Friday, 30 April 2010

Its the Whips, stupid

First line of the Financial Times article this morning:

"Why are the British hung up about having a hung parliament? The question is much on the minds of Europeans watching the UK election. Continental states have long been used to holding elections in which no party wins an overall majority in the national legislature and a coalition must be formed. Yet in Britain, politicians and the media are in a flap that the UK will have a hung parliament, with no party enjoying an overall majority of the House of Commons."

That, to me, is a simple question to answer. It's the Whips.

Take the absurd example of the passage of the Digital Economy BIll, more than 20,000 people wrote their MPs objecting to it. £20,000 was raised to advertise against it. On the night just 40 MPs turned up to debate it, watched by 25,000 twitterers who exchanged more than 50,000 messages. Most were utterly appalled by the sight they saw on BBC In Parliament TV as at the close of a weak and pointless debate with a few brave souls fighting to remove the Internet Clauses inserted by the BPI in the Lords scandal the week before and bury Lord Mandy's proposals, again at the behest of Media Corporations, to shut down people's internet connecitons and ban breaking of DRM...

And in the end what happened? A 3 line Whip (which many MPs regard as unbreakable). And 187 MPs tramped in from the bar, who had taken no part in the debate, and voted the Bill through.

A travesty of democracy.

My own MP (Tony Baldry, Banbury) who I had canvased strongly about and against the Bill, and who had promised to make my views known, did not even turn up in the house.

So if we want a balanced parliament, a so called "hung" parliament, then to make it work the Whip system has to go and MPs have to stop voting as a tribe.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

You Never Had It So Good, sorry BAD

So the BBC has just had a man on who said that if you add

Government debt + PFI debt + Public sector pensions

you get a total of £95000 per household.

Add that to your mortgage and credit card debts (average £55000 per household) and you can see how much you owe.

£150,000 each.



Thanks Labour.



- You ran up the Government debt
- You ran up the PFI (off balance sheet) debt
- You encouraged the boom in house prices = mortgage debt
- You allowed banks to offer very high credit card debts

You have to go. While I weep and start to think how I can pay my debts.

Look again at CO2

The UK carbon foot print is going down, but why and how?

1 Switch from coal to gas for electricity generation

2 Off-shoring of our manufacturing and pollution

3 The recession

Contradictions



What we are not doing is attacking our astoundingly bad housing stock and getting it both insulated and energy generating.

But what we are also still doing is indulging in cheap fly-away holidays, and by the way the number of two car families has DOUBLED since 2007.

Rail and bicycle are increasing, but we make ony 2% of journeys by bike compared to Germany's 10%.

And though we recycle more, we do it by land fill, not incineration.

The bottom line is we get only 2% of our energy from renewables! Just about the lowest in Europe.

Change



1 Home insulation is being tackled

2 Wind and wave power is increasing and being subsidised

3 Low carbon industry and electric transport are being promoted

4 High speed rail is being thought out as an alternative to local flights, but some want a thrid runway at Heathrow...

5 Some people want nuclear (built by the French) some do not. The argument goes on...

Here's the "who's being a bad boy" carbon chart of the world from the Guardian. The UK has a pretty big black blob compared to our size and population.

Factfile-UK-carbon-map-001.jpg


New consumers rights - copyright

We need to move forwards in the debate and law about copyright & infringement.

One BIG point is this



If someone file shares a copyrighted work, then legal action should ONLY be possible against them if it can be shown that an open and legal way of obtaining the work was available at the time, in a format compatible with the consumers equipment (i.e. PC... so this could included DVDs providing they are not protected by DRM or claims about not copying).

Ofcom, get off your butt and do something



The DEbill has set out the need for Ofcom to prepare letters that will go out to people the copyright owners claim to be infringing. These letters have now been published. The content is 93% about how you are being a bad boy, and just 7% about where and how you can get legal downloads.

The facts are that you can't.



And until the media industry changes all that - a complete change in business model - and makes all things they want protected by copyright available online, then the consumer is being persecuted unfairly.

New copyright laws with a better balance between the industry and the consumer have to be made. It is crazy that an industry prosecutes the very customers it is trying to sell to.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Liberty - let's get it back

Labour is obviously beyond the pale. They have taken away our liberty, and crushed our responsibility.

The party has created a country where half a million people come under some kind of official surveillance every year; where emergency terror laws have become part of the normal policing arsenal; and where jury trial is under attack, total surveillance of communications and movement is proposed and secret courts meet to decide house arrest, without subjects ever being told what the evidence against them is.

