Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine
"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."

Friday, 30 December 2011

The Elderly are People too

A sharp, above inflation rise in the cost of non-residential care has occurred within the last 12 months making home care less affordable for an increasing number of vulnerable adults. Local councils are responsible for price setting on home-care, meals-on-wheels services and staff transport costs – all of which have risen drastically.

Surveys also show that prices differ markedly from area to area, creating yet another postcode lottery.

So while council chiefs still rake in huge salaries and benefit from lavish privileges – the vulnerable suffer again. And although George Osborne promised an extra £2 billion to help with elderly care, H of C analysis shows that £1.3 billion has been removed from councils’ spending on help for elderly since the coalition came to power, which puts sending £1 million-a-time cruise missiles to help topple Gaddafi into perspective, ay?

And earlier in the week we leaned that half of the over 75's are living own their own, with only a quarter of them receiving weekly visits – underlining the importance of non-residential care all the more.

Those whose health rapidly declines because of insufficient care will more than likely end up in hospital, and even then there’s no certainty they’ll be washed, fed or even given water! Besides, people want to live in their own homes, and the elderly are people too.

So is it surprising to hear that there has been a steep increase in the number of over-65′s found to be exceeding the recommended units of alcohol per week? Not really. Who isn’t being driven to drink nowadays?

“No Doctor – it’s My Back that Hurts!”

A new initiative that is set to be published on the 10th January will encourage medical practitioners to enquire into a patients eating, drinking and smoking habits even when they have booked an appointment about a totally unrelated issue in a “make every contact count” policy.

The initiative will apply not only to doctors, but will be extended to nurses, physiotherapists, midwives and pharmacists. The idea has been welcomed with open arms by most in the medical profession.

One argument on why a podiatrist should impart advice on the dangers of smoking, for instance, is that if that patient has diabetes, smoking can make the diabetes worse and heighten the risk of having a foot amputated.

Makes sense – but where would it stop?

Should a man visiting a doctor about high cholesterol be given advice on gambling addiction because gambling debts have adverse mental affects which could lead to over-indulging in foods or alcohol by way of comforting oneself?

Probably not now gambling advertising bombards our airwaves incessantly.

Moreover, this initiative seems to presume that there is a high proportion of the population who are unaware that excessive drinking, eating and smoking is bad for one’s health. I find this hard to believe. The majority who are risking their health in such ways are doing so regardless of the health concerns.

This is the real issue.

Instead of improving the overall health of our nation, it is more likely that the “make every contact count” policy will compound the general feeling of state interference into people’s personal lives and deter them from seeking genuinely required medical advice. “I already know I drink too much, smoke too much and eat too many fatty foods… Oh – I don’t want to get told off! I think I’ll just weather these back spasms, see if they go…”

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

The Season of Goodwill

Quite how long Cameron can pretend that the Tottenham riots, and similar events, are the responsibility of a small criminal element within society - rather than a substantial element that represents the nation's dark underbelly - is yet to be seen. However, some events over the Christmas period will make this imagery increasingly more difficult to sustain.

Although not the most serious incident, the mass brawl during a midnight mass by churchgoers at St Edmund's church in Southampton was perhaps the best indication of how far a bullying government, rather than one that tries to bring the nation together during these difficult times, has infected society. The stabbing and death of a teenager in Oxford Street, during the sales, resulted from rival gangs shop lifting at the same store was only surprising because it occurred during daylight - but followed a norm to which we now have become, sadly, accustomed. However, it was the shooting in the head, by a teenager, of an Indian student in Manchester, who had come here to study at Lancashire University that is likely to trouble Cameron the most.

Having removed the prospect of a university education from the ambitions of many British students, his plans to sell these places to the rich parents of overseas students is likely to suffer if there are too many repeats of this type of incident. Rich overseas parents value the lives of their children and if the imagery of Britain being a safe place to study continues to be undermined - he might find that these places are not filled and is obliged to offer them at 'knock down' prices to British students.

The government does seem to be unable to acknowledge that forcing unpopular measures onto the people in difficult times is not the way forward - measures that bring the people together is what are required. Unpopular measures are the certain way of ensuring civil unrest and increasingly darker crimes. The youngest in society if left unemployed and without hope of a decent future are the most likely to rebel. Those approaching middle age or retirement are far less likely to vent their fury against the government, or turn to crime as, apart from having less energy, they are the groups most likely to accept adverse changes and soldier on because they have have families, homes and a position in society - all of which are in jeopardy should they be convicted of any crime.

The unemployed young, in contrast, are far less likely to have anything that they value above their future. Apart from allowing the young to squander that time in their lives when long-term goals are being established, and difficult to redirect at a later stage, should opportunities arise. Cameron is set on a course of wrecking many millions of young lives before they have began, by not treating their plight as his priority.

Unfortunately, we become increasingly aware that his paymasters are the global corporations and these do not want to employ British youngsters whose background is rooted in years of employment law that oblige employers to treat their staff fairly. The global corporations want employees who are desperate for a job and will accept harsh treatment - so immigrants, either from one of the ex communist countries of the EU or a developing or third world country are much preferred. Also, by leaving British youth unemployed no doubt there is an expectation, that in time, they too will significantly reduce their career expectations and be as desperate for a job as the immigrants and, similarly, will learn to be grateful to their employer.

Although this may be the case for a significant number, it seems unlikely that the majority will, but instead gradually evolve into hardened political activists and join the 'Occupy Wall Street' protest movement. They will be determined that the indigenous people are not treated so shabbily in the future. Unlike the protestors in the US, who have their own unique difficulties, our membership of the EU restricts a similar movement developing here as has been shown by the 'Occupy' camp outside St Paul's Cathedral. Whilst members, workers from the EU countries can come here and fill vacant jobs, thereby undermining such a movements impact.

This is also the case for the UK's open policy of immigration. Apart from seeming an economic madness to allow immigrants into the country to do jobs that British youngsters could be trained to do - thereby reducing both the numbers unemployed and the amount paid out in benefit - this policy also undermines the potency of the 'Occupy' movement. It might be that many of the jobs available presently are not seen as an acceptable career to the British young. However, if the employers could not call on desperate immigrant labour, they would have to improve the terms conditions and provide a career path if they are to fill these jobs.

For Cameron, leaving the EU would fly in the face of the desires of his 'Corporate' paymasters and his economic strategy, of encouraging these global giants to sight the EU operations here, would be in tatters.

It seems certain that significant conflict is ahead. It remains to be seen if his carefully constructed police state is strong enough to contain the building outrage, that seems certain, in the coming years.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

We Need a Heavy Cull of UK Politicians!

As the dust settles on last week's EU event, the underlying causes for the actions of the leading players in the drama becomes clear. Easiest to understand, from our ambitious politician's point of view, is the change in support for the parties since 'The Happening'.

Until last week, and for many months, Labour had been showing a lead in the polls sometimes with a predicted 60 seat majority. This lead has now evaporated and a hung Parliament is predicted with Labour two seats short of a majority.

Simon Jenkins in the Guardian describes Nick Clegg's dilemma in graphic terms: 'Nick Clegg's finger cannot have hovered long over his suicide belt at the weekend. He could have blasted the coalition to smithereens and forced a general election. But that would have blown David Cameron back to power and left the Liberal Democrats in a pool of blood on the pavement.'

David Cameron's hands were also tied, he could not afford to sign up to the proposed treaty changes as he knew that this would lead to a referendum, as this course has now been enshrined in law, whenever it is proposed that further powers are passed to Brussels.

There is a clear majority against our membership of the EU and any suggestion that more powers should be transferred to Brussels would be greeted with a firm 'No' from the electorate. In itself this would not have been a disaster for Cameron, but, he knew once the door had been opened to referenda, he would have great difficulty in preventing the, once promised, referendum on our membership.

Cameron does want to be in the EU, his and Osborne's economic strategy is based on encouraging global corporations to base their European operation's in the UK, this of course would not be possible if we do not have access to the single market and their economic strategy would be in ruins. However, he does want to reduce the extent to which we are 'run by the EU' and would like to have some powers returned.

