Naomi Klein V Trump 1

I saw the book title, ‘NO is not enough’ by Naomi Klein, read the blurb and thought this is my cup of tea. However, I was met with a cup of gloop. No doubt well-meaning and to some extent forward thinking. But! Then I hit the last pages and began nodding my head, yeah, I’ve hit hard core. Ooh! I was at last excited, Klein and I are on the same train heading to somewhere better. But!

The mention of dismay that Hillary Clinton failed and could not be, “…a role model…” (17) had me reaching for the megaphone to scream the title of the book. Clinton was and is an entrenched and fully paid up member of the establishment. Many in the Democratic Party did not support her and actively campaigned against Clinton as their candidate. The champion of the hour was Bernie Sanders.

In hindsight, perhaps, the ruling elite of the Democrats regret their decision to force Sanders off the ticket. He could have beaten Trump but the fat cats at the top did not want to wrestle with Sanders brand of politics.

Ms Klein to her credit supported the Sanders campaign but later found fault in his policy decisions. Notable was the decision on reparations for slavery. (125) Klein quotes Sanders that reparations would be ‘”divisive”’ and that that decision may have cost him a substantial black vote. Is she suggesting he play to the gallery just for votes? I disagree with her analysis and believe that Sanders showed more understanding of the big picture of what it takes to unite the people.

Opposition to Sanders on that issue points more towards a lack of understanding of the bigger picture, which has become characteristic of the ‘Left’ in politics. There are too many questions associated with the policy of reparations: would payments be generic or individual? How much overall? Who decides how to spend it? Spend on what? The whole episode could prove fractious in the extreme. Not to forget the rest of the poor looking on.

The ‘left’ get a policy idea and run with it without much, if any, debate. You are either with them or against them. It’s an assumption of righteousness. On the mild side it’s patronizing on the other it’s dictatorial. We know what’s best for you! They get so engrossed in pursuing their own agenda they don’t see the need to consult or feel the anxiety of the poor. It’s the Moses syndrome!

Isn’t ironic that Klein supports Sanders only to go nit picking when he fails. She should be having a go at the hierarchy of the Democratic Party for their lack of vision and courage, which she acknowledges (123). But then all the guys at the top think alike. They may sport different colour ties when they meet up at the country club but eat at the same table.

Going back to the possibility of Hillary Clinton as president would only have ensured a continuation of the same old policies. Gender has no bearing on what a leader does; it’s their politics, their belief system. A female leader does not ensure a more thoughtful or caring approach to policy.

My way or …

I’ll refer you back to 1979 in the UK and the premiership of Margaret Thatcher. Her policies battered the working class into submission and caused severe damage to the manufacturing base of the economy. Her approach involved the ‘shock’ attack of neoliberalism, economic thinking of the Chicago School.

And recently, we have the rule of

Better my way …

Angela Merkel, a so called centrist politician leading a left leaning coalition. Well!! If we are to believe Yanis Varoufakis, finance minister of the Greek government 2015 and no one has refuted his analysis of what took place.* The sting began with the bailout of €110bn to the Greek economy in 2010, the first of three. Varoufakis is adamant that as the money poured into Greece it was just as quickly siphoned off back to the German and French banks that were facing collapse.

*Yanis Varoufakis, Adults in the Room (34)

This blatant and shameless robbery of the people’s money to save the banks was one of the most audacious scams in our history. To pay the debt Europe was forced into austerity. Merkel used the clout of the troika* to impose the deal. A decade later the debt is still being paid. Europe has been put on a very strict diet while Germany feasts on its ill-gotten gains.

*European Commission, European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Klein bemoans that Obama did not take the opportunity during the financial crisis (2008) to steer America in a different direction but no such condemnation of Merkel. Instead Merkel is commended for the creation of 400,000 green jobs (214) while coal still remains the basic energy provider for the nation. The decision to extend the green environment may have more to do with a dependency on Russian oil and gas.

Moreover, the ordinary people of Europe have paid an extreme price to bolster and maintain the German economy. Cracks are now appearing as the duration of the German plan continues to hurt. The EU is in deep trouble!

We must commend Ms Klein for accepting that Merkel’s raid on Europe was “merciless” (214). The actions of Merkel were a precursor to Trump’s campaign. Merkel put Germany first and had no concern for the needs of others. Trump has stated on numerous occasions that he will put America first come what may. Is he following Merkel’s lesson plan?

Merkel kicked democracy into the tall grass while she went about her business. Clear evidence can be found with the troika’s actions in Greece and Cyprus. Will Trump go that far?

Let’s leave the last word to Yanis Varoufakis:

I witnessed first hand what I can only describe as a naked class war that targeted the weak and scandalously favoured the ruling class.

Drawbridge Brothers: Nationalism

Nationalism is the closing of a door. The ideology gives off a strong penchant for isolationism and, a tendency to breed ethnic and racial discord, at times leading to hatred. If you think – ‘we must look after our own’ – it becomes a definitive barrier to a broader, more cosmopolitan outlook. It closes a chapter to a life that could be illuminating.

 

There’s much discussion about the origins and when it reared its ugly head. Francis Fukuyama1 (p187) cites two authors of the subject, i.e. Benedict Anderson who suggests nationalism emerged in the 16th century, whereas Ernest Gellner puts it at the 19th century. A third voice, Steven Grosby, Nationalism (p118) opines that it is difficult to determine.

Agreement is reached that it is a question of identity. Perhaps it could be construed as a need to belong. A powerful emotional state can be generated by the ideology. So strong are the feelings brought to bear that it can override rational thought.

It is widely agreed, Fukuyama (p191) that nationalism was ‘socially constructed’. Of course, it has mainly benefitted the elite but does have a base in tradition. However, tradition changes over the centuries. What was cultural norms and thought traditional in the 11th century is quite different to our cultural norms and way of life today. Tomorrow’s cultural norms will be different again; perhaps based more on equality and a move from borders.

The elite and political class have made good use of the powerful emotive pull of the ideology to their advantage. The consolidation of Germany as a nation following the 1871 war against France is an example. The First and Second World Wars with the call to arms ‘Your Country Needs You!’ had them lining up to enlist. An explosive cocktail of pride, – patriotism, jingoism, propaganda and manhood made it almost impossible to resist.

The European Union (EU)

The construction of the EU may seem as a step away from borders towards a new unity as noted by Fukuyama (p192) “… the European Union has been trying to construct a postnational sense of European citizenship since the 1950s.” Steven Grosby (p25) has a slightly different take on the issue when he writes that we are possibly seeing “… the emergence of the empire of the European Union.”

While the author’s intention may be more to do with semantics they do portray quite a contrast of view. Fukuyama hints at an all embracing natural development whereas Grosby has a more Machiavellian tinge to it with the use of the word ‘empire’.

My humble take is that it has more to do with erecting a force big enough to counter the emerging powers of India and China as well as to keep abreast of America. In effect the EU is a business model for economic survival. On present political course it may well become an empire.

However, the EU is not without problems, the UK has voted to leave and Spain already weak has a dilemma with the prospect of the Basque region breaking away. But Spain is not alone, in the UK Scotland threatens to divorce itself from the rest of the nation but wants to remain in the EU. Thus we have the EU trying to build an economic block to rival India, China and America while nationalism is snipping at its toes.

It is a peculiar situation that both Scotland and the Basque region want to break from their parent country but remain in the EU. Neither seems to see the contradiction that the EU wants a cohesive block with no borders but both the above want a separate border. It would seem that they do not understand the cultural shift that is envisaged for Europe.

Further afield in Canada, Quebec has a strong leaning to be independent. Some in Quebec and in the Basque area are prepared to use violence to secure their vision. Steven Grosby (p116) sums it up, “…the uncivil ideology of nationalism continues, often tragically, to have a hold, with varying degrees of intensity, on the imagination of humanity.” Read of the events of the Balkan Wars.

In all cases above, each see themselves as culturally unique in some way with different traditions, as an ethnic body. However, Alice Roberts in her book, Celts (p268) opines that there is no “…‘pure’ ethnic identity, from a genetic point of view.” She later concludes, “We’re all genetic mongrels.” In other words we are all part of a bastard race.

Throughout our history slavery has been a part of our society. People were traded all over the known world. I think of Rome which had an abundance of slaves, who did not scatter for ‘home’ when the empire collapsed, rather they were assimilated. Our history is full of conquests, of much rape and pillage. Slavery was a part of the economics of the old world as it is now with the despicable underworld of people traffickers.

Francis Fukuyama is unequivocal, “It is certainly correct that nationalism was a by-product of modernization, and that specific national identities were socially constructed.” The question is by whom? We can hopefully agree that it was not the march of the peasantry that consolidated Germany, or bound France, or Britain. Conquest, power, dosh (£ $) that was the key motivators. The peasantry did march but as enslaved soldiers of their masters.

A little bomb was left for others to get excited over by the writer Ernest Renan, cited by Fukuyama (p196) when he states, “Forgetting, I would even say historical error, is essential to the creation of a nation.” Hmm!

Nationalism has proven to be a tool in the hands of the unscrupulous, the elite and political class. They call upon it as a sheep dog to corral support for their next enterprise. Pride, a deadly sin, stirs the necessary response to action. Across the way, emotion rides past giving ‘the finger’ to intellect, rationale and reflection, who lower their heads.

1Francis Fukuyama   Political Order and Political Decay

 

Drawbridge Brothers Religion

 

 

Spanish Inquisition

                                  https://www.britannica.com/topic/Spanish-Inquisition

 Religion has an enduring history of barbarity. A history of sin! From the beginning the church has always sided with the rich and powerful, a means to an end I assume. Therefore, the church puts itself before the multitude that makes up its congregation. The church holds vast wealth which contrasts with the poverty of millions.

Hate has followed in the wake of religious fervour throughout the ages. There are so many Gods that you need both hands and feet to count them, and then borrow an abacus.

The Gods are a source of much division. Religion separates, divides and invariably leads to conflict. Once ingrained it takes a mountain of effort to break down the hatred embedded in sectarianism.

We can go back to the 11th century – 1095 and the first crusade of Christian against Muslim. There were perhaps eight crusades in total, not ending until late in the 13th century. Both sides fought in the name of their God. What was really at stake was supremacy. Poor God, (if he/she exists) was an innocent bystander.

http://www.history.com/topics/crusades

For several decades in Northern Ireland we have witnessed the division and the steps towards reconciliation. There is still a lot of walk and talk to do before the communities of Catholic and Protestant can bury their belligerence.

In the 1990s Europe was in the throes of the Balkan Wars 1991 – 2001 which was a mix of nationalism, religious and racial hatred. It began with the breakup of Yugoslavia. The various states that had been held in a tight grip by the communist leader Tito, suddenly took the opportunity to express their pent up frustrations.

Demands for independence of Croatia, Slovakia and others brought a ferocity not seen in Europe since the Second World War. Serbs, Croats, Slovenes, Albanians and Bosnian Muslims would commit crimes of atrocity against each other. Ethnic cleansing raised its ugly head and barbarism stalked freely through the streets. It is estimated that the conflict cost 120,000 lives. The legacy is mistrust tinged with hatred.

http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/uncomfortable-truths-war-crimes-in-the-balkans

A similar expression of nationalism, religion and racialism rocked Africa with ethnic cleansing in Rwanda 1994. The Hutu majority began the slaughter of the Tutsi people. The eventual death toll is thought to have exceeded 800,000.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rwandan_genocide

The recent history of the Middle East is riven with conflict. Since the 1940s the struggle between the Jewish and Palestinian people does not seem to have an end. And now the brothers in Islam butcher each other in the name of their beliefs. In the background is the political struggle for dominance in the region.

Nonetheless, the mountain of bodies grows. There’s no respect for the others religious belief. The Western liberal command for tolerance has gone unheeded. The resonance of nationalism, Israel/Palestine and the demand of the Kurdish people for independence add to the mix of religious and racial division that would suggest that their God has been abandoned. Politics rules ok!

The regimes of Iran and Saudi Arabia while modernizing are the key players in the maintenance of an extremely conservative social domain and religion plays a significant role in that environment. It will be several generations before hands are clasped in friendship.

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/iran-vs-saudi-arabia-middle-east-cold-war-explained-1535968

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2013/08/26/the-middle-east-explained-in-one-sort-of-terrifying-chart/?utm_term=.c05c8151cb01

Religion is a blasphemous means of manipulation of the ordinary citizen used by the elite. Religion has beguiled us with control of what to wear and when, the segregation of the sexes, and of course what to think. A thought control methodology second to none. Modern day prophets may wear a different hat but the dogma hasn’t changed.

Even the Nazis recognised the value of religion as a means of control, hence their attempt to promote Mein Kampf as a Nazi bible. They understood the power of religion over the thinking, acts and actions of people.

All men are created equal in the eyes of God. Not so, cries the mother with hungry mouths to feed. Not so, moans the pauper in the door way of a closed shop. It’s your own fault, sing the choir of evangelicals. We all have free will! I am free to get rich and you’re free to be poor. That’s how fickle religious folk are, no rush to help or forgive, just blame.

 Politicians talk but never walk the talk. They know ordinary Joe lives with hope and have used that hope to manage their demands. Life will be better in God’s kingdom or so the story goes. If you’re bad you are condemned to ‘eternal perdition’. Steven Grosby, p114 Nationalism

Neither does God stand in the way of capitalism. In the words of Bob Dylan, With God on Our Side – stanza 5: From the album, “The Times They Are A-Changin’”

Though they murdered six million

In the ovens they fried

The Germans now too

Have God on their side.

A mere practical move as trade must go on and money made.

More recently from the album, – You Want it Darker, song of the same title, stanza 4 by Leonard Cohen (now deceased)

They’re lining up the prisoners

The guards are taking aim

I struggled with some demons

They were middle-class and tame

Didn’t know I had permission

To murder and to maim

You want it darker.

On a lighter note we have the idealistic words of John Lennon from the song Imagine:

Imagine there’s no heaven

It’s easy if you try

No hell below us

Above us only sky

Imagine all the people living for today.

These songwriters have identified the constant misuse of religion and thus its hypocrisy. It seems the Ten Commandments were left by the roadside, soon after they were written.

