Saturday, June 14, 2008

Halal For All

I had occasion to attend a dinner event fairly recently; although an official type function organised in England by an English institution, I must point out that a sizable minority of those attending would be Muslims. Of course this meant that a dietary requirement of some of those attending would be for halal food, I would expect in cases like this that a halal option would be provided. Of course that involves extra work and expense, so it should come as no surprise to find the institution opted for the easy answer in other words halal for all, except for the sainted vegetarians of course.

I should add that this was not actually pointed out at any stage in the proceedings, but I heard a rumour prior to attending and I noticed there was only one meat option. Most of those attending were probably totally unaware that the main meat course was halal.

I have no objection to catering for the dietary requirements of others; nor indeed if I am a guest of others, or in other countries and I will usually eat what is given to me. However I object most strongly to being at an official type event in England and not being provided with English or at least British type food. The institution was quite prepared to cater for vegetarians, and quite prepared to cater for Muslims, but my money is as good as theirs and we are in England which is not a Muslim country. Why should I (or anyone else) have to subsidise the dietary preferences of others whilst unable to have our own satisfied?

At the reception beforehand there were some drinks, a choice between bucks fizz (a mixture of champagne and orange juice) and orange juice itself. Being the sort of person who wishes to know what he is drinking before selecting my drink I enquired about the choice (and promptly chose the bucks fizz). It appears that others of a different religion, despite knowing of the tendencies of the infidels to drink alcohol, and similarly knowing of their own religious requirements, nevertheless plunged straight in without checking, only to discover later they had been drinking bucks fizz. They then complained that they had been "served" alcohol. We just cannot bend over enough.

Of course a reactionary like me would say it was their own stupid fault and it serves them right, but that would involve them taking some responsibility for themselves by actually checking before drinking; and responsibility is a dirty word. We see here the unintended consequences of partial islamification, the lazy assumption on their part that everything would be according to their preferences has led them to take that which is forbidden. No doubt next year the event must be made alcohol free thus ensuring no one can make such mistakes.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

York Council Workers Strike Ballot

The local "newspaper" provides a story here about the Unison council workers strike ballot. Apparently they are not happy with their wage offer of 2.45% increase and want more; their justification is that inflation is running higher, so it is, but plenty of people in the private sector (who after all are paying for the council workers) do not have the luxury of inflationary wage rises and the article makes no mention of the pension provision for state workers.

Of course the burden of such strike action will fall heaviest upon the vulnerable, and if it wasn't for that, as far as I am concerned they should be allowed to walk out for far longer than the two days proposed. Of course we should all receive Council Tax rebates for the time they are not in work, but many of these council with their street narrowing and wanting to introduce congestion charging do more harm than good when at work anyway; so given that we have to pay them; I'd prefer to pay them to do nothing.

Ultimately the proposed action is very poorly timed, the economy is teetering and it is difficult to see just how the Labour enlarged state sector can remain viable in the coming years. It will be necessary for severe root and branch pruning, the state sector is top heavy with non-jobs; by which I mean jobs that it makes no difference if they are done or not. These are the jobs that will have to go, and the higher the wage bill is, then the more it will have to be cut.

It is quite sad to see the quotes in the article, take the one from Andrew Waller identified as the Council leader: "We have always had good relations with Unison in the city. We would want to maintain key services during any dispute as our concerns are with any vulnerable residents." This man is elected, by the people, I would expect him to at the very least speak up for the Council Tax payers of York (after all they voted for him); instead his first concern is for "good relations with Unison".

Another quote from a Brain Bladwin (identified as the chair of the employers' side of the National Joint Council) "If the pay settlement is set too high, councils will be forced into making unpalatable choices between cutting front line services and laying off staff." I'm sorry, but if we can lay off staff without cutting front line services doesn't this mean that councils are overstaffed? Furthermore there must be a misuse of public money occurring, as (unless I am mistaken) surely Parliament has not authorised public expenditure for non-essential purposes?

There's only so long an economy can bear that which is unsustainable, for years now Labour have been living off Conservative surplus, all that looks like ending soon. Do Unison really believe the current state staffing levels are sustainable when harsh economic winds blow? Or are they just not bothered?

