Populism: Let’s Celebrate?

 

Robber Barons

Robber Barons

Populism arises from the dissatisfaction of the people at the back end of the train. It’s a long train. We have all participated in the building of society therefore we should all share in the benefits. It is not a case of envy but of right. The popular vote is a warning salvo; a means to give a good shake to the elite and political class. Will the gruesome twosome listen or will the people have to push harder. Time will tell!

Decisions have to be taken by the political class as to how the river will meander. Politicians have to understand that the people want a decent life with as little hassle as is possible. They want more transparency from the state. They also want easy access, to what might be defined as everyday things. They want their children to have better prospects than they experience, therefore social mobility is crucial.

Moreover, the demands of the poor are not an attempt at robbery, nor is it about taxing the rich till they bleed. However, the wealthy may like to pay the full tax they should. And if the State has to come and get the tax, let there be stiff penalties. There is little thought at the moment of the guillotine being wheeled out but there is an anger borne of frustration of the daily grinding of the millwheel but having barely a crust to eat.

Populism is just one consequence of inequality. A whole economic argument has been written by J.E. Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality. He like others, Ha-Joon Chang* and Paul Krugman* have highlighted the growing disparity since the 1980s. As the latter states, “… the income of the typical family grew much less after 1980 than before”. While Chang and others suggest that inequality creates barriers to economic growth by restricting social mobility.*Chang, Economics: The User’s Guide (p320)

*Krugman, End This Depression NOW (p73)

child from the streetsBy not mobilizing the 80% who don’t get a fair shot at a top class education we fail, we fail because we don’t know what talent awaits discovery. We fail because many poorly educated end up in prison. We fail because we have failed to listen and failed to act.

 

The experience of the poor throughout the world has led to a mountain of distrust. Therefore an initial step for the political class is to give clear indications that this rift will be healed. I accept that this will be difficult for career politicians whose hand has never been far from the till. Such characters must be weeded out. Perhaps we need to think in terms of a fixed term for holding office, say 15 years after which they must stand down?

I can well understand why the ‘gruesome twosome’ have misgivings about populism. They may well concur with the view, “… while a wing of scholarship in political science contends that populist mass movements are irrational and introduce instability into the political process”. www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Populism

There may be a tad of logic in that opinion but only in that such ‘irrational’ behaviour and ‘instability’ upset the status quo. And if the status quo is upset what was the underlining cause? Obviously the system has gone skew-whiff. Who would have made it so? I suggest the ‘gruesome twosome’ ask the mirror. A question on the political bias of the writers also needs to be asked.

Notwithstanding, the wealthy may hide behind the notion of the ‘ideas man’ that as they thought of the idea or solution ergo they should reap their just dessert. However, in discussing such a scenario Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)* adds some thinking to that weak logic when suggesting a clearer view of events.

The scenario:

people need to get their goods from point A to point B so a businessman came up with the idea of a railway but before the businessman could stash the cash, Emerson restrains him by reminding him, “The human race has gone out before him, sunk the hills, filled the hollows, and bridged the rivers”. Ergo!

*Emerson Representative Men 1850 – published in English Critical Essays, Edmund D. Jones (ed:) p459

The Scam!

The term rip-off looms large in the thinking of the general populace. It seems that everywhere they look Fagan is in the shadows. Ben Goldacre, Bad Science (p208) illustrates this with an incidence in the pharmaceutical industry concerning SSRI drugs, an antidepressant. He tells us that the data from the trials of the drugs was purposely delayed, being issued much later than expected. When the trials were issued data that suggested that the drug might be dangerous was hidden deep in the blurb. Also buried was data that suggested it was no better than placebo.

Another fleecing example comes from an unusual source the crime novelist Michael Connelly.* The character Micky Haller explains to his daughter about the sheer number of foreclosures in the housing market as a result of the 2008 financial crisis:

“These lenders all want their money back and so some of them do bad things and some of them hire people to do bad things. They lie and cheat and they take away people’s houses without doing it fairly or under the law”.

*Connelly, The Fifth Witness (p65) Good read.

Hence, one might start to grasp the sense of betrayal building in the gut of thethHCBKO3M8 people. Unsurprisingly, many feel used and abused. These incidents in the pharmaceutical industry and the sub-prime scandal demonstrate a considerable degree of contempt by the wealthy against society.

Moreover, the propaganda or spin lays the weight of the blame on the people themselves or the most deprived sections of society. It’s all the fault of the workshy or those fiddling social security payments.

Thus there seems little room for engagement as the ‘gruesome twosome’ appear entrenched in their attitude. However, if contempt is allowed to fester the democratic route to righting wrongs may hit a serious buffer. The big boys who find themselves in the first class carriage need to reflect long and hard on the way forward, and find an avenue towards a just society. The answer is out there!

I will happily direct them to some good reading material. Bryan Magee, Popper (p78) highlights Karl Popper’s view of a good democracy, “… free institutions, especially those which enable the ruled to effectively criticize their rulers and to change them without bloodshed”.

Another philosopher Michael Sandel, Justice (p266) adds a crisp point, “Too great a gap between rich and poor undermines the solidarity that democratic citizenship requires”. Now that’s a piece of craftsmanship. In essence a better distribution of the wealth that is generated can help keep the peace.

The question is, can on old dog learn a new trick? Mitt Romney a presidential candidate in 2012 suggested that the poor suffer from ‘envy’. Chang (p318) Of course the people rejected him; little surprise there. Romney just doesn’t get it, perhaps an illustration from the consummate thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson might help to enlighten him and others of his ilk.

