Saturday, July 31, 2010

Mika - Orange Summer Party

Last week I saw Mika live at Orange Summer Party 2010 on a beach in Mamaia. Mika has a very good voice and I actually bought his first LP after liking the first three released songs, but I didn't imagine he is also such a show man. The concert was great, he connected all the time with the public and he also spoke a lot in Romanian. See below Rain live in Mamaia 2010:

Monday, July 19, 2010

What to tax and how to spend the public funds

Since the crisis is still here (now with the sovereign debt flavor) and nobody declared it unconstitutional yet, Romanians discovered a new domain where everybody has an opinion after football and politics: the tax system and budget deficit. So here are my two cents on this issue.

The budget deficit can be reduced in two ways: by increasing the income, or by decreasing the spending. In order to have more income the state can either improve the collection rate of the existing taxes by simplifying the forms and cracking down on tax evasion (that could be hard given the corruption levels of the tax authorities)
or by increasing some taxes. Regarding taxes my preference is for a system that tax rather consumption then work. Since the whole human race's consumption levels is unsustainable on the long term, any measure that discourages this consumption is welcomed from my point of view. From taxation point of view this would be higher VAT, excises on energy products and other goods, property taxes (which are very low in Romania), road taxes, CO2 tax. It's true that I don't feel very affected by these types of taxes since I always enjoy starring at the ceiling and thinking of a math problem :) On the other hand, the taxes on work should be lowered so that people are encouraged to work (legally). Note that in Romania currently there are 4-4.5 millions of employees out of a working age (18-62) population of 10 millions people. Even if you take out maybe 2 millions migrant workers there are still 3.5 millions who are not formally working in this country!

Now, there are some opinions that whatever mix of taxes the government will choose the state will not be able to get more than 32% of GDP as budget income. In this case the only real option for getting a balanced budget is to cut the spending to 32% of GDP (currently they are at around 40%). That should lead to lay-offs in the public sector. Another source of economy would a more efficient public spending and procurement, but this is hard to do quickly given the level of corruption in this area.

As you can see the fight against corruption should always be a high priority because it affects both tax collection and public money spending. That is what is corruption all about in the end.

P.S. Enough economics, I'll end this post with a good Spanish restaurant where I ate a couple of nights ago: Alioli: paella, creme catalane and sangria were all good.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

More live music

I remember I was in the eight grade when I was asked by an older friend: are you a rapper, a rocker or a depecher (yes, Depeche Mode was a distinct category at that time). I didn't know what to answer at that time, but only a couple of months later (I was already in high school) a colleague gave me the tape with the brand new Metallica LP, Metallica 91. This was the start of my "rocker career". Metallica and Megadeth are on the harder part of the rock I listen, I usually don't listen the likes of Slayer and Sepultura. The big 4 concert from last week-end was nice, Metallica were really good and also the public was really engaged, singing along on most of their songs.
Here is a sample of live Metallica - Fade To Black:

But, that was not all, the week-end was closed with a performance at Bucharest National Opera, Turandot by Giacomo Puccini. The scenography was surprising, with rows of chairs like those of a stadium and the choir sitting all the time on those chairs, but I liked it. The performance was very good and I especially liked Irina Iordachescu, who was very expressive in Liu's role. Again, a sample, but with a different tenor :)