How to make sense of a slightly mad world

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the world has gone mad from recent news reports.

Fracking has been given the “green light” (pah – can you thinkFracking of anything less “green”?) despite the evidence about its links to earthquakes, and more significantly contamination of the water supply.

Virtually all trains from Liverpool to London have been cancelled on cup final day. “Engineering works” say the rail company. “Planned these months in advance and Train Engineering Workscan’t change them now.” That’s as may be, but isn’t the real point that we should be encouraging more people onto public transport and less car use and when there is a big weekend event coming up, no engineering work should be planned?

And then there is the bizarre corporate stranglehold that has been placed on the Olympic Games – no pictures, tweets, quotes, interviews that could possibly compromise the ability of some of the sponsors to extract the maximum return for theirMoney Stack investment. Is this a global peoples’ festival of sport, or a closed feeding frenzy for the few? Yes, these things need to be paid for, but am I alone in thinking that the balance has become entirely skewed?

And with perfect timing, it is revealed that leading medics say that the overpowering presence of “junk” foods has to be reined in if we are to stem a rising tide of obesity and ill-health that in turn could cost more in healthcare and social problems than will be generated by the jobs with and sponsorship from these companies.

So if sometimes it does seem that the world has stood rationality and common sense on its head, consider this: it seems to me that all of the above are illustrations of a society that doesn’t work for the many, but for the few. A society in which the profit motive has marginalised all other ways of doing business. An economy based on short-termism over sustainability. A truly “Big Society” in which you’ve got to be “big” to have any clout – and if you’ve got the clout, you clean up big-time financially.

The problem is the rest of us – football fans, citizens, taxpayers, the planet itself – simply can’t afford it.

Two events in particular have been announced that aim to give us a fighting chance to rebalance society. Netroots aims to help network and inspire activists across the country using the internet through a mixture of debates, strategy sessions and training workshops. Its 2012 conference is on 30 June and details are at

And the TUC are organising the GrassRoots event on 26 May – to link trade union and community organisations. Details at or follow the event on twitter @grassrootsuk.

Meanwhile, if you want to know more about Fracking, the cup final and the Olympics, click on the links below.