Ed Milliband, as an enthusiastic EU supporter, also had a difficult hand to play. Knowing that the majority are against our membership, he was treading on dangerous ground because he was opening himself up to the question 'what would you have done in the same circumstance - signed up to the German proposals? Since this was the only real alternative, his condemnation of the Prime Minister's actions put him the wrong side of public opinion and explains the Party's reversal of fortunes in the polls.

So, we might have expected that a new path had been determined, with Cameron siding with his, mostly eurosceptic, MPs and pressing for a new deal with the EU which included the repatriation of, at least, some powers - but no, instead we find, if the usually reliable Benedict Brogan is right, suggesting in the Telegraph that Sarkozy's hard line with Cameron was primarily 'a political stunt engineered by Mr Sarkozy to save himself from defeat in the French elections next year'! Also that Cameron's new priority is to sooth the rankled feelings of his Lib/Dem coalition partners by rebuilding relationships within the EU, so that he can concentrate on his main priority of saving the UK economy.

Brogan also predicts that ratification of the German plan 'looks doubtful for at least half a dozen EU member states' as 'Countries that initially backed [the plan] are beginning to have second thoughts. The idea of a German - enforced austerity has made even resolute Europeans nervous'.

So, instead of a clear direction we are, once again, left with the euro teetering on the brink of collapse and the predicted looming global financial crisis with its unnamed, but horrific consequences. Nick Clegg's political career looks over, because of his 'Cameron's poodle' image and Chris Huhne seems to booked his place as Clegg's successor, because of his, well leaked, defiance to Cameron at yesterday's cabinet meeting.

Am I alone in thinking that national politicians should make every effort to sit down together and hammer out an agreed policy at this time of national emergency and not use it for personal or party political gain? Also, that they should remember that they are the representatives of the electorate and their views should be at the heart of their decisions taken.

Based on Monday's Prime Ministers questions in the Commons, we must believe that amongst those juveniles performing, there were those who would have signed up to Merkel's plans to subjugate the nation to German dominance, effectively remove all democratic rights from the people and ensure the nation's rapid economic decline.

What dreadful sin have the British committed to be cursed with such wretches for politicians in such predominance?

Monday, 5 December 2011

O death, where is thy sting?

It might be thought that Cameron, given the many difficult and unresolved issues he is presently facing, would be eager to avoid any more contentious issues at the present time. However, this is not the case, he seems determined to press ahead with his plans to open up the NHS to private healthcare. This plan is contentious in itself, but it is likely to raise objections - even the most Thatcherite of Tories may bulk at sharing NHS records with drug companies.

It is a continuing source of wonder that the Coalition, never having been given a mandate from the electorate, is prepared to make so many structural changes to the nation's affairs and in the case of the NHS, one of great unpopularity. Earlier in the year, research showed that the vast majority do not support Cameron's plans to reform the NHS, with two thirds believing the Tories wish is for full privatisation - this is opposed by a ratio of 10 to 1!

Perhaps the most telling fact arising from the research is that very nearly two thirds, of those polled, believed that Cameron's primary motive is a desire to benefit business rather than patients - that is to say, his reforms are nothing less than a cynical attempt to reward those who back his Party - rather than concern for patient's wellbeing.

It does seem that, yet again, the root of the problem is that a political parties is not prepared to be honest with the people. The truth is that a nation, with huge debts and no real prospect of standards of living rising in the foreseeable future, cannot afford to provide the same level of health care, or other public services, as it could in more affluent times - in fact quite the reverse is true when our standards of living are falling.

This fear of honesty misjudges the stoicism of the people generally - particularly those having the lowest incomes. They are used to having to face the harsh realities of life, unlike the cosseted political class who are far more sensitive to minor losses of comfort. Providing that the cuts to NHS services are approached with intelligence and fairness, a people, knowing that savings must be made, will accept reductions - but not if any one group is clearly being advantaged at the expense of another.

Even before the current financial crisis, there were health services provided that were more questionably, the responsibility of the taxpayer to provide, than others. Perhaps foremost in this class were those services which were required to treat acts of self abuse. Included here might be illnesses that arise from obesity caused by the simple refusal to take sufficient exercise, illnesses related to smoking and drug taking along with the abuse of alcohol.

Provided that an informative public campaign had been undertaken to warn of the dangers of such behaviour, it is more difficult to justify asking the taxpayers to pay for any expensive treatment required as a result of ignoring this advice at a time when the level of service has to be reduced. Clearly the provision of, relatively inexpensive, pain killers is acceptable, but expensive procedures, unless there is unused capacity, cannot be justified if they deny the treatment of patients who have become ill through no fault of their own.

If the private sector is to be used, it can be used to provide health insurance to pay for additional treatments that are not provided by the NHS. Alternatively, the wealthier can pay for these treatments directly. By approaching the cuts required in the funding of the NHS in this way, an affordable service, free at the point of use, can be made available. Such an approach would be best made without making any significant changes to the 'commissioning procedure' as it is important to make single changes, and to find out their effect, before adding complexities that will distort the impact of the primary change.

Many issues that relate to healthcare impinge directly on our current view of death. In times of greater spirituality, when the general view was that some form of existence continued after death, this event was not kept so well hidden as it was not viewed with such dread. However, when so many of the population believe that nothing follows death - it is unsurprising that it is kept so far into the background. It is for this reason that our health service is used to extend the life of those who can and never will be able to have a meaningful life and are often condemned to continuing an empty existence more for the sake of their loved ones rather than for the benefit of those so stricken.

If the state has limited funds, and the current and continuing decline in the nation's wealth means that we cannot provide such a high level of state funded healthcare, surely the practice of extending those lives that, for all intent are over, has to be examined carefully - better this than denying treatment to those whose lives can be returned to a meaningful existence.

Viewing these sensitive and disagreeable subjects does go to the very heart of Cameron's justification for privatising at least parts of the NHS. When this subject is broached he often portrays the extra money supplied by corporations as a resource used to develop new drugs and treatments to that will continue to raise life expectancy - when the truth is, probably, that human life, free of life threatening diseases, has a natural active span that no amount of scientific research will be able to extend materially.

History tells us that many people in the past lived long lives, this was due to avoidance of life threatening diseases and work related activities that cut lives short. Now that many of these diseases can be cured and legislation has generally removed the threat to life in the workplace - there is little likelihood of average life spans increasing a great deal more.

It is Cameron's pretence that the scientific community will be able to extend life markedly that justifies many of his reasons for wishing to use private companies in the provision of NHS healthcare - and of course his justification for extending retirement age and increasing pension contributions in the public sector.

At a time when the global population has passed seven billion, when precious resources are increasingly difficult to find and, as a Nation, we are finding it difficult to provide jobs, homes and support for our existing population - should we really be making any further attempts to extend the current life expectancy?

Saturday, 19 November 2011

At last some clarity - well at least the battle lines have been drawn!

After many months of uncertainty, we are able to see how much has been achieved by the continual threat of a global financial meltdown predicted if the Eurozone crisis was not resolved. It has resulted in an outright victory for global capitalism and its relatively few beneficiaries.

Rather than challenge the system that enables global financiers to hold a pistol to the heads of democratically elected governments, the way has been cleared for the extraordinarily rich to dictate to the people's representatives what they can or cannot do - and we still do not know if those dire predictions were contrived or a true reflection of the likely outcome of a break up of the Eurozone.

What can be said is that political commentary can once again resume, after what seems an eternity, where resolution of the Eurozone crisis dwarfed virtually all other political activity - the problem may not have been resolved - but the issues are now quite clear.

Yesterday's meeting and subsequent press conference between Cameron and Merkel demonstrated that the German desire to oblige the Eurozone members to tighten their belts and apply fierce austerity measures to their ailing economies, rather than devalue the euro through 'quantitative easing', has succeeded. The change of leaders in both Italy and Greece was the first sign of this success and Merkel's clear rejection of Cameron's wish for the ECB to manage the euro, as national banks do for their currencies, and her insistence that the Eurozone leaders would be the group who would dictate future EU policy has made her victory complete.

