Saturday, December 26, 2009

Scattered About

Well, that's another Christmas Day, past. I've been out this morning and would personally like to express my personal 'thanks' to the occupants of the house which regularly dumps its household rubbish next to the council bin at the start of the St Mildred's Bay car park. I'm sure those responsible and I could read out the names from their Xmas present labels, will be delighted to know, that with help from the ever present and voracious seagulls, the remains of their Christmas dinner and gift wrappings, are now scattered as far down as the beach. Strangely enough, I see, even the gulls won't eat Brussel sprouts.

Further down in the recycling area, people either can't be bothered or are not strong enough to lift the cover on the skip and have dumped bags of wrapping paper and boxes next to it. Yesterday, I shoved a whole load of boxes and paper to the back which was blocking the opening. So what happens next, is when the wind picks up, all the paper will end-up decorating the putting-green and the sea front. It's a shame because up until now, the beaches and sea-front area were looking remarkably clean, with great credit to the council sweepers and this will soon change as the paper becomes sodden and scatters.

Today, I had considered changing the template on this weblog but if I do, I'll lose all the links down the sidebar and would have to type each one back in again, a rather long-winder process. Also, because I have a number of 'Blogs', such as Zentelligence, I can't easily include and move other code around on the later interface, whereas the old blogger code accepts HTML (however poor my scripting is) so I guess we're stuck with it for now.

With less than a week before the start of 2010, I need to think of a New Year's resolution. The more immediate priority is to get back into a personal fitness regime. With my travelling around this month, freezing weather and two colds, I have 'dropped' the ball and need to re-discover the willpower to get back into my regime. The problem I find, post-fifty, is dealing with the challenge of discomfort and fatigue when one re-starts and I can easily understand why people simply give-up on the gym as falling asleep in the arm chair is a far more attractive option than lifting weights in the cold.

What I would like to do is take a quick break in the New Year if the opportunity allows. I haven't had a holiday in over two years and it would be nice to go exploring again. It's a great way of losing weight as well! Places I've always wanted to visit include the oasis of Siwa in the western desert, Reigandou in Japan, the ancient city of Timbuktu and Hissarlik in Turkey, the site of ancient Troy. Maybe one day!

I did offer to take my daughter to Westwood Cross this morning but she gave me a pitying look and described the idea as 'madness.' I'm sure she's right. Has anyone else made the attempt?


Mr Friday said...

Actually went to WWX about lunchtime and the traffic wasn't too bad. Better than a "normal" Saturday.

Re - the littering. I would never condone dumping rubbish but would suggest it is a pretty poor show that, in my area at least, our last recycling collection was 10th December and we will not get another one until 14th January. This is, of course, at the time of year when more recycling is produced than any other. Yes, I know I could dump it in my car and make a few trips to the recycling centre but I pay over £150 Council Tax a month so think "why on earth should I ?"

On a lighter note may I wish you and all the contributors to this blog a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

DrM. said...

It's an interesting point on council tax an done that stimulates strong feelings.

Of course our council taxt only makes a 40% contribution to the costs of probiding services in Thanet. The balance comes from central government.

At the same time I worked out several months ago that everyone living here is subsidised by over £7,000 a year!

Makes you think!

Mr Friday said...

I'm not all that sure about the subsidy argument. Yes, I know that only a small part of TDC's income comes from Council Tax. I also know that their income comes from fees and charges, central Government grant, redistributed Business Rates etc. So, I pay (too much) tax on my wages each year which goes straight to Government which is then reallocated back for general uses including Local Government funding. I also use the car parks etc which helps towards running costs. I don't claim benefits or subsidies of any sort from TDC so would be interested to know how much I contribute compared to how much "value" I receive in return.

Coupled with this is the knowledge that all taxpayers of TDC are subsidising TDC staff's pension pots to a huge level each year which is a charge which affects the amount of Council Tax needed to balance the books.

So, I'm not sure whether it is TDC subsidising us or people like me subsidising them !!

DrM. said...

In many respects you are quite correct!

When I was with the Cabinet Office at the start of the decade, the talk was of streamlining the public sector, through the introduction of new technology and removing some 85,000 or so jobs.

In fact, what happened was that in very short order we picked-up some 300,000 more under Blair which built even more quickly under Brown as the public sector was used to hide the unemployment figures; i.e. nearly all the employment growth in the UK economy under this Government has been in the public sector at one end and at the the other end, mass university entrance has disguised the true scale of youth unemployment.

Anyway, we now have a problem which you and I and everyone else in the country shares, that of massive public sector debt and an equally large public sector pension obligation. By 2014, the burden this will have on thetaxpayer will be nothing less than catastrophic, given the accelerated financial problems caused by bailing out the banks.

The reality is that running the public sector is inordinately expensive and from a collective taxpayers perspective, quite possibly offers limited value for money. However, we have increasingly adopted the European model, so loved by France and Germany that the public sector is not a means to an end but an end in itself in managing or disguising spiralling unemployment and an increasingly uncompetitive European economy.

There is a drastic solution of course, the streamlining imagined under Blair but that would lead to potentially massive unemployment, crippling strikes and union unrest!