While the incumbent government continues its attempt to fly deprivation and misery under the radar of the Covid pandemic, comparisons with WW1 and WW2 have been bandied about. What a load of lazy flannel.
Let me tell you what happened during the dying embers of the dystopian end of WW2. Bretton Woods happened, that's what. All 44 of the "Allied" nations got together to plan to avoid the devastating financial collapses that had occurred during the 1918-39 interregnum.
They signed an agreement on the 22nd of July 1944, i.e. almost a year before the end of the war. The participants did not want the misery to continue and were prepared to do something about it. The guiding light was macroeconomist John Maynard Keynes, a particularly influential human being who sadly died less than 8 months after the war ended. He was thereby denied the pleasure of witnessing his vision in action.
And for those rich kids running the UK today who would label anyone to the left of Enoch Powell and Nigel Farage as Marxists or communists I'll remind you of this:
"His (JM Keynes's) radical idea that governments should spend money they don't have may have saved capitalism," according to Time magazine, which, in 1999, included Keynes among its "Most Important People of the Century". Time could hardly be accused of being an organ of socialism.
As far as the recovery plan is concerned, the 44 nations got together in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire before the end of the war. They co-signed an agreement to ensure that its aftermath could be ameliorated as soon as possible. Like all systems, Bretton Woods ran its course after 28 years but its legacy should not be ignored.
Especially when the alternative is that our economy is steered into penury for the less privileged by a gang of people so protected by enormous wealth that will cushion them from any of the draconian measures being proposed and implemented.
Reducing foreign aid in 2021 will only mean that resultant misery in recipient nations will increase the desperation to emigrate from the worst hit areas. Ironically, many of these people will perceive that the UK and USA have streets paved with gold, thereby increasing the "First World" desperation to repel boarders with abominations like the US/Mexico wall.
With tens of millions in one's back pocket, it is easy to weather a storm like the one our chancellor is forecasting. However, the majority of the British population will not be so lucky in a corrupt environment that is robbing the poor to pay the rich.
There is another way ...
The UK Government has tinkered around the edges of spending a teensy bit of extra money to keep the economy staggering along. It is clearly not enough if we are to mitigate the nightmare of the worst recession in 300 years. The money supply needs to be radically adjusted upwards and delivered appropriately to those who most need to spend it to jump start the economy. If you give a billionaire another billion, it will only end up boosting that person's personal wealth portfolio (with one or two philanthropic exceptions).
In the words of Mr Keynes, "Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking."
If we are to follow this logic, Mr Chancellor, please just stop trying to pin your incompetence on Covid-19. You need to follow Mr Keynes's advice that "the social object of skilled investment should be to defeat the dark forces of time and ignorance which envelope our future."
It is time to take the helm to ensure the transfer of today's hoardings to the building of tomorrow's sustainable future. If you are unable to assume this responsibility you must stand aside for someone who will accept the baton and do something with it.
And, if you think Bretton Woods died more than 40 years ago and JM Keynes more than 70, I'll leave you with some advice from Kristalina Geogieva, current MD of the International Monetary Fund:
"[we need to embrace] the values of cooperation and solidarity on which a sisterhood and brotherhood of humanity is built.
"Today we face a new Bretton Woods moment ... untold human desperation in the face of huge disruption and rising poverty for the first time in decades.
"Once again, we face two massive tasks: to fight the crisis today— and build a better tomorrow."
Her conclusion: "The best memorial we can build to those who have lost their lives in this crisis is, in the words of Keynes, “that bigger thing”— building a more sustainable and equitable world,"
Perhaps more to the point, who wants your personal data and what are they going to do with it? Are you sick of having to deal with the ACCEPT ALL COOKIES button every time you enter a web page?
You may ask what has precipitated this question? A few things, actually:
Brexit and GDPR
All Brexiteers love to blame the EU for everything they can pin on the Union. True, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy in the European Union and the European Economic Area. True, it can lead to irritation from time to time. Question, would you entrust your medical records to a data system run from Texas? If Trump wins this week? Will a trusted GDPR equivalent be put in place in time? Does the NHS Test and Trace system fill you with confidence that that will happen?
To be honest, if the UK National Health Service (NHS) retains its autonomy post-Brexit, I would be perfectly happy for my medical records to be available to trusted medical practitioners and accredited systems that have my health and wellbeing foremost. When seconds count and it's a matter of life and death why not have my records instantly to hand. If there be skeletons so be it. My life is more important. Anyway, surely legal protection is afforded against medics using my skeleton with gay abandon?
A few days ago, I received this text message from the NHS:
"Dear Mark Harrison,
"UK Blood Services are collecting plasma from people who have had a positive test for COVID-19. 28 days after recovery from COVID-19, you could save lives by donating plasma. For further information and to see if you can help others with COVID-19, please visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus and click the take part in research section."
OK, I was up for this. What's not to like about saving lives? They clearly "knew" I had tested positive.
I took the plunge. It was a deeper plunge than I expected.
Ten, YES 10, poorly worded screens later I received this message. This was information that was in my medical records. Why did they invite me to "save lives" if they already knew this?
The subject of a central record spine was up for debate about a decade ago and, at the time, split the medical profession.
Please suspend your disbelief, but data security is way more sophisticated than the proffered alternative, i.e. a filing cabinet in an office. If that, indeed even still exists? Just about every GP in the land is connected to the internet these days so the electronic way in is already installed but not uniformly controlled ... one might argue especially from #CronyVirus.
Why is ACCEPT ALL COOKIES the default? It needn't be
It is a particularly aggressive message and immediately arouses suspicion that cookies will be following your every move, mostly so that your personal data can be sold to the highest bidder.
At best this highest bidder will want to use the data to sell you stuff, which can be positive or negative, depending on one's own view. But let those individuals who wish to be told what to buy make that decision for themselves and leave the rest of us in peace.
At worst, there are way more sinister reasons people would want to pay good money for your data ranging from the dark web to subliminal political messages (Brexit raises its ugly head again, here.)
When I encounter this ACCEPT ALL COOKIES button I do one of two things. If I'm not that interested in the site content, I veer away, which is self defeating for the site. If I am interested, I then have to trawl through a whole process that is time wasting and makes me irritated.
Of course it is very easy for the #CronyVirus pedlars to pass the monkey to the EU for the button and its messaging but that is so disingenuous. It is up to the individual site as to the content of the message accompanying the button.
Here is an alternative (a few sites actually do this!): "We value your privacy and use only essential cookies, which we delete when you exit our site. If you would prefer a richer experience, please click on CHOOSE EXTRA COOKIES to make your choice."
Believe it or not, I would choose this option for preferred sites. The NHS for one.