Wednesday 31 August 2011

Where Are The Jobs Coming From?

As the economic and other uncertainties increase and the politics become more confused the parties will be retreating to old arguments and forms of debate. One central issue that will be dominating the slanging matches will be how many jobs and who are they for?

In order for people to have jobs they have to be put on offer by people looking for staff to employ. They have to look at what is going on in their firm or organisation and work out what to do and who is to do it.

Clearly the kind of decisions they come to nowadays are different from those in my working life and the kind of jobs and their conditions of service are becoming more and more unrelated to those of the past, especially in the private sector.

The town where I live has many ordinary shops that have gone out of business, incidentally depriving us of any locally sourced produce. They have become agencies for part time or temporary employment or contracted jobs with clear limits.

In addition to those are a number of more specialist and other agencies that do not have shop fronts but work out of offices, also largely staffed by people on temporary contracts.

It is clear that for many companies and organisations, notably those of middling or smaller sizes, it is no longer an option to do your own staffing or personnel work. Large companies may be able to afford the sizeable Human Resources staff to control and manage this and contain what has to be done but even they are exercising far more discretion in the type of job contract they offer.

Why has this begun to happen and why has it become much more imperative for any employer to be very careful and watch their step in putting anyone on the payroll for any reason? Just look at the recent legislation pushed through by the previous government as part of its scorched earth policy.

All these new laws and the rest are big, very complicated and add huge costs and other burdens to the business of taking on and managing staff. Moreover, they were not “joined up” and a great deal was left to future regulations or decisions of a variety of bodies who have no duty to be either consistent within those laws or with other laws that bear on the situation.

The costs of all this are now beginning to impact not only on recruitment but on almost all the costs that fall on consumers and taxpayers. What part it plays in inflation, reducing real incomes and creating obstacles to progress is not known but has certainly made life far more difficult for those at the bottom of the heap.

Here is my listing, make of it what you will:

Employment Act 2008, in force April 2009.

This built on and extended a range of past laws, regulations, case law and EU Directives from the past. It increased the rights of employees and added new responsibilities and requirements on employers.

It has meant stringent control over how employees must be dealt with. To this is added the new Social Security Regulations of 2011. One feature is that now maternity leave can run to a year and paternity leave for up to six months.

There is also added items for sick leave, time off, variation of hours, overtime etc. It is now very difficult to dismiss an employee without substantial reasons despite any “probation”. Also, the Conditions of Service will limit an employee’s work schedule within strictly defined limits which cannot be exceeded.

Equality Act 2010, in force October 2010

This Act imposes a wide range of conditions on employment in terms of gender, race, diversity and other aspects of relationships. Also, it limits greatly the conditions that can be applied to appointing people to jobs or to their treatment in work.

The full impact of this Act and the regulations that will be issued will be seen in the coming months and years. What it does mean that employing people cannot be subject to a wide range of requirements common in the past.

Health and Safety Act, 1974 and EU Directive 89/331EEC 1989

Under these laws there have been a large number of Directives and Regulations issued each year by the Health and Safety Executive which have the force of law. Old ones can be amended at any time as well as new ones issued.

All these, which have been increasing in number, directly affect what an employee can do in a number of areas of work and how they do it. Failure to understand those in the past has been a serious cause of misunderstandings and difficulty.

Disability Discrimination Act 2010

This brings together earlier law and EU Directives together with regulations and has a major impact on employment. Both in appointing and providing for staff there are now substantial requirements on employers.

Should an employee become disabled, either physically or mentally, whether in the course of their work or for other reasons the employer will be expected to make proper provision for them to do the job.

Also, as some disabilities may lead to occasional periods of treatment or sickness the employer will have to allow for this in the conditions of service and employment.

Human Rights Act 2010

This follows the Human Rights Act of 1998, enforced in October 2000 with the added law of 2004. It puts into effect a wider range of requirements and treatment of persons that directly affect employment issues. The full scale of this will take some time to emerge.

Given all this, many firms and organisations could now spend far more time and effort in simply managing and providing for their employees than on the services or production or other functions that they are supposed to be providing.

Once you gave jobs for people to do something to earn their money. Now our government sees jobs not as a means of production but as the end in itself regardless of what is supposed to be produced.

So what is happening to real economic growth?

Tuesday 30 August 2011

NHS - New Initiatives

In the news reports we are told that in several hospitals nurses are given tabards to wear instructing patients and others that they are not to talk to them or interrupt them in their primary duty of shoving pills down throats.

Tabards are a very medieval form of dress. Increasingly the NHS is becoming more and more medieval in its approach to the general population, sorry, customer base.

The highly structured hierarchy of control, the extent of security services, the rigorous segregation of duties and functions, the number of plagues carrying off the unlucky, starvation, lack of clean water, general filth and primitive manners are taking us back to the past.

Add to this the whole service is now more a means of extracting money for predatory war lords of the financial and consultancy classes than it is of actually curing the sick or caring for the infirm.

It is only a matter of time before new management initiatives more related to the past medieval forms of contact will be introduced.

The one pictured above will surely be one of the first.

Monday 29 August 2011

The Deceptions Of The Duchess

Being flooded out, not with a tropical storm but all the bad news on TV, we decided to put on a film that had been saved on the box. As so many films these days have lots of crash bang, split second cross cutting, flashing images and the rest we rarely get beyond the first five minutes.

“The Duchess” put out on BBC2 mercifully had little of this and was watchable both as a handsome production and with style. It was history, allegedly, about Georgina, Duchess of Devonshire, a major figure in politics, style and celebrity in the late 18th Century. This offered me the prospect of ninety minutes nit picking.

Within seconds of the start the first nit came into view in the shape of Charles Grey. Depicted as a virile young man with a smouldering passion for Georgina he took part in a race with other aristocrats to win the prize of a kiss. Alas, her mum had just called her back into the stately home to be betrothed to the Duke of Devonshire.

The trouble was that whilst Georgina was certainly a lovely 17 year old lass; the real Charles Grey would have been a ten year old. He may well have raced and been charmed by her but more as a sort of aunt or cousin. What would have more entertaining was if his race might have been as a draghound.

In past times it was not unknown amongst the aristocracy; the Mitford girls did it, was to use their children for the hounds to chase across country. It was thought to be invaluable in teaching them how a fox or stag might react in the hunt. For those who went into politics it was even more useful as a learning experience.

Eventually, Charles did get into bed with Georgina, but by then she was 34 and very likely given the times and the effect of drink and white lead makeup rather past her best. He was a 27 old rising young man with much to gain. The age difference would not be thought much of now but then it put him definitely in the toy boy class.

