Friday, 3 April 2020

COVID-19: Looking to the Future.

We really need to start talking about what happens after COVID-19, a bit like the post-Brexit discussions of a few months ago.

The World Health Organisation really needs to start acting positively against China and it's wet markets. The WHO needs to pressure them to improve hygiene standards in their country. We've already had reports that as China comes out the other side. the wet markets and their abysmally poor standards are coming back as well.

The WHO need to pressure China into closing those markets down, banning them and improving standards within the country. They need to re-educate the population that it's a pretty shit thing to have several wild animals in cages close together with humans. Especially when it eventually kills hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.

Given that China started SARS and now COVID-19, the whole world needs to put some leverage on the Chinese government.

It's now no longer an internal Chinese problem, it's a worldwide problem. And the world needs to act.

If necessary sanctions need to be applied.

A secondary issue that has arisen out of the COVID-19 is the reliance on China as a manufacturer. When the crunch came, countries didn't have the manufacturing capacity to manufacture something as simple as a paper facemask or a plastic face shield within their borders. Such has been the reliance on China to produce EVERYTHING.

When it comes to health products, in the UK the NHS needs to investigate their supply chains and build in some resilience. No more should we depend on China for sub-standard products or for any healthcare products.

Hopefully this should be a paradigm shift for the world when it comes to healthcare supply.

Masks, face shields, ventilators, it appeared at the beginning that none of those were actually made within the UK.

That has to change.

And taking production and supply of those products away from China has to be the first step towards sending them a message that enough is enough. They need to change their ways.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

COVID-19: Out of quarantine, but no masks.

Well, I've done my 7 days, feeling OK. The lodger seems to be OK too. He's decided to hole up at his girlfriends for the next few weeks.

I'm back at work catching up on the details of how things have changed over the past 7 days.

Certainly shopping has changed massively as shops are now restricting numbers.

As the news is reporting mandatory mask wearing in public, I thought I'd have a look at availability.

Amazon are restricting availability of all masks to hospitals or care organisations. So no availability there.

Checking eBay, there are plenty of substandard-looking Chinese import masks around. From reports in the press, there are a proportion of these that are not fit for use.

Those decent quality masks seem to be vastly overpriced from what they were only a fortnight ago.

Checking Screwfix and ToolStation for fume masks shows no availability.

So, the government may come out with a law for mandatory wearing of masks in public, but where the hell do you get them from?

Friday, 27 March 2020

COVID-19: More Gaps

I'm currently on 7-day quarantine after having a temperature on Wednesday.

Its's given me time to see more gaps and inconsistencies.

For instance: if unneccessary journeys by car are being effectively banned, why aren't private aircraft? I'm lookinbg right now and a private jet has just landed at Farnborugh from Barcelona. Spain being a virus hotspot, I just wonder if the passengers and crew on that aircraft will isolate for 14days on arrival?

Or doesn't the lockdown apply to people with money?

Currently I can see half a dozen private aircraft in the air. That excludes air ambulances and rig support helicopters. This is just executive jets and helicopters.

Despite the protestations of some airlines, it seems others are still flying. It would be interesting to note how many passengers are on those aircraft. Given that most countries are not accepting tourists or non-residents ion, there still seems a lot of aircraft wandering the world.

I just hope they're carrying freight and no humans.

As for me, hopefuly my company will still be open next week and I can get back to work.

Nice to see the government is helping he self employed. They just need to pick up those people that drop through the cracks. For instance my daughter who has had to leave work because her childminder has closed down.  She's not getting paid during this time, just leave without pay. As she's technically still employed she gets no benefit and because her company are still trading, she's not elegible for the 80% of her wages being paid. She's effectively removed herself from work.

My final concern is how do we pay for all of this? I assume taxes will be high for a few years to pay it all back.






Tuesday, 24 March 2020

COVID-19: Gaps, I see Gaps everywhere.....

Okay,

We're getting serious now. Boris has shut all the shops. But even now, after the most draconian rules put in place in the country's history (bar the Black Death), people are still not taking heed.

Here in Portsmouth all the pubs have done is blacked out the windows and are still open. Enter by the back entrance, cash-only, not on the books, nudge-nudge. The first gap that needs plugging. Landlords need to be warned and if they continue then fined and then hauled to the cells for a night. Maybe then they'll see sense. That's gap number 1.

My daughter works for a car spares supplier as a delivery driver. They're staying open as they are classed as essential. She can put her older son in school, but her childminder has shut up leving her literally holding the baby. She's can't go to work. She's not covered by the Government's 80% wage payment. She's now down to one wage coming into the house.
I've already had to drop a parcel containing nappies and baby food.
No help for her. Gap number 2.

The self-employed are kicking up a stink about the lack of support for them. The thing about being self-employed is making sure you save for a rainy day because your not eligible for benefits or holiday pay or any other employee benefits. That's why being self-employed you always charge more than an employee. You get paid more to cover your expenses and to salt an amount away for the bad times. You create your own safety net in the form of public liability insurance and critical illness cover. You keep money in the bank to cover you when you can't work for sickness or holiday and tide you over the lean times. The key is the phrase self-employed: you rely on yourself to provide all of those things, not someone else. Gap number 3 (Sort of).

If your client (not employer) is forcing you to work for the equivalent of a salary, then you shouldn't take the money. Simple as. That's why the so-called "gig economy" annoys me so much. Why would you do it if you cannot afford your own safety net? If you are SELF-employed, why would you expect someone else to pay sickness pay or holiday? That's probably for another time including the stupid IR35 tax rules.

Anyway. The wife is still working (care manager) and I'm still selling car parts. However our counter service and workshop services have closed to comply with Boris' announcement last night.

Tesco across the road was rammed at 8am this morning. People still don't get the idea of social distancing. I blame the schools for making so many idiots and society for not allowing kids to be slapped when they were growing up. We have a nation of adult children with no sense of responsibility. Gap Number 4.

Right now my son messaged me to say he needs kitty litter  and me and the Mrs need milk.

After last weeks shenanigans where I was apparently the only person in the family able to get bog roll, it seems I've been designated the man who can (find stuff to buy) by the family. I'm the official family scavenger.


Thursday, 19 March 2020

COVID-19: The Madness of Crowds.

The panic-buying phase seems to be without end at the moment... how much stuff can these people pack away? Lofts across the country must be groaning at the huge amount of baked bean tins stored up there.

Roof fires across the country will also be on the rise due to the amounts of toilet roll stored in lofts too.

It's crazy.

I've had to buy toilet roll for my daughters on two separate days now. The downside of having kids and running your life round them rather than scouring the shops for supplies.

Luckily there's a Tesco across the road from work and I can nip in first thing to get the stuff.  But really, it opens at 7am and by 9am it's down to the last few bog roll options.... madness.

I see people are abusing shop staff when they get told they can't buy the shop out in one go. Almost always foreigners. The government may talk about the Dunkirk spirit, but a these days a large percentage of the country have no idea what Dunkirk or Blitz Spirit is, because they have no family history of suffering the privations of world war 2.

Anyhoo, I'm still at work despite government advice to the contrary. We don't have antiseptic hand gel, because we can't get any. Risk takers, ain't we?

Just had a blood pressure consultation this morning. It's way high because my stress response has been triggered. Not because of COVID-19, that I can handle. No, it's because my autistic son has been refused PIP payments.

The original fight to get him on DLA nearly cost me my sanity and left me with hypertension. I'm not looking forward to having another battle.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

COVID-19: Working Against Medical Advice

Well, despite the advice given out by Boris yesterday, I'm at work today.

The advice being if you are eligible for the 'flu jab, then you should isolate for 12 weeks.

Guess what Boris, I can't isolate for 12 days let alone 12 weeks because I can't afford to.

SSP will not pay the bills.

My council tax hasn't been deferred, nor my car insurance, nor rent or my other outgoings. The only good news is I have a couple of week's worth of food in the house now.

