Friday, 19 December 2014

Crazy Idea 30 - Kill Santa!



With six shopping days till Christmas (our capitalist overlords wouldn't want you to stop shopping on the Sabbath) here are a few fictional Christmas headlines to mull over...

"Vicar tells children the truth, capitalist parents react with fury!"

"Impoverished single mother admits she saw a glimmer of hope."

"Santa's around the country call for Vicar to be exiled to the South Pole."

It's not been a good week for Santa.

On Wednesday Santa was arrested. (CI030A)

On Thursday parents and children were told Santa doesn't exist. (CI030B)

You could almost imagine Santa had been subjected to extraordinary rendition.

I imagine the CEO's of quite a few companies chuckling to themselves as they realise that no matter how bad austerity gets, parents are so invested in the fictional world of Santa Claus that they don't want their kids to know the truth...

I'm all for feasts and festive celebrations. But there is something dark and evil about the greed that consumes us at this time of year.

When our kids were little we tried very hard to avoid lying to them about Santa. If they asked the question: is Santa real, we'd turn the question around and ask them what they believed. But we never directly told them that the jolly fat man didn't exist.

We shouldn't have been surprised that when one of our children found out the truth they were furious with us.

The BBC quotes 'A parent on Facebook' who said the Vicar had '"spoiled the magic" of Christmas.' Call me Scrooge but if the magic of Christmas is only about maintaining a fantasy that encourages us to get into further debt I'm quite happy with killing off Santa.

Parent Dish refers to a study by Asda (reported in a 2012 Daily Mail article (CI030C)) asking the vital question: Why are parents spending so much on their children's Christmas presents? (CI030D)

According to Asda, 'the average parent splashes out no less than £312 on Christmas presents per child.' Parent Dish goes on to ask: 'If these children get showered with such riches now, what are they going to expect for their 18th birthdays?'

According to Wikipedia there are 11.1 Million children age 14 and under in the UK. If the Asda survey was accurate we could be spending roughly £3.5 Billion on Christmas presents each year... (CI030E)

This is despite estimates that one third of all children in the UK live in poverty... (CI030F)

What if we were to kill off Santa? What if we were to abandon the excess of our Christmas celebrations... According to a different survey by InSinkErator quoted in the Daily Mail online, 'The day's feasting will create an extra 50m bags of rubbish, or £600m of food. As a nation we'll spend £3.3 billion on food for the Christmas table this year.' (CI030G)

600 Million pounds worth of food thrown in the bin?! Surely that can't all be brussel sprouts...

Even Money Saving Expert suggests that giving less may be wise. (CI030H)

There would be winners and losers if parents were to stop spending so much at Christmas. The winners may well be the parents themselves, even after the kids tantrums have ceased. Wouldn't it be wonderful to enter January without an even greater debt burden around our necks?

The losers may well be retailers and suppliers. Is it possible though, that the long term health of our economy would be better served by moving away from a system that encourages spending on cheap plastic and expensive disposable electronics to a more sustainable one?

Or is this just another crazy idea?

I'm taking a two week vacation from these crazy ideas so I can recite Bah Humbug while hypocritically indulging in feasting and present giving.

Of course no-one really wants to kill Santa, but if you were to "accidentally" knock him off your roof, whatever you do, don't put on the red suit or the Santa Clause will get you! (CI030I)



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:
(CI030A; BBC; http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-norfolk-30532016)

(CI030B; Evening Telegraph; http://www.eveningtelegraph.co.uk/news/scotland/santa-arrested-after-glasgow-statue-stunt-1.741919)

(CI030C; Parent Dish; http://www.parentdish.co.uk/christmas/why-are-parents-spending-so-much-on-their-childrens-presents/)

(CI030D; Daily Mail; http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2221432/Christmas-2012--Toy-sales-expected-soar-72-week-parents-spending-average-312-child-says-Asda.html)

(CI030E; Wikipedia; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demography_of_the_United_Kingdom)

(CI030F; Barnardo's; http://www.barnardos.org.uk/what_we_do/our_work/child_poverty/child_poverty_what_is_poverty/child_poverty_statistics_facts.htm)

(CI030G; Daily Mail; http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2070269/Families-spend-133-70-household-Christmas-day-food--throw-fifth-BIN.html)

(CI030H; Money Saving Expert; http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/shopping/christmas-savings)

(CI030I; YouTube; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t067u2Jnks0)

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Crazy Idea 29 - Forgive!



If we want to fix the economy then we have to be willing to forgive. I started writing this series in anger but anger is not going to provide the foundation we need to build a strong economy.

You’ve probably heard this statement: “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” (CI029A)

It’s an interesting statement. There is occasional truth in it, yet not everyone who fears becomes angry. Not everyone who is angry hates.

Before the summer of 2014 I opposed Scottish independence. Having lived in England for ten years and experienced great friendship with many South of the border, I saw no reason to separate the two countries. Having been brought up in Scotland I associated Scottish Nationalism with bitterness and hatred towards the English.

Yet I was angry myself. Angry at perceived injustice in the UK. Angry at greater and greater inequality between the wealthy and the poor. Angry at a government that operated for a few rather than the many, who were unwilling to fix the root causes of our economic problems.

It is possible that my anger was partly out of fear. Fear caused by always feeling I couldn’t afford to provide for my family. Fear that I’d never be able to get on top of debt or progress in my career.

At times I’ve allowed that anger to run into hate. Hatred towards our Prime Minister. Hatred at a Coalition that has punished the poor for problems caused by the rich and middle class.

But hatred is not going to solve the many problems our economy has.

Have you ever experienced hatred? Someone abusing you physically or verbally. If you have, how did you respond?

