Tag Archives: Money

21st Century Slavery……

2 Mar

‘Reach for the history books and they’ll tell you that slavery was abolished in the UK by the Slave Trade Act of 1807, driven by the unstoppable will-power of William Wilberforce. Well, almost……’

 William Wilberforce (1759-1833)

William Wilberforce (1759-1833)

The Slave Trade Act of 1807 simply outlawed the transportation of slaves. It wasn’t until 1833 that the Slavery Abolition Act was passed; making the owning, buying or selling of slaves illegal. It is not a coincidence that 26 years separated the two acts. Most of the Parliamentarians of the day had slaves and given life expectancy most had exploited the full potential from the slaves they owned. So, what’s changed…..?

 

First we need to define precisely what a ‘slave’ is. There’s the meaning we all take for granted, of people imprisoned against their will, transported to ‘the colonies’ and forced to work for a ‘master’; all enforced by extreme brutality and violence metred out to anybody who didn’t tow the line. It is now part of our shameful past but still happens all over the world to this day.

There are other definitions which have more congruity with our lives today. The Oxford English Dictionary contains several. Here are the ones that are pertinent to this article:

  1. A person who works hard without proper remuneration or appreciation.
  2. A person who is completely dependent upon, or controlled by something.
  3. A state of subjection.

Anybody who is a member of the plebeian proletariat, which is me and most of the people I know, falls into one, two or all three of the definitions given above. Here’s why.

greedy-bankersThe Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimates that a single person with no dependents requires an income of £16,300p/y, after deductions, to meet their basic needs. No holidays, cars or HDTVs included; just survival. Therefore, you are a slave to your employer, who holds you in subjection by the necessity to survive. Worse still, that employer probably doesn’t even come close to meeting those basic needs, leaving many people dependent upon the Government for Tax Credits; which is effectively another way of admitting that British employers pay too little for you to survive, further enslaving you to the State. To add insult to injury many of those employers manage to ‘avoid’ paying taxes to HMRC……

Having taken into account your own position the chances are that you fit the definition of a slave, only the ball and chain has been replaced by the threat of withholding essential income.

Ball and ChainThis form of modern slavery is a very clever device which causes apathy amongst huge groups in society who apostatise issues they hold dear for fear of disenfranchisement by the State upon which they depend for their survival……

It is my personal belief that this ideology is not accidental. Only the other day two more MPs fell prey to a press sting where they told us how they could influence policy and trade ‘under the radar’, and how this was excellent value at £8K per day; more than an unemployed person is paid yearly. If it was 1715 instead of 2015 I dare say we would have adopted the French model and separate MPs heads from their bodies, but it’s a carefully built house of cards and the distraction of survival along with the threat of ‘Jihady John’, ISIS/ISL/IS, global warming and the astutely constructed financial instability from which they protect us, keeps the vassal status quo.

 

The basic fact is that we are enslaved by a system from which we are unable to escape, with the exception of Ray Mears and maybe Bear Grylls. The nepotism, quid pro quo and control of the ruling elite keeps us firmly in our place; slaves who keep the cabal in positions of power and wealth through meaningless elections. You are most probably a modern slave……

Emancipation anybody…..?

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A Review of 2014……

31 Dec

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‘Thank you to all of my readers during 2014…  Below is an automated summary generated by WordPress…  More to come in 2015…  Bringing you the truth behind the ‘commercial medias’ headlines…..’

 

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog:

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 3,700 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

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Click here to see the complete report.

Eight Simple Ways for the Treasury to Save Money……

17 Jun

Introduction……

We are not broke, we do not need to tighten our belts and we are certainly not ‘all in this together’.  Immigration and welfare benefits are not the drain on the economy our politicians continually claim; they are just an easy target to divert attention and act as a smokescreen to the reality of our economic position.

Here are eight ways to emancipate billions of pounds back into the economy……

1 – IT Projects……

Government IT projects are notorious.  They frequently do not perform the function for which they were designed, go over budget and are delivered late, if at all.  Those that make it into public use are usually redundant within a couple of years due to their failure to be able to communicate with newer systems in other departments.

Here a just a few examples:

1980 – TAURUS was an electronic trading platform designed to make the buying and selling of stocks and shares easier.  Outcome: cancelled.  Cost: £75 million.

2002 to 2011 – Electronic Care Records; one of many NHS IT project failures.  Over nine years and despite numerous attempts to make it work, it was never launched.  Outcome: Discontinued.  Cost: £12 billion.