This victory has put an end to the comfortable 'muddling through' approach that successive UK leaders have applied to our membership of the EU, whereby all options could be left open. Cameron is now faced with having to choose between being outside the central core of the Union, without influence, or to re-arrange our relationship with the EU to one that directly reflects the actuality. Time will tell what Cameron decides, but since his declared strategy, of returning powers to the UK from Brussels in exchange for agreement to Treaty changes, is in tatters - his choices have become extremely limited.

Since there is little doubt that the Tory's Coalition partners the Lib/Dems, will insist on staying as close to the centre of the EU as possible - leaving open the choice of our joining the Eurozone as soon as this is practicable, it seems the final outcome will be determined by Labour, for Cameron will not be able to achieve a majority at Westminster for any renegotiation that includes returning powers from Brussels without the help of Labour - or, at least, the help of a sizeable bunch of Labour rebels.

In recent times, there would have been no doubt that any Labour leader would have supported staying as close to the centre of the EU as possible, however, the events of the last week have demonstrated that this position is no longer tenable. Like the Tories, Labour is likely to have to decide whether the Party's long-term aim is to join the Euro, thereby obtaining influence and a seat at the top table or to contemplate a future at arms length from the Union. Since any clear action that implies that it is Labour's intention to join the Eurozone in the long-term is likely to damage its electoral chances - it seems that a problem that was solely Cameron's at the beginning of the week is likely to rapidly become one for the Labour leadership too.

Time is not on his side. Merkel has declared her intention to press ahead with the tax on financial transactions, in John Major's words - a heat-seeking missile aimed at the heart of the City of London. If this tax is introduced and Cameron has not been able to take decisive action with regard to a re-arrangement of our relationship with the EU he will have lost completely. Who knows Merkel may even insist that Clegg, as a declared Europhile, should take over the premiership to prepare us for entry into the Eurozone.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Let's have a fortress Britain - protected from Global Corporations!

The revelation, yesterday, that ninety eight of the companies comprising the FTSE 100 have subsidiaries located in tax havens has surely put the final nail in the coffin of this government's determination to view these global corporations as the saviours of the UK economy. Not only have corporation and personal tax rates been kept low for these global players, but it is clear these havens are being used to avoid paying tax on all profits earned.

The major issues, where this and the previous government have been out of step with the wishes of the people, are rooted in the desire to have these companies site their EU headquarters in the UK.

Firstly, our membership of the EU itself, supported by successive governments, is necessary if these companies are to use the UK as their base for EU operations.

Secondly, the introduction of more lax immigration rules, by Blair, from both within and outside the EU was to give these companies the freedom to employ, here, anyone they chose from throughout the world - whether this was skilled, but compliant, staff from insecure or unstable regimes like Pakistan, cheap and willing manual labour from Poland or simply the executives who run these corporations.

Thirdly, Osborne's clear desire to keep corporation tax and personal tax rates low for the highest earners is to provide the greatest incentive for these corporations to base their operations, here, and to encourage them to stay.

Fourthly, Cameron's clear objective to privatise as much of the NHS and other key public services as possible and to reduce, as far as he can, the services provided by the State is aimed at providing more commercial opportunities for these global corporations.

In short our membership of the EU, high levels of immigration - that has had a marked impact on unemployment, overcrowding and impossible demands on public services - and low tax receipts from the highest earning companies and individuals are all the result of government's desire to court these most ruthless of global business giants.

It does appear that Osborne's only concerns, as Chancellor, are to create the best conditions, in the UK, for these monsters and to ensure that the maximum taxes are levied on and the most minimal public services are provided to the people of these islands.

Already, there have been a number of instances where those corporations, who provided the greatest campaign funds to the Tories, have benefitted from these policies - as have business groups closely connected to cabinet ministers. It does not seem to be an over-statement to assert that UK politics has become the, virtual, exclusive domain of global capitalism and that the people's interests and wellbeing - incidental issues.

Certainly since WW2, the nature of UK politics has been that the Tories, known to support and be supported by businesses, would be in power for a while and introduce changes that favoured this section of society, however, this would be followed a Labour government who would overturn the most excessive of this legislation and introduce new laws that favoured the those on lower incomes.

The government's of Blair and Brown [New Labour] had shifted the Party closer to the centre as it was believed that this was the only way they could return to office after 18 years of Tory rule. In this process these Labour leaders became just as closely entangled with the world of corporate greed as their opponents and are unable to shake off this connection.

Although Ed Milliband has attempted to return the Party to the left through reconnecting with the Trade Union movement, since the Trade Unions are primarily concerned with their members pay and conditions and that their membership has seriously declined since the '80's - it is unlikely that, should they be returned to power at the next general election, that they will reverse the fundamental changes that have and are being introduced by the Coalition.

There is little doubt that, in the lead up to the nest general election, the Tories will continually remind the electorate that the dreadful state of the UK economy and the austerity measures they were obliged to introduce were all the result of Labour's gross mismanagement of the economy.

Coupled to this will be the new boundary changes that favour the Tories, alongside their plan to require the electorate to register in order to vote, will hit the Labour Party far harder than the Tories or the Liberal Democrats. So, although Labour have a healthy lead in the polls, at present, it is far from certain that they will be returned to power in the foreseeable future - even if they did plan to reverse those laws that fundamentally favour the global corporations.

It is only those who are retired or are in sight of retirement that know what a fine place Britain was, for all, in the years following WW2. This was as a result of the health, education and welfare reforms introduced by Clement Attlee's post war government. It saw the establishment of the NHS and many other welfare programs, also a huge house building program that provided excellent homes for the vast majority.

This was social democracy at its best, a system that has been retained by many European nations, and that has ensured decent lives for the vast majority. However, the corruption of the Labour Party has significantly reduced the likelihood that these advantages will be retained, but instead, the Tories look set to succeed in reversing all of these gains and, if we want to know what this will mean - we need only to see the fate of our American cousins and the hopelessness of the lives of those not needed by Corporate America.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Global Capitalism - No Trickle Down - But an Upwards Flood!

We have come to a time of significance when an ex Telegraph editor questions whether the left is right about capitalism. Charles Moore followed up his article in the Telegraph with an appearance on Newsnight, where he discussed the impact of the economic policies being pursued by the government.

It is clear that he remains convinced that the over-riding justification for capitalism, for those on lower incomes, is that wealth trickles down to the poorest. However, he acknowledges that, through globalization, this is no longer the case - in truth we now have an 'upwards flood' of wealth to a very small group of obscenely wealthy.

Viewing this purely in terms of capitalism, it can be said that it is an extremely valuable concept in the development of modern civilizations, but it has its limits. When John Sainsbury opened a grocery store in Holborn in 1869 it gave him a way to provide for his family and also supply the local people with, we must presume, good quality provisions at a reasonable price - two admirable outcomes.

As the store grew in popularity more staff were needed, which provided a living for those employed and this increased as the range of products grew. However, the point at which general benefit started to wane was when a second shop was opened. Had this not been the case, we must presume, that a different family would have developed a shop, copying the Sainsbury's innovations, and they instead would have flourished in the new location instead of the Sainsbury family.

Both would have employed local staff, providing livings for these families, but instead of the Sainsbury family becoming increasingly richer than their neighbours, had they stopped at one shop [along with all their competitors] the business of grocery would be one that provided a good living for thousands of families throughout the UK. Also, without the development of 'limited liability' all of these families would have probably remained self-employed people with a ratio of employees to employers of between 1-50 to 1.

Had this been the case it would have reflected the natural grouping of we, Homo sapiens, from our earliest time, for it has been noted by anthropologists that once a group of humans reached around 50 individuals, it divided. It seems that natural leaders occur at around 1 in 50 and that we, as a species, are most comfortable in groups of this size because it appears to be the limit of our capacity for individual relationships. Certainly my experiences as an employee bore this out - organisations employing less than 50 were far more cohesive.

Clearly, for the purpose of distributing food, separately owned shops throughout the land are able to provide this function. In any area, because of capitalism, there would be a handful that were best at this activity and would survive - whilst the worst would go to the wall. However, if this where the case - instead of the members of the Sainsbury's family being fabulously wealthy and the vast majority of families whose main bread winner is its employee, by comparison, being extremely poor - the income of the highest paid working in this industrial sector would probably not be more than four times the lowest - the maximum differential recommended by Plato to avoid civil unrest.

The result of Sainsbury's and the other grocery stores, who have now become global corporations, integrating both vertically and horizontally, is that we have reached a point where they, as with global corporations from other sectors, are more powerful than the governments of nations. From a UK prospectus the government is cowed by these giants and cannot significantly raise the rate of tax on the highest earners or increase corporation tax - the two most obvious measures available for them to redistribute wealth - for fear of them relocating their operations to a country with a more favourable tax regime with a consequential loss of jobs and government income.

It is already becoming clear that the number of global corporations are reducing through the weakest being taken over by the strongest, and it is reasonable to expect if this continues - certainly in the West that there will be, perhaps, less than 100 global corporations who account for virtually all trade and virtually everyone will be their employees. This would lead to just a few percent of the people owning virtually all assets and wealth with just another small section, their key employees and servile politicians, being the few with any noticeable wealth. The nation state would continue to decline in influence in comparison to these global monsters as we have seen recently in the US, as a result of Republican plotting.

Oddly, if things are allowed to continue on this path, we will have, effectively, returned to feudal times. Great estates, not being won through violence, but by economic warfare. If this does occur, we can expect to return to a world of similar inhumane practices for there is no compassion within commerce.

It would not be difficult for a government to start a program to gradually reduce the influence of these corporations - although the longer it is left the more difficult it becomes. However, it would require a political party whose leaders cannot be tempted by offers of wealth and power from these corporations and an electorate who were not bewitched by the dark arts of the advertising industry. The former may be difficult to find, but, as things continue to decline for the majority, an ever increasing number will be demanding action to improve the people's lot - unless they just content themselves with rioting and looting!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

What a fine mess we are in!

Those wishing to see a redistribution of wealth from the richest to the poorest, as opposed to the reverse - the certain outcome of the Coalition's policies - would be better placed if they recognized that the influence of the global free market, in the UK, prevents this and ensures that the gap between the richest and poorest continues its rapid growth.

It is possible to discuss the impact of this on an ever increasing number of groups and imagine that these effects can be somehow be ameliorated, but despite George Osborne's insistence that social problems cannot be solved by 'throwing money at them', if the underlying problem is that an increasing number of individuals do not have sufficient income to purchase the goods and services to enable them to live a half decent life - the only solution is to find some way to increase their spending power and this costs money. This problem is becoming worse and is unlikely to improve in the foreseeable future.

Osborne's excuse that 'if throwing money at the problem were the answer - it would have been solved by Labour' on the grounds that this was exactly what they did, however, cannot be true. It has been demonstrated all too frequently since the Coalition has come to power, that the government's of Blair and Brown were simply appalling and must be viewed as the worst in living memory if not longer. They have left the nation with so many intractable problems and no money with which to solve them - even if many of the leading figures may have achieved their true aim!

The riots exposed the dark underbelly of the nation which has virtually destroyed Cameron's plan to sell Britain as a quaint land with a Queen living in her palace and a fairy tale prince and princess - where crime is so mild that the British bobbies can police the nation unarmed. The image that Cameron wished to portray has been completely demolished and there is little likelihood of it being reconstructed and rightly so because it was sheer fantasy.

Unlike Greece, whose rioters were against a government trying to rapidly install, impossible to achieve, austerity measures, because they attacked the very fabric of Greek culture - our most recent crop of rioters are not trying to influence politicians, they have gone beyond believing that they will help in anyway. A poll in June showed that only 14% trusted politicians just to tell the truth, so it is unsurprising that so many do not believe they will help in these troubling times.

So the worst riots here in living memory, although sparked by the apparent accidental killing by the police of an innocent young black man, were not an attempt to change government policy, but simply to obtain consumer goods that the mainly black unemployed youths knew they could not obtain by legitimate means. Cameron refuses to accept that there is any connection between these acts and deprivation and clearly intends to use increasingly harsh sanctions against any repeat occurrences and has the backing of a frightened nation - 33% of whom would be happy to see live ammunition used by the police!

Clearly if Cameron does not deny a link between the rioting and deprivation he is obliged to spend money to help the poorest in society, because maintaining law and order is a primary role of any government. He cannot confirm the obvious because, in so doing, he would undermine Osborne's deficit reduction plan so he is obliged to continue to deny any causal link.

Meanwhile, Osborne is busy trying to create a haven for global corporations to site their European operations here by keeping personal and corporation tax low - the most obvious sources for extra government income. He is clearly hoping to be able to scrap the 50% rate of tax introduced by Labour for the highest earners on the lame excuse that it costs more to collect than will be collected. If he is successful it will be yet another measure that contributes to the increasing gap between rich and poor.

Cameron is facing the likelihood of increasingly impossible circumstances ahead, as the austerity measures fully bite. These are likely to see more public unrest from those who still believe that politicians can and will act in the interest of the people. The police clearly have the upper hand in their dispute over the cut of 20% in their budget which no US Supercop will be able to resolve and only the most optimistic will believe that the underclass, who engaged in the riots, will not take advantage of any public disorder against the austerity cuts with a repeat of riots aimed at looting - unless some hope for a better life is provided.

Since there does not seem to be any great hope that the economy will improve and that a double dip recession appears most likely. It seems almost certain that Labour will continue to increase their lead in the polls and form the next government - which is astonishing considering it was they that dragged the country into its dire financial predicament and should have been out of office for at least a generation.

The Lib/Dems will all but disappear from the political scene, for, although they are best placed to prosper as a result of our dire circumstances, since few of our present ails can be attributed to them. They are too timid to perform the root and branch surgery to their policies necessary so that they confront the real world, but will continue to apply their sticking plaster mentality and incomprehensible 3000 word dissertations of intellectual avoidance at this time of immense challenge.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Don't get old!

I thank 'Metal Guru' for allowing me to reproduce his article 'Don't Get Old':

Rooms full of lonely faces, bodies swiveled on chairs directed at the incessant drivel of daytime TV, the lingering smell of palliative air freshener. Lurid coloured corridors, easily recognised symbols on bathrooms and toilets, photographs of residents on doors - miniature snapshots of forgotten destines.

An old man with a crutch walks slowly along, muttering through folded face and thinking about his property in Australia. Approaching him, a crooked-framed old woman with a hand on the railing for support asking 'Can somebody take me home now please?'.

Privately funded care homes provide the prospect of an undignified and unhappy twilight for the ever-increasing pensioner population. Specific problems such as insufficient staff, low pay and long hours - added to varying quality of care and kindness - contribute to the, intrinsically flawed, concept of offering care as a commodity.

Commercial organisations, like all other, enter the private care industry to make and maximize profit. All cost cutting is fair game as long as they adhere to the standards proscribed by the regulatory bodies and therein lies the problem. These regulations only serve as a template for a uniformity of service that has little bearing on 'caring'.

The predominant term used to refer to residents in private care homes is 'service users'. The individuality of each 'service user' is systematically degraded by these, humanity free, intellectually constructed procedures considered to offer the highest quality of care.

While the residents sit compliantly in a state of partial dormancy - healthcare assistants, nurses, cleaners and catering staff chew their pencils and twiddle their thumbs whilst undergoing a strict regime of training videos and practical demonstrations on manual handling.

Nurses ceaselessly update each of the residents' personal care files, uninterested in properly monitoring the work of their healthcare assistants, because the important thing is, when the government inspectors come knocking, that all training and paperwork is up-to-date for this is what will provide a good inspection review.

On the face of it, perfect standards of care have been exhibited. All staff have received the relevant training - properly recorded in the 'staff training matrix'; all paperwork on individual care and medical consultations have been completed, all daily food menus are nutritionally balanced to conform to recommended catering standards. In every hallway, stairwell and lift there are pictures demonstrating the service users happily enjoying activities such as reveling in the excitement of a monthly entertainer.

