The News In Shorts

How the news would look if everyone stopped waffling and told the truth.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

The End Of Democracy.

John Adams, the second President of the United States, once observed "Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide." He was probably thinking of the first democracy, ancient Athens, where democracy descended into a spiteful witch-hunt of the "undeserving" within the span of a single generation and culminated with the judicious murder of Socrates. The democracy of the west has done a little better than that and has seen off some very determined enemies along the way. What it can't survive, however, is the enemy within. So who is this enemy exactly? Some dark demonic Machiavelli ruthlessly determined to grab power just for the sake of it? Well, yes - though in a modern developed democracy this is rarely achieved by the simple expedient of seizing power by force. Even Hitler knew that, though he gave it a try in 1923 during the Munich putsch when he reasoned that democracy in Germany was anything but developed. No, democracies are all too often overthrown by those who have the largest stake in it - the electorate. The path to this destruction, as the history of ancient Athens illustrates all too well, lies through the demagogue. The man who twists the truth for his own ends and persuades millions that he is righteous and that, for their own good, they must vote away their rights. Men like David Cameron, George Osborne and Nick Clegg whose coalition provides the necessary democratic veneer for some very anti-democratic policies. The collapse of the world economy in 2008 because of the criminal behaviour of the financial industry was a wake up call. Instead, it has proven to be the means to put us all to sleep. The system did not work except in the interests of a small minority but, when it went bad, it was bailed out by the majority who had gained little advantage from it. How was this confidence trick achieved? By scapegoating, by pointing the finger at the "undeserving", by dividing society into opposing camps whose disunity would allow the criminals who caused it all to get away with it. In this sense we are all Socrates - condemned to a slow agonising death by economic poison to divert attention away from those who are really guilty and have no real interest in you, me or democracy.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Osborne's Something For Nothing Culture.

The Tories love to tell stories about the so-called "something for nothing" culture in Britain. Their story is that the country is overrun by feckless working-class layabouts who spend their entire lives loafing about and scrounging off the rest of us. They are not far wrong if we are honest with ourselves. The only problem is that we are all looking at the wrong class. The true scroungers in Britain are not the working class (the clue is in the title) but the so-called upper classes. The reason for the balooning costs of welfare in Britain has little to do with workshy scroungers and everything to do with the low-wage culture that has poisoned the entire economy. Osborne's financial review did absolutely nothing to tackle this pernicious sickness and seemed designed, instead, to help out the payday loan companies that, in any civilized country, would be banned on moral grounds alone. Making the unemployed wait a week to get any benefits in an economy filled to bursting with temporary work and zero-hour contracts is designed to help only those who bankroll the Tory party. Meanwhile it has emerged that the Royal household is to get another £1 million per year from the public purse to help them with the pittance they get from owning most of the country. And, if that doesn't give you a clue as to how this country's affairs are actually arranged then the news that, in the last 12 months, another 78,000 people now own a house worth £1 million or more might offer enlightenment. None of these people own a house on a housing estate in Birmingham, Liverpool or Manchester of course. No, these houses are to be found in Kensington, Virginia Water in Surrey, Cobham also in Surrey and Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire. Money is draining away from those who do all the real work in this country into the pockets of those who are the true scroungers - bankers, business executives, and property speculators. Small wonder that these are the same people who bankroll and support the Tory party or that the economy, warped by these self-serving and self-satisfied crooks, is in such a parlous state.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

British Politicians Agree Mutual Sucide Pact For The Rest Of Us.

George Osborne stood up in Parliament today and cheerfully admitted that, since his economic policy wasn't working, there was no choice but to give us more of it. His original idea, if you can call it that, was that if he flattened the economy and pauperised the entire population except for himself and his rich mates then the economy would bounce back. All that was needed for his plan to work was people to spend money they no longer had and for a non-existant industrial sector to sell things it couldn't make to foreign markets who didn't want them. Mystified as to why this plan hasn't worked he has concluded that we, the ordinary people of this country, just haven't been trying hard enough. There were jeers from the Opposition benches before they made for the exits, sought out the nearest TV studio and then told us that they would do the same if elected. The truth is that this Comprehensive Spending Review - a budget in all but name - was more about politics than it was about the economy. The economy, it turns out, is beyond all help as long as the political elite insist that ordinary people must pay for their mistakes and rich people must not, under any circumstances, pay higher taxes. Terrified that they might miss out on the blue-rinse, suicidally insane, "it's all the fault of the EU, immigrants and scroungers" vote, the LibDems and Labour swallowed what is left of their principles and went along with it. All parties are now committed to making inroads into the grinning idiot vote and are happy to continue living in a political "there is no alternative" desert bereft of any landmarks such as principles or even good ideas. With any idea of a functioning economy safely consigned to history, the politicians can now get down to the serious business of slagging off the people, you and I, whose only function appears to consist of paying their wages and providing them with unlimited expense accounts.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Back To Where We Started.

