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Wrong Type of Snow!

I think the snow has come and gone, only to come again five times since november. Fluctuating around the magical white button point of zero degrees means not just that it disappears, but allso the snow that is there is not so darn useful! “kram” snow which although ideal for snowballs and those rotund sculpted carrot nosed people, it can be frustrating for XC skiing.
The whole winter has been frustrating in fact. Firstly and foremost I have dammaged my two once so new and perfect skis. Possibly someone has thrown the ski bag around, someone maybe being me, but I managed to delaminate the back of one skate ski from a shock to the top surface, while the screws on my Atomic skintecs in the crucial place, pulled out on one side leaving decrepit, dusty holes. Lucilly the top break is a straight forward exppoxy and clamp job, while the latter could be fixed with a new binding. Fortuitioulsy the NIS system uses a base plate with six screws I beleive, all very different points to the traditional type! Most advantagously again, the NIS bindings can be adjusted with a little key spanner thing, so you can get some more grip or glide as required out of your ‘furry bottomed skis’
Claissci skis fixed, the last two or three runs have been frustrating and made me wonder what I am doing wrong? I even trained up for the season in my usual doldrum November by joining the day memerbership at the local gymn! It seems it is the ‘wrong type of snow’ as British Rail once put it when their new premiere trains out of action. Or rather I get into having the wrong type of ski !

I felt this year should be a plateau year on classic while a progress year on skate skis, and so far that has only proven true because I have bothered to skate on my classic skis! It has been hard work on severaaal days without much of an immediate explatnation apart from the day with glider on the furry bit which turned out to be a massive mistake in asking for it! Washed out with the neighbours spray cleaner, the next day prove to be not much better, but at least I got some good kick with double pole out of the day, in kind of mixed conditions, mostly quite fimr and a little wet. 
Bad workmen complain about their tools, but the best workmen on the ‘Lonmg Tour’ style have about a dozen pairs with them! I have come up against the issues with fast skis – they can be slow as hell in the wrong conditions. My newish atomics have a lot of camber tension which makes them ride well with the mohair inserrt about the snow when gliding. Some days with my firend out before me I can just kick a little with double pole and feel like I am freewheeling along. Then came the new snow and minus seven, and then came the ‘kram’ snow, the snowman rolling perfection which is so rotten for daphne here! 
I found the extremes of my otherwise perfect classic skis. In fact so much so that on all three of my last tours I have gone over to skating with them, all 210 cm of them. Yesterday I had in fact some very, very satisfactory skating on them in quire heavy snow , and able to practice pushing out to the side on the boot to get the best skate. The skis have also been cleaned and glided , also over the mohair ‘skin’ which seems to have been an instant mistake ! They felt like kicking on a ski without any grip wax. 
On the second of three runs on them, I picked up a pensioner behind me, and although he never got past me, it felt like i was being whipped all the way while having a heavy pack holding me back. I turned at the top of the fish bone on the back to the car park, and decided to whip myself again if only to show the pensioner i was made of better stuff than he may have thought. I ended up skating about half of it!
I just have too much camber spring ! Without a good kick you can’t get good glide and in slow, kram conditions or cold and soft new snow, you cant make up for it with double poling as a rank amateur. You need the power of kicking with good grip in both diagonal and ‘keep the wheels rolling’ kick with double pole. Since I am heavy anyway, I dont get the advantage of being held over the snow. There is possibly some other dynamic going on there too, where the pre bend is actually digging in a litte at the front, I dont know.
Waxing for null conditions hasnt been a big issue for me before. Special Lilac flourinated worked well, whille the grip tape from Start was as good as red special or an expensive clister. However my old skis were broader and this helped quite a lot in the glide round zero, as I remember when the tracks were just lain by skidoo when the bases are really pretty soft.
Even the pensioners here go with pretty sporty, race style skis and I found out for the most why, because the narrower skis are by in larger a hell of a lot faster. It used to nbe a mystery why so many old folk had fancy Fischer skis, but now that is obvious. Also the mystery as to so many different pairs of skis per competitor at the top levels in the sport. They need different camber spring for the four different temperature ranges. 

So the question is there then – do I bang my head against the wall with skis which have their limits in soft snow? At easter I have several times taken out my broad jumble-sale waxless, 1979 type models, a fully wooden structure with a fishscale sole bonded on. They are a lot of fun when the snow is otherwise porridgey!  

A good workman will also, as they dont like to say, will choose the right tool for the job and sharpen it for the task ahead. This year could be the bumper long, late season which means the snow can go three ways- icey or at least firm, wet and sloppy or there can be new mild weather snow. Two of those three favour a softer ski but will I invest?



XC Skin Skis – Furry Business or Gliding Hairily?

I’ve had a couple of seasons now on Atomic Skintec Pro 4000 models, with built in mohair skin in the usual kick wax zone. What’s the verdict then? Should you get a pair of skin skis as a new beginner, occaisional skier or higher up in the sport?

Firstly you should not forget the importance of picking the right pair of skis for your weight, height, fitness level and style of kicking.   Some shops will tend to set you up against height – length being about 25 cm longer than you are high, but that can be hit or miss. Fischer for example, have often produced a shorter ski with a higher camber-tension ie stiffer flex in the mid arch.  You need to go to a good shop, or baring that if you are in a club ask for advice and try other people’s skis who are around your weight and height.  Good independent shops are also now invariably on line, and will be happy to reply and spec’ you up a pair of skis, all be that maybe a bit more expensive than chain stores for the same ski.

You also have to back up a little here when thinking of buying classic skis for the kick style. I see that conditions in Scotland for example are either lightly groomed, thin and often wet snow at lower levels, like the Huntly Club’s “Clash” routes, while using the upper plateaus of ski senteres usually precludes driving up ‘tram lines’ due to other skiers using the area. So do you actually want a pair of skate skis and to learn that style and potentially with use of the Kuzmin scaper, avoid waxing altogether?

Certainly I would recommend learning to ski on skate ski’s first if you are used to skating or want to be a bit sportier than your average beginner who dabbles in “walk-skiing”. Ther reason for this proposition is that learning to lift the weight off one ski completely and forcing yourself to turn where you want to go, will greatly enhance your balance on skis and you ability then on ‘classic kick’ skis. In reality classic skiing in the ‘tram lines’ is really a kind of parallel skate as you will completely unload the kicked ski as you glide on the forward ski!  Rather than the ‘skate’ motion in the foot being outwards, it is downwards and back. It is still more of a squeeze than a kick.

Given that you have access to prepared ski tracks then as an amateur skier, mohair or other skin integrated skis are a very good option for you.  Good waxing takes a lot of time, in reality and it actually begins to cost a lot of money. Also the flourinated kick and glide-waxes do not decay in the environment and their affects on nature are unknown. They are very much better than the standard petroleum waxes incidentally, wearing longer and often designed to cover temperature ranges standard waxes cant tackle, like thorugh zero degree C.

The main issue with a good wax job which you spend maybe an hour or more on, is that it can be completely wrong for the conditions you encounter. As soon as you have laid on too soft a wax, or a clister, and there are colder conditions with new snow, you have to strip down messily in the open, or go and take absolutely all off your skis. Some people then cover their bases with two pairs in the boot, or a little like me, take their skate ski set in the car just in case the tracks are poor. That said if you have a hard green and blue base you can wax out in the field, using the cork, for the conditions as they actually are, or apply clister. Another typical issue for longer ski endurance races or the organised distance runs over terrain are that either the altitude changes the demands on the ski grip, or the weather changes – typically either a thaw, new snow, or a rapid freezing of what was wet snow.

