The NHS: A Guide for Americans Under Obamacare

Regardless of how the Supreme Court rules on the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (this was written before the decision), the Obama administration has indicated it will move forward with those parts of the unpopular law it can impose on the country.

Guidebooks are helpful when going on vacation. The U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) is the best guidebook for Americans concerned where a nationalized health system might take us.

For years throughout the U.K. there have been horror stories about declining health-care services. Last week, NHS doctors threatened a strike over a plan to raise their retirement age and pension contributions. A majority of doctors decided at the last minute not to strike after negative public reaction.

Rationing has arrived, with more than 90 percent of English health trusts restricting “non-urgent” surgeries, which include hip and knee replacements and cataract surgery. It took a freedom of information request by the media to pry this fact from the NHS.

Long waiting periods for routine surgeries are increasingly the norm here. People are amazed when an American tells them we still have fast access to our primary care physicians. In the U.K., one must often wait weeks for an appointment and then additional weeks and sometimes months for treatment, depending on the procedure.

Cost-cutting, not improving the quality of care, now seems to be the major concern of the NHS. The London Daily Telegraph last week carried a story about a 71-year-old man who had been removed from treatment for pneumonia and epilepsy because he was deemed to be too old and too sick. Professor Patrick Pullicino, a senior consultant at East Kent Hospitals, told the Royal Society of Medicine of his personal intervention to save the man. He said he encountered “significant resistance” from hospital staff. When Pullicino persuaded them to resume treatment, the man recovered and was discharged.

The story contained this scary sentence: “NHS hospitals are using end-of-life care to help elderly patients die because they are difficult to look after and take up valuable beds.” First the elderly, and then who? When cost becomes primary, what’s next? Suddenly “death panels” don’t seem so far-fetched.

NHS “looks like a supertanker heading for an iceberg,” said Mike Farrar, chief executive of the confederation that represents organizations providing NHS services. Farrar told the Telegraph, “Despite huge efforts to maintain standards of patient care in the current financial year, health-care leaders are deeply concerned about the storm clouds that are gathering around the NHS.”

For many, the storm has already struck like the torrential rain that has flooded much of the U.K. in recent days.

Here’s another recent Telegraph headline: “Lives put at risk by shortage of drugs.” The story says, “Four in five NHS trusts in England and Wales say patients are suffering ‘unacceptable’ delays for drugs to treat life-threatening conditions including cancer, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia and organ failure.” Drug companies are getting better prices elsewhere in Europe and so are “rationing” them here.

In the U.K., the question is not whether everyone can access “free” health care; it is the type of health care they will be able to access, and will it be high quality, or something less? If government health care isn’t working well here, why have faith it will work better in the much larger U.S.?

The United States doesn’t need the NHS as a guidebook. We have our own. It’s called Medicare and Medicaid. They are going broke and cannot be sustained without more borrowed money or sharply reduced services. When human life is regarded as disposable — as with unborn babies — and cost control replaces treatment as the main objective, then anything that enables government to reduce costs is possible. It then is only a matter of conditioning the public to accept lower-quality care and rationing.

Instead of keeping Obamacare, which heads in the direction of Britain’s socialized medicine and the resulting problems of reduced care and accessibility, the U.S. should enact market-based reforms in the current system (proposed by Republicans) that would expand availability and affordability while not harming the quality of great care we now have in this country.


Enoch Powell’s real prejudices are alive and thriving – in the rhetoric of the Left

Powell was a Conservative politician who warned in 1968 that Britain was letting too many blacks in.  He was widely condemned by the intelligentsia but praised by many working class Brits.  At the subsequent election, a common unofficial slogan was:  “If you want a n*gger for your neighbour, vote Labour”.  There are still a lot of people in Britain who say:  “Enoch was right”

What was the key prejudice in Enoch Powell’s infamous 1968 speech, which everyone is talking about again following Powell’s 100th birthday? It wasn’t actually hatred of immigrants, whom Powell believed to be ambitious, ferociously so. Rather it was fear of native Britons. It was fear of what white Brits, or what Powell referred to as the “ordinary working man”, might do if more and more foreigners turned up in their towns.

Indeed, Powell explicitly argued that “the sense of alarm and resentment lies not with the immigrant population but with those among whom they have come”. It was these people, he said, these “ordinary Englishmen”, who posed a threat to the social order, since their anti-immigrant anger had become so intense that to introduce more immigrants would be to “risk throwing a match in to gunpowder”. In short, “ordinary working men” were a powder-keg of unpredictable emotions whom the state should try its best not to antagonise. Or as Powell put it, “The supreme function of statesmanship is to provide against preventable evils”, including the evil of “ordinary working men” having their “alarm and resentment” further stirred up.

Even Powell’s most notorious line – “like the Roman, I seem to see the River Tiber foaming with much blood” – was a prediction not of immigrant behaviour but of native British violence against immigrants. Powell said native Brits, “for reasons which they could not comprehend” (presumably because they were a bit dim), were feeling dangerously like “strangers in their own country”.
So Powell’s speech was not only a piece of scaremongering about immigrant numbers. It was also a slur against working people, whom he presumed, for his own narrow political purposes, to be parochial, intolerant of foreignness, and given to outbursts of ethnic envy and violence.

Today, that Powellite prejudice is alive and thriving – in the rhetoric of the Left. In a wickedly ironic historic twist, today it is those who claim to be anti-racist and to hate everything Enoch stood for who maintain the Powellite view of Britain as a potentially atavistic hellhole, inhabited by resentful whites who are one provocation away from filling rivers with immigrant blood.

Of course, they have made a tiny PC tweak to this Powellite prejudice: where he argued that the arrival of more immigrants would explode the gunpowder of resentment in white working communities, they argue that heated debate about or criticism of immigration will do that.

Anti-racist commentators are forever insisting that allowing the BNP to appear on TV or other public platforms “gives encouragement to the thug on the street to engage in racist… violence”, as if ordinary people are empty vessels easily filled with anti-immigrant spite. They claim that in the local areas where far-Right politicians make belligerent speeches about the problems of immigration, “racial violence and racial hatred” intensify, because, apparently, working-class automatons hear something hateful and act on it.


‘It’s time to open the door and consider a referendum’: Cameron to give Britain a vote on Europe

British sovereignty to be restored and multinational government to be forced into retreat?  The crackup of the EU would be a near-fatal blow to the world-government freaks

David Cameron paved the way for a historic popular vote on Britain’s role in Europe yesterday by indicating he is ‘opening the door’ to a referendum.

Voters could be asked if they want the UK to stay in or out of the European Union, or to sever many of its existing ties with Brussels.

The Prime Minister is gearing up to resolve the matter once and for all – but not yet. He is considering turning the next Election, due in 2015, into a vote on Britain’s membership of the EU – or holding a referendum afterwards if he is still in No 10.

Mr Cameron believes it is too early to decide the crucial question to be put to voters: whether it be a straight ‘in or out’ choice, or a proposal to grab back some of the powers lost to Brussels bureaucrats.

And he believes it would be a mistake to hold such a vote before the dust settles over the euro crisis.

A source close to the Prime Minister said: ‘It is time to open the door on this matter and consider a referendum. It could either be a standalone referendum or it could be part of the Conservative manifesto at the next Election.’

Explaining why Mr Cameron has not yet decided on the wording of the question to be put to the nation, the source added: ‘Now is the wrong time when Europe is in flux and the whole continent  is changing before our eyes.

‘We need to see where everything ends up before we consult the British people.’

Mr Cameron’s hand has also been forced by the financial  crisis in the eurozone, which is forcing member countries to negotiate ever-closer ties.

The accelerated integration is likely to lead to full-scale treaty  renegotiations in the coming years.

Although cynics will describe the referendum as another Government U-turn following the Budget measures such as the ‘pasty tax’ and the aborted 3p petrol duty, the pledge is the  latest evidence that Mr Cameron is increasingly turning his attention to political life after the Coalition.

If he does call an referendum, it is almost certain that arch-europhile Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg would be on opposite sides to Mr Cameron.

Recent polls show a majority of voters want a referendum, and a significant number are ready to turn their backs on the EU completely. However, the result would not be certain.

In the run-up to the last referendum on Europe in 1975, surveys suggested a ‘No’ vote, but in the event, the public decided against going back on Britain’s decision two years earlier to join what was then known as the Common Market.

Mr Cameron’s pledge comes in the face of intense pressure from Tory backbenchers to give the public a vote.

Last week, 100 Tory MPs – more than half of all backbench Conservatives – sent a letter  to the Prime Minister which argued that there was ‘a consistent majority in this country who believe that the EU meddles too much in our everyday lives, that the regulation on our businesses is too burdensome, and that the cost of membership is far too high’.

They also pointed out that the EU is ‘very different’ from the Common Market that Britain originally signed up to – and that no one under the age of 55 has had a vote on the nation’s membership.

The picture appeared confused on Friday when Mr Cameron emerged from a marathon Brussels summit on the euro crisis  to say: ‘I completely understand why some people want an in/out referendum – some people just want to say, “Stop the bus, I want to get off.”

‘I completely understand that, but I don’t share that view. I don’t think it’s the right thing to do. There are other things I would like us to get out of. That’s the trouble with the in/out – it only gives you two options.’

Newspapers interpreted the remarks as a sign that Mr  Cameron had ruled out a vote on the UK’s membership of the EU, while Peter Bone, one of the signatories to the backbenchers’ letter, said it showed that Mr Cameron was ‘on the wrong side of the argument’.

Furthermore, Ministers were increasingly worried that Labour leader Ed Miliband might outflank Mr Cameron  by pledging a referendum if Labour won power.

Mr Cameron has hardened his stance in an attempt to seize back the initiative.

In addition, Mr Cameron faces a growing Election threat from the anti-EU UK Independence Party, which has overtaken the Liberal Democrats in some opinion polls.

Worryingly for the PM, many eurosceptic Tory voters are switching to UKIP and its populist leader Nigel Farage. There are also persistent rumours that some Tory MPs could defect to Mr Farage’s party.

More than 80 Tory MPs defied Whips to demand a referendum on Europe during a major Commons rebellion last year.

