Affirmative Action: A Dodo in the Nest

Banksy

Banksy

Affirmative action was introduced in the USA in the 1960s in an attempt to address previous discrimination. To this day it is a very controversial topic with clear political divisions. Arguments range from the common good to forcing some to accept the sins of the father.

It is an emotive subject which brings bias bursting out as a good kick at a wasps nest might do. Was it a purely political decision to calm and contain the fervour of the period, with the emergence of the Civil Rights Movement?  If that is the case then the opposition can claim it had an inherent bias. Others will argue that the Kennedy period was a progressive one.

An important question arises as to whether we can ever right the wrongs of the past. America was a politically divided society then and, things ain’t changed much. Bryan Magee suggests an answer, “[I]f all individuals have equal moral claims it is wrong to sacrifice one generation to the next.”1

However, Noam Chomsky takes a different view when he states that anyone opposing affirmative action is accepting the ‘oppressive’ and ‘discriminatory’ measures of the past. He is 100% wrong! He himself hints at problems when he says “…you find plenty of things to criticize.” 2

A very important point is raised by Chomsky that affirmative action should not, “…harm poor people who don’t happen to be in the categories designated for support.” (p211) That’s probably most of the poorest in society.

The issue of poverty is raised by Michael Sandel when he cites the case of Cheryl Hopwood. 3 This was a young woman raised by a single parent who worked her way through the education system. She gained the appropriate grades and applied to the Texas Law School. Her application was turned down. It emerged that students from minority backgrounds with less impressive scores all gained entrance. Hopwood who is white thought her rejection was unfair; she took the university to court. She lost.

The university won its case by citing its affirmative action policy which committed it to accepting about 15% of entrants from a minority background. A quota? At the time African Americans and Mexican Americans accounted for about 40% of the population of Texas.

That the law sanctioned affirmative action does not by itself make it logical or just. A legal mind is also subject to a political outlook; hence each elected president attempts to have the Supreme Court at least balanced if not skewed in their favour. Political bias can sway the greatest minds e.g. Plato – closed society and Aristotle – slavery.

And so it would seem with legal judgements on affirmative action:

  • 1996 US Court of Appeals ruled that affirmative action could not be a factor on admission decisions as it violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
  • 2003 US Supreme Court upheld that affirmative action can be applied as a mechanism by a vote of 5-4.
  • 2014 US Supreme Court ruled that voters can prohibit affirmative action in public universities by 6 – 2.

It might just be me but I detect some political bias at play in these decisions or am I just being politically biased.

To return to the Hopwood case, it would seem to me that she fitted the criteria that the system should not ‘harm poor people’ as suggested by Chomsky. I am also intrigued by the description of affirmative action by the National Conference of State Legislatures,

“In institutions of higher education affirmative action refers to admission policies that provide equal access to education for those groups that have been historically excluded or underrepresented, such as women and minorities.” 4

I suspect that that was written after the Hopwood case.

The rational of affirmative action is to create a ‘more equitable and just society for the future’ Chomsky, (p211) and to advance ‘a socially worthy aim’ Sandel (p171); who could argue with these sentiments. But is this what Popper would describe as ‘piecemeal social engineering’ (PSE)? Magee (107) And can PSE be justified on any grounds, some may consider it a close relative to fascism. This may seem rather strong but can manipulation ever be justified.

In recent years countries of Europe have taken a different stance: the UK has a clear policy that any discrimination, quotas, or favouritism is illegal. Sweden passed a law in 2012 that says that all students must face the same requirements for entry. 5 This draws us back to the view of Popper and Magee.

A more equitable society would doubtless benefit everyone. However, in implementing affirmative action was it the hope or intention that the minority candidates would emerge to become ambassadors for their ethnic body.

An alternative view would be that they take the money and run. Will they remain in the

Need we say more?

Need we say more?

neighbourhood – unlikely? If successful are they more likely to move to a nice suburb and join the country club – likely, if they have a wad of dollars. A further alternative view is that Hopwood being female and from a modest background would also understand the concept of barriers and may have become a better, stronger advocate of human rights than her minority counterparts.

