The Deal with Wonga

This is the deal with Wonga. They are a pay day lender. That makes PAY DAY a key word. They are a service to get you through a few days of desperation, at a premium price.

I just heard on the news of a lady who borrowed £275 to buy a new cooker, and ended with £10,000 of debt. Clearly she didn’t understand how Wonga works.

It won't sting if used properly

It won’t sting if used properly

These are the figures: Borrowing £275 + Interest & fees £44.77  = Total to repay £319.77
(see picture for more details)

If you treat Wonga like an ordinary loan then yes, you will get into trouble.

I recently read Planet Ponzi, a fantastic book by Mitch Feierstein about how the financial markets got as they are. His top advice for anyone buying into financial markets is only to invest in things that you fully understand the mechanics of. When you are buying a cooker on a loan, it’s easy to think that that might not apply to you as a consumer. But it does in every way. The cooker is what you invest in. The dividends of the investment are being able to feed your family in the latent time before your next pay check. If you don’t understand that this is an extremely short term loan, then you are foolish to invest in it.

Now to the Church of England. If the social problem at hand is down to borrowing, why is the church teaching people that the solution is borrowing at a more affordable rate, and then providing the service? Loans are meant to be for absolutely desperate situations. If you cant afford items you desperately need, get a sensible long term loan with low interest rates. If you only need to wait till next Friday, live with it.

The solution is education. Teach people how financial systems work. Teach people to be self reliant. Teach them to save for a rainy day. Teach them to constantly strive to improve and earn more. Teach them that credit is for exceptional circumstances, like a house or education.

Welsh Cycling: So Close Yet So Far

If you haven’t yet seen my page entitled ‘The Manifesto‘, I encourage you to check it out now.

I talk about how in rural places like Wales, it the case that there will be a big flat highway running through the low ground, while the cycle route runs up hill and down dale. Rather back to front considering which has more power.

But I see it that way because bikes really are under used as a solution to carbon (and all the other dodgy gasses) emissions, traffic congestion, dependence on oil and other matters.

Yesterday my family and I went cycling on route 5 of the national cycle trail towards Llandudno instead of towards Bangor, and I couldn’t believe my eyes.

The cycleway, modelled by mum!

The cycleway, modelled by mum!

After racing down the promenade of Penmaenmawr, we entered what is in every sense a road for cycles. It had dividing lines, good width, new surface, but most of all, it was flat and ran in parallel with the A55 highway. Since this road is one of the most useful things that ever happened to North Wales, I hope that describes just how beneficial this is. A direct flat route that ran between Penmaenmawr and Conwy. That leg of your journey can be done quickly and comfortably.

People can commute very effectively using bikes over some distance (I’d say 15 miles or more) if the conditions are right. Contrast this with the route in the other direction, which climbs up into the hills for a long stretch, and is quite challenging when you’re also up against the prevailing headwinds. It removes the opportunity for cycling from the common man.

A fantastic upgrade to our cycle routes would be to snap up just a little more land on one side of the A55 expressway and continue this cycle road right the way to Bangor. And of course, follow the same train of thought into other cities. Market that properly and next thing you know, there might be traffic queuing on the cycle way.

Have a look at the route for yourself, see what you think. Google route 5 on the National Cycle Trail.

Are you a cyclist in North Wales? Do you think I’m barking mad or might I actually have a point? Discussion and comments are welcome below, or tweet @chrisjbarker89.

See also:
Riding Route 66, the British Way!

Tony Blair Part II: The Marxist Approach

Looks Fun!

Looks Fun!

This is in response to my previous post, ‘Tony Blair: A Modern Day Hero’, in which I pooped on Mr Blair’s PR campaign that paints him and his deeds as good as gold, while he sponges off public money to peddle an agenda that conveniently makes him rich.

Your thoughts Karl Marx?

A part of the bourgeoisie is desirous of redressing social grievances in order to secure the continued existence of bourgeois society.

To this section belong economists, philanthropists, humanitarians, improvers of the condition of the working class, organisers of charity, members of societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, temperance fanatics, hole-and-corner reformers of every imaginable kind. This form of socialism has, moreover, been worked out into complete systems.

In requiring the proletariat to carry out such a system, and thereby to march straightway into the social New Jerusalem, it but requires in reality, that the proletariat should remain within the bounds of existing society, but should cast away all its hateful ideas concerning the bourgeoisie.

By changes in the material conditions of existence, this form of Socialism, however, by no means understands abolition of the bourgeois relations of production, an abolition that can be affected only by a revolution, but administrative reforms, based on the continued existence of these relations; reforms, therefore, that in no respect affect the relations between capital and labour, but, at the best, lessen the cost, and simplify the administrative work, of bourgeois government.

