Radical Bent

My father’s first job was as a bookie’s runner at 13.  Then the war, some piss poor but quick teacher training and eventually he was headmaster of a secondary school.  I was largely educated by such people, though not Dad who was academically as thick as mud.  I still have as copy of a radical text one of his socialist mates gave me. it’s Marx’s Eighteenth Brumaire.  There’s a brilliant analysis of the reactionary behaviour of the French peasantry during the Bourbon and July monarchies in it.  The 1789 Revolution and Napoleon had liberated the peasants from their landlords, but the next generation of peasants was left to confront the agricultural market from small private holdings that could not sustain them. They no longer had to pay their feudal dues, but instead had to pay their mortgages and taxes to a state that did sweet FA for them. Under Napoleon III they got imperial spectacle. Marx noted that in and through the army the peasants were ‘transformed into heroes, defending their new possessions against the outer world, glorifying their recently won nationality, plundering and revolutionising the world. The uniform was their own state dress; war was their poetry.’ This Marx called ‘the imperialism of the peasant class’.  My dad and his mates viewed war as a con in cruder terms of ‘press gangs’, marching bands and their discovery of just how well off the rich were and just how dangerously stupid the officer class was.

In Marx’s analysis we see the populist underbelly of the debt crisis in America. Essentially, 40 years of right-wing tax revolt, from Howard Jarvis’s Proposition 13 of 1978, which destroyed California’s finances by putting strict limits on property tax increases, to the Tea Party.  In the UK we might see this as the ‘Thatcherism’ since 1967 of IMF bail out we didn’t need, the hard-hat, often ex-pat management that destroyed our industrial base and the over-individual crap of the Iron Lady herself.  Social democrats in the US don’t see how little the American state directly provides to its citizens, relative to their economic circumstances.  In the UK it’s more likely they miss how demeaning the benefits system is. Since the early 1970s, with a few brief exceptions, workers’ wages have stagnated. What has the state offered in response? Even with Obama’s reforms, the US does not provide healthcare or insurance to most people. Outside wealthy communities, state schools often fail to deliver a real education here and there.  In such circumstances, is it any wonder ordinary citizens want their taxes cut? That at least is change they can believe in.

To change this, we need to change attitudes ground in, soaked up and propagandized by the rich machine.  The way this plays our emotions is as sickening as that of any call to imperialist war.  We learn to hate our ‘evil poor’, to consider ourselves as superior through our ‘hard work’ (often farcically in mundane, useless jobs) and imagining ‘our soldiers, police and emergency services’ do the fine job politicians always tell us they do.  We have no idea what our troops really do in Iraq or Afghanistan or did in more secret wars in Indonesia (28,000 of them dead – our losses 128).  Whilst we have been thinking in these dumb terms, the rich have had it off with nearly all the money we used to have.  Not a bunch of poor scumbags – the idle do as they care on whim rich.

I people were numerate, they could see at a glance that it’s the rich who’ve had the money that made our societies tick.  They gave it and much of our advantage in management and technology to the Chinese, Indians, Malaysians, Indonesians and anyone where they saw a buck.  They put Leslie Ames and the Cambridge spies to shame in treason.  Make no mistake they did this with our money and organisational learning, the latter advantage lost forever.  They even conned us into borrowing the money they used.

If you could wake up and smell the coffee and learn to count you’d find that what’s happened in our countries is that the rich gave up on our societies for their own gain – effectively as agents for another government of their invention.They are traitors against democracy.  In the process they have armed potential enemies with the means to manufacture war against us.  The banksters, CEOs and others drawing huge pay are the real scum.  The answer is international solidarity against them and a demand for reparation.  But seriously, remember I’m leaving.  I don’t believe in you.  It’s your mindless beliefs, against your own interests, that prevent international democracy.  Some of you still justify the Royals, as clear a bunch of posing slackers as one could imagine.  You have no honour and would happily spend your 30 pieces of silver rather than hang yourself from a tree in shame.  That’s how you were broken – they taught you to displace your shame on to others actually too dumb to know any.  You are the new imperialist peasantry,  Our world is so surreal we vote for no government in a world so broken we should put it down and start again.  No one fails A levels anymore, despite thicker people taking them in droves, and employers find people don’t have the skills they need, which always was their finding.  We have unprecedented riots with so many precedents I’d need a page to list books and papers I know about them.

