Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Tax and spend, OK. But where's it going and what's the return?

The real battle is over services, not tax

To the author:

Forgive me, but I don't subscribe, so I don't have the benefit of the full article to comment upon. So maybe you have covered this.

Like any businessperson, or indeed any individual managing a budget, my greatest concern is what I get for my expenditure and, In the case of investment, how good the return is.

What appals me is the way government, and its hired but unaccountable mercenaries in the quango sector, can claim results based on expenditure with no measure at all of how well anything has performed in real terms.

As a parent I despair over what the money lavished upon health and education has actually resulted in. As a professional ad man and green advocate my jaw stands agape that entities such as WRAP can claim response rates for recycling as 'good' when they have blown bazzillions of public funds on campaigns that may look nice, tick boxes, meet agendas, etc, but may not actually result in as good, or even a better planet for the money.

My battle is to get this whole sorry mess back on track, for my kids' sake. It will take a long time, at least before any rectifying efforts bear fruit. And for that reason, I doubt any short-term oriented pol who does appreciate this truth will be in the least bit interested or motivated to do so.

Fly away, Peter. Or, maybe, not.

Make green taxes fair

Like you, I am middle of the road, greenwise (though wondering when ever it could be OK to straddle the white line). So I pretty much agree.

But I would make a small plea to pols, activists and media from the London C-(for centric) zone to at least acknowledge that some do not live within our fine capital.

Noting the dashing hybrid, I can only wonder how I am helping the planet driving along the motorway or along country lanes (no trains worth mentioning here) lugging a heavy battery.

That said, I also wonder how a Porsche Cayenne, at a dead stop parked in the City after a 3 mile trip, is 'worse' than such a vehicle buzzing about all day, emitting away.

And before we get on taxing fuel, like the ill-considered road-pricing first outing, bear in mind the district nurse racking up a hundred miles a day. She has a vote and knows how to use it. Tricky, ain't it?

As to flights, who is this 'us' who are accorded short haul flights, and who is the 'them' who decides to take or bestow upon this Peter, to the detriment or benefit of 'whom'? I just ask, because there may be some Kalahari bushmen breathing the same air as we do who will be well chuffed to get such an allowance to trade.

Or is just for 'us' to play with, and not 'them'? Also pretty tricky, huh?

As to fair, well, you are having a laugh, right?

Sod it. There goes the SAAB (the money to buy it aspect may have been a factor, too)

If we want to save the planet, we need a five-year freeze on biofuels


Will the next pro/con sledgehammer issue and its big (corn) oil denier and eco-fascist advocates please take to the stand... the people were in danger of thinking they had some idea of how to help save the planet, at least with personal transport. Seems not. Phew. Imagine if something had been resolved? Where are the op-ed jollies in that!!!

Next thing we'll find out that CarbCon trading is just a nifty way for short-term pols meet targets, tick boxes and make your mates in the City rich enough to fly you around the lecture circuit in their private jets.

I guess I'll hang with the 10 year old Volvo a tad longer.

Actually, there are some good points to be gleaned. I'll let you do that for yourselves.

Easy for me to agree

Commuter train or cattle truck?

This is the sort of environmental campaigning I like to see and fully endorse.

Identify the solutions, and where they are not working get them sorted first.

All it needs now is to get from a minor blog post to a mainstream voting issue.

(Sound of breath being held).

Life Cycle

Cycling proficiency for the 21st century
'Only 2% of children currently cycle to school compared with 50% in 1969.'

I do wonder if that may in part be anything to do with the distance that many kids are now from their designated school, and the assault course that is the UK road system they would need to attempt to cycle to it. And once there, the provisions for dealing with being soaked to the skin.

But I am sure a nice shiny Comms trick between Government and compliant (nice COI campaign ad revenue follows, no doubt) media will have all of us rushing our little loved ones onto to their Raleighs. Or maybe not. But at least boxes will have been ticked everywhere, including Broadcasting House.

