One Morning In The Office Take 2

Aside

One Morning In The Office

@realdonaldtrump

"Sean"
"Mr President."
"Good press conference"
"I thought so to."
"Why no questions though?"
"That would have been difficult."
""Why?"
"Well Sir I followed your instructions about fake news."
"Good so you banned all the organisations that have written a story that was not true."
"Yes Sir."
"And..."
"There's no one left."
"No one?"
"No one?"
"So how are the American people going to hear about all the great things I've been doing?"
"I've lined up some replacements they'll be here in the morning if we can get them an exemption."
"Oh good, what exemption?"
"They're due in school so we need permission to take them out of class and bring them in."
"Understandable which college, Yale, Standford?"
"No Mr President we have representatives from Washington Kindergarten Grade 1."
"Will they be positive?"
"As long as they have a choice of colours with the crayons they have asked us to supply."

 

One Morning In The Office

Shamelessly carried over from a Goodreads forum but wanted a bit more visibility.

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/18458920-one-morning-in-the-office—a-satire

Ring ring ring
"Please press 1 for current orders, two for new orders three for accounts and four for any other reason"
"Rex, is this a new order, I thought we tried to order this last week."
"The web site crashed."
"I better select two then."
Twenty minutes later....
"Customer Service, Blanche speaking how can I help you today we have special offers on roofing and nails for details please see..."
Five minutes later
"How can I help?"
"I'd like to order some bricks"
"No problem, Sir, we can do that or you can try on-line"
"I couldn't get the site to accept my order."
"Sorry about that Sir, I just need to go through a few details."
"Well I don't have much time."
"It won't take long. Have you ordered from us before."
"No, I don't think so."
"All our bricks are baked in America and conform to EPA standards."
"Good to see American jobs for American people for America let's make it great again."
"Quite. What are the bricks for?"
"A wall."
"Is that a supporting wall, a building wall or a garden wall?"
"There's a difference?"
"Oh yes they have different properties a building wall might be external facing or interior"
"I think it's closest to a garden wall a barrier really."
"I see, well we have some basic standard bricks they are 3 and 5/8 by 2 and 1/4 by 8 inches."
"Yeah I saw that on the web site."
"So how high is your wall going to be?"
"Twenty feet."
"Wow, that's a big garden wall."
"Yep, gonna keep them bad dudes out."
"Are you in a high crime area? Can I interest you in our razor wire or intrusion detection systems."
"Just the bricks for now."
"So you'll need at least 120 rows depending on foundations."
"Foundations?"
"Yes you'll need to dig down to make sure the wall has solid foundations. You can do that with concrete. It also prevents varmints digging under the wall."
"People can tunnel under?"
"Normally its raccoons or other pests."
"What about Mexicans?"
"Sir, no racist profiling please or I'll have to call my supervisor. A wall with good foundations can prevent some tunneling but how deep do you want to go?"
 Mumbled "Do it with mines or concrete."
"I think concrete would be a good idea. We can supply that as well."
"Stick to the bricks."
"So how long is your wall going to be?"
"1,900."
"Wow that is big. So we have 1900 feet which is 2850 bricks by 120 high which is 342,000 which is 684 pallets of 500 call it 700 for spares.
"Err..."
"Mr President..."
"Not now Rex."
"We discount orders over 50 pallets so I make that 700 at $200 bucks that would be $140,000 that would make my day Sir if you go ahead. I might be able to get an extra 5% off or free delivery. What's the delivery address?
"Er lets start in San Diego."
"OK do you have a zip?"
"Mr President it's 1900 miles not feet?"
"What did you say Rex?"
"Miles Sir not 1,900 feet."
"Oh, sorry Ma'am I got the length wrong it's 1900 miles."
"No problem I'll just stick that in the systems..."
Very long pause
"That's 15,048,000 bricks long by 120 high that's.."
"A lot."
"1,805,760,000 er I think you may be pulling my leg."
"No I'm serious I promised to build it and I'm going to."
"Sir the entire US Brick production last year was only about 2 billion bricks"
"Is that not enough? I always get confused between billions and millions." 
"That explains the tax returns."
"Shut up Rex."

 

 

 

Trump – Spot The Difference Competition

Spot the difference competition for all readers…

29906170001_5293742523001_5293734054001-vs navypromocertsignhitler-03

Hitler was democratically elected so was Trump – Hitler won 43.9% of popular vote in March 1933. Trump won 45.9% in November 2016

Hitler favoured edicts and decrees – so apparently does Trump based on evidence since inauguration – even ones that have a law for them e.g. No torture congressional law

I make no other comparison

Long Distance Travel

I thought I would ruminate on the /Cynicism On joy \Cynicism off, of the experience of long distance holidaying. This is one of those long-standing and building rants that has turned what used to be a mildly irritating, but ultimately fulfilling activity, into a nightmare of tiredness and bureaucracy. As an example I will use my recent experience of traveling to the lovely country of Thailand for a holiday.

For the purposes of this exercise I will also skip over the endless search through holiday company web sites for a suitable break meeting certain criteria although I am convinced that not one employee or web designer of these holiday sites has actually used the system for their own break.

I could wax lyrically about the joys of on-line check in and seat allocation on Emirates but I want the blog to be shorter than the actual holiday. Suffice to say that as per holiday shopping sites someone needs to be hired who actually knows how ordinary people use the system. So I can change my seat allocated (no choice at booking) up to an unknown time before for a fee, undisclosed. At on-line check-in 48 hrs before the flight I can then change my seat (and accompanying passengers on same booking) to whatever seats are available, zero in my case, because no one else has tried to change this. The system may be an improvement on first come first served at the airport check-in desk but ease of use is not obvious. We then have the boarding pass fiasco. Email, printed out, phone display if security have not stolen your phone, or all three then on baggage drop off – where you effectively check-in anyway, we got new seats and boarding passes. But I’m jumping ahead.

At this stage we have a holiday booked and have on-line checked in. Now we come to the great how do we get to the airport and what time do we go. Long-haul advice is 3 hours before. Presuming the M3 is not closed, (see way back) for the 18 months of roadworks, that have so far lasted 30 months and are still not finished. The airport, Heathrow is within driving distance, for taxi or car, we can set off. We live just over thirty miles from the airport so we had a taxi (cheaper than parking) or train – add 2 hrs plus need to get to train station.)

18:00 Zulu or GMT – Taxi arrives

This arrived on time unlike last holiday. Due to the planets being aligned and a following wind it only took fifty minutes to travel the 30 miles despite 19 miles of 50 mph roadwork restrictions. I mean single lane roads have 60 why 50 in one way coned slightly narrower motorway with no one working – a regular occurrence which is why 18 month project has so far taken 30. Still at least motorway is open.

18:50 Z – Arrive Heathrow Terminal 3.

Baggage drop off is not open for our flight until 3 hrs before even though we are told to arrive 3 hours before! Still it’s only a few minutes to wait in the queue (line for Americans). We now have the check-in which is not a check-in but still checks passport and tickets. Get new boarding passes.

Go through airport security – main reason we are told it takes hours and to arrive early. Under five minutes (blimey I thought I was dreaming but I can strip and get Kindle, iPad and phone out of bag and into trays pretty quickly) including removing every metallic object on me (except fillings) including shoes, wallet, change, belt. Alarm still goes off – go through body-scanner and hand swipe. Redress

19:20 Z – Departure Hall

What used to be a series of seats is now the Heathrow duty free shopping experience. Every price is more than it cost to get delivered from Amazon. What used to be good deals on booze and fags is now some mecca to madness. We decide to get something to eat to wait the two hrs we have spare till boarding. Food ok drinks over-priced – so much for duty free. Sit around or browsing shops complaining about poor value for money. We can check Amazon whilst in shop as comparison.

21:25 Z – Gate

Go to gate – pass through gate but it’s not the gate – show passport and boarding cards. Go through to boarding lounge. Sit in gate waiting for boarding zone to be called. Emirates ground staff call zone. Ignored by passengers who all rush to board. Then thankfully they get told to wait till their zone is called but they still stand in way. Board plane show boarding pass again

22:00 Z – Scheduled flight time

Still boarding. Doors close 22:15 push back and take off at 22:30

04:30 Z – 08:30 Dubai or Delta time – Arrive Dubai

Disembark – Transit passengers go through security. We’ve just come off a plane for xxxx sake! Repeat process of security at Heathrow but add in pat down by bored security guard. Wait 3 hrs – more non-shopping look at these bargains before repeat of boarding process/fiasco as before. Push back engine start almost on time. Sit on tarmac for 1hr due to air display for Dubai National Day. Clearly not heard of air traffic control

16:00 Z – 23:00 Thailand or Gulf time – Arrive Thailand Phuket

18:30 Z – Leave airport.

Thai immigration – check passport – has 4 planes arrive yet puts only 3 immigration staff on but 3 supervisors who watch. 2 hrs in immigration queue. Get personal transfer car to resort. Pouring down with rain – this is supposed to be dry season! Stopped by Thai police who check our passports – again.

19:45 Z – 02:30 Thailand Time – Arrive in hotel room

Yes we are on holiday!

Fun, good food, lovely beaches, very nice people – not in immigration service. Half way through transfer hotels.img_0107p1030244 img_0165

On-line check-in – same problem with seats can’t print boarding passes over hotel Wi-Fi by pool.

22:00 Z – 05:00 Day of departure

Personal transfer pick up and leave for airport – told over one hour actual 45 mins on empty (except one street’s prostitutes) roads

22:45 Z – 05:45 Check in

Can’t as more than 3 hrs before but need to go through terminal baggage security first. Suitcases open for lots of passengers. Wife gets stuck other side as something in check-in baggage needs to be taken out, wait 15 minutes, seats allocated and baggage drop off by friendly staff.