So, I am at work today with all of my colleagues. We haven't shut the shop yet because the government hasn't given any advice in that regard. So currently we are serving customers and trying to mitigate infection transfer.

Customers that hand us keys now put them in a tray rather our hands. We wash our hands after each time serving in the shop.

And that's about s much as we can do.

If the virus becomes more endemic, no detail yet, but the owners may look at closing the shop and sticking with online and telephone orders only.

Monday, 16 March 2020

COVID-19: The Current Expected Scenario.

Okay, here's my take on the outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic with current biosecurity efforts in place.

All this talk of herd immunity is tosh. It's based on totally irrelevant presumptions that once infected the population has immunity and cannot be infected a second time.

So, after the virus has swept through the population that isn't isolated, we can expect around at least 1% to die. If the numbers increase so much that there are no ventilators for those that become extremely sick, then we can expect those percentages to rise exponentially. As high as 30% mortality at the height of the infection for some parts of the community.

Anyway, the majority survive the first wave and everyone in the UK that has had the virus is now beyond the infectious stage.  And I mean everyone.  If there is a virus shedder out in the wild, then infections and re-infections will continue along with deaths, until everyone is not a shedder.

If there is someone out there that is still shedding the virus, then we continue going round and round and people die 1% or more at a time until the population thins out enough that natural separation takes over. People are so thinly spread out that they don't come into contact with each other and the virus self-isolates until people stop shedding.

Let's say we are successful in isolating the virus and there is no-one in the UK that is infectious and in six months time we open the borders. If anyone shedding the virus arrives from abroad, then we get the whole cycle all over again, because there is no herd immunity, that's bollocks. People will catch another bought of the virus.

Then we go through phase 2, another round of closures, isolations and deaths until we get it under control. Again.

Hopefully we learn and keep the borders closed. Until EVERYONE IN THE WORLD is beyond the infectious phase.

Then we can open the borders again.

Otherwise this becomes the global equivalent of the Bubonic Plague: global numbers decrease until we're all isolated enough to stop infecting each other. What global population figures are for that to happen are anyone's guess.



COVID-19: Blind Faith.

Here in the UK, the government has decided to abandon testing of suspected COVID-19 carriers.

It's instead relying on anyone displaying certain symptoms to self-isolate, whether they have the virus or not. Unfortunately if they are displaying symptoms, they have already been spreading the virus for a week or more.

But the lack of testing means the government is blind to the scale of the virus. Without sight of the scale of the virus, without finding carriers and identifying contacts, the government will be unaware of the scale of the pandemic in the UK.

In a situation like this, with a virus like this, the lessez-faire approach will not work. The virus reacts best to a strong and determined response. Those countries that have taken strong action are amongst those that have the lowest infection rates and mortality rates.

Those like Italy that acted to little too late, are amongst the worst affected.

The government should be testing anyone and everyone, so that previously unidentified pockets and carriers of the virus can be identified and isolated.

Yes, we should be ramping up production and purchase of ventilators to guard against the worst case scenario, but the virus is far from endemic. But to avoid a mass breakout of the virus we need to get those previously unidentified pockets identified and under control.

The production of testing kits needs to be ramped up and people need to be tested even though they don't have symptoms. That's the problem with this virus: you can be infected and be infecting others without displaying symptoms.

So the current advice to wait until you are displaying symptoms is wrong-headed. You need to be testing those NOT displaying symptoms.

The CMO Chris Whitty is still hoping that COVID-19 acts like the 'Flu. It doesn't. Waiting for symptoms is too late. Waiting for the end of the typical 'flu season is too late.

I've heard him and other experts talking about herd immunity. There is none. People can be infected and gain no immunity. People get COVID-19 and then can get re-infected.

Here''s the definition of herd immunity:

herd immunity
noun
  1. the resistance to the spread of a contagious disease within a population that results if a sufficiently high proportion of individuals are immune to the disease, especially through vaccination.
    "the level of vaccination needed to achieve herd immunity varies by disease"


The UK health experts are working on a false premise because humans do not display any immunity after infection with COVID-19.  There is no vaccine. It's already been reported that a woman in Japan was infected, then tested negative and then tested positive again a week later, I assume because she was exposed to an active shedder of the virus again.

Expecting the herd to garner some form of immunity after infection is nonsense. We need to work on the premise that unless isolated from the herd, the virus will continue to spread.

We need to do as other countries do and identify and isolate those that are carrying the virus and are infectious. Once they are no longer infectious then as far as we are aware, they are safe to re-enter the community.

The other thing is, if COVID-19 can re-infect individuals and they get no immunity from infection, then a vaccine would be a hard thing to develop. There may never be an effective vaccine.

The government are playing fast and lose with this one. We need to get a grip and get it done soon.

Friday, 13 March 2020

A Poor Response (To COVID-19)

Yesterday the Prime Minister made a statement that I thought was bold and truthful: that people will lose loved one to COVID-19.

He said the only thing we could hope for would be to flatten the infection curve to avoid too many needless deaths of those who fail to get treatment due to patient overload of the NHS.

He's to be commended on being so forthright and truthful.

But the actions of the government don't bear out the severity of the challenge facing us. Currently the action is to avoid economic issues, rather than medical issues.

Social distancing measures should be put in place NOW. All public gatherings over 100 people should be stopped with immediate notice. Schools should allow those families able to look after kids outside of school to remove them from the classroom.

I understand that not all families will have the option, so at least limit the spread by removing children from the schools that can be looked after at home by their families. At least it's a sensible compromise.

Cancel all sporting events and public gatherings. Theatres, cinemas and the like need to be shut down.

Weddings are borderline, possibly give advice that only close family and friends you have regular contact with should attend and the wider circle that you hardly ever have contact with should be politely turned away.

Supermarkets should be limiting the numbers of people walking round the stores. Sensible people that can't use delivery services should be shopping at Tesco and Asda 24Hr stores at midnight or the small hours of the morning.

Public transport should be shut down or at least numbers carried should be limited. No crushing people in like sardines on the Tube. Numbers limited so there is space between people. Those that can work from home should be doing it NOW.

Certainly travel should now be limited to essential travel only.

It's all sensible stuff that will buy us some time.

I'm not heartened by the Chief Medical Officer likening this epidemic to the 'flu. This is not flu.

COVID-19 has the ability to re-infect time and time again. The only measure that can slow it down is to stop people coming into contact with others that are in the process of shedding the virus. Once those shedders stop being infectious, then they are safe and so is the rest of the community at large.

Unless the virus has the ability to re-emerge like Herpes. That is something we don't yet know and can't yet predict. But the best defence is to limit the number of infections. Nor can we predict other infection routes, like sexual contact. That's all for further study, but the thing we do know is it's contracted by contact and it's also airborne.

There need s to be a barrier between EVERYBODY as anyone can be carrying the virus. You need to get the infection rating of each infected person down to as close to 0 as possible.

So the advice should be to limit contact with anyone outside your immediate daily contacts. Be on high alert at work and managers should be prepared to send people home that feel in any way unwell. People should be prepared to self-isolate anyway. They should also be allowed to self-isolate, there should be no pressure on them to go into work.

In general people should be limiting physical contact, keeping at least a metre away from strangers and doing all they can to limit cross-contamination. This is in addition to the washing hands advice, which is okay for a virus that only spreads by contact. COVID-19 is airborne, so keeping distance away from people and avoiding breathing in their breath is the only way to stop it. If you can smell Mr Garlic breath, you're too close.


Wednesday, 11 March 2020

A Very Good Budget.

Indeed it was.

Most things covered, including last minute changes due to COVID-19.

Not much for Labour to pick at, but they will, obviously.  Probably saying they'd spunk even MORE money for the NHS, just because they reckon they can piss higher.  All very easy when you go second and don't even have to prove it.

Fuel duty shelved for another year. Great, a year of cheap petrol to grease the wheels of the economy, or to get you to the Highlands of Scotland when the zombie apocalypse.. I mean COVID-19 pandemic really hits hard. Or petrol for the outboard as you search for an isolated island somewhere...

