Monday, 29 August 2011

SNP Wants Control Over Corporation Tax But Who Controls the Corporations?

Alex Salmond's SNP government wants control of corporation tax.  That way they expect to bring jobs to Scotland.  The question we should ask, is what kind of jobs?  He might take less tax from big business (until they move elsewhere for a cheaper more vulnerable labour force) but he has to get his tax revenue from somewhere.  No doubt, that’ll come in the form of income tax from working people.  What will working conditions be like in Salmonds future Scotland under the hegemony of fly-by-night global corporations?  Wouldn’t it be better to incentivise local business?  To what extent does this kind of policy-making undermine democracy?  Another interesting question is why is Rupert Murdoch’s Scottish Sun newspaper so supportive of Scottish Nationalism?  (More...)

Will the Scottish Nationalist Party Fight For Independence From The Banksters
SNP Wants Control Over Corporation Tax But Who Controls the Corporations?

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Looters, Rioters, Bankers, Petitioners and the Rest of Us

One of the saddest things about the recent rioting in UK cities is the divisive nature of it, for there's nothing a ruling elite loves more than division among the hoi polloi.  "Divide and conquer", is how Julius Caesar described the tried and tested tactic in his day. 

Just the other morning I heard on the BBC news that 600,000 people have signed a petition for government to introduce legislation that would mean the courts could dock benefits (social security) from anyone involved in rioting and looting.  Maybe the rationale is that if they don't have any money, they won't be able to afford the bus fare into town to attend any future riots. 

I dread to think of the social consequences of chucking entire families out onto the streets for the sins of individual members of each brood - so I shan't.  However, as I've already alluded to the Romans, maybe Pontius Pilate could help us understand the mentality of a disinterested elite sitting in its tax havens, washing its hands of the whole affair and letting the peasantry stew in its own juice - as if they should care that the peasants are revolting.  I suspect that at this moment, they're more concerned that we might not revolt.  For they thrive on the conflict of others, and on the competition they force-feed us, knowing that it's something they'll never have to swallow themselves.

Another interesting thing to emerge in the aftermath, is the disproportionately severe sentencing:  One young woman who'd been asleep during the rioting got five months in jail for buying a pair of looted shorts; two young men got four years each for trying to incite riots on websites to which pathetically, no one responded (except GCHQ, no doubt).  Another man received eighteen months for stealing a bag of doughnuts.  Yuck, was my response, when I heard that.  For being made to eat such disgusting mass-produced gunk, would be rougher justice to me.  Someone else got the jail for stealing a £3.50 bottle of water.  If he'd done that here, in Scotland, taking into account the rainfall we get, they'd simply put him in a mental institution, more to be pitied than punished. 

The upshot of all this might be that, before you can say Joseph Stalin, internet access will be subject to the kind of sanctions that the authorities in the People's Republic of China would envy.  Furthermore, I bet that the global plutocracy would be co*k-a-hoop were 600,000 UK plebs to sign a petition for blanket censorship of the internet under the pretext that it would protect the public from the rioting hoards. 

However, the question is how we deal with the divisiveness of it all.  How do the decent ordinary people who make up the majority of society come together and deal with those who would riot in our streets, at the same time as hold to account those who are responsible for the societal and economic conditions that are at the root of the problem?  It's a difficult question, because we all experience the World differently and 80s ideology seeped into our culture insidiously. 

Many people even of my age and still yet, seem unaware of the dangerous creeping changes exemplified in the anti-union legislation and government repeals to such as the Glass-Steagall Act, that formed the noose that choked off our democratic freedom.  Few people see treachery until the treachery reaches them.  We know very well too, that many people just switch on the mainstream news and swallow what's dished up.  Many accept political, economic and societal change, on the hope that there's something in it for them.  That, I believe, facilitated the privatisation of public assets and council housing, at a time when outsourcing of 'the means of production', made it less likely that there would be the jobs needed to pay for the scheme.  However, everyone's views differ, and of course, those who don't have to compromise, don't compromise - so here we are, reaping what we've sown.

All of the above tend to strengthen autocracy, and weaken democracy.  Much of the change permeated our lives by the impersonal non-negotiability of computerisation, imposed by those who are geographically, and empathetically distant and who've somehow managed to convince our representatives and many of the rest of us, that this will serve our societal needs better than proper representational government.  Seemingly, we should replace that with 'small government', on the vague rationale of its efficiency - when it really just looks like another tool for hamstringing democracy.

These days, when we air our problems, we get a facetious 'tell me about it', instead of a sympathetic ear.  "Laugh and the World laughs with you", wrote the poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox.  "Weep and you weep alone".  Yet 'what goes around comes around', and weeping alone in an overcrowded World of gadgetry, and mechanised production, mightn't best exemplify human progress.  My parents' generation seemed to know that instinctively.  I call them the War generation, because I think their wartime experiences helped them to value camaraderie much better than we do now - to our detriment.

