Industrial Revolutions and Monopolies

While you are reading this for the second time, have this running in the background. When it gets to about an hour in, start really listening.

If you have a coal mine you can get horses to drag the coal out of the ground and more horses to deliver it. Horses can produce 1 horse power all day per day but they need to rest (they can eat and drink when resting but they are vegetarians and need to eat a lot of the time.) If they don’t eat the right foods they will quickly become exhausted and suffer various industrial diseases such as Laminitis and Colic.

You treat your horses very well or they will die on you. If you work them too hard they go lame. Or you can build canals. Then with a slow moving river or canal built from your mine to your customers, you only need one horse to deliver 20 tons or more at 3 or 4 miles an hour.

A mine owner near Manchester hired a successful engineering prodigy to build a water channel to the town. The rest is history. Manchester became a city that made all the world’s clothes, sent by a channel to the greatest seaport in the world: Liverpool.

In those days ALL transport was by ship. Once towns and cities realised that they too could become ports, Britain went daft for canals. And there was only one man they wanted to build them:

James Brindley.

He became the monopoly for canal-work. He was the world’s expert and he had a rich backer. But like all monopolies he suffered from the one problem that affects all monopolies: If they are doing something wrong, monopolies are unlikely to change. James Brindley’s problem was that he liked to keep everything on the level, as it didn’t waste water. What it wasted instead was time.

Transport companies had to lock their employees into aggressive slave labour schemes, locking whole families into poorly paid lifestyles without access to medical care or schooling. The situation was remedied and the monopoly broken by the invention of steam. Soon, instead of every town having a canal, which was a very expensive investment thanks to Brindley, they have -or had, railway stations.

If instead of stream traction they had invented steam lifts, perhaps…

It’s hard to imagine that up to the 1960’s the importance of a town was measured by how many trains ran there daily. But after WW2 the railway companies had been driven into the ground and the government was too broke to pay them or make upgrades. What they did was buy the rail companies, creating a monopoly. The fatal flaw was that now they didn’t have to make any investments in rolling stock or infrastructure.

Soon rail travel was so bad that manufacturing companies invested in lorries. They could then transport what they wanted, when they wanted, how they wanted at the prices they wanted; if they could get the custom. They were no longer held to ransom by governments.

Rather than compete with that and because several government ministers were involved in the new payola -building Motorways, the small stations were closed down. Whole sections of the rail network went out of existence. Companies that had been coping with the rail tariffs now had to find lorries, lorry drivers and new methods -or be unable to make deliveries to some customers.

Whole sections of Manchester closed down and moved to India. If they had to manage without the network they had relied on, they could afford to do so elsewhere. And rather than pay wages at British local rates they hired Asians at Asian rates and built their own traffic networks in Asia instead of here.

In fact they could grow the cotton right on their doorstep and create their own monopolies. As a bonus there were no unions and no Factories Act. They could use child labour. And the best thing was that they knew what problems about working conditions would be coming down the line.

We see it now in China.

People can’t speak out and if they do they get dealt with. Initially they get stonewalled. Then they get bad press, then people who have found out their secrets maul them and gradually the problem goes away. Some time later the disenchanted are quietly let go.

The secret is to engineer the opinions of fairly well educated people so that they focus each one on their own pet peeves and with the population stirring like fish in the sea, they can be steered or driven. Nobody has the time it takes to step back and see if there is a big picture. Those that do and realise that there is a big picture and they can see what it shows us doing

…are quietly let go and the noise they make becomes more background to stir the fish with.

You might like this chap’s crusade for thorium fuelled reactors. One and an half hours into it I felt obliged to write the above. I believe much the same thing is going on in meteorology today, where spurious arguments about climate and global warming are grabbing the emotions of fools.

Meanwhile significant real investment is being shelved. People are being led to believe we need bigger computers instead of lots more weather stations and meteorologists. Meteorology is a function of data and meteorological thought. Computation is nice but experts can usually work around problems given the time to think them through.

