The Jink Gang

CHARGE! And they roar as they stampede towards the enemy. Suddenly they come to a halt at the moat, hurdle their abuse, stomp their rage, and make threats they cannot impose. Just then someone shouts – another fight! and off they run. Charge!

Meanwhile, the residents of the castle carry on; as do the folks on the bailey, little changed. In the distance if you strain your hearing there’s a faint echo of: charge! The stumbling, fumbling ‘Jink Gang’ push on.

Gradually some will tire as other commitments surface and the mantle is passed to the blood of youth. Others will stay for they wish to retain the notion of youth and have no ambition to accept responsibility. Love, marriage, home and kids take centre stage. Having a job and keeping it becomes a major priority.

HORROR! There is no remorse as they meld into the society they abhor to become castle dwellers or ambitious folk from the bailey. Gone is their naked rage to be replaced by a conscious awareness that needs change. It is not their war anymore. And the carousel continues to turn.

Such is the existence of the liberal left. With no clear plan, and little understanding of how to attack the castle stronghold or gain the support of the bailey folk, they tread on. Busily, they chase after every concept of injustice believing that they, are the acorns of change.

Taking sides is part of the ‘must plan’, embracing any group perceived to be downtrodden. Thus they have pigeon-holed minorities as the only true sufferers, all others are fakers. Unfortunately, there is no big picture for that would spoil the view and it takes time to draw such a picture. And haste is of the essence.

Fighting fascism is a pivotal rule of the ‘must plan’ but questioning the fascist tendencies of communism is so blasé. If you cannot abide by the rules don’t apply to join.

After the dinner party at the theatre the entourage, behind the canvas throw, demand a uniformity of approach to all injustice they identify. There are rules for a purpose: listen, learn, and adopt the new language, let us speak in neutral terms in all conversation.

Accept the new thinking, it would be boorish not to. Pay heed to the wisdom of our leadership and the world will achieve a new harmony where all will be at peace.  We shall build from the bottom up so that all benefit. Just follow our lead. You know we are right.

You cram these words into mine ears against

The stomach of my sense.” Alonso. The Tempest (11.i.)

Out of context but sharp and to the point on sentiment.

Excuse me Sir/Madam/ Neutral person, what about capitalism?

*Don’t trivialise our movement with unanswerable questions!

In our world the individual is supreme; their needs are paramount. We show our humanity by such actions.

Excuse me Sir/Madam/ Neutral person, which individuals?

*You are a peevish little sod!

Excuse me Sir/Madam/ Neutral person, where do I fit in? I’m a poor working class person and suffer from ego-depletion1 (42) which means I’m more likely just to give up. You see, most who live in poverty suffer from these symptoms and when you live in my world misfortune walks with you every day.

You may not know but I have a high U-index which means I spend a lot of time in an unpleasant state of mind. (393)Another thing Mr Kahneman2, points out when studying the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index (396-397) is that:

“The objective of policy should be to reduce human suffering. We aim for a lower U-index in society. Dealing with depression and extreme poverty should be a priority.”

I may be wrong but Mr Kahneman’s view seems to be very broad and means everybody in those circumstances. And do you know what – everybody includes me!

1 & 2 Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow               Penguin Books

Excuse me Sir/Madam/Neutral person, can I ask a few questions?

  1. What makes you think your way is better than any other?
  2. How do you differ in approach from fascists?
  3. Will we still be living under the capitalist system?
  4. How do you plan to control the underbelly of sex and money?
  5. If you believe in a better world with decent welfare for all; why do you have a tax avoidance business arrangement?

*Nosy little shit!


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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

  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.

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 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.

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.


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.


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!


Immigration: The True Cost of Cheap Labour

thD11S73YEIt’s a strange phenomenon but both the Left (includes Liberals) and Right in British politics support mass immigration. But it has nothing to do with helping the poor. The latest figure published was a net annual increase of approximately 250,000. That’s a population growth of one (1) million every four (4) years not including the birth rate. It comes as no surprise that business is unashamedly in favour of mass immigration, it’s good for business. The support from the Left is a bit more bewildering. Nonetheless, what are the costs to our society?

There are several areas upon which immigration has a serious impact. The first of many is on wages and this hits the people at the bottom the hardest. A large body of people entering the country seeking work obviously keep wage levels down and forces them down further. This can only be good news for employers. How does it help the local workers?