Did you want to respond with kindness to those showing you hatred? Did you want to respond with patience, with gentleness?

One of the hardest choices any of us can make is to respond with kindness, patience and gentleness to those who show hate towards us.

There is no guarantee this counterintuitive act will improve the situation. It is even possible that such a response will make things worse, not better.

Yet millions have found such a display of love is the best response to hatred. Why? Because it releases us from the cycle of violence. It frees us to act without being governed by anger and hatred ourselves.

One of the analogies used by some in the lead up to the Scottish referendum was that of a divorce from an abusive partner, Westminster being portrayed as the abuser.

Being a victim of violence, hatred and/or anger are justifications for leaving an abusive relationship, whether on a personal level or national. But while it may not be easy or even possible to forgive the perpetrator of such abuse in the immediacy of the act, forgiveness is vital if the victim is to truly be freed.

Without giving forgiveness, the victim may end up becoming the abuser themselves. The victim may end up in a similar abusive relationship. Fear and anger and hatred have a way of spawning. Forgiveness can stop them in their tracks.

The economy of Britain is broken. We have a choice. We can live in fear of the consequences of our own bad decisions and those of our government. We can live in anger against ourselves and those who have caused the problems. We can choose to hate: hate politicians, hate the rich, even hate ourselves for our own mismanagement of our money.

Or we can choose to forgive, release ourselves from emotion that will cripple us. Allow ourselves freedom to choose a different path. If you want to fix the economy it’s your choice. What will you choose?


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:

(CI029A; Yoda Quotes; http://www.yodaquotes.net/fear-is-the-path-to-the-dark-side-fear-leads-to-anger-anger-leads-to-hate-hate-leads-to-suffering/)

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Crazy Idea 28 - Cut up your credit cards


 Christmas... The time when, along with New Year and the summer, far too many of us borrow to buy what we don’t need and can’t really afford.

If we have to use our credit cards, for many of us, the question should be asked – do I really need this?

If you’re placing a deposit on a holiday in the sun then your initial answer may well be: If I didn’t need this then I wouldn’t have paid!

Yet you didn’t pay, you borrowed. You promised to pay in the future. With interest.

It’s not just our government that has a debt problem. We, the people of Broken Britain, have borrowed too much for too long. We’ve bought into the marketers dream world that we deserve new every year, the latest model, the plushest sofa.

Why repair when you can replace?

Why save when you can get interest free credit that grows and grows until suddenly you are paying far more each month than you can really afford. But did you really think you weren’t paying interest? They are taking their fee from you one way or the other.

And then there are the kids...

I’m no better than anyone else. I’ve allowed myself to be bullied by peer pressure, by the message that goes out from the high priests of consumerism that each and every one of us must ensure our children have the perfect Christmas.

But would it really damage them, or us, if we went without? Are we so distrustful of our children and spouses and partners and friends that we believe they would not understand when we can’t afford to keep up the act?

What lesson are we teaching? That the ostrich is the creature to aspire to? Burying our heads in a quicksand of debt.

Last year my wife and I admitted that we were not in control of our money. We’d become lazy. Our incomes had increased and so had our spending yet we hadn’t taken stock to see whether our income was still greater than our expenses.

When we looked at our spending I was ashamed. Our income had gone up but we had frittered that increase away. Our savings had not increased in line. Our debts were far higher than we liked.

My wife went on a CAP Money course and we started to follow the advice they gave out. (CI028A)
 
It was tough going. We set up our budget. Managed to balance it only by cutting out all the non essentials.  We even managed to fit in savings goals. For several months we stuck rigidly to the plan. No unplanned luxuries. Nothing that wasn’t on the budget.

CAP recommend documenting all income and spending. Breaking that down into weekly and monthly and annual amounts as required. CAP advise setting savings goals and if you've been on the course, they provide a handy website where you can enter all your income lines and expense lines and see each week or month whether you are in the red or the black.

And it all helped. Our finances started to turn around. Each week we spent an evening going over our spending and updating the budget as necessary. We allocated a strict amount to spend each week on groceries and petrol and clothes. We also managed to carve out some money to spend on us as a family. Trips to the cinema, ice-creams, cake... At £20 a week between five of us it didn’t go far and we’d avoid spending money some weeks to enable us to afford some of the more expensive family treats.

We didn’t cut up our credit cards but we did stop using them unless we had transferred money to a savings account to pay off the bill.

Following the CAP plan helped us turn our own personal economy around. Can you imagine the effect on Britain if we all took control back of our spending?

It's never a favourite topic of conversation but there are too many of us worried about money, worried about our debts.

Check out this headline from The Telegraph in May 2014: "Household debt is Britain’s hidden timebomb" (CI028B)

In August 2014, This Is Money wrote: "household debt more than quadruples since 1990... by 314% to £1,437bn" (CI028C)

A couple of months later and The Money Charity are writing: "People in the UK owed £1.459 trillion at the end of September 2014. This is up from £1.430 trillion at the end of September 2013 – an extra £572 per UK adult." (CI028D)

Our personal debt as a country equals our National Debt. If we want to fix the economy we need to start with our own debt problems. The CAP Money course is a great place to start.


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:

(CI028A; CAP Money; https://www.capmoney.org/)

(CI028B; The Telegraph; http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/10817959/Household-debt-is-Britains-hidden-timebomb.html)

(CI028C; This Is Money; http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-2724894/Families-red-pose-threat-UK-recovery-household-debt-quadruples-1990.html)

(CI028D; The Money Charity; http://themoneycharity.org.uk/money-statistics/)

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Crazy Idea 27 - Stop MPs having more than one job!

