Tag Archives: budget

As a puppet

Have you been in a place where a person behind the screens is slowly shows his ability to give appeal? He is majestically moving his hands, not seen by anyone, hidden in shadow, yet the audience is delighted, the audience is watching a show of puppets, whether Muppet or Punch and Judy, the kids are in delight, at times, so are the parents. You see, the true master is not just about the posing or the dance of the puppets, as a master his voice give reign to banter, gossip in two layers, one that makes the children laugh and that makes the adults go: ‘Ha!’. The mark of of a savant. Yet, the bulk of them are not savants and in the political field there are at times a few people who are a lot less than savants and the media lets them, because the outrage created is what their circulation depends on. That was my view when I initially saw: ‘Doctors’ leaders accuse ministers of ‘callous disregard’ for the NHS’, a piece of work by the Health policy editor. We see a few things in the article and we all know that the NHS is in serious trouble. The part that stopped me was: “Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrats’ health spokesman, said: “Instead of £350m a week for the NHS, under the Conservatives we’ve seen the health service being gradually run into the ground“, you see, leave it to a LibDem to be clueless on the best of days, but just in case (because I make mistakes too), there was the small decision by me to take a second look, for that just in case moment in my life. You see, I remember that number, for one, I have never had that much money in my wallet, but I remember the amount in different ways. You see, the busses, the mention, when was that exactly a promise? The Brexit team bus (fuelled by UKIP) states: “We send the EU £350 million a week, let’s fund our NHS instead“, it is a valid slogan and it is a wish, in addition, the Nigel Farage interview on some morning TV show gives us “I would much rather give it to the NHS“, that is wishful thinking, it was not a promise or commitment, that came from nearly EVERY anti-Brexiteer. Now, I have slapped Labour UK around on their manifesto. It states: “The people of Britain are rightly proud of the NHS and we will invest £12 billion over the next five years to keep it working for them“, so we get a little over £6 million a day, or slightly more than £200 million a month, so where does this £350 a week ‘pledge’ come from? The independent (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/conservatives-must-make-manifesto-commitment-of-350m-a-week-for-the-nhs-say-doctors-a7739401.html) shows us: “Doctors, academics and public health officials have called on the Conservative Party to include in its general election manifesto a commitment to spend £350m a week on the NHS, in keeping with the notorious posters of the Vote Leave campaign“, which makes me wonder where the actual pledge comes from. So it seems that Dr Chand Nagpaul and Norman Lamb are both missing a few parts here (I am happy to be proven wrong), The conservatives pledge (2015 manifesto) was to increase £8 billion over 5 years, the increase goes nowhere near the 350 million some are muttering and this manifesto was BEFORE Brexit happened, so I am wondering what the article is based upon. If it was written with in mind the presentation of some think-tank, then this approach is a massive failure. So this health foundation think-tank is also moving in other not so clever directions. I could start that I had a solution (which only costed me 135 minutes to figure out and Google could get it from me for £15 million post taxation), yet they aren’t interested in a multi billion-pound revenue solution. And if this article is about spiralling pressures, well, we all agree and if the wasted £11.2 billion pounds on a previous IT project under previous labour, there might have been some space, yet the pressure would always have been there. As I wrote in previous blogs, the first thing that the NHS needs to do is change its mindset. That is an initial need on several levels. The ‘old’ way of doing things is no longer an option and it is weighing down as the cost of infrastructure is just increasing, that initial change is essential to survive. In my view (which might be flawed and incorrect) there seems to be an increasing wave of commissions in play and those groups are not free, there was a paper showing it and the reference is in my previous blog from January 15th 2017, where we see: “Coventry and Warwickshire NHS chiefs fork out £340,000 for advice on how to SAVE money” (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/01/15/the-views-we-question/), this time it is not about the money, well perhaps partially. It is about the 7 commissions in Warwickshire. How much to they cost? Now, this is not about their validity to exist, yet it seems to me that these trusts and commission groups might need trimming or reengineering. And that is just Warwickshire. This is what I am implying with the ‘rethinking‘ part. Yet, when, I ask again when did any of these think tanks go there in looking on changing the NHS and the costs they have? I am pretty sure that the media have not seen or reported on that issue for the longest of times. As I read now that they are looking to fill 80,000 positions, whilst I with three Uni degrees can’t get a job because I turned 55 is just obscene in several ways. And the entire ‘government must plug funding gap in healthcare spending between UK and other European countries‘, which is debatable right there as the Netherlands is twice the size of Ross-shire, with 16 million people in there, in addition we see Sweden which is almost twice the size of the UK, with 10 million people and 20% of that in the three largest cities. So here we already see three very different dimension of issues, making the ‘funding gap’ a bit of a question mark, in addition, as the UK is well over minus a trillion, the health care issue will be an issue and remain so unless some players start considering different paths, throwing money at it does not make it go away, you merely move the issue after which you end up having to solve two problems. So how does that solve anything? Well, I believe that we need to get the Universities involved and start brainstorming on how certain problems might be solved. You see, there is nothing like the unbiased view of a politically incorrect student to try and solve a puzzle, especially when political lobbyists are not allowed to ‘forge’ minds to become politically accepted minds. I think that turning the puzzle into a creativity challenge will get us potentially some options people forgot about. I found my solution whilst browsing a historical page on Scotland, of all the technological solutions, I found mine in a history book that predates that device that Graham Alexander Bell invented (read: telephone). How weird was that?

