We hear a lot of sneers directed at the rich. Like “the 1 per cent,” “greedy” or “fat cats.” Today, I’ll ask: To what extent do the rich deserve these insults? Then, I’ll look at poverty, and ask: Why are so many people poor? And how might the problem of undeserved poverty be solved?
I was involved in a blog conversation recently on the subject of “fake news.” The Darn-Poor Rhymer (the part of my alter ego which likes to write very bad verse) was inspired to write this parody of Shakespeare’s “All the world’s a stage.” At first, I thought that what I had written was no more than a piece of fun; but it wasn’t long before I realized that there were some deeper truths in there too. So, I re-present it here for your enjoyment.
Is all the Net a fake?
Are all the so-called “experts” merely liars?
They have their tricks and clever arguments,
And one man in his time learns many arts.
His thoughts move in six stages. First, the newbie,
His gaze, his ear, his mind glued to the screen,
Believing all he’s told. And then the troll,
Crying “fake news,” and “bull,” and “balderdash,”
Annoying and insulting all in range,
Until no-one will listen. Then the follower,
Seeking for wisdom in the godless depths
Of someone else’s arcane religion,
While parroting its credos. Then the warrior,
Shouting his narrative at top of voice,
Augmenting it with copious references
To sources just as biased as himself,
Using his subtle tricks and clever ruses
To seek to sow the seeds of doubt and guilt,
And rarely giving ground to others’ views;
But never once considering the thought
That it might be him, not his opponent,
Who’s got it wrong. The fifth stage shifts
To the truth seeker, doing what he can
To find the facts, and piece together truths,
And spread these truths to those willing and able
To listen to them. Sixth comes the free man.
Able to govern self, to live and let live;
Free from all need for politics or laws,
Free from all wish for violence or aggression,
Free from desire to lie, insult or slur,
Reciprocating others’ tolerance,
And judging people, not by who they are,
But what they do. Way back in Shakespeare’s time
There was a seventh stage, of slow decline;
But as I look out, it’s a sunny day,
And so, I think, that’s all I have to say.
Power and money, money and power,
Which is stronger, money or power?
Money can give you a lifetime of honey,
But power allows you to steal others’ money.
Today, I’ll look at money, political power, and the relations between them.
Recently, someone gave me a link to a website www.tucson.com. It’s a newspaper. Wikipedia calls it “the major morning daily newspaper that serves Tucson and surrounding districts of southern Arizona in the United States.” Hardly a terrorist organization; so why should any reasonable government want to block people going to their website?
Yet when I follow that link, I get a message that says:
451: Unavailable due to legal reasons
We recognize you are attempting to access this website from a country belonging to the European Economic Area (EEA) including the EU which enforces the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and therefore access cannot be granted at this time. For any issues, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-695-4492.
Now I’m no admirer of the United Nations, but Article 19 of the Declaration of Human Rights says: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
A couple of questions from this (maybe) naïve observer:
(1) Is this not a clear breach of my (and their) human rights under Article 19?
(2) Why have EU directives and regulations like this not been rejected, or at the very least suspended, by the UK government since the Brexit vote?
June 2018 was a good month for those of us on the side of truth and common sense in environmental matters. In the Daily Telegraph, Charles Moore has written of the decline of media interest in the mantra of “saving the planet.” In the Wall Street Journal, Steven F. Hayward has gone further. He tells us of “the descent of climate change into the abyss of social-justice identity politics,” and says “climate change is no longer a pre-eminent policy issue.” Meanwhile, a so-called wind drought has caused the UK media to wake up at last to the fact that wind power is useless for generating the base load energy that is vital to our civilization. And even the government are talking of bringing nuclear power back into the mix.
But in at least one other area the greens’ assault on our lifestyles and freedoms is still growing. I refer, specifically, to their attacks on cars and car drivers. Not only is the mayor of London already making it impossibly expensive for all but the very rich to drive their cars in London. Not only is he seeking to widen further the range of his plundering schemes. But the anti-car lobby in the UK are seeking to restrict, and eventually to ban, car use on a national scale. And in this effort they are using a particular kind of pollution, called PM2.5, as their poster child.
By the Darn-Poor Rhymer
Did you hear birds a-singing,
In the morning at half past five?
Did you hear wasps a-flying,
As they came, one by one, from their hive?
Did you hear ducks a-quacking,
That one more duckling is born?
Did you hear choral backing,
That sang of a warm festive morn?
And yet, the BBC portray
The “hottest evah” seventh of May.
Did you meet people walking,
In the sunshine along the canal?
Did you meet for some talking,
As their dog did something banal?
Did you see girls parading,
In dresses skimpy and tight?
Did you see boys abrading
Their trousers at such a sight?
And yet, the BBC do tell,
That cold is heaven, warm is hell.
Did you feel quietly happy,
As you soaked in the warmth of the day?
Was your step a tad snappy
As you walked on your homeward way?
Sod the BBC! This I’ll say:
It’s been a beautiful seventh of May.
Just recently, I came across a proposal for “world democracy” and a “planetary social contract,” made by Fernando Alcoforado, a Brazilian professor. Here it is:
Now, I’m entirely in favour of eliminating war from our planet. But I didn’t much like his solution, or the way he put it forward. I interacted with him a couple of times, then decided I ought to set out my own, strongly dissenting, views. And, being the cynic I am, I put them in the form of questions about how his ideas might work when put into effect.
So, I put forward fourteen questions about Fernando’s proposals for world democracy and a planetary social contract. Here they are: