Monday, August 30, 2010

UM Studies Support National Health Programs

A University of Michigan (UM) study of workplace wellness programs, in a Midwest utility company, showed it pays to keep employees healthy—it saved $4.8 million over nine years—the program cost $7.3 million and it saved $12.1 million. Dee Edington, director of the UM Health Management Research Center and principal investigator, said the findings are good news for companies looking to implement wellness programs. Well, by the same token, isn't it good news that Obama has brought in the means for ensuring that the whole population stays healthier than it is?

The UM study showed wellness programs work long-term, even though the employees who participated aged during the study, and it showed that those who participated throughout benefited most. Companies are realizing that insurance plans to care for sick employees must include wellness plans to keep healthy workers healthy. Summing up the findings among employers, Edington said:

Employers want a benefit plan that will take care of sick people but also keep your healthy people healthy and working.

Another UM study found that the pressure to keep their jobs in times of high unemployment is stressing out hundreds of thousands of American workers. Workplace stress is estimated to cost US businesses about $300 billion a year through absenteeism, diminished productivity, employee turnover, and direct medical, legal and insurance fees. About 75 percent of Americans list work as a significant source of stress and more than half say their work productivity suffers due to stress.

But companies can benefit from alleviating workplace stress, and possible violence, among workers by providing complementary alternative benefits. Cindy Schipani, professor of business law at Michigan's Ross School of Business, said:

It would seem that a healthy, less stressed and collegial work force would be less prone to resolve conflicts by violence. Not only might stress reduction contribute to a more peaceful society, reduction of employee stress together with the promotion of good health may positively affect the bottom line.

Schipani and Ross School colleague Norm Bishara did a best practice study, looking at companies on the Forbes magazine list of the “best companies to work for” that offer complementary alternative benefits, above and beyond traditional benefits that create value in the workplace by implicating employee stress reduction and positively impacting health.

Complementary alternative benefits may include:

  • flexible work hours and working from home
  • employer-paid health care premiums
  • subsidized health care classes and health club memberships
  • onsite fitness centers and medical and dental clinics
  • paid leave time and special services for new parent employees
  • laundry and dry-cleaning services, valet parking and grocery delivery
  • discounted tickets to after-hours social activities, such as movies, plays, museums, sporting events and amusement parks.

Companies on the Forbes list that offer generous complementary alternative benefits enjoy a significant reduction in employee turnover, compared to the industry average. The average cost savings for the firms examined as a group was about $275 million in 2007. Bishara, assistant professor of business law and business ethics noted:

From a pure business perspective, complementary alternative benefits are attractive because reducing stress and, therefore, reducing costs associated with things like absenteeism, sick time and premature turnover, can increase profits.

Benefits accruing to the employer were:

  • lower employee turnover
  • higher worker productivity
  • reduced employee health care costs
  • healthier and less stressful lifestyles for employees
  • a sense of community among workers

Most of the actions and benefits here are specific to the employer, but if they work across large companies, it makes sense to allow them to work across society:

In addition to improving the lives of their employees and benefiting shareholders, providing employees ways to reduce stress and promote health may also have a positive impact on society.

Someone healthy enough to work could still cost an employer more than $4,000 annually in unnecessary health care costs. It makes sense for employers to reduce their own costs by supporting health benefits provided by the federal government, and competing then on making their workplace attractive to the best workers.

The University of Michigan also looked at how metabolic syndrome (MetS) and associated chronic disease can cost employers up to $5,867 annually in health care, pharmacy and short term disability, compared to $1,600 for a healthy worker. MetS is a collection of health risks that includes body mass index, cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure and triglycerides. The study was designed to determine the relationship between MetS and disease among employed adults. Health risk assessments were given to 3,285 employees in a Midwestern manufacturing company in 2004, and again in 2006. They hoped to determine whether employees with MetS would develop one of five chronic conditions—heart disease, diabetes, chronic pain, heartburn, or arthritis—associated with MetS.

Workers with MetS were significantly more likely to report arthritis, chronic pain, diabetes, heartburn and heart disease. If someone had MetS in 2004, they were much more likely to develop one of the associated chronic conditions by the second test in 2006. Study author, Alyssa Schultz, says workers in the study were just as likely to develop heart disease and diabetes as the general population. People in the general population with MetS are known to be more likely to develop health problems such as heart disease and diabetes without health intervention, but this is the first time the link has been studied and shown in working populations.

