Gender-Neutral 2

The whole G-N policy being promoted needs further explanation to the wider public or it is in danger of being dismissed as a looney fad. Serious thought is required as to what G-N individuals/ body are expecting from society. Simply making demands immediately meets opposition. Therefore, any attempt to force an agenda on the public would be counterproductive.

I was taken by the decision making of school (s) on Prince Edward Island, Canada. Here twelve (12) elementary/primary schools have adopted a change to G-N washrooms (toilets). According to a news report by, cbc.ca/news quoting one principal that the move to G-N washrooms ‘reflects society’.

“A school is a reflection of society and in society you see gender-neutral washrooms”. Principal Norbet Carpenter – Montague elementary school.

We could spend ages deconstructing this statement but suffice to say that G-N does not reflect society otherwise there would not be a call to implement it. The introduction of G-N washrooms is a new development that stems from a political agenda.

Let’s be bolshie, the news report states that the trend was begun by “a” family that complained on behalf of their child. Of course this could be a typo error or woeful reporting. However, no mention was made of consultation with parents or seeking for consensus. That being the case we are left with two assumptions:

  • The policy was forced on the majority without agreement. (who needs Stalin)
  • The reporting was atrocious.

Further confusion was caused by Julia Gaudet, director of student services at the Public Schools Branch, “We are not getting huge amounts of requests, but we are getting requests,” Again there are several questions that could be asked about this statement. Does each request result in a school adopting a G-N washroom? The statement does convey the suggestion that there are few requests.

More general questions come to mind:

  1. What does a child understand by G-N?
  2. Is it based on feeling? Is it to do with embarrassment?
  3. Does the child/family realise that their request affects all in the school?
  4. If the child is female they already have cubicles; what is the problem.
  5. If the child is male then some coaxing and/or coaching to use available cubicles might prove appropriate.
  6. Should any anxiety experienced by the child not be dealt with by counselling in the first instance?

The child/family that raised the issue of G-N washrooms will not be alone in suffering degrees of anxiety. There are numerous issues that confront children of all ages; are these being dealt with on an individual basis? Mental health and abuse/mental trauma are but two. What are the schools doing about these issues? Or, if no complaint, is the physical/mental anxiety left in the unknown tray?

There seems to be a nucleus of schools in the area that have changed to G-N washrooms. Twelve out of sixty-four (64) not a conclusive number but sufficient to stimulate discussion. The population and school numbers are in decline, one reason being that teenagers who are of age are leaving for the big towns/cities elsewhere in Canada. What will they find in the metropolis?

In trying to understand the term G-N I looked it up in a dictionary; merriam-webster.com to find the following definition: ‘not referring to either sex but only to people in general’. I can foresee many problems arising from this and much embarrassment caused by numerous faux pas.

Is it therefore time to re-write our dictionaries to exclude such terms as: boy, girl, she, him, her, woman, male etc. etc. etc. I can hear screams of Noooo! coalescing in a suburban area just before the explosion.

It was my understanding that equal opportunity covered all the bases when it came to human rights. Why then has the G-N faction broken off to pursue their own agenda? Do they perceive their own predicament as of greater need than those of others? Or are they adopting the child philosophy of, scream loud until they pacify you? Note the conclusion of Ha-Joon Chang (213)*

“Equality of opportunity is something to be cherished”.

Kilts are Back!!!

A fashion breakthrough!

All pupils to wear kilts at new G-N schools!   No?

Why not?

Because…..

Sorry I couldn’t hear you. No, you’ll have to speak louder.

The boys won’t wear kilts!

Oh, so all the girls will wear trousers? I see, its equal opportunity at work. Hm.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be an all-inclusive focus with the pursuit of a G-N agenda. There seems little or no consideration for the needs of others (touché). It smacks very much of we will get what we want and you lot will have to put up with it. Like arguments have been made on several occasions mainly by those on the left whom history has shown are just as prone to diktat as the right-wing whom they condemn as fascists.

Every faction is in a hurry and the only thing holding up ‘progress’ is the dullards’, otherwise known as the general population. This body may well be thinking of self-interest but so are the G-N lobby. The general population may be experiencing what Daniel Kahneman (305)* calls “loss aversion” e.g. they like things as they are; thank you very much. And, who might well prefer an approach similar to that proposed by Karl Popper:

That change requires “critical rationalism”,* (107) meaning it has to be thought out and be under constant review and to the benefit of society.

