Friday, 31 March 2017

Am I an idiot? Might be...

I think I have mentioned something about borrowing before. Borrowing by local authorities in particular. One of the poorest local authorities in Wales, RhonddaCynonTaf (RCT) is in debt to the tune of some £250million! There are indications the real figure is actually £500million plus! At any rate this is a scandal! This Labour run council is not fit to be in power and it is more than time to send these incompetent charlatans to the bin. I understand that debt is a huge problem all over the UK, personal debt as well as government debt. How can probably sane people think that this is a good way to provide services? For a start this idea of get it now and pay later involves something called interest. Even on £250million that would be something of the order of £10million plus annually. Money wasted. Just compare that with the income of personal council tax in an area where too many are on benefits (not all their own fault) and a goodly chunk has gone down the Swanee river. 
But it is eminently understandable when looking at how these Labour run councils operate. They are run by what can only be called a close-knit semi-professional club. Close-knit because nepotism is frequently observable, semi-professional because there is a preponderance of failed professionals who have not made it in the real world. Just like a type of Mafia. There are no longer the butcher, the baker or the candle-stick maker seen in the hallowed halls of power. As a result politics has just become a game played by opposing sides but without a ball. If one says ‘Yes’, the other says automatically ‘No’. The only thing they all agree on is the level of salaries, stipend whatever they call it. It seems to be true that when a political party is in power for longer than 10 years the quality halves. Meaning that in RCT there is no quality at all. It is just lost in a quagmire of debt and incompetence. Well, a good question – what next? People tend to be afraid of change, they’d say better the idiot you know than the idiot you don’t know. The problem I have is to ask – Who is the real idiot’? Me paying for it all or them using it on a nice lifestyle? Don’t answer please!

Friday, 24 March 2017

Universal thinking...

Having a liking for science programs like The Universe and in particular those from the PBS station on Freeview (PBS America that is) I watched a programme called ‘Hunting the Edge of Space’. It showed some incredible shots of galaxies too numerous to count. But the question posed was – does the universe slow down eventually? Answer - apparently not, it is speeding up. It set me thinking about the usual analogies, explosions and how they expand. If we can assume for now it is universal, an exact sphere like a round ball, it seems a bit strange to assume that the original explosion can actually increase in force after the original conflagration. So how did they come to that conclusion? Apparently through measurement of very distant supernovae within far away galaxies. I thought, how then has this an impact upon our situation? Would it not depend where within the ball of space the original Big Bang was created, and we are situated? If the universe is still expanding as they say, we are going with it. Pending also where we are located within that sphere would it not mean that in one direction, the direction in which we are travelling the universe does not seem to expand and to the other way we travel seemingly twice as fast? We are receding from the opposite edge whilst the edge is expanding outward. Even more, it seems odd to think we are exactly in the centre of the Big Bang and therefore everywhere we look the universe would expand pretty uniformly. Food for some interesting thoughts! Perhaps it is dark matter holding us back but allowing the original BB to keep going. That then would seem the expansion to go faster, We are slowing but not the universe? Wow, get me a sleeping pill!

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

What about Bob? Sorry, zero hour contracts?

Social care, in particular care for the elderly is a subject high on the agenda. But it seems not so in the hallowed halls of local government. In particular my local area, RhonddaCynonTaf the two-bit South Wales valleys area that put their servants dealing with social care on zero-hour contracts! You might think, good, work when there is work and have a rest at the other times. But it is not so simple as the social impact can be severe. Banks and Building societies do for the most part not grant mortgages to persons on zero-hour contracts. So, people on zero-hour contracts tend to be in rented accommodation and on benefits as well. In the town I live more and more are on benefits as they just cannot get on the housing ladder, are in rented accommodation and on housing benefit. Perhaps the government has not worked out yet that allowing zero-hour contracts put a strain on the benefits budget? I suppose there is more to it – the future of work seems to be a bleak one. More and more electronics, robots all will play a larger role in the future. It will be interesting to speculate on the impact it will have on the workplace. The question is will this mean a dumbing-down of human intellect or will it mean an increase in deductive capacity? Thinking of the population explosion, apparently we might have 8 billion humans on this mudball by the middle of the century, I think there will be not enough to go around. Water, food, education, work opportunity all will be in very short supply. I have to say sorry to my grandchildren for having left them with almost insurmountable problems. Just hoping that before too long sane ideas will begin to percolate through the brains of our elected wonders rather than the day to day rubbish we have to suffer at present.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Tonyrefail going to jail!

