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Neither the Public or Business can service debt without income. The Chancellor’s Coronavirus ‘help’ is yo-yo politics that flashes in the face but simply doesn’t go that far

March 18, 2020 Leave a comment

img_5330The ineptitude of our politicians is stunning.

The problem that millions of people and businesses right across our country are facing is that their income has already stopped, soon will do, or at best is going to be severely reduced.

So what does the Chancellor do?

He sets them up with a loan.

And that’s for the specific people he has actually identified – certainly a long way from being them all.

We don’t know how long the Coronavirus Crisis will take to complete its course. We don’t know when ‘business as usual’ for any industry or occupation will be able to resume. We certainly don’t know if trading levels for any company will then have even the remotest possibility of returning overnight.

So when faced with losing either your wage or your business losing at least some, if not all of its trade, the last thing you need is a loan – even without interest – that is open ended in its value because you don’t know how long you will need it for; loans that will already be unaffordable to pretty much everyone because it’s not something that you have either made allowance in your monthly domestic outgoings or business income vs expenditure budgeting for.

img_5329For a Chancellor of the Exchequer – and a Conservative one at that – to not understand the implications of what would be no more than a cynical headline-grabbing plan in normal times would itself be very profound. For him to do it at a time of National Crisis, when people and business need genuine help to survive, whatever the duration, and then be able to return to their own normality at some point in the future whenever that might be is profoundly ridiculous at very best.

Whilst the Tory troops are lauding the whole effort and shouting plaudits suggesting that this is the best Chancellor we’ve ever seen, the reality is dawning on many people that the measures he has announced is little more than yo-yo politics, where what appears to be given to those in need at speed will just as quickly return to the hand of the giver on what is a deliberately transparent, yet firmly fixed string.

Regrettably, the approach that the Johnson government is employing in the handling of the Coronavirus crisis is akin to something that would fit right into the conspiracy theorists playbook.

Talk of confining the public to their homes for many months on end; the shutting down of public events, gatherings, and pubs and now a series of financial measures dressed in the rhetoric of being there to help and support us, whilst in its cold and hard reality does anything but.

At best, it all points to a disproportionate level of control being levied upon the public at large by an inept Government living in fear of its own responsibilities and driven by the interests of a very close cadre of financial and business interests that it feels unceasingly obliged to prioritise and serve.

God help us all in a few weeks if the Public become tired of what may well quickly prove be a misdirected overkill and people then take to the streets. Because all of this ineptitude on the part of a Government that thinks that with an 80 seat majority it can do no wrong, really will give currency to the words and actions of those who will prove themselves to be far more dangerous than fruitcakes and loons.

The Government has a level of power and the responsibility to use it at a time of National Crisis like this that it never has before.

We may not be at War. But the circumstances are potentially as severe nonetheless.

This means that the Government and in particular both the Chancellor and the Prime Minister have an incredible opportunity to step beyond the restrictions and shibboleths of so-called peacetime protocols and carry out the real functions of the Offices of State that they are there for.

But to do this they must lead and not be led.

No civil servant, no adviser, no specialist, no expert has the knowledge, training or experience to come up with the comprehensive solutions that will factor in everything that needs to be considered.

They certainly have no way to know if what they do suggest, advise or contribute will turn out being right.

That means listening to ALL of the advisors, specialists and representatives whilst keeping in mind that all of them will have their own bias and self interest in the solutions that they offer. But that even when the solution they offer might appear to work, it wont work for the many if it prioritises financial or other benefits to the few.

In the first instance, to be equitable and to be fair to EVERYONE and not just the usual suspects and same old few, our Leaders MUST instruct the Civil Service, Industry and the Financial Sector what the solution will be and not make it voluntary for them to support or options that they can choose on the basis of it being like advice.

Breaking completely new ground it might be, but if Boris wants to go down in history as the PM who saw this thing through the right way and got the job done, this talk of £300 Billion in the underwriting of loans and grants needs to be scrapped immediately and replaced with radical Standstill Legislation with key points like these addressed fully in clear and unhindered view:

What the Country needs:-

  • People and businesses don’t need debt relief or loans for the duration of the crisis. They need the payments to completely STOP.
  • We ALL need payments for non-essential services and items to STOP.
  • People who have been laid off need surety that their jobs will continue to exist.
  • Interest payments of any kind need to STOP.
  • People who are self-employed or working in the gig economy need the same basic income as everyone else affected too.
  • HMRC needs to go on holiday and open the VAT window for collections to at least 6 months from 3 or even more – WITHOUT levelling interest.
  • People who have been laid off or have had their wages reduced need the surety of a basic income just to pay for food.
  • We need the Government to step in takeover every service that was formally in public hands so that essential utilities and services can be provided to EVERYONE who cannot work, trade or keep going as normal for the duration of the crisis FOR FREE – Not paying the retail bill for every household and business, but by taking over and underwriting the whole supply chain so that there is no profit taking at any level remaining involved.

What we don’t need:-

  • A Government unable to look beyond the restrictions of what advisors advisors tell it is possible, what it has done, or what history tells us that it can do.
  • The same pockets being lined with profit now during this crisis as they are in normal times

Above all, the solution that will work now and for the future must be applied on a blanket basis.

By taking over and underwriting essential services and ensuring that EVERYONE has at least a basic income that will cover the cost of a weeks food, the Country and everyone not working within it will be in the best place during the crisis to financially survive and then thrive once this terrible chapter has ended and is over.

The benefit for those who continue working in roles like the emergency services and in our hospitals, the benefit in kind will be that they receive a payment holiday whilst they are working. That’s a sensible and fair bonus for doing their bit for community whilst we all do our bit for each other to ensure to survive.

 

images thanks to dreamstime.com

 

 

 

 

 

This Government’s retarded view of it’s responsibilities and how the economy works will inflict misery upon small business and generations to come whilst all the usual suspects get a bumper pay day

March 17, 2020 Leave a comment

The new chancellor had a massive opportunity to look the Coronavirus crisis in the eye and do the right thing in his announcement today.

He has failed.

Lending – or rather underwriting loans to the tune of £330 Billion sounds like a big thing. But all it will do is line the pockets of the same old lenders in the finance and banking sectors, whilst shackling businesses and the people who have been or will be laid off or lose their jobs as a result of the crisis to years of debt, simply to stay afloat because of a situation that is not anyones fault.

Nobody should be able, nor allowed to profit from the misery of this situation. We should all be in this together and the Government should be using the responsibility and power that was entrusted to it last December to think outside of the perimeters of what normality tells them they have option to do, and implement solutions that are equitable to EVERYONE and not just those who are able to legally print money whilst creating an even greater financial divide between the have’s and have not’s, where it is the same old usual suspects who will realise a very quick win.

Managing and taking this Country through the Corona Virus Crisis is not something that should simply be contracted out by the Government and placed with private profit making interests and into shareholder-driven hands.

To do so now is fundamentally irresponsible, a surrender of responsibility and a sell-out to the very same people who are using the debt burden placed upon people right across our society to create every greater levels of profit whilst inflicting misery and what is becoming the 21st Century version of enchained slavery where simply remaining financially solvent has replaced the ability to simply enjoy life for too many of us as our priority and cause.

This is little more than looking after your conservative friends Chancellor. Do the right thing and help us all by putting this insidious debt-driven economy on hold and use the legal power that your Government has to create the Standstill Legislation that would help all businesses and all the people being effected by this dreadful outbreak to survive whilst things are critical and then pick up where they left off when this crisis is over and life is no longer simply put on hold.

 

The Great Reckoning: Is Corona Virus the restart a world driven by money and self interest has been waiting for?

March 17, 2020 Leave a comment

Something changed yesterday. As my day began with the usual walk, I heard myself for the first of many times say out loud to the people I met and spoke to during the day that you could feel that the atmosphere had changed; that people were behaving like something big was about to happen; but many of us were still clinging to the idea that things would just keep rolling on exactly the same.

I saw the notice on the doors at my local Tesco asking members of the public to be polite, then stopped and asked an assistant I had many times said hello to if there had been people ‘shouting the odds’. With a reply as smiley and as matter of fact as ever she said “I think it’s something that’s been happening right across the Stores”. As I walked on to visit that days destination empty shelf, I simply replied “it’s very sad”.

Boris in the headlights?

Was yesterday the moment when the penny dropped for Boris that being PM of our Country isn’t just a game, but a responsibility with real-life consequences that touch everything, but in ‘peacetime’ are obscured from the self-serving politicians view? (image thanks to Sky News)

It wasn’t until late evening when I began to absorb the outcome and fallout from the latest Press Conference coming from No10 that I began to suspect that for Boris, his team and the Politicians that surround him, the penny may have finally began to drop.

No, I don’t mean in respect of the impact of Corona Virus or Covid-19 on the Government specifically either.

This is all now quickly becoming about the much bigger picture and the consequences of politics having been about nothing but the people involved in Government for many years.

This is all about what it means for everyone when events that are completely outside of the control of any of us come calling and demand that our Leaders step up and really do have to do everything that it takes to get a job done.

If you saw the images coming out from the Press Conference, there was one that looked to be of particular note.

Featured by Sky News, the image is of Boris, with what appears to be a look of shear terror and the fear from a reality dawning that could only come from the prospect of handling the responsibilities of the job that he got, rather than the one he so long coveted. A role that looked great when the consequences of decisions were almost always hidden from view during normal times, but now has the inescapable cost attached with bells and whistles as the Corona Virus Crisis exposes the true reach and implications of political policy in full and unmissable public view.

As I said in the Blog that I wrote here yesterday. We must give Boris his chance.

It is a simple reality that at any point before the next ‘peacetime’ General Election, Boris could only be replaced by a politician who has been nurtured and promoted by the very same broken political system, whether that be someone like Kier Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey or another Conservative, they are pretty much all the same.

They represent a political culture that exists to secure and propagate its own power and rain support and benefits upon its supporters, whether that be big business and the banks, the Unions or any one of a number of establishment organisations and bodies too.

To them, politics is not a responsibility to others. It is just a job. It is a career. It is just another ‘profession’ inhabited by a shallow caste of obsessives, more interested in the opinions of journalists and activists on Twitter than they could ever be about the real lives and day-to-day experiences of the people who elected them into their showpiece offices.

Or so it was until the realities of Covid-19 rather abruptly heaved into view.

Hour by hour, rather than anything more, the landscape is now changing in this Country and across the world. There is a realisation dawning for many that things will simply not ever be the same again and will not return to how they were before.

Everything in this Country and the World we live in has become focused on and revolves around money and its flow.

Life itself has little value to many, unless it is or there is something that can be owned or bought.

There is genuinely no longer happiness for many of us that can be attained from simply the sense of just being. Not when there is something outside of us that with money we could have.

The fragility of the system that has facilitated a situation where greed and selfishness has left its signature in the form of the bare shelves and aisles of supermarkets and shops up and down this Country has been exposed by Mother Nature in all her glory and by an disease that has the ability to kill any one of us just as readily as it could make us blow our nose.

Yesterday’s announcements that came in the form of advisory notices rather than directives or clear instructions from the Government laid bare how out-of-its-depth the Government now is in dealing with the strategic implications of this horrid disease within areas of life, business and industry that Westminster careerists cannot possibly understand or interpret in the most simplest of ways.

The reality that we together are facing is that we now live, work and survive in a debt driven economy which is akin to walking on the tightrope otherwise known as debt repayment or monetary flow. 

Anyone who stops or steps out of this process in isolation, unilaterally or on their own will be pushed over by the force and momentum of profit-driven interests, unless they can immediately rejoin the flow by being able to meet their obligations in some other way.

So when a Prime Minister casually suggests that consumers stop using any business or service without mitigating against the consequences of the inevitable public reaction, they are condemning those businesses and the people and lives that are dependent upon them to be pushed off that tightrope. Unless that is, they are able to rejoin the flow or service their debts and obligations in some other way.

This is simply irresponsible on the part of anyone elected to lead us, and the time has come for our leaders to lead and to recognise that the form of economic mayhem where debt farming by big business and the banking sector has become the 21st Century emotional equivalent of physical slavery where servicing debt has is a real-life metaphor for iron shackles and chains.

The long term situation is not one that can be dealt with overnight. But it is important to understand that the same drivers and motivations that have thrived on a world of cheap money where we are encouraged to borrow to buy just about everything are the very same interests that have pushed and promoted the low-cost benefits of the globalisation.

This is a commercial system that has removed the borders that once protected us under the guise of projects like the EU; lowered the value of the money that we still have in our pockets whilst making the low paid feel like they are being robbed of their jobs.

These interests have raped the Planet and its natural resources whilst creating a climate crisis, simply because their ability to produce the things that we will always buy if they appear to be cheap and affordable will be enhanced only if they can find ways to make them cheaper and cheaper. All the time raising their own personal fortunes whilst devaluing our earnings, and without even the slightest hint that they have considered the true implications and cost of their actions to us all.

In the short term and to prevent the fallout from Corona Virus being felt severely throughout society over the longer term, the Government must now bring a halt to the merry-go-round which is this debt derived system.

Government MUST give everyone the chance to breath without fear of the consequences from circumstances that none of us have responsibility for and have not arrived in this Country as a result of any form of design.

No private interest should be positioned to benefit from commercial activity during a time of National crisis. 

The truly equitable and fairest way to help and support everyone in this Country – which is what the Government and Public Services are actually there for – is to shut out the noise from all individual interests, no matter who they are or who they represent – and implement blanket Shutdown Legislation that temporarily halts all accumulative money making on a profit-led basis, until the Corona Virus Crisis is over and ‘normality’ of some kind has once again been restored.

When it has, the time will have come for us all to reflect upon the values that we have, and the part that we have all played in reaching a point where more always wants more.

We must wake up to the reality that even the seemingly smallest decisions that we make will inevitably have consequences. Decisions we make such as the people we vote for who are in it for the glory for themselves, not the responsibility to us. Self-interested politicians who are unable to lead decisively because their actions always ultimately served themselves and the realities of responsibility for others was not a story that the books they read or the films they watched of the people they admire from history had ever made clear to them or told.

Government MUST NOT bailout airlines, banks or any privately owned business during the CV Crisis. It should provide standstill legislation that trickles down to support EVERYONE and not just those who believe they are too rich to fail

March 16, 2020 4 comments

Reading over the weekend that Virgin Airways boss Richard Branson is seeking a £7.5 Billion Government bailout for the Airline Industry because of the Corona virus crisis gave me quite a jolt. Not because of what it says about the exponential impact of the worldwide outbreak of this horrid virus on British based airlines. But because of the long term implications of another government writing out cheques to underwrite privately and shareholder-owned businesses as they did so in response to the 2008 Financial Crisis without any consideration for the long term impact that it still has for us all.

To be straight to the point; it is not the responsibility of any government, the Taxpayer, public purse or whatever you want to call it, to bail out private business and especially not in such profit-orientated times.

It simply doesn’t matter matter how bad the consequences might seem for staff, shareholders or anyone else involved. These businesses are not run as a public service. They exist to enrich the people who own them, not to prioritise the wellbeing of the people they serve.

It is certainly not legitimate for any politician, elected or otherwise to underwrite the rescue of any privately or shareholder owned business so that it can again become profitable whilst the public is saddled with a debt for doing so that has not or never will be repaid.

Whilst we might all be at least concerned if not genuinely worried about what the coming days and weeks will bring, there are remarkably few businesses or organisations that will not be affected in some way. Within these, staff will have to change where they work or be laid off if they have not already done so, and in a large proportion of cases they will find themselves with a reduced income, whether that be from losing work completely or finding their hours lowered or indirect income reduced from a reduction in expenses or some other specific way that they would normally accumulate what they count as being pay.

Small businesses are going to fail. Especially those that are owner led and may have none or very few employees, where margins literally pay a living wage to the owner and nothing more. Other businesses, if not all of them, will have to lay off many staff.

Without clever thinking on the part of Government and politicians which really starts to join up all the dots and goes way beyond the brainstorming of Dominic Cummings current weirdos and misfits team, businesses that were not only viable a few weeks ago, but also very profitable will overnight become a permanently lost cause.

It is genuinely the case that like birth and death being the great levelers that they are, Corona virus does not see wealth, status or any other factor as being a mitigating factor against its dark and malevolent cause.

Nobody has the right to be treated better or differently to any other in this Country. If this Government is to succeed in leading us all through a crisis of what could very well become an indeterminate length, it is essential that Politicians on all sides put equitable thinking and the consequences and knock-on effects of all this and how it is going to effect people and businesses alike at the heart of their decision making and at the centre of what should now be a purely non-partisan cause.

Whilst we have many experts who are putting forward their opinions and trying to pressure the government to change policy and go in different ways, the reality is that whether these ‘experts’ are economists, mathematicians, scientists or doctors, none of them are experts on the full and comprehensive complexity of the snowballing issues that this crisis is building. Even the political leaders themselves have never dealt with a situation like this one and none of them have a specific historical example to look back on which could be shoehorned into use as a blueprint for managing this 2020 pandemic.

The time to question the ability, decision-making and motivation of any politician is at election time. Not when a crisis of this magnitude comes to call.

For better or for worse, right now, we have the politicians that the electorate gave us and we MUST give them the support necessary to get something done that for some if not all of us is never going to feel right.

The question should therefore be not whether our Politicians are suitable for the jobs that they had in December – because public opinion has already concluded that for us.

The question must now be whether our Politicians can now adapt and think differently to the way that they historically appear to have always done so – without foresight, empathy or any reasoned ability to look beyond the situation that appears to be right in front of their faces and then think through the implications of everything that their decisions and responsibility will now touch and lead to not just one, but potentially many steps beyond.

When big names like Branson come calling and are given an immediate public spotlight because of the fickle world of media and celebrity we have been living in until now, we must all look to see and consider the realities that roll out beneath, in front of and beyond the self interest that drives these people and see the impact of every single decision government and influential people now make as being part of the same very big cause which is actually theirs, mine and yours.

Why does anyone want a bailout?

Right now, there are lots of businesses and whole industries asking themselves and looking to our Political Leaders to answer the question ‘who will keep the lights on’?

But it is not the responsibility of the Government and therefore the Taxpayer (that’s you and I…) to keep any business functioning when it cannot trade – no matter what the circumstances or cause.

To do so – with the way that our economy currently works – will help them now, whilst causing long-term pain for us all.

Sounds harsh I know. But if a business stops trading and isn’t doing anything, so needs to be ‘mothballed’ even temporarily – what are the costs and how can or rather how should those costs be met in order to keep that business viable for when ‘normality’ can return?

Contrary to common parlance, no business is too big to fail and no individual is too financially rich to fail – that is if politicians are genuinely doing their job. It is only fear and lack of ability to take responsibility on the part of the people we have elected to lead us that drives decision making otherwise.

So no, in 2008, the Banks should never have been bailed out. And certainly not in a way that they could resume paying bonuses to staff almost immediately and then return to profitability whilst we the public will continue paying for what was a commercially created – and therefore avoidable mistake, now and for potentially many years to come.

The difference between the banking crisis and the Corona Virus crisis is that in 2008, the implications of a financial meltdown were assumed because of the ideas we all have about money, what happens without it and how we all perceive it to be the controlling force within our lives. In 2020, the implications of the Corona virus are all about how the spread and presence of a real disease WILL genuinely affect us all – not just about how we feel and respond emotionally – and in some cases irrationally – to it in our thoughts.

Income, what we ALL face and the trickle-down solutions that we ALL now need

Today, businesses are worried about trade and therefore income.

People and employees are worried about jobs and being able to work and therefore income too.

But why is income so important?

Income is important because we all have to live – which other than for food pretty much means to keep paying bills.

But who takes money from us when we pay the bills?

If we remove basic food and essential items from the equation, its commercial interests, whether it be for phones, TV, utilities (such as water, electricity, gas etc), services, loans, leases, rents or anything else.

So when we are all facing a situation that has the ability to leave none of us untouched, why should any of those private interests be able to continue to profit from what is essentially a genuine crisis, public emergency and therefore public cause, when any one of them in isolation will be able to resume their profit making activities without anything standing in their way once the Corona Virus crisis is over and life in the UK returns to something like what we agree to be the norm?