Government insiders say the most likely outcome is a 2015 Tory manifesto pledge seeking approval to renegotiate the terms of British membership of the UK if Mr Cameron wins  the Election.

This could see Brussels bureaucrats stripped of their power to decide legal, social and employment rights in this country.

Alternatively, he could promise to hold a referendum along the same lines – or offer a straight in/out vote – if he is returned to power.

By then, it is possible that  the EU landscape could have changed beyond recognition – and public opinion with it. Greece is already teetering on the edge of leaving the single currency bloc, and there is speculation that Spain, Italy and even France could follow it in the coming years.


The centre has moved Right, not Prime Minister David Cameron

The Conservatives are not ‘lurching’ to the Right but struggling to keep up with the people’s change of mood

So it’s game on, right? The next general election campaign has begun. The blizzard of U-turns in which proposed tax rises were vaporised, and that evangelical speech on the need for even more welfare cuts – all of the noisy shifting of rhetorical furniture which comes under the BBC’s heading of “Lurch-to-the-Right” – means that David Cameron is “re-positioning himself” or “redefining” his party’s message (or something else that sounds carefully planned) in order to set the Conservatives on the road to outright victory. No more messing. The Tories are sharpening their act (or reverting to type, depending on your political tastes) and making a serious effort to galvanise their core vote. David Cameron is coming home!

If this were true, the obvious question would be: if Mr Cameron and his friends now know that this is the way to win elections, why didn’t they adopt it the last time? When exactly did they discover that talking turkey on immigration and attacking the entitlement culture were more likely to appeal to voters, and not just Tory ones, than being soft on crime and soft on the causes of crime? If it is positively useful (as I’m sure Downing Street knows that it is) to have Left-wing newspapers shrieking about the return of “the nasty party” in the run up to 2015, why was it “toxic” in 2010? Why has there been such a dramatic strategy change and who is responsible for it? There would seem to be two possible explanations. The more hopeful, from a Conservative point of view, is that Mr Cameron has had an epiphany which compels him to embrace his genuine convictions: he is a natural advocate of free-market, low-tax economics and of the private virtues, and is now prepared to commit himself openly to these because he has learnt the value of conviction politics. I personally have not met anybody who believes this.

Alternatively, there is the more generally accepted account which is that the Cameron-Osborne project is now so punch-drunk with exhaustion and tactical disaster that it is simply falling back on the old religion. This is the view of the BBC, the Left-liberal commentariat and a proportion of the Right-of-centre press which has no more confidence in Mr Cameron’s revised set of stated principles than it had in the earlier version. But both of these theories – the optimistic one and the cynical one – are based on a false premise. That is, that something in the basic philosophy of the Tory leadership has really changed. In fact, the most fundamental axiom of Cameron Conservatism is that there must be no fixed strategy except for the one unalterable rule of remaining on The Centre Ground.

If the Downing Street clique has changed its position on, say, immigration or welfare, it is because it wants to remain where it perceives the majority of public opinion to be at this moment. They are not, as the Guardian comment pages would have it, giving up the centre ground in order to move to the Right. They are moving to the Right because that is where the centre ground now is. They are still standing by what they have always believed, which is that they must follow public opinion rather than lead it. Of course, this makes them look as if they have changed their minds – and are being wildly inconsistent – on really major issues: as if they are in the business of re-defining the party’s basic objectives in order to distance themselves from the Liberal Democrats in the lead-up to the election, etc, etc. But that is the effect rather than the instigating cause of their tactical shift.

What they have discovered about the Gospel of the Centre Ground is what many of us tried to tell them – oh, so long ago, when they used to thrust their opinion poll data triumphantly under our noses. The CG is not a fixed point at the precise mathematical centre of every public policy argument. It moves all the time. In the 1970s it was on the Left – so far to the Left, indeed, as to constitute a kind of soft Marxism. In the 1980s, it was on the Right – infuriated by trade union militancy and enthusiastic about share ownership. In the 1990s, it was Left-ish: private prosperity and the belief that life would always get better bred a “willing to pay more tax” generation which complacently embraced bourgeois guilt. That was the era in which Mr Cameron properly entered the scene. It was to that incarnation of the CG that he believed (or was told) that he must appeal. So he re-invented a Tory image that was acceptable to the salon liberals who, as it happened, were the inheritors of the paternalistic tradition with which he felt comfortable, and he seemed to assume that this was a permanent solution to his party’s future.

Now we are in the post-2008 recession. The electorate is hard-up, economically insecure and tough-minded. The CG has moved to the Right again: perhaps further to the Right than it was in the 1980s, when extreme Labour Leftists could still comfortably win control of local councils, as they certainly could not now. So the Conservatives are not leading – for some unsavoury or misguided reason – a quixotic charge to the Right of mainstream opinion. They are actually struggling to keep up with the people’s change of political mood and priorities. The idea that they are being forced to resurrect old pieties by a Right-wing press (we should be so omnipotent) or a few influential websites is absurd. Newspapers and blogging sites must respond to the demands and views of their readers even more attentively than political parties, if they are to survive. Elections come up every four or five years: circulations and viewing figures are a day-to-day test of the quality of a media outlet’s relationship with its consumers.

