money

Who Watches the Watchers?

A story like this always gives me a chuckle…

The Russian Orthodox Church has apologised for showing a photo of its leader Patriarch Kirill that was doctored to airbrush out a luxury watch he was wearing.

The gold Breguet watch is estimated to be worth more than $30,000 (£19,000) and was spotted by Russian bloggers.

The watch’s reflection could be seen in the 2009 photo on the church’s website.

The Patriarchate said the manipulation would be investigated and “the guilty ones will be punished severely”.

In a statement the Patriarch’s press service said “we reject on principle any use of photo editing software to alter the appearance of images.”

So, they reject on principle the use of photo editing software. Going by the evidence of watches that cost 19 grand however, they also, like many other christian churches, appear to reject some of the things written in that book that they are always on about…

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least among you, you did not do for me.'”

-Matthew 25:41-45
“Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'”

-Matthew 19:21

Next Month

I very rarely take a stab at writing short stories but over the christmas period I listened to an interview with Neil Gaiman (who I have never ready anything by) and he said that at one time he had been challenged to write  a story with only 247 words. I thought this seemed like an interesting idea so I decided to do one with 248 (not including title) and give myself half an hour to do it. This is what I came up with if you don’t count two very minor changes…

 

NEXT MONTH

I always thought it was a strange place for a pawnbroker; right in the middle of one of the most expensive places in the city. This meant that either rich people were pawning things off or poorer people had to take the bus or, more probably, have a long walk to get there. That seemed a bit like adding insult to injury.
I’ve seen the first time you go described in story before and it’s true that the first time you have your dearest items examined and deliberately undervalued is unpleasant. But it isn’t anywhere near to the humiliation that comes over you when you go to pay your monthly and show the world, again, that you still don’t have enough money to reclaim what is actually yours.
Anyway, this time I went in through the doors and then into the little booth. I showed him my receipt, and gave him my 9 pounds for the month which he took via the little safety drawer. He didn’t say a single word to me. I started to put myself in his position and began to think how he must see desperation every day and have to be either hardnosed or just indifferent to it.
This was my fourth payment so I had paid 6 pounds more in monthlies than I’d initially got for pawning the thing in the first place.
I toyed with the idea of saying “See you next month”, but instead I just thought it and left.

FIFA, Pots & Kettles

Transparency International have cut their ties with FIFA. They are angry that FIFA have appointed on overseer who won’t implement some of their recommendations such as reexamining old scandals.

Sylvia Schenk, TI’s sports adviser, said Mr Pieth could not remain independent of Fifa if he was being paid by the organisation.

“We believe that someone paid by Fifa cannot be a member of the independent commission [overseeing reforms],” Ms Schenk told the Press Association Sport news agency.

“He has a contract with Fifa so he is not independent in that sense.”

FIFA has been getting accused of all sorts for quite a while now and Foul! The Secret World of FIFA: Bribes, Vote-Rigging And Scandals is a pretty devastating book and I would recommend it.

However, Transparency International has, as Greg Palast said, some questions to answer itself…

You should know this: Transparency International is itself a corrupted organization – a kind of bribery cartel. One of its big benefactors is Balfour Beatty construction – Britain’s ‘Halliburton’ – which has admitted to massive bribery.

Five years ago I reported how the former chairman of Transparency International’s backer, “announced with enormous pride that he personally had handed over the check to the government minister for the Pergau Dam bribe.” See, “War On Corruption? Not Quite, Minister,” The London Guardian, Sunday, July 9, 2000.

TI’s support comes from bribe payers who want to reduce their pay-outs — but not eliminate them or the edge they give over honest businesses.

Powerbase also say, although the link is dead, that…

Beth Aub was a co-founder of Transparency International and was the general secretary for TI’s Jamaica chapter. She resigned her membership of the ‘global anti-corruption body’ in 2004, alleging that TI tolerated corrupt practices such as “facilitation payments”, a term she described as another name for bribery and corruption.

They also provide a list of funders…

Anglo American | Bombardier | BP International Consolidated Contractors | EBRD | Fluor Corporation | Halcrow Group | Hilti Corporation | Hochtief | International Federation of Inspection Agencies | ISIS Equity Partners | KPMG | Motorola | Novo Nordisk | Obayashi Corporation | Pfizer | PricewaterhouseCoopers | Rio Tinto | SGS | SIKA | Skanska | SNC Lavalin | Deutsche Bank

The powerbase article on transparency international is here.

WHAT WILL IT REALLY COST?

There was a BBC report the other day saying this…

Climate target ‘could cost £8bn’

The cost to the taxpayer of meeting Scotland’s climate change target has been put at about £8bn by 2020.

Furthermore…

Scotland has set one of the world’s most ambitious targets for cutting emissions.

The Climate Change Act passed by Holyrood last year aims to reduce carbon emissions by 42% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.

