Mrs Patel

Shot and edited on my Nokia N93 phone – excuse the lip sync – combination of the phone editor and Ovi’s flash video conversion.

“The next person to inspire me”: Mrs Patel from our local Post Office, about to be closed down by incompetence and greed in government and the privatised Post Office. After 35 years of service to our community – what does she get? An OBE? No. Termination.

This is today’s entry for the Pangea Day Nokia Mobile Filmmaking Awards.

The brief is to make 2 minute films about:

– The next thing that makes you smile.

– An act of kindness.

– The next person to inspire you.

– The best part of today.

They don’t stipulate in the rules that it has to even be shot on a phone, never mind a Nokia, but I’m doing what I always do and shooting AND editing on my N93. Hopefully that’ll give me extra brownie points with the judges! (if I get that far)

Please go here to the Pangea Day channel on Ovi and give me views and comments and favorites to help me out. You need to sign up for an Ovi account to comment, but if you have a spare two minutes, *please* do (also, you should upload your own)! It’s only the most popular films that will get a chance to go in front of the judges.

I should say that aside from the main competition at Ovi, the remarkable Mr David Howell has been appointed by Nokia to run his own Pangea Day competition at – post a link to your film in his comment section by May 2nd.

ANYWAY, enough selling

as for today’s film…

The Government are currently engaged in a disgraceful act of cultural vandalism. I believe that in 10-20 years – and beyond – they will be remembered for two things: The Iraq War, and the loss of the Post Offices.

For the sake of a mere ยฌยจยฌยฃ200m per year, they are closing the last remaining centre of community in thousands of towns, villages and urban neighbourhoods. This is a brief interview with Mrs Patel, who has run our Post Office for 35 years. Two posts offices within half a mile of here are closing. Seven in our Borough. (and of course thousands throughout the country.) We have a higher density of older and disabled people in this ward than anywhere else in the borough – people who will lose vital services.

I’m glad that I’m not going to be in the country at the next election. I’d be in a real dilemma at the ballot box. I couldn’t bring myself to vote Tory, but nor could I bring myself to reward the current bastards for everything they’re doing. Every day, more reasons to emigrate.

The Post Office issue is a classic case of everything that’s wrong with a) blind Privatisation and b) our party-based representative democracy. The local MP, Andy Slaughter, who lives opposite me, was fiercely against the closure of the Post Offices. But he couldn’t express that view in Parliament, where he represents us, or he’d lose his job. He was forced to vote for something he knew to be wrong, because his weak, venal party leadership had decreed it as policy.

Anyway, you probably came here to watch me making my usual arse of myself, not listen to my political opinions, so I’ll stfu and let you meet the lovely, inspiring, discarded Mrs Patel.

Original File: MPEG4 File

22 thoughts on “Mrs Patel

  1. I really love these kinds of interviews. We need more people turning the camera on neighbors to document what is going on in our collective lives. I had no idea England was going the way of the USA….and privatizing everything.

  2. wouldn’t have happened if i hadn’t had the technology in my pocket when i happened to be passing.

    as for privatization, it’s not just the US. the whole world is going this way, my friend. the World Bank and IMF insist on privatization of public utilities before giving money to developing countries. in a few cases in the developed world, it has shaken up stolid public sector bureaucracies and introduced competition and consumer accountability. but a lot of the time, it has the opposite effect. a huge telecoms or energy company takes over, competition is impossible or doomed to failure (for infrastructure reasons, never mind commercial reasons) , and the people suffer. while the execs and shareholders cash in. I’d rather tax money was wasted and circulated within the national and local economy than suffer uncompetitive, poorly regulated consumer price gouging and watch the money sent off to some remote foreign bank account. RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

  3. Pingback: pangea
  4. Guess I’m the only one glad to see a government monopoly being diminished?

    You talk about how a “poorly regulated” industry will become uncompetitive, yet are ignoring the fact that government monopolies don’t *need* to be competitive, since they’re operated by force.

    “Poorly regulated” means fewer artificial barriers to entry into a market, and that’s when competition thrives. FedEx is a great example in the US (which the government monopoly postal service ironically uses for most of it’s express / overnight shipping) of this competition, and better service.

