Sunday, August 21, 2011

Are the alternative media just nuts?

There are plenty of complacent self-congratulatory bloggers who will tell you that the mainstream media (MSM) are rubbish and that the only useful sources of information are the alternative media, a claim that is utterly absurd. The alternative media provide almost no news at all. They leech off the MSM, picking and choosing and putting their own spin on the selected data.

Almost no alternative media site offers original news reporting. Wikileaks, for example, provides not news, but carefully screened stolen documents, including some that may be doctored or entirely fraudulent.

True, some in the alt. media world occasionally make some actual news gathering effort. Matt Drudge made a lightening visit to Afghanistan in the opening days of the American assault on that country with laughably trivial results in reportable news. Webster Tarpley recently spent a couple of days reporting from Libya. But collectively, the alt. media news gathering effort is essentially nil.

The MSM provide more than just news, however. Opinion is cheaper than news and the MSM is full of it. Here the alt. media provide real competition, some of which may be enlightening. Yet much, probably most, comment in the alt. media is ill-informed, paranoid or outright insane -- proving that George H. W. Bush is a reptilian extra-terrestrial being one amusing example.

The questionable value of alt. media commentary is a common feature not only of the work of unknown bloggers, but of people who might be expected to make some sense. Former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray (CM), for example, whose blog caters to a bizarre collection of Communists, settler immigrants, Anglophobic racists, Muslim proselytizers and other oddities.

Among the oddities, was occasionally to be found the worthy Canspeccy attempting to engage with advocates of various bizarre ideas in the belief that it could be fruitful to attempt rational debate on the Internet. But I have now, it seems, been banned from commenting on, which is perhaps as well, since there are surely being better things to do with what remains of my one and only life.

However, inasmuch as I am inclined to devote time to scribbling on the Internet, offers a fascination source of nonsense for examination.

Here, for example, is Craig Murray writing today about the recent UK riots and, in general, on Britain's current social and economic difficulties.
... In both public and private organisations, the earnings differential between the highest and lowest paid should be limited by law to a factor of four, including the effect of all non-salary perks and benefits. ... Will Hutton has been promoting a factor of ten in the public sector – that is far too wide an equality gap.
My response to this, which failed to pass "moderation" was:
The first half dozen paragraphs of this post are excellent. Nicely written. Punchy. To the point.

But the rest is totally nuts.

"the earnings differential between the highest and lowest paid should be limited by law to a factor of four ..."


Exit the financial services industry, which accounts for 9.4% of Britain's GDP, produces a 25 billion pound annual trade surplus and pays a quarter of all corporate taxes.

For that matter, exit pretty well all relatively senior business people, professionals and civil servants, including ambassadors, for better paid opportunities abroad. Or will the Murrayite Socialist Republic have a wall around it like East Germany?

There are quite sensible and simple solutions to poverty and ignorance, but recreating a Soviet-style system in Britain is not one of them.

It is the widespread acceptance of the idea that all problems must be solved by a further expansion of a monstrous bureaucracy (which already consumes more than half the wealth of the country) that is destroying Britain.

But I suppose one last push by the Commies for total control of everything might be useful inasmuch as it will hasten the day of the counter-revolution.
To quote further, Murray wrote:
... [the] wish to promote worker partnership and cooperatives needs to be given concrete form by legislation forcing all companies to give truly significant – I am thinking around forty per cent – shareholdings to employees.
Oh, dear! exit all footloose corporations from the UK.

Then comes:
[If one] really wants to roll back the excesses of the last thirty years, then natural monopolies like the utilities companies and the railways need to be returned fully to public ownership. PFI should be discontinued and all PFI assets nationalised without compensation.
Oh dear! again. Murray, I suppose, is too young to remember what a crap state Britain's major industries were in the last time they were nationalized. I actually worked for one of them, The Central Electricity Generating Board, at their Research Centre on the Campus of the UK Atomic Energy Authority at Capenhurst in Chester -- next to the uranium enrichment plant.

In some ways, it was a great place to work. My colleagues were smart people. During the year that I spent there, I shared an office with a physicist and a chemist from whom I learned more useful science than during the three previous years I'd wasted in university obtaining a PhD.

The pay was good. Whether it exceeded four times the then average wage I am not sure, but my starting salary, at the age of 23, was twice that of a university assistant lecturer. And the conditions of work were excellent. When I traveled on business, a secretary obtained first-class rail tickets for me and arranged a taxi to take me to the station.

The thing was, though, that the entire project was absurd. Our objective? To find ways to increase the national demand for electricity.


But CM's economic vision extends even more widely.
There is of course much else, of which limiting banking transactions to the actual funding of purchase of property, goods and services, rather than gambling on future values of those things, is perhaps the most important.
Well, I suppose that's OK since the banking sector will pretty well have abandoned Britain due to the cap on incomes, so no new ex-migration of capital, technology or talent can be expected to come from this. And I suppose the Government could restore the Post Office's role as a savings bank. Probably a post office manager can still be had for less than four times the average wage.

But why not simply impose sensible controls on private credit creation and then allow the market to work within that framework? The banking industry worked well under post 1929-crash regulations until those regulations were idiotically or criminally repealed. The obvious thing is to restore those regulations. But to rely on a market mechanism operating within a sensible framework of laws, when you can impose government micro-management on every aspect of business activity is, I suppose, anathema to an advocate of Soviet-style Utopia.

Under CM's "radical reforms" the average wage will, incidentally, be much lower than now, not only because half of Britain's companies will have packed up and gone offshore driving the country into the deepest of economic depressions, but simply because by eliminating salaries more than four times the present average, the average will be greatly reduced.


  1. Alfred, Craig Murray is not the only person concerned about the performance of the City’s financial services sector – they have shown a remarkable capability for passing risk onto the taxpayer while keeping profits for themselves. As Wall Street Guru, Mr. John C. Bogle, put it in his recent book “Enough” – “The clients of banking firms have lost hundreds of billions of dollars in the risky debt obligations that the banks created … yet most investment banking executives continue to be paid at astonishingly high levels”. And he goes on to question the costs of raising money saying this – “The financial industry is not only the largest sector of our economy; it is also the only industry in which customers don’t come anywhere near getting what they pay for”. Fortune Magazine named Mr. Bogle as one of the 4 investment giants of the 20th century – so he knows what he is talking about.

    Regarding your comments on the Main Stream Media - of course the MSM is sometimes manipulated on certain stories, so that it can be difficult to separate propaganda from the truth. Britain’s MI6 intelligence agency has a specialized unit “I/OPS” just for this purpose. Indeed Mr. David Leigh of the Guardian wrote, “Journalists are being manipulated by the secret intelligence agencies”. The well-known London-publicist Max Clifford was quoted in another Guardian article as saying – “I censor things as well … for every story I break I stop a dozen”.

    It is not unreasonable to conclude that something has gone wrong professionally with large chunks of the financial services sector and of the MSM.

  2. Roderick, I don't disagree with anything you say.

    But I don't think Craig Murray's solution to the problem with irresponsible if not deeply corrupt bankers is the right one. If the banks are too big to fail, they should be broken up.

    There should never again be an occasion where the public are compelled to bail out some of the the richest and most irresponsible elements in society.

    But fixing the incomes of successful people at absurdly low (by international standards) rates solves no problem, it would simply destroy the market economy.

  3. And yes, there is something seriously wrong with the British media. For one thing, too much of it is controlled by Rupert Murdoch.

    Such media gigantism is the antithesis of a free press. The solution is the same as for the banks. The media should be broken up: One owner one outlet (orofice, would perhaps be a better term, in the case of pornographers such as Dirty Des (Richard Desmond of the Express, Asian Babes, the UK edition of Penthouse, etc. etc) and Poop Murdoch (Proprietor of the The Sunday Times, The God Channel, Xplicit XXX and Adult Nightly, etc., etc.)

  4. ALT Media beats MSM hands down . No contest .