Archive for June, 2012

News and Views

I do this for a reason. I want you to donate to a children’s charity and write to me. Please see the About Lesley page or read the instructions at the end of this post…..

I have been sweeping through some of the news stories from the last few days. ‘Highlights’ include:-

  • David Cameron pondering applying regional rates to benefits. He wants to understand if it makes sense to map the differences in pay levels in the regions to the application of state benefits. A dangerous road in my opinion. Are there many differences in the prices of food, clothes and energy services within the regions? I accept that housing costs may vary by region and accept research on this may make sense but have a real concern that this will accentuate disparity between regions. Linked to this story, Mr. Cameron is concerned about pulling under-25s into a life of dependency and may also think about cutting housing benefit for the under 25s. Calling this concern rankles; I see this as cost-cutting and he should be open about it. I do loathe this habit that all politicians (regardless of party) have of cloaking their policies under the umbrella of caring. The Conservatives have talked about removing the ‘nanny state’ but when it suits they use the nanny language. Pshaw!
  • The aid watchdog Data have reported the European debt crisis has impacted government development aid to poor countries. Spain and Greece have made the biggest cuts and that is understandable given their current circumstances. However, overall levels have fallen by approx. 1.5%. None of this is a real surprise but shows again that the austerity levels are impacting across the third world as well as the first world.
  • Moody have been downgrading their ratings for some of the world’s largest banks. The UK banks affected were RBS, Barclay’s and  HSBC whilst in the US Bank of America and Citigroup have been impacted. What was interesting about the comments on this story was that there would be little impact to the banks. Historically the ratings from Moody’s and other rating agencies was a barometer for how much borrowing a bank could leverage from other banks. Apparently most banks now make up their own minds and don’t use these ratings so much. Is it just me or is that not a little scary? I am no economist but isn’t the behaviour of some of the banks what caused at least some of the mess we are dealing with now?
I close, as always, with this:-
  • Please donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are older.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

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June 25, 2012 at 2:04 pm Leave a comment

Taxation. One Man’s Immoral is Another Man’s Business?

I do this for a reason. I want you to donate to a children’s charity and write to me. Please see the About Lesley page or read the instructions at the end of this post…..

Well, I say, what a furore. Twitter is agog, the news is playing David Cameron on a loop and everyone has an opinion. What larks.

It really is like a bad joke. Did you hear about the comedian who met his Accountant? He made him look like a pariah.

People are piling on the bandwagon to express their dismay at Jimmy Carr’s tax avoidance. David Cameron called his actions morally wrong. I nearly choked watching that segment of the news last night. As I understand it, there are many businesses who have had tax debts written down or off in negotiations with Mr. Cameron and HMRC so to call the actions of one person morally wrong doesn’t really sit well with me.

Jimmy Carr has now tweeted a statement to say the following:-

I appreciate as a comedian, people will expect me to ‘make light’ of this situation, but I’m not going to in this statement.

“As this is obviously a serious matter. I met with a financial advisor and he said to me ‘Do you want to pay less tax? It’s totally legal’. I said ‘Yes’.”

“I now realise I’ve made a terrible error of judgement.

“Although I’ve been advised the K2 Tax scheme is entirely legal, and has been fully disclosed to HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs).

“I’m no longer involved in it and will in future conduct my financial affairs much more responsibly. Apologies to everyone. Jimmy Carr.”

Mr. Carr is working to make the best of a PR nightmare. However, I point out a few of his words – ‘Although I have been advise the K2 Tax scheme is entirely legal’. And therein lies the rub.

HMRC and the Government know these loopholes are there. I am pretty certain that they also know many of those who use these loopholes. If that is the case, why have they not been closed? If I was extremely cynical I could say that they are convenient for friends but morally wrong for those who are not friends.

I believe in paying taxes, those taxes provide me with services and support those who don’t have employment due to circumstance, ill-health. I know many of you will say there are those who don’t want to and take advantage. Yes there are. I believe if you can work you should work and it doesn’t sit well with me that many ‘play the system’. However, many more have this support because they need it. It is not simple but it comes down to the same argument, loopholes need closed.

As for Mr. Carr? I don’t want to condemn him but I think he could have asked a few more questions when he agreed to his K2. I hope he goes back to his Accountant and HMRC and has a wee chat. Wouldn’t it be lovely if he was able to make some donations to charity from some of the monies saved? I think donating to a children’s charity would make him and everyone else feel better:) You knew I would say that, didn’t you?

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Please donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are older.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

June 21, 2012 at 9:21 am 14 comments

Social Media Exile

I do this for a reason. I want you to donate to a children’s charity and write to me. Please see the About Lesley page or read the instructions at the end of this post…..

