Taming the Beast (3)

The Road Ahead

Banksy

Banksy

It must start with a clear head, and a very honest appraisal of the task ahead.  Those who wish to fight for human progress must recognise that every cause cannot be fought in the first instance. As stated previously, the number of charities is an indication of the scale of the task. Therefore the starting point is the first rung.

Banksy

Banksy

To make demands which prove unrealistic is to give the opposition a propaganda boost. Ordinary people are often treated like muck but they do think and have a greater understanding than many give them credit for. They too will recognise what is achievable and what is fanciable. It will be a hard lesson for many on the ‘left’ to learn, such is their commitment to their cause.

Finding a unity of purpose and an agenda that can bridge the meandering streams of thought will prove incredibly difficult. Without a unity of purpose all causes will flounder. It can be agreed that each group can continue to support their cause but their first allegiance must be to the general good.

To this end a ten (10) point plan, should be drawn up and promoted by all. My personal agenda would include:

  • No business to be allowed to give financial support to any political party.
  • Politicians should have one job. None outside their political duties.
  • No lobbying!
  • A Clean Air Act.

I think these suggestions would be fine and resonate with the wider public under a campaign banner of greater democracy. Of course I could be wrong.

Democracy might not be everyone’s idea of a platform for achieving human progress. However, there is no alternative and democracy is more powerful than many think. There is little point in hankering after a mystic goal that will not take the people with you. Work with the people. Don’t demand they follow you!

In compiling an agenda there will be much argument. I can almost hear the furious ruckus as individuals and groups clamber over one another for a seat at the top table. The noise is over ridden by the screech of others demanding their key points be included in the plan.

‘Top table’ it creates a problem. It really needs people who are self-assured and with nothing to prove. If one has a separate agenda then the mind is out of focus.

Above the melee, a blunderbuss of laughter is heard from the 1%. They are unafraid of such a throng as this; the tartar army.thRMW0GF2G

Getting agreement may seem like an impossible task. Nonetheless, where there is intellect there is hope. The challenge is not to see the cause as a belief system but rather as a means to an end. Above all it should embrace the peoples will not that of any organisation.

The possibility exists that the compromisers will endeavour to include a plank of everyone’s policy stance. This is the weak link and will prove to be the death knell of any attempt at unity and progress.

Handy Hints

On reading Charles Handy, The Empty Raincoat I was heartened by his change in outlook. He talks about his American business school in the 1960s where in every room the blazon charge, “maximize the medium-term earnings per share”. (p135)  That was the focus that every tutor instilled in their students. Many years later his outlook was adapted to a greater understanding and purpose:

“My business school in America was wrong, I am now convinced. The principal purpose of a company is not to make profit, full stop. It is to make profit in order to do things and make things, and to do so ever better and more abundantly”. (p136)

This is not just a change of heart by Handy but a clear shift in understanding. It is recognition that the world is more than a selfish consumer or a buccaneer entrepreneur. Such a change in stance should act as precursor for the left in politics. Never examining a belief or cause is to diminish your understanding and thereby the view of the future. It holds all other views in contempt. The greater good is the one area that permits all of us to attain personal development.

The world cannot grow until men learn how to.

Capitalism: Taming the Beast.

Capitalism is not the best fit for a decent society. This is becoming increasingly clear as the world becomes more accessible to all. Nonetheless, it is an essential tool in building and developing the science and technology required to house a good society. At present there is no alternative and little sign of one on the horizon. Therefore, to enhance human progress all we can do is rein-in, to prevent the worst excesses of the beast.

Left unbridled, capitalism has no conscience, no heart, no sense of justice. Recent history tells the story.

 

  • DDT used between 1945 – 1972 when it was banned from use as an agricultural insecticide having been linked to ecological degradation and testicular cancer. www.en.m.wikipedia.org
  • Thalidomide – released in 1957 in Germany as a sedative or hypnotic. Soon it was used to alleviate morning sickness in pregnant women. The result was over 10,000 births worldwide with a 50% death rate. The survivors had severe disabilities.

“The thalidomide disaster is one of the darkest episodes in pharmaceutical research history”. www.sciencemuseum.org.uk

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thalidomide

And now we are under threat from genetically modified organisms. No! – GMO! www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/apr/16/eu-new-gm-genetically-modified-foods

The shenanigans of the business world are similarly dark. Enron was the biggest thST67FT30bankruptcy in US history until WorldCom.  Enron hid $$billions in debt before their bubble burst. WorldCom used loose accountancy methods to maintain their share price. Profit the main motivation!

These events led to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. The law was passed by Congress to prevent fraudulent accounting activities by corporations and, “…the wilful destruction of evidence to impede a Federal investigation”.  Five companies in all were cited.

www.en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarbanes-Oxley_Act

It would be good to think that the law was changed because the politicians were looking after the best interests of the ordinary people. Unfortunately, these companies went OTT and cost shareholders a lot of money. It shows just how untrustworthy business truly is.

In the UK in 2014 Tesco the large supermarket also used loose accountancy to suggest they had £300 million more in their coffers than they actually had.  Now we have the Volkswagen debacle and the fixing of diesel car emissions. It appears that the EU politicians knew the details in 2013 but kept quiet about it. Who can Ordinary Joe trust?

thIQB7HPADHow many people are dying annually from poor air quality in our major cities? We need a new Clean Air Act!

The Harvard economist Dani Rodrik, The Globalization Paradox sums up the market quite succinctly,

“In short, markets are not self-creating, self-regulating, self-stabilizing, or self-legitimizing”. P22

Honest government is the only way to control the excesses of the market place. There are so many known examples of poor business practice. But how many remain hidden? It would seem that governments will only act in times of crisis.

Every economic crash has had at its base the obsessive pursuit of profit. The most recent major crash of 2008 left a sound of anguish the world over, and we are still experiencing the reverberations today. “This period also ranks among the most horrific in US financial history.”  Paul Kosakowski, www.investopedia.com

The main cause lies with the government of America and their decision to repeal the 1933 Glass – Steagall Act in 1999. The act had regulated the banking sector. Once removed, at the behest of the big boys, the saliva drooled and the wolves howled their hunger for some ripe pickings. Deregulation was the key element in the great crash but had its foundation in American Republicanism.

In the wake of the crash many other devious scams have been unearthed.

  • Libor – the fixing of the bank lending rate.
  • Foreign exchange – forex – fixing of the rate.
  • PPI – false insurance policies

How many other double deals have yet to be uncovered?

American Republicanism arrests our development by its insistence on the political stance of individualism and the free market economy. This belief system is supported by the neo-classical economists who promulgate the notion that we are all individual self-interest motivated consumers. However, such a premise negates the power of marketing and dismisses the colossal amounts spent on advertisement. It also promotes the view that the market is the benefactor of society.

As consumers we are often tricked by marketing ploys into making a purchase by the placement of goods on supermarket shelves. By the need to belong, this has many of us following trends: fashion, phones and food etc. Note also the spending of $£ billions on building a ‘brand’ name with the subliminal message that nothing else is quite as good. Marketing is the markets sheep dog!