Wednesday, September 29, 2010
No, not Gordon Brown but there's time yet as he is not only culpable but could be argued to be one of the masterminds of the financial crisis. Little Iceland, according to today's Huffington Post, is showing the way ahead for democracy:
Geir Haarde, Iceland Ex-PM, Indicted For Role In Financial Crisis
And just so to make Mervyn King sweat, Iceland's central bank chief has been heavily criticised in the commissions report which has lead to the 'indictment' of the ex-PM:
Pall Hreinsson, the supreme court judge appointed to head the Special Investigation Commission that issued the report, singled out seven former officials including Haarde and central bank chief David Oddsson for particular criticism.
The islanders have stood up to the international banking cartel that want the citizens of the islands to pay for the fraud of private bankers. Don't want the Icelanders repudiating the debts and making the banks responisble - that might set an ugly precendent! The banks in Iceland were encouraged by the CIty and Wall St. to partake in derivatives fraud. When it all went wrong British and Dutch banks who were owed money by Iceland's banks wanted to hang the debts around the necks of citizens. Unlike Britain, Ireland and others who accepted the bankers' debts meekly as though having their wealth stolen was neither here nor there.
Icelanders want to see the extradition of former chief bankers to Iceland but last I heard the most wanted was in Britain, living it up, courtesy of Gordon Brown's protection. I think we are starting to see why Brown preferred to see the Icelanders take the wrap instead of the bankers.
A driver of a cement mixer drove his vehicle into the entrance of the Irish parliament - Dail Eireann - blocking the way in. To stop police accessing his cabin the driver welded his doors shut and covered his windows with grills. The driver was protesting at Ireland's parliament discussing bailout legislation and that day the trade-unions were planning to march on the gates. Read the article by ABC News here.
Here it is nicely explained in a video excerpt by DANNY SCHECHTER, the rich man's Michael Moore!
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Rediscovering Oil – A From Rags to Riches Story
by Alex Porter
Part 3(of 3): Scotland On The Map
The bankruptcy of the British state and financial sector means Scottish unionism must explain to the Scottish electorate how the British economy offers them an attractive future. That is not how unionists and their friends in the Scottish media will want the debate to be framed and they will push back. What will keep them on the defensive though is a Scottish electorate which has come to accept implicitly just how prosperous oil would make an independent Scotland. How is that going to pan out then?
What does realise the nationalists’ wildest dreams is not the story of how oil can enrich Scotland or has enriched Britain. We know how that story can be made to go away. No, it is the rapidly emerging international story of how falling oil production is threatening international security that will alter the Scottish electorate’s perceptions of the possibilities that oil offers.
Global oil supply is starting to decline. As we have seen, oil is central to every economy’s ability to grow. The fact that the world has exceeded the top limit for oil extraction is deeply concerning all nations and the subject of ‘peak oil’ is now rapidly ascending the global political agenda.
As a serious, oil producing player then Scotland will suddenly find new friends and ‘peak oil’ will be a regular headline in international news stories. Where international conferences now convene to discuss ‘global warming’, ‘the financial crisis’ or ‘climate change,’ soon ‘peak oil’ will become the big story.
For Scottish unionism, ‘peak oil’ becoming the top story of the international economy is a nightmare. For years they’ve hidden the importance of oil from political sight only to then find that the international media will be ramming it down our throats. The Scottish electorate who were told oil was of marginal import will suddenly realise that oil is not just vital to the Scottish and British economies. No, it’s far more important than that. The subject of declining oil supplies is being globally recognised as the number one priority for the stable functioning and security of the entire, industrial world. Scots will be right in the picture.
Let’s get down to what ‘peak oil’ means then. Peak oil can be defined as a date when oil production reaches maximum production after which production rates begin to diminish. In 2005, oil production stood at 68.5 million barrels per day, in 2005 it was 73.7 million and so far this year daily production stands at 73.4 million barrels per day. In other words, we have reached and perhaps passed ‘peak oil’.
Why is oil so important?
Oil is used in industrial society in a multitude of ways including transport fuel, fuel for industrial machinery, heating fuel, fuel for minerals extraction, lubricants, raw materials, asphalt for road paving, plastics, synthetic cloth, medicines, fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides and so on. When oil runs out many products cease to be made, you can’t have nuclear-powered nylon socks – oil is not replaceable. Peak oil then means less of everything – a lot less.
So, now we know where we are and what oil is used for, what will the effects of ‘peak oil’ be on the industrial world?
Let’s go back to the relationship between oil and money. In industrial society, money provides the incentive to work. Oil provides the ability to get work done or products made. So, when oil runs out money becomes worthless. It is estimated that when an economy has to spend 6% of its GDP on oil, the nation’s economy starts to decline. As populations and demand increase, depleted resources go up in price. Demand then drops off as it becomes too expensive. Oil affects around 95% of the price of everything we buy. Consequently, economic growth will decline. As oil and finance are connected, we will run out of money to buy oil long before oil runs out.
Peak oil then really does change the world and dramatically so. One expert in the field, Dimitro Orlov, explains it well:
“Efficiency, conservation, renewable sources of energy all might have some effect, but will not materially alter this relationship. Less oil means smaller global economy. No oil means a vanishingly small global economy not worthy of the name.” (1)
The good news is that as industrial society declines so too does our energy consumption. With a reduced economy, we have significantly fewer energy requirements. This will puzzle governments, civil servants, investors and analysts who are basing future calculations of energy needs on rising instead of falling demand. It’s only a matter of time before the alarm bells start ringing.
So, when does ‘peak oil’ burst into political life? ..... It already has!
Last week, the German newspaper Der Spiegel published an article based on a leaked report on ‘peak oil’ by the German military. Of the report, Der Spiegel’s Stefan Schultz said:
The issue is so politically explosive that it’s remarkable when an institution like the Bundeswehr, the German military, uses the term "peak oil" at all.
The article summarises and refers to the key points of the German military report and it makes for some interesting reading. In terms of the global impact of ‘peak oil’, it has much to say:
The team of authors, led by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Will, uses sometimes-dramatic language to depict the consequences of an irreversible depletion of raw materials. It warns of shifts in the global balance of power, of the formation of new relationships based on interdependency, of a decline in importance of the western industrial nations, of the “total collapse of the markets” and of serious political and economic crises.
So, how does the report directly impact on Scotland? One section of the report argues:
‘Increasing importance of oil exporters’: For importers of oil, more competition for resources will mean an increase in the number of nations competing for favour with oil-producing nations. For the latter this opens up a window of opportunity which can be used to implement political, economic or ideological aims. [my bold] As this window of time will only be open for a limited period, “this could result in a more aggressive assertion of national interests on the part of the oil-producing nations.”
For Scotland then this development opens up new avenues for national, self-determination. The Scottish electorate, in the digital age, will not be ignorant of this new international paradigm shift. At the same time the British state will not be ignorant of the threat that Scottish nationalism is to its prestige in the world’s corridors of power.
As for Scottish unionism, this development totally contradicts their core message that an independent Scotland would suffer isolation and a loss of influence in key international institutions like the UN, EU, NATO and many more. As ‘peak oil’ reshuffles the pack, nationalists will argue, with increasing plausibility, that post-independence it is the remainder of the UK which will lose influence not Scotland.
