Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Neither a borrower or a lender be

I had a run in with the business's bank the other day.

I run separate sterling, dollar and euro accounts so that I don't get tied up in too much foreign exchange nonsense. As it happened, due to VAT crap with HMRC I needed more pounds for a short period. I didn't want to convert dollars as I would need to change them back to dollars in the not too distant future with all the exchange rate costs and losses.

Easy I thought. A job for an overdraft. So I asked the bank for a £20k overdraft. No problem as I had way more dollars than is guaranteed by the Government. But no the bank insisted they needed my personal guarantee for a business overdraft. No problem I said but I wanted a personal guarantee from the bank directors for my dollars not covered by the Government.

Oddly enough the bank directors seem rather less confident in their business than I do in mine. So I ended up converting to dollars to pay a VAT bill that was refunded to me a few weeks later.

Monday, 31 October 2011


North Yorkshire chief constable admitted gross misconduct in helping a relative during a recruitment drive.
The police authority refused to renew his fixed term contract which expires in May 2012.
He will receive a payout of £200,000.
Home Office regulations require senior officers to be compensated if they are unable to complete 30 years' pensionable service.
Mr Maxwell would only complete that period if he stayed in the force until 2013.
Simple, demote him and give him a broom until his 30 years are up. And change the regulations.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Oh, to live in a democracy

One issue I feel strongly about is the EU.  So today's debate in the commons on having a referendum on the EU is of great interest to me.

Whether you are for or against the EU is beside the point.  99.5% of you can lobby your MP and make your views known, and you never know it might even make the tiniest bit of a difference to the outcome.

On the other hand the good burghers of Buckingham are disenfranchised. We can lobby our MP as much as we like and, unless there is a tied result, the person elected to  represent our interests doesn't even get to vote.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Recent events

I have not commented on recent events because of the torrent of words that have flooded out of and continue to flood out of the MSM and the blogosphere.

I will however discuss one small point. During the riots I heard comments along the lines of do parents know where there kids are.  It is clear that many of the kids are "feral" and out of control. What hasn't been asked is how many of the parents, usually singular, are anything other than "feral" themselves.

The malaise is multi generational and not limited to the current batch of young men and women.

One small snippit in today's paper struck me. This was about a 15 year old boy accused of raping a 13 year old. "The teenager was bailed to go back to his children's home".  The home is in loco parantis and responsible for the upbringing and behaviour of the boy. Will the responsible adult be disciplined for failing to ensure their charge was not rioting? Is there even such a thing as a responsible adult?

Until we punish public employees who fail to do their jobs then there is no chance of any improvement in any field of society.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011


Just rang my doctor to make an appointment.  I can't make the appointment until tomorrow morning as the first available are on Monday and the appointments can't be made more than 48 hours in advance. I have to ring at 8:30 on the dot or I'll be too late to book one.

That's got to be another stupid government target.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Another Little Ice Age?

Scientific opinion is shifting:

"If we are right, this could be the last solar maximum we'll see for a few decades," Hill said. "That would affect everything from space exploration to Earth's climate."

A quote from a meeting of the American Astronomical Society. See:

"Currently, the sun is in the midst of the period designated as Cycle 24 and is ramping up toward the cycle's period of maximum activity. However, the recent findings indicate that the activity in the next 11-year solar cycle, Cycle 25, could be greatly reduced. In fact, some scientists are questioning whether this drop in activity could lead to a second Maunder Minimum, which was a 70-year period from 1645 to 1715 when the sun showed virtually no sunspots.
"We expected to see the start of the zonal flow for Cycle 25 by now, but we see no sign of it," Hill said. "The flow for Cycle 25 should have appeared in 2008 or 2009. This leads us to believe that the next cycle will be very much delayed, with a minimum longer than the one we just went through." 

Hill estimated that the start of Cycle 25 could be delayed to 2021 or 2022 and will be very weak, if it even happens at all."

Friday, 3 June 2011

Is the West free?

