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birth rates etc

By ATWadmin On January 3rd, 2007 at 1:06 pm

Germany has followed France’s example to encourage birth rates.  As of yesterday mothers are entitled to payments of up to e1,800 (£1,200) a month for up to 14 months, depending on previous salary.



It has worked well in France.

French fertility rates are increasing. France now has the second-highest fertility rate in Europe — 1.94 children born per woman, exceeded slightly by Ireland’s rate of 1.99. (The U.S. fertility rate is 2.01 children, hardly a huge difference)

Which does make me wonder whether all this fear mongering on Europe’s declining birth rates is unfounded since it appears Germanys is now set to change.

‘France heavily subsidizes children and families from pregnancy to young adulthood with liberal maternity leaves and part-time work laws for women. The government also covers some child-care costs of toddlers up to 3 years old and offers free child-care centers from age 3 to kindergarten, in addition to tax breaks and discounts on transportation, cultural events and shopping. A new law provides greater maternity leave benefits, tax credits and other incentives for families who have a third child. During a year-long leave after the birth of the third child, mothers will receive $960 a month from the government. A century ago, France was one of the first European countries to face a declining population. Since then, almost every elected French government — regardless of party — has instituted laws that encourage bigger families and make it easier for women to keep their jobs while raising children.

Under French law, a woman can opt not to work or to work part time until her child is 3 years old — and her full-time job will be guaranteed when she returns.

Its interesting how its usual to cite those much lambasted ‘career women’ on these issues as they have here – it is a relatively small nos in relation to the workforce as a whole who make it to such lofty heights. After all, there are a large number of women who are not classed as exactly low income but for whom giving up work financially is either not an option or in an age where you need a triple mega income to buy a cupboard sized house it is more likely to ensure you put it off til you can afford it.   A guy in our office, non management non high flyer project role private sector type worker, has had his first kid.  He is busy working out how to split his pitiful 2 weeks paternity leave between flying off for work and balancing his natural desire to spend a few solid weeks with his new born baby and wife. The equally non high flyer non career driven private sector mother will be back to work in a year – a requirement, not an option for them though she feels otherwise.  So baby gets to spend more time with a bunch of strangers from the age of 2. Im sure many women feel similarly eg they would prefer to stay at home for the first few years of their childrens lives. 

Three-fourths of all French mothers with at least two children are employed – so they are paying for their ‘time out’. And with such a focus the inevitable result is big business has to ensure it provides real facilities – with many large companies catering properly for working parents. Really – if we are so concerned with falling birth rates to sustain our economies then shouldnt we equally be concerned with work family life balance? And wont the one in turn assist the other? This French system seems to me to create a proper establishment for a family work life balance, something we should surely be striving to achieve in the 21st century.

Why not? Big Business needs the manpower in the long run to turn profits and we need them to keep the global economy, we have created, ticking over nicely. Why shouldnt the emphasis be about work and children rather than work or children? Any why shouldnt private sector workers benefit.



By ATWadmin On December 26th, 2006 at 11:46 am

brownPA250906_228x242.jpgDid you read that hard-pressed families have been forced to hand over almost £120,000 in tax to Gordon Brown since Labour came to power in 1997? The eye-watering sum – which is the equivalent of working solely for the Treasury for four years – is enough to pay for a four-bedroom holiday home in the Dordogne, a new Aston Martin Vanquish sports car or five years of Eton school fees.

The Office for National Statistics has found that £70,000 of the money has been raised through direct taxes – such as income tax, national insurance and council tax. But the remaining £50,000 has been raised through indirect taxes – often dubbed ‘stealth’ taxes – such as vehicle excise duty, stamp duty and the TV licence fee.

So around 40% of the taxes Brown has taken have come on the form of stealth taxes, making Britain one of the most heavily taxed countries in the West.