All that has happened under Labour in the last 13 years and has been forgotten, we are left with the ID card, 28 days of detention without charge, the database state, gross over-surveilance, petty form filling and all the rest of it...

Even the Liberal Democrats and also the Conservatives are not saying much about liberty in this election. Why not? Isn't this a major concern for everyone?

Do you want?



Ask yourself if you want these things:

To abandon ID cards
To respect the European Court of Human Rights and limit on DNA databases
Regulation of surveillance CCTV
No tracking and storage of communications (emails, texts, calls)
Human Rights legislation as it is now
Stop heavy handed policing against demos and use of terror laws gainst innocents
A full inquiry into alleged torture
Right to hear evidence before control orders are issued
Complete review of legislation, to repeal laws curtailing liberty

...add your own issues.

No to Spotify

Spotify should be dropped by the media companies. It has two main problems 1) Very low royalties per track to artists and 2) Low audio quality.

These are two issues where a diametrically opposite strategy is needed. Pay artists more (not the BPI people, but the actual artists) and find a replacement for the CD to deliver much higher quality audio. (by the way, it is strange that TV is going to HD, but audio is going to the dogs with poor quality internet streaming...)

Saving Britain - the question is how?

Where do the claims and realities of the three main parties stand? First let's look at overall policy.

Labour fiscal tightening, they say, will build to 4.8% of "national income" or £71bn/year in 2010 terms, by

- withdrawing the fiscal stimulus during 2010
- tightening spending in 2011, with real pain in 2012-14
- then finish the job by 2016

Labour's policy implies £643bn borrowing over next 7 years

LibDem agrees.

Cons want tightening earlier & quicker, with an addtional £6bn in 2010, and all repairs done by 2015. This implies £604bn borrowing over next 7 years. Their targets would be to return borrowing < 40% of national income in 2031 - same as Lab & LibDem, just the shape of the curves are slightly different.

Composition of tightening



Labour has a 2:1 ratio of cuts (£47bn) vs tax rises (£24bn)
LibDems have 2.5:1 ratio fof cust (£51bn) vs tax rises (£20bn)
Cons call for 4:1 ration of cuts (£57bn) vs tax rises (14bn)

This shows a significant difference in cuts by the Cons.

Cuts & Tax



The current government has already put £17bn cuts into the pipeline, but they have not announced +£7bn more tax that they need to meet targets. Cons have announced £6bn tax on top of the pipeline and the LibDems announced £3bn on top of the pipeline.

Pubic spending



No one has announced any cuts in Social Spending, without this we will need big cuts in other areas. These are the party targets/year, versus what they have so far announced in reality

Lab £51bn (13% announced)
Cons £64bn (18% cuts announced)
LibDem £47bn (26% announced)

Clearly the one's who got us into this mess, Labour, have no idea how to get us out of it.

Here's some of the data graphically, first borrowing, this shows there is little difference between parties about the rate of borrowing trend.

Borrowing profiles.png


At the end of all this the three parties converge when you look at the long term plans for revenue and spending.

Convergence.png


Leaving our long term debt out to 2040 looking like this, but remember governments come and go, and the last peak leading up to a debt of 72% of national income was the highest ever and created by Labour. Can we trust them to change their tune and bring it down - I doubt it.

Long term debt.png


So when it comes to tightening our belts how do the three parties stack up? Very similar. So the big question is who can implement it, and will we, the people, support them?

Tightening.png


Conclusion?



Forget Labour, they created the mess, they have little no philosophies or tactics to get us out of it. Chose LibDem and we stand a good chance of understanding the pain, but they will have to govern in a coalition, or force a change in the electoral system (to PR) and call a new election - difficult as the Cons are dead against it. Finally Cons, who are jolly in their approach but have little idea how to get the country behind them in what will be a very painful two years.


Saturday, 24 April 2010

ACTA, copyright and the internet

First, let me say that artists deserve to get paid.



But the fact today is that copyright laws which are supposed to protect them have been usurped by large media corporations (by taking over artists copyrights in exchange for promotion & production). This means that today artists often get less than 10% of the sales of these corporation's products.

The global corporate machine also takes actions solely for profit which are very much against us, the consumers. For example, why should a DVD film released in the USA not become available in Europe until months later, or why should the BBC only be allowed to stream iPlayer only to UK IP addresses? The corporations have widely sub-divided rights by media, time and place.

Issues



So I believe we need to discuss these issues

1 The revision of copyright law. To shorten the time it applies - to say 10 years. And to make it global and non-divisible in media, time nor place.

