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.


Decriminalising the police (to let them get on with preventing crime)

A happy New Year to all the decent officers we can’t do without.  All our lives would be better if we could find a way for these excellent people to get on with keeping the peace.  I’d like to see a lot of policing decriminalised, from the odd bent cop who turns up to a lot of what makes up day-to-day coppering.  The aim would be to find a way to value police work and officers in a different way.  All very challenging, with a need to better understand the challenges on the street good officers put themselves in the way of far more than some.  The system will never be immaculate (except on HMIC visits), but it could be easier to work with, and both more democratic and effective.  What analysis there is tends to be managerial-financial, and needs to start with the street-level even for any of this to work.  My suspicion is that the discipline society needs cannot be enforced or encouraged by criminalisation.  This need not be some kind of ‘leftie liberal whinge’ as we could proceed with a view to coming down harder on disorder and dire behaviour.  We need something radical because our CJS is a busted flush.  We lack a real public dialogue on this and what really affects most of our lives.  In the meantime, brave men and women get it in the neck in a system that is ‘criminal’ in all the wrong ways.  Good luck to them.

The most discussed decriminalisation concerns drugs.  I’m generally in favour, because the ‘war on drugs’ doesn’t work, and is part of the creation of a wide criminal industry.  This, of course, can’t be the end of the story.  Apart from treating the issues through a medical model, there remain severe nuisance problems (not coped with well now) and criminal adaptivity (what rackets might be created and where would the criminality transfer).  Questions remain about how much of the bulk of current minor crime and violence could be subject to alternatives to police action if we could understand them differently and how new procedures could be effective and tough, rather than wet.  There are clues in the average IQ of people passing through police hands (dumb), the welfare sponsored, sub-minimum wage economies exploited by wealthy criminals and lack of alternatives in legal employment.

There seems little doubt that we have created a monster in our public services generally.  There is a fatal nexus of managerial over-staffing, over-payment and bent performance management that suits politicians in power.  I suspect even the financial drain of this exceeds all criminal industries put together, and that the real costs on moral and lack of necessary change exceed this in real, personal terms.  We end up with an excuse culture that is hostile to fair criticism and shuns responsibility.

There is a general tendency to set up an ‘evil poor’ as the problem, perhaps as minority groups have always been set up.  Yet it is other interest groups that grow richer.  We have an over-populated managerial-political class that interferes with everything, yet under-manages and creates systems that suit its needs, not the problems we face.  ACPO is a classic example, but only an example.

The decriminalisation process needs to replace current IPCC, HMIC and PSDs with a single body taking account of local public concerns (no elected police chiefs), victims’ representation and civilian organisation of complaints.  The rest is about getting a great deal of effective power to street officers through decriminalised processes as far as possible, in order to release our forces into work that is real policing, to break the cycle of hopeless, recidivist cases and drunken mile regulation.  It would be interesting to know more about who and what actually causes the need for so much expenditure on wasted cycles of recidivism in the tide of petty crime and antisocial behaviour, even to the extent of protest movements of those who feel there is no alternative to turning out on the streets, or into shops and businesses perceived as not playing fair.

The problems that need taking into account extend well beyond anything police officers do, and what we want them to be able to do and they cannot.  Glib phrases like ‘tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’ need to be treated as dire lies, unless they are costed and worked through in terms of how they are to be effective other than as political salesmanship.  What we have is complex problems that feed many vested interests and wallets.  We need a grip on what the costs of the vicious circle are and who is bearing them, who is retaining the money and whether any of the actions being taken are likely to reduce the costs or change any behaviour or quality of life.  I suspect the police fail so much of the time because they are dealing with symptoms not the disease and the real problems that should not, in the first place, be in their remit.

There is no point in doing projects that have massive and obvious costs we can’t afford so politicians can point to ‘success stories’.  We need to take the whole bag on and accept a change in balance on civil rights towards the maintenance of a right to quiet peace.  Things are so bad, we can’t even get this in many classrooms, let alone the drunken mile or next door to drug addicts.  The answers are complex, but we can’t even seriously talk and debate the problems.

Ireland Is ‘Bankrupt’ – but could we get a hold on underlying corruption?

It’s hardly news now that Ireland is bankrupt, at least as far as a country can be.  I suspect Portugal, Italy and Spain may be in deeper.  The following article looks at the situation 4 years ago.  We tend to forget just how obvious the problems were a long time ago, and have not be told the truth about how it was all hidden and denied.


The BBC now reports – There are 621 ghost estates across Ireland now, a legacy of those hopeful years. One in five Irish homes is unoccupied. The obvious question of who people imagined would live in all these new-builds makes Irish people wince now.

About 1 in 30 homes in the UK are unoccupied.  It we go back even further to the collapse of the ‘thrifts’ in the USA, we find a story very similar to that in Ireland.  Decent local banks or building societies that did standard local trading taken over by dubious and crooked interests and getting into massive trouble in a property bubble.

My own belief is that economics is not at the base of any of this, but crime.  My thesis is that crime has now replaced imperialism in money-making fundamentals, themselves largely detached from relations with hard work.  We see little real evidence of how ‘success’ is achieved in our systems, and a great deal of evidence we can’t quite ground of success being about who is doing the accounting – from Anderson, Enron and on to ‘crime figures’ in the UK which hardly account for much going on, other than very old offences that are probably marginal to a much wider core now.  I have seen schools and academe enter into severe corruption on standards, which always improve whilst we really go backwards.

The Prohibition Years are often regarded as important in US organised crime development – and we have much under prohibition – the drug trade is probably 1% of World GDP (massive when one compares this with agriculture at 4%).  We  also have massive taxation on nicotine and booze, plus huge retailing costs.  Crooks like high levels of tax and retailing costs as they don’t pay the first and can cut the latter severely.  Money laundering through building is well known.  I’m pretty sure I see politicians in the company of people who could be the kingpins in this.

In the UK we are probably all paying £50 or so extra on car insurance because of ‘crash for cash’, often with Asian links, linked again to drug and gun gangs – one wonders about terrorism, but I have other ideas on where this money goes.  I’m not convinced there is much real regulation, partly because of the Irish case and how blatantly flawed its bubble was.  If we are that dumb, how can we know what is going on in hidden worlds of crime and finance?  Someone knows how to make transaction money in all this and how to integrate criminal money.  This was the story of the US ‘thrifts’, which also included building houses that could never be homes.  I wonder how much cash is liberated through transactions that in the end lead to a worthless pile of bricks and mortar?  All we seem to be told is that we foot the bill, not who has had it away with the loot.

Maybe we could export some people to Ireland’s empty homes and off vast housing benefit claims in London?