Working conditions also suffer as migrants do not unionise. This is mainly because they are too scared for fear of losing their job. Going on strike outside of union support is a non- starter. Therefore they are subject to added pressure to work longer hours than their local counterparts. In addition over one (1) million migrants are illegal and have little choice but to do as they are told.

We can then add the large number which is controlled under gangmasters. Their working conditions are as they find them with no method to bring about change. Likewise their living conditions can be well below the standard acceptable to the rest of our society. This virtual slave labour market should be abolished forthwith.

It is true to say that migrants do take jobs from the local indigenous population. Localsth[10] cannot manage their households on the wages offered and pay rent/mortgage, council tax and the cost of getting to and from work and other associated costs. In most cases the ordinary Joes’ would have to accept a lower standard of living in order to take up a job.

Their refusal to live on less than what national state benefits allow has the poor castigated as scroungers. They are hit with a volume of abuse that would definitely not be tolerated if they were composed of one ethnic group. These people are almost demonized.

The unemployed and those who have been on benefits long term tend not to own their own home. Many are corralled into Council run estates and left to fester. It is well documented that employers don’t look favourably on such residents when jobs become available.

Thus we are allowing the continued development of sub culture districts. The clear thBNJC2GU0knock on effect is that families become increasingly dysfunctional. In consequence, we are condemning many thousands of children to a miserable existence. A sizable number of these communities will disenfranchise themselves. The danger is that they become increasingly lost to the wider community and delve into crime etc. Such disassociation will end up costing a lot more in the long run.

Of course we have had slums since the Industrial Revolution but up until the modern era there have been jobs that catered for the labourer army. However, labourer jobs are not as numerous and cheap competition means many are not as accessible. Factories up and down the country employ cheap /illegal workers, usually paid below the minimum wage.

In this new environment those without jobs have become dependent on benefits to survive. Even for the skilled the cost of relocation, (north to south) is not an option either due to the financial implications of finding accommodation and surviving until the first wage comes through. And the prospect of training or retraining is just another scribble added to the Santa Claus wish list.

th[2]A further consequence of mass immigration is that we fail to train the locals for the jobs that need doing. A recent example is that of nurses, whereby 80,000 applied nationally for a course but only 20,000 got accepted.

Meanwhile, we are employing many from abroad. It is cheaper to bring them in than train our own young people. Not a moment’s thought is given about the needs these workers leave behind in their home country. We are as leeches on the poor abroad. Employers are saving £millions not having to provide training. What is the message to our young people?

The differences in societal precepts emerge as migrants naturally bring their own cultural norms, can and do bring tensions. In the past this has led to a clash of cultures which in turn leads to ethnic ghettoes. In these districts the residents become fair game for gangs and political opportunists. The areas become increasingly shut off from the mainstream and the aspiration and value of the individual lessens and the community becomes more insular.

Immigration on the scale we are presently witnessing is all about money; it is about big business getting the cheapest possible labour and therefore making the highest possible profits. It is not about people. It is not about helping the poor of other nations. It is not about helping this country and it’s poor. It is about exploiting the poor from abroad and in doing so degrading the workers already here.

No doubt there are heart-warming stories of some migrants who have made it good. However, for every positive there will be 100+ heart-breaking stories of young women and children forced onto drugs and prostitution and slave labour. There are thousands out there just surviving in lives of unimaginable misery.

We have failed to advance the livelihood of many young people in the UK whatever their background. Without adequate training programmes we compound their difficulties, we leave them on the shelve like last year’s hot toy, hoping someone will take pity and do the right thing. It is a testament to their character that they carry on without causing an upheaval.

Whatever happened to Education, Education, Education? Ask Mr Blair and his party.

The present government’s flagship for youth is the apprenticeship scheme. According to the most recent study it is not all it aspires to be:

  • 70,000 less applied than the start year of 2010.
  • 15% of all apprentices are paid below minimum wage.
  • 21% get no formal academic training.
  • 93% of those aged 25+ already worked in the place before being put on the apprentice scheme. Wow! Does this mean that their employer simply turned them into apprentices to get the grants from government?
  • Small to medium size firms can get £1,500 per apprentice. How much do the big boys’ get?

