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Institutional Knowledge Today in the Umpteenth Year of “The Knowledge Economy”: Do you want fries with that?

In civics, ideology, politics, sociology on April 12, 2015 at 11:49 pm

This item is produced (from a draft six weeks old) from the point of view of New Zealand with local circumstances in mind. Somehow, I’m sure, people in a couple of hundred other countries will be able to relate to it… The wonders of technological and economic progress.

KnowledgeWhere?6854662772_55f43de9c0_oYesterday I and an elderly friend enquired about how to get a Total Mobility Card, available to over-65s and the infirm allowing them to access taxi transport for half price. We started at his g.p. — Neither he or his receptionist knew of this arcane service that is supposed to be universal across the nation and severely affects the wellbeing of old people, but she took the trouble to phone a cab company and was told the cards were issued by the Auckland Council, and sent us there to pick up an application form. On calling at the council offices — John, aged 85, stayed in the car by necessity — while I, venturing inside, was told whom we should contact was called Auckland Transport… no luck there, so back to square one. That’s really what the difference is in these situations — whether you stumble on someone, eventually, who is willing and able to help. It used to be that, whether he gave a damn or not, a public servant would be helpful through the sheer amount of knowledge he held in his brain after years of experience in the same job or making his way (slowly) up the ladder based on long experience. This is what we call the “infrastructure” that made a society socially beneficial for its members. It was Margaret Thatcher — that despot who deformed her own country by reinforcing the class system with a vengeance — — and now celebrated as someone worth remembering via Meryl Streep — who proudly proclaimed that “There is no such thing as society.”

I couldn’t help reflecting on a time up to thirty years ago (now, as I count them) when I worked in a government department and there was more than a smattering, a large core, of staff who knew every rule and every skerrick of policy that could help a client; only they weren’t clients then, they were fellow members of the public with not even a counter separating us from them, and entitled to every resource at hand coming to them as of right as a citizen or permanent resident. The local post office — long gone everywhere around the country to the point of dismantling villages and hamlets now barely a memory — would have someone who knew where to get anything, how to help anyone or put you in direct touch with someone who could. This was called “institutional knowledge” and was held in a place of regard and some considerable importance at the time. It was the thing that would keep essential infrastructure in a society going after the nuclear holocaust had blown over and the cockroaches and Law of the Jungle were about to take over.

Now, in an era when every public asset has been privatized or corporatized, boards of governors play musical chairs from one corporation to the next — their feet never getting wet, never mind muddied by mixing with us ordinary folks — managers are “head hunted” for their ruthlessness with staff in treating them like dispensible cogs more of nuisance value than any importance. And the institutional knowledge held by societies across the globe seems to amount to automated self-service (Whatever happened to exalted “customer service”?), a one-size-fits-all approach to products, and a nice smile interchangeable across MacDonald’s, Burger King, the local pharmacy to the doctor’s surgery to our universities — and amounts to “Do you want fries with that?” In other words, not How can we help you in a meaningful way, but how can we upsize your order to collect more money for our shareholders?: and this coming from servants who are employed at the sufferance of owners and managers who can strip their weekly hours and routinely reduce them to try to eke out an existence for them and their family on less-than-living wages.

New Zealand has been headed this way since the mid 1970s under a big-business-minded conservative National Party government through its nine-year term, and was accelerated by stealth on the election of the trumpeted Third Labour Government — actually a lot like a Fifth Column of neoliberals. While the Nats invented institutionalized, permanent unemployment in this country that had previously had none — into the tens of thousands within a year and then upwards of a hundred thousand still in its first term (equivalent to seven million in the United States) — this new Labour Parliament was anything but labor, made up of lawyers, accountants and other businessmen eager to impress their cronies of the so-called Business Round Table, a coterie of laissez-faire capitalists and big investors dead set on a silent coup. First to go was the power of the unions, membership made noncompulsory and close to impotent.