Eventually, he became Prime Minister and the man who brought in the Reform Bill and the Abolition of Slavery Act of 1833 so we have much to thank him for. The child he had by Georgina was given a decent upbringing and marriage settlement and in marriage he had a large family.

Another nit was Sheridan and the play “School for Scandal” implying that it had some sort of reference to the Devonshire family imbroglios. There were more than enough interesting marital situations around to provide the basis for that at the time and I doubt that Sheridan would have had a go at the Devonshire’s in 1777.

The real pity of the film was the absence of any sense of Georgina’s interest in poetry, art or the sciences. Admittedly, fitting in Thomas Beddoes (Wikipedia) to a fast moving film concerned with complicated personal lives would not have been easy and would have gone against its grain. But it would have raised some interesting questions.

Georgina died leaving huge debts arising from her high consumption, high living and gambling lifestyle. A great deal of “society” at that time despite their wealth and incomes depended on debt and eventually it all had to be paid for.

On the whole not much changes.

Sunday 28 August 2011

Playing The Game

This one is about two to three years old, but I could not resist.

Friday 26 August 2011

Happy Holiday

Hurricane Irene is attracting more interest now that it is about to hit the USA. Not only is there the possibility of wide damage but it might have a major effect on New York. At present there are reports that on safety grounds some oil refineries will shut down during the storm.

In the Gulf, there are reports that the Deepwater Horizon well has begun to leak again despite all the efforts to close it. Out in the South Atlantic Tropical Depression 10 is on its way across to the West, the eventual direction and intensity not known.

Texas is enduring a continuing drought and there are water supply issues in parts of the West. There has been an outbreak of Dengue Fever in The Bahamas to add to the weather problems. All in all nature and man’s intrusion into it are not looking good.

In London tomorrow will be the Notting Hill Carnival. Let us hope that it will be a happy event for all those taking part and who have worked hard to make it a community occasion. It will distract us from Libya where there is about to be some ugly political arm wrestling over the future of its oil and gas supplies.

Both Europe and the UK need access and control over these because of their increasing energy deficits and economic damage wreaked by price increases. If some experts are right and that at current levels we can forget about much in the way of real economic growth then there are issues.

As it is argued that our current view of GDP depends too much on the velocity of circulation within a limited field of financial operations and in any case is based on manipulated figures then we may not really know what we are doing.

In any case it is difficult to find a national government amongst the G20 and others that does seem to know what it is doing. Essentially, we are all playing a game of economic and financial blind man’s bluff in an overcrowded room with no exits.

There are a few other things as well, but this has to be a short post because tea is nearly ready and I have to deliver some shopping to someone who from the web I learn is on the wrong side of a bad traffic jam caused by a car that tried to take a short cut through a bus shelter, luckily unoccupied.

Have a good Bank Holiday.

Thursday 25 August 2011

Finding Gaddafi Losing Megrahi

If there is a serious search on for Colonel Muammar Gaddafi why don’t they look in the obvious place? In a particular quiet, sometimes not so quiet, London square resides an old friend of the Colonel who is deeply in his debt, possibly, both monetary and personal.

Where better to hole up for a while? It is only a short distance from the Royal Albert Hall so perhaps he will be able to take in The Last Night Of The Proms in one of the better boxes. He could dress up like some of those in the Arena and be impossible to spot.

Not only will he be amongst friends but there are many oligarchs in the area who would welcome him as an invaluable source of advice on tax avoidance and use of sovereign funds.

His friend’s wife is a renowned legal expert on Human Rights. All he needs to do is find a pliant young lady with a nice cat and then plead that he is in a relationship that is intended to be permanent. That is, until the next young lady comes along, perhaps with more cats.

As for Megrahi, it might be best to leave him alone. If he does have what we think he has it is handling very damaged goods. Better he shuffles off the mortal coil in the bosom of his family than under guard in a UK hospital from dehydration or starvation. If anything were to go wrong it would be another PR disaster in the Arab world.

There are plenty of medical things to consider as well with this complaint and they can happen suddenly. One or two of them are highly dangerous, difficult to predict and sometimes to determine after death with certainty.

As someone who was probably under the flight path of the Pan Am airliner that went down in Lockerbie around 30 to 40 minutes before it exploded I would like nothing better to see anyone involved facing full life. But taking risks with Megrahi could have a lot of unintended consequences.

Back in the 1950’s I spent a few weeks in a bed sit in Connaught Square but moved on. It cost £4 a week and there were cheaper ones available in better areas. At that time the square had too many crooks and whores in residence for my liking.

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Memento Mori

In the old days, it might happen that you would notice in the street more women than usual standing at their doors with older ones across the street from a particular home. They would be talking quietly and waiting. They would often remain for some time despite the household jobs to be done.

Then across the street the upstairs curtains would be drawn and shortly after the downstairs ones. The women would go back into their houses and the old women return to theirs.

The death watch was over.

There would be times when the wait was a long one. There would be others when either fervent praying brought about a recovery or the old blighter wasn’t going to go easily.

Across the web much the same is happening, this time it is the Bank of America that is the subject of the watching and waiting and there will be precious little quiet, dignity or respect when the lights go out. Business Insider sums it up:

It will not be like any other and the ramifications will be different because when a big bank goes down it is never the same and always with a great many unforeseen and unintended effects. At the moment the stock is twitchy but that is no great guide.

The only thing that is the same is that lessons have not been learned from other similar events in the recent past and also the financial world, governments and the rest will not learn the lessons from this one.

Whatever happens, even if this patient recovers the situation will not be the same in future and there will have been both direct and a lot of incidental damage done. Because of the many mysteries within the Bank’s accounts there is no telling what will be the future.

In the UK because of other matters there has been little notice taken of this, along with many other things that are problematical because it seems so far away and in any case as far as the USA is concerned a big earthquake along with a hurricane has more personal interest stories than a bank.

In the recent crash, however, we found out that the UK was far more connected than we thought. How many local councils had big money in Icelandic banks that were not quite banks when the money ran out? How much UK money is involved in Greece? If it is anything like Ireland it will be a lot.

The Bank of America also has major UK connections. Because of the default of one of its largest customers it now holds thousands of freeholds of UK leasehold properties. Moreover, it is the effective owner of several of the largest property management service companies running leasehold developments.

What will happen to them? Who might be their eventual owners? What will be their financial objectives? Who in the UK will be worst affected? What impact might this have on rentals and operations in the UK leasehold and renting sector?

Don’t ask our government, the Bank of England or any UK bodies, they will not have the faintest idea nor will they know what to do if the going gets rough.

Are the old ladies gathering on the pavement across from your place?

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Put A Shine On It

That what is left of my teeth is worth more now than the rest of me is worrying. Should the price per ounce of gold keep rising at the present rate they might be worth more than my whole estate. Should I postpone the dentist’s check up or should I have it done as soon as possible?

On Thursday 5th March 2009, it is arguable that this situation could have been foreseen but what the right action might have been is not clear.

In many parts of the world there is real concern about the effects of the fall in the value of the dollar. Some people have been buying Swiss Francs instead. Now in Switzerland they are becoming anxious about the consequences for the general economy of a sharp rise in the value of their currency.

The US site Money and Markets is talking happily about the Ultimate Financial Catastrophe and suggests what it might be best to do. This is puzzling, since in a real catastrophe everybody goes down. It is one thing to be rich in a working society; it is another to hold paper wealth in a collapsed society.

Roubini is saying that Marx might have been right about some things. The problem is all the things he was wrong about. The Oil Drum takes issue with the US Presidential hopeful, Ms. Bachmann who is promising that “gas”, petrol to us, can go back to less that $2 a gallon. Here in the UK it is around $9 a gallon.

With inflation beginning, the Bank of America in free fall, disruptions of one thing or another pending, Banks putting their dud paper into pension funds and the issues over the Euro now much greater together with the perils of some major states supplying oil, the only certainty is uncertainty.

This could have been a long and complicated post, but it is time to clean my teeth.

Monday 22 August 2011

Private And Public

It was one of those days again. Sitting, worried in a waiting room that somehow you could be helped and that there was an answer to questions you could not deal with yourself and had to depend on the expertise of others. Luckily, today they were kind and understanding and told me not to fear the worst.

No, not the quack’s where all you get is five minutes and a chit to pop pills to help him or her tick their boxes and keep the pharmaceuticals in bonuses. Nor the banks who will want to sell you schemes that you do not want, cannot afford and will probably ruin you.

It was a computer place where the old civilities still can be found if you are honest with them. Luckily, it was not my problem but someone’s who was very busy and needed a person with a bit of time to spare. With the medic’s these days it is better to use the net and for the most part safer. With computers it is not the same.

What I did see there was on an ordinary monitor half a dozen pictures that I took to be news items or video’s of entertainments. It wasn’t, it was CCTV of their building and area that was fascinating to watch, if you are nosey that is.

So much for privacy, anyone these days with a few quid to spare and a decent set up can have good wide coverage of their home and site in detail at no great cost. More to the point, this does not just deter some it can be a source of evidence when needed. But it isn’t private, all is recorded and if you are not careful, revealed.

Full colour, up to a dozen cameras at once; sharp definition, it had time lapse and also movement sensitive and all dealing with the space of a terrace house and back garden. Wow, all you needed instead of a computer monitor was a few big screens to give you life as we know it.

Stepping out into the High Street, you might expect to have moved away from this. Not so, the main parts of town are festooned with cameras and somewhere out there could be people watching. They will be getting bored with my dance routines so I do not bother any more.

In any case the public sector CCTV seems to be nowhere near as good as the private domestic version and is often switched off to save money. It is rare that street crime leads to court cases because the evidence is so bad. No wonder so many of our local hoods have switched income streams from burglary to mugging.

Back in the old days of film and TV of the mid to late 20th Century one way to impress the viewers was to have huge rooms full of computer hardware and white coated or other high tech’ minions running around in a flat panic keeping it all going.

Now all it needs is an ordinary person with a small box of tricks, keyboard and screen and a few well placed mini-cameras to do the same more or less between sorting out the paper work, making the coffee and answering the phone.

The reason I was there was because a large public sector organisation had lost all the relevant records and totally botched what needed to be done. This small private sector entity had it sorted out while I was drinking a cup of tea they had kindly supplied.

Sunday 21 August 2011

Shake Rattle And Roll

An acquaintance has recently down sized, or rather been down sized and moved into a town centre flat both for convenience and to eliminate many incidental costs. Bus and train fares don’t come cheap these days for those in the wrong age range.

At weekends despite being in a first floor flat in a substantial building the in the night for several hours the floor begins to shake. The building is a listed one and has solid floors and was built to take weight at all levels. Having relevant experience abroad he rates the level as Richter Scale 3 plus.

There can be no doubt that the tremors and their timing mean that their origins lie in the transmitted acoustic effects from the sound levels near but not next door by any means. Whether other loud sound locations close may add to either the level or complexity of the effect is possible but difficult to detect.

The physics and mathematics of the transmission of acoustic and seismic effects and their potential impact is highly complex. A major difficulty lies in the understanding of most people for these issues. A great deal does not seem to make sense. For example in an earthquake buildings thought to be much more vulnerable remain whereas those thought to be stronger either fail or collapse.

The peoples of the past put this down to the capricious nature of the gods. The reality is more complicated. One aspect of this is the history of the buildings and matters relating to the structures. By definition Listed Buildings have a history and often a long and complicated one. Recent and non listed buildings may still have a history but their structures are another matter.

The period of the 1960’s through to the 1980’s saw many buildings which had a lot of attention paid to design but poor build quality and short cuts in the relevant materials. In all buildings, but more so older ones deformation of the soils or below ground elements constitutes a risk.

Another area of physics that needs to be taken account of is Collapse Dynamics. That is the effect of phase transmission through solids and substances that can trigger unpredictable effects and where a weakening either exists or occurs will cause not so much limited damage or deformation but a widespread event.

In a structure the failure of one part, whether known to be important but only minor which then transmits failure can lead to a more catastrophic event.

In the UK in very many town centres are a variety of buildings of differing ages and condition, some listed, some not. The physics of acoustic and seismic events will take little account of the administrative classification. Strong effects will either weaken or act on already weakened structures irrespective of historical or any architectural interest.

If you have such a collection of buildings and regularly each weekend they are subject to seismic acoustic stress at up to Richter Scale 3 earthquake or beyond then risk will exist and probably increase the longer it goes on. Perhaps some form of risk analysis might be appropriate for the Listed Buildings around the country.

The next question is just what level of sound does it take to produce that Scale of impact over an area well beyond the curtilage of the building where it occurs? Clearly it will not be at a level currently deemed “safe” for employees, which is at 80 despite many hearing experts feeling that 70 would be better. Given that the decibel scale is a logarithmic one it is possible that to produce such a seismic effect could mean a level in the order of 100 plus with bursts of possibly more.

Clearly, there is a problem here. Business development in many town centres has meant a rapid increase in the night time entertainment and dance culture. Unluckily, a feature of this is high levels of loudness of sound driven by complicated and heavy duty equipment. In marketing there is almost a race to the loudest.