Mohandas K. Gandhi

Mohandas Gandhi said, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world".  Does that make the mountain seem too high?  Should that mean that the best we can do is look after number one?  Similarly, do we turn to rioting and looting, or petitioning for draconian measures against others - all of which would only serve to exacerbate further violence?  The odds of one in six billion (in the unlikely chance that it were reduced to such odds) might seem almost impossible, however, zero in six billion is impossible odds - and that's where we'd be, if no one ever took steps to "be the change".

For the small acts of kindness and the empathy that we can all achieve as individuals, can make a difference to our own lives.  It affects others, who respond in kind.  That reciprocity can ripple outwards, rolling back the crass ideological tides of the 80s. We might think of these small steps in the road back to a more egalitarian society in a similar way to the proverbial 'first step' with which, 'the longest journey begins' - because the building of culture, good or bad, is myriad, and is the result of multitudinous small steps made by many individuals.   

Values will ebb and flow, as they have done through the ages:  Were you a Christian, you might call them Christian values; were you a Muslim, you might call them Islamic, and were you humanitarian you might have similar values too.  Those values change according to circumstances.  During times of turmoil, the dichotomy seems much greater than usual, but the 'silent majority' is normally just that: silent.  They're willing to neither riot nor petition in a way that would hurt others unnecessarily.  Yet it's from that majority that most change emanates. 

Politicians are like water, they're inclined to take the route of least resistance - as most of us do.  I suspect that even medieval tyrants knew that their fortunes were subject to the ebbs and flow of the tides of popular support - though King Canute might've thought differently, for a while.  Modern tyrants whether their methods are economic or militaristic, do better when they recognise that.  Hence, the almost blanket control of media, and the use of focus groups and security services, all over the World by those who hold dominion.

Therefore, regardless of current political and economic problems, we together, are our own best hope of a more equitable future.  Sometimes change is slow; sometimes it's sudden.  Some few individuals are in better positions to affect change than others, yet no individual can do it alone, because cultural change is the sum total of the change coming from us all.

We might sympathise with the family of a looter forced out onto the streets because of the petitioning of others.  Our hearts might go out to the bereaved families of the murdered men who tried to protect their property, in the absence of proper police funding from a state that nevertheless found billions to refund a coterie of gamblers.  We might join the petitioners.  We might sympathise with the banksters; that happens.  Yet all of the options above are divisive, whereas surely cooperation is the key to the greater democracy that most of us desire.  For that, we must empathise with everyone - even, (dare I say) the banksters and the corporation chiefs.  Yet we should give them no quarter where their assault on democracy is concerned. 

Above all, we should be aware that the only change the majority of us can hope to influence is the change within ourselves, and the only hope we have that that will duly influence others, will come in the message of our own example.

Looters,Rioters,Bankers,Petitioners and the Rest of Us

Monday, 15 August 2011

Get Those Rioters and Looters Back 'Intae The Body o' The Kirk'.

'Come in tae tha body o' tha kirk', is an old Scottish expression.  I can't remember where I first heard it.  I can't remember who said it, why, how or when either - but I remember clearly the emotion it evoked. 

I felt wanted, a part of something, I remember feeling that I mustn't do, or say anything that would disaffect me from this group of people who'd invited me into their midst.  I felt that kindness such as this, required commitment, and that I had to conduct myself in a way that would please them.  I had to think carefully about what I said and did in their company, so to keep their approval. 

'Come in tae the body o' the kirk', translated, means come and join us; we want you to be one of us.  In Scotland, the word 'kirk' means church.  The saying no doubt dates back to a time when the kirk was all-encompassing, and is no doubt rooted in the maxim that a truly Christian society excludes no one.  We don't have to be religious to appreciate that.  I'm not religious, but I think that we all respond best when we feel that we have a value to others.

In 1997, Tony Blair took office amid much jubilation.  I remember the happy cheering crowds out on the street.  I still remember the emotion I felt on that May morning - as the sun shone.  I remember too, the feeling of hope.  Union flags were flying as Tony and Cherie Blair took a long triumphant stroll along Downing Street shaking hands, smiling, laughing and backslapping amid the euphoria.  I remember a song, "Things Can Only Get Better".  I, like many, I suspect, felt I was to become part of something: a change in society, which meant that everyone was invited.  We all had a value. 

He talked about, "a stakeholder society", and said it was for, "the many, not the few".  Those sound bites, I suggest now, are clear evidence that politicians are well aware of what their electorate wants.  I felt deep emotion.  It seemed, at last, that everyone was invited into 'the body o' tha kirk'. 