While discussing the genius of Shakespeare, Emerson explores the reality, “In point of fact, it appears that Shakespeare did owe debts in all directions,…”. He cites the contribution of Malone and others past and present. And as John Donne said much earlier, 1624 “No man is an island”.

Nonetheless, as evidence of their righteousness the wealthy cite the fact that the majority of economists believe in individualism of the libertarian (republican) belief. That a nation should be based economically as a minimalist state, that the state should not pass any policy without consulting all the people. The state did, the people elected Trump! Happy?!

Furthermore, the concept of individualism is so tempting; we like to think of ourselves as special. But if we can grasp the significance of what Ralph Waldo Emerson is saying then we can recognise that in the social environment (not biological) we do not stand alone but are reliant on many others.

This body of economists also put forward the idea that all consumers are rational shoppers. Poppycock! The argument that shoppers are rational stems from a badly constructed model. There are numerous restrictions and ploys which come into play concerning shopping:

  • Education level
  • Income level
  • The £/$ billions spent on advertising by all industry
  • Sales, special deals, Black Friday, January sales. Fashion

Anyone who looks at the annual fashion splurge has to admit that there’s nothing rational about shoppers. The extent of consumer debt aided by, the have plastic, will spend attitude. Businesses would have to be stupid to spend £/$ billions on advertising their goods if the shoppers could not be convinced to buy their product and not an alternative.

Many of the multinational businesses spend £/$ billions building a ‘brand’ name e.g. Nike – to convince the customer that their product is a sound buy.

Indeed, it is worrying that the ‘gruesome twosome’ and their acolytes suffer from a serious dose of groupthink. The problem with groupthink is that it is dangerous, and, so it has proved. Note what Dr Nicky Hayes* says about the condition, “… the consequences of groupthink can be disastrous”. Shall I mention the 2008 financial crisis again? Oops!  *Hayes Understand Psychology (p137)

 

th1b2fvzdtThere is a clear justification for harping on about the financial crisis (there I go again) because the same gang of economists advised governments to implement a package of measures we now call ‘austerity’. Another term for austerity is ‘CUT’! Millions of people’s lives have been affected. Youth unemployment is 25%+ in Spain, 40% in Italy, nearly 20% in France, eight years on. Eight years and people are still struggling to make ends meet.

The latter are the ‘jam’ guys but there’s nothing sweet about their troubles. This group of the population are ‘just about managing’ (JAM) to survive on their meagre income. Eight years on!

So forgive me if I have little time for these economists. Their concept of the minimalist state would have left the world in a diabolical mess following the crisis had it not been for government intervention. Francis Fukuyama* shoots from the hip when he states: “If the state did not control the richest and most powerful elites in society, the latter would appropriate and misuse the political system at everyone else’s expense”.Fukuyama Political Order and Political Decay (p56)

Governments have more to concern themselves with than an economic model. Thank goodness!

We have come a long way but not very far. If you read Robert Roberts* a sense of horror makes you ever so sad and at once angry at the extent of destitution in the UK 95 years ago. Tens of thousands of destitute souls where sent to live and work in the workhouses, a place, generally recognised as hell. It is difficult to get national figures because the poor were dealt with at the local level. *Roberts:  The Classic Slum

Today we see ourselves as more fortunate, there are no workhouses. However, destitution has not gone out of our lives. According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundationth6xovw9al there are an approximate 1.25 million destitute people in the country, 300,000 of which are children. The destitute are classified by certain measures: someone who can’t afford the basic essentials they need to eat, keep clean and stay warm and dry. www.jrf.org.uk/press/destitute-uk

 

Changes need to be made; the road to a just society cannot be allowed to rut for another 100 years! And the change must come from the elite and political class. It is incumbent upon them to show willing and to deliver in the short and long term. Let their bedtime reading include all those mentioned in this text. The philosophy of an Open Society by Karl Popper might be a good place to start, followed by Justice by Michael Sandel.

Without doubt populism can prove to be a very positive thing to have happened. We can stop, think, and reflect. We can celebrate this opportunity to get back on track – 1950s style when people felt they had a good life. What was termed the golden age. We can move forward from this juncture more determined, more realistic, more in tune with what makes a just system work. We can employ greater participation and have greater transparency. We can use our nous.

 

Elites: The Selfish Gene

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“Greed has taken over”.*

These are not my words but those of David Rubinstein (2007) who made $billions on Wall Street. He recognised the grab epidemic that had gripped the centre of finance. The selfish gene had infected just about everyone, and the infatuation with the big bucks overpowered the otherwise educated.

*Suzanne McGee – Chasing Goldman Sachs (p177)

Of course greed has long been a deadly sin and thus part of the human make up. Wherever there are winners and losers greed has been dangling its lustful bait.

Though greed and elites have been around quite a while the world has now changed significantly and the divide is much more noticeable. Ordinary Joe has become more aware of their daily grind and the comparison with those of wealth. Television, films and books help to keep them informed.

The dramatic change came with the advent of socialism, Marxism and democracy. These developments brought the growth of political parties and trade unions which have changed the dynamics by keeping people aware. Social media has a world audience that means we are neighbours in many respects.

Moreover, information on the great divide is well documented. Noam Chomsky, How the World Works deals with it by mentioning the philosophers David Hume (p129-30) and Aristotle (p209-210). Hume acknowledges that leaders are only in power as long as the people tolerate them.

Aristotle was challenged by a question on how to deal with the great divide – reduce poverty or reduce democracy. His answer was to lessen the impact of poverty, a purely logical conclusion.

