Nobel Peace Prize for Snowden?

It is comforting to see that two members of the Norwegian Parliament have nominated Edward Snowden for the Nobel peace prize. No doubt that nomination will upset the United States of America and it is worth bearing in mind that Mr Snowden did bring into the open the fact that the United States of America was carrying out surveillance on its people and on other people all over the world. Continue reading

The Death of Syria

130,000 Syrians have died in the present civil war in Syria. Over 1 million people have been forced to leave their homes and businesses and are now refugees in neighbouring countries. I do not think that anyone has counted the numbers of those maimed and injured in the conflict. Continue reading

In the Rain

On my way to work this morning I saw an old man on a bicycle with a guitar case on his back. What is an old man? When I was in my 20s I thought people in their 40s were incredibly old. Today no one seems old; everyone seems young. So I could not guess the age of the old man on the bicycle and anyway it was raining very hard and his food was pulled over his face and the guitar case was shiny wet as the man cycled up a hill in the rain. Continue reading

Why?

It comes as no surprise that the Royal Bank of Scotland has had to set aside the £3.1 billion in order to make provision for the claims against it in relation to what really amounts to its fraudulent behaviour towards its customers. Continue reading

The Road to Damascus

Journalists and reporters have used up all their adjectives when describing the conflict in Syria. There is so much death and so much destruction. I do not think that you need to use all your adjectives up to describe what is going on in Syria today. You simply need to count the numbers of the dead and the numbers of the main. Those numbers will describe the horror far more accurately than any collection of adjectives. Continue reading

All Will be Well, or Will it?

I was wondering about the phrase “all will be well”. It is the simple reassurance that is the theme of an idea of a priest, Julian of Norwich, more than half a millennium ago. This phrase is repeated in a poem often read at funeral services. That poem was written by another priest, and there are many variations on the comfort that the phrase tries to bring. “All will be well” appears in many hymns and songs and they all variations on the theme.

I do not take comfort in that optimism. The most comforting thoughts of death have been promulgated by writers who were deeply flawed. Dylan Thomas told us not to go gently into that good night. William Cory Johnson wrote of bitter news and bitter tears. Both men had their flaws that left, when writing of death, a hope that people die but what they write is not taken by death even though their words may not have forked lightning.

I do not know if all will be well; I hope that it will be put on the record of humanity so far, my hope is drowned by doubts.

When it comes to the environment humanity has always implemented imperfect solutions.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, has said that fracking will boost the United Kingdom’s economy. He thinks that the gas discovered will prove a cheap form of energy which will encourage businesses that need to use large amounts of energy to establish themselves or move to the United Kingdom. Continue reading

Scottish Independence – What If..

I was listening to some Scottish people debate whether Scotland should become an independent nation. It struck me that the politicians in the debate mostly tried to reduce the argument into one of whether Scotland would be economically better off or worse off as an independent nation. The people who are not politicians were not buying into what the politicians were selling. Good for them.

 

I cannot see that the present proposals for an independent Scotland would make Scotland genuinely independent. I do not think a nation can be truly independent unless it controls its whole economic policy. The proposals for independence would enable Scotland to control most of its economic policy, but would tie Scotland to the most important and effective economic policy of the rest of the United Kingdom because Scotland would still use as its sole currency the pounds sterling.

 

For decades now monetary policy by control of interest rates has been the most effective lever of economic policy of governments everywhere. We have seen that the key problem with the euro is that different nations cannot set interest rates at levels that suit them; what suits Germany does not usually suit Greece. With interest rates in Scotland being set in London, as opposed to being set in Edinburgh, an independent Scotland would be dependent upon the rest of the United Kingdom for this major way in which governments can control, or attempts to control, the economy. Continue reading

January in London

It is a rather grey white wet miserable day in London. There is light rain and dark skies. With one week of January left I heard birds singing as I woke this morning, invisible birds singing in the darkness. Continue reading

Energy Companies Campaign for Lower Bills!

The energy companies have started to campaign for lower energy bills. Of course, they have not started a campaign to make themselves charge consumers less for energy. They have started a campaign for the levies for renewable energy and for insulation which are at present added as extras to the energy bills of households to be deleted from energy bills and charged and paid for out of general taxation. This means that although an individual household’s energy bill may be lower after deducting these additional subsidy costs, an individual household’s tax will be higher so there will be no practical purpose or change. The household will end up paying exactly the same amount. Continue reading