Perhaps, all along, the plan was to build a middle class of the minority population and thereby secure the future of the system. A new Praetorian Guard? The World Values Survey study by Ronald Inglehart, suggests that the middle class and working class tend to drift apart on most issues. 6

The drift between the classes is no doubt due in part to income differentials, the gap is growing wider and this gets reflected in the social and educational environment. Which basically means that the poor get crapped on from on high. As a society we are pulling apart and as we do so tension grows. Not just between the rich and poor but also in ethnic terms, it’s the old survival syndrome.

When positing the idea that America could become a color-free country Chomsky sadly admits, “I don’t think it’s going to happen”. (p122) The question is why not? There is no political will to rock the boat of the capitalist system. Politicians may do a lot of tinkering but never advocate a serious shift away from the super rich. Politicians are dominated by the theory of the market but perhaps Ha-Joon Chang can open up a new avenue for exploration:

“The economy is much bigger than the market. We will not be able to build a good economy – or a good society – unless we look at the vast expanse beyond the market” 7

We don’t need the overthrow of the system just a better use of the available resources. Joseph Stiglitz highlights one glaring example of where progress can be made when writing about university entrance “Only around 9% come from the bottom half of the population, while 74% come from the top quarter”. 8 Francis Fukuyama also suggests that education is a key to the future. (p451)

Many writers point to the uncertainty that grows with the gap in inequality. In the long-term democracy may be in danger. Thus making politicians more accountable and responsive to the electorate is crucial for the health of a nation.

The new media, the net and social media can play a significant role in opening a discussion with ordinary Joe. A blog that addresses serious issues in a language that all can access may promote greater participation. This would be enhanced by powerful names being associated with the writing. It may generate an army of opposition but then you know it’s working.

Common good thinkers must come from behind their intellectual retreat and reach out to the citizenry. Otherwise they might wither behind their curtain with their frustration, pipe and slippers.

Do some good join Robin Hood!

  1. Popper Bryan Magee (p103) + (107)
  2. How the World Works (p212) + (122)
  3. Justice What’s the Right Thing to Do? Michael J. Sandel (p167) + (p171)
  4. www.ncsl.org/research/
  5. www.en.m.wikipedia.org
  6. Political Order and Political Decay Francis Fukuyama (p 441) + (451)
  7. Economics: The User’s Guide Ha-Joon Chang (p456)
  8. The Price of Inequality Joseph E. Stiglitz (p24)
  9. www.upoak.com

 

Taming the Beast (5)

Democracy in Peril!

th[3]There is fear in the air, a fear that Europe is about to be sold off to American multinationals via TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). Concern has arisen because of a lack of information and of consultation by the EU Commission. Secrecy breeds doubt and scepticism. It allows a host of posits to be formulated and truth becomes the preserve of the speaker. Trust in the government system has been damaged by the Commission.

It is not simply the usual activists bawling their voices hoarse. The number demanding

If only it was about food waste.

assurances is considerable. The bbc1 report a huge demonstration in Berlin with over 100,000 in attendance. Demonstrations also took place in Madrid and other centres, caused by the ‘confidential talks’ that were taking place.

According to waronwant2 an online petition had already secured over 3.3 million signatories Europe-wide. War on Want point to several areas which may be under threat from TTIP: social standards, environmental regulation, labour rights, food safety and an opening up of the public sector to privatisation.

A further challenge comes from German small and medium enterprises (SME). This new group of business people have reservations about how TTIP will affect their livelihoods. They accuse the Commission, “The EU delegation has already caved in, weakening the standards associated with the carcinogenic Captan pesticide”.3   (Apparently it makes fruit look pretty4/5). The group are organising nationwide events to raise public awareness and are hopeful of adding another 5,000 businesses to their growing membership.

Anxiety is further heightened by a report in theguardian6. It notes that several documents from the EU dealing with correspondence between the Commission and oil companies were “heavily redacted”. Also, that detail of meetings with ExxonMobil and General Electric were “withheld entirely”.

Moreover, Lee Williams writing in the Independent newspaper voices7  endorses the analysis of War on Want but adds that most of the available information has come from leaked documents or freedom of information requests.

thHDQGIV03He brings our attention to ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlements) which many view as a direct threat to democracy. The case of the Swedish company Vattenfall is cited as they pursue the German government in court for reducing spending on their nuclear power generation. Williams suggests that there are some 500 such cases around the globe.

