Archive for April, 2007


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I’m sorry but really, I take flack when I say that I am yet to see if democracy is a concept that can work in practice when people start their usual chesnuts about communism and socialism. “It may not be much but it’s the best we’ve got” is often a retort, well bugger me for not being happy with 5th best! If you actually look at what is going on in the “civilised” western world now vast swathes of the populous have been totally disenfranchised by a combination of government and corporations. Democratic deficit, I mean if my bank account was that much in deficit they’d have sent the poxy bailiffs round!

America is a democratic mess, I mean if it were a country in Africa you’d have had the UN in to clean up the corruption and attempt to overhaul the ludicrous electoral system. To have a presidential election based on some arcane electoral college system is a farce. In Britain the “secret” ballot would have been publicly exposed as a lie and again the system would be overhauled. The same is true of many countries and I’m sure Italy, France and Germany can site equal examples. look at France -‘vote for the crook not the fascist’ was the slogan used by the Left at the last presidential election where those to the left were forced to vote for Chirac over the nationalist Jean-Marie Le Pen. In Italy Berlusconi has the sort of control of the media that would not be allowed in the developing world and would be seen, quite rightly, as a conflict of interest. And Bossi is just a local model not even close to parity with someone like Murdoch, yet his control of the media and politics has enabled him to evade corruption charges and practically block dissention. In Germany the Schroeder SPD government has modelled itself closely on Tony Blair’s New Labour and like here the upshot has been that those on the left have formed their own political party the WASG (Wahlalternativ -Arbeit und Soziale Gerechtigkeit)

In Britain we now have ‘Tough Liberalism’, ‘Compassionate Conservatism’ and New Labour -The Third Way’ if you can find the bloody difference between them then you deserve an honorary degree in Political Science. The trouble is that the ‘accepted premises’ are all the same this belief in weak parliamentary democracy, and what they call the ‘Free Market’ which is actually loose protectionism. I mean I’m no economist and I do not espouse the planned economy as such because I don’t really understand it but to me I guess the way it works is you decide what people are going to require for a defined period of time and you gamble on your forecast being correct, the trouble is if you are wrong you do not have the flexibility to do anything about it. Now correct me if I’m wrong but in the capitalist market lots of people speculate money based on a prediction of supply and demand, if the supply and demand change due to unforeseen circumstances they do not have the flexibility to adapt and they lose money. Hmmmmmm.

So with the British general election looming large on the horizon what should you do if you are even remotely left of centre? To my mind if you are in a constituency that has a Respect candidate then the position is clear, for whatever you may think of particular people within the party Respect remain by and large the only show in town for the left. There may be individual constituencies where there are socialist candidates or independents with a progressive left-wing agenda but I suspect many people will be faced with a ballot paper reading Labour, Conservative, Lib-Dem, UKIP and BNP. That to my mind already sums up what is wrong with this present form of democracy! If you are faced with precisely such a paper what should you do? I believe this falls into 2 categories, are you going to vote idealistically or pragmatically? If you are to follow the true democratic principle then you have but 2 choices you wither spoil your ballot in order to show that you are not apathetic but disenchanted and disenfranchised or you can vote for the party that best represents what you believe which is likely to be the Lib-Dems if it comes down to the 3 major parties. Your alternative is the less democratic but more pragmatic tactical vote whereby you vote to keep one side out. You may want to give the Labour government a kicking but it has to be said the Tories are worse so should you vote Labour to keep the Tories out? Not an easy decision I’ll grant you since the Labour party now is practically a mirror image of the Tory party in 1972.

The Baron’s Election Choice – Create your own None Of The Above box and tick it, the spoiled ballot option for me I’m afraid to express my disgust at the current state of British electoral politics. Suffice to say I do not have a Respect candidate in my constituency and the Labour incumbant is a strong supporter of the New Labour stance.

Song Of The Day ~ They Might Be Giants – Your Racist Friend

Original Comments:


Mark Ellott made this comment,
For the first time in my life, I will be voting tactically. I want the parliamentary majority reduced. The best way of doing that locally is to vote Tory (after which, I will know how Lady MacBeth felt). More Tory MPs will sufficiently reduce the Labour majority and – hopefully – give us a hung parliament. That means that the government will be forces into consensus with the opposition parties.
It really is time our system was overturned for a more representational process.

Visit me @ http://longrider.blog-city.com

[Redbaron responds – I can see where you’re coming from but I just can’t ever countenance a vote for that bunch of krypto-fascists. Thee problem is regardless of the reasons a large Tory vote, whilst bringing down the majority will also give the mandate that the current set of serious right-wing politics are ‘what the people want.’]

comment added :: 27th April 2005, 21:19 GMT+01
Katie made this comment,
Ok this is a very rare occasion that I can pass what I feel is a more educated opinion than yours on a matter like this but your comments on the economy are just plan wrong. That is the way that *all* economics works, it is not a political stance it is the basis of all economics as the concept that we understand it to be today. Secondly “you can vote for the party that best represents what you believe which is likely to be the Lib-Dems if it comes down to the 3 major parties”, how can you possibly assume your readers stance? I find that comment almost offensive. You went to the vote count or the Europeans didn’t you? I did the year before that and I have to say spoiling your ballot does not create any more of a protest than not voting. 2 people at most are likely to see it and they do not even announce the number of spoilt papers. At the end of the day you’re voting in the system we have now, not your ideal system. The vote for anyone who believes in playing an active part in a democracy has to be between Tory and Labour at this moment in time there is no other realistic choice. As for the idea of trying to achieve a hung parliament that is so ridiculously impractical that I can’t believe anyone would suggest it.
PS Sorry about the phone call last night x

Visit me @ http://screamtoasigh.blog.city.com

comment added :: 29th April 2005, 03:19 GMT+01
Red Baron made this comment,
OK Katie now I really have to take issue with this, so much so that I am having to use a new comment, and you now how rarely I do that.
Firstly, simply saying ‘I know best ‘cos I’m doing economics’ and then failing to illustrate exactly why my idea is wrong doesn’t seem an especially constructive critique. Show me why, after all this view that capitalist market economics is the only way is not shared by everyone, so why are we wrong? Why is Marx’s economic theory wrong? Please qualify your objection.

Secondly – I posed the question “what should you do if you are even remotely left of centre?” Now this question is an obvious opening gambit for what is going to be my opinion on the situation, it would be staggering were I to give anything else. My supposition that for those on the left the party “likely” to represent their views best out of the main 3 parties stands up to scrutiny, you do not even attempt to attack this point you simply accuse me of presumptuously expressing what I believe and assuming others believe the same, this is incorrect, I am advising what I believe and making a judgement based on that belief as to what I feel is right or left in this case!