It's going to be tough to enable full employment if our public servants keep snapping up jobs the rest of us could apply for.

According to the Mirror online on 1st December 2014, "Ex-Health Secretary Stephen Dorrell started his job with professional services giant KPMG yesterday, six months after quitting as chairman of the Commons Health Select Committee." (CI027A)

It's not yet public knowledge how much he is being paid, though as an MP his basic salary is £67,060 (from 1 April 2014). (CI027B)

Remember that minimum wage is currently £6.50. Assuming a 37.5 hour working week, we could employ five people to do the job of Stephen Dorrell as an MP and still have several thousand pounds left over to help pay their bus fare into work... (CI027C)

Should MPs have more than one job? If all else was equal I wouldn't have a problem with it, but since MPs as a minimum get paid more than five times those on minimum wage (and the top earning MPs get far more than that!); get expenses refunded that most of us have to pay out of our own salaries; are guaranteed a job for the term of parliament; and get guaranteed a healthy pension, I see no reason why an MP can justify taking time away from their constituents and parliamentary work to earn a second fortune.

And that doesn't even touch on the huge conflict of interest that occurs when an MP, a person of enormous influence over legislation and government spending, signs a contract with a private company.

38 Degrees currently have a petition out to stop the conflict of interest. (CI027D)


With 177,390 signatures at time of writing, a lot of us feel strongly that MPs should only work for us while they are being paid by us.

If you agree with this notion and/or with the crazy idea that MPs should only have one job so there are more jobs for the rest of us then why not sign the 38 Degree petition here.

Full employment is possible. There is enough money to make it happen, but if we want to fix the economy we have to change the imbalance that exists. Is it a crazy idea that MPs should only be allowed one job?


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:
(CI027A; Daily Mirror Online; http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/tory-mp-reported-sleaze-watchdog-4730029)

(CI027B; Parliament; http://www.parliament.uk/about/mps-and-lords/members/pay-mps/)

(CI027C; GOV.UK; https://www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates)

(CI027D; 28 Degrees; https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/david-cameron-force-stephen-dorrell-mp-to-pick-a-job-now)

Monday, 15 December 2014

Crazy Idea 26 - Employee people to carve out mountains

 
There is a mountain in Norway that has been hollowed out. Unusable, hidden, worthless rock has been replaced by a sports facility with no rival. Gjøvik Olympic Cavern Hall (Norwegian: Gjøvik Olympiske Fjellhall) (CI026A)

Boasting an ice hockey rink and a 25 metre swimming pool, with capacity for 5,500 spectators, the facility is also used for concerts and other public events. Wikipedia lists Gjøvik as “the world's largest cavern hall for public use.” (CI026B)

Norway and Scotland share a similar topography. Long mountain ranges that are of little use other than providing climbing and walking challenges along with an environment for wild animals. Wildlife and the ability to climb and walk are worth preserving, but imagine if we could follow Norway’s example and build into our own mountains... If we could create usable spaces for communities out of dead stone...

There are myths and conspiracies about American tunnelling into mountains and straight underground. Stories of huge caverns embedded into their mountain ranges where an elite could survive a nuclear holocaust...

...DEEP UNDERGROUND MILITARY BASES IN AMERICA (CI026C)

...Leak says Denver the Secret, underground US Capitol (CI026D)

...Right Beneath Your Feet: The Hidden Reality of Deep Underground Military Bases (CI026E)

Some facilities will exist, whether on the scale the stories imagine we may never know, but the fact is that humans have been carving out homes in the rock for thousands of years and are still living in caves and underground homes today:

Spain: 'Excuse to throw us out': Spanish cave dwellers say authorities' actions 'unlawful' (CI026F)

Malta: The Amazing Cave People of Malta (CI026G)

Hebron: Cave Dwellers (Scroll to the right!) (CI026H)

China: More than 30 million people in China live underground in caves (CI026I)

Andalucia: Cave Houses in Andalucia (CI026J)

We could site factories in these caverns; underground gardens; use them as storage facilities; schools; hospitals; or our own sports and entertainment venues.

How many people could we employ to carve out these mountains? How much imagination do you have?

We would need machines and people to design and then build those machines. We would need factories which would require office staff and managers and cooks and cleaners.

Explosives would be needed as would steel and concrete and wood. Embarking on such a grand scheme would cause ripples throughout the economy.

Would it be a crazy idea to fix the economy by employing people to carve out mountains? Let me know...


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:
(CI026A; Gjøvik Olympiske Fjellhall; http://www.fjellhallen.no/)

(CI026B; Wikipedia; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gj%C3%B8vik_Olympic_Cavern_Hall)

(CI026C; NorthStar Report; http://nstarzone.com/CODERED.html)

(CI026D; Whiteout Press; http://www.whiteoutpress.com/articles/2014/q3/leak-says-denver-secret-underground-us-capitol/)

(CI026E; Collective Evolution; http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/11/07/right-beneath-your-feet-the-hidden-reality-of-deep-underground-military-bases/)
 
(CI026F; RT; http://rt.com/news/cave-dwellers-granada-protests-245/)

(CI026G; Answers in Genesis; https://answersingenesis.org/human-evolution/cavemen/the-amazing-cave-people-of-malta/)

(CI026H; Ruben Salvadori; http://www.rubensalvadori.com/index.php/earlier-works/cave-dwellers/)

(CI026I; Daily News; http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/30-million-people-china-live-underground-caves-article-1.1046872)

(CI026J; andalucia.com; http://www.andalucia.com/accommodation/cavehouses.htm)

Friday, 12 December 2014

Crazy Idea 25 - Plant oaks for England...

