Sunday, 18 June 2017
Saturday, 27 May 2017
Saturday, 20 May 2017
Sunday, 14 May 2017
The issue with Theresa May is that she is stuck in a record of strong economic management and the need to be strong for a 'hard' BRexit. So far, she seems to have shown little willingness to listen and seems dogmatic on an approach to exit that doesn't seem to be taking into account realities. As a leader, she seems to welcome the use of military force and unwilling to hear messages that suggest the economy and society might be racing in the wrong direction. Her message seems to be trust me, I know where I am going but what I see is that she hasn't a clue where she is going or she is totally unable to communicate it.
I doubt whether either the Conservatives or Labour could work as a minority government having to negotiate policy with minor parties or each other for the best for the UK. The idea of government and opposition is so ingrained in British politics that they do not know how to arrive at a consensus to deliver government that is the best interests of the nation.
Is there an alternative to dependency on Europe or some other external market? I believe there is and I believe it doesn't mean isolation from the rest of the world. Let me try to explain.
The health of any nations economy tends to depend on the health of the world economy. This is because we have headed toward global markets. As a result, an economic blip in one country tends to vibrate around the world causing economic shocks or blips in other nations.
What would happen if instead of focusing on a global market, we focussed instead on vibrant, sustainable local markets and communities. This isn't to eliminate trade between communities but it is about giving priority to the health of local markets over the larger world market. If local markets are healthy and providing the bulk of the essentials for a local community then there is less likelihood that a local glitch in one economy would rebound through other local economies. This doesn't stop local economies and communities helping each other when times are tough but does remove the effect of global economic impacts.
A local sustainable market would have its own currency and have control over its own currency. The objective of the local currency should be on ensuring that local resources can be interchanged in an equitable manner to meet needs. This means it can be used to facilitate the local economy without concern for wider economic activity. To understand how this might happen, you need to understand monetary systems including the way money is created and how the money supplied is maintained. There should always be enough money in a local economy for it to buy and sell the goods and services that it produces provided there is no over supply of those goods and services. The foundation of money is a promise to supply goods and services to the value of the currency. Just a word of caution, I place the emphasis on meeting needs and not on building artificial markets. The way we construct local markets will influence rates of resource consumption and wastage. Excess goods and services produced by a community is what it uses to exchange with other communities for goods and services which it is unable to produce for itself but again the focus should be on need and not maximising profit or growth. Being sustainable means that it wants to ensure a continued viability in the local market and community and not extract current goods and services for short term gain at the expense of longer term viability.
There are other advantages of local economies and these relate to community spirit and community building. The global economy tends to draw people away from their local community and consequently decrease local dependency and interaction. This also means a decrease in the awareness of need within the local community. Restoring a local economy helps get people interacting on a local basis and builds more awareness of each other's needs.
Interaction between local communities starts at regional level and then a national level finally leading to exchange between nations. At all levels, the focus needs to be on satisfying needs and ensuring sustainability. As soon as it switches to maximising profit or return on services, the community spirit is destroyed and inequality will increase.
So, I could accept BRexit if I saw more vibrant sustainable local economies operating in the UK. Since I don't and I don't see any group advocating BRexit promoting such a strategy, I don't believe BRexit is a good idea.
Sunday, 23 April 2017
Last night, we went to watch a documentary movie called “I am not your negro” (Baldwin and Peck, 2016). For me, it clearly emphasised the attitude toward people of black skin that existed and continues to exist in some areas. The film makers are clearly looking back but at the same time, they are commenting on more recent events in the USA that relate to the way people of colour are treated. In an interview sequence in the film, an academic is brought in to join a TV discussion of the race issue and he tries to broaden the issue to say that it isn't a race issue but an attitudinal issue toward people of different status. Like Baldwin, I agree that it is predominately skin colour that determines the position of the black American. It isn't the black person's social status or work status.
However, I want to also emphasis that there is still social class discrimination in existence in a number of places around the world. At this moment in time as the UK faces an election, I want to say to the UK's political elite, “I am not your economic slave”. When I hear many of Britain's political elite talking about making the economy work for the people and I look at the statistics available on wealth or income distribution over the last 70 years (Office of National Statistics, 2017; HM Revenue & Customs, 2017), I have to conclude that by “the people”, they mean the wealthy or what they might call “the wealth generators”. In watching a Murdoch Mystery, I heard one of the actors talking about the impact of automation saying that the people would enjoy the new leisure time and wealth as a result of automation. The political elite and the Murdoch Mystery writer share the belief that somehow the system will distribute the wealth even to those put out of work by new technologies or in labour intensive jobs. The reality is different. Wealth accumulates where wealth already exists.
The clear message from many politicians holding the more conservative framing story of the world is that we have to work to pay our way and if we don't work, we shouldn't expect to receive a living. So who actually gains from automation or improving production. Is it the workers or do we have to create meaningless jobs to ensure the displaced workers still have a way of earning money.
The clear message is that we have to work. That is we have to be economic slaves. So where Baldwin and the film maker want to say “I am not your negro”, I want to cry out, “I am not your economic slave”. Yes, I am willing to work but the elite have to ensure that what I receive for that work enables me and those like me or worse off than me to enjoy the same benefits of the so called economic progress.
On a more personal note, I want to say to many employers and work colleagues, “I am not your 'work position' slave” or “I am not your intellectual inferior”. I want to say this because I see the attitude of eliteness or discrimination as a basic problem in societies. I have heard in discussions comments along the lines of 'person x' should not receive any more since they are not contributing to the new knowledge, new product, new … or 'person y' shouldn't be given the position in field z because they are using the methods of that field and we don't think those methods are appropriate (i.e. are not as good as the methods my field uses). These are attitudes of snobbery and elitism that lead to the problems of slavery and exploitation.
So like Baldwin, I want to say there is no place for giving status based on skin colour but Like Martin Luther King, Jr., I want to recognise the wider problems created by inequality, our current economic thinking, and discriminatory practices.
James Baldwin and Raoul Peck, 2016, I am not your negro. France: Velvet Films.
Office for National Statistics (2016) Equivalised disposable household income (dataset). Available from: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/personalandhouseholdfinances/incomeandwealth/datasets/equivaliseddisposablehouseholdincome.
HM Revenue & Customs (2017) Personal income statistics 2014-15. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/608854/National_Statistics_T3_1_to_T3_11_publication_2014_15_revised.pdf.