The reality is, however, that care, dignity and fairness are abstract concepts, unable to be taught. Staff who attend training courses on dignity, for example, with the rewarded title of 'dignity champion' as their incentive for completion, learn concrete examples of how to treat someone with dignity. The problem is that examples a, b, & c become the actual qualifiers of dignity rather than harbingers of its actuality.

The concept being if a, b, & c are manifest, then dignity is ensured. This is of course not the case. So the best any home can hope for is where the a, b, & c throughout all of the systems of good care, have been ticked off. The quality of a resident's life is formularized by calculable factors that bare little to no relation to the happiness of a resident and actively seek to undervalue the nature of their individuality.

Their days routinely consist of being herded from their beds to the lounge, lounge to the dining room, to the toilet, to the bathroom, back to bed. In between, they sit, predominately confused about where they are and why nobody has come to collect them!

Their slightly impaired physical or mental functions become exacerbated by unfamiliar surroundings and a profound sense of abandonment. The disturbing irony is that such deteriorations will be labeled and explained as a medical affliction disconnected to their residential environment.

Usually within a year they have plummeted to mere shadows of the people who arrived. Stripped of their use, their habits, their possessions and their freedom, they slowly discolour in body and soul.

Granted it takes longer for some - for those who get daily visitors, those who take residence as a married couple - and bizarrely, for those who have illnesses that require constant or specialised nursing. They more frequently embody an aura of resignation that tries to make the best of it.

And the most harrowing aspect of the whole situation is that government run care homes are unlikely to be any better - perhaps worse. Instead of cost cutting to increase profits, as well as ineffectual regulation, there would be cost cutting measures aimed at keeping government expenditure down and ineffective internal regulation.

So the only advice can be: don't get old! The growing acceptance of rabid consumerism and unbridled selfishness has filtered into every nook and cranny of society and is reflected in the industry of elderly care as well as any other. The businesses make their money, the old folks are out of the way and we, the children and grandchildren of this forgotten portion of society, can continue with our pursuit of pleasure.

Meanwhile, the old man stops walking lengths of the corridor and forgets about his property in Australia; the crooked-framed old lady stops asking to be taken home and thousands and thousands across the land are told: 'sit down and wait'.

Wait for what? - wait until there is no more waiting...

Monday, 25 July 2011

Do we really want to risk another media mogul running the country?

If there is one thing that the Murdoch affair has confirmed it is that politician's lust for power knows no bounds. The acquisition of power has been likened to a heroin rush and judging by the extent that Blair, Brown and Cameron, particularly, have been prepared to jump to Murdoch's commands - we must believe this to be true.

Although it is likely that an attempt to clean up politics will take place over the next few years, now that it has been made so clear that a media giant can have such an impact on the government of an influential nation, surely it is the height of niavite to believe that another global media mogal will not start plotting to replace Murdoch - assuming he does not recover his position - albeit by more sophisticated means.

Whereas before globalisation, the funds available to the most powerful commercial organisations where limited, now that we have many global giants to whom the funds available for bribery and corruption are so vast, even the most honest politician, policeman or official might be corrupted in increasingly material world.

In the past there has been a clear reluctance by the political class to trust the common view of the people with regard to the administration of the nation. There has been a strongly held belief that the politicians know best and it is for them to decide how the nation should progress, even if these goals are against the will of the people. However, few can argue that the common view of the people is inferior to that of a media mogul who is a foreign national and whose primary goal is the acquisition of wealth.

If it is accepted that, under the present rules and any that can be devised, it will be impossible to prevent another media baron, with immense wealth, from assuming Murdoch's role, surely the only group who can provide adequate control are the people themselves and who also have the most legitimacy.

This could be achieved through the introduction of a developing form of direct democracy that would, eventually, cover all aspects of government activity - both central and local. As first steps the House of Lords could be given the power to call a referendum on any proposed change by the government that they could not wholly support and a guarantee that any petition that gained 100,000 signature would become the subject of a referendum.

Clearly the first steps on this course would not be wholly successful, but they would ensure that the appalling state of an immensely wealthy foreign national governing the nation from the comfort of his luxury penthouse suite in New York would never reoccur. Also given that the best known nation governed by a system of direct democracy, Switzerland, is recognised as one of the best run nations - a move to direct democracy can only provide real hope for the future compared to the bleakness the current system offers.

The trivial nature of the e-petitions arrangements, yet again, demonstrates that our administrators do not want the people interfering in the self-interested preferences of the leaders of the two, alternating, tribes that run the nation.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

A bleak future ahead.

It takes a while for Wednesday's remarkable Parliamentary session to be fully absorbed. However, what did ring loud and clear was that our administrators are not overly concerned with the well-being of the people - although our concerns will, occasionally, be brought into a debate if it helps to reinforce an argument, even though our concerns will generally be misinterpreted.

It has been said that Murdoch's close relationship with Lady Thatcher stemmed from their common belief in man's ability to change the world by an act of will. This is of course true as records of the most ruthless dictators throughout history demonstrate. However, those changes that do not accord with the collected will are unlikely to last long in a democracy. What has lasted, to this day, from the collaboration of these two along with Ronald Regan, is that 'greed is good' which seems to have been indoctrinated into the generations that have followed their time in power.

So much that happens today is taken for granted because 'getting and spending' has been accepted as the raison d'etre by so many and it was this belief, or more precisely the consequences of this belief, that explains so much of Wednesday's exchanges. Once wealth becomes the most important aspect of life, for so many, it becomes more certain that each person will have his or her price. It then follows that the many cannot be trusted - but we do not know who they are, because they look no different from those who can be trusted.

Having immense wealth might now be considered as 'heaven' for many and it is little wonder that so many are prepared to commit dark and, once considered evil, deeds in order to achieve this 'divine' state. It can be compared to the willingness of a Muslim man being prepared to commit suicide to defend the Prophet's teachings, because he is convinced that in so doing, he will go straight to heaven to be greeted by 72 virgins.

Having reached a point where we do not know who we can trust - life becomes extremely threatening. Was Ed Milliband trying to convince us that Cameron was a virtual agent for Murdoch because he wanted to expose corruption at the heart of government or was he doing so to advance Labour's cause so that they could return to a position where they could, once again, enjoy the pleasures of being corrupted? Does the BBC report and analyze the exchanges in order to inform the public or to weaken Murdoch's grip on the delivery of News?

Do the other newspaper groups devote so much space to the apparent corruption so that they can ensure that is weeded out or are they doing it to reduce the circulation of the Murdoch titles so that they might increase theirs? Will the police dispose of or ignore evidence because they are paid by Murdoch or will they behave in a non partisan fashion? Will the courts provide fair trials or has Murdoch got embarrassing information on key players who will err on his side rather than be exposed? Once it is recognised that corruption has gone so deep into the ranks of those who rule us - we do not know and cannot know the motives of these individuals and why they act as they do.

Although the majority living in the UK claim to be Christians, it is clear that its teachings hold little importance for Christianity teaches that 'it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God'. Clearly the acquisition of, non essential, consumer products and the pleasures of the flesh are held in much higher regard than 'entering the kingdom of God' by the vast majority. For most, 'being a Christian' is reserved for the ceremonies provided at birth, death and marriage. Presently the average age of those who attend church regularly is 61 - it seems pretty obvious that, unless there is some fundamental shift in the peoples belief system, the vast majority of Christian churches will have closed within a generation.

As a non Christian, I think it is fair to say that a bleak future is ahead for us and our children if materialism remains the primary cult of the nation. It could be that, as the frequency and depth of these dark and, once considered, evil acts increases there will be a return to Christianity or some other faith will become increasingly popular. This may be so for most informed predictions do envisage an ever increasing state of poverty in the land and it appears to be the case that those who live in the greatest poverty are the most ardent followers of a religion.

Unfortunately, in that state, couples either try to have as many children as possible, so that there is someone to look after them in old age, or their faith demands or obliges them to have large families - this helps to explain the ever growing population of our planet along with some of the greatest suffering.

Without doubt, the future looks extremely bleak for the majority and their children. A relatively few of these global corporation employees and the politicians and officials that serve them can anticipate very comfortable lives ahead and an even fewer, those who own these monsters, will have untold wealth impressive homes and yachts from which to view the misery of their fellow human beings.

