Extreme Capitalism is a Plague on Britain and America

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/03/world/europe/as-the-working-poor-become-more-common-in-britain-so-does-hunger.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&ref=europe

 

KKDC
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/04/business/international/unemployed-in-e…

The news kind of explains the issue – not the whole issue per se, but a substantial part. People need to realize technology advances at a very fast pace, so fast that it kills other technologies that were considered stupendous even 5 years ago. Gone are those days of secretarial, legal or administrative jobs.

So what’s the safe bet? Jobs in STEM fields will never die. It’s surprising the so-called advanced western nations were caught napping off guard while developing countries took steps to fill in the gap. Problem is, in the last decade the gap became so immense, the developed nations are finding it very hard to catch up, they will eventually, but in the course they lost a decade.

As a owner of a nanotechnology company, I am as frustrated as the job seekers. While job seekers complain not being hired even if they have a degree (in STEM), we technocrats are frustrated with the quality of the graduates churned out by the universities. I need my vacancy to be filled, although I want it to be filled by a national, I have no choice left than giving the job to an international, who is far superior in quality. And no, I don’t pay them less, I pay them equally as I pay my American labor force.

Solution: Increase the amount of quality STEM graduates. We need them, you need them, the country needs them. Poverty will drop, more jobs will be created.
Jan. 4, 2014 at 3:02 p.m.REPLYRECOMMEND1

JaneShanghai
Don’t think of myself as hard-hearted, but there are many of us Brits who have witnessed the down-side of the welfare state and a loosening of personal and family responsibility over a few generations. A safety net is absolutely necessary in any society, but there are questions raised here e.g about a 24 year-old with a child who puts herself and her child in this dire position by having a baby with a partner who can just abandon them with no legal partnership. Did she ever stop to consider what having a baby under these circumstances at 21 could bring ? Not much detail about the woman who couldn’t make ends meet after paying her rent and utilities. No possibility of renting a room in a house/ sharing, or living at home ? Where are the families in all of this ? The families tend to take a back-seat, because the government will step in if no other means. There are many real and deserving hardship cases for sure, always have been and always will be – if only we could focus all resources on those.
Jan. 4, 2014 at 3:00 p.m.REPLYRECOMMEND

PL HayesUK
I’m sure you’re not hard-hearted but public ignorance of the economic & social reality (including especially the benefits to all of us) of the “welfare state”¹, combined with a great deal of fallacious reasoning, outright lies and spurious moralising from politicians and the media, has hardened the hearts of many in the UK and allowed this government (and to some extent the previous one) to get away with a scandalous and horrific assault on the country’s poor and sick.

¹ http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/library/by-az/who-really-benefits-…
Jan. 5, 2014 at 5:21 a.m.RECOMMEND2

GeraldLondon
One of the food bank charities in UK is the Trussell Trust where people have to have a letter from their Dr or a note from Social Security to get food,in 2010/11 they supplied food to 61,468, in 2011/12 128,697, in 2012/13 346,992,London has some of the poorest borough’s and the highest House prices in Britain so high thousands of working families that had help with their rents removed have been moved to areas outside of London.
Jan. 4, 2014 at 3:00 p.m.REPLYRECOMMEND2

NfahrTUCSON, AZ
I am 78. I cannot remember a time when the hope of a better life has
been so effectively extinguished in wide swaths of people in the USA.
Now we discover the same epidemic of poverty and hopelessness has permeated the Hull area in England as well.
Somehow I cannot imagine that David Cameron has it in himself to
try to alleviate this evil. ….or even to care. I fear for us all, in the USA and England, who are at the mercy of decisions we have no hand in making, are at the mercy of those who have no empathy for the poor.
Jan. 4, 2014 at 3:00 p.m.REPLYYou recommended this4

AchillesTexas
500,000 people in Britain reliant on food aid? My God, in the U.S. we have 48 million people on food stamps. That is an absolute disgrace!
Jan. 4, 2014 at 3:00 p.m.REPLYRECOMMEND2

JacobManhattan
It wrings the heart out of you to read such words. It seems so cruel when the poor, the working poor, have to go hungry. Truly a disgrace.
Jan. 4, 2014 at 3:00 p.m.REPLYRECOMMEND2

Mad TwitterNY
incredible story. UK should encourage its citizens to the countries that needs labor badly.
Jan. 4, 2014 at 3:00 p.m.REPLYRECOMMEND

Tyler WattBlackheath
David Cameron said there is no magic wand to solve the UK financial problems, but he is dead wrong. There is a structural solution. As his Holiness Pope Francis recently said ‘The need to resolve the structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed. We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market.’
The fundamental structural problem with capitalism is the flaw in our monetary system which necessitates that money is created from debt. Under our Fractional Reserve Banking mechanism, commercial (not central) banks create money out of thin air when they extend new loans, then charge fees and interest on the money which hadn’t existed before the loan was advanced. Instead of a torturous austerity program in the UK and Europe which has destroyed lives, governments should have avoided the banks and created money directly into the economy.
Why do banks enjoy infinite capacity to create new money, yet structural inequality continues? Pope Francis understands this just as Marx did, just as Adam Smith did. (see Das Kapital, V.3, Chapter XXIX, quoting Smith)
Jan. 4, 2014 at 3:00 p.m.REPLYRECOMMEND

View from the hillVermont
Verified
Dubious article, though the change in the GINI index in the UK is clear enough (though less than that in the US, home of Gordon Gekko). The distinction between London and the North is no different than that between NYC and, say, Jamestown, NY; it may even be less. As for the statistics, I believe the total rise in general cost of living in the UK over the last five years is more like 13%, not 20%.
Jan. 4, 2014 at 1:45 a.m.REPLYRECOMMEND1

A EdouardMontreal
Economic distress has increased in the UK in the last five years, but the numbers quoted in the article are misleading. The number of people a single organization has fed in the last year means something, but it gives a very misleading idea of what is happening on average. There’s no way the need for food increased threefold la last year (!) when things are actually going better than they did a year ago in Britain.
Jan. 3, 2014 at 10:17 p.m.REPLYRECOMMEND

stikinsektUK
‘Things are going better than they did a year ago in Britain’ you say.

