Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Todd, come in! It's past your bedtime

Pets will now have 5 freedoms enshrined by law. Well, that sounds lovely and fluffy, just like tummy of a kitten, but shall we think about this.

Firstly, the RSPCA haven't called for such legislation - there are already animal cruelty legislations in UK law. Secondly, when I studied law we were taught that rights come with responsibilities. That is why parents undertake many actions for children and are responsible for them, and under 18 year olds don't vote in elections.

The practicalities of this do seem rather anti-pet, too. My cat has a right to have a cordened off area to do a poo, but I have to make sure he comes in at night. My cat, Todd, is rather more bright than most. Firstly, he does no work and gets looked after like a king. He also had a vote in this years Conservative party leadership elections. (he voted for David Cameron). When he wants a poo he tends to go outside as that is rather more private than most. Okay, the neighbours may not like that extra large truffle on their rhubarb, but that's cats for you. He's nocternal and a hunter - he sleeps during the day and goes out at night and he doesn't want to be locked up because the Labour party thinks that he should have to. Mind you, maybe it's not too long until he's not allowed to hunt....

Shouldn't the government be concentrating on the abysmal state of the NHS or the worryingly high levels of adult illiteracy rather than trying to make household pets the subject of costly legislation which can't be inforced and doesn't need to be in place?

Are the cast of Watership down going to be knocking on my front door to inspect health and safety standards around the food bowls? Will Lassie be monitoring my phone conversations to make sure I am not planning on letting Todd out after nine in the evening? Is David Blunkett's dog going to become a cabinet minister?

Friday, January 20, 2006

first bras, now shoes...what's a girl to do?

Well, Peter Mandelson isn't going to be the one to answer that, is he. Not sure how varied his knowledge of all things female is.

A glance the other day in my copy of 'forthcoming items of legislation' and my eager eyes spotted the words 'shoes' followed by imports. A day or two later, and Eliab sends me this from the European Foundation's Newsround:

Now It’s Shoe Wars

By Svetlana Subbotina

Shoe-producing EU members are lobbying for anti-dumping duties on shoe imports from China, which now take up about a quarter of the EU shoe market. The EU Trade Commissioner, Peter Mandelson, is resisting demands from domestic producers worried about their profits. Imports from China went up by 322 per cent during the first nine months of 2005 after quotas were lifted on January 1 2005. EU officials observed that dumping — exporting goods to another country and selling them at prices lower than one charges at home — is not linked to the volume of imports.

A separate source suggested that the price of Chinese shoes plummeted from €13.8 to €7.7 per unit which could mean shoes are being sold at prices below the cost of production. China called these figures “flawed” and threatened to refer the EU to the WTO if tariffs for Chinese goods are introduced. European shoe retailers also said that action against Beijing would threaten some 600,000 European jobs. Sales would also go down leaving price rises of up to €20 per unit.

Well, if they are charging below the cost of production then the WTO need to get involved. However, had price ever really been the issue when it come to shoes. Potatoes, yes: normal goods with quantity inversely related to price. Shoes aren't quite the same, though. Many people like the fact that their shoes cost lots of wonga - they are status goods and, rather like with Chanel handbags (not LV, though) the more expensive they are, the more they are demanded. I don't think that just counts for ladies shoes either - I cold get a Gina pair and some Jimmy's for the price of one pair of mens shoes (and they are no where near as pretty).

I think that most of these queries from China are more to do with the protectionist attitude of the EU and their failure to grasp free trade.

Let's face it, when it comes to reality, the EU institutions either have their heads in the sand, or stuck somewhere else where the views of the people of Europe can't reach them.

More on that tomorrow.