Millennium’s Credit Crunch Diary… January: So is it our Winter of Discontent now?

January was a GOOD NEWS / BAD NEWS / MORE BAD NEWS kind of a month.

The GOOD news was that no one shot new President Barry O at his inauguration (unless you count the Chief Justice helping him shoot himself in the foot); the BAD news, dominating the first half of the month, was the hand-grenade of heavy-handed retaliation that Israel chose to lob though the window of opportunity presented while the Monkey-in-Chief was still in the Oval Office; the MORE BAD news was the continuing financial apocalypse, now officially a recession. (Like we didn’t know!)

Economic crisis, businesses failing, jobs going, wildcat strikes, the country grinding to a halt under a frozen blanket of snow achieving what even the Blitz didn’t manage: the London busses cancelled, and a Prime Monster who never faced a General Election and who’s hung on too long after his opportunity to go to the country for his own mandate and who now faces a pronounced slide in the opinion polls… it’s EASY to see that it is all HISTORY REPEATING.

Easy… and a load of total HONK.

Where the Winter of Discontent (1979 edition) was the ultimate expression of Government messing hands-on with things they didn’t understand and crashing into excessive application of feudal trade union powers (they’re not called union BARONS for nothing), the current mess is a result of Government abdicating all responsibility, regulation that was not so much “light touch” as “eye off the ball”, and unfettered greed-based capitalism finally reaching meltdown.

In 1979, the Conservatories had a coherent (if, to many, repellent) philosophy and offered a GENUINE alternative to a Hard Labour who were out of ideas. Today… the Conservatories “alternative” is… ummm.

Hilariously, the Honourable Member for Romulus West, Mr John Deadwood, continues in his neo-Ingsoc attempts to rewrite history by now asserting that his “bonfire of the regulations” think piece (floated at Conservatory conference just before the inadequately-regulated Northern Rock-and-a-Hard-Place Bank IMPLODED) was in fact calling for MORE regulations not fewer. Black, also, is white and he should watch himself on ZEBRA CROSSINGS.

In fairness, the Hard Labour Government STILL wants to mess with things that they don’t understand and cannot control. But now it is our personal (and moral) behaviour rather than large nationalised industries. “Don’t do that, it’s bad for you!” “You’re eating too much” “What BAD mummies and daddies you are!” ASBO’s all round.

Nevermind the snowstorm; it’s the BLIZZARD of NEW LAWS that blinds us to the essential INACTIVITY of this Government.

The Government chose a VAT cut, rather than a direct tax break, because they said it would get money into the economy FASTER, palming off responsibility onto companies to deliver it. Whatever the longer-term benefits, it clearly HASN’T had the short term shot-in-the-arm effects that were wanted. If anything it has COST businesses more in all the re-pricing and changing of their tills and billing systems. And the DÉJÀ VU all over again of a SECOND re-financing package for the banks has left us all thinking what happened to all the money from the FIRST one? Contradictory instructions as to whether they require the banks to lend more or save more haven’t helped to un-jam the economy. And what has the Government DONE with its controlling interest in Northern Rock or Royal Bank of Scotland? Let them carry on just as before, would appear to be the answer.

Mr Frown’s reputation refloated because he gave the impression of having a PLAN. That SINKING FEELING is the realisation that he doesn’t.

Into this power vacuum come those Old Trade Unions, finally seeing an opportunity after being cowed under thirty years of Conservatory rule (what, you STILL think that “New Labour” was a front for the SOCIALISTS???). And they’ve taken a TYPICAL Hard Labour route, a path of least resistance, playing on old fashioned working-class XENOPHOBIA.

“We support the free movement of workers,” say the Union leaders. “We want our lads to be able to go to Europe and take their jobs. We just don’t want any of them Europeans coming over here and taking ours!”

Give me fluffy strength!

“British Jobs for British Bulldogs” was BORDERLINE RACIST when Mr Frown said it the first time. Throwing it back in his face as an excuse for MORE racism is frankly NAUSEATING.

Worse than that is it STUPID. It might SEEM like good sense to “protect” local jobs at the expense of, er, non-locals… but that is exactly the WRONG idea.

Of COURSE an Italian construction firm with a standing workforce, established management, economies of scale and experience to place them well up the learning curve is going to be able to undercut inexperienced locals hired piecemeal.

Besides, what is WRONG with them undercutting the alternative? Isn’t that the POINT of a market economy – to find a “true” price by allowing suppliers and customers to work out what they are willing to pay/be paid? If the cost of construction is kept down then (at least in theory) we ALL benefit from cheaper energy. It we artificially increase the costs, then we all pay MORE, AND that has further knock-on effects as other producers up their prices to maintain margins.

Hello, Great Depression.

And the fact that these EUROPEANS will be constructing facilities which will provide LONG TERM employment for plant workers (who may very well be hired locally) seems to have passed everyone by.

So suddenly, there are pickets and protests all over the place. (And just WHERE do all of those “spontaneous” printed placards come from, anyway?) And the people in charge of our ATOMIC POWERS STATIONS (surely they are supposed to be the COMPETITORS of the oil workers) are going AWOL and I’m sure that THAT’s a very SAFE and not-likely-to-result-in-nuclear-explosion idea.

At this point I should PRAISE Lord Mandy Mandelbrot, the Fractal of Darkness, for telling them straight that this sort of protest IS NOT ON. (And equally for slapping down Mr Alan “I work for the Trade Unions” Johnson& Johnson, Secretary of State for Drug Companies, and Mr David Blanket, the former Security Blunkett, who were both eager to suggest that this is some sort of Euro-scam. See what I mean about it being a line of least resistance for Hard Labour?)

And, to his CREDIT, President Barry has spoken against protectionism too and CRITICISED his own side for attaching a “Buy American” clause onto his famous economic stimulus package. We’ll have to see if it’s more than fine words.

January is always the HANG-OVER month. Spending like there was no tomorrow was never going to outlast the holiday season; people wake up after Crimble and New Year and with bleary eyes, face the year ahead and say “ugh!” In the cold light of day, they cut up the credit cards and cut back on the non-essentials (and try to cover the downpayments on their new Travel Cards).

It is also the month where we see how we are REALLY going to face up to a year of recession. So far, the answer appears to be “not well”.

Recommendations for the month:
(1) while remaining mindful of the carbon footprint, don’t be ashamed of buying imports if they’re cheaper. If we can keep the economies of China and India going buy buying their stuff, then they will help ours by being able to buy the things that we make in return. World trade is GOOD.
(2) support the formation of LOCAL banks, credit unions or building societies. Smaller banks are easier to regulate AND more responsive to the needs of their customers AND easier to rescue if they go Crazy in Vegas with the savings fund.

* Millennium Dome, Elephant, blogs at his Very Fluffy Diary here.

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This entry was posted in Humour and Op-eds.
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3 Comments

  • Bruce Wilson 10th Feb '09 - 3:28pm

    Millenium Elephant is rather funny – in an off-the-wall wacky sort of way.

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