Personal information has become a gateway drug for business

We treat commerce as some sort of separate entity today, but it is quite simply one element of the integrated society we have built. Money is nothing more than a promise, a contract between people. It only works if we all have trust in the system. Money was created as a way of allowing people to trade goods and services in a consistent way.

Money only works if we all accept it as having value, if we lose trust in money they we all need to start carrying around purses with precious metals and shiny objects, that we could use to negotiate for goods and services.

Decades ago we moved away from using coins and notes to using numbers, but initially we had to have a copy of the numbers on our person to share with those we were trading (credit cards, checks etc).

Now all we have to do is give someone our numbers and they can suck money from our bank accounts or credit cards for us to pay later, or implement more complex contracts such as loans or major purchases. Your employer pays you the same way, numbered accounts in numbers locations is all that is needed to move money around.

Numbers are easy. You go into a restaurant and they suck money out of your credit card account. You take a taxi and the same happens. It’s very easy to move money around.

But what happens when the system breaks? What happens when a criminal gets hold of your numbers. They go to CVS and swipe a copy of your credit card, who checks? What happens when the disillusioned minimum wage worker at a fast food restaurant scans your card when they take your order and sells your information. And what happens when the bank doesn’t have enough security around your personal and private numbers, and they are stolen? What happens when one of the largest consumer credit reporting agencies, which has been collecting vast amounts of your personal and private data, loses it?

Quite simply we rely on a small series of numbers as our personal identity. These numbers are published in public documents, as well as being collected by many different organizations. And we have almost no control over how they are published, stored or used.

Theft of these numbers, our identities can take place across political boundaries, meaning it’s next to impossible to bring criminals down.

When someone collects and stores our personal information, they are taking on a responsibility to each person whose information they collect. If by their actions or inactions, that information reaches a criminal who steals from us, they have an absolute responsibility for the loss.

If a person dies because a car manufacturer installed brakes incorrectly, they are responsible. If a drug company creates a treatment with an adverse effect that wasn’t fully understood, they are responsible. And if you suffer a loss because a bank, a financial institution or a vendor failed to protect their copy of your personal data they should be directly responsible for the loss, and for repairing any damage it causes.

The law must reflect the importance we all place on personal data. Today it does not. There are some “soft” laws that describe how data must be protected, but when a business fails to implement these rules effectively the legal response is almost imperceptible. Let people know you screwed up, and maybe offer them a service to monitor their finances for a period of time, and then it’s business as usual.

Most of the world uses a Chip and pin credit card system. Where you have to both have a physical credit card and know a secret pin number to complete an in-store transaction. And nearly every county in the world mandates that that transaction must be entirely performed by the purchaser. In the US, this is not the case, we have a chip in our credit cards, but no pin number. And virtually every restaurant in the US uses a system where the waiter takes your credit card off of you and takes it to a machine out of your sight. These weaknesses lead to thefts that the rest of the world have already solved.

The US also relies on a social security number as the sole piece of personal data needed to prove your identity. Nowhere else in the world is this considered an acceptable practice.

Why is the US so weak in identify protection? Because the banks and vendors are not held responsible for loss, it’s normally left up to the consumer. If the bank makes a loss, they hike up their rates to cover it, the consumer pays.

We need a solid legal framework to protect the whole system, and that probably means much more infrastructure than a piece of paper issued to every citizen and legal immigrant when they are kids or first get the right to work, with a single nine digit number on it.

It’s time for the law to catch up with the requirement. And this means strict regulations and draconian penalties for non-compliance.

Today we have the technology to encrypt data, capture and use biometrics, spot fraudulent access using advanced artificial intelligence, communicate directly to everyone, anywhere, anytime and validate any number of ways.

But do we have the collective will to change a system that’s working quite well for banks, who have become addicted to social security numbers, credit scores, and acceptable losses without penalty?

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Finding Out You Are Wrong, Should Be the Best Feeling.

The human mind is a complex device, but it is not perfect. Everything we learn, we learn through a combination of comparison to previous experiences and then using learned logic techniques to extrapolate new information, which we then can use to compare to already learned information. This is not a simple process, and much of the information we learn is interpreted by filters before being made available to the comparative engines of the brain.

I’m simplifying everything of course, because this is a short blog and I’m an opinion that is based on my own experiences, comparisons and logic.

But simply this process is fraught with potential errors. It’s very easy to learn things which make no sense outside the framework you have already learned.

When you were a child you were taught many subtle things that were only designed to make your parents lives easier. They may well have not been true. Some of these you will encounter as a child and will cause you to question your earliest beliefs, but some will pass through your experience untested and will become true to you as an adult. If these are then proved to be wrong later in your life, you will have a very hard time deciding what is true.

If you believed Santa Claus was real through to your late teens, it’s very likely you would have a very hard time ever considering that he was not real. Imagine if you had received presents under the tree every year until you were 20, and had absolutely no reason to question where they came from, because no one had ever had that conversation with you. What would it take to then persuade you that it was just a story made up my marketing companies to sell more coke.

We all have our versions of Santa Claus; some believe people of a different skin color are a difference species; some believe that socialism in the form of social security or government run healthcare are inherently evil; some believe that their particular variant of religion is the only one that is “true” and everyone else is going to hell; some believe that their family and friends are superior because they all came from the same country in Europe and all became rich due to their grandparents work. And some beliefs are very subtle, but no less damaging to our ability to learn new ideas.

The basic issue is one of trying to change a “core belief”, something that was learned at a young age and has never been tested by your personal experience.

The way the brain works creates fixed pathways for specific situations that become impossible for you to think outside of.

As a species, we must continuously test core beliefs, and where we see evidence that contradicts what we inherently know to be true, we must be willing to look deeply at the evidence and question our own reticence.  It’s hard, but it’s how we become better people.

Here are some statements that cause this form of cognitive dissonance for some people:

  • The earth is round.
  • The earth revolves around the sun.
  • The moon is not a source of light, and revolves around the earth.
  • Evolution is the name of the process of random mutations providing variety that make some variants more likely to survive changing environmental conditions than others, and over very large timescales explains the variety of all life on earth.
  • Skin color is just a simple environmentally preferential variance in a subcutaneous dye found at a lower level in the skin and is not an indicator or any other attribute.
  • The universe was not created for the pleasure of one single species on one single planet out of billions, but is most probably one universe of billions in a much larger system than we can perceive.
  • Guns are dangerous, and their use should be carefully controlled.
  • Trickle-down economics doesn’t work.

At this point a lot of people’s brains may have exploded (of course since those people are unlikely to read my rant or care about my views, It’s not so much of an issue, but maybe some exploding brains (metaphorically speaking) would do the world some good)

When you challenge a core-belief and break its hold on you, you open a world of personal possibilities.

(13)

Why Is A Politician Doing Exactly What They Promised So Terrible?

Democracy is not a perfect political system; it is just the best political system of all those that are known.

America is not a pure democracy, but a fragile psedo-democracy model that relies of the goodness of people to adhere to the spirit of a constitution written hundreds of years ago by a group of amazing people whose shared experiences lead them to a stunning series of ideals around freedom, equality and happiness (happiness, was never a political consideration before 1776, Anywhere in the world, what a truly amazing ideal!).

The process in the US is one of sharing aspirations aimed at like-minded voters during the primary cycle, which is then attenuated during the election cycle to try and draw more votes and then the winner again attenuates their ideas with those of all sides during their time in a role. The result is that everyone is mildly dissatisfied with government, but most people are not furious. It’s not a perfect system, just one that balances experience and power with need and desire.

What happens when a candidate points out that it’s a stupid system, sticks a finger in the air and decides to go all in to win and then do exactly what they said they would do?

