Reading the headline at a news site this morning, I was told that the Spanish people would vote to decide on bailout, graft and crisis. Clearly, that’s going to be a toughie: do they want to be rescued from debt by more debt, neither of which are real? Do they want crooked pols embezzling what little money they have left? And are nonstop crises a good or bad thing?
That’s the thing with indirect democracy, the choice on offer is an embarrassment of poverty. Or a poverty of riches, whichever you prefer. In the classic tradition firmly established by the European Union over the last decade, the choice between social democrats and social conservatives has been extended in Spain to more extreme alternatives….about whom the sensitive Mr Rajoy asked yesterday, “Is that what you want – an alliance of losers?” Excellent. Disturbingly, Bloomberg’s panel of opinion leaders think the PM is spot-on: 70% of them felt an alliance between Rajoy’s conservatives and the even more neoliberally looney Ciudadanos would “offer the best chance of economic recovery”.
The Elders of Bloomberg are obviously hazy on the ‘how we got to here’ dimension. ‘They should’ve gone to Specsavers’ would be the standard joke, except that their problem isn’t myopia: the difficulty all those who fell for the Friedman fantasy have is their voluntary existence in a capsule where zero reality is present. This is like Tim Peake in zero gravity, except that even Britain’s debut astronaut probably does notice when he’s upside down on the ceiling.
Janet Yellen could have her clothes on inside out while walking backwards up the wall, and nothing would bother her – for the US Fed is the world’s largest zero-reality space after Brussels-am-Berlin. Another bunch of thinkers – asked by Reuters what her next move would be – answered, on the whole, “She’ll be cutting rates again within a year”. It’s another of those opinions based on the belief in gradual panics, but either way, can it really be true that Yellen & Partners actually believe the recovery is coming?
Many would answer “No” to that, but having seen the way some of these people live in the ‘huge office >> limo to restaurant >> press conference >> TV interview >> limo to gated condo’ capsule, I’m not so sure. The zero-reality atmosphere is 100% pure, and far too often one hears people say stuff that really amounts to “then let them eat coal”.
Someone who has met and worked with Jeroan Dijesslbloem told me earlier this year that, while the bloke clearly is a nasty piece of work, he is also profoundly unaware of the suffering being meted out by his informal (that is, illegal) little EC fiscal austerity enforcement sub-committee. Explain to him that no economy in history ever recovered by the introduction of anti-growth austerity, and he just gives that curled-lip- stare-blink tic thing he has. “My father,” said my German informant, “told me that he came across dozens of Nazis in 1945 convinced that blowing up bridges would delay the Allies until such time as the American public grew tired of the War”.
But then, Jeroan is also in the capsule where there is no accountability, no contact with victims, no contrary opinion and no creative thought….just more red carpets and chauffeurs and dinner plates and flashing cameras. It is almost as if, since 2010, the entire politico-financial leadership class has been incurably infected with tertiary Mugabe syndrome. Robert the Great of Zeembabwayeee thinks washing your bits after intercourse can stop you getting AIDS. Hitler declared the Japanese to be Honorary Aryans. George Osborne thinks the Beijing politburo should be given the keys to Britain. They’re all similar trains of thought (they all, for example, lead to wheels coming off tracks) but the key congruence is warped reality based on no experience whatsoever of the practical ramifications for ordinary citizens; they are vaguely aware that ‘theoretically’ they are accountable to those citizens….but when the thought occurs to them, it evokes only a cynical smirk.
Everywhere you look in the world today, Nation States are either led by, or following the policies of, power-junkie amateurs emitting an air of masterful knowledge – the only flaw in their outlook being that they have no real idea at all whatTF they are doing….beyond garnering power.
Barack Obama was a student, then a lawyer, then a Senator, then the President of the United States of America. David Cameron was a student, then a minor PR executive in a television company, then an MP, then the Prime Minister of Great Britain. Angela Merkel was a student, then a Communist Youth Leader, then a CDU MP, then the Chancellor of the German Bundesrepublik. Francois Hollande was a socialist activist, then a civil servant, then an MP, then the President of the Fifth Republic of France. George Osborne was the pampered son of a fabulously rich drapery family, then a PPS, then an MP, then the Chancellor of the British Exchequer.
Search if you will for a competence in there, but you will search in vain for a single thing required to do their jobs well. Observe only what they do when given power: they use it to protect not those who elected them, but themselves, their class, and their paymasters.
Obama made himself an honorary Caucasian within days, and then presided over the creation of a surveillance State in six years flat. Cameron used a smiley former euronaut to get himself into Downing Street, lied about every aspect of the economy to get himself reelected, and three weeks ago passed the most dangerously anti-liberty legislation in British history: anyone who opposes this two-dimensional, four-faced man is now to be dubbed a non-violent extremist.
Angela Merkel shafted every benefactor who helped her into power, and then elected herself Empress of Eurotitanicca before helping to destroy the economies of four Mediterranean EU member States. George Osborne set out to obliterate Britain’s current account deficit (failed) rebalance the UK economy away from services (he scored -15% on that one) and start repaying UK debt (it’s rising faster than ever before). Over that period he changed most of the data-recording criteria to politically favour his effectiveness scores, and got rid of everyone with the means of blowing the whistle on his blatant rigging. But he dare not touch the Office of National Statistics (ONS) – and that source shows the British economy going back into deflation, not forward into genuine growth.
These are my three closing observations for today: moving among the ‘lower orders’ and sharing their frustrations with underinvested infrastructure develops a healthy sense of humility. Selling to the less well-off teaches the entrepreneur a lot about citizen wisdom. Listening to constituents rather than smiling patronisingly at them helps to stop fears before they turn into extremism.
The failure of the Western political class to obey any of these dicta has produced Golden Dawn, Donald Trump, the BNP, The Front Nationale, and yes, the SNP in Scotland, UKIP’s Nigel Farage, Podemos in Spain, the Five Star Party in Italy, and the Left Alliance in Portugal….although I must stress that I do not lump the last five in with the first four.
All leaders who spend their lives in bubbles, capsules, Zil lanes and bunkers lose their power in the end. But in doing so, they cause large social minorities to lose their way. In the upheaval that follows, civilisation is always the loser.
The greatest fulfilment of the greatest number produces elegantly inefficient cultures within which life for that greatest number becomes more disciplined, creative and altogether renewable. ‘Efficiency’ is a value-laden, relative term: those pursuing it tend to rhyme the word as follows:
In searching for your liberty
You’ll find role models just like me –
a member of the Royal We
if you pursue efficiency.