Your dogmatic adherence to an out of date electoral system does you no credit and if you’ll forgive me for saying so it clouds your judgement. To say you have to put up with the system as it is now is reactionary claptrap. Were that the case then what would be the point in engaging in politics at all? At the moment the system makes a mockery of the term democracy and it has done for some time, blithely voting within the confines of what the status quo magnanimously allow you to do and expecting them to reform things from the inside is lunacy. To say it is either the Tories or Labour is the same old hackneyed argument that we have had pushed down our throats for decades and it leads me to a conclusion that the path must be one of two ways: Reform the system so that it is more accountable (this will not happen with either Labour or Conservative who both benefit from the current system) or change the fucking system. Personally I believe the reformation of the system from within is about as likely as me being next in line to the throne, so I propose the same thing for the system as I do for the throne, get rid of it and start again.

My recommendation for the spoilt ballot does not come fundamentally from a desire for that to be registered it comes from the strong conviction that I do not wish to give any of the current parties in my area a mandate to further their policies. However spoilt ballots are counted and are added into the final total, I believe this is a more powerful tool than staying at home and not voting and allowing the parties to blame it all on apathy. I am not apathetic about politics, far from it but I will not be press-ganged into voting for a party that acts in the interests of the corporate world and shafts the people it is supposed to be representing just because in 1945 the party actually stood for something.

As for you quick dismissal of the hung Parliament idea, for someone who is studying European politics as well as British, you would do well to look at other countries and what the necessity for coalition rule has done in their context. A hung Parliament whilst unlikely would within the current system be the ONLY way to have any electoral reform, that makes it a good thing and to be desired.

I’m afraid, Katie, like many of the other New Labour acolytes and Nomenklatura you are going to have to put up or shut up. You cannot be a supporter of the current Labour party and still hold any authority on a debate on progressive politics your credibility is too undermined. You may not wish to be a socialist, you may feel that a country run by politicians with vested interests and businesses is a good thing, if so then that is fine and you are in the right place, if not then you need to take a very good look at the party you support.

Visit me @ http://redbaron.blog-city.com

comment added :: 29th April 2005, 11:19 GMT+01
A visitor made this comment,
God, what a mind. Beautiful rebuttal. Terribly sexy, too, if I may be so bold. And I am.
Kristie

comment added :: 29th April 2005, 16:57 GMT+01
Katie made this comment,
Ooh you aren’t half in a strop today, I didn’t say because I study economics I know better. “in the capitalist market lots of people speculate money based on a prediction of supply and demand, if the supply and demand change due to unforeseen circumstances they do not have the flexibility to adapt and they lose money” is what I took issue with, it is not just in a capitalist market that people speculate money based on a prediction of supply and demand; in all markets people speculate money based on predictions for the future which are in turn based on economic modelling from past performance of any market.
We disagree on how best to work within the confines of the current system and that’s fair enough. You’re right I am in the right place. I won’t apologise for continuing to support labour, you know that I have wavered on this point for some time but in the last week I have felt increasingly certain that I am making the right choice. In fact I’ve just come back from a debate with the 8 candidates in my constituency, where my MP is actually Charles Clarke and do you know what he impressed me, to me he was in a different league to the other candidates.

You argue better than I do, I know that and you know that, so I’m not going to contest the rest of the content as we simply disagree on it and I don’t think you’re wrong per se.

By the way Kristie’s right your mind is very sexy, but you knew that already. Still up for that shag if it’s still on offer. Have a good weekend hon; you owe me for the 5 hours the other night BTW. xx

Visit me @ http://screamtoasigh.blog.city.com

comment added :: 29th April 2005, 21:21 GMT+01
Mark Ellott made this comment,
Katie,
despite its obvious disadvantages, a hung parliament will put an abrupt end to the current roughshod ride that we currently have. Given our present system, a party that polled around 30 – 40 % of the vote (of those who were prepared to vote) gets to impose bad policy on all of us. Charles Kennedy was quite right – they are competing minorities. A hung parliament – or small majority government will force the largest party to negotiate with the opposition.It will also put an end to the obnoxious New Labour authoritarianism – of which your candidate is one of the chief proponents. This is the man that swept aside habeas corpus after 800 years – a man who derides the liberties my grandparents’ generation fought and died to preserve. A man who deserves to lose his seat at the election, but probably won’t.

Given our dreadful electoral system, a hung parliament is the best compromise we can hope for. As redbaron points out – a Lib Dem influence in such a situation might just remove the stranglehold that keeps us locked in the existing electoral system and force through a change.

I have been at the count (at the last two general elections). I agree that no one takes much notice of spoiled papers – which is why I won’t do that. A Lib Dem vote (which would be closest to my conscience) will be lost. If I’m to give Roger Berry a bloody nose (or better, a P45) it has to be a Tory vote. I’ll just have to live with the damned spot.

Visit me @ http://longrider.blog-city.com

comment added :: 30th April 2005, 11:24 GMT+01
JohnSherck made this comment,
Going back to a minor point in the OP:
But… but… I thought America was the model for democracy in the world! I mean, just ask most of us and we’ll tell you it’s true!

Granted, we can only maintain that belief through a very careful ignorance of the rest of the world (to say nothing about a profound ignorance about our own system).

Once one gets past that, though, I think it’s easy enough to see the flaws in our system. On the other hand, seeing the way from where we are to a better future… that’s a little more difficult.

BTW, thanks for a bit of insight into British politics with this post and the subsequent discussion!

Visit me @ http://wheresmyplan.blog-city.com

comment added :: 2nd May 2005, 02:04 GMT+01

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fascism
About 18 months ago I received an email from a work colleague, I’d have described said colleague as populist in his politics, much as many would be, easily led by populist movements and particularly prey to the watered down notions of the far right. I was however disappointed to receive the email from him, albeit only in its forwarded form, I was equally disappointed to find the responses from other recipients were in support of the opinions expressed within. I thought in light of today being St George’s Day that the email and my original response merited revisiting.

I wrote my original response because the email had made my blood boil enough to feel compelled to do so. I enclosed it both for perusal, debate, feedback and consideration and also as a template for people to work with should they feel it were of any use.

I do not wish to portray this correspondence as representative of all of those who are fighting a cause for the recognition of the English flag. That is a very different struggle, albeit one regularly hijacked for the right-wing cause. This email is however neo-fascist populist rubbish of the worst kind, riddled with as many factual innaccuracies as it is emotive phrases, it perfectly sums up just why people are so apprehensive of the “English” lobby. Furthermore whether or not it did indeed appear in an English newspaper I do not know (though I have my doubts) but it is quite clearly a cut and paste job from an American message of similar style. That will become clear as you read it.

I do not expect those who may be the easy prey of such lunacy to be reading my pages, any of them who may have stumbled across here by mistake are unlikely to stay, and the people who I might normaly expect to converse with are like as not savy enough to see through the gaping flaws.

Happy St. George’s Day


Subject: Pass the word

After many cities not wanting to offend other cultures by putting up xmas lights.

After hearing that the Birmingham council changed its opinion and let a Muslim woman have her picture on her driver’s license with her face covered.

After hearing of a Primary School in Birmingham where a boy was told that for PE they could wear Football League shirts (Aston Villa,Birmingham, West Brom etc) but NOT an England shirt as it could offend others !

This prompted the editorial below written by a UK citizen. Published in a British tabloid newspaper.

Quote:

IMMIGRANTS, NOT BRITON’S, MUST ADAPT. Take It Or Leave It. I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture.

Since the terrorist attacks on London, we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Brits. However, the dust from the attacks has barely settled and the “politically correct” crowd begin complaining about the possibility that our patriotism is offending others.

I am not against immigration, nor do I hold a grudge against anyone who is seeking a better life by coming to Britain. However, there are a few things that those who have recently come to our country, and apparently some born here, need to understand.

This idea of London being multicultural community has served only to dilute our sovereignty and our national identity. As Britons, we have our own culture, our own society, our own language and our own lifestyle.This culture has been developed over centuries of wars, struggles, trials and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom.

We speak ENGLISH, not Spanish, Lebanese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society, Learn the language!

“In God We Trust” is our National Motto. This is not some Christian, right wing, political slogan. We adopted this motto because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture.

If St. George’s cross offends you, or you don’t like ” A Fair Go”, then you should seriously consider a move to another part of this planet.

We are happy with our culture and have no desire to change, and we really don’t care how you did things where you came from. This is OUR COUNTRY,OUR LAND, and OUR LIFESTYLE, and we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this. But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our National Motto, or Our Way of Life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great British freedom, “THE RIGHT TO LEAVE”.

If you aren’t happy here then f#@* off! We didn’t force you to come here. You asked to be here. So accept the country YOU accepted. Pretty easy really, when you think about it.

I figure if we all keep passing this to our friends (and enemies) it will also, sooner or later get back to the complainers, lets all try, please. No matter how many times you receive it… please forward it to all you know.

My response was as follows:

Sorry no, got to disagree most vehemently on this one.

Firstly let me say I am not in favour of political correctness any more than I am in favour of racism. The decision to brush Christmas under the carpet is not one that has been taken in conjunction with any part of the Islamic, Jewish or Hindu communities, it is one based on ignorance and does no-one any credit. Most religious groups have no problem with Christians celebrating their festivals in the same way that I, as an Atheist do not, however the same respect should be paid to the other religious festivals as well. Perhaps if people were given information about festivals such as Diwali, Eid and Hanukah and the like there would be less suspicion and mistrust.

That being said the ‘editorial’ which I think would be better called an ill-informed diatribe is really quite objectionable and to leave it unquestioned would be wrong. It is interesting that it is claimed to be an editorial rather than a letter and the tabloid newspaper is not named (I have my suspicions)

The idea that Britons do not need to adapt is idiotic, for a culture that is based so fundamentally and completely on the influx of external cultural forces, the stifling of continued evolution would be isolationist nonsense. What is it that these people define as British/English? Is it the language which stems largely from a 12th century Middle High German stem with a 65% Franco-Latin vocabulary? Is it perhaps the people who since the Celts came over before Christ have been followed by the Romans from modern Italy (though Roman legionaries could be from across the empire), the Jutes from modern Denmark, the Angles and the Saxons from modern Central Germany, the Vikings from Scandinavia, the Normans who came from France but originally stem from Scandinavia? Or is it the flag, one depicting the ensign of a half-Turkish, half-Palestinian man, most famous for a deed that never happened and who neither ever spoke nor even ever visited England. Or perhaps the royal family the Saxe-Coburg-Gothas a name so quintessentially Germanic in origin they decided that Windsor was perhaps a little less contentious and didn’t make them come across as the Kaiser.

Let us also not forget that through many wars across many centuries Britain was the aggressor and not the defender, the mess in Ireland, Palestine and Iraq are all a direct result of British foreign policy, some things never change eh?

Many of the people who come to Britain seeking a better life are ones who come in the belief that Britain is the motherland having had this sort of thing rammed down their throats for decades by an imperial education system. Others come because the Western world has raped and pillaged resources from their countries to prop up our own opulence at their expense, to deny them the right to come here to is morally indefensible and to simply dismiss them as economic migrants is to abdicate responsibility entirely. If you don’t want people to come here then help sort out the f*cking mess in their countries and perhaps the prospect of leaving everything you have in the grinding poverty of your homeland and schlepping across countries in search of a better life may look less appealing.

If many of these people stay in their ethnic group upon arrival perhaps this is because faced with a foreign country and seemingly hostile people it is a natural phenomenon to stick together, hence Jewish, Irish, Italian quarters around the place and Chinatown etc. The onus is not just on them to attempt to understand the culture into which they are coming but on YOU to understand the culture whence they came. Don’t say integration if what you mean is annexation, if you don’t understand the terms properly then take 2 historical examples, the first is how Indian culture and English culture has mixed, the second is how Nazi Germany superimposed it’s culture on Czechoslovakia and Poland in 1938-9.

You do not want a citizenship test, after all by and large the British know f*ck all of their own history and even less of anyone else’s, surpassed in ignorance perhaps only by their American cousins, if a citizenship test is brought in you’ll all get embarrassed down the pub when you can’t answer any of the questions.

Just because some of us born here neither like it nor feel British does not mean we have to f*** off, it is more courageous to stay and fight for a better place free from the sort of neolithic bigotry we see in this ‘editorial’ than to sod off like a bunch of whingeing ex-pats and attempt to create a little England in someone else’s country. Funny that the British seem to still feel they have a God-given right to gallivant off wherever they choose and expect to be able to get cornflakes and shout loudly at barmen and waiters in an effort to get themselves understood and yet they cannot understand why anyone should do it here. The British are regarded as one of the worst races for learning any other languages and are already years behind continental Europe in the teaching of languages in schools. “Yeah, but everyone speaks English dun’they?” ‘Cos let me tell you that attitude goes a long way in World Commerce.

“In God We Trust” is an interesting one, I was never aware of it being this country’s motto, but I am aware of it being on every banknote of the United States of America and perhaps this in itself is as much illumination as we need as to the opinions of the original writer of the piece. It is ironic that the biggest danger to British culture, the covert erosion by a culture that does have the same language, goes largely unnoticed. Christian men and women did not found this nation it existed long before that and only converted to Christianity after St. Augustine came to Britain under the envoy of Pope Gregory the Great in 597. To deny the existence of Britons before this date is the same as pretending that Australia didn’t exist before the 1790s and that there was no America before the Pilgrim Fathers. It is historical revisionism of the worst kind and frankly is neo-populist bullshit that people should expose more often.

If YOU the originator of this editorial want a country devoid of anything non-British then you should immediately stop eating chinese, indian, italian, french, thai or vietnamese food. No late night kebabs or pizza. You should stop drinking lager (German) whiskey (pre-christian celtic), Brandy (Dutch), Vodka (Russian) etc. You should not use words like sugar (originally Sanskrit, through Arabic to Latin to French), no more RSVP and deja-vu and you’ll finally have to find your own word for entrepreneur. Oh and stop using the current number system which is Arabic, stop using the current calender, it’s not called Gregorian for nothing, it’s a Catholic calendar from Italy. The days of the week are going to be a little bland as well as are the months of the year though you might still be able to use April, May and June.

Or do you just want to have your Gateaux and eat it you ignorant Scheisse?

-Please feel free to pass this around to anyone you feel may have been taken in by the original claptrap outlined in the editorial. Eventually perhaps it might illicit a response, but I won’t hold my breath, after all response comes from respondre which is French so perhaps I’ll be a victim of my own success! You can choose to leave my name on it if you wish but since the original writer saw fit to hide behind anonymity I do not see why I should not be able to do the same.

If anyone does receive such a mail it is, in my opinion, vital that you do not simply shrug it off but respond with feeling. Whilst many of us realise that this sort of argument outlined in the mail is ignorant rantings there are many others who will not apply the same level of critque to such a thing and it is therefore essential that the myths contained within are publically exploded. The sort of right-wing fervour that we have seen born out of the inner city areas that were once traditional left-wing supporters existed because of ignorance and the singular lack of the political establishment to interact with anyone who does not tow the neo-liberal or neo-conservative line. Such ignorance and the failure of society to provide proper education for all has been harvested by the far-right who have become cleverer than their previous simpleton skinhead bovva-boy image. Let’s not forget that the Nazis have a strong historical precedent for stregth in propaganda. One of the principle reasons it worked so well in Germany in the 1930s was because of the lack of coherent united opposition to condemn it and refute the arguments offered. This cannot be allowed to happen again. The parallels with the German political system in the Weimar Republic can be easily drawn, lack of unity on the left and a series of right-wing laws enacted by a populist head of state leading to the potential for seizure of emergency powers and the easy repression of sections of people by existing legislation.

Some people may think it far fetched but it is a period of history I have studied a fair bit from the German perspective and I know well the methodology and circumstance that led to 1933 and I can see areas that make me want to be damn sure that we are not in the fateful trap of failing to bear in mind that they that do not learn from history are destined to repeat it.

Song Of The Day ~ The Men They Couldn’t Hang – Hell Or England

Those companieros from my old Blog-City days may remember a series I started on dodgy album covers. I wrote 2 entries on some of the weirdest and scariest covers out there No. 1 and No. 2 and yet there were many that didn’t make the original cut, and since I’d had to look at them and endure the ensuing nightmares I didn’t see why you should get away scott free! So here’s my 3rd offering:

drhook
Something Special From Jeff
The original Dr. Hook, a lot of people missed Abu Hamza’s short-lived pop career before he went on to radical Islam. However Hamza decided that he’d have to drop the name Jeff if he was to be taken seriously.

half-assed
Music For Half-Assed Friends
Yeah, fuck ’em, half-arsed bastards, quite right too.


Gerhard Polt – Leberkaes Hawaii
Gerhard was keen to prove he wasn’t just a ham actor and bring home the bacon. Sadly because of the nature of the decapitation for the album cover opportunities became scarcer for the headless Gerhard, who was described as being somewhat wooden.

jimpoot
Jim Post – I Love My Life
Jim wants you to come and play, he likes watersports and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche.

miketerry
Mike Terry – Live At The Pavilion Theatre Glasgow
Sadly Mike only did the one gig at the Pavilion Theatre Glasgow, the locals didn’t take to his particular brand of entertainment and an unpleasant scene ensued.

cex
Cex – Actual Fucking
It in fact this picture that made Tron guy think he might one day get laid. Cex’s subtlety in their name and the coyness of the album cover was ruined by some berk at the record company deciding the title should be called Actual Fucking.

kidtronik
CX Kidtronik – Krak Attack
Kidtronik decided when someone said his music was a bunch of arse to make something of a theme of the fact.

difference
Demolition Doll Rods – There Is A Difference
Indeed so, vive la deferens!

meccanormal
Mecca Normal – The Observer
It’s true to say Mecca is anything but normal, but she is watching you…

typesofwood
Whirlwind Heat – Types Of Wood
I think you’ll find dear that is the wrong type of wood to do that to, you’ll get nasty splinters you see if you don’t.

organist

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for equal opportunities but I can’t help feeling that not having any hands may be a quite genuine physiognomical impediment to playing the organ, at least if one is to render any tune from it.

karatist preacher

Mike found that his way of breaking the communion bread was a popular novelty, people still complained it was a bit too gritty and difficult to swallow.

christian crusaders

The Christian Crusaders are a flamboyant and charismatic bunch and if you don’t adhere to the message then the lad will sit on you.

cody

Cody claims he’s just come to borrow a feeling, DO NOT LET HIM IN YOUR HOUSE!

Song Of The Day ~Longpigs – Far

Dodgy LPs

Further Dodgy LPs

Fourth Dodgy LPs

Fifth Dodgy LPs

Democracy In Action

iamme
See the thing about democracy as I understand it is it is supposed to be the most representative of the systems, after all as Big John pointed out, the great Aristotle said of the system:

“In a democracy the poor will have more power than the rich, because there are more of them, and the will of the majority is supreme.”

Democracy is defined as “government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.”

So just where is the power these days, is it in the hands of the people or is it merely in the hands of those elected to represent them. Democracy cannot be a question of mob rule, just because a group of people think something does not make it necessarily democratic. However if a sizeable group object to the plans of their representatives it will substantially undermine the mandate of the representative if they are not seen to listen. It will also decrease the confidence in that representative from others who may not agree with the objections of the group but feel that the representative’s failure to handle them correctly may signify in ill-suiting to the job.

One could ask how many people objecting constitutes representative of the will of the people, on the March 31st 1990 250,000 gathered in what is known as the Poll Tax riot or Battle of Trafalgar, in oposition to the punitive Community Charge, championed by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. This demonstration was seen as widely representative of public opinion and led to the internal Conservative coup that led to the resignation of Thatcher. [Indeed outside the Conservative cabinet you’d be hard-pressed to find any supporters of the poll tax save for the odd super rich person living in a huge house who had suddenly found that their large rates bill had been cut massively.]

Contrast this with the demonstration on 15th February 2003 when nearly 2 million marched in London, the largest demonstration in this country by a factor of at least 3, to protest against the proposed war in Iraq and it made no difference to government policy in the short-term. What effect it had in the long-term is more difficult to calculate. I draw comfort from the words of a Professor of Chemistry from the University of Cairo who said that for them in Cairo the demonstrations across the Western World signified that there was no polarised Christian West against an Islamic East, this was governmental games and the populations across the world were showing their resistance to the neo-imperialism.

So it is in this context that my opposition, and that of so many others, to the introduction of ID cards must be seen. Now I am aware there are ID cards in many countries, Germany has the Personalausweis and France the Carte d’Identité and they have had for years. It isn’t so much the card itself but the sort of information that is going to be contained on it and the very questionable reasons being given to justify it. The argument that ID cards will stop terrorism simply doesn’t add up at all, the July 7th bombers were all British citizens and would have been fully entitled to carry ID cards had there been such a scheme. However as a means to generate money (the mandatory ID cards are suspected to cost each individual somewhere in the region of £100) and to limit access to the Welfare State and the NHS…

This is just the another wagon in the runaway train of New Labour’s draconian home legislation. We are, according to them, all the more safer for the cameras watching and tracking our every move, and ID cards are their extention of this. The Conservatives are opposed to it, probably because they want the credit for bringing in such a scheme themselves, they are after all not known for the libertarian nature of their policies.

I recently signed a petition on the No 10 Downing St. website, well, you have to at least show willing don’t you?! This is the response I received:

E-petition: Response from the Prime Minister

The e-petition to “scrap the proposed introduction of ID cards” has now closed. The petition stated that “The introduction of ID cards will not prevent terrorism or crime, as is claimed. It will be yet another indirect tax on all law-abiding citizens of the UK”. This is a response from the Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

  • The petition calling for the Government to abandon plans for a National ID Scheme attracted almost 28,000 signatures – one of the largest responses since this e-petition service was set up. So I thought I would reply personally to those who signed up, to explain why the Government believes National ID cards, and the National Identity Register needed to make them effective, will help make Britain a safer place.
  • The petition disputes the idea that ID cards will help reduce crime or terrorism. While I certainly accept that ID cards will not prevent all terrorist outrages or crime, I believe they will make an important contribution to making our borders more secure, countering fraud, and tackling international crime and terrorism. More importantly, this is also what our security services – who have the task of protecting this country – believe.
  • So I would like to explain why I think it would be foolish to ignore the opportunity to use biometrics such as fingerprints to secure our identities. I would also like to discuss some of the claims about costs – particularly the way the cost of an ID card is often inflated by including in estimates the cost of a biometric passport which, it seems certain, all those who want to travel abroad will soon need.
  • In contrast to these exaggerated figures, the real benefits for our country and its citizens from ID cards and the National Identity Register, which will contain less information on individuals than the data collected by the average store card, should be delivered for a cost of around £3 a year over its ten-year life.
  • But first, it’s important to set out why we need to do more to secure our identities and how I believe ID cards will help. We live in a world in which people, money and information are more mobile than ever before. Terrorists and international criminal gangs increasingly exploit this to move undetected across borders and to disappear within countries. Terrorists routinely use multiple identities – up to 50 at a time. Indeed this is an essential part of the way they operate and is specifically taught at Al-Qaeda training camps. One in four criminals also uses a false identity. ID cards which contain biometric recognition details and which are linked to a National Identity Register will make this much more difficult.
  • Secure identities will also help us counter the fast-growing problem of identity fraud. This already costs £1.7 billion annually. There is no doubt that building yourself a new and false identity is all too easy at the moment. Forging an ID card and matching biometric record will be much harder.
  • I also believe that the National Identity Register will help police bring those guilty of serious crimes to justice. They will be able, for example, to compare the fingerprints found at the scene of some 900,000 unsolved crimes against the information held on the register. Another benefit from biometric technology will be to improve the flow of information between countries on the identity of offenders.
  • The National Identity Register will also help improve protection for the vulnerable, enabling more effective and quicker checks on those seeking to work, for example, with children. It should make it much more difficult, as has happened tragically in the past, for people to slip through the net.
  • Proper identity management and ID cards also have an important role to play in preventing illegal immigration and illegal working. The effectiveness on the new biometric technology is, in fact, already being seen. In trials using this technology on visa applications at just nine overseas posts, our officials have already uncovered 1,400 people trying illegally to get back into the UK.
  • Nor is Britain alone in believing that biometrics offer a massive opportunity to secure our identities. Firms across the world are already using fingerprint or iris recognition for their staff. France, Italy and Spain are among other European countries already planning to add biometrics to their ID cards. Over 50 countries across the world are developing biometric passports, and all EU countries are proposing to include fingerprint biometrics on their passports. The introduction in 2006 of British e-passports incorporating facial image biometrics has meant that British passport holders can continue to visit the United States without a visa. What the National Identity Scheme does is take this opportunity to ensure we maximise the benefits to the UK.
  • These then are the ways I believe ID cards can help cut crime and terrorism. I recognise that these arguments will not convince those who oppose a National Identity Scheme on civil liberty grounds. They will, I hope, be reassured by the strict safeguards now in place on the data held on the register and the right for each individual to check it. But I hope it might make those who believe ID cards will be ineffective reconsider their opposition.
  • If national ID cards do help us counter crime and terrorism, it is, of course, the law-abiding majority who will benefit and whose own liberties will be protected. This helps explain why, according to the recent authoritative Social Attitudes survey, the majority of people favour compulsory ID cards.
  • I am also convinced that there will also be other positive benefits. A national ID card system, for example, will prevent the need, as now, to take a whole range of documents to establish our identity. Over time, they will also help improve access to services.
  • The petition also talks about cost. It is true that individuals will have to pay a fee to meet the cost of their ID card in the same way, for example, as they now do for their passports. But I simply don’t recognise most claims of the cost of ID cards. In many cases, these estimates deliberately exaggerate the cost of ID cards by adding in the cost of biometric passports. This is both unfair and inaccurate.
  • As I have said, it is clear that if we want to travel abroad, we will soon have no choice but to have a biometric passport. We estimate that the cost of biometric passports will account for 70% of the cost of the combined passports/id cards. The additional cost of the ID cards is expected to be less than £30 or £3 a year for their 10-year lifespan. Our aim is to ensure we also make the most of the benefits these biometric advances bring within our borders and in our everyday lives.
  • Yours sincerely,

    Tony Blair

correctid

So, ok, let’s look at this bit by bit:


The petition disputes the idea that ID cards will help reduce crime or terrorism. While I certainly accept that ID cards will not prevent all terrorist outrages or crime, I believe they will make an important contribution to making our borders more secure, countering fraud, and tackling international crime and terrorism. More importantly, this is also what our security services – who have the task of protecting this country – believe.

Sorry, what contribution would that be. In fact wouldn’t it be more likely simply to fit into the forgers plans in the same way that passports do? Yes it may mean that people wanting forged documents have one more thing to have to obtain but this hardly represents an insurmountable problem. So it may be that ID cards will prevent small time stuff I see no specific reason why international crime will be affected. As for the security services, yes well would one really expect them to think any difference, they too are hardly known for their committment to human rights.


In contrast to these exaggerated figures, the real benefits for our country and its citizens from ID cards and the National Identity Register, which will contain less information on individuals than the data collected by the average store card, should be delivered for a cost of around £3 a year over its ten-year life.

So if they do not contain such information what can be the possible use of them? In fact the truth is these cards will contain a great deal more than a storecard or a bank card, the government Indentity Cards Act 2006 document can be found here


But first, it’s important to set out why we need to do more to secure our identities and how I believe ID cards will help. We live in a world in which people, money and information are more mobile than ever before. Terrorists and international criminal gangs increasingly exploit this to move undetected across borders and to disappear within countries. Terrorists routinely use multiple identities – up to 50 at a time. Indeed this is an essential part of the way they operate and is specifically taught at Al-Qaeda training camps. One in four criminals also uses a false identity. ID cards which contain biometric recognition details and which are linked to a National Identity Register will make this much more difficult.

