Sort the Bones Out of This!

I read the headline, but couldn’t believe what it said, so I read it again. It didn’t didn’t seem to make a lot of sense, so I thought I had better read on, and see if I could get some clarification. It soon became clear enough. It was a problem I had anticipated some time ago, but to see how it was being solved was quite a shock!

Judge for yourselves:-

Six elderly people in China kill themselves ‘before burial ban’

The problem of the space required for the dead was one that had been seen coming in Europe, but to see it in China was something unexpected, as looking at the map, there seems to be more than enough room for everything. This belies the facts on the ground, however, and the Chinese are taking drastic measures to alleviate the problem.

In Japan, with a tradition of cremation, the problem is minimal. In Europe, one solution has been to take the dead back to their town of origin to be buried. But for the Chinese, with a long tradition of ancestor worship, it is another matter entirely. And for a folk that could take 10 years in preparing their own coffin, such drastic change is going to be very hard.

Seeing some of the Chinese sections of a cemetery, I have often thought the the dead are better housed than the living.

All that is about to change!

“Elsewhere in China, local officials have launched campaigns to “flatten graves” to create land for farming and development.

Officials in the central province of Henan demolished 400,000 graves in 2012, local media reported. The case provoked a nationwide outcry.”

“Government officials in Anqing, a city in the eastern province of Anhui, ordered that all locals who die after 1 June should be cremated, the Beijing News daily reported.”

It would have been kinder to phase in this change over a period of years, rather than at two month’s notice, but kindness seems to be in short supply where politics is concerned.

Those Chinese who are concerned about the environment can take some solace from the knowledge that their “footprint” will be reduced to practically zero.

I first wrote about this in 2011 – see “Lets call a spade, a spade!”

“By the way, I am told by reliable sources that dying without giving prior notice will soon be made an offence. The reason for this is obvious enough, I am sure. We are running out of graveyards! The one viable alternative – cremation – cannot be used because of our on-going energy crisis, and air-burials are completely out of the question. Lets be realistic – where do we find enough vultures to do the job in the middle of Brussels, Paris or London? (And they always leave the bones behind!).”

If you want to read the complete post, use the ‘Postfinder’ in the top menu.

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Message from AVAAZ, & Request from 38Degrees!

AVAAZAvaaz
“Meet the UK Climate Secretary!
Watch the live webcast here at 1:30 Monday June 2nd

In days, Ed Davey, the Secretary of State for Climate Change, will be sitting down for an online meeting with Avaaz members to find out what voters want. Let’s make sure he hears loud and clear that we expect Britain to be a world-beater when it comes killing emissions.

We’re still reeling from the news that Antarctica is melting much faster than we knew, bringing massive sea level rises and putting cities from Bangkok to London at risk. A vital global summit on climate change is coming up fast and countries need to decide now what carbon cuts they will offer up. So far no one’s stepping up — but Britain could play a leading role in restarting the momentum.

Davey needs to know that protecting the planet’s future is a serious vote winner. Use the form on the right to sign up and submit your question for him. The more of us get involved the more clearly Davey will hear that message.

Use this form to ask your question!

38Degrees38degrees
“Hi,
Have a look at this:

It just took me three minutes to email the Department of Education and tell them to keep profit-making companies out of Child Protection Services.

Protecting children is one of the most important and sensitive roles that a government has to perform, but Gove MP wants to potentially outsource this to profit making companies.

Please e-mail the consultation too, by clicking here. It only takes three minutes and it will help to make sure that we protect vulnerable children across the UK.”

Don’t forget, use your own words – its much more effective!

Please spread this info as wide as you can!

From Los Indignados to Podemos – A Spanish Revolution!

If you are not familiar with the story behind Los Indignados, these three sites will give you the background to the situation:-
Spain’s Indignados protest here to stay
In Spain they are all Indignados nowadays
The legacy of the Indignados

What started out as demonstrations by thousands of students over austerity measures imposed by the Spanish government has gradually changed into a system of self-help organisations.

“From the Mortgage Victims’ Platform (Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca), (PAH), to the Citizens’ Tide – (Marea Ciudadana) a coalition of 350 organisations, from health workers to trade unions and youth groups, have mobilised hundreds of thousands against privatisation and austerity.”

“The PAH trudged pavements for more than a year to gather 1.4m signatures, forcing the government to debate its proposal to change the draconian mortgage law where you can lose your house and still carry mortgage debt with you for life.”

“Meanwhile Madrilonia, an Indignado blog, declares the entire economic model broken; the authors are not waiting around for someone to fix it but building their own alternatives, from the Catalan network of co-operatives to the Casa Precaria in Madrid that advises people on how to go about creating their own jobs through worker co-operatives.”

Does the following sound familiar?

