Why is everyone so upset about Brexit?

Listening to the conversation on the radio, TV, newspapers etc. you would think that the UK decision to exit the European Union is a form of country wide suicide, which has the potential of becoming a global Armageddon. Frankly I don’t see it.

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There are arguments for both the UK staying in the EU and for leaving, the country voted, and the democratic decision is to leave. But it seems those who were hell bent on remaining are a little upset. I get it, but it really isn’t the end of anything.

Being in the EU had some value of course, and being out also has some value. There are different strategies that is all.

I’ve heard people opining that now they won’t be able to travel to Europe, and their kids dreams of living all over the world have been dashed. This is just not true. Before the UK joined the EU, large numbers of people chose to live in other countries including Europe and beyond, and nothing has changed. Let’s face it every English bank robber from the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s moved to Spain, and there was a lot of work for the Police and courts to deal with finding and extraditing them. Now I believe the ex-crooks choice of destination is a large estate just outside of the M25. Thousands of Brits live in the United States of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Asia and everywhere else. Thousands more live in France, Germany, Spain, Italy etc. and from my experience I can confirm that moving to a country in the EU is no less bureaucratic than moving to one outside the EU. I’ve done both and frankly it’s just down to the friendliness of the people in the town you move to, and many European destinations are known for making life hard for foreigners. Try moving to France and you will see what I mean, some towns are wonderful, some are not.

There is this fear that businesses will move their jobs to Europe, now that the UK is out of the EU. Again this is just not true. Businesses will place their jobs where the business environment is friendliest to them, with the most beneficial taxation and employment laws. Having hired people in Italy, Germany and France, my experience is that the climate is not business friendly and the UK already has a massive advantage in its employment laws, and this is likely to get even better now that the UK government can make decisions that are UK economy focused. It’s one thing for companies to say they will move to be in Europe, but another to actually do it. Today many US and European companies have moved their European HQ’s to Switzerland, now they may choose the UK. There are some great places to do business in Europe, places with superb work forces with highly technical skill sets and language skills, and the UK is one of them, and can compete quite nicely.

There is this fear that the UK will become a closed country with no immigration. ARE YOU KIDDING ME. The UK has the strongest history of immigration from its empire days, and the incredible people that moved to the UK from India, Pakistan, Africa and the Caribbean are a testament to the power of immigration. The question will just be (like it is for the USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, China, etc), what are you going to contribute to the UK? People in need have always been able to come to the UK, and that will clearly continue, and people who bring value to the UK have always been able to come to the UK and that will also clearly continue. The only change will be that the UK will set the rules. I remember taking the train from Paris to London and having to go through 2 immigration checks at the Paris end, firstly by the France immigration and then again by the British Immigration at a desk no more that 10 feet behind the French. Why, because the French were allowing (pushing?) immigrants who they didn’t want to keep in France to go to the UK. It was a French way of not following the immigration rules that were setup by the EU. The UK of course always followed those rules. Now the UK can set the rules, and being British I believe they will be fair. So I don’t expect there will be any problems with NHS doctors or nurses, as they will still be encouraged to come to the UK. And I expect that the Polish plumbers (who may well be the best in the world and clearly have an amazing work ethic) will not be pushed out of the UK. Conversely, if you happen to have a skip in your garden while you renovate your house, you may now find it fills up a bit quicker, as I expect there will be less people rummaging through it for metal (this will only make sense to a UK resident).

The fact is that about a quarter of a TRILLION dollars of gold is stored in vaults under London. And London is in the best position of any country to continue to be the conduit for money transactions between continents. Actually being outside of the EU may well provide the UK with an even bigger advantage in this regard if the UK government and its regulatory authorities are smart.

The UK has some of the best universities in the world, some of the most innovative engineers, and some of the best employment laws anywhere for industry and businesses to grow. Since the 1980’s though the UK has focused on moving from building things to selling things, and this has had a terrible effect on manufacturing and raw material production. It’s quite possible for a UK outside of the EU to turn this trend around, and make the UK the leader in new industries that are only just emerging now. What is needed are leaders who truly can inspire the population, and I believe they do exist and the climate is ready for them to take the lead.

The UK is well known as being a green and pleasant land, and that means it’s a wonderful environment for agriculture, animals, fishing etc. Again government policies designed to stimulate agriculture and focused on the UK’s specific interests would be wonderful to see.

Rather than being depressed about leaving the EU, the UK should see this as a chance to lead.

Being in the EU was hard, and being out of the EU will be hard, it’s not the EU, hard is just a fact of life. A choice has been made, and now it’s everyone’s job to make it work.

 

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People of America, Your Attention Please

BRICKINTHEWALL

 

When you look at the UK decision to exit the European Union, please look very carefully; This is not the same as voting for Trump.

The UK has a democratically elected parliamentary system (A little bit like the president, house and senate, just a bit more pomp and ceremony, but about as dysfunctional), and it is currently also part of the European Union (a complex series of interconnections between 28 countries with a sometimes stated goal of becoming the United States of Europe, with some amazingly good social ideas and some really scary social and political ideas that seem to harken back to times of people with funny mustaches and no knees).

Having two overlapping political systems should seem very normal to every US Citizen, what with state and federal organizations.

But then the UK also is a United Kingdom consisting of England, Wales, Scotland and (a chunk of the Northern part of an island mostly made up of the country of Eire), called Northern Ireland, along with a smattering of other islands around it’s coasts and a couple of places that are just there for sport (yes Gibraltar I’m thinking of you). Some of these areas also have their own parliaments, which may seem confusing to you (because it is).

Scotland is really poor most of the time, well it’s not actually poor, but it costs more to run than the gross domestic product it produces. This means it needs a sugar daddy to buy it a nice apartment in exchange for a few castles and access to its ample supply of sheep and whiskey. It seems that under the auspices of the EU, Scotland was just one of many areas in this situation, and so a good supply of readies was always available with more always promised (but never quite delivered), and the Europeans were more interested in using it for holidays than f&*ing the sheep, which made them easier to deal with than the politicians in Westminster (England).

Wales on the other hand is really full of sheep, and men with good singing voices, and generally they like to be left alone (to sing to their sheep we all assume), so being part of Europe was not generally seen as anything of value, but it’s very expensive, so with a few exceptions most of Wales wanted to be left out of Europe and left alone as usual.

Northern Island on the other hand is full of people who shout all the time, and really like drinking. This is exactly the same as the people in Eire (Ireland to you), and they can walk there for a pint and a good argument and then walk home again. While going to drink in the rest of the UK requires a boat, which is actually harder than walking. So the Northern Ireland folks mostly want to be part of Europe, specifically with those in Ireland. Except some don’t and they have in the past made that really clear, by fighting amongst themselves in quite serious ways and blowing lots of things and people up. Since those who want to be part of Europe mostly don’t use contraceptives while those who want to be part of the UK do, time will be the great decider, as one group has massive families (of voters) while the other doesn’t. At some point in the next couple of generations the vote will go to those who want to become part of Eire, and the hope is the shouting and drinking will be enough until that happens.

The English on the other hand are more complex, anyone old enough to have a parent or grandparent who fought in WWII wants to leave Europe (remember what we fought for in the war etc.), while everyone who is younger wants to move to Spain and party while collecting government handouts. In fact, it seems most of the largest city (London) wanted to remain in Europe, but it rained quite hard in London on the day of the election so a lot of younger people it seems stayed at home. I wonder if this lack of a focus on actually winning comes from their schooling where sports are not about winning but about spending an afternoon in the sun in a Lacoste shirt and shiny new white trainers and receiving a medal for just being alive.

Anyway now that the UK (Britain is its other name) has voted to exit Europe (Brexit, get it now), and everyones heads have exploded, because up to now no one really thought this would happen, it was supposed to be a moaning vote (a way of expressing a complaint that could be ignored) and like all moaning votes was never supposed to lead anywhere. But it has and now everyone is realizing they really should have worked out a plan of what to do next.

But being British means that they are used to making stupid mistakes and then turning each mistake into something unexpected and brilliant.

Anyway people of America please look very carefully at the Brexit vote, it is not like voting for Trump, the UK still has a democratically elected parliament not run by a raving sexist, bigoted, xenophobic bull-shitter (of course that also could happen in the UK, there is one or two waiting for their chance, but it has not happened yet).

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The Minimum Wage Is Just A Distraction.

Politicians of both parties want to pander to their political bases. Republicans want to show that they are providing good value for their oligarch masters by ensuring that it’s legal to pay ridiculously low wages to employees and that there is a good supply of illegal (ie. Close to slave) labor.

While Democrats want to show their supporters that they are looking to help the working people by increasing wages. But they do very little to actually increase the living wage for anyone below the upper levels of society.

