Saturday, 22 November 2014

My 100 Goals on the Radio

 I love listening to radio. In keeping with My 100 Goals, my tastes are quite eclectic. My first memories are of Radio 2 where I received a mix of songs from the Beatles to the Beach Boys, Marley to Motown.

I went through a Radio 1 phase but actually ended up preferring the greater mix of artists and decades that Radio 2 provided.

For several years I only listened to Radio 4. The Today programme through Women's Hour to The Archers with Old Harry's Game to round off the evening.

There have been many independent stations that I've enjoyed and currently one of my locals is Revival FM.

I've now been interviewed by Julien Crispin on Revival FM three times since Summer 2014. Being on radio was never on my list of 100 goals but for any author trying to market their books it's a wonderful opportunity. If you're trying to market a book or product or service, give your local station a call. See if you can find an angle that they'd find of interest to the local community and they might just invite you on.

Revival FM have kindly given me the recordings of the three shows so if you'd like to hear me on the radio, click on the links below:

The Great Scottish Land Grab - Interview by Jules Crispin on Revival FM 15 August 2014.

Scottish Independence Debate - Referendum Debate between Mark Smith for Yes and Gordon Anderson for No from 16 September 2014.

100 Crazy Ideas to Fix The Economy - Interview on Revival FM's Drivetime show with Julien Crispin.


Friday, 21 November 2014

Crazy Idea 13 - Don’t allow Parliament to destroy MPs expenses claims

If we want to fix the economy we have to deal with corruption, stop abuse of expenses and be willing to learn from past mistakes.

It’s impossible to do this if our Parliament destroys potential evidence.

According to The Telegraph on the 2nd Nov 2014: “MPs accused of abusing the unreformed expenses system will escape official investigation after the House of Commons authorities destroyed all record of their claims” (CI013A)

That our Government and Civil Service have conspired to destroy evidence of MPs abusing the expenses system makes a mockery of Parliamentary transparency. It does not matter if the majority of MPs were honest and above board, we will never now know... All MPs are now tainted by the fact their expenses claims and all evidence relating to those have been destroyed in a process that calls all of Parliament into disrepute.

A quick search of the Parliament website reveals a wealth of disturbing trends. MPs accused of abusing their position and the expenses system are documented defending their position by relying on the House of Commons Authorised Records Disposal Practice.

I picked a random complaint against an MP as recorded by Parliament. (CI013B) Look at the wording of paragraph 54:

‘54. The Director-General for Human Resources and Change responded to me on 21 February.[69] He said that the arrangements which were under scrutiny had begun in 2001-02, when [The MP] entered into arrangements with others for the purpose of acquiring a church hall to serve both as a constituency office for himself and as offices for the local Liberal Democrat party. The Director-General noted that at about the same time, the then Head of the Fees Office had issued new guidance which "affected" the arrangements that were being set up. He told me that the transactional records and most of the correspondence relating to the period between 2002 and 2004 had "properly been destroyed under the House's Authorised Records Disposal Practice", and in his view the few records that remained in this instance might support more than one explanation. The Director-General said: "I must therefore express extreme caution about drawing inferences from this period."’

The records had been “properly destroyed.” The law protecting MPs is completely different from laws protecting you and me. If you and I destroy evidence that the authorities deem relevant we can and will be prosecuted for that destruction. Even if the evidence would have proved us innocent. But there is a different law for MPs. We are not allowed to draw inferences about the past because all the relevant evidence has been properly destroyed. Whether this MP is innocent or guilty we are not allowed to know, not allowed to investigate, not allowed to judge or draw any inference.

Think this is an isolated incident? Try searching yourself with the phrase: Authorised Records Disposal Practice http://www.parliament.uk/search/results/?q=Authorised+Records+Disposal+Practice

The Director-General is correct that we should not presume to judge when the evidence is not all available. However, the evidence should never have been destroyed in the first place.

How can the British public have any confidence in a government that publically and openly covers up any disgraceful abuses by its MPs?

Our Government regularly criticises second and third world regimes for their corruption while deliberately practising a despicable cover up themselves.

If we want to fix the UK economy, we should start with the organization responsible for running the country: Parliament.

Is it a crazy idea for us to demand that the Authorised Records Disposal Practice should be terminated or at the least changed to ensure all records of MPs expenses are kept for the life of an MP plus say... thirty years?

On Monday I'll be guest posting on Mary Pat Hyland's blog on Monday and hosting her on this blog on Tuesday. http://www.marypathyland.com/thehylander/

On Wednesday I'm taking part in the Stupid Movie blog tour and normal craziness will resume on Thursday...


Do post your own crazy ideas or feedback on mine in the comments below and sign up to my mailing list below to be notified of future posts.

Why should my crazy ideas have any relevance to the economy? I'm the author of The Great Scottish Land Grab, a novel that imagines a fairer future for Scotland where the poor are empowered to change their destiny. I'm director of my own limited company: Goal 31 Ltd and I've over seven years experience working for government and financial organisations. Also, just like you, I'm a taxpayer and for some crazy reason I think that entitles us to have an opinion and for that opinion to be acted on by the government.

As I wrote at the start, I am making my 100 crazy ideas freely available. It seems unjust to propose ideas to fix the economy and then prevent people from freely reading those ideas. 100 Crazy Ideas to Fix the Economy will be published once the craziness is complete.

I can be found on Twitter: @my100goals or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/my100goals. There's a short bio here.


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References

(CI013A; The Telegraph; http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/11204405/MPs-to-escape-expenses-investigations-after-paperwork-destroyed-by-Parliament.html)

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Crazy Idea 12 - Let’s get everyone auditing and analysing Government finance looking for ways to save money

It’s not enough to generate more revenue. We also need to cut out waste.

But how can we trust government to do this when they have such a high incentive to keep wasting? Both MPs and civil servants have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

The Office of National Statistics likes to break populations down into quintiles: five bandings. Looking at the latest sets of figures available, the average incomes for each banding breaks down as follows (CI012A):

Up to the fourth quintile, no-one earns on average more than £40,000 a year. The income for the lower quintiles is so low that even the highest earners cannot take the average income for the whole of the UK above £32,108.

Every MP earns more than 80% of the population. In fact, even on the basic MP salary of £67,060 (CI012B), they are earning on average over 73% more than those of us stuck in the first four quintiles.

Not all civil servants earn a high salary but the ones who make the decisions do. Minimum pay for a Grade 5 Assistant Secretary is £65,422. Salary bandings for the Head of Civil Service goes all the way up to £178,709. (CI012C)

Think about that for a minute, both senior civil servants and MPs – both sets of people that theoretically are there to serve our interests – have a vested interest in maintaining their high salaries...

They also have a vested interest in insuring that any corporations they are invested in or affiliated with or even – and yes I struggle to believe this – are employed by, receive favourable terms from any new legislation that is passed. If you find it hard to believe your public servants make a healthy income from second jobs, consultancies etc. etc. why not have a scan through the House of Commons Register of Members’ Financial Interests. (CI012D)

Or, if you just want the headlines, check out these articles from the Daily Mail (CI012E) and The Guardian. (CI012F)

How are people who have so much to lose supposed to fight against the greed that is common to all people?

Never ask someone to audit themselves. It doesn’t work. Sure, there are plenty of people out there who are honest (fortunately, or our economy would have utterly collapsed years ago) but most of us have levels of honesty. When you are faced with the choice of shouting out that you are overpaid or keeping quiet, how many of us will take the pay cut?

There’s a reason that independent auditors are called in but since many of the main auditors are themselves vested in an economy that allows them to make large profits, how can we trust them to thoroughly audit what the government and its many tentacles spend?

My crazy idea is essentially simple, open it all up. All of it. Even the supposedly ultra secret services. Publish all public finances online. Each month. Allow every single person in the UK unfettered access to what is spent and what it is spent on.

Sure, I can accept that we might not want to name the names of MI5 or MI6 agents when we publish their salary and employers national insurance contributions but we can learn a lot by publishing the number of people employed in a salary banding and the total amount paid.

How much is spent on IT equipment by all government departments? Software (and I’m not talking about that expenses claim by a police quango for lingerie)? (CI012G) How about on building costs or cleaning services? As Julius Levinson asked in Independence Day: “You don't actually think they spend $20,000 on a hammer, $30,000 on a toilet seat, do you?” (CI012H)

Office chairs, wallpaper, entertaining... I’m sure you could help add a few thousand items to the list. We need to fill in the black holes in government accounting.

According to The Guardian, the government are spending several million trying to get you to vote Conservative in 2015 by sending out a leaflet to every home that confuses the reality of what is spent. You will be told that our welfare bill is huge. That it needs to be cut and the Conservatives are the ones to do it. (CI012I)

What they hide in this disingenuous statement is that the bulk of welfare is made up by pensions. As our cruel liberal government seeks to crush the life blood from the poorest in society they fail to mention that the reason welfare is so high is that people are living longer and our pension system was not designed to cope with it.

I do not believe we can trust our government. I take a step back – that’s a seriously scary statement. We the people cannot trust our government...

Or is it? Why should we trust them? Government is only people, like you and me. Why should any of us trust each other? We are wary of strangers until they’ve proved themselves. If a stranger becomes known and is proved untrustworthy then we don’t leave them alone with what we hold most precious.

