Archive for the ‘economics’ Category

Thick Lizzie resigns

October 20, 2022

To a collective sigh of relief from the country, Thick Lizzie has resigned.

The vile people she has appointed should be removed: business sec, foreign sec, NHS sec.

They have done appalling damage to the country.

The country cannot afford the Tories indulging in another leadership contest. Slick Rishi should be asked to form a government.

Pepsi Trump to stand? It is not even the First of April.

If there is to be a leadership election, no reason nominations cannot be in by midnight tonight. Election held over the weekend.

Tory membership should be excluded.

There is a high risk with short notice electronic voting no checks of foreign bad actors and Russian and Chinese hacks of the ballot

Any leadership contender:

-wealth tax

– windfall tax Banks

– cap bankers bonuses

– windfall tax Big Oil

– windfall tax Big Tech

– 5% revenue tax Big Tech

– carbon tax

– increase minimum wage

– triple lock pensions

– increase benefits

– safeguard on fuel costs

– scrap BID Levy

There has to be an Inquiry into the dark money that funded Thick Lizzie.

There has to be an Inquiry into IEA and other far right lobbyists and the source of their funding.

Terminating a BID mid-term

August 25, 2022

Excellent guidance to winding up a BID mid-term.

If a BID Ballot coming up, that is best chance to terminate a BID, put as much effort in as possible to secure a No Vote.

Towns that have managed to kick out their BIDs early include Dartmouth, Hexham, Abingdon and Colwyn.

Yorkshire Coast BID may be on its way out, following a Vote of Confidence by Scarborough Borough Council, and calls for the directors to resign and the BID to be wound up.

Failing that, try to get the BID wound up mid-term.

I would disagree BID boards act in the interest of the locality or local businesses. From what I have seen they squander the money collected to justify their existence, act to feather their own nest, all hidden behind a veil of secrecy and lack of accountability.

The best option, do not let a BID be formed, do not fall for the bullshit, look at the experience of local businesses elsewhere that are being killed by the BID Levy. Once a BID is formed, it is an uphill struggle, though not impossible, to get rid of the BID.

Friday, we see the price cap for domestic fuel users rise to unaffordable levels. For local businesses there is no price cap. Unless action is taken, we are going to see small businesses wiped out of town centres. Already many are failing, unable to afford fuel bills.

The very least that can be done is to wind up BIDs, kill the BID Levy.

Lincoln Central RMT train strike

July 27, 2022

I thought I would join the RMT picket line outside Lincoln Central train station.

There was no RMT picket line. Lincoln Central was closed, no trains.

I guess if station closed, no trains, no need for a picket line, if can deploy resources elsewhere.

But I would argue there is a need to have a presence, to explain their case and counter government propaganda.

Experience Guildford exposes its own failings

June 8, 2022

If the measure of success of a BID is a thriving town centre, then the number of empty retail shops in the centre of Guildford is a measure of the failure of Experience Guildford.

Posting on Instagram, Experience Guildford graphically illustrated its own failings. Note the empty shops in one short street. From my own survey end of last year, there are many more empty shops in this one short street. And it is not atypical. Every street I surveyed, including the High Street, row after row of empty shops.

We have a domino effect. Every shop that closes its doors, less reason to visit Guildford, fewer people will visit, fewer people shopping, eating out, drinking coffee. There are always 10% of businesses that are marginal. Lower footfall, they go under, even less reason to visit Guildford, further pressure on those that remain.

Remember the good old days of the Soviet Union when a leader would be elected with 98% of the vote?

Experience Guildford carried out a survey of local business.

Over 95% find stated that they find our marketing, promotion and events programme (such as Street Festivals, Markets, Seasonal Events and Trails, Healthy Guildford Day) are important to their business.

Really, over 95% happy with the performance of Experience Guildford?

It was not an independent survey, it was carried out by Experience Guildford, thus worthless. The respondents were self-selecting, which again renders the survey worthless.

We do not know what the questions were. It is all too easy to get the result you wish for with carefully crafted questions.

What then is the truth on the ground? From my own random sample, wandering around talking to a range of different local businesses, 100% opposition to Experience Guildford. Not a single business wishes to see them continue.

