Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Why do we need Brain Wave Activity ?

So brain waves are the net measure of the highest electrical activity of those many millions of neurons that can be detected outside the cranium: it is not the activity of all neurons, but since it is scientific fact that the cortex and especially the frontal lobes are involved in intelligent thought, social interaction, learning and personality then the measure of brain waves is quite likely a proxy of the most important activity in the brain. Pretty lucky that it can be measured without drilling through the skull!

Why does the brain have wave like rhythms  and combinations of longer wave Hz with short burst type activity such as in beta waves ? Why do conversely the dominant wave form detectable in sleep and relaxed thought have a higher amplitude ie signal strength while slower Hz ?  What also does the Gamma relatively high Hz wave pattern tell us when it can be seen as associated to enlightenment experiences and “deep wisdom” ?

Fundamentally then the brain can be seen to work in a non chaotic way: there is both an underlying pattern in the main amplitude long waves, with a periodicity parameter, and then the shorter waves which appear more random but are still "Up and down" and change when the major wave changes amplitude and frequency.

Why does the “measurable and important brain” create waves and why do we actually need wave patterns?

Well as a mol biologist, it is known that neurons require time to carry out various “recharging” functions and also biochemical summations at their synapses, followed by a degree of clearing out receptors by breaking down molecules so that new signals or summations can be made at the synapses.

Even silicon wafers have their physical limits of how many circuits per micron and how many of opening-closing each logic gate can facilitate per millisecond. Chips also get hot the denser the circuits are packed and the more calculations required per second.

So there is quite another fundamental issue arises quite a lot more fundamental than recharging complex biochemical pathways: heat - the brain is dense and uses and fluid heat exchange system to dissipate heat: These are not an ideal combination within a solid spherical enclosure! A common way in nature that biological systems cool themselves is by cycling the activity. This applies to many things, from bombardier beetles boiling defence spray to the way lizards move in the dessert.

However I feel from my first delve into this whole topic for over 25 years, that these two bio-physiological requirements are not the be-all-and-end-all of brain waves: they are not the reason for higher thought being associated to brain waves: rather the whole wave activity is likely to have evolved into a meta system from this basal need to dissipate heat and regenerate biochemical entities.

In other words these two characteristics of multicellular neuron systems, brains and spinal cords, actually became a meta operating system in its own right : it became a system above the biochemical processes that then actually began to feedback and influence the biochemistry in order to perform higher and higher neural functions ie mental activities such as motor, reasoning, feeling, considering, summating, calculating, evaluating risk, and interacting socially.

In a way brain waves may be the like the winding of the earliest computers: these calculation engines are wound by hand- this is a good analogy- there is a good deal of set up of the system by adjusting wheels or pins and then the system calculates at a higher hertz, or rather literally RPM!  Without the set up and the fast running the two cannot function on their own. On the one side we would be locked into a pondering coma like status, always loading up for the reasoning but never releasing the number crunching mechanisms to come to a resolution in time. Or alternatively, the whole high hertz system running without any pre-programming, just chaotically, producing nothing of any sense or repeating eternally a single programme.

Well being can be in fact defined by the reasonable ability or habituation to changing gears, especially out of the demanding Beta ( and perhaps for some, the loading from the theta wave periods in day dreaming, loose reasoning and REM associated sleep). We need to shift gears in order to have well being. We cannot be happy or relaxed with two much beta and we cannot be motivated and fulfilled without these periods of intense medium high frequency beta waves.

Another analogy is to look again at the modern computer: it has in fact several layers of operating system- the hard cored logic on the chip, like the physical, biochemical and neurological structures in the brain, then the binary commands recognised by these hard circutis and operating them in to different parameters and tasks, on top of this again, then the machine code software feeding into this and then the assembly language or higher programmer language being compiled to the lower level software, and on top of this then the operating system like Windows tm. That is what you just need to turn on and be able to start to think about carrying out a meaningful function. 

 Unlike the brain though, computers have a maximum Hz for logic gate calculations while all activities relating to functioning can be considered directly related to demand if not actually linear in relation to programmes running. Unlike the brain then, computers dont need to work in waves above the required or available hertz capacity. The limiting factor is also heat. Perhaps computers would benefit from working in more controlled -ccyclic ways, and perhaps they do now!

