Mickey Malta

Notes from the zone where 'normal' things don't happen very often

Posts Tagged ‘Xenophobia

Arabs with shoes on

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National sport: a Rocker looking down on an Arab from his high horse

I really think that it’s ironic how Rockers tend to look down from their high horse on the Arab and Muslim world. Many Rockers regard both Arabs and Muslims as a bunch of people stuck in a time warp thousands of years away from  us. And they are right.

Now, for the record, I’m being generous here. Some Rockers can’t fathom the reality that there are many different cultures within the Arab world: that it’s not just one big country called Arabia. Worse still, many more don’t even regard them as humans at all.

The irony is that they fail to see the reality that our European cousins look at us in the same way we look at the Muslim/Arab world. The absence of divorce and our Quaker approach to abortion project a Neanderthal image in our cousins’ eyes. So the moral of the story is: before you start berating your cousins down south, keep in mind that we are to our cousins up north what the Muslims/Arabs are to us. An English friend of mine defines the Rockers as “Arabs with shoes on.”

These last few days I couldn’t help myself pointing out to those who were shocked and expressing their dismay at the Dubai incident that that this is a classical case of the pot calling the kettle black. It’s true that this incident an extreme case, but let’s not forget that the absence of civil rights and liberties here is equally shocking to countries that are more secular – and by consequence – more advanced: both economically and intellectually.

The common denominator between the two realities (us and them Arabs) is . . . . . surprise, surprise: Religion. I’m not going to go into how religions keep people backwards. I think that I made my case during lent, l and I don’t want to sound like a broken record.

Ironically, many Rockers jump at every opportunity to tell the Arabs how backwards they are whenever they interact with them. Yet, at the same time, these same people get all worked up and defensive whenever they are – rightly so – told that this Rock is still stuck in the 17th century. They retaliate by invoking foreign interference and by telling the foreigners to mind their own business.

I guess that some people are in a dire need of a reality check.

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Written by mickeymalta

07/04/2010 at 16:46

This God is an idiot

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As the saying goes: an idiot is a genius to another idiot

Imagine that life here on this earth is a small scale reflection of the cosmos. In the same way  that every village here on earth has an idiot – THE idiot – the big guys in the ever expanding universe must have their own idiots too.

If that is the case, then we’re unlucky to be born on THE planet that was created by the Gods’ village idiot. Yeah, that’s right. The God that’s venerated by billions of people on this little planet must be the village idiot in Godworld. Just take a cursory look around you and you’ll see hundreds, if not thousands,  of clues leading to this conclusion.

I don’t believe that we’re alone in the universe. If we will ever be lucky enough to make contact with other civilisations out there in the future, and these turn out to be more advanced than us, they will either be a religion-free (o r free of any other superstitious beliefs at all) civilisation, or believe in Gods that are completely different to the ones worshipped here.

If the latter will be the case, I can bet my head that they won’t be worshipping someone who consistently seems to be making the wrong choices while proclaiming to be almighty and all knowing.

Faith and fear  are the greatest assets that this God could ever have. If people weren’t  brainwashed to fear God and have total faith in his plan since their birth, then he would be cast aside even by the creatures of his own making.

Let me point out a few reasons why I believe that this God is an idiot:

Many religions claim that their God is the creator of the whole universe. This means that he had (and still has) total control over his creations: the looks, the actions, the thoughts, etc. worse still, some religions hold that we’re created in his true image and likeness! Yet, a few hundred years after he went through the hassle of creating Earth and the universe, he was enraged by  the way humans were behaving and decided to (practically) eradicate mankind bar a 600 year old man and his family, and all the animals that this poor old sod could take on his ark.

Since God is all-knowing, he must have known that humans would piss him off in the future, so why did he make man fallible in the first place? And why did he only tell Noah to save animals (that must include mice and insects) but he didn’t save the innocent new born children. This would have at least spared Noah’s family from practicing incest (like Eve and her sons did before them) to multiply the human race.

