March 2, 2015

Radicalised by the state

Filed under: Climate Change,Politics,Poverty,War on Terror — ken finn @ 11:40 pm

The more I hear figures from the establishment talk of the need to tackle radicalisation the more it seems I feel a sense of empathy towards those who it deems to have been radicalised. Not since Margaret Thatcher’s premiership have I found myself ranting at the radio or the news with such regularity. As the experts and ministers speculate on the  causes and remedies I hear not once an admission that perhaps the corruption of our system has any part to play in the disillusionment of our young people. I’m not Black, Muslim or Asian but by god I’m angry. I am sick of the lies and corruption of a ruling class that steals with impunity whilst celebrating in PR speak of the virtues of hard working families.  In the calculation that we will identify with this hard working family tag but also in the calculation that we will not bother to see that the House of Commons is near empty for most of the time.  It tells the poor that £57 per week is enough to live on but that it’s unrealistic to expect an MP to work for £1,300 a week plus expenses.

Its a truism that if you know anything about a news story you will know that most of what you read about it or see in the media is either distorted or wrong. Our government wants us to accept its view on its foreign policy, on energy, on the environment, immigration and terrorism but if you care about these issues you will probably have an informed alternative view. If you’ve studied the West’s involvement in the Middle East and Asia you will know that it’s a story of meddling and scheming. It’s mostly lies.  The government it seems support the vested interests that control the media who make the news or filter out what it deems needn’t be news. Today thousands will take part in a demonstration in support of action for the Climate. Virtually all of the media will ignore the story. Climate Change is perhaps one of the most important issues that we face and it’s not even a news story. David Cameron even argues that an alternative view is dangerous and that the likes of those who consider that there are questions to be answered about 911 should be silenced. When we are lied about, ignored and denied a voice our response is anger and frustration.

It’s lies that radicalise, it’s a corrupt system that excludes those who see the truth. The lies that we’re all in this together, that we go to war for freedom.


September 18, 2013

Grim Fairy Tales and Hard Times

Filed under: Debt,Money Creation,Politics,Poverty — ken finn @ 5:28 pm

Sitting comfortably for this tale of tales and tale of lies?

In this land and some far, far away The King has long been naked. While the tailors of the City spin their fabric of lies all are mesmerised by their charms. So skillful of  tongue their silken words have captured the keys to the citadels. In these days the herald plays only their tune while the minstrel mocks the boy who blows his discordant whistle. The wicked witch’s spell begun so long ago is nearly complete.

Skillful silken words… words to tangle the truth, to turn common man against common man and woman. To deflect and turn and turn until in a dervish confusion we accept the tale. And tales they are, as tall as edifices they construct to their own glory.

However hard our times are they are of our making for if I was to continue packing metaphor on metaphor most would spot the allusion.

We know the lies and we know the liars so how come we accept their grim fairy tales and accept the hard times. Hard times that will not go away. How can they? For those who created the problem, the bankers have not been made to change their ways and the debts their failure created will never be paid for by piling hardships upon the poor. The poor didn’t create the deficit and neither did they run up a debt that equals the entire global GDP many times over. We all bailed out the banks and we were promised a new start.

In the days and months following the crash we expected a new accountability and regulation of the banking system. Unimaginable amounts of tax payers money was poured into the banking system to help sustain it while a solution to the crisis could be mounted. At the expense of the real economy and our social programs money was diverted to save the banking sector. This liquidity designed to keep the system and the economy afloat was instead hoarded by the banks as insurance against a future crash. And it seems it could happen again as the London house price bubble would indicate that little has changed.

That opportunity for change it seems has passed. In the years before the crash the City insisted on light touch regulation and governments obliged. The whip was in the claw of the Golden Goose and the City’s importance to the UK economy was its shiny golden egg nesting at the centre of the European money markets. When the egg went rotten our governments should/could have acted. At that moment there was a perfect moment for democratically elected leaders to act, to take back the power and to regulate the banks. Instead they dithered and in a perverse turn around our governments now have had to come to heal. Our governments borrow money on the Bond Markets, IOU’s to the banks to fund day to day business and short falls in income. If the bankers don’t like a country’s policies they hike up the interest rates increasing government costs and the need for more austerity. No one likes the Greek shoes so policies are designed to please the markets.

The Robbin Hood tax, the breaking up of banks, tighter regulation, none of it can happen because the puppets in government have to perpetuate the fairy story, that the banking sector is good for us. Yet how can public sector workers, the sick and the poor be scapegoated for a banking failure of such a magnitude while the true villains of the piece go unchallenged?  I watch with despair as the spinners spin their lies with a growing confidence. Plain untruths are delivered unchallenged by the peddlers of the latest facts or news. Statistics that support the petty prejudices that turn citizen against citizen are bandied about with little or no basis in fact. Propaganda that would have passed muster in Joesph Goebbels ministry seems to enthrall the mainstream media in its willingness to toe the line.

