Sunday, August 31, 2008

Politicians and the truth - A dangerous game

Alistair Darling's recent ingestion of truth serum about the state of the economy leaves us citizens in a very strange position. This is exactly what we want from our political leaders: brutal honesty. This presents us with the problem of straying from our natural instinct of criticising the member of parliament who has just told us the bad news. It's really hard to do.

However, if we don't accept the comment and give the chancellor credit for his honesty, what incentive will that ever give him or any of his colleagues to do it again? I believe that's why he's played this card. The public has no choice but to grant him temporary immunity as he presents with the facts laid bare.

What an opportunity that creates. "People of Britain, we're really up excrement creek. I tell you this because I want to level with you. You deserve to know the truth. And I can confidently tell you this because I have a plan to fix it all and guide us back into the black. It goes like this..." And the country forms a gigantic huddle as the badger resembling creature whispers the plan into our ears in Fred Jones fashion.

Sadly, this plan hasn't been whispered in my ear or I wasn't paying attention at the time. When a leader tells you we are all doomed you should expect him to have some solution in mind when it comes to fixing it. Otherwise, you get a new leader...

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Electricity Provision

I think I must be missing something very elementary in the manufacturing and provision of electrical energy to the masses.

If memory serves the simplistic version is something like: find a material to burn, flush some water piping over the top of it to create steam pressure which turns turbine generators which produce electricity.
Effectively turning kinetic energy into the electrical kind.

Two things come to mind:
One, we have a large prison population to put to work turning turbines (seeing as we can't be bothered to rehabilitate them properly we may as well get them doing something useful).
Two, Alcohol. A never ending mass produced flammable substance that can be used in favour of the ever shrinking fossil fuel. If the creation of biofuel has resulted in driving up the price of food then perhaps this would do us a favour and drive up the price of drinking ourselves stupid.

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What Property Does To Us

The property market is an interesting game. I say interesting, but what I really mean is ugly. To begin to offer an explanation on that viewpoint I'm thinking of basic human needs and how the property market puts us at a disadvantage in providing them.

A human has four basic material needs: food, drink, warmth and shelter:

Food which you pay for on an as and when basis of your choosing.
Water which is charged for monthly or bi-annually from the water company (no competition, but lets not get me started on that)
Warmth, for which I'm mainly thinking about electrical/gas heating which is charged on a monthly, quarterly or pay as you go basis. Though if you want to include clothing that again is an as and when commodity.

Shelter or, as it is better known, property. You either rent monthly or pay a whacking great sum and own outright (foregoing any freehold/leasehold intricacies).

Property is the one basic need we see that can be provided long term. For food you can never tell if the next crop will be plentiful. Water supplies can always suffer from drought. And fuel supplies are ever diminishing and can be cut off at political whim. A house on the other hand will typically stand until the bulldozers come in and will often last a lifetime.

Why do I think this is a problem? Well, it stands to reason that as the one basic need we can easily provide over such a long term basis if there are homeless people than the system is failing.

The way in which we provide housing is based upon a system of collective escalating greed. Any property purchaser wants to add value to their property so they can flip it at a profit. Any construction company will choose to build homes for £60,000 which they can sell at £150,000 rather than homes for £40,000 which will sell for £100,000. It's all a desperately skewed system that works for personal gain and collective loss.

Housing is needlessly expensive because we have an incentive scheme based around making it expensive. This is fine for other capitalist pursuits but when it comes to basic human needs I think profiteering to the clear detriment of society is something that needs correcting.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Interesting Label "Hu"

Typing in "Hu" in my labels list comes up with three entries:

Dark Humour
Human Rights
Saddam Hussein

Nice aye.

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Quote of the Day

"I'd rather be stupid and happy than intelligent and miserable."

Timothy Marcus Lee, the Legend.

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