Archive for July, 2013

#NHS Singapore has a cheaper Health Service but not because it charges, as this piece purports.

July 30, 2013

I downloaded this from my Fullermoney  investor’s newssheet. It’s content is interesting but it’s the slanted view of the writer that took my attention, because my view is slanted differently. The final paragraph sums up the view of the witer, rather than the content.

Remove all the text in BOLD to get the original piece

Healthcare is the biggest long-term policy issue facing governments worldwide.

(G8 in 1980’s, agreed to privatisation of Health and Education, that’s why it’s worldwide)

It’s immensely expensive, and getting costlier. People demand much more of it, and of higher quality, but expect others to pick up most of the cost. Because of the scale of the industry (not a service, then?) and the numbers of workers required, it’s a managerial nightmare.

(Translation: The poor expect to be cosseted at my expense, instead of just shuffling off and dying quietly)

No country seems to have come up with a credible approach to dealing with this growing problem… except perhaps one.

Singapore’s amazing success is conveyed by this metric: It spends less than 4 per cent of its GDP (annual economic output) on healthcare compared to almost 18 per cent in the US, yet its system is ranked by the World Health Organization as the sixth best in the world (Britain’s is ranked 18th, America’s 37th ).

  GDP $B pop. GDP ($)per capita
singapore 274.7 5,310,000 51733
usa 15684.8 316,345,000 49581
uk 2431.6 63,181,775 38486

I’ve inserted this little spreadsheet to show up the implied lie. As can be seen Singapore is spending considerably more on health in term of GDP per person, The writer was not comparing Like with Like

The life expectancy of Singaporeans is now two to three years longer than the citizens of the US or the UK.  Its newborn mortality rate is less than one per thousand live births (it’s four in the US and Canada ). Its survival rates from cancer and cardiovascular disease treatment are among the world’s best. And almost 80 per cent of patients treated at hospitals and clinics are so satisfied they would recommend them to others.

(OK. Agreed. This is what we should strive to emulate in terms of outcome; doesn’t mean we have to travel the road about to be laid down)

All this at remarkably low expense. Singapore is world leader at keeping costs under control. When last surveyed in 2008, public spending on healthcare was about $600 a year per person, compared to $3,500 in the US, $2,600 in the UK, $2,300 in Japan, with healthcare accounting for about 8 per cent of total government expenditure.

Many parts Of US don’t offer any health care for the unemployed, so their figure seems way too high. Maybe their hospitals charge more to cover lawsuits etc. Not comparing like with like

How has this been achieved, and what lessons can be drawn by policymakers of other countries? William Heseltine, a medical academic, explains (proposes?) in considerable detail in a new book*.

The key is a system that expects and to some extent forces individuals to accept responsibility for the expense of healthcare for themselves and their families, restraining costs and encouraging them to follow healthy lifestyles.

This is backed up by government measures to prevent exploitation by the private sector in supply of medical services

I propose that this is the KEY to the low costs. bearing in mind how many of our politicians have a personal interest in maintaining high prices.

support for the weakest members of society, and well-co-ordinated long-term state planning for expanding and improving the system

UK Govt is dismantling NHS as part of privatisation plans., so not planning for a co-ordinated service but a fragmentation to enable transaction charging.

Finally his intended conclusion is, by circular logic:

The fundamental approach is that “a welfare system, or an entitlement mentality, has no place in Singapore”. The focus is on “individual responsibility and self-reliance on the part of the citizenry in all personal matters, including healthcare.”


Don’t be a Gov’t stooge #Occupy

July 29, 2013

Over the years I’ve noticed various protest groups gaining strong supportive publicity and generous donations. These have linked in with Government/political wish for public opinion to move in that direction.

We now have Western Gov’t’s (G20)  concerned about tighter control of the masses, through invasive snooping, surveillance, interception of communications and blanket CCTV (to which we are not allowed access)

Their big concern is the use of the Internet by the masses to inform each other of Government actions.

Such democratic interaction makes it difficult for lazy and/or oppressive control of the populace. This interaction has led to the Arab Spring, various popular uprisings (e.g. Brazil)  and the spread of the Occupy movement around the world

Governments are trying desperately to seize control of the Internet but have learned in China and elsewhere that this can not be done, simply by edict.

Apart from the likes of Google and Twitter not being prepared to lose business and pay the cost of supporting such meddling, there are hacktivists, who can circumvent and subvert such attempts, with popular support.

