European Union: Sinking?

 

map-eu-member-countries-14142535[1]Over the next nine months much will be said and much publicity will be generated about the EU and in particular whether the UK will remain a member. I will nail my flag to the post; I am in favour of a united Europe. However, I cannot support the present set up, that’s a definite no.

Europe has much to offer in diversity, much sophistication. Sun worshipers need not go beyond its borders; likewise all can linger and breathe in the beauty of the architecture, art, tradition and food as they have always done but it would be nice to do as a truly united continent.

Politically and economically there are many barriers, some of which may never be removed. On the economic front the system of the EU is suffering from rot and is in thVWJRZYWDdanger of collapse. Several member states are weighed down by euro fatigue and the centralization of power. (scream)

Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and France are each having difficulties. Production in Greece has fallen for three (3) months out of 4 bringing an expectation of recession. Italy is heading for another year of decline in an analysis by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Throughout the 18 nations that constitute the euro zone inflation is at a low of 0.3% the lowest since 2008 which has led to concerns about growth. Manufacturing is at its lowest in over a year. According to Chris Williamson chief economist at Markit, the euro zone could be heading towards stagnation. (Reuters Oct: 2)

An investor index by Sentix showed a three month drop in activity that suggests the EU is heading for a recession. Germany, the strongest economy has seen their monthly orders drop by 5.7%, the biggest since 2009. (Reuters Oct 6)To add to the pressure the euro € has fallen to $1.25 the lowest in two years. All of which has brought a gloomy analysis from the IMF, “Growth in the euro nearly stalled earlier this year, even in the core”. This has left many economists and businessmen praying for sunshine in the midst of winter.

The Swiss authorities add their own kick in the proverbial by suggesting they may introduce a negative interest rate to safeguard the franc. They are worried that the flight from the euro is pushing the franc too high. Reuters

Many business people and economists are waiting to see if the European Central Bank (ECB) will introduce quantitative easing, e.g. pumping money into the system. The hope is that such an action will encourage the banks to loan to small businesses and thus stimulate the economy. However, the Germans are very much opposed to such a move. (Reuters Oct: 2) Here we witness national self- interest coming to the fore. The Germans are not alone in their nationalist outlook. France has a debt of €2 trillion which exceeds EU guidelines. The rules state that debt should not prove more than 60% of gross domestic product (GDP) but French debt stands at 95% of GDP which has brought it into conflict with the EU Commission (France 24 Sept: 30)

A week later (Oct: 6) a Reuters report states that the Commission was likely to reject France’s budget for 2015. France is unlikely to comply and demand time to deal with its problem which it will get. The Commission now has such powers thanks to an agreement of 2013. The significance lies in the centralization of power that the new ruling brings.

The situation could arise whereby nation states may have to submit their budgets prior to publication for clearance from the Commission. This would endow the Commission with a considerable degree of power and an enormous amount of leverage. Power corrupts! Such a scenario would be manna from heaven for those who oppose a centralized state.

Self-interest has raised its head in the form of tax ‘sweetheart’ deals concerning: Ireland, Netherlands and Luxembourg and their association with multinational companies, Apple, Starbucks and Fiat and Amazon respectively. The Commission is to examine the tax advantages given to Apple in 1999 and 2007. It is reported that Apple has accumulated a vast nest egg of $138bn in Ireland which it cannot transfer to the USA where it would be subject to tax. In the USA a Senate inquiry is also looking at the Apple deal. (Guardian Oct: 6)

The furore concerns the payment of corporation tax. The amount paid may be conspicuously low in Ireland and the other countries cited and could therefore constitute a bribe or in EU parlance state aid which is against the rules. As far as Apple are concerned they are doing good business and suggest that other countries should look to their tax levels. Apple would like to pay less tax; wouldn’t we all. But where would that leave society?

Of course Apple is not alone in avoidance of tax and the hoarding of their cash. Starbucks, Fiat and Amazon have been mentioned but Microsoft play a similar game. Google siphon their tax through Bermuda where corporation tax does not exist. Multinational, conglomerate power, this is what free trade looks like!

“The corporations don’t have to lobby the government anymore. They are the government.” Jim Hightower, cited by Ha-Joon Chang Economics: The User’s Guide

Shimmying around the ethical boundaries of EU legislation highlights a structural weakness. When political power is at stake – Musketeers be damned. The political expediency of the party in power takes precedence over the collective good and the prospects of a Gosplan lay in tatters.

Be aware that what the big boys don’t pay in tax you have to make up. It’s a double whammy as you also pay when you purchase the product, it’s part of the cost. The government will have its revenue come what may – you pay.

thAW9I7EY1There was a lack of an overall economic tie from the start and as each new member state joined they must have thought they had secured a safe seat on a gravy train. Some doubtless thought they had won the lottery and spent accordingly. A problem always arises when you hold a committee meeting of self-interested parties; you end with a recipe that has many ingredients which are difficult to blend, takes longer to cook, and, proves very hard to cut into slices.

Individual state interest has been at the heart of the EU since its inception. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is proof of that and while it has been tinkered with over the years it still remains heavily subsidized. Everyone knows that France championed its outline and substantially its content. Today there are 14million farmers and 4m in the food sector. An incredible 70% are less than 5 hectares in size. The big boys stay healthy with their subsidy while the little guys make ends meet.

www.ec.europa.eu/agriculture/cap-overview/2012_en.pdf

Several attempts have been made to reform CAP:

  • Mansholt Plan 1968, to reduce by five million the number of small farmers to make the industry more sustainable – dropped.
  • MacSharry 1992 aimed to cut over production by reducing subsidies to cereals by 29% and beef by 15%. Also to create set aside e.g. pay farmers not to grow crops.
  • Agenda Report 2000 another attempt to reduce subsidies on cereals, milk, milk products and beef over a period of time. The farmers to be compensated with ‘income support’.
  • Commission Report 2003 suggested big cuts in CAP expenditure – ignored.

What was agreed in 2003 was that CAP spending be retained until 2012. France led the battle cry and got German support. We evidence here the determination of individual member states to hold on to their way of life, subsidized by the rest, and thus their electorate at the expense of the collective good. How do you build a ‘union’ when each hankers after an individual package?

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Agricultural_Policy

CAP accounts for 40% of the EU budget while employing 7% of the workforce and contributed 6% to the EU GDP.     www.ec.europa.eu/agriculture/cap-overview/2012_en.pdf

Politicians speak loudly about human rights but only when it does not conflict with their self-interests. According to the Human Development Report (HDR) 2003, in the year 2000 the EU spent $913 as a subsidy per dairy cow but gave $8 per person in aid to Sub-Sahara Africa. In a later report 2005 the HDR stated that the problem facing the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was “rich country subsidies”. Interestingly, in 2008 the WTO meeting collapsed in disagreement over the issue of subsidies. “…the West spends high amounts on agricultural subsidies each year, which amounts to unfair competition”. (Wikipedia op cit :) So much for free trade!

Another major problem with the EU is its continual failure to balance the books or have them audited. Until the books are audited we cannot take the politicians seriously. The fact that no one has lost their job is testament to their contempt for the public.