The article goes on to list a number of concerns with the trade talks. In particular, that th5GR2D1P370% of processed food in America uses GMO (Genetically modified organisms). The use of growth hormones in cattle while widespread in America is restricted in Europe. It is an obvious no-brainer that US businesses will insist on expanding this trade in Europe. The EU has virtually no GMO!

Furthermore, while Europe bans 1,200 substances from cosmetics the US only bans 12. Can we realistically keep our doors firmly locked against these products?

thABKKZDBBHowever, the area which caught my attention was the REACH regulations of the EU. These stipulate that goods must be proven to be safe before use. But, in America use is permitted until proven unsafe. Hands up if you want to be a guinea pig!

Another critical worry is that of data protection. According to opendemocracy8 the European Court of Justice has ruled that the US is not allowed to collect data about EU citizens. However, the article suggests there is “strong evidence” that Google, Facebook, IBM and Hewlett-Packard are lobbying intensely for a relaxation of the ruling. As you may have guessed, America does not have strong data protection.

The Empire Strikes Back

Cecila Malmstrom the EU Trade Commissioner has come back at the critics determinedly. She gives 10 straight No’s to: privatisation, treated beef, food safety and a categorical NO to a reduction in standards describing them as myths9.

In the UK we can already witness creeping privatisation in education and of the NHS. There’s a little procedure in the NHS which allows patients to make a choice of hospital, it’s called ‘choose and book’. It seems a minor intrusion but is a Trojan horse of massive proportions. There is an estimated 1250 private hospitals in the UK and expanding quickly.

The Commissioner claims that the negotiations are as open as possible. The phrase ‘as possible’ is a money sign to a lawyer and a credible doubt to a member of the public. It is well documented that MEPs had to seek permission to read some documents in a closed environment. This restriction has recently been lifted.

Furthermore, the evidence of the Guardian, the Independent, Open Democracy and SME of Germany tends to shed a different light on proceedings. Therefore peoples’ disquiet cannot simply be dismissed. In the latest draft the Commission has made a concession to include better access to information for small and medium companies after severe criticism from SME.

The Commission’s submission on trade and sustainable development, a whole chapter, states that there will be no relaxation on the EU’s present laws and commitments. That it will maintain all regulation based on ILO (International Labour Organisation) Decent Work Agenda. That such a commitment is not negotiable. But, in the small print the Commissioner accepts that the US and EU have different strategies on labour and environment and it may come down to legal interpretation.

We should also consider the view of America’s trade unions that recognise that Europe has much higher standards and warns:

“…U.S. – EU agreement must not be used as a tool to deregulate or drive down these higher standards. If that is the goal, working families of both regions will pay the price.”10

Perhaps the greater concern is ISDS, reassigned by the Commission as ICS (Investment Court System). The whole concept of a court deciding and/or overriding the democratic rights of the electorate leaves me cold.

Cecila Malmstrom believes she has tightened the legal framework by insisting on qualified judges and a guarantee of an appeal. Her proposal will ‘enshrine’ a government’s right to regulate.

There are several issues with this court. It reads like a massive money spinner for legal teams. Interpretation of the law will become critical to any judgement and could be determined by the political bias of the legal mind.

If government can regulate (enshrined) and thus change the law to suit, will this not make the court null and void. When a company decides to challenge a national decision, must the court rule on existing law or EU law? Is there any possibility to introduce retrospective legislation? Or are we all aboard the EU ship?

There are doubts by the boat load. Minor and major concerns and a lack of detail about the process sees these concerns grow deeper.

thKF8B2C69The Commission are undertaking a charm offensive but the damage has been done; trust in the integrity and the ethics of the deal has soured many minds. There is no doubt the deal is about profit not people.

