Commenting on social, political, economic and general topics

Archive for July 2009

Can Britain succeed in Afghanistan?

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Afghanistan is we are told a terrorist (Al Qaeda) base. The Taliban is our enemy. That is why our young men are dying there.


The Afghan people have never been defeated. Not by the mighty USSR. Not by the mighty USA who tried their hand in 2001. Now they bring us into a war that cannot be won. And we follow, like the 51st state we have become.

Leave the Afghans to run their own country. If they become a discernable threat to us, hit ’em hard. Until then, back off and use the money you are wasting to help English people in England.

And leave the USA to spend the billions they charged us for helping out in WWII.


Written by Smiling Carcass

12/07/2009 at 6:01 PM

Posted in 51st, afghanistan, terrorism, USA, war

MG Rover’s Phoenix Four Must be Beyond Reproach

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Why, after four years of investigation is it only now that there are to be questions asked about the demise of MG Rover and the so-called ‘Phoenix Four’?

Couldn’t a QC and a forensic accountant see there was something wrong?

It might be argued they saw the evidence but wanted to investigate thoroughly before any public announcement. But surely it is/was their duty, even their legal responsibility to call in the Serious Fraud Office?

Whatever the outcome (and I suspect it will be the ‘old boy network’ cover up) the impression is that something is wrong.

It is not enough to be above suspicion- as Caesar’s wife, all involved must be beyond reproach.

Written by Smiling Carcass

07/07/2009 at 11:19 AM

BT Offers Holidays for Pay Cuts

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This seems to be a growing trend. Save your jobs by wage cuts. For those earning high wages, this might not seem so drastic. But what happens when this filters down to minimum wage earners? How will we stop unscrupulous employers using creative book keeping to reduce their wage bill? (For this read ‘increase their profits’).

I’m sorry, but this has all the hallmarks of a well thought out con. Use the recession to put money in our pockets.

How many industry chiefs have had to sell their mansions and country houses and move into a five bed roomed detached house? (An unattainable luxury for many of us- whether we are working or not.)

Will directors work for nothing?

Shouldn’t a socially responsible employer be offering term-time employment for parents anyhow?

And what’s innovative about cutting wages, making people (not jobs) redundant and short time working?

How is it progressive to blackmail workers with redundancy or pay cuts?

Leaving those left to work harder to cover the jobs of part time, short time and redundant employees.

And what happened to the Thatcherite privatised capitalist utopia we were all promised?

And don’t blame New Labour. They’ve done nothing to change anything. Even the things they promised to change in their manifesto.

I cannot believe some of the BT employees’ comments. Being grateful for wage cuts, short time and redundancy!

We might no longer wear a cloth cap to doff every time a wealthy industrialist raises his voice. But it is reincarnated in the form of the baseball cap. So grease the rim that it might slip off more ably. You never know when you might need to.

Written by Smiling Carcass

06/07/2009 at 6:57 AM

Posted in BT, redundancy

Booth Hails Scottish Penal Reform (or Crime and (Lack Of) Punishment)

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Cherie Booth QC (Mrs. Tony Blair) has praised Scottish penal reform. MS. Booth chaired the Commission on English Prisons, in which she singled out aspects of Scotland’s prison system for praise.

The gist seems to be that short prison sentences don’t work, so don’t hand out short prison sentences. I agree. What I do not agree with is the conclusion that those who would have been dealt with by shorter sentences should be dealt with by using community punishments; unpaid work, tagging, probation and ASBO’s. The sort of ‘punishments’ criminals laugh at and see as nothing more than a minor intrusion into their lives- when they can be bothered to follow the orders.

I say give ’em longer sentences- and make sure the prisons are so uncomfortable most won’t want to go back.

I’m not suggesting we stop attempts to rehabilitate through education and training. But those that opt to train or learn should not see it as a soft option to working. Those that have no inclination to learn should be made to work and work hard. The work must be constructive- none of your rock breaking and moving rocks from one side of the yard for no other purpose than to make an inmate work hard.

The workshops to which prisoners are assigned or volunteer should be run on an industrial basis where the products can be sold at a profit, thus contributing to the costs of running the prison system. One might even consider paying a proper wage the bulk of which could be sent to families and thus remove the need to pay benefits.

