Music

Let’s Not Kid Ourselves

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 17/08/2019 - 1:13am in

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Music


Much of what David Berman wrote and performed throughout his life was country music: songs about the sadness and difficulty of trying to get by in the world, along with descriptions of that world. “When God was young, he made the wind and the sun,” Berman sang on the opening song of Bright Flight. “And since then, it’s been a slow education.” When country songs are successful, it is because their outward simplicity, their plain-spokenness, their colloquialisms emerge out of enormous and delicate efforts of emotional compression. You can tell when a country song is just simple—when the necessary effort hasn’t been made—and you can tell when a songwriter hasn’t pulled off the compression, because then the song sounds mannered. But when both elements are working, a country song can shimmer, throb, or glare at you with an uncomfortable intensity.

Johnson’s Fascistic Denunciation of ‘Collaborators’ with the EU

Yesterday Mike put up a piece commenting on Johnson’s Fascistic rhetoric describing those opposing a no-deal Brexit in parliament. Simply put, he described them as collaborators with the EU. The Blonde Beast said

There’s a terrible kind of collaboration as it were going on between people who think they can block Brexit in Parliament and our European friends, and our European friends are not moving.

We need our European friends to compromise and the more they think that there’s a chance that Brexit can be blocked in Parliament, the more adamant they are in sticking to their position.

As Mike points out, Johnson is falsely claiming that the ordinary people, who don’t want a no-deal Brexit, have teamed up with the EU. It also identifies his enemies as a unified cause, which is also one of classic features of Fascism. Following the infamous forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Hitler viewed everything that he considered damaging to Germany to be part of a massive Jewish conspiracy. Financial capitalism, socialism, Communism and democracy were all parts of this conspiracy to undermine Germany and destroy and enslave the White, ‘Aryan’ race. As were decadent modern art, music, literature and unAryan scientific theories, like Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, because Einstein was Jewish.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/08/14/terrible-collaboration-speech-johnson-flashes-his-fascist-credentials/

Johnson hasn’t gone quite that far yet, and Mike points out that he isn’t a Fascist. But he is showing many of the warning signs. So much so that one tweeter put out a picture of BoJob with the caption ‘This man is the biggest threat to Britain since Adolf Hitler’. It’s an exaggeration, but a forgivable one, considering that BoJob’s Brexit is already wrecking British economy and industry, and that he and his backers in the Murdoch press are looking forward to a trade deal with Trump’s America which would see our agriculture and industry bought up by the Americans, including the Health Service, the welfare state dismantled, workers’ rights removed completely, along with our environmental protection laws. All so that BoJob and the elite rich can enjoy absolute unfettered capitalism and massive profits for their own businesses.

And I’m not surprised that Johnson is sounding like a Fascist. He’s a massive egotist, like Donald Trump, and both men are extremely authoritarian. Trump talked about having newspapers and press people, who criticised him shut down. Johnson, when he was mayor of London, spent millions of taxpayers’ money on three watercannon that were illegal in mainland Britain. And BoJob’s the leader of a highly authoritarian party. Under Thatcher the Tories had links with very unpleasant South American Fascist regimes, like Chile’s General Franco. The Libertarians in the party, including Paul Staines, used to invite to their annual dinner the leader of one of the Fascist death squads in El Salvador. The Freedom Association also wanted the suppression of trade unions, workers’ rights and the welfare state and NHS, and unfettered capitalism. It was very much freedom for the rich, and wage slavery for the poor.

And he’s supported by a fanatically authoritarian press. Remember how the Tory papers demonised the judges and lawyers, who had ruled against one of Tweezer’s Brexit plans as the enemies of the people. It was the classic rhetoric of authoritarian, Fascist regimes.

And you can bet that as opposition to Boris mounts, he and his backers in the media are going to become even more splenetic and Fascistic in their denunciations. They’re already demanding anti-democratic measures to get what they want. This is the suspension of parliament, as advocated by the Torygraph, so that BoJob can force through Brexit without opposition from MPs. Who are our elected representatives.

BoJob is a menace to British prosperity, British industry, British working people and British democracy. Get him out!

 

Of course governments will be fiscally stretched if they define large surpluses as the norm

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 14/08/2019 - 6:33pm in

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Wednesday and a short blog post. I regularly work for unions as an expert analyst/witness in their struggles to achieve wage justice with employers who are intent on paying as little as possible. Often these are private employers but at the moment I am helping a union with their campaign to win a reasonable wage increase against a state government. The logic deployed by the government in relation to their fiscal affairs and their wage setting behaviour is a classic demonstration of how neoliberalism has distorted any sense of reason and created self-fulfilling problems. So today, I will just introduce this issue – given how fascinating it is.

Wage caps and fiscal sustainability

I mentioned in Monday’s blog post – We are approaching a period of fiscal dominance (August 12, 2019) – how the Reserve Bank of Australia governor, in his annual appearance before the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics last week, had called out the wage caps that state governments have imposed as one of the major reasons wages growth is near zero and households are struggling to maintain consumption expenditure.

He told the Committee that he “would like to see stronger wage growth in the country” and that aspiration was being thwarted by the
government wage guidelines (around 2 to 2.5 per cent per annum increase maximum).

So the public sector “wage caps are cementing low wage norms across the country”.

Dr Lowe continued:

In the medium term, I think wages in Australia should be increasing at three point something. The reason I say that is that we are trying to deliver an average rate of inflation of 21⁄2 per cent. I’m hoping labour productivity growth is at least one per cent—and I’m hoping we can do better than that—but 21⁄2 plus one equals 31⁄2. I think that’s a reasonable medium-term aspiration; I think we can do better, but I think we should be able to do that. So I would like to see the system return to wage growth starting with three …

what is really important is the wage norms in the country … And the public sector wage norm I think is to some degree influencing private sector outcomes as well—because, after all, a third of the workforce work directly or indirectly for the public sector … But I hope that, over time, that balance could shift in a way that would allow wage increases, right across the Australian community, of three point something.

The union I am working for, by the way, is claiming a 3.5 per cent wage norm.