Finally to bring in another set of ideas based on the computer " onion skins" of layers of operating systems for actually getting stuff donw:  In the brain wave system we have by in large only measured EEG from outside the brain and this tends not to detect deeper sources of signals or the gamma wave activity when it is sublimated from recordings by the higher amplitude waves from the cortex. Perhaps there is another meta system which uses gamma waves to disseminate learning experiences  for example ? Or do the low amplitude, yet intense gamma wave activity stimulate higher activities, awaking them or signaling the need for gear shift from sleep to beta ? Perhaps the longer waves carry more fundamental calculations or summations rather than serving merely a heat and biochemistry care-taker function, and wash forward the summations of the more hectic activity through different neural pathways or by being a meta signal within the current pathways, thus exploiting more from the system being carried like an FM signal ? 

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Time Travel In Your Own Life Time

Aldous Huxley once said that to travel is to discover that everyone is wrong. Travelling in your own life you often find out that you were always wrong despite it feeling so right at the time. That is experience, to metaphrase the saying that it is the quality you acquire at the exact moment AFTER  you most needed it: you could always do better with hindsight, you are always chasing your own tail, always something you aspire to but never achieve; experience leads to achievement once those experiences are beyond those of the average person.

In truth experience never really prepares you for the unexpected, nor does it prepare you for all the different type of people and counter-motivations you will endure and interact with in life. What experience does instantly equip you with is to handle that very situation you have gone through in a new, informed way. Encompassed by this then are all the related subordinate possibilities: the less challenging situations relating to  the experience should be covered by the learning.

To make some conclusion then: mediocre experiences which expose you to little risk and excitement engender you with mediocre capacity to be successful in life. Have rich experiences, seek out the new, push your boundaries, face your fears and in so doing be more fulfilled in life.....

Thursday, 15 November 2012

The Imporance of Being Ernestly Dishonest

"The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made." Groucho Marx

It seems with the sub prime bubble and a general mantra in banking, politics and tax accounting in particular makes this joker's words ring true.

We live in a period where George Orwell would recognise the double-think. People find some truth, like creative services can be exported, or a go between company can make margin on a commodity, and then they go and apply it in a double-think lie to themselves and everyone else- the marketing budget for starbucks suddenly becomes a cost transfer, exporting profits.

The sub prime is the same: this is crap, but wonderful stuffing crap where everyone wins because we all believe in this stuffing crap. The same with some chinese companies, the material certificates and quality control internally are not worth the paper and breath used to make them.

Given the loss of real return from real companies, the banking sector had turned to a house of cards of lies upon lies, surrounded by mischieve and wrapped in subterfuge.

I think with the win of Barack Obama and the turning of several economies, then there can be hope again that the world can turn its face away from lie-to-win and bring back in standards and strong governance.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Starbucks Vanishing Gross Margin ...Explained Away ?

Starbucks and Amazon amongst others have found what seems to be legal loopholes in how to organise their European taxes and flow margin out of countries they operate in.

They had a rather clumsy back door PR, one of those new breed of rottweiler public lobby firms who pruport to be independent and expert, comaring their brand offering to a film bought from Hollywood.

However there seems to be a business principle to be established here, because it gives multinational firms a wholly unfair competitive advantage with national and local level firms.

The analogy to a hollywood film falls down in several ways: firstly the main value addition to a film is conducted in the greate LA area. A coffee shop adds most value by product and location. Brand, including "atmosphere" is not what is the main value addition but it does allow the firm to maintain a consistent image across outlets and of course to invest in something which is both pleasing to their target consumers and cost effectiveIn contrast, the delivery location of the film is not the essential value creation- usually an anonymous big steel shed on the outskirts of town.

Secondly to some extent at least, a film or a patented product for that matter, is not tied to it's own verticle delivery chain. Therefore there is an element of disconnection making the sale and purchase chain tax transparent and as a market, it should therefore work to benefit the end user in a trade off between the higher value created elsewhere and how it is delivered. The marketing and branding of product and location are to the largest extent separated.

Not only do starbucks and other companies treat their marketing costs as a saleable "royalty" to the most tax effective land, but also they sell themselves their own raw materials at a higher price than the open market: Starbucks from Switzerla. In these two ways they shift a lot of gross margin around on paper while still actually adding the most value at the point of sale, and accordingly the highest income at point of sale.

Amazon use Ireland due to the low tax, while their sellers create "export and import" deals in other countries for sellers and buyers.

So these are the issues being debated in the UK parliaments select committee and no doubt in Whitehall and Brussels.  But with the vote in the USA away from oligarchical power, where corporates and the super rich can make policy and influence it's interpretation and implementation, the public and even the Conservative governments in EU lands smell blood and will not have US corporates shuffling paper money around while national and even cross EU firms cannot compete and expand strategically because of their honest approach to reporting margin and paying taz on profits.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Greece: Demos, Kratos, and the Misadventures of the Keiser and Adolf Hitler

Currently we have yet another democratically elected German Chancellor imposing their will on poorer countries. Angela Merkel follows in the shoes of Adolf Hitler in imposing poverty upon other countries, in particular Greece.

Here there are two lessons to be learnt from History, but over all it is ironic that this comes from the leadership of  a country  which made such huge political mistakes in the 1930s and which did not repay WWII reparations in any shade of proportionality to the dammage they caused.

The first lesson for Merkel is here: In fact western germany received rationed food and industrial expertise which restarted many of the great industries we know today, VW, BMW, Siemens, and pushed them to their higher successes in peaceful times. A country which had made huge political mistakes was helped out from a base of destruction across Europe. Also the entire recovery in Europe was based on what is now termed as "outdated socialist" intervention, planning, protectionism and subsidisation- Keynsian economics is proven to work in times of economic crises.

The next lesson dates back to WWI and the other-side of the coin: then Germany was forced to pay huge reparations which lead to a negative spiral in the economy and the rise of extremism. Extremism in Europe can be catalysed from small and even democratically elected sources, and align itself as a pact.
It is fundamentally hypocritical and against the lessons of history in forcing Greece into high interest loans to cover a risk which is due to the anarchy and willful lawlessness in global banking while partly due to political mistakes and corruption, allowed to continue by international banking authorities in the good times.

Instead of national socialism being the dogma applied to control of a federal Europe by a different democratically elected chancellor, it is the new belief in the market to solve all our problems and a pandering to worship the banking infrastructure which has delivered oligarchy through the mechanisms of anarchy- the free market with too much freedom. The same as the Nazi party with a mandate to rule. Dangerous dogmatic approaches to a Federalised europe.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Quaternary Economies ....The BS West

We in the UK and US, have now long since passed being a predominantly tertiary economy. A large proportion of many western economies have drifted into being quaternary economies.

What do I mean? Quaternary? "Tertiary is as far as you can go" right? No, we have passed basing our economic principle on services and intellectual property to being an economy based on a different set of principles than what is still hard, honest work you find in services and IPR. We now base much of our value creation on belief, opportunism and misrepresentation.

In other words we all bull shit each other about value in order to create and maintain value. The sub prime was a symptom of this, not the cause of the sickness. But like in leprosy, the disease eats slowly at your nervous system but you die from the infections to the injuries you do don't pay attention to. That is what the banking crash has been about.

Republicans in the USA accuse Obama of being a Socialist, while it is they themselves who have placed their bets on non democratic communist commanded economics. From production of iPads to maintaining oil over $100 usd / barrel, the owners of US big business have been dancing with their devil for two decades: State ownership, state intervention, protectionism, price-maintainance, imperialism, anti-western-sentiment, five-year-plans.

The Chinese have surpassed just making stuff to western design and quality commands. They now lead for example in Windows oriented PC and laptops. In fact we sent a paradoxial trojan horse into China with all  our technologies thinking they were just automatons, forgetting this was a nation which still sneaks around after our Trident submarines. Now they have a fifth of many technology markets, soon to be a quarter. Now they "own" low cost, high qaulity production, they can call the tune for the whole global market in making a product for Eastern Asia.