2 The banning of DRM, or any kind of technology technique which prevents us from doing what we like . DRM is useless against file copying, but severely reduces our rights to use the purchased media as we wish (transcode to other hardware, re-sell...)

3 Making sure the internet is open and free and available to everyone as a utility and a right. Thus not using ISPs or any other delivery channel to police the digital bits they carry and deliver.

Make sure that personal infringement of copyright is always a civil law, not a criminal one. That is if you don't make money out of a copy then you don't commit a criminal offence.

Comments



Some comments I have recently read, reacting to the publication of the infamous, and up until now secret, ACTA treaty:

"The net is a fractal distribution network. DRM/DMCA/ACTA etc. are designed to be effective against a linear fixed network, it is pointless against a fractal net."

"The choice is between ISP liability and no ISP liability."

"I don't think that legislators or the mainstream of society yet considers or realises that information & Internet access should be treated like a utility, and thus a basic staple of life in the modern world. "

"ACTA is nothing more than sanctioning a worldwide oligarchy of "content owners" who are in fact simply middle men between the artists and the audience. In the era of the internet, such people are no longer needed."

Friday, 23 April 2010

Out of a job?

Out of a job? Back to the shop.

I hope so...


Screen shot 2010-04-23 at 10.19.44.png


What colour is it?

I have always been fascinated, or you could call it confused, by colour representation and reproduction. What is all this about colour gamuts?

It seems that there are colours we can't see on our Red-Green-Blue computer screens and colours we can't print in the simple Cyan-Magenta-Yellow-Black printing process. The problem is translating the colour we see by light emitters, your computer screen, and light reflectors, the printed page.

So here is a great diagram I found recently (at arstechnica) which shows the different capabilities of different colour spaces

Screen shot 2010-04-23 at 09.33.27.png


What you see is the enclosed space that different colour reproduction capabilities can show. sRGB is one of the most common capabilities of digital cameras. As you see it is much wider than the capability of your CMYK printer, that's why your lovely colour photos do not print out so well, and look all washed out, especially for the deep reds and greens.

I quote all this because to day no one makes an RGB printer to match your RGB computer display, they all use CMYK. But Apple is proposing a CMYK screen using filters in place of light emitters.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

The bank question, let's not lose sight

The Government paid £45.2bn for 84% stake in RBS. They also took a 41% stake in Lloyds Banking Group for £27.6bn

Budget documents estimate we have lost £6bn at the moment on the bailouts, but things are improving. The Asset Protection Agency forecasts we should gain £5bn from the schemes eventually.

The Bank of England has also been indemnified in providing £200bn of liquidity support, guaranteeing up to £250bn wholesale borrowing to the banks to strength their liquidity. Plus there has been more funding for the Bradford and Bingley and the Financial Compensation Scheme.

Add these sums, and more, up and it comes to around £850bn support for the banks to prevent anyone going bust and keep the economy moving (although it is doubtful if it is...). The banks promised to continue lending, or overdraft facilities to business. But they are falling short of this , RBS by £25bn and Lloyds by £14bn.

Advice, for £107.1m


One of the significant costs incurred is £200k/month for a year to Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank as retainers for the treasury immediate back-up needs. And they could be in line for £1.5m "success fees" for Credit Suisse and £110k/month for Deutsche.

Credit Suisse also got a £300k/month contract to advise the Asset Protection Scheme over future losses, plus more "success fees" of £3m. They could benefit from up to £15.4m by March 2011.

Slaughter and May, legal, gets £32.9m and Pricewaterhouse @11.3m for there work on Asset Protection.

And the outcome???


Now what is very uncertain is the outcome. We have no Obama-like commitment to have the banks pay back "every penny". But we need this. In fact we want to make a good profit, to allow for inflation, and especially as the bankers are plunging ahead with large bonus payments out of tax payer's money.

At election time this is what parties have to commit to.

In short - the numbers


£76bn To purchase shares in RBS and Lloyds Banking Group
£200bn Indemnify Bank of England against losses incurred in providing over £200bn of liquidity support
£250bn Guarantee wholesale borrowing by banks to strengthen liquidity in the banking system
£40bn Provide loans and other funding to Bradford & Bingley and the Financial Services compensation Scheme
£280bn Agree in principle to provide insurance for selection of bank assets
£671bn Total Government spending in the financial year 2009-2010
£32.9m Slaughter & May - Commercial legal advice
£15.4m Credit Suisse - Financial advice on a range of measures, including Bank Recapitalisation and the Asset Protection Scheme
£11.3m PricewaterhouseCoopers - Advice on APS
£8.7m Ernst & Young - Due diligence on APS, Northern Rock
£7.7m KPMG - Due diligence on APS
£7.4m Blackrock - Valuation advice on APS
£5.3m Deutsche Bank - Financial advice on a range of measures
£5m Citi Financial - Advice on Aps
£4.9m BDO Stoy Hayward - Valuation of Northern Rock
£4.5m Goldman Sachs - Financial advice on Northern Rock
£1.5m Morgan Stanley - Financial advice on Bradford & Bingley
£2.5m Other advisers - Financial advice on a range of measures and proposals to revive Britain's ailing economy

Monday, 19 April 2010

Immigration up or not?