References:

  1. www.bbc.co.uk/new/world-europe-34807494
  2. www.waronwant.org/What-ttip
  3. www.euractiv.com/sections/trade-society/smes-want-ttip-rethink-319822
  4. www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captan
  5. 5. sitem.herts.ac.uk/aeru/ppdb/en/Reports
  6. 6. theguardian.com/environment/2015/nov/26/ttip
  7. 7. independent.co.uk/voices/comment/what-is-ttip-and-six-reasons-why-the-answer-should-scare-you-9779688.html
  8. www.opendemocracy.net
  9. www.ec.europa.ea/trade/policy/in-focus/ttip

www.trade.ec.europa.ea/doclib/press/index.cfm?id=1364      also 1396 + 1393

www.bookshop.europa.eu/en/the-top-10-myths-about-ttip-pbNG0614128/

  1. www.aflcio.org/issues/Trade/U.S.-Free-Trade-Agreement-TTIP

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Taming the Beast (4)

On the Road to Human Progress

Can it be achieved? Yes! However, there has to be a clear recognition and understanding of the forces opposed to any proposed change. They will not go gently into that goodnight, to paraphrase Dylan Thomas. The road to human progress takes strong legs and a stout heart. There has to be a clear-sighted commitment to an agreed agenda.

One challenge will be to overcome the persistent onslaught of propaganda, marketed by specialist teams whose role it is to manipulate our thinking. An inundation from sections of the media will stir the emotions of many and leave others perplexed. This can only be overcome by a consistent voice hammering the same points in innovative ways. Think Banksy!

History supports the idea of a successful economy for the majority. The period 1945 – 1973 is considered the Golden Age of capitalism as economist Ha-Joon Chang points out,

“The Golden Age shows that capitalism’s potential can be maximized when it is properly regulated and stimulated by appropriate government actions”. Economics: The User’s Guide (p87)

A supportive view is expounded by the economist Dani Rodrik, The Globalization Paradox (p22)

“Every well-functioning market economy blends state and market, laissez-faire and intervention”.

And in an earlier point:

“Markets are most developed and most effective in generating wealth when they are backed by solid governmental institutions”. (p16)

Government therefore plays a crucial role in the economic well-being of a nation but have to be aware, as Ha-Joon Chang maintains:

“The economy is much bigger than the market. We will not be able to build a good economy – or a good society – unless we look at the vast expanse beyond the market”. (p456)

It is unfortunate but at present we are tied to the austerity programme of the neo-classical economists. To them the market is the great breadwinner and should be allowed to bluster its way ahead. Of course, the market keeps stumbling and falling over and it’s the ordinary Joe that has to pay the cost of getting it back on its feet.

The neo-classical economist do not allow for the ‘cartel’ or the monopolies that develop. They cannot add to their equation the underhandedness of some players who corrupt the market in the name of profit. Nor can they equate the ruthlessness or heartlessness that the system throws up. Their only response is that the market will right itself eventually.

Millions are still waiting for the market to improve since its man-made catastrophe in 2008. The lifting and the shoring up of the market have come from government using the taxes of the people. And still we find further illegal double-dealing such as Libor in the banking sector and the Volkswagen emissions scandal.

Banksy

Banksy

The market could not have righted itself without the direct intervention of government. Government saved the day! The ordinary Joe paid with their taxes. They paid with their livelihoods; many losing their jobs. The great crash came like a tsunami through the everyday lives of millions of ordinary people. Their wages slashed, their working conditions trashed in an effort to save the market!

Lives ruined and small businesses destroyed. Then they have the audacity to expect all hands to the pump!

Henry Scott Tuke

Henry Scott Tuke

Unregulated the market fed the greed of the few. The thoughtless scramble for the quick buck, the maximization of the bottom-line, the end of year bonus, and the ultimate ME factor. The market has had its day, government must take control and regulate.

However, no government can withstand the buccaneer capitalists on its own. That is why the idea of the EU is a good one, pity it has become a burden. The EU needs to be remodelled. The bureaucracy has become a self-serving yoke dragging the whole of Europe into the deep. The bureaucracy needs to be democratized with a flag that reads transparency.

thUZ27UX9OThe people have to have trust in the leadership of the EU. The peoples trust may have been shattered by the failure to tackle Volkswagen over the car emissions. When money talks – democracy walks. Politicians should resign over their failure! Transparency, accountability generates trust; politicians must earn it!

In writing about the crash of 2008, Susanne McGee Chasing Goldman Sachs warns in a tagline:

HOW THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE MELTED WALL STREET DOWN … AND WHY THEY’LL TAKE US TO THE BRINK AGAIN.

