Syntagma Digital
Editor, John Evans

Saturday Ramble: 2013 — how bad will it be?

Optimism As an optimist, I have been scouring the Press and other sources of information for good news about the new year, 2013, or at the very least, a hopeful prognosis.

Apart from our recent escape from the abysmal Mayan Prophesy — prophesied here, by the way — there is very little else.

On the economic and business pages gloom predominates. We are, it is said, halfway through a Lost Decade, or even a quarter through a Lost Double Decade. The world is laden down with so much debt, much of which has to be written down before global expansion can take off again. We are all doomed.

Britain in particular is not well placed, thanks to Gordon Brown and Ed Balls’s pitiless spending splurge in their own interest. The absence of euro membership is the only dim light on the horizon.

Politically, we are in limbo, with David Cameron and Nick Clegg on opposite sides of the fence on the future of our EU membership, at least if the chatter from Downing Street is to be believed. Like many, I’m sceptical about Number Ten’s resolve on this.

Paul Goodman in the Telegraph writes that the Conservatives have not a cat’s chance in hell of winning the 2015 General Election because of the huge demographic surge of Labour-supporting immigrants from the Subcontinent. Brown’s treachery knew no bounds, as many of us warned at the time.

America stands on the brink of a Fiscal Cliff set to detonate on January 1st, in which taxes will automatically rise and government spending massively fall. In a sane world, that is exactly what the US needs now, except that in the midst of a world struggling to pay its debts, it would only add to the general depression.

So there you have it. Pain all round and no escape. The real misery has only just begun.

Or has it?

I must say, I don’t get the sense that the world is about to pitch into an economic dark age like the 1930s — with the possible exception of the eurozone — despite the huge debt that can only be offset by printing money and increasing inflation that will erode value and decimate savings.

Is Mark Carney (incoming Governor of the Bank of England) just covering his back by suggesting he will sacrifice inflation targets to promote growth?

But where to find confirmation of a very different scenario? From an unusual source, perhaps.

Last week I was flicking through the pages of the Daily Mail’s Weekend Magazine, when I alighted on veteran astrologer Jonathan Cainer’s star-sign page. In the general section, one sentence jumped out at me. I reproduce it here in the hope it will cheer you up, so rare is the sentiment:

2013 will be one of the happiest years many of us have ever known.

Phew! There’s a man putting his reputation on the line. And he follows it up in today’s paper a week later:

2013 gets off to a surprisingly good start for most people and then proceeds just to get better and better.

Well! I’m not going to find anything more optimistic than that, so I’ll leave it right there.

You will have your own views, of course, but I wish you a great big dollop of the Cainer magic stardust and a very happy New Year.

John Evans

John Evans is the author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.

Coming soon: Mystology: A different way of looking at the world. Also a website, mystology.com.

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The truth about Europe by John Redwood

John Redwood John Redwood MP has published a devastating indictment of the policies of Brussels and the European Union. At our request, he has given Syntagma permission to reprint it in full, and has agreed that other concerned websites can do the same.

First they came for the hedge fund managers. They had to be regulated, stopped from short selling, and taxed until they went offshore. They were uniquely to blame for the collapse.

Then they came for the investment bankers. They had to be bankrupted, subsidised, vilified and regulated. They were the crash.

Then they came for the elected politicians. They had to be condemned for their salaries and expenses.

Then they came for the elected governments. The Irish, Portuguese, UK, Spanish and Greek governments all were dismissed.

Then they came for the rich stars. A hypocritical comedian was dragged through the mire, a foul mouthed footballer was fined, many well heeled stars faced tax enquiries.

Then they came for the journalists. They were exposed for phone tapping and bribing.

Then they came for anyone with any income or wealth, and taxed them some more.

The EU is happy for others to take the heat, accept the blame, and pay the bills. They have not come for the EU Commissioners, the European Court of Justice or the European Central Bank. These bodies all claim they need more money and more power to right the wrongs and sort out the mess. They float above the crashing economies, the growing dole queues in Spain, Greece and Portugal, and the squeezed living standards. They turn a blind eye to the anger in the ballot boxes, and the trouble on the streets.

Are they blameless as they think? Who is responsbile for the mess of the Euro? Who is responsible for spending too much public money that taxpayers cannot afford to pay for? Who designed the austerity policies which many EU voters now dislike? Who created the rigid regulations that help deliver dear energy and badly working labour markets? Who watches as Asia out competes Europe?