Speaking about man’s fallibility, instead of creating his mistakes in “take two”, the post-flood humans don’t seem to be any different from those who lived in the pre-flood era. So why go through all the trouble of destroying the planet when after some time humanity would go back to that same point that irked him so much? This genocide must have been a total failure. Only an idiot would go through such a hassle when he knows that it’s not going to yield any desired result.

But it gets worse. He wanted to communicate his love to us, and he wanted us to know that he has a divine plan. Instead of doing something about it himself, he chose humans to do it. The result of God’s laziness: different religions and peoples killing each other in God’s name through all the different ages. In his wisdom,  God also promised a holy land to his people. One would expect The Holy Land to be a true example of heaven on earth. Ironically, it’s the complete opposite. It’s literally hell on earth.  This is the single most violent region on the whole planet; and it has been like that for centuries and “God knows” when or if this holy war will ever end. Excellent work indeed.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. I didn’t go into the old testament’s claim of God causing people to sacrifice their children or allowing Lot to offer his daughters to the mob to gang rape them. I didn’t mention how the Bible promotes xenophobia; homophobia and hatred towards women; or how Jesus spoke about the need for salves to respect their master and did not utter a single word about womens’ rights. I also left out God’s (ethically-challenged) deals with people – especially locally – where he is willing to tweak his divine plan in exchange for prayer, a gold ring, a bracelet, and other material items.

Only an idiot can be easily bribed by people who will then spread the word tall all and sundry accompanied by pictures of the statue which is then adorned with the  golden watch, necklace, or earring. Wise people take bribes in private and they make sure they cover all their tracks. And why do statues need jewellery anyway?

Closer to our time, I’m deeply concerned about his choices. He is supposed to handpick people to act as his ministers. His preachers. One would expect priests to be a shining example of how God would like man to behave. Unfortunately, it turns out that a huge number of the people God himself has handpicked (remember?) throughout the years were anything but. The Catholic Church’s history is inundated with priests who would have been more suitable for Alistair Crowley’s role (in the divine plan?) than the one they actually played. Just think about the inquisition, the missionaries, paedophile priests, high ranking Church officials connected to various secret organisations . . . .  The list goes on and on.

Islamic suicide bombers and other Jihad fanatics choose to do what they do because they believe that they’re God’s (or Allah’s) soldiers. They’re simply the messengers of the supreme being, and are acting on his behalf. Obviously defenders of religion will say that this is the wrong interpretation of the Quran. This takes me back to my original point: why did he deliver his word through humans? Is that wise? Look at the consequences.

I’m really not impressed.  There are loads of other examples that I can bring. In fact, I can write a whole book about God’s idiocy. However, I still won’t manage to do it as eloquently as George Carlin described the greatest bullshit story ever told: “Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed. Results like these do not belong in the résumé of a supreme being. This is the kind of shit you would expect from an office temp with a bad attitude………. In between you and me, in any decent run universe this guy would have been out of his all-powerful-ass a long time ago.”

I don’t know if there’s some form of energy or supreme being out there that is the prime moving force for creation. It doesn’t really make a difference to the way I lead my life. I can only be sure of one thing: the idiot projected by religions cannot possibly be true. It simply just cannot be. No creature can be so self-contradictory, extremely violent and utterly stupid, let alone a supreme being.

Written by mickeymalta

29/03/2010 at 16:37

An assault course for expats

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An expat's reaction after finding out about the assault course he'll have to endure to be able to settle in The Rock

An expat's reaction after he learned about the assault course he'll have to endure to be able to settle and work in The Rock

Gonzi is promising you that his MEPs will be working hard to bring more jobs to The Rock. How he expects people to buy into this hogwash beats me, as anyone with a basic knowledge of politics would know that it is not the MEPs’ job to attract businesses but government institutions like Malta Enterprise, Malta Financial Services Authority, Lotteries and Gaming Authority, Malta Tourism Authority (to a certain extent), and others.

I would have expected il-prim to announce a comprehensive reform in government practices and legislation before promising anything of this sort; but our politicians keep thinking that the people who inhibit the island that thinks of itself as having a higher standard of education than the rest of the world are complete idiots.

