Isn’t Capitalism Wonderful

by craig on July 28, 2011 10:53 am in Uncategorized

Shell made a profit of $5 billion in the last three months, while bank bonuses in the City of London have bounded back to $17 billion. You see, everything is perfect. Why are you all complaining? Shut up, peasants!

UPDATE

Just had a very upset email from Jim in Malta who has a low sarcasm detector. More seriously, looking at the above juxtaposed with the attacks on invalidity benefit and state sector benefits, the world has takn on an unreal feeling, like living in a satirical novel

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51 Comments

  1. Err, wee spelling there in the title …

  2. from Dickens’ Hard Times, Book I chapter IX

    “‘Tell me some of your mistakes.’

    ‘I am almost ashamed,’ said Sissy, with reluctance. ‘But today, for instance, Mr M’Choakumchild was explaining to us about Natural Prosperity.’

    ‘National, I think it must have been,’ observed Louisa.

    ‘Yes, it was. — But isn’t it the same?’ she timidly asked.

    ‘You had better say, National, as he said so,’ returned Louisa, with her dry reserve.

    ‘National Prosperity. And he said, Now, this schoolroom is a Nation. And in this nation, there are fifty millions of money. Isn’t this a prosperous nation? Girl number twenty, isn’t this a prosperous nation, and a’n’t you in a thriving state?’

    ‘What did you say?’ asked Louisa.

    ‘Miss Louisa, I said I didn’t know. I thought I couldn’t know whether it was a prosperous nation or not, and whether I was in a thriving state or not, unless I knew who had got the money, and whether any of it was mine. But that had nothing to do with it. It was not in the figures at all,’ said Sissy, wiping her eyes.

    ‘That was a great mistake of yours,’ observed Louisa.”

  3. Kathz You reminded me of Little Dorrit and Marshalsea the C21st equivalent of which we are all heading for. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshalsea
    .
    For Shell, read BP, Centrica, Vodaphone, etc etc ………

  4. We just didn`t see that what we had to do was…
    .
    Give the politicians lots,lots,lots of money, give them seats on the boards of BIG companies with whacking great wads of cash for their one day a year attendance (expenses paid), show them how to set up offshore accounts and in return they would give us back untold sums of tax payers money. Hindsight is a great thing!.

  5. I’d like people’s opinions about BitCoins:
    .
    http://www.bitcoin.org/
    .
    http://www.weusecoins.com/

  6. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/cataracts-hips-knees-and-tonsils-nhs-begins-rationing-operations-2327268.html
    .
    Just the beginning of the dismantling of the NHS and subsequent privatisation. Branson and his cohort are waiting in the wings. Hardly anyone I speak to has any idea what is going on. They will only know what’s happened when they need the services and find that they have disappeared.
    .
    I read that a hospital in Hartlepool is closing its A&E department.{http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tees-14321614} Patients will either be taken to the Orwellian named One Life centre or to Stockton 10 miles away.

  7. Bitcoin (new to me) – Fair enough Clark for bartering your services but I can’t see how it would pay for the heating bill or put food on the table.

  8. Mary, I’m looking into this now. There are many products and services on sale already.
    .
    The thing that interests me is that this new currency completely bypasses the banks. The authority of the BitCoin money is maintained by the users themselves.

  9. There is food for sale; organics, pet food and wedding cakes! Funnily enough, there is “Murray’s list” – “Like Craig’s List, but list your prices in terms of bitcoins or silver/gold grams”. Here is a list of traders and services.
    .
    https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Trade

  10. Look forward to reading your researches Clark.
    .
    This is the CEO of Shell.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Voser
    Click on European Round Table!!
    .
    Forbes have Voser’s total remuneration for 2010 or Total Compensation as they call it, compensation for what I ask?, as €5,361,000.00
    {http://people.forbes.com/profile/peter-voser/69073}

  11. If this does not awaken our fellow-persons to the iniquities of the capitalist {neoliberal} system which is depriving them of their rights and maintaining them at subsistence level – then, I don’t know what will. And it also highlights how utterly fallacious the teachings of right-wing economics is.

