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deeplyblue

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  1. Not necessarily. The old Oxbridge entrance exams used to allow tutors to offer places to people who they thought had potential, not just people who were good at passing "A" levels. Of course, it meant that tutors had to read all the entrance papers, and then interview the candidates as well. These days I don't suppose any university in the country could spare the time to have that sort of admissions process. I spoke a little while ago to someone who used to do admissions in an ex-Poly. I asked if they still had the basic "take a look at the projected grades and offer on that basis." He said, No the days when tutors were involved in admissions had gone. These days each course just told the admissions staff what their A level points requirements were and the central admissions office worked it out from there. I suspect that they have a way of tweaking the formula so that people from some postcodes didn't have to get quite as good a set of grades as the standard, but that's not quite the "give every student a chance to impress" either via separate exams or on the UCA form. I believe that many students from quite ordinary backgrounds are now looking to study in the US - where foreign students can get 100% bursaries - or even in Europe. There are undergraduate courses in the Netherlands which are taught entirely in English, and though you still have to pay, it's cheaper than studying in England. I don't know how they handle admissions. db
  2. I imagine that's aimed at me - though there are quite a few people who would be totally bemused at the thought of me as a "leftie". Still, perhaps I should clear up one point. I was not saying that you have to keep every "diversity officer" or the NHS will crumple. But some of the "unnecessary" admin is providing the figures that allow newspapers and others to produce, "Waiting times down by x%" or "Total income from parking fines averages £y pounds per month". Not to mention the admin involved in answering all the FoI requests some of which allow disability activists to expose government lying on consultation and the TPA to expose MPs' need for public money for their ducks. "Accountability" up the needs for accounts - and thence for accountants. What I was saying was that I objected to position which I hear produced by Clarkson and Clarksonites here that you can divide the people who are technically employed into [a] hard-working tax-payers and parasites who do not work and pay no tax, and that category [a] are all in the (notional) private sector and that everyone in the (notional) public sector falls into category . Just to add to that point, I also object to the addition of a third category [c] people who are over 21 and don't work, who are either idle benefit-scrounging scum living off the taxes of the virtuous private sector workers or wicked older voters who only look as if they have money of their own because they stole it from their virtuous children and grandchildren. I said that most public sector workers pay tax on their incomes and their consumption in the form of Income Tax, NI and VAT - plus whatever additional taxes come their way on "sin" taxes, stamp duty and all the rest. Those who don't pay tax mostly do not do so because they are too poorly paid. Similarly there are people working in the private sector who probably deserve the parasite epithet a good deal more than most of those working in public sector. I have also said that it is not simple to divide the workforce into "public" and "private". I mentioned the point about the privately owned company (imaginary) who make common medical supplies. The sell a lot of stuff to the NHS and, at the moment, if all their purchases from the NHS were to be withdrawn the company would crumble. However, they do have a growing market selling these things to private hospitals - which do some work for the NHS. They also have a nice little line in base first aid kits which they sell in high street outlets. But these sales are growing partly because (in this imaginary scenario) the government has just passed a law making it compulsory for all cars to have a first aid kit, and are running an advertising campaign about how all houses should have one. But, of course, no one is forcing any of these outlets to buy from this company and not from another. Anyone employed by this company is therefore partly supported by spending from the public purse, but they also producing real goods which can be sold to private individuals and other businesses and in markets overseas. And some of the people in the strategic planning department and trying to work out what machines will need replacing, and some of them are taking about producing a new in-house magazine to raise internal awareness of the new ethos in the company. Down in design there's a small group of "assistants" who are basically eye candy, and a collection of people responsible for the vital layout of new regulatory displays who are being paid nothing at all because they're "interns" who are terribly lucky to have got jobs in a design department at all. Go to www.dwp.gov.uk and you will find yourself at the Department for Work and Pensions Corporate Website. Put in an FoI request about the computer program used to assess ESA claimants and you'll find they'll tell you F.A because it might harm the DWP's commercial interests. Look at the current occupations of some "retired" senior civil servants and you might conclude that they must have been working for the "private" sector all along. Look at what David Cameron is doing (schmoozing with the Saudis) and you might conclude that though his salary is paid by the public purse, he is actually a part-time fixer for the arms industry. Not simple at all. db
