Nothing Matters (VI)

Bubbling along

Without a care in the world

Ignorance is bliss

n.b. Street homeless, racism, violent crime, poverty, the 1%, addictions, outbreaks of disease, falling life expectancy, war, climate breakdown. “Nothing I can do about it” I hear. Is this true? I wonder.

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CLP 18/12/2019

On the Cheap

Here is a term used in economics, “externalities”. It means costs incurred as a result of running a business that are not picked up by the business, but by those living in the communities in which they operate.

A simple example is water pollution caused by pouring untreated factory waste into rivers, causing illness, increasing burdens on health services, affecting work attendance and reducing incomes of the afflicted and family members drawn into their care and support.

Cigarette smokers, whilst suffering from addiction, often choose to smoke and some justify the health burdens they impose on their families and communities by buying into a belief that the direct taxes they pay on cigarette purchases more than compensate for any health treatments required resulting from tobacco smoking.

Again this argument ignores the emotional and economic pain incurred by non-smokers who love and care for them, as well as the illnesses and disabilities imposed through secondary smoking, particularly on children, including pre-natal babies.

Another argument to justify smoking is perpetuated along the lines of personal freedoms and the concept of individual liberties. This argues that freedom to smoke is a choice that adults should be able to make, but the logic is not extended to acknowledge the known addictive properties of cigarettes, nor the imposition of polluted air, health problems, suffering of bereavement resulting from this “free choice” on those who do not have that choice, (children), or those who choose not to smoke, (fellow citizens, family and friends). It also fails to recognise the lying and deceptions systematically carried out by the managers of tobacco firms around the world.

The taxes paid directly by smokers raise cigarette prices at the point of purchase, but corporate tax laws allow the multinational corporations and their shareholders to continue to profit relentlessly from the manufacturing process. Which is why courts apply huge fines on the corporations challenged by group actions in the USA and Canada in order to penalise the cynical profiteers.

We know smoking kills; slowly, painfully, distressingly and expensively. This is written on packets around the world along with clear images of the ghastly health issues brought about by smoking. Despite this customers continue to queue to buy cigarettes. In the UK queues for treatment at hospitals are growing and no one calls to ban cigarettes and smoking despite the externalities imposed by this industry’s operations on the NHS.

Finally, today’s news unveils an horrendous story. In Delhi a deadly factory fire has killed “dozens.” Companies choosing to use low wage labour in loosely regulated or un-regulated economies to produce machine parts, clothing, household products and handbags, (in this instance), are doing so to improve profitability in wealthy, consumer-based nations where the customers live.

The corporations making the choice to source manufacturing in low wage economies are simply shifting the burden of employment costs directly onto the workers in these places. Low wage means: wage slavery (not enough income to risk time off for the fear of being unable to feed a family); it means no pension; it means no factory safety standards; it means no personal protection equipment for workers; it means the costs of production are externalised and carried on the backs of the lowest paid people the companies can find. This is so that we in the UK, for example, can get low price products that feed into our consumption-oriented world.

If the people in India, in this case, were paid properly, worked in safe environments, had health cover and pensions, they would not be so cheap to employ and the comparison to more local production sites would be more equitable. The Indian economy would have to move to a healthier, more sustainable and more independent model.

Of course this would change the economics of the globe. Would that not be a good thing? Could we not move to economies in which people have local work in sustainable businesses, regulated by the communities in which they operate?

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/dec/08/delhi-fire-india-factory-dozens-dead

In writing the above I recognise that the Conservative Party in England is pushing to de-regulate the economy there to push the externalities of all goods and services onto the backs of UK resident workers and their families, whilst the rich get richer through lower costs of production and higher corporate profits and shareholder dividends. They dream of an “Off-shore Singapore”.

I refer you back to my earlier post Fat Blond Bloke.

I also refer you to Naomi Klein’s book, No Logo.

CLP 08/12/2020

Rap Unzel

We’ve got a problem

It’s getting wet down here

Waters are rising

People filled with fear

We all have to move up to higher ground

If we don’t do that

We will all get drowned

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Hey young man

On the ground floor

I’ve my own issues

In fact plenty more

And while that may seem

A little unfair

I’m nice and cosy

And I have got to wash my hair

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n.b. Not a proper rap just a bit of rhyming stuff.

