The Rape of the Poor

 

Try not to live as a pretender,

But so try to manage your affairs

That you are loved by wide expanses,

And hear the call of future years.

Boris Pasternak – It is not Seemly to be Famous – stanza 3

It is now well documented that while the super rich have grown richer the poor have travelled in the opposite direction. According to several economic writers the blame lies squarely with the neo-liberal economic model*, and, that its demise signals the last rites for capitalism. It’s a stretch to suggest that because one economic model has failed that we must prepare for a new world order.

However, there is one truth and that is that the poor have been raped. They have been raped of income, of opportunity, of prospects, of their self-esteem and of their very dignity. Let’s draw our picture with a few succinct and powerful quotes from notable writers.

The USA, under neoliberalism, boosted profits by impoverishing its own citizens.” Paul Mason (p19)1

“…income inequality has reached extreme levels not seen since the 1920s, and before that, the 1890s.” James Rickards (p236)2

The general thrust of these quotes are supported by other economists that I have previously quoted in earlier posts: Stiglitz, Chang, Rodrik, and Krugman. There can be no doubt that the poor have not kept pace with the distribution of wealth that has been generated. The push to globalization and its fellow rider free trade have cost the poor of the western nations much.

*www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism    

 Multinationals have simply used their capital to invest elsewhere, mostly in Asia and China in particular, to utilise the cheap and at times slave labour. A prime example, quoted in several books is that of Apple. This company pays to have its phones etc. manufactured in China by cheap labour but when the finished product comes back to USA and Europe, Apple charge a price that would equate to the phones being manufactured in America or Europe. The company makes huge profits from such an arrangement. Huge!

We are all now aware why the big boys have been promoting globalization and free trade; it’s of great benefit to their profit margin. The rest of the populace can go take a hike!

Banksy

But wait! The hoi polloi have not sauntered off with their cap between their legs. No, they’ve used their democratic right to vote against the elite. They have done what our politicians have been afraid to do.

Stunned, the elite stare in amazement at the audacity of the low-life. Some have voiced their anger at this popular wave of sentiment: the Brexit vote in UK, the Trump victory and the referendum outcome in Italy. Shit! they cry. The bastards are ganging up on us! However, the real reason is that the elite have been blinkered by “decades of denial” Rickards (p230) Paul Mason (p258)

Nonetheless, the elite have sent out their Stormtroopers to defend their rights. Politicians of various hues have marched to the given tune. Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the European Commission has made it clear that events should not be dictated by populism. John Major, ex-Prime Minister of Britain bemoaned the “tyranny of the majority” (John Stuart Mill 1859). Meanwhile, Labour MP Chuka Umunna, speaking on the BBC News channel spoke of the “elective dictatorship”.

·         These little men are so full of their own self-importance.

Let’s try and explain to these political hacks why populism is so in vogue:

“Once the election is over, voters are ignored and winning elites carry out preconceived plans”. Rickards (p238) Ring a bell? Been here before?

This leads nicely to philosopher Michael Sandel, (p13) 3

“Disillusion with politics has deepened as citizens grow frustrated with a political system unable to act for the public good, or address the questions that matter most”.

I would make one quibble with Sandel with his use of the word ‘unable’; I would have used the adjective ‘unwilling’.

Michael Sandel’s book was published in 2012 and was probably written therefore in 2011, if not before. Five years later and the elite still had not grasped the significance of what was happening right under their noses! The logical explanation is that they couldn’t give a shit. And now the shit has hit the fan!

One can only learn if willing to. It seems our political masters are unwilling. Their attack on democracy, for that’s what it amounts to, is a clear attempt to diminish the power of the majority. We cannot as a society, have a democracy that does not adhere to the majority vote, whether we agree with the vote or not. Let those who talk of the “tyranny of the majority” stand up and demand a dictatorship.

I appreciate that Karl Popper in his work the Open Society had a dilemma accepting a majority vote in favour of a fascist party. My response to his concern is that society should never get so low down that it is faced with such a prospect. A democratic society has failed if it reaches that stage.

In the midst of a crisis people hanker for a solution, a solution with the least trouble. The question is should people push forward in a direction of which they are unsure, full of doubt but advised to dare. Or will people be more cautious and look for something vaguely familiar or perhaps rely on the political party that appears to know what it wants and how to get everyone there. The road to fascism!

Democracy: The Only Road Forward

In the general election of 2015 in the UK, the Conservative Party polled 36.9% of the public vote and secured power as the next government. The Labour Party won 30.4% of the popular vote and is now trying to override a majority decision of 52% that voted to leave the EU.

The Scottish nationalist with 4.7% of the national vote are busy screaming in alto from the upper circle; joined by the Liberals who saw their percentage of the vote fall by a staggering 16%. The refrain of this unlikely choir is, ‘All we are saying, is let’s stay in’. They’ll still be singing as the gravy train goes rolling down the track – out of sight.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/election/2015/results

We have reached an impasse, will the political class respond positively and accept that the times are changing or must they be pushed to the wayside. Will it be the death knell of capitalism as espoused by Paul Mason and James Rickards? There is little doubt that neoliberal policies have proved a nightmare for the overwhelming majority. Those at the top end of the table had a feast out of neoliberalism. The question is are they now willing to share?

Perchance they will remain in denial as both Rickards and Mason state. If so what are the consequences? I doubt the elite can carry on much longer on their present course. The deep frustration with the elite will turn increasingly to anger which will beget activist groups taking up the cause of the people.

Such a scenario will not strengthen the elite as the use of force against these factions will break down quickly. It will not bring out the silent majority against the perpetrators. That old reliance was only solid when there was trust and most people felt good about their lifestyle. The rise of populism is a clear indication that many are genuinely feeling downtrodden.

Many of the elite may feel just as Mitt Romney does, “…inequality is the kind of thing that should be discussed quietly and privately.” J Stiglitz (p33)4  Those days I’m afraid are gone, if they ever existed outside the comfort of elite homes and country clubs.