And now the prospective next government, led by a hopeful Labour Party, refuses to even threaten that public assets still being sold into the hands of politicians’ cronies — privatised for the privileged and subsidised to the tune of $hundreds of millions by us taxpayers — will be taken back into public hands as soon as they are elected. I can see a time when, around the world, our only alternative future will resemble more Bastille Day 1789 than the futuristic Utopia every thinking person once hoped for. What a pity for the world, but just a fact of life, that the greedy and most powerful among us always seem to be the last to learn from history.

New Zealand General Election: A Victory for… What?

In civics, ideology, philosophy, politics, psychology/psychiatry, sociology on September 23, 2014 at 1:07 am

There are some measurable reversals in the state of this nation. So, instead it is simpler to talk about —

A LIST OF DEFEATS:

* Democracy defeated: The winning party received 48.1% of the votes cast and has 100% of the power in what purports to be a proportional representation system. Under NZ’s one-house parliamentary system there are no checks and balances on the ruling party’s ideology, freed to pass legislation at will.

* Open and fair government defeated: The ruling party has over the past three elections bedded in two sleeping partners — single candidates in electorate seats — giving them strategic “accommodations”, which works to cement its place in untrammelled power though together the allies receive less than 1% of the vote nationally. One ally is regularly rewarded with a seat in Cabinet, his “mandate” from a total of 4,500 party votes nationwide (approximately one out of every 600 votes cast by electors).

MAXIMISING THE CHARM OFFENSIVE: maybe a Sarah Palin lookalike candidate for NZ's next election (by Spauldron)

MAXIMISING THE CHARM OFFENSIVE: maybe a Sarah Palin lookalike candidate for NZ’s next election (by Spauldron)

* Parliamentary government defeated: The election every three years has more and more become NZ’s presidential race, with media coverage of actual policies shrunk to almost zero this time. The question of who is the more photogenic candidate is at a premium. This might be fine if NZ had a president, which it now has in all but name — exercising power by casual consensus of his cronies. The issue of the challenger’s “double chin” is right up there in public debate with Joan Rivers’ enlightened comments on Obama’s ears. Though slightly the worst off in tv debates to his challenger, the encumbent undoubtedly won in the charm/smarm stakes.

Homes and work? Two issues that might have been discussed but weren't.

Homes and work? Two issues that might have been discussed but weren’t.

* People Power defeated: The Silent Majority rules in New Zealand. It is a truism that many Kiwis only under duress will admit to voting for the National Party — as in “I have a confession to make”, obviously realising they have something to feel ashamed about. It is a question how many individuals do vote for National openly and for motives other than perceived (though usually mistaken) naked self-interest. The vote of the Left Wing — usually held to be the conscience of a country — collapsed, the Labour Party receiving 24.7% of the vote, half that of their Right Wing rivals. Its mistake was apparently to put forward a cogent, well argued, academically rigorous platform of policies to address a number of increasingly urgent problems and inequities that are overripening, just begging for a backlash by the aggrieved. The “Trickle Down” theory — itself a cynical lie — continues unabated after thirty years in place so far. The Internet-Mana Party coalition, supposedly the vanguard of a legitimate left wing, was left to languish on 1.3%, irredeemably tainted by teaming up with an opportunistic internet criminal who bought it off to the tune of $3.5 million in campaign funding (only equalled by the personally wealthy Conservative Party leader), effectively ejecting a strong voice for young, poverty-stricken Maoridom out of Parliament. Ultimately symptomatic of an old British colony, it is extremely bad form to set yourself up as a judge in any field at all no matter how well informed (“experts” are absolutely taboo). So, high-profile activists such as tv actresses Lucy Lawless and Robyn Malcolm protesting against dodgy environmental practices are likely to have contributed to a reaction against what was expected to be a record Green Party vote this election, resulting in an actual decline to 10%. (This is in marked contrast to the public fawning directed at fat-cat movie producer Peter Jackson, instrumental in capping pay and conditions for local performers and accruing massive tax concessions for himself — banking another couple hundred million for him and his screenwriter-wife after every new movie.)

* Idealism defeated: This is a debatable one, since the word idealism has been a dirty one in the ruling Kiwi mythology for generations now. The Kiwi worldview comes from a combination of white Anglo Saxon pioneering stock and hunter-warrior Maori ideology. Both founding cultures are pragmatic to the ultimate, with grand gestures to selflessness today seemingly reserved for sports heroes on the rugby field and netball court. The thought that if you don’t aim for an ideal in government then you’re not likely to come anywhere near it doesn’t even occur. Politicians are known to be untrustworthy, so it is best to pick the one that is most successful at pure politics; i.e. manoeuvring, manipulatiing, spinning, twisting, evading… the whole skill set for running a country. A few years ago a 50,000-strong Maori march on Wellington (equivalent to a million in New York City) was greeted with the rejoinder from the prime minister that the other four and a half million people in the country must be on his side: a cynical rationalisation trotted out regularly now, accepted by a bulk of the population — to the point of discouraging any initiative to protest at all.

* Resistance to unbridled capitalism defeated: Public opinion surveys have for many years rejected more sales of public assets, to the degree of a 90%-plus “No”. While the wider public knows very well it is being sold down the river to those cronies of a right-wing government who can afford to invest in shares, they will not vote accordingly — resulting in inevitable crowing from the government that opponents of wholesale private enterprise would have if they really cared, and encouraging them further in their hubris to sell more. The prime minister, probably the most popular man, woman or beast in the country, has become a role model across classes and age groups — especially for the effortless way he accumulated his fortune estimated at between $50 and $80 million (it’s just vulgar to count the zeroes once you get past a certain point): by using his position as a stock broker to trade internationally in currencies and share manipulations. He’s looking forward to hosting Obama and other world leaders in a nice round of golf here in NZ, and his supporters are thrilling to the status this will bring the country — confirming his people as slobbering, salivating lickspittle pawns in the globalism game waiting for crumbs from the table.

* Environmentalism and Public Transport defeated: While billions of dollars continue to be spent annually on expanding the motorway networks of Auckland and Wellington — two very minor cities by world standards — a relatively cheaper plan for public transport languishes at barely embryonic stage, underfunded and years behind schedule. (No sooner are these “improvements” completed than the roads are filled up and gridlocked again.) The majority of NZ rivers being polluted beyond public use by agricultural runoff, farmers have been left to regulate themselves in the time-honoured fashion of laissez faire private enterprise — an approach two or so centuries out of date.

* Objections to government corruption defeated: Undisguised and unrepentant favoritism for her own husband’s export business in China resulted in just a stand-down period for a senior Cabinet Minister until after the election. Transparent obfuscation on her behalf by her government colleagues was a cause celebre in the media for a while, but have been effectively silenced for the duration. Token scalps of government members of Parliament using public funds for personal purposes have been just that — underwhelming.

* Sane judgment defeated: Reelected with a record majority is a stand-alone government that has taken six years (two terms) to balance the budget, taking the books, just, into the black — and so temporarily as an election trick of the light; that in the face of this, a week before the election, proposed tax cuts after; rejected a capital gains tax on the wealthy, which virtually every other country has; has an ongoing 20% child poverty rate with permanently hungry children in a primary-produce exporting country (the government having pointedly refused to enter a coalition against child poverty); has produced no plan to diversify exports in an era of rapidly dropping produce prices overseas; that presides over an unemployment rate as high as the United States. The proposed budget of spending put forward for the Labour Party, independently costed and steadfast under queries from the incumbent government and media commentators, was a nonissue and seemingly disregarded by the public at large — who went with no costings and baseless assurances from the government. Indeed, the prime minister received a tangible sympathy vote, one supporter saying that he’d had a “tough run” with the Pike River coal mine disaster (four years later the government still has punished none of the negligent management, let alone investigated the miners’ remains) and the Christchurch earthquake(s) — four years later still with tens of thousands of insurance disputes over destroyed homes unresolved.

