Friday, 19 January 2018

Crown or Coronation?

Out of curiosity I watched that programme about the Coronation at the weekend. It's a fascinating part of our history of course. I have never been the sort of Republican who does not acknowledge royalty's seminal and fundamental role in our history. I just don't see why they should continue to play such a fundamental role in our history.

Now if you read some of the fawning reviews of the programme - overall it was modestly interesting and did reveal a few new snippets of information I hadn't heard previously - then you would think that the Queen's role in this was a rip roaring tour of being royal. The Telegraph's Michael Hogan was falling over himself with obsequy as he praised the Queen's comic timing and wit. Yes, wit. An example? She lifted the crown she hadn't seen for 60 odd years and was asked if it was still as heavy. 'Yes it is,' said this blue blooded comic legend 'weighs a ton.' Oh Maam. Oh my aching sides. Oh don't! Don't!

One can only assume that Mr Hogan is after some kind of bauble in the next honours list. Because that was as good as it got. Some of what she said was certainly modestly interesting. Some of it made her seem quite human, which is reassuring. But, well you can see why the royals have to command a royal variety performance every year. That's crap too, but they wouldn't take many comedy tips from her maj.

The programme itself was one of those that really ought to have been a great deal better. It had the Queen for God's sake. The Queen! It had the actual Crown Jewels with the only person alive who knows what it's like to wear them. It might as well have asked Claire Foy. Her greatest insights were that the crown is heavy, you have to stay upright to keep it on and that coach is bloody uncomfortable. Indeed that was the most animated she became, when asked to talk about bloody horses.

I've long taken with a pinch of salt all of those stories we hear from 'sources close to the royals' and politicians who get to speak to the Queen about her being jolly funny and insightful. Because there was a chance to prove it, on her specialist subject and she offered us platitudes and jokes that weren't jokes. I didn't watch the programme with subtitles but did they put (joke) after one of them. (Much hilarity ensued. Cameraman had to be given a glass of water. Sound recordist was rushed to St Thomas's Hospital.)

If you think about it the Queen ought to be someone that historians should want to interview. They should be falling over themselves to interview her. She has seen it all. She has lived through it all. She has met most of the more extraordinary world statesmen and women of the last 70 years. Many of our greatest writers, entertainers, thinkers, artists have shaken her hand. The problem is that I get the impression that she would be able to tell us nothing.

Because there is no nice way of saying this: the Queen is a bit thick. She is not well educated, she has no interests other than horses. She is a traditional gel brought up in a traditional way who was raised to be an aristocrat and a minor royal only to have monarch thrust upon her. That is not her fault. She has been remarkable in her duty, her selflessness, her dedication, her staid stability. It has mostly served her well, except during the whole death of Diana when they suddenly became her achilles heel. She has however always been good at taking advice. As the latest series of The Crown reveals, she adapted early on in her reign and has continued to do so. She has certainly acquired some semblance of wisdom down the years, wisdom born of experience. But it manifests in an ability to bend with events without ever snapping. Not that she has been given to bending too often. Her treatment of her sister was unconscionable and quite unnecessary as subsequent events proved. But over the years she has often had to bend the institution to modern tastes and mores. For the most part, thanks to good advice, she has got it right. That is the greatest talent of her family. An unstinting survival instinct.

And this is why the monarchy may well not long outlast her. She was the right monarch for these times. She was boring, dutiful and a little stupid and that suited the role she was given. Had events been different and the country stuck with her Uncle David, for which public opinion was very much in favour, events might have turned out very differently and even disastrously. The family Windsor is fortunate in many ways that they are all remarkably stupid. It's almost as if there is a stupid gene. It is certainly present in her son and heir, albeit with added vanity. His greatest problem is that he doesn't seem to realise that he is stupid. He thinks himself a great intellectual. That may cause problems down the line.

It's sad though that this woman who has lived through these 70 years has so little to say about them. Could not somebody be sneaked in to paint a kind of historical portrait, one with words rather than oil. Even if nobody was ever able to acknowledge the true source of what they learned it would be well worth it. She must surely have more to share with the nation than 'it's heavy.'

