Not known for his razor sharp mind, it seems that Wayne has not realised that while he can’t see us, we can still see him. A matter for national regret.
Twice during the game the ball was seen to bounce off podge as I know him, having struck him when he was least expecting it. Many times, too many to count, Podge passed directly to an opponent.
What is this drivel about ‘world class player’? Have you seen Lionel Messi or David Silva, or Andres Iniesta? These guys are world class and if he weren’t surrounded by foreign genius at Manchester United, Rooney would soon be seen for what he is. A blind fool with thuggish tendencies. Don’t believe me, think I’m overreacting.? See for yourself. Here is his Twitter address. https://twitter.com/#!/WayneRooney
The really sad fact is that he has more than 4 million followers. Let’s hope most of them are doing it for a laugh.
In an amazing set of proclamations the Convservatives last week attempted to shroud their economic incompetence by demonising a small group of people, the very poor and deprived, and blaming them for our woes. When this runs into trouble as a tactic, as it will since the facts don’t support it, they’ll switch to blaming foreigners (people in Europe) for our ills
Last week, Eric Pickles a man who is clearly not in food-poverty, arrived on our TV screens to tell us that 120,000 problem families were at the root of many of our social ills and that he was going to sort them out. Again, we are told that there are dangerous, unprincipled people out there, our own Al Queda if you like – but not to worry, our good men and true in government will protect us from them.
If you look at the facts more carefully, you’ll see that these are in fact deprived families at the bottom end of our society with few resources.
Here is a more reasoned presentation of the facts:
In terms of mobilising support for this condemnation from the majority of us, it is easy to see that in our anxiety about the loss of our well-being and prosperity, it’s tempting to point the finger at those who look scruffy, down-at-heel, and may be poorly educated or otherwise marked by poverty. Much easier in fact than blaming the robbers in suits who have gambled our wealth away while pocketing the huge proceeds as they did so. This latter group have highly sophisticated PR, marketing and litigation machines at their disposal – and at some, childish and primitive level – we are in awe of the super-rich. We are envious. We dream that one day we might win the lottery and become like them and cease having to care or negotiate with everyone else for our entitlements.
And if, like me, you’re a consultant or a researcher, don’t think that our part of it all is exempt from corruption. Here’s a reminder from Saturday’s New York Times:
“Having fallen from respected insider to convicted inside trader, Mr. Gupta has now exchanged the lofty board room for the prospect of a lowly jail cell.”
So said Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, after Rajat K. Gupta, former head of the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, was convicted of conspiracy and securities fraud.
There is something so cowardly about blaming those who cannot defend themselves that I am ashamed to be a citizen in a country where we pour scorn onto the deprived rather than lending a helping hand, while the rich and powerful across the land push for even greater pay and less regulation of their greedy impulses.
This man is Paul Krugman, Nobel Laureate and – in my view – the best reader of the current economic ills with the most sensible views on how to turn things around. He believes, as I do, that you can’t shrink your way back to greatness!
Here, paraphrased is his demolition of our government’s favourite metaphor about the need for austerity – likening it to a family who has spent too much. He made these remarks several times while in the UK last week to promote his new book: ‘End this Depression Now’.
So why is the British Government reducing investment and slashing thousands of public sector projects and jobs, rather than waiting until the economy is stronger? Here is Krugman’s answer:
“Over the past few days, I’ve posed that question to a number of supporters of the government of Prime Minister David Cameron, sometimes in private, sometimes on TV. And all these conversations followed the same arc: They began with a bad metaphor and ended with the revelation of ulterior motives.
The bad metaphor — which you’ve surely heard many times — equates the debt problems of a national economy with the debt problems of an individual family. A family that has run up too much debt, the story goes, must tighten its belt. So if Britain, as a whole, has run up too much debt — which it has, although it’s mostly private rather than public debt — shouldn’t it do the same? What’s wrong with this comparison?
