Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Davos and the World Economic Forum: Freind or Foe to We Small Proles?

I mentioned David Ike and David Cameron in the same blogg and it is not entirely coincidental at these two clowns-of-their-convictions pop up again. The two bring me to discuss the Davos group, in reality the loose invitees of the WEF.  Are they a secretive elite hell bent on securing ever more riches for themselves or are they a benevolent movement which can operate as a kind of metademocracy involving the worlds major corporations and capital in the democratic process with a positive, global perspective?

Well certainly they are somewhat secretive in that meetings are closed to press and public, and  participants  are asked to keep privvy content. We do however know much of the agenda and some of the positive outcomes in international politics and decision making. For example many major corporates have decided to adopt green policies and persue sustainable and renewable markets at a pace probably accelerated by discussions and 'runways' for agreements from the public-private chamber. The WEF also grasped the thistle of China, claiming to have made the first moves towards a modernised market based economy.

To be sceptical: on one side there is the shadow of globalisation, where capital is free to organise internationally while fighting the internationalisation of organised labour and anything more than basic human rights, with exceptions therein even. Countries loose much of their ability to retain corporations while they ( like the UK and Spain) suffer a brain-drain of bright young things into international, borderless careers. Both these euroyuppies and made-men of the US super Inc's, their leaders and their investors loose sight of the consequences of disinvestment or over working in developed countries as they rush to the far east.

 They start to live bubble lives, much as an unemployed person in South Manchester does: swap the labour exchange for the swiss bank, the no 14 bus for first class in the jumbo and a ticket to old trafford with a skiing holiday in one of the more exclusive alpine resorts and you see that life revolves within certain circles,  by social and economic convention.  It becomes a habit that you don't mix with other strata: you don't seek it out. In some Chesire and rural scottish pubs I have been in, the reverse is true: the elite mix often with plumbers and joiners, and the cap is often not dothed: the elite of course are coy about what they do and who they are and probably avoid frequenting pubs their own serfs drink in!

One other thing is clear: in the USA it is a phenomenon dating to WWII and very apparent in the decision making for the long and unsuccessful war in vietnam. Corporations more than want their share of the public pie, they want to influence politics to deliver more public money to them.

This had long been a fact in the British Empire with quasi political entities like the East India Company. Whether or not weapons manufacturers influenced the inception, duration or cessation of hostilities is maybe hard to gauge, but this war was one for chemists and mechanical engineers back home as much as it was on the front of attrition warfare.

On one side corporations are free to influence the democratic process to reduce the tax burdon on profits, assets and controversially, top executives. While on the other side democracies have less in deciding how much gets put out to private companies or sold off to them. If you want a corporation in your western country then give us some of your public pie in both direct contracts and by providing a university system of graduates and low in- price, high end R&D.  As we have seen in the UK, once the utilities were privatised, the government and democracy was kept more and more at arms legnth: the market would prevail: the investors saw the UK as the milk cow and have put in place higher than RPI inflation price rises to both invest in infrastucture ( capital assets don't forget) and record profits.

A recurring theme in my blogs is the vehement anti public service lobbying and politics which have prevailed, while the west has been very pleased with it's public servants in the traditionally right wing organs- the police and the armed forces. There is privatisation around the logistic and security fringes there, but at the core the right wing TRUST these organs more so than say cleaners in hospitals. That a soldier faced with patrol in Bagdad or Kabul is mysteriously more motivated than a cleaner entasked with the hygeine of a hospital is fundamentally questionable. A cleaner with terrible working conditions from a private employer would and of course has in fact proven to be the lesser motivated od the two.

With this full blown recession of the non oil economies, private companies are pleased about states trying to balance their books and are looking for opportunities for private contracting. However they will find that this will often sting them in the tail. In future the tactic of suicide tenders to oust otherwise efficient public services may fall on its face as more social enterprises take organised by charities and trade unions take the mantel of the tender process. This is in fact the best way for labour to organise now : being able to work for slimmer margins and having access to technocracy to shared on a national level, they will be able to outcompete the spivs and the cheating multinationals. Then they too can have Davos type meetings and decide how much of the public pie the people get.

The New, Newer Right

David Cameron has had a major amount of exposure on our own national TV news of late, along with politics in England. Cameron is from the new, newer right who talk soft to the working man and woman in the street about how much better they will be with massive cuts in public budgets, while both splashing money at failed banks and protecting them from any responsibility and minor increases in taxation.

