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The world's longest suicide note.

I write about life with bipolar disorder (a.k.a. manic depression).

All opinions are my own.


How to be a Philosopher

8 min read

This is a story about thinking...

Thought bubble

There's a bit of a monopoly on thinking. I mean, you're allowed to think and stuff, but you're not allowed to share those thoughts. Well, you can share your thoughts but nobody's going to care, because you're a nobody. People want to know the opinions of a rich spoiled heiress who's famous for having her sex tape plastered all over the internet, but not your opinions. People want to know the opinions of those whose opinions are already well publicised, and those who already have a platform and a group of devout followers. Nobody wants to hear any new thoughts, ideas or have their cherished philosophies challenged.

Thus, we arrive in the quagmire of modern day living. We are heavily weighed down by our attachment to notions of what we consider to be virtuous, conferring greater social status and conforming to acceptable social behaviour - norms, if you like.

If you wish to conduct a real-world philosophical experiment, try asking a person on a crowded bus or a train if you can sit where they're sitting. There's nothing written into law to say that you're not allowed to ask if you can sit down without a socially accepted reason, such as being old or pregnant, and I very much doubt you were taught by your parents or in school that you shouldn't ask for somebody to give up their seat for you, so where did the protocol come from? How did it become enshrined that we accept "they had it first" as validity for possession of something we desire?

One might argue that thieves are an example of an antisocial behavioural pattern that, nevertheless, allows a person to get the things that they need in life, just as any one of us might steal the milk from a cow, or the seeds from a plant - we see numerous examples of behaviour that is criminalised and stigmatised in some forms, but accepted and even revered in others. Why is it that we call welfare claimants "scroungers" and "parasites" but we don't we criticise bosses, managers, slave-owners and similarly idle people who profit from the labour of others?

I feel compelled to caveat what I'm writing, and say that there's a kind of absolute morality which decrees that any action which has a victim - rape and murder, for example - is always wrong, while theft and fraud could arguably be said to be victimless, because wealth always needs to be redistributed. In actual fact, in a godless world with no afterlife, there is no place for morality - when you're dead you're dead, so you might as well do whatever the hell you want, provided the profit to you is greater than the potential societally-imposed consequences.

If you were asked to say what the prevailing philosophy of the present day is, what would you reply? Would you say that we are still religious and subscribe to the ancient belief systems of the major religions? Would you say that we have adopted the philosophy of the Ancient Greeks? Would you say that we have adopted modern politico-economic philosophies, which could broadly be described as socialist or conservative? How would you react if I suggested that we are like a rudderless ship at the moment - we have no guiding philosophy and we are led by vapid celebrities who are incapable of imagining a culture beyond wealth worship and superficial bullshit.

The terrifying truth is that atheism and capitalism have won, ushering in an era of scientific progress, technological advancement and incredibly efficient industry, but without a guiding philosophy. Nobody seems to care that we've forgotten to ask a fundamental question: Why?

Why are we here? Why are we doing what we're doing? Why are we even alive?

Ultimately, we may come to realise that we might as well live completely hedonistic reckless irresponsible lives, because it's immediately rewarding and death is inevitable. In a godless world with no afterlife, what possible reason is there to consider anything other than maximising our pleasure, right now? There is nothing after this - we just die.

Because it's deeply disturbing to see your family and friends dying, and to know that we are mortal too, we arrive back at the need for religion: Comforting bullshit to allow us to cope with the fact that we're soon going to die. Religion offers an answer where there is none to be found. Science needs no opinion on what existed before time itself, because the question is nonsensical. Science needs no opinion on where our consciousness goes when we die, because it seems self-evident that it doesn't go anywhere at all - you just cease to exist.

Taking the thought experiment - life without any guiding philosophy - to its ultimate conclusion, we can see that we might as well perpetrate rapes and murders and leave the surface of the planet scorched and barren, as we wring every ounce of pleasure out of the present instant. Who cares about tomorrow when we're all going to die? This seems to have a ring of truth about it, when we consider the direction the human race is travelling in. Our laws are nothing versus the power of global capitalism, celebrity, wealth worship, drugs, slavery and the general abandonment of philosophies that sought to make the world a fairer place, where human excesses were curtailed and greed was considered sinful.

There is a vacuum at the moment, left behind when we rejected religion as superstitious bullshit, which of course it is, but religion is also the glue between the pooh - religion at least gave us a kind of consensus of opinion about right and wrong, and why it's better to live life with some view to improving the world for future generations. Governments, politicians and civil servants are not the right people to become a new church. We cannot rely on power-hungry busybodies to provide us with any kind of societal structure, because rules and regulations are nothing if there's no guiding philosophy that people subscribe to. It's a bit like speeding: we all know what the speed limit is, but very rarely do we feel like it applies to us, because rules are there to be broken.

We have created a generation who believe in nothing and want to commit suicide. We have created a generation who are smarter than ever before, but who have nothing to look forward to, and we don't have an answer for them when they ask: Why was I even born?

If you're looking to me for an answer to the big question - why are we here? - then I can give it to you but you're not going to like it. In fact, it rather deserves a blog post of its own, although I've hinted at my answer when I mentioned the scorched earth, created by raping and pillaging all the planet's resources, and the death of consciousness. I've written before about quantum immortality. You really don't want to hear all that stuff again - it's not very nice, even if there's a pretty decent chance it could be correct and it'd be really easy to prove.

Are you still looking for an answer to the big question? If you are then I have good news [sic]. The argument for not being hedonistic and short-termist is that one person can make a difference. Of course, one person on their own is just a blithering idiot who can rant and rave in isolation. We might see that those who live their lives as an example to others are often taken advantage of and lose out because they don't cheat, steal and otherwise conduct themselves without a shred of moral decency. What's the point in voicing an opinion in a world that doesn't care who you are or and whether you live or die? Well, there's a slim chance that your tiny contribution might become part of a bigger movement - a billion whispers become a deafening roar. In a world where no almighty church is going to impose itself on you and declare any wayward views heretical, we have both collective and individual responsibility to formulate our own life philosophies, that are hopefully capable of improving the world, rather than continuing to perpetuate patterns of behaviour that will destroy everything.

Our current thought leaders have provided nothing except the perpetuation of the status quo, the nihilistic vacuum left behind by the decline of religion, and the boom of free-market capitalism. The free market believes in nothing. Politicians believe in nothing. We can no longer survive in a world where we are led by leaders who simply tell us what we want to hear. We can no longer survive as a species when we worship those who exhibit the least capability for free-thinking, the highest preference for elitism and the concentration of the monopoly on thinking in a few powerful hands.

To call myself a writer, a thinker, an intellectual - these things are laughable, of course. However, why do you think that?




On Yer Bike

5 min read

This is a story about malingering...

Universal Credit

The Conservative Government makes policy based on the assumption that anybody who doesn't work is lazy and that we - the British public - should spy on each other, bully and coerce each other into bullshit dead-end underpaid McJobs in the interests of further enriching the obscenely wealthy capitalists. To talk about the 'free' West is a joke. You're free to be homeless. You're free to be hungry. But you are not a free man or woman at all.

I've suffered many periods of depression in the past, but the present one sets a new record for its length and severity. Further exacerbating my depression has been a dire financial situation. It's true... if somebody hungry enough they can drag themselves out of bed. If somebody's in enough pain they can drag themselves out of bed. If somebody's afraid enough they can drag themselves out of bed. That doesn't mean that we should inflict fear and pain and hunger onto sick people, in order to bully and coerce them into working bullshit McJobs simply so the rich can get richer.

I spent the last 24 hours without any of the medications I've been dependent on for a whole year. It's been 24 hours of hell on earth. "Have you tried breathing exercises?" etc. etc. Bullshit. I was sick. I was really really really sick. I still am.