Intestinal Fortitude failed: It’s difficult to imagine a situation where Kiwis get worked up about anything at all these days, apart from international rugby, netball, the America’s Cup and other bread-and-circuses distractions with a quick payoff in adrenaline and pheromones. The younger generation — and I’m talking about teens here, who used to be full of youthful support for their peers — are far more likely to fantasise about and cheer on the legend of Kiwi “heroes” of Gallipoli a century ago than spare a thought for their fellow kids who go to school hungry every day. Once upon a time, Kiwis set out on great crusades supporting each other through the Great Depression, through World War II when world civilisation itself was threatened; in the Seventies when the anti-nuclear cause burned hot and NZ took the lead. I would relate the public outlook today as much closer to the era of the 1951 Waterfront Lockout, when poor people — at least demonstrating solidarity in unions — were vilified to the point of not finding the guts to stand up for themselves, and anyone who supported or even sympathised with them (through newspapers or providing food) was penalised. Or the late Eighties and Nineties, when politicians in this country across the board — Labour and National — strove to create a chasm between rich and poor, and have succeeded to this day.

LITTLE DO WE KNOW…

In civics, economics, ideology, politics on August 6, 2013 at 9:27 am

I’m going to assume we are all adults here in this forum (as I grandly call it, though this post might only reach two readers over the next week) and there is a free flow of ideas to and fro — to whoever is at the other end of this conversation. You are now entering The Twilight Zone… Please just humor me while I allow my paranoia to run free a little while. It’s called brainstorming, or panic stations. Certain socio-political events and utterances impacting on New Zealand across the Pacific from North America and East Asia over recent years and days have prompted the following thoughts.

WHAT IF…

* Beyond hearing and surveillance of all satellites and electronic bugs, heads of much bigger countries have been discussing, even weighing up, how many medium to tiny nations and which ones “we have on our side, so how many do you count in your sphere of influence?” to carry any vote in the United Nations?

* Discarding civilized pleasantries about the UN and choosing up sides in the playground for the egg-and-spoon race, there used to be something in the era of the Cold War called “Realpolitik”, which meant “Let’s cut all the bullshit about nations’ sovereign rights and get down to the nitty-gritty about how big your balls are and how many intercontinental ballistic missiles you’ve got.”

* This is exactly the kind of thing North Korea has got itself into in recent years when they kidnap foreign civilians, attack and kill enemies by the hundreds with impunity as if to provoke something rather precipitous, that might have no end… To stretch a point for the sake of speculative argument, might they be doing this at the behest of, or to curry favor with, their one and only ally, a much larger military and economic power not very far away? In its game of brinksmanship this country has several times crossed over that line, what formerly would have been considered the brink beyond no return.

* A couple of years ago when the Australia and New Zealand governments threatened to get more assertive with the Japanese whaling fleet plying its sickening trade in the Great Southern Ocean, the Japanese government countered that it could send a few minor elements of its naval “defence force” down to these parts and all thoughts of grand gestures on behalf of wildlife disappeared from minds overnight in this part of the world, and Greenpeace and other independent thinkers suddenly became the enemy to be clamped down on by South Pacific governments.

* Come to that, what could New Zealand (even partnered with Australia and Singapore) really do to defend itself against big powers unless it was closely and unquestioningly aligned with the biggest power of all?

Joe the Fonterra Man driving his milk tanker: Little does he know he's a pawn in a much larger game

Joe the Fonterra Man driving his milk tanker: Little does he know he’s a pawn in a much larger game

* The head spokesperson of China has been in the media speaking rather bluntly to John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand, saying that this country’s image after the “Fonterra Incident” is not so much a “clean, green” one as “a festering sore”. In the old days them would’ve bin fahtin’ wards, especially coming from what is essentially a military dictatorship that treats three quarters of its population as a peasant labor resource and is seemingly dedicated to ridding the world of its last few remaining nonhuman threatened species. But in these times when NZ is merely a vassal state of the USA we can be used (and threatened) as a pawn. I just hope they find bigger fish to fry.