I did have to laugh at yesterday's BBC Dog's Breakfast 'News', when the 'reporter' on this 'story' cited, without irony, his taxi driver's feelings on the subject en route to advocating that our children should be daily obliged to embrace this mode of transport to get to and from school. Not so practical for the rest of us, then? Or maybe just too dangerous, time consuming and dirty for most adults with things to do, people to see...

The problem with the media #234

As also reported on BBC, a bit after the bit about the ballet dancing cat in ther 'main' news:

Captured sailor's family speak of their distress

She is also 26 years old, we are told.

The state of mind and ages of the other 14 are not a matter of concern to the news media, it seems. Bless.

What's this lifting off my chest?

Unreality television

You want unreality? Try Newswatch, their navel gazing sop self-critique show, where sleepy junior management are wheeled out at dawn on the weekend to issue insincere mea culpas, or defensive denials, to transgressions throughout primetime the rest of the week.

Or their complaints department, which will review what you have said thoroughly and get back in some tick-box period to say they value your input, can't see a problem, will bear it in mind, but anyway for now buzz off.

If I was paying for this I'd be livi... oh, I am.

ps: Didn't write this to the Telegraph, but I am currently watching Breakfast TV, with the blonde and the bouffant in a love-fest with Mark Curry, who seems to get wheeled on at the drop of anything to comment, and promote his business. Oh, and he's an ex-BBC employee.

Oh, I couldn't resist. First salvo to Newswatch, which is always worth a laugh:

'Has BBC Breakfast been engaged to act as the PR agency for Mark Curry's business interests? He seems to have been invited to comment on... anything... recently, and then pitch his wares at the same time. Nice to help your mates and all, but a little incestuous perhaps?'

ADDENDUM: Newswatch

Well that makes.. two of us! Well tucked away little devil of a blog this... wonder why?

As I wrote to a paper the other day in response to a piece about broadcast standards:

'You want unreality [Rest above].'

Tick reply here:

1) It wasn't us
2) It wasn't a problem
3) If it was so what?

And if you get pressed...

4) It was not perhaps the best way to do it
5) We are addressing this at all levels
6) An urgent review is under way

But whatever happens, no one is responsible!

Woe is m... oney

Unwise councils

It's an idealistic dream to think that these things can be reversed, any more than you can uncrash a plane.

The comparison with the private sector (the more realistic, SME-one, not the big corporations who behave, especially at the top, just like government) is interesting, though I do wonder to what extent the inefficient can get weeded out at all, let alone cost-effectively, without gridlock.

There is a vast army that has been created to serve itself, and those who created it, though naked self-interest first and foremost. All within the democratic process.

It may appeal to have more and more bean counters, but eventually if there is no one left (or can afford) to make any beans to count, then cannibalism seems the only recourse. In political terms that seems to translate into social unrest.

'..they should make a point of voting for parties and individuals who recognise this profligacy cannot be sustained any longer.'

And these parties would be...? We're two months off and I am none the wiser.

So what has been written makes for interesting comment, but I don't see any practical solutions.

Which is the other sad legacy of present day life. Those make are marginalised by those who do little more than talk.

Word from above

Let the free market fight climate change

'There is potential merit in much that is advocated here. However, as a country-dweller of modest means I can only hope that whichever administration finds itself tasked with resolving what is a very complex long term problem, it can find itself able to do so from more than the perspective of a London C (for centric) - zone urban elite who can afford to indulge in symbolic practices. Or, worse, have mates in high places who don't see cutting back as the way to adequately dispose of their salaries.

At the end of the day, if we accept that a reduction of emissions is the prime objective, and an increase in efficiencies a valid route to this, the only acceptable routes are via establishing genuine enviROIs. It's one thing to practice, or impose, some green 'measure' even if there is a financial cost, quite another if it does not even end up helping the planet either.

Hence my doubts on current carbcon trading proposals, which seem more focused on allowing things (and commissions for 'handling') to continue than any reductions at commercial or personal levels for those who can afford to pay.

While I have no problem with the notion of wealth creation ('Where there's muck...' 'n all), I really would advocate that in looking to the future it may help to realise that money... isn't everything.'