And they both use the minimum wage as a flag to fly to support their cases.

But let’s be really clear, no one is proposing a minimum wage that is high enough to actually be livable in the modern United States of America.

The amount of money it takes to live clearly varies depending on many factors, such as the cost of local housing, basic amenities (water, power, heating etc), consumables (food, clothes etc), healthcare, transport, and services. These costs vary depending on where you live. When you add all these basics costs up, it’s clear that a single person or family living on minimum wage incomes cannot possibly survive anywhere without additional support from government programs (either tax rebates, social services or other forms of grants).

The republican view is that these people just need to work harder; otherwise their employers will find it better to take their jobs offshore.

The democratic view is that these people just need more support from government, either in direct assistance or support programs to help them get a better job.

Neither of these approaches ever work as planned, and I don’t think they are really expected to, so long as the bases of each party believe that their politicians are doing their bidding, the politicians are happy to posture and actually achieve minimal change.

There are programs that can work, but these mean actually looking at the causes of a problem and not the symptoms, and it doesn’t seem that either major party is ready to do that, except maybe at the fringes with lefty loons and right wing nut jobs.

The basic issue is that we need people to be employed and we need these people to earn enough money to be able to live without having to be supplemented by government-collected money and hence re-distributed money. This can happen, and the simplest way to make it happen is to create a system whereby employers must pay employees at least enough such that the employees don’t qualify for any form of government assistance (excluding health and disability related help). If an employer pays an employee less than that minimum level then the employer should have a tax levied on them at a level greater than the cost incurred by the government in supporting that employee, and it can be calculated at an hourly rate to cover full-time and part-time employees. That’s actually a very simple calculation to perform.

If an employee works X hours per week for an employer and is paid $Y per hour, but they get $Z of total assistance from government organizations then the impact of underpayment from the employer per week is Z/40 * X (assuming we expect a worker to work 40 hours a week). If Y > than the threshold for receiving benefits then the employer is paying the true minimum wage and no benefits are being received from underpayment of wages. If not then a tax of (Z/40 * X) * 1.5 should be levied on the employer. So it is cheaper for an employer to pay the worker a living wage than to pay the increased tax, that would quickly encourage everyone to pay a living wage.

This formula calculates the impact of assistance per hour so works just as well for part time workers as full time workers.

And to balance that cost there must be a levy on all services and manufacturing that is provided out of the USA. So it becomes cost effective to employee in the USA.

If employers were paying a level to their lowest paid employees that reduced the need for government assistance, then the amount of money government needed for these services would go down, allowing taxes to go down.

Obviously like any idea, this only works if politicians actually had the aim of reducing taxation and increasing the quality of life of the working class, but it really is not clear that is the true aim of any of them today.

It would be beautiful if there was a politician who actually wanted to reduce the tax burden by actually fixing broken programs, rather than pandering to their personal masters, but I just don’t see it happening anytime soon.

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Enhancing Shareholder Value a.k.a. killing business success

At some point in the 1980’s someone came up with the idea of shareholder value. The idea was that the ultimate success of a company was to maximize the value that the company delivered to shareholders. Seems like a pretty reasonable idea, until you start to see what people who use this term really mean.

What is often done in the name of “enhancing shareholder value” is totally the antipathy of the obvious definition of the idea.

Surely (you would imagine) that shareholders would want to see a company perform well over a long period of time. And you would imagine that performing well would be a simple concept, where the money a company spends on developing and selling its product would be less than the money it brings in from its customers. You would imagine that in the same way you balance your bank account every month a company would be measured as being successful if there was “profit” on the business they perform.

But you would not be correct!

The stock market and therefore the executives of large companies look for increasing returns not just profit. So if a company continually makes a 10% profit every year according to those who measure shareholder value that company is failing.

So the pressure is on to show increases in revenue, and decreases in costs, so that year on year, quarter on quarter the business “grows”, and so the company gets bigger and the shareholders are then told by the “experts” that the shareholder value is increasing.

This drives companies to off-shore their workforce, find lower cost suppliers, reduce their work force and consider unbelievably expensive mergers and acquisitions. In the very short term these things seem to drive down costs or increase revenue and so that’s a good thing. But they really don’t make a company healthier, they kill it.

I’ve seen company executive’s looks to buy a company at any cost, just to get a small increase in revenue this year. It doesn’t matter that the money spent can never be recovered, it’s about achieving a revenue target, not a margin target. It’s often inane.

