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The World Has Turned to Crap

Well, there you have it. I suppose I could stop right there with that headline, as it reflects accurately what I witnessed on my recent several weeks in Europe, and what I am seeing in general world-wide. My mood is dark as of late, which is largely a result of what I am seeing.

I have been to Europe many, many times. There are places etched in my memory, that I loved: London, Madrid, Barcelona, Florence, Venice, Paris, etc. Each of those places have changed so much, for the worse, that I no longer can reconcile my memories with the current reality. What happened to these places?

Well, firstly, they have become “diversified”. That means they are now awash with hordes of unwashed. They are everywhere – begging, stealing, loafing, committing violence, and generally being parasitic and destructive.

One tour guide we were with was pick-pocketed three times in the last year. I avoided a couple of attempts to do the same to me. Pickpocketing is in epidemic proportion. The why is easy to see – for instance, in Barcelona the penalty for pickpocketing is 50 euros – no matter how often you get caught, the penalty is 50 euros. The police will now do nothing – why would they? If they catch the pickpocket, take them to jail, do the paperwork, etc. – the criminal is released with a fine of 50 euros. In fairness, the pickpockets are not entirely limited to the hordes of unwashed that have arrived – many locals have realized that, hey, the cops are not going to act – at all – so what the hell, let’s make a grab for whatever passes by.

We met an old lady who was about to board a cruise. She had been pickpocketed – lost her money, credit cards, and most unfortunately, her passport. So no cruise for her, as without a passport, you cannot board. If it were not for the benevolence of the hotel where she was staying previously, she would possibly have been destitute on the street. This poor old lady, in her 80s, was beyond devastated. How has it come to pass that these parasites are allowed to target the most vulnerable?

A further example is that Greece has just passed a law where thieves get no jail time unless they steal over 120,000 euros. Yes, you are reading that correctly – in Greece you can steal up to 120,000 euros, and receive no jail time. You can imagine what this does to encourage the actions of the unwashed and the unscrupulous general population.

Secondly, those unwashed hordes have combined with great masses of tourists. The tourists are often ignorant, rude savages with no understanding of the cultures and history of the places they are visiting. They rocket along, taking endless selfies, one after another, waving their selfie-sticks, oft dangerously. They push, shove, screech, and generally misbehave – and leave no richer for the experience than they arrived.

We witnessed a group of blacks misbehaving. An example of their behaviour was that two of the male members of the group ran out into perhaps Madrid’s busiest street so as to be able to take photos of their group against a backdrop they fancied. Cars were swerving everywhere to avoid them, as their presence was entirely unexpected. That they survived is both a miracle and perhaps indicative that fools are not always punished for their stupidity.

We saw stupidly dangerous activities by tourists everywhere – Asians were highly represented in this. Asians were also constantly being berated by security guards, guides, etc., for improper behaviour. They will climb on anything, they will ignore warning signs, they will take selfies in the most dangerous of spots (hanging out windows of moving trains, etc.). It is like they are entirely unaware of any social expectations. I wonder if it is a result of living in places where they are always massed together when in public.

We encountered unimaginable rudeness on a daily basis. I consider that I am quite polite when travelling – I have travelled extensively, and go with the flow of the locals. On more than one occasion it got ugly when we were pushed and jostled by the ignorant tourist zombies. It was quite disappointing. I am most pleased that I managed not to have smacked any of the assholes that so richly deserved it, as it would have greatly complicated my existence. I have indeed mellowed over the years.

Thirdly, many of these nations have not advanced economically, yet they have expanded their welfare states far beyond that which is sustainable.

On a worksite we were visiting, they were doing some construction. There were a number of men, of varying ages. There were two men whose job was to bring soil and rock. They had one spoon-sized shovel between them, and one child-sized wheel barrow between them. The wheelbarrow would have been perhaps 1/5th the size that I personally use to do the same tasks. There was no powered equipment of any kind. There were perhaps 10 men “working”. They could have all been replaced by a small bobcat or mini-loader and one man. It was stunning in its inefficiency, and that is saying something, given I am familiar with how inefficient building sites can be.