Der Spiegel’s summary goes on and presents a clear vision of why oil producing countries will be so crucial to international security:
‘Market failures’: The authors paint a bleak picture of the consequences resulting from a shortage of petroleum. As the transportation of goods depends on crude oil, international trade could be subject to colossal tax hikes. "Shortages in the supply of vital goods could arise" as a result, for example in food supplies. Oil is used directly or indirectly in the production of 95 percent of all industrial goods. Price shocks could therefore be seen in almost any industry and throughout all stages of the industrial supply chain. "In the medium term the global economic system and every market-oriented national economy would collapse."
The evidence is all around. This week Britain’s energy secretary Chris Huhne ordered civil servants to urgently examine the impact of a doubling of the price of a barrel of oil. The Telegraph reports: “A 1970s-style doubling in the price of oil would drain £45 billion from the UK economy in two years, hitting investment and jobs.”
Let’s just say that ‘peak oil’ is not going to be a story that Scottish unionism can bury. The story, like oil, will be all pervasive and will be telepathically transmitted to the Scottish electorate. The viability of an independent Scotland will be beyond question.
A Union in Crisis
The thrust of Scottish unionism’s case has always been that Scotland can not afford to be independent. Its strategies have halted the march to Scottish statehood and sapped Scottish aspiration and self-worth dry. ‘Peak oil’ will soon dramatically change all that. Suddenly, Scottish unionism will look desperate and become increasingly discredited.
It will come out fighting. Scots ‘keeping the oil for themselves’ will be labelled ‘selfish’ but how can a nation of subsidy junkies be stigmatised as affluent and uncaring? And how can a Scotland, long told it is too poor to be independent then be asked to share wealth out of solidarity? Ironically, unionism will be hoist on its own petard.
For the SNP then the priority is simple: The Scottish Government must move the issue of ‘Peak Oil’ up the political agenda as soon as possible. It would, after all, be responsible governance to do so. To achieve this task though calls for a leader who is an effective political operator and with a sound grasp of the economics of oil. History could not have been kinder in delivering, former oil economist, Alex Salmond as the leader of the SNP.
So, ‘peak oil’ puts the question of the economic viability of Scottish independence well beyond doubt. Simultaneously, Scottish unionism has been given the unenviable task of having to prove the benefits of remaining inside a bankrupt union state. It would seem that the economic stars are aligning for the historic cause of Scottish independence.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Peak oil is a vital issue for international security. As an oil producer Scotland should be having a national debate about what it means for Scotland and about our relationship to the rest of the world in relation to it. If you are interested and want answers to questions on 'peak oil' please email me. At the bottom right of this page you'll find my email details.
We can start an awareness campaign to find out how our London and Edinburgh governments are preparing for it, if at all.
To read about the implications of 'peak oil', I advise reading this recent article by German newspaper Der Spiegel.
For some expert explanation I advise reading this article by Dmitri Orlov.
To research the area an website about oil issues in general (lot's of stuff on peak) to visit is: The Oil Drum. A lot of industry experts post and comment on this website.
Some video information:
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Rediscovering Oil - A From Rags to Riches Story
Part 2(of 3): Stop Scotland – Britain wants to get on!
The UK government colluded with Scottish unionism on the matter. Why? Because oil could not only make an independent Scotland very prosperous – but it could do the same for Britain as well, and it has. Yet, what former Prime Minister James Callaghan called “God’s gift”, North Sea oil received almost no examination from British economic commentators.
Last November there was an excellent article on the subject by The Telegraph’s Edmund Conway:
What was the industry that powered Britain towards prosperity in the 1980s, and made us one of the most dynamic and successful nations in the Western world?
…If your first reaction was “the City”, think again. The answer is North Sea oil.
…One of the peculiarities of British politics – and economics – is the reluctance to take into account the critical contribution of oil to the economy. We spend so much time droning on about our excessive reliance on the financial sector that we tend to ignore this elephant in the room. But the truth is that, for the past quarter of a century, Britain has been a petro-economy. In 1999, we were producing more oil than Iraq, Kuwait or Nigeria.
…Take a look at the numbers. In 1979, when Margaret Thatcher came to power, the amount Britain owed, as a nation, was £88.6 billion. In the subsequent six years, taxes from the North Sea (which had been pretty much non-existent previously) generated an incredible £52.4 billion.
Smarter observers knew that oil was and is a hugely valuable resource. So the second part of Scottish unionism’s two-pronged attack on the significance of oil was to relentlessly repeat the point that North Sea oil was “a flash in the pan,” it was “running out” and it “wouldn’t last five years.” Under scrutiny this case would easily have fallen apart. However, that would entail Scotland’s unionist and Britain’s media applying said scrutiny. At the end of the 70s, oil, apparently, had little future.
There is now a glut in new discoveries in the North Sea. In June this year, a low profile story on the BBC reported that the company EnCore had discovered 300 million barrels of recoverable oil, and projected that this would rise.
In recent months more finds have been made and last week US news agency Bloomberg reported that BP had confirmed that it would continue to invest £12 billion pounds in North Sea oil extraction over the next 5 years, including drilling a deep-water well off Shetland next year.
However, while North Sea oil has made Britain PLC - with a population of over 50 million - a “petro-economy”, Scottish nationalism has failed to convince the Scottish electorate that with the same revenues an independent Scotland could be solvent.
Scottish unionism, in this regard, has effectively and impressively outmanoeuvred Scottish nationalism.
The power of Scottish unionist tactics has not just been in dumbing down the public debate but in undermining the confidence of nationalists themselves. After all those decades of Scotland being told oil is “running out”, maybe it is, oil is a dead story, economic history, a missed opportunity and no longer relevant to the debate on independence.
In fact, the opposite is true. North Sea oil has never been so important.
To understand the importance of oil you have to understand its relationship to finance. In Britain’s ‘petro-economy’, oil is vital for the future of Britain’s financial sector and currency. Revenues from oil mean business and consumers are taxed less and that stimulates growth. When an economy is growing then investors speculate on it. Why? Well, they know that there’s future income to pay returns on their investments. The financial sector is cock-a-hoop. This explains why the City boomed when North Sea oil arrived. Conway’s Telegraph piece explained the situation:
The benefits went far beyond the public finances. Were it not for the cushion provided by oil exports, the deficit in Britain's current account – its international ledger – would have been one of the worst in the Western world. Moreover, much of the massive rise in business investment in the years before the financial collapse was due entirely to spending in the North Sea.
…In short, without oil, recent history would have been vastly different. Growth would have been weaker, consumer spending less and the public finances decidedly more parlous. That’s not to say Britain would have been an economic pygmy – just that oil is a luxury that has permitted us to live much more comfortably.
Now that the debt crisis has exploded the myth of the City, now insolvent, as Britain’s primary wealth generator and with the UK’s economy bankrupt - through systemic City fraud - Britain’s economic and social life support machine is powered by oil off Scotland’s coast.
So, while in relation to Scotland, the English commentator Ruth Deech felt justified recently on BBC 4’s Any Questions in claiming that: “We’re all subsidising them by way of benefits and all sorts of reasons”, oil in Scotland’s North Sea is in fact, as we speak, keeping Britain’s economic and social structure together.
