|“Fred the Shred”’s nae langer Sir
He’s bin strippit o his title
Noo jist a plain ex bunker
Wi views nae langer vital
Reduced eence mair ti the rank
O a mannie in the street
Bit still he his mair millions
Than fowk ye’ll likely meet
Wull the chiel be maist pit oot
Nae langer bein ca’ed Sir ?
Is stem cumin oot his luggies?
Is oor Fred in a bit o a birr
Forced ti chynge his letterheids
Titled stationery wull disappear
An cardies sayin he’s a Sir
Wull be chuckit on the fleer
|Noo spare a thocht fer Fred
There’s lots mair o his creed
Titled gadgies linin their pooches
Wi the proceeds o great greed
Anither Goodwin we aa ken
A bank – bit een o sand
As notorious as oor Fred
Fer “shipwreckin” oot o hand
The puir mannie’ll hae ti learn
An iss he micht weel dread
Fin ask’t fit his name is
He’ll hae ti say “jist Fred”
©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2012
Image © Alexandr Denisenko | Dreamstime.com
Jonathan Hamilton Russell discusses what he feels are the problems facing society today and how we could potentially solve them.
The culture and economics of greed and reckless speculation linked to ever increasing debt has left the world economy on the brink of collapse. It is the vulnerable elderly, those with various disabilities and the young that are the most affected.
We have seen across the world an increasing gap between rich and poor and large numbers of young people being unemployed or at best taking work not linked to their training.
Yet the solutions to our problems have included little in relation to redistribution of wealth.
The poor if given more money are much more likely to spend than the rich and this in itself would help in getting us out of recession. The rich have gained from the good times and as such they should also take the responsibility and pay their debt to society now we are in crisis. To this affect there needs to be increased taxes at the top and tightening up of legal and illegal tax loop holes.
John Kenneth Galbraith possibly the most famous and respected Economist of all time talking about the 1930’s recession mentioned two main factors that caused the 30’s crash - increasing disparities of wealth, and lack of Economic intelligence.
More recently Steve Keen an Australian Economics Professor who predicted the present world financial collapse has identified the main reason for the collapse in the 30’s and now, as high levels of debt.
These debts are much worse now than in the 1930’s.
He thinks the financial bailouts will make the situation worse as we will have even more debt to pay off leading to a spiral of decline and to the potential collapse in the world economy.
Yet the solution so far has been to throw more money at bad debt rather than investing in public infrastructure and future employment as was done in the 30’s. As part of this we also need to be investing in green technologies and insulation of houses to help reduce the increasing costs of energy, which again affect mostly those at the bottom end of society. This in turn would create more employment.
More power to those protesting outside Wall Street but also spreading to other cities in the United States and across the world including Glasgow, Edinburgh and London.
GAMBLING DEBT © Dana Bartekoske Heinemann | Dreamstime.com
CHEAP HOUSE © Franz Pfluegl | Dreamstime.com
Voice’s David Innes’ benchmark indicator of biographical literature quality is more or less, “Would I have a pint with this guy?” It was with some interest and not a little thirst that he approached the latest revelations from inside government, written by the man who achieved heady high office as President of the University of Aberdeen’s Student Representative Council in the mid-1970s and then went on to reputedly greater things.
Tabloid is a newspaper shape, although the term is now universally used to describe populist low-rent journalism. Not here at Voice where your screen size delineates layout and low-rent isn’t our way.
Tabloids’ views on Back From The Brink have been almost prurient in their seizing on the Darling-Brown relationship as their focus for summarising the book’s content and offering review.
Whilst this is interesting, and is probably welcome relief from the views of Debbie from Doncaster, 22, 38-22-36, on monetary policy within the Eurozone and its effect on Greek public expenditure, far more interesting is Darling’s take on the events and decisions forced upon him during his tenure in No 11, as the economic crisis of 2007 threatened to destroy global financial systems.
The former Chancellor’s view is that the Financial Services Authority (FSA) failed due to its never having had to deal with a financial crisis, as the regulatory system had only ever had to operate in good times.
When the chill economic breeze blew over the North Atlantic and the unregulated mortgage free-for-all was found not only to have been the preserve of US financial institutions, the UK banking system clammed up, investors panicked and the reliance on UK financial service companies for 25% of UK tax revenue was shown up for the short-term folly that it was. Not before those responsible had lined their own pockets, of course.