There's a bit of a squabble going on right now about immigration. Labour says they have it under control. They also say its coming down - but check the graphs, the trend is slightly down from the peak of 2004 & 2007, but the actual numbers are still hugely positive with a net inflow of > 150,000, compared to near zero net every year up to 1997.

So, down?, that is not the point. Since Labour came into power in 1997, immigration has soared.

Here's the data from the National Statistics Office

Screen shot 2010-04-19 at 06.42.07.png


As you can see net immigration was practically flat until 1997 then started going up consistently.

NSO im-em.png


The result is a net increase of immigration of up to 200,000 per year... and over 13 years more than 2.4 million.

So don't listen to them squirming, look at the facts. And ask what can be done.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Going round Copyright - ignoring it?

The core problem with copyright is that enforcement of it requires monitoring of communications, and you cannot be guaranteed free speech if someone is monitoring everything you say. This is important, most people fail to see or address this point when debating the issue of copyright, so let me make it clear:

You cannot guarantee freedom of speech and enforce copyright law



That is why some systems are being set up on the internet to hide the transfer of information, including file-sharing.

But how will artists be rewarded for their work without copyright?



Firstly, even if copyright were the only way that artists could be rewarded for their work, then I would contend that freedom is more important than having professional artists (those who claim that we would have no art do not understand creativity: people will always create, it is a compulsion, the only question is whether they can do it for a living).

Secondly, it could be questioned whether copyright is effective even now. The music industry is one of the most vocally opposed to enhancements in communication technology, yet according to many of the artists who should be rewarded by copyright, it is failing to do so. Rather it has allowed middle-men to gain control over the mechanisms of distribution, to the detriment of both artists and the public.

Freedom - the party's offerings

It is amazing how in the last 13 years of Labour our freedoms have been slowly eroded. We have become truly a surveillance society, with movement, speech and association curtailed.

Screen shot 2010-04-01 at 09.48.14.png


Here's what the different parties promise for the future:

Liberal Demoncrats - 13 points



Introduce a freedom bill,
Regulate CCTV,
Reduce local council surveillance,
Restore the right to protest,
Protect free speech,
Offer guarantees to investigative journalism,
Scrap ID cards,
End plans to spy on email and internet connections,
Scrap ContactPoint,
Reduce pre-charge detention to 14 days
Scrap secret evidence.
Limit the DNA database and
Wholehearted support for the HRA.

That is what I call an agenda. Hope they get into power and can do it.

Conservatives - 8 points



No ID cards
Cancel ContactPoint children's database
Scrap vetting and barring scheme
Curtail council surveillance powers
Give more power to the information commissioner,
Introducing privacy impact assessments on new legislation.
Change the law in respect to the DNA database,
Replace the Human Rights Act with a bill of rights.

Not a bad offering, but... could do more

Labour - only 2 points



Take the DNA profiles of children off the database
Tightened the rules around the use of surveillance

That's it? God I hope these guys get thrown out, I am fed up with super-state controlling me.

"I agree with Nick" the new Labour slogan

There is no doubt that Nick Glegg won the debate last night.

As a matter of interest here's how it opened

Nick Clegg


I believe the way things are is not the way things have to be.

Gordon Brown


These are no ordinary times, and this is no ordinary election.

"I agree with Nick", later became the slogan of the Labour party...

David Cameron


I think it's great we're having these debates, and I hope they go some way to restore some of the faith and some of the trust into our politics, because we badly need that once again in this country.

Comment



Sadly none of them talked about bigger things like freedom and human rights, neither did they admit to the disastrous state of our finances (remember £850B government debt, increasing by £500m per day, £1000B personal debts). Talking about £6B here and £12B there is peanuts against the crisis we face.

Clegg is right. The Lib Dems do have good ideas on how to fix the country. But they missed a point or two about repealing many of those more than 4000 new laws Labour have introduced, mainly to force social engineering on us, not to give us freedom.