Not so for the majority, and the biggest effects of the coalition’s social policies are on the working poor and those on benefits.

This, paired with the fact that food banks are becoming normalised here (so the ‘pride’ in the article, that used to put people off food banks , is being eroded out of sheer necessity), make the threefold increase sound quite reflective of reality from where I’m standing.

I would take the article at face value, it is a true reflection.
Jan. 4, 2014 at 3:01 p.m.RECOMMEND2

StelaSpain
In spite of triumphal statements by the Cameron coalition, the evidence is more palpable in a country which cannot afford to take proper care of its most vulnerable citizens. The Government appears to ignore that food, water/heating are UN human rights and that hunger represents cruelty to kiddies going without. Resorting to food banks is a humiliation for any citizen, however needy. The UK may be the 6th world economy but this figure only reflects the living standards of the minority millionaire class! No surprise, since many banks were rescued with public funds leaving the public seriously depleted. Considering record banking profits in 2013, it is astonishing that these “borrowed” funds have still not been paid back! While accountability still appears lacking, banks withhold loans which might help people get back on their feet and, at the same time, allow themselves to borrow at 0,5%, speculating on the stock exchange as they please! Cheese pairing Britain boasts of riches, but coolly efficient Germany “keeps Mum” about its mounting gold reserves. Considering that the EU and the ECB have made a concerted effort to unifying banking procedures, improving efficiency and transparency plus eliminating abusive bonuses, the British public may well be better off joining the EU for once and for all.
Jan. 3, 2014 at 10:17 p.m.REPLYRECOMMEND12

stikinsektUK
Britain is in the EU.
Jan. 4, 2014 at 3:00 p.m.RECOMMEND2

ChrisCanada
This story is an excellent example of what neoliberalism has done to our society.

Capitalism, for better or worse, is the economic system we’re stuck with. For it to work effectively, however, we need governments to smooth out the rough edges of the ‘free’ market. People who want to work, or who do work, are going hungry, and why? If the private sector will not spend of of the billions of dollars they are sitting on to spur employment and wage growth, then, the governments of the world either need to do this or further incentivize the private sector to do so.

Capitalism will collapse upon itself without governments to make it work. We’ve reached a point where over-accumulation is now bad for the health of the economy (as if the economy is a living creature).

Neoliberal economic policies help those with money make more but are pretty crummy for everyone else. It’s time for a return to Keynesianism.
Jan. 3, 2014 at 9:50 p.m.REPLYYou recommended this13

AchillesTexas
“If the private sector will not spend of of the billions of dollars they are sitting on to spur employment and wage growth, then, the governments of the world either need to do this or further incentivize the private sector to do so.”

Chris, no one in the private sector does this because you never make an investment for the sake of creating employment. You would not invest your own money, simply to employ people. You employ people when you are convinced you’ll receive a return on your investment. Capital is always deployed to take advantage of a market opportunity, and employment is the result.
Jan. 4, 2014 at 3:00 p.m.RECOMMEND

DavidLondon
It is certainly true that food has got more expensive. As for not being able to afford the cost of gas to cook a meal, I think one must take that as a sign of a mental attitude rather than a reality.

Things do look different in London from the rest of the UK. Scarcely noticed the recession here. London continues to boom, as does its property prices. . That is indeed a big problem, as middle-earners are squeezed out.

As far as the fishing industry (once big in Hull) is concerned, you can place a great deal of blame on Britain’s membership of the EU. This requires Britain to share a national asset (fishing waters) with other EU members. While Britain has a nominal quota, this has mostly been sold to a tiny number of Spanish fishing companies which set up shell companies in Britain. The benefit and employment go to Spain and not the UK.

Finally, London (and some other parts of the UK) are full of foreigners working in every conceivable field: restaurants, hotels, post offices, supermarkets, pharmacies, van drivers, labourers, carpenters, electricians, bank tellers…even local guides in my area. So, while there may be few jobs in Hull, there are plenty in London.
Jan. 3, 2014 at 8:49 p.m.REPLYRECOMMEND3

PaulBrooklyn
Similar thing here David in NYC…it has become a city of rich people with the blue collar workers and even some professional workers living in what
I call the “plantation” housing…the few cheap apts left or else they double or triple up in a nicer apt…

When I was younger in my area of Brooklyn, a single person could easily afford an apt….now almost all of them double or triple up..