Like I say on some tech' gadget forums when US and EU citizens bemoan the stupidity of some flippant features, or loss of well loved widgets: " it is not just our production companies who are leaving behind now, it is our suppliers as well"

Friday, 9 November 2012

Socialism - a reserve of the Rich in the USA

The biggie whopper the republicans can't avoid is that there has been socialism for the rich in the USA for many years: defence, space, private health bankrolled by public sector employees, making south Iraq part of Texas and then bailing the casino out after sub prime turned out to be a bit of a fib. Also a good deal of protectionism.

And all the time apart from the minumum wage jobs Mitt Romney rationalised when he was less of a nut, Republicans are more than happy to support resellers of Chinese products with helping their corporate taxes out to a global 2 %.

China was also voting this week, u8nlike the USA, it was party delegates weilding votes which are probably decided like super PAC blocks. All with the  the hammer and sickle flying high over "command capitalism" and variouos economic activities which have little to do with the western academic view of what free markets are about.

If they and their billionaire backers had used the 3 to 5 Bn usd on giving every black voter $200 - a rough equivalent spend - then they may have got further.         

Is Obama a Radical Leftist ?

Well ask this too, is the British or Norwegian Labour Party a fundamentalist capatilist organisation?

It is the same type of accusation.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Economy Stoophid?

I don't think Obama won on the economy but certainly a few positive figures vindicated the stimulus package advocated and negotiated by him and his team. The double cliff fall lies ahead which a Romney win would have secured and probably enlarged.

However, to paraphrase a native American tribal saying, an economist is a person who travels through life facing backwards, with history completely visible back to a far ago horizon. They are though blind to the future, with their eyes facing the wrong way.  To the tribe, this was the only truth, the past. You used your experience not to predict the future, but to react in an educated way to it.

Sure there are pundits who saw the 2007-8 crash, sure some saw the stimulus package working, and others in the EU see austerity as the only cure. Well some of them have been right and some of them are going to be right, but excluding a catastrophe like an asteroid strike, we know that things can only go so low as a notionable liquidatable value, or actually as low as the government then really does take over a free-fall economy. On the other hand, we know that over valuation is likely not to be as extreme as in the late "naughties" and public spending and lending will be pegged back for many years to come if not a new golden rule is struck now in GDP to spend to borrowing ratios.

I see that what we have infront of us now as being like the philosophical oxymoron: when the unstoppable force meets the imovable object, the force stops and the object moves. The "house" is going to move and Obama-ism is going to be tethered back: in other words, the double cliff fall is going to be attenuated and a combination of say pay roll ( employer's national insurance) relief, training relief and other tax breaks on investment in productivity will go ahead. Also Afganistan will be racked down and several near redundant defence technologies will be either mothballed pending retirement or sent for scrap, with their support crews being demobilised from the military.

Taking the Huff....Even the Right media Say it Was Obvious.

Even Huffington Say Romney was an Obvious Fail

Imagine being a billionaire waking up today and knowing the Democratic party had out smarted your dumb dollars?


Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Socialism for America Now? Methinks not

Several prominent republicans and internet organs, state that Obama leadership is an ism, and that Obamaism =socialism.

Firstly you have to point to the hypocrisy of this because so much of the US economy has been dependent on China, a post communist, quasi command economy. Apple are the largest listed valued company in the world now, and this is based on production in China and brains in the USA.

Furthermore it is not just the consumer industries which are on the breast of mother China:  100 USD plus per barrel crude oil is a phenomenon of the demand in China. Otherwise deep sea in the Gulf, oil shale/sand extraction, and oil well rejuvination would not be economic at perhaps 80 USD and certainly 50 USD.

Also the US in the term of the last two Presidents has seen the two largest catastophic storms hitting major metropolitan centres, which basically require cross state, federal intervention and planning for the future. This includes a realistic evaluation of the scenarios, conservative as they probably are now, for global warming and how the US can lead and benefit from reduced carbon emission technologies and life styles. Wall Street has finally had a taste of climate change on its doorstep quite literally.

Further hipocrisy comes from the bail out plan, basically state intervention and a socialist related policy dating back to the 1930 great depression. Yes there are some free market fundamentalists who say "let them fail" but they would have been rounded up and shot by all the other free market fundamentalists who knew knew the irony was that to uphold the free market as they know it, it needed saving from its own blindness. Post great depression there was the war, and that was the biggest and most successful exercise in state planning for the US and indeed the UK. In the latter it lead to the labour landslide and a slow economic recovery, while in the US it lead to the implementation of new technologies and a consumer revolution.