The election of executive commissioners is a further example of their contempt. AllNew Picture (1) elected MEP’s join one of several groupings: centre right, centre left, ultra this and ultra that. They then caucus in their own gang where they plan to get a set number of their clan elected and to block other clans. It is a time for “partisan infighting and tactical manoeuvres”. (Guardian Oct: 2)

Notice that no thought is given to whom might be the best candidate for the job or what might be in the best interest of the electorate. No thought is given to the people; their own brand of politics is core to their thinking. They have entered the Colosseum, thumbs at the ready. Let the games begin! Even at the start they are distant from their electorate and so they remain.

Across Europe people are showing their discontent by voting, in increasing numbers, for anti-EU political parties. The EU needs a root and branch change. Politicians may try to persuade that the present crisis is solvable but the Union has been weak from the start. Actually, it has never really been a union, just a mishmash of contending interests. The EU is weak, the politicians and bureaucracy are insular. Is there a doctor in the house!

 

 

 

 

Don’t Roll the Dice on Slavery!

 

The sun was shining and somewhere around the world people were sunbathing, splashing in the water, having a barbecue or just zonking out in their back garden with a beer or two. Life is ok man, when the sun shines and you have some money to spend. Hey, lazy days, we love them. We call them stress busters, happy tune time, or chilling. Cool, for those who have the time to laze.

‘Hey man, don’t change the music. I’m into the blues, its soulful man. It’s rocking my boat.’ And there he lies, without understanding, listening to the blues.

There’s a pounding at the door, reluctantly he gets up to answer it and opens the door to the police. Several questions later and he has worked out the story; his next door neighbour has been keeping slaves. ‘Hell!’ He didn’t even know. He thought it was all a big movie thing and media talk. He grabbed his phone and texted a few of his friends. While waiting for their response he went on the net.

Wow! The information came at him thick and fast. In 2007 it was reported that 5000 child sex workers were in the UK, most had been trafficked into the country. ‘That’s puke zone!’

www.jrf.org.uk/publications/modern-slavery

In 2013, 1,746 cases of slavery in the UK a 47% increase on 2012 and the figure was likely to be much higher. He thought, ’Where have I been living! Slavery, next door!’ People being trafficked from places like Romania, Albania, Nigeria and Vietnam.

www.modernslavery.co.uk

More figures, he wants to turn his phone off but can’t. He’s on the BBC site with several cases of sexual exploitation and forced labour. He reads one of an 84 year old man and a 10 year old deaf girl. ‘Oh, puke!’ A gypsy site in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire 2011, (he doesn’t even know where it is) twenty four men set free, some after years of slave labour. The same place again in December 2013 more vulnerable men freed. Loads of it!

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london

The door is pounded again. His mates pile in to find out what happened when the cops came calling. There were now four phones on the go and one laptop. In between gasps of astonishment and a barrage of swearing, the facts continued to roll in from places some had had holidays in.

Devon & Cornwall – 8 Czech nationals freed and 8 arrested all of foreign origin.

Lincoln (lovely cathedral) – 9 freed from forced labour and seven arrests made.

www.falmouthpacket.co.uk/achive/2014/09/17

www.thelincolnite.co.uk/2014/09

th9EDTYYGJSlavery, “more prolific and lucrative than ever”. An estimated 30 million slaves worldwide with the criminals making around $150bn. The air turned blue with ‘bloody’ being the softest term and, utterances of surprise from everyone in the room. Pizza and drinks were ordered. The race was on to find the worst case. More than 10,000 slaves are in the UK, says Frank Field, Labour MP. ‘Where are they all?’ Horror! Two-thirds of children saved went AWOL again once the traffickers found out where they had been resettled. There was genuine surprise at the ruthlessness of the traffickers.

The pizza didn’t last long.

www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/08/

Everything stopped, it was quiet, and someone made coffee. There was a kind of telepathic understanding; as cyclists they could raise money. A ride was not a problem, a 10K run, they could handle, but this needs to be different. It would need to be something that got a lot of publicity. Not a gimmick, but everything is a sort of gimmick, but this was bloody serious stuff.

Ideas started to flow: a 10K run, but every entrant had to buy a T shirt to participate. Not a black on white one, more colourful, different but bold with the message crystal clear. A mosaic of colour as the runners pounded along the route of the run. Organise a cycle through London at peak time. How many guys could they call on to help? Who do they know is a graffiti artist? Do an outrageous stunt for ‘You Tube’, a twitter campaign, a sit down outside TV studios and sell badges and car stickers.

All these ideas were considered as, here today but gone tomorrow. They need something lasting. Trucks with their sides painted roaring up and down the country, with smart art work/graffiti. A plastic bag levy, the proceeds to be pooled to help the victims. A £10K/$15K prize for the best idea for an anti-slavery campaign; sponsored by either government or big business.

Set up a national/international competition for graffiti artists to design an anti-slavery poster. The work could be displayed in local museums for an entrance fee of £1/$1.50. People would then be able to vote on line for the local winner and later for the national winner. Of course that needs a logistics expert but then good causes generate good people/organisations to help.

A photo taken with a pop star, TV star or film star for a fee of £10/$15, with all proceeds pooled for victim support or help towards costs.

More coffee and a good stretch as juices start to fade. ‘Who fancies a beer?’

‘We should leave it to the government.’

‘Oh, no, you should read this! They’ve shamefully let big business off the hook by dropping the supply chain option from the Modern Slavery Bill.’

‘And?’

‘It means that the big boys can still buy goods from suppliers who use slave labour.’

‘Here’s one, called double criminality; whatever the charge it has got to be exactly the same in other countries otherwise the shysters get away scot free.’

‘I’ve got one, a children’s charity the ECPAT, they say that the Bill is too narrow and does not have enough about victim support.’

‘Stuff the government then! They’ve lost my vote.’

‘Make that two. Wait a mo. (hands are raised) All five!’

Later.

‘Look I’ve found another!’ It was a letter to the Telegraph newspaper about 3000 thO9KC4HY2trafficked women being used in prostitution at any given time in the UK.

www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/letters/11109347

‘What’s the point; those guys could go down town any weekend and find loads sprawled out, wide-eyed and legless; cheap as well!’  Laughter.

‘What would be your dream scenario?’

‘Blockbuster movie with all the action heroes, you know, Rambo types; flying all over the world taking out trafficking gangs.’

‘Name that movie!’

‘Doom Traders’

‘A Cry of Innocence’

‘Bounty Men’

‘Sex: Make it about Love’

There’s a lot of laughter and lots of cooing.

‘What about a game? Some evil nutter with a serum infects trafficked women and kids and men who catch the disease must pay for the antidote. Millions are infected and we need to find the baddies. Special hit squads are set up; the player must pick his team, outline his strategy, then get in and clean up.’

‘What would you call it?’

‘Keep your zip up’           The Iron jockstrap!

‘Drop your pants and die’

‘Don’t let Johnnie roam’

There is much laughter.

‘Seriously, what about Killing Darkness’

A holler of oohs and aahs brought the group a lot of attention.

Barman calls over, “You lot are loud tonight.”

‘Just deciding how to kill off the slave traders.’

Barman, “Oh yeah, read something like that in the paper.”

A conversation starts at the bar.

Warning: GovernmentthPZ03VNK6

Don’t rely on the government! A new toothless law won’t help. We already have sufficient laws. It’s a game politician’s play, to be seen to be doing something but keep the costs down and the big boys smiling, hence no supply chain legislation. They tell the police to take action but don’t increase their budget. They speak loud for a short period and then let the whole thing slide back into the abyss. They treat people like children with a short interest span.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Child Sexual Abuse: It’s a Man Thing!