Those who do not share the belief that 'greed is good', but want to see a far more even distribution of wealth, will have to work extremely long and hard to reverse this trend - which has become endemic.

Friday, 1 July 2011

In accordance with the will of Heaven

Since there seems little doubt that, over the coming decades, China will be the dominant world power, it might be an idea if we, in the West, started to understand some of their - and the Far East's generally - basic philosophy so that we may serve our new masters adequately. Also so that we might understand some of the secrets of their success and how it is they are such high achievers.

Most of the concepts are difficult for Westerners to understand, for, in the first place, it demands the acceptance that there are laws operating within the Cosmos which affect each individual in their daily lives. The concept, basically, believes that in every circumstance and in every action there is a 'right' way, which is in accordance with the will of Heaven, by acting in accordance with this law [the Tao] whatever we do succeeds - whereas by not acting correctly we fail or do not completely succeed.

Western religions do have similar concepts 'as we sow so we shall reap' being the most obvious, but generally Christianity, Islam and Judaism view acts against God's law as being accounted for on the Day of Judgment. Whereas the Eastern approach would probably see this aspect played out in the way that we die - whether this is a long drawn out painful affair or over and done with fairly quickly.

Perhaps, more to the point is that, although most indigenous English would view themselves as Christians and mostly Protestants, their religion plays very little part in their daily lives. Whereas the Chinese way demands constant attention to an inner guide who knows what and how we should act at any given time and in any given circumstance.

In the West, the work of Carl Jung, the psychologist, is probably the easiest route for Westerners to understand the philosophy of the East with his shadow, anima & animus, the process of 'individuation' and a guiding 'Self', since he did use scientific method when developing his theories. The views of scientists are held in much higher esteem than the views of religious leaders here. However, he believed that Westerners were too lazy to struggle with the demands of his work and thought it would only be applied by the few.

Perhaps it is this blind acceptance of scientific view and the practitioners of these arts that has brought us, as a nation, to such a hopeless state. The process of individuation and the Eastern way both demand that we listen to what is going on deep inside our minds and to take our dreams and fantasies seriously. Although it cannot be denied that science and Western medicine has enabled great advances in the treatment of physical ailments, the illnesses of the mind are beyond most Western practitioners.

Their approach to the basic emotions of anxiety and depression is to fend them away by the use chemicals which act on the brain. Anxiety is seen as something that should be suppressed rather than allowed to play on the mind in order that some unpleasant truth should be acknowledged and acted upon. This is also the case for depression, which is likely to follow the acknowledgement of this truth, until the truth has been fully accepted. These are messages from Jung's concept of 'Self' buried deep in the unconscious.

So Western medicine, generally, suspends its patients in a state of permanent or drawn out state of anxiety or depression rather than allowing this natural process to take place so that the individual can mature through having to deal with reality. This approach is feasted upon by the global pharmaceutical corporations for it allows them to regularly invent new mental conditions for which they, of course, have developed a new [and expensive] drug. If memory serves, this accounts for some £8 billion of the NHS budget - potentially a valuable saving in these austere times.

These pharmaceutical companies have also managed to convince us that we can expect to live until we are one hundred - quite why this is viewed as such a triumph in a world with an ever increasing and unsustainable population is difficult to understand. However, this is likely to be because we have hidden death away so that it is something not to be accepted. Like our other anxieties, this must be suppressed by drugs, not a feature of life with which we must come to terms.

Unlike the Chinese we put our old into homes, probably so we are not continually reminded of the eventuality of death, whereas the Chinese honour their parents and the old and would condemn this practice. Surely we know that, generally speaking, most humans will not be able to live active lives beyond their mid eighties and although modern medicine can make less onerous many of the ills of later life they cannot change the natural span of life. At least if they can, it can only be done at the expense of the new born or young - surely it is better to simply accept death when ones natural term ends!

Oddly, if the English who are so much against their being absorbed by the EU, being inundated by immigrants and denied their parliament would accept the reality that virtually all those who hold these views must work together - it might still be possible to avoid these outcomes and possibly the dominance of China in the years ahead. However encouraged and aided not to accept reality, as it is so often the case with such matters, this will be realised too late and, as a result, we are destined for the role of subordination.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Small IS beautiful

Perhaps, at this time, the global financiers who have lent their cleints money to the Greek, Irish, Portuguese and Spanish governments are reflecting on these words of Fritz Schumacher, taken from the title of his 1970's book. Although, there is little likelihood that it will be their own personal wealth that will be lost - if things go wrong.

Schumacher did not have global finance in mind when he wrote his book, his concern was that the creations of mankind were with the view of ever increasing growth, unlike nature, that keeps the size of its creations in proportion to their environment. The Greek crisis has underlined the extent to which the lives of so many of the world's citizens could be adversely affected by the Greek's failure to manage their debt. Although it is generally accepted that their economy was not strong enough to enter the eurozone at the time - and this current crisis was 'an accident waiting to happen'.

After the Lehman Brothers, then the fourth largest investment bank in the US, bankruptcy in 2008, caused by their large holdings of 'sub-prime' mortgages - it was accepted that severe restrictions should be placed on the banks with regard to how they invested their customers savings. If the extremely rich wanted to risk their money on chancy loans then this was their prerogative, but to risk the savings of millions of small savers and pension funds on such ventures should be prevented by new regulations. However such regulations have not been put in place - only some that were thought would help to prevent a similar event.

We are currently witnessing, in the UK, the immense impact that the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy has had on our economy - making the nation, itself, close to bankrupt. The austerity measures being put in place by the Coalition may be needed, but they are causing great stresses and insecurity for a large section of the people. This is not to just the poorest, but to many who would normally be considered 'comfortable'. And to what end were these mammoth deals originally aimed - to make some already incredibly rich individuals - even richer.

Having taken some interest in the Greek debt crisis, I have come to the conclusion that no one really knows what the true ramifications of either the Greeks being bailed out by the, hard up, eurozone nations or of the Greeks dumping the euro in favour of a new drachma - this would provide them with a currency that could be valued in accordance with the country's economic strength.

Respected experts have claimed that we are facing a new Lehman Brothers moment and others that we are heading for another 1930's style depression. It is the sheer complexity of the global financial markets that makes the outcomes so difficult to predict - a domino effect can be produced in a series of markets which, because of the number of variables, might lead to any number of economic disasters.

What must be abundantly clear to anyone who can observe these matters dispassionately is that the development of the much vaunted free global market, by each of the three main parties, must be halted and reigned back. The example of huge ocean going vessels has to be applied, if these ships hit rocks, the part of the hull damaged does not allow water to pour into the whole vessel and sink the ship, air tight cabins are built into the design so that any leaks in the hull can be contained to a few sections.

A similar design is required so that one large bank becoming bankrupt or one nation failing to repay its debts cannot be allowed to bring down the economies of many nations. In most cases the requirement for huge sums is to finance some grand development and although these may be essential in a few instances, these are cases of 'giantism' warned against by Schumacher.

It seems certain that if we are to have any kind of secure future, nations need to be allowed to manage their own economies through the use of import and export controls. They cannot be subjugated to the rules of multinational organisations such as the EU or global corporations which create unmanageable circumstances for national governments. This is also the case for international law, which also restrict governments from acting in the best interests of their people - these need to be reduced to an essential few.

What I think we can also conclude is that the biggest enemy to solving the many dire threats currently facing mankind - whether it be global warming, peak oil, mass migration, mass unemployment or national economic meltdown - is globalization. If mankind and the other species that share this planet are to have a hopeful future, the process of globalization has to be reversed.

Whether this will be achieved as an orchestrated plan or be the result of a global catastrophe from which 'small is beautiful' will arise like an, appropriately sized, Pheonix from the ashes - only time will tell.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Beware of Greeks bearing austerity measures.

So, George Papandreou, the Greek Prime minister, has won a vote confidence in the Greek parliament. The MPs will next be asked to approve a package of 28 billion euros of savings - this includes austerity measures, tax rises and privatization. These were demanded by the Eurozone ministers before the, agreed, 12 billion euros loan would be released, so that Greece can avoid bankruptcy.

