Archive | January, 2012

What William Beveridge might have really wanted for the modern welfare state

15 Jan

What William Beveridge might have really wanted for the modern welfare state.

Fond this interesting …I too am appalled at the systematic and concerted attack on social solidarity and decency which has been carried out by successive governments on behalf of those who can manipulate the system to hide their wealth and gains against the rest of the population.

After all part of the reason we have such high levels of long-term unemployment in the UK  can be laid at Thatcher’s policy on monetary controls and the subsequent flight of investment abroad at the cost of our manufacturing base. After all why invest at home in the UK and your fellow citizens when you can asset strip the company, move the investment funds abroad and use child-labour, tax havens, and lax regulation to destroy the environment (see the growth of Polish coal imports) and avoid costly issues such as workers health, holiday pay, education etc. The Tories and their CBI mates like to wrap themselves in the flag (mind you Tory-lite aka New Labour are just as bad) but they have caused as much damage and devastation to the peoples of this island as almost any external force you care to name.

The Tories and New Labour for ideological reasons decided against a manufacturing economy and gambled that a services based economy with much reduced social provision and cohesion would be more effective. Unfortunately as the German model so eloquently demonstrates they were wrong. The German economy has taken on re-unification and the Euro and still outperforms that of the UK … the bond markets agree since they are effectively paying the Germans to lend them money. Thus in order to ensure the dismantling of the rights and livelihoods of the majority of the population successive governments have continued with their neo-liberal market orthodoxy despite mounting evidence that it is flawed and counter-productive. After all UK borrowing and deficits haven’t actually fallen and job creation is as elusive as ever. More austerity anyone?

The elites only gave us the NHS because of the threat of social unrest and the rise of communism after the second world war and have resented it ever since …they have bided their time and now will seek to make it unworkable so more and more people who are lucky enough to afford insurance will choose private healthcare.

If you want to see what awaits the UK NHS come to Eire and see how the mixed system operates here.

Caring Dave and his happy Tories want to return the UK to the type of health provision in the 1930s …hopefully there will be riots to prevent it

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The State of the Union

15 Jan

The State of the Union.

It’s been interesting to watch the Unionist cavalry come charging over the hill.

Most of it is scaremongering designed to solidify the ‘no’ vote.

I have some queries though …

(Bear in mind I’m an expat Scot and who has supported independence if only because it’ll mean we canny blame the English for aw oor woes ken?)

How come Caring Dave and his merry Tories are suddenly so willing to keep those scrounging deadweight ne’er-do-wells North of the border?

Could it be that they need Scotland’s geography to enable them to meet their renewable energy targets? After all if there is any country in Europe which could be largely self-sustaining in electrical generation by renewable sources it is surely Scotland (closely followed by the Republic of Ireland but that’s another story).

Second comes North Sea oil (and new found resources in the North Atlantic) – now how much of the oil Scotland gets to keep is, to use a poker analogy, a who ‘blinks first’ bargaining chip (after all most of it comes ashore North of the border and is refined in Grangemouth) and if possession is 9/10ths of the law…

Next comes defence …Scots don’t want it but they have the ONLY  (and according to some the only possible) base for Trident submarines … so Mr Cameron if you want to keep them AND want to base them at OUR Faslane facility what’s it worth to you (after all the US bases lots of assets abroad)?

Lastly the £ Sterling …that nice Mr Osborne says the Scots can’t keep it … well maybe so BUT since the Scots will have North Sea oil and other energy exports to back the Scottish pound what credit rating will they get? More to the point without energy security and the need to import much more oil (and from how friendly a neighbour will depend on how dirty those perfidious Westminster Tories negotiate) what credit rating does the English rump get?

The Unionists are in a very hypocritical position on the one hand Caring Dave ( and his Home Counties Tories) say a closer financial union using a common currency is the BEST scenario in the modern world when it comes to the UK and then sings a very different tune in the EU.

The real question is WHY? What’s in it for them?

Scientists to Pump Water Into Volcano

15 Jan

No forced labour please, we’re British!

15 Jan

Vox Political

Here’s a story to chill the heart.

Unemployed Geology graduate Cait Reilly, aged 22, was forced to give up volunteering at the Pen Room museum in Birmingham (she was hoping it would lead to a curatorship further down the line) in order to work for nothing at Poundland, sweeping the floors on a government scheme.

She was told she would lose her £53-a-week Jobseeker’s Allowance if she did not submit to the “forced labour” of stacking shelves for the discount retailer, which did not have to pay her.

