Tuesday, September 27, 2011

from the horse's mouth


This is the most blatant exhibition of corporate sociopathy I have ever seen.

I have transcribed the words of the participants so as to really hammer home the message to anyone who might develop temporary deafness when confronted by the brutal truth of this man's words.

Trader: [The euro?] is gonna crash and its gonna fall pretty hard. Because markets are ruled right now by fear. Investors, the big money, the smart money. I'm talking about the big funds, the hedge funds, the institutions. They don't buy this plan. They basically know the market is toast. They know the stock market is finished. The euro, as far as they're concerned, is finished. They're moving their money away to safer assets, like treasury bonds, 30 yr bonds and the US dollar. So its not going to work.

Presenter: We keep hearing that whatever the politicians are suggesting, and admittedly its all been rather woolly so far, isn't right. Can you pin down exactly what would keep investors happy and make them feel more confident.

Trader: That's a tough one. Personally, it doesn't matter. You see I'm a trader. I don’t really care about that kind of stuff. If I see an opportunity to make money, I go with that. So, for most traders its not about...we don't really care that much how they're going to fix the economy, how they're going to fix the whole situation. Our job is to make money from it. And, personally, I've been dreaming of this moment for 3 yrs. I have a confession, which is: I go to bed every night, I dream of another recession. I dream of another moment like this. Why? Because, people don’t seem to maybe remember, the 30s depression, the depression in the 1930s wasn't just about a market crash. There were some people who were prepared to make money from that crash. And I think anybody can do that. It isn't just for some people in the elite. Anybody can actually make money . . . its an opportunity. When the market crashes… When the euro and the big stock markets crash, if you know what to do, if you have the right plan set up, you can make a lot of money from this. For example, Hedging strategies is one, then investing in bonds, treasury bonds, that sort of stuff.

Presenter: If you could see the people around me, people's jaws have collectively dropped at what you've just said. We appreciate your candour but it doesn't help the rest of us. or the rest of the eurozone.

Trader: I would say this. Listen. I would say this to everyone who's watching this: This economic crisis is like a cancer. If you just wait and wait, thinking this is going to go away, just like a cancer its going to grow and its gonna be too late. What I would to say to everybody is: Get prepared. Its not the time right now to . . wishful thinking, that the government is gonna sort things out. The government doesn't rule the world. Goldman Sachs rules the world. Goldman Sachs does not care about this rescue package, neither does the big funds. So, actually ... I would actually tell people, I want to help people. People can make money from this, its not just traders. What they need to do is learn how to make money from a downward market. The first thing people should do is to protect their assets. Protect what they have, because in less than 12 months, my prediction is that millions of people's savings are going to vanish. And this is just the beginning. So, I would say: be prepared and act now. The biggest risk people can take right now is not acting.

This is it, people. If you ever had any doubts about whether the people and institutions this appalling character refers to are actually benign wealth-creators or unabashed, sociopathic parasites, there's your answer. They. Don't. Care. About. Us.

Its time they were stopped: Nationalise the banks. Move to quash speculation. Close the tax loopholes.


Looks like John B is right in the comments. This guy isn't a trader. He's not even authorised by the FSA. In his own words, he's "an attention seeker". 

I saw someone on Twitter musing whether he was, in fact, a member of activist group The Yes Men. At the time I thought, 'nah'. In fact, he is a hoaxer, just not a very good one. Which is a real shame. The reason I got so excited about this video was that its rare for the public facade of financiers to crack, for them to admit to the fundamentally sociopathic nature of what they do. This lie is so robustly defended by the media and the government that it is currently pervasive. Most of the population aren't aware that one of the biggest industries in this country is fundamentally hostile to the state and to the 'poor' (meaning anyone on less than £200,000). General dissatisfaction with "bankers" resulting from the fuckyounomic implosion threatened to bring this truth to light but, despite the valient efforts of activists and campaigning journalists, it remains obscured by a general air of approval emanating from the media and the government that is all it takes these days to conceal enormous crimes. I'm talking the astonishing public herd mentality that "if no-one's acting against it, it must be fine". For example, read the business page of any newspaper and marvel at the absence of critical, joined-up thinking.