But Brown is wrong. He got it wrong to bail out the investment banks, business and people would have benefited more if the banks went bust and the Bank of England simply took over lending.

Cameron was a wash out. This reflects the continuing differences of opinion within the Conservative party. They are old, fusty and out of touch, not new and invigorating. They are a better alternative to another 5 years of Labour's shenanigans, but only just.

A Conservative + Liberal Democrat hung parliament, getting rid of the whip system is probably the nest we can hope for...

I remind you of the financial issues



DEBT

debt.png


OVERSPENDING ON SOCIAL ENGINEERING

7.png


[BBC]

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

This is what I wrote to my MP about the DEBill

Dear Tony

I will try just one more time to get the point across. The bill is not needed at all...

The minister still does not get it.

The internet is throwing over many previously good business models. It is something we just have to accept.

To go around supporting the old models and old concepts and old beliefs will just cause damage to artists (not benefit) and make a lot more people, for example the young internet savvy, into extremists.

This is not the first time in history that this sort of things has come about.

Before the advent of aeroplanes the ground under your land and the sky above it were yours. So an plane flying over you was trespassing. The law was changed to reflect common sense and allow them to fly about without your permission.

On the advent of the phongraph, people feared that the culture of singing songs and passing them down generation-to-generation would die out. It did. But the phongraph did not.

Then we got a new industry built on copyright, and persued by control of the delivery chain - artists enthralled to BPI members and BPI members controlling the distribution chain of CD and DVD. And it is what we have today.

Now we introduce the internet. Which is causing two problems. First is downright copying in entirety of films and music giving no benefit to the artists. This comes about because it is simply easier to get the thing you want this way, and there is no good reason to buy or easy channel to buy made available by the BPI members. They are living in the past exploiting their old business model that relied on scarcity and control of the channel of distribution (CD & DVDs) and have not adapted to the internet. And second, because most young people today do not accept the tight infliction of copyright the BPI people are demanding and exploiting (for example they still say it is illegal to copy a CD onto your iPod! and they try to force videos to be taken off YouTube of babies dancing to music playing in the back ground, and many more examples). The BPI also uses copyright to control the geographic release of films, for example in USA ahead of Europe or ahead of DVD. They do not accept the global nature of the internet (and by the way neither do the BBC who claim to be a global broadcaster, but actually limit the iPlayer to UK IP addresses only, again at the demand of rights owners).

This all has to stop. We cannot stop progress by trying to inflict old models on the new internet and the new way young people want to consume media.

So you, as politicians, have to get on-side with people and come up with solutions that will benefit artists and yet allow the orderly transition of media to the digital age and distribution by the internet. This mostly means revising copyright law - especially about fair use. It means not using ISPs as gates to prevent free access to the internet and it means letting the old BPI business collapse (whatever you do it will anyway). The BPI does not represent the artistic endeavours of people, it is only interested in sustaining profits from its exclusive model it has managed to build up, and which is now dead.

Piracy is not a problem for our creative people, only for the BPI profitability. Good artists will continue to create and get paid for their work without them.

Lastly it is pointless to try detect and to block websites that host copyright material for downloading. It is extremely simple on the internet to mask any download, for example by encryption or VNC techniques. Many sites already exists that do this, and they will simply grow in number. Politicians do not understand the technology (even Jeremy Hunt himself thought IP stood for Intellectual Property, not Internet Protocol!). You will never get ahead of the curve of internet development, so don't try.

I have the greatest fear that the attitudes which allowed the bill to be drafted and the principles on which it is based are both flawed and are secretly lining up with the secret ACTA treaty being negotiated world wide, which contains similar provisions, not to mention the BBC also seeking to introduce DRM in HDTV at the request of studios - a thing which was tried in the USA and thrown out.

I do hope that these arguments can be accepted by yourself and any ministers involved and that the DEBill will not be implemented, and these clauses that undermine free speech and association will be abandoned. A new debate needs to be started about copyright - I have already sent you some suggestions.

Regards

Antony Watts



Tuesday, 13 April 2010

We need some Internet rights

Recently I saw proposed a number of internet rights which I feel should be put into law. Without them we may see an increasing abuse of our rights to free speech and free association. The proposals are:

I. We have the right to connect.



This is the right to sign up to an ISP and get online. No one should have the ability to prevent connection or terminate it (even temporarily)

II. We have the right to speak.



This is the right to free speech, such as blogs, web sites, emails, comments, etc

III. We have the right to speak in our languages.



No one says you have to use english!

