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Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘failure

Proposition 19. Just Say Now!

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It looks as if, on 2nd November 2010, a small but very significant part of the world will at last come to its senses and legalise cannabis.

On that date, California voters look likely to approve Proposition 19 on the state-wide ballot that legalizes various marijuana-related activities, allows local governments to regulate these activities, permits local governments to impose and collect marijuana-related fees and taxes, and authorizes various criminal and civil penalties.  Currently the polls show that about two-thirds of voters are in favour.

Over the age of 21 it will be legal to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and to cultivate an area of up to 25 sq ft on private property.  The state estimates it will collect about £1.4 billion pa in new tax revenue.  save $200 million pa in law enforcement costs and generate an additional $12 – $18 billion pa for California’s economy, with 60,000 to 110,000 new jobs.   As the Americans say, with one of their most unpleasant expressions, “It’s a no brainer”.

In America they finally seem to have got past listening to the stupid scare stories and propaganda about the cannabis plant.  The misinformation has ranged from the idea that marijuana makes white women promiscuous with black men to the suggestion that it causes psychosis in adolescents.  Both of these ideas are as impossible to prove as each other.  America also  recognises the huge medicinal benefits of cannabis with medical marijuana legal in 14 states and planned in 15 more.   As a recreational drug,  cannabis use is almost never associated with the sort of anti-social behaviour that alcohol causes.   It produces an essentially peaceful, happy and soporific effect.

Instead of insulting and ignoring their scientific experts as we do in the UK, Americans are now more interested in the facts and a pragmatic approach to drugs policy.  The “war on drugs” is now universally recognised as having been an abject failure.  We should, of course, have learned from the experience of alcohol prohibition in the early 20th century.  That created the whole idea of gangsters and organised crime.  We managed to repeat the same mistakes all over again with drugs.

In ironic appreciation of Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say Nc” campaign, those in favour of Proposition 19 have adopted the slogan “Just Say Now”.  In addition to the direct financial benefits, the state expects to be able to focus police priorities on violent crime, cut off funding to violent drug cartels and better protect children, road users, workers and patients from illegal, unregulated use.

The UK will eventually follow down this inevitable path.   The only questions are how many lives will we ruin and how much time and money will we waste before we finally get there?

See here for the latest updates and news on Proposition 19.

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A Fundamental Problem At The BBC

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I am very close to being the BBC’s biggest fan.  It is a remarkable and entirely unique institution.  Somehow it occupies a place between the state and the people which I can find no comparison for.  It would be easy to define it as some sort of socialist idea but it is genuinely independent from the state.  I do, however, have some concerns about its accountability.  I am very concerned about the way it handles complaints.

No Complaints Accepted Here

I have grown up with the BBC and I trust it.  In fact, I think that it’s done a better job of maintaining Britishness and values of integrity, tolerance, fairness and justice than any UK government of any political complexion.  That’s why the curmudgeons in all political parties turn against it.  I think Jeremy Hunt’s recent attacks and comments were particularly poorly judged.  He hasn’t a had a good start in government at all has he?

I made a complaint to the BBC recently and I am very, very unhappy about the way it has been handled.   The subject is not relevant here.  I shall write about it in future but for now it would distract from my point.  I am horrified to discover that the BBC does not handle complaints itself.   They are outsourced to Capita in Belfast which describes itself as “the UK’s leading outsourcing company…at the leading edge of redefining and transforming services to the public.”  For me that needs a huge pinch of salt, a mountain in fact and even then I’m choking on it.

Handling complaints should be at the very heart of an organisation.  It is the essence of your brand.  There is no more important management function.  Contracting them out is an abdication of responsibility.  More than that, it is a complete failure of integrity, a massive mistake.   If an organisation is truly committed to meeting its customers’ needs it must be as close to them as possible.  This irresponsibility strikes at the very heart of everything I value about the BBC.  I am deeply disillusioned.

If this disastrous decision had resulted in a well administered service then that might be some consolation but not a bit of it.  It is dreadful.  Every bit as bad as any horror story you’ve heard about British Gas, BT or yes, even a bank.  This is the British consumer experience at its very worst.

Not What It Used To Be

In sharp contrast to the rest of the BBC’s websites, try making a complaint online.  It’s like something from the very early days of the internet with clumsy, badly aligned fields and an archaic feel.  I almost expect to hear a modem whistling away in the background.  From a complainant’s point of view it’s quite useless.  You don’t get any option to save a copy of your complaint or email it to yourself.  You don’t even get an acknowledgement once you’ve completed it so you’re left with a completely unsatisfactory feeling of uncertainty.  Did they get it or not?  Will I get a reply?  When?

It gets worse.  Complaints are lost.  They don’t get answered at all.  They certainly don’t get answered within the 10 working days promised.  One answer I received was just laughable in its anodyne, crass simplicity.  It was nothing more than an patronising acknowledgement of what I was “unhappy about”.

