Archive for the ‘Latest Ideas and Opinions’ Category

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As everyone knows, yesterday was the day that the rich got richer and the poor got the impression they were better off. Although in reality, when is anyone actually better off. Although fuel duty didn’t rise, we can’t afford fuel. Although a pint went down 1p, we still can’t afford a pint. Although in 2015 you’ll be able to earn ¬£10,000 tax free, nice sentiment but in reality it means pennies.

All the above taken into account, the biggest annoyance on my part, was the well paid, elected members of our counties, acting like a bunch of yobs. They were jeering, pointing, laughing, abusing and basically disrespecting each other for the cameras. As in my previous blogs, no one actually answered one of the questions posed by either side. In reality it seemed like a bit of fun. The place was packed, which is a rarity. The ammunition had been prepared a day early thanks to leaked information. It was just an expensive episode of Jeremy Kyle.

Good TV but is anything in parliament actually truthful or representative of the people¬†any more. No matter what the party in power do, the opposition would have done it different. If the opposition make a fair point, the party in power do something different, just to prove they went there own way. It’s mob rule it seems. No one has any morals, no one has any clue and everything is done for cheap points and judging by yesterday, cheap laughs.

I have to be honest, I don’t even know my local MP, they have no interest in knowing me either it seems. They don’t come around my rural location to find out what my opinion on anything is. In fact they don’t ask anyone. They turn up when one of the other parties drops the ball, to emphasise the mistake. They have no better morals or ideas on fixing things, they just have the majority agreeing with them on one point and maybe winning the odd vote.

I’d like to see a parliament that is a genuine representation of the people. People from a diverse background of areas and employment. Normal people who know how it feels to live on nothing and struggle to find employment. The problem is that people are nurtured to vote for particular parties by events of the past. Labour will soon be forgiven for putting the country into the mess it is in today because the Conservatives are having to tighten the purse strings. But when they do eventually get the country back in the black, people will have become tired of them and voted Labour back in. Liberal Democrats will side with anyone to get into parliament. UKIP will preach that they will sort immigration but what are the other items on the mandate for them. Not a lot it seems.

Perhaps it’s time for a new party. A party that gets a chance because they earn it, not because the rest are terrible. A party that understands you can’t please everyone, but is open and honest about the reasons they are changing the mandate to match economic climates, immigration statutes and things that need to be amended to meet demand. It’s not the things of dreams, it just need belief from the people.

I’d support anyone that realises that we can’t allow any immigration currently because we don’t have jobs. Someone that realises that the current benefits system, tax system and credits system is poor and needs revamping completely to a standard format. A party that understands that council tax is extortionate when coupled with the other taxes we pay on everything from fuel, car tax, income tax, VAT and alike. And someone that realises we need to become more self sufficient in production, manufacturing and technological development to create jobs of the future. We can’t all work in retail, warehousing and transport. We need to build some things too.

Something needs to change to stop the boys club doing whatever they like for the rest of my lifetime. Perhaps people like Dave from the Bank of Dave, Richard Branson and others like them, should be encouraged into parliament. At least they have an opinion and they’re not afraid to share it in the right way, rightly or wrongly.

Would love to hear your thoughts and hope you enjoyed the read…

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Whilst watching Crime Watch and similar shows, I couldn’t help wandering what it would actually be like, if we invested as a country in top quality CCTV on every street. The mere mention to some people is hell but this has to get you thinking into the whys?

I, for one do not feel it’s an invasion into my privacy having CCTV recording 24/7. In fact, as long as it’s not inside my own house, it really doesn’t bother me at all. Why do people worry so much with what may be recorded. Sure, people are doing things that may not be completely normal and wouldn’t want it to become public knowledge but if it’s legal, what’s the issue? The bonuses speak for themselves. I know the costs of having operators monitoring it would be¬†extortionate¬†but even if it only recorded and was played back, once a crime had been¬†committed the benefits would surely¬†outweigh¬†the feelings that the government wants to watch our every move.

If it was of a decent quality and on every street, the chances of a crime would be less likely surely. And if someone was idiotic enough to take advantage of an open window or a victim. The likelihood of them actually being caught and the police having visual data to back up the case would be immense.

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Russia has always been eager for surveillance in slightly different ways to what I am imagining. But after the recent meteor strike and all of the footage that was readily available, it served science well. Although a lot of this was recorded from cameras that were within cars, due to the large amounts of vehicle accidents that occur in Russia. Another thing that I don’t think would go down too badly in the UK with all of the claims that occur after fairly trivial vehicle bumps.

