Author Archives: Steve Trevethan

Seeking indicators of totalitarianism and democracy?

In comment to his recent important article The army should not be called as strike breakers, Mr Boddington asserts that “We are not a totalitarian state but the direction of travel is to restrict freedoms”. If so, this is serious and demands that we seek indicators/bench marks of totalitarianism.

Totalitarianism concentrates power, wealth, status and so on and so does Fascism. Like all forms of totalitarianism, fascism contrasts with and opposes democracy. Consequently, the more Fascism flourishes and grows, so Democracy diminishes and becomes more vulnerable. What makes democracy yet more vulnerable are generally accepted attitudes to the effect that, “We are a democracy, so it can’t possibly happen here!”, “We defeated Fascism in World War II.”, “It’s only a temporary thing!”

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington lists 12 Early Warning Signs of Fascism:

  1. Powerful and continuing nationalism
  2. Disdain for human rights
  3. Identification of enemies as a unifying cause
  4. Rampant sexism
  5. Controlled mass media
  6. Obsession with national security
  7. Religion and government intertwined
  8. Corporate power protected
  9. Labor power suppressed
  10. Disdain for intellectual and the arts
  11. Obsession with crime and punishment
  12. Rampant cronyism

Using  the classic “Happy Form” rating system whereby a nothing rating gets a 0 and a severe rating gets a 10, as the writer did,  you get an informative reasonably accurate, if personal, calibration of where we, the citizens, and various ingredients of our society and its governance are in relationship to Democracy and Fascism. You also have a tolerably legitimate indication of where we and the organisations which represent and protect us, are on a spectrum or continuum between the contrasting poles of Democracy and Fascism.

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A socio-economic impert’s thoughts on the OBR’s report and the Autumn Statement

An impert is interested in a subject and tries to find out more about it. The writer aims to become a socio-economic impert because the writer considers it impossible, in reality, to separate “economics” from its inevitable social consequences.

The foundational OBR’s report is in error because it omits sectoral balances. Whenever a government has a debt, the non-government sectors of the domestic, the business and the foreign, must have a surplus. The valid question is the size of the difference between governmental expenditure and its tax gathering. Too much is harmful as is too little. Without this surplus of money, homes and businesses do not have enough money with which to function. As currently presented, “Balanced Books” are a disaster for regular people.

By extension, sectoral balances tell you where money has come from and where it goes, but not necessarily in that order!

Another hidden truth is that inflation is a year on year calculation. This year, pre-conflict inflation is used as the basis for this year’s conflict affected calculation and so is high. Next years will be based on conflict affected inflation figures and so is incredibly unlikely to be other than less.

The Autumn Statement does not differentiate between the causes of inflation. There are various internal and external causes. The current inflation has significant external causes, such as the Ukraine conflict and the opportunistic raising of prices by power companies. The latter are invalid profits because they are out of proportion to actual research and development, production and distribution costs. Again using the sectoral balance model, we  can see that these extractive “profits”  come not from worth or need, but from the exploitation of fellow human beings.

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Do deficiently informed citizens live in a deficient democracy?

Are voting and other democratic functions corrupted and/or negated when significant news is denied, distorted, diverted and/or dissipated?

Some information is, wrongly and rightly, kept secret for strategic reasons. However, when we are confronted with the results of past policies and actions there are no strategic reasons for secrecy. The obscuration of history to protect the reputations of politicians, officials, civil and military comes behind the need for the citizenry to be well informed so that their inputs to the democratic processes may be better in the present and the future.

As is currently the case with the “West’s” leaving of Afghanistan, such information is available if energetically sought and/or stumbled across, but it is sufficiently backgrounded or submerged so that it does not reach the general or national consciousness. It is restricted to a minority who can be disregarded by those who seek to engineer undemocratic secrecy. When the national consciousness is insufficiently unaware, then there is minimal effect on our “democratic” government.

Currently, we have lots of news about the Taliban take over, the horrors they bring and will bring and the huge harm and deprivation that has and will be done to female Afghans. We are not being told about the Afghan government which preceded the first Taliban takeover.

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How sound is our democracy?

