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The Reflected Sound As Of Underground Spirits

Oh, the irony…

It’s a bit like bronzey or Goldie (looking chain). I need some dental work doing. So this is how it works out. My dentist says she could do it but it is potentially complicated (nudge, nudge, wink, wink – oh I get you). So she could do it but if she boots me upstairs to the clinic either in Manchester or Macclesfield it counts as a hospital referral and is therefore free. Otherwise her or her partner could do it but they aren’t quite as specialist as the dental hospitals mentioned so it would be best for me to see them. OK, I trust her judgement. Fine, cool, we are all the Fonze here. But there is a kicker to the deal. If she treated me further I’d be on the hook for GBP219 to the NHS but if it is done in a hospital it is buckshee and paid for with fairy tales.

I shouldn’t mock. The Disney Company made a lot from fairy tales. So, let’s get this straight? If I opt to see a specialist rather than a local GP-type dentist I get this free? I guess it makes sense in the sense that getting it done by the top folks probs saves on further dealings (and this is a crown on a front tooth so we are not currently at home to Mr Cock-Up). I mean definitive treatment by the best place is a good thing and all and saves further costs either to the system (or me) not that “the system” comes free…

The last time I bought a computer with VAT at 20% I… Well, it’s hard to say what I thought (for the bill specifies VAT). For a normal human to even pronounce what I thought it would require vastly more extensive dental surgery than I am looking at. It would require a quart of Strangeways toilet-bowl gin and a windy-pick. And it would sound something like an Oompah Loompah yodeling a One Direction medley through a National Distress bus station urinal. Whilst it was on wobbly eggs. And with a banjo up the arse, sideways and lubed with R Kelly’s baby-fruiting juice.

Anyway. /rant off. But it is bizarre that the potentially better treatment (which admittedly isn’t too local – more on that later) is free whereas the treatment at my local dentist is GBP219. There is something wrong with this but I’m not entirely sure what it is. Perhaps that is how they get away with a profound capuchin-jockeyed donkey-derby. But if I get the tooth re-capped on the nowt this way then OK. I mean “on the nowt” with the above cacophonous caveats noted. As it ain’t free is it? But if I’m not charged again for it that is good.

I got a letter today from the local dentists with the NHS form for my ref to one of the above clinics. I had to sign a form – a blue form – Gods help us! A blue form!!! It came with another blue thing – a 2nd class stamp. Now seeing as the nearest post-box (which is gold – thank you Barney Storey*) I hand delivered the form. Less hass than posting it. The first girl I ever snogged was a Brosette** and she used the phrase “mass hass” a lot. Not that that ever involved me. I was a cipher. Run fast and low. Keep supersonic and off the radar.

I hope I made some sense here.

*That lycra-clad assassin nearly killed me once. I would have been dead’d and he’d have been in the paralympics for real.

**Yes, she had Grolsch bottle tops in her shoes and wore a red neckerchief.

Quids…

The Daily Fail just has to say this. OK, it’s bimetallic but that is it. It doesn’t really look like the Euro. More to the point if we are introducing a new coin design does that not imply a commitment to Sterling? I don’t want the Euro. Guess why? Euro notes are OK. Euro Coins are very difficult to distinguish and God alone knows what they make ‘em from but after a couple of years they look tatty as Hell. Look, I can get myself around say US coinage, or Czech or Polish or British but Euros don’t float my boat. OK, so like the Euro coin it’s bimetallic but so is the GBP2 coin which I rather like. “Standing on the shoulders of giants” and all that caper. But dear me! The Euro cents I handled in Amsterdam recently just looked rough – like they came from one of those toy tills. They looked like they had been through a Belgian. Or an Alsation. Something of that kidney. They all look the bloody same yet different. Having different national images is a pain because whereas we have instantly identifiable symbols whereas having a variety of national symbols on the reverse you don’t bloody know – I mean you know if it is German* or French but it isn’t obvious if it is 10c or 20c. It identifies where the coin came from but not what it is worth. Having them all the same colour is a hyper-pain too. The notes work. The coinage doesn’t. And it looks shonky. It doesn’t look like the Euro my dear Fail. It looks nothing like it. I think it looks quite nice. Although by 2017 I bet it won’t buy a Coke but that is another matter. And there is also too many. I like the US system (I know they have other coins) but largely it’s 1,5,10,25 and that is your small onion. Works. OK, the fact that the nickel is bigger than the dime always annoyed me but nothing to the Euro. I also liked the dollar bill. I, being a Brit, am just not used to holding a wad of foldable. I felt like a movie star though in truth I had about enough to go to Wendy’s for a burger. The smallest paper you get here is a fiver which is worth roughly USD8.30**.

