Tag Archives: spiv capitalism

Let’s Talk About: Milo Yiannopoulos

The British Right have always been a pretty mean-spirited bunch. Not content with grabbing all they can for themselves and their pals, they’re bullies to a man (and woman). The new crop of right-wingers are even worse that the old-timers. Constantly hiding behind phrases like ‘free speech’, they believe that they should be able to express nasty, misogynistic, racist and homophobic views without being challenged. For them, the idea of free speech is “I say what I like and you shut the fuck up”. The Cat has been dealing with people like these since he began blogging in 2010. Most of them are the products of poor parenting, while others are simply bullies having learnt to exploit those weaker or different to themselves while attending their posh boarding schools. It’s in their DNA, you see.

I was reading this blog by Kate Smurthwaite on the New Internationalist website in which she describes the relentless trolling and bullying by men who still haven’t managed to grow up. One of these men is Milo Yiannopolous, a self-styled web entrepreneur who has been implicated in the so-called #GamerGate controversy.

Smurthwaite has received 1,700 abusive tweets, some of which threaten rape and others that wish her dead. Call me old-fashioned, but I wouldn’t wish someone dead on Twitter because I disagree with them or dislike them. I can’t stand George Osborne and I call him a liar, but I don’t wish him dead – even though his government’s policies (which read like they were formulated after a massive cocaine binge) have been responsible for numerous deaths. Here’s what Milo Minderbinder tweeted.

milo minderbinder

The Cat has never taken kindly to bullies. They deserve his utmost contempt. “Bullies” as my mum used to tell me “are cowards”. Minderbinder is no different. In fact, he’s worse. He hides behind a keyboard, popping out occasionally to appear on programmes like BBC3’s Free Speech,  in which he wriggles in his seat, throws his head from side to side and refuses to make eye contact with fellow guests, while spewing vitriol on any subject put before him. He is especially nasty when it comes to women’s rights and anti-racism.

It comes as no surprise to The Cat that Minderbinder’s pal, James Delingpole, has also been involved in GamerGate. Delingtroll is the British editor of Breitbart, a right-wing news site that’s based in the United States. Like Minderbinder, Delingtroll hates anyone who’s tolerant but he especially hates feminists, Greens and left-wingers, who are referred to variously as ‘feminazis’, ‘libtards’ or ‘leftards’ (It’s a portmanteau of left/liberal and retard. Geddit?), and tends to label anyone who protests against fascists and racists as “liberal fascists”. Inverted logic or what? Minderbinder also writes for Breitbart, where he specialises in anti-feminist attack pieces like this one.  If you think that’s bad, try his opinion piece on the spree-killer, Elliot Rodger, who killed women at random because he was apparently knocked back.

Minderbinder wrote:

Anxieties about those of other sexes, sexual orientations and races are often crudely labeled “Right-wing” by snobbish metropolitan newspapers.

So, not only is this article a thinly-veiled anti-feminist attack piece, it also piles on the drama and the paranoia. It gets worse too.

So it is the games we should look to for insight into his condition. It’s understandable that after a tragedy those left should seek answers–and depressingly predictable that the feminist Left should seize on his manifesto as further ammunition for their insatiable, misandristic war of attrition.

“Misandristic”? Come again? The response of men, who have neither love for women nor sympathy for feminism, is to claim that feminists are “man-hating”. It’s lazy and simplistic. It’s also anti-intellectual. Minderbinder, who failed to finish his university courses at Manchester and Cambridge, appears to have landed on his feet, thus proving that the spoilt, rich scions of Britain’s grande-bourgeoisie don’t have to work hard academically, because they know they will have an easy life. They either inherit great wealth or they get a job with daddy’s firm. Whatever happens to them, they know that they will never have to draw the dole. The vain and conceited Minderbinder is one of them.

I haven’t named Yiannopoulos (formerly Milo Wagner), “Milo Minderbinder” for nothing. Those of you who have read Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 or seen the film, will recall that the character Milo Minderbinder is a war profiteer; the satirical representation of unbridled capitalism. The real Milo Minderbinder isn’t interested in anyone but himself. Yiannopoulos is similar… only more conceited.

