Monthly Archives: May 2014

‘Web Voting’ A New and Powerful Democracy

99_Percent

By Brian Sims [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0) or CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The internet has had a greater impact upon humanity than any other event in our history. For the first time people are now empowered to be able to interact directly with each other across the Planet, sharing their personal hopes and fears as well as their thoughts and beliefs.

The Arab Spring in 2010 illustrated this new environment to us in all its glory as the world became aware of the protests that our traditional media would not focus upon, as well as protesters supporting each other across the world. Who would have thought that Arab protesters would be sending messages of support to Occupy protesters in America who were facing ever growing levels of police violence in dealing with peaceful protest!

This gradual merging, as a species, is now driving a coach and horses through the traditional barriers of race, colour, creed and gender that have been used by the governing classes to separate and control the masses over the millennia. This new ‘people empowering’ stage in our evolution is sending shock waves through the established order, as they struggle to maintain the type of traditional control and suppression now being exposed through the integrity of whistle-blowers such as Edward Snowden and many others.

We are now witnessing desperate attempts to wrest back that control through the increasing regulation of the internet, and fuelling  growing resentment by its users. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for example, is trying to force service providers into codes of practice that support surveillance and an increasing censorship over what people can and can’t say – very much the old way of doing things! Keeping the masses in ignorance may have worked in the past but people are waking up to their new found freedom and are unwilling to let it go, rightly so.

It is here that we see a powerful new democracy emerging, supported by the rising powers of activist groups such as 38 degrees in UK, Move On in USA, Get Up! In Australia and Avaaz globally. Their very proliferation across the planet is evidence of how people are seeking and finding new ways to be heard and bring about change.

This activity is best typified when Rupert Murdoch, one of the most powerful men on the planet, attempted to acquire the controlling interest in BSkyB in June 2010. In political circles it was seen as a ‘done deal’, but after heavy petitioning by 38 degrees and Avaaz he was thwarted by both public opinion and unsavoury allegations of phone hacking. This example demonstrates the raw power of this new democracy when projected upon what was previously seen as a cosy political/corporate environment.

Badly shaken by actions like this the reaction is to try and smear the credibility and reputation of the perceived threat, like the campaign launched to discredit Edward Snowden (or worse, to give it no coverage at all!). Lord Tyler went as far as to describe 38 degrees members as “rent a mob” and Simon Burns MP in 2011 describing them as “almost zombie like”.

Here the traditional arrogance of the powerful, in attempting to undermine the actions of the masses, are symptomatic of a knee jerk reaction that is driven by fear. They seem incapable of recognising their complete lack of respect for those who certainly voted one of them into power, widening the divide and understanding between the old world and the new. This inability to recognise and successfully adapt to the changes now going on in the world could see them quickly become labelled ‘Dinosaurs’, adding to their growing problems of credibility.

What they also fail to understand and accept is that in any democracy people, as voters, are the most powerful members of Society – something I’m not entirely sure voters have complete confidence in yet. After all, without votes governments can’t get into power and corporations have nobody to sponsor! That’s right . . . without the actions of the voter’s corporations and government have no power!

This is in full evidence with the results of last weeks local UK elections and EU election results that followed on. The three main parties suffered humiliating dents to their political status as UKIP and right wing parties were given huge voter support. And this was achieved in Europe with only a third of voters turning out!

It makes no difference which parties were promoted or demoted for the sake of this argument, the important point is that people power (or a third of it in this case), changed the then current political power bases and THE ESTABLISHMENT WAS TOTALLY INCAPABLE OF MANIPULATING THIS.

Over the generations both politicians and business have been very aware of this, hence their use of the media to manipulate the public’s perception of the democratic process, making them appear as the masters of Society, rather than their true role as servants. The reality is that if they don’t do as we wish we show our displeasure at the ballot box, and if we don’t like their products or services we ‘vote’ with our feet, both of which they fear intensely.

The expansion of people empowerment through ‘Web Voting’ does, I believe, directly correlate to the levels of abuse now being perpetrated upon those same people. This is born out with the increasing control of the media, surveillance and the creation of purported global threats to the public such as terrorism. Once again it demonstrates the very real fear inherent within the established corridors of power, as they recognise the growing voter awareness of political abuse and the ability of the internet to now deal with this, gradually reducing the power they have exercised for too long.

The time of totalitarian states is now receding, in spite of what we are currently experiencing, because of our natural evolution into a Global Village. We are not the same species we were just 100 years ago, and therefore incapable of returning to the feudalism of the past.

The old order of ‘divide and conquer’ is imploding, as we witness the growing lack of credibility of our traditional institutions and our demand for their replacement by more democratic people based structures. It may take a while but the 99% are beginning to confront the power of the 1%, and will eventually control it with a powerful new democracy . . . That’s what Evolution is all about!

Until the next time

Wages can only go one way – Down!

In our new global environment we are seeing corporations become wealthier than countries and more powerful than governments. In this unhealthy situation profit dictates how companies spend their money as efficiently as possible.

Wages are the biggest item on any balance sheet and with the exception of a favoured few worker’s wages are kept to a minimum. This has become easier to achieve with globalisation, as corporations become more mobile with their production plants and administration, moving them to where the costs and wage rates are lowest.

It doesn’t take rocket science to work out that whilst this is beneficial for prices and profits it is effectively holding down wages across the Planet, in a best case scenario. In the worst case scenario wages are actually reducing as competition between countries escalates. And this worst case scenario gets a whole lot worse as analysis shows that the value of those wages has also been going down, when allowing for such factors as inflation.

In America, the supposed richest country in the world, many economists are concerned that median wages are stagnating. It’s actually more negative than that as Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney of the Hamilton Project have stated in this paper: http://www.hamiltonproject.org/papers/trends_reduced_earnings_for_men_in_america/

Far from stagnating, median earnings of prime-aged males has fallen by 28% over the past 40 years and this is further exacerbated by the fact that, compared with 1969, three times as many men of working age don’t work at all!

It is one thing to prepare and deal with new technology that is replacing human labour with machines, we have recognised this for some time now as a process of human evolution, but systematic suppression of earnings is not something that is sustainable in this 21st century, I would suggest.

If the nature of Homo sapiens is to reproduce then there has to be an infrastructure in place to support this most basic of human function. That means food and nourishment, together with protection from the elements in the shape of a family home. From these basic requirements flows the need for education and sustainable healthcare, all of which have to be supported by some form of financial infrastructure, which in turn is supported by a personal financial infrastructure in the shape of employment.

As our world gets smaller, globalisation has produced vast new market places fuelling the growth of mega corporations. History teaches that trade has been the primary driving force behind the exploration and discovery of other people and places on our Planet. However, democracy has also been the cornerstone by which we manage and meet, as far as possible, the divergent needs of Society.

When the needs of a minority direct and unbalance the shape of Society it is up to the majority to find new balance. In the current climate of wage strangulation, this has to take the shape of regaining control of the jobs market by forcing governments to legislate for higher wages, thereby empowering people to become more affluent consumers, and thus benefiting corporations and Society.

We are now in an era of ‘Zero Hours’ contracts which take away from people the dignity of work and the personal pride that comes with it. Done on the scale now being seen we are threatening the very foundations of our work force and the work ethic. If we add to this the growth in food banks, we have a Society that is managed by a political class that has totally lost the plot in understanding their responsibility for the proper management of Society.

There is no doubt people have the ultimate power and it is available to them in a twofold manner, as both voters and consumers. It is up to them to exercise that power now by voting with their feet as consumers and dictating the shape of political manifestos through the ballot box. It’s achievable . . . they just have to want to do it!

Until the next time