  12. The BitCoin idea really appeals to me. Instead if trying to fix a corrupt, elitist system, people are simply building something better. Let the bankers get on with their nonsense. When they have all the money and the normal people have none, the elite will find their currencies worthless, and I for one will laugh like a drain! People will be trading in a currency where trust is distributed by clever mathematics and home computing power. The software is Free Open Source, of course. We couldn’t trust it otherwise.
    .
    The trouble is, the maths and economics of this system are presently beyond me. That’s why I’d like the people at this site to investigate it.

  13. Clark,
    I think this is pie in the sky. What gives money life (a non-zero value) is trust. In the case of commodity/commodity-backed money people have trust in the inherent value of the commodity. In a fiat money system the trust comes through a different mechanism – government taxation. People trust the money has value because the ultimate authority in the land – government, will accept it in payment of taxes. Electronic money is in principle the same as fiat money. If government declares it legal tender then it lives, if not then it is in constant danger of collapsing. I cannot see governments and banks – whose interests are virtually indistinguishable as amply demonstrated to us already – tolerating this kind of challenge.
    .
    I am afraid I do not see an alternative to reforming how we the slaves govern ourselves before we can get rid of the slave-owners (banks).

  14. Yes, Mary, Little Dorrit was also the book in which Daniel Doyce, the inventor, took his invention abroad because he could get only hindrance here from the Circumlocution Office.

  15. The peasants are dying in Libya from malnutrition. The UN have realised they have further damaged their reputation by Res. 1973 which froze Libyan assets, imposed a ‘no-fly zone’ and take all necessary measures… to *protect civilians* and *civilian populated areas* under threat of attack. With mounting criticism from UNICEF, IOM, OCHA and members of the Arab League who visited Tripoli, Mr Hague suggesting that Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi could stay in the country if he cedes power. This after two unsuccessful attempts to assassinate him by raids on his last known positions directed by British special forces.
    .
    The humanitarian organizations have revealed attempts by NATO bombing on food production and food convoys to blockade Tripoli and towns east of the capital while Benghazi renegades attack food and medical supplies on the ground.
    .
    Unless one is blinkered in this world it is clear this is an unjustified predatory war that was planned to exploit the Middle East protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen. My evidence will go straight to José Luis Moreno Ocampo and the ICC INDICTING Hague for crimes against humanity.

  16. I had a read though the companies that are, some partially using bitcoin, there are no large food outlets retailers, no energy providers represented, it looks like a big electronic LETS system.

    I agree with Evgeni,partially, unless we can make banks accountable via our lawmaking processes, and force them to become part of a positive socially responsible economic framework, at home as well as abroad, alternative’s have only a value and meaning in the locality were they are used, in this case the electronic spectrum.

    A truly decentralisation of power and decision making as the localities socio economic norms and taxation, would best suit the break up of banks into smaller enteties. Site here to sell here, so to speak, a policy designed to enhance companies relationship and their socially responsible undertakings in a community, away from just their own concerns, their current minuscule level adopted, to a broader responsibility with the loong term economic fabric of their location, a guiding forwardlooking sort of a bank that maight prefer to take the longterm more sustainable view and invest in the local economy, rather than the quick fix, the highest returns possible and out.

    banks need controlling, their vast overblown activites are unsustainable and bad for us, the last ten years have shown us this, Bitcoin alone will not break them up, laws, regulations and democratic decentralisation of power would.

