Tuesday 18 December 2012

Shall We Dance?

Long ago an uncle taught me semaphore as it was considered then to be a basic and necessary form of communication.  He was a Chief Petty Officer in the Navy so his views were to be respected, especially if he was satisfied enough to come up with chocolate as a reward.

It took many decades for the discovery of wired telegraph and photography to impact on communications and the popular media.  It took many decades after that for the wireless and other discoveries to impact on a large scale.  Even television took decades to reach out to almost everyone.

But it is taken only a couple of decades, if that, for the computer based information systems, satellite systems and internet to completely transform communications and information transmission entirely. 

It is a wonder that it is possible look around many sources and pull together information sometimes in minutes what might have taken days to do,, travel and maybe a lot of communication manually and by ordinary letter writing.

Because I often travel by train, it has been easy to watch the changes of the last decade and a little more in the products that people have used.  From simple mobile phones there have been transitions to more complicated devices. 

One consequence is information and communication overload, in that so many people are now almost frantic in the attempts to deal with it and to manage their personal and work lives.  They seem to have less and less time and often do less and less in real terms.

There is another consequence which is more worrying.  It is that the big stories of the day, or rather what the media might determine to be the big story is so extensively covered that it obliterates both other news and more seriously any full coverage or detail of many issues and occurrences.

A case in point arises from an hour’s programme on Monday on BBC2 which looked at the economic situation in Spain and how it happened.  This kind of feature is quite rare, especially if you look at the total of channels available.  You might find its like here and there in specialist business or documentary feature, but you have to look hard.

The programme, however, although at peak time, was up against a good many popular items, a lot of leading sport and a few other things.  So it will have had only a minority audience and even then the programme, mostly presented with talking heads and linking descriptive passages was limited in its scope.

Necessarily, it concentrated on the Brit’s involved, notably the expatriates but the tourists as well, with a figure of 11 million Brit’s a year visiting Spain.  It went into the issues of corruption within the localities, regions and government of Spain, but not in great detail. 

At least it did emphasise that the EU, easy credit, stupid banking regulation, insane property development and then serious debt overloads were at the heart of the problem.  Because of the limitations of time and need to make the message easy to understand and the impact on ordinary people a lot had to be left out.

Besides the Brit’s, there are a lot of other people from all around the EU and beyond who have contributed to the Spanish debacle.  They piled into property on the premise that it could never end.  Part of this was the major capital inflows coming from either criminal or laundered money. 

To add to this was tax or other evasion by the elites in other countries with the money coming not from the originating source but the many and various regimes that constitute tax havens, including London.  All the usual suspects were there as well as in Greece and we all know who matters in Italy.

A feature of the Spanish debacle has been the huge rise in unemployment especially amongst the young.  For many of them, the only alternative is to get out fast.  We are talking here about the highly qualified and capable and not just those in the lower and less skilled classes.

For those there was the problem which the BBC and others will not dare to name.  That is the inflow of migrants from North Africa and beyond into the lowest paid menial, manual and agricultural jobs. 

They came because the international companies who wanted low wage labour wanted them and now they too are among the ranks of workers without work.  Worse, often they have become forced labour with little or no pay and indeed turned into debt slaves.

A crucial problem now in both Greece and Spain with Italy and Portugal affected is the flight of capital that under pinned so much of the boom.  It is not going to come back.  So the Euro is now in peril because if Spain goes then the Euro might go.

The implications for the UK for all this was another matter not mentioned.  Where did the flight capital go?  A lot has come into London, notably in the property market.  What else is there about the UK?  A great deal if you look at the profile of Greece and Spain in terms of the key areas of financial weakness.

There may be in the UK the assumption that because we are outside the Euro then the worst that could happen is a devaluation; an option not available in Spain.  It is worse than that.  

What few understand and you will not hear it from the main media or anyone in authority is that the Euro and the Pound are engaged in a struggle.  It is a dance of death because one must go or the other.  So what happens in Spain and these other places is critical to our own future.

But we are all too busy with our personal communications and major media stories to take the slightest notice and that includes the government and opposition.

1 comment:

  1. I think that is true. It should be a cause for concern that even main NEWSpapers only have very tiny reports on some items of real worldwide importance. My grandchildrens' knowledge of history and geography (and spelling) is truly abysmal, even though they are now at Uni. Their inadequate inaccurate information appals me. TV is very lacking. I never thought I would watch Al Jazeera and Russian today as well in preference. Our TV is dominated by sensation and past events that cannot really be remedied.