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16 November 2002
According to a Channel 4 survey, 32% of Britons see George Bush as a greater threat to peace than Saddam Hussein. This kind of “wrong-thinking disrespect” of America’s leader has been criticised by Prime Minister Tony Blair, novelist Martin Amis, and various others. They say that it doesn’t help to portray Bush as a moron. And that we shouldn’t be spreading the following kind of joke:

When Dubya was just a youngster, he went to the chemist and asked the pharmacist, “Sir, can you tell me where the ribbed condoms are?”

The chemist replied, “Son, do you know what condoms are used for?”

“Sure do. They keep you from getting venereal diseases.”

The chemist was impressed. “That’s right, son. Do you know what the ribs are for?”

Dubya paused and then answered, “Well, not really, but they sure do make the hair on my goat’s back stand up.”

5 October 2002
We’ve launched a campaign to abolish the Nobel Peace Prize, and to replace it with a Nobel Prize for Minimising Collateral Damage Whilst Militarily Enforcing Peace.

The way it would work is that national leaders could be nominated for the new Nobel prize if their military campaigns (for peace) killed or maimed less than, say, 100,000 innocent civilians. (The exact number would be subject to negotiation by the Nobel panel, nominated world leaders and Mars, the god of war).

17 September 2002
Iraq has agreed to unconditional
weapons inspections, which seems to put “containment and deterrence” back onto the agenda. Containment and deterrence of the lunatics in the Pentagon, that is.

10 September 2002
Tony Blair’s logic goes as follows: “We can’t just do NOTHING, therefore we must use military action”. This is curiously similar to the logic of his welfare-to-work policy: “We can’t have people sitting at home doing NOTHING, therefore we must force people into low-paid shit-jobs”.

It’s a strange inability to see more than two options where thousands exist, and it seems to be a common mental defect among politicians. Perhaps it proves the argument that having your head up your RECTUM on a regular basis is more psychologically damaging than regular cannabis use?

28 August 2002
If President Coke and the Pentagon junta really desire war and environmental collapse, what media-friendly PR message can they put across next (after the failure of the “Evil Saddam” ruse). The answer is simple: the economy is at stake.

War and eco-disaster good for the economy? Sure, why not? There’s a perfectly logical economic rationale. Read any conventional economics textbook – you’ll see that the capitalist economic system is based on the idea of scarcity. In fact, without scarcity of resources, the fiercely competitive, dog-eat-dog capitalist approach would seem absurd. If there’s an abundance of resources for everyone, why be competitive?

We’re now approaching a post-scarcity era (with potentially enough to go around for everyone). That’s a threat to the status quo. For the current economic system to survive, we need to ensure the continuation of scarcity. War and environmental collapse are good ways to guarantee scarcity. It all makes sense, after all.

19 July 2002
Here’s what some US conservatives say about the current corporate scandals (Enron, etc):

“People shouldn’t take political advantage of it”

Strange. After all, the political system – like the market – runs on competition and self-interest. Which means that everyone should always take political advantage of everything. George W Bush, for example, magnificently took political advantage of September 11th. So, Mr Corporate Conservative, don’t knock political opportunism – great nations are built on it.

12th July 2002
According to today’s newspapers, the average person in Britain is burgled only once every 50 years. I’ve cancelled my ‘home contents’ insurance policy. (Guardian 12/7/2002)

5th July 2002
In their campaign to stamp out terror, the peace-loving nations have now bombed (killed) over 5,000 innocent civilians. Each time we bomb some more people, our politicians say:

“Nobody wants civilian casualties, but this is war, and, sadly, the innocent get hurt in war”.

Which, of course, is nothing like an arsonist saying:

“Nobody wants people burnt alive, but this is arson, and, sadly, people get burned when I torch buildings”.

Not that we’d compare politicians to arsonists. Arsonists sometimes take responsibility for their actions.

27th June 2002
Many Hollywood stars are enlightened. They get paid vast sums for work they love. But they are so free from ego and vanity that they think nothing of SHITTING their talents away on product endorsements. This is spiritual non-attachment in action. Non-attachment to the neocortex; non-attachment to the brainstem.

17th June 2002
Income inequality, the growing gap between the rich and poor, is acknowledged as fact by most people. The disagreement begins over how damaging it is. “Free market” fundamentalists argue that inequality is necessary to the healthy functioning of a market economy. Maybe they should pay more attention to the writings of their own hero – Adam Smith, the so-called godfather of capitalism. Smith argued that only under conditions of equality (not inequality) could a market function efficiently, and that the measure of a properly functioning market would be its tendency to create income equality (not inequality).

7th May 2002
We’re told that the UK economy is “successful”. Then the government says it will take 20 years to eradicate child poverty in the UK. Pardon me, but if the economy is really “successful”, we could eradicate poverty now, not in 20 years.

3rd May 2002
Technologically-advanced countries get wealthier and wealthier. But governments tell us there’s less and less money available to spend on public services.

Listening to governments whine: “Oh, there’s no money available to improve hospitals, education, transport...” etc, you’d think that technology was going backwards and that economic output was decreasing.

30th April 2002
The super-rich make vast sums exploiting microfluctuations in international currencies. If currency-market transactions were taxed (at a very low rate, eg 0.2%), it would generate billions of dollars per day – enough revenue to solve many of the urgent problems facing humanity. (Search on: “Tobin tax”).

Closing down offshore tax havens would also generate hundreds of billions of dollars. Why should the super-rich be allowed to avoid paying tax?