We have quite a few brits here….they tell me as bad as the economy is here, it is even worse in the UK…
Jan. 3, 2014 at 9:12 p.m.RECOMMEND8

wagnerheadNY
Some good points, but on your last paragraph, how is a person in Hull who can’t pay their own rent , heat and food going to raise the money for rent and down payments to move to London on the off-chance that they might be able to find work? It would be nice but London is another economic planet from northern towns like Hull. And I grew up not far from there, so I’m not completely ignorant of the contrasts
Jan. 3, 2014 at 9:49 p.m.RECOMMEND6

David EvansManchester UK
Fishing, although an important industry for Hull at one time, is a very small overall proportion of the UK economy. The EU provides the UK with access to the largest single market in the world, and as such is vital to the continued health of the UK, overall, fishing issues apart. Mores the pity that the UK has not run it’s economy wisely, in the past, in a similar way to much more prosperous Germany, one of the most committed and supportive members of the EU, which again, wisely, recognises the benefits of EU membership.
Jan. 3, 2014 at 10:17 p.m.RECOMMEND2

Algol60CT
Given the insufficient housing, high unemployment etc., why does it make sense to allow each year an additional city’s-worth of immigrants, no matter of what flavour, into the country?
Jan. 3, 2014 at 8:49 p.m.REPLYRECOMMEND3

David EvansManchester UK
The UK has become on of the most unequal societies in Western Europe. It is both between rich and poor, and between some areas of the UK (especially London) and other areas. Within London, huge wealth and poverty exist side by side, separated by a few hundred yards.

Prices for everything…food, transport costs, energy, housing, child-care, you name it..have rocketed. Successive governments have failed to keep up with housing demand, resulting in the cost of renting a home becoming crippling, and mortgages are beyond many young people, because of unaffordable house prices. The housing situation has reverted to the 1950s, where many can only rent and at the mercy of unregulated landlords.

Britain has allowed manufacturing industry to wither since the 1960s, unlike Germany or France, resulting in fewer skilled jobs and more unskilled minimum wage service jobs…e.g. call centres, retail etc. These are non unionised (unlike the old manufacturing jobs) and workers have little bargaining power.

The country is declining relatively, and the working poor are just more evidence of this.
Jan. 3, 2014 at 7:22 p.m.REPLYRECOMMEND18

Mr Alex WeirHarare zimbabwe
This plague of poverty sweeping through britain and USA is the direct result of the #ExtremeCapitalism which started in 1979 (by Regan and Thatcher). The wealth creation during the period 1945-1978 by #KindCapitalism has been dismantled. The winners are the Rich and the UltraRich – everyone else is a loser. Governments, Economists and Media are silent while every facet of civilization is being rent asunder. Time for a Change!
Jan. 3, 2014 at 7:22 p.m.REPLYRECOMMEND17

PaulBrooklyn
It is a cycle Mr Weir…..the conservatives in America under Reagon came to power in 1980 because the great work of progressives from 1933-1954 started to get abused and the welfare society took over…circa 1955-1980…

Reagon tempered some of the abuses but then quickly started abuses of his own…ie….the fallacy of trickle down economics, unbridled Wall Street abuse, wars for oil, massive deficits and on and on..

The tide is swinging to the other side….

If history is any guide you can be certain in the beginning this new group will correct some of the current abuses and then start their own…

This is history 101 in brief….
Jan. 3, 2014 at 9:49 p.m.RECOMMEND6

L JonesDexter MI
When our governments make it more advantageous to have goods and now services made elsewhere by those in (worse) abject poverty and then allow companies nearly unchallenged importation for sale in first world nations, some type of setting of balances has to occur. In essence we are agreeing to insert into our western economies a new class of poor workers at abysmal (and economy wrecking) wages which fundamentally undermine all worker advances and wage controls in our own economies.

So long as we don’t see these poor workers we seem to think there are no consequences, when of course there must be. We are not raising the level of these foreign poverty workers lives so much as we are bringing the lives of our own blue collar work force down to parity with the rest of this dismal global work force. At the same time, increased profits, of which there are many, are being paid out to those least in need at the top 20% of incomes. Look at the data and its quite clear.

Marie Antoinette lost her head and the world suffered two brutal wars as consequence for such massive inequities and callousness. Fair warning people, we will no more skirt the natural consequences than our ancestors did. The canaries are starving.
Jan. 3, 2014 at 6:20 p.m.REPLYRECOMMEND19

PaulBrooklyn
I live in the Williamsburg/Greenpoint section of NYC.

The place is overflowing with Brits, who tell me as bad as the job market in America is, it is even worse in the UK…

These are not welfare queens, they are middle class mostly professional people who can’t make a decent living in the UK…

That is evidence enough that all is not well in the UK…re the economy…
Jan. 3, 2014 at 6:12 p.m.REPLYRECOMMEND12

SanchitaDelhi
“Shyly, Ms. Farrow helped herself to potatoes, milk, canned kidney beans, cereal and soap.”
That’s a very great deal more than what the world’s real poor get. Stop whining. The balance of global economics has shifted. Get used to it.
Jan. 3, 2014 at 6:01 p.m.REPLYRECOMMEND2
READ ALL 6 REPLIES

Deregulate_ThisOregon
There are many stories of the poor being poisoned by people taking advantage of assistance money. Just a few months ago, a school principal poisoned and killed many children by purchasing cooking oil from her husband’s shop which stored the oil in pesticide containers. And the upper Caste castigated the victims for being poor.

India has no moral compass when it comes to taking care of the poor. There are many violent attacks in the country because they allow all of their money and wealth to go to a few very rich people.

The same thing is happening in the UK, US, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece…. The rich people will never have enough. It’s time for the rest of us to raise taxes on them and support members of the working class. Trust-fund babies can sell the golden spoons they were born with to buy their first luxury car. Working class babies have to earn their keep. Let’s make it easier for them.
Jan. 4, 2014 at 12:05 a.m.RECOMMEND1

H. almost sapiensUpstate NY
So, working full-time and going hungry is the “new normal” that we all should just get used to — or even be grateful for — because others elsewhere are even poorer?

