Can we be happy?

What makes us unhappy? Are we even capable of being happy? These fundamental questions take second fiddle in an economy that seems to intrinsically know the ‘right’ answer. Happiness, apparently, is not even a metric. If all happiness comes from having money, then wealth generation is all that counts. Or so we should believe. Hence the size and growth of our GDP remains the only game in town. Most of us know instinctively that this assumption is wrong. Money may motivate some but not all, maybe not even a majority of us. If it did, our economy, our society, our civilisation would have ceased to function since so much economic activity earns not a penny in salary. There is more to life, they say, than money. But if this is self-evident to most of us why does the economics profession ignore the fact? We are in a mess – pursuing objectives that bring no satisfaction – only able to follow the all pervading dogma that serves the wishes of a minority. Why are we here? How did we get here? What the heck is going on? Continue reading

The Corruption of Capitalism

Neo-liberal thinkers used to deride the State enterprise. They claimed a Government could conjure up a sand-shortage in desert. Maybe. Nowadays we have a weight of evidence to testify to what happens when you take such platitudes too much to heart and for too long. A vast experiment has been underway. It has waxed and waned over the centuries with its latest incarnation arising over forty years ago. The concept is always the same: how do we justify the indefensible injustice of an unfairly unequal society? The 1% relabelled themselves as “wealth-creators” and voila! Greed was good. Some even believed that it would overcome corruption. Since corruption could only happen within the State apparatus then, logically, if the State was shrunk there would be less corruption. However, corruption, like the poor… has proven to be always with us. Continue reading

Explaining the Stoopid Impossibility of Brexit to Children

Brexit is nothing but a great big fat lesson for our children. It plays out like the tale of “The Emperor who had no Clothes”. What would such a modern morality tale look like? Well, something like this:

  • Once upon a time there was a Great Nation
  • The people of that Nation worked hard 5 days a week and enjoyed their hard earned weekends.
  • Every weekend the people headed to the beach, swam and bought ice creams
  • The Ice Cream and Swim Suit industries got together and agitated to make the weekend longer Continue reading

The Church of Brexit – Come Praise Thee

At the Battles of Asculum (279 BC) & Heraclea (280 BC) king Pyrrhus of Epirus suffered such appalling casualties that he would eventually be overwhelmed by the Romans he was fighting. He won the battles but lost the war. This episode in ancient history gives us the concept, still in common use today, of the “Pyrrhic victory”. Never has the phrase been more apt today than in when it is used to describe the Leave victory in the British EU Referendum of 2016. A year later, as we enter negotiations with the EU to leave the single market, we are reminded of how much we have to lose. Thus it is that Remainers never tire of telling victorious Leavers that they too have lost. They just don’t realise it yet. Continue reading

Ending Politics to Restart Democracy

Ask yourself: what is democracy? You would think that would be a simple one. For most of us “democracy” is voting, but dig deeper. Voting itself is meaningless if you do not have genuine choice. Cuba is a vibrant, healthy, democracy with lots of choices of candidates to vote for. It remains a one party state. You could also vote for different Communist Party candidates in the old Soviet Union. It was not CHOICE between different ideas. it was a choice of candidates. We like to believe that Western Democracies have pluralism because we have more than one Political party. Yet these organisations require wealthy sponsors. Thus it is that your choices are carefully edited down to only those that are deemed acceptable. Politics remains, at best, a “pretend choice”. It is faux-democracy. Continue reading

Class war & the precariat – what ever happened to Thatcherism?

What fate awaited Thatcherism? In my teenage years I believed that Thatcherism represented a reboot the British economy needed; an essential modernisation that would re-align our economy with that of the real world. Old certainties and securities would change and, to replace them, we would all become capitalists – a nation of small businessmen & women with responsibilities for our own fates. This would unleash new wave of wealth-creation. These new-found riches would allow the nation to invest in its necessary infrastructure. Markets served society and Government should not interfere unnecessarily. That was the dream that was sold to us. Thirty years later I don’t believe this was naive or wrong – a market-led utopia still has un-tapped potential. But everything is now upside-down. These new “free markets” were captured only by the powerful to the exclusion of everybody else. They would not serve society. Markets worked only for the 1% and became code for whatever rent-seekers could profit from. Continue reading