Archive for June, 2015


Victory to Anti – Opencast Campaigners – NO to Nant Llesg
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A blog by my good friend Deb a.k.a Baaarbaraaa Sheep detailing the fantastic result last Wednesday

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I’m off to Glasto, doing my volunteering. Back in July. Behave yourselves folks!

BY GOD BELIEVE IN SOMETHING!?

Recently actor Michael Sheen visited Tredegar and in an impassioned speech and from the bandstand of  Bedwellty House and Park, said:

“You must stand up for what you believe, but first of all, by God, believe in something!”

Please Share – from United Valleys Action Group

RE: Nant Llesg Opencast Mine Proposal Planning Decision, Weds June 24th, from 1pm.

We cannot stress how important it is to have large numbers o our communities at the planning meeting in Ty Penallta Ystrad Mynach on Weds 24th of June.

The council have set aside 3 rooms including the canteen to accomodate the public. With video links to the meeting.

If only 20 people turn up we will have very little impact on the meeting and the mountain and moorland west of Rhymney will be lost forever and we will face Fifteen to Twenty years of devastation from the UK’s biggest opencast mine, possibly with a scenario of it being turned into the UK’s biggest rubbish dump? Who knows?

*A BUS WILL BE PICKING UP THROUGHOUT RHYMNEY AND PONTLOTTYN STARTING 1PM ON THE DAY. 
Please INBOX @United Valleys Action Group Facebook page and we will give you a number to ring to be added to the list.

Would you rather when your kids look up at the mountain and see the opencast, be able to tell them I tried to stop it, or, tell them I sat indoors and let them do it.

Better still when you take your kids and grand kids for a walk on the common.

You can say – “I HELPED SAVE AND PROTECT THIS FOR YOU!!!”

Our Last Chance To Stop Opencast

Our Last Chance To Stop Opencast

The Risk to Property Prices and RESALE value is ENORMOUS if Nant Llesg OPENCAST is given go ahead.
Who the hell will want to move to Pontlottyn or RHYMNEY when it is blighted by OPENCAST for fifteen years, then a possible decade of shale mounds and weeds as grass seed tries to grow where there is no soil or clay and where no creature can live?

We found out from two Caerphilly borough councillors at Ty Penallta yesterday that a wind turbine application for Gelligaer Common, 4 miles south from what would be the UK’s largest proposed opencast site at Nant Llesg, was denied due to “Visual Impact”!
One quote was; “You can’t make this shit up!”

THIS IS VISUAL IMPACT!!!

THIS IS VISUAL IMPACT!!!

THE view from Gelligaer Common of the multi million tonne spoil heaps of Ffos Y Fran taken last April 2014, the same Gelligaer Common where CCBC planning committee refused a wind turbine yesterday due to “Visual Impact”… If this isn’t “Visual Impact” I don’t know WTF is?!!!
From the stunning views of Pen Y Fan and the Morlais Iron Age fort taken from a site which Arthur Pendragon once rode. To 2014,now looking across a dump of wasteland that stinks of corruption and money leaching out of a deprived community that has not benefitted from the spoils.
This photo wasn’t in the propaganda brochures for the proposed Nant Llesg project next to this that the company had produced by their Bristol based PR company. Funny that?

A question was asked in the open meeting in Rhymney last Wednesday about Huw Lewis our Assembly Minister. Earlier this year we disclosed payments made to Huw Lewis’ election campaign were made by Bernard Llewellyn, the OPENCAST mining magnate…

“An election flyer produced by a Labour community council candidate in Fochriw has been brought to our attention. It states that a community councillor undertook a survey of residents and over 90% were concerned about the prospect of an opencast so close to the community. It goes on to say, “Labour member Robert Chapman added, Talking to local people, I know how much concern there is about Nant Lesg (Llesg). I want to work closely with Cllr Hardacre and Labour Community Councillors to echo these concerns.” Historically in Merthyr, Labour did nothing to help residents attempts to fend off the other Miller Argent opencast Ffos y Fran. The residents against Ffos y Fran website tells their story,http://www.stopffosyfran.co.uk Residents are still having problems with dust, light pollution and vibration – is there any help for these people who are suffering? Definitely not from the Labour Party. In fact Huw Lewis AM received a campaign donation of £10,000 from Bernard Llewellyn of Miller Argent.

So if you think that Labour will protect residents from Nant Llesg, going on past Labour deeds they won’t!

Take a look at the Map (here: http://caerphilly.opus3.co.uk/ldf/maps/ldp-proposals-map#x=312141.64836834&y=206754.56939826&l=310637.0519586&r=313646.24477808&t=207613.58282328&b=205895.55597324&scale=10000&356&157 ) – the area’s that are hatched are coal safeguarded so have the potential to be opencasted…. if Nant llesg gets approved.. where next???

We’ve (UNITED VALLEYS ACTION GROUP) had info yesterday that the whole of Bedwellty Mountain Common, from Markham to Cefn Golau has been sold off to you know who!
The fuckers are getting ready for phase three!
Markham people are up in arms.
I have been warning and warning people what’s coming for the last few years if they don’t act next week at CCBC planning hearing on the 24th.
We’ll all be dead before the opencasts have finished and every mountain will have been destroyed around here.
The mineral rights below Abertysswg were snapped up two month ago, the whole of Rhymney Hill from Pen Bryn Oer to the golf course is also targeted (the 1980s Shepherd Hill site). Mark my words. I we fail next week. These upper valleys villages and towns will be sacrifice zones, unfit to live in or bring up a family… For many decades!

Three nights. No Sleep.
DEEP THINK.
Political and moral philosophy carries personal risks… philosophy teaches us and unsettles us by confronting us with what we already know…
It takes what we know to unfamiliar settings and makes it strange.
Philosophy estranges us from the familiar… by inviting and provoking a new way of perceiving. Once the familiar turns strange, the world is never quite the same again.
Self knowledge is like the loss of innocence. However unsettling one finds self knowledge, it can NEVER be un-thought, or, un-known.
Moral philosophy is a story, but where the story leads you don’t know, but what you know, is that the story is about you.
Philosophy is a distancing and debilitating activity. It destroys to create.
Philosophy is “a pretty toy” if one indulges at the right time of life, but if pursued further it leads to absolute ruin. (Plato)
Philosophy distances one from established conventions, assumptions and settled belief. Those are the risks. And in the face of risk, there are unavoidable and inescapable questions of existence that persist. Skepticism is an evasion, THE evasion.
“skepticism is a resting place for reason where it can reflect upon dogmatic wandering but is no place for permanent dwelling, to acquiesce (to skepticism) can never overcome the restlessness of reason.” – Immanuel Kant.

John Stuart Mill, in his seminal On Liberty, wrote,

“Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.”

The remark carries a number of significant implications. It defines an intolerant person as one who wishes others to live as he thinks they ought, and who seeks to impose his practices and beliefs upon them. It says that the human community benefits by permitting a variety of ways of life to flourish, because they represent experiments in dealing with the human condition from which much might be learned. It iterates the premise that no one has the right to tell another how to be or to act, provided that it does no harm to others. (The main facet of “the Golden Rule”).

These are the tenets of liberalism, a word of malediction or curse among those who fear that unless a tight grip is kept on human thoughts and instincts, the earth will break open and demons will rise.

But this “Live and let live” tolerance is also the paradox of liberalism. Liberalism urges tolerance of opposing viewpoints, and allows them to have their say, leaving it to a democracy of different ideas and viewpoints to decide which should prevail.

Often the result is the death of toleration, because those who live by “hard principles” and uncompromising views in political, moral and religious respects always, if given half a chance, silence liberal free thinkers, because liberalism, by its nature, threatens the hegemony that they seek to impose.

Should the tolerant tolerate the intolerant?” To this question the answer should be a resounding “No“.

Tolerance has to protect itself. It can easily do so by saying that anyone can put a point of view, but no one can force another to accept it. The only coercion should be that of argument, the only obligation should be to honest reasoning.

Helen Keller said;

“the highest result of education is tolerance,”

and she is right; (in most cases at least) the unbiased reasoning of an informed mind will come out in favour of what is good and true.

