Friday, 18 December 2015

The poor, the producers and the parasites

I'll come back to this article one day I hope, but in light of my earlier post that created a political division, I'll state that there are 3 economic categories, rather than a false dichotomy of "producers" and everyone else.

  • the poor - in my book, the poor are always potential producers, usually poor through historical inequality.
  • the producers - the engine of an economy and the providers for the others
  • the parasites
And, you could add a fourth category for the retired, which is quite simply the pensioners.

Is there a "lefties" and "entrepreneurs" movement?

It finally struck me today to put a momentarily idle braincell or two to something that they (the braincells) had been whispering to me about for some time.

The thrust of this blog is and has always been that most of societies problems are rooted in deficits in freedom (the liberal bit) and/or civil power (democracy).

Over recent years, it has become clear to me that there is a clear differentiator between the newer tech rich (Sergey Brin, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Larry Page, Mark Shuttleworth and many others), and those whose riches stem mainly from unearned incomes such as those when a price is far above the cost of production (economic 'rents').

These true entrepreneurs earned money from creating a lot of something that people want in a generally free market , as opposed to gaining access to a limited physical resource (such as oil, or development land), and then being able to charge whatever the market will bear, with economic growth and progress just pushing these prices up further.

Accepted, we might all question Microsoft's methods, but they did not have a monopoly over some in demand physical resource such as oil costing as little $1 to produce with over %1000 profit margins.

The difference I notice is that having done something aimed at providing something people need and want, and done so through innovation, these people then tend to look to solve other more challenging needs in the same way, such as the recent alliance for clean energy, or work on eradicating Polio by the Gates Foundation.

This difference is also notable at a more humble level within our local communities.  There are those who came from a wealthy background who often go to work in the City, end up buying lots of 'investment' properties etc, and also those who from a 'normal' background get stuck into solving technical problems, or simply doing those jobs that are very hard work and often with very little reward other than a paycheck.

Politically, the privileged are often labelled the "right" and the workers the "left".

This really leaves out the wealthy entrepreneurs, and the liberal middle class.

To get to my point, I finally realised what unites those who make the world a better place and earn their place in it.  They, we, are the producers.

After the UK 2015 General Election, it's clear that the non-producers, the parasites, gained power and we have a problem.

Perhaps it is time for a new political movement: the producers.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Think someone else is to blame for the riots - take responsibility - it's us!

The media and politicians (and the odd controversial historian) are pronouncing here there and everywhere on the cause of the riots.

It all seems to be about what we should do to or for the 'yoof' of today.

Well. "Bollocks to that" is what I say.

If you think you can sit comfortably feeling all innocent, then let's ask a few questions.

Do you park your car on the verge without any real need, just because it's become a habit?
If you do, that is vandalism. It's damage to public property we all share. No wonder people drop litter.

What about litter?  Drop any recently?

No? So far, you're squeaky clean.  Let's move on.

How about speeding? 

How often do you drive faster than 70 on a motorway in the wet, or drive far too close the the car in front?

If you do, that is reckless endangerment.

Okay... let's go a bit further.  Do you support a 'Premier' league football club?  What example to their players set to our youth?  Well... if you give them money, you're helping finance their ways.

Do you buy newspapers or magazines?  What's on the front cover?  Is it sensationalism?  Are you promoting exactly what these kids end up looking for: to be 'noticed'; to be big against feeling small.

Perhaps you are a policy maker of some sort, suggesting that children need to be 'educated' by testing them to hell so that all but a 'smart' few feel big and the rest need to find some other way to feel 'okay'.

The point here, is that those of us sat pronouncing on the 'yoof' are the example they follow, and the example we set is crap.

So, I say.  Before you take the authoritarian approach looking for how we can control the situation, instead, look first at how you might already control it far more than you're comfortable admitting.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

I just want to donate!

I've just been on Amazon, incidentally to buy a copy of Vince Cable's "The Storm" as, apparently, it's rather good!

After I'd placed my order, the order confirmation screen had a compelling advert from Unicef, looking for donations. I thought 'yes, I'd like to donate'.

So, I clicked on the advert and, encouragingly, I was presented with a single box to enter an amount, with a button next to it, saying "Donate". At this point I wondered if this was going to usefully allow me to donate via my Amazon account.

Alas, I wasn't! On clicking "Donate" I got presented with a form with lots of required fields to give my name and address, so that Unicef can presumably waste my donation sending me dead trees to ask me to donate again and again.

This is a common thing. I've been chased for years since giving a good sized donation to the Red Cross Tsunami Appeal.

So, what's this got to do with liberal democracy, the subject of this blog?

It's about choice. I would like to give a donation to a charity, not add myself to endless databases. I would like to give them money, not an even greater value of my time filling in forms and then later opening post and contacting them to ask the to stop sending me their contribution to the problems they claim they are committed to resolving.

Many many websites have a Paypal 'donate' button, and they make it easy to just send them your money, without the need for a marriage license (that's a rant for another day!).

So. Please please, all you charities. Let us donate!

Friday, 15 August 2008

Whose Law Is It Anyway?

Anyone who followed the recent Camp for Climate Action at Kingsnorth could have a range of views of the policing of that event. It could be anything from: “The police successfully prevented an extreme element from injuring protesters, police and horses” to “a legitimate and necessary protest went ahead despite an extreme element within the police force, who were committed to suppress it”.

For me, my experience of the policing of the camp is something I'm having some difficulty accepting. As a councillor in Cambridge, I work closely with the police and know the intentions of officers are overwhelmingly genuine.

My experience at the camp was therefore rather unexpected. In many areas, the police stopped even bothering to obey the law or justify their actions. They resorted to psychological measures, on most mornings at 5 a.m., assembling van loads of riot police at the gate as if ready to invade the camp. The most bizarre of these actions was to send a number of police vans down the road at 3 a.m. on Wednesday morning, sirens blazing. When the got to the gate, they stopped and played “The Ride of the Valkyries” (theme from Apocalypse Now) over their loudspeaker before silently disappearing back to their temporary tent city (complete with stables and a swimming pool).

Have I been asleep while law after law has given the police so much power and so little responsibility? Are our police so conditioned to obey from above that they'll willfully break the law themselves to carry out an order? I'm dumbstruck!

There is something that now seems more fate than mere coincidence. I went to the camp was to run a workshop. Titled “You call this democracy!”, it looked at how party funding, the voting system, and centralised government give so few people any real voice or influence over climate and social issues.

Looking back now, I didn't realise just how important a topic this is.

We Liberal Democrats, it seems, have a very big fight on our hands. That fight is to wrestle back real accountability and influence for the voters. If we fail, the likely prognosis is that we continue to slide into a scary police state. A state serving, not the interests of the citizens, but instead those of a self-serving few.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Not in my name...

I hope you'll take a few minutes to declare that this isn't in your name either.

Let's all unsubscribe.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Economic suicide: How to sink into the bog

Economists, like Vince Cable, and their imitators (think Mr G Brown and Mr A Darling ;), sometimes talk about "economic drag", or the economy getting "bogged down" and Tories have for years fought for low taxes on the basis of economic efficiency, but what is this "drag" they speak of?

Well, coming up, I'll talk about:

  • What it's not
  • What it is, and it's impact on our lives, our finances and our environment
  • Why lower taxes are what we should aim for, but not the starting point
  • Where we can start: Swapping the TV license to being either an income tax or a fixed component of local taxes (like the police); replacing council tax with something efficient to collect and administer
  • The stupidity factor: The 'drag' of thousands of tonnes of letters that cost more to send than the amount of money they relate to