Tomorrow, part 3: Scotland On The Map
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Rediscovering Oil - A From Rags to Riches Story
by Alex Porter
In my last Newsnet Scotland article, I argued that the bankruptcy and rapid decline of Britain has transferred, in terms of the Scottish constitutional debate, the burden of proof of economic viability from nationalism to unionism. For nationalists to really ramp up the pressure on the unionist case though, it has to be implicitly understood by the Scottish electorate that independence does indeed offer a sound, economic path to the future.
For the SNP, the trump card in its economic prospectus should have been the enormous wealth being accrued from North Sea oil. Scottish unionism though exploited its institutional advantages and so was spectacularly successful in getting and keeping the subject of oil off the political agenda.
I believe that unionism no longer has that privilege. In the debate over Scotland’s economic future, North Sea oil is about to take the top seat at the table.
How? Oil is about to become the world’s number one subject. More specifically ‘peak oil’ – its effects will alter the course of the world’s history. As a serious oil producer Scotland’s global profile will thrive because of it. The facts will be clear – the oil off Scotland’s shores will be considered important not just for the UK’s economic stability but an important contributory factor in European and international security.
In a short space of time then, the case that North Sea oil is so insignificant as to be of no value to the establishment of a successful independent Scotland will be instantly recognised by the Scottish electorate as what it always was: nonsensical, political propaganda. Consequently, unionism will face a crisis of credibility.
Part 1: Out of Sight, Out of Mind
One question which has puzzled many observers is just how did the issue of North Sea oil disappear off the radar of Scottish economic history? In Norway, any and all oil stories are poured over by their national media. Norwegians know just how important oil has been to their economy and have established an extremely successful oil fund which is being set aside to be enjoyed by future generations. Their finance minister, Sigbjørn Johnsen, was quoted by the Norwegian newspaper, Aftenposten, talking about the oil fund on Tuesday: “It’s kind of like a dream…The size of the fund exceeds the expectations of most of us.”
In pounds, Norway’s oil fund is worth £316 billion which is enough to fund Scotland’s public expenditure for 10 years without collecting taxes. The future is good if you’re Norwegian but if you live in Scotland, with an economy which is in surplus, the future offers debt and massive public sector cuts – which is, in effect another bailout of the insolvent City of London. In terms of economic and social justice, the contrast between Scotland and Norway could not be more dramatic. Last week a hard-hitting new study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation showed that child poverty in Scotland had increased at double the rate of that for England during the last year of the recession.
While the Norwegian media disseminate the oil story among her prospering population and beyond, in Scotland - a serious oil producer - you hardly hear a peep.
How could that be? The issue of North Sea oil has been brushed under the carpet.
Scottish unionism’s principle strategy against nationalism was in presenting Scottish independence as economically unviable. Scotland could not afford to go it alone. That put the burden of proof of economic viability onto nationalism. The monumental wealth that would come from oil was clear and well understood by unionists; they knew that the enormous wealth flowing in from the North Sea would place the case for an economically viable, independent Scotland beyond reasonable doubt. This contradiction had to be dealt with and ruthlessly.
The UK government had commissioned the now infamous McCrone Report. Its conclusions were astonishing:
“This paper has shown that the advent of North Sea oil has completely overturned the traditional argument against Scottish nationalism. An independent Scotland could expect to have massive surpluses both on its budget and on its balance of payments and with the proper husbanding of resources this situation could last for a very long time into the future.”
The McCrone report wasn’t published until recently (it can be read online). The fact of its suppression though is damning evidence that Scottish unionism was complicit in the betrayal of the people of Scotland for 30 years. A sure sign of where its loyalties don’t lie.
McCrone also concluded that the income from oil meant Britain had to seriously attend to the matter of poverty in Scotland, especially on the West central belt or face a constitutional crisis:
“If, in five years’ time North Sea oil is contributing massively to the UK budget, while the economic and social condition of West central Scotland continues in the poor state that it is today, it would be hard to imagine conditions more favourable to the growth in support of the nationalist movement. Very determined steps to urgently transform economic conditions in Scotland will therefore be necessary and the Scottish people will have to be persuaded that their problems really have received the attention and expenditure they deserve if this outcome is to be avoided.”
This was Scottish unionism’s opportunity to demonstrate that Scotland’s future social and economic well-being were its primary concern. They had the choice; publish the report and eliminate poverty in Scotland or delist the report and carry on as before. The McCrone scandal then shines a very, bright light on the historic loyalties of Scottish unionism and they don’t lie with the citizens of Scotland.
The SNP tried to keep the subject alive with its ‘It’s Scotland’s Oil’ campaign. This worked to an extent, but the unionist media closed down the story. Unionism via the trade-unions and their captured media suppressed the campaign. Oil wealth should be shared and was unimportant anyway so Scotland was informed.
Over the years nationalists have tried to resurrect the story, but always in the context of a hypothetical debate on an independent Scottish economy. The subject of what North Sea oil meant to the Scottish economy was buried in a Whitehall cemetery.
Tomorrow, part 2: Stop Scotland – Britain wants to get on!
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
First, in Norway's Aftenposten and covered in English here, the happy story of the Norwegian oil fund:
‘Oil fund’ reaches dizzying new highs
The other, in Today's Scotsman was the not so happy story of Scotland's economic predicament:
Scots getting poorer faster than the English
Norwegian finance minister Sigbjørn Johnsen can hardly believe how successful the Norwegian oil fund has been: "It’s kind of like a dream”. In pounds the oil fund is worth £316 billion pounds which is enough to pay all Scotland's public spending for 10 years without taxation. In 10 years, on paper, every Norwegian will be a millionaire.
According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Scots have been getting poorer faster than the English since the 'crisis' began. Child poverty and unemployent are exploding and London cuts have yet to start!
Scots could vote to have what Norway has. Instead they vote for despair and decline. What makes them do that?
Answers on a postcard.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
I once tried to get an idea off the ground that would make it work. My idea was to help what were then called RMLs (Regional Minority Languages) prosper. How? The idea was based on the concept of 'language economies'. in Ireland the government spent huge enterprise budgets on attracting jobs to Gaelic speaking areas. It backfired as when Irish speakers returned to the Gaelic speaking area were they grew up and brought their English speaking family with them..
My idea then was create a RML support 'mark' across Europe so that minority language speakers could, in solidarity, buy products whereby the producing company's operations; administration, operating manuals and so on were all in and supportive of the minority language. This would create a boom in translating to and from Eurpean language straight into Gaelic which, if subsidised, would mean operating in the RMLs would be more cost-effective than English. It would mean you couldn't work in such a company unless you spoke the language. Success in your career then would mean literacy in Gaelic or Basque or Flemish was materially useful and so language learning was not just a bore that some 'cultural nationalists' forced you into but it paid the bills. Once the model is thus presented then there is no case for denying that 'enterprise grants' are not 'language neutral'. In Gaelic speaking areas hundreds of millions of pounds were being spent on enterprise schemes. Consequently, the £10 million a year that the government was giving to Gaelic would have been but a drop in the ocean. I took the idea to a Gaelic supporter and former merchant banker Sir Iain Noble who liked the idea. Unfortunately, at that point I had problems with my personal life. I wound up my own translation agency business and moved to Spain where I now teach English.