  3. What I meant was [1] that they pay tax on their income, like everybody else, [2] that they pay NI like many others and [2] that they pay VAT on the goods and services which they purchase like everybody else. I would go further, however, and say that they "public sector"/"private sector" divide being so assiduously promoted here and elsewhere is less clear cut. Even leaving aside the dubious PFI, so many companies are involved in "public" work - whether it is IT companies engaged in government work (like the appalling ATOS) or companies who make tarmac for roads or who sell medical supplies to hospitals - that taking the "public sector" out of the economy would leave many private companies without clients. And if these functions are all so pointless, then they would not be replaced by private sector institutions, and if they are simply "unsustainable" (nominated as my word of the decade) the same applies. Even that does not cover the contraction in demand which follows any substantial contraction in any sector of the economy, which again affects those who deal in consumer goodies or in the optional consumption of services. I am not advocating unbridled spending of borrowed money, but I do think that simply adopting a basic, "individual on payroll of public body = bad; individual on payroll of private company = good," is not only unreasonable, but simplistic to the point of being grossly misleading. db
  4. So those who work in the private sector all labour mightily, while public sector employees live the life of riley. It galls you that the taxes paid by advertising executives, those who lie displayed across the bonnet of a new car for the camera or who try to persuade you to buy a new sofa pay taxes to support the public sector. I also assume that you do not believe that flood control officers, nurses, rubbish collectors or policemen either pay taxes or "work for a living." db
  5. That rather depends on her circumstances. Most of the world's population would rather be poor and healthy than "maxed out" on disability benefits and in permanent severe pain. Or paralysed from the neck down. Or so far gone in dementia that they don't know where they are or when they are or who they are talking to. Of course, if she has a problem from birth then 75% of the world's population would not expect her to live to adulthood. db
  6. Agree with you in principal, but there are two things for which, I think, she does carry some personal responsibility. 1) The sale of council houses at very low prices. This was a very important part of the house price boom, because of the huge rise in the price of those homes within a year of their purchase, giving many a big deposit for the next "step on the housing ladder".. It wiped out a large part of the affordable, available family homes to rent sector. It put many more of those who had to rent into the hands of the private landlord. It grossly inflated the housing benefit bill in bad times. It created the myth that those who had not bought their own homes were failures who couldn't even get a mortgage and made renting a badge of shame or immaturity. 2) The deliberate destruction of integrated public transport networks. It made for the parking problem which has overtaken so many cities and the "need" for so many families to have 2 cars - and houses with off-road parking for said 2 cars. She personally summed up her contempt, "Anyone who still uses a bus at 30 is a failure," and - once again - established an ethos which is unnecessary and socially damaging. There are those who also point out that nothing makes a traditional Labour voter into a Tory faster than a mortgage. A friend uses to canvas for the Labour party during the years following the council house purchase boom. He said that you could always tell when it was no use knocking at the door on one-time council estates. If the front door had been replaced with fancy wooden decorations, glass panelling or even a large letterbox then the people inside were the beneficiaries of the council house purchase schemes and were going to be voting Tory. db
  7. "But my dear I know this marvellous agency who get girls in from Eastern Europe, who will work for peanuts and don't get nearly as stroppy as the local chavs. Honest too and they don't complain if you sometimes simply have to cancel their day off - or if they do, you don't have to understand what they're saying." db
