Thursday, 7 May 2015



The IPCC will meet in Paris during the year, 2015.. It is anticipated that the findings will be rigorous and lead to major policy proposals
However, what is clear is that any proposals for the reduction or even elimination of  greenhouse gas emissions must be substantial. . If the proposals indicate ‘business as usual’ the levels of emissions will increase, and global warming will initiate more violent climate events.
The key points of AR5 are as follows:

1.The most recent assessment report has presented evidence that establishes
that human influence on climate systems is clear: it is a fact, not a fantasy
2.Emissions of greenhouse gases, e.g Carbon Dioxide, Nitrous oxide, methane are at their highest levels ever.
3. The temperatures of the atmosphere and the oceans have increased. . The cover and volume of snow and ice has diminished. Sea levels continue to rise.Given that most of the world’s population occupy deltas, coastal lands, and river valleys, they will become more prone to floods.
4. The latest figures show that the period between 1983 and 2012 have been the warmest for 1400 years; since the 7th century.
5. The lower atmosphere, and the upper waters of oceans, are subject to patterns of warming. And of course they will effect each other.
6. The warming is caused by the increases of greenhouse gas emissions; the concentrations of carbon dioxide;methane, and nitrous oxide, as driven by economic growth, and population increases. The gases have the effect  of absorbing the energy of the sun in the atmosphere, causing it to raise  temperatures.
7.The evidence reveals that changes in climate have occurred on all continents and oceans with more heat waves, floods,wildfires, droughts; cyclones, tornados
8. it is predicted that surface temperatures will rise during the 21st.Century.There will be more heat waves. The oceans will warm and acidify. Global sea levels will rise.
9.The IPCC declared that climate change is a threat to sustainable development. because the rising temperatures, and increased rainfall, or droughts  can lead to extinction of species, animal and vegetable.  We have to confront the facts that human action can destroy the world  as we know it at the moment.
10. The IPCC observed that these climatic events will have dire consequences for the poor communities, who will not have the resources to protect themselves from disaster. Richer communities will have the wealth to organise their local environments for protection.
11. The AR5, Assessment Report, made it clear that  if climate change; and  global warming is to stop, greenhouse gas emissions must reduce, or stop. If governments make no concerted attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, then, climate change will continue. Extreme weather events will become more widespread and human settlements subject to disruption
12 The IPCC establishes that while it is true that climate changes have occurred  throughout time. The changes were natural, e.g. following volcanic activity; were slow, and took millions of complete.
At the present time the emission of greenhouse gases are the results of human action over decades, not millennia.
13. At the same time, some commentators continue to argue against the evidence for global warming, claiming that it has been fabricated by the scientists and the media and politicians.who wish to influence political decisions They want to deny the impacts of human action and declare  economic business as usual, and wish to promote the exploitation of resources.
To continue with business as usual, and extend the exploitation of resources, is certain to raise the average global temperature by 2C at least.
Global warming will continue as long as humans pursue an  industrial economy,emitting billions of tonnes of gas particles into the atmosphere. ‘Business as usual’ is not an option.

Examples of weather changes and climate change have been witnessed developing over the last ten years.
First, the occurrence of drought across California, leading to rigid water controls and the creation of deserts.
Second, the increasing precipitation, storms, flooding in the Balkans [Serbia, Croatia, Czech,Albania,Romania].
Third. ice melt in the Arctic, and the weakening of the Gulf Stream in the Northern Atlantic.
Fourth the massive increase in the numbers and intensity  of cyclones and tornadoes in the Philippines.

Fifth, the evidence that Australia is getting hotter, and the fire season covers more months in the year.

Saturday, 25 April 2015


as sponsored by the World Bank []

It seems that all is not well in the world of International Development.
I have just completed reading the latest World Development Report 2015:. Mind, Society. Behaviour.
This report does not focus on the injustice of inequality and the need for the redistribution of
wealth .  It is much more concerned to create a development psychology: Looking at the attitudes and mental models and mindsets of poor communities in order to explain their poverty. In fact, the 236 pages of the Report make it clear that the World Bank staff tend to blame the poor for their lack of opportunities and faulty decision making. Although it did admit that the decisions about loans and aid and projects were made by people who had little experience of; and limited sympathy for, the world poor. The report acknowledged  that one of the prime purposes of the World Bank was to look after the development of poor communities across the world.

However. the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists [] revealed that it had been involved in describing and analysing the World Bank projects in many countries across the world. Their investigators revealed that many World Bank projects have harmed many poor and vulnerable individuals.
Projects that had involved the construction of dams, the building of villages,as well as  new suburbs, new hospitals, conservation of forests, the creation of factories; all of which were worthy endeavours had resulted in the misplacement of 3.4 million people in Albania, Brazil,Ethiopia, Honduras, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Kosovo, Nigeria, Peru.Serbia,
South Sudan, Uganda.
In April 2015 the ICIJ went further:
describing how a resettlement project  in Ethiopia involved enforced beatings, rape, and murder. Many families did not want to be displaced and resettled and so had to be forced... A similar project in Kenya led to homes being burnt down. In Badia East in Lagos, Nigeria, a  suburb was flattened to the ground. In Peru, as part of an agricultural project the land was poisoned as a result of the widespread use of pesticides.
World Bank funding has resulted in the destruction  of undeveloped countries, and the exploitation of many poor communities.
Recent Reports by Oxfam, and the World Economic Forum, along with the Huffington Post, and the Forbes Fortunes,   declared that out of 7.3 billion people,  85 controlled more wealth than  3.5 billion. 1654 billionaires had more wealth than 7.2 billion people. The World Bank must recognise that in order to protect the interests and opportunities of the poor, they must move with the support of the UN, the IMF in the redistribution of wealth. The majority of the 7.3 billion people are poor. The norm in our capitalist world is ‘ poverty’.
We do not want a development psychology, we want a global society in which all people are paid a fair days wage for a days work; and a World Bank that provides aid for the poorest communities.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

EDUCATION:: What is learnt? What is taught?

Who is in charge?
2015 marks a period of protest/riot/occupation in many universities across the world. The students and staff are calling for more democracy in the operation of higher education.
I want to consider the nature of education, and the misconceptions that inform our thinking about education.

For many people,  education, teaching, schooling, learning,  are synonymous. This is not true.
It is true that  Systems of Education operate across the globe in all countries.
Children of 3 to 5 years old  can be found in pre-school nurseries, singing rhymes, listening to music, dancing, speaking:  getting ready for entry into the primary school. Secondary schools teach pupils subjects and skills from reading to numeracy; literacy; and science; maths; sports; religion,  history; geography; and so on. They are prepared for further and higher education.
These systems are provided and funded by governments; or foundation Trusts;  or  by religious sects including  catholics; muslims; hindus; sikhs; Orthodox Christians; protestants such as Anglicans; Methodists; Puritan; and so on.. The organisations that support and sponsor  educational  provision are determined to control what is taught; to train the teachers; and offer specific approved curricula.
The parents of the children and the students or the  scholars may choose the school or college, or university  but they rarely choose the curricula, what is to be taught. Nor are they qualified to do so. At this point we have to analyse the concept of ‘education’.
What is taught? will vary from system to system, and be moderated by the providers. Governments will design a ‘national curriculum’. Different religious schools  will insist on the place of religious studies in the overall curricula. Of course, there will be disputes and discourse about the nature of religious truths, as well as empirical truths.

We will have to confront a key issue:
what is taught is not necessarily what is learnt? Even in the same classroom, what is learnt by some, is not the same as all. But many parents as well as the sponsors of education, such as government agents and inspectors, or teams of priests, all  want there to be a direct correlation between what is taught and what is learnt. They also want to be able to test and measure and grade the quality of the learning and teaching.and the standards of schools and colleges.
It is important to realise that in any system of education across the globe, the providers  assume that what is taught,  is what is learnt. They do not want to pay for a system in which the pupils learn nothing. These systems of education are more concerned with  teaching  the pupils a prescribed body of knowledge.. The interests and preferences of the pupils are not  considered relevant.The pupils and students must do as they are told. They are to be ‘schooled’ and knowledge transmitted, by rote, and tested.
The providers do  not think it is  helpful for educational researchers nor teachers  to reveal that pupils and students must be actively  involved, and  interested in what is taught, so as to be able to learn new knowledge. Researchers propose that what is learnt is linked to  the involvement  of the learners in what is taught.  
For example, Illich and Friere, as well as Bruner and Dewey warn that organisations may talk about educational and economic liberation but they mean State control, and prescription of what is to be learned, and any  freedom to learn comes through conformity to national standards. Part of their radical critique of state education is that it places education in an institution where it can be controlled and rationed. It seems that ‘neo-liberal education’ is not new. The demands to control/ration/ prescribe/transmit/for obedience/schooling/ pupils and students have always been there
Another key issue: If  ‘learning’ is not necessarily connected to ‘’schooling’, and learners are active, involved in discovery of  their home environments, by research; and work in teams so as  to learn, to study, to collaborate, to cooperate, to solve problems,  then it is possible to think that education can take place in the home, the field, the street corner, the village hall so that knowledge can be used to understand their  living environment, and their social context.

The Friereian model of education is rooted in the notion of educational liberation,  in opposition to  schooling and transmission of prescribed knowledge. In a Freireian classroom, students act as subjects in the creation of a democratic society. They learn to critically examine the social construction of society.  Ivan Illich  asserted that education takes place in living spaces,  whereby we are all pursuing a life of action, so as to practise a  lifestyle of creative intercourse between all persons and their environments. He wanted to de-school society, and did not identify 'learning' with 'schooling'. In fact he saw the reverse.By being forced to go to school, the pupil is thereby schooled; the pupil confuses teaching with learning; grade advancement with education; a diploma with competence; and fluency with the ability to say something new.
According to Bruner,learning is an active process in which learners construct new ideas or concepts based upon their current/past knowledge. The learner selects and transforms information; constructs hypotheses; and makes decisions. Bruner  presented the significant elements of education:
Education as learning;
Education as Dialogue;
Education as problem solving;
Education as negotiated curriculum;
Education as Liberation;
Education as Virtual Learning;
Education as Green Living.

It is clear that while the funders of  education  focus their attention on what is taught in the curricula,  the researchers and teachers are much more interested in the processes of  learning.
What is taught may not be what is learnt.
What is learnt  depends upon the development of  more open interactive, cooperative, collaborative learning processes  between the teachers and the learners as identified by Bruner and others.

[go to A Discourse: Social Eology/ Education]

Saturday, 21 February 2015



In the light of the negotiations between Greece and the EuroGroup, it is time to discuss some of the implications for money creation.

There are two forms of ‘money’.
First, ‘cash’,  which is printed and minted by governments.
In January 2015 it was calculated that the total global cash in circulation  was  
$1.39 trillion, which is 3% of the total ‘money in use.

For a long time, Governments and their Central Banks have been allowed by law to create money as cash [coins and notes]. For some reason, this is called  QE today: quantitive easing. They distribute cash  to local banks. The value of  the cash  is  measured  in terms of the amounts in circulation [e.g. too much/inflation; too little/deflation].  In this way governments  control the supply of  ‘cash’, and the value of the currency.
No-one else is allowed to print money nor mint coins.Those who do so  are prosecuted  for forgery and  imprisoned. Today, the 3% cash in circulation  is to be found in our wallets and purses; even in the mattress : in ATMs, pay packets, and shops. Banks do promise to pay cash to us on demand via an ATM or cash clerk.
Your local bank will ask the Central Bank for cash by daily/weekly payments. The Central Bank will authorise the creation of notes, and coins.The amount of money as cash in circulation varies from country to country.
Another key source of cash is Gross  Domestic Product: the income from sale of products by trading All countries are involved in manufacturing or  farming, trading products,  buying and selling and generating profit. They depend upon their GDP to provide the cash to pay their debts, as well as to create surpluses with which to pay for government and corporate projects. January 2015 the World Bank/CIA reports that $75.6 trillion is the global GDP.

Second, there is ‘digital’ money which is created out of nothing by  loans from banks/mortgages/building societies/insurance groups/savings and loan companies..  Today, of  all the monies available to bankers and fund managers,97% is digital/virtual; 3% cash/coins/notes.
The  ‘numbers’  traded every day on  the markets are many trillions in loans/in commodities/ currency exchange/ stock market dealings/ derivatives/ credit default swaps. It is estimated that more than $700 trillion is traded. every day as digital money. This may be a
$ quadrillion on some days.

