Tag Archives: The Times

Finger in a dike

We have all heard the story of the boy who stopped a flood by putting his finger in a dike; Robin Williams made a reference to it and women in comfortable shoes in the past (whatever that means). The story is known, the act sounds just too ridiculous, because any flood that can be stopped with a finger is one that will not amount to much flooding. Yet the story behind it is very different. You see, the story is about the dangerous Muskrats, who dig themselves boroughs in dikes. These boroughs have canals that can go for hundreds of feet and as the Muskrat population grows, the dikes and dams they are in could be damaged beyond normal repair and that is when the dangers start, because dikes are important in the Netherlands. A large part of it is vastly below sea level, meaning that such a loss could have impacted safe living in that place. Muskrats are also fierce fighters and feeders, meaning that as their population grows, the other animals become extinct. Even as that rat has a usual lifespan for a year, in that year it can reap damage that only people can match. So as we consider the damage a year brings, we need to now consider todays story in the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/may/14/freedom-of-information-act-document-leaks-could-become-criminal), where we see: “criminalise passing on information discoverable under FOI requests“, so basically any news given, even when it can be obtained by an FOI request can become an issue that follows prosecution and even conviction? How is anyone allowed to pass this as law allowed in office, especially as he lives by the motto that was a Herman Brood hit (read: I’ll never be clever). There is a weighting here. I for one have spoken out against the non-accountability of the press. The one time they got scared (read: The Leveson enquiry), they started to scream foul and promise bettering themselves. A promise some of the press broke even before the ink of that promised dried. Yet there is in equal measure a need to keep the people correctly and decently informed. There is a need to get cybersecurity on a decent level and there is a need to hunt down hackers. In this places like Sony are feeling the brunt of hackers and until the authorities are willing to execute the parents (or children) of these hackers, depending of the age of the hacker in front of their eyes, they will not ever see the light and these issues will happen. In this, the entire whistle-blower thing is another hot potato and some politicians seem to think that the one will stop the other, which is even more delusional than my idea of executions to make a point. There is another side to all this that is linked. You see, in the military there is a strict need of secrecy. In that this Bradley Manning person is just a traitor who did not realise just how stupid he really was. The fact that he did not spend life in prison until death is another failing which has been covered by too many for too long and too often. Julian Assange is another matter. Basically he was a mere facilitator, we might seem to consider him a traitor but in the end he did not break any laws and the US knows this, they just have another need to address the ego of certain people. I see Snowden as a traitor, plain and simple. As we were misrepresented with a movie, a book and all kinds of stories, there is still the issue that things did not add up. The never did and never will. In this light a whistle-blower seems to be a very different needed person (I will get to that later).

The three names mentioned all have their own role to play in all this. In case of Manning, it is treason plain and simple, whomever got him off lightly did a stellar Law job, but in the end, he committed treason under war time conditions. Bloomberg (at https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2013-08-02/bradley-manning-s-crime-is-smaller-than-treason) gives us the view of John Yoo, a legal expert, whose view I share: “His actions knowingly placed the lives of American soldiers, agents, and allies at grave risk. In the world of instant, world-wide communications and non-state terrorist groups, Manning committed the crime of aiding the enemy, and he is lucky to escape the death penalty“. As an operator, Manning had access to do his job and he abused the access he had endangering the lives of his ‘fellow’ soldiers. In this the less diplomatic view would be that he was more entitled to death by hanging than some of those executed at Nuremberg. So as we realise that Manning soon could have more rights than an optional member of the press is just a little too insane in my book. In all this, as we see that part in a little biased light, we need to realise that the press has a need to expose certain elements. Yet they too are biased and they are biased towards advertisers and stakeholders, which is why certain military documents are placed in a juicy sexy light, yet the issues of Microsoft, Sony and a few others that clearly food for thought for a generation of consumers seems to be misplaced. So how should we see the less responsible acts of the press in that light?

The second part is Snowden, again, as I see it a traitor, here the issue is severe on all sides, the Intelligence community failed miserably on several sides as one person has seemingly access to systems that should have been monitoring access on a few sides. I saw within two hours at least 3 issues for consideration of prosecution of certain heads of intelligence for mere gross negligence. The issues found with NSA contractor Harold Thomas Martin III just adds to the issues in Alphabet soup land. In this there would have been the need of a very different whistle blower, one that could have walked into the US supreme court stating that his nation is in serious danger giving evidence free from prosecution where an ‘uncle’ of the NSA walks into the office of Admiral Rogers (current director, not the director at that time) asking what the f**k he thinks he is doing on the farm. In a system that is about subterfuge and misdirection, those making errors are often chastised in unbalanced ways. As they are about deadlines and being flawless (which is a delusion all by itself) finding ways to clear issues, solve issues and give support in a place that is relying just a little too much on contractors is an essential need. In this the US is the most visible, but we can agree that the UK has its own demons, the most visible ones were in the 70’s, yet the cloud is now a dangerous place and in addition, I foresee that the near future will bring us more, because if a place like Sony cannot keep a lid on its data, do you actually believe that the cloud is secure? It is not, because some people were pushing too fast for a technology that has issues on several levels. As the cloud grows the customer is no longest charged per Gigabyte, but per Terabyte, so as the cost seems to be 0.1% of what was, they are all seeing the financial benefit and they are clearly ignoring the need to comprehends data sizes and what to put where. As the sales teams are giving nice presentations on security and no loss of data, they seem to be a little more silent on amount of data replicated somewhere else. Which in case of Intelligence is a bit of an issue under the best conditions. By the way that switch from GB to TB happened in the last 5 years alone, so this market is accelerated but in ways that seems to be a little too uncomfortable and I love tech and I embrace it whenever possible, so others should be a lot more mindful and worried than I am at present.

Last we get to Julian Assange, he is either loved or hated. I tried to remain in the balance of it as he basically broke no laws, but to shed the dirty laundry in the way he did was a little stupid. We read all the things on how certain stuff was removed and so on, but there is an issue. In all this we heard all the military stuff, yet when the mention and threats of bank presentations came, he went quiet and dark less than 48 hours later, so it seems that some issues are just not given to the people, especially certain facts that should have been brought out. Here we see another side of the whistle-blower. I get that certain events should not be allowed out, yet when I read: “We would expand the Freedom of Information act to stop ministers and departments from being able to block the publication of information they see as politically inconvenient“, which we get from Tom Brake, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson. We see another part of the conversation, one that needs scrutiny on a few levels. The entire issue that a conviction is possible for releasing information that is readily available under the FOI is dodgy to say the least. There is a side in my that there should be a certain level of control on whistle-blowers, yet in that same light as we see too often that corporate whistle-blowers are refused the light of day by the press calls for questions marks on the earliest given Mondays of any week.

If the dike is to stop the people from drowning we need to make sure that the muskrat is stopped for various reasons, yet when that dike is also the road that facilitates for the shipment of toxic waste, we need to wonder what the basic need of that specific dike is. And that is before we see that the road facilitates for ‘Big Pharma’ to ship its medication, whilst the 1000’s of tonnes of pharmaceutical waste is left ignored, which is ignored by the media when Dr Who (read: World Health Organisation) is telling people that there is now a direct danger to newborns, with in India alone an estimated 56,000 deaths of newborns dying from resistant infections. So as we see very little of that in the news, what are those opposing the whistleblowing actions crying about? They themselves have become filters on what the people are allowed to learn about. Doesn’t that sound slightly too sanctimonious to you?