Intolerance is a psychologically interesting phenomenon because it is symptomatic of insecurity and fear. Fear of the other, fear of change, fear of self-worth. A confronting of ones own dissonance.

Religious Zealots who would, if they could, persecute you into conforming with their way of things, might claim to be trying to save your soul despite yourself, but are really doing it because they feel threatened.

ISIS/The Taliban, force women to wear veils, to stay at home, and to give up education and work, because they are afraid of women’s freedom, their innate sexuality.

The old become intolerant of the younger generations when alarmed by youth’s indifference or scorn towards what they have long known and held dear. Fear begets intolerance, and intolerance begets fear: the cycle is a vicious one.

Tolerance isn’t about the coin flip of acceptance and rejection. I tolerate a belief or a practice without accepting it. One example may be Gay marriage?

I often say “if you don’t like Gay marriage, don’t get Gay married! Who am I to stop two people’s conjoined misery?” We as a civilisation, have to recognize that there is plenty of room in the world for alternatives to coexist, and that if one is offended by what others do it is because one has allowed it to get under ones skin.

Socrates’ “Know Thyself” < temet nosce > is a warning, and is applied to those whose boasts exceed what they are, it is a warning to pay no attention to the opinion of the multitude.

In Plato’s Phaedrus, Socrates uses the maxim ‘know thyself‘ as his explanation to Phaedrus for why he has no time for mythology or other far flung topics. Socrates says, “But I have no leisure for them at all; and the reason, my friend, is this: I am not yet able, as the Delphic inscription has it, to know myself; so it seems to me ridiculous, when I do not yet know that, to investigate irrelevant things.

I think we only tolerate others best when we learn and understand how to tolerate ourselves: learning how to do so is the aim of civilised life. I would like to think my Art is a weapon against intolerance.


“You’ve gotta tolerate all those people that you hate, I’m not in love with you, but I won’t hold that against you.” Juxtaposed With U, SFA

At The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy, N.Y., May 2015, Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges spoke for over an hour about how his new book, “Wages of Rebellion,” differs from his previous works, including, the public loss of faith in the political process and the revolutionary potential bubbling beneath the surface of American life.

SACRIFICE ZONES

ENVIRONMENTAL CRISIS

ECONOMIC CRISIS

UNFETTERED UNREGULATED CAPITALISM

What it takes to Rebel

GLOBAL CAPITALISM

We are passive in front of our electronic hallucinations

Movements of Mass Civil Disobedience

Cornell West

Noam Chomsky

Susan Sontag

Mechanisms of coercion and violence

Paramilitarised police

It struck me that all the aspects of “inverted totalitarianism” (which Hedges highlights and defines early on) can in fact be seen today in the European Union, where the financial industry has in fact made the sovereign governments of member nations subservient to their whim and have even begun to implement what is essentially “inverted socialism” by means of austerity to weaken governments and social programs and then strengthening these same financial industries with bail-outs. (SOCIALISM/ANARCHISM for the Richest, Austerity for Everyone Else!).

The EU is to inverted totalitarianism is to what the USSR is to true totalitarianism, except in the EU we are seeing true socialism applied but to corporations and a kind of “let them eat cake” feudalism to the population.

It’s like the corporate world had been waging a war with the population, which it in fact had been doing, due to the population starting the war by adopting democratic values.

The population then lost the war and is now being punished with a kind of “Treaty of Versailles” where they must pay reparations to the corporate state, just as the Wiemar Republic did after World War 1.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/4dc7ab46-0424-11e3-a8d6-00144feab7de.html#axzz3dAA8MvsG

By Tim Harford

The more unequal a society, the greater the incentive for the rich to pull up the ladder behind them

When the world’s richest countries were booming, few people worried overmuch that the top 1 per cent were enjoying an ever-growing share of that prosperity. In the wake of a depression in the US, a fiscal chasm in the UK and an existential crisis in the eurozone – and the shaming of the world’s bankers – worrying about inequality is no longer the preserve of the far left.
There should be no doubt about the facts: the income share of the top 1 per cent has roughly doubled in the US since the early 1970s, and is now about 20 per cent. Much the same trend can be seen in Australia, Canada and the UK – although in each case the income share of the top 1 per cent is smaller. In France, Germany and Japan there seems to be no such trend. (The source is the World Top Incomes Database, summarised in the opening paper of a superb symposium in this summer’s Journal of Economic Perspectives.)