Minderbinder’s early venture into the web was an online publication called The Kernel.  He ended up being sued by the Employment Tribunal for not paying his contributors. It also appears that he’s good at making enemies. The Kernel was forced to close and was bought out by another company. This is from The Guardian.

Yiannopoulos’s acidic approach to many of the companies featured in the Kernel has made a number of enemies in the London startup scene, some of whom have contacted the Guardian privately to complain about what they saw as negative coverage. “They’re afraid to say so in public,” Steve Karmeinsky of NetTek told the Guardian. “He’s got a mouthpiece that he can’t be fired.

There’s more…

On 18 July he had a very public spat on Twitter with the blogger Zoe Margolis, author of The Girl With A One Track Mind books. That evening she complained on Twitter about a piece he had written for the Kernel about women in technology,tweeting that “someone needs to point out what a sexist, misogynistic prick [Yiannopoulos] is”.

I am pointing out what a sexist and misogynist prick he is and I wish more would do the same. Here’s some more.

From the end of 2010 he ran a project called the Startup 100 for the Daily Telegraph, but only three sponsors were secured to cover the costs of the awards ceremony in April 2011, and there was a row in May 2011 when Mike Butcher of TechCrunch said that he had given his casting vote for the winner to short-term loan company Wonga rather than the company that was awarded the prize, Spotify.

The fallout from the awards is understood to have left the Telegraph nursing a loss running into tens of thousands of pounds. Wrong Agency, Yiannopoulos’s company which he used to run the event, was dissolved in May 2011.

He’s a spiv and people like him  are often called ‘wealth-creators’ and ‘entrepreneurs’ by this government. Mind you, Grant Shapps is Tory party chairman, so there you go.

Minderbinder used to call himself “Milo Wagner”. The Cat doesn’t know if that’s his real name or whether he chose the surname because of his love of Wagnerian operas. One thing I do know is that he has a fetish for Iron Crosses. He’s also a self-loathing gay.  This is taken from his website.

You probably don’t agree. But I think we can all agree that, unless you live in the cosseted bubble of a liberal metropolis, the reality of growing up gay for most people is a horribly lonely, miserable experience. (If you don’t know, take it from me: it is.)Is being homosexual “wrong”? Something somewhere inside of me says Yes.

Later in the piece, he erroneously claims that the struggle for gay rights “has been won”. Someone should tell UKIP and the majority of the Tory Party that.

But the battle for gay rights has been won. All these preening poofs in public life do is make life more difficult for regular young gay people by reinforcing the stereotypes about gay behaviour: reminding a struggling child’s myopic dad that queers are uppity, in-your-face, camp-as-tits faggots who’ll rape you as soon as look at you.

Self-loathing, damned self-loathing. It turns out that he also hates lesbians.

Charming.
Here’s Minderbinder defending Farage and arguing against Equality laws.  He claims that the “straight white guy is losing out”, because of such legislation. Playing the victim is so undignified, but it’s only to be expected of people who enjoy positions of privilege by dint of the circumstances of their birth. For them, inequality is ‘natural’ and should be reinforced.
His replies are typical of so-called ‘classical liberals”, who believe that racism begins and ends at a person’s skin.

The question The Cat would like to ask is “Why is Minderbinder given so much air time”? He is no more qualified than you or I to comment on politics or anything else.

Here he is smirking and trolling the women in the The Big Questions audience on 15 March.

He appears at around 18.00 on this clip.

In today’s blog for Breitbart, he defends his anti-intellectualism, misogyny and misanthropy. It was clearly written in reply to Kate Smurthwaite’s article. Here’s a taster:

Critical theory
Horseshit

Death threats
Mean tweets

Dominant culture
The stuff people actually like. Not to be confused with taxpayer-funded lesbian performance art, which would surely break all Box Office records if only more people got to see it

Equality
Used to mean giving everyone a fair chance; now means enforcing 50-50 quotas in jobs women don’t want to do in order to punish men for being good at maths and physics

Feminism
Misandry masquerading as a fight against oppression and prejudice on the basis of sex; what unattractive men and women do to get attention

This is a man who hasn’t grown up but this is also a man who clearly hates women. I know nothing of his early life, save for his Wikipedia entry. However, from what I’ve seen of him so far, Minderbinder shouldn’t be allowed outdoors without a chaperone.