The issue that goes on is that these events are less and less an issue of rarity. The Times (at https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/600-tonnes-of-waste-dumped-under-road-dmttlzrkh), gives us, when you are subscripted, a view that “Up to 600 tonnes of household rubbish have been dumped under the A40 in Buckinghamshire, in one of Britain’s worst incidents of fly-tipping”, this is not some issue that is done with a simple truck, this took time and staff. This was deliberate and orchestrated. In this the whistle-blower would have been essential in dealing with such a crime, as it stands now, it made someone an easy £90,000 and the damage could end up being considerable larger and more expensive. It is anyone’s guess if the CPS will ever secure an arrest and conviction. So as we see the toxicity of the changes the UK and others could face. When we consider the final part “Thomas Hughes, the executive director of Article 19, said: “The Law Commission’s proposals would move the clock backwards, undoing improvements in the UK’s 1989 Official Secrets Acts, and setting a dangerous example of eroding freedom of expression protections, which may be copied by oppressive regimes globally”, we must ask what the devils own sugar did the Law Commission have in mind when these changes were proposed. By the way, the moment it gets adopted, there is every chance that any person with direct links to Wall Street will see other sides. This is what we get from the NY Post, “The Financial CHOICE Act 2.0, which passed the House Financial Services Committee last week, has provisions to keep corporate whistle-blowers involved in any wrongdoing from collecting awards. The act would also require the whistle-blower to try to stop violations from happening within their company — a stipulation that advocates fear would force employees to choose between being fired or not reporting anything at all”, we see this at http://nypost.com/2017/05/14/whistleblower-bill-sparks-fear-among-advocates/, so you tell me who this is all supposed to benefit. As I see it, we see a shift where those who have not are stronger and stronger segregated from those who have and those who continuously want to have. A mere adaption from the battle strategy segregation, isolation and assassination? Assassination needs not resolve in death, today we see how economic and financial death could at times be much worse than anything permanently offered, although the mothers in India might disagree on that. The question becomes where does the press truly stand, with informing the people or with the advertisers they rely on nowadays?

 

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Age of darkness coming

An interesting article came to light today. Actually, it might not be that interesting. It is merely the consequence of a series of bad decisions by several people. The interesting part is that it was not a local thing. This is possibly one of the few times where several decisions on a global scale escalated one another into the move away from what at times now is laughingly referred to as ‘journalism’. The Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/apr/15/journalism-faces-a-crisis-worldwide-we-might-be-entering-a-new-dark-age) gives us “Australia’s two largest legacy media organisations recently announced big cuts to their journalistic staff“, up to 120 editorial positions are being wiped from the list of employment options. Apparently there was also the mention “Both announcements were accompanied by corporate spin voicing a continuing commitment to quality journalism. Nobody in the know believes it“. It is followed by the mention that this is partly thanks to Donald Trump. The truth is nowhere near Trump, the entire Trump bashing is merely putting in the spotlight what had been known for some time. There is however a side that is very much true and it is escalating into a movement that will change even further over the next 20 months. The quote “technology has torn apart the two businesses – advertising and news – that used to be bound together by the physical artefact of the newspaper. Once, those who wanted to find a house, a job or a car had to buy a newspaper to read the classifieds. Now, it is cheaper and more efficient to advertise and search online“, it will change even further and the bulk of the audience is not up to speed yet, but within a year they will be.

For me the messed up situation was visible for a long time. No matter what excuse the people of News give, whatever Fairfax claims, it does not matter. Consider the following: ‘Will you pay $2.4 for filtered news?‘ This question is a lot harder than you realise, because the definition of ‘filter’ is not a given, but it is at the heart of the matter. Let’s take a few parts to give you a little perspective.

2010, 2011, we are given all kinds of news regarding Grexit, a weird dirty dance where some players are ‘threatening’ to expel Greece from the Euro. We see the news for weeks, yet no one seems to know what they are doing and the papers are absent in mentioning a legal work that was published in December 2009 by Phoebus Athanassiou that basically inform us that expulsion is not an option, you can only voluntarily leave the EEC and the Euro. The paper (at https://lawlordtobe.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/ecblwp10.pdf) is a paper that comes from the European Central Bank, so why were the newspapers in the dark? Why were the readers not properly informed on this? All the value of a newspaper thrown into the circular filing system, value lost forever.

2011 Operation Weeting. This would be the beginning of a decline that escalated on a global scale. Most people took notice to some degree regarding the News of the World, the phone hacking scandal and the celebrities involved, yet when the world learned of the hacked phones of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, relatives of deceased British soldiers and victims of the 7 July 2005 London bombings the world did not react in kindness, those involved had crossed a line that a very large group found too unacceptable. Many went from ‘Ah well, celebrities!‘ towards ‘WTF!‘ and ‘Could this happen here?‘ two very different trains of thought, the Leveson inquiry that followed was followed by many and a lot of them not in the UK, when the conclusions were revealed we saw a group of editors shouting murder, fascism and on how the freedom of the press was in danger whilst none of them showed any level of accountability, this was one of the clearest coffin nails. There is more and part is not their fault. In this the politicians also have a blame in the matter. As the actual press (the Guardian, the Times, the Independent) were trying to continue to be the responsible ones (to the larger degree), they were placed next to tabloids, magazines proclaiming to be newspapers whilst limiting themselves to ‘Kardashian puts ample bust on display’ (Daily Mail). A lot could have been prevented by making these tabloids VAT (read GST) enabled. Giving the tabloids no longer a 0% VAT options would have levelled the bar a little (read: truly, just a little) against the actual newspapers in the UK. It could have spurred a larger European change. It would not have ended better for the newspapers, yet some of them would have had more time to change their product and business approach.

2012 Sony, this is the one that really got me mad. Two weeks before the PS4 was launched, Sony pulled a fast one. I discussed this (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2014/08/12/no-press-no-facebook/), in my article ‘No Press, No Facebook!‘, in this case the Guardian was pretty much the only newspaper that gave it any decent attention. A change that would affect 30 million gamers and the news remained absent. So where is the value of my newspaper now? It was “7.1. You must not resell either Disc-based Software or Software Downloads, unless expressly authorised by us and, if the publisher is another company, additionally by the publisher“, it was followed by a weak statement by a board member of Sony, but the papers and other media were quick to ignore it and none had the critical statement: ‘A terms of service is a legal document, a statement by a board member of Sony can be countermanded with a mere memo‘, the press remained absent! It all sizzled down the track as the TPP never came into effect, but the damage was done and now it was damage that hits the press as well as they were too busy with circulation numbers and facilitating to your advertisers, because Sony PS4 advertisement money is what all newspapers desperately needed, so compromising 30 million gamers (that’s Europe, with 5 million in the UK) was likely not a big deal to them.

These are a few of a growing list of issues where the newspapers are in a bad place, but to some extent they got themselves there. Margaret Simons gives us “Today, just about anyone with an internet connection and a social media account has the capacity to publish news and views to the world. This is new in human history” near the end. She is correct here, but she also forgets to mention that reach and quality is still and issue. I have, with my blog, a mere reach of 5-6 thousand readers, which is next to nothing. I believe that I offer a quality view, but that is in the eyes of the beholder. However, I am only a blogger. When she mentions ‘the capacity to publish news‘ is not entirely correct. Some are falling in front of the news because of location, yet these people are for the most not journalists and that is the kicker. Pieces that are truly journalistic remains pieces of value, the people are just having too many question marks. In addition, the people have lost a massive amount of quality of life, and the price of a newspaper subscription whilst news online tends to be free and the cost of living is going up is also a factor we cannot deny. Yet in equal measure I have worked in firms where they all had 2-5 newspapers on a daily base, most (read: nearly all of them) have stopped doing that, cutting costs did that to some degree.

