Monday, 22 February 2016

Please keep to the right

Why do so many of my generation feel so entitled? I used to hate it. I used to think they were lazy, and unimaginitive. I used to look down on people with that attitude  because they lived as if it was easier to be lost in the garden of eden, even if it was all made of cardboard and eventually sucked them dry, than it was to find themselves.

I don't feel like that any more. The previous generation had Holden Caulfield, and mine had Neo. Someone who stepped outside the world and seen it for what it is. Someone who has seen the machines we set in place to keep ourselves comfortable. We live in a human zoo.

People feel entitled because they have done everything they were supposed to do, that they were told to do, in order to have a good life. Yet they don't. And they can feel it. They have seen actors pretending to enjoy products and widgets and trinkets in TV advertisements so much that they ape them and think that's how to live. Doing what they are told to do.

Our whole society is built on behaviour/reward. You do what you are told to do, what you are supposed to do, and you receive your reward. The problem is, for being obedient, going to school, getting good grades, going to work, putting the hours in, raising a family, getting a loan to buy a car, getting a mortgage to own a home, for all of this, the reward has been mis-sold.

Although it might seem like it in the prospectus, in the recruitment material, in the adverts, the reward for obedience isn't happiness. It's comfort. It's someone else's definition of what is a good enough standard of living for you.

So when I see people of my generation feeling entitled, I no longer feel angry at them. I feel angry for them. I feel angry for me. I spent 30 years without knowing what I know now. I was caught in a scam.

Everyone knows that in the long run, in blackjack, the house always wins. The problem with our society is that we think we can influence the house. We think that if the dealer is our friend, or someone like us, we might get a better hand. We might last longer in the game. We might end up with more for ourselves. But happiness is rarely found in quantities, and it's never in any hand you are dealt.

The reward for obedience has been mis-sold, and comfort is not the same as happiness. I don't blame people for feeling entitled any more.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Why a majority Conservative government is bad for Scotland

Here is why a Conservative government is bad, even for Scotland with our own budget and an SNP-packed Holyrood. I wrote this as a Facebook post, but it's far too big.

Political parties are made up of people who have a similar mindset on how certain things should work in an ideal world. One of the main differences is (or was) the purpose of government. This is where the left/right wing terminology comes into play.

Left wing parties such as (old) Labour, The Greens, SSP etc believe that government is fundimentally there to serve the interests of the people, and look for ways to provide more for the largest amount of people. They believe in helping people who cannot help themselves.

Right wing parties such as The Conservatives and UKIP believe that the government should not get involved in the personal lives of people, and should play as little a role as possible. They believe in helping people who help themselves.

Centrist parties include New Labour, Lib Dems and SNP. They all lean a bit more to the left or right of centre, but all believe that government has to play a role in helping both people and businesses succeed. This isn't a lazy approach. It requires leniency to businesses on some occasions and generosity to the people on others, and also knowing which to choose.

I know people with all of these views and I would not say that either is evil, or either is the "right one". I can say that without a shadow of a doubt though, that the current Conservative government is a bad thing for us.

The main reason is that their approach to economic is flawed. You don't even need to be an economist. It's even wrong if you believe in right wing politics. Our large and prolonged austerity program, where taxes are raised and spending is cut, results in less money for ordinary people like you and I, which is bad news for businesses because it means you and I have less to spend.

Because we have less to spend, and businesses suffer, we can say that the economy is shrinking, not growing. This means that the government have to borrow more money. Cuts, as they are seen in the UK, do not allow us to repay the deficit. They mean that the country has to borrow even more! The Conservative and Lib Dem government have borrowed far more in their 5 years in power than a Labour governmenf did in almost 15 years.

Where has this money gone? Well, one of the other things that brings political parties together is a belief in how public services should be provided. Aside from smaller government, the other main pillar for Right wing political parties is that they see the free market (supply and demand) as being far more efficient than publically run organisations.

Where the public (ie government) run a public service, it is run for public good. Where a public service is run by a private company, it is run for profit. Cutting public spending and replacing this hole by allowing the private sector to fill it means that jobs and services which were paid for by public money are now filled by private companies and their employees. This is seen as good for the economy by the Right, because it looks like it increases employment. This is because private firms can employ more people by paying them less. Usually it's the same people doing the same job (or more) for less pay.

An example is hospital cleaning. If you are employed by the NHS to clean hospital wards, your primary motivation will be to make sure patients have a clean ward. If you are employed by a private cleaning company who have been contracted to provide cleaning services, your main motivation will be to do your job. This will be guided by what the company want you to do. They want to increase profits, so you are going to be asked to clean a wider area in the same time as you would have been given before so that the company can see a return on investment.

We are borrowing more because we are cutting very heavily and the work still needs to be done so we pay private companies to come in and do a the same job for profit instead of public benefit. The extra money we are borrowing as a country goes into the pockets of rich people who own established businesses and is then "trickled down" to employees (ie us). Instead of a private companies profits coming from the general public spending their own money (and letting the market decide which businesses are good and bad), public money from the government is used instead.

This Conservative government are more interested in making themselves and people they see as "them" (as in, not you and I) more wealthy. They are helping people who help themselves to help themselves.

This is especially bad for Scotland because we don't spend what we put into the system. We spend what we are given based on a number of factors. We essentially get a share of money in the pot. If the pot is smaller (because the economy is shrinking and money the UK borrow is tied up in private support disguised as public spending) then Scotland gets less. The more moderate approach of the SNP of increasing spending and paying our deficit back slower, as and when the economy grows will never get a chance to see the light of day.

