Search This Blog


Anniversary of Munich Agreement. Chamberlain's Shame.

DSCF2896 01 - Photo Hosted at Buzznet
General quivering optimism from television experts that Congress republicans have had their bit of fun, and will come to heel on Thursday, possibly voting for the same bill they rejected yesterday. And all will be well, after a fashion. 
Even if they do perform this backflip, McCain is now a dead man walking and the Republican Party has lost the election, so what's in it for the renegades? In fact, if they have judged the mood on their reservations correctly, this might be the only way they get to keep their jobs. It's all very well for the American Chamber of Commerce to speak in general terms about those responsible being punished by the electorate:

"The US Chamber of Commerce said the vote had caused "uncertainty and turmoil" in the markets, destroying billions of dollars of household wealth. "Make no mistake - when the aftermath of congressional inaction becomes clear, Americans will not tolerate those who stood by and let the calamity happen," it said."
But if the local electorate is as stupid as their chosen representative, which is likely, the culprits will be rewarded, not punished.
The other words being used are 'failure of politics' - not politicians, or policies, but politics itself, as opposed to business, the military and the church. Is it any wonder? One of the many lessons which may or may not be learned is that politics is not a tap which can be safely turned off for years and still do its job, it is a muscle which has to be constantly used to stay useful.
It would seem that this principle would be second nature to the Thatcherite self-improvement-manual-consuming gymnauts of the sadoku generation. 'Use it Or Lose It' is their dreary motto. But only as far as maintaining the machinery and instincts needed to be an efficient, ruthless, consumer and colleague backstabber, which are the opposite of those needed to maintain and advance a modern society. Fine for a nomadic hunter gatherer tribe, but obsolete since civilisation began in pre-historic Babylon and the Indus delta.
Societies have to keep making decisions which matter, or they lose the ability. The dictatorship of the markets has reduced politics to the status of a desk-clerk in the corporation. A nobhi in Human Resources addressing envelopes and running the stationery trolley; which is yet another echo of 30's Britain, especially, when a series of inert governments and shameless capitalists made the rise of militaristic authoritarianism inevitable.
Then, Britain had to look back two generations to find a politician who still had political blood in his veins, and the cavalry-era Churchill only knew how to wage war, which was why the sensible British people got rid of him once it was won. But who are the politicians of today who still remember how to govern from the front? Who will take the market bunko artists by the hand, take away their snake oil, and find them a desk where they can lead useful lives, with suitable rewards for their efforts and talents? Why should an expert on money be a hundred times more valuable than an expert on curing cancer or an expert at cleaning the sewers? Which is more important to the basis of civil society?
 Another term being used is 'market free-fall'. Namely, the gap between now and any decision by Congress when marketeers and
politicians will be doing what they need to do, assuming that there is a decision in Congress. If not, the Rosh Hashanah Massacre will be a fact, and a new economic Ice Age will return - according to most experts, of all political persuasions. (All news of any optimists extremely welcome.)
China is being suitably Confucian at the moment.
Deng Xiao Peng He say:-

"Confidence Is More Precious Than Gold."

Fat lot of use that is.



The Day The Sky Fell In

T.R.U.E. Prince's Trust Shelter 4

After today's failure of the American political machine to act in defence of the economy, it's obvious that in the generations since the cult of the free market became fashionable, the managerial instinct of the political classes has been bred out of the pedigree. So that now, when the state needs to assert its authority and meets its responsibilities, it doesn't have the genes for the job. Like expecting a poodle to hunt a stag.
The banks have been on strike for some time, now the state, represented by the US House of Representatives, has abandoned its post. Who else is there for the electorate to trust with managing their general security?