I've limped along for so long. It's true that I can force myself to get up and appear half functional because I absolutely have to, but it's unsustainable. In fact, it's counter-productive for me to force myself into horrible stress and anxiety-inducing situations, having what little energy I have left drained from me by some bullshit job. It's been incredibly costly to my mental health to have been forced back into the workplace when I'm still so unwell.

I'm bumping along the bottom. I barely get a whisker above the absolute lowest I can get and then I'm pummelled back into the floor. If only I had the time and the money to recover properly. If only I could get well before I'm forced back into work by economic necessity.

I'm kind of a poster boy for the Government's unethical and abhorrent abuse of the British public - I've been bent to their iron will; I've been bullied and coerced and forced at gunpoint to do shit that's fucking awful. I'm held up as an example that "depression's all in people's heads" and "people who are sick can work". I supposedly demonstrate that if things are desperate enough, mental health problems can be overcome and somebody can go to an office and do a job... except I can't.

My life is a continuous crisis. Suicidal thoughts plague every waking moment. My anxiety and stress levels are through the roof. I'm very much not at all functioning - this bullshit life is killing me.

You might think I'm being hyperbolic. You might think that I'm making a fuss. You might think I'm complaining too much, because you can't quite get over the fact that every day I put on a smart suit and I go to work in an office. You believe that the fact I'm going to work is all the evidence that you need to declare that you were right all along - depression is just a made-up illness and people who say that they can't work because of mental health problems are lazy liars; leeches on society.

The daily agony that I'm put through is enough to cause me to end my own life. Life is too unbearable. It's not like I was supported back into the workplace by a loving, caring Government and now I'm finding that it's really good for my self-esteem and I'm really glad I'm back at work. Bullshit! I call complete and utter bullshit on such infantile fantasies as the idea that some people are just lazy and they need to be punished.

It's possible that I might be able to find some cocktail of medications that would allow me to be more functional, but it's not me that's the problem, is it? It's no measure of good heath to be well-adjusted to a sick society. I refuse to take loads of pills with horrible side-effects, just so that I can conform to your bullying and coercion. I refuse to be called 'sick' when really it's the spying and hatefulness between citizens that's sick - who gets to decide that somebody else is "lazy"? It's bullshit.

The smug and arrogant guardian class have been co-opted into the coercive and bullying world of Conservative Government. Safe and well paid government jobs are given to ordinary citizens, who then become brutal and tyrannical arseholes, casting their judgement on their fellow men and women. It's not right to give people God-like powers over their fellow citizens, allowing them to approve or deny them the things they need to survive. It's too much power and it's creating a class of absolute c***s who think they can sit in judgement over those who they believe are beneath them.

I've seen people who have sworn an oath to do no harm, be turned into harm-inflicters. I've heard utterances from those who have supposedly dedicated themselves to saving lives and improving public health, become corrupted by an ideology that believes we should all be enslaved to the capitalists - anybody who's not working is a "scrounger" or a "benefit cheat" or otherwise somebody beneath contempt.

It angers and upsets me that those who are supposed to help and support and care, have been turned into beady-eyed prying spies, bullies - part of the apparatus that is oppressing and tyranising tens of millions, turning their lives into abject misery.

Where's the compassion?





8 min read

This is a story about social coercion...

Unshone shoes

You might not feel like working and that's fine - it's a personal choice - but how do other people feel about your idleness? Although most jobs are utter bullshit and produce nothing of any value to humanity, there is immense social pressure to work anyway. Try not working for a bit and see how people react. You'll see quite a nasty, aggressive, bullying side to people's character, if you tell them that you're not going to work because you can't be bothered. It incenses people that you might make the smart decision not to bother with your bullshit job. It enrages people that you'd be smart enough not to just go along with the madness of pointless makework.

Thus, we see people continuing to 'work' when it's patently obvious that there isn't really a job at all - the tasks that are being performed are entirely superfluous to anybody's needs. Do we really need any more spreadsheets and powerpoint presentations and emails and meetings about meetings?

"Everybody's got to work"

No they don't.

"But how else are we going to get money?"

We don't need money.

"Yes we do"

No we don't.

You don't need to get a job as a baker, so that you can get paid a salary so that you have money to buy a slice of the bread you just baked. Capitalism's argument that money is more efficient as a means of exchanging value, is demonstrably absurd. Yes, it seems obvious that barter is inefficient, but so is a system where we spend our lives on packed commuter trains and in offices, having our children raised by strangers while we shuffle papers around our desk, trying to look busy. There's so much busywork. It's all bullshit.

"But if we said that nobody has to work, then nobody would work"

Yes. Nobody works anyway. Did you build your house? Did you grow the food you ate? No. You work in the service industries. You sit in front of a computer, pretty much doing nothing. Only a tiny fraction of society are actually producing goods and providing services that are essential to humanity. Most people are busy doing stuff that's of no use to anybody.

To choose not to work is a smart choice. To choose not to work is to deprive society of nothing at all. To choose not to work is a protest at the insanity of being shackled to a system that provides nothing but anxiety, depression and misery. Work really isn't working. Wouldn't you much prefer to stay at home playing with the kids, or smoking cannabis and playing computer games? Wouldn't you much prefer to make music, write poetry or paint pictures? Well, why don't you? They're certainly not paying you enough for all those boring boring hours of so-called 'work'.

If we all stop putting up with boring bullshit jobs that don't pay very well, then we force society to be restructured in a way that gives us back our lives. We shouldn't be spending hours every day commuting. We shouldn't be so bored all the time. We shouldn't be wasting our precious time doing pointless made-up bullshit jobs.

Imagine what life would be life if we stopped calling each other "lazy". Imagine what life would be like if we stopped bullying and abusing each other into doing the most ridiculously menial, degrading and laughable tasks and calling it "work". Imagine what life would be like if we stopped feeling so smug and self-satisfied that we'd been busy doing the pointless bullshit that passes for a so-called job. It's madness. There's no pride in your work if your job is utter bullshit. There's no such thing as a work ethic, if your work is unethical and profoundly stupid and pointless.

Yes, there are jobs to be done, but guess what? Those jobs will get done. Don't worry about it. The fact that there are some jobs to be done doesn't mean that we all have to have pointless bullshit jobs. If you want to work, you should be a farmer or a builder. If you don't want to work, then don't. Don't go to an office and call it a job though. It's not a job. It's bullshit.

Most so-called 'work' is just new and elaborate ways of counting beans. Counting the beans doesn't make any more beans. It's far better to have a surplus of beans and not bother counting them, than to have vast numbers of useless people, idly counting beans instead of doing something more productive.

Yes, to toil in the heat of the midday sun, or in the wind and the rain, on a muddy building site or in a muddy field... it's not most people's idea of a good job. Well guess what? Good news! Hardly any of us actually have to do those jobs. We're able to use high-yield farming techniques to feed vast numbers of people with very few workers. You only have to build your house once, and then you can live in it for the rest of your life. There really isn't very much work to do.

When we remove the need to commute to our bullshit 'jobs' every day, we find that vast amounts of infrastructure isn't needed. Who needs all those offices, when office work is demonstrably bullshit? Who needs all those roads and railways? Who needs all those desks and office chairs and fluorescent lights? Who, in fact, needs to take up all that space - office space during the day and home space at night? Who needs to waste so much energy travelling between the office and home? It all becomes superfluous to requirements.

Imagine a world where you get to see your kids grow up. Imagine a world where you're not stressing yourself out of your mind, trying to get to the office on time. There's no need for any of that. Almost the entire world of work is complete and utter bullshit.

