The Left and the Brickwall.

 

th83MEZBW5The Left in UK politics as elsewhere are remnants of lost tribes. There are so many groups and factions, so many one-dimensional believers. Their voices do not resonate with the people but rather sound like interference over an inaudible crackle. Little wonder that the public are left bemused by the Lefts’ call for change. The vision of the Left is blurred by yesterday and the lack of a policy of representation and comradeship. Past infamies forgotten, the Left in politics strive to keep their dream alive.

Many on the Left cannot understand why capitalism continues remorselessly, and why the people do not rise in opposition. However, like their (so called) intellectual brothers the people have no vision of a future as they are too tired from everyday routine and pondering every night on a tomorrow that will be the same.

The poor retreat into a come-what-may attitude and religion. Meanwhile their erstwhile leaders scramble for a foothold in tomorrow’s world by borrowing a Liberal overcoat. All the people hear is rabble-rousing of a thousand diverse voices challenging them to join the battle. But food must be put on the table and a semblance of self must be given space.

In essence, the Left are more lost in the political wilderness than their poor brethren. Karl Popper, sums it up neatly, “…we hate the very idea that we may be mistaken. So we cling dogmatically to our conjectures, as long as possible”. Oxford Dictionary of Quotations

Reluctance to change has been emphasized just recently at the World Economic ForumthXCVP4YWC in Davos, Switzerland, when a couple of the protesting groups decided to end their campaigns at the venue after 15 years. For over 20 years various groups on the Left have been protesting against the participants at Davos and what they represent. Sad to say but the protesters have achieved nothing.

Attacking the Dmen on site is a waste of time and energy. It brings the media to their defence and has the protesters demonized. What good does it do for the ordinary Joe?

Scenario:

Pub commentator: What’s it gonna change? Nutting mate. So, what’s the point mate, thN7AC3ES5eh? (Should be on Radio 4)

Old Granny: They should do something with their lives instead of all that screaming and stuff; causing trouble. Why don’t they get a job?

Conspiracy theorist: It’s a gang of fascists paid by the Dmen to make sure they get publicity. No kidding!

The Davos meeting is of the rich and famous in business and the political wanna-bes who have been holding an annual meeting for over 40 years. The blurb they issue says they’re committed to improving the state of the world by:

  • Sustained economic growth
  • Mitigating global risks
  • Promoting health for all
  • Improving social welfare
  • Fostering environmental sustainability

I’m afraid the Dmen have not been very successful; 40 + years on and they haven’t achieved any of their goals. During their watch we have had several financial crises culminating in the debacle of 2008 which is still smouldering. And every day the environment takes another battering: oil spills, plastic islands in the ocean’s and rain forest depletion. Throughout Europe and elsewhere wages are falling, employment rights ‘tossed in the dustbin of history’ (Trotsky), welfare payments cut and slavery on the increase.

thB7VOPRTBIt is simply incredulous that they have the balls to turn up every year. Well, with 5* accommodation, 5* food, 5* wine and 5* scotch (can I join?) lots of hobnobbing to size up a good deal and photo shoots galore to impress the natives back home, who wouldn’t. After all, they are of the Clan ‘Id’ which Freud describes as “…knows no judgements of value: no good or evil and no morality…” The Clan ‘Id’ thrive on instinctive and primitive urges of the pleasure principle. For us, well, there’s always a pint and a kebab.           www.psychology.about.com

“Professional men, they have no cares;

Whatever happens, they get theirs.”    

Ogden Nash

And where are the defenders of the people? Marxists, Leninists, Trotskyists, Stalinists, Anarchists and piss-artists, so many ‘ists’, factions by the score. The sheer number of groups is evidence that the Left is split asunder. Out of date and out of touch, for the workers they won’t do much. That they cannot agree on a platform is an indication of the number of little Stalinist’s out there. It’s their way or no way. The people don’t need a shepherd, some understanding and a touch of guidance would help. The hearts of the Left are beating soundly but their solutions are awry. They need to stop chasing rainbows! It is not about equality in life, it’s about quality of life.

We will never be equal in all aspects of life. There are too many variances of input into a child’s upbringing and a whole myriad of interpretations that determine the adult outcome. This is why we have artists, bookworms, those who love figures – the maths kind, and others who will be happy to do-up old bangers. It’s what makes us so damn beautiful. But one thing we should all agree upon is that no human being is more important than another. It’s about fairness and a tad of respect.

A failure to understand, a failure to listen, and thus a failure to open their mind to new possibilities is what has the Left stuck in a mire of righteousness. Their dogma conditions them to push, demand and force the people into their vision. The die-hards scream and the sycophants follow as they seek to impose their philosophy on the majority, blind to the fact that such a move is fascist. Stand-up Josef Stalin!

“We become the makers of our fate when we have ceased to pose as its prophets”. Karl Popper   The Open Society and its Enemies

In cahoots with the Liberal and wishy-washy Conservatives, the workers are entitled to feel abandoned by the Left. A case in point is that of political correctness. There was no discussion with the people, no opinions sought, just accept or you’re a —- train load of abuse. It was a forced-march and many felt violated by the incursion into their everyday use of language and violated by the abuse they had to endure. The same can be said about multiculturalism. Again many felt they were being frogmarched into an ill-conceived agenda and it all seemed very much one way traffic.

But to treat Human Rights (HR) as a political whip is inexcusable. Again holding onto the coat tails of the professional classes the Left made HR a source of ridicule and much pub banter to such an extent that it is almost discredited. HR is too important to be bandied about as a politically correct minority case study. And then to try to create divisions in society by suggesting a split between the older and younger generation is the ‘last refuge of a scoundrel’. (Samuel Johnson)

Made brazen by their fervour for minority point scoring they let their passion rip on a biased political agenda. No thought, except of contempt, for the majority view is indicative of what is wrong in politics in the UK. This is not the politics for the people but the indoctrination of the people. Fascists everywhere will be amused by the flexibility of democracy.

A belief has grown among politicians and those who term themselves the intelligentsia that democracy can be utilised to impose their specific political agenda. Beware of arrogance or you may find that when your Lexus breaks down you may need a tank to get back.

Left to rot or to fester the people are let loose to make do as best they can. To contendthZL6SLM4X with the vagaries of the system and at the mercy of the capitalists who are riding roughshod over them. The belief in the democratic process will wane in consequence and poverty will raise its ugly head and snare many more aimless drifters. The traditional ‘life net’ afforded by the Left and the unions are gone; for the parties are estranged. The future is now a guessing game and a case of come-what-may.                                                  Out of context but nonetheless poignant:

“Something was dead in each of us,

And what was dead was Hope.”

Oscar Wilde   The Ballad of Reading Gaol

 

 

 

 

The Merchants of Greed.

 

 

Capitalism has long had its critics, Lassalle, Marx, Lenin and a whole traffic jam of others. But it has stayed on the road, made some detours, struggled with road works but never shut up shop. For all its failures it has coped because there is no real alternative. Capitalism survives all attempts to destabilize it because it feeds our bases demands, summed up in the old adage, the seven deadly sins.

The one major challenge, that of communism would itself deconstruct from within because, ‘love thy neighbour’ was not as strong or as lucrative as self-interest. Of course, communism as practiced in Russia and elsewhere had many other faults, notably the transposition of ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ to the dictatorship over the proletariat. The stymying of creativity, innovation and expression which could only be exhibited by the grace of authority was a major nail in its coffin.

Get into the groove, (Madonna) capitalism will dance to any tune whether upbeat or down beat. The one who winds up the machine gets to decide. It is all about power. The question is, will it be about the many or the few? The big boys feed at the top table at present, the ordinary Joes’ make do with the leftovers.

When we leave capitalism to the whims of the market, the neoclassical school of thCASYM14Seconomics, we get the tune, ‘Anything Goes’ (Cole Porter). No regulation – a free for all which benefits the rich. In consequence we had the banking collapse of 2007-2008 for which we are still paying. The poor have now suffered six (6) years of recession which shows no sign of abating. Before the actual crash, David Rubenstein, who himself had made $billions on Wall Street warned in 2007 that, “Greed has taken over”.  Cited by Suzanne McGee, Chasing Goldman Sachs p177

And so it proved. “What we’re experiencing is without doubt the direct product of the short-term greedy gambling that has become de rigueur in the world of finance”.

Geraint Anderson CITYBOY p306    a good and insightful read

th[6]Once greed enters the bloodstream it makes its way to the brain where it overpowers the prefrontal cortex, which deals with thinking, permeates the hypothalamus and amygdala. As the infection takes hold the brain starts to wither and emotion and sense are depleted.

