I know I am a photographer and artist so you may wonder about my credentials for discussing such an important issue as in or out of the European community. Through my work in handling creative projects for major City of London institutions I drifted into the financial world of the late 80s through the 90s including a stint running hedge funds and being a member of the board of directors on more than a few city companies.
The more I look at this referendum the more I believe it should never have happened. The decision on the 23rd of June will be taken on the basis of personal pride, hypothesis, the desire to be contrarian, supposition, ignorance and assumption. It is the man in the street who will sway the balance and there is not a political party that has given clear arguments. I’m not even sure that if the arguments were given clearly the average person could make a distinction. The concept of democracy does not exist in any country in any part of the globe today and probably with good reason that in a world of 7 billion people and growing there needs to unity and management. Now as a highly intelligent uncle of mine once said variety is the spice of life and I would certainly not want to live in a world where we are all the same or a world where 1984 is the norm. Striking a balance is what creating a comfortable planet is ideally all about – difficult for combative human nature. The contribution that immigrants have made to the UK is great in the NHS and business.
To quote from the Economist:-
Concern about the economic impact of immigration has centred on two areas: the effect foreigners have on native workers’ wages and employment; and the extent to which immigrants, in particular those from countries within the European Union who are free to move around at will, take from a system to which they have contributed little. Research by Christian Dustmann of University College London and Tommaso Frattini of the University of Milan focuses on the second.
By calculating European immigrants’ share of the cost of government spending and their contribution to government revenues, the scholars estimate that between 1995 and 2011 the migrants made a positive contribution of more than £4 billion ($6.4 billion) to Britain, compared with an overall negative contribution of £591 billion for native Britons. Between 2001 and 2011, the net fiscal contribution of recent arrivals from the eastern European countries that have joined the EU since 2004 has amounted to almost £5 billion. Even during the worst years of the financial crisis, in 2007-11, they made a net contribution of almost £2 billion to British public finances. Migrants from other European countries chipped in £8.6 billion.
The authors point out that the cost of some government services—in particular “pure public goods” such as defence spending—remains the same no matter what the population, so the overall cost of providing them to immigrants is zero. Calculate the amount per person, and the price for Britons goes down as the number of immigrants rises, since the cost is shared between a larger number of individuals.
Immigrants’ overall positive contribution is explained in part by the fact that they are less likely than natives to claim benefits or to live in social housing. Between 1998 and 2011 as many as 37% of natives were receiving some kind of state benefit or tax credit; European immigrants were nearly eight percentage points less likely to collect them. Those from Europe were also three percentage points less likely to live in social housing than Britons.
Another immigration myth that I would like explained is Britain is not member of the schengen agreement, so there is no restrictions on British border control. This points to a government failing.
This points to the immigrant argument as being somewhat of a ‘red herring’ and fear promoter.
The other issue is that immigration should not have any racial connotations it is purely a volume issue. The question I ask is why with strong government policy even from within the EU is it not possible to control immigration. The UK border force is undermanned and underfunded will this change outside the EU and don’t say some of the £350 million per week will go towards this that’s already spent on the NHS and elsewhere? Besides it is not a weekly £350 million contribution only without rebates/batteries not included.
There is also a spurious argument that rules are made by faceless unelected bureaucrats based in Brussels this is not entirely correct as there is a body of elected MEPs from each member state. Now I’m not saying I agree with the elected representatives on all issues much is wrong. I will though put forward an argument that to come out of the EU would put Britain in the hands of a small myopic political establishment that could erode any semblance of leaning towards some minor form of democratic governance, Within the EU there are 28 member states all arguing their agenda this does create a senate even if the strong percolate through to the top of the table, not true, Greece is an example of eating from the bottom of the table and it should be pointed out that the Greek debt was not compounded by the Greeks but by that blight on the financial world Goldman Sachs. When I see the infrastructure Spain has put in place using EU money, railways and Roads/highways years ahead of the UK I see a benefit as with many other EU countries that have benefited from membership. A country with infrastructure will grow. I ask is leaving and indication that our political elite are shirking their duty of strong negotiation. If the EU finances the Spanish infrastructure why can’t they finance a well-funded border force. We have seen European countries put up physical barriers to Middle Eastern immigration/refugees without substantial repercussion from the EU – why can’t a powerful member state such as the UK force change and get deals? The way to change a club is to be elected to the board of directors in order to do this you have to be a member of the club.
