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Friday, September 24, 2010

The man for the job

One of the reasons for the impending age wars is the size of Britain's public sector. It's not just that it is enormous and will bankrupt us because of its pension obligations, but also that it's not very good value for money.

The public services are riddled with ‘bone idle people’ who have damaged the productivity of the state sector, a leading fire chief has claimed.

[From Fire chief Tony McGuirk 's devastating verdict on bone idle public sector | Mail Online]

This is hardly a maverick perspective, and it is echoed in other areas of public life.

David Forster reportedly said the NHS employed "too many who are lazy, unproductive, obstinate, militant, aggressive at every turn".

[From BBC News - NHS director disciplined over 'lazy staff' comments]

I'm afraid this is inevitable with nationalised industries that can't go bankrupt, whether French air-traffic control, Greek post offices or British health care. But what to do? Clearly we need a substantial reduction in the size of the public sector, but who has the backbone to take on the public sector unions? Well, I think I've found the man for the job. I'd always assumed that the ruling family in Cuba were deranged, and genuinely believed the socialism would work. But it turns out that they were merely deranged, and know that it can't.

As Raúl said: “We have to erase forever the notion that Cuba is the only country in the world in which people can live without working.”

[From / Comment / Analysis - Man in the News: Raúl Castro]

Raul, who has clearly never been to the UK, is about to sack half a million public sector workers. I'd love to see him and Bob Crow go head to head, but in the meantime, perhaps we could ask for a correct international socialist position on Wayne and Waynetta's claim for increased public support.

A jobless couple today demanded a bigger council house for their family of six children... Unemployed Wayne and Jenna Sandercock say it is 'outrageous' that their local authority won’t give them a bigger home for their brood.

[From Jobless couple demand bigger home for family of eight (and all their children are named after celebs) | Mail Online]

I say we have whip round and get them moved to a four bedroom house in Cuba.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

You said you wanted a revolution

When the age riots start, media commentators will say that no-one could have foreseen the inter-generational strife, but it seems to me to be inevitable. Now that companies cannot fire people for being old, youth unemployment will climb further and the mass of people with no real stake in society will increase. Eventually they will just think to themselves that they may as well riot, why not? It will make the race riots of earlier generations look like a picnic in the park, because of the numbers involved. Western governments, not just ours, appear powerless to cut back on the future commitments that they are making on behalf on our children.

I read in the newspapers recently that council staff spend less than a third of their time doing any actual work and that policepersons spend only a seventh of their time fighting crime and that a woman entering the teaching profession now will earn more from her pension than will earn from working. I simply cannot see how the kids will meet the liabilities we have set for them. A generation from now, Europe will be older and poorer -- it's quite depressing -- and intergenerational strife will lead to the breakdown of law and order. Let's hope that the Archbishop of Canterbury is right and the firm hand of Sharia Law isn't far away.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

Monday, September 20, 2010

Car wars

In the UK, where somewhere around a couple of million drivers have no insurance, uninsured drivers kill 160 people and injure 23,000 every year. When I was on the M4 last week, the guy in the car behind me (both doing 70mph) was talking on a non-hands free mobile phone for miles, and I see this all the time. Outside the school that my kids used to go to (where there are no speed cameras) my wife stopped to let a woman and her children cross at a zebra crossing, only to be overtaken by a woman driving a chelsea tractor. This sort of thing also goes on all the time, so it's no wonder people like me get outraged getting done in a camera trap at 10am on a Sunday morning on an almost empty dual carriageway leading to a motorway. Increasingly, this is our only nexus with the police.

Many years ago, I got nicked by a police car when I was doing 60mph heading toward the A3 out of Epsom: I was caught "bang to rights" as they say. I didn't feel outraged. I shouldn't have been going that fast on that stretch of road, and the guy was right to do me. Fair enough. But getting done by a camera on a nearly empty road doesn't feel the same.

Almost 25% of under 21-year olds confessed to having driven without a license, an MOT-checked vehicle or a valid driving license.

[From Uninsured drivers cost motorists £1.25 million a year - Telegraph]

Cameras don't catch people driving badly, even dangerously, and they don't take account of the traffic or the conditions. And there's always the suspicion that they are there to tax (that's why they're on the A40 and not outside my kids school). So are middle class whiners like me simply hypocrites who want the police to get tough on crime and on the causes for crime, except for speeding. Maybe. But now that the country is conducting a live experiment on the worth of speed cameras, the evidence points in another direction.

In the first nine months after the cameras were switched off in Swindon on July 31 last year, there were 315 road traffic casualties in the area as a whole, down from 327 in the comparable period the previous year, a reduction of around 4%. There were two fatalities compared to four, while the number of people seriously injured fell from 48 to 44.

[From Speed camera opponents hail success of Swindon switch-off - but do figures back that up? | | The website for pedal powered people: Road cycling, commuting, leisure cycling and racing]

So there. Time to re-examine rational incentives. Talking of which...

Motorists who drive without insurance face a £200 fine

[From Number of uninsured drivers falls - Motoring, Life & Style -]

Well, that seems like quite a bargain, given the cost of insurance, so I think I'll act rationally given the incentives presented and cancel my insurance to use the money to pay for speeding tickets, and then I'll get a new car with some Belgian plates and drive with impunity, since the chances of getting stopped are negligible.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

Monday, September 06, 2010


Well, I've been thinking about law and order again after listening to a podcast about the reign of King Athelstan, the first king of England as we know it now, and the law codes that he promulgated. He was particularly strict on theft, because he regarded all theft as a breach of the king's peace and a personal affront. England is rather different now.

Campaigners have called for an end to short prison sentences after an habitual thief was jailed for the 73rd time at the age of just 37... David Fairbairn has appeared in court on 96 occasions since he was a teenager and been sent to prison every year of his adult life.

[From Criminal jailed for 73rd time at age of 37 - Telegraph]

Isn't it time for some kind of "three strikes" policy? Everyone gets a second chance, but no-one should go to jail for the third time. We really ought to look at an automatic death penalty instead. The person referred to above will never contribute enough to society to make up for the damage caused to date, so what's the point? I think I might be able to get the Archbishop of Canterbury to support my campaign for a three strikes death penalty if I tell him that it is part of Sharia law. That's not true -- it isn't. But Sharia Law certainly does have some more creative punishments than are available under the boring English law in the land that Blair (Cherie, that is) built.

A Saudi judge has asked several hospitals to paralyse a man by damaging his spinal cord as punishment after he was convicted of attacking another man

[From Saudi judge 'asks hospital to paralyse man as punishment' - Telegraph]

I'm not suggesting anything like this, obviously. The advantage of my "three strikes" death penalty, compared to old-fashioned 1960s-style capital punishment, is that it will actually reduce crime but actively reducing the number of criminals.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]