 

 

Paris: The Aftermath.

The slaughter in Paris on Friday 13th of November 2015 was horrific. It was an unjustified attack on innocent people. Ordinary Joes’ going about enjoying their leisure time with no thought of war or any inclination towards hate. They wanted to bounce with the music; to sip their coffee and chatter, laugh, hear some gossip or watch the football match.

thC0NBALTDthE7YVRQVM

These 129 innocents were turned into agents of war. The jihadists used them in a futile gesture to bolster their cause. The French government use them as an excuse to upgrade their attacks on IS in Syria and more generally.thW8J7EPG1

The attack in Paris hurts us all in several ways. The immediate reaction is one of disbelief but when the extent of the killings becomes apparent our disbelief turns to anger and a level of intolerance creeps in. Anger can lead in many directions: simple disgust which will wane in the weeks to come but intolerance will resurface with any incident concerning Muslims.

Or it will fuel an existing anger and demand revenge, this to can dissipate with time. Then of course there is hate. Hate can lead to spontaneous actions, can be more long term and lead to extremism. Hate destroys everyone it touches.

Which of the above emotions and actions do the jihadists want? All of them! The last thing they want is community cohesion. As part of their recruitment strategy they want to drive wedges between the Muslim community and the rest. The deeper the cut they make the better their recruitment will be.

This Means War!

Hollande, the French president reacted with a typical stance.  He wanted to appear tough, to appear statesman like. The statements that followed were judged to reassure the people that the government were in control. More French planes bombed IS positions in Syria. The aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle set sail with more fighter jets.

The claim that IS has an army and has land is a false one. Their army is a muster of innocence betrayed by promise and brainwashing, of life ever after. The land they control is not a recognised country but land that has been forcibly taken. Syria and Iraq will eventually take back their land. Was Hollande legitimizing the Caliphate of IS?

In using the ‘intelligence network’ the French government did a lot of good. By establishing were the cohort of IS fighters were hold up. The assault on the flat in Saint Denis 18th November while overpowering in the extreme served a bigger purpose.

The actions at Saint Denis showed the government in control and thus helped to calm the growing anger of the general populace. The Interior Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve played a very clever card when he praised the people of Saint Denis for their “cool headedness”. The message was obvious, kept calm, we will sort it out.

This message should have been picked up by Hollande and given greater prominence. A calm response was the last thing IS wanted from the situation.

A danger exists from our own governments as they use the situation to pass ever more draconian laws. We must keep a careful eye on all that government does. Our freedoms must not be curbed under the disguise of fighting the jihadists. Democracy must not be compromised or we lose the first battle.

thCA96RI9G

Bombs will not defeat IS in Syria nor will western boots on the ground. French, British etc. putting the boot in will only

Torn Apart

Torn Apart

give credence to the myth that the West is out to smash the Muslim world. The booing at the football matches , Turkey v Greece and Ireland v Bosnia during the one minute silence in respect for the people of Paris illustrates that the west are losing the propaganda war.

thEI9ORLWT

We are all being deceived by the politics and business of the region. The Press in the West must make more of the roles of Saudi Arabia and Iran and their quest for power in the area. This political war is doing more to cripple the Middle East than anything else. They pour their money into the barbarity that is Syria in support of the warring factions but the West gets the blame.

If Saudi Arabia wants Assad out then let them bomb. Let them send in ground troops. Iran the same! The Saudis use their wealth to sponsor and equip agents to fight their seedy war. The western powers are as mercenaries doing the bidding of Saudi Arabia with the promise of good business opportunities in the future.

  1. Why has Saudi Arabia not taken refugees?
  2. Why have the nations of the Middle East not stopped the flow of migrants? Why have they not stepped in to help their fellow Muslims?

There are vast riches in the region stemming from the oil revenue yet the camps that do exist are pits of iniquity. Charities in the west are spending huge amounts to encourage us to give generously to bring water, food and medicine to these camps. Surely Saudi Arabia and/or Iran could cover such costs without much hardship. Why are they not doing so?

It was the politics and the business that took the west into the region to support Kuwait against the dictator Saddam Hussein. Here we are again! For years we tolerated the despots until more pressing business opportunities came knocking.