BIG Q: Why is G-N being pursued in primary schools? Is this because kids are more malleable, more open to suggestion? Are children therefore being used as political pawns?

“It is not possible, nor desirable, to try and be gender neutral all the time.” Most of us have a gender we identify with.

www.liveabout.com/gender-neutral-2982565

*Ha-Joon Chang, 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About CAPITALISM

*Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow

*Bryan Magee, Popper

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-schools-gender-neutral-washrooms-1.4290514

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

 

Naomi Klein V Trump 4

The victory by Trump has been characterized as a ‘ferocious backlash’ ∗(20) by Ms Klein, and yes, that’s what it was. However, what was the backlash against? There was no trigger moment. It had a lot to do with the electorate looking at a dead end; turning round to see Fagin awaiting them. ‘Got to pick a pocket or two’. Exasperated is a solid verb; it sums up the feeling many felt. They, the people, had been screwed by all those in power. Trust was on a bus to some desert, somewhere.

Trump may be a flash octopus having tentacles into everything but crucially, he was not part of the political establishment. He had no history of promising sunshine only for it to piss down. Therefore, the backlash was an attempt to find a safe shoreline, a place to put their feet up for a while and take stock. Get some rays! To become the unforgotten! (27)

It is little wonder that Starbuck’s boss could present the coffee shop as a ‘third place’, a retreat, (25) clever advertising! Presenting the coffee shop, as a sanctuary from the hustle of daily life for half an hour or so. The ‘left’ need to get better at marketing!

Another mistake would be to run with the assumption that Trump’s vote came from rednecks only. Lots of ordinary decent folk cast their vote for change, change that offered some protection that wasn’t clouded in deceit. The electorate wanted something different and not from the same old political class. It’s just a pity they chose wrong. But the choice was limited.

A similar experience was sought in France with the election of Macron. He had been a member of the political class but managed somehow to distance himself and to be perceived as an independent. Macron’s different label won’t last long. In many countries around the globe we have witnessed the voting public thrashing about trying to find honest representation.

What Trump offered was a sense of stability and fed the emotional hankering for how things were. He promised to bring jobs back. (219). Allow people to hold fast with the beliefs that they grew up with.

The big question the democratic left have to answer is how to engender trust. The need is to convince ordinary Joe that there is the prospect of a brighter future. Make a future seem plausible, even desirable, (220). And one that needs everyone to help build. In the present political climate most will scoff and say it’s not possible. That’s the task, to find a methodology of approach that stirs the juices and makes people want to go there.

A starting line for thought is what happens when Trump is booted out? What are the choices?

Involvement would be my keyword. And stop talking down to people. Assume that they can rationalize and offer a bona fide response. Start the conversation and don’t be surprised if you don’t get a word in edgeways (edgewise). Moreover, it would be foolhardy to make it all about Trump, ‘anti Trump camp’ (17) for when he’s kicked out people might slouch and think everything’s all right now; time for a coffee. “And that was not a safe place”. (98)

Ms Klein’s verve at writing goes without saying (?). However, her rhetoric seems to run away from her at times; “…with unleashed white supremacy and misogyny.” (220) Who let the dogs out? In her list of the nasty side of capitalism she adds, “That white men are better than the rest.” (257)There is no qualifying of these remarks; they are simply left to interpretation.

I’m sure she does not intend to insult all white men but wants to unleash her vent at the Neanderthal supremacists, no problem. However, if taken out of context it opens her up to attack. In such a scenario it could be construed as suggesting that that attitude is embedded in white culture. No!

In explaining how heartless the system is and of an elite, “That treats government as a resource to be mined for private wealth, leaving wreckage behind.” (99) She makes a powerful statement that needs to be explored more fully. E.g. subsidies:

  1. Just how large are they?
  2. Which industries benefit most?
  3. What is the return on investment to the nation?
  4. Should this money not be better channelled?

Moreover, governments borrow vast sums and like any ordinary Joe have to pay interest on the loan.

  • U.S. as of November 2016 gross national debt was $19.8 trillion. Interest on debt in 2014 was $231bn rising to $799bn in 2024. WOW!
  • UK in 2015 government debt was around £1.56tn interest was £43bn
  • Canada projected for 2016/17 is $1.4tn the previous year’s interest was $62.8bn

It’s a double whammy, government borrows loads – gives out loads in subsidies, and we pay. In both these examples the big boys are getting fat on our money.

