Cui bono?

honor hominesque honesti floreant

Category: bankers

Cui bono res publicae?

I have already got my fingers of both hands covered in ink from the ribbon on the typewriter, and to be honest am thoroughly off-piste with this interruption of my well deserved sabbatical.  Some of those whom I had considered friends, until now, have been harassing me with their proposed solution to the Brexit chaos (to be known in the history books of the future as Cameron’s Catastrophe.)  They apparently believe it is urgently necessary to get the signature of every member of the writing classes in all European territories with any kind of constitutional link to the British monarchy (and that apparently has flushed out some very rum customers in eastern Europe not to mention three Atlantic islands some 180 miles west of Lisbon, which geographers had believed sunk during a volcanic eruption a century or more ago) on a petition pleading for a ‘non-controversial’ referendum on whether to have a new referendum with a more intelligent gamut of options – forget the whole business, sell the country as a going (?) concern to its inhabitants (somebody evidently remembers the Trustee Savings Bank farce/scandal !), put the whole country up for auction with the highest bidder then doing what the hell he likes with it, declaring war on America hoping they will treat the nation the same way they treated Germany after WWII (Churchill turned that option down in 1949 on the grounds that Britain might win) and half a dozen others.

   Lunatics!  This journal has, I believe, the only realistic solution, not that anyone is going to pay attention, but here it is in a dozen lines.  A delegation of a dozen or so citizens from the cloud-capped peaks of the British realm must attend upon the Queen, and respectfully show her the necessity of taking up immediately her inherited rights, delivering a bill of attainder upon every member of the House of Commons (with perhaps the exception of that stout fellow, Bercow).  The Serjeant-at-arms will then expeditiously arrange for every last one to be taken down the river under military escort, and installed under lock and key in the Tower of London.  If they question their situation they will find the Serjeant-at-arms to be a ‘negotiator’ very unlike the current prime minister.  Thereafter the governance of the nation to be in the hands of Her Majesty and such advisers as she shall see fit to choose.  She has for decades given more evidence of a capacity for taking good advice, for sound judgment exercised with moderation, and for avoiding foolish or disastrous entanglements than can be claimed for a very high proportion of those who in that time have presumed that bigotry and buffoonery, lying, xenophobia and careerism did not bar them from trying to take a share in influencing the administration of the nation.  And see the reults of their activities!

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Pulling the typewriter out of the old army kitbag in which it is stored (in case the roof leaks when there is a rainstorm) I found another text which seems unfamiliar, but highly relevant today, when capitalism appears proud that it has just propelled the world’s largest economy up to a pinnacle of $22 trillion of debt.  And just in case that was not a large enough investment the president of that nation has sent the government machine a request for the largest military budget ever recorded (in that country, though there may well be larger figures in some Hollywood movies.  Perhaps time, as they say in the movies, to feel very afraid.)  I append herewith.

            One does not hear much talk about the trickle-down theory of wealth these days but the assumptions behind it still seem to be holding up well.  The idea, roughly speaking, is that if you get a stratum of serious wealth in any given area then its members will, to put it crudely, spend their money in diverse ways thus spreading wealth through the community.  They will buy goods, engage services, and start businesses.  They will buy cars and pianos, employ butlers and drivers, and establish media companies.  Then the shopkeepers and the butlers and drivers and the editors will have more money than they ever had before, and in their turn they will spend more on the things they want, need and like.  And so on all the way down the economic slope.  As in all the most comforting fairy tales, it leaves everyone better off.  Therefore we should always fight for rich people and rich companies to have the lowest possible taxes, to help the whole wonderful process to work (and it is said some governments even hand out free grants under the name of privatisations to promising candidates to make sure they have enough wealth to keep things going).  But all this is rather abstract stuff.  Let’s try to envisage a practical example.  Let’s take a large group of bankers fleeing their native country somewhere in Asia perhaps, to save their lives and wealth after a leftish government has somehow got elected.  They decide to settle together on the pleasant island of Arbyesse in the Bay of Bolivia, which up to now has maintained a moderate prosperity on the basis of fishing, tourism, and the manufacture  and sale of artefacts attributed to the first bronze age settlers.  The first thing that happens is that they buy the finest houses on the market for their families, equip them with the most modern computer systems, and furnish them with exquisite period furniture bought after whirlwind shopping expeditions to Paris and Hongkong.   You will notice at once that the latter two forms of expenditure do nothing for the local economy, but for now let us pass over that point.  After that they set up a new bank employing some dozens of local staff, some formerly unemployed but most of them attracted by the higher pay from their previous jobs in various local businesses.  The bankers also establish firms dealing in financial investment and advice, facilitating of course dealings with their own previous contacts in other countries.  The purchases continue, notably including two private yachts but also a number of expensive cars (which naturally have to be bought from overseas firms).    They are careful to adopt a low profile in local life though some do offer support for one respectable local party, obviously well-favoured by the population since it wins the next three elections in a row.  Investors and friends of the bankers overseas see Arbyesse as a stable, investible target and pile in.  Hotels are built and infrastructure projects take shape.  So the economy after a few years achieves substantial growth.  Local construction companies (in which the bankers have invested heavily) have done well, as has the airport (foreign-owned).  There is a new ‘Omnimercato supermart’ with 60,000 different kinds of items, on the site of the old vegetable market, which still exists but has moved to a convenient site near the lagoon south of the capital.  Shopkeepers, and owners of other small businesses like the smith who turned his hand to making ornamental ironwork drive respectable cars.  But one night a young trainee accountant, cycling home after a celebratory dinner with some friends in El treinta de julio, a beachside café, noticed several down-and-outs sleeping in doorways, something he had never seen as a child.  He thought about it when he got home, and these thoughts led him by chance to realising that though he seemed to be earning quite reasonable pay, somehow he and his wife still could not afford to buy a number of desirable additions to their home, and had to be very careful with their monthly expenses.  She commented that it was much the same for most of her friends, while her aunt, though married to the man who had successfully turned his small taberna into an upmarket wine-bar specialising in imported wines, was always ready to deplore the drain on her purse when she went to the Omnimercato, and to denounce her husband who insisted they must save one more year for the bathroom suite she had set her heart on.  The accountant, Federigo, became curious and he found it quite easy to get information, sometimes in detail, about the assets of other inhabitants.  It seemed that typical members of the uppermost straturm had assets that would compare quite favourably with those of wealthy individuals in advanced countries.  The next level, senior managers in the construction companies for example, were also quite well off.  But as one went down the scale it seemed that the level of wealth diminished, not just individually but when all citizens of that level of the economy were added together.  He also tried to find comparative data on incomes.  This was harder since the tax authorities were rather more conscious of confidentiality than the private branches of the wealth system.  Nonetheless it seemed that a similar variation existed there.  The most striking thing was that in both cases it appeared that the figure dropped to zero before one reached the lowest band of the population.

