Saturday, 12 July 2014

Lord Carey gets it wrong

Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury is in the news today because he remains a member of the House of Lords and has indicated that he will support the Assisted Dying Bill "in the face of the reality of needless suffering". He has obviously decided that there are clear guidelines between needless and needful suffering. He obviously believes that there is no right and wrong in matters of life and death despite that bit in the Bible about thou shalt not kill, because that is what assisted dying does.

I have also seen a quote from the campaign for dignity in dying, "an assisted dying law would not result in more people dying, but in fewer people suffering". Well the first part of the quote is simply a waste of time because we all know that everyone is going to die. As for the second part, we expect medical science to conquer suffering. Where we are let down is not in the control of terminal pain, but by the suffering that is caused by the malpractice of basic care to those who are vulnerable. If you don't believe me take a look at 'care home abuse' in a search engine.

Dr Carey should know better because if he wants to break one of the ten commandments with his exceptional circumstances then what about the other nine? Can I covet my neighbour's wife if I don't get my tea on time or if the other woman is exceptionally beautiful or talented? Pick your own exceptional circumstance.

Change the world

Monday, 7 July 2014

Theatre of the Absurd

I have just returned from a short break in London. I went to the theatre a couple of times, and feeling like a lazy tourist, I went into one of those half-price theatre ticket outlets. Unfortunately they only had the most expensive seats for the performance that I wanted to watch so I didn't book them. Strangely, I went to the theatre box office for the same production and all tickets were available including some that are only sold on the day which are £15 as opposed to the top price of £57. The view to the stage was fine and I had just saved £42 on each ticket!

This made me think about our markets in general. There are times when a third party will make life more convenient for us but they want something in return. When I see 'half-price tickets' I should know that it is the middle man's job to make money. They don't want to sell tickets cheaply as they make more money by selling the most expensive items - and they make a livelihood. It should be cheaper to cut out the middle man. It should be more efficient to deal directly with the producer of the commodity or the provider of the service and it should not make any difference whether it is the NHS or street cleaning, providing transport or anything else you can think of.

The trouble is that we, as consumers, are lazy. We want middle men to make our lives slightly easier. It doesn't make for the most efficient systems  but we need a balance between the public and private sector. Now I will always deal directly with the theatre's box office and maybe this is a good rule of thumb for anyone thinking of contracting out their service. Margaret Thatcher used a divide and rule method of thinking in her policies. What does it matter if there are no council houses as long as she wins the votes of the people who live in those houses? It certainly matters to those who want a council house. What does it matter if I am too lazy to deal with a box office as long as I use my money in a way that is convenient to me? This was Thatcher's strong answer, and the strong reply should be that it matters a lot because we are living in a society in which efficiency doesn't matter. Personal gain overrules the right thing to do - and that isn't right. We may have spare money but that doesn't mean we should spend it recklessly as individuals or as a society.

Change the world