Brexit Re-imagined

So we emerge helplessly into a scenario that many dismissed, and few believed could happen.

The UK voted to leave the EU, and Mrs May has turned it into the coldest hardest brexit that anyone could have foretold.

But there was clearly a plan for this all along.
Consider the package of Govt policies since 2009, and it’s clear the contingency plans have long been in the works.

We had the massive govt investment in education, making sure all our most able can take advantage of the best facilities, the best tutoring, all without reference to their relative financial capabilities, key here being the big student debt write offs that freed a generation to pursue their dreams, at least for a while.

The new Itec technical qualifications have proved popular and the enlightened approach of pairing up the innovative colleges with council investment funds and business and marketing students has meant the UK has registered more new patents in 2016 than in the previous 10 years. Even better, as Cooperatives these new start ups have given so many young British kids a stake in their future that’s proving more inspiring than any previous employee share scheme. Moreover getting the pension companies to pitch in 5% of their charges has enabled the icoops to plan ahead, as the brilliant facilities in Lincoln and Livingston have demonstrated.

The NHS is now starting to be envied again around the globe, with the increased numbers of (UK trained) junior doctors and nurses allowing GPs to open longer hours, and all treatments seeing lower waiting times.

We invested in housing stock, ensuring that those starting on the housing ladder had modern, efficient and ecologically sound homes, whilst the increases in inheritance tax, tight landlord controls and the restrictions in place to eliminate avoidance have meant that existing stocks have ceased to inflate endlessly and remain affordable.

The govt have tirelessly sought to rebalance the regions of Britain, focussing help, expertise, and investment on impressive start ups and our manufacturing base, ensuring exports continue to rise year on year despite expectations from the naysayers. Scotland is no longer looking for an out, and theres confidence that regional assemblies like Yorkshire’s will be rolled out, with Cornwall next in line.

The UKs successes in reducing co2 emissions, and the revolutions in energy storage have yielded much cheaper electricity costs and the need to import Russian gas seems like a distant nightmare.

The Natonal Insurance breaks given to firms offering additional leave entitlement have seen the tourism, arts and service sectors buoyant with the regional museums now seeing record footfall season on season.

Equality has benefitted from these measures, helped also by the reduction of VAT back to 17.5%, with youth unemployment under 4% in most areas. Without the neo-liberal restrictions of Europe there’s real hope that VAT will fall to 15%.

Further, the introduction of Carers Income covering all parents working less than 35 hours, with the extension to grandparents, and those with adult dependents have improved the quality of life for the forgotten heroes of Britain.

There’s still work to do… The press continues to be dominated by the right wing, although the removal of non-Dom status did lead to new owners across the board. The House of Lords remains an anachronism. And the farming lobby has successfully campaigned for no funding changes until 2020, but the newly energised rural left are starting to make inroads.

The Brexit vote was a shock, and I’m not alone in being surprised seeing the govt pushing so hard for a quick-and-dirty version. And I know many would like it to fail just to prove the Farage/Gove types wrong, but thanks to our govt, since the crisis of 2009 we’ve actually taken amazing steps to rebalance the economic and emotional wellbeing of the nation, which should ensure we’re more successful than many predicted.

I mean,  just imagine if we’d done this without the imagination represented above. Thank goodness the false idols of small government and austerity combined with corporate welfare haven’t for years been reducing our national coping mechanisms.

Just imagine the govts only plan was to negotiate trade agreements and there was no inclination to look at the fitness of our structures.

Then this wouldn’t seem like a smart idea. 

Image via: http://tomandatticus.blogspot.co.uk/2010/07/atticus-is-fine-im-lucky-to-be-alive.html?m=1

Dave’s Legacy Pitch

It’s long been known that David Cameron isn’t entirely comfortable with some of the elements of his party.
He’s pretty liberal socially in his beliefs, and I’m saying that fully aware that the full range of policies under his regime haven’t been particularly liberal but then policy is generally a collective event and involves many trade offs.

From his speech today I did detect a series of messages Dave wanted to get across that might have been missed.