So trying to stick a clumsy, big old label on things can end with you getting it stuck on your own fingers when you first peel it off.


Personally I do not see the US moving to anything like a socialist state, while I do see the state being more of a referee in the organisation of  some provision such as more of the parallel primary health care provision, environment and transport and of course education.

America is the largest entrepreneurial state in the world, but it also has the largest education and research national budget in the world. It is a mix of the spirit of succeeding if you work, and also government that wants to succeed in implementation of programmes. The Tea Party and even now the soft end of the republican party seem to have lost touch with the level of comfortableness the voters have with government which achieves things for them;: despite congress (ie the house) being able to frustrate and fillibuster ANY movement of government to be able to plan and implement. The nation has voted, the nation has moved, the socio-demographics are starting to stack up against the republicans and voters DO remember that it was the rich banking elite and their white russians who caused the economic catastrophe and not the Democratic Party.  More poison is not the cure.

Government in the US is very aware and in touch with the entrepreneur but for too long now it has been influenced by hidden corporate interests which are actually quite detached from the general economic well being of say, Ohio.

Further into the new soul of america, both aspirational and liberal in attitudes, I see that the hispanic communities are going to be the new "hand worker man-soccer mum-lawyer and doctor offspring" ie both being entrepreneurial and hard working while also benefiting from greater access to education. ( whether current day doctors and lawyers are a net benefit to the US economy is probably debateable, i should have said engineer).

 The battle grounds have for Romney been about preaching to the converted who are a declining socio-demographic. What good are tax cuts and spending cuts to bankrupted small business people?  Successful gay and open minded people are turned off by the Tea Party. "yeah all the perverts and the niggas voted for Obama" I saw a tweet earlier. Well if that is the swing vote then it doesnt pay to be a white, socially backwards looking orginisation.

Romney has show a huge amount of grace in losing this campaign, and he is really intelligent economically expert guy: however he has been "shifty" on things like health care and the whole 47% debacle showed his economic side rather than an actual cynicism as it was easy to interpret. Obama has already seen that Romney should be the leader figure in the forthcoming negotiations, and in fact he should probably be on the board of consultants to the president and congress. Romneycare is by no means a million miles away from Obamacare, really Obama care has quite a few veryprofit  handcuffing clauses which do not please the immense health corporate lobby.

I actually see Romney and other right-ist adivsors being able to help Obama balance the books, and to accept various compromises;: defence cuts, obama-esque care, some tax rises for the rich and the higher earning waged middle classes, some environmental taxes, cut backs in some road infrastructure, and on the other hand stimulation for business and long term investment- what they want

Also on this subject of what they want, business now will be able to see that the socio demographic is shifted and the Tea Party are not the new, future america, but an echo of a 1950s Hampton's and Country Club past. Social conservatives are in dramatic decline as voters, and the race card is now a whole hand being played on the table. So business thinks with it's wallet, not with a sunday morning at church heart, and will come to have to understand how to tame the democratic party and engage in change in society away from the older values. Like in the EU, business has to understand the benefits of more public provision in the economy when it relates to more than infrastructural planning and back door, dressed up subsidies.

America is probably the most entrepreneurial and aspirational society in the world, but it has also the largest liberal population in the world.  For the Republicans and corporates, they had better wake up tommorrow once the hang over is gone, and have a long hard think about that.

Gracious Vanquished, Lets Hope the House of Republicans are Also

In the latter stages of the USA presidential campaign, I must say that Mitt Romney showed his intellect and fairness and in eventually his suprising loss, he was magnificantly gracious and
gave a speech which raised him in my eyes to be of presidential calibre, just not this time Mitt.

One thing I do like about him is his committment to freedom, however those people who do not have access to decent healthcare do not share the freedoms of the super rich elite in the USA.

Big Government or Big Corporate Big Morals

Today the USA has taken the second step away from big, intrusive, obstructive and opportunistic involvement of corporates in private life, and as a force which thinks it can buy out all democratic vehicles.