The UK has low productivity in relation to much of the developed world. If this was higher I could see more of a reason for Brexit. Trade deals will take time to negotiate and breaking into the Asian pacs and US American continent pacs will be a long-term project. These pacs are already set in their procedures and have been for many years. It is possible but will take a considerable amount of time. Canada has been trying to ratify a deal for nearly 5 years. Norway is a very wealthy country and would say they are better off outside the Union however Norway has some products vital to Europe and the world mainly substantial oil. Norway is also currently trying to renegotiate some of it’s EEA (European Economic Area) deals for trading with the EU. It is in a different position to Britain but all is not well if you need to renegotiate some of your arrangements. There is a global drift towards trading blocks to name some; African Union (AU), Union of South American Nations (USAN), Central American Integration System (SICA), Eurasian Economic Community (EAEC), Arab League (AL). Although the EU was not originally created as a trading group but to reduce the possibility of further wars in the European zone it has developed into a strong trading block with the largest GDP in the world giving it massive negotiating powers..
Most car manufacturers in the UK have foreign ownership and are here for the access to a 508 million market the biggest trading block in the world with the biggest GDP. If their market goes from 508 million to 65 million it is naive to believe there will not be redundancies. Also countries like Spain Italy Germany already have the infrastructure to accommodate car manufacturing so it is not beyond the possibility for companies to move camp. This is only one of many foreign-owned business sectors that find the UK legislatively comfortable to operate from but don’t be under any illusion most also point to Europe 45% of UK exports go to Europe.
The City of London generates 22% of the UK’s GDP. The current job environment in the City is one of despair that generates a culture appearing to be greed. The city is a vicious hire and fire culture forcing employees to reach for greater and great targets. There is a general recognition that like justice regulations need to be seen to be done a blind lady of regulation. There is far too much incest between the political establishment and the banking and fund management fraternity. With a vote for exit and a further lowering of manufacturing production the dependence on the City could become even greater. This could lead to blind eye despair banking and fund management taking even more dodgy capital from despotic regions of the world, the city’s best method for increasing business will be to deregulate. Remember what was said to Cameron at the conference on corruption that took place some months ago, when the president of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari was asked when his government would commence tackling corruption his reply was “when you stop taking the money” . The City is already a culture of despair and knee jerk regulation. The need to pump up the capital flows through the city due to lower industrial productivity could end up being and even greater necessity.
Brexit is a brave idea a step in the dark with promoters falsely believing that the political class exist that can manage the transition they have not existed in the past so why suddenly now? Strongly negotiated membership could have many benefits and does not necessarily mean giving up a vague form of sovereignty with an even vaguer belief in obscure democracy. Closer EU integration could be contested from within if not then maybe that is the time to say we will leave this could be a negotiating hand. I don’t believe past negotiations have been very strong but contested by weak UK political management who have failed in their obligations to the British public. Also it should be noted that the UK stays as a member of the European Council.
Few of the general public understand the issues and my conclusion is that such a decision is for the elected parties to fight out in the elected houses with all their expert advisors and to make a parliamentary decision. Unfortunately we currently have a self-interested political system with little interest in discussing the options but more interested in scoring political points.
I have only mentioned some of my thoughts here and I sure the exit group could put up strong counter-arguments to these thoughts and that is what is needed. There is much wrong with Brussels management and the question needs to be asked can Brussels be forced to change. Many member states have substantial grievances with the EU. These grievances are also a reason why the EU will not be able to strike favorable deals with the UK, as such deals would open the floodgates. the EU can’t also offer a deal to the UK that is better than member states get.
