If The Cap Fits …

Nichiren DaishoninWith an increasing feeling of dismay, I see the gap between the have’s and have not’s of this world continually growing.

The very concept of fairness in our societies seems to have been completely forgotten.

With that in mind, I can think of a whole bunch of people who would do well to listen to the following advice …

If you wish to attain Buddhahood, you have only to lower the banner of your arrogance, cast aside the staff of your anger, and devote yourself exclusively to the one vehicle of the Lotus Sutra.

Worldly fame and profit are mere baubles of your present existence, and arrogance and prejudice are ties that will fetter you in a next one.

~ Nichiren Daishonin

Get ‘Em Out By Friday – Nothing Changes

Get Em Out By Friday - hear it hereThere is nothing better to perk up a dull and boring morning at work than listening to some rocking music. My taste in music is pretty eclectic, but this morning I have been listening to some classic Genesis tracks.

Now I can listen to Genesis till the cows come home and I have loved them since they formed back in 1967. I wore out copies of Trespass, Nursery Cryme and Foxtrot on a tinny Dansette record player in the psychedelic bedroom of my teenage years, and today I was listening to Foxtrot once again.

I know the lyrics to all the old classic Genesis tracks, those of the Steve Hackett, Peter Gabrielle era, but one track really stood out today, Get ’em out by Friday. It’s the story of unscrupulous property developers and investment scams, of people being evicted and ripped off by crooked landlords.

The lyrics and music were recorded back in August 1972, 42 years ago, but the dialogue performed shows that nothing has really changed in all that time …

John Pebble of Styx Enterprises:
“Get ’em out by Friday!
You don’t get paid till the last one’s well on his way.
Get ’em out by Friday!
It’s important that we keep to schedule, there must be no delay.”

Mark Hall of Styx Enterprises: (otherwise known as “The Winkler”)
“I represent a firm of gentlemen who recently purchased this
House and all the others in the road,
In the interest of humanity we’ve found a better place for you
To go, go-woh, go-woh”

Mrs. Barrow: (a tenant)
“Oh no, this I can’t believe,
Oh Mary, they’re asking us to leave.”

Mr. Pebble:
“Get ’em out by Friday!
I’ve told you before, ‘s good many gone if we let them stay.
And if it isn’t easy,
You can squeeze a little grease and our troubles will soon run away.”

Mrs. Barrow:
“After all this time, they ask us to leave,
And I told them we could pay double the rent.
I don’t know why it seemed so funny,
Seeing as how they’d take more money.
The winkler called again, he came here this morning,
With four hundred pounds and a photograph of the place he has found.
A block of flats with central heating.
I think we’re going to find it hard.”

Mr. Pebble:
“Now we’ve got them!
I’ve always said that cash cash cash can do anything well.
Work can be rewarding
When a flash of intuition is a gift that helps you excel-sell-sell-sell.”

Mr. Hall:
“Here we are in Harlow New Town,
Did you recognise your block across the square, over there,
Sadly since last time we spoke,
We’ve found we’ve had to raise the rent again,
Just a bit.”

Mrs. Barrow:
“Oh no, this I can’t believe
Oh Mary, and we agreed to leave.”

(a passage of time)

18/9/2012 T.V. Flash on all Dial-A-Program Services:
This is an announcement from Genetic Control:
“It is my sad duty to inform you of a four foot restriction on
Humanoid height.”

Extract from conversation of Joe Ordinary in Local Puborama:
“I hear the directors of Genetic Control have been buying all the
Properties that have recently been sold, taking risks oh so bold.
It’s said now that people will be shorter in height,
They can fit twice as many in the same building site.
(they say it’s alright),
Beginning with the tenants of the town of Harlow,
In the interest of humanity, they’ve been told they must go,
Told they must go-go-go-go.”

Sir John De Pebble of United Blacksprings International:
“I think I’ve fixed a new deal
A dozen properties – we’ll buy at five and sell at thirty four,
Some are still inhabited,
It’s time to send the winkler to see them,
He’ll have to work some more.”

Memo from Satin Peter of Rock Development Ltd:
With land in your hand, you’ll be happy on earth
Then invest in the Church for your heaven.

So nothing changes, the have’s still have and the have-not’s still pay for the privilege. At the risk of being labelled an anarchist, I think we need a revolution. I’m already involved in trying to change the way money works in this country, maybe part of that should take the form of a more fair levelling of incomes.

In so many parts of the country, the children of current home owners have no chance to buy property in the towns in which they were born. It might almost be seen as a form of social engineering by the people who control the money supply.

Time for big changes me thinks.

An Elitist Race

The Boat RaceThe Boat Race was won this afternoon by Oxford. It was a very close race, with both sides giving their all for the cause, but there was a strange air of pointless strife as we watched the Cambridge president, in his last ever race, being interviewed as a loser.

The whole event, the crews, the boats, even the bridges were smothered in BNY Mellon advertising, the sponsors. How apt, that an elite race, between two elite universities, crewed by elite oarsmen is sponsored by an investment company. A company, whose sole aim is to make money for those who already have more than is good for them.

Whilst the endeavour of the crew members, the months of early morning training, the sacrifices made for the joint cause, must be acknowledged, it is rather difficult to see what difference all the effort really makes to a world of poverty, pain and unhappiness.

Taxing Times For Starbucks?

