All you cash belong to Zuck

Say what you like about Mark Zuck, but the fellow doesn’t lack ambition. There’s a bit of the Terminator in him, or one of those mediaeval giants that takes quivers full of arrows but keeps on coming.

It not just your innermost secrets, your lives, your loves and of course what consumer goods you buy he wants to know. The Zuck is now coming for your money. Be very afraid. It’s called Libra, it’s blockchain, and Mark is doing it because he wants to make more money and know how you spend yours has a deep compassion for the

1.7bn people around the world without a bank account would be able to use it to make instant and nearly free international money transfers from their mobile phones

Earth calling Zuck. You may have a brain the size of a planet but has it ever occurred to you that a good number of these people don’t have a bank account because they don’t have any money? How do you fix that? Well, paying your taxes rather than spiriting the ill-gotten gains into Moneyland would help this altruistic aim more than facilitating people to spend money they don’t have, all watched over by the benevolent gaze of Facebook’s servers.

the great and the good involved with Libra

There are other companies involved, and of course Libra’s website makes much of its credentials as a not-for-profit independent company, along with all the good is will do for these good folk who are unbanked, possibly ‘cuz they don’t have anything to bank. To wit:

Reinvent money. Transform the global economy. So people everywhere can live better lives.

There’s a Youtube puffery vid for ya

There are some questionable statements delivered in that minute and a half:

Technology has improved the world around us

Not sure what Extinction rebellion would say about that. Not if you’re a London sparrow. Or a cyberbullied teen. But sure, it’s improved many things, lets move on:

So why is it simple to send these [on screen example of low-value consumer goods] anywhere, but not money? What if we made money truly global, stable, and secure

Err, that’s because there’s no United States of Earth to protect us from the goddamned strongmen that we already have and seem to be siphoning off resources into offshore tax havens? Who watches the watchers, and how to we kick the blighters out if we create such an overarching single point of failure? The problems here aren’t technical. They are human. The history of the world shows you shouldn’t put a few people in charge of power. Piss off, Zuck and your ubermensch mates. What part of No do you not understand? As for secure, with Facebook on the board that’s just not happening. I’m not even sure it’s possible at all. Every bugger has their price.

Let’s run Libra through the bullshit translator, shall we. Let’s take a look and what’s wrong with money now. Money is two things. One is a medium of interchange. If you have money, you can get people to do things for you, right now – clean my windows, fix my drains, make me and my SO a nice meal in attractive surroundings, build be a superyacht so I can big up my ego.

It’s also a claim on future human work, which is often called a ‘store of value’. For various technical reasons, ever since 1971 and arguably before then, it’s not particularly good at that. To store value these days you are usually advised to use it as a medium of interchange to buy a diversified array of other things like equities and bonds. Storing value as currency doesn’t work that well in normal times. It can work exceptionally poorly in abnormal items – Venezuela now, Argentina not so long ago, Germany in between the wars. It was pretty iffy in Britain in the 1970s 😉

Improvement is possible. Some people critique the issue of there being no anchor – once upon a time currencies were backed by gold. With crypto you could probably achieve a similar limit in the money supply, well, until quantum computing comes along and people get to forge it. But that’s technical, it’s probably solvable. There was a problem with the gold standard in an expanding postwar economy. If your money is fixed and the amount of valuable stuff in the economy it is chasing rises, you are locked into deflation, and the real value of your mortgages and bank loans goes up with time. Of course, having floating currencies lets politicians promise more than they can deliver and let a slow devaluation in the currency tax people invisibly. But given that we don’t want to pay tax I guess it’s got to come from somewhere…

OK, maybe we have gone ex-growth, environmental degradation may mean contraction and convergence. Maybe a fixed  worldwide amount of money could work. But not if it’s run by Facebook.

