Friday, 25 March 2011

Its Almost in the Open...

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said today that additional measures may be needed in Libya.

Meanwhile, USS Bataan, a Wasp-Class Amphipious Assault Ship sailed today from America, bound for Libya.

USS Bataan has been a significant feature of previous hotspots of American interest, so you can guarantee that she will be in the thick of the action, whatever that action may be. Significant points are that she is designed for amphibious assault and carries a serious contingent of Marines. She also carries air power in order to support that amphibious capability. Possibly embarrassing for our government is that fact Bataan carries Harrier fixed-wing aircraft: the self-same Harriers we just scrapped. In fact with the exception of the amphibious assault capability, she is very similar to our own diminished carriers.

Anyway, its curious that while America makes noises of extricating itself from the Libya mission, it still tasks a significant amount of naval capability to it, specifically with the ability to employ ground forces.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Post Budget Reality

This week's budget failed miserably to match the standard needed to turn the country around.

Yesterday Cameron and Clegg's coalition proved beyond doubt that they are cast from the same metal as the previous Labour government. The differences between then is infinitessimal.

Sure, we got a who;e penny off a litre of petrol (whoopie doo!) and some tinkering was done with corporation tax, but the bottom line is nothing changes very much except the bad stuff that was announced in last year's emergency budget still kicks in this April.

The financial situation in this country is dire. Given the current policy, we face decades of depression. I do mean that: decades of depression. The government is intent on using inflation and other slow-acting measures to reduce the deficit rather than acting quickly and getting things back on track immediately. Thats bad news for all of us, as it will cost billions more in the long run.

Its like a credit card bill: we all know the least efficient way of paying off a credit card is by making the minimum payment. You might pay 30 quid a month to pay off the debt, but if you look at the statement the actual debt only reduces by a pound or two. The rest is swallowed up by interest and admin. In the long run you end up paying back several times the original sum owed, but we do it because its convenient: we pay the minimum we can get away with so the bailiffs don't come knocking at the door and so we have money to spend on other things.

The government is doing something similar with our money except it still continues to use the credit card running up more debt while it just about makes enough to cover the minimum payments. Hardly a sustainable way to finance a country. You would think that government above all would be sober and  fiscally responsible. Sure, we might binge buy and stretch the credit card a bit, but thats because the repercussions only fall on us, whereas government binge buying affects the whole country.

Government has for too long behaved like an irresponsible teenager, doing whatever it liked without impunity. Its time us the public became responsible parents and chastised our government for its misdemeanours.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Tomorrow's Budget.

Tomorrow's budget will probably go down as one of the most difficult in history. We now have upward inflationary pressure at the same time as stagnant growth. We have an burdensome public sector while the private sector are strangled and made uncompetitive by red tape and legislation.

This government don't even have the option of selling public-owned industries because Thatcher sold off those assets decades ago, to be replaced by huge almost monopolistic corporations that continue to use their favourable positions to charge uncompetitive high prices for their services.

The real problem is to generate growth in an economy suppressed by a huge public sector drain on resources, where the huge corporate monoliths created by the sale of public utilities have no intention of sacrificing profits on the altar of competitive pricing. We have a the historically entrepreneurial small business sector stifled by more than a decade of (primarily EU-created) legislation apparently targeted at making them as unproductive and inefficient as possible while banks steadfastly refuse to finance investment in growth.

In short, we are royally fucked. We have long stared at the abyss, not wishing to fall in. "Our" government hopes to pull us from the edge, or at the very least, make the transition from the top to the floor less of a cliff and more of a slope, in the hope we don't notice the transition too much and rise up to kill them all as is currently happening in the Middle East.
Its an emerging truth that our children look forward to a more expensive and therefore less affluent future  than their parents. Another truth is that the West is in decline. We can't avoid it. Instead we have to get used to the new reality and manage accordingly. We have to get used to watching China and India using their power and influence around the globe as they watched us over the past few centuries.

Tomorrow is a pivotal day in a pivotal year. Its a day to be decisive: if the budget is in any way inconclusive in its strategy, we are lost. If the budget in any way fails to address the issues that continue to restrict small business growth, we are lost. If the budget fails to address the huge corporate monopolies that exist in a number of areas and stifle competition, we are lost.

Watch or listen to the budget tomorrow. It is important.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Boots on the Ground?

I heard the first inkling on the news today that troops could be deployed if necessary in support of the anti-Gadaffi rebels.

Didn't take long did it?

Of course its not its something that's been pre-planned...... is it?

Sunday, 20 March 2011

The West Jumps into Libya With Size Nines.

Well, as I predicted the no-fly zone was imposed and virtually overnight was implemented. With all this indecent haste, there is one thing missing: an exit strategy.

From media reports one can be mistaken for thinking that we lob a few bombs at Gadaffi's tanks, he fucks off outta dodge and Libya suddenly becomes a haven of peace, tranquility and love towards the western governments.

Unfortunately, in the tribal land that is North Africa and the Middle East, it isn't that simple, as we found to our cost (in lives and money) in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The problem is, right now the rebels, made up by many separate factions are united in a single cause, against a single enemy: the Gadaffi regime. However, once Gadaffi exits stage left, there's no comedy villain to hate, nobody to hiss and boo at. So who then becomes the star of the stage? Every single faction will want the lions share of the action and power and just as in Iraq, once the war is won, the peace will prove hard to establish. Once more the various tribes and factions will start to settle old scores and vie for power. It will descend into tribal infighting, with many ordinary Libyan citizens losing their lives.

So are we really doing the best by the people of Libya? I'm pretty sure we're doing the best by the corporate entities that want a slice of Libya's oil reserves who just want someone in power they can do stable business with, but I get the feeling that the people of Libya: the reason we're lobbing bombs at Gadaffi will not be best served by our incursions into their country and are only a secondary consideration despite the rhetoric.