At the End of the Day

There was a woman busker at Villareal market this morning. She played like Richie Havens, sang like Amy Winehouse, had the sultry looks of a Cambodian/Malay fusion – and oozed a jazz guitar instinct that made me realise she was none of those people – just a lot more.

It was all bit pathetic on my part. My knees turned to marrowbone jelly as I pinged a euro into the Collection Hat, and told her she had great and original talent. Not because I wanted to make love to her – although believe me, I did – but because she does have more talent in her fingers, fret formations and fulsome voice than the last five X-Factor winners put together. And as I wandered off, transported by her words (about how kind and good I am, and yes, she’s right, I am) towards Cloud 27, I thought about all the raw talent out there being ignored by process-driven TV talent show bollocks. I thought about how much I’d like, every single morning, to dunk Simon Cowell’s grinning, brainless head into a vat of hot custard – and just to be really fair – ignore his screams for anaesthetic. But chiefly I thought about all the astonishingly original creative talent today playing for pennies in markets, when formulaic Rambos and Bimbos are blubbing on telly about being voted out.

Neoliberalist economics are all about formula and process – and from that meagre double-edged source, nothing fresh ever emerges. Because Friedmanites want only bums on seats and instant ROI, they look for the revival, the genre, the repeat, and the crossover until the dead horse thus flogged is stripped down to the all-too-familiar bone. What they do not like under any circumstances is moving beyond the comfort zone, showing some patience, and allowing the new to gradually take over from the worn-out deadbeat.

Neoliberals only have one idea: more money for meeeeeeeeee. As a philosophy, it is stagnant, uncreative and stuck. It is also, before our very eyes, falling apart. Badgers aren’t in reality that bright. But cornered badgers are vicious. Caveat emptor.

Ironically, neoliberal economists follow a risk-averse philosophy. Sadly, this is the very antithesis of what risk capital is supposed to be about. What the Murdochs, Berlusconis, Dimons and Diamonds want is 100% of their rivals wiped out. Because none of them are capitalists in the best sense of the word – ie, people whose voyager gene can create broadly-based wealth: they’re monopoly, Trust-operating people with an OCD problem about amassing money. Orson Welles’ creation of the filmic character Charles Foster Kane was a masterpiece that will never be equalled….although I’m indebted to a Slogger for reminding me of Peter Cook’s vastly underrated 1960s film The Rise & Rise of Michael Rimmer – in which the psychotic Rimmer is marvelously portrayed by Cookie himself.

Finally, nobody should forget The Picture of Dorian Gray – a brilliant novella by the doomed Oscar Wilde.

Jeremy Hunt is Michael Rimmer. David Cameron is Dorian Gray. And Rupert Murdoch is Citizen Kane…even if the Welles character was in turn based closely on the Edwardian tabloid beast William Randolph Hearst. The heartening thing for me is that most aspects of Friedmanism thus suggest a throwback, not the future: all the characters in the above fiction – like most of those in Trollope’s novels – date from 70-130 years ago.

Hitler himself was a throwback to Nietsche, and the rabid Mitteleuropa nationalists of the 1830-70 era. The thing to remember is that this sexually and politically perverted oddball wound up running, at his peak, the whole of Europe and North Africa from Moscow to Tobruk. Vigilate.

This site is about support for vulnerable talent, and the control of powerful process.  I do very much hope that the beautiful busker in the market square makes it. I do very much wish I was 30 years younger with the ambition to be her agent…and lover. I do very much expect that Jeremy Hunt will come to a sticky end. He is, after all, a bloke who can only win by cheating. Where I hail from, we call such people losers.

The amusing conclusion to this evening’s piece is that, being a doddering old twit, I’d forgotten my family was arriving here this evening. Much washing of sheets and kitchen floors ensued during the day. I’m looking forward to the week ahead.

Earlier at The Slog: The Saturday Essay suggests a new idea – a political Chamber devoid of politicians

32 thoughts on “At the End of the Day

  1. Mr Ward are you likening yourself to a cornered badger?

    The thing about all life is it adapts to adversity, a real neat trick that. Well one day, with enough evolution the badger may a semi-automatic wielding one and pay back would be a bitch :-)

    PS Internet connection is now hardened and all assumptions if you can believe in many occurrences in such a short period of time of so many things tends to imply some part is likely true.

    Have a nice day :-)

  2. Your comment about Jeremy Hunt struck a chord.

    I was working with a chap on Thursday who was incandescent with rage. He and one other fellow had been left to run a site which normally required the attentions of a team of at least five; the other three had telephoned in “sick” doubtless because they fancied a day out in this glorious sunshine. He remarked bitterly that he had not taken a day off sick in nearly eleven years but that he was tempted to do so on the morrow because there was a local county fayre to which he could take his family. He’s a good guy and it saddened me to hear this; I said that, at the moment, he could look at himself in the mirror because he had not descended to their level. Surely that was beyond price? He smiled ruefully and admitted that he wouldn’t have been able to shirk his responsibilities.

    Britain is full of people like him – bloody good folk who, every day and without fuss, quietly get on with being the best they can be. What a crying shame it is that this ethos is so hard to find in the ranks populated by such onanists as Jeremy Rhyming-Slang.

    • ‘Britain is full of people like him – bloody good folk who, every day and without fuss, quietly get on with being the best they can be.’
      This is very true but, also allows these scumbags to operate with impunity because they know, there’s a good person out there to cover…..

  3. …I’d forgotten my family was arriving here this evening….

    Dear-god, don’t go down that road yet, we need you! Some great posts recently, which I have passed on.

  4. At first this piece seemed all over the place, but then it was oddly moving and finally very incisive, as usual. Keep up the penetrating writing Mr. Ward, as well as cleaning those old French floors.

  5. The ‘Syco’ (aptly named) Simon Cowell’s scam is nothing about talent, save making a few more millions if they come across some, it’s about Simon Cowell, and just how much money can he make. That and the little Irish fake Walsh, they represent all this world could do without. I never fail to understand why such a pantomime goes undiscovered by so many, but then again, I suppose I do really…

  6. Just spent 2days in Beaune,en route to Les arcs ,eating gastronomic food and fine wine. Missing work? No chance. Live the dream

    • and I quote from citation above:

      “Before Goldman bought Metro International three years ago, warehouse customers used to wait an average of six weeks for their purchases to be located, retrieved by forklift and delivered to factories. But now that Goldman owns the company, the wait has grown more than 20-fold — to more than 16 months, according to industry records.”

  7. O/T but I have just finished reading about a US citizen called Mr Zimmerman who shot an unarmed black teenager. He is complaining he is too frightened to leave his house because he is scared of “vigilante action” against him.

    Americans simply don’t understand irony.

      • Perhaps not a very fair comment Mike. Are you using Florida as a statement about the USA in general? If so then you are doing a little profiling of your own. If not about the USA in general, then how does Florida differ from the other states in racial profiling and stupid laws?

      • @enarhem

        1. Nowhere in my post did I state I was generalising about the USA
        2. Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law is stupid
        3. They know how to make orange juice vey well

    • @bill40

      It’s a form of ‘functional’ schizophrenia which is somehow maintained. As opposed to personality splitting so severe as to render the subject incapable of functioning rationally (presumably).

      You also have to keep in mind that if we assume, for the sake of argument and provisionally, that IQ tests have ANY validity, then we are led ineluctably to the conclusion that approximately, though to a high degree of precision, 50% of all humans on earth have an IQ less than 100.

      I said ‘assume’ and ‘provisionally’ (and I also wish to interject and emphasize here that this statistic has nothing to do with race, ethnicity, or educational attainment, as per global averages and so on), so you are, if you look this dreadfully bleary fact (if so) in the face square-on, with a frightful situation worldwide and locally, Sir.

  8. Agree with you all the way.
    The encouraging thing is, there is a flourishing music scene – several scenes, really – which thrive without either needing or seeking the deathly patronage of Cowell, nor the gossipy name-checks of reality TV-obsessed tabloids.
    Awareness is growing that music doesn’t need the music business, and a there is a growing appreciation of genuinely live music.
    Your sultress of song has the performance experience to do a gig anywhere. She’s probably tuning up right now for a gig in a bar in Villareal – why not go down and give her some support. Take the family!

    • My reading is that JW got himself into a state where he was able to intuit the underlying reality of things. And even find a way of communicating such, whether or not he quite knew it at the time.

      I really enjoy his descriptions of his journey.

      • Yes, naturally, that as well; when you think of all the raw talent out there, it’s hard not to get into a state of some sort. Sometimes it’s worth deconstructing, sometimes it’s more worthwhile to just enjoy the moment and let flippancy be your guide, I fancy. Accepting, of course, that intuition does not always come to fruition.

  9. Almost without exception, great music has emerged from the UK not because of, but despite the best efforts of the UK music establishment.