Skin skis then come in all the varieties of usual track skis, from tour oriented medium broad skis, to out and out, high am’ level racing skis.  Apart from the ski design there is only really two variables we see which are of note in my opinon. Fistly the length of the  skin insert and secondly if it is in two stripes or a single broader stripe. The idea behind the former is that it glides better, and Atomic first offered their Skintec with the fancy magnetic shifting system to switch between the two types. The twin versions are supposed to be for colder conditions or fast, transformed snow which has good grip. However there will quite likely be as much if not more resistance in a double skin if it is either longer than, or on a softer ski than for a single mid zone ‘furry bit’. So in principle a heavier skier could benefit from a twin stripe skin, or if you tend to ski in colder conditions you may find a twin helps you glide.

Certainly in soft or wet conditions you can hear that my skis have a skin, single broad type as it is, covering the front of a usual kick wax zone to just around the ball of the foot/ sole area. However in some conditions a good wax job will still pick up some ice crystals and ‘wirr’  until they wear off.  To confuse things slightly, you can also buy most of the marques with an NIS type binding manifold, which allows you to use a little key and move the biding back and forth on the ski to get either more grip , forward setting, or more glide , back wards. This will not really make up for an incorrect flex in your ski, it wil only compensate for different types of snow, or indeed, if the binding plate manifold is not ideally mounted onto the ski. It is then a useful ability for when you need your weight back a little, heel in as you would call it, such that you avoid the ski sucking or being dragged down into the snow, and the opposite being a little forward when you need more traction against say harder clister conditions.

In the very variable conditions we have had this winter, and the porridge like snow of the spring last year, skin skis seem to be ideal. We also have terrible weather forecasting for around zero degrees to plus two Celsius here, which results in either rain, new snow or thawing and sudden freezing as unpredictable factors. Not having to wax, and not having to use clister is a boon, sling your skis in the car away from the salt and grit, and get on with the game.

In my experience though Skintec have three limitations. Firstly very hard packed and icey conditions in the track beds. Here a good ice clister will keep you going for a decent days skiing. However on a poling course, you could just as well use your skin ski for powering around as long as its mohair is suspended above the tracks. Secondly the other end of the extreme, they can struggle to grip in cold, new snow. Thirdly they are subject to a good deal of ‘ suck and sqaut’ in wet, easter like conditions. Here perhaps those new sprays will help, or putting the NIS binding back, or as I do sans adjustment, rocking back on to my heals on the down hills to release the vacuum.

Where they come into their own is in zero-conditions, plus conditions with transformed or new snow, claissical ‘lillac’ conditions down to about -4 and then older tracks in colder temperatures, or very well prepared tracks. My own limitatsion are in style, fitness and there being a little too much stiffness in the arch for some conditions given I like a light, fast ‘kicking’ style. One work around for icier conditions could be to run some clister from just behind the skin to just behind the heel.

I also expect to see permanent skins on mountain touring skis, perhaps with the ability to have a short skin loaded onto the ski infront or behind the embedded version. The materials used in the skins are very like the glue on skins anyway.  Another little advantage of skinskis is that when kicking, they are grippier than an ordinary ski on the middle lane, bar perhaps clister, while in relation to that, they do not pick up snow crystals in the ‘rough’ here where skate-skiers ply, and so can be skated on quite well without usually catching as you often get with an oridany wax job, optimised for the bed of the tracks.

In Norway the tests on ‘TV 2 Hjelper Deg’ and elsewhere refered to noted that Rossignol produce skis with the best combination of grip and glide, whereas fischer are maybe getting towards pro racer level with their highest model. Sales of skinskis now account for over 80% of all langrenn skis sold in the southern half of the country where the weather is most variable. That is astounding, especially when you consider that they were laughed at only three or so years ago. That is kind of testimony to how good they are and on line you will find that common-or-garden skiers are very happy with them, and it is most likely the type who would complain about equipment or recommend top level pro gear, whom patronises the masses who are buying these in bail loads!


Finally an overnight freeze and I could try the Atomic Skintecs out for camber tension in double poling conditions, and see how much grip there was in icey tracks.

This week has thrown all that would be unusual for Atomic or any other ski-house, at me. First new, wet snow and rising temperatures then a freeze back. Really conditions the skin was not designed for perhaps, but also conditions which are almost impossible to wax correctly on the ‘right’ skis. In the soft, the snow was too wet for hard wax yet too soft and granular for clisters. In the hard, it was wet enough in places for a ‘red’ or ‘silver’ clister while the harder areas needed blue ice clister. For me a good universal clister job today would have lasted only about 15km, and I racked up about 25km without thinking about more than water breaks.

So we have to seperate out a few things here

1. The Mohair skin
2. The camber tension
3. Conditions
4. Technique and weight of skier.

1. The skin ….. And 2,3,4 also….

Any skin’s grip varies with the length & width of it, the snow base its on and any treatments such as glider or anti-icing.

Mohair skins in full legnth will climb anything, but being about 30 – 40 cm under the camber sole on all these new class of skis means that there is quite a finite amount of grip relative to 2,3 and 4 !

In other words to get to the performance of the skin alone, you have to subtract the other factors, including your own skill or style , which means you either need a comparable pair of non skinned or you compare to your ‘best ever skis and wax job’.

So my personal opinion and summary on using Atomic Skintec is-

1) the skin’s limits are new snow over 1 cm in the tracks; very soft, wet snow; glazed, icey tracks. Here you get bad traction.

2) the skin seems to waterlog in warm conditions, and ball up just a little bit in ‘zero’ conditions.  Sprays or glide Treatments may help. It both looses traction and glide imho when it gets waterloged

3) camber tension – to race or be really satisfied throughout the season, nyou probably want a softer pair and a pair which are quite hard. Atomic SDS gives an edge here.

In the hard conditions i felt the camber was great for double poling, but i had to press pretty hard on anything icey in diagonal to get ashesion. Downhill i could rock back weight onto my heels to get more speed and lose the little skin-noise there was. Hey, i do this with a clister job or in slower conditions on wax skis.

One odd thing which dawned on me after a few days, like a kind of double take, was how far forward on the ski the skin sits- from a mid ( clister ) forward mark back to only around  the ball of the foot I dare say you could clister back to the heel on the bare ski and get some much needed traction on polished – icey uphills !

So my conclusion – it sucks living near the coast if you want to enjoy an easy life of xc skiing !  The correct length and camber skin ski will give any skier less to worry about in well prepared tracks which are firm but not icey. They bust universal clister, but are not as grippy as red or silver clisters and on pure ice, blue clister.

A Platform Too Far?  Defending Free Speech or Giving Fascists and Extremists Credibility?

Conservatives are very in favour of free speech when it suits them, and one has to wonder about their motivations for threatening universities and student unions who have a ‘no platform’ stance on speakers and lecturers who are deemed to be beyond what a democratic society should allow under the rule of law.

Does freedom of speech have limits? Well many Neo Liberal philosophers thought not, but then again many of those philosophers were reactionairies in the 1930s who aligned themselves with fascism and corporatism.For them, the views of the ruling elite, the chosen illuminatae and successful capitalists, should be permitted freedom of expression, in a time when like now, the media was in a battle between the establishment, the new right and the voice of truth and disclosure of corruption. To us today however, we find that yes, we the public want restrictions on freedom of speech when that goes over into hatred, and the advocating of discrimmination against identifiable people or races. 