If you really think that money and capitalism are a good thing, why don't you demand a salary that would allow you to have the lifestyle you've always dreamed of? In fact, aren't you saving up for retirement? Isn't the ultimate goal to get enough money together so that you don't have to work any more? If your aim is to stop working, why don't you just stop working? Surely capitalism and money can't be working that well for you, if you're having to work when your ultimate aim is to stop working. Surely you're not being very smart, are you?

Your reaction is to bristle with annoyance at the very suggestion that you might be able to just stop working. It seems patently absurd to you, to live in a world without work and money. "Where will the things come from?" you ask. "How will anybody pay for anything without money?". It seems so obviously unworkable, to not have to work any more.

But, think about it. There's a pensions crisis and a housing crisis. Wages are shrinking in real terms. Household budgets are feeling the squeeze. Things are getting worse, not better. Your dreams of retirement are sailing over the horizon. How can we even afford all the old people who want to be idle anyway? There simply isn't enough money to pay for all the pensioners. There are too many old people and we don't pay our young people enough to allow tax receipts to exceed the bill for all those old people who don't want to work. The only solution; the only fair solution is to allow us all to stop working. Right now. Today.

Figuring out how to divide the tiny amount of labour that is actually essential, is a trivial detail. The biggest challenge facing civilisation at the moment is that the division of labour is currently so unfair, and this is creating social unrest and human misery. The biggest crime of the century is the theft of all those precious hours of our time, doing and producing nothing except anxiety, stress and depression.

Unless you think to yourself "I'm staggeringly well paid for what I do - I have everything I want and need - and I really love my job" every single day, then what the hell are you doing, you imbecile? If you think "I'm staggeringly well paid" and you want for nothing, but you hate your job, you're at least a little rational about things, but you're still an imbecile. If you're underpaid and your job is mostly pointless boring bullshit, what the hell are you doing? Quit! Do nothing!

We didn't ask to be born, and unless there's something worth living for, then what's the point of working? If there's no chance of owning a home and having some security and prosperity, then work isn't working. That 'money' that you think's so important, is actually just a mug's game. Money is supposed to represent value, but it's worthless if it can't buy the things you need.

I implore you. Be a famous pop singer. Be an actor. Kick a ball. Do those things that children do, because they're fun, and call that your job. Don't do the made-up boring bullshit. Vote with your feet. Deprive the system of your precious time - they're not paying you enough.

Only by striking, can the workers ever escape the crushing oppression of bullshit jobs.




Art, Sport, Acting and Music

6 min read

This is a story about being gainfully employed...

Affordable Art

Follow your dreams, as long as your dream is punching made-up numbers into a spreadsheet, trapped inside a depressing office with no natural light in the middle of an overcrowded polluted concrete jungle, with a horrible commute every morning and evening.

I started a new job this morning. I'm 1,200 miles from home. I had to take a train, a plane and an automobile to get here.

For a whole month, I wrote. That's a lie... I had some days off. I had to get my stuff from London, I had to get my passport from Manchester and I had some days when I just didn't feel up to writing, but I pretty much spent a month as a writer.

In order to indulge my artistic ambitions, I've had to give up a couple of months when I should really have been job hunting. My writing has also lost me lucrative contracts, when my Twitter/blog has been discovered by bosses. As a hobby, it's been incredibly expensive. As a job, it's been financially ruinous.

A friend of mine had two job options when he graduated: writer or computer programmer. He chose the latter, because the salary was five times as much and he wanted to be able to afford luxuries like food and rent. Another friend had the choice between an electric guitar and a computer. He chose the latter, knowing that it would pave the way for a lucrative career. I too have forgone opportunities to pursue academic interests, because of economic incentives.

In fact, we are strongly economically disincentivised from pursuing art. There can only be a handful of Damien Hirsts in the world, while there are millions of penniless artists.

They say that if you're good at something, you should never do it for free. However, how are you going to ever get good at something unless somebody's going to bankroll you while you're bad at it? Nobody is born with prodigious talent. There are also vast numbers of negative people who'll criticise, tell you that you're going to fail and tell you to give up and do something else. There are vast numbers of people who have a vested interest in seeing you fail - they don't want to see you succeed when they're too much of a gutless, spineless, miserable moaning, pathetic, uninspiring and otherwise wimpy excuse for a human being, to actually ever try to follow their dream or support somebody else in following theirs.

Given that it's rewarding to fuck about with paint or clay, stand in front of people singing or playing an instrument, act, play sports and otherwise pursue the performing and creative arts, one might argue that we're never going to be short of people who want to turn these hobbies into jobs. Wouldn't we all be artists if we could?

Here is the present paradigm: given an oversupply of people who'd like to do something more rewarding than the bullshit McJobs on offer, we have fierce competition for just a few slots. Only those who are prepared to go to extraordinary lengths, or those who are lucky enough to have been born into a family that already possesses wealth and fame, will be able to do a job that's fun rather than fucking awful.

Is capitalism working? Isn't capitalism supposed to reward those who work hard? Isn't the whole reason why capitalism's better than other systems of wealth distribution, because it incentivises hard work? What happens when that's no longer true?

The way I see it, we give up our childhoods to study hard, in the hope of getting better jobs. We give up our prime healthy years so that we can have a good retirement. What happens when the pension system is about to collapse and we can't hang on to the money that we've squirrelled away because our children can't afford houses? What happens when we bust a gut to get top exam grades and go to good universities, but there aren't any jobs and the ones there are wouldn't even allow us to afford the cost of living anyway?

Why are we working so hard? Why are we competing?

The competitive element of capitalism seems to have failed to deliver our most brilliant minds into productive endeavours. All those miserable hours of homework don't seem to be benefitting anybody. All those miserable hours spent in a traffic jam or otherwise in the rat race don't seem to be benefitting anybody. All I see is people chasing a dream that seems to slip ever further out of reach. What the hell are we doing, working so hard so that we might be able to one day stop and catch our breath, except we never can?

What happened to the age of leisure?

Of course, I see the irony and hypocrisy of writing this when I've been lucky enough to enjoy career breaks that have enabled me to write a couple of novels. "When do I get to write my book?" some might ask. Yes. I refer you to my previous question.

Something's gone horribly wrong and the prospect of a comfortable retirement is sailing over the horizon. Extrapolating, the prospect of any dreams being realised is an absolute one-in-a-million shot. As opposed to the buy-now-pay-later bogyman that we're all supposed to be afraid of, it seems to me as if we've sleepwalked into a kind of pay-now-never-get-the-benefit kind of dystopia. I really don't understand why people aren't chucking in the towel on their bullshit jobs and writing that fucking book. Why don't students say no to homework, and enjoy their youth? From what I can see, the stress and anxiety of modern life is ruining the vast majority of people's mental health.

I guess there are going to be growing pains, while we shift from a productivity-based capitalist global economy, back to a kind of life where we value human things like staying near our families, seeing our kids grow up and having what we want and need NOW not LATER. I mean, for fuck's sake we're not asking for much and we don't need much. Since agricultural mechanisation, we've been able to feed vast numbers with very little effort. Only about 1% of the UK's income comes from farming and fishing. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?

So, as I beaver away in an office working Monday to Friday yet again, I wonder how close we are to that day when we all suddenly decide that enough is enough and we really don't need any more exotic and arcane ways of disguising the fact that what we do all day for 'work' is absolute total and utter horse-shit, for most of us. Why can't we all be artists?




Head Office

6 min read

This is a story about referees...

Office blocks

Here's me travelling to work by boat during the tube strike. But why do you even have to go to work anyway? Why do we need the fancy towers of glass, steel and concrete? Why do we need to move millions of people away from their homes and into the cities every day? Why do we need to inflict untold agony on a huge proportion of humanity, just so we can keep some office chairs warm?

Imagine the global economy to be a game of football: the defenders are the police, army and healthcare professionals; the midfielders are the builders, farmers and fishermen; the attackers are the engineers and scientists. So, who's the referee?

The banks are the referee: they're the ones keeping score.

Banks are simply supposed to keep a tally - a balance - of who's winning the game. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less. You can play football without a referee, but it's supposed to be a fairer game if you have somebody impartial to be in charge of the match, running it according to the rules and without cheating.

Why the hell would over 80% of our economy be given to the people keeping score?

If you think about it, most of what goes on at head office is administration. Administration never put food on the table or a roof over anybody's head. Administration is an unnecessary overhead, not a business in its own right.

For sure, administration is hard and complex, but that doesn't mean it's valuable. Just because you've been to business school and got your Masters in Business Administration (MBA) doesn't mean you know fuck all about building a profitable business that adds value to humanity. In fact, you probably got a bit confused and you started to think that administration is the same as business.

If you don't pay your taxes, the government will shut you down. If you don't follow the trading laws, your business is going to get big fines and may be forced to cease trading. However, following the regulations isn't actually the same as running a business.

It's easy to believe that because your business is well administered, your book-keeping is well done and your taxes are all paid, that you're doing a great job. In fact, that's utter horse-shit. What does your business actually do?

So much money is wasted building fancy head offices and filling them full of administrative drones. One office block I worked in actually had a worm farm in the basement in order to eat all the useless paper that was generated by the bean counters.

Do we really need all these people doing bullshit jobs? Do we really need all these records and processes? Is it really helping humanity? Is it making anybody happier?

Today, London was paralysed by a tube strike, but what's the fucking point of those miserable journeys into the office anyway? What got done today? What wouldn't get done if nobody turned up? Would the world end? Would people go hungry or not have a place to live?

"But what about money? What about mortgages?"

Fuck those things.

There are plenty of resources. There's plenty of land to build houses and grow food. There are plenty of rivers and reservoirs. There's plenty of wind and solar energy to be harvested. Fuck sitting at a desk shuffling paper around. Fuck kowtowing to some bean counters.

You've been mortgaged. The reason why you have to do a pointless bullshit job that adds no value to humanity, is because the natural world is being destroyed to create more phallic towers of concrete, full of administrative drones, to add some more fucking zeros onto the digital bank balance of a small-penised oligarch. Does that sound like a useful endeavour to you? Is that how you want to say you spent your life?

It maddens me that we have to get up early in the morning in the middle of winter and struggle to get to 'work' on overcrowded commuter trains, because our bullshit economy worships the referees; the bean counters. The banks are supposed to grease the wheels of commerce, not hoover up all the fucking wealth.

It disgusts me that the lawyers, accountants, bankers and other financial service leeches are wallowing in cash, doing precisely fuck all of any value, and mandating that humanity has to commute across the country twice a day in order to shuffle paper around a desk and move digital money in increasingly pointless complex ways.

In financial markets, we talk about 'naked' positions. That is to say, the trading of a financial product with no need to do so except to try and make a quick buck in the global casino. Futures contracts were invented so that a farmer could sell his corn before it was harvested, in order to buy a combine harvester, and so that the corn flake factory knew exactly what the cost of their raw materials would be. Futures contracts were NOT invented so that some wanker who flies a desk could make an easy buck without so much as breaking a sweat.

The whole fucking system has gone berserk. Money is supposed to be exchangeable for labour or scarce goods, but instead money's just casino chips that have no use outside the global financial markets. We're all paying a heavy human price for our financial services, accounting, legal and administrative world, where we've ended up toiling over ever-growing mountains of worthless paper, instead of trying to build a better life for ourselves and future generations.

What the fuck are we doing, when our most brilliant minds go off to work in head offices, doing administrative and accounting type jobs, writing legal contracts, banking and other kinds of referee type bullshit? What the fuck are we doing, running a football match with 22 referees and a kid with two left feet who can't kick a ball?

Referees don't make a football match. Head offices don't make an economy.




Science and the Decline of Religion

10 min read

This is a story about changing beliefs...

Church window

Imagine being marooned on a rock in the middle of a vast ocean that's so deadly to life that you couldn't survive for more than a few seconds if you fell in. The ocean is lifeless and has no utility: it can't be purified or harnessed to generate energy. The rock has a fragile ecosystem that keeps you alive, but there is a relentless wind that threatens to blow away all the life-giving nutrients at any moment. You don't know how you got there, why you're there, or how the hell you're going to get off the rock if it can no longer keep you alive.

Welcome to the world according to science.

Isn't it much nicer to imagine an anthropocentric world, where some kind of paradise was created by an imaginary sky monster, just for us. Imagine there's some invisible guiding hand, making things happen, always with us Earthlings in mind. Imagine there's an all-seeing eye that only gives a shit about one particular species on one particular planet. Imagine that this universe isn't all there is: there's also some kind of afterlife. There... that's much more comforting, isn't it?

You could say that scientists believe in nothing. They don't think we were put on Earth for a reason: it's just a cosmic accident. Energy condensed into matter; quarks combined into protons and neutrons, which were fused into atomic nucleii; atoms bonded into molecules and reacted to create amino acids and proteins; the primordial soup created life, through pure chance. There's no reason for us to be here, except that given enough time - 14 billion years ought to do it - life as we know it becomes inevitable, given the laws of physics laid down at the birth of the universe.

When you start to study cosmology, you get some perspective on just how insignificant we are. When you start to deal with things on a cosmological scale, the numbers boggle your mind. There aren't even rulers that can measure the distances between objects in the night sky, because space and time are warped by matter and energy. Things are so far away, and we only have a tiny planet to move around on, so it's not like we can triangulate the position of anything. Everything in the universe appears to be just a point in space to us: the twinkling dots of light in the night sky.

If you think about time and evolution, you begin to see the staggering number of living creatures that died - our ancestors - so that we could be alive today in our current form. Take a look at an ear: it's a fucking weird looking thing, isn't it? Why the hell would it look like that? I can't tell you, but I know that I can take a shower without getting water in my ear canal, which is pretty awesome for listening out for any approaching sabre-tooth tigers while I'm washing myself.

Then, what about consciousness? Why is it that you are you? Why were you were born at the exact moment you were born? Why are you alive, right now, and not a hundred years ago, or a few thousand years ago?

So far as you know, you're the only you. Everybody else is somebody else. You've got your own unique set of experiences. You've got your own unique set of senses, and your own consciousness processing the sight, sound, smell, touch and taste of everything around you.

Ultimately, we can reach the conclusion that each universe is actually tailored to a single individual. The reason why there are lots of other people around who look very much like you is an inevitable consequence of the universal laws of physics. If I tweak the numbers one teeny tiny bit, we might get an almost identical universe, but there's a different person whose mind is "the one" that is truly conscious.

You feel pretty conscious, don't you? You feel like you've got free will and memories and you're seeing the world, right now, for what it is. But, that's only in your own universe. In your universe, I have no free will or consciousness: my world is dictated by your actions. In your universe, I'm not deciding to write these words... I'm not even aware of what I'm doing, even though I think I am.

The test is this: what would happen if you killed yourself?

Right now, there are about 7 billion people in the world. If I was to kill myself, 7 billion people would agree that I was dead and buried. 7 billion people would say that I just killed myself. But what about me? What about my opinion?

Here's how it goes: I get a gun, aim it at my head and pull the trigger. Guns are pretty reliable these days, so lets say I have only a one in a million chance of surviving a point-blank gunshot wound to the head. This is my free will, right? I make the decision to commit suicide, because I'm a conscious being with free will and that's my prerogative to do so.

So, what happens if the gun misfires? What happens if I put the gun down, pick up a different gun and that one misfires too? What happens if I pick up a machine gun, aim it at my head, pull the trigger and it just goes click-click-click-click-click as it keeps misfiring?

Essentially, if you take our very best scientific theories and follow them to their inevitable conclusion, this is what is predicted. If you keep asking "why?" over and over again, until you get to the deepest possible understanding of the universe as we observe it, you will conclude - from reproducible experiment - that the world is influenced by us, as observers. Our very consciousness is inseparable from reality and the laws of physics.

It's quite possible to answer the question "why are we here?" with the answer: so you can ask that question.

That might sound like begging the question, but it's actually perfectly logical.

Without consciousness, the examination of the world around us is not possible. Arguably, without being conscious of the existence of the universe, does the universe really exist?

Taking this reasoning a stage further, you can start to argue whether anybody in the universe in which you inhabit has ever truly been conscious. The evidence would suggest that they haven't, given that they are not able to experience the universe as you do: they are not able to answer the quantum suicide paradox, so they are unable to prove or disprove the reality in which they inhabit.

You and you alone are truly conscious, and everybody else is just an inevitability of the laws of the universe: entropy will destroy anything so ordered and sophisticated as a conscious being like you, but once you get one (you) it's inevitable that there will be billions of knock-off copies that didn't quite make the grade in your universe.

Ultimately, you are immortal and you will witness the end of the universe. It's the only logical reason why you were born when you were born.

"But what about all those people who die before me?" I hear you ask.

Well, they were never really conscious. I'm sure that in their own universes, which were nearly identical to yours, they were perfectly conscious, but the one universe in which you live, is made just for you: you're going to witness the death of everything and everybody, even if you try to kill yourself.

Taking this a stage further, we then wander into the territory of the theological.

What about heaven and hell?

If you're immortal, how do you think the world's going to be shaped by your actions?

Once you realise you're immortal, are you going to be naughty or are you going to be nice?

How's anybody going to stop you doing anything you want, if they can't kill you? You might as well be a thief; you might as well rape and murder; you might as well take anything you want and enslave all of humanity. As you rape and pillage, the world will become scorched and barren: Hell on Earth.

Alternatively, you could live virtuously, impart your wisdom and not abuse the discovery of your immortality. You could influence the people of the world to look after their home planet and try to preserve it beyond the longevity of their mortal lives. Over time, the world will become a place where everybody benefits from the generation before them, and it becomes received wisdom that it's better to co-operate and act with restraint, rather than act selfishly: Heaven on Earth.

Thus, we have arrived at a scientific reason for morality, as well as the negative consequences for 'sinning'. Science has drawn the same ultimate conclusions as religion: don't be a dick.

The chances are our species will wipe itself out before we are able to terraform nearby planets. The idea we're all going to fuck off to Mars on one of Elon Musk's SpaceX rockets, is actually just a massive excuse to continue raping and pillaging. The billionaires think that they've got an escape capsule, so there's no reason to rein in the corporate excesses and end the inequality that's destroying the planet.

Scientifically and through historical study of past civilisations, we're utterly fucked. The pursuit of pacifism, debt forgiveness, abolishment of usury and the creation of a fair and equal global society, has been completely abandoned in favour of rape and pillage. Capitalism must inevitably lead to the destruction of the natural world, overpopulation and enslavement of the developing nations, in order to fulfil its insatiable demand for unnatural growth. Things can't grow forever on a planet of finite resources: the laws of physics say that we can't just magic all our problems away.

We're acting like a blackjack player who's got a score of 20 but asking for another card, hoping to get an ace. Chances are, we're going to bust.

I really don't want a Tesla electric car: I'd rather not have to go to my bullshit made-up job. I really don't want a rocket ride to Mars: I'd rather people in Africa had some bicycles. I really don't want a NutriBullet food blender: I'd rather we abolished economic policies that leave nations starving, while others waste vast quantities of food. I really don't want an iPhone 8: I'd rather not have wars over mineral resources needed to make throwaway electronic gadgets. I really don't want private schools and top universities: I'd rather educate young women so they can make smart family planning decisions.

Just remember where the fuck you are: you're floating on a rock in the vacuum of space, with an incredibly thin layer of atmosphere just clinging to the surface because of the extremely weak force of gravity. The only reason the air isn't blown away into space - leaving you suffocating - is because planet Earth has an iron core which generates a magnetic field, diverting away the solar wind. Only 29% of the planet is land, and the rest is salty water you can't drink or use to water the crops. Have some fucking humility.

"But I'm some hot-shot CEO of a massive global corporation"

Yeah, right buddy. Try counting your money while holding your breath.

"But Elon Musk is going to fly me to Mars"

Yeah, and what are you going to do when you get there, you fucktard? There's no breathable atmosphere. There's no fertile soil.

"Scientists and engineers will find a way"

You mean the guys and girls who are telling you that the climate is fucked?

"God will guide us"

Good luck with that.




Know Your Place

9 min read

This is a story about the pecking order...


Respect my authority. I did well in school and I've risen up the chain of command. I have stripes on my epaulettes and letters after my name. I've got a fancy job title and I'm very well paid. Don't-you-know-who-I-am and I'm oh-so-superior to the likes of you. Back in your place, underling. Get back in line.

Our systems of population control breed subservience. Why don't the workers rise up and seize the means of production?

"I'm not good with numbers"

"I've got no interest in politics"

"I just keep my head down and do what I'm told"

Could there be anything more degrading than having your fellow human beings sitting in judgement over you? Who are they to say "yay" or "nay" on the question of your utility? How dare they decide your fate!

Job insecurity keeps wages down, because workers develop a misplaced sense of gratitude for their income. In hard economic terms, workers get a terrible deal: they do all the work and they only see a tiny fraction of the profit. Why on earth would they do that?

"You're easily replaced"

Yes. While I dislike people who attempt to make themselves into key-man dependencies and build little fiefdoms of complexity to make themselves indispensable, I also think that the commodification of human beings is one of the most awful things that's happening in the modern world.

What happened to the artisan; the craftsman?

Small is beautiful, in a way. Think back to a time when each village had a butcher, a baker and a candlestick maker. There was the blacksmith, the miller, the cobbler, the tailor, the farrier, the thatcher. There were apprentices aplenty and sons followed in their father's footsteps.

Of course, it's easy to bring up infant mortality and the large number of women who died during childbirth. Infections and treatable diseases used to be fatal. In the past, manual labour, poor diet and poor healthcare, meant that life expectancy was much lower. People were superstitious and afraid of death and disease. Nobody went skydiving.

Now, nobody has any place. We live with terrible insecurity. We could lose our jobs and have our homes repossessed at any moment. If your job becomes redundant due to ever-advancing technological changes and globalisation, you're unlikely to be able to afford to retrain. Besides, how would you ever even compete with all the people who are already trained and vying for the few available jobs?

What's the purpose of anything? What meaning is there to anything?

It was pretty clear why you got up at the crack of dawn to light the fire in the ovens: because if you didn't, people wouldn't have any bread and they'd be pissed off about that. In the village, everybody would be like "no fucking bread" and "yeah, I know. Shit isn't it!"

Now, why did you work hard at school, go to university, battle through those job interviews and kiss arses as you squirmed your way up the greasy pole; the career ladder? So you can punch numbers into a spreadsheet and give powerpoint presentations? So you can go to meetings and sit on cramped commuter trains? So you can eat pre-packaged sandwiches at your desk, getting crumbs all over the keyboard? Why the fuck are you even alive? What's the point of your existence?

If you're trying to get a fancier car so you can impress your friends and neighbours, or if you're trying to get a pay rise and a promotion, so you can 'win' and brag about how rich and successful you are, then perhaps you've found your purpose. Perhaps status symbols and meaningless job titles are the answer to the big question: why are we here?

What happens when it all goes bang and the whole fucking mess comes tumbling down? What happens when you realise you wasted your whole fucking life? You can't eat university diplomas or bonds or banknotes. You can't keep a house warm with supply chain statistics or flow diagrams. You can't live in an insurance certificate or legal contract. You can't clothe yourself with tax returns, essays, dissertations or theses.

Our world has divided into two camps: the celebrities and the nobodies; the powerful and the powerless; the rich and the poor; the smart and the stupid; the valuable and the valueless.

Did you ever notice how anybody who's anybody is rich, famous, powerful, smart and incredibly valuable to humanity, and everybody else is a worthless nobody who can go to hell? "Everybody else" accounts for 99% of the world's population, by the way.

Who wants to read the autobiography of Ahmad who sits behind the counter at my local dry cleaner? He must be pretty stupid if he's not powerful or rich. He's not famous so he can't have any value. He knows his place, which is about the only good thing we can say about him, right?

Modern society has led to city living because of economies of scale. It makes sense to have a multi-billion dollar mass transit system in a city, to make it easy for everybody to get to work efficiently. It makes sense to build all the high-rise head offices that can hold thousands of people, in one place. The net result is urban solitude and anonymity. Nobody knows who their neighbours are. Nobody knows who the local shopkeepers are. Nobody knows anybody, except the rich famous people who are the only ones with any value: they're indispensable.

One face is the same as another. Two workers who've held the same job title are interchangeable. Hire and fire. Who gives a fuck... human lives are cheap. Make the balloon go higher by chucking more bodies onto the fire.

We are running our economy by the numbers: we're wedded to our spreadsheets and all we care about is that this month's numbers are bigger than last month's numbers. Growth! Growth! Growth! More! More! More!

The top tier - our rulers, our managers, our executives - look at the graphs: are they going up? Who gives a fuck what's going on at the bottom. The tip of the iceberg is in charge of the rest.

You're drowning and freezing cold in the icy depths. You're part of that huge mass of ice beneath the surface, but you'd better not try and climb out of the water or else you'll topple the whole system and plunge the tiny tip into the depths... and nobody wants that, do they?

Chances are that you could do a better job than those in charge, because the country couldn't get much worse: inequality is a disgrace, poverty is rife, depression and suicide rates are skyrocketing, life is miserable and there are few prospects.

We're supposed to be ruled over by a house of commons: ordinary people from all walks of life. In fact, career politicians and massive political parties supported by wealthy donors & commercial interests, completely dominate the political landscape. We live in a plutocracy, as evidenced by the fact that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.

I count the middle class in the 'poor' bracket.

Of course, it seems ridiculous to suggest that well paid educated professional people in the middle class are poor - they have the best jobs, high quality housing and disposable income - but within a generation or two, the middle class are going to be utterly fucked. Skyrocketing house prices just don't work: they will erode your wealth, because you want somewhere for your kids and grandkids to live, don't you? Unless you live in a castle big enough for all future generations of your family, you're going to need some affordable housing at some point.

University tuition fees and the cost of student accommodation, comes on top of the private school fees you paid in order to get your little darlings the straight-A grades they needed to get onto the few degree courses that might lead to an actual job. A job doing fucking what exactly?

OK, so your silver-spooned little shits got themselves a degree and a professional qualification in law or accountancy or something, but you're going to have to fork out £100k+ to get them onto the housing ladder. Your terribly bright and brilliant kids now need a place to live near their job - London and the South-East - which means top dollar house prices.

Wealth has been hoarded by the baby-boomers who were gifted it by good luck and the inflation that eroded their debts relative to their incomes. The baby-boomers are now having to fork out all that filthy lucre in order to support their children and grandkids. There just aren't any well paid jobs that allow our special snowflake millennials to support themselves financially, no matter how hard they work.

So, the only group who have a place are the ones at the top of the pile: the ones who already control more wealth than they could ever spend in a hundred lifetimes, and who can easily generate some more because they already have the money, the fame and the power to make a success out of whatever the fuck they want to do. I mean, Paris Hilton is a DJ now, for fuck's sake: she presses the play button on a CD player and people pay to see that fucking shit.

All in all, why bother? Why the struggle? Why the stress? Why the anxiety and and the insecurity and the hideousness of battling over the crumbs from the cake?

We're all fighting with each other at the bottom, like crabs in a bucket, pulling down anybody who tries to escape.

Just stay in your place though. Don't complain. I'm sure those in charge know best.




I Want to Break Free

5 min read

This is a story about parasites...

Trapped animal

Everybody has to work, right? There's a social contract that we implicitly signed up for when our parents had sex on our behalf. In return for our parents' selfless act of having unprotected sex, we agreed - before we were born - to a life of wage slavery and paying bills.

The other way of looking at things is to ask what would happen if you didn't work.

A big hole in the ground was dug to make the foundations of your house, where you live. You dug that hole, right? What about the concrete that was used to fill the foundations? I presume you slaked the lime to make the mortar and you dug the aggregates to make the mix that was poured into the hole you dug. I mean, that's only logical.

Bricks were laid to make the walls of your house. I presume you collected the clay, shaped it into bricks and baked them in a kiln that you made. That's only logical.

Joists and beams were needed to make the floors you walk on and the roof that keeps you dry. I presume you chopped down those trees and milled them into the straight timbers that were needed. That's only logical.

Slates were hung to make your roof able to divert rain into your guttering. I presume you quarried those slates. That's only logical.

Nails were forged to join the wood. I presume you collected the iron ore and blacksmithed the nails. That's only logical.

Sand was melted in a furnace at incredibly hot temperatures to make the glass that glazes your windows. I presume you gathered that sand and kept the fires burning in order to make those panes of glass that adorn your house. I mean, that's only logical.

Meat, vegetables, kernels, pulses, herbs, salt, oils and other condiments were combined to make delicious meals to keep you going while you were doing all that hard work. I presume you farmed the edible things to make those meals. You harvested the corn, milled the flour and baked the bread. That's only logical.

Water was raised from the underground aquifers. I presume you dug the wells and winched up the buckets of water. That's only logical.

How are you doing so far? You can say that everything you've benefitted from has been a product of your own hard labour, right? You can show directly how your contribution to society means that you deserve your slice of the pie, of course. That's only logical.

"Actually, I'm much more important than that."

Right, let's test that hypothesis.

What do you actually do?

"I go to meetings in a big fancy office."

Alright. Let's go.

Coffee beans were picked, dried and roasted. The coffee was ground and infused in boling water. I presume you were there in South America, harvesting the crop. I presume you roasted your beans and ground them yourself. That's only logical.

Spreadsheet software was crafted from binary ones and zeros. Microsoft Excel was created from nothing, using computer programming. I presume you wrote Excel. That's only logical.

Companies were incorporated with memorandums and articles of association. Laws were made. Everything was written down on paper. Paper was made from wood pulp. Ink is made from pigments and dyes. I presume you made the paper and the ink, and you wrote down all the laws that govern your company. That's only logical.

Cotton was picked. Thread was made. Thread was woven into garments. Fancy shirts and suits of clothes were made so that the people in the offices could look powerful and important at their meetings, sipping coffee and putting made-up numbers into spreadsheets. You made all those things. That's only logical.

How are you doing now? Are you with me so far?

"You just don't understand. I paid for all those things."

Oh you PAID did you? Let's see how that stands up to cross-examination.

Gold was panned or mined out of the ground. Gold was melted down into bars and coins that were assay marked to vouch for purity and weight. I presume you were down in the mines with your pickaxe, or in the river bed with your panning bowl, plucking gold nuggets out of the ground. I mean, that's only logical.

Banknotes were printed and coins were minted. Banks held ledgers and reserves. Payments were recorded. I presume you made the currency that was hard to counterfeit. I presume you created the payment systems that were hard to defraud. That's only logical.

How about now? Keeping up?

"For fuck's sake. You just don't get it. I did my job and I got my salary. That's how I paid for my house and my food."

Oh, right. I get it now. What exactly did you do for your job? What exactly was your contribution?




An Anatomy of a Market Crash

9 min read

This is a story about a fictitious bear and an imaginary bull...

Market Graph

To explain how a speculative bubble bursts is very easy indeed. Investors are like a herd of cattle. They are not rational actors. When a critical mass of investors become spooked and start selling off their investments, this creates a market with more sellers than buyers, which means the asking price for financial instruments has to be lower to attract more buyers. Pretty soon, there is a stampede, as all the investors try to 'cash in' their investments and take their profits or minimise their losses. The asking price drops lower and lower, and buyers simply wait, knowing that the ever growing crowd of panicked sellers will underbid each other in a desperate attempt to offload their devaluing assets.

Anyway, that's so simple and obvious that it doesn't warrant further discussion. What I want to write about is what causes a speculative bubble in the first place.

We could look at historical examples, like the tulip mania during the Dutch Golden Age, with tulip bulb prices peaking in 1637, before crashing spectacularly. The Madness of Crowds explains the crash, but not the initial price bubble, in any satisfactory way for the modern financial markets.

To understand your average investor in publicly listed companies on the major stock exchanges, you only need to understand two human characteristics: greed and laziness.

The greed part is simple. Any of your friends who have reached a point of economic prosperity where they have disposable income are likely to have 'invested' some of their wealth. It's highly unlikely that they made angel investments in small startup companies where they knew the founders, the business model and understood the domain in which the embryonic enterprise operated. Instead, they thought they could make a quick buck by buying shares in a major corporation.

The laziness part is slightly more complex. The lazy divide into two groups. The speculative private investor looking to make a quick buck isn't interested in doing any actual work in order to earn their extra wealth. One phonecall to your stockbroker, having read a stock tip in your preferred newspaper does not count as an investment of labour, and so it is clear that these investors are lazy.

The second group are institutional investment managers: the people who look after pension funds. Now, you can ignore profit:equity (PE) ratios, yields, earnings per share (EPS), turnover and EBITDAs (Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation). You can ignore the philosophy of Warren Buffet, who is an active shareholder. The pension fund manager is passive and invests for one reason and one reason alone: the market capitalisation of the public company has reached a certain threshold. That is to say, the market values a public company above a certain amount of money.

To understand market cap, let's take Apple Inc. as an example. We take the number of Apple shares that are issued (5.4 billion at time of writing) and multiply that by the share price ($118 at time of writing) and we arrive at a market capitalisation of $637 billion. That is to say, if you had a spare $637 billion in your bank account, you could buy Apple outright*: every single share. You would be the sole shareholder of Apple, which is the biggest company in the world, by market capitalisation.

Now, Apple might have absolutely dog shit products lined up for the next 10 years. The CEO, Tim Cook could be an absolute moron who's going to run the company into the ground. The institutional investment manager doesn't give two hoots. They're going to buy Apple stock simply because it's highly valued. In fact, they're going to buy ALL the highly valued companies, above a certain market capitalisation.

In the UK, we have a kind of football league, with the premier league being the FTSE100 and then the league below being the FTSE250. As the market caps change, companies drop in and out of these 'leagues'. Consequently, investment managers will buy the new entrants and sell the ones that drop out. Easy as pie, right?

The laziness that drives all this is retirement. People saving for retirement are too lazy to make their own investments that ensure the value of their pension is not eroded by inflation, so they get an investment manager to 'track' the value of an index like the FTSE100, which generally outperforms inflation, over a long period of time. That makes sense, right? Money invested in the 'best' companies, should outperform money that's just sitting in the bank earning interest.

Furthermore, when people come to retire, they want their pension pot to be managed for income not for growth, but they're still too lazy to shop around to make sure that the yield or dividends that they are receiving on their pot of money give them the best possible income, while also protecting their capital.

In essence, the biggest part of our economy is driven by greedy lazy people. Instead of the industrious and ingenious entrepreneurs finding it easy to borrow money or sell a share of their company in order to raise the capital they need to grow, the sad reality is that almost all of the wealth in the developed world is ploughed into corporate behemoths that have already extracted all their value from the public, in order to keep people who have nearly reached the end of their lives in the manner to which they have become accustomed to.

Yes, that's right. By the time a company comes to the point where it floats on a stock exchange, it has peaked. It's time for the original founders, angel investors, venture capitalists, private equity and other shareholders to now cash in and fleece the public by offering their shares in an Initial Public Offering (IPO). Because the company has reached a certain 'valuation' (as decided by market sentiment and the bullshit written by the underwriting investment bank in the prospectus) then it has to be bought by the institutional investors, because it is highly likely to have a market cap that will put it straight into the FTSE100 or FTSE250. The companies with the smallest market cap in the FTSE250 are around £400m; for comparison Twitter floated with a market cap of $30,000m, which is 75 times more.

Let's take a hypothetical example. If I was to build a company with a turnover of approximately £20m per month, or £240m per year, then one might say that it could be valued using a rough multiplier of 2x turnover at £500m. That would easily be enough to make for an attractive IPO, because the market cap is going to attract all the institutional investors who have to buy FTSE250 companies. In effect, the IPO is underwritten by the pension tracker funds.

Therefore, greedy lazy people buy dog shit stock, it appreciates in value because of market sentiment - "ooh the price is going up, let's buy more" - and the fact that public companies can use their shares to acquire other companies (growth through acquisition) until they have a dominant market position (some may say monopoly, ahem!).

Growth through acquisition is not really growth. If I have 100% of the shares in company A, and 0% of the shares in company B, and then I use 49% of my shares and a bit of cash to acquire company B, such that I now own 51% of company A and 51% of company B, no new value has been created. There may be cost savings, there may be benefits from anticompetitive practices, but really all I'm doing is increasing the market cap of the parent company, hoping to move from the FTSE250 to the FTSE100, where a whole load more pension funds will have to buy shares for their index trackers.

The same deal goes on in the US, where companies are trying to IPO at a certain valuation in order to get into the Dow Jones or the NASDAQ, such that the US tracker funds will have to invest. The public - mostly pensioners - get fleeced.

So, in conclusion, the cause of a speculative bubble is actually institutional. Because the pension funds are so massive and they are passive investors, using index tracker funds, there is an immense amount of fake value created by mergers and acquisitions, as growth by acquisition carries such huge rewards. This starves the companies - who are truly growing and innovating - of much needed investment capital, stifling the economy and instead creating corporate giants who are too big to fail.

Eventually, the central banks and the rest of the money multiplying machine reaches the limit of how much the value of dinosaur institutions can be artificially inflated. These dinosaurs move at glacial pace and stifle change and competition. The lack of efficiency of markets to deliver capital to those companies who have true growth potential, undermines the economy for years, until finally things reach breaking point.

Overvalued companies, market disruption by venture-capital backed challengers, the faltering of capital gain and the end of effortless profits, are the things that spook the lazy, greedy investors. So, then begins the market crash.

The dying behemoths are dangerous animals. For example, the 'too big to fail' banks were able to hold the world's largest economies to ransom, with the threat of unimaginable disruption to our systems of payment and borrowing that underpin so many mortgages, overdrafts, credit cards, car loans and how we get and spend our wages each month.

For now, the status quo persists, because the idea of smoothly transitioning to truly free and competitive markets is beyond comprehension, such is the web of complexity that has been created by supranational organisations that have swallowed so many competitors around the globe.