Many Scots are very dismissive of support to Gaelic and think that support is a waste of money. Ok, let's look at it one way - how much money has been spent on English in Gaelic speaking areas over the last few hundred years? In schools, libraries, post office stationary, official documents and so on? Incalcuable. Let's just say English owes a lot more money to Gaelic than it currently gets back by a long margin!
Such ignorance about a language which is a vital part of Scotland's heritage is angering to me, a lowland Scot, so imagine what it feels like for a Gael who's culture is continually denigrated by those they consider their 'fellow countrymen'?
Imagine then also that such an important media outlet as The Herald on Sunday indulges in such crass cultural vandalism?:
Leave endangered languages to die in peace
This article was brought to my attention by those who run the excellent Bella Caledonia blog. I would like to take the time to dismantle this Herald piece myself but I really couldn't do it better than their own blog entry which contains an article written by Alasdair Mac Gill-eain:
Bad Language & Dodo Journalism
In In 2006, the £4 million (equivalent to only one mile of two-lane road) Glasgow Gaelic School threw open its doors in the city’s west end to a mere 320 pupils. This was to meet enormous pent up demand (to which it is having to expand to meet). This, and simple initiatives to recognise our cultural heritage after decades of abuse and neglect is too much for the commentariat. The tired predictable argument is that the latest onslaught of cuts should be made to our culture and our language evoking the response: Cuimhnichibh air na daoine bho ‘n d’thainig sibh (Remember the people whom you come from).
Read on here.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Would an independent Scotland have a viable economy?
Common sense tells you yes but my point is that the question doesn’t really matter anymore. A seismic shift in the debate over the economics of independence took place recently and has largely gone unnoticed: The realisation that Britain is bankrupt and thanks to Gordon Brown, beyond repair.
Up till about a year ago a sterile game of ping pong went on about the viability of an independent Scotland. The debate over Scotland’s future was what the SNP’s Calum Cashley called “little more than a car boot sale haggling session”. Unionism revelled in it though. It was in a comfortable position as they had successfully framed the debate in such a way as to have nationalists provide evidence about an economy that didn’t exist. The eyes of the onlooking public glazed over. Independence was boring and hypothetical. And the Labour Party hammered home the advantage claiming that Scots wanted politicians to talk about the economy and jobs, not an abstract debate on the constitution.
Even the SNP put the issue of independence on the back-burner. Alex Salmond can talk Scotland up but the winds were blowing against him on independence. Instead the SNP concentrated on devolution management. He has stuck to that script and done a decent job of it too.
While Alex was holed up in Holyrood though, the debate had moved on. The crisis arrived.
Unionism started to sound a little uncomfortable. The umbrella of union was sheltering Scotland from the worst of a global recession went the spin. Salmond’s ‘Arc of Prosperity’ – the models of Iceland, Ireland and Norway were scoffed at by former Secretary of State for Scotland Jim Murphy MP who took great delight in dubbing them ‘The Arc of Insolvency’. Labour’s guffaws showed that unionists were struggling through but were becoming nervous.
Gordon Brown pursued fiscal ‘stimulus’ agressively. The PM, who as Chancellor built his reputation – dubiously - as being prudent was spending like a drunken sailor. He was convincing though and in a crisis people want leadership. The media coverage of the crisis was not about whether or not ‘stimulus’ was a sound strategy but about how much and how soon Britain needed it.
It had to. The reason only a few predicted it would fail was the same reason why very few predicted the crisis in the first place. Modern economics is complete nonsense.
The idea that as long as people are spending money the economy will be fine is just wrong but it’s a popular misconception. Politicians will simply borrow more money. They add that debt to the GDP figures and hey presto, people are shopping and politicians get to spend money on all causes. Low interest rates meant people could borrow money easily and they did. Under Gordon Brown, Britons racked up more household debt than the rest of the EU combined. The problem is that when you borrow money you need to have some kind of security to borrow against – your house for example. What happens when everyone has borrowed all they can and have no security left? No-one lends to you.
Credit is no longer available. Debt has reached the point of saturation and that’s your crisis.
If you understood that you understood why ‘stimulus’ was crazy. How can the answer to too much debt be borrowing more money to spend? It isn’t. That’s the big hole in modern economic theology: Debt is not the same as savings! In economics ‘savings’ in an economy is producing more than you consume. For corporate economists, bankers, politicians and just about everybody else sound economics was about consuming more than you produce. Let’s have a party on the credit card then and no-one wants to be a party pooper and who listens to party poopers anyway?
It’s pay back time.
Debt reached saturation point many years ago. With the theology of modern economics being what it is though, a crisis of credit is a political nightmare. So, what did Gordon Brown do? He let the financial markets have more security to lend against. How? Fraud.
Those clever bankers in The City created financial products called derivatives. A derivative is a product that has assets and the banks buy and sell them based on how well the assets perform. The problem was that there were no assets. Yet The City of London and Wall St. sold them around the world. That’s why the crisis was global..
Now you get to see the price tag: £500 Trillion. That’s how much the fraudulant derivative market was worth and yet global GDP is only around £45 Trillion. And if that doesn’t shock you, take this in; Britain was and is the main global centre for the derivatives market. The City was a staggering economic collosus. Britain’s GDP went through the roof. Tax revenues from the financial sector were enourmous. British banks bought and sold thin air. Gordon Brown was an economic genius, bankers drew down huge salaries and bonuses and shareholders were ecstatic.
With all the fraudulant money in the system house prices went up and up. Gordon moved the tax burden from property to labour and industry. The latter became less competative as a consequence and the manufacturing jobs went abroad. Who cares if you have a horrible job in the service sector and low wages as long as your house price goes up? You can always refinance and put the kids through university that way, right?
Wrong. The scam blew up in the fraudsters’ faces. Banks knew that they were selling nothing to each other and distrust set in. They had been buying and selling nothing to each other for so long that they knew they owned nothing but debt.
The banks were bankrupt and so was Britain.
The collapse of the financial system was not going to be blamed on Gordon Brown. Oh no. He changed the accountancy rules so that they could pretend to be solvent. He bailed out the insolvent banks with taxpayers money and lots of it. Britain’s share of the derivative debt is around £200 Trillion. That’s not a hole that can be filled with a few billion here and there. Then Brown and Mervyn King at the Bank of England started printing new money and again, lot’s of it. They got the money for almost 0% interest i.e. free. A bit irritating if you have a credit card and pay the bank 40% on it.
The hole will never be filled. Unless that is if the banks start selling fraudulant derivatives again and they have. Using free money which has diluted the wealth of the citizens and when that runs out they’ll be back for another bailout. The free money meant the value of the pound dropped 20% in the last year meaning a 20% wage cut for all and a 20% hit on your property and assets. It’s fraud. Legalised fraud but it’s fraud.
The point though is that the banks will not lend. Why bother? They can buy and sell nothing to each other using taxpayers’ money and pay themselves mighty christmas bonuses. And they can’t lend because they’re broke and no-one can borrow anyway.
So the real economy dies. Credit starved business are going to the wall. unemployment is rising and the government’s tax take gets smaller and smaller.
For Scottish unionism, the myth of prosperity emanating from The City was a powerful weapon against Scottish independence. The proceeds from North Sea oil money didn’t even cover Scotland’s public spending needs. What would Scots do without London heroicly subsidising we benefit junky jocks?