In 1883, London police were armed for the first time amid fears of a crimewave by armed burglars, a step seen as “un-English” by the press. The great “garotting” panic of 1862 centred on lurid reports of a new form of mugging involving strangulation, and led to the restoration of flogging as a punishment, shortly after it had been abolished. The Times sadly concluded that England now resembled a foreign land:
Our streets are actually not as safe as they were in the days of our grandfathers. We have slipped back to a state of affairs that would be intolerable even in Naples

In London, 1815 sees the foundation of the Society for Investigating the Causes of the Alarming Increase in Juvenile Delinquency in the Metropolis. 1751 sees Henry Fielding’s “Enquiry into the Causes of the Late Increase of Robbers” (Fielding fingered “too frequent and expensive diversions among the lower kind of people”). The seventeenth century saw moral panics about violent and rowdy apprentices, as well as about organised fighting among gangs (wearing coloured ribbons to identify their troops). Professor Pearson ends with the sixteenth century and puritan fears about, if not gangsta rap, popular songs that treated criminals as heroes.
“Hooligan: A History of Respectable Fears” is Pearson’s out of print book. Such riotous assembly has been taking place forever – the rich turn it to their advantage in covering up their quieter yet more destructive crimes.  You are being mugged because they know you have no memory of real history.

Many of our media-wallahs studied useless subjects like history.  They forget more readily than a part-timer like me and repeat horrific glorification of our warring nobles and imperialism so tame you can listen and come out believing the Royal Navy was on prevention duty in the Opium Wars!

The riots are our bloody stupid conservatives’ fault.  We let the rich steal our countries from underneath our children.  We don’t know history and we can’t take argument that we should allow to win in reason – we backfire like the worst old fart gone senile and hate anyone delivering the real evidence.  Our madness shows in sending some dork just out of Strangeways back there for 16 months for eating a stolen doughnut (my vile ex-neighbour got 8 months for arson with intent and affray – nearly killing a whole family – in non-riot times).  Yet there is no demand to lock up the rich and their thieving lackeys for the massive theft of 14% of the nation’s cash that once lay with the poorest 50% and is now in their hoards.  We are barking.

Historically, debt crises resulting from wars have catalysed politically progressive advances and even precipitated revolutions. Both Charles I and Louis XVI found themselves entangled in military conflicts their tax systems couldn’t fund. Debts eventually forced both into fatal confrontations: Charles with Parliament in 1640 and Louis with the Estates General in 1789. Beyond financial exigency, the revolutions that overthrew these sovereigns drew on arguments the kings themselves had to make in order to raise taxes and fund their wars. As Richard Tuck has suggested, it may have been Charles himself who opened the door to democracy in England. Levying an ancient tax on coastal towns (ship money) to fund a naval expedition against the Dutch, the Crown made the claim that the people’s safety was the highest ground for political action – an axiom of republicans through the ages – superseding any law or constitution. Though used to justify absolutism, Charles’s rhetoric about the ‘interests of the people’ carried a subversive democratic implication: these are not my wars, they’re yours, and you ought to do everything you can to see that they are won.

How do we get from thisd radical bent from the mouth of a king to the current piss poor business of not being able to do anything constructive for most of our population because the rich will ‘take their ball home’ if we try and recover what they have stolen.  No one surely believes any of the trickle down crap anymore – unless it’s all been trickling into the begging bowl of the rich (because it all ends up there stupid).