2008 to 2013 – Digital Media Initiative was the BBCs digital platform.  It was scrapped when it became clear that other media companies could provide services at a much lower cost to the customer.  Outcome: cancelled.  Cost: £98 million.

The Government continues with IT initiatives, the latest being the universal benefit system.  Again, it has over run and will doubtless be over budget, if it ever works at all……

2 – Public and Judicial Enquiries……

It is understandable that the relatives and victims of events like Hillsborough and Bloody Sunday want answers.  However, the Public or Judicial Enquiry has become a tool for politicians to kick issues into the long grass.  They are hugely expensive, often take years to complete and rarely deliver results.  The Hutton enquiry into the Iraq war was carefully limited in terms of what it was enquiring into.  As a result nobody faced prosecution and nobody  suffered any consequences in respect to the ‘sexed up’ document that was used as the justification for going to war.  The same is true of the enquiries into the shooting of John Charles de Menezes and Mark Duggan, or the newspaper sales man Ian Tomlinson who died after being assaulted by a Police Officer whilst walking home from work during a demonstration.  None of these cases has led to the prosecution of the Officers involved.

The Jimmy Savile case has as many as 30 enquiries currently taking place……

3 – Defense Spending……

The Department of Defense should change its name to the Department of Attack, as the last time it defended the UK was during WWII.  It is time we stopped acting under the influence of the US as the worlds’ police force and concentrated our resources on defending UK sovereign territory.  A look at a map will show that there are no threats to the UK from any of its neighbors, most of whom are our allies.  The non geographical and greatly exaggerated ‘al Qaeda’ does not warrant £57 billion per year on defense spending.  Government wastage has led to the building of redundant aircraft carriers and the replacement of the Trident nuclear deterrent, which is not wanted and unnecessary……

4 – Tax Avoidance……

It is estimated that the UK treasury is deprived of £95 billion per year due to tax avoidance.  At the same time, many of the employees of the companies involved receive benefits to support low paid jobs (more on this later).  It is interesting to note and a demonstration of Governments priorities that HMRC have a team of 300 people dedicated to tackling £95b of tax avoidance whilst the DWP has 3000 people dedicated to recovering £1b of benefit overpayments and fraudulent claims……

5 – The Monarchy……

The Queen’s household and assorted hangers on costs the UK tax payer £33.3m in 2013; a rise of £900,000 on the previous year.  Although I am a republican I feel our Queen does deserve credit where credit is due.  She is a tourist attraction, or rather her palaces are, so I don’t propose we wheel our the guillotine just yet.  However, the monarchy are independently wealthy and becomming richer by the day.  Assets such as the Duchy of Cornwall net Prince Charles tens of millions each year.  They also hold a huge private art collection thought to be priceless, all of which they aquired through a questionable hereditary lineage.  I propose that the public purse does contribute towards the Queen’s official duties but the numerous palaces, estates and country retreats should be handed to the National Trust and opened to the public thereby generating an income for their upkeep and relieving the tax payer of a large financial burden……

6 – MPs Expenses and Allowances……

Sure, MPs work a long way from home but then so do thousands of other people who pay for their own travel and expenses.  MPs are already well paid but on top of their salary claim £100m in expenses.  Some of this is for the everyday things you and I pay for out of our own pockets and some is for the second home allowance.  As already mentioned many people commute from as far away as Peterborough, Grantham and even further.  If an MPs commute is deemed reasonable they should pay for it themselves.  If a second home is needed it should be sold when the MP looses their seat to reimburse the tax payers.  Even with the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority overseeing claims, MPs are still receiving far too much money for expenses that the rest of the population are expected to pay for themselves……

7 – Diplomatic Travel……

The year is 2014, not 1914 and with technology there is little need for diplomatic travel when a simple conference call will suffice.  According to the Daily Mail a lot of ‘diplomatic’ travel is little more than an excuse for what they describe as ‘jollies’ and range from £2k to £10k depending on the destination and who is traveling.  This money does not form part of MPs expenses but comes from departmental budgets; the same budgets that have been squeezed by 25% in recent years.  It is rich to say the least to expect the UK public to ‘tighten their belts’ when MPs and Diplomats do not.  We are not ‘all in this together’……

8 – A Fair Pay Act……

It is time that laws are introduced setting out a workable minimum wage.  Not the £6.31 (21+), £5.03 (18 to 20), £3.27 (under 18) and £2.68 (apprentice); all of which are an insult when taking into account the increasing cost of living.  If you earn £6.31 per hour for 37.5 hours per week, you will barely be able to afford necessities.  This is the reason for the various Tax Credits which are paid to top up earnings to a reasonable amount.  But as mentioned earlier, many of the companies that pay minimum wages are also tax avoiders, thereby depriving the treasury twice.  Our whole economy would function better if wages were increased, Tax Credits abolished and tax avoidance curtailed……

