Thursday, 29 June 2006

Positive Discrimination

In Segregationist America, in a time before civil rights (the last issue on which those on what is normally described as "the left" were anything other than utterly wrong) there were "Jim Crow laws" these were designed to keep Blacks from (amongst other things) sitting at the front of a bus and voting. Questions were asked like "how many pebbles on the beach?" if they were black, but "who's the president of the U.S.A. ?" if they were white. This is blatant discrimination and wrong.

I am certainly not in favour of laws to discriminate against people on the basis of race, but maybe a requirement to sit an A-level (or equivalent) in economics before anyone can sit in the Commons might weed out people who believe in (for example) the lump of Labour fallacy or the oft held view that profit is the difference between what you should and what you do pay for something. People who think like this are called "socialists". Perhaps the very act of studying what should be required for anyone who aspires to run for office, might get these idiots to see sense.

Socialism is nothing but economic illiteracy dressed up in a load of pompous pseudo-historical garbage and trite, adolescent philosophy. In its class-war rhetoric, it is just as hate-filled as facism. Socialism - a creed responsible for more deaths than anything other than religion - should be just as unacceptable in polite discourse as the Holocaust-denial or overt racism.



Wednesday, 28 June 2006

Bureaucracy

Bureaucracy is when the accumulation of the paper trail becomes more important than the outcome for the underlying consumer or client.


I have a client. He's been tried to sell some stock. He's not a big punter... £200 in shares which came as a bonus from his employer. He once queried whether they had been sent, and as a result the Registrars cancelled the share certificate, which he subsequently found. Not knowing any better, he disregarded the indemnity letter. Years later he came to sell the stock. He rang me, I checked with the Registrar - he did indeed own the shares, so I sold them. He sent us the share certificate - and we paid him out.

A couple of days after settlement the registrars told us the sale could not be honoured because of the indemnity applied for. So we need a new indemnity - could the registrars send him one? Yes: They sent one - but to an address they knew to be out of date. The client (who doesn't understand the inner workings of the stockmarket) called them to be told the address can only be changed in writing. Predictably the required form nessesary never arrived at his current address - it transpires that the change of address form was sent to the old address - to join the indemnity form and, no doubt years of dividend cheques.

So - the fucking west-country yokels at computer-fucking-share are happy to send my client's cheques, indemnity forms and other vital paperwork to an address they know to be incorrect - all because they don't have a fucking signature. He has called and identified himself, as have I, and the company I work for. "data protection" is the standard excuse, as it is for every petty fucking bureaucrat who is demanding a papertrail. And they keep sending stuff to the wrong address!

This helps no-one. I can't do my job of picking stocks because I'm spending time fucking about chasing signatures. Clients feel put upon by the constant demand for signatures and, frankly, I get sick of asking. Clients are confused about why things don't work.

Basically it all boils down to the fact that no-one trusts anyone anymore. There are crooks and Shysters in every profession - this paper trail makes it easier, not harder to defraud people. No matter how much someone stinks, I can open an account if they have a passport, driving licence and Utility bill. But I can't open an account for an old lady in sheltered accomodation, who's got loads of shares saved over her long and thrifty life, that she needs to sell to pay for her treatment. No utility bill, you see.

That's fucking bureaucracy. It is when common sence goes out the window in the search for a paper trail, with every bastard thing signed in triplicate. Leave professionals - stockbrokers, solicitors, doctors, hell - plumbers too, to get on with knowing the intricacies of their chosen calling. We don't need regulation that says how many signatures we need to give people what they already own. The only regulation you need - caveat emptor.



America the Unpopular, France the Crap

The world has a schitzophrenic attitude to the U.S.A. Its popular culture - Friends, Desperate Housewives and Eminem are devoured the world over by people in thrall to the glamour, even in France. Meanwhile over half of French people believe America to be "the greatest threat to world peace". This is the reality of Power - you can influence attitudes more profoundly than any other nation, but you'll be hated for it. There is a Legacy of Anti-British feeling in a lot of the world (as well as some genuine goodwill) as a result of our Imperial project.


It is tempting for a future American president - especially one from the Europhile East coast elite brought up with the existentalist novels of Camus and the music of Chopin, to try and buy favour with the world by abandoning the American Empire to chaos and withdrawing from Iraq before the job is done - to the applause of the Quai D'Orsai and the Left-bank and the sound of explosions of Civil War - not just in Iraq, but probably Saudi Arabia and Syria too.

America will remain the Worlds' largest economy for some time. It is unlikely that any Military will seriously challenge the U.S. for power and reach for decades. American Hegemony will remain and therefore so will the influence - people want to understand the big beast and will be drawn to the popular culture. They will also resent the power, hower lightly it touches. America though has the responsibility as worlds policeman, and can't shake it off.

American presidents must therefore be leaders in the real sense - and be prepared to do what is right and often unpopular - like topple Saddam hussein. While they are attempting to bring liberal democracy to the world, the U.S. will have my support. Maybe they'll do it better next time. More often than not, Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand will be alongside too. Remember Kipling's advice (if you'll forgive the paternalist racism of his ninteenth century Language). He's talking about the Phillipines, but he might as well be talking about Iraq or Afganhistan:

Take up the White Man's burden
The savage wars of peace
Fill full the mouth of Famine

And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly

Bring all your hopes to nought.


Take up the White Man's burden
Have done with childish days

The lightly proferred Laurel

The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood
Through all the thankless years
Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom,
The judgment of your peers!

The French state, which is always most willing to offer that judgemet, is the poster-boy for dirigiste state-run interventionism, so beloved of leftist intellectuals since the fall of the Soviet Union. The Nation that brought us the first Communist revolution and Totalitarian terror, caused the First global war and is already on its fifth republic (about one every 43 years) is in no position to lecture anyone about how to run the world. They can't even make drinkable wine anymore. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, leftist bien-pensants chose France to Lead the Non-American way. This was a fucking silly choice as the French have never got anything right. Let's start with the revolution - when they cut the head off their king, and give you some of the Triumphs of French diplomacy and statecraft:
  • A reign of terror leading to mass murder and famine across the whole country.
  • The Rise of a Military dictator who plunged the world into a war lasting on and off 13 years.
  • Bending over for the Germans 3 times is 70 years.
  • Despite the fact the French were defending their own territory - they were the ones to mutiny in 1917
  • Leaving the British Empire to do the work.
  • Despite this and against American and British advice they pushed harsh reparations onto Germany at versailles, leading directly to the rise of Hitler.
  • They Manged to lose WWII twice.
  • Then Refused to give up their empire graciously leaving a mess for others to try to clean up
  • They then refused to support the most effective military alliance in History
  • They are Responsible for the CAP and the worst aspects of the EU.
  • They were complicit in the Horror of Rwanda
  • And were Saddam Hussein's largest western trading partner.
Basically, if the French state disagrees with a course of action, the chances are it's the right thing to do. France's national symbol is a cockerel. A strutting noisy creature full of puffed up chest and pride, but little else. How apt.



Tuesday, 27 June 2006

The Power of Prayer

Ain't all it's cracked up to be .

"I've always figured that if God wanted us to go to church a lot He'd have given us bigger behinds to sit on and smaller heads to think with."
P.J. O' Roarke: Holidays in hell.



Monday, 26 June 2006

Nukes

£25 Billion - a lot of money.

What does this buy us? Influence certainly, but so does being the 4th or 5th largest economy in the world (depending on whether you count China's black economy). Having the world's second largest deployable* conventional military helps too. Being able to pull strings in UN backroom negotiations is also a useful tool, though it seems to benefit the Americans more than us these days.

Is an independent nuclear deterent really the answer to today's threats? Obviously they are no use at all against terorists - we would never use them against an enemy who hides with non-combatants. They aren't much use against the "failed states" where our conventional military is deployed. Would we ever use them against an enemy's infrastructure? Military concentrations?

25 billion buys a lot of radios and body armour for our boys. Maybe they can get a new CVR(T), or more than the 388 or so tanks they've got. Maybe we could fund another infantry Batallion or two. The Navy can finally get its aircraft carriers ** and the Royal Air force can get a few decent planes.

Surely the arguments against spending the money on a such a costly, Useless weapon are compelling.

But no. If you seriously believe that the money would be spent re-equiping our underfunded conventional forces, you're wrong. It will be pissed into the NHS's bottemless pit or wasted on "diversity outreach co-ordinators" like the rest of the extra money this pathetic government has got its grubby paws on. This will be of no use in confronting North Korea, Iran and others, who are busily, if incompetently developing a nuclear capability. The US and the Western Powers cannot rely on conventional military hegemony for ever - can a resergent China be contained for ever by conventional forces should they decide to cross the Taiwan Straights or (heaven forbid) the South China sea in force? For this and threats unknown, the threat of mutually assured destruction remains the best defence. And, with such matters of life and death - civilisation's survival at stake, we need to retain some independent control.