So as we see the announced age of darkness coming into the newspaper business, we cannot fault their hardship, even though they themselves are partially to blame, yet in equal measure, it seems to me that quality journalism is becoming a nuisance in several European nations. They can hide some of the bad news in sponsored morning shows, there they can spin to some degree, but in a newspaper, and it is all about the relevant information, a side too many players are currently too uncomfortable with. Its fair enough that some journalists are trying to get around that part, but as too much actual news is given to us freely at a moment’s notice, many agree that there is too much speculation in some news, like ‘North Korea may be capable of firing a missile loaded with sarin nerve gas toward Japan‘ (source: CBC), yet in equal measure the newspapers have not been the utterly reliable source of news either and on both sides of the publications, there seems to be a growing issue with ethics to consider and that is even before we add tabloids like Daily Mail, Mail Online, and whatever Murdoch gets to publish. The newspapers became a multidimensional mess. I personally think it is because they waited too long to embrace the online community and that is before the new changes hits them over the next two years. By proclaiming themselves as non-accountable and considering themselves as too important, they marketed themselves straight into the insolvency mode. Yet, that is merely my view on all this.

 

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No Health Statements

This is not the first time that we see a level of anger non-management in regards to the NHS and the medical staff. The proclaimed shortages and a government in denial over these elements. Whilst the DMG Media papers (among others) have had their fun day. The messages concerning the NHS are increasing all over the place and when we start reading about the  ‘The worst conditions in memory’, we know that we have come to that place also known as rock bottom.

This in contrast of messages like: ‘Hospital pays £1,800 for an agency nurse to work a single shift‘, April 5th 2014 (at Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2597442/Hospital-pays-1-800-agency-nurse-work-single-shift-thats-163-hour.html), Paul Dacre and ‘his’ DMG media. It is not the only case, there was a similar story on July 30th of that same year. The Telegraph gives us a similar story on January 19th 2013. This in contrast with real newspapers, namely the Guardian who voices (at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/nov/01/nhs-spending-agency-nurses-cuts) ‘NHS spending on agency nurses soars past £5.5bn‘, with the second line giving us ‘Government accused of ‘truly incompetent planning’ after years of training cuts push cost of temporary staff way over budget‘, this is a situation that affects both sides of the isle as it wasn’t started by this conservative government, it started before 2010. Neither side of the political isle has given proper vision to the pressures building, and this current government is now watching from the sides as they need to find £25bn. That number is actually pretty easy to see.

Staff shortage, overhaul of equipment, shortage of infrastructure and an overhaul of the infrastructure to protect it from this ever happening again. In this we have two elements. The first is that the press is partial to blame in all this. Consider the speech by Paul Dacre “a kind of show trial in which the industry was judged guilty and had to prove its innocence” (source: betterratailing.com). I like the news in the Spectator even better with “unremitting pressure of fighting what I have no doubt was a concerted attempt by the Liberal Establishment, in cahoots with Whitehall and the Judiciary, to break the only institution in Britain that is genuinely free of Government control – the commercially viable free press“. Yet, Paul Dacre sold out his readers in an instant as he kept quiet on the changed user agreements PSN users were forced to agree to, just a mere 10 days before the release of the Sony PlayStation 4. In that, as I personally see it, he kept the people out of the loop. So as the commercially viable free press is betraying its readers. Possible because he had to orally please the ears of Sony? How can we have any faith on anything we read regarding the NHS, especially when it is coming from DMG Media? You see, the issues are very much linked. The people have been made aware again and again that people like this cannot be trusted. It is Stephen Fry who brings the best definition of the Daily Mail “the only good thing to be said about his Mail is that no one decent or educated believes in it“, which is pretty much spot on, and the news the Guardian gives us regarding: “Paul Dacre steps down from the post of Chairman of the Editors’ Code of Practice Committee, which he had held since 2008” (at https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/dec/01/paul-dacre-to-step-down-as-chair-of-journalists-code-of-practice-committee) is only the smallest of positive messages, even as he attacks it on the way out. Yet the Mail Online, which is owned by the mother company DMG media has had a long line of issues, among others with Tom Cruise as he was identified in a relationship between ‘Tom Cruise and the head of the church of scientology, David Miscavige‘, which might or might not be a big thing, what was the issue that the publishers were unable to defend themselves and even as we see ‘diplomatic’ responses like ‘Mail Online had failed to demonstrate that it had complied with its obligations under the first clause of the editors’ code on accuracy’, and as Editors’ Code of Practice Committee is part of IPSO, and they administered ‘penalties’ on a DMG Media sibling, the news that the Guardian gave “Regulator to reconsider whether the editors’ code, and its rules, can apply to a global digital publisher” (at https://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2016/jul/19/ipso-review-after-mail-online-fails-to-defend-tom-cruise-story), so at this level of ‘contemplation’, something I personally tend to see as ‘inbreeding’, they are contemplating ‘a commercially viable free press‘. Are you freaking kidding me?

This sidestep is essential, because if it does not come from the Guardian, the Independent or the Times, we cannot be certain of anything nowadays, so as we lash out against the NHS, its governance and the consequences its patients face, we seem to be spurred into a false sense of righteousness as we kept on reading regarding those £225 an hour nursing jobs, which should be seen as misrepresentation of the highest order! The Telegraph isn’t helping any as they publish that the NHS now has access to Artificial Intelligence (at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2017/01/05/nhs-trials-artificial-intelligence-app-place-111-helpline/).

The part that the Telegraph does show that is important is “Joyce Robins, from Patient Concern, said: “I find this quite frightening. People who are ill want a person they can speak to. Typing in your own symptoms and waiting for a result is just ridiculous – what happens if you make a mistake?”“, which is just the tip of the iceberg.

The issues seem to escalate and there are a few players in this dramatic comedy that have to explain their reasoning. I am clear in ‘explain’ because there are sides that I am unaware of, to boast not being unaware of anything is utterly irresponsible. Before I go into the separate points. I did make a case on several levels with ‘The UK NHS is fine‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/09/20/the-uk-nhs-is-fine/), and an even stronger case with ‘Is there a doctor on this budget?‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/02/15/is-there-a-doctor-on-this-budget/).

Staff shortage.
It is the easiest one to solve, but cannot be solved overnight. Yet the shortages have been known for close to 4 years, so what has been done over the last 4 years to address these shortages?

