When will the most protected, subsidised State-owned business finally be deregulated?

In Britain and America, there is a business of overriding national importance employing restrictive practices to keep out competition: one where both the major brands have a market share far above those allowed by monopolies commissions and anti-Trust laws. It is State-owned, and the salaries of its executives are entirely supported by the taxpayer. In over 100 years, only three new brands have ever tried to break into the market, and all have failed thanks to restrictive distribution practices and media access.

The business hasn’t made a profit in either market in over 40 years, and the debts accumulated by profligate management are measured in the trillions of dollars. In order to service its debts (which stretch way beyond the means of taxpayers) this last remaining public sector dinosaur has granted itself a monopoly of issuance of shares in the concern, resulting in so much dilution of shareholder value over time, the taxpayer’s voting power in the enterprise now borders on the homoaeopthic.

The company has steadily slipped down the list of international competitors, and – alongside both falling income and sales – has inevitably resulted in a product so adulterated, between a quarter and a third of former consumers no longer use the company’s product at all, believing the output of its marketing department to consist almost entirely of lies. And yet – unique among advertisers – this State-created monster is granted immunity from the media rules governing the truth of product claims.

It is a scandal and a hypocrisy beyond belief, not least because the CEOs in both markets claim to be standard bearers for free-market capitalism.

I refer, naturally, to the UK and US political governance systems.

In America during this Presidential Election year, the 2012 contest once again leaves the electorate with a choice between an economically illiterate Democrat, and an ethically bereft Republican. This may be enough to define ‘choice’ for Newscorp, but it doesn’t work for me.

‘Yes we can’ has turned into ‘Oh no you didn’t’ for Democratic President Barack Obama. And as for the Republican challenger Mitt Romney, the media started last week by saying Mrs Romney was the reason to vote for Mitt, and then changed tack to say Paul Ryan was the real reason. Yes, the candidates are that convincing.  Obama wants to control the banks, but lacks the bottle to do so. Ryan has presnted a roadmap to recovery entirely constructed from old dead-end roads.

In Great Britain, former media man David Cameron has reluctantly joined forces with a former bureaucrat to try and gain market share in the duopoly battle with former media man Ed Miliband and his deputy, a madwoman preserved in feminist amber. Neither the Conservative nor Labour brand leaders has the desire to control the banks or even construct a roadmap.

When new product innovation cannot afford the price of market entry, this is what happens: tired, stagnant ideas fester in a context of corrupt aims that bear no relation to consumer needs. In an open market, such a slide into mediocrity would result in lost market share and bankruptcy. The moral bankruptcy is there for all to see, but the duopoly is still very much in business….because a tilted playing field keeps the others out.

Equally depressing is the way in which this blatant desire to rig their own permanence infects everything they touch: the Libor rate, QE, zero interest rates, the gold price, bond yields: all of them are manipulated in concert with their agents of survival, the central and private banks.

And the pretence that they are somehow working for us – whereas the other brand is a disgrace that should be obliterated – represents a growing stage of intolerance using the media as a catalyst. Fox News, the New York Times, The Daily Mail, The Guardian: in these newspapers, one brand is always right, and the other always wrong. There is no debate, only rabid vilification.

Be it Bush, Obama, Brown or Cameron, their actions are all precisely the same once in office: Bush uses Paulson to save his banking pals, and War to save his oil pals. Obama uses the banks to break Iran, troll swarms to screw up Republican sites, and the ISPs to get independent radical sites taken down. Brown courted bankers and left them alone to commit their excesses, used media smears to destroy any and all opponents for the Labour leadership, blackmail to get Blair out of Number Ten, and taxpayer’s money to save Labour seats after Northern Rock. Cameron ignores calls to control his City mates, uses Newscorp to ensure Labour investigators are threatened with press exposure, and corrupt enquiries to try and wipe out a Left-biased BBC.

These brands will never reform the market structures that allow them to maintain oligarchic power, buy support from pressure groups, and salt the mass media with their lies. And violent revolution always ends in the same place: malign dictatorship.

The only answer is to work from the outside. To organise online demonstrations of our power, make life difficult for their monied lobbyists, and provide a sphere of truth watching their every move.

But even then, apathy will remain as an insouciant obstacle, tax cuts can bribe the mentally idle, and tabloid sensationalism in both the press and on TV will continue to distract Mr & Mrs Pizza from what’s being done to them.

