Saturday, 25 October 2008

An Economy for Us All

At the height of the early stages of the bank failures when Lehman Brothers and AIG went to the wall, I was amused by McCain’s attempt to buy time from coming up with a recovery strategy by hiding behind the government’s skirts. But I was even more bemused by Obama’s failure to come up with any economic recovery plan of his own. I thought there was a clear window of opportunity for someone to come up with aspirational recovery plan that would have resonated with “main street” while the rescue of Wall Street was being chewed over by all those fearful of the future of their big pay days.

I came away with the feeling that Obama wasn’t entirely bristling with ideas about how to handle the current crisis or the economy in general. He is very good at articulating the policy he has adopted. And he comes across very well and extremely media friendly when he makes his speeches. However, I always get the feeling there is just the ever so slight feeling that while he is very much almost pyrotechnically switched on; at times there might not be anyone in residence.

I was somewhat relieved to hear his benefits and tax break package. But I felt it took him a bit too long to outline it. He is lucky that McCain is still battling with adding up the huge numbers involved. He did always love a good war so I guess he's in the fight of his life now. His abacus must be smoking!

I really felt the recovery focus on banks is the kind of limited thinking that comes with a slavish devotion to capitalism and free market principles. It's as if the banks can stimulate spending and saving amongst the general populace. Let’s not forget that if the banks had the solution they wouldn't have gotten us into the mess in the first place. They started the reckless lending and then tried to recover by throwing their customers to the wolves by wholesale repossessing homes. That’s the banks idea of a solution. Overkill and customer exploitation.

A solution could have been to protect small and medium sized business, and then provide mortgage and credit relief to low income earners. There have been a lot of profitable and stable businesses that have been strangled by the withdrawal of credit facilities. Some of these would have continued to serve a much available market and make a sensible profit if the financing conditions had remained stable. The banks have withdrawn support to these businesses and watched them grind to a halt.

Given the amount of money that the government invested in the anti terror panic and now in shoring up the wobbly banks, it could have done more to help small businesses. Maybe set up a unit of business advisors to review the circumstances of those businesses struggling for credit lines. They could have checked which of them were viable and would be able to stay so after restoration of credit facilities and then make the banks offer them credit. After all, a huge some of public money is going into banks. They can hardly say no. Those businesses that were ideas that have turned out not to have solid market standing would just have to go to the wall. Self indulgence can’t be supported in these stringent times.

The government could have, and hopefully still might halt all repossessions of the homes of people who are in employment, or likely to return imminently to employment. The banks could either refinance them or give them a payment relief period while they attended debt management workshops. There would be very structured conditions for them receiving the relief. Any who refused to comply or defaulted would have to face the consequences of the economic downturn.

There are still a huge number hurdles to scale. I don't know whether the other side of this crisis is going to be a pleasant sight. It would be nice to have politicians who understood both the economy and the people that are its life blood. Not just the big financial

Wednesday, 22 October 2008


I guess I really am a cynic. I used to believe that the walkman was one of the modern eras most anti-social inventions. But I've had almost all incarnations of it so maybe I'm just a hypocrite. Well, of late I have become irritatingly more convinced that everyday backpacks are certainly a bane on humanity.

And yes, have owned a couple. One was a patent leather backpack. The other was a sports backpack that I have away at the first opportunity.You see people lurching around with backpacks strapped to their backs like they are jetpacks. They are completely oblivious of their surroundings. And they assume their backpacks are an extension of their bodies. Its no problem for them to bump, brush or batter unfortunates who wander into the radius of their backpack inhabited crushing zone.

So many people just don't care how there phantom baody part impinges on anyone else. I have come too the view that the English are just too inelegant. They lact any physical intuition. If you take half a look at them they are just a shambling stuttering mess. Thats why they are no good at anything that requires athletic expression. They are also terrible at driving. They just cant feel or relate to rhythm the vehicle. Anything that is mechanical or requires a repetitive skill is just the thing for them though.

I can understand that for heavy loads a backpack will come in handy. Thats what rucksacks are all about. But I have seen people who clearly were not being weighed down in any way. Except maybe by the overwhelming essence of their BO and bad breath. Thats certainly a knockout during the peak hour crush.

It makes me laugh when I see people with what are clearly empty backpacks on their backs. I mean, whats the point? Surely they can carry that in one hand. Why strap it to your back like some kind of life support pack. Its even worse when you see someone formally dressed in a suit and then on goes the backpack. Talk of common!

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Something To Move Me

Was just listening to 'Lost Without You' by Robin Thicke. Now thats how a love song should sound. Now am not saying he is a great singer. Cause he aint. Just that he nailed that song. Makes me think of other songs that hit me hard on first hearing.

  • 'Brandy' by the Ojays
  • 'If loving you is wrong' by Millie Jackson
  • 'Killing Me Softly' by Roberta Flack
  • 'Palava' by Fela Anikulapo-Kuti
  • 'Call My Heart Your Home' by Evan Rogers
  • 'Circles' by Atlantic Star
  • 'Straight From the Heart' by Confunkshun

Monday, 13 October 2008

The Decline of Hip Hop

Whatever happened to the days when hip hop was about the message, the streets and an ill flow? The days when you spent years honing your craft. Battling to establish your credibility. Hanging with your homies. Chronicling life in the hood.