Iffen it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

Banks use ancient IT systems, but I can’t recall the last time a load of money just disappeared. Challenger banks are making the user interface better. Western consumers don’t need easier payment systems and micropayments. really they don’t. Consumer debt is already bad enough

UK households already owe £60k on average. They don’t need easier spending

One of the easiest wins you can have with spending is simply to insert a wait loop. want to buy something that’s over £50 and isn’t a matter of health and safety? Stick it on a piece of paper with the date, and wait a week. If you still want it a week later, go buy it. It’s amazing how many want-it-now purchases can be canned.

Paying for something really isn’t that hard these days, assuming you have the money. We don’t need a totally new edifice run by tech giants to fix something that just ain’t broke in that way.

I’m not saying that money can’t be improved. But let’s think long and hard about the requirements capture, the social ramifications and how we kick out abusers of power and grifters before we build a system because money attracts bad sorts like shit attracts flies. Before we have a Global Currency of Earth let’s have a United States of Earth first, eh? Currency unions are historically rife with problems – ask the Greeks how that’s going over a small area with closer economic convergence that Earth.

Libra. Just say no, if only to keep Mark Zuckerberg out of your payment history. He knows far too much about you as it is! One of the most scary bits in the Grauniad article is the kicker at the end.

Facebook claims financial transactions will remain siloed from social media activity and that user ad profiles will not be based on Libra habits

Yeah, right. And I am the King of Spain.

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Brexit – not in my name, thanks

It’s a day after last night’s drubbing for the tosspots who thought it was a clever idea to hold the 2016 EU referendum in the first place. So what is the conclusion they came to?

Election results, courtesy Jacob Rees-Mogg in the torygraph. Apparently it’s a blessing in disguise. Dunno what he’s smoking, but I bet it isn’t legal if it’s that strong

Take it away, Jacob Rees-Mogg. What did you learn?

Most obviously, Brexit needs to happen in a true form. The vassal state that apparently the Government and the Opposition have agreed, including a Customs Union and high alignment, is not the answer. This will simply ossify the failure that has just been punished in the local elections.

The Tory party needs to be the Brexit party and to win back all those who are planning to support Nigel Farage and my sister, Annunziata Rees-Mogg, at the European elections. To do so will show the path to a clean Brexit. This is not to deny that the current House of Commons has set its face against leaving the European Union properly and wants to remain at least semi-attached, but Parliament against the people cannot work for long. Voters will not tolerate such a state of affairs.

Hmm, that sounds like a challenge, Jake. It’s perfectly possible Britain is so enamoured with pure “kill em all” Brexit that Annunziata will romp home with the bacon at the end of this month. We shall see, eh? In the meantime, do you have a good explanation for the lib dem and green shift in your pic, Jake, seeing as they aren’t fans of any sort of Brexit? Jake wasn’t the only fellow to make this category error.

election results show voters want both main parties to ‘deliver Brexit’

Eh? How the hell do you interpret massive gains for the Liberals who are unashamedly pro-remain, and the Greens, who are functionally pro-remain, as a massive support for Brexit? Why is UKIP down more than half? WTAF is with the tin ear and blinkers?

It may not signify a massive push for Remain, after all, these elections are meant to be about local issues, which Brexit most certainly isn’t, but if you were to read anything about Brexit into it, less rather than more Brexit would seem to be the obvious inference to draw.

And anyway, Treeza, you took on this job so it’s your problem to deliver it. Verhofstedt was right that the Brexit was a catfight in the Tory party that got out of hand, so if it destroys your lot then perhaps that’s the price you pay for not kicking out the nut-jobs early on. This voter doesn’t want anybody to deliver Brexit. Not in my name, thanks. I was lucky enough to be on the winning side this time.

In a delightful twist today I got a welcome invitation to vote for the EU parliament elections.

