Tuesday, September 08, 2009

With Friends Like These..............

Isn't it revealing to see the extent to which the views of the apocalypse-predicting green eco-authoritarians of Jersey's own J-CAN are echoed in the wider national political scene?
Perusing certain UK political party websites today in the furtherance of wider research, Clameur de Haro came across this little gem which should bring a warm glow to the likes of Messrs Palmer, Wimberley, Forskitt et al -
"Peak oil spells the end of cheap oil and gas. It will be seen as the heralding of a new age when we learn to live with the resources of the planet."
But with, of course, the most drastic restrictions on individual liberty, economic freedom, and human advancement, all in the name of allegedly saving the planet (although, strangely, it doesn't mention that).

And this one -

"Develop renewable energy sources such as off-shore wind farms, wave, tidal and solar energy"

Even though wind power has been proved not to provide anything like the power-generating capacity that is claimed for it, or a fraction of the power-generating capacity it is supposed to replace (although equally strangely, that isn't mentioned either).
And where, precisely, apart from in the prescriptions of J-CAN and its fellow-travellers, does one find such enlightened opinions articulated? Why, in none other than the policies of the intolerant, racist and bigoted British National Party. It's all spelt out on the odious BNP's website.
Judge ye a man by the company he keeps, counselled Clameur de Haro's spiritual advisers, all those years ago. Sound advice, maybe.
An unduly harsh judgement? Perhaps. But perhaps not when levelled at those whose habitual mode of debate is to disparage honest sceptics as "deniers" rather than engage with their arguments.
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Monday, September 07, 2009

And The Public Sector Gravy Train Just Keeps On A-Rollin'………

Yet another example reaches Clameur de Haro's in-box of questionable workforce expansion done with a cavalier disregard for its impact on the public finances.
This time it's in Harbours, and involves the recent recruitment, apparently, of an assistant to the so-called Development Director, Myra Shacklady.
Clameur de Haro has not met the lady in question, but his friends in diverse parts of the maritime community assure him that throughout their particular world the prevailing view of Ms Shacklady's demonstrated expertise and competence is one of near-total derision: "complete waste of space" being the phrase most often employed (and also, it has to be said, the politest).
In the current straitened condition of the public finances, one might have thought that with precious little States-funded development likely to be undertaken in the Harbours in the next few years, the need for a full-time so-called development director was debatable, and that the responsible course of action would have been to reduce the role to a 3-day week, with a 40% salary cut. That, after all, is the kind of measure that many businesses in the hard-pressed private sector, both here and in the UK, are being forced to take as they struggle to survive.
But, of course, this is the public sector, and Jersey. Where not only has it been decreed that this kind of cost-saving in the public interest is unthinkable, but that moreover Ms Shacklady actually requires an assistant director, no less. And where Harbours' business case for the additional post was allegedly signed off by a Treasury Minister otherwise exhorting (not too forcefully, it has to be said) curbs on spending.
It gets worse. Clameur de Haro's source reveals that the preferred candidate found the maximum salary for the post's advertised grade to be insufficient and unacceptable, whereupon the salary offer was raised by about 10% to secure the candidate's services.
No doubt all those people affected by the redundancies announced so far this year in the private sector will be comforted by the knowledge that the direction of Harbours development is at no risk of being under-resourced.
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Sunday, September 06, 2009

It's Another World Out There On Planet Public Sector

Clameur de Haro notes with exasperation that, while Jersey's wealth and tax revenue generating, but currently hard-pressed, private sector continues to shed staff as it struggles with reduced profitability and business volumes, the public sector in contrast appears to remain blissfully recession-proof - certainly as far as ongoing recruitment to the public payroll is concerned.
A quick look at the jobs vacancies section of the http://www.gov.je/ website reveals that "States of Jersey" is the second highest category for current vacancies, including this one -
Apart from the obvious irony inherent in upping headcount by recruiting a "workforce planner", CdeH wonders why, in a time of financial stringency, this isn't a function automatically required of Departmental Chief Executives and/or their existing senior staff as part of their core management role, and why it's necessary to hire an additional resource to undertake it, particularly when, assuming the part-time nature amounts to, say, a 25-hour week, the total employment costs are likely to approach at least an additional £35k on to the public payroll.
Why is no politician questioning this seemingly relentless expansion of public sector employment?
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Rebels Against The Future