The first one is that he clearly tried to make the folk who voted Conservative glad they did so. The jingoistic bollocks about weapons, leaving none behind etc was always going to be there, but it was at the heart of his speech, and many a casual political follower will get the impression that they picked the right guy. Mocking Labour will help confirm that. This is stage one of the Dave legacy pitch – reinforce the messages of the last 8 years about what a great leader you are, and with obedient press and vacuous tv/ radio coverage it might stick. Dave wants to be remembered – he still thinks he’s good at this.

Message two was a bit more subtle and I think a little bit of the other Dave. If he leaves before this parliament is out, his party could pick from several obvious candidates, all of whom pitched to a different audience this conference. In all the liberal messaging from Dave, he’s trying to set the field of play for that battle. Emphasis on multi-culturalism is I think an honest thing for Dave, and it emphasises the bits of his party he’s never liked. With Theresa May playing the right-wing cards, this was Dave’s attempt to establish a different tone, and basically persuade the party that this is how they ought to be, even if it’s not their first instinct. Dave’s other legacy is intended to be a more socially liberal Conservative party.

Time to quit the debating society and get some proper work done

In recent years, the folk at the Houses of Parliament have gone some way to civilising the process.

They changed the hours of working, and substantially cut down on the night shifts and so on.

This period has also resulted in an electorate which feels increasingly unrepresented and let down, both by the government/s and the effectiveness of the oppositions.

During this period, whilst PMQs has retained an albeit stage-managed confrontation, much of the day-to-day politics has been pretty civilised, culminating in Labour’s front bench abstaining on the recent Welfare bill, using some procedural excuse.

This may well be a valid, practical approach to politics – the governing party have a majority, which normally would enable bills and legislation to pass into law no matter what the tactics employed by the opposition. This leaves the battles to be fought in the media, where each party can jostle for their position to be heard, and where the knock-out blow comes from zingy one-liners that play well with the public.

And this suits the politicians on both sides – these folk were always the ones to be in the debating society, to take an argument and try and outwit their opponent. That’s their culture.

This also has added benefits; – media exposure & sensible working hours, and ultimately for most folk in the public eye, these are VERY GOOD THINGS.

I get that.

But the public outcry over the oppositions apparent capitulation suggest this isn’t a good long term move. Over a period of growth and reducing poverty, with all main parties idealogically close to each other you can get away with it. But when the public feel persecuted, excluded, trampled and ignored, it doesn’t look good, and it doesn’t win support.

A recent piece by former Conservative MP Jerry Hayes struck me.

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The new leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition will have the choice – how far to appease, be the sensible politician, but risk losing the momentum of their election result, the Labour party support that is currently so passionate; or to embrace that feeling, to decide that now is the time to let rip – after the summer recess the MPs should be rested and ready, so enforce the party whip and put the government under the most indecent pressure.

Imagine the impact on those part-time MPs with lucrative second and third jobs, they’re gonna get pretty narked pretty quickly, imagine the view of the electorate suddenly turning to the inability of Cameron to get things done. The lobby reporters would have to change tone, it would be “will Boris be here to vote, this MP is out of the country, that one is poorly …” –  Suddenly a tiny majority looks fragile, the opposition is heaping the pressure on, the usually calm will start to fray.

Time to do the hard graft, Labour, this is the pre-season training phase – get fit and lean now, and hit the new season like a team of world-beaters, set the scene.

Jerry Hayes piece: http://jerryhayes.co.uk/posts/2015/08/13/a-corbyn-victory-will-herald-a-dramatic-change-of-tory-tactics

Labour Leadership – how does it feel?

A bloody lifetime.

All those tedious meetings with wetsock councillors, local activists, and associated crackpots.

All those blancmange judgings.

All those requests for help cheerfully passed onto the relative who works in your office to send a pat response, with occasionally, getting some that need some attention, a hidden gem of an EXAMPLE to fight for, a Cause to Back.

And the press releases, the puppy-SpAds, the casual chats with ministers and shadow-ministers.

The hours on the train, the juggling of 2 homes and 2 lives – yes it’s a good earner, but actually a pain in the ass when you don’t remember the sandwich toaster only exists in your constituency house.