  17. “bank bonuses in the City of London have bounded back to $17 billion.”
    .
    For bankers, city traders, politicians, everyday is Christmas day.
    http://www.positivemoney.org.uk/2011/01/its-bonus-time/

  18. I’ve had a look at Bitcoin, Clark, and have to admit I’m confused. We had a scheme going in Birmingham called LETS where people traded in Hearts.
    http://greeningbrum.org.uk/buy-green-in-brum/local-exchange-and-trading-scheme-lets/
    This was done at local level, and was of more benefit to poorer people who could not afford services like home maintenance, plumbing &c from tradesmen. Artists earned Hearts by entertaining. I recall it only worked to a certain extent, and, as Mary says, did not help with paying bills (unless you count what was saved from not using a tradesman) if anything.
    After my long cycling tours of 2000 and 2001 I never rejoined.

  19. “Just the beginning of the dismantling of the NHS and subsequent privatisation.”
    .
    mary, the insurance companies are behind all this, insurance companies that have every way under the Sun for NOT paying out when you make a claim. Unum Provident were big in attending Labour party conferences.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/discussion/user-comments/Citysurfboy
    .
    I wonder if we will see the day when if you don`t have the money for the use of a hospital they will offer to take your body parts in exchange i.e. Kidney!, only a matter of time.

  20. Unum Provident http://www.meactionuk.org.uk/UNUMProvident_Sharpe_and_CBT.htm
    .
    The bad news is that most insurance companies are almost all the same!.

  21. Uzbek in the UK

    28 Jul, 2011 - 4:13 pm

    Isn’t Capitalism Wonderful

    Yes, it is wonderful if you are in the right boat. If your parents could afford to pay off your education at Eton and if you have graduated from Oxbridge you might one day be even on the receiving part of these huge multibillion bonus pot.
    .
    If not then it is still not too bad.
    .
    I am saying it because I have had received firsthand experience from alternative to capitalism. And it is even uglier.
    .
    The problem with capitalism and not generating capital and creating wealth but wealth distribution. Few amendments to this and capitalism could be more attractive even to those whose boat is sliding down the river (like my own).

  22. I first heard of BitCoin only two months ago, and it’s only been going since 2009. I was surprised at the number and diversity of products and services already traded in BitCoins.
    .
    I think Bitcoin is an improvement upon LETS schemes due to its peer-to-peer digital authentication, its global reach, and the mechanism by which the total number of Bitcoins is limited to 21 million. There are lots of LETS schemes, I think they’re part of the Transition Network, so an obvious way forward would be to integrate them with Bitcoin. That would bring local food production into the domain of this currency in largish blocks. If energy supply is to include local microgeneration, Bitcoin could be suitable there, too. John Goss’s observation that LETS were preferentially beneficial to the less well off also seems to be a point in favour. On a previous thread, various commenters suggested that we should be growing our own food, and others were replying that they tried that and their vegetables were stolen. So grow your vegetables, dig them up and sell them for Bitcoins. The vegetables are then safe in your neighbour’s larders, and your Bitcoins are safe in your digital wallet.
    .
    Evgueni: “What gives money life (a non-zero value) is trust”.
    .
    Well it seems that there is already quite a bit trust of this currency. It can be exchanged with precious metals and the familiar currencies. But presumably we’re talking about +relative+ trust here, and the major £/$/Euro currencies look set to take another bad fall soon, precisely because of the parasitism in that domain.
    .
    My earlier statement “Let the bankers get on with their nonsense” was too strong. Of course we must continue to press for proper financial regulation. However, we have not been making much impression upon our governments, and while the traditional currencies continue to waver irresponsibly on the edge of a precipice, Bitcoin has come from nowhere to a currency with which one can buy and sell, well, you can see the list, in about two years!
    .
    No, big food cartels and fossil fuel suppliers will be reluctant to get on board; governments and banks will also pretend that Bitcoin doesn’t exist – but we didn’t like any of them, anyway. On the other hand, I see that organised crime is already taking Bitcoin seriously, and has developed malware to steal it.
    .
    The Internet has been our most powerful tool. Decentralised news media in the blogsphere has revolutionised our view of the world. Strong encryption makes private communication available. We have Wikipedia and Wikileaks. Internet lobby groups with millions of members could be the beginnings of Direct Digital Democracy. But the Internet revolution is still quite isolated from a majority of ordinary people. Digital currency could be the thing that makes the Internet relevant to them.
    .
    Maybe it won’t work, but (1) I can’t see any harm, (2) the more who join in the more chance it has, and (3) wouldn’t it be great if it did? So I’m going to download and install the Bitcoin Client, and the Bitcoin Miner too, if I can.