Around the world religion is used by politicians to feed their political ambitions and that of their party:

1.       The tension between India and Pakistan, Hindu V Muslim/ Kashmir

2.       Christians in Kerala face persecution – Steven Grosby p76

3.       Christians in Sind province having to flee to avoid persecution.

4.       Hindu’s who believe India should have only one religion.  – Grosby p5

5.       Christians persecuted by the majority Buddhists in Burma.

6.       Persecution of Christians and Muslims in Africa.

The story goes on and the manipulation has no end in sight. I can accept that for some belief is an escape from reality and brings a degree of succour to mitigate the hardship of their daily struggle – its hope, and hope has an eternal verve that helps us carry on.

Nonetheless, religion holds back the tide of change. It keeps millions blind to the reality that surrounds them, their faith traps them in the claws of their political masters. As they are bombarded by the constant stream of jibber-jabber.

Tomorrow might be better but I refuse to look ahead because all the days before have been so harsh. I wish and I pray. And the money men hope and pray that you never wake up.

Back to the Beatles: All You Need Is Love

 

 

Drawbridge Brothers (2) Diversity

Banksy

Diversity ‘the great leap forward’ engineered by the Liberal elite was set to lead the whole population in a new and dynamic direction. But, they didn’t bother or merely forgot to invite the rest of us on their planned run. Now we have to be corralled. Little wonder therefore that there’s been a backlash.

Being intimidated to follow a diktat rubs most people up the wrong way. Especially so, when they have to consider every utterance they make for fear that someone will report them to the politically correct (PC) Stasi.

However, it’s more than just being PC:

  1. University of Edinburgh – “Diversity aims to recognize, respect and value people’s differences to contribute and realize their full potential by promoting an inclusive culture…”
  2. University of Oregon – “It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences”. E.g. race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs etc.

http://www.ed.ac.uk/equality-diversity/about/equality-diversity

http://gladstone.uoregon.edu/~asuomca/diversityinit/definition.html

It would seem that the advocates of diversity do not fully comprehend their own philosophy as they find it difficult to talk of opponents without the use of abuse (racists, bigots and Neanderthals). In doing so they fail to:

  • Build an inclusive culture
  • Recognize individual differences.
  • Others political and religious beliefs.

A question arises as to, which ‘individual difference’ takes preference, e.g. if a Christian landlord refuses to have a homosexual guest; which has precedence? If a religious body cannot accept homosexuality as an ‘individual difference’, which has precedence?  If women in a certain section of society are downtrodden, which has precedence?

We fast move along to a political hierarchy! So, are we recognizing that the other ‘differences’ are more important than religious belief? In that case should we not have a prescribed list in order of importance? But wait, if we have a list of preference are we not moving away from an ‘inclusive culture’?

  1. So is religious tolerance in or out? Or must it conform to the ideological script to be allowed on board?

Let’s leave it to the courts and sneak further from democracy.

  1. Is it justified to put right yesterday’s wrongs by over indulgence of the present generation of minorities?
  • Justification?……….. Leave a reply!
  • What of equality before the law? Has it been kicked into the long grass temporarily or permanently?

Political belief is a hot potato and many on the right-wing do not like the concept of diversity and so, should be – disenfranchised – allow only Labour and Liberal and, maybe a smattering of Conservatives – but only if they denounce Thatcherism! That darn woman!

In America the concept is wrapped up in the political agenda of Affirmative Action (AA) which has been in force for over 50 years. Again the term ‘inclusive’ strikes a hypocritical chord with many because they feel excluded. Since the 1940s the U.S. government has issued executive orders to ensure that sub-contractors are employing workers on an equal opportunity basis. This has led to cries of ‘reverse discrimination’.

Others, such as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas suggests it creates a “cult of victimization” because it implies that black people need a leg up. It has also met with political opposition with the states of: California, Washington, Michigan, and Nebraska refusing to implement AA.

A study by Thomas Espenshade and Chang Y. Chung (2005) found a bias against white and Asian students trying to enrol in ‘highly selective private research universities’. A further study carried out by T. Espenshade (2009) found a similar bias in college intake, with Asians at the bottom of the pile.

Such has been the build-up of resentment that a survey in 2007 found that 52% of whites thought that AA should be abolished. Of course this could be as a result of better right-wing propaganda or worryingly, a strong feeling of being left out. The latter is certainly the case among Asians as in 2015 a coalition of 60+ Asian-American groups filed legal battles to gain equal opportunities. Up to the present law cases are pending.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affirmative_action_in_the_United_States#Arguments_against_affirmative_action

It is true to say that AA has helped a lot of people and was perhaps, the best option at the time. This is the attitude of Noam Chomsky, but he also recognizes that, “… you find plenty of things to criticize”.

Noam Chomsky, How The World Works (pp211-212)

Some may argue that only the negative view has been expressed. However, if the intention of diversity is ‘inclusive’ then surely we must examine the voices of discord to ascertain where things are going wrong.

In the UK in recent times we have witnessed the Labour and Liberal parties institute an all-female panel for the election of prospective Members of Parliament (MP’s).

  • Is this justified?
  • Is it legal under equal opportunity?
  • Is it patronizing?
  • Will it cause any resentment?
  • Will the candidate have the respect of her fellows?
  • How will having more females in parliament make it more democratic or work better?
  • Is it all a cynical ploy to garner the female vote?

I suspect that many of the issues concerning women have more to do with the economic demands of the capitalist system than the backwardness of male MP’s. I could of course be wrong! It may be a combination of both.

The introduction of diversity was an attempt to dictate the thinking, acts and actions of the people. Which other regimes tried to dictate the thinking, acts and actions of their population? I’m thinking Germany and Russia, China etc.

It is a tough ask to change people’s thinking, acts and actions especially if it must be done now. There is nothing wrong with the concept, if we walk together. It’s just the terrible hash made of its introduction. It can only be considered thoughtless in the extreme. The Liberal elite and the political class have learned nothing from business that has long been aware that the top-down approach has serious drawbacks.

The political class have set back any hope of achieving diversity by their lack of vision and their childish rush. It may take two maybe three generations for it to take a hold on the psyche. Of course there’s always the possibility that it was a purposeful screw up!

A blanket approach to diversity as has been adopted is a severe weakness; pampering to every group and the individualist outlook is much too general. Individualism can only exist as long as the great majority are tolerant.

Moreover, a set agenda is a blind spot. Though it does lead to a piece of clarity from Karl Popper, “Who plans the planners”? Because, “…our actions in any case are likely to have unintended consequences”. Does this strike a chord??

Bryan Magee, Popper (p100)

Diversity was born of intolerance of others bias and grew in intolerance. Such was the zeal of improving the lot of many; it produced an army of zealots. That’s the nature of political emotion. The army of zealots and the patronizing attitude of the politicians played a major role in the advent of populism. Reap…..

The Drawbridge Brothers

There are an enormous number of hurdles and barriers that prevent the people of the globe from acting as a homogeneous tribe. We are a long way away from achieving such a goal – even if we consciously recognised it as a goal. Three mammoths stand in our way; I have called them the Drawbridge Brothers: Nationalism, Diversity and Religion. We have allowed them to dictate our existence.

·         There will be a separate post for each ‘brother’.

They are not in any order of importance because they each serve as a shackle. The three brothers are linked by diversity but can stand independently. They are a huge mental block on our ability to think but ironically they shelter us from the harsh decision making that is necessary if we are to progress as a society. The basic question is how the world population can move forward to become humankind? In my humble opinion all three must be banished into the dustbin of history.

