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We’re not all in it together: the rise of bloated capitalism

Following David Cameron’s speech on moral capitalism last week, Julian Parrott, partner at Ethical Futures, writes how not everyone is in the same boat of austerity. ”Capitalism”, he says, “has grown to bloated excess”.

Fine words and some valid comments and ideas [from Prime Minister David Cameron] but I have yet to see anything that really does bring about a democratisation of capital. This should be an ethical and socially responsible investment opportunity. Sadly I’m not sure that it’s being grasped.

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Following David Cameron’s speech on moral capitalism last week, Julian Parrott, partner at Ethical Futures, writes how not everyone is in the same boat of austerity. ”Capitalism”, he says, “has grown to bloated excess”.

Fine words and some valid comments and ideas [from Prime Minister David Cameron] but I have yet to see anything that really does bring about a democratisation of capital. This should be an ethical and socially responsible investment opportunity. Sadly I’m not sure that it’s being grasped.

I’m all for the development of cooperatives, where genuine opportunity lies for the business, but in the case of some of the mooted developments; it seems to be a back door route to deconstruction of national welfare services. It is not clear to me that the structure and management skill is there to build fully functioning large scale cooperatives.

The Conservative history of popularising democratically owned capitalism is a myth. Margaret Thatcher did not create a share and property owning democracy. She appealed to the base instincts of a financially and economically ill-educated public. She presided over the biggest ‘fire sale’ in British history – selling badly needed social housing at up to 70% discount of value and turning over ludicrously mispriced shares of public utilities to a public who saw it as an opportunity to make a quick buck.

This round was closely followed by the ‘bribing’ of account holders to facilitate the conversion of building societies into banks – a step that took away a 100 years of local community connections and heralded an age that would ultimately end in the financial crisis of 2008.

These shares almost immediately ended up in the hands of major institutions, and as a result, we end up in a nation where the bulk of our utilities are owned by foreign businesses and banking became a casino for the ultra-rich – funded by the common man.

Very little actual engagement in business conduct was ever achieved by this spread of share ownership – nor was there ever an efficient mechanism to connect shareholders together to hold management to account.

The bulk of capital invested in major companies is held by the financial institutions; whilst ethical and socially responsible investment is doing something to influence business activity – even these funds have failed to tackle issues of corporate excess.

Management of funds and major FTSE businesses is a cosy cabal of people with vested interests in short term returns and a bonus culture. Investment managers get bonuses for bench mark performance. They often achieve this by investing in big businesses that focus on short turn returns to maintain share price value. Both parties are complicit in the process and validation of remuneration is supported by non–executives who often sit on each other’s committees.

Management of mega cap businesses is not an entrepreneurial process – it’s the ‘captain of the ship role’; you need to be able to plot a course and steer the business there. We are not dealing with people who have eureka moments and hence may be deemed to be worth the rewards that accrue to genuinely game changing and talented individuals.

Rather, we have allowed an accountancy oriented corporate elite to grow up, who pursue share price growth by acquisition and the slashing of costs of the running of the business for their own self-aggrandisement; constantly inflating each other’s worth well in excess of the value that the business brings to society.

We need the investment management of pension, investment and institutional funds to be far more critical and to actively engage in not only the environmental and ethical dilemmas but in fundamental corporate governance.

If we live in an age where the Conservatives want to encourage greater share ownership – especially amongst staff – then the focus of the business is not solely on profit maximisation.

The objective of the business must be to provide a sustainable business model for continuity of the business, but also to give a fair standard of living and reward to those who contribute to it. That does not means driving down wages whilst execs get bonuses, or slashing staff pensions whilst senior managers salt away millions, or moaning about ‘red tape’ that is there to protect the rights and safety of workers.

Moreover, not only do the individual staff benefit from positive policies, but society does too, because we will have better rewarded employees who are more highly motivated to work and protected to a greater extent in the event or sickness and old age by their employers, and hence less reliant on the welfare of the state.

Instead, we currently have a capitalism that has grown to bloated excess on the opportunity of 30 years of compliant governments to externalise billions of pounds of costs that they should have borne and now the nation is on its financial knees having bailed out the banking industry.

