‘The big education for me is that civilisation is fragile and can be destroyed in a heartbeat' - Jeremy Brade, former peacekeeper in Sarajevo.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Hey, Zuckerberg? F U !

There were some messages on my answering machine, so I set to answering the calls. I picked up the phone but it was dead.

Funnily, though, some new callers rang, but although I replied it was obvious that none of what I said was getting through to them; they just spoke and ended the call. I had wanted to share a joke in response, offer advice or praise or moral support, but no go.

The telephone company hasn't informed me of any glitsch in the system and I don't know who to speak to. Basically, I'm incommunicado, and I have no idea what caused it or how long this communication block will last.

Have you have a similar experience?

Perhaps you will recall that you or someone you know will have had, if I explain that it's not the telephone I'm talking about: it's Facebook.

Clearly I have sinned, Perhaps it was a joke definition I put on, saying 'dedication' meant 'drone strike'; it's a form of warfare I particualrly despise, especially since they've now developed a sort of multiple-knife-wielding version called the Hellfire AGM-114R9X or 'flying Ginsu' - less likely to cause 'collateral damage' and yet somehow more evil.

But I don't know if it was that. Someone in Mr Zuckerberg's organisation has taken it on themselves to censor me in this Kafkan way; someone who may have been to college but clearly wasted their time, having learned nothing about freedom of expression.

Well, I can do without the cod-philosophy posts and targeted ads, but I do like the animal videos, the beautiful photography from around the world, the news from friends and family... but should I mildly accept this anonymous, high-handed intercept-dictatorship?

Or should I (when I am permitted... if...) instead just contact those I wish to hear from again and ask them to use some other channel; scout my previous interactions for anything I want to copy and save; and simply leave Mr Zuckerberg and his creepy empire?

If you are allowed to speak, I look forward to your advice.

(Posted as a photo to FB 16:05 September 17, 2021. Again oddly, I cannot access my FB 'activity log'. Perhaps a technical error - perhaps not.)

FRIDAY MUSIC: Erika Lewis (with the Lonesome Doves), by JD

Erika Lewis is the singer with New Orleans street band Tuba Skinny. She sings in other locations and with other musicians and a few years ago finally recorded her own first album. Not without difficulties along the way, as her Tuba Skinny colleague Shaye Cohn explains in a 'gofundme' page

"Recently she found out that she will need to have thyroid surgery which runs the risk of vocal chord damage, or rather, damage to the nerves controlling the vocal chords, and the ability to control pitch, etc, indefinitely. Of course, we are hoping for the best possible outcome. But, we are also here in hopes of supporting and encouraging her to make the album as originally planned in the event that she is unable to do so in the future."

The good news is that the surgery was successful and she recorded her album which features her own songs and as can be seen from the videos the live performances are helped along by Shaye Cohn.

Here is a record review of "Waiting For Stars":








Thursday, September 16, 2021

THURSDAY BACKTRACK: Music and news from 60 years ago - week ending 16 September 1961

At #4 this week, The Shadows' 'Kon-Tiki':


Some memorable events (via Wikipedia):


11 September: the World Wildlife Fund opens its first office in Morges, Switzerland.

Also 11 September: Hurricane Carla, a category 5 (maximum strength) tropical storm, hits Texas, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee their homes:
 

13 September: the US contemplates 'Mutually Assured Destruction' vis-a-vis the |Soviet Union. Wikipedia recounts
    'SIOP-62, the American options for nuclear war, was presented to President Kennedy in a top secret briefing from General Lyman Lemnitzer, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The operational plan, drawn up on April 15, provided 14 options for responding to a nuclear attack, and the 14th option, recommended by General Lemnitzer, was to explode 3,267 nuclear bombs on targets in the Soviet Union, as well as the Warsaw Pact nations and Communist China. Kennedy was reportedly furious about the lack of flexibility in the plan, which contemplated obliteration of the enemy with the expectation that the United States and its allies would sustain massive destruction as well.'
    The homicidal lunacy of top-level military thinking is parodied in the 1964 movie 'Doctor Strangelove':


UK chart hits, week ending 16 September 1961 (tracks in italics have been played in earlier posts)

Htp: Clint's labour-of love compilation https://www.sixtiescity.net/charts/61chart.htm

