Wednesday, June 17, 2009

After the apocalypse? We're already here!

We've all seen those cinematic visions of "after the apocalypse" where the machines have taken over and a few humans remain to scramble amongst the ruins?

Well, you might not have noticed, but it's happened. Possibly not quite as obvious and stark as in the Terminator's imagery, but happened it has: the faceless robots now in charge are the behemoth organisations that have been allowed to emerge through steady acquisition and consolidation in the name of "efficiency" over the past 20 years: massive national and supranational government agencies, collaborating cosily with the cartels of global companies entrenched in major and increasingly monopoly supply roles.

The most obvious proof that these commercial cartel members are unhealthy is that governments simply could not allow them to go bust - even after they had got their numbers disastrously wrong to the detriment of the entire planet.

It is a specific characteristic of these behemoths that that they only want to deal with each other. This has been the globalisation of the old adage that "no one ever got fired for choosing IBM". The implication being that the risk of failure of the product/service chosen would not fall on the decision maker, whereas had the product/service been chosen from a smaller "no-name" supplier, then the superiors of the decision maker would haul them over the coals when any blame storm erupts. It's a pernicious but effective tactic, and means that the behemoths can only ever grow, regardless of their fitness for task and competence.

So if you are not part of this cosy "system", then you are one of the remainder, scrambling around the ruins of the once-diverse economy for crumbs that fall from the tables of fat cats gorging on their unfairly protected cartel businesses - or waiting eagerly to catch the slops that spill over the lips of the many government troughs.

Despite the controversy over his appointment as Business Tsar, [include current honour here] Alan Sugar has a refreshingly old-fashioned view of the world, that includes a desire to wind the clock back 20 years (see the YouTube interviews) to a world where common sense prevailed before "the rise of mechanoids" rather more than it does now in Broon's Blighted Britain.

One acid test will arise his core passion for apprenticeship. The idea that any self-employed tradesman should take on a school leaver as an apprentice is now almost certainly going to be smothered by the enormous hassle and paperwork that 12 years of Labour's interminable process that means it's very unlikely to happen. Only one of the monster mechanoids that can afford to devote an entire department to HR will be able to find the time and resources to push the paper around to satisfy the rules.

As unemployment climbs, this has to change - and quickly.

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