 

thKLJY0KO5thBHNITY72

The recent explosion of interest in child sexual exploitation generated by Professor Alexis Jay’s report on the issue in Rotherham, South Yorkshire UK, is in a strange way, healthy. This is a topic that needs to be aired on a regular basis to keep it ablaze in peoples’ mind. It is hard to conceive that sixteen (16) years of exploitation went uncontested by the authorities. It really doesn’t matter who committed the crime, the punishment should be severe. The length of time a child lives with the trauma that was forced upon them, should be the length of sentence.

In many films horror lurks in the darkness and this has proven to be a reality for thousands of little kids. The gratification of the male has superseded the innocence of childhood. What is revealed here is the barbaric side of mans’ nature, and exposes the extent of his lust, how his libido dominates his thinking. It also exposes the jungle nature of poverty, the part played by culture, the gullibility of political correctness, multiculturalism and the emptiness of human rights.

Abuse of children through grooming and gang mentality was exposed in Rochdale in 2012. On this occasion nine men were arrested and sentenced for the sexual exploitation of some 47 girls over several years. However, it is countrywide: in Shropshire, the local newspaper reports that in the year April 2013 – March 2014, 39 cases had been reported to the Council’s child panel, a 44% increase. The Thames Valley police report that 120 officers searched addresses in Buckinghamshire and Berkshire. Eight arrests were made concerning the sexual abuse of girls in the period 2005 – 2012. In Greater Manchester, 180 suspects have been questioned as part of an operation codenamed Doublet.

The case of Rotherham leaves one staggered by the complicity of the agencies involved. The same agencies set up to protect the children had left them to wither on the vine. The extent of the cover-up, it is a cover-up, is beyond reprehensible. The Labour Party in power throughout the period has much to answer. Their reaction was to call for the resignation of the Police Commissioner, Shaun Wright. They later suspended four (4) Councillors because, ‘they failed to act when in positions of authority’. Suspended!

th6YBLAMWKInterestingly, the previous Chief Constable, Meredydd Hughes in post 2004 – 2011 told the Parliamentary Home Affairs Select Committee on 9th September he was ‘unaware’ of the situation. A similar claim to that made by the Police Commissioner. No body knew nothing!

A BBC Panorama programme brought clarity to the cover-up when a Home Office official, seconded to Rotherham Council was interviewed. The official itemised the data of a large number of girls in 2002 in her report. When the official indicated that most of the perpetrators were of Pakistani origin, she was told not to repeat that information, and was advised to take a two-day course on ‘diversity awareness’. The obvious conclusion to be drawn from that exchange is that the exploited children were worth less than the political agenda being imposed. And children suffered for another twelve (12) years. Unfortunately the data collected was stolen from the official’s office. How deep does this cover-up go? It makes a person shiver with disgust.

Little wonder that Theresa May, the Conservative Home Secretary, speaking in Parliament could state plainly that the actions of the Rotherham officials were a, “complete dereliction of duty”. Furthermore, she was able with absolute authority to condemn the, “institutionalized political correctness” a policy embraced by the Council. (Guardian 2 September 2014)

I nearly laughed when reading the Independent newspaper account of a briefing given by the South Yorkshire Chief Constable, David Crompton, who stated, “A fully independent and impartial investigation is required”. Of course he is right, but then informed those present that he had asked another police authority to carry out the investigation.

“A National Report published in 2013 found 16,500 children and young people were at risk of child sexual exploitation, though it claimed the figure was much higher”.

www.shropshirestar.com/news/2014/09/02

Needless to say I have many concerns with the Chief Constable’s plan.

  • The sexual exploitation is countrywide.
  • How many other police forces have turned a blind eye?
  • How can the public be assured that the findings arrived at are impartial?
  • Because it is a question of trust, any investigation must not be carried out by any ‘Body’ that is tinged with the case.
  • Parliament is tainted by a similar scandal.

It is very difficult to resolve because trust is such a fragile concept and especially so with the characters and institutions implicated. The only real outcome, to show that we as a society put children high on our priority list, is a Royal Commission. Australia is in the midst of one and we should follow their lead. Any Commission must include Professor Alexis Jay as she has been truthful to the point of bluntness. There should be no hiding place for the perpetrators of child sexual exploitation.

The horror is not restricted to Britain, it is worldwide. I watched a TV documentary on Channel 4 on September 1st. The programme dealt with the sexual exploitation of boys in Peshawar, Pakistan. In Pakistan there are reputedly 4 million kids at work and, 1.5 million of these live on the streets. It is these street urchins that are most at risk, some 5000 of whom live in Peshawar, where they are subject to being sold, trafficked and used extensively as prostitutes. An astonishing 95% of truck drivers admitted that sex, often forced on these boys, was their entertainment.

No one seems to care, the government take no interest, the local authority likewise, and, a police spokesman recognised the problem but said the police had no time to deal with it. A few, a very few took it upon themselves to try and help these lost boys.

A female social worker shed light on a possible cultural explanation by suggesting that the role of women in Pakistan may be a cause. Women in the country are second class but are coveted because they are expected to be virgins when married; after which they are the slave of the man in every aspect of married life. Thus young men and men in general have no outlet for their libido and street urchins are easy prey.

Even if we gave any credence to the cultural cause, it does not excuse the heinous crime of those men and the depravity of a nation that turns a blind eye to it happening. These children are already victims of acute poverty with little hope of securing a decent existence. To force further degradation on them is inhumane. These kids must laugh at the mention of human rights. Moreover, to unshackle the women would merely open many of them to a similar fate.

The USA is also a horror picture with one of the worst records in the industrialized world for child abuse. Three million reports of abuse amounting to 6 million kids have been logged. The most recently documented 500,000 cases reveal a 10% sexual exploitation level, that’s 50,000 kids tarnished for life. How can the world grow better when we corrupt the seed?

www.childhelp.org/pages/statistics

According to the, www.examiner.com/article the commercial exploitation of children is the fastest growing underworld crime. Where you find big bucks in crime you’ll find politicians on the take!

In Australia they are attempting to highlight and deal with the issue by the setting up of a Royal Commission to examine every aspect of child sexual abuse. The Commission is due to end in December 2015 but has asked for an extension until 2017 in order to follow up on research projects. In the interim the report found that over 90% of perpetrators were male. Well, no surprise there! However, the Catholic Church came in for severe criticism as did the Salvation Army (SA). The SA witnessed a slump in donations after it was revealed that children suffered terrible sexual abuse while in their care. It appears there is no sanctuary anywhere for our vulnerable children.

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2674893

Heads should roll in Rotherham from every department. Personally, I would be quite draconian with the use of the guillotine because those involved have put their job andthA5BQ5U5Y well-being; their pension, mortgage, promotion, school fees and car size before that of thousands of abused children. Over the 16 year period they have shown no empathy, no sense of justice, no rectitude, therefore I have no sympathy for any of them. Their mindset would allow Nazism!

Nonetheless, we need to examine the underlying causes of this barbarism which afflicts our society. The prime cause is mans’ libido (sex drive). We cannot shy away from this and must approach it in a pragmatic manner. Over millennia this cause has been identified from the earliest religious writings to modern day understanding.

“Freud pointed out that these libidinal drives can conflict with conventions of civilized behaviour.”