The idea behind apprenticeship is a wholly positive one; it was to cut youth unemployment but here’s the irony: there has been a 520% increase of apprenticeships in the over sixty (60) age bracket. I wonder if they all had to dye their hair.     Independent Newspaper 1/1/2015

The real story is that it has become just one more money spinner for business at the taxpayers’ expense. Their greed knows no end.

Why has the Left supported mass immigration? It is beyond my simple political thinking. I can only assume that they have been beguiled by human rights activists and have gone on a binge of HR rhetoric. It would seem that they are still pissed on said rhetoric or suffering from a huge hangover. How else can they justify the damage they are causing all over the country? Our society has become fractured.

The conspiracy theory:

We are all participants in a global experiment by the Liberal/Left to change the fabric of the world. In this brave new world, we all speak the same and everyone’s right is tolerated no matter how bazaar. However, we will be separated by education, wealth and nepotism. So what’s so different from today’s world?

Joe wants to matter now.               Join Robin Hood and do some good!thSJMZ0920


Blindland (4) Consumerism: The Con!


“When people have lost their authentic personal taste, they lose their personality and become instruments of other people’s will”. Robert GravesthY98TUIFY

While, Graves was referencing food, it nonetheless becomes a powerful political statement about consumerism in general. Consumerism is a method of control over the unsuspecting.

The Overlords want to access your brain to empty your pocket; much like a burglar and your house. They want to keep you on the treadmill and thus devise ways to harness your attention. A bit like Pavlov’s dogs, which were trained to respond to stimuli. Or Skinner’s book Walden Two, written by the psychologist where it was envisaged that the masses would be conditioned to behave appropriately. The last thing the Overlords want is for you to think!

look into my eyes

look into my eyes

It may be a bit like being hypnotized. Look into my eyes – when I click my fingers, tout de suite – you are under my control – you will now do many silly things. Advertisements induce a similar response, they make people buy, buy, buy! Meanwhile the Overlords live in the twilight world of obscene wealth and no doubt some come to believe they are paternalistic deity.

Are we being conned? A quick glance at computers may lead us to Reason. We have a desktop – we need more power – more ram, more hard- disc. Then we need even more and the latest software and the upgrade and we arrive at windows 8.1. Will we stop there? No, no, no! We need a laptop and soon go through the same procedure as with the desk top. Now we need a smart phone an all singing dancing acrobatic smart phone. We need: little kids in primary school need, old grannies in care homes need, suddenly there’s a mountain of need.

Who decided we need? Was it us? Are we in control, making personal decisions about

shop 'till you drop!

shop ’till you drop!

our desires? Another master class in ‘we need’ stems from fashion. We must have this year’s colour – decided for us 18 months in advance. Must have that dress worn by the supermodel or celebrity. How many pairs of shoes does one person need? We are also at the mercy of built in obsolescence whereby manufacturers make goods designed to falter after a period. Type in – built in obsolescence and be staggered by the multitude of examples.

Consumerism is a method of control; people get trapped in a pleasure zone. Each time they buy an item the endorphins race into their head and the buyer gets a kick just like a druggie. They are as lab-rats spinning the treadmill. Why else would companies spend £/$ billions on advertisements if they did not influence. Supermarkets are designed to make you buy more than you intended. We are being conditioned to respond.

Take note of the words of Edward Bernays from his book Propaganda 1928:

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute the invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country,…We are governed, our minds are moulded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.”

Bernays claim to fame came from public relations. It was he who made smoking ‘cool’ for women in the 1920s. Who made America believe that bacon & egg was a natural breakfast for the U.S. For Proctor & Gamble, he convinced millions that Ivory soap was the best. Today others have taken over his mantle to convince us that we need, need, and need.

In 2006 a journalist at Der Spiegel carried out an interview with the founder of a PR company Burson-Marstellar: “Bernays thought he could control public opinion. His methodology of course was fundamental. Most of the things we do today were identified by Bernays 80 years ago”. Harold Burson

Large companies spend £/$ billions to make their product a ‘brand’. The costs of the adverts are added to the cost of the product – therefore you are paying for the company to manipulate your buying habits. How ‘cool’ is that? The Overlords have control!

Many get so caught up in consumerism that they camp overnight to be the first to have the new iPhone; even though millions will have it within a few weeks. Likewise many must have this year’s new car, even though it loses value as soon as it leaves the showroom, and the price will drop in a few months. These are the most powerful free adverts a company can get, thanks to you.