The ongoing Paterson affair offers us the opportunity and motivation to analyse our fragile and imperfect version of democracy.

That MPs can, and sometimes do, receive large sums of money to represent the interests of organisations and individuals shows that, if unchecked and effectively unregulated, we are in, or on the way to being, a plutocracy and not a robust, deep democracy.

It would be more efficient to double the pay of MPs and ensure that they did not take monies from the fat wallets, individual or corporate.

The decreasing popular support of political parties makes them ever more likely to be taken over by the fat wallets, which also takes us along the path to plutocracy.

Limiting contributions to a ratio based on the minimum wage would limit this trend. Similarly, paying MPs on a ratio fixed to the minimum wage would bring a democratic facet to the relationship between the rulers and the ruled.

This might help mitigate the continuing inter-generational unfairness of recent decades. The “Deficit Myth” has been used to make tertiary education a commodity instead of an inter-generational gift. This has harmed tertiary education, of which there is not enough range, and impoverished recent generations who have been further harmed by rising housing costs, encouraged by HMG.

Democracy is more than an electoral system which returns a government for which the majority have not voted. One of the two parliamentary houses is not voted for.

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How to beat Johnson’s government on economics

Might election campaigns have the foundations of attractive ideas, emotional appeal and a plausible previous record?

This government has/had strong emotional appeal, especially through its leader. Its ideas have the benefit of being based on the currently dominant economic theory of Neo-liberalism. It is supported, directly and indirectly by the mainstream media which, mostly, bolsters the performance of HM Government.

Opposition parties lack the theatrical style of Mr. Johnson. Therefore attack his language techniques. Ratios of jokes to facts? Ditto facts to inaccuracies. Ditto future tenses to past tenses. Which speech has the most metaphors etc.?

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Whither the Weather? Whither our World?

Awareness and lack of effective action concerning global warming are not new. In 1896 Savante Arrenhuis suggested that fossil fuels would raise the World’s temperature. In the 50s and 60s Messrs. Callendar, Plass and Keeling proved this.

We need to grasp and manage the actual and possible causes of this concern and the lack of effective responses. They include:

• Effects of fossil fuels
• Lack of neutral and benign alternatives to fossil fuels
• International conflicts
• Economic and accountancy theory and practices
• Preoccupations with dominance

Fossil fuels pollute the air with the harmful chemicals which their combustion produces. They pollute water in their production and use. Methane and carbon dioxide emissions trap heat in the atmosphere.

Fossil fuels have been the main energy source due to their relatively low price, the existence of an infrastructure based upon them and habit. Replacing this infrastructure is money, effort, attitude and time expensive but reduces pollution. It may increase local employment, greater locality independence and initiatives. Whisky is one of them!

In the shorter term, fossil fuels are cheaper in money and easier to use, but in the longer term they are fatally expensive in resources.

All costings are flawed without considerations of opportunity costs. Opportunity cost is the lost benefit derived from an option not chosen. In which avoidable ways have we spent money which could have been better spent correcting global warming?

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Privatised Covid Food Aid and Other Examples of Politics in Theory and Practice?

For children in low income families, who normally receive means-tested free school meals, support is provided via cash payments, supermarket vouchers or food parcels, the last being the  preferred choice of the Department for Education.

H. M. G spends millions on food parcel contracts to private companies. Two such, worth £208 million, awarded without tendering, resulted in parcels which did not meet minimum nutritional standards and had a 69% mark up on what could have have been provided by supermarkets. Welsh Local Authority parcels have been excellent and have included recipes. English children have received paltry amounts of poor food, shabilly packaged, sometimes in bank coin bags. 

The Welsh Government is a Labour/Lib-Dem/Independent coalition. It might be labelled “Left-Centre”.

The over-priced, low quality food parcels provided by large companies, often without tender contracts, are preferred by the “English” Government. Such seems to be a pattern, as is indicated by without-tender Personal Protection Equipment contracts, some of which resulted in dangerous equipment. “Track and Trace” contracts were the same.

The U. K./”English” government is single party. It is well to the right of the political spectrum.