The real war in the region is that between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Intelligence – Intelligence – Intelligence!!!

We cannot walk away from our past exploits in the area. We are now forced to deal with IS because they have brought it to our door. Bombs and troops are an encouragement. Even if the IS can be forced from their caliphate they will not disappear. They will fragment into dangerous cells and declare ideological war on the West.

Each cell will finance itself as far as possible. Cells will blend when there’s a need. However, by organising into cells they will become weaker, less coordinated and more criminalized.

Identifying every possible member is the only hope of shutting them down permanently. It’s the old adage, take off the head and the body is useless. We must be prepared for a twenty (20) year battle.

The West caused IS!

The actions of the west did help bring it to our homelands. But then IS don’t just hate the people of the west they hate all who do not conform to their brand of extremism. They have killed far more Muslims than they have westerners. Far more!

And what of the IS fighting force?

  • Why is their army not exclusively of people from the region?
  • Why are they trying to force other Muslims to accept their interpretation of the Qur’an?
  • Why are there so many foreign delinquents in their ranks?
  • Why do they need to brainwash their recruits?

Could it be that IS has no real base among the people of the area? They are out on a limb and have become dependent on young impressionable people from the west, some estimates make it 20,000, to bolster their ranks.

There is much discussion about what motivates some young Muslim people of Europe and elsewhere to join. It is now becoming clear that many were on the fringes of their local population. Others were petty criminals.

Several analysts blame poverty and alienation as a prime cause. However, the ones who venture to Syria to join IS were not alone in suffering poverty or alienation. Poverty and alienation is a worldwide phenomenon. Any large city has its pockets of desperate poverty.

Adventure may have added spice for others and still more may not have been fully au fait with the methodology of IS before becoming part of the throng. Also, some of those who succumb to the lore of IS are highly educated and have been able to use their skills to murderous effect.

Sadly, others may have a need to belong, to be different, and to stand out and radicalism offers all these elements in one package. There are some who may suffer from an inner loneliness that stems from their upbringing. Whatever the reason for joining IS most have been duped.

 

 

Taming the Beast (3)

The Road Ahead

Banksy

Banksy

It must start with a clear head, and a very honest appraisal of the task ahead.  Those who wish to fight for human progress must recognise that every cause cannot be fought in the first instance. As stated previously, the number of charities is an indication of the scale of the task. Therefore the starting point is the first rung.

Banksy

Banksy

To make demands which prove unrealistic is to give the opposition a propaganda boost. Ordinary people are often treated like muck but they do think and have a greater understanding than many give them credit for. They too will recognise what is achievable and what is fanciable. It will be a hard lesson for many on the ‘left’ to learn, such is their commitment to their cause.

Finding a unity of purpose and an agenda that can bridge the meandering streams of thought will prove incredibly difficult. Without a unity of purpose all causes will flounder. It can be agreed that each group can continue to support their cause but their first allegiance must be to the general good.

To this end a ten (10) point plan, should be drawn up and promoted by all. My personal agenda would include:

  • No business to be allowed to give financial support to any political party.
  • Politicians should have one job. None outside their political duties.
  • No lobbying!
  • A Clean Air Act.

I think these suggestions would be fine and resonate with the wider public under a campaign banner of greater democracy. Of course I could be wrong.

Democracy might not be everyone’s idea of a platform for achieving human progress. However, there is no alternative and democracy is more powerful than many think. There is little point in hankering after a mystic goal that will not take the people with you. Work with the people. Don’t demand they follow you!

In compiling an agenda there will be much argument. I can almost hear the furious ruckus as individuals and groups clamber over one another for a seat at the top table. The noise is over ridden by the screech of others demanding their key points be included in the plan.

‘Top table’ it creates a problem. It really needs people who are self-assured and with nothing to prove. If one has a separate agenda then the mind is out of focus.

Above the melee, a blunderbuss of laughter is heard from the 1%. They are unafraid of such a throng as this; the tartar army.thRMW0GF2G

Getting agreement may seem like an impossible task. Nonetheless, where there is intellect there is hope. The challenge is not to see the cause as a belief system but rather as a means to an end. Above all it should embrace the peoples will not that of any organisation.

