Zombie Economy

First there was the insane decision to cancel a loan to Sheffield Forgemasters (deferring it may have been justified, cancelling was not), then another to favour Siemens over a British consortium for the Thameslink trains contract; now comes news of 3,000 job cuts in aerospace engineering at BAE Systems, the defence contractor.

The UK economy is supposed to be moving away from debt-fuelled consumption to export led growth, a formula for recovery virtually all economists and politicians agree is the only way to rebuild. Most of the news however seems to be a grim mix of retrenchment and continued deindustrialisation, a process which has been going on sinceMargaret Thatcher’s destruction of the traditional industries in the 1980s

True enough, immediately after the Great Contraction of 2008 industrial production appeared to recover quite swiftly. With the pound once more trading at levels low enough to give British factories a competitive edge, there was even talk of …

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Conflicting Views On The Economic Recovery

Nobody seems to know what is going on in the global economy. Take these two articles on the state of the recovery:

UK Economy Records Fastest Growth In Nine Years (The Guardian)

The British economy grew at the fastest pace in nearly a decade in the second quarter, higher than initially estimated, thanks to a pick-up in the construction industry and strong consumer spending.

The Office for National Statistics’ second estimate for the second quarter showed GDP rose 1.2% between April and June, the fastest growth since …

On the other hand:

Stock Markets Face A Bloodbath (Daily Telegraph)
Investors should brace themselves for an equities “bloodbath” and a further fall in bond yields when the current excessive optimism propping up the market seeps away, Albert Edwards, a strategist at Société Générale, has warned.
Mr Edwards said there was too much hope among investors, with excessive valuations in the US, but predicted it would come to an end in the coming months as economic data increasingly pointed to a double-dip recession.

“Equity investors are in for a rude shock. The global economy is sliding back into recession and they are still not even aware that these events will trigger …

The optimism of the left which credits the Labour government with saving the economy thanks to their wise and far sighted fiscal management is a little overstated. Do not forget that Labour printed money equivalent to 10% of GDP and pumped it into the economy to secure growth of just 1.5%.

It is true the economy is growing now but people had to start spending again sometime. We should also remember that although the economy is grpwing is is running behond inflation so in real terms is still contracting.

On the other hand reports that the global economy is sliding back into recession are based on evidence that the US economy is heading for a double dip recession.

Though the American economy is big it is not the global driving force it once was so perhaps we should focus less on what is happening across the pond or maybe direst our attention to the Canadian and southern banks and leave the USA to reap the biter harvest of their unbridled consumerism and sense of entitlement.

The party is over, the good times are gone. We must learn to put aside wants and focus on needs.

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History Today #1

“There are two overriding objections to modern culture’s eagerness to put labels on people. The first is that, often intentionally and sometimes merely carelessly, a label diminishes the complexity, nuance and uncertainty of the person on whom it is stuck. The second is that the label provides a lazy excuse to stop thinking about what the neatly labelled person is actually saying.”

With No Common Culture A Common History Is Impossible

Martin Kettle make a argument for teaching an English history curriculum instead of framing our children’s historical knowledge within the distorted and totally inaccurate narrative of Martin Luther King and the U. S. civil rights movement which has little to do with British history.

The Peterloo Massacre, the Napoleonic Wars and the birth of the Trade Union movement are British history so why erase these things but retain a very subjective view of slavery in the USA?

We must decide it is time to say, “Look, this stuff happened, it was a long time ago and nobody involved is still alive. Get over it.

GET THE CONTROVERSIALIST POINT OF VIEW EVERY DAY AT tHE DAILY sTIRRER

The new American Fascism

Little Nicky is back – it has been a difficult few months but we will keep up regular posts now even if most of them relate to articles on other blogs.