The big boys are never really satisfied with their lot. Not only did they cause the banking crisis but later were found guilty of fixing the ‘libor’ rate and the ‘foreign exchange’ rate. For which they have had to pay fines. British banks have had to pay £38.5bn. Commenting, David Davis, of the think tank New City Agenda said, “A toxic culture which was decades in the making will take a generation to turn around”. (Sky news) Enough evidence to suggest that greed has no boundaries.

By 2010 the USA had pumped in $700bn to save the economy and had allocated in total an amazing $12.8 trillion, lent, spent or guaranteed. (Bloomberg News) www.pbs.org/ In the UK £124bn has been spent and up to £1.2 trillion to shore up any fall out. www.theguardian.com News blog

It’s astonishing, the champagne swigging big boys cause the mess and the ordinary Joe is left to clean up. While the overwhelming majority of people suffer the constraints ofthITECD3RH the recession the rich get richer.

A TV programme Dispatches for Channel 4 aired some interesting statistics:

  • The richest 2,500 households had as much as the poorest five (5) million before the recession.
  • Today it reads the richest 2,500 households have as much as the poorest eight (8) million.
  • The richest 2,500 are three (3) times wealthier than in 2008.

pound-bag-displays-british-currency-and-wealth-100287376[1]The programme also highlighted that in the last twenty (20) years there has been no progress in income for the lowest 10% in the UK. This finding is backed up by eminent economists:

“Since the 1980s, income inequality has risen in the majority of countries. The most marked increase was seen in the UK and especially the US, which led the world in pro-rich policies”.

Ha-Joon Chang Economics: The User’s Guide p333

“…politics has shaped the market, and shaped it in ways that advantage the top at the expense of the rest.”

“The top one (1) per cent of Americans gained 93% of the additional income created in the country in 2010, as compared with 2009.”

Joseph E. Stiglitz The Price of Inequality p 32 & p61 respectively

The analysis by the two economists is given added weight by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) one of the top think tanks who state, “…that the UK economy would have been 20% bigger had the gap between rich and poor not widened since the 1980s”. The report goes on to say that, “… income inequality has a sizeable and statistically negative impact on growth”. Guardian 9-12-2014

There are numerous stories about companies and individual’s preoccupation with dodging the taxman. Goldman Sachs one of the prime culprits in the debacle that lead to the crash of 2008 is still at it. A high court judge has ordered them to reveal the size of their profit in a deal with Libya, e.g. sold the Libyans a poor package but reportedly made a profit of £350m. The Libyans are also suing the French bank Societe Generale for alleged bribery. Guardian 24-11-14

Goldman Sachs are also in the dock accused of rigging the price of platinum and palladium with cohorts, BASF of Germany, HSBC of the UK and the Standard Bank of South Africa. Now that’s what you call a cartel. The big boys working as a body to ensure they maximize their profits. I wonder what the neoclassical economist would make of that derivative of free trade.

Alas, they are not alone. In Indonesia there is an investigation into tax avoidance of potentially $5bn and another investigation into the mining industry accused of tax evasion of some $2.33bn. Reuters 27-11-14

Apple have three cases to answer for, 1) trying to impose a monopoly on downloading which could cost them $1bn if they are found to have breached anti- trust law. Secondly, they are in the dock for colluding to force the price of e-books up. 3) Are appealing a decision in court against a settlement of $324.5m for colluding to hold down wages. (Reuters 2-12-2014) In Europe they are under scrutiny for the sweetheart tax deals that are causing a ruction there.

Microsoft is having problems in China where they have been forced to pay $137m in back taxes. The company is also caught up in the sweetheart deals as their income is channelled through “foreign operational centres” in Ireland, Singapore and Puerto Rico which have very lax tax arrangements. (Reuters)

The list goes on. I could write another page full of the games that the big boys play. Why are they never satisfied? There is a paradox here; they continually rip off the ordinary people but have laws on ‘insider trading’ to prevent them being ripped off. Talk about double standards, hypocrisy is not a strong enough word.

th2KBIHJ24We are continually being waylaid by the big boys via their use of cartels, monopolies and dodgy tax deals. There is no sense of community, no thought given to society; it is all very self- focussed. Their actions are like kicking someone in the teeth when they are already down and out.

What avenues can the people pursue that will give them some leverage in the decision making process? The road ahead is bleak, it’s dark and winding, it may seem forbidding but just keep telling yourselves that there is treasure at the end. Democracy can be that treasure. I know, some will throw their hands up in disbelief and feel like shooting the messenger but its democracy or the same old highwaymen as now. Democracy is at present controlled by the Sherriff of Nottingham but each of us can join Robin Hood and do some good.