George Osborne announced yesterday that the British economy was "out of intensive care". Unfortunately he forgot to add that it is now in the morgue and what we are now experiencing is actually a zombie economy. Essentially what he was announcing is that we are all back to where we started before the banks were found out. Hoh goody - an economy that doesn't work for most of us, forces up prices, forces down wages and one that is entirely based on the unearned income that comes from an unsustainable property bubble. Little wonder then that George is celebrating. He has managed to reinstate a completely descredited economic system that everyone knows did not and cannot work, one in which only criminals can prosper and one that will pauperise our children and grandchildren. But, and this is the main thing, he has protected the value of his own property portfolio and made a world safe for those with the sharpest elbows. Greed, the thing that above all else wrecked the world economy, is back where it was before - in the driving seat - while the self-serving, the smug, the selfish and the terminally stupid are reading the map.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

The Politician's Credo.

I'm the one who saved the banks from the consequencies of their own criminal behaviour and then made you pay for it. I'm the one who took your job off you and then denied you benefits. I'm the one who taxed your grandmother for having too many bedrooms and then left her to die alone in a hospital corridor. I'm the one who wrecked your children's education and then denied them the opportunity to go to university. I'm the one who protected the value of my property portfolio and then made it too expensive for your children to either buy or even rent a place of their own. I'm the one who takes backhanders from my rich mates and then awards myself an unlimted expense account. I'm a politician and, except at election time, I don't care who you are.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Political Elite Pig Out.

The whole world seems to be either rioting or protesting nowadays. The reasons are many and varied but all seem have to have one thing in common - popular disgust with corrupt politicians who are more concerned with stuffing their own pockets than with saving the world economy. This is hardly surprising since politicians tend to be rich, greedy and utterly selfish by nature. They make some attempt to dress it up as something else but, at the end of the day, the fact that they always get richer and we always get poorer tells you everything you will ever need to know about them. Their favourite word at the moment is "austerity" for which, they tell us, "there is no alternative." No alternative for us at any rate. When it comes to their own comfort and that of their rich business mates austerity is strangely absent. In Britain the huge changes that were the result of the financial crisis are neither huge nor qualify in any sense as "changes". Banks still behave more like criminal enterprises than businesses, multi-nationals remain completely immune to tax and property prices, despite the collapse of the so-called "property bubble", remain inexplicably inflated. How can this be? The answer is deceptively simple. Our political elite really are as corrupt as they appear and are united on only one question - can we protect our money by getting a dumb electorate to pay for our mistakes? The answer, judging from the photograph above, seems to be "yes". Two things are for certain - their food banks are far better stocked than ours and their access to benefits seems to be unlimited.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

DWP Resorts To Magic.

In keeping with the Tory party's belief in "voodoo economics" the DWP has resorted to magic in order to stop the unemployed from claiming benefits. Bewildered claimants have been told to complete a 48-question "psychoemtric" test introduced by the DWP "Nudge Unit" and, if they fail to do so, they are told that they will have their benefits witheld. The test, which has been rejected in the United States for being unvalidated mumbo-jumbo, contains such statements as "I never go out of my way to visit museums," and "I have not created anything of beauty in the last year". These, the DWP claim, have been "scientifically shown to find people's strengths" and to "help rebuild self-confidence and identify character strength". The Division of Occupational Psychologists, however, said it was unable to find "any concrete evidence relating to proper development and psychometric qualities of the tool" and described the tests as "a sham." This is hardly surprising since this government's entire approach to welfare can best be described in similar terms. In fact such tests have long been considered to be rather dubious and their use by the DWP demonstrates quite clearly that their only goal is to cheat as many genuine claiments out of benefit payments as is humanly possible. Essentially the government is ambushing claiments with irrelevent nonsense, forcing them to jump through humiliating hoops and then threatening them if they protest. In that regard this particular piece of utter rubbish is on a par with all their other policies.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Osborne Finishes Off The Economy.