Since 2006, The Slog has argued that econo-fiscal collapse will do for these oligarchic brands. It has also tried to suggest what some of the dimensions of new and better brands might be. My general impression (based on hits and comments) is that beyond the Pizzas, there are three schools out there: the self-styled cynics who laugh at the idea of successfully changing things, the headcases who know everything and wish to destroy everything, and those who declare themselves too busy to be bothered ‘with all this nonsense’.

The deadly duopoly will never change until those attitudes change. That is the straightforward, bottom line: it’s up to us, the Citizens, to replace bad with better. If we do nothing, then we must share the blame for the continued existence of this roadmap-building crew of control freaks who offer us the choice between a Trabant and a Polska for the road ahead.

66 thoughts on “When will the most protected, subsidised State-owned business finally be deregulated?

  1. ‘Self-styled cynics who laugh at the idea of successfully changing things,’
    I think I possibly fit into this category, primarily because,
    1) I have witnessed this happening for a few decades now.
    2) I read a similar train of thought at most of the sites I visit on a regular basis.
    3) I do not ever come across any positive action ideas that could be collectively construed and acted upon.
    4) If perchance I had any bright idea of my own other than burning down ever High St branch of every bank until they they were destroyed (Destroy the banks, break the link) I would have enacted it by now and perhaps things would be different, but, truth be told I don’t know what to do anymore more than anybody else, and this has been, IMHO the underlying master plan for many governments for a long time, divide and conquer and, now we are so diverse we struggle to organise anything, the Olympics is a classic example, let alone garnering support for a fundamental change in the way we are governed. I, in my naivety started a Facebook group, ‘We Want a Referendum, and We Want it Now’ I managed to get 50 members! and we are down to 43! I thought maybe if Simon Cowell could be beaten by Facebook, I might have a chance. I was a fool to think so.
    That’s why I laugh cynically at the thought of things changing, and they know it.
    But, having said that I will repeat what I have stated before, things will change but, not until the streets run with blood. Maybe the H of P does not need a refurb so much as it needs a Reichstag moment in history.


  2. Well, one thing to remember is that if ‘new politics’ is ever to appear to replace the two dinosaurs, then they will start off as amateur DIY political groups. They will make mistakes, often talk rubbish, get involved in situations where they lack experience, etc. i.e. they will be easy to criticise and get torn to shreds by the press.
    So it will be very difficult for them to establish a large supporters group and it will take years for them to be a significant political force.
    (Barring a complete economy collapse, of course).
    Criticising folk like UKIP is easy, but it needs to encouraging criticism. That type of DIY politics is our best hope for the future.


  3. Can’t argue with a single full stop KFC.
    John this paragraph sums it up for me:-

    “But even then, apathy will remain as an insouciant obstacle, tax cuts can bribe the mentally idle, and tabloid sensationalism in both the press and on TV will continue to distract Mr & Mrs Pizza from what’s being done to them.”

    But as you say KFC, only when the street run with blood. Perhaps I’m more cynical then as I would say, ‘only when Corrie or Strictly and footie’ are turned off will the streets run with blood.

    It reminds me of that Arnie film ‘The running Man’ only without an Arnie to stop it.
    Worse still, they are bound to find a way to stop us having a moan about how fcuking useless we are at effecting change.

    God, I feel like Eeyore -Oh dear, oh my.


  4. David Malone, aka Golemxiv, came up with an idea, sadly not one I could support. http://www.golemxiv.co.uk/2012/05/a-way-forward-a-modest-proposal/

    The general idea is to get an MEP into Europe and start there. I do like the EU you understand but just don’t believe the UK should be in it.

    The fight that needs to be won is one of economics. The neo liberals run all the political parties so we get the same sh1t everytime. There are still some of us who understand the difference between “common purpose” and national interest.

    I fight my corner by promoting Modern Money Theory. Economics that does not include full employment cannot and hasn’t worked. I realise I’m probably barking at the moon but hey ho….

    Aren’t we all?