Winter for all Seasons

According to Paul Mason (p262) quoting from a survey from the OECD that world development will be weak for the next 50 years and that inequality will rise by an estimated 40%. If these figures are anywhere near accurate then winter is going to be all year round for the poor. And if winter is all year round people are going to get mighty fed-up! Guy Fawkes might get reinvented for real.

Mason also states that the only way to keep globalization and free trade is by having the costs borne by the poor. Again if he is right – its winter! He gains support for his view from James Rickards (p227) who argues, “Yet free markets and free trade are flawed in theory, non-existent in practice.”

This assertion is proven when we look again at the practises of Apple and other conglomerates. Such businesses gain comparative advantage because their money buys more in China and the cheap labour make it a double whammy. China also gains comparative advantage by having the investment and the jobs. Who loses? The workers in America and other western nations!

Further examples are the manipulation of the Chinese currency the yuan or of their interest rates. Other nations have also made great use of the manipulation of both as well as the corporate tax which for example, is due to reduce from 28% in 2010 to 17% in the UK by 2020. Therefore there are no free markets or free trade; everything has a fix.

Nonetheless, the lack of truly free markets or trade does not spell the end of capitalism. The system has witnessed upheaval before, several times, and by hook or crook the system has mutated or morphed and we carry on. In living memory for some is the horror of the 1920s and 1930s – ‘Buddy can you spare me a dime’.

Another period of uncertainty was in 1968 when many of the young at the time believed they were on the brink of revolution particularly in France. In the USA there was the anti-Vietnam protests, civil rights, the rise of the Black Panther movement, and woman’s lib. The Prague Spring, trouble was brewing all over the world. “Many protests were a direct response to perceived injustices…”

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protests_of_1968

Most recently the 2008 financial crash has kicked many, right where it hurts. Ouch!

What is increasingly likely is turmoil in the EU. The euro () has never been stable and the single market is hurting many countries. These nations: Spain, Portugal, Greece, Ireland among their number have been on the receiving end of the slump that followed the 2008 crash. For eight (8) years they have held to the philosophy of the single market but, and it’s a big but, for how much longer.

Paul Mason (p261) argues that the EU is just one ‘political accident’ away from collapse. In this I would be in agreement with him. The self-interest of politicians from one of the nations mentioned above may be the trigger in a struggle to stay in power.  Moreover, the euro () was a political construct not a financial one and therefore weak from, GO. The bureaucracy is too big, and wields too much political power. A bureaucracy should never hold political influence; otherwise we enter the realm of Stalin.

However, any possible collapse can and should be managed. The EU needs to reinvent itself and those in power must surely be aware of the need for radical reform. The euro is but a starting point. It’s about the political class’s ability to face reality. If not – KA-POW!

Moreover, Mason and Rickards are not the first economic writers to predict the fall of capitalism. Joseph Schumpeter (1883 – 1950) had a whole school of economics named after him and prophesied the evolution of capitalism into socialism. It didn’t happen, as you are aware.

Schumpeter recognised that capitalism adapted and adopted but felt that the very nature of the system and the changes it goes through would cause its mutation.  Schumpeter  termed it ‘creative destruction’ thus the process of regular change and the growth of multinationals and management teams would stymie the entrepreneur, as a result  the system  would lose its dynamism and, the bureaucracy and the State would play a greater part in the new socialist world.

Of course others preceded Schumpeter. We can look back to Marx and Engels, to the world of Lenin and Trotsky, to Mao and the likes of Ho Chi Minh. With the exclusion of Marx and Engels, the other attempts at the promised land directed by the state from the centre came crashing down. The failure in all these enterprises was the insistence on ‘democratic centralism’ – basically the central committee told everyone what to do. It was the vision of the Politburo or nothing.

The other side of the coin of failure was trying to control development and trade in a predominately capitalist world. In essence they could not compete which forced their leaders to become increasingly totalitarian. And as usual the workers paid the price!

Market Economy?

Nonetheless, the state has a role in the capitalist system. Neoliberalism may want a minimalist state but we’ve never heard the big boys moan when regularly bailed out. In every economic downturn or crash as in 1929 and 2008 the state stepped in with tax payers’ money to prevent the catastrophe that would have followed in consequence.

Ha-Joon Chang (p456)5 is adamant that the state has a crucial role and may even be critical in maintaining a society for the public good. “The economy is much bigger than the market. We will not be able to build a good economy-or a good society-unless we look at the vast expanse beyond the market.” He cites Herbert Simon of the Behaviourist School, that 80% of economic activity happens inside organizations not in the market. (p159)

So what can the state do to help rebuild our broken economy? Many jobs can be created by investment especially by improving infrastructure: build more and better roads etc. Even Donald Trump threatens to help America get going again by infrastructure programmes.   

Retreat is another way to help our economy, retreat to the Bretton Woods agreement of July 1944 and claw back the free rein given to the banking sector through deregulation by Reagan, Bush and Clinton. Perhaps there’s a need for another clever intervention as with the New Deal 1933-1938 which held back the growing tide of anger at the depth and extent of poverty at the time. Of course the economy really took off with the Second World War but I’m not advocating a third.

The Bretton Woods agreement was an attempt to bring lasting stability to the world economy, and it worked until dismantled. The team which drafted the programme described the world of finance as “…a casino instead of a driver of economic well-being.” Rodrik (p97)6 Rodrik (p111) after examining a lot of evidence, stated, “The inevitable conclusion is that financial globalization has failed us.”  

Trade globalization can also be restricted and more power shifted to domestic governments. Let’s leave it to economist Ha-Joon Chang (p446) to lay down the case for a rethink:

“In the last three decades of hyper-globalization, economic growth has slowed down, inequality has increased, and financial crises have become far more frequent in most countries.”

