Au Revoir, Monsieur Hollande

French President François Hollande wont seek a second term. His popularity was too low and unemployment in France has remained stubbornly fixed at 8 or 10 percent.He had stated that he wouldn’t stand again if employment didn’t move, and indeed we can say that this is the case. So at least he kept his word.

So lets take a look back at the mandate and try to see what Hollande did for France. Indeed, it is from this point of view that I will start: Many people shrug their sholders and say ‘What did he do’ to which my answer is “Well, what did YOU do?”

Holland started with some radical changes to society. He changed the law on gay marriage, and made it possible to get married if you are gay. This has proved unpopular with the traditional Catholic right, and very much appreciated with the liberal left, so 50/50. A dinner table topic of a few years ago, this now seems to be an established right and Hollande probably was right to do this early in the mandate to stop it being overturned when he left office.

Indeed, one could argue that the fruits of a politician’s labours are often seen only when they leave office and the plaudits taken by those who replace them, and I have a feeling that this could be the ultimate truth for Hollande , who has tried too hard to do too much and not given enough timeor been given enough time for the vast worksites to bed down.

Hollande has worked on reforming many many sectors: Education, Employment legislation, French legal and magistrial systems, the French regions, Health, international politics, the environment.. So much to do in so little time.

But at least he seemed to let his ministers get on with it.

And his idea of social democracy reminds us of Gerhard Shroder and his ultimate failures.

So Hollande wont run again and Socialism as a political force wanes. It probably isn’t possible to buy voters with promises of a better futurebut with cheaper taxes or whatever as France is broke. But public debt did fall from 7% in 2010 to 3% today.

However with over 90% dept to gdp rate, France has a dept on par with the UK, but above that of Germany

So Hollande is probably the last President of the 5th French Republic. If Fillion become President, France will become less social and much more religiously integrist, and indeed perhaps loose its famous laique status. A poorer future here.

The hope for France. Thanks Francois. Against a background of terror, indeed, Hollande gave us hope. Hope for climate change action, hope for action on social equality, hope for action against terror.

Yes, maybe he wasn’t a superb strong leader with buckets of charisma, and perhaps he wasted time doing things he didn’t need to at the beginning and the end… but don’t we all?

France will have an election in May to see who will be president and it is my personal wish that thos parties  and personalities on the extremes who seek to tempt people with a vision of quick fixes rather than solid foundations should fail.

2016

2016 has been an interesting year, it’s the year where we’ve seen many celebrity deaths, terror attacks and crazy politics, weather, and as usual, wars, conflicts, flooding and famine.

 

In celebdeaths, a whole list of stars from music seem to have died. Terror attacks in many places, Paris, Berlin, Tunisia, Turkey just to name a few.Crazy weather, with america frozen over as I type and flooding and droughts. War , in Syria , flooding and famine.

Politically we’ve seen Brexit and Trump, and a move towards a selfishness and a loss of citizenship. Global warming has caused climate immigrants, and added to this, its allowed terrorists to manipulate people.

I’ve also written a piece every month, be it poetry or opinion.

 

And so I end it with this piece.

2017 sees elections in many European countries and we shall see if the move to the populism seen this year continues. We’ve seen the older voters really change voting, in Brexit , where the older people voted for it and the younger stayed in bed, thinking that it wouldn’t make any difference anyway, older white people vote in trump, and older white people vote in Francois Fillion in France’s right-wing primary.

I teach these young people, who have either never voted, or will never vote, or just are disenfranchised and disengaged. They don’t know who their  politicians are, except on presidential scale. They don’t know who is mayor, or member of parliament, or european member of parliment, or senator, or even perhaps who is in the government.

The world has a choice. But unfortunately, large parts won’t take part, r can’t see the point in taking part.

Political problems now will melt into insignificance faced with the natural disasters to come. This may seem doom and gloom, but I try to be optimistic. Humans will endure, but at a huge cost.

Humans have to try to reel in the power that cooperation have, and to reel in the tax avoidance tactics, and reel in the influence and lobbyists. We can have a much more just world. It can be done. It must be done.

We need to go back to the ethics and morals that were the norm before we all wanted to be richer, faster, the greediest, forgetting to enjoy what we had already.

We move from fad to fad, in the search for satisfaction, but happiness is in our heads, or in our acts, not in the things we buy.

This year I stopped driving my car 100km per day and took the train

I walk more as a result

I wrote more. I feel better!