Governments can use statistics to tell us prisons don’t work. They can produce statistics to show community sentencing reduces offending and re-offending. But statistics can be manipulated. (“He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts’ for support rather than illumination.”-Andrew Lang (1844-1912)) Many of the people who make penal reform decisions are statistically less likely to be the victim of ‘low level’ crime. The sort of crime we or our friends and relatives and our communities become victims of every day. Most of the people I know are in agreement. Prisons should be harsher and sentences longer. Most of what I read and see in the media from ordinary folk is in agreement. Prisons should be a place to which offenders do not wish to return. In our presumed democracy (which is actually a plutocracy) why are the minority sitting on these quangos and our supposed representatives able to ignore the wishes of the majority and continue the liberalist policies of community sentencing?

We might see some change when MP’s and the wealthy are regularly the victims of burglary. When it is their sons who are meaninglessly attacked in the street and their daughters are assaulted.

Along with these proposed changes I believe there must also be a change of social and economic policy. While there will always be those who prefer to take rather than earn, we must ensure that ordinary people have well paid secure jobs. The balance should be quick, easy money with the risk of severe penalties and a real chance of being caught against a respectable well paid job with security. Most reasonable thinking people would choose the latter.

With these social and economic changes we should encourage employers to take on released prisoners if they have shown a commitment to change. Jobs to take when they leave prison not straight back on the dole, with the temptation to reoffend.

We need a complete rethink, accepting parts of the old penal system were reasonable and effective and that parts of the modern system are equally reasonable and effective. But neither system has a monopoly on effectiveness and we must accept that no system ever will. As with most things, we can only hope for the best penal system while we retain our humanity when dealing with those for whom we may temporarily wish to suspend that humanity and at the same time punish and rehabilitate effectively.

Written by Smiling Carcass

05/07/2009 at 1:22 PM

Rogue Traders

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A rogue trader at London oil broker PVM Oil Futures has cost them $10m (£6m).

First, these traders make billions off the backs of consumers, keeping prices artificially high by sitting on oil (or any other product) until the price is right.

Second, one might argue that these futures investors are fraudulent themselves, since they never physically hold the product. PVM could not take a prospective buyer to a thousand barrels of oil and say ‘here’s what you’re buying’. It’s all done on paper.

And finally, they lose $10m and there is no suggestion of financial difficulty, never mind bankruptcy. How many real businesses that actually produce something besides profits have $10m to lose, never mind stand the loss!

That’s what I want to be when [if]I grow up!

Written by Smiling Carcass

04/07/2009 at 10:16 AM

One ‘Flu’ Over the Cuckoos Nest

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The Welsh Assembly Government has many devolved powers, one of which is their health service. Yet they want the UK treasury to foot the bill for the swine flu vaccination program.

The Welsh wanted devolution. They got devolution, as far as I am aware essentially on their terms. Yet at the first sign of trouble, they run back, charity tins rattling for help.

I am an Englishman with a Scots and Irish heritage. My Irish ancestors originally settled in Wales early in the 19th century.

Now, I believe in devolution. I really believe the Irish, Scots and Welsh are a different race being of Celtic descent as opposed to Saxon. As such, they should have home rule and be treated as individual nations. But if they want it, and have it they have to live with it, taking the rough with the smooth.

There may be an argument to say England’s imperialist expansionism, however long ago has left them unable to function as a separate country without a transitional period. But let them say that, not claim the flu issue is an exceptional emergency situation.

Because let’s face it, swine flu is flu. Each ‘new’ flu is a genetically modified version of a previous flu. There is no emergency. The problem lies not in the new flu being particularly virulent, but in the lack of new, effective vaccines. The new flu is dangerous during the period a vaccine is being developed.

Written by Smiling Carcass

03/07/2009 at 8:31 AM

Gordon Brown – Dishonest or Misguided?

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Gordon Brown may be honest about his spending plans, but is he right? He says “making big efficiency savings in government and selling state-owned assets” could meet targets for cutting debt and still improve frontline services.

Well, how does selling services (state-owned assets) improve them? The mythical efficiency the Tories told us about throughout the 1980’s? Just look at the private water companies.

If a private company can run these services efficiently, pay shareholder dividends and make a profit, why can’t government run them and use the dividend payments and the profits to reduce costs to the consumer or further increase efficiency?

We need to turn away from the privatisation and the myths associated with it and re-nationalise the utilities, major manufacturing and stop the ingress of privatisation through ‘partnerships’.

And we need to do it now.

Written by Smiling Carcass

02/07/2009 at 7:41 AM

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