A large number of acquisitions never make a profit, what they do in move huge sums of money and stock from a healthy company to the owners of a less healthy company. The two merged companies for a short time have increased revenue, but the cost and mess of merging the businesses often leads to reduced performance and so the growth slows down. Angry customers leave, and new customers question the value of entering this created confusion. So all too often the sum of the parts is less than the whole, and within a few years the revenue of the merged business looks like the revenue would have already been of the healthier if the two parts if they had not merged. To me that says that the billions spent on the merger were entirely wasted. At the same time all the changes demanded to streamline the two businesses cause the best and the brightest to leave and huge political infighting between executives takes place to grab the reduced number of top spots. Innovation slows and then the business is forced to go through more rounds of off-shoring and layoffs to reduce costs even further to have to pay for the debt created from the merger.

Of course there are winners from M&A, those who broker the deal, the CEO’s and CFO’s, the banks and the private equity firms all get lucrative multi-million dollar payoffs as part of their self-created wonderland.

And there are lots of losers, employees, customers, shareholders.

I’ve worked for a number of companies who have acquired large businesses over and over again, and I’ve seen the carnage it creates. Apart from the small number of execs and bankers who make the deal happen, I’m at a loss to see who gains, except maybe of course for India and China.

Maximizing shareholder value seems to be the modern euphemism for “Screw you I’m taking it all”.

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Your ignorance is NOT as good as my knowledge

Isaac Asimov once famously said “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

The processes that are slowly but surely turning the news reporting and news publishing services into a continual flow of restating the opinions of others with absolutely no reference to actual facts is making this point of view more valid than ever!

It doesn’t matter if you follow MSNBC, Fox news, CNN or any of the other news services or news aggregating sites (such as the huffingtonpost or drudge report), the content is based on restating the most outrageous statements of every mouthpiece on every channel. The goal is not to report the news but to get eyeballs on the gaps between the news, by trying to tickle the interest enough of already biased consumers so that the stay on the channel across the ad breaks. And showing the latest shot of some oversized body part of a mostly naked vacuous plastic twenty something who is famous for only being famous is seen as more valuable than an analysis of some currently critical world event.

Why do political parties think it’s important to collect huge sums of money for their cause? Do robot-calls, surveys, print and TV ads actually influence peoples voting behavior? Or is the lucrative publicity machine using elections as a revenue stream and generating self-perpetuating statistics to “prove” their value to their customers.

When people give large sums of money to political causes, they are not doing it out of the goodness of their hearts, they expect something in return. And people who can afford to give to political parties generally want something big, such as a return in excess of the expenditure they are making. Why would anyone think that it’s a good idea to allow government to be influenced by money? Well it seems that politicians are becoming part of the richest class in history.

Politicians should be paid for their work, and if they don’t break anything and find ways of doing what’s required without spending in excess of the available funds, they should be rewarded with some ongoing remuneration. But if they screw things up, get us into wars that should have been avoidable, spend money we don’t have or raise taxes beyond a very tiny amount, then they should get nothing.

And hey politicians and wannabe politicians let’s be clear on a number of things:

1. If you get us into a war, you have failed! War is the ultimate failure of diplomacy, if you can’t outsmart our enemies with words, and sneaky behind the scenes manipulation then you are the wrong people to lead.

2. Poor people need more help than rich people! Your job is to sort out education, healthcare, and a social net to ensure that this place is filled with happy, healthy, well educated, clean people who don’t need to live as an underclass, do that and everyone wins, and it can be a hell of a lot cheaper than a massive prison complex and millions of unemployable (mainly) minorities.

3. Balance the books! Stop spending half of everything on overpriced military hardware and services, that’s just a way of paying off your buddies (war profiteers), instead either pay a lot less for the military hardware you buy or buy less of it. That’s the only area of government that needs to be tweaked for the budget to balance, every other item is just a rounding error in comparison.

4. Tax religion! Religious organizations are trying hard to be political, it even says “In God We Trust” on the cash. Tax religions and you will have more money than you know what do to with, and it will just make us smile.

5. Education is NOT a way of making money! The blatant screwing of public schools, and the idiotic volume of testing is killing a generation, and charter schools are going to be the same at a higher price. Local county taxes for schools are killing people’s income and the huge cost of student loans is going to kill generations of spending power.

