The DIY Austerity Experiment You Can Do!

Destination_DIY_logoDuring economic recession should a country increase spending or impose austerity?  So who is right in all this?  Economists have been fighting over this for centuries and still we have no answer.  Surely it must be simple?  Do we get out of a recession by cutting spending or increasing spending?  In the post war years Keynes led the way with massive investment programs and there followed the greatest improvement in the lives of working people since mankind was capable of judging such matters.  Friedman and his jolly cohorts then made inroads in the 1970s and Thatcher and Reagan implemented his demented thinking.  The fall of communism in 1990 removed any remaining need for restraint on the part of right-wing zealots and it has been a slippery slide for the 99% ever since.

The Nobel Prize for Economics is not one of the original prizes

The Nobel Prize for Economics is not one of the original prizes

austerityIf economists decorated with Nobel prizes and adept at advanced mathematics have failed to figure this out, then you may think you have no chance of doing so.  But I beg to differ. Get ready to make a difference to the history of mankind!  This is what you need to do:

 

  1. Next time you lose your job (say tomorrow) then just go home and stay there.
  2. Instruct the rest of your family to do the same.
  3. While sitting at home don’t do anything other that eat enough crap to survive and follow the instructions below.
  4. Get the Monopoly game box that’s been lying in the attic since cable TV, ADHD and Smart Phones were invented.
  5. Remove all the Monopoly money and discard the box.
  6. Decide that you could use this Monopoly money for splitting up household tasks equally among family members.
  7. Read about Milton Friedman and change your mind.
  8. Do not cook, clean, decorate, wash, or care for your elderly parents or handicapped kid – all this costs money.
  9. If forced by the Job Centre to go for a job interview do not repair or wash your clothes before attending aforesaid interview
  10. If you need food or need transport to travel to an interview that would require real money then borrow this money from the IMF or World or European Bank or other loan shark.
  11. Promise aforementioned banks or loan sharks that you will cut even further back on the use of Monopoly money at home in order to pay them back at some time in the future with the great riches you are sure to reap from your austerity plan.
  12. If great riches are not materializing, cut back further, remove food from aged parents and handicapped kid (they can’t fight back). Tell them we’re all in it together. Rinse and repeat.
  13. Bonus feature: Why not use any excess money you may be lumbered with to start a fight with a random neighbour on the other side of town?  Preferably one with an oil well in his garden.
Posted in Economics, Ethics, Poverty, United Kingdom | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Any Random Therapy – the Ultimate Psychotherapy?

If you bother to take a look at Wikipedia’s list of psychotherapies you will find a rather impressive number of them. More so when you think there’s an even greater number of less official therapies hiding behind the self-improvement and quack banners or under the more esoteric philosophy or psychology labels.  And then you have special diets, exercises, religions, crystals, and anything else you may stumble across.  Let’s list some psychotherapies here to fill space:

  • Abreaction therapy
  • Adventure therapy
  • Attack therapy
  • Brief psychotherapy
  • Contemplative psychotherapy
  • Dance therapy
  • Future-oriented therapy
  • Nude psychotherapy
  • Primal Integration
  • Vegetotherapy
  • Wilderness therapy
682px-Marcus_Aurelius_Louvre_MR561_n01

Marcus Aurelius looking a bit pale

Now you would think that all psychotherapies have the intention of bring balance, peace and contentment to troubled souls, so what does it mean that there are so many psychotherapies all competing with each other for the chance to cure your ails?  Why would you choose one over another?  If I’m feeling run down how can I or a kind GP whether I need to indulge in Dance Therapy or just rip my clothes of and get Nude and talk seriously with another naked person.  Or run off into the Wilderness?  Now I am sure that the majority of these therapies (and self-improvement programs and diets and religions) are well meaning.  Probably the founders have put a great deal of enthusiasm into the development.  But what are they bringing to the table that the others didn’t?  Does anyone really have anything to add to what the Hindu’s knew 3000 years ago, or what Marcus Aurelius jotted down 2000 years ago?

Why is there after all these thousands of years still a steady stream of self-help books and new therapies?  How naive are we to think that after 3000 years the next flavour of the month, buy-one-get-one-free book we pick up while waiting for our flight is going to be the one that changes our lives forever?  The one that will remove those nagging doubts, that sense of apathy, disillusionment and discontent that rise regularly for no apparent reason?

random-therapy

The solution?  I propose the one therapy to rule them all – Any Random Therapy [(C) 2015 – Former Dundee Man].  Any Random Therapy (or A-RanT for short) is an umbrella over every therapy, philosophy and self-improvement guide that ever was and ever will be. Any Random Therapy says there’s some value in every one of these well meaning practices and to be honest it doesn’t really matter one iota which one you choose so long as you do it wholeheartedly and carry a sense of hope into the exercise.  To quote the great philosopher and tunneler Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption: “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”  So as you lug that new 500 page tome out of the airport book store, ready to fly it thousands of miles back to a place on the shelf, unread, alongside all the others you bought over the years, remember it’s the hope it temporarily instilled that made the purchase worthwhile (and not forgetting the the latest Stephen King novel you also picked up as part of the buy-one-get-one-free deal).