Crash Course Physics: Collisions

How the First Nude Movies Were Made

10 Myths About Government Debt

Shocking News: Our President Is Perfectly Healthy

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Marxist Labour's Double Speak

Why aren't the Tories making hay out of the various asinine statements of Marxist Labour these last few days? I suppose it is just about arguable that you should never interrupt an opponent while they are making a mistake. But the Tories should be pointing out those mistakes loudly and repeatedly until the country gets the message. These people are utterly mad. And they are utter hypocrites.

Last week they combined with the Twitter mob to get Toby Young out of his job working on a quango nobody has ever heard of and that we don't really need. But they lied and they exaggerated and they confected outrage until the Government gave into the mob and obliged him to quit. Since then they have even rounded on him again and created a completely fictitious story that looks like a parody. Indeed my first reaction to it was precisely that. It had to be a joke. But no. They actually alleged that Toby Young is a secret eugenicist. Did they really believe it? Or didn't they care? 

But the uncomfortable truth for Marxist Labour is that they are operating with a level of hypocrisy that is at last becoming obvious to the public and even to some of their more credulous supporters. It requires a level of doublespeak that makes them look the opposite of their claims of representing a new kind of honest politics of integrity. 

On the periphery of this is the Labour MP Jared O Mara who should never have been an MP or even a candidate, but then this was the product of a party scrambling for candidates that had the approved views. O Mara has gone missing for months since he was revealed to be a sexist misogynist loudmouth. That is the line from the party for now, but it is likely that they will sneak him back in once the coast is clear. 

But the real issue is their silence on certain issues whilst posturing on others. There is John McDonnell's vile past rhetoric for a start, in which he has 'joked' about murder or about 'lynching the bastard' - the bastard in question being an elected MP and minister. Chauncey was asked about it at the weekend and avoided the subject, as usual employing that sad soft voice and shake of the head as he pretends that he is not a vicious class warrior and hate merchant because he talks quietly. The ever smug and arrogant Emily Thornberry did the same, finding a form of words that made it sound like she was condemning the misogyny and violence McDonnell espoused without ever actually doing so.  If all else fails Thornberry has simply declared that she ain't going to talk about it. 

What the Shadow Chancellor said about Esther McVey was disgusting, unforgivable and should have no place in a democratic party. That he not only maintains that place but has real power within it tells you everything you need to know about Marxist Labour and the people now in charge who at the weekend seized even more power. There will now be calls for regular selection meetings for Labour MPs to ensure complete control over its MPs and full obedience. It is sinister and so typical. But it is made all the more so when you consider how often they have ignored the failings of their members when they are supporters of Chauncey but quickly suspend those who are less obedient. Anti-semitism and violent misogyny are just fine in the Marxist Labour Party it seems if you are a Chaunceyite. 

And then there is the row over Donald Trump. Oh how Marxist Labour have enjoyed themselves in an orgy of gratifying anti-Americanism as they luxuriate in a lather of anti-racism. And of course what Trump has said and keeps saying is wrong and should be condemned. But he remains the President of the most powerful nation on Earth and our greatest ally. Chauncey denies that this is the case. Which just means that under him we would quickly spurn the friendship of the US and just as quickly set aside other alliances that have kept the peace like NATO. Chauncey and co would not wish to be friends with America under any circumstances, just because it is America. This is Chauncey engaged in a teenage fantasy born of the Vietnam war. It has nothing to do with the racism of Trump. 

But these are the gesture politics of the infantile. Chauncey and McDonnell and their fellow travellers have spent their careers hating America regardless of who is in charge and regardless of their utterances. Like it or not Britain is a free and prosperous country thanks to our alliance with America. Telling the leader of that country that he should stay away from the UK because he said something in a private meeting that has been reported in the media is not a sensible diplomatic stance. But it is particularly not a sensible stance when those doing the condemning are happy to share a stage with terrorists and anti-Semites, with sexists and misogynists and with dictators. Chauncey said nothing about the events in Iran over Christmas and has still said nothing. He remains remarkably quiet about the continuing miseries of Venezuela, which is rapidly turning into the latest socialist disaster and dictatorship. Yet the moment Trump makes one of his stupid or ignorant interventions Chauncey can be relied upon to offer a condemnatory statement. 

