Sunday, 12 July 2009

Diana Watch

“In a lot of ways, terrible to say this I suppose, but apart from the fact that Hitler got taken away and persuaded to do things that I have no idea whether he wanted to do or not, he was in the way that he could command a lot of people, able to get things done.
“In the end he got lost, so he wasn’t a very good dictator because either he had all these things and knew what was going on and insisted, or he just went along with it . . . so either way he wasn’t a dictator.” He also rounded on democracy, claiming that “it hasn’t done a lot of good for many countries — including this one [Britain]”.

I give you the words of Bernie Ecclestone last week in an interview with The Times last weekend. The weekend before the German Grand Prix. How stupid is this man?
So, we have the son of a fascist running the governing body of the sport and a man who admires Hitler is the other most powerful man in F1. Oh dear. What else can you say? The good news is he said sorry. So that's ok then.
Why now do we allow people to do and say the most ridiculous things and then just say “sorry”? No punishment, nothing. Racists are saints in death.

I want to start by saying, I told you so. A survey out this week from the Equality and Human Rights commission has shown that immigrants do not get priority for social housing. The report found that only 1.8 per cent of social tenants had moved to Britain within the past five years.
Some 87.8 per cent were British-born and 10 per cent of foreigners who had been living in Britain for more than five years.
Does this put the issue to bed? I wouldn't have thought so. Facts seem to get ignored by people who views or agenda differ from the point proved by cold statistics. We seem to believe things that our friend told us over the research of Noble prize winners. Why is this? It is the sort of behaviour that keeps the Daily Mail's and Express' “health” sections going. If you want to make yourself really angry (although I can't imagine why you would want to do that) have a look at their “health” sections on-line. It is a science free zone. A place where the single anecdote is considered as more reliable than a double blind experiment or the meta-analysis of 200 different papers.

David Cameron, a man who knows a political opportunity when he sees one, has decided that he wants to get rid of some QUANGOs. For those of you who don't know QUANGOs (quasi antonymous non-governmental organisations) are groups set up by the Government to over see the running of things like the communication industry or the utilities, groups such as OFCOM and OFWAT.
He wants a full review of what they do and how much they spend. He would also like to make them more accountable. You will note several political buzzwords or buzz-themes in the last 2 sentences. Cost and accountability. QUANGOs are easy targets because most people don't know what they are or do so don't think that they are important and they can easily be portrayed as such.
Many of them play very important roles and they keep politicians out of the direct running of things that they really shouldn't be interfering with. One of Mr Cameron's ideas is that some of the people running these organisations should be elected. Oh god, why? We can't even get the populace motivated enough to vote for who runs the country let alone who runs the British Potato Council. There is also the problem with electing people that you politicize groups or roles that really don't need to be politicized. This happens in America where they have to elect nearly everyone with even the slightest amount of power and this leads to political patronage and cronyism.
They have to elect Judges and chiefs of police. Politics in the judiciary is the best way to avoid dull things like fair trials and even handed enforcement of the law. He also seems unaware of the fact that a number of QUANGOs are directly accountable to Parliament or, at least, a committee.
What David Cameron seems to have, conveniently, forgotten is that ever Government since the 80's has said that it wants to reduce the number of QUANGOs but has ended up creating more and more. A cynical person of a certain age might be reminded of Yes Minister/Prime Minister (a program that tells you as much about British politics as The West Wing ever did about U.S. politics) when there was a review of the Civil Service with a view to shedding jobs. Following the review they discovered that they need more civil servants.

There was another exciting G8 meeting this week where world leaders met and discussed how terrible things are in the world and what they can do about them, which is usually realise a pre-prepared statement about how bad things are and offer to give them some more money and then not give it, hey Italy!
To be honest the meeting didn't achieve very much except to show President Obama in a very good light again. We may have decided to change the way we give money to Africa, concentrating on development agriculture, as they did in India, rather than just giving money and food.
The most exciting moment of the conference was, however, when former terrorist (but he said sorry so it's ok now) Colonel Gaddafi turned up. If you count out all the killing he sponsored (yes it is a bit like a fun run, “I'll give $2000 for every killing you do”), which our leaders seem to do, he is a deeply entertaining human being. He insists on living in a tent and has a personal security force entirely made up of beautiful young woman. His reasoning is that they are less likely to try and kill him. I don't buy this logic myself but I do have a feeling that, having now seen the guards, convicted criminal Silvio Berlusconi will be seriously looking into the idea for himself.

Airlines and Unions yesterday (Saturday) released a joint statement, and got their faces all over the 24hour news channels, complaining about air passenger duty. This was a tax introduced by the Government to try and put people off flying a bit because it is fantastically polluting. The complaint for the airlines is that the tax is going up in November. It will be about £20 for a short-haul flight and up to £80 for a long-haul flight. I my opinion the only mistake that was made in introducing this tax was that it was not ring fenced by the Government to be used for only “Green” projects. That would have made it bullet proof. As it stands the Airlines can argue against it in 2 ways. Firstly they used the “Won't somebody please think of the children!” argument. “Think of a family going to see relatives in far away lands. It will cost them so much more”. Oh well. Perhaps you could absorb the price rise into your ticket prices rather than just passing it straight on to the customer. It's not going to happen though is it as you already charge us extra for pretty much everything including putting fuel in the plane. And then they used the “we are an industry on the edge” argument. Again, oh well. Not really our fault that you had massive over capacity is it.
There was also a nice bit of Tory-type exaggeration. They described this well advertised extra cost as a “stealth tax”. It's not really is it? And to be honest I wouldn't care if it was. As an industry you are untaxed. You don't pay tax on the fuel that you charge us extra for. You don't have to pay tax on the tickets you sell. My advice would be to shut up and keep your heads down. You get a great deal at the moment. Good tax breaks. Not being included in carbon trading so that you can pollute for free. If you make to much fuss someone might notice how good it is for you and change a few things.
Oh and answer my e-mails to you about what percentage of you flights are business and not holiday ones so that I argue against you properly.

Lets do some awards now as I have a busy day, out for lunch, then a party in the afternoon and then out for dinner,

The Award for Losing Faith So Very Quickly,

This goes to nearly all England cricket fans and sports writers who, after only 3 days of the first Ashes test, started praying for rain and writing off this Ashes series. Yes it does seem that we are going to loose the first test but it is the first of 5. Cheer up.

The Award for Finally Getting Around It,

If you generate your own electricity you will now be able to sell it to the National grid. Micro generators will now get a fixed price for any excess power that they generate and divert to the national grid, just like in 19 other European countries! I bet you can’t even name other European countries can you? I don’t think I can. Way to keep up with Eastern Europe there Gordon Brown.

That will do I think. Off for another week of allotment and bread making, which is nice. Hope you all have a good week. Oh and thank you to those who have helped push past the 6000 mark for views of my Myspace blog xx

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