    I’d rather they stop taking the tax money from me in the first place. Let me spend my money in the free market. I am smart enough to determine what the best deal is for my delivery needs, ater all.

  5. Hi Gregor,

    You’re missing the point, because your political ideology is interfering with your understanding of a human situation in another country. This has very little to do with the business and competitiveness of post and parcel delivery and everything to do with the destruction of physical places which provide a vital *public* service. The post offices provide a hub for communities in places where there are no other hubs – at a time when all other community centres have disappeared.

    The point is that – as much as it would be lovely to hope that capitalism and libertarianism would let all of us be free and happy – no commercial provider will step in to replace this service, and people *will* suffer as a result. Your capitalist libertarian utopia will never become reality here – Brits are too in love with the welfare state, so much more of our tax money will be spent on trying to correct the mass of social ills that will arise from their absence. In other words, the destruction of the post offices is a short term, inefficient cost saving.

    The cost of maintaining quality of life for old people, disabled people and other marginalised groups will grow enormously, and you can expect growth in expensive government initiatives to find new ways to reach out to these communities, to replace this perfectly adequate one they destroyed. The cost to society of removing the one place where local people can meet, have their one chat of the day and exchange local information is inestimable. Expect growth in crime, anti-social behaviour, social isolation, loneliness and the already considerable divides between different groups and classes. Oh, and then add in the cost to us of travelling to the nearest post office… and the cost of providing a ‘mobile post office’ replacement.

    As for your point, about parcel delivery, you can think what you like about whether competition would improve the government-run monopoly – although I think you’d be hard pushed to find a commercial provider which would provide better service than Royal Mail (as opposed to the physical post offices), which manages low-cost next day delivery anywhere in the country and seems streets ahead of the US and Canada.

    I understand that the idea of public services is not to your ideological liking, that you don’t like tax and that you want free market choice to make everything right. But since for the foreseeable future we’re going to have public services and a government funded welfare state here, why not suck it up and spend a small amount of money subsidising a service that actually works? And work on decreasing that subsidy by making the places themselves more efficient? Instead of just destroying it all on an ideological whim – to hell with the consequences – which is what you and the government would prefer.

    If you want to be more clued up about the realities of this, have a look at a better and more in-depth film than mine:

  6. I don’t believe in a “capitalist libertarian utopia”, or any type of utopia; you’re jumping to conclusions. I believe in freedom, and I don’t think that’s opposed to or incompatible with human situations.

    I have a hard time believing “no commercial provider will step in to replace this service.” If it’s a needed service, then someone will provide it, and voluntarily. Maybe it won’t look like it currently does – it could take any number of forms. Humans are terribly innovative.

    It’s silly that in attempt to make your point, you have to imply that I have no concern/understanding for human situations, that I’m a utopian, and that I’m just whining or something (“suck it up”). That seems rather patronizing and unnecessary. I have no doubt that the citizens are in love with the welfare state; they’re in love with it here, too. I know how difficult it is to change the system and how unlikely it seems it will ever change. Still, personally I cannot change what I believe is right just to be more compatible with what the majority wants.

    I’m glad Royal Mail is really effective. My point has nothing to do with how well a service “actually works” though, but whether I’m free to choose to fund that service, or whether that service uses force to maintain its position.

  7. hey Gregor-
    The issue with your comment is that you really offer no plan for the problems that occur in the “free market”. Im in the US, so I know the deregulation debate we are having here.

    So let’s say we get rid of the federal post office. It’s all now private, run by huge corporations. What happens if these private companies realize that running a mail service isn’t profitable anymore because the ost of fuel is too high. So no more mail service. Smaller, regional companies may pop up, but now how do you get a package across the country?

    Let’s take private healthy insurance as we have it in the US.
    Health insurance is often just one piece of the larger corporation’s business. It’s very conceivable that they could find that delivering health insurance is unprofitable…so they’d just make the free market decision to shut it down, What’s to stop them? How do people then get covered?

