Saturday, 21 May 2011

Consitutional Crisis Ahoy!

I'm taking especially about super-injunctions and the battleground that is now evolving between Parliament and the Courts.

Parliament enact the law, but once enacted, should abide by the laws it creates. Courts interpret that law. You'd think it'd be that simple. But no a number of spanners have been thrown into the constitutional machine of late. First, the courts decided to interpret the law and step up a level from super-injunctions to the new hyper-injunction. A hyper injunction stops people involved in the court case even talking to their elected Parliamentary representative: their MP.

MPs have seen this as a step too far for the power of the courts and have decided to take matters into their own hands by unsing Parliamentary priviledge to report on these hyper-injunctions and send a message to the courts that they've stepped into an area they shouldn't be stepping into.

The courts have now shot back saying Parliament should abide by the law and not break it.

Wise heads need to prevail and sense needs to be brought back to the legislative process.

First, Parliamentarians should look very closely at the laws they are creating. Its no good griping later when you stood by and rubber-stamped bad legislation. I'd hope now that Parliament will have learned its lesson and start to scrutinise new legislation on the books. Its no good enacting law and assuming it will be used in a certain way if the law is broad enough to be interpreted in a different way that the one intended. It's necessary to add detail to the legislation in order to set boundaries as to its use. Having generic legislation which is to loose in construction may have been well intended in order to catch every circumstance, but such sloppyness cannot be afforded when it comes to law-making.

Second, no matter what the legislation says, the courts should not interfere with the relationship between a person and their member of parliament. If a person feels aggrieved, they must be free to air grievances with the highest authority on the matter. It should be made clear that interfering with that process is wrong.


I was thinking about this last night and I want to add this: Its wrong that a court that is interpreting the law should seek to prevent an aggrieved person from seeking to change bad law by contacting their elected representative and petitioning them to change that law. That's a process that has evolved the law for hundreds of years and I personally feel that its beyond the remit of the courts to try and stop that process.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

No Privacy Laws Here Thank You.

The Dominique Strauss-Khan affair highlights a number of issues.

The privacy laws in France, which allow the elite in society to act with impunity. Given the strict privavcy laws, they feel they can treat what they view as their underlings (i.e. us) any way they like. I mean, to have a law against showing people in cuffs in newspapers seems to be going a bit too far, especially given there is a huge public interest in this most senior of officials allegedly acting in such an improper way.

It seems to be a particularly European thing, the arrogance of the elite. Of course its not restricted to France, as reporters from a number of European countries trying to lift the lid on the dodgy practices at the EU parliament have found. They are summarily ejected from the building even with permission to film and being in a public area. Whether its dressing up in fancy dress to make serious point, or filming MEPs clocking on for a days work leaving immediately, it all ends with the cameras being shown the door.

There seems to be a certain amount of pressure from the great and the good to get something similar onto the statute books here in the UK. Max Mosely  failed to get a simple change to the law implemented and no matter how good his intentions, the law he saught to get put on the books (forcing the media to inform people in advance of publication) would only benefit those with the money to go to court and stop publication. We already have back-door legal actions going on to stop publication of news by the use of super-injunctions, again only available to those with money, or to the courts themselves.

I do feel that all the furore is being whipped up by the elite in order to get some form of legal protection in place for them. I can imagine that they look across to Europe with a hint of jealousy at the protection provided for those of similar standing over on the European Mainland.

The problem with any privacy law is it is a law for the rich and monied: it never protects us normal folk. We could never fight a legal battle against a media giant, so would suffer substantially.

Don't think for a minute that the lives of those of us without fame or money would not be of interest to the tabloids: I think I've mentioned before that I've been close to two newspaper stories and have seen how ordinary people are sucked up, chewed and spat out by the media machine. These were not monied or famous people, but ordinary people that the newspapers felt had a titillating story for their readers. Even though these stories could be considered trivial by most standards, the consequences of them weren't: families were affected and jobs were lost, just for a few column inches. Remember, these weren't stories that had any national interest, nor were serious in any way shape or form, just ordinary people living some of the varied lives ordinary people do.

I would welcome a privacy law if it protected the little people, but of course it won't, because the media storm at the moment is being whipped up by the people that hope to secure their places in the elite no matter how badly they behave. And that sense of security, that blanket is bad in the way it promotes their assumption of superiority, their air of entitlement and their conviction that we are beneath them.

