Columns from the Whitstable Gazette: Cuts, War-Crimes and Quantitative Easing
One of the most sickening things for me, in the period after the riots, was the sight of Hazel Blears pontificating about it in parliament.
“For me, the politics of law and order… have never been about the difference between right and left,” she said; “they have always been about the difference between right and wrong.”
This from a woman who claimed expenses on three separate homes in the space of a year, who transferred the designation of them from first home to second home in order to maximise her income, and who then sold one of the properties for a profit of £45,000. She also claimed £850 for a television set from Selfridges, and £651 for a mattress from Marks & Spencer.
And she has the nerve to talk about looting.
Meanwhile investment bankers from RBS - the nationalised bank whose shady dealings and institutionalised greed were partially responsible for the financial collapse of 2008 – having made huge losses for the taxpayer this year, were also able to claim nearly £1 billion in bonuses.
Of course, none of that excuses the fury of acquisitive rioting that took place in August, but it should at least provide the context.
In an age characterised by selfishness, greed and destructive behaviour, why should we expect our children to act any differently?
Whitstable Youth Centre
While the banks are busy looting the world in what is effectively a financial protection racket, forcing the sell-off of public assets at rock bottom prices, the defence of those assets becomes a priority for all concerned citizens.
Kent County Council are in the process of consulting over the possibility of the closure of Whitstable Youth Centre, and its relocation to Canterbury.
This is part of a wholesale restructuring of youth services throughout the County. It seems that our youth will be expected to bear the brunt of the cuts. University tuition fees are going up to £9,000 a year, while Education Maintenance Allowance has already been abolished. There are no jobs, no prospects, no apprenticeships, and now Kent County Council are considering the removal of the only youth facility from the town.
There are currently 33 Youth Centres run by KCC. These will be “consolidated” into 12 main hubs, while local services will be bought in from voluntary and community groups and from the private sector.
23 full-time and 170 part time staff are in line to lose their jobs.
Whitstable Youth Centre and the Parklife Youth Centre in Herne Bay will close, while the Riverside Centre in Canterbury will remain open.
All of this is taking place in the context of drastic cuts to public services being carried out throughout the UK. Called, euphemistically, “the Big Society”, what it actually means is privatisation; firstly the transfer of services from professional care-workers to “voluntary and community groups” – people who will do the work for nothing but who have not received proper training – and then on to private sector providers – people whose only purpose is to make a profit.
What we are seeing is a coup d’etat against our public services being carried out by an ideologically driven government in the name of an increasingly aggressive and acquisitive financial sector out for quick profits.
The deficit was caused by shady dealings by the banks. Let the banks pay for what they created. Cut bankers’ bonuses, not public services.
Everyone will remember exactly what they were doing on September the 11th 2001. It was the day the world changed.
You’d have to be a recluse not to know that this September saw the 10th anniversary of the atrocity. I lost count of the number of commemorative programmes there were on the TV. I managed to avoid most of them.
It’s not that I don’t respect the memory of the 2,996 people who died that day. It’s that I loath the use to which their memories have been put.
One programme I didn’t miss was Question Time featuring Richard Perle, one of the foremost advocates of regime change in Iraq. What became eminently clear during the course of the programme was that there was no justification whatsoever for the invasion of Iraq based upon the events of 9/11. Even Richard Perle couldn’t justify it. It was based on innuendo, false documentation, supposition, misdirection, misinterpretation and just plain lies. It never received a UN mandate, and was undertaken by the US and the UK, virtually alone, in order to secure access to Iraqi oil.
That makes the invasion of Iraq a war crime, a War of Aggression, defined under the terms of the Nuremburg Trials as “the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”
The fact that those responsible for it, and for the carnage that followed – for torture, for imprisonment without trial, for the use of depleted uranium and white phosphorus, for the deaths of up to 600,000 Iraqi civilians and the displacement of over 4 million more – have yet to stand trial for their crimes is an indictment of the international legal system as it is currently constituted.
But to see these people on the anniversary of 9/11 on our TV screens, milking the publicity, and attempting to justify their violence to the world, was sickening beyond measure.
The day that they begin reading out the names of the Iraqi war dead alongside those of the 9/11 victims will be the day I know that sanity has returned to our world.
So it’s official: Tony Blair has become a millionaire many times over since he left office, a very significant proportion of which came directly through his promotion of the Iraq war. He’s been a paid consultant of the South Korean oil firm, UI Energy Corporation, which has been involved in the exploitation of oil reserves in Northern Iraq, a region which would have been inaccessible to Western interests if it hadn’t been for the war.
Let’s be clear exactly what it is that Tony has done here. Aside from being responsible for the death of untold numbers of Iraqis, he has also used the British Army - paid for at our expense - as a personal enforcer to amass a private fortune. It’s no wonder he’s been working so hard to hide these facts from the public. One day, perhaps, there will be a law against this kind of systemic abuse, and we will see Tony Blair and the other war profiteers brought to justice.
Meanwhile Stephen Byers, Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt – all disciples of the Blair doctrine - have been caught bragging about their ability to exploit information given to them as government ministers, promising to sell themselves to the highest bidder.
New Labour, of course, swept to power on a wave of disgust caused by the cash-for-questions affair, when the Major government were mired in sleaze.
It’s obviously endemic. It goes to the very heart of what it means to be in government in this modern age. The New Tories under David Cameron aren’t any better, as it’s already clear they are in thrall to the private interests of the bankers and the non-domicile class.
The word “idiot” comes to mind at this point. It has it’s origins in the Greek word for private. Originally it referred to someone too busy pursuing their own personal interests to take a proper part in public life. An idiot was someone who lacked moral judgement because they were too concerned about themselves.
Remember that the next time you hear a politician talk about the benefits of privatisation. What he is really talking about is a form of idiocy.
It seems that a new round of “quantitative easing” may be on its way.
According to the BBC, quantitative easing involves the Bank of England buying government bonds using money it has created out of thin air. “The institutions selling those assets… will then have ‘new’ money in their accounts, which then boosts the money supply.”
Got that? In other words, the government creates new money and then gives it to the banks in the hope that the banks will then lend the money to businesses.
These are the same banks that took our pensions and gambled them away on the sub-prime housing market which lead to the financial crisis in the first place. The same banks the tax payer was forced to bail out because they were considered “too big to fail”.
So what happened to the losses the banks made during 2008-2009? That’s easy. They have been shifted on to the shoulders of the taxpayer, who is now bearing the burden of the banks’ profligacy in the form of government debt.
You may wonder why, if the government can create money out of thin air, it doesn’t just lend it out to businesses itself.
Why indeed? Because the very basis of our financial system is money created as debt by the banking system, through a process known as fractional reserve banking.
When a bank lends you money, it doesn’t go down into a vault to get the money out. It creates brand new money out of thin air – just as the government does with quantitative easing - and then writes it into your account as debt. It can do this to the tune of many more times the value of the original deposit. In other words, that £200 billion of quantitative easing created by the government in 2009 – due to be added to before Christmas – was actually an interest free loan made by the tax-payer to the banks, so that the banks could create even more money and then charge you interest on it.
Have you ever heard anything so insane? And you wonder why the world is drowning in debt?
As Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England put it: "Of all the many ways of organising banking, the worst is the one we have today."
© 2011 Christopher James Stone