What’s next — that the “race to the bottom” is actually good for us … because it builds character or some such?
Jan. 4, 2014 at 12:06 a.m.RECOMMEND8

G. R. CardosoMiami Fl
Pray, with due respect to India and many respected friends from that Country, we do not look in this Country, or in this case UK, to have the appalling standards for the poor or rights that prevail in India. This cannot be erased by its professional and highly qualified individuals.
And one wonders as individuals from other countries and culture, highly educated abroad or the USA, but with lesser regard for others, how that will influence the Working conditions of US citizens.
Jan. 4, 2014 at 3:00 p.m.RECOMMEND1

DaveUSA, TN
In your article you imply that ‘eastern european’ immigrants use big chunk of british benefits. Total lie. First of all Majority of immigrants come from Poland which is in CENTRAL not Eastern Europe (I recommend recent paper by anne applebaum in the prospect magazine on this issue). Second, Poles do not use benefits almost at all and absolutely not to the extent that Brits do. Polish immigrants work hard, send their money home and eventually go back to Poland. However, Many still goes to the UK…Hopefully not for long.
Jan. 3, 2014 at 5:51 p.m.REPLYRECOMMEND4

L JonesDexter MI
” Successive waves of New York-bound Eastern European emigrants stopped through on their way to Liverpool and some stayed. ” They said ‘some’ stay and no where do they say or imply that those that stayed are on the dole. Poles are not mentioned at all. What did I miss?
Jan. 3, 2014 at 6:11 p.m.RECOMMEND5

Kalebergport angeles, wa
You completely misread the article and went on to ride your own hobbyhorse.
Jan. 3, 2014 at 8:49 p.m.RECOMMEND3

steve hunterseattle
This is the legacy of the conservative scolds, poverty, unemployment and under employment.
Jan. 3, 2014 at 5:51 p.m.REPLYRECOMMEND9

WordsofdjcEnglandNYT Pick
People in Britain are being subject to levels of poverty, not seen since
Dickensian days. The reason for this, it that the government are not creating jobs
or building new social housing. The government are neglecting the same people
who voted for them at the last election.
The cost of living, food prices among them, continues to rise by the week, incomes have fallen, and welfare, the safety net to help bridge the gap between what people earn, and what they spend, has all but been removed by this government. The chancellor revealed his intentions to completely abolish welfare recently. He said “Britain, cannot afford a welfare state”. Yet the welfare provided by the public, for the banking industry, continues to provide bailouts and bail ins, to the sum of trillions of pounds. I have felt the effect of government austerity first hand.
I was made homeless before Christmas, when my housing benefit was stopped by my council. There was no reason for it to be stopped, and i am challenging the council’s decision to take my home from me. The Council have not rehoused me and have abandoned me. I am going through one of the worst experiences in my life, and because the government has cut support for people in financial difficulty
i cannot get help from them for temporary accommodation, food or clothing.
The British government’s policies are creating mass suffering and poverty across England, on a parallel with the poorest countries in Europe. These policies have to be reversed.
Jan. 3, 2014 at 5:34 p.m.REPLYRECOMMEND28

A EdouardMontreal
”People in Britain are being subject to levels of poverty, not seen since
Dickensian days”

I see you want to make a point, but let’s not get crazy. The average Brit, and the poor Brit, live far better than the average and the poor Brit in Dickens’ time, and better than in most of the 20th century. You could argue for the 90s ans 00s, but that’s it.
Jan. 3, 2014 at 10:17 p.m.RECOMMEND2

skaborobertsdale, AL
another example of how “market forces capitalism” scorns the poor.
Jan. 3, 2014 at 5:34 p.m.REPLYRECOMMEND12

Jan G. RogersHavana, FL
Excellent point, Susan. That key word is austerity and that means the supposedly lavish benefits aren’t.
Jan. 3, 2014 at 5:34 p.m.REPLYRECOMMEND

yasuaki toriiJapan
I am not in London, so I can’t enter into detail analysis,but general historical observation. the country is in dormant. Why dormant? Some parts of society do not want move a bits. Why? Be satisfied in this situation, keep in tact status quo, protect vested interest. For example, which countries or regime, may be Myanmar,Japan, a lot of EU(there some exception). But Myanmar is moving ? Myanmar and Japan only moving which move is… refusing to move forward. Great Britain had created a lot of noble historians, they say that “When one society refused to change, this regime would be declined.” All civilization needs constant changing, all human history is vicissitude from her beginning. It will not welfare nation or policy category, it will be fundamentals question foe us how to live. I am far away and not have enough knowledge about England, so should be refrain to send my feeling to, but this is not only England’s question, it is too my Japan’s problem. I don’t know exactly who, what for to refuse the change in England, but your scholar says ” One regime refuse to change, that one destined to decline.”
Jan. 3, 2014 at 5:34 p.m.REPLYRECOMMEND5

joanieDallas, Texas
Destruction of two-parent households has much to do with poverty here and abroad.
Jan. 3, 2014 at 5:34 p.m.REPLYRECOMMEND2

WordsofdjcEngland.
There are lots of reasons for family break ups, but financial pressure
financial burdens are one. The government in England has cut support for families financially. They have also closed day care center’s that supported families that aren’t earning enough money to pay for private child care.
The government has also introduced a tax on spare bedrooms
charging people more money in rent if they have an empty or bedroom.
The government’s definition for this is very thin. Many families with disabled children are being forced out of their homes or are in danger of losing them if one of their bedrooms is used to provide treatment or aid for a disabled family relative. The government claims to support families
but in reality, they have taken financial, and other forms of support
just as they have from single people. Members of the government
laughed in Parliament before christmas, when there was a debate to discuss the rising numbers of people having to use food banks to prevent them going hungry. If the suffering, that is happening in Britain were happening in another country, the government would be calling for
human right’s organisations to take action.
The government no longer cares people.
Jan. 3, 2014 at 5:51 p.m.RECOMMEND13

