We are currently house hunting and that is proving to be quite a painful experience because the market really has over-inflated the price of property in the UK. I look at some of the properties and I think, why would I pay that much?! But, I really want to build my first house, however the market for land is even more uncertain. The houses that I visit have proportions that are designed for a different generation and the market seems to be under the impression they can sell a property with some over inflated price based on the value if the property was renovated less some minimal cost to renovate*. One significant factor is that we are a couple that like to cook together and most kitchens are too small, thus you either compromise your lifestyle or factor in major structural changes. With land I find that people price it based on the potential, which isn't fair because they haven't actually put any effort into giving the land value. Land shouldn't be worth some mythical value which doesn't actually give you anything in return because at the end of the day it is a location plus dirt not a virtual house.

So, if someone reading this knows of some land to buy or has some land they want to sell then let me know! I will even pay 1% commission to anyone helping me secure the purchase of some suitable land. There is an incentive for you!

 

* In addition many people add in the expense of moving and selling the property plus the expense of buying their next property. More on the fairness of the property market in this article on economically sustainable housing.

I love tigers, they are my favourite animal in the world and it is my greatest ambition to see one in the wild. I would also love to meet a tiger in person but I realise that this cannot be practical because this isn't the way that tigers behave in the real world. I don't like seeing Tigers in captivity but I understand it is good to look after them in the west for their preservation but I am unsure about socialising them. My greatest challenge however is that even though I love them I worry about preservation tourisms impact on wildlife.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/blog/2010/apr/29/india-bans-tiger-tourism

Despite not being Greek myself I have very personal connections and commitments there and I was recently asked what I would do to ease the situation further (because Germany is not happy with the proposals so far). Of course I have no real influence on Greek politics but were I to be able to dictate here are my views. Warning, this is the brutal truth as I see it, it doesn't mean I don't like Greece but this is what I see as stopping Greece from being great again.

Personally I feel that the Greek people have let themselves get into trouble because of the way they conduct their politics. I am told that in the main the politicians are corrupt on a grand scale but as long as they do nothing that overtly and obviously affects the daily lives of the population the people won't do anything. The people of Greece value individual liberties even if that is at the sacrifice of the common good and for all their protestations as to having been the originators of democracy they have forgotten that the cost of democracy is collective responsibility.

The unions and the people will strike because they are getting affected by the obviously unpopular cutbacks. The most notable issue is the fact that the public sector is massively bloated with probably 20-30% of people who are completely superfluous. In addition they spend huge amounts on academic research but believe that co-operating with business to commercialise efforts would taint academia. It seems that half the café workers in Greece seem to have a post-graduate degree and most of the workers seem to be regularly practising some form of tax evasion.

I love Greece but it just needs to wake up to a little self-sacrifice and the people need to take some responsibility (not just the politicians). My interim measures would be:

  • Tell every government department to cut at least 1 in 4 jobs over the next two to four years. At the same time offer amnesty to non-permanent staff and let departments decide who they actually need (many good staff are on short-term contracts many lazy people have permanent contracts).
  • Cap redundancy payments to limit the expense and begin a separate "back to work" scheme for those who are made redundant by the cuts.
  • Don't pay those who go on strike and let them face the responsibility of not going to work (hold firm).
  • Ask politicians (local and national) to take half-pay for the next year and/or audit all expenses for the past two years.
  • Force all academic institutions to fund part of their budget each year from external (non-academic) activities or cut their budgets proportionally. Starting at 5% and adding 5% each year until 20-25%.
  • Modernise the power generation system to avoid dependency on ancient dirty/inefficient power stations.
  • Reduce bureaucracy and paperwork by 30%.
  • Cancel all non-maintenance spending on national defence (Reduce defence spending to <=3% GDP?). (Turkey isn't really going to invade any more and they don't need new submarines).


Just my observations over the past five years of being involved with Greece. Perhaps I am too harsh, but it is tough love. Greece lords itself for being one of the greatest countries in the history of the world, but that is history. The Greeks must look forward with a unified vision to what they want to be and have the ambition to execute that without sacrificing the things that already make Greece great (family, social life, community spirit).

Just my two Euro-cents.

I already knew it was a thin edge that people found themselves on if they offered free wifi, but I didn't realise until today that it will soon be illegal to share an internet connection if you don't log the identity of the person using said connection!

Thanks to a Tweet by Liam J. Hayter with a link to his blog I found out that apparently it will now be a legal requirement to take responsibility for who uses your internet connection. You will be liable for any illegal usage of your connection if you cannot prove who else used said connection.

So I have written to my local MP just to try and head it off at the pass, perhaps you might do the same: