Politicians

Senility of the Elites

http://www.doomsteaddiner.net/forum/index.php/topic,4914.msg76739/topicseen.html#msg76739Off the keyboard of Ugo Bardi

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Published on Resource Crisis & Chimeras on May 29, 2015

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The senility of elites: coal mining must continue, no matter what the human costs

 
The coal mine of Bihar, India. Photo by Nitin Kirloskar
 

This post was inspired by a recent article about coal mining in India by David Rose in the Guardian about coal mining. In India, people are dying in the streets because of excessive heat caused by global warming, but Rose reports that "across a broad range of Delhi politicians and policymakers there is near unanimity. There is, they say, simply no possibility that at this stage in its development India will agree to any form of emissions cap, let alone a cut." In other words, coal mining must continue in the name of economic growth, no matter what the human costs. 

I think it is hard to see a more evident example of the senility of the world's elites. It is, unfortunately, not something that pertains only to India. Elites all over the world seem to be nearly totally blind to the desperate situation in which we all are. 

On this matter, I have a post written on my "Chimeras" blog that describes how the blindness of the elites is not just typical of our times, but was the same at the time of the Roman Empire. It is a discussion of how one of the members of the Roman elite, Rutilius Namatianus, completely misunderstood the situation of the last years of the Empire. It is our plea of human being that we don't understand collapse, not even when we live it.

Of his return: a Roman patrician tells of how he lived the collapse of the empire.

 

 

The 5th century saw the last gasps of the Western Roman Empire. Of those troubled times, we have only a few documents and images. Above, you can see one of the few surviving portraits of someone who lived in those times; Emperor Honorius, ruler of what was left of the Western Roman Empire from 395 to 423. His expression seems to be one of surprise, as if startled at seeing the disasters taking place during his reign.

At some moment during the first decades of the 5th century C.E., probably in 416, Rutilius Namatianus, a Roman patrician, left Rome – by then a shadow of its former glory –  to take refuge in his possessions in Southern France. He left to us a report of his travel titled "De Reditu suo", meaning "of his return" that we can still read today, almost complete.

Fifteen centuries after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, we have in this document a precious source of information about a world that was ceasing to exist and that left so little to us. It is a report that can only make us wonder at how could it be that Namatianus got everything so badly wrong about what was happening to him and to the Roman Empire. And that tells us a lot about how it is that our elites understand so little about what's happening to us.

To understand the "De Reditu" we need to understand the times when it was written. Most likely, Namatianus came of age in Rome during the last decades of the 4th century, during the reign of Theodosius 1st (347-395 C.E.) the last Emperor to rule both the Western and the Eastern halves of the Empire. When Theodosius died, in 395 C.E., there started the last convulsions of the Western Roman Empire, that would lead to its formal demise in 476 A.D. But, at the times of Namatianus, there still were Roman Emperors, there still was a Roman Senate, there still was the city of Rome, perhaps still the largest town in Western Europe. And there still were Roman armies charged to defend the Empire against invaders. All that was to disappear fast, much faster than anyone could have guessed at that time.

Namatianus must have been already an important patrician in Rome when Stilicho led what Gibbon calls "the last army of the Republic" to stop the Goths coming down toward Rome in a battle that took place in 406 C.E. Then there was the downfall of Stilicho, executed under for treason on orders of Emperor Honorius. Then, there came the invasion of the Goths under Alaric 1st and their taking of Rome in 410 C.E. All in all, Namatianus saw the fall of seven pretenders to the Western throne, several major battles, the sack of Rome and much more.

Those troubled times saw also a number of figures we still remember today. Of those who were contemporary to Namatianus, we have Galla Placidia, the last (and only) Empress of the Western Roman Empire and it is likely that Namatianus knew her personally as a young princess. Namatianus must also have known, at least by fame, Hypatia, the pagan philosopher murdered by Christians in Egypt in 415 CE. He also probably knew of Augustine (354-430), bishop of the Roman city of Hippo Regius, in Africa. There are more historical figures who were contemporaries of Namatianus, although it is unlikely that he ever heard of them. One was a young warrior roaming the Eastern plains of Europe, whose name was Attila. Another (perhaps) was a warlord of the region called Britannia, whom we remember as "Arthur." Finally, Namatianus probably never heard of a young Roman patrician born in Roman Britannia, someone named  "Patricious" (later known as "Patrick"), who would travel to the far away island called "Hybernia" (today known as Ireland) some twenty years after that Namatianus started his journey to Gallia.

But who was Namatianus, himself? Most of what we know about him comes from his own book, De Reditu, but that's enough for us to put together something about him and his career. So, we know that he came from a wealthy and powerful family based in Gallia, modern France. He attained prestigious posts in Rome: first he was "magister officiorum;" something like secretary of state, and then "praefectus urbi," the governor of Rome.

During those troubled times, the Emperors had left Rome for a safer refuge in the city of Ravenna on the Eastern Italian coast. So, for some time, Namatianus must have been the most powerful person in town. He was probably charged with defending Rome from the invading Goths; but he failed to prevent them from taking the city and sacking it in 410. Maybe, he also tried – unsuccessfully – to prevent the kidnapping by the Goths of the daughter of Emperor Theodosius 1st, Galla Placidia, who later became empress. He must also have been involved in some way in the dramatic events that saw the Roman Senate accusing Stilicho's widow, Serena, of treason and having her executed by strangling (these were eventful years, indeed).

We don't know if any or all these events can be seen as related to Namatianus' decision to  leave Rome (perhaps even to run away from Rome). Perhaps there were other reasons, perhaps he simply gave up with the idea of staying in a half destroyed and dangerous city. But, for what we are concerned with, here, we can say that if there was one person who could have a clear view of the situation of the Empire, that person was Namatianus. As prefect of Rome, he must have reports coming to him from all the regions still held by the Empire. He must have known of the movements of the Barbarian armies, of the turmoil in the Roman territories, of the revolts, of the bandits, of the usurpers, and of the Emperors. In addition, he was a man of culture, enough that later on he could write a long poem, his "De Reditu." Surely, he knew Roman history well, as he must have been well acquainted with the works of the Roman historians, Tacitus, Livy, and Sallust, and others.

But could Namatianus understand that the Western Roman Empire was collapsing? Perhaps surprisingly, he could not. That's clear from his report of his travel to Gallia by the sea. Just read this excerpt from "De Reditu":

"I have chosen the sea, since roads by land, if on the level, are flooded by rivers; if on higher ground, are beset with rocks. Since Tuscany and since the Aurelian highway, after suffering the outrages of Goths with fire or sword, can no longer control forest with homestead or river with bridge, it is better to entrust my sails to the wayward."

Can you believe that? If there was a thing that the Romans had always been proud of that was their roads. These roads had a military purpose, of course, but everybody could use them. A Roman Empire without roads is not the Roman Empire, it is something else altogether. Think of Los Angeles without highways. Namatianus tells us also of silted harbors, deserted cities, a landscape of ruins that he sees as he moves north along the Italian coast.

But Namatianus, really, understands nothing about what's going on. He can only interpret it on as a temporary setback. Rome has seen hard times before, he seems to think, but the Romans always triumphed over their enemies. It has always been like this and it will always be like this; Rome will become powerful and rich again. Namatianus is never direct in his accusations, but it is clear that he sees the situation as the result of the Romans having lost their ancient virtues. According to him, it is all a fault of those Christians, that pernicious sect. It will be enough to return to the old ways and to the old Gods, and everything will be fine again.

That's even more chilling than the report on the decaying cities and fortifications. How could Namatianus be so short-sighted? How can it be that he doesn't see that there is much more to the fall of Rome than the loss of patriarchal virtues of the ancient? And, yet, it is not just a problem with Namatianus. The Romans never really understood what was happening to their Empire, except in terms of military setbacks that they always saw as temporary. They always seemed to think that these setbacks could be redressed by increasing the size of the army and building more fortifications. And they got caught in a deadly spiral in which the more resources they spent in armies and fortifications, the poorer the Empire became. And the poorer the Empire became, the more difficult it was to keep it together. In the end, by the mid 5th century, there were still people in Ravenna whom pretended to be "Roman Emperors", but nobody was paying attention to them any longer.

