Two charts, same planet, not quite the same message.

I present two charts for your consideration:

The first chart is taken from Bill Gate’s Annual 2014 Newsletter where it caught my eye: Bill Gates and his “Three myths that block progress for the poor” http://annualletter.gatesfoundation.org/?cid=bg_tw_po0_012212/#section=myth-one

The chart (click on it to enlarge if necessary)  is interesting and thought provoking  but seems to have something missing.

income growth 2

 

Here is a similar chart, also interesting and thought provoking, particularly as it includes a little more information than Bill Gates’ chart.  (Credit : Chart by @jamestplunkett and it’s based on a chart from inequality economist Branko Milanovic via  http://www.businessinsider.com/chart-of-recent-global-economic-activity-2014-1)

income growth

 

 

This Incredible Chart Explains Almost All Of Recent Economic History

Winners of Globalization: The Rich and The Chinese Middle Class.  Losers: The ordinary citizens of the developed world.   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/branko-milanovic/winners-of-globalization-_b_4603454.html?utm_hp_ref=world …

Bizarre Matt Ridley article tries to blame China’s one-child policy on “western greens”

Matt Ridley has been at it again:

His latest article is titled “China’s one-child policy was inspired by western greens” yet within that article there is not a shred of evidence or a single fact, argument or reference to any evidence that supports the title’s claim.

All he gives is an account of how a Chinese missile scientist, a Dutch mathematician, a book commissioned by the Club of Rome and the Rev. Thomas Malthus (1766 – 1834), may have set off a chain of events that may have contributed to the formation of the one child policy.  However, had Malthus and the Club of Rome never  existed, it seems unlikely that the Chinese authorities would have failed to notice that a rapidly increasing population  might be a problem at a time when they couldn’t feed their existing population.

The reality is that the One Child policy tells us a lot about the ruthless and authoritarian nature of the regime that initiated and implemented it and nothing whatsoever about the ideas or proposals of “western greens”.

In fact the reality is that the article and title tell us a lot more about Matt Ridley and his prejudices than it does about China and the One Child Policy.

For as long as I can remember the consensus amongst western experts, and political commentators from the left or right including “western greens” is that population increase is best ‘controlled’ by better eduction (particularly of girls and women), increased availability of contraception, improved infant mortality and general increases in quality of life and security. Individual free choices will then result in a more or less steady population.  This is an oversimplification and different groups will have different priorities and views about how these targets can be achieved but to suggest that “western greens” bear any responsibility for China’s One Child Policy is simply risible and illustrates yet again the intellectual bankruptcy of Matt Ridley’s articles.

 

Matt Ridley – failed banker and rightwing neolibertarian: http://www.reasonandreality.org/?p=1468

Matt Ridley and “The Anglosphere’s long shadow”: http://www.reasonandreality.org/?p=2969

 

 

British sovereignty ‘at risk’ from EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

Without any public debate our government is rushing us into a free trade #TTIP agreement that will end national sovereignty and democracy as we know it.

(TTIP and TPP are a new breed of international trade pacts crafted by multinational corporations and currently being negotiated in secret).

The Government and media ranting about the EU, benefits tourism, health tourism, benefits cheats, immigration and feckless scroungers keeps everyone’s mind off the financial crisis,  i.e. the ongoing consequences of the 2007/8 banking collapse caused by lack of regulation, greed, criminality and incompetence at the top levels of our financial services.

It also makes sure that no one pays any attention to the international trade agreements that are being negotiated and agreed in our names but with a lack of transparency and total lack of democratic debate.   Despite its faults the EU has democratic accountability with checks and balances – sovereignty is shared between the member nations.  Once the international trade deals are signed there will be no democratic oversight, individual nations will not have a veto or any control over the decisions – it will be what Euro-sceptics claim  about the EU but this time it will be for real, non-negotiable and the power will rest with international corporations while the Nation State will have been emasculated in the name of free-trade.   Needless to say a UK outside the EU would be in an even worse position trying to negotiate free-trade agreements from a position of abject weakness.

These free trade agreements transfer power away from the civilising influence of our democratic institutions and pass them to large international corporations that will be able to run rough shod over the wishes of democratic governments and their citizens.  There will be no chance for civil society in an international free for all.  It will be “top down authority” from companies more powerful than individual nation states.

The issue here is not free trade which, presumably, is a good thing. It is that the trade agreements look as if they are being written by big business for big business – there is little evidence that anyone is looking after the interests of the ‘little people’ – ‘the 99%’ – ‘us’!

Check out the links below and let me know what you think.

 

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP):

Plans to create an EU-US single market will allow corporations to sue governments using secretive panels, bypassing courts and parliaments  The privatisation of the NHS will be unstoppable: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/02/transatlantic-free-trade-deal-regulation-by-lawyers-eu-us

British sovereignty ‘at risk’ from EU-US trade deal: UK in danger of surrendering judicial independence to multinational corporations: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/british-sovereignty-at-risk-from-euus-trade-deal-uk-in-danger-of-surrendering-judicial-independence-to-multinational-corporations-warn-activists-9057318.html

Osborne’s bid to end democracy by the back door: http://mikesivier.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/osbornes-bid-to-end-democracy-by-the-back-door/

Here’s how we’re giving the NHS to USA health insurance companies. Did anyone vote for this? Does anyone want this?:  http://www.euractiv.com/trade/ttip-puts-eus-environmental-soci-analysis-532724?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=EurActivRSS

EU Commission Redefines Corporate Lobbyists As ‘Civil Society’ To Pretend To Be Transparent In TAFTA/TTIP:
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140115/03324325881/eu-commission-redefines-corporate-lobbyists-as-civil-society-to-pretend-to-be-transparent-taftattip.shtml

Why the new US-EU trade deal will be disastrous for the climate:  https://www.wdm.org.uk/climate-change/why-new-us-eu-trade-deal-will-be-disastrous-climate

TTIP puts the EU’s environmental and social policies on the line: http://www.euractiv.com/trade/ttip-puts-eus-environmental-soci-analysis-532724 

The Global Fight Against Corporate Rule – challenging rules that grant corporations the right to sue governments:
http://www.thenation.com/article/177930/global-fight-against-corporate-rule?page=full#

 

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP):  The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a new international trade pact crafted by multinational corporations and currently being negotiated in secret by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) along with 11 other foreign governments. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) describes the agreement as “an attack on democratic governance” and “a punch in the face to the middle class of America.” : http://www.syracuse.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/01/secretive_trade_agreement_would_undermine_democracy_ursula_rozum.html

Critics say vaunted environmental chapter offers few gains to balance downsides of trade deal: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11187155

BBC Wiltshire MORNING SHOW with Conservative MP for Salisbury John Glen

BBCWilts1

BBCWilts2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Glen is very keen to support constituents who don’t want wind farms near their properties but in this question and answer session on BBC Wiltshire local radio he failed to give the same support to those constituents who might have similar objections to fracking.

You can listen to the answer at this link, just move the slider to:   01:31:20     http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01np4wq  (Unfortunately this is no longer available on the BBC web site).

The question was clear and simple. It did not compare the pros and cons of the two technologies. The question simply asked Mr Glen to assure us that he would give the same support to his constituents worried about fracking as he had already promised to constituents worried about wind turbines.  That assurance was not forthcoming.

The reality is that the government wants to give local communities the power to reject wind farms but not fracking projects.

So much for the government’s “Localism Agenda”. In plain English this means that local communities are free to make their own decision only if those decisions coincide with government plans.

Summary (a text book example  of double standards and irrationality):

John Glen is against wind farms, against subsidising wind farms and in favour of giving local councils powers to reject wind farms.

John Glen is in favour of: fracking, in favour of subsidising fracking and in favour of giving local councils a financial incentive to approve fracking.

 Latest opinion poll results:
support for windfarms etc

 

 

Full letter from MPs to David Cameron on wind power subsidies:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/windpower/9061554/Full-letter-from-MPs-to-David-Cameron-on-wind-power-subsidies.html

 

“Blow for George Osborne as Tory council chiefs oppose fracking in Chancellor’s constituency”: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/fracking/10574951/Blow-for-George-Osborne-as-Tory-council-chiefs-oppose-fracking-in-Chancellors-constituency.html

Fossil fuel generators get six times the constraint payments that wind does. But it doesn’t get reported. (H/T Wiltshire Clean Air Alliance):
http://www.scottishrenewables.com/news/sr-calls-greater-transparency-constraint-payments/

Barra turbine could be one of most productive in Western Europe: http://www.stornowaygazette.co.uk/news/local-headlines/barra-turbine-could-be-one-of-most-productive-in-western-europe-1-3267281

Emails reveal UK helped shale gas industry manage fracking opposition – Government officials accused of cheerleading for fracking by sharing ‘lines to take’ and meeting for post-dinner drinks:
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jan/17/emails-uk-shale-gas-fracking-opposition?CMP=twt_gu

