Archive for November, 2011

NHS choice (virtual) means three clinics can refuse me an appointment.

November 29, 2011

I was recently advised by my doctor (or rather his locum) that I might have Conn’s syndrome and recommended that I see a specialist in endocrinology. He asked if I wanted private but, not being rich I said NHS.

Instead of receiving an appointment, I received a letter about CHOOSING which clinc I would attend, for this preliminary screening.

Choosing the nearest, I entered my details and password, only to be told that they were fully booked up. I tried the next nearest and they were booked up. I went for the option of asking the nearest one to contact me about an appointment.

I was informed that they must contact me by 5th December (i.e. 1 working week).

Fantastic!!!  Under the bad old system, I would have got an appointment in a year’s time, which I could have complained to my MP about.

Under the new pre-privatisation system I have a choice of three places, so I can’t complain about a specific place and I can be fobbed off with the old pass the parcel routine.

Choice, in the NHS, is a wonderful way for politicians to claim that they are making an effort to improve the NHS, whilst actually degrading it.

Why are three clinics so over-booked, when Politicians are claiming that the NHS is awash with extra funding?

I suspect that if I dig into my savings and ask for a private consultation, these same three tax-payer funded NHS clinics will find an appointment within a week.

I will wait for my reply, then ask how much I have to bung my local pre-privatisation NHS trust to get NHS funded treatment, privately.

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Men and women are different (plus bastardised printed version)

November 29, 2011

Written in response to a whinging column by Vanessa Feltz , in The Daily Express, about why men aren’t women, with the bastardised printed version below it:

Girls play house and tea-parties. Boys play fighting and running games.

Women do housework, because they want to. Men don’t, because they aren’t obsessed by it.

A woman will change clothes twice or more a day. A man will change clothes twice a week, if pushed.

A woman will spot a piece of lint on the carpet, at twenty yards and she will rush for the vacuum cleaner, before another woman sees it.

A man will vacuum, when he stands on something that hurts his bare foot. He will, if he is single, be careful to avoid a neat and tidy carpet, for fear his mates think he is turning and shun him.

A woman will spend a whole day looking for new shoes and only wear them once.

A man will spend a whole ten minutes before settling on a pair of shoes that he will wear until they are beyond repair.

A woman will throw a single tea towel in the washing machine.

A man waits until he has a big enough load to drag down to the laundrette, where the machine’s have simple instructions printed on them.

If he has a washing machine, at home, it’s in case a woman stops over/ moves in.

A woman buys curtains to make the window look pretty (like the house that her dollies had).

A man has curtains to shut out the light or to keep heat in.

A woman will cram everything in a cupboard and spend hours searching for it, when she needs it.

A man will leave whatever he has used, wherever he has used it, in the certain knowledge that the next time he wishes to use it, it will be where he will want to use it. E.g. toe nail clippers will be somewhere within easy reach of his couch, as will the TV remote and a drink.

A woman will dress up to watch TV, in case she has visitors.

A man will strip down to the minimum, so he can scratch, where necessary.

He doesn’t get naked, in case he gets visitors. His trousers will be on the route between the couch and the door.

A woman will wash, dry and put away dishes, as soon as they have been used, wasting hot water, soap and effort.

Men will stack dirty dishes until it’s worth the effort. They are more efficient and more eco-friendly.

Women may re-cycle, but only after thoroughly washing and cleaning tin-cans, wasting resources in the process.

A man knows that the damn things have to go in a furnace, where the odd baked bin will be incinerated.

A woman will pollute the planet with sprays of toxic chemicals in order to mask natural smells.

A man will welcome the smells as being readily identifiable information about his environment.

A man can thus identify and locate the dead mouse behind the couch, weeks before a woman.

A woman only cleans behind the couch once a year (out of sight, out of mind).

A man cleans behind the couch, whenever he smells a dead mouse, or can’t find his other sock.

To a woman, a man is a slob.

Bastardised printed version

“VANESSA Feltz accuses men of being lazy around the house. I disagree. Women do housework because they want to. Men don’t because they aren’t obsessed by it. A woman will spot a piece of lint on the carpet at 20 yards and she will rush for the vacuum cleaner. A man will vacuum but only when he stands on something that hurts his bare foot. A woman will wash, dry and put away dishes as soon as they have been used, wasting hot water, soap and effort. Men will stack dirty dishes until it’s worth the effort to wash them. Lazy? No, just sensible.”

To a man, a woman is a fuss-pot, obsessed by what other women might say behind her back.

