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I speak a lot against Trident, and the huge amount of money it’s wasted/ing. At roughly £100bn, here is what I propose to do with the spare cash.

Nationally, I think we should adopt a non-aggressive stance. This is to say that we do not interfere unless necessary in countries that are not our own. E.g Iraq, Afghanistan etc. For instances like Libya, we have commitments to organisations such as the UN (and various others) that can help deal with these issues, and I do not think we should become directly entangled with affairs such as these. The main reason being that it often just ends up causing a much bigger mess than intended. Unless there is a imminent and direct threat to our people then I do not think we should go out searching for a fight. Namely because it just causes further issues with our reputation as a whole, and I can hardly see ‘terrorists’ (whatever you take that to mean) as being particularly warming to us as a nation or indeed stopping attacks if we suddenly invade their domestic countries for whatever reason.

The definition for imminent and direct threat is perhaps vague, but I think common sense has to be applied really. However, I see the occurence of the arms race during the 30’s leading to WW2 as a much more direct threat and in need of an appropriate response than a country the other side of the world. I see a need for armed forces, but a smaller, better equipped is much more necessary and ideal in my view than a bloated and over stretched one, clinging hopelessly on to a fallen empire.

Money saved from schemes such as Trident, as well as money saved by not starting wars (this is not to say ‘cutting’ funding for the military, merely scale back their operations) should be placed into public scientific research. Rather than having military research being conducted and then adopted for social uses, the focus shall be on social uses that can if necessary be adopted for military application. This way, many more people will see the benefit of huge volumes of money being spent into technological advancement, rather than there being a delay. In the event of a war, this increased and widely supported research on technology will be able to give us the edge. Public science adopted for military, rather than military for public.

The wider range of stakeholders this would cause for more ethical and above all more useful and practical research to be carried out. While exoskeletons are useful for the military, they are much more useful to aid disabled people. However, due to mainly being of military origin, it is expensive and hasslesome to re-apply the technology to a public market. This takes time and while the benefit may eventually be gained, would it not be better to have the technology refined by large scale usage that people actually gain befit from rather than have it locked away, with 2 or 3 people using? The benefits of crowdsourcing have been seen, and should be utilised as widely and officially as possible.

A recent article I read on the value of research ties in to this. It’s fairly short and well worth a read.

“Meyer says that US climate programmes have in the past two decades benefited from public investment of more than US$30 billion, but have largely failed to produce information and participation in the forms that policy-makers and the public wanted.

“Instead, researchers and, especially, their funders must embrace the idea that public and stakeholder participation can help to define research priorities. And they must do more to track and communicate all outcomes. Policy-makers need to ensure that those with direct needs for climate-related information — businesses, regional planners, government departments — have a greater say in the kind of services and knowledge that they expect publicly funded researchers to produce, and in assuring the quality and relevance of what is delivered.”

This is not to say that areas that are unpopular should be ignored. Certainly, I imagine the TV would not have been seen as a worthy investment of research funds, and in the same way that arts council funding goes to smaller, innovative projects, I think research budgets should too. For example, if 50 years ago you asked if someone wanted a mobile device that they could display their emotion in only 140 characters, I dare say the answer would be no.

For fear of using a buzz word, I’d like our research to be more democratic. How practical this would be to implement I’m not sure. Nor am I saying that the general public should necessarily control the direction of scientific communities. What I am saying however, is control should be removed from large weapons manufactors and private security firms. These companies can still exist, and I’m sure will do a sterling job in supplying the military where necessary, but they should not influence our social development technologically as much as they do.

Our development as a nation, a society, a people, should be guided by us. While war is necessary at times, it should not be the focus of our technological advancements. I’d much rather see the UK be the leader in scientific advancement and creating the next generation of scientists and engineers to show off to the world than it be seen as a war mongering, grumpy and slowly deflating entity like it is now.

 


I recently purchased a Kindle. It was pretty much an impulse purchase. I’ve seen them in London and what not, but saw a customer at work the other day with one which confirmed it for me. It was only a glance, but the screen impressed me enough for me to go home and get one.

The other day, thankfully (after much amazon tracking) it arrived. Here are my thoughts on it.

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I’d like to talk today about a new topic/subject/interest of mine: Jewelry.

A selection of the other Diamonds I have in my collection

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Trident


The recent news that Trident has been renewed for the cost of £3bn has reminded me why I hate the trident scheme and oppose it. I’ll try and keep this succinct.

1. Cost:

With news that the recent cuts will devastate millions of people and wreak havoc with business, I am perplexed as to why £20bn is quite happily given over to upgrade the current reactors to newer ‘safer’ models. The safety of the countries economy seems to have little consequence here, with the people willingly taking a hit in how they live day to day in exchange for a one-time-never-may-happen upgrade. It’s not even like they’re buying a new, sparkly system that will save us all where before we had nothing. It’s just to improve it slightly – an entirely pointless farce.