None of this is rocket science and all perfectly achievable given the political will.  But instead of tackling the real issues of waste and poverty our representatives continually repeat the mantra of immigration and welfare reform; always being careful not to give factual details.  Immigrants pay in far more than they take out and welfare covers pensions, tax credits, child care allowances and a multitude of other benefits including universal benefits such as family allowance.  Unemployment benefits make up 1 or 2% of the welfare pie.  It is a tactic as old as democracy; divide and rule.  Whilst the arguments are focused on two vulnerable groups who have been demons, it gives the public someone to blame for the hardship they are suffering when in reality, with a little political will, this country could be £250 billion per year better off if only the pigs would pull their heads out from the trough and do the job for which they were elected……

NB: On the Radio 4 Today program (17th June) a recent survey revealed that the majority of residents believe most immigrants come to the UK to claim benefits.  It appears the political message is working……

The Cost of Technological Progress……

15 May

‘We all love our mobiles, iPads and laptops and most of us would feel lost without them. We also care about our planet, support eco-friendly products and would use them if they met our needs. Everybody loves a bargain, so when the price of technology keeps on falling we upgrade, even if our device is perfectly adequate. It sounds like a panacea; cheap, accessible and green. But as the old saying goes, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is……’

 

We all know that global industries are not in business for pleasure. They have one goal and that is to return the maximum possible profits. So a penny saved by the consumer is a penny recouped from somewhere else and that usually involves a human cost along the way……

 

I am writing and administering this blog from a seven year old laptop and, with good housekeeping, it continues to function perfectly. In fact I cannot think of anything I can’t do that a new computer would make possible. The truth of the matter is that we suffer from ‘technology envy’ and the sleek new laptops and phones are more cosmetically satisfying than they are functionally better; but we want one anyway. This applies to TVs, fridges, coffee machines, cars and almost any gadget we own. To supply goods at discount prices savings have to be made……

 

Human Resources, and a ‘resource’ is what we are in the eyes of global industries, is one of the first lines of cost cutting which is why your technology is almost always made in a country with no public healthcare, dilapidated infrastructure, chronic poverty and corrupt officials. For it is in those countries that humans can be bought at the least cost. They work 16 hour days and the concept of health and safety doesn’t appear in the equation. There is no sick pay or paid holidays and the employees dare not challenge the bosses because they are replaceable by the next desperate person……

 

Many companies claim to monitor standards at their far eastern supplier but the reality is that they will be shown a specially set up part of a factory; clean, safe and air conditioned. If they interview employees they are too frightened to speak up. This was brought into sharp focus by the recent collapse of a factory that made clothing for many well known high street brands……

 

The second issue is caused by the technology itself. To make batteries that last longer, motors with more power and the materials that aid miniaturisation we often use what are known as ‘rare earth elements’ such as Boron and Neodymium. By an accident of geology rare earth elements are most common in third world economies. Extracting them requires yet more cheap manpower and extracting them can leave behind toxic chemicals; chemicals that developed nations have strict regulations regarding their disposal. Unscrupulous third world companies simply dump them on the ground or into rivers. Another unfortunate consequence of rare earth elements is their rarity. Hundreds of tons of earth may contain only a tiny amount of the desired element, therefore, extracting them causes the destruction of vast areas of important ecosystems……

 

So, the next time you’re thinking of upgrading to the latest sleek, brushed aluminium mobile phone or laptop, ask yourself if you really need it, because your new phone may be helping to shorten someone’s life, contributing to the extinction of plants and animals, and ultimately halting development of third world countries.

 

And all because multi-national global companies need to pay huge bonuses and increase profits. ‘Sustainable growth’ has to be one of histories most damaging and unrealistic oxymoron ever to have come from a comfortable, air conditioned, over staffed and detached boardroom since ‘think tanks’ came into existence……

The Government’s 0845 Scam…..