It is well documented that UK and US political parties have invested heavily in research into moulding public opinion, sharing idea’s and using these techniques in their election campaigns and, now, as part of their Globalisation of privatisation of State assets.

In recent months we have seen a campaign, now openly backed by David Cameron, “following public opinion”  to prevent access to child porn over the Internet.

Nobody can argue with the need to stop this filth but the overwhelming public outrage against such people has given politicians a foot in the door.

Cameron hasn’t just called for prosecution of these people, he’s called for a block on all porn.

My immediate concern was for the “opt-out proposal”, which reminded me of the opt-out clause offered by the Nazi’s in Holland, whereby those who didn’t deny being Jewish would be automatically labelled as Jewish, on the I.D. cards, issued by the Nazi’s during German occupation of that country.

I later found this :

This is less subtle than I have proposed.
According to Wired:

    As well as pornography, users may automatically be opted in to blocks on “violent material”, “extremist related content”, “anorexia and eating disorder websites” and “suicide related websites”, “alcohol” and “smoking”. But the list doesn’t stop there. It even extends to blocking “web forums” and “esoteric material“, whatever that is. “Web blocking circumvention tools” is also included, of course.

The definition of “esoteric” makes clear that censorship of broad topics is the goal of this so-called ISP filter:

    es·o·ter·ic [es-uh-ter-ik] adjective
    1. understood by or meant for only the select few who have special knowledge or interest;
    2. belonging to the select few.
    3. private; secret; confidential.

Translation: anything outside the acceptable mainstream narrative will be filtered. In short, the free flow of information is under assault with this law.

This will be pushed by various women’s groups, as simply protecting children.

Feminist groups will probably be encouraged to add their voice by wanting a ban on “exploitation of women”, “simulated rape” and “violence against women”

Ignoring the fact that such films will still be made and viewed, the relevant Government empowerment will ostensibly be with popular support and the moral blackmail of any opposition.

Another line of attack is to be against Twitter, which is a platform for popular opinion to be expressed and snowball into campaigns.

The recent “rape threat” against the lady who “got” Jane Austen onto the new £10 note, could be a first step in such a campaign

There is a double Irony here.

a) the petition to take action against Twitter was based on the supposition that The Law did not apply (despite poor Sally Bercow’s over-the-top punishment for an indiscrete tweet)

b) the speedy, 12,500 signature petition was only possible through Twitter.

Nevertheless there is now a case for the Governmebt to step in and propose legislation forcing Twitter to block anyone that the Government takes exception to, with similar add-ons to those proposed for Google’s blocks.

If you are concerned about feminist issues, please do not be a Government stooge, Fight for more effective action against bullies and pervert’s and don’t voluntarily surrender your freedom of action.

You could wake up one day and find yourself being prosecuted for calling on some top politician to be investigated for a sex-crime.


@gstringermp Why there is confusion on Scientific support for climate change

July 26, 2013

I was prompted to this blog piece by G. Stringer, MP, trying to get a clarification, from a witterer, about the justification for Climatologists proclamations, during a select committee inquiry.

You and I KNOW that if we drop an egg on rocky ground, it will smash. we KNOW that it will not re-assemble and jump back in your hand.

Scientists are taught that, in theory it could do just that.

This causes a problem amongst Scientists, who want to maintain the rigour of the Scientific approach and those, who want to “get real”. I.e. reject that rigour, where it is in conflict with Human experience and the utility of Science.

All Scientists have some sympathy with the “get real” approach but a group of American Scientists have wanted to push this lack of rigour further, where there is a presumption of serious danger.

This is where the discussion of risk comes in.

Consider the case of the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Scientists can analyse and predict both the probability of such an incident occuring again and a likely time interval, in which it will happen (but with the rider that there’s no guarantee of it ever happening).

The probability of such an asteroid of the same, or greater, mass hitting the Earth, in the near future, is extremely low but, if it did happen, it would mean the possible extinction of mankind.

This has prompted some Scientists to propose that such risks must be given more emphasis than less important ones. Consider; micro-meteorites are entering the Earth’s atmosphere everyday and are harmless. Brick size meteorites quite frequently impact and could pose a danger to individuals but, in terms of human existence, these are not important enough to take action on.

In this respect there seems to be a case for claiming that the risk factor is more important than the verifiability of the odds of it happening and that we should plan, as if they were a clear and imminent danger.