But, let’s get back to the score. The pound coin is not being scrapped. The Fail is mongering the scares. It is being replaced. Fair enough. It still has her Britannic Majesty’s head on it. It looks fuck all like a Euro. I quite like it.

*The German one has Norman Foster’s “Friendly Eagle” on it. You know the one that doesn’t invade Poland. And let us all be grateful for that. Because the last time that happened…

**So I say to my wife. “That’s good – can we go to the USA”. Problemo. Myt wife is a translator and is often paid in USD so that isn’t good. Swings and bloody roundabouts. You simply can’t win. You can run but if you do so you’ll only die tired.

All your knickers are taxed by us!

But, if you think about it, that is true of all commodities. They are all composed of essentially indestructible base materials, which are always scarce to a degree and which would cause inherent problems if they all wound up being owned by a small group of people in the future. There is nothing particularly special about land, other than the fact that it is one of the easiest commodities to “harvest” in terms of labour input and that laying claim to it is inherently visible.

If you are against private ownership of land, you are against private ownership of all commodities.

- Jaded Voluntarist, Samizdata commenting on a post about Land Value Tax.

I agree with JV but would go further. It appears to me the basic argument for LVT is to kind of force people to be “productive” with their assets. It seems it takes almost a moral view on this. I don’t know in what sense JV meant “commodity” but I see no reason, if you accept the LVT logic, not to extend this argument to all property from a heap of coal (a commodity in the technical sense) to things that aren’t commodities but just “stuff people own”.

Let’s say you own a helicopter. Why not, by the LVT logic, should you not pay Air-transport Value Tax on the chopper because you might decide to use it to run an air-taxi business? Well, why not? Those hundred acres you own might similarly be used to raise crops, build houses or whatever in exactly the same way.

So, you don’t have a hundred acres or a whirly-bird but I bet you have a computer? So why not Website Development Tax on the basis of owning a computer?

To take it to a sort of reductio ad absurdam in terms of possessions – what of underwear? You might have those frillies and posing pouches for purely personal reasons but that doesn’t mean they can’t potentially be used to pursue a career as an “exotic dancer” (or similar) any less than the hundred acres of land be used to enter into organic market-gardening? So why not just tax them the same way?

My point here is that if the mere ownership of land can can be taxed on the basis of it’s perceived economic potential then so can everything else. The LVT principle means an undermining of the entire principle of private property whether the mightiest of estates or the skimpiest of g-strings.

PS. And before anyone starts… I appreciate foxy underwear doesn’t last as long as land but in much the same way your underwear drawer’s contents need maintaining with a continual influx of expenditure so does property if you want to maintain the value of either.

In a hole in the ground…

…there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with panelled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted, provided with polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats-the hobbit was fond of visitors. The tunnel wound on and on, going fairly but not quite straight into the side of the hill-The Hill, as all the people for many miles round called it-and many little round doors opened out of it, first on one side and then on another. No going upstairs for the hobbit: bedrooms, bathrooms, cellars, pantries (lots of these), wardrobes (he had whole rooms devoted to clothes), kitchens, dining-rooms, all were on the same floor, and indeed on the same passage. The best rooms were all on the left-hand side (going in), for these were the only ones to have windows, deep-set round windows looking over his garden, and meadows beyond, sloping down to the river.

- JRRT, “The Hobbit”.

Sounds OK. I mean apart from the Sky dish and broadband that’s nicer than my gaff – and I like my gaff. So… What is the Mainly Fail on about with Mrs Bilbo. She looks a sight and lives like a scumbag in a way that annoys me (because she thinks herself “righteous”). We clearly all can’t – all 62 million of us Brits can’t afford to live like that – even if we wanted to! I mean I live in a house first built c.1600 but it ain’t Hobbiton (it’s on the outskirts of Manchester which was one of the places modernity was invented). More to the point why consider that living in a mud-hut can be compared to Bilbo’s gaff? Shifty Failish churnalism – again. Yet again.