At another location, in Italy, I witnessed the set for a Greek play being set up in an amphitheater. There were pallet sized floor sections that had to be laid down. These sections were on wheels. The sections were pushed by 2 men, and there were – literally, no joke – 8 men that walked along side the pallets doing nothing. They could have been pushing 4 more pallets, but no – 10 people to move one pallet. They could have all been replaced by 1 man and a forklift. At the same location, there was a man cutting a yard with a line trimmer. It would take him days to do what a man with push lawn mower could do in half an hour. The entire place was huge with nary a ride on mower in site, and it was in horrendous disrepair. It is incomprehensible, with all the workers, all the tourist money, that they could not maintain the facility, which leads me to….

Fourthly, corruption is deeply, deeply rooted into the entire population.

Greece is Exhibit A of this, but it is similar in almost all of the Mediterranean nations we visited. In Greece, the population simply will not pay taxes, for instance. 59% of the working age population owes a tax debt, with a value of around 150 billion euros. They will not pay. Why? Because the Greek government will not prosecute. And further, the Greek government actually encourages it by their policies. You see, the Greek government periodically offers tax amnesties – they settle the debts for 60% of the tax owed. So, the Greeks, being not entirely stupid, realize that they get to keep 40% of all the tax they can avoid, with zero risk of jail(they of course keep 100% if they are not caught). (I could write an entire book, I imagine, with respect to the stunningly corrupt things I witnessed or heard of going on in Athens. But to summarize my general thoughts re Athens – it is the biggest shithole I have ever visited. I avoid third-world shitholes, but Athens surely must not be much better.)

The political corruption of these nations is spectacular. There will never be a resurrection in the fortunes of these nations until it is addressed.

Fifthly, and perhaps most tellingly, there are far, far too many people in these nations. Athens, as an example, has 5 million people. In the heyday when the Acropolis was built, Athens had 20,000 people. The current 5 million could not today accomplish what the 20,000 did 3000 years ago. And the greater percentage of the populations of these nations are unproductive. There are too few supporting too many. I cannot visualize a way forward, given the shear numbers of people, and given there is no common culture within the nations themselves.

I could go through my trip, place by place, but will spare you a long list of dark tales. One place that I will mention is Monaco. Not because Monaco was any place that is worth visiting, as I do not believe that, and do not recommend it. It is worth mentioning because of the fact it is a tax haven, and has no income tax. Wealthy flee there as a result, and it is not difficult to understand. If a person has say perhaps tens of millions, say $50 million for this discussion (and there are a great many people that wealthy), and assuming a 5% return, that would give them an income of $2.5 million a year. In many places, the tax rate is perhaps 50%. By moving to Monaco, they can save $1.25 million a year in tax – almost $3500 a day in tax savings. It is not hard to see why the wealthy flock to places like Monaco, Singapore, etc. as their primary place of residence. Monaco exits only because of the tax regimes of other nations.

To summarize, I see no way forward for the world, at this time. There are too many people, too stupid, doing too little, reliant on too few, with too many that are corrupt, with no unique national cultures remaining to draw people together. It cannot end well, and I suspect that it cannot be reversed without an economic collapse perhaps unprecedented in world history, perhaps accompanied by a collapse of the human population. I hope the latter can be avoided, but have no hope that the general economic destruction will be.

I know this is a rambling piece without cohesion. It is a hodgepodge of bits and pieces that have been floating around my mind these last few weeks, and it is certainly reflective of my dark mood. I was unable to formulate a proper outline, and so this went where the keyboard took me, in an effort to produce something, in response to Admin indicating that he perhaps could use a bit of help.



James Quinn has held financial positions with a retailer, homebuilder and university in his 29 year career. Those positions included treasurer, controller, and head of strategic planning. He is married with three boys and is writing these articles because he cares about their future. He earned a BS in accounting from Drexel University and an MBA from Villanova University. He is a certified public accountant and a certified cash manager. These articles reflect the personal views of James Quinn. They do not necessarily represent the views of his employer, and are not sponsored or endorsed by his employer.

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