  8. When we were looking there, quite a bit of Monkseaton seemed very nice. One place we would have bought, I think, but there was glitch in the communications with the EA. It also depends on what sort of property you're looking for. You want Victorian, and Tynemouth is still probably your best bet. If you're after a new "estate" house then you want to be a bit further inland. The Abbots Way houses are just behind the main N Tyneside hospital and it was a bit too much of a mammoth estate for us - but you can get space for a decent price there. Also promising is Preston, I think. Find Preston Road, N Shields on Google and then look at the northern end of the road and the bits to east of west. To the west, there's the Tynemouth Golf Club, and a friend who used to live there told me that there was a waiting list for the waiting list. Saw a nice looking house there once with a view of one of the fairways. There are still those who are leary of Whitley Bay since it used to be full of benefit B&Bs and a few too many young people with bad habits. Anywhere near the coast, and I'd say see what it's like by 9pm on a Saturday night, and you've probably seen the worst of it. If it's OK at that time, then you can live with it the rest of the time. db
  9. Only if you're selling it to a relative (or other interested party). In this case the bloke was selling it to his daughter (IIRC) - she was getting a £350K house for £300K - which HMRC (or whoever) thought was actually a gift of £50K to the daughter which the father was hoping no one would notice. Now if there were money laundering involved (not that I have any reason to suppose there was) or an attempt to hide assets for some other reason, then parties other than HMRC would be involved. One standard reason for this sort of transaction is to try to reduce your assets so that when someone calculates what you can be charged for care home fees, then the sum is as small as possible. In fact selling the "family home" to one of the children for less than its full value, leaving the person going into care with much less in the way of assets was such a standard dodge that they've made it illegal - "deliberate divestment of assets" (or some such phrase). Don't quote me on this - IANAL. You can see more on that particular issue by goggling it, or searching through the www.ageuk.org.uk site db
  10. And of market economies he wrote (in the same poem, "The Gods of the Copybook Headings") However, I think you misread the situation. The areas of highest unemployment are those of the old heavy industries, where once a man could support a family by simple hard physical labour. If you get to the point where lots of people are required to get together and shoot other people, I think you will find plenty of recruits here. That sort of work - adequately paid (who wants lots of disgruntled people with guns and ammo) - active and respectable, that will find plenty of takers. And then when they have "killed the [currently] productive people", perhaps there will be more jobs for the rest. After 3 generations of mass unemployment, it is hard to return to the mindset of times when everyone had work, but it could be done. If there were jobs available under the old system, it would be simple. If you re-opened the Sunderland shipyards, you would not find a shortage of local men lining up to work. If a new car factory was opened, then the queue for apprenticeships would form quickly. When the new electronics businesses started up here, they were not short of people wanting to work there. What all these industries lacked was local (as in European) markets and people prepared to work at the same rate of pay that they would have received in Bangalore or Quanzhou. That isn't because they are greedy, but because the wages in Quanzhou would not feed a family in Sunderland - let alone pay the rent or keep kids in school uniform. Even the minimum wage won't do that, and two people on a minimum wage can't raise a family - and the chances of their being two such jobs are pretty low. We do not have two groups of people in this country, those born to be "productive" and those who can only be made into economically viable entities by desperation or coercion. For most, not being able to do "a proper job" remains an evil, not an aspiration. db
  11. No, the premier order of chivalry in England is the Order of the Garter, in Scotland, the Order of the Thistle. The full list of the modern orders goes in the formal list of precedence something like this: The Most Noble Order of the Garter The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle The Most Honourable Order of the Bath The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George The Royal Victorian Order The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire So even a Knight Grand Cross of the BE is a long way down the ladder from a Knight of the of Garter. You can't have Knighthoods in all of the Chivalric Orders - all CHs, for example are just that. However, they are outranked by peers - again in the formal ranking: Debretts db