As banks pleaded poverty and our mortgages and pensions were put at risk, these self-same bankers, previously vocal in their demands to be left alone, free from governmental intervention, queued up at the Treasury door, looking for a bail-out, courtesy of Mr and Mrs Joseph Soap of Gullible-At-Sea, also demanding that the “toxic assets” (those’ll be debts which will never be paid, then) be taken on by taxpayers whilst the banks continued to rake off the top line from profit-making accounts.
It is to his credit that the Chancellor extracted significant pounds of flesh from these banks in charges for the liquidity handout they received.
Here’s a very interesting fact to ponder next time you’re trying to have a cheque cleared through our banking system, where processes move at the pace of traffic in King Street on a rainy Thursday night, the week before Christmas – $6bn was reputedly taken from the UK Lehman Brothers’ UK operation on a Friday evening so that it could be in the US operation’s empty coffers on the Monday morning. As the author observes, this
“demonstrates…how quickly money can be moved from one jurisdiction to another”.
Of course, when it suits the usurers.
It is to Darling’s credit that much of the technical content is made easy to understand, even to economic illiterates like your reviewer. He is also very clear on timescales, forensically-sharp on the decision-making processes and pays suitable tribute to a Treasury team worked to exhaustion putting measures in place to prevent meltdown.
He stints neither from taking credit for saving the banking sector – and by definition everything else in the economy – from collapse, nor shies away from admitting where errors were made.
Among those errors was the Prime Minister’s approach to the 2010 General Election. His “Tory cuts v Labour investment” was a line easily seen through, a false promise which the electorate didn’t buy. Darling’s view, over-ruled, was that voters could be persuaded that whilst cuts were to be made, they would accept that they did not need to be made to the degree and on the timescale gleefully endorsed and seized upon zealously by public sector-despising Tories and their Lib Dem patsies.
As sometimes sweet relief from the incessant round of IMF, G7 and G20 meetings, Spending Review speeches, Budget statements and Treasury late-night sessions, Darling writes affectionately about his family, the social and charitable aspect of life in No 11 and of his bolt hole in the Hebrides. He comes across as mild-mannered, thoughtful, loyal and reliable. He describes himself as “managerial”. That’s a fair self-assessment.
Of course, this insider account is one-sided, although credible. It will be interesting as others’ takes on the financial crisis are published and comparisons can be made.
So, would I have a pint with the former Chancellor? Yes, without a doubt, if only to point out that “the late Tommy Docherty” referred to on page 119, is very much alive.
Your round Alistair, just don’t put it on expenses.
Back From The brink. 1000 Days at No. 11
ISBN 9 780 85789 279 9
Voice’s Old Susannah casts her eye over recent events, stories, and terms and phrases familiar as well as freshly ‘spun’, which will be forever etched in the consciousness of the people of Aberdeen and the Northeast.
Summer in Aberdeen. Lighting the barbeque (rain permitting) then standing around it (to warm your hands up) while someone inevitably insists on taking over the cooking, ensuring you get a burger burnt on the outside yet still frozen inside.
Old Susannah is off for a spray-tan tomorrow so she’ll be bright orange (or maybe not) for the season’s most important event – the Friends of Union Terrace Gardens picnic. My picnic basket has been dusted off, a few brewdogs put in the deep freeze, and raingear laid out (just in case) for the big day Saturday.
If you think the City’s economic future doesn’t depend on putting a carpark where the verdant remnant of the Denburn Valley is, then I will see you there Saturday.
Old Susannah was at the RGU students’ fashion show last Thursday as a guest of one of the lecturers; the designs on show were impressively creative and individualistic. It was a professional, enjoyable show, but I hope they do better on the drink front next time. I guess it is possible to have clothing that’s not been sewn in the third world by children in sweatshops after all.
The mini bottle of unchilled white wine however was not to my group’s taste, and we made a break for it to Cafe 52 for some cold beer and wine. Since then, I’ve had a wee bit of my time taken up looking into the deer cull. It’s not too late (I hope) to stop this madness.
But now it’s time for a definition or two.
Mathematics: (noun) classical discipline encompassing algebra, geometry, trigonometry; numeracy.
Maths was never my strongpoint. I still haven’t figured out how we can guarantee our economic future by getting a TIF loan for £100 million or more while being £50 million in debt to get rid of Union Terrace Gardens.
Thankfully, that’s what ACSEF and the Council tell me will happen, and I’m quite prepared to take their word for it. I’m not even smart enough to figure out how a Stadium at Loirston Loch for 21,000 people can work on 1400 parking places (or how the stadium’s plan to have 80 buses reach Loirston from College Street in 15 minutes flat is feasible. I personally can’t get a bus from Torry to Nigg when it’s busy that takes less than half an hour. Obviously I’m doing something wrong.).
I’m working on my math skills in the hopes I too can see how black and white our city’s thinking must be.
I guess I also have to work on the mathematics behind the Haudagain Roundabout situation and the proposed Paper mill housing development. It is good to know that Aberdeen is the best in the UK at something – and it’s official: we are the best at roundabout traffic jams. I’d always thought traffic moved just a wee bit slowly in the part of town as people stopped to admire the lovely roundabout itself. However, as ever: the City has a plan.
And here is the mathematical sense behind it:
Take: 1 x congested roundabout
Subtract: 100 nearby Middlefield houses to be bulldozed
Add: 900 private dwellings (builder: one Mr S Milne) near congested roundabout
Add: shops, offices, a medical centre, business units and riverside bistro (builder: Mr Milne)
Equals = minimal impact on roundabout traffic.
That’s right. There will be minimal impact on the roundabout per our Council.
Personally I would have thought that the massive number of people trying to get a table at the riverside bistro alone would have led to traffic standstill; I hope to have an invitation to the opening night. The medical centre makes a nice addition to any housing scheme of this size; it is the Vaseline that lets these great housing plans slide through planning departments. It will be an extremely useful medical centre, as all of the people stuck on the roundabout will need treatment for C02 inhalation and dehydration.
My other mathematical ignorance concerns the Tullos Hill deer:
Take: 30 deer (Council’s estimate) which normally live 5-7 years
Subtract: (I mean ‘kill’ – sorry, I mean ‘cull’) 9 male deer this year
Balance: 21 deer
Plant: 40,000 trees
Number of trees left for each deer to eat = 1,904
Old Susannah can eat and drink with the best of them, but had no idea how hungry these tiny little deer must be: 1,904 trees is a fair amount per deer. If each deer ate only 5% of this figure, that’s still 95.2 saplings for each deer (of the remaining herd after we’ve ‘managed’ 9 males as the City wishes). It is a complete mystery to me how these hungry critters manage to survive on Tullos at all given the lack of trees. Alas, I have no degree in forestry, so it looks like I must take the experts’ advice: deer are dangerous vermin which if left unchecked will eat.
Not in Crisis: (mod English phrase) – phrase used to reassure others that a given situation is under control or no cause for concern.
If you follow football (a game somewhat similar to what they do at Pittodrie), then you will know that FIFA is ‘not in crisis’. For you or me allegations of corruption, vote-rigging, bribery and dishonesty might spell a bit of trouble. For the Federation Internationale de Football Associations, such issues can be shrugged off. It is because of FIFA’s high moral stance that footballers the world ‘round behave with such dignity, ethics and honesty.
Behind every great organisation there is a great man.
Milne Homes has Stewart; the Wood Group PSN has Sir Ian, and FIFA has President Blatter. Mr Blatter is so very popular that no one ran against him in the latest FIFA presidential election. Or something like that. I guess the question is does a mere £100 million ‘inducement’ really amount to a bribe? I think not. FIFA does have a ‘Standards Statute’, which is a modern fiction classic. It reads in part:
“The Standard Statues contain all the provisions that are intrinsic to any constitutive texts worthy of such description. We are therefore calling upon the Associations to examine these statutes meticulously and incorporate all of the articles and principles covered into their own statutes – for their own benefit and for the Good of the Game” – Joseph S Blatter
I love a good read, and gave the Statues a once-over. However, I did not find the proper etiquette for accepting brown envelopes filled with money. Perhaps someone here in Aberdeen can help with that. In any event, it is hoped that all the world’s football associations will soon behave as Mr Blatter wishes. Heaven forbid anything happens to put the beautiful game into disrepute.
Last Christmas I put in a serious note about the holidays not having to be the beautiful family and friend-filled affairs that the TV commercials present.
Not everyone had 20 friends round their tree drinking eggnog before a horse-drawn sleigh ride. Summer is rather the same. The media tells you that you must look fantastic in your bathing suit (if it ever gets warm enough to put it on). You must play volleyball on a sandy sunny beach and drink orange soda the same colour as your skin.
Don’t for a moment assume that everyone will be having tropical holidays and drinking cocktails from coconut shells under palm trees. The economy is not great (despite the best efforts of ACSEF and ACC). You might have your worries. Take a ‘staycation’. Visit Scotland. Visit Tullos Hill for that matter.
But don’t let some false media advertising imagery fool you. And if you are like many people struggling with one thing and another, remember: at least you’re not Ryan Giggs.
By Suzanne Kelly.
Mark Edwards – internationally known photographer, writer and witness to 40 years of global problems was there to deliver his ‘Hard Rain’ lecture and still photography presentation.