So, Namatianus provides us with a precious glimpse of what it is like living a collapse "from the inside". Most people just don't see it happening – it is like being a fish: you don't see the water. And, then, think of our times. You see the problem?

The "De Reditu" arrived to us incomplete and we don't know what was the conclusion of Namatianus' sea journey. Surely, he must have arrived somewhere, because he could complete his report. Most likely he did reach his estates in Gallia and, perhaps, he lived there to old age. But we may also imagine a more difficult destiny for him if we refer to a contemporary document, the "Eucharisticos" written by Paulinus of Pella, another wealthy Roman patrician. Paulinus fought hard to maintain his large estates in France, despite barbarian invasions and societal collapse, but he found that land titles are of little value if there is no government that can enforce them. In old age, he was forced to retire in a small estate in Marseilles, reporting that, at least, he was happy to have survived. Perhaps something similar happened also to Namatianus. Even those who don't understand collapse are condemned to live it.

Great Statesmen

logopodcastOff the microphone of RE

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Aired on the Doomstead Diner on March 25, 2015

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OUT WITH THE OLD…

http://www.americaslibrary.gov/assets/aa/wash/aa_wash_subj_m.jpghttp://www.history.org/almanack/people/images/thomasjefferson_sm.jpghttps://ageofex.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/gower-elizabeth-1-digl.jpghttp://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/34/78134-004-8587374E.jpghttp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9c/Sir_Winston_S_Churchill.jpg/245px-Sir_Winston_S_Churchill.jpghttp://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2009/01/25/books/julius-190.jpghttp://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/images/indira-gandhi-1.jpg

Snippet:

http://www.carlaanne.com/uploads/2012/01/Ahrias-Knight-Painting.jpg…As we observe the ever upward spiral of crisis around the world and the utter madness of the responses begin to overwhelm you, you begin to wonder why no White Knight in Shining Armor ever turns up? Where are the Great Statesmen of Yore who saved the world in prior calamitous times? Why aren’t such great men & women apparent anywhere these days, but rather just further iterations of puppets like Shillary Clinton and Jeb Bushsky?

Depending on who is writing and what the political spin is, you have any number of people who are pointed to as an example of a Great Statesman. The Founding Fathers of the FSoA often get the nod, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, Sam Adam and the rest of the folks who dropped their John Hancocks on the Declaration of Independence. Later on in the FSoA, “Honest” Abe Lincoln and “Old Hickory” Andrew Jackson are seen by some as great statesmen.

Over in Eurotrashland, the winning side History books often portray folks like Winston Churchill, Benjamin Disraeli as great statesman, Otto von Bismark is seen by some as great and you had some post WWII folks like Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle considered by some as great…

…and in with the NEW!

http://keepo.me/da39a3ee5e6b/195x122xkeepo.me-Clinton1web_2831249b-195x122.jpg.pagespeed.ic.d34ey53lIs.jpghttp://www.slate.com/content/dam/slate/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2014/12/141203_POL_JebBush.jpg.CROP.promo-mediumlarge.jpghttps://abbottprooffence.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/wide-eyed-abbott.jpg?w=604http://i49.tinypic.com/2zzi4c2.jpg

For the rest, LISTEN TO THE RANT!!!

Slog Tri-fecta

Off the Keyboard of John Ward

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Published on The Slog on February 27-28, 2015

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RE Note: Slogger JW has been especially prolific of late with quite a bit of good stuff, so I am compiling a few at a time now instead of posting them individually.

GREECE LATEST: HUGE GREEK BANK OUTFLOWS, EURO FALLING AGAINST THE £, BUNDESTAG BACKS GREECE MEMORANDUM

ChambptIf the Varoufakis memorandum ‘deal’ is so respectable, why do none of the players, or their Party bigwigs, or the markets, like it?

There’s a piece in the online magazine Counterpunch at the moment purporting to show how Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has ‘kept Greece in the euro by its fingernails’. Without going over the same tedious ground yet again, nobody can do that, because Greece doesn’t need to cling onto anything: once you’re in the euro, there’s no way out.
The piece continues as follows:‘So, those who think that Varoufakis should have given the Eurogroup an ultimatum (“Reduce our debts or we’ll leave.”) simply don’t understand the nature of the negotiations.  Varoufakis was forced to operate  within very strict parameters. Given those limitations, he nabbed a very respectable deal.’
If I had a Pound for every expert who responded to an injection of reality with “no no, you don’t understand” I’d be a very rich man indeed. QE, derivatives, the gold price, the euro’s value, UK ‘growth’, fractional reserve banking, the Manchester United owning Glazer brothers, ludicrously over-priced bourses, the EC’s finances, and BoJ asset purchases have all been ‘sold’ to me over the years are the best way forward…when they are obvious disaster areas waiting to happen.
In this case, it’s the idea that what Varoufakis signed last week was a ‘very respectable deal’. I’d like to put one simple question to the Game Players: if the deal is so good, why does no side – there are more than two – want it?
The Greek KKE doesn’t want it, 8 senior Syriza MPs don’t want it, and yesterday afternoon Merkel was given a seriously rough ride by her own CDU Upper Circle. I’ve yet to meet a single anti-federalist who likes it…but I’ve been told a dozen times that Varoufakis has “bought time”. He has: but is it peace in our time, or time for things to get worse for the Greeks?
Even the fairly large print of the Memorandum makes YV’s job impossible, and it isn’t helped by the obviously manipulated departure of bank deposits. Four months from now they will be back around the same table, and there is just one thing alone that might make Yanis’s hand stronger: Italy turning to sh*t – which it could do….and ought to do.
But if your main adversary is an Italian crook heading up the ECB, I wouldn’t hold your breath on it. In that four months, there’ll be 24/7 smearing and trolls, manufactured bank panics, and pretty much anything they can think of to take Syriza’s eye off the ball. Last month, a record €12.2 billion left Greek banks: that is more  than any outflows experienced during any of the previous Greek crises and bailouts. Zero Hedge is now confirming the Slogpost of last week when it says ‘the Troika did everything in its power to accelerate the bank run in order to crush any negotiating leverage Varoufakis may have had’.
As for Tsipras himself, his hardest task will be to keep the Coalition together…plus social protests and unrest coming from the KKE and Golden Dawn…both of whom are virulently anti-euro.

I wrote earlier this week that Varoufakis missed his chance to exploit the enormous Bundesbank v ECB v France rift – the thing that will do for the entire EU in time regardless of anything else that might happen. But he failed to call the bluff. That’s all Draghi had: bluff.

Today, with this marvellous deal nobody likes, the euro has fallen further, and now stands at 1.38 to Sterling. If he had walked last Friday, Troika2 would’ve been in l’ordure profonde. There is an old adage that says, “When you borrow £10,000 from a bank, it’s your problem. When you borrow $280billion and can’t pay it back, it’s the bank’s problem”. So far, EU citizens haven’t paid a red cent of any of the funny-money involved in bailing out Greece. Now they will have to…and it could tip at least two of them – Spain and Italy – over the edge. This is the size of the opportunity Varoufakis missed.

On verra. But I remain at a loss to see what Greece has gained here…except the bewildered disrespect of a lot of the neutrals.

At the End of the Day

We’ve just had a sunset here that can’t measure up to West Indian or Greek ends-of-day for awesome brilliance followed by soft red, but will always beat them hands-down for the range of colours involved.

In this sort of late-winter Aquitainian sunset, there are light greys, charcoals, limes, four shades of blue, infinite yellows – and spectacular solid rays that reach up to the heavens. Religiously influenced 19th century paintings of the English sunset made great play with the rays thing, but they all look insipid alongside what I just saw here.

The thing that’s particularly enthralling about the skies in the Lot is that they’re never boring. This enhances the sense, at sunset, of the illusion of Time being played out second by second: it’s a bit like watching a Turner painting observed through the Polaroids of David Hockney. You can’t take your eye off it for even a second, because all is change. As the Buddhist mantra has it, all things are in transition.

*********************************

If only the same could be said for Wolfgang Schäuble. You always know where you are with Wolfie: the bloke comes with a cast-iron guarantee that he will always support his inflexible approach with an insane argument. He was on top form in the Bundestag today, asserting to his CDU naysayers that “This is not about lending more money to Greece, it is about continuing with the programme”.

