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Capitalism Is Double-Billing Us: We Pay from Our Wallets Only for Our Future to be Stolen from Us
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Here is a word that risks deterring you from reading on much further, even though it may hold the key to understanding why we are in such a terrible political, economic and social mess. That word is “externalities”.

It sounds like a piece of economic jargon. It is a piece of economic jargon. But it is also the foundation stone on which the west’s current economic and ideological system has been built. Focusing on how externalities work and how they have come to dominate every sphere of our lives is to understand how we are destroying our planet – and offer at the same time the waypost to a better future.

In economics, “externalities” are usually defined indifferently as the effects of a commercial or industrial process on a third party that are not costed into that process.

Here is what should be a familiar example. For decades, cigarette manufacturers made enormous profits by concealing scientific evidence that over time their product could prove lethal to customers. The firms profited by externalising the costs associated with cigarettes – of death and disease – on to those buying their cigarettes and wider society. People gave Philip Morris and British American Tobacco their money as these companies made those smoking Marlboros and Lucky Strikes progressively unhealthier.

The externalised cost was paid – is still paid – by the customers themselves, by grieving families, by local and national health services, and by the taxpayer. Had the firms been required to pick up these various tabs, it would have proved entirely unprofitable to manufacture cigarettes.

Inherently violent

Externalities are not incidental to the way capitalist economies run. They are integral to them. After all, it is a legal obligation on private companies to maximise profits for their shareholders – in addition, of course, to the personal incentive bosses have to enrich themselves, and each company’s need to avoid making themselves vulnerable to more profitable and predatory competitors in the marketplace.

Companies are therefore motivated to offload as many costs as possible on to others. As we shall see, externalities mean someone other than the company itself pays the true cost behind its profits, either because those others are too weak or ignorant to fight back or because the bill comes due further down the line. And for that reason, externalities – and capitalism – are inherently violent.

All this would be glaringly obvious if we didn’t live inside an ideological system – the ultimate echo chamber enforced by our corporate media – that is complicit either in hiding this violence or in normalising it. When externalities are particularly onerous or harmful, as they invariably are in one way or another, it becomes necessary for a company to obscure the connection between cause and effect, between its accumulation of profit and the resulting accumulation of damage caused to a community, a distant country or the natural world – or all three.

That is why corporations – those that inflict the biggest and worst externalities – invest a great deal of time and money in aggressively managing public perceptions. They achieve this through a combination of public relations, advertising, media control, political lobbying and the capture of regulatory institutions. Much of the business of business is deception, either making the externalised harm invisible or gaining the public’s resigned acceptance that the harm is inevitable.

In that sense, capitalism produces a business model that is not only rapacious but psychopathic. Those who pursue profit have no choice but to inflict damage on wider society, or the planet, and then cloak their deeply anti-social – even suicidal – actions.

Psychopathic demands

A recent film that alludes to how this form of violence works was last year’s Dark Waters, concerning the long-running legal battle with DuPont over the chemicals it developed to make non-stick coatings for pots and pans. From the outset, DuPont’s research showed that these chemicals were highly dangerous and accumulated in the body. The science overwhelmingly suggested that exposed individuals would be at risk of developing cancerous tumours or producing children with birth defects.

There were huge profits to be made for DuPont from its chemical discovery so long as it could keep the research hidden. So that’s exactly what its executives did. They set aside basic morality and acted in concert with the psychopathic demands of the marketplace.

DuPont produced pans that contaminated its customers’ food. Workers were exposed to a cocktail of lethal poisons in its factories. The company stored the toxic waste products in drums and then secretly disposed of them in landfills where they leached into the local water supply, killing cattle and producing an epidemic of disease among local residents. DuPont created a chemical that is now everywhere in our environment, risking the health of generations to come.

But a film like Dark Waters necessarily turned a case study in how capitalism commits violence by externalising its costs into something less threatening, less revelatory. We hiss at DuPont’s executives as though they are the ugly sisters in a pantomime rather than ordinary people not unlike our parents, our siblings, our offspring, ourselves.

