Market forces dictate the world economy, and they've got it all pretty well sewn up.
Here's the trick.
You manufacture in the cheapest country with the lowest labour costs.
You sell on the best and most expensive markets.
You pay tax in the country that offers you the best deal, or in tax havens if you can swing it.
Obscene profits guaranteed.
No wonder they call it Free Trade!
So maybe, instead of stating where the article was produced, Made in China, for example, multinationals should be forced to add yet another label.
Tax Paid in Luxemburg, for instance. Tax paid in Ireland. Tax Paid in the Virgin Isles.
Then let the customer, who is always right, decide what to do next.
lunes, 16 de febrero de 2015
In Oklahoma they are thinking about bringing back the gas chamber because their supply of anaesthetic drugs has run dry. Or the electric chair, or the firing squad.
There are a thousand ways to kill a human; we are very inventive on that score. Thankfully most of the excessively cruel ones, like hanging the culprit upside down over a sulphur pit, have falling into disuse. Nowadays for the State to eliminate one of its members there has to be a swathe of laws to guarantee that the miscreants are put down mercifully.
In ISIS they don’t waste time with legal niceties. They are not interested in killing ‘humanely’ like their hypocritical American cousins. Beating about the Bush is not their style.
Public execution is all the rage. Off with their heads! And upload it to the web for all to see.
And we do, with morbid curiosity.
We had believed that the days of barbaric slaughter were over, a thing of the past, the stuff of History. Wrapped in comfort and relative security we had faith in the positive evolution of mankind. But as Lord of the Flies tried to warn us, the barbarian is inside us all. The veneer of civilisation that we have acquired over the centuries is fragile and thin. In one generation the culture of millennium is blown away.
We are what we learn. If we are taught to hate and destroy, we do so with verve and efficiency. If we are told that we have the right to set ourselves up as judges and executioners, so be it. Let the guilty tremble, our hands will not shake!
In the name of God, in the name of the Law, in the name of some Ideology or other, it makes no difference. It is power over persuasion, obedience over education. That is the real conflict. But it is a never-ending conflict; we must at all times remain alert and nip these attitudes in the bud. Not by the use of force, but by the use of reason, culture, tolerance and humanity.
There is no utopia. The moment we relax our efforts others will take advantage of that laxity.
And we will be the first against the wall.
martes, 28 de octubre de 2014
martes, 14 de octubre de 2014
martes, 7 de octubre de 2014
Cuando llegué por primera vez a Cádiz, en el 82, sin hablar nada de español, me dieron un librito para ayudarme a aprender el idioma. Entre declinaciones y sinónimos encontré, ya al final del libro, este poema. No sé muy bien por qué, pero hoy quiero compartirlo con todos. Ahí va.
Muy cerca de mi ocaso, yo te bendigo, vida,
porque nunca me diste ni esperanza fallida,
ni trabajos injustos, ni pena inmerecida;
porque veo al final de mi rudo camino
que yo fui el arquitecto de mi propio destino;
que si extraje las mieles o la hiel de las cosas,
fue porque en ellas puse hiel o mieles sabrosas:
cuando planté rosales, coseché siempre rosas.
...Cierto, a mis lozanías va a seguir el invierno:
¡mas tú no me dijiste que mayo fuese eterno!
Hallé sin duda largas las noches de mis penas;
mas no me prometiste tan sólo noches buenas;
y en cambio tuve algunas santamente serenas...
Amé, fui amado, el sol acarició mi faz.
¡Vida, nada me debes! ¡Vida, estamos en paz!
jueves, 2 de octubre de 2014
Martin Amis’ new novel The Zone of Interest has been released in the UK, but his French and German editors have decided not to publish it, claiming lack of demand and below standard quality. Nothing surprising there.
Except that the theme for the new satire is the Holocaust. So we hear the word ‘censorship’. Censors do exist, From Cuba to China, From Russia to Saudi Arabia. But to suggest state or ‘other’ intervention in this case is mere headline grabbing.
Amis is free to write and make available whatever he chooses. The readers will be the judges of his work, and no-one else. If he wishes he can publish digitally and offer his creation to most of the world.
If The Zone of Interest really is just that, then he will have no trouble selling his work.
If, however, he has come up with a dull, tasteless, insensitive and basically unfunny tale.... I say no more.
martes, 2 de septiembre de 2014
Any publicity is good publicity as the saying goes, which speaks volumes about the times we live in. One would have thought that novelists would be above such aberrations, but the temptation to make a few bucks by dragging a colleague over the coals is too great for some it seems.
Will Self has declared that Orwell is The Supreme Mediocrity. Why? Because he refused to shroud his meaning and therefore his communication in a swathe of learned synonyms. Thank the deities.
Reaching for the thesaurus is fun, and educational to a point, but to deliberately flaunt your superior knowledge of the English language in the reader’s face is pedantic and snobbish. If I were to write in Spanish to a readership that does not command the language, I may as well defecate in the lactate.
Surely the key here is communication? If I want to receive English vocabulary lessons I will attend a night school, I do not need Sticker Bill to enlighten me.
Dumbing down? Not at all. If a word is perfect for the situation, with the resonance and nuance of meaning ideal in that particular context, then it has to be used. Readers are not idiots; they know how to use a dictionary. What they don’t need is a pompous approach to literature that makes reading either a slog or a bore.
Some musicians like to show off their techniques and superior musical knowledge by performing incredibly intricate and complicated pieces full of key changes and bizarre scales. They enjoy themselves, but the audience falls asleep. The alternative is not Madonna – there is a whole world of beauty in between.
So come on Will, drop the publicity stunts and pay a well deserved homage to Orwell.