What saddens me most is the evidence that the fairy story is taking root, the small minded campaigns that declare ‘I’m Proud to be British’ with their racist message hardly veiled or the way the skiver versus striver story plays out in the Internet comment threads or in the tabloids. We’re not in this mess because of immigrants, benefit claimants or the welfare state. Instead we live in a time when the greatest transfer of wealth is being carried out under our noses. There is no austerity for those who created the crash instead they get wealthier while we argue whether those with a spare bed should be penalised.

What can we do? Well, we must where ever we can have the discussions about the real reasons for austerity. We also have a stake in the banking sector through our ownership of RBS and a big chunk of LLoyds TSB. We don’t have to ask these banks to behave, we can tell them what we want them to do. Our banking system is flawed but we could have an alternative on the high street. The Royal Bank of Scotland could be transformed into a national network of banks that have to focus on their local needs and the needs of it’s owners, you and me. Let’s stop the government just selling it off at a knock down price to their mates. It’s ours, we paid for it and that’s the end of the story.

Ken Finn

August 9, 2006

Wrong Question, Wrong Response

Filed under: Poverty — ken finn @ 6:34 pm


Some weeks ago I was invited to Westminster to be a ‘witness’ at The Conservative’s Globalisation and Global Poverty focus group. David Cameron has said he’s serious about dealing with poverty in the developing world and has invited some big names to help find solutions.
Offering their views on the day were Sir Geldoff, Duncan Green from Oxfam, Mike Moore ex Director General of the World Trade Organisation and Kurt Hoffman director of the Shell Foundation.

I have no reason to doubt David Cameron is sincere in his desire to eradicate poverty. Listening to the evidence though I couldn’t help but think that the assembled experts were bound to offer solutions shaped to fit the needs of the global corporate economy. In fact the process seems about finding new ways to make old and largely failed strategies work. Duncan Green from Oxfam in his opening statement said, “Bad rules are better than no rules,” referring to the flawed WTO regimes imposed on developing countries. The rules that have ensured that very little of the wealth generated in the last 20 years has found its way into the hands of the poor. It’s hard to imagine how much worse it could be without rules.

It seems to me that the experts are starting from the same old premise. The accepted mantra is increased trade generates development which creates wealth that alleviates poverty. All strategies that deviate from this formula are deemed unrealistic. Yet you don’t have to look far to see that there is no hard link between wealth creation and poverty reduction.

I saw a great poster the other day; it read, “If war is the answer, we’re asking the wrong question.”  It seems to me that Free Trade is the wrong response to poverty

What institutions like the IMF and the World Bank offer the developing world as a model is flawed. It’s unsustainable and inequitable; in truth it’s not much more than an extension of colonialism. Crumbs from the top table in return for hard labour and the resources of their lands on the cheap

Thriving communities have at their heart all kinds of exchanges, goods, services and knowledge and more.  Trading systems should help to distribute the resources that people need to live happy healthy lives, tools to achieve an equitable balance, that’s all. Trade isn’t community and when we make economic activity the barometer for a healthy lifestyle we are bound to overlook the fundamental elements of a happy life. Trade serves people best when people aren’t in servitude to trade.

The developed nations of the world are approaching a major change point. Rapid and continuous economic growth has been possible through cheap and abundant oil. Resources like minerals and timber have been there for the taking. The speed at which we’re using these commodities became unsustainable even before economies like China entered the game. Like it not the developed economies are in for a shock sometime soon. It will be hard enough for wealthy countries to adapt to the coming energy shock of rising oil prices and insecurities of supply but to encourage poor countries to adopt our energy intensive economic model will be a disaster. For instance what will happen to the farmers in Africa growing flowers for the European market when aviation fuel costs make it prohibitive to send their blooms to market?

It’s about time we realised that we don’t have all the answers. In fact it may be that developing nations will have a thing or two to tell us about adapting our economies to living within our means and creating local solutions and local markets as the energy crisis bites. If anything this could be a wonderful opportunity for a true exchange of ideas rather than the perpetuating the idea that the west knows best and that a free global economy is the answer to poverty.

April 12, 2006

Make Stock Challenging Links Dot Org

Filed under: Poverty — ken finn @ 9:17 pm

Passionate Lilly free trade dysfunctional Labour waste Conservative globalisation alternative crime history new growth fatigue in asylum of mass destruction of as many people as possible and poor Geldof giving poverty a Liberal sustained weapon


Don’t miss out on this Stock! Cock!

Did you get one of these emails recently? I’ve been getting them for weeks now. A list of random words probably designed to maximise search engine results and then an offer on shares in a new ‘Petroleum wonder stock’

The string of emotionally significant words that actually don’t amount to anything but trigger a response as sucessfully developed by Mr Bush and more recently taken to new hights by Condoleza Rice seem to have been adopted by email marketers.