I don’t see anything controversial about the claim, which is certainly consistent with lower end productivity growth estimates – that is, non-inflationary wage increases are possible if any nominal wage increase above the inflation rate are within the productivity growth space.

The problem is that these wage caps have become dominant across all the state and territory jurisdictions.

What is their motivation?

The claim is that they allow the governments to achieve what they state is a fiscally sustainable position.

In the case I am working on at present this sort of logic produces some classic self-reinforcing impasses.

The logic goes like this:

1. The state government is facing a very difficult fiscal environment as revenue growth slows in the wake of a slowing economy.

2. The wage caps are essential in this environment to allow the state government to manage this difficult environment and keep public service costs under control.

But accompanying this logic are fiscal principles including that the government will pursue “net operating surpluses that ensure any new capital investment in the General Government sector is funded primarily through recurrent revenues rather than borrowing”.

This is extreme neoliberal ‘sound finance’.

Think about it – it means that the gap between recurrent spending and recurrent revenue has to be such that all new capital spending by the government can be paid for.

And think about that rule in the context of claims that they cannot pay a wage increase above the low wage cap because of the difficult fiscal environment.

Trying to achieve a net operating surplus big enough to provide funds for the state’s capital investment program is a very challenging aspiration.

And what it leads to is a squeeze on recurrent spending, which is primarily (in the context of the Australian constitution and sharing of powers between the states and the federal governments) the way in which public services are provided in Australia.

Most of the large social policy responsibilities – education, health, environment, transport, police, etc – are held by the states not the federal government in our system.

Trying to achieve net operating surpluses of sufficient size to also fund the capital investment program also means revenue has to be prioritised and usually means capital infrastructure programs are starved of funds.

However, this fiscal principle is not supported by any reasonable application of economic theory or distributive justice.

It unreasonably stifles economic activity in the present and places an inequitable burden on current taxpayers for benefits arising from the infrastructure investment (new capital investment) that will be enjoyed by generations into the distant future.

At the state government level (where the state is a user of the national government’s currency), most public finance experts would hold out that recurrent spending should be matched by recurrent revenue and capital expenditure should be funded by debt issuance to ensure that the funding burden of the capital infrastructure, which provides services over many years, is borne progressively by the generations that enjoy those services.

State government borrowing costs are reduced because they are influenced by the impact of risk-free debt issuance by the federal government.

But the point is that any state government that adopts a rule like this is operating at odds with standard public finance practice.

And, in doing so, it conditions the concept of a “challenging fiscal environment” to become an assessment based on ideology (an extreme version of ‘sound finance’) rather than the result of a reasonable and broadly accepted economic logic.

Of course, the fiscal outlook becomes challenging when the government adopts such an extreme benchmark for defining what is to be the norm.

Further, the wage caps that the states have put in place bias growth in wages throughout the economy downwards, which then has the effect that economic growth has to rely on either increased government deficits, private business investment or household credit growth in the wake of external deficits.

With private investment faltering and governments pursuing austerity targets, the only other source of growth is household consumption spending.

The major component of total expenditure is household consumption and private business investment is linked to that (via accelerator processes), such that, if household consumption expenditure drags, business investment is likely to be slow as well because the existing capital stock can more than cope with the production demands.

It is now obvious that with household debt at record levels, growth will not come from credit-fuelled consumption expenditure. The national accounts data is showing that clearly.

That means the flat wages growth, exacerbated by the low wage caps, stifle overall growth, which, in turn, damages state revenue receipts.

In other words, a vicious cycle emerges and the so-called ‘challenging fiscal environment’ is a product of the very policies (wage caps) and net recurrent surpluses that the government has put in place to address what they think is a challenging outlook.

That is how crazy this neoliberal period has become.

Sydney Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) Event

The Modern Money Australia NSW Branch is organising their first major event on August 24, 2019 in Sydney.

Details of the event are available – HERE.

I will be speaking as will Rohan Grey.

Tickets to the event are free – which doesn’t tell you anything about the quality of the speakers (-:

It will be held between 14:00 and 16:00 at:

Theatre 203, Pioneer House, Notre Dame University Broadway Campus
128-140 Broadway
Chippendale, NSW 2008

Please support this group as they become part of the national MMT network – joining the excellent work being done by the Melbourne Chapter of Modern Money Australia.

Call for financial assistance to make the MMT University project a reality

The – Foundation for Monetary Studies Inc. – aka The MMT Foundation serves as a legal vehicle to raise funds and provide financial resources for educational projects as resources permit and the need arises.

The Foundation is a non-profit corporation registered in the State of Delaware as a Section 501(c)(3) company. I am the President of the company.

Its legal structure allows people can make donations without their identity being revealed publicly.

The first project it will support is – MMTed (aka MMT University) – which will provide formal courses to students in all nations to advance their understanding of Modern Monetary Theory.

At present this is the priority and we need some solid financial commitments to make this project possible and sustainable.

Some sponsors have already offered their generous assistance.

We need significantly more funds to get the operations off the ground.

In order for FMS to solicit tax-exempt donations while our application to the IRS is being processed, the Modern Money Network, Ltd. (“MMN”) has agreed to serve as a fiscal sponsor, and to receive funds on FMS’s behalf.

MMN is a non-profit corporation registered in the State of Delaware, and is a federal tax-exempt public charity under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Donations made to MMN on behalf of FMS are not disclosed to the public.

Furthermore, all donations made to MMN on behalf of FMS will be used exclusively for FMS projects.

Please help if you can.

We cannot make the MMTed project viable without funding support.

And finally, some music …

I was listening to this today. Hubert Sumlin is one of my favourite guitar players. He was Howlin’ Wolf’s lead guitarist and recorded several of his own albums.

Rolling Stone magazine ranked him 43rd of its 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

Another fact of interest is that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards paid his funeral expenses when he died in 2011. See the story – HERE,

His playing was staccato in nature, short sharp, trebly phrases – but some really classic ones that everyone who wanted to play this style of guitar learned even if they were unaware that Hubert Sumlin was the author.