20 years or more, going through it all – the quarrels and pointed-elbows, the petty insults, the time spent avoiding this one or that one, or circling another.

But Ed quit (about time), and here comes your chance.

Maybe I’ll get some fight from one of the others – Andy, or Stella, it doesn’t matter. I sense my time is here. I’ve bloody earned it. I’ve fought the causes, built the profile, said the RIGHT BLOODY THINGS.

And this fucking Jerry fella chips his fucking stupid hat into the ring.

Jeesus. We used to chat once in a while – he seemed alright. Didn’t behave properly (what was he thinking), all worthy and all that. But never the bastard party leader, no way.

How? WHYYYYY?

It’s MY time, I’m smarter than Osborne, I’ve even had talks with Rupert. Polly Toynbee has my mobile. Who are these people and where is their right?

I know I had some worries when Ed B lost – I think we all felt that was a bit weird, a freak storm, he was popular, and so smart (usually, altho’ he did always get flu on budget day); I don’t know why people didn’t see it.

What do these people want – we are their party, I have worked for them all this time – I know what’s possible, I know the BBC Director General.

What do I do now?

Andy says it’s like being a football manager who has a run of bad games, and this new bloke comes in and suddenly you can’t stop winning. I don’t know.

Is there a way back, are the polls wrong? What do these people want FFS? just because they don’t understand how parliament works, I get the blame. Harriet had that vote worked out. Is it that vote? Or the other one? We did that for YOU, you silly people. You think they’ll let some cardigan wearing worthy into the hot-seat? Boris will have ’em flogged.

Fools.

And you think it’s good when he challenges the govt on everything – how would you like the graveyard shift at the house listening to some over-promoted wonk drivel on. That’s not how it works anymore.

I will keep trying. I will.

Booked on WATO next week.

On the point of politics

The Labour party will be electing new leadership over the coming few months.

So far, a number of prominent Labour Westminster MPs have thrown their name in the ring, and there’s a lot of guff in the media & blogosphere about why Labour didn’t win, and who they need in charge to win next time.

Pragmatic analysis of messages, personalities, butty-eating skills, perceptions, demographics, tactics, leaflets. How did you do on the doorstep? How to defeat yr opponents. How to win voter x,y,z. How to inspire the squeezed middle, white van man, the women of Swindon, the aspirational, the wealth creators – nonsense terms that hide the reality of real people with real problems.

For the majority of politicians of our major parties, Con, LIb, Lab, the problem is how to win power.

And if you take that approach, Labour as a party will lose, because they cannot influence those people nearly as effectively as a moderately competent Conservative party – loyalty sticks and influence (press, employer, social) is hard to get past.

Call me an unreconstructed idealist, but this is a depressing argument, and reinforces some key issues I have with the Labour Party.

In life, I try and understand problems, assess solutions, and implement the best solution the best I can. I don’t think that’s unusual.

Politics ought to be the same thing, except looking at bigger problems, for larger groups of people – how can I/we fix that problem? What’s the symptom, what are the causes – the real causes? follow the trail. It’s a purpose, a calling – an over-riding need to secure better outcomes.

Is it too much to ask that our prospective governors first identify the problems, offer solutions that will fix those problems, and then ask for the vote?

The problem for Labour isn’t about getting the vote of the folk of Swindon, Scotland or Morley; it’s about having a vision of how to transform a dysfunctional nation state into one that inspires others, one that surpasses expectations by offering real solutions to real issues. You can’t fake that, you don’t get that without questioning EVERYTHING.

You need a MISSION, a PURPOSE, a point, you need to articulate that, and most importantly – IF IT’S NOT DIFFERENT TO THE COMPETITION, you’re doomed to failure.

It’s not about winning first, austerity-lite, safety first. it’s not about votes. It’s about vision.

(And I’m not sure many MPs have much of a vision these days

The debt I never promised

Something I was reminded of.
Apologies for lack of original thought, but just maybe this has passed you by.

William Shakespeare
I know you all (“Henry IV, Part 1”)  

HENRY, PRINCE OF WALES.

