Ideas

Uber and the Power of Imagined Futures

The Uber flotation and the power of imagined futures Entrepreneurial TV shows like The Apprentice and Dragon’s Den are littered with awful clichés. These apparent statements of common sense float about, ready to be called into action to rebuke those who don’t show quite enough acumen. One of those clichés, “revenues are vanity, profit is sanity”, came to mind with the news…

Worker Ownership: Taking Back Control

Office workers, 2014. Trollbackco / Wikimedia

One of the most depressing constants in industrial life in the UK is the life cycle of the average British business. They are frequently born from the minds of one of the country’s exceptionally well-educated workforce in the high-value manufacturing or software sector, before being built up through the efforts of skilled employees. Sadly, their contribution to the economy is often then hijacked by large, usually overseas, investment firms and conglomerates buying the business. At best, the decisions that affect hundreds of workers and the economies of whole towns are now taken in boardrooms in New York or Shanghai. At worst, the company is asset-stripped for its patents, techniques and talent before being wound up. In between this runs the spectrum of profit relocation (or tax evasion as normal people call it), layoffs, the imposition of hostile working practices and decline of quality. Even the largest and most successful of British businesses aren’t immune to this. When Cadbury’s was taken over by Kraft, the entire board resigned and their replacements subsequently shuttered dozens of factories across the world in a cost-cutting exercise. ARM Holdings, who make the microprocessors found in almost every mobile phone, were taken over by Japan’s SoftBank and then saw their Chinese arm sold to fuel Xi Jinping’s government’s strategy of acquiring foreign technology firms to jump-start China’s indigenous high-tech industry.

Abolish Landlords

I spend a lot of time talking with my mum. Sometimes when I’m at the tills, our conversations spin around in my head, oftentimes out of sheer bewilderment, but there’s a modest kind of genius that can only come from parental discourse in your mid twenties. About two months ago, during one such conversation, she made a bold statement – so bold,…

The Intergenerational Game

Intergenerational Justice – Necessary and Difficult. Social democracy is, and always has been, a struggle to give a voice to the voiceless: not speaking for people but giving them a platform to speak. For most inequalities, it is easier to give the marginalised group a seat at the table to advocate their own interests. There is a considerable distance left to go,…

Back to the Statist Quo

The British state has been starved since 2010: methodically and deliberately. We were told that this was because the crash of 2008 devastated public finances. By now, it is clear this was merely an excuse to justify the ideologically-driven austerity agenda of George Osborne, who hacked away at the state with almost pathological zeal. The damage his actions have done to our…

For A Four Day Week

Every week, across the country, millions of Wine O’Clock Aunts will put up their weekly “Friday feeling” Facebook statuses. These posts will express their feelings of anticipation for  the impending prospect of their long awaited weekend plans. Similarly, in volume three of Capital, Marx argued that “the realm of freedom” begins only when work, or “the realm of necessity”, ceases. Both Marx…

The Joy of Tax

Ed Balls has written about how, during one campaign, Tony Blair had suggested to Gordon Brown that the party made a vow not to raise taxes. Balls, ever the problematic stepchild in that political marriage, countered that they could not make that promise, as they were bound to break it later when they raised taxes. Blair, of course, reacted with horror. It’s…