...and apple trees for Scotland, pear trees for Wales and cherry trees for Northern Ireland.


My thirteenth goal is to own an orchard. Orchards fascinate me, the idea of owning trees that produce edible fruit. (CI025A)

Most of you will have heard the story of Johnny Appleseed. A man who roamed America planting appleseeds wherever he went so that no-one would ever have to go hungry. It is an inspiring story even if it's not entirely accurate. (CI025B)

Allegedly Johnny (Real name John Chapman) was a shrewd business man who knew that planting an orchard was a way to demonstrate ownership of land. He planted apple seeds, not so people could eat the fruit but apparently so the apples could be made into cider and applejack. However, he did roam widely and planted in select locations which he guarded through simple fences. Then he returned to the planting sites to tend the growing trees and even to sell the trees and land on. (CI025C)

By the time of his death he is said to have owned over 1,200 acres of valuable land. Not bad for someone who traded in appleseeds.

John Chapman had a long term vision that enabled him to prosper. Another hero of mine is Admiral Lord Collingwood, a man who is said to have encouraged everyone to plant acorns for England. (CI025D)

Collingwood, a man whose story was usurped by Nelson yet without whom, it is likely England would have lost the battle of Trafalgar. (CI025E)

The Guardian had this to say about Collingwood back in 1910 on the anniversary of his death: "It was Collingwood, as everyone knows, who advised country gentlemen never to walk through their fields without a pocketful of acorns to drop in the hedge sides; if they did not, the time was not far distant when to keep our navy we should have to depend entirely upon captures from the enemy."

To have had such vision, to encourage the current generation to plant a seed that would take a century to mature so that ones grandchildren could benefit...

We need that sort of vision again. The vision to plant now so our children and grand children and great grand children will benefit.

I've lived in Scotland for most of my life and have never understood why we allow so many acres to remain barren of trees. I've been told that Scotland was once covered in forest. That hundreds of thousands of hectares of oak was torn down. If trees once grew on our land, why can't we plant them again?

There are many thousands of small plots of land in the UK where one or more fruit trees could be planted. Many areas where a wider variety of trees could be nurtured. Oak is just one of many hard wood trees that could benefit our descendants. Scottish Ash, Beech, Birch, Elm, Hornbeam, Larch, Lime, Sycamore, and Yew could also be grown more widely, each with their own unique properties. (CI025F)

At the beginning of the month I proposed we could create full employment as a crazy idea to fix the economy. We could employ thousands of people to plant orchards throughout the country. John Chapman may not have planted fruit trees for the poor but we could! (CI025G)


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:
(CI025A; My 100 Goals; http://my100goals.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-original-100-goals.html)

(CI025B; Best Apples; http://www.bestapples.com/kids/teachers/johnny.shtml)

(CI025C; Jonathan Chapman. [Internet]. 2014. The Biography.com website. Available from: http://www.biography.com/people/johnny-appleseed-38103 [Accessed 10 Dec 2014].)

(CI025D; frankgillings.com; http://www.tynemouth.frankgillings.com/lordc.htm)

(CI025E; The Guardian; http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2010/mar/01/collingwood-trafalgar-hero)

(CI025F; Scottish Wood; http://www.scottishwood.co.uk/hardwoods.htm)

(CI025G; My 100 Goals; http://my100goals.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/crazy-idea-16-create-full-employment.html)

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Crazy Idea 24 - Install a vertical wind turbine in everyone’s garden

 
Wind turbines are the marmite of renewable energy. Love them or hate them, they are a unique opportunity. Until the moon finally disappears from our orbit we’ll always have the potential to exploit wind power. (CI024A)

I’m not sure why some people hate wind turbines. I look at the same view of a wind farm and the massive white towers add to the scene, not detract from it. However, I couldn’t fit one of those monsters in my own garden.

These horizontal turbines do need to be quite high up. I wouldn’t want to have to dodge one of those spinning blades. But horizontal turbines – basically a reverse desk fan – are not the only sort of wind turbine you can get.

I first saw a vertical wind turbine at Michael and Dot’s Zero Carbon House in Unst, Shetland. Only a foot high, sitting on top of a plinth at about waist height, it was one of the simplest, friendly designs I’ve seen. Once you’ve seen one, you’ll wonder why we don’t have one in every garden or attached to every house. (CI024B)

Wind turbines are currently expensive, but in part that is down to their size – companies produce larger turbines as big is believed to provide a better return on investment. We’ve been sold a story that wind turbines have to be big and need a lot of space, but anyone who’s watched the air vent spinning around on top of a white van will know you don’t need a lot of space to capture wind power.

Wind turbines are also expensive as this is a new technology with constant redesign resulting in inefficiency in manufacturing. If we could agree a standard, enforce it and manufacture in bulk, the cost of turbines could be reduced.

At present, vertical wind turbines are thought to be less efficient. In part because when part of the blade is being pushed by the wind, another part of the blade is being slowed by the wind.

However, Michael and Dot were trialling a design that overcame this problem by encasing the blades so that the wind could only ever push the blade one way.

Small scale turbines like this have a massive advantage over their larger counterparts: ease of access for maintenance and repair. If you don’t need a ladder or a climbing harness to access the mechanism you enter the realm of enabling DIY home maintenance.

Small wind turbines may only give up to 200 watts output but manufacture them cheaply enough, drive down the cost of installing and maintaining them and suddenly you can ramp up your return on investment to the point where a family could afford to buy several.

We need radical ideas to fix our economy. We need crazy ideas. We need a public that is willing to unite to change the situation. A government that is determined to make long term decisions that will benefit our society for decades to come.