Of course we become more reliant on government to do a better job and that raises issues of trust: “Rather than correcting the market’s failures, the political system was reinforcing them”. (Joseph E. Stiglitz) The Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang suggests an alternative, “The focus on the market has made most economists neglect vast areas of our economic life, with significant consequences for our well-being”. P455 A fellow economist Herbert Simon has estimated that, “…only about 20 per cent of economic activities in the US are organized through the market”.

According to Stiglitz, (p66) a Nobel Prize winning economist much of the inequality that we experience today is because of poor or lack of decision making by government and of course the influence of the big boys. Sad to say but many voters have turned away from the democratic process as they feel alienated by the system. It will be difficult to win the Joes’ back to exercise their rights; this is the challenge for the Left in politics and all those who believe in democracy.

I bring your attention to the rise of Ukip in Britain; you may not agree with the politics of the party but hopefully see the potential. The three main political parties have been seriously ruffled by the emergence of Ukip and have amended policy quicker than you can say – …. Off. People power can work – make it so! If not the big boys will swamp us with their global grab and our pockets will jingle with less and less.

Government can work; we have laws against cartels and monopolies, granted that hasn’t stopped the big boys but good government can make the laws tougher and enforce them. As far back as 1984 the US government broke up AT &T the giant telecommunications business. (Chang p385) The EU is seriously considering a similar move against Google who have cornered 90% of the market. However, the US has warned of ‘trade consequences’ – big boy influence. Telegraph 27-11-14

With the right people elected we can insist on waste management to stop the lucrative deals handed out to big business. We can monitor how our reps: vote and make that information public. Leave them to answer to the twitterati. We need more investigative journalist to expose the fraud or mismanagement in the political and business world.

The power is ours for the taking. Yet too often we hear the despair of many, “I’m only one, what difference will it make”. That is a sad reflection of how people have been made to feel powerless.

Don’t be a flibbertigibbet – stand up — shout out!

Don’t be a flibbertigibbet – put on your coat — go and vote!

 

Politicians: The End is Nigh!

th8QDGFJKZThe political class should be very grateful that the people in the UK still have a belief in the democratic process. Otherwise the French Revolution would have had a counterpart. The ‘we know best’ attitude of the elite is akin to Marie Antoinette’s “let them eat cake” parting shot during the French upheaval. The opportunity is there to maintain the present balance in society if they have a mind too. If, and only if, they are humble enough to acknowledge that the people are right to cry, ‘enough is enough’.

Politicians must debunk the Machiavellian school of political thought that depicts the ordinary people as, “ungrateful, fickle, simulators and deceivers, avoiders of danger, greedy for gain”. The mirror can be a wonderful reflection tool; politicians and the big boys should look into the mirror and repeat the words of Machiavelli.

The Prince, chapter 17, The Great Philosophers (3), The Independent

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niccolò_Machiavelli

However, all that I have heard and read in various interviews by MP’s of all the parties was the same old spin, same old platitudes and the same old ‘we know best’ attitude. The regurgitated rhetoric of, ‘we are good – they are bad’ spouted at every election and the other piece of nonsense, vote for us and note the difference are both piddle. Nothing learned, no shame, no humility, not even a slither of humble pie.

They are so used to their respective dogma that they themselves have become hypnotized by it. Deeply enmeshed in the credo of their taught spiel they are oblivious. The language has become so embedded in their psyche that every utterance is a sound bite from their PC dictionary. No need to think, just reiterate a couplet from the catalogue of pat answers.

Of course the political class accept democracy as a naïve but necessary belief system for the hoi polloi and, a method of control par excellence. The problem is that the people have come to believe that they should have a say in their own lives. That everything cannot be left to the whim of the political elite. Contempt is a two-edged sword or in the words of the old parable, ‘what you sow so shall you reap’.

Unwarranted arrogance will be the undoing of the political elite. They have all but sheared the one remaining component that the electorate hold – Trust. The scepticism of the voters has turned to anger and is now bordering on hate. It would be a mistake to assume that it is all to do with the recession. The peoples’ contempt has been brewing over the decades. A solution is vital if society is not to splinter and we witness the emergence of several violent groups who have no other logic but to destroy.

