Thursday, 31 December 2009

Just a quick one

So they're building a big statue in Senegal ("When completed early in 2010, it will be bigger than the Statue of Liberty in New York.") The President says that the statue was his own idea and "...he says he will personally take 35% of the revenue it generates, with the rest going to the state. "

Just out of interest, is he paying 35% of the £16.6m cost of building it?

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

News from History - 5 Sept 2005 to 11 Sept 2005

Way back in 2005 I started to play around with php. One of the things that I made was a simple little chat site so that some friends and I could talk while at work (as we couldn't get on msn). To begin with it was really simple and I gradually added features to it over time. One of the things I liked to do even back then was read a bunch of blogs and news stories and pass on the ones that I thought were interesting.

On the 5th of September 2005, I added server side logging of what was said in the main chat page. Given how life is kinda hectic and I really don't have time to post regularly on this blog, I thought it might be interesting to revisit the past, and see what was interesting back then. I plan to put posts up here with a week at a time, detailing the links and what I think of them now - hopefully some of it will be interesting for anyone who happens to read them :-)

So to start with, 5/9/05 to 11/9/05:

on the 5th, we have:
  • the house that css built - quite a neat demonstration of what can be done with no images at all, just cleverly written CSS code
  • a baby grown outside of the womb - I've heard of ectopic pregnancies, but I'm no medic and I'm not sure if that was what happened here, exactly. I do know that it's interesting stuff - might it mean that men can one day give birth?
On the 6th:
On the 7th:
  • MP critiscised for taking the mickey - A grant of £48k was given to study Gypsies and travelling communities. Monmouth MP David Davies (Conservative - note this is not the David Davis who resigned over the terrorist detention extension - there's an e in the surname) wrote to the Heritage Lottery Fund asking for the same amount to study people who don't travel around. I thought it was amusing...
On the 8th to the 11th:

no news posts. I should point out that on the 7th and 8th most of our talk was around the forthcoming release of Exalted 2nd edition, but I figure most people won't want to see links to that. If anyone does, just say so in the comments :-) On the 9th I wasn't at work, so there was not a lot of chatting and linking going on, and likewise on the 10th and 11th (as they are a weekend).

Saturday, 30 May 2009


I think it was Frank Herbert in Dune who wrote "It is not that power corrupts, but that power attracts the corruptible." Yeah, no prizes for guessing what I plan to write about.

It's quite easy to see how the situation could arise whereby they assume it's all ok. Consider it, you're a newly elected MP, getting paid a paltry £60k... Your colleagues in parliament point out how it's the MPs who run the country, who make things work - in private industry they'd be paid a lot more.

They use logic - we deserve more, they say. We need to be paid more to do the job properly, but the public won't be happy if we award ourselves massive pay rises, so we just have expenses... Think of it as extra wages, just without any of that bothersome tax to pay - put down any old excuse.

There are a number of problems with this argument. First and foremost, who says that they deserve more? The easiest way to tell if a job is overcompensated (be it in pay or benefits) is to look at the number of applicants - and there are a lot more applicants than there are seats. Of course the position of an MP is a little unique in that there are no doubt some people who would do the job for nothing. We need to ensure that someone who is an MP receives enough money to live on so that it's not just a job available to the rich and those with sponsorship (and the attaching vested interests). But there's no reason to pay them any more than this amount...

If the pay isn't good enough, go get another job. Don't try to sneak in pay rises as "expenses" and expect the general public not to find out or care.

"But compared with CEOs of big companies, we get paid hardly anything" they say. Well, probably not literally, but that sort of thing. The problem is that CEOs of private companies are responsible to their shareholders, they can be kicked out at any time, and if they're not shown to make money for the company, out they go (unless they do catastrophically badly, but the government agrees to pick up the cheque, as with the banks). There is no measure of an MPs performance that's meaningful, and there's no way they add value to the country at present. Look at the current economic crisis, brought about primarily because of Labour's inability to understand how things work.

Several people have said that MPs should just be paid more, and lose their allowances. I say why the hell should we pay them any more - pay them less! Work out what the average wage for a British worker in the private sector is and pay them that much. Allowances should cover travel costs, and the cost of renting a place near westminster if their constituency is a long way away, and nothing else. Staff, if necessary, should be supplied centrally and paid a reasonable wage - not £40k p.a. for your husband (because I doubt that job was awarded based on any bias at all, honest... I'm sure it was advertised, and the best man for the job selected, with no consideration of any links to the employer which might bias things...).

MPs make our laws. If we don't have faith in them, the whole criminal justice system is under threat. They must be above reproach, honest, fair and trustworthy. Our current lot fail all of these tests - at the next election we must kick them out and show them what we think of them. Then put into place a system to stop the troughing...