by John Ward
Everything is moving ahead very nicely thank you for the ideologues. The same creeps putting on the Faux-Brexit puppet show are doing so from their marionette-crosses way above the law and beyond the script. Featured today are Amazon, Net Neutrality, Verizon, Jeremy Hunt, new banking scandals and overpaid managers of underperforming privatised concerns. But switching from one set of fanatics to another is not going to solve anything.
“Well you see, under capitalism, man exploits man….but under socialism, it’s the other way round”. (Old Russian joke)
Pretty soon, Amazon is going to be the biggest company in the world. It’s already owned by the richest person in the world, and is the world’s largest Internet sales online company – as well as the world’s largest provider of cloud infrastructure services. Jeff Bezos (he preferred the surname to Jorgensen, go figure) is its owner. He started off in Wall Street and now, like most of his ilk, he wants it all.
For some reason, Wikipedia (probably doctored by his image management agency) refers to Jeff as a philanthropist, not a judgement many of his employees share. This is because Bezos né Jorgensen applies Wall Streetspeak to his employment practices, as opposed to empirically descriptive English.
Thus his workers enjoy a privilege called “Voluntary Time Off”, which means that, if the bean-counters say their services aren’t required that day, or week, or month, they’re told to go home on a zero wages basis. Sometimes, they’re in the middle of a shift, and (like in the old music hall days) a shepherd’s crook appears and hooks them offstage. Talking of crooks, In March this year, Jeff Bezos met Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, to discuss investment opportunities. Perhaps the idea is that, if one of Jeff’s slaves refuses to leave a shift, Mohammed can arrange for his hands to be chopped off.
But he’s a major donor to the Democrats, so that’s alright then. Bezos, that is – not bin Salman. Although he probably is too.
In the light of the FCC’s long-predicted decision to repeal the 2015 Open Internet Order (you read it here first) various States are trying to make net neutrality compulsory on their own turf. California being, like Texas and London, a more or less independent State anyway, is leading the charge to reinstall neutrality in the Sunshine State. This Wednesday, its legislators will discuss a Bill with this in mind.
Sadly, the charge is turning into The Light Brigade 2. Vocal digital rights groups say the legislation is a badly-holed sieve that will ultimately benefit ISPs such as AT&T, but do nothing much for Californian residential and small businesses users. These groups are already victims of well-known (but ignored) net neutrality violations that were going strong before Trump’s repeal of the 2015 Act.
Look, you either ignores the Law, or you gets it changed, cappiche? The Third Way, mind you, is to simply claim something but not deliver it. One of the major beneficiaries of a not terribly neutral at all really internet is Verizon. Like Amazon, the other Big Zonians are weak on English and big fans of Wall Streetspeak. This time the confusion surrounds that pesky word “unlimited” in relation to mobile phones.
I’ve never had much trouble with it myself, but then education is not what it was. You may remember that Gillette ad confusingly claiming “Our best blade just got even better”. But back in the day, it was actually true. Now Verizon has taken obfuscation to new heights by having a choice of unlimited plans, all of which are unlimited up to but not including being unlimited because each unlimited usage has different limitations.
Iggle oggle bubble dongle gaggle. There’s Go Unlimited, Beyond Unlimited and now Above Unlimited. And the only thing they have in common is, they all have gigabyte usage barriers that mean they are, er, Limited. I’m thinking of turning my company Media Ink into The Slog Limited; but should that wind up leaving me facing Unlimited liabilities if I go belly-up (and the way Wall Street works, it probably will) I’m not so sure. I think I’ll go with The Slog Unlimited Limited. Sounds safer that way.
Now the bankers are halfway up the Zambezi and making good speed for the Victoria Falls, nothing and nobody is safe. It’s bad enough before they even get there – and few stories demonstrate that better than the UK banks’ little earner when it comes to customer Wills. There are somewhere in the order of 1.5 million British bank account holders who were hard-sold Will services based on headline offers of “only £75” or, that other magic internet word, “Free”.
Well, making out your will is free under these schemes. It’s just not applicable in the event of something randomly unexpected. Like death. In that unlikely event, the bank appoints itself Executor…and becomes entitled to 2.5% of the entire estate. That comes to anything from four to six times more than normal legal fees…a nice little earner from which the banks have trousered £9 billion.
