Monthly Archives: November 2011

Democracy doesn’t authorise economic enslavement of a minority

Democracy is implemented in many ways around the planet, and we all interpret it differently. Wikipedia uses a reasonable definition, where ‘all citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives’. That should not mean that the system can be manipulated in such a way that a majority should be able to force the minority to pay for their lifestyle, but in practice it has in the UK. This is because of the way that government (Labour especially) has used the public sector not just as a means of providing public services but also as a powerful tool to get elected.

Today we see public sector strikes in the UK. The public sector now accounts for over half the UK economy, and about 700,000 of public sector jobs were seemingly created by the Labour government to increase the likelihood that they would be re-elected. This could be seen as corruption of the democratic process, in much the same way as deliberately increasing immigration to increase your support base, but I guess that depends on your a priori political allegiance. If you are a beneficiary, then it may well seem fair and reasonable, but to me this seems to be a severe abuse of democratic principles. I’d also argue that any gifts or bribes made by a corrupt agency are not valid entitlements to the beneficiary, any more than you own something that has been given to you by someone who stole it.

Democracy gives everyone a say, but it should not become dictatorship of the majority and certainly not a means of economic enslavement of a minority. Voting for a government to give you big handouts is all very nice, but someone has to pay for them and it should not be a means to steal from others. Public sector terms were once fair but are now unduly generous. Pensions that were affordable when lifespans were low have not been modified as they should as longevity has increased. To have allowed this to continue for so long, knowing that the benefits and costs far exceed what was intended by the original agreements, is licensed theft from hard-working private sector employees who are increasingly unable to afford decent lifestyles themselves.

Only a tiny amount of cash is earned by a few public sector jobs. Almost all the public sector consumes wealth that has to be earned by the private sector. Some public sector jobs are essential to our well-being and way of life, and it is right that they are properly remunerated. But survey after survey shows that people in the public sector generally earn far more per hour than their ‘equivalents’ in the private sector, even before their pensions are taken into account. With a few exceptions, they have higher salaries, take more sick leave and work fewer hours per day, and based on my experience, I would also say that they are less competent. On top of higher salaries, pensions in the public sector are extremely generous compared to private sector ones, having been set when people died a few short years after retirement at around 70 and when salaries were far lower than in the private sector. Even though people now live typically to their 80s, public sector workers can still retire very early, so that 30 years of work (working from age 20-50 for a police, fire service or prison officer for example) can fund over 30 years of expected retirement at up to 2/3 of final salary. Pensions can therefore be worth even more than salary for junior staff, since a year of work on a starting salary can earn a year of pension on 2/3 of a much higher one at retirement. By contrast, in the private sector, increasing longevity has led to widespread dismantling and downscaling of pensions.

Strikers might insist that they want to keep such enormous privileges, and argue that the terms and conditions were agreed when they started work. But the terms when they were agreed were intended to offer just a few years of comfortable retirement, not decades. They are greedy and selfish to ask that they continue, and know that their demands are very unreasonable. They deserve to be condemned. At best, they should receive average private sector terms and conditions.

The solution is simple. It is time to do exactly as private sector companies have done, to notionally make every public sector employee redundant, and to re-employ those who are needed on a contract that is comparable to the average in the private sector. Or let them take redundancy and never be employed again anywhere in the public sector. Some private companies have done exactly this as a means to impose new contracts.  (That highlights another current public sector advantage. When people are made redundant by a private sector company, they may not work for that company again. But people in the public sector often leave one public sector job and start another, still receiving redundancy payment. That’s fine if the employers are truly different but since they often behave as one body when it comes to strikes and pay bargaining, like today for example, they simply aren’t.)

It is time to reassert true democracy, and to stop public sector dictatorship and private sector economic enslavement. Public sector employees are not entitled to keep privileges earned or extended by voting in governments that look after them at the expense of everyone else, either through negligence or deliberately. The extent of those privileges was not agreed by those who now have to pay for them. They must end. Immediately and fully. Anything less is an abuse of democracy.

We need to make sure everyone in society is treated fairly in democracy, not just by being given a vote, but by having a system that ensures that a majority cannot vote for the rest to subsidise them.