I don’t trust the Conservatives. Nor Labour. Nor the Liberals. Not the SNP. Not even the Green Party. It is way past time for us to refuse to accept government has the right to hide from our scrutiny. It is time for us to fully audit all they do and for us to then say what should change and what should continue.

With millions of us checking the accounts, surely we can find some cost savings that could help us balance the books... Or is this just another crazy idea?


Do post your own crazy ideas or feedback on mine in the comments below and sign up to my mailing list below to be notified of future posts.

Why should my crazy ideas have any relevance to the economy? I'm the author of The Great Scottish Land Grab, a novel that imagines a fairer future for Scotland where the poor are empowered to change their destiny. I'm director of my own limited company: Goal 31 Ltd and I've over seven years experience working for government and financial organisations. Also, just like you, I'm a taxpayer and for some crazy reason I think that entitles us to have an opinion and for that opinion to be acted on by the government.

As I wrote at the start, I am making my 100 crazy ideas freely available. It seems unjust to propose ideas to fix the economy and then prevent people from freely reading those ideas. 100 Crazy Ideas to Fix the Economy will be published once the craziness is complete.

I can be found on Twitter: @my100goals or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/my100goals. There's a short bio here.


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References

(CI012A; ONS; 15/11/2014; http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/household-income/the-effects-of-taxes-and-benefits-on-household-income/2012-13/data--the-effects-of-taxes-and-benefits-on-household-income--2012-2013.xls)

(CI012B; Parliament; http://www.parliament.uk/about/mps-and-lords/members/pay-mps/)

(CI012C; Department of Finance & Personnel; http://www.dfpni.gov.uk/pay)

 (CI012D; Parliament; http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmregmem.htm)

(CI012E; Daily Mail; 5 April 2014; http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2597484/Labour-plans-ban-MPs-second-jobs-double-salaries.html)

(CI012F; The Guardian; 27 May 2013; http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/may/27/mps-jobs-interests-full-list-data)

(CI012G; Daily Mail; http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2023578/Police-quango-expenses-Fury-6-5m-lingerie-beehives-away-days-expense.html)

(CI012H; IMDB; http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116629/quotes?item=qt1534129)

(CI012I; The Guardian; 3 November 2014; http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/03/tory-tax-statement-welfare-budget-unemployment-pensions-cuts)

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Crazy Idea 11 - Get everyone to actively propose ways the Government could raise revenue


There are several assumptions behind this crazy idea.

That we actually trust the government to wisely use any extra revenue we raise to help ALL people, not just the ultra rich. I don’t trust the government one iota. But I’ve a few crazy ideas scheduled that could resolve that...

Also that we are happy with the amount of money the government currently spends. I’m not. I would vote for less war, less money spent on funding conflict and nuclear defence. I’m not totally against Trident but I get the view that spending billions on missiles that can kill hundreds of thousands of people is not something we probably need.

If Russia or that other evil superpower – the USA – was to declare war on us, then our paltry collection of submarines would do us a fat lot of good. See that smear on the map? That used to be the UK...

But war and defence are only two ways the government currently wastes the revenue they force us to pay them. MPs expenses, MPs salaries... I’m getting ahead of myself.

I would revolutionise how government spends our money. If my crazy ideas were implemented, if the poor were enabled to work and earn a good wage, if people had more power than big business then I wouldn’t object to the current high level of taxation we have.

So, what would it take for you to be happy paying tax?

And if you were happy with allowing the government to spend our money on our behalf, could you think of any ways to generate enough money that our country wasn’t in debt, that we could actually balance our books?

If everyone in the country was involved in the debate, even if for a couple of hours a week we were all sharing and discussing ideas instead of spending all our time watching I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here or Formula One or Football or Game of Thrones... (replace with your favourite timewaster...) then could we collectively produce some solutions that would work?

Just thinking aloud here. What do you think?


Do post your own crazy ideas or feedback on mine in the comments below and sign up to my mailing list below to be notified of future posts.

Why should my crazy ideas have any relevance to the economy? I'm the author of The Great Scottish Land Grab, a novel that imagines a fairer future for Scotland where the poor are empowered to change their destiny. I'm director of my own limited company: Goal 31 Ltd and I've over seven years experience working for government and financial organisations. Also, just like you, I'm a taxpayer and for some crazy reason I think that entitles us to have an opinion and for that opinion to be acted on by the government.

As I wrote at the start, I am making my 100 crazy ideas freely available. It seems unjust to propose ideas to fix the economy and then prevent people from freely reading those ideas. 100 Crazy Ideas to Fix the Economy will be published once the craziness is complete.

I can be found on Twitter: @my100goals or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/my100goals. There's a short bio here.


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Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Crazy Idea 10 - What if we had ten million out picking up litter every week?

I’ve mentioned this previously but it deserves a crazy idea of its own. We’ve grown government and councils to the point we can’t afford to pay for all the services they provide.