I know with a lot of new initiatives the first issue a lot of people have is, what can and can’t be recorded. I’d imagine people would be concerned by what could be recorded. But I honestly believe that the pros will always outweigh the cons. As long as of course, the CCTV was of a quality that made a difference. Why people still install the old kind of cameras, that have a black and white¬†silhouette¬†that bounces across the screen like a ghost, still amuses me. Do you recognise this figure, he is a man and has black hair? What chance do people have? But the new kind can read a newspaper. It can show clearly who people are and if it was readily available across the country, would follow the criminal from point of crime to point of rest. How much easier would this make life for the police, insurance companies and us in general.

Imagine the money you could recoup once the cameras had been installed. You could charge for clips as long as the case had gone either to the police, insurance or an¬†independent¬†governing party. You could find a lost pet by following it’s path, children, criminals or even determine whose fault accidents actually were, not just blame the poor person who had no chance but to hit the back of a car that braked for no reason.

I’m sure there are negatives to the concept and feel free to comment on them below. But for me, apart from the initial outlay, it would create jobs, create security and help society in general to improve.

Hopefully you found the post interesting, thanks for reading it…

In¬†today’s¬†climate, it’s getting easier for employers to pick and choose who they hire. Some even take this to the extreme and treat job seekers like cattle at a cattle market. They bring them in, hundreds at a time, spend no real time with them and don’t have the means or the method in place to turn them down gracefully. Forgetting how much effort and cost the actual candidate has spent getting to the interview, maybe buying suitable attire for the interview and even hours spent stressing about it.

Fortunately I have a positive example of how the process can be done. The company in question is called Mystery Shoppers, whose website is http://www.mystery-shoppers.co.uk.

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Now I wouldn’t normally mentioned the details as it can seem a little biased but when I have finished stating the lengths this company have gone to, to make me feel like an important candidate, person and potential future employee, I think you’ll agree, they deserve a special mention.

The job was advertised in the local Bude & Stratton Post, it was for a Client Services Manager. Something I felt was suitable, as I have relevant management experience, albeit in other industries and sectors. A nice easy application process, which in the current climate I am always grateful for. Send an CV to either an email address or postal address and the company will be in touch.

The very next day I had a reply, thanking me for my application and informing me that following the closing date for applications, someone would be in touch with me.

The closing date passed and as promised, I received an email inviting me to interview for the position. But would you believe my poor luck, I had got my first passport interview on exactly the same day. So fearing this would be my application over and done with, I emailed Valerie at http://www.Mystery-Shoppers.co.uk and explained my predicament. Valerie replied that she should be able to sort something for me and true to her word, she phoned me a few days later to ask if I would like to attend the interview earlier in the day to complete the paper based assessment, meaning I would have an extra half an hour on the back end of the interview to make my way into Plymouth for my passport interview. Not only this but she had booked me the first slot for my oral interview with Paul Grafton, the Managing Director.

How many companies, go to this length to¬†accommodate¬†a candidate. Rightly or wrongly I have known people be turned down flatly due to having an interview at exactly the same time as another, as the candidate should make themselves available. I agree you need to show commitment but these things happen. And when you do eventually get a job, wouldn’t you rather work with an employer who will make exceptions for¬†extenuating¬†circumstances.

So anyway, I attended the interview. Got offered a nice cup of coffee and completed a nice paper based activity involving a geography exercise. Something I hopefully didn’t do to badly on, after all, I have worked in transport for years.

Secondly we did an interesting group activity,involving a scenario, this was assessed by Paul and Valerie, who made notes on our performance and interactions I’d imagine. Mentioning I’d probably use the gun in the scenario to shoot the tribesmen in order to keep all the survival goods, maybe didn’t help my case for being a fair manager. Although it was taken in the humour it was meant.

Next up, I got a one on one interview with Paul Grafton, who is the Managing Director and a very friendly, experienced and well travelled man. He made me feel comfortable and opted to have a friendly chat style interview, taking notes and letting me express myself in a more relaxed atmosphere. Rather then the usual name forty negative things about yourself scenario, that make you feel very positive about yourself in the middle of a very pressurised environment. I think it went quite well as we over ran our chat a little. Discussing my learning Mandarin Chinese and Paul’s experiences of countries such as China and Saudi Arabia, which I personally found fascinating.

