Thursday, April 09, 2015

My Manifesto for May 7

1. Austerity was always a nonsense idea - Keynes was right, Hayek wrong - during times of trouble, especially when there's the lowest interest rates in history, the government should borrow to run big infrastructure projects -the obvious one in the UK is to build about 500,000 houses per year for the next 10 years. The Harvard economists withdrew the empirical study paper that purported to support austerity (after it was shown to contain trivially wrong spreadsheet calculations) - it is no shameful thing to admit that the governments of Europe (esp. Germany) were wrong in following a bogus policy.

2.  Do not leave the EU- the CBI says so, and it is obvious that all the evidence (from trade and other places) is that we cannot afford to leave - we would cripple our economy. Drop the promise for a referendum, which is just a fig leaf for tories to protect against UKIP - confront the stupidty of UKIP with the sanity of the EU. The EU does not interfere in our sovereign law (proven) and is mainly a net massive contribution to our wealth. And political stability and peace. Sure, a few europeans come here to work and live - see next:

3. Do not change immigration policy. It is fine. there are more people going to the rest of europe on health tourism trips than come here by a factor of 10. THere are nearly as many people emigrate to warmer climes in Europe than come here from old eastern block, now EU, countries. The people that leave are old, expensive NHS drags. The ones that come here contribute massively, didn't cost us anything to educate, and do not especially work for less -t hey are too well educated to take the low end jobs.  Stopping them coming here would cost us money, significant amounts of the education and health services would collapse too. Point out UKIP only say this because they are racist. Point out that there is already a points system for non-EU people who want to come here - its almost impossible to get a work permit for a non-EU immigrant even if they have a PhD in the right topic. Ludicrous nonsense is made up about this. We should also be able to stand more asylum seekers from dangerous parts of the world (syria etc) which might make some of our radicalised people think we aren't actually against them.

4. Scrap trident. Being able to nuke Iran after we are a smoking crater is dangerous nonsense as well as being genocide. Money saved would also help with some of the next few things...

5.  Build lots and lots of houses and other infrastructure. I am really not dogmatic about whether you need to keep the right to buy policy, but would just point out that if you added 5M houses in the bigger cities, the price of housing would fall to something affordable and lots of builders would have been paid, so would be able to afford them too...obviously.

6. Make all education (including higher) free for all. It was for ages - we weren't poorer when we introduced fees, we were richer - we can still afford it. Germany repealed fees. We should too. Scotland has. Everyone benefits from having a better educated population. However, re-introduce the split between more vocational (shorter degree programme) polytechnic degrees and more academic R&D, just for clarity of career path. Note, medical and law degrees should be offered in polytechnics.

7. Progressive tax isn't far wrong. It is probably about right. But it needs to be enforced fairly. Corporation tax likewise. Staying in Europe would help with this (pressurising Switzerland to stop acting as a tax haven and Luxembourg to stop acting as a corporate tax haven) - we should offer that the UK will shut down corporation of london and channel island loopholes in exchange.

8. Pay for the NHS upgrade/funding gap 30B is less than 500 pounds per person - who says this isn't affordable? They are wrong.

9. Pay attention to sustainable energy - we could borrow lots of money against a future we'd then enjoy, by building those two big tidal barrage projects and a bunch of offshore wind farms. There are some downsides, but in the long run, the geo-political reduction in dependence (or is it addiction) to gas and oil from OPEC and Putin's Russia would be a Good Thing for everyone.

10. Move towards social, digital Direct Democracy - the Liquid Demos experiments need to continue til we make them work as engaging. Grass roots movements are breaking out everywhere - give them decision making (hey, even tax raising) powers whenever they show responsibility  - this is the way to reclaim being the Mother of all Parliaments - so we could one day soon say:

"We are all westminster, now."!

Sunday, April 05, 2015

post feminism or posthumous feminism - is hi-tech just the new rock and roll?

I've read a lot recently about appalling treatment of women in hi-tech companies (c.f. gamergate). I guess its only surprising if you assume the somewhat dubious rhetoric/narrative that the hi-tech world came out of some sort of Californian hippy past (a very weird narrative if you think about Hewlett/Packard, Microsoft, IBM, and why should Google and Facebook be any different?)
[n.b. education is not immune from this - viz, MIT,  Stanford, and I am sure where I work too...]

So then I started reading some jolly good recent autobiographies starting with
Beverly Martyn's revelations about John Martyn - what a git.
So then I got on to Viv Albertine's great dissection of her life - some hard times - mostly less crap guys, but still some.
Then I read Jah Wobble's Memoirs of a Geezer, which has some extremely funny moments, but some odd views on relationships, although some heroic  stand-in work, similar to John Lydon's tale of waywardness and argumentation, followed by some recovering family work.
Finally (well, most recently) I got Kim Gordon's Girl in the Band (which reminds me, I had read Patti Smith's fantastic Just Kids which is mainly a lament for Robert Mapplethorpe), and see some of the same behaviour.

** update ** - just finished Chrissie Hynde's reckless, self penned autobiography - quite the victim-tale as Beverly Martyn (or elss so, Kim Gordon) - looks like la Hynde was actually the perp in quite a few cases of mayhem, but comes over as caring a lot at least....and surviving (like Albertine) not just, but sucessfully with kids in tow/intact too....some rock tour/music details are quite interesting, although if you really want to know how the music industry works in technical detail, go no further than the master work by David Byrne on the perfectly, simply named, How Music Works.

So what's the common thread? These folks represent a sample of people bought up in US and UK counter culture over the past 50 plus years, and yet, 200 years after Mary Wollestonecraft, there's precious little evidence any of these icon's of our time paid a blind bit of notice to what she said.

So even if the hi-tech sector came out of the counter-culture (which it doesn't) their youth heroes and even mentors were basically a bunch of patronising arseholes.