It is quite obvious that if you are a part of the elite that you would chose to maintain your status. However, history teaches us that empires always fall and therefore the wise counsel of Aristotle should be heeded.

Unfortunately, greed clouds judgment.  Joseph E. Stiglitz – The Price of Inequality (p5) clarifies the great divide by pointing out that in America the top 1% gets 40% more in one week than the bottom 20% get in a year. Bloody hell! you may whisper to yourself but the worse is yet to come.

The top 0.1% in one and a half days (1.5 days) gets what the bottom 90% make in a year. Now you can scratch your head in disbelief. NO WAY you say, but. Obviously the elite is deaf to the wisdom of Aristotle (384 – 322 BC)

Francis Fukuyama – Political Order and Political Decay (p479) hits the nail on the head when he states, “In the contemporary United States, elites speak the language of liberty but are perfectly happy to settle for privilege”. The same argument can be espoused for the elite everywhere. One consequence is that the poor and poorly educated become marginalized. (p488) Further consequence flow from this reality.

Therefore, few would dispute the analysis of Suzanne McGee (p354) when she says that attitudes on Wall Street have not improved since the 2008 financial crash that battered the poor hard. The cry of the financial elite is, “me first, me foremost, and only me”.

Though the election surprises of 2016, and going into 2017 may wake the elite from their slumber. The Brexit election in the UK and the Trump victory in the presidential election may bring a wakeup call with the cockerel. Throughout Europe we are witnessing a growing dissatisfaction with the elite and their political acolytes.

Furthermore, throughout the world people are standing up and letting it be known that they are fed up with the status quo.

Protestthiec512pf

South Africa:      Since 2008 an average of 2 million people has taken to protesting annually.

Main complaint: poor services and corruption.

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protests_in_South_Africa

Venezuela:         Polls show that 75% of people are unhappy with the government of Nicolas Maduro. Massive oil reserves suggest it should be a wealthy country.

Main complaint: food shortages, power cuts and corruption.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-36319877

September 2016 over 1million protest against government. NY Times suggest mainly middle class but then they can be the most dangerous.

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014%EZ%80%9316_Venezuela_protests

El Salvador:         Main complaint: Corruption – effects food shortages and poor services.

Brasil:                    April 2016 poll shows 63% don’t like the government of Dilma Rousseff. Since been ousted, her successor has faced similar protests.

Main complaint: high inflation, bad recession = prices & unemployment + corruption

www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-35810578

Equatorial Guinea:  has one of Africa’s largest oil reserves but is one of the continents poorest. Their leader is estimated to have amassed a personal fortune of $600 million.

Around the world a better informed populace are beginning to assert their rights. Power to the people!

thXB41ZEDFCorruption

A keyword in many instances is ‘corruption’. However, corruption takes many forms, from direct bribery to filling one’s own pocket surreptitiously. Moreover, corruption is not solely attributed to developing countries. Britain was rocked by the expenses scandal when our Members of Parliament took to giving themselves handsome handouts, leaving the taxpayer to pick up the bill. Then of course, there’s the semi-legal type of corruption known as lobbying.

Interestingly, Senator Ted Cruz, who sought nomination for the republican presidential candidacy, was noted as saying, “…career politicians’ ears and wallets are open to the highest bidder”. In Texas 2015 www.theintercept.com/2015/07/30

Let me give you a handful of views on lobbying.

“…it defies belief that the banking industry’s legions of lobbyists did not have a major impact,”…on government policy. Francis Fukuyama (p481)

“In other cases, interest groups have been able to block legislation harmful to their interests”. Ibid (p486)

These groups, instead of pursuing wealth-creating economic activities, made use of the political system to extract benefits or rents for themselves”.  Mancur Olson – The Rise and Decline of Nations quoted ibid (p481)

Or it may be due to exploitative elites, typically in cahoots with the government, who block any improvement in economic condition that would threaten their power” Dani Rodrik – The Globalization Paradox  (p137) Rodrik was looking at reasons for poverty in poorer nations.

All told more than $3.2 billion was spent on lobbying in 2011 alone. The main distortion is to our political system; the main loser, our democracy” Joseph E Stiglitz (p119)

The pattern is clear, the political outcome of lobbying seldom works for the majority; as decisions are heavily influenced by interest groups. E.E.Schattschneider – The Semisovereign People   ibid (p483)

There are several other damning opinions I could add to those given but hopefully the point is made. Unfortunately, the material from which I got the quotes is not on the daily reading diet of the poor and poorly educated.

Ordinary Joe tends to rely on gut and experience, the latter a method favoured by Aristotle, to reach a conclusion. The poor may be marginalized but their brain has not ceased to work.

Dissatisfaction with the political class has grown over the decades to such an extent that, “…trust in Congress has fallen to historically low levels barely above double digits”. Ibid (p481) A similar point is made by Stiglitz (p117) that the rich have, “…become more distant from ordinary people”.

While these instances concern the American system they are readily transferable throughout the world. Perhaps, in understanding this ‘distance’ those who cannot grasp the seismic political upheaval called Brexit and the Trump victory can begin to comprehend that the ‘sleeper has awoken’!!

The Double Deal:

Backhander

Backhander

A good outline of the direct and moral corruption that is bought on a daily bases of lobbying can be read in Francis Fukuyama (p478) when he deals with ‘reciprocal altruism’. Basically, I give you a big contribution to your election fund and somewhere down the line, you do me a favour. It’s a fancy name for you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours.