Well I never, an EU Parliament poll card, against May’s apple blossom. That’s the month of May, not Theresa, whose nemesis JRM quoth “Never glad confident morning again”

The People’s front of Brexit and the Brexit people’s front

can go and stick it as far as I am concerned. I wasn’t for it in the first place, I thought May’s deal matched roughly the result of that 2016 vote but it appears that wasn’t good enough for the nut-jobs. FFS it wasn’t good enough for the nut-jobs supposedly on her side, they wanted a pure ‘and we curse you and the horse you rode in on’ version of trading with our nearest neighbours. I will try and understand the d’Hondt proportional representation system of the EU elections to maximise the pro-EU form of my vote. Brexit was wrong then in my view but it was doable and fair enough in 2016. It’s gotten even more wrong as time passed by, an amped up all or nothing caricature which doesn’t justify the slim margin. If you want that sort of extremism, then put it to another bloody vote, and this time, Brexit lovers, say what you are FOR rather than against. Give the People’s front of Brexit form.

Here’s how it’s done.

I have not been represented in UK elections the last time

and I’m getting sick of it. Everybody seems to be yelling about the will of the people as in the 52% who voted leave, and ever since 2016 anybody of the 48% gould go swing in the wind. The result of that damned referendum was only slightly over 50%, it wasn’t overwhelming. Due to the nature of the voting system in the UK1, there are basically two choices in with any chance, and both of them promised to promote the goddamned Will of the fricking People as sampled in 2016. But the Will of the People is a moving target. We’ve had a general election since then. It would have been nice to have had a chance of voting for an unashamedly pro-Remain party, that had a chance of winning if there were enough Remainers to carry it. But there was nowhere to go for the for a Remain vote. I voted for one that didn’t have a chance of winning rather than vote for either of the two main parties who were in fear of the Referendum. This was a general election that happened after the bloody Referendum. the whole point of an election is that the answer can be different from what it was last time. Else what’s the point?

The thing that scares me most about Brexit is why it’s most ardent fans are so obscenely rich

The referendum was for leave, but not necessarily the most extreme leave. The result wouldn’t have cleared the 2/3 majority bar many countries set for constitutional change, so feelings weren’t extreme. Rich people seem to be taking us to the more extreme end, for example let’s look at the good people of the European Research Group2 Continue reading “Brexit – not in my name, thanks”

Through the Brexit looking glass

Curiouser and curiouser

This is purely a Brexit rant. I am not a fan of Brexit. If that sort of thing bores you then move along, nothing to see here.

The Ermine sits in his eyrie surveying the discombobulation that is Brexit in puzzlement. It was all supposed to be so easy in 2016. I’m reminded of that cartoon of the guy in the signalbox 1 watching train wrecks all around, muttering that’s no way to run a railroad.

Funny old crew, Brexiters. Despite the Leave conspiracy theory that it’s all Remainers wot are doing the wrecking, I think the most useful idiots in this game, from a Remainer point of view, are the misnamed European Research Group 2 . These are professional wreckers, the 21st century equivalent of Red Robbo and his crew at British Leyland. With top hats and Eton accents. I’d also remind Leavers that theirs is a broad church that contains two diametrically opposed constituencies.

One team of leavers set against the other

One of the tenets of Brexit fundamentalism is that there should be no backsliding on 2016. There was a single vote in June 2016, they got the result they wanted, that is the fundamentally determined fricking will of the people and shall stand for all time despite the bullshit said on all sides. Continue reading “Through the Brexit looking glass”

O tempora o mores

Midnight CET today is meant to have been the culmination of Theresa May’s premature invoking of Article 50 to leave the EU. She did that, without really having much idea what success looks like with Brexit, in an unforced error which seems to have played into the hands of the other side, who naturally looked after themselves and their own interests. Not sure we are any closer to knowing what a successful Brexit does look like. I am of the opinion that there’s no such thing, which explains why the search party keeps returning empty-handed.

