The Three Ps – Pizza, Presidents, and Protests (In Memory of Andy Rooney)

Pizzas is the first “p” I would like to discuss in this post. We all know pizza came originally from Italy and was perfected in Connecticut. Recently, Colony Grill Pizza and Rocco’s pizza of Stamford, CT had a court fight over the recipe of the Colony Grill Pizza. In brief, Colony Grill Pizza fired one of its chefs and he started working for the new Rocco’s pizza. Colony Grill saw a similarity of its pizza to that of Rocco’s and filed a law suit against Rocco’s.

I decided not to visit either of these two joints so as not to sponsor their court interludes over their secret ingredients and ever since have been making pizza with dough, mozzarella, marinara, canadian bacon, and spinach all of which I buy from Trader’s Joe. My pizza is certainly giving Colony Grill a run for their money.

The next “p” is presidents. In the next presidential election which is around the corner over $2.5 billion will be spent on campaigning and all of the candidates so far, including Obama, who will most likely win, are quite unsubstantial. The GOP has a handful of candidates of which Romney seems the likeliest winner. Mitt Romney is one of the founders of the consulting firm Bain and later Bain Capital.

The investment firm Bain Capital was started in an unusual way. The consulting firm would offer ways to the firms it was advising to fix themselves and if the firm refused, Bain Capital would step in and take them private and implement the changes Bain Consulting was suggesting. Clearly, they believed what they were preaching. Mitt Romney undoubtedly has the most business and executive experience but it will be difficult to run a country the way Wall Street is run.

The third and final “p” is protests. We have recently witnessed protests from the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and the U.S. The protests in the Middle East and Africa caused governments to fall and dictators replaced by democracy.

In the case of the U.S., the protests have been unfounded. While there is certainly distress in the world, I think that the U.S. is not the right country to protest. While there are clear mistakes done in dealing with the financial crises and Wall Street greed, there are better ways to improve ones situation than to spend your days protesting, given that the U.S. is still one of the countries that has the most opportunities. One way to do that is to run for an office or to become a leader on Wall Street and cause a change from within, as Dalai Lama teaches.

The protests in Europe and particularly in Greece are also unfounded. Most Greeks work in the public sector which pays much more than the private sector and has better benefits. The menial private jobs are done by immigrants (Greece has one of the largest proportion of immigrant laborers). At the same time Greece has an above average social net in the EU. The EU, which is an economic and social union, boasts a very high inequality among its members in basic services such as social security, retirement, and health care spending. While there is a disparity among the states of the U.S., here we have a bare minimum which is almost the same for everyone such as medicare, social security, minimum wages. In Europe, there is no such level playing field and, while the Greeks, are certainly experiencing hardship, they are far from the worst nation in the EU as shown in the table below.

The above three “p” will have a big impact in the coming months. Protests and presidents come and go but pizza is always tasty.

Table 1: Public Pensions per Person in the EU (source: Eurostat)

Pensions [spr_exp_pens]
Euro per inhabitant (at constant 2000 prices)
Source of Data Eurostat
GEO/TIME 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
European Union (27 countries) n/a n/a 2,514.62 2,544.87 2,496.72 2,633.06
European Union (25 countries) 2,602.71 2,634.85 2,665.81 2,694.91 2,640.68 2,779.35
European Union (15 countries) 2,985.33 3,017.99 3,050.10 3,075.27 3,008.88 3,171.12
Euro area (16 countries) 2,830.15 2,854.62 2,873.23 2,892.96 2,919.28 2,944.15
Euro area (15 countries) 2,874.99 2,898.68 2,916.48 2,935.41 2,962.81 2,989.03
Euro area (13 countries) 2,881.77 2,905.59 2,923.34 2,942.27 2,969.69 2,995.80
Euro area (12 countries) 2,891.91 2,915.76 2,933.45 2,952.07 2,979.41 3,005.30
Belgium 2,881.51 2,919.72 2,943.64 2,948.25 2,902.79 3,042.88
Bulgaria n/a n/a 185.44 199.07 201.72 222.96
Czech Republic n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Denmark 3,695.39 3,771.74 3,882.77 3,892.32 3,989.48 4,087.21
Germany (including former GDR from 1991) 3,371.13 3,378.16 3,348.29 3,336.36 3,313.25 3,307.68
Estonia n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Ireland n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Greece n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Spain n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 1,699.19
France 3,195.41 3,246.71 3,320.45 3,379.74 3,459.08 3,515.22
Italy 3,139.87 3,144.88 3,153.42 3,154.06 3,180.85 3,176.17
Cyprus n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Latvia n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Lithuania n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Luxembourg 5,515.81 5,523.08 5,649.54 5,488.08 5,573.04 5,639.97
Hungary n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Malta n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Netherlands 3,413.73 3,470.58 3,476.26 3,503.96 3,568.60 3,637.69
Austria 3,896.96 3,901.10 3,877.88 3,936.00 3,989.86 4,088.34
Poland n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Portugal 1,428.09 1,508.25 1,558.44 1,608.86 1,642.31 1,702.12
Romania 77.20 82.10 101.00 115.11 150.38 181.02
Slovenia 1,142.35 1,142.06 1,158.22 1,210.94 1,222.83 1,233.70
Slovakia n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Finland 3,019.07 3,114.07 3,186.12 3,271.51 3,347.87 3,342.71
Sweden 3,599.76 3,705.44 n/a n/a n/a n/a
United Kingdom 2,789.53 2,913.39 2,983.32 3,054.21 2,457.61 2,777.34
Iceland n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Norway 3,530.30 3,529.03 3,858.65 3,970.85 4,190.39 4,218.82
Switzerland n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a