One thing they can be sure of, when the economy strikes them, it will be far worse than any strike they could inflict.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

We've got the smokers. Next the drinkers!

Whilst I have been trying to avoid the BBC as much as possible, thanks to the unique way in which it is funded, its presence is far too insidious to allow even me (without a television) total abstinence.

Tonight on the local "news" program, an item about the new demons of society, (unsurprisingly a group of which I can claim membership) people who drink alcohol. Actually I must be extra bad because I even indulge in making wine. Unfortunately I have been unable to locate a link for the story, but it appear there is a "charity" that advocates that people should only be allowed to drink on licensed premises. Said "charity" wants to see a ban on things like supermarkets selling alcohol and presumably a ban on people drinking in their homes.

That the BBC had managed to come up with such a story, and a "charity" to give it credence, whilst a disgraceful use of money was not particularly surprising. The report followed the standard format: BBC "reporter" tells us about the goals of the "charity" and some presumably random ordinary people on the street are interviewed. The saddest thing I heard was one individual who said something like this: "I think I have the right to drink a moderate amount in my own home".

NO! The proper response is this: "I am a freeborn Englishman, and in my own house I'll do what I want to (provided it doesn't involve harming others). If I choose to drink alcohol in whatever quantity it is no business of any so called charity or the state or anyone else."

The attitude of the unfortunate interviewee demonstrates how just how low (despite or perhaps because of our wonderful education system) the self-esteem of some individuals is. Here is a supposed free person, at present he can choose how much alcohol to drink in his house; he is now faced with a proposal (which practically is unenforceable and bonkers) that will undermine his freedom and his response is that he thinks he has a right to drink a moderate amount. In other words he is in favour of the proposal, provided he can drink a moderate amount in his house. Effectively he is saying: "I don't know how much I should be allowed to drink please come and regulate me. I also don't trust anyone else so make sure the're regulated too."

What a sad state of affairs.

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Absence Without Leave

It's been quite some time since I've posted, and I would like to justify it with all the worthwhile things that have been taking up my time. If I did that though it be saying the end justifies the means, but I've never been one to believe that.

I may be approaching a time when regular blogging may resume, so hopefully I'll be back soon.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Doctors starting to get it?

The Times gives us a report about disillusioned doctors. It certainly shows us the cracks appearing in our socialist health system, and perhaps at last, people such as doctors are starting to realise that taxation and socialism can't solve problems.

The opinions expressed read as a damning summation of the effectiveness of ZaNuLabour's health "policy":

More than half of respondents (56 per cent) said that there had been no improvement in the NHS since 2002.... Only 27 per cent thought there had been.

"...(72 per cent) did not believe that the extra money had been well spent, while 11 per cent said that it had. Similar views were held on the quality of care: 72 per cent said that there had been no improvement; 15 per cent said that there had been."

"...79 per cent of respondents doubted that the highest standards expected of the NHS could be sustained through taxation alone after 2008, when the huge annual increases in funding will drop off."

This last quote read as some sort of sick (pardon the pun) joke: "highest standards ... could be sustained" like we have the highest standards now?

There is also concern about: "... what will happen after 2008, when the rate of increased funding is due to end." Well of course in theory it shouldn't matter as the increase in funding hasn't prompted any improvement, but in reality, all those extra turkeys employed by the NHS with the funding increase will still need feeding, it won't be the turkeys that go after 2008, but patient care, hospital wards and beds.

Apparently doctors still support the NHS in principle, but what will it take for them to wake up and think a little? What private health care provider would have such a turkey army? What costs more? Profits to shareholders? Or people employed to remain off the unemployment figures?

Remember doctors, the turkey army is only possible: "Thanks to the unique way the NHS is funded." It's time to admit failure and move away from this outdated and ineffective socialist funding model. Let's be rid of this burden once and for all.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Legal Reform Needed

The Times tells us of a garden wall dispute, which after having been taken to the law and the Court of Appeal has cost the loser some £250,000.00p in costs.