Security passport and boarding cards – clothes off, scanned clothes back on – not a lot of shopping, have coffee in 28c heat – lovely – do we have to leave?

Wait till boarding same process / fiasco as before. Take-off 20 mins late

+ 6:30 hrs – Arrive Dubai – as above yes including passport and security check for transit – joys of internal train to different terminal.

+ 2:30 hrs – Board for Heathrow

As above, only more gates and called into first gate area by zone where we all then mix then called by zone again fighting past the passengers who ignore the 3 language announcement of which zone is boarding. Also not the one piece of hand luggage allowed. Instead carrying 2 carry-ons plus large handbag and large bag of shopping bargains who wants to board so they can steal all the overhead compartment space. Advice to airlines, get passengers to demonstrate overhead capability with carry-on luggage or just carried-on rather than wheeled across my feet weighing more than my checked-in bag

Push back on time engine start, sit wait 20 minutes, move forward to gate and shut down – sick passenger has to be off loaded. One hour later push back and take off.

21:15 Z – Land London

Passport and Immigration – wife’s new passport does not get through electronic scan so have to wait for her as she re-queues for manual check. My bag in baggage hall – wait 30 mins for wife’s bag.

Get into arrivals – where they filmed Love Actually scene – no taxi driver. – No message on phone. Call taxi firm get voicemail. Wait then note more drivers have arrived find taxi driver who has just got there. He grumpily leads way to car discussing on phone other job which continues in car. Does not appear to be regular taxi firm – outsourced?

Set off – M3 closed for bridge works on project so have to take alternate route – I mean, all they have been doing is supposedly allowing the hard shoulder (as per M42) to be used as peak times. This has saved cost of adding proper lanes according to Highways Agency. Still great project if and when it gets finished. Whilst on holiday they have started to close motorway every night so that can work without traffic – progress – none visible

23:10 Z – Arrive home – why did we go on holiday?

Following day – what time is it why am I so tired do I have to go to work?

Re-Moaners and Trump’eters

Another few weeks drift past and yet the same issues which seem to have been in the news all year, remain.

The US never-ending election still has over 3 weeks to run and just when you think the behaviour and approach of both camps can’t get any worse they manage to achieve it. If it’s not sexual abuse allegations it’s more leaked emails. I pity the American voter. I thought our choice this side of the Atlantic was pretty bad but the candidates there look appalling.

I watched the clip of Gary Johnson who is apparently also standing as a Libertarian Party candidate – I mean really? Over five years into a civil war in Syria and this man who wants to be President of the most powerful nation on earth does not know what Aleppo is?

At least Trump and Clinton have managed to answer some questions on the subject. It’s not unusual for foreign affairs (not the sexual kind) to play little part in a US election, but one might have expected that confrontations with Russia over Syria, Ukraine and Crimea, to have some impact. Likewise relations with China over the Spratley Islands rather than ridiculous notions of simplistic arguments over manufacturing jobs in the US should have some policy. It remains completely unreported what either candidate’s plans for North Korea are. Better not ask Trump but his rhetoric can’t be worse than the accusations from US Security services that NK was behind the Sony attack.

What still amazes many commentators is that Trump is still popular with large swathes of the US electorate despite all the gaffes. It demonstrates how unpopular Clinton is but more importantly how upset many American voters are with the established political class which Clinton embodies.  Here we have some of the parallels with the UK EU debate despite the referendum.

Although there is an element of the moaning bad loser side in some of the pronouncements from what was the remain side, many did set out the risks to the economy an no-vote would bring. Several senior economists have stated that the currency changes that we have seen since end of June were a long overdue correction to Sterling’s position just exasperated by the vote for exit and on-going uncertainty of what that means. In the percentages shown everything is referred to the currency position post 23rd June, failing as usual to mention that Sterling’s value had risen significantly in the lead up to the vote.

Euro over 5 years from here shows a different story than the headlines might have you believe on 19th Oct 2011 the exchange rate was 1.14 and it closed on 14th Oct 2016 at 1.11. In particular, the rise of the pound in 2015 and the lead up to the vote is dramatic. US Dollar to Sterling is a significant fall over the same period 1.57 to 1.21 and the comments on reserve currencies should be concerning, but at the same time interest rates have been signaled upwards in the US and stay the same or lower in the UK which does not help Sterling investors. By the way Euro to US Dollar has gone down from 1.37 to 1.11 in the same time period.

I have picked an arbitrary period but some of us can remember much better and worse Pound to Dollar rates. It reached a low of 1.05 in February 1985 after the ERM fiasco and was as high as 2.11 in November 2007 as sub-prime crashed the dollar

What do we learn from that brief history- currencies fluctuate – sometimes a lot – thousands of traders around the world make money doing that.