Government will now inch forward towards helping initiate and regulate health care for millions of Americans, currently reliant on the fortuities of public and charity health care. Provision will however be largely private, with opportunities for more "social enterprises" and mutual insurance / health companies, owned by private capital, the employees and mutually by the cusomter.

So what if the USA moves towards a model like Canada for this and is it not good that veterans who lost limbs, comrades in arms and some their minds, get government support after they are retired out the forces?

Does this dampen the entrepreneurial spirit or the will of the enourmously wealthy to invest on Wall Street ? Are 45 million private health beneficiaries suddenly locked in cells or waiting years for operations ?

The vision of trickle down and pandering ever more to the rich, and allowing coporates to influence every day life more intrusively, as embodified in Mitt Romney has been rejected by the USA.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012


If public-private organisation of health care, government money for injured veterans and stimulus investment is communism, then call me Lenin. It is not and now the "house" has to bend with the wind.

Romney may have been able to persuade some "swingers" but when he was caught on camera " we don't care about that 47%" then that sealed the black vote and probably a lot of the public sector worker vote for Obama.

What has the New Left left to Do?

What is there again now for the new left which is left for them to do?

Well the days of trying to tax the rich are pretty much over: in the UK and the USA they have bought enough of congress, senate and the U/L houses to be able to sway governance away from grabbing much if any money from them. Apple and Starbucks have become fully tax efficient- sorry evasive effective.

The left should as I have said before address two areas: family values and infrastructural planning and investment.

Family values, by legistlating for choice and fairness at work centred around quality of life with the family and extended family, and local community as we get our heads out of the ass of economic dreaming and debt slavery. Family values by providing health and education which is adequate if not with frills and certainly not  without rationing.

Infrastructural planning meets family in providing housing: 20 Bn a year on housing benefit would be better spent on building housing assocition and local authority social housing rather than subsidising Rachmans.

Also in education, planning once again schools with life times of 30 years which meet the digital age and the age of getting out of the arm chair. Specialist provision for  sports, special needs and gifted children in both cities and at school and class room level. Rewarding performance in school with streaming and high acheiver routes internally.

When I went to a large comprehensive, there was not a mediocre performance dragged down to the lowest common denominator.  My year and the years around all outperformed the private school average in terms of % university entrance.  Mediocrity only came due to the Thatcher and Major cut backs and dissaffection of teachers with the ironically "large government" beaurocracy emposed by them on schools. On the other side, far left socialists wanted to remove streaming and exclusion from intimidating subjects for the less able to focus on the three Rs and PE, seen then as a right wing approach.

Transport is the other big area, where we should both be pragmatic: that is in pandering neither to business and sprawling industrial parks, nor to the environmental lobby completely. Making public transport and electric cars an attractive option.

The thing to avoid is the wrath of the oligarchs, but also the seeping of everything to slavery and delivery of public money to them.

So this is what is left: a line in the sand to stop the errosion of a meritocracy over a bourgiose qausi oligarchy.

The New Left's Liberal Economic Strategy!

Well that title seems like a contradiction in terms: how the new left should embrace liberal economics ? Well it already has, it is just that there has to be a further realigment of attitudes to social policy in respect of the economy: who benefits and who pays ?

As I have said before, the new, newer left have to stop punititive taxation. What they should be doing however is firmly moving the taxation burden up the scale while at the same time, winning over more affluent middle class voters.

Currently the Conservative have levelled a high tax burden on the poorest in society by raising VAT. This is a perverted-robin-hood trick Thatcher also played: we seem to have  more money in our paypacket, but it is taken back from those who can least afford it. The wealthy and the corporates seem to not only be able to pay ever less a proportion of their income and capital in tax, while actually attracting more back door subsidies in the aftermouth of the "failed sub prime casino"  front door bail outs. Now there is talk of growth stimulation, which just a couple of years ago would be medling, nanny state keynsian economics.

Back to Liberalisation;: Firstly, once again aim to reduce burden on employers for social costs and rather than subsidising slavery ( "envelope opening apprentices" this week) with grants, they should reward investment in people and training on a level playing field, such that it becomes the business standard rather than the exception, to take the risk to train people balanced by the attractiveness of tax rewards. Secondly they should infact raise the limit for higher rates of tax: this will attract high wage, middle class employee voters and engage them more with qaulity-of-life politics of the left. Also it injects money at the right level of liberal trickle down: much of this money is actually public, as these are doctors, civil servants, and lawyers (bank rolled often on legal aid) and it will inject it back into local economies. These are the section most likely to invest in home improvements for example.

