Tag Archives: economy

Physicians, I feel your pain | Victoria Coren | Comment is free | The Observer

The government is not “curbing spending” on doctors’ pensions. That suggests the medical pension scheme was running at a loss; in fact, it was perfectly self-sufficient. This isn’t a cutback, it’s a raid.

Andrew Lansley said: “People know that pension reform is needed because people live longer.”

That’s not why pension reform is needed. We’ve known for years that people are living longer – doctors know that better than anyone – and pension contributions were put in accordingly. Unfortunately, successive governments spent that money on other things. Ignoring statistics for life expectancy, blind to forthcoming trouble, they failed to ring-fence pension funds for their proper purpose. It was a Ponzi scheme.

It was exactly that kind of live-in-the-now, credit-card attitude, from governments everywhere, that triggered the recession. They’d planned to pay back the “borrowed” pensions with new money that slid down the magic beanstalk. Now, staring in bafflement at a handful of dead leaves, they want to cover their arses by going back and nicking some more.

They are busting a gut to persuade us that we’re “all in it together” and that any public sector workers who choke at longer hours or slashed wages are “greedy” and “not team players”.

But they weren’t “greedy” 10 years ago, were they? They worked and they got paid. They only became “greedy” after our masters had sold off the gold reserves, borrowed fantasy amounts with fantasy collateral, allowed the banks to gamble with it, watched them lose and lose until the creditors came calling, bailed them out with more of our money, then sat back as it was paid out in bonuses to people who had too many yachts already.

And somehow, the moral is that doctors and teachers and train drivers are “greedy”, simply for wanting to live as they did before. God knows we were treated like idiots all along – but if we buy this new propaganda, we deserve no better.

Ms Coren gets it.

Time Dilation in Yorkshire

Earlier this year I finally bought a new camera. I found the best deal online, ordered it, and waited for delivery in a week or so. 

I waited.

And waited.

I forget exactly how long it took to finally arrive, but it felt rather as if the company I ordered from had forgotten to put it on the van the first time round, and only when I queried was it hastily bundled into a package and sent out for delivery—suspicions confirmed when the paperwork was checked later. Once finally on a van, it still took the best part of a week to wander down to my neck of the woods.

I live in Kent, not far from major transport links. The company I dealt with was based in North Yorkshire. A lovely part of the world which also has its fair share of decent transport links, but it seems to suffer from serious issues with time. Let me explain.

Yesterday, I was setting up a scanner. It’s a massive pro-level flatbed scanner from a well-known Japanese manufacturer. I bought it a couple of years ago, and it was loaned to a company that’s since closed down. Since being returned to me, it sat in its box, cluttering up the living room and acting as an occasional table. Yesterday was the first opportunity to actually break it out and get it going again.

Only some of the bits were missing. Fool that I am, I hadn’t checked carefully when it had been returned to me, and it had lain, bereft of the all-important transparency holders, for more than a year.

Knowing full well the missing pieces would not be anywhere other than a landfill somewhere, I scoured the internet for suppliers. The transparency holders are plastic, they can be broken, so the manufacturer must supply them as spares. They do, but not through their own supply chain. I have to buy from a third party supplier. I found two, actually, but one was in Germany—though their prices were about the same as sourcing from the UK. For some obscure reason, I favoured the UK supplier. 

First, the good news. The missing parts are reasonably inexpensive. They can be acquired for less than £20 excluding the dreaded VAT. 

Now the bad news. To deliver the ordered items, apparently taking at least five working days, costs a grand total of a tenner. Holy transparency scanning, Batman! I can get there and back in a day! The required items fit in a large padded envelope, for Pete’s sake! It must be 24-carat gold-plated packaging, or a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce at that price! 


Oddly, it’s just a standard delivery van. White, probably, with dents and covered in rude badly-spelled grafitti scrawled in the dirt.

More bad news: it’s coming from North Yorkshire. Can lightning possibly strike twice?

It seems it can. An email today confirmed my worst fears.


Oh my. I emailed back, asking why this state of affairs might be. To be fair, I have had a prompt reply which explains the required items are not held in stock and have to be ordered from the manufacturer, which is the quoted lead time. Fair enough, I said, but will this still mean I have to wait another five days for the van to make its grand tour of the English eastern counties? 

(My camera, dear reader, seemed to take the most scenic route imaginable, taking in all parts of Yorkshire, perhaps even unto the Pennines, Lincolnshire, Rutland, Norfolk and Suffolk before it finally landed in Basildon, Essex. It then took three more days to make it across the Thames to Dartford in Kent, where it lounged about for what seemed like weeks before finally arriving in my impatient paws. I could have walked to North Yorkshire and back faster, and been able to use the camera on the way home again!)

I am reliably informed once the items are in stock they will be on the van to me for—wait for it, wait for it!—Next Day Delivery.

We’ll see. If the North Yorkshire Time Dilation Effect works as reliably as I think it might, I won’t see my order completed much before Bonfire Night. One wonders whether the German supplier might have been quicker. After all, they only needed to ship it across international boundaries and an ocean.

Stripped Bare | George Monbiot

To understand its position, you must first understand that the government is not managing the economy for the people of this nation. It is managing it for a tiny transnational elite, a kind of global gated community. To the people inside the gates, who fund the Conservative party, who own our politics, the media and the banks, the rest of us are an inconvenience, to be bribed, threatened or fooled.

I can make no coherent comment. There is just anger welling up in me.

Via Twitter @UKuncut

Related post: To us it’s an obscure shift in the tax law

BBC News – UK economy suffers 0.5% contraction

But Chancellor George Osborne said the government would not change its austerity programme.

“These are obviously disappointing numbers, but the ONS has made it very clear that the fall in GDP was driven by the terrible weather in December,” he said in a statement.

“There is no question of changing a fiscal plan that has established international credibility on the back of one very cold month. That would plunge Britain back into a financial crisis. We will not be blown off course by bad weather.”

We’ll see.