    Let’s say that the Federal government stops fixing the roads. All roads are now private. So I now pay a tool on every road I travel? Every mile a new toll? Different rules in every state? This sounds bad for business.

    Banking. We currently have a real world example of what deregulation has down to the US investment system. Short term gain for a small amount of people has created a world crisis. And the Federal government bails them out.

    This latest example if what really makes me so angry at “free marketers”.
    They want to tear down public education and all government services, but do nothing to stop corporate welfare. If you were even handed in your talk of “freedom”, I would respect your argument more. You and I both know that “free marketers” are fixing the system and rules to fit their needs. They are doing everything they can to make sure it’s not an even playing field.

    I read your post here:
    It sounds good on the surface. People should not be coerced into doing anything.
    So if a woman wants to have an abortion, will the evangelical Supreme Court stop her from having one?

    Gregor, just think of the world you are idealizing.
    Evangelicals are running the judiciary codifying their version of morality. Free marketers run everything else so monopolies reign. It’s basically dog eat dog world with no social services. It’ll be like Mexico where there’s a 5% ruling class while everyone else is left to starve.

    But at least we’ll be free. Hey, maybe you can build a walled compound to enjoy it all.

  8. Hi Jay,

    It seems you confuse “free market” with “corporatism” (or “fascism”). We don’t have a free market in America, and corporations are entities of the state; they’re given certain privileges by the state. I’m opposed to that (unlike your wrong perception of what a “free marketer” is about).

    People in America already rely on the private options if they need consistent, reliable delivery service. If fuel costs go up, the cost of delivery goes up. It’s basic economics; supply and demand. Clearly there is a huge demand currently, so any company that stops their service will quickly be replaced by some other entrepreneur.

    You say I offer no solutions to problems, which I believe is a fallacy (straw man? I get them confused sometimes) to the topic at hand: force vs. liberty. It presumes that whatever system is used must assure no problems – when clearly the existing system offers no such thing. I never claim that the free market is perfect or there won’t be any problems. However, in a free market people are not forced to use a service. If a service becomes over-priced, that’s all the more incentive for competition to come in and offer the service better and cheaper. Furthermore, it’s nigh impossible to say exactly how the free market will solve a problem, since there are countless ways it could do so (compared to the government’s ONE way). I’m suggesting the ability for people to choose their solution to problems they see; the status quo just suggests using force.

    This applies pretty much the same to every area you listed; I don’t have time to reply to all of them. I might later, but probably not. Because, you’ve read 2 comments on this site now, and 1 blog post of mine that’s related to this topic – and I think you’re being a bit presumptuous to claim I’m not “even-handed” on the topic of freedom. You’re barely acquainted with my ideas, much less my history with them. Please don’t project your preconceived notions on me.

    (Ok, one more quick one: it’s laughable to suggest our banking system is even remotely “private” or “free market”. It’s heavily regulated and we use a mandated currency that the government can control the value of.)

  9. Its insincere that you make an ideological statement on this video, yet refuse to back ip your argument. Once we start talking facts about the “free market” fallacy, you hide behind weak outrage that we “dont understand you”.

    Gregor, I’m not sure if youre just young or an idealist, but you cannot talk about “free market” without talking about corporations. Look at who advocates for “free market” in the current administartion. Heritage foundation, Cato institute, Grover Norquist…now look who funds these advocacy groups.

    To speak of a “free market” future without corporations is like saying, “let’s build a world like Lord Of The Rings”. Its just talk. Its not dealing with reality.

    I’m perfectly willing to discuss where regulation stands in the way of common sense. Let us know when you are ready to back up your arguments with facts. You cannot get away with slogans. I’d love to work through some thought experiments with you.

  10. *sigh*

    You read my post and comments, I think you should understand the gist of my argument: I don’t support initiating force to achieve political or social goals.

    I did not answer your every “what if?” scenario, and that makes me insincere? Never mind that I did answer one of them in good faith. Did I not answer it well enough? If so, you didn’t really clarify, or otherwise further the discussion.