Reason has no defence against being ‘cool’. We spend £/$ billions annually trying to be ‘cool’. Any purchase from the iPhone, coffee maker, and specific brands. Some folks will not leave the house unless they have a ‘brand’ to wear! We generate billions of tonnes of waste trying to be ‘cool’:


a valley of barrels

a valley of barrels

“220 billion cans, bottles, plastic cartons and paper cups are thrown away each year in the developed world”.

In the developing world the situation is disastrous. The nations are offered free trade as a panacea for all their ills but does it work for the benefit of the people? Under the arrangement the countries can have all their needs met by the multinational companies, therefore they import a lot. If the country is compliant they can manufacture some goods to be sold in the West.

Thus the nation becomes dependant on imports = balance of payments deficit = need tothCA2OLY29 borrow = debt = IMF/World Bank help = job cuts, wage cuts = poverty = cheap labour + long hours = sweat shop = virtual slave labour = dependant on charity = foreign aid = corruption = poor investment = lack of local business development = dependant on charity = vicious circle = no human rights = cheap gear for the developed world.

Where are all the trendy socialists and liberals now? Let us hear them rage against the dying of the light!

“The market, one has to conclude, is not always the best guarantee of free choice or democracy”. Charles Handy: The Hungry Spirit p123.

Consumerism may bring pleasure to the unsuspecting but it brings with it severe costs. Our environment is under constant attack. Our ability to breathe fresh air diminishes with every new car and truck. China has a potential 150 million cars on the road and the number is set to grow. The world’s population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050. UN Only recently(April 2014) in the UK a report by Professor Frank Kelly, Department of Health has suggested that diesel cars are responsible for smog and a lot of Nitrogen Dioxide and as many as 7000 deaths per annum.

In America transportation accounted for 30% of US energy demand. “In 2005 motor vehicles produced $56 billion in health and other non-climate dangers”. Also “Coal fired plants are the single largest source of greenhouse gases in the U.S.”. National Research Council Oct: 2009.

“ ..the air in our cities has pollution levels that are higher than those recommended by the World Health Organisation”. The natural and the social: uncertainty, risk, change. Steve Hinchcliffe & Kath Woodward (ed:).

The degradation of our environment; is it our fault or the result of the Overlords control over us? Can we excuse ourselves by claiming we were drugged by consumerism? Move away from the herd, follow the path to Logic and escape the Overlords control. Somewhere out there a sleeper has awoken, join them. Help make tomorrow’s world a place to breathe!

“The sobering thought is that individuals and societies are not, in the end, remembered for how they made their money, but for how they spend it”. Charles Handy: The Hungry Spirit p127.


World Poverty: America.

When studying the extent of world poverty one of the last places you might think to look is America.  Widespread poverty does exist in the USA; it may not have the same consequences as it would in an African nation but people feel it nonetheless. The other important point about America is that this is where both the United Nations and the World Bank are situated and from where they get the dominant philosophy that forms their thinking.

thCA99CH3UWest Side Story a film produced in 1961, was rightly a smash hit. It was a modern re-enactment of the Shakespearian play Romeo and Juliet with a twist that highlighted the predicament of immigrants and gang culture. One of the principal songs was ‘America’.


Girls: “I like to be in America. Ok by me in America. Everything free in America.”


Anita: “Life can be bright in America.”

Boys: “If you can fight in America.”

Girls: “Here you are free and you have pride.”

Boys: “As long as you stay on your side.”                                                                                              

The American dream: come to America and get rich. Everyone can be rich in America or that’s how the picture was painted and millions desperate to better their life chances followed that dream. Still today millions flock to the country with their hopes and aspirations tied in their Dick Whittington knapsack.

As with all dreams some turn sour and some remain a pipedream. For others the dream was realised and that fired continued hope. That is America, the most successful capitalist country in the world and likely to be for a long period to come. George Friedman: The Next 100 Years. There is always a ‘but’ because with every bright side there is a dark one and poverty fills the latter slot.

