Monday, 10 May 2010

A Right to Free Speech?

Amongst the fuss and palaver about proportional voting systems and coalitions you might have overlooked the fact that a dangerous criminal was brought to book today. Paul Chambers, 26 has been fined £385 and told to pay £600 costs after being found guilty. He has already lost his job as a trainee accountant as a result of his arrest and prosecution.
This convicted criminal will find it hard to get work and quite right you might think. His crime? To tweet “Crap! Robin Hood Airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!”.
Not the cleverest comment, some might even think it is not funny, but can you honestly support spending tax payers money on a prosecution and condemning a man for the rest of his life just because of a tweet. Words fail me.
For the full story see here and here.

Will it be a Lib-Lab Pact After All?

So, Gordon Brown has announced his resignation and Clegg has opened negotiations with the Labour party. I think that this could be the end of David Cameron and his disastrous policy of, er, not having a policy. The inability of the opposition party to capitalise on an abysmal thirteen years in power must surely lead to the Tory party tearing itself apart. Let us hope that something more like the real Tory party emerges from this act of self-destruction.

STV or AV?

The Electoral Reform Society have published a news release titled “STV & the parliament that might have been”. The release shows three tables which illustrate how the results of last week’s poll would have been had we been using either the single transferable vote, STV, or the alternative vote, AV, systems. The tables are as follows:

It looks like we would have been stuck with a hung parliament whichever system had been used. The question is would STV or AV always result in a hung parliament as many suspect? A quote from Dr Ken Ritchie, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, would seem to support that when he says “The parliament that might have been would also have brought a hung parliament. But with STV, coalitions, cooperation and debate aren’t aberrations, they are the rule.” Do we want to have a coalition after each election?

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Result Misery

There is one thing that has been bothering me during the recent campaigning and that is every time a politician talks about halving the deficit, interviewers and analysts respond as if the topic under discussion is halving the debt. Why has nobody pointed out that they are not the same thing? If I spend £15,000 last year when I had £10,000 income and then prudently halve my deficit this year to £2,500 then my debt will have increased by 50% to £7,500. How is that better? It is just less worse than it might have been. Running a deficit of any size increases debt and I was led to believe that our debt was already too high.
Still it may be just a pipe-dream that I will ever see this country with a negligible debt. Take a look at the post titled ‘Tackling Our Fiscal Black Hole - People Ain't Dumb’ by Wat Tyler on Burning Our Money which states that just to reduce our ‘government debt back to the maximum safe sustainable level relative to national income (the maximum level reckoned by the IMF and others to be 60%)’ we need to:
cut spending or increase taxes by £180bn pa. Which in round numbers is the equivalent of:
  • £7000 pa extra taxes/ lower spending per household;
  • increase in the basic rate of income tax to 65p; or
  • increase in the standard rate of VAT to 57%; or
  • 25% off total public spending

Just look at those numbers, 65% income tax, 57% VAT. We really are in a bad way.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Which Button Would You Click?

Click for larger image

During the course of installing Adobe Reader this morning I was presented with the dialogue box illustrated above. The second sentence asks "Once instalation is complete, stop installing all other applications?" Which button would you click on and what do you think would happend then?