This government was elected with the support of many Labour voters who believed that they, and their children, would be better off with a party which offered them benefits, aka “levelling up” and freedom from foreign interference.The actual Brexit agreement, as so far revealed, indicates that you cannot live and function without contact and involvement with other individuals, groups and nations. It demonstrates that the promises of Brexit have not been kept.

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On blood letting, Covid economics and Goldilocks

“It ain’t what you know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know that just ain’t so.” (Mark Twain)

Blood letting is the withdrawal of blood from a patient to address illness, used for about 2,000 years. It harmed patients! William Harvey disproved its theory in 1628. Practice and professional endorsement continued into the 20th century via expert endorsement, “official” endorsement, public trust, inertia, fashion and lack of analytical thinking.

How powerful expert ignorance, endorsed by the powerful, politically and socially, and accepted by an insufficiently educated and ill-informed public can be! And this includes current economics and its “Deficit Myth”. (See Stephanie Kelton’s book of this title which informs this article.)

Our alleged deficit is a myth. We are a currency issuer, not a currency user. Our government does not function like a household which cannot issue its own currency. It cannot run out of money and is not solely dependent upon taxes and borrowing for its spending. “Book balancing” is a theoretical restraint. Real restraints are inflation, employment levels, natural and social resources and infrastructure efficiencies.

Efficient economy balance matters more than budget balance. Increasing “deficits” will not make future generations poorer nor will reduction increase their wealth. Such will depend upon our management of the actual economy.

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Backwards or forwards but no stagnation?

Perhaps the leadership election is time for reflections on our party’s aspirations, policies, practices and assessments thereof?

The “Preamble to our Constitution” presents our aspirations. Perhaps it is a statement of the need for and achievability of justice for the individual, the group, the nation and the World?

It could be a compass for the creation and management of policies, policy implementation and their monitoring. We could then monitor the policies of others too. Thus we could develop ourselves as a party of service, information, transparency and reliability.

Preamble paragraph 1 refers to the state’s role in enabling citizens, and, presumably, their children, to flourish, make the most of themselves and be active and positive members of their communities. To achieve this, people need surpluses of time, energy, wealth etc. So this set of apparently social objectives has a large, possibly dominant, component of economics.

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On Coronavirus and finance

The UK, like USA, Japan and others, have a profound advantage with which to recover from the financial consequences of Covid, if they choose to understand and use it.

They are currency issuers, unlike countries using the euro and the dollar, which are currency users. Unlike currency users, e.g. Germany, Greece etc. financially sovereign nations can always meet future obligations: they can never run out of their money.

Increasing or decreasing “the deficit” neither makes future generations poorer nor richer. Consequently, the Government can and should, without excessive inflation, spend its currency to fully manage the problems and opportunities to maintain or increase the well-being of citizens and children. It neither needs, nor should, let the “deficit myths” restrict its management of the Coronavirus and its consequences.

The government’s ability to spend is limited by the economy’s ability to produce, not the debt.
Dean Baker

It should also be limited by care of environments which include, climate, ecology and societies.

Economics without contexts and compassion is a form of fascism
William Harris

Fiat money gains its authority through being the medium in which a government extracts taxes. Unlike commodity money, with intrinsic value and representative money, representing something with intrinsic value, it is intrinsically valueless. It is part of a government’s “spend, tax and borrow” practices. Taxation creates the demand for the government’s money and so is not a governing factor in governmental spending. Government spends first and taxes some back. The difference goes to the private sectors of the economy. Unless taxation is less than expenditure, private sectors suffer deficits and the economy under-functions. Insufficient taxation results in damaging excessive inflation.

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Is electoral reform the last thing we need?

The last thing we need is electoral reform because we need to think and work in a sequence which results in genuine electoral reform.

The word “genuine” is included because Neo-Liberals, their fellow travellers and their “useful ill-informeds” use the word to describe financial and economic changes which are to the detriment of the general public.

To quote economist Michael Hudson:

The IMF (International Monetary Fund) and kindred Washington consensus bodies demand labour market “reforms” that would reverse the 20th century workplace reforms. The word “reform” is now attached to any policy as an advertising slogan.

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The Death of Capitalism +?

