Water: Too Good to Waste!

thNG4Z4Y0DWe are nearing a crisis of our own making, water the most important element in our lives is draining away. Drip, drip, drip; land is drying, plants are dying. While 70% of the earth is covered by water only 3% is drinkable and of that an approximate 2% is ice. The ice of Antarctica and of the Arctic is showing increasing signs of melt which could devastate coastal areas. To add to the nightmare 50% of our wetlands have gone. This has a tremendous impact on wildlife.

The burden grows heavier with the knowledge that some two (2) million people die annually, mainly children, from diarrheal diseases.th7E749LQY

www.worldwildlife.org/threats/water-scarcity

The poorer regions of the developing world suffer the brunt of water shortage. Sub-thH8D57ZHVSahara Africa has enduring problems which show no signs of abating. The situation is made worse by, “Weak governments, corruption, mismanagement of resources, poor long-term investment and lack of environmental research…”. Conflict has made it difficult to make improvements; Ivory Coast, which split north & south four years ago. The on-going troubles which confront the nations of Darfur, Nigeria, Mali and Ethiopia conflict or famine here continues to wreak havoc. Surprisingly, Ethiopia is the most water abundant in the region.

www.cfr.org/world/water-stress-sub-saharan-africa/p11240

??? “Too often, where we need water we find guns” Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General

Overall, 25% of Africa’s population suffer from water stress. (www.cfr.org) Whereas, Ethiopia has sufficient water, the country of South Africa is one of the poorest in water terms. However, S. Africa has some 589 dams out of a total of 980 in the region. Here lies the key, S. Africa has the infrastructure and has better managed their resources and crucially has the means. We spend £/$ billions on aid in Africa and nothing seems from the outside to have improved.

Q? Is much of the charitable donation we make feeding war and corruption and not the people?

In Pakistan, the situation is reaching danger point. Population is increasing by three (3) million per year and the water table is falling which has led the World Bank to conclude that Pakistan, “…is already one of the most water stressed countries in the world”. Its neighbour India has a developing water crisis.

With population growing by 15 million annually and the water table falling all over the country the situation is becoming critical. Some districts have to have water trucked in. A major problem is the unregulated digging of irrigation wells of which there are an estimated twenty-one (21) million. With the water table falling and more wells being dug; how long before the government take control. www.theguardian.com

th6IKNYANAAlso, according to The Guardian, countries that have reached their water peak include: Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. In Saudi Arabia and Yemen it is understood that their water table is falling by six (6’) feet year on year. In Saudi Arabia over a 20 year period the aquifers have been seriously depleted which has had an impact on its grain crop. The country now has to import 15 million tonnes annually. Yemen will now need to import all its grain.

A running commentary on the problems facing Iran and Tehran in particular can be accessed via ‘Our Man in Tehran’. A series of articles is available at NYT World 2015/05/05. The issues are similar to many nations: water table depletion, rising population in Tehran which has tripled over the last thirty (30) years, made worse by a fall in average rainfall.

The great and the powerful are not immune to the rigours of water stress. China will face immense problems as water use is at a peak which will affect grain and rice production. The World Bank considers that China will face, “… catastrophic consequences for future generations”.

America may be mighty but it cannot escape the power of nature. It will need all the super heroes it can muster to get itself out of this problem. The US is a massive food producing country be it: grain, rice, soybean etc. However, a report by Ceres reminds us all, “Producing food, after all, requires more water than almost any other business on Earth”. Whereas we may drink 4 litres of water a day, it takes 2000 litres to produce our food. www.theguardian.com

  1. www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/05/11/405946749/why-food-companies-should-be-more-afraid-of-water-scarcity

thJSHFW8FRCalifornia seems particularly parched at present. The recent drought conditions may force a rethink on water supply and usage. Southern California gets nearly all its water from the Colorado River. To the north it is around 20%. Betting odds on there being a shortage of river flow on the Colorado has increased from 33% to 50%, not good odds. At present Lake Mead is only 38% full. The region needs a mighty downpour which incidentally may be helped by El Nino.

www.m.utsandiego.com/news/2015/may/11/colorado

Meanwhile, the California Department of Resources is predicting a huge increase in population.