Climategate 2.0

It is depressing watching what is happening in climate change science and even more the media and government responses to anything that develops. Any pretence that it is about science is long gone now. It is now a mess of politics, pseudo-science and pseudo-religious beliefs, with genuine scientists on all sides finding their voices drowned out by the roar of the crowd. The sad thing is that there is a lot of good science being done on both sides of the climate change debate, but it has little impact because many people refuse to hear the truth in climate science unless it aligns with their prior allegiance.

Everyone agrees that climate is changing, but not about why. Everyone also agrees that CO2 is one of the contributors, but not on how great its contribution is. What is known is that warming has stopped for 13 years now, and even some warmists are now accepting that we may see a few decades of cooling now because they have finally accepted that climate change is dominated by natural cycles, though coverage of such matters depends on which paper you read. The same facts can be ignored, glossed over, or even turned upside down depending on the prejudice of the author.

The new Climategate release is a perfect example. (A searchable list of what has been released this time is at Some papers have focused on what the emails reveal about the determination to drive the warmist agenda of some researchers, and their tendencies to hide or ignore any data that goes against it. Others have ignored the content because it goes against what they want to hear, and have instead focused on how awful it is that they were stolen and how much some climate scientists have to put up with. You buy your paper and you choose which bits of the truth you get.

The field is highly politicised and increasingly polarised along party lines now, with left wingers mostly claiming belief that mainly humans are causing climate change and right wingers mostly claiming that it is mostly natural changes with only a small human component. It has been hijacked as a tool by those who want to redistribute wealth via carbon levies, or to obtain huge subsidies for people investing in wind and solar energy, even as carbon dioxide is frequently shown by new studies to be less important in climate change than was once believed.

In the face of changed science and greatly lowered estimates of likely warming, if any, it is still more important for some politicians and newspapers to save face than to save taxpayers trillions of dollars wasted investment. The emails show that researchers have been encouraged to beef up the dangers, and some had been in support of their own agendas anyway. A lot of evidence has been destroyed, and a lot of papers produced by ignoring data that runs against the predetermined message. More emails have been deliberately deleted to stop the full truth from becoming known. It is quite sickening, and all the more so because some papers and TV companies are still trying to gloss over the filth, corruption and lies.

The result isn’t just that we will have our countryside ruined unnecessarily by wind farms. As a direct result of all the money thrown down the drain on wasteful ‘green’ energy schemes, many people will die needlessly because of fuel poverty, many companies will go out of business, and many economies will suffer, with reduction in quality of life for billions. But the environment won’t benefit, because environmental polices are very poorly thought out. Peat bogs and forest will still be cleared, corruption will still increase, money will migrate towards the greedy and the corrupt, and people still murdered to make land available for biofuels or solar farms.

It is morally wrong. It is overdue for us to have a new start on environmental policy, looking at the science and throwing out that which has been tarnished and corrupted. We will otherwise cripple economies, ruin lives and kill many people, and the environment will be far worse off than if we pursued good policies based on real science.

Time for the 13″ pad

800M people now have e-book readers, iPads or various other tablets. Most are around 7″ or 10″ screen size. The next obvious step upwards is magazine tablets.  There are a few very large format magazines out there, but Time magazine comes in at 13″ and I’d place my money on this being the next size for popular tablets. People can read books, papers and magazines on pads already, or even iphones for that matter, but with middle-aged eyes, I am not alone in wanting a bigger display and even the ipad feels cramped.

Smart-phones fit in your pocket, current pads are designed for taking out and about, but the 13″ pad will live mostly on the desk, coffee table or kitchen table. It is a better substitute for the laptop, and this is an important niche of course, but enabling new services in the home will be the big market for it. People who are used to reading paper magazines are more likely to buy a large format pad if the price is right. Games will look better on a bigger display, and so will videos. Even books can feel cramped on a 7″ pad, and in the home some will prefer to read them on large formats with bigger text instead of having to squint or juggle different pairs of glasses.

The 13″ format is more likely to be a shared device then the smaller formats. It is the natural home of home messaging, calendars, magazines, books, general web access and information services. Some of these are personal and will live on individually owned smaller pads, but the shared ones will move up.

I am expecting the phone to ring any minute as newspapers start producing their “what will happen next year then?” articles. Well, the 13″ pad will be top of my prediction list for 2012.