A EdouardMontreal
So I suppose the answer is keeping those people who don’t want to be together together? That makes for a vary happy society.
Jan. 3, 2014 at 10:17 p.m.RECOMMEND1

jamesNevada4NYT Pick
Europe is going through social and technological changes comparable to those of thelater nineteenth century. Back then the upheaval gave rise to unions, facism, communism and ultimately sectarian and national wars. There are lessons to be learned.
Jan. 3, 2014 at 3:34 p.m.REPLYRECOMMEND12

Pogo McCalisterMountains of Georgia
Sadly this is the same result that America has had from the devastation caused by Ronald Reagan and Maggie Thatcher’s destruction of the middle class.
Jan. 3, 2014 at 3:34 p.m.REPLYRECOMMEND32

FabbiGermany
I agree but still people I the US have fond memories of Reagan and think the rich don’t need to be taxed fairly. Corporations get benefits as result of massive lobbying efforts and people who need help are seen as lazy. Workers who demand higher wages to pay for the roof over their heads are called greedy while the corporations who evade taxes but still refuse to pay workers fairly are defended.
This situation is a danger for democracy but people don’t seem to be very concerned about that.
I am happy about the new mayor in NY and hope that this is the beginning of a new era.
Jan. 3, 2014 at 8:49 p.m.RECOMMEND10

SusanLondon
It would be helpful if the journalist explained why the welfare system is failing these people. Are people not eligible for benefits? Are the payments too small and not representative of the cost of living? Does it take too long to apply for benefits and thus there is a gap that food banks are meeting? Possibly this is not well known at the moment but it should be.
Jan. 3, 2014 at 2:48 p.m.REPLYRECOMMEND16

RichardCardiff, Wales
Susan, some of these people will be eligible for benefits, some will not – it’s not clear from the reporting. Benefit payments are generally not generous enough to provide for material needs – they are also conditional on either finding work or providing evidence to show that they have been looking for work. There are often gaps between applying for a benefit and the benefit being paid, creating periods of acute need.

The point of the article is to show the rise of the working poor, those who have jobs, are hard-working, and yet still do not earn enough to rise out of poverty. There are more people living in the UK who experience in-work poverty now than people who experience out of work poverty. The gap between London and the rest of the country seems to be ever-widening with those in power seemingly oblivious to the reality of the situation.

Most people who are forced to use food banks are deeply embarrassed, and they are a response to a man-made problem, one that we can solve politically through mandating higher wages. We need a system that creates a society where those in work earn enough to cover their living costs and those who are unable to support themselves due to disability or illness are able to live their lives in a dignified manner with adequate support from the state.
Jan. 3, 2014 at 6:01 p.m.RECOMMEND14

Sinister LordUK
The payments have been reduced as they are no longer in line with inflation. Also new rules allow staff to ‘sanction’ benefit recipients who they feel have not been trying hard enough thereby cutting the only source of income in many cases and driving people to food banks. Staff are encouraged to do this via unofficial target setting.
There is a sustained rhetoric originating in government but slavishly parroted by a right wing UK media that talks of scroungers (them) and strivers (you) in order to divide society and to deflect blame from the true cause of suffering (gov’t cuts).
The immigration thing is simply another manifestation of this tactic.
The disabled have been hit especially hard as they have to be tested by far stricter benchmarks than previously in order to be judged ‘unfit for work’ and as a result losing sickness benefit and being forced into job-hunting with risk of sanction.
Then there’s the bedroom tax. I don’t know where to begin with this one; now if you have an unused room you have your ‘housing benefit’ deducted no matter how long you have been living there you will lose approx 15% of your rent payment simply for having a spare room. A major problem here is the simple fact that there are simply not enough single occupancy flats/bed-sits available to move into.

It is a many pronged assault on the most vulnerable in order to impose austerity and keep wages down for employers and so make UK more ‘competitive’ in the market.

The End

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State of the Globe Address – Christmas 2013

Xmas nears. 2000 yrs. progress?? the squeaky-clean West is now exposed as a power which installs & buttresses #prowesterndictators thruout the Third World, who oppress & impoverish their people. We rubber stamp their fake elections.

Now also we find out that not only are our governments oppressing impoverishing and killing foreigners in foreign lands we presume for financial gain which however never trickles down to us, our governments are also oppressing us by spying and by punishing the poor & unemployed for the crime of “not being rich”.

We live in times where we can only expect that our future incomes and standard of living, and that of our children and grandchildren will be less than what we ourselves experienced just a few years ago before things started to go so badly wrong.

We are told by our supposedly independent and free media that “there is no alternative” – that austerity must and will continue for 50 years into the future. We see however that the rich seem to be enjoying their lives, just as our hopes and dreams turn into nightmares.

Opposition politicians seem to think and behave just the same as the politicians who are in power and who seem to be misusing that power. They offer no hope – even if we vote the existing bunch out then nothing will change substantially. Those politicians who do offer something different seem to be small minded racist and nationalist, at a time when a global vision and a pro-humanity outlook seems to be required.

to be continued…….

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Who is doing anything about making useful info available on WAP for the Third World?

Who is doing anything about making useful info available on WAP for the Third World?

The answer of course is – almost nobody. I got a Huawei G6005 recently for $30 after my 3 yr old Android ZTE Blade (tremendous machine!) got stolen at night through my window. Testing out what is possible:

1. cannot get yahoo mail. gave up trying to get hotmail or gmail.

2. cannot get twitter or facebook. get “unsupported scripts and/or out of memory” messages.