Table 2: Healthcare expenditures in the EU

Expenditure of providers of health care by financing agents in health care, per inhabitant [hlth_sha3h]
Source of Data Eurostat
UNIT Euro per inhabitant
ICHA_HP All providers of health care
ICHA_HF All financing agents
GEO/TIME 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Belgium 2,666.87 2,835.47 2,906.94 2,896.28 3,045.59 3,245.03 3,416.43
Bulgaria 173.00 186.80 214.01 232.32 260.93 306.97 n/a
Czech Republic 566.68 600.22 683.42 747.77 805.13 984.15 1,043.81
Denmark 3,115.17 3,287.84 3,472.52 3,705.56 3,984.91 4,183.16 4,469.84
Germany (including former GDR from 1991) 2,734.66 2,733.44 2,804.92 2,881.14 2,985.27 3,108.00 3,280.68
Estonia 319.15 366.41 414.64 494.99 608.89 703.01 695.19
Spain 1,475.00 1,569.30 1,680.49 1,797.56 1,917.24 2,066.51 2,122.30
France 2,722.43 2,840.09 2,955.29 3,052.97 3,181.00 3,276.49 3,388.81
Cyprus 1,003.10 1,017.75 1,072.88 1,144.54 1,194.38 1,268.55 n/a
Latvia n/a n/a 349.66 432.90 574.77 604.58 n/a
Lithuania n/a 292.28 347.05 414.17 495.40 612.16 593.20
Luxembourg 4,042.24 4,480.06 4,638.12 4,799.46 5,087.29 4,981.55 n/a
Hungary 589.70 630.69 709.42 699.66 722.47 746.01 675.10
Netherlands 2,640.94 2,742.07 2,842.03 2,950.60 3,097.40 3,279.28 3,861.65
Austria n/a 2,819.90 2,910.51 3,029.62 3,182.85 3,326.19 n/a
Poland 300.07 316.81 374.62 417.63 491.47 623.13 559.56
Portugal 1,260.39 1,348.57 1,432.35 1,427.53 1,493.03 1,540.11 n/a
Romania 126.26 152.57 202.42 228.56 297.74 342.52 306.43
Slovenia 1,019.41 1,081.28 1,151.30 1,204.53 1,275.52 1,455.59 1,506.06
Slovakia n/a n/a 617.48 716.18 839.95 943.68 998.18
Finland 2,168.46 2,286.51 2,414.93 2,491.07 2,595.51 2,758.33 2,778.51
Sweden 2,774.64 2,826.32 2,874.45 3,011.78 3,155.07 3,180.74 2,998.96
Iceland 3,482.31 3,611.11 4,172.46 4,001.65 4,357.19 2,961.89 2,624.49
Norway 4,086.94 4,092.40 4,475.81 4,675.89 5,012.04 n/a n/a
Switzerland 4,416.31 4,471.18 4,519.63 4,483.15 4,451.30 4,814.97 5,215.64
Canada 2,254.08 2,328.08 2,631.17 2,953.37 3,029.48 3,037.78 n/a
United States 5,027.24 4,843.37 5,115.54 5,356.00 5,145.27 4,973.58 5,426.40
Japan 2,315.26 2,291.01 2,304.22 2,184.94 2,017.99 2,171.89 n/a
South Korea 580.93 600.64 755.14 895.21 933.17 797.32 795.35
Australia 1,954.70 2,183.85 2,374.33 2,493.82 2,733.82 2,744.42 n/a
New Zealand n/a 1,642.18 1,897.60 1,884.24 2,029.69 1,988.86 2,012.20