Yet, I don't remember any promise of greater distribution of material wealth; that didn't seem so important.  The predominant feeling was that a nation had made a decision about the kind of society it wanted to be; that was all that mattered; if that was put right, no difficulty was insurmountable.  Everyone had a value.  Everyone had a "stake" in society.  No one was on the scrapheap.  Tony and Cherie reached out their hands to the people - all the people.  Then they went into Number 10 Downing Street and shook hands with The Establishment. 

In 2010, Nick Clegg, now UK Deputy Prime Minister, said, "Don't let anyone tell you, that it can't be different this time".  That put him on the political map.  His Liberal Democrat Party held the balance of power and we woke on the morning after the May 2010 Election, to find that we had a hung parliament.  He took his party into coalition with the Conservative Party, went into Number 10 Downing Street, 'Sir Humphrey' smiled at him and Nick shook hands with The Establishment.   If the establishment had not been his tribe before, it is now.  

However, when we accept an invitation into 'the body o' the kirk', we don't want to do or say anything that might offend our new tribe. 

I suppose that's what happens when a young person joins a gang.  "Come with us my friend.  Join our tribe and we'll go bling-hunting together.  We think you belong amongst us.  We'll take things from others who are not part of our tribe. Tonight we will riot and loot against those who do not invite us amongst them.  You are invited to come with us." 

No one else wants you.  No one else has given you a value, or a stake in things.  No job, no hope of involvement in anything that gives you a feeling of worth, a reason to jump out of bed in the morning and offer your services to the tribe.  The only people, who evoke the emotion that feeds that sense of belonging and worth, are those who want you to loot and riot with them.  Do you go?  Some do, but actually, comparatively few, when you consider the demographics.

The politicians say you're violent criminals.  Of course you are.  They say that you do it for gain.  Of course you do.  Banksters and corporations don't do what they do, to gain everyone's approval; they do it for the approval of their own tribe.  Whether people are banksters or blingsters, the motivation is the same - to be part of a group to whom they feel an affinity.  Some, no doubt feel so emotionally tied that they can't contemplate ever provoking the disapproval of their tribe, regardless of the demands it puts upon them.  It often seems that the bling or the financial reward isn't the motive, but merely the badge. 

This same emotion manifests in every social stratum - and on the battlefield too.   In the UK, we award soldiers who do deeds of great courage and self-sacrifice with the Victoria Cross.  When we read or hear the details of what these people have done, we find that they didn't do it for financial gain; they weren't necessarily just following orders.  It's not even as if they were all patriots.  Furthermore, VC awardees come from all social spheres, colours and creeds.  Some were from the slums; some had criminal records; some were from the nobility.  Yet, we know that commitment and camaraderie amongst brothers-in-arms are the predominant motivators behind the deeds that earn our heroes their VCs.  They feel a bond that often overrides concern for their own safety. 

People do both extraordinarily good and bad things for their tribes.   Wouldn't it be good if we could take that enormous emotional potential and use it for the common good?  What sort of society replaces that with robots, computers and plays it off spitefully against outsourced cheap labour?  That only serves the interests of an elite and socially distant tribe.  Why is all that emotional energy out there on our streets causing mayhem for us, when it could be enhancing our lives?  Why is it that, amid all the political rhetoric, there has been so little progress made towards bringing everyone back, into 'the body o' the kirk'?

The Healthiest Possible Salad Cream Ever Created By Me So Far

The Healthiest Possible Salad Cream Ever Created By Me So Far

Sunday, 14 August 2011

A Good Way to Eat Sprouted Seeds, Lentils and Beans, is in Cole Slaw.


You can grate, or finely dice a carrot and an onion and add it to salad cream and instead - or as well as - using raw cabbage, which is the other main ingredient in Cole Slaw, you can mix in your sprouted seeds etc.

So here's the ingredients:

1 finely diced/shredded raw onion
1 finely diced/shredded carrot
1 handful of alfalfa sprouts
1 handful of soaked (8 hours) pumpkin seeds


Mix it in with your salad cream until the consistency looks and tastes right.

Here's a link for - The Healthiest Possible Salad Cream Ever Created By Me So Far

Saturday, 13 August 2011

How To Make A Healthy Spread or Margarine Using Coconut Oil and Canola Oil

This is a quick, healthy recipe.  I don't know if it's unique to me; I doubt it, because it's a real no-brainer-cinch. 

My wife said, "What does it taste like?"  I said, "A bit like margarine with a hint of coconut, I suppose."  And she thought that might be a bit peculiar.  However I spread some on her home-baked bread and she liked the taste, so I thought it's worth blogging about.  Here's the recipe; don't blink or you'll miss it. 


