We Are What We Steal

In The Hot Tub Under The Lantern

Did you ever play Monopoly? Do you remember winning? An embarrassment of riches. Did you ever cheat? Letting your friends stay at your hotel on Park Lane for free because you wanted the game to go on? The thrill of being benevolent, philanthropic?

Did you enjoy forcing your enemies off the board. Did you learn about risk, acquisition, luxury?

Whenever I won the game of Monopoly I felt badly. It gave me no pleasure bankrupting my friends.

The game ends when one player takes total control of the bank and the board.

We are witnessing in the USA the end game. A few men and women who have won over all the rest. They have trillions of dollars. Some have acquired this cash from (amongst other things) war profiteering. From private prisons. From bloated healthcare costs. From gouging oil, gas and utilities. Stealing directly from the people.

The rich pay for laws to protect their interests, the rich consider the rest of us expendable.

Their riches and how they acquired them have not gone unnoticed.

In London, the people know something is up with the system. They couldn’t articulate what is wrong…because we have deliberately kept these people stupid. They just needed an excuse to act upon their frustration.

They have an inkling that they might be able to throw the Monopoly board in the air. Fuck the winner. I’m taking mine.

The rich have some serious thinking to do.

It is all very well to take all the money but what use is it when the cities are burning?

The rich must surely know that their ‘hard work’ and ‘good fortune’ without paying fair taxes is destroying their country…perhaps the world. It has not gone unnoticed. For that is the way of humanity. The people wake up and disparity is challenged.

British Prime Minister David Cameron sounds like he has a handle on the British riots.

Cameron said: “In the banking crisis, with MPs’ expenses, in the phone-hacking scandal, we have seen some of the worst cases of greed, irresponsibility and entitlement. The restoration of responsibility has to cut right across our society.”

The leader of the opposition agrees!

At last. An intelligent, cross party reaction to the shopping with violence that devastated London and other British cities.

Times they are a changing.

Solution is hard. What can any government do to put the pieces of society back together when it seems irreparable? Blame is frankly irresponsible, context is key.

Is it impossible to teach young people how to respect the established order when the established order is revealed to be corrupt? Respect cannot be forced upon our youth. As much as this breaks my heart to write: we must listen to those thugs and vandals.

Now, I am not interested in sitting down with a bunch of dim-witted, inarticulate youths. They have nothing to say that will teach me anything. Their actions, however, must be respected and understood.

There is no boot camp, army training, national service, prison that will change these young men and women. We have created monsters. We have given them false hope, rancid dreams, easy money.

They do not aspire to anything more than gadgets and fancy trainers.

Their limited aspirations are shocking to someone like me. Gadgets and trainers. Good God.

When Bagdad was sacked the youth took really valuable antiquities from the museums. They seemed to understand the value of their culture. Perhaps we are what we steal?

Rampaging through a city, stealing, breaking and screaming….takes a certain amount of guts. Physically challenging an army of police officers. Their actions must be understood.

We will never return to a time when young people respected their elders, the establishment, society and themselves. That time never existed. Young people have always and quite rightly challenged the status quo.

I’m glad Cameron mentioned the banks. Nobody would do that here.

The more I dwell upon the bank bailouts in the USA the more I realize just how catastrophic it was for the American People. Cauterizing the banking crisis with huge amounts of cash rather than letting those institutions fail has proved very problematic. It confused the message of capitalism. It undermined capitalist principles and laid bare the lies of successive US governments.

Mostly it disheartened those of us who understand that change is imperative for growth.

If the banks had been allowed to fail a new order would be established. A power shift. Other men would hold the reins. New ideas would have flourished. Capitalism would have sorted it out all on its own. Where there is weakness others come to make good. New opportunities revealed for the brave. The next generation of fearless entrepreneurs would have made themselves known.

By bailing out the banks we merely hold on to what we know rather than doing what humans are best at…striking into the unknown.

Does the USA deserve it’s AAA credit rating? Does it matter? I heard many times that Americans, after losing their AAA rating..had their self-esteem knocked.

America’s self-esteem exists in a putrid vat of delusion and self aggrandisement.

I am told over and over again that the US economy is the largest in the world. That may be true but somehow the people have become confused. They tell me that their police, fire department, health system etc. is the best in the world. We are the best at everything. We are the champions of the world. My army keeps you free.

I keep my mouth shut.

It is obvious to those of us who have lived in many different countries that this simply is not true.

I often tell the gays in this blog to get off their asses and break some windows if they want to see change in their country. I am scolded for doing so. Government is petrified of insurrection, rebellion, people on the streets.

David Cameron and the leader of the opposition have impressed me with their willingness to understand what is happening in Britain. Commentators, baffled by the violence, murder and mayhem are trying to work it out. It just didn’t make any sense. Now it is.