We – the ordinary people – are having those self-same welfare lifelines withdrawn by a government of wealthy elite under the banner of ‘we are all in it together’ austerity.

David Cameron called for a more responsible economy in his speech last week. You can help realise this by choosing to invest sustainably.

Get in touch with your financial adviser or fill in our online form and we’ll connect you to a specialist ethical one.

Julian Parrott is a founding partner of Ethical Futures, ethical specialist independent financial advisers (IFA) based in Edinburgh.

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What Kitchen Suits Your Style? Modern, Classic or Shaker?

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shaker kitchen designs

A kitchen is the centre of the home. Your kitchen ranges between where friends and family gather, talk about their day, cook meals, have drinks, to somewhere you can just enjoy each other’s company. The kitchen is the heart of the home. But, everyone’s lifestyle is different. Everyone’s taste is different. So, you need a kitchen that not only mirrors your lifestyle but matches your taste too. Whilst some prefer a more traditional design, others want a modern feel or flair – and it’s all down to personal taste.

When it comes to redesigning your kitchen, what style would you go for? It’s a difficult one isn’t it. With so many different styles to go for, how can you know exactly what you want until you’ve seen it in action? Leading kitchen designer, Roman Kitchens, based in Essex, have provided three examples of bespoke kitchens and styles they specialise in, accompanied with beautiful images. This design guide will get you one step closer to picking your dream kitchen for your home.

1. Modern

New home in the city centre? Or even a sleek new modern build? You want a trendy and modern kitchen to reflect your city lifestyle. In modern kitchen design, colours are bolder and fresher, with sleek design and utilities that are distinctive and vibrant.

modern kitchen designs

This modern kitchen is sleek and smooth with flawless design and beauty. Minimalism doesn’t stop this kitchen standing out. Featured walls of wood and vibrant mint green draw the eye, whilst the white surfaces reflect the light, illuminating every nook and cranny of this kitchen. This kitchen features products from Rotpunkt, innovators of modern kitchen design. Made with German engineering, a Rotpunkt Kitchen is the ultimate modern addition to your home. Rotpunkt Kitchens have timeless design and amazing functionality, they work for every purpose and are eco-friendly. Sourced from natural materials, a Rotpunkt kitchen uses 37% less timber, conserving natural forests and being more environmentally conscious.

2. Classic

Prefer a homely and traditional feel? Classic kitchens are warm, welcoming and filled with wood. Wood flooring, wood fixtures, wood furniture – you name it! You can bring a rustic feel to your urban home with a classic kitchen. Subtle colours and beautiful finishes, Classic kitchens are for taking it back to the basics with a definitive look and feel.

classic kitchen designs

With stated handles for cupboards, Classic kitchens are effortlessly timeless. They convey an elegant but relaxing nature. Giving off countryside vibes, natural elements convey a British countryside feel. The wood featured in a classic kitchen can range between oaks and walnut, creating a warmth and original feel to your home. Soft English heritage colours add a certain mood to your home, softening the light making it cosier.

3. Shaker

Any kitchen planner will tell you that the meeting point between traditional and modern design, is a Shaker kitchen. They have a distinctive style and innovative feel. Shakers are fresh, mixing different colour tones with stylish wood and vinyl. The most important feature of a Shaker kitchen is functionality – every feature needs to serve a purpose in the kitchen. Paired with stylish and unique furniture, a Shaker kitchen is an ideal addition to any home.

shaker kitchen designs

The ultimate marriage between Classic and Modern kitchens, this Shaker kitchen has deep colour tones with copper emphasis features. All the fittings and fixtures blur the line of modern and tradition, with a Classic look but modern colour vibe. Unique furniture and design make Shaker Kitchens perfect for the middle ground in kitchen design. Minimal but beautifully dressed. Traditional but bold and modern at the same time. Storage solutions are part of the functionality of Shaker kitchens, but don’t detour from conveying yours as a luxury kitchen.

Whatever you choose for your new kitchen, be it Modern, Classic or Shaker – pick whatever suits you. Taste is, and always will be, subjective – it’s down to you.

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Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy

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Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.

Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.

Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.

How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:

  • They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
  • They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
  • They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
  • They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.

Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.

Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use

The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.

Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.

Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers

Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.

Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.

Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy

Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:

  • Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
  • Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
  • Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.

You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.

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