Thursday, 21 January 2010

Kraft vs Cadburys

Hopefully the Kraft's deal to buy Cadburys will die before it really begins. Numerous people on this side of the Atlantic have come out opposing the deal, even Kraft Shareholders like Warren Buffett think the deal is a step too far for the company.

I'm reminded of this headline:

Yes, that was Heinz taking HP Sauce production abroad. Another takeover of a UK institution which ended in jobs going abroad.

I've had almost first-hand experience of something similar: I worked for ICLs manufacturing division and left when I saw the writing on the wall. A year later the whole division was hived off into a new entity called D2D. Not long after, it was sold to Canadian firm Celestica, who eventually closed all the UK manufacturing plants down and moved the work and jobs to Eastern Europe.

It really seems that our companies, our skills, our heritage, are all open for the higest bidder to remove. Just what do we, the working folk of this country get in return? Any idea anyone? Because I don't see any benefit in the decades-long firesale of our country's jobs. Just what will we be left with, ashes of a once-great nation, to tread into dust as we walk to our low-income third-world jobs?

Inflation: The Seismograph Ticks Louder

I've held off blogging about the 2.9 percent inflation rate in order to view all of the comments.

First off, the Bank of England (who remember are teasked with keeping the inflation rate a 2 percent) said it couldn't keep inflation at 2 percent because the factors at work were out of its control. So, just run that by me again: the institution supposedly given the task of controlling the UK economy doesn't actually have any control. Nice. In fact, what it really has is influence. It can only influence the rate of inflation by indirect means, such as raising the borrowing rate, or issuing more currency. But what happens when events run beyond the scale of those influencing mechanisms as I believe they will this year? We ride the inflation rollercoaster, that what.

So, with the current mechanisms, the Bank of England doesn't control the inflation rate: are you starting to feel uneasy? You should do.

There's a good chance gas prices will rise after this severe winter, pushing inflation up more. You may not have noticed, but prices on some high-end "luxury" goods such as TVs and Blu-Ray players crept up over December (before the VAT rise). They'll continue to rise as more expensive imports (thanks to the devaluation of the pound) filter through. With the increase in VAT on top, you should see noticable change in those prices. Sadly, the same can be said of food, thanks to our tough winter, I'm sure we'll be importing proportionally more food this year, so expect prices to lift there too.

Notealso that the figure is based on comparing last November with this November. So even with a low VAT rate, there was a 2.9% increase. When the VAT rate goes back up to 17.5% it'll be interesting to see what the rate will be, comparing January to January. Quite high I reckon.

Which brings us back to those mechanisms of influence: its a certainty that interest rates from the BoE will rise sharply, increasing payments for those that have been enjoying historically low mortgage rates. So if you're selling a house, or thinking of selling, you have a tight window of opportunity before rates rise and buyers start to disappear. Better to stay put I think, unless you're downsizing.

Ready for that double-dip everyone?

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

The Lonliness of the Long-Term Carer

This case and this one as well show all to clearly the stresses carers go through when supporting loved ones.

While I won't dwell on the subject of whether its morally acceptable to kill a loved one to end their grief, all I can say is that if there was no other motive than to end the suffering of a loved one, what is the point of prosecution? It won't serve as a deterrent, because when carers get to the state of mind where they feel that ending a loved one's life is far better than leaving them alive then really, are they at that very moment, in control of their sanity?

If there was some ulterior motive, like killing the child to make way for a new boyfriend, then I would say yes, a charge of murder is justified. But in both these cases, surely manslaughter due to diminished responsibility is a far more just charge?

If you look deeper, there are similarities between the two cases: two women each with siblings that needed intensive care and were inextricably bound up in providing that care. They were at an age where things start to go wrong with the body. I'm sure it crossed their mind several times: who would look after their child when they had passed away? Would they be guaranteed the current level of care? Was the current level of care adequate in the first place? Did they have to fight tooth and nail to get even the most basic level of support for their children? Prior experience with support services may have made them believe that their children would have suffered greatly if they weren't there to provide a decent level of care.

I know those self same thoughts have crossed my mind several times when dealing with my son (not killing him I hasten to add, but wondering just how he would survive independantly if I were to be run over by a truck for instance). I know the frustrations that comes with dealing with beaurocracy, I know the excuses given by all the services to deny even the most basic support. I've been there in the pit of despair and its not a pretty place to be.

The judge in the first case was correct: there is no such thing as a mercy killing. But really, to try someone pushed to the edges of sanity for murder serves no real purpose.

Sporting Cash-Cows?

In the local Portsmouth News paper tonight there is a large section about the financial troubles of Portsmouth football club. Indeed the sporting section of their website is dominated by Pompey's troubles. It seems that someone, somewhere in the history of the club hasn't been exactly prudent with the finances. Sad to say, they are in a pretty big hole and unlikely to climb out of it. The rumour is the club is worth more as a property development opportunity than a viable football club.

Also in the news we have this report showing that Manchester United's debt have now reached over £700 Million. I've seen reports that Manchester United may find it hard to keep up with the other clubs thanks to the drag induced by the large amount of debt. Sounds a bit like the UK economy!

I do wonder if this is going to happen to other clubs, especially as the cost of debt is due to rise sharply.

It seems that the money men are taking advantage of the large amounts of money running through premiership clubs. Just another commodity to be exploited. Its a shame, but thats what happens when a sport turns into a multi-million pound business.

The same can be said of formula one motor racing, where there are tremendous pressures to make huge changes to satify corporate clients. Luckily, the sport has been able to accommodate the corporate sector without changing too much. Although some would say the recent changes such as night races at new circuits are a sign that the history of F1 is being abandoned at the behest of the big corporations.

Its a pity that the traditional stomping grounds of the corporate sector have been abandoned in favour of chasing better returns in sporting and other fields, because once they have control, they want to change the playing field to suit themselves, ruining the very cash-cow that attracted them in the first place.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Why are the Left so Behind in the Blogospheric War?

Under the surface of the blogosphere and on political sites especially, there is a constant sniping battle going on about how the right wing sites are successful so therefore they must be financed behind the scenes and the Left clamour for more money in order to brige the blogospheric gap between the two ideologies.

Money isn't the problem.

Its Labour and the left. Who in their right mind wants to stand up and sanction the madhouse that is currently the Labour party and especially the nutters in the cabinet? Not one of their policies even comes close to the needs and wants of the majority of the population. So why would someone like me, an ordinary person create a blog to praise these mad policies?

So instead, to try and redress the balance, we have the professional or semi-professional left-wing blogs, run by apparatchiks and ideological dingbats who steadfastly refuse to contradict anything Labour does.

New policy will never come from readily agreeing with the staus quo. Right now, Labour is on course to be obliterated at the next election. Right now they need a radical change of direction. Right now, left wing blogs should be crying loudly for change in order to avert disaster. Instead, they clamour for more of the same.

Not even those the right would class as the "standard" Labour voter, those people on benefits who thrive under leftist welfare policies are blogging in any significant way. Not because they don't have the nous to: anyone can set up a blogger account. Its not because they don't have internet access: talktalk provide really cheap access should you need it. No, its because they don't care about politics. They are happy to receive the benefits, but don't really care where they come from or who is in power delivering them. They will I'm sure, become very vocal once those benefits start to disappear though. One of the reasons I predict riots this year.

The issue in all of this is that those very recipients of spendthrift Labour policies feel so devolved from politics and the political process and have been for decades, that they don't feel they can change anything. Thats why they vote and support Labour: not because they've looked at the policies, but because their father voted Labour, or they believe (in my opinion wrongly) that the Labour party still stands up for the working (and nowadays non-working) class.

The final reason for the lack of Left-of-Centre support in the blogosphere is that the people that do watch politicians, do understand politics and blog about it all are the middle classes. The people that Tony Blair famously courted and Gordon Brown has made his life's work to castigate. The people that only now, at the eleventh hour, Gordon Brown is trying to placate. However, empty rhetoric without actions will not impress the chattering classes. If they have the opportunity, they will speak this year, they will remove him from power.

The sad news is that Dismal Dave's mob, for all their online support are no better.

ClimateGate: IPCC Caught out Again

It seems that the IPCC have been caught making spurious claims to back up its global warming thesis. 

Dr van Ypersele said:
"I don't see how one mistake in a 3,000-page report can damage the credibility of the overall report".

I can. It damages the credibility of a report because it shows a tendency to include any unfounded, unproven statement that backs up your thesis.  It shows a tendency to sex-up any and all statements in your favour and label them as fact. It shows an apparent desperation to prove your point.

It shows that once you start really looking and scrutinising man-made global warming, cracks start to appear in the so-called "settled" science.

I can thoroughly recommend the EUReferendum blogsite for bloody good read and a determined campaign to out the scam that is man-made global warming.

In fact I really should add it to my list of sites....