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Friday, January 1, 2016

My Three Wishes for 2016, To Bomb or Not To Bomb, Obscene Wealth, Is Fat Bad, Dump Trump.

My Three Wishes for 2016
Firstly, with it looking more and more likely the UK referendum on the EU will take place in 2016, my great wish is that the UK stays part of this great European family. Like many families, there are parts that disagree with each other, parts that don’t obey the rules and parts that are downright disagreeable, but there is no doubt in my mind that we are better together, as the world’s largest single market. Better to stay inside and negotiate improvements than leave and stamp our feet on the outside. Whatever the failings of the EU today, I have not heard a single convincing argument about how life would be better outside the EU. Leaving the EU would result in the break-up of the UK, a gradual increase in unemployment in England, and in order to continue trading with the EU, we would need to adhere to a set of rules determined by 27 other countries over whom we no longer have influence. It would be a disaster! I hope, and I believe, that the British people will have the good sense to see this.

My second wish is that the world gets its act together and finds a solution to the conflict in Syria and the wider problem of Islamic extremism, both of which are linked. This will be neither fast nor easy, but the rich countries need to do more. To start, it is not just Europe who should be helping and admitting Syrian refugees fleeing the conflict, but rich nations in Asia and the Americas. Europe has so far done its fair share in this respect. It was great to see the UN pass a resolution binding countries to find a solution for Syria. But this is at least 4 years late and we all need to step up and do more faster. My wish is that at this time next year I will be able to say that we have been doing much great work to start to bring the conflict to an end, that the numbers of people forced to flee is declining and that the destruction wrought by extremist groups such as Daesh is also on the wane.

My third wish is that the business climate in the UK should continue to prosper, encouraged by government policy and hard working people. One of my fundamental beliefs is that if most people work, are paid at least a reasonable wage and unemployment is low, all of the other pieces should fall into place, as if by magic! ‘All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone’ said the French philosopher, Blaise Pascal in the 1600s. I could not agree more with Pascal. Nothing has changed in this respect over the last 400 years. We all need to be occupied, feel valued and contribute to society in some way, however tiny. The UK government has done a lot over the last 5 years to enhance the business climate, create employment, encourage start-ups, and generally make it easy to do business. My wish is that this should continue and should be adopted in other countries where such an approach would clearly boost their economies.

To Bomb or not to Bomb
In December 2015, the UK parliament voted to join our allies in the bombing in Syria, aimed at damaging Daesh, the terrorists who call themselves Islamic State. If this had been decided by referendum, it is unlikely that a majority of the British people would have voted for it. This is a good example of allowing our parliamentary system to do what it does best: to debate a series of complex issues over a very long day and allow most MPs to vote with their conscience on the issue, having weighed up all of the arguments. Here is my simple résumé of the argument:
Reasons To Bomb
·       We must destroy Daesh, an evil bunch of terrorists at least as bad as the Nazis
·       We must support our allies – in particular the French who are calling for us to join them and use our expertise in precision bombing to improve the outcomes
·       We should not sit back and do nothing and let our allies do the hard work
·       We are already acting in Iraq and for Daesh there is no border between Iraq and Syria so we are just putting limits on what we can achieve and giving them an advantage
·       The UK joining the bombing would be sending a clear message to our allies and to our enemies
·       Our allies fighting on the ground desperately need our help from the air to win the war against Daesh. Air only or ground only can not win.
·       After 4 years of war in Syria and several hundred thousand civilian deaths, we must do more to bring the situation to an end.
·       We must do something to end the war, stop the flow of migrants, and help the millions of innocent people who are being forced to leave their country.

Reasons Not To Bomb
·       Innocent people will almost certainly be killed as we drop bombs from the sky
·       We should be talking, negotiating a solution rather than showing extreme aggression
·       It is unclear what the strategy is to work with ground troops (which ones) to win the war. Without a clear plan, it may be unwise to start.
·       Many people believe that by showing aggression, it will drive more people to sign up to Daesh as they see the west as ‘anti-Muslim’
I can’t think of any more good reasons Not To Bomb, although the four I have listed are incredible strong ones. Having considered this at great length, I support parliament’s decision to extend the bombing from Iraq to Syria. My main reason for this is that I believe we must do as much as possible to defeat Daesh and help the poor people in the region. Not bombing seems an easy option and besides, some of the things the not-to-bomb campaigners say we should be doing, we can do as well.