Michael Sandel (p64) adds, “Economists often assume that markets do not touch or taint the goods they regulate. But this is untrue. Markets leave their mark on social norms. Often, market incentives erode or crowd out nonmarket incentives.”

Sandel argues that to put a price on everything diminishes the human interaction. He gives several examples such as the selling of kidneys and blood. Such enterprises hurt the lower class the most; it is therefore unfair, as here survival often necessitates the action. His philosophy demolishes the logic of neoliberal economists that we are all motivated by self-interest.

The trafficking of women and children for sex is a clear example. The kidnappers / sellers are self –interested as are the men who pay to use these unfortunates. But can it ever be justified? Would we or should we ever permit it as a legitimized trade transaction?

The human factor cannot be discounted from any understanding of how the world works. Money is but one example of a motivator. However, it’s also regarded as the ‘root of all evil’. Somebody knew something. Economists don’t like nouns like ‘altruism’ because they can’t quantify it and therefore can’t add it to their constructed model.

Let’s refer once again to the philosopher Michael Sandel (p130)

“Altruism, generosity, solidarity, and civic spirit are not like commodities that are depleted by use. They are more like muscles that develop and grow stronger with exercise. One of the defects of a market-driven society is that it lets these virtues languish.”

This is an area that I don’t think Mason has fully taken on board; emotion is a most powerful part of our makeup and can lead us in many directions. I’m thinking of religion and its hold over people and their decision making. Any move to socialism may be blocked, unless we let God in, because religion can be very intractable.

Obviously, the market is not all that the neoliberal /classical economists would have us believe. But is the capitalist system doomed as Mason and Rickards suggest. I have an alternative view of what is taking place. I believe it’s a war of the elites.

Clash of the Titans

Wealth creation has a direct relation with power and consequently the Middle East has become one of the richest areas on the planet. Therefore, presumably, it could become the prime powerhouse of the globe and its elite the most powerful group. Add to that scenario the emergence of China and its record breaking productivity which casts it into a power player. Then of course, we have the West, led by America.

On the outskirts of this game lies Russia, rejected by the elite of the West because Putin won’t play ball by the set rules. Putin cannot be trusted to conform to the big picture. So, Russia gets up to as much mischief as it can in an attempt to be heard and still retain some credibility as a big player.

So here we have it, three main players at the table and an outcast screeching on a bench nearby. The Middle East has vast wealth and can turn on a tap to get as much as it wants. China has been accumulating significant wealth over the last few decades and can screw its people for more if needed – bang goes their saving plans.

The West has a fair back up but needed a whole lot more, hence the rape of the poor. It needed to replenish the coffers to make the banker feel good. But the West had an ace up its sleeve; it could cause big trouble in little China and particularly in the Middle East.

War! The Iraq war was only partially about oil and more about destabilizing the region. The Arab world was then encouraged to turn against each other. In Libya, under the guise of introducing democracy the West invaded – the nation is still torn apart. A similar ploy was utilized in Syria. For generations the different brothers of Islam, Shiite and Sunni lived in calm cohesion, now there is nothing but killing of their brothers.

 China has built a powerful industrial base but this has been on the back of Western capital. The multinationals can at any time transfer their allegiance back to their home nation leaving China with a major industrial wasteland.

It may seem that the West have the resource to come out on top. Perhaps, but the rise of populism has taken the gloss off their cosy abode, unless they come up with something new damp and rot will set in and they could lose any advantage.

Therefore the contention is that the world is in trouble because the elites are at war. Once this battle is resolved it will be back to business. Thus capitalism is not falling apart; it is being used by the elites to fight their respective corner.

There is so much more to this theory: industrial espionage, the deliberate interference on manufacturing of products. In this war some industrial giants are being forced to recall damaged goods which have been sabotaged, costing them $ millions. It’s nasty out there!

Notwithstanding, neoliberalism has proven a disaster movie: the steadfast, independent and strong individual (read – elites) have fought off the greedy bandits’ (read –poor) and secured world domination. Not quite! Ordinary Joe is back with a new army armed with the knowledge that:

·         Financial globalization has failed

·         Trade globalization has failed

·         That inequality has greatly increased.

The people want a better managed, more fair, more decent society than the ‘grab what you can mentality’ of the present system. Citizens want a ‘civic spirit’; they want to flex those ‘muscles’ to strengthen the positive values to take us forward. The people want a fair share of the goods they help produce.

So we are getting close to the crossroads, there will be change but I don’t think it will be revolutionary, it will be a while yet before the end to the capitalist system. Capitalism will not meld or morph into socialism; we are simply not ready intellectually for that stage of development. How damned unfortunate!

Instead governments will spend as Keynes advised. They will also introduce a degree of protectionism while continuing to promote free trade. Currency, corporate tax and interest rates will be manipulated. The financial world will be regulated as before. This will be a period of stabilizing the economy. Government investment will become a crucial element in future development.

Much may be determined by the political class. Whether they have the nous to change, the strength of will, the character, and a sense of civic duty. Or will they besmirch the aspirations of the people and cry foul as have British politicians over the Brexit vote.

We move on, perhaps a tad slower than before but hopefully happier.

1.       Paul Mason        POSTCAPITALISM A Guide to our Future.

2.       James Rickards The Road to Ruin

3.       Michael Sandel                 What Money Can’t Buy

4.       J.E.Stiglitz            The Price of Inequality

5.       Ha-Joon Chang Economics: The User’s Guide

6.       Dani Rodrik         The Globalization Paradox

 

Sorry to say – NO revolution today!

th[7]

Why? You may ask. Well, the people are a bit busy at the moment. I’m not quite sure when they will have the time to follow their dream of a decent life. No doubt that once they have the opportunity to think about the future they will demand considerable change.

Then there’s the other problem.

What?

Getting organised! Many poor people are working 12 – 14 hours a day, often more. They get home have their fried bread and mash; tired they don’t feel much up to starting a crusade.

There are exceptions!

