Work Ethic

In memory, a Goon Show starts with the sound of matches being lit and tossed into water.  Neddy Seagoon is trying to set fire to the English Channel, in order to cash in on the insurance policy Moriarty has ‘foolishly’ sold him to protect against this contingency.  I forget how it all turned out.  Neddy is, of course, tossing lighted matches into rocket fuel, which is what water is before electrolysis to hydrogen and oxygen.

These were my confused thoughts listening to El Cameroon’s podcast on turning Britain into an entrepreneurial nightmare of spivs selling aircraft carriers with no planes on them to India.  I had to make something up to tolerate the ghastly dross he was speaking.  He is as crazy as Blair poncing on about frog-marching drunks to cash machines, or pretending he was capable of making more sensible decisions on foreign wars.  I’m fairly convinced our politics is run by the CIA.  There is nothing for me to vote for.  What I believe in is never on the agenda beyond the blogosphere.

Satellite view of the English Channel

Image via Wikipedia

My view is a bit like Gadget’s in that I see a welfare dependency, ghastly moral corruption and farce.  I just can’t pin it on a brainless evil poor, or even a vile and corrupt nexus of politics and management – though I see these in action daily.  We have to see our own roles in the decadence too.  Policing is just one place to  focus on the wider demise.  We are all part of the decadence and the welfare dependency.  This is not to say, as Dr. Heinz Kiosk was apt in ‘Way of the World’, ‘we are all guilty’.

‘Money’ (whatever it is now) is detached from labour value, and its useful purpose in exchange.  This argument dates back at least to Aristotle, as does ‘retailing’ as a contempt word in Plato.  I have no doubt we need fairness, spirits of adventure, cops who protect the peace, invention and some way of being together creatively – a positive response to our plight.  Yet we seem to want to manage this without staring the world in the face to get a grip on what is going on so we can fix it.

Napoleon once derided us as a ‘Nation of shopkeepers‘, though we were, in fact, the nation of ‘balance of power’ foreign policy.  Sometime after the failure of the Corsican’s own military ventures, successful only in reducing the average height of Frenchmen, imperial powers met in Berlin (1861) to arrange to cut up the world’s resources.  The French, British and Russians intended to invade the USA on the pretext of supporting The Confederacy.  A little more determination there might have saved the world from canned laughter and the US foreign policy that out-imperialised us all.  Instead, more important matters such as Belgian dominance in the unspeakable rubber trade were sorted.  Britain now resembles the gruesome Athenian Democracy at its end, unable to build ships, organise its armies, and perhaps hoping those we have been fighting in long wars will take pity and remember some of the good we have done.

The radical change that might help us now, would be to really go down the freedom route and stop the production of docile bodies as wage and mortgage slaves scared to lose livelihoods (the microcosm here is IG‘s ‘I can’t come forward, I’d not be able to pay my mortgage’ – though it’s more complex than this).  Cameron is suggesting ‘entrepreneurial millennialism’ – a very old and dull cry.  We need a much deeper change in employment and wealth sharing relations than this.  I take some comfort from the failure of vapid Sino-Soviet terror-communism, but we should remember both these massive countries have been successful in military ventures, space technology and so on, as well as abject bastards to their own people.  At least our thinking can be free of marxist thought-licensing.

My own preferred places to start thinking involve humour.  Douglas Adams‘ notion of a planet ridding itself of its middlemen only to die out because there was no one to clean the phones is the classic.  Revolted as we should be to discover via Gadget or the Daily Mail of ‘evil poor rich bastards’ living it up on dole they never contributed for, the real welfare dependency in the UK is the vast horde of those with acquired wealth or paying themselves fortunes for abilities to prod leather-wrapped pigs’ bladders in the right direction with their meta-tarsals  or to suck on chocolate dipped strawberries whilst planning to fuck the typing pool.

No communist fantasy need ensue from such thinking on reality.  We just need work and fair pay back along with some idea that the old work ethics are not appropriate now.  You need an image of workers breathing cyanide, tossing bars of sodium as skilfully into a furnace pot as Bond was with his trilby to hat-stand, and one of a modern factory with robots singing opera top get some idea we are half-way to Robot Heaven and should not return to worker hell.  We need a new work ethic.  More than 30 years ago the notion of Quality of Work Life was suggested and abandoned.  This would do.

Without Robot Heaven, we can’t all sit  around on our arses all day but sweet sod all.  This doesn’t mean we need a system in which some turd gets rich off the backs of Pakistani kids sewing soccer balls for a pittance either.  Nor does it mean the public should have to put up with some untrained newbie just out of training school as a response officer because cops with more sense got themselves onto 9 – 5 squads or into chocolate-strawberry eating training – in other words onto benefits while some poor sod does the real work.

We need to take some real risks in the belief we can organise a country worth having.  We have brave people, mostly boys to someone of my age, dying and being traumatised for memories as unimportant as mine of a Goon Show.  We should recognise our history and build a better future.  Cameron is talking populist crap only fit only for the toilet.  Is it surprising a Cabinet stuff with millionaires is talking up their own interests and doing nothing about offshore tax havens and money laundering centres?  We’ve been conned.

The problem with our politics and society is our inability to think in argument.  We just take sides, without thinking that all the arguments may be piss.  I am not likely to care whether anyone is Tory, Labour or Liberal.  I just want to know, in principle, whether they would help to keep the street clean, the neighbourhood free of crime and help to kids with crap parents.  Hopefully, I’ll never need to know, but in practice I know we can’t even rely on most people to do their jobs, let alone muck in.  Strong positions on free markets and socialism are frankly barmy.  Neither get anywhere near being theories that might help us live better together, or get on with lives that might be radically different.

Entrepreneurs mostly get their business ideas from the employers they rip off when they form their own businesses.  Often, the only reason workers can’t do this is either finance or restricted practice.  Other entrepreneurs hang around waiting for the next fad like coffee shops.  Yet more reverse-engineer their entrepreneurial, self-made images, having been left only a few houses by an aunt.  Cameron is hardly entrepreneur material is he?  Can’t see him down the market selling the silver spoons his mouth was full of at birth.

What we need to know is how much work we should have to do as our fair proportion of what needs doing, before we get into political argument.  In full Robot Heaven, the answer to this would be ‘none at all’, at least in terms of what we now term work.  Bastards in the past have come to this conclusion by making people robots (slaves), and I suspect we still live under this govern-mentality.  We need new ideas that are free from millennia of idiot history in which groups kill each other and we piss such a vital resource as helium off into space via children’s balloons, most not even knowing why it is vital and irreplaceable.  The market trader is fine, but not writ large as society.

Political debate and the alleged consultation of changing policing share much in common.  There is no essential deconstruction to see if differences between interests are real or just rhetorical, and no scenario building to see what we would need, working back from what we hope to have.  There is nothing new in any of it all.  Magic solutions like making us all work longer whilst raising unemployment, should really make us worry.  We would probably lose a war with the French now.  Thank goodness they are too civilised and educated to be bothered.

Sensible Secular Politics

The world religions will land somewhere near astrology, witchcraft and Greek mythology on the scrapheap. In their place we will have a thoroughgoing understanding of human flourishing, which will include even the most rarified and traditionally “spiritual” states of human consciousness.  The scientific study of morality is the lever that, when pulled, will completely dislodge religion. Once we accept the idea that right and wrong relate to questions of well-being, and that such questions have answers that will be best illuminated by honest observation and careful reasoning, then we can decide, once and for all, that certain people are not worth listening to on the subject of morality.

Consider the Catholic church. This is an institution that excommunicates women who attempt to become priests, but does not excommunicate priests who rape children. This church is more concerned about stopping contraception than stopping genocide. It is more worried about gay marriage than about nuclear proliferation. When we realise that morality relates to questions of human and animal well-being, we can see that the Catholic church is as confused about morality as it is about cosmology. It is not offering an alternative moral framework; it is offering a false one.

The above is from Sam Harris, and I have long  believed the world would be a better place if we moved to a more rational feeling for evidence. Essentially, I dislike rationalist fantasies that one can decide on questions as to whether god exists or find one method suits all solutions to what life is about and should be about.  What we should be looking for are more sensible ways to structure societies that are not based on myths of origin and investment in continuing the lying about them.

I’m afraid this leads me to some pretty desperate feelings about democracy.  Only tiny proportions of our people are capable (given current education) of critical reasoning, and we all live under regimes of false history.  Hardly anyone seems to be able to come to argument for mutual understanding and to flourish with others.  Even those who once fled to escape persecution soon turned to their own persecutions of others.  Even science (the real thing rather than Frankenstein versions) is too difficult to learn to provide much hope, as if we try to base decisions on it we rely on people having its world-view, or trusting to those who do or claim to.

Much the same is true of politics.  A great deal of information and history we need to make sound decisions is either hidden from us, or too difficult to learn.  We teach about thinking problems like stereotyping, halo and horn effects and so on, yet even people taught generally continue to fail to recognise their own failings and incompetence.  My guess is that much political correctness is just a sublimation of needing to maintain one’s own false notions of competence by being superior to the projections made on others.  Religion, of course, is full of such ‘chosen people‘.

Sociology has explanations of why we keep ‘sump people’ to despise.  The evil poor are just one example.  No doubt, as a vague atheist (I’m a believer really, just not prepared to eat dross), I am sump to some.  Bwankers are another sump people.

These days, the ConDem have us all in it together.  Yet some of them are banking overseas, and they don’t seem to take action against those who threaten to take their ball overseas at the drop of a levy threat.

In all that we are doing, we seem to assume we are somehow worth our salt.  Where is the evidence for this?  What is fair about the relative ‘worth’ of our bloated rich and favoured middle class, and someone keeping a hospital clean?  Why is a police inspector or senior lecturer worth seven times a cleaner, and so many senior managers worthy of millionaire status?  Why are the idle rich so much more worthy than the idle poor?

Newsnight does not discuss pension age with guys with backs broken in construction, women with arthritis still cleaning for a living – it brings in rich prats to speak for them.  One woman in a wheelchair with MS gets more said than all the clown reporters.  I don’t believe in uniformity, but we need a levelling.  When I look around, I see mainly docile bodies, scared through religion or social myths of other kinds, scared they cannot survive without their sinecures.

We are so scared, we think we cannot live without the priests.  In ancient Peru, one tribe used its ability with water preservation to control many others.  They had a special relationship with the gods.  I see nothing different in the claims of ACPOs to know about policing, or bankers to be the only special people who can communicate with the gods of money.  The Peruvian tribe died slowly when found out.

We need to get back to hard work building capital, not myriad Ponzi transactions.  I suspect, internationally, the West and its money-lenders have been found out.  Our politics is incapable of helping us.  The Pound, Euro or USD in your pocket is being devalued as you breathe.  Rents are going up as property prices fall.  We can’t get on with all kinds of new projects, despite massive unemployment and under-employment, and have to cut jobs.  What totems are we worshipping in all this?

We could no doubt all work until we are 75 or just die.  I’m quite badly disabled now, but could manage call-centre drudgery or even teaching as an on-line tutor (I catch bugs too easily now to face actual contact) for another 15 years, depriving some 20 or 30 something of the job.  Cops could go on in similar vein in offices and evidence-taking and so on.  Obesity may threaten, but you can jog on a treadmill as you type on the PC, perhaps cutting the public sector electric bill.

This is a world of plenty and half-way to Robot Heaven, yet we can’t organise population size, quality of life and even fairly sharing out the work needed to be done.  In the UK, we voted for change and got the same lying, spinning, misrepresenting jerks we ‘got rid of’.  I caught Clegg admitting his own lying just after the splendid wheel-chair woman had revealed some of the truth – his facial language after his own response was utter guilt, before his politically corrected savvy kicked back in.

The ACPOs who so slavishly lied for NuLabour have now corrected their rhetoric.  Town Hall clowns will do the same.  Tins of soup are up from around 30 pence to 55 pence.  We are looking at freezes and cut-backs as such prices rise – and they tell us all this is not focused on the poor?  The rich, who cannot possibly use much of the money they “earn”, suffer along with those about to go hungry?  Rooney wants to leave MUFC for even more money he cannot spend, and no doubt more cops are being turned out to protect him than the next Fiona Pilkington.

Just as no one can really produce evidence for the existence of god (or absence), we have no evidence about the existence of super-heroes in business and finance (sure some make loads-a-money, but their explanations make no sense and money-managers generally may as well throw darts at shares).  Rooney is a better striker than I was on my odd amateur ventures in the position, but not a better player than Alec Murphy was in my preferred code.  He is not an excuse for the financial madness of today, just an exemplar of it.  Better forwards than him were greengrocers two years after being laid-off.  Bobby Fulton, the best Australian at the time, came to play for a crappy Warrington side, to say thanks to his foster parents.  Geoff Pimblett, a St. Helens’ fullback, asked the umpire to reverse his decision to give me out (he was a really quick bowler too) when I was 13 and somehow keeping him out.  Ray French was umpiring at the other end.

We now despise people who don’t earn their corn?  Yet elevate utter clowns on fortunes and think our new system is fair?  Now we must work forever, when Rooney can earn enough in a week to retire?  The evidence here is that our system doesn’t work, and that it holds us as much to ransom in terms of soccer players as bankers.  It’s time we took our ball home!

The pay of ACPOs and their ilk across the public and commercial sectors is based on the Rooney model.  These great people are supposed to be as scarce a supply as other stars.  Rooney can go to Real Madrid (please), bankers to Bahrain (even me); we could, of course, have a different kind of competition with globally agreed salary caps and find a different sense of communion and fellowship.  This would entail us being less religious about money and less stupid on leadership and history.