Talking of words that go nowhere, I notice that the Conservatives have launched a new initiative “Global Poverty Challenge” and a new website to go with it. The headline reads “David Cameron has set out six big challenges that our country faces. They’re complex, interconnected and require serious long-term thinking. We want to make sure we get these challenges right…” [nice emotive word grouping David]

There a just two links on the Global Poverty Challenge site which, are The Conservatives (working, naturally) and Make Poverty History (dead) The problem it seems is that the MPH site is dot org, NOT dot com. Easy one to miss for Sir Bob who’s going to help the Conservatives get it sorted and credited on the site as being instrumental in the creation of the “Make Poverty History” campaign.

So there, we can trust them to meet the challenge. Anyway wasn’t the MPH campaign designed to run for just 2005? Mmm these boys have their fingers on the pulse!

Anyway I promise to eat my words if this bunch are any better at delivering trade justice than the current bag of ‘Significant Scrabble tm!


 Get Mr Blair to keep true to his promises

December 30, 2005

The Dark Side

Filed under: Poverty — ken finn @ 10:05 pm

Bitter Sweet

Green & Blacks falls to Cadbury, Zac Goldsmith editor of The Ecologist poses with David Cameron on his first day and now Sir Bob Geldof is to advise the Conservatives on global poverty.

Why do I find these developments disturbing, like my hero’s have gone to the other side?

Will Cadbury’s trash the ethical principals of Green & Blacks chocolate? My guess is no simply because as a brand it has come to represent something well beyond a great taste. It stands for trade justice and organic ingredients, a safe and ethical purchase. In acquiring Green & Blacks, Cadbury Schweppes has not only captured the fastest growing confectionery but also given a tarnished portfolio a new lick of green gloss. Nestle have just created their own ‘ethical’ coffee brand from scratch to cash in on the boom in conscious consumer sales.
This is where the hypocrisy catches. I have no doubt that when a corporation has a mixed portfolio it will continue to source ingredients for it’s mainstream products without the consciousness reserved for its new ethical lines. In marketing terms ‘ethical’ is just another ‘market segment’ and the ‘ethical shopper’ another target market. Any idea that an ethical brand will transform the heart of the hardnosed corporation from within are pretty naive.

Days of Hope

Throughout 2005 the development of the ‘Geldof’ brand has been going very nicely. From standing with Nelson Mandela at the Launch of “Make Poverty History” to “Live8″ his product equity has risen and risen even contrary to the success of the campaign to eradicate global poverty. The Conservative Party have no doubt chosen him to advise them even though there are better qualified to do so for the improved ethical ‘cred’ his brand delivers.

Sir Bob has dismayed many of his admirers including myself for failing to criticise the G8 countries for their failed response to the massive call for action on poverty. I don’t blame him for the failures of government but I do think that he has a duty to point out that failure before he goes onto advise another party and perhaps future government.

As for Zac … What are you thinking about?! As oppositions crumble we need the likes of you outside govenment as never before. Source

Broken Promises …
Response From Oxfam
Response from ActionAid
Response from Make Poverty History

October 22, 2005

Time slaves of the new prosperity

Filed under: Economic Growth,Poverty — Administrator @ 1:07 pm

Dream On!

If Thatcherite policies were flattening our manufacturing industry a new saviour was on the horizon, the Leisure Industry.

Slick business analysts predicted a boom in free time and that the new business opportunity was in ‘Leisure’. At that moment most of us were desperately trying to keep afloat as the arse fell out of the only economy we knew but we were assured that that this was just a short painful readjustment. In 1980 we were at the dawn of a new era.
Making stuff was a task for the third world and our service industries would soon take up more than the slack. Once the economic conversion was done the workers of our modern economy would have far greater wealth and more importantly increasing time to spend it. Retirement ages would steadily fall, as would the working week, 50 would be a good age to plan for retirement and a life of healthy pursuits and leisure. Those still working could expect a 30 hour week.

Prepare for Leisure!

In 1980 a start on the property ladder, a two bed terraced in central Reading, Berks would set you back circa£11,000 a new well appointed hatchback car c£3,000. A minimum 40-hour week was still a norm and a mortgage no greater than two and half times your annual wage.

25 years later the same property costs c£160,000 and the hatchback c£8,000. In practice the 40-hour week has increased considerably with many skilled and unskilled people citing 50 hours now being a norm. It’s now also probable that you will borrow four times you annual salary to get on the property ladder.

The corporations have squeezed the last penny from the cost of production from often poor developing world producers to make commodities from clothes to cars and food cheaper in real terms than ever before. While these cheap trinkets create an illusion of wealth rocketing property prices have made slaves of us all.

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Money Trick credit Socialist View