Just to insert the odd undisputed fact here, since 2010 his geliebte programme imposed upon Greece has produced the greatest depression of any Western economy in recorded history. Yet Dr Strangelove insists that Greek recovery will without question emerge from Aphrodite by the waterhole standing firmly at the side of Phoenix among the ashes – neither of whom have any money to consume the goods that the Greek economy cannot produce, because it has no finance.

You really do have to be profoundly mad to stick to that kind of programme.

But in Germany, political rebellion takes place in a way no other country can reproduce. In Germany, the leading CDU rednecks give Merkel a hard time for being a liberal pinko, and then traipse into the Bundestag to vote overwhelmingly for the extension of the Programme. In a German revolution, everyone forms an orderly queue to express dissatisfaction at the soft treatment being meted out to the Üntermenschen who do not grasp their Weltanschauung. Then they obey whatever bonkers bollocks Mutti Merkel comes out with.

It is all terrifyingly similar to Goebbels yelling that “All Jews are Communists, and all Communists are Jews”.

*********************************

Now that South Korea’s Constitutional Court has decriminalized adultery, Bloomberg reports that the country’s leading condom manufacturer Unidus shares rose by 11.75% today.

If you’re in any doubt about the importance of this ruling, I should point out that in 2008, actress Ok So Ri acknowledged publicly she had an affair with a singer. So her compassionate actor husband called for the maximum penalty of two years in prison. She got a suspended eight-month term. I’m not the world’s most right-on person, but the idea of this kind of chastity-belt claptrap still existing in the 21st century is not good news. Take a look at Indonesia’s laws against women: they beggar belief.

I do believe in long-term relationship sexual loyalty, but manufacturing crime out of human passion is about as bad as it gets.

That said, I have problems with the share price rise…as I so often do with f**kwitted stock market logic. If you’re marrried and you have an affair involving unprotected sex, presumably your husband knows you’re unprotected. So why would condoms be necessary – especially in the passion of the moment?

I do dislike reducing love to the mechanics of it all. But the problem with bourses the world over is that they’re dominated by daft testerone-fuelled blokes whose left brains are atrophied as a result of none-use.

And on that happy note, I bid you all bon weekend.

Our politicians make a hash of it because they’re bought, not because they’re braindead

mcteeth From Athens to Washington via Berlin, Paris and London, we are getting the wrong policies for us, because they’re not designed to be for us in the first place

Herewith a very small proportion of some major political cockups of recent vintage:

The EU ‘annexed’ former Soviet satellites in central and eastern Europe without giving a thought to what the effect might be in terms of cheaper goods and lower-cost workers.

The EU and US conspired to meddle in Ukrainian politics, and as a result were given a bloody nose by Putin.

The EU created one currency across 18 cultural divides without giving any exit door, and as a result the Greek population is paying for the crimes of the pro-EU oligarchy.

The EU is imposing a mad scorched earth policy on the Greeks in the bizarre hope that the grass will regrow two minutes after the fire goes out.

The EU trampled all over Cyprus, and as a result Putin has completed a bailout deal with them….in return for naval bases there.

The EU created a government structure in which unelected functionaries have all the ‘ideas’ – and the elected MEPs get to rubber stamp them – and hoped that democracy would flourish.

The US blundered into Iraq twice, supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, bombed Iraq for a third time, supported the rebels in Syria, and then changed its mind to support Bashar Assad and bomb the rebels…all in pursuit of energy control, without ever trying with any consistency to develop beyond fossil fuels.

The UK Prime Minister David Cameron gave a speech in Ankara heaping praise upon closet Islamist Recep Erdogan and referring to Gaza as “a concentration camp”….while Erdogan was busy supplying the unfortunates living in the small State with arms.

Cameron hired Andy Coulson despite being warned by a dozen well-placed people that he’d committed myriad crimes while at Newscorp.

The UK supported Bush in the Gulf War without any thought for the jihadist consequences…leading directly to 55 deaths in London and a wholesale radicalisation of British Islamics.

Successive UK governments allowed immigrants to pour into Britain over a 40 year period, dismissing all naysayers as racists – but without a thought for where they were all going to live….and now dismisses all opponents of their radical house-building policy as tree-huggers.