What happens is the balance changes, the fragility of the conventions that allow for happiness, equality and freedom are put to the test.

It’s quite amazing that no one thought of it before. It’s a very high risk strategy, “all or nothing”. And we are living it today.

Global history indicates that it’s a bad idea, that the balance shifting in such dramatic ways will lead to hyper-changes to security, economics, the environment and society; not just in the USA but globally.

The security of the world is finely balanced. With borders maintained by a mix of weapons, physical barriers and most importantly economic interests.

The global economy is not based on natural resources, but promises. Currencies are no longer underwritten by gold and silver, but by a mesh of interconnected promises, treaties and subtle winks between national banks. If the largest economy decides to change these rules, every single nation will be looking to garner an advantage from the change, and it’s not clear who would win that battle.

Saying “fuck you” to the world may feel good (really good), but when you play a strategic game, it’s important to know how players will respond to your moves, and it’s not clear that’s the way it’s currently working.

The good thing is, that since no one thought the presidential election would go the way it went, it’s likely that no one built the brain trust to plan a response. So, it’s not just the USA running with scissors, the world is now doing it.

Donald Trump is either the smartest president that every existed in the history of history itself, or he is starting something he will quickly lose control of.

I’m rooting for the Donald to be everything he says he is, but as a scientist I like to see evidence, peer reviewed before agreeing with such a situation. I have seen the evidence of the last two weeks, I’ve listened to the peer reviews, and I’m beyond worried.

As a very smart comic character once said “with great power comes great responsibility”

Lower regulation doesn’t naturally translate to “better”, it can, but why would a business freed from a regulation do the right thing. It takes something else.

Lowering federal taxes, just increases state, local and hidden taxes.

Things that are likely to happen (not guaranteed, but more likely every day)

  • Hyper debt
  • Hyper inflation
  • Hyper unemployment
  • Less human rights
  • War
  • Shorter life span, and a lowering of the quality of life overall
  • A worse environment (air quality, water quality, farm land quality)
  • Less equality
  • Less government oversight
  • Less investment in happiness (the arts)
  • A greater gap between rich and poor
  • Higher overall taxes for the average person (fed, state, local, privatization and deregulation costs*)
  • Less global trade
  • Higher fuel prices and dirtier fuel processes
  • Lower wages
  • A less educated population

*Privatization and deregulation costs

  • Higher Healthcare costs
  • Higher drug costs
  • Higher food costs
  • Higher Road tolls
  • Higher safe water costs
  • Higher heating and cooling energy costs
  • Higher internet costs
  • Import taxes
  • Higher school costs
  • Higher local policing and fire safety costs
  • Uplifts of travel to pay for private security
  • Higher fuel prices
  • Higher train travel costs
  • Higher banking costs

We have become used to all politicians lying, and we know it is wrong.

But maybe a politician telling the truth may be a hell of a lot worse.

 

(17)

Healthcare – A Root Cause Analysis

 

Ten years ago, I knew a woman who died of breast cancer, simply because she couldn’t get health insurance in time to save her life.

I know people who in the past could not get permanent employment simply because of a pre-existing condition (that had already been treated and they were again healthy) could have placed too high a burden on their prospective employers healthcare insurance plan.

Along came a government plan that tried to stop these situations from happening. Millions of people could get healthcare, and the government system was called the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and was quickly given the derogatory (or respectful) name of Obamacare.

Obamacare was an attempt to bridge the gap between the needs of healthcare product providers and the simple need of the USA population of not dying from stuff that the rest of the western world were protected from. It was a flawed first pass at the issue, but rather than fixing it, the opposition used it as a way of trying to destroy the first black president. Calls for making Obama a one-time president as the primary objective of the opposition became a rally cry, and hundreds of attempts were made to repeal the ACA. No attempt was made to improve it, and so the USA population limped along with a flawed, but slightly improved but very expensive healthcare system. Millions more people would receive healthcare, but the costs were crazy, and were underwritten by tax increases (which no one really likes).