But BBC Scotland business editor Douglas Fraser said there was no estimate of what the targets would cost the government – or business, home-owners or drivers – when MSPs voted for the legislation.

Ok, I suppose it is important information. We need more “Not doing something would destroy this, that and the other” or “Not doing something would mean this amount of carbon/global warming etc” kind of articles.

When it is all presented as the BBC story above presents it seems like they are measures designed to hurt people when the truth is that they are probably measures that fall way short of meeting the current crisis – even if they go further than other places.

I suppose the BBC would say however, that that kind of article costs too much.

MONEY IS THE CAUSE OF POVERTY

THE MONEY TRICK

If all the money in the world was divided out equally, it wouldn’t do any good! In six months’ time it would be all back in the same hands again.’

`Of course,’ said everybody.

`But he was saying the other day about money being no good at all!’ observed Easton. `Don’t you remember he said money was the principal cause of poverty?’

`So it is the principal cause of poverty,’ said Owen, who entered at that moment.

`Hooray!’ shouted Philpot, `The Professor has arrived and will now proceed to say a few remarks.’

As Owen, sat down in his usual place, Philpot rose solemnly to his feet, and, looking round the company, said: `Gentlemen, with your kind permission, as soon as the Professor has finished dinner he will deliver his well-known lecture, entitled,”Money the Principal Cause of being hard up”, proving money isn’t any good to anybody. Philpot resumed his seat amid cheers.

`Come on’ cried Philpot, putting his hand on Owen’s shoulder.`Prove that money is the cause of poverty.’

`It’s one thing to say it and another to prove it,’ sneered Crass.

`Money IS the real cause of poverty,’ said Owen. `Money is the cause of poverty because it is the device by which those who are too lazy to work are enabled to rob the workers of the fruits of their labours.’

`Prove it,’ said Crass.

`All right,’ he replied. `I’ll show you how the Great Money Trick is worked.’

Owen opened his dinner basket and took from it several slices of bread and placed them in a heap on a clean piece of paper, and, having borrowed the pocket knives they used to cut and eat their dinners with from Easton, Harlow and Philpot, he addressed them as follows:

`These pieces of bread represent the raw materials which exist naturally in and on the earth for the use of mankind; they were not made by any human being, but were created for the benefit and sustenance of all, the same as were the air and the light of the sun.

`Now,’ continued Owen, `I am a capitalist; or, rather, I represent the landlord and capitalist class. That is to say, all these raw materials belong to me. It does not matter for our present argument how I obtained possession of them, or whether I have any real right to them; the only thing that matters now is the admitted fact that all the raw materials which are necessary for the production of the necessaries of life are now the property of the Landlord andCapitalist class. I am that class: all these raw materials belong to me.’

`Good enough!’ agreed Philpot.

`Now you three represent the Working class: you have nothing – and for my part, although I have all these raw materials, they are of no use to me – what I need is the things that can be made out of these raw materials by Work: but as I am too lazy to work myself, I have invented the Money Trick to make you work FOR me. But first I must explain that I possess something else beside the raw materials. These three knives represent – all the machinery of production; the factories, tools, railways, and so forth, without which the necessaries of life cannot be produced in abundance. And these three coins’ – taking three from his pocket – `represent my Money Capital.’

`But before we go any further,’ said Owen, interrupting himself, `it is most important that you remember that I am not supposed to bemerely “a” capitalist. I represent the whole Capitalist Class. Youare not supposed to be just three workers – you represent the whole Working Class.’

`All right, all right,’ said Crass, impatiently.

Owen proceeded to cut up one of the slices of bread into a number of little square blocks. `These represent the things which are produced by labour, aided by machinery, from the raw materials. We will suppose that three of these blocks represent – a week’s work. We will suppose that a week’s work is worth – one pound: and we will suppose that each of these coins is a £1.

`Now this is the way the trick works -‘ Owen now addressed himself to the working classes as represented byPhilpot, Harlow and Easton.

`You say that you are all in need of employment, and as I am the kind-hearted capitalist class I am going to invest all my money in various industries, so as to give you Plenty of Work. I shall pay each of you one pound per week, and a week’s work is – you must each produce three of these square blocks. For doing this work you will each receive your wages; the money will be your own, to do as you like with, and the things you produce will of course be mine, to do as I like with. You will each take one of these machines and as soon as you have done a week’s work, you shall have your money.’

The Working Classes accordingly set to work, and the Capitalist class sat down and watched them. As soon as they had finished, they passed the nine little blocks to Owen, who placed them on a piece of paper by his side and paid the workers their wages.

`These blocks represent the necessaries of life. You can’t live without some of these things, but as they belong to me, you will haveto buy them from me: my price for these blocks is – one pound each.’

