Thoughts from an active pensioner who is now somewhat past his Biblical "Use-by date"

"Why just be difficult, when with a little more effort you can be bloody impossible?"

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Revolution in the Middle East

I've been watching and reading the reports of the events in Egypt following those in Tunisia. Most of the media seem to interpret it as a cry from the "people" for democracy, and I hope this is so and they get what they seek.
However, I'm old enough to remember the revolution in Persia, aka Iran, and the eviction of the Shah from the "Peacock Throne". At the time there was similar rejoicing, particularly amongst the  anti-monarchists, but over the years it has become apparent that the change was hardly for the better with the country now controlled by self-appointed religious zealots who can veto any candidates for the so-called "free" elections.
To the extremist Muslims, Egypt has become an evil place over the years with its western style ambitions and freedom. This evil is compounded by the fact that Egypt has reached an accomodation with Israel.

We need to be very concerned that, in both Tunisia and Egypt, the extreme Islamists don't get control and we end up with another Iran just the width of the Mediterranean away from the EU.

Beware of celebrating too soon!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Lord Taylor found Guilty

Yet another parliamentarian has been found guilty of falsifying his expenses, the excuse being made by his barrister was that he had undergone a drop in salary when he agreed to take on the unpaid role of a working Conservative peer in the House of Lords and had been told by senior peers it was normal practice to make false expenses claims "in lieu of salary".

The prosecution barrister Helen Law made an important point to the jury:
"Just because your job doesn't pay you much doesn't mean you can put your hand in the till. You ask for a pay rise, and you explain why it isn't enough. If it doesn't go up, you leave and you get another job."

There are a lot of our moaning MPs who should take note.
If they feel that they could get another job at more pay go and get it - in most cases I doubt if they could, and certainly not outside politics. If they claim, as Lord Taylor did, that they are in public life to "help people" and not for the money, then I would suggest the salary paid to the average C of E clergyman would be appropriate.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Ireland - The Independent Viewpoint

As readers may realise I spend some time each day reading foreign newspapers on the internet, mainly because the foreign news coverage in our media seems to going from a little to virtually non-existent.
This editorial from the Irish Independent is well worth reading as much of it applies to this country, although naturally the figures are different.

I particularly like their paragraph 11 which I believe should be displayed in a large notice in every politician's home and office.

"11. Words like investment, profit, trade, ambition and enterprise must not be taboo in the politicians' vocabulary. They indicate an understanding of a healthy economy. The government cannot create jobs, it can merely provide employment at the taxpayer's expense."

Labour and Trade Unions please note.

Teaching Reforms

I read this in today's New York Times
Education officials across the country are increasingly focused on the two critical reform tasks: developing more effective teacher evaluation systems and speeding up the glacial pace of disciplinary hearings for teachers charged with misconduct. The American Federation of Teachers, the country’s second-largest teachers’ union, has wisely chosen to work with state legislatures and local school districts to help shape these new systems rather than try to block them.

If only our NUT showed similar common sense, we might get some improvement in education in this country!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Our MPs aren't the ony ones with snouts in the trough

Whilst reading the Australian news, I also came across this:
MPs including Prime Minister Julia Gillard tripped up by travel perk rules
65 of their MPs, including their prime minister have been made to repay wrongly claimed expenses.
Julia Gillard has had to repay $100,000!

Greens be dammed, we need protection

I do like this from the Australian Sunday Herald Sun.
Like the style, blunt and straight forward, but still factual and readable.

Put on the Sun-block and take Vitamin D!

The number of cases of rickets reported is on the increase and it has been known for a many years that is is caused by vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D is produced naturally within the human body by the action of action of sunlight, or other ultra violet light on the skin.
Last week, it was reported that a case had occurred in a child living on the Isle of Wight, one of the sunnier places in England. Doctors initially failed to recognise it as one imagines that they thought it inconceivable that one would get it in such a location, but it turned out that the mother had heeded all the exhortations from government, weather forecasters, schools and general know-alls. She had smothered her child with sun block cream the moment the sun peeped out from behind the clouds for fear of all the nasty things that might happen if sunlight reached her child's skin.
Today, the BBC reported that some medical spokesman (I'm not sure from where) was advocating that all children under ten should take daily doses of vitamin D.
A nice little earner for the pharmaceutical industry; sell the public your sun-block creams, and then to counteract their side effects, sell them vitamin D.
Its not sun-block that these people need to apply, its a very large dose of  Common Sense, which, these days seems to be totally lacking . Unfortunately you can't buy this in tablet form from Boots!