  23. “I want the exact same thing, but different”.
    .
    We have many complaints here about the state of the world, but there seems to be a tendency to want the old ways to work well. We want the corporate media to stop spinning lies, we want our governments to stop waging imperialist wars, we want the corporations to stop exploiting us.
    .
    Well, maybe it doesn’t work like that. A few days ago, Craig entitled a post: “Why the Mainstream Media is Doomed”, and then another: “Economic Dead End”.
    .
    If a route between A and B is inadequate, which is more effective: (1) Block the route, (2) Try to persuade people that the route is no good, or (3) find or construct an improved route, and tell people about it?

  24. It’s amusing (in a twisted sort of way) to put bonuses in context: they’re a little bit less than the NASA budget for this year ($19 billion).

    Evgueni: about one tenth of the United Kingdom’s population typically use banknotes which are not legal tender. AIVUI¹, it’s the usual bizarre British mixed up mess but Scottish law doesn’t have the concept of legal tender but, never the less, the pound coin is legal tender in Scotland despite English and Scottish banknotes not being so. And, no, technically Scottish bank notes are not legal tender in England (or, I presume, Wales) though the banks are required to accept them.

    ¹ As I Vaguely Understand It.

  25. Ah, now I see why Clark and others are putting dots between their paragraphs. My previous was originally two paragraphs and a footnote.

  26. Clark, I’ve read your posts and, from what I’ve read, I think you are one of a very few genuine people on the planet. In fact I’m coming to the belief that most philanthropic and caring people, (excluding the fringe element), subscribe to Craig’s blog. Regarding Bitcoin I like the idea that those involved are limited to how much they can acquire in Bitcoins. That for me is a great selling point. What I worry about is that these Bitcoins can be traded on an open market, if I understand correctly. However I would like to know more. You asked subscribers to this feed if they could provide more information but you seem to know more than anybody.

    P. S. It’s just coming through that Mulcare tapped Rebekah Brooks’ phone.

  27. You can change the heading, but your url will always say captialism. Revisionism fail there Mr Murray! :)

  28. Clark To me Bitcoin looks too much like a Ponzi scheme. With a finite limit to the number of coins that can exist and new coins mined only slowly Bitcoins must inevitably appreciate in value and be subdivided as people start to use them. Early adopters with a large number of bitcoins will become immensely (bitcoin) wealthy. The rest of us wont.
    .

  29. This is a good summary of bitcoin as a pyramid scheme.
    .
    http://www.therefinedgeek.com.au/index.php/2011/05/20/bitcoin-pyramid-schemes-and-alternate-currencies/ .
    .
    Plus Bitcoin turns out not to be not quite as secure as people thought it was. One chap is reported to have had $500,000 worth of bitcoins stolen from his computer.
    .
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/06/18/bitcoin_stealing_malware/

  30. Uzbek In The UK, you wrote: “I have had received firsthand experience from alternative to capitalism. And it is even uglier”.
    .
    I don’t think we’ve seen how ugly capitalism can get yet, or at least, not since 1929 ie. barely in living memory.
    .
    John Goss, thanks. There are a lot of good people that come to this site, which is what keeps me coming back.
    .
    Yes, the number of Bitcoins is limited to 21 million, but the smallest denomination (at present) is 1 Satoshi (pronounced sa-toh-shee), which is ten billionths of one bitcoin. One Bitcoin currently exchanges with about £8.33 or 9.50 Euro, so I suppose Bitcoins are expected to rise relative to the normal currencies.