Any Random Therapy removes the need to study and carefully select a therapy from the multitude of offerings – a process which in itself causes needless stress and worry. Any Random Therapy simply allocates you with a random sub-therapy from the boat loads of existing therapies or a new one that you or your Any Random Therapist just invented.  Once the benefits and novelty of a certain sub-therapy wear off you simply select another.   No need to fret about looking flighty and insecure, hopping from one therapy to another, because you are a loyal follower of one single therapy: Any Random Therapy.  You’ve stuck with the program.  You know it makes sense and you’ve staked your sense of self to it.  A person who lives with purpose and confidence is half way there (don’t ask where there is).

mans-search-for-meaningOf course one will eventually understand that there are so many therapies out there because the creation and nurturing of a new therapy or self-help program is in its self the ultimate form of therapy.  Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy nails this with its concentration camp inspired “Man’s Search for Meaning” philosophy which essentially boils down to “with a strong enough why we can survive any how”.  So what can be a greater Why than the creation of a new psychotherapy that will finally save mankind from its self and from destroying the planet?

Any Random Therapy’s jewel in the crown is “Therapy Therapy”.  What the hell is that?  It means you enter a therapy program with the intention of creating a new therapy and becoming its chief evangelist.  Therapy Therapy provides all the tools you’ll need:

  • Clothes.  From shiny suit to woolly body warmer, we have it all
  • Persona – overconfident, smug bastard or smirking wise old man, we’ll help you develop your character
  • Dental treatment for that blinding dazzle
  • Buzzword and acronym generator apps for Android and iPhone
  • Automatic website builder
  • Third world sweatshop based ghost book writer
  • Webcam based 6 DVD boxset movie maker software with teleprompter
  • Twitter follower booster
  • Disciple recruitment drive
  • Franchise system – spread your message around the world
  • Legal advice

Don’t know about you, but I am feeling much better all ready!

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Our Society is Run by Junkies (and don’t kid yourself)

society-addictIs society increasingly dominated by people who are for all intents and purposes junkies?  Look at the evidence.  How do our business leaders and our politicians behave?  From a review of the 1992 book When Society Becomes an Addict by Anne Wilson Schaef:

Many politicians behave like addicts,as they are hooked on control, promising things will get better(but they do not), denying problems and denying alternative ways of doing things.

Let’s break this down:

  1. Hooked on control: how often do politicians, bankers, business men resign or take full responsibility for anything when something goes wrong?
  2. Promising things will get better: we’re all in it together.  It will be tough for a time but all hard working people will benefit in the future. Just give us another 5 years and we’ll master the deficit and bring economic growth.
  3. Denying problems: Climate change is not really that big a problem.  Loss of manufacturing is not an issue; service sector jobs can take its place.  All problems are down to Muslims, global changes (that will be for the best long run), work shy immigrants, handicapped and unemployed.
  4. thatcher-tinaDenying alternative ways of doing things: only economic growth, nuclear weapons, nuclear power, oil, austerity, invading other countries, privatisation, class division, and an old boys network can lead to a better future. Thatcher famously said: There Is No Alternative (TINA).

And then on the personal level we have people addicted to speed.  No not the drug, but the lifestyle.  Be on-line, contactable 24/7.  Post shite on Twitter and Facebook incessantly and check on other peoples’ shite.  It’s 09:18 and I am here.  It’s 09:19 and I am there.  It’s 09:20 and…  Look at me.  I exist.  I make noise.  I consume.  Race for some target somewhere.  Oh damn the local supermarket actually closes on Christmas Day.  What are we going to do?  We’ll starve.  Let’s go at 3am the day before.  How did people survive before mobile phones, internet and 24 hour a day open stores?

Dotonbori_19Exams are hard.  Universities are funded according to results.  Make the exams easier.  Society of people who know very little, can do very little, but with pumped up egos and attitude fueled by Red Bull and a complicit, rampant self-improvement industry.  Want to be a champion, a leader?  Or do you just want to be some hopeless also ran?  Seek out some motivation hip hop video on YouTube and drag your sorry carcass to the gym at 5am (do any gyms open at 5am or is that only in the self-improvement books?).  Go to the gym and workout even if you do not feel like it.  Feel?  Don’t waste time feeling.  Down another Red Bull, pop another Ritalin and charge on.  Make decisions quickly.  Don’t look back.  Don’t apologize.  Don’t expose any weakness.  You are the alpha male even if you’re female.  Be the man.

