Thursday, 27 October 2011

Wankers... utter wankers

From the BBC:-
Canon Dr Giles Fraser, who has been sympathetic to the protest camp outside the London landmark, is expected to announce his resignation within days.
Differences over the handling of the protest are thought to have prompted his decision, says the BBC's religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott.
Demonstrators, who are protesting against corporate greed and inequality, have vowed to remain at the site for several weeks.
Oh, that's real nice. Here's a guy who's stuck his neck out for you and refused to move you because he thinks that using force to do this is wrong. He could have told the police to come, but he didn't, and as such, put himself in conflict with his employers.

Now, there's times when the weak have to let the strong fight for them, but in the case of a group of spoilt swampies, they really could have done the decent thing, packed up their tents and let a man keep his job. They'd probably have earnt some public respect. Instead, they're prepared to sacrifice someone who was once their saviour.

Wankers... utter wankers

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Brownfield Sites

From the Telegraph:-
He suggested that it was not a coincidence that a requirement forcing councils to allow new homes only to be built on previously developed brownfield sites was dropped from the draft planning documents.

This decision was “incomprehensible” because there was so much brownfield land from England’s industrial past which could be used for building.
Today's homework:-
1) Colour in the parts of England that count as their "industrial past". Yes, I know it's all over the place, but what's the really big places?
2) Colour in the parts of England that people want to live in.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Phillip Hammond... Public Servant

From The Guardian
The willingness of their elders to put them through it was encapsulated by Philip Hammond with words that ought to be etched on the minds of a generation. The richest man in the cabinet justified taking on interns for the princely wage of £0.00 by saying: "I would regard it as an abuse of taxpayer funding to pay for something that is available for nothing."
Re-inforces my view that he's about the only man in cabinet with any ability.

House Swap

From The Guardian
The government is to launch a "house swap" programme, reminiscent of Norman Tebbit's call for the jobless to "get on your bike", in an attempt to encourage people to move around the country to find work. 
The controversial plan to tackle the unemployment crisis means people living in social housing will be helped to uproot their families in order to chase jobs. Details of the scheme are yet to be finalised, but it is understood the plan would involve a nationwide database of house swaps and the removal of any barriers to people in social housingmoving between regions.
This sounds like a good idea, but there's only one problem: who is going to volunteer to move out of London to say, Manchester? You're an elderly couple, why are you going to do that?

This is one way in which council housing is a mess. With the private sector, people downsize and realise some capital by moving house. They have an incentive to move out of London and go to Somerset when they retire. For someone living in London in a council estate it means moving away from family.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

NHS Reforms

From the Guardian..
Dr Middleton said there was no great opposition to the planned move to place public health services such as smoking cessation within local authorities. "But the letter is a recognition from the public health community that the reforms proposed around the NHS are deeply damaging to the public health in themselves," he said. There was concern that they would lead to inequalities in healthcare and less access for the poorest and most deprived to the services they need.
"The experience of other countries that have 'liberated' their health systems has resulted in very poor health services for their communities. I'm thinking of Russia and China where a free market in health resulted in major falls in life expectancy and systems that had provided some safety net cover have failed," he said.
OK, the guy has this completely wrong. The research in The Lancet was around the effects of privatisation of the former Soviet Union in general and the unemployment that followed it, not of their health service.

And China?

life expectancy looking like a pretty steady upward climb to me....

and what do The Economist have to say about healthcare in China?
Privatisation, or at least greater private involvement, may therefore have a lot to be said for it. In Huailai County of Hebei Province, 75 km (45 miles) north-west of Beijing, officials quietly decided four years ago to allow township hospitals to be taken over by private contractors. Hospital staff there say treatment costs remain the same, but far more people use the facilities because of improved service and investment in new equipment. With a nice sense of irony, one hospital has even decorated its forecourt with one of Chairman Mao's slogans: “serve the people.”

Saturday, 1 October 2011

I Predict a Riot (Payout)

From the Telegraph:-
Police warn they may not be able to afford Tesco's £3m riot compensation bill
Tesco has been criticised by a police force after tabling a request for riot compensation that included a claim for just £40.
It's funny to see the police in this position. They can normally get away with being useless and doing nothing for the people that pay for them, but they're in a position where they're facing a law that will tell them to do it. For once, they don't have a choice.

And so what if one of their claims is for £40? If that's the cost of riot damage then the police had a right to claim it, and at no more than that.
In total, the retailer has asked for nearly £3m in compensation from police forces around the country, following the riots that tore through some high streets in August. It is likely that this is the biggest request from a single retailer.
The company is claiming under the Riot Damages Act, a piece of Victorian legislation that allows businesses and individuals affected by riot damage to claim directly from the police, rather than their own insurer.
Who cares if it's "Victorian Legislation"? It's on the statute books, so Tesco can use it. And I rather like it. Yes, it might mean the police have less money, but frankly they'll piss it away on some diversity bollocks anyway. I'd rather give it to Tesco shareholders (which in reality means our pensions).
In the immediate aftermath of the civil disturbances, the British Retail Consortium urged small retailers to put in their claims to make sure their businesses were not harmed.
However, the Greater Manchester Police Authority, which has been hit with 280 claims totalling £4.4m, has criticised Tesco for using the Act, saying there was no guarantee the police force would be able to afford all of the compensation. The force faces £134m budget cuts in the next five years.
Uh no. That's not how it works. If a court rules that Tesco get £4.4m in compensation then you'll pay it. If that means less money on speed cameras or busting narcotics sellers then that's what's going to happen.

And frankly, the Police should be entirely neutral about people enacting their rights under the law.
Peter Fahy, the Greater Manchester police chief, said: "Sainsbury's must be applauded for taking the moral high ground and recovering its own costs.
"I would like to encourage other large retailers to consider Sainsbury's stance. Absolutely we want to help small businesses and sole traders but punishing the police for the disorder is a bit like punishing the NHS when there is a flu epidemic."
That's a ridiculous comparison. You can get a flu jab, but you can't own a Glock. And in the absence of security guards owning Glocks, it's up to the police to deal with rioting. The response was terrible by the police. They only woke up to what was going on when it was basically over. I'd have some sympathy with the police if they'd stood up to anti-gun legislation in this country, but they never have. They could have told the government that law and order is helped by responsible members of the public owning guns, but they simply never have. They monopolised defending property, so it's down to them to do it.

There's nothing immoral about what Tescos are doing. Sainsburys probably had lower claims because they don't have so much electronic stuff as Tesco, so not worth the trouble. And morally, why should Tesco get higher insurance premiums because of Police incompetence?

Seriously, I hope Tesco get all they can, and maybe the police can go even further downhill. Take them down far enough and we can get some proper reform in this country.