Walking Eagle (could be most politicians)

November 28, 2011

A Joke email that I felt like sharing…

On a recent trip to the United States , Tony Blair, Ex. Prime Minister of the UK , addressed a major gathering of Native American Indians. He spoke for almost an hour on his plans for a CarbonTrading Tax for the UK and Europe At the conclusion of his speech, the crowd presented him with a plaque inscribed with his new Indian name – Walking Eagle. A very chuffed Tony then departed in his motorcade, waving to the crowds.. A news reporter later asked one of the Indians how they came to select the new name given to Tony Blair They explained that Walking Eagle is the name given to a bird so full of shit that it can no longer fly.

 

Gov’t encouraging pension funds to take on riskier ventures?

November 28, 2011

It would be interesting to know what the infrastructure projects are, which The Government has announced as being the lifeline being thrown to pension investment funds.

The only infrastructure projects announced are the building of new Toll roads and Rail links.

If these are the intended projects, then the logical line of thought is that The Tory party sponsors are not too keen on investing in them, until they have been proven a success.

So the pension funds of the wage slaves will be used to build these schemes and take the risks involved, whilst the big boys sit by ready to swoop in and buy up these projects should they prove profitable.

Short term, the Government is raising unemployment and shipping more of our remaining industries abroad (Avionics and Rail being latest to be dismembered).

This means less people travelling to work, less goods being ferried and so less traffic.

Great for easing congestion but worrying for those investing in road and rail.

Spare a thought for an old Fart

November 22, 2011

One of the evils of old age is flatulence.  (medically diagnosed from being fair,fat and forty(+))

Unfortunately the inconvenience of this problem is heightened by the expectation that, if a woman enters a room that I occupy, then I must continuously apologise for my misfortune.

At least the woman can go back out and escape. But it’s not the smell that causes the offence, it’s the sound. Women can sneak them out. How? Perhaps their extra padding muffles the sound, in which case, I may find surcease, as I age and my bum muscles become more lax.

Meantime, I’m stuck with  continuous apologising.

I’m also stuck with the problem of the discomfort and, sometimes, pain as the gases build up.

I’m stuck with irritation of my anus, caused by the repeated vibrations.

I’m stuck with a constant apprehension that the next one may not be gas only.

I’m stuck with the angst of not knowing the cause or the cure. Is it gut bacteria? Is it the prescribed Statins, as one friend suggested? Am I eating too much veg/roughage?

Forget Cancer. Forget Flu and the Common Cold. Plough some research funds into this problem, which may be a source of huge amusement to teenage boys, but is a curse for older men.

 

Charities have become financial institutions

November 20, 2011

My thoughts on charities, which seem to have become big business lately, with very expensive advertising campaigns.

When I was a lad, the only Flag-day was Poppy day. Then came R.N.L.I. and a few other worthy causes related to genuine volunteers and/ or people who had made, or were making personal sacrifices for our Society.

Then came Oxfam  and charitable causes mushroomed, to a point where there were different collecting tins being rattled at every Supermarket door. This was despite an exposé that of every pound collected by Oxfam only 1d (that’s an old penny) reached hungry mouths, as food, and despite Government stepping in with Foreign aid to help those same people.

Unfortunately Foreign Aid became a political means of buying greedy dictators’ friendships and combatting the spread of Communism. A policy driven by America’s Plutocrats.

Nowadays, you can’t pluck a disease from the medical dictionary, or a tragedy from a tabloid, without finding someone collecting donations on behalf of it. There must be at least a dozen cancer related organisations.

Based on a bottom layer of genuine volunteers, the charities have become big business with most high streets having at least one charity shop with a salaried manager.

Charities no longer ask for your spare change or what you feel that you can afford. Now they send out direct debit forms committing you to a substantial regular sum, with even greater demands if you succumb to their initial demands.

Charities have become such big business that many have adopted the attitudes and mind-sets of other financial organisations.

My only surprise is that they are not yet quoted onm the stock exchange.

How long before the Taxman casts a jealous eye on their turnovers?

There shouldn’t be a need for these charities.

Government should be taking care of our ex-servicemen and funding our lifeboatmen (with occupational insurances etc.). They should be funding the N.H.S. and Universities to an extent that all medical problems are fully research funded.

Tax money should be spent in ways that aid Society, not in ways that glamourise politicians or fill the already swollen bank accounts of the rich and powerful.

The argument, being used by the Right Wingers, to slough of Government responsibilities to diverse charities, is that the Public will fund in proportion to their own valuation of them.