UK defeats European bid for fracking regulations – blocks attempts to make environmental safeguards legally binding:
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jan/14/uk-defeats-european-bid-fracking-regulations

UPDATE 6th March 2014): Eric Pickles guilty of ‘double standards’ over energy planning applications: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/06/eric-pickles-double-standards-fracking-windfarm?utm_source=Energydesk+Daily+Email&utm_campaign=83885435a5-Energydesk_Dispatch5_9_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_ad1a620334-83885435a5-50269929

Matt Ridley and “The Anglosphere’s long shadow”

Having brought about the ruin of the Northern Rock Bank[1], Matt Ridley has reinvented himself as a prolific writer of articles supporting a neolibertarian perspective on science and other issues.  I cannot compete with the many critiques of his science writing[1] but the other day I came across this article (click on title link):

The Anglosphere’s long shadow [2] by Matt Ridley
Published on Thursday, January 02, 2014, updated Thursday, January 02, 2014
Daniel Hannan argues that bottom-up liberty has deep roots

This week, in another article, Matt Ridley criticised scientists for cherry-picking their evidence but here we see Ridley raise the art of cherry-picking to Olympic standards.

His first assertion, that Anglo Saxon economics is really doing rather well and that Britain is on course to remain the sixth or seventh biggest economy until 2028 is based on just one economic forecast by the Centre for Economics and Business Research.  However he ignores a few inconvenient facts:

  • Anglo Saxon economics and bankers like Matt Ridley were directly responsible for the worst financial melt down in living history.
  • The banking system has not been reformed and most of the individual culprits are still in post (or just shuffled around a little).
  • The UKs current recovery is almost entirely dependent on increasing levels of private debt plus £1.5B of cash reluctantly issued by the Banks in repayment for PPI misspelling.
  •  If our current debt fuelled, house price bubble bursts the results will be unpredictable and potentially catastrophic.
  • Any increase in UK interest rates for whatever reason will result in large numbers of families defaulting on their debts with unpredictable but probably dire consequences.
  • UK productivity has gone from poor to worse since 2008. Output/hour 29% below USA, 24% lower than Germany & France.
  • The level of criminality in our financial services has been astounding and a number of legal cases are coming to fruition in the near future which are likely to see bankers actually going to jail.
  • The LIBOR rate was not the only rate fix – it seems that just about any rate that was capable of being fixed was fixed.

I could go on but don’t want to be ‘too pessimistic’ – the point is that Ridley’s glowing report on Anglo Saxon economics and the UK’s in particular just does not stack up.

Ridley rambles on about Dan Hannon’s book and the virtues of our common law system. He gives the overall impression that throughout most of British history the spoils of progress have been shared out pretty equitably and that we have avoided the excesses of ‘top down authority’.  Well this may well be true if, like Ridley, you are a member of the aristocracy, but for 99% of the population it has been somewhat of an up hill struggle throughout  history to win a meagre and now reducing share of the national wealth.  True we were lucky to escape the excesses of a Tsarist Russia or the violence of the French revolution and our system of common law may well be superior to the alternatives but ordinary people had to fight sometimes to the death in an attempt to get their fair share.  Ridley is talking as an aristocrat about the experiences of the 1%. He lives in an alternative reality where you make up your own narrative.

Throughout his article Ridley implies that it is too much government that is the problem, completely ignoring the fact that it is only through democratic governments that we have any semblance of fairness and justice. He makes no mention of any malign influence of big business or wealthy landowners like himself. Their misuse of ‘top down authority’ is wiped from the record.

Finally he espouses the benefits of free-trade agreements between nations again neglecting to mention that these agreements transfer power away from the civilising influence of our democratic institutions and pass them to large international corporations that will be able to run rough shod over the wishes of democratic governments and their citizens.  There will be no “bottom-up traditions” in an international free for all.  It will be “top down authority” from companies more powerful than individual nation states. 

The UK in the EU is part of a trading block that has the power (if it used it wisely) to negotiate free-trade deals from a position of strength.  (One is being negotiated right now). The UK on its own would be forced to negotiate free-trade deals from a position of weakness and without friends – we would be mince meat, particularly if Scotland follows the logic espoused by Ridley and leaves the UK.

In conclusion, Ridley’s article is shot through with holes from beginning to end and I would be more than happy to debate, based on facts, evidence and reasoned argument, any aspect of my response. I am happy to admit any errors in my logic, reasoning or sources of evidence.

As I find time I will provide links to sources of support for my assertions – something that is conspicuously absent from Ridley’s article.

