Driven Mad

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Two guys in the USA looking at car emission issues were puzzled as to why American cars waltzed through the tougher emission testing whereas the European cars had difficulty. They decided to carry out a number of tests to see if they could come up with an easy solution, and to prove that cleaner cars could be efficient and still retain their power. They tested Volkswagen vehicles. The storm began!

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/road-and-rail-transport/11883343/

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen­_emissions_scandal

The exposé of Volkswagen over the emissions from their diesel cars has led to a bonanza of enquiries about emissions.  We are all now aware that we have been systematically lied to for decades by the automobile industry.

An examination of the testing techniques employed to determine the degree of emissions by Which?  consumer group has revealed a devastating picture of deceit by all the leading manufacturers. The extent of the deception is quite staggering when laid adjacent to the number of deaths associated with the pollution from cars.

Incredibly, 97% of all diesel cars give out nitrogen oxide (NOx) a highly toxic substance. The Which? sponsored tests by Emissions Analytics (EA) under the auspices of Imperial College London (ICL) has burst the protective bubble around the manufacturers. Which? describes the previous lab-tests as, ‘so seriously flawed they’re meaningless’. www.theguardian.com  January 2016.

Another dynamic of testing is that in colder conditions the emissions become worse, e.g. below 18C. A mechanism in the engine closes down which in turn facilitates more miles per gallon (mpg) but at the expense of greater toxicity. Obviously the manufacturer will highlight the better mpg and say nothing about the toxic emissions. Beware marketing!! Professor Ricardo Martinez-Botas of the ICL was taken aback and ‘shocked’ by the findings.  Daily Mail 23/06/2016

The Guardian further reports that by 2020 London will introduce an ultra-low emission zone.

Q? Why ultra-low, why not a definitive NO! Why wait until 2020?

Both car producers and politicians have been aware of the adverse effects of NOx and yet we wait to take action. The technology exists to produce cars of nil NOx emissions!! Note the words of Sir Malcolm Green professor of respiratory medicine when he says that such pollution is ‘shortening people’s lives’.

We may never know the full extent of the death rate from car pollution or how badly it affects asthma sufferers. Particulates from diesel cars are the deadliest form of air pollution and can easily trigger an attack of asthma. We know it brings on emphysema and bronchitis but what else.

  • The number of diesel cars in UK has risen from 1.6million 1994 – 12 million to date.

thE0TWUDA5The death toll is frighteningly high. The Mail online January 2016 suggests a figure of 30,000 annually with 23,500 directly related to diesel cars. The Guardian 2014 gave figures of 42,000 with 29,000 associated.

  •   NOx levels in UK are ‘far above safe levels for human health’. Mail online
  • NOx is at illegally high levels in several British cities. Guardian April 2016

Q?  Why have our politicians allowed this travesty to continue?

The answer may surprise you. Since 1993 the EU has introduced directives (E) to mitigate the pollution. In 2005 E5 was passed, in 2015 we had E6, therefore as far as the politicians are concerned the car industry has been pushed decidedly in the right direction. Hurrah? NO!

  • Those suffering from the effects of the pollution are not dancing in the street.

Taking the sum of 30,000 deaths per annum in UK, add some 40,000 from France and then the rest of Europe and we have well over 100,000 deaths due to exhaust pollution. One hundred thousand + deaths per year! If these souls were war dead, major ceremonies would have been held, plaques would have been placed in various venues and bronze statues raised in honour of our dead. But hey, most deaths are just a scattering of ordinary Joe’s.

thIQB7HPADA staggering death tally and the silence of our politicians’ hammers home a truth, a terrible truth – profit before people. As the death toll rises the EU is set to permit double the official limit of toxic emissions until 2021 and at 50% above thereafter. (Guardian) These targets I can only assume are based on the lab-tests so discredited by Which?.

Our leaders may suggest that their rationale is governed on the available science.

  • They encouraged people to buy diesel.
  • They are allowing the continuation of the pollution, beyond 2021.
  • We have the technology to build better engines. Now!
  • Since 1993 they have had knowledge of the cause and effect of car pollution.
  • The death toll is rising.
  • The number of cars on our roads will continue to increase. Pollution? Dah!

Roads

Roads go on

While we forget, and are

Forgotten like a star

That shoots and is gone.

Edward Thomas 1878 – 1917

The failure to insist on the use of better technology is an act of disdainful arrogance by the parties, the manufacturers and the politicians. The only conclusion to be drawn is that they are in cahoots. That our politicians skewed the advantage to industry is a surreptitious abrogation of their elected responsibility. It illustrates in graphic detail their utter contempt for the concept of democracy.

Q? What was the industry’s motivation? Profit!

Q? Will it ever end? Volkswagen is to pay $15 billion in compensation to USA drivers. Is this the necessary sting in the tail?

Do some good…..Join Robin Hood.

The Common Good and Trade Unions.

