Sunday, November 16, 2008
News From BOM Correspondents- 9
Latest news and links:
Death & Taxes
One of the major problems in campaigning against Big Government waste is that people find it difficult and/or monstrously boring to wrap their heads around just how government actually spends their money.
In the US there's far greater availability of information, and campaigners have found imaginative ways of presenting it. One of the best is the Death & Taxes wallchart, produced and published by Wallstats.Com. It's a "visual guide to where your Federal Tax Dollars go", and it's crammed full of fascinating detail.
For example, it tells us that the President costs a chunky $355m pa, while Congress comes in at an eye-watering $5.1bn pa. The Global War on Terror is clocking up $189bn pa, including this year, $2.1bn on 10,878 Humvees (which at $190 grand apiece seems to be c50% over the normal list price, easily obtainable by anyone but a military procurement official armed with the taxpayer's chequebook).
It's an great chart and we must see if we can get something similar put together for the UK.
New Element in Periodic Table
An excellent forum post by evasive on the Mother Board:
"Research has led to the discovery of the heaviest element yet known to science. The new element, "Governmentium" (Gv), has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312. These 312 particles are held together by forces called "morons", which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called "peons". Since "Governmentium" has no electrons, it is inert; however, it can be detected, because it impedes every action with which it comes into contact.
A minute amount of "Governmentium" can cause a reaction that would normally take less than a second, to take from four days to four years to complete. "Governmentium" has a normal half-life of 2-6 years; it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, "Governmentium's" mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming "isodopes". This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that "Governmentium" is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical morass.
When catalyzed with money, "Governmentium" becomes "Administratium", an element that radiates just as much energy as "Governmentium" since it has half as many "peons" but twice as many "morons".
(HTP Dave C)
Public Sector Pensions
Pensions guru Ros Altman has long highlighted the unfairness of private sector employees with generally inadequate pensions being forced to shell out billions on those gold-plated public sector pensions. Now, she's urging new public sector recruits to get in quick:
"Those who have a public-sector pension will be the new aristocracy. If you are in the public sector and if you have a job and a pension, then do your best to keep it – understand the true value of it.
If you are just starting out in a career at the moment, as things stand you will be better off at the end of your working life if you are in the public sector. A civil servant will be far better off at retirement than a bank manager or a company director... I honestly don’t think it will last. They have five years – max.”
Let's hope she's right. But this government certainly doesn't have the balls to take on the public sector unions, and if we taxpayers want to see change we are going to have to shout a lot louder.
(To underline the huge gap between public and private sector entitlements, the article quotes the example of Metropolitan Police Acting Inspector aged 48, who can look forward to a guaranteed index-linked final-salary pension of £27,330 a year in two years time. You can't actually get a quote for such a deal in the normal annuity market, but Tyler's fag packet says it would cost well north of £1m).
Dockets Replacing Responsibility
Further to the horrific Baby P case, Theodore Dalrymple - who has worked in both the NHS and our prisons - picks up the same points we blogged a couple of days ago. He says:
"When a problem reveals itself, the response is a curious one, that is to say simultaneously one of work creation and work avoidance.
The work creation consists of instituting ever more “failsafe” and “best-practice” procedures, usually with all their associated paperwork, which are then bowed down to and worshipped like the Golden Calf. Of course, this creates the impression of terrific pressure of work, that can be relieved only by the employment of more and more staff with strange titles such as Compliance Manager and Best-Practice Co-ordinator.
This work creation is dialectically related to the work avoidance. So much effort goes into the procedure that no time, energy or inclination is left over to secure the alleged purpose of the procedure.
Documentation is its own justification; and a superstition now exists among the police, nurses, doctors, social workers, prison officers and no doubt others that nothing can go wrong if the forms are filled in correctly. Anyone who has been to a coroner's court lately will know that this is a superstition shared by many coroners.
When procedures become so exacting and time-consuming, the exercise of judgment is deemed neither necessary nor possible. Indeed, it will get you into trouble, because it is not part of the procedure. There is simply no contest between the most obvious reality, staring you in the face, and what the form says. The form says it all, and wins every time."
(HTP Pete S)
British Council Rap Vid
Longtime useless quango, the £0.5bn pa British Council, has found a new way to burn our hard-earned money - making a rap video for India. Gah.
It's all here on David Blackie's blog The Language Business.
Posted by Mike D at 5:31 pm