Monday, June 06, 2005

It's A Small World

One metaphor of that concept concerns a butterfly. If a butterfly in the rain forest flaps its wings, the ultimate result of that slight movement of air will be a typhoon in the Pacific. Many Americans have a different concept of ‘it’s a small world’. The world is bordered by Canada to the north, Mexico to the south, and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans to the east and west. There is, however, a new metaphor that might expand America’s world view: If a Polish plumber in Warsaw lifts his wrench, the ultimate result of that slight movement of air will be to blow billions of US dollars into a bottomless pit.

On 29 May, the French voted non to the EU Constitution. One of their gripes was based on the fear that European labour markets would open up and ‘Pavel, the Polish Plumber’ would arrive. The French word for ‘job’ translates as: ‘a welfare programme run by a private company’. Here comes Pavel, willing to work a full day, getting his hands dirty, settling for a reasonable wage, and actually getting the pissoir flushing again. The French stared into the pissoir and said ‘merde!’ Emboldened by the French, the Dutch quickly followed suit and, in spite of EU burocrats protesting that the constitution is only in a permanent vegetative state, it looks like it will get flushed - if the pissoir ever gets fixed.

Meanwhile, Tony Blair is having second thoughts on what he will leave as his legacy after almost a decade as Prime Minster of the UK. The original plan was to ‘put the United Kingdom at the heart of Europe’. There were two parts to this dream: adopt the Euro as the UK’s currency; and win a referendum on the EU Constitution. As to part one, suddenly the Euro is not even very popular in the countries that use it. There is even talk of ‘temporarily abandoning it’ in Italy. (Gutenberg may have invented printing, but the Italian treasury perfected the process when they were in the business of producing liras. If the lira makes a comeback, the EU rules that limit working hours will be waived for the guys down in the print room.) As to part two of the plan, winning a referendum on a dead Constitution is like winning 9th place in an 8 horse race at Ascot. Thanks to Pavel, Tony’s Legacy: Version 1 looks to be the next item to hit the porcelain reservoir.

Luckily for Tony, he has another legacy up his sleeve and this is where the Yanks come in. If he can’t put the UK at the heart of Europe, he might be able to put the UK at the heart of Africa. (Anyone who has ever waited in the ‘all other passports’ queue at London’s Heathrow Terminal 3 can be forgiven for thinking that Africa has already been put at the heart of the UK). Talk about a legacy! How about wiping out third world debt, eradicating aids and malaria, getting rid of poverty, settling civil wars, educating millions, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, curing the lame, giving sight to the blind…raising the dead! Damn the cost; go for Legacy: Version 2.

Tony is coming to see George to talk about the Special Relationship and to get a major contribution to the Legacy Fund. That should not be a problem since the US has apparently outsourced printing money to the Italians. The US Treasury will never miss another 1 or 5 or 10 billion.

So America, if a tornado hits the Red River Valley, blame that lousy butterfly. And if the US national debt takes another hit, don’t blame George or Tony; blame Pavel. It is indeed a small world.


Blogger birdwoman said...

daggone it, now that rotten song is in my head. Even Scar the Lion hated that song.

And, hey, the Italians got Nothing on the Japanese. What's the Yen to Dollar conversion these days?

ps an Onion writer = writer for the Onion. But I like the tears to the eye comment, too.

9:20 AM  
Blogger Africanuck said...

As usual, right on the mark. It is probably no coincidence that shortly after "losing" their 35 hour work week, because they finally realized that companies would just delocalize to elsewhere in the EU, the French voted no.

Well, that and that the Constitution was written by Giscard d'Estaing, who probably snuck a clause in there making him President for Life.

9:31 AM  
Blogger OT said...

'Small world' is an homage to coincidence, not geography. What you describe is Chaos Theory, where two seemingly random events are related for no good reason.

11:39 AM  
Blogger Homo Insapiens said...

Hi Birdwoman...the yen is about 100-110 to the $. If Italy gets back to form you are looking at 1500-2000 to the $. Not likely but it would be exciting!

Dear Africanuck...knowing Giscard, it's not President for Life - it's President Forever

Todd - thanks for stopping by and for your comment. You are absolutely right about the butterfly and chaos theory. Given the chaos on the EU at the moment, I thought I might stretch it a bit...but I stand corrected. Regards.

4:22 PM  
Blogger Whymrhymer said...

Super post! Quite a whirl-wind tour of Europe -- I think I have blog-lag!

For whatever reasons the EU routine is being rejected, I think its a good thing -- I don't know that much about it but it seems like a bad idea to have all hose bumbling idiots (no offense to anyone of European extraction -- that's just hyperbole ala Whymrhymer) under one flag.

9:07 PM  
Blogger Abby Taylor said...

The EU can have the US Constitution since we're not needing to use it as much anymore.

As always, nice post.

12:13 AM  

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