Lastly, I got to actually do part of the job, which would give me and the company an insight into my capabilities. Although at this stage, I was clock watching a little but did do the task to the best of my ability. On an even better plus side, I did in fact make it to Plymouth to prove I was both English and me but that’s a whole different post.

A week after the interview, I got a very nice email explaining that a couple of positions had been filled and apologising for the length of time that had gone. And offering me some positive feedback, which is always what candidates enjoy and saviour the most. Valerie also informed me that I’d hear more in a couple of days regarding the final outcome.

Unfortunately a few days later, I was in fact unsuccessful for the position. But informed I would be considered for future positions, something that I had no doubt was a genuine email, as opposed to the automated ones you receive from other companies, stating you’ve been unsuccessful.

But after all that had happened and the process being so positive all the way through, I didn’t come away from the process feeling negative and destined for the dole for the rest of my life. I actually came away feeling that I’d made an impression and that I could in fact hold my own with other people with similar experience. Now the only people who will truly know the impression I made will be the company. But for my part, I think that they did an amazing job in making a good impression and would happily recommend them as a company going forward and who knows, one day I might need to use a service similar to the one they offer and wouldn’t hesitate in calling Valerie or Paul and make that happen.

Hopefully this will encourage businesses and interviewers to think about the candidate that little bit more in the process. I know with having a thousand applications for a position you can’t address each one individually but try to remember the effort it takes to apply, the impression you leave for the future and the fact that one of these candidates may need to use your service in the future. Mystery Shoppers did and look at the free publicity they’ve received because of it.

Hope you enjoyed the post and feel free to comment as always…..

5564444814_917e0b2052Question Time. A show that allows politicians and councillors an opportunity to answer the questions put forward by a studio audience or even people like me and you on Twitter and other social media.

But¬†every time¬†I¬†watch the show, something really annoys me. The ¬†questions never actually get answered. Not for want of trying on the part of David Dimbleby, who last night asked closed answered questions, up to 6 or 7 times and still didn’t get an answer. And people still ask the question of why we have no real faith in politics. I’m still yet to meet a councillor or politician that answers a simple question with a yes or no, even if they then had to elaborate on the answer and explain the whys or buts of the situation.

Now I know some of the questions aren’t always a simple yes or no but surely this should be in the response at some point. After all, I’d have a lot more faith in opinionated politics, as opposed to the statistic kind we currently have. You get the impression that if someone asked the politician which party he actually represented, they’d say things like “it’s not always a question of representation, it’s a case of my views on life and love” or something similarly pointless, that has no relevance to the question asked.

Lets look at the episode broadcast on the 28th February. This was one of the first closed questions of the night and quite simple to answer you’d think, given that fuel duty is an issue that a party should have a plan for.

Q: Are you saying fuel duty is going to come down?

A: Well we have frozen it every single time since?

Q: Is it going to come down?

A: Well we have frozen Labours planned duty increases, we have spent ¬£5billion helping motorists, I would love it to come down but it’s a constant battle…

So in hindsight, can anyone tell me if fuel duty is coming down? I’m not sure and when I next vote, this is an important issue to the majority of us. So surely a yes or no would have been a better approach to gaining trust. We can all appreciate what we know, so even mentioning that Labour were intending to increase this already extortionate tax even more, is purely to score cheap easy points.

It got worse after this point. Some of the questions won’t have been answered by the next episode with how much cheap chat was being made. If I wanted figures I’d have studied a maths degree. I know it’s an unforgiving job and I know the media will jump on any chink in the armour of a candidate, politician or councillor. But please answer at least one question a week with a yes or no answer, to prove it’s possible.

I often got told that I should have been a politician, which I felt was quite a complimentary comment. After watching how they operate over the years, I’m beginning to think people were being fairly negative. I’d love to have the opportunity to interview politicians for a living but I don’t think I have the time to get the answers I’d need. I mean to start every Q and A, you generally need a name. How frustrating would it be, when the person in front of you answered “Well it depends, I get called right honourable gentleman in parliament” “George by the wife” or “Mr Osbourne when my staff address me.” It’s an answer granted but now a simple straightforward answer. Next question would be the interviewees age. “I was 28 in 2012”. So does that make you 29 now? “Well I was 27 in 2011”. It sounds patronising but it really is as bad as that.

My advice, if you want to relate to the people who should be voting. Keep it simple and just answer the question. If you don’t like the question or don’t have an honest opinion, give up politics. We need a voice, a big pair of nuts and an ability to argue for what we believe in, not what’s nice to hear.