In the town of Flint in Michigan USA, population 100,000 a quiet fight has begun. The government’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carried out a series of tests on the water supply to determine the level of lead in the supply. The EPA concluded that the water was fine.

One woman thought differently, she demanded further tests be carried out on her domestic supply. The recommended ratio is 15ppb (parts per billion). What the new investigation found was above 40ppb = dangerous level. Independent studies found several hundred more ‘dangerous’ cases. The EPA’s testing technique; a load of …. I’ll leave you to fill in the blank space.

It now emerges that all 50 states have cases of ‘excessive levels of lead contamination’ affecting several million people. When testing shows levels above 15ppb the authorities are supposed to inform residents and carry out immediate remedial work. Nearly 400 water suppliers are repeat offenders!!!

thDC82LPF2The crucial point here is that one woman stood her ground and now the government and its agencies are under close scrutiny. This woman should be nominated for -woman of the year –for person of the year. She gets my high-five award.

But wait:

At an elementary school in Ithaca NY another woman kicked up a fuss. Testing revealed that the water supply to the school registered at 5,000ppb that’s the EPA’s threshold for ‘hazardous waste’! Wow! Wow! Wow!

What both cases illustrate is that when people have the time to think they won’t allow themselves to be crapped upon. Well done mothers!!!

www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/3/11/nearly-2000-water-systems-failed-lead-tests/81220466

Alison Young & Mark Nichols

Two other points arise from this:

 

Still in America, in the state of Louisiana, a cut to local government spending has seriously reduced access to public defenders. In the Parish of Vermilion the number has been reduced from 10 to one. That’s one public defender and a waiting list of 2,300+ offenders.

Most of these cases are for minor crimes. However, many are kept in prison because they can’t afford bail money and can’t afford to hire a lawyer. Others can’t get a job while the prospect of a sentence hangs over their head.

Local officials are blaming a reduction on speeding fines for the chaos. Mm. Thus they can’t afford public defenders because not enough people are breaking the law by speeding. Mm. I find it unbelievable that the justice system is dependent on others breaking the law. I hear Patsy Cline in the background – Crazy.

Moreover, how much is this debacle costing in lost working days, on taxes, on prison costs, on social security payments. How much damage is it doing to families, to kids and the community? Who cares it only affects the poor!

www.nytimes.com/2016/03/23/         (twitter)       Campbell Robertson

I can hear a few voices declare that there are millions of poor around the world, why the focus on America. The USA is held aloft as the greatest of democracies, as the place where dreams are realised: ‘everything’s big in America’…..West Side Story. If welfare is a shambles in America and the poor are downtrodden, what hope to find anything better anywhere else?

Of course there are millions of poor around the world and many are found in India. The country claims a booming economy and the parade of the world’s top motor manufacturers tends to back that up. The boom- boom for the big car groups is based on the huge advantage of cheap-cheap labour.

The average wage for a low skilled worker is around 150 rupees ($2.40) a day. In the capital Delhi it averages 361 rupees ($5.80). But, averages disguise the reality for many of the poorest. The big boys sub-contract out the work which is again sub-contracted out. The little factories at the bottom are nothing less than hell holes.

Workers in these places find themselves in sweat shop conditions with no safety equipment and forced to work long days, 12 -14 hours, or more. While the Indian government speak of an economic miracle, and it may well be a hub for exports to General Motors and Ford etc. The truth is that it is only possible because of the poverty wages and the horrid conditions the poor have to work in. Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki are bad offenders!

In Bangladesh the minimum wage is set at 5,300 taka or $68 per month before tax. In China there are substantial differences from area to area. However, it is well documented that millions work in near slave labour conditions.

www.tradingeconomics.com/india/wages

www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/                        January 2016.

In the Middle East we have tyrannies of different hues from religious zealots to hard headed dictatorships. Religion holds the millions in check as it once did in Europe of old. In Saudi Arabia people are afraid to speak out for fear of prison and lashes by the score. Special religious police scour the towns and cities to enforce allegiance to the monarch’s determination to remain in power and promote their Sunni version of Islam.

Herein lays the reason there will be no revolution today. The people are exhausted byth66MZWZV4 the struggle to survive. They are smothered by the sheer weight and trauma of making ends meet. The poor have responsibilities that the wealthy will never know or understand. Many are in a constant battle to give, when there’s as great a need to have.

While the uncaring heart of business sucks at their strength they carry that burden and keep going. There are heroes in every street, unrecognised, unknown and yet they forge on because others are dependent on them.

And in this upside down world we make heroes of celebrities. The media maintain a constant downpour of trash TV to take the peoples mind off their struggle, for a few hours. In consequence the poor become divorced from the political world and thus from their ability to fight back. Whilst too many become the “mindless consumers” as recognised by Jürgen Habermas.

The Poor have NO Say!

E.E. Schattschneider argues that the politicians pay little heed to the people as there is no recognition of ‘popular preferences’. The fact is,

“that there is very low level of participation and political awareness, and real decisions are taken by much smaller groups of organised interests”.

Cited: Francis Fukuyama (p483) Political Order and Political Decay

In the UK the BBC is one of the worst offenders with their stratified TV programming to satisfy the class and educational bias in our society. The hierarchy at the BBC are of the same metropolitan elite that promote a left leaning political agenda.  Hypocrisy knows no boundary.

Do some good – join Robin Hood!

Taming the Beast (2)

Why is human progress so stifled?

The obvious reason is that our politicians are failing us. Why? Are they being bought off? I’ll let the economist Ha-Joon Chang answer that,

“Money gives the super- rich the power even to rewrite the basic rules of the game by – let’s not mince words – legally and illegally buying up politicians and political offices”.

Economics: The User’s Guide (p338)

  • Therefore should we allow business to make campaign contributions to political parties? NO! The reason is obvious, the business (es) are buying patronage.
  • Should politicians have jobs outside their political one? NO!
  • Should we allow lobbying? NO! Lobbying has no place in democracy!