9 May

In January the Government quietly put out a press release concerning the extortionate practice of charging the public premium rates for essential services; services that those least able to afford need to use the most.  You will always get through, have to listen to a long and drawn out announcement regarding data protection, followed by a multitude of options only to find yourself on hold for half an hour.  It is not unusual for the person who answered to tell you you’d chosen the wrong option and, unable to transfer you, make you start the whole process again……

Many of those 0845 numbers have been replaced by 0345 numbers which are free in most cases but nothing has been done to publicise this fact.  I asked at the Jobcenter Plus and they claimed to have no knowlege of the new numbers……

Press_Release

For the benefit of those who are unfortunate enough to have to call the DWP regarding the benefits to which you are entitled, even though they portray you as scroungers and people who don’t want to work, I feel it is my duty to inform you of the new, free number……

dwp_free

Incidentally, the income from higher rate 0845 numbers is split between the provider and user, so all those hours you have spent listenning to Green Sleeves earned the Government thousands and thousands of Pounds……

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD……

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Anonymous – The Worlds Third Superpower……

22 Apr

‘Throughout the 20th century Russia and America were the two superpowers in the world with the threat of ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’ holding each other at bay. Now there is a third superpower called Anonymous who, without an arsenal of weaponry at their disposal have the power to bring civilisation to its knees……’

 

The History of Hacking and Anonymous……?

 

Way back in the 70s a group of tech-heads, some employed by telephone companies, began ‘Phreakin’, a harmless activity tapping into phone lines and making calls to other Phreakers, or even to themselves via another far off country by hijacking into phone lines through a back door. The process was simple; build a device known as a ‘Bluebox’ with parts from Radio Shack that generated tones. We’re all used to hearing these tones on modern phone equipment but back then numbers were sent as a series of clicks and the tones were used to open and access the lines. Phreakin was a harmless activity and many of the names now associated with modern computing were in on the act from the start such as Steve Wosniac, one of the founders of Apple, and Bill Gates (no introduction needed).

 

It is from this early form of hacking that the next generation of hackers were born. The most well known amongst them being Anonymous……

 

Giving Hackers a Bad Name……Guy_Fawkes_01

 

A lot of hackers hack because they can. They relish the intellectual challenge of deconstructing programmers’ work and that’s as far as most go. Some will even tell the company about the inadequacies in their systems; offering a unique public service. Anonymous are that kind of group. To the best of my knowledge they have not interfered with databases or sought to profit from their activities. They sometimes make their presence known an ‘alternative’ start up screen from the ones the employees are used to seeing. Sadly, there are a few scammers who seek to exploit their access by making money from their victims……

 

Some Interesting Hacks of Recent Times……

 

‘Stuxnet’ is one of the hackers more interesting creations. Stuxnet installed itself on millions of innocent computers over the course of about two years. It was harmless to the average PC and you’d never have known it was even there. As it spread it found its way into the Iranians’ nuclear facilities. Stuxnet didn’t steal passwords or access codes, what it did was pure simplicity and hats off to whom created it, thought by many to be the American Secret Services. So, how did Stuxnet work? Almost all modern factory equipment is fitted with computerised ‘controllers’. They tell the machines when they are about to run out of something or if they are moving too fast for the production line ahead. There are thousands of these control boxes in every factory, in every country and in every industry. Stuxnet took control over one such operation; namely the RPM of the centrifuges used in the purification of Uranium. Nobody knows how long Stuxnet had sat quietly waiting to perform its eventual task, which was to tell the centrifuges they were running too slowly and needed to speed up. Meanwhile, running a sub-routine to tell the operators that all was normal. The eventual outcome of all this subterfuge was to accelerate the centrifuges until they shook themselves to bits, all without anybody noticing what was happening and with no idea that their computers had been compromised. “Neat, ha” is how I had it described to me.

 

The newest kid on the block is ‘Heartbleed’; the extent of its damage to systems is not yet fully known but they made it clear to users of ‘Mumsnet’ that it had been compromised and login data, user name, pass words etc had been accessed. Mumsnet, to the best of my knowledge, doesn’t use card payment systems, so it is pretty safe to say that nothing malicious has come of that intrusion but, people do tend to use the same pass words over and over again. You can hardly blame them, I had a quick tot up all my accounts and I have somewhere around 60 usernames and passwords, so like a lot of people who can’t perform feats of memory akin to remembering the order of a deck of cards, use some more than once and don’t change them nearly enough. Worse still they will often use a child’s name or birthday. My feeling is that the hackers were pointing out a security flaw and not out to raid peoples’ bank accounts; or why make yourself known?