Didn't see much for the airlines,. cruise and tour operators or the like.

But the business loan scheme, underwriting SSP for small businesses and the business rates holiday are all welcome.

Oh and Dominic, if you are reading this.... don't keep nicking my ideas, contact me.


Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Trevor Phillips Expelled from Labour for Racism. Selective Racism, that is.

So Trevor Phillips, the person so trusted by the Blair Labour government to be in charge of the Equality Act, has been expelled for racism.

Did he, like many other Labour supporters call out the Jews? Nope.

Did he like many Black Labour supporters call out White People? Nope.

Did he like other Labour members denigrate the working class? Nope.

So what did he do then?

He called for more investigation into the Muslim grooming gang phenomenon. He asked for an investigation into the motivations of the majority Pakistani Muslim men. Why would a bunch of men from a limited section of  the Muslim community feel they could do this. Why is the phenomenon of Muslim grooming gangs repeated across the country?  Why is the rest of the Muslim community turning a blind eye to the issue? Why are these men not being reported to Police by other Muslims?

And for that he was labelled a Racist and expelled from the Labour Party.

Welcome to the other side Trevor. Welcome to being called racist for just questioning the motivation of these child rapists. Welcome to being called racist for pointing out their ethnicity. Welcome to being called racist for even pointing out the fact that grooming gangs exist. Welcome to being called racist for pointing out they are Muslims.

Welcome to the atmosphere that prevents law enforcement from doing it's job and arresting and prosecuting these men in a timely manner.

Welcome to the atmosphere that allowed these gangs to rape thousands of children while the authorities looked on, powerless. Lest they be called racist too.

Welcome, Trevor Phillips to the insanity that is modern Britain.

Maybe, just maybe Trevor, you understand how the majority of us normal, sensible people feel now.

Judging by your reply to the Labour party you do. You may ask as many questions as you want, but you will never get a reply, you will never get a fair hearing, you will never remove that tag of "racist".

You are labelled. You are an un-person.

You will be silenced, you will be de-platformed, you will not be allowed to speak up. Ever again.

Forget the Labour party and the Elites and the so-called professionals on the Police force or in the courts. They will not support you.

Now is the time to ask yourself why. Now is the time to look further, look beyond the shallow shills in the elites. Ask yourself: why?

Ask yourself why this blindness and active shutting down of information, investigation and debate is not just limited to the Labour party, or the schools, or the colleges, or the universities, or Government, or the Police and other Emergency Services, or the courts, or the media, or even the Armed Forces.

Ask yourself who is coordinating that same attitude across all those agencies? And above all, why?


Thursday, 5 March 2020

Bias of The Independent

I see that the Remain-Supporting lawyer Jolyon Palmer is being described in a headline by the Independent as a Brexit Lawyer who clubbed a Fox to death, but in the actual online article he is accurately labelled an Anti-Brexit Lawyer.

The article is here but you can see the headline in the URL: https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/no-charges-for-brexit-lawyer-who-clubbed-fox-to-death-in-wife-s-kimono/ar-BB10MVoe?ocid=msedgntp

The media can't help themselves portraying Brexiteers in a bad light.

COVID-19 Government's top Doictor admits it's out in the wild now.

Back in my Game Changer post over 3 weeks ago I aid that the virus was most liklely out in the wild and therefore more likely to spread and less likely to be controlled.

Well, Professor Chris Whitty, the Cheif Medical officer has admitted as much. There are now a handful of confirmed cases where there is no defined source of the virus. i.e. no direct link to an outbreak or pocket of the virus.



Video courtesy of the Sun.

So those people in the planes with the "super-spreader" that came over from France, the people he walked past or stood in a queue with may have the virus and not know about it. Those people he had contact with may have had further contact and it's these secondary and tertiary contacts that are cropping up when tested.

It's safe to say there are by now thousands of people with the virus. My colleague across the desk has today taken a day off sick after being in work for the past few days with a serious upper chest infection. My previous comments re: sick pay stand and he's a prime example.

Of course we have put up with things like coughs and colds in the past with very little impact because even serious influenza kills a very low percentage of people that catch it. 0.1 percent or something similar.

COVID-19 has a far higher mortality rate, initially listed as 10%. But even that is an order of magnitude higher than 'flu.

Now there are unconfirmed reports the mortality rate could be as high as 30%.

The reports that there are two strains of the virus might be the only saving grace. It looks like the UK carriers have the less deadly/aggressive strain and people are just putting up with coughs and chest infections and the number of fatalities will be low.

My only current criticism is that even Chris Whitty in the video above assumes an 80% infection rate across the country, but then goes on to say that this figure is based on the 'flu and assumes some level of immunity after infection. At that point his predictions don't bear scrutiny, because as far as is known, infection with COVID-19 imbues the sufferer with no such immunity. They can be re-infected immediately if exposed to an infection.

We still haven't clearly understood if the virus has some form of dormant state where it fails to register on tests, so it's entirely plausible that once infected, people can re-infect themselves, until the point the infection overwhelms their system and they succumb and die.

The eventual infection rate will most likely be close to 100% with no natural immunity to re-infection. So coughs and chest infections will be the future of humanity in the short term at least. As long as we keep the nasty strain away, deaths could be relatively low.

But like I said previously, even if 1% are killed off in the first wave, the ability to continually infect people over and over again means the virus has the capability to chip away at the population, 1% at a time until there is no-one left to infect. The 30% strain of the virus just means that more people die more quickly until the number of people spreads out thinly enough that infected people never meet uninfected ones.

I don't think the population was that thin back even in Medieval times. But that may be where we're heading. Back to pre-industrial population levels, but hopefully not the stone age. At least the survivors should be able to retain some form of civilisation. I'd like to hope we don't get kicked back to the hunter-gatherer stage.

The thing that keeps bugging me is the lengths to which the Chinese government has gone to limit the spread. It seems they have not told us the full picture and I think hindsight will show the W.H.O. and our governments woefully naive in believing the output of the Chinese agencies.

Why are they spraying disinfectant all over the streets? Why are they burning the bodies?

It all points to something more than we are being told at the moment. Western Governments are being left to react to an in-country infection rather than China sharing all the information it has. It clearly has more information on the virus after having at least a month more experience than the West.

Ah well, I suppose time will tell if my fears are correct. So far I'm on the money. I wish I wasn't but sadly I have a brain that can quickly analyse these things and make mostly correct assumptions and model outcomes. In cases like this, I hate it when I'm proved right.

UPDATE.

After thinking about it, the reports of two strains of Corona Virus out in the wild may just mean that there is a previously undetected Corona virus out in the wild and the full deadly Wuhan variety is a different Corona virus.

So the less lethal virus is "a" corona virus and not "the" corona virus from Wuhan.

It could well be the less lethal variety would have passed through the population and been overlooked as a 'flu infection. The full Wuhan obviously is a different beast and cannot be ignored.

We'll see in the next month or so if the Corona virus at large in the UK begins to kill people off. We may have been lucky and all of the people infected in the UK may have been fit enough to survive. But I think that's a bit of a stretch.

The conspiracy theorists may like to debate whether the non-lethal strain was released as a test to see how far it would spread without killing people to test the efficacy of the lethal version, but somehow the full monty was released accidentally instead at some point.


Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Novel Corona Virus 2019: The Lack of Positive Action May Condemn us All.

Okay, I accept that NCOVID-19 is a new "novel" virus in the Human herd. Given that it's a new virus that hasn't been in humans before and the fact that we know absolutely nothing about how it works in the human population I find that the World Health Organisation and Governmental responses around the World to be woefully inadequate.

This is a new virus and the full effects are not know. What we are learning about the virus we are learning while it infects people around the world. This is not a good place to be observing the effects of the virus, mainly from the point we do not know if we can control it, what the long-term effects are and on top of that the more people it infects, the more chance it has to mutate and become more deadly. It could also become less deadly, but we always assume and plan for the worst case scenario: if it has a chance of getting more deadly, then plan and act for that.

