As you can imagine, twenty cent coins in Europe abound. Even in the areas that are not officially the Eurozone, where the Euro is the official currency, twenty cent coins can be found. They can be found in Africa, too, because the Francophone areas of Africa lent towards the Euro as a sub-denomination instead of the dollar (as was the case when the Zimbabwean dollar fell to pieces).
Twenty cent coins aren’t anything special, then. So, when in my local supermarket the cashier handed me one, it should have dropped into my purse unnoticed. Only this one was shiny, a blikvanger as they say in Dutch, it was eye-catching. It interested me because here in Holland, any new coin usually means one of the newly minted Dutch coins with the head of the new king, Willem Alexander. He’s been maltreated by having his head divided to tell us who he is, but I doubt if it would make any difference to him. After all, he’s Dutch, and whilst a nice enough guy and all that, I’m pretty sure he’s as dim as the rest of them.
Britain is, and always will be a very odd place to live for anyone who is used to the way Europeans live. Storms in the English channel that stop the ferries running between Dover and Calais are always headlined as “Continent Cut Off”. The British point of view is nothing if not eccentric. Britain, that small island just off the northern coast of Europe, is something of an afterthought in the mind of the average European.
Now I have lived in Europe for the better part of my life, and if there is one thing that has been consistent to any of the countries I lived in – Denmark, Germany and latterly, the Netherlands – it is the lack of understanding about Britain’s place in Europe. Here in Europe, it is necessary to register one’s place of abode, and on no few occasions, that is to say, in each case of registering, I had been asked to show that I, as a Briton, had the correct papers to allow me to live and work in their country.
I pleaded that Britain was a member of the European Union.
Britain has a healthy economy, and it has a healthy economy because the economic figures are healthy. It’s how Britain – and the British – do business. We all do it, we all look to the paperwork: we all look to the figures at some point in the reckoning. Even when buying a bar of chocolate there’s the evaluation of quality over price; and that goes for Aldi too, who have various kinds of chocolate for the unwilling spender.
Britain, however, is a very different place than Europe. It’s as if there’s a real divide between the European economies and Britain in as real a way as there are twenty miles of seawater between them. There are few enough Europeans who understand the British mind – and an economy is the result of a cultural mindset. The British, for all their intelligence, are stumped when it comes to European minds and the economies they create. And the Americans are even worse because they’re so deluded as to think what’s right for them is right for everybody.
Well, it’s been all over the news. The inferno that engulfed a tower block was on the front pages from Bild Zeitung to The Times Of India. I’ve read several interesting posts regarding this incident and one brought me a snippet of news that really made me realize what a parlous state the British economy is in today.
Bill40 spoke of how the costs saved on the renovation job was £5,000. And he put this in bold numbers because the sum was so tiny. I know five grand is a lot to many people, but in terms of building, it’s the equivalent of one euro cent. That is to say, you can’t buy anything with that kind of money.
Not in building renovation, at least. The scaffolding for that job would have cost in excess of £30,000. Five grand is peanuts.
When I was still active on Linkedin, I quickly learned not to use the term ‘80/20’ because too many people dismissed the thought simply because of the term. I’d always approach the problem from the direction of the issue at hand – which, since I was a marketer in those days, usually involved business communications of one form or another. And business communication means making money; a business isn’t there to lose money – and there are all too many who, in the words of Perry Marshall, “you’re taping a $20 bill to every parcel you send out.” We’ll return to that later.
In Rudolf Steiner’s lecture series ‘World Economy’ he speaks of those people who have no particular skill to offer the world. We live in a time when the manner in which humanity has evolved raises challenges to itself, and does so on account of widening perceptions. In and of itself, this brings people into situations that would never have been possible in the mediaeval cultures. This was a time when humans made everything they needed: and if you wanted a purple edging for your toga, you had to spend a substantial amount of money to obtain it. The edging might cost three to five times what the rest of the garment cost.
There is something about a German car that the Americans love. The Americans love Japanese cars too, but somehow the larger Japanese cars simply don’t have the panache of a Mercedes Benz 500 series sedan. In well heeled suburbs, there will be a Merc parked in every driveway with the only difference being the colour of the individual status symbol.