The economic engine of Europe was constructed around the efficient use of the most economical energy available. The Middle Ages produced the first true “industrial revolution” when water and wind power allowed a dramatic increase in the amount of non-human and non-animal energy available to society.
The Group of 20 meeting in Mexico City over the weekend decided that the best course of action was inaction, putting off making any decisions on how to “rescue” the European Union from its financial and economic difficulties until next month at the earliest. The statement justifying kicking the can down the road for another month or so was breathtaking in its obfuscation: putting off any decisions, it said, “will provide an essential input in our ongoing consideration to mobilize resources…” This is how finance ministers and world economic experts explain that, after two days of meetings, the best thing to do was nothing at all.
The British government has tried to raise tax revenues by raising tax rates on the highest income Britons. The January 2012 self-assessed tax returns were anticipated to provide more revenue because it was the first reporting period of the new, highest 50% tax rate for the highest earners. The Treasury, however, has reported that instead of tax revenues rising during that reporting period, revenues actually dropped from £10.86 billion in January 2011 to £10.35 billion in January 2012.
It seems the U.S. government is not the only one sporting a Big Brother demeanor. The British government is now revisiting previously considered plans to create databases that would enable spy agencies to monitor emails, phone calls, and text messages as well as websites visited by everyone in the United Kingdom.
Entitled the Communications Capabilities Development Programme (CCDP), the scheme would be set up under anti-terrorism laws, in much the same way the PATRIOT Act functions in the United States. UK officials contend that its goal is to closely monitor suspects before the 2012 London Olympics in July.