1

Johnny Remember Me

John Leyton

Top Rank

2

Wild In The Country / I Feel So Bad

Elvis Presley

RCA

3

You Don't Know

Helen Shapiro

Columbia

4

Kon-Tiki

The Shadows

Columbia

5

Reach For The Stars / Climb Every Mountain

Shirley Bassey

Columbia

6

Michael Row The Boat / Lumbered

Lonnie Donegan

Pye

7

Romeo

Petula Clark

Pye

8

Well I Ask You

Eden Kane

Decca

9

Cupid

Sam Cooke

RCA

10

Michael Row The Boat

The Highwaymen

HMV

11

Together

Connie Francis

MGM

12

Ain't Gonna Wash For A Week

The Brook Brothers

Pye

13

Halfway To Paradise

Billy Fury

Decca

14

Hats Off To Larry

Del Shannon

London

15

Jealousy

Billy Fury

Decca

16

That's My Home

Acker Bilk

Columbia

17

How Many Tears

Bobby Vee

London

18

Sea Of Heartbreak

Don Gibson

RCA

19

Drivin' Home

Duane Eddy and The Rebels

London

20

Quarter To Three

The U.S. Bonds

Top Rank


Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Monument to Misanthropy, by JD

In June 1979, a man using the pseudonym R. C. Christian approached the Elberton Granite Finishing Company on behalf of "a small group of loyal Americans", and commissioned the structure now known as the Georgia Guidestones. Christian explained that the stones would function as a compass, calendar, and clock, and should be capable of "withstanding catastrophic events."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgia_Guidestones

https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/georgia-guidestones

The Georgia Guidestones were unveiled to a crowd of 400 people on March 22, 1980. The main structure is composed of four massive granite monoliths, each weighing around 20 tons, and a 9-ton central pillar, all of which support the square 11-ton ‘capstone’. The completed monument stands some 19 feet high. 

Perhaps taking a lesson from the discovery of the Rosetta Stone (an inscription in multiple languages which facilitated the decoding of the Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs), the four Pyramid-Blue granite side-slabs are etched with 4000 individual characters, which present the ‘guide’ in eight different languages. In addition the capstone has the words “Let These Be Guidestones to an Age of Reason” inscribed upon it in four ancient scripts: Egyptian hieroglyphs, Babylonian cuneiform, Classical Greek, and Sanskrit.

The public face of the monument's designers and builders later identified himself as - Robert C Christian (still the same pseudonym) and had this to say -

"Stonehenge and other vestiges of human thought arouse our curiosity but carry no message for our guidance. To convey our ideas across time to other human beings we want to erect a monument. A cluster of graven stones…which will silently display our ideas when we have gone. We hope they will merit increasing acceptance and that through their silent persistence they will hasten in a small degree the coming Age of Reason."

First thing to say is they do not look very impressive. The stone monuments of the past were more enigmatic, more awe inspiring, more elegant and artistic. This one is unimpressive, there is nothing significant about the geometry or the design or the dimensions.

Nor is the orientation a difficult thing to achieve. If it is trying to impress with its alignment then the sundial at Samrat Yantra Jaipur is more elegant and better in every way.
http://users.hartwick.edu/hartleyc/jantar.htm

https://www.worldtimezone.com/travel/travel-india-jaipur08.html

So why did they build these Guidestones? It appears to rely on words for its message, something none of the world's other stone monuments ever relied on. It is nothing more than speculation that the Giza Pyramids were once covered in hieroglyphic inscriptions. Indeed, the smallest of the three still carries a lot of the original granite casing and, from what I could see when I visited, there was just one single 'I built this' cartouche on the otherwise smooth unblemished face.

Only The Pharisees of Verbal Orthodoxy, to use Aldous Huxley's memorable phrase, would imagine that words are the best or only way to transmit wisdom and knowledge.

Reading the banal 'message' it strikes me there is too much emphasis on 'reason' as the basis for their proposed brave new world to come. That makes me suspicious....didn't the world try that once before? With rather dubious results.

I regard them as a Monument to Misanthropy and not, as they claim, "....guidestones to an Age of Reason." I have already had my say on 'the age of reason' and that is still valid because, as history has shown, the ideal of reason does not necessarily produce reasonable behaviour. https://theylaughedatnoah.blogspot.com/2018/02/the-cream-of-reason-revisited-by-jd.html

There are ten 'commandments' inscribed on the stones and these appear to be an inspiration to the current 'save the planet' movement which is the latest fashion among our political leaders.

The first inscription reads - "Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature." There is an unfounded assumption here that there are too many people in the world. Is that true? Many famous names have expressed that opinion, among them Bill Gates, Sir David Attenborough, Boris Johnson (in a Daily Telegraph article in 2007) as well as the PM's father, Stanley Johnson. The fact that Boris has seven children (or is it eight) and his father has six makes me question the sincerity of their belief.

If they ever bothered to look out of the aeroplane window while they are travelling they would see a lot of greenery and a lot of empty spaces in the world. Too many people? A doubtful assumption.