3. CAN use and navigate large parts of my own website – http://cd3wd.com/ – keep it simple stupid!

4. have tested size of web pages supported – can read 27k webpage but not 50k webpage. therefore cutoff point is somewhere in between. That is a LARGE webpage – approx 5,000 words if the htm is kept simple. and use the following code to make the webpage word-wrap within the small screen:

<html>
<head>
<meta id=”meta” name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width; initial-scale=1.0″/>
</head>
<body>

PUT YOUR STUFF IN HERE

paragraph1<br/><br/>
paragraph2<br/><br/>
paragraph3<br/><br/>

<a href=”./nextpage.htm”>next page</a>

</body>
</html>

5. Now – if we switch to discuss the possible, there is great potential for:

a. news articles, especially for “opposition” newspapers
b. classified adverts, especially for small business people

there are online newspapers in africa, and there are classified websites. but no-one I think is doing it for this low-level WAP.
And it is SO easy to do – just copy and paste the text and use basic html commands – <br/> being the best one (newline). and of course <a href=”./nextpage.htm”>next page</a> for navigation…

6. You can even put in lineage adverts in among the news and adverts….

7. Who should be doing this work? Online and print newspapers, Ministries, NGOs, iNGOs who want to help the economy grow and encourage small business.

If anybody in any country wants to do this kind of thing and needs a little help, just ask me….

Alex Weir, Gaborone, Botswana, Sunday 22 December 2013

 

PS – checked for long filenames up to 92 characters long – no problem

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Time for Banks in 3rd world to offer new practical features to assist the People!

Time for Banks in 3rd world to offer new practical features to assist the People!

I have on several occasions berated banks for being unimaginative unresponsive dinosaurs.  Here goes again…

What has triggered this in particular is thinking about the current 2013/2014 liquidity crisis in Zimbabwe – because we rely on the US$, we cannot indulge in QE – Quantitative Easing (printing money) – which helps keep the USA. UK, global and other economies semi-functioning.  

The one and only bank in Zimbabwe which operates well in my opinion is CABS – a subsidiary of Old Mutual – their electronic banking product in particular has great potential to bypass the very serious shortage of banknotes by enabling cash-free business transactions.

2 features are desirable in my opinion which are lacking in Cabs and indeed in all banks globally:

1.  An electronic access with a low-privilege password which enables the user to only query current balance and recent transactions

2.  A system which enables the account holder to delegate some low-level functionality to another user – e.g. spend up to US$ 20-00 per day or $100-00 per week with a certain supermarket.

3. An automatic email to the account holder for every transaction (a feature which some banks offer already)

How difficult are these 3 features to implement?  Really?

Alex Weir, Gaborone, Botswana

 

 

 

 

 

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Extreme Capitalism is Laying Waste to Western Economies

Extreme Capitalism is Laying Waste to Western Economies

[The following discussion is not intended to be complete or exhaustive. There will be expansions]

[This discussion is intended to be relevant and applicable to both USA & UK situations, and probably also to Europe, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Japan etc..]

Western Economies which have embraced Extreme Capitalism (i.e. UK & USA) are now moving (or have already moved!) from a situation with 20-% living in poverty to 50+% living in poverty.  You can say also that Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy are well on the way.

This has for several reasons been obscured from public gaze. The Mainstream Media is under intense pressure not to expose or discuss.  Government statisticians are constantly under pressure to massage numbers and change the goalposts. And no-one wants to admit that they have moved into poverty.  And everyone hopes that their move into poverty is a temporary blip and not something permanent.  And the relative wealth of the older generations is masking to some extent the scale of the problem – i.e. the older generation is releasing some of its capital to fund their children and grandchildren.   But that capital will not last for ever.

This shift from 20-50% has profound implications for politics.  In the UK, both main parties – Tories and Labour (or New Labour!) – have been tilting their pitch at the 79% – the middle class, upper and lower middle classes, upper working classes – who were neither extremely rich nor poor.  There is now a danger (for these 2 parties, but an opportunity for others) that this 79% will become or has become 49%, and can be outvoted by the poor and the New Poor.  The blame meanwhile is not being directed at #ExtremeCapitalism –  which is the favorite candidate for this mess – but at Immigrants and at those who abuse the Welfare System (“benefit scroungers” or “welfare scroungers”).  In America there is a pathological and virulent equation of any and all kinds of welfare as being Socialism and Government control of the people and of individuals.

 

Some questions:

Q. Can or should either or both the 2 main parties re-model themselves to cope with this change in the landscape?

Q. Are the minor UK parties (LibDems and UKIP) credible or suitable to take a major role?

Q. Is there opportunity for a new party or parties?  If yes, then what would it or they look like?

Q. Can or should the West try to get itself out of this mess? Are there alternative means of doing so?  Which of these alternatives is best?

Q. What are the implications for the Rest of the World?

Q. Will normally calm and complacent Western Populations take this massive loss of personal and family income lying down?

Q.  In addition to, or as alternatives to Government action, are there things which individuals, families, & communities can do to resolve or ameliorate the situation?

Q. If we set aside the way which global economics and global politics run at the moment, surely mankind, with our incredible technology, can somehow create a world system where everyone has a comfortable existence and no-one has to suffer material deprivation?  If the answer is yes, then how do we square that with current predictions of 5-50 years of austerity?

Q. Some people (well – OK – just me!) reckon that the future has a choice between being either Fascist or Socialist.  If the Socialist option is chosen (against the will obviously of 80% of Americans!), then will it be possible to combine economic socialism with political and personal Freedom?

Q. What is the mechanism or mechanisms whereby ExtremeCapitalism has effected this situation? What is the logical end result if the present path is continued? Is it possible to modify the present scenario and parameters to effect a better outcome?