In truth, there is nothing exceptional about the DuPont story – apart from the company’s failure to keep its secret hidden from the public. And that exposure was anomalous, occurring only belatedly and against great odds.

An important message the film’s feelgood ending fails to deliver is that other corporations have learnt from DuPont’s mistake – not the moral “mistake” of externalising their costs, but the financial mistake of getting caught doing so. Corporate lobbyists have worked since to further capture regulatory authorities and to amend transparency and legal discovery laws to avoid any repetition, to ensure they are not held legally liable, as DuPont was, in the future.

Victims of our bombs

ORDER IT NOW

Unlike the DuPont case, most externalities are never exposed. Instead they hide in plain sight. These externalities do not need to be concealed because they are either not perceived as externalities or because they are viewed as so unimportant as to be not worth factoring in.

The military-industrial complex – the one we were warned about more than half a century ago by President Dwight Eisenhower, a former US general – excels in these kinds of externalities. Its power derives from its ability to externalise its costs on to the victims of its bombs and its wars. These are people we know and care little about: they live far from us, they look and sound different to us, they are denied names and life stories like us. They are simply numbers, denoting them either as terrorists or, at best, unfortunate collateral damage.

The externalities of the west’s war industries are opaque to us. The chain of cause and effect is nowadays obscured as “humanitarian intervention”. And even when war’s externalities come knocking at our borders as refugees flee from the bloodshed, or from the nihilistic cults sucked into the power vacuums we leave behind, or from the wreckage of infrastructure our weapons cause, or from the environmental degradation and pollution we unleash, or from the economies ruined by our plunder of local resources, we still don’t recognise these externalities for what they are. Our politicians and media transform the victims of our wars and our resource grabs into, at best, economic migrants and, at worst, barbarians at the gate.

Snapshots of catastrophe

If we are entirely ignorant of the externalities inflicted by capitalism on victims beyond our shores, we are gradually and very late in the day waking up to some of capitalism’s externalities much closer to home. Parts of the corporate media are finally admitting that which can no longer be plausibly denied, that which is evident to our own senses.

For decades politicians and the corporate media managed to veil two things: that capitalism is an entirely unsustainable, profit-driven, endless consumption model; and that the environment is being gradually damaged in ways harmful to life. Each was obscured, as was the fact that the two are causally connected. The economic model is the primary cause of the environmental damage.

People, especially the young, are slowly awakening from this enforced state of ignorance. The corporate media, even its most liberal elements, is not leading this process; it is responding to that awakening.

Last week the Guardian newspaper prominently ran two stories about externalities, even if it failed to frame them as such. One was about micro-plastics leaching from feeding bottles into babies, and the other about the toll air pollution is taking on the populations of major European cities.

The latter story, based on new research, specifically assessed the cost of air pollution in European cities – in terms of “premature death, hospital treatment, lost working days and other health costs” – at £150 billion a year. Most of this was caused by pollution from vehicles, the profitable product of the car industry. The researchers admitted that their figure was an under-estimate of air pollution’s true cost.

But, of course, even that underestimate was arrived at solely on the basis of metrics prioritised by capitalist ideology: the cost to the economy of death and disease, not the incalculable cost in lost and damaged human lives, and even less the damage to other species and the natural world. Another report last week alluded to one of those many additional costs, showing a steep rise in depression and anxiety caused by air pollution.

The other story, on baby bottles, is part of a much bigger story of how the plastics industry – whose products are derivatives of the fossil fuel industry – has long been filling our oceans and soil with plastics, both of the visible and invisible kind. Last week’s report revealed that the sterilisation process in which bottles are heated in boiling water resulted in babies swallowing millions of micro-plastics each day. The study found that plastic food containers were shedding much higher loads of micro-plastics than expected.

These stories are snapshots of a much wider environmental catastrophe unfolding across the planet caused by profit-driven industrialised society. As well as heating up the climate, corporations are chopping down the forests that don’t burn down first, ridding the planet of its lungs; they are destroying natural habitats and soil quality; and they are rapidly killing off insect populations.