This sounds reasonable, except most of the money is being wasted on overheads.

If Government centralised funding, the cost, of sounding public opinion (via referenda etc.) and administering these funds, would only be a fraction of what is now being wasted. An added benefit is that people could spread their limited funds to cover a wider range of charitable causes that may, at present, be low on everyone’s lists and thus receiving little or nothing.

Lastly; the truly rich would be required to donate an amount relative to their wealth.

When I hear of a multi-billionaire donating a well-publicised £3million to some worthy cause, I’m reminded of the image of the Pharisee, exhibiting his largesse for the admiration of his onlookers, in Jesus’ parable of the Widows mite.

(The mite was the smallest coin in circulation, at that time, and so the widow was being exemplified as having made a more significant donation to charity, than the Pharisee)

 

 

US Gov’t seeks to control internet through copyright legislation

November 18, 2011

More than 100 noted US law professors have signed an open letter to the US House of Representatives protesting the SOPA bill (formerly E-PARASITE) which would, among other things, elminate nearly all the safe harbor protections afforded by service providers by the DMCA.

full details are here:

http://www.afterdawn.com/news/article.cfm/2011/11/16/over_100_law_professors_protest_sopa_e-parasite_bill?utm_source=newsletterENG&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20111118

fuller-money coins new terminology Autonomies

November 18, 2011

from Fuller-money newsletter, referring to what’s happened to countries such as Greece vand Italy.:

‘Nature abhors a vacuum’, as Aristotle and many other luminaries are alleged to have said. You may have noticed that there are an increasing number of political vacuums, either because the problems seem too complex or our leaders are preoccupied with everything from the next election to ‘bunga-bunga’, pork barrelling, or cultivating a post-political career as a marketing flunky at Goldman Sachs.

Meanwhile, an increasing number of farsighted economic decisions are taken by the corporate Autonomies – my moniker for the quasi-autonomous, mobile principalities which are the primary advancers and beneficiaries of globalisation. These companies are the antithesis of their often debt-ridden and inefficient home governments, in that they have strong balance sheets, earnings growth and pay increasing dividends.  (see my comment below)

The leading Autonomies have outgrown their home country governments and are truly global players. Some are household names while others are rapidly following a similar path. The leading Autonomies merit a weighting in your investment portfolios.

So presumably these Autonomies are the companies that have fattened their profits by buying up the assets stripped from the tax-payers in these former Democracies.

Super mario–nette Monti and the sale of state assets

November 17, 2011

Now the whole of Mario Monti’s cabinet are unelected Technocrat’s.

These aren’t democratic representatives.

They are German appointed receiver’s brought in to sell of Italian assets at rock bottom prices.

I expect Schools and Hospitals to be privatised, as will eventually happen here

The appended is a letter sent to the last elected Government of Italy asking tasking them on how they intended to cut debts.

It’s not particularly oppressive (note item 3) but it gives a flavour of what’s in store, initially, :

REQUEST FOR CLARIFICATIONS ON THE LETTER FROM PM SILVIO BERLUSCONI TO THE
PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL AND THE PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN
COMMISSION

General question

1) Please provide an annotated version of the letter that indicates, for each measure/commitment, whether:

i) it is already being enacted – if so, indicate progress with its implementation,

ii)  it is already adopted by the government but not yet approved by Parliament – if so, clarify the timing of parliamentary approval and of its implementation, or

iii)   it is a new commitment – if so, provide a concrete action plan for adoption and implementation, including timelines and the type of legal instruments the government intends to use.

Please also indicate, where appropriate, the estimated budgetary impact of each measure/commitment and the means for its financing.

Sustainable public finances

2) The letter confirms the government’s commitment to the planned fiscal consolidation and recognizes the need for prompt corrective action “if a deterioration of the economic cycle leads to a worsening of the deficit”. We understand this as saying that further consolidation measures will be adopted as soon as a deviation from the targeted fiscal path becomes apparent. As we estimate that in the current economic context the planned fiscal strategy does not ensure the achievement of a balanced budget in 2013, additional measures will be needed to achieve the targets for 2012 and 2013. Are contingency measures being prepared already now, and, if so, what kind of measures are they? Would they take the form of further expenditure restraint, based on the results of a thorough spending review?

3) Could the government spell out in detail its plans on the sale of state-owned assets? Is the government considering the sale of stakes in large state-owned companies? Does the estimated EUR 5 bn revenue per year over the next three years make allowance for the lower dividends and higher expenditure on rents that can be expected as a result of these transactions?