Through all of this, the simple fact that the cost of healthcare in the USA is dramatically more expensive than any other western country was not addressed.

The laws in the USA favor health insurance companies and drug and device manufactures. Unlike any other contract entered, healthcare contracts in the US are legal when signed under stress or duress. It’s common for patients entering a hospital to have to sign blanket contracts that demand they will pay all charges that the healthcare provider decides to point their way, and if the insurance companies decide not to pay any part of it, the patient is directly responsible for it. Even the smallest medical procedure can lead to many thousands of dollars in unexpected charges, that the patient has to negotiate on a one to one basis with the legal behemoths employed by the healthcare industry.

The ACA did not do anything to change the closed-market, uncompetitive nature of healthcare.

It is illegal for a USA resident to purchase drugs from overseas. Even though these drugs may well be the same at the ones available in the USA, even in the same packaging from the same vendors, but just available at a significantly lower price.

It is against the law for the US government to negotiate lower prices on drugs or medical devices, by buying in volume.

Doctors in the USA must pay for very expensive indemnification insurance, because there is no control on what types of law suits anyone can file for medical malpractice, even though it is widely recognized that medicine is generally high risk. Costs which must be passed on to the consumer.

Medical professionals in the USA must spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to become registered professionals, and with a for-profit education system and for-profit student loans, they must spend decades paying it back. Costs which must be passed on to the consumer.

Healthcare in the USA is not just big business; it is the biggest of businesses. Generating billions of profits from trillions of revenues every year.

The “pay for influence” USA political system allows, and encourages the whole healthcare industry to spend a very small fraction of their revenue to buy influence at every level, ensuring that the preferential legal framework they have currently, continues.

The fix to the USA healthcare system is quite simple to see, but incredibly difficult to achieve. The costs must be taken out of the healthcare system. Government subsidies in the forms of tax breaks, and payments to consumers and healthcare companies must be reduced and so must the actual charged costs of healthcare. This means healthcare businesses will need to make a lot less money. This means changes to many parts of the law to cap costs, reduce the legal exposure for doctors and hospitals, change the education system, reduce the cost of drug and device development, and place strict cost goals on all purchased products that ensure that pricing is globally competitive. These things will take money out of the pockets of businesses that have been used to getting it, and will not happen without a fight. But while politicians can be effectively paid to take a position, it is virtually impossible.

Healthcare must be a human right. When you are sick you are not able to negotiate. It must be the most basic right of a civilized society. Healthcare must be part of a civilized society, it is social, and the word socialism has been usurped to mean evil and anti-American. Obviously social is not anti-American, unless you believe that the military is anti-American, along with fire departments, the police, power and water services are anti-American (and some people do believe this of course).

This is not a partisan issue; every party currently agrees. Unfortunately, they agree that it’s great that healthcare companies pay politicians huge amounts of money to stand with them and maintain the current model.

Who knows, maybe having a crazed orange thin-skinned self-centered egotist is exactly what is needed to destroy this status quo. Clearly having a Kenyan Muslim didn’t do it…… (you have to love (and laugh at) the propaganda of politics sometimes.

(4)

The real lesson to take away from the US Presidential Election and the UK Brexit Vote.

I’ve worked in the marketing “industry” for several decades, and have been on the “buy-side” all that time. To those not in the industry that means I buy marketing services (creative and media) from companies who sell it. Those companies use very similar techniques as are used in politics to advise on the right message and mix of media, and I’ve found that the accuracy of those “techniques” has always been biased towards the exact services that those “sell-side” marketers are pushing.

During the election cycle we saw every single media outlet doing whatever they could to keep their revenue streams happy. On TV and radio this means keeping consumers watching/listening across ad-breaks, while in print and online it was to maximize their viewership by offering views that would be attractive to as wide an audience as possible.

