Tag: Richard Murphy

Mature, healthy trees.

Continuing the metaphor that our trees offer us.

In yesterday’s post I offered up the idea that:

The analogy with planting trees is very apt. For any clown can plant the tree but parenting that young tree into a mature forty-foot high beauty takes professional management.

That post had been inspired by a recent essay over at Patrice Ayme’s Thoughts regarding the observation by Andy Grove, the founder of Intel, that promoting start-ups without the commensurate focus on growing those start-ups into viable commercial concerns was strategically and politically incorrect. Back to that essay for a further extract:

However, American-based manufacturing is not on the agenda of Silicon Valley or the political agenda of the United States. Venture capitalists actually told me it was obsolete (before stepping in their private jets). That omission, according to Mr. Grove, is a result of anotherunquestioned truism”: “that the free market is the best of all economic systems — the freer the better.” To Mr. Grove, or Mr. Trump, or yours truly, that belief is flawed.

Andy Grove: “Scaling used to work well in Silicon Valley. Entrepreneurs came up with an invention. Investors gave them money to build their business. If the founders and their investors were lucky, the company grew and had an initial public offering, which brought in money that financed further growth.” 

The triumph of free-market principles over planned economies in the 20th century, Mr. Grove said, did not make those principles infallible or immutable. There was room for improvement, he argued, for what he called “job-centric” economics and politics. In a job-centric system, job creation would be the nation’s No. 1 objective, with the government setting priorities and arraying the forces necessary to achieve the goal, and with businesses operating not only in their immediate profit interest but also in the interests of “employees, and employees yet to be hired.”

As even the New York Times now admits, the situation has degenerated since 2010. Although the employment rate halved, in a slave state, everybody is employed. But neither the economy, nor the society, let alone progress and civilization are doing better.

“Insecure, low-paying, part-time and dead-end jobs are prevalent. On the campaign trail, large groups of Americans are motivated and manipulated on the basis of real and perceived social and economic inequities.

Conditions have worsened in other ways. In 2010, one of the arguments against Mr. Grove’s critique was that exporting jobs did not matter as long as much of the corporate profits stayed in the United States. But just as American companies have bolstered their profits by exporting jobs, many now do so by shifting profits overseas through tax-avoidance maneuvers.

The result is a high-profit, low-prosperity nation. “All of us in business,” Mr. Grove wrote, “have a responsibility to maintain the industrial base on which we depend and the society whose adaptability — and stability — we may have taken for granted.” Silicon Valley and much of corporate America have yet to live up to that principle.”

If we return to that analogy of the tree, think how long and how much attention must be put into the conditions that will promote not only sustained growth of that young tree but growth to the point where it can propogate its own saplings.

As it is for young companies. The skills that company managers require to nurture that company to the point of self-sustaining maturity are many and varied. But they are underpinned by the need to be truthful and trustworthy, to be devoted to the employees of the company and to instill in all who work, and finance, that company to “love the customer”. Not just those customers that are the big spenders but also, and especially so, the many, many smaller clients that can make or break a company’s reputation.

So with that in mind let’s take a peek at USA LLC and UK Ltd.

Here are the closing paragraphs from Patrice’s essay:

Our corruption is not just an economic and social problem, a political problem, and a civilizational problem, as it was under Aristotle.  It is a problem for the entire planet.

We empowered a demagogue“, laments Mr. Kristof. His true calling, and that of the Main Stream Media, was to empower plutocrats, and their obsequious servants. How sad they are.

Patrice Ayme’

Then there is Richard Murphy in the UK who writes the blog Tax Research UK. In a recent post, entitled The Party Political Problem he opened, thus:

I like being outside the fray of party politics. I wasn’t born with a sufficient capacity for compromise to believe that any political party has all the answers to all questions. And yet, equally, I can admire those who can make the sacrifice to take part in this process. It is, for better or worse, at the heart of democratic politics.

That demands that it be done well. This requirement is predicated on three things. The first is a willingness to pretend you have the answer to all things. The second is a leadership that knows this is not true and which as a result respects its opponents. The third is an acute appreciation of the fact that compromise in pursuit of a higher goal, whilst saving face, is the ultimate political aim: nothing really happens without the accommodation of others.

He then closes his post:

Passion, dogma and steadfastness, come what may, are not what makes party politics.

Conviction based on wisdom, understanding and compassion does.

But these qualities remain in far too short supply, even if they’re not quite out of stock, yet.

And that’s the party political problem.

Many people both ‘sides of the pond’ would nod heads in agreement with that.

My final peek is into an essay that was recently published by the quarterly journal The Baffler. The essay was from David Graeber under the heading of Despair Fatigue. Opening:

Is it possible to become bored with hopelessness?

There is reason to believe something like that is beginning to happen in Great Britain. Call it despair fatigue.