Table 3: Social expenditures in the EU

Expendituren/a main results [spr_exp_sum]
Source of Data Eurostat
UNIT
Euro per inhabitant
GEO/TIME 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
European Union (27 countries) n/a n/a 6,083.91 6,300.59 6,426.35 6,683.31
European Union (25 countries) 5,980.62 6,210.77 6,439.30 6,662.40 6,782.52 7,043.92
European Union (15 countries) 6,897.20 7,154.60 7,386.39 7,620.75 7,727.07 7,979.92
Euro area (16 countries) 6,563.57 6,763.24 6,975.28 7,180.80 7,406.30 7,736.55
Euro area (15 countries) 6,659.00 6,860.16 7,073.72 7,279.37 7,503.48 7,834.17
Euro area (13 countries) 6,673.43 6,875.12 7,089.02 7,294.89 7,519.37 7,850.32
Euro area (12 countries) 6,696.69 6,898.81 7,113.12 7,318.93 7,543.97 7,875.09
Belgium 7,288.45 7,661.18 7,910.14 8,175.81 8,457.33 9,094.50
Bulgaria n/a n/a 453.67 488.72 568.40 719.75
Czech Republic 1,604.34 1,674.46 1,877.66 2,072.77 2,303.25 2,669.17
Denmark 10,799.67 11,200.54 11,570.17 11,763.71 11,982.49 12,595.94
Germany (including former GDR from 1991) 7,998.79 8,006.05 8,098.98 8,118.46 8,202.91 8,425.29
Estonia 807.77 932.82 1,043.01 1,208.61 1,450.33 1,808.57
Ireland 6,234.47 6,618.99 7,053.18 7,636.96 8,177.90 8,963.35
Greece 3,671.07 3,955.64 4,320.38 4,631.56 4,936.92 5,446.10
Spain 3,782.40 4,007.23 4,310.37 4,579.65 4,855.21 5,284.03
France 7,941.66 8,308.05 8,596.56 8,752.05 9,052.97 9,338.44
Italy 5,982.57 6,216.31 6,433.87 6,714.15 6,961.01 7,286.16
Cyprus 2,974.53 3,089.89 3,293.18 3,518.96 3,685.75 4,000.13
Latvia 598.83 636.61 719.56 886.82 1,041.87 1,283.04
Lithuania 648.10 710.19 812.38 948.96 1,225.81 1,553.52
Luxembourg 12,659.72 13,358.31 14,122.24 14,671.46 15,081.27 16,339.19
Hungary 1,556.01 1,688.48 1,927.10 1,998.89 2,243.35 2,406.12
Malta 2,035.52 2,103.98 2,193.70 2,289.61 2,403.81 2,616.88
Netherlands 8,307.40 8,550.29 8,764.47 9,519.95 9,879.56 10,295.40
Austria 8,151.07 8,354.34 8,560.99 8,846.26 9,165.89 9,637.46
Poland 1,054.44 1,074.71 1,262.21 1,382.19 1,480.53 1,768.00
Portugal 3,192.20 3,389.72 3,582.63 3,724.07 3,812.30 3,942.35
Romania 315.80 361.06 495.70 580.50 784.46 925.98
Slovenia 3,059.63 3,173.03 3,306.37 3,512.13 3,648.36 3,937.98
Slovakia 1,008.01 1,086.55 1,178.64 1,349.73 1,630.85 1,913.79
Finland 7,427.53 7,763.53 8,011.25 8,316.47 8,624.86 9,141.42
Sweden 10,035.40 10,236.42 10,288.08 10,639.94 10,791.55 10,669.31
United Kingdom 7,115.84 7,659.91 7,999.71 8,369.33 7,839.81 7,708.16
Iceland 7,705.07 8,265.76 9,575.19 9,302.35 10,268.69 7,132.25
Norway 11,869.48 11,738.07 12,526.96 13,015.66 13,768.63 14,402.56
Switzerland 11,440.28 11,601.18 11,786.38 11,661.53 11,486.26 11,832.45
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