to hundreds of millions of people.] I’m also partly conciliated by the fact that there was still more media attention (at least in Germany) given to the pope’s anti-semitic reintroduction of an ancient form of the “Good Friday Prayer for the Jews“. Here’s a small excerpt from this prayer:

“Let us also pray for the Jews: That our God and Lord may illuminate their hearts, that they acknowledge Jesus Christ is the Savior of all men.

Anyways, these are just the usual doings of the pope, clearly aimed at a better understanding and mutual respect between the religions. This together with his constant effort in the struggle against HIV, and his efforts in the struggle against homophobia are some of the reasons why I respect and admire him so much. All of this I’ve long gotten used to.

What really bothered me during this Easter was another conspiracy, which did not have its roots at the Vatican. It was a conspiracy of all the public swimming pools in and around Lausanne to close over the Easter holidays. I was really, really in the mood to go swimming but I found myself locked out at four different pools.

To me, as a naive “economic layperson“, it seems that the chairman of the fed (or at least the fed itself) has more power than all the politicians of the G8 combined. How can a single number, the federal funds rate, be such a matter of life or death?

I mean, I understand enough economic theory to “understand” it at a superficial level, but I wonder if this enormous dependency (see the current news) is really due to the objective meaning of this number, or whether the effects we’re currently seeing are not mostly caused by day traders, without any actual interest in any of the companies (or the employees) they invest in. [Probably, any reasonably cynical person will automatically reply: “It’s the latter!”]

To explain in more detail: The fed’s funds rate was changed by 0.75%. That means if you borrow $100, the difference in the interest you have to pay back after one year is 0.75. But these 0.75 cents seem to be enough to have a serious impact on the near future of the world’s economy.

It’s simply not the most comforting thought for me, to think that probably a few thousand people get a kick (and lots of money) out of playing with global recession, before they die of a heart-attack at the age of 45. It’s simply not the kind of people in whose hands I’d like to see so much power over the future of the planet I live on (and its people) .

(If you don’t know this phrase, then maybe you’re interested to read up on the cultural reference.)

If you’ve recently been to Germany, you will have noticed the rampaging hoards of youngsters/mobsters  terrorizing innocent, law-abiding, conservative voters. Glad that there are politicians such as Roland Koch who come to our rescue by proposing much harsher youth laws and boot camps.

Of course, not that the numbers indicate any recent rise in crime among youths, or not as if the judges are in favor of such measures, or not as if boot camps actually worked in the US, but, hey, who needs proof in an election campaign?

In my (limited) understanding, it is much more the supportive institutions such as this one, which actually help to put the trouble kids back onto the right track.

[Apologies that all the relevant links point to German pages, but currently there’s an incredibly stupid (in my opinion) debate going on concerning “Germany’s most urgent problem”: criminal youngsters. If you happen to live in Hessen, please, please don’t let Roland Koch get away with this cheap populist campaign.]

But, no, that does not mean that I want more and more highways to be built everywhere, or that against introducing a speed limit on German Autobahns.

These are two reasons why I deliberately chose not to join the ADAC (which is the club [of any kind] in Germany with the most members), as I personally don’t like their lobbying. So I was very grateful when Christian pointed out to me that there are also alternatives. Eventually, I joined the VCS which is an alternative automobile club (offering an emergency pickup service) in Switzerland.

In fact, the German car manufactures were just awarded the “Worst EU Lobbying Award 2007“! Congratulations!

Wouldn’t the world be a horribly dull and boring place without all the car, oil and gun lobbyists?


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