Monthly Archives: November 2010

Online presence

I am a member of a number of professional groups and forums as well as informal ones like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. Indeed beneath this rugged and boyish facade I’m a dedicated professional developer. I’ve just read an informal article about the IT job market that offers some tips for getting that job and five things to avoid. One point stood out and reflects on something that Brennig mentioned last week. That is that having an online presence is an asset for seeking employment.

Now I don’t get to interview for IT staff very often. We’ve got a tiny IT team here at “someone else’s lily pad” that consists of me and some part time consultants with a bit of floorwalking by some power users in the office. If a consultant were to leave (why would they do that when they earn more than anyone who is employed) or the spending freeze were lifted then I’d have to interview again. Just don’t ask why they’ll pay for consultants and not permanent staff. I would certainly check out the web site and profiles of any candidates shortlisted for interview and do a google search on them. Some companies go an awful lot further than that.

What would this tell me about a professional though that isn’t on their CV (resume for any US readers)? I’d be interested on what wasn’t available rather than what was. Only by omission could I assess someone’s commitment and interest in a given area. If they weren’t a member of a professional body or didn’t have a LinkedIn profile with membership of the right groups then I’d want to know why not.

Yet how useful is this? They could have, like Brennig, decided that LinkedIn was just shit. They might be over 12 and therefore not interested in Facebook. It is possible that they don’t find Stephen Fry all that interesting and so haven’t joined Twitter. They may simply value their privacy and use a pseudonym when on the web. They may know a little bit about the shockingly poor security measures of public facing social web sites and just steer clear of the whole shebang. What use then is my googling their name or searching for their profile? My expectation that they’ll have an online presence may be unrealistic and even if it is realistic do I want to employ someone who spends time on Twitter and Facebook when they should be working?

Not finding something tells me nothing useful. Finding something questionable or embarrassing does. Well it tells me that the person has done something embarrassing and not much more. That is why you should find that video from last year of you drunkenly singing Lou Reed’s Perfect Day while naked and delete it. You should delete entirely the profile that you use to write online slash porn about Harry Potter and Dobby (what were you thinking?) and you should definitely recover those “candid” pictures from your ex and get them removed from his MySpace page. Delete them now before you even apply for that job.

Although nothing ever truly gets deleted from the Internet.

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Frustrated at work or school?

Kill them all

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How are they spending our money?

Last week “Call me Dave” Cameron spoke about a Green Investment Bank, a bank that is government run and government funded (aren’t they all?) that would be able to leverage more investment than a private bank. A government bank isn’t a “bank”. It is a “fund”. A bank is supposed to take the money invested and make a profit for the shareholders. A building society is made up of shareholders so makes a profit for its members. A fund is a pool of money from many investors that is used to grant loans and make other investments. Given that the government is using our money to make this Green Investment Bank then what it is really doing is making a fund out of our money. Another example of government doublespeak? Well what do you expect?

What do we need a state run bank for anyway? Isn’t the market already saturated with banks? Oh hang on though. They aren’t lending are they? They’ve been hurt and some of them nearly went down the toilet because of their irresponsible lending practices. Well that’s what you get for taking risks with other people’s money and not having a government that’ll regulate the industry. Rather I should say “many successive governments” because it would hardly be fair to blame it on just one or even two or three. No, it is decades of neglect and unnecessary risk with our money.

So the banks aren’t lending and the government decide that somebody has to or the economy will freeze over like the Ninth Circle of Dante’s Hell. They decide that they’re going to lend our money out to investors. They’re tying up our money, money that we don’t actually have, in order to stimulate the economy. Now they can’t just come out and say that because it would look really bad when they are making “austerity” cuts to public expenditure. That is where I think that this “Green Bank” idea comes in. It looks better if the state is doing something good with our money rather than just ripping us off and making yet another quango to keep boys in the City happy and rich.

There are other ways to stimulate the economy of course without creating a fund to lend back to us our money. They could just tax us a bit less. If we had an extra £100 per month in our pockets we’d spend that money or save it. If we’re buying things then someone has to make things to buy and shops have to exist to sell them. That means more jobs and more tax payers. If we’re saving the money (or paying off our debts) then that means the banks have more money and can pay back their creditors (us again as the bail outs came from our money) and lend money for people who want to buy things like houses. More money is in the economy rather than tied up in the state.

Of course if taxes are cut then that means that less money can be spent in the public sector. That means fewer services, fewer civil servants, etc. Then again the public sector is made up of tax consumers and needs to shrink anyway. Quite a lot. If they taxed us less then they could pay out fewer benefits to workers. If they paid out less in benefits then they would need fewer staff in the benefit office to administer benefit payments.

I do not like the way that this government is spending our money. Unfortunately no other party seems to have an alternative.

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Slut Shaming

I don’t usually post anything about feminism. I leave that to the people who are really good at it like Tenderhooligan but this week has been particularly irritating and I’m sick to my teeth of all the people I work with and their double standards that flop about like dying fish in the sun. Yeah, think about that metaphor for second. The people at “someone else’s lilypad” are OK most of the time. Some of them work hard. Some of them care about their families. Some of them make pretty good friends. On the other hand, some of them are lazy, irritating back stabbing bitches who shouldn’t be trusted with anything sharper than play school scissors.

One thing that has particularly annoyed me (and there has been a lot this week) are the few instances of slut shaming that I’ve picked up from the gossip round the kettle and water cooler. Someone is pregnant. Ooh, they must be a slut. Someone got drunk and went home with a bloke. Ooh, they must be a slut. Two people are going out. She’s obviously a slut.

FFS leave everyone else alone! What other people do is none of your business. It isn’t even interesting. We’ve all had sex. Some of us with more than one person. Some of us with more than one person at a time.* There isn’t anything particularly shocking about human sexuality once you’ve actually started having sex. Shock horror, people enjoy it. Women enjoy it. They’re allowed.

Get over it.

The ever so smashing ZOMGitsCriss has posted a wonderful video about Slut Shaming.

*By way of illustration you understand.

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Filed under Debate, Lazy Blogging, Modern Etiquette, Shitbiscuits

Public Sector

According to the Office of National Statistics just over 6 million people work in the public sector. This is 53% of the economy. 523,000 of them work in the civil service.

What does this mean? Well it means that for every pound in the economy 53p of it comes from the state. Hang on though, the state doesn’t earn any money does it? It doesn’t make anything or sell anything. In fact the only way that the state gets money is from our taxes. So that 53p comes from money generated in the private sector. Our money.

If I earn £100,000 in a year (I wish) I will pay about 50% of that in direct and indirect taxes. I say “about” because I’m just using the figure to illustrate a point. Some of the money comes from direct income tax and some from tax on my savings (I wish), investments (I wish), VAT on good and services that I buy, etc. In fact for the UK we pay 42.6% on average in direct and indirect taxation. Soon to increase. The rich pay less as a percentage but more as a sum.

Anyway that £50k in taxes ends up in the pot of the state: the treasury. There they decide how to spend our money. Presumably this is loosely based on the policies that they made while running for office but I wouldn’t bet on it. Of this hypothetical £50k the wages of a civil servant or two are paid along with health and social systems, welfare, pensions, defence, rubbish collection, firemen, the BBC, science research, foreign aid, everything really that the state spends our money on.

If the wages of the public and private sector are equivalent then you can see how this might cause a problem. For every £100k earnt, £106k has to be generated to pay for public sector pay. Some of it is redistributed from taxes paid by public sector workers but there isn’t a perpetual motion machine that gets more out than goes in. Our money from the private sector doesn’t cover the money needed in the public sector.

The public sector is too big.

Not just a little bit too big. It is hugely inflated. It is paid for by borrowing against money that we might make in the future and in our children’s futures. Does that sound fair to you?

Now I do think that some things are really worth paying for. I want an NHS in case I get ill and need treatment. I want a benefits system as a safety net in case I find myself out of work. I want my rubbish collected. I want firemen to be around in case my house catches fire. I want an education system to teach our children so that the next generation becomes an educated and productive work force. There is a lot that I’m willing to contribute towards. If you tot it up though it only comes to about 2 million people of the 6 million employed in the public sector.

What do the other 4 million do? What are they spending our money on? Why isn’t something actually being done about this?

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Wellbeing. Do you know what would make me happy?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/nov/25/david-cameron-defends-wellbeing-index

David Cameron insisted today that the actions a government takes could make people “feel better as well as worse” as he announced plans to introduce a wellbeing index from next year.

Cameron said that it was “high time” to recognise that GDP was an “incomplete way” of measuring the country’s progress as he used a speech to confirm that the government was asking the Office for National Statistics to devise ways of measuring wellbeing in addition to tracking economic growth.

A wellbeing index. Seriously? Do you know what would make me happy? Spending our money on getting this country out of the £4.8 trillion debt that we’re in. Cut 5 million public sector jobs and half the size of the the state expenditure. Create some jobs with that money. Some actual jobs, not civil service jobs paid for by our money but private sector jobs that create wealth and create goods that can be exported so that we bring wealth into this country.

Cameron rejected claims that the initiative was a “bit woolly and impractical” as he insisted that finding out what could help people live “the good life” and acting on it was the “serious business of government”.

The serious business of government is to govern. According to one dictionary (a wonderful book that everyone should get) a government “is the organization, or agency through which a political unit exercises its authority, controls and administers public policy, and directs and controls the actions of its members or subjects”. They work for us. They spend our money. Every politician, every political decision, every penny spent on frivolous, obfuscating schemes is money that comes from our taxes. Our money is being spent so they can see how happy we are.

Let me tell you Mr Cameron. Give me the money instead of spending in on a wellbeing index and I’ll tell you how happy I feel. Remember, it isn’t your money. If it were your money then you could spend it how you like but it isn’t your money. It’s our money.

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