Hotel television is a selective way to look at the world. Apparently today the big issues are Day 37 of the Melbourne Cup horse racing... the Discovery Channel on a never ending search for killer nazi sharks who terrorise fishing boats where the men wave crabs and cry a lot... public broadcasting where you can pay to show what you want, and so is full of dubbed greek films and Russian soap operas... and BBC World News, which really is fair and balanced but makes the news seem like the most boring thing happening today. They insist on being "world" news, so will not mention the UK at any cost. Instead stories like elections in Peru, a Spanish actress buying a hat, and the Congo fill the airwaves. Especially the Congo.
One of the most depressing hope vacuum stories to emerge for years, there is no relief, no joy and no solution in sight. Every reporter, and the BBC appears to have a dozen in Africa, keeps asking "Did we learn the lesson of Rwanda" and at the risk of being flippant, the answer is quite clearly no we bloody didnt. The ongoing puzzle of the wickedness of man leaves you breathless at the numbers - towns of 50,000 people being emptied overnight. You know they will start finding mass graves, you know the UN peacekeepers will "look on helplessly", you know the African Union will host a banquet so they can collectively look the other way. There should be a prize for every world leader who uses the phrase "An African solution to an African problem" - its people being slaughtered and moved from one killing field to another...
So it got me thinking of how to solve this, and i thought it was about to time to launch my world manifesto...
First, saving the World:
1 - Obvious - troops out of Iraq. We now have an international peace keeping force gathered together - keep them together and send them where they are needed. Half can go to Afghanistan where we need to rethink the tactics and push into West Pakistan and actually attack the training schools and the camps rather than chasing Taliban round the desert. Tough love? Who cares if the Taliban get control of Kabul? Lets get Al-Qaeda and destroy them, and then come back for the Taliban. Dont give me any rubbish about Human Rights - we have bigger problems now and when did we ever rush anywhere just to help the locals. Afghanistan is a country we will never conquer, and a people who dont want to be conquered. We need to sort out the Congo too, and sending a few 1,000 US troops down there would do that. Its not a huge, organised rebel army down there - they just happen to have all the guns in that particular area. And people are dying now, so send them in.
2 - North Korea - seems that Kim may be dead already, but is certainly on the way out. And that will lead to confusion and chaos in a country so tightly controlled. There will be a power struggle and no doubt the army will want to keep control. And the army over there is about 10 times the size of the US army. So we need to start talking to the Generals now. Diplomacy is the only possible solution, and we have to get them inside the international community now.
3 - Iran. Its a democratic country - they had elections, people voted, the ones with the most votes now govern. So get over it and leave them alone.
4 - Israel. Cut them off. We know the holocaust happened, it was a hugely terrible event, but it is now history. We dont support Cambodia, Rwanda, Serbia, Uganda or any other country that has suffered genocide since, and we certainly dont open museums and make films about them. You have our sympathy for what your grandparents went through, but now you are a country like anyone else and its time you grew up and took the responsibility seriously. Build roads and schools in the West Bank instead of walls, and maybe you might have to stop looking over your shoulder so often.
5 - Palestine and friends. Israel exists. Get over it. If we stop giving it favourite child status, you have to stop treating it like a diseased dog you want to shoot. Get on with them, you have no choice in the long run. Look at Ireland - they did it. And if you keep trying to kill Israelis where do you think your water and electric is going to come from?
6 - Poverty. OK, enough hypocrisy. Banks run out of money and several trillion is raised overnight by the world governments. Yet every day 50,000 people DIE because they do not have clean drinking water. Build wells now. Give the money to Oxfam, Action Aid, anyone who has well kits. Tell them to put a well in each village on the globe, and send the bill to the World Bank. Please explain to me how supporting a few Western banks is a better way to spend the money. It isnt.
7 - AIDS. There are countries in Africa where 50% of the adult population has AIDS. In Addis 75% of sex workers are HIV+ and yet they gladly have unsafe sex because they can charge higher fees. Again Mr World Bank - throw some SERIOUS money at this. Education, education and free condoms. Lets not worry about keeping the white man rich, lets spend some time and money trying to keep the black man alive.
And domestically? I guess while i'm saving the world i should give some thought to the UK...
1 - Scrap Trident. 75 billion pounds saved.
2 - Get out of Iraq - probably 20 billion over the next few years.
3 - Screw the banks. All savings are protected so let them go. Take the 100 billion, wave it in their faces, and then spend it elsewhere.
4 - Raise income tax for the rich. I dont mind paying a bit more, ,and those on high salaries should pay a lot more. Top rate of 50% up to 100k, and then anything earned over that at 60%. Corportation tax - actually collect it. How the hell do i end up paying more tax than BP every year??? Lets make it clear this is for 3 years, and we have to do it because of the mess we are in.
5 - Spend the money. I mean, really blow it. Schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, regeneration projects. And not on PFI and private sector rubbish. That doesnt work. Nationalisation baby, thats the future. Build a high speed train line, and control the project centrally. Huge fines for any late deliveries, and insist on a DECENT minimum wage for any contractors. Lets get people working, and lets pay them well. That is how "trickle down" really works - not by giving tax cuts to the super wealthy. Buy a fleet of 10,000 minbuses and give one to every parish council to use as a FREE local bus. Fine councils who have money stacking up in foreign bank accounts - make them spend it locally. Lets rebuild this country and make it the envy of the world.