The bankers, the wealthy and the political wanna-be’s splurge their gain as a child might pirouette in a new longed-for dress. However, “a society that does not recognize the morality of “enough” will see excesses arise which verge on the obscene, as those who have first choice of society’s riches appropriate them for themselves. Democracy will not long tolerate such an abuse of the market”. Charles Handy, The Hungry Spirit p116

It is imperative that our politicians dash back to their pre-school of political speech and thought for an update. They need to be re-infused by the spin doctors who themselves should re-evaluate their procedures to re-invigorate their troops. The cool dudes issued with their new vade mecum (vay-di mee-kuhm), having ditched their ties and have their jackets swung over their shoulder will emerge, new whitened smile beaming and the old message rehashed – ‘you can trust me, bro’. But when the refuse men sweep up the puke and search for a political landfill, the politicians will have their answer.

Somewhere in the distance the sun will rise. Politicians will probably need an epiphany to realise that change is necessary, real fundamental change. They need finally to understand that they cannot treat the ordinary Joe with disdain while filling their pockets with expenses.

thS2IXJ0Z3Over the last few years the Joes’ have let the politicians know that they cannot be force-fed into accepting the unrestricted needs of big business. The big boys cannot exploit the poor of Europe to boost their profit margin and merely disregard the consequences to British society, i.e. immigration, leaving the government to clean up their mess.

Nor can the Liberal elite ram their politics down the throat of the people: multiculturalism, political correctness, human rights for minorities or affirmative action; an adopted American programme to force equality issues which in 50 years has not moved the race goalpost one metre forward but may have damaged it irrevocably. The people have refused to be brainwashed by the demands of the Left or Right in politics.

The Liberal elite need to pay heed to Edmund Burke:

“Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring with importunate clink, while thousands of great cattle, reposed beneath the shadow of the British oak, chew the cud and are silent, pray do not imagine that those who make the noise are the only inhabitants of the field, that they are many in number, or that, after all, they are anything other than little, shrivelling, meagre, hopping, though loud and trouble-some, insects of the hour”.

Cited in Charles Handy, ibid p103

I am not sure that politicians of whatever creed fully comprehend the concept of democracy and how it is supposed to work in practice. I suggest they learn quickly or lose their prestigious seat.

Perhaps it would be easier for our politicians and the Liberal elite if they came to understand political philosophy and the attributes of democracy from the wisdom of thethECDXQXFJ Wombles:

“Because he is short on opinions so much of the time, the others have a tendency not to pay much attention to Tomsk. But, as the others discover when the Burrow is nearly smashed by a falling tree, no good comes from ignoring Tomsk when he starts talking”.

Tess Read, The Wombles Guide to Life p151

Europe and the Financial Times Analysis

I recently read an e-book, Britain and the EU: In or Out? It was a series of articles by past and present journalist of the Financial Times (FT). Needless to say, but I will, themap-eu-member-countries-14142535[1] FT supports the UK remaining a member of the EU. Big business supports the UK being in Europe. The American government wants the UK in. All the main political parties; Conservative, Labour and Liberal want Britain to stay in. With such an array of backers should the little people shrivel up and scurry behind their couches, leaving the big decisions to the big boys. The answer would be a definitive no, non, nein.

The primary reason for the wealth of support is big business and their insatiable drive to make profit. And yes, I do appreciate that business is the mainstay of the world’s economy, and we are, at this juncture in time, reliant on business for our general well-being. However, this does not mean that I should therefore follow their diktat or line up behind their every command. After all they caused this mess.

One of the articles makes it clear that the majority of the electorate in the UK would vote to exit the EU. It would be fair to say that in many countries within the EU, i.e. Spain, France, Italy, Netherlands and others the vote to opt out would be very strong. People are genuinely angry at their individual plight and that of their community. Obviously their anger has multiplied since the recession began in 2008. However, even before the banking collapse there was widespread disgruntlement with the euro.

thHCBKO3M8It is easy to understand the gripe that people hold about the recession. Unemployment has rocketed in many countries, e.g. 8% to 26% in Spain and to 28% in Greece. Youth unemployment is above 50% in both countries. The recession is hurting the working class throughout Europe. It is the workers who have had to shoulder the bulk of the cost. Thus the least able to manage are the worst affected. The ordinary Joes’ are the most innocent of all the actors in this debacle; the bankers, big business and politicians cannot plead any innocence.