* And that, in turn, would explain why such secret subliminal messages, if not explicit and implicit ones, coming to the ears of New Zealand’s impotent leaders from huge foreign powers, have got John Key and the rest of the NZ government in such a tizz, gung ho for the GCIS Bill and any other surveillance legislation it can lay its hands on in a hurry. “Paranoia strikes deep,” as that Buffalo Springfield song from the psychedelic era said.

A few years ago I devised the outline of a novel about such powerplays across the Pacific and the vulnerability of such a remote country as New Zealand, even created a few characters and sample passages. But it ended up reading like a comedy, like the movie The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming (1965). Please tell me this is just a fanciful scenario, much closer to a novel or a comedy than for real.

Don’t be shy about leaving your thoughts in the Comments…

NEWTOWN MASS MURDER INVESTIGATION: An Exercise in Futility

In civics, ideology, morality, philosophy, politics, psychology/psychiatry, sociology on December 17, 2012 at 6:04 am

second_amendment_by_roscoso-d5ofa7xThe chief of police stands there looking and speaking authoritatively — a cowboy hat in Connecticut? What is he trying to prove? He reassures us that the force will leave no stone unturned to get to the bottom of this, forensics, good solid police work, the perpetrator’s motive, and the rest… You expect him to call for a posse, head him off at the pass, and hang this varmint from the highest limb, or maybe deal out Colt .45 justice. Oh, that’s right, consarn it…

We already know who dunnit. It’s the varmint holding the gun, leading to him a trail of blood from 20 kids and six teachers. And we know as sure as shootin’, just as we know from all the other massacres (was Quantrill’s raid on Lawrence, Kansas the model?) THERE IS NO VALID MOTIVE… Aside from, the guns were there, my mommy/daddy taught me how to use them, they’re designed for killing humans, so I did, when I was in a bad mood, because I could.

Yes, there were warning signs — the guy was “strange” from a young age, and lately his mommy, a gun nut (but a nice lady — aren’t they always?) who taught him how to fire guns, found him increasingly difficult to handle. Left to her own devices with a strange, picked-on kid, did she unconsciously hope that he could ‘defend’ himself with her own personal arsenal? These are anti-PERSONNEL weapons, not hunting equipment (psycho as that is in itself).

The president says he’s going to do all he can to prevent this ever happening again. I don’t suppose he meant these as futile words, but we all know one man can’t stand against an entire nation bent on abusing firepower and defying their own Constitution when they do so outside of an official “militia” context. But the perp had studied American history and philosophy, so found his justification for such a ‘solution’ quite easily.

So I guess we’ll all go on wanking with fine words until the next one happens. Then the same Christian right will come forward mouthing sorrowful platitudes and with the next breath insisting on their right to have the power to kill people on a whim.

POLITICAL REVIEW — John Boehner & Benedict Arnold: Traitors or Enlightened Self-Interest?

In civics, history, ideology, politics on August 21, 2011 at 12:34 am

A lot of people reading this will wonder how I dare to compare Boehner with Benedict Arnold — that arch-traitor of American history — never mind include them in the same sentence. Granted, it looks like Boehner tried a lot harder than General Arnold to damage his own country, and on a lot bigger scale — not to mention the rest of the world. Now old Benedict begins to look like smallfry. Billions around the world will suffer that bit more from the action Boehner led in the US House of Representatives to prevent tax rises for his money-hording constituents. Maybe Boehner thought, looking at the plight of dying children in Africa, Hey already, Dead is dead. Can’t get more deader’n that…

U.S. President Obama speaks during a bipartisan meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House