In effect government is propping up the market. It exposes the tale of the neoliberal economists that the market creates its own checks and balances.

Big Q’s: How much are governments pumping into the economy? And, how reliant on government financial input is the market?

As for the ‘wreckage’; there is a whole, whole lot less money to spend on essentials – welfare, health, education and infrastructure.

It’s true the rich pay taxes but: the rich giveth and the rich taketh away – with interest!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_debt_of_the_United_States#Calculating_the_annual_change_in_debt

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

https://www.fraserinstitute.org/sites/default/files/cost-of-government-debt-in-canada-2017.pdf

There are two statements which keep me upbeat:

1

“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.”

Ha-Joon Chang, Economics: The User’s Guide (456)

“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.”

Michael Sandel, What Money Can’t Buy (130)

I so want to believe!!!

*Naomi Klein, NO Is Not Enough

Ah hell, an Addendum

At present the American Left are on a major anti-Trump campaign. It’s a single issue, it’s a bull run. It’s an issue that will NOT end the plight of millions of poor in the country. They might succeed in getting him out, then what. Go back to the political class for guidance? Why do their job for them?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Naomi Klein V Trump 3

Politics is riven across the globe just like between Klein and Trump which makes things jolly-dee for the elite. Therefore, The Economist must make good reading when it writes that America is divided. It suggests a political gridlock and economic inequality. A huge disturbance for the ‘left’ is the New York Times report that 53% of white female voters put their mark for Trump and, 30% of Hispanics did likewise. There doesn’t seem to be a clear road ahead.

www.economist.com/news/21723797-the-future-of-america

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/22/us/after-success-of-womens-march-a-question-remains-whats-next.html?

Any unifying organisation has the problem from the contentious question of how many suitcases each individual organisation should bring with them. Therefore, the argument that ‘Indigenous peoples rights are sacrosanct’ (242) and individual movements must be ‘protected’ (243) and ‘identity politics’ (91) must be supported and ‘reparations for slavery’ (125) is a weakness. Ms Klein commits the crime of playing to the gallery.

“… to have hope of changing the world, we’re going to have to be willing to change ourselves.” (261)

If the movement for change is to take us to a better society for all, then we must – start as one- not as a host each with baggage; because somewhere down the line factions will peel off. They still might!

The Big Q. Do I stand for all or do I stand for me?

The driving force must be equality of opportunity; from there we work out what is needed to make it a reality: better welfare system, free education, medical care and nursery places for all etc.

Ha-Joon Chang, 23 Things They Don’t Tell You about Capitalism – Thing 20 (210-220)

We cannot right the wrongs of the past no matter how heinous. The best that can be offered is to come along and help decide. That’s democracy! There are some on the ‘left’ that want the frog-march as the compulsory dance. I prefer, slow, slow, quick, quick slow waltz. It’s more fun.

Thanks…
for my world

Unfortunately, there will be no ‘leap’ on climate change, though it is necessary. In an article for the UN April 2016, How to Finance Global Reflation, Andrew Sheng wrote, “An estimated $6 trillion in infrastructure investment will be needed annually over the next 15 years just to address global warming.”

James Rickards, The Road to Ruin (87)

Ms Klein has looked at this question of finance and come up with some figures (247). However, the guardian newspaper suggests that subsidies for the fossil fuel industry were around $5.3 trillion in 2015. The problem is how to get that money used for renewables? We can’t just slice it off, though that would be nice. It would have to be weaned off as thousands of jobs are tied up with the money. The argument for a waltz is really powerful.

www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/01/

Nonetheless, some problems are more pressing and require immediate attention. “We are, it bears repeating, out of time.” (235) But ‘superhuman speed’ might not be possible. (69-70)Paul Mason Postcapitalism (250) using the IEA data that suggests we must cut CO2 emissions by 50% by the year 2050 and that is only possible if we arrest it by 2020. A very tall order! The game is afoot. Mason (262) makes this point:

“So we need to inject into the environment and social justice movements things that have for twenty-five years seemed the sole property of the right: willpower, confidence and design.”