Paranoid fantasies about the power of a handful of media conspirators who supposedly manipulate the opinions of millions of people this way or that – with no connection to the real experience of their lives – are an insult to the populace. Voters, especially politically committed ones, are not passive lumps waiting to be told what to think by self-serving editors or vainglorious proprietors. Media outlets survive and gain authority to the extent that they are in tune with a significant tranche of ordinary people’s views.

If Mr Cameron and his party seem to be changing (or reverting) to a more robust, hard-edged social and political stand, that is not because they have been coerced or bullied into it. It is because they have gathered that that is what the people want. It remains an open question whether the people – who heard them espouse very different views such a short time ago – will be convinced that this time they really mean it.


The British public is more than ready to see benefits made fair

Public attitudes towards the welfare state have been hardening for years. The British Social Attitudes survey showed that the proportion of people who feel that benefits for the unemployed are “too high and discourage them from finding work” had risen from 44 per cent in 1999 to 55 per cent in 2010. Today’s Sunday Telegraph poll confirms that these opinions are not softening, with 56 per cent of people responding that benefits are too generous.

The recession has something to do with this. With families struggling to make ends meet, there has been a backlash against anyone seen not to be doing the right thing. This is true at both ends of the income distribution. At one end we have seen protests where CEO pay has diverged from performance. At the other end, the public is frustrated with the idea that benefit claimants are living off hard-working taxpayers’ money but not seriously trying to get back to work. Reports have indeed shown that some job-seekers on benefits in Britain spend as little as an hour a week actually looking for work. Compare this to the 40 or 50-hour weeks on close to minimum wage that many people have to endure and it is clear why this could be seen to be unfair.

The conditions placed on claimants in return for benefits can also be feeble. In general, three “job-seeking” activities are required each week, but these could just include looking for jobs in a newspaper, or getting a haircut. We need to get people doing more, so they get jobs faster. So it is right that the Coalition has focused on strengthening these conditions. The Prime Minister’s speech earlier this week is the latest in a series of announcements aimed at ensuring benefit claimants are serious about finding work; it outlined some sensible proposals, including that benefit claimants must have an up-to-date CV. But, while extensions to these requirements are needed, they must not be the only focus.

There are two reasons for this. The first is that, in fact, most benefit claimants are unlikely to fit the stereotype of “benefit scrounger”. These claimants are desperate to find work, might have children to support and could have real disadvantages in the labour market. They may be young people leaving the care system, former addicts or just long-term unemployed, who desperately want the steady job that firms are unwilling to give them. These people all need extra help to find work, but the current system does not distinguish them from those not willing to look seriously for work. Policy and public discourse must become more nuanced to ensure that requirements are increased for those who are not doing all that they can, but support is stepped up for those who need it.

The second reason for wider reforms is that the “contributory principle” – that people who pay through National Insurance and income tax get something back from the state when they fall on hard times – has been completely eroded. Families who have been working hard all their lives but find themselves unemployed because of the recession realise that they get nothing more than those who have never contributed.

With this in mind, it is unsurprising that a poll commissioned by Policy Exchange found that over half of respondents believe that “no benefits at all” should be given unless people have contributed. It was encouraging to see a mention of this principle in David Cameron’s speech, but much more needs to be done. In general, “much more needs to be done” summarises where we have got to with welfare reform. The Coalition has made a good start in ensuring that all claimants are doing all they can to get back to work. To really tackle the problems with the welfare state it needs to ensure the something-for-something approach rewards the right behaviour, as well as punishes the wrong behaviour, and that people in need get personalised help to find work.


Energy smart meters are a threat to privacy, says watchdog

European Data Protection Supervisor warns ‘massive collection of personal data’ could be accessed without safeguards

Hi-tech monitors that track households’ energy consumption threaten to become a major privacy issue, according to the European watchdog in charge of protecting personal data.

The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has warned that smart meters, which must be introduced into every home in the UK within the next seven years, will be used to track much more than energy consumption unless proper safeguards are introduced.

The EDPS warns that “while the Europe-wide rollout of smart metering systems may bring significant benefits, it will also enable massive collection of personal data”.

It said the technology could be used to track what “households do within the privacy of their own homes, whether they are away on holiday or at work, if someone uses a specific medical device or a baby monitor, or how they spend their free time”.

It claims the vast amount of information collected by the new generation of devices could have serious consequences for consumers and what they pay for their energy.

“These patterns can be useful for analysing our energy use for energy conservation but, together with data from other sources, the potential for extensive data mining is very significant,” said Giovanni Buttarelli, assistant director of the EDPS.

“Profiles can be used for many other purposes, including marketing, advertising and price discrimination by third parties.”

The European commission is now under pressure to consider whether legislation should be introduced to ensure that smart meters do not breach data protection rules.

All homes are expected to have their old meters replaced with the new technology by the end of 2019. The installation of smart meters will cost an estimated £11bn in the UK. However, few consumers are aware of the new technology.

“Many consumers don’t know anything about smart meters, despite a nationwide rollout from 2014,” said Zoe McLeod, head of smart and sustainable energy markets at Consumer Focus. “As with any new technology, there are potential benefits such as accurate bills and opportunities to help you save money on your energy bills, but also new issues that customers should be aware of.”