The Corona crisis demands different and more in-depth analyses and syntheses.
Some causes of our poor management are society shortcomings – economic, democratic, educational and informational. These are failures of analytical thinking. Inextricably interconnected, they need addressing as a network.
Power correlates highly with wealth. The concentration of wealth concentrates power. Concentrated power weakens democracy. If we do not manage the continuing concentration of wealth, we connive at the demise of democracy. If we do not expose and oppose Neo-liberalism’s concentration of power, which gathers to itself yet more wealth and power, we are democrats in theory only.
Neo-Liberalism turns nations into financial capitalist entities instead of industrial capitalist ones. This is presented as “economics” but is also profoundly political power playing. “Off-shoring”, which moves manufacturing skills and corporate tax-paying abroad, affects the social equilibrium. It reduces the pay and infrastructures for the many. We become less productive, less skilled and more dependent consumer society and so less confident and powerful and more easily controlled and exploited.
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Neo-liberalism is deceitfully plundering society

We face interactive networks of problems. Some were and are easily perceived, some not. All need analysis and addressing.

The U.K. is amongst the worst performing nations in the protection of its citizens against the current plague.

A chronic cause is under-investment in national health infrastructures.

An immediate cause is serial governmental ineptitude.

A foundation cause is the power of the theory of Neo-liberalism, with its policies of social programme cuts, the transfer of wealth to the wealthiest, the reduction of the costs to “Big Business” and its associates, the opening up of public infrastructures for profitable exploitation etc.

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A tale of two crises?

Embed from Getty Images

In 2007/8 we suffered the financial crisis with the consequent bail outs for the finance industry and restriction/depression for the majority.

In 2020 we suffer the Covid-19 plague.

The response to the first involved the rescue of the finance industry from public funds and the removal of wealth from much of the rest of society. Those responsible suffered no physical or financial hardship as a consequence.

The response to the second has resulted in the deaths among those who are working to protect, care for and support us in the midst of this plague.

The pay or monetary value of those responsible for the first crisis is still remarkably and inefficiently high.

The pay for nurses, porters etc. and for those who keep our society functioning by driving, delivering and collecting remain remarkably low. (Also here)

The hospital, care and delivery people have had their pay kept low, even to the point of starving nurses needing to use food banks. Their situation results from Neo-Liberal Economics theory being enforced by the government, economic and, possibly social weakness and because they care about their fellow humans. The senior financiers, who were responsible directly and/or indirectly for the first crisis, have their pay kept high because they have power, they are protected by government and so many of us believe in or accept Neo-Liberal Economic theory.

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On Policies, Perceptions and Potentials

In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not. (Anon.)

“Lack of social mobility” and “austerity” confront us. Perhaps much of what we might, and might not do, depends upon information, perceptions and attitudes?

In 2019 our public spending is about 38% of GDP, with the USA at about 36%, Germany at 42%, France 56% and Italy 36%.

In 2010 our national debt to GDP ratio was 53%. In 2018 it was 87%. Equivalent 2017 figures are: France – 98.5%; Germany – 64.1%; Japan – 222.3%; USA – 103.8%.

Since 2010, more than £30 billion has been cut from welfare payments, housing subsidies and social services. About 66% of “poor” children are in families with at least one parent working. Between 2012 and 2019, the number of children fed from food banks has more than tripled. Since 2010 homelessness has increased by 169%. The slowdown ln UK life expectancy is one of the highest in the G20 countries.

The above data, our own experience of people begging and living on our streets, and reliable reports that needed, skilled workers (such as nurses) use foodbanks, indicate that “austerity” has done great social harm.

Ten years on, the “deficit” is far from being removed, £billions of welfare budget cuts are planned and “austerity” has resulted in the slowest UK economic recovery in a century.

Perhaps we now need to campaign for its cessation and, if possible, its rectification? (The Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates that “rectification” needs expenditure of at least £12.4 bn above current budgetary projections.)

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On Mr. Assange and Truth and Security?

“Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards”, and “Ha, ha, I hit them”, said the crew of a US helicopter as they machine-gunned Iraqi civilians, including a child, in Baghdad. (12/07/07)

That is part of what Chelsea Manning exposed and Julian Assange published, for which they are prosecuted and punished, apparently unlike that crew.