People around the world are already aware of climate issues but there needs to be a concerted effort, a ‘superhuman’ push to bring coordination to a campaign. It’s called marketing; the wherewithal is out there it just needs wakening. There is no shortage of evidence:

Europe –

  • UK – London pollution levels breached for 79 days 2016 even though it has a charge £.
  • France – Paris is to introduce stickers for cars based on the age of the vehicle at €3.50 each
  • Germany – Stuttgart worse pollution in the country. Citizen groups taking the state to court. City to introduce ‘fine dust’ days.

America – A mountain of evidence! www.uk.reuters.com  June 2017 reports thousands of extra deaths annually. A study by Harvard School of Public Health states, “…this is not just a health issue, but a social equality issue as well.” Study by Qian Di et al. Other sites include cbsnews.com/news and Health.com and many more.

Drivers are prosecuted while the real criminals go free. The injustice of it all!

The material is available it comes down to focus, presentation and access. What is needed is a sponsor: an organisation, a newspaper, a charity or all three. Reaching out to the wealth of talent that is out there and a multitude of possible approaches can be taken.

 

Banksy

I’m always amazed looking out of the train window at the effort and sheer class of some of the graffiti. It needs to be harnessed. Likewise, the creative expertise of video makers utilizing their skills to get a positive message across. Add the array of other talent within social media working on a campaign. Of course there will be trolls and hackers out to mess it up. Some probably paid by the big boys to do exactly that.

Is it possible? Willpower! One possible script would be a competition of graffiti artists to submit their design by photograph having done their art on a 6 x 4 canvass. Not Trump Tower! The designs would be collated by the sponsor and the artists themselves would choose the winner. It would take a few months to complete but that’s exactly what is needed. It could generate a great deal of interest. A similar exercise can be employed for video makers. It’s about releasing the creative juices.

  1. Slogan writers; who knows what talent is out there. People might get involved just for the hell of it. Creating some weird and wonderful crap but they’re participating and having fun doing it.
  2. Pollution masks with the tag – end fossil fuel subsidies. People can make their own, groups, organisations etc. use an old scarf; put it on a pinny (apron). Have a fun time on social media. Have a facemask day, mask party, mask rally, fashion show, international day. It’s a policy of keeping the momentum. It’s about generating wider public awareness.
  3. Have a talent show of the worse and best song about pollution. Viewed online!
  4. Produce a cartoon or comic strip of 5 plates.
  5. Its E-Mail Day every 3 months send an email to your politician: end fossil fuel subsidies – make it happen or GO.

To local rags /national rags – Government are paying hitmen to bump us off –                   end fossil fuel subsidies.

The winners of graffiti, video caption, and slogan, can have their entry made into an email postcard that can be downloaded and sent to…..

  1. Recycling, already up and running but still a good avenue to increase awareness. ALL packaging must be recyclable!!!

Release the juices, let the vats flow! Be ambitious, be confident and release the creative powers of the people.

Generate the scale of numbers, and politicians will cause a rush on toilet paper! Let the ‘powers that be’ try to spoil the party.

 

Klein V Trump 2

It’s time to reflect.

Naomi Klein berates Trump for using the rage and despair of the people to get elected (27). The same can be said for almost any politician. If there is a flow in opinion they start to paddle in that direction to try to keep abreast of the current. Most politicians speak with a forked-tongue.

For decades the elite aided by their bovver boys have done whatever they deemed necessary to make a profit. This led to the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1999, which freed the money men to make honey in a desert. Thank you to the democrats!

The ‘left’ have either been acquiescent or asleep. Some were to be found hopping-mad at Davos screaming themselves hoarse. Anarchists wore their masks, not the superhero variety, to fight the class war. The poor, they struggled on trying to make ends meet.

A massive cash bonanza for the big boys was globalization. A nice big can of gloss was used to paint a picture of relieving poverty worldwide by taking jobs to the poorer regions. Yes, the number of recorded poor did drop but that was conditional on what a living wage was deemed to be: $1 or $2 a day. Workers in the west could not compete against cheap or slave labour.