This is the entire album from 1990 – Healing Feeling – with Track 1 the title track.

A great way to think about economics and public policy.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2019 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

Apparently Brown could but Boris cannot – British progressive journalism at its worst

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 07/08/2019 - 6:33pm in

It is Wednesday and my blog post-lite day. A few topics – thugs in Britain. Mindless ‘progressive’ journalism trying to tell readers that while Gordon Brown could use fiscal policy tools (spending and taxation) to advantage to stimulate the British economy, Boris Johnson cannot. Piffle and the lies from the UK Guardian are getting more desperate by the week. And some notes on guns. Then a nice bit of guitar playing. Tomorrow, I will be extending my ideas on the Green New Deal.

Thugs try to derail MMT presentation

We learned overnight that an event in Brighton tonight, where British Labour MP Chris Williamson will talk about Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) has been compromised by mindless thugs who have threatened violence to staff at the proposed venue should the event go ahead.

The full story is here in the Morning Star (August 6, 2019) – Williamson refuses to bow to thuggery after venue threatened by two men.

One of the tactics fascists deploy is to bully people with threats of violence in order to curb ideas they cannot counter.

The last week on Twitter has seen a continuation of the barrage of anti-Semitic accusations being made.

They seem to keep coming. I wrote about them recently in this blog post – When the Left disgraces itself (July 30, 2019).

But the dirt continues to be aired.

I will be sharing the stage with Chris Williamson to discuss MMT and the Green New Deal.

Chris is a friend and a dedicated Labour MP who has been courageous in embracing MMT and seeking to advance those ideas within the policy space.

Apparently, for all these diehard defenders of freedom, my association to Chris proves I hold anti-Semitic views, and, in turn, proves that Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) comes out of the same dark origins.

It is an absurd proposition and reflects the desperation that people within the Labour Party or sympathetic to it are willing to go to undermine the leadership and purge progressive economic thinking.

As is clear – the hate talk of US Republicans against minorities has spawned gun massacres – the ‘manifesto’ of the El Paso murderer contains sentences that you can trace to various Tweets from Trump and his gang.

Relentless misuse of anti-Semitic accusations to make political points not only degrades the Jewish people but also spawns more extreme behaviour.

We cannot rule out the proposition that these thugs in the UK have been emboldened by this Twitter and social media onslaught against Chris and MMT (dragging me into the fray).

Let me state this clearly – the event that I am involved in on September 23 will go ahead, even if we have to stand on Brighton beach or in a park with a loud hailer.

British debate being derailed by nonsense

It is getting very hard to separate truth from fake in the sort of stuff that the UK Guardian publishes these days. Take the recent offering from its economics writer Phillip Inman (August 3, 2019) – This isn’t 2009: Britain can no longer spend its way out of trouble. I was expecting to read a detailed account of what has changed since 2009 which would render a currency-issuing government unable to stimulate growth through increased net public spending or a private sector from consuming or investing more to boost sales, employment and output.

Inman’s reasoning becomes obvious:

1. Labour is good, Tories bad.

2. Labour was “economically literate”, the Tories are not.

3. The British government is powerless to reduce the negative outcomes from a no-deal Brexit.

But beyond those simplistic assertions there is nothing.

He claims that 2009 there were only:

… a smattering of hardcore Keynesian economists believed that it was right for a country as financially troubled as the UK to spend its way out of trouble.

The Chancellor was not one of them.

He delivered an austerity ‘budget’ (“slashed public investment”) which his “successor, George Osborne … went further, with cuts to public services and lower welfare spending”.

Result: Britain tanked.

The “hardcore Keynesian economists” were right and Gordon Brown knew that:

Infrastructure could be bought cheaply and the money to fund it borrowed at rock-bottom rates of interest. More than that, businesses had entered the financial crisis geared up for neverending strong growth. They had the expertise and people to carry out the work. What better than to keep the wheels of the economy turning and tax receipts pouring in? Austerity be damned.

Conjecture: Does this conclusion still apply?

Inman: No.

Why not?

No answer other than:

The only element that remains the same is the rock-bottom borrowing rates. Otherwise, times have moved on and not for the better – at least not for those who ask why Britain cannot borrow more, even increasing its debt-to-GDP ratio above the current level of 83%.

Apparently:

1. Businesses “haven’t invested much in new plant and machinery.”

2. “there is no evidence that the financial services industry is in as bad a state as it was in 2009. It has the reserves in place to lend to small and medium-sized businesses: sadly, there are no takers.”

Question: if the government spent an additional £1 into the economy, would not that add £1 to incomes (somewhere)?

Answer: clearly.

Question: if the government spent an additional £100, would not that add £100 to incomes (somewhere) and then some more as the multiplier did its work?

Answer: and so on.

Question: if the government introduced a Job Guarantee and offered a socially-inclusive minimum wage job to anyone who wanted a secure, on-going job advancing community development and environmental care, do you think there would be zero takers?

Answer: highly unlikely. It would be flooded with workers currently forced into precarious, casualised, zero-hour contract positions.

The net effect would be that incomes would grow, consumption spending would rise (as well as household debt would fall because saving would rise).

Question: if the government put out tenders for some large infrastructure projects – roads, buildings, public transport, education, hospitals, water, etc, what is the probability that they would receive no suitable tenders from the non-government sector construction firms?

Answer: close to zero probability.

There is simply no doubt that the government can still use its fiscal capacity to stimulate the non-government sector.

Inman provides no concrete argument to the contrary.

Conclusion: ideological beat up in an attempt to claim that the British government is now powerless unless it maintains trade “access to our biggest trading partner, the EU” and confronts deindustrialisation.

Guns

Once again some unfathomable madness from the US.

My simple rule: No guns = no gun-related massacres.

Pretty straightforward.

Some other facts:

1. American civilians own around 46 per cent (393 million) of all the civilian-owned guns in the world (Small Arms Survey, 2018).