Why stop there, why not say carry on from a top rate applied at 60K pounds ? ( what I am suggesting to reward many of the top performers in public and private administration and "technical delivery")  Why not do what they do in eastern europe, 25% flat? Well the super rich are an international bunch and trickle down is as much trickle out. Effectively they never pay top rate anyway, so there should be other tax efficient mechanisms to recirculate their money in the real, national and local scale economy.

On an important point, really what new labour tried in part, leave business alone - by in large. Pick your battles while otherwise charming them with strict budgets in line with GDP and debt leverage targets. The battles to pick are then with the overly inflationary former utilities, who are reigned in over the majority of europe to being chained tigers rather than the uncaged sharks of the UK. Competition and some level of efficiency and quality of management, tethered to below inflation price rises, more social pricing and directly comparable tariffs.

The Soul of Europe...

The soul of the UK has been under an apparent change, but this is actually a lot of smoke and mirrors: the far right oligarchical conservative movement have temporarily hijacked the agenda of the media. Don't trust the media, and the inevitability of the message that the Uk will drift inevitably to more and more control by big business and the bourgoiese.

The soul of many european countries is that we trust government to deliver and we don't trust privatised services to do any more than rip us off if not restrained by good governance. We trust government with health and education: there are inefficiencies, but when you look at high inflation in many privatised monopolies and services like electricity, rail travel, water, gas then it makes many of us wonder why we went down the private root.

This type of inflation is of course a heavy form of hidden taxation, which burdens below average income families most : they do not qualify for capping while as a proportion of income energy and travel are higher, while their disposable incomes do not increase at the rate if inflation that these privatised utilities present.

There is inherent inefficiency in constructing and maintaining a somewhat artificial market for a commodity which favours the computer literate. There is the cost of marketing and the cost of administrating customers over to new systems. Then there is the cost of interest based on smaller more diffuse loans negotiated on a regional, or at least divided basis and not national basis often. Lastly there is the demands for dividends to the stock markets, which is short sighted of course. Coupled to this there is the inefficiencies of several beaurocracies reporting financially, and the hidden organisational strain of providing dividends in years when money would be better used internally to the company, on training staff for example, or directly upon making infrastructure more efficient in delivering power.

The UK, especially England, stands at a turning point where it may slip from being a social democracy where state once provided a perfectly adequate level of education, transport and health care, into being far more like an american state where the class divide is cemented for ever. Education and health may start to slip into being a second class public provision with entry to tertiary education becoming more exclusive (partly i believe it should be, but based on merit and not coming from an affluent family). This is a status that the bourgoiese and the rich are very happy about: they want to be able to lock society into unfullfilable aspirations ( as in the "american dream" ) by removal of the earlier and as I remember, fully adequate comprehensive provision.

What I have seen in my life time in England in particular, is the rise of the bourgoise as the new middle class, and the decline of the adminstrative middle class to being the new working class. For the first time, a significant section of society will start to live a lower material standard of living than their parents, and this is university graduate level. They will live in smaller, more expensive houses, spend more time at work and have less discretionary income and holiday entitltement. They have less job security, less rights in the work place and lower pay rises than their parents enjoyed.

Basically the rich pay very handsomely for the message to be controlled and dominant that "business rules, government is inately inefficient and largely incapable". BBC world news on the TV went more and more business oriented- the importance of international business, and okay maybe their audience is a lot of business travellers and foriegn business men. This has however crept over into Radio 4 which seems to have far more of its agenda taken up with how important business is to our daily lives. How much we should worship and feed business, even when it does go to the casino and loose and need socialist bail outs.

Fighting for the Soul of America ?

What is the nature of America? Is this presidential election really a fight between vastly opposing values?

The presidential candidates seem to represent the two side: the college scholarship, self made, lean tall man of mixed race and a broken home. On the other side , born  super priviledged while it must be said, successful in his own right, from a family whose history represents flight from governance, the shiney smiling hamptons socialite and city slicker.