Final discussion for today is on Credit Rating Agencies and their comments – yes the same folks that branded those sub-prime investment funds as AAA, are doing all their warnings on where the pound might go next. All the discussion is based on what the UK might do as if what might happen in the Euro (How is Greece by the way and Italy, Portugal, Spain?) will have no impact. Remember Euro zone and other EU exports to the UK, exceed UK Exports to the EU – we both have a lot to lose if we are stupid and put in unnecessary tariffs.  World trade will be damaged if Trump introduced tariffs to protect American jobs and cancels NAFTA. Likewise what will be the impact on the dollar if Trump wins and implements that piece of rhetoric.

Guess what the pound might go up or down or sideways.  Can we moan about currency traders instead?

Evolution is Dead

I have been posing a question to myself, no one else talks to me so I might as well. Has Human evolution stopped? If you are a creationist or other similar believer please stop reading now.

The general scientific viewpoint is that the evolutionary process as described by Darwin and others is how all lifeforms on planet Earth (and anywhere else) evolved via genetic mutation based on survival of the fittest. To be blunt this means that only the strongest survive. In relatively modern times (given billions of year of Earth’s history) the study of this has had bad implications from Eugenics to the Nazi’s but have we as a species also caused our own problems.

Many of you will be aware of the Darwin Awards which describes anecdotal or sometimes real incidents where Darwin fights back against stupidity of human beings but I would like to widen the discussion into two areas. Health and Safety and Dentistry. The medical arguments would only cause anger and allegations of discrimination whilst missing the point.

Health and Safety

An example from the Olympics at the weekend. The leading rider crashed in the women’s race the day after 2 of the leading men’s race riders had done a similar thing. This prompted all and sundry to complain about the safety of the course. No one mentioned that the riders should have ridden slower to ensure they got around the bend(s). Likewise at work we have become accustomed to the H&S rules dictating everything from ladder positioning to what height out seat should be. All of this is taken care of now and policed by a range of rules and legislation. Thus preventing a range of actions that would have killed off sections of the public who seem to have lost the ability to think for themselves. i.e. crossing roads by looking both ways not whilst reading your phone with headphones in/on. Instead build more barriers and post warnings not to do this. So the stupid idiots who lack common sense are maintained in the gene pool to reproduce and create more idiots who will then have to be protected from their own stupidity. Of course if our ancient ancestors had not played with fire we would not have developed the means to use it. Playing with a busy road may not be the best way of progressing the brainpower of our species, although car brake engineering has come on leaps and bounds.

Dentistry

Sexual attraction (and consequent mating) is based on physical attractiveness our use of dentistry to improve looks is now hiding genetic failure. If you genetically have bad teeth a trip to the dentist will help, but your future mate would not know what’s hiding in the genes or jeans. This Dentistry is denying Darwin. Of course dentistry also improves health due to lack of cleaning teeth but thus bad teeth genetically continue. Darwin reversed or blocked. The same is true of course of other medical advances.

Countering My Own Argument

Of course the keeping of genetic mutations which might otherwise die out also means that the genetic spectrum is wider thus potentially more scope for greater and more diverse development. Then there is the impact of gene splicing or other genetic manipulation either before birth or via stem cells/medical implant to remove certain diseases or hereditary illnesses.

Who knows perhaps in 10,000 years we will all have perfect teeth at birth and live as long as we want.

Chilcot’s Inquiry – Stranger Than My Own Fiction

After waiting 7 years we finally have Sir John Chilcot’s report on the lead up and prosecution of the Iraq War based on the inquiry he lead. For the grieving and wounded I doubt it will bring much closure, whatever that means?

As those of you have been kind enough to read, I too have used the background to the Iraq war for my own scribblings in the Demise Trilogy (available at all good book stores – well Amazon and Lulu anyway)  The backdrop to the story is how a conspiracy manipulated data to make the dossiers used to justify the war more compelling. Little did I know that that was close to what the report has unearthed. Of course we already knew much of this. The farcical claim of a 45 minute of WMD attack on the UK was just that. Anyone who looked at weapons capability in Iraq knew this was a joke, in my view a criminal misrepresentation of the capability of weapons. To claim the UK was at risk was so far wide of the mark it beggar’s belief that anyone in Intelligence or Senior Military allowed such rubbish to be proposed in a Parliamentary document. In this respect I would not expect the political leadership to know. They are not experts they depend on advice yes the rubbish was allowed to stand unchallenged.

During a previous life I had the opportunity to be involved in some of the work used to monitor Iraq after the end of the first Iraq war. This was led by UN weapons inspectors and was part of the cease fire agreements put in place after that conflict.  Part of my role was to assess Iraq’s weapons capability and to then brief my colleagues on their remaining weapons systems.  When the claim came out in 2002/3 as a support for the war I was personally astounded. I was out of the military by then but nevertheless that assessment seemed amazing given the state of their weapons complexes which were bombed every time Saddam threw the Weapons Inspectors out of the country.