But the truth is out. Britain is bankrupt and The City is not the massive economic wealth generator that Scottish unionists liked it to be. Infact, it was a parasite sucking in the wealth from outwith the centre.
In a state of shock unionists scrambled around for comfort. RBS and HBOS were Scottish and needed a large chunk of the bailing out. How could an independent Scotland afford to bail their banks out? The answer is clear. If you don’t do your sums and you make a bad investment you lose, right? So, why on earth did the taxpayer bail out the shareholders and bondholders? They should have lost their money. That aside, these investors were mostly institutional investors and based mostly in London. That’s why they were bailed out.
So, where does this leave Britain PLC?
With government revenue collapsing the government needs to borrow more and more money to balance the books. With public and private debt standing at £1.7 Trillion and with the collapsing value of the pound who in their right mind would lend to Britain? America has the same problem and so both countries are printing money and buying each others’ debts. And their currencies plunge deeper.
The only way out of the hole is to declare bankruptcy. Those who lent Britain the money will get some of it back but you clear the debts and start over. That’s not going to happen. The banks want their money and they run the show, alter all.
So, the answer? Apparently it’s to be ‘austerity’.
The standard of life of Britons is about to nosedive. The banks’ debts will be hung around the citizens’ necks for generations. Public services will be unrecognisable from what they are today. The free health service will be gone, higher education will be massively scaled down as no-one will borrow for courses when there’s no high paying jobs to graduate into.
Britain’s status in the world is fast evaporating. Trident is being postponed. Britain will not be in the G20 never mind the G8 and the wars are financially unsustainable.
And so the debate over Scottish independence transcends from hypothetical to economic and social.
With Britain unable to offer jobs, health and education, Scots will be open to listening to another pitch. Alex Salmond smelled the coffee and is placing independence at the centre of the Holyrood election campaign. That campaign will not be a dry campaign about whether or not Scotland is a viable proposition but whether anyone in their right mind wants to go down with the Titanic.
With a Tory government introducing cuts galore, Labour and the SNP will be posturing as the defender of Scots from ruthless Tories. The problem for Labour is that the SNP can point to the fact that Labour bankrupted Britain in the first place and anyway, no matter if Labour gets back in, they can do nothing to alter the fact that Britain’s economy is fundamentally broken and social disintegration beckons.
And things really are going to get a whole lot worse. ‘Austerity’ will mean less jobs in the public sector and less benefits. Civil servants have mortgages and they pay taxes. People on benefits spend their money in shops which means jobs and VAT payments. Unemployment is going to increase massively and the tax base will shrink even more. Poverty will increase rapidly and more people will have even more debt that they borrowed simply to eat.
That is the Britain that Scottish unionists must defend. Corrupt, debt-saturated, diminishing in status, collapsing social structure and getting worse.
Would it not be a historic irony that a financial crisis got Scotland into union with England and a financial crisis will get her out of it?
So, the crisis was not really financial but it was all about an economic theology. It was a blind belief that you can spend your way to prosperity. Debt is not the same as savings. With savings you can invest in manufacturing and start making things, stop importing so much and sell things abroad then with the profits, pay off the debt. The manufacturing jobs are gone – lost because we preferred consuming to producing. To bring back savings you have to increase interest rates but the population and the government have so much debt that the interest payments would be astronomical. Britain is over.
Going back to the original question then; will an independent Scotland have a viable economy? The answer is simple: Who cares? What choice do we have?
Saturday, September 18, 2010
There's something about Glasgow taxi drivers. Maybe it's the fact that my mother was the second woman in Glasgow to get a hackney license. She knew the city like the back of her hand and she had no time of day for day traffic - she was nightshift!
Oh aye, I remember my heroic, single-parent mother out there all night earning a "man's wage" in 70's Glasgow and when I got in the way she sometimes had me sitting in the little cabin next to the driver's seat and under the metre. I think I helped her pull in some tips. Taxi drivers have cash and so nothing was ever planned and I ate out of chip shops, Chinese, Italian and Indian restaurants and unlike my friends who had things, I had cash.
The stories and the characters. 'Chippy Tam', the obese Glasgow Italian who owned a fleet of taxis had a canteen where the city's cab drivers met up. If you needed a sub, 'The Chip' was the man. I remember the stench of diesel, colourful stories about celebrities in the cab or what happened to patrons who didn't want to pay and characters with nicknames like 'Scottish Soldier'. Taxi drivers were ex-squaddies, ex-shipyard workers, ex-everything. They knew politicians, prostitutes, cops, ex-cons, journalists, bankers, gangsters etc. Needless to say they knew the score. If you talked to a Glasgow taxi driver you could hear opinions about the provost, the shipyards, the world war, the Spanish civil war, capitalism, Muhammed Ali, John MacLean, Raging Bull, Ally MacLeod, Nixon, OPEC and the Bay City Rollers. You didn't want to end up on the wrong side of them but they were interesting and a vital part of an amazing city.
Please Martin Scorsese - make the movie!
Which brings me to this story reported on Newsnet Scotland:
Glasgow Labour Councillor in ‘Crime Cab’ Row
It would seem that a private hire taxi firm has secured lucrative contracts with Glasgow City Council. It would also seem that the said firm has been accused of having links with organised crime and now a Labour councillor, Jim Todd - who drove for the firm - has been accused of helping the company secure the council contract.
Now, if I remember anything about Glasgow cab drivers it is that they really despise private hire firms. Why? Well, while the 'hacks' are out there scowering the streets for business with their 'begging lights' on, the private hire lot sit around waiting for a call. And in so doing the hacks get to know the city inside out. I remember all sorts of stories about how my mother would drive along a certain road just as a certain office closed and she would be 'flagged down' and got a good fare to the airport and maybe even a hauf-decent tip into the bargain. It's a matter of honour and service.
So when in August this year every taxi driver in the city of Glasgow signed a petition against the awarding of Glasgow City Council contracts to private hire firms you can bet your house that the 'hacks' are more than just a bit hacked off!
Just to help you understand the intensity of feeling that is involved here I'll tell you a story: Once upon a time there was a turf war between 'hacks' and minibuses. The minibuses were picking up punters and taking them to the bingo and this didn't enamour them much to the 'hacks' but "all's fair in love and war" as my mother used to say. However, one night two minibuses off-loaded their patrons at the bingo and decided to go for a cup o' tea whilst waiting for the end of the bingo session and thought it would be a hoot to trap a parked taxi between them. That night both minibuses were petrol-bombed. I won't say how the addresses of the minibus drivers were procured or who the taxi driver was but you get the point; hackney drivers don't take to being shafted kindly and they're resourceful.
The private hire firm called Network Private Hire saw Strathclyde Police lodge objections against their license applications this month on the basis that a convicted criminal, James Baxter, held shares in the company. This week Mr. Baxter left the company.
Councillor Todd was recently made Chairman of 'City Building' - a company that was recently at the centre of the corruption allegations that surrounded the former Labour council leader Stephen Purcell who has admitted taking cocaine and who, it is believed, was thought by police to be vulnerable to blackmail by gangsters. As you would expect, calls for an investigation into corruption were blocked by Labour and Lib-Dem councillors. And on top of all that, the same firm has secured exclusive contracts by the BBC and the NHS (no Labour influence there is there?).