Free trade: for the benefit of the working class. Protective duties: for the benefit of the working class. Prison Reform: for the benefit of the working class. This is the last word and the only seriously meant word of bourgeois socialism.

Marx & Engels (1888)

So basically, you are cordially invited to remain where you are in society under the promise that these rich folk will make those rich folk share their wealth with you. You aren’t entitled to your equal share of the nations wealth, and you’ve relinquished numerous freedoms that could have given you the capacity to produce wealth for yourself. Now big government is in control, and is swallowing the responsibilities of taking care of everybody elses affairs, presenting the front of a humanitarian mission. Conveniently this really creates extra work to keep the political class minted for a lifetime. And noone dare speak against it, because that would be inhumane and unequalitable. But they keep the top buck, while thousands of ordinary people, the very people that the social biourgeois claim to help, come under ever tighter pressure to have a comfortable life, never mind accruing wealth.

What is commonly referred to today as socialism and communism has little connection or unanimity to the manifesto written by Marx and Engels. Think for yourself, discover what the political class’ real agenda is.

Leaders vs. Managers

The difference between management and leadership is that managers job’s are to get things done using people. Leaders on the other hand, while have a vision of accomplishment, realize goals through building and empowering people, and teaching them in such a way that the individual is united with the leader, understanding their role in the ecosystem. Often management tactics involve coercion and manipulation to get the job done, because the manager hold the mandate to complete the job, even though the successful completion requires the participation of all.

Looking at that then politically, what are we voting for? A leader or a manager? Are we looking for someone to get the job done, no matter what? Or are we looking for someone to inspire people to project themselves, in order to see goals reached by and for themselves?

Karl Marx successfully pointed out the follies of a system that distinguishes the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. His works have been used as justification for socialist movements across Europe and spreading now across North America. Yet the initiatives of many politicians and campaigns today create only a management platform, through which we elevate the politicians and consider it their job to solve our problems.

What we have ended with is a management team over the nation, who make changes and manipulations in order to cause people to comply. It might represent the opinions of the majority of voters, but it absolves them of personal responsibility. You can take the horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

A real leader empowers people to solve their own problems, and gives people ownership of their own affairs. Instead of calling for a manager to represent how we see the world, we should be voting a leader who has the qualities that instil confidence in people, teaches them the fundamental principles off which society grows, and then lets people care for themselves as free men and women.

How I Think Economics is Being Used as an Acceptable Dictatorship

This post is written in response to ‘Unlimited Freedom: A Falsehood’, by Joel Sparks.

Here is a principle that will split people down the middle. I recently read the article by Mr Sparks that argues the hypocrisy of the american people, fighting for their freedom to bear arms, even though the freedom of life should supersede the impacts usually blamed on the second amendment. However, freedom is an emotionally charged and frequently misused construct. In fact, in the United States’ declaration of independence, the right referred to is not that of freedom, but of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I maintain, that the second amendment is more important today than it ever was. The second amendment was not put in place so everybody could carry a weapon down town. It was contained in the constitution as a protection from tyranny.

A tyrant is a political leader who cruel and oppressive, and who has usurped constitution and gained undemocratic control of a sovereignty. Can you see any ways that is happening today?

What about the politicians using money manipulations to rob from the people to sustain their borrowing, which despite all the terrible consequences looming down the line, keeps them in power? That could be done Cyprus style (simple theft), or it could be done the British way (zero percent interest rates, quantitative easing, inflation, value of money falls).

What about the anti competitive acts, now sponsored by the US government in the on line and social media industries. The back door government pass that Facebook, Twitter, Google, Apple and others have allowed, as well as the surveillance of other countries’ phone’s and internet use. These supposed anti-terror measures, becoming enshrined in law could also be easily abused to steal ideas and control peoples’ day to day lives.

Such tyranny showed itself unquestionably in the 1950’s, with the McCarthy communist trials. People were pressured to confess acts never committed, and denial’s were manipulated to convince the prosecution of completely fictional communist involvement. Or there was the ‘executive order 6102’ of the 1930’s, in which the US government criminalised the hoarding of gold bullion, a time tested means to protect legitimate investors from economic woes.

What do you think, when you see banks bailed out with our money, not so economic activity can resume, but so balance sheets can be cushioned out a bit, while their own investment schemes can go on unharmed. All the money stays at the top while so called surf’s earn less money in real terms than they ever have. Or when you see intellectual property owners charging $20-50+ for a single journal article. With their wealth, lobbying and government involvement, we become increasingly powerless to stop it.

What about the manipulations on the world gold price today? That is, the strategic selling of paper gold (ie. gold that doesn’t actually exist), which hides wide distrust in the world currencies. Currency, a measure of wealth with (ironically) no gold standard is constructed by the government. As governments fight against gold, silver and bitcoin, by trying to force all activity to be mediated in fiat currency, what limit will they stop at to hold control of your liberties?

