So, the Germany immigrant Pieter Thiel is funding all kinds of fascist and anarchistic organisations, whilst his erstwhile colleague from Paypal days, Elon Musk is interfering with any sector that interests him on the day.
But, together they are two of the wealthiest men on earth. The American Dream (for them).
They talk about the American dream and this is it – a German immigrant and a South African immigrant who have made it ultra big.
After all, Donald Trump’s mum was an immigrant, as were his wives, and his father’s father. He’s hardly American. Unless you define Americans as immigrants.
America has a neo Nazi and an apartheider as their most successful role models and a wannabe KKK leader as their wannabe President (again).
All I can say today, after all that has happened recently, is that I am so glad that I don’t have children. How sad is that ? When we defeated apartheid and got rid of Thatcher I was so proud and hopeful. I guess we are animals after all.
Dogma has, literally, Trumped truth and rationality.
My wife recently stayed in the Vegas mansion of a colleague (a senior exec of one of the world’s largest conpanies) and alarmingly told me how she kept an ’escape bag’. You see, she’s black and American.
Today, I feel that every woman and child, as well as anyone from any ethnic background should have an escape bag in the USA.
That’s around 68% of Americans. So how come they can be subjugated and terrorised by a minority of entitled white men ?
Religion, gerrymandering and utter aggressiveness are the answer.
Cortez, a stupid white diego, took much of the Americas with two hundred like minded colonists.
As I write this, inflation in the UK is nearly 10% yet interest rates are 1%. It’s clear that economics are broken: they are where the Standard Model is in physics. Clever theories won Nobel Prizes but have helped little in the real world. Monetarist or Keynsian, money itself is broken.
On one hand we have ‘full’ employment and lack of manpower all around with the ’supply chain’ broken in so many places. On the other, we have food banks feeding a large proportion of the UK.
Surely this suggests just one thing ? Wages are far too low.
Worse still, the pandemic has seen many older and better off people withdraw from the job market totally. With money worth nearly nothing and its utility also fast diminishing (how many Deliveroos can you order in a day ?), there is little motivation to work or even get richer.
Ideas, free time and personal agendas are the features of the 2020s.
For decades, salaries have barely risen in the UK for most people, whereas wealth for the top 1% has exploded. There’s something viciously Victorian about this scenario, an era that our current Eton and Oxford educated Tories hanker after (as, it has to be admitted, do many of their serfish Brexiteer followers).
So, Johnny foreigner has to be kept out, the workers need to be kept in their place and Britain can be great again.
Except money is broken. The dollar is hanging on in there against competition from the ludicrous, polluting Bitcoin (which deserves a carbon tax). But money isn’t worth anything.
The last refuge for Brits was property. So many of us own second homes and ’buy-to-lets’: my property investments have consistently outstripped everything I have ever done or invested in.
So, once again, it’s more economical to sit in a home whose price is rising by 10% a year than go to work.
The real currency of the UK is our housing stock, swathes of which is unproductive since it was bought by overseas investors under the nose of the Mayor of London, who is, er, now our Prime Minister as he did nothing to alleviate housing costs for his constituents.
So, you can mine money by sitting at home or using an environment destroying rig, since mining for gold or being an investment banker is pretty difficult.
The question remains: if money isn’t worth anything, how do we measure our values ?
I spent an early part of my career working in financial marketing and saw all the shenanigans used by ’the City’ to make its ridiculous salaries. From ’arbitrage’ to ’active fund management’ and definitely in ’investment banking’ it was a joke then and is more laughable now.
Over 30 years, I paid between £300-£400 a month into a pension fund. I received forests of documents meant to protect and inform me during this time. But very little information on what the money men were earning and what return they were delivering, let alone the interest of MPs and government ministers in the funds and company I was/am invested in.
Suffice to say that my pension is worth less than the money paid in after 32 years of being passed around from Refuge to others then Royal London then Scottish Widows (who recently sacked the risible vowel-averse and profit averse abrdn as fund managers in favour of Blackrock.
The same pattern is reflected across my ISAs and in my crypto investments.
Only two things have made me money over the past 38 years – my own companies and property (arguably we’ve done well with art and gold as well).
So you really have to ask what the point of these so called ’professional’ money managers is ? abrdn should clearly have its funds sold or reallocated and be closed down since its fund managers under perform what my cat would do with an inkpad and the FT (and Tigger only requires a can of tuna as payment).