I decided to take a break from all social media for one working week. Five days. No twitter, no Facebook, not even Linkedin, not that I call Linkedin social media. I am many people get value from it but me I just don’t get its (business bingo alert!) ‘value proposition’. The other impact was that I decided to be blog-free too and that I should feel guilty about.

Why did I take this exile? I was saturated in the social media whirl, I needed a break to recharge my typing fingers and clear the confused mass of thoughts clunking round my head. I was starting to feel déjà vu in all my interchanges. In other words, I was boring myself. A person who feels boring is boring so I thought it best to take a little sabbatical before everyone else agreed with me. You can be angry, you can be sad, you can provoke, you can share too much or too little; all those are acceptable faces for the social media hive mentalities. However, boring is the one thing you should never, ever be. I am not sure that I have my mojo back just yet but am dipping my toe in the water again to see if I can raise a smile on my face or better yet, someone else’s. I will judge my performance in a few weeks.

I haven’t been terribly worried about ‘being missed’ while I was away. People have mentioned me but at its heart the world of social media is an immediate world. If you are there then you are at the party, if you are not the party continues merrily without you. This is a good thing. Certainly for facebook and Twitter with friending and following it is about there here and now. You are not there to cast your words into a virtual cloud and expect them to be admired, you are there to have a bit of craic and if you are lucky your words will resonate with someone else and a conversation will unfold. I am only talking about my own viewpoint and experience. There are many who use all social media for work, education, political discussion. I can be serious on Twitter and Facebook but reserve most of my serious for here.

So what did I get up to? Did I spend more time with family, increase my fitness, write a book, even read a book? I wish I could say yes, yes and yes but I cannot. I frittered my time away in other ways. I may have gained three stars in Angry Birds Seasons, 2011  and 2012. Oh the shame….. not:)

I did think though. I thought about this blog and what I want to do with it. There is the never-ending search for more readers and more people to donate to a charity and write to me. I could say this is nothing to do with ego but that would be tosh. Anyone who blogs wants people to read their words, to deny this would ring hollow. I want people to read what I write. More than that is my wish for people to write to me.

My plans? I am making a list. I want sponsorship. This is not for me. I want Companies who wish to advertise here and their payment to be donations to a children’s charity. If you know anyone who wants to advertise online please let me know. If you can think of Companies I should approach then please let me know. I am happy to write more to achieve this so any ideas are most welcome. You can of course message me on Twitter and Facebook and even Linkedin!

As for now, back to the party!

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Please donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are older.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

June 19, 2012 at 9:23 am Leave a comment

For the want of a nail?

I do this for a reason. I want you to donate to a children’s charity and write to me. Please see the About Lesley page or read the instructions at the end of this post…..

I always loved nursery rhymes, both as a child and then reading or singing them to my children when they were small. The night-time routine was always a story and then the rhymes. I would set the limit at two songs but it would occasionally stretch to three, four or more. One I loved was this:-

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.

For want of a shoe the horse was lost.

For want of a horse the rider was lost.

For want of a rider the battle was lost.

For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.

And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

A simple analogy showing how small things make a difference. Reading the news today I want to talk about a couple of small actions and their impacts…..

Firstly, an extremely distressing story, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-nottinghamshire-18345586. For the sake of twenty pence a woman was raped and beaten so violently she was unrecognisable. I find this hard to stomach. I ask you all, have you ever given anyone a few pence so that they can make their bus fare? I have, I think most of you have too. I have also seen bus drivers allow someone on a bus when they are a few pence short of a fare. Bus drivers are able to do this, especially for young people and late at night. I know what a late bus is like, I have been on the late bus a few times. It could be described as an ‘interesting’ experience. People are loud, drunk and can be obnoxious. However, they are still people and need to get home safely.

I am sure the driver regrets his action. I am sure those passengers who remember the evening regret not passing a twenty pence piece to the woman who was attacked. It is very easy for  me to shout ‘For shame’, I admit I am shouting it in my head. They were not to know the consequences of their lack of action. They know now and have to live with that. I am so sorry that the clock cannot be turned back and this woman would not have to go through such a harrowing attack. Her life will never be the same again and that a part of her will never recover, regardless of how strong she is. I wish her healing and I hope we remember this and have the pennies to spare.

The other story I want to cover is this – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-18353199. The headline – Unicef: Tackling diarrhoea and pneumonia saves 2m lives. Two million lives could be saved every year with a simple vaccination. I have blogged before about the stark fact that Pneumonia and diarrhoea account for one-third of all global deaths among children under five. Recent campaigns have resulted in the cost of these vaccinations dropping as pharmaceutical companies (finally?) recognised that humanity is more important that profit. A vaccination is now about £1.50. For the price of a loaf and a pint of milk a child can be immunised, those 150 pennies can save a life. Small change does make a difference.

There are those who read this and have a depressing counter-argument. This is hard for me to write but I know people think it. There are some who wonder if this creates another problem where a limited amount of food and water would have to be shared amongst more people. I say this; take one issue at a time and deal with that. Diarrhoea and pneumonia are not natural selection, they are diseases that cause children pain and their parents grief. I know that charities are businesses and have to look at getting the most benefit for their available funds; those choices must be harrowing to make. However, I know that many charities are focused on vaccination, it is not just Unicef. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Save the Children and many others want to achieve this aim. Saving children is the right thing to do, once this is done the next set of problems can become focus. When the problems are large then take them one at a time.

For the want of a nail?

I close, as always, with this:-Please donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.

  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are older.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

PS – Yes, I did send this post to the UN and will come back with any comments received….

June 8, 2012 at 11:29 am 2 comments

When Life Means Nothing…..

I do this for a reason. I want you to donate to a children’s charity and write to me. Please see the About Lesley page or read the instructions at the end of this post…..

We have all been reading about recent events in Syria. The UN has condemned the Syrian government for the Houla massacre, the Syrian government blames ‘rebel forces’.

There are many definitions of Government. Oxford Dictionaries online gave me a concise definition – ‘the group of people with the authority to govern a country or state; a particular ministry in office’.  I also checked Wikipedia to see a list of types of government. They gave me this list, I will let you study definitions in your own time.

Adhocracy, Authoritarian, Anarchism, Band Society , Chiefdom , Constitutional monarchy , Constitutional republic, Democracy, Geniocracy, Kratocracy, Kritocracy, Meritocracy, Monarchy, Nomocracy, Oligarchy, Plutocracy, Republic, Stratocracy, Technocracy, Theocracy, Timocracy, Totalitarian.

On another site the Syrian government is defined thus – ‘Republic, under authoritarian military-dominated Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party regimes since March 1963’. I think that speaks multitudes……

What is missing from Syria is a duty of care for the people of Syria. Yes, a simplistic opinion from me but if any country is to have a government then top of its ‘action’ list should be a duty of care. This is missing from many governments but it is taken to extremis in Syria.

The question that reverberates round my head – ‘How can anyone do this to their people, those men, women and children’. When you read the reports and hear how people were attached with swords and knives. How can one person look at a child and do that?

Do we remember Rwanda or have we allowed that to dim in our collective consciousness? We all talked at the time about the horror, the atrocity. We condemned and felt good because we condemned. And here we are again; another country, another set of atrocities. Sometimes I despair.

I checked the UN website this morning. They have a link to areas ‘In Focus’ and include Syria as top of their list. The statement found at the Syria link states:-

UN responds to crisis in Syria. The UN is leading efforts to:

– end the violence

– stop human rights violations

– secure humanitarian access

– facilitate a Syrian-led political transition to a democratic political system.

I am glad that they are stating this but want to see them work swiftly. I know the world of diplomacy is a (viper’s?) nest of meetings, compromise and back-channel discussion. I get that there are those whose stance will be a complete denial of the Syrian government’s actions in solidarity for the regime. I understand the UN has a fine line to tread; that is why they so often get criticised by all sides for too little/too much action.

Time is critical here – it only took 100 days for half a million people to be slaughtered in Rwanda. Do we want to see this again? I think not. Any time wasted in putting severe pressure on Syria means more people are wounded or killed. Some who read this will shout ‘Invade!’. I believe in diplomacy, in discussion, as the long-lasting solution but have sympathy for this view. I do not join in the shouting but it does whisper in my mind. However, how many more lives could be lost if this was done too quickly and those who are responsible for the atrocities try to cover their tracks by initiating more?

Today,  I ask the UN one question – how quickly can you fix this? If you aren’t quick enough then what are the repercussions for the civilians of Syria. What are your options and how swiftly will you move?

My last thoughts are for those who carry out these acts. I am not a vengeful person but I hope the faces of those you have killed haunt you. I hope you see them every time you close your eyes. When you take your last breath on this earth I hope that guilt and regret for your actions will be the last thought in your mind. I do not care what justification you give yourself today, you know there is no justification for this. You do not care for the life of others, I wonder what will happen when you are the one whose life means so little. How will you save yourself then?

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Please donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are older.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

PS – Yes, I did send this post to the UN and will come back with any comments received….

June 3, 2012 at 3:28 pm 6 comments


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