52% intelligent. 9% modest. More monkey than bear.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

that's one for you, nineteen for me....

Not for the first time, I've been fired up by something I read over at Foxy's place. This time around it's the news that Gordon Brown has allocated an extra £1b to the UK's defence budget for the next year. This takes Britain's defence spending to £33.4b. As the Ministy of Defence proudly trumpets, this makes us the second biggest spenders in the world. Yay for us! (although before we get too pleased with ourselves, we should probably bear in mind that the USA spent $590b on defence in 2005 - more than the rest of the world put together. Even allowing for the fact that a US billion has one fewer zero than a UK billion, that's still a substantial amount of cash, no?)

I won't go on about this too much because there's some good stuff along these lines in the comments on Foxy's post. What I do want to add though is this:

As a UK taxpayer, I am an investor in Great Britain plc. The government is open enough to tell me how much of my money they are spending on defence (and on all of the other stuff like health and education and so on), but I want to know more: I want to know what kind of value for money I'm getting on all that expenditure.

What's the value case for that £33.4b? What kind of a return are we getting on that kind of investment? This government has bought an awful lot of tanks and guns with our money, I think we have a right to know what kind of depreciation we're getting on those assets, don't we?

How about Iraq: what was the business plan for that particular aquisition? What do you mean it was written on the back of a fag packet and is so smudged you can't read it? What kind of a way to run a business is that? What the hell would your shareholders say about that at the next AGM?

Enough is enough. Maybe it's time to sack the board.

....on the other hand, perhaps we shouldn't be too hasty. We've donated so much of our cash to this government since 1997 that we're probably all due a peerage or something aren't we?


  • At 10:22 pm, Blogger the urban fox said…

    Pssst: officially British billions are the same as US billions now. Have a nice day!

  • At 10:33 pm, Blogger swisslet said…

    why was I not informed?

  • At 10:57 pm, Blogger Stef said…

    Totally with you on this one Toni.

    I voted Labour for the last 3 general elections and was OK with it until this time, now I want my votet back!

    Time for a change in Government methinks but who the hell should we give it to?! Brown? What'll change? Cameron? Eep!

    Can we survive to the next election without losing even more of our liberties and tax money to The War Against Terror?

    Guy Fawkes mask anyone? ;-)

  • At 10:58 pm, Blogger Stef said…

    Or even my "vote" back!


    I spell checked that, what the hell is a "votet"?


  • At 11:11 pm, Blogger swisslet said…

    I feel a bit of a fraud really - foxy has said all of this better over at her place. I spent 50 lengths in the pool chewing this over, got home and did some research, and then realised that foxy's comments covered most of this!

    I'm not voting labour this time. no way. But who to vote for? Not the bloody tories, but we've got to have change this time around.


    Robert Kilroy-Silk?

    Fawkes mask it is then.


  • At 11:37 pm, Blogger bytheseashore said…

    Maybe it's time the MoD cut the crap and reverted to its former name of the Ministry of War, as I can't see much in the way of defence going on at the moment.

    Much like the last two elections I'll probably umm and ahh for a couple of weeks about who I'm going to vote for and then bottle it in the booth and vote Labour just in case the Tories get in.

    And it's ok that the British and US billion are the same now, but I'm not sure what they were in the first place. Is it a big number?

  • At 11:51 pm, Blogger HistoryGeek said…

    How does that work out that the billions are the same when 1 dollar does not equal 1 pound. Our governments are screwing with basic accounting now, I suppose!

    Do you suppose I could get to be a lady (little "l") since I've spent all of my foreign tourist dollars in the UK since Labour took over? I don't think I'm asking for much.

  • At 11:52 pm, Blogger swisslet said…

    reminds me of that George Bush joke.


    Bush is sitting in the oval office being given his daily security briefing.

    "...and in the Middle East, there have been some more bombings in Bagdhad, and in one blast in the market, 2 brazilians were killed."

    At this, Bush puts his head in his hands and starts to sob gently. Eveyone is a little taken aback by this sudden and unexpected display of emotion. They watch in some amazement as the president sobs for a minute or two, then glances up, smooths his hair down, brushes his suit and pulls himself together.

    "How many's a brazilian again?"


    boom boom

    a UK billion used to be a million million didn't it? 12 zeros

    A US billion was 1000 million

    I think.

    To be honest though, I'm shite with numbers and you should ask foxy. Apparently if you choose one of the three doors and don't switch, you're much more likely to win a goat. Or something.


  • At 3:07 am, Blogger Rikki said…

    you know organising a budget is much like making love to a beautiful woman...

  • At 10:10 am, Blogger Kaptain Kobold said…

    Since I suspect that, indirectly, I'm paid out of that 33 billion quid I'm quite happy to see it go up. As long as I get my cut :-)

  • At 10:58 am, Blogger John McClure said…

    We used to call an American billion (10 to the power of nine) a milliard, while they called what we knew as a billion (10 to the power of twelve) a trillion, but we switched to their system because it was too much to ask for them to ever realise they were doing it wrong or to use our language correctly.

    So, they really are spending that much more on defence (or, in their case, 'defense' - which is probably how we'll end up spelling it - see above). That's why their country is so safe, you see, and why no one threatens them or anything.

    As for how much we're spending on defence... what price freedom? Seriously, I couldn't put a number on how much freer I feel since we blew all those Iraqi's to kingdom come.

    Don't worry about the depreciation on the weapons. When they're on their last legs, we'll sell them at their original cost to whoever we plan to invade next so they can start an insurrection and justify our invasion. We can use the danger they pose to our freedom as an excuse to buy new tanks and guns.

  • At 11:15 am, Blogger swisslet said…

    when we conquer Iraq, will we get a special dividend?

  • At 11:59 am, Blogger adem said…

    I can't wait for Disneyland Baghdad!!!!

  • At 12:14 pm, Blogger Flash said…

    Peerage you say?
    Lord Flash of Crapsville!
    Got quite a ring to it, wouldn't you say?

  • At 6:02 pm, Blogger Jenni said…

    Regarding John's comment...I saw an article the other day that referred to British English and English (meaning the American version). As though your version isn't the "real thing" anymore.

  • At 6:37 pm, Blogger Ali said…

    Lady Yoko Spungeon of Brixton Upon Thames.

    I agree with you. How much is a machine gun? How much is an Army Uniform? Could they be obtained cheaper from M&S?


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