This is not the behaviour of a government in waiting. It is the behaviour of a party that thinks it is still in its fringe comfort zone. Government requires accommodation and compromise. Most of all it requires adult behaviour. Marxist Labour has shown itself incapable of any of these. The Tories should be pointing this out regularly. Marxist Labour would be a disaster economically. They would also turn us into diplomatic pariahs. 

No Thanks, Mr Macron

So let me get this straight: the French President came here this week and has promised to lend us the Bayeux Tapestry. But why? It seems this is some kind of embroidered diplomacy. Essentially the French, who are using Brexit as a way of trying to steal business from the City of London with all of its lovely tax revenues, are trying to charm us. As ever with the French however they are only being charming with one of their two faces. With the other they are demanding that a) we pay them some more money to keep the present arrangements in Calais as they are - an arrangement that works well for both sides by the way b) that we also take some of the economic migrants currently living there and bring them over here.

The response should be a big fat non.

Firstly why would we want the Bayeux Tapestry? Wouldn't it be best left where it is. It is only just across the channel. We won't be any further away after Brexit you know. So thanks, but no thanks.

Secondly, yes we will be happy to stump up some more cash for keeping the status quo in Calais.

But thirdly, no we won't be taking any more of the asylum seekers on your side of the Channel thank you very much. They are your responsibility. Correct me if I'm wrong, Monsieur Le President, but when these asylum seekers sneak their way across the border with Italy they are dragged straight back again. Well why should you be any different? And anyway, to allow a few hundred to come here would only encourage more of them to come and chance their luck wouldn't it. And we are supposed to be stopping them and keeping them away from Calais.

The way to prevent the same problem arising again in Calais is to get tough with these economic migrants masquerading as asylum seekers. It is to tell them that they cannot shop around for asylum. They must take it in the first safe country they arrive in. Britain accepts refugees, proper refugees, who don't try to jump the queue and who obey the rules. All migrants in Calais and thus there illegally should be arrested, finger printed and the data shared with the British authorities. They should be told that they are free to claim asylum in France but that if their claims are found to be bogus, as most of them will be, they will be deported. They will never be allowed to enter Britain and if they are found there they will be deemed to have entered illegally and will be deported.

France could solve this problem it somehow tries to blame us for very easily. Instead it tries to shift the blame. We shouldn't let them. Of if we are to give Macron some good headlines we need better than a bloody tapestry. A decent Brexit deal helped through by the French with their German colleagues well then we might be willing to be more accommodating. Oh and there is zero chance of France grabbing business from London because France is too bureaucratic, its taxes are too high and it remains a fundamentalist member of the sclerotic EU. If Theresa May didn't tell Monsieur Macron any of that then she should have. I'll have it embroidered on a piece of cloth for her if she wishes.

Crash Course Physics: Work, Energy, and Power

How Technicolor Changed Movies

A Guide to Millennials

10 Ways You Think About the Titanic Are All Wrong

Trump and the Girther Campaign

So Trump had a medical last week and the doctor, Ronny Jackson, issued his report on Tuesday in which he told us that the President is in excellent health and fit to serve. There are no cognitive issues, we are told. Excellent. This is good to know.

Except the doctor has been caught in a lie. He told us that Trump weighs 239 pounds. And he is supposedly 6'2". This is a lie. As Twitter has been pointing out, he is not that tall and clearly is much much heavier. So what is the truth? Clearly the President is a lot shorter than he claims to be and a lot fatter. But what credence should we give to the doctor's assertion that he is cognitively sound if he is willing to lie so obviously about the president's height and weight? He even claimed that Trump has a remarkable ability to wake up in the morning and reset. How does he know that? How can a doctor know that? Is he there every day when Trump wakes up?

