Bullshit

This is odd for me, this is my second post on my blog in three days. I usually post very infrequently but I just can’t keep my mouth shut (or my fingers from punching keyboard keys) over the torrent of bullshit that has recently flooded the British political landscape faster than a pyroclastic flow vomiting from the gaping mouth of a violently explosive volcano.  This week has been wonderful for British politics. Wonderful in the sense of being highly entertaining for someone who takes a keen interest in politics but is so disillusioned with the status-quo that they couldn’t care less what happens.

During the process of this political furore a number of beautiful things have happened, three to be exact, that highlight the extent of politicians’ bullshit. This week the intolerably chirpy Nigel Farage and his nauseatingly tacky yellow and purple covered UKIP bandwagon have rolled through Rochester & Strood on a wave of political alienation and suppressed racism. Mark Reckless, a man with more forehead than sense, has taken off his blue rosette to slip into something more comfortable – the poundshop-looking rosette of the anti-Europeans.

Well, while all this was going on, Labour, always the nose-picking spotty kid in the corner of the playground, have been in some trouble. One of their MPs, an Emily Thornberry, tweeted a picture of a house adorned in the flag of St. George with a white van parked on the drive. She tweeted it without comment. Now, for those of you who don’t understand the nuance of the situation, the English flag and, more importantly, its overuse, is associated with the working class, and more importantly, with an ignorant working class. In tweeting this picture Ms. Thornberry has done the cyber equivalent of snorting derisively in the faces of the proles. “Hah!” she sniggered implicitly, “look at this house and its silly poor people”. Anyway, she’s now resigned after it was reported that Ed Miliband was pissed as hell. The bit that I find absurdly wonderful is that while being interviewed, Ed was asked by a reporter – “what do you feel when you see a white van?” His response? Did he say “I feel nothing, absolutely nothing, when I see a white van because… its a fucking white van and you’re a silly little interviewer asking silly little questions now why don’t you quiz me on things I’m meant to know and do things about like, say, what we’re gonna do about climate change or overpopulation or sustainability?” No, he didn’t answer like that. Instead, Mr. Miliband with the pained and slightly gawky expression of a posh school prefect, said “I feel respect”.

“I feel respect.”

What an absurd, absolutely ludicrously, incomprehensibly, mind-boggilingly ridiculous thing to say. With the wide eyes of a small boy whose headmaster has just asked, “what were you doing behind the bike shed with that magazine and your flies undone”, Ed, with the muffled consonants of someone who has cotton balls stuffed in their mouth, said, with feigned and affected sincerity, that he feels respect when he sees a white van. This kind of whole and complete bullshit just sums up the flaky, disingenuous nature of our gasping politicians as they grapple around in blind panic like desperate little whores doing anything to get their head in our collective car windows. It shows how spectacularly they hold having a view point, or some ideals, or an opinion, in contempt. They will literally let noise fall aggressively and viciously out of their mouths.

Ed and his band of squirming, indecisive nitwits were not the only ones to feel fallout from the UKIP nuke. The right wing, namely the tories, is in disarray because, well, they’ve been out right-winged. This is nothing new. But of note to me was what one of Cameron’s cronies said was the solution to this insurgence. He said that the tories, to compete, would have to strengthen their stance on immigration.

This, you tory twonks, is not the reaction to be had. Perhaps in terms of winning an election, in clinging on to power and influence for power and influence’s sake, perhaps in terms of winning a competition and having to be willing to bite the other guy’s proverbial ear off; perhaps in those terms this is a good strategy. However, in terms of the purpose of politicians as being to espouse ideals and viewpoints in the best interests of the people and to achieve things to further humanity by sticking to ideas and policies because they seem to be the best solution, or even to change policies because another seems better; this tory reaction is a deliberately awful strategy. It is political pandering of the worst kind.

Whether we like it or not we live in a global society, politically, economically and morally, and we owe duties to one another – that is the legacy of dead empires and the burden of globalisation. To even contemplate a policy change with such ramifications as one concerned with migration is grossly irresponsible and entirely cruel.

However, the most poignant and, perhaps, appropriate piece of bullshit that has dripped from the gaping end of this week is Mr. Farage’s reaction to our quickly-aging chancellor’s defeat in the ECJ. Mr. George Osborne was rejected sternly and in no uncertain terms by the Advocate General of the ECJ when he implored our European judicial overlords to un-impose a cap on city-boy bonuses. The cap isn’t really a cap of any effect in the first place, bonuses are capped at 100% of salary going up to 200% with shareholder approval. However with salaries uncapped, bonuses are, theoretically, limitless.

And what was multi-chinned Nigel’s reaction to this development? He said that he hoped people would see, now, that we (Britain) never ever win in Europe. He smiled his face-creasing smile, his toad eyes all alight, and hoped people would see that he’s been right the whole time and this defeat would show people our place in Europe (presumably, in his eyes, that of the cajoled and timid maid who stands back from the banquet table while the real countries discuss things). This is the most insidious example of bullshit yet. If what Mr. Farage made you think resembled anything like the implications he hoped then, I’m afraid, you’re an idiot. The event and his statement showed us two things. Firstly, that the EU and it’s various instruments are still, for the time being, slightly less infected by the virus of City money, City greed and City motivations than Westminster. Our European overlords, at least, still retain some sense of sense, some fairness in their decisions and that, for all else, is a good thing and a factor we as people should not ignore when contemplating our place in the union. Secondly, rather than agreeing with the ECJ decision because it obviously reeks fairness and aims at reducing inequality (even if its only a drip of piss on a forest fire), Nigel chose to point out that we never win in Europe. Like that spoilt fat kid on sports day Farage sobbed, proverbial snot on his sleeve, whinging and crying that “ITS NOT FAIR! WE NEVER WIN!”