Until we move to active investment rather than passive investment, we will always have the cycles of boom & bust.




* - You couldn't actually buy all Apple's shares for $118 each, because the very process of buying up all the available stock for sale would drive up the price. I merely offer a simplified example.


Forced Labour

9 min read

This is a story about slavery...

 Two Weeks of Selfies

Do you have to run just to stand still? Does it seem like no matter how hard you try, you just can't get ahead? Why is it that the only time you're going to get to enjoy any leisure time, is when you're sick and old?

Even if I owned my own home outright, I would still need to pay council tax, gas, water, electric and sewerage. Even if I grew all the vegetables I needed and never left my plot of land, I would still need to raise a significant sum of money every single month.

Let's assume that I had solar panels, wind turbines and I heated my own water using firewood from my own trees. Let's assume I got water from my own well, and I operated my own miniature sewerage plant, so I could release my processed effluent back into the water table, without breaking environmental protection laws. I would still have to pay council tax.

I don't object to council tax. Council tax pays for the police, who will protect my self-sustaining home from being burgled. Council tax pays for the fire service, who will come and douse my house with water, in the event that it should catch alight.

If I never leave the house, I grow everything I eat and compost everything I waste, then I have no use for dustbin collection, and I have no use for street lighting or roads. I have no use for car parks. I have no use for regular parks and recreation grounds.

Furthermore, I have no use for schools or libraries. I certainly have no use for councillors, council officers and other civil servants.

Let's assume I surround my land with a 15-foot electrified fence, topped with razor wire. Let's assume that I install a sprinkler system, and have my own high-pressure hoses and firefighting training. I would still have no exemption from paying council tax. Paying council tax is my civic duty, because of the air that I breathe in a particular county.

This isn't a rant about how "taxation is theft". I'm just pointing out that there's no such thing as a free man in the United Kingdom. Somebody will always want something from you, even if you're minding your own business, being totally self-sufficient and working in harmony with nature and the land.

Very few people would be able to buy a sufficiently large plot of land to be able to grow enough trees to give them a lifetime's supply of firewood. Also, you're going to need somewhere to grow all those vegetables you're going to eat. You're probably going to need greenhouses and polytunnels to grow more frost-sensitive fruit & veg.

There's capital expenditure necessary to buy a wind turbine and a lifetime of spares for any repairs. Solar panels don't come cheap, and they have a finite lifespan. You're going to need a shittonne of batteries, so that you can store energy for when it's not windy or sunny.

You're going to need a well insulated house with a wood-fired boiler to heat hot water as well as to keep you warm in winter. Your home is going to have to be super energy efficient, because you don't have much electricity, so you'll use LED lighting and cook on a wood-fired stove. You won't be able to use a washing machine, dishwasher, tumble dryer, electric oven, microwave, electric hob, hairdryer, electric heater or other electricity consuming units.

Then, to keep your smallholding running, you're going to need tons of tools and machinery. Doing it all on your own means you'll want a petrol-powered rotivator, strimmer, lawnmower and a bunch of chainsaws to chop up all that firewood. You'll need lots of gardening equipment to make sure you're growing enough food to keep yourself nourished the whole time. You'll need lots of building equipment, to make sure you keep your house repaired and maintained.

If you don't have a well on your plot of land, you're going to have to dig a borehole and install a pump. Building a sewerage processing plant is no small investment of time, labour and materials, and probably not something you would do yourself, although you would be responsible for ongoing maintenance: a lovely job.

Remember, you're also going to need a lifetime's supply of petrol, engine oil and other consumables such as soap, toothpaste, spare lightbulbs etc.

So, after all this, your miniature self-sustaining estate has probably set you back the best part of £1 million, and you still have to work full-time to tend to your fruit and vegetables, and maintain all the equipment that generates power, pumps water, pumps sewage etc. etc.

Worst of all, you're going to have to sell some of the fruit & veg that you produce to pay your council tax, so really, you're not very free at all.

You may end up busting your balls in all weather, just so some council bureaucrat can take paid sick days and generally not work very hard at all.

Through economies of scale, farmers can harvest the crop in huge fields in a single day, when previously it would have taken men and women all summer to do it with sickles and scythes. Something as basic as a masonry nail is incredibly hard for a blacksmith to make, but in factories, vast quantities of goods like nails can be produced much more cheaply, in terms of labour effort.

"The good life" and nostalgia for a time of peasantry is nothing more than stupidity. Only a tiny handful of people blessed with inherited wealth can be idle in the countryside, doing the occasional spot of gardening, and otherwise spending their trust fund income in Waitrose and charging around the countryside in a gas-guzzling Range Rover.

Thus, I don't believe in communism, with its emblem of the sickle and hammer. Growing your own vegetables, or making ornate ironwork is a nice hobby, but we don't want to return to the era of blacksmithing and working in the fields. The combine harvester is a thing of great progress, as is the ability to mass-produce metal goods in factories.

The communes that sprang up in California in the 1960s and 1970s all failed, because they were set up by lazy bums who just wanted to sit around smoking dope. When they ran out of money, they found that they had been subsidising their stupid middle-class fantasies all along. Eventually power struggles tore the little hippy communities apart, but they were doomed to failure from the start.

In climates where the need for heating is less pronounced and the crop yields can be much higher, there are already population problems. For sure, you can go and buy a plantation in the developing world relatively cheaply, but aren't you then headed down the colonial path? When you employ local labour to till the fields, because it's too hot to do it yourself, you've then economically enslaved your workforce.

The division of labour is a hard problem to solve, but there is also dignity in labour, if you're doing something that you feel is productive and useful. Perhaps the high sickness rates in local government are due to the fact that their staff know that all they're doing is pushing paper around their desks and looking busy. It doesn't feel morally right, to tithe the estates of the hard-working men and women who are working the land, only to spend it on fancy offices, coffee machines and watercoolers.

Eventually, I decide that we must move to a model of state-owned enterprise for everything that's in the public interest: transport, education, healthcare. But where do you stop? What about housing, food and clothing?

Clearly the technocrats of the Soviet Union completely failed in their attempts at central planning, but can we be sure that there's less wasteful use of resources in private enterprise? My experiences certainly don't bear this out. Every company I've ever worked for has been full of idle incompetent fucktards. That's not supposed to happen in capitalism. Capitalism is supposed to lead to efficiency.

If we look at the vast amounts of food and energy that are wasted by the United States and Britain, we can be certain that capitalism is a failed model for the efficient use of labour and scarce resources, and the fair distribution of wealth. Capitalism has failed every single test, including its ability to weed out the 'bad apples'. One only has to look at the 2008 financial crisis to see that the idea of market efficiency has been replaced by monstrous monopolies: enterprises that are too big to fail, but are bleeding our economy dry.

The banks need to be nationalised. The railways need to be re-nationalised. No more council houses can be sold off. Any private parts of the National Health Service need to be re-nationalised, and a huge cull of middle-management dead wood needs to happen. Executive pay needs to be capped, and those who wish to work in public services should be proud to be performing their civic duty for their fellow citizens.

Of course, wealth will flee offshore. Investors will panic. Let them.

The assets are here. The workforce is here. We don't need the paper money created by the plutocrats. We can rebase our currency back to a sensible gold standard, forgive all loans and start over. Clean slate.

One only has to study the German economic miracle to see that these reforms can work, do work, and will transform a country into one of happiness and productivity.

The strategy of trying to print money to get out of economic trouble, and enforce bad policy with a police state and martial law, is always doomed to failure. We are at the tipping point. Things could boil over at any moment.

So, the Western world finds itself at a crossroads: to continue with the folly, down a path that has always led to ruin for past civilisations, or to learn from the lessons of history, and take the alternative route.