Scottish People

I’ve been guilty of not updating this blog for a very long time……. must try harder in 2017.  There’s been no shortage of events and things to write about.  Brexit is everything, oh, and perhaps Trump is everything too….

I wrote these next few words as a reply to a comment a friend made on Facebook.   Adding it to my blog as I’d like to keep it somewhere that I can find it again and maybe edit it from time to time.  He was asking what was the point of the SNP as the Scottish people didn’t vote for Independence in 2014.  We’re not in 2014 any more……..

 
“Scottish People” 


Scottish people might like to have all their laws and civil rights protected by a right-wing xenophobic party operating and supported only in a different country.

Scottish People might like that their vote will never ever have any influence on the type of Government, they have, or the people who make up that Government.

Scottish People might like having a Government that spies on their every keystroke on a PC, that records every single phone call they make, that listens in on their Amazon Echo.

Scottish People might like to live and work in an economy which has been designed to ensure the rich get richer while the poor get poorer.

Scottish People might like not having to worry about pensions because they trust that Right-Wing Xenophobic Government will have raised the pension age till it almost matches their life expectancy.

Scottish People might like the idea of paying for an insurance policy in case they ever get sick and need to use a Health Service.

Scottish People might not have ambitions for their children to go to University.

Scottish People might like not being able to freely travel and perhaps work across Europe.

Scottish People might like having nuclear weapons stored on their west coast, close to their major population centre, while also having rotting hulks of previous nuclear machines stored on their east coast.

………….But on the other hand,

Scottish People might *not* like some or all of the above.

Scottish People might like to actually have a say in what their country looks like and feels like.

The time for choosing will come soon enough.

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Economy, Brexit, K-Waves & Stuff

This is a rambling post on the state we’re in now and some underlying economic theory (as I understand it) which might help us think through the challenges posed by the Brexit vote.

 

NeoLiberalism – it’s what’s going on

But to start, let’s look at where we are – here’s a video clip where a top economist pretty much tears apart the system we’re living with.
https://www.theguardian.com/business/video/2016/aug/11/owen-jones-talks-to-ha-joon-chang-austerity-is-based-on-lies-video-interview

The way everything is being done now doesn’t look like a sustainable way for the future.   There’s not much doubt that we’re living through a massive transfer form the people to the elite  ( ireally don’t much like thes terms, but can’t think of any alternatives.)  NeoLiberalism isn’t new, it has been going since the days of Pinochet in Chile  (’73-90)  and we can look back at his rule and see how it impacted on the people of Chile.  It was fine for the 1%, but very bleak indeed for the rest of the population.  And this is the same economic system, pretty much, as Reagan and Thatcher imposed on the US and the the UK.  And it’s still going on…..  Our UK Government seems to be stuck with Thatcher’s mantra of “There Is No Alternative”.  TINA can’t be true though.  Everything in life has alternatives so logically there must be alternatives to NeoLiberalism.  It’s just that NL has been the in vogue economic framework for so much of the world for so long, almost a generation, that it has become so deeply ingrained that it’s hard for any alternative to be thought of in the mainstream.  Here’s a little graph showing the changes in household income over the past decades (there are many like this which look the same).  Sorry it’s not got a source on it, I picked it up from Prof David Bell at University of Stirling.  I trust he wouldn’t be using it in public if it wasn’t accurate.

household income.JPG

This is what NeoLiberalism has done and is continuing to do.  Can you tell I’m not a fan?

 

Long Waves

There’s an interesting underlying theory of long waves of economic activity.  It was postulated by Nikolai Kondratiev  back in 1925.  It continues to attract attention because it still seems to fit what’s going on in the global and national economies.  If you’re interested in the theory of this, then look up Kontratiev, Schumpeter and yes, Karl Marx.  What you read might surprise you.

Here’s a representation of  Kondratiev Waves.  As you can see, it;s a kind of 45 year to 60 year cycle.  We’re at an interesting point where, according to this economic theory, we ought to be entering a cyclical downturn.  Maybe this theory is correct?  There’s certainly plenty of people who respect the underlying theory of these long waves of economic activity.

520px-Kondratieff_Wave.svg.png

Source : By Rursus – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7833300

So my thoughts are that it looks like the UK is moving to the point of diminishing returns for NeoLiberalism. The UK economy is already one of the most open in the world with much of the national infrastructure being owned by non-UK businesses.  As the UK goes to negotiate it’s Brexit it’s not starting with a very strong hand.  Negotiations are about give and take, about ‘if you do this, we’ll do that’.  What has the UK got to offer to prospective trading partners?  Thanks to the decades of NeoLiberal economics being followed by successive UK Governments of all colours, the bargaining chips have already been sold.  What can David Davis offer?  If there’s one thing which is critical to the UK it’s the preservation of the ‘Passport’ rights for the financial services sector in London.  What can Davis actually offer up to the EU to preserve this?  Sure the other countries and companies will want to sell their goods into the UK. But at what cost to the UK?   And if the Kondratiev Wave is right, doing all this when we’re about to enter a period of economic downturns isn’t going to make it any easier.
The graph below shows the value of trade flows to/from the UK, Germany and China.  (source Prof Bell, and the ONS)  Germany sells a lot more to us than we do to them.  Germany sells a lot more to China than the UK does. (Must be all the BMW’s, Mercedes and Porches. If only the UK still had a car industry it owned…….. <tongue firmly in cheek> ) The UK sells a lot more to Germany than we do to China.  Our exports to Germany are facilitated by our membership of the single market.  If that changes, if any form of trade barriers emerge post Brexit, it will hurt. Looking on the bright side, maybe we could sell more stuff to China.  Now what do we make that they might want to buy?   Oh I know, we could flog them the rights to build our new nuclear power stations………….

trade flows.JPG

 

 

Brexit Blues

A friend pointed me to this article: Brexit Blues by John Lanchester on the London Review of Books website.  You can find it here:  (or here if you wish to cut’n’paste : http://www.lrb.co.uk/v38/n15/john-lanchester/brexit-blues).

It’s an excellent piece which highlights many of the problems we’re now facing after the vote to leave the EU.  Well worth a few moments of reading and then a further few moments reflecting on it.

We’ve got a lot of work to do, just to stand still or even to get back to where we were before the vote.  I’m not certain that this has been recognised across society yet.  The “leave” campaign evoked all the jingoistic images of Britain standing tall, alone against the world.  But that’s just an unreal image of a time which can’t come back (if it ever existed at all).   It also had a society which was united.  Now its fractured along so many lines (political, class, nationality, religion, etc) that I find it hard to see how it can be joined together to do all the work that needs to be done.