“Hide this breast out of my (Amex) sight”

To my surprise Politiken informs us that it is no longer possible to pay for drinks in Copenhagen’s strip bars with an American Express card !

Apparently Amex considers strip bars as part of the pornography business and therefore refuses to grant card owners the possibility to use them for such morally unsuitable behaviours. Pornography is illegal so are strip bars !

Hopefully, the owner of several strip bars in the city seems willing to lead the rebellion against such discriminating policy that threaten tourists’ enjoyable experience of the city. (sic)

If the argumentation is said to be based on legal restrictions, as the articles rightly points out, there is no doubt that this policy is primarily informed by moral considerations. As much as I support the initiative taken by financial institutions against child pornography (apparently a booming industry of 20-ish billion $ a year !!!), I can’t but laugh at again another example of moral quest that the management of certain companies pretends, consciously or not, to impose on consumers.

Funnily enough, Amex seemed to have much more prosaic issues in mind when they started refusing payment for adult webiste in 2000: here.

In Denmark too Sarkozy’s unexpected but well-publicized performance during his press meeting at the last G8 became a hit: the article featuring the episode ranks top of the week on politiken (bottom right). Refreshing or sad if you consider that latest up-date on extravagant Paris Hilton  is “only” 5th ?

To finish here with the news from Denmark, Le Monde runs an article on the current paradox of the Danish economy: the situation is so satisfying (historic low unemployement at 3.7%, low inflation, sound public finances, etc) that is start posing a problem: tapping into the growth potential for 2007 and 2008 will prove difficult as companies cannot find qualified workers to address the demand they are facing.

Denmark has one of the highest activity rate of the OECD countries so postponing the pre-retirement age and lowering the income tax level so to attract foreign workers are among the few likely solutions. Something the article does not tackle is that a priority should be to put an halt to the populist and simplistic rhetoric of the appalling Dansk Folkeparti and its pathetic leader Pia Kiersgaard. Both, despite being per se an insult to human intelligence have enjoyed increasing power of nuisance in national politics during the last couple of years and have managed to frame the political agenda way beyond their actual size (and understanding of the issues at stake). This has been made possible mainly by the lack of a stable majority from the moderate & conservative parties.

I  hope that the emergence of a new center party, Ny Alliance, as well as the penalizing shortcomings of labour will allow to open up further the debate on Denmark radical anti-immigration policy during the last couple of years. (Just as a sad example, Danish people sometimes had to move to Sweden with their foreign lover so to be able together as Denmark refused to grant them residence permit!) Aside from political or ethical considerations, this might be the price for sustaining the flourishing economy.

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Let this diversity of opinions be propounded to, and laid before him; he will himself choose, if he be able; if not, he will remain in doubt. "Che non men che saver, dubbiar m' aggrata." ["I love to doubt, as well as to know."-- Dante, Inferno, xi. 93] for, if he embraces the opinions of Xenophon and Plato, by his own reason, they will no more be theirs, but become his own. Who follows another, follows nothing, finds nothing, nay, is inquisitive after nothing. "Non sumus sub rege; sibi quisque se vindicet." ["We are under no king; let each vindicate himself." --Seneca, Ep.,33]"
Montaigne - Essais I, XXVI, Of The Education of Children
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