Owen Jones Wants Us To Throw £10 Billion A Year At His Mates

Owen Jones is not one known for thinking through his plans for the world – not known for acknowledging extant reality in them in fact. So it is with this latest solution of his, the one that imposes censorship on the British media at a cost to the rest of us of £10 billion a year. It’s a nice enough bung for his mates of course but it does rather miss the target.

His first mistake is to think that capitalist organisations try to change the views of their audience. All the academic evidence points to exactly the opposite conclusion, that they chase it. Fox News does not exist because Rupert Murdoch thinks Middle America should be convinced of the merits of God, Guns and Mom’s Apple Pie. Rather, because he surveyed that media landscape and saw that Middle America’s prejudices were underserved. The extant media regarded guns with horror, sneered at God and intimated that Mom should be spreadsheeting at the credit bureau, not baking. Thus the channel that likes Jebus, the Second Amendment and will try to sell some cinnamon to go with that Pie.

That there are tens of millions out there who like this is shown by the existence of President Donald Trump. Or, indeed, the profitability of Fox News.

It’s the non-capitalist organisations – The Guardian say – who can propagandise, everyone else is too busy agreeing with the audience to do so – agreeing in the pursuit of their attention and thus their profit. Think it through for a moment, which will gain a little more of Owen Jones’ time? Telling him that capitalism is a bit of alright really, here’s the evidence, or agreeing that Britain is institutionally homophobic and won’t Jezza do something about that when the revolution comes? Quite, one will produce hours of heartfelt agreement, the other him looking over your shoulder for someone more amenable to waste time with.

But worse, obviously this is Jones, but worse:

Here’s another idea. The veteran US media reformer Robert McChesney has proposed that such a subsidy could be democratised. Every citizen would be given an allowance of $200 a year to donate to a single publication, or spread across multiple publications. It’s an idea that’s been further developed by British media activist Leo Watkins. The allowance could be funded by an annual tax on the advertising industry. To be eligible for funding, an outlet would need to be a not-for-profit cooperative – ensuring good terms and conditions for journalists – and would be forbidden from taking money from other sources, guaranteeing editorial independence. Media outlets would have to compete for support from citizens, incentivising them to listen to currently unrepresented voices. Such outlets could range from general news organisations at national or local level, to outlets catering for minorities, to sports or leisure pursuits. A thriving, diverse, genuinely independent media universe could be constructed from the bottom-up.

$200, or £200, per head? There are 50 million adults so that’s £10 billion a year. Which is, even at governmental level, serious money. And this is all to be spent upon journalists?

Quite why a not for profit cooperative should provide better terms and conditions for the workers is unknown. Does The Canary pay better than The Times? The Sun?

But yes, worse. For this is the perfect system in which to institute censorship. There are – as is already obvious given that economic structure – some conditions to being able to cash these vouchers. Who will decide those conditions? What will they be? Who thinks they won’t include no homophobia, no sexism, no transphobia, no classism and so on? All defined by the most committee minded among us of course.

Well, quite, such a “free press” would be gralloched from the outset wouldn’t it by the terms and conditions necessary for the receipt of those vouchers.

And yet, of course, worse.

For Owen is insisting that this £10 billion be spent upon his mates. Instead of £10 billion being spent upon what we want. You know, us out there, us whose money is being allocated. That we all have £200 more a year to allocate as we wish is a great idea. But what if our preferred allocation doesn’t include any form of media. Instead of a Pigeon Fanciers’ Monthly subscription, we’d prefer a few pigeon chicks? Instead of reams more of snowflake outpourings we’d prefer to Easyjet to the Alps for real snowflakes? What if, and perish the very thought of it of course, our desires for spending our money don’t conform to what Jones thinks it all should be spent upon?

Fortunately, we’ve a method of dealing with this. Jut cut taxes by £200 a head. Then we all go spend that on whatever it is that we want and not what Owen Jones thinks we should have. Everyone’s happy here – other than Owen and seriously folks, who gives a damn about that?

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Rhoda Klapp
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Rhoda Klapp

“. Fox News does not exist because Rupert Murdoch thinks Middle America
should be convinced of the merits of God, Guns and Mom’s Apple Pie.”h

Why does that not apply in the UK. to the extent that even the US Fox is (effectively) banned. What can’t I have a ‘fair and balanced’ TV news? Or a libertarian TV news. I hate the BBC.

thammond
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thammond

Sadly a libertarian TV channel would get fewer viewers than the re-runs of Are You Being Served.

Rhoda Klapp
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Rhoda Klapp

You are probably right. Just any non-social justice wet channel would do.

Ghost Mermiad
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Ghost Mermiad

The BBC aren’t about social justice in the slightest. Also, libertarians are people who think you deserve to die if you have money troubles.

Rhoda Klapp
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Rhoda Klapp

If nobody deserves to die, how come everybody does?

literate3
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literate3

Why on earth £200 rather than £2. My sports clubs provide newsletters at zero cost to readers, thanks to the volunteer editors. Any publication worth reading produced by not-for-profit volunteers will be viable at £2 per reader.

Conclusion – Owen Jones is not incompetent but also very greedy. Maybe that is why he thinks capitalists are greedy.

Ghost Mermiad
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Ghost Mermiad

Well capitalists are greedy.

literate3
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literate3

Not compared to Owen Jones.

Ghost Mermiad
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Ghost Mermiad

Capitalism creates poverty. It’s inherently greed and selfishness based.

literate3
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literate3

Rubbish – it’s based on saving some of your income and investing it. Greed and selfishness would spend allof it and invest none. You obviously don’t have the slightest clue about capitalism.

timworstall
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timworstall

All of the people who live in all of the capitalist societies are richer than near all of the people who live in non-capitalist societies.

How does capitalism create poverty?

Jonathan Harston
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Jonathan Harston

“To be eligible for funding, …
would be forbidden from taking money from other sources”

Yeah gods, *NO* other sources? Who can run a newspaper on £200? He’s killed the advertising industry *and* wants to tax it to provide the moola.

Thruppennybit
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Thruppennybit

$200 to a single publication. That scheme is already in existence. It’s called the BBC TV Licence
So we’d get twice as much BBC-like output? No thanks.

Matt Ryan
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Matt Ryan

Definitely no bias at the BBC – no sirree. Not a cesspit of alphabet characters genders at all.

discoveredjoys
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discoveredjoys

If I were given £200 pa to spend on newspapers I wouldn’t spend it on the Guardian… what if I chose to spend it on ‘popular newspapers’ instead?

I’ve suggested elsewhere that in a similar move the Arts Council should be defunded and people given ‘vouchers’ to spend on their choice of art, or the theatre, or cinema. Who could possibly object? There might be a surge in popularity of Elvis paintings on black velvet, but so what?

thammond
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thammond

The sad thing about Owen Jones is that he is quite bright, but he refuses to even consider that the turgid and failed ideas he tediously regurgitates could possibly be wrong. An examined set of thoughts is not worth thinking.