We are all aware of cronyism and nepotism and as distasteful as they are, we also know that they are an apron string around our lives. Who wouldn’t help a friend or look after one of our family when times are hard? However, when a similar thing happens at the top end of business its use is to maintain status and power, and to advance wealth.

That brings us back to the catch phrase noted by Suzanne McGee (p354) “…me first, me foremost, and only me”. The actions and statements of the rich are catalogued beside all the other pieces of exhibitionism that symbolizes their contempt for the poor. These are duly noted until a jigsaw has been completed and then contempt is fired back at those in power.

The notion that the poor lap up the display of wealth and the misnomer that their anger is only a form of jealousy is so out of place. The trite use of ‘jealousy’ was a smokescreen floated by the wealthy to browbeat the poor.

I refer back to the wisdom of Aristotle that experience is a solid learning tool; and experience is what the poor collect in abundance. The machine operator knows that they are producing wealth and have become aware that their share of the proceeds is hardly enough to survive on. Hence the ostentatious flirting of the rich does not engage their jealousy but their anger.

A Learning Curve?

Unfortunately, the harsh reality is as stated by Ralph Schosstein, a banker on Wall Street, “Memories fade faster on Wall Street than on Main Street”. (McGee p383) The lure of the big buck is so enticing it’s almost irresistible. For the big boys it’s their raison d’etre. It appears that nothing much has been learned since the build up to the 2008 crash that we are still suffering from.

“A few years ago various cunning bankers were sitting around on their fat arses scratching their sweaty balls wondering how they could make themselves even more disgustingly rich….so they started looking around and they spied a vast amount of poor Americans who hadn’t been allowed loans before…” Geraint Anderson, Cityboy (p307)

Soon the world economy collapsed and we had to bail them out!

Control of the financial sector should have been exercised by the government. However, government must be free of corruption. Hm! I’m reminded of a child’s nursery rhyme – the wheels on the bus go round and round…. Lobbying all day long!

In today’s society we need the money men but they also need us. We are both sides of the coin. What they need to understand is that wealth distribution is a key element in keeping the fabric of society on a harmonious path.

Many countries throughout the world are experiencing an upsurge in people power. In the UK and the USA the people have exercised their democratic rights to let the elite know that they too want to participate in the nation’s wealth. Let’s keep it democratic!

 

Multiculturalism: From Dark to Darkness

Unless you welcome multiculturalism with open arms the branding irons come out and the familiar adjectives are burned onto the forehead. Therefore, let’s get the nova moment over with; I am neither a racist nor bigoted but I do have opinions.

The big hope of multiculturalism is that everyone will integrate and all the people will respect each other’s way of life. Thus diversity is viewed as maintaining each culture in a harmonious plane, with religion playing a central role in this nirvana.

However, this hope is based on the here and now which allows no thought of tomorrow.  Of course those who have promoted multiculturalism may view it as a long-term commitment for the human race.

My problem with the ‘here and now’ philosophy is that it allows no space for change. It is very much a ‘present time’ philosophy which is the maintenance of cultures, and, the legal obligation to respect it has an inflexible rigidity appended to it. A society so ordered is one set in concrete. One thinks of Stalin!

th5Suddenly, as if by magic wand (Harry Potter is real) all the religions will love and respect one another. Let’s forget the centuries of upheaval that religion has brought us. In the recent past we have had the murderous debacle of Northern Ireland where Catholic fought Protestant and, where the hate is still tangible.

In the Middle East where the two houses of Islam have no compunction in killing the other. Tension continues to increase between India and Pakistan. @France24_en November 7th. In India Hindu and Muslims continue to shed blood. Whilst in Pakistan religious differences have caused several bombings and where attacks on Christians are now a common occurrence.

Can we seriously dismiss what is happening around the globe as though it has no effect on the migrant populations in our midst? We know it can and does. Also, Francis Fukuyama, Political Order and Political Decay p543 reminds us that politicians use ethnicity and religion for their own purpose.

Religions may speak of peace and love but harness swathes of intolerance and subjugation. All religions were basically the stanchion of men, and, women knew their place or else. In the modern Christian world the old culture is being broken down and women are gaining their rightful place as equals. Note, Tom Peters, The Circle of Innovation pp 402-407 he quotes several writers to argue that, “Women are smarter than men”. And better managers!

In contrast Islam is still mired in the ancient culture, as are some other religions. It is therefore difficult to give any credence to the Muslim faith, while promoting equality in every other aspect of life. We do not need to unearth the prohibitive nature of Islam towards women. On another tact we cannot have different laws operating for different sections of society. The law of the land must be initiated by parliament and not Sharia courts.

There are numerous cases of young women, children really, who have been plucked from their school to be sent to a foreign country to be married. A marriage of arrangement! No say, no choice – a diktat.

I read an article in the Daily Mail (November 2nd) concerning a woman, Maryam Nemazi from the group One Law for All. She holds a strong opinion against Muslim Councils and the use of Sharia courts in the UK. She accuses them as “tantamount to abuse”. When I read such stories I think, what would the Suffragettes think, and, how can a liberal society tolerate such subjugation.

Referring back to Tom Peters and the power of women and, recognising the imposition placed on the females of Islam, I think of a vast wealth of talent not nurtured. A Terracotta Army hidden!   I came across a refreshing little piece by E.E. Bradford (1860-1944) called Society.

“God made the country and man made the town – And woman made society”.*

Furthermore, faith schools are not a celebration of diversity. Rather such schools are a cold statement of difference and work to emphasize that difference. Faith schools do not best employ the concept of empathy. Unfortunately, as the country becomes more ghettoized differences become more heightened.

Moreover, multiculturalism signs the death knell of any possibility of achieving a secular society. Religions are obviously opposed to the very notion of secular schools for the simple reason that they would lose influence. An influence they use to cement the child’s belief system. We know this yet we pander to the needs of the soldiers of entrenchment.

A society based on a secular outlook would allow children to mix and to learn from each other. There would be no need to impose a law demanding respect; the kids would simply play together, grow together and build lasting bonds. Multiculturalism is a poor attempt at a quick fix.

The fact that law has to be used in an attempt to enforce respect tells its own story. Athqbhtaafd law is a demand that the people must obey.  They are told to adapt their language and thought processes to accommodate others but such a law has to be one that meets general approval otherwise it is likely to go unheeded. People have an aversion to being forced.

Audite et alteram partem – A Latin motto – Listen even to the other side*

Notwithstanding, multiculturalism has proven a great asset for big business. Perhaps that is the real reason behind its promotion? The influx of several million migrants was obviously going to cause upset hence the desperate need to design a concept for it, with the threat of the law to empower it. No doubt it was a blessing that the Liberal elite endorsed and readily adopted it as their own.

The truth is that we cannot save the world alone. The mass movement of people has more to do with globalization. The pursuit of money leaves no room for the thought of consequence or a plan for the long-term. Globalization is a harvester of cheap labour.

However, many see no alternative, their eyes are pinned on the present for fear of a divide, leading to violence between the migrant and indigenous population. They are happy with their quick fix and are thus too busy patting their own back to consider any consequence.

*The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations

*Economics: The User’s Guide   Ha – Joon Chang p458

Nonetheless, change is happening. The change is championed by an unlikely ally – capitalism. The source of the problem may actually lead to its solution. Change will not be advanced by politicians, no, they’re too wrapped up in their own cossetted world. The agents of capitalism, the marketing agencies and their never ending push to boost consumerism will be our knights.

Consumerism will break barriers that politicians are afraid to breach. While consumerism may smash the ramparts we will then need to reconstruct a society, the thcafjwb3ekind of society that we need as a human race. To anticipate, the answer is, no! we don’t want the Americanisation of the world. America has had ‘Affirmative Action’ for over 50 years and is the most ghettoized nation in the world. We need to think!

Change is taking place around the world as the poor demand a greater share of the wealth of the planet. They are using the power of democracy (take note) to send the message that they are unhappy. Power to the people!!

Therefore, multiculturalism is not the answer because it holds no answers. Multiculturalism is actually the harbinger of ghettoes. Its solution is to keep us separate, not to unify us as one people.

 

Bubble Wars

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Bubble Folk are the creation of a lack of reliable informative information the cause of which is mass media and political spin. It also has to do with peoples need to be a part of something. Television and newspapers promote the views of those who own them or who run them (BBC). Thus the predominant opinions we are given are those of the elite.

It’s increasingly difficult to find an objective opinion out there. Without a truly independent analysis of events that uses ‘why’ at the beginning of each question we never get to the crux of the matter. Basically we are treated as cannon fodder by the elite. We the public don’t need to know the ins and outs of an issue; it is their job to look after our interests. They ain’t doing a good job!

A Case in Point:

Recently after the Brexit vote in the UK and the general rise of people power across Europe I’ve heard Jean-Claude Juncker the EU commissioner state on three different occasions that they, the political elite, should not be held back by the rise in populism. Such statements suggest a number of things to me:

  • He does not accept democratic accountability.
  • There is by association the view that people have no idea what they need or want.
  • The political class see themselves as an elite.
  • That he and his ilk are Bubble Folk!!!
  • They have no desire to listen and no intention to act on the public vote.

 

Thinking.

Thinking.

Notwithstanding, we can only make decisions on the bases of the information we receive. Being bombarded by one view or by two strongly opposing views makes it all the more difficult to reach a rational, objective conclusion.

The other problem is that time on TV isth1zoq2kiv restricted and so much of what we get comes down to political sound bites. We have become the peoples of puerile language: texting, twitter and Facebook and all the rest. Billions of text messages are sent every day, much of the content of little relevance. I know I’m one of the culprits! E.g. what’s for dinner? Put the kettle on etc.etc.. I fancy a pint?

Moreover, politicians are their own worst enemy when it comes to presenting a point of view. Invariably they do not answer the question put to them but chose to state the message they want to get across. In so doing promote their own belief and their political party. They are cheap car salesmen! However, people have started to doubt whether politicians know what the truth looks like.

th13r6b7kgEventually political spin wears thin and the electorate switch off when the politicians start to speak. This acquired deafness is now a worldwide phenomenon as people realise that the political elite represent themselves. Reality of their living situations has forced ordinary Joes to recognise this simple truth.

 

Case in Point:

EU – Canada trade deal due to be signed this month, October 2016. The package was worked out in secret its conditions to be imposed on the populace. Business gets what it wants and the people, well, there might be some jobs created. But others will be lost! There will be some scraps left on the table.

Bubble Orgasm:

The political class were stunned by the recent referendum decision to ‘Leave’ the EU, June 2016. The ‘Remainers’ were apoplectic, overcome with convulsions of disbelief, some wanted to storm the barricades of working class areas and beat the …. out of them. It seems democracy is only permitted when the electorate vote according to diktat.

Those who voted to Remain cannot accept the vote and cannot give up on the issue, so convinced are they that the people have made a mistake. Little or no thought is given to why 17 million voted to Leave. Here in lies the crux of Bubble Folk – only they can be right.