Moreover, “The surge in testosterone hits the male at puberty resulting in a sudden and extreme sex drive which reaches its peak in early adolescence and then drops slowly over his lifetime”.

Is it the chemical build up, specifically testosterone that creates the psychological lust that galvanises men’s behaviour? All the major religions condemn lust: Christian, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sikhism.

  • Buddhism – second of Four Noble Truths – ‘suffering is caused by lust’.
  • Hinduism – lust is one of the gates to Naraka or hell.
  • Sikhism – lust is one of five cardinal sins.

Observation over centuries in many ancient societies reached a similar conclusion. All of us know that in any social gathering that ‘man thinks with his dick’. We are also aware that the occasional inappropriate ‘bonk’ can cause an emotional wildfire leading to separation, divorce and anguish for our off spring.

“Lust is a powerful psychological force producing intense wanting for an object, or circumstance fulfilling the emotion”. Lazarus & Lazarus cited

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libido

See also:              www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lust

Life for many of our vulnerable children is a struggle at the best of times but becomes a virtual constant darkness when faced by the worst of predators, man. Perhaps we need to add bromide into the water supply or is that just an army myth. To know something is terribly wrong and stand idly by is giving your blessing to this depraved criminality.

Once again, I ask where are the voices of the churches and the charities, the politically correct, the multiculturalists, the advocates of human rights, the Liberal elite and the Left in politics. It is they who have brought us to this juncture. Silence is acceptance, whereas action has an impact on raising awareness and bringing a route to justice. A route to justice is a path to a more thoughtful caring society. Choice!

We need a Royal Commission and on the world stage we need at least 15 of the world’s top universities to carry out extensive studies. We need to understand so that we may put an end to this, the horror movie of all horror movies.

thHA4BEXT5To the afflicted children I am obliged to say – don’t bother waiting; the cavalry will not be coming over the hill to save the day. This is the world we live in!

Fair Trade: Really? (Blindland 11)

 

The concept behind Fair Trade (FT) is to alleviate poverty by ensuring that farmers get a realistic price for their crop. In addition there is a consumer premium of around 20% which is given to provide funding for ‘community development projects’ to enhance the lives of the locals. The sale of Fair Trade goods is growing year on year. It is a lovely idea and perhaps that is why so many people in the developed world are purchasing Fair Trade crops. But is it just another money grabbing exercise.

There is a general consensus that there is insufficient study and thus data of how the system operates in practice. What studies have been carried out are highly critical and suggest that little or no benefit accrues to the poor of the region.

thLWTJAVUCThe present system is a development of an earlier church and charity initiative and emanates from Europe. The basic principle was to establish cooperatives’ in areas where small individual farmers could pool their crop before selling it on and getting a better return. The cooperative would act on their behalf and the Fair Trade body would assist in marketing and ensure the premium is forwarded. A bale of cotton with a wholesale value of £100 would receive £120; the cooperative then decides how the extra income will be spent.

A weakness arises almost immediately as there are a number of bodies who oversee the implementation of the process. Four main bodies: Fairtrade International, IMO, Eco-Social and Fair Trade USA, who broke away from Fairtrade International in 1997, to become independent. All are entitled to give certification to the cooperatives. The question is, if all are doing the same job why the duplication, why all this extra bureaucracy? Why this waste of resources and money which could be spent more wisely! Is this more to do with egos than the poor?

One of the major criticisms is the over bureaucratic nature of the business. To be certified as a producer/cooperative you must agree to the political agenda set out by FLO-CERT, the European centre for the trade and issuing of certificates. The programme includes: not employing children or slave labour and paying a minimum wage. A further list deals with environmental issues, how the crop can be sown and the measures to be employed in harvesting. To comply with the degree of paper work some cooperatives have had to establish offices and employ staff.

Another problem is that the Fair Trade does not take the farmers’ entire crop which has led to suggestions that the system is open to abuse.

Scenario:

A farmer has two bags of coffee one bag is high quality the other of a lower quality bean. One gets sold as FT and gains the premium; the other is sold on the open market. If the farmer sells the lower standard crop as Fairtrade he gets his premium and the high quality one gets a good price on the open market. The farmer takes a double profit but the consumer is treated shoddily.

www.chaight.com/Problem%20with%20FT%20Coffee.pdf

Moreover, all coffee goes through the same processing in the consumer nations, e.g. same packers, same import and retail companies. If not inspected regularly and thoroughly, the consumer is reliant on the honesty of the businesses involved. To emphasise the point the Financial Times reported in 2006 that of ten mills visited, all ten did not differentiate between coffee beans. There is no guarantee that the consumer is getting the coffee they paid for. Also, “packers and retailers can charge as much as they want for the coffee”. But the farmers don’t share in that mark-up!

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_trade

When it’s considered that coffee is the second most valuable export from developing countries – petrochemical is number one – the price the farmer gets is essential to their survival. However, it has been pointed out that some small farmers have become reliant on the premium payment to the extent that they continue to grow coffee rather than a more suitable crop for the land. (C Haigh ibid) Philip Booth writing in the Catholic Herald states, which many other writers support, “…I would just like to say that fairtrade is not a model for long-term development”. We must note that Booth is an advocate of free trade.

www.iea.org.uk/publications/research/the-economics-of-fair-trade

In the USA coffee is a $40bn industry, of which actual coffee accounts for $14bn. Of the latter figure Fair Trade achieves 4% of the market, which is not much. It is generally accepted that FT only makes up a very small percentage of the global market for all products. This may give credence to the argument put forward by Philip Booth. FT also tries to operate outside of the capitalist system and to utilise the market benefits of the system at the same time. The setting up of cooperatives and its bureaucratic strangle hold, whilst utilising the marketing skills of traders’.

It may be wrong to surmise but are the proponents of FT trying to hold back the tide ofthE7V01EX1 capitalism. In doing so are they not chaining the small farmer ever tighter to a set way of life with little opportunity of change, to suit their own political agenda? There is an assumption in that theory that the farmer has no desire for change or development.

Battle lines have been drawn since the early days between those in the Left corner and those on the Right. “Even the incomes of growers of fair trade coffee beans depend on the market value of the coffee where it is consumed, so farmers of fair trade coffee do not necessarily live above the poverty line or get completely fair prices for their commodity”. David Ransom 2001 cited Wikipedia ibid. Other studies carried out in Latin America say quite the opposite. However, more recent studies on the subject of FT tend to support the view expressed by Ransom.

Those in receipt of the FT premium also benefit from grants from at least twelve (12) charitable bodies and are therefore seen to be creaming-off the available money. (Wikipedia)The view sits well with Sam Bowman, “…Fair Trade products can deprive the world’s poorest farmers of their income in favour of relatively well-off ones”. He thMNSN8B0Lsupports his analysis by suggesting that money is more likely (women farming)to go to Latin America than to Africa where deprivation is greater. Other combatants in the debate are the economist Dr Peter Griffiths and Alistair Smith an advocate of Fairtrade. The difference in opinion is much too long and holds too much conductivity to be outlined here.

www.adamsmith.org/blog/tax-spending/market-poverty-and-fair-trade/

thCA7GXR8DCritics of the Fair Trade system are of the opinion that it fails to work for the benefit of small farmers but generates more money for the big boys. “The evidence available suggests that little of the extra money paid by consumers actually reaches the farmers”. (Wikipedia ibid) This view is in line with that expressed by Tim Worstall, “Fairtrade is simply a vastly inefficient method of making the lives of the poorest people in the world better”.

www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2014/05/25

Evidence from academic studies has proven quite critical of Fair Trade. One study carried out by Colleen Haight in Costa Rica notes that there are 31 pages of standards that must be met to gain certification. Her study discovered that farmers in Costa Rica were using migrant labour to harvest the crop in contradiction of the guidelines, especially in terms of working conditions and minimum wage.

