Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Ain't No Party Like A Racist Party


Discontentment breeds hate. Hitler’s rise to power in the 1930s was on the back of the Great Depression, and when you think back to what Hitler managed to start and contribute to our world from exploiting the economic situation, it was a little more than hate.

History repeats itself, and we still haven’t learnt our lesson. At the end of the 1970s, there were vast riots in Lewisham as the National Front took up Hitler’s bandwagon of fascism. Now in 2009, the demon of racism has reared its ugly head again in the form of Nick Griffin and the British National Party.

The BBC tried to raise its viewers, with a risky and high profile appearance of the British National Party leader, Nick Griffin, and it worked. I have always watched Question Time, usually as I am still awake and therefore had the television on whilst I fall asleep. The audience had Nick Griffin at their mercy and a brilliant opportunity to challenge him on his ideas and political policies. However, Nick Griffin came out pretty unscathed as despite the witty, ad-hominem comments and the YouTube ‘remix’ videos, the audience were not really able to fight Nick Griffin with logical arguments.

I was happy that the three major UK parties were able to take a united stand against the BNP. But I’m going to put the blame on them and the BBC for this botch job of standing up to the BNP. The BBC’s unsubtle choice of audience members (particularly the young Jewish boy with a skullcap!) and questions ruined the occasion. It was solely an attack on the BNP, which I am not complaining about but I wish that Nick Griffin was given more of an opportunity to explain himself instead of being heckled. I wanted to find out about the BNP ''policies'', and two very good questions were turned down by David Dimbleby, it seems like a deliberate set up to allow the angry ‘ethnics’ to shout and possibly exemplify the BNP’s stereotype of non-British people.

Similarly, the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrats annoyed me. They had very good arguments, and as a Labour supporter, I did like what Jack Straw had to say. However I feel that these parties did evade some questions and they need to be straight with the public, if we are to ever get rid of the BNP. These immigration figures, misestimates and calculations need to be said as no matter how small the seed of doubt is, the BNP will pick up on it and exploit it.

I am not completely sceptical however, as this Question Time episode became a national talking point particularly on Facebook and amongst my school mates. If it is anyone who needs to watch out, it is the young people in this country who are more open to change, and a mobilisation of the youth taking a stand against racism in this country is extremely dangerous for the BNP.

Currently Listening To: Blame It On The Boogie - Jackson 5

Friday, 23 October 2009

Ticking Me Off #3

Usually, I would have some sort of background story for myself to ramble on about before launching into my blog, but not today. I am well and truly pissed off.


Royal Mail

I want my mail. Having just sent my university application, sometimes the universities send correspondence by post which is quicker than the rate that UCAS Track updates. Well not any more, thanks to the postal strike! The postal strike has been an ongoing crisis that has now accumulated in a mass of wildcat strikes. I am livid. University students are relying on letters from student finance, homeowners on bills, credit cards, chequebooks, and various receipts and refunds. Important things are in the post, I don’t think anyone is foolish enough to take Royal Mail’s job for granted, but I think they are.

Human beings don’t like change. This idea has been proven time and time again throughout the course of history. The management can’t handle the situation and are doing the best they can, but the postmen and women have to co-operate if Royal Mail are going to get anywhere. Royal Mail is losing customers at a rate of 10% a year and they have to modernise so that they can compete. In business speak, modernisation = job cuts. One thing, I think one has to learn from our evolving work climate and from the recession is that there is no such thing as job security. A job for life simply doesn’t exist anymore.

‘We used to work 9 hours a week and now we do 11!’ Oh, my heart bleeds; I probably have school days longer than that, sometimes! The Royal Mail has demolished 1st and 2nd delivery, and they now have fewer hours, but by some miracle I never seem to get post before 11 o’ clock, earliest. These postmen have been pictured in the betting shops, dumping mail or simply posting it back in the post-box for someone else to do it for them. I do not mean to tar all these workers with the same brush, but it is pretty annoying. The fact that they are striking in the midst of a recession is quite frankly ridiculous. 30,000 temporary jobs were up for grabs and 85,000 applied for the jobs; surely, this is not a job worth striking over? Making it hard for the temps to come in and do work, yet cause ‘as little disruption as possible’ is a joke.