Benedict Arnold, once a battle hero of the new United Colonies, switched sides and betrayed his fellow colonists for personal glory — believing he wasn’t credited enough for his efforts: vain to the ultimate. Boehner’s actions can no way be associated with glory, willing to sacrifice against all democratic precedent the common welfare of his own countrymen and women, and untold ‘foreigners’ (maybe a bonus he didn’t count on) largely for the sake of the wealthiest 1/10,000th of the electorate and the so-called Tea Party movement. Many of this ilk like Bachmann, Palin and Perry maybe think the original Tea Party was at the Vanderbilts’, Rockefellers’ or J. P. Morgans’ one afternoon in their golden age of the Robber Barons. Their ‘God’ is definitely a punishing one who not only lets the poor fend for themselves but is all for siphoning off the little money they have to humble them and build their characters even further.

Little Johnny claimed afterwards to be pretty happy because he got 98% of what he wanted. But I imagine it’s a pretty dry, cheerless, childish, selfish kind of happiness that satisfies him: seeing so many of his countrymen and women suffering just to make him happy. I can’t imagine, for instance, him ever having the largeness of heart to tell a joke against himself, like the time-honoured classic I have adapted just for him, it seems so apt:

“Little Johnny Boehner went to the cupboard to fetch poor Rover a bone. When he bent over, Rover took over, and gave Johnny a bone of his own.”

It’s curious how Republicans these days are so obsessed with sex but seem to find such little joy in it — more like a means of punishment, or something to be hidden away… Is that why he calls himself “Baner” by the way? So people won’t insert him into that and other rhymes?

No less than Obama called Boehner a man of “good will” after all the carping from the other side. What’s going through the President’s mind has left the US’s best political pundits guessing, so I won’t attempt it. Just seems like Obama could have found a nicer playmate to pal up with when the future of the world is at stake.

I’ve recently discovered that Obama thinks he’s modeling himself on Abrham Lincoln, by listening to all sides equally, then letting the most powerful, ruthless faction win. Couldn’t be further from the truth… On a post on the Alternet website I saw Obama’s behavior described as “Appeasement” and I can’t do better than that. He reminds me of that champion of Appeasement in 1938, British prime minister Neville Chamberlain, waving a piece of paper containing a blackmailed agreement signed by his enemy — as if in triumph. Let’s hope none of the enemies of America are as monstrous as the accommodating “Herr Hitler”.

POLITICAL REVIEW: U.S. CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS Part 1 — The American Way: Killed by Freedom

In civics, history, ideology, politics on May 26, 2010 at 8:44 am

second_amendment_by_roscoso-d5ofa7xBack in the early Seventies one of my favorite rock bands was Guess Who, a Canadian group who came out against US society metaphorically with American Woman (“keep away from me… Mama let me be…”). Another of their songs was Guns, Guns, Guns — against shooting caribou and other living things indiscriminantly.

Guns is one issue. But the rest of the world has trouble understanding a political system that first gets a President in with a landslide indicating a mandate for radical change, then the first time he even partly succeeds with watered-down change people call for his blood. More on this in Part 2 of this series on the U.S. Constitution.

It seems there are so many ‘checks and balances’ in the system that meaningful change is virtually impossible. Once something stupid is institutionalised across the country, not even the literal meaning of the Constitution can change it. Take the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. As contained in the Bill of Rights as distributed to and ratified by the states in December 1791, it reads:

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Nowhere does it say individuals can bear arms according to their own conscience. In fact, exactly the opposite. It seems for the past 200 years Jefferson’s words have been deliberately ignored.

Anyone who can comprehend the English language at a level of more than one phrase and connected clause in the same sentence, can see that the right to keep a gun is wholly dependent on three clear conditions: 1) Its use is to be by a militia (nowhere does it say individual) 2) Its use is for defense 3) Its use is to be by the People, requiring an organisation of said citizens and implying corporate permission and responsibility for each instance of use.

It is therefore clear that the U.S. has its own Constitution badly wrong, has been wrong all these years since individual gun ownership and use has become so popular, and has no intention (by consensus) of correcting this glaring misreading that could have been corrected by any Year 7 student. The Founding Fathers must be spinning in their graves at this travesty in interpretation which has been perpetrated and perpetuated by generations of Justices of the United States Supreme Court.

