So preparing from scratch two five thousand word essays in just over a month has proven harder work than I imagined, especially when a week spent house hunting for next year is factored in. I barely have time to read journals right now, nevermind devoting hours to writing about things. So I’m not sure when I’ll be back. There’s probably not much point checking in here for a while though. À bientôt.
Right now I wish I could just fast forward to June. I have five Springsteen concerts in one month lined up. I’m standing for all of them. I intend on queuing from early morning onwards every time, so I have a great chance of making the front row at least once. London, Glasgow, Coventry, London, Cardiff. I saw him play four times last summer, and twice four years ago, so I’m almost doubling the number of times I’ve seen him play. And since each gig lasts well over three hours, I can expect to hear around eighteen hours of music for my money. I can’t think of anything I’d rather have on the horizon.
So tonight’s interview was far better. My only concern is that by treating us like adults, Balls does risk confusing voters. He avoids jargon, but he does have a tendency to talk in counterfactual terms which to many may appear evasive. They’re wrong, of course. It’s important that when economic conditions develop so rapidly and could easily get far worse by the time election day arrives, the opposition party doesn’t lock itself into any policy proposals which may need revising. As such, all they can do is offer a running commentary about what they would do now if they had power, whilst stressing how things would be different if their past policies had been followed all along. They can demonstrate credibility this way by allowing us to check the accuracy of their narrative. And this is the reason Balls can’t give a meaningless numerical figure now, pinpointing how much more he would borrow. Gavin Esler seems to stupidly take this as his criterion for political sincerity and depth. But the truth is that without such figures, Balls still managed to talk to us in a more respectful and truthful manner than almost all British politicians, who prefer misleading but catchy sound-bites. Esler asked Balls bluntly if borrowing would go up under Labour’s proposals. He replied decisively: ‘Yes, of course, and it’s right that it should’. He even openly used the word ‘stimulus’, which seems to have been erased from Osborne’s dictionary and desperately needs reclaiming as a sound and positive rather than reckless economic term. Balls has been in the anti-austerity camp all along. He may have been soft on the rhetoric at first, and that allowed the debate to be framed in the coalition’s favour for far too long. But he always knew bleeding an ill patient would be futile. Now he’s starting to proudly shout about it. And there are signs that the Tories know he is one of Labour’s greatest assets.
Michael Brendan Doughtery thinks it’s inevitable that dirt will be dug up about Bergoglio:
Are we to believe that Buenos Aires has been spared the moral rot and corruption found almost everywhere else in the Catholic clergy? Or, more likely, do we have another Cardinal who looked the other way, and studiously avoided confrontation with the “filth” in the church, no matter the danger to children or to the cause of the church? Presumption and detraction are sins, but Catholics should gird themselves; the sudden spotlight on his reign may reveal scandal and negligence.
On that note, an old Hugh O’Shaughnessy column is doing the rounds. The manner in which Bergoglio aided the government crackdown on revolutionary figures, which Catholic liberation theologians of the time backed and sometimes even joined, seems deeply disturbing:
The extent of the church’s complicity in the dark deeds was excellently set out by Horacio Verbitsky, one of Argentina’s most notable journalists, in his book El Silencio (Silence). He recounts how the Argentine navy with the connivance of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, now the Jesuit archbishop of Buenos Aires, hid from a visiting delegation of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission the dictatorship’s political prisoners. Bergoglio was hiding them in nothing less than his holiday home in an island called El Silencio in the River Plate. The most shaming thing for the church is that in such circumstances Bergoglio’s name was allowed to go forward in the ballot to choose the successor of John Paul II. What scandal would not have ensued if the first pope ever to be elected from the continent of America had been revealed as an accessory to murder and false imprisonment.
Not too surprising, is it? You’d think the man chosen to hold the most special relationship with God would at least set a better moral example than me.
Krugman went on Newsnight last night via video link to debate the Business Minister Matthew Hancock. It was basically a re-run of his appearance a year ago. His position hasn’t changed because nothing has transpired to suggest his theory is wrong. The same justification for a repeat performance is hardly available to Tory ministers, who have since seen the awful effects of their policies continue, with the magical benefits of austerity still allegedly lingering on the ever-distant horizon. But the same bullshit rhetoric was churned out about ‘borrowing your way out of debt’ being a contradiction.
The worst part, though, was David Grossman’s preceding report, which continued to sustain the myth that reasonable people support both positions here. The guy is a political correspondent we are obliged by law to fund, and yet he can’t even fulfil his journalistic function of shedding light on the truth of the matter here. No graphs demonstrating the indisputable correlation between austerity and diminished growth, directly contradicting the coalition’s promise. Instead, we just get the ‘balance’ of being told that economists fall into two camps on the austerity debate, before one from each side got their sound-bite. What Grossman omitted was the fact that one side’s predictions have been proven true, whilst the other side keeps shifting their story to retroactively fit the facts. And what he failed to mention was that the anti-austerity camp is now enormous, as I showed last summer:
[T]here’s obviously Krugman, joined by Joseph Stiglitz, Vicky Pryce, Robert Skidelsky, Jayati Ghosh and Steve Keen.
Then there’s twenty economists who backed Osborne in 2010, whose intervention he hailed as ‘a really significant moment in the economic debate’. Only one of them is now willing to still explicitly endorse Osborne’s policies.
Even the IMF, World Bank and WTO are now united in warning about the risks of rapid austerity.
Who are these allegedly equally credible and numerous people still supporting the British government and making the opposite case? They can’t be pointed to because they don’t exist. At least the public has started to get this, even if Newsnight still doesn’t.
There is, I assure you, a medical art for the soul. It is philosophy, whose aid need not be sought, as in bodily diseases, from outside ourselves. We must endeavour with all our resources and all our strength to become capable of doctoring ourselves.
[T]he big brands receive low grades from Oxfam, mostly for failing even to track the emissions for which they are directly or indirectly responsible. Nestlé was the only company to achieve a “fair” rating, with Associated British Foods at the bottom, with a “very poor” rating.
The changes that have already occurred show that if big corporations know that their consumers want them to act more ethically, they will do so. To be effective, such a campaign requires individual consumers to take it upon themselves to become better informed about the food and beverages that they consume, to make their voices heard, and to make purchasing choices that are influenced by ethics as well as by taste and price.