By the time he had finished it was clear that each person present had taken away food for thought on a host of global issues, however much or little they had known before they arrived.
Mark made a brief introduction explaining the Hard Rain Project’s genesis. At the time of the first moonwalk in 1969, Mark was traveling in the Sahara desert’s unforgiving landscape, got lost, and was subsequently rescued by a nomadic tribe. They offered him food, shelter and a fire to sit by, and then they produced a radio. Bob Dylan’s ‘A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall’ came out of it; a track inspired by the Bay of Pigs Cuban Missile Crisis.
Edwards considered his personal situation, the simple nomadic lifestyle, and the moonwalk and out of these events grew his idea of illustrating each line of this moving, evocative song. Some 40 years on, the Hard Rain project was touring the world. It features still photography taken from all quarters of our world, and illustrates the issues, which we have to face urgently. Edwards took his Aberdeen audience:
“…on a journey through the past to a future which is ours to change.”
The photographs are as beautiful and as diverse a collection as you could possibly imagine – Edwards has captured virtually all aspects of humanity and of the earth. These photographs and Mark both bear witness to the increasingly urgent issues we must solve now: famine, destruction of habitats, human suffering, war, climate change, waste, disrespect and misuse of people, animals and the planet. The things Mark has seen in his travels have not led him to despair; he retains faith in human initiative and human spirit, which he sees in the shantytown inhabitants’ resourcefulness.
As to the photographs: there is a bulldozer in the Amazon cutting a scar through the lush jungle; there is a sea of ghostly, dead tree stumps in an arid wasteland; there are dead and dying women and children from around the world. I am haunted by a photo of an oil-covered bird taken in Brazil, which is accompanied by the line from Hard Rain ‘I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans’.
This photo presumably was taken years ago, but it could have been the recent Gulf of Mexico oil disaster. (You have to ask yourself why one oil disaster was not enough to ensure we never let it happen again).
But I am most haunted by (as were several of the students I spoke to including Deepu Augustine and Rita Lwanga) of a poignant image of a newborn baby lying on its side, small hands and feet visible, wrapped in a hooded garment, dead. It was lying in a shallow, womb-like grave about to be buried. The number of children who starve to death is legion.
As Mark says when addressing all the various issues:
“Perhaps our greatest mistake is taking our easy lifestyles for granted.”
Edwards explains that “we broke the first law of nature” – for instance how the death of a leaf and its natural decomposition create fertile soil on which new life will grow. The problem is that we have created a host of chemicals, which do not break down. He does not bombard us with numbers and statistics, but those he does use are unforgettable. In discussing our chemical dependence and proliferation of chemicals throughout the food chain globally, he says that any pregnant woman anywhere in the world today will have somewhere between 8 to 17 kinds of pesticides in the placenta.
Mark describes himself as a witness; he does not have all the answers. But he will tell you that we urgently need to increase education around the world, end child labour (which is nothing short of slavery: buyers of cheap imported goods and clothing please do take note), pay fair prices for crops, encourage family planning, and end extreme poverty. Another statistic he has hit us with: the GDP of the world’s 48 poorest countries is equal to the wealth of the world’s three richest people.
A series of photos taken in Haiti show the human impulse to slip away from rational thinking and regress to superstition (a ‘voodoo’ ceremony to pray for long-overdue rain is depicted), and later work shows a flock of brightly-clad Haitian school children. Edwards then makes interesting comparisons between the 1930s American Dustbowl draught and Ethiopia’s similar situation today. He compares Industrial age London’s shantytowns to today’s third world shantytowns, they both were born of similar circumstances and had similar problems and potentials.
“The past is not over and the future has happened many times”
- or put another way – those who do not know the lessons of the past are doomed to repeat its mistakes and tragedies.
His bleak, depressing photos of urban sprawl were based in Mexico City; but if we are not careful the same thing can easily happen in Aberdeenshire on a smaller scale.
The difference in the quantity of goods the Americans have is staggering and it does not make them any happier
We are, after all, getting rid of acre upon acre of (supposedly protected) green belt land to build hundreds of identikit houses, a 21,000 seat stadium where we currently have important wildlife and rare plants, and a car park/mall is planned for our only city centre green sink and beauty spot – Union Terrace Gardens.
Rather than increasing public transport, we plan to cut a highway through our countryside with the AWPR. And we are going to shoot (sorry, cull) the Tullos Hill Roe Deer, as our elected officials have deemed that building fences or protecting saplings with plastic are more expensive options). Mark makes a remark that some politicians are:
“…defending political positions they know are no longer appropriate…”
I think I do not need to look any further than Aberdeen City Council for an example of Mark’s assertion. I get the feeling that 99% of Edward’s audience is receptive and probably actively concerned for our environment – I find myself wishing we could get the local Council to see ‘Hard Rain’.