  • Why did so many people vote to leave?
  • Why did they feel so disillusioned?
  • Why had this disillusionment not been addressed before?
  • Why have the ‘elite’ not shared more of the nation’s wealth?
  • Why were the ‘Leavers’ lambasted as racist etc.?

I‘ll go back to a point made earlier that the reality of their living situationthII1V3PKP forced the electorate to think of their needs and not those of the elite. There is a lesson in this situation for the elite to comprehend: – when you treat people like …. they will react.

 

Abortion: the Bubble War

There are few other issues that raise blood pressure more than abortion. This is trench warfare in the modern age. No middle ground, no room for compromise, not even a smattering of space for dialogue. No game of Christmas football here. The antagonists are trapped in their respective bubbles.

While there is logic in both arguments it is absent in the antagonistic approach each side has towards the other. There concrete stance has become the home of intolerance. It has become a war of attrition.

In political terms support in the Houses of power is determined by the numbers in each district. Whichever group has the largest number gets the politician’s backing. In these circumstances democracy is pushed along not by what is best for all of society but who has the loudest gob.

New Picture (1)Shout loud and shout long seems to be the best route to get your way. One more reason why ordinary Joes are fed up with the political system is that they are not heard but any minority with a loud gob is.

 

 

We Trust in God:

All religions are made up of bubble folk. Many use their belief system to promote their political aspirations but cannot identify the hypocrisy in so doing.

It’s a Long Way to Tipperary:

So the old song goes. It may well be a long way but it’s even longer to get to true democracy. It’s a steeplechase with so many ditches and a host of hurdles. We are transient folk, all of us, but politicians take it to a different level by their pre-election pledges that quickly become obscure and the newly elected abstruse when in power.

Our failure to make progress comes from the sheer lack of information that the people receive as to what is best for the whole of society as opposed to the demands of the elite. We have tranche after tranche of interest groups intransigent in their defence of their patch. There is much talk about the need of interest groups in a pluralist society.

Of course very few would like to live in a Stalinist environment or any fascist state. However, when groups become adamant in their approach and almost puritanical in outlook they become a hindrance to progress as they develop Stalinist tendencies.

Numerous environmental groups of various hues claim to have the best interest of society as their prime concern yet never stand together. Their interest seems parochial and in this sense serves the interest of the establishment and not that of society as a whole. They are the bubblers! thm83e71td

Death At Your Convenience

Sitting at home looking out of the window, thinking, what ‘tops’ I should order online. Notthcafjwb3e a lot of thinking going into it, just cost and when they’ll get here. Easy, convenient, saves me some hassle. I can always send them back if I don’t like them.

News Flash!

An experiment carried out in Oxford Street London in 2007 by University College London and New Jersey School of Public Health to examine the effects of car pollution on asthma sufferers. The trial lasted just two hours but revealed:

  • Increased asthmatic symptoms
  • Reduced lung capacity
  • Inflammation of the lungs.

Why? While diesel cars/trucks etc. emit less CO2 than petrol cars they generate 100 times more particulates driving for a similar distance. Particulates ‘interfere with the respiratory system’ and 90% of these deadly dust bombs come from diesel cars.

“Our study illustrates the need to reduce pollution in order to protect people’s health.” Professor Fan Chung.                   www.sciencedaily.com

Nearly a decade ago and still nothing is done!!

Altogether now – Breathe In!

  • Fine particulate matter is responsible for several tens of thousands of premature deaths annually in the US.
  • Diesel emissions increase the severity and duration of asthma attacks.
  • Diesel exhaust is especially dangerous containing nearly 40 hazardous pollutants.

Hold Your Breath!

Ultra-fine particulates – less than 2.5 microns can be absorbed into the blood and cause damage.         www.ehhi.org/reports/exhaust/summary

Exhale! Quickly! Ah, fresh air.

Mountain lake

Meanwhile, in 2015 the EU issued directive E6 to limit dangerous car emissions. Sometime later a study found that only 62 cars out of 200 passed the test! www.theguardian.com

th[2]In 2016 the myth of cleaner car emissions was exposed.thUZ27UX9O Volkswagen, Mitsubishi and the rest of the robber barons were found to be hoodwinking the public to increase their profits. Now we can add the three (3) largest truck manufacturers in Europe to the unscrupulous bandits. They have been fined €3 billion by the EU for organizing a ‘cartel’ to keep prices artificially high and, agreeing to hold back engine innovation that would have reduced pollution. www.dwnews.com

Hot town summer in the city – my lungs feel so damned gritty!

Did you know that goods moved by road were three (3) times higher than rail or water combined? In 2015 there were 299,000 HGV drivers in the UK. This number is on the increase. In 2008 the figure was 320,000, so as the economy continues to improve so will the number of trucks and thus pollution.            www.gov.uk

The rise of the white van man:

thodw4cg54There were 3.6 million in UK in 2015 that equals 10% of all road traffic and an increase of 18% on 2013/2014. They travelled 4.5 billion miles in 2014, up 20%. And what’s worse their numbers are expected to double by 2040. Wow! 4.5 billion miles, that’s a truck load of shit going into the atmosphere. Don’t forget to breathe now.

www.van-excellence-report-2015-2016pdf

Peaceful Paris:

A wander down the Champs Elysees, a stroll by the River Seine then melt in to a café, ah, the life of ease in a romantique environment.

thVWJRZYWDRoad traffic causes 66% of NOx emissions + 50% of particulate emissions. The Deputy Mayor of Paris suggests it causes 42,000 premature deaths each and every year.