Factories closed, tens of thousands were thrown out of work. Some districts began to look like ramshackle places and hope went whistling with the wind (27). However, the big boys made a killing. Globalization was neatly summed up by John J. Sweeney labour leader of the AFL-CIO 1955-2009:

“In the ‘Nike Economy’ there are no standards, no borders and no rules. Clearly, the global economy isn’t working for the workers in China and Indonesia and Burma anymore than it is for the workers here in the United States.”

www.azquotes.com/author/14360-John_J_Sweeney

The ‘left’? They were absorbed in their new quest; identity politics. The ‘left’/liberal’s had no reasoned argument to overcome the horrors of capitalism and so sought to stamp on the toes of the elite. Multiculturalism and Political Correctness were unleashed with some fanatical adherents rattling on every door locked or ajar. (91)

Note the words of Trevor Phillips, former head of the Commission for Racial Equality writing in the Daily Mail newspaper. (16/08/17)

My comrades on the Left flaunt their moral superiority. But many of them are the most racist and sexist of all.

 

Unfortunately, there was little consideration given to the bulk of the population in particular the poor. There are a horde of issues out there that directly affect millions of poor folks. To many people the sweeping changes of the liberal/left took on the role of a drill sergeant: Attention! About Turn! Forward – March! It proved a very divisive policy. Those who would not be regimented were castigated as bigots, Neanderthals and trash etc. The louder they were screamed at the more entrenched they became. Surprise!!!

‘Audite et alteram partem’.

Listen even to the other side

Cited by Ha-Joon Chang, Economics: the User’s Guide (458)

The poor were facing a barrage of economic woe: globalization, wage freezes, benefit cuts, the full bucket of austerity. On top of that they faced a tsunami of political dogma. Add to the mix their main source of information, the cheap tabloid press and you start to see where confusion nests.

Between a rock and a hard place ordinary Joe starts to shimmy towards the ones who seem to understand and who make good promises. It’s the WIIFM! What’s in it for me?

Throughout the world we have witnessed the movement of ordinary Joe, fed up to the back teeth with the establishment and hearing nothing but abuse from the liberal/left. America, France, the UK and in South America people are searching for direction.

Yes, people can regress at times of crisis (192) but what helps them get back some dignity is understanding and assistance. And yes, encouragement can be taken from ‘- explosions of utopian imagination’ (217) of the 60s and 70s, but.

The radicals of Chicago and Paris 1968 are silent now. The peaceniks and the make-love-not-war army of self-indulgence have all gone to the care home. Well, that’s how it seems. The huge movement in the UK, CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) failed. There are a whole tranche of organisations and committed folks willing to help but there is no unity of purpose. Initially (228)!

Let’s be clear, you cannot build a better society without the majority of the population in support. Crucially there has to be an acknowledgement of the significance of the WIIFM for ordinary Joe no matter his/her race. Anything that creates a barrier lessens the opportunity to advance change.

Trump surfed the waves like a seasoned pro (119) but what was the alternative? The Democratic Party snuffed that out! So it’s not about, “…being willing to engage in a battle of ideas-.” It is about proposing new alternatives, being open (243) and willing to discuss what makes some so angry. Perhaps you start from the basis that they are lost in a no-mans-land.

It was not the “…wealth-worshipping world view that created the backlash in the first place.” We have always had bling since the earliest of times. It was that most people were not engaged in political life. Many simply viewed it as distasteful. We need to reconnect!! Dogma is still dogma if you are being forced to accept it.

Therefore it is about the ‘injustice of it all’. (119) It’s about fairness and how it is perceived. My perception might be overshadowed by my politics.

Johnathan Wolff, Political Philosophy (85) in discussing Rousseau’s polity:

“…without rough equality of wealth, factions will form. This would not only cloud the judgement of the voters but perhaps create an obstacle to the existence of a general will; a policy equally in the interests of all voters.”                             

Drawbridge Brothers 4

Banksy

Diversity is a weak glue. Its purpose is to placate today’s society. It is based on a vision that suggests that society will not change. The basic premise is that of equal opportunity and a general respect for the rights of the individual, inclusiveness. Unfortunately, this brings diversity into conflict on various aspects of its tenets.

You must admit it is a lovely picture, well drawn and you can see why many are attracted to it. But it was drawn in charcoal, posted on the outside and it rained. The jolly old rain!

We can all agree with Ha-Joon Chang1 that “Equality of opportunity is the starting point for a fair society.” But and it is a big but, “However, it is equally unjust and inefficient to introduce affirmative action and begin to admit students of lower quality simply because they are black or from a deprived background.” From any angle we come back to the obvious conclusion that we are dealing with discrimination.