These industries’ externalities are, for the time being, impacting most severely on the natural world. But they will soon have more visible and dramatic effects that will be felt by our children and grandchildren. Neither of these constituences currently has a say in how our capitalist “democracies” are being run.

Perception managers

Capitalism isn’t only harming us, it’s double-billing us: taking first from our wallets and then depriving us of a future. We have now entered an era of deep cognitive dissonance.

Unlike a few years ago, many of us now understand that our futures are at grave risk from changes in our environment – the effect. But the task of today’s perception managers, like those of yesteryear, is to obscure the main cause – our economic system, capitalism.

The increasingly desperate effort to dissociate capitalism from the imminent environmental crisis – to break any perception of a causal link – was highlighted early this year. It emerged that counter-terrorism police in the UK had included Extinction Rebellion, the west’s main environmental protest group, on a list of extremist organisations. Under related “Prevent” regulations, teachers and government officials are already required by law to report anyone who they suspect of being “radicalised”.

In a guide explaining the purpose of the list, officials and teachers were told to identify anyone who speaks in “strong or emotive terms about environmental issues like climate change, ecology, species extinction, fracking, airport expansion or pollution”.

ORDER IT NOW

Why was Extinction Rebellion, a non-violent, civil disobedience group, included alongside neo-Nazis and Islamic jihadists? A whole page is dedicated to the threat posed by Extinction Rebellion. The guide explains that the organisation’s activism is rooted in an “anti-establishment philosophy that seeks system change”. That is, environmental activism risks making apparent – especially to the young – the causal connection between the economic system and damage to the environment.

Once the story broke, the police hastily rowed back, claiming that Extinction Rebellion’s inclusion was a mistake. But more recently establishment efforts to decouple capitalism from its catastrophic externalities have grown more explicit.

Last month England’s department of education ordered schools not to use any materials in the curriculum that question the legitimacy of capitalism. Opposition to capitalism was described as an “extreme political stance” – opposition, let us remember, to an economic system whose relentless pursuit of growth and profit treats the destruction of the natural world as an uncosted externality.

Paradoxically, education officials equated promotion of alternatives to capitalism as a threat to free speech, as well as an endorsement of illegal activity, and – inevitably – as evidence of antisemitism.

Suicidal trajectory

These desperate and draconian measures to shore up an increasingly discredited system are not about to end. They will get much worse.

The establishment is not preparing to give up on capitalism – the ideology that enriched and empowered it – without a fight. The political and media class proved that with their relentless and unprecedented attacks on Labour opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn over several years. And Corbyn was offering only a reformist, democratic socialist agenda.

The establishment has also demonstrated its determination to cling on to the status quo in its relentless and unprecedented attacks on Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who is locked away, seemingly indefinitely, for revealing the externalities – the victims – of the west’s war industries and the psychopathic behaviour of those in power.

Efforts to end the suicidal trajectory of our current “free market” system will doubtless soon be equated with terrorism, as the Prevent strategy has already intimated. We should be ready.

There can be no escape from the death wish of capitalism without recognising that death wish, and then demanding and working for wholesale change. Externalities may sound like innocuous jargon, but they and the economic system that requires them are killing us, our children and the planet.

The nightmare can end, but only if we wake up.

(Republished from Jonathan Cook by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Economics, Ideology • Tags: Capitalism 
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  1. This article is a classic example of a slick marketing psy-op attempting to persuade people into believing that if capitalism did not exist, that we would be living in a Utopian paradise where only humanitarian goals would be implemented by the power structure. They have a very strong motive to persuade people into accepting this myth which can be proven to be a complete lie. They want to keep the system in place. They want to keep the people in place. They do not want to be held accountable for the actual problem, their own crime spree. It wasn’t their fault, it was the system’s fault. 

    This article ironically uses the tobacco industry as an example of capitalism run amok. 

    This article ironically does not acknowledge that Cuba, probably the most communist country in existence or at least on par with North Korea has sold Cuban cigars for centuries! 

    The problem is corruption! Greed, and corruption can still exist in communist and socialist countries, and it has, and it still does. We know this to be a fact because China, Cuba, and Venezuela are all involved in The Big Lie, The Scamdemic, If capitalism is the problem, there would not be corruption in socialist and communist economies. 