But should we care?

There are two reasons we might: process and outcome. We might worry that the gains of the rich are ill-gotten: the result of the old-boy network, or fraud, or exploiting the largesse of the taxpayer. Or we might worry that the results are noxious: misery and envy, or ill-health, or dysfunctional democracy, or slow growth as the rich sit on their cash, or excessive debt and thus financial instability.
Following the crisis, it might be unfashionable to suggest that the rich actually earned their money. But knee-jerk banker-bashers should take a look at research by Steven Kaplan and Joshua Rauh, again in the JEP symposium. They simply compare the fate of the top earners across different lines of business. Worried that chief executives are filling their boots thanks to the weak governance of publicly listed companies? So am I, but partners in law firms are also doing very nicely, as are the bosses of privately owned companies, as are the managers of hedge funds, as are top sports stars. Governance arrangements in each case are different.
Perhaps, then, some broad social norm has shifted, allowing higher pay across the board? If so, we would expect publicly scrutinised salaries to be catching up with those who have more privacy – for instance, managers of privately held corporations. The reverse is the case.
The uncomfortable truth is that market forces – that is, the result of freely agreed contracts – are probably behind much of the rise in inequality. Globalisation and technological change favour the highly skilled. In the middle of the income distribution, a strong pair of arms, a willingness to work hard and a bit of common sense used to provide a comfortable income. No longer. Meanwhile at the very top, winner-take-all markets are emerging, where the best or luckiest entrepreneurs, fund managers, authors or athletes hoover up most of the gains. The idea that the fat cats simply stole everyone else’s cream is emotionally powerful; it is not entirely convincing.
In a well-functioning market, people only earn high incomes if they create enough economic value to justify those incomes. But even if we could be convinced that this was true, we do not have to let the matter drop.
This is partly because the sums involved are immense. Between 1993 and 2011, in the US, average incomes grew a modest 13.1 per cent in total. But the average income of the poorest 99 per cent – that is everyone up to families making about $370,000 a year – grew just 5.8 per cent. That gap is a measure of just how much the top 1 per cent are making. The stakes are high.
I set out two reasons why we might care about inequality: an unfair process or a harmful outcome. But what really should concern us is that the two reasons are not actually distinct after all. The harmful outcome and the unfair process feed each other. The more unequal a society becomes, the greater the incentive for the rich to pull up the ladder behind them.
At the very top of the scale, plutocrats can shape the conversation by buying up newspapers and television channels or funding political campaigns. The merely prosperous scramble desperately to get their children into the right neighbourhood, nursery, school, university and internship – we know how big the gap has grown between winners and also-rans.
Miles Corak, another contributor to the JEP debate, is an expert on intergenerational income mobility, the question of whether rich parents have rich children. The painful truth is that in the most unequal developed nations – the UK and the US – the intergenerational transmission of income is stronger. In more equal societies such as Denmark, the tendency of privilege to breed privilege is much lower.
This is what sticks in the throat about the rise in inequality: the knowledge that the more unequal our societies become, the more we all become prisoners of that inequality. The well-off feel that they must strain to prevent their children from slipping down the income ladder. The poor see the best schools, colleges, even art clubs and ballet classes, disappearing behind a wall of fees or unaffordable housing.
The idea of a free, market-based society is that everyone can reach his or her potential. Somewhere, we lost our way.
‘The Undercover Economist Strikes Back’ by Tim Harford is published this month in the UK and in January in the US
——————————————-

COMMENTS:

logicus Aug 16, 2013
The uncomfortable truth is that you have become an apologist for the wealthy.

Myweehoney Aug 16, 2013
The main reason to be worried about increasing wealth inequality is that the 99% are the spending and tax base for western economies. The very rich spend much less proportionately of their income and always manage to be taxed at lower rates. How will economies grow if consumer spending, ie the 99%, is continuing to be squeezed. And where will the tax income be harvested to pay for reasonable government services.