So, first of all, what DO we know about NCOVID-19?

1. It is highly infectious. Unlike other serious viruses that are transmitted by contact and therefore limited in their ability to spread, NCOVID-19 is transmitted through the air by droplets. So by sneezing and coughing, the same as a cold or flu. It can also be transmitted by surface contact, so if you touch a surface touched, sneezed on or coughed on by an NCOVID-19 carrier.

2. Like a cold, it is re-infectious. If you get it once, you do not build up an immunity. Instead you can catch it again. And again. A lady in Japan that was infected and then tested as negative then ended up with a second infection. It's not understood how she was re-infected or if the tests were false negatives, but that case alone presents serious questions about the virus.

If the lady was in quarantine, how was she re-infected?
If she went home was she re-infected from a contaminated surface?
If so, how long does the virus last on a surface?
If she tested negative, was the test adequate or accurate?
Does the virus stay dormant in the body and allow false negative tests?
If it does stay dormant, for how long?

3. It tends to have a quite flat mortality rate. It will kill anyone at any age. The only predispositions to the effective mortality is an underlying medical condition. Heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, that sort of thing. The diabetes is a surprise given that it's not a disease of the heart and lungs. The mechanism for that might take a while to understand.

And that's about it.

What we don't know about the disease is a lot bigger.

1. What is the true incubation period? Experts are sticking to 14 days, but there is anecdotal evidence that incubation can stretch to 24 days. If that's the case then current quarantine periods are inadequate. Especially if the virus can go dormant and re-emerge.

2. How easily can it be transmitted? The government is saying "wash your hands" which is fine for contact-spread viruses, but not an airborne virus.

3. If washing hands is recommended, how long does the virus survive outside the body? Experts are making guesses, but no one has come out with a definitive figure. I assume if China are burning bodies rather than burying them, the virus stays infectious for a while. If the UK government is saying wash your hands it would appear at face value the virus can last a while outside a host.

4. What affects are there from being infected? Rumours are that patients end up with cardio-vascular or pulmonary issues which then increase the mortality of the second infection. Details are very scant at best, which seems to point to a pretty bad  outcome.

5. How does a person test positive, then negative, then positive again? Does the virus lie dormant? If it does, what triggers re-emergence? Can it lay dormant for a while without symptoms and emerge weeks later?

If I was the government, I'd have put those exposed to NCOVID-19 in quarantine and kept them there until we had more information about the virus. Separated into small groups the chance of cross-infection would be minimised, but really they need to be kept away from the population at large until we are sure it's safe.

The government need to be more forthright and pro-active on this. They need to be supporting sufferers financially.

The current policy seems to be akin to crossing ones fingers and hoping for the best. It is not a pro-active policy aimed at reducing the risk to the population at large. When dealing with something that is so infectious and so new, the "suck-it-and-see" policy just won't wash. This virus is less than three months old but it has already infected hundreds of thousands and killed many thousands. This is not a trivial thing.

Watching the spread of the disease, learning about it while it infects thousands of people across the globe is certainly not the way to do things like this.

Viruses have the ability to spontaneously mutate. They pick up attributes from other viruses in the hosts. The more people get infected with NCOVID-19 the more chance there is of a mutation picked up by the virus that makes it more deadly, harder to stop or impossible to vaccinate against.

What starts out as a mainly benign virus can be something else entirely by the time it's spread around the world. There is absolutely no guarantee that something as new as this will stay the same once it's infected the whole of humanity.

I'm watching the progress of the virus intently.

The government's response is to tell people to wash their hands and wait to see how deadly the thing becomes. After all they have bunkers to retreat to (as long as they don't take an unsuspectingly infected individual along with them).

Well, humanity will be okay if we all die off. Once there are no more hosts to infect and they and the virus die out, the descendants of the population of North Sentinel Island will have a whole planet to inherit.

It's happened before; humanity has weathered catastrophies before. Scientists are now coming to agree that there was a great catastrophe 11-12,000 years ago that wiped out a significant portion of the population. Male DNA has a big reduction in diversity around that time a significant proportion of the male population died off. The females, safe in their caves were able to survive with less trauma to the ancestral record.

The what, why and where of the catastrophic reduction in world population is still being hotly debated. The theories that there was at least one advanced civilisation around at that time are currently fringe. But so were the theories about the catastrophe that wiped out a huge chunk of the world population. before we could read the DNA data in our bodies.

As a race, humanity will survive, it always has. Whether you or I survive is something entirely different.

Monday, 2 March 2020

Electric Vehicles: Pricing the Poor out of Personal Transport.

First, let me state where I'm coming from om this blog. I've driven cars since 1991. Since that time I've never paid more that £2500 for a car. I've always bought used and the prices have ranged from £175 for a Little Red Fiat Uno back in the early naughties to £2500 for my current Lexus RX300 4x4 luxo-barge.

The wife recently made noises about wanting a car of her own, and I started looking at cheap small cars for her. Given that tons and cities around the country are looking to ban diesel and eventually petrol carts, I started looking and elderly Hybrids like the 1st gen. Toyota Prius. It seems the Prius is holding it's value well, no doubt buoyed by scarcity and the demand in London for use within the ULEZ.

Elderly, high mileage Prius'are fetching well over a grand, even cars with worn out batteries, because even though it spends most of it's time on the petrol engine, it's still a hybrid right? So Hybrids were out. In the end with nothing environmentally acceptable, I went for a £300 quid Hyundai Getz. Not a bad little car as it turns out. Reminds me of the Uno, but even at 1.3L  a little more gutless that the 999cc Uno. I assume because of the safety gubbins installed in the car and the automatic gearbox sapping the power.

But the price of used Prius' got me thinking about the prices and availability of cheap electric cars when all the internal combustion cars die off.

As a start, lets look at my "Typical" shitbox car: over 100K miles, over 10 years old.

Now, transferring that to electric cars, first off the mileage isn't that much of an issue because I'm sure the powertrain will be capable of doing that sort of mileage.

The thing that would worry me is like the Prius, the battery. Unlike the Prius with it's petrol engine, an EV is totally reliant on the battery and batteries have a finite number of charge cycles and have a lifespan limited by previous usage.

There are plenty of Nissan leafs out there with knackered batteries already, because Nissan designed the battery without any temperature management. I'm not sure I want an EV with a sub-50 mile range.

So straight away there is a dillemma. I could buy an EV that no-one will touch with a sub-optimal battery, but that would cost more than a grand to replace. So straight away we're well over the grand or two that I'd pay for a IC-engined snotter.

I could go for a EV that has a lease battery. But then I'm paying endless payments to the manufacturer in order to guarantee range. Unlike a comparable ICE car.

It strikes me that anyone with my car buying power is going to struggle to get into EVs. Either buying a car that needs a 5 grand battery, or hopefully a recon battery for half that. Maybe the aftermarket will eventually cut in with cheap Chinese batteries :-)

Or I buy a car with a lease battery and pay endless payments and hope the manufacturer continues to support that model of EV 15, 20 or 25 years into the future. With their previous track record, I have the feeling that EVs are going to expire not due to the car wearing out, but the reluctance of manufacturers to keep supplying batteries.

I think the era of cheap personal transport is coming to an end. It's a shame that progress yet again excludes the poor.

Yes they can get buses and trains, but in the past 50 years we've had the option to use them or the car. In future I think car ownership for the poor won't be an option.

And that, to me is not progress.




Monday, 24 February 2020

Why do You Work? The Crisis in Capitalism.

On a regular basis, I ask myself "Why do I work?" I ask it often, because it forces me to evaluate on a regular basis whether doing the job I'm doing is working for me as well as my employer.

After all, just working to pay the bills is a pretty soul-destroying pastime. Remember the old adage "All work and no play..."

So it is with any job: what you earn has to give you something more than just paying the bills. Subsistence wages are not giving you a life.