Will the peoples of Europe ever think some of this is to do with their EU government? The modern EU is not of course embarked on violent repressions of freedom and voice, but it is failing to respond to the cries for help from many people in many countries.

Please reproduce this on your website.

John Evans

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DIARY: The rise of Sigma 4, Poppycock Watch: Another amorphous blob, Mail it, Waiting for Godling, Profundity of the Week

Diver

Returning after a short break to find pandemonium reigning across the land, it’s hard to know where to start.

Such are the overwhelming tensions in the world right now, it might be restful to begin with the Yawn of the Week: the return of the Higgs Boson.

Yes, everybody’s favourite imaginary “particle” is back with a bang, so to speak. Never has a speck of dust caused such a commotion.

Those very excitable folk over at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva have teamed up with the obsolete Tevatron Collider in America to scale the heights of Sigma 4 delirium.

What is Sigma 4, you’re asking? It’s a step on the road to Sigma 5.

Er … and that is basically just a number on a list where 5 is at the top. Quantum science really is easy when you pay attention.

Where was I? Oh, yes, the Higgs. This minute smudge (theoretical, at this stage) has, it is claimed, been discovered at last. At least some people think so. Others are less sure, and most are frankly incredulous, including this diarist.

Their last “discovery”, you may remember, was that neutrinos could travel faster than light, something totally verboten in this universe, at least by the demigod Einstein.

Their blushes were spared by the useful discovery of a faulty connector plug. The world sighed with relief. We couldn’t have speeding neutrinos joyriding all over the universe, could we? Mein Gott!

But back to the Higgs. Tomorrow something will be announced. Nobody quite knows yet, which gives the impression that they’re busking somewhat.

Maybe they need another faulty plug. Can anyone help?

* * * * *

Poppycock Watch
These are interesting times: a new banking scandal of Wagnerian proportions before the last one is mended; the House of Commons seething over David Cameron’s serial flip-flops on an inevitable EU referendum — can any man hold so many conflicting opinions at one time? — and a general sense of monumental disintegration.

It’s beginning to get serious.

My first inclination was that David Cameron is not up to being a Prime Minister for our times and should go. On further in-depth consideration, a more nuanced view prevailed: David Cameron is not up to being a Prime Minister for our times and should go before the end of the month.

It peeves me to say so since I began as a staunch supporter of the man. He’s articulate, presentable, pleasant and, at first glance, eminently prime-ministerial. His problem is, he has no settled views of his own, which indicates a deficiency of character.

To coin a phrase: like a cushion, he assumes the shape of the last person who sat on him. A major flaw in the armoury.

He appears to relish the Lib Dem element in the government because it allows him to be vague on every issue, and even change tack in mid stream. In short, he’s the most exasperating leader we’ve had since Tony Blair.

If only he could see it, the electorate yearns for a clutch of decisive policy stances from their government now — not after the election — especially on membership of the European Union and an end to soggy coalition rule.

Britain needs strong leadership, not an amorphous blob. If we did, we could draft in the Higgs Boson.

* * * * *

The astonishing success of the Daily Mail continues. At the time of a brutal contraction of print journalism, the paper seems to transcend the zeitgeist.

Our small, riverside local newsagent was packed to the gunnels with copies on Saturday morning. Apart from the normal pile in the racks, there were two heaps on the floor and yet more on either side of the till.

I counted just six copies of our daily regional paper on the shelves. Interestingly, it’s owned by Northcliffe, part of the Daily Mail group. Such disparity says a lot about modern demographics as well as tastes.

On top of that, we read that the Mail Online is now the most visited newspaper website in the world, even in America, a notoriously insular market.

A recent site I edited, with a largely American readership, had lengthy comment threads dominated by stories from the Mail Online. The commenters were mostly intelligent professionals.

True, the juicy, bikini-clad celebrity stories in the right-hand column has a lot to do with it, but in these dismal times, any success is to be heartily applauded.

* * * * *

Do you get the impression, as I do, that we are all waiting for something to happen? Something pretty nasty.

But what?

* The Eurozone could collapse in a heap, cutting a swathe through dozens of banking dominoes.