  5. Kentucky – you rightly identify yourself as part of the problem that JW illumines. Laziness of thought runs through this and other postings of yours.Improved governance will not come from the streets running with blood nor from a Reichstag moment – the excuse that Hitler engineered to wipe out all opposition, end democracy etc etc etc


  6. I tried UKIP just after the MP scandal having read through their manifesto back to front. In those days it may have started as the nub end of the conservatives but was wisely trying to be too specific about policies and was also trying to get people from both sides of the track. This appealed to me because I refuse to be left or right. I joined and was to be a PPC for a constituency near me. Then cam ethe change and Pearson got the con, did duplicious deals [or tried to] with the tories and the whole game show turned right -or maybe took the blinkers off. I was depressed and annoyed because even though standing in the north I had felt everyone was so disgusted by the fat, idle greedy buggers in Westminster, that even Muffin the mule could get elected.

    So with Pearson either unmasking or actually turning right I stood down. There was no way I was going to waste £5k+ for a campaign in a steel town to try to get a party -now officially right wing of the tories- elected.

    They were upset with me. I said you’re upset you bstards, how do you think I feel. Betrayed again!

    They are inneficient so I still keep an eye on things due to the emails they send, I even get official party docs too because they haven’t deleted me from everyone’s contact list. But I go on.


  7. maybe that is KFC’s preference. JW’s has the courage, at least, to argue about structures, institutional changes that might – or might not – put people in charge whose morality we wouldn’t instantly condemn.


  8. Very well said kfc1404.

    I fully agree with the line “But, having said that I will repeat what I have stated before, things will change but, not until the streets run with blood. Maybe the H of P does not need a refurb so much as it needs a Reichstag moment in history.”

    It has been my belief for decades as I have said before that only when the ordinary person starts to hurt in sufficient numbers will they be roused enough to bring the system down, and that will only happen when the welfare checks stop.

    Sadly John is also correct, history tells us the most likely result when violence hits the street is repression followed by the destruction of the existing political class and a malign but populist, at least in the short term, dictatorship. That too will eventually succumb and thereafter there might be hope for something better. No doubt all of us will be long dead before then. As you point out, the stumbling block is that the political class will never, ever willingly give up power, they will throw any number of their elite to the wolves if necessary, but as a class they will never relinquish power until it is torn from their hands.


  9. Yes that’s the system and as if we didn’t know it already you cannot beat the system…

    As any changes appear to be improving the system an override takes over to protect the system.

    Each and every year the system is enhanced and upgraded, but not for the purposes that it was intended to have.

    Those upgrades are being built to protect the system in order that the system cannot be beaten.

    Only ruined taxpayers and further waste are the products of the system.

    That is the system.


  10. A great post john that all of us at this forum can identify with. The answer to our woes is just to stop co operating with the big money, as you have said in your own words many times before. And stop voting as well, the whole things a sham.

    My frustration is borne out of peoples indoctrination by the system over the last 50 or so years to believe that things will turn around again as they have always done in the past, and that the politicians arguing week in and week out with each really give a sh*t, and have our best interests at heart. You just cannot tell these people anything because what you have to say does not correspond with the views of the BBC or the daily rag that they finance.

    I now do not entertain the company of anyone whose contribution to conversation has anything to with newspapers or television as I consider them to be weapons of mass distraction, the output of which is controlled again by the money power. Needless to say I have few friends now and those that are left understand our situation but are completely apathetic to implement any changes to their lives in preparation for what is to come, or to rail against the elites infrastructure.

    It sickens me to watch the “Presidential reality show” in America and how the MSM over here gives it air time. Its all bread and circuses. Mention Obama or Romney to the people in the UK and they know who they are right away, but because of the OTT biased views of the news, nobody has ever heard of Ron Paul or Gary Johnson.

    Im fed up waiting for this collapse!


  11. In the present construction of our system, the politicians have insignificant power. The real power is held by the Financial cartel, thru’ the Central Bank system. They pull the strings and real things happen ,such as wars, privatisations, austerity et al.
    The end game is close at hand as regards the Banking crisis. The strong dollar policy can no longer be sustained, the US banks are running out of gold to play in their gold price suppression policy and their bonds are worthless, Watch the price of gold,it is a true indicator of the hyperinflation that is the contained in the US dollar. Gold is true money and has been for millenia. This is where the financial battle is taking place.
    The bankers realise the faith in fiat money is wearing thin and wish to offload as much of their useless paper in exchange for physical bullion as possible to preserve their wealth.
    Morgan Stanley are reckoned to be heavily short on gold and are expected to roll over within September. The vultures at JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs are circling, this is the first domino to fall and it will cascade from there. The days of the hegemonic US dollar will soon be over, what replaces it,is open to question, but we are entering interesting times. Some say the long term plan was always to take down the dollar, the rest of the plan was to be a one world currency,possibly based on bullion, but that at present is in the realms of conspiracy theory.