I know you all, and will awhile uphold
The unyok’d humour of your idleness.Yet herein will I imitate the Sun,
Who doth permit the base contagious clouds
To smother up his beauty from the world,
That, when he please again to be himself,
Being wanted, he may be more wonder’d at,
By breaking through the foul and ugly mists
Of vapours that did seem to strangle him.
If all the year were playing holidays,
To sport would be as tedious as to work;But, when they seldom come, they wish’d-for come,
And nothing pleaseth but rare accidents.So when this loose behaviour I throw off,And pay the debt I never promised,
By how much better than my word I am,By so much shall I falsify men’s hopes;And, like bright metal on a sullen ground,My reformation, glitt’ring o’er my fault,Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes
Than that which hath no foil to set it off.I’ll so offend to make offense a skill,Redeeming time when men think least I will.
[Exit.]
(Prince’s soliloquy, “Henry IV, Part One,” Act 1, Scene 2, Lines 199-221)     

We created a monster

We created a monster.

We grew it from seed, we gave it confidence and status.

It grew, in size and strength, and for a while it seemed to love us and nurture us.

And then one day, at a time uncertain, it was bigger than us. It was a collective of monsters that was smarter than us, and so it robbed us, enslaved us, mis-educated us, mistreated us, and then told us it was our own doing, and denied it was a part of us.

It’s still there. Alert the police and the government, but they won’t answer, for they have been enslaved too.

 

There you go, a dramatic kick off that’ll hopefully keep you reading the rest of this, or at least a bit further.

The monster I’m referring to is THE CORPORATION.

And I think I understand corporations a little bit – I work for one (as do many), and I’ve plenty of years experience of working in one as an accountant / manager / senior manager. And I read a bit, and think a bit, and try to notice stuff. But as usual on this blog I want to knit a few observations together, and try to make a point.

 

The corporation is an entirely legal construct relating to how folk deal with each other. So everything it is, everything it can be allowed to be, ought to be defined by us.

AND THIS MAY BE MY MOST IMPORTANT POINT, and if I follow my plan, I’ll get back to this at the end – THE CORPORATION IS JUST FOLK.

So a corporation is a legal construct of folk doing stuff, for other folk, with a set of assets. Once, long ago, in the baby years of corporations or firms, the assets were the property of an individual, or a small group of individuals who knew each other. They would be actively involved in the management of their assets, it was their capital, and they’d use their own knowledge, and the services of other folk, to achieve their goals – make something, grow something, create something, and then find customers for that thing.

Over time, this evolved. The corporations grew bigger, the owners more remote, the managers more professional. However this is where things started to go wrong.

As firms get larger (and more mature), the ability of single individuals to influence the outcome reduces, bureaucracy increases, the hierarchy creates incentives for individuals that diverge from those of the whole organisation (and the society at large), and the influence of the asset owners decreases dramatically. In fact, since the managers of the firm tend to know more of what’s going on than the owners do, there’s a built-in opportunity to pursue their own self-interest. This is reflected in the economic theory with contributions by the likes of Baumol, Williamson, Milgrom & Roberts.

So economists know that the activity of a corporation tends toward the negative as the corporation becomes more mature, and grows in size.

Does this happen in reality?

You betcha. Look at the wonderful culture of executive compensation. How to pay senior staff? Once the owner would have dictated how much management would receive, but since the owners now have very little to do with the management, then the management establish an arm’s-length approach, by having a committee and some consultants who are their friends & acquaintances, and probably all experienced senior executives themselves, and they tell the executives how much to pay themselves. Maybe they base it on some KPIs, indexes, etc, which gives the appearance of achievement propagating reward, but they make sure the achievement is achievable, and game-able.

There’s little doubt that the amount of cash paid out to senior executives has substantially increased, and yet the world doesn’t seem any better, and your goods and services aren’t that much more satisfying, and your brand loyalty isn’t any greater. And each corporation can’t have exactly the BEST people, because the corporation next door also has 50 of the best people etc. So ok, execs have manipulated the lack of governance from the owners to feather their nest. Funnily, I don’t think that’s the biggest problem.