NB: Please don't refer to the Vicker's Report as if it is evidence of the government "doing something", its a pathetic fig-leaf-gesture to reform. 

Thursday, September 08, 2011

on turnout and the franchise


Whilst penning the previous post to this I looked up some numbers on the number of UK residents eligible to vote. We all know voter turnout is alarmingly low: 65% last election and 62% the one before. However, those numbers only represent those registered to vote. There remains a multitude of people in the UK who aren't even registered. I can't find data on the ONS site for number of eligible voters so I wanted to work it out.  Here's some data on the age distribution of the UK population that I found on the ONS website. 
  • In 2010 there were 50,654,000 people in the UK over the age of 16. 
  • 29,691,780 votes cast in the 2010 election. Dividing this figure by 0.65 (the turnout) gives the registered electorate: 45,679,661. 

There is a ~5,000,000 person disparity between these two figures. Of course, not all of those people are eligible to vote as they may be foreign citizens, in prison, mentally incapable, etc. Some prisoners can now vote but if even half of the ~95,000 prisoners in the UK do so that's only ~1% of the missing voters. Can anyone else suggest an identity for the rest of these 5 million voters?

The fucking Tories polled ~11 million votes in 2010. 15 million voters didn't bother or didn't manage to. Another 5 million eligible people weren't even registered to do so. When the proportion of functionally disenfranchised voters approaches 50% (41% in 2010 according to the numbers presented here) you would like to think that a society as conflicted as the UK would start to ask pretty hard questions about the legitimacy of the government. Of course this is barely a footnote in the greater list of glaring inconsistencies in the ConDem coalition government's journey to power but I will not embark upon an opening of that can of worms tonight. I'd just like to remind readers of some of the reasons that I advocate compulsory voting.

the punkscience electoral system


I had an epiphany whilst reading this tweet from @Cunthorse. The idea behind voteforpolicies.org.uk is to help people identify the political party that best fits their political ideology. Thinking about this I realised that the same system can be used to eradicate the insidious distraction of identity politics. If people's votes were registered through a similar polling process, with questions selected to differentiate between the different parties' manifesto commitments then I can foresee three advantages over the current system:
  1. People are forced to consider the issues and cannot be distracted by personality/identity politics and scandal/emotional exploitation. This is a biggie. The insidious, antidemocratic effects of the political PR and propaganda machine would be neutralised. 
  2. Becoming engaged with the issues, instead of identities would encourage the electorate to seek accountability from politicians and parties. Manifestos could become so much more than the tawdry wishlists they currently are. People surprised to find their votes being cast for minority parties would be encouraged to follow-up this revelatory experience by looking  for the reasons why. 
  3. Any confusion associated with electoral systems that rely upon ranking of political parties would be avoided. (A minor issue but still relevant).
The insidious effects of identity politics would be permanently laid to rest if people weren't even made aware of to whom their vote had been allocated. Of course oversight of such a system would require considerably more effort from political parties and the Electoral Commission but when the health of society is at stake I think this isn't a price to quibble over. It would also demand more involvement from the electorate than the simple box-ticking paradigm that currently prevails. However, seeing how dysfunctional and undemocratic the current system has become  I see this as yet another advantage.


It may come as no surprise to both my regular readers that the results showcased on the front page of voteforpolicies.org.uk give the 2010 election to the Green Party of England and Wales, of whom I am a member.

As Johann has written, "Britain is a country with a large liberal-left majority". Our pseudo-democratic political system doesn't represent it. If you want a real say in how your country is run it must be changed. 

Thursday, September 01, 2011

on being a scientist


This is absolutely my favourite quote from The Guide:

"I'm a scientist and I know what constitutes proof. But the reason I call myself by my childhood name is to remind myself that a scientist must also be absolutely like a child. If he sees a thing, he must say that he sees it, whether it was what he though he was going to see or not. See first, think later, then test. But always see first. Otherwise you will only see what you were expecting. Most scientists forget that. ... So the other reason I call myself Wonko The Sane is so that people will think I'm a fool. That allows me to say what I see when I see it. You can't possibly be a scientist if you mind people thinking you're a fool."
-- Wonko The Sane