Late Friday afternoons are traditionally the time that politicians, businesses, celebrities, etc, release bad news to the public in the hope that they won’t see it. Season 1, episode 13, of The West Wing calls this “Take Out The Trash Day”, and with that in mind I give you the first instalment of a new semi-regular feature on the Blog: Throwin’ Out The Trash.
Each week, there are so many fucked up stories and newsy bits and pieces that cross my path in this 24/7 media blitzkrieg that we’re living in, and I simply do not have the time or inclination to write a full-on commentary piece about all of them. Throwin’ Out The Trash is my chance each week to clear the decks of all these niggling odds and sods without ignoring them completely…
So, multi-millionaire pop mogul, Simon Cowell, has decided to release a charity pop single of REM's classic song, "Everybody Hurts", in order to raise some much needed funds to help the devastated victims of the January 12th Haitian earthquake. A nice idea, and a lot of people are out there doing what they can to raise money to help with this terrible tragedy. But when the guy proposing the charity single has a personal fortune of £120m – and just signed a brand new £100m deal to bring his television show, X-Factor, to the United States on the very day that Haiti suffered the earthquake – you have to wonder why he isn’t just putting a hand into his own pocket to help out the aid effort instead of making us, the not-so-wealthy British public, do it for him?
To put this into perspective, whilst Cowell could personally afford to give several million pounds to the Haitian aid effort if he wanted to without the British public spending a single penny, Peter Kay’s 2009 charity single for Children in Need, released last November, raised only £170,000. Cowell’s own recent charity efforts have done a little better, with last year’s X-Factor single for Great Ormond Street raising at least £200,000 in its first week, and the 2008 single raising over £1m for Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion. But the fact remains that Cowell himself could personally contribute the amount of money earned by all three of those charity singles to Haiti combined, plus an extra million, and still have a very comfortable £117m to live off without the generous British public having to give a thing.
If anyone out there reading this still thinks that free-market capitalism is a great idea, maybe they can explain to me why I should support an economic mentality that sees stock-prices drop and Wall Street panic when the President finally says that he’s going to do something about the dangerous financial de-regulation that so recently brought the world economy to its knees?
For the majority of Americans, and people all around the world, the last year and a bit has been a hellacious time of recession and unemployment. Life has become a struggle, work has become scarce, homes have been taken away and dreams have been shattered. All of this misery and turmoil – every single bit of it – was down to the rapacious greed of an unregulated financial industry who sucked the economy dry and then had the temerity to ask us to bail them out or die.
This wealthy minority of money-obsessed gamblers and con-men (or “motherfuckers”, if you want the correct term) essentially gang-raped the world’s economy for their own material gain and sent the globe into a depression-risking downspin and yet, yesterday, when the President finally announced his plans – at long last; a dollar short and a year too late – to place some much needed restrictions on the out of control banking industry, they responded by sending a petulant and unrepentant message to the Whitehouse that, if he dare tell them to curb and regulate their greed, there would once again be hell to pay.
The worse thing is, the media actually reported this bullshit tantrum as news. A bunch of out of control wealth-addicts get told they’re going to have some restrictions placed over their previously unfettered playground of destruction and they throw their toys out of the pram in protest? Good. It’s time these fat-cat motherfuckers felt some of the same ramifications from what they’ve done as the rest of us, instead of thinking that cutting their bonuses down to a measly $498,000 per person counts as suffering!
David Cameron today cynically used the recent case of two school-aged brothers from Edlington violently torturing a nine year old and eleven year old boy as proof that Britain under Labour has fallen into “social recession”. The case was horrific – the work of two very disturbed young sadists who left their victims for dead after 90 minutes of reprehensible cruelty – but the argument that this anomalous case of horror is a sign of the times under Labour must be dismissed as spurious when we remember that the equally horrific Jamie Bulger case (in which a much younger boy – a two year old – was actually murdered by his equally sadistic young attackers) happened in 1993, under a Tory government in its fourteenth year of power.
If anything, under Labour, society has gotten better by Cameron’s preposterous argument, because the Edlington victims survived whereas Jamie Bulger did not.
The use of this meaningless and emotively charged example is hollow opportunism at its most base and ridiculous, and it is a travesty of the highest proportions that the ghastly ordeal of two unfortunate children is being exploited like this by a man who thinks himself suitable to be our next leader.
Finally, if you didn’t think that corporations ruled the world already, well…they will do pretty soon. The US Supreme Court, this week, made a landmark ruling to remove the limits corporations previously faced on how much they could spend to elect and defeat candidates running in US elections. That’s right – multi-billion dollar corporations can now pay whatever they want to the campaigns of the candidate of their choice to ensure that the “right” guy gets into office.
Oh functioning democracy – we hardly knew ye…