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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Child Sexual Abuse: It’s a Man Thing!

 

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

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 The gratification of the male has superseded the innocence of childhood.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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

www.childhelp.org/pages/statistics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libido

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

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

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

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

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

Fair Trade: Really? (Blindland 11)

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scenario:

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

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

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

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_trade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

www.theguardian.com/global-development                      May 2014

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Free Trade: Nothing for Nothing. (Blindland 10)

 

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

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

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

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

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

www.policyalmanac.org/economic/archivefree_trade_agreements.shtml

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

www.economist.com/news/leaders/2159261

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

th5DOBCQG5

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Competitive_advantagethRAQAJJJT

 

 

 

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

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

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

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_trade

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

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

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

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

www.theguardian.com/uk-news/

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

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

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

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

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

www.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Trade_Organisation

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

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

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

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

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