People are naturally kind, and are only turned towards bad actions by the things that are around them.

In the end, there is just love.

 

 

The Road from Wigan Pier

Orwell wote in his book “The Road to Wigan Pier” about hardship and poverty, poor housing and hard jobs, your place in society and your expectations and visions of the future, how the working class , or at least the poor people who lived in the slum dwellings in  conditions of extreme hardhips weemed to be glad to have what little that had, as after that there was nothing. You might not have much, but you could , (as Pratchett noted), have standards. The second part of the book reads like a pamphlet .

He states that these conditions can’t continue (I agree, and they didn’t in the main post war)

He says that socialism is a solution infact THE solution to the problems. But he says that there are so many fruitcakes and weirdo’s, people who talk about the intricates ond mechanics rather tha the humanism that most people get fogged by the debate.

Common decency and fair shares was the basic objective. But he lightly forgets the role of time. Perhaps by providing the decent housing and  working conditions and health and eduation, the socialist government forgot that people take pride from their ability to provide and work. If you give people to much, they take it for granted and don’t maintain it, or even fight for it. Too many council houses became burn’t out estates. The doorstep so clean you could eat your dinner off it of my grandmothers Attercliff estate has been replaced by the platic bottles and burnt out sofas, the pizza box living rooms and bins rolling round in the kitchen. A personal view.

I’m not judging these people. Orwell points out that Northern people thought themselves the best, with the exception of the coal workers. He also notes the solidarity and communities, the middle class nblackleg aproach to stikes as this meant promotion, and the general sketch is probably flawed as it bounces on the path of stereotype. So even in the tightknight communities, outsiders were seen as different. Humans always look to put each other in a category. Class, and wealth, job and position.Country and creed, religion and race. “Them and us” rather than “we together”.

 

Orwell records the poverty he sees, and its a view of the shock of economic collapse and unemployment. The end of a society. Only ten years later, his view of a Socialist society came true, and perhaps the slums were almost completely cleared, Council housing was put in place by Conservative yes, Neville Chambelain  and Labour governments. Blocks of flats became the new slums, perhaps, and people forgot their pride when given things , at least in the long run. Good things came of this, the NHS and the welfare state, free education, nationalisation and so forth. But the years wore them down , as governments didn’t invest and finally sold them off in the 1980’s and henceforth.

Orwell notes the real power of coal, which has all but dissapeared in the years since. In 1920 over a million workers worked in the coal industry, in 1930 it was over 900 thousand. In the 40’s 750 thousand men. So we see a decline even before. As late as the 1960’s, 600 thousand workers worked , today, its 4 thousand workers. Before the strike of 1985 there wre 237 thousand workers, after in the 1990’s 49 thousand workers. Coal , and indeed many industrial jobs have declined or dissapeared. Shipping, steel, tin, many heavy and even light industries have gone to low cost countries. Only the industries that offer clear added value in terms of technology or quality remain. Of course, this isn’t entirely bad a smillions have come out of poverty in the developing world, and our economy has evolved to adapt to this.

It shows that socialism is a great idea , but when economics evolves, markets evolve and industry evolves it needs to adapt instead of which it becomes militant. The  road from Wigan Pier is this. The faiure of socialism to adapt, the birth and growth of neoliberalism, the privatisation of common assets, the movement of common wealth into private hands, the withering on the vine of education, health and other sercvices, arts, libraries, as we move towards the idea of price rather than that of cost.

We could say that all is  is inevitable. Globalisation moves jobs and money around. We could mourn the loss of comunities in the North of the UK as coal and steel and ship building dissapeared, or celebrate the fact that billions move out of povery in Asia. Companies look to save cash were they can. Eventually, everyone will earn the same wage. The flat world of Thomas Freidman. But this idea ignores the develpoment of idea, technology and the evolution of industries, just as socialism does.

Supply chain dynamics insits that no countries with highly integrated logistic chains can or even will consider war.The idea that our interconnected world somehow prevents war is shown to be fake with ll the wars around us. Oil, Opium poppies , influence, religion, dogma, all outweigh logistics.

Brexit seems to have thrown a brick through the holy stained window of all these ideas.

Perhaps now we’ll see the bug infested world of  wage slaves come to pass.Or perhaps something else. The road from Wigan Pier certainly will be an interesting on.

History show us, before socialism, we have to endure fascism.