    Global Research has to their credit been a valuable source of scientific information regarding the Scamdemic, but why it is that Global Research refuses to hold China, Cuba, and Venezuela accountable for scientific fraud and extreme human rights abuses as a result of the Scamdemic is seriously problematic. They blame America, yet will not acknowledge that if America was actually as in control of the world as they claim that it is, America’s economy would be growing at a rate that surpasses China’s, and that America would not have the deficit problems, or the financial problems that it has. 

    Most economies in the world are a combination of socialism, communism, capitalism, mercantilsm, feudalism, and agrarianism.
    These are slick marketing tactics. 

    China allows private property ownership, private business ownership, and China also has a stock market, so exactly what is not capitalism in China is a mystery! China also has billionaires and millionaires! 

    This is all a slick marketing fraud! It is also a total insult to people’s intelligence! Should we blame it on capitalism, communism, socialism, or corruption? 

    Andrea Iravani

    • Agree: Mikael_
    • Disagree: Biff
    • Replies: @Biff
    , @Showmethereal
  2. This is a bit over the top.

    Corporations are a way of pooling funds for a specific purpose. Corporations produce the many products and services we rely on daily. Corporations aren’t going away and shouldn’t. What should go away is their special privilege, lobbying, and once that goes, they can be reigned in.

    No corporation on the planet actually pays a tax; not one. Every penny they forward to the taxing authorities they bury in the price of their product or service. Corporations are hidden tax collectors for gov’t. Only human beings pay all taxes because they have no one to offload the liability to. Because corporations pretend to pay taxes, the are allowed to have their say and do so loudly via lobbying the legislatures world wide.

    Consider an alternative. Stop all corporate taxation in the US. Competition will rapidly reduce the prices for goods and service to refund their former tax liability to their customers. A zero tax environment will attract manufacturing back to US shores like nothing else. Gov’t doesn’t want to do this because they will then have to raise taxes on real flesh and blood people. The people have been paying the hidden tax anyway, so the only real change is that it’s now no longer hidden and people will be irate when they realize how they’ve been screwed all along, but that’s a different issue.

    Once corporation no longer pay any taxes, they no longer have a right to lobby. Think about that. The deep pockets that corporations have to bribe the trusted representatives in Congress becomes illegal via statute. Only tax payers can petition gov’t. As a practical matter, corporations should be largely ignored under law. If some corp pollutes, the gov’t should go after the person that actually did the polluting and their higher ups in the chain of command. Put these people in jail because you can’t put a corporation in jail.

    Once employees understand their potential liability, they will think twice before carrying out orders that they instinctively know are wrong. The reason corporations pollute is because the gov’t slaps them on the wrist with a fine and no one goes to jail. The gov’t encourages pollution and other negative activities because they want the revenue from the fines and the corp is happy to pay them because their profit always exceed the fine. The gov’t and the corp structure encourages bad behavior.

    Stop the taxation and stop the ability of corporations to lobby. Put the responsibility for bad behavior back onto the flesh and blood people and lock their asses up.

    • Agree: TTSSYF, Radicalcenter
    • Replies: @Drapetomaniac
  3. “White people are not the enemies of black people, nor are blacks the enemies of whites. Gentiles are not the enemies of Jews. Russia, China, and Japan are not the enemies of Americans and Europeans. We all have the same enemy–the Global Elite. The divisions in the world serve the agenda of the Global Elite. It is them or us. At the moment the Global Elite hold the cards and the power.”

    Paul Craig Roberts

    • Agree: Franz, GomezAdddams, MarkU
  4. Biff says:
    @No Friend Of The Devil

    There is more than one facet of capitalism, and one premise of the article to which corporations are actively suppressing information by changing/manipulating the law and getting you to pay for it, or to put it another way – ‘consumers are paying for their ignorance’ seems to be lost on you.

    Capitalism is not inherently bad – people are….