So this medical report has not laid to rest any of the claims being made about Trump. Even if he is cognitively sound, something that is still questionable given the evidence, he may well just be really really stupid. But watch the videos of him from 20 years ago and there has been a clear decline, if only in his vocabulary. He bullshits with fewer words. He also apparently doesn't realise that when he lies so obviously and egregiously, such as about his weight and height or about the whole 'shithole' farrago that makes people doubt his word about everything. He also clearly has an inability to concentrate. That is something that should disqualify him from the presidency. As for the doctor? Well is he really a doctor? Or should he remain one given that he has attempted to perpetrate a fraud?

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Chauncey Gets A D For Dunce

For those of you who wonder why I call the Leader of the Opposition Chauncey, perhaps you might have a look at his latest jaw droopingly inept appearance on the weekend political shows. I didn't watch them this weekend owing to the fact that I spent most of it unconscious (it's a long story and nothing like as much fun as you are probably imagining) and so this has only just come to my attention.

Just to catch you up fully though, Chauncey is a reference to the character Chance the gardener from the celebrated Peter Sellers film Being There adapted from the book of the same name. The premise of this satire is that a man with low level intelligence, or with learning difficulties as we are supposed, euphemistically, to refer to them these days, could become President of the United States. It's not really funny any more for obvious reasons. Back then though it seemed believable if far fetched.

But anyway I have long been of the habit of calling Corbyn Chauncey because he is clearly a bear of very little brain. This is a man who failed his A Levels having had a very privileged upbringing. He was, it goes without saying, brought up in the kind of middle class, pseudo intellectual household that routinely gravitates towards a left of centre brand of politics. It was just that he became a left wing extremist, a man doomed to operate on the fringes of politics until the Labour Party took leave of its senses in 2015. His attitudes and stance on politics are the politics of those who have never really worked or operated in the real world, who know working class people excusively through depictions in Ken Loach films and whose attitude towards them is patronisingly patriarchal, a little like the way the more liberal members of the landed aristocracy behaved towards their tenants and the local poor in the 18th and 19th centuries.

In short then Chauncey is a sophomoric halfwit. He is a man entirely out of his depth and utterly incapable or original though or of coping with the endless stream of news and political questions flung at him on a daily basis. He tries to cling to his old nostrums and decades old beliefs, but gets cast about like flotsam on the broiling tide of political turmoil.

And Brexit is proving to be a nightmare for him. He cannot get his head around it. I have pointed out many times over the last few months that he simply cannot get his head around the difference between the customs union and the Single Market. He is utterly confused about what they mean and about what his own party's policy is. The same is true of most of his fellow front benchers. Some might imagine they are just being politically canny. They aren't. They are just clueless.

On Robert Peston's programme at the weekend Chauncey demonstrated this beyond any scope for doubt. He doesn't know what the customs union is and what it means. Indeed he's even confused about some basics on trade, he said the following in response to a question about whether or not we will want to be in a customs union: 'There will have to be a customs union obviously because if you're in a trading relationship then clearly you can't at the same time be putting tariffs on goods.'

Chauncey then went on to contradict himself with his next answer relating to trading with the rest of the world because he indicated that he would like to negotiate such trade with a view to issues such as human rights and the environment. Now in part this is because Chauncey cannot resist the opportunity to grandstand, posture and virtue signal. But in part it is also because, even after several months of this talking about all of this, he still does not understand any of it.

Yes, congratulations are in order, because what he said is several orders of magnitude wrong. This country trades with the whole world and puts tariffs on all goods that do not come from within the EU. We have a common external tariff with the rest of the world as part of a customs union meaning that we rely on the EU to negotiate our trade deals for us. But we are also members of a Single Market with the EU. This is different. It means that we have to accept all rules of the EU for trading within that Single Market, including freedom of movement, in return for trading more easily with it. What we want from these negotiations is complex and is the big question. But Chauncey thought he would be doing our negotiating for us by now. Presumably the EU would have had to wait while they explained it to him.

This, needless to say, is hugely important for us all. Chauncey witters away about human rights and environmental protection because that is the kind of politician he is: an empty headed purveyor of slogans and virtue signalling. He has no answers to what this would mean for employment, for employers, for business, for trade, for our international relations. He has no clue because he still cannot get his head around the basic meaning of these two not terribly difficult concepts.

And it's not just Chauncey. The whole Labour front bench is confused and issuing confusing pronouncements about this. Is this because they are trying to have it both ways or are they simply incapable of getting their heads around it? The country should be told. You may not agree with the government's stance or approach, but at least they have been clear about the direction of travel. Labour's has wobbled all over the place, for and against the Single Market often in the same day. Now they are equally confused about the customs union. If Labour were in charge we would not only end up staying in the EU and paying for it, they would probably have us driving on the right to show goodwill.

Crash Course Physics: Newtonian Gravity

10 More Facts You Probably Believe

Did Trump Say Shithole or Shithouse?

Banfield Slams Ansari Accuser in Open Letter

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Blue Passport Mockery

Public Private Dogma

The failure of Carillion seems to be a case of hubris and wishful thinking as can so often be the case with all kinds of enterprises, both public and private. But those arguing that this means there should be an end to all outsourcing are drawing a strange and wholly unrealistic interpretation of what has happened. Outsourcing happens constantly across the public sector and the private sector. Outsourcing simply means getting an outside specialist to undertake work it is best qualified and equipped to do. Get in a plumber for your shop and you are outsourcing. Get in a delivery company for that same shop and you are outsourcing. If a doctors surgery needs these same services or perhaps help with its IT then they get in an outsourcer. The difference with Carillion is that it became too big and unwieldy. It was also bidding for contracts on margins that were too tight and thus it was unable to make sufficient profits to cover its costs when those contracts overran for whatever reason. This was simple bad management. It was bad management on the part of Carillion and on the public sector institutions that gave them the contracts. Sometimes the cheapest is not necessarily the best. And it is never a good idea for one company to be responsible for too many contracts. Did the civil service just give the work to Carillion because it was the easiest option?

But it's hard to see how managing these in the public sector would be better. The public sector has proven notoriously bad at managing major contracts. Outsourcing has usually delivered cost savings meaning that the taxpayer gets more for the same money. It is nonsense to criticise companies for making a profit off the taxpayer if they manage to provide a service cheaper thus saving money. If they are able to do so whilst still making a profit then that is proof of their specialist abilities and the economies of scale. The problem with Carillion seems to have been that they got their sums wrong. There should certainly be questions asked of the management of this particular company, but it has little application to the rest of a huge sector. The public sector could not operate without outsourcing. It is simple dogma to claim otherwise. And yes that means companies making a profit from public sources. So what? Does anyone care who empties their bins or provides school meals provided the service is a good one? My brother provides meat to a range of schools across his local area. Thus he is an outsourcer. Or would Labour like to run butchers' shops too?

No the real reason that Labour and the left don't like outsourcing is that it undermines the power of the unions and of collective bargaining. Thanks to outsourcing and trade union laws stopping secondary picketing the unions were prevented having mass actions meaning pay negotiations became more atomised and localised. The unions want collective bargaining, but when industries are broken up then they cannot achieve this. This is the real reason they don't like privately run railways. Collective bargaining across the whole country is an economic nonsense and is spectacularly inefficient. It gives remarkably poor value for money for the taxpayer. This doesn't mean that wage rises are impossible, but they have to be paid for by productivity improvements, which is of course anathema to the unions. So what Labour are arguing for would be regressive and would be bad for the economy. Outsourcing has been better for the economy, cut costs and made work more flexible. Marxist Labour wants to reverse all of that. That would put up costs for everyone and put millions out of work.