 

Brexit

Brexit. Its a disaster but we have to roll up our sleeves now! After an own goal, you have to try to score again!
We’ve left the EU (or have we?), so lots of things willl happen now. Love him or not, Cameron has stepped down and will hand over to a new pair of hands. He nearly cried at the end!  There will probably be a vote of “no confidence” organised in the HOP organised by Labour.( certainly!  ) with a 14 seat majority, the next PM will have one hell of a job. Its a bigger shambles now than after Mr Brown( God I hope I’m wrong). Everything looked to be going so well, unemployment coming down after a big recession, austerity winding down…. It’s 1979 all over again.
BOE just pumped 250 BN into the economy in the last HOUR (after ECB pumping 800 BN euros per month every month for the last year into european economies= 1 trillion!)
The HOP will probably vote to ask the PM not to enact article 50 of the TOL. But he’s duty bound to do so. However it will be the NEXT PM ( a she perhaps!) who does all this , in 2017 after the election of  a new leader for the Conservatives. So nothing really changes till 2017
Then Either A) the HOP has a vote on article 50 and it goes to the Lords and back again (3 years!). An online petiton to have a second referendum is currently underway and should this reach 100k people the HOP are duty bound to discuss this and currently 58k people  are signed up, 1000 per hour. So this looks probable, but who knows.
B) The new PM decides its his/her perogative as outlined in the TOL and enacts article 50 and we negotiate our way out.( or we don’t, and its a big big mess)
C) What usually happens in Europe: we vote again till we get the “Right result for Europe” whatever than means ( stay is what Europe wants, or does it?) à la Ireland!
Or D none of the above, and we end up with WTO tarifs emposed and we go from there.( and the Best of British Luck)
BOE slash rates by 0.5 % now and 0.25% after, taking us to negative interest rates and helicopter money
A recession is almost certain now. And not just for the UK, but for Europe too.
Mid term Scotland and NI leave, we lose our seat on the security council of the UN, we leave (or are asked to leave) NATO, if Labour win the vote of no confidence then Jeremy Corbyn will be the next PM (or there will be a GE anyway, I’m not sure he’ll win that, but who knows) should he win Trident goes, and we definately leave the EU as he’s anti EU, if Boris or Gove win then goodbye NHS and free education, and we leave the EU too. So damned if you do, damned if you dont.
Other countries will look and see, perhaps others will leave. We’ll join with Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland , perhaps the Netherlands and Finland /some others  to make some kind of Northern European Market Zone, as before the EU. Or be like Norway, half in and half out. We go from 6th biggest economy to the 16th to the 60th. in two decades.
Europe won’t be very friendly to us for a while. France  (well some french politicians) will sharpen their knives, and the other 27 countries will probably put the boot in. We have to persuade 20 of the 28 of our trade and currency, tax and other ideas within 2 years. We we’ll never be let back in, even if we are eating potatoes and starving, nor will we be allowed to emmigrate from the UK into the EU. Ex pats will be forced back to their countries of origin. Unless they take the nationality of the country they live in.
Europe was an attempt to get  rid of  nationalism but in the end “the bloke down the pub” won. Ironic that Boris Johnson, whose hero is Churchill, Bankrupts the country just as Churchill did with gold standard!
Marine Le Pen will win the Presidency and  Donald Trump in the USA. Extremes from left and right will come to pass in Europe.
Currencies will crash, as in the 1920 into a maelstrom of bitterness, poverty, unemployement and insecurity, which extremes will promise to resolve as in the 1930’s and all this leads inevitably to war. The Euro is history, perhaps the pound will hang on…. we’ll probably either go back to old currencies or stricter fiscal and financial intergration…..
Its the end of the UK, the flag will change, the end of the EU, their flag will change. Europe wasn’t perfect and really needed urgent change, which will now have to come.( how ironic!) We’ll see European taxes and laws come into place, and a closer unification, or completely the opposite, a dissolution of Europe. The opportunity for others to leave will be taken away, and Europe will become a much more central (and even less democratic) place, or they’ll all decide it ‘s the end of the party and to go home and sleep it off.
Putin will be grinning from ear to ear and will then ensure those borders Stalin enjoyed are re established all the way to Poland. OR BERLIN. Trump likes Putin, so don’t expect any favours from the USA. Or the EU.
France will be panicking now! If the EU breaks up, they’ll almost certainly have to default and they won’t be the only country in the ex EU zone to do so, ( everyone except Germany is in the mess) and the euro will be ” a broken dream”.
Prepare for war. We seriousy discussed going to New Zealand. If Le Pen Wins, We leave France. No way can we stay.
Of course, perhaps this is the doom scenario and I need to “think positive”
I remember my parent’s generation, the “Colonels from Tonbridge Wells” muttering into their moustaches at dinner parties thirty years ago  in my parents living room  about giving up our colonies, how those “backwards heathen places” would never make it by themselves, but they (in the main ) did. Look at India!.(Well and Zimbabwe too, not so good there…)At the time, as a radical 15 year old, I thought “what nonsense!” So I’ve shaved the moustache, and put down the sherry, hung up the baton and come back from parade.
We’ll continue, as we always have. But it will be a different place when we go back to visit (IF we go back) or If we are FORCED back. Any way, ironic to find our country in the same position as the colonies all those years ago.
We’ll probably end up as Belgium , a small country with no influence and who no one cares about. English as a language starts its decline here, and the world now becomes a different place. Europe has lost its influence, and we look to Asia to carry on.(with south america/africa). That’s been the case for 20 years though. We just didn’t get it!
Its the End! Its the beginning.

In or out?

A very interesting read. http://www.lesechos.fr/idees-debats/cercle/cercle-158050-le-brexit-les-faits-et-les-statistiques-2007382.php

https://idreamofthought.wordpress.com/2013/06/28/the-rise-of-the-far-right-in-france/ my views on France, but a lot of these are true for the UK too.
 

On one hand the UK is an open nation, welcoming people over history,in times of war and crisis, having pride in this facet of our heritage and believing that we should celebrate our differences and work together on our similarities (or the opposite, which boils down to the same thing. This side of the nation, open, welcoming, understanding, compassionate had a large place in our hearts. Then UKip and other right-wing parties grew, not just in the UK but throughout Europe. The National Front in the UK and in France and elsewhere have risen up the political elevator .This points to the other side of our Nation. We hang on to a past of Empire and a phony nostalgia for a so-called golden age. But it wasn’t so golden. 
My parents were both baby boomers, born into Steel and Coal industrial backgrounds, yet both were able to get a free university education and to become middle class. Mum was born in Attercliff, the most polluted place in Europe in the 1950’s but today, thanks to both UK and European legislation steel production continues (although not at the same scale) and pollution has gone. My father was born int the Welsh mining communities, where the choice historically was the Pit or the Cloth or Armed Services. He was able to get out too. Yes, the 50’s offered opportunities, but it was hard before the introduction of the Welfare State by the post war Labour  government. 
My father was born in 1938, my grandfather 1906 . In 1906 life expectancy was 46, yet my grandfather lived till his late 60’s
Today thanks to social, medical and technological advances, we live to 80 /81 and have 38 thousand dollars per person per year. That’s nearly 20 more years and 20 thousand more dollars, despite all the immigration, or indeed because of it. because those immigrants become teachers, doctors, dentists, nurses. We need to move away from the stereo types of the Polish Plumber.
We could very well see some of these social and economic gains go backwards, as other countries have, as China for 100 years in the 1800’s and 1950 to 1960 or Haiti in general. We could see the growth of the poor and the powerless.
 
 We try to keep our country together faced with pressures from outside and from inside, the growth of regional identities and the growth of immigration. Scottish ,Irish and Welsh independence all loom on the horizon , people identify themselves increasingly as “regional” rather than as British. And so we refuse diversity and become permeable to xenophobia, racism and extreme views.
 
We point at stats : in 1950 4% of the UK population were not born in the UK, but in 1991 it was 7% and today its 14% But we forget that immigrants create jobs and pay into the systems that keep our social system, things like  education health care and pensions going.
Then people point at financial arguments, but even Norway pays  447 million euro per year (http://www.eu-norway.org/eu/Financial-contribution/#.V2egf2iLTIU) and they don’t get any of the citizenship or legal protection. The UK pays 35% of its gdp, but smaller countries pay much more http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/images/e/e3/Total_tax_revenue_by_Member_States_and_EFTA_countries%2C_2013_and_2014%2C_%25_of_GDP.png  which shows countries with smaller economies than the UK paying more than the UK. We don’t hear them complaining too much!
Then people complain that Europe rules us, because immigrants were forced upon us from other countries. But morally we had to accept them. Would you rather they died in camps at the frontier of europe or that they came and worked in our communities.
After, the argument that they take “our” jobs, school places, blocking our hospitals or social housing. But theses jobs,places, health care and housing are not “ours” but any one’s. Government has to react and create more of all, thus creating more jobs, and getting in more tax revenue.
Despite all the immigration, unemployment hasn’t gone up. The rate is still 2.2 unemployed people per job vacancy.
(http://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peoplenotinwork/unemployment/datasets/vacanciesandunemploymentvacs01) . This data shows hard times between July 2008 and july 2012 where the rate goes from 3 to 5 and back to 3 people unemployed per job. But this is more of a reflection of the global crisis rather than immigration.
 