Europe is in the midst of an economic and social crisis, deepened by the migrant situation. At times like these we all tend to look at our own basket of goods and become a little self-oriented. However, throughout the ages, pioneers, our conscience, have tried to steer us in the direction of a better society. A society that does respect the right of the individual within a community made up of active and participatory citizens. And a goal of working towards a society that gives prominence to the notion of the common good.

This is an area were the Trade Union (TU) movement could take the lead. It has the resources and the organisation to have an immediate impact.

To speak of the common good is to open a can of worms for several reasons. Some philosophers will immediately jump up and scream of Utilitarianism (what’s best for the majority). Other politically minded servants of the present establishment will merely shout ‘bunkum’! Loudly, of course! Others on the left in politics will nod and add their wisdom; ‘good luck with that’. Those on the far left will raise their banner and advise; ‘call for revolution’!

Without doubt it is a tall order and needs a unity of purpose that has dissipated over the last few decades. Once there was a definite class aspect to politics but now it is much more diverse with ‘identity politics’ Fukuyama (p438) a whole host of interest groups pursuing their own campaign. In so doing the opposition to right-wing government’s has weakened considerably.

The poor have no champion. Once it was the Trade Union movement and then the Labour Party but both have been weakened over the past decades. To some the Labour party has lost its soul as it searched for credibility from the business class. The TU’s have never quite recovered from the Winter of Discontent of 1979 and the years of Thatcherism.

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_of_Discontent

Identity politics is a gift of huge magnitude for the 1 percent. As it disperses the opposition into small and at times, irrelevant bodies who shout a lot then drive home for a ready-made meal. Alternatively, they agree to meet at the out of town shopping centre (Mall) for a big mac. Here they castigate those who go to football matches, are at home watching TV or hanging around the betting shop all day. Meanwhile, other campaigners are demanding a halt to air pollution.

Individualism is the cry of the day by the horde that cannot see beyond the mirror. It is also the cry of the neo-liberal economists whose view is the predominant one and the voice of the austerity economic programme. These economists opine that we are all rational individuals that know what we want and act accordingly. But wait, pay heed to the wisdom of Ha-Joon Chang (p194):

“There cannot be such a thing as an individual without society”.

Contrast the ‘rational individual’ opinion with that of the philosopher Jürgen Habermas who suggests that the press feed us celebrity gossip and we behave as “mindless consumers”. The quest to be in fashion, regardless, that garment suits or not. The insistence, almost, of only wearing a designer item and having the name brazen across the garment. Leaves me in little doubt, I’m with Habermas!  www.britannica.com/biography/Jurgen-Habermas

Consider also the opinion of John Stuart Mill, “One whose desires and impulses are not his own, has no character, no more than a steam engine has no character.” Sandel (p51)

The Santa Clara University adopts a stance that the common good is unattainable because it’s in direct conflict with a pluralist society. And that a pluralist outlook is more in tune with our individualistic approach to life. Pluralism suggests that interest groups counter each other and thus create a political balance. I dealt with this issue on my previous post Europe: Moving Politically Right by quoting Francis Fukuyama that powerful interest groups with substantial funds seriously undermine democracy. www.scu.edu/ethics-resources/ethical-decision-making/the-common-good

Moreover, the common good and pluralism are not conflicting ideologies. One of the premier thinkers of pluralism Isaiah Berlin notes that we have to be thoughtful, listen carefully and sympathetically to the needs and wishes of others; therefore we are in the same ballpark. www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pluralism_(political_philosophy)

Furthermore, when we examine the philosophy of the neo-pluralists the political understanding is in tune with other thinkers, “the political agenda is biased towards corporate power”. This analysis gains wide support from Francis Fukuyama and others illustrates that we cannot rely solely on a balance of interests to aid democracy. www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pluralism_(political_theory)  In essence we need people power!

Jim Hightower is unequivocal: “The corporations don’t have to lobby the government any more. They are the government.” Chang (p172)

The Workers Struggle

The demise of class politics makes it more difficult, in some ways to create the environment to promote the common good. The sheer number of diverse groups with their niche political views means it’s harder to find common ground. Nonetheless, I believe it can be achieved, the philosopher John Rawls maintains that we can find, “certain general conditions that are [   ] equally to everyone’s advantage”. Sandel (p143) My list would be:

  • Free health care. An end to the slicing down of the NHS.
  • Clean Air Act. An approximate 40,000 deaths annually in UK.
  • A focus on good education for ALL.
  • Municipal community services, e.g. sports centres, swimming pools etc. What Michael Sandel (p243) refers to as the ‘infrastructure of civic life’.

This leads nicely onto the view of Karl Popper, as cited by Bryan Magee (p80)

“We must demand that unrestrained capitalism give way to economic interventionism”.

A view that finds resonance with Noam Chomsky, (p217) “…it’s ridiculous to talk about freedom in a society dominated by huge corporations”.

Building a powerful foundation for the common good would be a long term project. However, the TU movement has the wherewithal to be the standard bearer which can raise the issue of the common good, not as a political crusade but as an essential part of everyday life.