2009                       2020                       2030

28m                       41m                       75m

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/water_scarcity

There is a sting in the tail for all of us that we need to take seriously. “Water use is growing twice as fast as population”. (November 2014) www.un.org/waterforlifedecade/scarcity.shtml

All the warnings are out there; well signposted but have not yet captured the imagination. The general media have not deduced the seriousness of our plight. Governments keep the lid on it perhaps hoping it might go away or don’t want to upset business. Meanwhile, the press feed us celebrity gossip and we become ‘mindless consumers’. (Philosopher Jürgen Habermas).

We cannot halt the use of water; everything we do is directly linked to it. We need constant reminders that only 1% is drinkable and that many millions don’t have the luxury of clean water. The potential of water wars in the developing world is very real. The prospect of severe rationing in the developed nations is increasingly likely.

It is equally obvious that we have the technology and the wherewithal to find solutions. One of our greatest attributes as human beings is devising solutions to extremely difficult problems. We are inexhaustible in our ingenuity.

One solution comes from a surprising source, Unilever, one of the world’s giant’s in chemical production. In Iowa State, they are paying soybean farmers 10c a bushel to adopt sustainable water practices. We should all cheer Unilever so where they lead others will follow.

The second enterprising solution is the use of solar power to distil water by nearly boiling it. Bedouins’ in the town of Dahab use a system called AquaDania’s WaterStiller which has proven five (5) times more efficient than other methods. (Wikipedia.org. as above).

These are practical initiatives which highlight the ingenuity of people. Finding a political solution will prove much too difficult in a liberal landscape. Politics is a blinding force; it strips the brain of the means to think beyond its narrow confines. Power and greed come to the fore and side-line any ethical approach. Thus the libertarians will sit back, enjoy a drink, toss a few coins in a charity box and turn a blind eye to the death and sheer hell of people struggling to survive.

People in the West are so afraid of taking a decisive step for fear that they will be castigated as erstwhile colonialists. They don’t want to be seen in any sense of appearing to dictate policy. These liberals suffer from historical restitution. They favour self-determination without thought of consequence, they hide behind a motto of; let them run their own affairs, find their own way. Give them some money to ease the stress.

Meanwhile, dictators, dictate and fascists terrorize but then, it’s none of our business. However, the ordinary Joes’ of Africa, Asia and the Middle East are making it our business by leaving their homeland in droves to find a better life. Immigration then becomes a major political and social issue.

One way to overcome our ‘lazy eye’ is to have strict guidelines on the use of foreign aid and to monitor its implementation. If wells are vital to ensure clean water then we only give aid for that purpose, to provide and maintain. Corruption is siphoning off £/$ millions from the real need. We desperately need an array of methods to circumvent those who indulge themselves in the proceeds of corruption.

Furthermore, we must stop treating Africa as a car-boot-sale venue. Humanitarianism is not a business tool and should never be used as such.

Do some good…..join Robin Hood

 

 

Environment: Save It!

th[3]It’s a war of attrition against the gangsters who have no compunction in raping the planet for profit. It’s a war about the education of our politicians who seem awestruck by the wealth and the power of the big boys. They are as schoolkids, posters in their bedroom, dreaming of one day being as famous as their favourite star. The big difference is that kids grow up. Politicians will spout that they’re tied by the art of what’s possible and the eternal need to compromise. If I wasn’t choking on exhaust fumes I might accept their excuse.

The alarming stories about climate change just keep on running. In a report by www.france24.com/en/20150327- they outline a damning report by the European SpacethS6MBC7KN Agency, published in the journal Science which relates to the shrinking of the ice mass around Antarctica. The ice mass is the bulwark which prevents the permanent collapse of glaciers covering the southern continent. Think of it as a dam holding back an ocean. The study based on satellite measurements over the period 1994 – 2012 suggest that the ice mass has shrunk by almost 20%. The study also highlighted the speed of the melt:

  • In the period 1994 – 2003 there was little difference.
  • However, in 2003 – 2012 melting accelerated markedly.