The Roaring Twenties gave way to the Great Depression of the 1930s when the reality of poverty haunted many American hearts. With the advent of the Second World War, th[9]an industrial surge spread optimism throughout the land and Americans thought they had defeated the blight of poverty. The hope did not last; in 1964 President Johnson, announced the ‘War on Poverty’. From that point on, by fits and starts the fortunes of the poor fluctuated.

Today, Americans wake up to one of the highest rates of poverty in the country’s history:  46.9m, the fourth consecutive increase, and a trend likely to continue. quoting from  As with everywhere else on the planet the recession brought about by the banking collapse of 2008 has added greatly to those seeking work and in need of welfare. However, poverty numbers have been growing for years.

“Five decades ago, we accepted Harrington’s thesis that the idea of poverty in a prosperous nation such as ours is a moral outrage. Today, poverty isn’t on the radar of our elected officials and few seem concerned that poverty is returning to levels not seen in decades.” Randolph T. Holhut,

  • Michael Harrington: The Other America: Poverty in the United States.

An equally damning point to the ‘moral outrage’ expressed above comes from a study by Dr Amy K. Glasmeier, when she suggests that “The United States is a nation pulling apart to a degree unknown in the last 25 years.” The silver bullet of this analysis comes with the time frame, for the work was published in 2006, two years before the banking crisis of 2008. This would certainly make one ponder whether politicians were paying attention! In a qualifying statement she writes, “Families, children and working adults are making less income and enjoying fewer protections today.” The story continues, “Persons in the top 20 per cent of the population earn 19 times more than persons in the bottom 20% of the population.”

If this was an isolated report, you might question its validity and seek to authenticate the data used. Unfortunately for American politicians the report seems well balanced and is indicative of other information out there.

Medium [average] income has changed very little over the past 30 years. Adjusted for inflation, the middle-income family only earned 11% more in 2010 than they did in 1980, while the richest 5% in America saw their incomes surge 42%.”

“Since 2000 the poorest Americans have only got poorer.” 2010/12/21

Further supportive evidence can be gleamed from Paul Osterman, labour economist at MIT;

“Over a period of time, it’s not that the American economy has necessarily performed badly, the country has grown richer but the shift in income has gone to the top.”

This gives credence to an earlier observation in the NY Times, “… growth alone is an insufficient indicator of national well-being.” (2006) World Bank please take note.

With unemployment doubling between 1990 / 2010, from 7,047,000 to 14,825,000, surely the most uneducated of politicians and government officials could work out that a steady increase in unemployment automatically generates a similar rise in welfare needs and that hardship is around every corner.  Or perhaps these guys are the ones picking up the fat pay cheques and so turn a blind eye. It certainly supports the view expressed by R.T. Holhut that; ‘…poverty isn’t on the radar of our elected officials.’

An obvious connection with the material above and whenever I have looked at poverty is one of ‘income distribution’. The criterion raises its ugly head every time in places like; Chile, Brasil, Kenya, Chad, and now the most prosperous of all nations, America. To emphasize the point, NBC news highlight an important fact, that nearly 25% of those considered to be living in poverty are in work. Their problem is  low wages, so low they fall below the poverty threshold.

Another tantalising little statistic worth a mention is that 33% of the poor work in the service sector which is notorious for poor wages and part time work. A more damning statistic on income distribution comes from the ‘’ (Nov: 2012) when it reports that in the last three decades, “…hourly wages rose by a paltry 0.2% annually.” And from 2007 to 2011, wages fell for the bottom 70% of US workers. It would be interesting to know the inflation rate for that same period, though I doubt that wages kept pace.

Hopefully for many, poverty is a temporary phenomenon and soon they will find a better job or get a job. Sad to say, but for many others it goes from bad to worse. In a study by the university of Indiana it states that 4million have reported being out of work for 1 year or longer. ( It is extremely difficult to get back on the road again when you haven’t got a grub stake.

A face of the 1930s Depression

A face of the 1930s Depression

There are those who cannot help themselves such as children and mothers left with a growing brood. In 2010 it was reported that 16.4m children lived in poverty. . The gives a more depressing picture when it informs us that child poverty rates in America are higher than those of: Japan, Europe and Canada. There are a number of reasons for this, chief among them being ‘income distribution’. However,


Deteriorating family structure among the poor threatens to trap poor children at the

Modern day

Modern day

bottom of the income ladder for life.”

