politics

Logic or Loathing, the Scottish question

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There aren’t many things as bitter as a divorce and it very much looks as if Scotland is getting themselves ready to divorce the British Union (England really).

What those Westminster types appear to have missed is the way the arguments are being put; Scottish arguments in favor of independence are all emotion and national pride. The Westminster arguments are all financial logic, well that’s what they’d like you to think at any rate, the manner in which some of them frame their arguments leads me to believe they’ve had a frontal lobotomy.

I have to admit that there are compelling arguments for keeping the union together though, Scottish tax’s may well rise and incomes could be hit. These of course are the logic arguments but when logic, even compelling logic such as this rubs up against loathing of the sort the Scottish Nationalists display there’s no contest.

Bearing in mind I’m not Scottish, I try very hard not to go to Scotland; its on the whole cold, damp and honestly I struggle to understand the version of spoken English used to communicate up there, in short its not the kind of place that suits me, but I have to admit nonetheless that I have a secret respect for what they might just achieve.

They have all manner of energy resources and wide open spaces, and yes it looks very beautiful in the brochures. They also have the British naval base where the nuclear submarines are based and this could prove a bit of a problem for the whole of the union, never mind the suggestion of a Sterling currency union which the English don’t appear to like one bit. But really I think they might just do it regardless the logistical challenges. After all who wants to be part of a dog end of an empire?

What ever the Scottish decide I will wish them well because if they don’t actually get independence I’m certain they’ll get what was termed Devo-Max which basically means they’ll run almost as an independent nation, just with a few Westminster MP’s to pay for. If David Cameron and his cronies hadn’t been quite to pig-headed about not putting the Devo-Max option on the ballot papers he might have had a chance of salvaging some respect in Scotland. Win, Lose or Draw after the vote takes place I would probably bet that he wont be welcome North of the Border any time soon!

From the politics point of view Scotland is broadly speaking a Socialist nation while the rest of the UK isn’t, so you have to have some sympathy for them, they just don’t get the leaders they want. And I can see why the British Labour Party don’t want them to split away either, it’d mean the end of them as an opposition party in the remaining UK with no possibility of taking power for a long time to come. Basically the remaining UK will have a Conservative Government, unchallenged for quite some time to come. On this point alone I selfishly hope the Scottish people remain in the union, but I wouldn’t hold it against them if they didn’t, in fact I’d be quite the jealous one!

So the divorce papers have been served, the marriage is in trouble, the wife wants to leave after years of abuse and feeling like she’s been treated like an idiot. The husband on the other hand cant bring himself to believe she’ll leave, she wont be able to support herself he thinks.

Like most of these sorts of cases, she divorces him and the husband doesn’t see it coming till its actually happened and his suits are cut to ribbons in a bin-bag at the door of his now former home!

Dieudonne; A Sinister Clown

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SINISTER CLOWN

I have been following with interest and repulsion in equal measure the Dieudonne saga in France, partly because I’m obsessed with France and partly because of my innate fear of all things fascist/right-wing/nazi and following the very public goal celebration in the UK by Nicolas Anelka recently.

Dieudonne shows have been cancelled in some parts of France but not without a public outcry from some sections of the society that this is an attack on freedom of speech or freedom of expression. But I find myself thinking as one who will willingly defend the right of freedom of speech even when I fundamentally disagree with the sentiments being expressed, that actually even a bad clown can make a mistake and may even break the laws of the land. Wearing a red nose or pretending to give humor never prevented anyone from committing a crime. If a thief steels a motorcycle he has committed a crime even when he does in an amusing way.

However, Dieudonne, the sinister clown seeks to further his obnoxious views through so called humor. By going on a tour, publishing dates and venues he is being provocative and foolish. The French have not prevented his freedom of expression but have prevented public discord and a potential for civil conflict. Dieudonne is not a victim, he has not suffered a crime against humanity, he has had his talentless show which trades on scandal and abuse brought to a close in the name of public safety.

Dieudonne only speaks to those who cling onto the unintelligible thought of anti-Semites, to them his act, if indeed that is what it is, is a source of humor. He therefore only speaks to a small but nonetheless nuisance minority of people. To this day there are conferences and a vast number of books which speak of the Nazi Holocaust, a permanent stain on modern society. To think that this could be a subject for humor frankly beggars belief.