Today we have the jihadis versus the Britain Firsts on each extreme, and feeding each other, plus we have the odd attention seeking super-sexist, homophobe, anti semite, or zionist who calls for the (quicker) eradication of Muslims from the occupied West Bank and the creation of an ethnically pure, greater Israel. For years the media kept the lid on the skin head movement and it was a ‘street corner’ phenomenom until the internet came a long and Extreme Islamic terrorism really took off as a threat in the west. Working class dissaffection could be turned into anti islamic sentiment and it could gain a critical mass with the media having to pay attention to the new Alt Right parties across Europe. The ‘unpopulists’ as i like to call them, represent about 1 in 5 of adult voters, and that is about the proportion of small minded racists I have encountered in daily life. That they were denied a platform in the 1950s and 60s was a natural result of World War II, but should they be given a voice?   Is preaching hatred part and parcel of the freedoms we should allow? 

For me the answer is clearly no when it relates to specific races, gender, religion or sexuality. People can seek a private platform for this type of hate talk, but it should be in the media’s and public sector’s interests to not afford them a platform, while also it should be a matter where their existence and opnions should be aired by those institutions. Are we not free as individuals to hate and discriminate against people whose politics we don’t like? . Why then not allow the extremists, the sect haters,  a platform as a matter of intellectual scrutiny and to uphold that concept ? Well in a democratic society governed by the rule of civil laws, we are free to act until we restrict the freedom of others. Hate Speech is     implicit in restricting other people’s freedom by inciting threats and menaces against them. Discrimination speech is explicit in disfavouring the freedoms of definable individuals in society. 

As you may have noticed, the ‘neo liberal’ ideology, like Lenninist Marxism, has failed and been replaced, not too subtly by a different form of ideology, that of right wing nationalism. In large this has always been the resort of the wealthy elite in distracting the public from woes at home, or in expanding their empires and access to resources and economic influence. In this we are not talking about the Alt Right, we are talking about the rush to the right by the forermly internationalist conservative parties, epitified by Trump and Brexit.

 Nationalism suits the billionaires of this world, who by the way are virtually stateless themselves, being constantly in travel and registered only as high net worth individuals in the best tax havens or most attractive dens of excess like Monaco and the Cayman islands. This small section of society, are obsessed with defending their wealth and increasing their power. They are about winning, and the Neo Liberal philosophy including globalisation, suited them extremely well in defeating wages inflation, which in turn eroded the value of money and thus their net worth. They are also obsessed with another thing withihn this,  increasing productivity while decreasing costs, that is part of their big game plan. Nationalism is a dangerous game for them to play becauuse it could move nation states towards protectionism, as is much of the economic sentiment behind Trump’s election and the anti immigrant, Brexit slim majority. 

However that risk of a move back to the old tribal chestnit, them vs us,  is worth taking, becauise Nationalism is the best distraction from the fact that Neo Liberalism, their core ideology, has failed and its low wage, high cost of living net result is now creeping further up the social ladder,  and that automisation is about to be rolled out across western society, decimnating jobs in the service sector. Like in Chess, this is a Gambit, where they give up some march on Globalisation, the race to the bottom – workers being only worth what the cheapest are,  and the inevitable return of slavery at that low end, regulation free level – in order that they can keep the public away from ideas of government acting as a positive force in society in terms of well being, standard of living and technological progress. 

This foray into  anti neo liberalist ground is now revealed as my explanation as to why the Conservative and Unionist party are so keen on punishing ‘no platform’ universities. We are in a period of distractioin from the real economic issues and hang over from globalisation and hyper inflation in property markets and their related financial vehicles. That Neo Liberalism has failed is of no surprise to socialists and centrists, in the same way as the failure of Marxist Lenninist economics in the USSR was no surprise to Conservatives and market economists. What the conservatives need is to hold the ground centre right and in doing so they would like to shift debate to the right, with the extreme of the right wing being given an open platform, to distract the public from the growth of left wing ideology as a major voice in the dialectic, so much of which is formed in each epoch of university under graduate periods of around half a decade. They want Conservatives to be rubbing shoulders with the left, presenting themselves as the vpoice of reason against the far right, such that their radical right wing economic programme becomes wrapped up in a nice cosey, centrist political feel and a new ‘inclusive’ Britain is something they can somehow claim, while in fact they manage to shift the debate away from Marxist ideas.

Marxits ideology may seem dead and buried to most of us in the West, but that is certainly not the case to the leaders of the world’s largest national economy, the correctly addressed People’s Republic of China. They have a different economic model, eminating from a different philosophy. They are driving a Keynsian economy with larger elements of free market econimic freedoms than any previous marxist socialist government has dared. They have a form of command capitalism, where individual entrepreneurs are enabled by the free availability of credit mediated by the central bank, which underwrites the chinese ‘private’ investment banks and manipulates their currency to a low level favouring economic dominance in balance of trade. They have a planned infrastructure which is inclusive to poorer regions, and see their industrialisation as be-freeing their paddy field peasants from poverty and ignorance. So large is their infrastuctural programme that it threatens the long term availability of salt free building quality sand for concrete. They drive forward on five year plans, building whole new cities, rebuiklding the old, and faciliating ‘marketism’ to a state which is domninating the world economy.  Such ideas and the success of the Chinese macro economic policy, as a divergence from tradtional Marxism and an adoption of a controlled level of ‘marketism’ are dangerous in a west with growing inequality of opportunity. These ideas could shift the power base back to ‘big government’ and away from the current ‘big corporate’ driven agenda.   

It may seem that this is a lot of effort and will cause a lot of trouble to achieve, but as I say, Universities breed most of the leaders of the country, and are the hot houses of radical new thinking. An epoch is perhaps defined by the generational span  of social mingling from the newest under grad’freshers to the post grad’s. People  who are in the political clubs and debating societies, going on protest marches, and influenced by the government policy of the day. “No Platform” as a debate is purely a distraction for the current student epoch, indeed some of the speech content in a public place would probably lead to convictions under current law. No it is something for the Conservatives to tie up student organisations with as a different fight from that which is against their economic policy, and they probably have no intention on winning it, they can just back away and be seen as ‘testing the bounds of democracy and free speech’ while having conventiently fillibustered their way through much of current debate, allowing this single issue to even eclipse  all others in the sphere of higher education.

“No platform’ for hate, discrimination, and incitement to act to destroy democracy is in fact a “No Brainer” for any public institution, and a good many private ones too. Holding up the rights of freedom of speech in relation to these ideas being driven into a somehow more dangerous ‘underground’ is just a tautology in itself – democracy is of course going to have to stop freedom of speech when it preaches the end of democracy and freedom of speech. Instead giving the far right, or extreme islam, or anti Democractic Revolutiuonary Marxism a platform legitimises their cause amongst the weaker minded and more vuldnerable young people. Politicians talk of how Hitler was denied a platform and there in lay his core of support and legitimacy, and the Alt Right and Neo Nazi movements have somehow been able to bend the media’s ear to listen to this, much as it is dismissed, it is kind of a foot in the door for a platform, which should be denied. 

The alternative to not allowing any credible platform to extremeists is not the stifling of debate. It is not the appeasement to the imaginary meta liberal ‘dictatorship’ that international organisations perpetuate in order to suppress debate, that is largely a Neo Liberal myth. We can have a sensible debate in open platform politics about the polciies of the council of refugees, about freedom of movement and employment across national borders, abouut low cost countries, about the influence of Islamic fundamentalists and isolationists within our western societies. There are holy cows to be slaughtered or at least endure aputations in order that crises like the Syrian refugee and Afrcian – Asian migrant crises be managed equitably. 

Most of all though, we need to shift the debate back to being the balance between the interests of labour and capital, society and industry, the individual and the environment, science and technological progress, personal well being versus personal wealth accumulation. Most of all between what is truth and how we can define it, and what is fake and mere opinion. 


Neo Liberalism Reaches Its’ Bitter End

In today’s western world, we see that the ideology and policies of Neo Liberalism are coming to a bitter, kicking and spluttering end.