A spaffage of headbangers, each and every one rich enough to survive a bout of disaster capitalism and profit from it

The Brexit crew seem to be channelling Thomas Edison, but they seem to lack his talent

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work

 

Thomas Edison, on the electric light bulb

Why you need Financial Independence – The Sovereign Individual

Let’s take a deeper look a Jacob Rees-Mogg, headbanger at the end on the left. Hopefully his crew are unwittingly acting more as useful idiots in weakening the No Deal ultra-case, but it ain’t done yet.

The Latin in the title is a hat tip to JRM’s tendency to break out into Latin, to confuse the bejesus of of those not drug up right in some elite British public school. Fortunately the proles have Google on their side

Where did he get his twisted ideas from? Maybe his Dad, who wrote The Sovereign Individual, basically Thomas Hobbes updated for the 21st century. Let’s hear it from JRM’s Dad

Nation-states will experience a sharp drop in revenue…but retain the unfunded liabilities and inflated expectations and social spending inherited from the industrial era…tax consumers will be the losers.”

The Sovereign Individual

To summarise, it’s a libertarian manifesto, Ayn Rand updated. Look after yourself and your own, and may the devil take the hindmost.

The Sovereign Individual was written in the last years of the last century, but its predictions do track some of what has come to pass in the ensuing twenty years

Rhys on Medium has a good summary. The SI looks at the metamorphoses of society through the intustrial revolution to now through the lens of capital, the capacity to impose your will on others through capital and violence on the one hand, and information and myth on the other. Daddy Rees-Mogg’s analysis bears witness on today’s world.

the arrow of time runs left to right, the form of the means of production and mastery or slavery vertically

You need financial independence to be less enslaved to those with more. Violence isn’t a fist-fight in the street, it is the ability of the church, nation-state, or sovereign individuals like Jacob Rees-Mogg to make you do their bidding. The Church used the Inquisition, the Nation-State police forces and armed forces (in connection with other nations states) and Jacob Rees-Mogg and his libertarian ilk will use their superior capital assets.

Continue reading “O tempora o mores”

Dutch Brexit humour from outside the nuthouse

Note: If you think we are conducting Brexit in a competent manner and it’s all a great idea, let me save you the time; don’t bother with the rest of this, OK?

Once upon a time, when that Jacob Rees-Mogg were a nipper, he sat on the knee of Daddy Rees-Mogg in charge of the Thunderer. Our lad Jacob was regaled with tales of Imperial derring-do, and he thought that’s the world he’d grow up in. Sadly, his cosseted public-skool upbringing never forged character in the crucible of adversity, so he got to grow up thinking that the world really was like he had been taught by daddykins, that it remembered the British Empire with fond sepia tones like the Road to Mandalay declaimed by BoJo rather than say, the trains oozing blood in the Punjab when in the shambles of the secretive Partition as the British scarpered. Sure, Britain did less badly de-Imperialising than some of her European neighbours, but let’s not celebrate that as something that will be a source of great common cause and better trade deals in the 21st century, eh, Jakes me old mucker? It’s probably safe to assume that Empire is recalled more fondly by the aristocratic class of this septic isle than the erstwhile subjects in all those red bits on the map, so check your facts Jakey-boy before sending your henchmen to go batting on that wicket in the trade talks, should we ever get that far.

Right now we Brits are making such absolute twats of ourselves on the international stage, what with striking a deal with the EU and seeming to agree, then saying well, no, that’s not what we actually meant all along, though hold the line, caller, while we actually work out what it is that we meant.

May picks up the old hotline to Jake’s pad where he celebrated her defeat with champagne for his buddies. Yes, I know, with friends like that who needs enemies and all that, but any port in a storm, eh? Brr, brr may I speak to JRM please? “heeelooooow, Jacob Rees-Mogg here, what’s that? (screws monocle into eye) oh what do we want? Simples, Treesa me gal, dont’cha-know, one wants not to give a bally inch. We keep all our cake and eat it, those dashed Continentals will soon come to their senses, they need us more than we need them. Stiff upper lip, Treesa, still upper lip and all that. Tally-Ho” Click.

