Posts Tagged ‘Bureaucracy’

Germany also has its “idiot” projects

October 17, 2013

Every country has its share of bizarre, wasteful and idiotic projects – usually paid for by the taxpayer. Most are just bungling though some are because certain politicians wish to favour a particular constituency or a particular contractor.

Bureaucrats in Germany are usually – from my limited experience – exceptionally rational. But Germany too has its share of “idiot” projects.  The “Black Book” is compiled by the German Taxpayer’s Alliance.

Some examples from The Local:

€435,000 was spent on building two bridges for field mice in In Bieberbach in the state of Baden-Württemberg. If the mice don’t use the bridge no-one can photo DPA

€435,000 was spent on building two bridges for field mice in Bieberbach. If the mice don’t use the bridge no-one can. photo DPA via The Local

  1. Two bridges for field mice in Biberach, Baden-Württemberg so that the animals can safely cross the road. The bridges alone cost around €435,000 and surveillance costs amounted to €35,000. They have not been built for human use.
  2. A memorial to the early years of Germany’s Autobahn built in a roadside lay-by in North Rhine-Westphalia. The remains of a concrete road bridge sat at the roadside of the A2 motorway but these had to be cleared for safety reasons. Rather than simply removing them, however, authorities built a memorial bridge from the remains one-and-a-half kilometres away in the lay-by. The bridge to nowhere cost €310,000 when removal would have cost €108,000. 
  3. Planners managed to spend €400,000 on a bicycle path which simply ended after 300 metres in the middle of nowhere.
  4. The German government also paid for a metal concert in China by the lesser-known German band “Drone”. Unfortunately “after the first few beats of the intro, it was clear that the Chinese were not into metal.”
  5. Costs of the Elbe Philharmonic Hall in Hamburg have risen from €77 million to €800 million.
  6. Berlin’s new airport, meanwhile, is costing €162,000 a month just to keep clean, while its opening is continuously delayed.
  7. An operating theatre in Düsseldorf’s university hospital cost €200 million but three years on it has still not been used due to inadequate fire safety precautions. A further €2 million has been spent on paying cleaning, heating and other bills for the as-yet unused ‘Operative Medicine II’ clinic.
  8.  Authorities in the town of Meschede in North Rhine-Westphalia when they left the heating on in their empty offices for eight years. Nobody turned the radiators off when the offices were emptied in November 2000, racking up a bill of €42,000 for the taxpayer. 

Cartels and Hypocrisy. But what happened to ethics?

June 24, 2010

Firms and private cartels get fined but when OPEC countries fix prices it’s OK and when the International Diamond Cartel operates it is found to be beneficial!!!

But ethics don’t get a mention.

EU fines bathroom cartel 622m euros

Seventeen bathroom equipment makers have been fined a total of 622m euros ($760; £510m) by the European Commission for price-fixing. The companies, including Ideal Standard of the US, which was fined 326m euros, formed a cartel for 12 years covering ceramics such as sinks, baths and taps.

The fines of five companies were reduced to a level they could afford. The Commission described the firms’ practices as “very serious infringements of the EU competition rules”.

However, it said its objective was not to force companies in difficulties out of business, and so reduced the fines on five companies. One, Masco of Italy, received full immunity as it was the first to provide information on the cartel.

Public cartels were also permitted in the United States during the Great Depression in the 1930s and continued to exist for some time after World War II in industries such as coal mining and oil production. Cartels have also played an extensive role in the German economy during the inter-war period. International commodity agreements covering products such as coffee, sugar, tin and more recently oil (OPEC) are examples of international cartels with publicly entailed agreements between different national governments.

Precautionary principle is fatally flawed

April 18, 2010

Finally as reported by the BBC the nonsensical bans on flights in Europe are being questioned.

“Europe’s air industry has called for an urgent review of flight bans imposed because of volcanic ash from Iceland………Airlines that have carried out test flights say planes showed no obvious damage after flying through the ash.”

The volcanic ash plume from Iceland, top left, to northern France, pictured by Nasa's Terra Satellite , 17 April

Photo: NEODAAS/University of Dundee/AP

Wherever the Precautionary Principle is used to justify restrictions on human activity it is because a political agenda is being served but common sense dictates otherwise. It is usually resorted to by polticians and bureaucrats who defend a process in the name of avoiding the “common bad” even if the results of the process are against the common good.

Big Brother in Europe is alive and well but it is time to put this pseudo-science to bed.

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