And get this, the meteorologists who left are well enough paid so that they can’t afford to rock the boat. Is it possible that soon there won’t be a boat?

Will meteorologists one day be forced to work for agencies on zero-hours contracts?
We let the Amazon go to hell; it would be poetic if it came back to bite us.

Global warming started out as a tool to subdue Britain’s miners who had just won a court case against the coal mining monopoly (NCB was owned by the British Government.) The Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, could see it was going to cost money to pay compensation to future coal miners. Also she had been hauled through the shallows by the European Parliament over the state of our beaches. (She had been forced to tell them that we only had three beaches in Britain.)

Shutting the mines would help clean the beaches and our rivers and of course save human lives in the long term. The following is rather a spiteful thing to say (all the more so considering I never knew her) but I wouldn’t want to give anyone the impression she did it to benefit any coal miners:

She was not the sort of person that cared a great deal about people; in case you are thinking nice things about her, just ask Bob Gedolf. You are known by your friends and judged by your enemies. However, if she was so shy she couldn’t make friends…

That isn’t anyone’s business is it?

All I really know about her is that she never, ever told me the truth. But they don’t, do they?

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One thought on “Industrial Revolutions and Monopolies

  1. As a weather forecaster and thaumaturge I try to live a few days in the future. Getting back to reality can be a bit of a dance sometimes but mainly seeing the future is mostly impossible. God decreed it as a test for religions. If they can do what it says on the tin then follow them. If they turn out to be useless then that is what they are.
    Reading history is not so difficult but is still a bit of a dance as you keep having to remember that they didn’t know what we know now.

    The social mores of our ancestors was governed by the societies they lived in not by the cultures they introduced. And it doesn’t matter what we think they were thinking at the time, all we have left to judge by is what they did. And by conjecture, what they did not.
    Towns and villages in Britain may have been prosperous in days gone by but by the 18th century effective trade was still only conducted by town that had access to naviagble rivers or by the sea. Most of Wales was cut off from this culture because of transport difficulties and even in flat lands where canals became possible, getting access to the outside world was a matter of how much time you had to travel and what you wanted to carry with you.

    A man can travel as fast as an horse over a long journey as he can eat on the march and plan his meals in advance. A horse needs to eat and drink and it must also allow for not getting overheated. But it can carry a lot more than a man can, if you can afford one and can make those allowances.
    If you were a poor man you could climb up the ladder of success by becoming a drover but you would have to have enough capital to be able to kiss the benefits of working for the local gentry goodbye.

    People were literally tied to other people’s houses at one time. To climb out of them you had to have ability and usually most failed for one reason or another. Even after a long success, time and the unforeseen can bring you down. Shit happened. It still does. For an example of the tied house system click on the first link above to hear the truth about copyrights and think of what you are learning as the truth about your rights and the truth about the rights of people in times past. Here it is again:

    Here is another:

    I keep intending to write a book about the stuff I do but worry about publication problems. In the end I have accomplished nothing instead. What I need a an FTP connection and a system that allows me to give people rapid download abilities. Then, if they wish to, they can support what I do. I like the idea but I don’t feel at home with it yet. When it is a part of my history, I will be asking myself either:
    Why the hell did I wait so long?
    or
    What the hell did I think I was doing?

    In the meantime, like you, I am living from day to day with no clear idea of what the hell is going on.
    I’ve got news for you, ALL magic practising priests live such lives, as do all politicians, all teachers, all wise men, all successful business men, all news people, pundits, advertisers and customers, Tom, Dick, Harry and most fools and scoundrels too.

    If you find something that works, learn more about it. That’s the only general advice I can give that works in all aspects of all facilities.

    In fact the only people who can be sure of themselves at least in the short term are the failures. Depression awaits them as does sickness and death. One ending suits us all eventually. Live like you realise that.

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