George Osborne has now managed to get together the full bag of economic horrors. Demand is falling like a rock, confidence is at an all-time low, unemployment is rising, wages are falling and now inflation is beginning to race ahead. Austerity is like playing a round of golf with only one club and the wrong one at that. Not only is it destroying the economy it is making it ever more difficult to reverse the trend. We are near a tipping point where no amount of effort to get the economy going again can possibly work. There will simply not be enough momentum to get it moving again and nothing left in reserve to edge it forward. George Osborne is nothing less then a one-man walking disaster area, the only thing on the economic horizon with enough energy to still keep moving and that in entirely the wrong direction. There is method behind his madness, however. The recession he's so happy to promote doesn't affect the rich - people like him in other words. As the econonomy collapses the alibi that the Tories need to dismantle the welfare state gathers credence. As things get worse ordinary people are encouraged to blame each other and point the finger at those who are "undeserving". People begin to wonder if their taxes are being properly spent and support for them wanes. Soon no one will want to pay taxes at all and the Tories will be only too happy to oblige - not because its the right thing to do but because they and their rich mates will be the biggest beneficiaries. The collapse of the economy is, then, not an unfortunate outcome of the recession but a policy goal in its own right. The Tory's cannot save the economy and have no interest in doing so if that means they will have to pay higher taxes. If they cannot increase their incomes they will do the next best thing - lower their overheads. Either way they win and the rest of us lose.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Cameron Too Idle To Get Dressed.

David Cameron, pictured above during a rare fully dressed moment, has admitted that he spends much of his working life in his pajamas. We asked the part-time Prime Minister why; "I suppose it began when I was unemployed - which to be fair has been most of my life. As a dedicated scrounger and tax avoider I found there was no real need to dress unless I happened to find myself outside. Even then I spend so much time on various European beaches that I don't really need much more than a t-shirt and a pair of shorts. Which raises another good point. Most of my clothes are permanently packed away in my suitcase in readiness for my next holiday and so are not available on a day-to-day basis. But what ordinary people have to realise is that important, rich people like me have no need to dress unless on public display and, in my case, I could easily be replaced by a tailor's dummy or my waxwork from Madame Tussauds. Work is as irrelevent to me as the recession - either way I continue to get richer because you are getting poorer. That is how it should be, I'm sure you'll agree. However, if it will help me to get elected again, I'll put getting dressed more often in the Tory party's next manifesto. After all our manifestos are just as irrelevent to us as working or the recession and, once I'm back at No.10, I'll just ignore any promises I've made to those daft enough to vote for us."

Friday, 14 June 2013

Cameron's £1 Million Prize For A "Big Idea".

David Cameron is a man with plenty of "big ideas", especially when it comes to the "Big Society" and big business. Unfortunately his next good idea will be his first. Today he announced that a £1 million prize will be put up for any idea that is so big that it might be compared to John Harrison's first truly accurate timepiece. I would like to claim that money and here's my idea. I would like to find an argument that will, once and for all, free this country from the ideological claptrap of the Tory party. A political "philosophy" that is based entirely on promoting character flaws should be relatively easy to refute. After all we've just had 30 years of object lessons in how divorced from reality their belief system actually is. Greed, it turns out, is not good. Self-serving selfishness has proven to be a poison that has all but killed the world economy, while platitudes such as "trickle-down" have proven to be mere chimeras. It's bad enough that, despite all the evidence, the Tory party insists on continuing to pedal its self-serving mythology, but the numbers amongst the electorate who continue to believe and vote for it is truly depressing. The only idea I can come up with that might be truly effective is a health warning on ballot papers during elections. Perhaps something along the lines of "Voting Tory Is Really Bad For You - Stop Doing It" or "Voting Tory Doesn't Cause Cancer But Will Ensure That You Won't Get Medical Attention For It." You can see the problem immediately - my ideas are just not snappy enough. Any ideas anyone? I'll share the money with you, honest.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Cameron Now Less Popular Than The Black Death.

It's official - David Cameron is now less popular than the Tory party which in turn is less popular than a dose of the clap. How did it come to this? Is it the fault of those fiendish Europeans? Is it because there are not enough gays in his party? Is it all the fault of the LibDems whose Machiavellian plotting has undermind the Tory plan to return us all to the Dark Ages? Is it because of a failure to communicate the urgent need to pauperise the entire country? No, it is none of these. It's because Cameron and his entire cabinet are of bunch of talentless, smug, self-satisfied dedicated scoungers without a working brain cell between them. Its because they actually believe that turning the whole country into one giant soup kitchen is actually a good idea. But, despite these obvious facts, the question still remains - how could a single individual, even one as depressingly stupid as Cameron, be more unpopular than a whole bunch of the depressingly stupid? The answer is actually quite simple - almost as simple as a Tory voter. The Tories have wilfully destroyed the entire economy to rescue a financial system that is both beyond repair and even more unpopular than they are. They have nailed their colours to the mast of a sinking ship, and then turned to the urgent task of rearranging the deckchairs. They have ignored the obvious and demonstrated, once again, that common sense will always come a poor second to their insane ideology. The Tories are unpopular because they are crazy and Cameron is even more unpopular because he's permanently out to lunch if not permanently on holiday.