Now we have the likes of Plies, Flo Rida and 50 Cent defaming the genre. No wonder Nas thinks Hip Hop is Dead. Its no longer about the music anymore. Now its strictly about the money. Its true what they say; " if it don't make money, it dont make sense".

Even the producers these days. See Timbaland oh! The guy will do anything for dough. Given the chance he would be trying to produce Celine Dion and Tom Jones. The dude is just doing it by numbers these days.

I have even tired for Missy Elliott. Its difficult to see any merit in any music she has come up with over them past few years. It seems she only does music so she can showcase her videos. Seems she would just quit music if she was no longer able to make promotional videos. She's gone from cutting edge to just cooky.

Jay-Z is gaining kudos but I have really been feeling his stuff. Maybe just '30 Something' and 'Roc Boyz'. He seems to be dialling it in these days. Maybe Beyonce is infecting him with the pop bug. Too much airy stuff.

I have been loving some of what Ghostface Killah's been doing. He tells it like he feels it. And the stories are always a blast.

Really haven't got too much time for Lil Wayne's nursery rhyming. He's just doing what a lot of others did 10 years ago with the popular culture referencing.

Hip hop has not just gotten dull and uninspired it is increasingly becoming irrelevant. It doesn't speak to issues or have any substance. Its become devoid of heart and soul, what used to be its two major selling points. The current auteurs of the genre just don't have either the light comedic touch or the gravitas to speak to the issues of our times. Even the violence they are accused of is all so very contrived. They are barely worth a mention compared to the streets, TV, books or the big screen. Nowadays they cant wait to get off the street, are desperate to get on any screen and cant read.

Bonuses and Pensions

So all these fat cats stand to earn a nice fat payoff after having caused a global economic meltdown? Strange life we live. Even stranger world we live it in. These people got it wrong and then compounded the error by not recognising it.

Its like that horse's ass Cressida Dick saying no one was to blame for shooting Jean Charles Menezes nine times in the head. And then cockily saying she would do it all over again. You can see why bankers have no integrity. Even the scoiety's guardians are unreliable self serving sods.

Well all these bankers should be paid off in bank shares. Let them benefit from the value they supposedly built up.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

How Far?

Sometimes I sit and wonder exactly how far can or should one go to achieve ones desires. I mean we all have goals, and all goals take some application and effort. Hence the '99% perspiration and 1% inspiration' principle. But how fo you judeg the lengths you should go to make things happen?

At work, is it right to take a lot of crap in order to get ahead. Or get head in some cases. lol! Not that I know about that. How much longer at work is it right to stay on after closing hours? Work represents a vehicle for almost all our adult aspirations. But how much do we or should we value it? Should we be prepared to work all out in our youth and reap the rewards later in life?

In our love lives how far should we go to pursue the "love of our lives"? Should we be prepared to love to the detriment of all? Should we prepared to shed blood to hold on to what we think is ours. How much more should we have to spend? Is that extra minute we squeeze in on the phone real value for the love returns we get? How about the times we travel to the far reaches of the earth just to spend moments with the one we love, or the ones we want? Or the risks we take to have that romantic time out? Can we truly justify or quantify them?

In love we seek to capture our dreams in the hug of an embrace. So a perspective might be that no sacrifice is too great. After all a successful relationship is the platform from which our forefathers believed all else took off from. So we should put our all into the pursuit and capture of the perfect mate. Or should we?

A lot of people consider sex the ultimate physical fulfillment. Or maybe thats just guys. I'll certainly be happy to listen to different takes on that. It is known that some men equate their virilty with their worth as human beings. So how far should we take sex? Both as a source of fulfillment and as a statement of our manhood. Is it right to engage in practices which can be tragic and/or fatal? Is there a justification for the recreational use of drugs like viagra and cialis? Or are these practices just the measure of how much value we place on the things that mean the most to us?

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Not So Free Market

So far it seems that governments have pumped at least a trillion dollars into ailing economies globally. I was brought up to be believe that market forces should always be left to balance themselves out.

Its amazing how much money is now being used to prop up global stock markets. I would have thought is stock fell then that essentially should represent its true value. After all supply and demand is the king of market. Some of the measures being taken seem to be intended to inflate the value of stocks that clearly have lost all market confidence. So where does that leave the market forces?

The US Treasury has declared its intention to make $700b available to buy up so called toxic debts from banks. Apparrently this will enable banks to get back to inter bank profiteering. Its a measure of how panicked everyone is that even the Democrats weren't able to come up with a responsible solution. I recognose that the action taken appears to be a solution of sorts. I just dont believe its the best or most socially responsible one.

Buying up the debts seems questionable to me. Why not just make loans available with the debts collateral. The banks can then refinance subject to their performance and cooperation with recovery measures. This way the banks dont just take the money and hold on to it until they feel their books are balancing or start setting exploitative rates.