Notes on the News

By Gwydion M. Williams

Trickle-Down – a Swindle

Who Needs the Multi-millionaires?

The World Shanghaied?

Russo-Ukrainians Forbidden Democracy?

Sweden and Italy, Overstrained Communities

Italy, Also Overstrained

Two Nice People, Unfit For Their Jobs


More Tory Failures

Turkish Inequality

Trickle-Down – a Swindle

President Biden recently denounced Trickle-Down.[A]  Then Liz Truss affirmed the idea: tax cutting and deregulation as the secret of wealth.

Cutting taxes for the very rich was just too blatant.  But other feed-the-rich policies remain in place.

And none of the legions of well-paid journalists and economists have looked at how the steady growth in Western wealth from the 1950s was actually altered by such policies.

You can find this from a 2004 reference work by the late Angus Maddison: The World Economy: Historical Statistics.  It is generally accepted as the best estimate.  And as far as I know, no one else has tried to see the big picture.

Perhaps because the big picture is unwelcome.  I’ve shown elsewhere that Mao’s China grew faster than either Britain or the USA.[B]  None of Mao’s critics offer alternative figures: they simply ignore the off-message facts.  Concentrate on three years of losses, and ignore 20 more of substantial gains.

For Western Europe, there was no clear gain from the pro-business and pro-rich policies of Thatcher and Reagan.  Pure capitalism would probably have lost the Cold War for the West.  It was the Keynesian or Mixed Economy system that won.[C]  

And it was only when the Soviet system lost strength and popularity in the 1970s that the rich started demanding more.

GDP Per Head1950 19601970198019902000
France5,271 7,54611,66415,18318,09320,808
United Kingdom6,939 8,64510,76712,93116,43019,817
USA9,561 11,32815,03018,57723,20128,129
Italy3,502 5,9169,71913,14916,31318,740
Germany3,881 7,70510,83914,11415,92918,596

Britain and the USA were being overtaken by their NATO allies.  These now show every sign of having been damaged by the 1980s changes.

This becomes even clearer if you look at the percentage gain each decade:

GDP % Increase Per DecadeTo 1960To 1970To 1980To 1990To 2000
United Kingdom24.624.520.127.120.6

It’s a picture of declining vigour.  And overall, Britain and the USA got no advantage beyond the selfish one of no longer being overtaken by their nearest neighbours.

And since inequality got worse, 90% of the population got less than they might have expected if the Keynesian system had been repaired rather than attacked. 

The Next Nine – people in the richest 10% but not the richest 1% – have not gained or lost much.

But the richest 1%, the more-than-millionaire class who now dominate, have gained enormously.

For them, it has been an economic miracle.  But not for anyone else.  For the majority, it has been an economic blight.

It would also be nice to know in detail how things have gone since 2001, when Maddison’s work stops.  Quite badly, I suspect, with the crisis of 2008.  Our newly militant Trade Unions should be funding a study.

Who Needs the Multi-millionaires?

Money not spent by public services does not go to ‘the people’.  Most of it goes to a few rich people: the more-than-millionaire elite.

Tax cuts are usually rigged to favour the rich.  But the latest changes are unusually gross:

“A budget for the 1%’: government accused of huge tax cut for super-wealthy…

“The combined package of measures announced in the mini-budget means that someone who currently makes £1m will gain £55,220 a year, while someone earning £20,000 will be just £157 better off, according to calculations by the Resolution Foundation.”[D]

Human society is an immensely complex system of interactions.  But it could manage fine, if some alien super-science removed every single millionaire. 

And if those multi-millionaires were given their own planet, with existing buildings and machines but no one to employ, they’d suffer a drastic decline in life-style.

Someone should use the idea for a television SF series, set in today’s Britain.

When humans began to settle down and plant crops, they found that they needed chieftains to run a society in which most people didn’t know each other.  But mostly chieftains take too much.

The Leninist alternative of ‘everyone a worker’ did better than most people now realise.  Both Stalin and Mao made their societies a lot richer, contrary to what current ‘experts’ imply, but never dare say as a direct falsehood.[E]  And it’s a sad fact that those growing up in such a system will often grab ‘chieftain’ privileges for themselves.  

It is bad everywhere, but Britain is now particularly bad:

“In a book in 2012 called Britannia Unchained, five Conservative MPs revived the argument. ‘Once they enter the workplace, the British are among the worst idlers in the world,’ the book says. ‘We work among the lowest hours, we retire early and our productivity is poor. Whereas Indian children aspire to be doctors or businessmen, the British are more interested in football and pop music.’

“Given that two of the book’s authors, Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng, are now the country’s prime minister and chancellor respectively, it is worth revisiting this characterisation of the workforce.”[F]

Since the article is from the Financial Times, which exists to tell unwelcome truths to rich business people, it is soft about showing that the claim was untrue.  But I showed earlier that the British economy did no better with Thatcherism than it had before.  It could seem otherwise, because the rest of Western Europe was not advancing as it once had.  There were no positive results for the economy as a whole.

Surprisingly, another Financial Times article did explain how bad inequality had got:

“For Norway, it’s a consistently rosy picture. The top 10 per cent rank second for living standards among the top deciles in all countries; the median Norwegian household ranks second among all national averages, and all the way down at the other end, Norway’s poorest 5 per cent are the most prosperous bottom 5 per cent in the world. Norway is a good place to live, whether you are rich or poor.

“Britain is a different story. While the top earners rank fifth, the average household ranks 12th and the poorest 5 per cent rank 15th. Far from simply losing touch with their western European peers, last year the lowest-earning bracket of British households had a standard of living that was 20 per cent weaker than their counterparts in Slovenia…

“In 2007, the average UK household was 8 per cent worse off than its peers in north-western Europe, but the deficit has since ballooned to a record 20 per cent.”[G]

The World Shanghaied?

China is the main threat to the hegemony of the elite leaders of Greater Western Europe / USA.  The greedy fools thought they could rule the world after the Soviet collapse.  And cheated their own people, as I detailed earlier.

Ordinary Britons and other Europeans should not be worried that a body called the Shanghai Cooperation Council grows in importance, as a counter to the NATO / G7 alignment.  

And now Turkey may join:

“Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has stated that he has discussed the possibility of abandoning Turkey’s candidacy of accession to the European Union in return for full membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.” [H]

They have been kept waiting as candidates for the European Union since 1999, while other countries get admitted.  Countries that are Christian, and classed as white by racists.  I wish it were otherwise,[I]but the chances that existed in the 1970s are gone.

This new loose association may be the world’s best hope.

Current members are China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.  Iran and Belarus are about to join.

Dialogue partners are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Egypt, Nepal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, and Turkey   Bahrain, Kuwait, Maldives, Myanmar, and UAE are about to join them.

Roughly the same as the countries who want the war in Ukraine to end with a compromise.

Russo-Ukrainians Forbidden Democracy?

The Soviet Union was always worried about losing Ukraine.  So they attached regions that would have probably gone to Russia, if West Ukraine had got independence.

I’ve explained in a recent blog that the USA has spent years encouraging extreme Ukrainian nationalism. A minority who look back with pride at men who spent parts of the war in alliance with Nazi Germany.[J]  Which was certain to alienate those who felt both Russian and Ukrainian.

Democratic Secession is the issue.  Few countries like it as a general principle.  Which gets reported as Russia’s global supporters turning away:

“Signs that some countries willing to tolerate Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are losing patience have emerged as Turkey, India and China responded coolly to the announcement that four Ukrainian regions occupied by Russia were planning referendums on joining the Russian Federation.

“Turkey, which has been at the centre of mediation between the west and Russia, issued a sharp rebuke, saying in a statement that it was concerned by attempts to stage unilateral referendums.”[K]

Turkey, India, and China all have minorities which include militant movements that seek independence.  And all have been accused of using torture to help suppress them, as indeed have almost all states facing violent separatists or rebels.  I see it as a single dismal pattern, even though the Western media are selective in what they want to make the public shocked about.  And the USA’s continuing use of torture makes it unlikely anyone else will drop it.