IV. We have the right to assemble.



We can join chat rooms and have open, public or private discussions

V. We have the right to act.



We can express our opinions and make calls to action

VI. We have the right to control our data.



Our data belongs uniquely to us, we have the right to view it and edit it.

VII. We have the right to our own identity.



We can be unique on the internet, and not confused with anyone else

VIII. What is public is a public good.



If anything is made public then this is a good thing and cannot be blocked

IX. The internet shall be built and operated openly.



No one shall impose a structure on the internet which affects any of the above rights.

Monday, 12 April 2010

All in a dungeon of little hope - Labour's manifesto

Screen shot 2010-04-12 at 15.49.55.png

The manifesto

The word "tough" appears in the document 39 times, the word "reform" 83 and the word "control" 23.

The words liberal and liberty don't appear once. This is old Labour in a modern setting, a surrendering of progressive liberal ambitions for the future.

That says it all. When we need leadership, principles and hope what we get is drivelling mush.... a babble of incoherent assertions... an empty space.

"The argument of this manifesto is that we need to deliver a future fair for all," Gordon Brown writes at the start, which means nothing.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

My Rubbish Collection

There's got to be a better way!

In the house right now we have

- A plastic bag sitting by the front door with bottles in it waiting to go to the bottle bank at Tesco's
- A bowl to throw packaging in, before we take it out side to the Blue Bin
- A domestic "other" rubbish container in the kitchen for stuff that goes in the Green Bin
- A Brown Box in the kitchen for food waste, that eventually goes out to the Brown Bin
- A bin in each bathroom (x2) for tissues, empty shower gel bottles, and such

And then outside we have:

- the Brown Bin (Organic waste),
- the Green Bin (Other waste) and
- the Blue Bin (packaging waste)

That's a total of NINE bins/bags around the house for rubbish!!! At least seven of which are of great interest to rats, cats and dogs.

Oh I've just discovered another bag, one to keep plastic bags in!

The Green bin gets full first as lots of stuff we don't know where else to put it - like my son's bits and pieces left over from mending his old Mini. Next comes the Blue Bin which overflows with packaging stuff. But the Brown Bin comes a close second in summer as the garden grows and we cut it all back and fill it up.

What could we do?

One thing would be to cut packaging waste. My son has a theory that manufacturers love the Blue Bin because they can actually increase the packaging of products - making them look bigger on the supermarket shelves so you think you are getting more.. I think that we need to turn the Blue Bin problem over to shops and Supermarkets, they need to be measured on the amount of consumable stuff they sell, versus the packaging it comes in.

Added later

But this is not so bad as some people living with an over-exuberant council, look what they have to do

Screen shot 2010-04-26 at 09.41.07.png


This man did it - UK force into DEBT

Screen shot 2010-04-10 at 23.51.51.png


Gordon Brown did it.

DEBT

The UK has been raped in the last 13 years by this man and his completely failed philosophy and government.

Public debt today is rising by £448M per DAY. In four years it will have risen to £1400B.

And this will cost every household in UK £60 per WEEK just to pay the interest, not even the huge debt itself, and not even to pay to stop it rising further...

But what are we seeing in the election? Politicians that will not face up to reality. Cameron says he can save one-off £12B, but this is the amount by which the debt goes up every month. Brown says he can save £0.5B by efficiencies in the NHS, but the debt rises by that every day.

WE need to get real and face facts. We have a government debt of £800B to pay off, plus we have personal debts (mortgages, credit cards) of more than £1000B. We cannot pay it. We do not have enough productive jobs, public sector workers (and the banks) do not generate wealth they spend it (or lose it). We need to get back our industry which has halved in the last 10 years. And we will need to enormously tighten our belts.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

All wrong!!! DEBill

So last week parliament debated (for only a couple of hours) the Digital Economy Bill.

Let me remind you that this bill has two major issues

1 It gives copyright holders - i.e. the BPI - the possibility to cut people off the internet

2 It gives copyright holders - i.e. the BPI - the possibility to have web sites and links to web sites hosting copyright material blocked.

I remind you also of two of our fundamental human rights

1 Free association

2 Free speech

Both of these rights are removed by the Bill and are thus illegal. But do they care?

Moreover our politicians don't seem to understand the internet at all and were not really competent to discuss it!

Only a few MPs bothered to turn up for the debate (around 40):

Screen shot 2010-04-10 at 09.06.39.png


But the public were there, the Guardian reported:

"25,000 tweets, 20,000 letters written, 64% of MPs didn't turn up to vote and 187 strolled in at the end without bothering to listen to the debate"

and

"The last straw was when it was revealed that Stephen Timms –- the minister for Digital Britain – was under the impression that "IP address" referred to "intellectual property", rather than internet protocol."