Whilst the concern has been mostly related to public order and health matters (are those flat out on the pavement simply drunk or suffering severe concussion?) there has been no recognition of the actual physical effects on the buildings around and their structural integrity.

I suspect that local Councils have little or no knowledge or awareness that there is a problem here or the liabilities arising. Sooner or later somewhere something will happen and nobody can predict where or what or which roof might fall in.

A small bet says it could be one of the Councils which invested in Icelandic banks.

Saturday 20 August 2011

That Was The Week That Will Be

It seems as though almost, if not every week, these days has at least one major fiasco of Government, UK style, another astonishing blunder, Europe style and a serious miscalculation of risk, USA style. These are attended by other ones from across the globe almost as difficult to predict.

Then there events of the past that come back to remind us. Mr. Megrahi in Libya celebrates two years of freedom instead of being mourned these long months since. Which blogger was it that suggested that his treatment in Scotland was not as it should be and once in Libya his survival chances improved vastly?

Apparently, a major bank, suspected to be a French one failed to borrow enough short term money on the markets to get past the week and had to be supported. The Bank of America, now on Death Watch according to US sources, is having a fire sale of assets and cutting jobs. Which one is next?

One country we hear little of in this trail of disaster and fear is Russia, which is a little strange. Perhaps it is too far from our media to gain notice or the language too little known. Historically, when fiasco’s, blunders and miscalculations are to be found the Russians are never far behind. Could something there be impending?

Perhaps geophysical events are best avoided given the quantity and quality of man made disasters but they can impact on them. It may not be next week but one week soon there ought to be something that goes pop or bang or clunk.

For someone who likes nothing better than to go outside, sniff the wind, say an old saw and suggest summat ‘orrible is nigh there is an embarrassment of riches. It reminds me of the time when meat was taken off ration and it was possible to ask a butcher for something other than scrawny very old mutton.

Back in the 1960’s when the BBC were frantic to stave off the collapse of their viewing figures they roped in a few leftie Oxbridge chaps to do a late night satire show which became popular. It was new and picked out issues from the week before. Often there was not much but they made the best of it in “That Was The Week That Was”.

If such a programme existed now they would simply have too much material to cope with and it would be a struggle to select something from the many options available. Possibly, the only way round it would be not to look at the week past, but at the week coming to do a satirical “Mystic Meg” show.

Merkel and Sarkozy go ice skating? Cameron and Clegg play leapfrog? Obama appears in the “X Factor”? A big round board with the names of banks on it is whizzed round for someone to chuck a dart to select the one to go bust?

A “Take Your Pick” show where members of our elite try for the biggest pension pot? Or a medical one where the winner selects a medical procedure for their favourite politician?

It might almost work.

Friday 19 August 2011

More Decisions Decisions

In the New York Times there has been an item on the notion of “Decision Fatigue” to the effect when faced with a series of complex and intricate decisions the person critical the process has their judgment and actions impaired by a declining ability to cope.

Transferred to politics and minds reluctant to take certain kinds of decision in the first place this suggests that fatigue might set in at an earlier stage than those in the studies. For Blair it may have been only days after his election in 1997.

For Cameron and Clegg, alas, there are all the signs of it. Mervyn King’s could be dated back quite a while now. The list could go on and on. Probably the entire Cabinet is affected. As for the Labour opposition they all went into that mode years ago and I doubt if sentient life is left there.

The NYT article is here:

President Obama may have lasted longer than most but it was evident when the Deepwater Horizon oil spill occurred. This was a situation that would have tested anybody and would have found a good many out. But since then there have been increasing questions about his thinking processes and policy management.

Turning to Europe one wonders if all the protagonists in the current Euro crisis have collectively contracted decision fatigue. This is not to suggest it is contagious. But if one major leader goes missing in decision capability it can create the conditions for all of them to be affected. So who was it?

Two of the leading economies in Asia are also showing signs of failure in decision making and policy implementation. Japan for obvious reasons but China, which may be good at hiding things may now be spending more time in covering up than exercising effective control over what is going on.

In all the turmoil and hurly burly of what is going on there is nobody to get a grip or at least think things through to some sort of logical or sensible conclusion. It is all seat of the pants and spur of the moment politics and governance at present.

Applying this to times past in History and it could explain a great deal. But the world today is a lot more complicated.

Personally, mine sets in a few minutes after getting up and continues until a decision is made to advise me to go back to bed again.  At least so I am told.

Thursday 18 August 2011

Another Planet

The media is telling all about a new film, “The Rise of the Planet of the Apes” which connects to the 1968 film. At some time in the 1980’s I did attempt to watch a screening of this but gave up in favour of the teletext. Thanks to the web and youtube it is possible to work out the storyline.

The new film has a plot line that I understand involves a large corporation hoping to make vast profits on a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. This requires a lot of serious testing on apes and somehow they get out of control. In parallel with this the scientists involved let loose a nasty virus that does for most humans.

So the apes get to be top dog, if only to mix a metaphor, perhaps a virus is getting to me and the humans are corralled and used as slaves having become beings of a lesser intelligence and capability.

Considering this and looking at the world around me, I wonder if it has already happened. Only it has not been done quickly and has simply unfolded quietly and without notice because of all our other preoccupations.

The result has been the development of another species of humanoid which because of alterations in the brain and behaviour patterns have been able to take and assert control.

If you look hard at the forms of speech, the grammar, the gestures, the rutting habits, the inexplicable content of their communication and the urge for domination and destruction amongst our politicians, financiers and their close associates the pattern is clear.

We poor gentler members of an older species with our trusting and complex thinking brains cannot compete with them and indeed have been so persuaded by their arrogance that we have elected or supported their bids for power.

My reason for thinking this has taken a little time is because in the 80’s I attended a meeting at which a number of Labour politicians were to be present. When it was about to start someone asked “Where’s John?” to which the reply was “Oh, he’s outside swinging in the trees.” I cannot reveal which John it was.

If you disbelieve me, look around you and weep.

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Prayer For Today

From the web, firstly, a translation courtesy of one of the family who prefers to go back to source in the Latin, hat tip Dr. Jeremy Taylor. Secondly, the original from the web via another member of the family, source unknown, but it is unlikely to be Archbishop Cranmer.

Pater Noster.

Pater noster, qui es in carcerem
Vestibulum nescit nomen eius.
Bacchatur tuus venit legit in sole,
quod est Bremenium in Londinium.

Da nobis hodie panem nostrum bonum, et dimitte nobis ASBO scriptor,
Ut sapien urna palmis caedebat qui nobis ASBO est adversum nos.
Ne nos inferas in usu, sed libera nos habitationem.
Rapina Quia tuum est, et ad incendium damno scelus.