A flashmob in Washington has felt the full force of the law, by being forcibly arrested by police - for dancing in public. They'd gathered at the Jefferson Memorial in defiance of a ban on dancing at the monument. Among those held were RT America presenter Adam Kokesh, who says he was slammed to the ground by officers. The ban came in during 2008 when an activist sued police for arresting her for public dancing. The group say they were paying tribute to her as a champion of the First Amendment, guaranteeing freedom, and in response to US District Judge John D. Bates' ruling that denounced dancing on the site.

/end quote

The Americans can go over board but it couldn't happen here could it?


POLICE in Birmingham have obtained a dispersal order for the city centre.

Under the order, officers will have the power to move on any group of two or more people deemed to be acting anti-socially. Officers can also arrest anyone in breach of the order.

/end quote

So if the police decide a couple bopping in th street in Brum is anti social they can be dispersed or arrested.

And some people think the west is free :(

h/t to Captain Ranty and OH.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

NHS. what to say?

Following on from yesterday's farrago SWMBO phoned her GP this morning to arrange a chat on the phone. "Tuesday at 3:20pm". He only does 3 phone appointments a day. WTF?

So she called the consultants secretary who seems to be a gem. He'll see her in the morning at 8:50 - provided her notes are back. After all it can take more than 24 hours for the notes to get from one department to another...

Please remind me why does anyone like this bloated useless organization?

SWMBO persuaded me that because her situation was potentially serious the NHS would be as quick as going private. That's the last time I believe that crap. For less than a price of a car I could have had this sorted weeks ago.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

NHS Revisited - Again and Again

The sign says: Corridor must be absolutely clear of obstructions at all times.

I had to take the above photo while waiting for SWMBO at the local NHS dive today.

Another unimpressive hospital visit.  SWMBO has a potentially cancerous polyp in the colon and went in today to have it removed.  So after a day of purging and starvation we duly arrive at a local NHS dive joint, aka hospital.

While I wait SWMBO disappears for surgery. 2 hours later she reappears and nothing done.  Depsite having previously had a guided tour of her innards and been introduced to her appendix the quack decides the op is beyond him and referred her to a London joint. Typical inefficiency.

My niece who has had serious cancer went for a scan yesterday, 31st May. All prepped up and then was told the doctor wanted the scane done in June so she was sent on her way scanless.

My daugther was told by hospital that they would fit dental braces at Easter. My wife chased at the beginning of May and an appointment was made. They turn up at the hospital and see the quack who didn't know why they had come as she shouldn't expect the fitting until July.  It appears that the receptionist had been so busy chatting on the first visit that she failed to make the fitting appointment.

Isn't the NHS great - not.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Liberal Democrats? What a laff!

Last night the House of Lords voted down a proposal for elected police commissioners. 13 Limp Dem lords voted to oppose the government's proposals.

The only reason I can think they could oppose the idea is that we might choose a more robust form of policing that deals with our priorities rather than theirs.

Someone remind me why these b*stards call themselves democrats.

If you are interested the picture is of the sheriffs of Maricopa County Arizona. There they have a very popular ELECTED sheriff who pees off the (American) liberals.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

"Child protection"

I help out at my daughter's hockey club. Before I can attend a coaching course I have to pass an online course in child protection. Thursday night I paid up and sat down to the task.

I was cursing after 5 minutes and swearing after 10.  A 100% pass mark is required to prove I had successfully absorbed the content. Not a problem in itself, except the last section, as I could spot the correct PC answers but the course was nothing more than indoctrination.

For example a 21 year coach is in a relationship with a 17 year old player, choose the 2 forms of abuse from a list of 5. Is it physical, emotional, sexual, neglect or bullying. How about none of the above?

What sort of mind sees abuse around every corner? How can the Big Society function with this crap?

Friday, 22 April 2011

NHS - credit where it is due

Following on from my previous post regarding the NHS, I have to admit it managed to achieve an acceptable level of performance. In under 3 weeks SWMBO has had 3 appointments, including MRI and CAT scans and finally the all clear, with caveats, for bowel cancer. SWMBO and I are overjoyed at the outcome.