    These morons fought tooth and nail against the roll-out of popular radio, and they’re doing the same with the internet.

  10. Why was Adolph Hitler able to lift Germany out of the Great Depression, when policymakers in the US–particularly the Fed–have failed so miserably?

    Let’s look at the facts: When Hitler came to power in 1933, the German economy was in a shambles. Millions of people were out of work, a number of large banks had collapsed, the market for German exports had dried up overnight, and a US-led lending freeze (withdrawal of credits under the Young Plan) had thrust German industry and finance into a severe slump. By 1932, German industrial production was nearly half of what it had been a year earlier. Unemployment soared from 1.5 million in 1929 to more than 6 million in 1933.

    Enter Hitler, who had been sworn in as chancellor under President Paul von Hindenburg in January, 1933. Hitler appointed German economist and banker, Hjalmar Schacht, as President of the Reichsbank and Minister of Economics. Schacht, in turn, launched a groundbreaking fiscal stimulus program that rebuilt the nation’s worn infrastructure and put millions of people back to work. At the same time, Schacht took steps to strengthen the currency, jettison the gold standard, and impose capital controls, all of which served to reinforce Germany’s economic independence. Here’s a little background from C.K.Liu’s Asia Times article “Nazism and the German Economic Miracle”:

    “The Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, at a time when its economy was in total collapse, with ruinous war-reparation obligations and zero prospects for foreign investment or credit. Yet through an independent monetary policy of sovereign credit and a full-employment public-works program, the Third Reich was able to turn a bankrupt Germany, stripped of overseas colonies it could exploit, into the strongest economy in Europe within four years, even before armament spending began.” (“Nazism and the German Economic Miracle,” Henry C. K. Liu, Asia Times)

    Clearly, “Depression expert” Bernanke’s performance pales in comparison to Schacht’s and for obvious reasons. While zero rates and bond purchases (QE) have been good for risk assets, (Stocks are up more than 140 percent since their March 2009 lows.) unemployment is still above 7 percent, real wages are trending lower, GDP has shriveled to below 2 percent, 47 million people are on food stamps, and inequality is greater than anytime since the Gilded Era. The facts speak for themselves; Bernanke’s policies have only benefited the investor class. The real economy is still flat on its back.

    That’s not to say that Hitler was not a murderous psychopath. He was, but there’s also reason why his policies have been applauded by leftist intellectuals, like Counterpunch co-editor Alexander Cockburn, who spoke admiringly of Hitler’s “progressive economic policies.” Here’s a quote from Cockburn:

    “Hitler, genocidal monster that he was, was also the first practicing Keynesian leader. … There were vast public works, such as the autobahns. He paid little attention to the deficit or to the protests of the bankers about his policies. … By 1936, unemployment had sunk to 1 percent.” (Alexander Cockburn)

    Cockburn is not alone in his admiration for Hitler’s (or should we say Schacht’s) fiscal policies. Keynes himself praised the policies although he despised Hitler and Nazism. Writing in the foreword of the German edition his magnum opus The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, Keynes said: “The theory of output as a whole, which is what the following book purports to provide, is much more easily adapted to the conditions of a totalitarian state, than is the theory of production and distribution of a given output produced under the conditions of free competition and a large measure of laissez-faire.”

    This doesn’t mean that Keynes supported autocratic government. He didn’t. He was merely acknowledging that “demand management” (which is essential for minimizing the negative effects of the business cycle) is more easily achieved with a strong central government, since government spending is required to take up the slack in aggregate demand during a slump. Government has an important role to play when demand is weak and the economy slumps. The government can (and should) use deficit spending to increase activity, put idle resources to work, boost output, lower unemployment, and put the economy back on a solid growth-path. Hitler may not have grasped this, but surely Schacht did. Here’s more from Liu’s article:

    “From the very outset of his rule, Hitler, whose main short-term goal was the economic revival of Germany with the help of German nationalist bankers and industrialists, won popular support of the nation. Hitler adopted an aggressive full-employment campaign. Between January 1933 and July 1935 the number of employed Germans rose by a half, from 11.7 million to 16.9 million. More than 5 million new jobs paying living wages were created. Unemployment was banished from the German economy and the entire nation was productively engaged in reconstruction. Inflation was brought under control by wage freeze and price control. Besides this, taking into account the lessons learned during 1914-18, Hitler aimed at creating an economy that would be independent from foreign capital and supply, and be well protected from another blockade and economic war. For Germans, all of the above was proof that Hitler was the one who had not only brought Germany out of economic depression but would take it directly to prosperity with new pride. German popular trust in the Fuehrer rose dramatically.” (“Nazism and the German Economic Miracle,” Henry C. K. Liu, Asia Times)