The hatred out there is tangible and is found in every country. Without relying on glib answers we need to think and reflect on why and on how we can find a solution as to why there is this latest intensity of hatred. Those whose life is determined by glib will automatically point to the Drawbridge Brothers as the answer and in the same action blame those who do not agree with them as the main cause of the division between people.

Of course we can point to poverty as a cause of division which is right. We can point to the super rich, particularly the nouveau riche, who rub the noses of the poor in it. We can point to:

·         Large scale immigration.

·         Lack of jobs.

·         The galling disrespect showered on the general populace by the establishment which treats them as ne’er-do-wells for questioning such ideological diktats as diversity.

·         We can point because that’s what we do when we don’t have an answer.

You can point, I can point, and we can ride point to point and, then dance the paso doble. Alternatively, we can start to question and keep questioning until we find answers based on reason. Maybe Socrates should be compulsory in schools.

Unfortunately, the establishment have an agenda which they are committed to and for many their political careers and wealth depends on raising their hand at appropriate times. They do have the support of the left-wing middle classes – the, I’m alright jack mob – an alternative jibe to the Peter Seller’s movie.

This grouping feels somewhat obliged to help the poor; know what I mean darling. They will adopt any ruse to make themselves appear caring and cosmopolitan in outlook. What’s informally known as the ‘luvvie mob’. Without thought they bandy their latest credentials as an armband of, so-in-crowd, and think nothing of any hangover from consequence.

It’s the lack of thought, of reflection that keeps the well-meaning shackled to their visions. If they believe it and those around them believe it too, well, it must be right, mustn’t! They do not understand that having a set political agenda is a blind spot.

Walk into a church on a Sunday morning whilst the congregation is dutifully listening to the preacher. Then step aside and let the beggar behind you walk down the aisle and note the number who; clasp their noses, move visibly away from the aisle and, the number who look to the preacher to take control of the situation. The distaste will be palpable. Let those who are without sin cast the first stone.

Watch as the vaunted raise their flag; listen to their vehemence as their voice catches the cords of their anthem. The beast inside roars and beats his chest and the feeling of euphoria banishes rational thought. We cannot converse with these persons; they have been inhabited by a different personality. However, talk is what we must do and talk and talk if necessary.

Meanwhile, in the wilderness the howls of reason are deadened by the sound of the sleeping multitude.  Emotion rides past and gives a two-finger gesture to intellect, rational and reflection.

