Wednesday, 12 November 2014

What would the end (of profit) look like?

Scenario 1 - Climate Change. Ever since the IPPC climate change report last month I have been pondering on the much quoted tenet that we can trust in the markets to continue to provide growth, despite the occasional small or large setback, until the point at which we will have much more to worry about than the state of our investments. That is , until the political, economic and social fabric of the world breaks down and all hell is let loose. This "fact" is generally meant to be reassuring, in a "don't worry, it won't happen yet" kind of way. I tend to think this is an over optimist view of the situation. Things are getting pretty bad and nothing much is being done.

Scenario 2 - The Blight of Inequality. My thoughts on How Rich Are You on C4 this week were "thank goodness these facts and ideas have made it out into the public domain, shame it had to be done in such a simplistic way, but at least it's a start". The trouble is that solutions seem few and far between. On the surface the problem is not one that should worry those of us who are lucky enough to be able to take advantage of the shift from labour to capital, that is those of us with money in the system, but the real issue affects us all. That issue is social unrest and fragmentation, the failure of the state and the further breakdown of social justice. How would wealth feel in an increasingly "nasty" and unbalanced society. Not my idea of the good (profitable) life.

Scenario 3 - The "Interstellar" effect. I saw this much hyped film at the weekend and then read this review of it this morning which crystallised my unease about its slant as regards climate change but also its more general message. We are suffering from a similar type of political defeatism in the UK at the moment. There is very little strength of purpose, imagination or moral fibre in the messages being given by main stream politicians who seem to live in fear of saying the wrong thing rather than be shouting out the right things (I exclude the Greens from this). The fear of making choices because they may be unpopular is not what we need from politicians and, in the case of some issues, things are fast reaching (and may have passed) the tipping point.

Depressing mid-week thoughts I'm afraid, but we live in dangerous times.


  1. Hi Cerridwen, sobering stuff indeed. I missed the 'How Rich You Are' programme, so did a catch up this week - some very surprising (and sad) facts there but I'm at a loss as to how to solve the issues.

    1. Thanks weenie. I think there are solutions. We just won't take them up because we can't feel how near we are to the edge just yet. But circumstances will eventually force our hand, albeit (probably) a little too late.

  2. If I may lighten the mood a little, I read in the Grauniad that Obama and China appear to have signed a deal on carbon emissions which is a major step forward.

    And Europe did manage to land a craft on a comet, which is kinda awesome, or maybe that's just the geek in me.

    Re inequality, I wonder if part of the problem is also the breakdown in a system of shared values, the so-called postwar consensus An effective democracy does need a minimum level of shared values IMO, and this seems to be polarizing in the UK and US

    1. Thanks ermine. The mood certainly needs lightening. :-) The Obama/China deal looks good but seems in danger of being scotched by the Republicans.

      I agree about Rosetta, we need to see more "striving" for its own (rather than financial) sake and this is something that all who have been involved in should be very proud of.

      Shared values gain strength in times of stress due to the feeling of "pulling together". At the moment we are pulling apart. I think this is down to the fact that we are being told that the problem belongs to us all but many of us believe that the solution is being shouldered by those who can least afford it.

  3. The evidence is there about all of this. Interesting TED talk (or transcript) where Paul Piff shares his research into how people behave when they feel wealthy. (Hint: badly)
    But on a brighter note, Hans Rosling's TED talks did cheer me up about global humanity.
    His talks are great, entertaining and optimistic - especially "The Magic Washing Machine" or "Religions and Babies"
    But the question for us in the UK is what to do about it. Wise people do get some air time, but who listens to them? And they are not in Politics, or if they are they get drowned out.
    I like to go walking and see the remains of the glaciers in Wales, the Neolithic and Bronze age monuments. Like them, this time will pass, but the Earth and sky are always wonderful.

    1. Hi Rowan Tree. I will certainly look out those TED talks. I read something else recently about research into how people's behaviour changes the more privileged they become (a generalisation of course). It is apparently down to a growing sense of entitlement and seeing themselves as different and better - an "alpha class".

      You are absolutely right - we have much to uplift us in all this mess and we have to remember to see it. Thank you :-)