 

 Sources:

[1] Matt Ridley – failed banker and rightwing neolibertarian: http://www.reasonandreality.org/?p=1468

[2] The Anglosphere’s long shadow Published on Thursday, January 02, 2014, updated Thursday, January 02, 2014: http://www.mattridley.co.uk/blog/the-anglosphere’s-long-shadow.aspx

UK productivity has gone from poor to worse since 2008. Output/hour 29% below USA, 24% lower than Germany & France.  http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/sep/18/productivity-gap-uk-g7-output  Guardian Sept 2013

Mortgage rise will plunge a million homeowners into ‘perilous debt’:
http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/dec/28/mortgage-rise-homeowners-perilous-debt

Conservative groups spend up to $1bn a year to fight action on climate change: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/dec/20/conservative-groups-1bn-against-climate-change

Plans to create an EU-US single market will allow corporations to sue governments using secretive panels, bypassing courts and parliaments: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/02/transatlantic-free-trade-deal-regulation-by-lawyers-eu-us

War photographer and triple amputee Giles Duley and Falklands War veteran Simon Weston OBE on BBC Radio 4 Today Programme

On Thursday 2nd Jan 2014 the guest editor for the BBCR4 Today programme was the musician PJ Harvey.  Despite balancing programmes edited  by Eliza Manningham-Buller, former head of MI5 and Barclays’ chief executive Antony Jenkins, the PJ Harvey edition was pilloried and vilified by certain newspapers and politicians.  I have yet to hear most of the programme so will not comment apart from to speculate that the ‘shock’ that some people experienced may be more to do with the absence of a true diversity of political opinion on the BBC than what was actually said.

However I did catch one  very moving and thought provoking section of the programme which I think deserves greater exposure.   It was  a piece by war photographer and triple amputee Giles Duley with a contribution by Falklands War veteran Simon Weston OBE.  These two individuals by virtue of their experiences and injuries deserve to be listened to with a little humility not dismissed as “left wing tosh”.  In fact I would make this clip compulsory listening for any politician involved in making decisions affecting military personnel. It should also be compulsory listening for journalists each time they are tempted to write jingoistic, pro war articles without careful and critical analysis of the potential consequences.   Patriotism does not mean uncritical support for military action.

The gist of the item is that the MOD and the media, even in the 21st Century, censor the true horror of military injuries.  This is particularly relevant to the publicity given to limbless basket ball players ‘making the most of life’ when the reality is that  a loss of limbs can be a ‘minor problem’ compared to the other injures likely to be suffered by anyone who steps on an anti-personnel mine.  Injuries that understandably, many war veterans have difficulty coming to terms with, especially when the media expect them to be ‘putting on a brave face’ and ‘rising to the challenge’.

I encourage you to listen to the end of this BBC Radio 4 audio clip introduced by War Photographer, Giles Duley (Just click the play button):


Giles Duley Fund
Simon Weston’s home page

 

Interestingly the Daily Express article linked here does not mention that Simon was talking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme. Falklands veteran Simon Weston calls for more realistic portrayal of wounded soldiers (Daily Express 2nd Jan 2014)

Here is the Daily Express view on the same day about the same programme from which their previous article was taken: ‘Worst Today programme ever’ BBC Radio 4 show slammed for rants and Assange guest spot (Daily Exress 2nd Jan 2014)

Here is a somewhat more nuanced response to the programme:  “Today’s uncomfortable thoughts for the day with PJ Harvey – Musician’s guest edit of BBC’s Today programme drafted in John Pilger and Julian Assange to challenge our prejudices”: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/jan/02/today-thoughts-for-the-day-pj-harvey-bbc-assange-pilger  (Guardian, 2nd Jan 2014)

John Glen’s Christmas message

Here we are riding a yet another debt fuelled  recovery and house price bubble and once again our MP, John Glen, is unable to think of anything more important or relevant to say at Christmas than to issue a message in support of the Wilton Hunt at Odstock.

johnglenmpboxdaytweet

 

 

 

 

 

 

At a time when the traditions and livelihoods of ordinary people are being destroyed by a programme of artificially induced austerity, indiscriminately targeted at those who did nothing to cause the financial crisis, perhaps a more conciliatory, less divisive message, would have been appropriate??

Here is my comment from last year:  The Hunting Lobby has unlimited funds and ample support from very small but very powerful groups. Hunting foxes with dogs is also a very divisive issue, with many regarding the activity as thoroughly repugnant and unacceptable in the 21st Century.   It seems strange therefore that Mr Glen should choose this as the topic of his Boxing Day / Christmas message.  Surely a message more in keeping with the spirit of Christmas would have been appropriate?