There appear to be two types of charge against Mr Assange. One relates to rape and one to accessing information about particular behaviours of a nation’s rulers. They are both to do with security – individual, group national and international.

Security matters to all of us and our descendants, for always.

Can citizens be secure when governments connive at atrocities such as that above, work to hide them, and prosecute the truth tellers?

Security needs equitable law, proportionate and accountable force, a well-educated and informed citizenry and a courageous independent main stream media.

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On austerity: Some questions and comments

“The person who proves me wrong is my friend”.

Austerity seems to involve a set of theories and practices whereby the financial and economic matters which resulted in the “crisis” of 2008 are addressed. This seems to involve reducing governmental expenditure on infrastructures so that such expenditure matches or approaches the taxation income. Any difference between infrastructure expenditure and tax revenue seems to be met by governmental borrowing. This facet of Economics seems to be based upon the premises and assumptions of current Economics theory and practice.

The precipitating factors in the crisis are to be found in the USA with its housing boom and the growth in Collateralised Debt obligations and Credit Default Swaps . The three biggest rating agencies gave erroneously optimistic assessments and lots of them. Some financial corporations went bankrupt, some were taken over by the government and some were bailed out. The global financial system became paralysed. Layoffs and foreclosures continued with unemployment rising to 10%. During this financial bubble, the financiers frittered money on the high life and when it burst the personal fortunes of the financial bosses remained intact.

We were affected by this because of our close connections with the USA and our similar circumstances of inappropriate financial regulation, banks being excessively concerned with prioritising profit and income above national economic welfare, weak corporate media analysis, and general public ignorance of economics made worse by the “misinformation spread by the economics profession”. We too have had a “leverage bubble that drove asset prices skyward whilst starving British industry of development capital. We do also have an excessive Private Debt to GDP ratio which is a foundation of the crisis – 70% in 1939: c.160%  in 2017. 

 Alas, Austerity has a net negative effect on the economy and underperformed in deficit reduction. In 2010 it was stated that the deficit would be eliminated by 2015. In 2017/18 the deficit was £40.7 billion, wages had the biggest collapse on record and the mega-rich have doubled their wealth. Might this affect the demand for support infrastructures and reduce tax returns?

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Some More Detailed Questions on the Border in Ireland

With the persistent possibility of a “No Deal Brexit” and a ”Hard Border” the following questions might be of relevance.

As most of the border runs through a country where Catholics greatly outnumber Protestants, how can a hard border be created and maintained without the agreement of its population?

Is it securely likely that Catholics will accept such a border?

How could an international border be created and maintained in the face of sustained protests?

If a “Hard Border” is put in place, will it have to be defended permanently by British troops?

If the “Hard Border” is in a hostile environment, how will the equipment required for a “Smart Border” be kept safe and maintained?

If customs personnel are involved in running this border, how will they be confident enough of their safety unless there are police and British Army protection?

Such protection is highly likely to result in an international border incident involving injury and even death. How will this be dealt with in the immediate and the long term?

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Anyone for a Political Pre-Nuptial Assessment?

Perhaps, at this time of opportunity to work, in some form, with a new Parliamentary grouping, it is appropriate for us to review our policies, in their several forms?

This would enable us to make more sure that our words, actions and ways of communicating are what we want and to be reasonably sure that the degree of match and consonance between the TIGs and ourselves is appropriate for some form of working more closely. We might even find that we do not have policies in areas where it might be desirable to have them!

Although the TIGs may not yet have had time to develop policies as a group, the performances and behaviours of the individuals tell us what their policies are.

It might help to bear in mind that there are at least two parts to a policy. There is the stated policy and what is done in practice. One is the theory, and one is the practice.

“In theory, practice and theory are the same, in practice, they are not.”

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A Basis for a National Health and Well-Being Policy?

The Frome Model of Enhanced Care is a GP focussed, community serving and using way of creating, assessing and delivering comprehensive health and well-being skills, services and attitudes, in, with and for a community, at a low to negative net cost. Its administration is remarkably inclusive, heterarchical or flat.

It is so attractive that it merits awareness, analysis, adoption and adaption to spread its remarkable and measured attributes.