  5. This article lead with tobacco and I’m addressing only that.

    “ … On July 1, 1862, the United States Congress passed excise taxes on many items including tobacco. This occurred as a result of the Union’s increasing debt during the American Civil War and the Federal government’s need for additional revenue. After the war, many of these excise taxes were repealed but the tax on tobacco remained. In fact, by 1868 the Government’s main source of income came from these lingering tobacco taxes.[2] …”. Wikipedia

    Evil corporations? Our government had a love affair with tobacco. It not only provided significant tax revenue, but it also helped reduce social security payouts in the twentieth century by contributing to a shorter expected life span. That is until the idea of national health care surfaced!

    No matter what societal injustice you pick, all roads lead to our increasingly aristocratic government officials lining there own pockets instead of serving their constituents. Our very own U.S. CONgress.

  6. Comrade X says:

    “Capitalism isn’t only harming us, it’s double-billing us: taking first from our wallets and then depriving us of a future.”

    Ah. But it’s more depraved than this. The capitalists’ profit is a claim on our future production, after their cut on our current production. They are in charge of our future so they get a down-payment before delivery.

    Therefore, this theft of our future that Cook spotlights is only part of the total theft of our future. Now why should we expect thieves to be responsible for our future?

    • Agree: Franz
  7. TTSSYF says:

    For decades, cigarette manufacturers made enormous profits by concealing scientific evidence that over time their product could prove lethal to customers. The firms profited by externalising the costs associated with cigarettes – of death and disease – on to those buying their cigarettes and wider society. People gave Philip Morris and British American Tobacco their money as these companies made those smoking Marlboros and Lucky Strikes progressively unhealthier.

    This is typical liberal whining and refusal to take responsibility for one’s poor choices (one might even say, shifting responsibility to some “externality”). People have known for decades that smoking is bad. Even as far back as the 1930s, cigarettes were referred to as coffin nails or cancer sticks. No cigarette company ever put a gun to someone’s head and forced them to smoke.

    • Replies: @Alfred
    , @GeneralRipper
  8. Big Daddy says:

    Under true libertarianism externalities would be drastically curtailed but not eliminated as we do live in an imperfect world.

    Everyone with any sense would insure themselves against any aggression against his/her person and property. The libertarian NAP: Non Aggression Principle. You would go to independent Arbitrators to adjudicate your claim. How many people know that there are over 25,000 arbitrators today in America? Almost all business contracts include the arbitration clause.

    Don’t we insure our lives, health, house, possible disability and more today?

    Which company would you buy from under libertarianism: one that has covered its products with multibillion dollar insurance coverage in case externalities pop up or one that doesn’t?

    The Corporate Fascism we live under today can only be sustained by a cloak of government protection. Aren’t vaccines free from suit? Read Hans Herman Hoppe and Murray Rothbard and Walter Block.

  9. Anonymous[408] • Disclaimer says:

    opposing capitalism is an extreme stance in the west because westerners are so brainwashed.

    Opposing capitalism is a serious sign of being independent minded and possessing a critical mind. Two symptoms of not being a sheep, if course these characteristics are labeled as extreme by the system. But it is a good kind of extreme, to possess critical thought and an independent mind in the west does indicate an extreme resistance to brainwashing and groupthink.

  10. MarkU says:

    Economic fundamentalism (of whatever sort) is the real problem. Just because one system can be shown to be a failure does not mean that its diametric opposite is the solution. Too much power in the hands of too few people is inevitably a disaster, whether communist party ideologues or capitalist oligarchs, it matters very little. The only solution is a re-balancing of power.

    In the west fundamentalist capitalism is very much the problem, during the eras of Thatcher and Reagan the balance of power was allowed to tilt too far in the favour of the right. Since then the rich have gotten richer and richer and everyone else has gotten poorer, in comparative terms at least. The power is now openly in the hands of the oligarchs and the arrogance of those unelected plutocrats has gotten more and more obvious. Bill Gates for example, who became filthy rich by being in the right place at the right time, clearly believes that his wealth entitles him to become chief medical office for the entire planet. There are plenty of other examples, Soros, Adelson, Zuckerberg, Dorsey et al, clearly believe that their money entitles them to meddle in politics.