Overhaul of equipment, Professor Angus Dalgleish has been outspoken in the past in several ways, mentioning the budget of the NHS not in the smallest way. We know that George Osborne had cut the budget by 1 billion, which in light of the shortages was a bad idea, the question is, was it avoidable, if not, how can the NHS move forward? With the current unemployment levels, how come it is still so hard to recruit nurses and doctors? I myself have had a lifelong interest in Radiology and Anaesthesiology. I am not alone in this, although in the 70’s when I was initially studying, getting into law or medicine was only possible if your parents were wealthy or if they were in law or medicine (meaning that they were wealthy). Now consider what the governments have done over the last 2 decades. I am giving that frame because we have known for at least 20 years that there was an aging generation coming up. Now the press at large seems to be blaming the immigrants, they might be as factor, yet they are not the main cause. A UK parliament going all the way back to Tony Blair should be seen as responsible for this. Those words are very specific. You see, when we look at the NHS expenditure history (at http://www.nhshistory.net/parlymoney.pdf), we see that in 2004/5 and 2006/7, Under Labour Tony Blair, the expenditure takes a massive hit, it is after that during Conservative David Cameron that expenditure goes straight into the basement, both sides fell short whilst both groups knew that the increased pressure from 2013 onwards would be strangling any budget as the NHS gets to deal with an aging population moving into retirement and an increased need for health care. None of it got properly dealt with by any parliament. In this, a rough estimate would be that the UK needs to hire no less than an additional 2,000 students a year for no less than 7 years to get anywhere near the numbers we will need in 8 years’ time, because the current shortage will increase. Perhaps parliament should take additional looks at places like the Royal College of Physicians (https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/), we can agree that quality needs to be high, Yet when your annual tuition fee is set at £23,190 with an additional college Fee of £7,350 there will not be much appreciation on an international level, unless it is for private practice and that is where the NHS luck runs out, in addition, for the ‘locals’, £9,250 annually is still a big ticket, especially in today’s financial uncertainty. Consider the fact that this goes on for 4 years (the NHS is mentioned in several places to cover years 5 and 6), still, the average student will end up owning over £37,000 before they are actually earning anything and by the time they start earning enough to pay some back, the houses and their prices come across the corner, so these people too will try to find a commercially viable place. Perhaps they will go into journalism? Which is an issue as Paul Dacre of the Daily Mail (read: DMG Media) and Jane Dacre (President of the Royal College of Physicians) are related to one another, so I can only speculate with the question whether the Daily Mail news and Mail Online and others are setting a stage that is leaving a foul taste in my mouth. Now we all know that there are plenty of other sources making statements in the open, yet I cannot wonder if there is a sorted wave of misrepresentation of information is going on. We all know that there is an issue and that the NHS is in serious trouble, yet it requires drastic changes and a vocation that attracts many yet nearly null can afford is still a vocation with no staff.

Shortage of infrastructure.
This is seen in two sections, the people and the technology. Both are in a failed state. Even as plenty of people are looking for jobs, it seems that the infrastructure is under pressure as well. A cut budget as George Osborne had put in place is in addition incrementally debilitating to the NHS infrastructure shortage. Now in this I am not placing blame on George Osborne. The UK got themselves into a £1.7 trillion debt, the NHS is only one side of a national infrastructure that needs a budget, whilst the previous administrations have been burning their budgets like there is no tomorrow, the point has been reached where government credit cards are all maxed out, so finally budgets get cut hard all over the place. The NHS was not the first and will not be the last to suffer near death symptoms for some time to come. Unless parliament takes drastic steps and starts to change the way things are done and perceived there won’t be anything left.

Overhaul of the infrastructure.
The NHS infrastructure requires a massive overhaul, the NHS has to some degree failed itself. This isn’t just about cut budgets, this is about the essential need for hospitals to be lean and mean (read: not average). Processes need to change, the objectives of hospitals need to change. Larger implementations are required that deals a blow to the posts that have too large a cost. One if the implementations would be that alcohol and/or drug related injuries are no longer treated unpaid and only treatment when upfront payments are placed. It will be the first harsh response to binge drinking. It was stated a year ago that binge drinking is costing UK taxpayers £4.9 billion a year, which boiled down to almost £13.5 million a day. Now the researcher set that it equates to £77 per person, so in my view, any alcohol and drug related treatment will be set at £60 per treatment up front. Those who cannot afford it (spent their money on booze and drugs) simply get to wait outside until that bad feeling is gone (or they can die and decrease the surplus population, source: Charles Dickens). It is my personal view that it will take no more than 1000 deaths for people to realise that binge drinking needs to get to an end. This is actually small fry compared to Australia where the annual tally of costing is set to $36 billion and when we accept that the currency is only slightly below 2:1, whilst the population is set to 1:3 (only 23 million in Australia) we can honestly state that Australia is in a much bigger mess than the UK and if the UK adopts certain policies, Australia is likely to follow quite quickly.

If these three parts can be addressed, there will still be a dangerous time for the NHS, but there is also the option that the NHS will move away from near death to extremely sick and hopefully the death of the NHS will be averted. The alternative is to put faith in the aging population to throw their numbers in another direction. You see, at present, the death rate is down. Over the last 10 years it went down on average by almost 14%, so if the elderly could be so nice to do an about face and start dying more increasingly (like an annual average of 2,500 elderly per year), we would see a diminished drain on the NHS, housing prices more affordable, you see the benefit, right? Now, if you feel that this is so inhumane, than this is the lesson you now get to face.

To have a social civil society, or a civil social society, you need to be certain that you can afford to maintain it. As the political parties gave the keys of non-taxability to large corporations, the first step in having no budget was reached, as these players had no taxation, they still would try to find every corner to cut costs. So the car industry moved, fashion production went to places like Malaysia and Indonesia and sales went online via places like Ireland. It does not take a rocket scientist to work out that jobs would decrease and governments would no longer have a budget to play with, this is what we see in nearly EVERY nation on the planet, whilst the senior management places in corporations on a global scale left those few with more money than ever before and they do not need health statements, their incomes allow for their private physician with a nurse for the happy ending.

In all this, is this a story of hope? I am not certain, you see, unless draconian drastic changes come along, it might actually be too late for the NHS, merely because of the oldest triangle in existence. I am referring to the triangle of Places, Provisions and People. Any government and corporation can undercut one element for a longer time without consequence, for a short time you can undercut two elements with minimum consequences, yet there is no chance for survival when you undermine all three for anything longer than a really short amount of time. This is what has been done to the NHS for no less than 10 years, that whilst all the players knew that the pressure and needs of the NHS would increase and will continue to do so for no less than 10-20 years. What did you expect would happen to the NHS under those conditions?

 

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Matt Damon’s Quote

You could wonder what Matt Damon has been up to, there will always be reason to do this, not because he is an exceptional actor, even a celebrity on Mars. No, the reason here is his connection to documentaries. He was the narrator on ‘Inside Job‘, which got a well-deserved Oscar in 2011. I personally feel that this is the best documentary on the financial crises ever created. So let’s get started. Today, we see a number of news items reach the twilight of dawn.

The first one (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/08/panama-papers-22-people-face-tax-evasion-investigations-in-uk), gives us ‘Panama Papers: 22 people face tax evasion investigations in UK‘, with the added text “Philip Hammond also said a further 43 wealthy individuals were under review while their links to the offshore files were investigated further. He made the comments in a written answer to the House of Commons explaining what had happened since the offshore tax files emerged“. Now we might go all huffy and puffy on these tax evaders, yet when you consider the news from August (at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-31/ex-tesco-finance-chief-mcilwee-probe-closed-by-u-k-regulator), where we see “The U.K. accounting regulator closed an investigation into Tesco Plc’s former Chief Financial Officer, Laurie McIlwee, saying there wasn’t a “realistic prospect” that misconduct would be found in the case“, with the added “The Financial Reporting Council closed its case into McIlwee Wednesday, according to a statement from the regulator. It is still investigating the grocer’s auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and other individuals involved in Tesco’s accounts“.

This has been going on since 2014, they have not been able to find anything after two years and now you are going after ‘simple’ tax evaders?

My initial message (with all due respect) to the Chancellor of the Exchequer is “Mr Philip Hammond, are you out of your bloody mind?” You are still trying to get anything real on PwC, or were you ordered to let it die down?

When a company suddenly loses billions in value (also due to their own stupidity) and you cannot find anyone to prosecute and go to jail for overstating profits by £263 million ($345 million), whilst we also know that for that year PwC gave Tesco a 10 million pound invoice for auditing (annual) with an additional 3 million pounds for consultancy that year (Source: the Guardian). You cannot find anything and now you are going after people, where you cannot state whether they broke the law and you will rely on illegally obtained papers. How stupid is this?