So every issue was represented from both sides, every fact was questioned without facts and every bullshit idea was presented as equal to any fact. There was absolutely no interest in what any candidate actually was going to do, what was important was presenting every position as equal, allowing every party to just talk and talk.

Stolen information from emails, and candidly recorded audio was presented without any interest in its integrity and was presented as being as valid as formally recorded statements, creating a level of uncertainty around every piece of knowledge, facts and non-facts were melded, and it became hard to distinguish rumor from fact, so hard that most people gave up even trying to, “her lies” and “his misogyny, bigotry and bluster” was seen as equal, which I suspect in the cold hard light of history will be seen to not be so.

And then to support all of this, highly nuanced surveys and polls were continually captured and presented. I say highly nuanced, because polls and surveys always end up speaking to a small group of people who actually are willing to spend the time to answer questions. And when you pay someone to run a survey they quickly learn who they can rely on, and will go to the same people again and again, despite the clear data issue this generated, because that’s how they get paid.

The goal is to create content in support of revenue. Cheap content, presented as valuable beyond it’s true value. Low cost product generating high profit revenue is the dream of any business, including the media.

Polls, surveys, snippets of information then discussed by talking heads and bloggers, who then become the news source for more talking heads to discuss (just look at Foxnews, MSNBC, CNN, NBC, BBC News, Huffington post etc). The actual validity of the core data quickly gets lost in the process of generating “content”

In business the sell-side marketers are always pushing “facts” in support of the “buy-side” marketers case to spend more money. “buy-side” marketers are always under pressure to justify their budgets, and once they start to rely on the “sell-side facts” they are hooked into an addictive cycle that requires them to just double down on their committed plan, spending more and more.

This is exactly what the media do in every election cycle. The biggest measure of a campaign is seen as how much are they spending on ad’s. When in fact these adverts have almost no impact on the election, and yet every campaign buys into the bullshit. Every talking head, newspaper and blogger is writing about who has a bigger war chest, and who is spending more in this month’s cycle of ad’s. Every Ad is presented as a powerful new tool to swing the result, a tool that never produced the promised results, EVER!

The pain that businesses feel when they cannot see a direct relationship between their marketing investment and their business performance is EXACTLY the same as the pain that the electorate feel when the polls prove to be entirely devoid of reality.

The people who are marching up and down outside Trump buildings, should maybe think about marching up and down outside the “free presses” offices.

(28)

Who Is Better at Making Mountains Out Of Molehills (Or Molehills Out Of Mountains)?

Politics is obviously a very dirty sport, the idea seems to be that the one covered in the biggest pile of crap loses. And so politicians of every affiliation do whatever they can to dig up and throw as much shit as they can, hoping some of it sticks.

Sometimes they dig up stuff that is factual, and sometimes they just make stuff up, with little or no basis in reality. And sometimes the stories are relevant to the role they are aiming to fill and other times it’s irrelevant and just personal or humorous.

The hope is that with so much shit being thrown around, it will be possible to make the other person look unelectable. Truth, relevance and the issues at hand actually get lost.

If you like your candidate you want to believe everything they are saying, and if you hate the other candidate(s) you want to disbelieve everything they are saying.

The roll of an independent press is supposed to be to weigh the merits of all this, check the facts and present a simpler and cleaner view of the positions taken. But that ideal has disappeared in a cloud of money. Today’s press is poor, and will do anything to increase their revenue. The simplest way to get people to read/watch/listen is to use every technique possible to keep their audience long enough to increase the ad revenue. They do this my replacing journalists with opinion editorial. The stories today are nearly all interviews with pundits talking about their views on the latest view of another pundit.

There are some notable exceptions to this normal, but in world of millions of news sources, the few that actually investigate just seem slower and are often overwhelmed by opinion. And when they try and compete by moving faster they risk giving away their advantage of credibility.