Always I have my ears (and eyes) open to happenings around, especially the rumours that abound. One of these rumours is about a jail. The rumours say that the Welsh Government had written to all Welsh local authorities to find out possible locations etc. The only Authority replied was Rhondda Cynon Taf. Interesting? Of course it is because now my brain begins to tick over. I am sure that the Home Office and as a representative, the Welsh government would want easy access to the motorway system. Here comes the M4! Not too far from the conurbation (Cardiff/Newport/Swansea). So that means Central Eastern South Wales. Next would be land ready for building. Guess what? Tonyrefail has a few sites already in that category. The best being the Coedely Mine (cleared) site. Why? It is not particularly near to housing. So, could it be Tonyrefail being the prime candidate? It could well be. I am sure the tight-lipped Council is playing a carefully laid -out plan and would in all likelihood deny everything. The usual way in politics. But I think the local Labour councillor might know much more but as per the usual Labour-speak is ‘Standing up for….’ Let’s hope it does not become ‘Standing up….! I won’t hold my breath as Labour cannot be trusted, not even with the family silver.

What's the hype about?

Bearing in mind that I believe all decisions made by politicians, especially those in government, are thought out well beforehand. All pro’s and con’s are endlessly discussed and possible ramifications calculated to the last penny. This is why I am looking at the latest storm, the one called ‘White Van Man Scam’. Obviously, when looking at previous promises, now broken, it defies belief any party could just make such a blunder. But is it a blunder? Firstly it is not making the government particularly richer. A few millions and for the most part it does not seem to be much of a loss for the white van chaps either. But looking at the system, it does seem overly complicated, seven grades and a few different percentages. Employees pay nothing on the first £155 earned (weekly) that is up to £672 a month, anything over that and up to £827 a week will be charged at 12%. Anything over £827 is charged at 2%. These are the figures for category A. But self-employed people are paying differently. It depends on the profit they make in a year. I note two classes – Class 2 and Class 4. Class 2 if profits are £5,965 per annum and over up to £ 8,060 or Class 4 when over that. Profits are worked out (supposedly) by deducting all expenses from income. So, it pays to have a good accountant I’d say!
Class 2 pays £2.80 a week and Class 4 - 9% on profits between £8,060 and £43,000, 2% on profits over £43,000. So the 9% will become 10% which means on Class 4 if profits are £8,060 the difference between £725.40 and £806.00 will be the total of £80.60! Yes, people you have heard it here £80 per annum. £1.53 per week. I am sorry but please media people can you lessen the hype? Can we all calm down?
I am not sure what Class 2 will be after April but I think it will be slightly over £3.00. Well, one message to self-employed people is this – Please get real! If you make decisions based on this, such as you will no longer vote for the Conservatives ( personally I don’t either but let that rest) then perhaps find paid employment and vote Labour. So, it's no blunder but an attempt to straighten out the system. But for me being a bit dumb - I would have waited until after Brexit. In that respect the government has indeed made a blunder.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Eerily quiet!

With only two months and a few days to go, it is eerily quiet on the local election front here in South Wales. You would have thought that with the ruling Labour party’s record, its deplorable management especially on education and social care for the elderly the opposition Plaid Cymru party and yes UKIP as well, would be jumping up and down shouting for all to hear! Obviously this silence is just what the Labour party wants and needs. The Rhondda County Borough on its own has a quite sizable debt hanging around its neck so I suspect a hefty increase in council tax. This Labour run borough is one of the poorest if not the poorest, local government areas in the UK. It is an terrible example of how very poor people can be wrung dry by fat politicians. Even the last penny is not safe.
The legacy of just closing mines and related industries at the stroke of the pen but without making sufficient plans for what to do with the thousands of unemployed is still hanging around the whole area. The refuse tips are mostly gone bar one or two and open-cast mining still continues around Merthyr Tydfil but basically mining in Wales has finished. The housing crisis in the area is also a legacy from Victorian times. Personally I live in a stone-built house from the 1860’s, a dwelling that housed an abattoir. In those days quickly built with local quarried stone it now beginning to show its age. And so are thousands of other local houses built on the steep valley sides. Draughty, and damp fuelling the chest and lung infections that are a hallmark of the Rhondda today! Education in the Victorian built schools are the worst in the UK thanks to the disastrous policies of numbskulls to facilitate ‘equality’ and political correctness. Two of the most misunderstood words in the Oxford dictionary! But in Labour speak they portray their socialist ideals. All in all it is not strange that ordinary people are feeling left-out, forgotten and just treated as a never-ending resource to pay for the excessive spending of elected dim-wits. If we want to tackle the scourge of drugs in our society, we could not do better but to start afresh and having a very hard look at our local society and environment. Get rid of the bureaucracy that has grown beyond all reasonable proportions. We do not need 600+ MP’s, we do not need governments in Wales, Scotland. And we do not need 75 councillors in a small area like the Rhondda. Even half would be too many. Anyway, I thought as my morning newspapers were late, I take to the keyboard and have a nice rant. Ah, it is good to be alive, even living in an abattoir!