The UK government supports fracking – despite the calamitous fall in the oil price and the obvious threat to Britain’s already compromised water supply…and thus also increased lack of land on which to build homes to house the migrants they thoughtlessly let in after 1970.

…………………………..

I could go on like this all day. For a week even – and never stop, except for comfort breaks and sleep. Whichever way you cut it, these politician chaps are not very good, are they? Also, they’re incorrigibly corrupt…as the latest revelations in the UK showed only too well this week. And not very bright. Unpleasant when you meet them. Unresponsive. In fact, incapable of seeing the consequences of anything they do. So we need another bonfire –  after the ones for civil servants, lawyers and accountants die down – on which to chuck the politicians.

The current crop of politicians in the West are indeed pretty dire, and woefully lacking in leadership skills or the ability to unite rather than divide. But they’re the product of a culture – nothing more, nothing less.

The one thing all these idiot policies have in common is self-serving lobbyists.

In consecutive order, the lobbying that dictated the disasters listed above came from the US State Department, multinational business, the CIA alongside Silicone Valley, multinational banking, the German Interior Ministry, Wall Street, the European Central Bank, the US oil industry, NATO, Newscorp, the race relations industry, neoliberal employer organisations, and the construction industry.

Now you could argue that a lot of those lobbies are merely part of the political process, but they are not. Only two sets of people should set political policy: elected legislators, and the electorate. The rest – especially Whitehall – are supposed to shut up and pay attention, but they don’t. The same applies to central bankers, bourse districts, and business generally. The policies currently driven by lobbyists fail over and over again because they are about ego and bottom lines, not the needs or Will of the People.

When Jean Blondel wrote Voters, Parties and Leaders in the late 1950s, he described what he called ‘pressure groups’. Their job was to bring to the government’s attention plights and opportunities, not to bribe them: such a thing was thought completely improper then. Today, US, UK, and EU civil servants openly take up positions in banks, multinationals, and energy companies after leaving the bureaucracy. This is a twofold phenomenon: the reward for past favours done, and the ability to show the poachers how to avoid the gamekeepers.

You may choose to believe, for instance, that John McCain is mad. But he is far from that: he is almost exclusively bankrolled by the oil and munitions industries – especially the US areospace business. So instead of ‘mad’, think Middle East, ISIS oilfield attacks, arming the Ukraine, and bombing jihadists. All the wrong policies, and all for the same reason: more munneee for Mr McCain, more contracts for the arms business, and security of supply for the oilcos.

If you take a degraded culture – some would even say a depraved culture – and allow it to produce the politicians…who then get offered free wonga by obsessive multinationals, this is the entirely predictable result. The final result might, one day, be final in the most terrifying sense of the word: greedy little men like McCain starting World War III as a result of selling jets to Iran, or 2D undetectable weaponry to the Israelis, or covert nuclear delivery to the Germans, tactical nukes to African mercenaries, or anybody else – never mind who, business is business kid – that has the munnneeeee.

I’ve been giving Syriza something of a bashing this week (which I think they richly deserve) but the great thing in their favour is the desire to make Greece a more open, honest and accountable culture. It is the ultimate c-word, and the only way real radicals can effect change now. We need a different way of rolling back greed through education and example: what we don’t need is the old Big State Left and Neolib Right ideologies replayed yet again: they don’t bear any relevance to social anthropology, and so I switch off once the empty historical syntax gets trotted out.

Syriza’s form of localism appeals to me because its communal and bottom-up. Sadly, I now fear that the situation will go tits-up before they get the chance to put it into practice. One thing people who don’t ‘get’ Greece can’t grasp is that Syriza’s ‘natural’ franchise of voters is probably under 6%, if not less. It is a loose collaboration of convenience designed to stand up to Brussels and get rid of the Greek oligarchy. Once people think its leaders are just as boneless as their predecessors, Greek politics could easily descend into chaos…perhaps even civil war.

But Tsipras and co still have a chance – albeit a slim one – to tell the EU where to get off, and then watch as the opposing edifice collapses in acrimony. If they do, then four things have to go in Greece: neoliberal drivel, privately funded political Parties, dishonest officials, and lobbying. If they can start to make a go of that alongside communal support and better education, they might just achieve something truly worthwhile for citizens everywhere around the World.