Clameur de Haro was torn between whether to laugh or cry yesterday on reading in the Jersey Evening [sic] Post about the sputtering outrage of local retailers, echoed by David Warr of the Chamber of Commerce, at Jersey Post’s initiative to inflict on deliver to every home in Jersey a copy of the Argos catalogue.
[Although one does so hope that it will be only one copy – according to the report’s author, Carly Lockhart, “thousands of Argos catalogues are being delivered to every Island household” – er, that’s rather a lot of catalogues]. CdeH’s, whether just the one or the threatened promised thousands, will be going straight into the bin, but that’s beside the point.
The grounds for protest attributed to Mr Warr and Barry Jenkins of Fotosound really are risible.
At the basic level, anyone can access Argos’ product ranges on-line, and can obtain a catalogue anyway by merely phoning and asking for it, so even though Jersey Post’s initiative does look a little superfluous for those and other reasons (CdeH has no trouble finding online retailers who deliver to the C.I. at only modest additional cost - and deduct the VAT in full as well) the criticism of it by Mr Warr and Mr Jenkins completely (but predictably) misses the point.
Although, and as CdeH blogged only a couple of days ago, if Jersey Post was to be fully privatised and have its connections with the public sector severed completely, the line of attack that a States’ organisation is threatening local retailers would become untenable.
Mr Jenkins and Mr Warr also betray a telling reluctance to appreciate, or acknowledge, that previous retailing and distribution business models have irreversibly changed, and that they are on the wrong side of the argument. Jersey has suffered for far too many years from the unhealthy predominance of producer interests – whether public sector unions, or retailers comfortably insulated from competition and free trade – and transition to a situation where consumer interests are paramount is to be welcomed.
Just a modicum of research reveals how uncompetitive local retailers can be. A quick Clameur de Haro glance into the window of Mr Jenkins’ Charing Cross emporium reveals some rather vague pricing labels generally, but specifically a Samsung VPMX20 Camcorder at £149.99 and a Sanyo CE32LD90 television at £329.99. The Camcorder is available online at anything from £135 (and approximately £125 ex-VAT at Amazon), while the TV is retailed online from £292.95 ex-VAT. Can Mr Jenkins or Mr Warr provide any kind of convincing reason as to why prospective purchasers should not take advantage of these savings?
Clameur de Haro doubts it. Their grievance is, fundamentally, a Luddite argument: presumably in former times they would have been found protesting that their horse-drawn carters’ businesses should be protected from the competition posed by motor-lorries, or perhaps whinging that this new-fangled electricity thing was killing off their candlestick shops. Messrs Jenkins, Warr et al may bleat as long as they like that the high rents, rates and overheads they are forced to pay choose to endure inhibit them from matching internet retailers on price. But that, although arguably a problem for them, is not one for their prospective customers.
Jersey retailers also typically appear to hold low stock inventories, leading to either restricted choice of product or unacceptably long delivery times, and obtaining spares is often well-nigh impossible, with more than a few shop staff showing little interest in providing a service capable of fulfilling customers’ requirements. Mr Warr moreover is on record in the past as saying that consumers’ expressed preferences for lower prices are not really that at all.
Consumers are proving him wrong with every mouse-click. Competition, choice, and free trade – long may they flourish.
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Saturday, September 05, 2009

The JDA's Scintillating Standards of Numeracy

In this blogpost today, the JDA's "Pandora", perhaps a little lacking in awareness of matters mathematical, refers us to Mahatma Gandhi's own list of 7 deadly sins - and then purports to enunciate them as requiring display at the entrance to the States' Chamber for all to read.
However, complete fulfilment of that exhortation may unfortunately prove slightly problematical, as the list contains only 6.
If this is indicative of the JDA's grasp of numbers, Heaven help us all should one of them ever succeed in getting into a position to influence economic or taxation policy.
However, there is, as they say, some previous form here - Clameur de Haro recalls that, last December, Geoff Southern appeared to think that obtaining the least number of votes in States' elections to ministerial positions somehow meant that he was actually the preferred choice of members.
CdeH wonders if the missing 7th deadly sin was perhaps "Electioneering without Fraud". That might explain its omission, on the grounds of potential embarrassment.
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Another Example of the All-Intrusive State