Haight noticed that the small farmers were at the mercy of the market price for survival. This is backed up by Dr Peter Griffiths who has noted that a 1% increase in production can lead to a 4% or 5% fall in price. The Economist magazine weighs in with its analysis, “The effectiveness of Fairtrade is questionable; workers in Fairtrade farms have a lower standard of living than on similar farms outside the Fairtrade system”. Wikipedia ibid

Of course it depends on where in the world the report was written, and the factor of time, in terms of what year. If it was written in the early days of FT then improvements over the years may have changed the plight of the farmers. It is probably true to say that many who are not in favour of FT are advocates of free trade. However, this does not necessarily mean that their conclusions are inaccurate.

The crunch point for me was the reading of a report of a group of academics from the University of London who carried out a four (4) year study in Ethiopia and Uganda. They were surprised to find children at work in places but the real surprise was,

“We also knew that Fairtrade Standards for tea and coffee have always been far more concerned with the incomes of producers than the wage workers’ earnings. What did surprise us is how wages are typically lower, and on the whole conditions worse, for workers in areas with Fairtrade organisations than those in other areas”.

They noted that the consumer premium was not being used wisely:

  • In one area the premium was used to build modern toilets – but that they were used exclusively by senior coop managers.
  • Children were turned away from a Fairtrade supported school because they owed fees. The premium was used to build houses for the teachers!
  • They found that workers could earn more and have more regular hours of work working for large farmers outside the Fairtrade.

www.soas.ac.uk/development/projects/fterr

www.theguardian.com/global-development                      May 2014

The findings noted above give credence to the analysis of Philp Booth when he writes about the cooperative movement:

“…well known to be inefficient, prone to capture and prone to corruption. It also discriminates against poor, small independent farmers”. Ibid

It really is soul destroying to read that organisations set up for the betterment of the poorest people are not doing their job. Meanwhile ordinary Joes’ in the developed world are being duped into paying a higher price, in some cases 20% higher, in the belief that their money was being put to a good use. Once again the only people making the big bucks are the big boys! However, this time I can’t blame the big bad wolves; it’s the good Samaritans of the Left in politics who must shoulder my enmity!

Greed, it makes the world go round but it doesn’t make for a decent journey.

 

 

 

Free Trade: Nothing for Nothing. (Blindland 10)

 

Many governments under the umbrella of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and a large body of economists view free trade as a boon for the world economy. The governments of the USA, UK and the nations comprising the EU support the concept of free trade but do they practice what they preach? Several economists suggest that free trade would boost the world economy and by doing so benefit the poorest countries. Those in the opposing camp are of the opinion that it’s all about securing markets for profit and little to do with the poor. The opposition to free trade also suggest that such trade has no moral compass.

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is busy trying to dismantle as many barriers to trade as it can negotiate. They envisage a free world market in which governments place no restrictions on exports or imports. In effect, “…free trade enables foreign companies to trade just as efficiently, easily, and effectively as domestic producers”. It would seem clear to me that the big boys have a head start as their business is already up and running and highly organised.

www.wisegeek.com/what-is-free-trade.htm

The first free trade agreement (FTA) was between America and Israel in 1985. This was followed by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994 between the USA, Canada and Mexico. FTA’s were not simply to be about trade but to encapsulate a moral imperative.

“The net effect of the new FTAs on other countries involved should also be beneficial but much more significant than the effects on the United States because of the much smaller size of these countries”. Bruce Arnold, US Congressional Budget Office, July 2003.

www.policyalmanac.org/economic/archivefree_trade_agreements.shtml

However, in practice the policy does not seem to have worked to the benefit of the smaller economic state. In 2002 it was recorded that trade between Israel, Canada, Mexico and Jordan and the USA was: the others received 37.2% of American exports but supplied 31% of US imports. That is a significant disparity. We have to assume, Mr Arnold had not seen the figures before his speech. Twenty years later and the Economist (January 2014) suggest that Mexico has benefitted greatly because of inward investment and a developed manufacturing base. However, it hasn’t slowed the immigration from Mexico or the number below the poverty line.

www.economist.com/news/leaders/2159261

Moreover, Denise H. Froning writing in 2000 pointed out that trade is the bedrock of American prosperity. She is fond of the adjective ‘stellar’ in describing the benefits of free trade to the American economy between 1990/2000, she found that during the period the US economy grew by 23% and added $2.1 trillion to its coffers. She also managed to throw a carrot to America’s partners, “Free trade helps to spread the value of freedom, reinforce the rule of law, foster economic development in poor countries”. Well, I suppose the poor should be grateful for some titbits. Or was she hinting they should adopt American culture?

www.heritage.org/research/reports/2000/08/

What has become clear is the impact of NAFTA on America’s partners:

  • Family run farms in Mexico are fast disappearing.
  • Increased dependency of Mexico on imported food.
  • USA and Canadian companies could dump their waste products in Mexico bypassing their own national laws.

www.debate.yukozimo.com/pros-and-cons-of-free-trade/

It has been argued that over one (1) million Mexican farmers have lost their jobs since the introduction of NAFTA. Texas, on the other hand has benefitted from the import/export flow of trade as has America as a whole. A major consequence has been the doubling of immigration into America in that period.(pee man)

www.smallbusiness.chron.com/north-american-trade-agreement

An eminent economist, Ha-Jong Chang, ranked among the world’s top thinkers in 2013 has stated clearly, “The free market does not exist”. He can be bold in his statement, without contradiction, because nearly every country operates some form of tariff, tax or subsidy to protect a specific industry. From, 23 Things You Didn’t Know About Capitalism (2011) cited by www.truth-out.org/news/item/

Read about Ha-Jong Chang at: www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ha-Jong-Chang

th9A01CFI4Chang’s argument is that the developed nations have had a long period of gestation, and with the extensive use of protective tariffs, taxes and subsidy to build their economies. A further point raised by Chang is the productivity gap between the thCAF0PORYdeveloped and developing world is still quite wide. The technology available to the big boys far outstrips anything the locals can muster.

In today’s world of multinationals and with internal markets satiated the need for expansion is obvious. What better way and with competitive advantage to forward the concept of free trade? “…competitive advantage is a key determinant of superior performance and it will ensure survival and prominent placing in the market”. Multinational companies have substantial resources and can badger and bully when occasion arises. The big boys can bring economies of scale and can undercut any competitor until they have secured the market.

th5DOBCQG5

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Competitive_advantagethRAQAJJJT

 

 

 

For a detailed economic explanation see: www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparative_advantage

We have the story in the UK whereby, Google, Starbucks, Amazon etc. operate openly making ££billions but have their offices sited elsewhere to avoid the payment of tax. Wringing the last drop of blood from the stone is obviously their motto, as this serves to boost the top dog’s bonus. Could the government of the UK tell them to politely leave, perhaps, but the President of the USA would be on the phone so quick and his roar so deafeningly loud, it would initiate a swift change of direction.