The situation with the island of Las Palmas De Gran Canaria is even more critical, as the likelihood of half the island slipping into the Atlantic is virtually certain and the predicted time range, includes the present.

The USA is already taking some measures to cope with the anticipated Tsunami but politically any effective action is virtually impossible. Millions will die, along the Eastern Seaboard of the America’s. Here in the UK, the Tsunami will kill many (possibly 10,000’s) but no preparation will be afforded.

The lack of any effective action in the above situation has been exacerbated by the problem of Global Warming, which has been picked up by politicians and assumed the mantle of a Gospel with Climatologists as high priests.

Climatologists have career’s dependent on perpetuating the fear’s associated with Global Warming and placing the blame on the burning of fossil fuels. (my own view, based on the associated political pantomime, is that the Oil companies and politician’s funded the hysteria to push the plebs into a reduction of fossil fuel usage but are now back-pedalling as Shale-gas has reduced the likelihood of an Energy Crisis).

Putting aside the truth about that “presumptive danger”, it is obvious that the more valid presumptive danger’s, such as Las Palmas have been lost sight of and thus nullified the initial, quite reasonable proposition of rating such events based on their probability, combined with probable impact on Human Life.

For me the climate change industry has done Humanity a disservice.  Climate change may come, regardless of whether, or not, we stop burning fossil fuels.

There is no imminent danger to life.

There is a case, however for adapting and planning to cope with the change, by, for instance, pushing for Civilisation to be removed to higher ground and away from potential flooding.

We, in the uk, could plan for new towns, with transport access, to be built above 100 feet, as and when needed. This would be especially relevant near the River Severn, where the Las Palmas tsunami would hit.

Instead of concentrating more people into London, where the Thames Barrier is barely enough to prevent flooding, at present, we should think about moving administration to a more central position, north of the M6/M1 junction. H.o.P. can stay in London for ceremonial functions.

Forget Carbon footprints and analyse the greater potential calamities.

Decide to what extent we could minimise the dangers, without sacrificing elsewhere.

#Martinsmoneytips we could do with a site warning of unfair T&C’s

July 24, 2013

I think T&C’s are a big problem.

Not that they exist but that they often seem designed to trap you with unexpected conditions, which the writer doesn’t want you to be aware of.

I’m talking about contracts with the devil but just simply, the sort of thing, which lies in the small print on adverts, or the garbled flurry of words used in telesales.

In the specific case of insurance, most insurance companies are just middle men for brokers at Lloyd’s (their “Names” are, it seems, rich parasites, such as judges and Landowner’s, who operate like bookies and set the odds available). The point being that their T&C’s are the basis of the ones that your chosen insurer bases his T&C’s on. This means that “reputable” insurer’s have virtually the same exclusions, excesses etc., with the fly-boys adding a few extra well-hidden exclusion’s.

It should be possible for someone with the expertise to sort through these contracts and prick out all the snide bits. This thought prompted the following e-mail to Martinsmoneytips.

The program “Don’t get done, get Dom” highlighted the problem of exclusion clauses on insurance policies.
In the case covered, the relevant clause was on p.16 of the T&C’s. for three different insurances, presumably because they are all written by the same brokers.
It is obviously a pain trying to second guess exclusions to look out for, even if you are literate and painstaking.
It would be a help for patrons of Martin’s Money Tips, if you did a quick look-up table of the exclusions on the various types of insurance by the various insurance companies.

@David_Cameron another way how Goldmann-Sachs et al are screwing us. #occupy

July 23, 2013

Another tidbit from Fullermoney, Banks rigging prices with a sort of salami slicing manoeuvre.

Their politicians must know about this, they have so many bank ex-employees in their ranks.

MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. – Hundreds of millions of times a day, thirsty Americans open a can of soda, beer or juice. And every time they do it, they pay a fraction of a penny more because of a shrewd maneuver by Goldman Sachs and other financial players that ultimately costs consumers billions of dollars.

The story of how this works begins in 27 industrial warehouses in the Detroit area where a Goldman subsidiary stores customers’ aluminum. Each day, a fleet of trucks shuffles 1,500-pound bars of the metal among the warehouses. Two or three times a day, sometimes more, the drivers make the same circuits. They load in one warehouse. They unload in another. And then they do it again.

This industrial dance has been choreographed by Goldman to exploit pricing regulations set up by an overseas commodities exchange, an investigation by The New York Times has found. The back-and-forth lengthens the storage time. And that adds many millions a year to the coffers of Goldman, which owns the warehouses and charges rent to store the metal. It also increases prices paid by manufacturers and consumers across the country.