Environment and alternative energy is all very well for tree huggers, spiritual types, but the realistic among us need to stay focused on economic growth, jobs and the next election, next quarterly results.  Ayn Rand said people acting in their own self-interests is the best for the whole, and everyone who is anyone reads Ayn Rand.  The world is so full of complex nuances and infinite shades of grey, get lost in that and you’ll never appear strong.  Tough decisions call for tough leaders.

Depressed_(4649749639)Let’s keep running, chase the end of the rainbow for that pot of gold that awaits us.  Climb the ladder of success, salvation awaits.  Salvation takes the form of wealth, power, control, fame, a feeling of invulnerability and success.  You know like that hit, that rush, that dimming out of reality that most less socially acceptable forms of addition offer.

And when you ultimately fail to live up to these insane demands society places upon you, turn further into your addiction, or to another one.  Block out.  Deny.  Ignore.  Go back to the start.  Put your head down.  Charge on again. There Is No Alternative.

 

Posted in Economics, Ethics, Philosophy, Politics, United Kingdom | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

How did Overhead become more Important than Work?

labour-party-uk_454As a modern society we decide that there is a minimum standard of living and facilities that we are prepared to tolerate.  If we had not desired this then we’d all still be living in caves and chasing our food and gathering berries.  In more recent times we’ve refined the definition of an advanced society.  If we explore the basis of this then we could conclude that people have the right to safety, food, water, sanitation, warmth, medical assistance, shelter, comfort, companionship, children, purpose.  How do we supply these?  Via a system of law and law enforcement, farming, sewers, pipes, power generation, housing, hospitals, ability to live with family.  How do we arrange this?  Education, research, cooperative endeavors (government?), infrastructure design and maintenance, etc.  If we want medicine and clean water we need to research and learn how to achieve these goals.  En route we need to learn how to build hospitals and reservoirs and pipes, and this requires engineering.

We are free to earn more on the side by making viral YouTube videos of cats flushing toilets, programming useless Apps, supplying phone-sex and a whole hoard of enriching endeavors with lottery scale odds of ever offering a return

too-big-to-failOf course to make engineering and these other things happen a system to facilitate the exchange of services and product must be devised and this is where money comes in.  A solid financial system will enable enough money to be present in the system when required and minimize corruption.  Furthermore we may also want to maintain some modicum of administration to ensure we keep track of what is going on and for future reference. Computers are good for such purposes, assisting those tasked with handling administration.  And some elected officials that will oversee the whole thing, like politicians.  I define this layer as being “overhead”.

What can conclusion can we rapidly draw from the above?  Finance and administration come at the bottom the list of priorities and are purely of service to the education, engineering, maintenance, training and all the other tasks that are at the front line of providing the safety, food, warmth, shelter, medicine, family that we’ve decided are of primary importance.  The world of commercial finance should ultimately be about efficiently connecting investors and those needing investment.

moodysSo why have the financiers and administrators (e.g. accountants, economists, bankers, politicians, computing specialists) – the Overhead – become the masters of the universe?  Those not part of this merry gang are being increasingly marginalized in many countries.  With the financial crash of 2007 (caused by reckless financiers and politicians) and the rise of austerity (advised by the same imbeciles) we see the victimization of immigrants, disabled, unemployed and now the growing swathes of employed who find themselves earning less than a living wage.  Even front line workers like nurses, cleaners, teachers, and security guards cannot earn enough to keep them above the poverty line – the line we as a society said we all deserve to live above.  If we are stupid enough to become a nurse, cleaner or teacher then it’s apparently our fault – caring professions are reward unto themselves and to manage we are free to earn more on the side by making viral YouTube videos of cats flushing toilets, programming useless Apps, supplying phone-sex and a whole hoard of enriching endeavors with lottery scale odds of ever offering a return.  But the servants of the servants – the financiers, the computer specialists, the politicians, the directors – are living ever more decadent, rarefied lives.  We’ve turned the whole pyramid of what defines a modern society upside down.  Everyone serves this select elite who in turn serve no one other than themselves.

Posted in Business, Economics, Ethics, Philosophy, Politics, Poverty, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Did you vote No? Actions Have Consequences

Actions have consequences. Decisions have consequences. There is no you and them. You cannot divide yourself from the world. In the Scottish referendum of September 2014 the majority of people made the decision to register to vote and do so in greater numbers than ever before. The failure to achieve independence was not a question of apathy. People registered, got off their backsides, tore themselves away from their X-Factor and turned up to vote.

Maybe the No Voters were comfortable enough off.  Maybe they did not want to rock the boat, risk what they had.  Austerity is tough on many people, but the No voter’s have still got their pension (Gordon said so) and they have their jobs and if they live off savings and borrowings then their lifestyle stays relatively unaffected.  And they don’t personally use much of the services that are being dismantled.  They’re not sick or disabled or unemployed.  And they don’t intend to be.  They’re all right.