At the time of the war I used to state the right war for the wrong reasons. I meant that Saddam had to go because he was in constant breach of the ceasefire obligations and certainly intended to get WMD back, not that he had it right then. He continuously threatened his neighbours vowing revenge. Blair has defended himself by stating that Saddam had to go and he would do it again. That may be true but he did not have to go then nor in that manner and certainly not for that reason. We were already fighting a difficult war in Afghanistan and to redeploy troops to a different theatre was madness and again should have been challenged. Saddam was not going anywhere.

I say back about WMD because he had used chemical weapons against Iran and then against his own Kurdish minority. He had had not used them in the first war simply because he was threatened by the USA of the consequences if he did. Not that that stopped the deployed military being issued with NBC suits and medication in case they were used. During and after the first Iraq war, for the liberation of Kuwait, chemical weapon sites were attacked and stockpiles destroyed. Even after the second war some small residual caches were found left over from the Iran Iraq war which were mostly rusting artillery shells which were unsafe to fire. By the time the second war came around there was virtually nothing left to attack.

The fighting of that war leaves a sour taste due to the tactics employed. Many have concentrated on the failings in equipment and strategy of the British forces and the lack of planning for after the war.  It is not the military’s job to plan peace. Their job is to win a war as quickly and effectively as possible. There were major errors in this plan. In particular the destruction of main infrastructure which caused so many problems after the war. For example destroying whole power stations when sub-stations would have created the same effect. Useless destruction of main bridges. The Iraqi military was pitiful, especially after the first Gulf war. Their ability to fight as an Army was so degraded I’m surprised the war lasted as long as it did. The liberating armies became oppressive conquerors and subject to guerilla warfare because the hearts and minds cannot be won when there is no security, no water and no power.  From a military assault point of view overwhelming force is the key to win quickly but that is where civilian control comes in.

I have previously commented on the lack of military experience in Government on both sides of the Atlantic and in all political parties. Actually it is not just military experience but experience of anything other than politics.

There were 650 MPs in parliament who had a vote on going to war. The action was approved 412 to 149. As you can see not all MPs voted. Currently, approximately 50 have served in the Armed Forces. As decisions are normally taken primarily in Government and directly supposedly in Cabinet it is interesting to note the Chilcot findings on the lack of wider decision making outside the Prime Minister’s office and the failures of the senior military and Intelligence chiefs. MoD Procurement needs culling – perhaps a few days on the front-line with the equipment they procure would get their priorities right. As for the treasury Brown was far more interested in undermining Blair than he was in ensuring that the UK’s forces had the right equipment, size and funding to carry out government, Blair/Bush policy.

As I have written on previous blogs, Parliament is sovereign it really is time that our MPS not only served their party but their country. There is no bigger decision then going to war, or not. I would like to think that some of the MPs might actually know what they are arguing about. The evidence suggests they do not and cannot be bothered to find out. After all it is far more important to spend time briefing against your enemies in your own party than planning for real enemies and threats to the country. For evidence look at the Blair/Brown actions also going on at this time. The evidence before the war was out there. The distrust of the dossier was known yet we went to war on a false promise.

The pitiful state of our current armed forces is for another day’s writing except – We have Aircraft Carriers being built with no aircraft. Our contribution to Syria is barely a squadron of planes. Our Royal Navy, once the commander of the seas, has barely enough ships to patrol a harbour. Our response to Putin is to send 500 troops to Eastern Europe two years after the events. We’ve even stopped allowing the Red Arrows to display at our primary Air Show. Let’s hope we never face a real threat. If we did someone else could take seven years to write a report that will change nothing.

Brexit and Democracy

I have managed to not blog on the EU Referendum result or the lead up to it for a couple of weeks. I remained undecided until I walked into the voting booth. I was as amazed as anyone else when the result went through. Even more amazed by the reaction of some remain supporters. Yes there were some foolish potentially racist comments posted in the aftermath although I was not aware Polish was a race, nor Muslim.

Accusing leave voters of being racists, Nazis, stupid, working class idiots also does not hold good for democracy either. Scotland’s histrionics just add to the noise. Clearly the SNP does not understand what democracy is. Scotalnd voted to stay in the UK, the UK voted to leave. To claim that the Scottish referendum would have been different if the EU result was known is a great way of re-writing history or wishful thinking. It’s not as if the Conservative Party’s promise to hold an EU referendum was a secret.

Perhaps instead of blaming England the SNP leadership had spent more time in England convincing English voters to Remain the result might have been different; but that’s a lot of votes (1.3m) to change. Isn’t democracy an awful form of government except all the others to misquote Churchill I think. Could someone please give Donald Tursk and Claude Junker a lesson in how democracy really works. Again perhaps if they had spent time trying to persuade the UK how great the EU was rather than trying to scare the living daylihts out of the electorate the rsult might have been different. Same for Merkel, Allande etc.