  12. I think that’s my point. Every DIY amateur party will be pretty terrible compared to the smooth spin doctors of the two big parties. Look at the libertarians in the US. Every local group has a different policy that they think is better than the next local group. Small parties are chaotic. Every other member is threatening to leave if their favourite policy isn’t supported. It will take years for a central organisation to get enough support to coalesce around the policies that most of them like.
    Nothing special about the UKIP. I think all these little groups need encouragement while they are growing up. It is too easy to stamp on green shoots and that is exactly what the main parties will be doing.


  13. addendum from Ludwig Von Mises

    The first pre-requisite of the establishment of a “society” of the rulers and the ruled has always been the same. The rulers must gain control over the medium of exchange. For obvious reasons, no nation can ever progress to a state of advanced economic activity until a medium of exchange is established. Once it is established, there is no going back. An advanced economy cannot operate by means of barter. The problem is that once the government or the rulers gain control of money, it progressively ceases to be a medium of exchange and becomes a medium of control. That impinges on the functioning of markets which in turn impinges on the maintenance of property rights. Thus, we come full circle from a free society to a command society. There has never been any shortage of those who want to rule. The problem has always been with the vast majority who are content to be ruled. Today’s global outcry for the manufacturing of more and more “money” out of thin air is an eloquent testimony. It shows that most people have no understanding of freedom, markets or money. Lacking such understanding – and having no desire to gain it – most people have accepted government as their masters.


  14. O/T.Hollande has been forced to formally nationalise France’s no.2 mortgage provider,Credit Immobilier.The bank runs in Spain will continue tomorrow.The rumours about the solvency,or not ,of Morgan Stanley continue.Take cover.


  15. JW is right, and we can all play our part in ending this – How?
    By cutting our personal spending, by using our ‘Grey Power’ to sink the system. If only 40% of over 55s could harness all their power and agree to cut out all spending on all non essentials, their game would be over in 6 months.
    So come on folks, we have to start somewhere so why not here. Batten down your hatches, make do and mend again like we used to do, and enjoy doing. No major purchases at all. Cut down on everything, yes even a little less booze (and feel better for that too!!!), eat less, smoke less, less car – walk more, get an old bike. Don’t buy anything you don’t really need or can do without, and cut out all chinese tat.
    I’m sure we’ll see the difference quite soon!! Let’s sink these bastards.


  16. @ITG; I like your reply which may well be correct, depending on your viewpoint. The bit that I felt was missing from your reply was any suggestion of what could be done. How do we go about getting improved governance? For those that advocate the ballot box are deluding themselves, you see again I hear criticism but no offer of any solutions.


  17. It is interesting to look at how both nations got to where they are now. Both had started with a rule book one developed after Cromwell although not totally codified, the other as an exercise between colonies that was finally codified in an explicit constitution followed by some tidying amendments.

    Following these rules, both states prospered in friendly enmity. But then the politicians got involved. The rules were varied to obtain various ‘advantages’ normally politicians trying to retain power. Some rules were just disregarded even the ones that were put in place as changes to gain power. In UK we would have a vote on EU treaties (promised so people would vote for the politicians promising); never happened and will not happen. In the US energy is short because there is no exploration being allowed on ‘federal lands’ – the constitution does not allow the federal government to ‘own land’. (those just off the top of my head there are more).
    As the rule changes failed to produce precisely what the politicians want the more changes to the rules were made and they become more extreme – hence changing the House of Lords and then again, then adding proportional representation….

    Underlying all of this is the problem that politicians got to where they were by desiring power. Once they have some powers they want more. That is all really politicians are about – their one common driving ambition is to be able to tell everyone else what they should do. They are usually inexperienced in any other field. (Yes there are exceptions but the exceptions tend not to last giving up and returning to real work after a while). One way to ensure that you retain power is to alter (or if you can get away with it disregard) the rules when you are IN power.

    There was no intent when the ‘rule books’ were first written for there to be such a thing as a professional politician – the working hours in parliament were set so that you came to parliament when you finished the day job. The same reason for the long recess. Only one State in the USA still retains that approach: Texas has a hard limit on the number of days its state congress can be in session it only meets once every 2 years and legislators are only paid ~ $10,000. Texas is also one of the more successful states in the Union in terms of employment and low cost of living.