The answer is that an economy is not like an indebted family. Our debt is mostly money we owe to each other; even more important, our income mostly comes from selling things to each other. Your spending is my income, and my spending is your income.
So what happens if everyone simultaneously slashes spending in an attempt to pay down debt? The answer is that everyone’s income falls — my income falls because you’re spending less, and your income falls because I’m spending less. And, as our incomes plunge, our debt problem gets worse, not better.
And there’s a clear moral to this story: When the private sector is frantically trying to pay down debt, the public sector should do the opposite, spending when the private sector can’t or won’t. By all means, let’s balance our budget once the economy has recovered — but not now. The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity.
And that’s where it gets interesting. For when you push “austerians” on the badness of their metaphor, they almost always retreat to assertions along the lines of: “But it’s essential that we shrink the size of the state.”
Now, these assertions often go along with claims that the economic crisis itself demonstrates the need to shrink government. But that’s manifestly not true. Look at the countries in Europe that have weathered the storm best, and near the top of the list you’ll find big-government nations like Sweden and Austria. These are also countries that are among the happiest in the world, both being in the top 20 for income equality [having low GINI coefficients] and in the top 15 on the UN’s Happiness Index. You’ll find these figures compared with our own country in my next post.
And if you look, on the other hand, at the nations conservatives admired before the crisis, you’ll find George Osborne, Britain’s chancellor of the Exchequer and the architect of the country’s current economic policy, describing Ireland as “a shining example of the art of the possible.” Meanwhile, the Cato Institute was praising Iceland’s low taxes and hoping that other industrial nations “will learn from Iceland’s success.”
So the austerity drive in Britain isn’t really about debt and deficits at all; it’s about using deficit panic as an excuse to dismantle social programs. And this is, of course, exactly the same thing that has been happening in America.
The Chinese have a saying: ‘The Bigger the Front the Bigger the Back” and events over the Jubilee weekend in the UK have shown us both our front and back. The emphasis has been on the front, putting a brave foot forward to rejoice in the sense of being united, together and cheerful in the face of adversity: a recreation of the Spirit of the Blitz, for although the blitz this year is not made of high explosives, it is made of bombshells in the form of poor economic results, job losses, struggle and depression.
The ‘front’ was impressive – a refusal to be bowed or cowed by adversity, a willingness to find some good and things to applaud among the bad news.
Meanwhile in the back, Cameron and his wife were clearly in the audience in front of the Palace last night and were ignored by the commentators. His significance dwindled as the nation turned to tried and trusted emblems of stability and connectedness like the Queen. We even had ‘three cheers for Her Majesty’ – responded to with gusto by the thousands in the Mall and at parties all over the UK.
However, on Wednesday morning we troop back to work and face once again the reality of our situation. Double-dip recessions are extremely rare in the UK. It is quite common for the economy to falter during a recovery with one quarter of negative activity but you have to go back to the mid-1970s, when the first oil shock of 1973-74 was followed by stagflation in 1975, to find a genuine double-dip downturn.
In the past, even during the 1930s, recoveries have been well under way by now. This time, despite the massive stimulus that has been chucked at it, four years into the deepest depression of the post-war era Britain is going backwards. Output is more than 4% below its peak in early 2008, living standards are falling and there is no sign whatsoever of the much-heralded rebalancing of the economy.
This is a terrible blow for the coalition, which now stands accused of over-cooking austerity – as predicted on these pages – and thus killing off the tentative recovery that was under way when Labour left office almost two years ago.
There is a way forward – advocated by the world’s leading economists – the stimulation of growth by the government rather than the ill-fated Quantitative Easing which has been seized upon by the banks as a way of building up their balance sheets and has not been distributed where it could do good – among the SME’s across the land. Osborne’s Thatcherian ‘I am not for turning’ is looking increasingly like the ‘out of touch with reality’ ravings of the Red Queen in Alice. When will they wake up and help us?
The population of this country is approximately 60 million.