A candidate (or their team) will say something directly (or indirectly) about their opponent, and all the pundits will report it, and then talk about it. They don’t go and check it, just “report” that it was said, and then ask as many people as they can find about their opinion. These people will be a mix, it’s possible one or two may actually have facts, but it’s impossible to spot facts in a fog of disparate opinions.

According to Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump is an entitled, misogynist, racist, fraudster and a bigot with fascist tendencies. And according to Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton is terminally ill, a liar and a murderer and should be in prison or hanged for treason.

If you support Hillary Clinton, you will be able to point to hundreds of comments that “The Donald” has said, that support your position about him, and if you are a Donald Trump supporter you can point to many articles written by publications and pundits you like that support his position. Neither group is likely to change their position, irrespective of any further stories about your opponent.

There are (in theory) a small group of people who have not made up their minds, and it is these people that can be swayed. I’m not sure if these people actually exist or are postulated by the poor media as a way of ensuring maximum spend takes place until the very last moment in the election cycle.

And while all this goes on there are issues that need to be solved, and each candidate has positions on each of these issues. Many of these positions are not going to be enacted whoever wins, due to the layers of checks and controls, money and influence designed to stop significant change. But each of these is terribly important.

I’ve read the proposals from each of the candidates (and filtered out what I believe to be hyperbole), and I have an opinion on which one makes most sense, and I will be voting based on that. Like most people I have a visceral dislike for one candidate and find the other candidate capable and acceptable and even likable.

I hope my candidate wins, and I will be unhappy if the other one wins. But whoever wins and whoever loses, the world will keep turning and I will live with and support the result. That’s the responsibility I have, in living in a democracy.

They say in a democracy you don’t get the government you need; you get the government you deserve.

 

(13)

Anti-Science Is Incredibly Dangerous

The GOP nominee for president has been talking about the burden of regulations on business, and screamed about the four thousand plus drugs that are currently undergoing the regulatory mandated clinical trial process. He has a simplistic view that if these drugs were sped through a simpler process this would in some way save lives. How does he know?

How does he know that these drugs are going to do what is hoped? How can he know that a new cancer drug won’t actually have some dramatic unexpected effect that could make the situation worse? How does he know that fixing one symptom won’t create other deadly symptoms for the patient, or worse for other people?

Does he understand the historical record of drugs that created unexpected (unintended) consequences, some of which were horrific?

Does he understand the historical record of drugs that had absolutely no effect, but were marketed as cures for everything, causing people to die earlier or less comfortably than they otherwise would have?

The answer (of course) is that he doesn’t know these things, but does know that people desperate for new drugs to help terminal or painful conditions may vote for a candidate who creates fear of regulations.

He also knows that drug companies looking to reduce their costs of development (and their costs of indemnification) would in some cases love to see the time required to meet regulations reduced.

Reducing costs is a good idea, but not by removing scientific rigor.

There are no simple answers to complex questions, history has shown that people who promote simple one dimensional answers are always dangerously wrong.

The science being done today in the fields of medicine and food creation are incredible. The knowledge that scientists have curated on how the mechanisms of life work has opened up entirely new avenues of research that is leading to incredibly complex solutions to previously untreatable conditions. But there is always a “but”. How do we know for sure that one change, or a series of changes that a treatment makes won’t create a situation that will be dangerous in other ways. The answer is we need to be very careful. Being careful means agreeing on a rigorous scientific process to confirm the validity of an idea through careful peer reviewable testing that always errs on the side of doubt. That is exactly what todays regulations aim to do.

The regulatory bodies in existence are always looking to improve their processes, but improving the rigor, efficiency or effectiveness of a scientific process, does not mean reducing regulations.

The scientific process may seem frustrating, but a non-scientific process is not just dangerous it’s would also be vastly less effective.

(1)

It’s Complex

It seems like there are just a few big issues that need to be solved. And solving those issues should be simple, binary things, they are either fixed or they are not. At least that’s how it sounds when you listen to the talking heads, the flag waving, pin wearing politicians and their supporters. It doesn’t seem to matter which political party you listen to, the answer always seems to be simple and directly contrary to their opponent.