We could commit to installing a vertical wind turbine in every garden in the country. According to the ONS there are 26,442,096 homes in the UK – as of the 2011 census. (CI024C)

According to research by HSBC, 72% of UK households have a garden. (CI024D)

That is roughly 19 million homes with the potential to site a vertical wind turbine.

The reality will be that many of these gardens will be in cities and towns or in areas where there is not much wind but even so, there is scope for many millions of locations across the country where a renewable power source could be installed. How many jobs could we create if we committed to installing just one turbine in every garden and maintaining them for the next decade?

And if you think this is a crazy idea, check out this instructables: http://www.instructables.com/id/55-Gallon-Drum-Turbine/ (CI024E)

Next time someone tells you wind turbines cost thousands of pounds to build, point them in this direction!






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:
(CI024A; Universe Today;http://www.universetoday.com/112450/why-is-the-moon-leaving-us/)

(CI024B; Zero Carbon House;http://www.zerocarbonhouse.com/Home.aspx)

(CI024Cl; ONS; http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/census/2011-census/population-estimates-by-single-year-of-age-and-sex-for-local-authorities-in-the-united-kingdom/rft-hh01uk.xls)

(CI024D; HSBC; http://www.newsroom.hsbc.co.uk/press/release/77billion_cost_of_maintaining)

(CI024E; Instructables; http://www.instructables.com/id/55-Gallon-Drum-Turbine/)

(CI024F; YouTube; //www.youtube.com/embed/9UPe6A_UVPc?rel=0)

(CI024G; YouTube; //www.youtube.com/embed/24LSnATIZhw?rel=0)

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Crazy Idea 23 - Employ people to survey the land



 
Six years after stumbling across Andy Wightman’s website – www.whoownsscotland.org.uk – the source of inspiration for The Great Scottish Land Grab, I finally had to opportunity to listen to and meet the man last week. (CI023A)

Andy Wightman was speaking at a Common Weal event (CI023B) in the Area C Cafe House in Leith, Edinburgh (CI023C) on his Mastermind topic of Land Reform. (Highly recommend the food at Area C but don’t trust Google Maps to navigate you there - I ended up in the wrong place!)

Among many fascinating facts Andy related that evening was that 100 years ago we knew who owned every plot of land in Britain, a situation that seems almost unimaginable now with the current opaque nature of land ownership.

We only knew who owned all the land in Britain because Lloyd George, the then chancellor of the exchequer, commissioned the 1910 Land Valuation Survey. The intention: “evaluate what tax people owed the government for the rise in value of their land.” (CI023D)

The BBC’s history of Lloyd George notes that his 1909 budget was referred to as: “the 'people's budget' since it provided for social insurance that was to be partly financed by land and income taxes.” (CI023E)

It seems incredible now that Lloyd George then was trying to bring about greater equality in the UK by introducing a progressive tax on land ownership. Mildly depressing, if not unexpected, that he met with opposition from wealthy land owners and the tax was repealed “by the 1920 Finance Act.” (CI023F)

Some of the 1910 Land Valuation Survey has been lost due to the numerous boundary changes that have taken place since. Some lost as a result of bombing during the second world war. Some however is available for viewing online! (CI023G)

It’s not surprising that if the government puts it’s determination behind such a project it can be achieved. However, successive governments have failed their people by allowing the land ownership records to become out of date.

Andy Wightman determined years ago that he would do something to rectify the situation of opaque land ownership and set up his website www.whoownsscotland.org.uk to act as a searchable repository of land ownership in Scotland. At the time of writing this post he has documented 1,947 landholdings covering 9,826,891 acres across Scotland - just over half Scotland's land area!

If one man can achieve this then imagine what we could do with a million people!

Who owns our land is important and if our ancestors could fully document every holding one hundred years ago, long before the first computer or GPS then surely we are more than capable of doing the same today.

I’ve proposed we can implement full employment in the UK to fix the economy. Would it be a crazy idea to employ people to produce a Twenty First Century Domesday book, documenting the current state of our land?


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:
(CI023A; Who Owns Scotland; www.whoownsscotland.org.uk)

(CI023B; Common Weal; http://www.allofusfirst.org/)

(CI023C; Area C Cafe House; https://www.facebook.com/AreaCCoffeehouse)

(CI023D; herefordshire.gov.uk; https://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/media/1272885/Information_Sheet_Finance_Act_1910.pdf)

(CI023E; BBC; http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/george_david_lloyd.shtml)

(CI023F; National Archives; http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/research-guides/valuation-office-records.htm)

(CI023G; Ancestry; http://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/2010/03/25/1910-land-valuation-survey-now-available-for-keying-in-awap/)

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Crazy Idea 22 - Re-establish the canal network to ship goods

If we fail to learn the lessons of history then we will be destined to repeat mistakes.

For any country to have a large population that is unable to work and/or trapped in poverty is a danger to the stability of that country. Unemployment and poverty has been the cause of many civil wars and revolutions.

So, with two million unemployed in the UK and nine million economically inactive (26% of the working age population!) and my crazy idea of full employment on the table, we need some radically crazy ideas for jobs all these people could do. Over the next few days I’m going to suggest some of my own crazy ideas...

Would it be a crazy idea to fully restore the canal and waterway networks to enable goods to be shipped?

The economy of the UK is substantially different from the 17th and 18th Centuries when in Britain we cut most of our canals. We no longer need or want coal or timber to be provided to the same extent. But could there still be large quantities of goods shipped round the UK that could be sent by canal?

According to the Inland Waterways Association (IWA), “Today, there are over 4,000 miles of navigable waterways [in the UK].” (CI022A)

Since 1946, (IWA) has been advocating the conservation, use, maintenance, restoration and development of all inland waterways for public benefit.