To achieve this end the TU’s would have to stand independent of the Labour Party on this specific agenda to reach as wide an audience as possible. The Labour party has not done much for the working class since 1945. The economy and what’s best for business has dominated their thinking.

A Potted History

Back in 1969 the then Prime Minister (PM) Harold Wilson tried to introduce laws to limit TU activity and hold wages down – In Place of Strife. Ironically, his plans were scuppered by James Callaghan, who ten years later would attempt something very similar when he broke the 1974 Social Contract agreement which lead to the Winter of Discontent 1979.

It proved to be a disaster for the Labour Party. Callaghan had made several errors of judgment which lead to the electoral victory of Margaret Thatcher.

Eighteen years later, and with most of the gains of 1945 privatized (A beautifully orchestrated hoodwink of the populace). In came Tony Blair, and the expectation, was that he would rescind the anti-union laws that had been enacted by Thatcher’s governments. Not a finger lifted!

www.libcom.org/history/1978-1979-winter-of-discontent

www.news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7598366.stm

The poor have gained very little from the Labour Party except for numerous platitudes. The TU’s also stand bereft, constrained by the power of the law while successive governments have allowed unrestrained capitalism. More privatization, welfare cuts and some 800,000 + zero hours contracts; the poor continue to pay for the banking crisis.

Here then, is a new recruitment drive for the TU’s; a fight for the common good. A simple programme that few could disagree with but with the powerful message that we should all gain from the wealth created. The TU’s are in a strong position to organise local and national meetings to promote the single agenda.

thVWJRZYWDHowever, if I were a member of the 1% I would not be too worried as too many high ranking Union officials are in a position to declare, ‘I’m alright Jack’. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) are trapped in their mindset, “the way we help business” in its opening blurb. The very strong Stalinist tendencies of the Left in politics suggest that they would want to dictate policy as viewed from their particular bent. www.tuc.org.uk

I revert back to Popper to put them in the picture:

“The fact that change is never going to stop renders the very notion of a blueprint for a good society nonsensical,” Magee (p116).

This then is the prime reason we cannot have a list of demands to suit every possible group with a political agenda. Moreover, it should not develop into a left V right shoot out at the OK corral. The common good is for the benefit of the community as a whole e.g. clean air!

“The environment is mine,” said the individual.

“And mine!” said another.

“Ours,” said their sister. It’s time we bound hands.

But first let us begin our campaign with an online petition whereby those who sign up, agree, that they will only vote for the political party that commits to enforcing the policy in the next parliament.

Colour doesn’t matter, policy does!   Power is the peoples.

Do some good – join Robin Hood.

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

Noam Chomsky     How the World Works.

Bryan Magee         Popper.

Michael Sandel      Justice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Europe: Moving Politically Right?

  • Our politicians

There are fears that Europe is moving inextricably to the right in politics. The numbers voting for the parties of the right has grown. Nationalism and an increase in xenophobic

If only it was about food waste.

attacks have prompted scaremongering.  The parties of the left in politics are equally loud in protest and actions. The increase of extremism can be laid squarely at the door of politicians; they will not admit it but their poor management has brought us to this juncture.

America is also witnessing a political phenomenon. And this is where our story begins. The decision of the American administrations of Reagan, Bush and Clinton to deregulate the financial system led us directly to the banking crisis of 2008. The repeal of the 1933 Glass – Steagall Act which brought regulation to the banking sector after the great crash of 1929, lead the way. Suzanne McGee (p269). The crisis of 2008 still has us in the doldrums. Thank-you cowboy Ron!

In Europe the crisis was handled badly, made worse by our political leaders. Joseph Stiglitz (pxxv) Greece had been allowed to spend aided by Goldman Sachs bank until the bubble burst. The EU refused to bail Greece out and instead insisted that the country go cap in hand to the IMF. A political farce ensued, Dani Rodrik (p218). Panic engulfed the EU caused by political ineptitude particularly on the part of Germany.

Greece was forced to pass laws on cutting its health service, on trade union rights including collective bargaining and to cut the minimum wage to secure a bail out. Austerity, austerity the catchphrase of the neo-liberal economists had taken hold. Prune back, was the rallying call, in order to pay your debts. Believing in the ‘confidence fairy’, Paul Krugman (p200) e.g. make the markets believe that you are not being profligate and they will continue to invest. Mm, the very people who caused the crash!

Prune, hack, slice; wages, jobs, the welfare state. Prune, hack, slice, the debt man’s at the gate. That was the basic spin from our politicians. Somehow the economic mire we found ourselves in was the fault of the workers and the poor. A telling analysis of the absurdity of such a political logic is given by Krugman (p200)

“The trouble with the current situation, [2012] insisting on perpetuating suffering [austerity] isn’t the grown-up, mature thing to do. It’s both childish (…) and destructive”.

We can add the voice of Stiglitz (p76) to that analysis:

“The irony is that in the crisis that finance brings about, workers and small businesses bear the brunt of the costs”.

