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Mahatma Gandhi once said:

"A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Is there anybody there?

Dearest Ivor

I am not yet deterred by the lack of a substantive reply. I was going to adopt the Nigel Farage approach however realised that it would be lost on you, as you have a somewhat casual relationship with your appearance and the opinion of others at the best of times. Being unable to stir you into action by appealing to the, somewhat slumbering, political beast within you I will attempt a more philosophical approach.

As a nation what type of people have we become? We give more air time and column inches to the breakup of the Cole’s marriage than to humanitarian crises in the world. Why is this? Are we so shallow or just anaesthetised? Our interaction with the world exists for the most part behind a glass/plasma screen which bombards our senses with multiple visual and auditory stimuli without the effort of having to leave the comfort and security of our own homes. Instead of experience we settle for observation and detachment. Apparently the average UK viewer watched television for 3.75 hours each day last year. With an additional 30 hours each week also spent online,that accounts for another 4 hours a day. What is this doing to us? Is this simulated social interaction making us apathetic towards genuine relationships and stunting our ability to communicate in the real world? Whilst watching the pixel people we can experience joy, sadness and horror in the space of a matter of minutes, even the news feels it necessary to end on a feel good factor, as if the audience couldn’t cope with dwelling for too long on the negative aspects in the world beyond the screen. Our feelings are switched on and off without time to extract meaning, to develop understanding and to dwell on consequences. Our attention span is ever decreasing, as perhaps is our empathy?

It’s only a thought Ivor……..are you out there?

Poll xx

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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Swingeing not Whingeing

Dear Ivor

Your anonymous comment to my blog is hardly worthy of a reply, you who previously courted fame on Sky News have now resorted to leaving an unidentified trail, how the mighty fall! It reminded me of the time when you conveniently forgot that we called up a certain rugby player late at night masquerading as England selectors and subsequently were reported as saying that the idea had been entirely mine. True we may have been under the influence and my memory of the event is not exactly crystal clear, however I do remember distinctly that you thought it was a jolly good idea at the time and it was actually your howls of laughter that finally gave us away!! How can you abandon me now when MPs are retiring on golden goodbyes and hardly a murmur from the British public.

I have however decided to allocate you a little more time to cogitate further on the implications of resuming our correspondence and perhaps I should take this opportunity to whet your appetite further for the task ahead. Over the past few months I know we have adopted the ostrich response to political shenanigans and I must admit for a while it may have made life simpler. Several times during our recess my digits did hover above the keyboard, particularly when banker’s resumed their bonus bonanza activities and when the public sector pension deficit still went largely unaddressed by the main political parties, and even with the revelations of the Chilcott enquiry I didn’t disturb your foray into the wilds of Northumberland, however your razor sharp mind and acerbic wit are required for more pressing matters than whittling, or rampart building for that matter, even if it is for Greenpeace.

Presently we need to concentrate on rebuilding the economy. I know that our previous attempts to encourage Evan Davis (Today Programme Radio 4 for the uninitiated) to grasp the nettle on the financial front were not exactly a success so it is now down to us to produce a coherent plan. Swingeing cuts are required and instead of starting from the bottom and working upwards I have decided to start at the top. The queen could retrospectively pay the £20m inheritance tax on the Queen Mother’s estate and we should definitely abolish that sovereign to sovereign loophole. Safeguarding One's wealth against erosion not really being a priority. We also may have to limit funding for a few years for the Royals so that’s just over £40m each year to start with. It may seem like a drop in the ocean but it is a start and if we are talking of tightening belts it is only fair that we should all be looking at a notch or two.

Now let’s be upfront our total debt is approximately £2 trillion that’s taking into account a net debt of £870.0bn at the end of December 2009 according to the Office of National Statistics and if Alastair Darling has projected borrowing for 2009/10 of £178bn that’s the first trillion taken care of and I must say it does make me feel not more than a little queasy. Added to this is the additional 1 trillion deficit in the public pension pot that is constantly being pushed to the back burner, and there’s the £2 trillion nicely totted up.

To start with we need to cap what the taxpayer will contribute towards public sector pension schemes and then look into the merits of abolishing these final salary arrangements. I know I have mentioned this before at some length but let’s face it is time to admit that roughly 80% of tax payers are struggling to fund their own pensions, and with the best will in the world cannot be expected to contribute further to the under funded final salary schemes of 5 million public sector workers. This is creating a pension elite funded by the many for the few. Arguments of public pensions compensating for lower pay no longer hold water as the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the average public-sector worker earns 16 per cent more than the private-sector counterpart. Unfortunately desperate times call for desperate measures. Then to cap it all there’s an additional £100m hole in the MEP’s pension fund, where will it end we ask ourselves, in our pockets I fear. Have now taken to thumping my forehead against the desk which although painful does afford momentary relief! Talking of MEP’s they cost the taxpayer £1.8m each so if there are 74 of them that’s approximately £133m each year so after much deliberation (well at least 5 seconds) have decided to cap their pay and expenses to a quarter of this amount leaving them with a paltry £450,000 each and saving us about £100m to boot, they will just have to cope, oh that will be like the rest of us then!

Flushed with success and after a glass of red wine am on to cutting more bureaucracy, I propose getting rid of the 1162 quangos and there’s a mere £64bn saved each year (some reports say it is near £90bn but let’s not quibble with the odd billion here and there and when you take into account the whole NHS budget is £100bn, well need I say what a wonderful thing perspective is!

Am now mentally exhausted and haven’t even started on the next trillion but here comes the deal you decide how to raise the funds for this and we’ll call it quits and forgiveness for your recent lack of political stirrings will quickly follow, can you resist the challenge?

Signing off in anticipation.

Poll xxxx


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