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Showing posts from April, 2014

The real cost of alcohol

What is the cost of a bottle of whisky or beer? No I don't mean the price I mean the cost. The real cost has to take account of the effects of alcohol consumption. Alcohol consumption is linked to more than 60 medical conditions. The total cost of alcohol harm has been estimated as £20 billion in England, £680 million in Northern Ireland, £3.6bn in Scotland and £1bn in Wales. These figures include more than £2bn in healthcare costs. That is a big price to pay! The £20 billion in England would be enough to fill the gap in NHS funding. 
The BMA has a campaign to increase the price of alcohol. Now a new study by Cardiff University has highlighted the link between the price of alcohol and the fall in violent crime.


Commenting on the findings of study, Professor Sheila Hollins, Chair of the BMA's Board of Science, has said:

"A drop violent crime is positive news, especially if linked to changes in drinking habits.

"With the costs of alcohol related harm estimated at £25bn a…

When we should die?

The craziest proposal from the government on pensions is that everyone will be given 'advice' on their life expectancy. This is an absurd misjudgement about the nature of health science. The idea that data obtained and applicable at a population level can be given for an individual is wide of the mark. Not only is it crazy, it is also from an insurance point of view highly dangerous. It begs also the question of who will give this advice and on what it will be based. Frankly I doubt if the medical profession would touch it with a barge pole.

Unless someone has a particular condition with a particular prognosis a GP would be unable to judge for any of their patients how long they will live. Of course an average life expectancy for the population is available together with relative risks from smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise and so on. But it is all somewhat guesswork for any given individual.

So the government having made the decision to 'allow' people to spend thei…

Maria Miller's lack of ethical compass

The Culture Secretary Maria Miller has resigned. She is yet another self inflicted wound. But how does it happen? Is there something wrong with the way of thinking that gets politicians trapped in this way?  I think the answer is yes. It is an inability to distinguish between what might be 'legal' and what might be ethical.

I didn't do anything wrong is the line taken by the former Culture Secretary. It was also the line taken by Mr Cameron. She didn't do anything 'wrong'. What he meant of course was that she 'followed the rules', and where she may have made a 'mistake' she has apologised. It is all a misunderstanding, and everything really is rosy in the garden, except for the lingering smell of rotting vegetation.

Sadly it indicates that they have no ethical compass. There is nothing in their thinking that asks whether something is ethical rather than simply 'following the rules'. There it is - the problem.

And what are these 'rule…

No sense prevails on badger cull

New plans to eradicate bovine TB in England unveiled by DEFRA today. 
There were many experts who warned that the badger cull would not work. An independent report now confirms the worst fears. That many badgers were killed inhumanely with many badgers taking longer than 5 min to die.  The cull failed to reach its effective target. Yet the Environment Secretary Owen Patterson ploughs on regardless. 
A comprehensive Strategy to "achieve TB free status in England by 2038" has been announced by Environment Secretary Owen Paterson today.

This includes continuing to strengthen cattle movement controls, a grant-funded scheme for badger vaccination projects in the ‘edge area’ at the frontier of the disease, and improvements to the four-year badger cull pilots in Somerset and Gloucestershire.

DEFRA say that following recommendations from the Independent Expert Panel that assessed the badger cull pilots last year, a series of changes will be made to improve the effectiveness, humanenes…

Farage bests Clegg in TV debate

What surprised me about the Nigel Farage - Nick Clegg debate was that Clegg made no real attempt to extol the positives of EU membership. His arguments were defensive not of our EU membership but of his own position. They were also negative rather than positive.

What is odd about the outcome is that Clegg's opening statement was good. In my view better than Farage. Clegg was being positive, but then it all changed.

Clegg attacked Nigel Farage, trying to ridicule his opponent instead of countering Farage's arguments. Clegg missed the opportunity to say why the Liberal Party supports membership of the EU. It was a missed opportunity.

Clegg spent several minutes not arguing about the EU but about Syria! It was a side issue. The debate Mr Clegg was about the EU! A wasted opportunity.

It is therefore no surprise that Nigel Farage came out on top. Even the Liberal spin doctors found it difficult to spin a win for their man. In short, Farage wiped the floor with Mr Clegg and got away…

Cable's idiotic defence on Royal Mail

The Business Secretary Vince Cable has that unfortunate demeanour of somebody who got it right. He would have us believe that he got it right in predicting the financial collapse. He didn't of course but legends are often allowed to grow in politics. Now he insists he got it right over the sale of the Royal Mail despite criticism from the financial watchdog, the National Audit Office, that the Royal Mail was sold off too cheap.

Vince Cable defends his decision saying that the sale achieved its objective of selling the company and 'reducing the risk to taxpayer'. It is a bizarre defence. Selling the company for 1p would also have achieved that objective. What he failed to do was to get the best deal for the British taxpayer. But Vince Cable knows best. It is an idiotic defence.