A sheer lack of imagination – too much brain dead television and internet activity likely saw to that – and we have an inability to comprehend the scale of change in the United Kingdom.  A country lurching towards the right and horrendous inequality and injustice.

If the country goes to the dogs, no amount of head in sand, I’m all right Jack, borrowing and cheating is going to shield you from that.  Seeing your neighbourhood turn into a ghetto, seeing your kids’ future disintegrate, seeing foreign colleagues deported, seeing your every waking moment being monitored and recorded for your protection, please tell me how that has nothing to do with you and that you were just looking after yourself?

Actions have consequences.

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Holistic Politics vs That’s what you are, what am I?

Increasingly I despair when looking at politics. The average politician these days is a simpleton bully, the kind of moron you had at school who would keep yelling the same line over and over again until everyone else was battered down: “That’s what you are; what am I?”  A twerp?  “That’s what you are; what am I?”  A stuck record?  “That’s what you are; what am I?”  Oh, forget it.  “That’s what you are; what am I?”

IDS Yesteday

IDS Yesterday

Apparently Scottish Labour have better policies on women than SNP.  Apparently SNP have the weakest strategies in place on gender equality of the major Scottish parties when it comes to policies supporting women.  Of course what does this actually mean?  How is this evaluated?  Is it not a case of comparing some statements written on a manifesto somewhere?  Could it not be that SNP got side tracked and forgot to elaborate such points clearly enough?  Could it not be that the SNP were busy with other stuff like trying to save the whole country of Scotland and turning out a 700 page plan balancing everything from currency to war to economy to nuclear weapons to renewables to healthcare to education to oil to Europe?

victorian-slums

United Kingdom in the year 2020 – Scotland voted No!

The complete idiocy of comparing policies as if they were on a giant check list is that it’s fundamentally impossible to address any significant policy individually without considering the whole ecosystem?  So Scottish Labour scoring cheap points over SNP on women’s issues is insane because when the whole United Kingdom – that Labour ensured we remain part of – goes down the toilet and begins to resemble the Victorian era again, we’ll not be very concerned about what some irrelevant party has on a bullet list.

Free Dental Clinic in Los Angeles.  Welcome to the UK's future

Free Dental Clinic in Los Angeles. Welcome to the UK’s future

When the economy has gone to the dogs, when you are up to your ears in debt, when you’re homeless and on the street with your family, when you’re without human and worker rights, when education quality is dropping, when you need to go to a charity for healthcare, when you’re queuing at a charity backed food bank, when fracking pollutes the water and makes you sick, when radiation leaks from rusty submarines and cost optimized private nuclear power stations, when you exchange your right to vote for food and shelter, when you’ve lost every last scrap of human decency – then some bloody Labour policy on women’s rights is not going to make much of a damn difference.

I do not stop at the politicians.  The academics and journalists that evaluate and report on policies are also severely lacking in ability.  That supposedly intelligent people cannot think in a holistic way is frightening.  But then again is it surprising?  Weighing up countless factors and drawing conclusions on how they all influence each other is hard work and, in a world with little patience for more than a quick sound bite, is liable to leave you sounding wishy-washy and uncertain.  Ultimately it’s much easier to just shout: “That’s what you are; what am I?”  Over and over again.

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Parpcaster – From Broke to $1Billion IPO in 6 months

From its humble beginnings in a student dorm room just six months ago, Parpcaster.com has come a long way.  The new darling of the financial markets, this upstart British based technology company is set to sweep the world stage, treading in the footsteps of the likes of Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.

parpcaster-full

The premise: make use of the universal language of sound for a truly global communication medium.  Parpcaster’s founder and CEO David H. Tanenboom was becoming frustrated by the limitations of Twitter’s 140 character basis.  This was compounded when trying to connect with people unable to speak a common language.  That’s when it became clear to Tanenboom that a less restrictive and more natural means of communicating via social media was required.

“Snapchat was just stupid and Twitter was becoming passée.  Young people were finding it increasingly difficult to get their thoughts out of their heads in 140 characters,” says the spirited 22 year old. “Let’s face it words are complicated and can have different meanings for different people.  One night I accidentally Skyped a man in Burma … I don’t know what he was saying but from his rather desperate screams I could still empathize with him.  From here the idea was born and I began programming, pulling all-nighters and maxing out my credit cards until version 0.1 of Parpcaster was up and running.”

Parpcaster definitely comes from the same primordial gunk as Twitter.  Users sign up for free accounts.  Users can have an avatar and basic profiles.  However instead of Tweets, users make Parps.  A parp is a short noise – typically a few seconds.  The user can record Continue reading

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