“Shifting focus to politics, the protesters rejected politics as usual and the representational system as bankrupt. The political representatives do not reflect the voice and will of the people. They have become a distant elite, cut off from the rest of the population, and parties, unions and other organisations are no longer able to channel the will of the people into political decision making. The protesters therefore rejected the traditional form of doing politics where citizens make demands to representatives, and where citizens are supposed to be passive except for voting every four years.”

“Not only that, but they identified the problem as the very form of the political system itself: the root of the problem lies in political representation which is bound to lead to a hierarchy between representatives and represented, those in power and those without a voice. That is, they criticised representation not only for being unrepresentative, but for being the problem in the first place.”

And borrowing an idea from Argentina (the escrache):- “At some point protesters started turning up outside the homes of politicians who did not want to change the current law and judges who did not side with those threatened by eviction.”

Although we haven’t heard much about Los Indignados recently, or 15-M, as it is now known, the principles behind it are now embedded in Spanish society, and have been instrumental in a brand new development. “Barely 100 days old, party born from indignados movement now has five MEPs and determination to change political landscape”

You can find more detail about this exciting development here:-
Podemos hopes to cement rise of citizen politics in Spain after election success

And note the following:-

“The idea behind the party is simple, Iglesias told the Guardian on Tuesday. “It’s citizens doing politics. If the citizens don’t get involved in politics, others will. And that opens the door to them robbing you of democracy, your rights and your wallet.” (My emphasis).

It is clearly not just the UK that has the problem, its much more widespread than that. In fact, any country using the Democratic system will probably be the same, with the possible exception of Switzerland.

But don’t despair. There are ways to break the stranglehold. My preferred method in the UK is the People’s Manifesto, (see previous post), but in other countries a different approach might be more suitable.

And remember the old maxim –

If you can’t join them, beat them!

Podemos = We Can!

Voting is Never Enough – We Need a People’s Manifesto!

Voting is never enough to determine the wishes of the electorate. It leaves everything open to conjecture and interpretation, with disastrous results. Take a look at “David Cameron: Brussels has become ‘too big and too bossy‘”, for example.

“Mr Cameron will argue that appointing one of the last senior politicians to advocate a federal European state to the top EU job is a serious mistake following the surge of Eurosceptic and far-Right at European elections.”

“We need an approach that recognises that Brussels has got too big, too bossy, too interfering. We need more for nation states. Europe cannot shrug off these results,”, said the Prime Minister.”

But:-

“A defiant Francois Hollande, the French President, refused to accept that his crushing election defeat at the hands of Marine Le Pen’s Front National mean that the EU should scale back ambitions to create a political union.”

“They did not vote against Europe but for a Europe that works,” he said.

The result is that Cameron will try to block plans to appoint Jean-Claude Juncker, one of the last supporters of a United States of Europe, as president of the European Commission, and Hollande will support his appointment.

Juncker was largely responsible for clauses on EU economic and monetary union (the process that would eventually give rise to the Euro) and was himself a signatory to the treaty in 1992. He is a federalist, not exactly what we need!

Although not strictly part of this discussion, my personal preference would be for Alexis Tsipras, who wants radical reform of the Union and the single currency,and has the experience of being at the shitty end of the EU Financial stick for far too long. We all know what austerity has done for Greece!

You might like to read this:- Alexis Tsipras’ program for the European Commission presidency: ‘A mandate for hope and change

Right, now back to the main theme.

After any election, the incoming government will not go to the electorate to ask for clarification of certain points, it won’t even care what the electorate says or thinks. It will base its policy on which parts of its manifesto it chooses to honour, and in accordance with how much money it has to spend, (and/or can borrow).

This leaves the electorate in suspension until the next election, at which time it will have another chance to make a statement, which once again won’t be understood.

There has to be a better way of running a Democracy!

There is. The electorate has to produce its own manifesto – the People’s Manifesto – and elect a government that will work with it.

This, in conjunction with a functional “Recall” facility, would give us not only a road map of where the country should be headed, but also control over the driver to ensure that we get there.

I have no illusions whatsoever about the amount of work that will be required to do this. I am hoping that 38Degrees could give us some support here, and have contacted them already with a proposal. I saw what they had already done with “Where the Parties Stand.” before the election, and know that they could modify their system to give the results we need.

I am waiting for a response on that request.

In the meantime, if any of you have constructive ideas about how to proceed, I would love to hear them!

The Trickle-Down Effect is Working Well.

The UK government is in austerity mode, and the trickle-down effect is to spread poverty wider than ever before. Particularly at risk are single parent mothers with young children, who have difficulty balancing the demands of raising young children with those of the welfare administration. See “Down the Rabbit Hole

There are other ways of dealing with the current financial situation, and no shortage of people to recommend them, but the government is sticking resolutely to its path.

Is there something we are not being told?