Thinking of how the Corporation creates dysfunctional behaviour, consider how it creates tribalism, and competition; that can be a good thing, teams that bond work well together, shared goals etc. But it can also blind us to consideration of the world outside our tribe, which is dangerous. People in corporations are encouraged to group-think; there’s a company way of doing things, a way of considering the competition, a view on HOW to go about business, and naturally, those in power tend to be really good at following the culture, and those that rebel tend not to become powerful. The culture becomes more entrenched, more extreme.

We understand then that there’s a real shared mind-set among the executives of a corporation, and this can tend to create a very strong us vs the world point of view. In relation to the competition, this can be a useful thing, for the corporation itself, but also for the potential consumer; each firm is trying hard to differentiate itself, make stuff better, cooler, quicker etc.

But…

Business is hard to do really well

I mean, there’s a lot of competitors, or folk who can potentially compete.

It’s hard to have something different enough in good ways that folk want to buy it. It takes a hell of a lot of time, luck, ideas, failures and mistakes to get to the point where you can be a decent player in a market.

Assuming you’ve managed to get to a certain size, you can probably as a business keep things ticking over. Odds are, your competitors are pretty large and mature corporations like yours, and you regularly exchange staff. So as a senior executive, it’s relatively straight-forward. Follow the trends, copy the competition. Re-brand.

But if you’ve got a power position as a senior exec, you start thinking of your own status. You could have a nicer car, a bigger house, more wealth, increased social status. You want a photo article in a trade magazine, you want a f*cking knighthood, you desire acceptance from the other societies – media, royalty, the best restaurants. It’s not enough to know Molly at the corner cafe, you want to get the best table at Gordon Ramsey’s place. It’s not even enough to be entertained at York races, it needs to be Royal Ascot. The incentives are there to be bigger, better, faster.

This is hard to achieve. Real, genuine, status improving change and improvement are really difficult – you can go a whole career without launching a product that creates that. So you look elsewhere – where can the growth of the corporation (and implicitly your status) be accelerated?

The execs look around, and realise that the problem isn’t the team, it’s the playing field. It’s restricted in size by rules and regulations, by borders.

Regulations are what other folk have put in place to ensure that everyone behaves themselves. I like this definition by Michael Hudson.

Regulation: From semantic roots meaning to rule. A ruler or government sets rules for the economy, creating a regulatory system that, in principle, is supposed to maximize welfare and prosperity. Every economy and society is regulated in one form or another. In practice, deregulation by government relinquishes the regulatory power to the financial and property sector – primarily finance in today’s world. Although this mode of regulation tends to be more centralized than public regulation, it has much narrower goals (rewarding rentiers, with the effect of polarizing society). Advocates of regulation of the economy by the FIRE sector call it deregulation.

You have to pay folk at least this much, and provide a pension, and pay tax (your staff and customers need hospitals, police, sewers, ports, roads, education for which the corporation is supposed to contribute). The regulations are there so you don’t upset other folk doing their business, and don’t hurt people, and don’t leave a stinking mess behind..

This is a bit of a pain for the corporate execs. All this stuff restricts your ability to make a name for yourself and improve your status. However, if they could only get the regulations changed or removed, then whole new ways of “demonstrating improved performance”, and hence, improving your status and rewards are available.

You can drive down wages, cut pensions, make your human capital work longer, harder, for less. It probably won’t help to innovate, but it’ll make what you already do look cheaper, which might improve turnover and profits in the short-term. that’s a serious win.

Or, maybe you could alter the regulations that state what quality and type of goods or services you could sell? – Bingo – new markets.

Or maybe you could then sell these into another country? Especially one that doesn’t have as much competition, especially if it doesn’t have as much regulation.

Or maybe, you could persuade a country to reduce the “tax burden” on the business, or failing that, shift the tax burden to another nation entirely.

In order to do any of this, you’d need to persuade the government of the absolute need to do this. You’d also need to get support from your industry regulator, your corporate financiers. This is hard work – but if you do it right it’s more likely to yield returns that blindly trying to develop stuff that people want.