Income inequality has been rising since the 1980s. Ha-Joon Chang (p333). The trend is acknowledged by many economists. The trend was marked in the USA and UK who have followed the neo-liberal economic school of thinking — austerity. Thus over a sustained period ordinary people have witnessed a decline in their living standards and the failure of politicians to protect their well-being.

Dissatisfaction has been brewing, the kettle is not yet boiled, but. Wages depressed, jobs scarce at the lower end of the market, the economic crisis not yet resolved, forced cultural change with growing concerns over migration / immigration. A very large section of society is concerned by the onslaught of politically correct doctrine and worry about their culture and way of life. The negative response of politicians has many feeling that their voice is irrelevant.

In the midst of this cacophony the politicians in the UK gave themselves a pay rise. The gulf has just got wider!

The sustained barrage of political correct idioms to be learned coupled by the demeaning labels: racist, bigot, NIMBY, old and backward etc. etc. etc. leaves many feeling they are being brainwashed by New Stalinists. Having to mind your P’s and Q’s every time you speak, support their interpretation of events. Perception is everything!

A note of caution from Howard Gardner the eminent Harvard psychologist (p51);

“…emotion is often a more powerful factor in influencing our behaviour than logic”. He suggests that there are: “…more neural connections going from the limbic emotional centre to the intellectual cortex”.

With the establishment of Sharia courts in the UK and the seemingly endless mention of the rights of minorities tends to suggest that the needs of the majority have already been met. This does nothing to broker acceptance or respect. Frustration and anger builds!

On and on the assault comes with an absence of someone to turn too. No political outlet because all the recognised parties are seen to be in cahoots. There is tiredness with interest groups hogging the limelight and achieving their demands. Politicians have forgotten the wisdom of Edmund Burke: cited in Charles Handy (p103)

“ Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring with their importunate clink, while thousands of cattle, repose beneath the shadow of the British oak, chew the cud and are silent, pray do not imagine that those who make the noise are the only inhabitants of the field,…”

The real danger of the present situation is that the dissatisfaction with the establishment becomes ingrained. It could make a good Shakespearian play:         Macbeth Act 1V sc.1

“Double, double toil and trouble,

Fire, burn; and, cauldron, bubble.

No surprise that the electorate, middle-left and middle-right scour the horizon for an escape route. The far-right too has quickly recognised an avenue to explore and found many alienated folk standing on the roadside.

 Germany            –              NPD (neo-Nazi???)

France                  –              National Front

Austria                  –              Freedom Party

Netherlands       –              Dutch People’s Party

Sweden              –              Sweden Democrats

Finland                 –              Finns

The list could go on but the point is made.

Much of the anger at this time is generated by the migrant crisis and once again political ineptitude rears its ugly head. However, many of the parties of the far-right are also opposed to the EU – the mammoth without ears. Some of these hard-line groups have secured up to 30% of the popular vote and together hold an approximately 33% of the seats in the European Parliament. Amazing!

www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/05/26/

The crucial point here is that they don’t want to reform the EU. They want to kill it off.

In the UK voters floundered in various directions, some finding solace with Ukip, but the electoral system (first past the post) dented their enthusiasm; 4 million votes but no parliamentary seats. Others took revenge on the Liberal and Labour parties leaving the Tories with a strong hand.

In the USA the republican right are being trounced by Trump, whilst the democrats have found an alternative voice in Bernie Sanders. Why?

The story unfolds with a Sky news correspondent Tuesday March 1 2016. A question of why a woman was voting for Bernie Sanders brought an illuminating response: she said it was not about Bernie but the doors his campaign opened to a wider discussion of many important topics.

Here an articulate, grey hair, voice of reason is seeking an explanation for her feeling of alienation from political life. Her voice is echoed in multiplies of millions around the globe. For decades the political class has ambled on impervious to ordinary folk and disparaging of their concerns. They had been emboldened by the lack of an opposition.

Floundering in the political mire, ordinary Joe felt powerless. Their only source of power they believed was their vote, but all the recognised parties were proving to be equally crap. Along came the extremes and sat down beside them and brushed their powerlessness away.

I can hear echoes of Caliban:      The Tempest   scene 2 187 – 195

No more dams I’ll make for fish,

Nor fetch in firing

At requiring,

Nor scrape trenchering, nor wash a dish.

‘Ban, ‘Ban, Ca—Caliban

Has a new master. Get a new man!

Freedom, high day! High day, freedom! Freedom, high day, freedom!

 

It seems that the political class are akin to an oil tanker, nice and steady when crossing the Atlantic Ocean but slow and in need of a lot of space when it has to turn. It has to turn.

Are we adrift?

Not quite but we are getting there. There is a growing feeling of unfairness out there in the world. Fairness is a powerful psychological trait. It is so strong that it can dictate people’s thinking, tied, perhaps rigidly, to a person’s emotion.

There is a sense of tiredness with the grab society; the, me, me, me philosophy of some. And with the flashy, look at my wealth occultists.

Charles Handy (p198) puts it well, “…it is ultimately not tolerable for the many poor to live beside the fewer rich”. Jealousy? No, disgust! During the so called ‘Golden Age’ of the 50s, 60s, 70s, everyone seemed to share in the prosperity created. Since the 80s times have changed.

The trickle-down effect

Many of the working class accepted the ‘spin’ of government that by cutting taxes for the rich this money would be used to create more employment hence the new wealth would ‘trickle down’. A similar ‘spin’ is given to corporate tax reductions. This view was entrenched until, “…in the face of considerable evidence that it is untrue”. Fukuyama (p465) Further evidence can be found in: Chang (p451), Stiglitz (pp 8, 78), Rodrik (p165) and Krugman (p84).

Quid pro quo

The rich and our politicians appear more focussed on feathering their own nests than being responsible leaders. The concept of clientelism: you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours, is very much alive in the corridors of power.

In the UK members of parliament (MPs) were able to employ their wife and offspring at the expense of the tax payer. The expenses scandal of recent years is still haunting some of them. Others have been caught doing dodgy deals.

In America clientelism is all but a business whereby interest groups give generously to a politician’s campaign for election and in return gain influence in the corridors of power. Fukuyama (p87) suggests it undermines democracy because it “…strengthens existing elites and blocks democratic accountability”.

Therefore we can see why the people feel alienated from the political system. The feeling of powerlessness is not a fleeting will-o-the-wisp experience. As Ha-Joon Chang (p106) points out, austerity governments in the Netherlands, France, and Greece were voted out in 2012 followed by Italy in 2013. It made no difference; the austerity package of the EU was nonetheless imposed.

Meanwhile, in the UK the conservative government is busy cutting away at areas of the state in the name of efficiency. Slice by slice it is cutting into the National Health Service (NHS).

Perhaps politicians should take note of the wisdom of Fukuyama (p532)

“When governments cease being accountable, they invite passive noncompliance, protest, violence, and in extreme cases, revolution”.

Abuse of power

A further hard hitting policy is the raising of the retirement age in the UK. Women had their retirement age raised from 60 to 65 in line with men. Now everyone has to put in several more years before they can escape the workhouse. The ‘spin’ by the government is that as a result of people living longer the pension bill will be much higher and needs to be offset by people working for longer.

Some women will have had their work life extended by up to 10 years. How much is the government saving by that little manoeuver??

The true implication is that successive governments have sanctimoniously mismanaged the economy. For 50 years many have paid income tax and national insurance tax and god knows how many other taxes and now when retirement looms they are a burden. Shame!!

This is an abuse of power as it leaves large numbers of people feeling anxiety and guilt. It only affects the workers as the better off have the means and can decide when they want to retire. No such luxury for the less well off.

Thus we have the rise of the Tea Party in America and Donald Trump viewed as a saviour. In Europe the rise of the far-right and extreme left. In the UK we have Ukip on the centre right whilst the far-left are still sucking their dummies and waiting for the resurrection of Trotsky.

A few more words of wisdom for our shamelessly needy politicians – from the 17th century

“…government should benefit the people, not those in power”. Wang Fuzhi       www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wang_Fuzhi

Karl Popper adds his voice: we need an open society; “…in which the political institutions can be changed by the governed”.

Do some good join Robin Hood!

 

Suzanne McGee                               Chasing Goldman Sachs

Joseph Stiglitz                    The Price of Inequality

Dani Rodrik                         The Globalization Paradox

Paul Krugman                    End This Depression Now

Howard Gardener           Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice

Ha-Joon Chang                  Economics: The User’s Guide

Charles Handy                   The Hungry Spirit

Francis Fukuyama            Political Order and Political Decay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Migrants 2: In or Out?

When the bubbles of emotion burst or drift in the knowing wind, when the hardship of winter comes along, reality bites. In some places it will bite very hard, very hard. The migration to Europe is a human tragedy, as is any war, but rends the heart. Some want to reach out while others are fearful of what the migrants bring.

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Fear may not be rational but then neither is love. Emotion assists us in every decision thus we may never be rational or as rational as we would judge ourselves.

A big decision on the migrants has to be made and that decision concerns the cost we thMC31RS4Vare willing to bear. To make that decision we need facts but the government are not forthcoming with the information that would help us make a rational decision. And so, we are trapped in an emotional whirlwind, that’s where we are when making life changing decisions.

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Can we trust ourselves when in a high emotional state to make the right decision? If only government were like caring parents and sat us down to explain the facts of life. The cost of infrastructure, of housing, 240,000 new homes each year, for how many years (?) and where would we build them.

www.migrationwatchuk.org/key-topics-housing.php

How many new towns are we prepared to tolerate?  How many new roads shall we build and the consequential increase in cars and pollution and the taxes to pay for it all? The impact on the Green Belt and the countryside generally, shall we follow one emotion and build or the other and maintain. Decisions are at every turn but we cannot find rational answers without sound knowledge.