The suffocating embrace of Jersey's increasingly all-intrusive state continues, it seems, to grow apace.
Clameur de Haro has received the missive below from the rather grandiosely-titled Assistant Director, Environmental Protection, reminding him that oil spillage can (only can?) cause long-term damage to the environment (well Good Heavens - whoever would have guessed?) and enjoining him to affix to his oil tank a sticker urging preventive measures apparently derived, not so much from accumulated environmental expertise, as from the Handbook of the Bleedin' Obvious.

Check, CdeH is beseeched, the oil level in your tank before ordering more oil: gosh, never would have thought to do that.

Now Clameur de Haro would never, other than indulging in a little urinary extraction at the expense of the jobsworths, decry the need to protect our natural environment from avoidable pollution of this type (the need to expose and attack constantly the fallacies of the Great Anthropogenic Climate Change Scam being an entirely different matter). But there are a couple of aspects here which are troubling - apart from the obvious one of yet more public expense.

Firstly, to what extent was the public made aware that the 2007 Building Bye-Laws contained a provision requiring the display of an oil care sticker on domestic oil tanks? This in itself is a comparatively innocuous requirement, but what if it had been something altogether more drastic and far-reaching? Building Bye-Laws are either made by the Minister or go through the States Assembly on the nod with precious little scrutiny, so where was the information to the public?

Secondly, and even more disturbing, just how is the Planning and Environment Department aware that Clameur de Haro even has an oil tank? The majority of his neighbours use gas, and his tank installation was not one that required planning permission at the time it was undertaken, so from where, precisely, is P&E's information derived? The obvious inference has to be that it came from the oil suppliers, who presumably made their customer databases (and what else? - amount of oil usage?) available to P&E for the purposes of the latter's mailshot.

If so, then the oil suppliers have quite possibly breached local data protection legislation, and the States of Jersey in turn have either been complicit, or even procured the breach. CdeH provides personal information to his oil suppliers for the purposes of his business relationship with them, not in the expectation that it will be passed on to the agents of the state, and he will be taking this up with them.

Perhaps Jersey's Data Protection Commissioner, one of the few senior public officials for whom CdeH has much time, could adjudicate.

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Climate Change Nonsense No 106 – Birmingham To Boil This Century

Clameur de Haro notes that, according to the latest press release put out by the departmental acolytes of the eco-mental UK Minister for Energy and Climate Change [sic], the distinctly shifty and snivelling Ed Miliband, busily applying as much as possible of the cultural marxism learned at the knee of his marxist-historian father, the unfortunate inhabitants of the West Midlands are going to have rather a torrid time of it in the coming decades.
For Milipede’s minions predict that by 2080, the temperature for the hottest day of the year could increase by 100°C. And no, you didn’t misread that - 100°C – it says so here. It sure is going to be hot over there in Birmingham, England.
Yes, of course it's a typo. But considering the ridicule justifiably heaped on the UK Met Office for its predictions of a “barbecue summer” (according to the National Environment Research Council, July was (1) “distinctly autumnal”, (2) the third wet July in succession, and (3) the wettest since 1888), and the opprobrium rightly poured on the Hadley Centre for attempting to keep its climate record data (inconveniently verifying general cooling since 1998) secret, CdeH would have thought that the useless DECC might have hesitated just a little before predicting a rise of even 10°C.
It’s enough to make your blood boil – which, apparently, it will……
Still, the eco-fascists can’t let science get in the way of propagating the Green religion, can they? That would never do.
Hat Tip - Dizzy
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Friday, September 04, 2009

The Curious Inconsistency of Pink and Green?

Clameur de Haro was, like very many people, horrified this week to read the details of the appalling murders committed by a schizophrenic psychopath, the last after having been released – as a result of a long litany of failings by psychiatric and social services – to live in the community as an outpatient, despite previous convictions for murder.
It’s noticeable from this and other cases - nearly 30 in the 10 years to 2007 - of convicted killers released from jail who have then gone on to kill again, that a significant factor in the eagerness to release was the intolerable violation of the human rights of one person judged to be perpetrated by keeping him incarcerated, just to protect the public from the mere off-chance that he might kill again. A classic world-view, in fact, of the Gramscian cultural left.
Yet many of that self-same Gramscian cultural left are among the most ardent proselytizers of the fundamentally illiberal, authoritarian socialism-by-another-name, policy prescriptions of the Green religion, who harbour no qualms at all about imposing, on billions of people, the most drastic restrictions and penalties on individual freedom, economic liberty, and human advancement, ever seen, just to protect the planet from the mere off-chance that their increasingly discredited and desperate predictions of impending climate apocalypse might turn out to be one-percent true.
A curious inconsistency indeed……or, given that both policies necessitate the subjection of the majority to the views of the unrepresentative minority, possibly not………
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Privatise Jersey Post – Now!

Over at Jersey 24/7, Clameur de Haro’s fellow-blogger made the point a couple of days ago that it’s time Jersey Post was sold off. His reasoning was based specifically on the potential damage likely to be inflicted on the local retail sector by Jersey Post’s new Ship2Me service, but he is undoubtedly right in the wider context as well. The case for the full privatisation of this business and its disposal out of public sector ownership and control entirely is overwhelming.
Initially, the economic philosophy argument. Generally, being naturally less efficient than private enterprise, government should restrict itself to providing only those services which the private sector is unable or unwilling to provide. Throughout Europe, mail and postal services are increasingly shown to be capable of being willingly delivered by the private sector at reasonable cost and to an acceptable return. Where is the compelling evidence that Jersey is an exception?
Subsequently, the practical points. A Jersey Post continuing in even partial public sector ownership is undesirable on at least three counts: firstly, it’s a monopoly, which is bad enough; secondly, it’s a public sector monopoly, which is even worse; and thirdly, it’s a unionised public sector monopoly, which virtually guarantees sub-optimal operation and unresponsive customer service.
Any reader who doubts the latter should try visiting Broad Street on a busy lunchtime and noting what proportion of total counter positions are actually open. Rarely does the ratio exceed 50% (even during the long queues of the annual pre-Christmas rush): presumably this is mainly because of union resistance to instituting shift patterns which would deploy the greatest numbers of customer-facing staff precisely at the times of peak customer demand, exacerbated by an inherent management disincentive, stemming from the business’ position as a semi-state-owned monopoly with guaranteed protection from competition, to even tackle this issue.
Does anyone really imagine that this degree of insensitivity to customer demand could be sustained if Jersey Post was a 100% private sector enterprise accountable to multiple shareholders, and forced moreover to compete with other mail service providers on price and service levels? As many of CdeH’s acquaintances have remarked, it was only the arrival of Sure and the ending of Jersey Telecoms’ monopoly which forced JT to provide a retail facility in the main shopping precinct.
And then, to add insult to injury, in recent years the wealth-creating private sector has had to endure the sight of Jersey Post executives both publishing excessively self-congratulatory annual statements and paying themselves handsome bonuses commensurate with private sector out-performance in the face of stiff competition; totally unjustified in the case of a protected, esentially public sector monopoly.
It’s a fairly openly-expressed opinion in the Island’s financial and business community that when the full disposal of Jersey Post was looked at a few years ago, potential buyers were scared off by the size and extent of the potential future liabilities represented by the (typically for the public sector) exceptionally generous but under-funded employees’ pension scheme. And that only by promising that the taxpayer, rather than the purchasers, would retain these liabilities could the States even get potential buyers to pursue their initial interest.
Neither that particular issue, nor the strength of the conceptual argument for full privatisation, nor the opportunity cost to the Island of the States’ non-realisation of this asset at a time of financial stringency, are going to go away at any time in the foreseeable future. And transferring Jersey Post to private ownership in its entirety would also blunt the criticisms from retailers about its (totally legitimate) expansion of fulfilment business on the grounds of its public sector component.
It’s vital therefore that the States develop the resolve to resist and defeat the inevitable specious arguments – which will be superficially predicated on fears of reduced customer service, but will actually be founded on ideological committment to state ownership and hostility to private enterprise – and move to end both Jersey Post’s increasingly indefensible monopoly and its protected, even quasi-public sector, status.
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