Omnia saecula saeculorum.

non est

Our Father

Our father, who art in prison,
My mum knows not his name.
Thy riots come, read it in The Sun,
In Birmingham as it is in London.

Give us this day our welfare bread, and forgive us our ASBO's,
As we happy slap those who got us our ASBO's against us.
Lead us not into employment, but deliver us free housing.
For thine is the looting, the arson and criminal damage.

For ever and ever.



I have nominated this for an Incitatus Award for Services to Culture.

Tuesday 16 August 2011

Planning For Bail Outs

These days there are a number of things that give me the shivers. Perhaps it is better not to list them, some people can be judgemental. There is one that always has me deeply worried.

It is when a politician begins to talk about planning the economy or seems to think that the politics comes first and the economy meekly follows according to the needs of the moment.

It is reported that President Obama in a latest need for sound bites that will sound good and masterful has been talking of an economic plan to overcome current difficulties.

If there is not enough bad news around the possibility that the USA will spend the next fifteen months in a debate about what economic planning might be best is cause to head for the hills.

My memory in the UK goes back to all that business about the commanding heights of the economy. This began when they were already under erosion and on the way to becoming foothills if not lowlands and some became swamps.

Then there was the much trumpeted National Plan of the 1960’s which was about as much use as putting wallpaper over the walls of a residence that was suffering from severe subsidence. Having had the NCB in to restore one of my past homes in a mining area this is something I do know about.

In the 1970’s in the UK it was not so much a national plan as an IMF ultimatum and rescue came not from any significant political decision but the sweat and work of those in the North Sea oil and gas fields.

Looking further afield those political entities that went in for extensive planning and state directed organisation and management all seemed to go down the drain. The balance between state funding of major projects which is one thing and actual involvement in detail and decision is a fine one but critical.

It the data that goes into a plan is deficient, dated or wildly optimistic and planners often seem manically over optimistic to satisfy the demands of political masters then the plan will be rubbish. If the plan is not flexible or capable of rapid adjustment then it will not work.

If the plan attempts to retain the past and the future does not match expectations then it will descend into a chaos that will be normally insurmountable. Which is more or less where we are at the moment following Blair & Brown and their vision of a deftly controlled Goldilocks economy, now shelved under Fantasy.

Those of us with any sense will wish the USA well and hope that they do overcome the many challenges they face. This is not said in a spirit of generosity but naked self interest. If they go down we all go down with them.

If the USA does hit the rocks then who bails out China?

Monday 15 August 2011

Raising Standards

With Dave The Suave raising his standard at Nottingham, or rather Notting Hill and rallying all true men to his cause it is War against the rebels. Summoning not so much Prince Rupert but a Yankee Top Cop to his side we are in for Year Zero on the mean streets of Erdington and Enfield.

And who exactly is going to do the fighting? Will Boris lead his cavalry of Biking Boulevardiers into battle? The Royal Scots Greys, alas, are otherwise occupied, so there will be no Waterloo. Moreover if the gangs get out their guns it could just be a rerun of The Charge of the Light Brigade.

All he has is a large Corps of social counsellors and out reach consultants. These will be about as much use as a Mobile Laundry Unit and NAAFI canteen against the Soviet 3rd Shock Army now appearing as ravening hordes of predatory pubescent males and females.

To misquote someone, “We shall consult on the beaches, we shall discuss benefit rights in the night clubs, we shall engage with them in the fields and streets, we shall empower and enable them in the estates, we shall keep on giving and we shall always surrender.”

Yesterday, the Olympics lot ran a shortish bike race between The Mall and Box Hill in Surrey and back. In doing so, they paralysed all the traffic more or less in West London and much of Surrey. All the rebels have to do is nick a few mountain bikes from their local commuter station and ride around to bring London to a halt.

With apparently 66 countries using the US dollar as their marker and a further 17 in the Euro Zone with 7 pending as well as the Swiss Franc now becoming the default currency for anyone with serious money, any idea that the “markets” out there are “free”, whatever that means, is a serious misunderstanding.

There are going to be some serious dislocations around the world with a number of unresolved issues that are about to resolve themselves in unexpected ways. Also, in relation to the dollar at the moment the South Atlantic weather systems seem to be livening up. Something expensive could happen, hopefully not.

The chief worry for us all in the UK is that with the current scandal about Civil Service Gold Cards on the go all those that have them will cash in as soon as possible before something is done.

Not even George Osborne will be able to control that deficit. It could be that the Final Battle in the consumer outlets will be between the looters and the civil servants frantically trying to max out their departmental credit limits.

Time to start counting the spoons.

Sunday 14 August 2011

Rights And Wrongs

Whilst everyone is bleating about what went wrong nobody seems to have realised that it was never right in the first place. There never was some kind of UK or other paradise where it was all happy families raising kids to be socially mobile, or if not, at least willing workers in an ordered and secure world.

In the 1960’s the world was a difficult and dangerous place and the reality of life for the bulk of the population of the UK far from the Rock and Roll Swinging Sixties the media have foisted on history. As for debt the maximum debt loading a salaried family in a safe job might go to was only around two and one half times the main income only.

What has happened is that many of the problems that existed were bought off. Cheap oil, vastly improved transport of goods together with medical and technical advance bought us almost half a century which together with inflation, the gross debasement of fiat money and the bribery of regimes and electorates have deferred and delayed the impact of human activity on political stability.

What is worse is that in the search for reasons across the world both media and the politicians have relied on notions, theories and ideologies from earlier generations, who themselves lived in changing worlds they did not fully understand and from the more distant past.

We cannot go back because what was in the past cannot be recreated and the ideas we used then are now increasingly remote from present reality. Even ideas formed as recently as the 1990’s are as hopelessly wrong and dangerous in the coming situation as those of earlier periods. What do we have to build on?

The answer is not a lot. The distortion and manipulation of information and images has been an ever present in human affairs, also changes in attitude. The shifts and turns of our rulers in the past give many examples that would fit the modern world. How did Britain get into so many wars? We were told in school about the hundred years of peace between 1815 and 1914. Yet, in that time there was barely a year when British troops or seamen did not see action.

Today we have the issue of the Iraq dossiers and it is apparent that the use of modern spin, manipulation of figures, false accounting and calculated use of a media that is largely tied and subservient means that if what we know is what we are told then we really are in trouble. Because what we are told is closer to fiction than fact.

Our posturing politicians have given away most of their authority to both foreign and UK agencies severely limiting their capacity to do anything effectively. They have given away control of the money supply and credit control and creation to a group of financiers who base themselves elsewhere.

They have caved in to the demands of a narrow range of interests who have the ear of the media that means whilst on the one hand there are infinitely more laws there is little real control in what is happening on the streets amongst those elements of the population who prefer to avoid either useful work or to follow basic rules.