4) Can the government outline the gross debt reduction plan that the authorities intend to launch as from 31 December 2011, with the assistance of the ad-hoc high level committee mentioned in the letter? Which measures are being contemplated, over and above the EUR 5 bn per year revenue of asset sales referred to above?

5) In the letter, the government describes the impact of the current pension legislation, including the recently decided anticipated application of the automatic link to life expectancy and of the gradual age equalisation for women in the private sector, which, under the available projections for life expectancy, would bring the statutory age for old age pensions to close to 67 by 2026. However, the retirement age of women in the private sector will remain below that of men for many years to come (contrary to what will happen in the public sector). Furthermore, the rules governing seniority pensions will still allow people toretire at a relatively young age over the coming years. To address these shortcomings of the recent reform, is the government envisaging measures such as a further tightening of the eligibility criteria for seniority pensions, if not a complete abolition thereof, and a faster transition to gender equalisation of standard retirement age ?

6)      The letter reiterates the ambition to introduce the balanced budget rule in the Constitution, but there is no reference to the secondary legislation that is required to make this rule operational and consistent with the EU budgetary framework. What is the planned timeline for this secondary legislation and how will it ensure consistency with the new EU budgetary framework? In particular: does the government consider the ‘asymmetric approach° in dealing with cycles (deviation from budget balance objective only allowed on the downside) currently proposed in the Constitutional amending bill for Article 81 on the State budget to be always consistent with the satisfaction of the EU debt criterion and the achievement of the MTO? Will there be in this connection an adjustment fund (‘control account’) to account for ex-post slippages with a clear provision to offset such accumulated slippages within a specified time frame? Is an expenditure rule envisaged to supplement at operational level the balanced budget requirement? How is the budget balance requirement to be implemented at the level of subnational governments? Which monitoring mechanisms/institutions are foreseen? On all these issues, please note that the Commission services are available to provide technical assistance.

7)      With the tax and social assistance reform, how does the government intend to shift the tax burden from labour to consumption and immovable property? Is the government considering re-introducing the property tax on owner occupied dwellings (ICI)?

Creating structural conditions favourable to growth

Structural funds

8)      How does Italy intend to speed up absorption of EU funds? In particular, what measures are envisaged to improve administrative capacity in the Convergence regions?

9)      How is the government planning to help the regions which have recently seen a suspension of EU funding due to poor implementation?

10)  The government is planning to concentrate spending of EU funds on education, broadband, railways. In which areas does the government plan to reduce funding to compensate for this?

11)  What will be the budgetary implications of the planned strategic review of the programmes co-financed by the EU structural funds for 2007-2013? What is the reduced rate of national co-financing envisaged by the government?

12)  Could the government provide us with more details on the Eurosud programme for the development of the Mezzogiorno? What are the safeguards being put in place to ensure that the funds are used appropriately and in accordance with the policy intention?

Human capital

13)    What will be the features of the restructuring programme for individual schools with unsatisfactory results at the INVALSI tests?

14)    How does the government intend to valorise the role of teachers in individual schools? What type of incentives does the government intend to put in place?

15)    Could the government provide us with more details on how the government plans to increase autonomy and competition among universities? What does the “greater room for manoeuvre in setting enrolment fees” imply in practice?

16)    As regards the university reform, what implementing measures still need to be adopted?

17)  Which concrete measures is the government considering to promote youth and female employment? Is the government considering taking action within the framework of the existing arrangements and contracts, or is it planning to introduce new ones? If so, what type of new arrangements and contracts are envisaged?

18)  How would the “tax credit for businesses offering work in the most disadvantaged areas” work? Which firms would be entitled? Would it be a temporary or permanent measure?

19)  As regards the envisaged “new rules on dismissals for economic reasons in permanent employment contracts”, would they concern the legislation governing individual or collective dismissals? Which parts of the legislation is the government considering to revise and in which way? In which concrete ways will the new legislation contribute to tackle labour market segmentation between highly protected permanent workers and precarious workers? With this view, are there plans to reduce the high (46) number of labour contract typologies currently in existence?

20)  Would the envisaged application of stricter conditions in the use of pseudo-subcontracting (contralti para-subordinati) imply changes in social security contribution rates or also in labour regulations? If also changes in labour regulations are envisaged, more details on the specific revisions that the government intends to introduce would be appreciated.

