16 April 2007

Smack-free shopping

I used to be quite a big fan of the NSPCC. Their work in preventing child abuse was a really good thing. Sadly, like the RSPCA, they seem to be more interested in PC politics these days than in actually doing the job they were set up for.

This article details their latest campaign to try to force parents to raise their children in a particular way. Having failed to persuade the Government to ban smacking, they are trying another tack - trying to persuade shopping centres to ban it instead.

What a shame that this nonsense now seems to overshadow their work in preventing genuine child abuse. Smaking a child, if done with love and not anger, is the very opposite of child abuse - but in either case I can't see how you legally raise your children as being any business of shopping centre managers.

14 April 2007

Dumb article on smart metering

The Telegraph gives a beaming welcome to the news that "Monitors showing the real-time cost of electricity use are to be provided free to homes across the UK in an effort to tackle climate change." This is, of course, followed up with a smug quote from David Milliband.

It is a bit of a shame that The Telegraph, of all papers, doesn't seem to realise that there is no such thing as a free lunch, or indeed a free energy monitor. What this announcement actually means is that everyone, no matter how energy efficient they may already be, will be forced to subsidise, through their electricity bills, the fitting of these new gizmos to every house in Britain.

Indeed, Energywatch (pdf) estimate that the capital costs will be in the region of £86m - all of which will be ultimately borne by the consumer. As such it seems a little surprising that Energy Retail Association's comments to the Telegraph seem so positive - calling for the Government to go further in fact.

However, the Energywatch report shows their game - they're trying to get the Government to force their customers to install self-reading meters -allowing them to do away with the cost of meter reading and pass the capital buck to the customer - all under the guise of climate change.

These new gadgets may be good news in reducing CO2 emissions - no doubt for some people it will help reduce electricity useage. But its a real shame that serious newspapers like the Telegraph fall so alarmingly for the DEFRA spin about just how positive this new regulation will be - and don't look at all at the interests behind it.

UPDATE: This also seems to be rather more Brussels driven than the article makes clear...