Europe: Death Throes


Europe is at a crossroads and its survival may depend on the route taken. It is very clear that large numbers of ordinary folk have fallen out with the concept of ever closer integration, and with mass migration. Multinational companies are advocates of the EU, according to the analysis of focus-economics.com. This body paints a bright picture of vibrant colours for the immediate future of the Eurozone.
While the few, (big boys) find it exhilarating, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of the poor throughout the EU fear the dark and unappealing clouds. Who is right and why the divergence of opinion?
Since the crash of 2008 not a lot has changed for the poor. Unemployment remains persistently high at around 11% for the Eurozone as a whole. The only country doing well is Germany with the lowest unemployment rate in 25 years.  www.focus-economics.com/germany
In contrast France has seen its unemployed rate rise above 10% as recently as December 2016. In Italy it’s almost 12%. In Spain youth unemployment is a persistent 24%. As the economist.com points out, there is “…high unemployment almost everywhere.” (October 2016).
Therein lies a major problem and to compound it we have the arrival of significant numbers of migrants. The figures vary, according to Frontex the EU border agency 1.8m came to Europe in 2015 with an estimated further one (1) million illegal entrants. Significant numbers continue to arrive. It really doesn’t matter whether you think it is a good idea, the humanitarian thing to do, or not. The crucial point stems from the impact. And the impact has proven seriously negative for the poor.
In highlighting the negative we need only look at the UK and that 73% of local councils take few, while councils in the most affluent areas take no migrants. Whereas, places like Boston in Lincolnshire has witnessed a huge influx. In consequence 72% of the electorate voted ‘Leave’ in the referendum of June 2016. Thus the burden of coping with migration has been firmly placed in areas with a high concentration of working class people. A class issue?
It is slowly being accepted that such an influx of numbers has a direct effect on: housing, rented accommodation and the cost of rent, school places, dentists, doctors’ appointments and the NHS especially the accident and emergency (A&E) departments. The same difficulties are not a part of daily life for those who castigate the poor for stating the obvious.
Therefore, it is the poor who carry the burden of migration. The well-off and the political elite berate the poor for moaning, and are unconcerned by the growing frustration and mounting anger of the people. As a means of demeaning and controlling any outbursts from the lower classes the establishment and their luvvie bedfellows demonize them as: ‘ignorant, uneducated, stupid or racist’ as experienced by Lord King, former governor of the Bank of England. (Daily Mail 2017/02/10)
A blind adherence to their prescribed agenda by the political class and their groupie acolytes has served only to alienate millions of voters. The consequence is now obvious.
Similar patterns are to be found throughout Europe. In Germany the altruism of Angela Merkel and her subsequent rise to fame has waned considerably. When the emotional high withers the harsh reality, the practical everyday environment comes to the fore. Germany was magnanimous but the rise of opposition has increased steadily. The AfD (Alternative for Deutschland) has been growing and estimates that it can now command roughly 25% to 30% of the electorate with an anti EU policy.
Now the Social Democratic Party (SPD) with their new leader Martin Schulz ex EU President, think they can muster a campaign. The youth movement of the party JuSos are filled by enthusiasm and think they could actually steal the election in September. www.theguardian.com/      15/02/2017
However, there are more fundamental consequences as many of the migrants are now feeling trapped in camps. Thousands complain that they cannot find work and their frustration and anger grows. Those who find work are usually a source of cheap labour paid below the minimum wage. Illegal workers are simply used and abused.
Nonetheless, the true horror comes from the sheer number of single male migrants, hundreds of thousands who have needs beyond that of shelter and food. Existing brothels will not cope with the increased need and so the void is likely filled by people traffickers to help satiate the overload. In consequence, thousands of women and children will be brought in and forced to meet the demand.
The sanctimonious will continue to berate their opposition with their abusive language and remain immune to the tragedy behind the closed doors. I’ve met their friends who accompany them everywhere they go:  see no evil – hear no evil – speak no evil! It’s unfortunate but reality cannot by itself break down a fixed ideology.
Throughout Europe there is fallout from the high unemployment, the migrant crisis and the deafness of the political class. In Sweden, once considered the hallmark of social democrat achievement has fallen foul to these undercurrents. In the city of Malmo the local police have asked for national assistance to combat the steep rise in crime.
One area particularly affected is the district of Rosengard which has an 80% migrant population but less than 40% of the total population have a job. A growth in social unrest, gang warfare and multi-ethnic violence has led to eleven (11) murders, 80 attempted murders and a spate of shootings, arson attacks and bombings. Little wonder that the local guys want additional help. (Reuters)
Si se puede
Meanwhile, a Spanish member of the EU parliament (MEP), Javier Lopez has written a piece on the ‘defense of democracy’. By democracy he means the maintenance of the existing order as he abhors the “bigoted populist movements”. Along social democratic lines he is calling for the reconstruction of the EU to incorporate a fiscal branch, harmonization of taxes, a minimum income throughout the Eurozone and better public services.
Lopez believes such a programme will curtail the build-up of populism. However, his ideas will necessitate closer integration which is the opposite of what many of the new parties in the EU want. Also, the Guardian newspaper, (theguardian.com October 2014) points to political scandals and corruption as prime reasons for the existing political parties losing ground.
In his homeland of Spain, has seen the rise of Podemos (We Can) founded in March 2014 and now the second largest party in Spain with a membership of 456,000 as of April 2016. It is also the third (3rd) largest group in the Spanish parliament. The party is a strong left leaning organisation that wants an end to austerity and changes to the Treaty of Lisbon. But to Lopez’s logic all members of Podemos and all those who voted for them are ‘bigoted populists’. Unfortunately for Lopez the motto of Podemos is – se si puede – Yes We Can!
www.socialeurope.eu/2016/12/europe-globalization-unrest
Of course all eyes are on Greece at this time and whether it can meet its debt repayment plan. There is little understanding from the ‘powers’ in Brussels of the political reality in Greece. The parties that once held sway, PASOK, centre left and New Democracy could look forward to 70% – 85% of the vote at elections.
Such numbers create a self-assuredness and in consequence a relaxed approach to the everyday needs of the electorate. The vote for PASOK has fallen to 5% at points and their joint vote to 31% at the May election of 2014. It is difficult to understand how such a change can go unheeded by the Brussels politburo.
The Greek economy has fallen by 25% which is equivalent to the 1929 crash in America. The country is on its third (3rd) bailout with the forth due soon. In the summer it has a debt of €7.5bn to repay before receiving its next tranche.
There is now an open rift between the IMF (International Monetary Fund)) and the ECB (European Central Bank) over how Greece should be bailed out. The debt problem of 184% of GDP which equals some €350bn means it will find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to pay off any of its debt. The IMF says the debt is ‘unsustainable’.
If Greece had a vibrant economy it could possibly reschedule its debts. However, the country is still in the doldrums; high unemployment, poor investment levels, poor productivity and the fact that the people don’t have a lot to spend means it’s between a rock and a hard place.
Hence the IMF wants the next bailout package to include some debt relief. But, the ECB want more austerity and are really none too happy that the Prime Minister Tsipras gave a Christmas bonus to pensioners and free school meals to children of the poor.
Now you’re aware of the priorities of the ECB and the German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble. Of course they may argue that the poor in Greece will be better off in the longer term but that don’t help when you’re hungry now. And that don’t help if you’re a political party trying to stay in power. And that don’t help unless it’s a stone cast guarantee!
www.theguardian.com/business/economics-blog/2017/feb/05/                   (A good read.)
BBC Business News 2017/02/15
Poor Greece (literally as well as metaphorically) has suffered years of austerity. And while other nations get a boost from retail sales Greece doesn’t have that luxury. Instead it is under pressure to cut pensions again which would be the thirteenth (13th) time. Unlucky for some – no pun intended. Therefore the Greek debt problem is a headache and perhaps, that’s why the German newspaper Bild has suggested that the German government would welcome Greece leaving the EU.
www.marketwatch.com   www.taieitimes.com/news/editorials/  (2017/02/06)
According to the economist Paul Krugman forcing Greece to suffer austerity which comes with every deal, “…it’s a grotesque betrayal of everything the European project was supposed to stand for.”
https://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/07/12/killing-the-european-project/?_r=0
CIAO Italy? (chow)
Another nightmare stirring in the background readying to wake the dead is Italy. This nightmare can truly disturb the sanity of the EU: dozing, dozing, dozing; alarm! The banks are described as “…an inexhaustible source of financial instability”. Unemployment hovers around 12%. It has the highest inflation rate (Feb: 2017) since 2013. Public debt continues to rise and there is no sign as yet of any economic recovery.
Interestingly, none of the major rating agencies: Standard & Poor, Moody or Finch is prepared to give the country a rating. The reasoning may be because the country’s debt stands at 132.6% of GDP the second largest in the EU. Bonds sold to keep Italy afloat are not being bought by private investors but by the ECB. Aggressively!!
The Times also reports that Italy has gained little from the euro. The paper also claims that the poorer countries in the EU can’t reach their potential because of poor growth and poor investment. Such a scenario may have fed into the logic of the Mediobanca report that states that many parts of the EU are caught in a “mouse trap” and adds “Without a major restructuring of the Eurozone, there is nothing you can do under these rules”
. www.focus-economics.com/countries/italy   www.times.com/2017/02/08/business/
Business Insider in discussing the problems of the EU concludes that “Actually, a lack of reforms, slow growth, a troubled banking sector and high government debt in Italy may be a bigger risk for the Eurozone.” Than Greece! www.businessinsider.com
La France – la sortie?
France the second biggest economy of the Eurozone has many of its own problems. Unemployment is up above 10% again and tales of political corruption have been in the headlines for a number of years. Add migration and terrorist attacks and the government is under severe pressure.
Since Hollande came to power taxes have risen to an all-time high at 47.9%, the highest in Europe. The real indicator of the well-being of the country is summed up thus, “… no significant economic improvement over the past five years”.
In terms of trade France exports 17% to Germany but imports 19% from the Germans. Their deficit is also high, while debt stands at around 102% of GDP. That only leaves Germany with a positive outlook.
www.ndtv.com/world-news/   citing an article by Reuters 2016/12/04.
It doesn’t look promising as the IMF say that the euro is about 15% undervalued but their analysis suggests that based on the French economy it is 6% overvalued. This is a problem faced by all the economies of the Eurozone but that of Germany. How would the other nations fare if the euro was 15% higher? The alternative is to leave the EU and devalue or a complete overhaul of the EU.
The French election should be an interesting one, Emmanuel Macron standing as an independent is now running high on the polls aided no doubt by the corruption scandal surrounding Fillon the right-wing conservative candidate.
Unfortunately for the French workers Macron is proposing more austerity with a package that includes cutting pensions and severely restricting trade unions to operating at company level rather than across the whole industry. Maggie’s back in town!
Marine Le Pen seems the likely opponent of Macron. The National Front programme is to leave the euro and devalue. Or create bedlam along the way.
Generally, the economic picture is not one to win investment and the policy of austerity has proved a disaster, so much so that it has been abandoned by some countries. Therefore there is no common policy to deal with the desperately slow growth that hangs over the Eurozone like a huge dark and brooding cloud as far as the eye can see.
The chief European economist for Goldman Sachs Huw Pill suggests at best the EU will stumble along making small gains. However, he warns that the EU needs ‘institutional and structural’ changes to overcome the weaknesses of the block.  www.goldmansachs.com
A further nail in the coffin comes from the economist.com (October 2016) and their assessment that there are “…deep flaws in the single currency’s design.” Flaws in the currency have been known for some time through the work of J Stiglitz and Paul Krugman both Nobel Prize winning economists.
Having already bailed out Greece, Spain and Ireland; the question must be how long can this process carry on. How long before the moneymen run for the hills?
On the political front the EU is open to severe attack from several flashpoints. In Austria Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party lost the presidential election by a mere 0.6%. The latter is far-right politically as is the AfD in Germany and other such movements have sprung up in many areas of the EU.
Austria’s new chancellor Christian Kern has made it abundantly clear that he expects the Eurozone to make big changes. He at least recognises that the writing is on the wall unless the people’s wishes are given a hearing.
The Danish People’s Party has increased its vote by 50% in eight years. In the Netherlands the far-right party of Geert Wilders the PVV with its anti-EU stance could possibly win in the next election. In Italy the Five Star Movement (M5S) has gained the mayor ships of Rome and Turin and is polling nearly 30% of the electorate. www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/25/
Just over a year ago Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament was quoted as saying, “The worst nightmare for the European project is an outbreak of populism or political upheaval in Germany. Now it is looking like a real possibility.” He went on to say that the Schengen area is ‘buckling’. www.express.co.uk/news/world/ (2016/01/15)
Which road will the politicians take? It seems that they have run out of rope but are afraid of the consequences once their actions become apparent. A Hungarian commissioner Sandor Lederer has demanded to know why the EU Commission has not released the extensive report on corruption.
He is of the opinion that “Corruption is rampant in Europe” and that transparency should be a “…top priority at all levels of governance.” Frans Timmermans reputedly told the Civil Liberty Committee that he sees no point in releasing the document. Hmm, interesting!
www.euractive.com/section/justice-home-affairs/opinions
Corruption stories keep coming up all over the continent and yet there are no sackings, no heads roll, it’s a carry on as usual syndrome. Meanwhile, ordinary Joe goes to prison for fraud. Hmm, interesting! The stories of corruption are causing a dust cloud.
It is little wonder that the populace have a growing contempt for the politicians. It doesn’t matter the party in power they follow roughly the same line of thought; it’s just different shades of grey.
There is a sweeping antagonism and a deep mistrust of the politicians and of the opaque bureaucracy they have installed. No one is accountable. No one takes responsibility for any wrong doing. No one admits to failure. Everything is fine in La La Land!
The most telling point comes from an 86 year old Frenchman Maurice Beauzac from Chartres during a street poll held by Reuters:
 “We are living at a time when the word integrity is becoming meaningless to our politicians.”
www.uk:reuters.com   2017/02/09
The crossroads has roadworks! Trapped in the mire of their own making all the politicians can think to do is attack with ever more disparaging language. Sad isn’t?
This year is one of crucial elections in France, Germany and the Netherlands the outcome could seal the fate of the European project.
If we assume that the establishment parties win by whatever margin will they read into the result a clear acceptance of their programme? Or will they note the size of the opposition, an opposition that did not exist a few years ago and concede that change must follow?
It may well be that they will carry on down that same road and continue with the policy of austerity. They may turn a blind eye to the exposé of corruption and continue their role as the proverbial ostrich.
Meanwhile, several notable commentators, Goldman Sachs, Mediobanca have called for serious institutional and structural change. The Economist magazine notes a weakness of the euro as have several leading economists. Many have commented on the sluggish performance of most of the economies of the EU and see few prospects in the near future.
The most recent set of stats from the German official statistical office Destatis paints a bright picture for Germany and the Eurozone. Germany it concludes has achieved 1.9% uplift in activity in 2016 making it the fastest growing of the top 20 nations, due to higher exports and the weak euro.
For the Eurozone it suggests the highest lift since 2011. Destatis also points to the French service sector as ‘booming’. However, this contrasts with France24.com when they highlighted that tourism, a major contributor to the French economy, had a steep decline and that Paris had seen a drop of 1.5m visitors alone.
Martin Baccardax, The Street 2017/02/23  reported in msn.com/news
Unemployment is too high throughout Europe it’s a persistent harbinger of poverty and causing a persistent distrust of the politicians. Ordinary Joe is not feeling any upsurge in their personal well being and there are few good signs on the horizon.
Note the point by the New York Times: 50% of all new jobs since 2010 are temporary jobs in Europe. It’s a job but one without prospects and one that simply keeps the debt man (raptors) from the door.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/09/business/europe-jobs-economy-youth-unemployment-millenials.html?smid=tw-nytimesworld&smtyp=cur&_r=1
Part time work feeds many problems down the line. If people are barely managing then how can they save for a rainy day? They cannot contribute to a pension for their retirement, a tab that will in all probability have to be picked up by the state. Tax increases?
Big business is screwing ordinary Joe now with part-time work and zero hour contracts. And will screw Joe later when Joe has to rely on a pittance of a pension from the government to survive.
Alternatively, people just fuel their own debt by taking out loans at exorbitant rates of interest and spend. Keeping up with the Jones’ is such fun – until the bubble bursts.
Nonetheless, at some point a state of listlessness creeps in, anxiety increases, stress leads to a host of other problems: break up of relationships, increase in violence fed by a growing anger, illness and crime.  Add a less than causal approach to productivity, all of which help to dampen the economy and force more fuel into the fire of discontent that has been growing.
Add to the mix the migrant crisis. These are people with as many aspirations as anyone else but many are finding that Europe is not the Promised Land. Lack of employment, trapped in camps, their culture clashing with local beliefs and other migrant groups. Desperate for the good life many enter illegally and too many become sub-human cheap labour for the profit hungry businesses.
“…traffickers are increasingly bringing in vulnerable people for the sex trade and as slave labour.”
Such is the problem created by traffickers that Frontex recognises that they are a       “…significant threat to the EU”.
On integration: “The high numbers of economic migrants – mostly with low educational qualifications and with a different cultural background – are not truly integrated into European societies. This causes social conflicts and critical perceptions of migration.”  http://frontex.europa.eu/assets/Publications/Risk_Analysis/Annula_Risk_Analysis_2016.pdf