How about you making the following change as per immediate!

a. Until the Tesco case has been satisfied, PwC and its senior employees cannot undersign any accountancy venue, or corporate balance for any UK corporation for 2016, 2017 and 2018 until the matter is solved.
b. In case wrongdoing by PwC employees is proven beyond reasonable doubt, PwC will not be allowed to operate within the UK.

How about them apples?

So far we have seen massive leeway by the press and the SFO has not achieved anything at all regarding Tesco. So it is time to adjust regulations and legal premises, until that point comes PwC will have to operate on non-British companies. Now, we can all understand that when we see the quote “McIlwee resigned as Tesco’s CFO in April 2014, prior to the discovery of the accounting errors, amid reports of disagreements with then-Chief Executive Officer Philip Clarke” seems to imply that McIlwee was not privy to, and not guilty of any wrongdoings, yet the fact that the SFO got nowhere in two years means that there is something massively wrong. When we know that so many millions were overstated, we seem to have a decently clear case of fraud, yet no one goes to jail. In addition, we also know that PwC was in on it (at least to some degree) and in addition, the subsequent Deloitte investigation showed more than initially was found means that there is no scenario where PwC can be absent from guilt in the first or second degree.

The SFO gave that Carl Rogberg, Christopher Bush and John Scouler were charged (source: BBC), they pleaded not guilty and at present the court dates are set for September 2017. It is my opinion that until all that is settled, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has no business whatsoever to dig into cases based on illegally obtained papers, whilst his branch as well as the SFO has no flipping ability at present to close a 2 year old case for at least another year (if ever). And as reported by the Times in September (at http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/tesco-auditor-slips-back-into-retailers-aisles-0gm9xt8md) that “Tesco has appointed PwC as an independent adviser, despite replacing it as auditor with Deloitte“, which gives my emotional and slightly inappropriate response “Are you fucking kidding me?

So, whilst the PwC issues were kept very low key by nearly all the press, whilst there is no condemnation on a daily basis by the press and even less success by the SFO, we should agree that PwC has no business being in the UK to begin with, especially as “Last week the FRC cleared Laurie McIlwee, Tesco’s former chief financial officer, of wrongdoing over the scandal, but added that its investigation into PwC and other unnamed individuals continued“, we could go by once bitten twice shy, or we could go by the fact that as the SFO is either unable or unwilling to prosecute PwC, why would we even consider their presence? In case some are considering a specific rebuttal, to them I would respond with the April article (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/apr/14/brexit-could-lead-to-loss-of-100000-financial-services-jobs-report-warns), where they stated ‘PwC report estimates 70,000-100,000 fewer jobs in 2020 compared with estimated number if Britain stays in EU‘, so let’s start with theirs and let smaller accountancy firms continue and allow for growth. In addition, when we accept the news by the BBC in Feb 2015 (at http://www.bbc.com/news/business-31147276), where we see “We believe that PricewaterhouseCoopers’s activities represent nothing short of the promotion of tax avoidance on an industrial scale,” said Margaret Hodge, chairwoman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC)“, so in that light, we could just send PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) packing, giving light that the facilitator of tax evasion have been dismissed from the country and as such the UK will see a decline in Tax evasion, no need for illegally held papers, no long and expensive investigation and the thorn in the UK economies side is equally removed. It will not mean that tax evasion is a thing of the past, but if PwC is send packing now, the other three might do a 180 degree on that clientele, which would at that point make the tax evasion issue moot, or at least deprive it from many options, which would amount to the same in the end.

So, you like apples?

If I am accused from persecuting PwC, then I would plead that I am not entirely innocent in that regard. I would bring the defence that the SFO has not gotten anywhere in 2 years and they are supposed to have the ability to find those culprits. Yet, as John Crace pointed out in the Guardian on April 5th that “Only last year, the public accounts committee reported that the accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was promoting tax avoidance on an industrial scale. To make things worse, it was first in the frame to benefit from administering the windup of Tata’s steel operations in the UK. So where was David Cameron? At PwC’s offices in Birmingham. Some might call it a brave choice“, in that light, there is an additional reason to give PwC their walking papers.

In all this the exchequer has one final issue to deal with, you see, accountant at large, including (read: especially) those at PwC are really clever with what they do, meaning that there could be no broken laws to begin with, making the actions from certain parties from 2014 until 2018 even more questionable, with a strong need to truly scrutinise the rules that accountancy firms applied and how they were applied. As I see it, there is nothing worse than to paint a lovely target on a person only to learn that the laws fell short and none were ever broken. If you question that, then consider the following two options.

  1. The SFO has, as it embraced corruption onto a new level decided not to dig into PwC on the levels needed to secure evidence for the prosecution regarding Tesco.
  2. The SFO has found that even as it is clear that PwC assisted in these levels of Fraud and Misreporting, yet when the books and memos were investigated for these transgressions, there was more than a reasonable doubt that PwC was not fully aware, in addition, there are no papers filed by PwC to implicate them in any way in fraud or misrepresentation. As well as the established fact that no laws were broken at present.

When you look at the two options, which one is more likely than not the situation regarding PwC?

In my book, the fact that a person is not guilty, does not mean that they are innocent. I remain of mind that shutting PwC down in the UK is not the worst idea at present, yet is that point of view valid when we consider premise 2, which is actually the most likely scenario? When we consider that the spirit of the law has been violated by PricewaterhouseCoopers, at that point we still have the issue that no literal laws were broken. Here we could set forth that the government (read: parliament) created the foundations and the setting where industrialised tax evasion and fraud became legalised options. Even as we saw that there was a clear case for fraud, the law has been altered to the degree that the facilitators cannot be held accountable, as such, an issue was created and until that is resolved, and PwC cannot be prosecuted (which is wrong in many ways from the point of a simple taxpaying labourer).

So, we now have the issue of the letter of the law versus the spirit of the law, which should be seen as grammatical opposites, not just in grammar, it is that they are also opposites of the soul (read: soul of the law). When one obeys the letter of the law but not the spirit, one is obeying the literal interpretation of the words (the “letter”) of the law, but not necessarily the intent of those who wrote the law. Which is what black letter lawyers (and accountants) tend to do, because a nation of laws is about a nation with rules of playing the game. In our case, in Common Law, until a case is set as a precedent in law, there will be no adjustment and this can go on ‘ad infinitum’ and Intentionally following the letter of the law but not the spirit may be accomplished through exploiting technicalities, loopholes, and ambiguous language (at times a mere comma does the trick too).

Yet, when one obeys the spirit of the law but not the letter, one is doing what the authors of the law intended, though not necessarily adhering to the literal wording, which could get them automatically prosecuted if the District Attorney woke up on a Monday morning with a really foul mood.

So, whilst we might agree with Margaret Hodge, stating “We believe that PricewaterhouseCoopers’s activities represent nothing short of the promotion of tax avoidance on an industrial scale“, the fact that they are not breaking the law, implies that no corrections to the law have been made to correct for this. As such, you only have yourself to blame and admittance of this failure to the public at large is an essential second step. As I see it, making a lot of noise going after people who might have done something like this, whilst papers are absent and whilst all parties know that this is because of illegally obtained papers from the law firm Mossack Fonseca is even less intelligent, as the people behind this have leaked these papers for their own personal interest and ‘late taxation’ was not their goal, so to adhere to the promotion of such crimes is not the best way to get results.