The notion that the law can impose limits on public behavior to me is something which should and must be challenged frequently. But the exploitation of crimes against humanity for the humor of a very few is not an area I would recommend to anybody as a place to challenge accepted decencies. His act is a cynical insult for his own reward. His act is one of many which seeks to raise the infamous beast of anti-Semitic thought from the ashes of hate.

It is quite amazing to me to notice that resistance of Dieudonne and his like comes from all sides, both left and right leaning thought. Of course Dieudonne argues that he provides a refuge in humor from the Zionist, he may well do this but I ask what is Zionism in 2014?

Certainly 100 years ago when the thought was to make a Jewish state the idea was simple; to provide a state that all Jews from around the world could come to where safety was guaranteed. I recognize the visionary genius of Theodor Herzl without question. However, Zionism in 2014 may look as if it is all about the West Bank and Gaza but really is this so? I think Zionism today is the same as it ever was, especially when you consider the threats from Iran, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Hesbollah, Hammas…

If only Dieudonne could see the threats from without the ‘Zionist’ state maybe then he wouldn’t be such a sinister clown about it all.

To add to the anti-Semitic attacks which are frequent the need for humor at the expense of the dead is an insult. To do this at the expense of Holocaust dead is a crime!

Reaction to Racism

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Christiane Taubira during Ségolène Royal and J...
Christiane Taubira during Ségolène Royal and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero’s meeting in Toulouse on April, 19th 2007 for the 2007 presidential election. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

France it would appear from recent media reports seems to be developing a resurgence in Racism. French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira is to give an interview in the Left Leaning daily Liberation on Wednesday 20 Nov. 2013. In the article she will attack the rise of racism in France and the lack of the French political classes for not speaking out against racism.

Herself a victim, Anne-Sophie Leclere a candidate from the far-right posted on her Facebook page that she could be compared to a monkey and a 12-year old brandished a banana at her during a rally. Taubira said: “The reactions have not been sufficient….What’s most shocking to me is that there has been no strong, beautiful voice raised in alarm at the downward spiral of French society [when it comes to racism].”

The justice minister’s remarks come just one day after Harry Roselmack, France’s most prominent black newsreader, penned an opinion piece for another French newspaper, Le Monde, accusing France of harboring “deep-seated racism”. “Racist France is back,” he wrote.

The one-two punch from two of France’s most visible black personalities has shone a harsh spotlight on an issue that the theoretically “colour-blind” country, with its proud motto of “liberty, fraternity, equality”, has had some difficulty in tackling.

The problem is I suppose is that just like Britain Racism, Antisemitism and Anti-Muslim feeling and actions are on the rise and are all outlawed, but there is little respect for the law and its not enforced anything like sufficiently. There is no threat from the law so to speak. Racist speech has become more acceptable on the basis of ‘its deplorable but should be allowed as a matter of free expression’. This of course is the negative effect of supporting free speech, basically if the leaders are doing it then it must be okay for the public to openly express these odious opinions right? Well, NO actually it isn’t.

Then there’s the rise of the politically far-right parties across Europe. Media attention on these parties puts a sanitized face on their political propositions and provides a platform for their racist speech. The far-right is no-longer politically and morally seen as marginalized. The deafening silence offered in response allows, encourages even the far-right to go further, to claim to speak for the average man/woman, and the Left, how do they respond? They are intimidated and do not respond.

In her interview with Liberation, Taubira also accused the French political class, but particularly the National Front, of inciting racial resentment with their focus on the “threat” posed by immigration. “We need to stop making a daily soap opera out of immigration data,” she said. “How is immigration a problem? How is it endangering French society?” The same of course apply’s in Britain, the issues are the same.

Where the two nations differ (thankfully) is on classification. In France there are no classification on the census for racial origin. In France race statistics are illegal, to be French is sufficient. For me I find myself agreeing.