This finding challenges the supposed “healthy worker” effect that working people are healthier and more insulated from disease than the unemployed. Schultz said:

People with MetS cost employers money, but people with MetS and disease cost a lot more. It shows disease is an issue for corporations and other organizations, and they need to take action to help employees stay healthy.

A prevention and intervention program for at risk workers can cost as little as $150 a year per employee, according to the paper.

The important thing is to catch employees who have the risk factors before it escalates to a disease state. Keeping people healthy is much wiser then treating the illness or disease after it occurs.

It leads to improved vitality and quality of life for individuals, and cost avoidance for corporations in the form of lower health care, pharmacy and short term disability costs. Surely it follows, for employers as well as the employed and unemployed people who will come into the workforce when there is work available, that it must be good news if the general health of the population is improved by a federal health scheme. With all this plain evidence garnered directly from industry, is there so much irrational opposition to health care in the US, from both sides, ordinary people, and captains of industry.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

David Harvey on the Capitalist Crisis

David Harvey has had a series of short lectures made by RSA Animate into clever little animated movies, available at You Tube. They are educational and entertaining, and must be seen by anyone critical of our excessively bent system. Jail the Bankers!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

War Criminal Blair Tries to Buy Redemption

Catholic Demon tries to buy Sainthood.

This man along with his master, George Bush, went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, causing the deaths of myriads of innocent people, and disrupting and destroying  what had been a stable country, albeit under a dictator supported for decades by the US. He has reaped his reward addressing conventions of rich Republicans, advising banks and businesses, getting unknown expenses and no one knows what other rewards as a so called Middle East ambassador for Israel the United Nations, and now getting an advance on his memoirs of around £5 million. This latter sum and any additional royalties from the book, he has donated to a military charity for damaged servicemen, of which there are quite a number to add to those who are dead. Some of the families of dead soldiers say this is blood money.

Charles Taylor, a petty but cruel dictator of another country, Liberia, is standing trial for much lesser crimes than Blair and Bush, supporting the bloody rebellion in neighboring Sierra Leone, financed allegedly by “blood diamonds”, where Blair, attempting to imitate his heroine, petit bourgeois Tory shopkeeper, Margaret Thatcher, by sending in a British battalion, got his first taste for military glory.

If this petty murderer is standing trial, then why isn’t Blair and his puppet master G W Bush. Impeach the War Criminals and have them face a judge and jury too.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

True Messianic Jews Oppose Zionism!

Rabbi Moses Jakubowicz has a short article on the website, True Torah Jews against Zionism entitled “Judaism is a Religion—Not a Race”. Throughout history, whoever joined the Jewish religion was called a Jew, no matter what his race, and whoever abandoned the Holy Torah was not considered a Jew. In fact, the biggest names in Jewish history were converts or descendants of converts—King David, Zipporah, Rabbi Akiva, Rabbi Meir, Shmaya and Avtalyon. Jewish people suffered many a time from fanatically religious governments who expelled or killed whoever refused to adhere to their religious belief, during the Middle Ages. Judaism is therefore a religion, not a race.

Now, Jewish people suffer from the world’s misunderstanding of the distinction between Judaism and Zionism. It is Zionists, for their own political and financial advantage, who have made Jews into a race. They have also changed the Torah, a book of divine law which teaches fairness, peace and piety, into propaganda for their political goals, and their claim to Palestine, helping to foment antisemitism, which is their intention. Jew hating drives Jews to Israel!

When Bush visited Israel, in 2008, several rabbis of the extremist Zionist settler community wrote asking the US President not to put any pressure on the Israeli leadership to yield land concessions to the Palestinian Authority. Yet, this is land Zionist Jews took from the Palestinians in the first place. They explained that he would be asking Israel to make concessions to terrorists while the US itself had announced a war on terror! Yet, Jewish terrorists, like those responsible for the bombing of the King David Hotel, drove out the Arabs so that the land would be free for grabbing by the Zionists, allegedly with biblical authority.