Of the businesses I have spoken to, I have yet to find any who support Experience Guildford, and there is now talk of refusal to pay the BID Levy. Businesses object to an enforced levy, little more than an extortion racket, for which they see no benefit.

Across the country, and it is growing, a refusal to pay the BID Levy. Enough is enough.

Carmarthen 57 refuseniks refused to pay the BID Levy. Summons issued. Case successfully defended in Court. They won. The Court ruled they do not have to pay. The local council has indicated it will not try to recover the monies not paid. The lawyer who took the case will now on their behalf, file in the High Court for the BID to be wound up.

Markets?

In Guildford there are two regular markets. North Street market, a very popular weekly market every Friday and Saturday, cheese, fruit and vegetables, fish, cakes. A monthly farmers market in the High Street, the first Tuesday of the month, with occasional extra markets, seafood, paella, cheese, coffee, meat, fruit and vegetables, cakes, bread, wine, gin, chutney, jam. An occasional craft market. These markets are run by the local council.

A well run market is an asset to any town , it brings folk into town, everyone benefits. In London successful markets have been established by individuals and volunteers, not bloated parasitical entities. These new markets have revitalised dying town centres.

Experience Guildford are even claiming credit for the Guildford Book Festival. A book festival long before Experience Guildford existed and I am sure will be there long after Experience Guildford has gone.

If local businesses wish to sponsor events in the town, either individual or collectively, that is for them to decide. It does not require an enforced levy.

Unlicenced unregulated private security roam the streets, no consultation, rarely seen. Very camera shy.

One of their roles is to deliver an Experience Guildford propaganda sheet to local businesses. On receipt it goes straight into the bin. An obscene waste of trees. How much to print, publish and distribute? What is its carbon footprint?

At the weekend I learnt a local business had been blocked from accessing the Experience Guildford Instagram page.

I checked, to find I too was blocked.

Accountability, transparency?

The level of corruption within these organisations needs to be investigated.

One BID held their AGM on-line. Only the board were present and re-elected themselves. This may not be an isolated example.

Struggling local businesses in todays harsh economic reality, cannot afford the luxury of a BID Levy, especially when they see no tangible benefit. The BID Levy can mean the difference between employing a staff member or not, between remaining in businesses or not.

Guildford has a ballot in October.

Experience Guildford this month are holding a series of workshops to obtain a YES vote to remain in business. That is they are using money extorted from local businesses to secure a YES vote to continue extorting money from local businesses.


https://www.instagram.com/p/CeOZnwsotNI/

#BID#ExperienceGuildford#fail#AgainstBID#Guildford

No increase in tax for workers

September 6, 2021

Social Care should not be paid for by increase in National Insurance, no increase in taxes on workers.

Why is this tax hike being reported as a given, media doing the job of the government, no exploration of alternatives.

It is also to set up a false dichotomy.

This is not the hard working young supporting the elderly.

Those in care homes with dementia, worked hard, paid their taxes, paid National Insurance, entered into a social contract, we pay our taxes and you look after us when we fall sick, when we get old.

Many who are now retired, worked hard, scrimped and saved to buy a house, built up savings. Why should it then be taken from them to fund social care? They could have lived in a council house, spent every night down at the pub, during the day in the betting shop, not a penny to their name, and all their social care would be paid for.

A large part of the social care budget goes to provide support for disabled, many of who are young, of working age.

And what the young forget, they too will be old one day, and if they stuff themselves with McShit, they will suffer diseases of old age far sooner, dementia, diabetes, heart problems. Type II diabetes used to be known as late onset diabetes, it is now affecting the young.

Social care should not be paid for with hike in taxes on workers, especially when alternatives exist.

  • wealth tax
  • windfall tax on Big Tech
  • windfall tax on pandemic profiteers
  • 5% revenue tax on Big Tech
  • carbon tax
  • plastic tax
  • aviation fuel tax
  • hike corporation tax
  • hike beer tax
  • hike excise duty on fuel
  • tax on industrial agriculture
  • address tax dodging

Revenue tax should also be levied on tax-dodging corporations eg Starbucks. Levied where the revenue is generated.