Another of the 'instructions' to humanity is to "Unite humanity with a living new language." I'm not sure what that is supposed to mean but wasn't there a failed attempt to invent a new language called Esperanto a few decades ago? How did that work out?

I find the tenth 'commandment' to be more sinister: "Be not a cancer on the Earth—Leave room for nature—Leave room for nature." Did the designers of the Guidestones really believe that humanity is a 'cancer'? Cancer is abnormal cell growth in the body. Is that an intelligent description of humanity? And 'leave room for nature' inscribed twice? In case they hadn't noticed, 'nature' already occupies 100% of the planet; we are, after all, part of nature i.e. a naturally indigenous species belonging to this planet
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgia_Guidestones#Inscriptions

A few years ago I saw Jay Lakhani on TV giving a lecture. What he was telling his audience was that the natural world wants to kill us. Mankind is vulnerable and basically defenceless against 'nature' - everything from the sabre toothed tiger to the eruption of mount Vesuvius and a multitude of perils in between. Lakhani was a theoretical physicist and, among other things, was a tutor at Eton.
http://www.hinducounciluk.org/2020/12/07/tribute-to-a-great-hindu-leader-speaker-and-visionary-shri-jay-prakash-lakhani/

According to Genesis 1:26 mankind has 'dominion' over all living things as well as over the earth. We are obliged to adapt the earth to ensure survival and to feed ourselves and over the centuries we have been very good at it. But in making life comfortable we have perhaps made it too comfortable and produced the current breed of 'woke' wimps, frightened of their own shadows but, more importantly, with no faith in our ability to adapt to the changing climate, if indeed it is changing as dramatically as they think it is.

And why is the modern world now inhabited by a multitude of weak-minded woke wimps or more specifically the no longer Christian west? Two relevant quotes I have used before:

From Ernst Shumacher in his book "A Guide For The Perplexed":

'the modern experiment to live without religion has failed'

....and Ian MacDonald in his book "Revolution in the Head" wrote ':

'once the obsolete Christian compact had broken down, there was nothing - 
apart from, in the last resort, money - holding Western civilisation together.'

It is not just the decline of religious faith which has produced this weak generation, there is also the lack of faith in humanity's ability to adapt as mentioned above. Practical skills have more or less disappeared in the West such that we have probably two or possibly three generations who have never done any real work so would not know where to start in the politically inspired drive to Build Back Better: a risible slogan if ever I saw one!

And do not assume that this weakness in western civilisation has not been noticed elsewhere.

This quote is attributed to the founder of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum; he was asked about the future of his country, and he replied:

"My grandfather rode a camel, my father rode a camel, I ride a Mercedes, my son rides a Land Rover, and my grandson is going to ride a Land Rover…but my great-grandson is going to have to ride a camel again."

“Why is that?", he was asked.

And his reply was: “Hard times create strong men, strong men create easy times.Easy times create weak men, weak men create difficult times.Many will not understand it, but you have to raise warriors, not parasites."

And add to that the historical reality that all great empires...the Persians, the Trojans, the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, and in later years, the British rose and perished within 240 years.They were not conquered by external enemies; they rotted from within.

The greatest generation consisted of 18 year old kids storming the beaches at Normandy. And now, two generations later, some 18 year old kids want to hide in safe rooms when they hear words that hurt their feelings.

They also want free stuff from the government because they think they are entitled to it.

The "camels are on the horizon"for sure.

Our society has indeed rotted from within and if the 'woke' continue to whine "I want the world and I want it now!" they are in for a very rude shock when they realise they will own nothing and they will not be happy!

I leave the final words to the late George Carlin because he was much more eloquent than I will ever be:

"The planet is fine! Compared to the people, THE PLANET IS DOING GREAT: Been here four and a half billion years! Do you ever think about the arithmetic? The planet has been here four and a half billion years, we’ve been here what? 100,000? Maybe 200,000? And we’ve only been engaged in heavy industry for a little over 200 years. 200 years versus four and a half billion and we have the conceit to think that somehow, we’re a threat? That somehow, we’re going to put in jeopardy this beautiful little blue-green ball that’s just a-floatin’ around the sun? The planet has been through a lot worse than us. Been through all kinds of things worse than us: been through earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drifts, solar flares, sunspots, magnetic storms, the magnetic reversal of the poles, hundreds of thousands of years of bombardment by comets and asteroids and meteors, worldwide floods, tidal waves, worldwide fires, erosion, cosmic rays, recurring ice ages, and we think some plastic bags and aluminum cans are going to make a difference?"
https://scrapsfromtheloft.com/comedy/george-carlin-saving-planet-transcript/



===========================================================

A few further musings...