The argument on young people wanting to remain is also difficult to substantiate. Given information is opinion poll based i.e. a good guess, it appears that 65% of the so called 18-24 year old surveyed could not be bothered to vote. Then again 28% of the electorate did not bother either. Compulsory voting anyone.

Yes I can also calculate that 52% of 72% of the 39.5m voting population of 65m UK (and Gibraltar) total population is not a majority but neither is 48% of the same numbers. The rules were passed in Parliament. Did you campaign for any decision to require 66.6% majority to change or a 75% turnout. Are you aggrieved that  a Scottish golf course voted to keep women out because it also had a two-thirds majority rule. Should we have a two thirds for a new referendum on staying in to reverse this advisory decision. How about two thirds for Scotland to leave UK. I don;t mind but don’t try to change the rules afterwards. I personally think that the England football team should be given a two goal head start for every game and only blind players should be allowed in the opposition team. Unfortunately those are not the rules. Perhaps I should approach FIFA to get them changed or cheer Iceland on.

Anyway what is done is done, and that is democracy, however flawed – sorry BBC, parliamentarians and so on – so lets have some facts. Could have done with some of these in the debate.

  • The UK has not left the EU, the single market or anything else – yet.
  • It has carried out an advisory referendum which will require a formal notification to the EU Council of Ministers invoking Article 50. According to constitutional experts, to do this will require an Act of Parliament in the UK. No such Act has been added to the Bill list – yet. This is because the EU treaties are enshrined in UK law therefore to break them will require one or more different Acts of Parliament
  • It is for the UK to submit this notice not for the EU other heads of state, or the bureaucrats to demand it as soon as possible or any other time. By having meeting without the UK present you are acting as if it has happened when it has not.
  • The Prime Minister at least for the next few weeks remains David Cameron
  • The leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal opposition at at 2nd July 12:00 BST, remains Jeremy Corbyn
  • The Conservative Government still holds a majority of 12 in the House of Commons
  • George Osbourne is still The Chancellor – doom, gloom, disaster and inaccurate economic forecasts since 2010
  • The UK is still one nation by treaty – and the UK does not consist of London Westminster bubble and Nicola Sturgeon trying to leave it.
  • The UK is still a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council
  • The UK is in, and is the 2nd largest contributor to NATO. Some members of the EU are not in that organisation – so much for helping security
  • The UK has the 5th or 6th largest economy in the World
  • The UK is also a key member of the IMF, WTO, WHO etc.
  • The UK has multiple separate treaties with many if not all EU members most of which pre-date the EU. The immigration treaty with France covering Channel Tunnel etc, is newer but it is not an EU treaty it still applies unless the UK or France wish to cancel it. We have treaties with lots of other countries to
  • London’s financial centre is still the biggest in the world and London is amazingly still in the UK
  • There are 27 other countries in the EU but 180 outside including some not insignificant countries like the USA, China, India etc. The EU has no trade agreement with these. It spent 7 years getting a minor agreement complete with Canada. The UK with Canada could probably agree one in 7 months.
  • The UK is the largest importer of German manufactured automobiles and French Champagne – shall we tariff that?
  • Half of the UK’s net immigration is not from the EU and one of the candidates to be Prime Minister has been in charge of that for years. Net population growth remains the issue, not where the growth comes from.
  • In other news
    • Donald Trump might win the US presidency
    • Migrants are still dying off the coast of the EU
    • IS is still carrying out terrorist attacks
    • The Syrian civil war is going on – still
    • Wales are still in Euros (congrats and please advise England how to play football)
    • Its been raining – a lot – ye I know Wimbledon is on
    • We still pay tax – clearly global companies and the very rich are excluded from the comment – some of them in London finance – they might move
    • We will all die – sometime
    • The sun will rise in the East and set in the West

By the way it was a secret ballot but I will confess to voting out the first and only time I have ever stated who I actually voted for. I am clearly a working class, racist idiot who does not understand anything. I have never voted for Boris as I am not a Londoner or in his constituency, nor can i or could I vote for Crobyn or Cameron as MPs. O could have joined the parties and voted for them but I have better things to do with my life. – like most of the population.

Or maybe I think that the UK Parliament is sovereign for the UK, not 27 other countries who have different legal systems and cultures. I never got to vote to go in, nor did anyone else. I was too young to vote to stay-in, so this was my first ever opportunity to have a say – yours too unless you were over 18 in 1975 . No mainstream political party (ignoring UKIP) has offered this change at a General Election since Labour changed policy at the last referendum (Corbyn has as well despite being an out campaigner for decades).

Is the sun out yet?

