Weekly Roundup

The country that went out into the cold….

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Meanwhile Cameron was in Norway this week to discuss trade. Of course this also led to some reflecting on how much of what is said by the UKIP brigade about how much better off we’d be outside the EU (like Norway) is basically bolix. Does Norway have less issues with Immigration? Quite the opposite if anything in fact! There’s been a recent trend of migrants and refugee’s using a loophole to simply cycle across the border from Russia and entering Norway legally. And of course Switzerland also has many issues with immigration, indeed the swiss are actually a minority in their own country in some districts.

Does Norway have less trouble with them pesky EU regulations?….actually, no they just rubber stamp and sign up to anything the EU passes, they have no right of veto or even a right to discuss such measures. But it costs them less money than actually being a member? Well marginally, the estimate is the UK would still end up paying 94% of what it currently pays, once the costs of EU inspection and regulation are accounted for (like Norway, we’ll be paying eurocrats to come over and make sure we’re obeying the EU’s trade rules). And once the inevitable drop in GDP (of 3-14%) is accounted for, one assumes that would probably make the country much worse off.

Meanwhile Cameron’s secret “negotiations” with the EU seem to have come a little unstuck, after several EU leaders claimed they still hadn’t a clue what changes he’s actually after….presumably whatever cosmetic changes he can get to hoodwink the tabloids into supporting a Yes vote one assumes.

Also this week the US again reiterated the point that Brexit would invalidate all US trade deals with the country. The UK would therefore need to renegotiate such deals, and its doubtful they’d get the same generous terms as the EU has managed. Now to anyone with half a brain this should be obvious. I’ve pointed this out myself several times and this isn’t even the first time the Americans have said this, nor that they’ve expressed disquiet at the idea of Brexit.

However, Farage and the UKIP bigot brigade in Mr Men land don’t seem to be aware of this. They’ve been working under the delusion (one could draw parallels to some of the SNP’s pre-independence delusions, such as automatically becoming an EU member and keeping the pound) that somehow the US will reward Britain’s efforts to destabilise the NATO alliance and harm transatlantic trade by lavishing gifts on the British.

Farage even went so far to accuse the US official in question of being a paid stooge of some shadowy pro-EU conspiracy. Now ignoring the fact that, as mentioned, this is not the first time the US has pointed this out. There is also a certain hypocrisy given that Farage himself is in the pay of various shadowy hedge fund types who plan to profit from the chaos Brexit will unleash.

The Hungry for power games

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The Hunger for power games in the US continues, with the first two cannon’s of resignation fired. This came in the wake of the democratic debate, where it became evident that this is clearly a two horse race between Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton, leading to two of the trailing candidates dropping out.

Meanwhile, in the GOP debate, an attempt by Jeb Bush to cut Marco Rubio down to size failed rather spectacularly. Donald “only a few million” Trump (he’s been telling a story about how he had to work his way up because his father would only led him “a few million” to get started) has now slipped in the polls and is trailing Ben Carson, a retired brain surgeon…..who constantly looks and sounds like someone who conducted brain surgery on himself. Basically if you think Trump is bad, wait till you hear Ben Carson.

The GOP debate has to stand in stark contrast to the democratic party debate (the only time anyone brought up Benghazi et al, was when Bernie Sanders said he was sick of hearing about Clinton’s “damn e-mails”). Which means that on the plus side, its very likely that after the Republicans have finished knocking chunks out of each other, they is less chance of whoever they put forward getting elected.

Argie hypocrisy

You may recall how the Top Gear team were chased out of Argentina over a number plate that seemed to allude to the Falklands war? Well the Argentinians are reopening the case. Are they going to put on trial the “war veterans(many in there twenties who fought in a war thirty years ago!) who attacked the BBC crew and burnt their cars? No, they are going after Clarkson for altering the number plate as they attempted to flee the country. Needless to say this stinks of hypocrisy. One wonders what Interpol will make of it when they ring up. “What you want us to arrest Clarkson for a minor offence regarding a number plate? Ya, why don’t we arrest him for being an arse in a denim free zone while we’re at it?

The imfamous car sporting the offending number plate, several months prior to filming (indeed this source http://jalopnik.com/more-proof-the-original-offensive-top-gear-license-plat-1644835449 points to DVLA data suggesting its been registered to the offending plate since 1991)

The imfamous car sporting the offending number plate, several months prior to filming (indeed this source points to DVLA data suggesting its been registered to the offending plate since 1991)

Also I don’t think the Argentinians understand how this plays out for neutrals. I mean personally, I can’t fathom why the Brit’s nor the Argie’s want the Islands. There is oil in the seas nearby, yes, but I’d argue this is a separate claim’s issue. But instead the Argentinians constantly choose to come across as them being bonkers mad. Ultimately one is forced to ask the question who should control the Falklands, the nutters who foam at the mouth and scream Malvina’s whenever some mentions the Falklands, or the people who are already there (okay, not very sane either, they seem to have this strange thing for Maggie Thatcher…and sheep!)