Barack Obama represents a move towards the USA becoming a social democracy, but just ever so slighty. His health insurance plans, once endorsed by many republicans before they picked up the hate-of-ObamaCare as a drum, keep provision largely private while perhaps introducing a deal of rationing. In effect what happens in the charity sector. And also spreads the payments: private health care in the US is economically floated by state employee contributions. In effect, like car insurance, it gives more people access to less health care per head, while also injecting a huge amount of money into that sector. From us in the "other" west, Canada, Europe, Australia, with our national insurance ( and in the picture part private plans the wealthier can afford, and the private supply to our public side), the fact that less than 20% of the USA's population have access to the type of services we take for granted and pay maybe 5% tax for, seems alien and unfair.

On education too, we still enjoy a high degree of social mobility, although this is very much under threat from the far right control in many lands now. I couldnt think of anything worse than my children having to go through the american system watching the over-priviledged swan around while they worked fast food and late night customer service to pay their way through an education compromised by lack of time to study.

But is the USA too inextricably linked to it's history and the type of chance taking, hard working optimists who took the boat there in the 19th C and before?  Well as Tom Wolfe puts it as a republican voter, you are as well to vote Romney to try and at least slow the train of inevitable governance and federalisation.

With rights to vote and a somewhat partisan race card being played, it is somewhat inevitable that capitalist countries which are democracies, drift towards social democracy because the ordinary, average person and the dispossessed can vote and capitalism inevitably makes their lives poorer by moving value up into capital. The borgiouse do well on republicans, and the super rich do well. Everyone else has the dream but for many their dream is to work in public service and qualify for private health care.

What the UK Tax Payers Alliance Should really focus on

The UK tax payers alliance, a "non partisan" body with links to the daily mail and other right wing establishment bodies, have sighted the investment the UK makes in industrial relations as being money wasted which should be funded purely by trade union subscriptions. The tax payer must bend over backwards to fork out £113 M per annum, which is actually less than the budget for the administration of the tender process for rail franchises over the last three years. Of course under the Tories, workers rights are  worthless in the face of the god of "wealth creation at all costs".

However the UK Tax payers alliance like to only mention the £17-19 Bn  Housing Benefit bill in terms of "beenfit cheats" and not actually the real cheats who are the private property owners receiving an index linked income. Basically skewing the entire property market and writing a blank cheque of subsidy to do so.

A common thread through out their web site is that they AVOID anything which is to do with public money being missused in the Private sector, and they have deleted many entries with "trident" which is proposed not for early withdrawal as a strategic white elephant, but in fact for like-for-like replacement at a cost over 100 billion. It deters North Korea and keeps the UKs (not very) independent ICBM flag waving for old duffers from a past-sell-by-date "great" Britain.

I think they should spend more time on housing benefit and the possibility of LIMITING what is payed (far from Russian Roulette) to private and public landlords, the waste of money Trident is and a new ICBM system will be, poor value for money in the "apprenticeships" schemes( fast becoming the YOPpers scheme for cheap subsidised low quality labour) and the PFI value for money

We should pay high interest rates to private industry for "efficiencies" over direct public funding and capital ownership, while this on their very partisan web site is glossed over in favour for comparing the GDP / Interest payments of the UK, a tertiary economy, with the two primary resource fuelled economies of Austrailia and Canada.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Growth? But Not-In-My-Back-Yard in dear England ??

Now the Uk government has come up with a rather good little wheeze for stimulating or rather you could say untapping a latent source of growth: big government takes over from stodgey local interests in planning persmission.

This is aimed largely at greenfield sites, while mysteriously at industry and social housing, which would seem to be what would really get the Shires of Tory voting NIMBY's up in arms. However, with a bung here and a PR campaign there, luxury estates for the decanted semi wealthy will start to pop up amongst the cowslips and daffodils, along with health spas and holiday activity centres no doubt.

Brown field sites are abundant, but can be more expensive to redevelope and are often in industrial lepper colonies, cut off from modern infrastructure or rather many are encircled by it. Basically, they dont have village pubs and they dont move more tory voters into the shire, they move more labour votes into the  city constituencies they are often on the periphery of.