There have always been criminal elements in society, sometimes more so others less. There have always been fraudsters and crooks. There have always been the poor and needy and those needing help. There have always been families that were in difficulty. For a time in the UK in the mid 20th Century we seemed to manage to deal with the worst of it but then gave up and handed out money instead.

Now, in their own pursuit for wealth the politicians have tied their own hands and hope to exist on words spin and issuing fake money. In the parade of people through the law courts in the next few weeks you will not see any of the drug barons, people traffickers, fraudsters or tax evaders. You will see the shoddy end of the criminal elements that do the dirty work.

We are paying for it all and the future means we will have a lot less money to do it with. So how is the present political structure going to survive?

Friday 12 August 2011

It Is Better To Travel Hopefully

Tomorrow is another London day and I think we will skip Oxford Street. Well, we always skip Oxford Street to avoid the pickpockets and manic bargain hunters desperate to pay three times more for a label from London than they might have to pay at home.

We are happy that the Spurs v Everton game is off. It will remove a lot of soccer fans from the trains and make them quieter and more pleasant journeys. We understand the soundness of the logic of the decision. Rioters and looters must be protected at all costs from the Everton fans, especially my distant cousins from the Gwladys Street end.

It was also sensible to protect them from the Dutch fans or their national team in mid week. Do you recall their physicality in the last World Cup? Even The Kop would be wary of tackling that lot. If we were serious we could raise three battalions of militia from the various London fans, brigade them with volunteers from rugby clubs give them all enough half tracks and leave them to it.

While all this is going on there are other things happening. Over the channel the continent is becoming increasingly isolated and they are learning that all those nit picking critics of the Euro really did see some flaws in the system when it came under strain. A couple of big banks in France and Spain going under plus some German Landesbanks will finally persuade them.

The link is not too long but succinct:

Over in the USA another commentator has become much more pessimistic. In a long post he is telling us that we are now embarked on a Third World War. This is the richest one percent against the ninety nine per cent of the rest with the emphasis being those in the bottom fifty plus per cent.

The Market Oracle has the piece:

Apparently in the performance we are going to see tomorrow the review says that the “lion” that appears looks moth eaten.

We know the feeling.

Thursday 11 August 2011

Identity Crisis At The BBC

In all the debate about the underclass and who they are and what they are doing some things are not quite clear. One is that some of those involved seem to be far removed from the toiling masses and others public sector employees. There is much being said about how people regard their identities. This can be complicated.

BBC1 kicked off a new series of “Who Do Think You Are” yesterday, a programme that asks celebrities to have a look at their ancestry in terms of how they see themselves. Whilst many people see in them some kind of agenda about telling us all what we think we should be this may be beyond the organisational powers of the BBC at present.

But it does go long on looking for bigger storylines and some of the more arcane corners of history. There is not much of the daunting ordinary in most lives. If David Attenborough can have us riveted by the lives of obscure insects and plants it should not be beyond others to tell the tale as it is.

Famously, and this was one of my blogs, Michael Parkinson was rejected as being “uninteresting” yet he may have been connected to the Parkinson Royal Doncaster Butterscotch makers who were world famous in Hemsworth. Also, imagine what Attenborough could have made of the breeding of whippets.

June Muriel Brown the actress now known for her part as “Dot Cotton” in the soap, “Eastbenders” is first up in the new series. Allegedly, almost playing herself on screen she certainly lived up to the part. Many of those who take part when out of role seem refreshingly normal. Vic Reeves encountering a long lost relative who had never seen him on TV seemed almost glad.

The June Brown programme was both fascinating and selective. She hopped back a handful of generations mostly in the female line to a bare knuckle boxer Isaac Bitton who was famous in his day and undoubtedly a brave and resourceful man. The whole programme then was devoted to tracking his family back from Amsterdam via Northern Italy and previous deportation from Oran in North Africa by a Spanish Grandee.

They were Sephardic Jewish, a community who have an interesting and complex history that otherwise was largely ignored. Considering they could well have gone back to the Carthaginians this was quite an omission. Also, largely omitted was any attempt to explain any of the other backdrop of history. Complicated it is but it is not beyond a competent historian to sketch in what it implies.

This strand of her history was intriguing but to imply that it was all or most of the story was not quite accurate. At best it may have been only ten per cent. Other parts of the family went without research and unmentioned. Any possibility of an aristocratic strain in the DNA was firmly discounted. As any genealogist knows you assume that something cannot turn up at your peril.

From passing comment it seems that June’s father may have been a Scottish Brown. We can all sympathise with someone who does not want to look at some of the murkier Brown ancestries of Scotland. Who knows what could turn up? Do you really want to have a Presbyterian Minister in the blood stream?

But there was mention of Italian blood as well. If these were Italians who came to Scotland a century or more ago then this does raise some interesting questions. As well as other Brown’s who are of interest there could be quite a story there.

The other one was the inclusion of an Irish strain. This, I assume might be the Butler part of her mother’s family. If so, then well, well, well, Butler is a surname held by many ordinary people from Ireland, however the Butler name includes some of the great and major families of that country. The odds against aristocratic ancestry suddenly shorten.

The programme therefore, while being interesting and entertaining with a basis of fact told much less than half the story. Moreover, it fitted it to the preconceived media persona of battling “Dot Cotton” who was an East End Londoner from further shores. In part it was truth but it was far from the whole truth and therefore deceptive.

When we look at those who live in London today and most urban areas the great majority do not know who exactly they are nor much about their roots. Many have scant connection even with close family.

As for identity they are invited to take it from what the commercial media tells them they are and how they behave by those selected by the media to act as role models. You are what you consume as Kant might have said.

All together now “My old man’s a dustman…………”

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Looting For Dummies

Last Wednesday, 3rd August, in “On A Wing And A Prayer” under a picture of Laurel and Hardy I commented on the potential for a loss of control and referred to the London Mob of old. This was not so much a prediction as a warning. And so it came to pass.

There have been other comments that in the past where life has been nasty, brutish and short it was common to have a lot of small violent groups under minor warlords. The time when this turns bad is when they begin to act together and in concert.

The signs and portents have been there for a little time now. In recent years when going into town on a Monday it has become routine to see broken shop windows and other damage to property sometimes with entry having been made. The smashing of windows in parked cars has become frequent. Ram raids are also common.

Arrests are rare because police investigation is rare. Even if they do arrest, prosecution may well simply not happen because there is a glitch in the fallen forest of paperwork and if it does punishment will be trivial or scant.

