February 01, 2014

Cynic

Since the beginning of this year we are being bombarded with news that the Economic Crisis is over. And even it is not completely over, we are economically on the 'up'.

I have my doubts.

The former public, and now very much private, utility companies are still busy raking in the money. Water, electricity, health insurance, public transport, cable companies: we were led to believe that privatisation was necessary, if not crucial. The free market should, no would lead to lower rates, lower tariffs, lower premiums, lower charges. Instead, these have gone up and up. Excuses were sought - or made up. In the last few years the crisis and the falling revenue on investments was a good and much used excuse. In 2013 local bus fares went up by 15%. "Catching up with the increase in the cost of living" was the excuse. This year they are up again, "to be able to guarantee a good service to our customers" is the excuse this time. In the meantime salaries have not followed suit. After years of 0% increase a miserable 1% was graciously granted, - which was amply compensated by the abolition of privileges and benefits.

Meanwhile the banks, the main perpetrators in the economy scam, are humbly offering apologies for the prolonged extortion of their customers, and have spent the whole of last year proclaiming that their main concern from now on will be the service to these same customers.
Words. And words alone.
The actions show another picture: interest rates on saving accounts are lower than the rate of inflation, on loans (if indeed the customer can demonstrate that he or she is worthy of such a great honour) they are still as high as ever. Here in the low countries the banks are almost all under the control of the state, but this public control has not led to a more public friendly approach. When it comes to the security of online banking - for example - we, the customers, are more than ever seen as incompetent idiots; and I am convinced the next step will be that we as customers will have to prove that a sudden cleaning-out of our account was not due to our own stupidity.

To those who think I am exaggerating I would like to say "NSA". For which hardcore addict of conspiracy theories would have conjured up what has now come to light about the big-brother activities of this American public organisation? And if you ask me, we have only scratched the surface.

On the other hand, maybe I am turning into a sad old cynic. Maybe I should nurture my more naive side, encourage my 'inner child'.

And that brings us to the music of this post. Isn't it tempting to romanticise about an unspoilt, 'primitive' life in the wild? Living off the earth, being one with nature. The simple existence of the hunter-gatherer.

The music captured on this brilliant cassette and recorded in the central Kalahari by Arthur Krasnilnikoff in 1987 (all tracks except B1) and 1992 (B1) does everything to coax the listener into the idyll. The delicate plucking of the mouthbow and all the other out-of-this-world, magical instruments, the innocence of the singing, but above all the unedited, untouched, uninterfered and intimate character of these great recordings: they all combine to make you want to believe the fairytale. Even the bleating of the goats and the bumping into the microphone contribute to a miraculous feeling of well-being, of paradise, where life is simple and easy.

N!oakwe - Music of the Central Kalahari

But of course life is neither simple nor easy. The hunter-gatherer has been under attack for generations, and the music on this fantastic cassette is just a relic, from another age, another world, as is demonstrated in this documentary from 1980...

N!ai, the story of a !Kung woman
(this video was available until March 15 only!).

EDIT February 15, 2014: The video has been replaced by a version with a different sound codec (mp3), as several people indicated they were having problems with the AAC codec I used in the initial version.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree, while our economy might seem to be 'on the up', it is still not constructed in a way that is fair. However, i wonder if when interest rates would be the same as on savings as on loans, it would be fair as well?
Reference: I Want The Earth plus 5%

But don't turn into an old cynic, not good for your health, nor nurture your naive 'inner child', but nurture your wisdom by asking questions like "who will it benefit in the long run?".

WrldServ said...

I don't think I suggested interest rates on savings and loans should be the same. But the gap between the percentages is too high, certainly in the light of the absurdly low rate on savings.

Asking the question "who will it benefit" may, however, lead to a cynic view on life...

Anonymous said...

Hello, you are a very kind old man, if I may say so, to hit back with such beautiful music and video. Here in the Netherlands the profitmaking things like telephone, tv, electricity were sold out in the nineties and naughties, leaving the government with loss-, or non-profit enterprises. It is no wonder we pay the toll.
I haven't thanked you enough lately, so THANK YOU VERY MUCH for all the beauty you present against the uglyness of our Blessed Modern World

luc houtkamp said...

Hello,

Thanks for posting this!
Only, I don't get the sound working of the !kung movie.
Can you check if it is working?

Warm greetings,

Luc Houtkamp

WrldServ said...

@luc: The audio is AAC. Send me an email via the address in my profile, and I'll send you a version with MP3 audio.

luc houtkamp said...

Will do, Thanks!

cushpot said...

Unfortunately in this brave new world I think it's impossible not to be cynical when you really question and look at what's happening beneath the surface.
On a positive note though, it simply has to change if we're to make it as a species, as free market capitalism as it is now will eat the planet. Like Buckminster Fuller once said, it's Utopia or oblivion.
Anyway, thanks for the shares man :-)

cushpot said...

Also, I should point out, I've just finished dl'ing the doc but there's no sound. I don't know if the problem's just at my end though?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recent posts, it is great to have you back! I am truly indebted to you for learning so many things and discovering amazing music!

As for the world's current affairs, I would only like to point out that everything looks way, way worse outside Europe. Any unfortunate person who has to deal with telecoms and banks operating in Brazil, such as myself, would do anything to hire their counterparts in Europe instead.

And please notice it doesn't have to do with the company's nationality. I can tell you that the quality of services provided by European companies here certainly is no match to what the same company offers there. Around here, and I am sure in many other Latin-American and African countries, one practices real capitalism: no leashes! For instance, right now Siemmens and Alstom, among others, are involved in obscure 8-digit (!) dealings concerning São Paulo's subway...

Anonymous said...

What you write about your country is exactly the same story here in the UK. Perhaps you miss out the odd thing that outrages me even more, so that you don't appear to be labouring a point. A number of our privatised banks that still need propping up by the taxpayer have asked the government if they can pay 200% bonuses to 'key' employees. When put on the spot the government changes the subject. My reading. So there going to let them then.

What I feel the governments in Europe have done is use the recession to re jig the whole economy,public spending down & never to return, wages at basic level, so that in future we will expect the rich to be richer & more powerful & we should just be grateful to have a job. Strange thing is the rich seem to have so much they haven't enough time to spend it. Give more to the poor & they'll need to spend it. I thought that's how capitalism (that I'm no great fan of), thrived. Then there's lack of social mobility blah blah blah.
At least the musics good

NGONI said...

This world is much the same in any country, which is known by crises, it is not otherwise a deliberate impoverishment caused by speculative techniques, the aim is to strip citizens of stability, then all your time is spent on survival, and do not have time to protest.
The population, previously known as the First World, are no longer needed for production, the economy is decentralized.
Meanwhile we continue to hear lies about the crisis, and many other stupid things.
We know that lying is a weapon of mass destruction, while trying to survive at this stage, take refuge in beauty.

After downloading the movie twice, I have not gotten to hear sound from any player, even changing operating system.