The whole this is of course simply ridiculous, but it demonstrates severe deficiencies with our legal and judicial systems. In the first instance, the dispute went to the County Court, which is quite probably an appropriate place for deciding such matters. The problem of course arises when one side doesn't accept the verdict and wishes to appeal, as the county court which is so suitable for the likes of small claims etc has it's appeal route is through the other courts of our legal system and hence this case was heard by the Court Of Appeal.

The Court Of Appeal was pretty brutal in dismissing the appeal, but that could well be because it had no merit, but if it had no merit, then surely if the parties were both advised, it should never have got there? Equally importantly, it seems strange that the country court procedure for small and minor claims, designed to be cheap and relatively quick, has no corresponding appeals procedure, this claim has taken five years.

I think justice would be best served especially in small cases such as these if there were some kind of summary procedure with a cut-off that would automatically apply. In principle something along the lines that if the costs of both parties (calculated with reference to standard market rates) looked likely to exceed 50% of the value of the claim then it should be barred from proceeding further. Of course any claim should be allowed one judgement, but after that there should be limits, there's just no point in this degree of litigation happening. The procedure itself could change with the addition of a small claims appeals procedure, that could perhaps allow a small claims judge to request a reference from a higher court if they wanted a matter of law clarifying, but other than that to keep the matters outside the ambit of the far more expensive litigation.

Most cases would of course only be allowed one hearing, but that would at least be an end to the matter, and in small claims cases (by there very nature) even if you lose, you are subjected more to inconvenience as opposed to a major issue. Take this wall, what did it matter that the brickwork extended, by 2 or three courses above a conservatory? If you lose such a case, even if you're in the right, with no appeal, you'll just accept it and move on. Raise the height of your conservatory if it bothers you that much, it'll be much cheaper.

Imagine the position of the losing party, if he couldn't stand the wall so much, he could have sold and added £250,000.00p plus to his capital and purchased a far superior property. Would not his condition be far happier than that in which he finds himself today?

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

"It's for the children!"

The Times brings us a story about unhappy UK children. They are the unhappiest in the Western World, according to the headline. A quick reading of the story reveals that it's based on a so called "well-being table". From my poor reading of the story, it seems that this has been compiled under the guidance, funding and direction of UNICEF.

The story tells us one of the authors is a "Jonathon Bradshaw"; further into the story, we're told that a "Professor Bradshaw" ("a leading authority on child poverty" - for which I read child poverty pays his wage) tells us how this report, shows us that the unhappiness is down to inequality.

There is clearly an obvious problem of self-interest for Bradshaw which isn't pointed out in the story. The UNICEF report appears embargoed until 10:00 am GMT Today so I can't confirm if the "two" Bradshaws are in fact the same person, but I'll go with my instincts (see I'm in touch with my feminine side) and assume they are.

The full title of the report shows the study is limited to rich countries, which is all well and good especially as it can then avoid any embarrassing revelations such as children in some poorer countries being happier than some in rich countries; after all where would the child poverty industry be then professor?

The professor of course cites inequality as the reason, but is it really, I cannot believe that children in say Italy, Switzerland and Ireland (all well above the UK) live in a less unequal society, if anything I'd say their societies are more unequal.

The report seems a damming indictment and I imagine it's conclusions are probably correct, but we wont even start to address the issues by looking at irrelevancies like so called poverty. It would be different if children were being forced to go out to work to earn money to live, but that's clearly not the case.

Our attitude in the UK has changed considerably over the years, primarily no child can ever undertake any activity with a modicum of risk, ironically the main reason cited being to "protect them", but I think it's having the effect of making the world dull and boring for them, no wonder they're unhappy. It may be prefect preparation for being a subject of the nanny state, but it's hardly going to make for happy well-rounded citizens. The lesson here is if you want happiness you must set them free, you cannot have happiness without freedom. It's a powerful lesson which our government will have to take to heart sooner or later.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The rulers and the ruled

Some of my fellow bloggers have been urging their readers to sign the "online petition" at the Downing Street web site. I haven't bothered drawing this to the attention of anyone, because I have no faith in the government. If the government supports a proposal and people sign an online petition in it's favour, the government will claim public support.

If on the other hand they don't support a proposal, then the online petition becomes: "just one contribution to the debate", weasel words from apparatchik and Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander (DA).

Hence my silence on the issue, there's just no point in signing any online petition because no one cares what you or anyone else thinks.

