Organic E coli

Organic cucumbers seem to be dangerous, particularly for Germans: an E coli epidemic has killed at least a dozen people.

To be safe, I would propose that they start irradiating their organic vegetables. That should provide us with some good entertainment.


Combining work and family life

We've been told time and time again that it is necessary to make it easier to combine work and family life at the time when people have small children. Having once had small children, I tend to agree. This is important for true gender equality. People should be able to work part time.

But most of the time, rhetoric goes that the evil forces of market economy should be tamed and regulated so that this is possible. This is a particularly popular view by people on the "progressive" or "left" side, such as red-greens - generally the people who favour "big government".

OK, now some people like doctors have actually been able to reach better arrangements for their lives. And immediately, there is a problem: part-time work agreements are threatening the public health services. "If our doctor is working only four days a week, how do we manage? Patients will not get the care they need" says an administrator.

How did we come to this deplorable problem situation? Via those evil market forces, of course. Private health care providers have been happy to agree to part time work, or show flexibility towards their employees. They then contract to do work for the public health system which is unable to hire - due to the inhumanly long working hours required. In order to avoid having too many workers to flee to work on the private side and come back via outsourcing deals, the public sector also has had to agree to part-time agreements and flexible arrangements. Now more of their employees do work in such amounts and at such times that they feel it is better for them. And with the immensely inflexible work culture of the public sector, this causes problems.

So what is the cure? Force the private sector employers to be less flexible towards their employees? Enforce a five-day working week for everyone on the private sector, so that they would not have a competitive advantage when trying to hire employees?

Somehow it seems to me that the red-greens want to both have the cake and eat it. Hey guys: you either allow people to work more flexible hours, or you don't. I think it is good that the market economy innovates and shows what is possible. The public sector then should be able to at least follow the leader.

On eating beef

Prince Charles is saying that Americans should consume less beef. Offhand, I cannot think of a better way to ensure that Americans - or anyone - will want to eat more meat.

If Prince Harry said something about it, the impact just might be a little less harmful for proponents of vegetarianism.

Myself, I appreciate vegetarian food; particularly second-order vegetarian (food made of things that have eaten vegetables).


Solution on the Portugal guarantees

 There's a fuss about the loan guarantees that eurozone countries are expected to give to Portugal. In Finland, this was a theme in the parliament election, and it seems that it will not be possible to form a cabinet, because parties have suddenly developed a spine and keeping their election promises, and thus they are not agreeing to givnig a carte blanche to loaning money to Portugal so that German and British banks wouldn't lose their investments.

Solution found! Portugal has the largest gold reserves in eurozone, worth 14 000 000 000 €. Let's agree that Finland guarantees Portugal's debts, for up to 14 G€, and an equivalent amount of the gold reserves are transferred to the Bank of Finland.

(Okay, it is a bit suspect, given that the formerly disastrous Erkki Liikanen is heading the bank, but let's assign a couple of thugs to guard him.)

Why couldn't you do this? If they need guarantees, and they have a large stock of gold, they can give the gold as guarantee. If they don't want to do it, they don't appear to need the money.