Thursday, 10 March 2016

The End of Debt

Voters won't be debt slaves forever. This is how it could end.

You should know - I'm not an Economist. The other thing I'm posting today on this blog is an appreciation of DOWN WITH LOVE - so many would suggest my opinion of movies isn't to be relied on either.

I do feel qualified to comment however as most actual economists of my generation* have nil credibility at this stage. They are salesmen, able to sell a self serving, historically disastrous creed like Neoliberalism (aka monetarism aka supply side aka trickle down economics) to press and politicians as common sense. But I'll come to that later.

There is a lot politically which suggests there may be trouble ahead - Brexit. Migrant Crisis, ISIS but also quite a lot which suggests economically events are heading in a strange non-sustainable direction, and I'm not just talking about surreal negative interest rates.

Before I make a bad summary of the thoughts of three 'renegade' economic thinkers let me spin one idea past you.

In 2006 I would wash my car using a machine, a car wash. A decade later, in the still futuristic sounding London of 2016, it is somehow cheaper to have three human beings do this. Does that suggest to you that the current economic model in the early 21st century  is working ok?

Paul Mason in his book
PostCapitalism: A Guide to our Future 
suggests this sort of example is one of the indicators that the current form of Capitalism is starting to creak. NeoLiberalism (and it's favourite tool Globalisation)  has destroyed the bargaining power of Labour to such an extent that the spur for technical innovation has gone. Soon the Neoliberals like Osbourne and Boris Johnson will find an economic justification to finally do the job of the Luddites and destroy all the (modern equivalent of) looms, because we will have moved back to the 17thC and there will be enough desperate people to do everything by hand.

Thomas Pikketty in Capital in the Twenty-First Century suggests vast increasing wealth disparity is inevitable, as only two world wars gave us the vaguely egalitarian world we have now.

But this is about debt right?

Renegade Economist Steve Keen, who predicted the crash of 2008, and the Greece collapse, has the fundamental cause of this problem as the attitude to debt. The Neoliberal excuse we are given for Austerity in the UK is that we have to balance the budget, as if it were running a household. As Keen points out however a government is not a house, it is more like a bank. It makes a profit by lending - a bank which ran at a surplus and had more deposits than lending would shrink, which coincidently is exactly what is happening to all the western economies as we stare at the next bank bailout.

Even more worrying for us all is our own Personal Debt, which has rocketed as costs have gone up and living standards and wages have not risen for 30 years. As economies continue to stagnate we will slide further into our role as debt slaves.. or..

A situation which absolutely cannot continue - won't. A correction will come eventually, as after a certain point ever increasing debt and the money behind it will become meaningless.

Keen's idea, People's QE, is effectively a debt write off, with funds given to debtors to clear debt and equivalent amounts given to savers to sell the bitter pill to them. Economically that might make sense to Keen but politically it is difficult to see how it happens. Certainly in this country anything like a debt write off in the current climate is silly. Bank of England gives me money? Really? How would you really carry that off in a way that would be accepted and wouldn't wreck confidence in the currency?

One way would be to take  the fine example of ... North Korea.. and just introduce a new currency.
Perhaps one of the least crimes against the North Korean people was the decision to completely scrap the currency overnight and introduce a new one, making all private savings worthless. It was a cruel disaster.
So lets not suggest that.

You could perhaps make a new currency voluntary or subject to a national referendum, as part of a slow economic and political union. Those transferring to new currency would see debt in the old one written off and those with savings could be offered a multiple of the value of their old savings in the new currency.
This kind of debt right-off would be a way to sell a new, probably international currency to populations which would otherwise be reluctant to lose some (or perhaps all) national sovereignty.

"Don't worry about your debt in that terrible old £ sterling - using the new EuroDollar you'll be starting at zero or at 2x your saved funds in the old currency"

I'm not saying I want this to happen, and I'm not speculating on how politically (I would hope they would learn some lessons from the mess that is the current EU) I'm just creating a scenario in which the inevitable could take place.

*As Steve Keen points out todays Economics students are like all modern students, in that they are massively and unfairly loaded with debt. I literally can't wait to see what their alternative to Neoliberalism is going to look like.

DOWN WITH LOVE (2003) was obviously Peyton Reed's 1960s prequel to UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT

​Did you like ANT-MAN? Did you find yourself liking it a lot more than the other hyped Marvel movies of last year?
I liked it a lot, not just as a movie but as a lesson in great man management.​

I was very pleased to find last week that Ant-Man's eventual director Peyton Reed, who was seemingly doomed to be the replacement for Edgar Wright, had previously directed one of my favourite movies, at which point I'm going to have to admit what that movie is..

C'mon Kimmy Schmidt fans does this remind you of anyone?
I love DOWN WITH LOVE and I don't care who knows it.

DOWN WITH LOVE is a mainly reviled homage/satire to Dorris Day comedy's of the 1960s - shot in hyper real over sugary manner format that made it on release look like a ​feature length FAMILY GUY takedown of MAD MEN.

Today this brash, incredibly silly and cartoonish like hyper reality really looks  like an obvious precursor to Netflix's acclaimed UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT.

