The Plastic Hippo

February 8, 2015

In off the Broon

Filed under: Politics,Science,Society,World — theplastichippo @ 3:00 am
Tags: , , ,


Globalization, for all its efficacious benefits, has resulted in some odd consequences. Once we realise that a reduction in the milk chocolate content in a Cadbury Cream Egg is nothing more than a marketing ploy to flog Easter confections in January, we can understand that global economics is not a plot but is merely market driven.

Consider the latest marketing ploy regarding Newcastle Brown Ale. The pride of the Tyne and Student Union favourite; this fine ale once slaked the thirsts of coal miners, shipwrights and engineers. Sadly, ships are now built in Taiwan and coal is carried to Newcastle all the way from China. However, unlike the Silk Road or the Slave Trade, it`s not all one way traffic. It seems that more bottles of dog are sold in the United States than in the United Kingdom and the lucrative American market with all its curious eccentricities, must be catered for. It seems that some consumer groups in the US are unhappy with an ingredient in the Broon recipe and so global brewing giant Heineken have decided to change Newcastle Brown Ale.

The offending ingredient is a naturally occurring chemical produced in the manufacturing of caramel colouring and is called 4-methylimidazole. Despite having a frightening sounding chemical name, 4-MEI been declared safe by the European Food Safety Authority and the US Food and Drug Administration. Problem is; 4-MEI makes Newcastle Brown Ale…well…brown.

Heineken, who acquired Scottish and Newcastle in an aggressive take-over in 2008, produce Newcastle Brown in Tadcaster which, as every American consumer group knows, is in Yorkshire. At one point, “ale” was dropped from the brand name because some advertising executives thought it sounded “old-fashioned”. It was reintroduced when it didn`t make a blind bit of difference to sales. So to please the American market, Newcastle Brown Ale should rebrand to indicate the true contents of the bottle. From now on, dog shall be known as Tadcaster Lite – or Newcastle Amber Ale as it was referred to before that ale disappeared in the 1980s.

This is Globalization at its very best. The market requires a product and the supplier changes the product to accommodate the most lucrative market which, in effect, creates a new product and leaves the original product by the wayside. The only proper Land Rover now available is classed as “vintage” and, to use the vernacular of dodgy used car salesmen, “pre-enjoyed”. Once upon a time we went for a coffee; now we ask if we can “get” a Starbucks. It is comforting to know that we can “take” a nutritious Big Mac in Samarkand or “get” a refreshing Pepsi or Coca-Cola (containing 4-MEI) on the slopes of Machu Picchu. Emergency evacuation, treatment and ludicrously expensive medication cures unfortunate white people who have had the misfortune of contracting Ebola but would obviously provoke a profit warning if administered to West Africans.

Globalization works if applied correctly and not as a crude economic mechanism to maximise profit and generate even more wealth for the one per cent that controls it. The International Monetary Fund defined Globalization 15 years ago based on four basic concepts:
Freedom to trade and undertake transactions
Freedom to transfer capital and investment across national borders
The free migration and movement of people
The importance of sharing knowledge and expertise

So far so good, especially if you want to sell weapons to tyrants or hide your money in dodgy tax havens and corrupt hedge funds or impose border control on the victims of oppression fleeing for their lives or keep your wonder drug locked up in a cupboard until demand outstrips supply. As with all great ideas, Globalization and Newcastle Brown Ale have been misappropriated by parasites addicted to profit. If you think that this is the tip of the iceberg, then you should see what TTIP is going to do to national sovereignty. Corporate “identities” will be allowed, enshrined in irreversible law, to override governments.

Some bloke at the European Central Bank decided that he was not happy with an election result so cut off the entitled money supply to that sovereign nation causing immanent economic collapse. Nice.

We can all agree that Putin is a nasty of work and that yet another European and, therefore, World War is a possibility. But rather than stage “false flag” atrocities to justify conflict, the oil producing cartels have increased production to drive down the price of crude to de-stabilise the Russian economy which is dependent on oil and gas exports. Fracking is a red herring and energy prices will rocket regardless of regime change in Russia and Venezuela or the cutting off of revenue to the murderous Islamic State numbskulls and might even give rebellious Scottish nationalists pause for thought. The wind of change will not be blowing through turbines and the House of Saud might pick up some bargain second “pre-enjoyed” mansions in Mayfair, Sochi, Caracas and Edinburgh.

The US consumer groups so concerned about 4-MEI in Broon base their fear on a report that concluded in the fact that mice when injected with massive amounts of the chemical developed lung tumours. Clearly, the consumer groups have never enjoyed a heavy night on the dog in the Bigg Market of Newcastle. It is categorically not lung tumours caused by 4-MEI that will kill mice – it is being hit over the head with an empty Newcastle Brown bottle.

There is an urban myth on Tyneside that has persisted for decades suggesting that an entire ward at the Royal Victoria Infirmary is set aside for patients suffering the effects of Newcastle Brown Ale or “lunatic soup” as it is known in Byker. Some years ago, I met a doctor who worked in the A&E department at the RVI and could not resist asking her if this myth had any foundation. She debunked it as nonsense but did reveal that triage on Friday and Saturday nights was described as the “Snooker Room”. Yes – you guessed it – it`s not because a lot of the casualties were suffering carcinogenic lung tumours or the consequences of Globalization.

They were in off the Broon.

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