It’s left people scratching their heads and wondering WTAF is going on here1. Hat tip to the Dutch government. Sometimes, faced with a clusterfuck over which you have precious little control, a spot of humour is the best answer. That’s exactly what they’ve done with their latest website to help their businesses understand Brexit. 2 Obviously they can’t really help them because nobody understands Brexit as it’s being made up on the hoof, but they’ve depicted it as a great big obstreperous woolly mammoth looming over small biz’s attempts to work out which way is up with Brexit.

And yeah, I’m doing the sneering Remainer bit here, because, to be honest, the absolute snafu being made here with Brexiters fighting with each other to imagine what success looks like does look bloody stupid. It looks bloody stupid inside the country, it must look like a collective nervous breakdown outside, though I tip my hat to the Irish Times in calling it a peculiarly English breakdown. Of the two constituencies of Brexit, I have some sympathy with the people who lost out to globalisation3, and I guess Theresa May’s original agreement would have been a serviceable answer to their complaints. I’m not sure it would have been a solution to their problems, but nevertheless, it would have delivered the result of the misbegotten referendum and allowed us to get on with life.

But it wasn’t to be, because there is another part of this heart of darkness, and it consists of people rich enough to not care one whit about the knock-on effects of their dreams. These are the toffs and aristocrats of Jacob-Rees-Mogg’s European Research Group. Just like you can take a bet that any country that has ‘democratic’ in its name is probably not democratic in any accepted term of the word, the ERG is neither European nor does it do any research, if you define research as inquiry into a topic where you don’t know what the answer to your inquiry is beforehand. These are guys who have a very purist view of sovereignty – pretty much ‘we are top dog and no other bugger has influence on what we do‘. Ahem, chaps and chapesses, along with that whole sun never sets on the Imperium no longer being a thing

that was the late 19th/early 20th century, guys

some dashed clever buggers invented something called trade, y’know, where you buy and sell stuff and services to foreigners. It goes on a bit more nowadays that it used to. Anytime you want other people’s money, well, you get to dance a little to their tune. It also pays to speak nicely to them rather than charge around like you own the joint. You do seem to have your heads stuck in a time when you did own the joint, it’s been nearly 80 years since then.

The ERG and their ilk are despicable rich bastards that don’t have to giveashit

And they don’t give a shit. Sure, the entire UK body politic has conspired to make a pig’s ear of this, but I’d like to direct Donald Tusk’s infernal ire better. I reserve a special place in Hell for Jacob Rees-Mogg, BoJo and all the strutting rich bastards who seem to be getting a massive horn out of sticking spanners in the works, and telling people that the only way to think about sovereignty is the way Kim Jong-Un thinks about it. Presumably Jacob’s got My Way on repeat on the old gramophone, with some pliant serf to wind the dratted thing up when the spring runs down.

If this is the way we are negotiating our first and possibly largest trade deal or non-deal with our largest and nearest trading partner, then as far as negotiating with Trump-land and China, well, so help us God. It reminds me of Tacitus’ description of the Druids retreating to Anglesey and hurling curses at the invading Roman Army across the Menai Straits.

On the beach stood the adverse array, a serried mass of arms and men, with women flitting between the ranks. In the style of Furies, in robes of deathly black and with dishevelled hair, they brandished their torches; while a circle of Druids, lifting their hands to heaven and showering imprecations, struck the troops with such an awe at the extraordinary spectacle that [it was] as though their limbs were paralysed, they exposed their bodies to wounds without an attempt at movement.

Apparently the troops got a right bollocking for such wussy behaviour along the lines of WTF is wrong with you lot, are you men or mice, and they stormed the island swimming across the Menai Straits with their horses. There’s a lesson in there, and it’s that hurling curses across a watery boundary at the other side doesn’t end well.