This chilling statement has been brewing in America for a long time and is supported by significant data from educational sources. A timely warning comes from, Timothy Smeeding, Institute for Research on Poverty, University of Wisconsin;

“We’re risking a new underclass.” brings some clarity of a ‘trap’ that the poor may stumble into with a set of figures on poverty rates;    couples:6.2%

single mothers: 31.6%                    single fathers: 15.8%

Today as always

Today as always

Such figures have been latched onto by one group; “By increasing work and marriage, our nation can virtually eliminate remaining child poverty.”  If only the world was so simple! While the statistics tend to lend a modicum of understanding to their view, with the high incidence of single parents; the figures cannot tell the whole story. We don’t know if a partner has died or just ran off because they could not handle the responsibility.

Moreover, it would be cretinous to suggest a mother become dependent on another man and furthermore, where do you find someone to take on that kind of responsibility? The second point made regarding ‘increasing work’; I am sure that there are a large number of people out there who would jump at the chance of a job, problem is, there’s not that many about. Fat cats have farmed them out to places such as China; are the boys at ‘heritage’ going to demand they are brought back?

A further observation must be made here on the epoch-making solution to ‘child poverty’. Imposing an illusion from a bygone era; no matter how much you hanker after it, is not a solution that will save tomorrow. It is reminiscent of chasing a rainbow’s end.

Suburbs are perhaps an unlikely place to find poverty as opposed to in rural areas and the ghetto but that is what is happening. A study, by the Brooking Institution, brought to our attention by Emily Badger, has shown that poverty is spreading deep into the suburbs. The Urban Institute are mapping the spread of the poor in many cities.

The Economic Policy Institute have carried out a survey of 615 communities and found the cost of living to be more than double the threshold set by the government, based on a family of four.

Family of four: $23,497                  Single person: $11,172   (2012)         

Billions of dollars are spent trying to help people stand still. Food stamps alone are estimated to have cost $76bn in 2011, more than double the 2008 figure. More than $350bn is spent annually on programmes serving low income families.  Add the loss of revenue through tax receipts. Buying less and saving less. The cost of crime and medical care, all add up to a substantial sum. Who’s picking up the tab? Can such vast amounts of money actually hold back the economy from growing or do we just pile up the debt?

Looking up from the bottom of the ladder the United States does not seem as ‘united’ as some would like to think.  Poverty is making America into a divided society. That poverty is now nesting in the suburbs should act as a warning, for here resides the potential leadership of revolution. Politicians can pay heed or continue to camp out in the woods with their friend Bigfoot.

Detroit City, once the ‘motor city’ has filed for bankruptcy. (July 2013) Thousands of buildings lie derelict, crime has spiralled, and hope has wandered off. Manufacturing jobs that were the rock for so many breadwinners have been moved abroad to exploit the cheap labour. The once solid citizens must look elsewhere for recompense.

New songs may be sung of peoples troubles. The ‘Blues’ may return as a social force as minorities stagger from the force of the knock of poverty. I can hear the distant sound of Woody Guthrie

This land is your land. This land is my land

thCAQTGBZD From California to the New York island;

From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters

This land was made for you and Me.

As families wake up in their downbeat jalopies; wondering where they can get a free meal and a wash: in some far off place other decisions are being made. The UN and the World Bank delegates having lunch in a 5 star venue***** are deciding how to end world poverty.






Nepal: Beauty and the Beast


lake view

Beauty has no equal

 Mountain village





Mountain lake

Speaks for itself

It is unmistakably a landscape photographers dream venue or, for anyone with an eye for taste. There is much to admire in the country; so much to do as a tourist. Over one million visit Nepal annually. They come for various reasons; the overwhelming majority come to enjoy all that is beautiful about the country. Naturally these tourists are welcomed; their spending contributes a great deal to the nation’s economy. They are there to view the beauty of the landscape, to photograph, paint, to hike, to climb, and to challenge themselves in the wilderness of the Himalayas.

However, there is a seedier side to the country, the poverty of huge numbers of the population and the distress of so many children. The basis of this tragedy lies in the core problems that beset Nepal: the traditional way of life, language barriers, the environment, and as ever politics and its offspring the inevitable power struggle.