6. Science is key, we need well educated and highly motivated scientists to make a world of seven billion plus people function; otherwise we’re looking at a Mad Max future.

7. Infrastructure – We need better trains, roads, power, communications, water, and airports. We need better than everywhere else in the world, stop being stupid about it.

8. Stop worrying about difference. Everyone is different, and it is absolutely the government’s job to stop any and all levels of discrimination, there are no acceptable levels. Skin color, ability, sexual orientation, left or right handed, fat, thin, tall, short, blind, deaf, man, woman, race, religious affiliation, country of decendency, whatever criteria you can think of. If you don’t like someone else, tough, difference is just a fact of existence live with it!

9. And stop saying and doing stupid things. They say power corrupts and ultimate power corrupts ultimately, but COME ON, we’ve had Cigar-gate, Darth Vader, client number 9, dick picks, email scandals, selling senate seats, toe tapping in toilets, married men taking girlfriends on fuckaways on government jets, undeclared corporate gifts, leaks every which way you could ever imagine and so much more, isn’t in clear yet it’s not worth it. If you want to be a politician, take some bromide while you’re in office, and stock up on Viagra for when you get thrown out, and use it then and not before.

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Don’t Make Anything Illegal.

I’m no expert on mind altering drugs, but I do consider myself an experienced business person. When a product is more available than there is demand, prices fall. And when a product has more demand than supply prices rise. It’s pretty clear today that the supply of illegal drugs outweighs the demand, and so prices are low.

When I walk down the street the volume of drug use is quite clear, I know the smell of pot quite well, and it’s everywhere. There are also some really weird smells coming from many people walking around, and the smells are more than the usual summer taxi driver body odor, I’m talking about some weird crap people are smoking. And it’s pretty obvious these are either illegal drugs, or some form of drug that has not yet been made illegal and so people are inhaling it to get a buzz without having some person in blue screaming “get on the ground” repeatedly while pointing a Taser gun at them.

There was a thing in years past called the war on drugs. Now if that truly was a war then by every reasonable measure it was and is a war that has been well and truly lost.

Isn’t it time that as a society we get beyond the idea of prohibition and go for a formal legal framework whereby drugs become controlled in the same was as other deadly, addictive substances are (alcohol and tobacco being the most obvious). Once something is legal and controlled, then reasonable discussions can take place about safety and efficacy. Companies can test and market their products, make profits, pay taxes and if the product turns out to be dangerous they can be fined, imprisoned and generally made to pay for being greedy selfish bastards.

Also it means that little things like addiction can be considered. Maybe with research it’s possible to make drugs less addictive. Maybe the levels of active ingredients can be managed, and maybe those who market products (that when misused can inflict harm) can have a reason to invest in treatment centers to minimize the damage caused by their products.

Guns are legal, alcohol is legal, sugary drinks are legal, cigarettes are legal, reality TV shows are legal. All of these can and do cause harm when used in excess or by people who are outside the “safe criteria” for ownership or usage.

So why not just stop making stuff illegal, and instead show people that doing stupid things is just stupid.

There are some drugs that should obviously be controlled, but these are the ones that people can use to harm others. Frankly, taking any drug has side effects, and I personally prefer to take no drugs unless prescribed by a doctor, and even then I question if it’s really required or is it just the doctor either looking to make the big conference sponsored by the drug company or trying to cover their ass by oversubscribing to reduce their legal liability.

Of course I’m lying, I regularly take my drugs in the form of wine, beer, diet coke, Chinese food and tap water. But I choose not to knowingly take un-prescribed prescription drugs or anything that has likely been transported by the rectum of a tourist from Thailand or was made by a peasant in Columbia who doesn’t care about by personal health. And I really like my brain the way it is (I’m sure some could question this statement), and I see no reason to break something that is working quite well for me.

I know many creative people have found the effects of mood changing and psychedelic drugs to be critical to their creative process. Many of these people have since died either from excess, of the effects mind altering drugs have on judgement. I suspect many times more have died from the judgement altering effects of ethanol and the impact of turning their lungs into tar pits. The best things about alcohol and cigarettes are the controls on kids. Most kids don’t get drunk on alcohol, partly because it’s hard for them to buy it legally, but mostly because it’s expensive and so limited by their budgets, and that’s the power of taxation on intoxication.