At the end of the day the vote is for influence and geopolitical status rather than anything else. Britain as a nation is the 5th or 6th biggest  world economy now, but in 10 years time it will be the 15th or 16th and THAT is when the negotiations will end to leave the EU  should we vote to do so now.
Our place in the UN, in Nato and in the wider world is already at stake within Europe, outside it, we would certainly lose our place in the UN security council and our influence and capacity in Nato would dwindle. This sends all the wrong messages to an increasingly vigorous Russia who have acted with almost impunity over Georgia and  Ukraine.
The EU imposed sanctions on Russia, which were rather more effective than sanctions imposed by just one country, however their effectiveness could and should now be discussed. Putin wants to restore Stalin’s USSR borders, and the EU stands in his way. We fought WW II in 1938 for Poland and they didn’t get their freedom till 1989.
 
The UK decided to stay out of the European plan in the beginning in 1956, and it was only at the death of  De Gaulle that we could come in, in 1972. 16 years of trying to get in! If we leave now we will never get back in. 
We are not Norway, or Iceland or Liechtenstein or Switzerland. Our economy is bigger than all of them combined according to  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financial_and_social_rankings_of_sovereign_states_in_Europe so we have a lot more at stake.
People point the finger at the European gravy train, its lack of reactivity, incompetence, corruption and in the main a lot of this is over estimated or over exaggerated but that is not to say that we do need to work towards improving it.
We need an elected head for the european Continent, as in America. But  unlike The USA we don’t have a common language or culture. So we have a lot of work to do!
 
Our Sceptered Isle, lost in the mists, a mighty warrior , unbeaten by all since 1066, brave and strong. Like Asterix in his village. A cartoon reality.
But we aren’t lost in the mists of the Atlantic anymore. Globalisation and international communication and even the Channel tunnel means that those headlines “Fog in Channel: Continent cut off” are as phony as they ever were, a joke to tell people in a train carriage rather than the reality of the situation.
 
The arguments :
1 control immigration. People who want out will say “we’ll be able to control immigration” but we wont be able to do any such thing. We don’t have the naval capacity to control all the tiny boats that take the risk of the busy channel as recent events have shown. Even if we vote “leave” we’ll have a two-year period where we’ll have to organise things and will remain a member of the EU and this two year period start date is decided by the UK government, so they could delay this as long as they felt was needed to organise things, say 1 or 2 or 5 years and in that time EU immigrants can and will continue to come into the UK. If, as Gove says in an article in the Times here http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/soviet-style-control-freaks-will-worsen-migration-free-for-all-m3rfb6vmb
““Because we cannot control our borders …. public services such as the NHS will face an unquantifiable strain as millions more become EU citizens and have the right to move to the U.K.” 
What hope after we leave when we cant rely on cooperation from other nations ? And what about non EU migration?
 
2 The economy/make Britain “Great Britain” again.
Please!
Boris Johnson wants out, but just 3 years ago he wanted in, and it’s just that he wants to be PM really.
All the serious financial analysis says “stay”.(FMI, FT )
The EU takes 50% of UK exports and we take 10% of EU imports. We need them more than they need us!
3
Bureaucrats. yes its the myth of the banana or cucumber or whatever. But they are just myths.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euromyth)
Or the confusion or the role of the European Council and the European Union.
 The reality is European laws protect your jobs, environment and human rights .
4 Rejection of establishment.
Well ok, I agree, the establishment doesn’t always get it right and that leads people to vote for “boaty mcboatface” as a name instead of “Sir David Attenborough” as a boat name. But let’s face it, the latter makes more sense.
But we shouldn’t dismiss brexiteers out of hand.They have  fears and desires, expectations and needs. We have to work to find solutions
Every issue has this
5 Prices would go down.
Perhaps , but the brexiteers have said that farmers would get the same  as today in subsidies.
Eu prices or world prices. I don’t want to be in a race to the bottom. Prices would go fluctuate, as they always do in world markets.I want to see people able to afford to live in a fair and just world.
We shouldn’t see migrants as obviously different from us, marked out, and unequal, rather we should see them as an opportunity to evolve and progress, by nurturing their talent and welcoming their ideas. Culture and fashion are never static, but evolve.
We keep the things important to us, but also accept those from our adopted country. As an immigrant to France, at Christmas I have “Aperatif” but also “Pudding”. The best of both worlds.
A bunch of sticks is always stronger than just one, so stick together!