Soon enough I shall wire-up the TV (downstairs) to the router (upstairs) for internet TV. This will involve an electric drill and language that would put Viz to shame. As I said, it’s c.1600 and I’m c.1973 so God knows what you drill into. Or what ineffable Geordisms may occur. I am no longer taking monies on the frequent use of “buggerated piss-flappery”.

Bilbo lived the most comfortable life imaginable (without electricity) (I can’t imagine life before Nikola Tesla stole lightning from Al Gore* or whomever because Tesla was a nasty man and made us modern.)

Admittedly I don’t have wizards and dwarves coming round with offers of quests. The lack thereof is a bit of a downer about living in the C21st. I would give up my comfort in an instant mind and dash out of my gaff, without a handkerchief, on an adventure (it’s my “Tookish” part). But whilst part of me would love to go into Wilderland with an Elvish blade in the company of dwarves I am still in Bag End. Hell’s teeth I want to be in the first Éored storming the fields of Pelennor. But it ain’t going to happen.

I am up for offers for anything utterly outrageous even if it means missing second breakfast. Usually that means somebody has a buggered Dell which can be fun but it’s not exactly dragon-slaying is it?

It is though civilization and not some sort of (quasi-sexual/quasi-religious?) kick about daubing the walls with horse shit. Because you see I am a Geordie and that means engineering and making life easier and more pleasant. But not just Geordies. Oh, no! Lots of other folk got into engines and abandoned the cute life – look at the “Good Life” – would the Goods have survived without continual help from Margo and Jerry? It is only slags like Drew Barrymore

Barrymore: I took a poo in the woods hunched over like an animal … awesome.
Diaz: (laughing) I’m so jealous right now. I’m going to the woods tomorrow.
Barrymore: It was awesome.

And E.T. told her to be “Be Good”! That’s Cameron Diaz by the way who once plastered the inside of someone’s gaff in Nepal with cow shit – on a show for MTV – whether they asked for this or not I dunno. Do you see a common thread here? I call it “Marie Antoinette syndrome”. You only aspire to play milk-maids and such when you don’t have to. For the really poor of this World in Africa and India and such places motorbikes and mobile phones make the difference not Hollywood A-listers who probably spend more on a set of bathroom taps than it would cost to drill a well for an entire village for people who can only dream of having a bathroom let alone the palatial ones Ms Barrymore and Ms Diaz have in their mansions.

So how does the humble phone and the motorbike help? Well, imagine you are from Kerala and fish for a living. There are several ports you can land your catch at. You got a mate shore-side and he texts you which one is short on fish and he’s got his bike (so he can find out) and your fish will be delivered by him on his bike. It all works out beautifully. It minimizes waste and ultimately forces down prices so it ain’t just good for you and your biker pal but for everyone.That makes a difference. Drew Barrymore crapping in your mango plantation doesn’t. Unless of course the canny owner puts it on EBay quick-smart, as a “Genuine Hollywood Turd”! Some deranged loon would buy it. If the internet has taught us anything it is that there is always one…

Oh, it undoubtedly made her feel good for a certain value of good. But so what? If she really wanted to help she could invest her millions in a Kawasaki dealership in Angola or an Indonesian mobile phone merchant or something.

We could save so much water if we all “hunched over like an animal”. It would make dog-walking perilous mind. “Watch out Rover! Charlize Theron is taking a dump behind that bush!”. Oh, and we’d have endemic cholera. Which of course they have in the poor countries. There is nothing noble about being a savage. And there is nothing decadent about having indoor plumbing. If you want a suggestion for the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square how about Joseph Bazalgette?

Or Drew Barrymore squatting. I shouldn’t have said that because that is precisely the sort of thing the Arts Council would fund. Not a distinguished white, male, be-whiskered Victorian engineer. Oh that would never do! The Bazalgette sewer system still works for an enormously larger London. He built quite a bit of slack into it. Basically he based the diameters on the maximum expected and then doubled them. His argument for this is they were only going to do it once so… And that is how we have the magnificent city we call our capital. Because of people who had vision beyond shitting in St John’s Wood and calling it “awesome”. Joseph Bazalgette lived a large chunk of his life in St John’s Wood and God alone knows what the great engineer would have thought if he’d found a Hollywood starlet “in the position” whilst out surveying. A sewer system for the (at the time) largest city ever on the planet is an awesome achievement. An arboreal defecation, less so.