However, Steven E. Landsburg suggests, “Free trade creates winners and losers, but theory and empirical evidence show that the size of the winnings from free trade are larger than the losses”. The statement has a semblance of truth to it, but who are the winners and losers and how much is ‘theory’ and how much ‘empirical’. If we look again at the consequences of NAFTA, the small family farmers were definite losers and the big agricultural companies of America the beneficiaries.

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_trade

To overcome the perceived difficulties of whoever wins and who loses some economists have come forward with a scheme whereby developing nations should look to specializing, to focus on one or two crops or particular raw material. The problem with that scenario is that dependency on single elements of trade can be a hindrance, as the country would need to import all other requirements. A crop can fail and extraction of raw materials may have to be given over to a multinational company who have the means but who would set the scale of return. Any such scheme creates too big a dependency gamble.

The multinationals have the power to set up anywhere, use local labour, including child labour to maximize their return (profit).They easily circumvent the moral aspect by outsourcing to sweatshops and thus are one step removed from the work and pay conditions. If they were to follow labour law implicit in their home country that would make a substantial difference to the local population, as hinted at by Bruce Arnold. However, there would be no point in them being there!

thCASYM14SAlas the name of the game is to grab what you can while you can – tomorrow’s another day. On news reports we can see kids wearing T shirts in war zones advertising US brands even if the conflict is anti-American. There is no moral or ethical code in the capitalist handbook, so there is little purpose in reading the book to find a hidden grain of empathy.

Meanwhile, major supermarket chains are clambering over each other to distance themselves from the horror story of shrimp/prawn fishing in Thailand. A report by Annie Kelly 30th July 2014 for the Guardian has highlighted a story of the slavery of fishermen, “who are bought and sold like cattle and kept on ships for years”. The blind eye syndrome has worked until the hell was exposed. The chain stores are cancelling contracts with CP Foods fast as the consequence could be the loss of custom through bad publicity. People power! Will it improve the lives of the fishermen; only as long as the spotlight remains beamed on the situation!

www.theguardian.com/uk-news/

While the big boys are having a ‘jolly’ abroad, back home thousands may have been sacked and been forced onto welfare. The cost is borne by those still in work through their taxes, and not counting the social cost of divorce, separation, repossession etc. Many will be forced to work zero hour contracts, not knowing if they are getting a full wage and able to pay their weekly bills.

Doing business abroad is all about finances. The average wage in China is around 10% of the US. In India it’s a mere 2% of the American wage. I would love to believe in the altruism of the big boys but it looks like their wallets are telling a different story. Capital and Moral will never be lovers!

What they are doing is spreading Western culture. Japan is unrecognisable from the period before the Second World War. We can see the same departure taking place in China through the distribution of wealth. There are thousands of shabby factories throughout China employing millions of cheap or virtual slave labour.

An example of conditions faced by the workers in China was brought about by an explosion at a factory close to Shanghai, which polished wheel hubs for the likes of General Motors. Seventy –five died and 185 were injured. An examination of the factory found: safety facilities were poor, the working environment was terrible and production methods were illegal. Reuters, 4th August 2014 Contrast that with the emergence of a new super rich class and all the bling money can buy. Why is a so called Communist country allowing free reign to a gang of nihilists who oppose the regime? This is a first, a welcome mat for colonialists!

In December 2013 the WTO met in Bali, Malaysia, this was a continuation of the Doha Development Round initiated in 2001, with the aim to spread the uptake of free trade agreements. Twelve years and still no firm decisions would suggest that not everyone is in favour of free trade. At the meeting several delegates sought a reduction of subsidies in operation in the developed countries. India demanded to keep their subsidy which America opposed. A number of South American states demanded that the USA should end its embargo of Cuba. The USA is viewed as the architect of free trade, but acts contrary when the policy interferes with the nation’s political stance.

www.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Trade_Organisation

The case of India’s subsidy was left in abeyance and will be discussed and clarified within the next four (4) years. India mirrors China in its dichotomy of wealth distribution and with the use of cheap and slave labour. They are merely doing what Europe and America did while building their economies.thCA6S7RJL

If we add the situation of Europe’s Common Agriculture Programme (CAP) which is heavily subsidized to that of India’s subsidy we end up with quite a distorted picture of free trade. If free trade is so wonderful why are countries not in a stampede to join the get rich quick game? Politics will determine the fate of free trade and that’s how the people can have an influence. Use your vote but use it wisely!

th60L2SFC9The notion that free trade helps poor countries is hogwash. Free trade was conceived by business for business to gain an automatic entry ticket into countries that might otherwise have blocked them or placed severe restrictions on their products or intentions. Business is all about competitive advantage and the maximizing of returns.

Free trade amounts to the multinationals coming and taking over whatever industry that exists be it technological or agricultural. Also, the big boys have wares to sell and they can sell more than anyone at a price that their competitors can’t match. In that way the big boys sap the energy, the ingenuity, initiative and thus the motivation out of a country.

It is not about the law of supply and demand as demand can be created artificially; that’s what advertisements help with. Find a product that gives a sense of individuality and you have a winner e.g. smart phones, cars, fashion and bank cards none of these are essential items but don’t tell the baa,baas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social Dmocracy:Blind Man’s Buff (Blindland 9)

Social democracy (SD) the harbinger of change was planned to transform society for the good, to the betterment of all. As society progressed through the social democratic vision the poor would gather the greatest harvest. In general terms the whole of societythBHNITY72 nationally and internationally would accrue a massive uplifting. Oops, the bubble burst! All the thinking, all the slogging, all the good intentions to make the world a better place thwarted by a little pinprick of a gene called self.

The promise of a better world, dating back to the late 19th century, has been left by the roadside. The thoughts of Lassalle, of Marx and Engels among a host of thinking people who tried to give a scientific rationale to accomplishing socialism, gather dust.

From the start there was contradiction on the best way forward, revolution, proposed by Marx or evolution which was to win the day. Marx (1878) would eventually accept that parliamentary democracy could secure better conditions for the workers and social democracy became the main vehicle to drive the whole of society forward.

It was in Germany with Ferdinand Lassalle followed by August Babel and Wilhelm Liebknecht (1869) that the Social Democratic Party (SPD) would be founded. Latterly, Eduard Bernstein would add his considerable intellect to the debate and it is he who is generally viewed as the main proponent of the social democratic ethic: “… a better society can be achieved by working within the existing political order”. www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/551073/social-democracy

In the UK the voices of the Fabian Society and the Independent Labour Party (ILP) gave their weight to the peaceful route. Only where no democracy existed did revolution occur, Russia 1917 and China 1948. As the franchise was extended it was the obvious hope that the majority, the lower classes, would hold the balance of power and the Social Democrats would have all the power necessary to implement the changes to benefit all.

The stimulus for these pioneers to put themselves at the vanguard of revolutionary change was more than self-interest. Their altruism was fed I’m sure by the horror of everyday life which they witnessed unfold before them; the abject poverty of the many as opposed to the spectacular opulence of the few. These thinkers were not looking for recognition to enhance their financial state, they genuinely believed in the betterment of mankind.

Over the years some significant changes did materialize in the UK, the vote for women 1918/ 1928. The rise of the Labour Party as a credible opposition and Party of power which would lead to the seismic shift in 1945/51 with the nationalisation of many industries and the setting up of the National Health Service (NHS). The welfare state has without doubt saved many, many people from fear and anxiety and saved many lives.