You will all, I’m sure, remember our last Prime Minister saying that he believed in “a level playing field, but I really don’t see anything wrong in one’s family giving one a leg up”. Well, people say Scameron didn’t actually achieve much; but if nothing else, his vision of a State where the playing field is only level if you’re Douglas Bader has come to pass. We the People are all Douglas Baders now. So offering us a leg up and out of any legal trouble is not available, as such. No: that service is strictly for Fat Cats, large corporate entities, the Bank of International Settlements and politicians.
These privileged ranks can do whatever they like – unfair, illegal, not as advertised, illegal – and the very most they will have to do is Set a Sum Aside or get a knighthood. The rest of us will be lucky we get so much as a nightcap to wear in winter. Or keep our homes, our savings, get a pension and avoid insolvency.
This isn’t propaganda. I don’t do propaganda – at least, never knowingly. Consider these realities:
- We have already been warned umpteen times (albeit in code) that when the banks do run out of river, there’ll be a global bailin. This means we will all be treated as creditors….with liabilities that really are unlimited.
- Jeremy Hunt has leaked his own forthcoming Green Paper that demands (among other things) pensioners will be asked to sell their homes to pay for social care. I understand the Paper will refer to ‘an obligation to use their property wealth’ or get no social care at all. I love the use of ‘property wealth’ as a phrase, to suggest riches beyond the dreams of avarice: after taxes, the average Yorkshire house will pay for a year’s stay in a care home. (This somewhat takes the shine off Hunt’s ‘Brexit dividend’ scam of last Friday, which many are now dismissing as a non-existent connection…on verra).
- Despite the increasingly patchy Mail and Water services we receive, we now hear that Royal Mail’s boss Moya Greene is stepping down with a £2.6 million goodbye gift consisting of being still paid (?) incentive achievements (?) and bonuses (?) that amount to ninety times a postie’s salary. In turn, the Severn Trent CEO Liv Garfield’s salary of over £2 million will make her the highest-paid waterco boss for the third year running, despite the company coughing up £29 million in fines incurred for leaks and service interruptions in the last financial year. (What about that for a pay-gap, Sisters?)
- Most of what money I have left after QE and Zirp is with the Nationwide, it being one of the few remaining mutuals. My income from savings with them is the sort of number that probably has them all giggling at the Trésor Public, but despite that miserable return, the CEO Joe Garner was paid £2.3 million last year. To run a mutual paying out fractional interest rates….how does that work?
- Bosses at a Reading branch of what was HBOS and is now Lloyds have been caught up to their swamp in a massive embezzlement fraud. Details of it are due to be released in the next 48 hours, but it seems likely that very senior Lloyds executives were involved in a cover-up of the offence. It’s a government owned bank for crying out loud.
- The proportion of people working past retirement age has increased 40% since 2009. Guy Opperman would have you believe that’s because they want to; the rest of us know better. For this is how Conservative job creation works.
Now you can spout doctored and selective inflation, deflation, comparative earnings and national wealth distribution statistics until the Bermuda Triangle joins the Beswick Prize Band, but we can no longer listen to monetarist neoliberal drivel and say, hand on heart, that it is working for the many not the few.
The rich are getting richer, the very poor have as much nothing as they ever had, and the ‘lower middle’ income earners are earning considerably less than they were twenty years ago in real terms.
In turn, the poorer half in the West is being asked to forego welfare and neo-civil rights to aged care in order to pay for the looting of everything from bank accounts, government budgets and social weal businesses to Treasury tax expectations, job security promises and real shareholder value.
The Corbynite Left would have you believe that the problem is capitalism, but what we have now is decidely not capitalism: it is oligarchic bourse monopolist kleptomania. Old tried and found-wanting solutions are not going to solve anything….any more than still further Friedmanite monetarist austerity, free-market, globally mercantile claptrap is.
Neither the Tories nor Labour will implement a lasting solution: the Conservatives don’t want to, and the Corbynistas won’t be allowed to.
We need to demolish the political duopoly and clear all the Big Money out of politics. Then we need grounded and practically tested new policy ideas devoid of ideology that will give power back to the People….and all the responsibility that goes with it.