Anna Fielder, consumer rights advocate and campaigner at Privacy International, which campaigns against commercial and state intrusion, said consumers in other countries were starting to question the roll-out of smart meters. “Research in Germany, for example, has found that consumers say it’s really creepy and they don’t want Big Brother in their houses,” Fielder said.

She added that a key issue for privacy watchdogs would be the frequency at which information would be collected from the new meters. “If you collect energy information from a household very often, particularly live, even a few things at the end of each day, you get an awful lot of information about people’s lifestyles that can potentially be abused in a number of different ways,” Fielder said.

The EDPS recommends that states issue guidance on the frequency of meter readings, how long data can be stored and the use of sophisticated algorithms that allow companies to create profiles of their customers.


British Conservative politician has been “bought”

Bought not by Big Oil but by Big Green

For those who’ve missed it, Tim Yeo MP has been engaged in an online debate at the Centre For Policy Studies with former chancellor Lord Lawson on the subject “Is there an economic case for going green in an age of austerity”? As you’d perhaps expect from a man named “Politician of the Year” at the inaugural 2011 Green Business Awards, Yeo very much believes there is. We’ll examine more closely why a Tory MP might feel so strongly about this in a moment. But let’s first see what Lord Lawson has to say:

It is sad that fashionable obsession can lead an intelligent man like Tim Yeo into such a farrago of factual error and economic illiteracy. The reason why there is no economic case for ‘going green’ is simple. It is that green energy is hugely more expensive than carbon-based energy, it always has been and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.

That, and no other reason, is why the world relies on carbon-based energy – coal, oil and, increasingly, gas.

And that is why to ‘go green’ requires either a heavy tax on carbon-based energy, to make it less competitive, or a massive subsidy for wind power and other forms of green energy, to make them more competitive – and probably both. Either way, these represent a huge economic cost and a burden on the consumer that bears especially hard in an age of austerity, but which would be unjustifiable at any time.

Ouch. Anything else, Lord Lawson, to salve Tim’s hurt feelings?

One of Tim’s more remarkable assertions is that “to delay Britain’s investment in low-carbon technology just when other countries are starting to accelerate theirs verges on the Luddite”. The trend is in fact in the reverse direction. Not only is the emerging world firmly committed to carbon-fuelled growth, but even in slower-growing Europe ‘green’ subsidies are being phased out. Spain, which went for wind power (in particular) in a big way, has decided to cut back drastically all its ‘green’ energy subsidies. In recent months, similar cuts have been announced in Italy, Greece and the Czech Republic. And Germany, Europe’s largest economy, is doing much the same. Meanwhile, in the United States, the solar power industry, once their renewable of choice, is mired in scandal and in a state of collapse.

I regret, incidentally, the use of ‘Luddite’ as a generalized term of economic abuse, since it does in fact have a precise meaning. It refers to the movement in the early days of the industrial revolution to destroy machines in order to protect jobs. It precise analogue today is the attempt by the Tim Yeos of this world to persuade the government to move from comparatively cheap carbon-based energy to much more expensive green energy in order to create ‘green jobs’.

This also underlines the fundamental point that even if the whole world were to be converted to costly ‘green energy’ – which is not going to happen – there would still be a heavy economic cost, not to mention the human cost in those countries where a slower rate of economic development means unnecessary poverty, disease, malnutrition and premature death for hundreds of millions of people.

Tim, of course, confidently tells us that this is merely a temporary burden that will soon pass, since “despite the discovery of shale gas, the price of fossil fuels will continue to rise”, presumably making green energy thoroughly economic. I wonder how he knows this. As a former Energy Secretary, some 30 years ago, I have watched fossil fuel prices rise and fall as confident predictions regularly bite the dust. What we do know is that in the US, which at the present time is leading the way, the shale gas revolution has caused the price of gas to plummet, and this is bound to spread to the rest of the world before too long.

One last point. The one essential resource for onshore wind power – the UK’s (or at least the unlamented Mr Huhne’s) green energy of choice – is large tracts of land. I am constantly surprised that politicians who like to think of themselves as progressive support such a massively perverse scheme of income redistribution: a scheme that takes money from the pockets of the people and pays it out in subsidies to wealthy landowners.

Ouch and double ouch! Now let’s see what arguments Tim Yeo can produce in response to Lord Lawson’s analysis.

If we were to price in the true costs of CO2 pollution, even expensive low-carbon generation would look attractive.

Ah. OK. That old junk science theory about CO2 being a pollutant. Nice try. Anything else?

Investing in renewables, CCS and nuclear will not only improve the UK’s energy security and guard against rising fossil fuel prices, it could also help to rebalance the economy and create jobs if we can create the right conditions for low-carbon companies to flourish.

Oh. The “green jobs” gambit? Nope. We know that far from creating jobs, government “investment” in the renewables sector kills jobs in the real economy. Anything else?

So why are the Chinese investing so much? Partly it’s because climate change is a risk, but mostly because they believe that growth depends on a low-carbon economy.