Banksy

And the sanctimonious speak to their best friends: – see no evil – hear no evil – speak no evil!   Happy to smile for the cameras while playing politics with people’s lives!

Such is the political cauldron we live in today. There is but a tinge of hope that one day a door will open and objectivity will enter but alas – don’t hold your breath.
Do some good join – Robin Hood!

Marchers Against Trump

Of course it is early days but can the movement set up to oppose Donald Trump, the new President of the United States be successful. Or is it all much ado about nothing? The turnout for the marches was very impressive. The question is whether it can be maintained. According to the NY times there was a four (4) hour meeting directly afterward in New York by the organisers to think of ways to keep and build on the momentum. The danger is that it will frizzle out like so many other spontaneous movements.

An article in the NY Times by Farah Stockman makes disturbing reading as it points out that the issue of race was raised almost immediately by black activists.  A comment by one such activist from Brooklyn wrote on the Facebook page encouraging participation, “…white allies. Listen more and talk less.”

On reading the above quote a wedding planner, Jennifer Willis from South Carolina was put off attending the rally. She had planned to do so with her daughters but felt that the message did not make her feel welcome.

While we may understand to a degree the activist’s attitude as black people are on the bottom rung in American society. Nonetheless, her belligerence put Jennifer Willis off. This was not an isolated incident as Stockman pointed out that the issue of race “erupted every day, exhilarating some and alienating others”. Tension was also visible in Tennessee and Louisiana.

Another damning point raised by Stockman was that Trump campaigned against ‘political correctness’ and won with half of white female voters supporting him. I’m sure that Trump had more than one issue on which he campaigned. However, the article highlights the divisions in American society which make it almost impossible to build a cohesive movement against his brand of politics.

A further divisive illustration comes from the Portland NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). The body refused to become a part of, “…a white – women kumbaya march”. The main grievance was that the organising committee was not diverse enough and no speaker was arranged on the question of race. www.wweek.com/2017/01/11

Nonetheless, the march did go ahead and 100,000 turned out in the pouring rain to show their opinion. It is unclear whether the NAACP found a solution and participated.