Now that we see claims rising towards Tesco for misrepresentation from their investors for the amount of £100 million, which comes on top of the diminished value, so I feel that no matter what, there should be a negative impact on PwC one way or another, yet within the confines of the law of course. This takes us to ‘The letter versus the spirit of the law: A lay perspective on culpability‘ by Stephen M. Garcia, Patricia Chen and Matthew T. Gordon (paper here). The part that gives us the cakes are found in study 5 on page 486. “Study 5 sought to examine another instance in which the letter of the law is not broken but the spirit of the law may have been violated“, which is where I for the most stand with PwC in the Tesco matter as stated “We also wanted to control for various counter-explanations that underlie culpability such as violations of social and moral norms“, with references to Bicchieri & Chavez, 2010 as well as Mazar, Amir, & Ariely, 2008. Yet in the first there is Tonry, 2010, where he argues that “the foundations for disparity causing policy choices lie in the cultural and social forces that combined historically to shape U.S. society“, which is interesting as this implies that the policymaker and not PwC is the actual culprit and my rage was misguided. Yet, is that actually true? The spirit of the law is not equipped, or better stated should not be equipped to manage the input of self-interest, because the spirit of the will assume the setting for all people and as such will force the text and derail the letter of the law (as I see it). Tonry goes on into the racial destabilising side, yet in my view the racial part is not the real instance, I believe that the division is that we see two groups One is the (white) social enabled group who is set to the game with preparation (read: legal advice) to break the spirit of the law and not the letter of the law as long as self-interests are served. This setting will at that same time destabilise the (black) group, a group that is suffocating on the lack and lapse of social options and opportunities, where without proper and affordable advice the letter and the spirit of the law will be adhered to, yet at a massive cost through loss of opportunity. This now makes PwC a facilitator for the wealthy to avoid breaking the letter of the law and to optionally, when unavoidable adhere to the spirit of the law. From one point, can the facilitator be held to account? I believe so, yet the area is slightly too grey for my comfort. It is the policymaker that requires to shift the grey area, so that breaking the law is a more clear setting and as such the SFO could actually create a situation where conviction (let alone prosecution) becomes a reality.

I still believe that PwC has done great wrongs, yet as far as we can establish, not in the letter of the law. I find them guilty of knowingly set the stage for managed ‘breaking’ of the law. The spirit is as much a factor as the letter, either should be seen as breaking the law. Yet there is diminishment as the policymaker is seemingly also guilty, yet the reasoning for that flaw can never be easily determined, so we can tell it was wrong, yet to what degree is not a given, but an essential issue to address. When we look at the policymakers, we need to ascertain the application that the paper discusses. “This framework broaches a new language to understand complex situations such as those that are not technically illegal but seem wrong“, we can see that this applies to multiple incidents. In those cases it needs to be clear that these levels of protection do not make the cake edible. It makes for a sour venue where those with legal advice can abort too many payments whilst the underprivileged groups end up without support, protection and options. I am speculating here that this is the (read: speculated intentional) creation of the haves and have not, which is a policy drip down effect when you implement a prismatic system, which policymakers from business and sociological fields seemed to have resorted to as they (tried to) implement laws, on the premise of a non-legal mind. Which is what is pushing the issues. The political field needed the business view of opportunity and the resulting laws are toothless against larger corporations who end up getting a free pass here with PwC as the facilitating office.

In the end I am more correct than even I thought I was, yet this should not digress from handing out the penalties that are needed to give a clear signal that the party is over. We have learned the hard way from 2004 onwards that unless we make a massive shift, this will continue a few more decades, as such stronger language and harsher penalties are required, because continuing on this path is far too rewarding for all the players that can afford to play this game, which gave me the idea to give PwC their marching orders out of the UK. I don’t believe it is too harsh, especially as they made 35 billion last year alone. So the question to you becomes, do you have any idea how much taxation they paid? I have no idea how much exactly, but we do know that PwC was elemental in avoiding Lehman Brothers to pay an addition £1.2 billion in taxation, due to inconsistencies, we see the quote by Mr Justice Hildyard: “It is of real importance, both in terms of good governance and a fair market, that HMRC should make every effort to ensure that this sort of thing does not happen again“, (at http://www.theweek.co.uk/lehman-brothers/77510/lehman-brothers-creditors-to-avoid-12bn-tax-bill) giving rise that larger changes are needed to bring back fairness to all tax paying people, who have not seen a whole lot of fairness in that regard these last 12 years.

Judges will soon have to science the shit out of these tax laws, making them actually fair to all, not just large corporations, who seem to be judged on ‘the Principle of least accountability’.

 

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2500 years later

Yes, it seems such a long time that Peisistratos, father of the Greek tragedy has been active, this was all voiced into life during one of the religious festivals for Dionysus. Is it such a mystery that a place of wine and a sad story is the frying fields where politicians feel most at home? This is at the foundation when we see another round for some Greek event. More talks (more wasting money on flights and expensive hotels), whilst the people have no clue, that they are being told another story. Like any good sad story, this too is in three parts, even though within the foundation, no one would have a clue on this. Now there is Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who got in place in 2015, before that there was Karolos Papoulias, who got his place in 2005 and before that there was Konstantinos Stephanopoulos who started in 1995. This is the foundation of the Trilogy.

You see, I discussed this before, the premise, not the links. First is an article I mentioned in my blog ‘Whinging from a desperate left‘ from January 29th (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2015/01/29/whinging-from-a-desperate-left/). The article by Prokopis Hatzinikolaou gives us “The state collected less than half of the revenues it was due to receive last year as it appeared unable to ensure that taxes and fines found their way to its coffers, according to a State Audit Council report submitted in Parliament on Tuesday by its president, Ioannis Karavokyris“, this means that the Greeks themselves are basically sinking their own ship. In one year, Greece has been unable to address the outstanding part which is a lot more than the settlement. It actually adds up to almost 16% of the ENTIRE Greek debt, so why should Germany play nice, as they are not at fault, they were not the reason and the latest puppet in Greek politics is not addressing the issue at all. Consider the image (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/live/2015/feb/17/greece-bailout-talks-europe-deal-live-updates), where Greece’s finance minister Yanis Varoufakis smiles like a clown, stares like a Vulture and casually stating that “an “honourable agreement” was within reach for Greece“, yet no mention that they will clean up their taxation system. Is anyone at this point catching on that a nation cannot survive if it is not collecting on its taxation? There is a nice PDF available at (http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/publication12298_en.pdf) which shows part of the problem. Now in addition consider this report from 2008, than consider the article ‘Greek Bond Sale Tops $4 Billion in Return to Markets‘ (at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-04-10/greece-readies-bond-sale-as-athens-car-bomb-reminds-of-upheaval), so when we combine the tax information that we got from Prokopis Hatzinikolaou, we add the fact that the Greek tax system is faulty at best (a disaster at worst), how was it that Greece was even allowed to go back to the markets? So if we accept the wiki definition “A government bond is a bond issued by a national government, generally with a promise to pay periodic interest payments and to repay the face value on the maturity date“, how can bonds be sold if your tax system is not functioning, meaning that repayment is not an option (50% loss in taxation leaves you with nothing to manouvre with). So again I ask, why were they allowed back on market and more important, why are the bulk of the newspapers not looking into this side? An additional part I also mentioned in my blog was “Of the 2069 Greek accounts in Switzerland (as mentioned in a Greek magazine), who besides the journalist has appeared in court?” the Journalist was Kostas Vaxevanis, now we see in several papers, including the Times with the headline ‘Greece shreds files on tax cheating by rich and powerful‘. So as this has reported to have happened just before the January General elections, we could argue that in light of the loud non-mentioning of these events by both Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis as well as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, as well as his three predecessors, that there is a lot wrong in Greece, the fact that the Greeks themselves are creating their own mess, why be nice? Are they not accountable for their own mess? So when we see the ominous text on what Germany will do, and how their 80 billion plus part could be lost, we must wonder whether it is not a lot safer just to cut Greece away. Lets face it, it will take forever to clear the current debt, they have no intent of actually cleaning up their mess and the rest of Europe might like a vacation spot where their coin gets them 400% more. Is it wrong to think so exploitative? No, not when the political parties are all about talk and none of them are about resolving issues. This is a side the papers seem to ignore as well. You see, debt deals and GDP promises and talks on ‘futures’ sounds all so sexy, to plainly report that a nation is beyond salvage because their political leaders will not bow to responsibilities whilst allegedly catering to the wealthy and the corrupt is just to plain and too direct.

