MP’s Expenses

The Daily Telegraph’s exposure of MP’s expenses makes excellent reading. The impression is that nearly every MP is claiming as much as they possibly can. Even if the rules say that they can make the claims, the question is whether making claims is within the spirit of the rules. My opinion is that MP’s should be ashamed of themselves. In times of economic recession, when ordinary people are trying to make ends meet this sort of expense claims culture is nothing short of disgraceful.

If the newspaper article is accurate then it appears that MP’s are claiming for such things as household repairs, TV’s for several homes, clothing, chocolate, security that is not needed, stays in luxury hotels, the list is endless.If these people were working for a private company these people would have been sacked.

I don’t know who set the rules for MP’s expenses but I suspect MP’s themselves had a big influence. An MP is there to serve the people. They should be honoured to be in a position to make decisions that improve all our lives. It seems, however, that MP’s see this as not the main reason that they do the job. They appear to see the job as a good little earner where they can get away with things that they know they wouldn’t get away with if they worked somewhere else.

This whole episode will only damage the image of politics even more. The whole political system may end having to change because of this and many politicians exposed as milking the system should do the honourable thing and not contest the next election.

The UK’s Population Problem

I have been looking at a very interesting website called Optimum Population Trust. The website is full of very interesting facts about the UK’s and the World’s population and in particular about what they feel is an over populated planet Earth.

Lets look at the UK facts. In 2008 the population of the UK reached 61 million people. That’s a six fold increase since 1800. The projected population of the UK is expected to be over 69 million people by the year 2050. In 2007 the UK population increased by an amazing  434,700 people, and that is the equivalent of a city the size of Cardiff in just one year ! If this trend continues then the UK population will reach a staggering 100 million people by the end of the century.

The amount of land available to each inhabitant of the UK – to provide for our ecological needs and to absorb the waste products of our consumption – has shrunk to nearly a tenth of that available in 1750. The UK is slightly smaller than Oregon, a single state of the USA. We have a surface area of 24 million hectares of land and inland water to absorb the environmental impacts of all our consumption – that’s less than half a hectare (one acre) each – and this environmental space is shrinking every year.

Clearly, we need enough land and resources to sustain a population of this size but the UK doesn’t have the resources, which means that we have to take resources from other parts of the world. Very soon the UK will have an environmentally unsustainable population.

What’s causing the population explosion?

The Uk’s rise in population is caused by two main factors. Firstly, there are more births than deaths and secondly net migration (more immigrants than emigrants). As medical science advances at a rapid rate we are all going to live longer and also in 2007 there were 237,000 more people entering this country than leaving, and this is just one year as an example.

On the face of things the UK has a lot of open spaces, but it’s not spare land that is the problem it’s our  needs for additional housing, energy and power supplies, reservoirs, schools, hospitals, transport, shops, waste disposal, prisons – and all its impacts in the form of waste and emissions.

What is the government’s attitude to over population ?

Up until very recently no government has tried to tackle the problem, but a government minister did say, in 2008, that the UK population would not be allowed to rise above 70 million.

After reading about the facts of over population I am firmly of the opinion that something needs to be done to limit the number of people in the country. It needs to be done in such a way that the population decreases over a period of time. I don’t know what the solution to the problem is but it must involve limiting the number of people who come into this country in one way or another.

If you want to read more information about this very interesting subject take a look at this website Optimum Population Trust

Is a Cash For Cars Scheme a Good Idea ?

In Germany new car sales have increased it is reported by 40% in the month of March. As part of their economic stimulus package the German government is paying old car owners 2,500 euros towards the purchase of a new car and about 1 million car owners have taken advantage of the scheme so far.

This is obviously good news for German car manufacturers but it is not so good news for car repairers, used car dealers and scrap metal dealers who have all seen a dramatic downturn in business.  So, whilst the car makers are feeling pretty smug about things other trades have been hit.

My opinion is that the car scheme is a good idea. It makes more sense to pump money direct into the economy rather than give it to banks who are still not lending money like they should. So, why choose the car makers to throw money at rather than other industries ? Well, I’m no expert but it’s probably because the car industry employs a huge number of people and if car manufacturing was to disappear then it would be very difficult to get it back.

I like the idea of incentives to buy cars but why can’t it be extended to other products. How about £50 for an old fridge towards the purchase of a greener new model ? Or how about £300 towards a new combination boiler or £100 for a new oven ? The list is endless but at least it gets trade going again and also it helps reduce co2 emissions !

I say lets have a cash for cars, boilers, fridges and ovens scheme here in the UK !

Government Official Quits Over Leaked Emails

Hardly a day goes by it seems  without a scandal breaking out in this Labour government. Now, they have resorted to underhand smear tactics to try and rubbish the Conservative Party and its leaders. Damien McBride an advisor to Gordon Brown has now resigned over his leaked emails to a political blogger. These e-mails were, it is reported, suggestions on ideas for trying to smear the Tory leadership with untrue allegations.

Gordon Brown it is said knew nothing of these emails but it is fair to ask the question – Has this sort of thing being happening for a while ? – Politics is in such a mess at the moment with MP’s expenses being a major issue. The political process needs to be in the best interests of the people that MP’s serve. That’s us ! At the moment, it does not feel like that.

It feels like MP’s want to milk the system for all it’s worth and that they will do nearly anything to make sure that they hang onto the reigns of power. This episode will further erode confidence in the whole political process.

Somali Pirates Must be Stupid or Very Brave

I last posted about Somali pirates back in November 2008 but the problem is still going on. Hopefully now though, they  may have bitten off more than they can chew as they are up against the US navy. Ship captain Richard Phillips is being held hostage in a boat along 4 Somali pirates and there is a US warship close by and several others are on their way.

These Somali pirates must either be very brave or very stupid. If I was afloat in a small boat surrounded by US warships with guns trained on me from all sides I think I would be just glad to get out alive and back to dry land. It’s reported though that the pirates are demanding a ransom for their hostage so it will be interesting how the whole episode pans out.

Knowing the Americans and how trigger happy they can be if would be good if the US navy just blasts them out of the water once the hostage is freed !

Trafford Centre Was To Be Terror Target

Bob Quick the UK anti terror chief has resigned this morning. Good on him for being quick to do so over what was a monumental mistake.

It turns out that one of those men arrested was in fact Rashid Raul who is  an al queda suspect who has been implemented in other terror plots. He was thought to have been killed in a US drone missile attack in Pakistan, but obviously he wasn’t !

Also, it is thought that the targets of these Pakistani suspects were shopping centres and nightclubs. The Trafford Centre is thought to have been one of their high profile targets.

I have to say that I am amazed that militants like this can get into this country. What happened to the governments policy of tighter border controls ? Or is it the case that we can’t prevent them entering the UK because we are in breach of their human rights !

I have no problem with any body living in this country peacefully and in accordance with our laws. The laws and culture in this great country have evolved over the last 1,000 years and we don’t want them destroyed and as long as everybody who lives here agrees to abide by its laws and culture and also speak English then we can welcome them with open arms.

It must be a matter of the utmost urgency that we tighten the UK’s border controls. The government promised to do that but it has obviously failed to do a good enough job, just like it has failed in many other aspects of its job as well. Please can someone get a grip of this country before it sinks !

Bob Quick and his Terror Blunder !

You would think that our countries top anti-terrorist boss would know how to keep a secret ! But no, not Mr Bob Quick. He was photographed walking into 10 Downing Street today with secret papers openly on display. This document had the names of several people  who were being investigated by police for possible terrorist activity and he had the document in his hands where it was possible for a photographer to get details of those names !

For gods sake what was the man thinking ? What has happened to the old fashioned brief case. They were designed for holding valuable documents. But Mr Bob Quick did not have a brief case in sight. For the head of the UK’s anti terrorist force to be so slack defies belief and it has possibly jeopardised the whole operation.

This is not the first time that a high ranking official has been photographed with important documents in Downing Street. I think it was the housing minister who was caught doing the same thing. Add this to all the other lost mobile phones, laptops and CD’s with information that have been lost in the post and the whole thing just adds up to a complete fiasco.

It makes me wonder who we have got running this country. The people in high places should not have to learn by other peoples mistakes but it seems as well as not being able to think for themselves they also don’t learn from previous mistakes. Shameful !

Bob Quick’s boss is, of course, the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith. It seems she has been too busy filling in her expense forms to take any notice of what her staff are doing !

Google Streetview is Great !

