Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Writing - Don't forget the lessons and predictions from the past



So when we write we send out messages and hopefully so that some people out there will take the trouble to read the message. Whether it is acted upon or not is up to the reader but one of the reasons we study history is to learn.

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"The Budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest Rome will become bankrupt.
People must again learn to work instead of living on public assistance." - Cicero, 55 BC

Scary to imagine that we have learnt little in the last 2100 years!

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Maggie Thatcher's Right to buy policy.

In the early 1980's PM Margaret Thatcher introduced the 'right to buy your council house' policy. It was more than a passing nod towards capitalism. In point of fact it was, in my opinion, one of the early steps in beginning the crash of 2008, more than twenty years later. As a result of the policy people were encouraged to borrow money that in its turn led to the banks introducing sub-prime lending and being prepared to lend up to seven times a person's salary. Prior to those days the maximum was three times the salary and with a 20% deposit on a house. I'm not going into the principle of everyone owning their own home, but throughout history that has never been the case. 
Guess what, seven years after the banking crash the conservative party are promising to extend the right to buy policy if elected.

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Writers reach out to us from the past in an attempt to avoid repeated mistakes and yet we stubbornly cling to philosophies that are based upon 'but it will work this time'! If you consider the nature of mistakes they quite often stem from misplaced confidence and human error, so it makes sense to learn from our forebears.

Sci-Fi
Science fiction writers have predicted events with uncanny accuracy at times.

The World Set Free - HG Wells (The Atomic Bomb)
If scientists had read this book they may have thought twice about the benefits of discovering the neutron. It makes you wonder about the use of the massive Hadron Collider to discover new particles such as Higgs-Bosson

Looking Backward - Edward Bellamy (Credit Card)
This book was published in 1887 and described an American utopian society. It described a card with an allotted amount of credit that citizens could use for purchases.

2001: A Space Odyssey - Arthur C Clarke
In this classic, which was written in 1968, Clarke predicted being able to draw up the front pages of newspapers on a screen and link to those articles the reader found interesting and wanted to follow up.

Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury 1953
Ray Bradbury predicted earphones which we would struggle without these days.

The Senator's Daughter - Edward Page Mitchell 1879
Mitchell predicted people having printers in every home with endless paper feed and current news item streamed to the home.

Moxon's Master - Ambrose Bierce 1910
'Watson' was an invincible super computer that was invincible at chess.

The Machine Stops - E M Forster 1909
Forster predicted skyping over a hundred years ago.

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The above examples are mostly positive predictions that the world has benefited from and yet when humanity makes a mess we seem to want to forget it as quickly as we can and be oblivious to its lessons.

God Bless