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Money: The dream is dying (If it’s not already dead)

August 11, 2021 Leave a comment

You’ve gotta love the way that the mainstream media somehow manages to keep on missing the real news.

In a week when the plight of Geronimo the Bovine TB+ive Alpaca was creatively made to look like some 160,000 deaths of infected cows over the same period that his owner has been fighting Defra simply didn’t exist, the pillars of our information rich society managed to overlook the further £1.15Billion of Bonds that the Bank of England has bought, extending Rishi Sunak’s mammoth money printing and public spending spree into realms which really do now span into the complete unknown.

Don’t get hung up on who is buying or who is selling what to who, when it comes to any kind of financial ‘product’, when the Bank of England or the Government are involved. Either way, this is a process of injecting even more obscene amounts of cash into an already overladen economy – all of which is effectively debt being run up on the public tab.

The thinking that underpins financial jiggery-pokery of this magnitude isn’t only flawed; it is also exceptionally dangerous. The repeated bouts of money creation that the Johnson Government has instigated since the Covid Pandemic began are so high, there is no practical way that this Country can pay anything near the whole amount back.

There is talk that our children and grandchildren will still be paying the bill. But the Johnson Government really have gone too far.

What is more, they have done this not off the back of owning something secure like gold – that actually exists.

They have literally created all of this money out of thin air, all on the principle that the system will keep rolling, accumulating like a rolling snowball, and that as long as it keeps rolling in the same direction (That means the money available gets bigger and bigger), then those driving it and who are responsible for it will never suffer from a fall.

What this apparently bright idea overlooks is the stark reality that exits when the amount of money available increases exponentially, whilst products, land, houses and capital assets that we can actually own, increase at a significantly slower rate – that is, if the amount of them available actually increases at all.

Those at the top of the money chain – who always end up with the bulk of all this newly created cash, have increasing buying power that the majority of us can only dream of. Meanwhile, they push the value of everything up significantly – alongside all the others who are milking the system or taking out value without giving anything back – whilst those on the lowest wages and increasingly even the middle classes too, simply don’t get the wage rises that mean they can keep up with price rises just enough to stand still.

By now, you will probably have realised that this isn’t a Covid-related problem. In fact, this problem isn’t really that new at all. It’s been in the making for 50 years or more.

What’s different now, is the way that the Government and the Bank of England under its instruction, has upped and is continuing to spend.

It is a matter for debate whether the money pumped out to keep the economy moving during Lockdown should ever have been needed at all. But we are well past that point now. And if we go back to the snowball idea that I mentioned above, the reason that so much money is being created and pumped into the economy, is literally to keep the whole thing moving because the Government is terrified what will happen if the whole thing stops.

SPOILER ALERT: It’s going to stop. The snowball will stop rolling and will not be able to grow any more.

The financial system and the economy are going to crash.

It’s not an if. It’s a when.

And the only question that we and ideally the media should be asking, is which will be the straw that finally breaks the camel’s back.

There are a range of different ways, and the list is growing. It could be the escalation of cost-of-living prices, like the energy price rises coming in the autumn, or even the flattening of the additional £20 per week allocated to families on Universal Credit as part of the Covid ‘bounce’. It could be a shortage of food on the shelves being caused by a shortage of drivers (that has more to do with the ridiculous standards and licensing requirements that the EU imposed on the industry rather than any lack of EU drivers caused by Brexit) and the unadulterated greed of shipping companies that have created a worldwide shipping monopoly that is seeing prices for goods transport go stratospheric – not for any good reason other than that they can name their price, based on making obscene levels of profit alone. Then there are the issues that are out of our hands such as the precarious state of the US economy, which itself is on the edge of a precipice so large, that it could end the US hold on everything economic as we watch the position of the US Dollar as the World Reserve Currency simply implode.

Whatever tips the balance, it really doesn’t matter. The way that money and economics works today is already well and truly sunk.The neoliberal dream that money can be whatever you make it is dying. That is, If it’s not already dead.

Instead of using the borrowed time that the Bank of England and the Government has left to do anything that they might be able to try to mitigate or offset this coming disaster, they are instead upping the throttle and increasing the speed of compiling and contributing events, literally treating the whole thing as if a disaster is impossible and will never happen. They are working on the premise that they can literally fake it til they make it, by printing more and more money until they believe they will have completely weathered the storm.

Think very carefully about the relationships you have with the people, businesses and community members located around you. Do all that you can to cultivate and develop them in positive ways. Because a time will come perhaps very soon, when we will all have to trade, borrow, barter, help and support the people who are immediately around us – just as life for everyone in this Country once was.

Obsessed with big headlines and the powerful job titles that each and every one of them is sniffing out next, MPs and Government Ministers focus only on what bigs them up, rather than fulfilling the roles that they were elected for.

Foreign trade deals really aren’t going to help in a world that has to reject globalisation because of the fallout from covid and the fact that we are being woken quickly to the unfolding nightmare which is climate change.

Government should instead be investing the money it has available whilst it still has tangible value. Government should support the growth and sustainability of local economies and supply chains that really do away with every kind of unnecessary journey and make it both practical and cost effective for as much of the food we eat and the products we buy to have travelled next to no miles as possible.

We really should be taking this opportunity to focus proactively on going back to improved and better ways and models of working that value every form of human input equally, meaning that a happy debt-free, safe and healthy life is something that even the poorest members of our society and communities can afford.

These things can be done in ways that will remove a lot of unnecessary pain when they are done not by necessity, but by reasoned choice.

No Rishi: You and Your Party created this unmanageable National Debt. It’s time for YOU to own it and live up to the responsibility you coveted before more lives and businesses are needlessly destroyed on a whim

June 22, 2021 1 comment

If you believe that the Johnson Government has handled the COVID pandemic in the best way it was possible for anyone to do so, please Please PLEASE think again.

No, I’m not laying out a stall to argue the merits or the wrongs of Lockdowns, social distancing, vaccinations for everyone or zero-COVID as an impractically myopic cause. All of the questions that exist covering the unnecessary whys will continue to grow in number and the answers will most likely be provided as the consequences unravel around us all over time.

With talk and media attention now refocusing and pointing towards tax rises and the public policy changes that might begin to tackle the phenomenal National Debt created by the Johnson Government, it is becoming increasingly important for people to know and understand that even if lockdowns, social distancing and population-wide vaccination were the only way to tackle COVID, the people who have been unable to work and the businesses that closed or had significant loss in turnover, could have been supported in a much simpler, more intelligent and more considered approach. One that would have been equitable and fair to everyone, but above all would not have created either the level of National Debt or the otherwise unimaginable situation where workers furloughed on ‘free money’ understandably have no desire to return to doing the work the Johnson Government has been paying them not to do.

At a time of national crisis, we have a right to expect that the people we elect to make decisions and act on our behalf will do so in the best interests of everyone – not just themselves.

People who have attained and actively coveted the level of responsibly that not only Ministers but all MPs have, should either possess the experience or understanding to reach high level decisions, or know how to bring all of the right people and different interests together so that all of the pertinent information is made available to them and solutions can quickly and efficiently be put together that will be beneficial to all whilst working in the best interests of everyone.

What we got when the Johnson Government response to the COVID pandemic kicked off in March 2020, was a ‘pic n mix’ or ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ approach. We have a Prime Minister and Chancellor who were simply not up to the task and were driven not only by their own self-interest and fear, but also that of the civil servants and advisors surrounding them. The net result was that with both eyes on legacies and the result of the next election, our so-called leaders simply picked up and ran with the most obvious solutions that worked for them, rather than first working the consequences for everyone else through.

They then backed this travesty of absent leadership with a dangerous narrative that even now they refuse to step back from. One that has destroyed lives and livelihoods without any reason at every step along the way.

In response to the financial and economic issues created directly by the lockdowns they chose to impose; the Government should have imposed a parallel and universal shutdown of the monetary or economic system. One where people and businesses that suddenly found that they were unable to service bills and expenditure through no fault of their own, would have no obligation to make debt payments or meet service charges for anything non-essential that they were not using for as long as needed – with Government stepping in to underwrite the cost and provision of services that are essential for life.

The only need for direct financial subsidy for ANYONE either without or with a reduced income would then have been the weekly cost for an individual and their dependents to be fed and for their basic needs to be met. A figure substantially less than the free cash payments that have now been made and already add up to £60 Billion in Furlough payments alone.

Those key workers able to continue working on the frontline to provide products and services that are essential and are for the benefit of all would have had the de factobonus of a payment holiday on all of the big living costs such as rent, car payments or mortgages. This would have been a very fair and equitable way to reward those continuing to work throughout the pandemic without favour and give them a proportionate and timely thank you for all they have done.

The impact and consequences of the choices that the Johnson Government made, are already far-reaching indeed. It just doesn’t appear to be that way as lack of meaningful media coverage means the real-life disasters that are already unfolding don’t sell news and will not see the light of day.

The impact and scope of the problems that eighteen months of lockdowns have caused at individual, community and social levels, came about through a complete lack of consideration for the consequences of the financial measures that the Chancellor imposed upon UK businesses. Such measures and the decision-making processes that underpinned them could only have come about as either the result of a mixture of stupidity and complete ignorance or by deliberate, malignant design. Neither demonstrate an acceptable way for a democratic UK Government to perform and raise many questions about the quality and suitability of the politicians we have.

To say or believe that nobody else could have done a better job or have done anything differently simply isn’t true.

Many were aware, right from the beginning that the choices being made by Government were flawed, based entirely on the wrong motivation and ideas, and that there were alternative ways to handle all of the problems that Covid created, rather than the approach that Johnson and Sunak have taken, facilitated by a Parliament full of MPs who should have understood what was going on and intervened much earlier on.

The size and magnitude of the problem the Johnson Government has created is so big and so far reaching that the consequences have not even hit many of us yet.

Without us being aware, much is already changing economically behind the scenes and the inevitable ‘new normal’ is yet to come. It will not look like anything we have seen in living memory before.

Some are already suggesting that financial burden of the Johnson Government’s handling of COVID will be placed in the hands of future generations, many of whom have yet to be born.

But the debt that is still being ratcheted up is so big that when the impact and consequences of what these unwitting totalitarians have done have been fully manifested, it will become painfully apparent that the economic system as we know it is done.

The way of doing things economically, financially and with money as we have been – whether consciously or not – can no longer go on and will cease to exist.

The UK might have been better positioned to weather the coming storm and deal with the fallout from what will be the significant financial and economic crisis that the Johnson Government has wilfully engineered, had it not been the case that governments around the World have acted in very similar ways.

The behaviour of our supposedly skilled worldwide leadership has given credence to the very strange and dangerous philosophy inappropriately named the Great Reset by the World Economic Forum – a wholly quixotic and dangerously impractical set of proposals that will only become prescient if people continue to behave and respond like the whole thing is a done deal.

Trying to explain the unexplainable to so many frustrated, bewildered and disenfranchised people who are now looking for answers – as less and less of what the Johnson Government does appears to make sense, leaves many vulnerable to the influence of conspiracies. The idea that there is some great plan at work to enslave society and put us all under the yoke of some Orwellian regime only becomes the dystopian nightmare we fear if we make that idea real.  

In truth, many of the things that Ministers are publicly saying and doing are fuelling this myth. Yet the truth is far more mundane.

Politics in the UK has become the preserve of the ambitious and of those seeking glory who have no care nor consideration for anyone but themselves.

Politicians have become self-styled wordsmiths and the manipulators of truth. They have reached far into the dark art of behavioural science to terrify and control normal people, whilst telling us that they are our saviours and that they and only they are the ones to get things done.

Real people, in an increasing number – if not already a majority – are now in the position where they cannot afford the lives that they already have.

Burdening us all with an horrific level of National Debt that we simply do not possess the means to service without further sacrifices that we cannot afford demonstrates a level of detachment from real life and day-to-day reality on the part of the political classes that is at best breath-taking and at worst borderline criminal to say the least.

The UK was already heading for massive financial problems before the COVID pandemic arrived. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and Neoliberal Policy has been the cause of much of the financial inequality that already exists across society.

Such theories are treated like they are a saviour by Rishi Sunak and his Advisors. Yet the impact of a philosophy or set of ideas that suggest the markets will look after everything if they are allowed to function on their own with minimal regulation would be a wholly inappropriate and misguided approach to managing the affairs of a country in peacetime. It is certainly not the way to lead us through any kind of national crisis and certainly not for fighting any kind of war – as tackling the Covid pandemic has been likened to by those seeking to big up their leadership credentials and prowess.

The real reset, reboot, redrawing or revaluation of everything that has become necessary is not one that self-serving, self-absorbed politicians and ambitious would-be leaders who have no respect for others can control. Even if for a period of time it looks and feels like they can.

The financial system that we have and the ideas that underpin it are completely broken. The Johnson Government’s mishandling of the financial response to the COVID pandemic has speeded up its destruction. Their actions are now shedding light onto just how poor and damaging the consequences for everyone are from a system that champions and promotes financial interests and profit above all else.

Money has no intrinsic value. It is a unit of exchange, nothing more. It is certainly not a thing, nor the ‘god’ that its use as a reference point for the value of everything suggests that it has now become.

If money were real, governments would not be able to print it or produce it in the quantities that they have done over the last 18 months – seemingly without consequence. Yet we are seeing money appear out of thin air.

Everything will have to be revalued, but not just in financial terms. It must be for the benefit of everyone and certainly not the same old few.

There is an ethical or moral deficit present within the whole of government and the financial system that itself needs to be completely and comprehensively reset. We can no longer continue on a pathway where those in power at any level within politics or business make decisions and act not because they have questioned whether it is right or wrong to do so, but simply because they can, and it serves their purpose to do so.

Indeed it is ironic that the actions of many businesses to now push up prices post lockdown to ‘make up for what they have lost’ – not because they should, but because they can – could easily prove to become the inflationary catalyst that will bring the whole house of cards down.

The decisions that must be taken to achieve the change that will address the massive societal and systemic imbalances on our behalf will be the responsibility of the Government, the Ministers, the MPs or whoever leads and runs this Country when that time comes.

However, it would be better for us all if the decisions were taken now and before any more damage is done. That way, many of the additional problems that normal people are going to needlessly face can be prevented before they even begin.

This would certainly require Rishi Sunak to choose to own his decisions now, rather than offload them or project them onto a public suffering with crippling financial fatigue.

As this class of politicians is responsible for creating many of the problems that we face, it is only fair to expect them to step up and fulfil the requirements of the responsibility that comes with the jobs they wanted, before inaction and ineptitude causes more damage than our society can sustain.

The Chinese Government’s ruthlessness is a strategic risk empowered by the cultural fear Johnson & Co created to help their own plans for control

August 24, 2020 Leave a comment

Whilst conspiracists and even Governments see the suggestion that China deliberately unleashed Coronavirus on the World as a legitimate hammer to hit them with, there remain simply too many variables and unknowns for a Government as controlling as the Communist Chinese to indulge. That isn’t to say they are neither prepared nor are not already using their ruthlessness to gain a strategic upper hand against the West as our Countries go to pieces because of Coronavirus Policy.

Whilst our Prime Minister likes to think of himself as the Churchill of the modern age, he is presiding over what history is likely to record as one of the most destructive British Governments ever known.

Johnson’s Conservatives have turned a crisis into calamity whilst convincing a significant part of the population that it is no longer safe to live.

If every country around the globe were doing nothing other than dealing with Coronavirus, or rather pandering to the fear of it – as Boris and his Government deliberately are, it would merely be the financial chaos that they have unleashed without good reason in response to the Lockdown they created that would be the biggest problem we face today by far.

However, blame for the genesis of coronavirus, the Huawei 5G question and the South China Sea uncertainties aside, little attention is being focused on China, whilst it is pretty much steaming ahead with everything – like COVID-19 was a meaningless blip it has simply cast aside.

It’s as if China was on the pre-Covid world ‘ship’ with everyone, yet they have carried on accelerating output and enhancing both their economic and industrial situation, whilst all of the western ‘wet’, incompetent and self-serving governments have self sabotaged their own Countries and jumped overboard.

Why does it matter?

It matters because the world is not a happy place. The complacency that has taken over our lives has made both the UK and the wider world an increasingly vulnerable place.

Whilst political correctness and the woke age sees the lives of people cancelled simply for daring to express themselves freely, we have collectively entered a very dangerous time when we literally only see threats from people who dare to offend fashionable thinking and use their voice.

Regrettably, many of the people waking to the threat to our way of living that our own government has caused in their response to the Coronavirus Pandemic are falling into a trap of believing that there is some great conspiracy at work to create a deliberate reset that will enslave us all. Yet the real threat to the Western world is the new world order that the Chinese is already working strategically to impose and fully intends to head.

China is the industrial and economic powerhouse that we should fear, because the Chinese Government see no moral restrictions in their way to achieving anything they want.

Instead our gutless and inept politicians have spent years sucking up to the Chinese Government simply because our own politicians values revolve around money and China appears to be the one Country always ready to help out when there’s a need for ready cash with the seemingly bottomless pockets to go with it.

Beyond the responsibility and the guilt that growing numbers now wish to be attributed to the actions of Boris and Co. there is perhaps an even greater injustice than their catastrophic mishandling of the Coronavirus Pandemic: in terms of national security they and have been and are strategically asleep at the wheel.

There is no reason to not trade with any country if they have goods or services to offer, they we cannot produce in the UK.

Yet the globalist approach that has been part of this neoliberalist age has pushed manufacturing and jobs headlong into the lair of the dragon. Corporate greed and government incompetence have elevated the chase for profits into a different league, playing right into the hands of a regime that uses deception to gain advantage as its default choice.

As the UK and many other countries around the world begin their descent into an economic abyss that there was never a need for us to fall into, let alone be propelled there by the choice and actions of our politicians, the Chinese government is amassing strength in all manner of ways, aided exponentially by this now unavoidable demise of our own.

The Chinese are positioning themselves to exploit this situation to their advantage. They will quickly be in a position to militarily threaten us in the physical world as well as in the parallel cyber universe where their tentacles have spread far beyond our current national capabilities and probably even into our own homes.

Because of what our politicians have done or failed to do, the 1930’s age of appeasement under the threat of Hitler in Europe may well soon resemble a comparatively idle threat when you put in perspective what’s really involved.

Motivating an entire nation that has been brainwashed to fear death from a virus at every step will feel all but impossible to any genuine leader in itself. But having to face overturning the material effect of decades of Neoliberalism and Globalisation too, in order to restore our collective way of thinking, our motivation and our manufacturing capabilities – just so that we can actually respond when WE are the ones being threatened by war (and if the Chinese do not win without a shot being fired first ) – will be beyond compare.

We can only hope that the trajectory we now appear to be on turns out to be false or positively different than it appears. Otherwise the chances are, instead of being a great leader who preserved our freedom at all costs, Boris Johnson will he seen as the prime minister so obsessed with controlling people’s freedoms to preserve his own role that he gave away everyone’s ability to be free by choice.

What the Carillion collapse tells us about the unspoken truths governing public sector contracts

January 18, 2018 Leave a comment

Carillion

Carillion is the big news this week, and is likely to remain on the media radar for some time, given the impact that the collapse of a Company of this size is almost certain to have on commercial relationships that are now an integral part of the public sector.

Moments like this are important for reasons which go way beyond the impact that Monday’s announcement is already having on jobs and the potential closures of many small businesses.

It is providing one of those very rare opportunities to glance inside the incestuous workings of contract delivery on behalf of government and gain an invaluable insight into why private interests working at any level within the public sector is in clear conflict with very ideals of what public service delivery is fundamentally about.

Regrettably, the clear focus of the media and political classes has already fallen upon the question and avoidance of blame. Yet if they were to begin to look just a little further and be open with what have for too long been the unpalatable truths, there would be just the merest hope that questions such as whether there can be a future for the NHS when it remains in a perpetual state of financial crisis could perhaps be genuinely answered.

So why are contracts going to private companies outside the public sector?

The best place to begin thinking about the contracting or privatisation problem is to look at why private business is really even involved in the delivery of government services of any kind, when government exists to operate for, on behalf of and for the benefit of only the public.

Man can only ever have one true master after all, and if money is the true motivator, then public service will at best become an oversight – the unwelcome relative left trailing way behind.

Whilst it may feel counter-intuitive to believe or accept it for many of us, the ‘privatisation solution’ has been in the main part created by Conservative governments in response to the consequences of policies created typically by Labour in order to enhance the rights, working conditions and influence of public sector employees.

Positive discrimination and rights, enhanced working conditions, gold-plated pensions and union indulgence within public sector organisations all cost an ever evolving sum of money in an increasing number of different ways, which usually create even more roles and dilute responsibility further and further still.

The cost of employing people within the public sector on conditions which exceed those of the private sector outside – even when salaries appear to be less, has simply made the delivery of services too expensive for government itself to provide.

Against this backdrop, all areas of he public sector have had to go in search of more cost effective ways to deliver services, and have had to do so in ways which also meet the rigorous requirements of providing services and employing staff as a government based organisations.

This has made the ‘marketplace’ fertile for the entry of private contractors who don’t have the same considerations as these former public sector based service providers.

When you consider that private contractors are providing arguably the same level of service, just without the same levels of bureaucracy – whilst making what in some cases is an outrageous level of profit besides, you can soon begin to see that something is inherently wrong with the way that the government system is now designed.

So how does public sector contracting by private contractors become a problem?

Business loves a contract. Contracts give surety. Contracts themselves can be used as a solid-gold guarantee – and particularly so when they are agreed and signed with government. This gives business confidence which can be misplaced, misused, abused and is almost certain to breed a feeling of complacency.

After completing what should be a rigorous ‘tender process’ – the company will sign a contract with the government organisation which agrees what, when and how the ‘contractor’ will provide a service, whether that just be 1 person to sweep a street or 32 bin lorries to collect your rubbish every fortnight for 5 years. On signing this contract, the company will know exactly what it will be paid, know what it will in turn have to spend, will have worked out its costs and borrowing, should have kept back a little for a rainy day and then know what it will make in profit – from which it will pay bonuses to staff and dividends to shareholders after it has paid any tax requirement.

Good managers know that some things change during the lifetime of a contract – such as fuel prices going up, which would be a real concern for a bus service provider or a private ambulance services. But contractual devices or clauses that allow for some variation in charges are usually built in to any contract to allow for this.

As such, genuinely unforeseen events or those which could not have been predicted by anyone within the contracting company itself are very rare to find.

What government contracts don’t allow for however, are lack of knowledge or understanding of the service delivery area on the part of those designing and agreeing a contract. They don’t make allowance for unmitigated trust on the part of either party. They certainly don’t consider the potential greed or indeed malpractice of a contractor or its decision making staff, which cannot be planned for or predictably defined even within the scope of a government contract process.

When a contractor has only a single contract, transparency is bizarrely much clearer and for the management, much more important and kept clearly in mind.

But when you have many more and perhaps and ever increasing number of contracts, the potential for complacency and overconfidence can lead to otherwise unrealistic opportunities, which in more focused circumstances would have been denied.

It may be as simple as paying senior executives massive, over-inflated salaries. But it has the potential to be much much more in terms of investment, questionable projects and big payouts for shareholders when little in terms of adequate checks and balances has allowed an adequate safety blanket to be retained from payouts and quietly put aside.

The overriding problem with a company which has grown to the size, reach and responsibility of Carillion is there is so much in terms of questionable financial activity that it has the ability to very easily hide.

The responsibility for contract design and management doesn’t just fall on contractors themselves however.

In the background to all this and within the protectionist culture in which contemporary public sector commissioning is currently enshrined, purchasing officers simply don’t have the motivation or willingness to do their jobs as effectively as they should. When the money you are allocating isn’t yours, public service and best value isn’t always the overriding priority. Sometimes it’s all about doing anything which proves to be easier, and who gets what doesn’t always work out exactly as it should.

Whether its building maintenance, bin collections, public transport, prison management, forensic services or interim and temporary staff services that contractors provide, contractors are all making unnecessary profit at the ultimate cost to us as taxpayers.

So what can be done to solve the problem and when will anything happen?

What has been outlined here provides little more than a simple snapshot of a very big and complex problem, which those in power are through their actions are continuing to deny.

For these problems to be addressed, it would first be necessary for politicians to accept that the whole system of government delivery is broken, riddled with management focused upon self interest, making decisions based on theoretical premise, and that there are simply too many people operating within the system who are ultimately being allowed to take us all for a ride.

The ‘too big to fail’ mindset has now permeated through political thinking to a level where contracts are being awarded despite very clear warning signals which would tell even very junior civil service staff that something is not right.

This is no longer a question of let’s bail them out so that they don’t fail like Labour did with the Banks in 2008; this is all about awarding contracts because there is a view that they never will.

Solving this problem is far from simple. It is not just about political thinking. It’s about getting the market’s to think differently. But just as much, it’s about getting employees to see their roles differently; to accept that they have a part to play too.

In simple terms, the free for all has to stop.

This bonanza based on self-interest is no longer sustainable.

The perpetuation of the lie that government genuinely works selflessly for everyone has got to be stopped.

No business can perform effectively on the basis that it prioritises the working conditions and needs of its staff before the priorities upon which it was created to deliver. Yet this is how liberalism and rights culture has manifested itself within all parts of government and the public sector.

Not only has the NHS become hamstrung by lack of staff and inefficiency, it is being cut up by the cost of the staff it hires through contracts – thereby being destroyed by the supposed solution itself; by the very respite that additional money is supposed to provide.

Meanwhile local government has its own substantive bogeyman too, finding itself tied up in knots by the cost of the local government pension scheme – the destination of the better part of our council tax, in many of the Boroughs, Cities and Districts where most of us reside.

Then there are the PFI contracts upon which the last Labour Government so heavily relied. A coarse, deceptive instrument designed to hide public spending, whilst fire hosing cash at private contractors over 30 year terms. Just another financial time bomb legacy like the raid on pension funds by Gordon Brown which we overlook daily on the basis that out of sight is very much out of our minds.

The power rests with government to change all of this, if only they would try.

Regrettably, the will doesn’t even exist to even begin doing so today, even if the Government could begin doing so – something that a hung parliament which could last until 2022 will simply deny.

With a good chance that the next Government will be based upon or built around a militant form of Labour, the chances are that politicians will only continue to try and hide the truth thereafter, because action which doesn’t just look responsible is not a pathway to which they are inclined.

As Jeremy Corbyn made clear in his questioning of Theresa May at Wednesday’s PMQ’s, the answer is just to do everything to return everyone to employment in government jobs. No doubt based upon further borrowing, which to those who don’t understand business or economics is a perceived as a policy which when sold looks bullet proof.

images thanks to independent.co.uk, bbc.co.uk, wiltshiretimes.co.uk

The ‘rent’ economy is enslaving us all, creating money for nothing for the ‘asset rich’ and progressively extending poverty to all the ‘paying poor’

December 28, 2017 Leave a comment

download (10)Every day we are hearing and reading stories about wage stagnation, price escalation, homelessness of the kind where young people can’t afford their own place, spiralling personal debt and a whole range of stories which relate to the cost of living. Stories that are repeatedly telling us that maintaining a basic life in the UK is very quickly becoming a luxury that many of us simply cannot or will not be able to afford.

Alone, each tale told can and often is attributed to a range of causes which are nonetheless real, but also overlook a common theme throughout all of these issues. The commonality between them all is the economic concept of ‘rent’. The impact of third parties taking ownership of all or part of a product, the delivery of a service, or some other form of purchase at some point in the process from where it originated to where we use or in consume it in some way.

Rent is of course a term we use in daily life to describe paying to use something which belongs to someone else. The most common usage is that of renting of a house, where instead of there being a simple relationship between an owner occupier and their house or property, the occupant rents the property from the owner, essentially increasing a basic two part relationship into three.

In just this example alone, we can take it one stage further and add a bank or mortgage owner of a buy-to-let property (1) which is rented by the occupant (2) from the owner (3) who borrows the money and pays interest to the bank (4), which may itself have borrowed that money from another bank (5).

Whilst we would normally think of just the transaction between the occupier and the property owner as being ‘rent’, in economic terms, any additional party taking something from an overall transaction or supply chain between its origin and use who isn’t essential to the core process is receiving rent of some kind. They in turn may split their role between themselves and others, each adding their own profit as they do every time it happens. Ultimately each additional participant in the chain raises the price of whatever we as users or consumers will be expected to pay.

Sometimes, a number of stages appear necessary. For instance the food we eat might have to be grown by a farmer (1), which is bought by a manufacturer (2) who pays a haulier (3) to transport it to where they will process it. The manufacturer then sells the prepared food to a wholesaler(4) and pays another haulier (5) to deliver it to their warehouse. The wholesaler then sells it to a supermarket (6) and pays another haulier (7) to take it to their distribution centre. The supermarket then pays another haulier (8) to deliver the product to its store, where it sells the finished product to us (9). Do believe me when I say that the chains are usually much more convoluted than that!

Of course, we are all guilty of falling into the trap of forgetting how complex the process is which brings us our food and most of the items that we consume or the services we buy, because for us the process seems to be so very easy. But look closer and we will soon see that even a supply chain of this size may involve unnecessary parts and people taking ‘rent’.

So what does this all this talk of rent really have to do with the cost of living?

The real problem with the provision of goods and services is that the UK operates within what is called a ‘free market’ environment, which it has been since at least the time of the Thatcher Government (1979-90). Within this free market, reduced levels of regulation and influence from the government – who we expect to guard and protect our best interests – provides the opportunity for additional 3rd parties and in fact many more of them to involve or add themselves to the chain of many of our daily transactions. By doing so, they can make significant profits from what in some cases will be as simple for them as a click to buy and another to sell.

Whether it is food, clothing, fuel and oil, transport, communications, borrowing money, or just about anything we can imagine that we can buy, there are now speculators buying and selling products and services, sub contracting responsibilities to others, all of them taking additional profit by taking ‘rent’ which there is no practical reason for anyone needing to pay. They indirectly inflate the prices we pay for the end product, increasingly making those things which should really be quite affordable, simply too expensive for us to buy.

These speculators do this because they can. There are no real rules to stop them, and they are making as much money as they can without any consideration for the impact of their actions on the end users – that’s us. And they have little concern that they will have to stop doing so, because the banks simply continue to lend money to the people who have been forced by this process to borrow – if indeed possible – in order to survive.

Think about what really caused the 2007-08 Financial Crisis, which was the sale, resale and resale again of financial products or debts which became so complex, even the financiers themselves didn’t really know what they were buying and selling on.

Bankers were making massive amounts of money – all because nobody was monitoring exactly what they were doing, whilst their own ‘success’ blinded them to how value was being created by lending to people at one end of this elaborate chain who simply didn’t have the ability to pay back what they had been lent.