So after 2500 years, the Greeks are reinventing their own creation called a tragedy, they are now however willing to put it all on the line, hoping that they get the same response ‘they are too big to fail’, but is that true? a nation with 11 million, no true exportable resources, what value do they have apart from beach front property? In addition, property that cannot be serviced as there is almost no infrastructure left. it was all sold on the bondmarket at 9.95%, not as bad as the 11% they had at the beginning of the month, but with tax collection at an all time low and no plans to do something about the 2069 accounts that Kostas Vaxevanis reported on, where does the Greek population think it can go to? We can see part of this from CNBC (at http://www.cnbc.com/id/102439432), where we see the headline ‘Worried depositors rush to pull cash out of Greek banks‘, when we see the quote “On Thursday, by mid-afternoon, deposits had shrunk by about 680 million euros (US $773 million)“, we must wonder whether we see the bank in a similar situation as we saw the Cypriot banks move to. So as funds go into banks, the deposits are lower and lower which means that the banks will not survive, or the ECB would have to up the financial support by a lot more, money Greece cannot pay back, so Germany is now in a place where accepting the 87 billion loss would not be the worst part in all this. So as we return to the old story of Diogenes of Sinope, the Greek that made poverty a virtue, yet in today’s world, the participating parties are devaluating all Greeks into a life of poverty, I wonder if the Greek population sees the virtue in that side. Will they react in Cynical philosophical rhetoric (founded by Diogenes of Sinope), or will they see the Irony, laugh it off and let the next politician take even more from them?

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The orchestration has engaged

It is nice when the world falls apart, when you look at the abyss in front of you softly stating: ‘It cannot get any worse!’, then you feel a foot pressing against the lower spine of your back as you lose your balance and fall down. The last thing you hear is ‘Guess again!’

This is how certain news events felt the last few days. I am not referring to the McCain family, who states that the press has not learned anything, post-Leveson. Was anyone surprised?

My issue is with Andy Street at the John Lewis department store (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/oct/03/john-lewis-boss-andy-street-says-france-finished). In light of Tesco, I wonder what drives this person. Yes, we all know that John Lewis is upper class shopping, yet is that reason for whatever you think? Apart from your freedom of speech, which I will not hinder, my question becomes, in light of your remark “He told the gathering of entrepreneurs that the award was “made of plastic and is frankly revolting”“, so not only are you a snob, the element grace is just not within you. Fair enough! Yet, consider that as you got recognised with an award, you should consider the 3 G’s, “Be Gracious, Be grateful, Get off!” (Thanks Paul Hogan for that jewel!)

I am all for freedom of speech, but I am also in favour of accountability. So when I read this: “Street advised his audience: “If you’ve got investments in French businesses, get them out quickly.” The eurozone’s second largest economy is struggling for growth under President François Hollande and the country’s finance minister admitted last month that it will overshoot the EU’s 3% budget deficit target this year. The French economy has been hampered by low growth and poor tax receipts in recent years“, I wonder how often Mr Street got hit with the silly stick in the hours before he spoke these words.

The second issue I see is also from the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/oct/02/warren-buffet-tesco-huge-mistake), this is an entirely different matter. We all make mistakes, so when a billionaire admits to this with the headline ‘Warren Buffett: ‘Tesco was a huge mistake’‘, it is not that big a deal initially, but then I went to think it through. Why is there such a massive overreaction in regards to Tesco? Yes, the profit was overstated; however, Tesco made over ONE BILLION! Can we please wake up now? In a year where most nations are doing worse than zero per cent, in a time when the straps are on so that we recheck every dime we spend. Tesco made over a Billion. Yes, I saw the statements ‘too big to fail‘, but in this instance I do not agree. In the case of the Dutch SNS Reaal, that place LOST a Billion, Tesco MADE a billion, so can we please wake up and not overreact?

So, when the response comes, ‘Well Lawrence, you seem to be overreacting here a little above average’, my response would be ‘darn right!’

You see, the initial events, of Blackrock moving out, whilst this is a drop on a plate, is what I personally see as a form of orchestration, a few big wigs who seem to be hoping on massive write offs for Tesco. There is something so darkly unethical about such actions, that these greed driven profiteers would endanger the incomes of tens of thousands just to get a nice dividend. This is what it looks like, am I right?

That remains to be seen, but overall the fight is not done yet. Tesco is not sitting still and the new Tablet as it launched just now could be another incentive, especially if we consider where Tesco could also be active. If this is the budget option, with Tesco Mobile in the Netherlands, This gem could find many happy homes during the Dutch Sain Nicholas feast (which is on December 5th), in additional to the Christmas celebrations, as many Dutch do both instances. Tesco is not done by a long shot and the activities that we see give me the impression that several actions do not seem to be about ‘cutting losses’, but as stated on many occasions that I am not an economist.

So, when I see this article http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/billionaire-mike-ashley-bets-on-tesco-bounce-back-30616710.html, where Mike Ashley, who owns Newcastle United takes a 43 million pound share believing that Tesco Shares will bounce back, I say “well done Mate!”, two thumbs up for this man. Now, let’s be honest, as this man seems to be a millionaire a thousand times over, 43 million will not seem like a big dent in his wallet, but the fact that this man is willing to enter more cash then I will ever make (even if I grow to the ripe old age of 14645), the entered amount will boggle my mind for some time to come.

This is one of the two parts where disbelieve is still on the front of my mind. Let’s be clear, I get the entire write off, loss of share value, yet the actual occurrence, especially with a billion in profits is too strong to be just a jittery action from the market. The fact that Blackrock moved out to this extent is still an issue. It left me with two options, either they know something Dave Lewis has not been told yet, or they wanted a curve so that they can make a sweet deal down the track. Let’s not forget that the value write off is just on paper, it is like a virtual event. Blackrock did not hand over these billions in gold or actual cash; we are seeing the fallout of virtual value (as I see it). And this all gets me to the final quote, which was also in the Warren Buffet article and had been mentioned in earlier articles. “UK fund manager Neil Woodford – who decided to sell his stake in Tesco in 2012 after its first profit warning – said last week it could be a long time before any of the British supermarkets became good investment prospects again“. Why?

You see, if he sold his shares earlier, fair enough. Yes, we see that Sainsbury is lowering expectations and shares have fallen there too. I think that all supermarkets will have to change their entire approach. We see that places like Aldi and Lidl are growing, especially in Australia where Aldi is now more and more a common sight, yet over here Woolworths and Coles remain. The same applies to England, in the end people need food, so these places will remain locations where food is bought and yes, as Tesco mobile remains competitive, people will come for that options too. All that is a given, so why such a massive overreaction?

