A study in piss and wind
Where would we be without neoliberals, eh?
The phone line was dead again this morning. The phone apparatus itself I now down to one handpiece: one died last year, and the other one became extinct at some time during my summer absence. The oven thermostat is knackered. The dishwasher tablet dispenser doesn’t want to open any more. The cheap hand-drill I bought last March won’t recharge. In the cupboard above the cutlery draws are all the water, wine and kids’ glasses amassed over the years. Just two – made in Italy fifteen years ago – are still with us. The rest are third generation replacements. After the effort last year of pumping up my bicycle tyres twice, the ingeniously designed Chinese pump is now stuck in the “doing nothing” position. And the washing machine won’t drain after the last wash, so one has to redo the rinse and empty programme.
Things just aren’t terribly well made any more: or if they are, you need to reconfigure your mortgage to buy them. When they break down, there’s nobody on the telephone in terms of after-sales or a craftsman to talk to about it. Across the way from my nearest Intermarche, there’s a b2b technology repair shop. I took my hp printer in there and said can you fix it. Yes, he said, but it’s cheaper to buy a new one. Makes you wonder what he does to get business these days.
A number of factors lie behind these features of contemporary life – be it France, the US, Britain, Italy or Greece – and they are all human-economics related:
- Nobody wants to be a craftsman any more.
- Instead, they’re unemployed Media Studies graduates.
- Those who want to be craftsmen won’t get work because (a) it’s cheaper to buy a new one and (b) customers simply can’t discern quality any more. (On the off-chance that the craftsman did scratch a living, the bank would defraud him out of his assets).
- Too many people are unemployed because the accountants ripped out after-sales service and moved it to Delhi.
- Some of the people who used to do that job are costing the State a fortune, because they’re unemployed.
- The rest of those people are doing menial, badly-paid jobs offering much shorter hours.
- The neoliberal capitalist model demands high volume sales and quick returns, so all durables are now constructed such as to stop functioning after a certain time, and thus make it cheaper to buy a new one.
- The Chinese are doing their bit to help in this process by flooding the West with crap.
The consequences of all this are so obvious, a reasonably bright senior infant school child could work it out. But the consequences are far more apparent in Britain. There, we have more unemployed people than in the medium to long term past, and vastly more people working part time for rubbish money. So although the cost of unemployment is more or less static for the State, there is no spare disposable income with which to buy stuff. The economy thus stays in recession (take out QE as a factor, and it’s been in a depression for nearly four years), our volume of trade falls, retailers go bankrupt, and the deficits stay stubbornly high.
Of course, the situation is far worse in Greece. But then, they had some Belgian bullies and the German 1923 Committee do it to them: they didn’t do it to themselves. We did.
And that’s just the money. Our skill set is still pitiful – immigration indeed is claimed to be the only way we can make up the difference. So the capitalist model we’re using steals UK jobs and gives them to cheap workers overseas, while insisting that we need a bigger population of skilled workers by importing them. And our dumbed-down secondary education is now being expanded to include a sell-to-the-highest-bidder scramble to destroy the standards in our Universities. As you can see, the Coalition has this all terribly well thought-through and nailed down.
I’ve written many times before about how, when the banks screw up, the squeezed middle pays and the Treasury empties. That means less money to invest in people, less money with which to consume. If the banks screw up and learn nothing, that means bailout turns to bailin, and we get Cyprus – an island where, as I hear and fully understand – there almost literally aren’t any consumers any more, except for the tourists.
If people don’t improve their skill sets and make more British things, our import bill goes up. If they have very little money, they buy cheap Chinese crap, and our import bill zooms even higher. If we import skilled workers, at some point our welfare bill goes up.
If we don’t sell things – well-made things based on quality and cachet rather than volume – then the vicious circle gets tighter. All that is left for the State to do at that point is sell itself, while somehow trying to get foreign skilled people to build the infrastructure for us.
And of course, this is exactly what’s happening. First of all we sold off the utilities to piggies who took the money and then sold it to foreign conglomerates. The result for British citizens has been higher prices…and for the State, lost control. We don’t build our own cars, design our own power stations, control our own electricity supply or even grow our own footballers any more. The only things left in British hands are the empty, toxic banks….and guess what, We the People are lumbered with those. Whoopee.
Their lack of commercial nous having cost us a fortune from 2002-2010, the senior Labour leaders shadowing the Shady Shapps et al have not a clue how to be commercially radical now. They merely utter soundbite drivel about the cost of energy (what are they going to do, get teams of people to blow at the wind farms?) or the usual vote-catching heart-on-sleeve whining about “our youth deserves work”. No it doesn’t: nobody deserves anything. Thinking like that got us to here in the first place.
Thinking is not something at which either of the Eds excel. Balls is hailed (all useless people are hailed these days, that’s how one tells they’re a waste of space) as some great econo-fiscal brainbox, but it certainly doesn’t come through from his public utterances. If he was able to articulate a growth strategy for the medium term and get business behind it, the Conservatives would be routed in 2015. But that’s the trouble: Ed is inarticulate at the same time as being impenetrable. You have to be clever to do both at the same time, and Mr Balls very probably is clever; but like his former boss from the Manse, he cannot keep things plain and simple. When Brown and Balls were working together, I’d love to have been a fly on the wall. It must’ve been like watching a Pinter play.
Perhaps worst of all, there is no ethical lead coming from the Opposition Leader. Mr Miliband is as fit as a fiddle when it comes to jumping on bandwagons, but in doing so he looks increasingly like yet another opportunist devoid of ideas or principles. The right wing press loves to depict him as Red Ed, but he is nothing beyond the archetype of a Jewish Highgate intellectual: terribly right on because he lacks the moral courage to suggest greater mutuality between business, banking and society – a man who emits catchy promises and straplines without a second’s thought for the consequences, while expressing solidarity with desolation….but for himself, chooses the lifestyle of those with large houses in the leafy suburban glades of London.
At base, we are faced yet again here with the United Kingdom’s core problem: we are governed by people who, for the last fifty years, have been selling out to the money and the media. We have swapped Trade Union fanatics for banking spivs, old-style Marxist collectivism for old-style laissez faire economics, and Hugh Cudlipp for Rupert Murdoch. The resultant output however is exactly the same: mad ideas that suit the few, with none of the common sense possessed by the many.
Over that half century, We the People have been ignored (until it was too late) on bringing down wage costs, controlling the Unions, curbing immigration, leaving the European Union, the threat of Islamism, reining in the bankers, reforming the NHS, and forcing tougher tax rules onto Big Business. Every single one of these policies has been supported at one time or another by the great majority of citizens, and every last one has grown into an insoluble problem. Political tribalism and corrupting money ensured that, after several decades of The Blind Eye, we are crushed into one corner of a tiny room full of elephants.
But returning to a helicopter view of the West as a whole, the pattern is roughly the same: money being more important than community, shareholders being more important than employed families, high stock markets being more important than savers, saved banks being more important than those on a fixed income, and margins being more important than employing keen youth to offer better service to the customer.
None of those who support this idiotic ‘model’ can see any of this: or they can, but they prefer the munneeee. As a result we have more rubbish to bury, little or no pride in work, no employee security, a generation now hooked on State money, and a police force rapidly turning into the new Gestapo – there entirely to protect the elite.
I am sick of Cameron and his acolytes wittering on about the global race, the fun of fracking, the hatred of profit, and the growing recovery. We should leave the global race to the rats, find better energy solutions, stop all profiteering, and face up to our bankruptcy. But the first job is to rid ourselves of the élites: the lawyers, accountants, bureaucrats, bankers, coppers, media gargoyles and above all politicians who are entirely to blame for this mess. We the People stand guilty of but one thing: doing nothing.
|sweetwillowman or (sw) ~ Share the truth … Share Love and Harmony… Namaste’|