Another pheasant valley funday

Ahem, with apologies to the Monkees, ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’, for the title of this post – sorry, just could not resist.

Courtesy of Mr FM, who regular readers may know is currently enjoying a somewhat weapons centric holiday in  the USA, I was able to take his peg on a driven day this Saturday.

The day started well, if cold, with a little fog and quite still and after our very hasty lunch break the wind piped up and the sky became a little less threatening, although we were to be denied sunshine.

The birds were scarce and stayed low, with the best drive at the end with the beaters coming through a thick woodland delivering a dozen or more to our guns.

Overall tally was a little over 30 – some landed the wrong side of a canal and it was too late too dark and frankly too hard to get them.

But we did have a good day.   The countryside was spectacular and we covered a variety of different terrain and the state of the Land Rover proof that we’d been through proper mud.   My tally was 4 I think, 3 pheasant and one partridge and I brought 2 brace home for the freezer.

Nephews and nieces were invited to assist as I breasted the birds, with all but one and my two gore hungry kids running screaming from the garage as they saw the knife, to the relative safety of murdering monsters on their Nintendo DS’.   As our US cousins would say; Go figure?

Deeper and deeper in debt

Boris Johnson in the Torygraph today rails against our dear leader, long since named ‘Tax and Waste Brown’ by otber bloggers, after the pre Budget announcements aimed to rescue our economy at a stroke.

What muppets.   As good old Boris says, you got us into this mess Gordy, with your NuLab policies.   And like a  broke and desperate gambler who has already lost the family siliver you are now putting the house on the next spin of the roulette wheel.    Our national debt will  increase to over 8% by 2010 – levels not seen since Harold Wilson.   It is madness.

I’ve been whingeing on about the level of government spend for as long as I’ve been blogging, but there is a statistic at the bottom of Boris’ article that really brought it home to me….read on:
We now know that to fund this fiscal stimulus, taxes are going up on incomes over £40,000; we know there are going to be huge increases in national insurance that will hit employees, employers and the self-employed. How on earth is that supposed to boost job creation?

Might it not have been better, if you were going to splurge £20 billion in tax cuts, to spend it on cutting National Insurance and helping business to keep people in work?

There is nothing wrong in principle with a fiscal stimulus. What makes the remedy so desperate is that Gordon Brown managed to squander such eye-watering sums when times were good.

It now emerges that of all the jobs created since 1997, two thirds have been in the public sector. No wonder the country is broke. The more Gordon Brown swanks and preens and claims he is the man to fix things, the more he recalls the firefighters in that American movie called Backdraft, who tried to claim credit for heroically (and abortively) attending an inferno that they had ignited.

So much for fiscal prudence.   Spin, spin and yet more spin.    And all those civil servants on sweet final salary pensions.   They’d better hope there is some money left.

The Rally of the Tests 2008

Well it’s not all doom and gloom – one needs a distraction after all – and this years Rally of the Tests was a cracker.

Starting in Bournemouth and winding our way down to Exeter, Taunton, up to Malvern and then further up to Stoke on Trent before heading west to North Wales for the finish in Llandudno, it was 4 days of frenetic fun.

Big Mike and I have done the event twice before together and he’s done it several more times.    Each time the real challenge is to finish without breaking down….it’s not called a Reliability Trial for nothing.

In 2005 in my BGT we managed to brake hard enough to shift the engine forward so the fan could try and corkscrew it’s way through the radiatior.   This was in the Derbyshire Dales and we had to be towed back to the control in Buxton, where we (well, the rally mechanics to be more accurate) stripped the radiator out, fixed it and off we went again.    We’d lost a lot of time, so our result was not tip top.   But we finished.

In 2007 in Mike’s BGT on a particularly rough stage in a Scottish forest we managed to crush the fuel line on a rock and have a puncture at the same time.   We got to watch all the other rally cars pass from a nice wet spot at the side of the road.   Car fixed again by rally mechanic Andy with a jury repair that probably is best explained over beer….   We lost a bit of time there too….and I still needed to get two new tyres as we had another puncture on the way home…   But we finished.