I've re-evaluated my employment on a regular basis and have done many different jobs. The main one that took be from earning 70K a year down to 20K was the 9/11 attacks. Back then I evaluated whether flying hither and thither, sat queuing up in airports and spending weeks away from my family was actually working for me. In the end I concluded it wasn't.

This is the crisis in Capitalism at the moment. Capitalism has become corrupted: it now stands for maximum profits and minimal costs.

Capitalism works best when it produces a sense of optimism, a sense of aspiration. Workers do a job that gives you enough free time and enough wages to allow use of that free time. So you can forget work for a couple of days. These days most companies engender that sense in their customers to increase sales, but really it's the workforce that also needs that sense of optimism. Instead we get zero hours contracts, 7-day working weeks and the rush to minimum wages, or wages so low that the taxpayer needs to top them up (the abhorrence that is in-work benefits). We are slipping back to Victorianesque working conditions and sweat-shop labour.

Capitalism works worst when it screws everyone. It screws the customer and it screws the worker. At that point Capitalism doesn't even provide a benefit to the shareholders, because pretty soon the company ceases to exist.

Back in History abuse of workers by factory owners started the Trades Union movement. But today the Union leaders are dining at the same posh restaurants as the factory owners. They have become corrupted. Just like the leaders of the Labour party and their cronyism and fawning over wealthy donors.

We need a change. We need to start to engender a sense that the workers of the UK deserve better. Corporations need to start paying a decent wage and that sense of optimism that brings about prosperity and productivity needs to return to our working lives.

Why do you work? Do you do it to just pay bills, or do you strive towards a goal?

I ask because without that little extra to provide enjoyment, work becomes soulless and productivity suffers. We all lose a little bit of ourselves.

Just as our forefathers, we need freedom and fresh air, just occasionally in order to suffer the depredations of the working week.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Corona Virus COVID-19 Government Not Helping.

I saw the other day that if Coronoa virus does spread and people suspect they have the virus, then they should self-isolate and stay indoors and reduce or eliminate contact with others.

For working people the problem is many companies don't pay sick pay. So what do you do?

Do you self-isolate for two weeks and lose two week's pay (and possibly end up not paying rent or mortgage for that month), or do you carry on working and risk spreading the virus to your work mates and their families?

If the risk to health is so grave, the Government really need to step in and underwrite the lost wages of those genuinely suffering from Corona infection. Better to state now that Government will pay people to stay at home and will compensate companies so that they can pay the wages of workers having to isolate themselves.

Spurious claims can quickly be eliminated because the test can be done quickly on anyone presenting flu-like symptoms. Basically you get flu, phone 111, they send out a team to test and then 2 or 3 days later you get the nod to crack on and go back to work or to self-isolate.

The bad news is you've probably infected a bunch of close contacts already, but at least the spread is contained and not increased.

But I know if people know they will lose pay, they will continue to go into work.

This is especially true of retail workers who are amongst the lowest paid and worst protected regarding sick pay. They will be amongst the workers only just staying above water and paying the monthly bills. They will not have any savings able to carry them over a month or two of isolation. The infection rating of a COVID-19 carrying shop worker is way over the standard. They have the ability to infect a huge number of people.

Shop workers may be the worst infection risk, but then Nurses and Care workers have regular contact with very poorly people: the people most at risk of dying from a COVID-19 infection. And care workers, again are not paid sick pay and are low paid, sop they are also likely to work from month-to-month and just about pay the bills.

As I stated earlier, IF this outbreak and it's repercussions in terms of infection and mortality, then the Government need to be proactive and make sure those infected people stay away from the rest of us.

Better a Government support scheme than the images coming out of China of people being dragged kicking and screaming to plague wards.

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Boeing 737 Max: A 'Plane Made by People That Don't Know How to Make 'Planes?

After the two crashes of the 737 Max and it's subsequent grounding, it would only be right and proper that the FAA do due diligence and go over the aircraft with a critical eye.
After all, was there anything else along with the MCAS system that Boeing slipped past the regulators?

Well, it seems the FAA are unhappy with a number of aspects of the 737 Max. Obviously MCAS itself appears poorly implemented, but the modifications to MCAS threw up other issues with the flight control software systems.

Now it appears the FAA have concerns about the routing of wiring within the aircraft. Given that the 737 is design that has been made since the 60's, how have Boeing not just routed wiring in the same old locations?

The more that comes out about the 737 Max, the more it appears there were several departures from previous 737 iterations. Yet Boeing is on record making out that the Max is just the same or as similar as possible to previous versions.

It makes you wonder if the people involved in the 737 Max project had any experience with the previous models. Did Boeing sack everyone and put new inexperienced team on the job? Did the team have any experience in making an aircraft before? What seems certain is that there are many aspects of the 737 Max that the FAA weren't aware of and are unhappy with now they are coming to light.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Novel Corona Virus (COVID-19) Update

So Novel Corona Virus (2019) has an official title now: COVID-19. Not as snappy as NCoV but hey, officialdom isn't renown for it's snappiness...

So, an update: The Southampton school was deep-disinfected because some kids had a cold when they came back from Singapore. Fair play, better safe then sorry.

Mr Super-spreader has been given the all-clear and sent home. He's no longer infectious. Hopefully.

There's a prisoner in Bullingdon jail that is suspected of having the virus after being shipped over from Thailand. We'll see how that pans out.

A bunch of people (apparently foreign tourists) in London are in isolation at St. Thomas' after having flu-like symptoms after coming back from the far East.

So, thankfully it appears the UK is on top of the situation.

Thankfully we closed down direct flights from China some days ago. I was surprised to see a video that insinuated that the USA hadn't closed down air links to China. A bad move, considering anyone can walk through the border without symptoms but still be carrying the virus.

Even indirect flights might be a risk as it's a way of subverting the bio-security afforded by the closure of direct links.

I've actually got a car part coming from Hong Kong. Hopefully it'll be in the post long enough so the virus won't be a risk factor. ;-) Maybe I'll give it a wipe with a disinfectant wipe, just in case...

But hopefully as we reach the limits of the quarantine/incubation period, the UK will emerge COVID-19 clear.

Then we just nuke China... sorry, I mean hopefully the Chinese can get on top of the virus and get back to normality.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

The Gamechanger: Novel Corona Virus.

The New infectious disease, the Novel Corona Virus that originated in the Wuhan region of China, is a real gamechanger amongst infectious diseases.

The more we hear about it, the more it seems the "precautions" advised by the World Health Organisation and the various foreign governments are following the curve, rather than ahead of it.

Standard procedures for this sort of thing used in the past for the SARS and MARS outbreaks don't work with NCoV.

Both SARS and MARS weren't infectious until symptoms emerged. That's why an effective method of spotting infected cases at airports and the like was to use temperature sensors.

The first scary thing with NCoV is that those sort of checks don't work with NCoV. Patients are without symptoms (asymptomatic) and still infectious. So a carrier can walk around without a temperature, or a cough or any other symptoms and still spread the virus.

That means the virus is hard to contain. If it's spread without symptoms, ANYONE could be a carrier no matter how healthy they look or feel. The only way to contain it is to contain and isolate the area of the outbreak.

For cases that arrive in new countries, the only effective way to contain the virus is to close down the area around the cases and let the virus run it's course. The current practice of taking patients to hospitals outside the infected area is bad. Believe me, it's very bad. You just end up creating new hotspots.

Travel into and out of infected areas should be stopped.

In the UK we've already seen how a person can pick up the virus in an area away from the initial outbreak (in this case Singapore), then flew to France (possibly infecting a new bunch of people on that flight), he then stopped off in France infecting a whole ski-chalet's worth of people, one of whom flew back to Spain (again possibly infecting a flight's worth of people). The Brit then climbed aboard an EasyJet flight back to the UK, most likely infecting another bunch of people because by now we know he was infectious from the cases in France.

The Brit then infected another person in the UK. There's now a link with a Doctor's surgery in Brighton and a school in Southampton. The details are sketchy at the moment, but if this is true, then the virus is already out in the wild in the UK. We may never isolate the virus or stop it from spreading. Not without drastic measures.

