Thursday, April 26, 2012

European Commissioners

        The European Commission can only be dismissed en-bloc by the European Parliament and when allegations of fraud arose the entire Commission under Jaques Santer resigned, although many Commissioners were re-appointed under Romano Prodi.
The European Parliament also has the right to oppose the appointment of the Commission en-bloc.   It did this in 2004.   The effect of all this is that individual Commissioners are unaccountable and the exercise of their rights by the European Parliament, are rarely used.
The European Parliament should have the right to dismiss individual Commissioners. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

European Commission

The European Commission has a peculiarly privileged position in that it has the right to propose new legal initiatives – and once adopted, European law trumps national sovereignty.   This has enabled a strange kind of bureaucratic vanguardism to emerge, with the Commission self-consciously extending the reach of European integration free from the standard political oversight at the national level.
In their glass boxes the commissions, committees and sub – committees play an absurd billion-euro bridge game.   All are entirely without democratic legitimisation: those who had power had not been elected, and those who had been elected had no power.
The European Commission should be the civil service of Europe not a quasi government.   By it having the  right to propose new legal initiatives it sets the agenda for the direction it wishes Europe to move.   New initiatives should emerge from the Council of Ministers or the European Parliament.   The Commission should be there to serve the peoples of Europe, not to govern them.
The European Commission should no longer have the power to propose legal initiatives.   Either the Council of Ministers or the European Parliament should propose them.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Don't make old people mad!

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman that she should  bring her own shopping bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment. The woman apologized and explained, "We didn't have this green thing back in my earlier days."
The cashier responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations."
She was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day. Back then, we returned milk bottles, pop bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.
But we didn't have the green thing back in our day. We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every shop and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.
But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.
Back then, we washed the baby's nappies because we didn't have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right. We didn't have the green thing back in our day.
Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the county of Yorkshire . In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the post, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not
Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn petrol just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she's right. We didn't have the green thing back then.
We drank water from a fountain or a tap when we were thirsty instead of demanding a plastic bottle flown in from another country. We accepted that a lot of food was seasonal and didn't expect that to be bucked by flying it thousands of air miles around the world. We actually cooked food that didn't come out of a packet, tin or plastic wrap and we could even wash our own vegetables and chop our own salad. But we didn't have the green thing back then.
Back then, people took the tram or a bus, and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their mothers into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.
But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?
Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smart-ass young person.
Remember: Don't make old people mad. We don't like being old in the first place, so it doesn't take much to piss us off.