Tyler Clay, a forklift driver who worked at the Goldman warehouses until early this year, called the process “a merry-go-round of metal.”

Only a tenth of a cent or so of an aluminum can’s purchase price can be traced back to the strategy. But multiply that amount by the 90 billion aluminum cans consumed in the United States each year – and add the tons of aluminum used in things like cars, electronics and house siding – and the efforts by Goldman and other financial players has cost American consumers more than $5 billion over the last three years, say former industry executives, analysts and consultants.

The inflated aluminum pricing is just one way that Wall Street is flexing its financial muscle and capitalizing on loosened federal regulations to sway a variety of commodities markets, according to financial records, regulatory documents and interviews with people involved in the activities.

The maneuvering in markets for oil, wheat, cotton, coffee and more have brought billions in profits to investment banks like Goldman, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley, while forcing consumers to pay more every time they fill up a gas tank, flick on a light switch, open a beer or buy a cellphone. In the last year, federal authorities have accused three banks, including JPMorgan, of rigging electricity prices, and last week JPMorgan was trying to reach a settlement that could cost it $500 million.

Summer at last. Spare a thought for cafe worker’s with insensitive employer’s

July 22, 2013

I was propmpted to send in this letter to the Daily Express, because my wife, who works in a cafe was coming home in a terrible state. She normally wants to cool down in normal weather but in the present situation, she was physically stressed.

I’ve worked for organisations, which respond quickly to conditions which impair employee efficiency and/or health but I’ve also worked for those where employee’s are just numbers and treat them the same way Wilkinsons treats the plants it sells.

I was hoping that the letter would prompt a piece by The Express, which might nudge the bosses of such organisations.

It didn’t work.

Sadly, this splendid weather is being marred by the death’s of people, whose memories of such conditions, have failed to prepare them to enjoy and survive them.
We can cope with such conditions, when abroad, because we are on holiday and have no commitments. Unfortunately, at home, we do have commitments, at work, in travel and in hospital appointments.
Would you print a feature reminding employers that while they may be in air-conditioned offices, with fans on full blst, they may have employee’s and colleagues working in normally very hot conditions.
For instance canteen staff, may be preparing salads but there will be enough customers wanting cooked foods to ensure that canteen workers are often cooking themselves.
Employers in glassworks and hospitals will, probably, already be ensuring ample supplies of water (or orange juice) and salt tablet’s are available but it might not occur to Supermarket Managers, or Bank bosses.
It might also be a good idea if HR departments, especially in large stores, had a supply of refrigerated towels and ice packs available, for vulnerable customers suffering heat stroke.
As a last comment, if I suffer a headache, in hot Sunny conditions, I place my head under cold running water, until I feel the chill.
Sadly, obvious, but, woefully, often forgotten points in these rare conditions.

Name and shame MP’s opposing a referendum

July 22, 2013

I sent this to the Daily Express:

The report, that some MP’s are filibustering the bill to let us have a referendum on the  EU, is depressing.
It’s bad enough that such a referendum would not be possible before 2017; by which time our country would be in such a sad state that we would be beyond caring.
It seems that these politicians only “believe” in Democracy and The Will of The People, every 5 years, when they come begging us to vote them back into a seat on the Parliamentary Gravy Train.
Could you, as a newspaper, make it clear, at the run-up to the next General Election, which MP’s genuinely care about our wishes, by printing the names of all MP’s, who have presented an opposition to a Referendum.
This could be followed up by a list of all candidates, who are in favour of a Democratic vote.
It might help focus the minds of those trying to delay the bill, if their names and pictures were featured now.
 The printed version wasn’t too different:

Focus the minds of MPs trying to foil referendum

IT is depressing to read that some MPs are seemingly filibustering the bill to let us have a referendum on the EU (” `Plotters trying to stall EU vote”‘, July 19).

Labour and Lib Dem MPs have tabled a string of amendments to a private member’s bill in an apparent attempt to stall its progress through Parliament.

It’s bad enough that such a referendum would not be possible before 2017, by which time our country would be in such a sad state that we would be beyond caring.

It seems that these politicians `believe’ in democracy and the will of the people only every five years when they come begging us to vote them back into a seat on the Parliamentary gravy train.

In the run-up to the next general election we need to know which MPs genuinely care about our wishes and which have presented some opposition to a referendum.