And of course the whole private prisons thing that is fed millions of pot heads is just plain nuts. Illegal drugs foster a culture of illegality through the whole cycle of manufacturing, transportation, distribution, selling, owning and consuming. Making drugs not-illegal changes all of these businesses into legitimate profit centers paying taxes and being concerned about the health and welfare of their workers and customers.
You don’t have to like a product, or use a product, or like the people who make, sell or use a product. But we all have a responsibility to create a society free from underclasses or processes outside of reasonable society.

I don’t think it’s a case of making drugs legal, it’s a case of stopping making anything illegal.

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Why Don’t They Make More Movies Like That?

Upon seeing a TV ad for the film “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks,” which appears
charming and includes numerous stars (albeit older ones) btw, the question raised by
my spouse was, “Why don’t they make more movies like that?

A charming film with award-winning actors
A charming film with award-winning actors

I pondered the question briefly and responded with a line about how maybe the target audience [of spry and not-so-spry oldsters] don’t go to the movies as often as teens and millenials, so that’s why not. It was quick work for me – question answered, mystery solved.

The retort came right back, “That’s all they do down there in Florida is go to the movies! Think about our retired friends… all they talk about are movies they’ve just seen and are going to see tomorrow after breakfast.

Consumers with time with watch
Consumers with time to watch many movies

Hmmmm… I thought. She’s exactly right, there are tons of seniors with time on their hands and these are movies with award-winning folks they remember, shown at a giant scale and volume (to compensate for vision and hearing loss). Castmember Rita Moreno has a Grammy, a Tony, an Emmy, AND a friggin’ Oscar, so this movie (and others like it), have no shortage of award-winning talent so Yes, it makes sense from the demand side to make more of them. Having eliminated “lack of demand” I next did some research and found that the typical budget for these geriatric-casted movies is generally pretty low by Hollywood standards, so that’s not it. High demand for a quality product combined low cost… “Why don’t they make more movies like that?,” I now thought.

I thought about it awhile more, applied all my knowledge and experiences, and was prepared later when she asked the question again – This time I replied, “2 fig newtons in a baggie, that’s why they don’t make more of those movies.”

In response to her puzzled look I went on to explain, “Theaters make their money on tickets and concessions and many seniors choose the 1/2 price matinee showings, also show their AARP card for an additional discount, and then skip the concession stand because they brought 2 fig newtons in a ziplock bag.

This brilliant deduction and statement was followed by a long silence and a stare I’ve seen before. Despite the look I received I was quite content that I had expertly solved this Hollywood mystery and could move on to the next challenge (whatever it may be). Sometimes, it seems, it’s not rewarding to solve life’s mysteries, but someone’s got to do it, right?

Enemy of quality cinema?
Enemy of quality cinema?

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The only way is to “keep it moving”

Economics always seems very complex, and there is a reason for that. Like all mathematically impossible situations the only way to explain them is to make them seem too complex to explain.

Through all of human history the idea of exchange goods for services has required all the systems we see today, including, laws, education systems, policing, security etc.

Until a few decades ago the idea was that you would exchange services for things of equal value, such as a lump of gold or silvers or a bushel of corn. And to save carrying huge bags of gold around, notes were passed between people saying that they promised to provide the actual gold in exchange for a service. These notes of promise were called money. And to be able to make money you used to have to have a store of precious metals equal to the amount of money you printed.

And then someone has the really smart idea of getting rid of the need to actually have the store of gold to be able to print money. This allowed as much money to be made as was needed, to grow the economy. The only issue is that if anyone ever wanted to swap his or her money for gold the whole system would collapse.

So to make sure a collapse doesn’t happen there was an implicit need to make sure all the money keeps moving around. It’s like musical chairs where there are less chairs than people, so as long as everyone is moving there is no issue, but if the music was ever to stop there wouldn’t be enough places for all the money to sit, then the value of money goes down (inflation).

To make sure the money keeps moving governments used to tax money that was sitting still. This has two important effects:
1. Taxing money means it keeps moving by itself (moving to the government who could spend it on services)
2. Made it preferential for people to keep their money moving to keep it out of the hands of the taxman.

Today we have a huge issue in that the amount of tax applied to money that is not doing anything is too low to encourage people to keep it moving. This means that too much money is just sitting in banks making money without doing anything, and this is really bad, as sitting money can be seen for what it is, and that is a promise that can never be kept.

