Is Nick Clegg ‘Spam’?

Is Nick Clegg spam?

It seems he can

Be meaningless

And mean.

The Tory fervour’s

Proxy server,

Propping up the ConDem Team. 

Naive Nick, the Phisher’s foil,

Flashman’s ‘special’ filter boy.

He brings you junk

In spun-sized chunks –

A front while cronies take the spoils. 

A waste of time

And faith

And money –

Betrayal so bad.

Replaced by worry –

Now Nick says he’s very sorry. 

So deep is he in his own mire,

The Liar’s mercen’ry-for-hire

Flees the pan to face the fire.

But it’s too late,

Contaminate –

For,

Like the spam you emulate,

You’re power unsolicited.

The LibDem’s future’s ‘marked as read’.

 

 

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Public versus Private

So the public sector isn’t the whole answer and the private sector is not the whole answer. And pitting the one against the other, however hard the corporatocracy tries, is not the answer either…

It is not the public sector’s fault if the private sector cannot provide reliable, affordable, decent pensions. It is not the fault of the public sector that the private sector puts profit before service.

If you work in the public sector, you are a public servant: you work for us; for the good of everybody. That should be a noble use of time and skill. It should be worthy of recognition. It should be deserving of decent working hours, pay and conditions. I want my public servants to feel fulfilled, supported and appreciated. I want them to be worthy of this and, in turn, I want to be deemed worthy of the services they administer. At the moment, for various reasons already identified by many, neither is the case.

I also want this concept of nobility in public service extended to ownership and restored to our public utilities. We understand now that although our national industries were not run perfectly, there was also a concerted effort to deliberately run them down in order to sell us the idea that only private investment held the money and solutions. As it turns out, it didn’t – at least not in any ethically sustainable way. Private, capitalist ownership of vital resources and services turned out to be wonderful for those with vested interests but rather detrimental to and very expensive for the nation’s collective needs. To add extra insult those very same corporations get subsidies – way to make a mockery of capitalism…!  Anyway, it turns out we could have just printed the dosh, made the improvements and invested in ourselves…

There is nothing wrong with having a private sector, but it is just that: private. It has notions of independence and exclusivity attached to it. By definition it is not for general public use without exception and should in no way be sold as a panacea for the efficient and egalitarian provision of essential services. Private enterprise already has its appropriate place in the capitalist market and the corporatocracy should get a hasty grip and suck it up.

Dividing the nation by private-good and public-bad is obscene, reckless and unnecessary and everyone should wise up to this and stop allowing themselves to be held to political ransom through a mainstream media mouthpiece. The one is not and should not be the enemy of the other. Workers within the private sector are also deserving of decent working hours, pay and conditions. For both the poor employee of the private sector and the denigrated public servant there is surely nothing about policy and workers’ rights that a creative, caring and courageous government can’t address with integrity. Like pensions, for example: surely we could at least sort out that awful disparity?

How can it possibly be acceptable that the private sector has for so long been so woefully accommodated that most employees have no provision at all? And what of the self-employed? Who will cover this shortfall? Why everyone else, of course! And, just as top-up benefits demonstrate the inefficiency and misery of low wages, so too does the winter fuel allowance reflect the inadequacy of the state pension. We really should do a better job of working out how much a pension needs to be to provide a comfortable retirement.

I would like some kind of automatic enrolment to be considered so that, regardless of public-, private- or self-employment, everyone contributes to their state pension and for that pension to be a realistically adequate sum on which to live; such that any privately sourced extras are a superfluous desire rather than a vital bridge over a shortfall. A proper, responsible pension system: one that does not carelessly allow people to fall through what is essentially a sensible and rational scheme, only to leave the next generation picking up the slack and plugging the gaps of consistently failing, divisive and cowardly government economics.

Both sectors are appropriate but for quite opposite reasons. The desirability in the private sector is that it recognises an individual’s independence and freedom of choice through innovation and competition; the essentiality of the public sector is that it recognises the value of access and consistency over cynicism and expedience. Yes, each can emulate the other with varying degrees of success, but neither does this perfectly nor even very naturally. Both are valuable; both have their place. The powers that be just need to catch up and learn theirs.

Have You Drawn Your Curtains, Dearie?

And what time did you get up?
Or are you still in bed?
Quick! You have to raise your blinds –
The Government said.
Apparently you’re lazy
If your curtains remain closed
(Even though it keeps the heat in
And the frostbite from your toes).

You haven’t booked some time off
And you can’t have just forgotten
And you certainly are not ill in bed
And feeling really rotten.
No p.m. naps for pregnant mothers,
‘Itches’ scratched in daylight hours –
Sod spontaneous, ardent lovers!

