A thought for the summer…

H’mm.  Last post in May.  So the resolutions didn’t work…  Trouble is, life gets in the way of blogging.  Work, home, family, on-line games… it’s just too much…  So, you techies out there, time for some inventiveness.  I need an avatar.  Or several.  Best would be if I could send one off to work to earn money for me, another to do the garden, argue with the wife and beat the kids occasionally, and another to take over playing with all those annoyingly addictive on-line things that I currently waste my time on.  Then I’d have time to post a few blogs and twits.

So, where’s the world gone in the last few months?

The Southern Front.

To hell in a handcart springs to mind.  For a while it looked as if the ‘rebels’ would win, but that was before they started killing one another.  Perhaps Gadaffi had a point after all!  Still, it’s beginning to look as if his days are numbered and, despite his protestations, there are signs that he’s gearing up for a smart exit.  I’m not sure I’d want to wave a green flag after he’s gone…

And, of course, shock-horror, NATO have killed civilians.  Well, what a surprise!  If you throw enough ordnance at a country, however well intentioned, bystanders are going to get hurt (especially if the targets hide behind civilians).  The whole concept of a ‘stand-off’ war was unrealistic to begin with.  You can’t pick the bad guys out of a crowd from an aeroplane or from a control centre a thousand miles away.  You have to be in the crowd with him and get to look him in the eye.  That’s why we still need the grunts on the ground.  Defence cuts, anyone?

A Farewell to space.

So the last, final, definitively ultimate Space Shuttle launch (and landing) has come… and gone.  America has withdrawn from space and surrendered it to the Russians.  Or maybe the Chinese, as they’re still playing space games.

Oh, dear.  It’s too risky/expensive/unglamorous and, anyway, we’ve still got some rag-heads to kill.  Never mind, we’ll hitch a ride with the Russians.  And what when we need to service our vital military systems and the Russians say “Sorry, Sam, no room at the Space Inn?”.  Oops.  The kit’s up there and we’re down here.  OK, so we can still launch a new one, or two, but, effectively, we’ve just taken a step back from the front-line and joined the reserves.  To the bold go the rewards.  Of course, we could just be biding our time waiting for Russia to go bust, then there there won’t be anyone at all in space.  Oh, except, maybe, the Chinese.  Won’t it be nice to have such a friendly, democratic power filled with concern for human well-being (especially ours) alone up there…

Financial meltdown

‘Recession?  What recession?  Let’s just create a bit more Quantitative Easing’  I.e ‘Let’s print some more money’!  The simple economic fact is that, in a capitalist society, the more there is of any item, the less those items are worth.  This applies to money the same as everything else.  So, create more, devalue what’s already out there.  –> Inflation.

Trouble is, it looks good on the balance sheet:  “Last year the Government had X billion dollars-worth of assets.  This year, it’s got X+N billion dollars worth of assets.”  That’s got to be good, hasn’t it?  Well, yes and no.  Yes for them if we believe their simplistic accounting, no for us, as the money they create devalues what we’ve got in our assets.  Effectively, QE takes money from us and hands it to the government.  OK, so it’s not a lot, is it?  Assuming you have your mattress stuffed with currency, and prices rise by 5% pa for 10 years, prices will have risen by 62% and you will only be able to buy about 40% as much with your money.  Hence you’ve just given 60% of your cash assets to the Government.  Of course, it’s not quite that simple, since some assets hold their value (like houses – at least until recently) but, generally, inflation is bad for most of us.

So, is Capitalism a flawed philosophy?  You bet it is!  It results in more and more gravitating to fewer and fewer.  This is fine as long as our lot improves too, and it has over the centuries.  But it has its limits.  Once it reaches a certain point we return to the age of serfdom and bonded labour.  Unfortunately, capitalism is not a suitable system given the human propensity for unbounded greed.

Right.  Let’s adopt Communism.  From all according to his ability, to all according to his need.  All men equal.  Fair distribution of wealth.  Controlled economy.  No inflation, fair shares for all.  Sounds great, doesn’t it.  USSR?  China?  H’mm.  Not so great.  No ‘profit’, no incentive.  Massive inefficiency, false accounting to meet targets.  Laziness and… greed.  Power flows into a few hands and those hands grab it and use it to their own benefit.  To (mis) quote Douglas Adams – “Anyone who wants to rule the Universe mustn’t be allowed to!”

Parliamentary/Constitutional Democracy?  ‘Gimme a break’.  What opinion do we have of our politicians?  What reputation have they earned?  Every four or five years they come to us, promise us the Earth, and we believe them.  We put them in office and they ignore us and feather their own nests until it’s time to come back to us and offer excuses – there are always excuses, some of them even good excuses – and more promises: and we believe them again!  Are we stupid, or what?

So, what’s the answer.  We haven’t considered all options yet:  Anarchy?  Nice in theory, but I wouldn’t want to live there.  Fascism?  At least they made the trains run on time…  Buddhism:  Better, but no Lotus.  It only really works if everyone gives up all desire for worldly possessions, and there’s that greed again…

So what are we left with?  Nothing really works, for everyone and all the time.  So maybe we’re left with QE and other bumbling ad-hoc fixes.  Maybe this is the best of all possible worlds.  How depressing is that?

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