Friday, September 30, 2011

The bare faced cheek of soon to be ex Plaid leader.

Wales Online reports that IEUAN Wyn Jones has launched his strongest attack yet on former Cabinet colleague Carwyn Jones’ handling of the economy, describing him as “complacent” and “living in a parallel universe.”
Apparently Ieuan would have been “embarrassed” to present a programme for Government along the lines of the one Labour produced this week. 
Because of course everything in the garden was so much rosier when IWJ was in charge of the economy in Wales wasn’t it?  How can we forget what an excellent job he did to revitalise the Welsh economy. 
He does have a few sensible words to say – on how Labour in the Bay cannot keep blaming everything on Westminster.  But it is a bit rich for him to condemn the Labour Government for their lack of action (even if it is true) when he himself had so much time to make a difference and failed miserable.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Democracy - fine in thoery they just don't want to practice it

The Labour party in RCT have proven over and over that they have no understanding of the concept of democracy, and there seems to be little chance of them changing.
At the Council meeting on 28th September Plaid put a motion forward calling for more complete answers to questions put to Cabinet Members which are currently allowed under the terms of the constitution.  During what could loosely be termed a debate on the matter there were complaints from Labour Cabinet Members that questions were being ‘hijacked’ for ‘political purposes.’  In other words opposition Councillors are asking question they don’t like.
One can only wonder then how long it will be before they change the system and take away the right of members to question them at all.  After all when they didn’t like the motions that were being put forward they simply took away the ability of opposition Councillors to put in so many motions.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hain's been out in the sun too long

Perhaps Peter Hain’s tan is real after all.  I mean he’s obviously been out in the sun too long hasn’t he?  He is now starting to hallucinate and it seems he believes  in his little fairytales
Peter Black AM has, as he often does, hit the nail on the head with this blog post.  Yes there are people unhappy with the coalition we have even lost a few members over it.  But the vast majority of Liberal Democrats in Wales and across Britain are supportive of the Westminster coalition and there is certainly no indication of the sort of splits Tango man Hain sees.
It is indeed yet another example of labour’s arrogance – their belief that they have a right to rule and anyone who cannot see that must be blind.
Well as the saying goes, there are none so blind as those who will not see.  It’s time Labour woke up and took a good look around.

Political Posturing

Council meetings in RCT get more farcical all the time – no wonder the Labour lot don’t want them being recorded.  Tonight really was a classic – around three and a half hours of mud slinging and bull***t from the people who run the second largest Council in Wales.
The first item was supposed to be an improvement assessment   report from the Audit office - except the person presenting the report got lost and was late arriving.  So the Mayor decided after only a minor fluster to move on to the next report – the Leader’s annual report.
The Labour group set the tone by voting to limit the debate to 30 minutes – good open, accountable government that, allow everyone a chance to have their say.  Mike Powell protested at this curtailing of Members right to question the leader only to be told he was wasting the Council’s time.  He subsequently did not get called to speak on the subject.
The Labour lot spent the entire meeting accusing everyone else of being ‘political’ – although it was fine for Russell to begin with yet another of his extremely tiresome digs at the Westminster Government.  Apparently we should get down on our knew and thank Carwyn and co for protecting our Councils from the ravages seen “the other side of Offa’s Dyke” thanks to the Lib Dems mostly it seems.
The Police force is also being ripped apart because of us, with huge cutbacks having to be made across RCT.  They can barely afford to pay Russell’s allowance as Chair of the Police Authority by the sound of it. Maybe he could take a pay cut.
Plaid had put a motion forward criticising the vagueness of responses to Members questions from the Leader and Cabinet. 
According to the Labour Whip, Cllr Webber “questions are being hijacked in the same way motions were previously.  Some Members just want to be seen as jumping into action because there is an election coming up.”
If the cap fits Maureen.
Meanwhile Deputy Leader Anthony Christopher, who sounded more like Mr Angry as the meeting progressed, raged   “It is my belief many of the questions are political, if members want to know anything they can ask officers and not waste council time.”
Great idea – Members led Authority, so let’s ask Officers questions, perhaps they can explain what it is Cabinet Members do to earn their salaries because from where we are sitting it seems they are not doing a lot.