The immediate crisis is over and it is expected that the measures will be agreed, despite the fact that the Greeks are not happy with the arrangement for they know there is no end in sight for these austerity measures - so large are their debts. No doubt there has been a collected sigh of relief throughout the global financial institutions as they will be fully aware that, had Greece defaulted, the knock on effect could have been equal to, or worse, than the global banking crisis that started with Northern Rock in 2007.

Once again a threat to these financial institutions has caused fear and dread amongst even the most powerful nations of the world because of the intricacies and interdependence of the global banking system. It is a system that cannot be allowed to fail because the economies of these nations will be so impacted it would oblige their governments to use the taxes collected from ordinary taxpayers to bail out the banks and/or potentially defaulting nations like Greece.

What is most galling is that so much of global financial activity is little more than gambling. Financiers speculate on future events using the money of pension funds and ordinary savers, however, not only can these bets threaten the global financial system if things go wrong, but also greatly increase the cost of essentials such as food and oil if they are successful.

Much of this activity is unnecessary, it just provides the opportunity for the well placed to make huge sums in a short period of time and provides the excuse for senior banking staff to demand grotesque bonuses [relative to the earnings of those whose money they are using as their gambling stake]. A route out of this bizarre situation is needed as it is recognized that these unstable conditions will continue, regularly, whilst customer's savings are used to fund these speculative ventures.

Al Murray, the Pub Landlord, had a habit of wearing a 'what happened to the £200 billion?' T-shirt after the last banking collapse which caused by the sale of packaged 'sub prime' mortgages in the US - implying that speculators ferreted away the missing billions from the banking system. This is quite plausible since money does not actually disappear - it exists somewhere, even if it has been converted into something more enduring in value by now.

The Greek debt crisis is essentially about the Greek government spending more money than it raises and its people not being prepared to reduce their standard of living by introducing a stringent austerity budget. These debts - as with those of Portugal, Ireland and Spain - have been required, primarily, because these nations joined the eurozone which removed their ability to allow their currency to fluctuate in accordance with the strength of their economies.

Although the value of the EU nations working together for their mutual benefit can be recognised, there is no need for them to share a common currency, have political union or use the same internal legal system. This Union's primary beneficiary are the global corporations who, in the main, do not have to adjust their products to meet different national requirements. However, more importantly, they can influence, by fair means or foul, the EU laws enacted, thereby providing themselves with beneficial trading conditions - an activity, with which, their smaller rivals cannot hope to compete.

These laws, once in place, are very unlikely to be changed because the EU Parliament does not operate in the same way as the House of Commons, where an incoming government is free to repeal laws introduced by its predecessors. To change EU laws an intensely bureaucratic system needs to be followed, the outcome being that time is not available to alter all but a few - and the committee members charged with the task, are most likely to be acting with the aim of benefitting the few rather than the many.

The Greek crisis coupled to the banking crisis demonstrate that these global and international organisations are the root cause of the majority of our, non-natural, difficulties. Unless you are amongst the few beneficiaries of this system, our, our children and grandchildren are unlikely to have any kind of hopeful future until these institutions have to had their powers severely reduced or entirely removed.

It seems as if the Unions have, at long last, come to the same conclusion. After suffering at the hands of Blair and Brown under New Labour, who fully embraced these global institutions, yesterday Dave Prentis - general secretary of the public sector union Unison, amongst others, threatened to work to create chaos until the attempt by the Coalition to privatize much of their current responsibilities is withdrawn.

Friday, 17 June 2011

There is not enough time!

Although a strategy of seeking success through the system of local government, particularly in the case of mayoral elections, is sound, in that it attacks the weakest part of the Nation's electoral process so biased in favour of the three largest parties - this approach is likely to be too slow to save England.

There can be little doubt that, since the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, the consolidation of the EU as a United States of Europe has progressed at pace. The financial difficulties of Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain has been used as an excuse for the Eurocrats to become increasingly more involved in the actions of member states' national governments. This is, presently, particularly obvious in the case of Greece where the people are being obliged to endure substantial cuts in their standard of living - although the Greeks are not taking these changes willingly, as can be witnessed by the ongoing riots and demonstrations.

Germany, along with a supportive IMF, is the main financier of EU bailouts - being the wealthiest nation within the EU. It does seem that the German leadership is prepared to limit the disposable income of its people in order to see the EU project succeed. It is doubtful if the people of any other nation within the EU would accept these restrictions, but enduring austerity does seem to find an echo within the German psyche.

The best solution for each of these, once great, nations is to remove themselves from the Eurozone and return to their former currencies - in this way their currency would fall in value to find its natural level and, although this would make imports more expensive, their internal economic activity would remain far less affected. This is what is happening in the UK and, until we reach the point where we can no longer pay our debts - apparently awaited with gleeful anticipation judging by the Coalition's economic program - we should be able to avoid significant interference.

No doubt the conditions attached to the EU bailouts will remove the option, of the nations taking this route, from choosing to leave the EU instead. In accordance with the old adage 'he who pays the piper calls the tune', it follows that Germany will hold an extremely dominant position when deciding the future development of the EU and its nations - a position that China seems to be developing with much of the rest of the world. 

It is strange indeed that economic might has been able to replace military conquest in the domination of other nations. Even stranger, that this economic dominance has been achieved, essentially, through fantasies created by the advertising industry. These have convinced the, mostly female, population - those who are responsible for spending 80% of disposable income - to buy products made by foreign companies, abroad, as opposed to those products, when available, of British companies made in Britain. Seductive advertisements have become the modern weapon for nations, or corporations, attracted to foreign domination - a venture once the sole domain of the weapons developers.

Rather than removing us from the EU and its increasingly suffocating regulations, Cameron has chosen to remain in this debilitating club and pay the extremely high membership fees, he has chosen to stride the world stage as if we were still a global player and pay overseas aid to nations who are far richer than we. Although it seems certain that we will be unable last 10 years without falling completely into the EU/IMF clutches, there is little doubt that this will be the longest we might manage.

Ten years is in political terms two General Elections. This is the likely maximum time span available to those who hope to save England from being absorbed into the EU and being broken down into regions. Once we have become simply a part of the planned United States of Europe, we will be trapped for many generations since there will be no way for democratic release under the 'democratic' provisions of the EU. The only way out will be through violent revolution - and we are presently seeing what the human cost of this route is throughout most of North Africa.

I find it impossible to believe this end can achieve through local politics alone, and within such a short time frame. Our withdrawal from the EU can be achieved only through Westminster. The hope must be that the austerity program devised by the government and the hardships this will bring, will convince voters to step away from the three main parties, with their common attachment to the EU, and vote instead for an English party that offers withdrawal. However, for this to be the case the English party must be prepared and tuned to play this role so that we can hope to avoid the prospect of a '1984' type future.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Bilderberg 2011 - St. Moritz, Switzerland

Charlie Skelton has covered this annual event again for the Guardian. After pointing out that:

"This year, Bilderberg was bigger than ever. Bigger crowds, bigger names, more coverage. So here" ... "is what I've learned from this year's Bilderberg summit in St Moritz."

He goes on to explain how, in the absence of the MSM:

"What the mainstream press have failed to do, the alternative media are simply getting on and doing. In the absence of an adequate press centre, people have formed their own. In the weird journalistic vacuum of the conference, people are newsgathering and sharing their information – and sending out bulletins to the world. It's properly inspiring, and it's only going to get bigger."