32 million are retired.
That leaves 28 million to do the work..
There are 17 million in school or at Universities.
Which leaves 11 million to do the work.
Of this there are 8 million employed by the UK government.
Leaving 3 million to do the work.
1.2 million are in the armed forces preoccupied with fighting in Afghanistan .
Which leaves 1.8 million to do the work.
Take from that total the 0.8 million people who work for Local County Councils. And that leaves 1 million to do the work.
At any given time there are 488,000 people in hospitals or claiming Invalidity Benefit.
Leaving 512,000 to do the work.
Now, there are 511,998 people in prisons.
That leaves just two people to do the work.
You and me.
And there you are,
Sitting on your arse,
At your computer, reading jokes.
Is it any wonder that we are in such a mess and that I am stressed out through trying to cope on my own?
Another reason to dispense with Jeremy Hunt is his ill-informed prejudice against the poor. Hunt argued before the general election that long-term claimants had to “take responsibility’ for the number of children they had, adding that the state would no longer fund large workless families. But it is all based on myths. Just 3.4 per cent of families in long-term receipt of benefits have four children or more.
The Tories transformed a crisis of capitalism into a crisis of public spending, and determined that the most vulnerable would make the biggest sacrifices. But taking away support from the disabled, the unemployed and the working poor is not straightforward. It can only be achieved by a campaign of demonisation – to crush any potential sympathy. Benefit recipients must only appear as feckless, workshy scroungers, living in opulent quasi-mansions with wall-to-wall widescreen TVs, rampaging around the Canary Islands courtesy of handouts from the squeezed taxpayer. Benefit fraud does exist – according to Government estimates, it is worth less than 1 per cent of welfare spending – but the most extreme examples are passed off as representative, or as the “tip of the iceberg”. The reality of struggle and strife is all but airbrushed out of existence.
That really for two reasons: the first is that it simply makes us uncomfortable to think of the abject misery perhaps no more than a stone’s throw from our own homes. The second is that we too, in the middle class are struggling and afraid: our real incomes have diminished steadily since the late 1970′s. We need someone to blame for our growing discomfort. It is too threatening to blame those wealthier and higher up the status ladder than we are: they might fire us or crush us or otherwise disturb our complacency. So we pick on the poor, the weak, the immigrants, the defenceless and create campaigns like those of the Pub Bore Richard Littlejohn in the Mail.
Next, comes fascism and joining together to take measures to punish the feckless scroungers among us. Your unemployed neighbour next year. You the year after?
“It is indisputable that the Government have used the power of fear and nightmares to mobilise the population into acceptance of a desperate situation. For a year now we have been hearing tales of how dreadful it is…how we must cut the deficit…how unsustainable our debts are. How everyone has to take some losses – even those who have next to nothing to start with.
This, I believe has created a cloud of anxiety across the land and no-one has listened to the more reasoned voices of two of the world’s greatest economists, Paul Krugman and Joe Stigliz who have consistently pointed out that in a period of very low interest rates and low inflation, debt is not the problem, stimulating growth and job creation is the issue. Have a look here:
Since then, the growth predicted by Osborne in response to his austerity measures has failed to materialise as these writers predicted. Not only that, sensing the deep unfairness of holding the ‘little people’ to account for these problems driven largely by the greed of the rich & the inefficiency of the state, social unrest and polarisation are blossoming in politics across Europe. Neo-Nazis have taken 7% of the vote in Greece, while the richest 1,000 persons in the UK have increased their wealth by £155 billion over the last three years. That is enough for them alone to pay off the entire UK budget deficit and still leave them with £30 billion to spare. These people have not been subject to any tax payback whatsoever commensurate with their gains.