    In order to preempt the predictable comebacks regarding ‘the left’ and the Democrat party, does anyone seriously believe that the Democrats, the SJWs and ‘Antifa’ really represent the proletariat? Does anyone really believe that their stance on immigration is anything more than a gerrymandering exercise? If the Democrats really cared about the people of central and south America they would have stopped knocking over their governments and replacing them with US-friendly dictators. The Democrats are not truly ‘leftists’ they have contempt for the proletariat and deride them as ‘deplorable’. The Democrat’s supporters are actually a combination of the bourgeoisie, their sanctimonious and brainwashed children and a lot of people who have been promised free stuff.

    The only real solution is a return to a mixed economy where the infrastructure is developed, owned and maintained by the state. Capitalism doesn’t do infrastructure, it is too focused on the short term, it runs it down and allows it to decay. We also need to rein-in the power of the ridiculously rich and get money out of politics. Reforming the banking system would be a good start, why should private interests have control over a nations finances.

    • Agree: Thomasina
    • Thanks: Showmethereal
    • Replies: @Showmethereal
  11. HT says:

    Our country only works when we have morality and a united country and culture. When immoral greedy opportunists who have no concerns about destroying the country get their hooks in us through their businesses, we all suffer. When you hear of people like the Koch’s and George Soros teaming up for an enterprise, you know you are about to get raped.

  12. @No Friend Of The Devil

    Good points. I would point out it is a sin and a shame that China doesnt shut down state owned tobacco production. Smoking is a huge problem in China and the jobs the tobacco industry provides is not worth the overall cost to the society.

    But yeah – every system of men has its faults. Corruption is a main driver. But we all know “communism” doesnt really work. In order to be an effective socialist state – countires have to use capitalsim to grow their economies enough to be able afford socialism. But again – corruption can ruin that. But the most important aspect in any society is having competent leaders. You can have any system and if the leaders are trash – so will the system be.

  13. @MarkU

    Great comment. I am all for centrist policies.. The ultra right wing are destructive… At the same time there isnt much more hypocritical than most “limousine liberals”.

  14. Alfred says:
    @TTSSYF

    Studies of Nicotine and additives have confirmed that smoking cigarettes is highly addictive, even more so, in some conclusions, than the most addictive illegal drugs. Legally selling a highly addictive drug is far more lethal, and profitable, than “holding a gun” to someone’s head. Metaphorically there is no difference.

  15. Humanity alone has always had externalities. Just think of every battle that ever happened and its externalities. What slowed the negative down was private ownership. Both stability and community that comes with ownership. You take care of what is yours, and you are going to take care of you neighbors.

    Capitalism to me seem more like the usury pretending to loan you money for something that will depreciate by the time you own it, or won’t actually own til 30 some years later when you are nearing the end. In other words capitalism is a fancy and deceptive way to say a life of slavery. No wonder the bigwig capitalists like and support all financial totalitarian “isms.

  16. But capitalism sure can be fun.

  17. @TTSSYF

    This is typical liberal whining and refusal to take responsibility for one’s poor choices (one might even say, shifting responsibility to some “externality”). People have known for decades that smoking is bad. Even as far back as the 1930s, cigarettes were referred to as coffin nails or cancer sticks. No cigarette company ever put a gun to someone’s head and forced them to smoke.

    Exactly, and I’d bet my left nut this Leftard Cook and the vast majority of the Lefty bozo’s ranting on this site have no problem with marijuana being legal and readily available. Yet smoking weed deposits four times more tar into the lungs and contains 50 percent to 70 percent more cancer causing substances than tobacco smoke does.

  18. MarkU says:

    Now look here general, it is blindingly obvious that setting fire to vegetable matter and inhaling the smoke is going to be unhealthy, legal or not. It should also be obvious that comparing the harm caused by inhaling various types of smoke is a only useful if we are talking about like quantities. A heavy tobacco smoker will easily consume something like 1/2 an ounce a day of tobacco, a quantity far in excess of anything a weed smoker is likely to get through. The way you are talking, Jamaica and Trinidad should be the lung cancer capitals of the world.