Rooney isn’t worth what he gets paid and there are obvious ways to control wages (everyone else’s other than the rich is subject to control).  Salary caps are not rocket science and so-called whizz-kids are not rocket scientists either – even Rooney and his mates rely on very flat track pitches, drainage and tough referees to stay ahead of the best amateurs.  There is no known link between the vast payments and any moral ground or innovation – and rather a lot to suggest what there is may be negative.  I know of no reason for any person not to have a decent life that has anything to do with an economic system per se, but i do know of many techniques in nature through which plants and animals restrain others – this is even true of bacteria and humans.  I believe we are stuck in a history that will repeat itself if we continue to act more or less without substantial memory and knowledge.  The ignorant spontaneity of the riots this country has seen regularly for hundreds of years may tell us we the ‘good’ have been educated too much and been tranced by it all to the extent we can’t see what is really going on despite obvious results on what has happened to the money.  The daft old lag with a cream doughnut in his gob gets 16 months, but the hedge fund maestro making money from selling African land on which tenant farmers have been killed to clear it for profit is lauded.  Much as we can’t have riots, my sense is the moral wuckfits were tucked up safe and not on the streets.

We have as much reason to be on our streets as any country.  Protest needs to be across nations.  But in England we don’t give a damn and leave it to hapless youth, thieves, arsonists and chancers.  We have no soul – or rather you have no soul – I’m off.  I read Marx under the dim interior light of my Panda car.  I got little from this, but noticed many dismiss the bloke with no clue on what he said.  It took me a long time to realise this is what people do on nearly everything and that all my years at school had been wasted.  In the irony of life, it was at this point I was disabled and had to find work in academe!

To discover that the most insidious Politburo was working away in western capitalism, perhaps run by a shadow group of oligarchs has not really surprised me.  It’s you.  You don’t know what our GDP is and certainly not what shares anyone gets – utterly simple information, widely available, and yet you have opinion of all sorts that must be useless without the basic facts.  What motivates you to live blind when you could see without those bandages over your eyes?  Not that ‘you’ will be reading this.

A note on cuts

mckinsey-graphic-for-web

Britain is the most indebted country in the world if we relate total public and private debt to per capita GDP.  We are the orange line at the top in the above graph from McKinseys.  The news is good or bad, depending on economic view.  The arguments don’t interest me.  You can see that the ‘policy’ was about long before Bliar and NuLabour and that they merely continued it.  The standard answer to this condition is called deleveraging.  The easy way is inflation, which is what Melvin King is doing at pace with various QEesings.

Inflation generally suits the rich as they have bought assets which generally go up.  Growth is the other main way, but we have a problem with that because we killed ourselves as a manufacturer years ago (Blunder Woman if you like, but I suspect this was much earlier and involves the bankrupting of the UK by American interests and spies through two world wars) and ‘invisible earnings’ are about to turn out just that.  Most of the figures Osbourne has relied on have gone down the  pan and there is a structural problem with the private sector cavalry.  It sold off its horses to pay directors’ bonuses.

So we cut the cops, try to sell Shropshire to the Chinese (who are also broke), and hope our debt burden will shrink, but it can’t because Britain has been down the drain so long it’s long been the case that only coppers and nurses buying imports  at Tesco pushes up GDP.  About 70% of what a public sector worker earns stays in her borough.

Mass unemployment is probably already with us if we really look at the figures.  You have the unemployed, the sick and disabled, all those on tax credits – quite probably 15% of the working population..  We are also a net exporter of benefit cash to the east.

These are not cuts that might help with productivity or in forming what Adam Smith thought capital was in producing energy supplies, increasing skills and changing the way we can live.  The private sector basically offers tat and expects us to buy more and more of it.  Just at the point we should be able to invest sensibly in the future, we find the banks and associated spivs have lost all the cash.  There is a ‘reserve’ – money held by rich people and their assets – we should be able to tap that by forcing bond holders at the banks to take pain and by inflating through wages and full employment (globally).

When we think about crime, we should be able to understand something of that tipping point in which crime turns to freedom fighting.  The reason is that we are probably not far from breakdowns across our societies.  Police begin to take some of the pain now, but we are probably only a few ‘credit meetings’ for banks away from a fatal nexus of more bailouts, high unemployment and the dawning of what has been going on, as people start to feel poor.

I wonder when we stopped being able to afford a public sector?  We always have people unemployed or under-employed and now have highly productive agriculture and manufacturing.  If I was still a detective I might think someone had had it away with the productivity gains – and of course, the rich have, through quite ludicrous frauds.  The revolution may have started in Ireland this weekend.  I hope it passes without much street violence, but I fear there will be riots if people realise  how we have been sold down the river.

The pound is already so low that Euros are buying up our property.  Young cops may grow families paying rent to German and French landlords, unable to afford to buy.  ACPOs will have retired abroad by then (a few years on).  It’s time for a revolution, but we need something more thorough than whatever pole throwers have in ‘mind’.  Our values have already been trashed.  I don’t know where I’d stand, other than against violence.

Portugal Reduced to Junk

The economic crisis is far from over and I guess most of us haven’t a clue what it is about.  Moody has just slashed Portugal’s credit rating to junk.  Greece is screwed, Ireland screwed and Spain and Italy look very vulnerable.  Germany is riding high, doing export-led manufacturing (which is where Britain should be an is not) – and this is partly due to the low Euro – something of a German currency manipulation.

Economics is at its best when you can be safely ignorant of it – and nearly everyone is ignorant of economics.  The standard now on undergraduate courses is that of a little knowledge being dangerous.

What people need to understand now is that freedom is at stake.  Money is no longer linked, other than negatively, with genuine effort.  Productivity has been rising sharply since WW2, but over the last 30 years wages have been falling.  You need to earn 20% more in the UK this year to maintain last year’s position and inflation is stocked up to rampage soon.  This situation is much worse if you are poor to average.  No political party is responsible for this – politics in this sense hardly matter, though public sector cuts are not the answer.

We have been borrowing to maintain ‘GDP increases’ (this applies to China too, where 12 ghost cities remain with no one in them and massive local government borrowing is being written-off).  This borrowing is odd because we could have prevented private borrowing through higher wages linked to productivity, and governments are using our ‘money’ (futures almost) to prop up idiot and greedy banks.  Essentially, like likes of Fred Goodwin have had it off with our ‘money’ and Lord knows what else.

The nightmare story lurking beneath any notions we are encouraged to have about profligate Greeks, Portuguese and so on, is that ‘our banks’ are the real culprits having made reckless loans and had it away on their toes with bonuses and so on.  I have little doubt this is true on the figures.

The real question is why ‘you’ don’t know.  I’m no ‘commie’ and always detested the Soviet Paradise.  What I’ve seen is the collapse of what was worth believing in – reasonable freedom gained by work reasonably easy to get and reasonably paid in reasonably dignified conditions.  This is almost swept away now.  The classic example may well be Gadget and his claims that to tell the truth would mean he would have no mortgage-paying abilities.  This jobsworthness is now writ large almost as our organisations.  With the ‘Zil Chill’ factor this was the hallmark of the Soviet Block.

The ‘world’s debt’ has not been spent on anything we have as public capital.  You’ll find none of this in Portugal or Greece or Italy or Ireland – it’s gone on speculative gambling and a pernicious form or organised crime.

The plan is to re-adjust money through inflation (you’ll be noticing the price of your food and energy) – quantitative easing and other jargon – but also to buy up public assets to rent them back to us.  This is incredibly similar to Hitler’s plan – Nazi Germany’s expansion was all done on credit they could not repay other than through war-looting.  So who is going to be the target of looting now?  The USA is in Germany’s old position, brimming with debt and military.

We need a new politics to stop what’s coming and there is no sign of any.

Soup Kitchen Economics?

I have occasional passion for tinned soups.  Being an idiot with some intellectual slants, this has led me to ‘tinned soup economics’.  Our “governments” are ‘printing money’ to some massive tune and “our banks” are awash with the stuff, seeking to make more money out of it than the mere fees they extract in “buying” it.  This all leads to my Heinz Tomato Soup four packs surging up in price more or less overnight (and the cheaper stuff from Aldi).  My inflation rate is highly food-related, as I’m not much of a consumer.  Things must be much worse for those closer to the bread line.  Bank of England figures at 5 and 7% are puny in comparison with what many of us are experiencing as shoppers.  My petrol allowance doesn’t go up, but petrol does.  I’m worse off.

