The Chinese curse “You should be forced to live in interesting times” was very true for 2011, shaping up as one of the more disruptive and uncertain 12 month periods since the last World War, and I felt that I would be remiss if I did not finish my blog posts for 2011 without a fond look at some of the major “fault lines” that we are going to have to live with and solve.

The Arab Spring which was welcomed by the Western powers as a cry for democracy and the removal of dictatorships is quickly turning into more of a winter woe as their version of democracy takes power away from the dictators and hands it all over to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is violently opposed to the west in every way.

Logo Muslim Brotherhood; via Wikimedia Commons

The euro continues flirting with disaster as it becomes increasingly obvious to the rest of the world that every solution that is mooted is akin to putting a bandaid on a severed limb. At the same time some European countries have been giving up democracy and handing over control to the bankers who helped to create the problems in the first place.

The US Dollar and English Pound are not faring much better and to be able to just keep the lights on, governments will need to print more money just to pay basic commitments like pensions and public sector salaries, leading to out of control inflation rates in major currencies.

Iran moves steadily towards achieving nuclear weaponry making the Israelis increasingly nervous, with some justification, and Turkey and Iran are rattling scimitars as to who should lead the Arab world, which is interesting as neither nation is truly Arab.

The US continues to polarize as does China, both countries growing the divide between the haves and have-nots, and at the same time still rewarding those that work out how to get rich at the expense of everyone else.

We continued to pollute and spent our energies arguing about whether man was at fault for global warming or whether it was just part of some natural cycle, instead of joining forces to work out what could be done about it.

All in all we created an interesting year for ourselves.

Christmas is a good time for all of us, irrespective of our religious beliefs, to think about the fact that we have created this parlous state of affairs through our own stupidity and greed.

The dictators that we helped to overthrow in 2011 are the same ones we supported, traded with, courted and sold weapons to earlier on.

Author: Ricardo Stuckert/PR; via Wikimedia Commons

The death of the major western currencies we allowed by letting the bankers decide on how we should lead our lives, despite the fact that most of us knew that it was rarely the most intelligent of our generation that went to work for the banks.

Goldman Sachs Headquarters; via Wikimedia Commons

We let nations rush towards the “we got the bomb” club till we reached that point in the Tom Lehrer 1965 song “Who’s next?”, when he wrote “I’ll try and stay serene and calm when Alabama gets the bomb”. At the same time we continued to vote into power people who should not have been allowed to run a “fish and chip” shop let alone run a country.

We allowed all this to happen and we are the only ones who can fix it all.

It’s time we all got off our well-padded, designer-jeaned, liposucked backsides and took responsibility and control back from the politicians and bankers and hate-mongers.

I don’t know yet how we can do this, but I do know that do it we must, and I am going to try and work out what part I have to play in this for the sake of my children and grand-children.

In the words of Dr. Seuss

“You have brains in your head and feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own and you know what you know.
And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.”

I wish you all a wonderful time over the holiday season with those you love, and best wishes for a 2012 full of personal success and the true wonders of life.

I plan to spend most of the next month deep in skiable snow with friends from Australia and with our kids and grandkids, just to remind myself about what really matters and why we need to protect it.

Author: Wuhazet - Henryk Żychowski; via Wikimedia Commons



  1. Dee Pierce says:

    Well summed up as usual, Mr H.
    Have a magnificent Xmas!

  2. Chad says:

    I look forward to your solutions!

    Where are you skiing, and more importantly where are you eating?


  3. Vicky says:

    Thought provoking blog, as ever. Glad you make the time to write it. Wishing you and your family a fabulous snow filled christmas.

    Vicky x

  4. Nickie says:

    Sagacious musings as usual Les.
    I thought you may have hit upon something profound with Dr Seuss whereby if the copies of Sun Tzu were replaced with Dr Seuss in the bookshelves of bankers and politicians the world may become a better place.
    Unfortunately i have a suspicion “Fox in socks” is actually used by them as a training manual.
    Because i’m sure at one time or another we have all said something along the line of the words of the estimable Mr Knox .
    “Please sir.I don’t
    like this trick,sir.
    My tongue Isn’t
    quick or slick,sir.
    I can’t blab
    such blibber blubber!
    My tongue isn’t
    made of rubber.
    Merry Christmas

  5. Bruce Rankin says:

    Hello Les,

    back from our 6 weeks in USA and catching up on back emails…… your comments most prescient.

    Reminds me I’ve just read a book published in 2011 “Child of the Depression” written by Alan Barley – a master at Christchurch Boys High…he taught there for 34 years and was there when I was there in the 1950’s! He is now 89… very with it ….using the internet and so on.

    He was in the 1931 Hawkes Bay earthquake and the family house was devastated… so they moved to Christchurch. One paragraph at the end caught my eye: “I worked for my uncle….as a Saturday morning job as a schoolboy in 1935. He would greet me when I walked in and almost invariably add the comment “Alan, the world is in a real mess.” He was right. We were in the depths of a depression and World War II was still to come. However we came through it all – and the world is still in a mess, probably always will be.”

    ie not much has changed in 75 years in that respect. It seems to me that the two major problems facing the world now are that Europe and the Euro are in a death spiral and that the turmoil in the Middle East/Muslim world poses immense problems, with genuine democracy and tolerance unlikely to emerge.

    Every new set of problems we confront seems worse than the last. Yet somehow the world survives and we progress. (eg I sense from being in the USA that the economy there is genuinely starting to recover.)

    Best wishes, Bruce

    • leshayman says:

      Bruce, you are right in pointing out that generally tumoil is the global status quo interspersed with occassional moments of calm, and that we do always come through.
      I do not see the Eurozone in a “death spiral” but on the edge of a precipice, and 2012 will determine whether it falls or moves away from the edge.
      I see Italy as being the teeter point.
      If italy can show that it can fix its economy (not perfect but at least a raodmap) i believe that Europe can move away from the edge, even though I do not see the euro surviving in its current state.
      The US will depend on the election. If the Republicans can come together behind one single candidate then they can win the Presidency and this I believe will rebuild confidence. If not, and it looks like Obama will get a second term I do not see confidence returning quickly.

  6. Bruce Rankin says:

    Hi again Les,

    Good thoughts – thanks. At least Greece has passed its meaures thru parliament ….but will they actually implement them properly/fully? Agree re Italy and the euro. Romney seems uninspired and polls show Obama leading in head to head… no standout Republican candidate unfortunately.

    It occurred to me that we (you and I) have a longstanding ditty to describe the state of the world!

    They’re rioting in Africa, (deet, deedy deedy dee)
    They’re starving in Spain,
    There’s hurricanes in Florida,
    And Texas needs rain.
    The whole world is festering with unhappy souls,
    The French hate the Germans,
    The Germans hate the Poles,
    Italians hate Jugoslavs, South African’s hate the Dutch,
    And I don’t like anybody very much!

    But we can be thankful and tranquil and proud,
    That man’s been endowed with a mushroom shaped cloud,
    For we know for certain that some lovely day,
    Someone will set the spark off – and we will all be blown away!

    They’re rioting in Africa,
    There’s strife in Iran,
    What nature doesn’t do to us will be done by our fellow man!

    The Merry Minuet by the Kingston Trio – live from the “Hungry i” – circa 1961

    Only the countries and peoples have changed!

    Best, Bruce

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