The British sense of ‘fair play’ is a myth. Just look at Minderbinder, Delingtroll and the Tory Party if you don’t believe me.

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Filed under Ideologies, Let's Talk About, racism, Sexism, Society & culture

Telegraph Comment of the Week (#14)

You’re going to love this comment. Man, is this a doozy. I found this comment on one of The Lyin’ King’s (Dan Hannan) blogs.

The blog, titled “Capitalism: the environment’s best friend” tries to make the claim that unfettered, that is to say laissez-faire, capitalism is best for the environment. Hannan has posted a video of himself speaking in the European Parliament.  in which he claims that capitalism is giving us “cleaner air” (sic). To this he adds, “the best thing to happen to the environment was the collapse of the Berlin Wall”… just sit back and take that in for a moment. I know, barking. Isn’t it?

Now to the comment. This one is from “spencerisright” but I think “spencer” is a little deluded in thinking that he (and it has to be a ‘he’) is “right”.

spenceriswrong

Yes, “spencer” thinks that the prospect of “increased co2” will spell a bumper harvest for the world’s farmers. What “spenceriswrong” has failed to consider is the fact that increased levels of CO2 will kill humanity and all animal life. And they say that right-wingers aren’t thick? Pull the other one.

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Filed under Media, Telegraph Comment of the Week, Tory press

My Conversation With Thames Water

Or, to be more precise, my conversation with Thames Water’s Customer Insight and Resolution Team. Come again? “Customer Insight and Resolution”? Meaningless corporate speak, just like the reply I received from Thames Water regarding my complaint about their tax avoidance and proposal to increase charges. My replies appear in italics.

Water services

Dear Mr Hell

Thank you for your e-mail of 27 August 2013.

Tax

Recent press coverage of our tax liabilities has not adequately explained how infrastructure investment is actively incentivised by the Government through the longstanding policy of granting capital allowances to provide tax relief. This approach ultimately permits corporation tax to be deferred, not avoided.

This is largely impenetrable corporate-speak. However I shall do my best to translate: what you’re saying is that the government has effectively handed you a license to rip off customers and avoid paying your fair share of tax. Infrastructure investment should be made by those with the money… that’s your shareholders. They (supposedly) invest in your company. I do not. I have no shares in your company. Investors are supposed to invest. They’re supposed to ‘take the rough with the smooth’. Shareholding is a risky business and the value of shares can increase and decrease from moment to moment. One of the risks is the cost of keeping the business going. That means investment, but it seems as though your rentier capitalist shareholders don’t want to shoulder their responsibilities. But your point that tax is “deferred” sounds rather misleading. Either you pay tax or you don’t. I believe it is the latter.

Recent press coverage has created the impression that we’ve deliberately sought to escape paying our fair share of taxes, which is simply not the case.

Excuses, excuses. It’s easy to blame the press for your company’s greed. Thames Water has avoided paying corporation tax and I would suggest that it has done so deliberately. It certainly didn’t happen by accident. This year, Ofwat described the sums of money avoided by your company as “morally questionable”. Now you’re not going to tell me that the regulator is misrepresenting Thames Water are you? Here’s what the chair of Ofwat said:

 “In the complex offshore ownership of some [water] companies, a good number use high coupon shareholder loans to improve equity returns from the regulated entity and apparently to reduce tax liability. This is not for Ofwat, but may be morally questionable in a vital public service.

 We have not yet found a regulated water company that fully complies with the UK corporate governance code or satisfactorily explains why not”.

We haven’t been required to pay much corporation tax in recent years because the Government’s tax system provides for tax relief on capital investment, effectively deferring when it’s paid. The tax is deferred, not avoided, and there is currently nearly £1bn of deferred tax on our balance sheet, which will be paid in future years.