- A brief history of the Georgia Guidestones was published in September of 2009 here: http://dailygrail.com/features/georgia-guidestones-and-the-apocalypse

-There is no such thing as 'anthropogenic global warming' and if there were such a thing, it would be good. Svante Aarhenius who 'invented' the concept certainly thought so! (I referred to it here - https://theylaughedatnoah.blogspot.com/2019/09/climate-crisis-by-jd.html)

- The 'greens' often complain about the mess mankind has made but they forget, if they ever knew, that we created the so-called mess using 'stuff' which came out of the earth. Eventually all of that 'stuff' will be assimilated back into the Earth and will become once again invisible.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

SHORT STORY: Sunburst

‘Flag!’ said the alderman, pointing. The Mayor broke off his conversation with the people at the washing-barge and looked up at the castle: the red pennant was flying. The men hurried off Vire Island, through Totnes Gate and up Fore Street, to be met at the arch by a runner from the observation post, the antique binoculars swinging at his neck.

‘What’s to do, Martin?’

‘Big boat coming up by Longmarsh. I see four men, might be more; some animals. The guards at the wharf flashed me. The sail has the Ditsem mark.’

‘Well done. Go back, I know what this is.’

A ferryman rowed the pair to meet the visitors, who were indeed familiar. The river chain was lowered, disturbing a cormorant, and both boats then proceeded upstream. A seal popped its head among suds, blinked and disappeared again. The newcomers moored their vessel and disembarking, were taken for refreshment and the usual courtesies.

It was obvious why they had come. The large white pigs placidly chewing grass in the hold were Lops, prized for their gentle temper and easy maintenance. These grazers only needed a field and a foul-weather shelter to keep them happy.

‘Are you looking for sale, or swap?’

‘Bit of both, your Worship. We’d like to join the drive, well one of us to go with the herd.’

‘How far?’

‘To Gordano Market. We want some Welsh sheep, start a new flock.’

The Mayor understood. Wool was increasingly valuable and the export trade via Dartmouth was picking up; but the winters were getting tougher, even in the southwest, and hardier breeds of sheep were sought after.

The Lops, already in good condition, would be fitter and fatter by the time they had travelled the hundred miles, following the northward advance of Spring up Migration Five to near where Four crossed the Severn. The Welsh would love the soft , fatty meat; good to help them through the cold months.

Two more boatloads were planned and agreed; large cloth-wrapped cheeses were exchanged for barrels of the town’s strong ale. The Ditsem men returned home with the tide, leaving a young swineherd, Jem, who headed for the fields by Weston Lane via Bridgetown Gate.

As he was let through the fortification he passed two Galwegian women, who were patching the brickwork with a fresh coat of river mud and straw. They stopped chattering in their native germano-gaelic, looked over Jem and then at each other, and laughed. Embarrassed, the lad looked down at the solemnly staring children at their feet, and with a single fluid line drew a lifelike pig in the wet mud on the wall, finishing at the curly tail with a flourish. He made snorting noises until they chuckled; he asked them their names and found things to praise about them, before guiding his lead sow towards the fields at Weston Lane, his dog rounding up the followers.

‘A deft hand, that boy,’ remarked an old man to his daughter as they walked to the Temple ; she looked back at the clean-limbed youth, thinking how well he had got on with the children that most adults ignored; and watched him turn the corner and out of sight.

Jem climbed the hill. To his left he saw the grassy foundations of dwellings; their materials long since reused to shore up the town’s defences. Sure-footed goats stepped and leaped among the debris.

A few structures still survived here and there, converted to byres and sties; their glassless, part-boarded windows gave glimpses of their animal occupants; the minders bedded above, under the bowed and collapsing roofs. Jem found the one allotted to him, released his herd into the hedge-bounded meadow and settled in as curfew sounded below. The dog took up its post outside the door. Jem laid his bag in a corner, wrapped his cloak about him and fell to sleep, listening to the rooks and green parrots in the trees.

 

Dust glinted in the light shafting from the iron-barred windows of the Guildhall. The drive master could smell old books and new hides. He stood patiently while the archivist completed the copy map, his sallow hand inking in the last known attacks by brigands and wild dogs on the route. The chart also showed where the party might seek rest, refuge or reinforcements.

In the days of the great forests, overland travel had been far more arduous, but the Migration ways were wide and gently-contoured, with grazing on their slopes and in places on the roads themselves. Spinneys and shrubs grew in the turf along the embankments, affording foraging and attracting wildlife for the hunter. Also, it was better for a well-armed party to weave through the scattering of rotting vehicles than to voyage up-channel, which was infested year-round with river pirates and occasionally in summer by slave-takers from southern lands. As farmers slowly recolonised the countryside the bandits had less to hide in and more to resist them.

