Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The Dentist and the Toe

I was at the dentist and when he had finished
I said, One of my toes is hurting, could you
take a look at it while I'm here?
He said, Sure.
I took off my shoes and socks and he looked
closely at the the toe I was talking about.
He said, I can do a variety of things here, I
can drill down behind the nail and then give you
a temporary filling; I could take a mould, then
remove the toe and give you a new toe; or
I could send you to a chiropodist.
I said, I like the sound of the new toe.
So he said, Fine and got to work straightaway.
It all went fine. This was a few weeks ago
and I've got the new toe. It's OK - not great
though. It's a bit inflexible because it's made
of the stuff they fill teeth with. I was talking to
someone the other day about it, and she said
that all I had probably needed to do was
cut my nails a bit more carefully.

Monday, 13 April 2015

From Labour Deficit till Now in 7 Steps.

1. Under Labour, there was a deficit of £36 billion or so. None of our leaders on either side of electoral politics said it was a problem.
2. There was a worldwide banking and finance crisis.
3. The deficit shot up.
4. The Tories cooked up the idea that this high deficit was caused by Labour's deficit and not by the banking crisis. Not even Mervyn King ex-boss of the Bank of England believes this.
5. The Tories cooked up the idea that the way to bring this high deficit down was to cut wages, cut welfare, cut public services.
6. When that didn't work, they've spent some more government money and printed £350 billion. That has hardly worked either.
7. The super-rich have got super-richer, the poor have got poorer, a lot of people in between have stood still or lost in real terms against prices. Some of us think that has been the real aim of deficit-talk and austerity anyway.

Thieves: Taxmen or…someone else?

Bloke tells me that taxmen are 'thieves'.
Hang on, pal.
Every minute that the workforce works,
the pay they receive is only a percentage
of the total value of all goods or services
that are outputted.
So, yes, some of what's left goes on investment,
buying materials, marketing and rent.
What's left after that is profit.
This profit produces the rich and the super-rich.
The super-rich are getting richer by the day.
The workforce is either staying the same or
going backwards.
Now, let's talk about 'thieves' again...

Both Rich and Poor Took a Hit (Not)

When someone stands in front of you and
claims that both rich and poor took a hit
following the great bankers' crash of 2008
you know that you're dealing with someone
who thinks that buying a Merc 

instead of a Rolls
is the same as buying bread 
instead of meat.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Our gods: 'the city' and 'the markets'

I love the way in which commentators and experts
say the words 'the city' and 'the markets'.
They aren't given to us as groups of people
carrying out actions based on self-interest
or their desire to finish the day richer than they were
the day before.
They are talked of as elements in nature,
like the wind or mountains, yet mysteriously
and magically endowed with the power of manipulating
and determining our standard of living,
how much food we eat or what kind of home
or hospital or school we're allowed to have.
'The city' and 'the markets', we're told, are 'uneasy'
about us having too much.
And commentators invite us to think that
that's because some law of nature has been broken.
'The city' and 'the markets' are like the gods
in ancient Greece, like Poseidon who was
enraged when Odysseus maimed his son,
and went on taking revenge for years after.
Yet 'the city' and 'the markets' are just people
who do things like sell each other debts so big
they'll never be paid back
or buy promises and guesses that can never
materialise.
And they don't stop doing what they're doing
even as the great towers and offices they work in
have to close
and thousands lose their jobs.
These are our gods.

Great Big Bogeymen

Once upon a time, there was a great big bogeyman.
It was called 'Balance of Payments'
and everyone made a fuss about it.
Then 'Balance of Payments' disappeared.
Another time there was another great big bogeyman.
It was called 'Devaluation' and everyone made a fuss about it.
Then 'Devaluation' disappeared.
Another time there was another great big bogeyman.
It was called 'Productivity'.
Everyone made a fuss about it, then 'Productivity' disappeared.
There have been other bogeymen but because they disappeared
I don't remember what they were.
Now we have 'the Deficit'.
That's a very big bogeyman.
Everyone makes a fuss about it.
It's got to 'come down', everyone says.
Our newspapers and politicians love these great big bogeymen.
At the end of the day, making a fuss about
all these different bogeymen does the same thing:
it says to people that they should have lower wages.
Hurrah for great big bogeymen.
Maybe we'll have a new one soon.

The Conjuror Returns and Arranges the Economy….

‘...Ladies and Gentlemen
let me show you something else.
You know and I know that conjuring
is often about distraction.
We entice you to watch one thing
while we are doing something else altogether.
So if I say, I would like you to keep your eyes
on what I’ve got here, you’re going to be
suspicious, aren’t you?
Well, I’ll try it all the same.
It’s a deficit. I want you to watch the deficit.
I am going to do all I possibly can to make
it disappear.
Now to do this I’m going to have to
move some money around over here.
Some people have a lot.
Some people have hardly any.
Will I be able to change that?
So, now you’re confused.
Are you watching the deficit
or are you watching the money?
Remember, if I don’t make the deficit disappear
I will have failed.
It’s getting a bit smaller...
I promised I would...
but, Ladies and Gentlemen
it would be true to say
I haven’t made it disappear.
Oh dear...
But Ladies and Gentlemen
what if that was all a ploy?
While you were watching the deficit
hoping to catch me out,
look what I did with the money over here.
I took money from those with hardly any
and gave it to those who have a lot.
And you didn’t notice,
because you were watching the deficit.
Well, Ladies and Gentlemen
I may not have made the deficit disappear
but I certainly moved the money.
I call that a success.
What do you think?
Thank you very much.
You’ve been a lovely audience.’