Even monkeys know what is fair and equitable, which is more than can be said for the vile ConDem government.
Archive for the ‘economics’ Category
Saxmundham is a small market town in Suffolk. Its main name to fame is the town that said no to Tesco. The local council consulted with local people and said no to Tesco, enabling the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, to thrive.
Contrast with the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor (as it is known locally), where half of Farnborough town centre was destroyed for an unwanted Sainsbury’s superstore and in neighbouring Aldershot, the edge-of-town centre Westgate (or Wastegate as local retailers call it) is laying waste to Aldershot town centre.
Kent appears to be acquiring a reputation as the County that says No to Tesco.
At long last, local councils are listening to what local people are saying, that they do not want Clone Towns, do not wish to see their town centres full of identikit shops, boarded-up shops, betting shops, same old corporate chain coffee shops serving rubbish coffee and factory cakes, nor do they want to see their pubs destroyed for Tesco supermarkets or turned into a tacky McDonald’s.
Guildford has said no to an Aldi superstore (though Aldi has threatened to appeal).
Totnes said no to Costa, the local council said yes, but local people had the last laugh and have driven Costa out of town with their corporate tail between their legs.
Even the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor is starting to heed local people and has put in measures to stop the derelict Tumbledown Dick being turned into a Drive-Thru McDonald’s.
Greene King are a pubco, ie a large pub owning company that screws pub landlords by charging extortionate rents, and by overcharging for the beer they are forced to buy. The net result is the pubs go bust, and are then sold off for redevelopment.
We are losing 18 pubs a week thanks to greedy pubcos like Greene King.
One such pub Greene King has screwed into the ground is Farmer’s Boy, a 17th-century Grade II listed building in the village of Langley, Hertfordshire. Fred Robinson ran the pub for nearly five years but during that time it was never refurbished. The pub is now closed, earmarked for redevelopment as housing, Fred Robinson unemployed and the prospect of being rendered homeless.
Greene King are not content to screw their pub landlords, they are also screwing the rest of society by joining the likes of Starbucks and dodging tax.
Members of Parliament on the Public Accounts Committee have cited the pub group’s scheme as one example of “an illegitimate game to outwit the taxpayer”. Conservative committee member Richard Bacon suggested it was “purely artificial”.
Lawyers for HMRC claim that Greene King, which owns 2,300 pubs, including the Hungry Horse and Loch Fyne restaurant chains, received tailored tax advice from Ernst & Young suggesting it could build a series of transactions between companies within the same group that would leave it with a tax advantage.
Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand had the gall to take umbrage when The Grauniad had the audacity to question him about his tax-dodging activity.
Tax-dodging Greene King now face the prospect of a boycott or occupation.
Pubs are closing at the rate of 18 a week. Not because the pub landlords cannot organise a piss up in a brewery, though that certainly is true of some pub landlords, but because they are being screwed by greedy pubcos (pub owning companies) who are charging extortionate rent and above market prices for drinks.
Essentially we have a mediaeval system of serfdom. Many pub landlords are struggling on £15,000 a year, or less. And no, that is not a typo.
The pub landlord goes bust, the pub is sold off for redevelopment.
This does not have to be. There is much that can be done locally.
Is the pub listed as a community asset? Is it listed by English Heritage or locally as a building of local historical importance? Is there a pub protection policy in place?
- Buildings of Local Historical Importance in Aldershot and Farnborough
- Last orders? How councils can protect local pubs from closure
Nationally, there is now such concern at the rate of loss of pubs, and the mediaeval serfdom in which pub landlords operate, that the government has launched a pub consultation exercise. Does your pub landlord know about this, is it being publicised to those who frequent the pub? Pass the word, participate, unless you want to find your pub closed and boarded up next time you pop down for a drink. The closing date for responses is 14 June 2013.
Please also support Fair Deal for Your Local, and ensure your local pub is on board.
An innovative political animation series that looks at how two young girls struggle to deal with the country’s economic, political, social, and moral crisis in their own very special way has been launched by the Eleftherotypia newspaper.
The cartoons feature a set cast of characters centred on Sara, a shy girl from a conservative home whose political views are largely informed by her military dad, and the boisterous Mara, whose father is a hacker and mother an anarchist and who gets all her news from Twitter.
The girls meet regularly on Syntagma Square outside parliament, where they come to observe and comment on political goings-on both in the chamber and on the square.
We are Sara and Mara. We are Greek and like to hang out in #Syntagma Square, Athens. Join us. Talk to us. #Greece.
According to bestselling author Naomi Klein, the systemic use of shock and fear by the power elites to undermine vulnerable communities is very much evident in post-bailout Greece. From the rise of racism to the sell-off of the country’s oil and natural gas resources – much of what will shape Greece’s immediate future are, she argues, predictable consequences of the politics of austerity.
Naomi Klein is the author of controversial New York Times bestseller The Shock Doctrine, which has been referred to as “the master narrative of our time”. The book argues that business interests and powerful nations exploit shocks in the form of natural disasters, economic problems, or political turmoil, as an opportunity to aggressively restructure vulnerable countries’ economies. She posits that because ultra-capitalistic policies are harmful to the majority of citizens, they cannot be implemented without a shock, ranging from media-hyped anxiety to police torture, that squashes popular resistance. In this exclusive interview, Klein explains how she believes the Shock Doctrine relates to Greece today.
How do events in Greece relate to your arguments in The Shock Doctrine?
To me it is a classic example of the things I wrote about. It’s heartbreaking to see the same tricks and the same tactics being used so brutally. And there’s been enormous resistance in Greece. It’s particularly distressing to see the violent repression of the social movements that were resisting austerity. And it’s just been going on for so long now. People get worn down.
What I’ve been following recently is the sell-off of natural resources for mining and drilling. That’s the next frontier of how this is going to play out – the scramble for oil and gas in the Aegean. And it’s going to affect Cyprus as well. This is a whole other level of using austerity and debt to force countries to sell off their mining and drilling rights for fire sale prices.
When you add the climate crisis on top of that it is particularly culpable that you have an economic crisis being used as leverage to extract more fossil fuels, especially because Greece itself very climate vulnerable. And I think its possible that, as the scramble for oil and gas heats up, there will be more resistance because it’s a huge threat to Greece’s economy.
How much does climate change affect your argument?
Because I am working on a book and a film on climate change, that’s why I’ve been following the extractive side of the shock doctrine in Greece, which has gotten a lot less attention. Understandably, people are focused on having their pensions cut, and the layoffs – and those definitely are more immediate. Although in the case of the [Skouries] goldmine, there is an immediate threat to safety, to livelihood, and to economy, and so people are extremely vocal about that.
But the part of this that I find so culpable, and so deeply immoral, is that the rise of fascism in this context is entirely predictable. We know that this is what happens. And this is supposedly the lesson of the Second World War: If you impose punishing and humiliating sanctions on a country, it creates the right breeding grounds for fascism. That’s what Keynes warned about when he wrote The Economic Consequences of the Peace, regarding the Treaty of Versailles. To me it’s so incredible that we continue to allow history to repeat in this way.
Greeks have this particular fear that’s being exploited, around the fear of becoming a developing country, becoming a third world country. And I think in Greece there’s always been this sense of hanging on to Europe by a thread. And the threat is having that thread cut. That fear plays out in two ways: One that you can’t leave the eurozone because that will be the end of your status as a developed country. And then on attacks on migrants and in the anti-immigrant backlash.
Just because something bad is happening doesn’t mean you’re going to go into shock. Shock is what happens when you lose your narrative, when you no longer understand where you are in time and space. You don’t know what your story is anymore.
In The Shock Doctrine you talk about how countries the IMF lent money to were said to have sick economies, and specifically, to have ‘cancer.’ But with Greece we talk about ‘contagion.’ What are the implications of this change in metaphor?
‘Cancer’ is already a violent discourse. When you diagnose a country with cancer whatever treatment you go with is justified, it’s necessarily lifesaving. That’s the whole point of the cancer metaphor. Once you have that diagnosis, you, as the doctor, are not culpable for the negative affects of the treatment.
But calling it a contagion of course means that this is about keeping it contained, and preventing whatever rebelliousness is being incubated from spreading, particularly to Cyprus, Portugal and Spain.
When you have these fears of a contagion, when investors are afraid of a whole region, it means that that region has power to come together as a block with a much stronger hand. This is what I wrote about in the book about Latin America in the 1980s, with the so-called debt-shock. Where it would have been next to impossible for individual countries to stand up to the power of the IMF. But if Latin America as a block had organised themselves and stood up to the IMF together, then they actually would have had the power to break them. And then you would have had a much more even negotiation. I’ve always thought that this is one of the answers to the idea of contagion. If that’s what your opponents are afraid of, organise into a negotiating block.
So the countries of southern Europe should come together negotiations with the troika?
I would think so, yes. It’s called a debtors’ cartel. But it never happens. As far as I know it hasn’t been tried.
There is a concerted attempt to create the false equivalency between an individual who went into a little bit of consumer debt, and a bank who leveraged themselves 33-1. It’s an outrageous comparison.
Former deputy prime minister Theodoros Pangalos said, “We all gorged together” – as in every Greek was complicit to causing the crisis. In contrast, Alexis Tsipras, the head of main opposition party Syriza, has pointed the finger at Angela Merkel and her followers. How should the way that the crisis came about affect the way we try to solve it?
If you accept the premise that everybody created this crisis equally, then you have created the context where collective punishment is acceptable. That is the whole point of this false equivalency.
There is a concerted attempt to create the false equivalency between an individual who went into a little bit of consumer debt, and a bank who leveraged themselves 33-1. It’s an outrageous comparison. But unfortunately this is the way economics is discussed in our culture where you always have these equivalencies. Between family debt and the debt of a nation. ‘Would you run your house this way?’ It’s a ridiculous comparison because the way you run your house is not the way you run your country. We all gorged together … that means everyone has to starve. But of course we know everybody won’t starve.
The journalist who published the identity of the names on the Lagarde list, Kostas Vaxevanis, said in an interview with the Guardian that Greeks have to go to the foreign press to get news on their own country. What is the role of the press in either assisting or resisting the shock doctrine?
Information is shock resistance. The state of shock that is so easy to exploit is a state of confusion. It’s a loss of story, it’s that panic that sets in, this window that opens up, when things are changing very, very quickly. And those are the moments when we need our media more than ever. This is the collective way that we ‘renarrativise’ ourselves. We tell ourselves a story, we keep ourselves oriented – if we have a good media.
Information is shock resistance.
Just because something bad is happening doesn’t mean you’re going to go into shock. Shock is what happens when you lose your narrative, when you no longer understand where you are in time and space. You don’t know what your story is anymore. That’s when you are very vulnerable to somebody coming along and telling you, ‘This is the story.’
Greeks have this particular fear that’s being exploited, around the fear of becoming a developing country, becoming a third world country. And I think in Greece there’s always been this sense of hanging on to Europe by a thread. And the threat is having that thread cut.
None of this can happen without a complicit media, a media willing to work with the elites, and spread the fear. It’s the fear that’s fuelling this, the fear of falling, falling out of Europe, falling into the developing world. Politicians don’t have the ability to spread that fear on their own. They need the commentaries. They need the hysteria on the talk shows.
Journalists have to understand that none of this can happen without us. We are not just observers. In these moments when it’s all about fear and orientation and loss of story, we are actors in this and we have choice. Are we going to help people stay oriented, or are we going to be tools of the elites?
