Opinion – Do KFC and McDonald’s target the poor? Fast food restaurants concentrated in areas of deprivation – Mirror Online – John Gelmini

McDonalds restaurants and KFC’s can be found in genteel places, like Cheltenham in Gloucestershire and in places like Bath, England, a place which Dr Alf once knew well because he lived there. In America, where I lived for some years, they are sited near road junctions all over the country where people of all income brackets can eat their wares. In the UK, people in more genteel areas lobby councils to have proposed sites based well away from their wisteria clad houses, so a disproportionate number of these outlets are sited further away in more downmarket areas. However, you can find them all over London and our major Cities and even in Kensington and the Square Mile, hardly bastions of austerity.

The charge of targeting the poor is accurate, in the sense that fast-food prices match the budgets of the poor better than the costs of eating in the Gay Hussar, the Ritz or the Savoy and because fast food contains chemicals, which are addictive enough to trigger pleasure receptors in their brains make people want to eat more of it. That said, people are not automatons and are not forced at gunpoint to eat Big Macs or KFC “Zingers”, despite the fact that the late Colonel Saunders is the second most well known person on the planet. He, as a pensioner, built what is now a £23 billion gbp turnover business employing people all over the world from a zero start visiting 1009 restaurants to sell his secret recipe whilst travelling and sleeping in his car and using petrol station toilets for washing and shaving.

Local authorities and the government have to balance the revenue and the simple jobs created by the likes of KFC and McDonalds, against the costs to the NHS but since they lack a magic wand, they cannot eliminate the poor, reduce their numbers nor give them enough money to enable them to lead healthier lifestyles and eat nutritious food.

John Gelmini

Opinion – George Osborne calls emergency July budget to reveal next wave of austerity | Politics | The Guardian – John Gelmini

Dr Alf is right about the Guardian; they are the mild-mannered, seemingly educated, power behind the “tip of the spear”, represented by militant trades unionists.

Since the thumping defeat of Labour and the destruction of the Liberal Democrats and their sandal wearing friends, we are now facing a rail strike during or close to a Bank Holiday plus more strikes at a later stage. Len McClusky has already told Jim Murphy the leader of the Scottish Labour Party to get lost. This is a return to the seventies, when before Margaret Thatcher crushed the mine-workers, trades-union barons used to make people like Jim Callaghan say “We are prostrate at your feet” before offering the trades-union barons who were his financial backers, beer and sandwiches.

The fact is public sector worker productivity is just 32% or 70 days of work out of 220 working days. This is 20% lower than it was before the 2012 Olympics and the Jubilee, and 18% worse than the 48% figure achieved by private sector workers. Both these figures put the UK’s worker productivity at 16% behind the average for the G7 and about 20th in the world. Absenteeism in the public sector in terms of un-authorized absence ,runs at 9 days a year, 50% higher than in the corporate sector.

As a geographically small country, we in the UK, have County Councils which are a fraction of the size of a French Departmente, something Dr Alf may remember from his many years in France as a younger man. Not satisfied with 43 English County Councils, six in Northern Ireland, six in Wales and eight in Scotland, we then have “unitary authorities”, City Councils, Metropolitan Borough Councils, District Councils below the Counties and Unitaries, and then Borough Councils below those.

Policing and Fire Commands match the County Council structures, except in Scotland where Alex Salmond merged them both into national operations and saddled the English taxpayer with all the extraordinary costs.

Then, we have the Civil Service, which employs 100 times more people than was the case when it employed 15000 civil servants in 1885, when we had the largest empire the world had ever known and a navy which took the king six hours to watch whilst it sailed past his observation post at Royal Naval reviews.

On top of this, there are the un-elected quangos and large numbers of council services, which have been outsourced to private companies yet those councils still keep their service directorate board headcount the same as they did before.

The Guardian and the serried ranks of Polly Toynbees, BBC reporters , local authority chief executives, trades unionists and politicians like Paddy Ashdown who is still in denial would have you believe that any attempt to streamline these structures and the not fit for purpose NHS would represent “savage cuts”, would cause riots, starvation an explosion of food-banks and the sky falling in.

Private businesses crippled by high business rates and parking charges are not able to take on new staff and businesses which would be financially viable without the costs of the bloated public sector simply cannot get funded. Dr Alf in his earlier incarnation as a chartered accountant would understand this all too well but the doom mongers at the Guardian would have you believe that the loss of public sector jobs would instantly translate into Jarrow March style dole queues, the return of the workhouse and the reincarnation of Scrooge.

George Osborne, in his emergency budget, may have in mind more welfare reform, but if I were him I would abolish the television licence fee and reform the BBC, one of the biggest and most wasteful quangos of all time, and then reduce the standard spending assessments for local authorities, police forces and fire commands to force them to merge into 15 regional authorities for the UK, one national police force and one national fire service. By reducing the spending assessments and the number of organisations the dead weight of people in non jobs could be progressively cleared out in a “swamp draining ” process. This would be coupled with mandatory headcount caps per department, plus a prohibition on the revolving-door where a local authority worker or apparatchik is let go on Friday and reappears as an interim on Monday, as if they were Lazarus rising from the dead.

John Gelmini