Sorry this is just horseshit, if this were the case then we would not know the identities of the September the 11th, Madrid Train and London Underground bombings, the fact is that the attacks were well-co-ordinated but not secret after the event, quite the contrary the whole point of the way Al Qaeda work is to make the most of their publicity machine. As already said in the case of the London bombers there would have been no impediment to them having ID cards whatsoever. So where has this arbitrary figure of 50 identities at a time come from and who is to say these are all British ones even if the figure is kosher, or is this another 45 minute claim?

Secure identities will also help us counter the fast-growing problem of identity fraud. This already costs £1.7 billion annually. There is no doubt that building yourself a new and false identity is all too easy at the moment. Forging an ID card and matching biometric record will be much harder.

So people may chose to forge a different identity of a nationality that is entitled to be here, since there are many other EU nations that do not have biometric records and ID cards. Or will all these countries be required to sign up for this if so does this not call into question their original identity documentation and proceedures? I thought measures like chip and pin on cards and the abolition of cheques and anything involving a signature was supposed to stop this sort of fraud. Surely it is for the banks and financial institutions to put in place the proceedures to stop the fraud rather than taxpayers having to pay for it themselves?


I also believe that the National Identity Register will help police bring those guilty of serious crimes to justice. They will be able, for example, to compare the fingerprints found at the scene of some 900,000 unsolved crimes against the information held on the register. Another benefit from biometric technology will be to improve the flow of information between countries on the identity of offenders.

So in fact this suggests that already there are plans to run everyone’s data through criminal databases to check against unsolved crimes, the Police must be over the moon, a chance to fit up a whole load more people! You’d need to be bloody sure that the fingerprint data etc. cannot be forged wouldn’t you, otherwise it is in fact merely a way for crimes to simply look as if they have been solved. As for the information between countries, this presupposes that countries will have their own database with which to compare doesn’t it?


The National Identity Register will also help improve protection for the vulnerable, enabling more effective and quicker checks on those seeking to work, for example, with children. It should make it much more difficult, as has happened tragically in the past, for people to slip through the net.

There is already a register of people who should not be allowed to work with children, the Sex Offenders Register, it exists with the details of all those convicted of crimes that should prevent them from being in positions with the vulnerable and this system has been something of a shambles, so what about another system will make this any easier?


Proper identity management and ID cards also have an important role to play in preventing illegal immigration and illegal working. The effectiveness on the new biometric technology is, in fact, already being seen. In trials using this technology on visa applications at just nine overseas posts, our officials have already uncovered 1,400 people trying illegally to get back into the UK.

But where is the data showing the control study as to how many of these applications would have been stopped by existing checks? So realistically this is, as suspected, simply being used as a bolster Fortress Europe approach and has the handy advantage of keeping the existing homeland population under the cosh.


Nor is Britain alone in believing that biometrics offer a massive opportunity to secure our identities. Firms across the world are already using fingerprint or iris recognition for their staff. France, Italy and Spain are among other European countries already planning to add biometrics to their ID cards. Over 50 countries across the world are developing biometric passports, and all EU countries are proposing to include fingerprint biometrics on their passports. The introduction in 2006 of British e-passports incorporating facial image biometrics has meant that British passport holders can continue to visit the United States without a visa. What the National Identity Scheme does is take this opportunity to ensure we maximise the benefits to the UK.

Firms using something as a passkey and a state structure based around the same thing is a very different prospect entirely. Many other countries are considering adding biometrics because the US is demanding it and much of the Western World feels compelled to cow-tow to it. Firms use this sort of technology to restrict access, just as really this is what the government intend to do here.

These then are the ways I believe ID cards can help cut crime and terrorism. I recognise that these arguments will not convince those who oppose a National Identity Scheme on civil liberty grounds. They will, I hope, be reassured by the strict safeguards now in place on the data held on the register and the right for each individual to check it. But I hope it might make those who believe ID cards will be ineffective reconsider their opposition.

So in fact no argument is being offered to counteract the civil liberties concerns, how can people be reassured by systems which are not even in place yet? As for the effectiveness argument I still fail to see that adequate points have been made to back this up.

If national ID cards do help us counter crime and terrorism, it is, of course, the law-abiding majority who will benefit and whose own liberties will be protected. This helps explain why, according to the recent authoritative Social Attitudes survey, the majority of people favour compulsory ID cards.

Ah, the classic ‘the innocent have nothing to fear’ this of course presumes you will always stay the correct side of guilty and this becomes a rather subjective state of affairs if you fall into the current bete noir group as the Irish in the 70s and 80s, the Muslims are today and the black community has been since the Windrush arrived. I don’t know about authoritative Social Attitudes survey, I’d never heard of it, and I was not at all aware that the majority was in favour of ID cards, I have heard few people in favour and generally they have been those without all the information at their disposal and under the misapprehension that the service was voluntary, or that the biometric data was foolproof, or that you would have access to your information and to change it if incorrect none of which of course is true.

I am also convinced that there will also be other positive benefits. A national ID card system, for example, will prevent the need, as now, to take a whole range of documents to establish our identity. Over time, they will also help improve access to services.

I am not aware of many situations where we do need to provide a myriad assortment of documentation. The Driving Licence is a photo form of ID and this is not considered sufficient for all circumstances so I see no evidence that the ID card will suddenly be taken for all purposes by institutions such as the banks.

The petition also talks about cost. It is true that individuals will have to pay a fee to meet the cost of their ID card in the same way, for example, as they now do for their passports. But I simply don’t recognise most claims of the cost of ID cards. In many cases, these estimates deliberately exaggerate the cost of ID cards by adding in the cost of biometric passports. This is both unfair and inaccurate.

Does this mean the biometric passports will be free? No, so in fact to factor that cost in is quite proper, to prove one’s identity there will be one form for inland and one form for abroad, thus the cost is amalgamated.

As I have said, it is clear that if we want to travel abroad, we will soon have no choice but to have a biometric passport. We estimate that the cost of biometric passports will account for 70% of the cost of the combined passports/id cards. The additional cost of the ID cards is expected to be less than £30 or £3 a year for their 10-year lifespan. Our aim is to ensure we also make the most of the benefits these biometric advances bring within our borders and in our everyday lives.

Why will we have no choice? Is it merely that the Americans will not allow us any choice. I have not seen any evidence that the British population are insisting of their goverment that biometric passports are used, and surely it is to them that the British government are responsible and draw their remit?

Hahahahahaha, sorry, stupid of me!