Noteably my MP, Tony Baldry, who I have written to many times about this Bill, was not there. I have sent him a letter saying

"Dear Tony

After all the inputs I gave you about the moral, ethical, business and practical objections to the Digital Economy Bill, I note that you did not even turn up to vote, nor did you express any of my opinions during the debate. You assured me you would take these on board and let them be known.

In fact as the Guardian reported you were one of the 64%...

The public sent .. ."25,000 tweets, 20,000 letters written, 64% of MPs didn't turn up to vote and 187 strolled in at the end without bothering to listen to the debate"

Is no one listening in Parliament? This is a scandal of giant proportions when the BPI can write and get passed their views into law. And it is a scandal that tramples on our human rights to free speech and association.

I say it again

The internet must be free, what you have passed into law is censorship. Would you turn off the BBCs transmitters if they broadcast copyright infringing material, would you shut down printing presses? The channel of communication cannot ever be attacked because it is used for the transmission of copies of copyright material.

I can assure you that you will not get my vote at the election. No matter that I feel the Conservatives stand a better chance of rescuing the UK from financial disaster...

Regards

Antony Watts"

Friday, 2 April 2010

Un-ashamedly, I copy to you Simon Coulter's comment in the Telegraph

What Cameron is saying is that we must revive the spirit of the individual and of communities to help themselves - not lie about like amoebae waiting for the state to do everything for them, to fund it and to make it happen.

Communities built their own churches, hospitals and schools – and founded local organisations to benefit the parts of their community that needed help of one kind or another. They did to using the resources they had and it amounted in part to a very willing redistribution of wealth, used in the best ways possible.

Individuals, families, cared for their own pre-school children and for their sick, disabled and elderly relatives. They recoiled at unsupported, illegitimate pregnancy – both the women and the men involved. They recognised what was wrong in their community, and the local visible police officers knew too, and worked with them. This was very successful era of a clip on the ear.

Parents worked with schools, and discipline was guaranteed. Children worked hard for results that meant something against absolute standards – and the system recognised lesser and greater ability and filtered youngsters into what they could achieve, even at an early age, rather than build frustration and disruption.

Doctors and district nurses worker with the community to support home care, and small local hospitals took the strain – even of long term support of the elderly beyond home care, in sites purpose built and close to their family, tightly drawn into wider NHS care.

Socialism has destroyed virtually all of this. Legions of alleged social workers (a great misnomer) tend to the feral parents of feral children who only exist because fecklessness is rewarded by benefits - and marriage, the family, as a concept for the place to fund the production of children who will also grow up to contribute to society has been smashed.

Cameron wants every person to contribute – not what Labour has tried to build, the idea that everyone should take, see themselves as a client, and thus a vote in the bag for socialism. We can’t afford this – it’s a Ponzi scheme strategy, it weakens us, it drags down our values, and it is destroying Britain.

I’m sick of images of supposed no-go areas, and council estates where the gardens are unmade and wrecked, the fences broken down – and where the bleeding hearts go on about the lot of the people living in them. These people are often not even working, in the properties all day - and yet are never blamed by the Left for the state into which they have reduced all that has been given to them – through ignorance, idleness, indolence, vandalism. There are no recognisable positive social values here – and this is the biggest growth area in our community, funded to expand in poverty by the state as an equally, deeply feckless fiscal co-parent.

Cameron is right. Social caring by the community is right. Socialism as politics is wrong. The state is expanding because we are paying people to breed who are so inadequate it has to be their nanny – fiscally and morally – and it is lousy at the job.

Complexity or simplicity in government

We have been in the fortunate position of having surplus resources (it is another matter that most of these were not real but borrowed...), and to manage these resources we have built a more complex society.

Think banking products, think local government, think central government, think social care, think the NHS... always more complex. More IT, more databases... more services?

To start with this increased complexity had a positive marginal value - that is complexity went up and costs went down and this contributed to better services for your tax. But over time there were diminishing returns, and the establishment of a huge bureaucratic elite. Until finally, today, the marginal value contributed has disappeared completely. Any more complexity introduced at this point simply introduces more costs.

Our society elite today has added layers of bureaucracy and taxes too many and have extracted all the value it is possible from society, and they are now in the process of trying to extract some more.

Remember at the start I said in brackets that all this was built on borrowing and credit, and that is itself has become unmanageable to day, both for individuals and for government. Such complexity, built on borrowing, will mean a double collapse because the stress it has created in finance plus society makes our politicians unable and inflexible to respond. They are simply faced with potential collapse.

