British Californication; Brexit Lexit Decorum.

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Stolen from The Guardian

Londoners are reeling from the recent reminder that that they’re still part of the amorphous, wobbly shambles called Britain. Secession! NOW!

What began (surely) as a joke has morphed into a genuine claim. ‘Set London free!’ cried Mayor Sadiq Khan. Let’s leave Britain! London is an economic powerhouse saddled with a parasitic nation of feckless dolts

Well, he’s right, but also wrong. London is the beating heart of Britain’s most recent form of expansionism, kicked off by Maggie Thatcher in the mid 80s.

Forget sweaty colonial countries that hammer on your door long after you’ve sucked them dry. No! Maggie Thatcher’s newly remodelled British economy was a British expansionism you could enjoy in the comfort of your own home, without the indignity of having to translate ‘Hob Nob’ into Foreign. It was the dawn of a new age of neoliberalism, dominated by the newly deregulated financial markets.

Manufacturing and heavy industry: BAD

Financialisation of capital: GOOD

As we all know, the neoliberal era, dominated by speculative capital, has changed he nature of business. Labour market elasticity/precarity, declining worker conditions, capital flight – are all characteristics of the dominant neoliberal model. I won’t crap on about them here.

Now, let’s consider ‘Lexit’:

In 2014, the Financial Times reported that “barely 7 per cent of all tax paid by London’s residents and businesses is retained by its mayor and boroughs, compared with 50 per cent in New York.” The Independent.

This sums it up nicely, (even though the comparison with New York is meaningless – you can draw those lines wherever you like). But the main idea – that London earns the taxes while Britain spends them – is the kicker.

Tax is ‘spent’ on people who aren’t participating full time in the workforce – children, old people and the underemployed (ignoring all the tax spent on other essential infrastructure). All these people contribute to London’s existence. Who cleans your office, couriers your documents, slaughters your organic chicken or fixes your lights? Working class people do, while old people and other working class people look after their kids. The underemployed working class, revolving in and out of the workforce, provide London’s labour market elasticity.

London’s Mayor is asking for the next step in a seemingly natural process of wealth partition and consolidation – to identify wealth creation as natural and relegate the costs as externalities. Stigmatising the elastic workforce (welfare bashing, anti-immigrant racism) is just cost containment, a simple way to keep the associated costs down. Providing money to these ‘unproductive’ people is framed as social justice, not as an economic necessity. People, we are told, have a right to ‘welfare support’, but only as charity, not because it’s the cheapest way to maintain their position as an essential part of the economy.

Silicon Valley had a crack at this. In the 90s Silicon valley developed into a type of enclave economy, dripping with venture capital, innovation and technology. It was a high wage, high cost economy. Too high, as it turned out. The missing ‘second tier’ of the economy is populated by teachers, cleaners, nurses and economists. Silicon valley ran out of them pretty fast.

I’m still surprised by the common complaints about Silicon valley from those who’re at the top of the chain – it’s too expensive, there isn’t enough childcare or other services, housing is impossible, transport is fucked. These problems are infinitely solvable, especially with the amount of money washing around. And yet they persist. It always strikes me as funny that there is more than just an absence of services – the things that make life, life. There’s an absence of public imagination about what they might look like – a collective memory loss. Sure, Silicon valley is still there, but it’s being hindered by its lack of infrastructure.

The consolidation of wealth will always hit a tipping point, the point at which its becomes unsustainable. Dutch disease and Californication are examples where the concentration of wealth hinders the production of wealth. Londoners have lost sight of this fact, nourished by a fear of the unwashed. They’ve swallowed the fanciful idea that Britain writ large is nothing more than a lumbering parasite on an otherwise nimble host. The working class are just a bunch of wall-eyed dolts, putting the ‘lumpen’ in proletariat – an irrelevant, rent seeking inconvenience.

I say bring it on. Fuck off London, let’s see how long you last.

 

 

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Nothing is true until it’s not

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The Orlando shooting was an attack on a gay nightclub by just another lone wolf loseroo.