    So the original systems (the business plan if you like) that were developed to help the _country_ succeed have been changed to allow the _politicians_ to succeed i.e. retain power (and money of course). Unsurprisingly, this has led to government structures that have greatly increased the power and standing of politicians but led to the countries failing.

    Strangely, it has also led to an attitude change in the _non_ politicians. An expectation that politicians should behave like politicians and always be working ‘governing the country and making laws’ – in other words the population has been brainwashed to accept the modern politicians’ position. But the ideal ‘statesman’ is someone who “doesn’t just do something but sits there”: Only changing things that need change. But that gets you no plaudits in the press. A good business manager will know when to adapt to circumstance – A politician who adapts to circumstance is called a flip-flopper: again because the politicians have set new rules for what to expect – and the population like sheep have followed.

    What is needed is some _return_ back to the original ideas for how the country should be organized. No professional politicians. That will require someone to audit the constitutional changes since the 1700’s and identify which were there just to give more power to individuals and which were there to make the country succeed with the default being return to the way the rule was intended. Problem is of course that the post of Auditor General would be taken by a politician (who else would be interested).
    People that _want_ to be in power are exhibiting a character trait that shows they shouldn’t be in power.


  18. Only point of disagreement is the ‘stop voting’ position. That simply further disenfranchises we thinking voters.

    Far better idea is to make sure you and all your kin only ever vote for candidates outside the three major parties. That would build a democratic groundswell, win a few seats here and there, thus give some credibility to the minor parties, and so the upwards spiral begins. It’s the only bloodless way it will ever change.


  19. There are lots of small political movements out there, who all agree that the system needs replacing, the trouble is that none of them can agree with each other, egos get in the way, etc; until we, the disfranchised majority can agree to sink our differences & join together in one big patriotic movement, things will never change, apathy will prevail. It can be done, if there is the will to do it. There is a precedent, the Labour Party. Think on’t.


  20. ‘I do not ever come across any positive action ideas that could be collectively construed and acted upon.’
    Press the search button, top right.


  21. Salford bloke
    Spot on although I don’t buy the conspiracy bit at the end.
    That’s why I say sod Parties, start taking action against the rich lobbyists – show people where the power really is, and it will all come tumbling down – pace the USSR.


  22. @SL I attended the Freedomfest gathering in Vegas last month, and one of the speakers was John Browne formerly of the Thacher government. He stated that there was at present a western central banking tussle (pro fiat currency) predominantly against the Chinese government banking system(getting gold into the hands of ordinary Chinese citizens for a possible fiat melt and possible coming gold standard) for control of the global banking system.
    He touted this situation with no compromise whatsoever! Pretty alarming stuff!


  23. Rise and collapse.Where have i heard it before? That’s right, in history books. It’s a sign of success for a system to systematically repeat itself. Change always needed a bit everything.Protest,blood, pain and a couple of lost generations.The strange difference in our times is we can’t claim to be ignorant of the proceedings.Its all happening before our eyes and for all our enhanced communication capabilities, we are more divided and powerless than ever before.Ignorance was indeed bliss but now its knowledge.Jolly good for us mankind.


  24. The reality is that a lot of people do have some constructive ideas, most people not enough ideas to make a difference on their own…….and most people only have enough time for the occasional blog and not enough for full time input.
    The problem is the disconnect between sensible people and the elected government (of course accepting the shortfall in good ideas coming from government or opposition)…..so the challenge is to effectively channel those ideas and to implement them.
    Its actually not so difficult ….the technology is already there….if we can invent software to compel billions of people to register so that they can all ask each other ‘where are you?’ every five minutes its not impossible to do the same for something useful…..
    I agree there is a need for a complete rethink…….. its also the reality that its never going to be supported by the turkeys who are supposed to be doing the job at present….


  25. I have been given to understand that the BBC has a contract to supply programmes to the public, & it is on that basis that the licence fee is charged. BUT as the BBC has accepted monies from the EU to promote this organisation, it has effectively BROKEN its contract with the public, & therefore the public is under no obligation to pay for the licence.
    Sound good to me!


  26. @MP

    Yes that strategy sounds good, but we need someone that has a sound moral background preferably backed by the money of non special interests, that touts less government, less regulation, free markets, sound money and a habit of telling it like it is!
    Let me know if anyone springs to mind.


