A FEW thoughts on things that are affecting our lives adversely (in no particular order). Many of these problems (sorry, issues) are known to everyone and could and should be solved by government action, often involving little effort or time. Yet for many years governments of all stripes have ignored them.
· Banks rip off their corporate and personal customers and are constantly finding new ways to do so. (I have had so much experience of this).
· Big companies don’t pay any corporation tax while small companies pay every penny of theirs.
· The average FTSE 100 CEO takes home 150 times as much as his or her average employee and in some cases far more. Furthermore, not many members of the public or even some media commentators realise that they put a huge proportion of their day-to-day living expenses on to their expense accounts, all duly signed off by their accounts director colleagues who are on the same gravy train and by captive external auditors avoiding any risk to their annual reappointment.
· Many companies and even government departments have telephone numbers whereby the caller pays a higher call charge, often as much as 45p per minute, and the company receives a portion of it. This is made even worse by callers being kept on hold listening to repetitive music for long periods interspersed with messages saying: ‘Your call is important to us’ or ‘We are experiencing a high call volume at this time’ – even in the middle of the night!
· Companies’ websites use the small print to tell you that they’re going to sell your personal details to other companies unless you tick the tiny box at the bottom of the page.
· Spam emails offering products and services usually have the ‘unsubscribe’ link in small, faint print at the bottom of the message and many then ask you to do more actions to achieve it. They should have a bold, single link at the top of the message which you click once and it’s done.
· Our streets, roads, verges and countryside are covered in litter including ocean-polluting masks which the government has mandated and still encourages us to wear.
· Hate preachers and terrorists are allowed to roam free while compassionate Christian preachers are arrested.
· Illegal economic migrants are smuggled into the country in their hundreds every week by criminal gangs, while the government just wrings its hands, utters platitudes and takes no action, instead of deploying the Navy to turn back the boats crossing the Channel, and by making allincoming lorries pass over an inspection pit, through an X-ray arch and heat sensors. All of which could be done without great expense or causing significant hold ups.
· Doctors don’t do house calls or work at weekends any more, and some don’t even see patients, yet have negotiated themselves huge salaries.
· Utility companies have as many as 400 different tariffs.
· Train fares are a hugely complicated mess and are too expensive; trains are often cancelled or late.
· Big companies take 3-4 months to pay their suppliers thereby using (abusing) them as interest free banking and crucifying their cash flows. This is in effect theft of the suppliers’ money which the suppliers would have earned in interest if the money had been in their accounts.
· Big companies also force their suppliers to give, or they unilaterally take, retrospective discounts on the prices they have previously agreed during contract negotiations thereby breaching the terms of their contracts. Another ploy is to charge a settlement fee which they take off the total when they do ‘settle’ a bill.
· A third of all the food on the market in the West is thrown away. It is shocking to see large quantities of good food being thrown into a skip at the back of a supermarket.
· Local councils are killing their high streets by charging excessive business rates and exorbitant parking fees.
· The government hasn’t got the guts to tackle the scourge of gazumping and gazundering in the housing market.
· You can have a contract for services from a supplier for many years and yet when you need to end the contract the supplier insists that you pay out the notice period, often of many months, instead of allowing you to end it with a reasonable maximum of one month’s notice. Many companies, Virgin Mobile being a good example, make it extremely difficult to terminate a contract at all.
· National and local government departments spend millions providing translation services and documents in dozens of foreign languages to cater to immigrants who won’t learn English and are never required to pay for translators themselves.
· Wet wipes continue to create ‘fatbergs’ which block sewerage pipes and are very difficult, time consuming and disgusting to deal with. Why are wet-wipes packets not required by law to have the words: ‘Do not throw these down the toilet’ printed on them in bold letters?
· At T-junctions why can’t we turn left at red traffic lights when the road to our right is clear as can be done in other countries? In Indonesia, for example, it has been in place since the 1970s.
This endless inaction makes ministers appear to be lazy or incompetent and in the grip of a politicised civil service (another reform needed) resistant to any changes that they don’t agree with or would cause them to do some hard work.