Monthly Archives: April 2007

You, Me and the Bank Manager – The true state of our economy

We wake up this morning to find out two things – ‘The richer you are, the easier it is to get more rich’ (duh! As the kids would say). And that ‘we are all living beyond our means’. Oh alright then – we might as well all roll over and go back to sleep now…….

The annual ‘Everybody Who Has More Money Than Me/I List’ has come out and yet again (grrrrrrrr!) I am nowhere to be found. Number One is a steel magnate who is so powerful and wealthy that no one has had the nerve to say ‘now about that hairdo’. Number Two is a Russian who despite his wife just relieving him of enough of his fortune (for bad behaviour) and earning her own place on the list – is still worth 10.8 billion pounds. And Number Three is the ever enigmatic and elusive Duke of Westminster – who by the way if anyone knows him please let him know that Morag would like to come around for a cup of tea and a biscuit. Read a profile on him last year and he sounds like an incredibly decent, deep and caring man who gives of himself and his money to help others less fortunate (no snide remarks about ‘that means all of us then’).

Philip Beresford (who complies the list), said that the richer you are is the easier it is to get more rich. Well yes and no. There is another economic theory that says if you put all the wealth of the world on a table and divvied it up equally that within a couple of years the majority of it would have found its way back into the hands it originally came from. Yes a few of us might sneak in but in the main most of us would pretty much be in the same position we were in before.Why is that? Because wealth is a mindset more than anything else. If you want to be one of the few who would move from one side of the table to the other you could do worse than going on Amazon and spend 6 pounds picking up a book called The Secret by Rhonda Byrne and turning to the finances chapter. It is basically a compilation of thoughts from the Bible through to Einstein on how to get certain things in your life and/or helping you identify why you don’t have certain things in your life. I am trying to put the principles in place and have already gotten a new secondhand bike – today a bicycle, tomorrow a Bentley. If it works for any of you I’ll expect a cut of the profits – cash in an envelope please to Miss Morag Mindbender……….

Our other bit of wisdom –and one I put much stock in – comes from Peter Spencer, chief economic adviser at the ITEM Club, which is an economic forecasting group backed by Ernst and Young. He says that as a nation we are skating/wobbling on thin ice because most of us are living beyond our means. Basically all this ‘Gordon Brown is a hero because we all have more dosh’ is a load of codswallop. Most of us don’t really have more dosh at all but the system has been skewed to enable us to live as we do.

I know I always sound like someone’s granny when I start banging on about how we spend money but it really is true and I am thrilled to hear a chief economic adviser to anyone say what I’ve been saying for a while now. If we don’t all stop it we are going to wake up one morning in a terribly awful position. I shall trundle out my favorite example – collective yawn from those at the back but I don’t care repetition is the mother of knowledge.

‘When our parents were young’ if they wanted to make a major purchase – say a refrigerator, they trundled out to investigate. They saw how much it cost, they went home and saved up for a year, they trundled back out a year later cash in hand and made the purchase. This meant that knew EXACTLY how much something really cost. And exactly what it took to achieve it. Nowadays if I want a new fridge I go on the internet before leaving for work, order it, pay a special delivery charge because I’m so damn impatient and want what I want and I want it right now. And by the time I return from work my new fridge is whirring away. I cannot tell you how much it really cost, and having it or achieving it has not caused a ripple in my life. Well of course this sort of thing is addictive so we have become a nation of people who buy without thinking and pay without knowing. So what we have basically done is developed the mindset of wanting to live the life of wealth without the mindset on how to acquire it. Thin ice – you betcha and there’s going to be a lot of us swimming in deep water quite soon if we don’t watch out.

Is there a solution – of course there is – isn’t there always? Here we go – in a quick paragraph and yes it is this simple:

‘Things’ aren’t what we really want – it’s the state of mind we believe having these ‘things’ will bring us to. Find easier, more meaningful, and cheaper ways to achieve the desired state of mind and you won’t need to spend all that money. Does that sound familiar? Yes – money has now become the drug of choice for most of us, now how scary is that?