This is at the heart of my foundation for suspected orchestration. If you are in the UK, then take a look at the papers and the degree that they are looking at Pricewaterhouse Coopers. They did the auditing for Tesco, so why is not every reporter looking at PwC and seeing what links might be there, which is not an accusation, but consider all the redigesting we see on several papers, they all mention PwC in a casual way, when they have been auditing Tesco for some time. Only the Times (at http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/business/industries/banking/article4214689.ece) had done so, yet the full article is not available to me as I am not a subscriber (one of the reasons why I stick to the Guardian).

There are two more quotes the first is “Shorting Tesco has been a profitable bet” and “Traders gamble on falling share prices by borrowing equities from other investors and selling them in the hope of later buying them back cheaper – known as shorting” The latter quote comes from http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-2772107/Dont-shred-thing-new-Tesco-chief-warns-staff.html, so it is a way to make money, even though it seems unethical, the act is not, but one could call it questionable. This is the one moment where I need to ask the one question in regards to the given scenario. Let me first add the following quote “Lewis’s ‘no shredding’ order will be seen as a sign that he is determined to get to the bottom of the problem.  It also indicates that the group fears the errors – whether or not deliberate – may extend deep into the company“, as well as “Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Mike Dennis said: ‘A discrepancy of this size suggests this is not just the behaviour of a few individuals, but behaviour instilled by the senior management team“, which is where I was all along. Is this the case and if that part was known to 1-2 insiders, could this be the reason for certain action? What if Blackrock dumped its part to cause a stronger downfall, so that they can buy it again later with a much more interesting profit curve, which makes up for a lot more than the small loss they had, what happens then?

All valid questions, I just wonder if those who have actual answers are willing to give them, because it looks like a slippery slope of massive proportions. As this happens to the one place that feeds a nation, how will the people react should evidence of intentional tampering ever be shown?

Then how angry will the people get?

 

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My £13,000,000 invoice!

I got a ‘nice’ wakeup call just now, as I was reading an article in the guardian. It is at www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/jan/14/ministry-of-defence-failed-computer-system. The title “Ministry of Defence ‘wasted millions on failed computer system’” got my attention. The UK is riddled with IT people trying to get a decent job. This article implied with quotes like “The recruitment partnering project, a £1.3bn scheme intended to enable the army to recruit online, is almost two years behind schedule and will not be fully operational until April 2015 at the earliest, the Times said.

Now, I understand that the MoD does things a little different and that this online approach takes a little time and money, but the fact that the cost of this system is more than the personnel costs of an entire regiment for 50 years (take into account that most IT solutions are usually set for a lifetime span of no more than 10 years) gives weight to the issue that it is time to go public. The additional quote “the problems are so serious that defence secretary Philip Hammond is considering spending nearly £50m on a new solution.” gives weight to my response “You pay me 10% of that and I will assist in getting the issue sorted

You see, any IT project is basically simple.

  1. What must be done and by what date?
  2. What must it cover?
  3. What are you willing to spend?
  4. Document the agreement and sign it by all parties!

The rest is usually political manoeuvring. (I apologise for oversimplifying the problem)

The fact that the article implied that the costs were a billion plus, gives the impression that the entire military network system got overhauled. This leaves us with the thought that there is a decent chance that Sir Iain Lobban of GCHQ is laughing himself to death reading about these events, so perhaps the loud honing laughter will move Defence to take a harsh look at themselves in the cold light of these events.

Do not get me wrong. I know that IT solutions tend to cost, and things get delayed, but this is about recruiting people, the price is implied to be set at thirteen hundred million pounds and it is already 2 years late. So, why was any amount paid in regards to a failed system? It is of course likely that those who delivered had a quality ironclad contract in place, yet the mentioned amount is extremely out of proportion compared to the non-working delivery.

The next quote is also one that opens debate “If the ICT hosting solution is not put in place then the MoD risks not gaining the appropriate number of recruits needed. Given recent criticism of army recruitment … and the use of reserves, this would lead to further negative media reporting and reputational damage for MoD.” So, the 2 year delay was not a clear indication of issues? I reckon that the spending of well over a billion on a non-working system is more than enough for laughter, ridicule and reputation damage for the MoD for a long time to come.

To put this all in perspective take a look at this quote from the Guardian made in August 2013 (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2013/aug/01/gchq-spy-agency-nsa-edward-snowden). The quote is “GCHQ now has liaison officers working inside MI5, MI6 and the Soca, the serious and organised crime agency. It takes the lion’s share of the £1.9bn budget for Britain’s intelligence services” so basically, the MoD blew on a non-working recruitment option, the amount that GCHQ needs to keep it completely operational (for a year).

Seems a little out of whack, does it not?

Now for some other fun facts! Recruitment is all about creating interest. Now consider that the cost to make a multiplatform next-gen video game is £15-£25 million pound. So, the youthful player could get introduced to all kinds of positions, challenges, military functions and so on. The development is when compared to what is wasted less than 2% of those costs. More interesting, it could be sold at the newsagent for £5. The MoD could break even, or even make some money too (which would definitely be a nice change). It is a game and it might not have all of the information, but together with an information website loaded with PDF’s, application information and a registration bank should never have exceeded £80 million, from what I envision at present (including the game development). Why was this solution not hosted via GCHQ? The people at the MoD might know of the place, it is in Cheltenham and it looks like a massive donut (Yummy!). It has better security and more options for facilitation than most secure banks can dream of (GCHQ is not to be confused with the NSA, where you can copy all data to a USB stick at your own convenience).

So, do I have a case here? Actually, it was not me, but The Times, who started it, and the Guardian for giving it the visibility that goes far beyond the UK borders.

I must try to be neutral in these matters and very likely the article is missing key elements considering the amount involved, but seeing how 1 in 7 in the UK lives below poverty on one side, whilst on the other side a billion plus is wasted to this degree is extremely upsetting. I have proudly worked in IT since 1981 and seeing events like these, just do not cut it with me and it should not cut it with you, the reader either.

There is however a little more. “This leaked report points to the latest series of catastrophic failures at the Ministry of Defence on David Cameron’s watch.” is a quote I have an issue with. The fact that it is 2 years late means that this was supposed to be finished late 2011. When was the project started? Who were the people starting this, who was involved? It is of course possible that this was all on the conservative watch, yet, that must still be verified. The mention in the article of “after failing in 2011 to challenge a MoD policy” on the article gives rise to the thought that this has for a large part been an internal MoD failing. In addition “The project management team was inexperienced and under-resourced and the army failed to take charge when delays started and put in a suitable contingency plan.” gives way to my four step issue. The first two steps, as I mentioned it, also cover resources, the fact that this was not met means that the failing was on more than one level. Who at the MoD was involved? Was this person aware of the required skillset?

All questions that should have risen with any senior decision maker before the project was accepted and the checklists should have tripped several ‘alarms’ as the project was going forward. The fact that the large amount had been ‘lost’ indicates that none of these issues were factually dealt with.

The article raises a few more questions, but the horror should be clear. It will keep on costing more for now and before Labour starts ‘calling’ for botched jobs, they should take a look at the issues we saw in 2010 (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/labours-computer-blunders-cost-16326bn-1871967.html). From that part we get the clear idea that infrastructure and policies alone are not getting IT choices done. Knowledge is likely to fix that; you just need to make sure the right person is on the job.

With the amount that has been spent, I feel comfortable sending them with my 13 million pound invoice.
(Payment within 30 days for this consult would be appreciated, as I have to pay my bar bill).

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