Archive for the ‘economics’ Category

How not to run a coffee business (or any business)

August 2, 2017

Several weeks ago I visited a coffee roastery, a tiny 1kg roaster. They told me they were expecting any day, two new 2.5 kg coffee roasters. I was not impressed the new coffee roaster were supplied from Israel. I tried a filter coffee from Kenya. They asked I come back once the new coffee roasters were installed, which were expected to be installed the next few days. I said I would talk to a few coffee shops who may be interested in their beans. They said they had never supplied coffee shops.

A week or more passed by. I do not like chasing people. But nevertheless sent them a reminder, that if in the area, I could drop by.  I also mentioned I had talked with a  few coffee shops who may be interested.

The farce then began. Each time a meeting was arranged, or I suggested a meeting, they would have reason to say no or cancel, often cancelling at very short notice when a date and time had been agreed.  On one occasion extremely short notice, an hour or so, to say do not come, we have decided to re-arrange the office.

Re-arrange the office, out for the day, electrician visiting, no one here, running a food bank … a few of the excuses given.

I would receive a message suggesting a date and time, to be followed a short time later by another message either contradicting or cancelling.

Contrary to their stated claim on facebook, they do not respond promptly, often not at all.

To say the least, very exasperating.

One place that had expressed an interest in their coffee, went elsewhere. Another did contact them, for reasons I cannot recall, decided not to pursue.

I was becoming more and more exasperated. I was having grave reservations recommending to anyone when they demonstrated this level of unreliability, and expressed my reservation to those to who I had recommended as a source of coffee.

Had I visited, I would have advised they had to get their act together, as I could no longer recommend them to anyone, from what I had observed.

Finally, getting absolutely nowhere after many frustrating weeks of banging my head against a brick wall, I sent them a message, explaining their level of unreliability was not acceptable, and I could no longer recommend them to anyone, especially as there is no shortage of excellent coffee roasters who I could recommend.

The next morning an unbelievable rant, which simply reinforced my initial reservations were well placed.

Well I’m sorry you feel this way.

I can’t say I’m surprised at your outburst, when reading your blog posts it strikes me that you only have negative and unhelpful criticisms I make of people trying very hard to make a living in a very busy and competitive industry.

Whether or not you like how I run my business is no concern of mine, we are just different people who do things differently. But put bluntly I don’t actually care what you think.

As for all the reasons you sited for not be able to visit us. If we are not in then that’s your problem, we’re not a cafe or a drop in centre. Wimbledon was because we had a meeting with a commercial customer. Rearranging the office was to accommodate new equipment. Electrician was for the new equipment, we couldn’t have been able to put the kettle on let alone show you our roaster. And if we want to cancel a meeting at any time WE WILL!

Thanks for suggesting us to other cafes but you did do that off your own back, we didn’t ask you to do that for us, we’re perfectly capable of generating our own business opportunities.

As for reliability, at least you can rely on us to be unreliable.

I can’t say I’m surprised at your outburst, when reading your blog posts it strikes me that you only have negative and unhelpful criticisms I make of people trying very hard to make a living in a very busy and competitive industry.

I made no outburst, I simply pointed out the unprofessional way they were conducting business, that I had never before experienced this level of unreliability. That I could no longer recommend them. In response, an unbelievable childish rant.

Maybe the tweets of Donald Trump have become the new norm.

The rant shows a lack of understanding of the blog, a lack of understanding of the coffee business.

Blog is the good, the bad and the ugly, it is not a bullshit PR exercise.

At top level, coffee is not highly competitive, people cooperate. At least that has been my experience. People go out of their way to help others in the coffee business. And with direct trade it relies on openness, transparency, trust , cooperation and long-term partnerships.

James Hoffman, co-founder of Square Mile, world barista champion and author of The World Atlas of Coffee, recently wrote a blog post on cooperation. If we look at the history of speciality coffee in London, it is a story of cooperation. I see this cooperation all the time.

Recently an indie food store sought my advice on coffee. I recommended Union. A few weeks later I was thanked. My more recent advice, talk to the recently opened indie coffee shop. They have regular guest coffee. Stock the guest coffee. Send people to the coffee shop to taste, the coffee shop in turn can send to the indie food shop to buy the beans.

In Brighton, an indie food shop, I suggested to them source their beans from a local indie coffee shop that also roasts their own beans.

Everyone benefits from cooperation. What harms is naked aggressive competition, dog-eats-dog mentality.

Where there is competition, and it is friendly competition, it is a pride in the art of making good coffee, always striving for the best, and helping others to achieve the best.

Many at the top level have personally expressed their thanks for help and support.

If the author of the rant is struggling, all too easy to see why.

So much negativity.

Whether or not you like how I run my business is no concern of mine, we are just different people who do things differently. But put bluntly I don’t actually care what you think.

How people run their business is of no concern of mine, if run badly, as is the case here, then doomed to failure.

Only of concern if I suffer as a customer or investor, and in this case I am neither.

Maybe wise to heed advice, even if not liked.

As for all the reasons you sited for not be able to visit us. If we are not in then that’s your problem, we’re not a cafe or a drop in centre.

At no time have I simply dropped in, though with most people I do, I have tried to arrange a mutually coneveninet time, which was at their invitation. Nor have I treated as a drop in centre or cafe. Maybe they thought I was dropping by for a free coffee,  when I was actually bringing some very expensive coffee for them to try

But if not available, that is someone else problem, if they keep changing, cancelling, do not bother to reply.

And if we want to cancel a meeting at any time WE WILL!

Says it all really.

Thanks for suggesting us to other cafes but you did do that off your own back, we didn’t ask you to do that for us, we’re perfectly capable of generating our own business opportunities.

During me first visit, I said I would talk to people I knew.

As for ‘perfectly capable of generating our own business opportunities’ when I suggested I could talk to people I knew, they said they had never supplied any business with coffee. And with only a 1kg roaster it would not even have been practical.

And being ‘perfectly capable of generating our own business opportunities’ with this level of unreliability, this attitude, I somehow doubt.

As for reliability, at least you can rely on us to be unreliable.

My original reservations spelled out, they can be relied upon to be unreliable.

Not a good business proposition in what they describe as a highly competitive business.

Who wishes to be supplied by a business that can be relied upon to be unreliable?

It would be of no use to a coffee shop, cannot rely upon the roastery to supply an order on time, if at all.

They claim

We’re a voice of justice for the poor, ending poverty through compassion in sustainable communities, bringing the message of the gospel to a new generation.

Our journey with coffee began a few years ago when we had a vision of meeting with people in a relational way over a cup of coffee … a vehicle for spreading our message of compassion so that we can reach more people in a new way. We take all steps necessary to ensure that the green coffee beans are sourced ethically and that the farmer receives a fair price for the crop. Each bag we send out is individually roasted by us, for you! This allows us to ensure the quality of every bag of coffee and to maintain the freshness we would expect from a craft coffee.

Coffee is something that we are passionate about and we recognize that it has the potential to break the cycle of poverty in the lives of those we work with. 100% of the profits from every bag sold goes back into the projects … supports.

With such concern for poverty and compassion, not evident in the rant, why are they supporting Israel that is carrying out ethnic cleansing of Palestinains, maintaining Gaza Strip as one large open air prison camp, where the people are in dire poverty, where in the West Bank, apart from illegal occupation of Palestinian land, farmers see their olive groves destroyed by illegal settlers?

Apart from being a business, they are also a charity.

The charity trustees should be very concerned.

Also questionable, are they interested in helping poor coffee growers, or is it a front for religious fundamentalists to peddle their message to poor struggling farmers?

Religious fundamentalists and compassion tends to be an oxymoron.

I have intentionally not stated who they are, though many may correctly surmise, I have not stated as they seem more than capable of destroying their own business, without my giving a helping hand.

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Why buy coffee from a supermarket?

July 24, 2017

The furore created by the decision of Sainsbury’s to ditch FairTrade has raised two separate but interrelated questions. Why FairTrade, why buy coffee from a supermarket? Which leads to another, are there not superior alternatives?

Since the furore arose I have checked out the shelves of three UK supermarkets, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, and for comparison a little indie food shop Food for Thought.

Asda and Sainsbury’s were stacked with rubbish undrinkable brand coffee. Only a small section with what could remotely be called quality coffee.

In Waitrose, half the shelf space stocked with an attempt at quality, the other half rubbish brand coffee. If nothing else, exposing the lie Waitrose shoppers have good taste.

One of the criticisms of Sainsbury’s pulling out of FairTrade, was that in Waitrose will find FairTrade.

I did not, maybe I should have looked harder.

I did though find coffee from Union Hand-Roasted Coffee. Quality coffee, not FairTrade but direct trade. It was the only coffee with a roast date, old coffee, past its best.

FairTrade is little more than a brand to make buyers feel good, they have done their bit by picking up a bag of FairTrade coffee.

Coffee is traded on international commodity markets, Arabica in New York, Robusta in London. It has no intrinsic value, it is a commodity to speculate on. Unfortunately the price speculators will gamble on, impacts on the livelihoods of coffee growers, as everything is pegged to that price.

Coffee roasters in search of quality coffee, speciality coffee, will pay for quality, the higher the quality the higher the price. There is an incentive to produce higher quality as a higher price will be paid. FairTrade offers no incentive for quality, it locks farmers into poverty dependent upon handouts.

Coffee roasters want quality, not only this year but next year, the year after. They will enter into long-term agreements with farmers, partnerships, help them improve quality, adopt better agricultural practices that improve the soil fertility, safeguard forests.

Kew Gardens have been mapping forests in Ethiopia to establish the impact of climate change and what mitigation measures to take. To safeguard the forest, which is an important genetic resource for coffee as contains many wild coffee trees, the forest has to have value. The forest has value by Union paying a higher price for the coffee, not only paying a higher price, working with the farmers to help them improve the quality, establishing a cupping lab in order that the farmers themselves can assess the quality of their coffee.

Another example is the Los Nogales Project on an estate in El Salvador owned by the Salaverria family. One estate, three farms, different varieties, different plots, different processing of the beans. Taylor St Roasted and Horsham Coffee Roast are sourcing from Los Nogales Project.

Square Mile has a similar project, though not as ambitious. Short Stories, same varieties of beans, grown at different altitudes.

Indie coffee shops want quality coffee, as that is what their customers are demanding. This feeds back to higher prices for coffee.

If you want quality coffee, coffee that is freshly roasted, then buy the bags of coffee from the coffee shop, or failing that, little shops that specialise in quality, or direct from the roasters.

If you want to support growers, drink quality coffee, why are you buying from a supermarket?

Little shops like Grocer and GrainThe Deli at 80, Food for Thought, have quality coffee in stock, as does the slightly larger Infinity Foods.

Indie coffee shops that are brewing quality coffee, will often have coffee for sale, often they roast their own.

Failing that, there are many quality coffee roasters, Has BeanUnionSquare Mile, Taylor St Roasted, Horsham Coffee RoasterThe Roasting PartyKaruna Coffee, to name but a few.

The furore relating to Sainsbury’s pulling out of FairTrade should be turned around, why are people buying coffee from Sainsbury’s, when if you like coffee, want to support growers, you should be supporting the coffee trade by supporting the local indie coffee shop, the little shop stocking quality coffee or buying direct from the coffee roasters who engage in direct trade. In doing so you are not only supporting the coffee growers with higher prices, you are also supporting the local economy.

FairPay cards in action in Heraklion

March 20, 2017

When Greece was being screwed by the ECB I suggested creating a parallel crypto-currency, an alternative currency for Greece. Why, because it was not possible to leave the euro, a major logistics problem.

In Prague, last year, I saw parallel currencies in action, they use both Czech crown and the euro, therefore my idea for a parallel currency for Greece, part of Plan C, a transition to a commons based economy, was both practical and feasible.

Medium is looking to charge for reading articles. Medium, though not intended as, functions as a collaborative commons. To charge, would be a retrograde step, a classic case of enclosure of the commons. I have suggested to founder Ev Williams, that convert to an open coop, open source platform, do not charge for articles, all articles remain free to read, but have an option, where if readers wish they may pay for an article, and use faircoin.

Deliveroo, is an exploitative platform, serfs working for an app at often less than the minimum wage, replace with Deliver2U, an open source open coop platform, payment using faircoin and fairpay card.

Unicorns are mythical companies valued at over a billion dollars. Mythical because in reality worthless. Such has been the excesses of Uber, it has been proposed zebras, but these are business as usual, simply a little cosmetic tweaking to make it look good. When I had the audacity to suggest this, exposing the Emperor has no Clothes, a lot of stick over the weekend. What did not go down, was my suggestion, we are postcapitalism, the future open coops, open source platforms, local currencies, faircoin and fairpay card.

In Protaras, a little coffee shop Miyu Coffee and fashion boutique Nia Boutique overlooking Fig Tree Bay. Protaras is dying, Fig Tree Bay end dead, killed by all-inclusive hotels, no money flowing into the local economy. We explored the possibility, or at least tossed around the idea, why not establish a weekly mid-week market, a mix of flea market, farmers market and craft market to revitalise the area and retain and circulate money within the local economy.

Therefore to see in Heraklion this very idea up and running, and not only that but to see faircoin and fairpay card being used is excellent news.

On Saturday, 18th of March 2017, we hopefully reached to the 6th Autonomous Street Market, which are regularly organized by the Integral Cooperative of Heraklion (I.C.Her) at Georgiadi’s park. A project that is constantly strengthened and has come to serve some basic needs of those who actively show that they want and intend to disengage from the competitive and alienating market. Step by step, we cover more and more categories of products and services that are offered through our alternative currencies, Kouki and FairCoin.

The only problem I see with faircoin, is how to transfer from say euros to faircoin. To have to buy bitcoin from an exchange then use the bitcoin to buy faircoin is too cumbersome.

If fairpay cards are easily available, local nodes where they can be ‘charged’ with euros or faircoin, it will be a lot more viable.

More details are needed on how the market in Heraklion are managing these issues.

Re-posted from Light on a Dark Mountain.

Greek crisis is the canary in the mine

March 11, 2017

Last year the Greek economy suffered a further blow, contracting by 1.2% at the end of 2016, according to revised figures released earlier this week. The figures, published by the Greek statistics agency Elstat show it was the worst quarter since the summer of 2015, when the European Central Bank closed the Greek banks.

The medicine imposed by the EU is killing the patient, not that there was ever any intention of helping the patient to recover.

Capitalism is an adaptive system, or was, 50 year long Kondratieff cycles, each new cycle driven by technological innovation. This came to an abrupt end in 2008. We are now post-capitalism.

2008 a banking crisis, morphed into an economic crisis, into a social and political crisis, and now a geo-political crisis.

2009 the German banks were bankrupt, their ‘assets’ worthless dodgy US financial instrument. They were bailed out by the German taxpayer.

2010 the German banks were in trouble again, back with their begging bowls, the Greek state was bankrupt, could not service their debt, technically the German banks were insolvent. The German taxpayer would not stomach a second bail out of the German banks. A clever ploy, biggest ever loan to a bankrupt state, the money flows to Greece straight back out to French and German banks. Classic extend and pretend. And a bonus, control the Greek state, plunder the Greek state, force sell off of state assets at knockdown prices. The result, Greek economy shrank by 25%. To put that in context, Great Depression following the Wall Street Crash economies shrank by 20%.

2015 Syriza won a landslide victory, with a mandate to challenge the EU.

What we saw in Greece, was not ‘conventional Left politics’, this was a radical, progressive moment with popular support. Greeks were saying, enough is enough.

Most intelligent observers recognise, the EU is close to collapse. It is a rigid hierarchical system.  Such systems lack the ability to adapt, they are brittle and cannot survive shocks.

The banking crash of 2008 was one such shock. The election of Syriza was another shock. The example being set by Syriza could not be allowed to spread, the contagion had to be contained.

The mechanism used to destroy  the Greek banks and destroy the Greek government was the ECB.  The role of a Central Bank when banks are in trouble is to help support the banks, ECB did the exact opposite.

But was the closure process legal and within the ECB’s charter and mandate?

ECB President Mario Draghi wasn’t sure; Draghi commissioned an independent legal opinion on this issue.

Fabio De Masi, a German Die Linke MEP, asked for a copy of this legal opinion. He was denied a copy.

When money flowed into Greece, then back out to bail out German and French banks, why were EU citizens not told what was happening?  Instead they were led to believe that hard working Germans were subsidising lazy Greeks.

Greece was bankrupt. The existing debts should have been written off, or at the very least restructured. Instead, more money was loaned to enable the Greeks to continue to service their debts.

ECB is a Central Bank without a government. Countries within the eurozone are countries without a central bank. The eurogroup lacks any legitimacy, legally and a constitutionally it does not exist.

ECB used its powers to interfere directly in the democratic process of a country.

Yanis Varoufakis  and Fabio De Masi MEP have launched a public campaign demanding the immediate release of what they are calling The Greek Papers.

Greece is the canary in the mine, symptomatic of a wider problem within the EU and the eurozone.

As it celebrates the signing of the Rome treaty, EU has proposed changes but it is merely a watered down version of business as usual

EU is not Europe.

We should be planning now for the collapse of the EU to be replaced by a network of cooperating democratic countries.

At local level, as we have seen in Spain, Madrid, Barcelona and A Coruña, ordinary citizens seizing control of their local Town Halls, opening to public participation, then networking with other citizen controlled Town Halls.

We need across Europe a Green New Deal.

At local level, establishment of open coops, support for small businesses, collaborative commons.

We need faircoin and fairpay card as cooperative digital alternatives to the euro, at local level, local currencies.

In Foundation, first book of the Foundation trilogy,  the Galactic Empire is collapsing. A group of citizens establish at opposite ends of the galaxy, two foundations. They do so in the knowledge that the Empire will collapse, but by preserving what is known, they will greatly reduce the period of instability.

That is the situation we now find ourselves in Europe. 2008 could be our 1929, when Europe descended into Fascism and chaos.

We are already seeing the end, the rise in Fascism, the chaos.

We must work now to plan for the future, otherwise our 2008 will be 1929.

Please support Yanis VaroufakisFabio De Masi and DiEM25 in their call for the release of The Greek Papers. Please support their request to release these critical documents by signing the petition calling for the release of #The GreekFiles.

Ruddock’s to close after 163 years in business

March 4, 2017

Ruddock’s and Stokes on High Bridge are permanent features of Lincoln High Street.

Ruddock’s, a printer and a shop, the shop a bookshop, stationary, art supplies, upmarket pens, located in the top half of the High Street in Lincoln.

Or was, the printing business is to remain, the shop is to close.

Ruddock’s is to close after 163 years in business. A family business, the plan is to close in April 2017, 113 years in the present location, prior to that a little further up the High Street.

Henry Ruddock blames the lack of parking.

That is not the problem, the High Street is busy, there is footfall on the street, the problem is people are not passing through the door into the store.

I am sorry to see Ruddock’s close, but sadly not surprised, it lost its way years ago.

Lack of car parking in the town centre is simply an excuse. Yes, there is a problem of traffic congestion, solve that by improving public transport.

I see a High Street packed, but I see Ruddock’s empty.

But I would agree most of the developments within the city centre have been to the detriment of the town centre. For example the ugly high rise buildings, destruction of Sincil Street and the market, allowing motorised traffic through a pedestrianised city centre.

Ruddock’s used to be an excellent bookshop. Ruddock’s lost their way when they stopped selling books, though difficult to compete with on-line and Waterstone’s selling cut price best sellers, deals that are not offered to indie bookshops. Walk in now, and it is newspapers, magazines and rubbish.

Though first floor is a specialist art supplier.

Henry’s tea shop upstairs, is nicely done out, has atmosphere, but the coffee when I tried was not good. These days if open a coffee shop, ok it is a tea shop, you have to employ top class baristas and take a pride in the coffee you serve, not leave it to someone who makes the sandwiches. And how many passing by know there is a tea shop upstairs?

The tea shop will remain open or for the time being, but it is difficult to see how this will work if the shop is to close.

The tea shop is also placed at a competitive disadvantage when Starbucks and Caffè Nero dodge tax.

Ruddock’s also sells high quality pens, and I do not mean trendy rubbish Ted Baker as they promoted on twitter.

Montegrappa The Alchemist

Montegrappa The Alchemist

One of the rare shops I have found selling Montegrappa pens though not their top range, for example The Alchemist pen.

Lincoln will now have lost all its indie bookshops, or soon will have.

Readers Rest closed a couple of years ago. A great loss, and still missed.

Harlequin is going, driven out of business by a greedy landlord hiking the rent.

BookStop Cafe remains, local authors and second hand books, located in an undercroft beneath a Norman building with stunning view down Steep Hill.

