Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The Nullness of Nulls

As you may know most of my working life is taken up with NULL (s). From the design of a data map, to scoring and more importantly count of questions NULL (s) are key but what is a Null. Well the bourgeois inhabitants of are technocracy will say they are merely a unasked or unanswered question (as answering non applicable is leaving a question effectively unanswered). I, however, would disagree. NULL (s) are more than a simple binary switch between answered and unanswered, they are the Other in statistical form.

In Baudrillard brilliant book “In the shadow of the silent majority”, he warns his reader that the silent majority is exactly that, silent; they are akin to black holes, whose message we try and grasp vainly. Indeed this majority not only does not speak but actively distorts meaning imposed upon it. I cannot help but this that the language of the mass is the NULL, that great lack in our system of meaning. Thin on this try as we may we cannot decipher NULL(s) they refuse definition, they escape and distort meaning and they also are incalculable (trust me unless you NZ them they really are).

Thus we exclude them, we reject this voice as unworthy of us and it is here the NULL truly become Other to us, it becomes outside of are worldview, indeed, it so offend us that we take great effort to excluded its Otherness from our view. We excluded the Otheress of the NULL because we cannot understand it and because to fit are world view onto people means excluding there otherness thus we except the dominate structure of meaning and further exclude the Otherness of the scilent majority by it.

So what can we do to include the Otherness of Null (s), well brothers and sisters we cannot give meaning to the meaningless, we can only hope that the Nulls of the world unite for they have nothing to lose but there exclusion

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Min booze pricing

It is now possible to by poison cheaper than water, this poisons not only shortens the life spans of those who consume it but cause them to harm others around them and to harm the society in which they live and this poison is not only legal, it is culturally entranced and defended. Indeed so culturally entranced is its consumption that some parties (UKIP) seek to defend the public houses in which it was traditionally served.

There are those who believe that somehow the free market will solve this issue, I have no further idea how the free market is supposed to do this as the cost of the consequences of this poison are not born by its makers nor by those who sell it. There are moves to force late night venues to incur the cost of policing there cliental, which is ironic as these purveyors, though hardly helping matters, are not the prime cheap poison distribution agents.

No the root cause of this sickness is not public houses; it is a society that tolerates public drunkenness and a society that allows the selling of a poison below cost price. We allow these sellers to make a profit whilst are health service, police service and society bear the cost. For those who do not believe this is an issue maybe they should see the raise in live damage deaths in the UK as an indicator. Or maybe they should explain it to the dean of Saint Mary’s (a church in the centre of my home town) who is forced to use bouncers to keep out drunks so he can hold midnight mass.

So what is there to be done? Well firstly something, doing nothing is uneconomical, wider society bears the cost of discount booze. Secondly we must accept a limit to our actions effectiveness. We can increase and increase pricing but the addict will sacrifice anything to buy his poison and we must not take away accesses to prudent amounts of this substance to those who want it. We must also recognise we are not people’s mother or father.

Minimum pricing and the end of bulk buy discounts is a step forward, it will of course reduce consumption and it send out a message that this poison is harmful. Alongside this the harsher punishments and monitoring of repeat offenders of darkness is of course welcome but we must do more. We must make the sellers pay for the harm they cause and to this end we must increase the fee levied on discount booze sellers. We should set a secondary minimum, allowing organisations to sell below that but hitting their pockets for doing so.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

How to win an election

How to win an election:

I recently read a piece about the proper conservative approach to winning the next election. It was full of empty nonsense about marginal and Mondao man (yeah showing my age). Worse of all it said the Tories should not target any seats in Scotland (Any seat won in Scotland would be a bonus). This was a piece of a supposedly national party and a view which highlights the total failure of the party to reach out. Indeed it is a failure of the party to come to terms with the end of Thatcher and of imagination, thought and even will.
First issue is who we should target:

Well I am no pollster, indeed I think a over reliance on polling is part of the issue of the increase ghettoization of political parties but everyone. I truly believe that all parties must offer a comprehensive, wide ranging package of policies.

There are two main groups, however, of voters that we can and must target. The first group is the heart land of the party the well paid, hardworking, semidetached dwelling citizen. Yes, the oft quoted squeezed middle. Now, we should not target them just because they vote and live in marginal but because they are the very heart of the nation and I mean Britain not just southern England.

The second group is a little outside normal Conservative territory they are the working poor; though I doubt they’d enjoy this title. I come from a working poor family and am proud to do so. The working poor are community orientated dissent and besieged by ever rising immigration and criminality and disorder. They have the worried of the squeezed middle and over their own jobs and bleak outlooks. These people, live outside the marginal, indeed some of them may live in seats which our wholly unwinnable but without them we cannot morally represent the nation or truly improve this nation.

Second issue: How do we earn their votes?

Well, well. If I really knew the answer, I’d be earning the big bucks and sipping Champaign at Tory headquarters. I can, however, tell you where the answer is not. It’s not at the end of a focus group or the endless paragraphs of a polling intelligence report. Neither of these groups desperate economic situations will be improved by equalising marriage rights or replacing the ECHR with a bill of rights or the instigation of an elected House of Lords.