Monday, September 26, 2011

What a bargain

The oxford advanced online dictionary gives two definitions for the word bargain:
1 a thing bought for less than the usual price
2 an agreement between two or more people or groups, to do something for each other.
I imagine that the Labour leader in his speech to Conference tomorrow will be referring to the latter when he announces that the country needs "a new bargain based on a different set of values".
But then who can be sure what Labour mean at all these days?   Some of his pronouncements sound strangely familiar.  Such as the assertion that there needs to be radical changes to the welfare system.
The BBC reports that he will talk in his speech of a "quiet crisis" in Britain and the "failure of a system" which too often rewarded "not the right people with the right values, but the wrong people with the wrong values".
Run that past me again.
Labour now want to reform the benefit system.  Will there be firm proposals as to how they want to achieve this?  Because they have been highly critical of the coalition Governments plans to do just that.  In an article which means we are now all but alleviated of the need to actually listen to Milliband we are told he will add:
 "Labour will always stand as the voice of the people, our people. Their values will be heard. And we will challenge the vested interests that benefit when the wrong values are rewarded.
"Never again should they be able to take advantage of a system which doesn't work to the values and instincts of decent people in our country."
Oh dear.  That may come as a bit of shock to many of their voters, and indeed to many of their elected members who got elected primarily by promising people that they would protect their benefits.
Welcome to the real world Ed.

From Bard to Verse in RCT…..

Ok, I apologise for the bad pun, but sometimes these things can’t be helped.
As mentioned some weeks ago as part of the redevelopment of Pontypridd a poet and two artists have been commissioned to work with local schoolchildren and community groups to design some paving slabs with bits of songs / poems / miscellaneous writings.
Now strangely enough the website which was set up to explain what this was about seems to have disappeared and I cannot find any reference to it on the Council’s ‘Love Ponty’ website either.  One may almost think that they want to keep it quiet – perhaps hoping to avoid too much criticism.  After all people weren’t impressed by the ‘Unity’ sculpture in Ponty, or the lights on Sardis Bridge, or the ‘Y’ in Porth.
Anyway, artistic merit aside, we wanted to know what the cost to the overstretched public purse was – cost and value do not always go together but if you know the cost it can help you make up your mind as to the value!
As there was no hope of this ever appearing in any sort of press release or budget report I submitted a FOI request 0n 23rd August.  Today I received the reply, and a very artistic piece of work it is too
Question1 :  What is the total cost of commissioning the poet and artists and completing the project referred to here:
Reply:  The total cost of the Pontypridd Town Centre Regeneration Project, including all public realm improvements, and townscape enhancements, is £10.559M. The Authority confirms that the materials and labour used in respect of the artists and poets work are inextricably interwoven into, and form part of, the overall regeneration project costs detailed above.
 In addition, the enhanced design work was subject to a competitive tender process, and  we are not in a position to provide the details, due to the commercially sensitive nature of this information. We feel that this is exempt information under Section 43 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 ("the Act") which deals with prejudice to commercial interests.
This is a qualified exemption and we have therefore applied the public interest test. In making this decision we have weighed such factors as the Council's desire to be open and transparent in all its dealings against the need to ensure that it is able to contract openly in the market place
The Council’s desire to be open and transparent?  Since when has that been the case in RCT? Perhaps that could be interwoven into the fabric of the paving stones!!
Question2:  How is the cost broken down? i.e. payments to artists, cost of work?
Reply:  The total cost of commissioning the artists and poets is £15,000. Again, the council in not is a position to be able to provide a breakdown of the costs of the works referred to in your request as it does not hold this information in recorded form due to the reasoning outlined above namely that the materials and labour used in respect of the artists and poets work are inextricably interwoven into, and form part of, the overall regeneration project costs.
So they built the cost of a few paving slabs into the project but then decided afterwards to employ a few extra people to make some pretty patterns with words??
Now call me naive but we have some excellent art departments in schools in RCT.  Why not run a competition to get students to come up with some designs?  The Council and their contractors Costain keep bragging about how much community involvement they are encouraging.  Could have saved a few bob.  Or isn’t £15K a significant enough amount for Labour to bother about?  Maybe on its own it is not, but this is part of a mind-set that seems to have completely forgotten the old adage that if you look after the pennies the pounds will look after themselves.
Add that £15K (plus the unidentified amount on materials) to that spent on other public works of art and it all mounts up to quite a tidy sum that many residents feel could be better spent.  On the other hand to three jobs Russell it is probably insignificant.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Hypocrisy, alive and well in RCT

Hypocrisy is the state of pretending to have beliefs, opinions, virtues, ideals, thoughts, feelings, qualities, or standards that one does not actually have. Hypocrisy involves the deception of others and is thus a kind of lie

The ruling Labour group on RCT Council are putting a motion to full Council next week opposing Remploy closures and of course having a dig at the coalition Government.