Part of that alternative media is Alex Jones whose Infowars have once again produced a list of Participants:


Coene, Luc, Governor, National Bank of Belgium
Davignon, Etienne, Minister of State
Leysen, Thomas, Chairman, Umicore

Fu, Ying, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs
Huang, Yiping, Professor of Economics, China Center for Economic Research, Peking University

Eldrup, Anders, CEO, DONG Energy
Federspiel, Ulrik, Vice President, Global Affairs, Haldor Topsøe A/S
Schütze, Peter, Member of the Executive Management, Nordea Bank AB

Ackermann, Josef, Chairman of the Management Board and the Group Executive Committee, Deutsche Bank
Enders, Thomas, CEO, Airbus SAS
Löscher, Peter, President and CEO, Siemens AG
Nass, Matthias, Chief International Correspondent, Die Zeit
Steinbrück, Peer, Member of the Bundestag; Former Minister of Finance

Apunen, Matti, Director, Finnish Business and Policy Forum EVA
Johansson, Ole, Chairman, Confederation of the Finnish Industries EK
Ollila, Jorma, Chairman, Royal Dutch Shell
Pentikäinen, Mikael, Publisher and Senior Editor-in-Chief, Helsingin Sanomat

Baverez, Nicolas, Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
Bazire, Nicolas, Managing Director, Groupe Arnault /LVMH
Castries, Henri de, Chairman and CEO, AXA
Lévy, Maurice, Chairman and CEO, Publicis Groupe S.A.
Montbrial, Thierry de, President, French Institute for International Relations
Roy, Olivier, Professor of Social and Political Theory, European University Institute

Great Britain
Agius, Marcus, Chairman, Barclays PLC
Flint, Douglas J., Group Chairman, HSBC Holdings
Kerr, John, Member, House of Lords; Deputy Chairman, Royal Dutch Shell
Lambert, Richard, Independent Non-Executive Director, Ernst & Young
Mandelson, Peter, Member, House of Lords; Chairman, Global Counsel
Micklethwait, John, Editor-in-Chief, The Economist
Osborne, George, Chancellor of the Exchequer
Stewart, Rory, Member of Parliament
Taylor, J. Martin, Chairman, Syngenta International AG

David, George A., Chairman, Coca-Cola H.B.C. S.A.
Hardouvelis, Gikas A., Chief Economist and Head of Research, Eurobank EFG
Papaconstantinou, George, Minister of Finance
Tsoukalis, Loukas, President, ELIAMEP Grisons

International Organizations
Almunia, Joaquín, Vice President, European Commission
Daele, Frans van, Chief of Staff to the President of the European Council
Kroes, Neelie, Vice President, European Commission; Commissioner for Digital Agenda
Lamy, Pascal, Director General, World Trade Organization
Rompuy, Herman van, President, European Council
Sheeran, Josette, Executive Director, United Nations World Food Programme
Solana Madariaga, Javier, President, ESADEgeo Center for Global Economy and Geopolitics
Trichet, Jean-Claude, President, European Central Bank
Zoellick, Robert B., President, The World Bank Group

Gallagher, Paul, Senior Counsel; Former Attorney General
McDowell, Michael, Senior Counsel, Law Library; Former Deputy Prime Minister
Sutherland, Peter D., Chairman, Goldman Sachs International

Bernabè, Franco, CEO, Telecom Italia SpA
Elkann, John, Chairman, Fiat S.p.A.
Monti, Mario, President, Univers Commerciale Luigi Bocconi
Scaroni, Paolo, CEO, Eni S.p.A.
Tremonti, Giulio, Minister of Economy and Finance

Carney, Mark J., Governor, Bank of Canada
Clark, Edmund, President and CEO, TD Bank Financial Group
McKenna, Frank, Deputy Chair, TD Bank Financial Group
Orbinksi, James, Professor of Medicine and Political Science, University of Toronto
Prichard, J. Robert S., Chair, Torys LLP
Reisman, Heather, Chair and CEO, Indigo Books & Music Inc. Center, Brookings Institution

Bolland, Marc J., Chief Executive, Marks and Spencer Group plc
Chavannes, Marc E., Political Columnist, NRC Handelsblad; Professor of Journalism
Halberstadt, Victor, Professor of Economics, Leiden University; Former Honorary Secretary General of Bilderberg Meetings
H.M. the Queen of the Netherlands
Rosenthal, Uri, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Winter, Jaap W., Partner, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek

Myklebust, Egil, Former Chairman of the Board of Directors SAS, sk Hydro ASA
H.R.H. Crown Prince Haakon of Norway
Ottersen, Ole Petter, Rector, University of Oslo
Solberg, Erna, Leader of the Conservative Party

Bronner, Oscar, CEO and Publisher, Standard Medien AG
Faymann, Werner, Federal Chancellor
Rothensteiner, Walter, Chairman of the Board, Raiffeisen Zentralbank Österreich AG
Scholten, Rudolf, Member of the Board of Executive Directors, Oesterreichische Kontrollbank AG

Balsemão, Francisco Pinto, Chairman and CEO, IMPRESA, S.G.P.S.; Former Prime Minister
Ferreira Alves, Clara, CEO, Claref LDA; writer
Nogueira Leite, António, Member of the Board, José de Mello Investimentos, SGPS, SA

Mordashov, Alexey A., CEO, Severstal
Bildt, Carl, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Björling, Ewa, Minister for Trade
Wallenberg, Jacob, Chairman, Investor AB

Brabeck-Letmathe, Peter, Chairman, Nestlé S.A.
Groth, Hans, Senior Director, Healthcare Policy & Market Access, Oncology Business Unit, Pfizer Europe
Janom Steiner, Barbara, Head of the Department of Justice, Security and Health, Canton
Kudelski, André, Chairman and CEO, Kudelski Group SA
Leuthard, Doris, Federal Councillor
Schmid, Martin, President, Government of the Canton Grisons
Schweiger, Rolf, Ständerat
Soiron, Rolf, Chairman of the Board, Holcim Ltd., Lonza Ltd.
Vasella, Daniel L., Chairman, Novartis AG
Witmer, Jürg, Chairman, Givaudan SA and Clariant AG

Cebrián, Juan Luis, CEO, PRISA
Cospedal, María Dolores de, Secretary General, Partido Popular
León Gross, Bernardino, Secretary General of the Spanish Presidency
Nin Génova, Juan María, President and CEO, La Caixa
H.M. Queen Sofia of Spain

Ciliv, Süreyya, CEO, Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri A.S.
Gülek Domac, Tayyibe, Former Minister of State
Koç, Mustafa V., Chairman, Koç Holding A.S.
Pekin, Sefika, Founding Partner, Pekin & Bayar Law Firm

Alexander, Keith B., Commander, USCYBERCOM; Director, National Security Agency
Altman, Roger C., Chairman, Evercore Partners Inc.
Bezos, Jeff, Founder and CEO,
Collins, Timothy C., CEO, Ripplewood Holdings, LLC
Feldstein, Martin S., George F. Baker Professor of Economics, Harvard University
Hoffman, Reid, Co-founder and Executive Chairman, LinkedIn
Hughes, Chris R., Co-founder, Facebook
Jacobs, Kenneth M., Chairman & CEO, Lazard
Johnson, James A., Vice Chairman, Perseus, LLC
Jordan, Jr., Vernon E., Senior Managing Director, Lazard Frères & Co. LLC
Keane, John M., Senior Partner, SCP Partners; General, US Army, Retired
Kissinger, Henry A., Chairman, Kissinger Associates, Inc.
Kleinfeld, Klaus, Chairman and CEO, Alcoa
Kravis, Henry R., Co-Chairman and co-CEO, Kohlberg Kravis, Roberts & Co.
Kravis, Marie-Josée, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute, Inc.
Li, Cheng, Senior Fellow and Director of Research, John L. Thornton China Center, Brookings Institution
Mundie, Craig J., Chief Research and Strategy Officer, Microsoft Corporation
Orszag, Peter R., Vice Chairman, Citigroup Global Markets, Inc.
Perle, Richard N., Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
Rockefeller, David, Former Chairman, Chase Manhattan Bank
Rose, Charlie, Executive Editor and Anchor, Charlie Rose
Rubin, Robert E., Co-Chairman, Council on Foreign Relations; Former Secretary of the Treasury
Schmidt, Eric, Executive Chairman, Google Inc.
Steinberg, James B., Deputy Secretary of State
Thiel, Peter A., President, Clarium Capital Management, LLC
Varney, Christine A., Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust
Vaupel, James W., Founding Director, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Warsh, Kevin, Former Governor, Federal Reserve Board
Wolfensohn, James D., Chairman, Wolfensohn & Company, LLC

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