Division was also evident in the choice of partner organisations. It appears that pro-life groups were not welcomed as found by the New Wave Feminists whose stance includes: anti-abortion, anti-war and against the death penalty. The complaint of the group was that they had been accepted onto the rooster but later ‘kicked off’, as were similar groups; ‘Students for Life of America’ and ‘And Then There Were None’. They joined the march anyway. www.catholichearld.co.uk

One group Planned Parenthood, who had carried out 324,000 abortions (2014 Annual Report), was accepted as a partner organisation. Therefore from the outset a political agenda was formed. Thus it is no longer a women’s movement but a political one. It may appear as a decisive step but if it leads to alienation then it is non inclusive. This is a sizable weakness. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_Parenthood

The problem surrounding the abortion debate is the entrenchment on both sides. They are the ‘Bubble People’ they see only their point of view ergo there is no room for a cosy chat over a mug of coffee to find common ground.

The NY times also reported that minority women feared that any success for the movement would only benefit the white working class. While this would not be true it is illustrative of the hurdles that must be gone over.

The article in the Times also mentioned that, “Now a wide range of groups”, are trying to keep the movement going. At first glance such a coming together can appear as a sign of strength; rather, it’s a weakness. It is a weakness that can unravel the movement at any given time. Each group may come to a meeting not to find a common objective but to promote their own agenda.

Individual groups may argue that their programme for change is one that promotes all women. One could condemn any such group as wearing blinkers or of being politically naïve. Any bid to promote a singular issue is wrong on several levels:

  • I have highlighted two contentious standpoints that of race and pro-life. Both of these areas have multiple bodies claiming to represent the whole and within their field there will be factions that want a more confrontational approach, while others will abhor any hint of violence.
  • A place at the top table and how it will be manufactured can be a very divisive block. The question of representation can be critical as noted above. Will it be by quota, e.g. said amount of black people – Asian – Hispanics – Latino – white? What of partner organisations, will their size determine their quota or seat at the top table? How will this reflect on the political stance of the movement? Many questions, there resolution will be critical.
  • Any attempt to list their priorities can also be fraught with problems. A danger rests in trying to accommodate all the partner organisations and thus the demands become too numerous to gain political traction. Some groups may feel that their particular issue has not been given sufficient prominence.
  • In future demonstrations will the organisers insist on ‘passive resistance’ (Mahatma Ghandi & Martin Luther King) or allow each group to form their own policy. Another problem is keeping anarchists and others from trying to usurp the demos. Therefore who will police any future protests?
  • It will be assumed that the organisation will be democratic; the problem will come in unrolling equal participation. How will they prevent any one group becoming dominant? Therefore causing others to walk away.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/22/us/after-success-of-womens-march-a-question-remains-whats-next.html?&moduleDetail=section-news-2&action=click&contentCollection=U.S.&region=Footer&module=MoreInSection&version=WhatsNext&contentID=WhatsNext&pgtype=article

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/09/us/womens-march-on-washington-opens-contentious-dialogues-about-race.html?_r=1

 

There are so many hurdles, so many pitfalls that it will be incredibly difficult to maintain a united stance. Some inspiration may be found in the Shriver Report of 2014 written by Sonia Pressman Fuentes of NOW (National Organisation for Women). The report highlights eighteen (18) issues that women should fight to implement.

www.shriverreport.org/top-18-issues-challenging-women-today

  1. Poverty: I was surprised to read that in 2014 some 70million women and their children live in poverty in the U.S. That America has the largest number of homeless women and children of any industrialised country. Who could not lift their banner of protest against such a picture of despair?
  2. Wages: It is a universal truth that women are disproportionately found in low-paying jobs. But according to Harvard economist Claudia Goldin if employers showed more flexibility on hours and location the pay gap could be greatly reduced. This would help women everywhere.
  3. Violence: I was staggered by the numbers -270,000 rapes or sexual assaults annually in USA. That 1 in 3 females murdered is killed by a partner. Of course this is a world issue so perhaps the ‘movement’ in the U.S. could link up with Ni Una Menos (Not One Less) who have held large demonstrations in Argentina in a struggle against a culture of machismo. The fight in Argentina has been followed by groups in Uruguay and Chile.
  4. Abortion Rights
  5. Maternal Mortality Rates
  6. Sick pay and parental leave
  7. Pregnant Workers Fairness Act – needs to be enforced.
  8. Affordable Child Care: This like some others is a world problem. Johnathan Cohn cited in the report, states, “The lack of quality, affordable day care is arguably the most significant barrier to full equality for women in the workplace.”
  9. Women in prison and their horrid treatment.
  10. Human Trafficking: where nightmares are 24/7.
  11. Female representation in many aspects of society. A world problem.
  12. Discrimination in academia.
  13. Under representation in the Justice system.
  14. Under representation in large companies.
  15. Under representation and unequal pay in entertainment industry.
  16. Keeping women in high tech jobs.
  17. Lack of health insurance, affects 30m women and girls in U.S.
  18. CEDAW Treaty – an international bill of rights for women. USA only major country that has not ratified it.

They are all good causes though some are U.S. specific. I have chosen five (5) issues which I believe are uncontentious but significantly are world issues that could help galvanize women everywhere.

Poverty: Nobody can deny that poverty affects millions all over the world and if women didn’t cope our global society would fall apart. By embracing the cause of poverty and, the numbers in America are significant, a message of hope is sent wherever the internet reaches.

Wages: An issue that women in the Western World can readily agree with. It is in the West that the cudgel can be thrown down. If women in the West are not to be trifled with a message of hope flies around the world faster than a jet.

Violence: Where in the world have women not been acquainted with violence? The fight back in South America can only be uplifting for women everywhere. The culture of machismo is world-wide. Men are conditioned towards violence and especially when they feel inadequate. It needs a massive input into education.

Child care: Governments keep talking about getting more women into the workplace but do little to encourage or enforce businesses to cater for those with children. The quote by Johnathan Cohn above tells us just how big an issue it is.

Human Trafficking: The powerlessness of these women and children surely has a resonance with all women to some extent. A global business generating some $32 billion annually: what price misery. What cost men’s libido? It’s a tsunami of barbarity, women and children used worse than pigs in a pen. There is no bright star in their sky. Unless….

Equality of Burden

By accepting the premise that all women, no matter their status, are treated as second class citizens in some aspect of their life then you have equality of burden. There is no race, no religious or class issues; these are barriers to unity. If women can see beyond their present status and they can on many issues, then they can organise/vote for change as a singular body.

America has pole position in the chase for change. However, much will depend on their ability to overcome their biases. It’s a huge problem as bias can debilitate any organisation. As noted earlier tensions arose immediately concerning race, while some minority groups feared that it may become a programme for the white working class.

However, any change in working conditions would by necessity of law include all who work in that environment. What has emerged is just how divided American society is and how perceptions can be skewed. It is a massive task for the women’s movement but a unique opportunity to transform society.

A further testing case for the organisers of the women’s movement will be their attitude to the 53% of white females who voted but voted for Trump. (NY times & Newsweek) Two points can be raised immediately e.g. will they be welcomed to participate in subsequent action or simply dismissed as beyond exorcizing.