These Zionist rabbis compared the US President to Nebuchadnezzar and Titus, respectively the Babylonian king and the Roman general who became emperor of Rome, each of whom destroyed Jerusalem, implying that Bush would be doing the same. They ended:

You must surely remember that America does not benefit from causing damage, Heaven forbid, to the Jewish people and its land. If you help the wholeness of our holy land, we promise you and your country endless blessings.

These Zionist “rabbis” think they are God, trading his blessings for land, like beads to a savage. Rabbi Jakubowicz accused the authors of this letter of being rabbis in name only. They presumed to speak in the name of the Jewish religion, but the world must not allow itself to be fooled. They were “politicians and militants advancing their own agenda, for which they are distorting the Holy Torah and by doing so they are jeopardizing the Jewish people in the entire world as the Zionists did in the Second World War”.

Zionists desperately drum up support for Israel in the US, and try to convince Jews that they should be in Israel fighting to evict the Arabs. The pressure against Iran regarding their alleged nuclear weapons program is orchestrated by US Zionists and Israel, just as there was an orchestrated campaign of lies against Iraq, on the grounds of WMD which were never found. They simply did not exist, and the weapons inspectors had said they did not, and needed only a short while more to prove it conclusively. Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful, and has made several proposals regarding it that would be acceptable to any reasonable power.

Despite the pressure and propaganda, hundreds of thousands of Israelis have emigrated to other countries with no plans to return. “Jews against Zionism” says the Zionist Absorption Ministry, once famous for bringing millions of Jews to the State of Israel and providing them with housing and employment, has said that around 20,000 Israelis emigrate each year. 650,000 Israelis live abroad, 450,000 in North America. The Ministry is struggling unsuccessfully to recover these expatriates.

All these former Zionists have admitted their mistake in setting up the state of Israel contrary to what observant Jews consider God’s will. These true Jews think it was a grave error to want to anticipate God’s plan and try to force God’s redemption before its time. The Zionists ought to hear the prophet Yirmiyahu, who says in the name of God:

They have left Me, the source of fresh water, to dig themselves broken pits that will not hold water.
Yirmiyahu, Jeremy 2:13

Only when God is ready will Jews see the fulfilment of the verse:

And those redeemed by God will return and come to Zion with song, with eternal happiness on their heads.
Yishaya 35:10

The objection of true Jews to Zionism is twofold:

  1. Zionism, by advocating a political and military end to the Jewish exile, denies the divine basis of the Jewish Diaspora. Jews are in exile because God decreed it, and may emerge from exile solely by divine redemption. All human efforts to alter this divine command must end in failure and bloodshed. History repeatedly bears out this teaching.
  2. Zionism has created a pseudo-Judaism with nationalism being a new secular foundation of Jewish identity, not God and his law. So, Zionism and Israel have persistently tried, by persuasion and coercion, to replace a divine and Torah centered understanding of Jewishness with an armed material militancy.

No reasonable and intelligent Jew—and Jewish culture has always produced plenty of people meeting these criteria—would want to stay in Israel for a second, if they were not fanatical Zionists, utterly indoctrinated by them, or feel trapped in a lobster pot. Jews are citizens of the world, and have always been. Israelis should be proud to be Diaspora Jews, like their ancestors, millions of whom died for the right to free thought, benefiting the whole world. Proper Jews, the true Jews of the Torah, still looked forward to the messianic age, when Jerusalem would be “a house of prayer for all nations” (Isaiah 56:7). Zionists should abandon the false and ungodly state of Israel—at least until the the Jewish Messiah has announced his presence!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Hidden Persuaders

The mention of manipulating the people reminded me that Vance Packard wrote in 1957 (The Hidden Persuaders) that Americans had become the most manipulated people outside the Iron Curtain. The Iron Curtain was pulled open in 1990, so who absolutely are the most manipulated people in the world now? In fact, the people of the Soviet Zone were not so much manipulated as given no choice about what they could think. They were fed one viewpoint, the Marxist-Leninist one approved by the state, and that does not require much in the way of manipulation, or is the crudest form of it. Western manipulation was, and remains, more subtle.

Nominally, we in the west can do, say and read whatever we like, though, in practice we do not. The range of viewpoints offered to us as acceptable to reason—ie not extreme—is remarkably narrow and skewed frighteningly toward the right. It is, of course, the product of manipulation. The acceptable US conservatism of the Republican Party verges on fascism to Europeans. Indeed European fascists are encouraged by what they see in the US. Equally liberalism is dangerously socialist to the average American. Even many Democrats seem hardly democratic to Europeans used to a wider range of acceptable political options. For Americans, socialism, and—God Forbid!—communism are not acceptable at all. When the whole of the left wing of politics has been manipulated out of existence, what remains of democracy? Socialism and communism are forbidden and liberalism is considered a dangerous aberration from the American Dream that everyone can be a millionaire, leaving the choice between liberalish conservatism and fascistic conservativism.

Unfortunately, the American Dream can only ever remain a dream for most of the dreamers. The reason is the distribution curve of wealth. Unless some attempt is made to change this distribution curve to give the poorer people a greater share of the wealth than they have at present, few people have any chance of getting further towards the rich end of the scale, the nature of which is that only a small proportion of the population are rich while the large bulk of people are close to average or are below it. Redistribution of wealth to the poor means squashing the distribution to make it narrower. More people are average and fewer are rich or poor. For everyone to be rich, everyone would also be poor. There would be no difference between them and the American Dream will have been attained.

It would mean everyone had the same, and the distribution of wealth would have become ideally communistic. Thus the American Dream is attainable only when America becomes communist, and so it is in contradiction with the propaganda of the megarich classes and their publicity agents in the media and academia. The American Dream is a propaganda pipe dream. It suits the rich to spread the fantasy that every American can be rich. It keeps them onside as supporters of capitalism against socialism, but it is pure manipulation. No one will want to criticize a system which notionally allows them to join the megarich, so the alternatives are beamed out constantly as unacceptable and contrary to the American dream, and lotteries and celebrity reality shows let them think it is all just so easy!

And the class of the megarich is largely now a caste made up of the descendants, the kids and grandkids, of pioneers and entrepreneurs who once had a good idea to benefit themselves, and the community at the time. Now the kids own their grand pappy’s earned wealth and have done nothing to earn it themseves. They just pay a little of it to their publicity agents and politicians to protect the system that benefits them. This caste has one idea only, and that is to protect their inherited wealth and status.

Newspapers and advertisers use psychological methods to manipulate public opinion, and now the internet is providing new and comprehensive ways of obtaining information about people’s preferences to allow them to be manipulated more effectively. The American Dream is one such method, an old one but evidently still effective, not least because some people can occasionally find their way through the system into the top class. There they join the old school and begin to sponsor their publicity agencies.

Even with their huge propaganda armory, the leaders of the megarich political class, Leo Strauss’s “Gentlemen”, are not averse to straightforward lying. Strauss’s school of neoconservatives even boasted about the myths they created to keep the gormless masses onside. “Myths&rdquo = “Lies”. Few people in the USA seemed to notice, or create a fuss, and those who did got minimal publicity, so as not to rock the gravy boat. Saddam’s WMD was one such myth, and probably al-Qaida was another, but unfortunately one that dissident Islamists thought was quite a good myth—for them! They took to saying they were this or that branch of it.

The American public are now like Pavlov’s dogs. They are conditioned! And what the Americans do, we all do a little later!

Tony Judt is Dead

Talking is the point of existence.
Tony Judt

Tony Judt, the progressive historian, has died of a form of motor neurone disease. He described himself thus:

I am regarded outside New York university as a Looney Tunes leftie, self-hating, Jewish communist. Inside the university, I am regarded as a typical old-fashioned, white male liberal elitist. I like that.

It is likely that Judt has not moved a lot since he was a boy in south London. What has moved is the center of gravity of politics. Being a liberal was, until a few decades ago, being in the center of the political spectrum. Now, especially in the USA, it is to be a Looney Tunes leftie. The center of gravity of American politics especially has moved so far right, that most of the Republican party sound like raving Brownshirts.

I think what we need is a return to a belief, not in liberty, because that is too easily converted into something else… but equality—equality, which is not the same as sameness. Equality of access to information, equality of access to knowledge, equality of access to education, equality of access to power and politics. We should be more concerned than we are about inequalities of opportunity, whether between young and old, or those with different skills, or from different regions of a country. It is another way of taking about injustice. We need to rediscover a language of dissent.
Tony Judt

Three cheers to all that! Can it be achieved though without overthrowing the established order? A language of dissent might be needed to express it, but capitalism and society are mutually antagonistic, and, if the dissent does not lead to action, then western society will collapse or only a successful revolution will have prevented it.

Sounds Familiar: Aneurin Bevan in 1959

I have enough faith in my fellow creatures in Great Britain to believe that when they have got over the delirium of the television, when they realize that their new homes that they have been put into are mortgaged to the hilt, when they realize that the moneylender has been elevated to the highest position in the land, when they realize that the refinements for which they should look are not there, that it is a vulgar society of which no decent person could be proud, when they realize all those things, when the years go by and they see the challenge of modern society not being met by the Tories who can consolidate their political powers only on the basis of national mediocrity, who are unable to exploit the resources of their scientists because they are prevented by the greed of their capitalism from doing so, when they realize that the flower of our youth goes abroad today because they are not being given opportunities of using their skill and their knowledge properly at home, when they realize that all the tides of history are flowing in our direction, that we are not beaten, that we represent the future: then, when we say it and mean it, then we shall lead our people to where they deserve to be led!

Nothing much changes, or has changed, in the intervening fifty years except that Bevan’s Labour Party was sold out to Blair’s New Labour party, which more appropriately should have been called Not Labour. Blair made the Labour party into a neoconservative party, and brought about the state of affairs Bevan predicted. Now we have five neoconservatives, or at least four and an opportunist, standing for the leadership of the New Labour party. So nothing will change. Labour voters have always mostly been dupes of the Oxbridge middle classes. Maybe, it is time they trusted to a few socialists instead, or even thought about politics instead of watching the “delirium” of reality and “celebrity” TV.

The recent vast bailouts to the world's bankers certainly show that the moneylenders have taken over, and already they are making vast profits and, of course, bonuses. Why should they get bonuses for these profits? The Bank Rate is set in the UK to 0.5 percent, so anyone with money in the bank will get this meagre rate of interest. Yet the bank can lend it to businesses, not usually British ones, at anything up to 10 percent, earning an automatic profit of 9.5 percent, or at least a substantial one for doing nothing to earn it. The bank of England sets the bank rate for the benefit of the banks, and they benefit, but what have they done to merit any bonuses? It is yet another banking scam.

Meanwhile, the new British Tory government, with the help of their chums who own the media, like Rupert Murdoch, propagate the myth that the country is bankrupt, and swinging cuts must be made, notably in unemployment and other benefits for the poor. In this way, the anger of the people at being mugged by bankers is diverted to anger at the unemployed for drawing benefits! How easy it is to manipulate the masses.

No cuts would be needed at all if the government retrieved from the banks what it gave them, if it taxed the billionaire hangers on who come from places like the former Soviet Union with chests of ill-gotten cash—the so-called oligarchs, if it taxed our own British megarich more progressively, and if it legislated against the scams and loop holes that the wealthy use to multiply their wealth at the expense of the lower and middle classes.

There is nothing at all complicated about this. You do not need a degree to understand it, yet the British today claim it is all too complicated. One has to conclude on the contrary that people are too lazy to think for themselves and too ready to accept what they read in their newspapers, and see on the television news.

Bevan saw it all, and sadly, the way the Labour party got taken over by Blair and Brown, there was nothing to stand in the way of it. Resurrecting Labour will be harder than resurrecting Christ, so maybe a new left wing party is needed. The Germans seem to be heading in that direction. It needs to begin with a Clause 4. If anyone does not know what it is, maybe they should Google it!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Rules of Chaos in Afghanistan Today

Stephen Vizinczey wrote “The Rules of Chaos”, a much quoted book, which considered the problems offered by the Vietnam War. So Vizinczey can claim some authority as an analyst of American political and military strategies. An article by him in the UK Daily Telegraph, a broadsheet not known for leaning leftwards, had the headline:

Afghanistan is an unwinnable war, and our leaders know it. The only consequence of long-term conflict in Afghanistan, and anywhere else, is to increase the number of our enemies

For Vizinczey, the war in Afghanistan was lost long ago. The reason is one that is so plain to see that it is surprising Americans have not worked it out for themselves, even the rednecks with the IQ of a passenger pigeon who often call themselves Republicans. It is what Vizinczey calls an iron law of human conflict—almost everyone hates it when foreigners occupy their country forcing them to do what they do not want to do. People like to rule themselves, and anyone in a democracy ought to be glad to let them get on with it. Not Americans, though. They suffer from a self centered blindness that allows them to see good only in their own acts, however barbarous they might be, and blinds them to the complaints of others that they are indeed acting barbarously.

The aim of some New York Moslems to demolish an old tenement and convert it into a Moslem center, including a mosque, has some other New Yorkers objecting on the grounds that it is an insult to 3000 dead Americans, killed in the 9/11 atrocity of 2001. The Moslems wanting to build the Islamic center are not the ones who killed the 3000 Americans—they are, in fact, mainly Americans themselves. The Americans who object think it is insensitive that Moslems want to build a mosque so close to “ground zero”. As ever, these Americans can only see the motes in the eyes of the Moslems they consider as their antagonists. They never see the beams in their own eyes.

An imam suggested that Americans had some responsibility for the original atrocity, but few of them could see that, and accused him of being a terrorist himself! Killing 3000 innocent people is an incomprehendable and unpardonable act, but the killing of 2,000,000 Vietnamese was a shocking failure of “the good guys’” will. It is not at all evil to kill 2,000,000 peasants in a foreign land—their own—but to have the temerity to mount an effective retaliation when the Americans had used Zionists for decades to kill and humiliate Moslems in Palestine labels all Moslems as terrorists and their sympathizers. Americans cannot see that what is good for the goose is good also for the gander.

Why then does Obama persist in protracting the agony? Ignorance, perpetuated by the baneful influence of the US megarich class via their ownership of the media, the op-ed influence of their gentlemen servants among the academies, and the open scheming of the Washington caste of professional politicos. That is the thinking of the otherwise thoughtless, conditioned Pavlovian style. The ignorant majority, taking all its cues from the megarich, then forces any progressive US presidents to go with its views. Needless to say, this majority is gung ho about foreign invasions, persuaded that they are angels and the rest of the world are devils.

Obama continues the Afghan war because too many Americans have been persuaded by the gaggle of oil barons and gunrunners that rule the country that just one more push will bring victory. More troops are sent, more money spent on armaments, and energy demanding manufacturing, keeping the gunrunners and oil moguls happy, and US unemployment lower than the depression levels it would otherwise reach. No one seems to think the whole country, not to mention the peasants of Afghanistan, and unfortunates elsewhere suffering US torture and oppression, would be better off if workers manufactured socially useful products by working in health and welfare.

Vizinczey pointed out that there has to be a shared purpose between a population and the invading armies for an invasion to triumph. When the Americans fought in Europe, they were not fighting the people, who were themselves thoroughly opposed to the Nazi occupation. The Americans fought for over a decade in Vietnam and lost because they were fighting practically the whole people, not—as the propaganda made out—an invading army from the north, the communists. The situation was the same in Iraq, even though there was at first a considerable body of people glad to be shut of Saddam. The long period of US sanctions that had not harmed Saddam or his own cronies but only ordinary Iraqi children, the old, and the poor, alienated many. Subsequent murderous attacks like that on Fallujah alienated the rest.

It is still the same in Afghanistan. The propaganda story is the usual manifest rubbish, so easily believed by the brain dead redneck, that outsiders called Al Qaida, were causing the trouble, and the people welcomed them being attacked by the allies. As there turned out to be no one from Al Qaida conveniently handy to shoot, soon the enemy had become the Taliban, but they too were outsiders, or at least were morally—most people, especially women and children, did not want them to resume their oppressive rule. But the US soldier has never been bothered to distinguish one gook or raghead from another.

Now there are few Afghans who do not support the Taliban, because everyone wants the US and its allies out, and it is the Taliban who are determined enough to try to effect their eviction. Even Afghan soldiers are not interested in serving the putridly corrupt Hamid Karzai government, favored by the Americans. Why should it come as a shock that Afghan soldiers turn around and shoot the occupiers? These are the impatient ones. The patient ones are simply waiting until they get some autonomy, then they will get rid of the corrupt Karzai, and use their weapons to revert to home rule!