If the ice mass is destroyed it will cause glaciers to slip into the ocean bringing a rise in sea levels. A rise of one (1) metre could prove devastating in many coastal regions. Separate studies of the South Pole are just as worrying. A report published in December 2014 found that thawing had trebled the number of glaciers falling into the Amundsen Sea. Two further studies in that year concluded that melting in Western Antarctica could lead to a sea rise of one (1) metre.

  • The real worry is that the process is likely to be irreversible!!!

The North Pole is also under threat, NYT 2015/04/24. The Arctic Council made up of interested nations: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia and the USA are due to meet soon. Their biennial meeting will be held on Baffin Island in Nth Canada. The others are concerned by the actions and intentions of Russia. The Russians have started to exploit oil from the Kara Sea and there is a worry that further exploration could damage the fragile environment.

It seems to be the way of business and politicians in general that they act first then wait for us to react before they consider the need to think. But unless they think and think quickly about the North and South Poles many communities will be devastated.

thINHWQFFZWe desperately need more scientific study on as many aspects of the environment as we can imagine. A report in the New Scientist of work carried out by Norwegian scientists on the potential damage or otherwise of microbes in the Arctic; coupled with the study of marine phytoplankton which may also hold a danger to the environment.

It’s all very technical but microbes in warmer climates draw to a halt at 40C but the little buggers in the Arctic continue producing methane at 270C. Worryingly, Arctic soils contain twice as much carbon as the entire atmosphere which leads to one estimate that the thawing of the permafrost could cause a similar problem as deforestation.

Another problem comes from the phytoplankton as their dark bodies can absorb more sun which could cause the Arctic sea to warm up by 20%. Obviously, this has effects on the ice mass and the rate of melt.

  • Methane: 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Away from the possible danger of the Arctic our politicians hold meetings, talk, eat and talk some more; arrange another meeting where they will talk and eat and talk again, at our expense. Little wonder that the process of change takes so long. The Arctic Council meets biennially; it’s not important enough in the busy schedule of our leaders to meet more frequently. Perhaps they are on a diet!! If it wasn’t so serious I might laugh at their lackadaisical attitude and contribute to their gym fees.

Meanwhile, politicians may be battering your eardrums with how they are spending huge amounts of money trying to improve the environment. Investment in renewable energy rose to $270bn worldwide, with nearly 50% coming from developing countries, e.g. China. France24.com/en/

I feel better now!!thDC82LPF2

Hold on! In an interview for, theguardian.com/environment/ on 2015/04/13 Jim Yong Kim of the World Bank called for the scrapping of subsidies and a carbon tax. Kim made the point clearly, “We need to get rid of fossil fuel subsidies now”. Why was he so agitated? It seems that governments around the world are currently spending $1 trillion per year to subsidize fossil fuels. One trillion $$$! That figure certainly puts spending on renewables deep into the shadows.

  • The irony – our taxes are being used to help kill the planet and therefore us.

They’re killing us but the profits excellent!

At a subsequent meeting in Hong Kong, Jim Yong Kim made another bold speech about climate change; he told delegates at the Nobel Laureates Symposium that climate change is a ‘fundamental threat’ to development. He warned that a sea rise of 15cm /6inches coupled by severe cyclones could inundate Bangkok by 2030s. This was based on a study by the Potsdam Institute.

A Japanese delegate, Ryoli Noyori, Nobel Prize winner for chemistry 2001 told the assembled that Japan has many coastal cities susceptible to floods. “But unfortunately, the government has not done enough in counter measures”. France24.com/en/2015/04/23

Several of the points raised by Jim Yong Kim are very relevant. He suggests that Africa needs to develop its hydroelectric potential as it only makes use of 1% of possible production. However, one major project has caused some controversy. A hydroelectric dam across the Blue Nile in Ethiopia would be the largest in Africa but is causing Ethiopia’s neighbours some misgivings. A study has raised a number of issues:

  • With the Aswan High Dam (Egypt) there will be 2 large dams on the one river.
  • Need to look carefully at aspects of the build.
  • Egypt & Sudan might not get water during drought periods.
  • Sudan might use more water for irrigation and so affect the amount of water to Egypt.
  • 60% of Egypt’s water comes from the Nile.
  • It will produce too much electricity and therefore needs an infrastructure e.g. pylons to transmit the electricity and an organised way of selling it.