2 tablespoons of rapeseed (canola) oil
1 tablespoon of coconut oil


Put both ingredients into a small dish and gently heat them until the coconut oil melts. Virgin coconut oil melts at 76 °F (24 °C), so you don't need to damage it by overheating.

Stir them together and let it cool.  Refrigerate.

The Healthiest Possible Salad Cream Ever Created By Me So Far

Friday, 12 August 2011

Mustard Honey and Lemon Salad Dressing


1 dessertspoon of mustard powder
1 teaspoon of runny honey
1 teaspoon of bouillon powder
1 freshly squeezed lemon
1 tablespoon of rapeseed (canola) oil


Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Did The American People Lose Their Triple-A Credit Rating or Was It Stolen?

They were saying on the BBC News (UK TV) yesterday morning that the US has 'lost' its Triple-A credit rating.  I wondered what they meant, 'lost' it.  That sort of thing doesn't just drop out your hip pocket. 

When I was a boy, if I went home to my Mum saying I'd lost something, she'd ask, "Where did you leave it? When did you last see it?  Think back!  What were you doing at the time?"

"A couple of big boys said they'd look after it for me, and then they started playing Pig-in-the-Middle with me." 

"Get right back out there and take it back off them then!"

"They keep throwing it over my head, and telling me to jump higher."

"Why didn't you report it to teacher?"

"Teacher says they're too big to discipline."

"Where is it now?  Do they still have it?"

"Yes, they say I can have it back, if I give them my dinner money
every day until - forever."

"That's extortion!"  "You haven't lost it!  They stole it!

I agree with Mum.  I think there's a difference between losing something and extortion, and I think we ought to take account of that before we chastise ourselves or let anyone else tell us that that's what we ought to do. 

Besides, if we let people take something from us because they said they would do the right thing and that it was the 'only way', and we trusted them, our wisdom might be in question, but not necessarily our honesty.  If they say we must jump higher, or they'll give it to those who can jump higher than we can, we might be unwise to go along with a game that neither our competitors nor we can possibly win.  Maybe we should've known that they were beyond the pale - but that doesn't make us responsible for their behaviour.  However, we do have a responsibility to learn from the experience and to do our utmost to redress the situation for the benefit of future generations and out of respect for previous generations who struggled so hard, to benefit us.

UK politician Tony Benn spoke the following words in The House of Commons in the early 90s.  He was one of the few who never sold out on his principles, even after the majority of his colleagues and party members in the UK Parliamentary Labour Party did, abandoning much of the founding principles - just to ingratiate themselves with an unelected clique, who held the strings to their puppet power: 

"These are assets built up by the labour of those who work in (electricity) and by the tax payer who put the equipment in.  Now to be auctioned off at half their price, to make a profit, for a tax cut for the rich, before the next election comes.  If these were local councillors, they would be before the courts for wilful misconduct.  And because they are ministers and then some of them later go on the boards of the companies they've privatised, they are treated as businessmen who know better how to handle it as members of  the Board of Directors than allegedly they did as ministers responsible."

However, parliament is there to make the laws, and it was by that means that much of those assets were "taken" - but not lost. 

For how can anything be lost when everyone knows where it is?  It's all there - all stashed away in the tax havens, because decent ordinary people wanted to trust those whom they chose as their lawmakers and representatives.  That trust now seems the greatest loss of all.  Yet even that trust wasn't 'lost'.  It too, was taken - from our culture - and now, we have to replace it.

In The House of Commons, one doesn't accuse Honourable, and Right Honourable Ladies and Gentlemen of stealing. 

This is Tony Benn again: "What's really happened is that after ten years when people have taken things they should never have taken, there is a return of self-confidence and hope..." 

(Tony Benn - Pit Closures) 

Most ordinary people I know just want to play their small part in society and have fair remuneration, for their contribution to that society.  They want to trust the people whom they choose as their leaders.  That might be naive and unwise; you might call it lazy and complacent - but it's what most of us do.  Moreover, we get great comfort from that trust and belief in others.  Its absence impoverishes us as a society and as human beings, because it enhances our lives in many ways that financial wealth never can. 

We might've been short-sighted, we might have made mistakes and misplaced our trust, but 'we, the people', are not the perpetrators of the theft.  Our compliance did not make us complicit in that theft, and as long as we remember our responsibility to future and past generations there's still hope.  We might have to replace the stolen assets, as only 'we, the people' can - for the wealth of a community, society or nation always builds on the backs of the majority.

Yet, has anyone noticed recently that, when you finger the real culprits - those "who have taken things they should never have taken" - more and more people are willing to listen?  I have.  I've found that people are listening now.  Now they see it.  More and more of them do - and that tells me that there is hope.  Perhaps, all that's missing now is the audacity.
Did The American People Lose Their Triple-A Rating