The American system is a voluptuous but crass form of democracy. No business is giving to a campaign fund as an altruistic gesture or in a considered belief in the democratic process. As long as businesses dictate the size of the campaign fund they will dictate the policy of government. Unless they fall foul of the other big boys.

The Politburo of China is another major roadblock to human progress. While the present regime may face being toppled by their nouveau riche, that creates a new roadblock. The Russian Federation sideshow of democracy is another block on progress. Worldwide we have Junta’s and dictatorships and we have religious tyranny. The grab for power is one of the nasty aspects of capitalism.

Meanwhile, a quick scan around the globe highlights that there is no credible government. All treat the people as a bugbear. For the most part the people are belittled by the enormity of the task of moving human progress forward. Our hope rests with the leaders we elect but they become distant once elected.

The poet John Donne wrote that no man is an island, implying that as a mere mortal he has to live in the real world. The same is true of a nation. No one state can stand against the might of capitalism as we are witnessing with the growth of multinational companies. Human progress requires a concerted approach, a basic standard the people can support and view as achievable.

Who stands up?

Reliance on the left in politics has the people just as bamboozled as they have been with the political elite. There are a million hymn sheets out there flapping, each with a different tune. Little wonder therefore, that the message is lost in the babble of sound. However, that botched sound is as an aria to the ears of those who control the world’s economy.

As long as the voices of human progress are disparate the chorus of the 1% will always be in harmony. Therefore, the various groups and factions are as much a hindrance to progress as are the 1% who own the bulk of our industrial base. We must all join the orchestra or accept we are just another broken wind instrument.

An old motto ‘United we stand – Divided we fall’ has more relevance than ever. The origins of the motto are in dispute; some say it comes from the bible (Luke) others suggest Aesop’s Tales but modern use is accredited to the American Revolutionary, John Dickinson in his 1768 ‘The Liberty Song’. I find it ironic that that same liberty is now holding back human progress. www.en.m.wikipedia.org

thC0SM07SGThe motto whatever its origin still holds the power of action. Unfortunately, we hear things in monotone, groups, factions, those generally of the left tend to view events singularly and become tied to that specific movement. The overall symphony becomes subordinate to the intense focus of the moment. Human progress takes a seat in the gods!

Charities – something is wrongthTGFNAKKN

We have identified several misadventures by kings of business but a more telling damnation of the system is found in every town – charities. Millions are spent annually to entice us to give to a charity. Millions more is given by government who use charities as outsource workers. Charities point to everything we should be doing but are not.

I wonder if anyone has ever counted the number of charities around the world. If we lay the charities length ways then stand them upright we may get a better understanding of the scale of the task that lies ahead. We are reaching for the stars.

th0LB68ZID

 

 

 

 

 

Let Me Breathe, Please!

thLQSH1L46To accept the political outlook of compromise, the adage, ‘the art of the possible’ is to ride on a broken down train. Naturally progress on such a train will be slow, if at all.

When you come to the conference table with the proviso of compromise you are not being true to yourself or to the people you purport to represent. With the mindset that there is no alternative, there is no alternative. Politicians who follow such a pedantic logic congratulate each other on their political wisdom. So they arrive at a meeting with a tin of beans and leave with a teaspoonful and on the way out smile at the mirror before smiling for the camera.

Meanwhile, for 21 years representatives of world governments have been meeting to discuss the climate and the dangers inherent in sizable change. The next meeting will take place in December 2015 in Paris France. Each delegate will arrive with their tin of beans and having eaten something more upmarket will leave; not forgetting to smile at the mirror before smiling for the camera.

Therefore, can we expect a decisive response in December or will we be served with the leftover beans on a plastic plate? The view of scientists is overwhelmingly in favour of cutting CO2 emissions. But politicians don’t represent scientists, they represent business interests. Business enterprises have had at the very least 21 years to prepare a long-term strategy, but are still to be found having a tantrum in the background. Anything that effects profit adversely makes them cry.

One has to ask if it would do any good to present our politicians with a portfolio of factual information. I suspect not. Nonetheless:

American Medical Association

“Our AMA … supports the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fourth assessment report and concurs with the scientific consensus that the Earth is undergoing adverse global climate change and that anthropogenic [human] contributions are significant.” (2013)

Global temperature increased by more than 1.4oF over the last century.

The AMA is one of several bodies that have put their name to the argument that climate change is a reality. Check out the web site!!!

www.climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/

An anonymous poll was carried out with 10,200 scientists being contacted of whom 3146 responded:

Question #1: When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?

About 90% of all the scientists and 97% of the climate scientists said temperatures had risen.

Question #2: Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?

About 82% of all the scientists and 97% climate scientists agreed that human activity is a significant contributing factor.

http://www.wunderground.com/resources/climate/928.asp

A large number of studies have been done and the findings are:

New Picture

http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/images/science/models-observed-human-natural-large.jpg

This is a worthwhile site to visit. It is a question and answer piece and very informative. In one answer I came across the following statement: “… carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are higher than they have been for at least 800,000 years”.

U.S. Global Change Research Program // Karl S Thomas et al

Thus at the meeting in December will we witness China, America and India come to the conference table and agree to give up the use of coal? Coal is deemed to be the worse polluter of the fossil fuels. Unfortunately, I think not!

All delegates may attend with their tin of beans but leave with less than their teaspoonful because the big boys will not compromise on issues that their industry makes mega-bucks from. And there you have the proof – the short-term interests of business are more important than the long-term health of our planet.

If I was a betting man I would wager £50 that no jaw-dropping decision will be taken, that some kind of fudge will be reached. Politicians will raise their shoulders in a gesture as if to say ‘what did you expect’. However, they will be united in agreeing that it is a good deal. They will smile for the camera and argue that everyone got something out of it. As for the planet and our health, well, that’s another matter.

Let’s pray for rain.