Song Of The Day ~The Wedding Present – Brassneck

Oh Aggers Do Stop It!

viv
I love cricket, it’s always been my favourite game, I have been able, on numerous occasions, to sit mesmerised for 5 days in a game that ends in a draw. I can listen to the Test Match Special commentary team on the radio for hour upon hour. Cricket signifies the Summer and as a child my memories, apart from the inevitable 1981 Ashes series, are of England – West Indies matches. The 1980s West Indies team reads like a set of cricketing folklore, flamboyant and destructive batsman, Sir Vivian Richards languidly thumping the hapless English bowling out of the ground not forgetting Greenidge, Haynes, Gomes and captain Sir Clive Lloyd whilst bowlers like Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner, Michael Holding looked as if they not only could take your head off but were actively trying at every available opportunity.

Allied to the actual play were the West Indies supporters, the colours, the effervescence and the noise of the conch shells. Whether the series were taking place in the Kennington Oval in London or the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados the atmosphere and occasionally even the weather were the same. Augusts in those days were good times, I never did a days school in August in my life, and living near Portobello Road the sounds of reggae and Carnival were commonplace, it all added to the general feel of an atmosphere perfectly suited to cricket.

So the Cricket World Cup being staged in the West Indies should have been a proper showpiece for the game, to be appreciated by existing converts as well as attracting many more and building on the 2005 Ashes series and putting the 2006 Ashes fiasco to bed.

Much has been said of the decision to allow the ICC Associate nations to play in the World Cup, this has allowed Ireland, Scotland, Netherlands and Bermuda to take part along with recently added ICC full members Kenya and Bangladesh.

Agnew’s answer seems to be the 20/20 competitions, which once again are made up only of the cricketing elite, and presumably that Scotland and Ireland should stick to playing the English county sides, because of course that has proven such a rich vein of inspiration for the game across these islands over the last decade.

I was present at Wembley Stadium in 1988 supporting Wimbledon against Liverpool in the FA Cup Final, did anyone really feel the competition was devalued that the Liverpool were not playing Arsenal or Man Utd that year? Do the football authorities and viewing public think that the non-league or lower division giant killers should be banned from participation because with every senior side they knock out the quality of the Quarter Finals is devalued? Or do we all watch and hope for the minnows as long as our team doesn’t get them?

In years to come ask people whether they remember the group matches of any of the Cricketing G8 in CWC 2007 and I will wager the only 2 that may come to mind will be Ireland’s historic victory over Pakistan or Bangladesh’s win over a complacent India. No matter that both teams may be beaten in the Super-8 stage, the profile of the game and the pride of the nations in their players has been raised and this can only be a good thing for the game and the future generations who will take it up as a result. England’s woeful form of late and Ed Joyce’s ‘defection’ are hardly likely to inspire as many youngsters to the game as Jeremy Bray’s stunning century or Kevin O’Brien’s penultimate over against Zimbabwe or Trent Johnson’s six to win the game against Pakistan will have done for youths across Ireland and other countries, it becomes the stuff of folklore, just as I’m sure Bangladesh’s qualification will have done in that part of the sub-continent. Ask people who the most memorable figure was in the World Cup and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone more recognisable and flamboyant than Bermudan Dwayne Leverock who inspired us fuller figured 30-somethings everywhere to the thought that we too could still be contenders.

In addition I think I would like to cite the penultimate ball of the Ireland against South Africa game, South Africa requiring 3 runs to win, Ashwell Prince hits the ball to the extra cover boundary, Andrew White gives his all to keep the ball from crossing the boundary by using his feet whilst Jeremy Bray quick to assist shies the ball back to restrict South Africa to 2 runs. The scores are level, the South Africans have lost fewer wickets, they have plenty or balls left, it isn’t about who is going to win, it’s about commitment, Ireland will not give up and you’ll work for your victory, and that’s the way it should be. It’s like the Irish rugby sides of the 1990s, not, I’m sad to say, the most talented team in the championship, but on spirit they were unrivalled and the games they won were won on passion and heart and the desire to eek out every last drop of talent they had. In cricket it’s the same, there are teams with a great deal more talent who have already gone home from the World Cup, and much of that is down to them simply not having the spirit, there’s no questioning the talent but India losing to Bangladesh and Pakistan losing to Ireland has been about who wants it more.

Bangladesh went on to beat the No. 1 ranked one-day side South Africa by a fair margin, and suddenly Aggers is saying well we can’t really talk of Bangladesh as minnows and how the tournament needed the upset. The same upset that last week was being talked about as unthinkable and how drab the tournament was going to be without one.

Sadly for the locals I expect what will, in the end, be remembered most will be the fact that the ticket prices constituted over a weeks wages between $60-$100. I have heard far more debate over whether the minnows should be playing than I have about the offensive nature of this pricing. This is a disgrace to cricket, it is a disgrace to sport, and it serves only to underline the latent commercialism that has often ruined the professional game. What should and could have been a colourful and flamboyant spectacle has been typified by 1/4 full stadia and hollow empty sounds, that isn’t cricket in the West Indies at all

The great former West Indies bowler Curtley Ambrose summed it up “We as Caribbean people are used to certain things in cricket: music, on the spot cooking, and we haven’t been able to express ourselves, it’s very disappointing for us.” Not just for Curtly and his compatriots.

Song Of The Day ~Booker T & The MGs – Soul Limbo

010-27a-2000.jpg
I have been a Blog-City resident for 3 years and I have enjoyed my time. Being a Mac user I’ve always perhaps been in the slightly less fashionable suburb, the buses don’t run quite as often and the supermarket is a Morrisons rather than a Waitrose! But hey I’m no nouveau riche fecker, I liked my place and felt at home, there has of late tho’ been considerable moving afoot and the suburb has been taken over by developers with their idea for shiny tower blocks and leisure centres. I have no intrinsic problem with their particular plans but they are going to obstruct my view and and all the works will probably make my ramshackle house fall down, so I have decided to uproot to a new home where I am led to believe we fuddy-duddy residents with our Mac and Apple Safari decorated houses are still both welcome and part of future development.

I am not going to shit in my former nest that is not the intention of this post, I have had a lot of help and support from the Blog-City staff and I hope I’ve been able to give something back. If it were it only that Safari is not part of the plans I would probably have bitten the bullet and stayed and switched to Firefox or at least tried to mess around with the debug to spoof the user agent a little more to masquerade as Firefox within Safari, but losing the free blog as well and the custom portlets meant I was going to have to pay to effectively start again, and firstly I can’t at present guarantee to use the facility enough to justify the outlay and secondly if I’m going to start again I might just as well do it for free. I’ve met many good bloggers here, had some good discussions and some vitriolic moments and that’s the way it should be.

I am under no illusions, to leave a site that has been going for over 3 years, acheived around 450,000 hits and 1450+ comments not to mention being linked to by many kindly souls is a risky move after all that linking may yield but one new person a month but that’s a person that may comment which may in turn lead to sparking me off on something, thus I may return to consderably more obscurity. But perhaps that may get me back to what I was actually here to do and focus my attentions on the writing and the activism.