It’s okay to be rich; actually it’s the best thing to be. But the value of money will only get less if it does nothing of real value. Capitalism is without a doubt the best system the human race has ever had to build the quality and length of human life. But capitalism demands that capital be used to build stuff, it fails if it sits around doing nothing.

Tax lazy money to keep the capitalist system healthy. Either it moves to the government to spend, keeping it moving. Or it forces people to use their money to build things. Either way is much better than notes of promises that cannot be kept sitting in places where its lack of true value can be seen.

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The fundamental flaw in America. Healthcare

There is a simple clear difference between the us healthcare philosophy and the rest of the world. And it’s a difference that is so ingrained in the philosophy of the system that even the most radical ideas of either political extreme will not change it. And it causes untold hurt to Americans.

In every other country in the world, when a drug is found that dramatically increases the quality of life for patients with progressive and deadly diseases it is evaluated against the overall good, while in America the evaluation is against the overall return on investment.

Every drug has side effects, and some of the best have deadly but rare side effects.

If there is a drug that halts the progression of a terrible disease but will kill one in a thousand, that would be automatically prescribed in most countries. But in America a whole range of lessor viable drugs would be used first. And with each failure the disease may well progress leaving the patient more debilitated, until eventually the best drug will be used because at that point there is no other choice.

This model ensures the maximum ROI for the doctor and the least chance of law suits, but is worse for the patient.

Surely it’s time to improve healthcare and reduce the cost of healthcare. And that means making decisions that are scientifically the best, and if that means that people lose the right to sue their healthcare providers for everything but the most obvious of mistakes so be it.

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What I have learnt from playing Chess.

To win a game of chess you don’t need to have every piece survive, just the king. And in most chess games putting your pieces at risk are the most effective ways of winning. Create an emergency where by taking a desirable piece your opponent weakens their overall defense or by not taking that piece provides you with a desirable offence is the key to playing the game.

chess1

The more moves you can think ahead, considering the full range of potential future moves the better your chance of building a winning strategy.

There has always been a strong linkage between games like chess and strategic battle planning or political maneuvering.

In the last few decades these skills have truly entered a new realm of advancement. Since World War II, world leaders have realized the power they get from disasters both natural and forged. Many things that in the cold hard light of reasonableness would seem ridiculous are considered in the wake of an emergency.

The concept of habeas corpus used to be considered absolute! You could not be charged with a crime without evidence and you were considered innocent until proved guiltily in a court of law. These were basic principles of the society we created. It was considered critical that all people were treated as innocent, and this meant that strict controls were placed on agents of the state to prohibit unreasonable search and to ensure that you could not be held without charge.

But every time an emergency happens these and other sacrosanct stakes in the ground of society are ripped to shreds.

When a bunch of mad terrorists attacked America, we lost the right to ensure searches were undertaken only when ordered by a court. We also lost the rights to privacy of emails, and phone calls. And we lost the right to not be held without charge.

When a prick tried to light his shoes on a plane and another tried to blow up his underwear we all lost the rights to not be full body scanned, and to carry nail clippers.

When a hurricane hit New Orleans the people of that city lost their right to public education, and virtually every school was turned into a for-profit school supplemented via vouchers.

This is not just an American creation, everywhere in the world emergency situations have been used to re-write the rulebook, and in every single case the power base has been shifted from the people to an unelected series of corporations.

We now call this globalization.

globalization

Today we are seeing more and more “created disasters” such as the so-called fiscal cliff and the previously routine (but now line in the sand) debt ceiling debacles.

Each new disaster allows dramatic changes to be negotiated, lowering the social framework and replacing it with a corporately profitable model.

When we are shocked by the lack of investment by the government after any particular disaster, It’s simply a matter of realizing that in those specific cases the needs of corporations is best served by letting the disaster fester for longer. When there is a benefit to the corporate world, action is swift.

Gun lobbyists and anti-gun lobbyists all see terribly sad gun killings as a reason to push their special interest.

Politicians use minorities and under-educated children as pawns to drive for moving social programs to the private sector.

Fossil fuel advocates who are paid by the fossil fuel industry promote the idea that fossil fuels are good for you, while cigarette companies have only just come around to the idea that maybe ciggies cause cancer.

Now quite frankly I’m not sure that large corporations run by unelected doctor evils are really that much worse than your average politician.

But there is a lot to be said for the idea of getting the politicians you deserve.

Please can we get back to a government “Of the people, for the people and by the people” it really was a revolutionary idea.

corporate overloads

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