Oh puh-lease. The Chinese don’t believe for one second in the climate change myth. And the extent to which they believe in a low-carbon economy rests entirely on their ongoing ability to exploit Western credulity on this score by cashing in on the wind-farm and solar bubble (due to burst any second now as governments and taxpayers alike wake up to the fact that these industries are only sustainable through massive subsidy).

Hmm. I think there’s an important element which Tim Yeo forgot to include in his impassioned defence of “green economics”. Ah yes, here it is: from Tim Yeo’s registered business interests at “They Work For You”:

ITI Energy Limited; suppliers of gasification equipment.
AFC Energy; company developing alkaline fuel cell technology. Address: Unit 71.4 Dunsfold Park, Stovolds Hill, Cranleigh, Surrey, GU6 8TB. Undertake duties as Chair, run board meetings and keep in touch with senior management.
Received payment of £3,750. Hours: 10 hrs. (Registered 20 March 2011)
Received payment of £3,750, 9 May 2011. Hours: 11 hrs. (Registered 14 June 2011)
Received payment of £3,750, 13 June 2011. Hours: 12 hrs. (Registered 3 September 2011)
Received payment of £3,750, 11 July 2011. Hours: 11 hrs. (Registered 3 September 2011)
Received payment of £3,750, 22 August 2011. Hours: 11 hrs. (Registered 12 October 2011)
Received payment of £3,750, 12 September 2011. Hours: 10 hrs. (Registered 12 October 2011)
Received payment of £3,750, 7 October 2011. Hours: 8 hrs. (Registered 17 November 2011)
Received payment of £5,000, 14 November 2011. Hours: 10 hrs. (Registered 13 December 2011)
Received payment of £5,000, 13 December 2011. Hours: 12 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2012)
Received payment of £5,000, 10 January 2012. Hours: 9 hrs. (Registered 9 February 2012)

Aha, now your argument is starting to make sense, Tim. Anything else you want to tell us?

Groupe Eurotunnel SA (non-executive) (of which Eurotunnel plc is a wholly owned subsidiary); company managing the Channel Tunnel. Address: Cheriton Parc, Cheriton High Street, Folkestone, Kent, CT19 4QS. My duties as a non-executive director include attendance at meetings of the Board and of the Environment and Safety Committee and advising senior management on a range of issues.
Received payment of £3,622.57, 9 May 2011. Hours: 6 hrs. (Registered 14 June 2011)
Received payment of £3,569.33, 31 May 2011. Hours: 5 hrs. (Registered 14 June 2011)
Received payment of £7,238.97, 28 July 2011. Hours: 11 hrs. (Registered 3 September 2011)
Received payment of £6,440.62, 12 September 2011. Hours: 16 hrs. (Registered 12 October 2011)
Received payment of £4,245.20, 14 October 2011. Hours: 4 hrs. (Registered 17 November 2011)
Received payment of £3,526.97, 21 November 2011. Hours: 4 hrs. (Registered 13 December 2011)
Received payment of £6,885.38, 31 January 2012. Hours: 8 hrs. (Registered 9 February 2012)
Eco City Vehicles plc, Hemming House, Hemming Street, London, E1 5BL; distributes and services London taxis. Duties include chairing board meetings and keeping in touch with senior management.
Received payment of £3,333.33. Hours: 10hrs. (Registered 20 March 2011)
Received payment of £3,333.33, 23 May 2011. Hours: 9 hrs. (Registered 14 June 2011)
Received payment of £3,333.33, 22 June 2011. Hours: 9 hrs. (Registered 3 September 2011)
Received payment of £3,333.33, 22 August 2011. Hours: 8 hrs. (Registered 12 October 2011)
Received payment of £3,333.33, 22 September 2011. Hours: 8 hrs. (Registered 12 October 2011)
Received payment of £3,333.33, 24 October 2011. Hours: 6 hrs. (Registered 17 November 2011)

Environment and safety? Gosh, what with all your enthusiasm for environmental issues I can see why it would make absolute sense for this company to pay such hefty sums for your expertise. Truly, you are Eco Superman! Busy saving the world from “global warming” – and jolly well being rewarded handsomely for it, as you surely deserve. But wait, what’s this? Not more green business work you want to tell us about?

Chairman of TMO Renewables Limited, 40 Alan Turing Road, Surrey Research Park, Guilford, Surrey GU2 7YF. The company is developing and supplying technology for second generation biofuels. My duties involve chairing board meetings and keeping in touch with senior management.
Received payment of £4,987.75. Hours: 14 hrs. (Registered 20 March 2011)
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Received payment of £4,166.66, 27 June 2011. Hours: 14 hrs. (Registered 3 September 2011)
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Received payment of £1,666.53, 25 July 2011. Hours: 5 hrs. (Registered 3 September 2011)
Received payment of £4,166.66, 22 August 2011. Hours: 14 hrs. (Registered 12 October 2011)
Received payment of £1,666.73, 25 August 2011. Hours: 5 hrs. (Registered 12 October 2011)
Received payment of £4,166.66, 22 September 2011. Hours: 14 hrs. (Registered 12 October 2011)
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Gosh Tim! I think I’m beginning to understand why you have such faith in the powers of the “green economy”! It’s certainly something you’ve done very nicely yourself out of, eh mate?