The figures also reveal that pensioners have been badly hit with the average retired household surrendering over £42,000 in taxes since 1997 – even although they are no longer earning. This is also disgraceful. But WHY do people continue to vote for a Government intent on stealing our wealth? Have we become stupified by Brown’s stealth taxation?


By ATWadmin On December 22nd, 2006 at 8:09 am

Well, it MAY be the dismal science but it’s worth reflecting…..

Why do economists generally conclude that the economic impact of climate change is likely to be small, not large?


The growing literature on this topic suggests that most parts of the economy are not very vulnerable to climate change. Just as importantly, parts of the economy that might be negatively impacted are pretty flexible and adaptable to change. If climate does change, crops can be modified, different crops can be planted and crops can be planted in different places, for example. If sea levels rise, we have the ability and resources to build protective structures or, in a worse case scenario, simply move to higher ground.

Thus, while potential climate changes might be devastating to parts of the environment, most economists don’t think that it will affect our economic standard of living much, one way or the other. The bottom line is that recent history has shown economists that the primary cause of economic growth is technological improvement. Climate change cannot staunch the global torrent of new discoveries, processes and products. Human ingenuity is the ultimate resource and – as far as most economists are concerned – rising greenhouse gas levels cannot imperil this.


By ATWadmin On December 15th, 2006 at 8:38 am

euro.jpgVery interesting to read that the French political elite have reacted badly to the news that French exports have slumped in October and the country’s car industry slid deeper into crisis, heightening fears that France is buckling under the strain of the super-strong euro.

The monthly trade deficit ballooned to $2.7bn, following two months of sliding industrial orders and a shock halt to economic growth in the third quarter. Car output is down 14pc so far this year.

So, who to blame? Well, how abou the European Central Bank, enthusiastically created and supported by ..erm…the French!

French trade minister Christine Lagarde blamed the grim trade figures on the tight policies of the European Central Bank, which has raised interest rates six times in a year to 3.5pc. The rate rises are the key factor pushing up the euro.

French premier Dominique de Villepin called on EU states this week to reassert national control over their economies and set proper limits on the powers of the ECB. "We must clarify matters in exchange rate policy, which means taking back our sovereignty."

Ségolène Royal, socialist candidate for the presidential elections in May, went even further, accusing the ECB’s president Jean-Claude Trichet of usurping democratic authority. "It’s not for Mr Trichet to dictate the future of our economies: it’s a matter for our leaders chosen by the people. We must completely change the charter of the central bank," she said.

Fascinating to read these comments.

Thank goodness the UK has stayed out of the fatally flawed Euro project.

“what’s in a name?”

By ATWadmin On December 11th, 2006 at 10:48 am

An acquaintance asked me, as he knew I was into things technical, to give his home a quick scan and state whether I agreed with his diagnosis that his electric supply was ‘a bit funny’ ( I quote verbatim). I went across, gave a very quick test to the system to prove out safety, without the large task of a complete test, and then asked him what his problem seemed to be, as there was, on the surface, nowt’ much wrong!  He told me that there had to be something wrong with his electricity, as his light bulbs kept burning out very rapidly!

I asked where he bought his light bulbs from, and he told me they came from the local supermarket, and were all made in Europe; but was more than a little surprised when I told him that that was the source of his problems. I explained that the vast majority of ‘value’ or ‘economy’ products came from Third World countries, such as Indonesia, China, Eastern Europe or North Africa, with the accompanying lack of quality controls and checks. To his statement that his home lighting was made in ‘Europe’, I explained that, due to clever lobbying of the various Brussels-based E.U. authorities, anything made in a country outside the Union has only to be ‘Packaged’ within the Union to gain the status of ‘Made in the European Union, or Community.’

If he bought bulbs, whether ordinary incandescent or ‘energy-saving’, which came with a known Brand-name, or a proud statement saying ‘Made in Britain’ or ‘Made in Holland’, he would then know that a Company with a reputation to protect had made that product, and was prepared to stand behind it! If a foreign company supplying goods on to the British domestic market had to comply with the stringent manufacturing and worker standards as did the local companies, you might see a drop in the differential between the ‘local’ and ‘imported’ prices. Not perhaps a totally-skewed market as one sees today, but at least a partial levelling of the playing field!