On europe and the eurozone, Cameron is unfortunetly on the correct side of right! It is high time the left in the UK also showed this degree of scepticism. Nationalism is what drove the 1983 election in favour of Thatcher: we want our money and we want our Falklands! To paraphrase Gordon Browns declaration on the Euro, Britain, and Norway are not convergent to the big Four economies in the Eurozone. We have oil and are linked into that global trading loop and "barrel barter currency", while the UK has oil, massive renewables, a major global financial centre (be it based ever more funny-money over for stocks in companies which do anything) and a housing stock bubble which is teetering at the edge of collapse. Why let the Eurozone drag the housing market into a "correction" when the government's own policies of feeding the international rich will cut the whole castle-of-cards at the base and bring it all down. If they are unlucky.

I often wonder if this recession was engineered by the world's capitalists to try and nail the solid left of the social welfare and public spending programmes into what has happened: cutting off their leverage and forcing them to balance the books based on lower tax-income forecasts. However it is the Greek's and Irish super-middle classes whose greed, corruption and short sightedness : the v ery opposite of prudence; which demonstrates the stupidity of the men in blue and grey suits in banks and beaurocracies. Like many eras, and we are in a new dangerous era, it is symptomatic of what came immediately before and will throw up some radical curees.

Conspiracy theorists love this type of suggestion though. David Ike is probably rubbing his hands and writing a new book about this recession being a construction of international capital. If the whole thing were not so tied to orginisations acting either irresponsibly or individuals acting criminally then a conspiracy could be plausable.

Why be in the euro anyway then? As said I do not support scandinavian countries or the UK being in the Euro now : they will probably end up more or less in the dollar otherwise, but the economies stand too much to gain from high currency valuation in terms of buying power and public spending. However for Spain, Italy and the smaller nations, the Euro zone both simplifies business and protects the supply chain against fluctuations which can errode bottom line over night. Also it gives a united front for a Europe in growth against other major currencies, maintaining buying power.

Scandinavia and the UK benefit from the fluctuations and the stability at the core ironically enough. On one side raw materials get cheaper, on the other exports

Let's face it we buy stuff and okay add value to larger "things" or more technical "things" or military protected "things". Service industries and Keynsian public spending keep it all afloat and feed the property market with well paid policemen, doctors, lawyers, administrators and politicians. You can't sell a burger  to a night duty nurse or a night at the opera to a  well paid publocrat in Shanghai when they live in Brussels.

Therefore are the new, newer right a danger. They don't like this money circulating around the hoi polloi. They want more of this money to be "freed up". Small government. Liberalisation nouveaux. Flow up and trickle down. Plenty of talk of freedom, but like in the USA will you be "free" to work 12 hour days and yet not have economic access to medical care?

I see the real danger in the errosion of social mobility. Obama had identified this and health care for all as two major factors holding back growth and well being in the USA. Shame cry the right. If  you work hard then your kids maybe get to go to uni. Well Uni may well be clogged up with the type of lame rich kids we meet on eurotour: they know they will get by on arrogance, and the economic power of their parents. Essentially they clog up the system and then drift off into property management and capital, leaving the enterprises their parent built to their own fortunes or worse, crippeling them in arguements about how to exit their capital share holding.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Social Media Recycled

Hey heads up. Timeline is coming your way as fbm roll out the way it will look for us to be antisocially silent and glued to the screenc sorry tablet. Sorry it is like an iPod only Paddier.

Facebook rode the back of 'friends reunited' and did three things most all web sites failed to do: get the brand right, get the word of mouth viral spread and get the sales mechanism for advertising revenue. In timeline i see a lot of hat has come before in myspace and the early dynamic source web sites of a decade ago.

Twitter is often hailed as the unique glue of cybersociality. Micro blogg. Well you can trace abbrevviated coded messaging back to spies and the enigma machine if you need something electric.  Phone freaks, ac-net, newsgroups . . You name it. People have been tweeting in code forever.

I have been following the tech bursts on BBC world and Discovery. The latest touch screen lifestyle brought in a picosecond of fame for the makers. Blink and you will have missed it and that is the whole tactic. Cyberburps of regurgitated technology.

I find little new in much of this. Sure we all have the james bond techno miniaturem Gps comms info gadget in our pocket we dreamed of, but it was someones dream when Sean Connery had hair and an attitude.

Jobs got the iPad first to marketing, followed up within a year with the sucker punch slimline successor. How much better is it than the andoid and the forthcoming win 8 touch based tablets? Hardly ? Well it it will command a price premium long after android tablets are on a free with your new 4G LTE contract.

Jobs got not to the whole market first. He got to the self proclaimed style and opinion leaders. They made a point of whipping out the oversized iPhone most cyber consumer conspiciously. It met the technoyuppie cling ons needs : they have the business school attitude to lead, with the techiebabble to talk over the true technical geniii. Just like mr jobs did.