For Ukraine, confusion is being spread about the planned secession votes.  It is implied that these won’t be honest votes.  But also that they would be illegal regardless, which is not in fact a part of International Law.  

Secession has always been left ambiguous.  Mostly settled by violence.

Both the USA and the Republic of Ireland used violence to force the British Empire to let them go.  Does that cease to be relevant, because it was a long time ago?

India sent in its army to allow East Pakistan to become Bangladesh.  But has laws against even peaceful calls for secession from its own territory.  Holds half of Kashmir, and recently reduced its existing autonomy.

The USA crushed its own secession.  Slavery provoked the crisis, but the seceding states might have kept slavery if they’d been conquered sooner.  Lincoln waited till other methods failed before denouncing slavery and allowing African-Americans to join the fight.[L]

There are no fixed principles that get honoured in practice.

For Ukraine, just occasionally you find it admitted that many people born in the south and east now wish to separate:

“Ever since 2014, when Russia-backed separatists took control of Donetsk, one of the biggest cities in Ukraine, and declared it the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic,’ talk of joining Russia has come in waves. Many residents have left, but those who didn’t — many of them older people who had nowhere to go — knew that living in a republic that was recognized by only Russia, North Korea and Syria, and under constant shelling, was unsustainable. Views on whether the city should become part of Russia, however, varied widely. Some coveted Russian citizenship because they saw Russia as a stronger, richer country with better jobs and higher pensions. Others, like my aunt and uncle, who have lived in Donetsk their whole lives, wanted the region to go back to Ukraine.”[M]

The author says ‘Putin Will Get Whatever Result He Wants’.  But does not mention that in all four regions, anti-Orange parties or centrist parties got clear majorities in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2019.[N][O]

Sweden and Italy, Overstrained Communities

“Back in the 1980s, the ethnologist Ake Daun argued that the average Swede was extremely conformist and consensus oriented. He found that in neighbouring Scandinavian countries, 4-6% of people disliked the company of those whose ideas and values they did not themselves share. But in Sweden the figure was 45%.

“Since then, the main representatives of such ‘dreaded’ difference – immigrants and their descendants – have come to constitute a quarter of the population. But many ‘native’ Swedes do not typically mix with them – and flee their neighbourhoods if they move in. Then there is an unemployment rate among the foreign-born population of almost 20%. Sweden has also seen a surge in shootings and organised crime over the last year. The reasons behind the increase in crime are complex – class and social exclusion play an important role – but the result is a political and media debate that focuses on the supposed values or cultures of immigrants themselves.”[P]

Sweden is composed of Swedes who take a particular view of each other.  Adding too many strangers strained that view.

We can’t in fact let in whoever might wish to come.  Hundreds of millions would like to move to Europe or the USA.  The world’s rich countries could never accept it.

Real humans are not a slurry of units of The Individual, whatever the liberal-left imagine.  People need to find meaning as part of a social network that could last forever.  This can include complete outsiders, and benefit from them.  But only if the numbers are not too great.

Swedes believe in looking after other Swedes.  Letting in gigantic number of strangers was bound to spoil that.

Immigration policies have been the middle class indulging itself at the expense of the rest of the society.  Dishing out rewards to some of the world’s poor, while letting most of them suffer.

It was also a cheap solution for the rich elite.  Easier than helping the source countries with vast economic aid, paid for by higher taxes.  Or choosing to pay higher prices for the raw materials that most of the poor depend on.

Swedish socialism remains strong.  The Social Democrats actually recovered seats and votes from their mauling back in 2018.[Q]  30%, as against 20% for the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats.  But allies on the left lost votes.  A right-wing coalition is now expected.

Italy, Also Overstrained

“‘Times have changed’: Italian town once run by communists poised to vote far right

“Sesto San Giovanni in Milan, a key swing seat, has embraced Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy…

“The northernmost stop on Milan’s M1 metro line, far from the Duomo and La Scala, Sesto San Giovanni used to be a no-go zone for the right. Nicknamed ‘Stalingrad’, its roads and civic buildings still testify to the lost era when the local Communist party ran the area, backed by huge workforces employed in four metalwork factories…

“Apicella used to work as a mechanic at the giant Falck steelworks that once dominated Sesto’s skyline. In the 1990s, as local industry shut down, he voted hard left. On Sunday, he will vote for the rightwing coalition represented by Rauti. ‘The left has stopped representing the workers,’ said Apicella. ‘Before, there used to be two Milans, the Catholic one of the bosses and the middle classes, and the leftwing one of the workers. The second world has disintegrated. Politicians on the left allowed globalisation to destroy it. Make sure you put that in your paper.’…

“‘The sons and daughters of many of those old workers are more insecure, often in precarious jobs,’ says Camagni. ‘Or employed in call centres and in low-level white-collar jobs which are vulnerable to automation. The far right is profiting from a widespread sense of frustration, exploiting it to create a different, menacing kind of solidarity – one that unifies people against immigrants and other minorities.’”[R]

I assume the loss of regular industrial jobs is a big factor.

It is also a failure of the Identity Politics that much of the left has embraced from the 1970s.

Concern for oppressed minorities is fine, but Identity Politics typically leaves out the majority of the population.  People who are members of the same categories as the rich elite, but not rich and not elite.

It pushes social change too fast, fragmenting feelings of solidarity.  The two-to-one rejection of a new constitution in Chile is one example.

It is alienating other global cultures.[S]

Two Nice Dead People, Unfit For Their Jobs

Now they are decently buried, it is time to say that Gorbachev and Queen Elizabeth Windsor were both well-meaning fools.

Mikhail Gorbachev died on 30 August 2022, aged 91.  Britain’s monarch died on 8 September 2022, aged 96.

I’ve explained elsewhere why I despise Gorbachev.[T]  I now point out that the late Queen repeatedly failed to do good when she had the option.

In as far as she had a global mission, it failed.  It was imagined that a Commonwealth expanded from the mostly-white settler colonies would remain a serious force, just as the European Union has become.  But what actually happened was that the mostly-white settler colonies moved away, while the rest never saw it as very important.

At home, she failed her daughter-in-law Diana, who had walked into a bad marriage that many other women had been wise enough to avoid.  No one within the royal family tried to help her, it seems.  And outsiders didn’t then know that Charles had been prevented from having the woman he’d wanted.[U]  Part of the same silly notion of Royal Purity that also messed up the Queen’s sister Margaret.

We are told that Queen Elizabeth could give sensible advice to Prime Ministers.  But I assume someone briefed her.

Her son probably won’t listen, and has already blundered:

“King Charles’s staff given redundancy notice during church service for Queen”.[V]

He takes after his father – an arrogant rich man with no idea how much he damages his status.

One last point.  People waited for absurd amounts of time to view her coffin.  But why a physical queue?  Why not give everyone a ticket, and let them know when they were within an hour of getting in?

Maybe they wanted to maximise the respect shown.  But it does not improve my view of either their cleverness or their concern for ordinary people.


More Tory Failures

“Generation Z faces a brutal truth. Finding a decent home will be a lifelong struggle”.[W]

When councils were still allowed to build council houses, few were homeless.  And those who wanted their own house could mostly afford it.

The promise of a ‘property-owning democracy’ proved false.

The whole country is going downhill:

“Liz Truss allowed farmers to pollute England’s rivers after ‘slashing red tape’, say campaigners

“Agricultural waste outstrips sewage as the main danger – and activists blame the ex-environment secretary’s cuts to farm inspections.”[X]


Turkish Inequality

“Children as young as nine are working in plastic waste recycling centres in Turkey, putting them at risk of serious and lifelong health conditions, according to Human Rights Watch.

“Workers including children, and people living in homes located ‘dangerously close’ to the centres, told researchers they were suffering from respiratory problems, severe headaches and skin ailments.

“In a new report, HRW accuses the Turkish government of exacerbating the health and environmental impact on the workers by failing to enforce laws that require strict licensing and regular inspections of recycling centres.”[Y]


Old newsnotes at the magazine websites.  I also write regular blogs –






[F] (pay site)

[G] (pay site) 



















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