The drive master placed the map in his leather wallet, together with the authorisation to draw water supplies from the great Harperswill cistern at the top of the town. The official weighed his payment of broken silver with scales brought out of the treasure chest, and wished him good luck.  The guide smiled, nodded a polite farewell to the girl at work on the other table and hurried out; there was still much to arrange.

The archivist rolled up the calfskin original, replaced it in its pigeonhole and returned to his table to do a little more on the special project. King Henning’s ship had brought tanned hides, women seeking husbands and a fine pair of white horses; but with all, and carefully preserved and guarded, came his ancestor’s ancient chronicle. The centuries-old document was frangible and tanned by the acid in its paper until scarcely readable. The King desired a transcription to be made for him, on the finest vellum.

The Chronicle had been started some years before Sunburst. It began with a mundane account of how a group of Germans, thinking they would one day need to be self-sufficient, had formed and re-formed as members joined and left, and how their seeds and tools and skills had been acquired. Without warning, and in a way that no-one had expected, the emergency happened. Something – the copyist could not understand it – had come from the Sun, and in a very short time most devices, machines and networks using ‘electronics’ ceased to work. The group, cut off from all but their neighbours, had no way to know how widespread was the disaster; but they could guess. Because it had hit everywhere at once, no-one could help anyone else. Only the most primitive societies would be able to manage – in some places perhaps, would not even have noticed the cataclysm; but for the civilisations of wealth and ease, the world had abruptly turned upside down. Only some shreds of humanity had remained, to find each other and rebuild, long ago; and in this case, record their struggles.

Weeks later, the drive got back safely, and with it came King Mark’s Law-Speaker, for his annual recital in the town’s market-place of one-third of the law. He also brought a sealed scroll.

‘What does it say, Master?’ asked the Mayor.

‘The King commands us to teach the people how to read and write,’ replied Tirath. ‘However, I cannot spare the time from my transcriptions; already we are losing much important information. There is more than I can do in my lifetime, and my daughter Amal with and after me.’

‘But it must be done.’

‘Certainly. It will also interest you to know that the King lays stress on teaching girl-children, because when they grow up they can pass on their skills to their infants. But I do not have skill and patience with the little ones.’

‘Then if not you, who?’

‘I have noticed a youth among those recently returned from the Midlands. He is from Ditsem, but perhaps he might be persuaded to stay and let me show him the essentials, and he could become a teacher.’

‘You think he can learn?’

‘Anyone can learn, but not all have the gift of teaching. I suspect he has.’

‘We shall ask him at the feast, then, and if he agrees, we’ll see if Ditsem will release him.’

‘Let us start with your name, Jem. The first letter is called Jay and makes a juh-sound. You draw a line down, then it curls at the end, like the tail of a pig. Try. Excellent! You have natural ability, Jem.’

‘Shall I show him the other letters, father?’

‘Yes, Amal. You know I must attend to the Chronicle; King Henning’s ship is due in two months. Do you like this work, Jem?’

‘Yes, Master. It’s much easier than pigs. And I’m working inside!’

‘Quite so; that is an aspect that appealed to me too, when I was your age. Work hard, for I think you are clever.’

Jem and Amal smiled.

(c) "Sackerson", 2021

Saturday, September 11, 2021

WEEKENDER: The Compounding Of The NHS's Failure, by Wiggia

The statement from Boris Johnson on social care and NHS funding this week was yet another failure to even try to reform the NHS and the way it performs. I can’t say I was surprised; after all, no one has had the guts to to make any meaningful reforms to the NHS since it was launched in 1948.

The original NHS was based on the concept brokered by Aneurin Bevan, Clement Attlee’s health minister from ‘45-46.

It was based on this…….

“This project was said to be based on three ideas which Bevan expressed in the launch on 5th July 1948. These essential values were, firstly, that the services helped everyone; secondly, healthcare was free and finally, that care would be provided based on need rather than ability to pay.”

At the time it was a welcome addition as health care had been a hit and miss objective for many and paying for care restricted it to the better off.

Almost from the beginning it was spending more than its budget and soon prescription charges came into being.

It’s been through various periods of change, mainly as technology, drugs and increased demand for procedures that before were unheard of; all of course cost more money and the NHS adapted and grew.

Even in the Eighties, a time of wealth growth before the crash, we could not have foreseen what the NHS would become. It was already eating resources and expanding both in terms of personnel and what was expected of it, all a long way from that original concept.

This quote sums up where we are today….