Don Blackmore an Australian water specialist has warned: “The International community needs to focus on the Nile as a matter of urgency”. Theguardian.com/environment 2015/04/13

Water and its supply will become critical in the future but is already a major problem in Africa according to UNICEF as it estimates that 157m people in East & Southern Africa do not have access to clean and safe water.

The situation is deemed to get far worse. The UN warns that “…the world will face an increasingly severe global water deficit”. www.cbsnews.com/news/gambian Even in America the warning signs are imminent with www.USAtoday.com reporting that within the next decade 40 states can expect to have water shortages. Note that California is witnessing its worst ever drought. Will the bulb light up in republican land?

  • It really doesn’t matter what aspect of the environment you look at, it all needs saving!

Where are the peoples’ army?

There are many environmentalists, individual and groups but their voice is never raised in unison. Theirs is a disparate tone and because of that separation is sadly weakened. There are too many groups defending their own garden plot; too many individuals who think because they recycle they are doing their bit. Many tribes and tribal chief’s, each certain that their methodology and environmental agenda, is the true noble path to pursue. Unfortunately, therein lies the cog which maintains the raison d’etre of the market system.

All the groups, too many to mention, ply their wares with a swagger as though they have achieved something. They have achieved nothing! They have not stopped one demi-kilo of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. They are as midges to the big boys, to be swatted as an irritant. At the very least the environmental groups could convene a conference before national elections to endorse the political party which pledges the best deal for the environment. Such an endeavour could bring the environment to a much wider audience within the country and beyond.

Further demonstration will be to flag up where the government has failed throughout their term in office. It requires a sustained and well marketed approach, perhaps to include intensive programmes of activity in marginal seats. Show the intellectual rationale of the environment lobby by coming together. Put the environment first and parochialism into the dustbin of history.

The environmentalists are as guilty as politicians of putting politics above the welfare of the planet.thTXFQFN0B

Save Santa’s Homeland!!!!

Do some good…..join Robin Hood.

Environment: It Needs Oxygen!

 

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

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

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

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

 

  1. The world emits 32 gigatonnes annually.

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

Why the focus on Developing Nations?

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

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

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

They’re killing us but the profit is excellent!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do some good…….join Robin Hood

 

 

To The Barricades!

 

thROE354NRA future ravaged by revolution, French style where the rich and powerful meet their fate on the guillotine or by firing squad in a Russian type overthrow. The crime will have been the denial of rights to the majority and an utter contempt for the masses. The growing separation through inequality may force the hand of the poor to take action.

There is little doubt that inequality is increasing; Ha-Joon Chang (p333) points out, “Since the 1980s, income inequality has risen in the majority of countries”. He goes on to highlight that this is especially so on the UK and USA, “…which lead the world in pro-rich policies”. Economics: The User’s Guide. Krugman (p73) lends his support concerning the USA “…the income of the typical family grew less after 1980 than before”. End This Depression Now!

This view is shared by Stiglitz (p9) who illustrates his point with a host of data over the last 30 years:

  • Low wage earners – increase over the period          = 15%
  • Top 1% of earners –                                                  = 150%
  • Top 0.1% of earners –                                               = 300%

Over a slightly different time scale Krugman (p76) substantiates the point made by Stiglitz. What this means in reality for the American worker is: an auto worker in 2007 could expect to earn $28 per hour now new hires are taken on at $15 an hour. Stiglitz (p71-72) The Price of Inequality

Another telling point comes from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which suggests that, “… the UK economy would have been 20% bigger had the gap between rich and poor not widened since 1980s”. Guardian 2014/12/09

thXB41ZEDFThe disparity is clear the rich have benefitted greatly, the super rich have benefitted fantastically. Over the same period extreme poverty has risen dramatically in the US as between 1996 – 2011 it has doubled to 1.5 million based on World Bank (WB) measures. Stiglitz reckons that 25% of all kids in the US live in poverty. (p20-21)

Two of the world’s rich nations have a damning ratio of inequality; what must it be like elsewhere: India, China and Africa, I dread to think. Moreover, we cannot rely on democracy to iron out the creases in our system, “…the political agenda is biased towards corporate power”. www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pluralism

A statement which is borne out by Chang (p325) “… recent dramatic upswings in inequality in the US and the UK can mainly be explained by deregulation and tax cuts for the rich”. A view supported by both Stiglitz and Krugman.

