Saturday, 29 December 2012

Ten commandments for bureaucrat bashing

The Sad but Mad one has republished something that needs a wider circulation - it is from Patrick Moore’s book “Bureaucrats: How To Annoy Them”, and was written after he had been in correspondence with a bureaucrat of the name of Whitmarsh from a gas company (even though his house only used oil).  I think I've come across some similar types.

Anyway, here are the rules:
  1. Never say anything clearly. When writing to jobsworths and timeservers, word your letter so that it could mean almost anything…or nothing. 
  2. Don’t be legible. Always write letters by hand, and make your verbose scrawl as impenetrable as possible. 
  3. Garble your opponent’s name. Misread the signature. If the correspondence is signed ‘M. Harris’, address your reply to ‘N. Hayes’ or ‘W. Hardy’. Don’t get too flippant though — the penpushers might lack a sense of humour, but if you write to ‘M. Hedgehog’, they will sense a legpull. 
  4. Give fake references. If you have a letter from the tax office, ref: EH/4/PNG/H8, mark your reply with some other code in the same format, such as DC/5/IMH/R9. This should ensure that the taxman wastes minutes, or hopefully hours, rooting for a file that doesn’t exist. 
  5. The same goes for dates. Get them slightly wrong, every time. 
  6. Follow up your fakes. Write to request a reply to letters that you haven’t sent, and include bogus reference numbers. This is a surefire timewaster and might even, if your Twitmarsh is of a sensitive disposition, reduce him to tears. 
  7. Never pay the right amount. Include a discrepancy in every envelope — never too much, but always more than a few pence. A sum between £1.20 and £2.80 is recommended. Then you can start an interminable correspondence to reclaim the overpayment (or dispute the underpayment). 
  8. When enclosing a cheque, staple it to the letter. With two staples. Or three. Right in the middle of the cheque. At the least, you’ll waste someone’s time — at best, you might wreck their computer. 
  9. As a point of honour, never give up on a correspondence before at least six pointless letters have been exchanged. Think big and aim for double figures. 
  10. If a postage-paid envelope is not supplied by your Twitmarsh, send off your reply without a stamp. The bureaucrats will have to pay much more at the other end. 
© Patrick Moore

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

In favour of minimum pricing

No, not for alcohol.  I buy that (from time to time), so I don't want its price creeping up, thank you.  Where we need minimum pricing is in intellectual property services.

You see, there is a constant pressure from our clients to reduce costs, but this works against the professionalism that we want to bring to our work.  A patent application is not an easy thing to write - we need to think about each individual invention and craft a set of claims around it in a way that captures that invention with elegance and clarity.  This takes time, yet our clients want us to get a move on and not charge so much.

The problem, of course, is that the end result of inadequate care when drafting the application usually only manifests itself much later.  Clients cannot usually tell the difference between a good text and a bad one, so in their own best interests we need to ensure that they all benefit from the finest patent drafting.  We need to raise standards across the profession and make those high standards available to all.

The obvious solution to this self-evident problem* is simple.  We need to prohibit any patent drafting work from being done by unqualified people and place a lower limit on the cost of new patent applications.  This will have a twofold benefit.  First, we ensure that the drafting is done by someone who has demonstrated their ability.  Second, we ensure that those people have enough time in which to really think through the idea and come to understand what distinguishes it from all the rubbish ideas that came before.

Some might say that this will lead to patent attorneys putting their feet up, relaxing, and churning out the same old rubbish while just hiking their prices accordingly.  I sincerely hope so Nothing could be further from the truth - this will be a major leap forward in patent quality and we will soon invent** a way of measuring this which proves it.  This will propel British businesses forward on the world stage, increase competitiveness, increase growth, create jobs, and solve the deficit AND the debt.  Anyone who objects to higher prices for patent attorneys is therefore in favour of recession, unemployment, and national financial disaster.

Of course, some inventors will now find our services to be unaffordable.  For them, there is a clear need for Government support, and a new Department of Inventor Support will be needed through which funds can be channelled to pay for their new patent applications and any other stuff we can slip past them.

There you have it -  a road map to economic recovery for the nation.

*pun intended

**which I intend to patent, thereby winning twice

(For anyone who may be confused, this post is pure satire and does not represent my real views...)

Monday, 10 December 2012

The State isn't working

If you still think State spending is the best way to solve any problem, look at this snippet from my MP Steve Baker:
Last time I divided the social security budget (£207bn) by the number of people in poverty (13m), the figure of almost £16,000 was higher than the income of over half the population.
So why are they still poor?  Simple - because the £207,000,000,000 of spending is mainly used to increase the income of middle-class Guardian-reading State workers who work tirelessly to alleviate poverty.  The one form of poverty alleviation they will not suggest, though, is to stop spending so much money on eye-catching poverty initiatives, cut taxes accordingly, and let the private sector grow and provide employment to the poor.

The same applies to third world aid.  According to the Carswell book, the West has spent over a trillion pounds on third world aid.  However, so far as I can tell, Africa still seems to be poor.  On any assessment, therefore, our aid hasn't worked.  As Carswell suggests, why not stop spending all that money and instead drop tariffs and trade barriers by a corresponding amount?  Because, of course, the aid budget is about keeping middle-class DfID staff in a salary, not about helping the poor.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Ha ha ha ha

Greenies are suggestible enough to think that a gas mask will filter out CO2 from their breath and that universal wearing of gas masks will actually help climate change:


Ha ha... oh, wait, these people have the ears of goverments... ooops.

Monday, 3 December 2012

An interesting conversation

So... HMRC are to aggressively pursue multinational companies that pay a legal, but low level of tax in the UK.  That should make for some fun exchanges, depending on the attitude of the company concerned.

Taxman: "We think you should pay more tax"

Company: "We're paying what the law says we should pay.  How do you plan to force us to pay more?"

Taxman: "Errrrr...."

Or, if the company is scared of villification by our newly-regulated State approved media the PR consequences:

Taxman: "We think you should pay more tax"

Company: "Yes, we agree.  How much more should we be paying?"

Taxman: "Great, let's look at the rules... now... says here you should be paying, err, the amount you are already paying... oh."

Thinking around the issue, though, the problem is that these foreign-owned companies are able legally to export their profits to low-tax regimes.  So, there are two aspects to the issue:
  1. that these companies which serve great* coffee, provide such attractive Internet services, and are such efficient retailers are all foreign
  2. that there are other jurisdictions with much lower corporation tax rates
Let's rephrase this, shall we:
  1. No-one in the UK managed to set up a Starbucks, a Google, or an Amazon
  2. The UK has an attitude which is distinctly unfriendly towards entrepreneurs, reflected in high corporation tax rates and an angry mob who descend on anyone who isn't paying a "fair"** share
Could these two possibly be connected?


**defined as "an unspecified amount, more than you are paying now, and certainly more than I have to pay"