Your Tax Money At Work

Well, yes, clearly so

Runnymede Trust boss Halima Begum accused of using it to play politics

Obviously. This, from Halima’s view, being the point of the exercise.

If you believe that government is the solution then working toward a solution means doing politics, for politics is how you influence what a government does.

We can like this or not, claim that charities shouldn’t do politics and all that, but that’s what she and the like are doing.

There’s a level of government management that just doesn’t work

We’re past it:

Drinkers should take cash to the pub with them next week to avoid falling foul of new rules that say staff should take payments for drinks outside, The Telegraph has been told.

Guidelines have been drawn up that ban pubs from taking payments indoors – potentially shutting out a third of the sector from Monday’s reopening.

Consenting adults probably can work out how to pay for a round without the intervention of the bureaucracy.

This isn’t difficult to explain

Thursday’s problems didn’t come as a surprise. Despite its reputation as the world’s technology capital, California has struggled to develop a smooth process for Covid-19 vaccine sign-ups. At the top of Californians’ long list of complaints about vaccine distribution is My Turn, the website launched by the state as a hub for scheduling.

Since its launch in January, the system has struggled with glitches. The website often crashes, sometimes doesn’t show any appointments at all, lists appointments that do not actually exist, or at times allows users to sign up for a first vaccine dose but not for the second.

Getting government to do something often is less efficient than getting non-government to do something. Especially in California.

I spy money – gimmie, gimmie, gimmie

It has no website, but according to the Charity Commission the Denise Coates Foundation received £85 million in donations up to March last year but spent only £9.9 million. It made 23 grants in the same year, including to a mentoring programme in Malawi, a water hygiene project in Eritrea and education and arts projects in Britain but is facing questions over why it is not spending more of its reserves of £385 million.

The foundation has most of the reserves, £374 million, in an endowment fund, which trustees hope to maintain at its real value and distribute income and gains. The policy means that the charity can operate without being dependent on donations, but critics questioned why this was necessary given the regular donations from Coates.

Kishan Patel, from the gambling harm group Talkgen, said that the money could be used to fund services to address gambling addiction. “Research, education and treatment into gambling harm has been chronically underfunded for several years now and the Denise Coates Foundation sits on £300 million and [has] never made any donation to reduce or prevent gambling harm,” he claimed.

Some people just can’t see a pot of money without demanding some of it, can they?

What to do with those High Streets

As The Observer tells us in fact:

Wolfson may have the best ideas about what comes Next for shops

Seems likely to us. Long time industry professional who is actually paid, daily, to work out what to do with shops might be just the person to work out what to do with shops. The contribution that politics can make to all of this is to give him, and all his contemporaries, the room and freedom to do that experimentation.

That is, hands off and leave it alone. As nurse used to say, if you keep picking at it you’ll only make it worse.

Fairly rigorous here, fairly rigorous

The Army is always very keen indeed upon financial honesty. So, breaches are taken seriously. I know a bloke who was thrown out for bouncing a cheque in a fellow officer. So, our Major General:

A senior army officer has been jailed for 21 months for falsely claiming almost £50,000 in allowances to pay for his children’s boarding school fees.

Pretty fierce for there’s more:

As well as the custodial sentence, to be served in a civilian prison, Welch was retrospectively dismissed from the army, meaning he will not be able to benefit from the rank of retired major general.

He was also ordered to pay back the fraudulently claimed money.

Not sure if Brigadier is still a rank or not. Which means he might drop back to Colonel – which is a significant reduction in pension there.

Now, wouldn’t it be nice if those others who work for us – in, say, politics, the civil service, local councils – who lift £50k get similar sentences?

Long grass

Britain is stuck with the licence fee until 2038 because the Government’s failure to roll out super-fast broadband has left no viable alternative, MPs have concluded.

The Government’s pledge to deliver full-fibre broadband to every home by 2025 was downgraded to a target of just 85 per cent in November.

A subscription-based, universal alternative to the licence fee would require all households to be online before the next BBC Charter is negotiated for 2028-38. That now appears all but impossible, according to a report by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee.

“It’s clear that the BBC TV licence fee has a limited shelf life in a digital media landscape. However, the Government has missed the boat to reform it,” said Julian Knight, the committee’s chairman.

That doesn’t sound like a reason at all. Rather, an opportunity to delay the decision for whatever spurity so as to maintain the status quo for a decade and more.

If only journalists knew anything

Many state systems run on COBOL, a decades-old computer programming language; there’s just no need to subject people to this. It would be better, more efficient, more impactful, and no more expensive to have the federal government enact its own system, and fewer people would fall through the cracks.

Cobol, eh?

Indeed, as of 2016, the GAO notes that several agencies, such as the departments of Agriculture, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Justice, Treasury and VA, reported using COBOL.

Umm:

Most of the blame for that has been piled onto the 60-year-old COBOL language. That’s because the underlying software for many state unemployment systems and the IRS is written in COBOL.

So, bumping the program up from the states to the IRS will mean not using Cobol, eh?

From many federal government agencies to your local bank, COBOL is still in use. An estimated 43% of banking systems and 95% of ATM swipes utilize COBOL code.

Right.