“Currently, as the wealthiest obtain more wealth, they use a portion of that wealth to reduce the risk of having and obtaining additional wealth. A good example of this is how the tax rate on the wealthiest decreases as they obtain more wealth. The average tax rate for the top 1% in the US is now 17%. The tax rate for the poorest is closer to 50%”. Maxkeiser.com cited in www.larsschall.com2011/06/13/hegels-masterslave-dialectic/

 

Therefore our politicians are less interested in the electorate. Is it because we are skint? In contrast we have the thoughts of Wang Fuzhi a 17th century philosopher who was critical of the rulers, “…government should benefit the people, not those in power”. A lovely sentiment but can we have it adopted in today’s world. It is a view shared by the 20th century philosopher Karl Popper who thought it essential that we have a society where ‘political institutions can be changed by the governed’. Personally I would have Wang’s statement emblazoned onto banners and paraded everywhere where there is a protest. It should be a mantra for all who believe in equality and democracy.

Unfortunately, we seem to be headed towards a society based on Hegel’s master – slave dialectic and the fight for survival that ensues. (Larsshcall.com as above)It would seem that we are outside /beyond the thought processes of the rich. In a study for the WB in 2000 which surveyed 10,000, Can Anyone Hear Us? Deepa Narayan et al. One of the main issues raised by those surveyed was the lack of a voice. Nobody listens! Stiglitz (p21 + 390 notes 69) It’s to their own detriment but the rich cannot understand the concept of fairness.

In elementary psychology the point is made clearly, “It is important for us to feel that we have some control over what happens to us”. Understand Psychology (p119) The rich accept no responsibility for the growing inequality; that is inexcusable. They cause it and then turn a blind eye to the consequences of their actions. According to the philosopher P.F. Strawson it is only natural that we hold others responsible for what they do. www.plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-responsibility

Nobody listens! Especially our politicians except when it’s election time. Then the voters are herded through a narrow alley where they are bombarded with spurious rhetoric and a bucketful of promises. At the other end they are set loose, once again, to fend for themselves against the wolves and other predators. Little wonder therefore that there is a rise of alternative political parties. These new parties have emerged because the people want a voice and because the mainstream parties have stopped listening.

People will make sense of the world in which ever way they can, in the environment they find themselves living; be it crime, gangs or non-participation in general society. However, any notion that such groups should be shut out of the welfare system will result in new sub-cultures with unforeseen consequences.

Moreover, control of the hoi polloi has more tentacles than your average octopus: booze, drugs, and soap operas etc. However, not even the legalisation of marijuana will depress the feeling of unfairness. On the other hand it may actually heighten the feeling of dislocation and anger. And the present fascination of the star-struck dilettantes, dazzled by the glamour will not dislodge the desire for equity.

Reality for most has two edges, work or unemployment. Those in work are generally thRZSGUKD9happier people. Understand Psychology (p256-257). For those out of work various studies have shown a marked deterioration in physical health which exacerbates the problem. Long term unemployment can lead to ‘learned helplessness’ (p118) which can lead to apathy and a resignation which prompts an attitude of ‘why bother’ and, generates a ‘victim mentality’. The consequential costs over generations can prove so severe for society that government should set up training centres and community work to reduce the knock on effects.

The reality of the downtrodden is depressing. It is easier looking in than living the life. Nonetheless, people have a strong tendency to want to help as Chang (p197) suggests, “…people can, and do, pursue enlightened self-interest”. But these are generally ordinary folk who understand that at times we all need a hand because they too know aspects of that life. The rich are too busy flashing their bling in our faces.

M.K. Covey maintains that “Trust is the glue of life”. The Leaders Guide to Influence (p79) The same terminology is used by Stiglitz (p152-153) when he emphasises that social capital / trust is the ‘glue’ in society; that cooperation and trust are important,     “…in every sphere of society”. Without the ‘glue’ without the belief that the economic and political system is fair, society won’t function well. He gives several instances where social capital works exceptionally well and where it has failed.