Q. Why do western media and western populations become paralyzed with boredom or techno-fear whenever any alternative to the economic and political Status Quo is laid on the table?

 

Alex Weir, Plot 25500, Block 9, Gaborone, Botswana, Africa

alexweir1949@gmail.com  

@alexweir1949  

http://cd3wd.com 

 

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Zimbabwe’s forgotten commuter omnibus passengers – some solutions

                        *** All Rights Reserved Alex Weir 2013 ***

 

Zimbabwe’s forgotten commuter omnibus passengers

 

Since Zimbabwe adopted the US$ (and to some lesser extent the South African Rand) as its currency in 2008/2009, change, and especially sub-dollar change, has been a problem.

 

This is now in 2013 coming to a head, wherein commuters are being forced to switch from paying US$0.50 per trip (of maybe 7 km) to paying one dollar – i.e. a 100% inflationary increase.  The shortage of sufficient rand or BWP Botswana Pula coins is forcing this change, plus of course the greed of the bus operators and the fact that the 16-seater Japanese minibuses are reaching the end of their useable lifetime.

 

This is occurring with the background of a general continent-wide (and even global) financial squeeze on hard-working families.  When the breadwinner is making a gross wage of US$ 150-00 per month, he or she is being asked to increase work-related travel costs from US$22 to US$ 44 per month.  This is an untenable situation.

 

The potential solutions are:

 

  1. People switch to walking or cycling.  Cycling is regarded as very low status pretty much throughout Africa, and especially in Zimbabwe.  A non-runner.  People who are fit enough will or have already switched to walking when the distance is not excessive.

 

  1. Botswana and/or South African Governments agree to sell large quantities of BWP or ZAR to the Zimbabwe Government and/or banks to provide enough coin liquidity for bus operators to action a US$ 0.60, 70 or 80 cent fare.  There may be problems however with opportunistic Zimbabwean business people gathering up coins to melt down or to exchange when currency rates move in their favour.  The result of that would be a disappearance of the coins injected into the system.

 

  1. Zimbabwe and South Africa agree that Zimbabwe shall join the Rand Economic Area, and switches to using ZAR in the wages, tax, bank account and indeed all systems.  Then the availability of small change will not be a problem.  This should also greatly encourage South Africans to invest in Zimbabwe, since currency movements USD/ZAR would no longer be a risk. But the present and even future governments in Zimbabwe may regard this as being too large a surrender of sovereignity.  Especially when the immediate political future in South Africa may be taking a negative or unknown turn.

 

  1. USA agrees to allow and even to facilitate the use of American coinage in Zimbabwe – i.e. quarters, dimes etc..  A better solution than (2) above.  Someone has told me that the airfreight costs for this would be excessive – so send them seafreight!

 

  1. Some kind of electronic money which can be transacted inside or outside the bus without excessive charges on these small payments.

 

I outline below a solution to (5) above.  But probably solutions (3) or (4) are better.

 

 

                        *** All Rights Reserved Alex Weir 2013 ***

 

Zimbabwe’s forgotten commuter omnibus passengers – a possible solution of micropayments

 

Much has been written about Mpesa the Kenyan e-money/ mobile money success story.  But try to translate that success to micropayments – e.g. under $1 – and it won’t work – the transaction cost is too high – being US$ 0.30 or more, depending  whether an emoney-to-cash or cash-to-emoney process is involved, or whether the transaction is a purely electronic one.

 

My proposal works as follows:

 

  1. This is a system for use by all commuter omnibuses (usually 16 seater but sometimes 24 or 32 seater) throughout Harare (or maybe throughout Zimbabwe) – when the fare is typically under US$ 1-00 at todays 2013 prices.

 

  1. One single system is set up, created, funded and operated by a mobile phone company – probably in Zimbabwe’s case Econet Wireless (since the owner Strive Masiwe is a US$ Billionaire he can probably afford to do this).

 

  1. The system allows payment by mobile phone SMS by each passenger, using their existing electronic wallet.  These wallets are in 99% of cases tied to the mobile phone of the passenger.  There may be included in the system a mechanism for people without mobile phones to have an electronic wallet, which they can operate using someone else’s phone to send an SMS (short message/ text message)

 

  1. They buy top-up value inside or outside any CO (commuter omnibus) in units of US$ 1,2,3,4,5 etc.. There is no registration process.

 

  1. The fee for the top-up is zero.

 

  1. The charge by the phone company for all transactions is zero.  They write off their costs as Corporate Social Responsibility (and of course get tax relief on that)

 

  1. Each CO has a unique identifier number, which enable payments to be channeled to that account.

 

  1. A typical passenger’s SMS may be structured as follows:

            89765  0.75 C2

 

            This means that the passenger sitting in the bus (CO) numbered 89765 in seat number C2 is       paying US$ 0.75.

 

            89765  0.75 C2  1  C3  1 C4

 

            Means that the wallet is paying 75 cents for passenger in seat C2, and one dollar each for the    passengers in seats C3 and C4.  The price difference is probably due to longer distance being            travelled, or could be due to being obese, having luggage, being a schoolchild etc..

 

9. The wallet is identified by the sending phone number.  The Number to which the SMS’s are sent is a general number which receives all traffic for Harare or even for Zimbabwe as a whole. The CO identifier is prominently displayed inside the CO, as is the General System Number (GSN).

 

10.  The CO  driver or conductor has a smartphone which displays the seating arrangement and shows who has and who has not yet paid.  When someone gets out then the conductor or driver resets that seat on their smartphone.  And if people move themselves around there may be some way of accommodating that.  In fact, a better system may be that as people enter the bus they get a small cardboard ticket with a number; they use that number instead of a seat reference when doing the e-payment.  And when they exit the combi they hand in their number.