Starbucks looking to buck the trendI was pleased to hear, on the radio today, that Starbucks the US coffee chain, are in conversation with the UK tax authorities (HMRC) with a view to restructuring their business in order to pay, what is deemed to be, a reasonable amount of corporation tax on their UK based operating profits.

Whilst it should be stressed that Starbucks are not breaking the law, their methods of doing business, using tax differentials across Europe, through which they can actually post an operating loss in the UK, has been seen by many to be wholly unethical.

Naturally, the accountants and tax planners employed by Starbucks are actually only doing the job for which they are paid. So a degree of the blame for this situation must fall on the HMRC and the Treasury for the way they have structured UK tax law.

With other companies such as Amazon and Google also falling under the ‘tax-dodging’ spotlight, it is heartening that the bad publicity, combined with a drop in customer figures and brand respect, has actually forced the company to think again about their social responsibility.

Whilst these companies undoubtedly bring a significant number of service related jobs to the UK economy, this is no excuse for allowing them to shirk their responsibilities when it comes to paying their fair share of tax. As customers, we have a very powerful lobby against these companies, by voting with our feet, and must keep up the pressure until justice is seen to be done.

It would be fun to be a fly on the wall at the meetings going on in Starbuck Central right now. You can bet that one of the phrases being used is ‘how little can we get away with’ and not ‘won’t it be great to pay our share’.

Having two brothers in the accountancy game, I’m loath to question their motives. But it would be really great to think that this dose of ‘enforced responsibility’ might ripple down (or up) into other areas of society whose ethics fall too close to ‘poor’ on the social responsibility scale.

All Together?

NatureA sense of being part of the great all-inclusive life prompts us to reflect on our own place and on how we ought to live. Guarding others’ lives, the ecology and the earth is the same as protecting one’s own life.

By like token, wounding them is the same thing as wounding oneself. Consequently, it is the duty of each of us to participate as members of the life community in the evolution of the universe. We can do this by guarding earth’s ecological system.

~ Daisaku Ikeda

Feeling Unwanted

Germany and FranceIs it just me, or is the way the Germans and French are talking about uniting Europe with or without the British a little worrying? Of course there needs to be tighter bonds and regulation within the Eurozone, in order to put a stop to the economic issues plaguing Greece, Portugal, Italy and Spain, but a unilateral change in the treaties governing such ties must be a bad thing.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are working together for the good of their respective countries, and that is to be encouraged, but this cannot be allowed to happen at the expense of the other European countries. In a statement today in Paris, they are saying that change will go ahead, with or without agreement from other European partners.

What is really needed at this point is more dialogue, to produce a consensus and a workable solution for all our economic neighbours. The fact that the UK is, and rightly so in my opinion, outside the Eurozone, should not be a reason for us to be left out of the discussions.

Economic strife has been the cause of so much conflict of the centuries, now is not the time to be talking about going it alone. or leaving out partners for the sake of individual countries. Germany and France have been at the forefront of the bailout negotiations with Greece and Italy, but that does not give them the right to bulldoze through legislation that will affect every European citizen for the foreseeable future.

Let’s hope that President Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel have the wisdom, courage and compassion to come to the right decision over this, not just for themselves, but for everyone.

Not All Bad News

BAE SystemsOn the day when BAE Systems announce losses of nearly 3000 jobs, whilst it is the worst of news for those employees, for humanity, there is also a glimmer of hope. The reason for those losses is that the UK government, along with many others around the world, are cutting back their spending on ‘defence’.

Obviously, sympathy goes out to the families of the people who find themselves suddenly out of work, but we have to be happy at the underlying reason. The less money that is spent on military hardware, the more money is available to spend on productive, constructive schemes to help those in our society who need it.

Not only that, but if countries are less well armed, potentially the less likely they are to wage war against their neighbours. And a more peaceful world can never be a bad thing, can it. Just imagine if the $3.6 billion, that the US are spending on the Afghanistan campaign, was pumped back into the US economy.

So on a personal basis, this is bad news for those skilled workers from BAE Systems, but on a global level, it’s the best of news, even if the peace is coming at such a high price for the world economy.

Economic Karma

Broken EuroI don’t know about you, but all this talk of world wide economic strife is starting to get me really worried. We know all about the stringent cuts that the government are pushing through here in the UK. The problem is that we all know we have to do something to reduce our deficit, but there seems to be a growing sense of, that’s fine, just as long as it’s not me that has to reduce my own standard of living.

I don’t want to pick on one country in particular, but Greece is seeing more immediate result of all the irresponsible causes they have made through many preceding years. Their situation appears hopeless, not helped, in my opinion, by loans from the rest of the economic union. Now, either Greece is going to get on with sorting it’s economy out and be beholding to the likes of Germany and France for decades to come. Or they are going to default on the loans, plunging the whole world into an even worse economic situation.

Don’t get me wrong, we are all guilty of spending more than we could afford, not just recently, but for years, all egged on by the ‘buy now, pay later’ society. It just seems that Greece, Portugal, Ireland and even Italy seem to have got themselves in deeper than the rest, but that’s fairly academic.

Just as we are all connected through the universe, our economies are all connected too. Like a set of dominos, if one country falls, there is a pretty good chance that they will all fall, and that will affect every single one of us. That’s how universal economic karma works.

Karma doesn’t only work at the personal level, it works at all levels. The causes we all make, in this case regarding our spending and banking practices, will and are causing effects that we are all feeling. And because we have been making short-sighted crazy causes for years, we can expect to see damaging effects for a long time to come.

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