And Bilbo wouldn’t approve. He liked his comfort (who doesn’t?). He liked a well-stocked larder and a mug of ale with his pipe by his front door. He was, in short (which he was), disgustingly middle-class. And fair play to the fellow. He was (is?) what half the World aspires to be and what a very vocal, though considerably less than half the World, aspires to demonize.

To put it bluntly. I suspect that a huge swathe of enivro-mental do-gooders want Africa and (other places) to remain “authentic”. They don’t want ‘em to develop because that means they can’t go over and patronise them and feel good about it. And of course development means certain people will make loads of money which is clearly evil unless you make loads of money from being one of “Charlie’s Angels”. Of course that is fine. Digging sewers in Lagos or putting Wifi into Mumbai is obviously evil. You know in much the same way the greatest philanthropist (and he does look a bit Hobbitish) of all time is an evil man. That would be Bill Gates. Of course he was never as cool as Steve Jobs who never even flicked a dime towards research into the cancer that killed him (look it up – it’s 2:32am by this Win 7 machine here). But he wore jeans and a black polo-neck so he must be cool and therefore good.

I am now going to sit down with a pipe of Longbottom and discuss roots with The Gaffer…

Economics 101

This is my take on what commentator mark has to say here.

If a government can just print money then there is no absolute requirement for them to get their revenue from taxes, or for them to borrow money from anyone. I take it you agree with this – the problem is the fear of generating inflation.

No it isn’t like that. Neither is their any strict limitation on me going to the local corner shop with the contents of The Monopoly box. Sayeed will tell me to fuck off but strictly speaking… Why am I reminded of the Ark-ship B here from Hitch-hikers? You know they define leaves as currency and when massive inflation hits they embark on a scheme of disastrous deforestation.

But what is the mechanism by which inflation will increase? If the market mechanism is functioning, price increases when demand for a product increases more than supply (or supply declines). Money does not have a magic property whereby its mere existence increases the price of goods – people have to spend it to make this happen. I take it you agree with this also.

A year ago Sayeed sold Coca Cola for 10p less a tin than he does now. Is this because the Cola Mines of Atlanta are running low? No. This is due to inflation which is caused by the government not even pretending to print money (or grow leaves). Let’s look at this scarily for a moment. If I wanted to buy a reasonable house in a nice area I would need a quarter of a million quid. A hundred years ago I could do it for 500 quid. If scarcity is the driver then please explain how come a rough doubling of population has led to a 500-fold increase in property prices? No the driver was inflation and what Mark Wadsworth calls “Home Ownerism”. How does that work? It works like this. I think we can all agree that say a holiday in Acapulco is a luxury but food in the belly and a roof over your head and a sources of heat, light and water are absolute basics. Mr Ugg the caveman would agree with that one. Now when the price of all basics other than housing rises the likes of the Daily Mail and the Express go rightly mental. House prices going-up to silly levels is though seen as “a good thing”. It’s like when they go on about abandoning collective bargaining for salaries across the country so say a nurse in London is paid more than a nurse in the Orkneys you just make the situation worse because you might as well write cheques drawn on the public purse directly to Rachman. Or another way of looking is this. If we need to bend the market out of shape to allow a nurse (essentially a graduate job these days) to afford a modest roof over his or her head in London then isn’t something deeply structurally wrong?

In this case producing more money will increase production, because a man who was doing nothing will instead be making aircraft and a factory which was sitting idle will be producing missiles. We are increasing demand for aircraft and since there is idle supply, it is unlikely that the price of aircraft will increase by much. As a worst case scenario, the price of aircraft will increase a lot – but this is still unrelated to the price of stadiums, the price of coca cola or anything else unless demand for those increases also.