As and Australian I first came to London some 36 years ago. In that time the changes have been considerable. The city has grown from its post war image and what was perceived to be the conservative english with an upper class plumb accent or the Australian image of what we affectionately and sometimes not so affectionately called pom to one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. The city has gone through the 60s revolution of the Carnaby street, Chelsea Austin Powers eras to the multi cultural vibrant metropolis of today with its world-class financial centre of the City of London, Mayfair and the South West playground of the super rich to the exciting multi racial areas of East and North East London. As a photographer I would like to tell the story of this great city set in the current day demonstrating how successful in business and setting up new lifestyles many of the immigrant communities have been and the changes taking place in the regions of the city set where the city has it roots the East End and North East End areas that once where deprived slums and now have become home for people from most parts of the globe mixed with some of the biggest business development in Europe.. Over the next few weeks I intend to publish images of London showing the diversity Multi racial nature of this great metropolis.
Photography is about telling the story sometimes in colour sometimes in the drama of black and white, what is the story behind an image in whatever medium works for that image subject. It can be your story not necessarily mine. The vast majority of people look at an image and see only a nice photo few look beyond seeking purpose. Knowledge that it is a nice looking snap of a family member does not have any ties to understanding, it is akin to amorality. The mass availability of phone cameras and general compacts has taken the general perception of photography into the world of the myopic monochrome and away from artistic achievement. Professional photographers now find it hard to achieve true value for their hard worked images, for in order to generate a truly creative image it still takes hard work and a creative mind. Photography of the highest quality still has its high place in the world of creative media. Like the master artists who use the right equipment in order to achieve their chosen objective the best photographers select the best tools for their creative path . The camera is only the brush. Pointing a phone and clicking and accidentally achieving a good snap is not a creative path, it is usually a good family or travel record. At my recent exhibition in London the curator Ruta Sasnauskaite cleverly devised a competition whereby people had to find certain information buried within the images. The winner was the one with the closest answers to the ones held by the curator. Everyone took part; the answers where not the issue what it did was to make the audience look into the photograph and not at it. Involvement with an image can give the same level of intellectual enjoyment that a fine piece of music does moving the viewer from knowledge to understanding.
Images by: Shane Aurousseau – Shane A
Exhibition of work by: Shane Aurousseau – Shane A Leyas 20 Camden High Street London NW1 0JH
Some time ago I wrote a blog on the issues of bad water management in Australia. A country that many believe is one of the driest in the world. In fact Australia has one of the largest catchments on the globe of fresh water in the Great Artesian Basin covering a third of the country.
The Artesian Basin can be mapped from the top north through Queensland into New South Wales and the Northern Territory. Yet water from the Darling, Murray river system one of the greatest river basins in the world is being plundered. This water system covers 3,375 Kilometers (2,097 miles) in length. The Darling, Murray basin spreads out over 1,061,469 sq Km (409,835 sq ml). Water is being pumped out of this great river system at an alarming rate an example is Cubbie station Queensland the largest irrigation property in the southern hemisphere damming off from the Darling river system more water than is in Sydney harbour. This water theft continues along the entire system into South Australia with large properties pumping these great rivers dry in many cases to irrigate crops that are not natural to the country, cotton being one such crop. This mismanagement is placing pressure on the natural environment and indigenous commodities. In the 1800s and early 1900s this great river system was alive with water traffic, steamers carried passengers, wool and grain .
Today especially the Darling river it is lucky if a rubber bath duck could navigate the system. Management of the Artisian basin would not only take pressure off the great systems of the Darling and Murray it would also open the potential of the great Australian inland. The plundering of the two great rivers of Australia in currently a major issue of anger towards the federal and state governments especially from the smaller property stations that need fresh water irrigation along the system. There is also anger from the aboriginal community who own many of the river bank rights in Australia. There is a great feeling in the Aboriginal community that the natural environment is being plundered by an uncaring ethnic European government thus widening the gap between these two indigenous groups.
The issue of Water management in Australia is not dissimilar to the problems faced by communities along the Colorado River in the United States.
The Colorado River starts in Rocky Mountain National Park along the jagged edge of the Continental Divide at over 12,000 feet of elevation. The river cascades, flows, tumbles, and rumbles through 1,450 miles of mountains, canyons, high plains, and low deserts on its journey to the Sea of Cortez
in Mexico. The entire Southwest United States completely depends on the Colorado River and its tributaries – the states of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming, and California use the river’s water for farming, drinking, growing lawns, and generating hydroelectric power.
