Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Pickled shite

Having really dull chat I was explaining some dull transaction that took place a coupla years ago and from which an already very rich person made oodles and oodles more cash to a fabulous person the other night. Her response, am guessing predicated on what’s subsequently happened and will happen, was that it wasn’t fair. She was right and what we’re now beginning to see in all sorts of ways is the way in which that is and will be the case.

Because it was all about an asset value bubble bursting and consequently to benefit beforehand you needed to have assets that were appreciating and could sell, this was/is a financial crisis in which the rich got WAY richer and the quite well off got quite a bit well off-er, but those with fuck all got fuck all give or take Labour’s economic policy of using oil revenues and London and South East England tax fivers to piss new mickey mouse jobs across post-industrial Britain. Now though it seems we’re all in it together.

And if you believe that you are a fucking moron. Now that the political bitch move of cutting central government grants to local authorities is being played out so local government inefficiencies and loony left schemes can get blamed for everything really, the reality is becoming more and more apparent. I’m not English and would have a helluva job pointing out well anywhere in England on a map really, but even I know that Tower Hamlets, Middlesbrough, Blackburn and Hartlepool are arseholes of the world compared with say Kensington and Chelsea. Yet going by the government’s own numbers Kensington and Chelsea will experience a notably lower reduction in its estimated' revenue spending power' in 2011-12 post transition grant, than those other ghastly in a different way places (-5.26% vs -8.9%).

Am sure there are lots of terribly dull facts that could be used to obfuscate this fucking obvious state of affairs, but fuck it. Plus, in shithole towns like Middlesbrough the public sector accounts for a much bigger slice of the economy so when it shrinks (a) it has a disproportionately larger effect and (b) there is a smaller private sector to take the strain. Hence, even a – 5.26% cut in local authority spending would mean more to Middlesbrough than it would Chelsea.

So we’re all in this together? Are we fuck, rather what we’re going to see is more people in already relatively deprived areas having progressively less access to mad crazy indulgent shit like:
- Care for the elderly
- Support services for the mentally ill
– Support for disabled children
- Libraries
- School buses
- Roads without potholes

to a greater extent than any Chelsea tractor driving shitstain married to some city cunt called Alfie and/or Charlie and (a) its no even fucking started yet and (b) its going to go on for at least 3 years. Bring on Ian Bone.


A different headline for either of these pictures would be "Anarchist trapped in photographer circle jerk" because both show how protests usually involve far more media bods than they do feral, mindless, thuggish, yob, anarchists. This is sad because it makes clear non-violent protests don’t count as news or at least not front page news anyway (peaceful protests being relegated to page 24 besides the sudoko and/or the second last item to be followed by a youtube clip of a skateboarding squirrel).

Rather media organisations, both public and private, have a clear angle they impose on all protests. Furthermore, they will only pay top dollar for anything in keeping with said angle. Hence essentially trivial gestures (oh look he’s broken a window just like that drunken sod did down Swindon high street last Saturday night) are hunted down then amplified until they drown out the actual issues being protested about.

This is interesting when you think about it. A public protest is by definition both a gathering of the public and an attempt to influence public opinion. In practice, doing so requires media attention and given the media will only respond to stories, images, etc. of violence, i.e. they tacitly present an incentive to be violent, it appears complicit in the whole process.

That’s probably a tad philosophical in a moral maze kinda style, it’s much easier to simply assume journalists and media organisation owners are for the most part the snidey cunts you think they are.

The other people violence serves of course is politicians and the police because it gives both a good get out clause. Hence politicians can grandstand about feral thugs and the need for water cannon to distract from what was actually going on and the police can hope Mr and Mrs Moral Outraged from Peterborough are too busy being morally outraged to notice officers continuing to cover up their numbers so they can wallop people with impunity, the far, far, far, far greater number of protestors than police that get smacked about and the tactics developed as the latest student protest wore on for dealing with people in wheelchairs (no tactic / tactic).

Indeed, the Metropolitan police in particular have an incredible track record for publically shitting all over victims of their own incompetence. The usual approach sees unnamed police sources briefing journalists off the record about so and so being a bad ‘un, the longest running example of this being the treatment of Colin Stagg in a lets not try and influence potential jurors/cover up our own failure to catch anyone type style. More recently there was the death of Ian Tomlinson where after each and every press release issued by the police to paint thems in as good a light as possible was contradicted by pesky facts, unnamed sources started mentioning a laptop might need to be looked at, nudge, nudge, dodgy stuff, eh? etc..

Hopefully that some ugly auld tart sat on piles of inherited cash got touched by an oik will prove enough of a distraction and Alfie Meadows won’t be subject to any of the disgusting, taxpayer funded self-serving character assassination usually dumped on victims of thuggish police incompetence. And water cannon eh? Is that distracting spin or an expectation of more protests I wonder?

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Integrity (what are you doin' to me)

An enquiry is a powerful means of giving the impression you’re doing something about something. Thankfully if it’s set up right at the outset you can sound all hard and (Spanish) inquisitive in a we're going to cluster-fuck you like hedgehogs on a broom kinda way and yet guarantee nothing actually happens and no one is found to be at fault.

