Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Universities and the Arms Trade

Today I was witness to something that annoyed me. No different to any other day, really, but this time I felt like bringing it up here.

A course-mate of mine was lamenting the expensive prices of parking and food at University and how it was 'unfair'. I managed to maintain a semblance of non-anger and went on to try and point out the main issue.

That is, of course, our old friend Capitalism.

I asked them why they thought things were expensive. With no actual answer forthcoming, I have a brief description of Universities as altruistic organisations. I.e. They're not.

Depending on your level of involvement in UK politics there are several issues you may be aware of. The most public issue is probably that of top-up fees. More money from students supposedly funding education of a higher calibre.

However, if you're a little more involved in politics you may be aware of lecturer protests, walk outs and strikes over the last few years. The conditions which the lecturers protested over have not changed and there are few real plans for them to change, so what is this extra money for?

Certainly not to pay lecturers.

No, Universities are monetary beings like any company or business in this country. They want to make money to invest in themselves - for research projects which could lead to prototypes which could be sold, for example. This investment, in a perfect world, leads to more money and more investment.

But they do not, of course, always invest it in themselves to make money.


I became aware of this little issue a few years ago, and it's irked me ever since. Don't get me wrong - weapons are a fact of life. Violence and conflict happen all over the world and most people want to be equipped with the finest killing machines they can afford. Sort of ups the chance of victory.

But the fact that Universities are getting extra cash from students and, effectively, pumping part of it into arms companies to make more money to pay the lavish salaries of Vice Chancellors just doesn't sit right with me.

Of course I didn't go into this detail with them. They couldn't get over the fact they had to pay 4 pound for a pork chop and chips.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Nursing, Blogging and Hypocrisy

These things are sort-of linked, sort-of independent, but I decided to write one big entry for them all.

Blogging, first. Or rather Facebooking, which I'm sure should become a word soon, the amount of time people spend on it.

We were informed some nursing students had been using foul language on Facebook to talk about their courses. How someone would go about this I'm not sure. Wall posts? Posted items?

Anyway, one of our tutors said they would be taking it up with the NMC (Which is why I'm glad I'm anonymous on this thing, not that I'd use bad language about my course, of course...) which was a bit weird. Maybe they think effing and blinding is pushing freedom of speech a bit too far.

So that was funny. Which made me think more about nursing, and how perhaps big wigs don't want the public to hear misery. Which is fair enough, in a way, but also a bit ridiculous in the censorship sense, I suppose.

One of my tutors, who is a bit of a legend (but mid-table on the sexism front) was talking about behaviour within the NHS and basically how you should never lie down and take the treatment doled out from management. Always fill in a form, always cause a fuss is something is wrong. I like it.

Now, hypocrisy.


"Shared values".

I think Kim is saying a lot more than he meant.

These two countries do share both a love of money and oppression, I'll give him that. This country wants to kill terrorists and Saudi Arabia wants to murder them, or people like them. And frequently does. But that's where a great deal of "shared values" end.

Given that Saudi Arabia has had several damning reports into it's human rights reports I think the Government even attempting to pull wool over our eyes is slightly humorous if not downright offensive.

I may actually vote for the Lib Dems if they keep doing things like Vince Cable has done, i.e. refused to meet with the King or whoever out of protest. ..

Now, before any cynics tell me that the country - realistically - needs links to Saudi Arabia I'll just point out that I'm well aware of this unfortunate point. It doesn't mean I have to like it. And it doesn't mean that the government should lie about it.

Or, in fact, bend the rules of British and International law to quash any investigation into the corrupt BAE sales of military equipment. Maybe these "shared values" extend to corruption just to make a big pile of money. Both countries love to do that...