The first is from a source that might surprise some people. Throughout 2008 while watching the American election unfold I found that I, a British news junkie whose politcs are classical liberal socially and a democratic socialist economically, had more in common with some well informed commentators of the American enlightened right than with the U.S. Democrats. Well I’m not a fan of politically correct thinking, feel that “affirmative action” is an injustice – and two injustices do not make justice in fact to be honest I can’t quite forgive the “east coast Liberals” among the US Democrats for working so hard to raise funds for the IRA. While I supported the cause of a united Ireland the methods used by some organisations to try and achieve that goal were abhorrent.
(Equally abhorrent were the tactics of the “loyalists” of course)

Anyway I had a lot more sympathy with the stuff people like Jeff Schreiber of America’s Right blog were saying and writing than I did with either the rantings of the Rabid Right or followers of the cult of The Obamessiah. As criticism of Barack Obama was (and still is) not tolerated on many left leaning American sites I stopped visiting and read blogs that were well informed, balanced and well written even if I did not agree with many of the ideas expressed.

Today Jeff introduced a guest writer who gave probably the best and most insightful analyses of the economic crisis in America, it’s causes and and likely outcomes.

The writer identifies a worrying trend hidden behind the mask of globalisation, a tend that I have noticed and commented on many times here. He describes it as The New Supra American Fascism, an aspect of a global hegemony and the national bureaucratic dictatorships that transcends national and cultural boundaries and is taking away out civic freedoms and through educational policies that lead to dumbing down and social policies that increasingly isolate us and fragment traditional communities is paving the way for a new authoritarianism that rules not through the agency of jackbooted thugs but through control of information.

More from Ian, in a slightly less strident tone: Humanitas

Are Degrees really the panacea they are claimed to be Devaluation by Degrees

and in silly mode: Graduate? Unemployed? Become a McPrentice

Education – Don’t Write Off The New Diploma An educationalist defends the new apprenticeship / diploma scheme and rightly so too. It heralds a long overdue return to relevance in preparation for the workplace.

And don’t forget Boggart Blog for the best in satire

Honour Killing? Honour My Arse.

The most shocking news story this week has been that of the honour killing inquest. Though it is clear a young British girl (let’s not forget this is a British schoolgirl we are talking about) was murdered either by or at the command of members of her own family, probably because of a friendship with a boy not approved of by her father and brothers.

What the hearing has uncovered is that there are several such killings each year, that are known of. This excludes the British girls of Asian families who refuse an arranged marriage and are shipped off to the ancestral homeland and simply never seen by their British friends again.

It is easy to point the finger at one religion here, but religions tend to be tribal in their nature and most ancient mythologies, including European paganism, include a story in which the primary God asks a leader to sacrifice their own child to save the tribe from destruction. Myths are not meant to be read literally however, and the symbolism is clear, that sometimes we are going to have to choose between self interest and the good of the community. Personal honour does not enter into it.

Unfortunately the three Abrahamic religions do have this foolish tendency to read their “holy scriptures,” in all cases a hotch potch of myths culled from other cultures and silly fairy stories invented to make the God of these religions look good. In the more extreme forms of these religions, great emphasis is put on the necessity of “putting god first,” in other words placing more importance on kissing god’s arse than on doing the decent and human thing.

Now if we all carried on by killing our daughters because they dishonoured us and our families by having flings with totally inappropriate boys, believe me there would be very few women over twenty five in the world (and most of them mingers.) But most of us, be we Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist or Atheist do not carry on like that. We support our children, tolerate their follies and are always on hand with a big tube of Ego-stik to put them back together when they are in pieces. This is because most of us are not ruled by religion. As William Blake or someone of that era said, “Religion wages war on human nature.”

So if that young woman from Warrington is to be granted justice and we are to continue to call ourselves a civilised nation, we must now bring religions (including Scientology and other American crackpot cults) under the scrutiny of the law. Under British law nobody should be pressured to dress in a way they do not wish to, nobody should be pressured into marrying somebody they do not want to, nobody should be controlled or brainwashed by religious authority figures and we should never as a nation be willing to accept “you don’t understand our religion” as an excuse for lawbreaking.

Some of my friends have argued the case for religious freedom in the past. It’s a fine principle but the problem is once religionists are granted freedom, they immediately use it to restrict the freedom of their followers. In our zeal to protect the rights and freedoms of monority groups, it seems we often allow ourselves to be suckered into protecting the righs and freedoms of those who think they have a right to abuse others. Where is the honour in that?