2. The next largest ownership is India (71.1 million).

3. Per capita ownership in the US is 120 per 100 persons (2017). Next largest is Yemen (52.8).

4. There are more public gun massacres in the US than anywhere else.

5. US gun regulations are less strict than they were two years ago (Source).

6. “Gun homicide rates are 25.2 times higher in the US than in other high-income countries”.

7. “Americans are 51 times more likely to be killed by gunfire than people in the United Kingdom”.

8. In Australia, where guns are tightly controlled and very hard to acquire, 2 persons per million people died from gun-related homicide in 2010. In the US the figure is 36.

9. People with mental illness may pull the trigger (as in Trump-type explanations) but they need a trigger to pull. In Australia, there are mentally ill people but very few gun massacres.

This article in The New Yorker (December 19, 2012) – The Simple Truth About Gun Control – makes some apposite points:

1. “Gun control works on gun violence as surely as antibiotics do on bacterial infections.”

2. “making crime even a little bit harder made it much, much rarer.”

3. “more guns = more homicide …”.

4. “Even within this gun-crazy country, states with strong gun laws have fewer gun murders (and suicides and accidental killings) than states without them.”

5. “Gun control is not a panacea, any more than penicillin was. Some violence will always go on. What gun control is good at is controlling guns. Gun control will eliminate gun massacres in America as surely as antibiotics eliminate bacterial infections.”

6. “those who oppose it have made a moral choice: that they would rather have gun massacres of children continue rather than surrender whatever idea of freedom or pleasure they find wrapped up in owning guns or seeing guns owned—just as the faith healers would rather watch the children die than accept the reality of scientific medicine.”

7. “Those who fight against gun control, actively or passively, with a shrug of helplessness, are dooming more kids to horrible deaths and more parents to unspeakable grief just as surely as are those who fight against pediatric medicine or childhood vaccination.”

Call for financial assistance to make the MMT University project a reality

The – Foundation for Monetary Studies Inc. – aka The MMT Foundation serves as a legal vehicle to raise funds and provide financial resources for educational projects as resources permit and the need arises.

The Foundation is a non-profit corporation registered in the State of Delaware as a Section 501(c)(3) company. I am the President of the company.

Its legal structure allows people can make donations without their identity being revealed publicly.

The first project it will support is – MMTed (aka MMT University) – which will provide formal courses to students in all nations to advance their understanding of Modern Monetary Theory.

At present this is the priority and we need some solid financial commitments to make this project possible and sustainable.

Some sponsors have already offered their generous assistance.

We need significantly more funds to get the operations off the ground.

We cannot make the MMTed project viable without funding support.

If you get something out of my work which I provide for free as a public service, think about, within your means, helping us extend the educational reach.

Please help if you can.

Music I was listening to this morning

This is the song – Shine On You Crazy Diamond – is about – Syd Barrett – one of the co-founders of British group Pink Floyd and central figure in the early success of that band.

He left the band in 1968 due to a mental breakdown. He became reclusive but his genius was there in the first few Pink Floyd albums.

He died in 2006 – relatively young.

This song was written by his band mates to honour him and was released on their 1975 album – Wish You Were Here.

This version was from the live recording – Remember That Night – of concerts held between May 29-31, 2006 at Royal Albert Hall.

David Gilmour, one of my favourite Fender guitar players, had some guests that night including David Bowie, Robert Wyatt and David Crosby and Graham Nash.

The latter appear on this song.

The playing is beautiful and the singing superb.

And, at the end, the switch from barrie to tenor is nifty.

I was playing this album today because I was thinking of Roger Waters, who is one of the public figures giving embattled Labour MP Chris Williamson support against the vexatious allegations being made by anti-Corbyn factions.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2019 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

Anti-Black Racism and the Anti-Semitism Smears

Looking back at two of the most notorious instances, where decent anti-racists have been smeared as an anti-Semites, it occurred to me that behind them there’s a very nasty strain of anti-black racism. These two cases were the attacks on Jackie Walker, the vice-chair of Momentum by the Campaign Against Truth and the Jewish Labour Movement, and against Marc Wadsworth by Ruth Smeeth. Both were not only passionate and committed campaigners against all varieties of racism, they were also Black.

Walker is Jewish by descent and faith. Her partner is Jewish, and she sent her daughter to a Jewish school. She is an outspoken opponent of Israeli apartheid, and began attacking it through her activism against its counterpart in South Africa. Because of this some Zionist organisation has apparently identified her as the second most dangerous threat to Israel along with Jeremy Corbyn.

She was accused of anti-Semitism when snoopers from the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism dug up an old Facebook conversation between her and two or three other historians and scholars discussing Jewish financial involvement in the slave trade. Walker made it clear that she was looking at it partly from the angle of being a Jew herself. She said that the Jews involved were ‘my people too’. It’s a legitimate area of historical research, and Jackie has subsequently very ably defended herself by citing studies of this by mainstream, respectable Jewish historians. Nowhere did she claim that the Jews were solely responsible for the slave trade, or even its main investors. She has made it clear that the responsibility for the slave trade lies with the Christian monarchs of the states that engaged in it.

Nevertheless, her words were taken out of context and further distorted, and she was the subject of a vile article in the Jewish Chronicle claiming that she had. This formed the basis for a complaint against her to the Labour party demanding her expulsion. She was also accused of anti-Semitism by the Jewish Labour Movement. They secretly recorded her at a workshop on the proper commemoration of the Holocaust for Holocaust Memorial Day. Jackie complained that she was unable  to work with their definition of anti-Semitism and objected to the way Holocaust Memorial Day concentrated exclusively on Jewish suffering to the exclusion of other groups, who had also suffered similar genocides, like Black Africans. I believe the definition of anti-Semitism to which she objected wasn’t the normal definition that it is simply hatred of Jews as Jews, but the IHRC definition, which conflates it with opposition to Israel. And while Holocaust Memorial Day does mention the holocausts of other ethnicities, there is increasing hostility amongst some Zionists on their inclusion. As Tony Greenstein has shown, the Israeli state is keen to present the Holocaust as a unique phenomenon which targeted only Jews, despite the Nazis’ determination to murder other groups and races, like the Roma and the disabled, not to mention the Slav peoples they intended to enslave and turn into a class of peasant serfs.