But even if this person infected 10, 20, 30 or even a hundred people on the flights he took between countries and then infected a bunch more wherever he landed, this UK case proves the infectious nature of the virus. The WHO infection rating of 2-3 is way off the mark. How many other people will these new infections go on to infect?

The second scary thing about NCoV is that if you are infected and survive, unlike the flu, you don't get immunity. China has already reported instances of re-infection. Whether this is just people with colds wrongly diagnosed as NCoV sufferers going on to contract NCo after being dragged onto plague wards with NCoV sufferers, or whether it truly is re-infectious we have yet to really confirm. But governments should be treating it like it is. The best defence is not to get infected, so isolation of infected areas needs to happen and happen quick.

The thing is, if the virus is re-infectious and kills off a small percentage of it's victims. You can be in the first wave and survive, a small percentage dies. In the second wave of re-infections, another small percentage dies off. But if you don't get immunity from previous infection, that cycle continues until there is no-one to infect. EVERYONE DIES FROM NCoV EVENTUALLY.

The third scary thing about NCoV is (and it is only supposition at the moment), but if satellite pictures coming out of Wuhan are correct, there is a chance that even dead bodies are infectious. It seems that China may now be burning dead bodies  on a large scale. This suggest that even dead bodies are not safe to handle and the only way to "sterilise" them is to burn them.

That suggests the virus can live without the host being alive for some time. A very scary thought.

Not only for the management of the bodies of victims, but also for the spread of the virus. If it can live on without a live host, then it can live on door handles and other public surfaces for some time and be passed onto people without direct contact.

The Final scary thing is the incubation period seems to be very long. Initially it was thought to be 12-14 days before patients exhibited symptoms. But reports suggest that patients can actually go as long as 24 days without exhibiting symptoms but still be infectious. So in China, patient that had been released from quarantine after not exhibiting symptoms, went on to not only become symptomatic, but also infect any close contacts at the same time.

The more information we get about NCoV the more scary it gets. The more it seems a very efficient virus. Spreading easily, hardy enough to infect without direct contact and able to re-infect. Fatal in a small number of cases, but with the ability to re-infect ad-infinitum and chip away at the numbers of victims until there are no hosts left.

The amazing thing is I see no action from governments to get a handle on the problem. Right now, the situation is fluid and the more we hear about NCoV, the more it seems the "standard" precautions are inadequate.

If I was an isolated country with no cases, somewhere like Iceland, I'd close the borders now. No-one in or out. No flights, no boats, nothing. If necessary for up to 6 months. Let the rest of the world find out how infectious the disease is and how deadly it is.

For the rest of us, well only time will tell. Hopefully on one of the waves of infection the virus will mutate into a harmless version, or possibly it mutates into a version that allows our immune system to recognise the virus and create some immunity.

Without it and without some pretty serious quarantine measures, we are pretty much toast.

We certainly need to get some truthful and open information from the Chinese authorities about numbers of infections, mortality rates, infection rating, re-infections rates, incubation period, longevity out of the body and other information about the virus, otherwise how could we hope to ever contain it. W eneed to be ahead of the information curve, not behind it.

A final note is about the conspiracy theories about NCoV, especially the rumours about it being a Bioweapon accidentally released. It has all the hallmarks of one: being hard to spot, hard to contain, highly infectious, hardy and finally fatal. But a natural-occurring virus transferring between species also has the same traits.

Normally a virus doesn't kill it's host and probably in the original carrier (Supposedly Bats) and probably in the host organism it doesn't kill them all off. But when transferring to humans, there is no such guarantee. The virus could wipe out this new host quite easily, unless it has the chance to mutate into a less deadly version, or something happens to trigger our immune system to fight it off.

It's not necessarily the trait of a bioweapon, just the risk you take when you transfer a disease from one host to another. Bad animal husbandry is a very effective way to initiate this transfer between species. Just remember that the next time you eat one of your eggs from a battery hen...

UPDATE

Doing a mental exercise here: just think if the Government gave out advice to anyone in contact with an NCoV carrier to self-quarantine. Who would pay their wages while they were waiting the two weeks or a month to see if they had contracted the virus? How would the government stop or encourage people to stay indoors?

Given the severity of the virus and the infectious nature, surely another step for the government would be to underwrite any loss in pay and/or benefits for those that had to self-quarantine?

Otherwise people will just go to work as normal.

Friday, 7 February 2020

The Absolute Contempt of The Political Elite.

The contempt of the Political Elite knows no bounds. Here in the UK we had 3 years of the elites trying to overturn the referendum result to leave the EU. Three years in which they used Parliament in league with the speaker of the house John Bercow to try and reverse the Brexit vote.

After seemingly siding with the voting population and enabling article 50. It's almost as if they knew a general election was coming up later in 2017.

However, after enabling article 50 and then saying they would honour the referendum result in the election of 2017, we had attempt after attempt to try and get a second referendum, they tied Parliament up in knots refusing any legislation to leave the EU. Some MPs changed sides or created new parties and basically shat on the voters that put then into Westminster.

We even had non-politicians involving themselves in the political process. Gina Miller used the courts to give MPs a say in the process, which spectacularly backfired on her. She was also involved in the case to prevent the proroguing of Parliament. For 5 extra days. Having won that case, Parliament sat for that extra week and used the time to do sweet F.A. Well worth taxpayers money to defend in court and pay the attendance money to the MPS and Lords.

Parliament for two years was a shambles, brought about by the political elite in the UK refusing to accept the decision of the people. MPs thought they knew better, they thought the people had made the wrong choice.

THAT DECISION WAS NOT FOR THEM TO MAKE. THE PEOPLE HAD SPOKEN.

Of course 2016 had another bombshell popular vote. The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency of the USA.

And again, the political elites on both sides of the political spectrum in the US were appalled. How could a non-politician be voted into such a position?

Again they thought the people had made the wrong decision. Again they were against the people. Again, they plotted (and continue to plot) to overturn the vote by the people.

Ostensibly led by the Democrats, but not really opposed by the Republican side, there was the initial "Russiagate" investigation. Which came to nothing.

Then when "Russiagate" petered out and no wrongdoing could be found, the Democrats started the impeachment process, with no evidence whatsoever. It was doomed to fail, but  hey, it was worth the Political Suicide of the Democrats. Now the people have seen what desperate measures the political elite will go to in order to overturn popular public decisions. Will the public vote for those politicians in enough numbers next time?

In the UK, ALL the turncoats that changed party or created new parties and shat on their voters in the 2017 election were removed from office. In some cases so badly they lost their deposits. The most famous being Jo Swinson, the Lib-Dem party leader who was very public in saying her party would just ignore the 2016 referendum and just continue to stay in the EU. Wrong move as it turned out.

In the USA, if I was a democrat politician that had been very vocal in trying to overturn the publicly elected President, I would be having sleepless nights. The people might have something to say about your conduct and your attitude to democracy.

Finally the real indicator of the Snooty, stuck-up, condescending attitude of the Political elite was highlighted by Nancy Pelosi's tearing up of Donald Trump's State of the Union speech. A stunt she had planned in advance.

This is a President democratically elected by the people. By tearing up the speech she highlighted her contempt for the democratically elected leader of the US and the office of President. She doesn't care, she just disagrees with the people's choice and nothing else matters. She thinks the people are wrong and she will do everything she can to overturn their decision.

She showed her contempt for the President and the contents of his speech including the praising of those who put their lives on the line in the name of duty, she showed her contempt for the numbers of new jobs created by the President's policies.

She showed her contempt for everything the President stands for and the people that voted for him.

Just like with Brexit, it is not for her, or her fellow politicians to say whether the people of the USA were wrong to vote for Trump or not. It is her job to accept the democratic will of the people and get on with her job. Without contempt or prejudice.