Thirty million people in the Southwest use the Colorado River’s water for their material sustenance; millions more use the river itself for recreation and spiritual enjoyment. The river quenches our thirst, feeds our souls, enlivens our senses. And we are not the only inhabitants using this river – its waters, canyons, and habitats provide a vibrant but deeply threatened ecosystem for untold numbers of plant and animal species. All of these competing demands make the Colorado River one of the most contested and controlled rivers on Earth. Over the last decade, humans have drained all of the river’s water – all 5 trillion gallons – before it reaches the Sea of Cortez. The Colorado River is in very bad shape and deeply threatened.
To serve the needs of human populations, for the last decade the Colorado River has been completely drained dry by the time it reaches the Sea of Cortez. While the destruction of the river is a clear and obvious consequence of our actions, additional threats to the Colorado River – from its headwaters in Rocky Mountain National Park, all the way to its dry destiny near the Sea of Cortez – are increasing with each tick of the clock.
Climate change is looming, population growth is escalating, more dams and diversions are planned, species are on the brink of extinction, oil/gas/mineral exploration near the river is increasing, and invasive species are continuing their march up and down the river and its tributaries.
The Save the Colorado campaign won’t be able to address all of these threats, but it’s important to tell the whole story and begin the critical work of restoration. http://savethecolorado.org/
As a species we are extremely bad at managing our natural resources.
This may seem like a strange blog for an Australian Photographer, however in my checkered career I did a stint in the financial world in the City of London, including running hedge funds and as business development director for the European side of a New Zealand investment bank.
I learnt one thing during my association with the City there is little interest in clients the main myopic focus is on Fees and bonuses. This is why so many scandals are coming into the public domain; it’s all about making money in the short term then getting out. The LIBOR and Forex fixing by the banks using young traders, Nick Leeson (and his famous lucky Chinese 88888 account). This is not to mention some of the big US frauds, Madoff and Petters both multi-Billion Dollar frauds. The list of investors and feeder funds into Madoff is enormous including some of the biggest names in the banking and investment world with massive due diligence departments – just shows how greed can overrule Logic and management focus.
Scandals/ frauds are certainly coming thick and fast. There has been foreign exchange, precious metals, at least two rigging scandals about Libor(previously mentioned) and now an investigation into whether the banks rigged the liquidity auctions back at the heart of the financial crisis itself.
The Serious Fraud Office is investigating the Bank of England’s crisis-era liquidity auctions believed to relate to a £180bn funding scheme that was ended by the BoE in 2010.
On 24 September 2011, Oswald Grübel, the CEO of UBS, resigned “to assume responsibility for the recent unauthorized trading incident”, according to a memo to UBS staff. On 5 October Francois Gouws and Yassine Bouhara, the co-heads of Global Equities at UBS, also resigned. It later emerged that UBS had failed to act on a warning issued by its computer system about Adoboli’s trading.
As I mentioned they are coming thick and fast. All this naughtiness brings me to a culture that exists in many of the major financial centres, London, New York and others. The culture that exists in the great financial centres of the world is one of of hiring young people from major universities and elsewhere and allowing these youngsters to trade unsupervised in many cases billions of dollars. Youth will gamble so youth is hired and allowed to gamble the bank’s or fund’s assets. In reality these funds are not the bank’s or fund managers funds but the investors and until recently the account holders. This culture is one where the senior management know exactly what is happening and the bet is taken on youth. It the gamble goes wrong then youth is disowned in favor of management survival. If the the Kobe earthquake had not happened Nick Leeson may have been a hero – The bank knew exactly what was going on- ‘youth gambles’ and wise men(if all goes to plan) pick-up the profits.
Remember the arrogance of the ‘Flaming Ferraris’ five young City slickers, the son of Lord Archer among them, striding from a stretch limousine to whoop it up at their exclusive Christmas bash. These were the so-called ‘Flaming Ferraris’, the world’s most successful share traders – named after their favorite rum-and-Grand Marnier cocktail. The five would, it was said, bet up to £3 billion a time on a deal, and then expected to share a £5 million bonus. Like many of these young trader’s with little real life experience and the arrogance of youth it ended in tears.
Neil Behrmann’s Trader Jack addresses the City financial youth culture in a great yarn told with a considerable amount of accuracy. It really is a good read and is based on a very real and dangerous City culture.