If there are such terrible weapons as Intercontinental Balistic missiles armed with multiple Thermo-Nuclear warheads, then I want some with the Bloody Union-Jack on top of it.

That's my contribution to the debate. I agree with Gordon Brown, and I've just expressed my opinon. But I'm not the PM elect subverting the democratic process for low political ends in doing so. Even when the Goblin King is right, he's wrong: The reason that the presbyterian bastard came out as a Nuke-lover is to distance himself from his left wing supporters - however irresponsible it was. If Claire "smacked arse" Short can't support him, then He's probably OK - or so No. 11's psephologists are hoping.

Of course we were always going to replace Trident. Even the Commies on the Left of the Labour party know that. (which is why they can be so vocal - they know they have no influence over the decision). His Tonyness has called for a debate on the subject. We all now know this to be a charade. The decision's been made. If only for the profound contempt for democracy that Gordon is displaying, I want to see him humiliated at the polls.

*There are only 2 nations capable of putting an independent division anywhere in the world. The Yanks and the Brits - there are bigger armies, but the Chinese couldn't cross the taiwan straights, let alone an ocean.
**Check out the Difference between a proper (American) carrier and a V/STOL carrier in the Picture and look how hard the little one is having to work to keep up!



Football

I watched England play yesterday, which was alright. We won. Job done (God, it was dull).

I then watched the Netherlands Portugal game. It was a much more exciting game - the Dutch were hammering at the Portugese goal in increasingly desperate attempts to equalise. The Portugese were defending well. As a spectacle however, the game was marred by some hapless refereeing by Valentin Ivanov whose promiscuous booking ruined the game as a contest. Worse by far was the sight of cloggies and (Is there a derogatory national nickname for the Portugese?) dropping to the floor in mock agony at the merest contact to influence the hopeless ref. Figo's "headbutt" was truly pathethic as was Van Bommel's reaction, and the Portugese talisman recieved a yellow card. Figo got his own back though: Boulahrouz brushed Figo's face with an arm - as far as I could see accidentally, and got sent off for his trouble. There were 16 yellow cards on the night - many for what I would describe as a "commited challenge" - a foul perhaps, but no more. 4 Men had their careers blighted by a world-cup sending off by a mixture of cheating and bizzare interpretation of the rules.

Rolling around on the floor writhing in "agony" following the kind of contact that people who play other sports brush off, is cheating of a most insidious kind. It undemines what sport is supposed to be about... physical courage, teamwork, but above all respect and fair play. I have never seen a Rugby Player overreact to get someone sent off - but then Rugby is played by better people.

I'm afraid I agree with the American opinion - that Soccer is a game for Girls. Which is a shame, because I actually enjoy playing it. I am beginning to actively dislike watching it. Beautiful game, my arse.



Friday, 23 June 2006

It's the Girlfriend's new blog

So I suppose I'd better link it. (Yes, even curmudgeonly political anoracks with foul mouths and worse tempers can get a Girlfriend). If anyone's nasty to her, I'll pull their arms out of their sockets and beat them to death with the soggy end.



Wednesday, 21 June 2006

After the Revolution....

By Order of The* Very British Dude

The following crimes will be punishable by Extended and Imaginative Torture followed by public** Hanging, Drawing and Quartering.







  1. Use of the words "chairperson" or "spokesperson". It's "Spokesman" and "Chairman" whether or not the person is a Woman. "Madam Chairman" is the correct usage. With this policy in place the Ironic use of "spokesbeing" should become redundant, but will be permissable for the time being. Henry Higgins to become "minister for grammar and Correct usage"
  2. The Following motoring offenses:
    1. Blocking of Yellow box junctions
    2. Undertaking
    3. Hogging the outside lane
    4. Ownership of a Porshe Cayane or BMW (any model)
  3. Use of the word "Dialectic" in political discourse
  4. Arguing with the referee in premiership football matches.
  5. The Drinking of budweiser "beer" (How in fuck's name did Anheuser Busch get to be the world's largest brewer with such a grossly inadequate product?)
  6. Readership of the "Daily Mail" or "Daily Mirror"
  7. Having been, at any point a Labour Home Secretary
  8. Having been, at any point Polly Toynbee
  9. Federasty
Would anyone like to add to this list? Before anyone does, I've already thought about Gordon Brown. There will be special punishmenets, let's call them "windfall punishments" reseved for the Goblin King involving, but not exclusively using ants of the genus solenopsis. Punishments which would make Torquemada go crying for his mummy.