 

Thoughts on Europe

Europe is at the edge of reason now, reaching forward for should be hoped whilst struggling not to fall into the abyss.

Europe was a great idea, and is worth fighting for, but it needs radical change to survive and it lack the political will and intelligence to do so.

At the moment Europe faces many fronts.

Economic decline, as Asia rises. In the 80’s, 70% of trade was European , now its 30% of world trade.

The rise of national identity, as the extreme right springs up in many countries. Not just that but the extreme left too. Indeed the mainstream has lost its potenty and has failed to answer the urgent poitical issues, or at least the electorate have been told that.

Immigration. Europe’s poster boy free movement ideals just wash up on the shores as people drown in dodgy boats trying to get here. The Syrian conflict has shown Europe as unable to deal with urgent matters and the Geopolitical power of Russia.

Dissolution. Brexit/Grexit threaten now. Even the fact of the brexit referendum means Europe isn’t thinking about the issues or values, but that their eyes are elsewhere.

Invasion. Russia looked and took Ukarane and will look at the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Nato stood and watched Ukarane and before Georgia and even Cyprus had to be careful. So a not so sleeping bear to deal with.

We need an elected European president, with a European army , navy and airforce. Nato isnt fit for purpose and America isn’t able to prevent collapse. We’ve pumped 800 billion dollars into the economy every month and now look seriously at helicopter money, or cashless society ideas. So we need a new central bank, with central taxes and laws.

If we cant accept this, then it is the END of Europe and all its cronism and gravy train eurocrocy, laws for human rights and employment, protection and prevention.

We don’t need a new empire, we have just got over the last one.

 

27

27 Hillsborough

The years authorities lied

Told us sterotypes were sound

Had us disbelieve our very eves

Hid the facts when all around

Folks were shouting, how they cried

Fought until the grave and ground

Grabbed them took them to the side

Still they fought till truth was found

The facts they couldn’t hide

Redtopragtop’s shame was not profound

Fans marked and then denied.

 

Murdoch’s trash and Maggies Plan

South Yorks police, where’s your pride?

May we never hear from them again.

Fans Walk on with heads held high

Guilty ones to go to trial

Guilty get what fans never did

A fair trail with no sordid

Headlines in a crappy rag

Who dig in dead phones spreading hate

 

Told us of “Filthy yobs

Drunken yobs with dirty gobs”

But they were decent folk and true

Just fans like me and you

Went to watch their team play

Rain and snow, home and away

Told us “’twas the fans that day

Who spat and stole and peed as well

On dead babies ain’t that swell”

Never more the Rag we’ll buy

A load of crap, a load of lies

Perverting justice all those years

Sobbing families all those tears

I’d like to see them rot in jail

But gong’s they’ll get, tis my fear

And they’ll  cash in with their tales.

 

 

Thoughts on “Noise” by Jaques Attelli

Jaques Attelli writes about music turning into a no cost commodity. Indeed he wrote the book in the 1970’s, long before the advent of MP3 of MP4 or downloading or filesharing. he predicted, correctly that music would be free, that we would be swamped with music to such an extent that the demand would be lost. He argued that this would apply to many sectorsq of the economy, that music was a way of seeing the economic and cultural future, that things turned up in music before they turned up in the mainstream. Music changes culture and socio economic norms.

To an extent we could argue that he is correct. Music has become a low cost commodity for bands yet to break through. Bands from the 1970’s such as Gong or Captain Beefheart or even Gentle Giant, or maybe even Yes would never had had the success they enjoyed  if they  launched today. Indeed, struggling artists are common place, and even popular artists struggle to buy a flat, whereas similar sales figures in the 60’s and 70’s would have ensured financial comfort.

We see similar evidence of a crisis of prolifereation in many industry. take publishing, where 3000 books were published in September 2015in the UK alone. Thats an astonishing number, and how do we know what to read in such a sea? I imagine its much like music, so many songs and so little time to discover new talent.