Defining social democracy also has its contradictions:

  • Political ideology that advocates a peaceful, evolutionary transition of society from capitalism to socialism using established political processes.   Britannica Concise Encyclopaedia
  • Social democracy is a general term for political doctrines that claim an important role for the State and the community in shaping and directing a society’s economic and social life. www.sociologyindex.com/social_democracy.htm

Note the omission of ‘from capitalism to socialism’. The Times they are a changin’ Bob Dylan

Major changes were afoot in 1959 when the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) dropped its Marxist programme which it had held since the days of Babel and Liebknecht in 1869. In that same year 1959, Hugh Gaitskell the leader of the Labour Party (UK) tried to do the same but was outvoted. A portend for the future, Margaret Thatcher became an MP. It seems that being electable became the prime focus. Being elected is fine, if the politicians, once elected provide some legislative muscle to the benefit of the people. Instead the politicians recognised the growing global economy and didn’t know how to deal with it.

Entrenchment and a narrowing of outlook dominated the thinking of the hard core socialists. The Left held on like bindweed but with little hope of choking the life out of capitalism. A few concessions here and there maintained the Left’s belief but politics was no longer about the big picture of socialism; the massaging of capitalism was the new vade mecum. The other problem for the Left was that the electorate were on the move too and the old tired message of socialism had lost its impetus.

thBZNBAEI3Unfortunately, socialism came to conjure up a picture of the little Red Book of Mao Zedong, of everyone dressing the same, of repression and monotony. The Cold War of Gulags and the Berlin Wall allowed the Gibbers of the media to exercise their wit and their propaganda sang like a bird on the wire. For some, socialism was devoid of emotional input and of exhalation. Individualism had become the key to self-fulfilment, the condition manufactured and satiated by the multinationals. The thinkers had gone to make a career for themselves in TV etc. And the fast buck became the essential buck.

One of the few concessions made came in 1976 when the Germans spread the notion of workers participation via Co-determination, first introduced in 1951. Naturally, the new law was bitterly opposed by the employers. A year later the Bullock Report commissioned by Harold Wilson of the Labour Party proposed the introduction of Co-determination in the UK but it never happened. A few years later the EU tried to introduce the Fifth Directive which would have granted workers’ rights similar to the German model but it was allowed to drift beyond the clouds.

www.eurofound.europa.eu/emire/GERMANY/CODETERMINATION-DE.htm

The spiral downwards speeded up during the seventies and the eighties. Crippling inflation of 25%+ in the UK saw the Labour government introduce wage restraint, it worked, and inflation gradually fell. However, the cost was borne by the workers’ as wages did not keep pace with the cost of living. James Callaghan who had taken over from Harold Wilson in 1976 kept wages in check. In 1978 when Callaghan had an opportunity to go to the polls he forwent the chance and continued the policy of wage restraint.

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labour_Party_(UK)

Disaster struck in the form of the Winter of Discontent when union members came out in droves. The scale of the strikes and the nature of them, dead not buried, meant the Gibbers in the media created stories of hell. People were disgusted by the actions of some unionists and come the next election (1979) Margaret Thatcher was elected the new Conservative Prime Minister.

Between 1980 & 1993 there were six major pieces of legislation that boxed the unions in. The miners’ strike of 1984/5, which Thatcher had prepared for and won, allowed her a free hand to bind the unions more thoroughly than ever. Union membership has fallen since; from 13m in the 1980s to just over 7m in 2000 and below 6m by 2012. www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trade_unions_in_the_United_Kingdom

During her period in power Margaret Thatcher was to batter at and bring down the ramparts of old Labour. Under privatization of Water, Electricity, British Gas and BT and several others the self-gene was let loose and people rushed to buy shares. Share ownership rose from 7% to 25%. The sale of council houses likewise brought its own stampede with over one million being sold. The gold rush was on and all the Left could do was watch.

The final blow to any pretence that social democracy still held a glimpse of a socialist future came from the Trojan Horse of New Labour. “These days, many social democrats are largely indistinguishable from their Conservative opponents, as a result of both types of parties converging around the centre of the political spectrum”. www.rationalwiki.org/wiki/social_democracy

And so it proved when Tony Blair became leader of Labour. He set the warning flare in 1994 with an article in the Fabian magazine and in a special Easter conference in 1995 sealed the fate of Clause 1V. (Sydney Webb 1917) However, the game had long been up for the social democrats since the Bad Godesberg conference in 1959. It was clear that the leadership both in Germany and the UK where seeing the world from a different perspective than the traditionalist. When the mind has wondered off course it is easy to get lost, or find what you have been looking for.

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clause_1V

Leszek Kolakowski in 1982 pointed out that social democrats merely offer, “…an obstinate will to erode by inches the conditions which produce avoidable suffering, oppression, hunger, wars, racial and national hatred, insatiable greed and vindictive envy.” Quoted from Ben Jackson

www.academia.edu/1763736/Social_Democracy

By ‘inches’ will take a very long time and the idea of socialism will have disappeared into the fog of history. For example, the social democrats control the EU but have failed to utilise that power. The EU is essentially an economic club to assist the nations of Europe to fare better in the global market. Therefore workers’ rights are not a priority and if challenged the EU leadership will bring out their present stock answer; if the workers fail to let them control the vagaries of capitalism there will be no treats. And there you have it children, capitalism is the one true master. Overlords rule, ok!

In the UK the outlook is cloudy, e.g. Anthony Giddens in his book: Beyond Left and Right: The Future of Radical Politics writes, “Socialism is the pursuit of ideas of social cooperation, universal welfare, and equality-ideas brought together by the condemnation of the evils and injustices of capitalism. It is based on the critique of individualism and depends on a belief in group action and ‘participation’, and collective responsibility for social welfare”. Has it not always been so? Giddens has his detractors and so the squabble goes on. www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_democracy

Meanwhile, the Labour Party leaders of the past walk hand in hand with their partners along a secluded beach: the Kinnock’s walk away to make their millions (£), the Blair’s do likewise, and the Miliband’s will likely continue the trend. Where’s Robin Hood when you need him, alas, he’s just a fictional character! Obviously they have never read, William Blake:

I will not cease from Mental Fight,

Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand

Till we have built Jerusalem

In England’s green & pleasant Land.

The Oxford Library of English Poetry Vol: 2 edited by John Wain

th171YMN79The Left have long been lost and have lost the prospect of galvanizing the people even with essentials like human rights. They have turned the issue into a peepshow by advocating the rights of individuals to have a sex change and legal assistance for illegal

Human Rights at a glance

Human Rights at a glance

immigrants. They were batted off the field when the Conservatives pushed through same sex marriage in church. Thus a trivial tit-for-tat plays out while the need for real human rights continues unabated: slavery, child labour, mass sexual exploitation of women and children, et cetera. Human Rights have become a money spinning industry, in need of a soul.

Environmental issues are also a graveyard for the Left as they try to cherry pick specific areas such as fracking. The opponents of fracking probably turn up in their cars and use their smart phones to implore others to join them; meanwhile, taking pics of police brutality. And not a moment’s thought about their personal carbon footprint. No thought either for the slave labour used to manufacture the phones or the carbon cost of the car. Phones and cars are a tangible experience of individualism and are viewed as essential items; being such they have become divorced from conscious thought about others misery and global warming. Dah!