*I've mentioned before that use of the definite article is a sign of incipient megalomaina
** I'm thinking half time entertainment at football matches



Tuesday, 20 June 2006

Every Year the Same....

Men play at least 3 sets, Women play at most 3 sets. TV audiences and black market prices are higher for men's tennis, probably because men's tennis is more competitive (6-0, 6-0 is wearysomly common in the opening rounds of the ladies' tournament). So men get paid more. When women play best of 5, then they deserve equal pay. Simple really.

The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club should be applauded for upholding equality by paying men more for more tennis played, not excoriated for it's "Victorian-Era attitudes".

In any case, tennis is barely a sport. It's what fat, unfit people do when they're pretending to excersise.



Barely worth fisking.

Arabella Weir in today's Grauniad:

"Do I sound like a middle-class leftie? Probably, but as long as I send my kids to a multicultural state school and don't vote Tory there's nothing wrong with that."

Can you believe the pathetic self-loathing prejudice this displays? The idea that your moral worth is defined by your choice of state "education" for your children is offensive, and explains why the Labour party have made such a hash of educating the Countrys' children. Being middle-class means you have no right to an opinion? Voting Tory is morally wrong? I'm sorry Arabella, fuck off to Islington and stick to comedy*, your political comment is worthless.

*actually, I seem to remember you as the "not very funny one" in The Fast Show. And yes. Your bum does look big in that.



Wednesday, 14 June 2006

Why I'm not in favour of the Withdrawal Method.

The EU sucks - and the devils kitchen explains why in his inimicable style.


I don't deny it.

Through the CAP It starves africans and the only nation to benefit consitently is France (OK maybe Spain too).

The Euro is collapisng under the weight of its internal contradictions caused by monetary union without political integration - i.e. loss of control of monetary policy means that eveyone except the West Germans have the wrong interest rate - the rest of the EU is either Booming or Busting. The Italians are thinking of withdrawing as a result. On top of lousy monetary policy, The Social model condemns 10% of Euorpeans to perpetual idleness on welfare.

On top of that its a venal, corrupt and self-serving political class seems only interested in the accrual of power, with ne'er a thought given to the principal of subsidiarity.

Its corrupt, It's wasteful, It prevents by treaty the UK from developing trading relations with the (much more dynamic) anglosphere and commonwealth.

In short, the EU is the worst thing to happen to this country since the war. (Aneurin Bevan comes a close second)

So why not pull out?

Well we've seen supranational institutions fall apart before (lets call them "empires" - that's what they are - whether or not they are volountary). It is at their moment of death that they spew the most violence. The EU is not yet at the stage where its dissolution would lead to war, and we do not wish to see it become such an empire through "ever closer union". With the UK in, the EU is more likely to develop into a wider union of 30 or more members, hopefully cementing some form of democracy amongst its members and potential applicants, and stopping short of totally superceding national governments.

Many commentators suggest that because most of British law comes from the EU directly that we're already there. We're not, and to say so is a misrepresentation that does disservice to the Eurosceptic position.

50% or so of our trade is with the EU the lowest by far of the major European Economies. I do not subscribe to the view that this is at threat from withdrawl, but it is at risk of economic collapse in the Eurozone. Do we really want to see that proportion of our trade - at high margains due to proximity - wither as economies of the Eurozone collapse under the statist policies a deeper EU would inevitably develop? Yes, we need to be free to develop global trading partnerships, but not at the cost of the economy of our biggest single partner.

We are the only force that can budge the EU off its treadmill to soviet-style disaster. Without us the Poles, Danes and Czechs and Balts - lovers of the free market all - would be totally unable to stand up to France. Even the Germans hide behind our free market shield against the surrender monkeys - allow us to take the opprobium, whilst supporting our aims.

Without us, the EU will destroy Europe. The only way we can save the people of Europe is to stay in the EU and destroy it from within - by pointing out the contradictions and absurdities - eventually reality will prevail and a democratic party in Europe - Berlin or even Paris - might start saying things about the EU that the Citizens of the EU might want to hear. Who knows - we might even then be able to reform it.