  27. The software is already in place, you might not like it but, Facebook groups command a powerful presence in the market place. Look, there is a group supporting Harry, 33K members the last time I looked….and rising.


  28. It’s Statute law. The Government says if you have a television receiver and don’t pay the licence fee it’s a criminal offence.
    The licence fee is set by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport by the use of Statutory Instruments.
    The BBC is authorised by the Communications Act 2003 to collect the licence fees.


  29. My strategy is not specific, it’s about simply giving your vote to anyone except the Big 3, rather than wasting it.
    So if, in your seat, there are the Big 3 and a Green, then you vote Green. If there’s the Big 3, a Green and a BNP – then just choose between the last two, doesn’t matter which. Your chosen candidate will probably not win (this time), but the accumulation of minor-party votes will certainly be noticed.
    If enough votes are seen to be leeching away to the minor parties (whoever they are), the effect will grow and more voters will then feel able to clamber on the bandwagon, creating the groundswell spiral (it’s happening with UKIP already).
    If there’s only the Big 3 (unlikely), then spoil your ballot paper creatively because all spoilt papers are checked by the Big Party hacks, so any message gets across. But still turn up and vote – turnout is important.


  30. I agree with the basics of Ian’s argument, but it is only half the story. Along with the growth of the politico’s there has been an even greater expansion of full-time administrators so that we have a two-headed monster ‘governing’ the country.
    Getting rid of the professional politicians will only put us more firmly in the power of the mandarins unless at the same time we curb their numbers too – and make them personally accountable for their actions.
    Any Sir Humphrey diligent in his own self-interest (is there any other type?) would tie up a part-time politician in so much irelevant detail so as to be unable to see the woods for the trees and Sir H would be able to discredit or frustrate any sensible political reform at will.
    A drastic pruning of the civil service, national and local is needed at the same time as a reform of the H-P. The fly in the ointment is that they are both numerous and ready to take to the streets. Unless I am mistaken, virtually all recent strikes have been of public sector workers – not those contributing to the economy


  31. To achieve change, you must use the most potent weapon you have in your armoury. Your enemy is smug and lazy, but so are most of us.
    In this instance, that weapon is apathy. A mighty weapon indeed. With apathy, you can overcome almost anything.

    I remember a time, probably 30 years ago, the far left infiltrated local labour parties around the country, mostly in the big cities. With sometimes as few as half a dozen (pretty horrible) activists, they took over every committee and every election sub-group, and got a whole load of real dodgy characters installed as party candidates in local and national elections. The reason they could do this? The old guard were tired, disillusioned, and too thin on the ground. It took until John Smith and the opportunist B.Liar to weed them out by playing their own sophisticated games..
    There are now so few party members of any of the main parties once again that a few committed dissenters could seize control of tory, labour, lib-dem, ukip, bnp, judean peoples front, peoples front of judea, front of peoples judea, and islam forever, any time they choose. You don\’t even have to work very hard to do so, a couple of evenings a week.

    Now, once you have that local control, you can go national.
    By the time the next general election comes around, you could have the leading contender in every parliamentary seat; and whether you think government is impotent and corrupt, you could hold the balance of power in the only institution that could stop big biz and the lawyer/banker lobby.

    The only other way would be to create a new media powerhouse to clear out the compromised dead-tree press and BBC multicoloured tank-top brigade. But that would take too long and too easily shackled -as they are working on now with the wick-wicky web.


  32. If we want to attract the attention of Mr and Mrs Pizza (and their delightful offspring) how about a ‘Flame’ type programme which would stop their benefit payments for a few weeks ? Could have an interesting outcome.


  33. I get the feeling that most people commenting on this blog are too old to do anything for change. They need to take a leaf out of my daughter’s book, the 18-35 generation who are currently unemployed: they see no sense in voting for a government that has no power because it is merely the puppet of all the corporate global economic system that directs our lives; they discuss things over the internet and attempt to organise on a global level; they are aware that the system is hard to beat, that the successes of youth movements like Egypt are still controlled by US dollars going to the Egyptian military and deals with the MB; they are not naive and know they will have to wait and continue scratching away like all resistance movements, whether of the Afghan or Syrian variety (it works both ways).

    I too am a cynical sexagenarian who poo-poos here ideas in jest while playing the voice of experience, but frankly I think 2008 was a watershed for this generation and their blend of apparent apathy with cynicism is not the same – their moment will come as more shit hits the fans of this repeat of the fall of the Roman Empire and they won’t hesitate to change things when they see it.