Ruled by Goons

Off the keyboard of Jason Heppenstall

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Published on 22 Billion Energy Slaves on October 17, 2013

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Okay, so I don’t normally dip my toe into the foul and fetid waters of politics, after all one Endless Growth party looks like the next to me and it’s been hard to tell the difference most of my adult life. But times seem to be changing because it is becoming increasingly clear that here in the UK we are RULED BY GOONS!

Most people these days might think that a goon is a kind of thug – and that would probably work here as well – but the definition I had in mind comes from the old radio comedy classic The Goon Show. So, according to the Urban Dictionary a goon can be a ‘stupid or oafish person’.

Yep, we’re being ruled by stupid or oafish people. You might think there are stupid and oafish people in Washington right now, but they are mere amateurs alongside our group of unintentional comedians. Seriously, slapstick would be a high art form in comparison to the high jinks our London lot get up to. Here’s a list of things they have got up to in the LAST WEEK. Yes, in just a week (or maybe slightly longer in some cases, but no more than two weeks), they have been hard at work putting on their cabaret show with the following list of performances:

[Drumroll]

1 – Top of any Goonshow list has to be the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. Yes, this former Oxford graduate, former member of the riotous male-only dining clique the Bullingdon Club (the entry requirements of which include burning a £50 note in the face of a homeless person) is still telling us that the British economy is growing and that the worst is behind us.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne before he grew up (left) and now

This week George was on a trip to China, trying to woo them. He met lots of Chinese students and businessmen and then told British people that we were to stop treating them like factory drones and show some respect. Oh, then he offered to waive the visa rules for ultra-rich Chinese businessmen and furthermore offered the Chinese the chance to run 100% of Britain’s future nuclear power stations.

As if the prospect of this was not scary enough, we were also told that we could soon be policed by foreign police forces – our own presumably being too expensive. So, we can imagine, when some Chinese tycoon decides to build a nuke down the end of my road, I can expect ex Red Army policemen to clobber me and any attempt to protest.

Other Osborne moments this week include the demolishing of his housing bubble inflator policy instrument ‘Help to Buy’ by the newly minted Nobel economist Robert Shiller. Read all about it via the Automatic Earth here.

2 – Second in the Goonshow hit parade is Envrionment Secretary Owen Paterson – the man charged with looking after the environment – saying that climate change was ‘not all bad‘. Yes, there are bright spots, according to him. It will be warmer, chuckle, and we won’t have to fly to Spain for holidays. What’s more, he said, not so many people will die of cold in the winter (see below) which, for some reason, he seems to think is the ‘leading cause of death for humans’ (?). He also revealed that some people take it all too seriously and should just try and relax a bit and have some fun.

3 – And Owen Paterson is in third place as well. The long protested-against badger cull has been proceeding now for some weeks, with many of the furry mammals beloved of Beatrix Potter and Queen’s Brian May having been forced to eat hot lead in order to appease the Tory-voting farming unions. Alas, when marksmen failed to notch up enough black and white corpses the ‘scientific cull’ was deemed a failure.

Who is to blame for this debacle?

The badgers themselves, of course. Mr Paterson says the creatures ‘moved the goalposts’ – presumably by resisting being genocided. Scientists all along had said that the cull was pointless and unscientific, but farmers wanted ‘something’ done about the spread of TB into their herds of cattle.

4 – In fourth place – although he usually deserves to be a lot higher up – is our leader and fellow Bullingdon Club goon Mr David Cameron. Mr ‘C3PO made out of Spam’ rattles off any number of jaw-droppers every time he opens his mouth, but what clangers has he come up with recently? Well, there’s that picture of him asleep on a bed with his secret red box that was posted on Instagram by his sister in law as she was getting dressed (!).

The man asleep in the background runs the UK. Or thinks he does.

Then there was the repeated claim that shale gas drilling is beneficial for the UK following the ‘amazing’ success story in the US.

