Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Living in a world that blames other people - Scapegoats - History - Taking Responsibility

Yesterday an 8 year old domestic servant's child died in a friend of a friend's pool. She couldn't swim. Only the domestic servant and her child were in the house. Who is responsible for this accident? The pool? The child? The mother? The owners of the house? The Government? Legislation? Who?

As far as we know, the domestic worker is blaming the home owner, but even if the pool had a fence, the child would have been tall enough to open the special hook on the gate.

We have a swimming pool. Our pool is surrounded by walls. When we have guests we ensure that someone is watching the pool at all times. Or we keep the house gates locked and we keep everyone inside. As it is our house gates are locked most of the time, so no one can get to our pool unless they climb over a wall.

We don't have a net. And even if we did, the child could get tangled in it and still drown, whilst the parent fumbles around trying to untangle the kid from the net. So much easier to just dive in and save the child. Unless you have a "hard net". Or a pool fence. Or a set of doors that lead to the pool that are locked.

The day a child almost died in our pool is a memory. We had about 30 friends for a braai one day, with adults and children all over the place. A small child had somehow experienced difficulties, and another child saved him! I wasn't watching because I was braaing. My wife wasn't watching. We assumed that the parents, who were standing next to the pool eating, were watching. But for the split seconds it takes for someone to drown, another child was there to save the child.

We need to all be careful around water. BLAME is the name of the game in our world. It is always someone else's fault, the government, our friends, our parents, someone of a particular religious persuasion, whoever. Time for us all to take responsibility for our actions!! And then Cape Town, South Africa, Africa, and the world will be a so much better place.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

The South African Flood

South Africa has a number of problems, which are starting to flood and overwhelm the tax payer. President Zuma, in his state of the nation address proudly said that there are 15 million employed people and 16 million people getting grants. Some people say a family needs R30,000 per month just to survive. Perhaps because 70% of our taxes, ie rates, taxes, electricity, water, transport, etc, prices are going to grants, and funding such as free electricity, free rates, free transport, free housing, etc. Under this regime, people get a free house and then say its to small!! If only jobs could be created, South Africans would be so much better off and we would all feel much better off. But how to stop this flood?

1) Eskom can only supply about 30% of South Africa's current electricity demand. So many companies have to move elsewhere to get electricity. Hence the reason why our top 40 companies are doing so well, but the SA economy is doing so badly. Almost all the top 40 are slowly moving operations off shore to get electricity and other benefits.

2) We have an incredibly stringent labour regime, which inhibits employing people. With close to 40% unemployment you would think that SMME's would be able to hire and fire people just like in the USA! But we can't so we don't employ. Also the unions protect employed people whilst doing Nothing for unemployed people. Unfortunately the unemployed people don't see this.

3) We have incredibly high electricity, water, rates, transport and other input costs or overhead costs. Our prices are already higher than in China, India and Texas!! Hence companies are moving their operations to places that are cheaper.

4) 20 years into our "democracy" or perhaps we should call it One Party State, we have to employ people in a BEE regime. BEE was historically used to redress the wrongs caused by minorities not being employed. But here they are used to employ the majority. And in many cases where these people aren't fit for the jobs. Hence the huge spending on consultants.

5) The school system has been changed several times since 1994, and each time standards have been lowered. Have you heard my "joke": Why do we have grades now? Because there are no standards!

6) Having said all this, we still live in the most beautiful place on earth, with an abundance of natural resources including wind, sun, water, wave, sea, minerals, people, etc. If only we could get our act together and make use of all this stuff locally, rather than exporting everything and then wondering why we have to import finished goods and food.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Saving for a rainy day

We put money away for a rainy day.

We have insurance to cover us if something gets stolen or if our house burns down or if our property is damaged.

We have pension plans.

So from these things that we do, we can see that we think about the future and we prepare for it.

However, we are really only between 2 and 4 days away from catastrophe at any time! So why are we planning for events in perhaps 30 years time, but not being prepared for events tomorrow?