    However, you are entirely correct in pointing out the hypocrisy in some peoples arguments. Personally I am not a fan of prohibition, all it usually achieves is to create business opportunities for the criminally minded and money for intelligence service black-ops. What I suggest is that you look after the purity of your own precious bodily fluids and allow other people to look after their own.

  19. ivan says:

    During certain phases in history as for example when Mrs Thatcher was around, the masses loved what capitalism delivered. Holidays abroad, more sex, more pornography, drinking till puking time and the rest. All while ignoring that the moral foundations of society were being eroded. When these no longer satisfy, or the masses become jaded, then capitalism gets blamed for what is essentially the masses own proclivities and lack of self-restraint. It is always easier to blame others for own sense of futility, and that is where the socialists come in, blaming the Tories or “greed”, as though the masses are paragons of virtues themselves. Nothing is going to happen, since the masses are addicted to the productions of capitalism whether in the East or West, and when they demand change they in fact are calling not for restraints on their desires but for further fulfillment of it, while they salve what remains of their conscience by supporting approved moralising causes such as being against global warming and racism.

    • Replies: @MarkU
  20. MarkU says:
    @ivan

    You obviously weren’t around during the days of Thatcher, you are talking absolute garbage. We had four million + unemployed and chronic wage stagnation (though not for the rich obviously) So those totally imaginary extra holidays abroad are a figment of your imagination. Likewise, since she slapped extra taxes on beer and reduced taxes on wine, it was hardly an era of extra time in the pub.

    As for the sex, Thatcher decided that two could live as cheaply as one (or near enough) and as a result many unemployed couples (many with children) were forced to split up and live separately in order to avoid cuts in their benefits. Also she hired an army of ‘social security snoopers’ to make sure couples were not cohabiting. Meanwhile Thatcher also decided that under 25’s shouldn’t receive the same amount of benefit as the rest of us, which meant that many more of them were forced to continue to live with their parents. It is hard to imagine how that somehow correlates with more sex.

    Why you have chosen to indulge your ideological fantasies in this particular way I cannot tell, but I was there and you plainly were not.

  21. ivan says:

    The chronology matters. It was the legacy of succeeding Labour governments that led to mass unemployment. The UK which had been an industrial powerhouse was priced out of the market by among others the Japanese. It is true that I was not in the UK then or since. But being an Anglophile in Singapore I could not help but notice that all the trucks for example turned from Leyland to Mitsubishi or Nissan around 1976. It was not Thatcher’s fault that the UK had priced itself out of the markets through high labour costs. But there was no reasoning with the unions. In spite of not anticipating the worldwide uncompetiveness of the UK, they lived the high life when overseas. Demanding to be treated as government officials when overseas.

    Earlier. the Heath government was unseated by the coal miners, she was not going to allow the same to happen to her. And here too we see the obtuseness of the unions, especially the communist Scargill. He did not see that with the newer power plants being fired by natural gas, the demand for coal was going to go down, yet the mythology persisted as though energy can only be obtained from coal.

    When she came in, it was the turn of the monetarists to make policy. Under Keith Joseph in order to kill raging inflation, they squeezed the credit, many were thrown out of jobs. In retrospect monetarism was like the mideaval bloodletting as a cure for the economy. Yet inflation was flattened. Much as you labour under the experts who determine that Covid is the worst thing to have happened to mankind today, in that era it was the consensus that raging inflation was the worst thing that can happen in an economy.

    As to holidays overseas, while you may not have enjoyed it, there were many who came to Singapore which is many hours away from the UK. many of whom were quite ordinary people. In fact my economics teacher being another Anglophile, made the point in 1978 that even dustmen from the UK could afford to holiday in Singapore.

    My point is that whoever gets into debt is going to be in serious trouble, the wages are not rising, but the obligations keep going up. A sense of bitterness creeps in that one has been cheated of the high life that many think are their due. But all that has happened is that reality has a way of asserting itself in the face of illusions.

    • Replies: @MarkU
  22. MarkU says:
    @ivan

    Unemployment was about 1, 000,000 under the Labour party, it grew to over four million under Thatcher and that is with massive fiddling of figures. The Tories changed the way unemployment was counted about two dozen times during Thatcher.