I’m afraid that I don’t have much sympathy with protesters in the village of Broughton, just outside Milton Keynes, who prevented the Google Streetview car from taking photographs of their village. Their argument is that Google Streetview is an intrusion of privacy and that it facilitates crime. They say that they should have been consulted first.

Well, firstly, anybody can take a photograph of virtually anything from a public road and secondly, I just don’t see how the risk of crime is increased. If a criminal is intent on robbing a house then he can just go around there anyway and have a look.

I think that the benefits of Streetview far outweigh the risks. If I am thinking of visiting a particular place I can have a look before I decide to go, so that’s good from my point of view. Also, if you are disabled you may want to see a friend or relatives house that you can no longer visit yourself. In effect it brings a map to life and I can now visit places that are far away, just to see what they are like, and all from my PC.

In a few days time I need to go to a part of Leeds that I am not familiar with, so I looked on Google Streetview and found where I am going. When I am driving looking for this place I will now recognise the place and the area I am going, so I don’t have to worry about not finding the place.

I can see that maps of the future will be radically different to what they are today. Satellite Navigation will probably show real street images and you will be able to zoom into virtually any part of our planet using your computer.

I find the whole thing fascinating and I don’t mind who wants to look at my road and my house. If it was live data I wouldn’t like that but its not so I don’t have any issues with it.

Who Wants To Live Forever ?

News that Simon Cowell wants his body frozen when he dies so that he can come back to host future versions of the X-Factor has re-opened the debate about Cryonics. Cryonics is when a body is frozen and then brought back to life in the future when technology has advanced to the extent that this will be possible.

Technology and science is advancing at such a rate that things we think of now as science fiction may well be reality in a few hundred years time, but whether the technology will exist to bring a frozen body back to life and then make that person fit and healthy again really is at the far realms of science fiction !

At the moment, the only way you could have your body frozen is in the United States, however there is a voluntary body of scientists in the UK who have set up Cryonics UK and they are there to offer advice and details of the latest procedures that are available. It seems more and more people are considering being frozen when they die rather than the traditional burial or cremation. It is even possible to set up a fund where you can pay £10 a month towards the costs of being frozen !

Of course, this raises the question of whether you would want to be unfrozen in 200 years time and what it would be like to be alive again after being “dead” for so long ! All your family and friends wouldn’t be around and you might be looked upon as a bit of a freak. Maybe it may not be a bad idea if they could also reverse the ageing process to make you look good again.

Personally, I can see the attraction in Cryonics. I would love to know what the world will be like in the future. Imagine being told that you had an incurable disease but that is was likely a cure would be found in 50 years time. Imagine being told that you had the option of being frozen for 50 years and brought back to live when the cure was available. What would you choose to do in that situation ?

This whole Cryonics thing is fascinating and it, of course, raises many serious ethical issues. Would I do it ? Do you know, I think I would. Why ? Because you have nothing to lose. If it doesn’t work you are dead anyway !

Media Sinks To New Depths in Jade Goody Saga.

The reality TV personality Jade Goody’s battle with cancer has been well publicised in the past few weeks. Her publicist Max Clifford has been milking the poor girls situation for all its worth and obtaining maximum publicity on the grounds that he wants to earn as much money as possible for Jade Goody’s children.

Several newspapers are now beginning to question whether it’s right that she should be going along with the media circus. I must admit that I am uneasy about the situation. It’s a tricky one, but I think I feel that it’s not right. Many people are obsessed with so called celebrities and this attitude is fuelled by the media who are only interested in selling newspapers and magazines.

And it now turns out that OK magazine has published a tribute to Jade Goody with the headlines on its latest edition cover saying “Jade Goody 1981 – 2009, Tribute Edition” and it is supposed to include what her final words have been ! I find it amazing that a magazine has effectively published an obituary before someone has actually died !

The whole media circus surrounding Jade Goody is not really about caring for her but in my opinion seems to be a way of generating more sales on the back of someone else’s misfortune. This countries obsession with celebrities needs to come down several notches. Maybe in times of doom and gloom though we all aspire to being one as we see it as a quick and easy way of escaping the drudgery of everyday life.

More people should look at the longer harder way of becoming a celebrity by actually being useful to society and to themselves. It’s like winning the lottery. You can’t expect to win so you need to use your own resources and achieve your goals through talent, hard work and enterprise.