Thousands of people were employed to cut the canals. Would it be crazy to employ tens of thousands to maintain and restore these valuable waterways?


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:
(CI022A; IWA; https://www.waterways.org.uk/waterways/history/history_)

Monday, 8 December 2014

Crazy Idea 21 - Bring back conscription

No, I’m not proposing we start a war or send our unemployed marching into the Middle East. I am however wondering if forced conscription would resolve some issues with some of my other crazy ideas.

Love them or hate them (I think our armed forces are fantastic), the military have consistently shown they can transform people.

Earlier I proposed the crazy idea that establishing full employment would help fix the economy. There are currently two million claiming Job Seekers Allowance in the UK and nine million people economically inactive. That’s potentially a lot of jobs to create!

Some of those people are currently unemployable.

Conscription after the last World War enabled people to learn discipline; learn trades and skills; receive a wage; and earn respect.

There seems to be a fair few people out there who would benefit from that sort of conscription.

People who sign up to the armed forces still benefit from learning discipline and trades and skills. It is possible to have your education paid for through the military, to become a professional in many different fields. The military have an infrastructure suited to taking large numbers of people and training them. What if we could transform that infrastructure and use it to mobilise a workforce millions of people strong?

Imagine how our economy could be transformed by radically increasing the number of skilled and trained people while at the same time reducing the number of unemployable individuals.

Swords into ploughshares anyone?

I would apply this radically. If the government has offered someone a job and they’re unwilling to work, conscript them for a month. If after that they were still unwilling to work, try three months, then six months…

Would it cost money? Yes.

Could conscription be a way for some people to escape the trap of poverty and unemployment they currently can’t get out of? I believe so.


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, 5 December 2014

Crazy Idea 20 - Audit the public sector

Last month I proposed Crazy Idea 14 - Audit every company! Why stop there? Why shouldn’t we audit the public sector?

We currently have two million people unemployed in the UK. Nine million considered economically inactive... (CI020A)

What if these people were unleashed on the public sector? An army of auditors examining inefficiency and waste, publically highlighting problems and seeking solutions.

Would this be of more use to our economy than the Chancellor’s intention that those on benefits “[make] meals for the elderly, [clean] up litter and graffiti or [do] charity work” (CI020B)

I can’t imagine the government being overly enamoured with the idea of we the people holding them to account but so what!

Could we vastly improve the way Government and the Civil Service works if enough people were assigned to the task?


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:
(CI020A; ONS; http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/lms/labour-market-statistics/november-2014/sty-labour-market-statistics.html)

(CI020B; The Independent; http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/george-osbornes-welfare-war-work-for-your-benefits--or-attend-jobcentre-daily-8847851.html)

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Crazy Idea 19 - We need a National Debate!

If we are to fix the economy we need to tackle it together. The economy affects every single one of us, whether we are wealthy or poor.

A country with a failing economy is a place where crime will rise, where social unrest will increase, where businesses will be more likely to fail.

Since the Conservative/Liberal Coalition took power in the UK in 2010 they have dictated to us how they will fix the economy. Their solution: Austerity.

The reality? The Coalition has mostly continued the previous Labour government’s spending plans, doubling National Debt while cutting spending on those who need it the most.

Did they ask you what you want them to spend money on? Did they ask you what they should cut?

They certainly didn’t ask me.

This blog series is my attempt to answer the question the Coalition should have asked each one of us: how should we fix the economy?

My latest crazy idea? Hold a National Debate on how to fix the economy. I’ll return to this crazy idea over the coming weeks.

I proposed one way of holding a national debate in my novel: The Great Scottish Land Grab – Cafe Politics.

The idea there was to hold local discussions where small groups of people could propose suggestions and debate the pros and cons and ultimately vote on whether to implement the suggestions.

As an experiment I also bought the domain: http://cafepolitics.net/ I’ve set up a discussion forum there and will be posting my ideas for Fixing the Economy. Could this be a forum for an online National Debate? Join the forum and have your say.



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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Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Crazy Idea 18 - Require anyone who receives benefits to work

If you want inspiration for crazy ideas you don’t have to look any further than the government. Whatever wacky, way-out-there plan you can dream up, the government can always top it and add a healthy price tag on top.

I can’t remember when I first jotted down the crazy idea to require anyone who receives benefits to work but it was surreal to read in the papers that the government were now proposing that very crazy idea.

I’m more passionate about some of my crazy ideas than others. This is very much on the low end of the scale. If Living Wages for all is 10, full employment on minimum wage is 9, then requiring those who receive benefits to work is somewhere around a 3.

As an interim idea, I would require anyone in receipt of benefits to carry out a number of hours community service each week. This would have to be a sufficient number of hours to repay society for the benefits received but not so much they are not able to look for paid employment.

It is likely that several attempts may need to be made to work out the optimal hours.

Remember that Minimum wage for those aged 21 and above is currently £6.50. (CI018A)

Job Seekers Allowance for 25 and over is currently £72.40. Divide JSA by minimum wage and you get just over eleven hours. (CI018B)

Would it be unreasonable to ask anyone on receipt of JSA to work eleven hours a week community service?

Some would say it is unreasonable! Mainly because those of us who have worked have paid National Insurance contributions. We paid NI with the promise the state would provide for us if we were unfortunate enough to be out of work.

Fair enough, that is a good argument.

How about people who have never worked? Or have never earned enough to pay NI?

This is where the arguments become much more difficult. Yes, some people are lazy and some people commit benefit fraud. But I would argue that most people would rather work and that the majority of those who’ve not been able to work, or have never paid NI due to low wages, are not responsible for a society that forces wages down as low as they’ll go and outsources work to other countries.