This is not a professional way of carrying on, people. We look like incompetent buffoons, and a great big blue furry buffoon looks about right. Hats off to the Dutch

Project Fur – you gotta have a larf, else you’d cry

At least they will be shot of it soon enough. We have to live with the massive monster of our projected id – it’s Forbidden Planet all over again without the pretty girl to make it better.

Forbidden planet – beware the power of the twisted darkness within the ERG

So here’s a gratuitous picture of Altaira

Altaira

before we have one of the villains of the show, the “I drink champagne wiv my Brexit Bruvvas when ‘my’ side loses a battle they deserve to lose” Jacob Rees-Mogg

Jacob Rees-Mogg

Now I’d rather have JRM for prime minister than Boris Johnson, but that’s not setting the bar high. In fact I’d prefer the Dutch woolly mammoth to either…

Our next PM, the fella with the blue wooly head!

because when it comes to British politics, let’s take a leaf out of Hippocrates.

Rule 1: Do no harm


  1. I am aware of the Brexiter’s line that you have to keep the enemy on it’s toes and not knowing WTF is going on during negotiations. Sometimes you do have to play the capricious fool. However, I think that the problems here stem from Brexit hiding two quite opposing world-views, and like the Red Dragon and the White Dragon under Vortigern’s castle, they fight endlessly so no stable structure can be built on the house divided.  Where are Merlin and Arthur now? We need them now in the kingdom’s hour of need, there is only greed and evil in those that rule today… 
  2. since obviously nobody in Britain speaks foreign any more, what with our Imperial glory meaning all we have to do is yell louder at our subjects till they get it, Google can help us with that
  3. In theory these guys would be ably represented by the Labour Party,  it’s fairly simple and honest what they want – less austerity, a better welfare state, some middling and low level jobs that pay enough to live on. They don’t really give a toss about the trade deals. However, if anybody can work out what Jeremy Corbyn thinks about Brexit, well, could they tell him, please, because there’s no consistent signal that comes out of the noise from his mouth, apart from that it’s not what the other lot wants. Which other lot, Jezza? in fact which part of which other lot? Oh, fuhgeddaboutit. 

Odd Christmas sales and consumerism

Unlike most years, where the Santa rally is a thing, there’s not so much cheer on the stock market at the moment.

In other words, there’s a sale on. The Ermine has an additional problem, in that my money is held in increasingly worthless Lesser British Pounds, which are going lower relative to foreign assets day by day. That’s largely due to the pickle we have got ourselves into. Having narrowly voted to leave the EU for a land of unicorns and unlimited supplies of cake, hard reality seems to have met the dream. Usually when that happens the dream loses the fight.

The narrow majority for Brexit covered up an inconvenient problem in that there are two pro-Brexit constituencies, and their interests don’t really overlap.

These are roughly the groups as I see it – one lot want their unskilled jobs back, or at least not to see them going to young folk from the EU who can live more cheaply than their constituents can for a while1. There’s another lot who are the Tory headbangers of the ERG group, who are sore about the loss of sovereignty. There’s an argument that the sovereignty fight should have been had at the time of Maastricht and they should have signed up with James Goldsmith’s Referendum Party. These guys are usually rich enough to weather any storm of a no-deal, or old enough that they don’t have to find work in the resulting maelstrom, and some of them have fond memories of an imperial past when Britain ruled the waves. Whenever I hear Jacob Rees-Mogg speak, I do feel that the 1950s called, and I wasn’t even born in the 1950s, although I am about ten years older than him!

The top left side want much less immigration, they don’t really care about trade deals with non-EU countries, the top right don’t care about immigration but get off on the idea of trade deals free of the yoke of the EU that limits their coruscating ambition. There’s a small dark side of xenophobia, which isn’t necessarily just people who favour Brexit though it does tend to go along with the Brexit patch

At best only one of these groups with non-overlapping interests can be satisfied. Rationally, the largest group that can be satisfied would be the Remainers, because their desire is simple and achievable, what we had before that Cameron chap cocked it all up trying to hold his party together.

If one of the Brexit group gets what it wants, the other group largely doesn’t. The Remainers at least know they lost the fight. The Brexit contingent that doesn’t get what they want will be doubly pissed off because they thought they won. There is no win on offer here that gets anywhere near 50% of people happy. And yet Brexiters are busy screaming the house down about “The Will of the People Must Be Respected”. Well, yeah, as long as it’s not the will of the remainers and as long as it’s not the will of the other half of the Brexit voters, because for them that other lot’s Brexit is not my Brexit.

I’m all for respecting the will of the people, as long as they tell us which will of the people they think that should be. Will the real Brexit stand up and make itself known to the hapless captain of the good ship Britannia? Even when May brings them something that looks like a Brexit, as in ‘submit Article 50 to leave the EU’ people still yell out like two year-olds that’s not what we wanted, Waaah. So they defenestrate May and it’s Groundhog day again.

There should be an honorary eagle pecking out the liver for David Cameron for putting the question is such a stupid, damn-fool and undeliverable manner. It is like having a referendum on “Do You want Real Live Unicorns on the High Street Every Sunday”. The answer may well be yes, but it’s a tough one to deliver. Because: Unobtanium. In the form of cakeism in the first case and unicorns on the other

All that is as may be, but in the immediate future it drives down the real value of my cash. Continue reading “Odd Christmas sales and consumerism”

Run towards the light, not away from the darkness

Warning – Brexit content, and I was/am a remainer. It the topic bores you, switch off and do something more constructive with your time now 😉

The Ermine sits in his eyrie, and surveys the increasing twisted wreckage of the British political landscape before him, and wonders, how did it really all come to this?

It took me too long to realise a philosophical fact about life. In general, run towards what you do want, rather than away from what you don’t want. Imagine sitting by a candle – if you want to run away from the darkness you have no end of directions to go, whereas if you are in the darkness and want to run towards the light, the aim is easy, as every night moth knows.

You gain simplicity in running towards a goal, and pay in decision making if you try and execute the ‘anywhere but here’ command. You get in your car and drive towards where you want to go, you don’t drive away from your home town.

There are exceptions, of course. If you were in the town of Paradise recently, get the hell out of here was a good move. That’s the sort of problem that is urgent and important. Some things that are important aren’t urgent, however.

There’s an argument that being in the EU or not is something that is important to many. But it wasn’t urgent. What was urgent was for Cameron to save his ass, so he couched his question is simplistic terms, and it looks like we get to live with the consequences of asking the question in such a stupid way without asking what sort of independent existence outside the EU matters to you, Sir? What does success look like?

There are several answers to that question, though the main axes, which aren’t particularly interdependent, seem to be

  • greater national self-determination over trade policy and legislation
  • control of immigration

In not asking the question ‘what do we want to happen here?’ Cameron turned something that was important but not urgent into something that is both. Well done you, Dave. Clearly a public school education doesn’t imbue an understanding of philosophy even if it does teach you to lead, sort of, until the going gets touch, in which case you run away from the SNAFU you have created because it falls into the ‘too hard’ bucket.

True character will out – it fell into the ‘too hard’ camp and he was off like a whippet

Two years later and we still don’t know what success looks like. Put two Brexiters in a room and you get five different answers, none of which are compatible with each other. That is the tragedy of chasing the negative. Well done us.

What’s wrong in the world gets a lot more attention than what’s right

That’s the problem with a lot of decision-making. Too much of it is running away from what is wrong, rather than towards what is right. I admire a lot of the younger FIRE-folk for getting this right – freedom to use their time for their own goals is what they want, FIRE is a means to an end. They are living Stephen Covey’s second rule – Begin With the End in Mind. Where do you want to go?

