We are a business

The interests of the people who simply want to live their lives are put on the back-burner as those who pledge to represent us try to run this country as a business. This goes from the constant belief that the balance sheets have to be evened out, even at the cost of the livelihoods and standard of living of those they are meant to be acting on the behalf of. This is not just judgements made by government bodies but by other public institutions.

British universities, long before the cuts to higher education, have been stretching far and wide for potential international students to profiteer from. There are so many universities these days that public funding is not enough to run all of these costly institutions, and funding has to come from somewhere. And to that extent I understand the need to at least break even. The optimum level of income should be at normal profit for contingency reasons, for instance higher running costs or maintenance in the future. 

But this is not what universities are doing. Sussex alone made £13.8 million in the last academic year, yet tries to justify making cuts in the services sector for money saving purposes. Sussex is a very small university relative to the lights of Nottingham and Manchester. Nottingham University beginning in 2000 began to outsource their education to international branches in Malaysia and China, giving local students a taste of British education without leaving their country. These students are still charged international fees and have the opportunity to go to Nottingham to study as a part of the degree, it is effectively an in-house twinning programme. These programmes are not rare in this part of the world. 

In a way, it gives talented students a means into the British education system, which before hand they would have never been able to afford. But it still attracts an elite, unless one is extremely lucky to receive a scholarship. But it shows that a public institution such as Nottingham University that accepts government funding are trying to run their institution as an expansionist business. Students are now seen as clients instead of a source of intellectual ability. It does not harness the pure purpose of university: To provide an education beyond the textbook and to allow the individual student to research and come up with innovative, new ideas. The only way universities see themselves able to survive is to run as a business, and demand is ever-growing due to lack of alternatives. 

The solution is to simply have less universities and more access into employment for the youth in the UK. Universities are essentially a place of research and innovation, not a assembly line of identically minded young adults to exit with a piece of paper. It should be industry and other public institutions specialising in specific skills that supply vocational skills to those who are not academically inclined or interested. At the moment, for many there is no alternative to university.

With this those who are serious about learning and what to contribute to their field of study can study at a university free of charge, and hopefully will not have to be too concerned of that university’s reputation. Whilst the rest can do what they want to do without being in debt for the rest of their working lives. 

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It is time for a new world order

7926126812_33571c3544_b[1]Photo Credit to Luc Forsyth: http://www.flickr.com/photos/75878499@N03/

When the world is ran by some form of imaginary paper and digits on a computer, it is time for humanity to realise that both their perception of economics and politics is based on pure bullshit.

Bitcoin is probably one of the most innovative ways to show how flimsy the whole financial system is, it maybe the means to the solution of devaluing the philosophy associated with imaginary paper, or what we call money. The problem that we are faced with is not the financial crisis, that just flagged up the problem. No, our problem is money itself. Bitcoin is a beautifully simplistic definition of currency. It is deregulated to the fact that there is no single place where it is stored. It is stored on a open source system, so your details are basically decrypted somewhere in the cloud, not in the HSBC ledger. It is not a national currency, it has no central or federal bank and it is ‘mined’ according to the value of the currency against now the USD. And more importantly, its value will not be politically motivated by the lights of China or someone nasty.

But imagine if the Bitcoin  was the global currency and no other currency existed. It was mined to the extent to which the world could feed itself and attain a standard of living that we see acceptable. This is going to be low for our standards in the west, but more than adequate for someone in Haiti who is rummaging through the scraps. But anyway, we get to this stage of equilibrium and no more bitcoins are mined and is distributed evenly. We then just let nature take its course, remembering money can no longer be generated artificially.

This is will either turn the world into an autocratic quasi-communist system or an autocratic quasi-capitalist system where people will end up starving to death regardless. The problem is still going to be money, but now in the form of bitcoin. We unfortunately value everything that we have on something that is purely meaningless. Before the 1970’s we had the good old gold standard. But as we started growing a conscience in trying to create economic equality in western society, generating wealth out grew the supply of gold. In other words aggregate demand, that was generated artificially by government owned companies employing people who would otherwise be unemployed, led to demand for money. This led to the demand for gold, but there was not enough of it. So the gold standard was dropped.

We come to the system that we have now which is the floating exchange rate. This fluctuates with the base rate (which is rate of interest banks and lenders can charge their creditors) and quantitative easing as it fiddles with the supply of a currency, as well as speculative demand. So one currency is valued against another currency which technically has no value. So money is pointless.

But it has universal purchasing power of absolutely any product that you may need, from a prostitute to a loaf of bread. This is despite money having no value whatsoever. With this absurd logic, a pair of headphones which is priced at $10  is the same price as a grain of rice which is priced at $0.00005 because they are all bought with money which is valueless (10×0=0.0005×0). And it the same logic that leads to the unnecessary deaths of people who die of hunger and malnutrition, or of cold weather during the winter. These people are dead due to a lack of something that has no extrinsic value.

Deregulation was unfortunately necessary during the reign Margaret Thatcher after the collapse of Keynesian economics, it still caused the same problem of generating artificial supply of money. Money was seen to be as bottomless as a root beer float at A&W. It led to risks to be made as gains were seen to be limitless in the banking and insurance sector, as at the end of the day it was a massive ponzi scheme with everyday mortgage holders and loan bearers at the bottom of the pyramid. There is one good thing with bitcoin, it will eliminate the banks but it will not solve inequality.

Should there be a campaign to legalise drugs in the west?