            Perhaps foolishly, he started talking about his findings in company.  He was frankly puzzled as to why the ‘ever more vibrantly pulsing economy’ (to quote from the Trombón del Amanecer) pulsed so feebly in its lower depths.  Most who heard him did not share this reaction; they simply regarded it as a natural aspect of human existence.  However, he was finally offered the reason, at a gathering over a few beers one evening with some friends as the rain lashed down on the same beach-side café, the night before he was arrested.  Once again he plaintively voiced his puzzlement and once again saw the same resentful but apathetic impotence.  As often, one of them muttered about ‘all this money around.  Not much filtering down to us.  The only thing that filters down to us is higher prices’.  This time, however, the amiable Irish beachcomber in the corner, a regular customer over many years but one who rarely spoke, added an unexpected coda.  “It’s just what you should expect, you know.  The economists don’t like to talk about it much, but it is an economic law.  ‘Prices rise to meet the money available to pay them’ .”

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 I use the term in its old-fashioned sense, of providing useful and valued service in return for some kind of financial benefit; no link whatever to the term ‘compensation package’

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Difficile est satiram scribere

The magnificent grotesques  It is breathtakingly strange that well-educated members of the élite over in the UK, secure in their mutual assurances of sanity and intelligence, do not notice a towering inconsistency between on the one hand their assertions that Brexit ‘must proceed’ because ‘the people’ of their country voted to leave the EU (actually about one in three of the adult electorate) and on the other hand their own insistence that the terms of leaving should be decided not by the people (which ‘would tie the government’s hands’) but by the few dozen individuals who sit around the cabinet table in Downing Street (or more exactly by a minority among those individuals, who believe that firm governance means carrying on with policies which looked as if they might have been worth a punt two or three years ago, despite mountainous evidence to the contrary now crowding the horizon).

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The Cassandra File   Did crews in the sea-battles of earlier centuries who saw fire-ships bearing down on them simply go ‘tsk!’ and carry on with routine tasks?   The first of these two pieces is, verbatim, an extract from Obiter Ficta (isbn 974-85468-0-2) first published in 2004:

‘It is absurd to expect commercial companies to act ethically.  The essence of their nature is to make profits…if anyone is to tie a few ethical balls and chains onto them – as they certainly should – then that is to be done by governments, and if the latter keep mum…that is because they, the government, want to evade ethical responsibility…  Why however do those who at least grasp that businesses, as such, exist to make money, persist in putting this as ‘serving the interests of their shareholders’ when manifestly it is nothing of the sort?  The interests served are naturally those of the directors and the managers of the firm.’

            The second piece is, verbatim, extracted from Private Eye of 6 April 2018:

‘Profits rise, so do bonuses.  Losses arise, but bonuses are still paid…The short-term interests of senior managers/employees increasingly trump those of the shareholder owners…Deutsche Bank lost €735m last year, yet its bonus pool quadrupled to €2.2bn.  Dividends paid totalled just €227m.’

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Rigor mentis Two constant features distinguishing the English from other European peoples for centuries have been their readiness to devise systems of rules for all aspects of national and domestic life, together with an unfailing capacity to apply them illogically, inequitably, and unjustly.  In 1478 Thomas of Credianton (today’s Crediton) wrote ‘This folk hath wondrous crafte in the devising of all manner of rules and a marvellous wit in waylaying the good that they might do.’  Which other European land could have set out a written code of conduct for the nation’s ruler, duly signed by him, as early as 1215?  The same almost instinctive urge to establish rules and constraints persists to the present day throughout the population, as in the provisions which rule that state officials have the right to raid private homes for – among other instances (and I assure readers I am not making these up) – a search for foreign bees, a survey of the seal population, and checking to discover whether offences related to stage hypnotism have been committed.  It has long been suspected that this strange national urge to regulate has some elusive basis in a malfunction of the metabolic system, possibly resulting from an ancient DNA mutation  and the term rigor mentis has been adopted to name it.  However, very recently there have been certain indications that rigor mentis may in fact be a contagious ailment.  Incidents that seem hard to explain in other ways have occurred in other countries.  For example, Le Monde reported that on 14th June of this year a force of 20 officials including police descended on the harbour front market at Marseille, interviewing and in one case temporarily detaining fishmongers there (one of whom had his entire stock seized) who were charged with not having on their stalls a display giving the name of the fish they had for sale – in Latin.

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Late news

As the deadlines loom and the cryogenic-preservation-lines are checked to see if they are still fit for purpose, rumours are circulating of a brilliant solution to the Irish border conundrum, provisionally to be made public after one further cabinet meeting to settle the principal issue (i.e. presentation).  ‘In a spirit of friendly compromise to ensure the best possible outcome for all concerned’ the UK government is to confirm that it will neither set up nor request any frontier posts along the border, thus allowing completely frictionless trade in the island.  As a generous additional measure the prime minister is to arrange for the UK Border Agency to establish ‘Traveller Assistance Posts’ at all crossing points, at which a wide range of services will be provided, many at low or minimal costs, including high quality restaurant facilities, free internet connexions, traffic updates and advice on safe routes taking into account predicted weather conditions (recommended), insurance for onward travel (obligatory), and free vehicle checks (compulsory for safety reasons),

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Lost and found (Editor’s report)

Our island has a mini-auditorium, little used except by Kevin who thinks he plays the harmonica and occasionally ‘jams’ there with anyone else who shares that opinion and has some sort of instrument they can bring along to join in.  But it’s quiet normally and I sometimes go in there to work.  Last week I found an A4 sheet on the floor with the typed text copied out below, starting with stage direction to ‘Pete’ (who I happen to know is actually Selenia Gove-Grimsdyke); clearly linked to a scheme got up by two of our island’s three political activists, namely putting on a TEDium talk-show next month to celebrate World Political Analysis Day.  My kind-hearted nature makes me feel they ought to be discouraged, by force if necessary.  The text, as mistyped:

[Pete, speaking from lecturn, stage left. under spotlight.   Spotlight: Govrenment reform]

            “To help out on missunderstanding, in our performance tonight this phrase does not mean improvments in the goverment of your country, which-ever that maybe…..”