And importantly, the long-view doesn’t matter. Achieve 4,5 quarters of record turnover, record profits, and then maybe capitalise on your credentials and get another role elsewhere. Boom – another step-change in wealth, income, status.

I reckon it’s worth a note here about the middlemen. These are the other corporates, desperately looking for new markets, new revenue streams. Chief among these would be your friendly auditors and bankers, happy enough to take a few quid for the advertised service, but realising that they’re in a privileged position, and with their own army of senior execs trying to improve their own status. And they’re just that little bit closer to the regulators, so there’s a real chance they can help swing it for you – for a fee. They become advisors, middlemen. They encourage the execs to bid for other corporations, which means you can double your status in one go, and boost your (and their) wealth in the process. And they pay the think-tanks and provide “studies” that demonstrate that this is what’s needed, and the press helpfully print it all, so the politicians have an easy ride.

For every goal, there’s an academic theory that fits – here various economists have obliged with important seeming analyses and interpretations that can be used to provide the infrastructure to legitimise the process. Free markets are better, barriers to entry are bad, the market can provide everything, efficiently, which is better for everyone. Conveniently here, they assume away the bits of economics mentioned above about how corporations tend not to work too well (for society) without regulation.

And as business becomes more complicated, then the regulators need to understand it better. So the corporate execs get jobs as regulators. But crucially, they’re still tainted by the culture that nurtured them as successful executives. They’re more sympathetic to the markets they’re supposed to regulate, they’re not considering the social impacts, the societal effects, the long-view.

And this is where we ended up. The regulations were re-written. The social contracts torn-up. Governments of professional politicians have fallen over themselves to flatter the “business leaders”, and draft the laws, and create the trade agreements, in order to give the corporate executives what they needed.

The regulatory bodies living at arm’s length from government, the watchdogs, the standard setters, the consumer protectors, have all been populated with the spawn of corporate hierarchies, and still have the same goals, the same shared learning and culture. They have ceased to question.

And so, the educators, the protectors, the governors, all fall in line with the corporate execs, there’s no thought for the society at large, there’s no consideration of the future. We need growth, profits, GDP, not at some distant time, but now. It doesn’t matter if nothing is achieved, if the “Product” of GDP is just a pot of debt accumulated by the folk of the land, if the tax-attracting wealth is off-shored, screw it.

That ugly beast we created, the corporation, has self-replicated, and thrown off the responsibilities of being a member of society, it has become a sprawling, confused monster, where the head doesn’t recognise the tail, where it cares not for the filth and destitution that it sees around it.

 

We created the monster – and we must understand that it’s not its own fault – it’s not necessarily the fault of “capitalism”. It’s a basic well understood and totally manageable flaw in the nature of (some) folk, and how the firm evolves. And the regulations were there as a muzzle on the bite of the monster. There’s no perfect system of managing and controlling our dealings with each other, this one’s as good as any, but only when the rules are in place. We haven’t changed the rules to allow folk to hurt and intimidate each other, but somehow we allowed the rules to be changed so that corporations can hurt us.

But corporations are just folk, mostly decent ones, trying to do stuff for other folk. Unfortunately corporations also serve as a vehicle for social status, and in that, they bring out the worst in some folk.

And I write this in the hope that some of you who read it might for once ignore the red team/ blue team split, and think twice about what we are as a species, and ask the politicians why we let the monster off the leash, why behaviour that would be unacceptable in the street is ok in the world of trade and business.

(ps – it seems to me that the more the folk in the savage head of the monster, the senior execs, ignore the mess around them, which is the lot of normal, well-balanced folk in the rump, then the monster will have to consume itself, or maybe that’s taking an analogy too far, which I’m very prone to do).

 

Further reading / viewing

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/06/money-bought-elections-us-donation-rules

The Corporation – a video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y888wVY5hzw

 

 

 

Labour must forget ‘austerity’ and offer a vision of a more equal society…

What Labour Should Do ...

If Labour have designs on representing those who crave a more equal society then they ought to be aware of the huge elephant in the room … Labour support for Osborne’s ‘Austerity Agenda’ .