The Bankers didn’t care before it happened and they don’t care now. They are still not regulated in the way that they should be, and were actually saved from going under in 2008 by the Labour Government at the time by giving them Billions of Pounds of money in bailouts and rescue funds that the Government itself borrowed, and which we are still paying for through the accumulation of public debt.

These are people, banks and companies who are quite literally making money for nothing, and its all at our expense.

The ‘rent’ economy has been evolving as the reality in which we live for many years now. But it is only as more and more products and services have come under the control of those with the money and unrestricted influence to speculate, whether it has been through privatisation, the development of near monopolies or money simply being placed within unscrupulous hands, that the real impact of ‘farming everything for profit’ has began to become fully clear.

 

 

 

Cameron names his nemesis populism, but the Westminster set still refuses to accept that it was a rejection of self interest which was the key to Brexit

December 13, 2016 1 comment

imagesAs I stepped into the polling booth at a local church hall on the evening of 23rd of June and looked at the voting slip in my hands, the feeling that crossed my mind couldn’t have been further from the thought of being part of something populist, even if I had been confident that my No vote would contribute to an unscripted win.

I know that I am not alone, and whilst the bizarre polarity which now exists between Remainers and Leavers has reached the level that you will find friendships broken and even online dating profiles telling would-be suitors not to waste their time if they voted the other way, it is certain that David Cameron continues to do a great disservice to all voters by now suggesting that such a momentous decision could be made under the influence of a populist cause.

It isn’t cool to be a Leaver for the same reasons that our former Prime Minister came to draw that very conclusion.

Labelling and the use of umbrella terms to cover a multitude of different interpretations make life easy for politicians and the media alike. But they mean different things to different people. They provide an ill-considered opportunity to stereotype, and there is a very dangerous assumption that everyone who voted one way or the other did so purely on the basis that it was a populist choice and that we therefore think alike.

We don’t.

One of the most significant errors being made by politicians from across our range of political parties and even the USA beyond, is to believe that workable solutions to the root causes of the problems which have created these inappropriately labelled ‘populist’ votes can be narrowed down to focusing upon or addressing these tent-like terms such as ‘immigration’. Indeed, as we now progress forward from the Referendum they believe it sensible to use the newly coined ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ Brexit with the inherent suggestion that there is again some kind of black and white choice which still provides an ‘in/out choice’.

It doesn’t.

Not only are these terms misrepresentative and wholly misleading about the life-experiences which people are having across the Country, they are exacerbating the level of confusion that the mishmash of issues surrounding our relationship with Europe actually presents. And that’s the end of the story only if you are prepared to accept that the Referendum result was itself only ever about Europe.

People are neither one thing nor the other as leave or remain has been darkly painted suggest. The majority of people are in the most part probably sat somewhere in between.

But even ‘somewhere in between’  would be far too specific a way to try and position the basis of a debate or the questions which support it, when the European question relates so differently to so many people, depending upon just how the plethora of issues involved may have impacted upon their own lives on perhaps a very meaningful basis.

The European Referendum arrived at the front of what we will perhaps look back upon as the beginning of a perfect storm. One which has been created in no small part by many years of neoliberalism in its ascendancy, and the evolution of a political and governmental culture of self-interest. A self-contained entity which has seen decisions and policy making made within bubbles of understanding about the life experience of others and a narrative of the world outside which in relative terms operates no differently to the insular online realities that so many disenfranchised people feel falsely empowered by, and as such enjoy.

Many voters do not themselves understand the true complexity of the issues at hand, such as the role of Globalisation in freedom of movement, nor the impact that new and improving technology is having on the decimation of well-paid jobs which are disappearing rather than being awarded to some foreigner who is always guaranteed to do the job for less. They certainly do not consider the unrecognisable role of the taxpayer in subsidising low paid jobs through the benefits systems for the corporate businesses that could afford to pay more along with the impact on small ones whose owners would genuinely like to do so.

It is correct that we should all be able to expect those who have been elected to represent us would properly do so. Not only should they understand fully the issues before them, we also have the right to expect that they would legislate with balance, fairness and the full reach of consequence in mind.

Regrettably there is scant evidence that they do, and with the secret now open that political parties work only towards the delivery of a beneficial result in the next election, Westminster should be in no way surprised by the fact that continuing to do things the same way that they always have, will continue to yield results which beat to a different drum.

No. Many people voted ‘No’ through the feelings of isolation which our political establishment has dealt us over many years and Governments, and it is the frustration building up inside which in one way or another to each of us said ‘No, I can no longer go with what I see as this hollow and populist status quo’.

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