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A Citizen's Guide to Making Sense of the World


One of the biggest problems standing in the way of making sense of the world is that most people think they have already managed it.

Once a mind has been made up, once a world view has been put in place, there's no need to look any further, no need to challenge the made up mind that makes us feel at home in the world. The made up mind is not a closed mind, indeed it is open and eager to consume any morsels that nourish and reinforce an already certain outlook, awash with common sense, e.g. the early bird gets the worm. (The notion that the worms may decide to have a lie in is never considered). However, any contrary opinions or evidence will not gain entry, it will be condemned out of hand as nonsense, located in some cockeyed outmoded political ideology .

Where are the bookmarks?

Forgetting, is also a problem, it's not like reading a book, there are no bookmarks to remind of past events, to remind us of the "day the world changed". You remember, September 14, 2007, when citizens queued around the block to get their money back from Northern Rock, driven into the ground by the reckless borrowing of Adam Applegarth. Do you remember, they paid him £750,000 to get lost. An honorable man would have fallen on his sword or become an ascetic monk on a remote Scottish island. Not Applegarth, he joined Apollo Global Management in an effort to rehabilitate himself, by advising on distressed loans. Apollo didn't say why they dumped Applegarth in 2013, we suspect that he was over-reaching himself again.

Do you remember George Osborne told us in 2011:"The time for banker bashing is over. We need to move on.”

Yes, why don't we all move on and forget Steve Crawshaw at Bradford and Bingley and all those 'liar loans', let's forget Hornby, Crosby and Stevenson at HBOS, and Fred Goodwin at RBS, let's forget Mervyn King at the Bank of England and Hector Sants at the Financial Service Agency, sleeping through the whole fiasco and, Gordon Brown and Ed Balls praising the banker's marvelous contribution to the planet; while all the Tory boys and girls applauded from the sidelines. No, let's not move on until the banks get honest.

Not paying attention, that's a problem

TTIP is anti-democratic but ironically the majority of citizens voted for it on May 7, 2015.

In the run up to the election opinion spouters were telling us we must use our vote, choosing between political parties that all seem beige, apart from the Greens obviously, made the choosing a trifle difficult. Now, there must be something that distinguishes one party from the next, perhaps there's one that does not support the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP for short.

TTIP is a soon to be introduced trade deal between the US and the EU. It may surprise you to learn that over one hundred meetings have already taken place to thrash out the details of the deal. Most of those meetings were between the lawyers of multinational companies and EU country reps. You see TTIP is a trade deal with hidden depths. It is not about reducing tariff barriers, it's about removing national and local regulations that protect citizens from sub-standard American goods, everything from cars, to drugs and food stuffs.

At the core of this deal is the notion of investor-state dispute settlement. This will allow companies to sue national governments that impede the sale of their goods by insisting on imposing safeguards and regulations. All disputes will be heard in secret courts, run by three corporate judges.

That's democracy at work!

In June 2015, Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, put forward an 'early day motion' (EDMs) raising concern over the impact of TTIP, 80 MPs signed up supporting the motion, only 22 of those were Labour MPs, none were Tory MPs. Why we may wonder do 580 of our elected representatives have no concerns over one the most far reaching trade deals ever constructed between the US and the EU, a deal in which the US corporations involved hold all the aces. EDMs generally do not get debated in the House, their purpose is to raise awareness of particular issues and perhaps draw some media attention to matters that otherwise may go unnoticed by the electorate, e.g., the investor-state dispute element of TTIP, which will allow corporations to take national governments to secret courts when regulatory disputes arise.