I found this on the web today:

10 Reasons to legalise all drugs
comment from Transform: the campaign for effective drug policy 

1 Address the real issues
For too long policy makers have used prohibition as a smoke screen to avoid addressing the social and economic factors that lead people to use drugs. Most illegal and legal drug use is recreational. Poverty and despair are at the root of most problematic drug use and it is only by addressing these underlying causes that we can hope to significantly decrease the number of problematic users. 

2 Eliminate the criminal market place
The market for drugs is demand-led and millions of people demand illegal drugs. Making the production, supply and use of some drugs illegal creates a vacuum into which organised crime moves. The profits are worth billions of pounds. Legalisation forces organised crime from the drugs trade, starves them of income and enables us to regulate and control the market (i.e. prescription, licensing, laws on sales to minors, advertising regulations etc.) 

3 Massively reduce crime
The price of illegal drugs is determined by a demand-led, unregulated market. Using illegal drugs is very expensive. This means that some dependent users resort to stealing to raise funds (accounting for 50% of UK property crime – estimated at £2 billion a year). Most of the violence associated with illegal drug dealing is caused by its illegality 

Legalisation would enable us to regulate the market, determine a much lower price and remove users need to raise funds through crime. Our legal system would be freed up and our prison population dramatically reduced, saving billions. Because of the low price, cigarette smokers do not have to steal to support their habits. There is also no violence associated with the legal tobacco market. 

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4 Drug users are a majority
Recent research shows that nearly half of all 15-16 year olds have used an illegal drug. Up to one and a half million people use ecstasy every weekend. Amongst young people, illegal drug use is seen as normal. Intensifying the ‘war on drugs’ is not reducing demand. In Holland, where cannabis laws are far less harsh, drug usage is amongst the lowest in Europe.

Legalisation accepts that drug use is normal and that it is a social issue, not a criminal justice one. How we deal with it is up to all of us to decide. 

In 1970 there were 9000 convictions or cautions for drug offences and 15% of young people had used an illegal drug. In 1995 the figures were 94 000 and 45%. Prohibition doesn’t work.

5 Provide access to truthful information and education
A wealth of disinformation about drugs and drug use is given to us by ignorant and prejudiced policy-makers and media who peddle myths upon lies for their own ends. This creates many of the risks and dangers associated with drug use.

Legalisation would help us to disseminate open, honest and truthful information to users and non-users to help them to make decisions about whether and how to use. We could begin research again on presently illicit drugs to discover all their uses and effects – both positive and negative. 

6 Make all drug use safer
Prohibition has led to the stigmatisation and marginalisation of drug users. Countries that operate ultra-prohibitionist policies have very high rates of HIV infection amongst injecting users. Hepatitis C rates amongst users in the UK are increasing substantially.

In the UK in the ’80’s clean needles for injecting users and safer sex education for young people were made available in response to fears of HIV. Harm reduction policies are in direct opposition to prohibitionist laws.

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7 Restore our rights and responsibilities
Prohibition unnecessarily criminalises millions of otherwise law-abiding people. It removes the responsibility for distribution of drugs from policy makers and hands it over to unregulated, sometimes violent dealers.

Legalisation restores our right to use drugs responsibly to change the way we think and feel. It enables controls and regulations to be put in place to protect the vulnerable. 

8 Race and Drugs
Black people are over ten times more likely to be imprisoned for drug offences than whites. Arrests for drug offences are notoriously discretionary allowing enforcement to easily target a particular ethnic group. Prohibition has fostered this stereotyping of black people. 

Legalisation removes a whole set of laws that are used to disproportionately bring black people into contact with the criminal justice system. It would help to redress the over representation of black drug offenders in prison. 

9 Global Implications
The illegal drugs market makes up 8% of all world trade (around £300 billion a year). Whole countries are run under the corrupting influence of drug cartels. Prohibition also enables developed countries to wield vast political power over producer nations under the auspices of drug control programmes.

Legalisation returns lost revenue to the legitimate taxed economy and removes some of the high-level corruption. It also removes a tool of political interference by foreign countries against producer nations. 

10 Prohibition doesn’t work
There is no evidence to show that prohibition is succeeding. The question we must ask ourselves is, “What are the benefits of criminalising any drug?” If, after examining all the available evidence, we find that the costs outweigh the benefits, then we must seek an alternative policy.

Legalisation is not a cure-all but it does allow us to address many of the problems associated with drug use, and those created by prohibition. The time has come for an effective and pragmatic drug policy. 

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“If the (drug) problem continues advancing as it is at the moment, we’re going to be faced with some very frightening options. Either you have a massive reduction in civil rights or you have to look at some radical solutions. The issue has to be, can a criminal justice system solve this particular problem?”
Commander John Grieve, Criminal Intelligence Unit, Scotland Yard, Channel 4 1997 

Copyright Transform Campaign for effective drug policy
Easton Business Centre Felix Road Easton Bristol BS1 0HE
Telephone: +44 (0) 117 941 5810 Facsimile: +44 (0) 117 941 5809 Email:rae@transform-drugs.org.uk
web:www.transform-drugs.org.uk

Advantage of Legalising Drugs

I always thought that we should legalise drug so we can properly control the negative externalities caused by drug consumption. Draws very good comparison to the Prohibition of Alcohol in the 1920’s/30’s- basically it’s the same thing.
Personally, I think there’s a link between the consumption of heroin in particular to the Taliban rule in Afghanistan. I’ll get to that point some other time… it’s a long story.
http://timpreuss.com/2012/03/11/video-milton-friedman-on-legalizing-drugs/