Every now and then a retired UK Admiral will pop up and say how its impossible now for the UK to protect the Island thanks to recent spending cuts. However I would argue that the Argentinian behaviour on this issue (not just Top Gear, but their defacto blockade of the Island) has now so alienated neutrals that the fact is, it doesn’t matter. Even if the UK failed to protect the Islands they would likely find their western allies taking the UK’s side. Argentina would face sanctions similar to those Russia’s been hit by, except that Argentina isn’t Russia (no oil) and its economy would quickly collapse. No doubt a US carrier battle group would soon show up to conduct “exercises” (Operation Handball?).

In short the British military won’t have to do anything, it would be just a matter of time before the Argentinians retreated with their tail between their legs. And they would have no one to blame but themselves.

Lording it over

Normally the house of lords is the sort of place you expect to more or less rubber stamp the legislation of a Tory government. However this week instead, they chose to reject Osborne’s attempts to emulate Thatcher’s poll tax by cutting working tax credits.

This is a rare, but entirely justified action by the upper house. The Tories went through the election repeatedly claiming that they won’t touch tax credits, yet blink and they were cutting them within a few months. Obviously if the Tories have now moved so far to the right that a bunch of hereditary rich guy’s think they are going too far, this should serve as a warning of how far they’ve drifted from the centre ground.

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Cameron is now talking about expanding the upper house to stack it with pro-Tory peers. Already the Lords has over 800 peers, even thought the seating capacity of the chamber is closer to at most 400. What’s he going to do, find a few hundred right-wing dwarves? High ho, high ho, its off to cut we go, with a hovel and a pick pig and a racist shit….

While I agree that there is a need for some serious reform of the House of Lords, this means cutting the number of peers and making it more democratically accountable, not stacking it with more old rich guys.

Tampon Tax

Finally, we come to the “Tampon Tax. While pistachio nuts and Jaffa cakes are subject to no VAT (because they are seen to be essentials) tampon’s are instead taxed. If ever you wanted to see evidence of how chauvinistic this government is its this. Presumably its never occurred to Cameron why his wife is always running to the bathroom and a little anxious about once a month or so.

The Rich Tax and Santa Claus

One story I missed commenting on was the rather cheeky proposal by the lib dem’s for some sort of one off “wealth tax” to help boost public finances. Aware of the arguments against a rich tax (the Tory’s argue that the rich will be so incensed by a tax that costs them half of what they spend on Bollinger each month that they will abandon all their possessions and flee abroad screaming in horror), the lib dems counter that perhaps a one off payment to help stabilise the economy would be an acceptable compromise.

Of course predictably Osborne has countered that no, the rich would be so incensed by such a one off tax that they will spend many times more than it would cost them moving abroad to avoid it.

Oddly enough for a chancellor committed to bringing down the deficit he also spent this week talking about spending £50 billion on various “stuff” including a new runway at Heathrow….anyone care to explain to me how increasing spending while cutting taxes will solve the deficit? |-|

These Tory arguments against taxes to the wealthy (or the property tax I’ve just argued for) are starting to become almost farcical. Next thing you know, I suspect Cameron will claim that a rich tax will result in Santa (a large property and business owning non-dom) labeling the whole country as “naughty” and giving us all lumps of coal for Christmas (which for some hard up families struggling to heat the house in winter would probably be welcomed!) 😀

Its as stupid as the Tory’s belief that poverty stricken “welfare colonies” will suddenly become thriving and prosperous (that the neds & chav’s will spontaneously abandon their Burbery hats and tracky bottoms for pin-stripe suits and ties) by the government cutting benefits. I don’t know, maybe if all the unemployed put a CV under their pillow the tooth fairy will come and give them a job? :>>

The many billionaires we see in London are here for a very simple reason – because they see the UK as a safe country where they are unlikely to have the corrupt tin-pot government (whom they got rich off the back of) turning on them, stripping them of all their wealth or have them arrested on trumped up charges (or murdered down some back alley). And in the UK the non-doms know they need not fear being lynched by a horde of angry locals when the revolution comes (I would disagree with them on that in the long run!). Indeed many Middle Eastern and Russian billionaires want a foot hold in Britain as the UK is their bolt hole in the case of a crisis back home. A slight increase in taxation, or indeed getting them to pay taxes in the first place, ain’t going to persuade them to leave, certainly not at the sort of rates of tax the lib dems or labour are proposing.

Indeed I saw one of this idiots the other day, out in his Ferrari, vrum, vrum, cough!…. he stalled it in the middle of the street! I was pissing myself laughing at him! :DD

Furthermore if they are all going to leave :wave:, as the Tory’s predict (good riddance to bad rubbish!), then we need to bring in both taxes. A 0.5% tax on wealth (or Patriot tax as I’d call it), property and financial trades coupled with a 10% “departures tax” of one’s wealth if you permanently move abroad. Problem solved!