NIHILIST Aug 16, 2013
Educate people into understanding that a rich life is independent of financial wealth.

Pepijn Aug 16, 2013
I wonder whether inflation plays a role. The database shows the top 1% income share declining from 1950 to 1982, a period when inflation was steadily rising. As of 1982 the trend reverses and the top 1% share starts growing rapidly. Maybe the ability to preserve capital as inflation declines plays a role (assuming the top 1% make a good share of income out of capital rather then labour alone). On the other hand, for those in debt declining inflation is obviously bad news.

InterestedReader Aug 16, 2013
“In more equal societies such as Denmark, the tendency of privilege to breed privilege is much lower.”

Hold on, you’re confusing inequality of wealth and inequality of income here; Denmark has very low income inequality, but also one of the world’s highest levels of wealth inequality (by Gini coefficient).

Voice of Truth Aug 15, 2013
Easy to do when you have the financial muscle to transfer increasing amounts from the middle and lower classes to the top 1%, while having complete control of the system.

Alan Hutchinson Aug 15, 2013
@the white rabbit : Good point. Tom Palley has argued the same. There was a minimum of greed in or around 1978 (see the database which Tim Harford cites). Since then, middle class affluence has been funded by increasing debt which led to the crash of 2008.

DEBT SLAVE Aug 15, 2013
Blood will flow in the streets eventually…

francobollo Aug 15, 2013
good article

AB99 Aug 15, 2013
Agree with Burtonshaw. Too many smart and potentially productive young people in USA, UK lured away from science, engineering etc. into finance and law. Yes, we need the rule of law to allow markets to function but isn’t there a point beyond which more lawyers actually means more complexity and lower competitiveness?

A_Reader Aug 15, 2013
Dear All,

A comment: the impact of the very few in the Society is obvious. The not so obvious is that the inequality does not come from now. It is a very long process that might have begun some centuries ago, but now with the complete absurd actions of Central Banks and the existence of technology the main points became enormously clear.

Technology made it possible to see what has been happenning for a very long time… maybe it has been a pattern of Human development since the first start.

Concentration of power implies in “too big to fail” structures. Through them we have power in the hands of a very interconnected few that together have the control of absolutely everything… and more specially in the so called “Capitalist and developed” world. And BTW there is nothing of Capitalism in it, it is the old Plutocratic regime that controls the State and its institutions through “institutionalised” criminality (the absurd “legalised” actions taken by a few).

The population is taught since a very early age to behave and accept not only the ways things are but why’s. Films, magazines, the midia besides schools and educational systems are stablished to keep all the “frame(work)” in place. No talk on Civil Disobesience. No talk of independent thought, unless when coming from the well connected few (so called “famous”) institutions that keep the control. From there comes the “networks” and in such a way that going agaisnt them can become professional (and maybe even mental) suicide.

It is simply a pattern that governs the small and the large: it is the same structure. One can certainly make a model of this so called “anthropological dynamics” and the math behind it is quite simple in its description but very sofisticated to make it in an analitical way. It is all about the work of Prof Benoit Mandelbrot that has been propositaly neglected by the so called Scientific Establishment. And the reason is very simple: it is too complex and influencial for the simple minds who have been on the top and for a very long time. The Establishment can make it through lies that benefit themselves (=> “The majority is allways wrong” or “Every majority is stupid”).

The work of Prof Mandelbrot proves the stupidity of the vast majority of the so called “Scientific” work outside there. It also proves their irrelevance. As a matter of fact it also proves the structures behind the dynamics and why they are orgamnised in that way: the greedy behind the Human Condition.

Will there be enormous destruction in the coming years? Are we close to wars that are ultimately caused by reactions to the current (anthropological) organisations / social and anthropological orders?

Nature has Its ways to make Itself heard. The paradigm should be the one of SME’s and not “large powerfull too big to fail” structures controlled by “Yes men” with very close to psycho behavior.

I hope to be wrong … although I have a quite good track record….

Many thanks,

Best regards,

A_Reader, Ph.D.