A poll carried out on behalf of the NYT/CBS News in 2011 found only 10% of respondents trusted their government to do things right most of the time. Stiglitz, (p440 notes 8) The distrust of politicians is widespread. In the UK trust has been steadily eroded by promises never kept and by the scandal of M.P.’s fiddling their expenses. Some have also utilised their position of authority for a fee to business. Obviously, lobbying is not enough for some businesses.

thP0BYI7XHHowever, corruption of politicians is not a new phenomenon as Chang (p338) purports that business “…let’s not mince words- legally and illegally [are] buying up politicians and political offices”. Krugman (p86) is equally forceful in his view, “There is plenty of raw corruption—politicians who are simply bought, either with campaign contributions or with personal payoffs”. Stiglitz (p137-138) weighs in with several instances of ‘dishonest accounting’. It will make your eyes water with anger.

More recently in Brazil, the Petrobras scandal has 54 politicians in the dock and President Dilma Rousseff under suspicion concerning corruption at the oil giant. Federal prosecutors are seeking $1.5bn from 6 construction and engineering companies who are said to have bribed their way to huge contracts with Petrobras. www.msn.com/2015/03/03

It’s no different in France where 11 dairy companies have been fined a total of €192.7 million for organising a cartel. www.France242015/03/12 No wonder prices are so high!

So what’s the difference between fraud at the top and fraud at the bottom —–prison?

It needs to be well documented that if politicians do not listen to their constituents then they must accept full responsibility for any downsides in society. They tend to think that every 5 years or so they can tell a different story and blame someone else. They never accept blame themselves. Make them responsible!

Do some good ……join Robin Hood!!!!

Government should benefit the people not those in power

 

 

He’s Here!

 

thCAAXS9NGShush! Don’t make a sound. Don’t stand up! He’ll put you down. Big Brother has arrived. His arrival is much later than envisaged by 1984 author George Orwell, neither did Orwell anticipate that the controlling hand would stem from a democratic rather than a totalitarian regime. Few could have foreseen the rise of the troika, renamed ‘The Institution’.

Poor Greece it doesn’t stand a chance against the might of the EU and its enforcers, the troika, the faceless: the European Commission (E Comm) the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) all unelected. It is their way or the highway.

This is your Europe where democracy does not matter, where decisions will be made for you. The democratically elected government of Greece tried to uphold the principles by which it was elected but has been brow beaten by ‘The Institution’. Greece wanted to opt out of the austerity economic plan followed by the rest of Europe. The new government wanted to reverse the savage cuts imposed on its workers by ‘The Institution’.

As far as the faceless are concerned there is no alternative to their adopted policy. They are wrong, very wrong. I can point them to two Nobel Prize winning economists, a Harvard university economist and a Cambridge university economist who all advocate a positive alternative to the austerity / neoliberal model now in force.

    • J.E. Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality
  • Paul Krugman, End This Depression Now!
  • Dani Rodrik, The Globalization Paradox
  • Ha-Joon Chang, Economics: The User’s Guide

 

Greece did not cause this mess, though the propaganda would have you believe otherwise. What Krugman p177 calls the Big Delusion when he points out that Ireland and Spain both had budget surpluses and low debt prior to the banking crisis of 2008 but ended in the same bog as Greece. So it was not that Greece spent more than it could afford. Krugman p179 goes on to suggest that the political, financial and banking leaders are deeply committed to their version of events. Others may define their logic as ‘groupthink’.

A large part of the blame rests with the introduction of the € euro currency but they will never admit their complicity in creating a mess. At the time of the discussion to adopt the euro many pointed out that while America had a good model, “Europe fell far short of that model”. Krugman p173   Stiglitz p30 is equally scathing in stating that there was no “…political or institutional arrangements to make it work, and they will pay a high price for that failure”. I think we can all agree they are.

Moreover, it’s not just Greece that’s in trouble: Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Cyprus and Italy are trapped in the same bog. These nations have opted to wield the axe and cut the life blood of so many families by cutting jobs by the thousand, cutting welfare, lowering wages and refusing to increase the minimum wage and allowing privatisation which entails job cuts.