So is the NHS better than I think? It struggles to make a good impression. We are still waiting for an appointment letter sent for the final consultation that happened yesterday for example. And if we weren't part of the pushy middle classes I fear things would not have been so smooth.

SWMBO was on the phone regularly to various people on the front line and, credit where it is due, these people were excellent and were working hard to get around the dead hand of NHS admin to make sure things happened. The appointments were made direct to the service team not through the front desk. As mentioned we would have missed yesterday's appointment if we had relied on the NHS admin to be effective.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011


Listend to Radio 4 today. First irritation was some teacher muppet claimg that school discipline amounted to child abuse.

Then a program about Somali pirates. Navy catches them gives them a medical check up and drops them off in Somalia. WTF.  It's not as if piracy is difficult to beat. Catch them , make them walk the plank and drop them off in the Indian Ocean. Or rope and drop them from a height. It's called summary justice. It's been done before very successfully.

Currently arguing over on Facebook in support of the Rally Against Debt. It's clarified my thoughts and today I joined the Libertarian Party. That's my beliefs so I've stopped worrying and paid up.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Debt - I'll share my thoughts with a smaller audience.

I posted this on Facebook this morning and thought I'd preserve it.

So back to debt.

Is the rate of rise or level of debt reasonable? Would stablizing or reducing debt be good or is rising debt better for British society? Is the national debt and deficit a danger to the UK in the light of the collapse of Greece, Ireland and Portugal? And what is the level of national debt?

Most of the comments here have been arguing based on the published figure of just under a trillion pounds. However, like the banks, government (all colours) have been keen on off balance sheet acccounting. It does not include PFI liabilities, pension liabilities, bank bailout, quantitive easing etc. These will all have to be paid for by current and future taxpayers.

Personally I find the level of government liabilities abhorant. The longer term issue is how many taxpayers will there be to pay for these liabilities. It seems to me that we are in the middle of a Ponzi scheme and explains the need for mass immigration and rise in the pension age, without more taxpayers than there would otherwise be then the national finances will crash.

So I conclude that those claiming that the level of debt is not a problem are missing a point. The argument is that the debt has been higher in the past and the nation was able to reduce it in better times. But this reduction occurred during a period of massive population growth with the consequent growth in the economy and tax base. The population is reducing in much of Europe and I think it is unreasonable to plan for a doubling in UK tax payers to handle the future debt.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

NHS? Scrap it now!

A person at work was given an urgent appointment last Friday for some tests on Monday. Not a bad response.

They were promised a prescription for a medication that needs to be taken before the tests. OK so far. They rang the hospital today to chase the prescription and were told it was posted second class. Second class? WTF?  Apparantly everything has to be posted second class to save money.

So what happens if the prescription doesn't arrive in the morning?  Why they have to arrive earlier on Monday for another procedure to prepare them for the tests.

So the NHS has saved 10 pence. However it looks likely that the saving will cost many pounds in extra NHS treatment costs. And this makes sense to who???

UPDATE: The prescription arrived today. So that's OK then?  No. It can only be dispensed by the hospital :( A 35 mile round trip for said person who drove past the hospital this morning. Frustrating or what?

Monday, 4 April 2011

How much?

For good reason my wife refuses to allow me to go supermarket shopping with her.

As my good lady was away over the weekend I had to nip out for half a pound of butter. I found the butter and almost fell over £1.60 for half a pound? Last time I looked I thought 60p was too much.

It's little things like this that bring home the impact of inflation, 2% one year and 4% the next and it all adds up.

Inflation is a funny thing it affects different markets in different ways. My business is electronics which is a market where costs tend downwards over the years, at least in real terms. Meeting retail inflation is quite a shock.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

What is money?

The rally against debt

has me thinking about the meaning of money and debt.

What is money? Money is a medium of exchange to allow exchanges that were difficult or impossible by barter. Money in itself has no value, it only has value based on the widespread acceptance of money as representing a certain amount of goods or services.