Useless

I could go on even further but I won’t.  It does get even worse and it becomes embarrassingly so when Capita start to trot out the oldest excuse of all about “system problems”.  It is an excruciatingly bad, defining example of appalling customer service.  I’d say it takes the biscuit.

All this is the inevitable result of outsourcing your complaints procedure.  That aspect of business that should be one of your most important tools.  What’s worse is that Capita are absolutely useless at doing the job.

It is no exaggeration to say that, for me, this rocks the very foundations of everything I believed about the BBC to the very core.  It is not the organisation I thought it was.  I feel betrayed.  I am “disgusted of Tunbridge Wells”.   In fact,  I am very, very, very disgusted of Weymouth, Dorset.

Keir Starmer Must Go

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Failure

There can be no excuse for his gross dereliction of duty.  He has totally lost sight of the purpose of his job.  Whatever it takes to get rid of him, he must go.

Written by Peter Reynolds

July 22, 2010 at 12:16 pm

A Scientific Conclusion

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“It’s not dishonesty.  It’s a failure to display a proper degree of openness.”

The Independent Climate Change Email Review 2010

Written by Peter Reynolds

July 7, 2010 at 10:19 pm

“No More Obvious Waste” Than UK’s £19 Billion War On Drugs

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A Wise Lady

In the House of Lords on 15th June 2010, Baroness Meacher announced a “radical shift of policy” from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.  The UN’s “war on drugs” has been an abject failure creating an illegal trade worth £320 billion and financing civil war in South America for the last 25 years.  British soldiers die almost every day in Afghanistan fighting an enemy financed by the illegal opium trade.

The UK spends £19 billion annually on the costs of drug law enforcement.

According to Baroness Meacher there is “no more obvious waste” of public money.  When will our leaders have the courage to grasp this nettle, to liberalise our pointless, self-defeating laws and free up billions of pounds of our money for more sensible purposes?

Video here.  Text here.

In addition, expert research indicates that a legalise, regulate and tax regime could contribute at least £6 billion annually in additional tax revenue. How can we afford to ignore these huge sums of money which we could make available to the country at little more than the stroke of a pen and with only a beneficial effect on the health of the nation?

Dying For A Stupid Law

Five years ago, while campaigning for the Tory party leadership, David Cameron called for “fresh thinking and a new approach” towards drugs policy and said that it would be “disappointing if radical options on the law on cannabis were not looked at”. Nick Clegg has promised to repeal “illiberal, intrusive and unnecessary” laws and to stop “making ordinary people criminals”. There can be no better example of this than the laws against personal use and cultivation of cannabis, particularly for medicinal reasons.

The coalition government’s new Your Freedom website launched only this morning is already inundated with proposals to legalise cannabis and to end the futile war on drugs. The site is crashing under the strain of a massive outcry from British people for the state to back off and give us back our freedoms.

We don’t just want our freedom back.  We want our money back too.

Thug Smellie Gets Away With It

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Fugitive From Justice

Another miserable day for British justice.  Another scandalous triumph for police brutality.  Another incompetent, unforgiveable failure by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.  “Independent” my ****.   Weak, corrupt and pointless more like!

Sergeant Delroy Smellie, who should be languishing in jail for several years, in segregation for his own safety, has got away with his brutal assault on Nicola Fisher at the G20 protest.  See the full story here.

This is a licence for British police officers to use violence and brutality whenever they wish, even when they are being filmed.  Whatever the evidence they will get away with it.

It took the Metropolitan Police 30 years to admit they murdered Blair Peach.  Somehow, in the face of the crystal clear facts they have been able to get Smellie off the hook.  This failure of the Courts and the IPCC to call him to account can only be corrupt.  There can be no other explanation.

What about the assault on Ian Tomlinson?  He died after another Metropolitan Police thug assaulted him at the G20 protest.  More than a year later we are still waiting for the officer concerned to be charged.  What hope is there for justice for him?

Who Is The Unfairest Of Them All?

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Amidst the roar of gunfire from the deliberate, calculated massacre by evil Israeli stormtroopers and the tragedy of a crazed lunatic in Cumbria, there is yet another political scandal that cannot be allowed to pass.

Overpaid, Incompetent And Unfair

John Fingleton, Chief Executive of the Office Of Fair Trading, the man who let the British banks off the £40 billion they stole from British consumers, turns out to be the highest paid civil servant in the country.  See here.  This is the most unfair trading of all and makes a mockery of any concept of “fairness”.

He is responsible for the disastrous failure to protect British consumers from the greedy banker robbers who plundered their accounts with outrageous and illegal charges.  He led the badly organised legal challenge to the banks thievery which the Supreme Court turned away as misdirected.  The Supreme Court then invited the OFT to revert to them on a different basis but for reasons that have never been properly explained, Fingleton just gave up.  See here for the full story.

This man is not only unfair but incompetent.  No one is responsible for more unfair treatment of British consumers than he.  It is a scandal that he is even still in his job let alone paid at such an exorbitant rate.