Except it wasn’t. According to Andrew Bolt, it was motivated by some kind of fundy-Islam brain-fart, which is quite naturally being covered up by apologist mainstream media. Pay attention, paranoiacs! This guy was not just another regular American mass murderer taking advantage of the buy-one-get-one-free-at Costco. No, he was a Muslim extremist! It’s all a cover up! Argh Argh!

Thank you Mr Bolt, you can go now.

Not long later however, the mainstream, apologist media did in fact report the gunman’s Islamic rantings. Turns out that checking your story involves a little more than just sitting down at your laptop and letting Angry-Ted hammer out the details. FYI Mr Bolt.

The gunman’s family was interrogated, his mental health questioned and previous Federal investigations into his rambling, bad-tempered, not very serious threats were rehashed as damningly portentous.*

That was until someone else piped up and suggested that maybe he wasn’t entirely motivated by radical Islamist thinking. Maybe he was motivated by just a regular, garden variety, patriotic hatred of gay people. You know, like the hardcore, violent prejudice that drives other hate crimes against the US LGBT community, a prejudice incubated by religious fundamentalism, no, no, the other one: Christianity.

Let’s be clear here, this was an attack against the gay community, we just can’t be sure which fundamentalism to blame, the ‘good’ one or the ‘bad’ one.

 

*NB. As an exercise, read any post at random on this blog. Now imagine I’ve done something dreadful. Now read it again. HOW COULD WE HAVE LET THIS WOMAN LOOSE WITH CUSTARD AND/OR A PLASMA CUTTER???? HAS SOCIETY GONE MAD? Now repeat the same exercise on Andrew Bolt’s blog. I know. And yet there he is, free to roam the streets.

 

 

 

 

 

Homeowners lament life on Earth

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-pic from ABC News

Battlers in one of Sydney’s wealthiest suburbs, Collaroy, have lamented the government’s disregard for damage to their properties, following storms that left some residents without the ability to swim in their own pool.

‘What is the point in even having a pool to swim in if the ocean beside it is going to take it away?’ said Lenora of Collaroy Beach, adding that her husband, Tony, had been a member of the Pittwater Sailing Club for 35 years.

On top of that, many residents are dealing with the news that insurance companies will not cover damage due to existence on the planet. In a statement, the Insurance Council of Australia said;

“People often think insurance exists to compensate for damage due to known risks, and that premiums will scale in accordance with that risk. This is simply incorrect. Insurance is simply a direct transfer of wealth from policy holders to share holders.”

For Tony and Lenora of Collaroy Beach, this news is especially galling. As shareholders in three of Australia’s biggest insurance companies, they are left with little choice but to spend two thirds of their quarterly dividend on repairing their beachfront property.

“It’ll be a struggle, but at least no lives were lost and the patio is largely intact.”

Toorak calling…

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 10.13.25 AM.pngLa Trobe University hit rock bottom last week, suspending academic Roz Ward for deviating from the vapid political fuckspeak that now passes for public discourse in this country. Ward raised the ire of the burghers of Toorak with a passing joke about a Marxist Australian flag. Ever concerned with the opinions of right wing voters, La Trobe suspended Ward immediately and suggested she atone for her un-Australian behaviour by placing some children in a concentration camp or beating a man almost to death with an iron bar.

Let’s be clear….

Academics have the right to say what they like in the private domain, and should be able to speak their minds in the public, even if it makes Murray and Genevieve choke on their All Bran. As a nation we are being herded into an echo-chamber of venal, neutered political speech where public utterances are little more than a duplicate of the Lifestyle section of The Age.

It’s boring, offensive and dangerous. And it’s counter-productive. Every now and then normal people reach a tipping point and vote for some reactionary lunatic just for a change of scenery (that’s exactly my campaign platform b.t.w).

Australians need to talk openly, with each other, a lot, about everything. We are on the verge of a catastrophic environmental, social and economic spit-roast and this frantic, empty hand- wringing is nothing more than a heavily sponsored diversion.

And if that means that a small bunch of self-interested politicians and intellectual pit-ponies suffer a bout of confected ‘outrage’ then….WAAAAAA.