Friday, 13 September 2013

A Handful of Thoughts

I'm in the process of editing down the manuscript for my book, 'Cycles' (it's still a working title, so any good ideas, don't be shy!), which agents and publishers alike are convinced is good as it stands, BUT, if it's longer than five hundred pages, consumer psychology plus printings costs dictate that you just won't buy it. As such, I'm chopping out thousands of words, to either be released in Cycles: Redux - 2019... or else spend the rest of eternity on a hard drive.

Am I procrastinating in this task? Perhaps... though only for a short while. These days I feel a bit caught, somewhere between wanting to write something fairly regularly, such as a blog, but really being more excited by the prospect of working on books and other larger projects... gathering my thoughts together in one place, rather than drip-feeding them out into the internet.

I suppose this post has been triggered by wanting to state a couple of things openly, four things that seem to have changed since 2009, either in my opinions or in the world around them.

1. I'm noticing that what I wrote back in 2009, about corporate purchase of the human spirit, and consumer experience pitched as substitute for real experience, often now strikes people as a really original piece of thinking on my part. Whilst I'm happy to hoover up the plaudits, I'm concerned that people (especially those younger than me) are thinking this is an innovative bit of thought rather than just a stating of the bloody obvious. It's worrying how completely a set of ideas can be largely removed from consciousness, where advertising and corporations become so entrenched and accepted in popular culture.

2. I used to think, as a teenager, that there was nothing more unspeakably evil than arms manufacturers and imperialism. For most of my twenties, these ideas receded in importance to me, I was almost ashamed of how earnestly I'd held those views, and I thought more about political economy, the ideas of false scarcity, of corporate control and financialisation. Now while all those things remain as important as they were, I've nevertheless realised how right I was as a teenager: there is nothing more unspeakably evil than arms manufacturers and imperialism.

3. Banks are worse than oil companies. Oil companies do downright evil things, and are by no means good for the world, but they provide a product we humans seem to be reliant on. Banks might have a smaller carbon footprint, but they officiate over the bondage of all mankind, and look after (and magnify) the wealth of oil companies to boot. It seems a raw deal that FreeTate protesters target BP whilst saying nothing about endorsement from the likes of Morgan Stanley.

4. On the subject of tax I have quite a bit to say, but I'll say it quick, and note it here having undertaken This is not for Charity in conjunction with the (still excellent) Tax Justice Network. The biggest problem in our taxation system is not tax evasion but the way tax is spent. The biggest boon in the war chest of tax evasion was, without doubt, the Iraq War... I've heard both rich people with bank accounts in Jersey, and bohemians living in yurts use this high in their list of justifications for avoiding tax. There's also the anomaly of people earning minimum wage, working 40 hour weeks that leave them above the minimum tax threshold, thereby incurring tax that leaves them taking home - that's right - less than minimum wage. As a final thought, the diligent paying of taxes cannot take place while the industry of accountancy exists, the two are incompatible, because an accountant is not doing their job unless they are minimising the amount that is paid in tax. The best cure for tax evasion are taxes being spent visibly on things people believe are socially valuable, thereby making taxation something positive and empowering rather than negative. I fear that Kickstarter is probably closer to the right track than HMRC in achieving this. I could write a small treatise on tax and how it needs to change... but that would perhaps be boring.

Thanks for humouring me.

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