Cameron’s White Heat of the Technological Revolution

Cameron said a lot to agree with today, yet one has to doubt whether any of it is worth spit.  I rather like the idea of a private sector that builds our infrastructure through a regulated utility programme – but think here the very system we could do with operating like this is banking.  Leave that as it is and the private companies who come in will do their accounting offshore, evade tax (it’s not avoidance) and we’ll end up paying them economic rents.

He’s right, of course, that we have lacked vision – but why then rely on building a historic myth about the private sector (as big business) on which to build a vision?  We need to build our vision on reality, not a pack of cards.  To get private money one has to compete for it and productive business has been failing in this regard since the 1970s – because money has been allowed to make money in the manner that has led us to the banking collapse and the redirection of tax-payer money to fund what were actually losses.  Presumably, no private sector money is going to come to Britain unless the return on its capital matches or beats what the financial cavaliers offer?

Even Apple, about as “successful” as it gets, has done this through offshore manufacturing and tax evasion made legal.  It is worth more than the total of all US retailing in market capitalisation, and responsible for how many US jobs?  The big problem for the Cameron dream is not the sensible vision of new technology, infrastructure and the rest – it’s the total failure to address how we can get investment in such sensible things without ending-up paying unsustainable rents to companies evading tax, and why such an obvious and rational ‘plan’ (I can remember Wilson’s ‘white heat of the technological revolution’ – which was not dissimilar) isn’t  already built all around us.

The financing of the Channel Tunnel was a disaster – interestingly the private sector couldn’t even manage to finance and run a near-monopoly.  I’m all for a decent private sector, but not one that needs to route its profits and due tax through offshore transfer pricing and obtains these profits through economic rents rather than innovation, continuous improvement, re-investment and the kind of good management John Lewis represents.

Cameron is right we need to encourage investment.  Why then so little focus on how this needs to be structured?  And why are we so dumb as a public we are probably inclined to see his speech as inspirational?  I was so dumb at ten in the days of Wilson I was inspired to go to university to study chemistry.  He saw much of the problem as to do with ‘hot money’ and banks that did not finance the right things in Britain.  Cameron’s speech is just rhetoric to draw our gullible attention away from what really needs fixing.

I wouldn’t actually start with the banking system, though I do believe banking needs to be reduced to a utility that matches savers and borrowers – and probably should also regulate proper accounting.  This is a global problem needing a democratic solution agreed and set by the peoples of the globe.  Government has no place other than administration in this.  It’s pathetic we can’t come up with Cameron’s plan or our version of it and get it funded.  The real first place is ideology and the ease with which politicians manipulate this.

Nationalisation versus privatisation has long been a dead duck except in political manipulation.  What we really need to do is plan and implement investment that pays off for the planet and lives lived on it.  The pathetic assertions of economics and government have clearly failed to do this for at least a century after the point we knew what to do.  The problem is the very competition Cameron assumes in his thinking.  We don’t actually create the conditions for this other than through literature and myth working on mass ignorance.

The answers are pretty clear, but we lack the balls.  I can’t remember Cameron’s politer term today (nerve?).  Most of us live and die within a few miles of the end of our streets, and barely develop understanding beyond that culture, formed through habit.  One has to say such geographic parochialism didn’t stop Kant, but he was a rare bird.  One only has to look to the Internet and its use to see how easily this parochialism transfers to the global.  Pornography and gossip still dominate what is searched for.  Facebook and the rest attract quite brutal “local” behaviour.  The first problem is admitting how bad most of us remain – though I’m a believer in underlying goodness and redemption.

I think a good historical case study of sport might show this up rather well.  I played rugby league in days not long after high tackles moving from being the specialism of some players, to illegality.  To side-step was to risk one’s teeth and jaw and I don’t remember much protection from the referees.  In soccer, ‘Old Firm’ and other derby matches were brutal and I was coached more man-and-ball tackles in that game than in rugby.  No we have the use of technology in decision-making (I crave a retrospective use on tours to Pakistan!) – the drift is towards ruling out cheating, though it’s clear from the tunes played by the merry whistle-blowers and such matters as Thierry Henri’s hand-ball that plenty still goes on.  One ‘games’ the rules – of course.  There’s a story on human nature in this and, importantly, what we can do to change behaviour.  The transparency and technically aided refereeing of sport could transfer to banking and the business of productive investment.

I’ve played in some far away places (including Ellesmere Port!) in unrecorded games of utterly bent refereeing – amazed the bastard concerned had the brass balls to give his decisions in front of us.  I was generally a good sport, but lost it in such circumstances.  The banks want to play without recourse to rules and yet introduce the ‘goals’ scored in the Dark Pool in the game we can watch.  This is akin to Wigan being allowed to claim points scored in an alternate universe next Friday against Warrington, or, if the Wire play as badly as last week, store them up for the next game they find themselves losing in.

I would take the highly elevated pay of today.  But I know most sportsmen would be content with a fair salary cap.  To take lower pay now is to cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face – but all that’s needed is structural and regulatory change – everyone in the dressing room was once on the same match fee contract.  Widen this across all industries and bring about severe taxation on economic rents and a land tax and what do we lose?  Watch the 1978 Rugby League Challenge Cup Final and tell me the lads playing then couldn’t put on a show as good as any now.  That’s from the days when losing pay might equate to the buys fare home.

What we’d lose is the rich – and why would this be a bad thing?  The only excuse they ever give us is that they will desert the country.  They do in time of wars with conscription too.  It’s time we worked out who and what they are from facts and not myth.  Try not to be so stupid you won’t know what an economic rent is until the day you can’t afford to use one of the new toll roads!

Why do we allow institutions to set rates of pay and bonus?  Why do we allow banks to lend money as though the money belongs to them?  What would you think about someone who brought his own Monopoly Money printing press to a game and bought up Mayfair with it?  Why is government money always the alternative to private money – note it’s never ‘yours’?  What really motivates people (we know quite a lot from experiment)?  What happens when  people get so rich they can buy politics (we’ve known for over two millennia)?  Economics proceeds as though none of this matters.



Who Would You Rather Lose?

So now public sector workers are fair game for pay freezes until they match their regions private sector levels.  Our armed services are losing good people to more attractive pay guarding ships from pirates.  Our cops, if they have any sense, will be applying to Canada, Australia or the EU if they speak anything other than English.  John Yates is no doubt on a good bung in Bahrain, where his ability to turn a blind eye will be useful.  I am also off to sell my skills abroad, though this won’t extend to ignoring torture.

Public servants in the UK can expect pay cuts to bring them in line with the Chinese-serf levels the private sector manages through its innovation, creativity and competition.  The rich, meantime want more and more or they will all go abroad leaving the country they ‘owe allegiance’ to to sink to its knees.  Who do you think we can afford to lose – skilled professionals in health care and the public sector and armed services, or a bunch of shits who think they are so special the deserve salaries that amount to more than a life’s earnings for most?  I rather gave my own view away there!

I think we should have a cull of those allowed vast wealth now – I’m rather against killing people off, but we could just strip them out of our system at around £80K a year equivalents and give them three months to settle elsewhere with their in demand skills.  Rooney would no doubt leave his ‘beloved’ Manchester United and City have to put out the youth team, but who cares – do we really think we  haven’t got replacement talent to run the necessary show?

Even in the “industries” (like children’s games played by men) where the best have to prove themselves on level playing fields on open display, there is no need for the absence of reasonable salary caps (this just removes the competition via money element).  When you can hire bent accountants to “prove” success it’s even worse.  I’d be happier to live amongst people who accept reasonable pay and wealth retention as part of an obligation to everyone else, than grasping Einsteins (which they ain’t) prepared to live off the backs of everyone else – where will they be if we go to war – next to you in the trenches or suddenly off on holiday to neutral territory?

I understand “modern economics” and have seen how little benefit those on big  pay bring, and how the wealth is manipulated through various offshore, transfer pricing dodges, land and mineral theft and the rest.  We can do better than this pornographic society and have the technology to rebuild from the bottom-up, embodying management knowledge into a machine utility needing regulation.

In Bahrain, a colleague was asked to prevent an IT system operating at a particular point so a favoured bureaucrat could make decisions. A bit like the days when police investigation systems produced format (more or less wordperfect) incompatible with prosecution systems – with the outputs needing re-typing.  We are doing this over and again in management and finance, largely to allow fraud and the high-paying jobs of the machine overseers whose skills are obsolete.  The last successful innovation in financial services was the ATM.  Give me decent cops, soldiers, nurses and doctors to form a community with, not money-grubbing creeps selling bags with the smell of cakes, or bananas produced at subsistence wages at a price inflated by offshore management dodges to ten times the price that would provide a fair wage for pickers, transport and retailing.

The truth about most work is that it is routinised and we need to share it under fair exchange and regulation.  We have failed to organise a fair global society, yet insist that management organisation is so good its worth 150 times the reasonable salary we can’t pay our  soldiers or public sector workers.  In science, stuck with a core research programme as dud as this we’d abandon it.

UK 2012 And The Rolling Lies Of Debt

Britain is much worse off than statistics claim and our vapid bimbo-media lead   Part of that lazy thinking that inspires journalists to keep speaking of “the government” spending money on this or that, as if “the government” were somehow sitting on an infinitely large pile of “government money” that most of the time it was unreasonably withholding from worthy causes.  This money essentially comes from the people.  Further lazy right-wing thinking then starts to say we must rely on a healthy private sector and treats tax as an evil.  We need deeper thinking than this.

Before getting to the depths, one needs to understand we are being lied to and that a big confidence trick is taking place.  The reason our economy is knackered is not because successive governments have indeed pandered to subjective worthy causes with money that those governments did not possess.  Stuff like hospitals and the rest of the public sector arise because the private sector is crap.  Otherwise Mr. Plod and surgeons would be working for it.  We will be paying bill. It is not government money because the government doesn’t have any. It has liabilities only. It is taxpayers’ money.  Yet we would be spending the money to “private landlords” otherwise.

The only achievement to date of the UK’s coalition government has been a triumph of PR – hardly surprising given that PR appears to comprise the only work experience Cameron has ever had outside politics.  Our ignorant media is complicit with the line that the British government has started to deal with the grotesque debt inherited from the previous government. Yet government spending was actually higher for the fiscal year 2010/11 than under the last year of the hapless and reviled Nulabour.

The UK debt figures are also much worse than conventionally believed because 2011 debt including “interventions” stood at  about £2,270 billion as at September 2011, or 150% of UK GDP. To this we should add public sector pensions (£1,100bn+), PFI (£400bn+) and sundry other off-balance-sheet obligations of the state.  The bleak real summary is that after five years of supposed austerity, UK government spending will be back to 2005 levels… but with twice as much debt.

There has been no real austerity yet in the UK, unless you’ve lost your job or benefits, or seen your pension halved.  There has been no real deleveraging in the global economy at an aggregate level either.  Global credit market debt stands at $220 trillion, having grown by 11% annually since 2002, versus 8% nominal GDP growth (and no one really believes this nominal figure).

I understand people wanting government off their backs, but is the public sector really the great drag or is it really a highly inefficient private sector that is the problem?  Nothing is more private sector than the banks.  We’re in much deeper than we’re being told and part of this is the expectation that the private sector is just waiting for the opportunity to bring about a rally.

If the problem is the public sector we seem doomed the the privatisation of health, education, policing and the rest.  There  is no evidence this is a good thing.  Drivel about private sector efficiency isn’t going to help us.  The actual system is that the government is lying about how bad it is and using the clapped-out private sector cavalry bullshit.  Nothing has been done for 4 years now except extend and pretend in the hope of a windfall from “growth”.