Yes folks, anything America can do Britain can do better, or worse as the case may be.
I’ve written previously about the pathetic failures of the Obamacare web site which seemed to be down more often than up at a time when people were desperately trying to register for this new, unnecessary, and far too expensive Obama initiative.
Well, not to be out done, Britain has managed to do more or less the same thing – again!
What I’m talking about here is the British government’s catastrophic record when it comes to computerization.
The flagship of their lack of achievement still has to be the $10 billion system it commissioned to computerize their Health Service which was promptly thrown into the trash when it failed to deliver on almost all levels.
And it has done it again.
The British government recently decided to do away with the 90 year old paper tax disc that had to be displayed on a car windscreen in order to be legal for road use. They also decided it would be more efficient (I can hear you laughing already) if they computerized the whole system so that people could apply for and pay this tax online rather than having to go to a government office or use the postal service.
So it decided to rebuild its Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) website.
And they did. And when it launched it immediately went tits up (that’s British for fell over, stopped working, failed, flatlined, collapsed).
The new system just couldn’t cope with demand for its service as thousands of drivers rushed to use it to renew their car tax.
Frustrated citizens were met with the message
Embarrassingly, they even had to take the web site and phone services completely offline in an attempt to fix the technical cock-up, resorting instead to tweeting lame apologies all day Monday.
Of course the debacle was blamed on “unprecedented demand”, so really it was the public’s fault for using the system rather than the system being inadequate for a number of users that should have been easily anticipated if they had put any thought into at all.
Hundreds of commercial organizations have web sites – some very popular with millions of visitors – operating 24/7 with very little, if any, problems.
Why can’t governments do the same.
In particular why do they persist with a tendering system that leads them to employ companies who are incapable of doing a good job.
Could it be that those in government are incapable too???
I talked before about the bureaucrat’s insatiable desire to make things more difficult, awkward and expensive for legitimate businesses in America and Europe. That’s all they know how to do. I’ve also said before that introducing ever more taxes and regulations on bricks & mortar businesses would not be enough. They would have to try to destroy businesses operating online as well.
Well that latter attempt at destroying what is left of American entrepreneurship moved up another notch this week when the US Senate passed the “Marketplace Fairness Act”.
I’ll come back to that in a moment, but the title of this latest piece of needless bureaucratic interference illustrates perfectly once again the deceitfulness of the politicians and bureaucrats.
The “Marketplace Fairness Act” is not about “fairness”. It is not about leveling the playing field between those businesses operating online and those on the proverbial “High Street”. Anyone who tells you that is lying. (Really, a politician lying? Whatever next?)
Like all similar legislation, the “Marketplace Fairness Act” is about control; about making life more difficult for people who want to do business; and, not least, about trying to extort the last penny out of your pocket in the form of taxes.
I say “your” pocket, because at the end of the day businesses have to pass their increased costs on to the final consumer and that my friends is us!
Yes, the “Marketplace Fairness Act” has just been passed by the US Senate. As these things do, it still has to pass through the House of Representatives as well, and it will, if not on the first attempt on subsequent ones. Have you ever seen a stupid bad law that wasn’t pushed through by fair means or foul?
What the “Marketplace Fairness Act” does is to impose sales taxes for business transactions or sales done online. In other words, when you buy something from an online retailer, or a retailer with an online facility, you will be subject to the addition of a sales tax.
In the simplest terms, for you, the consumer, this Bill means that your bills will be bigger – you will have to pay more! For the business operating online it means more bureaucracy, more forms to fill out, more tax filings to be done – in short more hassle.
But for the government it means more money to be squandered on another war or on the next idiotic idea that Washington can think of.
And another unfairness that the Marketplace Fairness Act will create is that online businesses operating outside the United States will be laughing their tax free socks off.
You see this law will not – cannot – apply to foreign companies who do business online and sell to US-based consumers.
Why? Because the US authorities have no practical way to enforce it, and because businesses in foreign countries couldn’t care less about enforcing it, nor will their governments.
Do you seriously think for one moment that either businesses or governments in, for example, China, or India, or even Mexico are going to waste their time collecting sales tax for Uncle Sam?
So if I was setting up an online business would I still do it in America? I think you know the answer.
You could be forgiven for asking whether these dumb politicians and bureaucrats are really trying to make America a better place or just trying to destroy it!
I did a few posts recently about the resignation of pope Benedict and the election of Francis I (here and here ) and that reminded me of something that happened in the way distant past of the internet. In fact it became the first internet hoax.
I am sure a great many of you are far too young to remember this, so here is the story.
Sometime in early 1994 a press release began circulating around the internet claiming that Microsoft had bought the Roman Catholic Church.
The press release, allegedly from the Vatican City itself, announced that this was “the first time a computer software company has acquired a major world religion.”