Now Councillor Todd is threatening to take legal action against SNP Councillor David Turner (who maybe having one or two sleepless nights) for the latter's allegations made in the council chamber. I imagine this will all be swept under the carpet by the unionist media and no legal action will be taken but there's one constituency that's being overlooked by everyone. No silly, not the electors but the taxi drivers.
In a City where Labour rules supreme, suddenly they have a formidable enemy - Glasgow's taxi drivers!
For decades the SNP have pondered over how to get a foothold in Glasgow. The City's tabloid The Daily Record is a loyal Labour propaganda organ and there is a revolving door between party members, trade unionists, media outlets and jobs in the public sector. Indeed, I can remember in the early nineties the wife of a trade-unionist securing a job as a secretary in an 'Unemployed Workers Centre'. She drew a healthy salary and typed with two fingers..
Could this open up a new front for the SNP? If I were an SNP councillor or activist in Glasgow, I'd be handing out a dossier on Labour's council corruption every time I took a taxi. Taxi drivers have friends and they talk to their punters. The nationalists have an opportunity to turn Glasgow taxi drivers into an activist base which is far more potent than those party members who have leafletted Glasgow's constituencies over the decades (like me) with no hope of winning.
And perhaps drivers could be convinced to support the new Newsnet Scotland online newspaper which was set up to counter-balance the unionist bias in Scotland's press and broadcast media. Just a thought.
As this story heats up, and it will, I'd bet on Glasgow's hackney drivers throwing some diesel on the flames. Care must be taken as this is local Glasgow politics but handled correctly this is a huge opportunity to help loosen the iron grip that Labour has on the city.
Taxi for Labour!
Friday, September 17, 2010
So, who does have a plan? Not to give us a perfect system but just to end the crisis?
Finally and astonishingly, an MP has moved a bill in the Westminster parliament which will go some way towards ending the crisis. Here's the video of the first reading:
Sound money? Yes please! And an end to banks using the money in your current account to first multiply it and then use it to speculate or lend it out at huge amounts of interest thus destroying the real economy.
This bill, if passed, would end the 'financial crisis'. It might end it with a bump but it would end it instead of it getting worse which is what all parties, 'modern' corporate economists and trade-unions are selling you. This bill would prevent the citizens' wealth from being transferred to banks in order to try and hide their massive fraud which they are hiding off their balance sheets.
Guess what though, it doesn't have a hope 'n hell of being passed. Why? Because the political class and the banking class are joined at the hip.
In short, change is going to have to come from the bottom up and will likely be violent.
If you have any sense, support this bill which has received no mention in the mainstream media.
Wonder why that is?
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Vladimir: Suppose we repented.
Estragon: Repented what?
Vladimir: Oh . . . (He reflects.) We wouldn't have to go into the details.
(Waiting for Godot)
Mervyn King of the Bank of England is quoted in The Herald today as confessing:
Bank of England governor tells TUC: ‘We got it wrong’
Naturally The Herald doesn't probe Gordon Brown's role regarding quantative easing, stimulus, bailouts and regulatory legislation.
According to King:
Mr King, in a conciliatory message to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), acknowledged that while the meltdown was caused by the financial sector, the fallout was universal.
What Mervyn doesn't tell us that it was the financial sector in London and New York that sold fraudulant financial products to the rest of the world what caused the crisis. And he is certainly not telling us that they are back in the same business all over again.
The purpose of his trip to the TUC conference and his 'confession' is to sell 'austerity' to the British public:
In it, he warned that the UK Government risked plunging the country back into crisis if it did not make cuts to slash Britain’s deficit.
Now, let's make this clear, the financial sector grew fat through fraud, then when it blew up it stayed fat through bailouts and free money from Mervyn King (and still is) and now they are going to force the general public through cuts and unemployment to borrow money from banks at immoral rates of interest in order to keep bankers in a manner to which they have become accustomed.
Mervyn doesn't confess that the illusion of London City success in the past was all down to fraud. Oh no:
Before the crisis, steady growth with low inflation and high employment was in our grasp.
No it wasn't. It was all fraud and pumping more debt into the system that gave an illusion of wealth. Mervyn, you see, wants you to think that we can get it back by continuing to feed the banks public money. Well Mervyn, you don't fool me. We can't go back to false and fraudulant economy. And we are not going to continue to pay debts accrued by fraudulant bankers as we have been.
You see, Mervyn gives the banks money and charges them 1% for it. The 'insolvent' banks, having destroyed jobs and forced everyone into borrowing, then lend that money to you at sometimes anything up to 50% per annum interest. That, my friends is immoral and is destroying the real economy. However for Mervyn, the banks are the real economy. You see, most of the money in the system is created and lent out by banks at interest. So, the money which should be owned by the government and issued freely is infact created as a debt. That means the interest multiplies, the bankers get super rich and the economy nose-dives.
Here's another strategy Mervyn. Why don't the people try the bankers for fraud, dissolve the banks and walk away from the debts which were fraudulantly induced? How about that Mervyn?
Oh no. Mervyn prefers the citizens to suffer than let his banking buddies take the wrap.
My advice. Take your money out of big banks and put it into smaller independent banks. Don't feed the beast.
BP to Invest 12 Billion Pounds in North Sea Over Next Five Years
And off Shetland BP are going to drill a brand new deep-water well off Shetland next year.
Yes, just as 'Surplus Scotland' faces cuts and job losses to subsidise 'Bankrupt Britain' Scots are about to send vast amounts more money to London:
People should understand that for over 30 years Britain has been a petro-economy driven by North-Sea oil and enriching London. The money coming in from oil off Scotland's coast would increase the living standard of every Scot hugely. Instead of using this money to invest in jobs, health and education for Scots it has been used to pay Christmas bonuses for fraudulant bankers in The City of London and recently on the Labour Party's wars.
The proceeds of oil could make Scotland a well-off, egalitarian nation like Norway. Instead we suffer huge unemployment, low wages, ill-health and low life-expectancy and with nothing to show for it except more Labour MPs doing pretty well for themselves in London. That situation is set to get far worse as the Tories answer to Labour bankrupting Britain is to cut even deeper:
The choice could not be clearer for Scots. Social and economic collapse within Britain or jobs and prosperity with an independent Scotland.
So, Independence or Tory Cuts? Which Is It?
Propaganda is thick in politics and Scottish politics has its own nasty, little unionist strain of it.
Thankfully the online site NewsNet Scotland has come to the rescue. In the first paragraph of its 'About Us' page the site says:
Newsnet Scotland was created in response to a perceived lack of plurality within the Scottish media. By plurality, we mean that the views of a significant section of the population were not being articulated by any of the recognised media outlets, Newsnet Scotland is an attempt at addressing this vacuum.
Anyone with an ounce of intelligence knows that the Scottish broadcast and print media has a strong and often visceral pro-union bias. The BBC and Glenn Campbell in particular are unionist vessels. Every day wave upon wave of pro-union, anti-nationalist political propaganda is heaped upon the Scottish population. Most of it so contrived, cynical and petty that it's beyond angering. Sadly, we can not really say that we have anything like a free press in Scotland as clearly there is a revolving door between unionist parties, big business and media organisations.
So, it is to the internet that those who believe in Scottish democracy must flee and NewsNet Scotland is warmly welcomed by this blog. Already, there are up to 200 users online at any given time and that will surely grow. It is a small well of sanity which won't be small for much longer.