In the same way as the unions became too powerful under the era of Keynsian democratic socialism, as the post war period was in most free western countries was in retrosepct, the system has become to powerful for its own good and there with, corrupt.

Regime Change Reveal Partial Political Vacuums

The danger for a system in its death throws, is collapse without replacement by something sensible and democratic. This is was originally in fact launched the individualistic, globalising ideology of Neo Liberalism into politics in 1979.  From being a far right model for a Darwinian society, where the individual is a competitive, existential entity with no benefit from organised society, into the main stream with Reagan and Thatcher.

We see also the same in Iran in its ‘cultural revolution’ and now Libya, that an unwanted regime is not replaced by a movement which represents the majority who wanted some freedom of speech, but rather it represents a large enough minority with a single socio-economic outlook to sieze and maintain power from the core of a smaller, fanatical minority who assume ruling positions.

Neo Liberalism replaced something that no longer worked in the west, just because it was a strong ideoligcal stand point, the same as the Ayatollah Khomeini did in Iran. People were exhausted by the economic and social turmoil of the 1970s and wanted to turn their backs on the organisations which had once offered freedoms, but not seemed to deny growth in the standard of living and quality of life.

The Rise of Corruption Topples Ideological Empires – Then and Now

In the late 70s going into the 1980s, neither Dennis Healy nor Jimmy Carter could have taken on the unions and won, any more than today Theresa May could take on the Billionaires and the Israeli Zionist Lobby. The Peri Menopausal Neo Liberal political establishment today are in the same position as governments held to ransom by their funders the unions and the uber liberals. In the three decades in which the unions rose from their righeousnous to become corrupt power mongerors, they payrolled the Left and the Right dare not go to war with them.


The demise of that era of democratic socialism (think about it! Yes in the USA too) was hastened by the inflation crisis which many economists present probably rightly so as being precipitated by the oil crisis. This was to some a kind of chain effect, a mere starting spark, while to other economists, the western thirst for petroleums was too much for their current political economic systems and policy of the time to bear. The unions could demand more money in the face of rising living costs, thus fuelling inflation.

Many Keynsian thinkers propose that inflation is not really such an issue, you print more money to ensure it circulates and short periods of high inflation are a sign of a vibrant economy. However in reality inflation up into double figures is a heavy form of taxation on ordinary worker’s take home pay. Also inflation driven by consumer price index influence on currency, decreases the value of assets and debt, which are bad for capital and investors.

The ‘Great Moderation’

In terms of getting capitalism working for the economy again and tackling the post 70s crisis, the Neo Liberals had with them some astute economists and some very cynical politicians and billionaires. Their main aims were to dergulate the movement of capital, castrate the unions and in so doing bring in an era of lower inflation.

Over time also, after a decade of much volatility of interest rates, their economists in their central banks and IMF were able to secure a low interest era, during which it can be argued that the costs of lending money and underpinning much of the credit liquidity in the economy by central banks, is a kind of crypto keynsian approach, because it is in reality a governmental subsidy to industry via the banking system. (More on the era of crypto keynsianism in another blog of mine).

These aims and methods in themselves may have been fortititous for the lower half of  earners and net personal wealth, had it lead to investment in productive, free market industries. In fact their could have been a new consumer products boom, coupled to the services and financial products boom. But that would have been inflationary. The other key tool in keeping inflation low over a longer time, was increasing competition on a global basis.

Globalistaion –  Slavery Is Reborn, and Exported

The Neo Liberals talked most about free trade, yet this meant in effect the race to the bottom of the labour cost ladder, where what slavery  and what being a paid worker is a grey area. Inevitably also it comes back to that old favourite of empires, disinfranchisement of land rights. Kicking the natives off their land and destroing their subsistance  lifestyles. It is age old, from the persecution of the Sons of David by the Egyptians, through the Highland Clearances, to today’s slash and burn of the equatorial rain forrests. Yesterday’s sheep grazing is today’s soyabean and palm oil plantation.

Neo Liberalism was going to hit the buffers because the world is not a single free market and will never be so. In the same way as communists viewed the human race as homogenous, the globe was viewed as a single opportunity which would obey the core ideological rules of Adam Smith and all the other free market economists down the ages who spoke of indeed, the Wealth of Nations, and not the well being of the world. Where Neo Liberalism hit the terminus station’s buffers was China, most of any other low cost production country (LCC). The race to China.

China – The Waterloo of Neo Liberalism

China as you may have seen and heard on the news very recently, is a country controlled by a large, non democratic ‘socialist’ government, They do all the bad, naughty economic tricks the Neo Lib’s have spent so much effort in eradicating from the public mind in the west through their control of the main media. China now has command capitalism and prints money, while controlling the value of Yuan on internaional markets. They also invest massively in state infrastructure, and plan entire cities before commanding capitalism to move in and do its very best to make a buck, sorry , yuan or two. In addition they are such a large manufacturing economy, that they can manipulate both the supply and demand for any key commodity or even some advanced componentry.  They allow people to become rich, but tax heavily.  China is so populous that their tourist demand abroad alone is powerful enough to give them political influence. They still only allow most couples a single child before there are punitive financial penalties. They do lots of bad stuff. Yet in Neo La La Land, they get away with and steal jobs from the west.

The promise was that China was opening up, and western companies could make a lot of cash there.  The reality was that western companies would make most cash closing profitable plant in their former indigenous countries, moving to China and then selling back to their old countries. The balance of trade is enormously biased towards China when considering both the EU and the USA, with many corporates no longer being geographically identifiable with the west. The Chinese too learned to compete with value added products as well as being cheap on bricks and electric kettles.

Capitulating to China

The west have capitulated because those who fund those in power, were able to tell this lie about ‘free trade’ creating jobs. AAmongst those are the great retail chain owners who wanted to extend choice and margin on products for ordinary, cash strapped workers.

It took a maverick Billionaire, one Donald Trump, to call the game, because he unlike his rival politicians, doesnt need funding or to get any richer, he just wanted power. This week he is in China, and it seems he genuinely will bring into force a new era of better balance mechanisms with China, such that the US can once again compete in manufacturing.

A Property Precipice?

Will Trump be too late, and any way does he not represent all that is wrong with Neo Liberalism in the first place? His own family’s fortune is based on property and laterly hotels, back to what his good ol’ grand daddy from Germany did in the Yukon over a century ago. But it was in property that the Trumps became archetypal neo liberalists. His father made a fortune in building flats sponsored by the state, as the peace dividend for GI’s returning from WWII. Although Donald has tried various other enterprises, often failing, it is property development he is king of, because, like in a game of monopoly, he has a lot of capital to lever to make new gains.

Now property we have mentioned of course. Its’ value is deflated by high enough inflation in currency,  over time in a typical slow post war ‘2.4’ kids demographic. Inflation running at the levels it did even before the oil crisis of the 70s, means that there was more risk in property. However the returns were still good for developers, landlords and home owners over time due to urbanisation and concentration of industrial centres in the 1940s to the 1970s.

Property and metropolisation became important to the funders of Neo Liberal political parties and they would go on to influence policy for several decades to favour growth, and often unsustainable growth, in ‘real estate’ values.

By the mid eighties, the Unions had been castrated in the key Neo Liberal economies of the UK and USA. So wage rises were arrested in industry, and the emerging modern consumer and business services industries were kept largely union-free there after. This meant that wages were paid to the ‘going market rate, and that is often taking advantage of the percieved bargaining position employers have vs prospective employees, especially with higher unemployment and underemployment as a result of Neo Liberal economics. So they needed to have metropolisation as a driving force, which could be influenced in public policy by centralisation of governmental departments and services. Also they wanted a tacit acceptance of higher immigration, be that legal or illegal in order to keep demand for property up, while also suppressing wages by importing poor, cash hungry workers.