There is no way they can see to make things any simpler, the whole edifice has become too huge with tight interlocking systems and it is not amenable to change. What is worse even when small adjustments are tried they cannot be done as any simplification discomforts the entrenched elites.

Will our society now remain as complex as ever, with the value of more complexity increasingly negative, and a complete inability to react? That is the question, isn't it? Can it?

This is the issue that we are facing at this general election. There has to be a change, but which politicians can and will recognise this and be able to manage the transition moment when everything suddenly and dramatically becomes inevitably simpler. Total, unrecognised and unmanaged collapse IS the last remaining method of simplification. Collapse to simplicity will wreck the glories of perceived past achievements.

[At the moment when prospective Chancellors are quibbling about £10bn here and £10bn there, when our total debts are over £2000bn seems they haven't yet got the message]

Who to elect?

It is the people who discover how to work simply in the present, not the people who mastered the complexity of the past who will get to say what happens in the future. Those are the people we must find and place in government.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

The Broken problem - I wish I had a solution

What happened to our money?

Well its simple really, we (yes you and me and banks and the government) ran up a huge debt and now we have to pay it back. The problem is how. Well, we have to get back to a properly balanced economy.

Hoping that the banking bailout will reflate the economy and create more phantasy prosperity is dreaming. Re-capitalising the banks has not worked, they have taken the money and inflated their assets to the benefit of shareholders. But they have not increased investment in industry. What would you expect them to do?

Banks

Banks don't loan money they have, they use money deposited as a basis for creating money they don't have, as credit. This is the source of our overheated economy, which was expanding regardless of the real wealth we generate, creating money seemingly from nothing but really from our future, which then enters the economy as debt owed back to bankers and corporations.

Industry

We need to forget the banks and concentrate on asking why our industry has been smashed, why our pensions have been smashed, why 52% of GDP is from the state, why there is very little proper wealth creation? British manufacturing shrank from 20.9 per cent of the UK’s GDP in 1997 to 13.6 per cent in 2005, since then it has shrunk even further.

We cannot increase taxes and spend more money on welfare, this will make the problem worse.

We have to go back to earning our living. We have to build industry.

Broken?

Broken Britain is all around us.

- Politics and Banking. Broken.
- Religion. Broken
- The police. Broken
- Local government. Very broken
- Attitudes to the old,young, ill and poor. Broken.
- Government itself. Broken
- Tax system. Broken.

The Social Contract - work hard, obey the law and a decent life will be available. Broken

I just don't know what to say - Labour's abhorrent ads (1 April 2010)

I am boiling with anger over these advertisements, posters, call them what you will. It is thoughly disgusting, if this is what the common man (and woman) in UK thinks is good government, then heaven help us.

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Then there is this ingenuous leaflet...

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[Images Guardian, April Fools day]

Pledges?

1 Labour have been 13 years promoting individuals and the country as a whole to get into the most appalling debt. Personals debt is now £1300bn for mortgages, £340bn for credit cards and £867bn government debt. We pay £30bn taxes a year just for interest on this government debt.

And a lot of that debt is money given to failed banks.

If we were not in this position we could have withstood easily any so called banking crisis, in fact if Labour had managed the economy correctly we would have much more productive industry, a lot less unnecessary public spending and banks that we are in control of.

So "Securing the recovery" is frankly bullshit from those that promoted the crisis to happen in the first place.

2 Raise family living standards. What a joke! Their idea is to get us more dependent on the state, take away our autonomy, make us irresponsibly relying on on state aid... get us into more personal debt... not provide us with productive jobs, but buying everything `(Cars, Wind Turbines, Tanks, Nuclear Power stations...) from abroad. And so on. A complete mismanagement of our affairs, there is no way that the remaining 40% of people in a job can support 60% on handouts or in the public sector.

3 There is no sign that UK has any hi-tech economy. Almost every invention we make is exploited in the USA or China. There are no policies to reverse that. It is indescribibly difficutl to startup a new company today because of interference of the local councils, lack of credit, and red tape.

4 Protect front-line services. Right, except that the NHS has been asked to cut spending by £11bn, and the Universities are also being cut back by £900M. Schools are being swamped by target setters, and not allowed to teach what they believe pupils need.

5 Strengthen fairness... what the hell does that mean? The only thing Labour is doing is strengthening dependence on hand outs.

An alternative?

What the Conservatives are saying is "Big Society in, Big State out" and they are right, we don't want any more of this paranoid bully. Treason even comes to mind.