You’re repeating yourself here to some extent. I’d like for you to point me in the direction of the relevant HMRC framework. But it’s convenient that there’s an HMRC mechanism that allows you to avoid paying tax, when people like me have no choice but to pay the full amount. But hey, didn’t Thames Water receive a massive tax rebate of £5 million last year? That’s more than I could ever hope to receive in two lifetimes!

The HMRC mechanism for providing tax relief on future investment is known as capital allowances. The aim is to encourage firms like us to invest in modernising vital plant and machinery by providing tax relief on the investment. These allowances are granted automatically by HMRC to companies making relevant expenditure.

Interesting, yet you still increase water charges. There is no excuse and furthermore, it isn’t as if I can change water supplier. Thames Water has its customers over a proverbial barrel and it knows this.

Our Shareholders

The water industry is set up to make a profit so that we can carry out much-needed improvements to our water mains, sewers and other facilities. We also need to borrow a lot of money to help fund this work. In the same way you’d expect a bank to pay you interest on your savings, it’s only fair that we pay a return – or dividend – to shareholders for letting Thames Water use their money.

Rubbish. Water is seen as an easy way to make money. Everyone needs it to survive. Your analogy with interest paid on a savings account is over-simplistic and dishonest. If you could charge people for air, no doubt you’d do that too. Ordinary savings accounts offer little more than 3% these days. The truth of the matter is that Thames Water wouldn’t bother with improvements if the regulator didn’t force it to act. Most companies ask their shareholders to invest and at the risk of repeating myself, your shareholders clearly don’t take their responsibilities seriously and are more concerned with making vast sums of money at our expense.

By any meaningful benchmark, our directors are not overpaid.  They run a multi-million pound investment programme, delivering essential improvements of benefit to both customers and the environment.

What is a “meaningful benchmark”? You also keep repeating the word “investment” as if it were some sort of word of power. If shareholders invest in your company, then they should be required to pay up. Besides, as I indicated earlier, the regulator forces you to carry out improvements. Otherwise, Thames Water wouldn’t bother. And yes, your directors are paid handsomely…obscenely so I’d say. Indeed last year, your CEO, Martin Baggs salary was £425,00 and who knows how much his bonus will be next year? Last year it was £418,000, this year it was £274,000. That’s considerably more than the directors of the old water boards earned. You know something? In all the jobs that I’ve done in my 36 year working life I have never once received a bonus. Your company is practically allowed to print its own money.

Thames water is one of Britain’s top 100 international companies.  Globally we employ over 18,000 people serving 70 million customers in over 20 countries.  As such we are a significant contributor to the success of UK Plc.

Is this supposed to impress me? It’s PR guff. Then you close the paragraph with “UK plc”. The United Kingdom is not a “public limited company”, it’s a nation-state that allows companies like yours to cream off profits and increase charges arbitrarily. It’s what is commonly referred to these days as “spiv capitalism”.

Managing water and sewerage for our 13 million customers in London and the Thames Valley is a complex business that continues to require major investment.  To ensure that it is effectively managed, we have to offer remuneration that attracts and retains staff capable of leading this important work

So what am I supposed to do? Applaud you? Bow, scrape and tug my forelock? No. I am not alone when it comes to being appalled by Thames Water’s behavior. You increase water charges, while millions of gallons of water are lost in leaks every year – so much for your infrastructure improvements.  But it’s the way your company has told people like me that I have to pay for your bad debts. They’re your debts, you pay for them. I notice that you’ve not bothered to address this point. Why?

I hope this information is of use.  However, if you have any questions, please feel free to call me on 0845-6410033, extension 61594.

I’m not phoning an 0845 number, which is expensive when using a Virgin Media fixed line. That’s the final insult.

Yours sincerely

Chanèl Dziuban

Case Manager

Customer Insight & Resolution

Readers, I don’t expect a reply. But what a patronizing load of twaddle. Thames Water continues to increase its charges and tells us that we have to pay off their bad debts, while they laugh all the way to the bank. Its CEO is paid handsomely and receives a massive bonus each year. And it wants more of our money? Go to hell.