Business rate hike is going to kill off many more indie businesses.

Development of Sincil Street has done an excellent job of driving out indie businesses. The street is now derelict. It used to be between ten in the morning and four in the afternoon busier than the High Street.

What is left? The same boring chains as seen in every town.

And where we do see indie coffee shops like Coffee Aroma, harassment from the County Council for leaving their tables and chairs outside in a pedestrianised area.

Yet what we see sadly is not only Lincoln, planners who care not for the local town, lack vision, lack understanding of town centre planning, and too often in the pocket of greedy developers.

When I attend a planning meeting and find a planner arguing on behalf of a greedy developer, dismissing any local objections, often quite well founded local objections, blatantly lying on the presentation, then I know something stinks.

And we only have to look at the results.

That is why time and time again, when English visit small towns across Europe, and still find the butcher, baker and indie bookshops, the historic centre free of traffic and unspoilt, they ask, why is my town not like this?

Libreria Palazzo Roberti

Libreria Palazzo Roberti

In Bassano del Grappa, a small town north of Venice nestling in the foothills of the Alps, we find traffic free streets, little shops, three indie bookshops, one of which is in a former palace where Napoleon once stayed.

Lincoln City Council, shedding crocodile tears, wringing of hands, not us guv.

Of course they are at fault, they are the planning authority hand in hand with Lincolnshire who are the Highways authority.

A classic case study in bad town centre planning.

And then have the gall to blame Lincoln for being a historic town. That is its attraction, there is nothing else of attraction. Or do they think people visit to admire the ugly buildings, to shop in the same shops as found elsewhere?

I fully back Henry Ruddock in his damning critique of the City Council.

Lincoln would make a case study in unimaginative, bad town centre planning.

Where I would disagree, is in the comments on car parking.

In the last decade or more we have seen ugly high rise buildings, each one uglier than the other.

Brayford is an eyesore.

This was an area of old warehouses and mills. This area could have been restored, to create an attractive and vibrant atmosphere, ground floor indie coffee shops and other indie businesses, first floor small businesses, design studios, hi-tech, top floors living accommodation.

Look to Bristol for an example.

A couple of years ago Sincil Street was thriving, between ten in the morning and four in the morning, it was busier than the High Street.

Now it has been blighted by development and sky high rents. And if look at the hoardings, more High Street chains, where once we had indie businesses.

Look to North Laine in Brighton, three streets each longer than Sincil Street, associated side streets, always busy, not a single chain, all indie businesses.

We see harassment of Coffee Aroma for leaving their tables and chairs outside, rather than deal with the real issue of stopping traffic through a pedestrianised area and delivering by handcart and trolley, as the norm in Europe.

Uber drivers unable to communicate in English

March 4, 2017
taxi protest Whitehall

taxi protest Whitehall

Drivers being able to speak English and understand information from passengers and licensing requirements is a vital part of ensuring passengers get the high standard of service they need and deserve. — Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

It beggars belief, Uber went to Court in London to challenge that their drivers had to be competent in English.

“TfL are entitled to require private hire drivers to demonstrate English language compliance,” said Judge John Mitting as he rejected Uber’s claim.

It demonstrates once again that Uber is a rogue company, with very low standards.

Well done Sadiq Khan Mayor of London and TfL for establishing that Uber drivers have to have this minimum standard, of being able to communicate in English.

Now please take the next step, if Uber are operating a taxi service, then regulate as  a taxi service.

Uber are engaging in unfair competition with their unregulated drivers. That is why their fares are cheaper than a regulated London taxi, the traditional black cab, not because they have some technological advantage through booking a taxi through an app.

If I were to hail a taxi in London, I would expect at the very least, a local driver who knew London and who could communicate in English.

Uber claim it is discrimination against foreigners.

Who are these foreigners, who are working as serfs for Uber?

How did they get into the country if they cannot communicate in English?

Are they illegal immigrants?

Immigration should be checking on the status of all Uber drivers.

It also begs the question, if they cannot communicate in English, how did they obtain a  driving licence? Do they have a driving licence? Did they use a common scam, someone else took took the driving test on their behalf.

The Police should check on all Uber drivers.

Earlier in the week, boss of Uber was caught on camera abusing one of his drivers.

