Tag Archives: Survival of the Fittest

The Continuing Greed of the Few

A short time ago, I posted an article inspired by what Richard Mabey had written in a very old copy of the BBC Wildlife Magazine. He spoke of Darwin’s law of “The Survival of the Fittest” and explained how it had been misinterpreted by those in the financial world whose only thought was to make vast sums of money for themselves and if possible, to exterminate the opposition. I extended this idea into our everyday world of shopping, and posited the idea that one day we may finish up with only four or five gigantic supermarket chains and no more interesting small shops.
At the time, I wrote a sequel to the original article which I did not post because I thought it would be considered not just too political but too extreme. However, events today have changed my mind and I realise that unfortunately and sadly, I was not in the slightest bit mistaken.
Here in Great Britain many people trundle slowly onwards through their lives, grumbling a little, but for the most part not doing too badly. Our government tells us that inflation is progressing at the wonderfully low rate of between 1% and 2%, although most people are not stupid enough to believe this. Their own experience when they go to buy things is absolutely the contrary of what the government says is happening. We are not helped either by the cartel of various brands of petrol, all of whom fail miserably to pass on to the customer any diminution in the price that they pay for crude oil.
Indeed, our society is now moving slowly into the world of zero hours contracts, where people sit at home with no real job and wait to be summoned into work just for an afternoon, or for a couple of hours in the morning. Such employees have few rights and no sick pay. The use of food banks is increasing and a growing number of people are being given the necessary accreditation by charitable organisations to receive free food donated by well-wishers. House prices are, of course, absolutely ridiculous. Hardly anybody can afford a house, because they are so unbelievably expensive. Certainly no young person starting off in an ordinary job could possibly buy their own house. An increasing number of especially young people cannot afford to rent a house either, and live at home with their parents. Starting salaries are often so poor that a very large number of graduates are leaving university, struggling to get their first job, and then staying with their parents who will have to support them just as if they were still away studying.
The most incredible icing on this catastrophic cake was the announcement today on BBC One Teletext of a statement by the Incomes Data Services.
It is politically so provocative that as far as I can see, it was only displayed prominently on our screens for three or four hours.

Apparently, the directors of Britain’s top 100 companies, listed in the FTSE 100 Index, now earn 120 times the average salary of their employees. Despite the appalling recession which we are continually told about, this marks a huge escalation in executive pay. In the year 2000, directors’ salaries were a mere 47 times those of their employees but since then the median total earnings for FTSE 100 bosses has risen by 278%, while the corresponding rise in total earnings for   ordinary full-time employees was a mere 48%. The typical director of one of these hundred companies earns an average of £2.43 million per year while the average wage of their employees is £27,000. This year alone, directors’ pay rose by a minimum of 20%.

Ordinary people have seen their wages continually eroded by inflation of only 2% or 3% because the majority of wage increases are less than that. This week, for example, NHS employees staged a four hour strike because they had been refused a 1% pay increase as this would be too expensive.
With all this in mind, I do not feel that my sequel article is quite as extreme as I first feared.

So here goes. It began with a swipe at M.P.s and the scandal of their expenses…

Will people always care as little as they seem to now about who benefits from the way the country is run? Will they always accept the situation, and just go on watching “Strictly Come Dancing”?

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Will the eight million people whose families are only one monthly pay cheque away from severe monetary problems always be happy to walk along the cliff edge of finncial catastrophe ?

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And as the poor get poorer, will they all stand idly by and watch as the tiny minority ensure that they will always get richer and richer?

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What will happen to the people who work for the minimum wage, but dream of one day earning a living one? And when a job is advertised and two hundred people apply to work in an ordinary café, what will the other 199 do?

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Will poor people who cannot feed their families, and who are reduced to visiting food banks accept that situation for ever?
Will the people who cannot afford heating costs in the winter, always shiver idly by and accept their inevitable fate?


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Will they always be happy just to hold open the doors of luxury cars, like modern day servants in “Downton Abbey”?

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What is so very bad about sharing things? Why must the world be organised so that a significant minority remain so rich and so greedy? And why should the vast majority spend all their time struggling to live pleasantly?


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What is so unacceptable about their being warm and living in a house that they own, with children who receive a decent education and stand a realistic chance of real progress in their life?