So, 2020 will be interesting. Will the Democrats now accept the will of the people and accept the President is here at least until the next election? Will they try and pull another stunt to remove him from office? Will (as the conspiracy theorists theorise) Donald Trump be assassinated?

Anything is possible in the next 12 months.

Friday, 31 January 2020

Brexit Day.

Well folks, here it is: Brexit day is upon us. As of 11pm tonight, we will no longer be part of the political union of Europe.

So for the next 12 months we should be in regulatory alignment, but politically we will be free.

For this 12 month period, we need to negotiate the sort of Canada++ deal that David Davies was originally working towards before Theresa May and Ollie Robbins threw a spanner in the works at chequers.

Back then I said that if Europe requires regulatory alignment in order for us to trade with them, then there should be an independent standards regulatory body that businesses who wish to trade with Europe sign up to and voluntarily submit to inspections in order to police the standards required to trade with Europe.

So only companies that trade with Europe have to adhere to EU standards for goods and services entering the EU from the UK. It also means that goods and services destined for the EU are guaranteed to comply before they cross the borders, so therefore shouldn't require extensive border checks and if a secure method can be found to transport the goods, no checks should be necessary.

That way businesses that don't need to trade with Europe, don't get saddled with unnecessary beaurocracy.

The regulatory body can either be financed by the companies themselves (as a condition of trading with Europe), or by the UK and EU governments in exchange for tariff-free trade in both directions.

The important thing is the rest of the UK gets on with doing business within our borders and with the rest of the world without EU intervention.

UK fishing grounds need to be for UK fishermen only. If there is no other option, then limited access with small quotas to be granted by licence to a small number of fishermen. Certainly no industrial fish hoovers, no electric stun ships and no Spanish trawlers.

Anyway, as we begin to part ways tonight, I will raise a glass of Russian Vodka. And Coke.

Onwards to a new, independent horizon.

Friday, 24 January 2020

Impeachment: The Democrats Lost the Argument a Long Time Ago.

I rarely comment on US politics, as I don't have the in-depth knowledge or contacts over the pond that allow me too much insight.

But the current impeachment inquiry looks like a busted flush. It looked doomed to fail before Congress decided to embark on the hearsay-laden witchhunt.

Had they quietly ditched the "Russiagate" thing back in 2017 and regrouped to then a couple of years later bring up Ukraine and start impeachment, then they may have had a chance to sway the people. Had they had real, tangible proof.

But three years the Russian thing went on for. Three years and millions of dollars spent, for what? A couple of minor scalps and nothing of substance.

So "Russiagate" fails, and unable to pull Trump down with the economy (up) or jobs (also up) or security (no illegal wars), within months the Ukraine thing emerges. The Democrats hoping above hope that the people would think that "Actually, maybe the Democrats were right, they just got the country wrong". I'm not sure what warped mentality stands in for sense in the Democrat party, but this ain't it.

The people of the US seem to be able to see a party sliding down a cliff clutching at tufts of grass as they slide ever closer to the edge and the inevitable fall.

In the UK, we've have the same with remainers. Unable to comprehend that the people would want something so antithetical to their beliefs, remain MPs and millionaires have attempted to thwart Brexit. Luckily we had an election that knocked the final nail in the coffin. As a people we declared our will and politically punished those that actively worked against us.

In the US, the Democrats are hoping that throwing muddy sod after muddy sod would cling to Trump. But the people are set in their thinking. They like Trump, they can feel the benefits of a better economy, the working class are benefiting from an increased job market. And the people like the fact Trump is attempting to deal with the Chinese issue.

Hopefully 2020 will allow the US people to do as we did in December last year and finally nail the lid of the dissenter's coffin closed. Finally, maybe, the US can move forward.

All I can see until then is the political stagnation and pain that the UK had to endure in the Autumn. We cleaned house. I hope that in November the US can too.

As an addendum, if the Democrats had any sense (which it appears they don't) they would make Tulsi Gabbard their Presidential candidate. She's been clever enough to rise above the cesspit of the "get Trump" mob in the Democrat party and strong enough not get dragged into the mire. She essentially abstained on the impeachment vote and she's strong on defence for defence's sake, not the politicking grandstanding faux defence of the Clintons. Gabbard has shown true leadership when the rest of the Democrat party race to the bottom, with the vote-winning formula of denigrating the President, denigrating the people and denigrating the USA

Monday, 20 January 2020

More Jobs, But Are They Worth It?

I went up to Bicester yesterday to help my son move from hid flat. It's been a good few years since I went up there and had the time to look around.

The town was targeted as a new "Garden City" where the majority of new Homes on the Oxford-Cambridge belt will be built.

Bicester has gone through substantial changes in the 10 years since I left and none more so than the last five years. From a huge new housing estate, to massive retail parks springing up. The extension of Bicester Village, the posh retail park has effectively reached it's limit and now there is a further retail park being built across the road.

What struck me is all of this expansion in jobs is in retail. I've blogged in the past how retail jobs aren't sustainable. The problem is with retail jobs that people work in retail, get paid, then spend their money in retail. It's just a circular path for the money with big corporations syphoning off their profit and paying very little tax. The money ends up offshore, so we're bleeding money away.

The only way of propping this model up is by increasing the money supply. Pumping fake money into the economy so that we can buy more stuff.  It's not a sustainable model. The country cannot keep inflating the economy forever. In the end it all collapses. As it has several times in the past.

The country has to move away from the unsustainable retail model and start to move towards a more sustainable economy, where the majority of money is not inflated, but instead earned.

We have to start making money, real money by making a profit - as a country. We have to start making things within our borders to sell outside the UK.

Monday, 13 January 2020

Subsidising Wages: Continuing Labour Party Plan to Sunsidise Big Corporations.

It's been reported that Labour Leadership hopeful Jess Phillips' latest plan in her bid to win is to promote free childcare for all.

Honourable as that is, you have to ask a few questions. The first is why do we need it and the second is who is going to pay for it?

The first reason is the fall in effective wages over the past 40 years or so. It seems that hand-in-glove with feminism, wages have depressed. Women have fought for the right to have equal rights to jobs and pay, but with that influx of labour into the market, wages have depressed. After all, the more people you have able to do a particular job, the less you can pay for it. It's supply and demand.

After all, you don't think big corporations would pay previous wage levels if they could start to reduce wages and see where people stop applying. Nope, a larger workforce means more people able to do the work and lower wages as a result.

Such has been the depression in wages that it's pretty rare one person in a couple can earn enough to run a family and for the other person to stay at home and do all the childcare stuff. I've been a house husband in the past, so I make no remarks on which member of the family works and which does the childcare.

So, wages become depressed so both parents have to work. The Blair government then introduced tax credits for families because wages had become so depressed families with both parents working couldn't raise a family.

Let's be clear about this: tax credits is taking money from people without children and giving it to people with families, to bolster wages supressed by big corporations. In effect subsidising the big corporation's wage bills at the taxpayer's expense.

So, we start importing even more workers from Europe and wages became even more depressed. Guess what? Now Labour are talking about providing free childcare. I assume funded by the taxpayer again. So people without kids have to subsidise those with kids so they can go out and earn wages depressed by big business that have also to be subsidised by the tax payer.

Where does it stop? We're already paying for people not to work (benefits), we're paying to top up the wages of people with families (tax credits) and now Jess Phillips wants us to pay for childcare too?

Why can't we flip the coin and start to put in place a regime where big corporations have to pay decent wages? Why can't we stop importing cheap labour? Why can't we start moving tax credits over to corporation tax funding, instead of from general (i.e. mainly income tax) funding?
Why can't we aim instead to limit the supply of labour and thereby increase wages?

I assume the answer would be the big corporations would go elsewhere. Well, let them. But each big corporation that leaves would find themselves the subject of big tariffs if they tried to import goods instead. And the government would let them know this before they left.

Instead of Labour rushing to the bottom, how's about trying to improve the quality of labour and the level of wages in this country.

With Jess Phillips' childcare policy aiding big corporations, you could almost call her policy Thatcherite....