“ Today, the NHS is facing a greater crisis still. The issues of funding and demand continue to rise and the ability to provide free healthcare to all is a continuous topic of debate for many. “

And…..

"Tight spending in recent years and increasing demand for services have been “taking a mounting toll on patient care”. They add that there is “growing evidence that access to some treatments is being rationed and that quality of care in some services is being diluted.”

This of course came about after the financial crash in several years ago. It cannot be looked at in isolation to the rest of industry and commerce all had to make savings and wages were suppressed; what didn’t happen, being a public utility, was that jobs were not lost as in the private sector so like-for-like comparisons are not entirely valid.

The front line shortages only highlight a system that has failed to train our own nurses and doctors over a long period and rely on the expediency of bringing in ready trained staff from overseas. Many are coming from countries that can ill afford to lose such staff. The front line shortages also highlight the fact that an organisation employing 1.3-1.5 million people has got a gross imbalance somewhere in who it employs.

When pay rises are discussed especially for nurses it has to be remembered that whatever one thinks about nurses pay many of the claims are slightly disingenuous. Why? Because what is never mentioned is this…

Many staff saw a 1.5% rise immediately in April this year (with payments backdated to then). They will only see the full increase when they go up a pay band, which can happen at any time throughout the year (their own ‘pay anniversary’).

There is an automatic raise in salary, something that does not happen in the private sector and that is regardless of any justification; claims of low entry wages don’t really stack up as it should be viewed in the same way as an apprenticeship, i.e. you are learning your trade and will be paid accordingly. No one should expect staff still learning on the job to be paid the same as experienced qualified staff, yet many of the nursing unions believe they should on a special case basis; this is unrealistic, or should be.

After the 2018 pay deal this is what it actually meant to nursing staff - not exactly bread line pay rises:

“Pay will rise for some staff by between 4.5% and 29% over the next three years. This includes the increases in salaries staff will get by progressing through their pay band over time, and pay rises would still occur without a new deal. It doesn’t cover doctors, dentists, or very senior managers.“

With many in the private sector not having in real terms a pay rise for ten year but contributing for the above it must be quite galling, though few realise how the points based pay rises work.

Health tourism is something that rightly raises the hackles of those who pay for it but is mainly ignored by those who treat the same abusers. The moral indignation of those in the medical profession who believe we should treat all and sundry is typical of those who use other people's money and have no accountability.

The figures for health tourism are so vague that one suspects they are are not really known. The figure of ‘just’ 0.03% of the total budget is trotted out as a reason to ignore the claims as being ‘insignificant’, but £1.8 billion is not insignificant and the reality is it is just a rough guess, whatever it is it is wrong and would pay for many treatments for those who contribute.

What you won't find anywhere is the figure for treating those who arrive every year as immigrants and who are entitled to the full range of products despite never having put a single penny in the pot; this sum with the huge numbers coming here every here must be enormous and a drain on services.

Even those who have no status in this country now use the A&E as their go-to GP surgery, having been barred from the latter as they cannot sign on. What must be the figures for that? They don’t know; they never seem to know those facts that are inconvenient.

What we don’t need is an NHS run along the lines it is today. Any organisation that is in dire straits as the NHS is and begging for yet more money does not advertise for community cohesion advisors in a big way at £70k a year and all the office staff etc. that go with it. Something is very wrong with their priorities.

Even outside the non-jobs they have no problem paying six figure salaries for ever more layers of management. This ad is just literally plucked out of the internet after minimal effort:

https://ics-ceo-recruitment.com/job/chief-executive-of-the-icss-integrated-care-board-humber-coast-and-vale.13875

The number of senior management posts haS risen from around 500 in the 70’s to 43,000. At first glance that is a staggering increase , but it does not take into account the overall rise in staff levels and the extra areas of management needed for sectors such as IT; in many areas the NHS does not have as many managers as the private sector. Despite this fact many jobs advertised with very high salaries appear to be non-jobs.

A more recent guide to the increase is this one from 1999:

“As a proportion of NHS staff, the number of managers rose from 2.7 per cent in 1999 to 3.6 per cent in 2009 2009, just ten years." Was that rise in numbers justified? It is difficult to find where the extra jobs were created and why.

Will the money now being pledged actually go to the right areas to help alleviate the problems of its and the government's own creation? Somehow I doubt it. All the time the basic services are being withheld from those who not only have paid for it but will be paying the extra money needed.

(Said by Tony Benn in 1995)

Nothing in Johnson's statement gave any reason to believe any meaningful changes will be coming along anytime soon. The money pledged will not supply any more front line staff for some time and the bed shortage in comparison with our European neighbours remains. When you take into account that hospitals are still working under virus regulations and are not nearly near the procedure rates pre-Covid the waiting lists will grow, as has already been intimated.