Unfortunately, some will dismiss them as right-wing fascists and want nothing to do with them. Others will recognise that if you nick them they will bleed. Surely there are issues on which the vast majority of women can agree? It would be a failure of magnitude not to invite the Trump supporters to participate. The opposition would correctly admonish the women’s campaign as not representative of all women.

Not to welcome, not to embrace the white women who voted Trump would be akin to railroading yourself into a cul-de-sac. It must also be remembered that around 30% of Hispanics voted Trump. If women are to make a credible difference, a long lasting difference, then they need the overwhelming majority on their ticket. This necessitates that some, perhaps more than some, will have to burst their bubble and walk out into the sun to welcome the warmth that camaraderie brings.

And thus it has to be noted that abortion is an extremely contentious issue and organisers must be cognizant of the millions of Catholic women and other religious groups that cannot accept abortion on demand. It is in recognising differences that we gain strength. As a fillip to the abortionist lobby I would recommend, the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln, “I walk slowly, but I never walk backward.”

We Will Vote IF…

That is why non-contentious issues are vital. One such is violence. State the case by issuing an ultimatum: we will vote if your party will sanction stiffer penalties for violence against women and a fully paid programme in schools to educate about such violence.  If not fully implemented we will vote against you or abstain in the mid-term elections. Therefore you pick the battles you want to fight.

We will vote, IF… the government puts forward a programme to smash poverty by introducing legislation to build homeless shelters in every state. Produce a remit to subsidize specific charities to provide food and clothing to the most needy. No child should go hungry in America! No child should go without an equal chance in America! The same applies for the whole of the western world. A minimum wage can be a crucial element.

The issue of a minimum wage can be a winner as evidence shows it already has support from both Democrat and Republican women. At present the minimum wage in the U.S. is $7.25. A proposition in 2014 to increase it to $10.10 over a two year period was defeated in the Senate by the Republicans.

However, the Republican states of: Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota all elected to increase their minimum wage.  This is a clear illustration that certain issues can bridge the gulf between the classes and race to gain cross political support. The measure would have affected 16.5 m workers and lifted 900,000 out of the poverty trap. A study of Claudia Goldin’s research might reveal a second route forward.

Furthermore, to have someone’s living standard dependant on the size of a tip is monstrous. It means that tipping becomes an expectation and a must, and, is thus an unfair burden on both the waiter and the diner. Surely the amount of a tip should be based on the quality of the meal and the standard of service and not as an obligation to help the worker survive.

It’s unbelievable that the worker gets around $2.13 an hour and has to make the rest up by tips. Does the owner of the establishment then take a cut if the tips go beyond the national minimum wage? The owner must be sitting in the back of the premises counting up his profit. Scrooge lives!

Further up the ladder would require legislative change to enforce employers to act accordingly with severe penalties if they do not. Example: Any employer found to be breaking the law should be made to pay full compensation to the employee- X – by the number of year’s service and face a fine of the equivalent of one year’s income for each employee affected, plus the cost of bringing the action.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimum_wage_in_the_United_States

child care

A simple must!

Child care is the one issue that affects every family though some much more than others. I was drawn to a TV news programme the 51% on France24.com. 31/01/17 The programme which focusses on women’s issues worldwide highlighted a growing dilemma for nations in Europe. Apparently women are having fewer children and a growing number are having none. This can be construed as a matter of choice but it has long term consequences.

The obvious downside is fewer young people which equates with less taxes = less to pay for pensions + less workers = less people available in care industry etc. The main solution was to greatly increase provision of affordable child care allowing more women to have a career and a family. It gives considerable credence to the view expressed by Johnathan Cohn cited earlier.

Discrimination against pregnant workers and new mothers is an ongoing problem. It should be a matter of law, an obligation of society, taken for granted that such provision is given. After all, were would we be without pregnant women? Again it requires government to get tough but it will only do so with your vote or threat of abstention.

Child care generally is patchy, haphazard and chaotic in places but its importance cannot be underestimated, “High quality early childhood programs are viewed by many educators as a critical way to help overcome the learning deficit many low-income kids face when they start kindergarten – an obstacle many never overcome”.

While 1.6 million families use federal subsidies the facilities and teaching are not always up to scratch. Overall there is $5 billion spent on subsidies but few reports on inspection or on background checks of the workers. www.cbsnews.com/news/review-finds-lax-child-care-rules-across-us

This investigation took place in 2013 and since then Obama has instituted a programme, Preschool for All with an estimated cost of $75bn over ten years, paid for by a tax increase on cigarettes. At the time over one (1) million were not receiving any preschool. The take up figures for those living below the poverty line was less than 50%. U.S. is one of the worse industrialised countries for preschool education and especially if your poor.

Moreover, Obama’s scheme has come under serious criticism from an educational specialist, Grover J. Whitehurst who argues that a study in Tennessee has more of, “…a positive effect on children’s social/emotional development”. He argues that Obama’s plan is lacklustre at best. Tennessee Voluntary Pre-K Program (TN – VPK) is aimed at 4 year olds from low-income families.

https://thinkprogress.org/update-obama-budget-includes-75-billion-to-fund-preschool-for-all-initiative-83a77a17d8d8#.pe1z6ghdx

https://www.brookings.edu/research/new-evidence-raises-doubts-on-obamas-preschool-for-all/

Exploitation

There is a road so dark that only evil walks there, it’s the route of the people traffickers. It has to be the most despicable of all trades and this should be reflected in the punishment. A minimum of 30yrs in prison and all assets seized. Every nation should have special units that cooperate worldwide.

Any politician found to be involved must immediately stand down and all their assets seized even if it leaves their family without a home. Tough, but then they are the perpetrators of unimaginable misery.

This is a long term proposal over a ten (10) year period but action must be seen to be taken. It is also a critical issue because it mainly affects women and girls. If you can’t send out that message of hope – then go home.

The NOW organisation was founded in 1966 by 49 members of whom two were male. Only nine of the stalwarts are still active but seem to have their finger on the pulse.

Moreover, the folks at NOW might have a lot more to contribute to today’s organisers. What has inspired them to keep going all these years? What have they learned and what can they impart. There must be many stories about achievements and disappointments. There will also be lots of contacts; not forgetting the stored ability of those still standing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Organization_for_Women

http://now.org/

 

If the road was clear, with no traffic, then the women’s movement could march straight ahead gaining momentum as they pass each village and town. (Ghandi’s Salt March) Unfortunately, there are many actors who are cocksure of their direction and are adamant that their voice should rise above all others. They are a hindrance because they cannot hear the others sing. They are the soloist who feels superior to the choir.

It is these soloists that will hold back and eventually break a movement that holds a mountain of promise. They must be told to leave their baggage at the door. If they cannot burst their own bubble it must be broken for them.

There is abundant evidence that at grassroots there is massive support to push forward women’s issues. It is the collective noun that is the vital ingredient to the mix. There is an overwhelming wealth of talent out there, it would be a catastrophic failure to restrict it or allow it to fritter away. There is also solid evidence that a victory can be won by promoting a National Minimum Wage.

This is a win – win issue that can galvanize the whole movement and give heart to those on both sides of the track that all can contribute. It can be a significant stepping stone. Be careful Donald, there’s an army on your doorstep!

Vote or Abstain:  the power lies with you!