Anyway we have an article in The Times (strangely lacking the full text of the print version) giving the quote, but there's more of interest. DA accuses the campaign [against road charging] of spreading myths and says he welcomes the "opportunity to set some of the facts stright". Aside from a cynic like me asking: "why just some of the facts, why not all of them?" Any actual setting of major facts straight seems missing from the article, so either The Times failed to report it or DA didn't in fact take the opportunity.

There's a good quote showing how the government in general "works": "A Department for Transport official said: “Doing nothing is not an option. We welcome all debate, but it must be based on fact and not fallacy. The first step to achieving this is to demonstrate through local pilot schemes how road pricing can tackle local congestion.”" So you see the debate has to have a pre-determined outcome in favour of road charging, any route that leads to a different outcome will not be countenanced. Then they wonder why people send them bombs.

A final quote from the department: “Public acceptability of such schemes is one of the milestones that has to be achieved. We have always said that we have to see the results of the pilot schemes before we make a decision.” to which I say: "The government should work for the people, if we the people say "Jump!" The government and its departments should respond: "how high?", if there's no public acceptability for a scheme then it must be abandoned, not forced on the people."

It is a major problem with the government systems of this country, it is far too much the rulers and the ruled over. Instead of prattling about tinkering with the House Of Lords, our priority needs to be to get the House Of Commons working properly first.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Cameron drugs row

It's no great secret that I'm perhaps not quite in full accord with the Conservative party and the policies of David Cameron.

This weekend we had the spectacle of, the holy media as moral guardian of our nation, informing us that David Cameron smoked some cannabis whilst at Eaton. Why is this relevant to anything is a mystery to me, that he or any other politician may have smoked or taken some drug at some point in their lives is irrelevant. Of course if had an ongoing drug habit that would be different, but let's face some facts, drugs, including illegal ones are fairly widely available. Drugs are bound to be an object of curiosity to people and there will be a temptation to try some no doubt, at some point in most people's lives. That someone does try some drugs in no way disqualifies them from public office or makes them unfit to lead a political party, or makes it hypercritical if at some later point they argue that illegal drugs should remain illegal.

This issue should be a non-story, we expect our politicians to (generally) be honest, but in return for some honesty, the media shouldn't hound and make issues out of things that are irrelevant. Whilst David Cameron has (in the past) never denied or admitted taking drugs, the reason no doubt is precisely because of this kind of stupid media storm, it would have be so much better that when asked he could say: "yes occasionally in the past I've taken some drugs".

In order to lead the way, I'll put my hand up to this and: "yes occasionally in the past I've taken some drugs". I wouldn't advocate or encourage anyone else to do so, it was something that I did at that time. I have no excuses, but I didn't harm anyone (and I doubt any great harm was done to me).

Let's see the media put me on the front page.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

NHS moves to India

The Times reports on the latest set of jobs to go to India, a batch of accountancy ones from the NHS.

Whilst of course I welcome anything that might save the taxpayer money, I feel that a far more radical approach is needed. Why bother exporting jobs as such and why not just export the patients, the private hospitals in India are famed for their cleanliness and care, of course labour being much cheaper there, they also offer excellent value for money. There would I'm sure be quite a saving, not to mention the benefits to our patients, no waiting lists, no months of pain. They'd be further savings too in increased productivity and decreased benefit payments.

Of course it couldn't be used for everything, but think how much more beneficial it would be for many routine procedures. Anyway even without the NHS involvement, increased numbers of UK citizens are privately taking this option, but of course they still have to pay for the NHS as well.

The "money" quote on the present scheme comes from John Hutton the Health Minister: “The joint venture will generate significant cost savings - enough to pay for the annual salaries of 3,000 GPs or 12,000 nurses”. Notice the phrasing, why doesn't he express it in tax terms? He should say, the cost savings will result in a penny decrease in income tax, but of course it won't, and indeed this is why ultimately the move is just irrelevant. It's irrelevant because it won't increase the standard, so desperately needing increase, in patient care, and failing that, it won't result in any money going back to the taxpayer. Instead of the money being wasted on NHS accountants, it'll be wasted on some other turkey.

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