[At this  point enter Votebot from trapdoor (Jeremy disguise as robot), stage centre: Votebot makes black power salute for soldarity then orates, voice like robot, very loud] : Just get real, you halfwits!  Think!  Why do govrenments exist!  They are there to propetuate the interest of those in power.  True!  keep thinking!!  Do govenments ever have elctions which would really change things? When their not sure about there 100%  control over the poppulation under them – See! they call it, ‘their people’ even though UN has ruled for abolition of slavery – then they pick and choose and invent ‘policies’ and ‘promises’ to see which combo gives them best guaranty they will stay on top. One example out of millions all over our planet: that old London crap called ‘we will build more houses for the people to live in’, comes out in its wheel-chair every election since they invented prefabs in the 1945.   How often you get a real change when they have an election? (About once a centery some goverment gets it wrong, like Najib Razak who right now wondering what hit him).  Goes without saying of course, I am speaking about real changes of government, not the sort of Blairite crap which promises you  a different group got in but in actual factessentials leaves a  priveleged click – a click which it turns out has just the same kind of gangs congratulating them selves and giving themselves bonusses for leading the companies where the poor bleading workers do all the work over the edge of the cliff but the bosses get off alright into theyre holiday homes in the Bahmmas, should be called the Obahmmas, and sometimes the actual same people, with their wives and kids and cronies they play tenis with and eat posh dinners with and old Sir Tom Cobbley and all, and they still run the show with their chums and squeeze all the juisce and money they can get out of the neolibberal set-up which gives all the perques to themselves and their mates, just like the fuedal system worked beautifully for your average baron while the villains slaved away in the mud trying to make enuogh mud for themselves and theyre familie to live on.

[Votebot now at mega volume, striding electronicaly across stage like a poncey self-obsesed CEO, beating cyberchest, and flashes of light from cyber skeleton (if Julien at the Palais électrique really can

(end of sheet)

Regular posting scheduled for 16 July

The full Monty?

Next scheduled for 1-11-2016

1]  Recyclical               2]  Quotas for all!

              3]  Faits divers

Recycling Please so far as possible recycle the words used in this posting, after extracting any which you think might be of archaeological interest and donating them to your nearest university philosophy department.  The Government’s alert on dangerous words remains at level 3, and if you detect any socialist, anarchist, or nihilist verbiage in discourse in the coming month please hand it in to the police immediately.  Do not on any account attempt to use it yourself.

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Recycled  Encouraging evidence that this journal’s talent for accurate observation is well based, and dismaying evidence that the human capacity to fail to deal with flaws in society is no less solidly rooted.  This is the first paragraph of a piece that appeared six years ago from tomorrow the 16th of October:

About the time of the first anniversary of the collapse of Lehmann, we got a flurry of articles pondering with furrowed brows the question What have we learned?  Now, about the time of the first anniversary of those articles appearing, some pieces have come out daringly suggesting the answer to the question could be Nothing.  The speed with which some commentators flash around their learning curve would frighten a tortoise, and charm the hearts of bookmakers.  The bankers, meanwhile, gave the best proof yet that they are men with intelligence, by never setting off at all, staying instead exactly where they were and laying plans for yet taller golden towers of bonuses in the years very shortly to come – with, perhaps, a sense of marginal urgency if the thought had by chance briefly flitted past the beam of their tightly focussed minds, that just possibly the reaction to their goings-on might included a backlash strong enough to put some limits on  excessive greed in money-making.  That is of course unlikely.  The few hundred people around the world who could actually achieve that have too many pre-occupations and disagreements and inclinations to lethargy – and in some cases complicity? – to prevent this crisis, too, slipping down that very short chute into over-and-done-with history like any massacre of innocents, or war against unarmed populations, or famine.

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As Acting Editor I should explain Mr Skew came over for a short break on the island, and brought a piece with him. I wasn’t told  if it was supposed to be ready or just a first draft.  But yesterday both he and our Editor got a call to go to London immediately.  This morning there were two sheets with his name on the Editor’s desk.   I thought the second might only be a draft, but Manos was very sure it was all for posting, and I must send it.   I’d prefer to confirm with our Editor but haven’t been able to contact either of them since they got there, so here it is.  (Karela) 

Quotas.  The idea that a 50% quota of places should be reserved for women in politics or in the mighty boardrooms which plot how to make entertaining tweaks to a nation’s Gini coefficient; or in the higher tiers of the judiciary, or in the ownership of great estates, or the more profitable sinecures in the municipal circuses; all on the simple-minded basis that women count around 50% of the population of most states,  has broken out again from its padded cell in the human psyche.  As the heavy doors slide shut in certain minds they, fortunately, muffle an angry chorus (‘Sexist pig!’ was the lyric if I heard correctly.)  This is a monstrous slander.  I am all in favour of women getting the  fair deal they deserve.  This year already I have had dealings with half a dozen thoroughly competent women who skilfully and honourably negotiated with me on some business, which they then, I know, had to summarise and explain to a P.A. (with four times their salary) who himself would be granted an audience with a fat and lazy (nb quoting here from a well-known Minister of International Trade) member of the board, on not less than ten times that salary, and who would be incapable of handling the guidelines and trade-offs and side-issues himself even if he was paying attention instead of thinking in Trump mode about options for his upcoming conference on an agreeable island in the Med.  Sociopolitical systems in big countries don’t do slow methodical reform.  The alternatives in any given era are groundshaking change or fossilisation (though if lucky you may get a new coat of paint slapped on the fossil).  So if you’re thinking of setting off on a long march towards sociopolitical fair play there are two things to say.  The first is that you are going to fail (but don’t take that as a reason for giving up).  The second is that you don’t have just one small friendly mountain to climb, like 50% for women in your parliament.  You are facing a whole range of rugged, viciously challenging peaks, and that’s not counting the primitive barbarian tribes that will attack you on the way.  But there’s also an awkward fact: big nations are complex.  What helps one group may be bad for others.  Few even among the fair-minded grasp the sheer number of interlocking choices needed to get anywhere near fair quotas for sociopolitical groups in a state.  Herewith a bijou selection of a few of…..Okay, polish smoothingly tomorrow as per earlier notes

Preliminary issue : are we seeking enhanced enfranchisement or compensation for inadequacy of enfranchisement?  Great heavens!  Have I written that?  Alcoholic eloquence.  Change forthwith.   ‘Upward quotas’?  Not ideal, but vaguely humanoid.  Compensation?  Forget that!  First half impossible already.

Warning:  Try this – ‘Some of the earlier questions below cannot be settled sensibly until some of the later ones have been resolved, but some of those cannot be dealt with until the first ones are settled.’  Impressive, well done Monty! 

1] What justification for having any reforming ‘upward quotas’ at all?  Obviously one is to scare the pants off idle buggers already ‘up’ and doing nothing to justify themselves.  Obviously too, pseudo-return for favours received (as not unknown in H.o.C.)  Or to avoid the  need to hand out genuine rewards for services rendered.  And so on.  Not sure if any of those count as ‘justification’.  Does that matter?  Course not.

2] Upward quotas for both groups and individuals?  Latter means networking; consult Linked-In.

3] What reasons for upward quotas?  To reflect proportion in population?  Breath-taking illogicality.  Pedestrians to have equal rights with cars?  Be serious.  And apart from the women there are at least three other 50 vs 50 groups, age, height, and weight.  Anyway once you start giving people quotas just because they are a group, they’ll all be at it.  In six months all committees and organised bodies will be crazy jigsaws of groups all shouting they should have more places.  And every individual in them will belong to a dozen different groups.  What about ‘because said group has different viewpoint from the usual, which might be useful’?  Sloppy thinking again, Monty!  How many groups have specialist views which are useful to anybody except themselves?  ‘Because they could make amusing contributions to the life of the nation’?  Now that should be a winner but we’d never get it past the Grundies and apparatchiks.  How about ‘because their views currently have no representation’?  Losing my grip again!  The fewer the bunches of recognised and authorised maniacs we have, the better.  Give up.

4] How can one ‘up’ a group anyway?  Easy! Add as new members in the ranks of privilege, for instance friends of former PM into House of Lords.  Or throw out or murder the currently privileged (Specialist Comintern practice but popular worldwide and epoch-wide anyway).   Or write new constitution abolishing privilege?  Alleged policy of Froggie Republic (as alleged by those capable of willing suspension of disbelief).  Etc.  No problem there.

5] Who gets an upward quota?  Women?  But what about LGBT?   All those for ‘up’?  Or some?  Together or how?  Or four separate groups?  (And those who want to be in more than one of those at the same time?)  Hell’s teeth.  Better drop this heading somehow even if it started it all.  Oh, my head!  Next please.

6] Which groups get promised a quota ‘sometime’?   This one easy.  Quick scan through this office’s archive, mail from readers, rival editors, boards of censors, libel lawyers, bailiffs, confidence tricksters,  indignant jobsworths… to see who causes most trouble.  Which groups get a promise?  All of them of course,  plus the corrupt (if you want democracy with a voice for all, can’t leave them out), the Welsh, the Goths, the insane, footballers, left-handers, residents of Liverpool, the poor, everyone who doesn’t live in London, smokers, gardeners, weed farmers, municipal employees, Poles, ‘greatgrandfather killed in World War I’ types, tightrope walkers…

7] Groups based on personal characteristicsThe ugly, the goofy, height (too much or too little), the old (over 36), the young (under 36), the obese, the bald, those with athlete’s foot…  All going to have their ‘own distinctive views and experience’, aren’t they?  Shit, I wish I hadn’t started this.  Brunettes?  Agoraphobics?  Drummers?  Rembettika singers?  But I wish Manos would turn that bloody bouzouki music off.

8] Within which sphere are they to be elevated?  How about cyclists onto committees drafting traffic regulations?  Yes, indeed, why not?  Prisoners on penal reform?  Hey, I’m being serious now.  Shut that bloody row, Monas!

9] To what proportion of the sphere  E.g. 50%, 75%, 1 in 3?   Let’s put it like this: every femen committee should have a token man on it, right?

10] How should elevation be arranged?  By force, whether beneficiaries want it or not?  Whether beneficiaries apply or not?  Points system, like Boris… Oh, forgot, one would not be amused by points systems.  By lottery?  Being one of Monty’s friends?  Has Karela still got a stash of slivovitz?

Final meta-question: Who takes the decisions on all the above questions? Oh sod!  Need a brain-transplant to get this sorted.  But have some of that slivovitz first.

Answer to all above: Don’t bugger about with groups.  Take every human as an individual. Can’t do it?  Five more years high-tech, and everyone will have their own perfectly adjusted individual cell in the universal prison

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Apps  Aye-aye Cap’n.  Great new app from the Redethel store for real emergencies!  Stuck with friends in a small boat mid-ocean or in a sledge with a pack of wolves closing on you?  This app lets you save almost everyone!  Just click on the parameters – age, job, number of children, club memberships, salary and three more  factors, and this app will calculate who should be thrown overboard to save the rest.  No need for hard words or nasty bickering. Absolute fairness guaranteed.

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Jokes of the Week (or were they meant seriously?!) (both from the Economist , a mag with a lot of statistics and a curiously imaginative view of the world; issue 420/9008): [1] (on the need to avoid public wealth being squandered on useless infrastructure): ‘To manage the risk of white-elephant projects, private sector partners should be involved from the start’.  [2] (on the UK political scene in 2014]: ‘The Conservatives under David Cameron had turned all modern and reasonable.’

 

The bankers’ card and future terror

Acting Editor’s note: as our Editor is at a conference in Sweden on investment in broccoli, I am filling in for him, and am taking this opportunity to post a couple of items we received earlier but which for some reason seem to have been overlooked until now.

One of my neighbours went up the university the other day to find out what sort of value we’re getting for all the money they take out of our taxes.  He wasn’t very impressed, but if you ask me I don’t know how he could tell because he wouldn’t know how much all the wages were and how much money all the students were paying to go there, and all that side of things.  He did say it seemed like a sort of park, very nice living conditions, and lots of people wandering about not doing much.  But the thing that really interested me, was he said he met these scientists.  They said they were all scientists and they were all wearing white coats so it’s probably genuine.  They told him that scientists are getting cleverer and cleverer and they told him that now there are lots of subjects they teach up there where scientists can prove most things you want, so long as you tell them what it is you want and find the right scientists, and give them enough money, and get the right journalists to put it on the internet, though how journalists come into it I don’t really see.  But one thing I’d like to see them find is a way how you can get a crooked banker into jail.  Marvellous isn’t it.  Politicians are all issued with get-out-of-jail-real-quick cards, but the bankers must be top of the whole shooting match because it seems like what they get is never-go-to-jail-at-all cards (and pass go, and collect £2 million pounds).