The puppet issue still remains. You see, the quote at the end: “Urgent action is needed, the thinktank says, because 900 people a day are quitting as social care workers, too few new recruits are joining the sector“, is an issue. I am not doubting the number as a total, yet when monthly a industry is drained by 18,000 workers, there are additional problems. When we in addition see a source claiming that NHS digital had notified staff on patches and we see news that Labour now wants to pump £37 bn in the NHS, we have several issues. For one, the unrealistic prompt for money that cannot be found in a realistic way and the fact that Labour gave out a manifesto promising the UK to get them a quarter of a trillion in deeper debt is a worry. The IT story is also linked to all this as it shows that there are additional infrastructure issues. If the endgadget quote is true “It seems this advisory fell on some deaf ears, which explains why only certain NHS Trusts were affected“, it clearly shows that the infrastructure needs an overhaul and there is a strong requirement to take a harsh look on where the money is going. The endgadget quote shows a STRUCTURAL failure of the NHS, and only an idiot will pump £37 billion in something that could be structurally unsound. That part has been ignored by the media on too large a scale. Oh and that is not limited to the UK, there is a European failure here (as well as a few other parts of the British empire, like Australia). So we need to consider that we have to give stronger illumination to the puppeteers, because, who exactly is part of the the Health Foundation think-tank? And as we illuminate the players in such think-tank, as the people have a right to know, we need to stop being puppets. We need to look at actual solutions, that is because I have seen a few ‘think tanks’ and ‘consultancy teams’ mentioned and even as we can agree that ‘£340,000 for advice‘ could be money well spend, it seems that over the last year there have been a few of these events and I am decently certain that these people do not work for free, so how much has been spend? I feel that I am massively underrating and could end up being equally massively underpaid with my £15,000,000 solution that would bring the project completionist a few billion.

It is also my personal belief that in many cases the person claiming ‘urgent action is needed‘ is also the person who wants the ‘victim’ to jump the shark so that they can coin in as large a way as possible. Yet I agree that the NHS needs acts that lead to solutions, here I differ in labelling the action as an act. The act of instigating change is not done in a few minutes and I do not want it to be wasteful, so people need to have their bullet point list ready (I actually hate those lists). Not a longwinded presentation, or is that ‘long wined and did possibly’? The NHS issue is in too critical a state, pretty much everyone agrees, yet the way how it is addressed and where the highest priority lies is another debate, in my mind (possibly a wrong deduction) is in the first, nurses, in the second infrastructure shifts and three the doctors. The infrastructure is important, not because doctors are not, but because the infrastructure has been showing to be a drain on the funds available. In that part we see that as issues are resolved more and more funds would become for both doctors (and GP’s) and upgrades. It is not that points two and three could not be instigated at the same time, yet in equal measure whatever infrastructure issues is resolved might actually give additional funds for more doctors and GP’s as well. It is merely a thought and there will be enough opposition, or better stated valid opposition to my priority list, it is just finding the path that is best walked. And in this case, I have the feeling that from the very beginning of the failed IT project that the NHS decision makers have been all about talking the walk and not getting any actual walking done, which would be a terminal disaster for any project, no matter how many billions you throw at it. It will merely be wasted coin.

 

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The military Pound

We do not need to look far to see that cut backs are more than just the talk of the town. They have been the talk of nations for a long time, and we have seen more than one system discussed when it comes to the need for overspending.

So, when many read about the fact that the military overspend again we might not have looked to be too overly surprised. It is however the proverbial straw that is breaking the camel’s back. This is what was said on Sky News on Feb 28th “Britain’s Ministry of Defence has been slammed after a report showed between 2009 and 2011 it bought STG 1.5 billion ($A2.24 billion) worth of equipment more than it used.