 

Implications……

 

Unless you have a computer connected to a printer that has never been connected to the internet, the chances are you’ll probably have viruses on it. They are unlikely to do any harm, maybe slow you down a little. The big problems lay with the financial institutions, governments and the military. Any system that uses computers and is not completely isolated from the web is vulnerable, no matter how clever the ‘geeks’ that program them. Systems need to access each other to communicate and no system is foolproof. You can guarantee that someone somewhere can find a back door into the system and taken into consideration the computer controlled environment we live in there are ‘geeks’ tapping away at keyboards in basements all over the world, even if their intentions are innocent and they simply relish the challenge.

 

For all we know there could be a ‘Stuxnet’ quietly installing itself onto your PC right now. To what end nobody can say. Fortunately, it is the geeks that play at hacking for fun; it is the secret services, MI5/6, the CIA and Mossad who are most likely to be tampering with the ‘trigger’. Let’s just hope they don’t get caught by Russia or North Korea, who thinking they are under attack, hit the big red button.

 

It is groups like Anonymous who help to demonstrate the vulnerabilities of government systems. However, if a member was traced and arrested, would they be hailed as moderators? No, you can almost guarantee that we would be told that a member of a terrorist cell had been apprehended, saving us all from destruction and I’ll bet everything I have on which ‘terrorist’ outfit they are connected to. Yep, the non-geographical, highly organised hyper terrorists ‘al Qaeda’. Don’t be put off by the mud huts and rusty pick-ups with Kalashnikovs crudely mounted on the back. Somewhere there is a high tech volcano where Mohamed Scaramanga is plotting world domination. Let’s hope The Department of Homeland Security finds that volcano before they use the death ray on us……

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The Impotence of Our NHS……

7 Apr

‘First and foremost I must stress that there are many caring and hard overworked professionals working for our NHS (NB: OUR NHS, not THE NHS). It will come as no surprise that the problems lie with a group of technocrats who see anything and everything as a business opportunity, including wars, poverty and our health……’

 

Compartmentalisation……

 

Opening services up to ‘competitive’ tendering, or the lowest bidder as you or I would call it, does nothing to improve a patient’s experience or smooth their journey through the system. In practice it may seem like a good idea but without implementing efficient communication protocols leaves the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. This is particularly damaging for mental health and welfare services and, furthermore, it is potentially dangerous as the patients who need these services are often the least able to negotiate the system when breakdowns occur, and they frequently do……

 

Healthcare Tennis……

 

It may have taken 77 years for a Brit to win Wimbledon but the NHS are world class champions at ‘health’ tennis. GPs refer patients to secondary, probably outsourced service who return serve by referring them back. In the mixed doubles version of ‘health’ tennis it becomes more akin to a game of squash, where patients feel they are bounced around until dizziness, or a lack of a diagnosis causes them to collapse and die. The coroner’s report with doubtless score the game as ‘Deuce’; possibly Advantage to the Chancellor……

 

Tapping the Virgin Oil……

 

The first press holds the most value in the world of Olives just as it does in healthcare. Simply cream off the conveyor belt the in and out 10 minute cases and listen to the tills ringing. Refer the ‘second press’ that requires filtering to tennis association……

 

The Benefit of Hindsight……

 

Take a look at every business or industry that has been privatised, which is what is happening to the NHS by stealth, and ask one simple question; is it more efficient, cheaper, convenient and customer friendly? Gas, Electricity, Phones, Railways, Water [ad infinitum]; none of these have returned competitive prices, improved customer services or, for that matter, any benefit that is apparent to most of us. They have delivered higher share prices, dividends and ‘gifts’ to their friendly MPs, who after loosing their seats and spending a couple of years quietly enjoying the fruits of their labour, end up as ‘consultants’, ‘honouree boards members’ and ‘directors without portfolio’, paid for doing absolutely nothing……

 

Your Government does not care about you, your health, wellbeing or quality of life. They are, with a few exceptions like Dennis Skinner and the late Tony Benn, a den of thieves and it is high time the public revolted and the re-appearance of ‘Madam Guillotine’ took centre stage. I’m perfectly happy to apply for the job of ‘rope cutter’ should it become available……

 

Political Jargon Decoded……

 

Looking forwards:     We have failed miserably and done nothing…

Public Enquiry:          By the time this is over everyone will have forgotten…

In the next Parliament:         Empty promises to get us re-elected…

People who want to work hard and get on:          As opposed to the millions who want to do nothing and not get on? (I’ve yet to meet one)

 

The Manifesto in a Nutshell…..

 

One: We will reduce welfare (most of which goes to retired and working people) but we’ll give the impression it’s unemployed people who don’t want to work.

 

Two: We’ll tackle immigration. Give the appearance that all of the country’s problems are caused by those pesky foreigners.

 

Three: There is no three…