Attracting foreign investment should be all about convincing big companies to set up units of strategic importance employing hundreds of people from the local labour market. To do this, they would have to send some of their top executives here to run the operation; and in order to convince these individuals who lead a comfortable life abroad to settle here, they need to receive an attractive package.

Let’s face it. If you are asked to leave your country and work in some god-forsaken land, you need to be convinced that you stand to gain. Otherwise why should you bother? Furthermore, a golden opportunity has just arisen. London is Europe’s business capital, and the 50% tax introduced by the Brown government is said to scare heavy hitters away to settle in other counties where they would pay less tax. It’s all over the papers in the UK and I was expecting our wise guys in Castille to snatch the opportunity to take the biggest possible slice of this cake. Unsurprisingly, none of this happened. If Gonzi ‘s government is not being fast to grab these opportunities on its home ground, you can imagine how effective its party MEPs are going to be hundreds of miles away; when they’re just a very small cog in an extremely complex machine. Will you stop trying to take us for a ride, please?

Imagine that you are a top executive in a big company, based in a comfortable office in one of Europe’s big cities, and leading a comfortable life. One fine day, your boss comes up to you to ask whether you would like to run the new operation that the company is considering to set up on The Rock. Being the professional executive that you are, you don’t take hasty a decision, and you start doing your homework to see if you’re going to be better off or not.

After you ask consultants to do some research, you will be presented with the following reality:

Work permits – even though you are an EU citizen, you will need a work permit. Without it, you will not be able to work and this is renewed on a yearly basis. Hence, on paper, if it is not renewed, you will not be able to work in The Rock. This essentially means that you are expected to leave your normal life at home and put yourself at the mercy of some civil servants who will decide whether or not to renew your permit every year. If they decide not to renew your work permit, you practically have two options: leave The Rock or get a new career in the underworld.

You ask your consultants to give you more information about work permits and they tell you that the system is quite strange and archaic. If you get a work permit, you are only allowed to work for that particular company that applies for it. Therefore if you want to change employer, you are once again at the mercy of the civil servants at ETC. If they decide that there are locals who can do your job, they are technically justified to refuse your application. Then you’ll be without a job because you would have resigned from your employment, applied for a new work permit which got refused. However, your consultants tell you that you don’t need to worry about all this because you’re an EU citizen and this whole procedure is just an indirect form of taxation. Just a gimmick. You will be safe and as an EU citizen as your work permit will be issued automatically.

You’re happy about this, but then you realise that you want John Horowitz as your deputy. He’s from Israel, and works with another company. You worked together in your previous employment and you’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to bring him into your organisation.

The consultants explain to you that non EU work permits are not issued in 3-4 weeks as in the case of EU residents. They may take from 3 to 6 months because of international police checks. So technically, poor Mr Horowitz will have to go through the recruitment process, and after he accepts the negotiated package (which usually leads to disengagement from one’s employment and the employee would then be looking forward to the next move), he would then have to wait for a long time before he actually relocates. And if the work permit is refused? Tough luck. He’ll end up jobless; unless he first applies for the work permit and resigns after this is issued. In practice, this means that you can have John after about 5 months you would have offered him the job (he has to work his notice, you know).

If, on the other hand his work permit application is accepted, once again Mr Horowitz is at the mercy of the civil servants every year. Rumour has it that the Torquemadas at ETC are not generally happy to renew permits after 3  years to non EU citizens as then they become permanent residents on their fourth year. WOW! The infidel is infiltrating the holy land and we need to act fast.

We have such a complex system that can be easily replaced by, say, a five year working visa. People will be given a visa to work with any employer in The Rock, and this is renewed every 5 years. But since this is the zone where normal things don’t happen very often, a practice that make sense is anathema.

Residence permit – this is another hurdle in the long and tough assualt course that expats (and their spouses) have to endure when settling here. You and your partner, if any, have to apply for a residence permit immediately after you receive your work permit, and you (together with your partner) are expected to go to Valletta, every year to get your residence permit renewed.

ID Card – while in Valletta, it is advisable that you walk a further kilometre down the road to hand in the papers and pictures for your identity card. The guys at Evans Building will then send you a letter at home and you have to go back after a week to retrieve your id card. Apparently, this is to confirm that you actually live in that residence.

