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The Sad Song Co: Blog

Nigel Powell: Attack the Blog!


Left, right, left, right, present arms

Sunday 24th March, 2013

I'm writing this from Shanghai in China, my first visit to this country. I'm not going to give you my impressions. I'm not Michael Palin, nor indeed Bill Bryson (although I can recommend all of Mr. Bryson's travel books as some of the most amusing writing I've ever had the pleasure of embarrassingly snorting on the bus at), but being in this country has certainly focussed my thoughts on a particular area of life that I try and avoid for the most part. A delicate area.



The view from where I'm typing

The view from where I'm typing

For a long time now I have downplayed my political thinking, for a number of reasons certainly but not least of those is that I have been in professional situations with people whom I know hold very differing views to mine. And for anyone reading this, nodding sagely and thinking they know the ins and outs of what I'm talking about, you probably don't. Certainly not in its entirety, and unequivocally without sufficient context to really have a handle on anything.

Goodness, did that last bit seem a little defensive? It did? Then maybe I should explain, even though it will mean a red herring before I've even begun blogging about what I was intending.

So those sage nodders are probably thinking about an incident involving someone I work with not too many months ago, a storm in a twitter-cup about viewpoints and opinions and personal beliefs. Now, this unnamed person is one of those who I referred to earlier with whom I have a, shall we say, non-chiming point of political view. But FAR more important that that is that he is a friend and a top-notch guy. I can disagree with him because I know him well, I have discussed these things in-depth with him, I understand the nuance and the breadth and depth and quiddity of what he believes. Some internet twat thinking they have the most miniscule iota of a right to slag him off based on slender, distorted and incomplete information makes my blood boil. Believe me that I have almost infinitely more loyalty to friendship than I do to any ideology.

But maybe this isn't a red herring. If you want to pigeon hole me (feel free), this is where I stand. I believe in meritocracy, but I believe equally as strongly in equality of opportunity. I believe most strongly that every child - EVERY child - should, to the best of society's ability, be given the same opportunities and environment that would allow them to suceed, through talent and hard work, or the very idea of a meritocracy is thoroughly bogus.



Definitely not a communist

Definitely not a communist

It was not always thus. I used to be much more left leaning, believing in absolute equality between people (yes, communism). My only holdover from this is a vehement belief in the utter failure of the free market to correctly value people. A venal shithead like Donald Trump is worth hundreds of times more to the world than a nurse or primary school teacher1? Surely an exact inverse of the the case?

But outside of that I now know that my previous ideal of socialist 'fairness' like that does not exist. The shiftless and the slothful should not be rewarded as highly as the industrious and motivated.

But suddenly I'm going to abandon ship on this blog. It's dull. It's just my opinion. I like my opinion, and I'm happy with it, and I base decisions and attitudes on it without doubt or embarrassment. But I don't feel the need to convert or espouse or evangelise. I will leave you with the one tenet of my beliefs which I believe is well worth flagging. Always always remember than government is your tool. You are in charge of it, never ever the other way around. If you had a business and were part of, say, a board of directors who together, democratically, chose someone to manage your company. You pay them from the income of the company, money that otherwise could go to you, and you give them a budget to make sure the company is run well. Certainly you give them responsibility and leeway and domain, otherwise they cannot do their job. But always and throughout they remain your employee. If you want to protect your investment you keep an eye on them and make sure they are not running your company into the ground, or doing this with it that don't meet your approval.

David Cameron is your employee. Claim ownership of your country. They are not in charge. They are merely skilled (sometimes...) caretakers.


Analisa, Mon 1st April 2013, 10:09:47 PM
Once again, minutes very well spent reading your blog! I completely agree with your closing comments about keeping an eye on your government--while there are a lot of situations in the world that sometimes seem hopeless, it's even more depressing when people seem to have resigned themselves to the idea that they have no say in the matters of their government, which for those of us fortunate to live in countries where public dissent won't see us automatically thrown in jail, is absolute nonsense. To paraphrase Margaret Mead, what else CAN bring about change other than a group of committed citizens? Our governments will get away with as much as we allow them to. On another note, as a teacher in one of the most underresourced communities in California, deep thanks for the lines, "I believe most strongly that every child - EVERY child - should, to the best of society's ability, be given the same opportunities and environment that would allow them to suceed, through talent and hard work, or the very idea of a meritocracy is thoroughly bogus." Sometimes I just wish the clueless members of the middle and upper classes (i.e. many of them) could see the challenges my pupils face daily, sometimes even in getting to school. I could write volumes on the things taken for granted by more affluent people about the American public school experience, but instead I'll steal some lines again, this time from the band Dead to Me: "We'd watch the laws all quickly change/The day the rich kids are treated the same." I don't advocate making excuses and "lowering the bar" for students in communities like South Central LA, but I certainly do my best to help level the playing field, as do many of my colleagues. Looking forward to the next blog...
 
Mia, Wed 27th March 2013, 04:30:57 AM
It wasn't too long ago that I have very communist ideals when it came to government. I think that it was a reaction to how poor my family was when I was growing up. But then again, I believed in anarchy once as well. Now my politics are definitely libertarian, which agrees better with my conservative family. I've become more involved in the whole political thing here in the USA, and have learned more about how it works by participating than I learned in school. I work as a support staffer at a junior college and the us vs them mentality of the faculty is mind boggling.

I'm a politics nerd, so I love reading about other people's views. I think that more people should be open to what others think. I like your blog. I like reading what your thoughts are.
 
Ben, Wed 27th March 2013, 02:17:48 AM
Sorry for my feeling the need to comment on every blog post but they're truly interesting reads and you seem to hit a lot of nails on heads. I'm a Brit living in the US (we've met a couple of times in Boston when you were kind enough to chat after a show) and I've always been baffled by the Them/Us view when it comes to government. Without harping too much on it I wish more people would realise that these people are public servants and can be held accountable. It's more challenging in the US because the detachment of politicians from the general populace is so pronounced but in the UK I always felt that differences could always made by simply going round the buggers house, more to the point that government seemed more accessible, And then you have Prime Ministers question time in which the PM has to publicly defend his policies. Not to mention that it's pretty entertaining.......
ben, Wed 27th March 2013
Oops, refreshed the page and it re-submitted my post. Go figure.
 
 
Ben, Wed 27th March 2013, 02:05:20 AM
Sorry for my feeling the need to comment on every blog post but they're truly interesting reads and you seem to hit a lot of nails on heads. I'm a Brit living in the US (we've met a couple of times in Boston when you were kind enough to chat after a show) and I've always been baffled by the Them/Us view when it comes to government. Without harping too much on it I wish more people would realise that these people are public servants and can be held accountable. It's more challenging in the US because the detachment of politicians from the general populace is so pronounced but in the UK I always felt that differences could always made by simply going round the buggers house, more to the point that government seemed more accessible, And then you have Prime Ministers question time in which the PM has to publicly defend his policies. Not to mention that it's pretty entertaining.......
 
Nigel, Sun 24th March 2013, 03:40:01 AM
And I have no idea why that picture of Shanghai is upside down. But then I am on the other side of the world to usual, so maybe that's it.
 

Footnotes:

  1. In a capitalist world the worth of a person is unequivocally measured financially

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