McCain's Had His Chips
The Republican Party is now in tatters, having rejected its own leadership and its candidate. Who will Republican voters be voting for?
This will also reflect a wider split in the country as a whole between those seeking a progressive solution and those retreating even further into the myth of the free market which caused this mess in the first place. Which is also a choice facing the rest of the world, it seems. Hopefully the polarisation will not go as far as it did after the last comparable crash,
the 20% in 1929, because the falls today were still only around 6%. But commentators are predicting that if the markets continue as they did today, with still another 3 days at least to fall before any new deal is struck on Capitol Hill, 20% might not be just a nightmare. If the effects on Main St are as accelerated by the global communications as the crash on Wall Street, mass political extremism could re-emerge in America. Led by the existing lords of organised crime, most likely, who will look like honest Robin Hoods compared with the sleazy conspiracy of jobsworth politicians and rapacious corporations fighting for their own survival. After all, Gangsta Rap turned out to be right all along.
There are European hints at some form of international initiative, possibly involving the Chinese, who have a lot of stake in western markets. Peter Mandelson has just returned (again?) from China as full of beans as a Mitford from Nuremburg, calling for increased investment and general pulling together.
Anorak Obama took the opportunity to attack the 'philosophies of greed' in very general terms, sounding more like Harold MacMillan in his 'I'm alright Jack' phase, than a man of destiny. Much more. Even though 'No Welfare For Wall Street' is probably a good enough campaign slogan.
The fact is that Computer-driven global consumerism is simply too hot for C19 industrial capitalism to control. The instant transfer of assets and information, and the processing power available to make complex Game Theory projections of the market, have been key factors in creating this crisis. And many saw the dangers of electronic distribution and exchange systems which could turn irrecoverable debts into commodities and hide them in a labyrinth of transactions until they infected the entire credit system. Which is exactly what has happened. Cosy, middle-aged oil-fed postwar capitalism discovered crack cocaine and didn't have the constitution to survive it.
bank strike


Banking Strike - Holding the World To Ransom

In spite of all the all the apocalyptic predictions, the banking fraternity is still holding out for its claim of 1 Trillion dollars before it will go back to its job of providing credit.
If a trade union was to take such action, it would be immediately branded as a blackmailer 'holding the public to ransom' for its own selfish interests. But as these are some of the richest men in the world, and their industry is a powerful enough to be a major political force, their demands must be met without question.
If and when the dust does settle on this predictable collapse, which today saw the Archbishop of Canterbury citing Marx, any thinking human being will want sane people running the asylum, or better yet, a sane system in the first place. 
crash08 bank strike


The Trillion Dollar Trick. Margaret Thatcher R.I.P.

Meltdown Monday

The age of Reagan and Thatcher is over. Everyone's agreed on that. The US taxpayer is paying for its government to nationalise property in a desperate bid to stop the international financial house of cards from collapsing. As it will be again in 20 years time, or less, given the same culture of greed and competition. It will be no use saying 'We told You So' then, either.
The real money wagered on this desperate attempt to save the markets from themselves has to come from somewhere. And unless the taxpayer already footing the bill is also expected to suffer fewer hospitals, schools and transport improvements, then the age of the corporate tax-dodge has to be over. The biggest free lunch in history has closed its All-You-Can-Eat buffet.
The inherent ability of the Chinese dictatorship to endure more financial hardship than Western democracies will pose a greater ideological attraction than ever. The Beijing Olympics really couldn't have been better timed. And the new oil-rich, Russian oligarchy may have McDonalds and iPods, but the bulk of Mother Russia still knows what it is like to suffer, and will merely see a great world depression as their generation's rite of passage, and blame it on the west, as they always have done. Both these dictatorships will seem more cuddly political animals to a property-harassed western electorate trying to recover from the blessings of unbridled Consumerism, and hoping to find a way of not repeating the experience.
One lesson of this week is that competitors do not co-operate even in their own survival. The truth is that, with the amount of sheer technological power and historical experience available, the social need for competition has shrivelled to almost nothing. The same power which could be used to provide a decent standard of free life for everyone has been used instead to fuel competition for its own sake. The result being the chaos of regular Depressions, constant wars, the manipulation of the food markets to create profit and starvation, and the sabotage of the climate.
The market-worshipping ideology fashionable until last week was still operating in the Steam Age. It was historically obsolete. A deliberate, perverse attempt to hold back the process of technology which tends to make the lives of more people more bearable and reduce the need for competition and war. The social formula which states that the more technology is available, the less brute labour and competition are necessary to maintain a civil society.
A certain ratio of competition to co-operation has always been needed, but with each labour-saving, information-sharing, pain-relieving advance, there is less need for human beings to fight each other for their survival. The required amount of conflict today must be down at spice level, from its heyday as a bulk staple in the stone age recipe. Never has more technology been available, but making it work for people is not profitable, while making it produce cheap Kalashnikovs, cosmetic surgery and sub-prime mortgages is very profitable - for a short time. But short term profit is now discovered to be a very dangerous thing, it makes planets uninhabitable, and if allowed to rampage, will mean there is no long term to worry about. Wall Street and the City of London will be under thirty foot of water.
This week was another warning that if we insist on behaving like cavemen, we will probably end up being cavemen.

