As Steve Beauchampé writes in the Birmingham Press and Political Concern, generations of an elite have ruled this nation (with a few intermissions) for as long as anyone can remember, due to a rigged electoral system.
Their dual achievements:
- comfortable tax arrangements for the few, a political/corporate nexus which ensures highly paid and nominal duties for all in the inner circle
- vast military expenditure bestowed on the arms industry, as rising numbers of the population survive in relative poverty, wait in hospital corridors, receive a sub-standard education and depend on handouts to eke out their existence.
Direction of travel
Beauchampé: “(The) economy is increasingly kept afloat by the economic support of China . . . The modern high-rise residential blocks that have sprung up throughout the capital may give the impression of a modern, flourishing economy, but look closely and you will see that many are all but empty, whilst homelessness and a reliance on subsistence level housing grows . . . “He notes that surveillance is at an historic high with spy cameras, and even microphones installed in many public places -describing the state’s ability to track the population and follow their activities and conversations as ‘frightening’. . .
The elite stranglehold could be broken
OB’s editor agrees with many that electoral reform is a priority for beneficial change – but even under the rigged ‘first past the post’ system, if the weary mass of people (Brenda of Bristol) saw the true situation they would vote for the candidate with a credible track record who would be most likely to work for the common good.
Bill and Melinda Gates published their annual January letter, no doubt well-read at the World Economic Summit in Davos. They said that ‘many people think the world is getting worse’ – and it demonstrably is, in terms of pollution, social instability and the widening gap between rich and poor.
Economist John Kay in the Financial Times challenges Gates’ figures in terms which are not readily accessible to the average reader but then looks beyond the globalised centres of major cities, similar everywhere: “You do not have to venture far from the centre of Nairobi or Shanghai, and only round the corner in Mumbai, to see sights unimaginable in Norway or Switzerland”.
Gates’ big myth – an assertion that people believe the world can’t solve extreme poverty and disease – is completely untrue.
Many people do believe that the world can solve extreme poverty and reduce disease – but not while the 1% and their corporate and political courtiers (one below) are making the decisions. “Every king needs courtiers, every computer billionaire creates a slew of computer millionaires”, notes John Kay.
Nick Dearden agrees: “The policies dreamt up by those who meet in Davos are a direct cause of the current unprecedented rates of inequality”.
Writing in Red Pepper, Dearden sees the world’s 1% “mouthing concerns about poverty and climate change, while working on policies which fuel inequality” in Davos and believes that Bill Gates doesn’t want a higher minimum wage denting the amount of wealth on which his company can avoid taxes. He recalls Tidjane Thiam, chief executive of Prudential, calling the minimum wage a ‘machine to destroy jobs’. No doubt alluding to the representatives of the banking hierarchy, Dearden sees some of the participants at Davos as being directly responsible for the crisis and austerity measures responsible for mental health problems spiralling across Europe. In Greece, suicides rose 37% from 2009 to 2011.
The writer favours this approach:
Dearden ends: “We need to do more than put these issues on their agenda . . . The corporate elite represented at Davos cannot be allowed to meet in luxury and pretend they have the answers to the world’s problems. They are the world’s problems”.
Exciting, aspirational, high-tech, fair and hopeful
In ‘The World We Made’, to be launched tomorrow, Jonathon Porritt – one of the world’s leading environmentalists – sets out to counter the doom and gloom that surrounds today’s debates about sustainability.
Instead of portraying the future as a polluted, over-populated hell-hole, he shows it as a place where we’d all love to live., through the words of Alex McKay, a history teacher, who looks back to see how we got from where we are now to that world in 2050.
A compelling picture of a truly sustainable world is presented:
- A world in which 90% of our energy comes from renewable sources, and 30% of our electricity from solar power
- A world in which young people have forced radical changes on governments acting against the interests of all future generations
- A world in which military expenditure peaked in 2017, and has been declining ever since
- A world in which nanotechnology, 3D printing and biomimicry have transformed manufacturing
- A world in which personal genomics allow everyone to manage their own health, live longer and healthier, and die when they want to
- A world in which there are still rich and poor, but the rich are poorer but happier, and the poor are richer in so many ways.
“Jonathon Porritt has found both the facts and the spirit required for imagining the future!” Bill McKibben
“Jonathon Porritt’s book dreams big, as if our future depends on it. And it does.” Richard Branson
“I loved it! It should be compulsory reading for all students and beyond – particularly the politicians. And I love Alex, your voice from 2050. But above all, I love the reassurance that there is a bright and sustainable future ahead of us if we start now.” Joanna Lumley
“Revealing the gift in the arms of the problem, Jonathon Porritt beautifully shows how your applied hope, fearless action, and relentless patience can turn the world we inhabit into the world we envision.” Amory Lovins