The honest conclusion has to be that the recent rise (lets hope its a spike) in racism is related to more multiculturalism, more mixing, more openness to the wider world. Over time my guess is that it will abate, but until that time comes we should not ignore its rise, to ignore it is to feed it. No, it must be challenged and we should implore our political representatives to challenge it on our behalf even more than we ourselves do. The very fabric of our societies are easily stained and could be permanently stained if we allow racism to go unchallenged.

Cerebral None Event

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Flaubert's Parrot
Flaubert’s Parrot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The condition of being stupid is more common than you would at first realize. Take for example a recent incident I had to deal with:

  1. Employee A sells a BlackBerry phone to Employee B but refuses to hand over the phone after he gets the cash
  2. Employee B waits and asks for the phone for a couple of weeks
  3. Employee A keeps him waiting and eventually offers to return the cash when he gets paid
  4. Employee B is paid weekly so assumes that Employee A will pay on Thursday (the same day he gets paid)
  5. Employee A lets Employee B think this even tough he’s paid monthly
  6. Employee B finds out and realises he’s gonna have to wait another week
  7. Employee A books a week long holiday for the week he gets paid
  8. Employee B finds out and gets angry then even
  9. Employee B assaults Employee A, then takes Employee A’s bag with his phone, shoes and keys by way of a ‘no-phone tax’
  10. Employee A goes to the Police
  11. Employee A and the Police man come to work to sort out the mess
  12. Employee B hands back the bag less the phone which he agrees to hand back when he either has a working Blackberry phone or his money back

 

Employee A is stupid because he honestly thought he’d get away with the con even though he works at the same place as his victim; Employee B

Employee B is stupid because he trusted Employee A who he does not know socially.

Each suffered from a Cerebral None Event!

Stupidity:  bonehead, brainless, dense, dim-witted, doltish, dopey, dork, dull, dumb, foolish, gormless, mindless, oafish, obtuse, senseless, simple, slow, thick, vacant & weak-minded

Quotes about Stupidity:

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”
― Albert Einstein

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”
― Albert Einstein

“I’ll take crazy over stupid any day.”
― Joss Whedon

“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”
― George Carlin

“In politics, stupidity is not a handicap.”
― Napoleon Bonaparte

“Stupidity isn’t punishable by death. If it was, there would be a hell of a population drop.”
― Laurell K. HamiltonThe Laughing Corpse

“Whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always from the noblest motives.”
― Oscar WildeThe Picture of Dorian Gray

“The two most common elements in the universe are Hydrogen and stupidity.”
― Harlan Ellison

“There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”
― Frank Zappa

“Far be it from me to ever let my common sense get in the way of my stupidity. I say we press on.”
― Sherrilyn KenyonInfinity

“To be stupid, and selfish, and to have good health are the three requirements for happiness – though if stupidity is lacking, the others are useless.”
― Julian BarnesFlaubert’s Parrot

What is it you most dislike? Stupidity, especially in its nastiest forms of racism and superstition.”
― Christopher HitchensHitch-22: A Memoir

“Irony is wasted on the stupid”
― Oscar Wilde

“Sometimes a man wants to be stupid if it lets him do a thing his cleverness forbids.”
― John SteinbeckEast of Eden

“[In the Universe it may be that] Primitive life is very common and intelligent life is fairly rare. Some would say it has yet to occur on Earth.”
― Stephen Hawking

“Never ascribe to malice that which can adequately be explained by incompetence.”
― Napoleon Bonaparte

“I have defined the hundred per cent American as ninety-nine per cent an idiot.”
― George Bernard Shaw

“How stupid lovers can be! But if they were not, there would be no story.”
― Jean PlaidyThe Courts of Love

“If stupidity got us in this mess, how come it can’t get us out.”
― Will Rogers

“There’s a thin line between genius and bottom-barrel stupidness. I hover delicately on a tightrope between the two, wondering where I’ll land if I’ll ever fall.”
― Suzanne CrowleyThe Very Ordered Existence of Merilee Marvelous

Challenges

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Rodin flying figure p1070126
Rodin flying figure p1070126 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The challenges of the past have made you what you are today.

The challenges you seek out and face now will make you what you are to become.

By pushing & trying as far and as hard as you can you will find where your limits are.

By pushing at the limits you will stretch them and you will grow in potential.