Politicians talk about the needs of the country, in reality their first concern is to be re-elected. Their second is to follow their emotional attachment which is their political bias. Opposition parties look for attack lines. Neither work for the benefit of the ordinary people. Our politicians are busy with political point scoring. Ping-pong, ping-pong!

Our government won’t hold a discussion with us because they are scared of what we may say or demand. Instead they let the media bombard us with their brand of bias. We are left bewildered as to what to do. The extreme left and extreme right politically scream at each other to see who can score the highest decibel count. Meanwhile, those of us who have long left the school playground are wandering nowhere fast, through a lack of knowledge.

Hence we witness actions that concern us:

  • Counter demonstrations
  • Over 200 attacks on asylum seekers, Germany. Partners in government with Angela Merkel openly critical   . www.nyt/2015/09/08
  • Hungary to imprison illegals – up to 3 years.
  • Russia sending more weapons to Assad regime in Syria.

Some people may criticise the nations of; Poland, Hungary, Slovakia etc. for their stance on the migrant dilemma. However, they may have some justification according to Professor Abdur Chowdhury,

“…some countries simply can’t step up in any meaningful way”,

experiencing 0% economic growth and could suffer if too much is needed for migrants.  www.marketplace.org/topics/world/cost-misery-migrant-europe

However, a number of people simply see the politics and jump head first in with accusations. Politics creates blind spots in our psyche.

Is fear a justified feeling in the midst of such an upheaval? It may depend on how you are connected to your community and your outlook on many of the points raised. Are house prices rising out of your reach?

  • Migrant population: 33.5 million people born outside the EU 28 living in EU as of 1 January 2014.
  • Number getting citizenship in EU in 2013 was 984,800 a 20% increase on 2012.  www.ec.europa.eu/eurostat

Panic has begun to creep in. The government of Denmark has taken out adverts in Lebanese newspapers to dissuade migrants.  The Sweden Democrats, (right-wing) are now ahead of the two leading parties in opinion polls. In Austria the right-wing Freedom Party has made big gains. NY Times

What of those who advocate open borders? It would appear that they have no concerns but does that mean they have not thought it through. Should they be demonstrating outside the Russian embassy demanding an end to arm sales to Syria? Be stood outside the embassy of Turkey demanding an end to profiteering at migrants’ expense.

Emotion is a powerful determinant but can often be erratic and short lived. Talking about the support for the migrants in Austria the columnist Hoffmann-Ostenhof from the centre-left newspaper Profil writes, “These feeling are transitory, of course, but they won’t fade without leaving some trace”. NY Times

Hoffmann-Ostenhof’s belief that a positive emotion harbours hope is tempered by his rational understanding of how fickle people are? Sadly peoples’ attention will last as long as the media coverage. Me-ism blocks long-term outlook!

The world cannot grow until man learns how to.

 

 

Migrant Crisis.

th5ME3YUAOThe migrant crisis is bringing anxiety to the fore in the EU, notably: Greece, Italy, Austria and Hungary, and other former eastern bloc nations. Such is the scale of the exodus and the political pressure from within these nations that something has to give. Is Europe sinking into its own mire?

An estimated one million have left their homelands and are making their way to Europe. It is a terrifying number made worse by the prospect that several thousand more will join this meandering river of hope.

The economics of the numbers is but one problem that has an immediate impact. However, the long-term costs both economic and social may have a greater effect. Housing, schooling and health which must include sewage, need considerable planning. The infrastructure, especially the road network may need substantial updating. More cars/lorries = more headaches =more pollution.

Pollution with the build-up of diesel fumes. See, Diesel Vehicles: Killer in our Midst. An approximate 9,000 deaths in London are directly associated with pollution. Sadiq KhanthE0TWUDA5 Moreover, frustration is mounting in Southern Britain with the number of hold ups, crashes etc. on the main routes.

The assimilation into the community and workforce and the scale of jobs required to compliment the number of migrants will generate a huge social/economic cost. It is already known that it has a consequential effect on wages, on welfare, and on the level and make up of those on the dole.

Youth unemployment is alarming high in Spain, Greece, Italy and more generally.  Such unemployment cannot be ignored as it could stimulate radical consequences down the line. Politicians need to remember above all else that every action has a reaction.

A Syrian migrant family enters Hungary at the border with Serbia near Roszke, Hungary August 28, 2015. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

A Syrian migrant family enters Hungary at the border with Serbia near Roszke, Hungary August 28, 2015. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

Inviting the migrants is a very human reaction and it is good to see that we have not lost our humanity. However, many more anxious souls are watching, worried by the influx for a myriad of reasons. Opposition parties will be cheering with each gulp of beer; they know there will be trouble ahead. Their argument will find a receptive ear in pubs and the workplace.

Germany has opened its borders and has called upon the rest of Europe to follow suit. It is suggested that Germany will take 800,000 this year alone, perhaps up to 1million and 500,000 next year. Germany already has a Muslim population of some four (4) million. www.my.telegraph.co.uk         The scale of such figures has two direct consequences:

  • They cause grave misgivings among large sections of the indigenous population.
  • They stimulate more movement. News of a welcome will spread as quick as mouths can chatter and phones can ping.