Earlier this month, Uber were caught refusing to pick up a blind man and his guide dog.

The month before, we learnt of a culture of bullying and sexual harassment of Uber employees.

The latest scandal to hit Uber, they are using hidden software to hide from regulators.

Uber is exploitation, serfs working for an app.

All of which are grounds to delete Uber, divest from Uber.

When will the Uber bubble burst?

Sweatshop fast fashion Made in Leicester

January 23, 2017

We don’t get paid much for our clothes, and we need to compete with China and Bangladesh… If we pay everyone £10 or £6 then we will make a loss. — Fashion Square Ltd

Shocking report this evening on Channel Four DispatchesUndercover: Britain’s Cheap Clotheson fast fashion sourced by leading brand names from sweatshops in Leicester – New Look, River island, Boohoo and Missguided – workers paid less than half the minimum wage.

The usual response, we did not know, if we had known we would have dealt with it.

When fast fashion forces down the price it pays, when a factory owner says he cannot produce at the price unless he pays his workers only £3 an hour, then of course these brands are culpable.

In one of the sweatshops, supplying Boohoo and Missguided, it was a potential death trap.

The brands rake in vast profits on the back of exploited workers.

The people who buy into fast fashion, wear once then throw away, are also culpable.

In addition to exploiting workers, it is damaging the environment.

It does not have to be, instead of fast fashion, zombies buying into the latest fad, we can have slow fashion, quality, sustainable production, minimum impact, ethical, paying producers and workers a fair price, clothes we value.

Though you will look long and hard to find fashion shops that support slow fashion, other  than simply pay lip service.

Two that spring to mind, The Fair Shop and Nia Boutique.

The Fair Shop

The Fair Shop

The Fair Shop in Brighton, on the road leading down to the seafront from Brighton Station. Not the best location, a better location would be in North Laine.

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Nia Boutique

Nia Boutique in Protaras in Cyprus overlooks Fig Tree Bay. A boutique in the open air, with clothes hanging from the trees, in the style would find on a Greek island. Sophia can be found hidden somewhere. It is next to Myu Coffee, one of the rare places where can obtain a half-decent coffee in Cyprus.

A New Economy

January 4, 2017

What if working together for the good of all was the most common business model? Watch, as several organisations strive towards building a more cooperative future. By putting humanity before the bottom line, they are finding their place in an economy previously dominated by profits and big business.

Why not make available for streaming on vimeo for a nominal fee?
 
As for example 13 Shades of Romanian.
 
Why not make freely available, as Sita Sings the Blues, if show, send money following.
 
Practice what you preach.
 
A film about coops, has to set an example

Falling price of information goods

January 2, 2017

Information, if allowed, flows freely.

Classic Marxist theory, cost consists of capital, land and labour.

We now have a fourth factor, information.

Karl Marx wrote of machines whose cost was zero, that never wear out.

Information does not wear out, costs nothing to reproduce.

Feel free to listen to The Way of the Bow, share with your friends, download.

Digital music costs nothing to reproduce, e-books cost nothing to reproduce. If I listen to digital music, it does not wear out when I listen, I can share with my friends. An e-book does not wear out when I read, I can share with my friends.

I can of course share a book with my friends, but were I to, I cannot read it, it costs something to cut down the trees, make the paper, print, to distribute,  to shelve, to retail. If I share it, for example pass on through BookCrossing, the more often shared and read the more dogeared it will become. One reason why I prefer to give books away rather than share.

The price of information goods tends to zero. If you are being charged more than a pound a dollar or a euro for an e-book, you are being ripped off.

The only thing that maintains the price of a song on iTunes is the near monopoly Apple exerts.

We see this with the price of iPhones, the price maintained by near monopoly and Draconian intellectual property rights, thus Apple maintains a high profit margin, even when its share of the market falls. Helped of course by tax dodging, low wage workers at Foxconn in China and the massive subsidies from the Chinese government.

Compare the cost of an iPhone with a  phone from One Plus, eg One Plus One, One Plus Two, One Plus Three, One Plus 3T.

On leanpub and bandcamp, artists set a minimum price, sometimes zero. Those who choose to pay for a download, can pay more. Often they pay much more than the asking price.

Most jobs could be replaced by robots, were it not for the creation of what David Graeber calls bullshit jobs. The car wash replaced by half a dozen migrants with dirty rags and a bucket of water.

