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Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Blog 120. From my Demon Toaster to Soylent Green...

...via TTIP?

‘Less is More’ was a consciously obscure minimalist fashion term. Now it beautifully epitomises life at the arse-end of Capitalism. Rampant Capitalism – that rabid dog that Thatcher took off the leash in the 80s savages us today.

I’ll get to the demonic toaster in a minute.

I was listening to a Radio 4 ‘commentator’ (clearly from the it’s-true-because-I-just-thought-it school of economics with a degree in ignoring-the-history-of-capitalism) bleating on about how we shouldn't obsess about inequality. Eye-watering wealth isn't a problem and – he opined – does not affect whether other people are poor. Really? He cited China as his shiny example with its burgeoning free enterprise and a growing middle class – everyone getting better off.

YES you idiot. That is how it starts. Ref; The Industrial Revolution and other stuff you could google. People trickle then pour in from the countryside to the new towns. They get exploited. Money is made. People organise themselves. There’s room for lots of snouts in the trough. Sometimes labour becomes in short supply so the workers have leverage to get better conditions and pay. Eventually gargantuan profits lessen and the only way for the top-feeders to maintain their profit margins is to cut wages and conditions (markets don’t just keep expanding) yada yada yada. Only these days the cycle goes faster.

Now Oxfam tell us we've reached a point where 1% of the richest people on the planet own half of the world’s wealth. 1% owns half and 99% share the other half.

1% of moneyed people owning half of all global wealth IS IS IS the reason folk at the at the bottom are starving/dying of curable disease/living miserable lives. It is a simple equation. Anyone who tells you it’s significantly more complicated than that needs a semester at the University of the Bloody Obvious (check out blog 77).

So – my new toaster.

I am not Mrs Gadget as regular bleaders know. For me a toaster is pretty modern and decadent. I was so pleased with the purchase that I read the instructions AND the warranty. It turns out that my warranty is void if my toaster gets “STRUCK BY LIGHTENING”. I kid you not.

At first I thought I’d bought a demon toaster. Was the manufacturer worried it would be targeted by an avenging deity? I had better not – I thought – eat toast from this toaster or I may become the handmaiden of Beelzebub. Then I recalled moving into my flat back in May. A cooker was delivered with no handle for the grill pan. I rang the shop and a young man informed me – with no trace of irony I could detect – that for health and safety reasons the manufacturers no longer supply a grill pan handle... When I asked if he thought it was safer for me to grab a hot grill pan without a handle he further informed me that I could buy a handle separately!!!!!!!!!

These silly examples are here purely to show how – in the west where you can’t rip people off blatantly because of the veneer of fairness - those guarding their profits have to do it subtly. But they are doing it. And everywhere less is presented as more whether its goods or service. My toaster warranty is worded to ensure that when the bloody thing breaks down after three months there will be myriad reasons why I cannot get a replacement – including satanic possession.

It’s why portions are smaller and you find strange things like non-specific horse flesh in your ‘beef’ burgers but not, as yet, Soylent Green.

On a grander scale tis why legal aid was cut and why things like the bedroom tax were introduced – so the poor get less. On the flip side the council tax and tax havens are there so the very rich contribute less.

One of the most insulting statements regularly used by the very rich is that people don’t realise how hard they work. The insinuation is that if the rest of the population weren't a bunch of lay-abouts they too would be rich. What rot. How hard do nurses work in a life and death setting? If anyone knows the disparity between the earnings of an NHS nurse on a 12 hour night shift and an even moderately successful hedge fund manager, do let me know. And just how hard do you have to work to inherit wealth - possibly made as the result of – oh I don’t know – diverting the natural resources of a country to your own benefit?

The fact is that those at the bottom of the pile have been hammered since the bankers wrecked the economy. As Capitalism runs out of steam the rich spend their efforts and considerable resources maintaining wealth and position. What is exhausting and insulting – like my toaster warranty – is all the ridiculous twaddle we are fed which aims to trick us into thinking it aint so.

Your mind may be brimming with books and films about nightmare dystopian futures where The 1% are using the rest as economic/service fodder. I have to say, the patterns emerging, that seem inevitably to lead there, are clearer than ever.

If you've not yet picked up on the potential giant backward step for mankind that is TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) I suggest you look it up.

If TTIP continues its secret un-monitored progress, are we not ever further along that road to capitalist hell? With profit interest trumping elected governments and protections against the worst abuses of trade wiped away, who knows? Like Charlton Heston’s Soylent Green (the 1973 sci-fi film set just 7 years from now) we may become actual as well as metaphorical fodder, cannibalised in order to preserve Paradise for the 1%.

Remember “Soylent Green is People”.

No archive recommendations this week but there is a new cartoon if you click on the orange Amanda Baker in the right hand column.

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