Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Friday, 17 October 2014
We live in medieval times
I have just been sent one of those online petitions to sign, and this one is to do with the privatisation of certain sections of the National Gallery, London.
I once signed one of these things, and for the next few months I was bombarded with other petitions to sign about things I knew nothing about, but was supposed to care about anyway because they were so important. I soon got petition-fatigue and had to tick a box requesting not to be sent any more by total strangers with an axe to grind.
The success of these online petitions depends on the amount of signatures required to force the government to at least talk about it in the House of Commons, and I think it is somewhere around 100,000. When you sign one, you can only submit it by filling out mandatory boxes giving them your email address and postcode, which is the way paper petitions are required to be filled out, but the difference is that nobody looks at the paper ones and many of them are signed by Disney characters. The online company carefully stores your personal information for future use or reference.
The gist of this petition is that - following the resignation of the last director - the board of trustees have decided that all the National Gallery's security needs should be supplied by the company, 'G4' who are the same bunch of unscrupulous so-and-sos who transport criminals between the courts and the prisons, and I think I am right in saying that they have recently been forced to pay the government a considerable amount of money back - millions - for a 'clerical error' which resulted in invoices presented for services which were never supplied.
The other fear is that the trustees will sell-off much of the nationally-owned collection to help pay for the 'services' supplied by G4.
Call me old-fashioned, but I think when it comes to something as important and grave as locking someone away in a prison, this should be done by government employees on a wage, rather than a profit-making company who will take more money from the public purse than it pays to its employees, then divide it up amongst shareholders as dividends. Margaret Thatcher called these people the 'wealth-creators'. I have a different description for them.
The last online petition I signed via this same organisation was to save Cork Street in London as the centre for private art galleries it has been for over 100 years, against property developers who have been greedily eyeing it up since London real estate prices turned into telephone numbers.
It didn't work. I walked past Cork Street the other week, and it is now a cultural desert. The developers got their way, and got the street.
The predominantly Conservative government is - right now - running around trying to raise as much money as they can so that the books look as good as possible in time for the next general election, and to fulfil any extravagant promises they may make in their manifestos.
One little scheme is to sell the share we have in the rolling-stock side of the Channel Tunnel to the French and Germans, now that the high-speed rail network seems to be more expensive than anyone but them can afford, but even the Germans are hitting hard times for the first time since WW2, aside from a moment of panic caused by reunification pledges - Mark for Mark - soon to be offset by the brand new Eastern Block market for Mercedes and BMW.
The under-the-counter plans to privatise the NHS and turn it into the American model of insured health care have been shelved for the time being because of the imminent plague of Ebola - who wants to invest in an organisation which cannot pay pharmaceutical companies billions to save the lives of half the nation who would have payed for the drugs anyway?
Also we have just seen what happens when you have a disjointed, privatised health care system divided into states and regions competing against each other for the dollar.
The second case of Ebola in the U.S. has just infected a health worker because of poor and disjointed planning resulting in bad practice.
The first case has just made a full recovery, thanks to untested treatment. There was not enough time to test this treatment anyway, and - believe it or not - the testing was going to be by giving half the victims of Ebola a placebo to see whether the real treatment really worked! Even I can see a basic flaw in this idea.
It turns out - now that this woman can talk again - that she had already alerted the U.S. health authorities that she had just finished a mission in West Africa where she was treating many victims of Ebola, and was running a high temperature. They said, "That's OK, get on the plane home anyway."
They are now looking for the other 120 passengers - and their friends, family and anyone they may have come into casual contact with since their return - spread out across the vast expanse of the U.S.A. and getting ready for all those Christmas parties which may not happen.
Ok, that's enough. I think I have made my point. I am at home waiting for a delivery, so you all have to suffer my boredom.