  31. Derek, the maximum number of Bitcoins is declared. I though that Ponzi schemes worked on pretending that acquisition could be unlimited? Anyway, about a third of the total Bitcoins have been generated so far, if that helps.

  32. Sorry about the misinformation. It was the phone of the mother of Sarah Payne. Mistakes like that come from half listening while writing; and everyone knows men cannot multi-task.

    If Derek’s right Clark then there is something of a pyramid to the scheme which benefits those first involved. In which case I’m out.

  33. There is another aspect of bitcoins that make me uneasy, and that is the concept of ‘mining’.
    New bitcoins are created by running an algorithm on your computer. Coins are generated very slowly and require a LOT of processing power. Individuals with the most processing power get the most coins.
    .
    Who has the most processing power at their disposal?…
    .
    Answer: Botnet herders.
    .
    (For the non geeks out there a botnet is a collection of 100′s of PC which have been hacked and are under the control of criminals without their owners realising it. A botnet has traditionally been used to send billions of spam emails. Now they are being put to work mining bitcoins)
    http://www.symantec.com/connect/blogs/bitcoin-botnet-mining

  34. Uzbek in the UK

    29 Jul, 2011 - 10:18 am

    Clarke,
    .
    Not to argue with you, but I think you have not seen how ugly socialism/communism can get. It can stagnate economy for decades, eradicating any type of economic activity from the minds of people. Who will be convinced to work and produce goods and services if there is not much reward for these type of activities. The most powerful driving force of the progress is, whether we like it or not, greed. But the level to which greed in modern capitalism has achieved is clearly dangerous. So, regulating and controlling greed, rather than eradicating it, would seem to be more practical, do not you think?

  35. Clark, wanting an alternative to the status quo, is what good people have sought for centuries. Samuel Jackson Pratt (under the pseudonym Courtney Melmoth) wrote a novel ‘Shenstone Green’ (1779) in which a commune was set up as an alternative system. It did not work. Robert Bage (the subject of my thesis) called his first novel ‘Mount Henneth (1782) which aimed to be a workable alternative to Shenstone Green. In the novel a community is set up in Wales with a model constitution which involves hand-picked members working together for the common good. Bage virtually disowned this novel by the time he wrote his sixth ‘Hermsprong’ (1796). External influences like the Revolution in France, and nearer home, the Birmingham Riots of 1791, made him realise it would eventually develop into ‘a hierarchical society, with a sophisticated legal and governmental structure and thus open to pressure-group power, external influences and bribes.’ I quote myself.

  36. Uzbek in the UK

    29 Jul, 2011 - 11:52 am

    John Goss,
    .
    Whether in novels or in life communism is not going to work. It did not and it will not. What does it mean ‘common good’? In the community there will always be those who will want to work lees but earn more or at least the same. Every community will have to regulated (governed if a community is nation). Will not these governors be corrupt and interested in maximising their own gain in the expenses of communal? And again the main reason of ‘common good’ failure is well known greed. In order for communal good to be achieved greed has to be eradicated and this will be much harder than enlightenment in medieval Europe.

  37. Derek, it is not Bitcoin’s fault that organised crime creates botnets. Bitcoin mining co-operatives are available for people to join voluntarily.
    .
    Put the blame for botnets where it belongs – the monopolists Microsoft who make an inherently insecure operating system, and our corrupt governments that will not regulate big companies properly.
    .
    My own view of “Left” and “Right” is that both principles would be manipulated by decent governments to keep the other in check. Monopolies could be opposed by setting up a nationalised industry to undercut them. Nationalised industries that grew into behemoths could be broken up and privatised. The trick is to ignore ideology, and to keep breaking up blockages, whether they come from the Left or the Right.