One might have thought that with an income from taxation of £23.9bn in 2013 there should be enough money to go round and keep everybody happy. See
UK tax inspectors collect record £23.9bn

What they didn’t tell you was that the UK is already in debt to the tune of £1.27 trillion, and the interest payments on this debt will be about £1bn a week – more than twice the income from taxation in a record year!
Interest bill on UK’s £1.27 trillion debt to hit £1bn a week

You may well ask at this point “Well why isn’t the UK bankrupt?”, and with good reason.

There are answers to the question, of course:-

    Smoke and mirrors
    Sleight of hand
    Shady Dealing (Privatisation)
    The City

Even if the invisible earnings bring in about the same as the visible (taxation), it is quite apparent that there is no great surplus to be had, which means that if you were expecting a bonus, you will have a very long wait. Don’t hold your breath!

Of course, there is always the redeeming factor of inflation – that horrible device that steals money out of pensioner’s pockets, but makes large debts eventually easier to pay off. Unfortunately, that is being held low at the moment, and does not make any significant contribution in the short term.

In view of the foregoing, one could ask why anyone is seriously contemplating a flagship project such as HS2 at all – we simply can’t afford it. Ah, but if big business comes up with the money, it could work. Never mind that it is not really of much benefit, will be totally behind schedule, and way over budget – flagship projects are simply necessary. Don’t knock it!

It would explain why only things that show a profit are being privatised at this time, The government has no money to pay the “Sweeteners” that would be necessary to off-load a failing business.

It does not explain, however, why the interest in Fracking. Especially as both the Bowland Hodder and the Weald Basin studies state that although oil and gas are actually present, the chances of extracting them in commercial quantities should be regarded as low, at least until further testing has been done.

After the shock of the weekend voting, it will be back to “Business as Usual” in a couple of weeks, no doubt, with a few soundbites to smooth the electorate’s ruffled feathers.

What a way to run a country!

Added to Blogroll!

I don’t know enough about politics in America, so I say very little about it, much preferring to leave it to people who are better informed. As luck would have it, I received an email the other day to say that someone had “Liked” my post “Recall: Put Power In Voters Hands”. Naturally enough, I went to their site to see what they were doing.

I liked what I saw!

These guys are getting organised to campaign against career politicians, by limiting terms in office to 12 years, which equates to two election periods.

This is very much the way I think also, as the UK system is riddled with career politicians, and even worse, many of them had the empathy knocked out of them at boarding school.

This type of person is not a good choice as a representative of the people. The problem is that it is not the people that are doing the choosing, but political parties, who are only interested in staying in power as long as possible.

As far as I am concerned, anything that helps to move us back towards a decent grass-roots Democracy that actually serves the interests of the people must be actively supported.

So here is the link to their site:- Term Limits For Congress

Take a look for yourself, and see if there is anything that you can do!

Recall: Put power in voters hands

There is a new petition on 38Degrees to try to get a usable “Recall” system working. I signed it, and was immediately asked to spread it around.
HP
To be of any value at all, the Recall facility must be under the control of the constituency that votes an MP in.

Cameron’s last attempt to fudge this demand by putting Parliament in charge was thankfully blown out.

The recent election results have the major parties in a turmoil, and they will be amenable to making concessions in order to win back supporters.

We need to use that advantage – strike while the iron is hot – and thrust as big a petition as we can possibly muster under their noses before complacency sets in and everything reverts to the status quo.

The text from 38Degrees is as follows:-
38degrees
“The government is making plans to announce new powers to sack – ‘recall’ – MPs who don’t do their job properly.

But their plans could put the power to sack MPs in their colleagues’ hands – not their constituents. This isn’t good enough.

Together, we can build a HUGE people-powered petition to get real recall – so if enough people wanted to hold a by-election to sack their MP in between elections, they could.”

Here is the link to the petition!

After you have signed up,

Please spread the word as far as you possibly can!

The Housing Market Crisis – What Have They Missed?

There was an article on the Guardian website “How do we tackle the housing market crisis? By the experts” that intrigued me. I studied it thoroughly, and came to the conclusion that it was fundamentally flawed. We’ll get round to why I think that a bit later.

For as long as I can remember, the UK has had a housing crisis, and it is a source of constant wonderment to see that nobody has found a way of solving the problem. If you read through the article, you may come to the same conclusions as I did.

The “experts” they refer to represent different aspects of the housing market, viz.
mortgages, estate agent, charity (Shelter), landlord, rate setter, and housing professional.

The following statement is clear enough – “The basic problem is the imbalance between supply and demand.” – which is true of many things, not just housing. However, the supporting discussion relates only to the “Supply”, of housing, and totally ignores the “Demand”, and the factors affecting it.