Let’s begin by pointing people in the direction of the evidence. It quickly becomes apparent, once you examine Britain’s previous levels of debt, that there is no need for austerity, it’s an ideological attempt to shrink the state and in doing so punish the poorest people in our society for the crimes of those in the City of London who gambled, ‘crashed the economy’ and were bailed out by Gordon Brown and the Labour government.

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 11.54.30Anyone who has read Naomi Klein’s superb ‘Shock Treatment’ will recognise that the signs were there from the moment Osborne killed a recovery dead in the water by warning that Britain, a sovereign country with its own currency, was in danger of becoming ‘another Greece’. The…

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Oblomov III returns from the wild frontier

I can’t keep my trap shut any longer.

So for a few months you get your head down, get things done, teach your children. And around you events unfold, things take shape in the mists, patterns emerge, and (as ever) if only for the sake of my own sanity, but also for the sake of sharing, I can’t keep things to myself any more.

We’ve seen global forces at work, with the neo-liberals of all shades starting wars, picking winners and losers, apparently based on what wealth can be appropriated from this nation or that, now or in the future. Beggar the populous. But just maybe, overall, it’s good for us. 

And then there’s the economics.

Maybe the best thing that can happen is that we decimate a public service, break the will of the users and workers, and privatise it, because ultimately that makes everything better and nothing worse.

And free markets (who doesn’t approve of freedom and choice), except they’re rigged and nobody told you, but that’s alright cos that’s animal spirits and entrepreneurialism, and if it’s wrong then the folk involved might get told off.

And loading individuals with debt for their education, their transport, their shelter, so there’s always a rent to pay. We all understand that. We all want to get stuff, and don’t mind working hard to achieve it. So maybe that’s the best way to do things.

 

If all these things were of a benefit to us they’d have a ton of evidence (both financial and anecdotal) to prove it.

And the population of these countries would be better off, and would know it, and feel it. We’d revel in the security with improved productivity and creativity. The infrastructure (roads, rails, ports, power, sewers, hospitals, social care systems, parks, museums), would be in the best state ever. The environmental challenges facing us all would be understood, and we would have the joy of creating the great technologies and innovations that can help us and the planet through them. And the opportunities for our children would be better than ours, and they and we would see that, and they would feel proud of their parents, their nation and we’d all erect statues of Friedman, Reinhart & Rogoff.

And if all this made the world better, the media would actively seek to get under the bonnet, understand the successes and failures, and discuss them in detail so that we may all have a better understanding of how we, the people, changed things for the better.

 

I don’t see that do you?

I think it’s pretty obvious to everybody that life for most people is actually a bit worse, or a lot worse. And for various reasons (state pressure, owner pressure, incompetence, bias, Stockholm syndrome) the media are very selective about how they show this, and so for most of us, we know things are bad, but we have to take the expert opinions on-board. We look to our opposition parties, who all want slightly more of the medicine, or slightly less of the medicine, or a cheaper medicine, so we conclude that the patient is sick and the doctors are doing their best. But we don’t get to ask if it’s an illness or poison.

And we are taking the poison. Every day. And the doses are getting bigger.

What I’m trying to say, really, is STOP. Have a think about our perilous, tiny existence. 

What do we, COLLECTIVELY, want to get out of this life, for us, and for the future generations of us, and other species?

Because, if we don’t know what a good outcome looks like, then we can’t challenge our systems and structures, and we can’t question our leaders and their media orators on the really important stuff. And while ever we don’t understand that, the poison keeps being administered. I don’t know if we’re doing it consciously or accidentally, but the point being, WE ARE THE PATIENT.

The recovery is a long road, but relatively painless, but we need to stop taking the poison, start being our own physician, and we start with understanding, and work our way up individually, because even the villainous hate figures (take your pick) at the heads of Govts, parties, NGOs, they’re all just folk too, and I reckon we’re smarter than them. Well, you are.

 

 

 

(apologies for the complete lack of structure, narrative framework etc – you can tell I haven’t written anything in ages, but I hope you’ll forgive me)