I didn’t do that. I wanted to be free of work. I had some terrific luck which saved me from the consequences of violating Covey’s second rule and executing the ‘anywhere but here’ command, though I was at least guided by instinct towards  freedom rather than, say, not working for The Firm but stacking shelves in Tesco.

Why is working getting more crap?

I am reading a dog-eared copy of Britain on the Couch, which from the cultural references must’ve been written in the late 1990s. The Ermine was just over halfway through his working life, and Oliver James observed that the heady mix of higher and more individualistic aspirations, combined with a greater exposure to comparing ourselves with others, as portrayed in the media was screwing us up at a faster rate than increasing material wealth seems to be making us happier. It was the increasing gamification of the workplace that started to make me sick of it, irrational spurious requirements to justify your existence every quarter, the knowledge it was a zero-sum game etc.

The writing was already on the wall halfway through my career. Nick asked me this, and it was an interesting question

I’m curious Ermine, what do you see as the purpose of work? Purely an exchange? Looking back on a full career, do you see it all as BS or enjoyable at the time (until things started changing and going south.)
I think I actually enjoy the challenge work provides, I will always keep my toe dipped for that reason and the various protection mechanisms it offers (until this goes south anyway.) What gets me very badly is time pressure, work (too many things to juggle), side work, sorting the house, general life. For me I feel striking a balance could make things much more enjoyable…or as I get closer I’ll discover I’m wrong and have an existential crisis.

I had a good run. 25 years of no real trouble, two years of hell and then three tough years of saving hard to get out. There were several things running against me. Some of it was simple globalisation – the west does not need to staff its research and development facilities with expensive Westerners when they can outsource the job. Some of it was the sorts of things that Oliver James wrote about, the increasing surveillance and the gamification of the workplace. Reading articles like this about gamification taken to extremes gives me the creeps. Oliver James called that trend out twenty years ago…

I’m not even particularly sensitive to that sort of incentivisation – I don’t really do badges. I was a member of a professional confederation and happened to storm the theoretical part of one of their training courses, so they were chasing me to get hold of me to award the certificate and get the gong, and were clearly puzzled at how hard work it was to get hold of an Ermine 😉 Similarly for a club where I sorted out their online presence several years ago and was given an award. I have to tell myself that many see this as a big deal, because I don’t want to charge around upsetting people who worked hard to get the gong for me, but I don’t really feel it inside. I am an introvert, and more internally referenced. The sort of challenges and goal-setting that clearly reward others leaves me cold.

I’m only a third of the way through the book, but it’s always puzzled me why the Britain of now is so immeasurably richer than the London that I grew up in, and while physical disease is much lower, mental health and general distress with life seems worse. I was fortunate – I was able to buy my way out of it, because much of the trouble seems to be associated with the way we work now. Work seems to take up a lot more headspace now that it used to. My Dad needed to clock on on time but when he clocked off he was absolutely done with work. Looking at people now, work didn’t drift too much into my time off. But I look at the way many people work, and there are always on the job in some way it seems, tethered to their smartphones  – I see these as a tool of oppression in the modern world, not emancipation.

Calling Extrovert FIRE Folk

For the first few years of my FI journey it seemed to be the introverts making most fo the running, I started reading Jacob ERE and many others seemed to lie on the introverted axis. However, all you extroverts in the Fi movement seem to have suddenly found your mojo and are making more of the running, what with meet-ups an the like. So if you’re the life and soul of the party but you find talking about saving makes people’s eyes glaze over then here’s a couple of events you can find some like minds.

There’s apparently a Financial Independence UK Facebook Group (wonder what Oliver James would have had to say about Facebook 😉 ) who are getting together on Nov 24th in Surrey a little way off the A3.

Then there’s a Financial Independence London facebook group who are meeting up on the 5th December, I guess you search FB for Financial Independence London

I’m not sure I fit in anywhere to this outgoing part of the FIRE community, but what the hell, each to their own; knock yourselves out, guys.