Still, you know what? I have to say that if I were a member of your South Suffolk constituency and my view had been blighted or my property values wiped out by one of those wind factories they’re putting up to deal with this non-existent “carbon” problem you keep promoting – or if I were a constituent who had been driven into fuel poverty by all the taxes and tariffs your government keeps adding onto energy bills, I think I might start asking awkward questions, like: “This guy’s supposed to be a Tory MP isn’t he. So what’s he doing trying to ruin the economy, destroy the countryside and drive up the cost of living?” In fact, worse than that? If I were a Tory in your constituency, I think I’d be agitating very strongly right now to have you deselected.


Government must share financial risk of new British nuclear plants

The Government must subsidise or loan money to support the construction of new nuclear power stations to ensure Britain has a reliable electricity supply in the future, an eminent panel of experts will say this week.

Britain needs to rebuilt as a “nuclear nation” rather than relying too heavily upon renewable energy sources such as wind power, according to a report by the Birmingham Policy Commission to be released on Monday.

The Commission, a group of leading energy experts chaired by former Labour secretary of state for energy and climate change Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, will warn that industry is unlikely to invest the billions of pounds needed to build new nuclear power stations by itself.

Instead it will say that the Government must be prepared to share some of the financial risk with taxpayers’ money.

The report will warn that delays in making a decision to build new nuclear power stations over the past decade have resulted in the country falling behind other countries in research and expertise on nuclear energy.

Successive governments have agonised over approving the building of new nuclear power stations due to the high costs involved in decommissioning and disposing of nuclear waste. Concerns over safety following the Fukushima disaster in Japan also introduced delays.

The new report will, however, call for the establishment of a statutory Nuclear Policy Council to establish a long term road map for nuclear energy in the UK. It will also urge for greater incentives to encourage communities to host geological disposal sites for nuclear waste.

It will say: “Rebuilding the UK as a suitably qualified nuclear nation, capable of building new stations and developing new technologies is a priority.

“The lack of certainty and clarity in the UK Government policy on energy, and the hiatus while the Electricity Market Reform bill is drafted and put into law, is producing a sense of drift in which energy companies lack the conviction to invest in new plant construction.

“The financial risks associated with building new nuclear power stations are beyond the balance sheets of many of the utilities. These risks need to be shared between the public and private sectors.”

The Birmingham Policy Commission, whose members include prominent nuclear scientists, energy experts and environmental advisers, was established in September last year by the University of Birmingham to explore the future of nuclear power in the UK.

The report warns that by the time the current nuclear power stations reach the end of their lifetime in 2035, Britain will have lost around half of its ability to produce electricity as many coal fired power stations are also due to close within the next decade.

Environmental campaigners last week were celebrating after plans to build the first new coal-fired power station in the UK for 40 years were abandoned following a campaign.

The Commission’s report will warn that while renewable energy can supply some of the shortfall, “one drawback of renewable energy sources is that they need a lot of space”.

Instead, it will say, the Government must make concrete plans for the role nuclear energy will play in the future of Britain’s electricity supply.

Lord Hunt said: “When you look at the challenge we face, I am convinced that nuclear has a strong role in the future. The longer you leave it, the longer it takes before you get new nuclear power stations up and running.

“The foundations have been laid for new nuclear power stations, but I think the worry is that the companies involved are reluctant to commit to investment.”

The Coalition Government recently announced plans to introduce a feed in tariff to help subsidise green energy. This will see consumers paying a premium on their electricity prices to help cover the higher costs of producing green energy.

It is expected that nuclear power will also benefit from these green energy subsidies. The Commission’s report will warn, however, that substantial up front sums will be needed to build new power stations and these consumer subsidies may not be enough.

A nuclear power station costs an estimated £5 billion to build.

The report will say: “In the current economic climate, the challenge is not simply predicting lifetime economics but also how to raise the billions needed up front.”

There has not been a new nuclear plant built in the UK for more than 20 year and there have been rumours of energy companies planning to pull out due to the lack of clarity on government energy policy.

Earlier this month, however, EDF Energy awarded a £2 billion contract to start developing the design and building a new power station at Hinkely Point in Somerset.

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: “Nuclear is a mature technology and with our market reforms in place we don’t believe there is a need for public subsidy.”


Poor British pupils ‘two years behind wealthier classmates at 15’

And so it will always be.  IQ is hereditary and smart people usually don’t stay poor for long

Teenagers from the most deprived backgrounds are lagging dramatically behind wealthy peers in the race for university places because of failure at school, according to major research published today.

Academics warned that the gulf in entry rates between rich and poor students was driven by exam results at secondary school – and not discrimination from admissions tutors.

Figures show that the highest-performing pupils from disadvantaged families lag around two-and-a-half years behind bright children brought up in wealthy homes by the age of 15.

The achievement gap in England is around twice as wide as that seen in some other developed countries, it was revealed.

Despite an extensive Labour drive to boost access to higher education, it emerged that the richest schoolchildren were around six times more likely to go on top Russell Group universities than the poorest fifth.