Ha-Joon Chang p105 therefore concludes, “With the austerity budget, the prospect for economic recovery in many of these countries is dim”. That they might even face a ‘lost decade’ as Japan suffered in the1990s and Latin America 1980s. The point is supported by Krugman p186, “…deficit countries have been required to impose…draconian…spending cuts and tax hikes—programs that push them into deeper slumps…” Krugman p42 suggests that the ‘Institution’ should look at the work of past economists e.g. John Maynard Keynes, Irving Fisher and Hyman Minsky to find an alternative to the neoliberal austerity package.

Why Austerity?

The IMF, the World Bank and the Federal Bank of the USA are commonly referred to as the Washington Consensus as these are the guys pushing the neoliberal model, free trade and globalization. Rodrik p171 opines that it is a “damaged brand” and has abundant evidence to support his statement.

The role of the IMF is quite confusing:

  • In the years 1978 – 2009 the IMF found 173 cases of fiscal austerity in advanced countries, “And what they found was that austerity policies were followed by economic contraction and higher unemployment”. Krugman p237
  • In February 2010 the IMF document Rethinking Macroeconomic Policy, suggested that central banks such as the ECB in Europe “might be better to aim for 4% inflation rather than the 2% or less that has become the norm for ‘sound’ policy”. A policy of ‘groupthink’. P161
  • In 2011 a study by the IMF found that inequality in income affects the economy on the demand side and suggests that ‘reduced inequality’, the reverse of austerity, can lead to sustained growth. Stiglitz p114

The conclusion drawn by Stiglitz p288 is that, “The worst myths are that austerity will bring recovery and that more government spending will not”. Support comes from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) “…income inequality has a sizeable and statistically negative impact on growth”. Guardian 14/12/09

Nonetheless we find the IMF as part of the ‘Institution’ that is promoting austerity in Europe. Who are the faceless that they can disrupt the lives of millions and simply walk thILH29564away with their own pockets filled? Stiglitz p290 condemns them as akin to blood letters of the Middle Ages who cut to release bad blood and when the patient didn’t recover argue that more of the same was needed. They are fixed in their opinion. Groupthink!

 

“Groupthink is one of the most dangerous traps in our decision-making. It’s particularly likely because it taps into our deep social identification mechanisms – everyone likes to feel part of a group – and our avoidance of social challenges. But consensus without conflict almost always means that other viewpoints are being ignored, and the consequences of groupthink can be disastrous”. (p137)

Dr Nicky Hayes, Understand Psychology

A telling point by the author comes with the observation, perhaps tongue in cheek,     “…our understanding of what it is and how it happens doesn’t seem to stop politicians and others from doing it”.

The Greek people were not alone in rejecting austerity the Netherlands and France voted out pro-austerity parties in 2012. A year later the Italians did the same. Chang (p106) It will be interesting as other elections come up how the people will respond but will it make a difference. The ‘Institution’ has set its parameters and seems unlikely to budge. Can people power move them? Or are we powerless against the ‘bureaucratic order’. He’s Here. Are we witnessing the start of the overt rule by the faceless? Democracy, write it in your diaries for your grandchildren to read.

Do some good—————–join Robin Hood.

The Bias War

thBZNBAEI3This war is a bitter struggle to control our thinking. It is waged across the media and most aspects of our lives. The conflict is between the Left (incorporating the Liberals) and the Right in politics. Their concern is not you but your temporary acquiescence at election time. Over the decades it has become a war of attrition. Both present a tablet of stone and etched on each is the route to a promised land.

Who are we to believe?

Neither! Their thoughts are not truly centred on the people though that is the claim. They demand the help of the public to banish the opposition. Otherwise, your voice, your vote is irrelevant to them.

Who has the upper hand?

The Right, they control most of the media, are more united in their approach and have already won over many converts from the electorate. On the economic front, their boys, the neoclassical school of economics hold sway over the world’s economy. They are supported by a raft of powerful friends: the World Bank (WB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) a grouping of the world’s most successful countries, and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). You have to admit a host of influential bodies. But I can assure you on sound medical grounds that they all fart.

Why don’t we support them?