Their oh so mature motion reads as follows:

“This Council opposes the Sayce report proposals in relation to Remploy, welcomed by the coalition government, which threaten the factories at Dinas and Cwmbach by ending public funding of them from April 2013. 

The Council supports Remploy and the important role it plays in providing employment and training for people with disabilities, and condemns the Tory / Lib Dem coalition for jeopardising its future  and believes this will undermine the Council’s objectives for economic regeneration and opportunities for people to fulfil their potential.

In light of the impact this will have on the local economy in Rhondda Cynon Taf and the strain it risks placing on Council services, the Council shall respond to the current consultation exercise on this subject, expressing its opposition to any Remploy closures in Rhondda Cynon Taf and its support for the employees at Dinas and Cwmbach.

The Council requests that the Leader submits this response on the Council’s behalf.”

I wonder what gems will crop up during the debate.  Maybe this one:

The GMB union, which has campaigned for all factories to stay open, reacted bitterly to the Government’s announcement.  The GMB General Secretary Paul Kenny said: "This government-controlled operation has failed its people, its principles and its purpose.  These closures are completely unnecessary.  If Remploy was called Northern Rock I am certain that we would not be seeing a single redundancy."

Or then again maybe not, because this quote first appeared in 2007.   The article began:

Government Confirms Closure of 28 Remploy Factories

The Work and Pensions Secretary, Peter Hain, has confirmed that proposals to close 28 of Remploy’s factories have been approved by the Government.

That would be the LABOUR Government then.  Strangely enough I don’t recall the Labour group in RCT putting forward any motions then condemning the Government.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Totally Batty

We thought the idea of £190,000 dormice bridges in RCT was bad enough but we should maybe be grateful that the developers of the Church Village bypass didn’t come across any lesser horseshoe bat habitat.
Had they thought there could be any possibility of such creatures existing in the vicinity then they would undoubtedly have had to follow the example set elsewhere and erect bat bridges.
North Wales seems to be a particular favourite place for these rare bats – as a result bat bridges seem to be springing up in several key locations.  The latest, said to cost £650,000 has caused a bit of a stir.   Campaigners in the area have been asking for a footbridge but their pleas have fallen on deaf years.  Evidently bats are much more worthy of protection than are children.
Well I am just back from two days in North Wales where I am very glad to report no collision or even near misses with any furry flying rodents.   Those bridges are obviously working.

How much will Labour squirm over payments?

RCT Council next Wednesday will discuss – amongst other things – the Independent Remuneration Panel draft report which is out for consultation.
Our response is here.
The Officer’s report which is being presented to Council misses out one important recommendation in its summary of the recommendations.  It fails to mention the references to the fact that the role of Cabinet Members and Council Leaders should be full time and there should not be time for these post holders to take any other paid roles.
It also contains such insightful comments as
“The Draft Regulations refer to ‘constituency or Ward’ responsibilities. There are no constituencies or wards represented by County Borough members only ‘electoral divisions’.”

Why do I get the feeling that the Labour administration don’t like the report much and will be squirming their way around it to try and avoid being seen as greedy?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The pithead baths is a supermarket now

The media has been full this week of the tragic tale of the deaths of four miners at the Gleision colliery in the Swansea Valley. Heartfelt condolences have been sent from all quarters to the families of those men. 
Reporters have been buzzing around like bees around the proverbial honeypot, and whilst nobody could deny this is not news and worthy of reporting is it really necessary for them to be so intrusive? 
We have read in the press the touching messages left by the families – their heartfelt messages to their husbands / fathers.  Do we need to see them splashed all over the papers?  Do we need streams of interviews with neighbours to convince us of how awful this is?
ITV contacted my father via our Communities First office to ask if he would do an interview with them.  His connection with Gleision?  Absolutely nothing.  He is an ex miner, and was interviewed by them as part of a programme they did some time ago on the Cambrian Colliery disaster.  His response contained several mild expletives! The gist of it was you’ve got to be joking.
You see people of a certain age around here remember all too well the grief of families and the devastation to communities that  mining accidents brought about. The people who complain about the closure of the mines probably never worked in them or had family who did. They haven’t seen the damage to the health of individuals – the men who came up with ‘dust’, who survive only with the help of oxygen cylinders.
They certainly could not have seen the likes of the disaster in the Cambrian Colliery in 1965 when 31 miners died in an explosion.  I was a small child at the time so will not pretend to remember it.  But I have heard all the stories, seen the film clips and videos, watched grown men cry as 45 years on they recounted their memories for a DVD commemorating the event.
It was stated that the death toll might have been even greater if not for the fact the colliery was being run down in readiness for closure and half of the 800 workforce had already been transferred into other collieries.
My father was one of those who had been transferred elsewhere.
So along with everyone else I have huge amounts of sympathy for the families of the victims this week.  I cannot imagine what they must be going through.  But as I watched the news unfold my overriding thought was that I am glad the mines have, by and large, gone. Political and economic arguments aside, the cost of coal was too high.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Never trust a politician? Hmmmm

The Western Mail carried a piece today on Mick Antoniw the current AM for Pontypridd.
In it he is waxing lyrical about how his Ukrainian background helped shape his political views.  It ends with the comment
“Perhaps rather oddly having been elected as an AM in May, it’s also taught me never to trust politicians. There has been so much abuse of power and it is vitally important that people and institutions are held to account.”
Fine words there Mick – one has to wonder why he is a member of the Labour party then.  It also begs the question of where he stands in relation to much of what is going on with his colleagues at RCT Council.  What does he think of Russell’s blatant ripping off of the public purse?  Where does he stand regarding their attitude to scrutiny which is hardly democratic?
Surely he must cringe at the lack of accountability demonstrated in RCT.
But then this is a man who shamelessly ripped off miners along with the rest of his firm and then desperately wrote letters to all local Labour members denying it.  The man whose colleagues threatened to sue us for putting out leaflets telling people of his firm’s misdeeds.
The man whose firm of solicitors was employed on behalf of RCT Council employees to sort out claims against the Council?  (The Labour run Council failed to settle claims for its workforce and employed a Labour leaning firm of solicitors to represent its own employees against the Council.  That firm then donated money to the Labour election campaign, benefitting Antoniw.)
The man who is now Chair of the Assembly Standards Committee would you believe?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Senior officers must earn their salaries

There has been much local outcry lately over the inflated salary of the new Director of Education which was raised to a very comfortable £113,000 just months after Labour agreed to variations in terms and conditiuons for lower paid staff which resulted in many of them being worse off.
In an attempt to defend this to the press Council Leader Russell Roberts – who surely knows a thing or two about inflated salaries – stated that
“In such challenging times, strong and capable professional management is more important than ever. “
This may be so, but if Group Directors and senior managers are to continue to be paid such figures then surely the public have a right to expect that they earn that ‘professional’ wage.
Earlier this week I was sent figures which have come from a freedom of information request to RCT Council which asked how much the appointment process cost.  It gives the amount spent in total as a little under £19,000.  It states that they spent £10,675.80 for advertising – where and how I don’t know, maybe they had it up in lights at Piccadilly Circus. Or given the Labour party’s seeming love of art perhaps they hired a professional poet and artist to design the ad.
They then spent a further £7,671.50 on recruitment consultants.  This despite having a substantial HR department at the Council headed up by what one must assume is a ’professional’ manager, strong and capable of providing advice on recruitment???
It is not rocket science after all.  
If senior staff are to be paid the substantial salaries that are currently seen to be the norm then they have to earn them.  This is only one example of public money being spent on buying in external advice, it is a common occurrence.  The legal department in particular seem to call in Eversheds or Morgan Cole for all manner of relatively minor queries.
Now there is a place for specialist consultants in all Local Authorities but surely not for basic advice which should be provided by the 'professional' officers that are being paid handsomely to provide services within this Council.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Raindrops keep falling