Whether it’s fear of immigrants, or this supposed calamity in the future that prevents people from looking at the calamity in the present. The calamity has come. This is a depression. But by constantly focusing people on the worst thing that could happen down the road that is always being put in front of you, then you are not focusing on the outrageous, masochistic attack that has been inflicted on this country.
The roots of this are the financial crisis in 2008. And it was the journalists who didn’t ask the questions in the first place, and fed all of this hype about a market boom that was going to last forever and didn’t ask those questions.
We are deep in this. Both in creating the context for the economic crash in the first place, and now being tools of the elites and how we respond to it.
Original article by Lynn Edmonds published by ENetEnglish.
The evil ConDem government in UK is using Shock Doctrine. A debt crisis is being used as an excuse for slash and burn of public services, to savagely cut benefits for the poor and disabled, with the mantra, we are all in it together. Coupled with a weak and spineless parliamentary opposition that competes to see who can hit the poor and disadvantaged the hardest.
All that glitters is not gold. — William Sahkespeare
This statement was presented as an argument AGAINST gold, “The only reason (gold) has value is … because it always has. — Stacy Herbert
Aristotle defined the qualities money had to possess:
- It must be durable
- It must be portable
- It must be divisible and consistent
- It must have intrinsic value
Gold was used for early coinage because it met the criteria of Aristotle (as did silver).
Gold is durable. You can bury it in a pot in the ground and be sure of finding it later (or at least someone will if not you).
A currency must be dense, high value for its weight and volume. Easy to transport around. Though tell that to Cypriots trying to get gold out of Cyprus.
You can cut gold coins in half, you can melt them down into gold ingots.
Gold has intrinsic value. There is a limited supply of gold. It has uses in jewellery, in electronics.
Paper money overcomes some of the perceived limitations of gold. It is easier to carry around. It is more easily divisible when you have sub-units as coins. But is has no intrinsic value unless backed by gold. It has less portable value when transported across borders, unless they accept the same paper currency.
With gold coins, it mattered not where it was minted, as it was a gold coin, everyone knew it value.
With paper money, once the link with gold was broken, it lacked any intrinsic value. When whoever owns the printing presses needs more money, they simply print more money. When the banks wnat more money, they create debt.
One of the most stupid things Gordon Brown ever did was sell off gold reserves. He sold so much that it became effectively dumping gold on the world market, the gold price went into free fall, the South African economy was literally bankrupted overnight. And what did the fool use the gold to buy, worthless euros.
Cyprus should not sell off its gold reserves as it is being pressurised to do.
One disadvantage of gold, but true of all currencies, is that is locking up wealth, it becomes dead, in the same way property is dead, it is not being used for productive use.
When the German economy collapsed, which would you have preferred, a few gold ingots or a barrow full of worthless paper.
Paper money, stored as digits on a computer, is not safe, as depositors in Cyprus learnt when the Cypriot government acting as EU puppets stole their money.
Paper money, stored as digits on a computer, is not easily accessible, as account holders of RBS learnt to their cost.
Russia and China are stockpiling gold. Banks are stockpiling gold because like the rest of society, they recognise banks are criminal organisations not to be trusted.
The measure of gold is not dollars or yen or sterling or euros, it is ounces and for Central Banks, tons.
In a candid interview for the documentary We Feed the World, Nestlé Chairman Peter Brabeck makes the astonishing claim that water isn’t a human right. He attacks the idea that nature is good, and says it is a great achievement that humans are now able to resist nature’s dominance. He attacks organic agriculture and says genetic modification is better.
Nestlé is the world’s biggest bottler of water. Brabeck claims – correctly – that water is the most important raw material in the world. However he then goes on to say that privatisation is the best way to ensure fair distribution. He claims that the idea that water is a human right comes from “extremist” NGOs. Water is a foodstuff like any other, and should have a market value.
He believes that the ultimate social responsibility of any Chairman is to make as much profit as possible, so that people will have jobs.
And just to underline what a lovely man he is, he also thinks we should all be working longer and harder.