As I have maybe stated before, and will probably say again, “Buy something which is priced as rubbish; and more often than not, you will be receiving exactly what you pay for!”



By ATWadmin On December 4th, 2006 at 9:47 am

I always think that elderly people are the most vulnerable in our society, and nowhere is this vulnerability more acute than in their economic circumstances. So it is saddening, though not surprising, to read today that the cost of living for many British households is up to 4 TIMES the Government’s published rate of inflation.

Millions of families are experiencing inflation far beyond the official rate of 2.4 per cent, new research suggests. Pensioners are the hardest hit, with inflation rates of almost nine per cent, as record gas and electricity bills take a massive slice out of their budgets. The revelation comes only days after the Government said there were no plans this year for extra cash for pensioners’ winter fuel payments.

Now then, ATW has raised this issue before, since it is obvious that this Government, LIKE ALL GOVERNMENTS, cheats with statistics. But what annoys most is the way in which so many elderly citizens are having to endure record high inflation across a range of utilities and this rotten Government pretends all is under control.

Bah.h.h.h. Humbug!!!!

By ATWadmin On November 4th, 2006 at 11:52 am

As my wife has injured both her wrist and her knee, she was unable to accompany me to do the weekly shopping; so, alone, I ventured into the maw of capitalistic endeavour; our local supermarket! This is where the end-product of thousands of highly-paid people resides; on the shelves and bins full of tempting produce and manufactured goods. I am not commenting upon the nature of what is displayed, but what we are told, and sometimes ‘not told’ about the produce and products on display; yes, it’s the Advertising! I recently commenced purchasing an extra item off a shelf, but not, I must insist, because of what I was told about it’s efficacy by means of advertisements! No, I researched that particular item on the internet, and only after I was able to satisfy myself about it’s possible benefits to both myself and my wife would I buy it!

Ever checked when the ‘Santa’ symbols commence to peek out from the shelves? Earlier and earlier every year, in efforts to get the ‘Consumer’, (because that is what our designation is) to buy, and buy early off the displays of expensive booze, ‘choccies’, ever-larger ‘discounts’ on huge piles of gut-rotting beer, expensive electronic rubbish manufactured at slave-labour wages in the sweat-shops of China, the ‘exclusive’ tags on the super-expensive knick-knacks designed to whet the jaded appetites of clowns bored with success, the ‘must-have’ clothing designed by a bunch of queers, and slapped together by, again, a series of poorly-paid workers in any one of a clutch of third-world countries with little or no regard for their ‘human rights’; accompanied by the endless jingles about ‘holly’ and ‘good-will’ exiting from the mouths of a collection of illiterate morons who can just about check their bulging bank-balances: and all for what?

To allegedly celebrate the 2006th birthday of an asylum-seeker’s son!

Pavlov must be turning in his grave at the debauched use of his research into ‘Conditioned Reflexes’!


By ATWadmin On November 3rd, 2006 at 8:39 am

ba-planes203.jpgBritish Airways has complained that the major UK terror alert back in August has cost it dearly, with profits down by 27%.  Had Al Queda succeeded in destroying several aircraft leaving UK airports,  I wonder how much further down profits would be?

I also wonder just how opportunistic British Airways are being here – since they casually mention that they were also running a loss-making subsidiary during this time? I fully appreciate the difficulties that must be involved in running a major air carrier at a time when certain Islamists seek to use aircraft as flying bombs and certain politicians see a chance to scam more taxation out of the Industry under the guise of global warming. But the fact is BA MADE substantial profits even during this difficult period and so I am somewhat cynical about the whining that has accompanied this latest financial report. The war on terror carries a price – for us all.