For nearly half a century, British culture, particularly on the left, has made an art out of despair. This is the land where “No Future for You” became the motto of a generation, and then another generation, and then another. From the crumbling of its empire, to the crumbling of its industrial cities, to the current crumbling of its welfare state, the country seemed to be exploring every possible permutation of despair: despair as rage, despair as resignation, despair as humor, despair as pride or secret pleasure. It’s almost as if it’s finally run out.

and closing, thus:

Twenty-first century problems are likely to be entirely different: How, in a world of potentially skyrocketing productivity and decreasing demand for labor, will it be possible to maintain equitable distribution without at the same time destroying the earth? Might the United Kingdom become a pioneer for such a new economic dispensation? The new Labour leadership is making the initial moves: calling for new economic models (“socialism with an iPad”) and seeking potential allies in high-tech industry. If we really are moving toward a future of decentralized, small, high-tech, robotized production, it’s quite possible that the United Kingdom’s peculiar traditions of small-scale enterprise and amateur science—which never made it particularly amenable to the giant bureaucratized conglomerates that did so well in the United States and Germany, in either their capitalist or socialist manifestations—might prove unusually apt. It’s all a colossal gamble. But then, that’s what historical change is like.

In other words, it’s this!

One of the age-old maxims from professional company managers is:

It’s always a case of putting people before profits!

Putting people before profits should be in the front of the minds of all our leaders and masters; both sides of the ‘pond’.

Or in tree language investing in this:

Clown work! (This is a Red Maple, by the way!)
An American Red Maple sapling.

to achieve this:

A mature American Red Maple tree.
A mature American Red Maple tree.

Come on good people, we really do need healthy, mature trees in our 21st C. societies.

Maggie the teaching dog.

Two views of teaching in the United Kingdom.

The title to today’s post may be a tad misleading, for it doesn’t offer a guide to both aspects of the post.

But first to what prompted the title.

Earlier yesterday, Neil Kelly, friend from my days when I was living in South Devon, sent me a link to a recent BBC News item. Here’s the story:

Maggie the dog made honorary primary school teacher

28 December 2015 Last updated at 04:31 GMT

A dog has become so successful in helping children to read, that she’ has become an honorary member of staff at a school in the West Midlands.

The idea of getting pupils to read to dogs in order to improve their literacy was first tried out in the UK five years ago, but Maggie, a 10-year-old Shih Tzu, has become so successful that she now has her own staff badge at Earls High school in Halesowen.

Phil Mackie went along to meet Maggie, and Grace, another Shih Tzu, who’ is training to take over when Maggie retires.

Teaching Assistant Toni Gregory spoke on behalf of the two literary pups.

Unfortunately, the short video of Toni Gregory speaking hasn’t yet made it to YouTube so I can’t include that in the post. But do go across to here and watch the short interview with Toni. Here’s a picture of Maggie.

_87347683_87347682Moving on!

It’s difficult not to see the connection between Maggie offering teaching services in a UK school and this recent essay from Richard Murphy of the Tax Research UK blog. It is republished in full with Richard’s very kind permission.


The parents of primary school kids need to get very angry for their children

Posted on

Ninety three per cent of all children in the UK are taught in state schools. The parents of the other seven per cent may wish to pretend otherwise but the truth is that the prosperity, well being and future of the UK is dependent upon the ability of state schools to deliver the education our young people need. But, as the Guardian has reported, that is in jeopardy:

Britain’s leading expert on school recruitment has warned that a shortage of trainee teachers is reaching crisis levels in some of the most important subjects in the curriculum.

In evidence submitted to the parliamentary education select committee, TeachVac, an independent vacancy-matching and monitoring service for education professionals, said that it had identified a “woeful” lack of new teachers in several key secondary school subjects.

This is not a minor issue. As they note:

[TeachVac] has identified an 85% shortfall in the number of trainee teachers needed to fill vacancies in both business studies and social sciences. The number of new teachers for design and technology is also more than a third below what it needs to be and there is a 10% shortfall in the number of IT teachers required.

These are core subjects at the heart of the skill base the UK needs. And we may not be able to teach them.

There are three reasons for that. First, when the government portrays any job in the state sector as parasitical – and large parts of the media join in – any recruitment programme is going to be hard.

Second, student debt is crippling for those on what is thought to be middle pay, which is what many teachers can, at best, hope to earn.

And third, pay is just not good enough.

All of those are the direct result of policy. The first is ideological. The second is born of the desire to economically enslave people though debt which underpins neoliberalism. The third is the austerity mantra.

Put them together and this country will be crippled by denying an education to those who need and deserve it.

We need a new narrative.

The need to supply high quality education has to be at the core of that narrative.

I hope parents of those ten and younger realise what is going to happen to their children. It is not good, and they need to get angry, now.


It strikes me that we need new narratives on so many issues ‘both sides of the pond’. Maybe, just maybe, 2016 kicks some of these new narratives into play.