During the pandemic, the rich have considerable increased their wealth.

Serco was paid billions for a track and trace system that did not work.

Energy from waste incineration is not green energy

March 13, 2021

An excellent Channel 4 Dispatches programme The Dirty Truth About Your Rubbish only touched the tip of the iceberg.

Gordon Brown had a wheeze of off balance sheet accounting, the PFI scam. It made public spending look low, a prudent Chancellor. Infrastructure, hospitals, schools, incinerators, built by the private sector, leased by the public sector, for which the tax payer is paying ten times the original cost.

Incinerators have to be fed. Local authorities sign contract for minimum waste. If fall below, they pay penalties. There is thus a disincentive to reduce waste.

Government needs to step in and annul these contracts.

Incinerators emit CO2. They should be forced to buy carbon credits for their emissions, and be hit with a carbon tax.

Incinerators emit carcinogens and other toxins.

Mass is not created or destroyed by incinerators. What is left residual waste, plus what goes up the chimney.

The residual waste is heavily contaminated with heavy metals.

A scandal several years ago, residual waste spread on an allotment in the North East, the Byker ash scandal in Newcastle – in which the city council was prosecuted after 2,000 tonnes of ash from the old Byker incinerator was found to contain potentially cancer-causing dioxins.

Incineration is not green energy, it is dirty energy. It is also destroying valuable resources which should be recycled, or placed in an industrial biodegrader.

All these measures in place, many incinerators would no longer be viable, and those in the planning stage shelved.

The figures published by local councils for recycling, are for that collected, it does not mean that collected is recycled. it is going to incineration.

Local councils need to do more to encourage recycling, some do, most do not.

We all should do our part, reduce, recycle, reuse.

We should also tackle the worst offenders, Waitrose and M&S obscene levels of plastic packaging. Is it really necessary bananas in a plastic bag, a coconut shell hacked off, then wrapped in plastic shrink wrap?

Mindful Chef, owned by Nestle, deliver recipe boxes, overpackaging, obscene use of plastic. Their frozen food boxes, a card sleeve, plastic film over what appears to be a paper tray, a plastic-lined paper tray.

Waste does not exist in the natural world either in time or space, the output of one process is the input to another, a closed loop system. We should emulate the natural world.

In Lincolnshire, the official green agenda carbon neutral by 2050, two decades too late, opposition to on-shore wind turbines, support for oil and gas exploration.

DiEM TV: Another Now with Yanis Varoufakis

December 4, 2020

Putting one of the ideas in Another Now into action, last week Black Friday, one day of action against Amazon, buy nothing from Amazon,  do not visit their website, Make Amazon Pay.

During the pandemic Jeff Bezos has increased his wealth by $85 billion. Wealth begets wealth. Jeff Bezos can afford to take risks, have a long range vison, fund loss making projects, within Amazon can leverage projects to benefit all aspects of the business, we see this with artificial intelligence, when Amazon recommends a book it will be possible worth reading.

Facebook abuses its position, as we saw with the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook knows more about us than we know ourselves, we are commodities to be used and abused and sold, it can target and manipulate us.

On reading Another Now I thought when do we fight back, when do we start the guerrilla tech war against the tech giants, against the banks, against dirty industries?

We need financial engineers, software engineers, leading researchers in artificial intelligence, who know where to hit vulnerable fragile systems with coordinated attacks.

The fight has begun with Make Amazon Pay, one day of targeted action against Amazon, buy nothing on Black Friday do not even visit their website on that day.

One week on from Black Friday, over 400 parliamentarians from across the world including Yanis Varoufakis and Jeremy Corbyn join in the call to Make Amazon Pay.

A tweet by Mark Dodds suggests a target for the UK, pubcos, a day when we do not drink in any tied pub or corporate pub chains.

Pubcos are zombie companies mired in debt. When they tire of relieving fools of their money they sell off their pubs for redevelopment.

There is action we can all take.

Support local indy businesses, buy coffee from a speciality coffee shop where they care about coffee, you will quite literally taste the difference.