Pupils from affluent homes have also benefited the most from the huge expansion of university places over the last 30 years, claiming an increasing number of available places on degree courses as social mobility effectively grinds to a halt, researchers suggested.

The disclosure – in a series of studies published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies – will be seen as a blow to the Government, which has repeatedly criticised leading research universities for failing to admit more students from poor backgrounds and state schools.

Last year, Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, warned that they had a duty to ensure “British society is better reflected” in their admissions to justify state funding.

They are now required to set tough new targets to widen access to justify tuition fees of up to £9,000-a-year.

But a series of academic studies released today suggest that failure at an early age remains the biggest hurdle to university for the vast majority of poor pupils.

Jake Anders, a researcher from the University of London’s Institute of Education, who wrote one of the studies, said: “Policymakers interested in narrowing the gap in higher education participation between young people from rich and poor families should focus their attention on ensuring that students from poorer backgrounds have the necessary qualification to apply to university.”

The IFS published five studies as part of a new journal aimed at investigating the role education plays in boosting the life chances of children from disadvantaged areas.

Together, the reports suggest that levels of social mobility have actually worsened in the last 30 years as rich pupils pull increasingly ahead of those born into poor families.

In a series of key findings:

 *  One study from the IoE reveals that the highest-achieving children from affluent backgrounds are two-and-half-years ahead of peers from poor homes in reading skills by the age of 15 – twice that seen in other western nations;

 *  Another IoE report exposes “substantial” differences in university entry by family income, with children from the richest fifth of families being almost three times more likely to go into higher education – and six times more likely to attend a Russell Group university – as those from the poorest fifth;

 *  A study by University College London and Surrey University found that the rise in academic achievement over the last 30 years was more marked among wealthy students, with the proportion of children from the poorest fifth of households going on to get a degree increasing from just nine to 10 per cent, while attainment among the richest fifth increased from 28 to 37 per cent.

Steve Machin, professor of economics at UCL, said “There has been a meteoric rise in education acquisition in Great Britain over the past 30 years, which has occurred most rapidly amongst those from richer families.

“When coupled with evidence of increasing wage returns to all levels of education, this suggests that the expansion of educational opportunities may have hindered rather than helped social mobility.

“For the Government to have any hope of using education as a means of increasing social mobility in future, it will need to learn from the lessons of the past 30 years.”


Foreign students jump the queue: Overseas candidates offered uni places with lower grades than UK teenagers

Foreign students with low grades are being offered places at top British universities ahead of pupils with better marks in this country, an investigation has revealed.

Universities have been accused of making money by rejecting British teenagers so they can fill places with international students who are charged 50 per cent more than the annual £9,000 tuition fees paid by UK and European students.

An investigation found that the official agent in Beijing for the elite Russell Group claimed to be able to secure over-subscribed places for a Chinese student with three C grades at A-level – when British students need at least AAB.

Undercover reporters from the Daily Telegraph visited Golden Arrows Consulting in Beijing, which placed more than 2,500 students in British universities in 2011, claiming to be looking for a place for a Chinese student who had three C grades.

Despite being below the entry requirements of most leading British universities, the fictional student was offered a place at both Cardiff and Sussex.

The agent, Fiona Wang said: ‘We send student [sic] to Cardiff Business School to study accounting and finance with ACD. So with CCC we can help her’.

An applicant would normally need AAB to take the course at the university. ‘If the student wants to study economics, it’s three Cs. So economics she can also do’, the agent added.

Ms Wang said that the grades meant that she could also ‘choose’ between the University of East Anglia or Southampton University but not Bristol, King’s College London or Warwick.

Another Golden Arrow employee reportedly offered to doctor documents to help the student’s application, including visa paperwork and offered assistance with the applicant’s personal statement.

Reporters were also told that in order to secure a visa, they should tell the UK authorities that the student would return home immediately after graduation – even if this was not the case.

The number of foreign students in Britain has risen by a third to almost 300,000 since 2006, with the highest proportion coming from China, while the number of British students missing out on a university place reached a peak of 180,000 in 2011.

Richard Cairns, the headmaster at Brighton College, said: ‘Universities are increasingly searching for, and needing, overseas fees. It’s something we have noticed. It’s tougher for British students to get into top universities than overseas students.’

Last month 68 chancellors, governors and university presidents warned that any crackdown could lead to foreign students going elsewhere, costing the economy billions.

In a letter to the Prime Minister they said Britain attracts around one in 10 students who study outside their home country, generating around £8billion a year in tuition fees.

Universities take such a valued revenue stream very seriously, with almost all having a dedicated page on their websites listing ‘partners’ in other countries for prospective students to contact about getting a place.

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, told the Telegraph money was the ‘main factor’ leading universities to push for foreign students.

He said there was a risk that educational standards could be compromised as establishments try to secure their future in an era of uncertain funding.

Golden Arrow admitted that it had found a place for a student at Cardiff with ACD grades but said it was an exceptional case.

The firm denied offering to doctor applications and said it only ‘instructs’ students’ on personal statements but would never ‘write on behalf of them’.

Sussex and Cardiff Universities denied offering places to international students with lower grades. The University of Southampton said it would be investigating the allegations.



About jonjayray

I am former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party. The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody
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