Why we need more affordable homes

Savvy property investors are believed to be scouring London’s most prestigious postcodes for pandemic bargains. But even the most opportunistic real estate hunters will be surprised to find an apartment overlooking Harrods and Hyde Park for just £150,000.

There is one catch, however: the “zero bedroom flat” measures barely 8 square metres, or 89 sq ft in old money.

That is pretty titchy. That’s about twice the size of a super king bed. -Ish, -ish, you understand. If shagging those who claim to be visiting Harrods is your sport then it would be cheap at twice the price of course.

Thangam Debbonaire, Labour’s shadow housing secretary, said: “This outrageous advert is evidence of a broken housing market and shows why we need more truly affordable homes.”

Well, yes, OK, we’ll accept it as evidence. The thing is, what’s the best plan to get more built? Continuing with the system of the Town and Country Planning Act which has been failing since 1947 would not appear to be the way to do it.

Oh aye?

Kinnair said that if the review body accepted the department’s advice, “a pay award as poor as this would amount to only an extra £3.50 per week take-home pay for an experienced nurse. Nobody would think that is fair in the middle of a pandemic. Nursing staff would feel they are being punished and made to pay for the cost of the pandemic. Nursing deserves a 12.5% increase.”

We’re trying to recover from the worst recession in 300 years and nurses should get a 12.5% pay rise?

Fuck off matey

Fascist little bully boys

Wales has become the first of the UK nations to make it illegal to smoke on hospital and school grounds, public playgrounds and other outdoor day care and childminding settings.

A penalty of up to £100 could be given to anyone breaking the law, which is aimed at helping to discourage people from starting smoking and to support those trying to quit.

The Labour-led government said it also hoped to protect more people from being exposed to secondhand smoke and reduce the chances of children taking up the habit by making it seem less normal.

So, someone in hospital now needs to be wheeled right out of the hospital grounds in order to have crafty fag rather than being able to nip out the back door?

Sod ’em.

Depends whose money it is

For more than 200 years the coastguard cottages at Cuckmere Haven, East Sussex have perched on a clifftop overlooking the English Channel.

Built just after the Napoleonic era the cottages attract millions of visitors each year and are known the world over after featuring in countless feature films, pop videos and TV programmes.

They are also currently featured on a Royal Mail 1st class stamp.

But the homes are under threat from rising coastal erosion and, despite the construction of a sea wall 80 years ago, the buildings are slowly being undermined by the sea.

OK, maybe save them with a new sea wall, maybe not. Depends really:

Dame Judi, who filmed Blithe Spirit at Cuckmere Haven last year (2020), said: “It is the one place I know that if you were to sum up the essence of our country I would have no doubt in recommending it to other people. At all costs it must be preserved.”

No, clearly not. If it costs £10 then why the hell not? If £10 billion well, probably cheaper to unbuild the place, haul it inland 300 yards and rebuild it. That’ll last a century or three, right?

Although, of course, that’s not quite what Dame Judy means. She means at any amount of other peoples’ money. Given the pay rates for famed actresses she could take on one extra role in a year and pay for the entire thing herself – which she isn’t doing, is she?

Well, sorta, but, perhaps, not so much

‘If white people were still here, this wouldn’t happen’: the majority-Black town flooded with sewage

This is about Centreville. Which is right next door to East St Louis. And as badly run too.

The actual problems being a combination of depopulation and really, appallingly – and black – government. The black government isn’t the reason it’s shitty, but that also means it’s not a race issue the other way.

‘Ave an Anglo Saxon Wave my lovelies

Seriously:

Key witnesses at the Grenfell Tower public inquiry must not be allowed to give evidence “from their sofas”, survivors of the disaster have warned as hearings restart remotely over Zoom next week after a two-month Covid suspension.

With witnesses due to appear from Arconic, which made the combustible cladding, and the tower’s owner, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Grenfell United said fully remote hearings meant traumatised members of the community would miss out on the catharsis of seeing figures with responsibility before the fire being held accountable in person.

The aim is to find out what happened, not to provide psychiatric help…..

They’re not quite grasping it

They include senior members of the Northern Research Group (NRG), made up of dozens of MPs in former “Red Wall” seats, who suggest that a 1p-2p hike in fuel duty would be “bearable”, providing it enabled investment in left behind areas.

Yes, normal politics does mean “if we have tax rises we’ve more to spend on pet projects”.

We’re not in normal times now. You’ve already spent all the money and more. Now the scramble is to pay for what you’ve already spent. This is much less fun as you’re about to find out.

Oh well

One of the most glaring aspects of the Covid-19 era is yet another Westminster-centred crisis of political leadership, if not politics itself. This may be a polarised age in which the idea of millions being helped through dark times by the people at the top is laughably old-fashioned. Trust in power has hardly been a feature of recent British history. But it has been clear from the start of this crisis that Boris Johnson has neither the gravitas nor the basic administrative talents to offer us any convincing kind of inspiration or comfort, and the surreally poor quality of the cabinet only makes things worse.

Given that the Tories are – marginally perhaps – the competent ones that means that Britain just can’t have an intrusive nor embracing government then. Simply because the ruling class can’t cope with being so.

Minarchy it is then.

Whatever we think of Rishi and Gavin who does think that Anneliese and David Lammy are more competent?