One could argue that talent always rises to the top, and that writers or musicians will alwoays flower if they are good enough, but I also think that marketing and publicity and advertising play a role.

Attelli argues that we could see the same happen to objects in a BBC interview  here, where he argues with the growth of 3D printers the factory could go the same way, and exposes more in this fascinating interview on the bbc website and indeed in the associated radio programme Here he argues we could even end up swapping items with each other and not paying for them in an ultimate future scenario. Time is the only thing that is rare, even unique.

However, as time is the only thing that is rare, craftsmen who create quality bespoke objects using expensive raw materials should still be in demand, as should live concerts or even live readings.

In his book, “The hitchhikers guide to the galaxy” Douglas Adams describes “the shoe event horizon”

from http://hitchhikers.wikia.com/wiki/Shoe_Event_Horizon

“The Shoe Event Horizon is an economic theory that draws a correlation between the level of economic (and emotional) depression of a society and the number of shoe shops the society has.

The theory is summarized as such: as a society sinks into depression, the people of the society need to cheer themselves up by buying themselves gifts. This is usually done through the purchase of shoes (or music or books!). As more money is spent on shoes, more shoe shops are built, and the quality of the shoes begins to diminish as the demand for different types of shoes increases. This makes people buy more shoes.

The above turns into a vicious cycle, causing other industries to decline.

Eventually the titular Shoe Event Horizon is reached, where the only type of store economically viable to build is a shoe shop. At this point, society ceases to function, and the economy collapses, sending a world into ruin. In the case of Brontitor and Frogstar World B, the population forsook shoes and evolved into birds.”

Perhaps we are seeing a “music event horizon” or “book event horizon”, where so many books or records are published/available on the market that people look for different types of books, searching esoteric titles and bespoke books/music, or even one off events such as concerts. So much is published that choice becomes increasingly difficult and the consumer retreats into what they know without looking for new ideas, or they listen to what is popular or what is played on the radio, or what is bought in the best seller lists.(or The top 20).

On the BBC website it is argued “When musicians in the 18th Century – like the composer Handel – started selling tickets for concerts, rather than seeking royal patronage, they were breaking new economic ground, Attali wrote. They were signalling the end of feudalism and the beginning of a new order of capitalism.”

So perhaps we can say that when music in the late 20th and early 21st century became free with streaming, new economic and cultural ground was broken. Indeed the MP3 herelded the end of the music box(cd player or record player) idea.

People will pay Deezer or Spotify to listen to music via subscriptions, but don’t want to own objects. People will look for free music via sharing instead of buying cd’s or mp3.

Perhaps we will see this , and indeed are already seeing this for the written word.

Instead of buying books, people will subscribe to blogs, or even perhaps “Reader’s Digest” type ideas. people will read blogs, where content is free. Ideas that are freely available means a great movement and swash in culture.

Ideas can be copied or even plagerised and passed off as anothers. This is where we will go. Music becomes free, except streaming services, books will become free except digital or subscriber content, objects will be free, easily made and easily copied thanks to 3D printers, and medical advances could be made as it will be “easy” to make organs eventually.

Bronowski said “Our culture is not a culture of contemplation, but of action.It’s by doing that we advance. If our tastes are ruled by one man, we make no invention and remmain static. The hand is the cutting edge of the brain”

Perhaps Demming had it wrong. perhaps its not “plan , do check act”, but rather, “Do, check,act, plan.” Perhaps real learning comes from observing our errors.

Ultimately, perhaps Attelli predicts a move away from industry towards the individual economy, where individuals can produce what they want or even produce what others want , providing a service. Writers will become story tellers, with performances of reading in audiences, hoping that people will buy the book after, or bloggers with a paywall. Society risks becoming less social and having less solidarity , when people see only individual gains they forget the bigger world.

Perhaps a lot of these things have already happened, as people become emotionally disengaged and see too much bad news and too many disasters on TV and in the media that they brush it off as crumbs, only reacting when it affects them directly, and even then, forgetting quickly. “It only happens to others”.