The divvying up of this money is as usual just a back of the envelope job. The social care authorities are already worried most will go to the health care side ahead of any social care needs. What was not said is as usual often more interesting: even on the assumption this will help social care, is it enough? and what about the council tax levy all councils applied and will continue to do so, that is for social care? What is indeed the total being allocated and what is needed? That is not set out.

So with the new NI contribution social care will be in effect be in receipt of three revenue streams. None of this was mentioned by Bozo in his saving the world speech; nor was one of the big reasons for the needed funds: the growth in our population because of immigration. All these millions extra who have never contributed to the tax pot for health are all allowed to partake in using it; as I have said before, we are edging ever nearer the time when it all becomes unaffordable. In the meantime whoever is in power will soak the tax payer for all they can. The virus may be a get out of jail card in the HoC but doesn’t stand up to a problem that has been growing for years.

Aneurin Bevan said on the birth of the NHS that it would be funded from general taxation, but escalating costs soon had governments alarmed as this quote explains…

“A free and universally available service on this scale was highly unusual. The provisional estimates of costs for the first year were based on past hospital accounts, some of which were sketchy in the extreme. They were rapidly exceeded. In 1946, when the NHS Bill went to Parliament, the estimate of the total net cost annually was £110 million. At the end of 1947 it was £179 million. At the beginning of 1949 a supplementary estimate of £79 million was added and the figures turned out to be £248 million. The actual cost in 1949/50 was £305 million. The following year it was £384 million. The government became alarmed.”

To show how the health service has grown completely out of proportion to other areas needing funding from the public purse, that £305 million in ‘49 is the equivalent of just over £11 billion today and yet the NHS is now running at £159 billion without costs for Covid and will obviously be even more in the next few years. Whatever the reasons, it is like a runaway train.

Naturally all the new procedures drugs etc. all cost more as does the inflated employment quota, but on the other side all prescriptions were free, all dentistry and all eye tests and spectacles.

Another item that is difficult to pin down is the amount included in annual costs relating to the ongoing payment for PFI projects so trumpeted by the Blair government and still costing us billions. Many articles have been written on the rip-off nature of these PFI projects but whatever the actual figures it is something else, alongside failed IT projects that would have had the money involved put to better use. The sums are eye-watering.

The ‘free’ word was used even in those early days despite the fact it was never free, but the word gave the NHS an edge when comparing with like organisations world wide, hence the ‘envy of the world’ phrase so often bandied about in such a misguided way.

Going back to these early days shows that many saw the problems ahead. Even as early as 1949 this was published and how very true it all became and still it applies:

“Dr Ffrangcon Roberts, a radiologist at Addenbrooke’s, was an early and perceptive commentator.275 Early in 1949, he drew attention to the unreliability of the predictions because of three factors:

they ignored the effect of the ageing population

they ignored the intrinsically expansile nature of hospital practice; previous government experience had been of chronic care and general practice, not the activities of the voluntary hospitals where the application of science resulted in expansion with accelerating velocity in every branch of medicine

they were based on a false conception of health and disease. ‘Positive health’ was neither easily nor permanently achieved. The fight against disease was a continual struggle which was ever more difficult, promoting the survival of the unfit. We were cured of simpler and cheaper diseases to fall victim later on to the more complex and expensive.“

And ever since, the costs in line with that statement have escalated. The failure has been the neglect to act on any of these early predictions and any that came later; instead the NHS has become a bloated leviathan just hoovering up ever more resources without any accountability to the tax payer and paying ever more lip service to those that run it for their own ideologies.

Decades have passed with the cries in the background that it cannot go on this way, but on and on it does go. It is now the biggest employer in Europe yet one of the poorest providers of health care judged by the results; something is seriously out of kilter.

I repeat, this has reached the 'rinse and repeat' stage: nothing ever is done about the inner workings and whether the layers of management are justified and the 'treat-all mantra' - even those who have no right to the service, though a few at the top of the organisation believe we should be treating the world for nothing. The whole edifice needs stripping down and re-assembling in such a way that we get value for money and a decent health service. At the moment there is no hope for that and it is costing a fortune we really don’t have.

In 1911 Lawson Dodd wrote:

"The economy of organisation, the greatly lessened cost of illness due to the increase in sanitary control, and the immense amount saved in the reduced number of working days lost through illness, would make the health tax seem light, and it would be regarded as a profitable form of insurance."

Pure socialist rhetoric; wonderful if true but open to abuse and the facility for people to use the health service for everything from aspirin to a grazed knee; and that was only the start.