The Maoist (CPN-M) insurrection against the monarchy lasted 10 years, 1996-2006. The struggle for power brought victory for the Communists, who subsequently won an election in 2008. They were voted as the largest party in the new assembly. War had cost 12,000 lives, while 100,000 were displaced. (, Aug: 2012) With a population of approximately 30m both figures are sizable and must have put enormous strain on the people and the nation’s ability to cope; at a time when radical change was required.

 There is a large body of thought that maintains that change must not be imposed; rather that we work alongside the people until they recognise the rationale to change. For cultural anthropologists there is integrity in this logic. However, each day that passes more children die and are abused. I understand resistance to change by those steeped in tradition over generations. Nonetheless, the question must be asked as to whether ignorance should dictate policy. Some will argue that that very sentiment works both ways; that to intervene too early damages the prospect for success and the rights of the people. A contrary view (mine) would argue that the cost to the children is too great. That if people need to be dragged screaming and kicking into the modern age, so be it.The capitalist society of Western culture might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it does hold out a much better opportunity for the youth of Nepal to gain a better existence.

Charities can play a small part in instigating change. The individual areas they choose to work in may act as a catalyst for change over the long term. But, but, but, can the kids wait? Is the argument that we cannot prevent the brutality of the children without first winning over the dominant males of that society? Let’s not kid ourselves; we are talking about the dominant males! For me, if we do not confront them we denude the children and the women and empower the males even more.

Facts always make poor reading and so it is with these:

13,000 children die each year from respiratory infection. While 3,000 die from diarrhoea.

50% of under-fives have stunted growth and 66% are underweight. (UNICEF)

The mortality rate for kids under five is 48%. (

Sad as these statistics are the fact that the, Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has been in force for 23 years; turns a tragedy into a sick joke.  I’ll just repeat that shall I – 23 years.

The CRC article 7 states that every, “child shall be registered at birth.” Well, not in Nepal! Could this be a job for UNICEF or a charity?

Article 6 states, “every child has the inherent right to life.” What does ‘life’ mean in this context?

Nonetheless, much of the information we have on Nepal comes from UNICEF. They keep writing reports, doing studies, accumulating appropriate data. And then; and then they do it all over again.

On the positive side these reports do have relevance; they keep track of the diverse nature and spread of poverty. Moreover, the presence of UNICEF ensures that the government of Nepal has one clear eye on the need for action. In addition the reports can help to identify where need is most acute.

On the downside, there is no immediacy and therefore the children are left in a critical situation. There does not seem to be any coherent plan to tackle this daily blight. There is

children collecting stone

child workers

a history of economic plans; each with a reduction in poverty as a prime aim. Twelve plans so far, some of 5 years, some of 3 years. The latest is of 3 years duration. The plans have been running longer than the CRC but have had minimal impact. ( From the same German study we find, “…there has been no significant improvement in reducing the gap between poor and rich people.”

Q. Which side are you on? Slow, slow, slow, snoring!

Or get a move on!

Is change coming, precipitated by economic reality? Many young men are taking the opportunity to work abroad. (, July 2012) The article talks of ‘remittances’ e.g. the young men sending or bringing home money earned abroad to the value of $3.5bn per year. The journalist,        J. Glennie cites the World Bank’s figures of a reduction of ‘extreme’ poverty, from 70% to 25% of the population in 15 years.  Glennie, suggests that the ‘remittances’ have had an impact on the poverty figures.

 In consequence of the men leaving, women in some villages have had to act as pallbearers at funerals which hitherto would have been taboo. Also alluded to in the article was the fact that some men returned with sexual diseases which has lead to divorce;  creating another fracture in the traditional family hierarchy. There is a sad irony here in that the men working in India and frequenting the local brothels may be taking their pleasure from young Nepalese girls, trafficked from their home country.

Are we seeing a fissure so deep that it threatens to transform traditional Nepal? Is migration affording us a glimpse of the future that the only prospect for a good life lies outside the country? Will the young men ever return permanently? If not, will their young women follow them? The “deserts in the sky” ( may well become deserted.

 Part 2 to follow…

Child Poverty 4


What Can Be Done?


child from the streets

Born in a dead man’s town

On the home front there is much that can be done but it does require a strong government and a real desire to push through the needed changes. Several tax changes could lighten the burden of the poor, giving them more disposable income. However, you cannot dictate what they chose to spend it on. Moreover, Tim Worstall, ( is quite adamant that giving welfare and tax credits does not reduce poverty, “by a fraction of a percentage point, it does not reduce poverty by one single person.” An astute observation but you achieve nothing by sitting on your hands.