A Mk14 Spitfire cost twelve grand. An F-35 costs the thick-end of a hundred million. The Typhoons over Libya cost us 80 grand an hour -operating costs -not capital. Aircraft do cost more. We only don’t notice it because airlines are vicious because they have to be – razor-edge economics. And your argument is pure Keynesian nonsense. You might as well say we can cause economic growth by paying Fred to dig a hole and Dave to fill it in again. If people want it and are allowed it will happen. Your example of missiles is curious. Think on that.

If demand for a certain product is too high, the government could reduce demand by lowering spending or increasing taxes upon it.

Which is why the government increases taxes annually on addictive substances and things you can’t get around like fuel. Oh, but you don’t have a car? Don’t matter. Even if you walk to the shops someone had to deliver their stuff. There is a way round it. Living in a yurt on sunshine and eating shit off the trees in some Allah forsaken ‘stan.

But this is a very different story from “reducing spending on aircraft is neccesary to make a stadium” – that simply isn’t true.

Let’s say you have a twenty. You could go to the movies with your date or have a takeaway with him or her. Not both. To say otherwise is the economics of magic beans.

The sad thing is that right wingers are very happy to oppose the idea of aggregate demand when it suits them, but are still prepared to use the very same idea to argue against government intervention.
And I am amazed that you think people need to be taught the bog-standard, intuitive views which you have expressed. Where do you think you learned these ideas? I think I remember seeing a similar view of inflation on an episode of Duck Tales once…

Why do intuitive views need to be taught? They are like intuitive and frequently wrong. Here is an intuitive idea for you all. In my mother’s house in Gateshead there is a Monopoly set. As a small child I used a Biro to add zeros to my notes. Now at some level I knew this didn’t work but I did it because I was a kid and everyone games Monopoly anyway. If I had kids I would rather they watched “Anal Angels XV” than play that game for it is wicked. It really brings out the worst in people. The only other game I ever saw that lead almost to the Rozzers being called was Risk and that “incident” wasn’t strictly speaking game-related. That was because after copious libations a bloke wearing a Soviet general’s hat and mirror-shades, drunk and affecting a Libyan accent (he was from Sussex) urinated in a Scouser’s sink. Crazy student days! Damn fool! He’d taken North America which is the key to the whole game. My point is QE or whatever is exactly what I knew was wrong with what I did with Monopoly money when I was eight. Gideon Osborne has a lot of catch-up to do. Yeah, I said it. I trust small children from the early eighties (like me!) more than Oxford PPE graduates. Or Nottingham University chemistry students (almost as bad as medics) playing board games and causing fisticuffs. They never played Risk again.

It is important to tie our ideas of money to what is happening in terms of real products and services.

If only that were true! But you need to define “real” here. And that is tricky. That is why there is a market. For example let us say a hip-replacement operation costs 10 grand. Now I don’t like hospital food or being taken apart by doctors (I have lived with medical students) and I don’t have a gammy leg so that isn’t a ten grand value to me. It would be if I was walking like Dr Strangelove. 10 grand though would buy a nice little motor -now that could be useful. I now have to get my Dick out. My Philip K Dick. His long short story Paycheck has a lot to say about value.

Dick said of the story: “How much is a key to a bus locker worth? One day it’s worth 25 cents, the next day thousands of dollars. In this story I got to thinking that there are times in our lives when having a dime to make a phone call spells the difference between life and death. Keys, small change, maybe a theater ticket – how about a parking receipt for a Jaguar? All I had to do was link this idea up with time travel to see how the small and useless, under the wise eyes of a time traveler, might signify a great deal more. He would know when that dime might save your life. And, back in the past again, he might prefer that dime to any amount of money, no matter how large.”

Thornavis,

If you are familiar with th idea of opportunity cost, answer me this. What is the opportunity cost of a stadium? In what way is it a aircraft except in the sense that we have chosen it to be?

The opportunity cost of anything is the cost of what else you could do with the money. To put it simply a fairly wealthy soul might buy a Porsche but that means he or she has chosen their form of German metal and they can’t then buy the Mercedes too. That is opportunity cost. Either/or.

The Ritchie Popular Front

Ritchie strikes at CiF!

“Imagine,” said PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka, “what a difference it would make if we didn’t only march together but took strike action together.”