As I blogged on before, another big change in the 1980s was access to credit and the amount of risk the entire credit banking system, and in turn central banks, could take. To extend material standard of living, or enter a better education than your parents, the western consumer borrowed and kept on borrowing, until the value of money leant and the handling of that credit, was more than the value-added-manufacturing industry nationally.


All Things, Good or Bad, Come to an End

The combined effects of Neo Liberalism are then to make the top third of society more wealthy and more powerful, and in particular to make the very top 1% mega rich and with the ability to buy out politicians, media houses and now troll the internet against consumer’s own generated media opinion. The lower third of society have stagnated and often become poorer in western countries, even relative to their predecessing generation. While the middle third were the battle ground for a long time for the Neo Libs in bribing them with often the highest relative tax reductions, allowing them to lever to three times income and beyond in a way which helped inflate property prices. The middle class and the house owning working class, became rather obsessed with getting on and moving up the property ladder, to tthe extent where many expected the capital gains on the way to be a major part of their pension when released in later life.

Now of course this latest period of recession and general western economic malaise for ordinary workers locked to one nation, was precipitated by the property scandal know as the Sub Prime Mis-selling fiasco.  Many see that the possibility for a wide bubble, because the level of debt to equity has developed over the last decade again because prices are not sustainable relative to longer term they would claim demand. Too many buyers are off the ladder, and rental prices are squeezing out workers who are not prepared to go into debt just to live in a metropolitan area without owning anything as a result.

Economy Not Working ? – Blame Immigrants and Any Other Scape Goats

After five years of the old cures not working and the republican congress and senate fighting Obama, then the stage was set for a shift out of the Neo Liberal period and into a new, Alt Right one, with immigrants, established minorities, and whom ever you want to call subversive or deviant being the blame for the ills of capitalism’s boundless power. THis is in effect what Hitler did to stir a nation on its economic knees to common, ethnically purified action. Brexit, Trump and some minor victories in Europe are the result, fuelled also by the migrant and refugee crises of the Middle East, Africa and South East / South Central Asia.

The trouble being here in part that immigration in the key Neo Lib’ economies was driving the economy because as above, it was keeping tabs on wage rises within national borders, while supplying the housing market with new renters and eventual first time buyers. Due to flattening growth in domestic populations, declining to as low as 1.4 babies per couple in some western countries, this means a declining population once the baby boomers die off. So it is immigrants who have been stoking the basement boiler of the housing market just by their turning up, and also because in many cases they tend to have larger families and stimulate consumer demand too.

The Paradise-Panama Paper Fly in the Ointment

These last weeks, the truth about the funders of the Alt Righ and Neo Liberalist Polticians has come out. In the same way as the unions were able to extract an unfairly large proportion of wealth from the economy relative to productivity gains, the super rich and global corporates are able to avoid taxation by exporting profits to tax havens. In western countries they are very often most heavily invested in rentier based enterprisesand the credit system which supports the housing bubble. Second to that they are involved in privatised public services and suppliers of materials to the public sector, in particular armaments and medical related products. Productive, value adding industry is now long down the list, and you just have to glance at the FTSE 100 to see that indigenous manufacturers operating in largely private free markets are largely absent. It is dominated by banks & financial institutions, pharma, munitions and rentier utilities.

Like Communism, Neo Liberalism is In Free Fall

Neo Liberalism like Marxist Leninism is based on a false set of utopian ideals, and both became highly authoritarian forms of government who chose in effect, which element in society they rewarded most. Free market ideology is fine and good until you enter into the equation slavery at the bottom end of the world’s supply chains, depletion of natural resources and destruction of the ecosystem, and most of all, political corruption, even though much of it in the USA and UK is legalised. All people are free to compete in the market, but some people are more free to compete than others.

TBC Sailing hull speed learning etc

We have had a spell of dreadful weather, which is very unlike our usual serene Septembers here  on the South Coast of Norway. Yesterday though was one such day with light airs, blue skies and a sharp sunshine so typical here either end of the summer.

So we jumped at the chance of grabbing a practice sail and seeing pretty much literally, where the wind would take us, in the 12 sq meter classic design. 

Upon reflection the sail made me think of three things – hull and keel speed, spinnaker work and learning to re-learn.

On the Subject of Sailing Badly in Light Airs in Classic Boats

The 12 sq meter design is indeed a mini twelve mR designed as a training boat for youth of the wealthy on Oslo Fjord. It soon however became a favourite day boat of adults looking for an easily crewed regatta machine. King Olav had an early  ‘Fram’ 12 kvm indeed as a young man. On some of my previous outings in these elegant classics, much prettier it has to be said that most all of the UK’s one design day sailers, I have sailed very badly. Or been made to feel like my sailing skills were somehow thrown out of the window.

Coming back to the class after some spats and a very poor nationals in 2010 (the boat had mussels on the keel and when I first inspected her sails, GAFFER tape fixes on the spinnaker! ) I took these former failures as a challenge to learn the boat and prepare a decent example, and crew, for racing.

The burning light in the revitalisation of the class as a one-design with  our local centre of gravity, has been the boat builder and all round craftsman in wood, Petter Halvorsen. He like others before gave me a recent ‘heads up’ that the 12 kvm (kvadrat meter = sq. m) was so different that I  should throw out all I have learned in the Melges and a long line of boats, and rather learn the arts of keeping her moving.  

However there are certain principles of science at stake here, rather than leaving it all down to art. The boat may be very different in design from the modern regatta machines,  or the RORC tonne rule derived OD boats I sailed mostly before, but Scotty will tell you, a 12 kvm cannae defy the laws of physics, Jim.

Wave Goodbye to your Logs, and Say Hello to your Waves 

Universal Basic Income- The Craziest of all Ideas,  Which May Actually Work?

Universal Basic Income invokes shock and horror amongst the conservative chattering classes and skilled labour alike. Paying people to do “nothing”, it is crazy and lazy! Or is it? When billionaires, libertarian leaders and astute politicians start promoting the idea, then we have to inform ourselves!

From Luddites to Blairites

Society is changing in the way it relates to economic activity. This sea-change of new technology replacing human tasks,  is allegedly going to accelerate beyond the rate at which new human based jobs and livelihoods will be created. We are about to robotise menial and manual jobs such as shop service and public service /freight driving, while also  on the more skilled end of human mental activity,  let algorythms do the work of highly skilled accountants, scientists and even lawyers.

The great advance in computing is here, we can finally emulate the human brain in many activities, and in some, like motorway driving, outperform humans.

When transport workers and accountants get their redundancy notices, will there be a great cry of  ‘ crush the machines’ as the Luddites of the first industrial revolution demanded?

Will there be rather a slower transition, as the relatively expensive technology is rolled out in the larger firms first? Or will this be a rapid transition aided by the departure of the old school baby boomer management structures, who are largely reaching retirement age and taking their philosophies with them into senility (?).

Blairite- Wallmart economics – the UBI is already here anyway, yet complex and expensive to adminsiter ? ……………………………………………………………………..

Industrial Revolutions Revolve The Work Force

Why should this new industrial revolution reduce the number of workers when all other industrial revolutions and major innovations  have actually lead to new wealth-creation and more jobs ?

In truth some jobs and professions have died away – take the 1960s typing pool- a hand written letter or shorhand dictat was taken to the ( girls) of the typing pool and returned to the originator often some days later. These typing pool employees needed to read,  spell and type at 40 to 60 words a minute. They were whiped out within a ten year period, and even secretaries were removed from middle to upper management, just the reserve of VPs and the CEO. A cultural shift occured in the 1980s. The PC, spellchecker and there after the e-mail killed off these jobs.

The thing is that in that case women were emancipating themselves, and these menial jobs were no real loss to them. Computing also lead to new opportunities in data capture (punching in) and customer or supplier interaction. There were new needs for manual interpretation and interaction with databases and communication systems.  They were getting educated, trained and advancing their own careers. There was a counter current which neutralised much of the change.

I was sayinhg to a friend just today, when we were young would be ever believe that two small start up companies foom the 1970 Apple and Microsoft would be bigger than GE, GM and the tourist infustry? Or that a social platform, a replacement for mail and telephone, would become the highest value company listed on the NY stock exchange?

So we also see then possibilities here for this kind of redirection. Also that human activity in a technological society tends towards higher value per person- both monetary and by value to society.

The reason that previous industrial revolutions driven by technology have lead to growth in standard of living and wealth is that on the one hand there are new tools delivered, while on the other there are new opportunies in the end product or service. With new tools we increase worker productivity, enhance often quality and reliability in the product, and enable new possibilities, often not envisaged when the new tool or process was first developed.

So for example the steam engine lead to the internal combustion engine, while the combination of the steam turbine and the turbo charger lead to the jet engine, which in its’ end applicaton shrunk the world for us.

This ‘revolution’ is not the first time we have seen a quantum leap which displaces human labour. It is ironic yet illustrative that the terms ‘calculator’ and ‘computer’ both were used to describe professions in the 19 th Century. These tasks were done wholly by people. As tools, they allow us all access to accounting, engineering, drawing, image manipulatiin and communication. Yes they seem to just replace manual tasks, but they allow more people to access the skills and utilise the mathematics and technology.

Robots take over an entire human in a similar way as mechanical and then electronic calculators did. They displace a human from a menial task, or enhance the precision and repeatability of a skilled job. However the latter leads to even larger efficiency gains.ibduastrial welding and operational Robot and electronic guided machine tool manufacture became a major industry, and programming and maintaining them the new skill on the ground, while the companies engaging them could grow and offer higher value in the market. Which meant people could do new things, better things and often quality became more affordable.

Many highly informed pundits though, forsee a near future where millions of people will be economically displaced. In the USA they say that 3 million driving jobs will disappear. But in what time span? Do we need a UBI to smooth the transition and pick up those older or less literate workers who have difficulty in new professions? or does it happen slowly and natural wasteage  (retirement and career exits) balances the disruptor ?

Lowering Barriers to Micro Industrialisation?

There is another barrier which is being overcome here with the super robot and algorythmic decision maker. The barrier to entry for new competitors.

These new ‘super’ robots are going to be affordable in aqusition and service- that is the reason many pundits think  adoption is going to be so wide scale and hence displace so many human jobs. So although they add costs they take away human costs, and are in theory more productive than a single human.

Now if you imagine a robot or computing system able to do the job of ten people, yet the cost per unit is less than a single year for an employee, then small businesses can compete with bigger businesses in producting niche products or innovations in local markets.   SME’s can be close to their local customer or ‘pyscically proximal’ global customers. That is to say they can react rapidly to evolving needs and tailor products and services to that niche, or deliver a local product quickly. SME can offer that high degree of tailoring to customer, while also offering higher quality or perhaps even a cheaper version of a product than the main stream ‘value added’ offering.

We see this to some extent with the somewhat over hyped 3/D printing technologies. It can mean that a very cheap, local product can be made, or that a very high quality product can be made with high precision. New products not envisaged can be rapidly prototyped and come to the world as solid entities. Furthermore new service opportiunities, remembering the jet engine, can be rapidly created, tailored and disseminated. This means that new entrepreneurial activity is enabled with a focus on creativity and solving problems, two things humans still by in large out rank the CPU many fold.

What About the Trailer Park? 

On the other hand then, what jobs are left for the unskilled, non-entrpreneurial section of society? Already they are economically margunalised and often as active in the black economy than the taxed one. They wont be designing, fixing or reprogramming the robots which habe taken their joibs. Is the new robot and algorythm technology going to be too large a crash across too large a section of the economy, jobs market and social strata that we  will create destitution en masse fro, what is called the Precariat today – the precarious proletariat?  Will social-mobility halt up as young adults can no longer work their way into and through college and university?

 Ellon Musk and Mark Zuckenberg certainly do believe that we are on  the brink of a sea change which is inevitable,  but which will make human economic activity redundant in so many sectors and professions such that society will be profoundly disrupted by inequality and abject poverty. 

Further market mechanism critique tbc lost in draft crash DO NOT RESTORE next time

Also a new bit on the ‘hipster and home sale begging’  future, which is already here. Offering high price on products which are only of slight better quality, “begging” from friends and relying on trainsient styles and fashions.

 Where are the Social Democratic and Socialist Left on UBI ?

From the traditional left wing perspective, UBI is admitting defeat to market mechanisms over promoting living wages and engaging more of the workforce in useful jobs which better society.It is a simple sticking plaster over the ills of capitalism.

In effect we came to this capitulation in the UK with the Blairites and Gordon Brown’s policies of making work pay, a form of gauranteed minimum income with flexibility for working part-time, mediated via benefits and tax credits. This was a major economic blunder in light of allowing weak labour laws to continue from the Thatcher era, permittting a culture of the lowest common denominator in employment , the zero hours contract, and the precarious temporary nature of working in the consumer service sector in particular.  In turn these policies have reduced tax revenues from ordinary unskilled and semi skilled workers  while increasing benefit payments in the periods they find their temporary contracts end, or their hours cut. Even average income workers with families can find they recieve more in tax credits and benefits than they pay in income tax in the UK.

The hope as with all political policy, was that economic growth would eventurally take more of these people out of benefits and make them into net tax payers, an essential element in any modern economy with an ageing population.  The means of promoting economic growth are Neo Liberal, promoting flexibility in the labour market and deregulation. This is the biggest critique of the decade of Labour Blairite power- that they gave up fighting for workers rights, bar the minimum wage, and caved into the concepts which would eventually lower the standard of living for many of their own voters, plunging them into the part time/ temporary economy.

Even in the USA there is a form for UBI for part time workers which keeps Walmart supplied with cheap, disposable staff, and they can avoid all the ‘on costs’ associated to full time, permanent staff such as pensions or health care contributions. They found the lowest common denominator and kept policy in place via lobbying such that public money still supported their profits, while social un rest due to abject poverty were kept at bay due to welfare top ups and medicare for the poorest.

Neo-Liberals. The Weirdest Proponents of UBI

Neo Liberalism has some common sense in its often otherwise twisted philosophy. That of the existential individual. Really the modern labour movements and neo-socialists do not have much of the collectivist policy left when it comes to outdated concepts like the command economy. Here the two actually meet , full circle if you like, the extreme ends finally tieing in a bizarre consensus on UBI.

Neo Liberalists knew all along that they would need to have welfare in western economies in practice, because capitalism is inevitably a ‘trickle up’ affair which leads to social unrest. Policy makers under reagan and bush administrations made high profile cuts to social budgets, while in fact the budget for welfare increased and more employers started to use staff on a part time/ temporary basis. But in turn they have woken up in their key national economies, the US and the UK, to the huge structure in place to keep people sruviving – the “precariat” , the precarious position of the proletariat. The means of delivering and policing social welfare are hugely costly and labour intensive.

Also on the libertarian side, there is the element of personal freedom being constricted by government schemes which have rules and boundaries as to what economic or educational activities claimants can or cannot engage in before they lose their benefits or  have to apply for other types of benefit.  For willing participants, it is argued that it renders them under the wing of the nanny state, with an expectation that the government scheme will fix things for them. They will get personal improvement via the governments’ action, via the beaurocracy.

Here then UBI has ‘small government’ appeal to Libertarians

On the liberal, neo-socialist side, we have then support for a basic standard of living, and as mentioned for the Blairite position, a capitulation to the way the market has evolved. A light administered ‘living wage’ which would cover an elementary costs of survival without means testing, just via computer based tax and registration comparisons, has great appeal because on the one hand it feeds people, while on the other it denies employers access to what is tantamount to slave labour- there is no compulsion from government to take work and live precariously, in and out of those expensive welfare systems.

From the ‘socialist side’ UBI delivered via efficient computing systems can be viewed as the final step to liberating the workforce from slavery. This being in that jobs are no longer viable when they barely cover subsistance, from low pay to zero hours contracts,  and ‘maggies farm’ economics where by employment hot spots reduce wages to the same for skilled workers. Capital then has to develop more attractive packages for workers and allow them to work home office for example.

Social services ….

Cold Turkey for Welfare ?

Many arch neo liberalists and conservatives advocate the removal or all state welfare, for much the same reasons UBI is arguably flawed. Yet we have the reality here,not a possibility, that zero welfare leads to social unrest. Violence, crime, malnutrition, mafiaosa and emmigration. That is what happened before in history, and there is no difference today. There are no great charitable mechanisms, no mass food bank. There are guns, there are terrorist recruiters

Who then decides if you qualify for UBI? At what stage to you have to exit UBI or is there a transition, as a gauranteed minimum income which would potentially be more beaurocraticto administer. Do many actively choose to be UBI or is it something you have thrust upon you by default or culture? There is this element in the concept that it is a kind of default dialogue, that you would normally be unemployed or disabled or that your line of work makes you ill. Who says then you cannot qualify for UBI?

UBI is easier to administer than current systems because it is a simple payment. Opportunity for fraud are of course there, but with a stricter capture of identity electronically then it can be mediated automatically without any human staff. It is linked to income tax and declarations of sickness or unemployment, which can be fed into the system automatically. A field day for criminals? Well attempting to register a false identity becomes a bigger crime than it is today, as does identity theft.  police time is freed from petty crime conducted by subsistance marginalised peoples in order to feed or entertain themselves, to catching organised criminals and violent gangs.

Picking up on the last points from previous section then we see that a minimum gauranteed income would reduce beaurocracy and increase personal freedom. However what are the down sides of injecting this money at the lower end of the unskilled and semi skilled workforce ?


Lost draf critique of Neo Liberalism lord in the castle feudalism, barricaded utopia, bread line, violent social unrest and revolution

Economic Criticisms of UBI

The main argument against UBI from main stream centre right economists is that it renders people lazy. There is no compulsion to work for the basics of life, so many millions will choose this route and become state dependents. However this position is a fact of life in the two major Neo Liberal economies, the US and the UK already. Otherwise there would be social unrest when large numbers of people cannot put bread on their table and cover the cost of their rents.

There is a cultural counter agrument to conservative thinking of the ‘lazy bones society’- people want more than their basic subsistance, and strive for more. If you take away striving for basic survival then you find the large majority strive for more. It was always the intention of Blairite Brownite top up benefits to let people get more work experience and take up work, with the hope that many would be locked into the pay economy and not the benefits economy. This was not the case in reality over th elast two decades, as employers could reduce their costs by removing down time via zero hours contracts and seasonal employment, while still maintaining a willing (or often compelled) work force at this low cost.

Conservatives would then argue that this has to be paid for by taxes. Yes that is obvious. However how much does western society pay now and how inefficient are the state mechanisms for administering this? Proponents  also point to the drop in crime and the improvement to health because the poorest can come out of malnutirtion, those suffering back problems or stress from office jobs can choose a new lifestyle, prople can choose more time for sport and exercise.

It seems very utopian, unrealistic. Surely it would be overly tempting to turn on, tune in and sign up? The question the leaders of the new technological industries pose, is what are we going to do with all the people who do not have the ever higher level of skill and education required to run their businesses and utilise or service their technology?  Is the alternative not dystopian, where human life and effort is not valued in terms of say 20 / 30% of the working popuilation?


The Libertarian Rentier Economy Is the Reason UBI Could Fail

UBI also applies to handicapped people and when you are sick. So it sounds like a win win all round. Back up here though, we are like the Affordable Care Act, injecting large amounts of money into the economic system.

Here we come to the doyen concept of Neo Liberalism, the unfettered predominance and power of the rentier economy. The natural law for the powerful, the rich to extract more from our very existences rather than our productive output. Our housing, our transport, our water, our power, our basic staples and basic shopping. Trickle up, and when it concerns housing, often a torrent.

With no social housing policy or rent controls, UBI is an irresistable inflationary surge. In fact the rentiers themselves may libby for UBI as a means to flow more value in rent and asset worth up to them, in the way Walmart support welfare ‘rights’. Also it could lead to a new credit bubble if individuals lever their new secure income against consumer credit.
UBI becomes then self defeating it would seem, as its value is inevitably erroded by inflation, with no counter acting productivity gains?

Also would we see the spread of ‘internships’ where to gain skills ornexperience it is expected that you live on UBI?  Would we see a further displacement of labour in other sectors due to the availability of bored UBI’ers ? Would we see more work become part time and tenuous as employers learn to use those on UBI ?


more on the basics are covered and game theory

Market mechanistic theory would however also produce counter arguments to the erosion of the value of a UBI by inflation. Because a UBI is not tied to living in one place. Suddenly people in high rent areas can move to lower priced areas which they can afford. They also have time to build their own housing, and gain training to do so. People in work struggeling to make ends meett can vote with their feet and opt of UBI, reducing their income, but then also moving away from the over priced metropolitan and sunrise valley areas. So there are different countering market mechanisms to the possibilty for run away inflation. It gives a kind of ultimatum to capital – make employment pay or we will leave employment. Make jobs interesting and fulfilling or we will fulfill ourselves and find new economic activity from a base line of UBI.

Existentialism to the Rescue of UBI ?

To counter the inflation-anullation argument against UBI, we can see that people are no longer trapped in using their time to simply survive. They become more mobile. If rents go up in one area,they need not worry about moving to a cheap non metropolitan area. Or they may use their time to buildn their own house, and even lobby, organise and build housing in their communities. Free from beaurocratic demands to take low value work, they can take education and work practice in skilled trades while still feeding and housing themselves.

Today in most all western societies a black and white model of work and welfare has developed. You are either in work and trying to make ends meet, sometimes forced to accept what you can, or you are out of work on benefits.You are not allowed to keep benefits and work as you choose or as it becomes available.  Gordon Brown’s ‘make work always pay’ hss lead to more margjnalisation not less, it has locked millions into precarious personal economics and state dependency.

Here we also can consider what is happening with Face Book’s income and more specifically where it is coming from. By in large the corporates have not been hugely active on FB compared to Google and TV. When was the last time you saw a Coca Cola Advert on FB? Or had a ‘push post’ from General Electric without you Liking their profile?  Facebook have related to the media that much of their 8 billion dollar advertising spend comes from small enterprises. To them FB is cheap, less than ten dollars per thousand or more reach to views, and less than 20 dollars per conversion to sale,  or  per new  potentially loyal customer. The business is granular and below the radar of ‘anti corporate’ negaitve sentiment. If Fb are being candid, then we are not being spammed by the grey suits, we are being wooed by hipsters and spinster start ups on our FB newsfeeds.


