Monday, March 30, 2009

Is it fair to call our politicians corrupt?

Hands in the till, noses in the trough, riding the gravy train, fiddling the expenses, cheating, crooked, sleazy, corrupt, dishonest...

There are lots of examples we can cite to justify such accusations.

But in Britain, as far as we know, nearly all politicians stick to the rules, the rule-breakers are punished, and the rules are being progressively tightened to catch misuses of taxpayers' money. Transparency and punishments should be greater, but that's not the point.

No, the real story is that the people in power lack judgement. They fail to see that the rules do not currently prohibit behaviour that the public perceives as wrong.

This failure might, in itself, be sufficient reason to doubt their value as decision-makers, unless they possess other skills of great worth. So let's see... financial acumen no, diplomacy no, understanding of science no, commitment to a free and free society no, powers of persuasion no, competence in running services no...

Monday, March 23, 2009

How do you decide who to vote for?

Who's got the best policies?
Who's been proved right in the past?
Who's everyone else voting for?
Who did I vote for last time?
Who looks least like a bunch of losers?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Who's going to do the right thing on climate change?

Politicians want our votes. They tell us that only they care enough to be trusted to sort out schools, hospitals, crime, terrorism, the economy, and tax cuts. And somehow, magically, only they and their friends are competent and honest.

But climate change is different.

If the government screws up education, the NHS, the economy and so on, it can all be put right sooner or later. But if politicians get it wrong on climate change, our planet is wrecked for good.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Instinctive responses

Labour Conservatives LibDems
Economytreat companies as state contractorslet business do what it wantsregulate only when necessary
Climate Changemake the right noisesmake the right noisesdo the right thing
International Relationssuck up to the powerfultalk toughbuild consensus
Schools, Hospitals, Policecontrolgive control to the bossesgive power back to local communities
Freedom versus Terrorismauthoritarian governmentauthoritarian governmentfreedom
Taxationlower before an election, stealth taxes afterlower, whatever the cost to the economyfairness

Friday, March 13, 2009

They're all the same

Labour Conservative LibDems
Had a plan five years ago to prevent the Credit Crunch
Voted best on Climate Change by the Green Alliance
Scrap Heathrow expansion
Scrap university fees
Against illegal Iraq war
Scrap authoritarian laws on detention, ID cards, and storing the DNA of innocent people
Scrap tax loopholes for the super rich
Give power back to local communities to make decisions on hospital closures, school closures, post office closures, the police, housing developments and bin collections
Higher, simpler, fairer pensions
Invest in a proper public transport system

Monday, March 9, 2009

Who's best to fix the economy?

No idea. No, really. I'm not an economist, a business guru or a financial expert.

And the economists, business gurus and financial experts screwed up anyway. So it's anyone's guess who's best to fix the economy.

Except... unlike stocks and shares, can't we use past performance as a guide for the future?

Less than two years ago, the Labour government was telling us how brilliantly it had done
and the economists were telling us how everything was wonderful. And the Conservative party said nothing because it was raking in cash from speculators. So much for the "Official Opposition".

It's all very easy, after the event, to point out that the years of growth were an illusion, created by irresponsible lending. But none of the politicians pointed that out at the time, did they?

Er... except this guy. Since 2003. And his analysis of the situation is widely regarded as the best there is.

OK, he doesn't look like Brad Pitt. And his party the LibDems only got 22% of the vote at the last election, compared with 32% for the Conservatives.

But I know who I'd like to have clearing up this mess.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Police helping terrorists

Boing Boing reports on the case of the British man arrested under terrorism laws for photographing a sewer cover.

The main points here are:
  • He was held in a police cell for two days, his home was searched, his computer was confiscated for analysis, his fingerprints and DNA were taken.
  • There was no evidence he was photographing a sewer cover.
  • He was freed without charge.
  • Photographing a sewer cover is not against the law.
  • His fingerprints and DNA remain stored, despite this being against the law.
This case illustrates how the police are helping terrorists:
  1. By wasting resources like this, there are less resources available for genuine anti-terrorism operations.
  2. By bringing the law into disrepute like this, the police are reducing levels of public support for legitimate anti-terrorism measures in the future.
  3. By compromising the openness of our society like this, the police are letting the terrorists control the agenda.