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

What's important? I just wonder...

A really good question to ask is – What is REALLY important in this life? In our society today? Is it to bring African nations up to standard? Water, better infrastructure? Is it to manage money more equitably? More even-handed? Perhaps curtail the banks and greedy businesses and insist on proper management? Take better care of employees? There are many more questions but they all point to - bad management of resources. The greedy still play havoc with the needs of the poor. As a result the poorer parts of our society pay a far greater deal than the rich, proportionally. The politicians are too afraid to have a good look at the unbridled greed expansion in fear of a drop in tax. Frankly, it has proved counter-productive looking at the multitude of schemes to avoid tax. Obviously we need businesses but we need businesses with a social aptitude. Businesses who care about the environment. Because let’s be fair, it has been known for years that cars, yes petrol and diesel, are damaging to the health of human beings but only now is there a dialogue starting. Why? Because cars, the tax on them, buying, selling and fuel have been dis-proportionally important to the UK Revenue. No recent government has dared to do the right thing in fear of losing the revenue. As a result and also because of the relative cheap North Sea oil there has been an explosive expansion of car ownership and a corresponding deterioration in the environment and health. Many relatively recent policies have been detrimental – the green tax on power bills has seen a tremendous expansion of ugly windmills. Even though they are only reliable to produce power at about 20% of the time. The cost of their production, maintenance and ground rents means their costs will take some 30 t0 40 years to break even! Yes, they do produce power but would it not have been better to look at less invasive methods? Solar power for one – has there not been any development to make all new house roofs energy productive? There are mats with solar cells, even whole roofs can be made from them. Simple ideas and possibly not much more expensive than the windmills, these will be a blot on the landscape for a very long time. Yes, it is all about proper and sound management. Management of resources, methods of distribution, perhaps even expand again the rail network. Reduce car ownership (oh dear, now we are becoming personal!) because electric cars are not going to be the answer. Electricity has to be produced but in the quantity needed if everyone drove an electric vehicle would still need quite a number of power-stations. Just so, remember this, there is NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH! But it sure could be made a bit tastier!

Friday, 3 March 2017

The Bubble will eventually burst

Finally, Theresa May is going to tell Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland what is important and what is not. About time too. My personal opinion is that Ms Sturgeon is in olden terms, no more than a traitor. To try to divide and rule. It is the old way of seeking personal power. The next thing we might hear is a SNP demand for her to be made the Queen of Scotland. Yes, we are in interesting times. But surely it is high time to tell Ms Sturgeon to shut it. Looking back on this devolution experiment, I'd say it is an abject failure. Yes, in Wales also. There is a never ending demand for more and more powers. Despite the fact both devolved governments haven't a clue what to do with the powers they have already received. Both their NHS organisations are in a heck of a mess. In fact, the whole NHS is in a mess. One might wonder where they get all these top administrators from. An out-and-downer living in a cardboard box under a bridge could do better. From my point of view this country has sunk into a morass of failure thanks to complete mis-management and a shameful chase after more and more money. Money or finance that seemed to have come from a never ending treasure chest. Except the treasure chest now owes £1.5 trillion. Some management eh? And now who pays? The top 5% of this country has systematically fleeced the 95% and enriched themselves. Even worse, the 95% now will have to foot the interest bill of some £50billion annually. Did I say we live in interesting times? Yes, but the question remains - when will the bubble burst?