 

11.  Now here is some clever stuff – traditionally, the bus owner never knows exactly how much his bus makes every day – the driver and conductor are effectively franchise operators who pocket what they can.  The electronic system means that the owner knows exactly what is made from e-payments (but nothing about cash passengers).  That in itself should bring down fares….!

 

  1. There are different levels of rights in the system –

 

  1. the conductor can authorise a full or partial refund in the rare case when that may be necessary (but the owner gets a full report on that). 
  2. The conductor or driver can use a percentage of the wallet’s emoney to buy petrol or diesel at participating garages.  That percentage can be set and altered by the owner only.  The garage enters also the odometer mileage or kilometerage at the time of fuelling, and that goes to the owner’s report.
  3. the owner has full control and can stop all fuel buying rights at any time
  4. only the owner can withdraw the emoney into real money
  5. any and all government or local government  taxes can be levied at source inside the system
  6. location data may be included in the system so that the owner can see where his or her bus has been operating
  7. LEGAL traffic fines can be paid in emoney at road blocks, and there will be complete 100% transparency – note that illegal and improper cash traffic fines paid to police by bus drivers are a huge problem in Zimbabwe and in many other Third World countries.

 

 

  1. Since the owner and Government are making more money from this system then maybe they can in fact pay the Mobile Phone Provider (e.g. Econet) for providing the service…  Those payments could be deducted automatically daily or as nanopayments with each transaction.

 

  1. It is important to allow also for cash payments to be made for CO trips, since some people will not wish to or be able to do the e-payments.  This is where driver and conductor can make their small profit on the side.  In fact they will discount cash payment sometimes to short-change the owner and put money in their own pockets.

           

*** All Rights Reserved Alex Weir 2013 ***

 

  1. The opportunity to extend this service to the payment for purchases in supermarkets or from vendors is very interesting.  The vendor problem is often not so great since they simply aggregate the quantity of whatever they are selling to make a round $1, but there will also be some scope there.  Especially for the poor who wish to buy goods worth maybe as low as US$ 0.20

 

  1. There have to be also of course a few maintenance menu options for the traveler / wallet owner, maybe just to check balance.

 

  1. There will probably have to be a maximum wallet balance limit, to keep the anti-money laundering guys happy…

 

 

Mr Alex Weir, Plot 25500, Block 9, Gaborone, Botswana

Sunday 8 December 2013

http://cd3wd.com

alexweir1949@gmail.com

+26772982005 & +26772233717

 

 

            *** All Rights Reserved Alex Weir 2013 ***

 

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Australia slashing aid budget can greatly help Third World

Australia’s slashing of Overseas Aid Budget may greatly help the Third World

Tony Abbott’s decision to slash AusAid from AUD 7bn to AUD 1bn per year is a radical experiment which has been talked about (e.g. by UK’s UKIP) but has never yet been implemented.

When one examines the overall efficiency and productivity of the National, Multinational and private sector Aid & Development Organisations, one is stunned by the their incompetence and inefficiency.  It is almost as though the intention of the West is that the Third World should never develop or become self-sufficient. 

That is of course exactly what is going on.

So if AusAid were to shut down tomorrow it would make buggar all difference to anyone and everyone except for those superannuated international so-called experts who lead a nice lifestyle parasiting on the poor and on the Western taxpayers equally.

If Australia’s experiment works then it could be quickly followed by the UK and other players.

For those few in the West who are genuinely interested in the welfare of Third World Citizens (and there are indeed very very few of us, and almost none who work in the Aid Organisations and NGO’s like Oxfam, Christian Aid, Care, WorldVision, Save the Children, UNICEF etc etc..), there should be some magic bullet which could ameliorate the effect, however small, of this withdrawal of foreign currency and projects.

Luckily, this magic bullet exists already and is available for free.  All that is required is to fund its distribution � which can be done largely without the usual overpaid and padded re-branding experts,  PR jonnies and Spin Doctors.

Everyone knows the saying – �Teach a man to fish..�.  Since 2003 http://cd3wd.com  has been collecting and collating a massive free high quality electronic library of largely donor-generated information on agriculture, forestry, fisheries, food processing, engineering, appropriate technology, water and sanitation, education, health etc etc..  The core material is now  50 gigabytes and additional educational school/preschool/college/university material is another 500 GB.  This is downloadable for free and can be supplied also on external hard drive or on DVD.

Why haven’t the existing aid and development organisations and companies lapped this material up?  One should indeed ask them that question � rest assured that not one single NGO, donor or UN body has shown one iota of interest.  The UK volunteer body VSO has shown hostiliity, USA’s PeaceCorps has shown indifference, the UK’s DFID has shown indifference and hostility in equal measure.

As their closing down gesture, AusAid can through their own and through partners’ presence in Third World Countries (and of course through Embassies and Consulates) give or sell significant (and not token) quantities of pre-loaded DVDs and external HDD’s to urban and rural citizens throughout the Third World.

Having berated Donors I must also here berate useless and anti-people Third World Governments, who are often pro-western dictators of the worst kind, who are only in power to steal from and to oppress their own people, in collaboration with Foreign Powers of the West and East.

OK � AusAid and Tony Abbott� come on down � I have something for you with which to redeem your tattered image.

Alex Weir
Plot 25500, Pepere Road, Block 9, Gaborone, Botswana, Africa.
Tel +267 72 98 2005
alexweir1949@gmail.com    http://cd3wd.com
Monday 30 September 2013

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