Instead we could put the money we save from it into scientific research, the health service, universal education to degree level – many many things that are currently far better uses of money than a useless and outdated system. The social applications £100bn could have are huge and far reaching. Rather than have nuke’s, we could develop advanced technology with the public interest at heart, technology that would improve day to day living but also allow for our armed forces to be both better equipped and more advanced than anyone else in the world. I am a pacifist, but also see the need to have an armed forces in case of a direct attack. That said, research and money spent on the armed forces should benefit more than just them.

2. Legitimacy.

I cannot see any situation in the near future where we would actually deploy the Trident system. Yes Minister does another excellent job of summarising what would happen in such a situation.

(note the Afghanistan remark)

We would never use it as a pre-emptive strike. That is to say, its only purpose is to retaliate. To equal the score. To further destroy the human race and it’s ability to survive. In a nuclear war, I no longer care about countries or politics. My concern becomes this: Will there be people around to survive and carry on the species? I imagine there would, and our priority should be to ensure that the situation for those few, poor human beings is as good as we can make it. Wiping everyone we can off the face of the planet is not helpful to this.

If someone really wanted to attack us with nuke’s, they would. If any single powerful individual was insane enough to consider it, then Trident is not a deterrent. The cold war is over, and there is no longer huge amounts of tension between nations or a threat. There are more pressing matters that we need to focus on. Frankly if someone wanted to wipe out another nation, the collateral damage to their own people is not going to be of any concern. This mutually assured destruction (M.A.D – a dash ironic) is utterly pointless.

3. We don’t even own them

The nuke’s are hired from the US. What’s the point in that? May as well invest in having our own developing technology that will give us an actual edge, rather than a mirrored system.

4. Threats now are much smaller

Both the scale of threats now are much smaller – terrorism being the key thing that people are more wary of. This is something that will not be solved by having a nuclear deterrent due to the largely inability for terrorists to get their hands easily on ICBMs. This means that money invested in not invading and aggravating their domestic countries for little reason, and instead in furthering humanitarian efforts and ensuring the safety of domestic borders will benefit from the increased funding.

Plus, most countries now are much less likely to actually want to cause M.A.D or nuke us. If only for the fact it’s a large waste of recourses. There’s a long way to go before we will be in a situation of looking at a direct ICBM strike, and I think that road will throw up many more problems than just if we had Trident.

Oppose it, save the money, there’s no current direct threat, even if there was we’ll die either way, it’s a pointless and expensive system. If we oppose it and die in 20 years time from nuclear attacks, blame me, but at least we’ll have had decent education and health in our time on Earth.

Trident is an outdated ideal, a last remnant that clings on that has support because people think it makes us strong and the idea of us having a grand navy named pretentious ‘Trident’ harks back to the glory Empire days. The Empire is gone, we are now weak and have little military might. Focus on making us an intellectual force and we shall become powerful and respected once more.

I apologise if this lacks the eloquence and nicety that I usually try to include in blog posts. It’s merely one of the few things that genuinely angers me.


Often reasons given against chasing tax dodgers or raising taxes to a more sensible level is that the reason we should not is because the organisations involved will run and flee the country. To many it may seem obvious that this is false and mere scare mongering. I want to briefly explain why so.

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In the OU course I’m currently studying it briefly touched upon the NHS and the effects that introducing business practices had on it. This made me think briefly about whether or not it is truely worthwhile.

I do not wish to delve too far into the ins and outs of the NHS, as it seems that the outcomes are clear. In the article it describes how attempts to modernise the NHS via business methods have been ineffective due to staff being ‘homegrown’ and thus lacking external experience – making them change their ways is much more difficult and not something a passing meeting with a business guru can solve. It also mentions that adopted IT systems are too little – in that electronic appraisal systems are common in the private sector but rare and in dire need for a NHS that is keen to be run as a business to turn patients into customers.

This however, begs one major question. Is that what we want? While I’m sure updated IT systems will help, and that resistance against such a thing is not useful, it boils down to private vs public. It is clear within this case study that a public sector organisation is difficult to run with private ideals and systems in place. It removes all of the advantages being a public sector organisation the first place. So the question is this, which do you want? Public or Private health service?

Clearly my answer is public. Not a half attempt at public-sector, but full on investment and organised to take full advantage of localised organisation that only a public sector organisation can afford to do. It is this that makes it so wonderful and able to respond directly to people. If not, then we need a fully privatised system, one that can take full advantage of :

“…customer needs, ruthless competition, blindingly good information technology systems, a passion for quality and excellence and flexible staff”

For many reasons I do not support this. America being the main reason. But in my view, attempting to define a middle ground is pointless in such a valuable and necessary organisation in our society. Acknowledging and supporting it’s public status means that it can focus on improving itself in its own way without external, inappropriate systems being forced upon it. It is not there to be tweaked, prodded and fiddled with. It is there to be supported, and be left to get on with a bloody vital job.


I’ve become slightly more aware of something recently. While I may hold a bias view due to my plans to start my own cafe anyway, I still think them valid. While I agree with the attacks on tax dodging large corporations, and the issues that such large monopolistic organisations yield, I think that the focus should be diverted elsewhere. While it is important to highlight the issues, it is equally as important to support alternatives. And it is this reason, that the ignorance of small business by the media, protesters, and pretty much everyone who isn’t a niche news source.

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