Posts Tagged: humanity

National debt: who do we owe?

What is it about the national debt that I am not getting?

Please forgive me for not being an economist but, when you owe loads of money, you can’t keep up with the repayments and you plunge deeper and deeper into the doo-doo, there comes a time when you go to your creditors and say:

‘Hey guys, hard as I try, I can’t pay you this money and, if we go on like this, I ain’t never going to repay it. Let’s work it out.’

Please forgive me for not being an economist but, back in the day, some Third World countries did this and, rightly, the banks who held the debt recognised the reality of the situation and wrote the money off. It was called ‘unpayable debt‘.

So who owns our national debt today? And at what point is it ‘unpayable’? Read more on National debt: who do we owe?…

Benefit cuts: a call to mobilise the disabled

So now we are here in another New Year and, in the UK, the savagery of social welfare cuts continues to slice through our society.

We have had:

06 January: ‘Soldiers, nurses and teachers hit by benefit curbs’ 

07 January: ‘Benefit cuts will see more children taken into care’

09 January: ‘Pensioners could face universal benefit cuts after election’ 

13 January: ‘Benefit cuts threaten women’s refuge services’ 

14 January: ‘Benefit cuts: reforms will leave disabled people ghettoised and excluded’

Happy New Year from the British Government! Read more on Benefit cuts: a call to mobilise the disabled…

Humanity can overcome technology

Two days. Two media channels. Two writers.

Alain de Botton is an eminent philosopher who has written ‘How Proust Can Change Your Life’, ‘The Consolations of Philosophy’ and ‘The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work’. Last week, he tweeted:

‘What used to happen to outrage before the net gave it a home?’

Charles Vallance is the V, some say the brains, of VCCP – anointed last week as ‘the most ‘in-demand’ shop’ (viz advertising  agency) in London. Last week, he published a column in Campaign magazine headed:

‘The web is stifling radicalism at a time when it is needed.’

Two clever geezers. What are they on about? Read more on Humanity can overcome technology…

‘Social chaos’ foreseen in October 2010

In my post dated 29 October 2010, ‘The Conservatives may be doing the right thing but in the wrong way’, I predicted that Government policies would lead to ‘social chaos’ in this country (third last paragraph).

At the time, I thought long and hard about writing this because it was a brave call. There hadn’t been rioting on the streets of London for several years. Read more on ‘Social chaos’ foreseen in October 2010…

Seve Ballesteros and Richard Branson’s dad

I never have enough time to read.

Often, I find myself scanning the newspaper without the time to read articles that I really want to read – and concentrate on reading.

One example is obituaries. I hate not reading about the lives of people who I have admired and respected – and I love reading about the lives of people about whom I knew nothing but whose lives, on reading about them, I find fascinating. Read more on Seve Ballesteros and Richard Branson’s dad…

Social Media 2010 Legacy 1 – Connectivity and Isolation

So, it is December 2010. Christmas is coming. And, as a load of snow is dumped on us, I have been reflecting on how the world has changed in 2010.

For I do think that, although 1984 and 2001 were going to be world-changing years, 2010 actually was. The likes of Amazon, Google, Facebook, Twitter, smart phones and MP3 players have come of age – and tablets will become increasingly accepted as competition drives down price. I know some of these businesses started in the last decade, the last century even, but I do believe the year 2010 has defined them – and they have defined 2010.

Read more on Social Media 2010 Legacy 1 – Connectivity and Isolation…

Ryanair and the human importance of customer service

Earlier this year, my family and I moved home. We didn’t move far. Just one side of Clapham Common to the other (and still in Battersea, of course).

At our old house, where we had lived for nearly 20 years, I had become used to the habit of reading the newspaper over a brew and toast before heading off for work. This was a small piece of English life that I had sorely missed in the overseas posting that my agency had told me would advance my advertising career.

After our move (in Battersea not from the other side of the world) I found, to my horror, that the nearest newsagent didn’t do home deliveries. He told me: “It’s too much trouble managing the delivery persons” (that’s PC-speak for paper boys).

Well, back at our previous house, if the paper wasn’t delivered early in the morning, my whole routine broke down. The time taken to walk the short distance to the newsagent and back would start my day on completely the wrong footing.

Before you accuse me of laziness, I made a rule to myself that I would walk to the shop and buy my own newspapers on Saturdays and Sundays. This also allowed me a cheery face-to-face greeting and some friendly banter with the newsagent and/or his wife.

This couple are called Sachin and Shilpa (well they are not actually – their names have been changed to protect their privacy).

As human beings, I admire Sachin and Shilpa a much as anyone I have met. Read more on Ryanair and the human importance of customer service…

Mourning Big Brother and the exposure of social prejudice

The late Big Brother exposed a good deal of media and cultural snobbery.

Last week, a BBC Radio5Live presenter was unbelievably patronising to his listeners who called to support Big Brother (and the 3.7million who watched the last show).

I am not ashamed to admit that I believe Big Brother played a vitally important social role in exposing underlying prejudice in society.

Indeed, I would go so far as to say that, through the years, Big Brother not only entertained me and my children, but it enabled us to address subjects that we may not otherwise have discussed.

I am not referring to Celebrity Big Brother here. I am talking about the show that featured ‘normal’ people.

Mind you, by winning the celebrity show as a mere ‘normal’ person in 2006, Chantelle Houghton (I admit to relying on Wikipedia here), famously exposed the celebrities as the shallow, sub-normal people most of them really are.

So why was the ‘normal’ Big Brother both entertaining and socially important? Read more on Mourning Big Brother and the exposure of social prejudice…

What was it like?

So, I have this nagging concern that, with the major social battles of the 20th century fought and won – women’s suffrage, equal rights, free market economics over socialism – and, especially, with all this new media about – why, in the 21st century, is our society diverging rather than converging?

And why aren’t our politicians more sophisticated, more strategic, about how they use these new media opportunities to bring people closer together and unite society – globally as well as domestically. Read more on What was it like?…

Crossing the road

So, David Cameron and Michael Gove want us to adopt the Swedish education model.

I once had an educational, indeed enlightening, experience in Sweden.

It involved a media channel that may never be used for commercial purposes – but which is very important. In fact, it can save lives. Read more on Crossing the road…