And what is the effect of it all? It means we live in a world where we think only graduate jobs have worth, and where the people who create wealth get increasingly less of it. This restricts opportunity for self actualisation through the ability to provide a balanced life for oneself and family. Recreation is increasingly restricted. How many leisure activities, particularly those that pump adrenaline or stretch you, now have so many strings attached to them that it is hard for people to pursue them at a fair price. You simply can’t go road tripping, boating, mountaineering or caving, unless you have real money. A nation of vegetables now exists, glued to Facebook and sky TV. Is that tyranny enough for you? Do you call that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

Photo Credit: tvtropes.org

Photo Credit: tvtropes.org

The case for the right to life has made a lot of people a lot of money. John Lennon even sings “Imagine there’s … Nothing to kill or die for’. Well actually, with the decreased liberty through financial and legislative control (tyranny), we’re approaching that world now. And it’s boring. Risk’s and experiences that make us feel alive are being taken away. The second amendment is a right that protects people from this theft of people’s liberty, with intrinsic worth. A genuinely upset american population, all armed, would not be one that I would fancy taking on. Europe on the other hand now sits helpless.

The declaration of dependence fights not for freedom, but for ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’. Unless accompanied by the other two, life is pretty purposeless.

The Problem with Pensions

I got a letter from one of my employers last week letting my know that in September, should my wage cross a certain boundary, I would be automatically enrolled in their pension scheme. What a fantastic idea. In case you hadn’t heard, the government has run out of money, and since it can’t afford any more to maintain our ageing population, due to the stupid expenditures it has committed itself to, we have to cover ourselves.

Okay, nice idea. What’s wrong with that? It’s fair enough isn’t it? I know all the socialists will be up in arms just on the principle of it. But yeah, we earn our money, we invest it prudently in a pension scheme so we have something to live off once we retire.

So we’re now legally obliged to invest more money in the banks, which if I remember, are the same banks that have all just spent the last five years bordering insolvency due to frivolous investment. Right… So as the world treads into an ever deeper banking crisis, who is forced to deposit their money into insolvent banks? Us. You and me.

I always had a better idea to prepare for my retirement, and thanks to this new legislation, that now has a fresh hurdle. Rather than giving my money to some fat cat banker to invest, why can’t invest it myself? Why can’t I take the money I would have put into my pension my whole life long, and build up businesses, wisely chosen commodities or property, and live from the dividends that would produce. That would not only be industrious, a strength to the economy, and a very satisfying occupation for my final years, but it would support me better than any pension would.

But most people don’t want that. They don’t want to do the leg work to become self reliant. They want someone to make them a job, and give them a pension. Now that they’ve drawn so much from the government, they have to draw from their employers instead, but it’s just passing the bomb onto someone else. Ultimately all this money has to somehow come from the only part of the economy that produces wealth: the private sector. So unless some more people start making an effort again soon to produce real wealth, this system is going to collapse and fall.

Tony Blair: A Modern Day Hero

Tony BlairI came across the website last night for the office of Tony Blair, but I had to check twice, in case I had mistaken it for the New Testament.

For it came to pass, that Tony Blair did go forth into Jerusalem where which he spake unto the people of Isreal. And as he gave utterance, he did say unto the people that their fight was not one people against another, but did warn all peoples to unite against those of a closed mind. 

In fact the chapters of Tony Blair’s gospel go on and on. He travelled the world from Africa to North London, coordinating philanthropic work and teaching the world how open mindedness is the solution to everything. And once I had read his list of 50 achievements for the British people – a wealth of figures of more policemen on the streets, less unemployment, lots of schools turned around. You would honestly consider this guy miraculous until you link it with the debt acquired to reach those goals, and how the population has now become dependent on government handouts instead of learning to look after themselves.

And this is it, in this generation it happens time and time again. Politicians are willing to say and do anything that will keep them in a job. Never mind the billions and trillions of debt, due to irresponsible and unaccounted spending. Never mind that our children and our children’s children will be living through austerity to compensate what seemed like a clever vote winner now.

Tony’s cronies literally hoodwinked the majority of the British electorate into believing that the things he was delivering came without cost or consequence. He hid the costs of his borrowing in the middle class prosperity and working class wage increases leaving us where we are now: with the bubble burst and the value of money dropping back down to reality.

Let’s hope that now people can learn that there truly is no such thing as a free meal. That all wealth and increase comes through real labour. Hopefully now people will hold their politicians to account, and properly scrutinize where things are coming from. Instead of voting through the mindset of my old life skills teacher: coz he looks good!

See the sequel: Tony Blair Part II: The Marxist Approach