So when Chauncey started with his usual lament about these rip off PFI contracts it's hard to see what he was talking about except to conclude it is cant and hypocrisy as usual. This was a company employing thousands of people running dozens of contracts right across the public sector and which was somehow managing to lose money. Most of the costs of that will be picked up by banks and shareholders. So where was the rip off? If it turns out that some of these contracts were awarded when they shouldn't then there will of course be questions to ask. Time will tell. There is an obvious point to this though: if these were contracts that should not have been awarded because the sums were wrong then this was a failure of the public sector, the same public sector that the left are claiming should manage everything. Something to that narrative doesn't seem quite right does it.

Labour saw a story about a private outsourcing company and rushed to comment with their usual dogmatic response. Yet they didn't think it through. Carillion is a private sector company that has failed. In time other companies will buy up its constituent parts and the same services will be performed. The public sector couldn't do that. And it shouldn't either.  

Crash Course Physics: Uniform Circular Motion

Trump v Manson

Condoleeza Rice on North Korea

Incredible Homes of the Top 10 Richest People

Morning Joe Michael Wolff

10 Films That Should Have Ended Ten Minutes Earlier

RIP: Dolores O Riordan

Linger by The Cranberries on VEVO.

So sorry to hear of the death of Denise O Riordan, the lead singer of The Cranberries, one of those bands that so defined the 1990s with her piercing lyrics and equally piercing voice, especially on the award winning Zombie.

Zombie (Alt. Version) by The Cranberries on VEVO.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Our Super Successful NHS

Looked at objectively you know, notwithstanding the current pressures - routinely and inaccurately described as a crisis across all sections of our ever dramatic media - the NHS has really been an outstanding success. I'm serious. If you judge it by what it was meant to achieve when being set up two generations before my generation was born, it has done everything that was promised. It has delivered a healthcare system that gives you the best health treatments regardless of your ability to pay. Patient outcomes may not be up to the best the world might expect, but potentially you stand to receive the best and most cutting edge treatments in the world even if you sometimes have to wait a few weeks.

And what was the other promise of those early naive days? That the NHS would be so successful that it would eventually start to pay for itself by making us all so healthy that we would eventually start using it less and less often. Now I wonder where we have heard that before? Oh yes, it's the lie Marxist Labour tells the country to this day about how successful its nationalisation programme would be.

To be fair my slightly whimsical representation of this foundational aim has also been achieved really. We are all more healthy than we were back in the 1930s and the 1940s when the dream of the NHS was first offered up to us. The outcome however has been that we are consequently all living much longer. Allied to the welfare state and we have a system that has achieved everything that those dreamers back then could have hoped for. Therein lies the problem. We are proving the age old truism about socialism. It has eventually run out of other people's money to pay for it all. It isn't that the NHS is failing. It is that we have run out of ways to stop lying to ourselves about how to pay for it without completely screwing the economy.

Now I don't propose that this is the way that the Conservative Party tells the country this uncomfortable truth. But it is the truth.

It all boils down to the lie we all tell ourselves and is the reason why Theresa May lost the election, or at least failed to win it. She opted to treat the British people as sensible and responsible adults who have children and grandchildren or hope to have them and who can handle the truth. The Labour Party lied to them from beginning to end and promised them all kinds of goodies paid for with other people's money. Everything would be okay, said Chauncey, if the country voted for him and allowed him to go on a spending spree and a vicious, vindictive tax hunt to compulsorily confiscate the money of the so called rich so that he could fritter it away on the various vested interests that are just desperate to be allowed to stick their thieving hands in your wallets. We would all wake up to a golden tomorrow if only Labour got to nationalise everything, take the unions off the leash, tax the rich, double council tax, double corporation tax, abolish tuition fees, pay everyone more, borrow more and abandon anything remotely disciplined with relation to money. Oh, except in relation to how people get to spend their own money. Control of that would be draconian, even to the point of preventing anyone taking it out of the country and out of the clutches of Marxist Labour. I paraphrase for what Labour said of course. They didn't say any of that. That's what they meant though.