I've avoided mention of UKS before now because I don't like stating the obvious and following general critical acclaim, but suffice to say Tina Fey's hilarious sitcom follow up to 30 Rock is one of only two modern comedies I've watched all the way through three times.

I'll say straight up DOWN WITH LOVE is nothing like as funny as UKS but like those old DD comedies (which I have a very distant memory of) it does have a lot of charm.

Efforts to recreate those comedies include;

Period authentic dodgy rear projection

Completely out of control outfits

Over the top sets with unconvincing backgrounds

Olympian stropping and fun with split screens

Your tolerance of this movie will probably depend on how you can handle the cast. I will watch anything with either Renée Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, Sarah Paulson in it. Sarah Paulson is only just getting her deserved level of attention as  Marcia Clark in People vs OJ Simpson, I think I noticed her first as the sinister Miss Isringhausen in Deadwood. She usually seems to be stuck in roles as icy official manipulators and it is great to rediscover her back in 2003 playing comedy with such grace.

Aside carrying the Star Wars prequels I'll always owe Ewen McGregor for LONG WAY ROUND, which literally changed my life. In this movie he seems to be trying to play a young Sean Connery but his own goofy smile kills any moment of supposed icy cool.

I cannot watch or even listen to Renee Zellweger without smiling, and then usually laughing. I've loved her since seeing her in another great criminally unappreciated movie, NURSE BETTY in 2000. There seems to be a lot of hate out there for Renee Zellweger  related to BRIGIT JONES (perhaps just in the UK?). I wouldn't know about that - the whole Bridget Jones phenomena seemed like such obvious bait for incredibly normal people I avoided the whole thing like the plague.

This movie has got Tony Randall in it and also features Jeri (Seven of Nine) Ryan as voracious British air hostess.


I've read somewhere that the sexual chemistry between the leads isn't considered too believable (unlike the gritty reality of the rest of this movie). To be honest, frankly, and this is a bit of an admission - I would never know. After decades of awkward interaction with the opposite sex I have to admit sexual chemistry is comprehensible to me as General Relativity sung backwards in Korean.

The horror is I can see exactly why this is considered an utter carbuncle on the arse of human civilisation and I still love it. In fact I actually relish the fact this movie flopped and is widely loathed (particularly by the kind of practical no-nonsense lady that has the imagination of a can of kidney beans) because if it wasn' t a loathed flop it would undoubtedly be a appalling West End musical right now​. Isn't widespread loathing that what used to define a Cult Film anyway?

In case you've just stumbled across this blog, which mainly gets hits these days for the review of Mandingo, I need to put the appreciation of this failed romantic comedy into context.

Accepted Classic Movies in the World In A Bottle
  •  JAWS
  •  ED WOOD​
  • MAD MAX 2
​ (new entry, blogpost soon)​


So you can see ​other than, arguably, ED WOOD, Tim Burton's epic of wierdo's and heroic war veteran cross dressing failures,  this movie a bit of an aberration.
Maybe it's because the unconvincing romance makes it kind of like an entire movie of the fake bird at the end of BLUE VELVET?
I don't know. I may be grasping at some ironic credibility there.

HOUSE OF CARDS cast and crew should shoot their own version of Richard III onset when HoC wraps

If Joss Whedon can shoot Much Ado About Nothing over a weekend the House of Cards team deserve to treat themselves to the original inspiration when it finally ends.

I've just seen HoC S4. I would urge you not to binge it, as I have, as it is worth savouring.

I said here
contemplating Underwood as President

"I'm left  at the end of S2, realising that Spacey as in Se7en has an inexorable plan coming to fruition"

In the event S3 was quite disappointing as the Underwood's just seemed content with their level of power. Looking back House of Cards Season 3 is essentially West Wing with a bad hangover. I thought Francis had replaced the bloody ribs with peanut butter sandwich's. I was wrong.


The supremely chilling end to S4, when Francis and Clare both address the camera for the first time, confirms their apparent benign rule so far is only due to having such an easy ride so far. Now they have the power they have no intention of letting inconvenience's like democracy and a free press take it away from them.


Made me think.

A few years ago Jess Whedon invited some of his regular cast and crew over for a weekend party and then  announced he was going to shoot a movie over the weekend

result was this

and it is much much better that you might expect from something shot over a weekend.

HOUSE OF CARDS is of course based on the British tv series and books by Micheal Dobbs but the original inspiration for all that rich villainy was of course Richard III (all that speaking at the camera for one thing).

I have heard budget on HoC is an issue. Every episode of the show looks like it cost $150 but product placement is easy to spot. I suspect there might be a quite a story on HoC got financed in the first place.

I think cast and crew (and audience) deserve, maybe instead of a wrap party, to have one day over when this momentous show finally ends,  please shoot a version of Richard III onset with available actors, costumes sets and resources. Could we crowd source it? Shall I start a petition?

Kevin Spacey has some recent familiarity with the dialogue

My main exposure to Richard III is via Ian McKellan's absolutely spectacular alternate history fascist 1930s version. I once rather foolishly forced some rural teenagers to watch it on a Friday night, to prove a point about Shakespeare, and it a famous success, we all roared with laughter (mostly)