What are the solutions to the problem? Lord Mandelson is claiming to be working closely with Royal Mail and it looked like they were coming close to an agreement on Wednesday evening. However, people are either calling for two things: PRIVATISE or LET THE GOVERNMENT SUBSIDISE IT. Privatisation will mean competition and therefore Royal Mail could become a viable business, but there is too much competition out there, Royal Mail could get absolutely slaughtered. If the business is subsidised by the government, the public will take on the huge pension deficit and Royal Mail does end up going belly up, then they could have a real problem on their hands. In China, their mail system is subsidised by the government and it is very efficient, it is more of a cultural thing, nobody would dare strike in China!

In the end, it’s all looking ominous for Royal Mail and it is evident that someone is going to swing for this. So whilst they’re being dismissed, they may as well take a detour to my house and deliver my fucking mail.

Currently Listening To: Million Dollar Bill - Whitney Houston

Monday, 19 October 2009

Free At Last?

A couple of weeks ago, Nigeria celebrated its independence on October 1st, and it has been a republic for 49 years now. As a Nigerian, through the blood of my father, I felt that it was important to do some sort of blog about it, almost like an economic outlook.

Upon reading the Bottom Billion, I reflected on what I had read. Reform is needed and quickly. Nigeria had a finance minister, a very knowledgeable woman whom had worked for the IMF, who was very quickly ousted, despite her major improvements and economic policy making. The Nigerian economy has been shaped by a reputation of political corruption like no other, greed, and fuelled by, well the obvious, oil.

Oil is has lured Nigeria into the trap that so many other countries have had to haul themselves out of, ‘The Natural Recourse Curse’. There are many anecdotes of kidnappings and mysterious disappearances in the Niger Delta region where oil is. My father likened the appearance of Shell in his hometown like the second coming of Jesus. ‘At one point, we believed that Shell was going to save us, the next, we wanted to kill Shell and they wanted to kill us.’ A wasteland ruled by rebels who patrol the area, and attack those who intrude, solely for the liquid beneath the ground. Oil turns people into barbarians – and makes people cruder and ugly than ever. Oil wars have plagued Nigeria, and its presence is almost holy and sacred, but in a warped, twisted way.

Nigeria has also had to contend with a civil war. War and the likelihood of war are both severely important factors for foreign investors, and can slow an economy drastically. (Paul Collier addressed this problem in his book). Nigeria must diversify and stop relying on the oil it has, (oil causes many problems). Nigeria can use its agriculture as another source of income but infrastructure must be improved so that exporting produce is not another problem.

Despite its misgivings, Nigeria has done pretty well in the recession in spite of the price of commodities falling, and most Nigerian banks have been able to raise funds in the midst of this recession. There is a joke that Nigerian banks have made a bigger loss over the past 30 years from pure corruption than this recession!

There is hope, however. Many skilled workers and professionals are returning from the UK and US, if only in drips and drabs, it is a promising sign. These people are hoping for better economic conditions and their return will only boost the economy as they build new business and are employed in important jobs. Nigeria is also labelled as one of the ‘Next 11’ in the emerging markets, alongside countries such as Egypt and Mexico and the BRIC countries. Nigeria is full of potential and promise.

A wise man from the Ivory Coast once said ‘Premier gaou ne gaou, c’est le deuxieme qui niata’. In plain English, don’t make the same mistake twice. I pray that Nigeria don’t fall back into the same trap that they’ve had to make small, awkward movements getting out of.