Jack Edwards

London

It may all be too late but just in case it is not, may I suggest to those reading that they should start trying to work out strategies for surviving the near future, in case they do. The terrors in store are legion.  New 3-D printers mean lethal weapons may be in the hands of every other teenage hoodlum.  And it is certainly not simply a matter of teenagers and weapons.  Leave a key unattended for just thirty seconds, and a camera can take three quick photographs, which the internet and 3-D printing can use to produce a copy, without the key’s owner having the least idea that a copy exists.  The sculpture side, at least, of the art market will collapse.  Forgeries of all kinds from birth certificates to driving licenses to fraudulent contracts will flood the corridors of bureaucracy to waist height.  Meanwhile, genetically modified human beings with powers of memory and speeds of reaction out of reach of the most talented today will be growing up to fill all places in top universities and sports teams; the uncouth among them will make it dangerous for the unmodified to visit nightclubs; the criminal among them will accumulate wealth allowing them to purchase whole countries as their personal playthings.  Nanodrones will fill the air in such numbers that even the genetically modified joggers (at their steady fifteen miles an hour) will have to wear masks to avoid swallowing one.  Every second the nanodrones will pour a torrent of information about each citizen into the megadatabanks of their government (and, simultaneously, into the megadatabanks of that country’s enemies).  The sensors on the nanodrones will record every sideways glance towards the window of those who can still find work to be done by humans, will analyse the bacterial and alcoholic content of the breath of each commuter arriving home, and will capture each facial reaction and muttered remark in front of the screen emitting the evening’s choice of what will still be called entertainment.  If the facial reactions, as analysed by a government-run computer programme, are categorised as anti-social, another computer will issue an order to the police for your arrest, you will be tried before a jury of a single computer programmed to deliver twelve opinions on your case, each one being a prediction of the reaction of a typical human (from a databank of average citizens established by a government computer programme), and after being found guilty you will be free to walk to the prison the next day, knowing that any failure to arrive on time will prompt instant tasering delivered at five minute intervals by nanodrones, until you appear at the correct destination.

     Now we know why such large numbers have applied for the several projects already begun, for one-way trips to Mars.  For those who prefer to keep their gravitational attraction at normal levels there seems no chance of finding any overall strategy for a comfortable and untroubled existence, but some individual measures may help a little here and there.  Buy a bullet-proof jacket and a plausible university degree soon, if you do not already have one (and apart from anything else the price is going to soar in coming years anyway).  Borrow a 3-D printer and run up some forgeries of your own, for instance you could try your luck with a certificate from the government of Montenegro confirming that your house is a diplomatic residence and therefore not liable to be entered by British police or any other officials (nor required to pay council tax).  Become accustomed to staying indoors as much as possible. and in particular avoid visits to nightclubs.  Do not buy sculptures, or, to be on the safe side, any other works of art.  For dealing with those nanodrones, you will obviously keep the windows shut, and it would be wise to buy, online, one of those electrically charged ping-pong bats and pretend to be using it to kill flies – as you swipe around you, shout aloud and very clearly ‘Damn all insects’.  Keep tight control on your reactions when watching any screen; a smile in the wrong place can be just as dangerous as a frown.  Quite generally, be as inconspicuous as possible.  Do not respond to government surveys, except to say you are fully satisfied.  Do not respond to those invitations, on air or on the internet, to send in your views on some current topic whatever it might be.  If you have to go out for some reason, give way to everyone, especially the genetically modified; always obey official notices, policemen, and anyone in uniform; walk with your head bowed and a shambling gait.  To be honest, even if you do all this, it cannot be more than a temporary measure, but you may perhaps at least survive long enough to hear the news that all contact has been lost with the colonists on Mars.

Jojo Ceausescu

Rabat

A sadly understated economic law

Editorial note: I have decided to overrule the fad among my young contributors for using an initial or sobriquet instead of their full name.  From this date forward please note that writers must give a real name, even if it is not their own, and also at least a figment of an address.  I must also very definitely dissociate myself from the view expressed in the following item.

One does not hear much talk about the trickle-down theory of wealth these days but the assumptions behind it still seem to be holding up well.  The idea, roughly speaking, is that if you get a stratum of serious wealth in any given area then its members will, to put it crudely, spend their money in diverse ways thus spreading wealth through the community.  They will buy goods, engage services, and start businesses.  They will buy cars and pianos, employ butlers and drivers, and establish media companies.  Then the shopkeepers and the butlers and drivers and the editors will have more money than they ever had before, and in their turn they will spend more on the things they want, need and like.  And so on all the way down the economic slope.  As in all the most comforting fairy tales, it leaves everyone better off.  Therefore we should always fight for rich people and rich companies to have the lowest possible taxes, to help the whole wonderful process to work (and it is said some governments even hand out free grants under the name of privatisations to promising candidates to make sure they have enough wealth to keep things going).  But all this is rather abstract stuff.  Let’s try to envisage a practical example.  Let’s take a large group of bankers fleeing their native country somewhere in Asia perhaps, to save their lives and wealth after a leftish government has somehow got elected.  They decide to settle together on the pleasant island of Arbyesse in the Bay of Bolivia, which up to now has maintained a moderate prosperity on the basis of fishing, tourism, and the manufacture  and sale of artefacts attributed to the first bronze age settlers.  The first thing that happens is that they buy the finest houses on the market for their families, equip them with the most modern computer systems, and furnish them with exquisite period furniture bought after whirlwind shopping expeditions to Paris and Hongkong.   You will notice at once that the latter two forms of expenditure do nothing for the local economy, but for now let us pass over that point.  After that they set up a new bank employing some dozens of local staff, some formerly unemployed but most of them attracted by the higher pay from their previous jobs in various local businesses.  The bankers also establish firms dealing in financial investment and advice, facilitating of course dealings with their own previous contacts in other countries.  The purchases continue, notably including two private yachts but also a number of expensive cars (which naturally have to be bought from overseas firms).    They are careful to adopt a low profile in local life though some do offer support for one respectable local party, obviously well-favoured by the population since it wins the next three elections in a row.  Investors and friends of the bankers overseas see Arbyesse as a stable, investible target and pile in.  Hotels are built and infrastructure projects take shape.  So the economy after a few years achieves substantial growth.  Local construction companies (in which the bankers have invested heavily) have done well, as has the airport (foreign-owned).  There is a new ‘Omnimercato supermart’ with 60,000 different kinds of items, on the site of the old vegetable market, which still exists but has moved to a convenient site near the lagoon south of the capital.  Shopkeepers, and owners of other small businesses like the smith who turned his hand to making ornamental ironwork drive respectable cars.  But one night a young trainee accountant, cycling home after a celebratory dinner with some friends in El treinta de julio, a beachside café, noticed several down-and-outs sleeping in doorways, something he had never seen as a child.  He thought about it when he got home, and these thoughts led him by chance to realising that though he seemed to be earning quite reasonable pay, somehow he and his wife still could not afford to buy a number of desirable additions to their home, and had to be very careful with their monthly expenses.  She commented that it was much the same for most of her friends, while her aunt, though married to the man who had successfully turned his small taberna into an upmarket wine-bar specialising in imported wines, was always ready to deplore the drain on her purse when she went to the Omnimercato, and to denounce her husband who insisted they must save one more year for the bathroom suite she had set her heart on.  The accountant, Federigo, became curious and he found it quite easy to get information, sometimes in detail, about the assets of other inhabitants.  It seemed that typical members of the uppermost stratum had assets that would compare quite favourably with those of wealthy individuals in advanced countries.  The next level, senior managers in the construction companies for example, were also quite well off.  But as one went down the scale it seemed that the level of wealth diminished, not just individually but when all citizens of that level of the economy were added together.  He also tried to find comparative data on incomes.  This was harder since the tax authorities were rather more conscious of confidentiality than the private branches of the wealth system.  Nonetheless it seemed that a similar variation existed there.  The most striking thing was that in both cases it appeared that the figure dropped to zero before one reached the lowest band of the population.