Imagine all the people living for today… You may say I’m a dreamer… Nah, mate, I’d say you’re off your fucking rocker just as much as that unkempt-conceptual-artist-shagging-bed-inning-warbling-scouse-cunt was. Imagine “no possessions. It’s easy if you’re rich (or Ritch)…” I apologise to all Beatle’s fans – it must be fucking dreadful for you.

It gets better…

The cheer that resounded from the crowd in Hyde Park spoke for itself. This was 26 March, the day that half a million workers from across Britain turned out for the most significant manifestation of trade union strength in decades – although you may remember it as the day when some windows were broken.

Some windows were broken. Alas not enough. Paging Fred Bastiat I love the use of “manifestation” there. It’s like the Ghost of Winters of Discontent Past ambled by rattling his chains!

However inspiring 26 March was [was it?!], though, leaving it at a march from A to B – just in time for local elections – would be a terrible waste. Some union leaders may feel that the best use of this energy is to vote Labour in the May elections.

But of course they’d be wrong because despite the last Labour government pushing public spending to pretty much half of GDP and Mr Ed being brought-up a believing Trotter… Oh, give me fucking strength!

Do you want full on communism? Yes you do. Oh you do.

But Labour councils are also pushing through cuts, and it is obvious from local strike ballots that union members aren’t putting up with this.

Or, clearly, reality.

The next logical step is, exactly as Serwotka says, co-ordinated strike action. So, the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), National Union of Teachers (NUT), University and College Union (UCU) and Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) unions are moving towards balloting their members for a one-day national strike over pensions, job losses and wages.

To be paid for how exactly? Unless Ritchie has some magic beans of course.

What sticks out here is the participation of the ATL, which is a professional teaching union not given to militancy. Its last strike action was in 1979. Similarly, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) overwhelmingly passed a motion at its annual conference in Liverpool calling for an indicative ballot of members for national strike action. This is far from typical for the RCN, which, until a change in its policy in 1995, always ruled out industrial action. The “proletarianisation” of professionals in the public sector, with degraded conditions even for usually respected staff, is leading some of the traditionally conservative unions to be more militant than their larger counterparts.

Oh, wow! Ritchie is of course a Class-A commie with plenty of form. But just re-read that! One way of looking at that is that certain relatively cushy public-sector employees are getting the same sort of (probably lesser) cosh as the private sector at last and are calling, “No fair ‘coz we is special like!”. Another way of looking at that is that Ritchie now sees the middle classes joining the class war against… er, who’s left? Ah!… Uncle Penny Bags* which means Ritchie is seeing a grand coagulation of all state workers from the dustman to the (consultant) dermatologist against all private-sector workers which begs (to me, not to Ritchie, obviously) the question of where they expect the money to come from? Note his typical middle-class l(e/o)fty mixture of desire to be a prole and abhorrence at that actually happening to the middle classes like him.

Personally I’d prefer it if he had his own “Little Richard” tenderised in a Breville by repeated slamming before the actual grilling commenced. I would not want to dissapoint him (he’s eating it) and apparently cock (and bull) tends to be tough without appropriate treatment beforehand. That German cannibal a few years back found it so. Anyway that Krautulent sausage-sucker has a good many years in das große Haus to ponder the the virtue of a marinade. Any African dictator from the last sixty years (or Nigella) could tell you sautéing a penis is sheer culinary madness! It first needs to be hung, preferably well hung, anyway.

If the strike ballots are approved by the members, this could result in up to 800,000 people taking strike action. If other small unions join the strike, there could be over a million people taking industrial action on that day. However, the largest unions – such as Unison, which drew by far the biggest contingent on the march – have not agreed to take part.

Unison tends to represent lower paid workers than Ritchie’s now almost besainted RCN or ATL. Their members can’t afford to grandstand.

According to Paul Mason, this is because their “leaders believe they cannot deliver strike action until October, if at all”. In fact, I understand that Unison has indicated a willingness to strike in autumn, while the GMB have not. Unison’s logic is that if it strikes sooner, it will undermine negotiations with the government. Why should it be that Britain’s biggest unions are so hesitant in fighting the most devastating assault on their members pay, conditions and jobs in generations? With almost 7 million members situated in strategically important sectors of the economy, the TUC has immense potential power – but they’re reluctant to use it.

The TUC are crackers.