It might help focus the minds of those trying to delay the bill if their names and pictures were published.


Fuller Money: Globally Labour is getting screwed and there’s more to come.

July 21, 2013

I took this from my Fullermoney newsletter:

Bernard McAlinden: ESN Fundamental Value Monitor

Earnings have recently been seeing a cyclical recovery as severe recessionary conditions in the global economy have given way to a renewed expansion (albeit erratic and geographically uneven). Underlying structural developments will be key to the extent and sustainability of the earnings recovery as global cyclical conditions continue to improve (albeit erratically).

Over recent years, corporate earnings have benefited from major sustained structural forces. Globalisation, free trade, migration, the opening of China, technology advance, the spread of capitalism, etc have greatly enhanced the supply and productivity of labour on a worldwide basis progressively since around the mid 1990’s. The bargaining power of capital relative to labour has therefore seen major sustained improvement and margins / returns on capital have expanded accordingly. These structural forces are currently sustaining US earnings at higher levels than would otherwise be cyclically consistent with a still anaemic economic expansion and are sustaining European earnings at a higher level than would otherwise be cyclically compatible with the ongoing recessionary environment in Europe.

In the established environment of increasingly free and efficient global markets, it is inevitable that market forces would eventually compete margins and returns back down to the long run required levels, whereupon the cyclically neutral level of earnings would structurally revert towards the long run trend line. On the assumption that the forces of globalisation etc are unlikely to go into reverse, it would take ongoing reflation of the global economy to achieve such structural mean reversion. Global final/consumer demand would have to expand to the point where global labour markets tighten sufficiently to allow labour to claw back some pricing power at the expense of capital. Meanwhile, the outlook needs to be bright enough to tempt the global corporate sector to more aggressively chase the supernormal returns on offer by stepping up capital spending to create sufficient new capacity to eventually compromise the pricing power of capital relative to labour. Periods of cyclical economic weakness such as the recent “great recession”, when worries focused on the risk of demand deflation, put earnings under significant downward cyclical pressure, but also delay any structural mean reversionary process because they weaken the labour market while restraining investment in new capacity by the corporate sector.   The success of companies in aggressively managing costs and defending margins in the recent recessionary conditions suggests that the structural environment is still quite favourable for earnings with capital maintaining pricing power at the expense of labour. US earnings had recently been recovering surprisingly quickly from their headlong collapse below the 32-year trend line. They are already back well above trend but are now suffering from more recent deceleration in the economy. However, they can yet make new highs if, as we expect, the economy continues its cyclical recovery. European earnings are once again under recessionary pressure due to the Eurozone debt crisis, but will ultimately be governed by the same global structural and cyclical forces that pertain to the US.

In short, we expect that an ongoing (albeit erratic) cyclical expansion in the global economy can yet push earnings to new cyclical highs as there are few signs yet that mean reversionary forces have begun to undermine the structurally favourable environment for profitability. We nonetheless consider it prudent to assume that the structural benefit to margins has peaked and that eventual structural mean reversion of profitability will ultimately create a significant structural headwind for earnings.

My summation is keeping filling your boots lads, the Labour market is so broken that we can expect profit margins to keep increasing without more goods being sold, because Labour is going to be getting screwed further and for longer, Globally. (God bless G20 politician’s)

The Stella awards (the future of British judiciary?)

July 17, 2013


STELLA AWARDS: It’s time again for the annual ‘Stella Awards’! For those unfamiliar with these awards, they are named after 81-year-old Stella Liebeck who spilled hot coffee on herself and successfully sued the McDonald’s in New Mexico , where she purchased coffee. You remember, she took the lid off the coffee and put it between her knees while she was driving. Who would ever think one could get burned doing that, right? That’s right; these are awards for the most outlandish lawsuits and verdicts in the U.S. You know, the kinds of cases that make you scratch your head. So keep your head scratcher handy.
Here are the Stellas for year — 2012:

Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas was awarded $80,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The store owners were understandably surprised by the verdict, considering the running toddler was her own son

Start scratching!
Carl Truman, 19, of Los Angeles, California won $74,000 plus medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Truman apparently didn’t notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbor’s hubcaps.
Scratch some more…

Terrence Dickson, of Bristol, Pennsylvania, who was leaving a house he had just burglarized by way of the garage. Unfortunately for Dickson, the automatic garage door opener malfunctioned and he could not get the garage door to open. Worse, he couldn’t re-enter the house because the door connecting the garage to the house locked when Dickson pulled it shut. Forced to sit for eight, count ’em, EIGHT days and survive on a case of Pepsi and a large bag of dry dog food, he sued the homeowner’s insurance company claiming undue mental Anguish. Amazingly, the jury said the insurance company must pay Dickson $500,000 for his anguish. We should all have this kind of anguish; Keep scratching. There are more…

Double hand scratching after this one..