Is it ok to discriminate against a rich kid because their family has money and therefore his/her life chances are so much better? To which group should we lend our support – an underprivileged female or an underprivileged black person? Michael Sandel2 deals with this question expertly.

Sandel prompts us with a proposition that affirmative action is acceptable because it fulfils a ‘socially worthy aim’. That still leaves us with the problem of discrimination. The real question is why society needs affirmative action or diversity, what is the root cause? We are always skipping over the big question as though it is too big to solve. Stay clear a political volcano is about to erupt!

Professor Johnathan Wolff3 opines that affirmative action can be ‘patronizing and degrading, and, in the long term, may do more harm than good’. America has had a form of affirmative action since the mid-1940s. While a number of black and Hispanic people have gained from the initiative the vast majority are still on the bottom rung of life chances.

As Wolff points out, ‘…equal political rights are worth fighting for, but they are of little value if you are still treated unequally in day to day life.’ So, even democracy may not solve the problem. Representative democracy is subject to corruption and nepotism to mention but a few distractions.

Tony Blair came to power in the UK 1997 with a sound bite of ‘education, education, education’. Later his left-wing credentials were left shattered on the ground as he became more Thatcherite than Maggie.  We have to take a serious look at the power of the market over our lives to find a solution?

In South Africa, apartheid was shown the way to …. Off. However, the ordinary people are no better off financially or socially; they are free, but free to live in poverty. The ANC has not delivered!

We are constantly told that a strong and growing economy is the best way to ease the burden of poverty. It seems to be one of Theresa May’s favourite sayings and guess what, she’s wrong. The 2008 financial crash is testament enough. The market ruled and the people lost – big time.

Therefore does ‘trickle-down economics work? According to J Stiglitz4 the nations that adopted the Washington Consensus – the American way – strong growth everyone wins “…the poor have benefitted less from growth.” This is supported by Ha-Joon Chang1 “Trickle down does happen, but its impact is meagre if we leave it to the market.” Poverty is as widespread today as ever.

Therefore, the concept of diversity sounds good looks good but is wishy-washy. It is all things to all people. I’m sorry but that cannot be the way forward. We cannot allow certain sections of society to spew their intolerance for others as a belief. We cannot allow a minority group to dictate policy for the nation.

If we are to build an understanding that will last then we must accept that that will take time. We must talk not push, we must listen not railroad, and we must argue not fight. Remember inclusiveness! Let’s put it to music

The road is long

With many a winding turn

That leads us to who knows where

Who knows where

But I’m strong

Strong enough to carry him

He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

 

Songwriters

Bobby Scot, Bob Russell

Read more: Hollies – He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother Lyrics | MetroLyrics

 

1.       Ha-Joon Chang, 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About CAPITALISM (p210) (pp137-138)

2.       Michael Sandel, Justice (chap:7 pp167-183)

3.       Johnathan Wolff, Political Philosophy (p186 + p91)

4.       J Stiglitz, Globalization, (p79)

 

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

 

Populism: Let’s Celebrate?

 

Robber Barons

Robber Barons

Populism arises from the dissatisfaction of the people at the back end of the train. It’s a long train. We have all participated in the building of society therefore we should all share in the benefits. It is not a case of envy but of right. The popular vote is a warning salvo; a means to give a good shake to the elite and political class. Will the gruesome twosome listen or will the people have to push harder. Time will tell!

Decisions have to be taken by the political class as to how the river will meander. Politicians have to understand that the people want a decent life with as little hassle as is possible. They want more transparency from the state. They also want easy access, to what might be defined as everyday things. They want their children to have better prospects than they experience, therefore social mobility is crucial.

Moreover, the demands of the poor are not an attempt at robbery, nor is it about taxing the rich till they bleed. However, the wealthy may like to pay the full tax they should. And if the State has to come and get the tax, let there be stiff penalties. There is little thought at the moment of the guillotine being wheeled out but there is an anger borne of frustration of the daily grinding of the millwheel but having barely a crust to eat.