Just a thought and feel free to comment as always…

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In the wake of events in South Africa with the sprinter Oscar Pistorius, the main focus has been, did he or didn’t he, kill his innocent partner Reeva Steenkamp?¬†In my opinion, the main focus should firstly be with the family of Reeva and the grieving process and secondly with the fact that guns are so readily available in so many countries, it’s hard not to imagine these incidents¬†occurring.

Look at the USA. They still operate of the opinion that guns are for protection and if they didn’t have one and the person who enters the premises does, then they can’t defend themselves. Ignoring the fact that they also have an armed police force, national guard and armed forces to defend themselves. Guns shouldn’t be available to people on the streets of any country. What gives any man the right to decide if another man lives or dies? The ironic thing with stating this fact is that it often results in death threats and anger, which makes the point even more relevant. If the people making the threats have guns, it’s a pretty serious threats. Piers Morgan is often abused because he questions the gun laws. Although he didn’t insist they should be banned but questioned the numbers and types of guns available. But I see daily on sites such as Twitter, the abuse he gets because of a mere statement or interview.

USA was an easy target for an example as they are often publicised heavily due to the unfortunate age of victims. It is often innocent school children or party goers that get targeted. But here in the UK, the problem is becoming more regular. Large cities often have gang violence with weapons such as guns or knives. And speak to any of these gang members and the ideology is exactly the same as the normal American Citizen. They have to carry a weapon because a rival gang member will have one. I have seen these things first hand growing up. People I grew up with have been in prison countless amounts of times. But they come out and fear retribution for the crime that got them reprimanded. So “tool up” and risk an even greater crime.

When does it stop escalating. The more the media publicise the violence, the more fear provokes people to have protection in the home or car. Baseball isn’t the most popular sport in the UK but if you look in certain areas, lots of people purchase the bat, although not many purchase the ball to play the game. The scary part for me and lots of people I talk to is the young age of the up and coming gang members. Often in areas with gang violence, the victims are the family left behind. But this isn’t just in terms of the upset and grieving. This is the imprint of the pain, the death caused. It can escalate into anger at a young age and often results in repeat violence from young brothers or sisters seeking retribution.

Being completely honest, I am not saying protecting the home is a bad thing. And I completely agree with the often used example, if a burglar breaks into my house, I will use whatever force necessary to stop them harming my family. The scary part is, that if I own a gun, that will almost definitely result in death for someone. The common point people make at this point is, the burglar deserved it, the burglar would have done it to you. All fair points, but what about the intruders family, children or friends? They did nothing to deserve it and although he made the wrong choice by being in your house, you still inevitably pulled the trigger.

What is the answer? Honestly I don’t know. But until we find a way to stop weapons being the only form of defence against fear, we’re going to see more and more needless deaths, murder or otherwise.

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment…

Lee

 

Once upon a time, a whistle would blow or a bell would chime and work would stop. Has this disappeared on purpose or have businesses merely taken the bell or whistle off the wall?

I know laws are in place to ensure that we all have adequate breaks at work. But in reality, laws are only effective when they are followed in every office block, warehouse or factory. And who actually polices these laws and regulation, the HR department of a national company who are in London, while you are in an office in Devon.

Lets be honest now, how many people reading this have worked through lunch to meet a deadline? How many feel pressured to do this regularly? How many have lunch at a desk and a colleague or manager will just check on some work? The sandwich goes back on the foil and this time is magically wiped away from the dinner hour. It happens everywhere and the mere mention of it, screams lack of commitment to the company you work for.

In my opinion, countries such as Spain and Japan have a far better system then our own for this sort of issue. Some companies in Japan have pods for the employees to sleep in during breaks to ensure they are fully rested and performing at the best of their abilities. It gives them a break to dream of new ideas and evaluate the day so far. Although I have to point out, that I for one can’t do power naps. If I eventually go to sleep, it’s for good, not for 30 minutes of relaxation time. But the principals are right. People need a break. Its common sense. But when we go to a cafe for a cup of coffee, do we look at the beautiful view at Crooklets Beach? Or do we get our IPad or laptop out and just check on our emails.

When do we unplug everything and say, today I am going to relax and evaluate ¬†the day in it’s simplest form? This is how some of the greatest ideas in history were thought up. We need to use the greatest piece of technology we have from time to time, which is our own brain. When you sit in silence, have you ever noticed how many new thoughts occupy your mind? Things you may not have thought about for years. You start to evaluate things, you start to use skills you have learnt over the years to decide the best way forward. Instinct can be our most prized asset but we spend so much time checking Google, reading forums and updating social media, that we never actually ask ourselves what we think the best form of action may be.

