Thursday, 30 July 2015

What's the point of a stronger economy?

I've seen some Lib Dems pointing out that if Jeremy Corbyn wins the Labour Party leadership contest, then Labour progressives (chuckles) may well jump ship for our Party. I've also seen the point raised that said progressives will not be Social Liberals, though they may well be Economic Liberals. I've also seen it mooted that Corbyn is in no way a Liberal, and that he lacks in the area of creating a Stronger Economy.

When Tim Farron was elected leader, I had the possibly naive view that the Party might be swinging back towards me, but perhaps there's further to go than I thought. It may well be true that Corbyn is not a Liberal by nature, that he doesn't approach the world from a mindset of "do what you like, if you don't hurt anybody else". The thing is though, being a Liberal seems for a lot of people to be about policy rather than mindset.

If Corbyn doesn't want to keep the economic status quo, and carry on regardless with austerity, I salute him. As a Liberal, I have come to the view that concentrations of wealth and power are inherently harmful to large swathes of society, and that the free market in its current form fails to address that issue. If Corbyn can't be a Liberal because he is anti-austerity, or is not focused on the economic arms race, then neither can I.

For me, the fairer society is infinitely more important than the stronger economy. For me the stronger economy is a myth. I don't exist to benefit the economy, and the economy doesn't exist to benefit me. The economy for me is as much a product of natural selection as is the size of the human brain. It's sufficient to ensure that large numbers of people survive to breed, but beyond that has absolutely no moral or practical efficacy.

For too long we've bought into a myth that natural selection and market economics create merit, be that merit in organisms, or merit in organisations. But just as knocking someone over the head and dragging them off to a cave served for procreation in the distant past, so did allowing small numbers of individuals to accrue enormous power and wealth serve when we were hunter gatherers, dragging ourselves towards industrialisation.

We made it. We can grow enough food to feed the entire world. We can produce enough green energy to power the world, if we have the will to do so. We can create a society where everyone can experience greatness, where there are no true barriers to experience as well as making a contribution to human wellbeing and knowledge. All we really need to do is free ourselves of the assumption that the status quo has any inherent merit.

So I say, forget the stronger economy. Let's educate people about the myths surrounding the supposed merit of the free market, and concentrate on building a fairer society. We have, no... we are, the resources, we are the tools, and we are the drivers of change. How we divide up the tasks, and the rewards, of improving the human experience should be as fair as our society, and as equal as all human beings are. 


Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Windows 10: Day one, so far.... and too much reflection on my ongoing go slow

So it's day one working with Windows 10 on my main work laptop. I've used the preview on a very old desktop machine, but now it's time to get in some power use. Plus I'm doing so off the background of a new (under 6 months old) Toshiba laptop that has become incredibly unresponsive (despite 16GB RAM, having added and extra 8GB, and a 4th Gen i7 under the hood).

So, firstly, Windows 10 hasn't resolved my speed problems. The HDD (a mere 5400RPM SATA) is still bottle-necking my system with remarkable regularity. I still can't communicate properly with SMB on our development server, though that may not be entirely down to Windows, and running Netbeans, FireFox and Thunderbird at the same time results in fairly regular episodes of "Not responding". 

I've tried playing with power plans, disabling indexing, switching browsers (Chrome/FireFox), switching virus checkers (Avast/AVG), switching malware scanners (MalwareBytes/Spybot), and even running then switching personal firewalls (ZoneAlarm/PrivateFirewall). I've also disabled the evil that is the Mail App, and have scanned my drive to within an inch of its life.

My slow down seems to have begun when Flash Player was installed on Chrome a few weeks ago, and despite running a "Refresh" on the machine and switching all of the above software, as well as wiping Flash and removing all files (excluding Windows and App required ones) from said machine, I still can't get to the bottom of my slow downs. Other than establishing that it seems to be related to my hard drive, and adversely affects applications using the network (despite no evidence of excessive network usage), I'm at a loss.

I was therefore clinging to the vain hope that it was something to do with reserving and upgrading to Windows 10, or even something to do with having my user account spread across five machines (one running Windows 10 Technical Preview, four running Windows 8.1). It is still possible that the latter is the cause, so I intend to upgrade everything I have as soon as humanely possible, but I know I'm basically clutching at straws because I don't want the pain of going through a full reinstall from recovery media (possibly followed by having to re-upgrade).

Anyway, seeing as it is day one with Windows 10, what do I think of it? So far it has been pretty smooth. The process of upgrading took about two hours and once done my Apps worked as well as before, bar a couple of go slows (which may have nothing to do with Windows itself). The new icons look great and the layout and feel are a huge improvement in my view. The only bum note on the layout is that I miss being able to fill my screen with a list of all apps within two clicks but, as I used Windows Phone 7 (on an HTC Titan), I'll quickly get used to the all apps layout in Windows 10. 

My favourite innovation so far is the action centre, which makes me feel like Windows has finally started to get what makes Android and iOS so great. I really hope that Windows will use this as a full notifications centre for quickly scanning through things like social media and app updates, though I suspect a lot of those will come form the Start menu. I don't mind if the duplicate the notifications in both places to be honest, because sometimes I want to skim (action centre) and other times I want to peruse (Start menu). We'll see how it goes on that score.

Until I resolve the issues with my laptop (is it poor hard drive or poor security on my part, who knows) or get to install it on another machine, I won't be able to reflect on the speed of Windows 10, beyond the fact that everything is working at least as well as it did on Windows 8.1, but I think Microsoft may have pulled their proverbials off of the coals with Windows 10. I may still end up dual booting Linux on my work laptop to try to resolve the go slows, but it will be with less glee than I would have yesterday...



Friday, 17 July 2015

Consultants vs Wealth Creators - Stick vs Carrot

Ok, so the Government is telling us that they want a 7 day a week NHS, and they're not afraid to use force to get it. And, while they're at it, they're going to make striking all but impossible... a bit like finding an MP that fulfilled the conditions they're going to set on the unions to get elected, but we'll leave that one for another day.

With this show of force to get consultants to tow the proverbial line and give the people what they want (allegedly), we see in interesting difference of approach. Let's, for fun have a little comparison with the erstwhile mentioned wealth creators, those helpful millionaires and billionaires that make everything in our economy possible (whilst workers merely look pretty).

Wealth Creators can't be forced to pay more tax (or pay tax at all) because:

  • It will cost jobs and money as they will move their businesses abroad.
  • They will move to other countries in order to maintain their quality of life.
  • We'll lose the best talent to countries where they can make more money.
  • There isn't a huge pool of talent that can do what they do.
  • Lives will be ruined by a lack of jobs.
Seems fair enough, so let's move on...

Consultants can be forced to work weekends because:

  • It will create jobs and save money because everyone will take up new contracts working more hours.
  • They won't move into a different career or to another employer that lets them maintain their quality of life.
  • The best talent won't be enticed to other countries where pay and conditions may be better.
  • There is a huge pool of talented consultants just waiting to fill any gaps... we're knee deep in them.
  • Lives won't be ruined by a lack of consultants, or by overworked consultants making errors. 
But... wait a minute... that's the opposite of what we said for wealth creators. Is somebody in Government telling (or at least perpetuating) porkies? Heaven forfend!!!