6 - Climate Change. Bring in congestion charges in each major town - but reduce the cost. 2 or 3 pounds is reasonable, and if it isnt a deterrent then at least we have some money to research and build solutions. Tax polluters - give them tax breaks for real, genuine improvements. Not trading, as that doesnt reduce the totals. Go through with the plans to tax gas guzzlers, and put the price of petrol up. Reduce the tax on diesel, and set up a scheme where professional hauliers can claim the tax back. Make it difficult, but subsidise rail freight to encourage them that way. We all cried when stage coach drivers lost their trade... oh hang on, no we didnt. Freight should be on rails not roads, so drivers will lose their jobs. Retrain them on diggers, fork lifts etc and get them into the building projects.
7 - Agriculture. Nationalisation! Bring back the Milk Marketing Board - centralise control of key products, ensure that farmers get a fair price for their goods, and take control away from Tesco. How did we ever get to a situation where a bunch of Supermarket directors control the UK price system? We dont need price control, but we dont want Tesco getting richer and richer while farmers struggle. And time to reform the CAP with help from our friends in Europe. Reward growing and good crops, and ensure that across Europe prices are kept reasonable. Tesco have been in charge for years, and prices have risen sharply, so there is no argument that the market keeps things in check.
8 - Social crime. Anyone convicted of a criminal offence with a sentence of 6 months or more gets the option of 2 years in the army on full pay instead. And if they dont complete the 2 years then they get sent to prison for 5 years. Extend the offer to anyone who is currently in prison. And on that point, pay soldiers more. Scrap ASBOs, play hardball and jail the little bastards. Punishing someone for feeding pigeons is one thing, persistant trouble making should adopt the zero tolerance policy. First offence, 3 months prison. Second offence - into the army or 6 months. Third offence 5 years. Carrying a knife should be 6 months or the army instantly. And white collar crime should be punished. Fraud, embezzlement, anything done with a computer which is illegal and wrong, punish it hard. None of this making an appointment to come to the police station when convenient - arrest and charge as if they were a drug dealer.
I would also provide a 1000pound voucher for anyone under 21 to use to travel to a distant land. Not Spain or Greece, but South America or Africa, somewhere they would learn something and experience a bit of life. Non refundable vouchers that have to be used at travel agents against listed destinations.
9 - Drugs. Hmmm arent we doing well on the war on drugs. Legalise them, everything. Make them available from pharmacies with a prescription, and control the supply, quality and distribution. If someone wants a gram of coke for a party why not? If they want 10 grams of coke then they need to go to a doctor and get a prescription. Take away the criminality, take away the profits to be made, you take away the crime and you take away the desperation. No heroin unless you attend rehab. Drugs hurt people, no doubt about it, but taking drugs only hurts the user. Stealing to pay for them, selling your body for a fix, murder over sales turf is what hurts society.
10 - Cigarettes. Ban them. We can make up the tax from rich people, but how much more evidence is needed that they kill users, and can kill non users? What good do they do?
11 - Alcohol. We need to educate children so much better. We are the worst drinkers in the world. We drink to get drunk, every other nation either drinks to enjoy it, or to forget the hell they are living in. We need to rebuild a society where binge drinkers are social pariahs, and people just are not allowed to get drunk and violent. Responsible drinking is the responsibility of the individual and should be monitored and controlled by government, not the drinks industry. Raise the minimum age to 21 and enforce IDs seriously.
12 - BBC. Increase the licence fee. Its fantastic, and the more you travel, the more you appreciate it.
13 - Scotland, Wales, Ireland. Time to let them go. The United Kingdom should be a commonwealth of separate states linked closely for the common good. Westminster should be for England only, let the others have self rule. Just make sure that taxation is distributed only in the country it was raised. This will be good for England, and the other countries will become minor European nations like Luxembourg and Latvia. It seems to be what they want.
14 - Abortion. We need to review the science of when the foetus becomes sentient. Women must always have access to abortion in the early stages of pregnancy, but we need to carry out extensive research on where to place the limit.
15 - Roads. Town speed limits to 25mph, roads where schools are painted red which means 15mph. Motorway speed limit removed entirely but tightening of definition of driving recklessly or without care. Speeding fines doubled to 120 pounds, but down to 2 points on licence. Middle lane hogging to be targeted with on the spot points. Young drivers to be refused insurance on any car with an engine greater than 1.2L, or over 99BHP. Advanced test to be compulsory to all drivers every 10 years.
16 - Captital punishment. Castrate rapists and paedophiles. No doubt that will not be easy with human rights legislation, but we need to return the advantage to the victims. Restorative justice - ie the victim is entitled to money or community service from the perp for small offences. All victims to be given court time to tell the jury how they have been effected by the crime. And the death penalty? No. Even for the most heinous crimes, we dont have the right to take another life. We also dont have the obligation to protect and segregate the worst prisoners from the general prison population.
I think thats enough for now, will add more as they pop into my head :)