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The Ten Times Rule and Banjo Bob

‘…here I lie where I long to be, (in my own bed)………… Morag has now returned to the blogworld – permanently. Two day suitcase change and she was off to the Yankland to attend a funeral service that had Mick Jagger and Henry Kissinger delivering eulogies – Eric Clapton playing and Phil Collins, Bette Midler, Crosby/Stills/Nash and Young, Ben E.King, Kid Rock (to name a few) singing – only in America. Even in death Bigger, Brasher, more Over-the-Top than any one person/place/or thing has the right to be.

Love it or hate it you’ve occasionally got to respect America’s balls and that is what I set out to do. I wanted to see if I could get past 9/11, George W., and all the things that have set most right-minded folk against America in the past few years and get a view on what America is really thinking now. For personal and emotional reasons (death of a friend – hatred of Bush) I have not been to New York in 7 years.

Despite living there for many a year my views of current America have, like many of us, become coloured by UK television which insists on portraying the majority of Regular Folk (i.e. folk not in ER or Lost) – as a nation of fat cretins without access to a passport or a pair of long-trousers. This truly is unfair – even though there were a few decades when English men were portrayed on US television (in the main) as lace handkerchief waving, yappy-dog carrying, mascara wearing young men 🙂 Of course there are many fat cretins but Yankland is much more complex than that and it is possibly the habit of not giving credit where credit is due that has enabled them to sneak past sensible folk and wrest control from the rest of the world of certain situations they have no business controlling.

I’m not going to take your time up with stories of the lady on the bus who decided to tell us all that in two days she was going to be 93 and the bus breaking out in applause. Nor am I going to go on about the general level of communication, helpfulness, friendliness and openness that now exists in NY. Believe me 9/11 has changed America. It has humbled her peoples – except for the yahoos running the joint of course – and they are whom we now need to focus on.

America is like the overly exuberant toddler that the proud parents bring to the wedding. However lovable it might be, it will most likely wreak havoc. Yes the US is a separate country than the one in which we pick up our post but as the last few years have shown us as long as the UK insists on this ‘special friendship’ – it is almost as important to the residents of Cleveland, England as Cleveland, Ohio who the next President is going to be.

In November 2008 the US is going to go the polls to see who is going to replace the current Banjo Bob (a Morag-ism used to describe grinning fools in positions of power) and the race is already proving a more interesting one than any before. We have a handsome, young Mormon (handsome and young very important to US voters – think JFK). We have a man with a wife who has cancer (Yanks love a tale with emotional overtones). A woman who held her head high while her husband’s peccadilloes were paraded in front of a nation (think cigars and dry-cleaning) – oh and whose aforementioned husband just happened to be president. Then there’s A Black Man (well there’s just not any more that needs to be said there, at least not until you’ve sat down and had a cool drink). And this is just the beginning.

On Thursday night, in South Carolina, at Rep. Jim Clyburn’s Annual Fishfry (you couldn’t make that up could you) – the Democrats are going to have their first debate. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Christopher Dodd, Joseph Biden, Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel are going to strut their stuff.

Don’t waste too much time worrying about who the others are – for now concentrate on the first three. But keep one very important axiom in mind in this race – The Ten Times Rule, important in every walk of life – but even more so in politics.

Listen carefully: ‘If one is different to the majority in any way – be it gender, religion, ethnicity – one will ALWAYS need to be Ten Times better than the nearest’. How does this apply in politics? Hillary and Barack would have to be 10 xs more clever, 10 xs more bloody-minded. Have 10 xs more support; be surrounded by 10 xs more loyal and powerful lieutenants. They would have to be 10 xs more lovable. Ten times more strong to take what will be hurled at them. Their noses will have to be 10 xs cleaner. They will need to have 10 xs more people willing to get up off their backsides to go out and vote for them. And last, but most important – they’ll need to be 10 steps closer to God because only he could get either of them into the White House.

So the moral of the story? If you think that either of these two people can tick ALL the boxes on The Ten Times checklist, then relax and go back to trying to figure what the hell is going on on East Enders (?) But if, like me, you think hmmmmmm…… then you might want to keep an eye on this election. Much of what we are struggling with now on these shores, is a direct result of our relationship with who is president on those shores so while we may think it isn’t really any of our business – sadly it sort of is. They’ll be getting rid of the granddaddy of the Banjo Bob’s – let’s just hope they don’t replace him with another………….