In September 2008 many areas of Pontypridd were subject to flooding after torrential rain struck.  Blocked drains were unable to cope with the volume of water and a substantial number of households were affected.  The Council were slow to deploy sandbags and in many cases were too late.
In June 2009 many areas of Pontypridd were subject to flooding after torrential rain struck.  Blocked drains were unable to cope with the volume of water and a substantial number of households were affected.  The Council were slow to deploy sandbags and in many cases were too late.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Councillors John Bell and Mike Powell were out and about pulling up manhole covers in their wards to try and alleviate some of the problems.  Photos of John more than knee deep on water appeared on the BBC website and elsewhere. 
The Council promised to do their best to alleviate the problems.
In September 2011 areas of Pontypridd were subject to flooding after torrential rain struck.
You beginning to see a pattern here?
Yet again our Councillors were out for hours last night helping residents to keep the flood water away from their properties.  They tried in vain to get hold of sand bags from the Cocunil depot but were told they had run out.
Now nobody can prevent the rain from falling, but there have been warnings all week about the bad weather to come.  RCT Council called off a fun day planned for the weekend because of the weather.  It was expected by everyone, but not anticipated enough by the environmental services department of RCT.
The same problems occurred in the same areas.  In one case the problems had been exacerbated because the Council – against the wishes of the residents in the area and the objections from John Bell as ward Councillor – sold of a piece of land on the side of a mountain.  Work carried out there has not only disturbed the natural flow of water but also contributed to blocking the drains.
Now if the rain hadn’t been predicted then maybe you could not blame the Council.  If the flooding had occurred in new places hitherto unaffected then perhaps you could not blame the Council.    But when it happens in the same place every time then surely the highways department could be expected to have the brains to prepare and deploy sandbags where needed and ensure drains are kept clear.
Maybe if they spent less money employing poets and artists to inscribe words of wisdom on paving stones then they could buy a few more sandbags.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Do Independent Councils work?

John Davies, leader of Pembrokeshire Council, has accused Ministers of picking on Independently run Councils. He accused them of acting politically in their reaction to the problems in Pembrokeshire over education and children’s services.  This following on the back of Blaenau Gwent becoming the first in Wales to go into special measures after a report found "systemic" management failures.
Anglesey Council has been put under the control of Commissioners, and Powys Council was not without its problems when for many years Labour and Welsh Liberal Democrats whilst being party members actually sat as Independents on the council.
It is debateable whether or not Ministers at the Welsh Government are guilty of over flexing of their muscles on a number of issues relating to local authorities.  Blogging on the issue of local; government reorganisation Peter Black said they are “Their approach has more in common with bullying than leadership.”  But are they really focusing any more attention on Independently run Councils than on any others?  Or is it a fact that these Councils are not performing as effectively as they should be.
We’ve all heard the moans and groans from people – usually those who like to snipe from the side-lines – about how all Councillors should be there for the good of the people (agreed) and there shouldn’t be any party politics only sainted individuals there to give their all for their communities!  Preferably with no exchange of money taking place to sully the hands of these blessed individuals.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are good Independent Councillors who are there for all the right reasons and who do a good job, but there are also good Councillors of all Parties who want to do their best for their communities.  Being part of a political Party does not preclude that.
Party politics gives some cohesion to the system.  Even in a party as diverse as ours!   There is a central theme, a joint purpose – even if we sometimes disagree on exactly how to achieve our goals.  We might not like the politics of those in other Parties but if nothing else it limits the number of battle fronts we have to fight on. 
Independent Councillors may be very good as ward Councillors, but in my humble opinion it seems there is rarely the political acumen (even with a small ‘p’) that allows them to engineer change or scrutinize effectively.
It surely cannot be a coincidence that the major problems in Councils throughout Wales have come about in those Councils that are largely Independently run.  We may not like what Labour do in RCT but at least our education system whilst not perfect is not teetering on the brink of collapse.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Free town centre car parking - alas not in Ponty

Well done Wrexham Council on their free town centre car parking scheme .
As reported on the BBC
The trial will offer free parking after midday at the People's Market and Crescent Road car parks.
It is hoped the decision will encourage shoppers and visitors to the town centre to help boost trade.”
Wrexham is of course run by a Welsh Liberal Democrat led coalition.  What a pity that our calls for free car parking in Pontypridd have fallen on deaf Labour ears in RCT Council and they are unable to see the potential benefits

Friday, September 02, 2011

If it's worth saying it's worth putting your name to

I have no problem with people disagreeing with my views and expressing an opinion which opposes mine or that of my local or national Party.  I accept the sniping form the side-lines as an everyday apart of political life.  I expect barracking form political opponents, and indeed as a Welsh Liberal Democrat even occasionally from fellow members as we are a party of diverse views.