As well as allowing a much improved exchange of goods and services over bartering money also allows transactions to be arranged across time. For example I may have a surplus of wheat from this years harvest. I can sell this for money and retain the value of the wheat surplus until I want to buy something else. Thus I can maintain the value of a perishable commodity until such time as I actually need that value.

Instead of keeping the money under the bed I can lend that value to someone else who needs the value now and be rewarded with interest payments to cover the risk of not being repaid.

Businesses make money by arbitrage. That is they make or buy a product and trade it with other people who feel the product is worth more to them than to the business. This is explained elegantly in The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley.

For most people money is paid in exchange for their labour.  For working 40 hours a week you are paid £x.  Of course x varies, like any other commodity, depending on your value to your employer and the number of other suitable people available for the job.  The money you earn allows you to swap your skills as a baker or doctor for other peoples products (goods) or their skills (services).

Note who employs you, private or public sector, is, in an ideal world, actually irrelevant.

To digress, unfortunately many people are unemployable because the value of their work to an employer is less than the minimum wage, currently £5.93 per hour. They are therefore priced out of the market.

We now come to the necessary? evil of taxation.  Simply put you work 40 hours a week but in fact with income tax and NI about 12 hours is deemed to be for the government not for your benefit.  It is worse for higher rate tax payers where the government arbitrarily decide that you work 20 or even 24 hours a week for them and not for yourself. It is even worse than that in practice and if you work more hours you must also do an increased number of them for the Government.

Now to debt. Debt is simply the sum of borrowed value. You may borrow value when you are young to buy a house and repay it over your working life as you receive value for your work.  The government also borrows money and similarly repays from their claimed share of your future work.

In principle, it seems to me, that money and debt is that simple. So what are the problems?  I see two.

Firstly the amount of my work that the Government claims belongs to them. Personally I feel that the services the Government provides are not of adequate value for the amount of my work time they demand I pay for said services.

Secondly the debt the Government has, is and plans to incur can not be repaid by the work of those who supposedly benefit from the services directly or indirectly. Services and "investment" is happening now which will never benefit the future generations who will inevitably be paying the interest on the debt from their working hours. I very much doubt if any government will actually repay the debt itself.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

If voting changed anything...

 The debate over the alternative vote, and more generally PR, seems to me to be an attempt by the unelectable to get a toe into the public trough.

Firstly AV is smoke and mirrors. Let's take 3 candidates, Jill get 38% of the vote, John 33% and Jade 29%.  Jade's votes are reallocated to give either Jill or John over 50% of the vote which is meant to make them more representative.  Of course it doesn't because they only got 38% and 33% of the vote and the rest is a fudge.

If AV or PR does anything it leads to more coalition government where you vote for a set of policies which are then junked in a coalition agreement, if one can be reached.  Belgium has been trying to form a government for nearly 300 days. Or Germany where the Free Democrats, the third party in elections, have been part of the Government for more time than either of the larger parties.

However that is not to say we do not need a reform of the political system. The reform we need will give us, the public, control of politics. I favour direct democracy where we have real power over government.  For example x thousand voters should be able to put a referendum question on the ballot paper. California is a good example of public initiatives and I have favoured this since proposition 13 in the mid 70s.

California also allows recall elections where the public can remove an elected politician from office, Arnie being a recent beneficiary of this.

In an ideal world we should try and move to a Swiss style democracy where the electorate have much more control of the Government.

Wikipedia explains this well:

By calling a federal referendum a group of citizens may challenge a law that has been passed by Parliament, if they can gather 50,000 signatures against the law within 100 days. If so, a national vote is scheduled where voters decide by a simple majority whether to accept or reject the law. Eight cantons together can also call a referendum on a federal law.

Similarly, the federal constitutional initiative allows citizens to put a constitutional amendment to a national vote, if they can get 100,000 voters to sign the proposed amendment within 18 months. Parliament can supplement the proposed amendment with a counter-proposal, with voters having to indicate a preference on the ballot in case both proposals are accepted.