21 Trillion dollars

A shocking revelation yesterday was an estimation of the amount of cash the wealthy have hidden away in offshore tax havens. Potentially some $21 trillion dollars (or up to £13 trillion) has been taken off the grid. That’s the equivalent of the entire US and Japanese economy combined!

This merely serves to highlight a point I’ve long been making, a good deal of our deficit problems could be solved, by getting the super rich to pay more tax….or perhaps more to the point, actually paying they’re taxes! It beggars belief that some of the super rich can pay less to the Inland Revenue that the maid who vacuum’s their living room.

And if there’s one thing that infuriates me, it is these right wing faux patriots (see my article on “the patriot tax” from last year), who seem to be quite happy to wrap themselves up in the US or UK flag, be made “lords” or knights of the realm or appointed government adviser’s, yet they seem unwilling to put they’re money where they’re mouth is and pay their taxes. Now in a different era such behaviour would be considered tantamount to treason. Indeed Edward Longshanks, in the built up to his crusade, threatened to emasculate any noble who failed to pay his dues. So perhaps by me just asking the nouveau-nobles too pay they’re fair share I’m being too kind.

There is also a capitalist element to all this also. Much of this hoard of cash is essentially “dead” money. It’s money that isn’t being invested in businesses here in the UK (or US) and helping to pull the world out its current recession. This serves to yet further undermine the argument of the conservatives. They argue that we shouldn’t go after tax cheats because they’d punish us by not investing the money in the country….that’s exactly what their doing right now! Clearly there is an urgent need of governments to crack down hard on this form of aggressive tax avoidance.

Now as I’ve also pointed out before, yes it is not possible to just “tax the rich” and that alone will magically solve all the world’s financial problems. But it will certainly help a lot more than the current policy of aggressive austerity, which all the indicators are is actually stifling growth and pushing up borrowing costs.

Really organised crime, H-Boss the world’s local money launder

In the last few months we’ve all been accusing the bankers of this and that and being little more than a champagne and sherry swilling mafia clan in pinstripe suits. Well today those claims were proven to being a little truer that we thought. HSBC was accused of aiding the Mexican drug cartels in laundering money, as well as helping out terrorists with their funding.

In some respects its not really surprising, as I mentioned in a previous post, the narcotics trade is one of the world’s largest and most profitable businesses. Given how greedy we all know bankers are, not to mention the fact that they happen to be a significant consumer of “Colombian white” themselves, its perhaps no surprise that the banks have been involved in this trade. I mean if they’re prepared to screw over the whole global economy just to make a few bucks, why won’t they work for the drug cartels?

I’m wonder if they’re going to put that in those adds of there’s they do (you know the “world’s local bank” ones). They could do one where a knife wielding Mexican gangster (I’m thinking of that Machete character in the Tarantino films) meets with some mustached Colombian in dark glasses called Raul and they visit a H-Boss to transfer the cash (with the lady behind the counter even taking it in the back and dry cleaning the blood stains out of it while providing a calibrated weight scales for the coke).

Jokes aside, what’s the bet that they’ll still be looking for the bonus cheques?

Although I would note that if these allegation’s prove true, then the bankers may have bitten off more than they can chew. Gangsters tend to prefer to settle matters “out of court” if you know what I mean. For them the choice between “whacking” a few bankers and doing twenty years to life isn’t a choice at all….especially given they know how unpopular bankers are and how they have a good chance of a jury (bitterly remembering the last time they got turned down for a mortgage) letting them off if they get caught! So we’ll learn the truth of these allegations not as a result of any parliamentary inquiries, but the rate at which bankers start to just “disappear”….or wake up with a horse’s head in they’re bed!

Bankers? LIBOR? Should they resign? No! Lock’em up!

This week’s big story was that of Barclays being found guilty of manipulating the LIBOR banking rate by the FSA and US CFTC and fined a record £290 million. Other banks are also in the firing line and due to face questions in the next few months, RBS just sacked a couple of staff as part of its damage limitation exercise. And Bob Diamond (geezer) has been left with some awkward questions to answer.

One particular question for Bob Diamond(geezer) is whether or not he is going to resign, and if he refuses to go, will the Barclay’s board sack him? He was after all, head of the very division of Barclays guilty of misconduct, when the Libor manipulation was going on. He is of course trying to apply what I’d call the “Nuremberg defence”, blaming hapless lowly employees for doing it all behind his back (with them resorting no doubt to the “just obeying orders” gambit).