Lending Increases (But Only To The Tory Party).

The man pictured above is Henry Angest, the Chief Executive Officer of Arbuthnot Banking Group PLC which includes Everyday Loans - a company that makes huge profits by offering hard working and hard-up ordinary people loans at rates of up to 75% per anum. In other words he is one of the new breed of loan sharks who are revelling in the hardship that people like him caused in the first place. He was also responsible for bankrolling the Tory party to the tune of £5 million at an interest of just 3.5%. Of course loans are handed out on the basis of risk and giving the Tory party millions is a sure bet since they could be expected - and have - ignored the scandal of legalised usury. Of course Henry Angest is not on his own - Lord Beecroft, who likes to pretend he's an "historian", is the head of Wonga which charges up 4,000% for payday loans and is also a major "contributor" to the Tory party. Criminal organisations bankrolling other criminal organisations is nothing new - business is business after all - but the spectacle of a British political party accepting bribes that effectively transfer money from the poor into their pockets is a tough pill to swallow. Meanwhile, back at RBS, Stephen Hester is being forced to accept a measly £5 million lottery win to step aside while the bank is flogged by George Osborne to yet another bunch of fatcat supporters of the Tory party at a knock-down price. The public were made shareholders in RBS without asking their permission and the bank will now be "privatised" at a loss - again without our permission - having been the grateful recipient of several billion £'s in "quantative easing" courtesy of the taxpayer. This is not "business", this is fraud pure and simple and political corruption on an epic scale.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

British Workers Are Getting Poorer While Criminals Get Richer.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has announced that wages in Britain have fallen further than at any time since records began. The main reason, they have suggested, is that workers have courageously taken pay freezes and even pay cuts to prevent widespread unemployment. If true that is very laudible - though most workers would probably say that they were never given any choice in the matter. One thing that they have failed to mention, however, is that shrinking wage packets is something that is confined only to certain people - more often than not in the public sector - while others have seen their wages soar. No prizes for guessing who's money has increased over the last few years - its the bankers and fatcat executives heading industries that were once owned publicly but have been stolen by the Tories and given to their already rich mates. While this is certainly grossly unfair given the role that bankers had in causing the latest economic slump and the role that executives have had in robbing ordinary people blind, it is also disastrous as far as recovering from recession is concerned. Lower wages means less demand in the economy and less demand means a continuation of the recession. Its not rocket science, though the Tories would like you to think it is. Nor is it difficult to understand why the Tories have taken the measures they have. There is only so much money to go around and they are determined that they and their rich mates will get more than their fair share at the expense of the rest of us and that we, not them, will pay for the economic disaster that they caused. Essentially the country is being mugged in broad daylight by a bunch of criminals who are actually proud of what they are doing.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Fat Cats Still Fat Cats And Getting Fatter.

Its been nearly five years now since the neoliberal economic system came crashing down under the weight of its own greed and stupidity and things have certainly changed. World trade has yet to recover, unemployment is still catastrophically high in far too many countries and austerity is still biting across the globe. In Britain the Tories have indulged their wet dream of dismantling the welfare state and returning the country to the mid-nineteenth century. The NHS is now ripe for picking and is sliding inexorably into private hands. An entire generation has been thrown onto the scrap heap, pensions for the older generation are gradually being whittled away to nothing, worker's rights are gradually disappearing and wages remain stagnant. Unless, of course, you were one of the criminals who foisted the neoliberal economic thesis onto the rest of us in the first place and then spent the next 30 years grabbing everything in sight. For them the word "change" has little if any meaning. In the last year alone executive pay has leapt by 10%, bankers are still greedily helping themselves to their customers money while ignoring any complaints from them and big corporations, like Thames Water, are still avoiding tax with complete immunity. For the wealthy criminal class who like to describe themselves as "businessmen" absolutely nothing has changed. They are still incompetent and crooked, still getting unfeasibly large pensions after a lifetime of playing golf, still not paying tax and they are still laughing at the rest of us.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

The Cost Of Class Cleansing.