The media have put the crisis front and centre in an avalanche of coverage which has brought an emotional screech of humanity, humanity! However, there are a host of other issues, inhumane, happening now, but it’s not in the peoples’ face and so there is silence.

A silence more deafening, more barbaric because it suffers from an old cliché – out of sight out of mind, and so child abuse , slavery, trafficking continue. As those who screech humanity wander back into the microcosm that is their life; chuffed with their emotional outburst, suffering grows.

Germany, France the UK have a large immigrant population and they are not a happy bunch. They have tended to congregate in particular areas and towns. Integration has not worked. Adding to the dilemma will not ease but rather exacerbate the situation.

Furthermore, the tension in Europe is growing. Juncker’s notion of compulsory quotas has not gone down well: Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland and Rumania are not keen. Britain, Ireland and Denmark have an opt out clause. The Schengen agreement is in tatters. The idea that France, Germany and Spain should take 60% of migrants from Italy, Greece and Hungary will meet opposition as the numbers increase. www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34193568

Opinion polls in several countries point to great hesitation on the part of the indigenous population. The second largest political party in Finland have grave reservations. Bbc.co.uk

  • France: a poll found 55% didn’t want more migrants.
  • Germany: dozens of attacks on migrant centres.
  • Switzerland: a poll found 45% want their borders closed.
  • Denmark: has closed railway links to Germany.
  • Some towns and cities in Italy have refused to house migrants. www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_migrant_crisis

www.cnbc.com/2015/09/08/how-europeans-have-reacted-tomigrant-crisis.htlm

The EU had 626,000 asylum applications in 2014; it will be well over one million this year. The question of numbers will start to dominate thinking. En.wikipedia.org

Turkey is reputed to hold 1.9 million migrants. However, around 3,000 are sailing to Lesbos in Greece daily. How many will come? After-all the welcome mat has been dusted and placed at Europe’s doorstep.

  1. None of the richest Gulf States have taken any, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain. Why not? www.npr.org/2015/09/08
th37W5KMYL

The precedent has been set, wherever there is conflict people are free to come to Europe. If you open it, they will come. People will come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nationalism: A Child’s Philosophy?

nationalism_cartoon[1]“Nationalism is an infantile disease…It is the measles of mankind”. Einstein

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nationalism

 

Measles: find out the latest at: www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Measles/treatment.aspx

Was Einstein’s view blurred by the atrocities of the Nazis on the Jews and others? He lived in a period of great barbarity that utilized nationalism to forward its cause. Hitler’s ally Mussolini did likewise. Several leaders past and present have played a similar game. Is it just a tool used by leaders to mobilize their people to march, not knowing to where or what?

Some will say it’s the love of their country. But they don’t love a country and, there are people in the country they don’t know and others they don’t like. The neighbour for one! It’s pride but where does the pride emanate from? Is it natural or instilled? The answer is obviously instilled and that means we have been manipulated into a belief that we may not have otherwise endorsed.

“Contrary to popular and even scholarly belief, nationalism does not have any deep roots in the human psyche”. Ernest Gellner

www.newlearningonline.com/literacies/chapter-1/gellner-on-the-logic-of-nationalism

Nationalism for many writers was akin to the slogan ‘workers of the world unite’, long before Marx coined the phrase. It was driven by the desire to free the masses from their servitude. The breaking down of feudalism and the growing knowledge that there was life beyond the village prompted the growth of nationalism.

There seems to be a consensus, a ‘modernist’ view that the emphasis was based on the rights of the individual and, “the human community as above all national divisions”. www.britannica.com/topic/nationalism

Exemplified by the French nationalism as expressed through, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, that such expression was a proclamation for all people not one distinct group. Hence Britannica.com can state, “Nationalism is a modern movement”.

Change was the spring as society moved from the ‘mechanical solidarity’ to the ‘organic solidarity’ as Emile Durkheim has expressed it. It was a move away from a feudal society to a capitalist system of production. In its early gabardine it looked to the wider community and not an ethnic one.

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nationalism

Philosopher, A.C. Grayling describes nations as ‘artificial constructs’, “their boundaries drawn in the blood of past wars”. Note the powerful point made in britannica.com “The nation state was non-existent during the greater part of history”. 

Furthermore Grayling reminds us that, “…there is no country on earth which is not home to more than one different but usually coexisting culture”.

It is obvious that Grayling has no love of nationalism as he says it’s ‘inherently divisive’, ‘potentially oppressive’, and allows manipulation and thus control of the masses.

This view gains support elsewhere, “…but the very nature of nationalism requires that boundaries are drawn”. www.legacy.fordham.edu

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Max Weber the eminent sociologist points out that ‘powerful charismatic’ leaders used nationalism to establish their power. Wikipedia.org. This movement of nationalism has brought us an understanding of the term that we all recognise from 20century history books and the kind that Grayling wants to berate.

Another great writer and thinker, George Orwell lambasts

Lead on!