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Corbyn Shows his true Allegances at PMQs.

After the Labour party's heaviest defeat in a general election since 1935, what does Jeremy Corbyn do at the latest Prime Minister's Question Time?

Ask for assurance we won't kick the crap out of Iran. Not just one of the three questions he's allowed, but ALL three questions were used up trying to get assurances out of Boris Johnson that we won't do anything to hurt Jeremy's mates in Iran.

NOTE: NOTHING AT ALL REGARDING THE POOR OR THE WORKING CLASS IN THE UK.

Of all the questions he could have asked:

What is the government doing to eradicate zero hours contracts?

Will the Government pledge to take those on minimum wage out of taxation?

What is the government doing to reduce the step from benefits to working, to help those out of work into work?

What is the government doing for those in the "Red Wall" that gave their vote to the Conservatives?

What is the government doing to streamline the transition to the new benefits system?

How is the government helping those wrongly denied benefits by the new system?

Nope, nothing like that. Instead Jeremy Corbyn is pre-occupied attempting to protect what is in effect and Islamic dictatorship in a country thousands of miles away.

THAT's where Jeremy Corbyn's loyalties lie on the 8th of January 2020.

In that is why Labour have lost so badly and will continue to lose general elections in the future.

Until they learn to support the working class and work to improve the plight of those working on low wages and not just those on benefits, until the Labour party step up and start to love the UK, they will continue to lose. I hope.


Friday, 3 January 2020

Okay, Here's the REAL Reason Laboure Lost the 2019 Election.

In one word?

Credibility.

Brexit Credibility:

Labour did not put forward a credible Brexit plan. We all know that a commitment to a second referendum is a slap in the face for the voters in the first referendum. Unless Remain was taken off the option list. Failure to remove remain as a option (that question was settled in 2016) just looks like a back-door attempt at remain.

Labour lost credibility on their reasons for supporting remain. The depressed Labour heartlands know only too well that supranational organisations like the EU work for big corporations. Any organisation that supports unlimited immigration only suits businesses that want cheap labour.

So, Labour failed to be credible on Brexit and in fact effectively stuck two fingers up to those in the North fed up of poor paying jobs and who want wage growth.

Financial Credibility:

Labour did not put forward a credible financial plan. Milking the rich and the corporations is not a credible plan. The rich just move abroad and the corporations just shut up shop, costing jobs.

In every interview, John McDonnell was pulled apart. Just saying or wishing something will happen is not the same a producing a credible plan that cannot be argued against.

We all knew Labour's proposed financial plan would cost jobs and increase taxes and borrowing. Not credible.

Leadership Credibility:

When shadow cabinet members can be in different channels at the same time and spout different policies, you know there is a crisis of leadership in the party. Everyone should be speaking form the same hymm sheet. But Labour MPs time and time again came up with different lines. Even to the point a single MP would be seen on one channel saying one thing and then something else on another channel whilst a third policy would be put out simultaneously by another MP. Just not credible.

Jeremy Corbyn came over as the old duffer that couldn't control his party, he wasn't a credible leader. John McDonnell was almost as bad, with an aftertaste of malice.

Policy Credibility:

Historically Corbyn and McDonnell had a poor record of backing what are perceived as direct enemies of the UK. Hesbollah, the IRA, you name it: Corbyn and McDonnell had always fraternised with the enemy. That's not good policy. IF they had framed it as opening dialogue with the enemy to facilitate peace, then that narrative might have gained traction. But open fraternisation is not a good policy.

Add to that the policies that were allowed to spring up at Labour conference this year, the party lost all credibility regarding their policies.

Labour could not come up with a coherent policy message.

In the end, Labour voters could not bring themselves top vote for a weak leader, who could not control his party, nor speak up against the big corporations. Corbyn could not speak out against uncontrolled immigration and the damage cheap immigrant labour was doing to working class wages.

Corbyn had time and time again historically sided with people who were outright enemies of the UK. The IRA bombed Warrington, Manchester and Birmingham. Those working class communities don't forget. nor forgive.

Labour are already looking as though they have not learned the lessons. The candidates for the leadership election are too Southern, too privileged, too authoritarian and just not credible.

Without credibility Labour will be walking in the wilderness for some time.

The Challenge and the Opportunity of Artificial Intelligence

There's no doubt that Artificial Intelligence poses a great challenge to Governments across the globe.

Not only directly, as corporations like Google and Facebook use A.I. algorithms to manipulate information as they do at the moment, but in the future as A.I. rolls out and affects the employment market.

The last challenge like this was during the Thatcher years when mining and heavy industry in the UK became uncompetitive and suffered badly. I well remember the nightly lists of companies closing and job losses incurred on the Ten O'clock News.

Those communities heavily reliant on those industries have still not recovered 3 and 4 decades later.

I've blogged before that this new wave, the A.I. wave of redundancies and job losses won't be confined to the working class. It will be a predominantly middle-class problem. The working class jobs have all been automated. The middle class, the thinkers have been more or less unaffected. Not any more. A.I. is a direct threat to the sort of thinking jobs that were historically safe.

Being a middle-class phenomenon, it's a greater threat to middle-class political parties. How they manage the revolution and support the middle class determines if they stay in power or suffer the same fate as the Labour party.

Brexit produces an  exciting opportunity for an enlightened UK government - if it choses to be enlightened.

Free from the shackles of sclerotic EU legislation, a UK government could (much in the way that the Thatcher era government championed IT) start to champion cutting edge technologies like A.I.

A good start would be to start to move education system away from it's current blurred focus on vast quantities of graduates. The QUALITY of the graduates has to change. There has to be a laser-like focus on producing the brightest and the best and bringing them on. Education has to change from merely providing mediocre education for all, to focussing on identifying the brightest and the best from ALL walks of life and providing the streams to suit them that allows them to attain.

This is my biggest frustration with education at the moment. The leftist ideology says that everyone gets the same education. But.... what happens to those bright and talented in a "one-size-fits-all" education system? They fail to attain. They become bored, they are never challenged by a grey, bland just-for-the-sake-of-it education system.

Education I've said before is a strategic resource. It cannot be allowed to be just for the sake of it. It has to provide talent the country can use. An education system that provides a university graduate that eventually ends up sweeping floors is not fit for purpose. All that money, all that time, the resources, the teachers, lecturers, the talent of the graduate, are all wasted. If you are a teacher or a lecturer that is happy to churn out graduates that eventually end up wasting your time, you shouldn't be in the job.

A primary focus has to be on changing early education to identify talent.  Once that's in place, secondary education has to then focus on growing talent, providing multiple streams. Stem, Creative, Historical, Vocational and Caring subjects (to cater for an increasing elderly population) streams should be available.

How these specialist subjects are provided needs some work. But several specialist streams could be provided by a single school.

Further education then works to make experts out of those specialists. Not just in STEM subjects, but in Care, in Vocational subjects like Building, Plumbing. We need people that can manage whole projects as well as wire a plug or plumb in a boiler. But those managers also need to have practical experience of how a plug is wired or a boiler is plumbed and how long it takes.

Anyway, I've digressed. Back to A.I.

Hopefully, with an education system producing the brightest and the best in specialist subjects, we can then tailor that system to produce A.I. experts. Or graduates ready to exploit any emerging technology. I'm sure A.I. will become a feature in the lucrative market of weapons technology.

Britain can then exploit this boom, rather than be exploited. If necessary Government can invest in innovation, although the best would be private investment. Possibly government can kick-start innovation and then hand it over to private business for a price, with a decent and almost immediate return on the investment.

Eventually after we become the world expert on emerging technologies, the UK can go on to export its intellectual property and it's experts across the globe. Just like we did with Scottish shipwrights and Boiler makers, Cornish and Welsh miners back at the start of the industrial revolution.

Or we could do things the Leftist way and tax every A.I. or every company using A.I. to offset the cost of providing benefits to people made redundant by new technology thereby making the UK the most uncompetitive country to use A.I...….. in the world.