The possibility exists that the compromisers will endeavour to include a plank of everyone’s policy stance. This is the weak link and will prove to be the death knell of any attempt at unity and progress.

Handy Hints

On reading Charles Handy, The Empty Raincoat I was heartened by his change in outlook. He talks about his American business school in the 1960s where in every room the blazon charge, “maximize the medium-term earnings per share”. (p135)  That was the focus that every tutor instilled in their students. Many years later his outlook was adapted to a greater understanding and purpose:

“My business school in America was wrong, I am now convinced. The principal purpose of a company is not to make profit, full stop. It is to make profit in order to do things and make things, and to do so ever better and more abundantly”. (p136)

This is not just a change of heart by Handy but a clear shift in understanding. It is recognition that the world is more than a selfish consumer or a buccaneer entrepreneur. Such a change in stance should act as precursor for the left in politics. Never examining a belief or cause is to diminish your understanding and thereby the view of the future. It holds all other views in contempt. The greater good is the one area that permits all of us to attain personal development.

The world cannot grow until men learn how to.

Taming the Beast (2)

Why is human progress so stifled?

The obvious reason is that our politicians are failing us. Why? Are they being bought off? I’ll let the economist Ha-Joon Chang answer that,

“Money gives the super- rich the power even to rewrite the basic rules of the game by – let’s not mince words – legally and illegally buying up politicians and political offices”.

Economics: The User’s Guide (p338)

  • Therefore should we allow business to make campaign contributions to political parties? NO! The reason is obvious, the business (es) are buying patronage.
  • Should politicians have jobs outside their political one? NO!
  • Should we allow lobbying? NO! Lobbying has no place in democracy!

The American system is a voluptuous but crass form of democracy. No business is giving to a campaign fund as an altruistic gesture or in a considered belief in the democratic process. As long as businesses dictate the size of the campaign fund they will dictate the policy of government. Unless they fall foul of the other big boys.

The Politburo of China is another major roadblock to human progress. While the present regime may face being toppled by their nouveau riche, that creates a new roadblock. The Russian Federation sideshow of democracy is another block on progress. Worldwide we have Junta’s and dictatorships and we have religious tyranny. The grab for power is one of the nasty aspects of capitalism.

Meanwhile, a quick scan around the globe highlights that there is no credible government. All treat the people as a bugbear. For the most part the people are belittled by the enormity of the task of moving human progress forward. Our hope rests with the leaders we elect but they become distant once elected.

The poet John Donne wrote that no man is an island, implying that as a mere mortal he has to live in the real world. The same is true of a nation. No one state can stand against the might of capitalism as we are witnessing with the growth of multinational companies. Human progress requires a concerted approach, a basic standard the people can support and view as achievable.

Who stands up?

Reliance on the left in politics has the people just as bamboozled as they have been with the political elite. There are a million hymn sheets out there flapping, each with a different tune. Little wonder therefore, that the message is lost in the babble of sound. However, that botched sound is as an aria to the ears of those who control the world’s economy.

As long as the voices of human progress are disparate the chorus of the 1% will always be in harmony. Therefore, the various groups and factions are as much a hindrance to progress as are the 1% who own the bulk of our industrial base. We must all join the orchestra or accept we are just another broken wind instrument.

An old motto ‘United we stand – Divided we fall’ has more relevance than ever. The origins of the motto are in dispute; some say it comes from the bible (Luke) others suggest Aesop’s Tales but modern use is accredited to the American Revolutionary, John Dickinson in his 1768 ‘The Liberty Song’. I find it ironic that that same liberty is now holding back human progress. www.en.m.wikipedia.org

thC0SM07SGThe motto whatever its origin still holds the power of action. Unfortunately, we hear things in monotone, groups, factions, those generally of the left tend to view events singularly and become tied to that specific movement. The overall symphony becomes subordinate to the intense focus of the moment. Human progress takes a seat in the gods!

Charities – something is wrongthTGFNAKKN

We have identified several misadventures by kings of business but a more telling damnation of the system is found in every town – charities. Millions are spent annually to entice us to give to a charity. Millions more is given by government who use charities as outsource workers. Charities point to everything we should be doing but are not.

