Competitive blogging for Europe

Smithpeter999 had previously written a reply to my blog post about the economics of blogging, where I asked people to send £5 or Euro 5, and finance my efforts through crowd-funding. I zapped Peter’s reply to my post by accident, so let me repeat it for you here.

Peter had said that he considered sending a fiver, but decided otherwise, as he did not want to worsen the Spanish current account deficit (as he lives in Spain).

I can only say in response that he could have sent the money to my UK account, as the UK current account deficit is much worse than the Spanish. As a non-European (I do not know what nationality Peter is) he should not have taken sides which European country has a worse or better current account deficit, but tried to balance the worst situation possible, and that is the UK now.

He then suggested if I was short of fivers I should, when I mow my lawn (which my wife said needed cutting), offer to do the same for the neighbours and ask them to pay me £5 instead.

In theory that is a good suggestion, however, I have the following problem. If I take a job, even at the minimum wage in Britain I will earn about £50 a day. Now, I do not have 10 neighbours to cut the lawn, I only have two. So the maximum I could earn is £10.

Even if I offer to cut the grass in the whole street, I doubt that 10 of the people in my street would want their grass cut EVERY DAY, which I would have to do, if I were to be able to earn £50 a day!

Now, the “crowd-funding appeal” post was about blogging, not gardening, and what are the economics of that? I get about 50 to 300 clicks on my blog per day. Let us call the average 100, to make it easier. That is about 35,000 clicks a year. That is if I keep the work-rate up, because people will only come to your blog if you have something interesting to say.

To be able to earn the minimum wage per year (about £12,500) every click should cost the person visiting my website about 30 pence. So I could install some kind of pay-wall, visitors are only allowed to read my stuff, if they pay 30 pence of 40 Euro cent for each click. I do not know of a system where such micro payments would work, but even if it were technically possible, I know what would happen: I would get nobody reading my stuff any more.

The work I have put in the blog posts, though, is analytical work which I know, if offered elsewhere, (banks/management consultancy/IT) would pay at least 3-4 times the minimum wage. Surely somebody should recognise the value of that, and the fact that they would improve the Greek crisis.

So the only thing to do, is to apply to reason and crowd-funding (charity), if people think the work is good enough, they should donate, as they donate to other charities.

The problem though then is, that people think, hey, this is not a charity case, the guy can, if he wanted to, cut lawns, or if he is smart enough, as he obviously is, get a proper job in an office!

So the appeal to crowd funding will fail, as it did with my appeal here: Nobody donated a cent or a penny! I just checked my bank accounts.

Ultimately the only way this kind of work for the public interest can get funded is by the government, or voluntary organisations which have a lot of money to spend on grants, through endowments. As Richard Murphy does with his Tax Resarch UK website. That also makes sense, as the benefit of the proposals which I have, will ultimately benefit the government, all European governments, in fact (All proposal in my website have the aim: Greece is being helped to pay money back to other European countries.)

So maybe, there should be a Juncker Fund for websites, funding blogs and good ideas on how to get out of this European mess. The best proposal should then be submitted to a vote of the European electorate.

The problem with the current suggestions for Europe is are that they are simply based on the thinking of the political elite, no competition. Competition improves economic outcomes, and there should be competitive proposals to change the governance of Europe.

Varoufakis had such an idea, with “A Modest Proposal”, which you can find on his website. Just as an example. Now the current elite in Europe do not like Varoufakis’ ideas, but what do the people think, why do we not ask them? Why can the Europeans not be like the Swiss, who have direct democracy and can vote on proposals for government? Why can we in Europe not vote on it? A public vote on the TTIP proposals, for example, I wonder what the result be of that?

There must be others with good ideas, to leave strategic thinking about the future of Europe to a 72 year old German finance minister, just because Germany is the most powerful country in Europe, is frankly crazy. Where else do we follow 72 year olds in their thinking?

It is not very democratic, so why do we not use the web more to further democratic ideas, and alternative proposals?

And use it to vote on them, as well. Again, competition will always improve economic outcomes, and it would here as well.


2 thoughts on “Competitive blogging for Europe

  1. Dear Matt,
    I have read your response to my proposal, and quite frankly I am a little taken aback. What you suggest sounds like something a chap called Varoufakis tried do a while back and, if my memory serves me well, it didn’t work then either. In fact, you have made the same mistake that Varoufakis made and filled your counter-proposal with complicated economic ideas. I am having difficulty trying to understand what it is that you are getting at.

    What you seem to fail to understand is that I cannot just give out money left, right and centre. My stakeholders (wife, children, dog, bank manager, etc) will just never give me the green light to do this sort of thing. Nevertheless, just to show you that we are not all totally heartless here in Europe, I have put together another extremely attractive package for you to consider.

    Let us rather refer to the fiver as a loan. In fact, it will probably have to be a couple of fivers because from the sob story that you present, it seems that a fiver is not going to go very far. In return, I am going to request that you to send over the ownership papers of your motorbike (and maybe a few other things as well) that we will place in a safe in, lets say, somewhere neutral like in Luxembourg. This will stand as collateral for the loan I am going to give to you. Based on your less that optimistic view of your earning opportunities over there (are you sure you are not Greek?), I am doubtful that you will ever be able to repay the loan. In that case, I will flog the motorbike and consider the proceeds as satisfactory repayment (PS – when the guy comes to pick it up, please do not give him a hard time, after all, a deal is a deal!). I think you will agree that my solution is much better than yours and, anyway, if you are as desperate as you claim, then you have no choice.

    The one problem I have with my plan is that I ran it by a guy I bumped into in the pub yesterday, called Joe Stiglitz. He tells me that some Eurozone countries tried a similar thing to this a while back and it did not work out very well. This revelation really ruined my day because, a few days ago, I sent away my final case study for my mail-order Economics degree. My case study was titled “Austerity leads to Prosperity”. It is a factual study and is based on true events. It has just been returned to me with a note from the College. The professor says that he has never read such a load of rubbish in his life. What I described has not and would never happen in reality. He suggests that I drop economics and try something else like blogging. After I get over my disappointment, I will investigate his suggestion. Anyway, back to the deal that we are discussing.

    One last thing. Please do not discuss any of this with your wife & kids or try to get their opinion. I know that you promised your son the motorbike on his eighteenth birthday and I can guess what he will think of this plan. It is better that we just keep the details of this to ourselves. Once everything is signed and sealed, your family will just have to accept that the world is not a perfect place and that sometimes we have to hurt to heal.

    Best regards
    President, IberiaGroup


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