Lead on!

the whole concept of nationalism. He states that those involved are “…power-hungry tempered by self-deception”. Wikipedia.org

His vociferous attack suggests that nationalism is akin to classifying people like insects. That it becomes an obsession that folks will defend even if proven wrong. Blind adherence?

Similar to the other great writers he denounces it as a ‘desire for power’. Moreover, Orwell retains some bile for Celtic nationalism which he portrays as having a ‘strong tinge of racialism’. www.orwell.ru

The problem with nationalism in our everyday understanding of its meaning is the mix of jingoism and propaganda. In the build up to war we are fed a daily diet of jingoism and propaganda as the media become xenophobic.

However, true nationalism can be found side-by-side with propaganda. In the work of the poet Rupert Brooke:

If I should die, think only this of me:

That there’s some corner of a foreign field

That is for ever England.

Contrast that with the later work of Hugh MacDiarmid:

Auld Moses took

A dry stick and

Instantly it

Floo’ered in his hand. (Flowered)

Pu’ Scotland up,

And wha can say

It winna bud

And blossom tae.

From: A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle. (Is there a clue in the title?)

These works give credibility to nationalism as they come from seemingly intellectual sources. Therefore nationalism does not differentiate on the bases of mental ability. It’s political!

The world cannot grow until men learn how to!

 

Faith Schools: A Broken Society.

brainwashed-dngg[1]Faith schools are the perpetuation of indoctrination and brainwashing, in essence the control of thinking. This is everything that should be abhorrent to anyone with a liberal mind. But we find that in the name of multiculturalism that liberal minds have abandoned logic so as to subscribe to the adverse dogma of political correctness.

The frenzy that surrounded political correctness is characteristic of a body that had come from the wilderness with the assuredness of divine right; and sought to impose the PC bible, without hesitation, on all. There was no thought of consequence and the pace of imposition gained momentum as acolytes joined the trend.

Of course faith schools have been with us for generations. They were never so much about bringing God to the people as to ensure that the people followed the rule of law. The church had realised that their future was tied to the masters of the day.

However, once the church became powerful it did not demand equality. No, the church ruled as an erstwhile Emperor using the fear of God and the threat of Armageddon to impose its will. The Catholic Church today is still issuing diktats.

Therefore the church was never about –make-love-not-war. It has always been about self-preservation.

In 2011 (there doesn’t seem to be more up to date data) there were 7,000 faith schools broken down thus:

  • 68% Church of England
  • 30% Catholic
  • 12 Muslim
  • 3  Sikh
  • 1  Hindu

A study by the Guardian newspaper in 2010 found social bias whereby lower class kids

No where to go.

No where to go.

were omitted and that faith based schools were increasingly becoming the preserve of the middle classes. Such that in 2013 a Fair Admissions Campaign was launched to demand that children be able to attend a school irrespective of faith.

The Observer newspaper June 2014 carried out a survey and found that 58% of people were against faith schools being funded by the government. This falls in line with other opinion:

“We consider the promotion and public funding of religious schools to be divisive and detrimental to social cohesion”. www.secularism.org.uk/faith-schools.html

The Independent newspaper 2014/12/31 held a story citing Mathew Taylor of the Social Integration Commission (SIC) suggesting that the government was obsessed with faith schools. The conclusion was that it, “breeds social and racial segregation”. Taylor was also quoted as suggesting that consequentially, “Britain’s society would be characterized by ‘ugly’ divisions”.

www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/

In March 2015 the Telegraph pulled information from a survey by the SIC of 4,300 people aged 13 – 80. One conclusion was that, “…teenagers emerged as less integrated than young adults”. This drew a further damning statement, “Multiculturalism has effectively gone into reverse”.

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/11457650

Faith schools by purpose teach intolerance. They promote their interpretation of the bible/Quran and thus by extension their God as the real one. Thus millions of needy souls are not following the word of God but a contrived version of the bible/Quran.

thVVX2B7D6Most people believe that the church is there to help the neediest and the poorest in our society. Yet it seems that the faith schools walk in the opposite direction. Isn’t it ironic?

“England’s faith schools are on average failing to mirror their local communities by shunning the poorest pupils in their area”.

www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2012/mar/05/faith-schools-admissions

Thus faith schools are condoning and therefore perpetuating the class system and religious division in the name of God. In the name of God, swallow your ambition and raise us all in the joy of humanity!

Moreover, once lost in a religious fervour one becomes intolerant of others. We are living in the midst of it today in the Middle East, India and Pakistan. The UK has had decades of hell in Northern Ireland where religious divide still dominates political dogma. Over the centuries religious wars have caused the deaths of millions.

A cross on every hill

A star, a marinet

So many graves to fill

O love, aren’t you tired yet?

Leonard Cohen, The Faith, from the album – Dear Heather

I don’t believe that God, (are you there mate?) would condone the actions of the church, any church. Men and their dictatorial tendencies are the true authors of fire and brimstone.preacher-angry[1]

The world cannot grow until men learn how to!