And then there was the woeful privatisation of the Royal Mail overseen by his government this week – reminiscent of the lowest ‘greed is good’ days of the Thatcher era. The Royal Mail, which is approaching its 500th birthday, was sold off dirt cheap, with the lion’s share going to big City firms. Little investors were also eager to grab some shares and cash them in, and the Daily Goonagraph – sorry Telegraph – even had a moving share ticker as its headline, showing how much dosh ‘the little man’ was making minute by minute.

Today, fearing for their jobs (and rightly so), workers at the newly privatised organisation voted to go on strike.

Finally, still with Cameron, following today’s announcement by British Gas that it will raise its prices another 10% or so – even though many people now cannot afford to eat and heat their home – announced that people should ditch the company. Never mind that the, er, competitors will all follow suit and that his own government revealed that it is cutting money set aside to insulate poor people’s homes.

Let them eat snow flakes!

This fuel poverty message in Manchester gets the point across about energy firms in the UK

Oh, and one last thing, Mr C using his most threatening growly voice has said the Guardian newspaper should be ‘investigated’ for publishing NSA revelations. This follows on from the new press charter that is being put into place that will severely restrict what newspapers are allowed to say about our illustrious rulers. Here’s Private Eye’s (ever welcome) take on it all.

5 – In fifth place is the entire Foreign Office, who with perfect timing, announced that the UK is to become the ‘hub’ for drilling the bejesus out of the Arctic to get at all the oil and gas there. Yes, just days after 30 mostly British members of Greenpeace were arrested and slung into the Gulag by Russia for protesting against Arctic drilling, and only weeks after the IPCC reconfirmed that we are going to hell in a hand basket unless we stop burning fossil fuels the FO deems it a good time to make this bold claim to getting a ‘piece of the action’ up north. It’s great to know that the government is concerned about the climate.

6 – In sixth place is our favourite parliamentary clown Owen Paterson again. This time he really pushed the boat out by saying that opponents of all that nice genetically modified food stuff that his big business pals want to force upon the world are ‘wicked‘. Yes, that would make people who oppose GM food evil. They are apparently guilty of ‘killing millions of innocent children’! Well I never.

Owen Paterson conducting some experiments on genes in his home lab

7 – No list of Tory goons would be complete without London’s ‘Lord’ mayor Boris Johnson aka BoJo. He doesn’t have to do anything other than just continuing to exist to be included on any goon list, but here he is, saying that all English school children must now learn Mandarin rather than French. To force home this point, he flew over Hong Kong in a helicopter earlier today having being voted ‘England’s most patriotic politician’ – thus the Churchillain repose.

‘BoJo’ – apparently ‘England’s most patriotic politician’
Boris Johnson on fracking:

“The extraction process alone would generate tens of thousands of jobs in parts of the country that desperately need them. And above all, the burning of gas to generate electricity is much, much cleaner – and produces less CO2 – than burning coal. What, as they say, is not to like?
In their mad denunciations of fracking, the Greens and the eco-warriors betray the mindset of people who cannot bear a piece of unadulterated good news. Beware this new technology, they wail. Do not tamper with the corsets of Gaia! Don’t probe her loamy undergarments with so much as a finger — or else the goddess of the earth will erupt with seismic revenge. Dig out this shale gas, they warn, and our water will be poisoned and our children will be stunted and our cattle will be victims of terrible intestinal explosions.”

8 – In eighth place a joint award goes to 80% of the UK population who failed to notice any of the above because they have become obsessed with a) A TV programme about baking cakes, b) A TV programme about celebrities doing ballroom dancing and c) A TV programme which features a couple having sex in a box in front of an audience which is then analysed by a panel of ‘sexperts’.

Oh, and the football was on (England won).

Sex Box: takes voyeurism to a whole new level

Ever feel like the kids are in charge at the kindergarten?

Update

As George points out in his comment below, I forgot to include the Education Secretary Michael Gove.  No gallery of goons would be complete without the man who is pushing through such draconian – and frankly pointless – education reforms that teachers refer to him as the ‘school bully‘ and even went on strike against him yesterday.

And finally …

Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, who publicly told a woman who had been historically abused to “Adjust your medication,” after he refused to help her out.

Pickles: Adjust your medication

Okay … that’s enough (I know, I should have mentioned William Hague)!

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