Less for more and more for less

by ammophila

Scheduled next 1-10-2016

Maud left five days ago, with our sincere thanks for livening up this place much longer than originally planned, and our equally sincere wishes for success in her world tour with the sumo girls.  We hope to welcome another intern soon but of course the supply of young talent willing to come over to work for nothing on our island for a month or two is not huge. 


Saying of the week: Planning is the antidote to imagination (Old municipal proverb)


Someone sent us this anonymously, photocopy of a loose single sheet of paper.  From what?

 team’s efforts (not least in Africa – congratulations!).The mystery to me is how it all still goes on like one of those light display projected onto some architectural monument or other.  Public opinion, that sleep-walking ape, whoops at the pretty colours and doesn’t even notice there’s anything behind them.  Never mind the rich pickings for firework manufacturers, condom distributors, and all those who produce chemicals with interesting effects on the human body, what better set-up could you imagine for arranging major financial deals out of sight of the tax snoopers of the world, than fixing them up behind the razmatazz of the most publicised two-week celebrethon in the calendar, all run in full view of all the world’s nations and news media?  Of course some of the big players know pretty well what goes on but they have their own reasons for not noticing, and anyway not a few of them are at it themselves one way or another but they don’t care so long as they can collect a bagful of medals and take them back as proof that Southern Ruritania leads the world (in ways left  conveniently unspecified) and the whole nation should rejoice and line up to support the glorious South Ruritanian government.  Sooner or later some of the snoopers are going to start asking questions about what else goes on so full marks to our leaders for helping to distract  attention this time round by their contribution to the great doping scandal, which with luck pushes back the evil day a few years.  Meanwhile as B says, the thing is to milk the golden goose for all it’s worth.  But the boys feel the Olympics are still a long way short of maximal profitability for all concerned.   Our leader reckons the single key factor is the golden medal business.  Nothing else gets headlines like that in all media back home wherever home is, and it doesn’t matter a dog turd if the medals are for competitive knitting.  He thinks an obvious move would be to increase the number of nations attending (already well in excess of those recognised by the UN), provided of course the new member nations prove they are able and willing to support the Olympic movement in all its many highly expensive activities!  For example, each Australian state could be recognised, athletically, as a separate country.  This would open up especially rich prospects when applied to the US.  But even before that there’s plenty of scope for souping things up a bit with the set-up we’ve got.  For instance, the number of gold medals could be hugely increased if other sports are made to follow the example of those, like boxing, which divide their competitions into many categories according to weight of the athlete, or subdivisions by type, as with swimming, breaststroke, free style or butterfly.  So there could be eg a ‘100 metres-running- backwards’ as well as the usual unimaginative 10 second version.  Other similar moves easily fixed, for instance, separate high jump competitions for those less than 1m 55 tall in the case of men, or 1m 45 for women.  Another one would be harpooning (i.e. underwater javelin).  And since we’re in the pool, how about three-legged swimming races?  Hours of fun!  And didn’t some lunatic a few years ago suggest distance races could be run on  figure-of-eight tracks as well as ordinary ones, would add a new element of skill for the runners and interest for spectators, and imagine the headlines if the leader gets knocked down at the crossover point by a runner half a lap behind him. And another lorryload of gold medals, if they’d get serious about inviting new sporting interests to send teams, which could include fishing, pole-dancing (after all beach volleyball is in there already), sheep-dog trials, bull-fighting, and all that stuff gladiators used to do in ancient Rome.


Question of the week: Why are so many enthusiastic for the ‘hot-housing’ of athletic talent, to bring honour to their country, when they oppose ‘hot-housing’ of academic talent?  And what about the arts?  And music?


Page 3 of a mailshot ‘The alpha male reader’s guide to the investment opportunity of the century’.

(The cover was burnt doing something illegal with it.)