Obscene Wealth
I recently watched a television report on how some of the ‘high net worth’ celebrate Christmas in London. These are people with obscene amounts of money; some are discrete, some like to flaunt it. One part of the programme was centred on an up-market florist in Belgravia that I have walked past and admired on many occasions. We started off by looking at their beautiful Christmas wreaths, which start at £600 each. The Manager then explained that he has contracts with a variety of clients to put flower displays in their properties. He has clients with apartments who pay £100, up to large houses in Eaton Square where the cost is £10,000. The reporter asked if these payments were monthly ones and he said no, weekly. We were then joined in the stunning shop by the London based Manager of a family from the Middle-East with a properties in New York, the South of France and a town house in Covent Garden. He explained that this year it was looking quite likely that they would be spending Christmas Day in London, although he was not sure as their plans often change, and he had a budget of £250,000 for flowers for the London property. We watched as the florists got to work and placed amazing flowers, a tree and decorations in the house. Quite spectacular, but at this budget in needed to be! The Manager mentioned a woman living in London who saw another property locally that she liked and asked him to track down the owner and buy it. After a difficult search, due the complex company holding arrangements of the property, he finally tracked them down; it turned out that the house was already part of the lady’s property portfolio! I can see why socialism looks so attractive to many people. Shame it doesn’t work! It is far better to welcome people like this to our country and have them inject some of their wealth into the economy than to frighten them away with higher taxes.

Fat is Bad?

A YouTube video by blogger Nicole Arbour ‘Dear Fat People’ has had over 7.5 million views and has caused a lot of controversy and prompted many ‘response’ videos criticising her. Arbour goes on a 6-minute rant on how fat is bad and should not be normalised. Fat people should not be treated like disabled people she says as the fast majority of them are like that because they overeat. She explains how whilst she was waiting in a very long airport security queue, the ‘fat family’ (obese actually) were fast-tracked in front of her because they were unable to stand for that long. She is extremely rude about obese people and I am not at all surprised that she had had so much negative reaction. But she does raise one valid point I believe. As a society, we should not make being over-weight an acceptable, almost normal, way to be. Over-consumption of cheap sugar filled drinks and other products are damaging our society in a way we are only just starting to wake up to (congratulations to Jamie Oliver on his campaign). Whilst there is clearly a small proportion of over-weight people who have medical problems that make it hard or impossible for then to lose weight, it is very clear that the vast majority of fat people are fat because the eat too much of the wrong food. And although switching away from fizzy soda drinks (like colas and all the others) is very hard as the sugar rush is highly addictive, it will actually save you money. Instead of 5 cans of coke per day, 5 glasses of water (maybe with a little treat) will save you a great deal of money each month. So the idea being peddled by the crap food producers that cutting out this sort of poisonous food and drink will hit the poorest people most in the pocket is absolute rubbish. It will actually save them money. With something like two thirds of middle aged women in the UK now either over-weight or obese, 20% of primary school children obese, we clearly have a massive problem that needs to be addressed fast. I hope the Cameron government will act this year. My final point is how retailers and companies providing products and services to the public need to be more responsible. Providing larger seats in cinemas and bigger portions in restaurants in NOT the answer as it makes it all seem acceptable and normal. Let me give you an example: I recently went to Patisserie Valerie and asked for a pain au chocolat. They brought me a pain au chocolat the size of a large dinner plate. No exaggeration. When I asked for a regular one and not a super size, they told me that was the regular one! I asked them to put it back. I have since noticed that their cake portions also look much larger than can possibly be healthy for one person to eat by themselves. Their food is seriously unhealthy! The cakes look beautiful but I am sure they are very bad for you. Obesity is the new smoking. Let’s do something about it NOW!

Dump Trump
Mr Trump recently said many Muslims nursed a "hatred" towards America. He said they should be banned from entering the US "until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on". What a shame he didn’t check the facts first rather than stir up the masses with patriotic claptrap and cheaptalk. Since 9/11 in 2001, over 400,000 people have been killed by gunfire in the USA. Of these, just 45 were linked to jihadist violence, including the recent San Bernardino tragedy. France unfortunately suffered 150 deaths in 2015 from Islamic extremists. But very few others were killed by gunfire in France. So it doesn’t require a rocket scientist to work out where the main problem lies in America: guns. Much, much more than islamist extremists. But America’s leaders and prospective leaders don’t have the balls to stand up and say they are going to radically change the current gun laws and become like other first world countries where guns don’t form an important part of people’s lives. It really is pretty simple. By voting in Barack Obama as president, Americans showed the world that they didn’t care about colour or religion. His arrival on the world stage did a great deal for international relations. By replacing him with someone like Trump, exactly the opposite would happen; nations starting to believe in the USA again would start to hate it. The likelihood of attacks on Americans both inside and outside their territory would be greatly increased. One thing Trump is very good at, is reminding everyone how rich and clever he is. A bit of research into him tends to confirm his wealth, although it is largely inherited from his hugely successful (immigrant?) parents. Four of his businesses have gone bankrupt. As for his intelligence and the high IQ he talks about having, well that is all very questionable. Just listen to him speak, look at his writing and judge for yourself! Lord, or should I say US Voters, please protect the world from Donald Trump.

“Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien” – Voltaire 1770
“Perfection is the enemy of good”

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