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Are the very rich too stupid to see what may happen?
This film shows the power of the crowd. Together, people can achieve anything. In this case, it is for good.


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The Greed of the Few

A few months ago, I went into a Salvation Army charity shop, which was surprisingly crowded with people looking for second hand clothes.  I was able to buy a very large pile of old BBC wildlife magazines which dated back some six or seven years to around 2007. It was interesting to see that all the concerns those few short years ago such as worries about climate change, the loss of wildlife habitat and the extinction of various rare species were pretty much exactly the same as they are now.
It was extremely interesting, though, to read an article by a gentleman called Richard Mabey who at that time was the vice president of the Open Society.
Richard-Mabey- ccccccccccccccccccccMr.Mabey’s writing stood out from the rest as being so very different and so very perceptive. He wrote, for example, of the richness, the biodiversity, of the English language, which he said, prospers because of its very complexity and because so many words have so many different shades of meaning.
He then developed Charles Darwin’s phrase, the “Survival of the Fittest”. Quite rightly, he made the point that, in the past, this simplistic idea has been used to justify Communist oppression, worldwide slavery and the persecution of the Jews. Mr Mabey extended this idea though, to the present day, with the observation that the phrase is nowadays being used to excuse the ruthless greed that runs unchecked through the world economic system. One banker recently proclaimed, for example, that the forces of the free market are merely the “Survival of the Fittest”.
sharks xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxThe most interesting point then made though, is that in nature, predation apart, one member of a species will hardly ever prove its fitness by directly killing another, weaker, member of that species. Mr Mabey argued, for example, that few, if any, animals indulge in bloody combat. Birds do not physically fight each other, but compete with song. Snakes may wrestle, but they do not usually use their fangs, and deer will not prolong their potentially life-threatening arguments, if their opponent exposes his unprotected flanks in a gesture of surrender.
When Darwin observed his famous finches in the Galapagos Islands, the thirteen different types of bird were not trying to eliminate each other forever, but instead were living more or less happily alongside each other.
They may have had differently sized or shaped bills, but all the birds were capable of exploiting slightly different food sources. Some birds drank nectar from cactuses. Some birds ate cactus seeds. Some birds stripped bark or chewed leaves or sought out ticks to eat. But all of these creatures were managing to survive alongside each other.
fich fanccccccccccccccccccccccccccc
Different species will all be forced to fight their environment, but in the main, they are able to coexist together because of only slight differences between each one of them, differences which in the course of their lives, will always prevent direct competition.

darwin finches ccccccc
In contrast, as Richard Mabey points out, the lack of regulation in financial markets merely allows the ambition and greed of a very small, very privileged and very hostile few to flourish without limit and without restraint. The financial world is then dominated by a very small number of what in nature would be seen as an aggressive super species. And it is ridiculous, of course, to justify this sad situation by bringing Charles Darwin into the argument.
Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is the complete opposite of this. Evolution produces tens of thousands, if not more, separate species, all of which to a greater or lesser extent, can exist alongside each other.
And to apply Richard Mabey’s arguments to the everyday human sphere, it does not take a major genius to work out that we may eventually finish up with, for example, just three or four gigantic supermarkets who will be able to dictate completely what we should buy and what we should eat.
4 supermarkets_cccccccThere will be few specialist small businesses, selling their own spicy sausages made in the back of the shop, or cakes that the owner’s wife and family have made at home. There will be no handmade wooden toys for children, built by local craftsmen using their ideas as to what will be liked by their little customers. No health food shops selling organic food made by workers’ co-operatives. No butchers selling local meat and supporting local farmers by paying them a proper and decent price for what they have produced. No market stall which sells both British and Indian made fabrics, which young dressmakers can make into whatever they want.
Farmers will be driven to abandon all idea of leaving untended spaces where wild animals, birds, insects and butterflies can live. How can they afford to do this when a major supermarket offers them just four pence for a cauliflower, a price recently quoted to me by a Cornish farmer?cultivated fieldTake it even further and we will have a situation where bankers, whatever their performance, will be able to award themselves gigantic bonuses every single year. Vast corporations will employ armies of people, the majority of whom will be earning the minimum wage, which is itself lower, of course, than the living wage.
And all this because of greed-stricken people, programmed only to make the maximum amount of money, with precious few reasons that they can remember about why they have to do it.


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