Please bring on the RMT! Please do! Let’s have a tube strike long enough that we can dispense with the the idea once and forever that the London Underground needs highly paid (and the perks are something as well!) drivers to merely clutch a dead-man’s handle. Bob Crow could be immolated on a stack of waste paper equal to all his pay-packets in fivers and the run-off of fat could be used for bio-diesel and they bitch about “fat cats” bleeding the country dry! The fucking cheek! I’d have the cheek – well, all four of them and just one of the southernmost cheeks would drive a Vauxhall Astra from here to Beijing.

Since the mid-1980s, the trade union leadership has mainly been steeped in the culture of the “new realism”.

Or perhaps, just “realism” as everyone else calls it.

Broadly speaking, this entailed accepting the policies of the government of the day, and negotiating the best deal for members within that framework.

Forgive me if I am wrong but isn’t that the entire point of a trade union? To get the best deal for their members and not drag us all to the sunlit Korean uplands north of the DMZ? The smarter union leaders have learned the lesson of the likes of the British Leyland strikes of the ’70s – the ultimate industrial-relations firing squad.

Sweetheart deals were in, and industrial militancy was out.

I was wrong. At least in Ritchie-land.

A series of defeats and a gradual erosion of union density strengthened the hold of such ideas. But if this strategy ever had any plausibility, it now looks masochistic.

Unite’s position is more nuanced. Len McCluskey spoke in favour for co-ordinated action on 26 March, and the union’s national health committee recently voted in favour of joining strike action on 30 June. In that sense, Unite forms a bridge between the smaller, more militant unions, and the big battalions allied to Labour. McCluskey has also advocated a model of political unionism (eg co-operating with anti-cuts campaigns) quite different from traditional “bread and butter” unionism. This offers a way forward redolent of Wisconsin, where trade union action was plugged into a much wider community response to Republican cuts.

I thought Len McCluskey was dead? Or is he just mummified like Lenin himself** so that they can wheel him out with a curtain rod up his arse for May Day parades and such?

So, what is the strategy here? Some will say that a one-day strike isn’t going to work. This government may be weak, but it won’t cave after 24 hours. But this would miss the point: 30 June would not be the end, but a good start. As with 26 March, the aim must be to build something big enough to give confidence to other trade unions to join the fightback. It must be to break the paralysis that seized the British labour movement since the recession began.

And who caused that?

If Unison did join national strike action in October, and Unite participated along with the smaller unions, it would constitute a sea change in the culture of industrial relations in this country. Such co-ordinated action would be as close to a general strike as we’ve seen in Britain since 1926.

And that worked brilliantly!

It would have a much bigger impact in the UK than in the continent, where general strikes are a more regular occurrence.

Let’s out Greek the Greeks. “At 12 noon on the appointed day the Red Flag shall be unfurled and all kebab-shop elephant-legs will stop turning” – People’s Commissar, Stavros Ritchie. And so the revolution shall start on a bit of an empty stomach.***

It would shock the government to its core. The alternative is surrender [note again the deliberately militaristic terminology], a weaker union movement and a much nastier society.

As opposed to a society where Ritchie wants reasonably well-paid professionals such as teachers and nurses to hold the nation to ransom on the off-chance of creating a socialist utopia which would be a really nice place to live…

…if you were a people’s commissar such as Ritchie, obviously…

…at least until the Maximum Leader felt it was time for a purge.

Truly the enema of the people!

H/T Harry.

*You ever noticed the bleating the left has contra “monopoly” “capitalists” with the only solution they propose being that they and their acolytes take control of everything? You ever noticed the irony failure there? They haven’t. (they usually lack in irony too – the self-righteous cunts). Who was Lenin or Castro but the ultimate monopoly capitalists? Ah, but they work for “the people”. Yeah, and I work for the twice fictional Goodgulf the wizard.
**When my wife lived in Moscow she visited the dapper little genocidal maniac muppet. She’d had a few too many the night before and almost puked in Lenin’s tomb (incidentally the name of Ritchie’s blog). This would have been a diplomatic incident.
***During an “anti-globalisation” shindig in London my wife saw (she sees everything – note to self – she knows why I’m planning on buying a microwave from a car-boot sale…) the protesters queuing for lattes at Starbucks…

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