Do you want to pay more Income Tax?

Do you want your Council Tax to go up?

No, of course not! But why should we pay the council or government to do things we’re perfectly capable of doing ourselves.

For a single hour per person every week, we could transform our neighbourhoods and communities. If we picked up litter that we passed instead of complaining about it, our streets and parks would be kept clean.

Cost to you and I? Zero.

But litter picking is small scale, we could really ramp up these crazy ideas...


Do post your own crazy ideas or feedback on mine in the comments below and sign up to my mailing list below to be notified of future posts.

Why should my crazy ideas have any relevance to the economy? I'm the author of The Great Scottish Land Grab, a novel that imagines a fairer future for Scotland where the poor are empowered to change their destiny. I'm director of my own limited company: Goal 31 Ltd and I've over seven years experience working for government and financial organisations. Also, just like you, I'm a taxpayer and for some crazy reason I think that entitles us to have an opinion and for that opinion to be acted on by the government.

As I wrote at the start, I am making my 100 crazy ideas freely available. It seems unjust to propose ideas to fix the economy and then prevent people from freely reading those ideas. 100 Crazy Ideas to Fix the Economy will be published once the craziness is complete.

I can be found on Twitter: @my100goals or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/my100goals. There's a short bio here.


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Monday, 17 November 2014

Crazy Idea 9 - What if five million people volunteered to police our streets?

If we had an extra five million people volunteering to patrol our neighbourhoods, stand post outside known flash points, with power to intervene, would we all feel slightly safer?

What if that number was ten million?

There would be a cost: uniforms, training and probably other costs you can point out.

But there would also be a massive benefit. Communities set free from small groups or individuals who seem determined to destroy. Streets made safe to walk down. Shops able to reduce spending on security. I’m brainstorming here. If you had dozens of extra people standing guard and watch over your neighbourhoods, would that make a difference?

I’m assuming that such a scheme would require most of us to participate at some point.

I’ve worked with many groups and found for myself that my confidence has been boosted by the camaraderie, the training, the experience. Too many parts of our country are no-go areas. Why should there been any no-go areas?

The fact is that the economy cannot function or prosper when crime and disorder rule. Safer countries are prosperous countries.

But there is no need to employee extra police officers when we are perfectly able to train and act ourselves.

I know its a crazy idea, I mean, who wants to live in a safer country?


Do post your own crazy ideas or feedback on mine in the comments below and sign up to my mailing list below to be notified of future posts.

Why should my crazy ideas have any relevance to the economy? I'm the author of The Great Scottish Land Grab, a novel that imagines a fairer future for Scotland where the poor are empowered to change their destiny. I'm director of my own limited company: Goal 31 Ltd and I've over seven years experience working for government and financial organisations. Also, just like you, I'm a taxpayer and for some crazy reason I think that entitles us to have an opinion and for that opinion to be acted on by the government.

As I wrote at the start, I am making my 100 crazy ideas freely available. It seems unjust to propose ideas to fix the economy and then prevent people from freely reading those ideas. 100 Crazy Ideas to Fix the Economy will be published once the craziness is complete.

I can be found on Twitter: @my100goals or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/my100goals. There's a short bio here.


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Friday, 14 November 2014

Crazy Idea 8 - Get everyone who is unemployed working on ways to provide full employment

Unemployment in the UK has in theory been falling over the last year but the reality is that people are being forced to accept contracts that provide no job security and even worse, no guarantee of income.

Zero Hours Contracts are trumpeted by the Government and some big businesses as a solution to unemployment. For anyone who has a family to provide for or regular bills to pay they are a cruel form of punishment.

People in work need a regular income, especially the lower paid. In 2010 I was working as an IT contractor on a decent daily rate. The recession reached its lowest point for the IT market and I was out of work for over five months.

We were only able to survive as a family because I’d earned enough over the previous year that we had been able to start saving. Five months later our savings were gone but we had survived long enough that I had been able to secure a new contract.

Someone on minimum wage is unable to save enough to have a buffer when they’re told there is no work.

Small scale, short term solutions to unemployment are sticking plasters on a gaping chasm in the UK. We need radical, large, huge solutions that will enable us to create jobs for everyone who needs them.

What if we had 2.5 million people actively proposing ways for employment to be created?

Is it conceivable that some really radically great ideas could result that would end mass unemployment?

Or is this just another crazy idea?

Do post your own ideas or feedback on my crazy ideas in the comments below each post.

As I wrote last week, I am making my 100 crazy ideas freely available. It seems unjust to propose ideas to fix the economy and then prevent people from freely reading those ideas. I will publish the full series once complete but this blog will remain.

I can be found on Twitter: @my100goals or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/my100goals. There's a short bio here. You can sign up to my mailing list below to be notified of future posts:


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