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CLP 03/11/2019

On Technology

Inconsequential

Speck circles march of many

“I see no police”

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n.b. Apparently Horatio Nelson (see Column) did not say “I see no ships”, but “I really do not see the signal.” at the Battle of Copenhagen.

Yesterday’s (19th October, 2019) protest march against Brexit in London is conservatively estimated to have been attended by more than one million people of all ages, from all parts of the country. There were the usual collections of police vans full of back-up officers tucked away in the nooks and crannies of Shepherd’s Market and other insalubrious corners of Westminster, but few if any interventions were required. However, the police helicopter was constantly there, watching it all.

The photograph shows it high above the Palace of Westminster in mid-afternoon.

There are many people who think they might be watching more closely what is going on inside the corridors of power at this time.

Regulating “white collar” crime is not what the police was ever set up and resourced to do. The streets are where the police move most easily, yet the largest criminal enterprises, effecting the safety and security of millions, are well-established and comfortable in the offices, meeting rooms, corporations and banks that fund Brexit, privatisation and free-market extremism. In these places, I see no police.

CLP 20/10/2019

On Rain XV

Shifts in the Jetstream

Washing machine turbulance

Ark! Heralds now sing

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n.b. The above image shows the Jetstream forecast path and speeds as at 00:00 today. This pattern is unusual and is likely to continue for a sustained period. This particular air flow will help produce some quite wet weather, delivered in bulky packages until the Jetstream returns to a more usual arrangement. Nothing we can do about that except put on the wet weather clothing, close the M25 because of sink holes and review any plans in the pipeline for outdoor activities, (the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, or Glastonbury Festival, for example). https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-48591882

Over a month’s rain forecast for parts of the north-west Europe each day for the next several days.

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CLP 11/06/2019

On Rain XIV

Down it pours again

Thrown to Earth distainfully

Waste this not, want not

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n.b. There is the challenge; water capture, water storage and water recycling required. With long dry periods that end with thunder storms of extreme intensity, such that can wake us from deep sleep, how can the gift of water from the heavens be best utilised? It will just rush off in flash floods if there is no acknowledgement that rainfall is no longer just a few regular showers, but arrives with the banner of “extreme weather event” after many weeks without precipitation.

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CLP 08/06/2019

On Rain XII

It rained this morning

Not enough to fill a glass

Half full? Not even that

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n.b. A Scottish, family lucky enough to own land with its own spring, has admitted that they have had to halt whisky production for a period as that well was dry. Apparently they are not the only whisky producer facing such difficulties. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/jun/02/scotland-whisky-climate-crisis-heatwave-distilleries-halt-production

This raises many questions, not least who “owns” the planet? Who has a right to exploit the natural resources found in the land for profit? Who should benefit from such resources?

Much of the rain in Spain ends up in the Teja river. Obviously the people and businesses (for people and business firms are two distinct legal entities) of Spain use the water that courses along this river. Further along the Teja crosses into Portugal and is known as the Tagus where it eventually flows into the Atlantic Ocean on the southern side of Lisbon. The people and businesses of Portugal need water from this river too, but they have less than previously. The two countries are in prolonged dispute about how this natural resource is being drained. https://www.euronews.com/2017/08/15/spains-longest-river-at-risk-of-drying-up

Returning to whisky production, the family owned distilleries have a challenge that may make whisky a seasonal product, but the corporations which have bought up numerous small businesses to exploit the highly profitable, long-established whisky brands have to sustain production, maintain growth and generate dividends for shareholders every financial quarter. How will these businesses cope with climate crisis and water shortages? Diageo plc says about the Scottish water crisis that “contingencies are in place.” Pernod said nothing, but both corporations leave the details to the imagination.

Personally I have little sympathy for the whisky industry that was happy to smuggle its products into the USA in partnership with murderous gangsters such as Al Capone during the period of alcohol prohibition in the 1920s. capone-helped-whisky-barons-beat-prohibition-1-536957  Like tobacco companies today, international boundaries and national legislation were matters to circumvent in order to sustain profits. https://www.tobaccotactics.org/index.php/Tobacco_Smuggling

Maybe the fashion for marketing gin is a way for the alcohol industry to shift tastes away from whisky, grounded as it is in the very soil of a parched Scotland, to a drink with ingredients less specifically geographically set. I understand the flavours of gin are drawn from different flower types, which is lovely. Now talking of flowers brings us onto bees… https://friendsoftheearth.uk/bees/what-are-causes-bee-decline

CLP 02/05/2019