But this ignores the principle of “command responsibility” as I previously discussed in relation to the Murdoch’s and phone hacking. In short, the whole reason why someone like Bob Diamond (geezer) is able to justify his ridiculous salary is by taking “command responsibility” for his company, or the division of his company that he head up. In essence he takes management responsibility (and credit) for the good things that are done (and his share of the profits), but the door swings the other way, in that he is also responsible for anything bad (or illegal) that happens.

In such situations we are forced to choose between two possibilities, firstly that he was in on it and thus as guilty as everyone else involved. Or secondly, that he was too stupid or incompetent as a manager to keep control of his own staff and prevent this from happening, in which case he is guilty of miss-conduct. Either way, there is no question that he should resign….and hand back the bonus cheques (£105 million in 2011) he’s been collecting the last few years as he heads out the door!

Why are they not in jail?
But I would argue that a few resignations and sackings aren’t enough. What we need to see is a few bankers going to prison. Let us look at the facts. Back in 2007, these same shower of c*nts brought the entire global economy to the brink of collapse and had to be bailed out by the taxpayer (see Tony Robinson’s rant on Question Time). Even after the bailout, they helped snarl up credit markets, making life tough for many small businesses. Indeed, this LIBOR manipulation cost many small businesses dearly. They’ve also been actively conspiring to bring about the collapse of the Euro, which will have serious economic repercussions for the whole world.

If you or I held up a post office, or lied on our mortgage application, or a lowly clerk in the bank spirited a few quid out of the tills, we’d all face serious fines and probably go to jail (the bank clerk would certainly be sacked…and they won’t get a golden handshake!). Barclays are now guilty of committing gross and systematic fraud over several years to the tune of many billions. How can it be that these people aren’t in jail!

Neo-Feudalism
In other parts of the world they have a word for this sort of behaviour – Corruption! The reality is that we live in a Feudal society, where the banker, traders, celeb’s, etc. are the new nobles and the rest of us the plebs. In the middle ages, while Magna Carta officially made all men equal, the reality was very different. While the peasants could face harsh justice for the slightest crime (or suspected crime), the Nobles could pretty much get away with murder (in many cases literally!). These “nobles” committed systematic corruption on a scale that would put Mugabe to shame and often sent out their forces to rape, pillage and murder villages on the land of their rival nobles. If they got caught, they could face, at worse, a slap on the wrist fine, usually paid by them giving up land (i.e. it was the peasants on that land who paid, as they ended up swapping tyrants!). The only situation where a Noble need fear, was if he acted against the king, which could cost him his head if he lost….or see him made king if he succeeded!

Similarly today, the plutocrats of the neo-nobles are beyond prosecution and essentially above the law. They have in effect a get-out-of-jail-free card. Those fines Barclays will be paying, not the traders or Bob Diamond (geezer). In other words if you’re a shareholder in Barclay’s, or a low ranking employee, or a account holder, that would be you who is paying for the crimes of others.

The Peasants revolt
This is a system that has to change, as it is not only grossly unfair, but it is a threat to democracy itself. And the plutocrats have good reason to want it to change. Another trend of Feudal states is that every now and then the Peasant’s tire of the constant shafting they are forced to endure, snap, and go on a murderous rampage otherwise known as a “Peasant’s revolt” (or “slave revolt” back in Roman times). Indeed this “tradition” stretches right the way through to modern times. One could draw parallels with the Peasant revolts of the Mediaeval world and the French revolution of the 18th century, or even the Russian revolution. Indeed, one could even draw a parallel between the current “Arab Spring” and such revolts of the past, as a large driver of these Middle East uprisings is the oppression of the current regimes and the sickening squandering of the region’s wealth by a small, and corrupt elite.

So the bad news for the Plutocrats is, if things don’t turn things around, if there isn’t more accountability of them for they’re actions, and a more even distribution of wealth, they are running the serious risk of some western states descending into the sort of anarchy we say in the past (or indeed on the streets of Syria or Greece today). All the money in the world will not save you from a lynch mob!

In case of Emergency – break glass
So where does Cameron sit with all of this? While he made all the noises we’d expect him to make, as with the Murdoch scandals, or Jimmy Carr’s tax dodging….oh! he’s shocked!…incensed even!….is he going to do anything about it?….You’re joking right!

I think it was telling that Cameron began talking this weekend of an EU referendum. Of course he was very non specific, no exact details, no timetable, etc. As I’ve previously pointed out the Tory leadership know it would be a disaster for the UK leaving the EU, and for starters the Lib dems would never agree to such a referendum, so they’d be essentially provoking a general election by trying to get one. But they also know it play’s well with certain xenophobic’s within their party and pushes the media’a buttons (in particular, the rightwing media).

In truth this is the equivalent of emergency spin doctoring. By David Cameron talking about a EU referendum, he knew that this would knock all this Barclay’s stuff off the front pages, giving time for things to settle down. You can expect more stuff about Immigrants and bashing those on welfare in the coming days as well.