Skip to main content

Zero Sum Game

The government of the Russian Federation continues to act as though there is no such thing as a win-win solution. The country continues to through its weight around in almost every sphere: the seizure of Georgian mineral water (see link) is just the latest in a series of heavy handed restrictions on trade with countries that the regime in Moscow doesn't like. Essentially Russia continues to believe that if someone wins in a negotiation with Moscow, then by definition the Russians must have lost. Economics has become a continuance of politics, or even war, by financial means.

This one eyed view in Moscow has led to some extraordinary situations. For example the gold collar of office of the pre-war President of Estonia remains in the Kremlin, despite the fact that the Russian Federation can have no earthly claim over it. Russia therefore still retains the treasures that their Soviet predecessors looted from other countries- whether these are jewels or, for example, the library of the University of Tartu.

The Russian company, Gazprom, is seeking greater access to the European market, and as a supporter of free trade, I do not disagree that ultimately they should have this. However, the Russians should understand that unless they learn better manners, they will continue to be mistrusted. The fact that yet another newspaper, this time Komsomolskaya Pravda, has been taken over by Gazprom in order to serve the Kremlin only adds to the growing body of evidence that Russia has abandoned democracy for the time being. It also underlines the fact that Gazprom, already the largest company in the world, is de facto an organ of the Russian State. Therefore, the discussions taking place between British Gas and Gazprom should be seen in a rather critical light. Personally, I believe that the fact that Russia continues to use Gazprom and UES, the giant power utility, as functionaries of the state should render them ineligible to invest in the European Union, at least until sufficient restructuring has taken place that allows Russian entry into the WTO. Since Russians continue to believe that economics is a zero-sum game, then perhaps we should make sure that every point of contact is now a matter for negotiation- only then may the Russians begin to understand that they must adapt a more liberal approach in business affairs as well as in international politics.

The alternative for a declining West may be that our corporate treasures end up in the Kremlin, together with all the other things that have been stolen in previous generations.


Popular posts from this blog

Post Truth and Justice

The past decade has seen the rise of so-called "post truth" politics.  Instead of mere misrepresentation of facts to serve an argument, political figures began to put forward arguments which denied easily provable facts, and then blustered and browbeat those who pointed out the lie.  The political class was able to get away with "post truth" positions because the infrastructure that reported their activity has been suborned directly into the process. In short, the media abandoned long-cherished traditions of objectivity and began a slow slide into undeclared bias and partisanship.  The "fourth estate" was always a key piece of how democratic societies worked, since the press, and later the broadcast media could shape opinion by the way they reported on the political process. As a result there has never been a golden age of objective media, but nevertheless individual reporters acquired better or worse reputations for the quality of their reporting and

We need to talk about UK corruption

After a long hiatus, mostly to do with indolence and partly to do with the general election campaign, I feel compelled to take up the metaphorical pen and make a few comments on where I see the situation of the UK in the aftermath of the "Brexit election". OK, so we lost.  We can blame many reasons, though fundamentally the Conservatives refused to make the mistakes of 2017 and Labour and especially the Liberal Democrats made every mistake that could be made.  Indeed the biggest mistake of all was allowing Johnson to hold the election at all, when another six months would probably have eaten the Conservative Party alive.  It was Jo Swinson's first, but perhaps most critical, mistake to make, and from it came all the others.  The flow of defectors and money persuaded the Liberal Democrat bunker that an election could only be better for the Lib Dems, and as far as votes were concerned, the party did indeed increase its vote by 1.3 million.   BUT, and it really is the bi

Media misdirection

In the small print of the UK budget we find that the Chancellor of the Exchequer (the British Finance Minister) has allocated a further 15 billion Pounds to the funding for the UK track and trace system. This means that the cost of the UK´s track and trace system is now 37 billion Pounds.  That is approximately €43 billion or US$51 billion, which is to say that it is amount of money greater than the national GDP of over 110 countries, or if you prefer, it is roughly the same number as the combined GDP of the 34 smallest economies of the planet.  As at December 2020, 70% of the contracts for the track and trace system were awarded by the Conservative government without a competitive tender being made . The program is overseen by Dido Harding , who is not only a Conservative Life Peer, but the wife of a Conservative MP, John Penrose, and a contemporary of David Cameron and Boris Johnson at Oxford. Many of these untendered contracts have been given to companies that seem to have no notewo