Meanwhile, the World Game Institute shows how most of humanity’s social and environmental problems could be solved using 30% of the world’s total annual military expenditures:

27th April 2002
Sent a letter to all the major UK newspapers. The Independent printed it yesterday (26/4/2002):

Dear Editor,
One reason for the popularity of the far right in France is public fear about crime. The British media should learn from this that exaggerating the crime problem doesn’t merely sell newspapers – it can have damaging repercussions for society too. When newspapers interpret an increase in cell phone theft as “crime spiralling out of control”, they play a dangerous game of scaremongering.

(For a list of newspaper email addresses, please see our Letters to Newspapers page.)

18th April 2002
Corporate tax avoidance costs Britain £85 billion a year, according to estimates in the Guardian (12/4/02). Many large companies are so clever at exploiting tax loopholes that they pay no tax at all.

Notice how compartmentalised news stories seem. Another story covered this week was “deteriorating public services”. As usual, two options were discussed: (a) better public services (paid for by a general tax increase) or, (b) lousy services (with no tax increase).

Since the above stories were kept in separate compartments, nobody said: “Hey, there’s a third option – if we close the tax loopholes exploited by the super-rich, we can have better public services without general tax increases”.

They can compartmentalise the news, but they can’t compartmentalise our brains.

7th April 2002
Most people have noticed that private enterprise doesn’t work as it should. News of corporations saved from financial disaster with public money inevitably leads to the question: “Isn’t private enterprise meant to stand on its own feet?”

In addition to publicly-funded bail-outs, most big companies benefit from technological advances/infrastructure funded by public money. They get most of it free. If they didn’t they’d never make a profit in a million years. Given that we, the public, funded technology, isn’t it time that we received the economic benefits – eg much shorter working hours.

24th March 2002
If the warmed-up corpse of Hitler was President of the US, and a lobotomised sheep was Prime Minister of the UK, I couldn’t be less optimistic than I am now.

On the other hand, there are more people on the planet working towards positive solutions for humanity than at any time in history. There are millions of individuals trying to balance constructive optimism with sociological realism, working behind the scenes, trying not to succumb to apocalyptic nihilism or small-minded political/social expediency. I see these people everywhere, except on TV, or in the newspapers, or inside political parties.

9th March 2002
A study by Reed shows that workers are being given fancy job titles instead of pay increases. Examples include:

• Technical Sanitation Assistant (toilet cleaner)
• Optical Illuminator Enhancer (window cleaner)
• Head of Verbal Communications (receptionist)
• Senior Corporate Events Manager (secretary)

Apparently, words like “Head”, “Chief” and “Senior” are being used to appeal to the vanity of workers (and to distract from the appallingly low pay).

28th February 2002
Last year I made a formal complaint to the Independent Television Commission (ITC) about the government’s Welfare Cheats TV advertisements. I claim these ads serve a political purpose (political TV ads are forbidden in the UK). If you haven’t seen the ads, you can download them:

The ITC has the power to withdraw ads from TV, so this is potentially a big embarrassment for the government (the ads cost at least 15 million of taxpayer money).

The ITC is still investigating. I will put all the details of my complaint on the website as soon as there is an outcome.

Incidentally, while I was researching the ITC’s Code of Advertising Standards, I noticed the following rules:
• “Advertisements must not without justifiable reason play on fear.”
• “No advertisement may exploit the superstitious.”

Hmm... to my mind that would disqualify 90% of TV ads.

11th February 2002
Reality mimicking satire?: George Bush and Tony Blair have been jointly nominated for the 2002 Nobel peace prize for their bombing of Afghanistan (which resulted in the death of at least 4,000 Afghan civilians). The nomination was made by a rightwing Norwegian politician. Downing Street responded with an embarrassed “no comment”. (Guardian, 5/2/2002)

3rd February 2002
Fifty church ministers are planning to live on the minimum wage for Lent, to highlight the problem of low pay. The Anglican bishops and other clergymen say they want to learn what it’s like to live in poverty. Hmmm... Lent lasts for just 40 days. If they’re serious, they should try it for at least two years, without any access to their savings accounts or stock dividends. Otherwise, it’s equivalent to a Conservative politician spending a week on welfare “to show that it’s no great hardship” (which once happened as a TV political stunt).

15th January 2002
During the Gulf war, UK authorities banned various TV content as “inappropriate” during a time of war. One item banned was an ad for Cadbury’s Caramel chocolate bars. This ad – a cartoon – showed marching soldier ants and a sexy, languorous female bunny-rabbit trying to tempt the soldier ants away from their regimented marching with the offer of Cadbury’s Caramel (and a sweet Marilyn Monroe persona). The catch-line was “Take it easy with Cadbury’s Caramel”.

Presumably the unstated message – “lazy sex & chocolate is better than marching to war” – was seen as undermining national security. A Ph.D thesis could probably be written about the various meanings of this ad, but you’d have to be paying very close attention to single it out, amongst all other TV output, as “inappropriate”. Who pays such close attention, and do they have a job description?

7th April 2001
Whenever I argue the case for a Guaranteed Income or shorter working hours, people tell me these things are unwelcome interferences in the "free market", and that work/income should be left to "market forces". But if I ask them to define "market force", they usually have difficulty. The point is we need new economic concepts. "Free market", "market forces", etc, are simplistic, obsolete clichés. Money is now completely divorced from any notion of "real wealth". Rich people get richer in the money markets by running computer programmes which transfer money so quickly that they can exploit microfluctuations in exchange rates. What kind of "market force" is that?