Below a series of charts and a video that illustrate price of information goods falling.

Paul Mason discussing PostCapitalism

December 20, 2016

Что будет после капитализма?  — Paul Mason

What will come after capitalism? — Paul Mason

The ideal machine is one that costs nothing and lasts forever. — Karl Marx

Capitalism is an adaptive system, 50 year cycles, technological innovation commencing the next cycle.

How can we today, have technological innovation and no growth? Due to the unique behaviour of information and information goods.

With information goods, we should have abundance, instead we have artificial scarcity.

Since late 1970s, wages in US have flat-lined. Post-WWII, productivity and wages increased in step. Post-1980s they have diverged, productivity has increased, wages have not. A transfer of wealth from wage earners to owners of capital.

Who is to buy the output of increased productivity? If wages do not rise, it is financed by growing debt.

$57 trillion added to global debt since collapse of Lehman Brothers.

When the dotcom com bubble burst in 2001 global debt was 200% of GDP. Debt is now 300% of GDP.

If there is an over supply of something, its price falls. Cost of money has fallen. Interest rates have fallen. 12 trillion dollars of money worldwide now attracts negative interest rate.

When we speak of free money, we mean the money is free, ie no interest paid.

Classic Marxism, cost is the sum of land, money and labour. We now have  a fourth factor, information.

Information freely flows, information products can be reproduced infinitely at near zero cost, information does not wear out.

Information cost nothing to reproduce, does not wear out. A digital book does not wear out when I read it, I can run off copies for my friends. The same applies to digital music. It does not wear out no matter how many times I listen, I can run off many copies to my friends, I can share via the internet.

Feel free to listen to The Way of the Bow, share with your friends, download.

Information naturally flows, all that stops it flowing is Draconian intellectual property legalisation. This is not a freely functioning market, this is near monopolies using the law to control the market.

As we saw with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Draconian control ultimately fails.

Free flow of information encourages innovation.

With information products, the price tends to zero.

99p a song on iTunes. On Spotify a pittance.

Would have to sell 1500 songs on iTunes to earn minimum wage. On Spotify 1.2 million plays.

How then do we reward the creator?

On leanpub and bandcamp, artists set a minimum price. Those who choose to pay for a download, can pay more.

It is not only information goods where the price is falling to zero, also physical goods with a  high information contents. Or it would if we had a functioning market.

It is only monopolies or near monopolies, bought and paid for naked political power, that maintains the price.

Contrast the price of high performance smart phones, One Plus One, One Plus Two, One Plus Three, One Plus 3T, with equivalent phones from Samsung or Apple.

Nearly half of all jobs will be replaced by robots and automation. Many of the remaining jobs, low paid, temporary, zero hours.

We have the creation of what David Graeber calls bullshit jobs. Half a dozen immigants with dirty rags and a bucket of water replace an automatic car wash.

Peter Thiel represents all that is wrong with Silicon Valley. Serfs working for apps, transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich.  No surprise he backs Donald Trump and is on his advisory panel.

Donald Trump has well documented links with the gangster capitalism Vladimir Putin heads.

When government shrinks, social spending cut, what rises is spending on surveillance, from which Silicon Valley will benefit.

Peter Thiel is reminiscent of the German industrialists who backed Adolf Hitler.

Capitalism ended in 2008. It has lost its ability to adapt.

A banking crisis led to an economic crisis, to a social crisis and now a global geo-political crisis.

TTIP is dead, CETA and TPP in final death throws.

The Soviet Union collapsed overnight. In 2017 we are likely to see the collapse of the EU. Brexit is now a side show. Italy is poised to hold a referendum on leaving the EU.

In Greece it was thought there may be a coup by the military. Democracy was destroyed by the EU.

Across the world there is now a grass roots reaction to neo-liberalism, which has led to a fall in living standards, transfer of wealth from poor to the rich, environmental destruction, global warming.

It is on the fringes we see collapse of Empire.

Blockadia represents the front line, often resembling a  war zone.

What are we do to do as capitalism collapses?

A  neo-Feudal system, oligarchs, politicians like Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, the rest of society reduced to serfs?

Or a cooperative system, contribution to the sharing and collaborative commons?