  12. But without the earth, the produce is going to be hard to collect. Bob the Farmer is not going to be able to harvest his corn if, 6 weeks before it is ripe, he has to move. If 2 months after he has put in all the labour of doing the planting, and 2 years after he has built his house the injins point out that this is precisely where the buffalo usually roam, his labour looks wasted. Furthermore, they say, buffalo elsewhere have been killed in large numbers and they need this lot in order to feed their children. And they can't wait for Bob the Farmer to harvest his crop and then agree to move out of their way, so they are going to tear down the fence which he has put along an imaginary line where he has planted his crops. Either Bob the Famer or the Injins are going to have to go hungry if they rely on their own labour since both need the use of the same amount of earth for the same period of time in ways which are mutually incompatible. Both parties will probably feel that violence is the logical answer to their problem - Bob the Farmer knows that there are a lot more of the injins than there are of him, and the injins know that Bob stands a good chance of calling on help if they don't act quickly. Maybe neither party "owns" the land, but both certainly think that they are entitled to live from the combination of the natural resources provided by the land and their own labour. Indeed the very ability to do the labour is tied up with the control of the land over a period of time - in the case of Bob the Farmer, with his wife, his home and his barns (all built in part by his labour), that labour is going to have to go for some years before he is in profit and during that period his labour on that particular bit of soil rather precludes others from doing the same labour or other sorts of labour on the same bit of land. Furthermore, in a rather smaller place than the Great Plains, one person's careful labour on a farm may prevent someone else from labouring at all. If there is a strictly limited area in which farming is possible, then it may be that there are more farmers than there is land. In hard times, that may mean starvation for some. This ties in with the original problem with the question of unemployment. There is some disagreement here, and elsewhere, about whether there are emough jobs "to go round." I don't want to argue here whether that is or is not the case. What I want to consider is what happens if there were to be the case. Suppose that in an entire population pool there are two million people of working age without jobs, and only one million jobs waiting for someone to do them. At the moment many people are saying that this leaves you with one million people living off the labour of others. Once upon a not-very-long-time ago, the argument was made that one million people were working when it wasn't necessary, and they were taking the jobs away from people who needed them. This was the argument that when there was a male breadwinner in a household, then a woman going out to work was stealing the job from another breadwinner in another house. The working wife, or any woman who did not need to income in order to survive, was stealing the income, the dignity and the future of a working man. Taking his money away at knife point was a less serious offence against natural justice. This, of course, is the beef that many have against the Poles - they come over here and "steal our jobs." Various other immigrants have been on the receiving end of the same resentment. These days it's quite respectable to talk of "British jobs for British workers," but how long before it "English jobs for English workers" - espcially if the Scots get any more degree of economic independence. Round here a "southern ******" - fit your own epithet here - may be resented for coming and taking a job which "should have" gone to a local man. There was a suggestion, made by a right-leaning think tank in 2008, that the folk living in cities now surplus to requirements (like Sunderland) should move to useful cities (like Cambridge). Suppose this were to happen - how long before "bloody northerners" would be "stealing" jobs which "rightfully" belonged to those born further south? Money isn't the only thing you can steal. db
  13. Until: - someone makes a package selling dodgy chips which give everyone the same number - someone finds a nice cheap way to replace your chip with that taken from a person who has conveniently died abroad and unregistered. - someone claims that these chips are the Mark of the Beast spoken of in the Book of Revelations and claims that implanting them is a violation of their freedom of religion (this is already a standard fantasy rallying cry amongst the further reaches of apocalyptic-ready Christianity in the US) - a whole group of people are shown to be allergic to the things, or it causes cancer after 5 years of wearing it, or it starts to decay in unpredictable ways (looking at what has happened with certain designs of hip replacement or breast enhancement). - the security forces decide that these things are a risk to undercover personnel and all serving police officers have them removed, just in case they can be identified - the database that keeps all the details up to date and fully tracked gets hacked and/or corrupted and/or has the passwords left behind in a taxi and/or fails to link up with the NHS database and has to be completely re-programmed There are doubtless all sorts of other wonderful things that could be on the list, if I read a little more widely. And all of that doesn't include changes in the way in which "immigrant" is defined. In my lifetime I've seen first the French and the Poles come under the heading of "not really immigrants" and, who knows, it might start including the Turks as well. Meanwhile, if you stick to saying "anyone not born in the country", then you have to work out how you would categorize the Scots. The Scots, if they were to get full independence, would celebrate either by removing the chips altogether, or introducing their own chip with a format not readable by English machines and not containing the same data structures. Of course I could probably have said, "Government IT project" and you could have made the rest up for yourself. db