            Perhaps foolishly, he started talking about his findings in company.  He was frankly puzzled as to why the ‘ever more vibrantly pulsing economy’ (to quote from the Trombón del Amanecer) pulsed so feebly in its lower depths.  Most who heard him did not share this reaction; they simply regarded it as a natural aspect of human existence.  However, he was finally offered the reason, at a gathering over a few beers one evening with some friends as the rain lashed down on the same beach-side café, the night before he was arrested.  Once again he plaintively voiced his puzzlement and once again saw the same resentful but apathetic impotence.  As often, one of them muttered about ‘all this money around.  Not much filtering down to us.  The only thing that filters down to us is higher prices’.  This time, however, the amiable Irish beachcomber in the corner, a regular customer over many years but one who rarely spoke, added an unexpected coda.  “It’s just what you should expect, you know.  The economists don’t like to talk about it much, but it is an economic law.  ‘Prices rise to meet the money available to pay them’ .”

Brandon Fitzhenry

Chicago

Folly and greed again versus one to really cheer

(1) Ratzelian economics   (2) electoral debt   (3) broadcasting salutes   (4) AIME special flash   Next distribution  proposed for 15-10-2012

The Deputy Editor writes:

Apart from the Editor himself we are now all back in the office and abnormal business (as at 22-09) has been cut off at the ankles before it can run any further; but we are not draconian, not even the Editor, and we’ll probably end up taking our normal tolerant view of youthful waywardness; at worst they may lose their pocket money for another week or two.  Immediate decisions were overtaken anyway by a surprise visit from the Mad Doc; we had all thought he was safely tucked up in Dublin for the rest of the month, but apparently he got fed up with supporting appearances at his wife’s sculpture exhibition – they required him to feign politeness to members of the Wooden Arts Commando who were sponsoring the show, so he took off to Alaska to test an idea he’s been peddling around.  He calls it Ratzelian economics ¹, and he cooked it up from some stuff in an ancient copy of Sperling’s Journal.  It starts with the standard commercial premise that in business what you sell should always be worth less than the price you can get from customers.  (Cf for instance, a greeting cards company where a trivial investment in card and ink, with designs possibly devised by ill-trained chimps and words extruded from a mentally limited piece of software, might give a return per item of many thousands percent, thanks to a gormless public.)  But Mad Doc says that beyond the number of consumers in your market the thing to take into account is their geographical density – and he reckons by the way that most analysis of national economic statistics worldwide is badly flawed there.  After a new product appears on the market, as the punters come to realise the gap between price and value they will spread the word around and the profits you get will therefore fall (whereupon you cut back on quality or size or staff wages or after-sales service, if any, to reduce your costs; when the gap reduces to zero then you take the company public, paying yourself a huge salary as the CEO.)  But according to M.D. the speed with which disillusion spreads around will depend on how densely packed the population is; this needs to be kept a very sharp eye on, for nimble manipulation of relevant tax breaks, publicity drives, character of local officials, and assorted sleight of bank account.  M.D.decided an ideal place for a first field trial should be an area fairly isolated from the great bazaars of the consumerist world, and where the local population is thinly spread, but relatively moneyed (no point going to try things out in the Gobi).  Hence Alaska.  He arrived at our place in a subvolcanic state because his test had been a disastrous failure.  Picking what he thought might fill a strong local need he’d got some Indonesian outfit to produce a few thousand jars of instant ‘miracle bear-repellent’ (almost certainly some cheap cosmetic cream mixed up with black dye and a bit of engine oil).  He was doubtless right about the local need, but he’d overlooked the obvious possibility that the locals knew far more about what repelled bears and how to keep out of the way in the first place than he would ever learn, so not one of them touched the stuff.  His promotional ads were ridiculed on local tv.  He said he’d called in on us to calm himself down as we were always a haven of harmony (at which point Isabelita apparently choked on her coffee), but he soon left.  We made no efforts to keep him either, in tribute not only to his own personality but also to the news that on the way back he’d stopped off at Talkeetna to stroke the mayor and pull his tail (for the past dozen years the western world’s most popular mayor – a cat).  Clearly M.D. hadn’t yet heard the frightening news about toxoplasmosis, and frightening it is; apparently merely stroking one of the beasts can give you schizophrenia.

[For information on this new source of stress for the cat-owning middle classes consult your local hospital, or try searching for toxoplasma on www.independent.co.uk in the issue of 4-9-2012]

——

¹ cf  F.Ratzel   Anthropogeographie  Stuttgart   1891

____________________________________________

It would be in bad political taste to point out that the overwhelming majority of the financial problems on top of many nations today result from democracy, or more precisely, electoral democracy.  Governments gain ¹ and retain control of the precious levers by allowing voters an agreeable lifestyle.  (‘Agreeable’ can include such notions as ‘security’ implying e.g. the building of walls and gun emplacements on the frontiers to keep out others who would also like an agreeable lifestyle but are deemed to lack some necessary qualification, such as wealth or an acceptable ancestral tree.)  In order to maintain their relative popularity or to outbid rival political groups a government will provide (and an ambitious opposition will promise) agreeability beyond the limits of what is financially realistic by spending money which is not actually available, i.e. going into debt; governments will likewise encourage private citizens to achieve greater agreeability in an analogous manner while oppositions will promise to act in the same way.  The political parties will seek assurances that these steps will be beneficial for the national economy, and they receive these from economists and bankers (not excluding bankers who take part in arranging the necessary loans).  Anyone who trusts that this process will cease to operate of its own accord in any country which continues to hold elections should not be reading this paragraph.  As night follows day the weight of debt will increase year by year until the legs of the state and the supports of households  buckle under the burden.