No more privacy from others
Peeping through your windowpane:
Hey Striver! Are you On the Game?
Hey Skiver! Are you on the take?
What do you mean, your carer’s late?
Don’t start that ‘bedroom tax’ complaint!
Disabled people: show restraint!
Stop whining about challenges
When everyone else manages.

Night-shift/shift-workers, why despair –
The Government don’t know you’re there –
‘Coz only daytime work is counted:
Idlers sleep once Sun has mounted.
Night-owls? Oh, they’re just Life’s scroungers,
Welfare cheats and baked-spud loungers.
Diktats raining from on high,
Rein and reigning by and by…

Designers from that Ivory Tower
Seek to make you bend and cower.
If you can’t prove that you are up
You’re just not striving hard enough.
If you conform to homily
You’re one hard working family!

Ode to Politicians

You are Unmasked…

Even when I like what you’ve said
I don’t believe you mean it
Or that you will achieve it
Without a greater cost to something else.
I think your pseudo empathy
Masks patronising sympathy –
That you’ve become Transparency itself.

Oh, I can see right through your spin –
You wear it like a fragile skin
That bares the places you have been
And your commitment to your sin.

Can’t pay, won’t pay, don’t care, won’t share
Shift the blame, the cost – don’t spare
Your spite, your guile, your vitriol –
It masks your fear
That we all know:
The world is slipping out of your control.

Ode to Politicians

[You are unmasked]

Even when I like what you’ve said
I don’t believe you mean it
Or that you will achieve it
Without a greater cost to something else.
I think your pseudo empathy
Masks patronising sympathy
That you’ve become Transparency itself.

I can see right through your spin –
You wear it like a fragile skin
That bares the places you have been
And your commitment to your sins.

Can’t pay, won’t pay, don’t care, won’t share
Shift the blame, the cost – don’t spare
Your spite, your guile, your vitriol –
It masks your fear
That we all know:
The world is slipping out of your control.

Lifted out of Participation

I’m no economist so I’m keeping this excursion simple.

Is it really better to lift people out of paying tax? It sounds like a desirable policy goal on the surface: of course you want to keep as much of your money as possible, but it makes no sense in the general and especially current context. Aside from the wider philosophical arguments about the responsibility and size of an ideal government and, leaving out that conveniently seldom-mentioned elephant – the ability to print a sovereign currency as necessary – isn’t the excuse for limited Government spending usually blamed on the revenue-capacity of the Treasury? That same Treasury that is so starved of income that it’s keen to also ‘lift’ the biggest and the richest out of tax?

So, lack of revenue being the narrative, how does it help the national economy if a growing number of people pay no tax because they can only find part-time, short-term, zero-hour contracts and the like? Part-time work is ideal if you only require part-time wages, but underemployment doesn’t keep the roof over your head and feed your family. It doesn’t cover your bills and it certainly doesn’t make you feel safe. It puts you in almost constant survival mode and this engenders anxiety, hopelessness and resentment because desire and effort are made to seem almost redundant. So, because the underemployed employee can’t earn enough to even cover life’s basics, we know that financial assistance is required from the State.

Suddenly, through a variety of top-up benefits, you are beholden to all the lucky, tax-paying public and, to add insult to the injurious and carelessly laid policy traps, you are generically and fatuously labelled as a ‘scrounger’ who must have some terrible moral deficiency. You are now a gratuitous drain on some fictionalised hard-working majority. Ironic considering how very few people would knock back a chance to genuinely improve their lot if real improvement was on offer.

Maybe, as some will tell you, part-time work, temporary and zero-hour contracts are sneaky economics and avoidable. I suspect this is largely true and quite curable with sufficient and appropriate investment in our common needs, such as infrastructure, public services, housing, science and technology (especially green). In such progressive and abundant circumstances, employees may even see their personal and collective value being more highly respected and rewarded – sufficiently to pay tax.

Maybe, as others will tell you, this epidemic of underemployment is just the consequence of our modern economy to which we must adjust. If this is true then we need to urgently and seriously find ways to make life affordable on minimum hours and minimum wages.

Lifting people out of tax is symptom-based popularism – a convenient way of ignoring the larger reality: we wouldn’t need so much money if it didn’t cost so damned much to live.

There is another issue around this seeming gift of tax exemption which underpins my philosophical view: that renowned concept of ‘no taxation without representation’. Tax contributions are as much a citizen’s way of participating in the running of their country as is their vote. It actually anchors the citizen’s vote by virtue of the State’s need for the contribution as a vehicle of that representation. Thus we derive our right to have a say in a democratic system. 