The answer is that they shouldn’t.

And it is now that Boris and all of the wannabe politicians and advisors who surround him and inhabit our political system need to stand up to these interests that are indirectly responsible for so many of the ills that we face, simply because money and profit are their one an only motivation and cause.

The Government has the power to grant a moratorium on all non essential payments and financial activities such as the accumulation of interest in every sense possible.

The Government can also underwrite the actual cost of providing essential utilities and services during this crisis period without any profit being payable to any of the private interests or shareholders who are involved in providing the ‘public’ services that we will all continue to need.

Standstill Legislation: extraordinary measures for extraordinary times

No individual can survive on around £90 per week in what we would now call ‘normal times’ and for any politician to say otherwise is to tell a disproportionate lie.

However, if the Country comes to a standstill – as it is quite reasonable for us to now expect it will do so, the suggested £90 per week, per individual or thereabouts that the DWP would pay through ‘Universal Credit’ or whatever the benefit paid to those laid off from work as a result of the crisis would be, would certainly be enough just for food and essentials per person. That is if ‘Standstill Legislation’ halted the requirement for all other bills to be paid and Government takes control of essential services so that everyone can function within their homes with no travel or any other form of expenditure required.

Done in blanket form, without exception for any company, industry or anyone else involved, Standstill Legislation would not only be a fair, but very practical solution to effectively shut down the wider, profit-based nonessential goods economy and put it on hold until we are all ready and able to move forward with life in this Country as one.

Legislation could include but not be restricted to:

  • The temporary halt of all loan, mortgage, lease and credit card payments for all people and businesses, with payment plans resuming for full schedule beyond
  • The temporary halt to all interest accumulation on credit for all people and businesses with interest only becoming applicable once again once we move forward as one
  • The temporary halt to all council tax and business rate payments for all people and businesses with Central Government picking up the tab for revenue income flow for local authorities in-between
  • The implementation of anti-profiteering legislation for all businesses able and continuing to function throughout the shutdown period requiring margins to either reflect pre-crisis trading or those of the specific industry in the period before
  • Employers being able to lay-off staff until the crisis ends, with permanent staff being able to resume their positions as soon as the crisis ends unless the business can demonstrate that normal trading cannot be immediately resumed
  • Universal Credit or rather a ‘basic income’ payable to all those out of work because of the crisis purely for food and essential items
  • Government control of all essential and previously publicly owned services (Gas, Electricity, Water, Transport etc)
  • A temporary extension of VAT payment windows to at least 6 months from 3 for any business continuing to trade during the Shutdown Period
  • Staggered Taxation support for businesses that have been able to remain trading, applied relative to drop in trading
  • Suspension of all EU derived working hour legislation – including removal of the restrictions on driver hours, driver cpc training etc.
  • All tickets for holidays and events to be honored within 12 months of normal activates being resumed or repaid – with the choice being that of the customer, or refunded by default if the event or holiday cannot be honored for ANY reason which is identified at that specific point
  • Supermarkets being required to focus on essential foods and items only with rationing in place for items that are in genuine short supply

If there is one very good thing that can come from the Corona Virus outbreak and the crisis that has created, it will be the opportunity for politicians and big business to recognise how none of their actions or decisions take effect in isolation or in the targeted way that they might think. Echo chambers are only something that exists on the internet, not in real life.

The reality is that Corona Virus is not only exposing us all to a potentially life-threatening illness. It is also demonstrating how the lives of all of us are already exceptionally vulnerable, and that Government already has the ability to address the weaknesses of an unrestricted economic system where private interest and profit making at one end of the spectrum are indirectly or otherwise making life misery for many others in a wide ranging and incalculable number of different ways.

Yes, the suggestions that I am making would be only on a temporary basis and that is how it would have to be once normality returns. But until politicians actually start doing their jobs properly, taking responsibility and making life better and more equitable for everyone in many different and far-reaching ways, the chaos and hardship that the Corona Virus is now revealing will continue to be an example of the daily struggles than many British people face until we all start thinking and behaving like we are one.

 

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