  38. Crossposting from Media Lens
    .
    War on Want: Tax havens report
    Posted by The Editors on July 29, 2011, 1:24 pm
    .
    Tax dodging through tax havens costs the UK exchequer up to £18bn a year, and developing countries many times that. This report from War on Want, PCS and the Tax Justice Network reveals not only the financial cost of tax havens to our economies, but also the challenge such tax dodging poses to society itself.
    .
    The report was launched at a parliamentary meeting in the House of Commons on 12 July 2011, at which a number of MPs pledged their support to end the scandal of tax havens once and for all.
    .
    http://www.waronwant.org/campaigns/tax-not-cuts/extra/info/inform/17299-tax-havens-report?utm_source=C848&utm_medium=email

  39. “but I think you have not seen how ugly socialism/communism can get.”
    .
    You just don`t see it, do you Uzbek in the UK, its not the system, its the people who administer the system!. Nothing wrong with socialism/communism on paper, trouble is the same can be said about capitalism, why don`t any of them work ?, they always turn out to be “ugly”!!!.

  40. “a number of MPs pledged their support to end the scandal of tax havens once and for all.”
    .
    Yes indeed, about how many ?. There again what they say and what they mean!. Could be that is why they are known as politicians!. Still it all looks so very good, thats the main thing!.

  41. Roderick Russell

    29 Jul, 2011 - 5:24 pm

    Mary/Anon thanks for the media lens reference – “a number of MPs pledged their support to end the scandal of tax havens once and for all.”

    Many of the best known tax havens were set up by the UK. Indeed the Cayman Islands which was once regarded as one of the filthiest (drug money) is a Crown Colony controlled by the UK Government (and Parliament). Our MP’s could shut these havens down in 5 minutes if they wanted to, or rather if the City of London gave them permission to. It will never happen.

  42. Roderick My niece is politically naive and unaware like so many of the younger generation even though they have been to universities. Her husband is in the software industry and earns lots of lolly and spends it. They went to the Cayman Islands for their honeymoon and came back with all these stories of how ecologically friendly it was, rescuing baby turtles and ensuring that they made it to the water, beautifully clean clear seawater etc etc. When I told her of the underlying political and fincancial corruption I knew that she didn’t believe a word of what I was saying. I don’t think she even knew what a tax haven was.

  43. “like living in a satirical novel”
    .
    like living in the french revolution in reverse.

  44. “It will never happen.”
    .
    I think that, many MPs have accounts in tax havens.
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article735579.ece

  45. “Isn’t Capitalism Wonderful”
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2020409/Sir-Michael-Barber-paid-4-400-day-foreign-aid-advice.html
    .
    “Isn’t Capitalism Wonderful”…No.

  46. Roderick Russell

    31 Jul, 2011 - 8:08 pm

    Mary – When one’s on holiday in the Caribbean it’s all about having fun. I have just spent a week in a cabin in the Rocky Mountains, and I wasn’t thinking much beyond scenery, bears, elk (and mosquitoes). Of course, when at home, I would think that tax havens should be of major interest to high income IT experts like your nephew; after all it’s high income earners like him and your niece who are paying the extra taxes to make up for the taxes the very rich have avoided through their use of tax havens. One might think that changing the law on tax havens should be a major political issue; at least for the middle classes. But as Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the message” and when it comes to issues like tax havens, or the special privileges of wealthy elites, our MSM seems remarkably silent.

  47. Ed Davies,
    I concede the technical point that payment of tax liabilities need not be made in legal tender. I chose the wrong words there. It seems legal tender as a concept has become atrophied. About 3% of money in circulation in the UK now is cash in the form of notes and coins, the rest being electronic. Electronic cash is not legal tender, yet we pay our taxes in this form. The point I was making was that the government gives life to a currency called ‘the pound’ by accepting it in payment of taxes. It can indefinitely marginalise a currency called ‘bitcoin’ by not accepting it in payment of taxes, or it could actively kill it by outlawing it.

  48. “I wonder if we will see the day when if you don`t have the money for the use of a hospital they will offer to take your body parts in exchange i.e. Kidney!, only a matter of time.”
    .
    I spoke too soon!!!, Yes we will.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-tayside-central-14379215

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