The article was short, to the point and ended with “The ministry is to introduce controls that it hopes will reduce spending on inventory by STG 500 million a year by 2015.

So, the British consumer will be confronted with taxation on overspending by almost 2 billion until that time? How is that fair. This is not the end of it. There is a lot more. This is the clear part where we are confronted with overspendings; however, there are a few more issues at play.

The New York Times published a story in July 2006 named “Pentagon Struggles With Cost Overruns and Delays“. In this example they went over the costs of the F-22a Raptor. It was a track from 1991 until 2010 that showed a massive amount of overspending. The response as stated in the New York Times was “We must transform the way the department works and what it works on, he said. It could be said that it’s a matter of life and death — ultimately, every American’s.

So was that an answer? It seems not. Because that same story repeats itself when we look at headlines involving the F-35. “$24 billion British budget blow-out in black hole F-35 project“.

It seems that the boys in uniform seem oblivious to words like ‘common sense’, ‘budgets’, ‘overspending’ and you know, words of that general direction. Now I am all for a good defence, yet the parties involved seem to be either completely academically ineffective (incompetent seems too hard a word), or those paying are really lacking a certain level of backbone. Especially when budgets are overstretched the way they are. Am I having a go at the Australian and UK admin soldiers? I am not sure. Who made these decisions? Who allowed for these levels of overspending? These are serious questions that need answers and it needs more then investigation, it requires ACTUAL actions being taken. I am not talking about some political inquest wasting even more time and money. No! Defence needs to take a look at their laundry and fix this. It seems clear and shown that this needs fixing on several levels.

In the meantime solutions must be found, especially when it is clear that almost all parties in the commonwealth have to tighten the belt on budgets all over the place. It seems very unfair that even though the military are to most the visible part to defend a nation, the people placing their lives in harm’s way on a daily basis are having their budgets cut severely.

You know, I have a nice idea, right out of the extreme right field. Lockheed Martin donates 1% of paid costs by the DOD to the Metropolitan police as a show of good faith. Not all will be happy with this idea, but several will be less unhappy and the way the costs are cut especially to the police departments. It seems only fair. Who knows, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe might arrive in the office on a Monday morning holding on to a cheque and wearing a large smile (be not afraid if that happens). The same could be done for the RAAF. I reckon Commissioner Scipione might be happy to know that in the end, overspending almost 30% per F-35 unit (an unacceptable amount of overspending per unit) the police force will get a small shiny future. The other option is for the RAF to order 14 less F-35’s and the RAAF orders 2-3 less and these police departments get those funds directly.

There is however a deeper part to those rumours. Is the F-35 too overpriced and are we moving to a previous model (the F-22)? Even though several sources implied certain noises, there is no real knowledge at present (or better stated, known to me) that this is actually happening. It would be interesting as the NY Times reported that the F-22 had its last delivery in 2010. If so, should we pay full price for a model taken out of production? Would you pay sticker price for a 2010 Toyota? This seems more than a little unfair. Not to mention that we seem to reward/ignore a blatant budget overrun for two planes by the same company. A ‘ploy’ they seem to have handled since 1991. That means they did not seem to have cleaned up their act for two decades.

So we have two issues.

1. Commonwealth armies seem to be overspending by a lot and on needless things.
2. Commonwealth armies are confronted and left with much higher bills by their suppliers.

I am not claiming that the military are doing this on an intentional basis to waste money, but it stands to reason that we should ask questions when the size of the British forces is set around 225,000 and there seems to be an annual overdraft of 800 million dollars. The Australian Defence forces are not without fault either. This was mentioned in an article by the SMH, however I personally thought that this article asked more questions on the numbers they reported, then on the actual issue.

There is another side to this, and this was voiced by President Obama on Feb 19th as mentioned in the Guardian. “Obama warns Congress over spending cuts: ‘People will lose their jobs‘”. This is not an unfair statement. Yet the issue that is not mentioned is that overall, the profit margin for those companies is often a lot larger than most commercial companies seem to be left with, and THAT part seems to have never been curbed. That was illustrated in an article in Aviation week by Joe Anselmo on May 18, 2012. There it was quoted that “A Wall Street research firm says defense contractors should be able to maintain their profit margins even as Pentagon spending declines“. That seems to prove the thoughts that others have as well as myself. So, these are not unique thoughts. These are thoughts that have been in play for a long time, so when we are looking at recessions and budget issues, it seems to me that there is at least one player in town who gets to play with a stacked deck.

I hope the message is getting through. There is a massive amount of needless overspending and there currently seems to be no planned solution to properly curb this enthusiastic method of an open wallet policy.

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