During the 1980’s many banks across the world became deregulated, and  devised methods to create new money. Today, financial enterprises operate Fractional Reserve Banking which literally means that bank deposits need only be a fraction of the monies lent to customers.For example, a  cash deposit of $1000 can be ‘leveraged’ or multiplied by 100 to generate a loan of  $100,000, and the loan deposit of 100,000 converted into $1,000,000; to form the basis of a total loan of $100,000,000!
Fractional Reserve Banking enables corporations/companies/governments  to borrow millions  to finance their major projects. The loan creates new money out of nothing. The debt is a contract to repay the loan money over a specific number of years.

Fractional Reserve Banking is at the core of modern capitalism,  and acts as the driver  for profit and growth. It enables banks to create digital money out of nothing.  It enables banks to create ‘money’, free of the constraints of the Central Bank. Digital money does not depend upon the cash deposits in banks. Digital money can be manipulated, created, and  transferred at the press of a  keyboard. Creditors and debtors/ customers, assume that this virtual money,  will convert into cash.when required These assumptions lead banks to charge fees as if the numbers were cash.  Fractional Reserve Banking is designed to offer loans and  create new money out of nothing.
What is perplexing is that any $100 million as a loan  does not exist as cash in the bank. The original $1000  cash may be in a deposit account. But the new money ‘exists’ in a ledger and on a computer screen and hard drive as  a statement of account.
It is virtual. It is digital. This money is debt.  It will become  cash in the future  when repayments are made; and when  it is converted by the Central Bank.
We have to acknowledge that the E345 billion given to Greece as a bailout loan was created out of nothing. And only exists as virtual entries in the debtors account. No cash was transferred from Eurozone accounts to the Bank of Greece.   Today, the concept of ‘money’ is best regarded  as a set of numbers not a pack of notes nor a bag of coins.
We have to accept that most customers of financial enterprises are convinced that all dealings are ‘in cash’  But  Banks are lending/spending billions . that exist in statements as numbers, not hard cash. The amounts available [liquidity] are supervised by the Central Banks.
The next step in this procedure of  loans is that  bank profits are generated from the interest paid on the loans.The bigger the loan, the greater the interest.

The amount of digital money lent has little to do with the amount of cash in circulation.  Bankers and financiers and traders manipulate money numbers on a screen,  but their electronic dealings take place without regard for the consequences of their trading in numbers for cash/ stock/ commodities markets across the world.

  Even though governments have the right to print money to meet their costs,most use Central Banks to organize and supervise their monies, to avoid inflation and deflation.  Governments create  cash  but their demands are far greater and so  most countries are in debt. The current disputes about Greek debt are framed as if Greece was the only country in debt.
National debts can be as high as $18 trillion, as in the USA, with interest payments of $500 billion per year;  the UK, with 1.2 trillion GBP debts,has to meet 43 billion GBP annual interest. Other countries have large debts: Belgium $1.3 trillion; Japan, $1.5 trillion; France $1.7 trillion;China $1.9trillion; Ireland $1.8 trillion; Italy $2.2 trillion; Germany $2 trillion; Russia $76 billion. In order to pay their current debts the governments choose to contract  more debts to pay debts. and  to reconcile the credits and the debits; the assets and income with the loans and the interest payments.
January 2015 the BBC reported that the total global debt is $199 trillion: all of which is digital money.
. One of the rules of the ‘money’ game is that debts are paid on time and in full. If this is not possible, debts are to be covered by more debts  loans by more loans, interest payments by more interest.] Another rule is that the debtor is obliged to reduce costs, and increase income, so as to balance the books and repay the debts. The debtor has to be supervised, inspected and not to br trusted!

We have been considering  a situation in which the principal sums on loan are digital, and created out of nothing. The lender has made entries on a balance sheet, and charges the debtor for the completion of the contract. The profits of any financial enterprise are linked to the interest charged on loans.    For example, if a government or a corporation wants to borrow E100 million for 20 years at 7.5%,  the compound interest will be E424.7 million. The total to be repaid  will be E524.7 million. The borrower has to pay back 4.24 times the original loan.The total to be repaid  on global debt would be $1043 trillion or $1.04 quadrillion.
A country like Greece may borrow E345 billion for 20 years @ 7.5%, and be required to pay back E1.46 trillion. The current disputes are claiming that these totals are excessive. The new Greek government is challenging this system claiming that the interest charged is intended to benefit the creditor and punish the debtor. The bailout loans, that were supposed to rescue Greece, will bankrupt the country and destroy the government. The bailout monies could have been.GRANT AID with a low interest rate within a system of simple interest.
Recently, the USA was at the brink of bankruptcy when the the Treasury was not able to pay the interest of $500 billion on a national debt of $18 trillion. This reminds us that most  of the 195 countries in the world are in debt and need their GDP, profits and growth to pay their debts!
It would be fairer to adopt a system of simple interest,  whereby the interest is charged on the original principal
 The payment of interest would not be seen as a problem for a country such as Germany, USA, or China whose economy was growing by +5%/7%/10% a year. But for Greece, and many other poor countries across the world, whose economies are shrinking by -7% per year, these payments have become impossible.

In the years following the credit crunch of 2008/9 when some of the biggest banks in the world went bankrupt, and many countries went into recession, and the global financial system almost collapsed, some alternative strategies are necessary so as to ease the economic pressures on poor countries: that is, most countries in the world..One solution could be to lower the compound interest rates charged. .Another solution would be to calculate the simple interest on loans  The interest payable on E100,000,000 @1% simple interest for 20 years would be E20 million. The total repayable would be E120 million.These totals are significantly less than E424 million repayable on a loan at 7.5 %. And all represent significant profits for the creditors on transactions that are trading virtual sums created and deleted at the push of a button.These transactions are politically significant in circumstances when a government has to raise taxes and to cut all social services in order to repay the interest on a loan; or when a government, like the USA, has borrowed so much that it can only afford to pay the annual interest, and therefore has to sell off national assets so as to remain solvent. Governments, such as Greece or Ireland or Portugal or Iceland or Spain or Italy, may have repaid the principal of their loans, but cannot pay the interest. This interest could be four times the principal! Ireland with a national debt of $1.8trillion is facing interest payments of $7.2 trillion; or Italy, $8.8 trillion interest. These are all inconceivable amounts of money: particularly for countriesthat are barely covering their costs.  Should any government be permitted to borrow more than it can ever possibly repay? Should any government be permitted to borrow sums at interest rates that will lead to bankruptcy? Should funding agencies be able to charge punitive interest rates? Should creditors be able to lend money to clients who cannot pay their debts? Should interest rates be variable according to the circumstances of the debtor?  Should interest rates be capped for everyone, so as to limit the profits of the creditors? Would it be better if all loans had a fixed fee? How could a regulator stop the debtors and the creditors from taking advantage of any preferential contracts? This leads us to another solution: the necessity for oversight and regulation. Which organization could be given authority to supervise, regulate, and control the financial affairs of individuals, corporations, countries? The WorldBank, the IMF, the United Nations, the EU, the AU? among others.It is not surprising that many clients, corporations or countries, become unable to repay the sum in total and default.It is clear that none of the funding agencies and their traders care about the circumstances of the debtors. All they are interested in is the generation of profits and bonuses. It is none of their business that many countries like those in Africa: Namibia, Niger, Sudan, Somalia, Congo,need loans to pay for foods to feed their starving peoples. The countries want grant-aid, but are driven to loans.that will bankrupt them.. It must be admitted that none of this would matter, because many countries would be unable to raise enough cash to provide collateral for any loans.So we are faced by a dilemma. How to structure and regulate a fractional reserve system that does not bankrupt those countries that try to borrow money? How to design a full reserve system which is more flexible in demands for collateral and assets? On reflection, it seems that banking systems that are intended to benefit the banksters and fundsters, and sacrifice the debtors, are not socially nor morally justified. They protect the interests of the 1% and control the savings and investments across the world. They are only interested in peoples and governments who want to borrow money, and pay maximum interest. One can conclude, that any banking system that is totally dependent upon the generation of profits from the interest on loans, is unacceptable. As we have seen, the calculation of the interest due from poor debtor countries leads to their bankruptcy. Such loans and compound interest are not intended to alleviate global poverty. They are intended to maximize the profits and bonuses of the banksters