 

Here is John’s Christmas message from last year:  http://www.reasonandreality.org/?p=1798

Eight in ten people believe fox hunting should not be made legal:  http://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/3315/Hunting-Poll-2013.aspx

 

Perhaps John could use his Twitter account to support the Archbishop of Canterbury as he urges Christians to fight greed and injustice:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/10537689/Archbishop-of-Canterbury-urges-Christians-to-fight-greed-and-injustice.html

or he could explain why Ministers are scrapping a £20m scheme to keep elderly warm:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/10530467/Ministers-scrap-20m-scheme-to-keep-elderly-warm.html

or he could let us know if he agrees with Iain Duncan-Smith’s criticisms of food banks like the Trussell Trust run by Chris Mould or does he agree with former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who criticises Iain Duncan Smith’s “disturbing” remarks about foodbanks: http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/News/Cambridge-University-college-Master-Rowan-Williams-criticises-Iain-Duncan-Smiths-disturbing-remarks-about-foodbanks-20131224060424.htm

 

More Mail Misogyny

French President Hollande behaves like a shit and an idiot but the Daily Mail knows where to direct its bile:

holland

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An evil predatory paedophile who ruthlessly manipulated those around him is sent to jail for 35 years but the Daily Mail knows where to focus the blame:

Mail Misogyny

 

 

 

Forget 11 % pay rises – MP’s who only represent their party should be paid from party funds not by the tax payer

There has been much discussion about the planned 11% rise in salaries for MPs but I suggest we should also be considering who should pay for those salaries.  Salisbury MP, John Glen, has voted in the Commons 807 times but has never rebelled against his party. He voted in favour of the Health and Social Care Bill which, despite the absence of a democratic mandate and despite promises to contrary, is forcing through a £3.5 Billion top down reorganisation of the NHS and its rapid outsourcing to unaccountable international corporations like G4S. He voted for welfare reforms which indiscriminately hit the low paid and vulnerable. He voted in favour of the current debt fuelled boom in London house prices – yet another bubble that will burst without solving our catastrophic lack of affordable homes.

He was in favour of the appointment of tobacco lobbyist Lynton Crosby as Tory campaign manager and has done nothing to tone down his party’s vindictive and divisive rhetoric or the accompanying output of misinformation and made up statistics. Recently he voted to down grade commitments to ‘eradicate fuel poverty’. He also voted in favour of the lobbying bill, which will do nothing to prevent big companies and wealthy individuals from influencing government but will stifle criticism from grass roots organizations and charities.

In short, the evidence suggests that Mr Glen has put his party before his constituents.

MPs are in parliament to hold governments to account on behalf of their constituents.  If they put party loyalty and ideology ahead of the welfare of ordinary citizens I suggest they should be paid from their party funds not the taxes of hard working families who are striving to cope with a deliberately prolonged period of austerity for which they were not to blame.

Other votes by John Glen:

Tues 7th Jan 2014: Voted against a motion to improve compensation to sufferers of Asbestosis and extend a levy on the insurance industry to pay for research into the deadly disease and its causes. (Bid to increase compensation for asbestos victims fails in Commons: http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/10919958._/) Northern Echo 8th Jan 2014.   (Dr Sarah Wollaston supported this motion as did a few other rebel Tories)
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140107/debtext/140107-0002.htm#14010751000002
Wed 8th Jan 2014: Voted against a proposal to give local councils greater powers to restrict the proliferation of betting shops containing Fixed Odd Betting terminals (FOBT)s.  http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/hansard/commons/todays-commons-debates/read/unknown/669/

 

 

Tory MP, Dr Sarah Wollaston MP demonstrates how to hold her own government to account when they get things wrong:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/10558580/The-Government-has-failed-to-lead-by-example-on-open-data.html  Daily Telegraph 08 Jan 2014.

See also:  BMJ investigation reveals the “cosy relationship” between the alcohol industry and the British government http://www.bmj.com/about-bmj/article-clusters/alcohol

Here is another example of how MPs should be doing their job.  If only we had more MPs in all parties that were prepared to put reason and evidence before party dogma or self interest:   “Plain packaging and minimum unit pricing for alcohol killed off – The only winners, big tobacco, big alcohol and big undertakers“. (Dr Sarah Wollaston, July 2013) http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jul/15/tobacco-alcohol-public-health-minimum-alcohol-pricing