Friday, 21 January 2011

Andy Coulson Goes

I'm unsure whether I am pleased or annoyed that Andy Coulson has resigned as the prime minister's communications chief.
On one hand, I've never believed that he had no idea about what was going on at the News of the World. Even, if he didn't order the phone tapping, or even drop hints suggesting that it might be a good idea, I cannot believe that he knew nothing. When I had staff, if someone did a good job, I would have been quite likely to say something like "that's well done, how did you manage to fix it so quickly" or something similar when they returned from repairing some equipment. I cannot imagine a newspaper boss, when someone comes in with a scoop, not saying something like "this is great, how did you manage to get it". Its an immediate thank-you to staff.
On the other hand, I dislike anyone being hounded out of a post by the media, although at least he can say he has had experience in this field and must expect to be a victim of  "dog eat dog". But I do believe that he was doing a good job for the Prime Minister, and sections the media is bound to put further pressure on David Cameron for having employed him in the first place.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

How they do things in Canada - Baroness Warsi please note.

A group calling itself the "Free Thinking Film Society" in Ottawa, Canada has produced a documentary film (which I would like to see) about Iran called "Iranium", which was to have been show at the Canadian National Archives. However as a result of protests from the Iranian embassy and threats of violence (presumably from local Muslims), it was cancelled by civil servants.
The responsible Canadian Minister ordered his civil servants to reverse the decision stating that "Because Somebody Threatens Violence, It Doesn’t Mean They Get Their Way".
This YouTube extract of the Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore defending free speech on television is well worth watching - particularly the bit near the end where the interviewer suggests that he must be mad!

I just wish we had a few Ministers and politicians with his robust approach.

I hope the film "Iranium" will be shown in the UK, or at least put on YouTube although I suspect Baroness Warsi would have a somewhat different view.

Thanks to the Blog "Gates of Vienna".

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

More Busybodies and Jobsworths!

The government has announced that it is to set a minimum price for alcohol to discourage binge drinking.
Sounds a great idea, but like most great sounding ideas is unlikely to work as the only persons affected are likely to be those who by cheap booze from supermarkets, whom I suspect are a minority of those causing problems. It is certainly not going to affect any of those drinking in our local spirits bar whose vomit is spread around the pavements outside each Friday and Saturday night, any more than the stupid notices hung from all the lamp posts in the area saying "The Council will not tolerate any drunkenness or disorder on the streets of Xxxxx".
But of course, it will need lots of jobsworths to enforce the rules and no doubt detailed record keeping by all the companies who sell alcohol. And even if the minimum price being set is later increased (as hinted at in today's Telegraph), how long will it be before some businesses start to look for a way round it. I can envisage signs at Tesco (or any of the other supermarkets) saying "Free bag of crisps with each can of lager" or "Free ready meal for two with each bottle of wine costing over £10".
If people want to drink, they will do so whether they can afford it or not and all this latest scheme will do is to create more non-jobs.
Far better to throw the drunks in a cell for the night with the equivalent of the old ten bob fine from the beak in the morning.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Lower Tax - More Growth

Those who still believe that increasing tax in order that the government can spend more is good for the country ought to look at the situation in Australia.
Each state has its own tax regime, and it is reported in the Australian that the two states with the lowest taxation are attracting businesses and have the greatest growth. Businesses are free to move without any problems within Australia, and this surely demonstrates what happens in a free market.
Cameron and Osborne please take note!

Get out of the E.U.

I would urge anyone who read this to try the following link:
Get out of Europe
The Daily Express is the only British Newspaper to take this stance, and while it isn't normally a paper that I would read, I fully agree with all they say on this occasion.