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WiFi-styles of The Rich & Infamous February 13, 2011

Posted by markswill in About me, Media, Politics, Schmolitics.

After this I shall cease apologising for the long delays between blogs, not least because it arrogantly assumes that my reader gives a damn. It might also suggest that I’ve been so damn busy doing Far More Important Things that I couldn’t be arsed to get down to some blue sky blogging. Which would of course be a lie. In fact since my last digital wittering the main focus of my life has been sunning myself on the posh Caribbean island of Mustique, bookended by a rather agreeable day or two in London. However that won’t deter me from dredging up aspects of that experience that I can convolute into clever-clogs sophistry.

In the case of Mustique itself, which is – quite literally – a millionaires’ playground, I might draw parallels with what is going on in the UK economy and, of course, the political turmoil in the Middle East. Hold your incredulity for a mo’ though, because I must also say that it’s a fantastic place to stay if only for the semi-tropical climate, the wonderful snorkeling, deserted white beaches and the wild-life, not least the abundance of tortoises. And although it’s a close run thing, the humans who owns the swanky houses there are not uniformly up their own arses, but it’s interesting to witness the seriously rich minus too many opportunities to flaunt their wealth because the lack of roads to drive their fuck-off cars, restaurants to drop a few hundred quid on a meal and the near universal uniform of swimming cossies, shorts and sandals prove to be a great leveler.

That apart, Mustique is that rare case of what one might call a benign commercial democracy. Territorially, the island is part of St. Vincent & The Grenadines but is owned by the Mustique Company whose shareholders are home owners who live on it. The Company is responsible for maintaining its limited infrastructure, of which water and electricity supply are the most crucial, and also the welfare of the hundreds of workers who mainly live on St Vincent but arrive by ferry to spend weeks at a time servicing the needs of the shareholders. This works quite well inasmuch as most of them are well paid by Caribbean standards and if not boarded on-site with their employers, have homes-from-homes in a neat little village where the Friday night jump-up is just about the best place for whitey to get rum-punched and make an arse of oneself on a dance floor anywhere in the world.

And just for a moment, it did occur to me that if  certain countries were run in such a manner, there mightn’t be so much political hand-wringing and financial angst in the world. Say, for example, a company ran the U.K. and every property owner had shares in it proportional to the size of their home and income, a company which was obliged to provide most of the government services we take for granted, and those shareholders had to pay – again proportionally based on their wealth – a tithe to make this possible. They’d have to make damn sure that things were run properly and the rest of the citizenry, i.e. those who didn’t own property and worked for the enterprises owned by those who did, or one of the facilities owned by the governing company, would either work for a wage which took into account the provision of services and infrastructure, or paid a simplified income tax which achieved the same end.

Yes, I know it’s overly simplistic and open to graft and corruption, but in my experience well run companies are inherently better than poorly run governments… and I’ve yet to come across a well-run government. If Cameron’s risible ‘Big Society’, which is patently a cynical effort to mask cutbacks with charity run social services (thus letting the financial sector which caused the deficit off the hook), doesn’t work – and it won’t – then a benign commercial democracy might seem a palatable alternative… at least to die-hard Tories who by their very nature aren’t of course benign. Or democratic. (‘Course if the coalition really wanted to cut the deficit, they’d simply cancel Trident… but that’s perhaps the subject of a whole ‘nother blog).

Not that I can see the Egyptian military going for such a system anytime soon, but I’m sure that we’re all excited by the relatively peaceful ousting of yet another corrupt despot, if not wary of what will happen next and its impact on this volatile and troubled region. Talking of which…

Being in Mustique when it all kicked off, I was unaware of the Egyptian uprising until it was in its final phase which brought home to me how strange, if not pleasant, it was to be bereft of news media and digital communications. Sure, Mustique does have mobile phones, broadband and of course satellite t.v., but I chose not to engage with any of ‘em until the day before returning home. If only for a week, not being enslaved to the digital world was intellectually refreshing, which was thrown into relief when word got out via my generally dormant Facebook page, which is about as far as I go with ‘social media’, that it was my birthday last week. So many kind souls bothered to post congratulations on my ‘wall’ – although condolences might’ve been more appropriate – that just responding to each of these took up much time and constantly interrupted the Very Important work I was doing. Which made me wonder how on earth real Facebook addicts, and of course the Twittering classes find time to keep their followers apprised of their rich and fascinating lifestyles choices. And more to the point, how they find time to have a life beyond the digital universe?

That said, it’s arguable that without Farceberk and Twatter, the essentially leaderless Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions wouldn’t have happened, so I guess what I’ve just espoused is the redundant whining of a media dinosaur. But then at least my bloggings are nothing if not consistant.