Users are encouraged to submit articles which are then considered for publication. Each article is then opened up for users to comment on.
Clearly there are a lot of creative people involved and I predict that the site will grow in importance over a short period of time. Anyone visiting this blog who has not visited NewsNet Scotland I urge to go and open a free account.
Clearly this website will benefit the SNP given that it has no pro-union bias like the rest of the media. However all Scots need is an honest representation of our politics. This is it folks!
Please spread the word.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
I came across this article:
Gold mining magnate donates £1.3m to Edinburgh university
Robert M Buchan, who hails from Rosyth, has donated the money for research into sustainable energy.
and naturally think that Scotland could well be a hub for renewable technologies. As the philanthropist is quoted:
The money will fund a top-level post in sustainable energy engineering, with a view to keeping Scotland at the forefront of the field.
And this month we will see a visit from the Spanish company Gamesa. A fact-finding mission who NewsNetScotland quotes as stating:
Gamesa will play a leading role in offshore wind energy's progress and wants to be at the centre of the development process. Therefore, the visit to Scotland will help in our decision making about potential investments in the UK, which we recognise is becoming a renewable energy hub with significant wind projects and a promising future for offshore.
With renewable energy projects all over the world up and running and a massive volume of projects in the pipeline in Asia, Europe and North America can we say that it is all a big scam like one commentor on Scotland Unspun, RMcGeddon argues?
As many thinking voters know in Scotland, there is no end to propaganda when the subject of oil comes up. Energy is vital to the our economies and modern society in general and so there's no doubt that we are subjected to lies, damned lies and statistics on the matter.
Certainly, on my blog many posts only slightly related to energy is turned into a debate on windmills and climate change scams etc.
Let's see then if we can have as informed a debate as possible on the subject. A debate where posters can up the game and give SOUND cases for and against renewables being a valid energy source or just another scam.
Can we do that?
Monday, September 13, 2010
Cuts: now it's war
Should Scotland use this moment to go for independence?
I warned of social and economic chaos whilst Gordon Brown was talking about 'bail-outs' and 'stimulus'. It was clear that bankrupting Britain was going to cause serious economic and social problems and Labour have achieved it. Now the Tories and not Labour will give you 'austerity' and you'll have a class war to distract you from what's really going on - more banker thieving.
That said, union leaders anticipate intense public fury and are preparing said class war:
Plans could include sit-down protests on roads, mass industrial action and high-profile stunts at key public buildings.
As the debt and the cuts drastically reduce the average citizen's standard of living the very notion of Westminster legitimacy will become even more questioned than it is now. The people do not trust the political class and people are sick of the corruption and doubt the very viability of Westminster.
Is this the right time for the SNP to pounce?
Just as the unions falsely put the blame on the Tories, it seems to me that in Scotland the shift of blame can go from a single party to the Westminster system itself.
It may well be time to withdraw SNP MPs from the London parliament as argued here.
This could be the nationalists' check-mate move. Just at the point where the people are angry at being ripped off by banks with the collusion of both UK parties there is a real case for shifting the focus of blame from one party to the Union itself. Scotland did not vote Tory and so you have a mandate issue simmering underneath too.
Naturally this would require a successful Holyrood campaign fought on the issue of independence. The issues of the kiboshed democratic referendum and the mandate will resonate alongside the matter of economic independence.
The timing could not be better for outmanouvering the Scottish unionist establishment as argued by Gerry Hassan:
On the other hand, the unionist parties and institutional establishment of Scotland have not come to terms with the depths of the multi-faceted crisis of Britain: of its politics, democracy, state and economy.
The SNP should be readying itself to play hardball. Get the groundwork done and make a bold move towards independence. It's not going to happen over tea and biscuits Alex.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
According to The Telegraph, Iceland's former Prime Minister is to stand trial for 'economic negligence' relating to his conduct during his tenure:
Former Iceland PM faces trial over bank collapse
And it's not just the former PM who is to face charges of neglect in connection with the crash of the Icelandic economy and currency:
A special investigation committee, known popularly as the Truth Commission, recommended that Geir Haarde, the former prime minister, stand trial, along with Björgvin Sigurdsson, the former minister of commerce, and Árni Mathiesen, the former minister of finance.
The report is damning in its conclusions:
Its report says that Mr Haarde and his colleagues ought to have realised the extremely serious nature of Iceland's financial problems more than six months before the crash – but claims they failed to act.
The committee concluded that officials "lacked both the power and the courage to set reasonable limits to the financial system".
Iceland really has shown the way in terms of who should be blamed for the 'Crisis'. In the UK, the financial and economic situation is a complete disaster for the population. It is bad now but you are only seeing the beginning of the absolute mess Labour has left as its inheritance. On top of that the pound is collapsing at a pace. And yet we are to believe that the economy did it all by itself. That's the big con!
The financial crisis has been a global epidemic but it eminated from the sale of financial products to the rest of the world from London and New York but mostly London. Brown knew it was happening and changed the rules to facilitate it. And to do it he had to start at home by loading up the population with as much debt as possible. To pay for all the fraud The City caused, Brown gave them bail-outs and free money meaning taxpayers will have to take the hit. He lied about the state of the UK's finances and about what he knew about the finances of the banking system which was and is insolvent.
The economy will not level until all the fraud is cleansed, and the fraudsters are jailed. When the bankers face the judges it will not be long until Brown is caught and the whole fraudulant financial system, now dependent on state hand-outs, comes crashes down. If this happened in a company a director or directors would face charges. Ministers must face charges as it is not believable that they did not know what was happening and must have been collaborating..
We should take a leaf out of Iceland's book and start the proceedings as soon as possible. The longer it takes to clean up the system the harder every British family is going to get hit.
If you want a functioning economy with jobs and public spending then Brown must be tried as soon as possible.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Much of the reason why people voted for devolution was because the idea of it was related to bread and butter issues. An excellent point made in Gerry Hassan's latest blog entry.
.... Independence is not that high an issue with voters. SNP supporters will say neither was devolution pre-Parliament. The difference is that devolution under Thatcher and Major became increasingly interconnected with ‘bread and butter’ economic and social issues; independence has so far failed to do this. The coming public spending savaging – estimated at 5.9% cuts of £1.7 billion in 2011-12 – will be potentially aided by the ‘Calman cuts’ – which would produce Scots public spending cuts comparable to a Polish post-Communist ‘shock therapy’ – may change this.
The timing to connect the idea of independence with 'bread and butter' issues could not be better for the SNP. While the very idea of the mandate for Britain to govern Scotland is being questioned the very legitimacy and viability of Westminster has collapsed:
On the other hand, the unionist parties and institutional establishment of Scotland have not come to terms with the depths of the multi-faceted crisis of Britain: of its politics, democracy, state and economy. This goes to the heart of what Britain is and what the union is for.
I know that the SNP have attracted many who do not believe in independence. However the party was not established to cater for that constituency nor for its own success but as a vehicle to realise an independent Scotland. The time to convert people to that idea has arrived. Loyalty to Westminster is collapsing across Britain and the UK's finances are beyond repair. The idea of independence will inevitably be related to bread and butter issues. It is the job of Salmond's team to ram that message home. The grounds are shifting and the SNP have awoken to it. The party has established itself as competent - it is becoming the only show in town. That is an advantage which can not and must not be wasted.