As the working classes were in need of the necessaries of life and as they could not eat, drink or wear the useless money, they were compelled to agree to the kind Capitalist’s terms. They each bought back and at once consumed one-third of the produce of their labour.The capitalist class also devoured two of the square blocks, and so the net result of the week’s work was that the kind capitalist had consumed two pounds worth of the things produced by the labour of the others, and reckoning the squares at their market value of one pound each, he had more than doubled his capital, for he still possessed the three pounds in money and in addition four pounds worth of goods. As for the working classes, Philpot, Harlow and Easton, having each consumed the pound’s worth of necessaries they had bought with their wages, they were again in precisely the same condition as when they started work – they had nothing.

This process was repeated several times: for each week’s work the producers were paid their wages. They kept on working and spending all their earnings. The kind-hearted capitalist consumed twice as much as any one of them and his pile of wealth continually increased. In a little while – reckoning the little squares at their market value of one pound each – he was worth about one hundred pounds, and the working classes were still in the same condition as when they began, and were still tearing into their work as if their lives depended upon it.

After a while the rest of the crowd began to laugh, and their merriment increased when the kind-hearted capitalist, just after having sold a pound’s worth of necessaries to each of his workers,suddenly took their tools – the Machinery of Production – the knives away from them, and informed them that as owing to Over Production all his store-houses were glutted with the necessaries of life, he had decided to close down the works.

`Well, what are we to do now?.’

‘That’s not my business,’ replied the kind-hearted capitalist. `I’ve paid you your wages, and provided you with Plenty of Work for a longtime past. I have no more work for you to do at present. Come round again in a few months’ time and I’ll see what I can do for you.’ `But what about the necessaries of life?’ demanded Harlow. `We must have something to eat.’ `Of course you must,’ replied the capitalist, affably; `and I shall be very pleased to sell you some.’ `But we haven’t got any money!’

`Well, you can’t expect me to give you my goods for nothing! You didn’t work for me for nothing, you know. I paid you for your work and you should have saved something: you should have been thrifty like me. Look how I have got on by being thrifty!’

The unemployed looked blankly at each other, but the rest of the crowd only laughed; and then the three unemployed began to abuse the kind-hearted Capitalist, demanding that he should give them some of the necessaries of life that he had piled up in his warehouses, or to be allowed to work and produce some more for their own needs; and even threatened to take some of the things by force if he did not comply with their demands. But the kind-hearted Capitalist told them not to be insolent, and spoke to them about honesty, and said if they were not careful he would have their faces battered in for them by the police, or if necessary he would call out the military and have them shot down like dogs, the same as he had done before at Featherstone and Belfast.

`Of course,’ continued the kind-hearted capitalist, `if it were not for foreign competition I should be able to sell these things that you have made, and then I should be able to give you Plenty of Work again:but until I have sold them to somebody or other, or until I have used them myself, you will have to remain idle.’

`Well, this takes the bloody biscuit, don’t it?’ said Harlow.

ABRIDGED AND ADAPTED FROM ‘THE RAGGED TROUSERED PHILANTHROPISTS’ By Robert Tressel (1911).

SCOTTISH BLOGGER IN BLOG-SUBSIDY APPEAL ROW

This is an appeal from a leeching Scot to all of you bloggers in the south of England.

You see, as the man about the house points out the Scots are constantly accused of taking money from the poor impoverished people of the south of England.

This is an easily disproved lie but it doesn’t stop the papers going on about it so.

The strange thing is that it is the people who complain about this that are also the ones in favour of keeping the union. The only answer to this is that they must like giving us money (even though they don’t and it is actually the other way round).

So from now on, in keeping with the narrative, I am demanding that you people from London and the south in general keep me supplied with ideas for things to blog about.

Furthermore, I expect you to pay me and keep me in the manner to which I am accustomed.

Get to it.

———————————————————————————————————————— 

This is from the Herald

Myth 1: Scots get more public cash than anyone else.
The Truth: Public spending in Scotland is just £9631 per head, lower than the £10,271 for Northern Ireland and London’s average of £9748.

Myth 2: English taxes pay for Scotland’s high spending.
The Truth: Scotland brings in £9593 per head in tax – more than anywhere in the UK outside of London.  Latest estimates show the tax take from Scotland is £49bn compared with total spending of £49.2bn …[1]

Myth 3: Scots milk the welfare state
The Truth: Latest figures show people living in North-East England claim on average £3284 per head.  Northern Ireland £3256 and £3136 in Wales in state benefits.  Scotland’s pension and benefit cost is £3086 per head.

Myth 4: Scots enjoy better public services than the rest of the UK
The Truth: The Welsh, not the Scots, get free prescriptions, while NHS waiting times in Scotland are broadly in line with England …

Myth 5: State subsidy pays for Scots “big ticket” projects
The Truth: London’s Crossrail project is to cost £16bn – seven and a half times the annual Scottish transport budget.  The 2012 London Olympics means a loss of £9.3bn lottery funding for the rest of the UK.

[1] This is accurate in one way but the figures are skewed to begin with as the oil that comes from Scottish waters is not included in the figures for Scotland.