So what can possibly go wrong in the next few days which should concern us?

Our electricity supply is becoming more and more precarious. Eskom should be able to supply 42 GW of electricity but on a regular basis it can only supply only around 30 GW. The grid infrastructure is overloaded which puts a large burden on transformers which are reaching end of life in half of their usual life, ie 12 years life instead of 25 years life.

Our grid itself is behind with maintenance and many of our power stations are already beyond end of life and are being kept running, but who knows when they might break.

Our best coal is exported and we use poor grade coal in our own power stations, and everyone knows what happens to their car engines when they use poor grade oil in them!

And then Eskom have shown for since Koeberg was built in the 1970's that they cannot manage the build of new power stations which usually take years longer to build and are usually 50 to 100% over budget, yet we continue to allow this.

With all this damage being done to our system, willingly or unwillingly, we are placed in a dilemma.

If our electricity supply is suddenly switched off the following will happen very quickly:
  1. Most people are meat eaters. They won't be able to cook their food, unless they have reserves of braai wood. They will get hungry.
  2. Backup generators will kick in. Many of these only have 16 hours of reserves which is seen as more than sufficient under normal circumstances, e.g. expected power failures of 1 to 4 hours a day.
  3. After 16 hours the Backup generators will stop working.
  4. Petrol pumps won't be able to operate because they rely on electricity. All transport will stop within days. There is only 4 days of food in our supply chain, and without transport, our just-in-time systems will not be able to be replenished. And there won't be transport to get diesel to our backup generators.
  5. Water pumps won't be able to operate because they rely on electricity. So we will be without water very quickly. We won't have drinking water and we won't be able to flush our toilets. And we can survive for 2 weeks without food, but we cannot survive for 2 days without water. How many people have got water backup at their houses and businesses?
  6. Within days, fridges and freezes will get hot and food stored in them will be useless.
  7. Within one to four days there will be a complete breakdown in all forms of civil obedience. Hungry, desperate people, who normally aren't violent, will suddenly become violent as they search for food and water.
So should we care? And what solutions are at hand?

Our politicians know these answers, but they aren't telling us. Why?

Renewable Energy isn't only about electricity. It is also about water, about food, and about self sufficiency. So renew your energy and keep yourselves secure.

Security Systems

Note the house in the middle of the water. This guy wanted to actually build the house 2 feet higher than it is and the planners said no! So he said, ok, and he built his own Berm around his property. The neighbours laughed at him until it started raining!

We need to protect ourselves from events that can happen this year, before we concern ourselves about retirement! And if we have systems to supply our own water and electricity and deal with our own sewerage, then we will in effect already be retired for these components of our existence.

What if these bad winter storms and terrible weather in the UK and USA hit South Africa in our coming Winter? It could be much hotter (like in Sochi) and it could be much colder and wetter.

The only way we can protect ourselves is if we decide that local water and electricity backup should be a core component of our security protection systems, just like alarms, gates, insurance, etc.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Who wants to be saved?

In the following video the former Chief Rabbi of England tells us exactly where our problem is:

i.e. in a very simple sense, we just need to work together. I said this here:

So as long as we blame and have expectations that someone else will save us, the current politics will ensue. As soon as we take responsibility for ourselves, we will be saved.



Saturday, 1 February 2014

The law.

Has anyone read the article in the Tabletalk (or the other free local papers) about the guy who wants to recycle the Turpentine? And he wrote to OffMyTrolley (Brian Joss) to ask what to do and Brian wrote to the City (Water department, etc) and asked what to do.

The City of Cape Town says there is nothing they can do to help because there is no law about Turpentine recycling!!

If we need laws for everything we do, then I think it is time for new leadership.

Doing the right thing should be way above the law! The reason the City wants to develop Princess Vlei and the Philippi Horticultural Area is because they can do this in terms of the law they uphold, but are they doing the right thing? And what about the law for the rest of us? Why are there different "laws"?

So the law is the law, but it doesn't imply ethics and it doesn't imply responsibility and it doesn't imply doing the right thing!