Gun advocates won’t consider any change in the law or funding model that doesn’t entirely resolve every gun related issue in a single sweep, while retaining every level of their hard fought for rights both written and interpreted. According to that group we don’t need new laws, we just need to be better as using the laws we already have, and do it with the same or less money every year. While their opponents to guns seem to say that we don’t just need new laws, we also need to dramatically change our whole approach to weapons. The views are so diametrically opposed, that in effect they feed off of each other to ensure that nothing can ever change.

The “issue” of race parity is treated the same way. We have laws and a culture that favors those of fair skin, and European descent. The process of creating an even playing field cannot be solved in days or weeks, but has to be measured in generations. If your great-grandparents owned a house and went to school then your grandparents had an advantage and were much more likely to support financially and socially the chance of your parents going to school or university, which would have dramatically improved your childhood and your chance of a solid and supportive upbringing. It takes generations before a complete extended family is in the position to fully embrace and support the social and economic needs to help a complete generation of children.

The school system in the US today is probably more segregated than at any point in any countries history. Why would a well-educated family want their children to be in the same class or even the same school of children who grow up in broken households, or have parents who are poorly educated and don’t value education? The answer is that a cycle has to be broken, and that means investing very heavily in providing accelerated high quality support to any group of people who are below a socially acceptable level. Today that often means people of color (every variety). Yes, it means actually spending more on those who need more, as opposed to spending more on those who already have most. And of course those who have most are in the best position to fight for ensuring they continue to get the most.

The US through a complex mix of drug laws, social and economic segregation, and a draconian legal and penal system have created an underclass in society that is demonstrably color-coded. An underclass that is identifiable partly by skin color, but also by a dramatic difference in clothing, wealth and accent. This underclass then gets treated poorly by employers, the government and its legal proxies, which ensures that it continues to be an underclass.

I don’t believe the police are institutionally racist, but I do believe that the markers of the aforementioned underclass are always going to be a specific target for the police.

As an officer of the law, if you were to see a youth dressed as a 1970’s punk with torn clothing, a disheveled look and a bag, you would be interested in the contents of that bag. In today’s world, a large proportion of the societally created underclass are of color, and I would expect that that means that like everyone else, the police have learned to spot these as potential trouble spots. Is this institutional racism or is this a human response to the effects of hundreds of years of race based culture and laws?

It takes incredible effort, and professionalism to change society, and that does not come easily or cheaply. But it does need to happen.

Better schools and a fairer penal system designed to rehabilitate and not institutionalize, are long term requirements.

Policing that takes into consideration the currently economic and socially disparities is a shorter term tactic. The idea that everyone stopped by the police should be treated with military level aggression seems counter-productive to me, but with so many illegal guns, and so much at stake for anyone arrested due to the draconian legal and penal system, what choice is there?

There can be no tolerance for violence, either people protesting against the government or the government exceeding its power. In fact the best place for people and officials to unite is in stopping violence.

This country needs to fix social disparity, it is possibly the most expensive , resource intensive and time consuming activity a country can undertake, but it has to happen.

Yes it is complex, but that doesn’t make it impossible.

(10)

Why is everyone so upset about Brexit?

Listening to the conversation on the radio, TV, newspapers etc. you would think that the UK decision to exit the European Union is a form of country wide suicide, which has the potential of becoming a global Armageddon. Frankly I don’t see it.

uj4

There are arguments for both the UK staying in the EU and for leaving, the country voted, and the democratic decision is to leave. But it seems those who were hell bent on remaining are a little upset. I get it, but it really isn’t the end of anything.

Being in the EU had some value of course, and being out also has some value. There are different strategies that is all.