I wonder if anyone has ever counted the number of charities around the world. If we lay the charities length ways then stand them upright we may get a better understanding of the scale of the task that lies ahead. We are reaching for the stars.

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Capitalism: Taming the Beast.

Capitalism is not the best fit for a decent society. This is becoming increasingly clear as the world becomes more accessible to all. Nonetheless, it is an essential tool in building and developing the science and technology required to house a good society. At present there is no alternative and little sign of one on the horizon. Therefore, to enhance human progress all we can do is rein-in, to prevent the worst excesses of the beast.

Left unbridled, capitalism has no conscience, no heart, no sense of justice. Recent history tells the story.

 

  • DDT used between 1945 – 1972 when it was banned from use as an agricultural insecticide having been linked to ecological degradation and testicular cancer. www.en.m.wikipedia.org
  • Thalidomide – released in 1957 in Germany as a sedative or hypnotic. Soon it was used to alleviate morning sickness in pregnant women. The result was over 10,000 births worldwide with a 50% death rate. The survivors had severe disabilities.

“The thalidomide disaster is one of the darkest episodes in pharmaceutical research history”. www.sciencemuseum.org.uk

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thalidomide

And now we are under threat from genetically modified organisms. No! – GMO! www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/apr/16/eu-new-gm-genetically-modified-foods

The shenanigans of the business world are similarly dark. Enron was the biggest thST67FT30bankruptcy in US history until WorldCom.  Enron hid $$billions in debt before their bubble burst. WorldCom used loose accountancy methods to maintain their share price. Profit the main motivation!

These events led to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. The law was passed by Congress to prevent fraudulent accounting activities by corporations and, “…the wilful destruction of evidence to impede a Federal investigation”.  Five companies in all were cited.

www.en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarbanes-Oxley_Act

It would be good to think that the law was changed because the politicians were looking after the best interests of the ordinary people. Unfortunately, these companies went OTT and cost shareholders a lot of money. It shows just how untrustworthy business truly is.

In the UK in 2014 Tesco the large supermarket also used loose accountancy to suggest they had £300 million more in their coffers than they actually had.  Now we have the Volkswagen debacle and the fixing of diesel car emissions. It appears that the EU politicians knew the details in 2013 but kept quiet about it. Who can Ordinary Joe trust?

thIQB7HPADHow many people are dying annually from poor air quality in our major cities? We need a new Clean Air Act!

The Harvard economist Dani Rodrik, The Globalization Paradox sums up the market quite succinctly,

“In short, markets are not self-creating, self-regulating, self-stabilizing, or self-legitimizing”. P22

Honest government is the only way to control the excesses of the market place. There are so many known examples of poor business practice. But how many remain hidden? It would seem that governments will only act in times of crisis.

Every economic crash has had at its base the obsessive pursuit of profit. The most recent major crash of 2008 left a sound of anguish the world over, and we are still experiencing the reverberations today. “This period also ranks among the most horrific in US financial history.”  Paul Kosakowski, www.investopedia.com

The main cause lies with the government of America and their decision to repeal the 1933 Glass – Steagall Act in 1999. The act had regulated the banking sector. Once removed, at the behest of the big boys, the saliva drooled and the wolves howled their hunger for some ripe pickings. Deregulation was the key element in the great crash but had its foundation in American Republicanism.

In the wake of the crash many other devious scams have been unearthed.

  • Libor – the fixing of the bank lending rate.
  • Foreign exchange – forex – fixing of the rate.
  • PPI – false insurance policies

How many other double deals have yet to be uncovered?

American Republicanism arrests our development by its insistence on the political stance of individualism and the free market economy. This belief system is supported by the neo-classical economists who promulgate the notion that we are all individual self-interest motivated consumers. However, such a premise negates the power of marketing and dismisses the colossal amounts spent on advertisement. It also promotes the view that the market is the benefactor of society.

As consumers we are often tricked by marketing ploys into making a purchase by the placement of goods on supermarket shelves. By the need to belong, this has many of us following trends: fashion, phones and food etc. Note also the spending of $£ billions on building a ‘brand’ name with the subliminal message that nothing else is quite as good. Marketing is the markets sheep dog!