Based on the premise that we retain the ‘relative poverty’ criteria – though I feel that we need better indices or a least a common one – we have to identify the causes of poverty. Ron Haskins, (ibid) has come up with a series of good indicators:

“…less jobs, stagnant wages, rise of single- parent families, inferior education and the arrival of millions of immigrants with poor education and low skills are little engines pushing up the poverty rate.” (a slightly long but very good read)

While Haskins is talking about America, the same can be true of any developed nation.

The Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) UK in their 2012 report state that the “root causes must be tackled.” The report goes on to suggest that the best way to escape poverty is “…through achievement in education and work.” Both of these may appear prerequisites but must be implemented properly. Tony Blair gave us thirteen years of: education, education, education and that was a miserable failure. More needs to be done to identify the ‘root causes’ of poverty and to devise a plan to overcome them.

Public Service Europe (.com) suggests that more money should be spent on “… after school clubs, youth clubs and community work.” Haven’t we been here before? Yet we must not dismiss the rationale, if we can get empirical evidence that they make a credible impact.

To add to the list, proposes a long hard look at indirect taxation. Here is where I believe the Government, any government, can make a substantial contribution, if not to eradicate poverty then at least to ease the hardship of trying to make ends meet.

  •  VAT a pernicious tax which takes a larger chunk of the income of the poor than that of the rich. Cut it!
  •  Petrol, the government take 57% of pump price in tax. This affects every aspect of travel and distribution. A cut would reduce costs for everyone.
  •   Alcohol, Tax on drink hits the poorest hardest.
  •   Council tax, it is estimated that this tax takes 5% of the income of the poor but only 1% from the rich. Cut it!
  •   Tax banding, raise the band at which you start to pay tax to £12,000
  •   Universal Benefits’, e.g. child benefit – keep it – and raise it in line with inflation as it has a better take up rate than any other benefit.
  •   Minimum wage, increase in line with inflation
  •   Hire Purchase (HP), restrict HP interest to 5% above the Bank of England rate –National bank rate. Many retailers charge 29.9%. Many people rely on HP to furnish their home.
  •  Immigration, curb it. I noted that not one of the charities mentioned the impact of immigration as a cause of poverty. Perhaps they were trying hard to be ‘politically correct’. This is where politics really does stink! Bias it holds no truth!Unless you identify all the factors that contribute to poverty then you can never deal it a fatal blow. Immigration does affect so many aspects of people’s lives: housing shortages + higher rents, education = schools trying to cope with multi-lingual classes, wages =kept low, jobs = fewer jobs & no training.

We are starting to build a comprehensive list of what can be done. The top priority, perhaps the biggest hurdle is a programme that encourages all parents to read to their offspring. We do perhaps need to devise a book subsidy scheme to help in this area.


child care

A simple must!

“No human capital program is so widely believed to be effective as pre-school education for children from poor and low-income families.” Ron Haskins (ibid)

“Move from tax credits to affordable child care.” John Denham, Member of Parliament.

If we accept that one-parent families and poor single income families are trapped in the vice of poverty and that work is an essential element in breaking free then we must get people to work. Therefore good affordable child care has to be a priority.

How can the Government pay for the ‘wish list’? They can close every tax loophole that comes to light. Cut tax evasion altogether. Drive hard and fast on welfare cheats. Have a systematic onslaught on the ‘Black Economy’. Altogether, this could net £100bn+. Stop the spin and put income tax up by 2p in the pound.

I said at the start that the Government would not eradicate child poverty by 2020, why not? According to the Institute of Fiscal Studies and child poverty is set to rise, reaching 4.2 m by the target date. Moreover, there is little hope that the Government will implement the changes necessary to achieve an end to child poverty.

You can cross your fingers or tell the Government to get their finger out!

There is so much more that could be said but I’ll leave that to the man who wrote extensively on the subject and brought it to a mass audience.

A man of many good words“If they are bad, think that they would have been better, if they had had kind friends, and good homes, and had been better taught.”

Charles Dickens, Life of Our lord. Cited by Michael Slater, introduction to Christmas Carol.


If you have skipped the first three articles on child poverty, check them out here: