Tag Archive: Disaster Capitalism

Tories Of Millbank

(To the tune of U2’s Angel Of Harlem)

It was a cold yet bright November day
12 noon start, Horseguards Parade
Banners reading “Fuck the Fees”
Education brought to its knees
by the Tories

Parliament Sq and a big red bus
today this city belongs to us
not the Tories

Anger, this rage won’t let me go
such bile…for the Tories of Millbank

Tate Britain on our route
but first we pass the faceless suits
we got anarchists and a red/black flag
Sally says we have to resist the Tories

Aaron Porter got shallow eyes
we see the truth behind his lies

Anger, this rage won’t let me go
such bile…for the Tories of Millbank
Tories of Millbank

They’ll steal your education, and then your soul
Yeah yeah, yeah yeah
yeah yeah, right now

Blue lights on the avenue
riot police are coming through
fire extinguisher, flooded stair
how many really got in there
kettled you, lost liberty
up on a charge with 43
red flares exploding in the street
strike fear into the blue elite
Tory in a Lib-Dem tie
Betrayal, pack of lies
You never looked like an angel
Nick Clegg, another Tory of Millbank

Tories, Tories of Millbank

Song Of The Day ~ U2 – Angel Of Harlem

(To the tune of U2’s Where The Streets Have No Name)

I’m too skint to run, too old to hide
I have to take out the furniture
that I have inside
I want to reach out
for just a few quid more
to stay where the streets have no poor

I want to feel Southern light on my face
I’ve seen the cockneys disappear
without a trace
I need to call Shelter
if anyone’s there any more
where the streets have no poor

where the streets have no poor
where the streets have no poor

they still claim there’s
affordable housing
outside the M25 ring
and when I go there
you can’t afford not to come too
it’s all we can do

the city’s affluent
but our car’s turned to rust
we’re evicted and cleared by the Tories
who betrayed our trust
I’ll show you a place
high on the Yorkshire moor
where the streets might still have some poor

where the streets have no poor
where the streets have no poor

they’re still building
their mansions in fields
as the welfare state yields
and when we go there
you’ll just have to come too
it’s all we can do

our dreams turned to rust
the writing is now on the wall
and they just don’t care at all
oh I see our fate
see our bank balance bust
the writing is now on the wall
they just don’t care at all
oh when I go there
you just have to come too
it’s all we can do

Song Of The Day ~ U2 – Where The Streets Have No Name

The spending review has been digested a little more now and people have begun to pick over the minutiae, it is of course the first time in many years that we have had the opportunity to see what the 13 years in opposition has really done to Conservative thinking and policy and we now have the answer…. You’re already making up your own jokes aren’t you?!

Many have assessed and commented on components of the spending plan with a great deal more expertise than I can but I would like to look at the actual premise of the whole thing, but not before I have outlined where I fundamentally disagree with the current spending review as outlined.

Firstly there seems little doubt that the poorest 10% are the real scapegoats in this. The benefits system is to be ramped back massively on ideological grounds, this is not a ‘get people back to work’ plan this is a ‘cut the benefits off and they’ll find work somehow’ plan. Iain Duncan Smith has said as much with his getting on the bus comment. Ironically not one week after his ‘bus comment’ Leicestershire County Council put up notices advising that the local bus service to my village would no longer exist. Now I grant you the likely level of unemployment here is potentially lower than in urban areas but for 16 year olds it represents a significant problem. This policy is coupled with the slashing of housing benefit for those out of work long term. This policy has already caused dissension in the ranks of the Conservative party with Boris Johnson, now suddenly the standard bearer for London’s working classes, exclaiming that he will not allow social cleansing on his watch. Conservative sources (by which I include now any Liberals based on their acquiescence) have scoffed and said this will not happen but realistically how can there be any other outcome. Much of the cutting of the benefit system requires jobs to be available for people to fill. There are already an estimated 2.45 million people out of work which represents 7.7%, this will likely be well over 3 million once the public sector cuts are forced through. There is as yet no clear indication that any jobs will be created in the public sector merely an assumption. I remember coming out of school to a job market that had 1.6million unemployed in Summer 1990 rising to 2.5 million by the end of 1991. I was forced to spend many months on the dole, jobs where they existed were short-term and poorly paid with little progressive conditions and most relied on scratchings from manual labour jobs through agencies. You often didn’t know if you’d have a job the next day so you had to get the bus to the agency offices and hope. I couldn’t travel outside my immediate vicinity to look for jobs or go for interviews because I couldn’t afford it. Yes I worked probably a little more than half the time but I received no training, no qualifications, nothing that stood me in any stead for future employment and my savings were entirely exhausted. This in no small part contributed to my being unemployed a couple of years later when I returned from Germany, a country in which I had no problem finding work even in the deepest recession it had seen since the war. At the time I was unqualified but had A levels, in this country I was seen as over-qualified for some jobs and under-qualified for others, by which they meant I was either likely to leave this menial work when I found something better or that I had no work experience at all and they could afford with some many applicants not to take the risk with me. Each full-time job garnered hundreds of applications, I worked once in a factory sticking labels on boxes where I was the least educated of all the temporary staff and all we did was take boxes out of boxes, stick a new barcode over the old one and then put the boxes back into the bigger boxes. There was a chap there with a double first in his degree doing that, if I found it all soul-destroying how did he feel? How would he feel now if he had tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt accumulated getting that double first?

I am troubled that people should be standing by and watching as the least financially able and least enfranchised members of the population are being plunged into ever further ruin and debilitation, in fact I find this even more surprising than the fact that people stood by and let the government plough billions of £s into the errant banking sector with no sanction whatsoever. Did the whole country become so anaesthetised, or is it that so much of the “moral majority” now have bought into the concept of Thatcherism that unless it has a direct effect on them they aren’t interested? What people seem unable to grasp is that the disenfranchisement of such a large section of the population has a massive detrimental effect on a great many others, not those at the very top perhaps but then they are not the majority. Don’t get me wrong I’m not expecting to be able to put forward the solidarity for ones brothers and sisters argument! This is about real tangible problems particularly with regard to social exclusion and crime but with knock-on effects on the proliferation of services and rent prices in particular areas. This is not simply something that will happen to others.

In truth I could sit and nit-pick at all the minutiae in the actual spending review but realistically it is simply a classic piece of conservative thinking entrenched in the new phenomena of disaster capitalism. So you may ask if you don’t want to cut public spending how do you solve the problem of the deficit? Let us start by taking the uncontentious points, not merely the ones that no-one seems to be arguing over as that can often be a red herring but the points that appear, at least according to the sources we have at our disposal, to be factually accurate. The over-arching point in this regard is the central one, we as a country are in a lot of debt. This is nothing new of course most countries in the developed world are in debt, the USA is in massive debt and generally speaking the issue is the amount of debt and the confidence of people that you remain in your depth. Being in this level of debt mean that a great deal of government expenditure must be on repaying interest on this debt and this indeed is a waste of taxpayers money and better if reduced to as little as possible. So let us start from a benign presence that we are all in agreement that some of the debt has to go. Now we reach the large crossroads, how are we going to pay for it? The main political parties have spent most of the year vying to contend to be the party that would cut most off the public sector so whatever Labour’s bleating now might have us believe they would have done the same had they won the election, they said so, many times. What is not talked about anywhere in mainstream politics are the alternative methods of reducing the debt ie by raising revenue.

Naturally one would not expect the rich to wish to have to pay more money that’s why they’re rich but if you come at the problem with the ideology that those most able to pay should shoulder the greatest burden then this can be the only starting point. Closing tax loopholes would save the country a substantial amount of money, an estimated £1.6m from Gideon “We’re in this together” Osborne for starters. If the rich feel aggrieved by this then point out that the amount they will have to give to the taxman will be mitigated by the lack of huge fees to shit hot accountants so the only people with legitimate complaint are the accountants and this is a shame, for them, but if I had to choose between butchering the education sector and butchering the accounting sector I would naturally put my personal ideology to one side and look at what was best for the country and I think it would b a safe bet for education to win out every time.

Once one has closed the tax loopholes one must then gravitate to the next fairest form of levy which is income tax an this must be put up. This is always unpopular as people notice a hit every month in their pay packet so politicians frequently shirk from it, furthermore it tends to hit the rich the hardest and they employ lots of people to ensure that doesn’t happen so the rich people in government tend not to like to harm their own. Income tax though is one of the only methods one can be sure of a fair distribution because almost all the other forms of levy do not take into account someone’s ability to pay.

In addition to this I believe the Robin Hood Tax would also be a fair way of levying money, a small percentage on each transaction is a very very small step to making the banking sector redress some of the balance from the absolutely scandalous fiasco they have presided over that we have then paid for. The bankers are not cowed and contrite far from it, anyone who saw BBC’s Question Time last week will have witnessed an odious hedge fund manager telling a labour politician that the baking sector did not benefit from the situation it was the politicians who benefited and that they had made the mistake in misjudging the situation and to prove it had been voted out of office whilst he, the hedge fund manager, remained in place. After my initial dumbfoundedness at the sheer crassness of the comment I semi-consigned it to the bin because of its ridiculous revisionist interpretation of the facts however it is worth bearing in mind in the context of a banking sector that is still paying itself vast salaries, bonuses, pension contributions whilst at the same time sitting around Tories and “Liberals” nodding wisely when cuts are being talked about across the public sector.

The public sector does need reform. People need to rediscover their motivation and feel sufficiently part of things that they have a stake in it. There needs to be a redressing of the balance between those who work in the public sector and those who manage those who work in the public sector to put the emphasis back on the indians rather than the chiefs. This is the unique thing about the public sector with which the private sector cannot compete. Public servants work for all of us which includes they themselves and they therefore have a stake in what they are doing. Many in the private sector has argued, I believed fallaciously, that the public sector has an inevitable level of incompetence and waste. They cite absentee levels as one such example. What they fail to point out is that a great many people in the private sector don’t get paid when they are absent and long-term absence is likely to result in dismissal. The public sector absentee level is such because it is declared, people have the time off they require and then return to work, for anyone to believe that it would be better to roll the clock back and to force people back to work too early because they cannot afford to stay away strikes me as lunacy.

Song Of The Day ~ Solar Powered People – Awhile

Now that grabbed your attention didn’t it?! I’m sure no-one would expect me to be a believer in the right-wing theory that it’s all bollocks and just a trojan horse for the environmentalist lobby. Bear with me, I have not suddenly had a Road to Damascus (Texas) conversion!
What is quite clear is that there are those from a scientific perspective who say that climate change is a real threat and is either caused by, or exacerbated by the emissions and profligacy of humans. There are also those who claim that climate change either does not exist or is merely a cyclical meteorological pattern that has existed for as long as the Earth has and will continue to change the base climate regardless of the actions of the beasts living on the planet. What I do not understand is how this can have been the prevailing argument for so long when it could be rendered easily redundant. What this has in fact done is given the neo-liberals and neo-capitalists a chance to fudge the issue and spend endless years comparing the science and statistics of various positions, which the politicians have then picked up on and postulated at the relevant summits in order to not actually do anything about it.

What remains an issue without contention is the fact that we are running out of the substances that currently form the backbone of our energy provision. There is no science to suggest that this has been a hoax, the debate is merely over just how long each substance will last until it is exhausted. For some of us it will be within our lifetime, for others it may be in the lifetime of our children.

There are many potential reasons for this obfuscation of the real problem. Firstly for the corporations that have a vested interest in the energy industries their agenda is to maximise their profit for as long as possible whilst at the same time allowing themselves time to put the feelers out into other markets that they may be able to control to the same extent as they do at present. If one believes in a capitalist system of business, profit and market economics one can hardly blame them for this, to do anything else would be not to be fulfilling their mandate to maximise the companies profits.

[Some might say that this is an over-simplification and that companies have a vested interest in making research and development key in order to continue their dominance of the market but this is, in my opinion, not to take account of the very basic facts that the heart of capitalist ethic is to take more out than you put in, this is profit. The less you can put in and the more correspondingly you can take out the better the profit and the higher the sense of success. In times when money and industry abound inward investment may be seen as a good idea but in times of economic downturn the demands of the shareholders do not decrease as their purses are stretched but the company’s access to money will diminish. The pressures therefore to take higher risks are dramatically increased, as again can be seen from the example of the banks.]

In addition to the corporational involvement one must consider the governmental angle in this. For the United States the demise of oil will be something of an economic catastrophe and not simply because they run larger and less fuel-efficient cars than anyone else. The US economy is propped up by the very fact that oil is generally traded in dollars, this trade is one of the principle reasons why confidence has remained in the US economy and the US is more than a little keen to preserve this as can be seen by the measures they will go to in order to protect this trade. Already the US has declared oil fields legitimate military targets, it has engaged in war on Afghanistan on dubious premises in order to protect the Caspian oil and gas pipeline and then shored up control of the Iraqi oilfields by illegal regime change and the installation of a puppet state. It has declared as an ‘axis of evil’ those states that have attempted to switch their oil trading currency to Euros. It is true that much of the reason for the change in these countries policies is to be specifically antagonistic to the US but that in itself is not a crime, and neither is their choice of currency. However without the trade in oil there will be less investment in dollars, without that investment the US economy will no longer have sufficient confidence to hold the debts it is currently allowed to hold and loans will be called in. It is on a larger scale again the same situation as has happened to many of the banks over the last twelve months.

The cost of not changing the methods by which we power our economies is that we will enter a period of drastic inflation of energy prices without the wherewithal for most ordinary people to be able to source their energy from elsewhere. This means that the energy shortage will hit the poorest the worst. As the debates continue so the time within which to do something about it diminishes and therefore the costs to actually make a wholescale change in time rise substantially. It is worth remembering that it is not merely individuals that will suffer from massively higher energy prices, so too the small business will become less and less viable as their smaller profits will be eaten up by larger overheads. We are likely to be left with the larger conglomerates that have, at least in the short-term, the profit margins to absorb some of these increases. Of course the conglomerates will have more of a monopoly at this point and will be able to pass on price rises to the customers, the lesser choice coupled with the likely rationing of fuel will make customers far more hamstrung than they are used to being now.

One of the critical things that illustrates graphically that people in power have not grasped the true nature of the problem is that the main governmental force for an energy replacement is nuclear power. It may well be that nuclear power is a lower-carbon method of power generation but this reduction comes at an extremely high price. The dangers of nuclear waste and potential for nuclear meltdown are well-known and in their worst case scenario quite catastrophic, one must add to this the security risks of nuclear weapons and also the fact that if using Uranium there is a finite resource, if Plutonium then the resource is less finite but the risks higher.

Why is it therefore that each new house is not being built with solar panels on its roof? Why are the larger rivers and estuaries not being looked at for tidal, and why critically are schemes such as large scale solar panel development in the Mediterranean or Atlantic which could power much of Europe not being given cross-national funding in order to be online as soon as possible. Instead people are being asked if they like windfarms and many communities have responded that they do not and do not wish such ‘eyesores’ to be in their vicinity. One does wonder how many of said communities would prefer a nuclear reactor blocking the skyline? Furthermore it is quite clear that these communities are being allowed to take a purely selfish view, or the smaller picture of the view through their window rather than looking at the bigger picture of whether a country’s economy survives and all the comforts they are used to alongside it. In my view communities that wish to ensure they are not in the target areas for sources of renewable energy should be allowed to remove themselves from the national grid and be responsible for sourcing their own power. If they produce a net surplus then they may choose to sell this back to the national grid thus not only creating a disincentive for disassociation but perhaps an incentive for very small areas that do wish to be progressive. Areas such as these would remove further pressures on the national grid itself and give impetus to communities looking at being ahead of the game. A community that is self-sufficinet in power terms is far more likely to be able to withstand the further pressures (should there be any) of global warming.

For industrial purposes it is not feasible solely for each community to generate power for its inhabitants and there needs to be a greater range of solutions to cater for the larger users. These should be looked at where possible in offshore solutions. Companies that pay money to research and development of renewable sources of energy provision should be given subsidised energy prices for any of such energy that is generated. Companies that do not can pay tax on the fossil fuel generated energy that can and should solely be used for further development and construction of renewable sources of energy.

In the case of transport infrastructure must be replaced and set up to ensure that those who do not wish to use cars should have a viable alternative both financially and logistically. Those using cars where such an alternative exists can be taxed and this revenue ring-fenced for transport spending to increase and improve the network. Transport must however come under the umbrella of local government, it must have as its primary function the service provision and not that of making a profit. Each town must have a railway station and each village at the very least a regular bus service to the nearest amenities including hospital, schools, shopping, railway station and industrial parks.

In the case of foodstuffs it is ridiculous for farmers in Africa to be growing cash crops that are transported by air to western countries whilst millions on the continent go hungry. this must be seen as a supra-national problem and not an “I’m all right jack” situation. The West must look after its own food needs and we should all get more used to eating the food that is seasonal and can be transported short distances easily. There are many methods by which such food can be saved throughout the year so as to vary diet.

You may be under the impression that renewable energy cannot sustain large economies and is therefore only feasible as a part of the solution, but this is information generally fed by an ill-informed media and those with an agenda, whether hidden or otherwise. Scientists have in fact calculated that a large solar panel development in the Western Med/Atlantic could generate most of the power for the whole of Europe. of course politically this would necessitate an interesting set of compromises but nevertheless it proves that such methods can be employed were the will and then the finance there to support them.

It is likely that at present we still have another fossil fuels left that we have the ability to make up the shortfall whilst we increase renewable energy to take over full capacity, there will however be a tipping point at which there will not be enough left to do this. I am at present at a loss to see just how a move to a renewable economy is in any way a bad idea, it completely transcends the climate change argument because it makes long-term social and economic sense, if therefore it could be implemented we would see the results of the climate change argument from the position of already having safeguarded our economies and development. Where is this not a win-win?

Song Of The Day ~ Nubla – Nada Se Olvida

The Beginning Is Nigh

Extraordinary rendition and covert operations
homogeneity of news from the television stations
hegemony of politics drifting ever further right
policemen breaking doors down in the middle of the night

Hatred for asylum seeker and economic refugee
as the politicians fight for who is most like the BNP
Terrorism, Islam, slow pull-out from Iraq
but stop their oil again old son and you know that they’ll be back

Unemployment rising and the economic crunch
bank employees laid off with directors out to lunch
government pisses taxes in billions down the drain
and yet it still has not derailed their pension gravy train

The banking sector cancered by the tumor of its greed
whilst the great majority scratch around for no more than chicken feed
demonstrators asking for them to hear what we have said
the answer comes from police files as to why a man is dead

Labour and the Tories fighting over right-wing ground
and if you read the media you’d think there were no other sound
dissent consigned to history in this post-protesting age
newspapers running populist bile and adverts on every page

It’s time a new day dawned and we had a system we might trust
and one that comes before this one has reduced us all to dust
it’s not too late to make that change, remember Rosa Parks
proof if it were needed of when courage leaves its marks

And if you stand beside me friend you know we aren’t alone
and life for us is more than being a capitalist’s drone
the power we will have together brings the system to its knees
we can start by removing Sellafield and replacing it with trees

Song Of The Day – Portishead – Sour Times