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The UK's employment market is currently a buyer's market, but a premium market. It's expensive to employ people here, the cost of living is high, and the standard is European (no keeping people in vast dormitories with 18 hour shifts).
But what is the percentage of employment?
70% of people aged 16 to 64?
That's not done by counting the employees. It's measured by the number of people on unemployment benefits (30%). You can bet that there's unemployed people in the "employment" category who simply aren't registered unemployed, the benefits system isn't a particularly good thing to be part of.
So what is this due to?
Cheap imports? Increasing automation? A lack of "consumer" spending (chicken-egg economics)? Prohibitive costs for people to do business? Tax structures which penalise UK employers and reward offshore activities? Socially dysfunctional british people who aren't worth employing?
If it wasn't for the expense of people having rights and benefits etc, I imagine this would be a proper buyer's market. There are many many countries with a much more aggressive buyer's market for employment than the UK. Countries with accompanying vast natural resources.
In my humble opinion the UK is being left fallow, the assets are not yet distressed enough for huge profits.
The UK is not yet food for the global profit engine. Last century it developed a rather sinister form of business weed called "workers' rights" and "work-life balance" among the working classes. To correct this, the UK has been subjected to financial pesticides (aggressive taxation, rigged import currencies) and has been floating on a bubble of international exploitation, thus undercutting all the UK domestic production businesses.
The time when the UK will be profitable again for investors is coming soon, our IMF loans are about to kick in, and the urgency of the repayments will override the deadwood rights, as they have in so many other places over the past few decades.
The UK's main boom-trade is the leftover tropical islands from the Imperial days. We run them as tax exiles, most hedge funds operate from places such as the Caymans, which have *no* taxes other than on material imports. The banker, investor or trader only pays tax on his suit and his dinner, not on his profits. If he phones in, or logs in, well, he can have a tax free or deductible dinner somewhere else.
The square mile is another conundrum, the medieval government & electoral system allows for political autonomy, which the businesses that occupy the place use to happily rig the tax system for their own purposes. The square mile is quite unlike any of the rest of the UK. This is because of the guilds, they annexed the territory for their own management during the medieval period, an enclave of autonomy aside from the medieval monarchs. There are today more American bank with their headquarters in the square mile than there are in the USA.
The British Empire was a trading hub. A stock market. This is the basis of the UK's post-industrial economy. The UK traded & processed materials into useful commodities. We were pioneers of industrial capitalism.
Myself, what I'm interested in is the processing rather than the trading. I don't see a product, I see a process. No material is immutable, it's just the consumer's brain which has been trained to see it that way. What we, this homogenised pan-global weirdness, do with materials these days is in my opinion a bit of an abomination. Wasteful use of plastics and metals. Pollution & worker abuse. Rip-off society. Designing products to break on time for the sake of selling more. Neglect of durable materials such as wood and glass. The destruction of the natural environment, overfishing, over harvesting, chopping down millenia-old forests. Horrible polluting mines. Smokestacks in somebody else's backyard.
One of the sickest ideas is the engineering of overconsumption to maximise trade and profits. The pursuit of sales & profit as number 1 priority is simply not socially responsible. Profit is often a *phantom* conjured up by talented accountants. Paper juggle.
Really, the most important rule that the grander engine called society has forgotten is a simple rule: leave the place in a better state than you found it. We shouldn't be eating the world, we should be growing on it. The idea of "better" is arguable and variable. It should be argued, and varied. Good condition is healthy. It's the opposite of barren or desolate.
When people take a natural resource, they should leave the place in a more beautiful state than they found it. If you must dig holes in the ground, fill them up with something good. I've found images of monstrous piles of gravel from mining. If we're to move mountains, couldn't we turn them into gardens or cities? Our behaviour these days is looking rather more like rape and pillage than forestry. I fear that nature will punish us for this behaviour. Many mines cannot be engineered into cities or farms because they are so toxic. If people can't live there, it's not good behaviour. It's all our backyard, in truth.
The real problem, according to "businessmen" is that there just isn't enough profit in responsible behaviour. I think this is a ridiculous idea. Surely the problem is the surplus, the byproducts. If better use was made of such things, then surely we'd be richer, not poorer. Mismanagement is what I call it. Many of our financial & governmental structures make mismanagement compulsory. The pursuit of profit within a given, usually short timeframe is the core issue. Behind this lies the desire for a river of money, never having to work.
People like work. They like games. But they only like it if it's fulfilling, part of that fulfilment is the rewards, and part of it is figuring out how to play the game well, being responsible, taking risks and being a winner. People climb mountains because it's hard work. They spend money on it.
I was talking to a scientist, he's an expert in agricultural engineering. He said that a plantation of trees in rows for timber is a vastly wasteful use of land, it's only done to make it easy for the machines to scoop up the trees without having to steer. His idea of a masterpiece of agricultural engineering was an untouched forest. Nothing is wasted, and it's self-maintaining.
Inefficiency is considered tolerable because the processing is intensive. The natural resources must be moved a long way to get to the "consumer". Perhaps it would be more efficient living in a forest, not a sterile city. A forest with streetlights and pavements, with amenities and engineering. With canals and streams, and a gang of expert agriculturalists who make sure that the ecosystem is in good order, that all the creatures have enough to eat, and are not out of balance and devouring each other wholesale. The animals should have amenities, not just the people. This is a vision which is shared by many people, it's not my own.
In modern times, we have harboured an idea that mankind will have a better life running away from nature, engineering himself a future from concrete and glass with sharp edges. Like a rack of shelves, or a supermarket.
Modern culture is starting to understand that we're made from nature, that we are nature, and we're best off living close to it, in harmony with it. We don't want to give up our engineering, we want to elevate our techniques of society to be able to understand and work in harmony with nature.
This was in the past considered to be a task *too difficult*. Nature cannot be tamed, so it must be got rid of. As science becomes mature, we're realising that we can plumb the depths of the complexities, it is possible to live within nature and not be subject to nasty surprises, or getting eaten by bears.
Let's face it, we didn't even have the periodic table until 1880. How can you do biochemistry if you don't know what an atom is?! DNA is 1970s. It's early days, we're still scientific barbarians, but the progress is rapid. One should not consider our urban mode of existence to be a certain future.
The city should be seen as a university or a space station. Somewhere we have conducted a dangerous experiment. Somewhere to take lessons from. Not somewhere were real life happens, an artificial reality, an experiment.
We can design a better, more natural mode of existence & organisation, and if made successful, a proven method, it would be so much more beautiful than what we build today.
Monoculture is a waste.
People should have real lives. That involves work, it's part of the picture. People love to work for themselves, they love to work for each other. But it must be real work with real rewards. Pushing paper isn't that job.
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