However the world is not ideal. Would direct democracy work in Britain where vast swathes of voters in the northern wastelands survive on the public teat? Or where ethnic ghettos operate corrupt politics more akin to third world countries?

Thursday, 24 March 2011

HMRC, you are joking aren't you?

Received in the post this morning a letter from HMRC chasing money:

"We are sure you appreciate the link between companies paying their taxes promptly and the allocation of money to public services from which we all benefit."



verb, -at·ed, -at·ing.
to be grateful or thankful for: They appreciated histhoughtfulness.
–verb (used with object)
to value or regard highly; place a high estimate on: toappreciate good wine.
to be fully conscious of; be aware of; detect: to appreciatethe dangers of a situation.

Am I grateful? Er, No.

Do I value or regard highly? That's another no.

Am I fully conscious of? I'm afraid so. It is because I am aware that I object.

I wonder which public services they think I think are a benefit?  There are not many.

And how many are value for money? Even fewer.

Let's be clear I agree with some services being paid for out of taxes. I have a big problem with the state providing the services.  (Almost) all services should be provided by anyone other than the state.

For example I agree with state funded education. I object to schools being run by the state. The state should give an education voucher for each child, value dependant on age, to be cashed in at the school of OUR choice.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Charity. Nope quangos by another name.

"A charity that relies in the main part on taxes is no more a charity than a prostitute is your girlfriend."

A brilliant quote which sums up modern "charities". I find it scary the way the bien peasants jump between charities, quangos and government.

Like this guy. From WWF to chairman of the Met Office.

Robert Napier CBE is chairman of the Homes and Communities Agency, having formerly been chairman and non-executive director of English Partnerships.

Robert is also chairman of the Board of the Met Office. He was chief executive of WWF-UK, the UK arm of the World Wide Fund for Nature, from 1999 to April 2007. 

Offices in voluntary, non-profit making bodies etcThe Green Fiscal Commission (Chairman)
Carbon Disclosure Project (Chairman of Trustees)
WCMC 2000 - World Conservation Monitoring Centre (Chairman of Trustees)
Watts Gallery (Trustee)
Sedbergh School (Chairman of Governors)
Sedbergh School Developments Ltd (Director)
Baynards Zambia Trust (Trustee)

And what does he know about the weather or climate?

Home alone

"A mother-of-three from the Thames Valley area has been cautioned by police after leaving her 14-year-old son at home with his little brother."
"Sources quoted in the Sunday Times are reported as saying the mother, in her 40s, was away for 30 minutes, the time passed without "incident" and the toddler was never in any danger."
Who hasn't left a big sister or brother at home looking after a younger sibling?
I remember my, then 11 year old, son was left on his own for the day. We were perfectly confident in his common sense. Mid morning he called us because some men were in the garden. We told him not to unlock the door. My wife called the police and I shot home, being overtaken by the police on the way.
The short of it was these men claimed to have seen a dangerous tree in the garden and came in to see if we wanted it cut down. Total bull of course. The police had a stern word with them and end of story.
Now days I suppose we would have been interviewed by the plod.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Never volunteer

In principle, other than for very specific jobs, I object to the concept of criminal record bureau, CRB, checks. Effectively the State treats us as guilty until proven innocent.

My middle daughter is a hockey fanatic and I have supported her in this. Her, women only, club needs umpires so I have done my umpiring exam. Her club needed someone to help manage the U16 team. So I help. The club needs someone to look after and umpire for the U12s on Sunday. I offer to do that specifying, for my protection, that there should be a female parent there. I will have to help in-experienced girls put on goal keeping kit so there will be unavoidable contact and in the current climate of suspicion in this country I need a mum present.

Now I am so involved I need a CRB check. I can say no and then everyone will "know" I am some kind of crook or perv. Or I can agree and accept that I am guilty until proven innocent.

If this country were a person it would be treated for paranoia.