Jerry Williams, of Little Rock, Arkansas, garnered 4th Place in the Stella’s when he was awarded $14,500 plus medical expenses after being bitten on the butt by his next door neighbor’s beagle – even though the beagle was on a chain in its owner’s fenced yard. Williams did not get as much as he asked for because the jury believed the beagle might have been provoked at the time of the butt bite because Williams had climbed over the fence into the yard and repeatedly shot the dog with a pellet gun.

Pick a new spot to scratch, you’re getting a bald spot..
Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania because a jury ordered a Philadelphia restaurant to pay her $113,500 after she slipped on a spilled soft drink and broke her tailbone. The reason the soft drink was on the floor: Ms. Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument. Only two more so ease up on the scratching…

Kara Walton, of Claymont, Delaware sued the owner of a night club in a nearby city because she fell from the bathroom window to the floor, knocking out her two front teeth. Even though Ms. Walton was trying to sneak through the ladies room window to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge, the jury said the night club had to pay her $12,000….oh, yeah, plus dental expenses. Go figure.

Ok. Here we go!!


This year’s runaway First Place Stella Award winner was: Mrs. Merv Grazinski, of Oklahoma City , Oklahoma , who purchased new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home, from an OU football game, having driven on to the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver’s seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owner’s manual that she couldn’t actually leave the driver’s seat while the cruise control was set. The Oklahoma jury awarded her, are you sitting down?
$1,750,000 PLUS a new motor home; Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski has any relatives who might also buy a motor home.

On Twitter, we are all experts…..truth

July 14, 2013

A recent tweet expressed the opinion that we all seem to think we are experts and we are all expressing our diverse opinions on Twitter, as if we know what we are talking about. Another tweet  concurred and added that it was worse, when stupid people expressed their opinions.

Quite apart from the inherent  irony, they miss the point that we are all, genuinely experts.

Even the most uneducated and unsophisticated person is an expert, based on their particular life experience.  There is a saying “Don’t condemn a man, until you have walked a mile in his shoes”, which sort of expresses the same idea.

My opinions are based on my processing of facts, rejecting or accepting “facts”, according to my experience of their likely validity. How trustworthy similar factoids from similar sources have proven to be.

Your opinions have been formed in a similar way.

The same is true of the, to me, crass opinions of dockers, who I have heard arguing in a pub, where I worked as a barman. Dockers, who felt that their repeating a statement three times, in progressively louder tones,  constituted an irrefutable argument. In fact, more or less the same sort of imparting of information witnessed on BBC’s Newsnight, when some weasel politician recites his facts to Paxman in more urbane tones and in slightly more convoluted language.

We ARE all experts. We may not all agree and we may not all be absolutely right, in what we believe and assert, but we are experts and as we express our opinions, they become modified by our reacting to the opinions of those we communicate with. Thus we become more expert. The result is that the combined consensus is usually the best opinion.

It’s the principle on which juries are based and the reason why we need Juries to be randomly selected.

There is one caveat. We have to watch out for the professional truth distorter’s, where Twitter is concerned.

We have the Party Press corps tweeting away but we also have professional trolls, working for them. Such people need to be met head-on.

They are usually educated and seem to have prepared scripts to use against anyone, who expresses the “wrong” opinions.

Some can be recognised by their inability to argue a case, without returning to their scripted responses. (Rather like many of the politicians, interviewed on TV, trying to defend an indefensible position.).

You will never persuade them to switch position but the to and fro’ of debate allows on-lookers to pick up on and judge the views being expressed. You may have a weak argument and the on-lookers may be dockers, or your intellectual superiors. It doesn’t matter; they will interpret what they see through their own truth filters and refine their opinion.

If the truth distorter’s are allowed to go unchallenged, then their lies are strengthened and what they want to be believed becomes the truth for us all.

If you’re not sure of someone, go to their profile and see what else they are tweeting. Check out their followers and who they are following.  Trolls tend to become apparent very quickly.

Confront them and keep expressing your own opinions, because they are based on your life experiences and that is what makes you an expert.