So as it stands I see no need to change the law, given that I fully expect any new legislation however well intentioned at the beginning of the process, to get corrupted to suit the purposes of the elite as it progresses through Parliament. The sad thing is that many people I talk to about the this subject have similar views.

That is the poor state of affairs we have come to, when the population no longer trust those in government, the supposed servants that we elect as our representatives; with good cause given that our representatives seek to hide their actions from the public that elects them to power.

How Long is the Recession Going to Continue?

What recession you may ask, weren't we out of it months ago?

Well technically yes. Recession is determined by a period of negative growth or shrinkage in the economy. We technically came out of recession when the official figures went positive ages ago. But that growth is measured in fractions of a percent, so not very positive.

With Inflation now near 5 percent and set to rise even further, the fractional growth in the economy is wiped out. Currently we're having to run just to keep up. Those with savings are earning possibly a half percent in interest, which again is wiped out by inflation and are in fact losing money in real terms.

So all things considered its a pretty bleak time and the net effect is in real terms a recession.

I said a couple of years ago in a blog on another (now closed down) site the banking crisis and the accompanying recession will last one, maybe two decades before we get to the levels of prosperity we had prior to the bust.

I was told way back then that I was mad to suggest that long a period of recession: most lasted 2-3 years and we would be back on our feet.within that timeframe.

Well, it's now over three years since the start of the banking crisis and things have not improved: if anything they have got steadily worse. The banks still aren't lending at anywhere near pre-crash levels. The problem being the toxic debt still hasn't been purged from the system. The Labour Government's decision to print money as a solution to the problem is now rebounding, with inflation way above target and continuing to rise.

Since the crash we have also promised to prop up not only failing banks, but failing countries too. Now our money is being sunk into securing the dodgy debt of not only our own national banks, but the banks of foreign countries. In return they will be forced, (so we hope) into taking drastic austerity measures in order to repay that debt owed to us. Austerity measures that we ourselves should be taking, given our levels of debt are not
far off Ireland's.

The problem is, we don't have the money to give, instead we borrow from abroad to hand it over to the ECB as part of the finance package, hoping upon hope that the interest Greece, Ireland and Portugal pay on the debt is higher than we're paying on the loan we took on to bail them out and praying to God none of them defaults.

Its no way to run a country and its not going to get us out of recession. Tieing ourselves to supra-national failing economies is a recipe for pain and anguish. When people start to hurt, they need to blame somebody, usually those better off than themselves. I'm just wondering if in ten years time we'll still see the Euro in use, or even the EU as it is today.

What I do know is there is mileage yet in this recession. Several year's worth.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Would You Live your Life in the Cloud?

Now that Sony are kickstarting their network back into life, maybe its time to review your file security. After all, if someone as big as Sony can get hacked, anyone can.

I mean, would you really still consider cloud computing or online file storage services after such a huge hack? I know I wouldn't. All those files, all that information just waiting there to be hacked and accessed.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

The Inexorable Fall of The Graduate.

We all know it: that today, university degrees are worth far less these days than they were decades ago. Thanks to pressure from government and acedemics looking to create huge numbers of teaching roles, the number of young people leaving university with degrees has increased in magnitude. The thing is, where are the jobs for all of these graduates and, more importantly where are all the jobs going to be for those that don't follow the higher academic path?

The problem is, as the better jobs dry up for grads, there begins a trend down the job ladder, with graduates taking jobs that would normally be filled by those that followed a vocational education path. Its a trend fully established in the UK, with very few apprenticeships compared to degree courses and graduates unable to find decent jobs upon leaving university..

But as new graduates aim lower and lower in the job market, whats going to happen to those lower down? I can foresee a time when graduates will be doing even the most simple jobs and there will be very few if any jobs for those leaving school that don't go to university. What exactly, do we do with those people?

Add into the mix unfettered immigration fom the continent and all I can see in the future is a whole section of society disenfranchised from the rest, alienated and angry.

I can't see any policy moves by the government that seek to address this huge problem. We seem to be set on a course that is guaranteed to generate a whole section of society forever dependent on benefits, unable to make their own way in the world creating drag on growth and wealth.

No Cuts for the Political Elite

It seems those in government don't fancy sharing the pain the rest of are suffering because of their actions.

Nope, they couldn't bear to part with their wine cellar.

So the Champagne will still flow for the Socialists and there'll be plenty of full-bodied Claret for the Tories.

I don't know about the Lib-Dems. I'm sure they'll settle for something from Tesco or Asda if the Tories tell them to.