During the first lockdown, I visited little independent shops, the local butcher, baker, fishmonger, fruit and vegetable market stall,  not once did I visit a supermarket. And it was safer to shop in these  little shops, limited numbers, I was in and out within a couple of minutes.

We do not have to use WhatsApp or Instagram, there are alternatives, post pictures to twitter not Instagram, use Skype not WhatsApp.

Facebook must be broken up, stripped of WhatsApp and Instagram.

We should overwrite all personal information on Facebook with false information, allow a couple of days to propagate through the system then delete. Never ever quiz, game or survey on Facebook,  these are scams to harvest your data, as Cambridge Analytica used very effectively. Never tag friends.

There are alternatives to using Amazon if wish to buy books on-line. But better still, pay a visit to your local bookshop.

Amazon provides a platform for third party vendors and these account for around half the sales through Amazon. A somewhat crappy website Bookshop.org does the same, except demands a larger discount from indie publishers than they give Amazon and for bookshops they make less on a book sale than if you walked through their door and bought a book and the sale is not fulfilled by the bookshop.

Writers can do their bit, stop directing to Amazon, support local bookshops, ask your publisher to offer Amazon discounts to local bookshops, at the very least as special offer when books are published.

Tech giants should be taxed on revenue where that revenue is generated. The same should also apply to tax dodging corporations for example Starbucks.

Our lives are controlled by algorithms, Big Tech owns the algorithms. The world of We, a world controlled by numbers.

Amazons suggests what I may wish to read, YouTube what I may wish to watch.

Big Tech has monopolised research on AI. To whose benefit, who has oversight?

Those who speak out are fired.

The treatment of employees by Big Tech who dare challenge their lack of ethics is not restricted to Amazon, as we see with the treatment of Timnit Gebru by Google.

Google fired the technical co-lead of the Ethical Artificial Intelligence Team Timnit Gebru for raising issues of ethics.

Please sign the statement in support of Timnit Gebru.

A day of action against Google in support of Timnit Gebru. What form should it take? For example a coordinated walk out by Google staff on the same day of no use of Google Chrome or YouTube.

Support and use open source software.

Download and install Brave, a faster alternative to Chrome that cuts out the crap.

Brave is a free open-source web browser.  It blocks ads and website trackers, and provides a way for users to send cryptocurrency contributions in the form of Basic Attention Tokens to websites and content creators.

If coffee commercials were honest

August 21, 2020

Brilliant spoof of promotion of crap undrinkable commodity coffee.

I like coffee, I enjoy coffee, but I am not addicted.

Coffee contains a psychoactive substance, caffeine.

The coffee plant is closely related to qat (there are many variations of spelling for example khat) often referred to as coffee’s evil sister. Qat is highly addictive and as a more profitable crop has replaced coffee in Yemen where for generations coffee grew on terraces and the port of Mokka grew rich on the export of coffee beans. WHO has a separate category for qat, US classifies as dangerous as heroin. Qat contains the alkaloid cathinone. The leaves are chewed or used as an infusion to produce qat tea.

Unlike it’s evil sister qat, coffee is a legal psychoactive drug.

I am bombarded every day with offers of coffee and coffee equipment I do not want.

No, I do not want Nespresso. Coffee from a Nespresso machines is vile undrinkable coffee. That is not to say the machine cannot make decent coffee, it can, just do not use Nespresso pods. A €60 Nespresso machine will make excellent espresso, but only if use third party pods.

I used to be bombarded daily by CoffeeJack, but since highlighting the many flaws, gone very quiet. They blocked me and deleted my critical questions. Er, blocked me, it was they trolling me with their promotions.

Nor do I wish to buy coffee from roasteries I have never heard of, that not once have I ever encountered in a coffee shop as guest coffee.

For me coffee is a drink to be enjoyed as would a good wine.  To be enjoyed at leisure served in glass or ceramic.

Good coffee does not need sugar or syrups or to be carpet bombed with chocolate. The over-roasted cheap commodity coffee served up by corporate chains does require to mask the vile taste of what would otherwise be undrinkable.

Fair Trade is a marketing scam to make middle class feel good and to never delve deeper into the exploitation surrounding coffee.

Fair Trade pays a tiny premium above the commodity price. There is no incentive for farmers to improve as they will not get a higher price for quality.

Talk to your barista, buy coffee that is Direct Trade, where farmers get a higher price for quality, where there is traceability back to origin.

And of course we never mention tax dodging that we structure our company across borders to avoid paying tax where we make money.

Imagine honest advertising for what masquerades as a bar of ‘chocolate’.

‘Chocolate’, a bar of fat and sugar, it would not be every palatable, nor sound too good in our marketing, so we add a little cocoa powder, though if we wish to be real cheapskates it will be flavouring, then we add palm oil or soy but keep quiet about the environmental damage, may be listed as emulsifiers, added to improve the texture, we could use coca butter but the alternatives are far cheaper and we have to have margins to pay for the advertising for you suckers, then additives as it kinda does not taste too good a bar of fat and sugar.

Next time you buy what you think is a bar of ‘chocolate’ please check the list of ingredients. If it ain’t cocoa solids, sugar, cocoa butter, maybe vanilla, but nothing else, then it ain’t chocolate.

Covid-19 indie coffee shops

June 12, 2020

Will indie coffee shops survive covid-19 pandemic?

I will roughly divide thoughts, observations and conversations before lockdown, during lockdown and what will happen next.

Maybe ten days before lockdown, a visit to Nottingham a large city, not deserted but few people about. One coffee shop closing early few customers. Next coffee shop, few customers, less than half their usual number of customers,  numbers dropping daily.

A couple of days before lockdown, visiting Sheffield a large city, station deserted, a kiosk on my way into the city centre told me I would find the city centre deserted, few people about, little open, restaurants I passed by, the few that were open, the few that had customers maybe a couple of diners. I ate and had coffee at Marmadukes, a coffee shop usually very busy, I was the only person there. Business down by at least 80%. Coffee shops were closing at three. In part no customers, in part to let staff home before rush hour, not that there was a rush hour. Talking to the owner of another coffee shop, the question on his mind, how was he to survive?

Before lockdown, measures were already in place, hand sanitiser by the entrance, compostable coffee cups, contactless cards, no reusable cups.

The kiosk in Sheffield I passed by earlier, after I talked to them, a sign no reusable cups.

Lockdown a mixed blessing, at least cost of staff covered by furlough, rents deferred.

Lincoln a city during lockdown. The chains stayed open for a few days then closed. Indie coffee shops closed immediately. A few weeks ago, one large coffee shop a small chain opened for takeaway. A slow trickle of customers but I doubt it will cover the cost of two staff. The only advantage, they are open before the corporate chains, maybe they will attract and retain some of their clientele.

Many coffee shops have no future. Too small to manage social distancing. A kiosk can survive on takeaway only, a coffee shop with higher overheads cannot. The large coffee shop, once rents and business rates kick back in, would not survive.

We had sunniest May on record, Mediterranean climate. The tragedy indie coffee shops and restaurants not able to spread their tables into the street. Win win for everyone. Kick starts the local economy, maintains social distancing, helps local businesses back on their feet, improves city centre ambience.

One coffee shop asked. They received an emphatic no. They currently employ eight staff on furlough. When furlough ends six will lose their jobs leaving two for takeaway coffee, but not a viable businesses.

Unfortunately we will not agree to you increasing the number of tables and chairs you use or the size of the area that you have at the current time (your enclosure needs to still be only outside the frontage of your premises).

Not even the courtesy of an explanation.

Looking at Guildford, the corporate coffee chains that litter our town centres, cafes pretending to be coffee shops, three coffee shops. Of the three I cannot see Canopy Coffee or Surrey Hills surviving as they do not have the option to expand into the street. Krema yes, if allowed to expand into Tunsgate, if not no. When first open, Krema did have its tables in the street and was ordered to remove them.

It is not only coffee shops at risk it is the entire supply chain. There are the coffee roasteries that supply the coffee shops, the growers who supply the coffee beans.

We can hear bird song, streets are traffic free, cities pollution free. We have been jolted into another now. There can be no going back to normal as normal was not normal.

We have to reclaim the streets.

In Athens in the evening the streets turn into restaurants. Athens is expanding its network of pedestrianised streets.