What was also overlooked was the fact that universal health care on this scale would result in increased longevity; a good thing, but an expensive result of having an NHS it was never factored into the original costs.

Basic diseases were easily cured for the first time but more complicated and more expensive issues replaced those and again the costs soared.

The advances in medicine became a treadmill for ever increasing costs. None of this is wrong but a public used to the notion of a free health service expected for the same price ever-expanding services and they got them. In the end though like all things there is a reckoning. It could be that reckoning is here at last because I see no way back from the present situation, the costs alone to rectify the total mess we are in now caused by a completely misguided ‘save the NHS’ from being overrun by the effects of the Covid virus have created a situation that I believe is not completely retrievable.

The argument that all would be well if we stopped foreign aid, HS2, ditched much of the climate change scam and put that money into health care are missing the point: while all those things have merit in being culled, diverting that money into the NHS would achieve nothing unless changes to the organisation were made; it would just be swallowed up as I fear this latest ’gift’ from the tax payer will be.

If a government given a golden opportunity to overhaul the NHS in the way it is run and the way it is financed, i.e. an insurance content, cannot put in place any long-term planning as to manning the front line staff, cannot deal with the inner ideologies at work, cannot stop the stepping outside the NHS's remit to deliver health care and ditch such woke projects as running parks, cannot stop adding layers of unnecessary management positions such as the much-quoted diversity officers, cannot get a grip of the joke GPs masquerading as health providers on their well-paid part-time positions... then it is never going to happen and we are stuck with an expensive second-rate health service as it largely is now. I am not holding my breath.

This by the way was the Conservative Party's manifesto pledge, for what it is worth, in 2015.

“The Conservative party manifesto for the 2015 general election committed “to increase spending on the NHS, provide seven-day a week access to your GP and deliver a truly seven-day NHS—so you know you will always have access to a free and high quality health service when you need it most.”

That must look to most of us now as one of the sickest jokes ever committed to a political manifesto and there have been many.

Being at this moment in time still partially incapacitated, I turned on the TV this morning (Thursday) and one of the awful breakfast programs was on. Before I switched off again I noticed a doctor (from the BMA?( was being interviewed about the clamour from GPs to retain the strategy of appointment by phone at a high percentage rather than go back to face-to-face appointments. There was the usual guff about ‘pressure,’ lack of doctors (true), and that many were retiring or working part time working, all causing a shortfall in the staffing of surgeries; the gist of the message was about poor GPs not being able to cope.

At no time in the interview was the question asked: "How could they be under pressure, having hardly worked at all for the last sixteen months, and seeing that today the majority of surgeries have empty waiting rooms and the doctors (in some cases as I know) are only there one day a week?"

Even when told by a patient that not being seen in a face to face interview can create life-threatening situations the doctor put on that stressed look and said being short-handed made these things inevitable; hmmmmm, on occasions like that one could happily put a brick through the screen. The thought that in these difficult times that they perhaps could put a weekend shift in to help and make up for the year spent at home never crossed his mind.

My own underused surgery even has the gall to state that appointments, if you should be ever lucky enough to get one, are rationed to a ten-minute slot for one problem. What happens if the one problem has involved other problems, or you have more than one ongoing problem, they don’t explain. One can in the case of places like this be forgiven for thinking they are taking the proverbial.

They are currently not even trying to give the service we have paid for. A relatively small number of surgeries are actually trying to give that service. I have a friend in another county who can still phone and get an appointment the next day and even a house call; if they can manage it in a busy city, one asks the question why ours and many others remain closed.

Even blood test and x-ray results are taking up to two weeks to come back with a result? Why? The same items pre-Covid came back sometimes in 24 hours, staffing levels in the labs have not changed, so what is going on. The whole thing is a mess.

No one can come up with an easy answer to all this. Different health providers world wide have different set ups and different results: the French system is still largely lauded as the best 'but they spend more' is the cry from those here that want a better NHS;  'we are starved of funds' they cry. Yet the French spend more in part because of the sheer amount of bureaucracy involved in getting anything done; strip that out and it is a better service that the NHS for a similar outlay. Japan spends less than us but clinical results are better. There is no 'one size fits all' in this, that is not not an excuse for the NHS to do nothing about its structure which is broken in nearly all front-line areas.

Bojo’s much trailered hosing of the NHS with money, repeats what governments in the past have done. Will this turn out to be just another sticking plaster? Probably.

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(Ed.) See also this story in today's DM: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-9979131/Top-medic-STEPHEN-SMITH-says-NHS-never-improve-entire-radical-surgery.html