I’ve heard people opining that now they won’t be able to travel to Europe, and their kids dreams of living all over the world have been dashed. This is just not true. Before the UK joined the EU, large numbers of people chose to live in other countries including Europe and beyond, and nothing has changed. Let’s face it every English bank robber from the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s moved to Spain, and there was a lot of work for the Police and courts to deal with finding and extraditing them. Now I believe the ex-crooks choice of destination is a large estate just outside of the M25. Thousands of Brits live in the United States of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Asia and everywhere else. Thousands more live in France, Germany, Spain, Italy etc. and from my experience I can confirm that moving to a country in the EU is no less bureaucratic than moving to one outside the EU. I’ve done both and frankly it’s just down to the friendliness of the people in the town you move to, and many European destinations are known for making life hard for foreigners. Try moving to France and you will see what I mean, some towns are wonderful, some are not.

There is this fear that businesses will move their jobs to Europe, now that the UK is out of the EU. Again this is just not true. Businesses will place their jobs where the business environment is friendliest to them, with the most beneficial taxation and employment laws. Having hired people in Italy, Germany and France, my experience is that the climate is not business friendly and the UK already has a massive advantage in its employment laws, and this is likely to get even better now that the UK government can make decisions that are UK economy focused. It’s one thing for companies to say they will move to be in Europe, but another to actually do it. Today many US and European companies have moved their European HQ’s to Switzerland, now they may choose the UK. There are some great places to do business in Europe, places with superb work forces with highly technical skill sets and language skills, and the UK is one of them, and can compete quite nicely.

There is this fear that the UK will become a closed country with no immigration. ARE YOU KIDDING ME. The UK has the strongest history of immigration from its empire days, and the incredible people that moved to the UK from India, Pakistan, Africa and the Caribbean are a testament to the power of immigration. The question will just be (like it is for the USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, China, etc), what are you going to contribute to the UK? People in need have always been able to come to the UK, and that will clearly continue, and people who bring value to the UK have always been able to come to the UK and that will also clearly continue. The only change will be that the UK will set the rules. I remember taking the train from Paris to London and having to go through 2 immigration checks at the Paris end, firstly by the France immigration and then again by the British Immigration at a desk no more that 10 feet behind the French. Why, because the French were allowing (pushing?) immigrants who they didn’t want to keep in France to go to the UK. It was a French way of not following the immigration rules that were setup by the EU. The UK of course always followed those rules. Now the UK can set the rules, and being British I believe they will be fair. So I don’t expect there will be any problems with NHS doctors or nurses, as they will still be encouraged to come to the UK. And I expect that the Polish plumbers (who may well be the best in the world and clearly have an amazing work ethic) will not be pushed out of the UK. Conversely, if you happen to have a skip in your garden while you renovate your house, you may now find it fills up a bit quicker, as I expect there will be less people rummaging through it for metal (this will only make sense to a UK resident).

The fact is that about a quarter of a TRILLION dollars of gold is stored in vaults under London. And London is in the best position of any country to continue to be the conduit for money transactions between continents. Actually being outside of the EU may well provide the UK with an even bigger advantage in this regard if the UK government and its regulatory authorities are smart.

The UK has some of the best universities in the world, some of the most innovative engineers, and some of the best employment laws anywhere for industry and businesses to grow. Since the 1980’s though the UK has focused on moving from building things to selling things, and this has had a terrible effect on manufacturing and raw material production. It’s quite possible for a UK outside of the EU to turn this trend around, and make the UK the leader in new industries that are only just emerging now. What is needed are leaders who truly can inspire the population, and I believe they do exist and the climate is ready for them to take the lead.

The UK is well known as being a green and pleasant land, and that means it’s a wonderful environment for agriculture, animals, fishing etc. Again government policies designed to stimulate agriculture and focused on the UK’s specific interests would be wonderful to see.

Rather than being depressed about leaving the EU, the UK should see this as a chance to lead.

Being in the EU was hard, and being out of the EU will be hard, it’s not the EU, hard is just a fact of life. A choice has been made, and now it’s everyone’s job to make it work.

 

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