Listening to some early Bob Dylan songs recently I came across this humorous verse from his early 60's song “Talkin' New York” -
Well, I got a harmonica job begun to play
Blowing my lungs out for a dollar a day
I blowed inside out and upside down
The man there said he loved my sound
He was raving about it, he loved my sound -
Dollar a day's worth.
I've been thinking about exploitation, especially of younger people, and how the minimum wage has also become the maximum wage as far as a lot of employers are concerned. The people who used to employ my daughter said they loved her approach to the work and to customers, her trustworthiness, her commitment and her reliability, and they still paid her the minimum wage. When they asked her to look after the business whilst they went away on an expensive holiday they had still intended to pay her the minimum wage, and only begrudgingly paid her slightly more when she suggested they should.
Makes me wonder whether Dylan ever got a pay rise.
Of course these people are idiots, with no business sense whatsoever. These sorts of idiots can't see how a ruthless focus on short term profitability is detrimental to long-term business development. They certainly can't see that it's exploitative to expect someone to handle money competently and honestly and deal in an intelligent way with customers or clients and yet pay them the same as someone who sweeps streets or stacks supermarket shelves. They just do it because they can.
As I write I'm listening to a Radio 4 programme (“The Choice”) on which I can hear someone saying that a senior banking manager admitted that they couldn't possibly have hit their sales targets by selling 'ethically'. In other words, business ethics these days don't exist. As if they ever did, that is, in most places.
More about banking later.
Incidentally, there's some interesting thoughts here about Dylan's influences and inspirations -
According to a report out yesterday there's an 18 year gap in life expectancy between people living in the poorest and the richest parts of Sheffield. That's a bloody big gap.
And we should never forget that our economies as well as our banking system are based on selling “financial products” to people who have no way of knowing that the “deals” on offer are for the most part nothing more than swindles based on deception, exploitation, lies and half truths. How else do those bankers get those profits and those 'bonuses'?
At the other end of the spectrum of how human beings behave towards one another there was a documentary on the BBC recently, about the destruction of Coventry in WW2, which gave a very real sense of the extraordinary comradeship that was responsible for the phoenix-like revival of the city and also its community after the devastation that occurred. It was also interesting how that spirit of comradeship caused the majority of people in Coventry not to take up the offer of evacuation to a safer place – they became even more determined to stay, in spite of the hardships, and to keep the factories working to provide the war equipment that was essential to the effort to defeat fascism.
Interviews with elderly people who lived through the air raid and its aftermath also gave a very real sense of what I know to be the truth about the majority of Midlands people of my parents' generation – their humility and groundedness, their stoicism, their decency, their modesty, their spirit of community – their spiritual intelligence.
“We were all the same. There was real camaraderie.”
568 people were killed in the bombing of Coventry. 50,000 civilians were killed in the subsequent RAF bombing of Hamburg. Almost as many died in the destruction of Dresden.
Michael Buerk interviews people who have made life-altering decisions and talks them through the whole process, from the original dilemma to living with the consequences.This was another brilliant little programme that went to the heart of the kind of society we've become in this country. Paul Moore talked about his decision to become a whistle-blower - his concern for truth and justice versus his concern for his own wellbeing, his family, his career, and his future.
Michael talks to former banking executive Paul Moore about his choice to blow the whistle on HBOS.
Mr Moore spoke very eloquently about having a strong ethical sense of fairness that was in conflict with the taking of severance money on condition of a gagging order. £700,000 is what was offered.
He also spoke about his feelings of devastation at being fired for doing something that was clearly right and proper – simply speaking up about things the bank was doing that were clearly unethical. He spoke about turning to the bottle in the aftermath of his sacking.
Sir James Crosby – the head of Moore's employer HBOS who insisted Moore had to be fired after he'd written a devastating report about what the bank was up to – subsequently went on to be head of the Financial Services Authority.
Moore spoke very well about the importance of the truth coming out so that we could reconstruct the banking industry.
All over the media this morning – how our Chancellor Darling has determined to keep our capitalist system pretty much as it is by creating some new banks. Ha!
