Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Euro

This past Saturday I began a new adventure.  I attended the first session in my first attempt at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, under the auspices of the University of Kentucky.  The choices of experiences, intended to encourage continuing education among seniors, is breathtaking.  I almost didn't know where to start, but through a combination of inclination plus opportunity I came to sign up for two offerings:  The Great Decisions discussion program promulgated by the Foreign Policy Association, replicated countrywide, and a local topic, Italian Verismo and the Opera of Giacomo Puccini.

It was the Great Decisions program that I have already begun, and about which I will share some thoughts here with you.  The Verismo course starts this Thursday and there is a chance that it may inspire a few reports as well.

First, the Great Decisions group will meet 8 times and watch, then discuss, 8 videos on various topics.  This past week the topic was about the future of the Euro, and by extension, the European Union.  Here are some of my observations on the event and on the topic.
  • No shortage of enthusiasm for lifelong learning is apparent.  This group of a dozen or so shows a keen intellect and impressive resumes, academic, professional, experiential and avocational.
  • I do see, however, a tendency to relate through indoctrinations rather than analysis.
  • One of the problems is that there is not much time to get beyond the shallow end.
  • On the other hand, we have not been blighted with the presence of any "experts" in monetary policy.  It is to be hoped that this blessing will continue into other discussion topics.
  • International financiers are hammers, therefor all problems look like banking and public administration nails.
  • The presentation and the subsequent discussion seemed to beg a critical question -- are the travails of the Euro, or any currency for that matter, solely in the wheelhouses of bankers and politicians.
  • Not once was there a question as to whether the state is where a solution lies.
  • The only inquiries I heard were concerning the immediacy of upping the level of central planning in the long term vs. imposing sink or swim expectations on the little guys (Greece, Spain, Ireland, Portugal, and Italy) in the short term.  Have these people not been watching the USA, UK, and the Russias?  And we all know in advance that none will be allowed to sink.  Bailouts, anyone?
  • There is an interesting parallel between the Delphi Technique that the movers and shakers present in this case, compared to the sort of false dilemma claimed as the reason for replacing our Articles of Confederation with the Constitution.
I am particularly looking forward to weeks when we will discuss Syria and Egypt

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