Tag Archives: David CAmeron

A Nation of Shopkeepers?

So Napoleon famously mocked the English, or so it is said. Actually the phrase came from Adam Smith in the Wealth of Nations, where he wrote — “”To found a great empire for the sole purpose of raising up a people of customers may at first sight appear a project fit only for a nation of shopkeepers. It is, however, a project altogether unfit for a nation of shopkeepers; but extremely fit for a nation whose government is influenced by shopkeepers.” Napoleon may have taken up the phrase, and used it, but I seem to recall that actually his tone may have been rather more respectful than is general believed. Still, whatever the truth, has anyone wandered down the Regent Arcade, Cheltenham recently? It was Lisa who pointed out to me the large number of empty shops — when this happens to Cheltenham, you have to wonder. I think I might try soon to interview either the Town Centre Manager or the Economic Development Officer for the borough, though to be fair they probably have rather more important things to do. Cheltenham has weathered the recent economic storms quite well, but the changes are visible on the High Street, and a host of innovative new shops appear to be opening to offer the cheapest of the cheap to the once prosperous shoppers of this fine city. I’m not moaning, as I say, Cheltenham is still much more prosperous than most places, even if that prosperity is rather unequally divided among its citizens, with areas of (in 21st century terms) deprivation, but nothing like the real poverty of some cities districts. Continue reading

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Dying by inches?: Understanding our NHS as it is now.

OK, today has seen a fascinating (frightening?) White Paper, which looks like completely changing our NHS. I am probably going to talk a lot about back-door privatisation and the threat to our health system, but I thought I would actually read the White Paper first, and as always I encourage others to check the facts for themselves, rather than relying on media spin or what bloggers have to say. So I hope once you have had a look at my little piece you will actually look at the proposals for yourself…. Anyway I appreciate this has been a bit dull (understatement I guess!) but hopefully if you took the time it read it you have a little more idea of the background, and a better understanding of the new coverage of the NHS reforms announced today. Continue reading

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Wheelchairs, brothels and community spirit!

OK, it seems like forever since I last wrote. I stopped blogging during the election, and it has proved hard to start up again, but I suppose I will slowly get back in to it. Part of the reason is I have been so incredibly busy with the old lady down my street who I have long been friends with; we know go for an hour long walk every evening, and her cup of tea every night takes another hour, with frequent visits during the day eating up my spare time. She’s lovely but the endless phone calls as she has become forgetful do drive me mad! Still I guess this is part of the “big community” we hear so much about — I’m lucky enough to live in a street where people are very friendly, (yes, that includes very much the really nice folks from the brothel that used to be down the road till the big police raid a couple of years back — not that I ever twigged it was a brothel till the police kicked the door in, and I lived next door to it!), and spend a lot of time talking to one another and helping one another out. Continue reading

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Acceptable in the Eighties?

Still I suppose it’s time to comment on the General Election, and talk politics. Please don’t change the channel — you all know that I am an old lefty who will vote Lib Dem because I live in Cheltenham, but for reasons to do with economic policy and supporting the public sector (I’m still likening our position in some ways to 1947, and see public sector spending as one potential way out: I’m sure the economists among you can tell me why this is a hopelessly naive assessment) I want to see Brown re=elected. Bet that really scares and outrages a lot of people? Hey we can differ. :) Continue reading

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The Undeserving Poor?

My post on the Reverse Robin Hood started a lengthy and interesting discussion – thanks to Andrew Oakley and Tom Ruffles for their comments. Part of the discussion came to revolve around the role of risk and unpredictable elements in people’s personal financial situations – and I must admit that I am woefully unqualified to comment upon this. Down in the City of London there are extremely highly paid analysts who sit all day fiddling with formulae to try and predict market fluctuations, and this country must have tens of thousands (at least) of highly trained and highly paid experts in exactly this area – underwriters. I have no idea how successful these methods are, but I’m assuming they must have some value. After all, if you know the outcomes of ten thousand decisions made previously, then maybe another 40 year male with a fairly academic past and many years freelancing and living without visible source of income becomes predictable. Sure, you might make errors in regard to individual outcomes, because you can never have all the data -and the same applies to market analysts – but you might hope that on average you would do well (– though as we shall shortly see, I am not actually convinced this is true!) Continue reading

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