Consequences of water privatisation
The consequences of water privatisation have been devastating on poor communities around the world. In South Africa, where the municipal workers’ union SAMWU fought a long battle against privatisation, there has been substantial research (pdf) about the effects. Water privatisation lead to a massive cholera outbreak in Durban in the year 2000.
The Nestlé boycott
Nestlé already has a very bad reputation among activists. There has been a boycott call since 1977. This is due to Nestlé’s aggressive lobbying to get women to stop breastfeeding – which is free and healthy – and use infant formula (sold by Nestlé) instead. Nestlé has lobbied governments to tell their health departments to promote formula. In poor countries, this has resulted in the deaths of babies, as women have mixed formula with contaminated water instead of breastfeeding.
Tell Nestlé they are wrong – water is a human right
There is Europe-wide campaign to tell the European Commission that water is a human right, and to ask them to enact legislation to ensure this is protected.
If you live in Europe, please sign the petition.
Original article published by Union Solidarity International.
London’s pubs are a step closer to being protected from demolition or conversion into homes, shops or office blocks after Boris Johnson agreed to list them as “community assets” in his planning guidance for councils.
The Mayor told Tory Assembly members he would include a specific protection for community pubs to stop them being taken over by developers.
This would mean that the onus to protect a local pub would lie with borough planning departments rather than with the local community, as is currently the case.
More than two pubs are closing every day across the country and London has lost 1,300 in the past decade. Assembly member Steve O’Connell, a Conservative, said: “Good pubs are an asset to London’s communities. They deserve to be mentioned specifically in the Mayor’s forthcoming planning guidance to borough councils — at the moment they are covered as a broad generalisation.
“Unfortunately, a high number of these pubs are demolished or converted to other uses such as residential and retail services which radically alter community spaces and change the tone of the high street.”
A recent report by the Tories recommended that London’s boroughs should step in with stricter planning policies that favour protecting pubs as community hubs.
It also called for strict criteria when it comes to planning applications for changing the use of a pub or demolishing it. These might include the need to demonstrate that the pub has been vacant for at least two years, making sure the character of the street scene is not detrimentally affected, and retaining significant features of historic value.
It comes after a high-profile Chelsea pub was saved from redevelopment into a £20 million home after a huge campaign against its closure.
Residents including actor Hugh Grant and former footballer Sol Campbell were among more than 1,000 people who signed a petition against a planning application to turn the Phene Arms into a residence complete with steam room, swimming pool and gym complex.
Rodger Molyneux, director of The Hope in Carshalton, says that if a pub is lost part of the community dies.
“Listing a pub as a community asset helps to see off the property developers who are the main reason pubs go down. There’s plenty of help now but when we were doing it three and a half years ago, it was very different. A number of us stood around in the bar one night and thought we should get together and buy it. They pointed to me and said ‘you organise it’. It took months of legal ups and downs but we got it eventually. We’ve grown the business and made the place nicer. We made it how beer drinkers like a pub to be.
“I would hope that every local authority in the land will use their new powers to stop unwanted and unwarranted attacks on a great British institution.”
Originally published in the Evening Standard.
Lord Freud is happy to bring in the Bedroom Tax and make the poor homeless, finally has a word with Channel 4 News on the subject of Bedroom Tax.
Disabled children are just one group who will be heavily impacted by the obscene Bedroom Tax.
Consultants write reports, a lot of time, money and effort is expended to get specially adapted bedroom for children with disabilities. All for nought when the vile ConDem government tells them to downsize to a smaller house, because they call it as a spare bedroom, subject to a Bedroom Tax.
Adults with disabilities, have sufficient stress in their lives, without the additional stress of having their disability benefits taken away.
Its says it all when David Cameron chooses The Sun to write in to say the cuts are fair.
The top rate of tax, paid by the 1% highest earners who earn over £150,000/year, will fall from 50% to 45%.
Meanwhile at the other end of the scale, the people with the lowest income – those on unemployment and disability benefits in Birmingham – face paying 20% of their council tax bill.