    Hitler was no friend of labor, but he knew that full employment would widen his base of popular support. In contrast, Bernanke and his colleagues at the Fed could care less about popularity or jobs. What they want is to slash critical safetynet programs that protect the old, the sick and the needy. That’s what QE is really all about; it’s a way of redistributing wealth upwards (through rising stock prices) while Congress and the Obama administration “starve the beast” via budget cuts. Reactionary elites have created a bogus deficit crisis so they can impose their neoliberal agenda of deregulation, privatization, low taxes, and austerity on working people.

    Hitler garnered support for militarization through labor intensive public works projects that transformed the nation in an economic powerhouse. Schacht played a crucial role in the recovery. Along with strict capital controls and other protectionist policies, Schacht stopped the private issuance of money and “launched a new land-backed currency”. Here’s how author Ellen Brown sums it up in a passage from her masterpiece Web of Debt:

    “Hitler began his national credit program by devising a plan of public works. Projects earmarked for funding included flood control, repair of public buildings and private residences, and construction of new buildings, roads, bridges, canals, and port facilities. The projected cost of the various programs was fixed at one billion units of the national currency. One billion non-inflationary bills of exchange, called Labor Treasury Certificates, were then issued against this cost. Millions of people were put to work on these projects, and the workers were paid with the Treasury Certificates. This government-issued money wasn’t backed by gold, but it was backed by something of real value. It was essentially a receipt for labor and materials delivered to the government.

    Hitler said, “for every mark that was issued we required the equivalent of a mark’s worth of work done or goods produced.” The workers then spent the Certificates on other goods and services, creating more jobs for more people…

    Within two years, the unemployment problem had been solved and the country was back on its feet. It had a solid, stable currency, no debt, and no inflation, at a time when millions of people in the United States and other Western countries were still out of work and living on welfare.” (“Thinking Outside the Box: How a bankrupt Germany solved its Infrastructure Problems”, Ellen Brown, Web of Debt, Third Millennium Press)

    This is the largely unknown story of Hitler’s rise to power, an ascent that depended on “an independent monetary policy of sovereign credit” rather than the issuance of loans by privately-owned banks. (Public money vs private money) Hitler took the bankers out of the equation and rebuilt Germany in just four years.

    Why doesn’t Bernanke do the same thing? Why doesn’t Bernanke purchase Infrastructure bonds or Education bonds instead of Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) which only benefit the bankers. Why doesn’t Bernanke practice what he preached to the bigwigs at the Japan Society of Monetary Economics, in May 2003 when he outlined steps for monetizing tax cuts. Here’s what he said:

    “The Bank of Japan should consider increasing still further its purchases of government debt, preferably in explicit conjunction with a program of tax cuts or other fiscal stimulus… Consider for example a tax cut for households and businesses that is explicitly coupled with incremental BOJ purchases of government debt–so that the tax cut is in effect financed by money creation.”

    Now there’s a novel idea; printing money to help the average working stiff. That ought to increase activity and boost growth, don’t you think? So why is Bernanke still dumping $85 billion per month into a black-hole financial system instead of following his own advice and using his power to put people back to work and get the economy back on track?

    Why?

    The economy is in the doldrums because that’s where Bernanke and Co. want it to be.

    • +1
      and that explains why western governments just think of their populations as ‘those ignorant fornicators’.

    • Two things Gemz:
      1. If you want to write essays, start a website.
      2. Just like the Volkswagen, Schacht’s ‘miracle’ was a sleight-of-hand scam. After 1935, Hitler wiped out unemployment using death camps and the armed forces.
      Yes, he rebuilt infrastructure, but (a) none of the jobs were productive in terms of exports and (b) the main thing he churned out was ships, tanks, bazookas and ammo.
      Hitler didn’t need to export, because he knew he was going to export Germany. Without the war he craved, the German economy would’ve fallen flat on its face by 1941 at the latest.

      • Yes John and for all that earlier work they ended right back at the beginning after 45. Same old “boom and bust” literally

      • Another thing, Germany was not a welfare state. The best incentive to get people to go to work is an empty stomach. Harsh but true. I expect loads of ordure to come my way!!!!

  11. Pingback: Our chortling Prime Minister: come all ye paedophiles and merchants of death, and find ye sanctuary there | The Slog. 3-D bollocks deconstruction

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