Basics first:

Let us be honest; get the economy right and power will follow. Indeed keep or increase peoples living standards up and you’re basically guaranteed to be re-elected. So what can we do to ensure the British economy recovers and grows? Well actually the macroeconomic policy pursued by the party is in my view spot on.

Cutting the deficit and keeping are credit level high (and thus debt repayment low) is an absolute. It both invokes careful conservative economics at its best and highlight strong decisive conservative leadership. Alongside this the cutting of corporation tax and subsidies for industrial companies, which will bring in the jobs for the squeezed middle and the working poor are also essential and the economic rebalancing are economy has sorely needed since the 80’s.

Polices for squeezed middle:

Due to generational economic policies of lifting the poor out of taxation and high levels of evasion and general lower tax take from the very wealthy the tax burden has shifted to the middle classes. These same middle classes have been further hit by increasing cost of childcare, inflation and the lower values of pensions. They feel betrayed by the welfare state and over taxed and ill valued. They exist in every sea, in every county in this nation. They are exhausted by sending their children to university and worried for the future prospects of these children, they despaired over the lack lustre education offered in Britain and disgusted at the rampant ill behaviour of the few.

They our only made content due to low mortgage rates (thanks to BoE decision to keep rates low) and the soon to be ended stamp duty holiday; indeed even the eternally low mortgage rates pour being eroded by banks, the very same banks the tax money of these good people paid. We cannot force the banks to keep their rates low, nor can we save them from having to bear the lion share of taxation.

We can and are keeping business rates low which will encourage business to start up (thus increasing employment and tax take), we can close loops holes for the super-rich and we can and our increase the provision of education. We must do more to equalise the tax benefits of child bearing and of co-habitation. We must industrialise child care; indeed a government led but private sector funded mass provision scheme could do wonders, whilst lowering the cost of provision.

We must also increase the tax take on all second homes (even those used for rental) and use it instead to end the raids on pensions and increase the range of tax free investment options offered for savers ; including again government led schemes to allow parents to save for their child’s educational future and schemes that allow them to save for their old age (which will protect their property for their decedents). The final and most important policy is a reduction of petrol duty – this single tax is highly destructive as both an inflationary tax and damages the British economy whilst decreasing the living standards of core voters.
Polices for the working poor.

The working poor are the large forgotten group of Tory voter, not simply placated with empty rhetoric surrounding immigration and crime but demand action. They are sick of seeing the safety net (they need) abused and eroded and are terrified at losing their job. They also worry about their children’s education and how they are going to fund their dotage.

First thing first we need to rebalance the welfare state and I mean more the making work pay; we need to make work relate to benefits. We need to connect a working life with the receipt of benefits; so those who get first child care are those couples who work, those who get council housing are those who work and it is slanted in favour of those who have worked. Indeed so deep must this relationship run, even the time and effort at the job centre should be devoted to those with the best work history. The headliner policy for this would be a guarantee that if you have worked for five years you will be guaranteed housing if you are made unemployed as well as a promise of better pension benefits.

As for education a new focus on work based training and the adoption of http://piemandmu.blogspot.com/2012/03/new-school.html would go a long way. This can be funded by taking resources away from ESL and reducing the less useful courses now on offer. We must also reduce net low qualified immigration and aggressively seek to deport illegal immigrants, regardless of ECHR. This combined with a new focus on industrial sector and assisting in private sector job creation will see the birth of a new pro-British, pro working job policy.

Friday, 2 March 2012

New school

I want you to imagine a brave new world, a world in which only 10 or 20 per cent of the population go to university and the rest well they work and learn though state organised but partially self-funded work experience. What you say self-funded slavery!
Well of course not the work experience would be paid but a very low wage – the shortfall could be made up through the student taking out a loan for the three years of guaranteed work experience. Each provider would offer different experience but a minimum level of learning time and experience offered.

It is not that I believe in academia, indeed my university years though painful formed me as I am. It is I don’t believe in academia for its own sake. It is beyond wasteful to send people to undertake fruitless degrees, paid for by debts they will never pay back, which they will never need or use in there working life.

Now I concede that allot of people do go to university and end up in a related career and this is a very good thing. The question for me is a simple one, are these skills so complex, so rare that they could only be taught at university and require a cloistered degree program? I Doubt any and I do mean any skill requires such commitment and any company that required the teaching of advance skills could easily partner up with a university (as they do now) and still provide particle work experience.

Of course applying to the scheme would be more complex than the current system and the benefits of each placement and the requirements would differ very radically but in place of hollow generic degrees you would gain three years’ experience and three years teaching in the particle skills needed for your future. Some people will end with degree and some with a minimally guaranteed level of knowledge that could be formalised into some horrible abbreviated award.

As for the providers the government could force all public sector organisations to offer places, as well as any provider to the public sector and for others the state could offer tax breaks, assist in linkages with university, provide human resource assistance and train there future employees for a very minimal outlay. For their part they would guarantee to take on a minimal percentage of trainees and provide a minimal level of skills and experience.