Jackie was duly expelled from the party, though not for anti-Semitism, which he accusers couldn’t prove, but on other, spurious charges, like bringing the party into disrepute or some other nonsense. Since then, she has been the victim of sustained, vicious abuse. She has been told that she should be hanged from trees, or killed and her body dumped in bin bags. This is so vile, that she has forbidden her daughters from reading her email, because she doesn’t want to see them upset by the abuse their mother is getting. And amongst these accusations is the claim that she cannot be properly Jewish, because she’s black. Which is itself definitely racist.

Now it seems to me that at the heart of these smears against Walker is the assumption that, as a Black anti-racist activist, she must be an anti-Semite. This is based on the very public comments several decades ago of two leading Black American figures, Louis Farrakhan and the Reverend Jesse Jackson. Farrakhan is, or was, the head of the Nation of Islam, the religious movement led by Malcolm X. Although it sees itself as a form of Islam, it is by Muslim standards highly heretical. It’s based around the worship of W.D. Fard, a Syrian immigrant to the US, as God incarnate. It also has elements of those new religious movements centred on UFOs, like the Aetherius Society. Farrakhan claims that he was taken up by a UFO from a mountain in Mexico to an orbiting ‘mother wheel’, where he was told that W.D. Fard and Jesus were alive and well on Venus, where they would direct the future war against Whites.

As well as bitterly hostile to Whites, Farrakhan is also vehemently anti-Semitic. He really does believe that the Jews were responsible for the slave trade. This is definitely rejected by every proper scholar of the subject, including Jackie herself. 

In the late 1980s and 1990s, Farrakhan organised a series of events protesting against the conditions of Black people in America. One of the most spectacular was the ‘Million Man March’, in which a million Black men were to march on Washington D.C. It was supposed to be a men-only event, as the religion has very traditional views on sex and gender roles. Women were supposed to be at home, looking after the children. And it was supposed to be for Blacks only. In the event, the organisers could only reach the numbers they wanted through letting Whites join.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson was a Christian minister, who was also a Black anti-racism activist. He was popular, and at one stage it looked like he might win the Democratic presidential nomination. Eddie Murphy in his stand-up comedy routine included jokes about the shock White racists would get after they drunkenly voted for him as a joke, only to wake up the next morning to find Jackson in the White House. It’s possible that two decades before Barack Obama, America could have seen its first Black president. Jackson’s political ambitions took a nosedive, however, when he began to move close to Farrakhan and made anti-Semitic comments. The most notorious of these was when he called New York ‘Hymietown’ because of its large Jewish population.

It therefore seems very strongly to me that the accusations of anti-Semitism against Jackie Walker were partly intended to recall the real anti-Semitism of Farrakhan and Jackson. The implication there seemed to be that because she dared discuss Jewish involvement in the slave trade, she must share Farrakhan’s odious views. Not least of which is because she’s a Black anti-racist activist, and so was he.

Ditto with Marc Wadsworth. He was smeared by Ruth Smeeth because he caught her passing on information to a Torygraph journo next to her at a Labour party event. She then claimed that he was guilty of using the anti-Semitic trope of Jews as leaders of a conspiracy against her. The lamestream press had a field day with this, repeating this lie and even screaming that he was the Labour activist, who made her cry.

Wadsworth is not Jewish, but he is a committed anti-racist activist. Among his achievements was getting the parents of the murdered Black teenager, Stephen Lawrence, to meet Nelson Mandela. He also worked with the Board of Deputies of British Jews to formulate improved legislation to protect Jews from real anti-Semitic violence after a spate of attacks by the NF/BNP in the Isle of Dogs in the 1980s. He’s very, very definitely not a racist. But truth doesn’t matter to these scoundrels, and they libelled him as such anyway.

Like Jackie Walker.

I think part of the underlying assumption here is that both Jackie and Marc must be racist themselves, because they’re Black. When riots broke out in Black communities across Britain in the first years of Thatcher’s reign c. 1981/2, the Tory press claimed that they weren’t caused by poor social conditions, lack of opportunities, high unemployment suffered by British Blacks, or institutional racism in British society. No! The real reason Blacks in Toxteth, Liverpool, St. Paul’s, Bristol, and Brixton in London, was because they were anti-White racists. And although nearly four decades have passed since then, I think that’s still the assumption, or the implication, behind the accusations against Marc and Jackie. Black anti-racism activists must be anti-White, and anti-Semitic, because of the assumptions and events of over three decades ago.

Meanwhile, it’s noticeable how uninterested in combating racism, or actively racist those making the accusations of anti-Semitism are. the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism has precious little to say about real Fascism and anti-Semitism, preferring to rail instead against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters. Margaret Hodge did so little to combat the NF/BNP in Islington, that when the BNP’s Derek Beacon and his storm troopers got onto Tower Hamlet’s council, they sent her a bouquet of flowers. Tom Watson, who has done his best to facilitate these accusations in the Labour party, was a friend of Phil Woolas, who was prosecuted for running an islamophobic campaign portraying Muslims as terrorists. David Rosenberg of the Jewish Socialist Group has written on his blog about how the Board of Deputies of British Jews in the 1980s did their level best to prevent Jews from going on anti-racist marches and events like Rock Against Racism. The ostensible reason was that they were afraid Jews would be exposed to anti-Zionist propaganda. But others suspected that the real reason was that the Board did not want them mixing with people from different races and communities. And the respected historian of Jewish community in Britain, Geoffrey Alderman, was put under pressure by the Board in the 1970s to remove from his book his finding that 2 per cent of the Jewish community in the UK voted for the BNP because they hated Blacks and didn’t want their children going to school with them.

Of course, the people making these defamatory accusations of anti-Semitism against decent people don’t confine them to Blacks. They also make them against Whites, and particularly against Jews critical of Israel. These latter, who obviously include Jackie, are subjected to the most vile abuse, which would automatically be considered anti-Semitic if it came from non-Jews. Like some of the comments Tony Greenstein has received by Zionist Jews, telling him that they wish he and his family had died in the Shoah.