In 64 AD the Emperor Nero took advantage of a disaster to clear a vast swathe of ancient Rome so he could build himself a huge golden house. While Rome burned Nero lept to the conclusion that he had been presented with a God-given opportunity to get rid of poor people so he could live in even greater luxury. His policy was, essentially, one of class cleansing. Fast forward nearly 2,000 years to what in Nero's day was the new province of Britannia and a new disaster - this time economic. Modern Britain's so-called upper class, educated beyond their intelligence and inculcated with the classics of ancient Greece and Rome, looked at the economic meltdown of 2008 and came to almost exactly the came conclusion as Nero. For them the banking crisis in which they had taken such an active part was not a disaster but an opportunity. Having persuaded the electorate that it was all their fault and it was only fair, therefore, that they should pay for it, those who govern our lives also concluded that they needed a little more space between them and us. This was only fair, they told us, because there were too many underserving poor polluting areas where they prefered to live, making them feel uncomfortable. Benefit payments for rent were therefore lowered and a new "bedroom tax" introduced. This, they told a guilible electorate, would "save money" allow for tax cuts and make for a "fairer" Britain. Of course this was absolute rubbish. Britain is now only "fairer" if you also happen to be rich while the promised tax cuts were also predominantly in their favour. Now, it turns out, the promised "savings" have been nonexistant. Westminster Council, who rubbed their hands together with glee as they contemplated an exodus of the poor and undeserving to more "northern" climes, has seen the bill for homelessness rise by a staggering 63.5%. The problem has been one of logistics it would seem. Not only are there simply not enough one bedroomed properties to rehouse such a huge number of people, northern towns and cities also refused to take in London's refugees just to please the blue-rinse set. Westminster Council, unable to completely ignore their responsibilities despite their best efforts to do so, were forced to rehouse these people in hotels and B&B's at taxpayers expense. Have they reversed their policy then? Absolutely not, because this vicious policy was never about "fairness" or saving money. It was always about class cleansing. We can only hope that the Tory party will suffer the same fate as Nero - committing suicide in a political wilderness and then fading from history.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Everything You've Ever Needed To Know About Britain.

While the Tories are stealing the NHS in order to flog it to their rich mates, the economy is sinking below any detectable level, people are queueing to get food from charities, prices are rocketing through the roof, an entire generation has been abandoned, bankers are still getting bonuses for not doing very much and MP's are stuffing their pockets with taxpayers money or taking bribes, what are the British doing about it? Protesting like they are in Turkey? Arresting bankers and politicians as they have in Iceland? No, the great British public is preparing to celebrate the 60th anniversary of a woman getting a new hat. For Britain democracy is just another interesting idea. Essentially it is still a feudal country with a thin veneer of public participation. As De Tocqueville once observed; "The British think they are free, but they are only free every five years." The truth is that the vast majority are completely shut out of the political process and are seemingly content to elect a dictatorship every now and again that, in turn, then ignores them competely. The British, it must be said, are the least politically aware people on Earth and seem to have only a dim idea as to what is in their best interests. Driven almost entirely by prejudice, easily swayed by newspapers that in a truly literate society would remain unsold on the newsagent shelves, they like nothing better than being constantly reminded that they are inferior and must be "governed" for their own good. Depressing isn't it?

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Protest In Britain Sets Its Priorities.

While Britain's economy is in the hands of an idiot, Parliament is once again mired in sleaze, disabled soldiers are being denied benefits, hospital queues grow ever longer and the only growth industry is food banks, the British have decided to take a stand - over badgers. Or so it would appear at least. In fact there have been many protests about unemployment, banker's bonuses, rip-off petrol, gas and electricity prices and the bedroom tax. The difference is that the badger protest is receiving a huge amount of press coverage while the other protests have been largely ignored. Why would this be? Could it possibly have anything to do with the close connections between the media and the political elite? Perish the thought. Or is that the British really are more concerned with the fate of badgers than they are over the fate of their fellow citizens? Probably. How is it that poor people can be so easily dehumanised while badgers are accorded a status that a child on a housing estate in Birmingham can only aspire to. Is this what the Tories mean by an "aspirational nation"? "Oooh. If only we were a family badgers," a poor family might dream as they visit the food bank yet again. In fact there is less difference between the two than you might imagine - both are in danger of being culled by this woeful and vicious Tory dominated government.