This is not an anti-capitalism polemic; it is an anti-inequality one. Some 77% of the budget deficit is being repaid by public-expenditure cuts and only 23% by tax increases. These cuts hit the poor the hardest, as does the increase in VAT. Despite the biggest slump for nearly a century, the 1,000 richest are sitting on a cash pile even greater than that at the height of the boom. Their wealth now amounts to £414bn, equivalent to more than a third of Britain’s GDP. The increase in their wealth has been £315bn over the past 15 years. Much of that has been accrued relatively free of taxation through complex accounting and avoidance schemes. If they had been taxed even at the going rate of Corporation Tax of 28% it would yield enough to pay 70% of the entire deficit.
It seems though that virtually the entire population of Westminster – on both sides of the house – cannot turn its hand to recovering tax from the powerful: much easier to cut Sure Start, Tax Credits and benefits from people with small voices. More riots are inevitable unless the Government turns its attention towards growth & claiming tax back from those who can afford it.
This morning on Daybreak, Danny Alexander tried the yabber/blabber technique much beloved of politicians nowadays. This relies on talking so fast that the interviewer can’t get any observation or questions in…like, why have the Coalition lost so many Council seats?
Apparently, [yabber/blabber] it’s because ‘any government – including Tony Blair’s expects a big downturn in the middle of their period in power’. As if that was a natural law, rather than the inevitable outcome of overclaiming, broken promises, self-serving policies and poor decisions. Most worrying of all, everyone is begininng to know it – turnout down to 25%. Three quarters of us don’t see any point in voting…that is really worrying. It means more and more of these fools for years to come! Get out and vote even if you spoil your ballot!
Always keen to bring you a deal, it turns out I can save you a cool 75% on schmoozing with Dave. It’s actually on sale here, for £50K. Presumably all the rest was going straight into Crudd-ass’s pocket.
And you don’t have to eat the prawn cocktail! You can just get drunk at the booze-ups, sorry – receptions, like everyone else.
The link is here, but I republish the text in case you can’t be bothered to scroll to the bottom of the page:
The Leader’s Group
Annual membership: £50,000 Chairman: Howard Leigh
The Leader’s Group is the premier supporter Group of the Conservative Party. Members are invited to join David Cameron and other senior figures from the Conservative Party at dinners, post-PMQ lunches, drinks receptions, election result events and important campaign launches.
It looks as though you get drinks and lunch as well…and there is a new verb in the vocabulary – Daveing – which describes the activity of sticking your head up…well you know the place!
Where shall I start? This is one of the most common misunderstandings of qualitative procedures. It tells both of the quantitative (how much, how many?) orientation of many buyers and practitioners – and more fundamentally in group work – it demonstrates the failure to take the group seriously! It is part of what David Rennie, a brilliant academic commentator on qualitative process calls, “Dragging the chains of positivism along the corridor of qualitative inquiry.” Well put David!
I’m going to tackle the quant. thing first. No matter how many people said or didn’t say something in a qualitative study it has no statistical validity if you try to generalise it to National or Regional or Demographic levels. It may have face validity and be a jolly useful insight that happens to scale up, but it is no test for the frequency or universality of the idea across large populations at this early stage. However, although every sensible client and researcher knows this, it still emerges as the question people have to ask, because they don’t know a language for better questions. It is a failure of the qualitative industry generally to inform and teach our associates better questions to ask of us.
There are hundreds of things we say just because – well – it’s our turn, we’re due to speak, we’re feeling left out. These remarks are likely to be based on winning formulae we’ve used before – which have got us us noticed, past a sticky moment, allayed our inner critic etc. In other words, we say them because we always say them when we’re feeling the need to say something in a situation where we’re trying to do well and must compete for attention with others! Groups are full of such utterances and they exist to promote norms and comfort among participants – not to describe deep-felt feelings or motivations about your brand or product. Because of this, stuff that lots of people say or agree to is likely to be among the least significant of all the things they say. In my experience the really telling remarks are those that stand out from the others!
Insight nearly always emerges from things you haven’t heard before, or things said in a way you’ve never thought of before. It does not reside in polite, safe, normative remarks unless these serve a deeper purpose for the brand or service.