Individual bargaining….lost in draft fail crash. Black mail, pay to play. game theory


Futurology on robots making robots automation removing capital control, excessive gross marhing for staff and profit removed,  Utopia behind the barricades


We have nboth utopian and dystopian visions, but the facts are in front of uis. Major western economies already have mechanisms of UBI for marginal workforce, disabled and chronically sick. Robotisation is going to replace thousands of unskilled/semiskilled and automation of more cranial operator tasks with software utilsing algorythms

Workfare policies becoming the norm for UBI and really getting back to slavery. Libertarian ppiint of view that it is then the govern,ment who are directing what people do at work, or perhaps employers as mentioned take up UBI instead of ordinary employees at minimal cost with an element of compulsion, and a lose lose for government tax returns as tax paying employees are displaced.

Market mechnisms or government could be replaced:  cost per service affordable vs tax and inefficient  or the need for major service management neo liberal compulsory compet tendering removed and competiton being for the mechatronics, the computer systems, which eventually enter dminishing returns



Armchair Virtual Cruising West Coast Scotland

Aye the nachts are faur drawin’ in like.

You can of course choose to pick you weather and have short days or dare I say, sail a little at night and really test your mettle, but the season for most is drawing to a close. 

If I were to pop in a boat in the Glesga Fair in 2018 then where would I go cruising? 

Torridon, Sheildaig of all Places …A Possible Destination en Virtual Route??

There is a long standing lust from racing days to actually spend time dropping hooks and sinking pints, or swinging on the chain with an anchor dram in hand in the wilderness along the coast lines and to the isles I have often hurtled past with eyes mostly fixed on spinnaker luff or genoa tell=tales. 

So on this little bucket list there are the places of family folklore I think I have blogged on before- the Treshnish, Tinker’s hole, Polldhorain. Then there is intertwined with this the Malt’s Cruise of course and the Ceilidh as a tie-date.

Which Hook Nooks Have I Raced Past ? (erm, literally…)

 But this all reeks of AWBs (average white bands, sorry boats!) queing to get into the anchorages and wobbling off the various new pontoons as if they just got off the bus at Anderston Terminal. In the Glesga Fair this all really doesnt appeal, and is far better accomplished in May and June, with an exemption say for a trip to Islay to do the distilleries there with the perty at the end, having raided Tallisker  along the way earlier.

Far better in the ‘Faur’ to get the heck out of these lower latitudes and sail north. 

In my mind’s eye there is a kind of blind spot for Harris, Benbecula, Barra. It is Terra Non Cognitosurrounded by Aqua Nova. There are the frightful Minches and the Mightly Atlantic beyond. Oh The Crinan Canal for me……those great ocean breakers would gie me the shakers. More than a blind spot, like a fog of fear out there. And completely unnecessarily. I once helmed an Impala out to Coll from Arisaig after being storm bound there for two days. The sea was NW and fairly monsterous at times, ‘specially on account of it being a beam reach. Nearing Coll they got steeper and a green mountain appeared I decided to take on the bow. That my friends was the Atlantic hitting shallower water and possibly adverse tide! So fright be taken! Been there and got the t-shirt.

The Fantastic Fantasy Cruise

So My cruise ? Clyde mooring or marina on the Friday afternoon before the fair saturday, provisioned well for four days with ‘hard-tack’ for five more. Ailsa Craig and Sanda to Port on an ebb tide I hope, and sailing through the night to breakfast and sleep at Gigha. A tootle around the island and a decision make it anouther night watch or two out past Dubh Artaig and Skerryvore weather permitting. 

This is some challenging sailing. Firstly the Sound of Jura on the right tide, then the course and caution with the weater and sea state out past all the ‘Bad Boghas’ – the rocks and skerries off Iona and Tiree. There after? Well perhaps Barra weather being clement, and a fine anchor spot in Castle Bay. Bound the be ahead of the Bavarians who are mostly trying to get into Caladh or Ardrishaig Sea Lock by now. No, this is not a floating caravan tour super market to super market. 

With good conditions and a flood tide in the Sea of the Hebrides and the Minches, then why not relax with less sail on a broad reach and eat and make merry on board. OFten when racing we do that of course, and when not racing it was usually delivering with hard tack and UHT milk before and after you came on watch. A cruise this as you see, for two experienced skippers and two good deck hands at least!

Now up to the filet of the tour. The Shiant Isles. I had no idea that the Minch between Skye and Harris was so nasty yet contains a major traffic lane for shipping taking a short cut, including the odd super tanker and oil rig! It is quite narrow compared to the Minch proper of course, but rocky too. And with the ‘charmed , blessed, enchanted’ islands of the Shiant archipeligo. A kind of poor man’s St. Kilda, and I admit to my ignorance, I had no idea such a pearl existed until a few days ago. A text would have sufficed and in fact I am somewhat bothered that images are already in my head from t’internet of this wonderful little world. 

From there in a NW or SW I would actually scoot over to another group of Charming Islands, the Summer Isles at Achiltibuie and enjoy a dinner at the famous hotel bar there, if not on the lawn kissed by sunshine.  In a Westerly, and lots of it, more tempting to head to the east coast of Harris and Lewis and explore there. 

From though the Summer Isles, a replenishment at Ullapool. Ole’s Pool has always been a land crab favourite of my, and featured along with the Five Sisters of Kintail in my fairwell to Caledonia. From the Viking’s bay, round then to Torridon, because that is where the photo above was taken. My dad, a whole lifetime ago, exploring and ‘staying ahead of the racing rabble’ 

There after Plockton was also a family kind of place on the map and then over to Talisker Destillery while we are here. The sound of sleet and then Arnisdale and maybe, maybe Hourn heid another spot on the 1970s tournerihng my dad did. 

The ‘small isles’ themselves and Loch Nevis are the matter of a different cruise than tonights, one which involves hill walking boots. So I am afradi now it all gets tawdry and failing the need to take in Arisaig – a difficult entrance that keeps many away from its eateries, PO, shop and walks to the sands of Morar., then it is on to Tob’ to share stories in the Mish’. 

I feel now civilisation would beckon, and small Isles with Iona is as said a nother tour altogether. No Mulling around this time, Terra Habilis, Oban beckons and a chance to change crew, milk the coo, shower and eat and be merry at a finer establishment, or budget dwindling, chippy and the North Pier. Poldohrain then for old times sake and an easy next day to then choose the tide well to Crinan. Canal for a day of ‘chust sublimeness’ before back to Caladh to gloat over the local small timers. An icecream at Roth’y and a bag of chips for the final afternoons tootle over to normality, humdrumness, land lubbing. 
Over Ambitious?

Well all this may seem a little over ambitious, but you have to put this in perspective of what my own father could achieve in the the two weeks of the Glasgow Fair, and what good lifers curcumnavigating get up to. Cruising in Scotland runs the risk on one hand, of getting too pussified with pontoons and close to shore sponsored moorings in every village. However it can be argued that this will take the hoi palloi away from the auld favourite wee hooks, expecially as inclement summer monsoon conditions seem to be the norm for late may through to mid august! 

Gigha to Shiants non stop will seem down right deranged to some readers who are used to the joys of island hopping and getting places before dark and before the tide changes. But in years of old, going back to the Vikings, sailors had to get where they were going before the storms of the equinox were upon them. 

No this trip needs planning, and it is not for the sea sick prone wife you may have, or kids under 9 years old. It is a challenge and full exposure to nature’s elements. Tides need to be taken into account with wind, motoring for battery charges and progress to tidal gates thought of, bolt holes and escape plans if the barometerr drops like a stone, a knowledge of shipping and fishing movements, a watch for whales and dropped cargo too.