* Iran could use the West’s current distraction to create mayhem in its sphere of influence by shutting the Straits of Hormuz and blocking the world’s oil supplies.

* A major Middle-Eastern country could descend into chaos.

I regret having to announce that the worst has already happened:

Tony Blair wants to be Prime Minister again.

* * * * *

Profundity of the Week
“Time is what keeps the light from reaching us. There is no greater obstacle to God than time.” Meister Eckhart, 13th century Catholic mystic.

John Evans

… who is the author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.

A Mystic in the Modern World is coming soon.

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Saturday Ramble: What about the young? asks Ferguson

Decline The Mayan prophesy, in reality the conclusion of the Mayan calendar (all calendars have cut-off points), is interpreted by some as “the end of the world” in December 2012.

Preposterous scenarios have been appearing across the internet, and in Hollywood disaster movies, for some time.

However, if you change one word: “the” to “a”, an uncanny coincidence is emerging. The end of a world is happening before our eyes.

The old order of western dominance is fading fast, as newer, less developed countries move into the gap. Worse, the West seems utterly incapable of checking the gathering pace of the decline.

The storm gets closer and more menacing by the day. The indeterminate result of the Greek election boots the beer can down the road yet again.

In the mess of our present condition, as self-preservation tramples down the generosities of civilisation, a new question arises: is anyone thinking about the young and their descendants whose inheritance is being looted by the baby boomers?

According to Professor Niall Ferguson of Oxford and Harvard, “If young Americans knew what was good for them, they would all be in the Tea Party.”

That is not a political statement. It is a humane response to the tsunami of debt that is being rolled over to the future, ensuring calamity and poverty for the generations to come. The once rich West is dying before our eyes, its motivating epicentre once again in the heart of Europe.

Century after century Europe has committed suicide, first by war, now by economics driven by power but not public choice. Democracy is almost dead across the Continent, power concentrated in a dangerous alliance of forces in Brussels and Berlin.

Let me say at once, I’m a great fan of Angela Merkel. If ever the coming generation had a champion it is the steely lady from the East who inherited her circumstances from the so-called “wartime giants”. Her insistence on balancing budgets and working hard is all that stands between the young and a derelict future.

In Britain we lack a Churchill or a Thatcher, someone who can surf the froth of meaningless banter and stamp a forward-looking ideal on whole countries.

Contrary to current thinking, austerity is the only moral response to the churlish overspending of Gordon Brown and other demented leaders in the “good times”.

It is our misfortune in Britain that our government of chums and Liberal euro enthusiasts, is incapable of getting a grip on the larger picture.

The achingly-difficult fact to absorb is that only by massively cutting public spending and debt can we stabilise the situation. And that at a much lower standard of living than we have been used to. Internal and external devaluations are the order of the day for the foreseeable future.

How far must we go? At least as far back as the early 1980s, I’d say, and possibly even the ’60s. The conditions of the 1950s might be touched again if we do the job properly. That, you might remember, was when PM Harold Macmillan proclaimed: “You’ve never had it so good!”

The one event that might mitigate this rush back to the future is another unexpected Goldilocks Scenario. The last one occurred in the late ’90s as computer chips took over many of the tasks then laboriously performed by humans. The speed and capacity of the chips doubled every 18 months and drove the wild globalisation bonanza, now trailing off.

The choice is simple: Reduce living standards sharply, especially in the public sector, releasing funds to drive private initiative and cut debt. Or carry on and leave future generations to say of us, “They spent it all and left us with nothing but their IOUs”.

The baby boomers would reply, “Maybe, but we inherited the war debts of the previous generation and struggled for decades to pick ourselves up off the floor.” That doesn’t make it right, though.

Ominously, Niall Ferguson argues that the true size of government debt in the West is much larger than the deeply misleading figures issued in the form of bonds which don’t record unfunded liabilities of social security and health schemes. He says, bitingly: “The last corporation to publish financial statements this misleading was Enron.”

He goes on, “These mind-boggling numbers represent nothing less than a vast claim by the generation currently retired or about to retire on their children and grandchildren, who are obligated by current law to find the money in the future, by submitting either to substantial increases in taxation or to drastic cuts in other forms of public expenditure.”

It may not be Mayan, but it’s worse than anyone predicted.

Ferguson’s Reith Lectures begin 19 June on BBC Radio 4.

John Evans

… who is the author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.

Mysticism in the Modern World is coming soon.
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DIARY: Phoney war, Sheldrake, Poppycock Watch: Activists, Plankton for tea, Lonely swan, Profundity of the Week

Swans mating

With the British political scene dominated by the Leveson Inquiry into media shenanigans, it sometimes appears as if these islands are insulated from the growing disaster across the water in the Eurozone.

Frau Merkel talks a lot about fiscal union and “more Europe” while doing nothing about it. David Cameron urges the Continent to coalesce into a country called Europe, while half-promising that Britain won’t be involved.

Vetoes are whispered of into incredulous ears, and a referendum dangled in words as cheap as chips.

Let’s face it, no-one will nail their colours to the mast until somebody else makes the first move and our wretched politicos can act without being blamed for the mess.

We have also had much chatter about “real Conservatism”. Frankly, many of us would just like some Conservatism, real or not.

What the Prime Minister seems unable to grasp is that the more he imitates the vacuous Blair, the more a growing chunk of the electorate despises him. Does the man have no self-knowledge?

If he can leave his young daughter in a pub, surely he can leave the ghost of Tony somewhere appropriate?

Europe boils and bubbles, poised to shapeshift dramatically, almost all options for the worst. British politicians distance themselves from the darkening scene, but can’t resist delivering the occasional pin-prick of defiance, utterly powerless to act.

It will remind older folk of the phoney war at the close of the 1930s. They will no doubt reflect that it didn’t end well.

* * * * *

Rupert Sheldrake, whom I wrote about last week, has certainly stirred up some feedback here at Syntagma Towers, mostly positive. Read the article HERE.

Anyone near London interested in following this up might like to know that the controversial scientist will be live in dialogue with American evolutionary mystic Andrew Cohen at EnlightenmentNext Centre, 13 Windsor Street, N1 8QG on 20th June. Tickets £18 if booked early, £22 at the door.

I can’t make it, alas, but it should be a very stimulating evening for those able to get there.

* * * * *

Poppycock Watch
Have you noticed the increasing number of dotty job descriptions that have sprung up in recent years? I met someone last week who said she was an Activist.

You mean a kind of lobbyist, said I. No, not central government, just general, all-inclusive stuff.

So, a multipurpose, multifunctioning busybody, thought I. A little bit of this and a little bit of that.

Social, political, scientific, any area of deprivation or unfairness, quoth she, with a hint of superiority over the rest of us who mind our own business.

But who pays people like that? It can’t be the private sector. A company spokesperson wouldn’t be referred to as an Activist, nor anyone else for that matter.

It must be the infinitely giving public sector, where no waif or stray is knowingly rejected and is provided with an all-inclusive income for doing daft things.

I wondered if I should reclassify myself as a Mystical Activist?

But nobody on earth would pay me for that.

* * * * *

An orange plume of oily gunge has appeared on our river in recent weeks. It has the air of something originating from a sewage outlet upstream.

The alarming thing is that the swans can’t seem to get enough of it, scooping it up in their beaks with relish. What do they think they’re doing? They have ample grazing land and lots of river life to feed on.

Then, our local Met Office man solved the riddle. It is a plume of phyto-plankton, of vegetable origin and, as Holland & Barrett reminds us, super-nutritious.

Animals are not as daft as they look.

* * * * *

Another little vignette of life’s woe is being played out in the swan colony here.

Among the 200 or so white swans has appeared one black swan, an Aussie intruder into a living Tchaikovskyesque tableau. He (if it is a he — hard to tell) sails around on his own, seemingly shunned by the locals.

Yesterday, as if in despair, he plunged in amongst a group of fifty of them and uttered a cry of such anguish, head pointing to the sky as in prayer, that everyone stopped in amazement.

I should add, before Trevor Phillips or Polly Toynbee descend on us with cries of racism, the white ones are so placid it would be difficult to accuse them of anything at all. His only hope of finding a mate, I think, is if he comes across another swan as lonely as himself.

If Danny Kaye was still with us, I’m sure he’d have a song for it.

Profundity of the Week
“Being born in a duck yard does not matter, if only you are hatched from a swan’s egg.” Hans Christian Andersen

John Evans

who is the author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.

Mystics in the Modern World is coming soon.

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