Tax Registration – as soon as you leave Valletta, you then have to head off to the Inland Revenue Department in Floriana to get your tax number, which will then make you eligible for your NI number which can be obtained at the Social Security office in your district upon presentation of your work permit and ID card. Sigh!

Relocation – needless to say, if you’re settling in a different country you have to ship over your personal belongings. Customs will make your experience interesting with their creative charges and declarations about your ‘importation’ when in fact, the only thing you’re importing is your own personal stuff. These personal possessions are likely to include your car. You will be shocked to find out that it is easier (and better value) to sell your car for a pittance than paying the registration tax based on outrageous local evaluations of your car.

Tax bands – even though on paper you may think that you will be much better off because of the 35% maximum tax rate, upon taking a closer look you will realise that the tax bands are not wide enough to help you make good savings, and you’re practically on 35% after you earn the equivalent of a two month salary, while, at home it will take much more than that to reach the maximum capping. And since we’re talking about income, you may want to check the prices of clothes, electronic equipment, and leisure items.

I’m sure that the government will come up with every excuse to justify all this bureaucracy and harp on the necessity of such procedures. In true Rocker mentality, it will not listen to what customers have to say about its (dis)service. Instead, it will justify the reason for this dull and gruelling assault course. Even if one buys into the arguments, there is still no reason why the government shouldn’t at least make it easier for expats and set up one department to act as a one-stop-shop to offer a better service to expats who want to settle here.

If this is not enough to convince you to stay at home because you’ll be worse off if you move here, you have to forget about the continuation of any pension scheme you may have at home. Despite continuous promises about pension reforms, our legal framework doesn’t make it practical for individuals to invest in a pension scheme. So forget about all those years of potting money in a pension scheme.

There’s more! If you would like to start a family, or have children, you have to seriously think about it. The legal minimum for paternity leave is one day, and maternity leave doesn’t go beyond the 14 week minimum period stipulated by EU legislation. So if you’re a man and you’re here with your family without relatives and friends to support you, you have to contend with a miserable one paternity leave day to support your partner when she’s giving birth. If you want to support her as soon as she leaves hospital, you have to take annual leave. At home, you generally have between one to two weeks (paternity leave) to do so.

If you’re a woman, you only have 14 weeks maternity leave. Then you have to go back to work. The only option is to avail yourself of a three month unpaid parental leave period to extend your maternity leave – without getting paid. So if you intend to breastfeed your baby, you have to come up with creative means to do so.

Needless to say, the maternity and paternity leave entitlement stipulated by law are the minimum standards, and companies are free to go beyond that. Then, if and when you do offer adequate entitlement, you get accused of distabilising the labour market by local employers. Which employer would be happy to receive such a compliment?

The unbearable reality of being an expat goes beyond government policy. Opening a bank account is an arduous task, and if you’d like to have a credit card that is easily given to a Rocker earning a fraction of your salary, you would have to deposit equivalent of the credit limit in your account and the bank freezes it in case you decide to escape The Rock. This is true, believe me. This defeats the whole purpose of having a credit card. How the banks do not realise how ridiculous they are, goes beyond my wildest dreams.

It doesn’t stop there. If you want to get a basic prerequisite service like a fixed telephone line, you have to leave a €1,000 deposit.  Once again, you are seen as (and made to feel as though you are)a person whose sole intention is to rip everyone off and vanish into oblivion in the dark hours of the morning.

Admittedly, it would be unethical of the government to dictate policy for private entities, but the government is there to lead. First and foremost it does not lead by example, and neither does it encourage other institutions to stop treating expats like would-be crooks. In an earlier comment, I explained how ‘foreigners’ have to pay double the deposit that Rockers pay for a simple service like crutches from hospital.

Worse still, it is the government itself that treats expats like crooks whose only intention is to steal money and leave unnoticed. In case you didn’t know, the company directors are personally appointed by Inland Revenue as tax representatives of their non-Rocker workers. This means that they are personally responsible for the tax declarations and fiscal activities of their non-Rocker employees. How enticing is that!