Dictators risk rising up, with a scapegoat mentality, seeing the problems and issues within our society as being casued by factors without. Societies change, and its a very quick process. Homosexual marriage would have been unthinkable for my parent’s generation and completely taboo for my grandparent’s generation. Today it’s mainstream. Perhaps the social structures built up in the post war world will be dismantlet as society changes. The end of  free healthcare, or education and of old age pensions

Defending Greece

Defending Greece

A lot of financial spectators say that Greece shouldn’t have been allowed to join the Euro, but that is true for many Countries ; in any case, they had no choice as part of the European Union’s requirements is that countries ultimately join the Euro unless, like Sweden and the UK, they have an opt out clause. Iceland came back from the dead, perhaps Greece can. Also one could state that even if the figures Greece gave were dodgy, however the Eurozone should have done their job better and investigated the figures correctly.

And then we have to deal with what is, now what shouldn’t have been.

Greece doesn’t have the money to pay back the loans; its big industries are tourism and boats. Boat builders are exempt from tax under the Greek constitution, and if you tax the tourists they choose cheaper destinations such as Croatia. Greek hasn’t got many natural resources such as oil or diamonds to sell. You could argue that they should make more use of geothermal or solar. It needs investment, and they are bust.

However, if we consider Japan, their debt to GDP ratio isn’t exactly reassuring and one wonders why Greece g=has become the whipping boy scapegoat for Northern rich countries who think themselves better because they are richer; The reality is that if asked to do so, NO European country could pay off their debt straight away. Name me a country with no sovereign debt!

Greece will vote in a referendum to accept or not the terms from Europe on Sunday. But many want to stay in the EU. Greece probably needs to default and reform outside the Euro to rejoin at a later date, or do a Cyprus. Indeed, Greece asked for a 3rd bailout only hours ago. The EU parliament would have to agree to that, as well as the German one, so probably “no”. This is when countries put their own needs before that of Europe and its true of both sides; Europe needs stability, and the debt crisis in many European countries (Iceland, Ireland) was caused by bankers buying dodgy debt. But in Greece, the debt’s been there for a while.

Only Spain have defaulted more on debt (http://www.cnbc.com/id/47814564)  in all the other European countries. Only Ecuador and Honduras have a worse record of meeting their debts. – (http://www.historytoday.com/matthew-lynn/greek-economics-drachmas-debt-and-dionysius#sthash.qNJZh7JJ.dpuf)

This underlines the whole problem of the Euro. The dollar is backed against oil, the pound sterling was backed against coal and the empire. The Euro has no backing other than collectivity. If we start to see this disappear, the Euro will follow the same path. The EU needs a sound fiscal policy and not just a joint currency; It needs joint taxes and social care, the same throughout the EU.

Greece needs to reform its constitution and ensure that the tax revenue it needs is forthcoming as well as reforming its social systems. Indeed Europe needs to create a social and financial model for all its countries, which works in all economies.

Germany’s posturing and figure pointing forgets that great economies become poor ones very quickly. Their refusal to aid Greece is as financially unaware as Greece’s debt. Maybe they didn’t want Greece in, but they have a duty to bail them out now they are.

Irony of history

The 70th anniversary of VE day was marked by the victory of the Conservative party in the UK, with the promise of a vote to stay or to leave Europe. Europe was in ruins 70 years ago, destroyed by war, by dogma, by ignorance, by violence and a lack of open mindedness, a conviction of reason based on nothing, and a politic of scapegoats and intolerance.The Europe of the 1930’s saw the loss of the republicans in Spain and a move to the extreme right in Italy, Germany and Spain, with dictatorships being installed and a loss of democracy. Today we see the same move to the right, with nationalistic parties taking the ground from traditional democratic or republican parties throughout Europe, a search for quick solutions where none exist and a scapegoating of immigrants despite academic proof that they create jobs and opportunities rather than take them.

Social structures such as pensions, health care and education are now threatened, as the rich seek to scapegoat poor, handicapped and immigrant populations as being somehow responsible for the communities wider problems, convinced that if you are somehow unfortunate enough to be in these categories, you are the person responsible for this, as well as pointing the finger at the gravy trains, bureaucracy and mastodon that is the European Union.

People do need to try to work to get out of difficulties, as far as they are able, but they need the support of a welfare state rather than the criticism and blame culture. the Conservatives need to avoid triumphalism, the opposition need to offer real alternatives, a real message, and real visions.

Should the UK vote in a referendum, the result will be to leave, and other countries will follow, the end of Europe. Scotland will leave the UK, and other countries will feel the effects of this decision.

Europe’s current crisis is a political, financial and economic one. Sticks are stronger in a bundle rather than being single.