And now back to our purchase of ‘tops’!

Q Whom do you buy from? The top five ranking are in billion pound sales:

Amazon – £4.4 bn

Tesco –    £2.9 bn

Argos – £1.9 bn

John Lewis – £1.5 bn

Next – £1.3 bn

www.retail-week.com

There’s a lot of jobs involved and a lot of savings BUT at what cost.

Thinking.

Thinking.

Do some good….Join Robin Hood!

 

Driven Mad (2)

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No one is guilty but all of us are!

For some of us it’s ‘I didn’t know defence’, whilst others should know better. The latter is especially true for those who have knowledge of the environmental issues.

Car Pollution

 It may well be that we have a tendency to switch adherence in our beliefs dependent on the situation. I am always bemused by the constant snipping between pedestrians and motorists; each demand courtesy from the other while going about their business. Their attitude is governed by whether they are on foot or driving.

A pet hate of mine is the out of town shopping centre (Malls). Does anyone have an idea of the amount of exhaust fumes (CO2 & NOx) hacked-out like so much bronchial mucus on a weekly, monthly, annual basis? I don’t either!

Driving along in your automobile,

Going for shopping and a meal.

While exhaust fumes are seeping through,

To your partner, kids and you.

It’s gonna shorten your life,

And cause other medical strife.

Environmental and Human Health Inc. claim that air pollution by cars, diesel being the worse cause:

Cardiovascular disease – asthma – lung cancer – diabetes – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Diesel contains: benzene + formaldehyde + 1, 3-butadiene. All of which are carcinogens!

The American Academy of Paediatrics concludes that the particulate matter from diesel threatens children’s health in many parts of the USA.

www.ehhi.org/reports/exhaust/summary.shtml

Tens of thousands of us drive to an out of town Shopping Centre at least once a week. Some drive quite a distance, the Trafford Centre near Manchester which has 11,500 parking spaces claims to attract shoppers from a 50 miles radius. That’s a lot of drive for a pair of knickers. Bluewater in Kent has free spaces for 13,000 cars and caters for parts of London as well as Kent.

Merry Hill, Dudley West Midlands has 10,000 spaces and has developed in stages. Construction began on Merry Hill farm, ‘cherished locally as a haven for wildlife’. The new Centre had a serious effect on the surrounding towns, Dudley was the worse effected with a 70% decline in retail. The Centre has now been incorporated into Dudley district with buses to and fro many local destinations. However, cars are the preferred mode of transport.

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merry_Hill_Shopping_Centre

The colossal increase in car ownership opened this opportunity for big business. Businesses could now have larger premises, buy more goods in bulk, saving on costs. Further advantages of reduced rent and rates (council tax) were also a boost to the bottom line.

All the advantages motivated the move out of town. The spin or marketing ploy was that it was a better choice for the consumer and a more relaxed shopping experience with restaurants and café’s well positioned throughout the Centre. Back in town, charity shops filled the vacated spots. Whilst those without transport find it increasingly difficult to source their shopping needs locally and, it’s more expensive.

With profit as the sole motivation little thought was given to how staff could get to work. Even less consideration to the environmental impact of such Centres.

So much time is spent in these places that I am surprised that no enterprising folk have opened a bed & breakfast establishment. Perhaps, that’s the next phase after the swimming pool and sand pits have been added.

However, business has won through as the Centres do create a more amenable environment for shopping. Being under shelter with the array of shops is a huge convenience. Just a pity they are not in the city centre, like Liverpool or Brussels.

The custom flocks to the Centres and flocks regularly. Some just flock to walk aroundthCA54HI3M and maybe have a coffee. Others flock to buy goods they could have sourced locally.

“What did you do with your day”?

“I flocked”.

“Flocking nice”!

Our love affair with the car is directly linked to our notion of individualism. I’m not advocating screwing with peoples’ belief in individuality. If they feel free and motivated so be it. Nonetheless, I feel entitled to expect them to be considerate of others. They can achieve this by demanding that the government take action to prevent NOx & CO2 emissions and not simply impose a levy on the motorist. And, that the government demand the manufacturers build engines without toxins.

An individual’s convenience should not impose a toxic poison on the rest of society. Unfortunately, there is little option but to spew out the toxins.

th[2]It is well documented that our leaders led us to this mire. We were encouraged through marketing that diesel cars emitted less CO2 than petrol ones and thus a switch to diesel was good for the environment. With tax incentives e.g. reduced road tax.

Astonishingly, ‘more than 10 million motorists were “betrayed and misled” into buying diesel cars’. In consequence 18 cities across Britain have more NOx in the air than permitted by law.

www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/news/11007326             August 2014

There are now an approximate 12 million diesel cars on the road in the UK and the numbers are increasing annually.

Two years since the telegraph article and still we wait. Arrrh! It’s worse! In 1993 [23 years] Professor Roy Harrison of Birmingham University chaired a committee that warned the government of the dangers associated with diesel cars. www.independent.co.uk/life-style/motoring/motoring-news/  Jan.2015

This was the same year (1993) that the EU introduced directive E. See the post Driven Mad. The point is that knowledge of the risks was known and our political leaders chose to ignore it or dilly-dally with solutions.

July is the 60th anniversary of Britain’s 1956 Clean Air Act brought about by the London smog. Our air quality is now worse! Seriously! It’s all to do with politicians playing into the hands of the car manufacturers. Since 1993 they have been chasing the car industry to improve emissions, giving the manufacturers more time to get it right. The automobile industry has abused the situation.