Music and Musing – OK, The EU Referendum As Well

My first creative writing outside school work was actually music lyrics. The words were my first artistic adventures and continued for many years. The few poems on this site are really lyrics for various songs that I have written over the years. Music still inspires me and has the power to move me like no other art form. I like to think I have a wide taste in genres from classical (including some opera) through to modern pop, although rap is a real effort whilst appreciating the skill of the lyricist.

I appreciate art, as in painting and sculpture, in the same way but I do not find it moves me in the same way as music, likewise theatre. I did write a short story, Landscape, with art as the background attempting to convey my love of some paintings. Musical theatre does have that impact, whereas opera tends to get lost for me except the odd aria. Probably the language barrier but also the variations in the notes – a complaint I have with much Jazz.

The language barrier (not necessarily the artistic barrier – ignore the Eurovision song contest) of course applies to our European colleagues, the focus of much of the debate in the referendum. There is not just a language barrier but also a cultural and legal one. Many European countries have a legal system based on Roman/Napoleonic basis (France and other codified legal systems) or are federated states (UK has devolved power to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland but not England) as opposed to common law based on precedent with juries. The EU is codified leading I believe to many of the clashes we have seen with the ECJ and the slow but creeping codification of the UK’s laws driven from the EU – a background driver for the sovereignty debate i.e. where UK precedent can be overruled by a codified European Court causing a codified change to UK law.

I remain undecided. I have written before about my concern with population growth. This issue is mixed up with immigration, asylum and the crisis facing the world (not just the EU) The increase in the world’s population is staggering

populationgrowthhistory2

As is the UK’s from Migration watch but using ONS numbers

bp9_31_chart

The future projections which are based on net migration levels plus the impact of the new population having children must be addressed. Regardless of what happens in the referendum, and associated immigration policy, the increases of the last ten years will have a major impact on schools, housing, healthcare, etc. for generations. More cars, more use of public transport, and it takes years to get infrastructure in place to cope from London airport runways to sewer mains.

I grew up at a time when the net birth rate was thought to be falling below 2, i.e. population decline. This has now reversed and we have added a massive increase in life expectancy which impacts the same things plus pensions but with a disproportionate impact on health and social care.

As with many undecided I am annoyed with the quality and tone of the debate making it very hard to decipher fact from fiction or forecasts or the real risks in either choice.

The In campaigners fail to talk about the impact of ever closer union (yes UK may have an opt out) when EU policy is pursued. Especially the efforts of Eurozone countries to support the currency. We will be outside (we already are) that decision process. i.e. if EU funds are used to support an in-crisis Eurozone country ahead of a non Eurozone country purely to help stabilise the Eurozone and prevent another crisis. I have just returned from Greece – that crisis has not gone away. The impact on the UK and the financial systems is there regardless of membership status. Outside the Eurozone the UK has zero ability to influence policy in or out. The only way we could would be to stay in and join the Euro! That is something that has been ruled out by most euro campaigners, which seems illogical if we really want to be at the table and have a say on the future of the EU.

The Out campaigners fail to address the risk and the economic forecasts, ignoring many supposedly qualified commentators. Albeit, being lectured by American bankers (Merrill Lynch) and other big businesses does not go down well. Of course economic forecasters are well known for their accuracy; from the IMF to the Treasury we can clearly believe everything they say. Growth rates, employment rates, financial products. That is sarcasm by the way, in case anyone thought that I think economic forecasting has a better success rate than weather forecasting beyond the next 24 hours.

The pleas from foreign leaders feel forced and in some cases (USA) hypocritical. Of course the USA wants the UK in the EU. It means there is some check from the UK on various EU proposals on trade, data and competition so that USA interests are protected.

For EU leaders, if you are so desperate for the UK to remain, Mrs Merkel, why did you not offer a better reform package to the UK when Cameron was running around Europe before the referendum was announced? Actually, why haven’t you reformed the EU thus making the changes needed before a referendum was called?

I cannot abstain. I believe in voting, there should be more of it. I just do not know what is the best decision, for me, my family, the generations to come and my country. I do believe that the EU would be a worse institution without the UK in it but would the UK be worse? I do not just mean economically, but worse in a generic sense. Would the UK be a worse place to live or better?  If someone can give me a clear answer to that and address the population growth issue (not just the immigration issue) I would be grateful.

Whatever the outcome of the vote, I can still write words and occasionally music. The paintings will remain in the galleries. Life will go on. The world will not stop and the 6.5 billion people who live outside the EU (with or without the UK) will continue to have their lives. The population will continue to increase, and the poor and scared will desperately seek a better life wherever that may be.

Panama and Voting

Hot news, apparently, dictators, the super rich, corrupt politicians and criminals try to hide their ill gotten gains. Add to this list the moderately rich and various investments funds try to to avoid paying as much tax as possible. This is news?

