Friday, 9 July 2010

Reward -Dead or Alive - $5 million.

First let me say the core content of this post has been extracted from Micheal Moores film CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY.

I would recommend its viewing.

According to the film several major American corporations have developed an entrepreneurial approach towards the values they place on their employees well being.

From memory these include, but probably are not limited to, around ten of America's biggest employers - Bank of America, Wall Mart, Proctor & Gamble etc. Seemingly, with thousands of employees, some management nerd in either the corporations or the insurance industry unearthed the statistics that some of those thousands would suffer premature deaths every year through natural or unnatural causes.

The film gives two examples.

The first is of a middle management husband and father who died of cancer in his late thirties. Shortly after his death, his wife received a cheque from a policy she knew nothing about for circa $1.5 million. The insurers had made a mistake in sending the cheque to her instead of his employers the Bank of America.

She, nor her children were not beneficiaries.

Subsequently, her representative found out the Bank had another policy out on her late husband which covered them for another $3.5 million. in effect her husbands death benefited the Bank by $5 million; she got none?

The second example was a young mother who worked as a pastry decorator in Wall Mart.
She died in her early thirties of asthma. Her husband and family had medical bills around $100k plus a $6k funeral bill to meet. Wall Mart had her covered for an amount that would have covered most of that but Wall Mart believe that charity begins and ends at Head Office.

Neither of the people referred to in these examples could be considered key executives of the corporations they worked for. As a middle administrator or a decorator of cakes the tragedy of their early deaths could not impose massive costs on their employers in filling the gaps they left in the corporate structure. This assumption would seem to be confirmed by less than pleasant name these policies are known under - Dead Peasant Policies - which makes the accusation of venality all the more tenable.

In fact for employees of American corporations it should raise doubts as to whether the cavalier attitude of corporate America towards health care is, to a large extent, down the diabolical practices such as these, when, to the balance sheet, their worth is more dead than alive?

In Britain it is supposedly illegal for a policy to be issued which gives an individual with no direct relationship connections a vested interest in the life, well being and property of another. Well and good, but does that apply to the corporates where the deals can be done globally from the inner temples of high finance?

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Mr & Mrs Clucking Tosspots Part 4

So why do placebos work for Tosspots and not for dogs?

Is it the price we pay, the downside of having a conscience, imagination, the alleged superiority of our intelligence that feeds us with desires, ambitions, that fuel our dreams and fire our fears. If it is, and this is the yolk evolution has placed upon us, isn't it time we got a proper handle on it, valued it and evaluated our responses and responsibilities towards it. Or should we leave it to the prescriptions of the Tosspots with their placebos and snake-oil alchemy's to control our future; perhaps even define our destiny and decide our existence. Do we have that luxury; and if we believe we do, is it one we can afford? Perhaps to be more blunt, what efficacy can we expect from a sticking plaster covering a malignant tumour?

So, who are these Tosspots; well we are in varying degrees writ large, but some have very large writs and substantially more aspire towards having large writs. While at the other end of the scale a substantial amount suspend the right to be included in the writ while the majority, covering maudlin through mediocrity to genius suspend their responsibility to question the right for the writ to exist.

Here is how it works.

Early in the 20th century the plutocrats realised the huge marketing potential the emerging advancements in technology would bring them. The first quarter of the century for the industrial world placed the emphasis on building the industries and products needed to meet the existing demands created by the new products and technologies. But once that demand was met a balance had to be found between production, advances in technology and markets in order to maintain profits. This proved difficult to do given the restraints of reality and led to the depression.

Some of the plutocrats went to the wall while others clung on in their industries, but the really clever ones saw that the real problem was the restraints, limitations and obligations reality placed upon them. They decided to manufacture a virtual world where wealth and its concomitant power could be controlled and enhanced with minimal risks, responsibilities (social and moral) and where their involvement gave the facade of solidity to their buccaneering make believe. Now these guy's are not fools. They are the ultimate in pragmatism. They'll compete to win and shed blood doing it -others preferably but their own if need be. They are guileful in the use of patience, relentless in their application and remorseless when they strike. They didn't want celebrity or plaudits, in fact the opposite. Preferring the role of kingmaker to those who wore or claim the crowns either sovereign, political or corporate. Their reasoning was simple, it was far better to loan the money to the person who paid the piper than to take the chance and commitment on being identifiable as the one who called the wrong tune. But first they had to give the mirage of substance to their virtual world and for that they invested in the art of advertising and the media. They had just begun to refine the potential developments this would have on their virtual world when a mad Austrian presented them with the gift of the century.

War to them was a win - win situation with infinite potentials far outweighing risk. Didn't matter who won or lost in Europe. The profits of the winners would cover the initial losses of the losers then reconstruction would invert the winners and losers. Russia had always been too risky and now was a closed shop so of little relevance to the emerging virtual market. And even with Japan poking its far eastern nose into the conflict it was inconceivable that America would end up on the losing side, either strategically or financially. And the Joe's, Jocks and Jeans of all nations who risked their blood and guts and who survived would return to claim their share and be ripe for the good life virtual or otherwise. War made rubble of any of the old parameters. War left America with 8% of the world population and 56% of its wealth. Of course it wasn't America as a nation which held the wealth. It had some but that wasn't spread throughout its 8% population. Perhaps around a tenth of that held a share, but the bulk of the wealth was held by a number of plutocrats who percentage wise put more noughts before the dot to have any statistical populace relevance. Now they could ratchet up their virtual world of media,marketing and gullible consumption up a gear and start sliding in the cogs that will eventually allow them to control the governing of nations.

That was a lot cheaper and potentially more lucrative. Buy a President or Prime Minister and you've hired an administration. Pump prime the media to either cheer or jeer to demand. Stock the legislative committees with aspirational tosspots who give free reign to markets that are free to exploit the majorities they supposedly represent while protecting the profits of the marketeers. While other committees use a euphemism called avoidance instead of fraud based on the mind blowing idiocy that these wizards of commercial and financial alchemy will take their magic balls and leave a nation in penury. No thought is ever given to the fact that probably five double deck buses would probably be enough to transport all of the balls and their appendages to whatever destination they choose; or that for every one who goes there will be ten of their erstwhile colleagues fighting to take their place.

Because Britain clung to the myths of its traditions and in some respects tried to expand the qualities and values of its democratic commitments, it was slow to adopt the critical path of the virtual world being scripted, directed and produced by America. Battling between fatigue and bankruptcy it tried to rebuild its industries from shoestrings of resources on a mountain of debt with plant and machinery that had the gut mashed out of them pounding out war products. Until that is, a Grantham grocers daughter came on the scene and applied for a supporting role in Reagans B rated virtual movie. We were in; we had hitched our waggon to this Western B rated star. Suddenly manufacturing was defunct, coal was crap and construction was a disposable industry unless it serviced the service industries. Purveyors of shitty advertising ditty's lead governments to victory or at least saved therm from defeat. Penitent ex miners and boilermakers donned hairnets and packaged airline meals for packaged holidaymakers. The media spun the news to highlight the fun and the feast of consumption while seductively introducing the victims as losers. The plutocrats loved that. Sure we were only a dubious forth or fifth, possibly sixth in the world league - depending on how you measured it, and we were a long way behind the major players with larger and more aspirational players ready to bounce over us - but we were hungry and to be offered the opportunity to create an industry manipulating a virtual product with lots of gain provided we caused it no pain was the temptation of heroin to an addict. In the 90s two other professional politicians hitched their waggon to the virtual star and confirmed our commitment to the principles of plutocracy. One of them, perhaps confused by the ability of any thing virtual to take substantial shape or form declared he'd exterminated the cycle of Boom & Bust.

The plutocrats laughed and decided to get rid of him. Time for a change, to range up new ranks of Tosspots giving the myth of democracy another airing before the masses might heed the rumbling of their gut and the neurons trying to blast their way through the desperation of their brains with the message that sometimes might is right and it's they in their exploited millions who hold that might.

The choice is yours; unless that is your happy as a Tosspot.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Afghanistan- Sponsorial Serial Killing.

For a nation to create and equip a military force is legitimate for only two purposes; for the defence of that nation or to come to the aid of any other nation governed by a legitimate government which has legitimately requested such aid against an external aggressor.

For a nation to use its military might for any other purpose means it adopts the role of the mercenary, selling it's expertise and the lives of those under its control to the highest bidder.

Civilization like charity begins at home. It's a foundation built on by example, considered, absorbed then leading on to practice. Neither the bullet or the bomb have any place in this process other than to sell its integrity to the profiteers and undermine its legitimate purpose.

Five weeks into governance and Cameron has chosen to adopt the role of War Criminal.

Now, why am I not surprised.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010


On Subrosa's blog 25/04/10, I commented as follows.

"Just remember this - the Westminster stooges have allocated a debt of £1.4 trillion to be serviced by every man woman and child; and probably grandchild of this Island.

The cause was created by the venal greed of banks and money manipulators. And the government, politicians and bureaucrats had neither the wit, capability nor the integrity of due diligence to question or evaluate the potential results.

It floated their boat, allowed them to strut their stuff, and that was enough for them.

Now they want us to forget, forgive and trust them..... Oh yes, and still pick up the tab on the £1.4 trillion?"

Now I claim no particular talent or prescience in the fields of politics or economics, but it seemed pretty obvious one thing that wasn't being addressed by any of the Westminster parties was the real depth of the financial mess were in and what the costs are going to be to get out of it.

Notice, I haven't asked what their going to do about it, we're snowed under with scenarios of promises, but what the costs are going to be?

That, along with the idiocy in Afghanistan were quite simply being ignored.

Today the Institute of Fiscal Studies has highlighted the chasm between the three parties sales spin and the depth of the abyss the parties paper over. Even the IFS studies only partially plumb the depths up to 2015. We have yet to hear the duration or the final costs before this tab is wiped clean.

We are being lied to. Lied to by political parties who have reached an agreement; a joint tactic of veneered information while veering round the issues that really matter, and on which we should be hearing their plans, policies and time-scales to get us out of it - but they're not.

Why not - well given their incompetence in allowing the situation to arise, it surely isn't too harsh a judgement to conclude they haven't got a clue as to how they're going to get us out. In essence all three parties haven't got a strategy and are reduced to using blundering tactics and hoping something will turn up for the best.

Not much of a recommendation to base a choice of government with crises responsibility on? Not very assuring for that job, the new car, moving up the property ladder or even clinging on to the rung you're on?

But Westminster crises is Scotland's opportunity.

The SNP do have a strategy, it's their core value, the centre of gravity for the tactic that spoke out from that core of independence and the lies and denials of the Westminster parties are playing right into the SNPs hands.

Whatever the outcome of the pending Westminster election, you can be sure the cuts and taxes will all be taking their toll by 2011. The spin will be free fall, and the empty rhetoric of the three Tweedle's remembered, just when Scotland goes back to the polls in the election that really matters.

Salmond is a shrewed politician who seems quite relaxed almost avuncular at the moment. I wonder why?

Perhaps a reduced Westminster will be the petard the three Tweedle's are hung from.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Mr & Mrs Clucking Tosspots Part 3

Well! What does that make us?

In every respect the only true answer to that is - Lucky! Lucky to be part of the 'US' that we are and, questioning as we do, our role in our community of US and its relationships and dealings with the other communities of US that populate our world. Fact is we're pretty lucky to have a world where US can exist.

Acknowledgement of that luck should be the humbling factor forming the foundation of our values. The fact that through the galactic roll of the universe dice this small, but pretty amazing planet, should be able to sustain, develop and nurture life as we are beginning to know and understand it. Add to that the part played by the casino of biology where one sperm from millions fertilises an egg from an egg bank developed in a female foetus. Taken together nature has made the fact of our existence Luck beyond the dreams of avarice. The luck nurture gives us has less odds, but smaller prizes.

Nature seems to expend a lot of resources in order to make its randomness and individuality viable; especially in the higher echelons of the species it has developed and up till now, has supported. Our specie, the US; as a relative newcomer to the evolutionary scene has, not unreasonably, regarded itself as the pinnacle of evolution and claimed the role of caretaker, controller and, very recently (in evolutionary terms) is developing the role of exploiter. It could be argued in the contemporary world we're beginning to impose our world on nature. You have to ask whether that's a wise move?

Because, while we may be the top dog to date it would be stupidly arrogant to believe we represent the end of evolution. And criminally arrogant to believe that we as a species have taken more than a few hesitant steps along the path of our own evolutionary process. Our diary of failures we call history shows how little progress we have made. Yet, to date, we are the only specie given the capability to recognise the existence of evolution and, in conjunction with that, to have the freedom to choose how to go about it. This is a choice we rarely consider and a freedom we rarely (or are rarely allowed to use)

Biologically it's generally accepted that all of US human specie have the same body parts. We know now that the heart doesn't break because of unrequited love; that the brain and its mind compose our moods, feelings and imaginings. Imagination on its own can influence the others, but, in everyday use they are a continual mix being added to by experience and knowledge. We know the traits of mood and feeling are pretty well shared with all the vertebrates. Imagination is shown to a limited degree by some but at a fairly primal level. Our imagination seems to have no limits other than the limits we don't yet know about and have failed to imagine. In the past it has dreamt up the concept for us of minor gods related to earth, wind, fire and water; then sub gods for war, love, health and just about every trial and tribulation life threw at us. Then, just as they were beginning to look a bit tacky and gormless, some bright spark imagined the One God - ethereal, omnifarious and omnipotent. This for a while was the answer to everything; until it proved to be the solution to nothing.

As a concept its genius was its supra - generallity and the amount of scope it allowed for the imagination. It couldn't be stained, blaimed or questioned but, and here was the first hairline fissure in its omnipotence - it could be negotiated with provided you used the offices of its proselytes and paid the fees and performed the rituals. Its problem was and still is, any limitation to the imagination is a oxymoron. Every step it yields to knowledge creates the next leap for imagination and in time concepts that have outgrown the usefulness or hinder progress wither on the vine of evolution.

We have one other capability which may be tied in with imagination and its sub-tracks of reason and morality, it may in fact be the engine of morality and the fuel for imagination; the name we have given it is conscience. That is a capability we share with no other specie.

Are these then the concepts, imagination and conscience that are our guide through the pathways of evolution? Because if they are, and this crude analysis has a toe to twirl on, we as a specie are adding another dynamic to the gap we're developing from nature.

The first of these is nature patience and investment in introducing random elements.

We haven't the patience or integrity to fully understand this process. Nature has no conscience. It doesn't need or have the scope for one. It doesn't recognise a single Bee, Horse or Elephant; doesn't recognise a specie or the lack of them, it merely accommodates them. It make no special provisions for us in this regard. Natures integrity is only claimed to be understood by the laws of physics - the laws of physics may change as our understanding grows; the integrity of nature will not change.

The second is natures generosity in allowing for the scope and investment necessary to create our individuality.

In one sense at least this individuality is measured in the capability of our conscience. Yet, in general our interpretation of it is processed in the imagining of positive or negative aspects of this in relation to tribal, community or governing controls where we apply morality. When it's used in the advancement of technology or knowledge it's only in their use that conscience plays a part.

The third is the failure to maximise the role and effect of conscience.

We actively submit our individuality to institutions and systems devoid of conscience. The conscience is the policeman of our imaginings, the judge of our actions and our custodian if we get it wrong. It is a unique and major player in our pathway of evolution. Yet our institutions of all persuasions actively avoid any format for conscience to be promoted within their establishments. There is a reason for this and it centre's round the simple fact that placebo's wont work on dogs.

But they work very well on the Mr & Mrs Clucking Tosspots. They in fact thrive on them.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Mr & Mrs Clucking Tosspots Part 2.

In what way do the Tosspots endanger society?

Well governing a country competently must be the most difficult demanding role any human could be asked to do. To exceed mere competence by innovation and inspiration would require superhuman attributes of spirit, commitment and the courage to aspire and inspire others and the governed to gain the hoped for improvement. Now, for that to have any chance of happening, or for any secular messiah to announce their potential candidacy, it's necessary to suppose that having won the top governance job, he/she will be allowed to implement their innovative policies. But that wouldn't happen, because the oligarchs of global corporates don't want their freedoms challenged, regulated or their profits lessened by responsibility. This is where they advance their legions of Tosspots and their armoury of mediocrity.

To these Oligarch Moguls, mediocrity is fundamental to the control and growth of their empires. In the growth factors they'll demand and use, often in inspirational and courageous manner the shock troops and tactics of spirit. But once the battles won and the shock has settled mediocrity takes on the mantel of control. It's simply cheaper that way; less demanding of their time and less risk to their resources. By itself profit is an important but not the major factor in their considerations. Profit is like the weather; a movable goalpost left to the Tosspot they've placed in charge to either exploit or defend as a goad to the success or failure of the Tosspots career. No, their real interests, the lifeblood of their existence, is the freedom they're allowed to operate their markets and the size of the share they can hold in them.So perhaps we need to analyse what they mean by 'free market', and whether such an animal given the everyday usage and meaning of these words can, in any sensible way, exist or serve a useful purpose of benefit to society.

The Americans have a saying, "there's no such thing as a free lunch". This is true. At whatever level or in any circumstance the provider is looking for some gain from it. Whether its Mr Chairman Tosspot of a public body or trust being feted twice a week to black tie dinners by suppliers of services or materials in one way ot another the cost is eventually going to be charged to his organisation. Bonhomie is an offshoot of bullshit and both appeal to the braincells of Tosspots. So having got rid of any misconception that 'free' relates to no cost; we come to the alternative of 'free' relating to the facility to exploit without restriction. So how does that pan out?

In muscular terms it comes down to dog eats dog. That may be refined down to the position where it may not be the biggest, or the size of the dog in the fight that wins but the size of the fight in the dog. So in effect freedom for these Moguls is the right to carve up our world as much as they can between the lowest viable number of competitors. For it to be ONE appeals to their avarice, but sense tells them it would make the ONE too identifiable, accountable and possibly be held responsible for the failings of society. In truth that is only a restraint held in abeyance at the moment, should circumstances indicate their bastions of Tosspots would manage to retain control it could be reviewed. For example Murdoch's media empire reckon they're one of nine major players world wide. They expect that nine to be refined down to three and they'll be one of the three that have done the refining. Can you imagine the gains of having six media empires to carve up between the three and why the run of the mill administration and profits of their organisations can be left in safety to the mediocre hands of the Tosspots.

Take another example, which you may regard as being more current, the financial meltdown. Mr & Mrs Tosspots all over the world loosing money hand over fist for lesser Tosspots. Banks collapsing, institutions wavering and probity vanishing faster than a moon rocket. You have to think, given the trillions that flash their way round the financial markets daily, that the fall had to be a major setback to the Moguls. Probably it did, but not in the same way or degree that it effected the banks or other sections of the market where money is their core business. The Moguls still had their markets. Sure there may have to be a bit of readjustment, a couple of short falls to patch up. But what they lost in dividends from investments in the banks could be made up and more by the rates of interest earned on the loans to prop them up. And, because the governing Tosspots reacted in their mediocre way to the mediocrity of the banking Tosspots, their gamble on the banks was now covered by the magic fountain of public funds. Now all they have to do is to wait for the Tosspots to nudge the bank shares back up to the levels expected, while the government Tosspots, having raided the savings and resources of their citizens dry, while driving down in the process their expectations to a lower level of acceptable mediocrity. You could say in the case of banking, mediocrity brought its own mediocre reward.

What about global warming, you ask. ( or perhaps you don't? But my ego will let me assume you do.) Surely that must worry them? Perhaps it does, but I would hazard a guess that the worry won't be on apocalyptic qualities that bother us lesser mortals. Their concerns will be restricted to; have they maximised the exploitation and marketing controls and opportunities it presents them. If the forecast turn into fact, all well and good they can expand with the market. Should global warming turn out to be false, so what/ The Tosspots will have paid for most of the costs and will want to save face by retaining the market so they have another win/win situation with only a matter of minor degrees between the income and profit either way. And, just to rub salt into the wounds inflicted by the Tosspots, by the time that commodity becomes a charge on the consumer all the Tosspotting cost will be incorporated in it. With profits added before another brand of European Tosspots add tax to it.

"To them that hath, more shall they have." and true enough the moguls are major employers of Tosspots. But the biggest employer; way ahead of the Moguls, even with the inclusion of the minor moguls and their novitiate Tosspots is US.

Yes, we pay them to use, abuse, discipline, service, tax and govern us. We accept mediocrity as the benchmark of our society. So what does that make us?

Thursday, 25 March 2010

The Mr & Mrs Clucking Tosspots.

I don't know if its the same the world over, but they seem endemic in UK society and particularly rife in positions of authority.

These people have statistics coming out of their ears, can quote them chapter and verse and deduce from the resultant mash the precise constituents of cause and likely effects. Mr & Mrs Clucking Tosspots are the coroners for societies ills and the standard bearers for it's salvation. Who, from their statistical bag of averaged averages, produce the potions and prognoses we should all swallow and aspire to.

Don't know why, whether its down to a new awareness on my part or a growing commitment on their's, but it does seem as though there's been an exponential growth in the ranks of Tosspots in the last couple of decades. Though the growth by itself could be explained by the Tosspot pool contained in government nurturing and recruiting those of a similar disposition to NGO's, quasi committees, quango's and other positions of authority that are within the governments gift or remit.

Probably the Tosspot effect accelerated when their Clucking could be transmitted over the mass entertainment medias of radio, television and films. When popularity was morphed into marketing by the advertising gurus and the spin of ideal homes and whiter than white washes was spun into ideologies and doctrines of material illusionism. When marketing became a tool not just to promote products but to fertilise minds in the secular religions of free markets, of capitalism over communism - or any other 'ism that challenged or threatened capitalism freedom to manuevre and prosper. While the other ism's polluted their ideologies with despots, capitalism disguised its despots by philantrophy, better tunes and the mastering of marketing control of democracy. It's probably around this stage that, whether by design or happy accident, the market gurus became aware of the potential of Clucking Tosspots at, or near the top of positions of authority.

How else can we explain the likes of Reagan, Kissenger,Thatcher, Nixon, Ford, Bush Snr, Major, The Clintons, Bush Jnr, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Blair, Brown, Straw, Prescot???, Balls, Hoone, Byers et al; to name but a few of the top echelon, how such mediocrity could succeed to such high office unless some 'power' wanted them there. Of course the marketing myth is that we the people voted them in. But if the choice is limited amongst Clucking Tosspots any difference is no more than a whisp of irrelevence. But the mediocrity the Tosspots provide and practice is proving very dangerous to the welfare, wellbeing and future of our society.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

The Price of Democracy

The question that has to be asked is not so much what that price is, but whether apathy minimises or increases the costs of democracy to the extent that it first destroys the processes then on to corrupt democracy itself?

A few days back I commented on a poll Sub Rosa had on her blog. The poll asked what the remuneration should be for Westminster MPs. I commented that I hadn't voted on the poll because I couldn't find a value relevant to the job they had or hadn't done. Then, as an afterthought, I added that I wouldn't pay them at all - I'd let the party they represented pay them.

Tongue in cheek, or throwaway, as the comment had been I thought it might have created a few reactionary sparks. However none appeared, so, as is my wont, with a shrug of quiet humility I turned to other tasks. But the idea wouldn't go away; if nothing else the sparks had excited the synapses - it had some merit beyond the throwaway and, while it may not be a pearl it wasn't so much being cast before the swine as being used as a method to corral and weigh up their value. So here goes.

Lets say the purpose of this exercise is to strengthen our democracy; to give it real goals and accountability. We all know the failings, if not the methods and tactics used to exploit them, of the present system; which in one way or another can all be branded with systemic corruption. From the electoral cradle through governmental lifestyles to their parliamentary graves, corruption has many names but collectively its called the game and its primary purpose is to devalue your vote to beyond the start of infinity. In the process and as an exercise in power it has already demolished the foundation of democracy. How then do we go about getting a fair day's work by paying a fair day's wage to the keepers of our democracy?

For the sake of simplicity, let's assume we have a population of 15 million eligible to vote - on that figure we allocate a price per vote (PPV - everybody loves acronyms) Lets call it £30, so the whole allocation related to MP salaries, expenses etc., would be around £450m per annum.

Or it would be except for the fact that even at General Elections there's little more than 50% who bother to vote. That by itself is a serious blow to democracy and, without putting too much spin on it, a damning indictment on those who profess to govern and work within it. In fact it could be alleged that the practitioners of the present system encourage and benefit from this lack of interest, this self disenfranchisement by the citizenry. In a first past the post system, they've already got rid of half the problem runners, the pros and the thoroughbreds are still in the race but the cuddies, cob's and asses are fed up seeing arses, so they'd rather put a tenner on the tote as a hoof on the track.

This isn't good for democracy, so the need is there to encourage the disillusioned and disenfranchised to use their votes, and for politics to be tied in to that encouragement. So to this end if at a General ( or any? ) Election, only 10 million vote then the allocation for the term of that parliament is only £300m instead of the £450m.

This £450/300m should be allocated to the parties in proportion to their share of the vote?


Good question. But the way I see it is, while we may change a system and invigorate a flagging democracy we're not likely to change human nature. So taking that as a given, I'd let the parties haggle in their own mire on whether the Rt Hon gets X and Suffolk Twit Y while Dull from Hull get Z. We don't care, we want winners not runners. And the failing of the present system is that the RtHon doesn't give a hoot what Dull from Hull wangles in expenses. Since it's all drawn from the unlimited common purse its fair game, but were it to come from the party coffers and the amounts claimed by the dullards was limiting the scope and style the RtHon believed was merited then the fur would fly under the war cries of competence, commitment and ability.

We don't want the distortions of safe seats and stipends, of entrepreneurial nepotism and the hammocks of tradition. We want the bastards to fight tooth and nail for the privilege of representing us under the bastion of real democracy. We might then, like the citizens of Caesar's Rome, possibly profit and get some amusement out of the process.

So there you have it - possibly more an outline than a blueprint; but in the immortal words " salus populi suprema lex est." any method of governance that fails that test is not fit for purpose. The present democracy and governance we have wouldn't even be entitled to sit the prelims.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Pit Bulls, Poodles & Politics

For Christmas 2009 I was given, by a dear and well meaning friend, Bob Woodward’s trilogy of Bush at War.

Bob Woodward is, along with Carl Bernstein, one of the Washington Post reporters who exposed the Watergate scandal and thrust Nixon into the halls of infamy. As a dissident I don’t particularly rate Woodward; categorising him more as a patriotic political policeman – a placeman who stays within the boundaries and know his place in them. However since this essay is not about Woodward’s strengths or failings as a wordsmith or analyst; as a piece of reportage, and treating the integrity and veracity of the trilogy’s contents are as factual as claimed, they do give a fascinating – disturbing – shocking – or downright frightening (you choose) insight on the intelligence and conscience quotas of the individuals who lord over the corridors of power in Washington and, in a very, very minor bit-part role, the poodle parlours of Westminster and Blair’s ambition to connive for himself and, presumably, future prime ministers similar presidential powers.

In a blurb attributed to the Daily Mail for the second book - Plan of Attack - it concludes “Whatever your opinion, for or against, about America’s invasion of Iraq, this extraordinary book will add weight to it.” I believe the reviewer was half right. I’m still looking for the ‘fors.’

Believe it or not, this is the latest version of many - and it may not be the last – drafts I’ve struggled with to convey with some measure of objectivity the incredible quantity of trust we place on the people who occupy high offices of state. Whether by chance or design, I think this is the major failing of the present political paradigm’s that are exposed by the books.

Bush at War (1st of the Trilogy) Deals with the aftermath of the Twin Towers. America’s understandable shock and anger and the White House’s reactions and actions to the atrocities. Which all boiled down to, this was al Qaeda; the bastard Bin Ladin, who they reckoned was holed up in Afghanistan, probably in Kabul, as guests of the Taliban.

What is surprising was, for all the years of political and media hooha on the war on terror preceding 9/11, how little the Americans actually knew. How little covert or overt intelligence they had gathered on either the Taliban or this terrorist elephant called al Qaeda, which seemed to exercise all their executive abilities to a superhuman extent in order to save us from Islam’s venal intent, even if it meant reducing their own citizens rights and freedoms and increased the states instruments of control.

Anyway, they eventually came up with a game plan; which was to put the pressure on the Taliban to capture and handover the al Qaeda elements. The Taliban nodded, shrugged their shoulders and got on with their tyranny. Plan B, was to shower the northern war lords with suitcases of dollars and give them logistical support to drive the Taliban out of Kabul and maybe flush out or, if they were very lucky, blow Bin Ladin into a minor sand dune. The plan didn’t pan out. Neither the Taliban nor Bin Ladin played ball. Instead of standing their ground and testing their ability to withstand the barrage of million dollar smart bombs on five-dollar tents, both Taliban and al Qaeda just stole off into the night, leaving a situation, which hasn’t changed much from nine years ago to this.

But Bush hadn’t secured his Prime Time Showcase revenge for Sept 11. He’d no heads in baskets, no terror trophies; all he’d achieved was possibly to expose Afghanistan to the next warlord who, flush with dollars, fancied his chances.

But there was always Saddam. He was always good for Prime Time and Cheney and Rumsfeld were both slavering to get him on it.

On the 12 Sept 2001, within 24hrs of the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, at a National Security Council meeting Rumsfeld had suggested they tie in the Iraq issue with al Qaeda.

Plan of Attack (Book 2) deals with the Iraq offensive and the formation of the coalition. We’re told on the 21st Nov 2001 Bush asked Rumsfeld, “What kind of war plan do you have for Iraq?”

The concise critique of this book would be that there were no plans. Oh there were plans to create plans, Pentagon plans, Secretary of Defence plans covering known knowns, known unknown’s, unknown unknowns; except they didn’t know for certain which category any of the above came under. And, even after years of surveillance, thousands of sorties policing no-fly zones, sanctions and weapons inspectors, the CIA had no real ‘intelligence’ of either the military deployment and capabilities or the mood, morale or aspirations of the people of Iraq. All the Americans knew was ‘they were going to kick ass.’

This is the book where you learn regime change was always the prime objective on the American agenda. That the claimed 45mins for activation of WMD’s was thrown out of the ballpark early on by Washington – though Blair still used it as the mantra he based his decision on.

It’s here you find out a British prime minister asked if he could please take part in this war. Jan 31st 2002, Blair said he needed the favour. Please.

In page 338 you are told Bush, concerned by the problems Blair may face getting the vote through Westminster, “If it would help, Bush said, they would let Blair drop out of the coalition and they would find some other way for Britain to participate.”
The interesting word here is ‘let’ – perhaps it helps define what’s meant by the special relationship? Except by now, you have already been disabused of such a relationship ever existing or even that democracy plays any part in either government.

However on 18th March the issue was resolved when Westminster, with the help of the Conservatives, got his vote through parliament. Why would the Conservatives do that? What is this thing with the Conservatives and war – has it something to do with their investment portfolios. Or is it merely a traditional yearning for the glory and spoils of imperialism? There’s no question of the leader of the opposition not being briefed as to the governments reasons for joining the coalition. Should he and any others who attended not be quizzed by the Chilcot inquiry as to what they were told that convinced them to back the government?

Saddam’s military organisation has never been shown to have any particular strategic or tactical skills, expertise or spirited commitment. Sure they could annihilate the unarmed Kurds with toxins and spend years and a fortune shelling and bombing Iranian sand without, as far as I know, gaining a foot of territory. But their enthusiastic foray into Kuwait was only exceeded by their panic to get out of it. So it shouldn’t have been too out of the box for the military and political planners in Washington to develop their plan of attack and to have some idea as to how they’d control the occupation.

They’d won the war, toppled a statue, had their prime time pyrotechnic display but, gawdammit they’d forgotten to drop the leaflets or commission the broadcasts that told the people of Iraq what their liberators intended to keep the countries infrastructures, services and administration functioning.

They had a force powerful enough to conquer but not to occupy, police and maintain stability. In effect they’d won the battle for Baghdad and toppled Saddam but had lost the war for Iraq.

State of Denial (Book 3) Deals with the aftermath.

By this time your numb with idiocy fatigue. Initiatives appear, then somehow or other mutates with another, then, having achieved nothing but chaos disappears. Only for the individuals involved to reappear with initiative N, or is it Z, and you realise a whole new industry has been created in Baghdad and Washington, creating initiatives. Hollywood comes to Baghdad. None of which helps the Iraq’s; where the Hell is Harrison Ford when you need him?

What you do find out is there were many more ‘incidents’ ‘collateral’ deaths and injuries than were reported by the Western media. Months on end the casualty figures exceed the death toll of 9/11. And on a partisan note, Basra, where the British controlled, was mentioned twice.

So, given that most of us already consider Iraq and Afghanistan to be failures, what, if any, impact or insight is contained within the books that would relate to Scotland’s independence?

Often supporters of independence are challenged that Scotland is too wee to matter and too poor to prosper. Keeping that in mind and knowing what we do about the costs these lap-dog policies have on the domestic front. Even, leaving aside for the moment the price in lives. The question has still to be asked what will be the final cost associated with that favour Blair pleaded from Bush and who prospered from it. As to stature, well a few mentions in dispatches isn’t going to strain the transient charity or good will of the special relationship and, if these books are a true reflection of Washington it’s a relationship struggling to keep hold of a corner of a thin blanket.

Can Britain afford the membership fees, ironmongery and pompous regalia needed in order to grab the crumbs from the top table? The self-evident fact is it can’t, though I fear it will try to, even if it bleeds itself dry and pawns its soul in the process. At least Canute tried to stop the tide coming in; Westminster is trying to keep the tide of history in and trying to shape the future from it.

That’s why Scotland has to unhitch itself from the yoke of the union and plough its own furrow

Thursday, 7 January 2010

A new year. Question is, will it be a different year?

There's no doubt some who will prosper in spite of the price we have to pay for the freedoms allowed to our financial knights, buccaneers and mercenaries. But, in the absence of any real measures in retribution, control, or the elevation of responsibility and social morality to be included as a factor in their wheeling and dealings, it's highly likely the financiers will form the vanguard of that some.

Others will prosper because of the effects caused by the recession. Most of whom will be the fringe predators whole sole reason for existence is to pick the cadavers clean of the victims who have succumbed to the effects of the melt down. At the top end they are receivers and liquidators - they like to be called administrators - but there function remains as it has always been, namely to cover their fees while manipulating some return to secured creditors (usually the bank, especially if its the bank who instigated the receivership).

Generally these liquidators! sorry administrators, are subsidiary sections of the main - the big five - accountancy firms. The big five who earned £51 bn in fees for 2007/08; a large part of which included their fees for vouching for the veracity of the major banks audited accounts and the booming profits they claimed to make. Profits that for some unknown reason or metaphysical financial jiggery pokery never seem to relate to the amount of their corporate tax liabilities? However that discrepancy could be explained by the fact another large section of their fees are earned by the employment of their expertise in designing the manipulative levers, derivers and avoiders that give lie to the fact of these audited accounts being an accurate account of the assets and liabilities of the firm they represent to merely being a jumble of figures they consider they can get off with. Nothing has been said about the failure of these probity policers, though given the paucity of action against their fraudulent clients there's little to be surprised by that lack.

At the bottom of the fringe we have those who take action against the gullible consumer who's been gulled by the plastic snake bonanza's of credits and the ladders of housing booms. Here we have the witless morons, the bailiffs, the sociopaths of a legal system that has removed any liability from cause and acts on effect, provided the esoteric i's and t's of its systems have been properly dotted and crossed. No doubt we can, with a fair degree of accuracy, assume they will enjoy a prosperous 2010 relevant to their status.

The other event we can look forward to this year is the general election.