Another telling piece of information was to be found in theguardian.com/2015/jun/22/. In the capital of Chile such was the smog that an environmental emergency was declared: the 7 million residents were warned not to do any physical activity, over 1.7 million vehicles were ordered off the roads and 1300 businesses were closed. It was the driest June in 40 years and the prospect of rain is weeks away.

In the last months we have heard of similar stories from Paris France, London England and Delhi India. This is an increasing phenomenon.

Do some good…..Join Robin Hood!

Environment: It Needs Oxygen!

 

th[3]Are politicians deaf to the cry of the wild that they would rather subsidise fossil fuel than promote a green environment?

A reminder: Government should benefit the people not those in power. Wang Fuzhi

Should we believe politicians and the faceless bureaucrats that the world will be saved by the buying and selling of carbon emissions? I dealt with some aspects of selling pollution in my previous post: Environment: It’s Dying. What is really interesting is the number of developing countries who are taking part in this market oriented money making enterprise. There are several projects initiated by UN-REDD Programme aimed at preventing further deforestation and degradation of forests in developing countries.

Madagascar is one such country which has allocated 705,588 carbon credits for a project in the Makira Forest. The Makira Forest of 400,000 hectares (1,500 sq. miles) is a sizable area. A number of projects are underway to convince the local communities that there is an alternative to deforestation. However these prevention techniques are small in scale e.g. one will take 30 years to offset 32 million tonnes of CO2. A second will avoid 1.6 million metric tonnes over a 25 year period. http://phys.org/news/2013-09-massive-carbon-credit-sale-madagascar.html

 

  1. The world emits 32 gigatonnes annually.

Other projects in Africa include Tanzania which has sold some credits for $US 200,000 in forest conservation. A further hope is to encourage eco-tourism. Trains and boats and planes go jollying by, burning fossil fuel but it’s ok because they’ll pay. An earlier project received $US 1.9 million over a four year period 2010 – 2013. Tanzania Daily News

Why the focus on Developing Nations?

Madagascar is losing an approximate 100,000 hectares (386 sq. miles) each year to burning for agriculture. Zambia is losing between 250,000 – 300,000 hectares annually, predominately in the making of charcoal for heating in business and the home.

thFTLUIBEWIn South America the situation is even worse. Peru, Brazil and Ecuador etc. the region is losing an estimated 13 million hectares year on year. In December 2014 the UN held climate talks in Peru, which has some of the worse deforestation in the region. Brazil attended but continues with accelerated deforestation under their president Rouseff, a former head of an oil company. The conclusion of the meeting was to replant 20 million hectares of trees. However, in the period 2001 – 2012 some 36 million was lost to agricultural expansion. The guardian2014/12/09

There is little sign of abatement as, theguarian2015/01/28 reports. Roads run deep into the Amazon where oil and gas blocks are now much bigger than those of Texas e.g. 730,000 sq.km. The setting up of National Parks has prevented some incursions but deforestation continues apace. Ecuador, who signed an agreement in 2007 to prevent further road building changed tact under economic pressure. So much for contracts! Bolivia too is open for business.

They’re killing us but the profit is excellent!

The talks in the capital Lima had been an initiative of Germany in 2011 and thus termed the Bonn Challenge. As we can see – they are doing the mad dog thing – chasing their tail. Not very successful based on the amount of forest lost. Scientists believe that around 17% of CO2 emissions – more than what America produces each year – is caused by deforestation especially in tropical areas. www.phys.org as above

The economic rationale of the region fits well with the self-interest theory as examined by Dani Rodrik p249 the Harvard economist, “In the case of global warming, self-interest pushes nations to ignore the risks of climate change”. This would appear to be the case in South America. But if we keep in mind the carbon emissions of deforestation (more than America) can we justify allowing these countries to simply cut and burn at will irrespective of the consequences to climate change. The Globalization Paradox

Dani Rodrik p277 gives an emphatic yes in principle to developing countries finding their own way. “The right approach would be to have China, and indeed all emerging nations, free to pursue their own growth policies”. As we travel down Rodrik Road and allow carte blanche development for ‘emerging’ nations, he argues that it would be ‘reasonable to expect’ that these nations would not pursue policies that would lead to huge trade balances. An alternative might be, “Every nation has responsibility”, Ottimar Edenhofer of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research; quoted: www.blogs.reuters.com   2015/04/13

Rodrik’s prime concern is the sanctity of the market, not the environment. Large trade balances in favour of China or India could swing the pendulum of power, and, power is the name of the game. Why with the economic power at their behest would China / India not seize the opportunity to dictate world policy just as others have done, past and present?

It was and is ‘reasonable to expect’ America to pursue policies that aid the world economy and environment. At present US oil is $10 a barrel cheaper than the world average but is not for sale abroad. America has used its might in agriculture and pharmaceuticals to run roughshod over the globe. Because it has held the economic power America has the political power and has used it to their benefit. Why would China / India be any different? www.economist.com/news/united/2015/04/02

Moreover, it was the market that has brought us to this jammed road intersection and, still pursues a profit before people mentality. The market is about satisfying the demands of the 1%. The poor, the world over, still get scraps from the table.

Furthermore, the notion that developing countries need to push forward with industrialization to counter poverty is such balderdash. Recent demonstrations in Brazil and Venezuela and many parts of Europe prove categorically that the poor do not share in the wealth of the nation. Both China and India have horrific records when it comes to alleviating poverty. Or giving due consideration to the environment.

According to Reuters.com 2015/04/13 China will overtake America as number-one in carbon emissions and will do so this year. India is expected to leapfrog Russia into fourth (4th) place in the deadly table. Both countries, assuming present trends will surpass America and the EU together.