  34. There’s something different happening here:

    Usually like KFC says, it’s a desire to do something without knowing where the hell to start. But there’s some interesting ideas floating around here (ie grey money). I’m not in that age bracket but I’m very interested in joining the brigade.

    I’d already consider myself a “conserver” rather than a “consumer”, according to government statistics i live below the poverty line. Funny that it doesn’t feel like it as what I earn pays the bills, feeds my family and leaves us with a few quid at the end of the week to split between savings and having fun in whatever capacity. Perhaps the fact that we don’t spend it on unnecessary junk and we owe no money to anyone (no credit cards thank goodness) makes a world of difference.

    But i’d love to hear any extra thoughts on what would be tactically astute beyond spend cash, barter, rent, self sufficiency etc.


  35. @kfc1404

    “It’s Statute law. The Government says if you have a television receiver and don’t pay the licence fee it’s a criminal offence.” This is what the folk in the TV Detector vans will tell you, as will anyone else in authority, just as they will suggest they have the right to enter your house and check compliance.

    They are wrong just as your line I quoted is wrong, although a common misconception they are quite happy to allow to propagate. It is a criminal offence to receive broadcast UK television without a licence, full stop. That does not prohibit you from owning a TV. You can only be prosecuted if you are caught in the act, which is what the detector vans are for. It even tells you so on the TV Licensing web site, ‘though you do have to search for it a bit. No doubt the government would dearly like to change that, but they dare not.


  36. @max C and Mike. I have for the last 10 years been cutting out non-essentials & recycle whatever is possible. I recently sent a strongly worded email to my MP about the fallacy of growth based on consumerism, that we should buy only what we need not what we think we need.
    I refuse to buy any gadgets unless something needs replacing. I have no microwave, ipad or any other i-thing other than my laptop. No digital TV which now means no Tv unless via my laptop (no loss there). My mobile is from the ark.
    I’ve had an allotment for 20years; rarely eat meat or dairy (and then only organic); have almost given up my beloved fish (too few of them left); drink hardly any alcohol. Buy as much local produce as possible. Word of advice: never do your supermarket shop on an empty stomach or you’ll end up with more than can be eaten before its use-by date. And you wont have time to cook all of the rest. And the bill will give you an unpleasant surprise.
    I only rarely holiday abroad esp if flying (carbon load); last year resumed cycling. I’m old enough to get cheap train and bus fares and use them whenever possible.
    New clothes? I do it all probably twice a year, if I have to shop more often I start to feel nauseous. I buy second hand clothes sometimes and am still wearing 20-year old stylish sweaters (they just keep on going!) without looking as if I live in Oxfam.
    Re-use gift wrap (a point of principle in our family). I also use the backs of envelopes for lists.
    Old/collectable crockery rather than anything new. The rest I throw (make) myself. When I refurbished a flat I had the cast iron bath re-enamelled.
    Chinese tat is hard to avoid- my newest strimmer seemed to be British until I read the small print- yes you’ve guessed it. A friend bought a British lawnmower only to find once he got it home it was actually made in China. The only German stuff I knowingly buy are scissors (the blades are unbeatable natch).
    If all this seems like penury, it isnt. I still use a car (8-year old Japanese) but as infrequently as practicable; spend more than average on haircuts/styling and ‘cultural pursuits’ and I do enjoy a cancer stick or two.


  37. @MP
    Sorry but I cannot give credence to a system that promotes violence and coercion by voting in some empty suit that has yet to fulfill its election promises, and lets face it thats how they get into power, and not by telling us how it is! Call me a cynic if you like.


  38. Billk: “Every DIY amateur party will be pretty terrible compared to the smooth spin doctors of the two big parties”

    Wrong. The “smooth spin doctors of the two big parties” would wilt rather quickly were there a real, inquisitive press/media. But there isn’t. The current MSM is the facilitator of the current failed political obelisks. They are symbiotic. Hence JW’s focus on Murdoch and hacking et al. It’s all interlinked.


  39. “Any Sir Humphrey diligent in his own self-interest (is there any other type?) would tie up a part-time politician in so much irelevant detail so as to be unable to see the woods for the trees and Sir H would be able to discredit or frustrate any sensible political reform at will.”

    Actually, they disregard the edicts of any politician on the grounds that they will not be around long enough – so they just wait till the next one comes along.