Without us Europe will descend into anti-democratic bureacratic sclerosis - that might need to be overthrown violently. We do not want that to happen from a self-interested and humanitarian position. That is why we cannot unilaterally pull out. The We must do our duty and save Europe once again from its march to self-imposed totalitarianism.

Enough of the high Principle. Here's the low politics.

Pulling out of the federalist EPP gives the Conservatives concrete Eurosceptic credentials which should absolve them of the need to talk about Europe at all. This should see off the UKIP threat. However we must try to build a coalition within the European Parliament of like minded reasonable sceptics, so that we do not have to sit with nationalist and facist nutters. That is why time is being taken by the Conservatives. William Hague articulated the position eloquently on "question time" last week in the face of unitied hostility from federast panellists.

At present, "withdrawl" is seen as an extreme position. Euroscepticism without advocating withdrawl is much closer to the British public's view, and that is why this is the line taken by the British Conservatives. UKIP doesn't get much of the vote. Once in power, it is much easier to present a radical policy (sabotage of the EUs institutions precipitating either collapse or abandonment of "ever closer union" and a return to the free market concept) as "sensible" rather than "extreme". It is then up to a Europhile opposition to argue in public against a strand of opinion that polling data demonstrates to be the settled will of the British people.

Let them try then, don't give them ammunition now.



Tuesday, 13 June 2006

Would soccer please just get over itself?


This isn't my flag, I'm not English

This is, because I'm an anglo-scottish mongrel with an Irish Surname, and a Welsh great Grandfather.

Though I respect the rights of those who wish to fly the cross of st. George to represent England, to fly it. I am uncomfortable however with English Nationalism and feel little for its flag, because it heralds the break up of a union which has enriched us all.

I'm not particularly interested in this version of football, as I find the diving and play acting disgustingly unmanly. I want to administer The "boot of Justice" (as my scrummaging coach used to say) to the pansies in nylon as they roll around on the floor looking to the ref. for a yellow card.

and I regret that this version of football didn't make it to become the Global game, as it is a superior game played by superior people. It is a game that teaches teamwork, courage and respect in a way that soccer clearly does not.

But if England do well, I'll be happy; Hell, I might even watch some games. If not, I've got £50 which says they'll be knocked out by the Quarter finals - probably on penalties, after all - we've got a southgate on our squad. Low expectations cannot be dashed.

God, I'm controversial.



Friday, 9 June 2006

Anyone Want to Live with A Very British Dude?

Click Here

The room would suit anyone working in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire or London. Socialists, animal rights activists and washing up phobics need not apply. The flat will be decorated tastefully in an understated traditional style, and G&T will be served at 6pm sharp on the patio.



Thursday, 8 June 2006

Wishful thinking?

Until recently, I have always been in favour of the crushing of the liberals. I've always thought them to be silly, leftist and unrealistic Junior Common Room wonks and sandal wierd-beards, without the nessesary skills of compromise and realpolitic to govern. Their vindictive targeting of Tory seats when they were well placed to smash into Labour at the last election indicated a want of strategic vision. There's no room for two parties of the left - there needs to be a party of the right. So I've always wanted to see the liberals die as a political force. But can they replace Labour as the Dominant force on the Left?

The Liberals are suddenly talking sense on tax - perhaps they realise that people eventually get sick of having their pockets picked. Raise personal allowances, a simpler tax system, and a scrapping of the old socialist idea of a 50p band. The Green taxation I can take or leave, but if done sensibly, could make positive contributions to the way people move. Is this an indication that the political weathervane of Liberal Democrat policy is suggesting that the people want a tax-cut? Are they thinking about what would work rather than defining themselves against the other two parties?


I think this heralds a deeper change in the British political landscape.

The Labour party is a hollowed out husk, without members or councillors it lacks the troops to fight in the trenches of a close election - something of a Liberal speciality. Both the Liberals and Tories are growing membership and, crucially have councillors to organise the campaign at the local level. Furthermore, with the Liberals becomming a "progressive" party in the European Social Democrat mould, there's nowhere for socialism's pathetic class warriors to go other than an increasingly shrill labour party, but progressives can jump ship. The Blairites are losing the argument in the Labour movement, which is itching to lurch to the Left - More tax, less market, less choice in health and education more protection, higher benefits.

Will anyone else join them?

Progressives - the reasonable left of the political spectrum are abandoning the Labour Party in droves. New Labour has pointed out the absurdity of the socialist positions on ... well... pretty much everything really. How long can a party go on with policies that are fundamentally opposed by the grass roots - who remain largely unreconstructed Jack and Deirdre Sprats, who dislike having their silly ideas derided and abandoned by their own leadership? Governing sensibly is impossible with such socialists pulling you back. The reason that progressives in the wider country are leaving their socialist allies is that the Labour Government is now demonstrating what we on the right have always known - that socialists are inherently authoritarian - to the disgust of progressives and conservatives alike. How long before progressive commentators start coming out as Liberals? Could Blairites cross the floor in a Brown government to join the liberals?

The PLP is the largest party - but 70 or so MP's have ultra-thin majorities. The Lib Dems and the Tories should benefit at the next general election. The Tories are looking good for a thin Majority. The question is - how bad can it be for labour? Without foot soldiers or councillors to marshall them, they will be unable to get out the Vote - except in the kind of constituancy which weighs the Labour vote. Constituencies like Hull, where a strategically shaved monkey could be(and is?) a Labour Candidate, and still Romp home, will continue to return Socialists. Middle England, however is aware of the inconsistency - the split if you will - at the heart of the Labour Movement and will reject it decisively.

This split between progresives and socialists - like the Tories over Europe and the Corn Laws before that - could destroy the Labour party for a generation. Most Labour people ( and I know some who actually register on my moral scale as "people") are utterly disgusted with Blair. Opposition to his regime is strongest within his own party. The Tories are itching to get their big guns out on Brown, but see in Blair someone with whom they can do business for the time being (with a clothes peg on the nose naturally). Blair or Brown: either way, Labour's doomed for the time being. Unlike previously there's somewhere for disaffected non-tribal supporters of an imploding regime to go: The Liberals - whose silly tax policies and sandals prevented them fully capitalising on Tory Malaise in the 90's.

Mass Defections of New Labour progressives, who only support this Government's Nazi authoritarianism because of mispalced tribal loyalty, could leave Labour as an extreme rump of dyed-in-the-wool sub-marxists. Could the liberals come up the middle in this environment and take their place as the second party of the UK?

There are two reasons why not: The Labour Movement (as opposed to the Party) has deep and abiding tribal loyalties to draw on. The Liberal are not yet coherent enough to be seen as party of government. They are a protest movement who underperform in close elections.

It is an abiding rule of British politics to not underestimate the Tories, however accurately they shoot at their own feet; Likewise; never overstimate the Liberals whose ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory (how disasterous was their leadership election?) beggars belief. Nevertheless, this time it could be different - it depends on whether Sir Menzies can undo the damage the election campaign inflicted on the party's reputation and rise above his mediocre commons performances to give the party a base. If Labour implodes, and socailism remains discredited, they've got an open goal to become the second party - and idealogical home to lefties and progressives. They need therefore to be ruthless - oppose the Conservatives, but go for the socialist jugular - focus your limited resources on taking key Labour Marginals. A good showing next time could fatally weaken the Labour Party in the two horse race on the left of British politics - all you need is credibility.

I disagree with much Liberal policy in a lot of areas - but they have a commitment to civil liberties. Now they're talking sense on tax. If they drop their electoral reform and Europe fetishes - hell, I might even join them (and pigs might fly...) but I seriously urge reasonable progressives to join the Lib Dems and abandon your socailist allies - for the good of the country. Labour has demonstrated unfitness to govern. It's up to you Liberals to take up the baton. Don't fluff it this time.



Wednesday, 7 June 2006

Sleeping with the Enemy

How much has the NHS blown on its computer system? £20 billion? Let's put that in perspective: The Navy costs us less every year. Yet when I have an appointment with a specialist - can they retrieve my x-ray?

"The archive is down for planned mainenance"

It beggars belief. When I got my X-ray done on a monday afternoon, there were 2 assistants in the department answering phones and doing clerical stuff and when I rang -at 12:30 the following friday, they were both off for lunch and the phones didn't get answered. That's the difference between the private and public sectors. If your pay-cheque depends on satisfying a customer, you make damn sure someone answers your phone. If your customer has nowhere else to go, then why bother? Do your vital system down maintenance on a weekday morning - who cares about patient inconvenience.

Meanwhile, my train from London was delayed - probably because some unionised dickhead decided he couldn't be bothered to "work" today. The smug individual who delivered the news without an apology had the gall to say "don't blame me". Of course the railways are private, but the public sector ethos permeates them. The cattle have nowhere else to go - so why bother treating the travelling public as anything other than irritating livestock. Pure producer capture.