The release also quoted Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates as saying that he considered religion to be a growth market and that, “The combined resources of Microsoft and the Catholic Church will allow us to make religion easier and more fun for a broader range of people.”
The deal would allow Microsoft to acquire exclusive electronic rights to the Bible and would make the sacraments available online.
Similarities were drawn between the business practices of Microsoft and the Catholic Church’s historical conversion efforts, claiming that throughout history the Church, like Microsoft, had been “an aggressive competitor, leading crusades to pressure people to upgrade to Catholicism, and entering into exclusive licensing arrangements in various kingdoms whereby all subjects were instilled with Catholicism, whether or not they planned to use it.”
At the time very few seemed to get the joke. Stained Glass Windows 3.1 was not in fact about to be launched, but still many people telephoned Microsoft’s public relations agency to inquire if the news was true.
In the end it got so bad that Microsoft had to issue a formal denial of the release on December 16, 1994.
A follow-up hoax release announced that in response to Microsoft’s acquisition of the Catholic Church, IBM had bought the Episcopal Church.
Since then hoaxes on the internet have gone from strength to strength, from end of the world scenarios, thru Nigerian 419 scams to the plethora of “warn all you friends about this new deadly virus (that doesn’t really exist)” hoaxes.
People were dumb, are dumb and will get dumber!
I have reproduced below the original hoax announcement.
Would you have fallen for it?
If you are reading this blog I doubt it. But read it anyway for amusement value.
By the way, the authors of these hoaxes remain unknown – good for them.
Here it is:
MICROSOFT BIDS TO ACQUIRE CATHOLIC CHURCH
By Hank Vorjes
VATICAN CITY (AP) — In a joint press conference in St. Peter’s Square this morning, MICROSOFT Corp. and the Vatican announced that the Redmond software giant will acquire the Roman Catholic Church in exchange for an unspecified number of shares of MICROSOFT common stock. If the deal goes through, it will be the first time a computer software company has acquired a major world religion.
With the acquisition, Pope John Paul II will become the senior vice-president of the combined company’s new Religious Software Division, while MICROSOFT senior vice-presidents Michael Maples and Steven Ballmer will be invested in the College of Cardinals, said MICROSOFT Chairman Bill Gates.
“We expect a lot of growth in the religious market in the next five to ten years,” said Gates. “The combined resources of MICROSOFT and the Catholic Church will allow us to make religion easier and more fun for a broader range of people.”
Through the MICROSOFT Network, the company’s new on-line service, “we will make the sacraments available on-line for the first time” and revive the popular pre-Counter-Reformation practice of selling indulgences, said Gates.
“You can get Communion, confess your sins, receive absolution — even reduce your time in Purgatory — all without leaving your home.” A new software application, MICROSOFT Church, will include a macro language which you can program to download heavenly graces automatically while you are away from your computer.
An estimated 17,000 people attended the announcement in St Peter’s Square, watching on a 60-foot screen as comedian Don Novello — in character as Father Guido Sarducci — hosted the event, which was broadcast by satellite to 700 sites worldwide.
Pope John Paul II said little during the announcement. When Novello chided Gates, “Now I guess you get to wear one of these pointy hats,” the crowd roared, but the pontiff’s smile seemed strained. The deal grants MICROSOFT exclusive electronic rights to the Bible and the Vatican’s prized art collection, which includes works by such masters as Michelangelo and Da Vinci. But critics say MICROSOFT will face stiff challenges if it attempts to limit competitors’ access to these key intellectual properties.
“The Jewish people invented the look and feel of the holy scriptures,” said Rabbi David Gottschalk of Philadelphia. “You take the parting of the Red Sea — we had that thousands of years before the Catholics came on the scene.”
But others argue that the Catholic and Jewish faiths both draw on a common Abrahamic heritage. “The Catholic Church has just been more successful in marketing it to a larger audience,” notes Notre Dame theologian Father Kenneth Madigan. Over the last 2,000 years, the Catholic Church’s market share has increased dramatically, while Judaism, which was the first to offer many of the concepts now touted by Christianity, lags behind.
Historically, the Church has a reputation as an aggressive competitor, leading crusades to pressure people to upgrade to Catholicism, and entering into exclusive licensing arrangements in various kingdoms whereby all subjects were instilled with Catholicism, whether or not they planned to use it.
Today Christianity is available from several denominations, but the Catholic version is still the most widely used. The Church’s mission is to reach “the four corners of the earth,” echoing MICROSOFT’s vision of “a computer on every desktop and in every home”.
Gates described MICROSOFT’s long-term strategy to develop a scalable religious architecture that will support all religions through emulation. A single core religion will be offered with a choice of interfaces according to the religion desired — “One religion, a couple of different implementations,” said Gates.
The MICROSOFT move could spark a wave of mergers and acquisitions, according to Herb Peters, a spokesman for the U.S. Southern Baptist Conference, as other churches scramble to strengthen their position in the increasingly competitive religious market.