However, regardless of whether previous governments promised to support those out of work or not, the NI ponzi scheme is falling apart.

Remember that Broken Britain has a stated National Debt of over £1.4 Trillion (CI018C); unstated debts which at least double that (CI018D); has been unable to balance the budget since 2001 (CI018E) and is paying just under £50 Billion in interest every year. (CI018F)

I’ve suspected since I was a teenager that I wouldn’t get a pension. I’m now 42 and the situation has got worse.

We as a society need to accept that the situation has changed and unless we make some radical changes, our country is heading for a major crisis where the government will be unable to afford any welfare payments.

It took a second world war for the UK to introduce radical universal changes. Surely we don’t have to experience that sort of trauma to deal with the problems we face now.

How we go about fixing the economy is vitally important.

You may have read these but allow me to draw your attention to the following online articles:

From The Independent, 30 September 2013, George Osborne's welfare war: Work for your benefits - or attend jobcentre daily (CI018G)

Osborne is quoted saying: “No something for nothing anymore. People are going to have to do things to get their dole...”

So, the contract the people had with the government has been broken... By the government. What was the contract? We pay NI and if we are out of work, the government pays our dole – something for something.

It begs the question, why should any of us pay NI any more?

What does Osborne propose?

“Thirty hours a week for six months of community work such as making meals for the elderly, cleaning up litter and graffiti or charity work, plus 10 hours of "job search activity"”

I don’t have a problem with the work being proposed, I do have a problem with the amount of time he wants. The last time I was out of work I spent over thirty hours each week looking for a new job. How is anyone supposed to search for a new job when their time is so limited? Factor in that the community work they’ll be doing will be between tiring and exhausting and this seems like another cruelty from a Chancellor completely out of touch with the working lives of ordinary people.

“Daily attendance at a job centre to search for work instead of a brief interview once a fortnight.” This just annoys me. Have you ever tried using the computer system at a Job Centre to look for work? It is one of the most appalling designs I’ve ever seen. I refused to use it in the end. I could search for and find twenty times more relevant jobs through a Google search than I could using their in house system.

Together, these points makes me think the government actually wants to trap people on benefits. Cheap slave labour who are denied time to find a better job, denied the resources to get a better job...

This is NOT the way to unite a nation to fix the economy!

Here’s another perspective from The Telegraph: Unemployed to do unpaid work or lose benefits. (CI018H)

“The unemployed will have to do unpaid full time work or lose their benefits, in a bid to reduce the amount spent on the jobless.” What’s the problem with this concept? That forcing people to do unpaid full time work will reduce the amount spent on them... It will not, it just means the government gets some cheap labour.

A final perspective from The Express: End of Benefits Britain: Now jobless must ‘work to get dole’, says George Osborne (CI018I)

The Express online states George Osborne “will unveil a £300 million Help To Work scheme in a bid to make the long-term ­unemployed do something for their money.” Those who refuse to take part in the scheme will “lose up to a quarter of their benefits.”

This scheme only aims to help 200,000. Those who are considered long term unemployed.

They will need to “do full-time community work for 30 hours a week for six months or they can agree to attend a job centre, where they must show they spend at least 10 hours a week looking for work.”

I’m all for getting the unemployed into work but making them work for a third of the minimum wage is not the way to end unemployment!

George Osborne has failed to show how 200,000 new jobs will be created to take the long term unemployed off benefit. Instead, his crazy idea reeks of cruelty, forcing those with the least chance of getting a job to work as effective slave labour.

However, to an extent I agree with the government that the current contract between the people and government needs radical change. We don't need the government cruelly imposing change or dictating to us though, we need universal agreement and that will only come about through a national debate.

As I've previously posted, the Government can and should create jobs at minimum wage. Jobs that will serve a purpose, jobs that will be meaningful. This will transform life for millions and transform our economy.

Strangely enough I’ve a few crazy ideas for jobs that could be created at minimum wage which would benefit everyone in society. I would love to hear your 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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References:
(CI018A; GOV.UK; https://www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates)

(CI018B; GOV.UK; https://www.gov.uk/jobseekers-allowance/what-youll-get)

(CI018C; ONS; http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/psa/public-sector-finances/august-2014/stb---august-2014.html)

(CI018D; My 100 Goals; http://my100goals.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/crazy-idea-1-be-honest-about-amount-of.html)

(CI018E; ONS; http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/psa/public-sector-finances/september-2014/rft---public-sector-finances-tables-1---10.xls)

(CI018F; Parliament; http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/sn05745.pdf)

(CI018G; The Independent; http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/george-osbornes-welfare-war-work-for-your-benefits--or-attend-jobcentre-daily-8847851.html)

 (CI018H; The Telegraph; http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/conservative/10338385/Unemployed-to-do-unpaid-work-or-lose-benefits.html)

(CI018I; Express; http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/433248/End-of-Benefits-Britain-Now-jobless-must-work-to-get-dole-says-George-Osborne)

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Crazy Idea 17 - Legislate to bring about a Living Wage for all

Following on from creating full employment and regardless of the counter intuitive increase in spending that would result, I propose the Government needs to set out a clear plan of how the whole country can benefit from living wages.

I first came across the idea of a Living Wage through the Joseph Rowntree Foundation: An organisation that continues the ideals of the Rowntree family, who worked hard to ensure that every worker in their factories benefitted from the profits that were made. (CI017A)

I lived in York for a decade and didn’t have to walk far to find communities that had been established for the workers in the factories. York may have been a chocolate city but workers had homes built of brick.