Now I think it is safe to say that you cannot solve a problem if you only try to fix one part of it. But this is in effect what they have been doing for years, and it obviously doesn’t work. The rate they are going they will have eventually covered the whole of the UK with houses, asphalt (and potholes), and there will still be a housing crisis!

The Demand side must be addressed too!

What factors govern demand? I can certainly think of a few:-

    1. Birthrate
    2. Deathrate
    3. Immigrants
    4. Immigration.

Birthrate is not as simple as it seems, for although there is a tendency towards fewer offspring in the indigenous population, the immigrant populations still maintain a higher birthrate. This has caused problems in some areas where hospital beds for delivery have not been available in sufficient supply.

Deathrate tends to reduce with improving healthcare, but will healthcare continue to improve? The NHS appears to be suffering from overload at the moment, and resistance to antibiotics, and extreme weather events, could change the picture rather radically.

Immigrants (3) are those migrants that have already established families, and are the ones responsible for the increasing birthrate.

Immigration (4) are the new arrivals. With an annual influx of over 200,000, if we assume 4 persons to a household, we will need 50,000 new houses as a result.

According to the housing professional, “We can only tackle this by building more homes – in England we need to build 250,000 a year just to keep pace with our population. We’re achieving less than half that, with just 112,630 homes built in the year to March 2014.”

My question here is “Does this include houses for the new immigrants, or not?”

I think you can see where I am going with this by now. The government glibly talks of immigration ‘helping the economy’, but forgets to mention the ramifications that will be felt for years to come. Perhaps they don’t understand the problem themselves?

If you don’t mind seeing “England’s green and pleasant land” being transformed into one big urban wasteland, relax, sit back, and do nothing.

If however, you place value on your Green Belt, and don’t want to see it swallowed up by new housing estates, start talking to your political representatives.

The Conservatives are unlikely to be of help, see:- Theresa May waters down Tory migration target

If you can’t find a sympathetic ear, talk to UKIP!

MAM – The UK Media Silence is Deafening!

How did this one slip through? There was no mention at all of the Worldwide March Against Monsanto (MAM) on any of the BBC, the Telegraph or the Guardian. I wouldn’t have known anything about it until it was too late if it hadn’t been for this:-
Global anti-GMO action: People unite against Monsanto dominance
MAM
What is on earth is our media doing?

    Have they given in to GMO’s and accepted them for a fact of life now?
    Have they been lulled into a sense of false security by our badger-hating Environment Secretary?
    Has the government imposed a blanket “Don’t Publish” order on the subject?

I don’t accept any of the above. Nor do I accept that they have been too busy with the election. That has already slipped down the page, and the BBC is still serving up pages from years ago.

This is far too important an issue to let slip by default!

Recommended Action.

If we cannot rely on our media, we can take action ourselves. Go to “March Against Monsanto“, and inform yourself. Unfortunately, there appear to be no actions whatsoever in the UK, and it is now too late to organise anything useful.

The media have really let us down on this one!

If we can’t participate this time round, we can prepare for future actions by signing up for the newsletter.

Then the media can go whistle!

Quick Fix, or Long-Term Solution? Fracking

It seems that Cameron is winding up his steamroller to flatten all opposition to fracking, irrespective of whether it is a good idea or not.

Of course, HE thinks it is, for whatever misguided reasons, but then, none of the UK’s energy policies seem to be designed for the long term – they are all quick fixes – and hang the expense!

“Cameron has said fracking would be “good for our country” and has blamed a lack of understanding of the process for some of the opposition.” See:-
Fracking compensation to be increased

The Germans, however, always with an eye to the long-term benefits, have taken a different path completely. “In Germany, for example, there is a broad consensus that hydraulic fracking and nuclear power are not options for the future.”
See:- Germany Taps Universities in Its Push for Green Energy

In fact, the Germans have taken a path that is possibly more difficult initially, but has the long-term benefit that it is a sustainable solution, which must be of immense value in anyone’s book.

Cameron’s quick fix will fill a gap for a year or two, but then we will be back to square one, having spent vast amounts of money, having devastated huge tracts of prime countryside, many of them in beauty spots, and still with no long-term solution in sight. See:-
Fracking planned for Tory heartlands as report reveals billions of barrels of shale oil in southern England

This all begs the question “Why do the Germans come up with a different answer than Cameron when they are all starting with the same data on the fracking situation?”

    Does Cameron have a crystal ball?
    Is Cameron clairvoyant?
    Is Cameron incapable of eliciting the facts from a set of data?

Assuming that the answer to all of the above is “No”, then we are left with one conclusion – Cameron is motivated by something other than the general wellbeing of the country’s population.

And this is the crux of the while matter. The UK has a prime minister that does not have the welfare of the British people closest to his heart!

For the sake of the UK’s future, it would be better to remove him at the earliest opportunity!