The mechanism was acknowledged by Jean-Claude Juncker all but explicitly, when he remarked of the current problems with the euro  ‘We all know what needs to be done; but we don’t know how to get re-elected if we do it.

——-

¹  (or  apparently ‘seize’ in the case where the electoral victor is Hamas)

____________________________________________

The Deputy Editor writes:

Before he went off on holiday our Editor commented (15-09-2012) on the infuriating idiocies that public broadcasters inflict on their audience.  We are with him all the way, except perhaps that his usual Scottish understatement let them off far too lightly (especially the BBC.  It still has some good people; but why on earth are they still there?)  Jim may want to have another go about the quality of broadcasting sometime, and I don’t want to poach on his domain, but there is a related point perhaps worth mentioning.  There has been rumbling in high places recently about ‘strengthening the BBC brand’.  Once, long ago, as all those whose favourite bedtime reading is mediaeval history know, a brand was a simple physical object with a good use – casting light (and then serving as a symbol of learning, before being purloined by the Labour Party) – and an even better use – setting fire to old, rotten buildings that had sheltered overprivileged, self-satisfied friends of the powerful.  However, reverting to the modern dialect of sell-by-date consumerism we observe it now has the sense of a ‘nebula of ideas, tangible characteristics and emotional associations attached to some product’ which can be employed to

  (1) extract vast sums of money from a foolish populace

  (2) explode any naïve belief that man is a rational aninal (this is no place to go into gender differences) and

  (3) demonstrate human capacity for doublethink, as loud cheers are heard for swingeing punishments on a craftsman who by native skill and honest capitalist labour has produced, let us say, a fine bushbuck raincoat (i.e., a raincoat for your bushbuck) and sold it at a price slightly higher than his costs, unaware that a mighty firm manufactures a more expensive item almost identical but with only the addition of its ‘brand’.

  So far as I know the aforesaid strengthening has not included the adoption of a BBC salute or gesture although one might have considered this a useful element for any media ‘brand’ trying to publicise itself, enabling enthusiastic supporters to recognise one another and develop a sense of community (as with children who have all pulled similar plastic badges from their cereal packets).  Oddly enough, although now almost totally forgotten, there once was a BBC salute back in the early days.  Possibly devised in a spirit of self-mockery it was certainly appropriate to a corporation inspired by Reith, consisting of a reproving smile accompanied by a wagging forefinger.  Perhaps its hour of glory was ended by the epic battle between Churchill’s fingers and the Nazi forearm.  Since those days similar recognition signals have occasionally appeared, mostly short-lived and associated with local radio broadcasters although it is said that the North Korean television service tried at one time to promote a gesture of triumph taken from traditional Korean opera.  (Opponents of the régime in the south claim some dissidents flick their hand lightly across their throat as a way of indicating to possible sympathisers that one listens to foreign radio, but this has never been reliably confirmed by foreign visitors.)  Other salutes said to have existed, usually promoted not by the broadcasters but instead by their critics, include:

lips pursed ostentatiously shut:  several countries in eastern Europe in the 1970s and 1980s

hand cupped behind ear: Radio Camacula-Nord (Congo), notorious for its weak signal strength

fingers stuck in ears:  people persecuted by neighbours blasting out Radio Frente Musica in several of the Caribbean islands

the bras d’honneur: a notorious illegal mobile pornographic station in Romania in the early 1990s.

  What might fit the BBC in the days of its late-Byzantine decrepitude?  Overseas listeners, as signal strength is reduced and relay stations axed, might well opt for the same gesture as for that Congolese station.  For listeners at home?  Perhaps this could serve: head bowed forward and to the right, right hand covers glazed eyes?

____________________________________________

Isabelita has asked to add this special note of her own, which we fully support.

What my friends write is sometimes interesting and sometimes right, and sometimes both in the same time.  But readers will know that so many entries in these distributions show a sad or bad character of the human.  I think this cannot be helped but if anyone has a good idea for going to doing what can make it better – try!  For this reason also try to see news of the magnificent enterprise of some Australian young students – they should be organising the world.  Look only with the internet to find AIME.  Two places are www.rmit.edu.au and www.monash.edu.au  then look for AIME.

____________________________________________

honor honestique floreant

A consequence of Greek dancing

1) Warning in pictures  2) Banking questions

Next date scheduled for a distribution: 21st August

  On Friday night we were sitting round exhausted by a couple of hours tackling a Greek dance that Manos has tried to teach us, when he lit up one of the revolting Greek cigarettes he has somehow managed to unearth in St.Peter’s Port.  This led to a discussion which the Editor has summarised with, it appears, some modifications of his own:

  A number of governments make cigarette companies print warning notices on their packs, often with a picture of disgusting damage done by the habit.  This is a convenient way for governments to balance two obligations.  As guardians of their country’s inhabitants [see note 1 at the end] they have a responsibility to try to keep them in the best possible physical health, which you might expect them to do by banning cigarettes.  They also have a duty to keep the national accounts in the best possible financial health.  This, too, they could do by banning cigarettes, on condition that they could extract large amounts of money from the massive illegal trade in cigarettes which would certainly arise.  In principle this should be achievable.    Direct taxation is of course politically embarrassing, if not actually self-contradictory, though experienced lawyers may be able to find a way round that difficulty.  Another option is to impose very severe fines on traders arrested, while taking care that arrests are not frequent; gaol terms should seldom be imposed, so that the traders may resume their activities at an early date.  A third approach would repress the illegality with a light touch [note 2], restraining the forces of law and taxation from wasting resources on excessive investigation of the activities of certain peripheral elements of large and profitable companies, which as a whole provide the state with a satisfactory return.  However, few countries have managed any of these approaches with conspicuous success, and even where this is claimed it appears any money accrued may have gone more to individual politicians than to the coffers of the state.