This year, with the fuel lines now running safely out of rocks way inside the car we were going very well, until I started to have gear selection problems.   Eventually this worsened to the point we had to  stop and have rally mechanic Peter rebuild the clutch master cylinder….the problem?   The clutch return spring had disintegrated….Grrr..   We lost some time, but made it to the special stage at the army camp that night which was a cracker, the headlights giving out just as we completed the last section..

But we finished and we’ll be back for ’09.

Crisis? What do to about the crisis?

So, Gordon is lauded as the saviour of our economy, his fortune in the popularity polls has staged a dramatic comeback and he must be feeling a little smug that the Conservatives lost their deposit in Glenrothes.   Not that the latter was really ever in doubt and, I suspect, he is more pleased that the SNP rennaisance seems to have temporarily stalled.

But the big issue amidst all this economic drama has to be the big picture of what to do.   There is no panacea, quick win or low hanging fruit – they are as ephemeral as their titles suggest.   In todays immediate must have world the risk is that as a consequence of our impatience for action, we do the wrong thing.

This crash gives us – in fact requires us – to make some deeper long term decisions about our economy and its’ place in the world.

The truth is that in pure terms of productivity we are quite insignificant.   We have built success on the back of global financial markets which until recently performed well.   Despite all the criticism of the fat cat bankers, remember that without the global liquidity they provided it would have been well night impossible to get a loan for car, never mind a house.   The catastrophic failures in Banks are a direct consequnce of a combination of a collapse in asset values more fundamentally driven be a collapse in confidence.

The restructuring in Britain needs to take into account our new position in the world.   US domination is not finished, but it will have to learn to get on better with India and China.   We need to look to new partners and settle down to a decade – I mean it – of real financial prudence, rather than the wholly dishonest version Gordy was selling us over the last decade.

There is much talk in the press of what the government needs to do to ‘kick start’ the economy.   Again we are lead to expect a easy and immediate remedy which is unrealistic.   There are a range of things we need to do:

We need to lower business taxes.   In the short term this will be hard to do, but it will make us more attractive for investors and this, coupled with the dramatic fall in the value of Sterling, will make us a great place to do business.   We should also resist any temptation to tax the very rich any more.  They are immensely mobile and will simply go elsewhere when we need their acumen and capital the most.

We need to reduce public spending.   Again hard because it will have an effect on the economy, but the reason we must not continue to spend is because we will have to borrow and that, with a weakening currency will be catastrophic.

We need to reduce the cost and bureacracy of government.   Far too much money is wasted here.   We all know it and government growth spawns legislation.   This goverments record of new laws is outrageous and more people than ever seem to be growing tired of the control freak approach.

We need to improve and increase education.   That does not mean spending lots more money, but it does mean keeping children at school for longer.   They may not like it, but we have to reduce the amount of feral and useless young in this country.

We need to encourage individual accountablity and responsibility and reverse the entitlement culture.   Social handouts must be on an as needed basis, not an as of right basis.   The culture of ‘entitlement’ has to be changed: it’s cancerous and any and all handouts must be given in exchange for some contribution to society.   This is the most dramatic shift in our endemic parasitic dependent culture.   If folks have to ‘work’ for their Giro, they might decide to work in a real job and contribute.

We need to be patient and positive.   On the plus side, companies who have taken big write downs and cut costs dramatically over the last few months will be better poised to be competitive and return to profitability more quickly.   They are more likely to start hiring and growing as they have been forced in the downturn to become more efficient and to get rid of some economic baggage that held them back.

We need a more common sense approach to justice that is more equitable.   No more hoody hugging and no more Asbo’s awards.   Proper consequences for crime.   Could we force the young unemployed into the Forces?   Maybe – we’d need to fund it and I don’t expect the Army relishes the challenge of cleaning up so of today’s yoof; but then again maybe not….

So, that’s my tuppence worth.   I could be wrong, I could be right.   But we need to take positive action and somehow convince the public to be patient.   It will require a great and popular leader to implement.

If only we had one.