One thing that really, really annoys me though is those people who do so anonymously.

I am a great believer in free speech and the right of everyone to have a view and express it.  But please have the decency to put your name to it.

One such letter appeared in this week’s Pontypridd Observer.  It was in response to a letter from a member of ours which appeared last week.  The respondent made a cursory mention of my colleague, only really to say he should be ashamed of admitting he is a Lib Dem.  The rest of the letter was a predictable rant about how we are supporting the Tories and everything is our fault.

It ended “name and address withheld.”

Why do the press print such letters?  I can see the point of withholding a name if there is a serious fear of recrimination over the contents.  But the publishing of such letters attacking other people when the author is too afraid to put his / her own name to it should not, in my view, be allowed.

Likewise the appearance of blog comments by anonymous contributors.  If you want to be taken seriously then you need to come clean.

Are Councillors worth the money?

There has been a great deal of outrage in some quarters recently over the continuing saga of Russell three jobs Roberts (or however many he has these days) and the substantial amount of money he takes from the public purse.  I won’t use the word ‘earns’ because in my view he certainly doesn’t do that.
As reported here he was paid more than £1,800 a week from the public purse in 2010-11.  Certainly not a new situation - old three jobs (or is it four) has been at it for some time.
Is this exorbitant?  Yes.  Should it be stopped?  Undoubtedly.  Is he worth that salary?  No way.
Yet there are some people who would go completely the other way and claim that Councillors should not be paid at all - they should do it out of the goodness of their hearts.  Strangely enough these people are usually those who never put their head above the parapet and actually get involved in any way.  They prefer to snipe from the sidelines and use the old adage that ‘they’re all the same.’
As has been clearly stated by the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales the role of a Councillor is regarded as a job.  In their initial report they stated that the role of a Councillor

“has inevitably become more complex over recent years as local government has moved from being primarily a service provider towards a model which more strongly emphasises its leverage, brokering and influencing role.”

In outlining this role they conclude that:
o    Councillors view their role in representing their community as one of the most important parts of their work and it is widely agreed that this role is time-consuming and demanding. Councillors can spend considerable time each week on ward work.
o    The role of community leader is also important both formally through councillors sitting on bodies such as local community groups and also by acting as a focus for community action.
o    Councillors have an important role as the link between the council and partner organisations. It is recognised that often a community issue cannot be dealt with in isolation and councillors (and indeed the council as an organisation) need to work in partnership with other public and voluntary sector bodies.
o    Councillors also make an important contribution as members of other bodies.
In relation to the question of payment they say that
“We feel strongly that the role of the councillor across Wales should be respected as a professional one.”

Their initial determination was that
“That the Basic Allowance be reset in line with the All Wales full-time male and female median salary which in 2008/2009 was £22,115 pa. In this alignment, remunerated public service set at the equivalent of three working days per week, results in an (indicative) Basic Allowance of £13,269 pa.”
In respect of Cabinet / Executive Members (including leaders Russell) then the clearly expressed intention was that they should be full time and that would be reflected in the level of payment.
Now I have absolutely no problem with the concept of Councillors getting paid a fair rate for the job, and I consider the basic rate to be fair.  I also have no real problem with the rates of Cabinet Member and Leader but they should in return be doing the job full time and not topping it up by sitting on other bodies which take them away from Council duties.  That is reflected in the submission made by RCT Welsh Liberal Democrat Councillors to the Panel’s various consultations.
Being a Councillor is not easy.  If done properly then it involves a considerable amount of work, and it is a thankless task – there is always someone waiting to have a dig.  Maybe if more of those who spend so much time criticising got off their backsides and did something useful then they would have more respect for those who currently do.