Sadly, the ‘how many of them?’ criterion leads us to focus on the remarks driven by the need to norm as the most significant when they are neither significant or really about the product or service at all!
There is, however, a much more serious problem underlying this: what I call ‘the failure to take the group seriously’. Nearly all of us, practitioners, clients, psychologists alike really harbour the notion that the group is actually a collection of individuals whose statements can be aggregated or counted to generate an analysis. But what if the group can be considered as an entity with character and personality in its own right. And that the people in it, for the time of the group, are parts of a whole? In other words that the voices in the group are sub-personalities of the group personality and that this is in truth the aspect of the group worth attending to. How did it feel to be with this composite person? What parts of this person did you meet (sub-personalities)? What feelings came up in you, the facilitator whilst with this ‘person’? Could these have been feelings travelling around the group? If you had to offer a sensible explanation of this feeling, how would you explain it?
As well as feelings, there is usually a tone of voice that the group ‘finds’ after a while. If you have too intensive a topic guide, this tone of voice is likely to be dependent – waiting for the next question. Such tones are flat, polite, take-it-in-turns in form and resemble people giving answers on a questionnaire in form. As moderator you can encourage spontaneity in tone and content by setting challenges for the group which it cannot solve by normative processes. We teach these challenges in our Breakthrough Psychology Course.
I think this is such an overlooked area in our practice of qualitative research that I will return to it soon.
Can you keep the warm-up down to 5 minutes?
How many times did I hear that request? It is one of the most common misunderstandings of group process to assume that you can cut the warm-up to the briefest of introductions and then proceed with your topic guide as if your participants are really there!
If you were sitting in a group of strangers in an unfamiliar setting about to embark upon an encounter that you hadn’t seen the agenda for, how much of yourself would you have readily available to put on show?
I would be pretty scared, at the very least nervous, and cautious about coming forward. If I were a participant, quickly I would appraise the moderator – the person in charge – and then my fellow members, looking for a friendly or attractive face, decide a strategy (“I’ll take my turn but not go first/make a joke whenever I can/talk about my kids/try to figure out what they really want/look at my knees/feet/coffee/play with my mobile/fiddle with my collar.”)
A whole bunch of displacement activities and mild evasions. Keeping most of themselves hidden. Avoiding awkward silences but not breaking any boundaries or norms.
Into this shy, nervous, occasionally impulsive gathering you must start to ask the questions you have agreed with your client – who may be watching you, while talking to friends and colleagues (about you?) behind the glass – with a glass of wine in hand.
Because it is so unregulated, so lacking in encouragement and invitation to come forward in that first few minutes, it is quite usual that one group member is more outgoing and forward than the others and gets the approval of the moderator for livening things up in these early moments. 30 minutes later this forward person has become a ‘dominant respondent’ and won’t shut up. Dominant respondents are only 10% driven by dispositional factors: the other 90% is the result of poor group process.
If you do the first twenty minutes differently you will never be bothered by dominant respondents again – or even if the odd unquenchable tongue-wagger shows up – you’ll know exactly what to do. See the Top Tip 10 Next Week.
This my friends is a ManCan.
That’s a man’s candle to you. I was amused to find them as a result of a 13 year old’s entrepreneurism at:
What is most fascinating is the ‘flavours’ or should I say ‘odours’? Not Lady Gaga onstage, or Beyonce b4 JayZ, no! Guess what, the one in the picture is Bacon, and to go with it there’s Pizza, Campfire, Sawdust (?) and Grandpa’s Pipe.
This is innovation indeed. It has a touching level of naivety, so will probably be a hit with that sex that’s known for its love of toys.
What do you think? I’m hoping to experience one at an evening at your house soon! My wife is CandleChief at my place!
If you’ve seen any pictures of Nick Clegg in the papers or on TV recently, they’re not a pretty sight. For the budding psychologists among us, these photos clearly show the troubled face of a man with an Integrity issue. Such issues arise as a result of broken promises or commitments –and because they are known as such by both the accused and his accusers they provoke shame & guilt. These two inner foes are a bit like the armies of the night of our inner worlds, they harass with critical voices (see Psychology On A Page: TA this week).
Not only does he have to face a new self where his integrity has been breached but he must face what must seem like betrayal from his buddy Dave, who used all kinds of underhand tactics to attack the Alternative Voting proposals. Nick’s place must be very lonely and blue just now. Both his own side and his erstwhile partners seem to dislike and lack respect for him. What can he do?
In 2003, working for my good friend Joseph Debacq, we were both somewhat terrified of Joseph’s boss at Singapore Airlines, the formidable Yap Kim Wah!
Mr Yap, as he was known, had many qualities which led to him being feared and respected among us juniors and I remember him at one encounter saying to us all: “you don’t get what you expect, you get what you inspect!” He was referring to the need for constant vigilance by senior management on board the aircraft – checking the loos for cleanliness and that the cabin and aircrew were making their rounds and keeping to their agreed pattern of service, announcements and contact with passengers. I had not realised that Singapore Airline’s terrific service was in part a result of serious, consistent monitoring. I had bought the wishful dream planted by the advertising that Singapore girl was an exceptional, beautiful handmaiden who, secretly, could not resist my charms! My illusions were shattered as insight dawned!
It has become fashionable to mock inspections – especially those by Health & Safety Inspectors as the interference of busy-bodying bureaucrats – blamed for banning conker games at school, running in the playground and driving your fork-lift truck at more than 5mph.
A journalist I admire, Johann Hari in the Independent – who fights a lone battle against the cuts and their undermining of basic protections for working people – puts it much better than I can:
I think Mr Yap might agree! What do you think? It would be great to get views from my readers outside and in the UK. While you’re watching ‘that’ wedding, go to your computer and post!
We set out on the Easter weekend with high hopes. We had no idea that Staycationing (taking a holiday in the UK for overseas readers) would prove such a dire experience. What happened? What went wrong?
To be honest we had become so used to holidaying in Italy that we had forgotten about the English and the Rules of Englishness. Why does this matter? Well first we need to remind ourselves of Kate Fox’s brilliant summary of these rules in her book, ‘Watching the English’ (2004):
The key thing to remember is the quality of ‘social unease’ that clings to the English when they are thrown together – whether amongst familiars or strangers.
It’s hard not to feel awkward in English company. If you look at the diagram you’ll see at the centre that ‘awkward’ is the way you’re expected to feel. So the first experience we had, on meeting our Bed &Breakfast hosts – who were perfectly nice – was a feeling of timidity, awkwardness and the need to pretend to be comfortable, even though the accommodation was far from uplifting: small poky spaces, kettles and electric points that didn’t work, a barren and utilitarian character that didn’t invite warmth or conviviality.
Even that was not fundamentally the issue: the point is that once under the thrall of awkwardness there is little opportunity or invitation to establish the boundaries of the deal. Were we invited/allowed to walk/sit in their garden? Did the eggs on sale in the porch apply to us – or were ours free, and if so, how many? They made us a fresh loaf which was nice, but we are currently not eating wheat/grains, so the loaf was useless. They didn’t ask us what, if anything we would like to make our stay more pleasant! We were left feeling constantly on edge.
This is a real problem with what I’ll call civilian as opposed to professional service. Ordinary folk trying to serve strangers tend to imagine what they would like in similar circumstances, do that for you and call it service. As a recipient you are left, having to resort to moderation, humour and pretending to like what has been done to you (rather than for you).
Inevitably you feel hacked off and resort to complaining the minute your hosts’ backs are turned. Oh to have been Americans who would have helped themselves to all the eggs, tramped all over the garden with their cameras, while lobbing a twangy “Where’re y’all from?” at their hosts. Perhaps in another lifetime!