Category Archives: A Secure Social Infrastructure

Core Belief 5: A Secure Social Infrastructure – The entitlement of all people to live their lives with respect in a secure social environment that supports and prioritises Education and Employment, a Home to rear a Family, Healthcare and a secure Retirement as sacrosanct.

Capitalism . . . Creator of Poverty

The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.” – JFK

According to one of my financial heroes, Bill Bonner, money is not wealth. It simply measures wealth like a clock measures time. Wealth is what has been produced, is made available and that which you can buy with money.

When banks print money out of thin air it is like adding an extra hour to a clock. It doesn’t make time any bigger, it simply distorts it and disorients the observer. What counts with money is that it is honestly made available to purchase goods and services. Honest money cannot be separated from the real economy where those goods and services are produced.

Say’s Law offers the wisdom that “You buy products with products . . . not pieces of paper.”

QE in the US, Europe and Japan is following Zimbabwe in separating money from the real economy. Trillions of dollars have been printed that mislead everyone into thinking they are wealthy, until they see the need for a wheelbarrow full of this pseudo wealth to buy real wealth – a carton of milk. We aren’t there yet but that is where we are headed!

Similarly, profit is not wealth but merely a measurement of overall business efficiency. When you combine these two illusions you arrive at the curse of the 21st century . . . debt. Debt offers the most efficient means of producing profit, by producing unreal money with few overheads.

With all of this in mind let me give you my perspective on what is going on and remember I’m no economist, but even to my simple mind we are now heading to an almighty financial catastrophe. I will use the car industry to make my point but the principles can be applied across today’s financial world. Continue reading

Banks & IMF Are Out of Control

As a species we are fallible and we recognise this in our attempts to construct laws and regulations which address human weaknesses and flaws. They are by no means complete and human fallibility continues to wreak havoc, more so when those same laws and regulations are removed or neutered by vested interest.

My regular readers will know that one of my hobby horses is the continued abuse of Greece by the Troika, something that is killing innocent Greek people through deprivation and despair. At the heart of this destruction is the IMF and its policy of ‘austerity’ that obligates countries indebted to it to cut social support programmes and hand over sovereign assets at discounted values.

“The organization’s objectives stated in the Articles of Agreement are to promote international monetary cooperation, international trade, high employment, exchange-rate stability, sustainable economic growth, and making resources available to member countries in financial difficulty.”

Further on from this, the frightening scope of its powers are clearly laid out.

Whilst the Fund can “make contracts, acquire and dispose of immovable and movable property and institute legal proceedings” from which nobody is immune, the Fund and its employees “are immune from every form of judicial process” and its assets “free from restrictions, controls and moratoria of any nature.” This includes freedom from any form of personal taxation for all 2400 employees!

With this unprecedented level of unaccountability, the Fund can do whatever it likes. In the case of Greece, it has done precisely this without seeming care or concern, in what has now been described as the ‘immolation’ of Greece. (Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines immolation as “to kill as a sacrificial victim”, which is the stand I have personally taken over the whole violation of this country.)

This lack of accountability has now been firmly placed in the spotlight, (with similar brutality), after its own internal watchdog, the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) submitted a report  to the board, (to whom they are solely accountable), which has roundly condemned how the Fund is being run.

Its top level staff have misled and misinformed their own board into becoming the champions of the euro project and which has led to catastrophic misjudgements on Greece. They have also failed to grasp the basic concepts of money theory that ensured they completely ignored the warning signs of an impending crisis within the EU, a ‘serious scientific and professional failure’.

EU insiders have used the fund to rescue their own pet project, with an unprecedented 80% of all available funding being used to bail out Greece, Portugal and Ireland. An ethos of misleading seniors was also extended to the IEO, in its investigations of the activities of “ad-hoc task forces”, where decisions and provision of information remained elusive.

Heads have turned to its managing director Christine Lagarde, who is now to stand trial in France over corruption charges and who has responded to this report with a statement that offers ‘qualified’ acceptance of its contents. Something I interpret as “I hear you” and no more.

This arrogance, by the boss and her organisation, has led to an era of negative interest rates that is devastating savings and the future of pension schemes, whilst ruining the banking system in its wake. Their policies continue without any recovery, or hint of recovery in sight. Here lies the true cancer created by the inbuilt lack of accountability written into the Fund’s Articles of Agreement.

It goes to the very heart of why we need regulations and accountability to guard against the horrific abuses that can occur when human fallibility is not held in check. Millions of people’s lives have been ruined by the mismanagement of this powerful organisation and its independence must surely now be put in question.

And all of this at a time when the European Banking Authority has just conducted a ‘stress test’ across the European banking sector and nobody has failed, nor has anyone passed, as there are no criteria for such assessments.

Instead a rescue package has been put together to stop Italy’s Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena collapsing and Deutsche Bank, defined by the IMF as “the world’s most systemically risky bank” is being ‘scrutinised’.

Of the 123 lenders covered in the last stress test in 2014 less than half have been covered this time and none of Portugal or Greek banks have been included. Neither will the results of 56 other banks that have taken the tests be published.

Like the IMF, lack of accountability and secrecy reign and beg two questions. Firstly, what was the point of these tests, other than giving the appearance that some form of regulation is being carried out. Secondly, what is the true extent of the fragility of these banks, given the millions of people are dependent upon them for running their personal and business finances.

This last point is even more significant when you consider that the world banking system is a carefully controlled cartel that is not open to competition. Cartels and monopolies offer the very worst of attributes of human fallibility in the unaccountable power and control they provide and a complete immunisation from healthy regulation and governance.

Thatcher and Reagan opened up the financial markets to unlimited growth and power, which has accelerated exponentially in the last 40 years and is now bringing the world to its knees, with an impending financial collapse that will make 1929 and 2008 seem but hiccups.

Only today the man convicted of the UBS £1.4 billion fraud, the biggest in British history, said that “major banks have done little to tackle the culture which allowed him to carry out his crimes”.

Indeed, the Financial Conduct Authority dropped a long-running enquiry into the culture of banking at the beginning of the year, with suggestions that former chancellor George Osborne had exercised pressure on the industry following last year’s surprise election win.

Never has there been the need for the re-emergence of democratically supported political power to bring these financial monoliths back under control. We need regulations that have teeth and can break the conglomerates up and return us to a banking sector that supports the needs of Society and not the needs of the few.

I worry that we hear nothing about the regulation of the financial sector from those seeking political office, either at home or abroad. It was strong leadership that gave them their power and it is that self-same strong leadership that can take it away again now.

Until the next time

 

Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to the 99% . . . If They Want It! By J T Coombes

Chilcot and Accountability

With its publication, it now becomes understandable why the results of this Inquiry have taken so long to come into the public domain.

First commissioned by Gordon Brown in 2009, its findings were then vetoed by the then government, along with a successful appeal by the Foreign Office to block it because it would present a ‘significant danger’ to UK/US relations (some ‘Special Relationship’!). The fact that there was an impending election in 2015 further delayed its publication, which had already been put back to 2014.

In spite of the hope by parliament that it ‘would go away’, Sir John Chilcot has now finally presented his detailed findings to the public with all their sordid content. I don’t think there is a person in this country who is not shocked and its aftermath will remain with us for some time to come.

In amongst everything else, what was particularly abhorrent to me was the final confirmation of sending British troops into war without adequate protection. War is designed to kill people, both combatants and civilians and those who join up do so in the certain knowledge of this risk. They commit to the understanding of that risk when swearing the oath of loyalty:

I… swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will, as in duty bound, honestly and faithfully defend Her Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors, in Person, Crown and Dignity against all enemies, and will observe and obey all orders of Her Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors, and of the generals and officers set over me.

They are “duty bound, honestly and faithfully to defend us against all enemies”. HONESTLY AND FAITHFULLY! Where was that same “honesty and faithful dedication” by our government and armed forces, to fully equip those men and women before they put their lives in danger whenever their services are called upon?

Of the 179 servicemen and women who lost their lives in Iraq, how many were ‘murdered’ by our government because they were not properly equipped to go into battle? Even more odious are the photo ops by Blair, at which combatants who did not have full kit were replaced by those who did and with whom he is seen smiling and shoulder hugging?

Yesterday the nation watched as this man read from a carefully and legally vetted paper how he “believed we made the right decision”. How can it possibly be a right decision that sends ill prepared men and women to face potential death? How much does lack of equipment reduce the chances of winning, or is this what Blair meant in his undertaking to Bush that “I will be with you, whatever”?

His attempts at emotion and near tears whilst delivering his version of the truth simply added insult to injury and as one father, who had lost a son, commented “He was acting”.

In the cold light of day Blair went into politics with ambitions to be a major player on the world stage. He sought the support of not only the world’s most powerful political leader but also the world’s most powerful religious leader, when he very publicly converted to the Catholic church in 2007.

When he handed power over to Gordon Brown, also in 2007, he did not remain committed to the country, as so many ex PM’s have done but left parliament and with the initial help of G W Bush pursued his business interests, amassing a reported £60 million fortune to date.

Whilst he has been quoted as “Labours most successful leader” it has been at a price that questions the validity of such a statement. I do not seek to judge him, we are all fallible but rather thank him for giving British Society the opportunity to search our collective souls and focus upon power and its effect upon that fallibility.

Blair’s government, it now becomes increasingly clear, was run by an ‘armchair cabinet’ who seemed to only inform the full cabinet after events, thereby eliminating proper and thorough debate. Its strategic activities were carefully managed by twice disgraced Peter Mandelson. How the media reported those activities was even more carefully managed by a very adept Alistair Campbell.

Accountability was also carefully removed from the democratic equation by these people, as Chilcot has now shown. Not only is our political establishment’s current ability to govern limited, by corporate lords and masters who dictate what that limited government policy is but accountability is also only applied up the line to those corporate sponsors and not to the people who elected them to power.

Our whole democratic and political environment is now rotten to the core, with the exception of Jeremy Corbyn, who is the only beacon in this horrendous wilderness. He needs all the support he can get if we are to stand any chance of bringing the governing of this wonderful country and its people back from an abyss that Neoliberal values and politics are now taking us.

Sir John Chilcot points the direction forward through his diligence and perseverance, together with a choice of words that leave no ambiguity as to what aberrations our political class are capable of, if not properly supervised. It is that supervision we must now focus upon and the British people are better placed than any to do this.

We are now only accountable to ourselves and as such the job becomes more manageable without distant interference. We must begin by insisting upon another general election, to either support or not the intentions of the new Tory leader and not repeat the undemocratic handover of power that occurred with Labour.

Let us work together to get our own house back in order and then we can address the problems of the outside world, setting an example of what people driven democracy is all about in this 21st century.

Until the next time

 

Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to the 99% . . . If They Want It! By J T Coombes

Wanted UK: New Leader/Party/Vision

With the aggression intensifying by the financiers, it becomes more obvious to me what an unpleasant world Neoliberalism has birthed. Manipulated markets are wiping trillions of global stocks and European banks are collectively on the verge of collapse, if some have not already done so. It appears nobody is safe and democracy is now being blown out of the water. This is what it must have seemed like in those dark days before the outbreak of WWII.

If this is the case, I would sooner go down fighting than give in to a repressive regime that cares little about the quality of life of the average man and woman. I will therefore continue from yesterday’s piece

 

If the statistics are to be believed, we have not only an ‘Exit/Remain’ split across this country but also a subdivision in age, with the young favouring ‘Remain’ over the older generation. This is understandable, I believe, because the older generation have known a more caring and much freer Society than the one in which our young have grown up.

Politicians globally have lost touch with the people, showing they care little about those people and more about the corporations who finance them. This is the gap we now have to bridge. People want something to believe in that restores their dignity and a new sense of purpose that is not diminished by Neoliberal values of debt and control.

We are in need of what I would refer to as a ‘Mandela moment’. When this great man came to power, in a seriously divided South Africa, he sought a distraction with which to bring the people together and found it in football and the 1995 World Cup in South Africa.

The UK now needs a new leader with vision and I would suggest his ‘football match’ could be a party manifesto like no other. Something that addresses the fundamental problems of our Society today and which will provide not only a distraction from our separation from the EU but more importantly, a means by which to heal the wounds of our now divided Society, which is the legacy of both Westminster and Brussels.

We have a blank sheet on which to write the sort of country we want to live in and something we must act upon with total conviction. Such a manifesto might include the following bullet points that direct Society away from the destruction of Neoliberal values and towards a more inclusive and nurturing Society:

Reversal of ‘Austerity’ – ‘Austerity’ has only ever been a source of plunder from the poor to the rich and we must return our public utilities and transport infrastructure to the public domain. In so doing we could make inroads into current unemployment levels through government contracts, something that happened to relieve the depression of the 1930’s.

We must also look at how we might ‘charitise’, rather than ‘privatise’ our social services, by seeing how possible it would be to turn many services over to the charitable sector. Government support would obviously be forthcoming but support for the needy would be better served by less political interference in those services.

Banking – To follow the Swiss model, by introducing public banking services, to run in tandem with our private banks but which focus upon those areas the private banks show little interest in. This would include the financing of our homes and small to medium businesses, all of which are critical to the development, growth and functioning of our Society.

We already have an infrastructure in place with our Post Offices and the income from these banking activities would be returned to Society in the shape of funding our health and social services.

Virtual money is looming on the horizon and its development needs to be supervised by government, to iron out the flaws and working practices, before sharing it with the private sector.

Taxation – This whole aspect of Society is a relic from our past and does not reflect the world of today. To better protect our Planet and its dwindling resources we must look to taxing the use of those resources instead of the profits we make from them. This would also ensure corporations pay tax on what they use in this country, paid for in this country and thereby diminishing tax avoidance.

Housing and Pensions – I believe these two aspects of our lives are now interlinked in dramatically improving the overall quality of the lives of working men and women. They are not only fundamental in providing a home in which to bring up a family but also the means by which to ensure financial security and independence in retirement.

Homes must become affordable again to the young and this can only be achieved by changing their basis of valuation away from market prices to rebuilding costs. By gradually stabilising prices in this manner, the savings in mortgage costs can be diverted to fund personal pension provision. (It would also give a much needed boost to house building and the subsequent knock on effect to jobs.)

We are all living longer and the cost of pensions can only escalate if we continue to retire in our sixties. That has to be paid for and diverting income from overly expensive mortgages to pension provision, coupled with tax incentives, is beginning to address the provision of a greater security for all of Society.

(As an aside, with current central banking policies of negative interest rates, a pensions time bomb is now ticking away as pension providers struggle to find suitable balanced investments with which to fund secure and ongoing income to those already in retirement. Something our politicians and media are keeping very quiet about!)

Commerce and Trade – With no more Brussels ‘red tape’, government can move more quickly to address the areas that affect our future. The most pressing must be Artificial Intelligence and its effect in reducing jobs for humans in the workplace. Work gives purpose to our lives and these reductions will lead to serious unrest in future.

Britain’s great openness to trade has come from a successful history of exploration, innovation and exploitation. Today it specialises in high tech productivity sectors which include finance, high tech manufacturing and business services.

Innovation and quality have always been strong attributes of the British people and we have a whole new world of technology screaming out for those very talents, in an era when encryption will become a growth market with which to fight increasing personal surveillance.

We have the talent and must focus on how to create a more supportive environment for small businesses and individuals to flourish and grow, opening up a healthy environment in which to challenge the ‘Too Big to Fail’ corporations now choking Society.

Media – For too long the British people have been subjected to the propaganda of a mainstream press that are carrying out the agenda of the globally powerful. We must return these powerful influencing forces back to the nation, that we may better manage our Society from accurate reporting of the events occurring within it. We should therefore look to limit the financial involvement of overseas investment in our national media to 45%.

The BBC would not escape in this respect. Here, bringing balance to reporting might be achieved by opening a BBC ‘Indy’ channel which would provide for the independent news media to have a powerful public platform upon which to present their stories, with adequate controls on accuracy and inflammatory comment.

Democracy – Let us again adopt the Swiss model by handing power back to the people, with people driven referendums. We have the resources now to do this, as recent activity around the Referendum last week is witness to.

Increasingly, parliamentary power should be carefully devolved to County level, with local ‘Senates’ allowing local people to express and implement their influence in how local matters are run. Commercial ‘Senates’, comprising Employers, Employees and Consumers, the latter of whom contribute to the wages and products, breaking the traditional deadlock between Employer and Employee.

The Houses of Parliament have a part to play in making the break with the past, by being turned over to tourism as a ‘6’ Star hotel that charges the rich ludicrous amounts of money for the privilege and status of staying there.

This would help finance a new high tech Parliament building, relocated out of London, which would signal our MP’s coming closer to the people and end the confrontational design of our current parliament, which only supports a two party system.

Its design would not only enable equal discourse by all parties but facilitate people following live debates. Anyone could contribute to those debates through screens in the debating chamber, with their opinions expressed on ‘Twitter like’ messaging board, along with similar other technology that no longer makes lobbying purely the province of corporations.

Education – For too long the education of our future Society has been viewed as a profit centre and this abuse must stop. We should be investing in our young and preparing them to go out into the world that awaits them. Student debt must be replaced by a commitment to remain in this country for a period of years as repayment for that investment and preparation. Academy schools should also end, before they sell off every playing field in the country.

Conclusion: All that is covered here seeks to open up our Society and bring the talents of the many to bear on the problems we now face from the policies of vested interest, which have fuelled the widening gap between the haves and have nots.

It is but a thumb nail sketch of only some of the many issues Society now needs to consider if we are to call a halt to an autocratic rule that is seeking to return us to feudalism.

The issues of climate change, nuclear power, equality and so much more can only be dealt with once an infrastructure is in place that enables the contribution of all in the debate.

This is the opportunity I see our ‘Exit’ now offering us. To become an independent beacon of 21st century values that improve the quality of all our lives and provides a template for others to follow, if they so choose.

If there is a leader out there, might I suggest his or her new party be called the Carta Party, in recognition of the need now for freedom from oppression and a respects for the individual rights of all . . . but then I am biased!

Until the next time

 

Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to the 99% . . . If They Want It! By J T Coombes

 

The Brits . . . From Zero to Heroes

Britain photo

Harold Wilson was attributed with the phrase “A week is a long time in politics” and never was this truer than the events of this last weekend, beginning with the official declaration of our vote to leave the EU, on Friday morning.

During that day it would be fair to say that the British people were fairly well castigated by the media and those in Brussels. Even the boss, Juncker, demanded our immediate departure and then went off in a strop when asked if this heralded the end of his empire.

We had created global panic which, viewed objectively, came down to the powerful suddenly losing control, as the British turned the tables and voted against that abusive control for the first time since Magna Carta.

Apparently our actions wiped two trillion dollars off global stocks. A frightening statistic, were it not for the fact that this is all ‘paper’ money, of no intrinsic value and glaring evidence of just how unstable our current, debt choked, financial system actually is. On the positive side, these losses go towards the rebalancing of wealth across the globe.

How our situation changed in just 36 hours, with a complete reversal of attitude by the most powerful man on the Planet, Barak Obama. If you remember, in April he came over here and remonstrated with us by declaring:

We must go “to the back of the queue” and would not be able to strike a trade deal with America “any time soon” if it leaves the European Union.

And now, less than two months later:

“The people of the United Kingdom have spoken, and we respect their decision. The special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is enduring, and the United Kingdom’s membership in NATO remains a vital cornerstone of U.S. foreign, security, and economic policy.” The United Kingdom and the European Union will remain indispensable partners of the United States even as they begin negotiating their ongoing relationship to ensure continued stability, security, and prosperity for Europe, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the world.”

Vice President Joe Biden also piped up with: “I must say we had looked for a different outcome. We would have preferred a different outcome … but the United States has a long-standing friendship with the United Kingdom and that very special bond will endure.”

This was then followed by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who echoed the sentiment from President Obama.

He said: “The UK and the EU are important strategic partners for Canada with whom we enjoy deep historical ties and common values.

“We will continue to build relations with both parties as they forge a new relationship.

Next we have Germany who, according to the German newspaper Handelsblatt, reported an internal leaked document that stated the German finance ministry is already planning the terms of a possible associate membership for Britain.

(Of course they are, we are one of their largest export markets! Also, we are one of the major contributors to the EU and they want us to keep contributing as long as possible, as they will have to find an extra €3 billion to replace this when we leave!)

The World Trade Organisation also jumped on the bandwagon, saying it was prepared to help Britain after the vote to leave the bloc.

In general, former British colonies often feel they have a special opportunity for trade and investment with the UK, with which EU commitments sometimes interfered. They now hope to step in to fill the vacuum left by UK departure from the EU.

The oil-rich Gulf Cooperation countries may see additional buying opportunities in the British market after Brexit. BBC Monitoring reports.

The British people have called the bluff of the biggest global Neoliberal player and their European stooges and won. (Even our own armed forces were voting to leave because they had no intention of fighting in wars created by American foreign policy.)

Scary as it is at this moment we remain a world player and very much a part of the global trading club who, it appears, can neither afford, nor do they wish to lose us.

Support is coming thick and fast from other directions, with 6 member states now looking to follow our lead, as France, the Netherlands, Italy, Austria, Finland and Hungary want to hold referendums. And let’s not forget Germany, where electors are already screaming about Markel’s handling of immigration and who will now have to find this extra €3 billion in EU contributions when we go.

These are not peripheral players but lynchpins of the EU and demonstrate the true strength of feeling in Europe now. Speaking personally, all I ever wanted to achieve in voting ‘Leave’ was not to break with our European friends and colleagues but rather to break the power of Brussels and it may now be that this is happening.

Could the situation be turned around?

In my opinion, if Juncker went on global media and said “he was very, very, very, very, very, very (six will do) sorry, and they have got it all wrong. They will immediately cancel all negotiations about TTIP, abolish the European Commission, Central Bank and Court of Justice, along with the euro and transfer ALL executive powers to the European Parliament” and then publicly prostrated himself on the ground in abject humility, then there might be a basis upon which to start again and rebuild the EU . . . but I’m not holding my breath.

All of this, however, pales into insignificance compared with what now faces the British people at home. We have a seriously divided country and the political establishment responsible for that abuse is in total disarray.

Never was the wisdom of Albert Einstein more apposite than now, where “the thinking that created the problem is totally incapable of solving it”. Over the last three months we have seen career politicians of all sides lying, cheating and conducting themselves in such an unprofessional manner as to lose any remaining respect the British people might have had for the political establishment.

Whilst these antics have got a result, it has been achieved without a full and frank discussion with the people but rather sound bites and point scoring on emotive issues. They have been happy to divide us with not a thought or concern as to how they might re-unite us afterwards. Now we find ourselves in a situation where the point scoring and sound bites continue, as a power grab takes place with the main parties.

This is politics you might say but what thoroughly nauseates me is that ALL concerned have no idea where to go from here, even if they get the power, as none of them have even a soupcon of a vision for our future.

Whilst Boris is no fool and I love his eccentricity, so typical of the British and now in short supply in a PC world, I would not trust him further than I could throw the Houses of Parliament and the same goes for his mate Gove.

Jeremy Corbyn is one of the very few political leaders, here and abroad, whom I would trust but he does not inspire me and his lacklustre performance over the Referendum is now paying the price, although God forbid the Blairites come back to power.

(In both cases, we should not allow the undemocratic actions of Blair and Brown to be repeated again. Each party may choose a new leader but they must then satisfy the country of their intentions. Will he or she continue the manifesto of their predecessor, or will they take us off in another direction? We must be made aware through a general election, so that the new leader has the continued support of the country, or we decide to place it elsewhere . . . that is accountability and democracy all wrapped up in one!)

Then there is Nigel Farage, who I saw described “with the smile of a ventriloquist’s dummy” and who speaks to our ‘Britishness’ but who again lacks any vision for the future.

In Scotland we have Nicola Sturgeon promoting all of the divisive tactics of her English counterparts by making a play for Scottish independence. Let me quickly say that she has my absolute respect in triumphing in a man’s world. However, she is also using the moment to further her own power, by taking the Scottish people away from the 5th largest economy in the world and into an EU that is now collapsing around her ears.

The people of Britain have just made the biggest decision of their lives and have been left in limbo whilst career politicians frighten us with desperate grabs for power and no idea of what they will do with that power to take the country forward into the future.

What I see in all of this is ‘17th century’ politicians playing ‘17th century’ politics in the 21st century. The whole question of democracy, financial systems, taxation, the environment and so much more, remains as abusive as is was several hundred years ago and has not only divided this wonderful country but will take us to our own destruction if we do not radically change our present Society and its values.

What is lost in all the fearmongering and cheap rhetoric is that we now have a blank sheet upon which to build a new and inclusive Society. On the 23rd of June we proved conclusively, to ourselves and the world, that we do not want to return to the Neoliberal values and political creeds that dominated us up until 22nd June 2016.

We now have the opportunity to rebuild our wonderful country with meaningful values that revoke all that is divisive and abusive and show the world a new model of what a supportive and fully involved Society is capable of. We are not an outcast in the world and could hopefully be an inspiration to others, as we already appear to be a rallying point for our friends in Europe.

We owe it to ourselves and our young to strike out, as mistresses and masters of our own destiny, to find a more supportive Societal model that can only come from adopting a longer term outlook in the policies and practices we implement.

It won’t be easy and can only begin by looking to our most important responsibility at this time. It is certainly not our exit procedure from Brussels, that is political formality, but to concentrating every fibre of our individual and collective being into healing the current rift that has been inflicted upon us by career politicians, both here and in Brussels. Even more so with the call for a fresh Referendum seeking a different outcome to the last.

We must promise ourselves that ‘divide and conquer to rule’ is something we will no longer tolerate as 21st century citizens and look to birthing a new Society that benefits those who pay for it, over those who exploit it. At home this means our English government bringing people back together again, whilst competing with Edinburgh to create a Society that will entice our Scottish friends back into the fold in an equal sharing union.

Whilst I am sure I have stirred up some controversy, I would ask you to reserve judgement until you have read my follow up piece tomorrow, which will give you the full picture of what I am driving at.

Until the next time

 

Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to the 99% . . . If They Want It! By J T Coombes

EU Cart Before The Horse

Regulation photo

History shows that ever since we first roamed this Planet the laws and customs by which we live and interact evolve in line with the current state of Society. The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines ‘law’ as:

“a rule or system of rules recognised by a country or community as regulating the actions of its members and enforced by the imposition of penalties”.

This recognises that the laws of different communities and races, colours and creeds reflect the prevalent socio-political norms of each particular Society. The laws of developing countries will be different to those of Western democracy, reflecting the level of how ‘developed’ each culture is.

Whilst the history of law-making dates way back to the 21st century BC, the oldest written laws on record were those of the Babylonian king Hammurabi in the 18th century BC, who created 282 laws that set the standard of conduct and justice for his empire of ancient Mesopotamia. The essence of these laws sought:

”to prevent the strong from oppressing the weak and to see that justice is done to widows and orphans.”

Even that far back they included the establishment of a minimum wage for workers. Field labourers and herdsmen were guaranteed a wage of “eight gur of corn per year” and ox drivers and sailors received six.

Society’s laws are often derived from religious beliefs, as well as civic procedure, some of which have remained in force right up to the present day. The doctrine of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ was not instigated by Magna Carta but rather copied from Hammurabi’s ancient dictates.

I would offer therefore, that Society, (‘the cart’), is directed by democracy, (‘the reins’), which steer government, (‘the horse’) and its regulations, in the direction Society is travelling.

All legislation is introduced, amended, or discontinued to reflect the current climate of Society and its needs. The law that required a man to walk in front of a motor car with a red flag to safeguard pedestrians, is no longer relevant.

200 years later and we see the enactment of legislation to ban smoking from public places, in recognition of our change of direction on cigarettes and how they endanger our lives. This is evidence of a properly functioning Society

The reverse is the case in an authoritarian regime.

Here rules and regulation are enacted to control how that Society functions, rather than reflect how it functions. By the very nature of an authoritarian environment, those rules are also inflexible, to maintain that control.

The ‘cart’ is put very much before the ‘horse’, who is pushing Society in the desired direction. Invariably, the regulations are biased to support one sector of Society at a cost to another sector.

In the case of the EU we have, for example, small businesses overwhelmed by bureaucratic red tape, which large established corporations can afford to accommodate. This has the effect of stifling the growth of new businesses, the accepted life blood of commerce and trade, encouraging a protectionist monopoly situation which supports the control of markets and prices.

Authoritarian control can also be seen in the Treaties that support the bureaucracy of Brussels, which are ‘welded’ onto the statute books in such a way as to inhibit any changes to the desired status quo.

Over the last 40 years EU Treaty change has occurred about once every 10 years on average and shows a regulatory inflexibility that is ill equipped, or desirous, of meeting the requirements of the hugely diverse cultures of the 500 million people over which it holds sway.

One simple example, right at the heart of this rigid bureaucracy, illustrates how these carefully constructed Treaties support an abusive authority and offer little or no benefit to anyone else.

For years now, each month the European Parliament, (that is all 751 MEP’s, some of their staff and all their paperwork) up sticks from Brussels and travel 200 miles to Strasbourg where they spend four days voting on all they have talked about in Brussels.

Currently, we are talking 3000 people being transported by two specially chartered trains for the MEP’s – dubbed the Euro Track Express – with their staff, translators and general helpers travelling by other means. This is all backed up by a fleet of lorries that, in convoy, transport 5000 plastic trunks full of official papers over the 200-mile journey and back again.

The annual cost to the taxpayer of this regular spectacle is £150 million, which includes the upkeep of both bases. Within this figure is £2.5 million for the relocation of freelance translators, £1 million for catering, £250,000 for the lorries and £200,000 for the trains.

The absurdity of this monthly relocation is recognised by everyone involved. Indeed, the MEP’s have constantly lobbied for it to be stopped but it has fallen on deaf ears. It seems it would take a ‘Treaty change’ to remedy the matter but after the troubled ratification of the Lisbon Treaty there is little stomach to go through the arduous process at present.

I question this, as in 2010, Angela Merkel declared there could be no Treaty change on ‘bailouts’ and in that same year EU leaders agreed to a €440 billion bailout fund . . . over a weekend! It appears that what is ‘impossible’ can be quickly overcome, particularly where the EU’s second largest economy is at stake.

In an era when we have deregulation of commerce and the banks and zero hours’ contracts for the working population, this type of immovable regulation is directed at the protection of power, emphasising the vast gap between what the 1% control and that which the majority control.

These ‘concrete’ treaties, for the protection of the technocrats and their growing federation/empire, do nothing “to prevent the strong from oppressing the weak”, whose taxes pay for it all.

Here we see how the cart has been put before the horse. History shows how this contempt for the people eventually results in the fall of all empires, including Rome and Ancient Greece.

Once again, in this 21st century, we are plagued by the power driven ineptitude of career politicians and technocrat’s intent upon a self-destruction that they believe they are immune from.

Whether we remain or leave, it is something that will come up on our radar with evermore regularity, demanding we retake the reins and direct our cart away from the looming abyss.

Until the next time

 

Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to the 99% . . . If They Want It! By J T Coombes

‘In-Out’ Truce . . . Says It All

Parliament photo

When I was young, if a felon was imprisoned for a crime that included carrying or using a gun the other inmates would ostracize him for the duration of his internment. Such were the values in Society in the 1950’s.

It is true that whatever the group, be they criminals, politicians, students or club members, the atmosphere of that group is directly affected by the person or people running it. What a diametric change we have seen in Society’s values since I was a child growing up in South London.

Whilst I believe the majority of people who go into politics do so, like Jo Cox, to try and make change for the better, somehow these values get eroded as they make their way up the slippery pole to positions of power.

Maybe it is human fallibility that seduces them and that the original integrity that bought them into politics is subsumed by power. Nowhere is this more apparent today than in the abysmal conduct of our leadership, as we are bullied with lies and dubious statistics, designed to subvert the will of the people into blindly following the current political agenda of both sides.

So obvious is the lack of political integrity over the Referendum ‘debate’ that vast swathes of the electorate have switched off and many remain ignorant of what the real issues are about. That is a failing that can only be placed at the feet of those who run our country.

They are responsible for setting Society’s standards and the lack of respect they are showing to those who pay their wages can only come from a total lack of their own self-respect and self-worth.

Did it take the tragic death of a young woman, who was dedicated to improving the lot of her fellow man and woman, to call a halt to the verbal depravity we have been assaulted with? Will those responsible reflect upon this moment and question their current contribution to Society and the shallow values they are inputting from their places of high office.

Will they take the time to try and find and resurrect those early values, I’m sure they too held when they first came into office . . . care, concern and an overriding desire to improve the lot of the rest of us. There was a time when politicians held our trust and now perhaps it is time to look to their laurels and use this special moment to find ways and means to re-engage with the electorate and win back that trust.

The media are also accountable for what has happened, as they too shape our Society and its values. All I have seen in the last 24 hours is the usual frenzy of sensationalism, with attacks against the minority on Social Media who bring the majority into disrepute. From the BBC to Murdoch’s ‘redtops’, we need honest and robust reporting of the events that affect our lives and not the odious propaganda we are now constantly fed.

It would be a fitting tribute and memorial by all concerned if integrity were to reappear in these public arenas, instigated by a dedicated MP whose life was cut short. It would also be an insult of monumental proportions to that life if business continued as usual.

Have a thoughtful weekend my friends. Next week is a big week for all of us.

Until the next time.

 

Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to the 99% . . . If They Want It! By J T Coombes

Are We Approaching ‘1984’

Throughout our history there have been people who have been publicly credited for their intuitive skills, of which Nostradamus and Leonardo da Vinci are probably the most famous. The formers quatrains, many agree, successfully pointed to the French Revolution, the Rise of Adolf Hitler, both world wars and the first two nuclear bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Leonardo da Vinci, one of our most iconic geniuses, is credited with the foresight to see the potential of the parachute, helicopter, tank, submarine and hot air balloon. A foresight which saw inventions that would transform our lives four or five centuries after they were originally conceived.

I don’t for one minute believe these ‘seers’ were predicting the future per se but rather that they had some intuitive abilities, of which we are all endowed, to recognise what humanity is capable of. With da Vinci this is very much the case as, once the technology had evolved, his foresight became reality.

For me this begs the question, “what comes first, the chicken or the egg?” Did they actually see the future, as it appears Nostradamus might have done, or did they give us the idea of how to apply our latest evolved technology, when it arrives, as was the case with the submarine and helicopter?

I ask this to bring focus upon another famous ‘seer’, George Orwell and his thinking about world domination in his book ‘1984’,   published in 1949 and often compared to Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. At the time his writing was stimulated by the growing domination of Russia on world affairs.

His depiction was of a world order that controlled life on Earth by perpetual war, deception, secret surveillance and manipulation of past and present events. All achieved by a carefully controlled propaganda machine, directed by a totalitarian and authoritarian state that now bears a striking resemblance to authoritarian Neoliberalism today.

The Obama administration have certainly achieved perpetual warfare during the two terms and we now have the technology capable of invading our privacy. Worryingly this type of surveillance is being expanded, rather than controlled.

Like Winston Smith, the character in Orwell’s book, we are now manipulated by distortions of the truth from political and corporate leaders, of which the present UK Referendum and American Presidential election are evidence to and more so now than ever before in our history.

There are those who call this thinking, ‘conspiracy theory’. Here I am reminded of the definition that: “Conspiracy Theorist is someone who questions the statements of known liars”. Conversely, if we look again at da Vinci, it could be argued that our current world leaders have taken Orwell’s work as a political ‘manual’, from which to create and shape their desired vision of the future.

To this end, last week we had the latest Bilderberg Group meeting in Dresden Germany. Founded in 1954, the Bilderberg conference is an annual meeting ‘designed to foster dialogue between Europe and North America’. This meeting is not called by the EU or any government or democratic global body but a substantial contribution to costs is met each year by us taxpayers – what isn’t these days?!

(In 2013 the policing costs in the UK were put at £1.3 million of which Bilderberg offered £500,000. Given the size of our contribution it was bizarre that David Cameron attended in a private capacity, without attendant civil servants, as is the norm when he meets business leaders!)

This year there were a total of around 130 participants from 20 countries, made up of a diverse group of political leaders and experts from industry, finance, academia and the media.

(The credibility of the official list of attendees has my doubts as some people were conspicuous by the absence – The Rothschild’s and Rockefellers, to name but a few and George Osborne’s name appeared and then disappeared from the list!)

‘Key topics’ for discussion were:

  1. Current events
  2. China
  3. Europe: migration, growth, reform, vision, unity
  4. Middle East
  5. Russia
  6. US political landscape, economy: growth, debt, reform
  7. Cyber security
  8. Geo-politics of energy and commodity prices
  9. Precariat and middle class
  10. Technological innovation

Each topic is a mystery in itself – China, Russia, Middle East but what intrigued me was the word ‘reform’ in 3 & 6, as well as ‘middle class’ in 9.

On last year’s agenda was the topic of a ‘cashless Society’ and we have seen during the course of this year an increasing emphasis upon this subject by the media to get us used to the idea, as well as moves by the banks to begin restricting the use of cash.

Do we read from this that the destruction of the middle classes will continue, as is now happening in America and the UK? Its destruction, along with the increase in the ‘precariat’ (those with unstable employment), is certainly contributing to the increasing gap between the rich and the poor.

China, Russia and the Middle East are all targets of increasing US aggression that is becoming more evident as the year progresses. ‘Reform’ of the US and Europe is no less intriguing as it suggests changes to Society and how it is run that do not/will not involve the people concerned through the democratic process.

As I said earlier, we are again paying for something we have no say about. Indeed, the concrete barriers, iron railing and armed security guards inside, as well as outside the hotel, demand no interference in this event, as well as helping to provide the all-important veil of secrecy so critical to the organisers and participants.

Our taxes are increasingly being diverted from providing a supportive infrastructure for Society to supporting the commercial activities of the powerful and in so doing are returning us to a type of serfdom we have not experienced for several centuries now.

I am an optimist by nature but the manner in which world events are now being conducted points to an accuracy of prediction by Orwell that is extremely unsettling.

It also makes me think that it is quite irrelevant how we vote next week on the EU. It is simply a diversion that has us temporarily focussed upon something we have absolutely no control over in the grand scheme of things . . . unless we wake up!

Until the next time

 

Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to the 99% . . . If They Want It! By J T Coombes

(Im)migration Can Only Escalate

Immigration photo

As Brussels struggles and fails to instruct and legislate its way out of the immigration surge to Europe, it is becoming very clear that this is a global problem that will not go away and can only escalate.

There are four distinct types of (im)migration, two of which are modern day phenomena.

First we have ‘traditional’ migration which has been going on since we lived in caves. Our birth environment no longer gives us the life we are looking for and so we migrate to other areas, be they near or far, in the anticipation of finding a better life.

Then we have ‘enticed’ migration, by which countries seek workers to develop their economy. This too has gone on throughout history and is pertinent where colonisation is concerned. Such were the cases with America, New Zealand, South Africa and Australia for example.

Next we have ‘induced’ migration that results from forcing, rather than enticing, people to leave their homes and has been historically attributable to violent conflict. We see this repeated today with Europe, as the unrest in the Middle East escalates and the horrors of terrorism force people to flee.

The second type of ‘induced’ migration is one of the new phenomena that has arisen as climate change, through global warming, is raising sea levels and literally eradicating whole landmasses, forcing people to migrate to dry land.

Given that the fears of global warming are now becoming accepted, as the counter attack by vested interest loses credibility, more of our land masses will submerge beneath the waves and force people to relocate, whether within their homeland or abroad.

Finally, we have the second new phenomenon, with what I call ‘technology’ induced (im)migration, which is as a direct result of our inventiveness. In an era where tribes people, such as those on the Serengeti, continue to hunt with a spear whilst also now communicating by mobile phone, it is causing a breakthrough in the traditional ignorance of millennia that has previously kept us apart as a species.

It is here that the real future problems lie, as less developed Societies are awakened to a better life elsewhere and determine to seek it out. In many cases, that determination may well come from realising that they have not, nor are they ever likely to benefit from the use of the abundance of natural resources being stripped from their country by global corporations.

It is also the realisation that their wealth is being used to benefit other parts of the world and not benefitting them. With the awakening and growing understanding technology is bringing, it is not unreasonable for them to say that if it is their natural resources that are supporting the wealth of others, then they are just as entitled to go and benefit from it as the plunderers.

It was the Dalai Lama who put his finger on the very crux of this problem when talking recently about the issues within the EU, observing that “It’s impossible for everyone to come to Europe”.

The earliest (recent) European experience with this type of refugee has resulted from a growing awareness of our wealth and benefits systems in the UK, which has acted like a magnet to the less privileged. In trying to ‘contain’ this activity, the people of Calais and the surrounding area are experiencing growing unbridled lawlessness that the police seem incapable, or unconcerned about managing.

This video opened my eyes to what the future holds and comes from one residents personal account of the reality of ‘trapped’ refugees turning into vicious gangs who run rampant, inflicting beatings, rape and burglary upon the local population.

What is so perverse about the refugee scenario in Europe is that the same politicians now wrestling with this influx of desperate people are responsible for their original exodus. Greed and power have caused the destabilisation of their homelands and that same greed and unaccountable power is now causing the destabilisation of Europe.

What we are dealing with here is 18th century politics and trade in a 21st century world and the two dynamics are simply not reconcilable. Never was Einstein’s observation more pertinent than now:

“The thinking that created the problem is totally incapable of solving it”.

It is a problem that is already overwhelming us and technology will be the dominant force behind migration in the future, escalating the numbers seeking a better life, as it continues to educate and open up our previously closed world.

Over the next decade, the need for the evaluation and reconstruction of global politics is a subject that will also come to dominate our lives from many perspectives, of which immigration is just one.

Until the next time.

 

Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to the 99% . . . If They Want It! By J T Coombes

‘Austerity’ . . . This Will Kill it!

Are we now seeing the beginnings of the destruction of the financial and corporate world as we know it? If this month’s Finance and Development report from the IMF, no less, is anything to go by, with its headline “Neoliberalism: Oversold”, the writing is certainly on the wall.

Before I go any further let me just offer a couple of official definitions of Neoliberalism so that we are all singing from the same hymn sheet.

  1. A modern politico-economic theory favouring free trade, privatisation, minimal government intervention in business, reduced public expenditure on social services etc. Collins Dictionary
  2. Neoliberalism is a policy model of social studies and economics that transfers control of economic factors to the private sector from the public sector. Investopedia.com

Over the last 30 years or so it has become very noticeable how there has been a gradual erosion of democracy, countered by an escalation in corporate power and unregulated abuse which caused the financial collapse of 2008 and continues unchanged to this day.

Interspersed with this we have been assaulted by ‘Austerity’ measures across the globe and which, it has become increasingly clear, are a device to sell off public assets at a discount to the private sector.

In addition, there has been an escalation in debt originated money supply that has placed governments in varying positions of obligation to financiers. Because of this ‘obligation’, lenders have not only demanded ‘Austerity’ but also increasingly violated the democratic process by ‘quietly demanding that governments go against, or ignore, the wishes of the people.

Both of these abuses were particularly evident in the case of Greek debt. Here a (newly elected) government referendum against continued ‘Austerity’ measures was not only ignored but harsher terms were inflicted, in what appears to be a punishment and to deter any repeat of such action in other debtor countries in the EU and elsewhere.

We have also seen public outrage and demonstration against the odious TTIP agreement, Fracking and in the UK the gradual destruction/privatisation of the NHS. These actions have been equally rigorously ignored/defended by governments and the non-elected technocrats in Brussels, showing a complete contempt for the people who actually pay their wages and expenses.

All of the above, plus a whole lot more, can be laid fair and square at the feet of the application of Neoliberal doctrines, as time is now showing. What time is also demonstrating is that they don’t work and are simply benefitting the already rich, by increasing their wealth exponentially at the expense of the many.

The bombshell this week is that the IMF experts, in the shape of Jonathan D. Ostry, Prakash Loungani and Davide Furceri, are actually confirming what we already know. I quote from the heading of their report

“Instead of delivering growth,

some neoliberal policies have increased inequality,

in turn jeopardizing durable expansion”

The paper goes on to say:

“Austerity policies not only generate substantial welfare costs due to supply-side channels, they also hurt demand—and thus worsen employment and unemployment.”

These findings suggest a need for a more nuanced view of what the neoliberal agenda is likely to be able to achieve. The IMF, which oversees the international monetary system, has been at the forefront of this reconsideration. ­

OR, to you and me . . . they got it badly wrong!

It explains why the IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, is at loggerheads with German banks over Greek debt. The banks want blood from Greece and the IMF are now recognising this will not work and will jeopardise the standing of themselves and Brussels. It could also be another nail in the coffin of this currently disintegrating project that is the EU.

(Even President Obama is now backing Social Security programmes he was previously against for the American people.)

And if that wasn’t enough, according to Zero Hedge Euro-Area manufacturing is near stagnation, damping confidence in the strength of the regions recovery.

The cracks are beginning to appear in the established and very abusive order of things, if the perpetrators are now publicly admitting there is a problem of their own making. We are talking here of fundamental beliefs that have dictated how governments rule and what place, if any, democracy plays in the process.

Millions of people are homeless and struggling to feed themselves, some so overwhelmed by what they have been made to face that they have committed the tragedy of suicide. That the civilised world has been taken to this place is a lesson for us all.

The values demanded by ‘the people’ are the correct moral values for Society because it is the majority who are expounding them. The minority view can only ever be the view of vested interest, as this paper has identified and the IMF are to be respected for allowing it to be published. If it were Brussels it would have been sat on!

So my friends, where do we go from here? As you know my mantra is “Awareness breeds understanding and understanding breeds change”. There can be no way forward with ‘Austerity’ after this damning report.

Any government who continues to pursue these measures should be ousted from power as totally lacking in credibility and care for the people who have placed their trust in its leadership. And that goes for Brussels as well!

Until the next time

 

Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to the 99% . . . If They Want It! By J T Coombes