Wednesday, 2 June 2010

From Fife to farce via Fitch and filth

This stems from an increasingly drunken blether to an increasingly fabulous person the other day. It’s also evidence I’ve excruciatingly dull chat, but hey ho.

I’ve a major down on vague protests because if you’re going to use up some of your and my finite existence and attention on protesting at least make it worthwhile (althought the G8 tits were cool cos it meant I got a half day). This was/is something epitomised by the ghastly (mis) use of Father Ted on anti-globalization marches that has “humorously” lent making perfectly clear you do not having a fucking clue what’s being protested about, for or against a self-justifying sheen of facile irony.

The tragedy, of course, is that direct action is a fundamental part of the polity in a lets all read EP Thompson talking about the mob type style. More importantly direct action delivers on a consistent basis far more than any elected politician would ever care to admit. In fact direct action delivers oodles if you think of say Northern Ireland, the road haulier blockades or the willingness of French farmers to set sheep on fire every time someone even thinks about reviewing the Common Agricultural Policy. Then there’s the dirty protest, my personal favourite and the one I think about every time someone leaves a negotiation claiming they tried everything to persuade the other side.

From the above it’s easy to draw 2 lessons

1) To matter a fuck protests/direct action need a clear political objective
2) To affect change protests/direct action actually need to directly affect people who can make and/or influence change

Hence, if I chose to protest against “this sort of thing” by say rubbing my shite all over the lovely wallpaper the Queen of Sweden bought from IKEA to do her front room, chances are it wouldn’t achieve a great deal.

And so to Fife where people are protesting against the decision already taken by the Council to hack back their spending on musical tuition for school children, which is a shame given that’s exactly the kind of thing that makes life better for all of us. Except there’s a bigger picture here which is public spending on everything is now in the process of being cut back, hence those so inclined to protest are likely to do so only after driving along roads littered with more potholes than before and did you hear Mrs McNulty lost her home help because she’s no longer deemed poorly enough to qualify?

Any Council worth its salt would respond to a protest about well anything really by claiming it was cash-strapped, then highlighting the very real cut backs now being made to the central government funding they are reliant upon in a central government fucks local government because its politically more palatable to blame council inefficiencies type style. The council might even say, well go on then, if we don’t cut that what exactly should we cut?

Except, that’s to miss the point; local government is central government’s bitch, so if you’re bothered about Fife Council’s musical policy, take it up with central government in London or fuck off. And while you’re at it complaining about cuts to musical tuition is precise rather than clear, the clear issue is cuts in public spending

Except central government will say something that involves the following words – prudent, prudent, Labour profligacy, prudent, national crisis, Greece, maintain Britain’s triple A credit rating, sustainable, prudent, cut waste. Which all sounds terribly lovely, except it’s predicated upon the pile of fucktard shite that is rating agencies.

So really if you’re inclined to preserve musical tuition arrangements in Fife you’d do better to organise a simultaneous mass shit-in on the steps of Her Majesty’s Treasury and the global or at least the London headquarters of Fitch, Moody’s and/or Standard and Poor’s than you would Fife Council HQ.

This could be accompanied by some kind of manifesto that aspires to reworking current arrangements and remove the current reliance on cutting public spending to appease credit rating fucktards by saying things like –

1) Remove all regulatory requirements for assets to have rating agency credit ratings before being deemed acceptable by state agencies because doing so in practice supports a global oligopoly dominated by multinational corporations whose “expertise” has been called into question by systemic conflicts of interest.

2) The scope for credit rating arbitrage and resultant pressure on agencies to fall into line undermines the notion of independence and with it any benefits of what competition there is given the current reliance on selling credit ratings as a product; hence de-commodifying, at the very least when it comes to sovereign debt, credit ratings is a necessary first step to establishing a more transparent, fair and prudent global financial system.

Except those aren’t especially catchy. But that’s cool cos it’s easy to do more slogany things:

1) Given sub-prime debt sellers paid rating agencies to rate their debt so they could sell them you could chant “conflict of interest, there’s only conflict of interest, there’s only conflict of interest, etc.”

2) Or given until just the other day rating agencies gave Spain the same rating as Germany i.e. thought it was as creditworthy as a country mad scared of inflation with a HUGE trade surplus as opposed to a construction and property bubble for an economy, you could go with “Rating scales? What a load of rubbish, what a load of rubbish”.

3) Or given economic forecasts are being used to justify the Spanish downgrade you could just tell them to fuck off, seriously. Fer instance, HM Treasury’s May summary of economic forecasts for Britain in 2010 lists the latest economic forecasts produced by 37 different organisations ranging from Goldman Sachs to the IMF; this particular sack of cats thinks the UK economy will grow anything from 0.8% (weak) to 2.2% (close to trend) this year i.e. with only 7 months to go no one has a fucking clue. And yet this selfsame confused, overlapping contradictory shite is being used to justify decisions that are fucking public spending and public lives. To me that prompts the following “you can stick yer fucking forecasts up yer arse, you can stick yer fucking forecasts up yer arse, you can, etc.”

4) Or more generally just stand outside the various offices and shout personal abuse at people whose “expert judgement” has already seen Ireland cut child benefits fer chrissakes.

So rather than down with this sort of thing, I think doing shit like all of the above would be more likely to preserve current levels of state funded musical tuition in Fife. I wonder if fabulous person agrees.

As a P.S. here is how Professor Paul De Grauwe summarises recent raging agency behaviour and the current fucked up situation in an excellent article called “Greece: The start of a systemic crisis of the Eurozone?” off

“the rating agencies were completely caught off guard by the credit crisis. It was again the case during the last few weeks. Only after Dubai postponed the repayment of its bonds and we had all read about it in the FT, did the rating agencies realise there was a crisis and did they downgrade Dubai’s bonds.

Credit rating agencies playing catch-up

Having failed so miserably in forecasting a sovereign debt crisis, they went on a frantic search for possible other sovereign bond crises. They found Greece, and other Eurozone countries with high budget deficits, and started the process of downgrading. This in turn led to a significant increase in government bond rates in countries “visited” by the agencies. Add to this that the ECB is still using the ratings produced by the same agencies to accept or refuse collateral presented by banks in the Eurozone”

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