Here’s what Tony Montana would say:

Renationalize water NOW!

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Filed under Thames Water, Utility companies

Another Reason to Hate Virgin Media

Usain Bolt should be ashamed of himself.

Not only does Virgin Media make loads of money through a variety of hidden charges (late payment charge, non- Direct Debit charge and so on), they also don’t recognize unions.

I remember reading how Virgin Media had derecognized the Communication Workers Union (CWU) last year.

Since Virgin Media made the outrageous declaration before Christmas, the union and its reps at the company have been out all over the country, despite the snow and ice, distributing leaflets, explaining the situation and encouraging staff to join the union. CWU has also launched a special offer for new members at a discounted rate of £4.99 a month for their first year.

This has resulted in a boost in membership as staff at Virgin Media increasingly realise the benefit of an independent, democratically accountable trade union over a staff forum set up by the company.

Union Home reported that:

Virgin Media bombarded its staff with company propaganda in letters, emails and website messages, at compulsory briefings with company directors and even phonecalls from managers to employees who had not yet voted. How did they know? Was this not an anonymous process? And if managers knew who had voted, did they also know which way they voted? These were some of the concerns being passed to us by employees. The company did allow us a short statement on their intranet (described as ‘very difficult to find’ by one employee). We’re told that managers are receiving a break-down of the voting results to see who got the ‘right’ result for the company. What they will do with the information is anyone’s guess.

This is the modus operandi of a union-busting company. They disseminate anti-union propaganda among the workforce and coerce them into accepting inferior pay and working conditions through a combination of lies, smears, bullying and intimidation.  They even held a referendum… it was rigged.

For years, Richard Branson has cultivated a media image as a cuddly capitalist who looks after his workers.  But capitalists rarely care for their workers and Branson, who throws a strop when people refuse to bend over for him, has been employing union-busters for years.

Here’s Branson pleading with workers to throw away their rights. Note the easy smarm. Note the oily charm.

This article from The Daily Mirror shows just how ruthless and grasping Virgin Media is.

A broadband bill has gone viral online after a man was charged an extra £10 – for being DEAD.

Furious Jim Boyden posted a photograph of his late father-in-law’s Virgin Media bill on Facebook after the company added a fine for late payment.

The image was accompanied by a message to Virgin which apologised for his father-in-law having “the unheard of nerve to be dead and therefore being unable to pay you.”

The picture, posted on Monday, has now been shared by more than 84,000 times.

The bill breakdown shows “D.D Denied-Payer deceased” next to a charge of £63.89, referring to the fact that the dead man’s bank had declined the payment.

As a result, Virgin Media added a “late payment charge” of £10 to the bill.

This blog from Nicholas Shaxson tells us that Virgin Enterprises, the company that sells the Virgin brand to other companies, so they can pose as fully-fledged Virgin companies, moved its operations from London to Geneva.

How important is this kind of abusive tax practice to the Virgin empire? Well, it’s hard to know exactly, but in 2002 Branson was quoted in this way:

“Virgin’s offshore status has been crucial to its development: it allowed money to move from business to business without massive tax liabilities. “If we had not done it the way that we did, Virgin would be half the size that it is today,” argues Branson.”

So overall the rich get richer, the poor get poorer markets get distorted, and there is no net benefit to the world of any kind. Quite the opposite.

People like Branson get awards all the time. No doubt he’s a good businessman in some ways. But this stuff counts as a serious, serious black mark against his name, during these times of national strife.

What is interesting about this is the comments under the Telegraph story – readers are generally a right-wing bunch, but most of the ones, at least at the top, are unremittingly hostile to Branson’s move. Perhaps that comes more from feelings of patriotism than anything else, but still, it’s interesting.

Even if they’ve relocated to Geneva, isn’t it time Virgin’s offices were occupied?

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Filed under Society & culture, Trade Unions, workers rights