Friday, 26 February 2010

Numbers …

Defendit numerus:
     (there is safety in numbers).
Latin Proverb



Wednesday is usually my day to entertain myself with the 'Funny Half-Hour' on television, otherwise known as PMQ's (Prime Minister's Questions). It is staged in that wonderfully quaint vaudeville venue called 'The House' (of Commons).

Last Wednesday, the usual suspects were there, and the line of questioning almost scripted itself considering the disclosures about Gordon Brown's alleged bullying tactics within 10 Downing Street AND the Sky interview that the Chancellor, Alistair Darling gave on the Tuesday before, in which he coined the phrase, "[Number 10] released the dogs of Hell," when discussing the cabinet reshuffle that almost ousted him from his job a few months earlier!

Now, I expect 'The Chancellor of the Exchequer' to be able to take care of himself, or what the hell is he doing in that job handling my money? My short-lived sympathy was for those precious individuals called 'Civil (Snivel) Servants' who apparently were so troubled by being bawled out that they resorted to contacting a 'Bullying Help-Line'! Is it any wonder the country is in the mess it is if we are being led, and supported by, such shrinking violets?


Friends ... ?


But I digress. The topic that provoked this outburst was the little discussed publication of the 'Government Spending Forecast' for 2010. As you would expect, it is filled with numbers, graphs, footnotes and endnotes, and any sane person should end up with a glazed look working their way through it long before coming to the end. I suspect that is precisely what the money-pundits rely on when they choose to 'hide' some facts that they find difficult to explain. Like this ...


Numbers ... ?


Ermmmm..., excuse me, what does 'OTHER SPENDING' consist of that isn't already covered by the other headings?

Excuse me, again, while I trot off to look up the term 'slush fundslush fund

A colloquial term which has come to mean an auxiliary monetary account or a reserve fund. However, the term has special meaning within a context of corrupt (including but not limited to) political dealings by governments, large corporations or other bodies and individuals.

The term 'slush fund' is also used in accounting to refer to a general ledger account in which all manner of transactions can be posted to commingled funds and 'loose' monies by debits and credits cancelling each other out.

Originally a nautical term; the slush referred to the fat or grease that was obtained by boiling salted meat, the sale of which could then be used to provide the crew with special luxuries. The money obtained from this sale was placed into the so-called 'slush-fund'.

Thank you, Wikipedia.


If 84 billion is a number that is beyond your comprehension, as it is mine, let me fall back on a simplistic table of my own to try and put it into perspective. If we approach it as a pseudo-mathematical problem, where you have borrowed a vast amount of money and you are required to pay it back at a pound (insert your own currency here) a second, how long will it take you to repay:

  1. 1,000,000 (one million) pounds?
  2. 1,000,000,000 (one billion) pounds?

Don't fret. I know the 'problem' is unrealistic, but I have done the calculations using that scenario to make a point ...


(GBP or any other)
60 1 minute
3,600 1 hour
86,400 1 day
(one million)
11.5 days
(one billion)
< 32 years (31.715)


Staggering, or what?

And these guys talk glibly of owing many billions of pounds, sometimes even mentioning the awful 'T' word - trillions.

I won't even go there ...

back to the top


Chairman Bill said...

In my monthly budget I call this CAR. It never gets spent on the car and usually goes to fund small frivolities, gross excesses and occasional bribes to persuade my kids to stay away.

jinksy said...

Makes me think of the old adage 'Neither a borrower nor a lender be'. If only, eh?

Martin H. said...

The government have led the way in financial incompetence. Little wonder so many people are spending money they haven't got, on things they don't need.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Sounds like our government!! Snivel servants, indeed!! Truly spineless...Very humorous and informative post, my dear friend, about a terrible travesty! You are superb! Have missed reading your thoughts! So glad to be back! Hugs, Janine

Akelamalu said...

They wouldn't know the 'real world' if it jumped up and bit them on the leg would they? :(

Thanks for the link here Terry. :)

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Hi, Fletch!!! Just wanted to say "hi!" and thank you for your very kind comment!!! You ALWAYS make me smile!!! I love it when you visit!!! And I love to visit here!!! Cheers, my very good friend!!! Hugs, Janine

Shrinky said...

Well I know ONE saving the UK government has just made. They have ended the reciprical heathcare agreement with the Isle of Man. Basically, what this boils down to is anyone here wishing to visit the mainland UK, now has to take out health insurance. Never mind we still fall under the UK, although anyone in Europe is entitled to free UK healthcare, we are not. Never mind elderly ex-servicepeople who fought in WW2 for the UK, and who often cannot AFFORD to take out health insurance, are no longer able to visit relatives and friends in the Uk because of this.. the saving involved is minuscal - unlike the saving they have made by revoking the long standing VAT agreement with our island. Without by or leave, they have ended this too, resulting in our government losing thirty per cent of our income overnight.

I don't know about Gordon Brown "bullying" his collegues, but he and his government are certainly throwing their weight around when it comes to squeezing those vulnerable!



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