Moving On

Ideological labelling is a two-edged sword. It is both convenient shorthand, for the purpose of making a generalised point and a poisonous straitjacket, wielded as a weapon of insult. Well I’m tired of such labels being bandied about to no helpful effect. Far from facilitating progress, they just distract from the essential arguments and solutions which invariably require a balanced outcome. Such polarised thinking is confining, isolating if you will and is better reserved for absolutes. As it ‘takes all sorts to make a world’ and, if we believe in freedom, individual empowerment, collective good, national interest, global solidarity – why then, policies need to embody these abstractions and make manifest their humanitarian meanings.  

Our Dear Leaders, governmental, corporate and institutional, are tinkering around the edges of everything because they want to maintain control and to this end they practise more than enough chaos to ensure they do. We still have decent domestic and global frameworks but they are run by hyenas and amoebae. Conflicted between their own self-preservation and collusion with their domestic and global counterparts, they fight for their theoretical survival by toughening up the status quo. This is not progress. This is a frog-march towards entropy.  

Where we are, where we have been and where we are currently going – this is not a viable construct. It never really was because – well, look at the state of things! It took lifetimes of ‘progress’ to get into this state and it will probably take one or two more to counter the damage inflicted. It surely won’t be fixed this decade. Nevertheless, this is a moment of huge opportunity which is being obscenely wasted while The Powers That Be take full advantage of theirs. Progress is always defined in terms of growth, expansion and profit: more, more, more. Of course these are not bad things in themselves but they are also not the be-all and end-all of a thriving Society. In fact they have got us all running to stand still. I look at my country and I look out at the world and I think: concentrate on achieving self-sufficiency and sustainability and build up from there – because, dear Reader, right now, I would call that ‘Progress’. I don’t much care for the ‘buts’ of old ideology or stale economic thinking. I care about principle-in-practice. If there’s a Will, there’s a Way, right? Well I believe the People have the will and that ways can be found. So this is also our opportunity.

Will it take a revolution? Probably, though it needs to be one of united consciousness to be successful. Will it happen? Not if the despots get their way and we have a big fat war, the after-effect of which would be seen as setting a restore time rather than rebooting.  Once the war was over, the world would just be reset by the same people in order to begin the whole cycle all over again. We’d be right back here within a decade. But ‘they’ lack imagination so desperately that they can’t see past their love for broken window economics, so the signs do rather point that way. [I half expect within the next twelve months to hear David Cameron declare a State of Emergency followed by an announcement that elections are postponed until further notice.] So, there’s that narrow window I mentioned in a previous post. Revolt now in united consciousness and seize control before we lose the opportunity, or trust that those who currently can will alter the flight path.  

I believe in identifying the ideal and taking all practical and ethical steps towards achieving it. Yes, I’m an idealist at heart, but I’m also quite pragmatic. I’m not some naive romantic or impractical utopian. I figure that if I don’t get there, I am at least travelling in the right direction. To me, that’s what’s missing in national and global debate. Instead all we get is the feudal, has-been ideology from the usual withered ranks of political discourse. I don’t care so much what it’s called; I care about whether it actually works. We need to be looking at and talking about what it takes for a country to be self-sufficient and how we ensure that Life’s essentials are globally sustainable and accessible to ALL.

This must put philosophical conversations about values and expectations above those of economics – at least temporarily – and dialogue must rise sufficiently high above the existing level of crap. Once we have established our collective priorities we will know what we want our revenue to be spent on and the politicians will be in no doubt as to their function: that of representative management rather than managing representation… unless of course, we decide to do away with politicians altogether. And along the way, here at home we could establish that so-longed-for written Constitution to enshrine our high but common values. This would, in turn inform the basis of our economy. Bottom-up reorganisation. Will and Way. Whose will and whose way will it be?

This will take deep thought, much heated debate, openness and a great deal of patience but we shouldn’t be afraid of stimulating, radical and creative ideas. Imagination is currently all geared towards paranoia, albeit largely justified. Our Dear Leaders can’t see further than their own professional mortality and they will not jeopardise this for the sake of our brighter future because it doesn’t countenance their traditional vehicles of power. Our ideal world isn’t run on the fuels of war, exploitation, profiteering or terrorism, is it? No, our ideal fuels for Life are our precious natural resources, naturally grown food, fresh water, shelter, peace of mind, a stimulating education, an empathic community and respect for all Life: human, animal, vegetable, mineral (and digital?!).

The Vested Interests should be investing in us, the planetary populace. They should be working to achieve lives worth living, not just for their own but for every being on the Earth. It takes courage to let go and raze the dross; it takes respect, integrity, vision, wisdom to build ethical structures. Isn’t that what we want? What is left to carry humanity through is Hope, Despair’s antidote: a grounded, tangible hope, which breeds optimism, aspiration, cooperation, endurance, focus, effort, strength. The Dear Ones can’t or won’t promote this chink of light but the energy of a Just revolution just might.