A majority Conservative government who have already committed to even deeper cuts (which even the IMF say are going to harm the economy, not heal it) means less money for Scotland. It means there is less money for the majority SNP government to work with, and means they can't increase public spending at the rate they would like. It means that you and I will still be worse off, despite publicly rejecting right wing politics by voting in the centrist SNP.

Monday, 26 May 2014

"Some Day" Isn't A Real Day

It feels like a prison sentence
living in this town
look around, the same glass ceiling
it really brings me down
some people don't agree
because they feel a sense of freedom
"We could leave if we wanted to,
but we don't have any reason".

David Hume said it best
when talking about free will
it only matters if you *could* do different
but many false steps were made by standing still
so why not take that challenge
see if your freedom's really true
do something unexpected,
completely out of the blue.

Or live life never asking
what could have been if i wasn't "realistic"
if I wasn't safe and "sensible"
If I wasn't so pessimistic
The fear you think you're escaping
will follow you to your grave
and you'll have lived a lonely life
if all you've done is work and save

Leaving great things for your children
is a kind and noble cause
but I promise they'll be happier
instead of hearing what could have been,
stories of what was.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Deferred Life Plan

They say good things come to those who wait
but I think that theory is up for debate.
Sit on your hands and good times will arrive?
I want my pie now, not at sixty five!
That seems like madness,
that seems like wishful thinking
and I'm slowly realising
why everyone is drinking.
But the path to the bottom of the bottle ain't sweet
and the only thing there is the taste of defeat
If you dread Monday coming and then celebrate Friday
you're wishing more than half of your life away.

When did you start your deferred life plan?
Didn't you ever have dreams?
Or do you just have a short attention span?
Look, I know it isn't that easy to start,
but if you're doing nothing now
your life and your dreams will always be miles apart,
and I know you don't believe in immortality
but that's your current rationality.
Just cos Ronan Keating said it, don't make it untrue
Tomorrow never comes...
At least that's the conclusion I've come to

When we see a hardship, some people duck their heads.
Some people wear a hat and pretend they're someone else.
Some people wear a mask, sink down low and disappear,
but some people thrive, and that's why I'm here.

A job doesn't make you happy in the long run,
having values and knowing you live by them
will make you happier than having none.
Remember what a job is for, generating income.
If your job gives you money but robs you of all your time
through worry, stress or working on your own dime
it's a crime, it's voluntary mental slavery.
But for some reason you think that's fine
because the boss will recognise your sacrifice
and reward you by allowing you to climb,
but you'll never reach him, there'll always be another one.
You'll never reach the top, there'll always be another rung.
If you're climbing the wrong ladder, you'll always come undone.

So why climb at all? You can fly! You can have it all.
Open your mind and see that there's another way.
Find someone living your dreams and live their life for a day,
ask how they got there, I bet it wasn't just wishes and prayer.
And as you stare and wonder how to live the life you want
remember you can have it all, all you need to do is make that jump.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Being A Man: A List

Here follows a list of what I feel it is to be a man.
  • A man must break a heart, to truly understand the fragility of the lives he involves himself in
  • A man must have his heart broken, to truly understand his own fragility
  • At least once in his life, a man must fully immerse himself in a sacrificial love
  • A man must have a war against an opposite for without this it is impossible to assert who he is
  • A man provides
  • A man recognises who is really in charge
  • A man knows when to be a man and when to be human
  • A man must find a love he is willing to die with or for

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Thumos

GET DOWN FROM THERE, YOU'LL FALL"
they screamed at me as I climbed
higher and higher, from up here, the world looks so small
ant people scurrying about, their problems don't matter at all
Even if the revolution happens and it isn't televised,
I wouldn't care because I've got my eyes on the prize:
freedom.

"MAN WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO SEE SUCH HEIGHTS"
they cried, but step by step I ascended despite
my fear of constantly moving up, try as they might
those people who scream
NO
can't stop me from taking flight tonight.

Then, there was silence. The kind filled with anticipation and dread
as my foot caught on the top rung of the rope ladder of success
I had almost broke through, I could see the stars shine,
but all the sympathetic cosmonauts offered no hand, nor took mine.
Down I fell and hit every obstacle I had overcome
and the indentation in the ground when I landed
means I start again even lower than where I set off from.

This depth may only be inches, but it may as well be miles,
face down in the mud I can only be concerned with my own trials
and those tiny ant people now tower above me,
as I blunder between their busy legs
"Sorry, I do not wish to bother thee"
I yell in my little, insignificant voice.
Exhausted from a whole day of this, sleep brings no rejoice.

What a fool I was to think that I could climb,
to see things only meant for the eyes of the divine
to be that one in a million who tastes the fruits of their own success.
"Sit down and shut up, you were meant for much less"
Why didn't I listen to the voices which screamed no.
Maybe then I wouldn't have fallen.
Maybe I wouldn't feel so low.

After some time spent gathering my strength
and remembering when happiness was only at arms length
my burlap sack packed with my dreams and Lucozade,
I set out to climb that rope ladder without any aid.
Even though I know I'll probably just fall again
and that the voices which scream are the voices of the safe but mundane
I'm well practised by now so without a fuss
I slowly start to climb again; a modern day Sisyphus.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Absurd Rhymes With Albatross


Of course, it doesn't. But it does rhyme with turd.

As the most curious species
and with brain power to boot
we try to swallow the whole sun
and think the face in the moon is cute.

We pretend that time's a circle
and that we can live this moment again,
we call ourselves unique, like snowflakes
then score beauty out of ten.

We praise multiple gods, and one, or none.
All three are but primitive tools
to deal with the hypocrisy of life. Example?
We teach science in Roman Catholic schools.

We take their valves to work our hearts
but "all pigs do is stink".
Being human is such an absurdity,
all the more because we can think.