Populism is just one consequence of inequality. A whole economic argument has been written by J.E. Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality. He like others, Ha-Joon Chang* and Paul Krugman* have highlighted the growing disparity since the 1980s. As the latter states, “… the income of the typical family grew much less after 1980 than before”. While Chang and others suggest that inequality creates barriers to economic growth by restricting social mobility.*Chang, Economics: The User’s Guide (p320)

*Krugman, End This Depression NOW (p73)

child from the streetsBy not mobilizing the 80% who don’t get a fair shot at a top class education we fail, we fail because we don’t know what talent awaits discovery. We fail because many poorly educated end up in prison. We fail because we have failed to listen and failed to act.

 

The experience of the poor throughout the world has led to a mountain of distrust. Therefore an initial step for the political class is to give clear indications that this rift will be healed. I accept that this will be difficult for career politicians whose hand has never been far from the till. Such characters must be weeded out. Perhaps we need to think in terms of a fixed term for holding office, say 15 years after which they must stand down?

I can well understand why the ‘gruesome twosome’ have misgivings about populism. They may well concur with the view, “… while a wing of scholarship in political science contends that populist mass movements are irrational and introduce instability into the political process”. www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Populism

There may be a tad of logic in that opinion but only in that such ‘irrational’ behaviour and ‘instability’ upset the status quo. And if the status quo is upset what was the underlining cause? Obviously the system has gone skew-whiff. Who would have made it so? I suggest the ‘gruesome twosome’ ask the mirror. A question on the political bias of the writers also needs to be asked.

Notwithstanding, the wealthy may hide behind the notion of the ‘ideas man’ that as they thought of the idea or solution ergo they should reap their just dessert. However, in discussing such a scenario Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)* adds some thinking to that weak logic when suggesting a clearer view of events.

The scenario:

people need to get their goods from point A to point B so a businessman came up with the idea of a railway but before the businessman could stash the cash, Emerson restrains him by reminding him, “The human race has gone out before him, sunk the hills, filled the hollows, and bridged the rivers”. Ergo!

*Emerson Representative Men 1850 – published in English Critical Essays, Edmund D. Jones (ed:) p459

The Scam!

The term rip-off looms large in the thinking of the general populace. It seems that everywhere they look Fagan is in the shadows. Ben Goldacre, Bad Science (p208) illustrates this with an incidence in the pharmaceutical industry concerning SSRI drugs, an antidepressant. He tells us that the data from the trials of the drugs was purposely delayed, being issued much later than expected. When the trials were issued data that suggested that the drug might be dangerous was hidden deep in the blurb. Also buried was data that suggested it was no better than placebo.

Another fleecing example comes from an unusual source the crime novelist Michael Connelly.* The character Micky Haller explains to his daughter about the sheer number of foreclosures in the housing market as a result of the 2008 financial crisis:

“These lenders all want their money back and so some of them do bad things and some of them hire people to do bad things. They lie and cheat and they take away people’s houses without doing it fairly or under the law”.

*Connelly, The Fifth Witness (p65) Good read.

Hence, one might start to grasp the sense of betrayal building in the gut of thethHCBKO3M8 people. Unsurprisingly, many feel used and abused. These incidents in the pharmaceutical industry and the sub-prime scandal demonstrate a considerable degree of contempt by the wealthy against society.

Moreover, the propaganda or spin lays the weight of the blame on the people themselves or the most deprived sections of society. It’s all the fault of the workshy or those fiddling social security payments.

Thus there seems little room for engagement as the ‘gruesome twosome’ appear entrenched in their attitude. However, if contempt is allowed to fester the democratic route to righting wrongs may hit a serious buffer. The big boys who find themselves in the first class carriage need to reflect long and hard on the way forward, and find an avenue towards a just society. The answer is out there!

I will happily direct them to some good reading material. Bryan Magee, Popper (p78) highlights Karl Popper’s view of a good democracy, “… free institutions, especially those which enable the ruled to effectively criticize their rulers and to change them without bloodshed”.

Another philosopher Michael Sandel, Justice (p266) adds a crisp point, “Too great a gap between rich and poor undermines the solidarity that democratic citizenship requires”. Now that’s a piece of craftsmanship. In essence a better distribution of the wealth that is generated can help keep the peace.

The question is, can on old dog learn a new trick? Mitt Romney a presidential candidate in 2012 suggested that the poor suffer from ‘envy’. Chang (p318) Of course the people rejected him; little surprise there. Romney just doesn’t get it, perhaps an illustration from the consummate thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson might help to enlighten him and others of his ilk.

While discussing the genius of Shakespeare, Emerson explores the reality, “In point of fact, it appears that Shakespeare did owe debts in all directions,…”. He cites the contribution of Malone and others past and present. And as John Donne said much earlier, 1624 “No man is an island”.

Nonetheless, as evidence of their righteousness the wealthy cite the fact that the majority of economists believe in individualism of the libertarian (republican) belief. That a nation should be based economically as a minimalist state, that the state should not pass any policy without consulting all the people. The state did, the people elected Trump! Happy?!

Furthermore, the concept of individualism is so tempting; we like to think of ourselves as special. But if we can grasp the significance of what Ralph Waldo Emerson is saying then we can recognise that in the social environment (not biological) we do not stand alone but are reliant on many others.

This body of economists also put forward the idea that all consumers are rational shoppers. Poppycock! The argument that shoppers are rational stems from a badly constructed model. There are numerous restrictions and ploys which come into play concerning shopping:

  • Education level
  • Income level
  • The £/$ billions spent on advertising by all industry
  • Sales, special deals, Black Friday, January sales. Fashion

Anyone who looks at the annual fashion splurge has to admit that there’s nothing rational about shoppers. The extent of consumer debt aided by, the have plastic, will spend attitude. Businesses would have to be stupid to spend £/$ billions on advertising their goods if the shoppers could not be convinced to buy their product and not an alternative.

Many of the multinational businesses spend £/$ billions building a ‘brand’ name e.g. Nike – to convince the customer that their product is a sound buy.

Indeed, it is worrying that the ‘gruesome twosome’ and their acolytes suffer from a serious dose of groupthink. The problem with groupthink is that it is dangerous, and, so it has proved. Note what Dr Nicky Hayes* says about the condition, “… the consequences of groupthink can be disastrous”. Shall I mention the 2008 financial crisis again? Oops!  *Hayes Understand Psychology (p137)

 

th1b2fvzdtThere is a clear justification for harping on about the financial crisis (there I go again) because the same gang of economists advised governments to implement a package of measures we now call ‘austerity’. Another term for austerity is ‘CUT’! Millions of people’s lives have been affected. Youth unemployment is 25%+ in Spain, 40% in Italy, nearly 20% in France, eight years on. Eight years and people are still struggling to make ends meet.

The latter are the ‘jam’ guys but there’s nothing sweet about their troubles. This group of the population are ‘just about managing’ (JAM) to survive on their meagre income. Eight years on!

So forgive me if I have little time for these economists. Their concept of the minimalist state would have left the world in a diabolical mess following the crisis had it not been for government intervention. Francis Fukuyama* shoots from the hip when he states: “If the state did not control the richest and most powerful elites in society, the latter would appropriate and misuse the political system at everyone else’s expense”.Fukuyama Political Order and Political Decay (p56)

Governments have more to concern themselves with than an economic model. Thank goodness!

We have come a long way but not very far. If you read Robert Roberts* a sense of horror makes you ever so sad and at once angry at the extent of destitution in the UK 95 years ago. Tens of thousands of destitute souls where sent to live and work in the workhouses, a place, generally recognised as hell. It is difficult to get national figures because the poor were dealt with at the local level. *Roberts:  The Classic Slum

Today we see ourselves as more fortunate, there are no workhouses. However, destitution has not gone out of our lives. According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundationth6xovw9al there are an approximate 1.25 million destitute people in the country, 300,000 of which are children. The destitute are classified by certain measures: someone who can’t afford the basic essentials they need to eat, keep clean and stay warm and dry. www.jrf.org.uk/press/destitute-uk

 

Changes need to be made; the road to a just society cannot be allowed to rut for another 100 years! And the change must come from the elite and political class. It is incumbent upon them to show willing and to deliver in the short and long term. Let their bedtime reading include all those mentioned in this text. The philosophy of an Open Society by Karl Popper might be a good place to start, followed by Justice by Michael Sandel.

Without doubt populism can prove to be a very positive thing to have happened. We can stop, think, and reflect. We can celebrate this opportunity to get back on track – 1950s style when people felt they had a good life. What was termed the golden age. We can move forward from this juncture more determined, more realistic, more in tune with what makes a just system work. We can employ greater participation and have greater transparency. We can use our nous.