Some obvious ways of doing so include:

1) Making sure the remit of the enquiry is so narrow it can’t enquire into anything that matters
2) Ensuing its status is such that you can’t place too much faith in the answers given to its questions e.g. fibbing isn’t a crime and/or there’s no immunity for witnesses
3) Get as many placemen on it as possible, ideally starting with the chair so no nasty questions get asked
4) Conduct it in secret so no-one is aware of what actually gets said
5) Drag it out for as long as possible to the point where everyone loses interest and rather than the results getting scrutinised the cost and time spent becomes the story.

Those things certainly sprung to mind when I read the Financial Services Authority notice that it’d completed its enquiry into the Royal Bank of Scotland and that no further actions were to be taken. Rather, the biggest fuck up in British corporate history was due to “bad decisions” and most definitely “not the result of a lack of integrity by any individual and we did not identify any instances of fraud or dishonest activity by RBS senior individuals or a failure of governance on the part of the Board. The issues we investigated do not warrant us taking any enforcement action, either against the firm or against individuals”. So there you are then.

Alternatively, lets tick off, which of the above techniques for guaranteeing no action apply here. Definitely 1) given the reference to “(t)he issues we investigated” is clear code for if there are other things that fucked it up well tough tittie cos that wasn’t in the enquiry’s remit and is fuck all to do with us give or take the FSA was responsible for regulating the whole shebang regardless. Don’t know about 2), but 3) definitely does apply given PWC was used to investigate the fecker i.e. a company that makes its living selling accountancy and consultancy services to banks was used to investigate a bank that its business development managers (i.e. salesmen) regard as a major customer/cash cow, which in turn means there was one fucking monster of a conflict of interest. 4) also applies in spades given “The FSA cannot publish the content of the RBS review as information gathered from the bank during the course of the review remains confidential under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000” and 5) also, but to a lesser extent given in enquiry terms 21 months is kinda quick.

Except, I think the FSA fucked up big time because they’ve created a ginormous, humungus hostage to fortune that should (emphasis on the should) apply in spades to all their other reviews by stating there wasn’t a lack of integrity. Now, integrity is a powerful word; its use here is intended to convey the impression that the RBS executive and board made honest mistakes i.e. they may be utter fuck-ups, but they were fuck-ups who fucked up in good faith.

Fair’nuff, except how the FSA defines integrity can be publically stated because it is in no way a commercial secret, rather it’s a generic quasi-legal notion. And the notion of integrity in British banking, or at least parts of it is open to serious question.

In the absence of an FSA definition I looked up a few definitions of integrity and would say wikipedia’s is the best (for my purposes anyhow). It goes on about how integrity as a concept concerns consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations and outcomes. It continues to describe how in ethics, integrity is regarded as the quality of having an intuitive sense of honesty and truthfulness in regard to the motivations for one's actions. Moreover, integrity can be regarded as the opposite of hypocrisy, in that it regards internal consistency as a virtue, and that parties holding apparently conflicting values should account for the discrepancy or alter their beliefs. …… As such, one may judge that others "have integrity" to the extent that one judges whether they behave according to the values, beliefs and principles they claim to hold.

Now that is some powerful shit for a regulator. Put simply did senior bods at RBS and all the other banks being looked at actually behave according to the values, beliefs and principles they claimed to hold and/or espoused? More straightforwardly, and relevant here, did they behave in line with their company’s stated policies and processes when they lent money or did they do things like lean on more junior staff to do what they were told and not what they thought was right, did they take short-cuts when it came to following documented and established credit sanctioning procedures, did they "finesse" the analysis of financials and subsquent fulfilment of post-sanction drawdown conditions, beforehand did they always emphasise the positive as opposed to the realistic when it came to assessing a proposition's propsects despite credible, contradictory views being readily available and so on and so on etc., etc., in ways that are fuck off easy to find out given credit applications are well-documented things people remember?

Hmmmm. By this definition most lenders know for a fucking fact some senior bods did not behave with integrity and made lots of bonus cash for themselves by doing so. There again given the FSA said everything about British banking was hunky dory until it wasn’t it's got a mucho vested interest in its utter fucking shiteness not being disclosed, In fact I'd guess there’s no chance any of its enquiries will generate anything other than more whitewashes. Rather the best we can hope for is for the UK economy to not end up like Ireland by default and for only a few million more taxpayers’ fivers getting pissed away proving the great and the good might not be great, but at least they had integrity.

A Dec 6th P.S. - aside from revisions to the above that friends of Sir Fred Goodwin are asking for the report to be published lets you know how fucking shite it is. There again he's probably hacked off with being the scapegoat, which is fair play cos then mebbe some of the other fuckwits who fucked things up would start getting scrutinised. Except given what actually passes for scrutiny that'd simply generate more expensive wastes of time give or take pointless op-eds by financial commentators so clued up they keep forgetting/don't know Sir Fred first earned his "Shred" nickname when he was at Clydesdale Bank.