So "Dave" is talking about loving the public sector is he?

Well believe it or not, he's right to - constantly excoriating something does no good in morale or delivery, but the public sector must realise that reform of the system is nessesary so that the incentives for managers in the public services are in favour of public need rather than producer convenience. The public sector must know that the money tap is to be turned off - probably by Gordon Brown as even he bends to economic reality, therefore jobs will have to go, probably by a hiring freeze. Pay increases are likely to be less generous than previously. Public services must be more responsive. Why weren't the phones answered in the radiology dept on friday? Because no-one thought that it was that important. Why was my train delayed? because the driver was late, yet so confident that management wouldn't fire him that he can more or less roll up whenever's good for him.

The Sainted Nurses and Teachers probably do have an emotional stake in their professions (even Capitalist lizards like me have pride in a job well done). Can the same really be said for train drivers? Bureaucrats? Or is the public sector to them a safe pay-cheque that requires little effort? I've worked in the DTI and "work" was entirely optional as far as I coud see; I suspect the latter.

So whilst being nice to those bits of the public sector who do a good job - firemen, nurses teachers, the police (outside London) the FCO etc - we should ride the incompetent and lazy hard. We should not be afraid to decry the risk-averse gravy-train mentality that pervades much of the civil service, the shocking levels of absenteeism, sickness and days lost to industrial action that plague government-run services. We should point out that the private sector does some things much better: Man Mangement and customer service. We should also point out why: Incentives and Accountability. Business can pay the hard-working well and sack the incompetent and idle. The Unionized public sector can't do this at present - and that is the reform that is needed. Governement should give a lead - by sacking Prescott, and Dave should be wary of cosying up to Brown's client state.



Tuesday, 6 June 2006

James Leal


I learned today that a friend and former colleague, James Leal died at his home on Friday aged just 30. James was a hugely respected analyst, enthusistic councillor for Redbridge in Essex, music lover and witty and erudite company on "broker booze-ups". He was honest to his core and a good friend. My thoughts go out to his family and many friends at this very sad time.



Friday, 2 June 2006

Martini, Shaken, not stirred


I darkened the doors of a casino for the first time in many years last night. I was able to, in part because of the liberalisation of gambling by this government. Naturally I had to demonstrate that I wasn't a columbian Coca lord or an Al-Quaeda financier by producing a driving licence (no - I don't understand it either), but I was allowed to go in and risk my hard-earned loot on a turn of pitch and toss, more or less immedately.

This is good. As is the liberalisation of drinking laws (though there are issues - particularly for live entertainment licences with which I am not happy). Freedom of the individual to indulge in a little dangerous behaviour without the nanny state looking on is a good thing.

So if you are allowed to bet your wages on the Roulette wheel (I made a killing last night on "Voicins de Zero": 2 chips on 0,2,3 split; 4-7 split, 12-15 split, 18,21 split, 19-22 split; 2 Chips on 25-26-28-29 corner and 32-35 split) then why do you have to be protected from the financial services industry? Why does the nanny state regulate to make products like pensions and insurance, that we all need, carry health warnings which make it appear that all financial services companies are out to get you? Casinos are out to get you - hence the free booze on the floor, but this is not made clear to the punter - why should it be? The Casino is loaded (if you obey the rules for example of Black Jack) by about 3-5% against you. This is roughly the oberse of the real-terms annual return of the stock-market over the 20th century (8%). If you like, the stock market is a Casino loaded in your favour. Yet government regulations make it more unlikely that we all put money away, when the government's own reports indicate we are not saving enough for retirement.

Here's the reason: Casinos have lobbied effectively. A Labour heartland (blackpool) is going to benefit from the "super casino". Booze in general and pubs in particular are a classless institutions with working-class heritage. The Beverage companies, exemplified by Diageio are seen as "young" and "Funky". These industries benefit therefore from deregulation - despite marketing disgusting alcopops to children. The City on the other hand, is manned by Public School boys in pin-stripe suits. The public needs to be protected from these unreconstructed Tory toffs.

On such petty class hatreds are the affairs of state decided by this shower of fuck-wits who happen to run Britain at the moment.

Oh - and I really like the look of the Casino Royale remake - is Bond returning from cartoon character he's become towards Flemming's darker creation?



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