  The facts remain: repellent pictures of sick smokers, or parts of sick smokers, do appear on cigarette packets, aiming, apparently, to reduce bad health among consumers.  Since this is a form of advertising and since we have been repeatedly assured (by those who make money from it, but also by other experts, e.g. Goebbels and, implicitly, Humpty Dumpty) that advertising ‘works’, we accept the case.  But then one asks ‘Why only cigarettes?  Why not pictures of the result of consumption for tobacco’s noxious twin, alcohol?’  The initial objection, that we have got our facts wrong – certainly,  the result of a cigarette may be a spasm of wrenching coughing but alcohol consumption may lead on to a jolly party – is specious irrelevance.  Governments are interested in long-term effects (provided the issue does not concern the next election) even if we subversively notice that there seem to be two different types of long-term alcohol consumption; one can lead to sitting on a narrow bench in the back room of a small pub in Cork at the age of 22, rocking slowly backwards and forwards, drunk to the point of incoherence at six in the evening, while the other sets you up as a rosy-faced white-haired old man with twinkling blue eyes, surrounded by twenty-somethings begging to hear about your adventures in times long ago.  Perhaps then the warning pictures should somehow be attached not to the bottles but compulsorily to mirrors in domestic bathrooms, so as to prompt self-questioning before a drinker sets off to debauch his (or these days, her) metabolism.  But a few more years are needed before the ‘authorities’ come to that level of intrusion.  For now let the governments rest content with pictures of, for instance, a shambling tramp, head back, holding a bottle high for the last few drops which run out and miss his toothless mouth.

  But why stop there, as if there were no other delights tempting consumers to potential ruin; food or more precisely unhealthy eating habits, and shiny motor cars for example?  Each of these cases has its own peculiarities.  For a billion on the planet there is a single unhealthy eating habit, which is simply not-eating (almost invariably an involuntary condition), so it is not easy to see where one would put the pictures, and there is also the point that few of that billion could truly be seen as bona fide members of the consumerat.  What worries so many of the other six billion (around 30% in the overdeveloped nations, according to recent assertions) is the exhausting struggle against obesity, and so the type of  picture required is easily settled – some vast envelope of sweating humanity fighting its bulk into or out of an airline economy class seat would do nicely.  But the pictorial warnings in this category will have to be especially vivid, just to elbow aside the dense crowds of colourful encouragements to believe that eating some package’s mixture of highly saturated fats and sugars and 21 kinds of chemical unknown to science before 1950 will be good for you (and make you slimmer; and if you are a balding man your hair may grow back, too).

  At this point Simple Simon, doubtless well meaning but tasteless as ever, suggested the principle of visual warnings should be applied also in the case of brothels.  Isabelita immediately asked him if he was speaking on the basis of personal experience, and he mumbled to a halt in red-faced confusion.  For a variety of reasons, nobody present seemed to want to pursue that issue and we returned to the respectable middle-class path we had been following.  Cars, like the reconstituted modified protein-similar nature-unidentical artificially flavoured candy substitutes we had just mentioned, are represented as having strange powers in the advertisements in which they currently appear.  Buy this car and not only will it come with a languorous beauty strategically attached to the hood (subject to availability; alternative offer: young attractive spouse and two children, all in perfect health and grinning like maniacs), but you will find all other drivers – all other road users, in fact – have disappeared off the roads.  There are drawbacks, though; the immaculate highway along which you speed in smooth isolation (the need for petrol is discreetly left on one side) is located in a magnificent but evidently remote and uninhabited terrain, possibly on Spitzbergen.  Consumers certainly do need warnings against the temptation to acquire a car.  Many of the inconveniences are well known, running the gamut from faulty windshield wipers through terrifying overdrafts to lengthy gaol terms.  What is seldom fully realised is the size of the car’s contribution to psychological stress in modern life.  All the worry of purchasing and fuelling and maintaining and repairing the thing and of dealing with the various enemies one meets in these battles; the frustration of the steady guerilla warfare needed to keep it insured and officially recognised by the state; experiencing day by day the breakdown of rational behaviour in other drivers;  obviously deliberate sabotage of your travel plans by roadworks or traffic wardens, and impotent rage when you find your secret off-the-road parking spot has been discovered by a battered builders’ truck.  Beneath all this there is the pulsing ground bass of borderline claustrophobia which can never be safely admitted to the conscious mind, that comes from shutting oneself into a metal box even smaller than the punishment cells the communists used in old Osteuropa – and strapping oneself in.  Two hours of this in the daily traffic jam, if handed down by a judge, would amount to cruel and unusual punishment.  The warning pictures on the car will have the advantage that they will be on the car itself unlike the allegedly seductive visual encouragements to buy the things.  Of course warning notices about frustration and stress will not have much impact until experience makes them unnecessary, but there is in this case an alternative with some hope of effect – horrible car smashes.

  Here, we had barely started to dip into the troubled brew.  Many other scourges of society need to be checked – gambling, social networks, politics, gardening, and more.  Naturally with some the devising of visual warnings will be difficult, but with others easy and – who knows? – perhaps even enjoyable.  As the Deputy Editor remarked ‘Rise again Hieronymus Bosch, your time has come round once more.’

[note 1: this traditional conception of the function of a government is now largely extinct, except as a theoretical principle, just as is the idea that it is the duty of managers of a company to look after the interests of shareholders.]

[note 2: as apparently still popular in dealing with the bankers]

——————————————–

This morning we found a letter well chewed up in the guard-dog’s basket by the front door.  It was lucky for whoever delivered it that this was one of the nights that the Editor remembered to lock the door when he went home.  (The postman brought a mailbox of his own and personally fixed it to the wall outside the gate and now leaves all the post in that.)  We were able to piece together enough fragments to arrive at the following incomplete text:

  would have thought Jefferson was being a bit of a crook if he had stood up and said he was very sorry for being a slave owner and would investigate how it had happened, and restructure his domestic arrangements so that it wouldn’t happen again.  Being a well-known upstanding leader of society he didn’t even do that, and so got away with it completely!  But we’ve now got the bankers to the ‘very sorry’ stage, and that’s the point to really go in hard, because otherwise enough time will run on with nothing happening to let people start accepting banking finaglery as a normal part of everyday life, no reaction or deterrence needed.  Only yesterday I got a circular from a Department of Pseudology in some college or other – they’re a pain in the butt, these ‘scientists’ who do ‘research’ by sending out hundreds of questionnaires to all and sundry and getting other people to find the data for them.  Then all they do is run a quick computer summarising programme over the results, package them in some illiterate ‘article’ and start giving interviews to the world’s media on the new ‘discovery’ they’ve made.  Though I must admit this questionnaire was a little more perceptive than most, e.g.:

Q2. Circle the word you think best describes most bank communications: misleading; truthful; gibberish;lies. 

Q7.Which word do you think best fits bankers, as a class: greedy; dishonest; noble; overpaid (You may circle more than one)

Q9. Do you think bankers are deliberately preparing the ground for a proletarian revolution?  Perhaps; no; yes.

honor honestique floreant