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Beat The Rail Fare Increases

The main thrust of this blog has always been towards exposing the dishonesty, self serving duplicity and hypocrisy of Bog Gov. and Big Corp. But it is time to widen our horizons somewhat and get involved in the fightback.
Our first effort in this direction is a follow up to the post about rail fare increases from a couple of days ago.
Now the excuse for raising fares above the inflation rate is that it will combat overcrowding on public transport. And the excuse for whacking up taxes on fuel, stealth taxes such as congestion charges and plain and simple taxes that attack personal liberty such as road tolls is that it encourages people to use public transport; thus providing an excuse for more punitive fare increases – they don’t really think we’re that stupid do they? (Panto like response from punters – “oh yes they do.”)
OK, I’ll take you word for it. So let’s shaft them.

First plan your journey well in advance. If you can book six weeks in advance there are plenty of reasonable fares available.

If you are a regular rail users get a season ticket. No matter if you are not a commuter, a typical example of the lunacy is that the shortest journey for which a season ticket is available is the half mile trip between two stations in Ryde, Isle of Wight. This will set you back just over £100 and such a season ticket can be purchased at any station in the UK or through ticket agencies. You never go to the Isle of Wight? No matter, the fact that you are a season ticket holder entitles you to 30% discount on your other fares so if you Manchester or Leeds to London once a month on business you’re quids in.

The shambolic way privatisation was cocked up has thrown up many anomalies in the fare structure. For example, it is often cheaper to split your journey while never leaving the train you first board. A bit of careful planning is involved but if your train goes all the way from , say, London to Manchester instead of paying the standard £109.50, choose the right train and you can book London to Milton Keynes (£20.30) and Milton Keynes to Manchester (£73.) Total £93.30.
There are hundreds of similar savings to be had. Use the links provided below to find nationwide information.

moneysavingexspert has a comprehensive guide to best value season tickets and one off fares.

megatrain.com – low cost intercity travel

barrydoe.plus.com (independent travel consultant) this site guides you through the labyrinth of fares, off peak discounts, zoning etc.

an insiders guide to cheap rail ticketsis a simpler guide to the most useful savings

http://www.thetrainline.com is a good resource for comparing fares and train times.

http://www.nationalrail.co.uk provides official information to help with journey planning.

Transport Union TSSA has highlighted that rail travellers in the UK pay 55p per mile between London and Manchester while a journey from Paris to Calais costs 17p per mile. So much for the Government’s green claims. The primary consideration? As usual ITS THE MONEY.

Now avoid those nice friendly convenient ticket machines. They lack the means to sell you the cheapest ticket. Go and wake up the ticket vendor sitting behind the little window. Oh sure, some of them might be surly and unhelpful jobsworths whose grim visage would turn vinegar sour, but a lot are jolly, as helpful as the regulations allow and glad to have somebody polite and knowledgeable to talk to.
You see they are not allowed to advise on the cheapest way to make your journey, their bosses don’t pay them to help customers save money. Oh no, as with any bureaucracy the 42 factor rules. If you don’t ask the right question the answer will not make much sense. But if you have done your homework there are bargains to be had.

Sometimes its cheaper to pay for a longer journey than you plan to make. Anyone going from London to Carlisle (well someone must go to Carlisle!) will save money if they buy a London to Glasgow ticket. There’s no way they can make you go to Glasgow.

So now you have an insight into the craziness of the railway system, just go out there and take advantage of them. The links provided above will lead you to much more detailed information on how to demand the most economical prices.

Talk to Tom Paine about the Army Mutiny.

It seems in his decrepitude the great libertarian agitator and free thinker Tom Paine has become a TORY.

Yes, over on his blog The Last Ditch which is billed as being about the death of liberty in Britain, Tom is slagging off the honourable and decent Army officer who has spoken out on behalf of his men against the idiotic and self serving policies of the TRAITOR Tony Blair.
The imposter Paine who writes the blog seems to think the nation will be plunged into a constitutional crisis if the WAR CRIMINAL AND MASS MURDERER BLAIR does not sack the General.

LITTLE NICK MACHIAVELLI say the General is right, the principle duty of an army officer abroad is to the safety and wellbeing of his men. Constitutional crisis my arse, if Blair does try to sack Sir Richard he could well have a military mutiny on his hands.

You can join the debate with Little Nicky at The Last Ditch