The Tory’s Awful Honeymoon

It takes years of patient and hard work to rebuild communities if they breakdown, and so it makes perfect sense that it takes years of underfunding before the consequences of failing to nurture a community also become apparent.

Across this land the awful tragedy of the almost impossibly arrogant notion of a “big society” promulgated by the Tories in this decade is now unfurling. The idea that the voluntary sector can and would pick up and replace public services when the government abandoned them could only make sense to a shallow-thinking, protected group of naives. But it is the curse of those who view the world exclusively through the lens of motivation that they cannot see the social imperative that makes their view possible.

Leaders in the NHS are sounding alarms about the effect on health services, but they are just the ‘canary’ for a much wider thinning of our social fabric. Continue reading

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Discover LIFE

In the never ending quest to make the principles and ideas behind LIFE accessible to a wider audience we have produced an new iBook called “Discover LIFE”.

Understanding who we are requires that we can reach beyond our personal perception of the world to see ourselves as a species.

Who are humans?

How did we get here?

What makes us tick?

These are the important questions we must be able to answer first, before we can embark on our journey to find out what works for us.

With sound and compassionate understanding of our inherited natures, we will be on the road to developing effective new models around which the peoples of the world can organise themselves.

The book is available in the animated iBook format for Apple devices and computers here. Most graphics are clickable for more detail – it’s fun, try it out. Open in iBooks when prompted.

And a PDF Hi-Res version (30Mb) is here and a Low-Res (7Mb) version is here.

Please post your comments and suggestions below, or email then to info@uklife.org, that would be greatly appreciated

Many thanks!

Posted in economics, environment, Key Article, politics, society | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Helicopter money !?

Martin Wolf provides the most succinct description yet of the current economic malaise: Helicopter drops might not be far away.

As described, the situation is the result of a two decade march to remove safety from our societies, asking individuals to take on the burden of their individual safety (an oxymoron) instead – this is what results in the savings glut. Continue reading

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Citizen Income: a dead end

PDFThe time has come to give proper attention to an analysis of the idea of a Citizen Income (aka Basic Income, CI), and we are happy to see that Compass & the RSA are engaged in this process.

Summary

The analysis that we need to increase social safety is correct. The conclusion that the way to do that is by distributing cash is erroneous.

Cash distribution has to sit on top of universal, public service delivery. To deliver those services properly requires all of the cash available from a sustainable tax burden.

CI will always end up arguing for cash distribution over public service provision – and fail.
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A-B-C

Having listened to 3 hours of presentations at the Diem25 launch last night, I am reminded of how averse the left-progressive/radical sector is to solutions. The podium was clear: there is no A, B, C sequence that leads from problem to solution. We do not have the answer, apparently, and we should not expect to have one. Instead we must engage in interminable meetings, until unattributable solutions arise from the coalescence, and therefore pass the test of not resembling early 20th C “final solutions”.

But still the audience in even this self-selected leftie gathering wanted to know: What next? How do we get from A to B?

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Floundering on the Rocks of Policy

While it is increasingly obvious that what we are doing isn’t going to work, what to replace it with is an even bigger unknown.

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The Heart needs its Soul

The left has lost touch with its soul, and until it finds it again we are all the losers.  From Berlin to The Baltic, from Scotland to San Francisco, the confusion is manifest, and the result is the political failure we witness around us. To the extent that there is any resurgence of left leaning politics, such as in Spain and Greece, those forces hark back to 20th century models and ideals that are unmodernised, and they are doomed to fail, if not electorally, then in office.

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2015: The Last “Feel Good” Election

The General Election in May will be the last “feel good” election in the UK for a considerable time. This year the politicians are fighting to reassure people that their delusions of sustainability are in fact possible, and that they each have the most assured path to that illusion.

Who will soothe us to sleep with the sweetest lullaby?

We are living unsustainably. That means it cannot be sustained, it will not carry on, that there is an end to much of what we take for granted today. This is not just an ecological-environmental fact, this is a financial-economic and a human-social fact. To believe otherwise requires an almost super-human capacity for self deception.

After the next financial crisis, and the break down of “middle class” expectations, it will seem incredible that we did not see it coming. Unprecedented levels of financial debt, never balanced budgets, massively unbalanced trade, and millions of humans consigned to the margins of society: these are well known and completely visible facts about our society. We are living in a house of cards, and this house will fall before the following general election.

The UK’s general election could be tame compared to what happens in Europe in the coming half-decade, where populist movements from the left and right will dis-integrate what we currently call the EU into a shadow of its current state. (Of course there’s also the very real possibility that the UK will break up or leave the EU after this election.) A combination of pressures related to energy, trade, immigration, solvency, and demographics will transform the cozy into the crazy.

Debt increases 2007-2014Shifting trade and monetary winds around the world will make much of the current debt loads obviously unsustainable in the coming five years. Economic growth will not regain it’s pre-Crisis levels, and combined with generalised deflation, the debts of all but the most secure will crumble into default. There is not enough safety on earth to provide havens for the all the liquid cash in the world, and it is too late to regulate the flow of capital or shore up the weak.

By the next time the UK goes to a general election we will have double or treble the unemployment, a hole in the budget the size of the NHS that we cannot fund through more borrowing, and the reality, that is already obvious now, will have become inescapable.

So enjoy this little charade through May. Worry about the little things, and agree not to discuss the bigger things. Latch on to the good news, and ignore the facts. This will be your last chance to do so, and seeing as pretty much everyone is on board with the story, you may as well enjoy the ride.

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Posted in crisis, debt, Democracy, legacy parties, politics | Tagged | 2 Comments

Promises

Hominoids only emerged from the Savannah to cover the world after they adopted promises as the basis of their societies. In a material world, where money is used as a replacement, is rediscovering the importance of promises a leap too far for most of us?

There is something that humans before the “economic era” knew and understood, a truth that we find hard to grasp with our economic minds: human society is based on promises, not money. The primary social promise is of mutual safety, given to every member of the society in the form of help and care, available in the event of need, and provided as service. That promise of social safety is not conditional, but it does anticipate that in return each member will make their best personal contribution.

Certainly the humans of a few thousand years ago, and, I would wager, even our great-grandparents, would have unconsciously known that their society was bound together by mutual promises. So basic was this fact that it need not have been consciously examined. That a promise of mutual safety was exchanged for mutual contribution was inherent, instinctive, and bound into the fabric of common understanding, as it has been since the dawn of our species.

If there is one thing that will help you understand our troubled predicament today, it is this: that we are dependent on others, to whom we are bound by promises, not money. If that jars with your sense of reality, you are not alone. If you recognise its absence in the world around you, you are also not alone. Let’s try to understand why.

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Democracy Mockery : the Smith Commission

SEE_LocalDem_2It’s no wonder nothing fundamental ever changes in this country, it seems that we have completely forgotten how to do it. This year’s referendum in Scotland, and the ensuing Smith Commission mess, has only served to reinforce the image of our political process as a principle-free game for a disconnected elite. That image is well-deserved, and founded on scientific observation.

The Smith Commission highlights the enormous democratic deficit we face: a bunch of politicians get together behind closed doors to negotiate amongst themselves what they think should be devolved from national responsibility to one regional parliament. They are effectively rewriting our constitution in a few hastily arranged secret meetings, and without consultation. What will be offered has not been reviewed by the electorate, let alone selected by them. Any notion that the settlement will have been democratically endorsed will be stretching the truth into dangerous realms of delusion. Continue reading

Posted in Democracy, regions, Scotland | 2 Comments