Now Labour are telling everyone that the NHS is in crisis. It would be so much better if they were in charge they say. How though? They can't  nationalise it, their cure-all for everything that is wrong with the world. They could pour more money into it, their other cure-all. But they have tried that before. Which Prime Minister was it who was berated outside the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham that time? Yes, it was Tony Blair taken to task by Sharon Storer and later backed by doctors in the city. What did they say? Yes, not enough cash. It is never the doctors fault. It is always the lack of cash. Or the system. Mostly the cash though. It has been since the dawn of time, or at least since the dawn of the NHS, something that the doctors were opposed to due to lack of cash. These are the same doctors who were rewarded  by Labour with a pay rise for doing less work. Labour lifted the amount we spent on the NHS just as the Tories had done before and since them. It didn't work. It hasn't worked. It will never work. The NHS is a voracious beast that eats cash. It has been short of the stuff since its beginnings when Labour, yes Labour, had to invent prescription and other charges when initially you got more or less everything for free, always a ridiculous utopian dream. More cash won't work because the NHS is a bad system in which there will never be enough cash. Ever. And that's before Labour get the chance to screw the economy and run out of other people's cash to pay for it all.

But mostly the NHS will never have enough money because it is systemically inefficient. It is set up to work, not for the best interests of the patient but for the people who run it. As ever we should point out that there are thousands of dedicated, diligent, hard working staff in the NHS. But they are battling against a system that is incapable of delivering best outcomes because it is set up to be abused by its patients and by some of its staff.

The great truism of politics is you never get thanked for giving people things. But you do get blamed for taking them away. And that is true of our less than glorious NHS. It is glorious by the standards of the 1940s, but now we have ever higher expectations, but always with the expectation that someone else should pay for them.

Take the welfare state, another invention of Labour that went too far and that nobody knows how to curtail let alone stop. What started out as a safety net designed to prevent 'want' has turned into a system that rewards fecklessness and enables people to have child after child that working people could not afford, get cars paid for them on dubious grounds, even have the right to a state subsidised dog and to complain piteously when politicians try to prevent them having flats or houses with spare bedrooms that they don't need in a country that has a chronic housing shortage. What kind of peculiar socialism is that? The selfish kind?

But this is the welfare state that has enabled us all to wash our hands of our elderly relatives, or indeed to be paid to look after them as their carers. It is generally recognised that one of the reasons, indeed the main reason other than a flu epidemic, for the endless problems of the NHS is social care. But social care is a product of us all abandoning our responsibility and expecting the state to provide.

And we lie to ourselves about all of this. We lie to ourselves about how we have paid in all of our lives and so we have a right to take out at the end of those lives. But have you ever added up what you have paid in and what you have taken out? Try it. Be honest. It's eye popping. Because vast swathes of this country, whole regions of it, not just sections of society, take out more than they pay in. We may all pay our taxes, more and more of us do thanks to more of us being in work, but we often take out more than we pay in. If you have kids, if you use local council services, if you use the roads, if you avail yourself of the NHS once a year perhaps. Then you are probably taking out more than you are paying in. Only if you are quite well paid will this be otherwise. But once you reach a certain age and start receiving your state pension, if you live to the average age you will take out more than you paid in. If you then start using the NHS more and more often then you will become huge drain on the public purse thus wiping out what you have paid in and then some. The vast majority of us will end up having been in the red column by the time we are in an old people's home. Yet we will complain angrily if anyone tries to take that home away from us to pay for that elderly care.

And that's what I mean about the NHS and our welfare system having been too successful. We are all living too long, we have all become too healthy and we have all become too entitled. It is the fault of politicians offering us new and better bribes at each succeeding election and of us not wanting to listen when anyone wonders how this is to be paid for in the long term. It's not just those homes we refuse to sell to pay for old age care. We won't even pay for insurance towards it.

What is the answer? Well in a very modest way Theresa May proposed it at the last election and what was her reward? The country, or at least half of it, voted for the Marxists instead. The Marxists said they would be able to pay for all of the things we already can't afford but would also nationalise everything with all of the extra cash they have going spare. Oh and they will give students free tuition and wipe out their debts too. All paid for by.....oh don't worry your pretty little heads about that. It would all be free. Like in Venezuela, a land with more oil than any country on Earth but where they have a genuine healthcare crisis. In Venezuela the flu is the least of their worries. There it's malnutrition and getting enough basic drugs into the country to stop people dying of minor infections. Those are socialists who ran out of other people's money. They always do you know.