Currently Listening To: Plans - Bloc Party

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Love’s Not A Competition And I’m Still Not Winning

I’ve decided recently that instead of staring out the window blankly whilst I’m on the bus, that I’m going to use this as an inspiration for writing blog posts and texting them as ‘drafts’ on my phone. God, I need a blackberry.

There was a couple of in front of me today, canoodling. My stomach turned as they gazed into each others eyes longingly, whispering to each other and kissing – giggling and blushing like school children. They only stopped when they received hard stares from real school children who were passengers on the bus and unwilling spectators to their public displays of affection – including myself.

Am I jealous of this couple? Well, slightly. Probably. Both professionals. The guy is blue eyed and tall, very lean and donning an Armani suit. The woman tugging the pricy jacket is similarly gorgeous. Long blond hair caresses her shoulders and it shines in the light. Birds of a feather flock together? Indeed. This is one good looking couple. A literal survival of the fittest.

Economists (I recently thought about this topic when I read the Logic of Life) say that it is definitely more likely that we will marry someone who is similar to us. Similar in what way? It seems that race is the answer to this question. What happens if we were to look at the phenomenon with black African American men and women? 43% of Black women in America – never get married. An alarming statistic! These statistics show that culture plays a massive part. More women than men are getting into higher education – particularly black men. So where are all the black men? Prison. A shocking number on are sentenced to eternal holidays at the steel hotel. A shocking number avoid jail but also avoid college or a decent standard of education. If you are a black man in America with a college degree and you manage steer clear of jail. You can have an astonishing amount of bargaining power, (being a bit of a ‘’geek’’ can work in your favour in this case, I guess!), meaning that these profession black men in America choose not to get married. These cycles begin to repeat themselves, and as a result a cultural thing in Black America is to stay unmarried.

What does this mean for me? I’m English for one, so I’m hoping that we won’t follow the Americans into this trap although it looks likely when you look at the crime figures. I could always decide to marry another race, or rely on probability, of which the law of attraction does not always adhere to. All my experience of romance are fuelled my slightly irrational, hormonal teenage brain rather than the rational thinking of an economist.

The couple get off the bus now; Miss Blonde grips his hand as they glide through the hoard of school children refusing to move. As I predicted they get off at the station, running to catch their train. They look like they earn a bit maybe one day their salaries will be nice enough for a white wedding?

Currently Listening To: Do You Want To - Franz Ferdinand

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Je Viens D'Apprendre La Significance De La Ironie

Sitting at a bus stop, I let my weary head loll against the dirty glass as I contemplate the day that I've left behind me. Cheeky lying year 7s ruining the house elections, a spat - bickering between two old friends, feelings of remorse and self pity. Lack of sleep. Again. I sigh to myself.

Talking to my gracious maths teacher today, he asked whether our generation had ever created anything of recognition. Awkward silence. It was not a comment dripped in sarcasm and coated with arrogance but a simple question worthy of an answer. 'We havent lived yet,' it occured to me, as I rested my eyes, whilst kicking myself for not finding at the time. I had the chance in the holidays. Two actually. A dream come true for the one that I took. I hope that it pays off.

A familiar refrain kicks in. I use my oyster card to tap a rhythm on my lycra covered legs. 'Tonight we can truly say we're invincible?' Sorry not tonight, Matt. I am not. It is my duty, however, to do something of worth with my life even if does not necessarily benefit myself. Interdependence. Dependence. Together, stronger. Sounds like an army speech? I must do better, I must work harder, I must strive for the top. For my mum. The milkman. The baby on the bus sitting across from me; sweet dark brown eyes, soft brown skin, smells of talcum powder. Babies reek of hope, don't they?

Before I even got on the bus, I was confronted by a man and woman - both in suits. I rolled my eyes as she flicked contentedly through the magazine before reaching out to me. 'What can God do for you?' She smiled. I laughed wryly, squinting my eyes in the sun as the bus approached.

Currently Listening To: You Rock My World - Michael Jackson