China has recently been accused of dumping chemical waste in Inner Mongolia. In a report for france24_en Observers, when the villagers protested they were met with rubber bullets and tear gas. Farmers from Doquintala village have reported that their crop is reduced by 33% and, the fruit trees have died. The ground water has been contaminated and instances of cancer and thrombosis have sharply increased over the last decade. For me Rodrik’s argument that we can ‘reasonably expect’ does not stack up. Check my post on Rodrik and India: No ‘Cover’ for Child Labour

It is a bazaar situation, this whole concept of carbon credits. The West gives the credits to developing countries and then buys them back. Some may suggest that its charity but it is not; there is profit to be made on both sides of the transaction. Bet you can’t guess who takes the larger slice of the cake.

thXJDRNI6QWhat is happening is that we are walking our way through an ocean of sludge because we don’t know any better. We are tied into the neoliberal economic school of thought; within which the market is enshrined in a golden casket that cannot be tampered with for fear that a world calamity will unfold.

Sadly it is a belief shared by many of our leaders and by powerful international bodies: UN, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. As far as they are concerned the market is the prime motivator for change. These are people with clout; they are in effect the Praetorian Guard of the 1%. The super rich, the big boys!

However, it is not just the developing nations that are screwing up our planet. Australia has made a hash of the coral reef and every nation has contributed to the shrinking of Antarctica. Where are our defenders, the peoples’ army? My next post will look at these and other contributing issues.

Do some good…….join Robin Hood

 

 

On the Road to El Dorado

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Ennobled Leadership:

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

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

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

Democracy is no panacea!thOMVN3EG7

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

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

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

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

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

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

The politicians’ anthem:

thCA57R6FMVote then disappear,

Go down the pub and have a beer;

Leave us to belch and fart and cheer

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

Who the . . . . mentioned the EU?

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

World Poverty: Too Little Too Late.

A trinity (not the Holy) of influential bodies:  the World Bank (WB), United Nations (UN) thCAO34NGVand the International Monetary Fund (IMF), aided by an army of bureaucrats have set a goal of seriously denting the sheer number living in ‘extreme’ poverty by 2030. Ending world poverty is an admiral aim which deserves acclamation and thoughtful support.

A High Level Panel of the UN met recently, April 2013, to look back at the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals, (MDG’s) set in 2000. According to the blurb, “…the panel met with a sense of optimism and deep respect for the Millennium Development Goals.” They applauded:

  • The fastest reduction in poverty in human history. (China & India)
  • 0.5bn fewer living below the $1.25 threshold.
  • Child deaths down 30%

The panel set a new challenge, “Central to this is eradicating extreme poverty from the face of the earth by 2030.” Quite a task they have set themselves. Good luck.

During the course of the meeting they acknowledged the work of the MDG’s and the guiding ‘spirit’ of the organisation. Nonetheless, their objective is to go beyond the previous ‘goals’. In doing so they brought to our attention a few omissions of the previous cohort:

  • They did not focus enough on the poorest.
  • Were silent on conflict and its consequences.
  • Were quiet on good governance – (see later).

“Most seriously the MDG’s fell short by not integrating the economic, social and environmental aspects of sustainable development…” www.pdfownersguide.net  I would call that game, set and match to the new guys. The old guys have probably been pensioned off with a nice golden handshake.

David Hulme, had already savaged the thinking behind the MDG’s when he pointed out that while China and India were hailed for reducing ‘extreme’ poverty they, “…pretty much ignore[d] the MDG’s”. Moreover, the implementation was top-down and in need of better targeting. They may have taken notice of Hulme’s observations.  cpd.org.bd/Post/MDG/OPseries/SVOP2.pdf

Professor Rehman Sobhan was equally blunt when he suggests that the MDG’s,              “…address the symptoms not the causes of poverty”. post2015.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/sv-op/   Thus it would seem that the WB and its partners have pretty much wasted thirteen years!

If we examine the WB’s analysis of the situation June 2013, their target is to reduce ‘extreme’ poverty to 3% or below by 2030. They acknowledge that there are still 1bn people living in ‘deep’ poverty, while inequality was rising in developing countries. Certain restraints are also recognised vis-à-vis the need for ‘rapid economic growth’ and long term ‘structural changes’ and these must be sustainable for their targets to be achieved.

A number of points can be raised here: over the 13 years of MDG’s those in ‘extreme’ poverty declined by 0.5bn. Now the WB are accepting that 1bn people are still in ‘extreme’ poverty, so how many years will it take to ‘eradicate’ that number? There are only 17 years left till target day. Meanwhile ‘inequality is still rising’ in developing countries! The other puzzle is that while the UN wants to ‘eradicate’ extreme poverty, the WB is happy to reduce it to 3% or fewer. Is one being too ambitious or the other too cautious? Alternatively both may be flying as high as a kite!

Achieving their stated aim immediately comes under scrutiny when reminded that Oxfam warned that 100m more people face poverty because of price rises. Incredibly thCAJPIQU2the WB threshold of $1.25 does not include increases in fuel and food in its calculations, according to the charity. Mindboggling! It was such price rises that caused the food riots of 2007/2008. A report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (2011) found that the riots were similar to those of 1972/74 and warned that we can expect more. The causes were identified as: fuel hikes, bad weather, lack of investment and speculation. On that basis I would concur that more food crises will happen.

In 1981 the threshold was $1; it was not revised until 2005, twenty-four years later, to a paltry $1.25 a-day. Therefore it is obvious that no account is taken of inflation; yet inflation can have an unbearable impact on peoples’ lives. It would seem a callous disregard for the ‘nether’ people. Living standards can be grossly affected by continuous increases on goods. A few examples will suffice to make the point:

Kenya: 10%         Nigeria: 12.1%                   Argentina: 25%                 India: 9%         (all 2012)

The recent riots in Brasil are testament to how hard life can be to make ends meet, just to wake up and find the government wasting vast sums on prestige projects.

Those mandarins that quantify the figures and set the targets seem divorced from the reality of a day to day existence. Their only concern is the target; the people are amorphous. I have mentioned in previous posts on world poverty how they disavow the ‘nether’ people; those in the darklands between the $1.25 a-day and the $2 a-day. No one is sure of the number of ‘nether’ people but it is well over a billion. They should carry out a survey in the Kibera in Kenya or a favela in Brasil to ascertain what difference the 75 cents makes.

“…when the Tendulkar Committee was asked to review India’s poverty line, it recommended raising the line from USD 1 a-day to USD 1.25 a-day. As a result 189 million Indian’s moved below the poverty line. This suggests that moving people above and below a poverty line is a fool’s game that tells you little about the nature and sources of poverty”. Rehman Sobhan

Before greed walked the land in the guise of bankers’, success had come easy for the WB, the UN and the IMF. Both China and India had had an industrial spurt which resulted in millions of menial jobs being created and thus lifted millions beyond the ‘frugal’ threshold. An estimated 680 million alone in China transformed the poverty landscape and brought joy to the ‘trinity’; their panacea had been found. Then the bankers froze their assets!

The recession that began in 2008 may be “…the worst in 100years.” www.telegraph.co.uk/finance   It has lasted five years and may take another 5 years before trading makes a good impact on peoples’ lives. Geoffrey Moore, has documented, 3 depressions, 6 sharp recessions and 5 mild recessions in the period 1920 / 2000. The downturns vary in length from six months to 18 months and longer. www.econlib.org/  Based on these figures and the fact that 17 years remain before the ‘trinity’ target date, I would suggest we will experience a few more recessions by the due date.

While developed countries can cushion the hardship of those affected with their welfare system there is still a huge cost to the nation. “However, the size of today’s welfare state, some economists argue, is hindering recovery by piling state debts higher and preventing the economy from realising its full potential.” Telegraph, op. cit.  citing the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.

We have the ludicrous situation whereby big business is making big profits by farming out jobs abroad. Meanwhile, the state is borrowing money by the bag full to pay for the welfare system and the rest of us have to pay ever more tax to pay the debt off. Why don’t we give our tax to big business and they can keep the jobs at home!

Periods of prolonged unemployment can create a severe impediment to those who seek work or who lose the motivation to get back on the road again. The consequence is the gradual development of an underclass which has considerable cost implications further down the road.

The hopes of the trinity rest on the prerequisite of industrial growth and significant political changes. However, the economy is subject to a number of vagaries:

  • The frequency of recessions.
  • Speculation – see food crises.
  • Greed, the cause of the present depression.
  • Saving and spending habits of the people.
  • The influence of government.
  • The extent of monopoly V competition.
  • The environmental impact of unchecked industrial growth.

There seems to be a lack of coherent economic thinking on the part of the trinity: “It is perfectly possible to have economic growth without the creation of new jobs or improvements in working conditions.” www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-shank/  I have a

They will listen!

They will listen!

noted in World Poverty: America the NY Times of 2006, “…growth alone is an insufficient indicator of national well-being.” Meanwhile, it is hoped that India will be a major contributor to the eradication of extreme poverty; however, “…it will be a mediocre-at-best investment in destination for the next decade.” Proactiveinvestors.com

As the ‘trinity’ do not have the power to dictate the world economy, their scheme is as much at the mercy of the market as are the rest of us. Even with periods of sustained growth, poverty has persisted and will continue to, until the world economy is governed by a more visible ‘income distribution’. This is not simply a case of giving people money; wages will have to rise and profit margins will have to be lower.

A more credible income distribution on a world scale should be the prerequisite that the trinity promote. This can be achieved by an insistence on a minimum wage in each society. I’m sure the UN can pass a resolution of that nature and have enough bureaucrats to monitor the compliance to it. Or is that politically unfeasible?

In terms of political change / structural change required; that could take a whole lot longer than envisaged. We are dealing with base human traits. When selfishness and greed walk hand in hand the rest of us better watch out. Corruption is so embedded in several nations that it will take time and a high degree of sophistication to rid it from the land.

The WB must pay more heed to its own guidelines and drive them home with as much vigour as can be generated:

World Governance Indicators

  • Extent of democracy.
  • Political stability
  • Quality of public services
  • Private sector development
  • Rule of law
  • Control of corruption

These are building blocks to a better future and as such need to be forcibly applied where appropriate. However, the adherence to the principle of free trade is illogical in the interim as local industry needs a head start as it cannot compete with the conglomerates of the developed economies. As this could lead to countries becoming net importers which compounds poverty, does not relieve it or eradicate it.

How feasible is ‘sustainable development’? Can we have every nation working to full capacity making goods for sale? How many more cars, trucks and chimneys spouting out their muck can the environment endure? Is the end to extreme world poverty wishful thinking on a large scale? For 50 years and more the problems of poverty have been fought and there seems no end in sight. All the questions and answers are tied together, like a bunch of flowers, with a pretty ribbon, on which is inscribed, politician.

“Nearly a billion people entered the twenty-first century unable to read a book or sign their name.”             www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty

Now here is a travesty; it is unconscionable that in the modern era a problem of such magnitude exists. “… now’s the time for your tears.” Bob Dylan: The Lonesome Death of Hattie Caroll. This is a prime cause of poverty and as such should be tackled with the utmost haste.

I came across a shellshock of a fact: “Schoolgirl absenteeism could be cut in half by simply providing free sanitary towels.”  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty#   It is too staggering for words.

We have a problem Houston. A problem identified by Charles Handy: “Group-think is dangerous because like-minded groups have like- minded ideas and find it hard amongst themselves to re-frame any situation.” The Age of Unreason (1989)

Even rock stars are not immune:

“…extreme poverty has been cut in half the last 20 years, and the facts show that we can get it to virtually zero within a generation-but only if we act.” Bono, U2

We have a host of organisations for by the ‘trinity’ who are trapped by the $1.25 a-day threshold and the spiel that accompanies it. Perhaps they need to be reminded:

“Minds are like parachutes. They only function when they are open.”  James Dewar, 1842-1923.

“Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm-but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.”  T.S.Eliot

World poverty will not taking the high road just yet.