Along with this has been the increase in incidental arson, often in isolated buildings or those without security cover. Sometimes this occurs from wilfulness, sometimes from spite in residential property with occasional fatalities. That people may be put out of work or their lives ruined does not enter the equation. Again it is unusual for arrests or prosecution to occur.

What is striking about both the vandalism and the arson that particular targets are very often the sports clubs, voluntary and other community facilities that try so hard to help, support and provide alternative and effective interests for the young.

Quite simply, this has now escalated and come together in what amounts to a bid to control not just local estates but key urban areas. Should these mobs begin to cohere under some form of effective leadership then we are in real trouble.

There are cries for more spending on facilities and public sector provision for the young, despite the damage being done to them already. In my time and after there were extensive local, voluntary and other forms of activity for the young. But there was also a largish minority, normally boozers and bashers that scorned this and went their own way.

The damage they inflicted was highly localised and largely amongst themselves but they were a nuisance. But even then there was scope for crime and criminals to evade justice. However those who controlled this did not have the grip on power and the power brokers of those of today, often by the nose.

Tomorrow London is poised for more trouble as over 600 looters descend on Westminster. Parliament has been recalled and the Members of the House of Commons need their expenses. There have been a handful of arrests recently but if sentenced they are soon released. The loss of a Rolex watch is clearly reason to let a man go.

They will have cause for concern. Tourism has been touted as one area where the UK might improve its trading figures. Bookings for next year could well be down. Additionally, there are fears that real attempts may be made to tax the owners of several properties at levels that approach those with only a single property or no property at all. A lot of them will be looking at reductions in their portfolios.

The atmosphere in the downstairs subsidised bars of the Palace of Westminster could well turn even more ugly than usual.

Tuesday 9 August 2011

Look Back In Anger

The events commanding the media are largely about the young and the reality of life in urban areas. There is a lot of blistering comment to the effect of this one was coming, indeed inevitable and why. This blog has made it clear that all was not well and there was to be trouble at the mill or rather shopping malls.

Yesterday, I did not attend a meeting. A raft of family things got in the way. In the past I might have grumbled about that, but now I was not sorry. It had the makings of a tense session concerned with budgetary, employment and related issues. After half a lifetime in meetings on these subjects I swore to avoid them at all costs in retirement.

At one time these meetings would have been a routine easy hour or so that would have been more about neighbours getting together for a cup of tea and a chat. The flats we were in were run in a way that was not 100% efficient but responsive and we knew where we were and who we were dealing with. Now that has gone and to the dismay of all can never return.

What most of my friends here and neighbours find difficult is in understanding just what has happened and the implications. To ask why and hope for a rational answer is normal. To try to explain in so many words that the reasons are extremely complex and we are all now in a chaotic and unpredictable situation is much harder.

It seems mad and it is and whilst they may think it is nothing to do with them the idea that they are in the middle of it and are going to have to carry part of the cost is distinctly unwelcome. That it is impossible for them to have what they want is more unwelcome. That there is little that can be done and less that will be is very bad news for anyone in the 80+ age group.

The freeholds of all our flats, once owned by the developer have now been through other hands. Then they came into the possession of bit City financiers who were concerned with maximising the returns of their investment and securitizing both the income and assets for highly leveraged speculation and trading.

These financiers who have now defaulted have surrendered their interests to the Bank of America. This is a bank that is much troubled and is carrying large scale liabilities. What is going to happen to our freeholds is not known but it may not be good news when it does. With many other developments it is not just the freeholds but their property management service as well that is in the mix. Zeus preserve them.

Another major problem is the effect of the huge volume of legislation that has been imposed in terms of employment, health and safety, a variety of rights and obligations that all work to support the employee and others but not us. This has radically affected the way the development is taken care of and nobody likes what has happened.

The implications that the deal which we all signed up for is dust and it is far from clear what can be or should be done is an unhappy one for people who just want peace and certainty and to know that they have some say in their living spaces.

So at the far end of the age scale we have around the country large numbers of people who feel that they have been betrayed, conned and let down by people who have sold them out to the financiers who in turn have been trying to rip them off of all that they possess. Those living at the margins of incomes are looking at the realities of poverty when not so long ago they could get by with a little to spare.

They will not be looting the local stores for large TV’s, if only because they are difficult to manage with a zimmer frame or trolley. Nor will they be petrol bombing the local police. Nor will they be running around hurling bricks. Nor will the BBC or any other media be interested in their plight, still less the politicians.

But they are just as angry and just as bitter as any rioter.

Sunday 7 August 2011

The Illusions Of Money

You can’t take it with you and you do not have it before you arrive. So money and for that matter wealth is only to do with whatever is the present. At one time it consisted essentially of rare metals or earth substances such as precious stones.

Sometimes other things served; rare spices, tulip bulbs and goods in scarce supply which could be easily exchanged for other things. These preferably would have long life. In my time cigarettes fulfilled this function with sugar and other foods also serving as other forms of exchange.

Basically, money is what people accept as money and wealth is what they can point to and say this is mine and I control it. There is scope for confusion here. At present we regard our living space as wealth when in the past it has often been regarded as consumption.

There are many learned men who have explained this and discussed all the history and the ramifications of these things. The trouble is that we do not learn from them and regard money and wealth as having some kind of reality when in fact it is an illusion only of our own lifetimes, as we are discovering yet again.

How those in the past have dealt with it has varied greatly. Attila the Hun and his followers were essentially a high consumption, acquisitive and low investment global activity with both a predatory and extractive system of management.

They forced others into debt and slavery and their extraction resulted in major public expenditure cuts notably in the Roman Empire. The scale of the damage they did was huge, yet they left very little trace of their empire, it became dust very quickly.

There had been other empires before and there have been other empires since. All of them in turn have had their illusions of money and wealth. Some have left more monuments, heritage and history behind than others and it is those with a written history which dominate our ideas.

We know that in the Atlantic Isles there was once a Henge culture that was extensive and must have involved high degrees of organisation, control and means of exchange and storing wealth. We know precious little about any of the belief systems, the economics, the people or their social structures. We can only guess from what we find in the ground.

However, there is a theory that when Margaret, Queen to King Malcolm Canmore came to Scotland from Hungary she was accompanied by a guard of horsemen. These became the founders; it is alleged, of the Drummond Clan. If so, then the Drummonds may well be descendants of the ancient Huns who rode with Attila.

In 1717, Drummonds Bank was founded which became part of the Royal Bank of Scotland group recently. The RBS financial strategy does bear some conceptual similarities with the activities of Attila and his followers. Now we have a major financial crash in which this bank has certainly played its part.

History casts a long shadow.

Friday 5 August 2011

Going Pear Shaped

It has been a long hot week with a lot to do and then it all happens. Again, it is all going pear shaped.