I’m sure that there are good money managers out there but I’m damned if they want to deal with those of us with under £10m.
Money, as they say, begets money and all that’s left for us relatively poor plonkers is buy-to-let and the ravages of inflation.
Once upon a time Boris Johnson was hugely popular. He convinced the Labour and LibDem voters of London to make him mayor and took the glory for Rival Livingstone’s hard work in winning the Olympics for the city.
He then fudged his rather liberal views to oppose the EU and front the successful but ultimately disastrous Brexit project.
It was a continuation of rule by the notorious Oxford Bullingdon Club.
Then there was Partygate, proving that our Tory rulers believe that the laws they create do not apply to them.
The Tory prevaricstion over energy security is, perhaps, what is most unforgivable. The risible David ’husky’ Cameron introduced some great eco policies and then cut them down in the name of a book balancing exercise that seems risible after Covid.
Prioritising profit over security seems to be a particularly Tory trait.
On the verge of WW3, with the economy tanking and many people facing sheer poverty, the clown’s face paint is running, his quips aren’t funny any more.
Second homes have become an acute problem after the pandemic. During lockdown anyone and everyone with coin headed for the coast and the mountains to buy boltholes and piles where they could isolate splendidly.
This isn’t a new problem, but is acute in areas such as Cornwall and Gwynedd and Anglesey in Wales. These are areas where income is low and house prices are high.
So, what is the solution ? From charging half the rate of council tax a decade ago, local councils are now proposing 400% council tax. Since usually applies to the most expensive properties, you may be talking about £2000 pa becoming £8000.
But it’s easy to get around, just declare your Welsh or Cornish home as your main residence, and there will be no hike on your other (usually English) home. You can redefine in future to make sure you minimise other taxes.
So, what is the answer ? First of all, align voting with residence. A person can only register to vote in one place and this should be their home. Any other home, for all other taxation purposes, is a second home.
Also, do away with using rates for holiday homes, use council tax.
However, taxing people who are spending money locally and, arguably, bringing wealth into these communities, and even driving down property values is the wrong approach.
What needs to happen is that areas for local development are identified and any ’tourism taxes’ are ring fenced for creating communities that cannot be bought into by outsiders. Areas such as Botwnog/Sarn in Gwynedd and Llangefni in Anglesey, for example. Thousands of affordable homes, from container villages to comfortable estates should be built around facilities that must include schools, health, entertainment and shopping provision.
In so many parts of the developing world, housing is illegally provisioned, and this also needs to change (South Africa is an interesting study in this).
The Great Recession was created by the misprovision of housing in an ’open’ market in the US.
Does this create an ’other side of the tracks’, dualist community, and introduce ’trailer park economies’. Yes, it does, but we need to recognise that if we embrace capitalism, that we will always live in an unequal world.
What is required, all over the world, is cheaper ways to enter the property market and the ability to then trade up or securely stay put.
We live in an era where the name Sackler can be removed from the British Museum, but the Parthenon Marbles are kept, along with many other spoils of Empire.
The next heir to the throne and his wife are rightly trounced on a tour of the Caribbean. But if there are reparations for slaves, should there then be reparations for miners and other entrapped cogs in the imperial machine ?
You can watch Downton Abbey, Bridgeton and Sanditon and long for those days where everyone ’knew their place’, but you then have to actually ask: ”where did all that wealth go” ? The billions, perhaps trillions, generated by Empire. Where did it go ? Some stately homes that are now National Trust or English Heritage ? Those royal palaces ? The Church of England ?
Certainly, the miners of South Wales or the cotton mill workers of the North of England were nearly enslaved and saw no benefit.
Churches and town halls were built, magnificently.
But where did that coin go ? All that money from selling slaves and heroin and tea and spices to the world at large ?
The UK was never a wealthy country and was utterly bankrupted by two world wars, to the degree that the war debt was only recently paid off and we maintain a debt at nearly 90% of GDP, despite having the largest empire the world has ever know at the time.
I ask again, where did all the money go ?
Today, we operate in a world barely removed from Victorian politics, where attendance at Eton and Oxford are the only pre-requisites for high office.
We know where the privilege comes from, but where did the money go ?
You cannot destroy matter and the amount of water on earth is always constant, no matter how many storms, ice, melts or rainfall. So what about wealth ?
We now mine wealth, wasting precious resources in an abstract model which is as absurd as currency, or gold, or diamonds or futures, or short positions…