Tax exemption for overtime

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A world map of countries by gross domestic pro...
A world map of countries by gross domestic product at purchasing power parity per capita in 2006 from the World Bank. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was trawling through the net this afternoon when I came across a truly revolutionary, innovative idea on the economy!

Increase the purchasing power of workers.

As an idea its probably what most, if not all governments would want to achieve. Well, reading Philippe Doucet he seems to have a great idea on how to actually do it.

Income tax exemption for overtime working!

Over the last 12 months the French public believe that their personal purchasing power has decreased. They don’t feel quite as wealthy as they did. People all over the developed economies of the west are being asked (told) to work harder for less pay. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that his idea will in any way address unemployment, that is a factor that can only be dealt with over time (years). But by increasing the purchasing power of those in work it can only assist industry and services to survive this longest of all drawn-out recessions.

The struggle with unemployment is about skills in my view. Skills training, up-skilling, vocational education is the way to deal with unemployment. Under-qualified employees are a burden to business both in supporting the reduced productivity, and the cost of employing appropriately trained employees.

The time is now for the debate concerning workers pay and how its taxed. The idea of tax exemption for overtime comes from the left of French politics is true, but it makes it a no less valid proposal in an environment of stagnation of ideas. Radical; yes, Inspired; yes, Fresh; YES!

There’s also the hidden benefit of reduced employment costs, business too will benefit financially (well they will here in the UK). Of course this policy represents an increase in sophistication for employers and employees alike, but consider the benefits to the economy. The economy is treated to a boost whilst fairness to workers is also addressed.

Since the debacle of the Banking crisis, the ineptitude of our politicians this seems to me an idea that addresses so many issues of perceived (in)justice that I almost cannot understand why it hasn’t been proposed earlier.

The government of the day is voted for on its supposed ability to defend the interests of the populace who voted for them. Higher paid workers (myself included) and those who earn big bonuses (bankers…) will not benefit from this policy, it will be those who do the real work. The middle and working classes.

I don’t support this policy because of some high minded principle but from a very practical stand-point. More money in the economy will benefit everybody.

No Authority

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English: Interior The No. 2857 bus which Rosa ...
English: Interior The No. 2857 bus which Rosa Parks was riding on before she was arrested (a GM transit bus, serial number 1132).She was sitting in the 2nd row from the front, all the way to the right window (looking from the back). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A long time ago I counted myself as an Anarchist.  I marched under the banner of the black flag, considered myself to be a member of ClassWar and participated in Animal Liberation activities.  Of course I was young and idealistic but nonetheless I still hold dear the idea that;

There is no authority other than my own.

Modern anarchist’s differ little to my understanding of what anarchy actually means to those who genuinely believe it is an alternative.  Albeit I have modified my previous views to take account of the 62 million+ people presently living in Britain and how they might best live together in harmony (well at least without too much harm being done to one-another at any rate).

Anarchy is almost always incorrectly framed in the mass media.  News broadcasts of rioters (could be anywhere on the planet) are frequently referenced as anarchists. This is simply a falsehood. Some may be anarchists but many are there just for trouble and have no particular political leaning, I’d probably call them nihilists.

Anarchy simply put is about bringing about social order without the imposition of rules. A high minded ideal, yes but nonetheless achievable in small like minded groups.

Image

However, it is my honest view that employees and business can learn;

Employees should be encouraged to think for themselves. We are all conditioned from birth that there is an authority which must be obeyed. Well those who abandon this pattern can be the source of great innovation and improvements. Encourage it!

Look around, history is littered with examples; Henry Ford, Luis Pasteur, Rosa Parks, Bill Gates and the man who invented the walkman to name just a few.

People who wish to change their world (the bit they can actually affect that is) have got to understand that they have to change themselves, change the way they think.

I’m quite certain that the loss of illusion will in some cases be quite terrifying, their minds will have to adapt, to learn to trust in their own thoughts. Never mourn the loss of chains, the only power that your boss has is the power you allow them to have. He who conquers himself is the mightiest warrior (Confucius – and he knew a thing or two).

So… I say have authority over yourself, encourage others to have authority over themselves and work together for the good of all.