It has delivered 5 years of medical care with social cohesion. It saves money and is more enjoyable! Somerset CCG reckons some £2 …

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Wars are rackets – some more than others?

War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. – – – It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

Smedley D. Butler

Major General Smedley knew what he was talking about. He achieved the highest rank possible in the US Marines and was the most decorated marine.
He said the only two reasons for armed conflict were the defence of our homes and of basic laws and rights. One is an external threat and the other is an internal threat. Currently we face the second.

The defence of one’s homes comes as a result of existential conflict. All other wars are optional.

Perhaps, there is more than one type of optional war.

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Does “Assume” Make an Ass out of U and Me?

Once upon a time our assumptions about interest rates were that they were always in plural digits. Now we accept near zero interest rates and some accept negative interest rates as normal as they have been around for about a decade.

What would happen if currently “normal” mortgage rates returned to their higher previous “normal” rates? What would happen to car sales and the like if we returned to the “old normal” interest rates? How can people and institutions save when interest rates are nominal and interest fruitful amounts of money are so vulnerable?

With near zero interest rates, is the stock market the only actual vehicle for investment income? Is it reliable for the many?

Another previous normal assumption was that massive money creation would result in inflation/excessive inflation. It hasn’t. (Assuming relevant data is accurate). Can we now assume that the massive use of money trees does not, in practice, affect inflation significantly?

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Indirect and Direct Messages…

It was only as I went out of the door of a local building society that I began to realise that I might have been given at least one powerful message through changes that had been made there!

The changes? Now there was a permanent mini-food bank, a collection bucket for the local food bank and a prominent collecting box for the “Samaritans.”

Previously, every banking place I had ever used only ever had items and notices, etc., to do with direct economics. For the first time, items to do with other aspects of life were there too. No longer was finance being kept separate from ordinary, everyday life, in practice if not in explicit theory. My “bank” was now dealing with socio-economics and so facilitating life-money questions and comments!

Does a bank collecting food and money for local people, in an area with high house prices, especially for sea views, suggests that something may be amiss with our policies for the circulation of money?

The growth of food banks is concrete evidence that some of us are starving.

Are starvation and malnutrition structural parts of current socio-economic policies and practices?

A “yes” answer leads us to question what could be done about it. Some might answer, “Nothing!” Others might answer, “Charity.”

A “no” answer results in the need to seek and apply ways to change our current economic policies so that we do not have starvation etc. as a permanent part of our society.

Answers may depend upon perceptions of “The Market”. Does it function efficiently with minimal to nil government involvement? For whom is it “efficient”?

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Where there’s a will, there may or may not be a way forward

In December 2017, a report entitled “The Million Dollar Be-Question” by Laura Gardiner was published by the Resolution Foundation . It is a report worth examining and heeding by both individual citizens and political parties.

Below is the site from which you can download this report which takes less than 25 pages of A4 paper. 10 sides will give you the introduction and “Executive Summary” from which all quotations are taken and paraphrases, questions and comments derived.

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We may not have a monument to Margaret Thatcher but we do have a monument to “Thatcherism”. It is the Grenfell Tower.

The foundation of Thatcherism is the minimisation of the state. It plans and proceeds to reduce government regulation and suppress its spending. It does this without the guidance of long term consequence and human cost.

Tower blocks, like Grenfell, lack sprinkler systems, alarms and secondary exit routes which, before the “bonfire of red-tape”, were the norm. They have been mandatory in New York since 1967. Grenfell proves that they are necessary and yet HMG has not yet withdrawn a press release of 03/04/2016, entitled “Government going to further cut red tape by £10 billion”. It has not reviewed or withdrawn its doctrinaire and dangerously unspecific “One-in, Three-out policy” under which three regulations must be removed every time a new one is introduced.

As well as its economic and social consequences, Thatcherism has affected attitudes, behaviours, relationships and language.

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This election is about protecting our democracy

Remember the Brexit “Battle Bus” with this slogan, “We send the EU £350 million a week lets fund our NHS instead Vote Leave”? It was powerful and “misleading” according to the UK Statistics Authority. Mr Farage referred to it as a “mistake”.