    You want me to address corporations. I’ll make it simpler: in a free market, government does not interfere with the market. That means government cannot bestow special privileges upon one business over another or redistribute money to them. Does that answer it, or am I being “insincere” again? I’m not in favor of corporate welfare or government-granted corporate privileges.

    I’m not talking about the free market as a typical, modern “right-wing conservative” probably is. It seems you think I might be coming from that angle? That’s not the case, and the term free market has really been bastardized by that part of the political spectrum, unfortunately.

  11. I’m new to this site, so not sure whether Rupert really wants a long discussion like this on his blog or not. Feel free to tell me to stop, Rupert. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. oh I bet rupert loves that his video has created a conversation. You should not get so exasperated when people question when you through around empty vessles like “freedom” without filling them with meaning.

    Let’s explore freedom.
    currently the United States has mild media regulation compared to other industrialized nations. A corporation or person can only own a certain amount of media outlets in any specify region. This regulation insures that there can be alternatives viewpoint available to citizens.

    Let’s say these xohersive regulations are removed.

    General Electric is a global company that has many holdings including NBC and military contractors. GE decides to use profits from selling missles to the US military to buy radio stations, tv stations, magazines, websites, and newspapers. They now control the media in every major US market.

    Using this media as a PR engine, they advocate strong national defense and premptive war, which creates an environmnet for healthy military contracts.

    As a private citizen, i cannot afford to buy a local media outlet since GE is able to pay way above market value since the media outlets are more a PR function within the company’s financial strategy.

    Is this a clear example of freedom in your vision of deregulation?

  13. hey Gregor–
    I will tone down my aggression. I get very angry when I see people advocating for total deregulation without taking responsibility for the huge inequities that will follow. Working men and women will not have freedom since commercial interests with unlimited profits will control resources needed for “freedom”.

    I love the idea of small communities where people work together with no regulation from government. But we are a country/planet made up of people…and then corporations, which have personhood in the United States.

  14. Wow. My site stopped giving me email updates of comments. I’d forgotten to check back until now – you guys have been busy! Looks interesting ๐Ÿ™‚ Am packing up my house, but will read later, digest and reply.

  15. Jay,

    I appreciate toning down the aggression. I wasn’t exasperated, or I wouldn’t have bothered replying at all; but I was frustrated by the aggression that seemingly came out of nowhere, along with dismissive comments.

    So it sounds like your concern is monopolies. The scenario you described is an example of what could happen in a free market. As I understand it, it’s very close to our existing situation.

    Sure, you can’t afford a media outlet like NBC or CNN. In a free market, though, there are not artificial barriers to entry like we have now (such as the FCC), making it easier to compete and innovate. Satellite TV and radio are good examples of innovations even without a free market. Of course the Internet has become a powerful medium too; as a video blogger, I’m sure you’re aware of that. I think the Internet alone is a great “protection” against this type of monopoly that you gave as an example.

    Monopolies are still possible in a free market, but are rare because they are difficult to achieve and maintain. A company would have to provide the best service at the best price so that it’s not even viable for someone to try to compete with them. If they decide to rely on buying out competition instead of providing the best service, they’ll quickly find themselves out of money; they’ll be displeasing clients and draining money in buying out other companies.

    “Inequity” could be another topic entirely, I’m not sure I want to go into it. No, I’m not “dodging” it, just saying this topic can go in all sorts of directions; look where we are already after just talking about postal services. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Here’s a question for you: in the scenario you gave, what would you do? There would be no coercive government regulations, so what action would you take?

  16. Hey gRegor–

    I haven’t forgotten about our conversation here. being doing some researching, reading and thinking. Maybe you can help out here. I love this vision of the free market of which you speak, but yet I can find no evidence of its reality. I read the work of Milton Freidman or Ayn Rand…and see greed clothed in expressions of personal freedom. Any community agreement seems to be regarded as attempt at socialism.

    Here’s a great book I read recently that informs my thinking:
    I would love for you to point me to your influences so I can get a better background on the facts that inform your opinions.

    Instead of us taking apart each other’s ideas…let’s share where we’re getting our information from. I’m down to really trying to understand the free market vision you’re advocating. If it’s truly logical, possible, and just, Ill be the first to sign up.

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