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“JOIN THE NAVY SEE THE WORLD!” – The Price of Dignity

There was a time in the last century when the armed forces became extremely unfashionable. A combination of the Swinging 60’s, the disaster that was the Vietnam War, slogans like ‘Make love not war’; all contributed to a general feeling that joining the forces was now seriously uncool. This also came about at the same time that the powers of advertising were starting to realise just how powerful they could be so the two parties sat down at the table. Advertising and the Armed Forces.

Numbers falling short – what do we do? A bit of mindbending might be in order…………

‘Why are numbers short ?’ The Armed Forces are no longer cool – Solution – make it cool. ‘What are people now interested in?’ Travel, a career, education, money. Perfect – we’ll give it to them. We’ll get them to understand/ comprehend/swallow that joining the Forces is an opportunity to do/have all these things. You’ll travel the world. You’ll learn skills that set you up for life when you leave. You’ll meet wonderful people, make lifelong friendships. You will be respected in society and most importantly you’ll have just as much (if not more) fun as those long-haired hippie-freak anti-war friends of yours. Sooooooooooooooooo

Fast forward to 2007.

Well we’re in a fine pickle aren’t we? It is very difficult to embarrass Morag and she is not given to bouts of extreme national feeling. However I am now embarrassed, ashamed and saddened. How and when did we become a nation where it is considered ok or fine for members of the Armed Forces to come home and sell their stories? And please don’t even waste my time or yours with statements like ‘well someone else would have made money out of it so why not they?’ There are many unseemly activities that will always be moneyspinners should we then indulge whenever the opportunity for a bit of quick cash arises? The logic that money would be made no matter what so therefore……..should be beneath us – that is what ethics, morals and standards are all about. Knowing when to say ‘actually this is not appropriate’.

Better we had stood up and said ‘well actually the MOD needs to get the general population onside and as no one believes them anymore after the Iraq debacle and in an effort to continue the propaganda let’s let the story come from the horses mouths’ (albeit from typewritten reams of foolscap). I am hoping against hope that this is the real reason this quell-and-tell was suggested or allowed. Yes it would be despicable and manipulative (where have we heard this before…..) but I guess even knowing that it is a propaganda exercise pure and simple would be better than this tacky and tawdry spectacle we are now beholding. And that is without delving into the content of the stories…………

“I was frightened”, “I feared for my life”……..I can’t even repeat any more. Of course the hell you were frightened. Yes being in that position if you had any sense you would be fearing for your life. But ‘I heard hammers and sawing and ………coffin’? That’s one step away from a branch falls on your roof and you ‘just know’ King Kong has landed and has come to get you.

For those of us who can remember the concept of armed forces before they got tarted up it was “Join the forces defend your country. Good chance of kill or be killed. Good chance of torture or be tortured.” None of this see the world, have fun crap. And that’s where the problem lies (in my mind) – we have become a nation of people (many of us, especially the under 60-s) who do not understand the real concept of what armed forces are supposed to do. It is a serious job, with serious downsides. I’ve been watching hostages for many a long year now and trust me – those were the ‘happiest’ hostages I’ve ever seen. Iranian propaganda? Well you know what – better a bit of chess and some five-a-side than what you see going on at Guantanamo Bay. Better cheap and nasty suits than orange jumpsuits and shackles. Better ‘fake’ smiles and laughter, than sacks over their heads.

Before the shouting starts let me be VERY CLEAR about something. My complaint is not with the sailors. My complaints are with the puppetmasters not the puppets.

My heartfelt sympathies go out to the families of soldiers and sailors who have been killed on duty. Families who sent their children off to be trained and then got a phonecall that they had ‘somehow accidentally killed themselves’. Sympathies to to all the families with stories they wanted the world to know but because the MOD didn’t feel them worthy of being told they live nowhere but in their hearts.

Now when the Powers That Be at the MOD sit around a table they will be able to use their calculators to add up what price our dignity as a nation was worth. And hopefully we as a nation don’t fall for it and these papers become what they deserve to be – yesterday’s chip-wrapping.

And yes welcome home to the sailors, and yes we are all pleased that you are home safely – this isn’t about you this is about they who pull your strings, and ours. We’ve had enough.


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