 Our consultancy’s white-hot determination to do what only a few highly skilled experts realise is now necessary is a mood last seen when the Roman Empire was collapsing under the onslaught of refugees and asylum-seekers from the wrong side of the Rhine.  Now it  is on the threshold of a dramatic comeback for the sharp-eyed few who see that extremist times call for extreme solutions.  Don’t think small!  We’re not talking about asset-stripping the odd company here or there, running it into the ground and taking the boodle.  That’s just the timid sort of stuff they played at in the 1980s.  Think on the national scale.  Straws in the wind?  One of the British rail companies (which thanks to a Conservative initiative now all offer options for profitable investment in the transport needs of the British working classes) has shown how decisive action can deal effectively with major problems which have been allowed to linger on hamstringing a huge area for years, reducing returns to shareholders and annoying employers by delivering their workforces late.  This company abolished at a stroke hundreds of train services on its network; somewhat over 220 to be precise.  Once abolished, they no longer cause trouble.  No train, no punctuality failure (or horological discrepancy as they like to call it).  No train, no overcrowding to be grumbled about to MPs.  No train, no staff or running costs.  The workforces will adjust to it, they have to.  And now the NHS is experimenting with the same promising approach.  Despite constant efforts to make staff improve productivity and accept efficiency reforms, and despite the contributions made by thousands of highly skilled management personnel, many branches of the National Health Service have proved themselves unable to do their job properly, and they run their finances so badly they are crippled with debt.  Solution?  Close the  hospital or the troublesome parts of it.  Don’t be intimidated just because the sign at the entrance says ‘Accident and Emergency’.    But what is wrong with these first tentative steps is they don’t even go halfway.  You have an empty hospital?  Sell it, prices for office accommodation are still buoyant, and conversion to hotel use, in the right areas, is worth a look for the clever investor.  Similarly for second-hand rolling stock, unused station buildings, and, especially, massive landholdings.  But even this is chickenfeed.  What we want is a determined no-holds-barred campaign to close down and sell off not merely the NHS but all non-profitable sectors of national activity where still supported directly or indirectly by government funds, e.g. the road system, all National Parks, all parts of the coastline not yet privatised, museums and care homes for the elderly in general, the Civil Service likewise, prisons, the judicial system, the army, navy and air force, the House of Lords, the Royal family, and of course government itself.  If there is one economic fact more extraordinary than the abysmally low productivity of most households in OECD countries, it is that so few realise the inhabitants of the UK are sitting on one of the richest collection of assets in the world, and that so little has been done to realise its worth and put it to practical use.  The opportunities are mouth-watering.  Join us today!  Apply as specified on front of brochure.


I was alerted to the above by Karela’s hoots of derisive laughter.  At first I laughed too.  Then it struck me – the rail company and the hospital events really are happening; it did all really start from the asset-strippers in the 1980s, and look at what enlightened capitalism has brought us to now. Humans evidently have a talent for producing disaster, whether they start from naked greed with added stupidity as above, or from grand programmes of social reform.  Karela and I have written a joint note taking one particular case where we can see what went wrong, and how it could be (but won’t be) stopped short of disaster.

Editorial note:  Let’s just comment on the British National Health Service as an example.  It  was set up after World War II, for two big reasons.  First, if you have any sort of nation, with large populations banding together for the common good, in the very front rank of the common good stands health of the inhabitants.  Some might call that a moral reason..  But there’s also a simple practical reason which even capitalist extremists should approve.  How can you screw the best profit out of your population if they’re suffering from rickets, or tuberculosis, or massive malnutrition?  Now, at the start the National Health Service in your country was well-funded by the government and the service was free to users.  Since those years costs have gone up for a plethora of reasons, which you can easily call to mind.  For any normal business, you’d say costs have gone up so our prices must go up (for that reason and to make sure we can pay the CEO a ‘competitive package’ to stop him emigrating to work in Switzerland or Monaco).  But the National Health Service is not a normal business.  It was set up to provide a free service to the population for very compelling moral and practical reasons.  Those reasons have not altered.  If therefore change is needed, in this case the change must be to increase financial support from the government as is needed to keep the service as it should be. And what better target for the massive investment economists say we need?


Politically correct news: The League for Opposition to Offensive Notions and Speech is asking future editors and directors dealing with As You Like It to ensure that the ‘lover and his lass’ song is amended to make it clear that the lying in the grass alluded to should only have followed the explicit expression of ‘a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonny yes’.