    But yes you are right – the pro-administrators are also keen to maintain the filling of the trough while avoiding any accountability. The best thing that any civil servant can be (and this includes teachers, firemen and armed forces) is a symbiont – both parties get some benefit out of the arrangement that makes it worthwhile. But most civil servants are just parasites sucking the life out of their host. And yes of course as any group dependent on the status quo you can expect civil servants to protest volubly on any change.


  40. The political class may be a lost cause, but not necessarily those in marginal seats etc. And though there’s precious little evidence to suggest that they survive ‘the system’, it may still be worth keeping them in touch with reality if only because they are members of the human race.
    The two things they cannot abide are letters from Outraged of Tunbridge Wells and any kind of protest petition. But some will entertain what they might view as constructive suggestions (joking aside), eg support for local business, energy saving/alternative energy sources etc; arguments re taxation: issues which may help them be viewed positively by the local electorate come the next elections.
    I have a fair correspondence with my own marginal seat MP. Most favourably received are weblinked documents/reports related to energy and finances, which he forwards to the appropriate departments/committees; on occasion these have provoked considered responses, even if what the two sides of A4 amount to are Sir Humphreyisms.
    Any seeds sown of an alternative view may well appear to fall on stony ground but, even should the politician fail to retain their seat, they cannot fail to be aware of the growing zeitgeist. Which is just about all that can be hoped for- not all MPs are likely to be 100% immune from radical realism, even if they are whipped into denying it.


  41. An interesting development is the ‘NOTA’ party…(None Of The Above). This fulfills the human desire to ‘be part of the democratic system..ie:vote and lodge a protest at the same time. I would love a NOTA member of parliment..imagine…vote for trident?…Nah…can’t be bothered…vote for war in afghanistan…Nah…we tried that already, didn’t work….Oh what fun!


  42. Corporatism has dumped us as far away from genuine capitalist economics as any command economy ever did. After that, politics is inevitably a sham, dancing to the corporate sponsors tune.
    Changing top down is a huge task – too big for most to even contemplate.
    So start small and go bottom up – take a few minutes to find out how many of the big providers have set up off shore for a start – then go elsewhere. For example, I have refused to shop at Boots ever since they “moved” to Switzerland – there’s plenty of UK tax-paying smaller pharmacists out there, and they employ more staff per £ of sales too (small business always does).
    Despite their power bases, most corporates run at relatively tight margins – doesn’t need that many of us to “go local” to make a difference in many areas.
    My feet easily avoid Mr Philip Green’s shops and their one way trips to Monte Carlo etc – and I still have clothes on my back.
    I buy from independent record labels not Amazon – it costs me an extra £ a time on average, but the money doesn’t go straight to Luxembourg via their tax-less little coup.
    And change banks – find a mutual, the Co-Op or an Aussie run bank since they’re not insolvent.
    Plenty of social media to let peeps know the feel good factor in what you’re doing – it doesn’t need as many people as you think.
    Just celebrate publicly every time we each have a little victory – if it does catch on, no more apathy, just small acts of freedom.
    If we’re going to lobby on one thing alone let it be Vickers – not perfect but removes the very worst of the current financial malaise by splitting banks from casinos…
    And finally, if we all boycotted the tax dodging corporates and found a local alternative (usually still can), we’d clear half of the deficit at a stroke within 2 years and they’d have to start advertising about how much tax they pay like it’s a badge of honour just to give themselves a chance…..


  43. Chris, a fellow pauper! Me too I am officially poorer than church mouse, way below the poverty line but I have plenty of money how can that be?
    Let’s see, owning the house outright helps. Not having any loans, paying my credit cards off each month, paying cash for stuff -including our two cars and saving up for that which I cannot immediately afford, shopping for bargains -getting the stuff that is knocked down on its last day and freezing the surplus. Growing loads of my own veg and 18 apple, plum and pear trees give plenty of jam and chutney as well as some lovely homebrew cider and wine. Not spending 3 nights a week [or even 1 actually] in the pub and peeing away my money, no fish and chips twice a week or take-aways -I can cook Chinese better than most UK Chinese restaurants [helps having lived there] and my Indian and Thai curries are to kill for, mustn’t forget no smoking, no sky subscription.

    I have already had one 2 week holiday in egypt and am looking at skiing in Flaine after Christmas. it’s a bugger being poor ‘innit’.


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