I’m a firm believer in technology being used to make things easier but lets stop developers making it the new human brain and do a little thinking for ourselves. Not using the internet or technology for one day isn’t as scary as it first seems. Take a walk, meditate, go to the gym and you’ll see a new perspective. Even if it’s the realisation that actually, you can’t live without the technology you use so often.

Just an ironic thought, the irony being that you need to use the technology to read the post in the first place. I needed to use it to write it but no one said I was perfect either.

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment…

Lee

 

 

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President Obama has decided to increase the minimum wage in America. Now most people will think this is a noble act of someone trying to put an end to poverty, in a nation where people are still starving to death. A similar action was taken in the UK a few months ago. My opinions of the minimum wage are pretty honest, I don’t think it helps anyone.

Lets face facts, money is generated to spend, save or borrow. If we earn more we’ll have more money in our pockets to spend. True enough but what happens to the things we want to buy, they go up in price due to increased cost in production, distribution and retailing. All these areas rely on staff accepting minimum wage to make good profits. Looking at the costs in the home alone, we don’t benefit at all.

I decided to do a little case study based on a 21 year old, single person, living in Bude, Cornwall who needs to be a car driver due to poor transport links to work. Below are my estimates.

Income

Lets look at our minimum wage of £6.19 an hour (21 year old) on a 37.5 hour week.

This gives us a £12,070.50 per annum gross salary. Without being too accurate with regards to tax and National Insurance, this would give us roughly £10,740 per annum to live on or £895 pcm.

Expenditure

Rent for a 1 bedroom flat in Valley Road, £395 pcm.

Water Bill £50 pcm.

Electricity/Gas £99 pcm.

TV Licence £21 pcm.

Phone Line/Broadband £14.50 pcm

Car Tax £11.25 pcm

Car Insurance £100 pcm

Petrol/Diesel Costs. £80 pcm

Now based on those estimates that leaves us £124.25 per month, give or take a few pound.

Food/Household

Now the above to me are standard living costs. But we haven’t even done a basic weekly food shop for around ¬£29. The cost of food has risen dramatically over the past few years, with even basic cupboard fillers such as bread and milk being unaffordable in my opinion. With this sort of budget you have to pick and choose which area of your life you forsake. ¬†You ¬†can’t pick and choose any products, you have to take what you can find, which in the majority cases are heavily laden with salt and sugar to make them taste a little better. You have very little chance to buy anything fresh, as the cost of these products mean you’d have to leave other products you definitely would need. And lets not forget the¬†hygiene¬†and personal health aspect. I have no issue stating that cheap toilet roll, as a massive example, is absolutely useless. It is not good for your health,¬†hygiene¬†and in reality your pocket, as it’s so thin you use a roll per curry. But it is all you can afford.

Social Recluse 

Now even though food is the¬†necessity¬† This is the area that really gets to me the most. We are all overweight, spend too much time indoors watching TV and playing on our¬†game station¬† This person is living alone and can’t afford to socialise. What doesn’t cost these days. They could join a local football club. I pay ¬£3 per week for the¬†privilege¬†of playing. About going to the gym, only if they don’t eat for the month and use the entire shopping bill to afford the membership. Maybe they could try the pub and meet new people there. Hmm, maybe not. So what is available for this person, that works hard on the minimum wage purely to stay alive. Not a lot in my opinion.

Now all of the above is an example in my eyes of a person living on the national minimum wage. Although personally, all the wage is¬†actually¬†doing is keeping the person alive. The worst thing about the example is, I haven’t even included the credit cards, loans or overdraft the person will now doubt have by this age. Whether it be through educational costs, living expenses or once in a while, a night out with friends or family.

What is the answer?

In my mind, living in a world where money is everything, I don’t see how we can improve things easily. We could put the wage up some more and go full circle. It makes no difference what we’re paid, as it’ll increase the cost of buying what we need. Perhaps the answer is driving the costs down by using local suppliers, wholesalers and retailers. Taking the national status and scrapping it. Making communities self sufficient and supportive of each other.

Can’t see it and neither can you but inevitably, something needs to change. We can’t live, while we’re just trying to stay alive.

Thanks for reading…

Lee

Image : http://perfumeshrine.blogspot.com/2012/08/what-i-used-this-summer-sensuous.html