Let’s put this into context: Poundland’s annual profit in 2010 was £21,500,000. Split among its 390-odd stores, that’s more than £54,000 – or enough to pay three extra employees, per store, on minimum wage, with cash to spare. That’s up from the previous year, when it could have paid two extra employees on minimum wage, with cash to spare.

Ms Reilly said…

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Talk About Downsizing and Redistribution of Wealth

15 Jan

Deja Vu all over again?

15 Jan

Minister of Finance (and his boss MR ‘New Politics’ Taoiseach Enda Kenny) denies that there will be a need for a ‘second bailout’ 

http://www.tax-news.com/news/Irish_Ministers_Slam_Rumours_Of_Second_Irish_Bailout____53422.html

Does this sound familiar at all? Not ring any bells?

http://www.rte.ie/news/2010/1117/economy.html

Given our new government’s record in the area of ‘new politics’ and an end to the bad old days of cronyism do we believe them?

Pro-nuclear schmooze campaign

14 Jan

The UK’s pro-nuclear lobby are at it again http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-16509668 and also on Newstalk’s Sean Moncrieff’s afternoon show here in Ireland. Prof David Phillips (head of the Royal Society for Chemistry, not Physics or Engineering)

I see this as a not-too-subtle attempt to paint those of us who oppose further nuclear power stations (or the renewal of the existing ones) as illogical romantics. In this vein it is a well-trodden media tactic by the ‘scientific community’ who like to believe that ‘the general public’ do not understand science and are therefore incapable of coming to a balanced and rational opinion on complex issues and that the ‘media’ portrays science in a negative light.
Mind you when a ‘top scientist’ allows himself to be quoted making unsubstantiated and unscientific statements in this way then the ‘scientific establishment’ can hardly complain if we ‘laugh them out of court’.

Has he any proof to back his assertions? Have any surveys been done in the general public about where they got their views on the nuclear ‘industry’? Nope. He is merely giving his opinion and since he is a CHEMIST not a PSYCHOLOGIST, SOCIOLOGIST or SOCIAL SCIENTIST he should not be taken as an informed commentator. He is a LAY-PERSON in this instance (albeit a lay-person with scientific training but NOT in the field in which he is commenting.

In his interview on the Moncrieff program continued his assertion that an anti-nuclear stance was illogical whilst acknowledging the problem of waste storage – it is to be encased in non-reactive vessels and buried in ‘geologically stable’ locations (an impossibility in terms of Earth’s crustal mechanics)
Which brings me to one of my ‘illogical’ concerns: given the ability of the ‘fracking’ process to stimulate earthquakes in ‘stable’ areas e.g. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/8999677/Fracking-company-blamed-for-earthquakes-comes-to-the-Home-Counties.html are there any limits on how close to underground nuclear facilities ‘fracking’ licences will be granted?

I am a committed anti-nuclear power campaigner and make no bones about my opposition. Throughout my lifetime I have lived with fears of the ‘nuclear winter’ (spread by reputable analysts e.g. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11287-nuclear-winter-may-kill-more-than-a-nuclear-war.html) and whatever the claims of the pro-nuclear lobby nuclear power equates more often than not to nuclear weapons (for doubters: one word – IRAN).

Thorium power is a red herring since, in processes akin to the ‘resistance’ to alternative to oil, there are such large amounts of capital expenditure, scientific, engineering and lobbying expertise already committed to the existing nuclear industries that, rather like a supertanker, course changes are slow at best.

So why do scientists support the nuclear industry so loudly? Is is perhaps because it is ‘real’ science – it is particle physics, it involves chemists, metallurgists, engineers and systems designers in ‘cutting edge’ research – provides high prestige grants to any institution which is involved and receives ‘ring-fenced’ government funding?

Interestingly the one aspect of the whole ‘industry’ which never receives their attention is the day-to-day running of the nuclear power system. This has relevance because given that most people distrust their politicians and nuclear safety relies on efficient effective application of safety standards (and there is a valid argument to be made for the viewpoint that nuclear power has only made itself as safe as it currently is because of the opposition) by national bodies which, as the recent Japanese experience graphically demonstrates, are easily watered down or ignored. Just how safe is any nuclear power station?

Another facet of my opposition are the ‘mistruths’ and evasions which have characterized nuclear power in the UK during my lifetime (which coincidentally is much the same as the lifetime of the UK’s nuclear power programme).

It was sold as being cheap (which it is only if you IGNORE the decommissioning costs) – endless (which it isn’t – roughly 50 years of working life per station) and clean (which it is until something goes wrong or you want to reuse the site anytime soon). There have been no serious ‘events’ in the UK but that is not to imply that there couldn’t be in the future.
Alternative energy sources do not carry the risk of decades of contamination in the event of a failure.