No! “The number plastered on the side of the Brexit bus was a big fat lie.” 

It was not a mistake because it affected the “Brexit” result the way Mr Farage wanted.

In short, we were misled and those who subverted our democracy with this deception have gone unpunished. Therefore it will happen again to further diminish democracy.

Last month the CPS announced that there would be no criminal charges brought against 14 MPs over their expenses in the 2015 election. In March 2017, The Electoral Commission fined the Conservative Party a record £70,000 for “numerous failures” in reporting expenses for the 2015 General Election. For that election the Conservatives raised some £38, 000,000. 

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Idlib gas attack? Is “Not Proven” currently the least worst verdict?


Scottish juries have the choice of three verdicts – Guilty, Not Guilty and Not Proven. This multiple choice is much more real to life than the “English” binary or oppositional choice of guilty or not guilty.

In non-judicial or “everyday terms” the Scottish three-way choice when facing a decision is “yes”; “no”; “I don’t know.” The Scottish choice seems to be closer to real life and so is worth using when considering and possibly taking action on matters of and relating to armed conflict which deals in death, mutilation, madness, theft and profit as well as, if not always, bravery and altruism.

Here are some questions and comments which appear to indicate that a Not Proven verdict is currently the most accurate fit before, it is hoped, an accurate analysis of responsibilities for the gas attacks is made.

How do we know what we are told and shown is reasonably genuine?

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Will current NHS cuts raise prices and lower quality?


Most, if not all economic and political decisions have two prime factors – price and quality. And this includes national healthcare. Decision making involves information. Most, if not all information can be placed on a continuum between the verifiable and the fake. (Ditto “News”!) Here are some verifiable items of information relevant to our NHS.

PRICE: Some national average healthcare costs/prices per person per year:

  • The British pay $3,364
  • The Japanese pay $3,713
  • The French pay $4,361
  • The Germans pay$4,920
  • The Americans pay $9,086

Source: OECD Health data 2013

QUALITY: Some healthcare rankings:

  • United Kingdom 18
  • Canada                 30
  • Japan                    10
  • Germany              25
  • France                    1
  • USA                      37
  • Cambodia          174

Source: The Patient Factor

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Some Military Mathematics?


Mathematics seems to be the most objective, least easily manipulated form of human knowledge. Consequently it can be considered an essential tool for the assessment of political performance.

Here are some mathematical metrics applied to Mr Obama’s presidential performance in military aspects of what is usually labelled Foreign Policy.

However, it is always needful to bear in mind the inevitable effects of military Foreign Policy on domestic policies. Security and spending, including debt charges, are always affected.

Mr Obama has spent annual average of $653.6 billion on US military spending. This beats the previous post war record of Mr GW Bush by an average of $18.7 billion per annum in 2016 dollars.

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Is austerity working? And do all debts have to be paid?


These questions invite binary “Yes” or “No” responses. More considered approaches exist. We need to consider the economic consequences of debt repayment, structural and attitudinal causes and contributions, responsibility for debts both particular and general, beneficiaries and losers, and, how they may be prevented in the future. Also, can such enormous debts be paid?

This requires analysis and accurate, accessible language. In Economics and Finance, that which has different labels is sometimes not significantly different and that which is under one label has significant differences. For example, money consists mainly of credit creation since loans create deposits and loans are debts.

Debt is a form of relationship: financial activity connects and affects people.

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    We should support the ICC prosecutor, who rightly seeks to charge both Hamas and Israel for war crimes and crimes against humanity. https://www.theguardian.c...
  • Geoff Reid
    We all speak as fools in guessing General Ellection results. That being said I can’t help thinking ththat one of the best outcomes might be a Labour small to...
  • Neil Hickman
    I’m not convinced about this supposed non-aggression pact with Labour. One of the few successes for the Tories this month was in a by election in a seat near ...
  • James Fowler
    Holding the balance of power after the forthcoming election would appear so improbable as to be absurd. However, if we do secure ca. 30+ MPs it's possible that ...
  • Peter Davies
    The coalition should have taught us that what you initially negotiate is not that important. Government is mostly about reacting to events and the larger party ...