Because they couldn’t give monkeys toss for the people. It was these storm troopersthBZDCK3J2 that caused the banking crisis of 2008 which is still hurting millions of ordinary Joes’ around the world. It is they who want to dismantle the welfare state and leave the poor without any assistance. It was they who made the taxpayer cough up the tab for the banking crisis $ billions x 100 and they who okayed the continuation of huge bonuses for their buddies in the banking sector. Meanwhile the Joes’ of this world lost their jobs, their homes, livelihood and happiness.

History is littered with the anguish of the poor at the hands of such mercenaries. These are the true soldiers of fortune. They force the poor to pay the tab and then the government introduce quantitative easing, pouring $ £ millions into the economy, which is in reality like a super tax cut for the rich. Life is only fair if you’re rich.

Should we support the Left?

thHQSWHLW4No! The Left have forgotten what struggle is all about. They treat the citizenry with utter contempt. In the eyes of the Left, the general public are too thick to understand what they need and so, the Left take it upon themselves to lead. The Left don’t have the time to sit around and chat and to explain their ideology to the beer swigging, pot- bellied, pork pie guzzling, disinterested, short-sighted morons from the council estates and elsewhere. Sorry I’m a burden mate.

Both sides in this ideological war don’t really care one way or the other what the Joes’th2PIIXDFP think. Joe is just piggy in the middle. In fact, the people are a distraction but necessary cannon fodder at election time; otherwise they should be good little doggies and SHUT UP.

Wait a minute mate, what’s the alternative?

There is no easy, straightforward way that the people can make a decisive impact on decision making. Some will call for revolution because they are angry or it simply sounds good. However, revolution has too many variables and the poor will pick up the tab in death and destruction and the cost of rebuilding. Also, the outcome of the revolution is not guaranteed think communism and close the door on revolution.

th04F898NFIn the short term the best route forward is the democratic process. Democracy requires commitment without the ego and that makes it a very difficult landscape to manoeuvre. The first step is easy enough always vote but not for one of the big boys’ enforcers: Conservative, Labour or Liberal. Soon the strategists, the number crunchers will note the change in pattern and the toilet seats in parliament will be booked well in advance.

A no- vote is not an option; it does not register your disgust with the politician. Quite the opposite it’s just one person less to canvas. It doesn’t matter whether a MP gets a 5 vote majority or 10,000 they still have one cushy job.

The next step is to look for a plausible alternative political group. You may not agree with their agenda but it’s the message to your sitting MP that’s important. Collectively the people have more power than they envisage. The difficulty lies in trying to organise any strike back at the establishment. The prospect exists by collecting 100,000 clicks on the net. Do one on MP’s expenses?

It can be done, bombard your MP with letters, email, give them something to do. Let them know in simple terms that you are dissatisfied with their performance and that of their Party.

E.g. I am unhappy at the extent of immigration and want to see it reduced dramatically. If your party cannot do it then my family and I will vote accordingly.

I choose immigration because it is the number 1 issue of the day. (See later post)

Ask friends to send a similar brief letter or email. Send it to a newspaper. If enough people do it you may be surprised how you can influence public opinion.

Unfortunately, for many too busy with their social life, Instagram, twitter etc. life itself just rolls by. They only operate on instant – how cool am I – feedback. They are the perfect sap for the political elite! As long as Santa continues to come they don’t care.

People power exists, join the revolution!

 

 

Blindland (4) Consumerism: The Con!

 

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

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

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

look into my eyes

look into my eyes

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

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

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

shop 'till you drop!

shop ’till you drop!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

a valley of barrels

a valley of barrels

“220 billion cans, bottles, plastic cartons and paper cups are thrown away each year in the developed world”. www.verdant.net/society.htm

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

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

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

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

Consumerism may bring pleasure to the unsuspecting but it brings with it severe costs. Our environment is under constant attack. Our ability to breathe fresh air diminishes with every new car and truck. China has a potential 150 million cars on the road and the number is set to grow. www.worldwatch.org/node/810 The world’s population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050. UN Only recently(April 2014) in the UK a report by Professor Frank Kelly, Department of Health has suggested that diesel cars are responsible for smog and a lot of Nitrogen Dioxide and as many as 7000 deaths per annum.

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

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

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

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