Edwards shows us a family in Bhutan; they are outside their home and have all of their, not very many, possessions spread around them. Next we switch to an American family of four – again in front of their home with all of their goods. The difference in the quantity of goods the Americans have is staggering and it does not make them any happier: Bhutan is, in fact, the country with the highest percentage of happy and satisfied people on earth.
Edward’s talk is part of the Aberdeen University Students’ Association Climate Change Projects.
Jamie Peters is the Climate Change Project Co-ordinator and he advised me that the Climate Change project has been packed full of events this past week including; tree planting, cookery demonstrations, gardening, meetings and discussions. Reusable bottles and bags were distributed as well as bookmarks with tips on energy saving and recycling. The Climate Change Project at Aberdeen University:
“aims to improve life around the campus, provide something fun for students to get involved in and at the same time save 1,000 tonnes of CO2.”
Fraser Lovie, a policy adviser at the University, congratulated the Climate Change Project for bringing Mark Edwards and his exhibition to Aberdeen and welcomed Mark’s hints that a new touring exhibition, based on Hard Rain, is in development, that will support the behavior change agenda in Universities and Colleges.
STOP PRESS: At the time of writing, it is uncertain whether funding will be found to keep the Climate Change Project going: I certainly hope they will continue their work.
After a glass or two of wine and a few words with Mark Edwards and others (he is affable and keen to talk), I made my way home. Another Bob Dylan song came into my head – ‘The Times They Are A Changing’;
“… if your time to you is worth saving, you’d better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone, for the times they are a changing’.”
Change has never happened faster in human history than it is happening now. But exactly what are we changing our world into?
Regent Walk is the scene of the Hard Rain Project outdoor exhibition, which accompanied this lecture; it will be up for a month. I urge you - go and see it.
SOME FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
Quotations from the Hard Rain Project Lecture
* “In the next 24 hours deforestation will outweigh the carbon footprint of 8 million people”
* “If forests are the lungs of the world, we have had one lung removed”
* “All humanity is in trouble; time is the enemy; indifference is the enemy”
* “We have Stone-Age impulses, Medieval beliefs, and God-like technology”
* “There is no ‘them and us’”
Q&A from the Hard Rain Website:
“Mark has been traveling and taking photographs in over 150 countries in the last 40 years. He first decided to illustrate the global environmental crisis in 1969, and Hard Rain really began to take shape as a live presentation in 2000. The DVD has been in development for about a year, since interest in the presentation has exploded.
“How many cities/countries has Hard Rain been seen in?
“The exhibition has been seen in over 50 cities, with a tour of India immediately following Copenhagen. The presentation, on which the DVD is based, has been seen in hundreds of venues on every continent.
“How has Dylan lent his support?
“Dylan and his label, Columbia Records, have been extremely supportive of Hard Rain right from its public launch as an exhibition at the Eden Project in 2006. They have also been very supportive of Hard Rain by allowing us to use the lyrics in the exhibitions.
“This year, the Royal Photographic Society recognized Mark Edwards and Bob Dylan by presenting them with the Terence Donovan Award for their achievement with the Hard Rain Project.”
By Patrick V Neville.
Amongst the flags and banners were images of the violence, which has left numerous people dead, and phrases such as -
“30 years of oppression is enough”
“We are all Egyptians today”
“We all need freedom and justice”
“British media: Stop calling a revolution a crisis” and
“No Mubarak any more”
Mubarak has stayed in power for 30 years against the wishes of the majority of the Egyptian population.
His regime has been described by many as corrupt and in the interest of maintaining power and money. This has been at the expense of the Egyptian people, who are extremely tired of the regime’s favouritism towards corporate entities, whether they are local or foreign.
This discontent arose from Egypt’s natural resources such as gas being sold abroad for less than the true value, jobs in Egypt moving to factories abroad and as a Mubarak cabinet member bought hazardous agricultural fertilizers from Israel without later charge, this names a few of the crimes committed by the Mubarak regime. Poverty in Egypt has also risen dramatically due to rising prices.
This type of leadership in combination with an ever-growing divide between the rich and poor was a time bomb waiting to go off.
I would like to say thank you to all the people in Aberdeen who attended the demonstration, which was held on St Nicholas Street, Aberdeen, for showing that we do not stand for exploitation of a nation’s people.