Back in 2013 it was stated that nitrogen dioxide (NOx) had, ‘a greater impact on human health’. That we could significantly reduce NOx, ‘if the lower emitting technologies were more widely adopted’. But very little has changed in the past 20 years.

www.airqualitynews.com/2013/05/24/newer-diesel-cars-emitting-more-no2-study-finds

Another report highlights the work of the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics who suggest that poor air quality causes around 40,000 premature deaths annually in UK. Europe wide the figure is an unbelievable 400,000 per year. Wow!!!

Airqualitynews.com/2016/07/05 +  airqualitynews.com/2016/07/04

Do some good…..Join Robin Hood.

 

 

 

Driven Mad

thUZ27UX9O

Two guys in the USA looking at car emission issues were puzzled as to why American cars waltzed through the tougher emission testing whereas the European cars had difficulty. They decided to carry out a number of tests to see if they could come up with an easy solution, and to prove that cleaner cars could be efficient and still retain their power. They tested Volkswagen vehicles. The storm began!

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/road-and-rail-transport/11883343/

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen­_emissions_scandal

The exposé of Volkswagen over the emissions from their diesel cars has led to a bonanza of enquiries about emissions.  We are all now aware that we have been systematically lied to for decades by the automobile industry.

An examination of the testing techniques employed to determine the degree of emissions by Which?  consumer group has revealed a devastating picture of deceit by all the leading manufacturers. The extent of the deception is quite staggering when laid adjacent to the number of deaths associated with the pollution from cars.

Incredibly, 97% of all diesel cars give out nitrogen oxide (NOx) a highly toxic substance. The Which? sponsored tests by Emissions Analytics (EA) under the auspices of Imperial College London (ICL) has burst the protective bubble around the manufacturers. Which? describes the previous lab-tests as, ‘so seriously flawed they’re meaningless’. www.theguardian.com  January 2016.

Another dynamic of testing is that in colder conditions the emissions become worse, e.g. below 18C. A mechanism in the engine closes down which in turn facilitates more miles per gallon (mpg) but at the expense of greater toxicity. Obviously the manufacturer will highlight the better mpg and say nothing about the toxic emissions. Beware marketing!! Professor Ricardo Martinez-Botas of the ICL was taken aback and ‘shocked’ by the findings.  Daily Mail 23/06/2016

The Guardian further reports that by 2020 London will introduce an ultra-low emission zone.

Q? Why ultra-low, why not a definitive NO! Why wait until 2020?

Both car producers and politicians have been aware of the adverse effects of NOx and yet we wait to take action. The technology exists to produce cars of nil NOx emissions!! Note the words of Sir Malcolm Green professor of respiratory medicine when he says that such pollution is ‘shortening people’s lives’.

We may never know the full extent of the death rate from car pollution or how badly it affects asthma sufferers. Particulates from diesel cars are the deadliest form of air pollution and can easily trigger an attack of asthma. We know it brings on emphysema and bronchitis but what else.

  • The number of diesel cars in UK has risen from 1.6million 1994 – 12 million to date.

thE0TWUDA5The death toll is frighteningly high. The Mail online January 2016 suggests a figure of 30,000 annually with 23,500 directly related to diesel cars. The Guardian 2014 gave figures of 42,000 with 29,000 associated.

  •   NOx levels in UK are ‘far above safe levels for human health’. Mail online
  • NOx is at illegally high levels in several British cities. Guardian April 2016

Q?  Why have our politicians allowed this travesty to continue?

The answer may surprise you. Since 1993 the EU has introduced directives (E) to mitigate the pollution. In 2005 E5 was passed, in 2015 we had E6, therefore as far as the politicians are concerned the car industry has been pushed decidedly in the right direction. Hurrah? NO!

  • Those suffering from the effects of the pollution are not dancing in the street.

Taking the sum of 30,000 deaths per annum in UK, add some 40,000 from France and then the rest of Europe and we have well over 100,000 deaths due to exhaust pollution. One hundred thousand + deaths per year! If these souls were war dead, major ceremonies would have been held, plaques would have been placed in various venues and bronze statues raised in honour of our dead. But hey, most deaths are just a scattering of ordinary Joe’s.

thIQB7HPADA staggering death tally and the silence of our politicians’ hammers home a truth, a terrible truth – profit before people. As the death toll rises the EU is set to permit double the official limit of toxic emissions until 2021 and at 50% above thereafter. (Guardian) These targets I can only assume are based on the lab-tests so discredited by Which?.

Our leaders may suggest that their rationale is governed on the available science.

  • They encouraged people to buy diesel.
  • They are allowing the continuation of the pollution, beyond 2021.
  • We have the technology to build better engines. Now!
  • Since 1993 they have had knowledge of the cause and effect of car pollution.
  • The death toll is rising.
  • The number of cars on our roads will continue to increase. Pollution? Dah!

Roads

Roads go on

While we forget, and are

Forgotten like a star

That shoots and is gone.

Edward Thomas 1878 – 1917

The failure to insist on the use of better technology is an act of disdainful arrogance by the parties, the manufacturers and the politicians. The only conclusion to be drawn is that they are in cahoots. That our politicians skewed the advantage to industry is a surreptitious abrogation of their elected responsibility. It illustrates in graphic detail their utter contempt for the concept of democracy.

Q? What was the industry’s motivation? Profit!

Q? Will it ever end? Volkswagen is to pay $15 billion in compensation to USA drivers. Is this the necessary sting in the tail?

Do some good…..Join Robin Hood.