21)  The euro summit statement (26 October 2011) mentions the “commitment [… ] to review the currently fragmented unemployment benefit system by the end of 2011, taking into account the budgetary constraints” but this is not included in the letter. What are the intentions of the Italian government in this area?

Competition

22)    How does the government intend to strengthen the Competition Authority’s “tools of intervention with a view to preventing inconsistency between the promotion of a level-playing field and regulations at the regional and local level”?

23)  As regards the annual law on competition, the letter underlines that measures on the fuel distribution sector and the compulsory vehicle insurance sector have been/are currently being taken through other legislative means than the adoption of this annual law. Does this mean that the annual law on competition itself, which also covers postal and transport services (i.e. passenger railways, motorways and airports) and energy distribution, will not be adopted?

24)  The letter refers to “measures to strengthen the opening of professions and local public services”. Could the government provide more details about the contents of these measures and the concerned sectors? Do we understand correctly that there is the intention to remove entry barriers to professions? In addition, the euro summit statement (26 October 2011) mentions that Italy is committed to “abolishing minimum tariffs in professional services” but this is not included in the letter. What are the intentions of the Italian government on this subject?

25)  Could further information be provided to explain which reform measures are envisaged in the water sector, despite the outcomes of the recent referendum?

Entrepreneurship and innovation

26)  What measures is the government envisaging to promote the capitalisation of firms? Do we understand correctly that the government is considering introducing an Allowance for Corporate Equity? If so, would this be restricted to new investment?

27)  How will the government’s ambition to “turn crisis areas into development areas” be translated into concrete measures?

28)  Could further information be provided on concrete measures aimed at stimulating SMEs’ R&D activity, including their estimated budgetary impact?

Regulatory and administrative simplification

29)    Could further information be provided on the concrete regulatory simplification measures (particularly targeted at SMEs) that have been envisaged to identify and remove redundant legislation and administrative regulations, and on concrete ways to improve the quality of existing legislation and regulation?

30) What exactly will the role of the “Local Office of Government” be?

Modernisation of public administration

31)    When will the Commission for the Evaluation, Transparency and Integrity of public administrations be fully operational? What will this Commission be in charge of?

32)  When will the measures concerning staff (compulsory staff mobility; short-time working; overhauling of staff numbers) be fully operational? Could the government provide more details on how these measures will be implemented? In particular, could the government describe the transitory arrangements referred to in the letter for the transfer of the Provinces’ personnel to regions and municipalities?

33)  Could further information be provided on the progress made in the implementation of the “Brunetta” reform in terms of i) the introduction of performance-related pay and career advancement and accountability of administrators for results; and ii) the possibility to file class action lawsuits against public sector inefficiencies?

Justice

34)    Could further information be provided on the specific measures that have been envisaged to improve the efficiency in the administration of civil justice?

35)    Could further information be provided on the mandate of the technical group at the Ministry of Justice?

Infrastructure and construction

36)  Could the policy of the government in relation to airports, port facilities and exceptional road transport be better laid out?

Constitutional reforms

37)  Could the government provide more details on the features of the envisaged reforms (other than on the introduction of a Constitutional balanced budget rule, which is covered by question 6 above)?

3 8) To what extent do the reforms of the political institutions entail expenditure savings?

39) Could the government provide more details on the measures aimed at improving the governance of the country through the reduction in the number of Members of Parliament and the enhancement of decision making arrangements, as well as of the role of the government and the majority?

Sanctuary and hot air balloons

November 17, 2011

Although sanctuary laws hold no legal standing nowadays, at least in the UK, Politicians are reluctant to invade church grounds for fear of criticism here and abroad.

This is presumably why extremist Islamic preachers are allowed to incite hatred for Christians in some UK mosques.

I imagine that The City of London Corporation strongly associates  itself with The Established Church and would be reluctant to invade St Pauls. I am just as sure that The Church would be reluctant to allow any action to be taken against anyone claiming Sanctuary.

In America, where God is invoked everywhere, it is obviously Mammon that rules, with its politicians paying lip service to the masonic principles of the founding fathers, whilst making daily homage to the Dow-Jones.

Those, who wish to protest about this situation by occupying Wall Street would do best by turning the real faith of their rulers against them. Buy property in prominent places and use it to advertise their disquiet. An illuminated sign in Times Square could receive as much notice as the OWS protest, used well.

A blimp, anchored on a mobile truck, could become “the ghost at the feast” of every major political rally, or international event.

What would happen if a hot air balloon landed in Wall Street, ascending again, as soon as police arrived.

Protestors need to think outside the box (and find some sponsors).