Thomas Jefferson

Benjamin Franklin

When I brought this discrepancy in interpretation of the Amendment up to an American-born expatriate professor in international law, who happens to be a longstanding acquaintance, and finally pinned him down to the inescapable meaning of the amendment in English, his resort was: “Well, try taking their right to guns away from Americans!” Not exactly a legal argument. But this seems to be what it boils down to. Successive generations of increasingly gun-happy Americans have twisted the meaning of the original words to mean anything they want.

This could be the biggest propaganda lie in popular literature since George Orwell’s “Some are more equal than others.”

The bottom line is: Most murders in the U.S. are not premeditated but are unplanned crimes of opportunity — committed on the spur of the moment or at least under the sway of strong emotion: simply because guns are a handy recourse to a ‘solution’. Reduce the handy availability of guns according to the Constitution, and reduce murders wholesale.

How the Rich Get Richer

In civics, economics, ideology, sociology on May 23, 2008 at 11:30 pm

anna_nicole_weight300Just a short note — a few observations — because I notice my philosophical meanderings attract a lot fewer readers than postings that might mention Anna Nicole Smith’s boob size (it’s three handfuls, each, by the way — if you’re tuning in to this posting on that basis).

My observations will be based on my New Zealand experience but I have no doubt the same principles apply in the USA and most other countries — just on a much grander scale of larceny. The government’s budget here, just announced — and by a so-called “Labour” government — has just handed out its first TAX CUT, which seem to be all the rage. The average salary will be boosted by $16 a week — just enough for a 1kg block of cheese — for which this government has put the country into hock for $10.6 billion over the next three years (this country only has a population around about Arkansas’s). This is a criminal burden on this country’s services, which will have to be cut back everywhere in every sphere, when they are barely coping now. I know Bush’s tax cuts were deliberately aimed at the rich, but even using the conventional PERCENTAGE cut (or pay raise) the rich benefit far more, obviously. For example, the prime minister here is on $320,000 a year. If she gets a 5 percent increase she’s boosted by a cool $16,000. If someone on $20,000 gets a 5 percent increase they get a not so cool $1,000 a year. This is nothing more than keeping the rich in the manner to which they’ve become accustomed — dressed up as “fairness”. What is wrong with giving everyone the same dollar increase, so the rich don’t hog the gravy for themselves every time?

And this tax cut is being given in the face of galloping inflation — gasoline here is around $9 a gallon, cheese in a dairying country $15 a kilo (about $7 a pound) and milk almost $2 a quart. The health system and hospitals are government run and barely getting by — already slipped to at least 2nd World quality — and obviously any money taken from these in the form of tax cuts affects the poor hugely, unlike the rich who can afford private health care.

dollarloveCorporate salaries here are not what they are in the US — the top CEO (at Telecom) gets about $3 million a year in salary and bonuses. The thing is they get their bonuses, and huge severance bonus even if they’ve done a shitty job — like the CEO who departed last year with about a $2 million golden handshake.

But you listen to any economic commentators and they’re all saying “This is an extremely important position” — It has to be, by definition: they’re paid so much. Well this extremely important position was occupied by precisely NOBODY for eight months until the new CEO was “headhunted” — Is this amputation why they do such a rotten job running things? Any reasonable person would conclude that a company that runs ordinarily well for eight months without someone could do without that position being filled forever. But not the corporate world. They need an obscenely-highly paid figurehead position to aspire to — where they can name their own price, rubber-stamped by the board of directors, who are also invariably wealthy people maintaining their own fiefdoms.

In this country all these CEO and board positions are interchangeable — no experience necessary in the field, so that a person can be shoulder-tapped to sit on umpteen boards and a CEO go from heading a Telecom business to an airline business: It’s all the same to them.

This has been G. A. De Forest.

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