Stats: Ha-Joon Chang Economics: The User’s Guide

This is a problem with capitalism, there are no restraints on the big boys, and they smash the sphere in pursuit of ever greater profit. There’s no morality. And when thethKF8B2C69 bubble bursts, the ordinary Joes’, with little option, are left to pick up the pieces and then sweep the floor. Welcome to the EU that the FT support and recommend.

When Britain held its referendum in 1975 and voted to remain in the EEC, the FT journalist wrote that the decision had, “banished the issue from the centre of British politics”. The journalist David Watt went on to say, “that the issue will no longer provide the main channel into which almost every other grievance and dispute in British politics flows”. Well the FT got that spectacularly wrong.

In 2004 Philip Stephens blamed the xenophobia of the tabloid press for the distrust of the Brits towards the EU. This raises a number of questions:

  • So the people have no experience of their own, they need to be led?
  • Were the papers following the diktat of the proprietor/ editor of the paper?
  • Why would the newspapers hold such views?
  • The electorate are thick?
  • Is there any point having democracy? Just ask the papers!

Stephens then goes on to blame a historical longing, a romanticized view of the past, a hankering for the good old days. Once again the people are clueless, have no view on the future and hold a contorted vision of the past. Being thick in this context is an understatement. Yet, many in their thousands x10 spend their holidays in France as well as the sunspots. Many, many thousands have decamped to France on a permanent basis.

Another quote suggests that the politicians of the EU are happy with the present set up, “European partners are comfortable with the politics of give-and-take”. However, by January 2013 the paper reports, “Ms Merkel also fears that Mr Cameron’s plan to unpick existing policies could create a free-for-all, with France and other protectionist minded countries trying to undo the rules governing the single market”. Ms Merkel also opined, i.e. that if the UK does opt out of Europe it might “tilt the EU in favour of the less economically liberal southern European bloc”. Not a lot of give-and –take there then!

It would seem from the voice given to Ms Merkel that Britain’s decision is critical to the very future of the EU. The statements also lead to an interpretation that there are inherent weaknesses that the EU cannot contain in the long term. From an economic perspective structural change is a must if the euro is to survive and the EU itself.

A further nail in the coffin, “British business and the financial sector concentrated in the City of London are deeply divided on the issue of membership”. Add to that gloomy picture that foreign investors are split and that 50% of small to medium businesses want renegotiation. And while Europe used to account for 40% of global trade that is now down to 25%. There may be more and a broader base of markets elsewhere.

There is no detailed analysis by the FT of the EU to illustrate the good points or expose the weaknesses. It can only be assumed that the FT couldn’t find enough positives to outweigh the negatives. Instead the FT adopted a parental attitude toward the British electorate based on assumptions about xenophobia and historic doddering.

Nonetheless, in February 2013 they reported that a Harris poll showed 70% of the electorate point to immigration and Justice as key elements in their distrust of the EU. It is a pity that the FT analysis ended in March 2013 otherwise they could have reported on the spectacular rise of Ukip as the protest party in the UK and one that could fundamentally change the landscape of British politics.

  1. Why did the FT not examine in any detail the anxiety of the Brits?

Emphasis is placed on the fact that America wants us to remain in the EU. My automatic response would be, so what. The US doesn’t need us as a trading port as they invest 32% in Europe and just 10.5% in Britain. Geoff Dyer Jan: 2013.

Obviously, the UK is seen as a valuable puppet for the American government to manipulate when dealing with the other powers in Europe. Britain’s voice allows the Americans to be heard, especially on free trade, NATO and securing the old Russian satellites a welcome to the EU bloc.

While the FT is unequivocal in its support for continued membership, their e-book convinced me otherwise. The fears of Angela Merkel over the possible self- interest blocs. The revelation concerning the tax sweetheart deals by Luxemburg and other States. Whether Jean-Claude Juncker can remain as a credible leader within the EU? The iron grip that Germany holds over the coffers of European Central Bank and, its refusal to allow quantitative easing for fear of a debt burden. Is Germany trying to force France and Italy into structural change? The worry expressed by Michel Barnier European Commissioner until Nov: 1st over “the rise of protectionism in many countries in Europe”. (Hannak Kuchler Feb: 2013)

Meanwhile the economy of the Eurozone is moving at a ‘snail’s pace’ Reuters 14/11/14 Italy the 3rd largest economy is still in recession, Germany and France are stagnating and while Spain and Greece are healing they have done so at a heavy cost. Both Spain and Greece have made structural changes including severe wage cuts. The UK has made wage cuts, and has a soaring debt which the government has decided can be paid in part by selling off the family silver (Ted Heath) – Eurostar. Is there a remedy for backward thinking?