"freaky friday" "meltdown monday"


Saint Palin's Epistle To The Americans

How should vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin now phrase her moral Vision to her chosen flock? Speaking as a mother?
She has to make a speech this week to reassure her political heartland, reassert her moral authority, and at the same time burnish the image of Chips McCain's political judgement. How the hell does she do that when her randy daughter is off screwing Redneck ice-hockey players? If she pulls it off it will be an oratorical miracle.
Perhaps some help from the good book might be in order:

"That is, I may be comforted with you by the mutual faith both of you and me."
(letter to Romans. Ch1 V12.)ma


From Crunchie to Crusty. The Value of Your Home Will Go Down.

The package of assistance for Crunchies at risk of repossession has naturally raised the old question of personal responsibility and the virtue of the modest, sustainable lifestyle; of living within your means and other subversive Dickensian notions - often in newspapers which exist because of the advertising they sell which urges people to get in as much debt as possible. This hilarious wave of anti-consumerist moralising from the crunch-crazed high priests of Consumerism entirely misses the point.
Whatever Alastair Darling announces, the object of the exercise is not to 'bail out' the individuals, however feckless or misled by the massed propaganda of the market, but to bail out the market itself. Rescuing individuals from eviction will deliver a new generation of healthy consumers again, and prevent them from dropping out of the cycle of work and spend, thereby feeding the market again in due course. A consumer saved is a consumer earned, after all. And we can't have them all turning into disillusioned crusties, can we? And it's a short step from Crunchie to Crusty.
An added bonus is that this 'getting and spending' lays waste their powers as it did to every other generation, smothering understanding under a routine of drudgery and gluttony.
Help for mortgagees about to be made homeless is not the mythical Nanny State of right-wing fantasy, mollycoddling the individual and creating a nation of children, but a purely pragmatic way of mollycoddling a market which has feasted not wisely but too well, so that it can keep on doing so. 

08/08/08 Olympic Final

Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone says that London should simply abandon its 2012 commitments in despair at the majesty of the Beijing games. "I can't see how anyone can follow that." he said to the BBC. Which raises the question: if not London, then who? Was Beijing the last Olympics? Others in awe at the achievement of the People's Republic of China have called on London to spend more on the games; to match Beijing's budget.
London is budgeted to cost less than half the Beijing games, on paper. This doesn't really take into account the difference in labour costs, or the difference in the compensations paid to those displaced by the construction work, or a host of other extra expenses caused by not staging the games in an authoritarian regime. So these comparisons are hardly relevant.
There are also those pointing out that the games were conceived in the 7 years of plenty, and now we are into the years of famine. In which case, the London Olympics could be an enormous stroke of good timing, providing a classic recession-busting hero-project, like the Hoover Dam, and cushioning London from the worst excesses of the global economy. Some 3,000 construction jobs have been created already, before much of the main work has even begun, and before the main purpose of the games - the regeneration of east London and the construction of thousands of affordable homes, has even been fully planned.
Apart from the ridiculous 'feelgood factor', the real lesson of something as apparently daft as the Olympics is that enormous collective projects are possible, and desirable, even if they do not intend to make a financial profit. And that therefore, if we can co-operate to do this, why not solve a lot of other, more pressing problems?
This is why the right-wing press need to trash the London Olympics, as they did the Manchester Commonwealth Games and every other major state-subsidised project from the NHS onwards. They contradict free market dogma, and therefore must not be allowed to succeed.

Beijing Olympics 2008