I hope you’ll update your bookmarks, my thanks to the 12 people still on my mailing list, your presence has always been something of a beacon to tell me that are those out there that are still interested in what I have to say. That is immensely rewarding and motivating, even if it has not always manifested itself into actual entries.

I have gone to WordPress because of its good reports in the Mac tests and it means I can be reactionary and stick with Safari! I recognise that my ability therewith to influence things in terms of the actual blog direction is gone, but, in truth I no longer really have time for that, work is getting consistently more and more busy and it’s all I can do to keep the bloody writing going.

For those who wish to come with me you will find the new place HERE. I haven’t transfered the entries over I’ve no idea if it’s possible but my blog backup doesn’t seem to work anyway, but I am in the process of coying and pasting and keeping everything for my own archive, I appreciate the time many of you have taken in leaving comments and I’d like to save them, just as I’d like to save all the writing I did.

I will, in time get used to the new place, I want blogging to remain very much part of life the way it used to be 3 years ago when I wrote regularly and extensively. I’ve got Big John just along the hall and he looks in now and again to check how the decorating is going, and I’ll still make it my life’s work to coax Comrade Sunshine out of self-imposed hermitage!

Song Of The Day ~The Doors – The End

Original Comments:


kevin g made this comment,
I have to admit, it’s good seeing you back in action, but I wish I was mentioned somewhere, as I’ve subscribed to your blog for months, though I waited with baited breath for new entries!
I wish you the best of luck, where ever you go, and will make sure to keep checking out your new entries!

A Door’s connection, listening to “Lips Like Sugar” by Echo & The Bunnymen, and Ray Manzarek appeared on this, and they also did a cover of “Soul Kitchen!”

comment added :: 11th April 2007, 01:00 GMT+01 :: http://missedexit.blog-city.com

Why?

19991101_poverty2_rkg_0591.jpg

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

Former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower Speech before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953

I’ve watched Comic Relief, and I’ve listened to the current debate on environmental issues. I’ve looked at the problem in pensions, healthcare, education and I’ve written extensively trying to explore them on Thinker For Hire and I’m still left with the question – Why?

I’ve heard people with shed loads of money implore those of us with less to help the majority who have absolutely none. I’ve seen Tony Blair take part in a sketch on Comic Relief where the punchline used was “Am I bovvered?”, I wasn’t sure whether the irony was deliberate, it was certainly sick. It reminded me of the time Gordon Brown, holder of the pursestrings in one of the eight richest nations on the planet joined us claiming to want to be part of making poverty history. Or the time Bob Geldoff had the gall to tell us – we who marched on the G8, who risked (and many got) arrest and harrassment in Auchterader, that we were underestimating what Live8 achieved in terms of the pressure it put on the G8 leaders. Live8, that concert organised to coincide with what was supposed to be a day of action in Edinburgh, that people allegedly intended because they wanted to do something about the world and nothing at all to do with seeing a bill of live acts that would have made Glastonbury feel priviledged.

What drives me to complete catatonia is the lack of any cohesion in the strategy to actually do anything about the causes of the huge chasm in wealth that leads to the majority of the world having nothing more to look forward to than a wretched life. Debt relief is all well and good if you are going to write off the systems that cause the developing world to rack up the huge debts in the first place. Otherwise it is a cynical exercise by the richest nations to offer an empty gesture of writing off money they had no hope of getting anyway in order that they can lend more at further ridiculous interest rates and sell their defence systems and weaponry and ideas of privatising utilities and national industry.

Why does Comic Relief only help Britain and Africa, what about Central and Southern America, what about SE Asia, what about the Middle East? Or is it coincidence that the areas of extreme poverty left are the ones often perpetrated by the US? The ones where the hallmark of the West is not only indelibly stamped but recently so. After all one could apply the same logic to Africa but there is definitely a sense of bourgeois magnanimity in having given these countries independence from their colonial masters (in a state sometimes that resembled a former policy of scorched earth). The West is almost coming in Patrician-like as if to say – “yes you’ve fucked up, we told you that you’d never be able to govern yourselves, now we don’t want you back, (underlying message – we’ve taken all you have to offer and anything you have left you’ll give us without us having to actually do anything for it.) but we’ll throw you the odd pennies to keep you in water and occasionally even sanitation.

It is nothing more than a conscience assuager, it makes those with far too much feel better about themselves, they feel it adds value and virtue to what could otherwise only be seen as selfish and worthless lives. In generations to come what good have the stockbrokers, the bankers, the property owners, the company directors done for humanity, what help have they provided in the fight against global poverty and disease, the lack of education, and access to drinking water across the world? What have they done to address the woeful healthcare systems across the planet, some struggling to keep up with demand whilst others clean themselves into oblivion because they are too expensive to be used by anyone but the ultra rich?

It is merely used by the status quo as a vehicle to prevent us from looking at the gross inequality that embodies the world in the 21st century. For some the world is surrounded by opulence and we are cossetted by it and it numbs us into apathy and submission because we have the luxury of apathy and submission.

I do not balme the many people who try, who give their time and their energy to the schemes, after all without them there would be nothing at all, I just wish them to be as angry as I am about their exploitation, annexation and assimilation by the establishment, the same establishment that holds within its power the ability to do something about this and yet chooses to line the pockets of the apparatchiks

Now the question is why is this the case, why is the world this way?

The lack of social cohesion acutely the case in the West within and across countries and generations comes from the fact that the current generation in power, the “baby boomers” have pretty much had it all and seem intent on ensuring that they are the only ones to do so. These people grew up in an era with the Welfare State, free primary, secondary and tertiary education and will enjoy a final salary pension scheme alongside a state pension

It must be stressed that this does not apply to all people. The only baby boomers who have been able to take advantage of this have been those who could afford 2nd homes, or shares, or private healthcare. The trouble is that those who have not are as disenfranchised as the rest of us.

Because of the way the tax system has been structured by the incumbants there will be a large block of older people who live their early retirements in a degree of affluence whilst the younger generation stare down the barrel of the pensions gun, looking very realistically at the prospect of working until they drop.

Of course the older generation have traditionally been consistent in voting whilst apathy in the younger and disenfranchised is rife. As I heard a Conservative MP once said those who have something to conserve are more inclined to vote Conservative. However that conservation has proven to be a very selfish thing.

The Welfare State has been increasingly dismantled, education is no longer free, primary and secondary education are a postcode lottery whilst tertiary education is now the perogative of the staunchly middle-classes who see it only as a check box on the way to their graduate recruitment schemes. Universities are talking about ’employer engagement’ and ‘research that matters’ ie is of importance to industry. Education, self-embetterment and the value of thought and philosophy have been thrown out with the bathwater of humanities subjects on campuses all over the country.

Is this really an example of a system that should be held up as a beacon of what capitalism can accomplish? I remember on frequent marches we sang the chant “This is what democracy looks like” well, we were right then, and, I’m afraid you can apply the principle at large. Look around you, this is what democracy looks like, if you’re satisfied then quite simply you aren’t looking hard enough.