There are some scary figures about in The Economist on world food prices.  Many of my former economist colleagues ‘aspire’ to teaching students to be able to read what the Grauniad, Times and Economist print on the subject.  I have flattened my expectations to soup over recent years and why we pump irreplaceable helium into space via children’s balloons.  Balloons are important in economics, as bubbles burst.  If you can answer the question, ‘is there any such thing as free soup’, you are probably a better economist than me, or those who believe economics is about making money from demand.  There are big questions about why my average can of soup went from 25 pence to over 50 pence.  Did I set a trend and demand double?

World food prices have risen by around 50% in the last year.  It’s much worse for wheat prices.  Countries that import a lot of wheat per capita happen to have ‘street unrest’.  Whilst my ‘Tinned Soup Price Liberation Front’ is not yet active on the streets of Britain, bread prices may have some part in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and food riots elsewhere.  Demand for wheat has not doubled, but its price has.  One can ponder on how this has been ‘manipulated’.  My guess is that it has to do with surplus capital in the banks that have just “borrowed” so much from our public purses (in the end our pockets).  They have form for inflating property prices, including buildings designed for non-existent Irish people, after all.  I think it likely that the cost of wheat is particularly high where it is imported in great quantity per capita.  I have the theory, but lack the data.  The broad brush is that something like the property fraud is going on, because property no longer cuts the accounting mustard, even with banks ‘marking to model’ rather than market (that is, not showing their true losses and hoping we will stand them again).  Food may somehow be the latest Ponzi.

This said, places like India and China, which generally produce their own wheat, may be about to increase demand.  Perhaps a third of China’s wheat-bowl is under drought conditions.  The pictures in this link are worth a look. http://shanghaiist.com/2011/02/10/in_pictures_chinas_worst_drought_in.php?gallery0Pic=2#gallery

I have explanations to offer in detail.  The gist is we have long conflated democracy, in the West, with a politics that is really about bread and circuses through which rule of a libidinal economics takes place.  This all has a long history.  My guess is that the bowl of soup with which I start my first meal on our long-weekend and the roll and butter, have greater connection with bwanking bonuses than I will bother to think in time off with Sue.  The answers are not really going to be “intellectual”.  I hope to explain why.

Cameron and Osbourne now look (inside a year) like Tory Twaddle Twins.  Their “plan” is to turn us into the ‘New Ireland’, a tax haven for global corporates, maybe like the Caymans without the weather.  Blair was the ‘third twin’, which makes sense in mark to model accounting.  Our laws have been changed to accommodate this, with companies now allowed to count earnings abroad for tax purposes here.  We have no politics in which to contest any of this, other than the drivel forced on us by people presenting themselves in suits and an accessorised media filling air-time with 365 24/7 undergraduate pouting.  The basic UK bid is to show us entirely unlikely to have politics meaningful to people, and politicians easily bought with jobs in the boardrooms of banks and big companies intent on capitalizing on Britain as an offshore financial brothel.  Even FIFA might consider relocation here!

Global Grumpy?

James Howard Kunstler is a good example of some very sceptical American thinking – http://kunstler.com/blog/2011/01/forecast-2011—gird-your-loins-for-lower-living-standards.html#more

The basics are that most of what we call banking is a scam, any recovery is just a re-elaboration of the scam, most of what we call ‘the economy’ is about pointless crap and we’d be better off having lives rather than globalism.  Scary reading, a bit like Banksidebabble or the better ‘evil poor – police farce’ stories on Gadget writ large in the idiot global economy.  Britain is cast as a European and Middle Eastern banking centre with little other economic activity.  China is probably being screwed by an even more corrupt banking system than ours – one without even minimal scrutiny, building empty cities that may put Ireland’s ‘Ghost Towns’ in minimalist perspective.

Kunstler is worth a bit of a read.  The question is what might make us wake up to reality.  We have a legitimation crisis, something done to death in academe as ‘postmodernism’ for 30 years.  He suggests the moment may come through an Indian war against Pakistan.