Finance and Banking
Please read this excellent piece in the Guardian yesterday by its economics editor, Larry Elliott -
Painful death of the American economic dreamhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/nov/02/globalisation-financial-markets-reforms
This crisis has been a long time in coming, and history suggests that the period of upheaval will be long and painful, just as it was between 1914 and 1945
This is precisely the sort of clear-eyed overview that everyone should read if they care to understand the really big picture, the global picture.
Have a look at this on today's website as well, including Oxzen's comment -
More on Drugs and Government
Spiritual, Social and Emotional Intelligence
I know I bang on about this, but what's the alternative? Keeping quiet?
Someone is attacked by a complete stranger every 30 seconds in Britain, figures revealed last night.Of course the Daily Mail's focus is on the symptom rather than the causes, and this report is part of a campaign to reduce pub opening hours. These sick people couldn't possibly admit that our society is sick, and it's the mental and spiritual health of the nation we ought to be concerned about, not simply how to clamp down on the behavior of sick and/or stupid people. Of course it's a lot simpler, and cheaper, to force pubs to go back to closing at 11.00pm, rather than having to invest more in developing proper spiritual, emotional and social intelligence in our young people and thereby educate them away from lives of violence, binge drinking and drunkenness. Of course these young (and not so young) people for the most part KNOW that what they do is harmful to themselves and others – but do they give a shit? What we must do, and fail to do, is to educate their souls and spirits away from the ignorance and stupidity that infects them. It can be done. It's done elsewhere. It's not even rocket science.
There were 1,057,000 violent attacks by strangers last year - the equivalent of 2,895 a day or 120 every hour.
When Labour came to power, only a third of violent crimes were carried out by an attacker the victim did not know.
That has now jumped . . . as random violence . . . has become commonplace.
Talking about infections, Brother B reminded me that he still wants to read “Affluenza” by Oliver James, and I'm reminding all of Oxzen's readers that they ought to read it.
In Praise of the BBC
The reason conservatives and reactionaries hate the BBC is because it insists on making quite a lot of programmes that appear “liberal” or “progressive” or “left wing” - simply because they're intelligent and they deal in revelation and truth-telling. Intelligent discourse that deals in reality is abhorrent to the idiots on the Right simply because they either can't get a stupid word in edgeways in the discussions or because when they do it's promptly exposed as misguided ludicrous reactionary rubbish based on ignorance and fear.
The best of the BBC is our only hope for an intelligent national discourse that's available to all and also very wide-ranging. “To inform, educate and entertain”. Contrast that with what's on view on Fox TV, for example, as seen on the clips on Jon Stewart's 'Daily Show' on More Four.
Items heard on Radio Four yesterday -
- The government's PREVENT programme that sets out to show young Asians etc how the police monitor and deal with “extremists threats” is no more than an exercise to convince the young that our approach to surveillance and “intelligence gathering” is right and proper. Whereas what we should be doing is teaching the young people that have the biggest sense of grievance to engage constructively in a dialogue with those who oppose and dismiss their radical views. We should also be helping them to learn whilst still at school that non-violence is the best and only proper philosophy, no matter how great your sense of frustration and injustice might be.
- Quentin Letts has a new book out called Bog Standard Britain. This appalling man, who might actually be quite an intelligent individual given some extensive de-toxification and some further learning opportunities, actually thinks that the TV character Hyacinth Bucket (Keeping Up Appearances) is a fine example, in spite of her extreme snobbery, of enlightened self-interest and drive to “better oneself”. http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0030918/quotes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyacinth_Bucket
- The Radio 4 Book of the Week this week is a biography of Somerset Maughan, who apparently qualified as a surgeon before opting to live his life as a writer, in spite of the huge drop in income that it initially involved. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00nj9jc "In 1892, at the age of 18, Somerset Maugham enrolled at St Thomas' medical school, but his heart wasn't in it. What he really wanted to do was write."
I've finally got round to watching Battlestar Galactica – the mini-series. The first 90 minute episode was on the Sci-Fi Channel last night.
“Greed, spite and jealousy. We still commit murder and other sorts of violence because of these things.”