  14. Bob Settler goes west to the hinterland of the American mid-West. He spots lots of land which seems ripe for growing corn, and clearly no one is doing it now. In fact no one seems to be doing anything with it now. So he builds a hut, plants some seeds, marries and has children. From his labour he has makes enough to feed the children and even enough for a few things from the Sears Roebuck catalogue. Then one day a tribe of "injins" turn up. He tells them to get off his land - they say, "This is our land." "I," says Bob, "Have tilled it, planted it, irrigated it and harvested it. You were doing nothing with it. You have no proof that it was ever your land. Now it is mine by right of a law which said I could have it, and by right of the labour which I have put into it. And if you disagree I will send a message to the sheriff, and he will contact the army and then we will see whose land it is." Then there is Bob Oil owner. One day he reads a report which says some land which is quite close to land he thinks of as his - it is where he and his parents and grandparents farmed. He knows that no one has been bothered about the other bit of land - it's been of not much use to anyone except some fisher folk who travel over to get to some shallow pools where you can get good shellfish. However, Bob Oil-Owner has a brain. So one day he goes into town and says, "That land just about next to my land - it doesn't seem to belong to anyone, so I'm laying a claim to it." "Why bother?" says the clerk, "It's worthless." "Nevertheless," says Bob, "I'm having it." Three years later an oil company comes to Bob's door. "We understand from the town records that you own this land." Bob says so, and then signs an agreement with the oil company first for prospecting rights and then later for drilling rights. Bob gets very rich, from being lucky enough to see a report and going to labour of going into town and saying he wants the land. This is nothing to do with having earned the right by the sweat of his brow. Bob Oil-owner has "taken some raw materials" and asserted his right to a handsome profit from someone else's labour. Bob Settler has "taken some raw materials" and uses them before anyone else does. But by using those raw materials he is, in fact, stealing something from someone else - the injins whose 3rd-best hunting ground it was before Bob Settler fenced off the range and starting shooting the buffalo. What about Bill and David - when the rush for land started, they were fractionally behind Bob, who was therefore "given" the right to the land by a government who decided all by themselves that they had the right to dispose of the land. But Bill and Dave would have worked even harder. Perhaps Bob's claim to the farm is just that he was there 3 hours before Bill and Dave; and what Bob knows is the he loosened a wheel-nut on Bill's wagon to make sure he (Bob) got there before Bill and Dave. Maybe Bill and Dave got there 3 hours before Bill, who shot them because he felt more entitled, because he would make better use of it, and then said he got there first - there were no witnesses. Turn it the other way round. Perhaps Bill and Dave got there 2 years before Bob, they've done rather desultory farming, but now they have plans. When Bob arrives he discovers that all he can do is to do all the labour that Bill and Dave couldn't be bothered to do, but he has a family to feed. Bill and Dave have got a nice little number going, and their wives patronise Bob's wife because she has to make all her own clothes and not buy them from a catalogue, but none of the four does any work - that's all done by Bill and his wife. Their title to the land owes virtually nothing to their hard work - just to their luck. Or as wonderpup might say, Bill and Dave (in scenario) and Bob Settler (in another one) have a "right to the land" not by virtue of working for it, but of having the force to take the land and the guile to prevent anyone else's claims considered. Bob's ability to work the land, or his ability to pay someone else to work the land on his behalf, has little to do with labour and a lot to do with being able to stop others taking it away from him.- regardless of the "legal niceties" of the issue. Power again - the sort that "grows from the barrel of a gun." db
  15. Try going to a forum called gardenlaw.co.uk which is full of people whose lives are being turned upside down by a disagreement over who has the right to call the shots over some very small pieces of land. Land may not be there, but surveyors make a handsome living out of it. db PS And Proudhon wasn't really talking about land in that quotation, but about government and - if I read him correctly here - as much about life in the city as anywhere. As someone else said, in a village we don't need that sort of thing, we have neighbours.
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