It’s simple enough—every enemy killed in a foreign country increases the number of enemies exponentially. In Afghanistan, the parents, the in-laws, the relatives of the dead, turn against the West. They may not take up arms and they may not join the Taliban, but they will certainly not oppose anybody who wants to kill the men who killed their loved ones.
Stephen Vizinczey

The military documents revealed by Wikileaks show what is obvious to everyone except a Yankee—Nato has been promoting Islamism by the day. Vizinczey argues that Bush would never have started the Aghan war without a deep faith in US invincibility. Faith, for a lunatic Christian, like Bush, and many more uncritical Americans is the appropriate word. They entertain the belief that “the good guy always wins”. Like the neoconservative belief that the truth is what you decide it to be, this is utterly self destructive. It requires the facts to be ignored in favor of hope and prayers—it conditions them to disregard all contrary evidence, just as Bush did over Saddam’s WMD.

The idiotic excuse for the war is the supposed necessity of defeating terrorists at source. Yet the terrorists who have been found in the UK have all been British Moslems, mainly of Pakistani descent. At home, terrorists can be tailed, their phones tapped, they can be seen on surveyance cameras, their language is our own. Were they to succeed, their success does not get them allies but angers the mass of the people. The truth is that we can fight terrorists here at home because the people are predominently on the side of legality, even the Moslems, reluctant though some are to accept that the Quran can be read in shocking ways by extremists.

In the UK only lunatics support bombing innocent people as long as we have effective democratic methods of protest available. The similar but more serious threat from the northern Irish nationalists, who felt they were justified in bombing because the political system of northern Ireland had been heavily weighted against them, did not cause anything like the panic in government circles as the present Islamist threat, despite being more destructive. In fact, in the streets, neither threat bothered many people at all. London had been blitzed by Hitler and had not yielded. A few IRA bombs was unlikely to cause a panic. The same remains true of the Islamic threat.

The real danger has always been that governments will suppress democratic rights in the so called war against terrorism to such an extent that Parliament and the police lose popular backing. Then either the government falls, or it becomes utterly oppressive. That is now a much greater danger than any threats from terrorists.

Britons are Confused by Excessive Choice

A report based on the views of 6,000 people conducted by the University of Bristol sponsored by the price comparison site has found that people in the UK are overwhelmed by choice and information.

Focus groups of adult men and women, some of whom were parents and others older, were asked how they coped with the choice offered them. Almost half (47%) said they could not make decisions about every day life. Politics baffled 65% of people, and bankers’ bonuses and interest rates confused 69%. Modern expressions were also often confusing.

Wales (84%) was the most confused region of the UK, with the South East next (82%). Northern Ireland was the least confused (73%). 84% of women were confused compared with 72% of men. But confusion decreases with age as people gain experience and confidence. Young people were more confused, nearly half of those aged 18-24 lying awake agonising over choices, compared to 34% of those aged 55-64.

British governments since Margaret Thatcher’s, but especially in the neothatcherite, neoconservative “New Labour” period of the odiously opportunistic T Blair, have complicated matters for the ordinary person with their bonfires of regulations, and their plethora of new laws introduced under the excuse of giving us more choice. The choice is of sharks to consume our earnings more easily and less honestly, and governments to control us all, not merely terrorists!

The most laughable was the destruction of the health service under the guise of choice. No one cares about choosing, when they are ill. They want the nearest most accessible hospital to be of the same high standard as any other, so that choice is superfluous. Choice was Blair’s way of undermining a universal health service in the UK so that separate trusts—read independent market driven medical units—could be set up, ready for their privatization. Education was the same.

It was especially true of financial services, which are now so complicated to hide the various get rich quick scams they contain for so called financial advisors, banks and insurance comapanies that only experts can understand them, and, it seems that the financiers themselves often do not.

The confusion of excessive choice is now creating opportunities for entrepreneurs like those at to help people through the minefields they now unnecessarily face. People are so confused by the choice they are incapable of making decisions. These “indeciders” are confused to the extent that they cannot decide among the excessive range of choices they are offered. They often end up plumping for something that is far from suitable, but lets some financial crook make a comfortable unearned income. The poor punter realizes their choice has been dodgy, and end up falling into a state of depression. Professor Harriet Bradley of Bristol University’s Sociology department said:

With a constant stream of new media, daily technological advancements and aggressive multimedia advertising, it’s no wonder that over half of Britain thinks life is more confusing for them than it is for their parents. We really are becoming a nation of “indeciders”.

Reported by

Tuesday, August 3, 2010