 

Multiculturalism: Dam to Progress. (Blindland 8)

Multiculturalism is the great hope of the Liberal elite and the offspring the politically

Utopia?

Utopia?

correct (PC) claque. For them the concept is self-explanatory; we all live in the one nation and we must therefore be tolerant towards all other sections of society no matter their religion, ethnic origin or culture. That this policy has been adopted by the government is a cause for celebration for the advocates of multiculturalism. This is after all a great pluralist experiment which illustrates how we can all live in a cohesive, cross pollinating vibrant way. An alternative view would suggest that multiculturalism is not a panacea for the new world but a barrier to change.

It is an ideal world where everyone is different but can understand and accept the ways of others. Where there is no conflict of ideas or of methods of doing things. No one culture dominates. We are equals but own our separate identities. Is such a society any less utopian than Christianity, than Communism? What happens when one or more cultures decide not to accept further change, want to remain steadfast to the ancient ways. Are the leaders of those cultures entitled to force their community to adhere to that diktat? Would each group/community have their own schools to teach their perspective on life or would all schools be forced to teach an all embracing curriculum?

There is a powerful tendency for new migrants to band together in close-knit communities where they feel more relaxed, more likely to receive a welcome and initial help. However, these same communities tend to consolidate in that area. Few venture beyond its confines into the wider society. They become insular, they shop at ethnic stores and the store owners buy from ethnic cash and carry establishments. In that sense they become entombed in the culture they left behind, which is contrary to integration. In their area the old culture dominates and its archaic customs prevail.

The holding on to one’s culture is in contrast to the view of Will Kymlicka a strong advocate of multiculturalism, “Immigrants chose to relinquish access to their native culture by migrating”. www.plato.stanford.edu/entries/multicultualism/

Multiculturalism thus builds its own barriers, “Diversity can and has meant the creation of religious ghettoes with little traffic between or among them”. Diana L. Eck, Pluralism project at Harvard University. In such circumstances as ghettoes it is little wonder that the old ways predominate. In some communities we have the emergence of ‘patriarchal cultures’ and internal discrimination against residents of those communities.

In the recent past we have had stories highlighted on news bulletins about; vote rigging in Council elections (UK) and the more barbaric female genital mutilation (FGM). Of course such practices are widely condemned by the government and have been given due prominence in the national media. The Independent, 03/07/2014 reported that

children never win

children never win

some 170,000 women and girls living in Britain have suffered FGM and a further 65,000 girls under 13 years are at risk. The paper cites the government’s Home Affairs Select Committee as denouncing the practice of FGM as an “extreme form of child abuse”. The practice has been illegal since 1985 but obviously continues. An estimated 125 million females have suffered FGM worldwide.

Another cultural custom is that of ‘arranged marriages’ whereby young women/girls are taken from their country of birth (UK) to be married in some Asian nation. As with FGM, arranged marriages are illegal in the UK but the law is ignored. The numbers of those females affected clearly point to widespread abuse and thP5JCL2I0a total disregard for the rule of law in the UK. The practices are an anachronism in today’s society and anathema to equality. “Like it or not-and many from Plato to Marx have disliked it-law is the central concept in human society; without it, indeed, there would be no society”. Quoted from Lloyd’s The Idea of Law 1966 www.jstor.org/discovery/10.2307/

The young people who follow the jihadist trail to Syria would suggest that some communities are lost to UK society when grouped with FGM, ballot rigging and forced marriage. The gulf between us seems unbridgeable, “Mere diversity without real encounter and relationship will yield increasing tensions in our societies”. The isolation of some groups maybe the result of intimidation, indoctrination, fear or belief; nonetheless, if a majority think contrary to the practices mentioned but remain silent, the wider public are left to assume whatever they wish. www.plualism.org/pages/pluralism/what_is_pluralism

Moreover, those who promote multiculturalism and representation of minorities on various political bodies are in fact saying that democracy is inefficient to meet their particular mindset. However, to deny the principle of democracy is to deny the ‘rights’ of the majority population. It is the notion of democratic rights that maintains consensus which allows society to continue on a peaceful course. To undermine the democratic principle would be to undermine one of the main tenets of our society. But as with the pluralists, the liberal elite and the claque seem to have little regard for democracy and the “stolid mass”. Michael Young

A considerable number of the websites visited about this subject matter stress the point of no one culture being dominant. If no culture is to dominate does that include language? Would everyone in the country need to become multilingual? In his book, Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam highlighted a poignant observation; while the folks he studied did not display any overt racism, “Rather, inhabitants of diverse communities tend to withdraw from collective life, to distrust their neighbours”.

It also raises a very pertinent question about democracy and the place of the majority population. Under a democratic framework the majority vote holds sway and therefore it is anticipated that the majority culture will likewise take precedence. To undermine democracy is to let the dogs out and the consequences could be severe.

I would assume that the Liberal elite and their PC claque are not advocating a duality of rights and a duality of law in the country. And hopefully they would not countenance turning a blind eye towards inequality. Nonetheless, it is the Liberal elite and their claque that have demonised the ordinary Joe for not being tolerant. In its strictest sense, “Tolerance is a necessary public virtue, but does not require Christians and Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and ardent secularists to know anything about each other”. Pluralism .org (ibid) A duality of approach would be a seed for the most pernicious weed.

Furthermore, a tolerant society is not one which fails to challenge inequities of any nature. A tolerant society is one that insists that all are treated equally, has a transparency of objectives, with an expectation that all will abide by. However, ‘all’ does not mean ‘all’ to the liberal elite, the claque and their pluralist soul mates. Therein lies the base hypocrisy of this elitist brigade. They talk boldly about equality but massage its definition.

There are two key issues that sum up an equal society, the place of women and the rights of children. For me a woman’s right is quite straightforward: any woman must be able to walk down any street at any time with any one of her choice and have that choice accepted as normal.

As for children they must have the right to grow and be educated without any form of indoctrination. Decisions on religion etc. can be taken by the individual once they have reached an age of maturity, at present 18 years. This may accelerate change in ways we can’t quite grasp at this time but that is the nature of some change. We can jockey with equality through the smokescreen of our politics until the concept becomes meaningless or step back from our biases and truly put children first.

Multiculturalism as noted has not achieved the desired result and we now have communities stuck in their narrow outlook. This creates a polarization on all sides. Diversity thus becomes a drag on building a better society. It condemns many within some groups from experiencing the full rigour of the culture of the wider society and vice versa. It becomes a system of enclosures that allows better control by the Overlords. Multiculturalism is therefore an anchor on progress.

Moreover, culture is a transient phenomenon, look no further than gay rights and our more open society. How different is today’s world from that of the 1950s? This was not a forced change but a gradual transition from the 1945 election, the Teddy Boys, and the Hippie period of the early 1960s. The advent of mass media, its exploitation and the growth of multinational companies, all brought new ideas in a whirlwind. Thus culture is a temporary chain, a chain made from rope which will eventually rot. If culture is a chain made of titanium then we must ready ourselves for many wars ahead.

Note the sentiment of E. Adamson Hoebel, “Hoebel describes culture as an integrated system of learned behaviour patterns which are characteristic of members of a society and which are not a result of biological inheritance”. www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture

We can all learn new behaviours!