In the spirit of openness I too have investments in offshore funds. It’s called my pension. I can’t confirm that I don’t own shares in Panama registered companies. Don’t look shocked, I have heard lots of people say that recently. Why can’t I confirm? Investment funds.

The pension company offers multiple funds in which I can buy units. Some of these funds trade in oversea shares. Frankly I have no idea if any of these units are linked to operations in Panama, The Cayman Islands, Belize and many other tax efficient locations. Just because I am several steps removed from the investment and income does not mean I do not want a good return on the deal. I want interest and investment gain too.

Of course I will have to pay tax on the income just like I already do on my salary, savings’ interest and directly invested share dividends. By the way every single person in this country that has an ISA is trying to avoid tax. Every investment in a personal pension avoids more tax. Every claim of business expenses is another bit of tax avoidance, why do you think your employer wants a VAT receipt? A little less hypocrisy please.

I think we all knew that bad people do bad things. The 11 million Panama sourced documents just confirmed this knowledge. It used to be the notorious Swiss bank account. The use of shell companies and hidden investment funds should also be no surprise. If anyone has watched The Big Short or read any of the extensive reviews of the financial crash, the rich bankers were peddling AAA rated investment funds as if they were solid gold. In reality they were derivatives bundled with other derivatives sold into other funds. Your pension fund may well have invested in these funds.

This was probably criminal behaviour, although precious few have gone to jail, whereas avoiding tax may be morally questionable but it is not illegal. Those few of you who have been kind enough to buy my book, The Persuasive Man, know that I have included a lot of financial wheeling and dealing in that fictional account. Fictional yes, but based on several financial stories and some personal experience.

Avoiding tax is a national pastime. Ask a tradesman if he’ll do the job for cash and you contribute to tax evasion which is illegal. Of course morally we are happy to have got a deal. We, the purchaser, have not done anything wrong. It is not our responsibility to declare the income, but are we a co-conspirator?

Directly in the UK, the Prime Minister has been dragged into the mess as the documents showed that David Cameron and his spouse had shares in an investment fund set up by his father. As usual with political scandals it’s not the actual thing that’s the problem, it is the cover up or the failure to come clean. Then of course we have the reporters dramatically trying to turn a drama into a crisis

The BBC were interviewing voters in Bedfordshire about whether they have changed their opinion of the Prime Minister, then came the most ridiculous question. Will you vote for him? Last time I checked, Cameron’s constituency was Whitney in Oxfordshire not Dunstable in South Bedfordshire; so how exactly were these voter going to vote for him? He has also said he will not stand at the next election. Therefore, no one is going to be able to vote for him.

You can vote in May local elections. In June you can vote for the EU referendum. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their respective Parliament and Assembly elections, (English Democratic deficit anyone?) but except for by-elections no UK MP will get elected until 2020. It’s like asking the vox pop interviewee, the archetypical man on the street if they would vote for Trump – had to get him in somewhere – irrelevant and just bad journalism.

With 11 million documents to sift through who knows which name will turn up next. Of course Cameron has got himself in this mess for not being open and forthright at the start of the week, not for what he has actually done with a relatively small amount. Yes, I know £30,000 is a lot of money to most of us, but compared to the billions hiding in Panama shell companies, it’s not really.  By the way as the shares were co-owned by him and his spouse that’s £15k each. Capital gains are only due on the element above the yearly allowance depending on how long the investment had been held. Income from the fund should have been declared each year on the individual tax return. So a £30k fund on a very good year may have paid out 10 percent per annum so £1.5k per year each at 40 percent tax is £600. Not exactly a new duck pond. The selling story is already 6 years old.

Jeremy Corbyn the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition is making political hay out of the alleged scandal but is it just me? Not many Labour MPs are making a song and dance about this nor Liberals. Even the Scottish Nationalists are being relatively quiet. Have I missed something?

We can add UEFA and FIFA to the list of those being embedded in the scandal, Iceland has already lost its Prime Minister. It seems this leak even makes other news disappear although the press are desperately trying to link the revelations to the EU in/out referendum. After all we need something to make that more interesting.

Meanwhile 1.5 million migrants/asylum seekers/immigrants/terrorists (delete as applicable) have tried to enter the EU and the new deal with Turkey has allowed 200 to be returned to Turkey. Perhaps we are missing the scale of the problem and not addressing the priorities. Mr Putin (be respectful) seems to be connected to Panama via some friends who seem to have a lot of state money. What about EU funds are there no documents connecting EU officials. Of course we have the overseas aid budget from the EU and the UK which have often been suspected of ending up in odd bank accounts. No news there then.

Back to the scale of the financial misconduct, what efforts are actually being made to get the money. Has the Panamanian Ambassador been called in, have any executives of the legal company been arrested, is anyone going to be charged with anything? Is any money going to be returned? More likely it will all disappear, the money and the story.

Perhaps a sequel is needed but would anybody buy it? Perhaps I should set it up as an offshore investment fund opportunity?