Perhaps a look back at how devolution grew into something more than a consitutional issue might help. We need as much imagination and debate as possible. For the cause of independence, this could be the nationalists' big chance.
Monday, September 6, 2010
Der Spiegel has published a shocking report which shows how oil is about to change the political climate of the world. This will have a huge influence on Scottish politics.
Military Study Warns of a Potentially Drastic Oil Crisis
The report has been leaked and was written by the German military. The issue is enormous for the political landscape and will have far-reaching consequences in terms of international security. Scotland will be right in the thick of it.
We are warned of:
shifts in the global balance of power, of the formation of new relationships based on interdependency, of a decline in importance of the western industrial nations, of the "total collapse of the markets" and of serious political and economic crises.
And you thought the financial crisis and global warming were problems. All these crises together is enough to make you head for the hills. What will it all mean for Scottish politics though? It seems that countries with oil will grow in status.
In summary the report looks at the changing landscape:
For importers of oil more competition for resources will mean an increase in the number of nations competing for favor with oil-producing nations. For the latter this opens up a window of opportunity which can be used to implement political, economic or ideological aims. As this window of time will only be open for a limited period, "this could result in a more aggressive assertion of national interests on the part of the oil-producing nations.
Britain has managed to avoid all debate about the significance of North Sea oil. Indeed many think that is has no effect at all on the UK's finances. This will no longer be the case. It's import will not be lost on the business and political communities, especially during crisis. Consequently, now is the time for the SNP to bring the subject on to the political agenda. The oil slogans of the past were easily neutered by the unionist press and perfidious civil servants and politicians but a coherent case backed up by oil industry experts will have an energising effect on Scottish politics just at the time when the issue of 'independence' takes centre stage.
The glut of North Sea oil discoveries in the last few weeks is there as an impetus. Salmond, himself an oil economist, should be expertly lining up industry witnesses to underline the case. In the near future the issue of peak oil will move centre-stage on the international agenda lending even more credibility to the nationalists' prospectus.
The nature of the 'peak oil' debate will allow the SNP to point to an independent Scotland gaining influence in Europe and beyond. Moving from an appendage of England to a desirable trading partner with all the benefits that go with that sort of energy muscle.
Summarising again from the Der Spiegal leak:
The Bundeswehr Transformation Center writes that oil will become one decisive factor in determining the new landscape of international relations: "The relative importance of the oil-producing nations in the international system is growing. These nations are using the advantages resulting from this to expand the scope of their domestic and foreign policies and establish themselves as a new or resurgent regional, or in some cases even global leading powers.
Now, some people don't much like the idea of the EU and others will tell you that Scotland has bargaining power because of the weight of the UK. Sorry but Scotland is the biggest oil producer in the EU. If the EU wants Scotland as a member or with some kind of affiliate status then oil is going to be a huge bargaining chip. In or out we'll have no shortage of friends as an independent nation. A far better state of affairs than being marginal and having the worst poverty in Europe.. Add that to having embassies, direct UN representation and delegates at other bodies as oil production gets you on the guest list and an image of an emergent Scotland starts to take shape.
The German report pulls no punches. Der Spiegal summarises that nations will have 'bi-lateral' trade agreements meaning you won't be able to buy oil on the open market, that price shocks in oil will threaten the entire global economic system with collapse (meaning supply will be central to security in every region especially advanced economies), that dependence on oil will lead to the collapse of 'market economies' as oil prices which effect 95% of everything that's produced may have to be fixed, that lack of preparation for 'peak oil' will mean a rebalance in regional power brokering or geo-politcal balances and that the effects of 'peak oil' can lead populations to a sense that their government and civic institutions have lost political legitimacy.
Oil is used in everything from make-up to plastic bags to shoes to cables etc etc. When it becomes more scarce what will drive industrial society? A sobering thought but there'll be no time for reflection as cities downsize and people start working in food related work all over again..
Revealed: Stark reality of frontline teaching
The facts revealed by a Glasgow City Council report would be shocking if we already didn't know just how horrible the reality is for many Glaswegians.
In one class of P7 children in a school in the city’s east end, 21 pupils out of a total of 24 were identified as having significant additional needs, ranging from parents with drug and alcohol problems to having to cope with domestic violence.
Three of the 11-year-olds were coping with the recent deaths of close relatives – some through drug abuse – while four had parents who were battling drug or alcohol addictions. Others had been exposed to domestic violence, while one child’s mother had recently attempted suicide.
So we know what the problems are so what answers are thrown up to address these problems? You got it - parenting programmes. School trips were actually a good idea but parenting programmes? Will someone answer me this question: How are you ever supposed to get good parents when they live in the economic and social environment provided by the city of Glasgow? I mean the problem is chronic because of years of neglect and active attacks on the poor.
Instead of addressing real problems like corporate greed, bank charges, bail-outs, credit card interest, predatory supermarkets, housing speculation, council corruption and so on. To provide a cover for all these social evils we get parenting programmes, minimum price alcohal, ASBOs and so on. All Big Brother garbage which does nothing to solve the problem but which actually causes and perpetuates the problem by protecting the perpetrators. It would be difficult to investigate vested interests like banks and council chambers so instead we go after the weak. We blame the poor for the theft of the life opportunities and the consequent social problems. It really is, to me, a sick and twisted psychology that seeks to stick the boot in where people are most vulnerable because of a problem which is at root economic.
Rather than actually pointing the finger at the true culprits - bankers, corporate lobbyists and politicians at central and local levels we demonise the poor. The problem you see is that they drink and take drugs and become bad parents because of it. You never hear the truth that it is because of the stupifying nature of big brother government telling people that they only have themselves to blame. You see it can't be government's fault.
Oh no? If you hadn't robbed taxpayers to pay for Trident and wars much of this poverty would be solved. If there was consumer protection against speculating bankers then there would be far more jobs..
Corruption and greed at the top of the system is the problem. It is not caused by bad parenting - that is merely a symptom. People do not have the hope that job opportunities give them. Why? Low interest rates supplying fat christmas bonuses for bankers, wars that fatten the shareholders' wallets of banks and arms manufacturers. Politicians on the take. Those are the problems. Get rid of them and in a few years you'll have fully functional parenting, I promise you.
Where is the vision of this land? It's bogged down in governement for and by big business. That's who's to blame. Politicians who take us into wars that we expressly didn't want to be involved in. Bankers who destroy the real economy by sucking up billions of pounds from the real economy to cover up their fraud and so on.
When you get to the point where the people's children can't eat because of the greed of a small band of banking and corporate aristocrats it'll be 'off with their heads time'.
If we don't reform the system now, blood may well have to spill.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Does Our Economy Really Have to Run on Fraud?
By MICHAEL HUDSON
What is the difference between today’s economy and Lehman Brothers just before it collapsed in September 2008? Should Lehman, the economy, Wall Street – or none of the above – be bailed out of bad mortgage debt? How did the Fed and Treasury decide which Wall Street firms to save – and how do they decide whether or not to save U.S. companies, personal mortgage debtors, states and cities from bankruptcy and insolvency today? Why did it start by saving the richest financial institutions, leaving the “real” economy locked in debt deflation?
For more read here.