    We didn’t stop using coal, we just imported it instead. Worse still environmentally, we were importing lignite from Poland to use instead of our own anthracite. Scargill was actually telling the truth, regardless of his political affiliations, the ‘hit list’ of mines to be closed turned out to be factual, all accusations made against him turned out to be false. The final agreement that stopped the miners strike, made with the pit deputies union, was reneged on immediately by the Tories.

    I do agree that the unions generally shot themselves in the foot by unseating the Callaghan government. I also agree that a country has to manage its balance of payments, do you think that deliberately choosing to import coal rather than use British coal helped our balance of payments? Devaluation used to be the economic tool of choice, along with trade tariffs. Globalisation, the real agenda of the uber capitalists was to render those tools useless, even illegal.

    I couldn’t give a damn what your economics teacher said in 1978, Thatcher wasn’t elected till 1979 and it took a few years for her policies to work through anyhow, so much for your concern for chronology.

    A little reminder of what exactly I was complaining about with respect to your initial post.

    During certain phases in history as for example when Mrs Thatcher was around, the masses loved what capitalism delivered. Holidays abroad, more sex, more pornography, drinking till puking time and the rest.

    I would have imagined that a person who had studied economics would know better than to claim that a recession, a huge one at that, would be a time of partying for the masses.

    Despite what you Americans might read, Thatcher is still one of the most hated and reviled figures in UK politics, especially among the working classes. Until the Falkand islands war, Thatcher was the most unpopular ever prime minister at that point in her term. Amazing what a little jingoism can do, right?

    In my experience, ideology has the effect of blinding people to reality. It doesn’t matter whether they identify as being right or left, they are all capable of ignoring or even inverting reality in order to conform to their ideological stance. One of my friends recently insisted that the law of supply and demand was inapplicable in the case of imported cheap labour, his reason? ‘woke’ ideology. You have no trouble claiming that one of the worst periods of recession and unemployment in British history was a time of peak partying for the masses, foreign holidays galore and loads of time in the pub. Your reason? capitalist fundamentalist ideology. See the pattern?

    My friend is probably beyond help, are you?

    • Replies: @ivan
  23. ivan says:

    A few points:

    a. Natural gas would have been was from the UK’s own North Sea fields. I don’t see how that affects the BOP.
    b. The unemployment rate went up not just because of the monetarist bloodletting, but because your industries were overmanned. Although the UK pioneered many industrial processes even in the 60s and 70s, they were not able to take advantage of it, due to the obdurate nature of your unions.
    c. It wasn’t the Americans who took apart your industries. It was the Japanese. I recall that that the record setting supertankers of the 70s, were all built in Japan. What happened to your own shipyards?
    d. Lignite from Silesia had to be imported, since Scargill thought he had the electricity boards by the throat. Thatcher had to teach him some manners.
    e. About the Falklands, things are somewhat even. The Falklands don’t belong to the Argentinians by any stretch. It was worth fighting for.
    f. Thatcher is a hated figure, for the same reason that Trump is hated, and ironically enough even Jimmy Carter, they pointed out the obvious deficiencies in their respective nations.
    g. The unions did not simply overplay their hands with James Callaghan, but by ensuring that that Labour moved away from its working class roots into the hands of the Trots, they made the brand unelectable for decades.
    h. Even without the Falklands war, Mrs Thatcher would have been reelected in the same way that Ronald Reagan was reelected, viz, the economy was on a trajectory to long term recovery.

  24. ivan says:
    @MarkU

    I must have overlooked the REPLY button.

  25. @RoatanBill

    For many thousands of years competing religious belief systems have vied for control of the masses. A disaster.

    For many thousands of years competing political belief systems have vied for control of the masses. A disaster.

    The solution is to allow each individual to choose their religion, their government, including none of either.

    No one is somebody else’s property.

  26. Retire at 50 your children can pay for your pension in taxes TO PAY FOR qe
    they can acquire a mortgage that can never be paid off to live the illusion of being home owners

    YES i CAN SEE IT NOW IT IS ALL CLEAR TO ME

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