But it seems to me that behind the smears of Jackie Walker and Marc Wadsworth there is nevertheless a very strong undertone of anti-Black racism, a racism that permeates their accusers and the right-wing media, which supported those smears.

 

 

What Are You Listening to This Week?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 02/08/2019 - 3:30am in

This will hopefully be less contentious than my two previous posts, unless someone loathes and abominates Sure Sure for some reason. But why would they, Sure Sure is great! I listened to this song on repeat on a four mile walk today up hill and down dale in lovely West Virginia.

Vampire Weekend, still having it all going on! Actual video as well. (You should read the lyrics because they are a little bit incomprehensible.)

Music as Textures

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 02/08/2019 - 1:47am in

Tags 

Music

When I was at music school we had a discussion about what the essential elements of music are. Everyone agreed that not all music has…

Boris Johnson and His Cabinet of Privileged Thugs Seize Office

So it’s finally happened. As just about everyone expected, but nobody outside his circle of the Tory far right actually wanted, yesterday Boris Johnson finally slithered into office. It was already on the cards on Monday, when the papers published this piccie of an expectant, jubilant Boris.

It sounds ridiculous, but I know people, who were genuinely unsettled by this image. They described him as looking mad, possessed even. I think it was probably due to a loathing of the man’s vile personal character and views coupled to his goofy expression. It also struck me that with his eye’s wide and his mouth wide open, there’s a certain superficial resemblance to the expression on this notorious American mass murderer, Charles Manson.

Which means that when they saw the picture of Johnson, subconsciously they saw this:

Which is enough to give anyone the creeping horrors.

Now Johnson isn’t a vile, unrepentant serial killer and cult leader like the late Manson. But he is an obscenely wealthy aristo, who has just appointed a cabinet of similarly obscenely wealthy aristos, none of whom seem to have the old virtues of genuine concern for the poor of the Tory paternalists. Because being ‘wet’ went out with Maggie Thatcher. They also stand for nothing more than their own enrichment and the simultaneous impoverishment of the less fortunate. They are vehemently pro-Brexit, anti-welfare and for privatisation and deregulation, despite the immense harm these zombie economics have done to this country and its proud, fine people. And it hardly needs to be said that they’re also pro-fracking and against the environment.

Two days ago on Tuesday, male feminist and anti-Fascist YouTuber Kevin Logan put up a video, Super Rich F**ks, which exactly described the Tory front bench. It was a piece of musical satire, mirrored from Dirty Little Owl’s channel, which showed images of various leading Tory politicians, with captions showing their personal wealth and a short piece about their horrendous voting record, while a song plays in the background viciously sending them up.

It begins with the statement that the Tories have a combined net worth of £2.4 billion, before going to the following –

Michael Gove

Net worth, £1 million +

Consistently voted against paying higher benefits over longer periods for those unable to work due to illness or disability.

Chris Grayling

Net worth, £1.5 million

Almost always voted for reducing housing benefit for social tenants deemed to have excess bedrooms. (Bedroom tax).

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson

Net worth £1.5 million

Almost always voted for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits.

Is a massive child.

Theresa May

Net worth: £2 million

While her husband’s £1.1 trillion investment firm avoided UK tax, she cut 2,000 police, raised tax on the self-employed and took benefits from 60,000 disabled people.

Penny Mordaunt

Net work: £2.5 million

Always voted to reduce help with council tax for those in financial need.

Philip Hammond

Net worth: £8.2 million.

Consistently voted against raising welfare benefits at least in line with prices.

Sajid Javid

Net worth: £8.5 million

Almost always voted against spending public money to create jobs for young people who’ve spent a long time unemployed.

Lord Stratchclyde

Net worth: £10 million

Voted against free school meals and milk.

Wryly commenting on the girth of the above aristo, the video comments that ‘clearly hasn’t suffered a want of meals himself.’

Jeremy Hunt

Net worth: £14 million

Here the video quotes his views advocating the destruction of the NHS:

‘Our ambition should be to break down the barriers between private and public provision, in effect denationalising the provision of healthcare in Britain.’

Adam Afriyie

Net worth: £50 million

Voted for reduction in benefits for disabled and ill claimants required to participate in activities intended to increase their chances of obtaining work.

Zac Goldsmith

Net worth: £75 million

Voted in favour of proposed spending cuts and changes to the welfare system in favour of spending on new nuclear weapons.

Lord Deighton

Net worth: £95 million

Voted against protections for pensions being ‘raided’ when the master trust fails.

Jacob Rees-Mogg

Net worth: £100 million

Voted for cuts in Housing Benefits for recipients in homelessness hostels, refuges, sheltered housing and accommodation for people with ongoing support needs.

Richard Benyon – richest MP in the UK

Net worth: £110 million

Voted to set the rate of increase for certain benefits, payments and tax credits at 1%, rather than in line with the increase in prices at 2.2%.

The Marquess of Salisbury

Net worth: £330 million

Receives £250,000 each year of taxpayers’ money for his inherited 10,000 acres, mostly in Jersey.

Lord Ashcroft

Net worth: £1.2 billion.

A tax exile in Belize who has poured millions into the Conservative Party over the years and strongly supported Brexit, which would remove Britain from the jurisdiction of forthcoming tax avoidance rules in the EU.

This bit has a clip from Panorama showing Brexit hiding in the gents’ toilets to avoid having to answer questions on tax avoidance.

I dare say that some of these grotesques are no longer in power, like Theresa May, thanks to Johnson’s massive purge of the cabinet. But those, who have replaced them are pretty much the same. They are what Private Eye once described as ‘the futile rich’. Their only concern is to grab more money for themselves, and steal it from the mouths of the poor.

And the press are complicit in this. Owned by millionaires themselves, they’ve now started a campaign of truly nauseating sycophancy, praising Boris to the rafters. Toby Young even raved about how Boris was a type of ‘Nietzschean superman’.

