Didn’t our politicians learn recent history in school? During the 1930s the government went through the same process of cutting our armed forces for financial reasons and this led directly to World War Two. Chamberlain was forced to accept humiliating terms by the Germans which brought us a year of peace. During that year we worked like mad to try to bring our military potential up to date.
During the first months of the war our survival was on the line and I think we had more than our fair amount of luck. Born in 1925, I went through World War II, learned a lot from my father who served in World War I and over the intervening years have found out a lot more about how close we were to virtual annihilation.
The cuts that are being made to the Armed Forces are based on the false premise that we can’t afford them. The present government are, as usual, blaming the previous government for their financial predicament; how is it that they can always find plenty of cash to fund enquiries that puts millions into the pockets of the legal profession.
The cuts to the Armed Forces, the police, the fire service, the NHS and many other essential services are symptoms of a Government that has lost its way. I’m not making a political point here; I don’t believe any government knows how to find its way out of the ‘fine mess they’ve got us into’ (Oliver Hardy’s catchphrase).
Basically the monetary system has broken down and politicians all over the world should be seeking a solution instead of making the lives of ordinary people more and more difficult. So let’s have no more than the blame game.
Today in the UK we have seen the opening of Parliament and listened to the Queen’s speech. We have been assured by the Prime Minister that everything is being done to improve the state of the economy so that we can climb out of recession.
But how can that be? We need to make and sell more products but where are the buyers? All nations seem to be in the same state as we are.
In business, as in football, one expects winners and losers. Winners get the cup; losers get relegated. At present, in international commerce, there only seem to be losers. So are we all to be relegated?
All across Europe, the USA and other parts of the world there is a backlash against the sudden deterioration in living standards. We are all being told that we must lower our standards, pull in our belts, put our shoulders to the wheel and so on.
It seems that this is because we all owe a great deal of money; even those who have never been in debt in their lives. all countries owe trillions of pounds; the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, the USA likewise. So who do we owe all this money to?
I can only assume that it’s interest paid on vast sums of money deposited in various financial institutions around the world. This interest is unearned and should be dealt with on that basis.
This is the sort of job that politicians should be tending to instead of lining their own pockets. Intelligent machines now do much of the backbreaking and boring tasks that were previously done by humans. As an engineer I helped in this revolution. But instead of making life easier for many people it has made a few very rich indeed.
The divide between rich and poor is widening every day so that somebody can spend £74 million on a painting (The Scream) while others cannot afford to eat. This is not just in the Third World; this is all over the world.
If governments want to avoid civil unrest on a scale never known before they must cooperate to find ways of distributing wealth more fairly.
Any time a member of the Coalition Government is asked a question about the state of the economy they can’t wait to get in comments about the mess the Labour government left.
It’s wearing a bit thin. Years ago when I was an apprentice in an engineering shop, if somebody started moaning about the job the usual comment was ” You said you could do it ”
The coalition certainly wanted the job and said they could do it. So why don’t they get on with it and stop blaming others?
How has the budget affected you? If you’re a rich person you’ve done well; if you’re a very rich person you done bloody well. But if you are of average or low means you’re probably licking your wounds. Maybe the government has given you a few scraps to keep you happy or you may feel you’ve lost out.
What interests me about rich people and particularly very rich people is how they got their money in the first place and how they are getting it now. Your worth is not reckoned in what you do for the community but rather on your job title. If you are a dinner lady or a refuse collector your wage packet will be light although your absence would reflect more on the community than, say, a solicitor.
There are many rich entrepreneurs in the UK who started from humble beginnings. By working hard, taking risks and making brave decisions they are now rich people. I don’t begrudge them this; in the process they have provided work and sustenance for many families. Some are now billionaires.
What is causing the International financial crisis?
But what I am concerned about is what is happening to their money now. With no effort on their part and maybe a nudge or two from their financial advisers their money is now gaining interest at an alarming rate. You may wonder why many countries are in financial difficulties and have large debts. To whom is the money owed? To these very rich people who are amassing vast fortunes while they sleep.
So at the end of the day, who is footing the bill for this unearned interest? You are! Whether you are a plumber, a nurse, a solicitor or any other person who is working daily for a salary, you are paying. Although it may not be evident, the payment of this interest filters down from top to bottom of society and this surely can’t be right.
I don’t pretend to know how this situation can be changed; that’s for politicians to decide. But we see that the payment of these huge debts is causing problems including civil disobedience and riots in many countries. What do you think?
For most of my life I have been a design engineer, creating machines and devices for carrying heavy loads that at one time would have been manhandled. I have also worked in special-purpose machine design of machines that takeover tedious and boring jobs of manual workers.
Let me give you an example; disposable nappies or diapers. In the beginning these would have been made by hand using pre-cut shapes in plastic or rubber. Hundreds of people would sit in rows at benches glueing these together and filling with padding. I came into the industry at a late stage when automated machinery was already well advanced, but was still able to add a little. By that time five operators on a shift were able to control machines producing thousands of nappies every hour. All the operators had to do was to keep the machine supplied with huge rolls of plastic and padding using fork lift trucks. The nappies went down the conveyor belt so fast that they were just a white blur. Even the perfume is added. At the end of the machine’s the nappies were packed automatically into cardboard boxes ready for sale.
Most industries now tell a similar story; cars, foodstuffs, television sets and the like that were once made by hand are now made by robots. The people who used to make these items manually are now redundant and have therefore had to be put to work in other ways.
This change has happened gradually and, it seems to me, has not been recognised as the second industrial revolution, which it undoubtedly is. Many people who would once have worked in factories are now in service industries such as supermarkets. The working week has been drastically reduced in hours and will continue to be reduced. The struggle is on to keep full employment but in the current social climate this is proving difficult.
In my opinion the need to find work for people has led to a growth of bureaucracy and the proliferation of schemes such as “health and safety”. The amazing development of the computer and telephone systems has also helped in creating this bureaucracy.
I look forward to the time when governments recognise that we are now living in new times and find ways to adjust society to meet the new parameters.
The government is going to get tough on drunken behaviour. So they’re going to put a minimum price on alcohol.
Will this move do anything to limit drunken behaviour? It will not! It will do very little to solve the problem and simply penalise moderate drinkers.
But they’ve got one thing right; money is the key to managing drunken behaviour but it must hit the drunks, not ordinarily drinkers.
Drink-driving has been drastically reduced by giving extra powers to the police with regard to breathalysing. I propose that the police should be given power to breathalyse anybody in public who is thought to be over an agreed limit of alcohol. It will obviously be a much higher limit then for drink-driving but should be on a level to identify those people who are drunk enough to cause trouble.
On conviction, fines should be high enough to deter people from offending again. People who do offend again or offend several times should be presented with a choice of paying a heavy fine or attending counselling sessions. Again this is in line with some motoring offences.
Drunks are a nuisance. It is embarrassing to see them in the street even if you are not approached. They create disturbances and in the case of severe drunkenness will be taken to a police station or to a hospital. This costs us all money and I would suggest that if people want to continue to get drunk then they should fund it themselves and not leave the bill to the taxpayer.
On the other hand I am sympathetic to alcoholics. Alcoholism is a disease that affects a number of people including a friend of mine. Alcoholism cannot be cured only managed. My friend has beaten his alcoholism and is still a party animal. He can be seen moving around a party with what appears to be a gin and tonic that is really only tonic with a dash of lemon. It took courage but he’s come through.
The government has given the go-ahead for a high-speed rail link from London to Birmingham, later to be continued to Leeds or even further. The trains are expected to run at a speed of 225 mph.
We are promised that all manner of benefits will accrue from this development but in my opinion it is a bad move. We are told that we are lagging behind other countries such as Japan, China, Germany and France who already have high-speed rail travel. But my contention is that we need a different rail system from other countries. Rail travel in this country is of a higher density than in most other countries.
Anyone using road transport will know that the slower the traffic, the closer the vehicles can travel, thus making more vehicles per road mile. The same is true of rail traffic; the slower the trains are run the higher the density that is achieved and the more goods or people can be moved. Slower trains mean less wear and tear on the rolling stock and rail.
When all is said and done why do we need to embrace this fetish of speed? I would prefer a comfortable journey in a well appointed train that reaches its destination on time. And with facilities that would enable me to use the time on the train profitably.
Instead of wasting time trying to copy what others have already done and probably making a bad job of it we should be looking at new ways of travelling. Although I love railways I would say that the methods of construction of track and the use of ballast will have to give way to other methods of transport.
The main reason that trains get from A to B more quickly than road vehicles is because rail travel is more direct; it has less curves and no sharp bends, is flatter than roads and is secure and dedicated. Some work has been done with road type vehicles running on dedicated roads and guided. I would like to see more work done on this model; it should be cheaper and more flexible.
When I was growing up in the 1930s I don’t remember many coloured people about. The only one I remember was Prince Monolulu selling betting tips in and around petticoat Lane in London.
The influx of foreign people into the UK escalated during World War II and was quite a culture shock for British residents. But we have got used to it and for the most part welcome it. I have travelled on business around the world and have seldom met anything other than kindness. I believe there are only two races of people in the world; the goodies and the baddies.
So I believe in tolerance for all people and strive to understand people with different backgrounds to my own. I believe that more harm is done to racial relations by the do-gooders than by any other people.
Over 40 years ago I was discussing this with a good friend and we agreed that if you can insult somebody without causing offence that is a good test of friendship. He said that if he went in a pub and and saw a friend he might start a conversation going by saying “hello Taffy my old Welsh donkey”, but if he said the same sort of thing to a coloured friend he could feel a policeman getting out the handcuffs.
I abhor the mindless chanting of football crowds and if the chanting takes on an offensive racial character the match should be stopped forthwith. But the recent tensions caused by racial remarks made by one football player to another are ridiculous. In my travels around the world I have been called many names some of them quite offensive. Then I put it down to the ignorance of the people making the remark and left it at that. Too much emphasis on this sort of thing blows it up out of all proportion and does nothing to help race relations.
The FA should look to putting its house in order in other directions such as insisting that football clubs must make a profit or be dropped from the league.they should also make harsher penalties for dangerous play and consistent cheating.
The phone hacking scandal is not going away is it? It appears that most of the major newspaper chains have been involved in skulduggery of this kind for many years simply to serve the appetites of their avid readers.
I say again that I have not bought a newspaper for over 40 years and I don’t intend to start now. I can understand people buying newspapers for TV programmes, football results and in some cases comments from well-respected columnists, but as far as straightforward news is concerned; forget it!