There have been many claiming that this one was coming, unluckily a lot more notably amongst people in high places cheerfully told us all that every thing was for the best in the best of all possible worlds.

One that is not new but has now grown so far out of control it puts all at risk is the extent and nature of embedded fraud in the international financial system. The post below flagged by Nicholas Shaxson in his Treasure Islands blog and picked up via Tax Justice Network sets out James K. Galbraith’s views.

It is a long lecture but instructive if you have the time to read it. Simply, it is saying that economic policies that we might want are unattainable because the financial fraud is impossible to deal with.

Elsewhere, The Automatic Earth takes the view that Europe has thrown in the towel. For those not familiar with the sport of boxing this is about Europe being so far down the drain that it is not bothering to get out of it and concedes defeat; meaning that the Germans have taken their towels away from the communal pool.

None of all this is new, there have been crises before and major defaults. One of the problems afflicting Tsarist Russia was that it was already a debtor nation before 1914. Having substantial primary economic resources there was a ready market for its bonds.

By 1917 the debt was much greater and imposing a major burden on government. The Bolsheviks on taking power promptly defaulted inflicting huge losses in the major financial centres, notably Paris. It is arguable that the British 1919 Murmansk Expedition had something to do with the City of London.

This issue has not yet been resolved almost 100 years later and still the subject of legal actions and international differences:

So how many centuries will our difficulties take to resolve?

Thursday 4 August 2011

Politicians For Sale, Cheap Offers

Again, two things that do not seem to be closely connected but in a way mirror what is going on. One is the cast list at The Chequers Theatre of Dreams, or rather the guest list at the country residence of the Prime Minister during the period since Cameron’ took office. The other is the group of money men rallying to the cause of New Labour.

As someone trained to look at not only at what is there but what is not it is sometimes more interesting to work out what isn’t and perhaps why. If what is there is worrying then what is absent may be a greater cause for concern.

At Chequers many of those pitching up for the good grub and chat would have known what to expect. They were much the same people as visited during the high and mighty years of the Blair’s and later during Brown’s more sober time. Others new to the place are from the same groups and having the same interests.

Apparently, there is not much evidence of Charity, nor of the Services fighting all those wars, nor of the many excellent people in many fields who might have much to offer in any informal and personal conversations with each other or leading members of the Cabinet. Bluntly, there is not much vision or intellect but a lot of money, property and celebrity.

Meanwhile over at Stony Broke Manor, the Labour Party, it is concerned that the shortfall in its budget could lead to effective insolvency. As in it’s time of government there is a mismatch of the figures and a lack of clarity about where the money has been going. What is clear that more is going out than coming in and borrowing can only go so far.

It seems that a number of financiers have appeared at the door to offer money to help it through its period of immediate difficulty. There appears to be a limit as to how much the Trade Unions can offer without getting into worse trouble themselves. Also, the demands of the Unions are such that it is advisable not to become too reliant on them which is where high finance has it uses.

We have government computing services and IT apparently in the hands of a cartel that have leached untold billions to not much purpose. Also, the Ministry of Defence is largely a supply depot for armaments companies and related contractors, also taking billions.

Also, many other departments far too close to suppliers and firms engaged in out sourcing contracts. Also, many foreign companies actively buying up our public utilities with their quasi monopoly powers. Lastly, but not least, all those accounting, consulting and finance companies engaged in various expensive wheezes and things like the Private Finance Initiative.

At Chequers the wine list is said to be very good. Unluckily, Labour do not offer decent beer and sandwiches any longer but are down to Sainsbury’s special offers.

Wednesday 3 August 2011

On A Wing And A Prayer

There were two items in the media, apparently not linked but which have their connections. The first was the spin that there will be an “Army” of 27,000 to deal with the security at the 2012 Olympics. The size of an army can vary.

There are some historians who assert that an Anglo-Saxon Army consisted of a boat load of warriors, around 30 to 50 in number. In my day around 27,000 men would be just a couple of two brigade divisions and not even a Corps, let alone an Army.

If my memory is anywhere near correct the total number of people deployed to deal with the 1948 London Games was well in excess of this figure and had a great many members of the Armed Services doing one thing or another. The figures for the Peking Games are not known but there were suggestions of half a million.

Given other Games in other places, the number is small considering all the locations and sites that need to be covered. That London is, and to quote this blog, “heir to all the world’s sorrows” the numbers are well short of what is really needed. It may be, of course, that in order to reassure assure people the figure given is a small one.

At the same time military experts are saying that the next round of proposed cuts in the Armed Services will leave the UK unable to meet its existing obligations and any future ones abroad in the foreseeable future. Once “Defence of the Realm” meant the security of our own shores and the ability to see off attackers.

The proposed levels and organisation of the armed services will not be able to do this effectively if there is any real increase in international stresses. With the risk of mass migrations pending and the inherent risk of some of these turning violent somewhere at some time there is going to be real trouble.

If it is the UK we will be wholly unable to deal with it. Nor will we be able to aid or support crucial allies and interests on whom our economy might depend or where many UK citizens are involved. It is little wonder that some within the Police forces are becoming more strident about having armed police.

It has happened before and it can happen again. Not long ago there was a London Mob and it needed a Brigade of Guards and a Household Cavalry to deal with it.

Now it is said we are to disband the Coldstream Guards, our oldest regiment.

Monday 1 August 2011

And Now For The Not So Good News

Here are a few things to cheer you all up in these troubled times, rather than go on about it all myself here are a few links.

With an interesting Atlantic storm brewing off South America which may develop it seems best to start with what can happen in The Gulf if it becomes busy in weather terms:

The oil is needed not only for vehicles but for a vast range of other products. Amongst them are the pesticides so crucial to our crop yields. There seems to be a growing problem.

With money at the front rank of our affairs, one lot who are more often on the mark than off it do not like what they see.

Another one reminds us that President Obama trained as a lawyer and found himself needing to understand economics and finance. Just like Tony Blair did.

Back in Europe it is beginning to become more complicated in the weft and warp of central banks, globalised investment banks and the rest.

In the FT it appears that Terry Smith has caught up with my Fantasy Island Theory of Economics.
Meanwhile in New York some folk are living like some people at the Nene Park in Peterborough. The local football team is known as “The Posh”, a word that does not describe the campers way of life.

If you have the cash you could always take flight but if you haven’t you will have to make up for the taxes that are not going to be paid.

In the past things have sometimes changed suddenly, but not always happily. We seem to going through a dry spell at the moment.

At Covent Garden the St. Petersburg Mariinsky Ballet are doing “Don Quixote” and is sold out for that one. Perhaps it is the only thing that makes sense.