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/07/tory-propaganda-assault-begins.html

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/07/toby-young-says-gissa-job-bozza.html

And the Beeb enthusiastically joined in last night on the One Show, where one of the guests was his father.

It’s all just Tory lies, one after another. Boris won’t do anything for this country. He doesn’t stand for more investment in the NHS or public services. He won’t put 20,000 more rozzers on the street. But he will privatise the NHS and cut welfare spending like the Tories always have. And Brexit will decimate our manufacturing industry, just as they’re anti-environmentalism will destroy our natural environment.

Get these thugs and hypocrites out now!

Boris, do what you said ought to be done when Blair transferred power to Brown and call an election so we can kick your sorry rear end out of No. 10.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Europe should stay out of the race for IMF head

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 24/07/2019 - 6:10pm in

Tags 

Eurozone, Music

My Wednesday blog post is designed to be short in time commitment. It clears a bit of space in the day to catch up with other more mundane matters (research contracts, some coding – I am learning Swift at present, and stuff like that). But I thought a small viewpoint on the latest dealings over who will become IMF boss were easy to dispense with today. And in that context, it was hard to go past Wolfgang Münchau’s Financial Times column – Do not treat the IMF as an EU consolation prize (July 21, 2019). He sums up the situation perfectly – “The world needs a first-rate person to run the IMF. It should not allow Europe to treat the fund as a dumping ground for washed-up officials.” Adam Tooze also weighs in on the same issue in his Social Europe article – The International Monetary Fund leadership is not a bargaining counter (July 22, 2019). His conclusion is also spot on – “The eurozone crisis created a toxic codependency between the eurozone and the IMF which needs to be dissolved once and for all.” But it goes beyond the revolving door aspects of these positions and the Troika relationship that emerged during the GFC. The IMF is already in tatters – still in denial but realising its old positions are untenable – to allow the toxic austerity culture of Europe to take over the IMF would destroy any hope that the latter might abandon its neoliberalism and embrace the emerging macroeconomics paradigm that will replace dependency on monetary policy with fiscal dominance – just what Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) has been promoting.

The IMF position

Wolfgang Münchau is keen on Christine Lagarde and has written about his support for her to take over as IMF boss in 2011 and then the ECB now.

I question his judgement on both fronts.

No matter how much people see her as diplomatic master, she was convicted for negligence while French finance minister and in that role was party to inflicting austerity on defenceless nations refusing any debt relief.

Remember back in 2013, when Olli Rehn (the EC’s chief economist) told the world that the IMF criticism of the first Greek bailout in 2010 was hypocritical.

The IMF report – Greece: Ex Post Evaluation of Exceptional Access under the 2010 Stand-By Arrangement (released June 2013) – reflected on the bailout and argued that while “it is difficult to argue that (fiscal) adjustment should have been attempted more slowly”:

One way to make the debt outlook more sustainable would have been to attempt to restructure the debt from the beginning. However, PSI was not part of the original program.

The IMF said that it was clear that with the bailout causing damage to the Greek economy, debt restructuring was essential but the European Commission officials refused to countenance it.

Olli Rehn pointed out at the time that when she was French Finance Minister, Lagarde had gone along with the first bailout plan and has opposed any thought of debt restructuring for Greece. He was a hard core austerity maven.

He said (Source):

I do not recall Dominique Strauss-Kahn calling for an early restructuring of Greek debt, but I do remember Christine Lagarde opposing it.

So with Europe teetering on further crisis and still refusing to redress the basic design flaws in their monetary union, how can one think that Lagarde is a good choice for the ECB which must continue stimulating the Eurozone economy and illegally bailing out Member State deficits?

But that is not the issue here.

Wolfgang Münchau’s point is that the European Union does not have a good European candidate to replace Lagarde as IMF boss.

The shortlist that has been assembled includes former Dutch finance minister and head of the Eurogroup, Jeroen Dijsselbloem and others who “have a lot to answer for”.

Why?

They pushed austerity during the eurozone crisis. Mr Dijsselbloem once famously accused the crisis countries of spending their money on “booze and women”.

While Dijsselbloem is classified as a ‘socialist’ politically, there is no meaning in that classification. He is a front-runner for the IMF position – as a sort of consolation prize – because the “socialists did not get quite as much as they hoped for in the recent EU top jobs bazaar”.

This is the way it works in Europe. These elites divvy up the top positions (and salaries) among themselves along party lines with little regard for talent or suitability for the position.

In Wolfgang Münchau’s words:

… the problem with many top EU policymakers is deep-seated economic illiteracy. Austerity was one of the great policy tragedies of our time. It is what is behind the rise of the populist League in Italy. Matteo Salvini’s party is on the verge of an unprecedented power grasp.

He cites recent statements by the new ‘compromise’ EC President-elect as being “an almost comic rendition of economic illiteracy”.

The problem then is that this illiteracy translates into terrible policy interventions.

1 “Such a mindset brought us the fiscal compact”.

2. “It brought us the German debt brake”.

3. “And it brought Mr Dijsselbloem into the shortlist.”

He might have also said the policy bias (and obsession) brought about the destruction of Greece, forced millions of Europeans in joblessness, created regions of poverty as incomes were lost, increased poverty rates, caused a massive increase in suicide rates in some areas … and more.

Wolfgang Münchau is correct – the likes of the (not) socialist Dijsselbloem should never be in power again – and the IMF should not be the “consolation prize” for “washed-up officials” like him and his ilk.

The problem is that European elites are insisting that it is a European who gets this gig because they conceded in January 2019 to Donald Trump’s request that an American David Malpass be pushed into the top job at the World Bank.

So tit-for-tat – Europe gets the IMF post.

This then relates to Adam Tooze’s point that the GFC and the eurozone crisis in particular “created a toxic codependency between the eurozone and the IMF which needs to be dissolved once and for all.”

That toxicity cannot be allowed to continue – there should never be another Troika.

But with a European austerian appointed to the IMF, the link will be ever more closer.

