Oh What A World

The media has always been known for crass headlines, biased reporting and political spin, but it was this headline on CNBC’s website that really made my stomach churn this week.

Sterling rebounds -vs- euro after death of pro-EU British lawmaker

Is this how the media and moreover, the markets, view these kinds of human tragedies?  As some kind of trading opportunity?  Is everything valued in pounds, dollars and yen?  Apparently so.  I’m not an economist, I don’t know the first thing about trading (except for the fact that you obviously need to be devoid of any kind of moral compass), but if this is capitalism, I want out.

“It’s possible that investors are anticipating something of a sympathy bump for the ‘Remain’ camp in the context of this,” said Shaun Osborne, chief currency strategist at ScotiaBank in Toronto.

A sympathy bump?  How can people even use such language?  To reduce something so awful to votes and numbers on a trading floor, shows such a lack of basic human compassion.  I was heartened to see that a reader left the following comment:

So the Murder of this woman caused Billions of Dollars to move in Markets in the EU and US?  RIDICULOUS!!!

You can read the full article here.

But what interest would American investors have in seeing Britain remain in the EU?  Is it because they care so deeply about the welfare of the British public and see their future as being more stable and secure within the EU?  Or could it have more to do with trade and investment (i.e. profit) such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)?  If you haven’t heard about this, it’s probably because these talks are highly secretive, but basically it is a trade agreement between the EU and US aimed at creating the world’s biggest free trade zone spanning the north Atlantic.  Here’s what the Guardian had to say about it:

The main beneficiaries would be big businesses, as the aim of TTIP is to reduce regulatory barriers to trade, in areas ranging from food safety law to environmental rules and banking regulations.  Concerns are mounting that TTIP could lead to more privatisation, with the prospect of US corporations providing vital public services such as transport, education, water and health.  There would also be provisions allowing private investors to sue governments for the loss of future profits due to decisions made by national parliaments.

It seems everything can be used to sway public opinion or gain votes or influence markets.  The recent massacre in Orlando, Florida has become a campaign issue in the upcoming presidential elections.  Is that really how their families want their loved ones’ deaths to be remembered?  Maybe it’s naive of me to get upset over corporate greed or the way human suffering is used as a political football, but should I just shrug my shoulders and accept that this is the way the world works?

One group of people who aren’t willing to compromise their beliefs are Medecins Sans Frontieres who this week have rejected EU funding in protest at the way Europe has responded to the refugee crisis.

“For months MSF has spoken out about a shameful European response focused on deterrence rather than providing people with the assistance and protection they need,” Jérôme Oberreit, MSF’s international secretary general, said. “The EU-Turkey deal goes one step further and has placed the very concept of ‘refugee’ and the protection it offers in danger.”

Again, the plight of helpless victims has become a leveraging tool.  Paying Turkey to take back refugees seems to fly in the face of the UN refugee convention that was created after the Holocaust.  Yet this is the ‘solution’ to the current crisis, which Turkey have agreed to go along with in the hope that this will further their application to become a member state.

He added: “Deterrence policies sold to the public as humanitarian solutions have only exacerbated the suffering of people in need. There is nothing remotely humanitarian about these policies. It cannot become the norm and must be challenged.

You can read the full article here.

I often hear people say ‘I’m not political’ and I know what they mean.  It’s like saying ‘I’m not a feminist’ because you’re not out on the streets protesting for gender equality.  But half of the world’s population are women; we all have a mother; we have sisters, wives and daughters.  So we should call ourselves feminists because we believe that women should have equal rights and equal protection.  Similarly, we are all citizens governed by democratically elected officials who make laws and provisions on our behalf.  So we should call ourselves political, because these laws have a bearing on our day-to-day lives and we should have a say in them.  It’s high time we asked ourselves what our values are.  Do we believe that our economy should serve our society or the other way round?  Do we believe that the government should act in the interests of citizens or big business?  It’s time to start lobbying our representatives at home and in Europe on all of these issues, because I for one just can’t bear to see another headline putting profit before people.