It’s no surprise that JRF continues to campaign for workers rights.

Recently they released a new report: Poverty and the cost of living (CI017B)

Among many excellent points this report makes, “Low-income individuals are less likely to be ‘active consumers’ switching suppliers and shopping around, partly due to a lack of access to ‘enabling goods’ that give consumers advantages, e.g. a bank account or internet access.” The fact is that those on low incomes are doubly disadvantaged.

If you’re reading this, then chances are you’re better off than a significant portion of the population.

A living wage is what it sounds like: a wage you can live on. I said in my last post that I couldn’t live on the minimum wage.

Well, perhaps I could. If I sold my children, divorced my wife and slept on someone else's sofa.

“The modern UK Living Wage Campaign was launched by members of London Citizens in 2001. The founders were parents in the East End of London, who wanted to remain in work, but found that despite working two or more minimum wage jobs they were struggling to make ends meet and were left with no time for family and community life.” (CI017C)

If you’re earning more than minimum wage, can you imagine what it would be like never having money?

Unfortunately, there are too many people in Britain who don’t even get minimum wage...

The Living Wage is based in part on the JRF Minimum Income Standard. (CI017D)

Patrick Butler, writing in The Guardian July 2014 has this to say about MIS: “...a basic, no-frills human existence... its frugality is striking. It is an austere menu by modern western middle-class standards... little in the way of fripperies...” (CI017E)

The Living Wage is not easy to live on but it is possible to have a good live. A life worth living...

Unemployment is only part of the problem the poorest in society face. The welfare system, despite of or because of its good intentions has trapped people on benefits. We hear again and again that some people just cannot afford to work.

In this I wholeheartedly agree with David Cameron and George Osborne. A welfare system that discourages people seeking work is of no use to society.

But unlike Cameron and Osborne I insist that unless jobs exist that pay living wages, we will be unable to do away with the welfare system.

We as a society need a clear plan to bring all wages and salaries to a point where one person working can earn enough to support a small family. Why one person? I believe that babies and young children need the presence of a parent.

I do not believe that society should provide enough that those families would be living in luxury. But there are minimum needs as JRF’s Minimum Income Standard make clear.

Increasing all wages to the point where everyone earns enough to live on will not fix the economy but it may help fix society. And maybe if we could address extreme poverty, we could also find the will to fix the economy.

Could we as a society agree a five year plan to enable all who want work to earn a Living Wage? 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:
(CI017A; JRF; http://www.jrf.org.uk)

(CI017B; JRF; http://www.jrf.org.uk/publications/cost-of-living-poverty)

(CI017C; Living Wage Foundation; http://www.livingwage.org.uk/history)

(CI017D; JRF; http://www.jrf.org.uk/publications/minimum-income-standard-2014)

(CI017E; The Guardian; http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jul/01/minimum-income-standard-joseph-rowntree-foundation)

Monday, 1 December 2014

Crazy Idea 16 - Create full employment


Once I started looking into the UK Budget, I started playing around with the numbers and found an interesting fact: full employment in the UK is possible.

According to the ONS, from July to September 2014, unemployment fell to 1.96 million. (CI016A)

(I can’t just state that government statistic without pointing out that according to The Guardian: “Economists said the fall in unemployment masked other signs that the jobs market was weakening. The fall in unemployment was partly explained by the rise in the number of economically inactive people”) (CI016B)

Anyway... Minimum wage for those aged 21 and above is currently £6.50. (CI016C)

If you multiply the number of people currently unemployed by what it would cost to employ someone full time on the minimum wage...

A smidge under £25 Billion! Our Government could eradicate unemployment for less than half of what they currently pay in annual interest on our National Debt.

Could you survive on minimum wage? I couldn’t. I kept on playing with the numbers.

It is a fact that there are more people who want to work than those registered as unemployed. These people are lumped in with those the government calls “economically inactive,” nine million of them and counting... Whether these people have been sanctioned or have just given up or they actually do have the means to support themselves will vary from person to person.

We currently pay interest on our National Debt of just under £50 Billion a year. (CI016F)

If we were not paying interest on the National Debt, the Government could create almost 4 Million new jobs at minimum wage! This would create a scenario where a vast segment of the population who want to work but cannot would be able to contribute to society.

When you divide £50 Billion by 2 Million you get £20,000. That’s more than someone being paid the London living wage would receive... (CI016D)

This leads me onto the next crazy idea but before I get there…

Imagine if we had full employment. Imagine what some of the consequences of that might be...
  • An immediate reduction in the welfare bill.
  • A massive workforce that could be mobilised to transform our country.
  • Young people with no current hope could be trained in useful skills, given experience and training.
  • Communities that are currently blighted by those who hang around with nothing to do but cause trouble would see a reduction in the problem.
The potential to utterly transform and improve the lives of millions exists in this idea. Could the Government create 2 Million or more jobs you ask? Why not? All that prevents us is lack of imagination or willpower.

If you’re interested, the ONS have provided a nice infographic on the recent state of employment which I've copied below. (CI016E)
 
There will be another crazy idea to fix the economy tomorrow...



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:
(CI016A; ONS; http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/lms/labour-market-statistics/november-2014/sty-labour-market-statistics.html)

(CI016B; The Guardian; http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/oct/15/uk-unemployment-falls-6-percent-lowest-lehman-brothers)

(CI016C; GOV.UK; https://www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates)

(CI016D; Living Wage Foundation; http://www.livingwage.org.uk/calculation)

(CI016E; ONS; http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/lms/labour-market-statistics/november-2014/sty-labour-market-statistics.html)

(CI016F; Parliament; http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/sn05745.pdf)