Nigel, the tweed-jacket wearing, beer drinking, cigarette smoking, blunt man of the people chose not to represent the proles he claims to, at least in rhetoric, by endorsing the ECJ decision. No, he implicitly condemned it. Mr. Farage showed himself as what he is; he is a City-boy, he is Cameron, he is Ed, he is Westminster.

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Shrinking the Cancer

What would happen if global corporations were banned? By that I mean what would happen if we, say, limited the amount of outlets that each company was allowed to have to, say, 10? What would happen if companies were disallowed from becoming incorporated? What would happen if companies were only allowed to carry on in the countries in which they started? What would happen if their CEO’s were not allowed to invest abroad, bank their company’s money abroad or outsource?

Well, firstly, with the prospective size of companies significantly diminished, they would no longer be the swaggering, monstrous giants they currently are. The directors of companies would no longer be able to hold the sway over Government policy they currently do. Take Philip Morris, for instance – the hulking purveyor of all that is cancerous. If they were not allowed to expand beyond US borders, or if they had not have been in their toddler years when they were still growing, and if the amount of factories and warehouses they owned was limited, they would not be able to afford to ejaculate millions of dollars into the pockets of US politicians in order to slow or stop the rate of regulation on tobacco. They wouldn’t, for instance, have been able to sue the Government of Australia in investor-state arbitration dispute because said Government wanted to make cigarette packets plain – an entirely good-willed policy to protect the citizens of Australia (and thats an endorsement coming from a smoker).

If companies were not allowed to extend beyond the borders of the country in which they’re founded then no longer would amoral behemoths like Nike and Topman be able to reach their long, spindly fingers into less-developed countries and dig all out until their blackened nails were scraping the bottom of the decimated and scorched pit they created. These companies would be forced to pluck employees from the populace of the country in which they carry on. This means those employees would be paid the minimum wage as is the norm among the majority of developed countries.

And do not think the above paragraph is an argument along the profound and articulate lines of “British jobs for British workers”. It most certainly is not. With these trundling, all-encompassing tanks of business no longer allowed to steamroll into whatever country they so please, under-developed countries would be spared the one-sided ‘investment’ that further debilitates their development. They would no longer be subject to this post-imperial colonialism. They would be free to develop their own companies, their own businesses, their own economies and ways of doing things.

The most cursory glance at the relevant economic model, perhaps one of Posner’s, will lead you to the conclusion that competition of the sort that Western capitalism has germinated leads, inexorably and inevitably, to oligopoly or monopoly. We live in a global economy atop which sit a few vast and edificial corporations that reign supreme as Kings of the world. With the ability of companies to expand having been limited, competition will once again be restored. No longer would the massive hairy feet of monetary giants be able to squash the sprouting stalks of other start-ups and companies. Companies would be afforded the opportunity to expand but this expansion would not be unlimited. There would be greater equality and, as a result, greater competition.

Speaking of equality, with the size of companies vastly diminished, fat cats would be a little leaner. Massive pay inequality within companies from CEO to floor worker would be fundamentally reduced. For one, these companies, although able to make profit and do business, wouldn’t be able to command the huge sums they do now and their CEO’s wouldn’t be able to bank big bonuses and sizeable salaries. And, with incorporation no longer an option, they wouldn’t be able to fly home with golden parachutes because the companies’ liabilities wouldn’t end with the company. Without the oligopolistic influence they now command, companies would also no longer be able to underpay and rip-off their employees. With their accountability increased because they’re smaller and Governments, no longer restrained by the wallets of these companies, able to act as they should – as regulators – and with a prevalence of different and competing companies so meaning more employment opportunities, companies would be forced to pay their employees fairly.

I am not calling for a reversion from the increasing inter-connectedness of the world, I fully support the fundamental tenets of the EU, including the free movement of people. I am, however, calling for some kind of reversion from the increasing globalisation of corporations, and the vice-grip they hold over the planet and it’s resources. With companies limited in the amount they can grow – like tumours being scalpelled down – competition between countries and collaboration between Governments would be stimulated. Policy would be uninhibited by corporate pressure. Companies like GM, for instance, would be forced to invest in sustainable, eco-friendly cars both because the effective competition between companies and the democratic policy of Government would bear down upon them. People would have more of a say in what they will and will not tolerate.

Obviously this huge upheaval of the present system would cause some kind of seismic shift in national and global politics as well as the major markets. Shares would do things – bump erratically up and down like heart monitors or glowing roller coasters. But I’m not interested in what would happen to the FOREX; its not real. The arguments I propound for the dismantling of corporations are to do with real things, things that actually exist. They are not premised on the illusory concept of the false global economy, in confidence and shares and stocks and futures and all other bloated and twisted growths that extend from the base idea of an economy.

Companies have a purpose. The purpose of a company is to be a vehicle for delivering, on a wider scale or more efficiently or with more quality than an individual could, goods and services that people require, while bringing gains for the people running them because of competition and the profit motive. That is the fundamental idea of the free-market economy. With companies shrunk, their accountability increased and their influence diminished, we would once again return to the base principle of free-market capitalism and we would return to achieving the purposes behind it.

I am not propagating for the things said in here to be taken verbatim as solutions for a new utopia or some other such nonsense. I am merely expounding an idea that reaches beyond the boundaries of our collective mindset and beyond the solutions we are so often spoon-fed. Tweaks to the life support won’t save this flailing, frothing, obese, rotting, dying system. The whole hospital needs a complete overhaul. More regulation here, cutting some tax there, proposing a voluntary living-wage over there – these things do nothing  to stop the tides. Our way of life, everything we know, will come to an end. Its inevitable. It will take a tug of biblical force to pull on this out-of-control horse’s bit so hard its jaw falls off.