This disgust towards non-Rockers has recently reached its peak recently in the PN’s accusations of other European parties’ vote in the EP, where it was decided that legal immigrants should have the right to vote. Despite that the PN tried to disguise this issue as a decision that affects illegal immigrants, it’s not. It’s a decision that affects people who work and therefore pay taxes here. So why shouldn’t they have the right to vote in EP elections? By right, not only should they should have the right to vote for EP elections, but also for the local elections.

Anyone living here should have every right and entitlement to decide who will lead the country for the next 5 years. Why shouldn’t people have the right to decide on the future of the country they’re working, living, and raising their family in?

Despite being the party that took us into Europe, Gonzi and his PN is anything but a modern, open party that embraces European values (which includes the mobility of citizens). Their policies are as protectionist as Mintoff’s. The latter was wanted to protect local trade, and Gonzi is being protectionist over the labour market. This is as bad as Mintoff’s narrow minded approach on trade.

Now that you know what expats have to endure, do you still think that Gonzi wants to entice international companies to invest here, when other countries do their best to support foreign investment? In this comment, I only mentioned the ordeal that individual employees have to go through. I didn’t even tap on the bureaucracy to obtain the necessary licenses and permits.

Why should they choose us over other jurisdictions that are more friendly towards expats? It’s high time to cut the crap and face the harsh reality of our insular, xenophobic practices.

Written by mickeymalta

03/05/2009 at 16:19

Posted in Blog Main Page, Politics

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Solid as a rock: il-veru caghaqa

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Malta must be REALLY a sexy chick. It is being asked to sport suspenders at 45! Many people from all walks of life are encouraging (relatively) young Malta to shed its suspenders and wave the middle finger to the Western world. I’m sure that the powers that be at the Pentagon, Capitol Hill, Downing Street, il Qurinale, and all the other centres of power are trembling with fear at this potential threat.

They must be exhausted with all these sleepless nights. The mighty and powerful state of Malta is contemplating to suspend its international obligations. WOW!!!!!!!!! and more !!!!!!!!!!!!!! and more !!!!!!!!!!!!!! and more . . . . . Although it may sound strange, I am actually not surprised at these suggestions, for the following reasons:

1. they are presumptuous – many Rockers (not the heavy metal ones, but the indigenous habitants of this rock) have the tendency to act like chihuahuas in front of a great dane: they bark at the top of their voice to scare the other dog away. The sad thing is that these little annoying creatures seem to believe that they actually managed to scare the great dane when the latter would just be completely ignoring the nuisance

2. they don’t make logical sense – therefore congruent with Maltese logic

3. they don’t make economic sense – if the Rock suspends its international obligations, it will have to face economic sanctions which will definitely include a ban on tourism and trade. We’re so full of natural resources that we can actually survive without imports, eh! And our domestic market is soooooooooo massive that we can do without export as well

4. they are diametrically opposed to Christian ethics – Malta is one of the LEADING EU countries with high tax evasion rates; one of the LEADING EU countries where teenage pregnancies, marital breakdown rates, low birth rates . . etc are concerned. You get the gist. Malta is so religious that it bans provocative art; it prosecutes people for dressing up as religious characters in carnival; it denies the right to divorce to its inhabitants. Yet, when it gets the opportunity to puts its religious beliefs into practice: the beatitudes, the good Samaritan, all people are created in god’s image, love thy neighbour . . . . it turns to Aleister Crowley’s bible

The sad thing is that these treaties were drafted to safeguard countries like Malta in instances where bigger countries (and it doesn’t take much to be bigger than Malta) think that might is right.

So, even if we had to ignore the moral implications (which are the most important principles in the immigration issue), JPO’s, Joseph Muscat’s, Josie Muscat’s, Norman Lowell’s and the timesofmalta.com bloggers’ suggestions are completely nonsensical.
But then again, if they made sense, they wouldn’t be accepted here . . .

Welcome to Malta: the zone where normal things don’t happen very often!

Written by mickeymalta

20/03/2009 at 13:06