Sheffield has plans to expand pedestrianised streets.

North Laine in Brighton the restaurants, coffee shops and other shops are in the street. There are plans to expand the pedestrianised streets.

Soho has plans to pedestrianise the area, turn into one large open air coffee shop and restaurant. Currently awaiting approval from Westminster Council.

We all have to act. If not, we lose our coffee shops.

Talk to local councils and councillors, change the mindset that allows traffic into city centres, pedestrianise the city centre, allow indie coffee shops and restaurants to spread their tables into the street, no chains no pubs No Smoking.

Find and locate your local indie coffee shops. Support them.

If anyone wishes to follow me on social media, I will try and post every day indie coffee shops worth visiting and supporting. No guarantee they are open or when they will open.

Buy coffee. If not from a local coffee shop, from a coffee roastery.

Buy bean-to-bar craft chocolate.

Support local businesses.

Government has to extend furlough for local businesses if they are unable to open. Reducing social distancing from two metres to one metre does not help as it greatly increases the risk for staff and customers.

Reclaim the Streets

May 16, 2020

We hear the sound of birdsong, the streets are traffic free, the cities are pollution free.

There can be no return to normal as normal was not normal.

We have been jolted into another now. We must maintain our city centres car and pollution free.

The first businesses to reopen coffee shops, tables outside, social distancing maintained,  dwell time relatively short.

To achieve this, coffee shops need to be able to spread out into the streets, out into the squares, the norm in Athens, indeed the norm across Europe, when one coffee shop in Lincoln requested this they received an emphatic no from Lincolnshire County Council, not even the courtesy of an explanation.

Unfortunately we will not agree to you increasing the number of tables and chairs you use or the size of the area that you have at the current time (your enclosure needs to still be only outside the frontage of your premises).

Kick starting the local economy, improving the ambience, worthless council jobsworths don’t give a damn.

Our High Streets were dying before the covid-19 pandemic. The loss of Big Business, corporate chains, from the High Street is no great loss, it was destroying the High Street. If we are to recover it will be through small local independent businesses.  That is why we must allow indie coffee shops, and only indie coffee shops not chains, next restaurants, to expand into the streets. Not pubs and bars as we do not want drunks on the streets.

Local businesses spreading into public space helps everyone, safeguarding staff and clientele through social distancing, improves the ambience of the locality, especially if No Smoking, and for many local businesses it will mean life or death, the difference whether they survive or not.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has recognised people are going to be reluctant to use public transport  therefore we have to encourage walking and cycling if we do not wish traffic levels to rise. But if wishes to improve cycling and walking, must also make our city centres more attractive by encouraging local councils to facilitate indie coffee shops and restaurants to spread out into our streets.

Deliveries to the pedestrianised areas,  park on the periphery and deliver by handcart or trolley.

Sheffield, an unusual city in that prior to the covid-19 pandemic a city on the up, a marked contrast to most decaying cities. And why? Independent businesses everywhere.

BBC Radio 4 The Food Programme recently featured Sheffield, the focus on how indie food businesses were bringing life back to Sheffield. With the exception of Marmadukes I would not agree with their choice of examples, but the gist yes. I could list several examples, South Street Kitchen, Marmadukes, Steam YardSheffield Cheese Masters, Bullion bean to bar craft chocolate, ShuJu Taiwanese pop-up kitchen at Union St.

Mention also needs to be made of Now Then, an indie magazine that features local culture and indie businesses, interesting articles and art, well worth seeking out.

Through reclaiming the streets, we are operating at the interface between business, environment and society, a component part of Doughnut Economics, where the local economy is designed to be regenerative and distributive, with people and the environment at its heart.  We kick cars out of our town centres, we plant trees, we improve the ambience, we create a space where local businesses and communities can thrive, breathe clean air, or simply relax with a  good coffee, read a book, sit and watch the world go by.

One of my favourite places to sit and relax, Little Tree, a bohemian bookshop cum coffee shop, not far from The Acropolis.

In Exarchia, an anarchist district of Athens, they set up road blocks, boxes with plants,  created traffic free zones. The city authorities also act, they are extending the pedestrianised areas around The Acropolis.


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