Further, divvying up these international positions, which affect us all and poorer nations more so, on the basis of some sort of “intra-European political deal” (hence socialist Dijsselbloem gets the push because a right-winger gets the EC boss job) is disgusting and exemplifies the corrupt nature of the European Union.

And the two front-runners for the IMF post – Rehn and Dijsselbloem – are terrible choices.

Adam Tooze’s summary assessment:

The two candidates who would attract the support of northern Europe are deeply implicated in the disaster of the eurozone … Rehn vocally advocated the austerity line … But even worse would the man who is apparently the front runner, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the former finance minister of the Netherlands. As president of the Eurogroup from 2013 to 2018, he personified the combination of populist northern resentment and fiscal narrow-mindedness that dictated eurozone policy towards Cyprus and Greece. If he were to emerge as the IMF’s managing director, it would be a truly horrible twist in the saga of the fund’s entanglement with the eurozone.

You can bet on the European elites being blithe to this sort of analysis and being keen to push their sick obsession with austerity into the IMF position.

There are many continuing vignettes that characterise the way in which the European Union has become a disgraceful institutional expression of the worst of neoliberalism and elite power hegemony.

That tendency is not a flavour or a passing fashion. It is built into the legal structure of the Union. It is resistant to any change.

And it will become more entrenched under the new leadership.

How any progressive person can see this as an organisation worth being a member of is beside me.

I was bemused that they would think so in the early 1990s when I started studying the EU in depth.

I am shocked in 2019 that the Europhile Left still hang onto their twisted dream that reform is just around the corner.

Still the dream keeps them busy writing reform plans and blueprints and that sort of thing. So that might be some sort of therapy.

Music to type fast to …

I dragged this out of the archives this morning. I had been listening to funk from Cameroon (Manu Dibango) – especially his 1972 release Soul Makossa (Fiesta Records, Paris).

And then I recalled an album that had come out the year before (1971) – Funky Nassau – which carried the incomparable title track.

The album was the work of a group of brothers who played early funk music and hailed from The Bahamas. They called themselves – The Beginning of the End.

They teamed up with a very funky guitar player (Livingston Colebrook) and very tight bass player (Fred Henfield).

The band’s title was prophetic because they didn’t last long but this song reached high up on the US and British charts.

But what they left for us was pure rhythmic magic.

It got me going this morning.

If you play the guitar you will love this sort of song with those sliding minor 7 chords and shifting https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junkanoo beat patterns. Great workouts to get your wrists loose and your right hand syncing.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2019 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

Joe on Boris’ Johnson’s Massive Failure as Mayor of London

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 24/07/2019 - 4:28am in

Boris Johnson and fans prepare for government.

This is another video from JOE, a YouTuber who’s made a number of videos parodying and criticising Boris and the rest of the Tories. In this one he uses Boris’ colossal failure as mayor of London, and particularly his wretched vanity projects, to show what we can expect from the Eton educated blond moron if he got into power. Which he now has, thanks to all his single-helix inbred mutoid followers. Joe walks around the capital as he talks, showing Johnson’s various projects.

Joe begins by asking if, despite his cartoon clownish exterior, Boris can take power seriously. His legacy in London has been to turn it into a playground for the rich. When Johnson announced his candidacy for Prime Minister, he mentioned his record as mayor on poverty, crime, affordable housing and road deaths. But the statistics he used were difficult to source and, at times, exaggerated. Which is why Joe talks about his physical legacy in London’s built environment. These include the conversion of the Olympic Stadium to West Ham’s football ground, at the cost of hundreds of millions of public money and the Arcemittal Orbit, which features the world’s longest tunnel slide. That was Boris’ idea, and was meant to raise £1.2 million a year to help pay for the upkeep of the Olympic park. It instead cost the taxpayer £10,000 a week because entrance to the Park was less than half of what was expected.

There’s also the fleet of new buses Boris ordered, modelled on the classic ‘Routemaster’ design of the 1960s. However, Transport for London was forced to recall them and retrofit them, because the windows on the top deck didn’t open. Because of this the Routemasters were nicknamed ‘roastmasters’ and in one bus, the temperature a 41° C was recorded. This is higher than the permitted temperature for transporting cattle. The changes cost £2 million, and it wasn’t the first redesign. The buses were originally to have a hop-on, hop-off open back and a conductor, but they were phased out because of expense.

And then there’s the Emirate’s Airline, which was supposed to ferry commuters between Greenwich and the Royal Docks. In 2012 the number of people using the cable car was 16. In 2015, nobody used them. The airline initially believed 70,000 people a week would use it. That’s now dipped to 20,000 and its estimated to cost the taxpayer £50,000 every week. It is the most expensive urban cable car in the world.

Boris also intended to build a garden bridge, somewhere between Waterloo and Blackfriars. But this never got beyond the conceptual stage, and cost Britain £43 million.

Joe then appears on the Tube, saying to the camera, ‘He had nothing to do with the Tube. The Tube’s pretty good’.

He then goes on to talk about Boris’ most significant contribution to London – cycling, including his ‘Boris bikes’. The scheme now covers most of the centre of London. It was supposed to cost the taxpayer nothing, but the public ended up spending over £200 million for it over the course of Johnson’s period as mayor. This makes it the most expensive of its kind in the whole world. Johnson’s dedicated cycle lanes increased congestion while he halved the area of the congestion zone.

Then there’s the Peckham Peace Wall. After the 2011 riots, people wrote messages of love on post-it notes and put them on the plywood boards covering Poundland’s smashed windows. After the damage was repaired, the residents didn’t want to lose this record, and so it became a mural. But at the time London was engulfed in rioting, Boris was on holiday in Canada. It took him three days to decide whether or not to come home.

And that, concludes Joe, is London’s legacy and Britain’s future.

The video then ends with a few more shots of London, accompanied by a piece of Jazz-Blues, and couple of out-takes.

Yep, this is the man the Tories have just decided should be our prime minister. And his record as a government minister has been just as abysmal, as various other bloggers and YouTubers are showing.

As the Ferengi used to say on Star Trek, ‘Ugleee! Very ugleeee!’

 

 

 

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