The British, like the French are good at letting their frustrations boil over onto the streets. It is part of the fabric of our lives. It sends messages, good and bad, to everyone who complacently enjoys a peaceful life. That peaceful life cannot be taken for granted. Peace, harmony, respect, order…they are earned together.

Together we create society so together we must find solution if we are to keep what we value.

P.S. Yesterday the beautiful deaf boy came to the house and came over my chest.

Dinner at AXE on Abbot Kinney.

So happy that it reopened after the fire that took it out a year ago. Great food, lovely people, delightfully limited menu. We ate goat stew. We ate delicious flat bread. We ate home-grown tomatoes and burrata.

Party at Gabe’s. Sat by the fire talking to a beautiful surfer with long blond hair and thick thighs.

Finally, this beautiful army man blew his brains out because he thought no God would ever forgive what he had done to others in Iraq. Very sad.


London Rebellion

There is something very heartening about the British reaction to what can only be described, but is rarely described, as an insurrection.
What of it?  This insurrection?  Who understands it?
Look at what The British have experienced recently:  A corrupt government in league with corrupt media billionaires who in turn corrupt the police and the establishment.
Nothing can be trusted.
Phone hacking and police bribes may be more the cause of this rebellion than the death of a black cabbie.
The mess at the top sends a distinct message to those at the bottom that society is rotten.
I heard a young white British girl telling a reporter in Birmingham that she ‘hated the police’ because they did not ‘respect’ her.
“Why should I respect them, they don’t respect me?”  She sneered.
Why indeed?  She may have nothing that you or I think worth respecting.  But she lives in a country where her government and the police are known thieves and liars.  Where bankers have looted the system, bankrupted the country and she is being asked to pay.  To tighten her belt.
She feels disrespected.  She has a point.
Of course, it takes an old white man to say what that young, female heathen could never articulate.
Like many young, white people she is not eager to get on her knees and scrub floors, look after the smelly elderly, drive a bus.  She wants the Simon Cowell dream of instant riches.  A hidden talent that may earn her legitimacy.
She wants to win the lottery so she can be more like the Beckhams.  She wants to be Catherine Middleton and marry into a powerful family that is paid by the state to do nothing.
She has forgotten just how lucky she is because she wants stuff more than an attitude of gratitude.
The streets are teaming by night with angry black and asian men threatening the police with sticks.  By day the same streets are being swept by jolly middle-aged white women wanting to restore order.
Today my friends on Facebook are finding humor where there is no obvious answer.
At the Michelin awarded restaurant The Ledbury in Notting Hill Gate the rich cowered in the wine cellar as the looters came, stealing their money and their jewelery.   The looting continued on Sloane Square.  They rampaged over the thick carpet in Prada and Burberry, places that they could never hope to afford, leaving mannequins on the pavement like broken people.
What of this rebellion?  How could it be?  Why in London?  Why in Britain?
This is not a racially motivated rebellion.  This is about greed.  Taking what we want when we want it.  Instant gratification.  It has no focus other than greed.  These people have no political agenda.  The are not trying to wrest control of government.
This is a rebellion.  A refusal of obedience and order.   It may evolve into a mass non-violent resistance, it may attempt to destroy an established authority such as a government…but it wont.
“I can’t afford it, I will take it.”  It is the scourge of capitalism.   The ‘haves’ must prepare to either give a little or lose the lot.  The ‘have nots’ are beginning to find out how powerful they are…armed with clubs and their Blackberry.
Don’t be complacent America.  This will happen here too.  Sooner or later the desperately poor will take back their power and you will see what I have been suggesting since the beginning of the banking crisis:  the people will speak.   They will not be polite.
The difference here will be that any rebellion will be bloodier than our tame British street brawls.   It will be more like Syria.  Many dead.
Insurrection is as much a part of civilised society as the peace that reigns between.   The ruling class have had it easy.  They have looted from the poor and now the disenfranchised will have their say.
98% of the wealth owned by 5% of the people.   Seeing images of the British on their streets stealing what they cannot afford may inspire Americans to do the same.
In Britain the police were woefully unprepared, armed or organized to protect what we consider important.  The British police scarcely lifted a finger as the people came and took what they wanted.
The enemy for The British and The Americans are not in caves in Afghanistan they are in the trailer homes, homeless shelters and squalid broken cities like Cleveland and Detroit.
They are the casualties of a class war waged upon them by the rich.   They will tell us eventually, the poor, this simple fact:  We can’t earn it…we’ll take it.  When they come they will take what they want and they will not take hostages.  Not here.  They will come into our shops and our restaurants, our homes and our cars.
They will come because they are desperate and we do not respect them.