Unless France and Italy follow the lead given by Spain and Greece and make structural changes the outlook is quite bleak for the Eurozone. Germany too has a shadow in terms of a large investment gap which some economists suggest will block the light of regrowth.

It is quite clear that the EU has been riven with self-interest at its very heart, since its inception. The recession has merely uncovered the basic instinct of the member states, the sticking plaster has been torn off exposing the sore to the elements and how each seek their own remedy. Perhaps the member states should pay heed to Charles Handy:

“Self-interest, unbalanced, can only lead to a jungle in which any victory will mean destroying those on whom our own survival will ultimately depend”. The Empty Raincoat p81

There can be no equalization of economies within Europe. The richer nations cannot subsidize their weaker neighbours without it affecting their own economy. For six (6) years Europe has been in the doldrums and the short term future is shrouded by dark clouds.

The EU must be reformed if it is to survive. At present it is a money spending machine; th94GYEJXKit’s like having an ATM doling out wads of dosh to anyone at the press of a button. Many economists talk of the need for structural change to pull our economies out of the current recession the EU must be the starting point.

To argue that, ‘you must be in it to reform it’ is baseless. This is the frightened call of the zealots who cannot visualise an alternative. The UK has been a member for over forty (40) years and things have only got worse. Listening to political fools is akin to being left alone in a nursery class with 40 kids. Help! Not quite the babbling brook envisaged.

On the Road to El Dorado

 

 

They jet speed ahead leaving the people bemused by their haste. The people cry for them to wait. But the Pseuds’ don’t listen. The people try to pull them back and call out for the Pseuds to explain. The Pseuds won’t stop or slow down.

The people try once more to hold the Pseuds’ back with little success.th5JO5Q6I2

“Catch up!” the Pseuds’ scream back at the people. You need to follow! You need to follow”.

The people pull harder. “Be aware, there’s a cost to everything”.

“Passé,” the voice of the Pseuds’ drifts back.

“Wait,” the people cry, “rushing leaves little time for thought”. Their voices carry on the wind. “What you lose in speed you gain in understanding,” the voices of the people harmonized on a cloud of cold air. “We don’t want to change everything all at once. We should keep what’s good and think before we step into the unknown. What colour will we find at the end of this road? Walk, so that all can follow, leave no one behind to a bedlam of hate and envy. Walk, we will still get there and we can examine the route forward so as not to make mistakes that haste can cause”.

“Hurry,” the distant voice of the Pseuds answered. “We must get to El Dorado”.

“What would be the point?” ask the people. “If we are forced to leave many behind, the goal is worthless. You do not listen. What makes you so sure that you are right? You can run but we will not be dragged. We have come to a crossroad, you think politics, and, we think community”.

And so the great paradigm continues. The attempt to herd the people lapses because those who anoint themselves as leaders fail to understand the beauty and strength and value of community.

The Ennobled Leadership:

The ‘left’ in politics are more divided than their polar opposites on the ‘right’. It seems that every thought generates a faction on the left. So many factions, so many political views from the mealy-mouthed do-gooders to the fascists on the extreme left, each demanding, each with a ten point plan to reach El Dorado. Each faction is adamant that they alone hold the map; only their programme can activate the sequence of events that will lead to the Promised Land.

Moreover, just as the political class on the right fail to take cognizance of the electorate th3XEPWNZGso it is with the left. The people are encouraged to follow not to lead. Hence the concept of ‘democratic centralism’ under which the leadership dictate the policy to be adhered to. A comrade may challenge the leaders of the party but they better remember to sleep with their eyes open. Force is the key noun in the left’s armoury. If they can’t dictate they seek to brainwash, which is just a slightly more subtle means of using force.

We have witnessed the dictatorial power granted to the leadership under ‘democratic centralism’ since the Russian Revolution of 1917, in every communist state. They have all ended up as a one-party state with the merest semblance of democratic involvement of the people. The conclusion is simple, only the leadership understand and know what is in the best interest of the people.

Democracy is no panacea!thOMVN3EG7

At every election you can tot up the promises made. Choose between candyfloss, ice cream or free rides at the fair. Yes folks step right up, get your free entertainment here! Unfortunately, the truth is that they treat the electorate as children because once you have swallowed their banal offerings and voted accordingly, you are removed from the equation. After the election they do what they had planned to do all along. Their party manifestoes are not even decent toilet paper!

The priorities of all the political parties are as one – look after the interests of big business, nothing else matters. Such an outlook will be with us for a long time because there is no alternative to capitalism around at the moment. The Labour Party (UK) is the most contemptible as they profess to be the organ of the workers. Where are all the great stags of the Labour Party that said they would rally to the needs of the poor? Look to the House of Lords on £300 a-day or to the board of some illustrious company on a fat salary or jet setting around the globe doing ‘charity work,’ on a fat salary.

And where are the poor? “Here mate! Nothing’s changed”.th9ISRWBAA

Politicians’ will never allow the electorate power because they do not trust the people to make the decisions that the political class deem necessary. Yet how are the voting public to come to terms with decision making if they are never allowed to participate. Even a car mechanic serves an apprenticeship.

The political class fear the people will not understand the principle of ‘the politics of the possible’ and that the voters will act spontaneously and irrationally and thus screw up the happy medium that has been created. Herein lies the essence of truth, that politicians have become complacent and too wrapped up in the cosy thickness of their environment. They have come to believe their own spin. The spin becomes like rote learning and unthinkingly they rat-a-tat-tat the same old spiel.

Behind the veil of democracy the politicians make their compromises, make their deals and over lunch congratulate each other on a good day’s business. As obvious as the conclusion is, it needs to be spelt out for the benefit of the politicians, the political class do not believe in democracy except as a means to an end.

The politicians’ anthem:

thCA57R6FMVote then disappear,

Go down the pub and have a beer;

Leave us to belch and fart and cheer

That over lunch we’ve made a deal that’s clear – as mud!

Who the . . . . mentioned the EU?

Hope springs eternal and so it always will be. Where there is community there will be a future. Community teaches us that there are always needs to be met. “When you have done, you have not done, for there is more”. (John Donne) The power lies with the click of the finger and the art of the mind. The internet opens up a new field of expression that cannot be extinguished by the big boys. The authorities will seek to curtail it as has been done in China and other tyrannical regimes but the people have the wit to overcome.

Quote from Charles Handy The Empty Raincoat p67. The actual quote from John Donne reads:

“When thou hast done, Thou hast not done, For I have more”. A Hymn to God the Father

The people will have the ability to organise their own polls and to let the politicians know what they like and dislike. There will be no need for a violent revolution; the power of the vote, the power of democracy will finally emerge as it should, as an expression of the peoples’ will. There are dangers as with all advances that the process can be derailed by gangs who fixate on one item politics.

Nonetheless, the future can be bright as political parties can be encouraged to include in their manifestoes the legislation they plan to pass and the rationale behind their thinking. The electorate can then voice their opinion on-line. Be aware, politicians speak gobbledegook which is intended to confuse you and put you off, but someone in the net family will explain it in clear English. Power has always been yours. Take it and make it work for all!

 

 

European Union: Sinking?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Several attempts have been made to reform CAP:

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

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

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Agricultural_Policy

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

Politicians speak loudly about human rights but only when it does not conflict with their self-interests. According to the Human Development Report (HDR) 2003, in the year 2000 the EU spent $913 as a subsidy per dairy cow but gave $8 per person in aid to Sub-Sahara Africa. In a later report 2005 the HDR stated that the problem facing the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was “rich country subsidies”. Interestingly, in 2008 the WTO meeting collapsed in disagreement over the issue of subsidies. In December 2013 at Bali in Malaysia the WTO meeting again broke down due to rich country subsidies.

“…the West spends high amounts on agricultural subsidies each year, which amounts to unfair competition”. (Wikipedia op cit :) So much for free trade!

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Don’t Roll the Dice on Slavery!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

www.modernslavery.co.uk

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

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

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

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

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

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

www.thelincolnite.co.uk/2014/09

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

The pizza didn’t last long.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘We should leave it to the government.’

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

‘And?’

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

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

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

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

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

Later.

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

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

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

‘What would be your dream scenario?’

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

‘Name that movie!’

‘Doom Traders’

‘A Cry of Innocence’

‘Bounty Men’

‘Sex: Make it about Love’

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

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

‘What would you call it?’

‘Keep your zip up’           The Iron jockstrap!

‘Drop your pants and die’

‘Don’t let Johnnie roam’

There is much laughter.

‘Seriously, what about Killing Darkness’

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

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

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

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

A conversation starts at the bar.

Warning: GovernmentthPZ03VNK6

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