This blog has been arguing for years that we need a Royal Commission to look into the NHS to try and cut through the cant, hypocrisy and mendacity. Indeed I have been saying this for so long that it predates this 10 year old blog. It was such a long time ago that I wrote a letter proposing it, on paper, to Ken Clarke when he was standing for the Tory leadership. Yes, that long ago. It is nice to see that it is an idea with which the world is finally catching up. Ken Clarke was someone else who tried, in a modest way, to reform the NHS. It was he who pointed out that ambulances are often just glorified taxis and did not, strictly speaking, need to be staffed always by paramedics. Of course they weren't called paramedics back then. But how they screamed bloody murder about that very sensible reform. Now it is not even remotely controversial. The same would be true of the reforms the NHS desperately needs to make it into a service that is fit for the 21st century and would keep us fit and healthy for it. It would make doctors responsive to patients.

 The NHS has been too successful in purely 1930s terms and is a failure in 21st century terms because the world has caught up and surpassed us as usual. No other major country has been silly enough to follow our lead and try to create a nationalised health system paid for by taxes alone. We have to find a better and more responsive system and a responsible one too. We cannot expect to get it all for nothing but to have the best care and with no waiting times. We cannot expect to turn up to A & E when we don't need to and not be charged. We cannot expect to be given an appointment at a hospital or doctors and then not turn up without being charged for the waste. We cannot expect to be offered a flu jab and not take it up only to require hospitalisation some months later costing thousands. We cannot expect to be treated without having to fill in forms and to have to prove that we are entitled to treatment. We cannot expect not to have to make a contribution or to make top up payments where necessary. And private healthcare is something that should be encouraged and indeed incentivised. The NHS has been a success but it has also been a failure. The only cure for it is to be honest about what it can achieve, what it should achieve and how much more we should all be prepared to pay for it.

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Sunday, 14 January 2018

The Bible: A Very Grim Fairytale: Deuteronomy: Chapter 5: Revisiting The Ten Commandments

Moses was taking the Israelites through a kind of crash course of revision of their journey to the Promised Land. It was an action packed story of fun: lots of death, destruction, plagues, genocide and casual racism. And now the really fun part. They were going to go back over the Ten Commandments again. I bet they wished they'd stayed in Egypt as slaves.

So, cast your mind back to Exodus. Back then, having rescued the people from Egypt, Moses had gathered them beneath a mountain and given them a set of instructions about how to lead their lives. Of course this was just the basic set of instructions. Leviticus and Numbers were full of commandments too, it's just those commandments were less famous. Indeed religious people tend to ignore all of the other instructions these days about all of the feasts and need for casting out unclean people and the fact that God didn't understand basic hygiene rules and hadn't heard of antibiotics.

And they also tend to ignore the fact that the first four of the Commandments are about God. God has an ego the size of Donald Trump's and quite possibly the same narcissism problem too.

Anyway, Moses began recounting the commandments again for the people, just in case they had forgotten them. The Bible is full of endless repetition. Except this wasn't quite a repeat. There had been a bit of editing going on with the commandments too. They inserted a bit about slavery. They weren't saying that slavery was bad you understand, just that you shouldn't covet another man's property. So that's okay then.

On the mountain the people had allegedly heard God speak out of the fire. This is odd because earlier in the chapter Moses said that they had spoken to God face to face. Now he says that the people were too afraid of God to speak face to face with him. They'd let Moses do that for them. There's also no mention here of the famous golden calf episode, which is a disappointment. Now there was a god I could get on board with. Less capricious, less angry, less vain and much nicer to look at. Oh, and if you stopped worshipping him you could just melt him down and turn him into jewellery.

But Moses concluded that the Israelites, if they were to take the land God was giving to them, had to follow the commandments. What, even the one about killing? Then how are they going to steal the land from the people living there?

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